Friday, September 30, 2011


I'm a news junkie, which often clashes with my lack of patience.  (ADD?)  I'll read a headline, and if the topic interests me I'll read more.  Then if the first couple of paragraphs still interests me I'll read the whole thing.  I hate it when the headline reads, "10 Best Places to...." or "10 Money Saving Tips", then when you try to read more they bury the list of "10 Best" deep in the article.   Really?  Why do they tempt me like that then hold back?   What a cruel tease.

I've got it figured that the authors are women, probably the very same women who teased me as an adolescent.  Starting in about the 7th or 8th grade I had a tough time "concentrating", if you know what I mean.  (Is that you Sue?  Melody?)  I don't think its gotten any easier with a few more candles on the cake, either.  I wonder if I have a note taped to the back of my shirt that says "Tease Me"?

Changing tack, today K and I both took the day off to go to the Foat Wuth Music Festival.  K gave me (us) 2 VIP tickets for my birthday.  Lots of jazz/blues artists including one of my faves, Marcia Ball, will be there along with artists showing off their arts & crafts as well as some food trucks.  I hope I'm not disappointed by the food trucks.  I have visions of some really unique cuisines served up by the kind of trucks featured on the Food Network.   I hope it's not something like "Manuel's Maggot Wagon".  I see those every day on construction sites.  Yuck!  Surely not.

I'll have pictures to share tomorrow.



Thursday, September 29, 2011

Easy day ahead

Today will be a blow-off day if there ever was one.  Today from 9am to 1pm I'm attending a class explaining the new IRC (International Residential Code) that goes into effect soon.  Every few years the deadwood engineers at the building code writing board update things, which is just an exercise they go through to show their bosses they actually DO something that's worth a paycheck.  

If you read the code you'd wonder if they had personally ever built even so much as a dog house.  Their college textbooks might have said XX, but no one ever tried to sync the world of academia with the real world we live in.  It's a farce!  Building inspectors will tell you their inspections are based on their interpretation of the code, and that's what causes problems for builders.   One inspector's interpretation will often not match another inspector's interpretation.  One inspector requires something, another prohibits it.  They're pretty much making it up as they go along.  (Another reason houses cost so much.)

Oh well.  I'll sit through their class, nod and smile, and eat the lunch provided.  It's supposed to be 99 degrees again today, and I'll be in a cool classroom.  Could be worse.  ;)


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The root of all evil.... money*, and who has all the money?  The BANKS!  

Funny how bank shenanigans were in the news multiple times today.  First was a report that banks were rapidly piling on more fees, putting the screws to us deeper than ever.  Free checking will soon go the way of the dinosaur, and fees to use bank debit cards are becoming more widespread, too.  Remember when banks used to be satisfied making the spread between what they charged us on loans and what they paid us on deposits?  Hahahaha!  There's another one for the history books.

The second mention concerned how Europe's rapidly deepening debt crisis is coming ever closer to engulfing us here on this side of the pond, too.  Seems the origin of the problem there was....ta da....the BANKS! Always looking to make a fast buck (or couple 'o BILLION bucks), they offered cheap money to the second tier European countries, knowing that the first tier European countries would ride to the rescue if it ever hit the fan.  And now it has, and they probably will.  

So the banks / bankers made BILLIONS, will probably ultimately write off some of it, pay a few hundred million in fines, and escape Scott free with the rest, unscathed.  No jail time for the scoundrels (who no doubt knew exactly what they were doing but didn't care), no public lynchings, nothing.  They can just ride off into the sunset and enjoy their happy, posh retirement.

Boy are we taxpayers (around the world) saps.


*It's in the Bible.  Look it up.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Social dysfunction

What is it with people these days?  They seem to have a difficult time looking you in the eye, shaking your hand, or speaking real words in your general direction.  A friend's daughter is beginning her Masters program at Penn State....except she lives in Dallas.  It's all online.  No face-to-face interaction required. 

I read recently about the all-out war taking place between the airlines who covet their full-fare business travelers and the teleconferencing movement where people can hold meetings via big screen TV's a world apart and dispense with travel all-together.  Does this count as face-to-face interaction?  (I'm inclined to give it a thumbs down.) 

I called a vendor today to say I had a set of blueprints for him to come pick up for a bid.  He said, "Can't you just send me the pdf file?"  Ummm...NO!  I want you to drag your fat ass to my office and sit down in front of me where I can point out several peculiarities of the plan and explain how I want it handled.  Dammit, I want some face-to-face interaction.

Today I sent my stonemason to my daughter and SIL's house to reface their den fireplace.  Donnie kept sending me questions via text message, and after a few text replies I just said to hell with it and called him.  It would have taken 15 minutes to text all we said back and forth, but 30 seconds to just say it over the phone.  I fail to see anything "efficient" about text messaging.  I see it as an excuse to NOT have any face-to-face interaction.  I don't get it.

The idea of the computer geek with the pasty complexion living, going to school, and later working out of Mama's basement might be more real than imaginary.  A "friend" is just a thumbnail photo and a 25 word bio.  If it wasn't for online dating services I suspect the birth rate would drop to zero.  (They do require them to eventually meet face-to-face, don't they?  As in a real "date"?)  Seems like a pretty dismal way to live.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mother Nature is just jerkin' my chain

After a few days of cool weather last week and even a little rain, and after officially ushering in autumn last Friday, I allowed myself to be lulled into thinking summer was over.  Ummm....not quite.  Today it was up to 95 degrees.  Not 107 thank God, but come on.  Enough already!

I have a new GoreTex light parka that really needs to be tried out.  A short backpacking trip later this year when it's cooler might be nice, but as K doesn't have a good sleeping bag (yet), timing is touchy.  I've stayed toasty warm in mine when it was in single digits outside, but K doesn't have as much natural "insulation" as I do.  And I don't think her comfort range is as wide as mine.  I'll need to get her toughened up for our eventual move to the mountains.  I wish I could say that would be next year, but honestly I don't think it can happen that soon.  I wish I was a patient person, but I'm not.  Grrrrrr....


Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's a sweet gig if you can get it!

The headline on the USAToday story read, "Gov't paid $600 million to dead employees".  My question:  How can you tell a dead government employee from a live one?

It was a story about how retired or disabled government employees received benefits even after they were dead if their demise wasn't reported to "the system".  In one case benefits were paid for 37 years after the guy went stiff.  ( that's how you can tell the difference!)  The Feds discovered this flaw in their system in a 2005 audit report, but didn't want to be bothered with fixing it until now.   Too much effort, and besides, it's just money.

I'm not making this up.  ;)


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Don't vote....It'll just encourage the bastards!

So lemme get this straight....we have a HUGE deficit which needs to be addressed before our economy can begin growing and new jobs can be created.  At least that's what the Republicans are trying to tell us. We can cut spending, but that won't cut the deficit enough.  We could at the same time raise taxes on those with lottsa money, but the Republicans tell us NO, NO, NO, that would be a job killer.  The rich need to keep their money so they can use it to CREATE NEW JOBS. 

But in reality what's happening?  The rich, and the companies they have major investments in / control over, are buying up everything in sight.  Texas Instruments is buying National Semiconductor, AT&T is trying to buy T Mobile, Google bought Motorola Mobility, United Airlines bought Continental, Delta Airlines bought Northwest, Southwest Airlines bought Airtran, United Technologies bought Goodrich, Kraft bought Cadbury, and in turn sold off part of itself to Nestle.  The list of mergers and acquisitions goes on and on.  I'm now waiting for troubled Bank of America to be gobbled up by....who knows?

Have any of these consolidations CREATED any new jobs?  NO!  They just lead to MORE LAYOFFS.  It's called "synergy".  Less payroll going to employees, more profits going to THEM.  Many companies are even reporting RECORD profits.  I guess it could be said that some of the laid-off employees who had shares in their own company (former company?) might benefit a bit on paper, but at what cost?  


Methinks the Republicans are feeding us a line of Grade A Prime BULLSHIT.  And the Democrats aren't even creative enough to do that!


Bring it on

My dad told the story of how when I turned 12 I told people I was "twelve-teen" because I wanted to be a teenager so badly.  In that same spirit I'm calling today "autumn-eve" because I want fall to get here so badly.  (I think it officially arrives tomorrow morning at o-dark-thirty.)  Our forecast for today: high temperature of 81 degrees with a 30% chance of rain.  See....the power of positive thinking!

Last week my Gore-Tex shell jacket arrived from LL Bean, and I went ahead and ordered a few T- and mock turtle neck shirts, too.  The Old Farmers Almanac calls for north Texas to have slightly warmer but wetter weather than normal this winter.  We'll see about that.

Our big remodel job will wrap up tomorrow.  Yea!!  (The building inspectors finally did make an appearance yesterday.)  My brother beat me to the punch, reserving next week for a vacation for himself.  That's OK.  I'll take some time off right after that.  Might even drop in on the State Fair for a Fletcher's Corny Dog.  On a low-cal stick, of course.  ;)


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Waiting....and thinking

I've been sitting here for over 4 hours, waiting for building inspectors to show up. Ahhhh, it must be nice having a do-nothing government job. At least it's given me a chance to catch up on my reading and thinking.

Lot to think about. A potentially HUGE business opportunity is taking shape, so big I'm having trouble wrapping my head around it. It's really too much for my limited amount of gray matter to process. I'd best just take things one day at a time. I hate not being in control. 'Course, if we're really honest with ourselves, we're never truly in control.

So, where was I? Oh yes....waiting. Zzzzzzzzz....


Monday, September 19, 2011

Slow the bus or leave 'em at the station?

I'm reading the new book by Thomas Friedman, That Used To Be Us, where he makes the case that our educational system is a hollow shell of it's former self, pumping out kids who cannot compete in the global economy.  We have dumbed down education over the years because we don't want to "leave any child behind", so we've just slowed the bus to a crawl.  Now we're getting run over.

So should we ramp things up, demand more of our students (and their parents), push 'em harder and accept that more of them aren't going to finish the marathon?  For those that can thrive under those pressures the sky will be the limit, but for those that can't....or won't....they'll be forever trapped in menial, low paying jobs.  It will create an even faster widening of the "have's" and "have nots" gap.

Here's the rub:  Let's be honest....the vast majority of those who can't or won't succeed in the new educational pressure cooker will be minorities, in numbers far greater than their percentage of the population should suggest.   Can you hear the whine of "racism"?

Since these kids are going to wind up in blue collar jobs anyway, why not acknowledge that trade schools have a valuable place in our society and direct those kids there?  And if they can't make it there, well that's just too bad.  The bus has left the station.  Do we have the collective cojones to do that?


Friday, September 16, 2011

When you've only got one day off, you'd better make it count

Let's get the weather out of the way first:  The miserable heat is behind us, and things will only get better from here.  This morning I actually wore a windbreaker to walk the dog as it was in the low-60's with a stiff breeze.  Awesome!

Work drones on, which isn't a bad thing, just a boring thing.  This weekend there are several events going on in town:  Octoberfest in Addison and Grapefest in Grapevine.  I've been to the local Octoberfest before and it was pretty cheesy.  I'm thinking not.  Grapefest might be fun, but it is a VERY kid-oriented town which leads me to think there will be a lot of little kiddletts running around drinking virgin wine coolers.  I think I'd rather go for a back alley discount root canal.  We do have dinner nailed down for tonight.  We're going for The Big Easy Cajun cuisine.  Best seafood gumbo this side of....well....The Big Easy. 

I'm back to working 6 days a week as we now have a house close enough to completion to show to prospective customers.  It's just one of those necessary evils that goes with real estate.  My long weekends, which to me meant Saturday AND Sunday, were nice while they lasted.  Oh well.....

Happy weekend.  :)


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The record is ours!

To paraphrase FDR, today, September 13, 2011 is a date that will live in infamy.  Summertime has come back to Dallas for one last hurrah, and today we break the record making this our hottest year ever.  Today will be the 70th day this year that temperatures have made it into triple-digits.  (We normally have 16 days per year at/over 100.)  I hope this isn't the "new normal".

On top of that, because our overnight low temperatures remained so warm (in the mid-to-upper 80's) in August, Texas has taken the record from the 1950's Dust Bowl Oklahoma as having the hottest month EVER recorded in the US, based on average temperature.

Now for the trifecta:  The drought we're now in is the most severe since such statistics began being kept in 1895.  AND our drought is expected to last into 2012.

I'm surprised bookies aren't taking bets on what's coming next: earthquake, volcanic eruption, or swarming locusts.  Hahaha!


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Italian Car Fest 2011

Ear-to-ear grins for me today.  I was at the Italian Car Fest this morning when the gates opened.  The event was held in a city park in Grapevine, near DFW airport.  About 75 Alfa Romeo's, Ferrari's, Lamborghini's,  Lancia's, Maserati's, Fiat's and a few other low-production cars were represented.  Here's a sampling:

Alfa's all ^

Some nice Maserati's ^

An over-the-top Lamborghini (aren't they all?)  ^

Ferrari's ^

A few "cherry" Fiat's ^

A gratuitous Lancia ^

And my personal favorite ^, a 1964 Alfa Romeo Giulia SS.  Innit cool?

I'll share more later.  Happy weekend, everyone.  :)


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How is this even possible??

I listen to news radio every morning as I drive to work, and every day I hear the same commercial for a certain weight loss clinic.  They have testimonials from people who have had success there, including one lady who claims she's lost 65 pounds and 110 inches.  HUH? 110 inches?  Did she just evaporate?

I thought the way you measure inches was around the chest, waist, and the mythical "36-24-36".  Right?  So how the hell do you lose 110 inches?  What was her chest/bust before?  97DDDDD? Was she two feet tall and nine feet wide?  She must be some world-class freak.  Am I missing something?


Getting closer

As soon as I walked out the door this morning I smelled it....smoke.  Until now all traces of the wildfires raging around Texas have been far enough away that they were only news items, nothing you could see or touch or smell.   No more.  It was well before first light when I went out so I couldn't actually see any haze in the air, but the smell was strong.

Where's a hurricane when you need one?  Actually what we need is a good soaking tropical storm, hopefully a notch shy of being a full-fledged hurricane.  Anything spinning up out in the Gulf of Mexico I haven't heard about?  Our wildfires are so large and out of control I'm not sure they can be stopped by anything but a huge storm.  They're bringing in firefighters from as far away as Alaska and they haven't made a dent it the fires yet.  It's bad.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Another sign

This afternoon while walking the dog I saw this.... acorn, another sign that autumn is slowly-but-surely overtaking summer.  Before long there will be millions of these covering our neighborhood.  With our temperatures in the 60's in the mornings and the 80's in the afternoon, with the newspapers giving us teases about the State Fair that will begin soon, and of course with football everywhere, I actually think I can feel fall.  I like.


More vacation, please

Ugh!!  Monday.  Er...Tuesday.  Whatever it is I don't like it.  Our weather has taken a huge turn for the better and it's far too nice to go to work.  Yesterday morning K and I woke up to find the temp in the 60's, so we went to a local nature preserve and did a 2.5 mile hike on one of their trails.  Later we migrated into Dallas proper where we had lunch al fresco at a dumpy old Hero sandwich shop that makes 'em like in the old days (before Subway).  Then some coffee and a visit to the bookstore, and finally back home.

Once home we sat inside for about 10 minutes and said, "screw this" and went back out again and walked around 'da hood.   We had a cold brew at Gingerman and people-watched for a while.  Later while walking some more we saw a sign in front of a new business opening soon:

It looks to me like it'll be a bar, but K said it was a place that "blows out" women's hair...and apparently serves wine and cocktails at the same time.  This concept makes no sense to me.  They don't color hair, and they don't cut hair, they just "blow it out"?  And get you liquored up?  Well, you'd have to be pretty liquored up to pay someone $35 to do that.  Somebody 'splain it to me.

Today it's just as nice out, but for some perverse reason I'm supposed to go to work.  Ugh!!


Monday, September 5, 2011

This day is for you, Mom

Thank you, Mom....all moms for that matter....for all you've gone through to get us here.  Oh, I know, the morning sickness and dragging us around for 9 months wasn't exactly a picnic, but that whole "labor" thing was really above and beyond.  Hearing stories about what a pain in the a__ I was as a little kid, I can only imagine what you had to endure giving birth to me.  

Actually, the closest I can come is remembering the kidney stones I've had.  I've heard it said they are God's way of punishing men for putting women through labor.  Except my kidney stone was in reality the size of grain of salt, and I thought I was gonna die!  I recoil thinking of popping out a 6 or 8  (or more) pound kid.  Yikes!

So to say "thanks", Congress and I have declared this Labor Day in your honor.  You deserve it.  I love you, Mom.  ;)


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Cars are back!

In response to the multitude of requests that I show more car photos....OK, it was only Doug....I present some interesting finds from today's Cars and Coffee event (always the first Saturday of each month):

An especially nice mildly customized Mini Cooper.  The guy who brought it, and fit in quite comfortably, was at least 250 pounds.

The Mini's contemporary, an East German Trabant.  Says volumes about the virtues of communism, doesn't it?  It looks like the English Bulldog is about to give his opinion of it, too.  ;)

And from across the other pond Datsun sent us this 2000.  It was quite a hot car in its day.

Here's something I might actually be able to afford to both buy and maintain....a super-clean Karman Ghia.  It was actually just a slick body on a plain vanilla VW.

Here's a tiny English-built Metropolitan.  My dad bought one of these for my mom thinking it would be the perfect little car for her to buzz around town it.  She wanted none of it, however, so he drove it for a couple of years until he could buy something better.  This is the type car I learned to drive in.

Side note:  A gorgeous 20-something woman was showing this car to her boyfriend who I think was Italian.  She was pointing out the food tray with the fake hamburger/fries/root beer on it, explaining how in the days before drive-thru's a girl known as a "car hop" would bring it out to the car and attach it to the side of the car.  She said she learned about it from listening to her grandmother.  After hearing that I gave up and exhaled.  ;)

A Triumph Stag.  I was surprised to see this as I thought they had all self-destructed 20 years ago.  "Durability" was just another word at British Leyland.

The Stag's little brother, a TR-6.  This one was very nice, although I was never very fond of the Baby Diaper color.  I sure would like to have one in British Racing Green, though.

Of course there was all of the modern hardware there, too, but around here they are almost passe.  (As you can tell I prefer the old, odd relics, probably because I'm an old, odd relic myself.  Well, "odd" anyway.)  The newest star there was this Lamborghini Aventador ^.  ("Nice car.  Sorry about your penis.")

Gotta go run a few errands before more college football this afternoon.  Y'all have a great day.  :)



Thursday, September 1, 2011

Science confirms it....

At an archeological dig site on the Mall in Washington, DC, scientists have unearthed definitive proof of early Cro-Magnum politicians.  While further testing is underway to determine if the subject was a Democrat or a Republican, officials warn that the differences are so slight they may never be able to tell.  

New "whoa" today

My little chariot has finally told me it's ready for some new "whoa".....that would be "brakes" for any of you non-technical types.  I've been wondering when I would start to hear the tell-tale squeal when I apply the brakes that indicates new ones are needed.  That's known as a wear indicator, and I still haven't heard it.  But for the last 2 days, after I've driven a few miles, a dash light comes on that says "brake" and a chime goes off for a few seconds and then stops.  I checked it out and in true over-the-top German fashion I learned that Audi wear indicators are electronic, and not just a mechanical squeal like on most cars. 

I can't complain, though, as my car has over 84,000 miles on it and still has the original brakes.  I think that's pretty amazing.  And those aren't long stretches of highway miles either, but mostly urban driving. That does include some freeway driving, but they're just as likely to be stop-and-go as 80 mph.

Last night's dinner out with the family was fun.  We ate Mexican, but to keep my diet on track I had a Mexican shrimp cocktail for my entree and some guacamole.  Maybe not the best, but a lot better than it could have been.  

Work and a pocket-picking by my mechanic awaits.  Gotta go.  ;)