Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Fine Choice of Wood Screws

As you can tell from my posts lately, I'm very disillusioned with the direction our country is going and with 62% of Americans agreeing with me, I'm in the majority...except that I seriously doubt we'd agree on the solutions.

Ever since Obama started pushing health care reform and all those on the rabid right started waving tea bags and absurd socialism signs, I've been having some fantasies. If only that man could wave that magic wand and instantly create some more socialism, above and beyond what we've already got (and upon which, the rabid right is heavily dependent).

I'm not as anti-capitalism and free enterprise as my anger lately would indicate. I rather like having a choice when it comes to the food I put in my mouth and the products I use to clean my teeth and hair. Pickles come to mind. Even when it comes to roasted peanuts, I swear I can tell a difference between the Emerald label and my local HEB label. I prefer the local HEB label, and for all I know they come off the same assembly line. I do, however, have major issues with corporate giants gobbling up small producers under their umbrella, all in the name of market share, corporate profits, and pleasing their shareholders.

I think we would could stand to benefit from breaking a few old habits and doing some taste tests and perhaps we could start to wean ourselves away from branded items owned by the likes of P&G, Kraft, PepsiCo, Unilever, and others that are "too big to fail." You know, the shit you think is the best only because you've seen it advertised on television six thousand times vs. the store brand which might cost 20% less but you've never seen it advertised, and therefore it doesn't have that cache of a major corporate label behind it.

As much as I love having choices, there are clearly situations where I have them and honestly don't give a shit. I'm not sure I need 35 different olive oil choices, but since it is a food item, I sure wouldn't want to deprive another person of their personal joy. And besides, some of those labels are small producers, not corporate behemoths, and we need more of those.

When was the last time you went to buy nails at Home Depot and were confronted with a choice between 6 or 7 different manufacturers? And did that lack of selection bother you? Nails are important, as are wood screws. They kinda sorta hold our houses together. But you don't see ads in magazines, or on TV, for either nails or wood screws. And what's out there must be pretty damn good because I've never taken either purchase back for a refund, or driven around to see if Ace sells the same brand as Home Depot. Nor has my house caved in on me. Or the last house, for that matter. Most of us don't much care, nor should we. If it's a quality product, we're happy. If it's not, word will soon spread and another manufacturer will step in to fill the gap.

Another area where I honestly could care less is in the fuel industry. I think we'd be better off if the state owned oil & gas production in the country. Aside from when I was young and using my dad's Conoco credit card, I've never sought out a particular brand of fuel. I've used it all: Exxon/Mobile (before the gay boycott thing started), Texaco, Chevron, BP, Phillips 66, Valero, you name it, I've used it. And you know what? Despite all the pissing contests between them with boasts of Techron, and other bullshit, I can't tell a difference, and I drive a performance sports sedan. I've driven a Honda Civic and I've driven a beat up Toyota Corolla. And not once have I ever said, "Ummm, I'm running on empty but I'm going to pass on that Texaco because there's a Chevron six miles up the road and my baby is jonesin' for some Techron."

I do not care what I put in my car. Call it Amerigo, make it a state-owned monopoly, and you won't get anything but a loud cheer from me. The wasted money on advertising, the corporate executives and shareholders of one fuel company trying to gain market share over another, the mergers and acquisitions in an effort to be numero uno, would all disappear. And good riddance to it. If my car runs, I'm happy. And I think it's safe to say, after the BP disaster, not only do we need to move away from that source sooner rather than later, their interests in alternatives are purely self-serving.

Another area I wouldn't be the least bit sorry to see disappear is the competition in the cell phone arena. Good fucking grief! I remember when I came back from London in 1984 and suddenly the telecommunications industry had been deregulated. I needed to call my parents from a pay phone and had to make a choice of which corporate carrier was going to handle my long-distance call. I didn't give a flying fuck then, and I sure as shit don't give a flying fuck now. "You're using Sprint? Uggh, dude, AT&T is the only way to go...more bars in more places you know?"

Fuck that noise. I have AT&T on my cell phones here in Austin. I keep it because I have my mother on my plan and she lives in southeast Arkansas. I used to have Virgin Mobile and on a trip to my mom's back about 8 or 9 years ago, I didn't have phone service for like 500 miles, including the entire time I was at her house.

Sheldon took his phone to North Dakota this month and had spotty service at best. Maybe Verizon would be better up there. But maybe down here in this valley where we live, Verizon wouldn't work at all, and maybe at my mom's house it would be the best of all. Who knows and who cares, and who wants to spend the time and money trying to figure out which provider is going to handle you best in all the places you need to visit.

Honestly, when I'm on the phone with someone, not once have I ever been able to figure out whether they are using Sprint, Verizon, AT&T or whatever. It doesn't matter! What we want is good service, good bars, and access across the nation. And maybe Canada. The state can seize that industry for all I care, invest in one universal comprehensive area of coverage, we're all on the same network, all one big Amerizon family plan. Easy. Less choices to stress about. Less advertising and competition and pissing contests and unhappy shareholders and executives shitting their britches over market share after dropping from #2 to #3.

And let's throw the banking industry in here while we're at it. Give me one national bank owned by the government with decent interest rates and tellers who are happy because they are paid well since they aren't competing with shareholders demanding dividends and rising stock prices, and have free government health care. Better yet, give me that option and the option to stay with my credit union. Credit unions vs. a national state-owned bank. Fair enough. Stop the gouging with check fees and ATM fees. A check is a check and it moves through the system with ease regardless of whether it's a Chase, Bank of America, or Wells Fargo check. At the very least, regulate the banks, break the behemoths up into regional banks.

I could live without a choice of airlines as well. But then I never fly so I'll spare you my diatribe on that industry. If I needed to fly from Austin to Little Rock, I'd be stopping in either Dallas or Houston regardless of whether I chose Delta, Continental, American, or Southwest, and the fares and taxes are all about the same, so why do I care? It's competitive clutter. Take some of those profits and bonuses going to executives and share it with the underpaid pilots and stewards! How 'bout that?

In my utopian dreamworld of the Evil Socialist Obama, I would drool at the prospect of eliminating the corporations that control our television, radio and newspapers. Allowing corporate conglomerates to monopolize the local media was one of the biggest mistakes ever perpetrated upon an ignorant populace. Why did we stand for this? Why does Clear Channel, based in San Antonio, need to own six radio stations in Memphis and another 850 stations elsewhere? (They also own six stations in the small market of Bismarck, North Dakota!) Oh, stupid me: money for executives and shareholders, and the ease of production-line programming so they can inflict the same stinking pile of overplayed songs on EVERYBODY. Sorry, I took a momentary leave of my senses. Who cares what people in Bismarck or Memphis want to hear? Feed them what they think they need and they'll never know the difference. Most of them are too young to remember real rebel radio anyway. You know, stations with DJs who could get a wild hare up their ass and decide to play Thick as a Brick in its entirety. That was back when radio was actually exciting and unpredictable.

I just get so annoyed with the ridiculous portrayals by the right of President Obama and his "road to socialism." I could show them what a real socialist looks like.

[Insert Descriptive Post Title Here]

A long-time blog buddy (yes, four years is a long time in blogworld!) and Facebook friend took issue with my use of the word "slavery" in yesterday's post title. This morning he wrote in a Facebook message:
Sorry, it doesn't work even as hyperbole. It's an absurd word choice, and it makes me cranky as hell when someone uses it in an anti-corporatist rant. There are many things wrong with our society and its relationship to corporations, but we are all quite free to choose to live differently.

True, it wasn't a great choice of words, particularly if you interpret it literally in the context of American history. We aren't literally owned and sold like chattel at an auction. We still have our constitutional rights, more or less. We are free to pack up and move where we want, provided we have the means, and to pursue an education and any employment for which we are qualified.

However, I was at a loss for words in attempting to convey my rage at the level of influence held by corporations, and I still struggle to find a better word. Beholden? Nah, definitely not strong enough and still conveys some of that slavery essence. And I certainly didn't want to venture into deeper waters by suggesting that we are being raped by corporations, or resorting to disturbing visuals and crass bluntness by saying corporations are fucking us up the ass. I mean, come on! This is a quality, family blog!

Yes, we are all "free to choose to live differently" which differentiates the situation from actual slavery. And therein lies the problem, and I alluded to this in yesterday's post, that "we" aren't making that choice, either due to ignorance, or indifference. A whole bunch of us seem ok with the invasive corporate cancer, preferring instead to whine about it, and blaming our political leaders while clinging to the two-party pendulum as it swings back and forth, gathering millions of corporate dollars along the way which, ironically, we are helping fund each time we choose to do a business transaction with them.

We are free to choose to take corporate power away by making a personal decision to buy local and support small businesses. Absolutely true, but not a very realistic solution on which to hang a hat. That relies on trusting our fellow Americans, at least 80% of them in order to have a loud and meaningful impact, to be astute and make major changes in their purchasing habits. At least those fortunate enough to live in an area where there are choices, and have the ways and the means to do so, have that possibility.

In the thousands of small towns which have been decimated by the presence of Wal-Mart, the choices are extremely limited.

We are also free to throw our support behind any candidate and any political party we choose. Sounds good in theory but the best possible scenario never seems to pan out. Special interest groups with corporate funding can and do toss enough money behind their preferred candidate to drown out any alternatives. And why anyone would decide to vote for candidate A vs. candidate B based on a 30-second radio or television advertisement is beyond my comprehension, but it happens.

Despite all this freedom, and the power we have to radically change our politics, it's rather hard to accomplish when we can't even manage to get 40% of registered voters to turn out in mid-term elections, and a 55% turnout in presidential elections is considered a pretty good year, not that it matters if all those extra voters will vote no differently than the ones who bother to show up routinely.

Our energy policy and dependence on oil is another good example. To say we are slaves to oil might not be true either. We are free to break away from that dependence. Some of us take steps to reduce our consumption, others are able but choose not to, and another segment of society simply cannot do it for financial reasons.

This is precisely why we need government to devise a plan which inflicts pain and cost (yes, there is going to be some of both, so get ready) as fairly as possible in reaching the desired outcome of reduced dependence in the short-term, and green replacements in the long-term. This is not something we can sit around and wait on the private sector to do, nor does it make any sense to have individual states working independently of one another in this endeavor.

Call it what you wish, but we are under an oppressive thumb with the objective being to squeeze us dry to benefit the obscenely wealthy, and some of us are, strangely enough, shaking our pom-poms in fervent support for those groups.

(Off-topic blog note: The Echo comment system is misbehaving badly. FYI.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We Are All Slaves to Corporations

Stop me if you've heard this one before.

For the last few days I've been in one of my pessimistic dark blue funks which have me just wanting to give the hell up on just about everything. Clearly, I'd be better off if I'd just stop watching Michael Moore films because they definitely trigger these feelings of despair. However you may critique his work, his delivery, his attempts to make a citizen's arrest at AIG, or whatever, the bottom line is that he is correct in identifying a huge problem we have in this country which ultimately will lead to our downfall. And if you disagree with that, well, you might be part of the huge problem we have.

I suppose it's very easy for most of us to ignore what's going on, and just ride the awesome wave of life, getting our gravy from whatever work we can find, buying fun shit to distract us, and just observing passively all the things going wrong here, perhaps hoping someone will fix it eventually, and hoping it never directly impacts us in a negative way.

Sometimes I desperately wish I could just turn off and ignore.

I'm at the point where I don't even want to write about politics, whether it's a politician talking out of both sides of their mouth, a Supreme Court ruling, or even a little piece of positive news, rare as that is these days.

As I sit here watching President Obama's approval rating dropping like a stone from the level of 15 months ago, I keep wondering what will happen in the 2010 mid-terms and in the 2012 election. And then I see a poll such as this one, and I simply get bewildered.
Nine in 10 Americans -- including a majority of Republicans, Democrats and independents alike -- think U.S. energy policy either needs fundamental changes or to be completely rebuilt, a new CBS/ New York Times poll shows.

Just 6 percent think only minor changes are needed to the nation's energy policy, according to the poll, conducted June 16 - June 20.

That sounds like good news, right? Isn't this what most of us wanted in the 2008 election, change? The kind of fundamental wholesale changes necessary to get us back on a sound track, and even completely rebuilding what is clearly broken. And it's not just energy policy. Most of us who voted for Obama expected that, as well as a repeal of DADT, the enactment of a strong ENDA bill, an exit from two reprehensible wars, closing Guantanamo, campaign finance reform, comprehensive health care reform including a public option, etc. I could go on but I think you get my point.

Had Barack Obama's campaign slogan been "incremental change you can believe in," I doubt there would have been as much hoopla surrounding his candidacy. "Hope" only goes so far...about as far as praying for campaign finance reform. Go ahead; knock yourselves out, but it's not going to change a damn thing until we change. And "we" don't seem to want to change. I mean, think about it. Obama supporters wanted all this change, and we didn't get it, and now there's a real chance Republicans are going to pick up a few dozen seats in Congress come November. I'm not going to write-off the White House to them yet, but you know damn well it's a possibility in 2012.

This really isn't a problem per se with Obama, or any other elected official. This is a problem with the American people and our expectations, coupled with an ignorance of how politics works, and who really has their grimy little paws on the strings of this absurd puppet show.

Campaigns and all their fancy slogans are nothing more than elaborate advertising campaigns and we are all too easily seduced by the promises of whiter whites, crispier chicken parts, easier housecleaning, and more bars with fewer dropped calls. The reality is that someone is usually taking us for a ride, and we're paying their expenses. Maybe we should just sell naming rights to the White House and all the monuments in DC to the highest bidding corporation and be done with it.

But back to that CBS poll I linked to earlier. Here's our other problem, and until we can come to terms with it, we are never going to experience the kind of change we expect and demand.
Moreover, nearly half of Americans -- 45 percent -- would support an increased tax on gasoline to support the exploration of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. But most people -- 51 percent -- oppose such a tax.

So, 51% of us want all this change, but we think it needs to come without a price and without any effort on our part. A majority of us -- slim as it is -- don't want the inconvenience which is often necessary for progress. I can't help but wonder if these are the people who want all taxes removed from fuel and everything else.

Go ahead, drive your cars with untaxed fuel until the roads and bridges start to crumble. I don't want to hear your complaints when a bridge falls into a river. I don't want to hear a peep from you when you hit a pothole and you spill hot Starbucks on your crotch. Eventually, a corporately-managed toll road will come to your rescue. Enjoy your ride.

And I'm going to stop wasting my time on hope until that other half gets their fucking shit together.

To those of you who voted for "hope" and "change" and are dissatisfied right now with the direction of the country, and you think swinging back to the Republican Party is going to make it all better, you either have a short memory or you're incredibly stupid naive, or both. Stop believing in slogans. Life is more complicated than that and requires a hell of a lot more effort to find the truth. And when you find the truth, you ain't gonna like it very much because the system is not going to be fixed by putting an X next to a name in a voting booth or on an absentee ballot; it's going to take an uncomfortable revolution to fix it. And frankly, I'm not sure when 51% of us are going to have the cojones for it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Things Are Only Going To Get Better

Or worse. Depending on how you view it. And how you view it is about to change.

Sorry, no links. This is philosophical theory at work.

But make no mistake, I am pissed off. And I'm about to lay it all out there.

Give me a few days to assemble my weaponry.

In the meantime, keep an eye on the Quote of the Day to the left. It's where I'm going.

RIP Senator Robert Byrd

West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd has died at 92. He served in the United States Senate longer than I've been alive. Amazing. And thankfully, at the time of his death, he was not the man he was in the 50s and 60s.
Mr. Byrd’s perspective on the world changed over the years. He filibustered against the 1964 Civil Rights Act and supported the Vietnam War only to come to back civil rights measures and criticize the Iraq war. Rating his voting record in 1964, Americans for Democratic Action, the liberal lobbying group, found that his views and the organization’s were aligned only 16 percent of the time. In 2005, he got an A.D.A. rating of 95.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out politically, as I can't imagine a more inopportune time for Democrats to be losing seats.
In the polarized atmosphere of Washington, President Obama’s agenda seemed to hinge on Mr. Byrd’s health.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Pussy Blog: Disembodied Felines Edition

I anticipate a busy day at work so I'm getting the pussies posted early. The last thing I want to feel at the end of the day is pressure to blog.

Identify the feline based on disembodied "parts." :-) I should dedicate this post to you-know-who...but I won't.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Being Broke Might Make You Gay

I stumbled upon a video that just had me mesmerized for the comical value.

It was part of a Broke Straight Boys series in which straight dudes are so broke they will do "gay stuff" for money while being filmed, of course.

In the one I saw this week, the dude needed money for rent, and he claimed he even told his girlfriend and his landlord about his job for the day. And he made it a point to say he was "totally straight." And yet, during the pre-suck interview he could not stop tugging at his crotch, as if the anticipation was driving him mad. Maybe he just wanted to be sure he was of impressive size when it came time to drop the jeans to the floor.

This isn't the first one I've seen (and I swear to you, dear reader, I stumble upon them totally by accident!) and in each case the other instance, the guy also claimed to be "totally straight" and yet, when I see these in both of them my gaydar went off like a Kansas tornado siren.

The landlord could perhaps care less. Someone better tell the girlfriend. Or maybe she's just cool with it. I can't help but wonder if the girlfriend (and perhaps, the landlord) want to watch the video. It's a wild world out there.

Better living through technology. Or at the very least, more interesting.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hurry Up and Wait

I seriously have a love/hate relationship with airlines. And when you factor in things like the TSA it really tilts in the direction of hate. But at least I'm not dealing with that tonight.

I'm just sitting around waiting for txrad's flight to get off the ground in Denver so I'll know for sure when I need to leave here to pick him up. He should have already been airborne by now but the flight is delayed 65 minutes due to a "mechanical" issue.

As I was typing that sentence, txrad called my cellphone to say the scheduled departure is now 9:20 Denver time instead of 9:10.

At least I can sit here at home and be tired and grumpy... waiting. Poor txrad already was facing a long layover which has now amounted to about 4 hours in the Denver airport. That's equal to a round-trip flight between Denver and Austin.

What a waste of time. I guess that's one reason airports have lots of bars.

UPDATE: Oh for fuck's sake! The flight is now delayed another half hour and will not depart until 9:40 Denver time. Cancel the damn flight already!

Assuming it leaves then, I won't need to be at the airport until 1 AM.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Question of the Day

Have you ever referred to your spouse/partner as "honey bunny?"

If so, don't answer this question because I don't want to know about it. Too freaky.

I can't think of any pet names I've had for txrad other than to occasionally refer to him as "my boy."

And to those of you who would be brazen enough to ask me if this is the best post I can do on a Monday, I can only think of one thing to say:

Any of you fucking pricks move.. and I'll execute every last motherfucking one of you!

Yes, Monday took a toll on me emotionally. LOL!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Weekend of Chores

I'm not sure I could document everything I did around the house this weekend but I'll try.

Saturday: Gathered up some books, VHS tapes, clothing, a 5-disc CD changer, and a portable DVD player for Goodwill. Hauled enough crap out of the house to fill the dumpster. I cleaned the kitchen and did several loads of clothes, and watered all the outside plants. I cleaned litter boxes and gave the tub/shower a once-over cleaning prior to taking a shower. Then I took the stuff to Goodwill and stopped at the liquor store to give the manager some cherry tomatoes I had picked from the garden.

I came home and organized all the Tupperware in the cabinet prior to making dinner (but not prior to getting a wee bit drunk).

Sunday: I wasn't sure I'd be able to get motivated two days in a row to do anything, but I did. I had to run to Home Depot this morning around 9:00 to get a string cartridge for the weeder. I then trimmed a much-needed path through the tall grass out to the garden. After that, I gathered up all the bathroom rugs and two kitchen rugs for washing. Then I starting running the vacuum. And I vacuumed thoroughly. Most pieces of furniture got moved so I could vacuum under and around them. Good and thorough. I did two bedrooms, two bathrooms, two hallways, the den, living room, kitchen, office and lastly the utility room.

The living room was the most time-consuming with two big chairs and a sofa to move as well as three tables. In the end, I rearranged the furniture just a bit: swapped out the positions of two chairs, moved a table and repositioned the sofa about two feet further back in the room away from the TV.

I took out one houseplant which looked like crap, cut off dead stalks and re-potted the one healthy part of the plant. Hopefully it will survive. Then I decided to go back to Home Depot and pick up another houseplant. I ended up buying six. One of those has already been re-potted and is sitting in its new home in the living room. It's the one you see on the right.

I want a few plants in the office after I get done cleaning and organizing in here. Incidentally, that was my primary project for this weekend -- and I did get some done in here; it just wasn't my primary focus. I figured I should focus on the rest of the house during the weekend, and I can work on the office during breaks throughout my workday since I'll be sitting here anyway.

The Tot is already trying to dirty the coffee table. I need to get over the notion that it is possible to have a spotlessly clean house when there are four animals living in it: two cats and two humans.

Those 3 on the green bench were already here and are doing OK. I won't show you the sickly one.

The next 3 pictures are the other plants I picked up. What a great surprise for Sheldon... maybe. Hopefully he won't have internet access while on his trip and check the blog. And maybe it won't be much of a surprise either way since he takes care of the plants!

SURPRISE! Six new babies!

I'll try to be nice and get a few more of them re-potted before he gets home Tuesday night.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Pussy Blog: Hot Pussy Edition

FRIDAY at last!!

With a high today of 94, Sweet Pea needed some shade.

Poor Tiger is finally showing his ancient age. Just in the past 2-3 weeks he has started getting wobbly when he walks. I'll be amazed if he's still with us by the end of summer. I need to cut some of his fur off so he can enjoy some comfort during what may be his last summer. Poor boy...

The Tot just waits patiently for the evening kitchen festivities to begin, starting with the feeding which is about due.

I have no idea where Sissy is right now. She's not in her usual position on the bed and I have searched all through the house. I know she didn't get out because I haven't left any doors open in this heat. So she doesn't get a photo on the blog this week.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tried and True

With txrad being gone for a week, I'm having to be on my own again with meal preparation. And I would prefer to avoid the frozen entree route, or getting take-out, as much as possible. This is difficult when you work all day and then have to go out to the store after work for ingredients.

We got a recipe from Food Network way back around 2003 or 2004 which was whipped up by Sara Moulton on her show. It's an easy casserole, and doesn't exactly constitute "cooking" since all you do is dump a bunch of things into a bowl to make a sauce and then layer it between cheese, chips and sour cream, and then bake it.

We lived on this once or twice a week for several years until we burned out and moved on to something else.

I decided to go back to this recipe tonight and cut it in half so that it's a meal for one with leftovers for one... that will be Friday's lunch.

You know how sometimes when you cut a recipe in half, it completely changes the texture, flavor, and whatever, and turns out to be a shit meal? That was my concern when I got this thing assembled.

It appeared that I had gone too heavy on the layer of tortilla chips and too light on the tomato sauce. So in the end, before going in the oven, I poured some Stubb's BBQ sauce over the top....something we had never done in the past.

I sliced up an avocado to accompany this casserole, except you can't really save leftover avocado very easily, so I ate the whole thing. I guess it was pretty good and exceeded my early expectations.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Week of Liberation

Every two years, txrad takes a trip up to North Dakota to visit family and today is his travel day. Because this travel is so infrequent I tend to forget how anxious I get in the hours leading up to his departure.

Yesterday was packing day and it was as if he was half gone already. As I sat here trying to concentrate on my work, he was busy gathering essentials for his trip, charging the cellphone, packing toiletries into 3-ounce bottles, and other tasks associated with travel.

The alarm clock, which we never use, went off at 3:30 this morning. As added insurance, we had two clocks set to go off at 3:30. One corded electric clock, and one battery-powered atomic clock. You never know when a power outage might happen, even when there is no inclement weather present, so it's nice to have that added level of certainty.

txrad set the atomic clock's alarm yesterday but it didn't go off this morning. He even put in fresh batteries yesterday. (Did I mention we like to plan for certainty?) Assuming the clock was probably made in China, I told him to blame the Chinese.

We hit the road as planned at 4:15 for the trip to the airport. There were very few cars on the highway at that time of the morning and by 4:35 we were at the terminal. He let out a big sigh, kissed me on the lips, and seconds later I was alone as I will be for the next week. By 4:59 I was back at home brewing coffee for one.

As I sit here typing at 5:58 AM, I'm thinking about the weirdness of air travel. Delivering txrad to the airport 90 minutes ahead of departure seems like such a waste of time. While he's technically "gone," he's still out there at the airport, having "gone" nowhere. And yet, by the time I log in for work this morning he will already be in Denver. Strange how that happens. And shortly after I'm done eating lunch, he will be driving a rental car through western North Dakota.

There is something very liberating about dropping off a spouse at the airport and knowing that you will have to assume 100% responsibility for everything while that person is gone. Yesterday I was riddled with anxiety and depression related to his journey, and this morning I feel a calming sense of relief, "unfettered and alive," to quote Joni Mitchell.

There is no 50/50 anything. There is no sharing and no compromise to make. There is just me and I can choose to deviate from my normal routine in any way I choose. I have the dishwasher running at 6:08. I will bake muffins before work. I can clean the refrigerator and throw out anything I choose. I make take a bunch of stuff to Goodwill. In theory, I could even paint the office.

I am responsible for feeding myself. I haven't been involved in meal preparation in a few months. This will be fun!

The plane is departing right now as I post this.

Oh, and I figured out why the alarm didn't go off on the atomic clock. While setting the time, txrad managed to change the time zone from Central to Pacific. Can't blame the Chinese for that.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Hate To Say This

But we might need to start thinking about a challenger to President Barack Obama in 2012..from the true left.

That address to the nation tonight just about sealed the deal for me.

But thankfully, most of us are engaged in Mafia Wars, and Farmville, and SocialCity, and we don't need to be concerned with reality in the least.

Come the fuck on, people! Are we gonna sit around planting virtual crops and harvesting a perfect bouquet, or are we gonna change some shit?

Just curious.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Mowing

The overdue mowing has finally begun. It's been about 2 years at least since I have mowed any of the yard out front. I think it was summer of 2008 when I started having troubles with the mower and never could get it running. I gave up in the fall and winter. In April and May of 2009 I tried again, with the help of my neighbors. We got things disassembled after realizing that fuel wasn't flowing to the engine, and assumed it was the fuel pump so we got that removed. (I say "we" but it was "they." I watched though!)

The local John Deere dealer didn't have any in stock so we had to wait about a week. By that time it was late May, early June, and the weather was not conducive to outside mechanical work. Couple that with the fact that I am not the least bit mechanically inclined and it's not hard to understand why I blew it off for another summer and into the winter and spring.

Finally, I decided to call the local mower maintenance guy to come by and put Humpty Dumpty back together again. He determined that the problem was the fuel hose which had begun decomposing. Got that replaced and got the fuel pump put back on, and all was well... except for the battery.

After unsuccessfully trying to charge it for a couple of days late this week I went out and bought a new one this morning. Got the mower started and proceeded to drive out to the front yard and mow. Then I couldn't get the mower blades to start up.

I drove back out to the street and around to our garage to troubleshoot. After cursing the mower for the 1,734th time, I realized there was a shift lever behind the steering wheel which engages the blades! It's been so long since I've been able to mow I forgot how to use the thing!

Oh, heavenly bliss. I still have some trimming up to do but it's a huge improvement.

The front yard had become a wildlife habitat and I stirred up a nest of bunnies. I had to mow very slowly to give them all time to hop to safety. They are very young so they don't run very fast.

There is also a big section off in the distance which still needs to be mowed. I always have to be careful in that area because there are some huge rocks to mow around.

I only mowed a trail out to the street so you can get a sense of before and after. I am thrilled to be able to get back on this project after much too long. Plus it feels great to do something genuinely productive rather than sitting in the air-conditioned house playing around on Facebook.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Pussy Blog: Sprawling Pussy Edition

Sweet Pea had a nice sprawling pose on the patio to stay cool.

Tot Loaf!

Sissy is in a restful mood today. (Yeah, that's unusual, right?)

And.. our new welcoming door mat which hopefully will not turn into a cat bed. I think getting cat hair off those coarse fibers would be a huge pain in the butt. Anyway, it's pretty and clean today!

Happy Friday!

Addendum: In the time it took me to snap these pictures, resize them and get them posted (which wasn't long -- maybe 12 minutes), the Tot has migrated to the kitchen table and assumed the loaf position again.

The boy ain't dumb. He knows that's where the action is about to happen!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Today In Woman Hatin'

Shakesville's Melissa, in her eternal quest for exposing misogyny, stumbled upon a really insidious piece of work today! I shift shit you not!

So, I guess we're meant to understand that an essentially disembodied woman's torso is also a Philips accessory that can be enjoyed anywhere, anytime...? Swell.

Too bad. I had a Philips television I really liked that I may have replaced with another one. But I guess they don't want my business. Fair enough. I'll take it elsewhere.


Hit the play button and her legs move!

There's a word for it... um, I think it's a woman doing yoga, an active health-conscious woman on the go, but always ready to answer an email, or Tweet. But she's essentially reduced to a disembodied torso. Oh, the horror!

You know, if that's all it took for me to get upset enough to rid myself of possessions and wage a boycott, I probably would be living in an empty house.

If that Phillips ad sets the standard for misogyny these days, you'd think violence and discrimination against women simply don't happen in any kind of blatant way.

But what do I know. This fine example of boycott-worthy advertising would have flown by me completely unnoticed had I not been alerted.

That is all. You may now resume your other daily activities.

Big Hope Is Alive

First, let me say I'm not thrilled at the prospect of having to pull for Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln in November after her victory last night in the runoff election against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. But, the voters have spoken and made their choice. I wish Senator Lincoln the best of luck against Republican John Boozman come November. She's going to need the best and lots of it.

I am much more thrilled and excited by the outcome in the race for the 2nd Congressional District which covers central Arkansas.

State Sen. Joyce Elliott of Little Rock defeated state Rep. Robbie Wills of Conway in Tuesday’s race for the Democratic nomination to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder in central Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District.


Elliott, widely regarded as part of the political left, and Wills, who has called Elliott “extreme” in her views, led a five-way Democratic race May 18, Elliott getting 30,370 votes to Wills’ 21,290, according to the uncertified results. Again, he led in seven of the eight counties, but she bested him strongly in the most populous one, Pulaski.

This race is critical because the winner will be replacing the "left-leaning" Vic Snyder. Needless to say, Elliott's Republican opponent in November calls himself a "conservative" who will be the "polar opposite" of Snyder.

Pass on that.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

BadDecision 2010

This is an open thread to vent your frustrations with today's elections. I will expect to see 100+ comments by morning.

I am most interested in the Arkansas Democratic runoff for the Senate seat held by Blanche (Douchebag) Lincoln. And then we're going to have another issue come November. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

There's crazy shit going on out there, people. And I'm starting to think voters view this as some sort of virtual game as opposed to what it is.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Career Opportunities

I'm always curious about how people land in their lifelong career, for those lucky enough to have one, and assuming you would consider it lucky.

Many follow in the footsteps of a parent. Doctors begat doctors; lawyers begat lawyers, etc. Others follow some childhood dream. Some just stumble into something that makes sense for them. I fall into the latter category.

My dad was an inactive farmer, meaning that he owned farmland but someone else farmed it and we got a cut. He had various and sundry other jobs -- worked for the postal service I think, for awhile, did some housemoving, whatever. He could do just about anything. But I never remember him having anything like a traditional "career."

Nevertheless, I followed in his footsteps until I was 30, doing this and that, or nothing at all in many cases. My college studies impacted me more in my political philosophy than anything else. College certainly didn't have much of an influence at all in my current career.

I finally got into television and radio advertising and it was a perfect fit for me. As a child and a teenager, I was obsessed with geography, numbers, and broadcasting. It didn't take long after I got a job with an ad agency back in 1990 to realize that I had landed at a place where I could plant my feet and be happy.

What do you do for a living? Is it a match made in heaven? And what made you choose it, or did it just happen?

If I hadn't been fortunate enough to end up doing what I do, I can't imagine what the alternative would have been. The only other thing I would have wanted to do is something like this:

Sunday, June 06, 2010

When Babies Grow Up

Life is full of surprises. My favorites are when you learn something rather special about someone you knew long ago...just one of those simple "oh, wow!" moments.

Yesterday I was chatting with a friend on Facebook about the school we attended in the early 70s. I dug out some old photos from the era and sent them to her. She then relayed an interesting tidbit.

The woman you see pictured below on the left was one of my teachers in junior high. I took that picture of her in May of 1974. Two years earlier she had given birth to the woman on the right.

The daughter's name is Laura Day, and it seems she went on to make quite a life for herself, including a national television debut as a designer on Trading Spaces.
Laura's journey from Southeast Arkansas to Manhattan has been filled with interesting twists and turns. She was born on August 28, 1972 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and was raised in nearby Dumas (farm country of the Arkansas Delta), later moving to Little Rock. Growing up, she rode horses and spent most of her time outdoors. Laura has traveled extensively through Europe and Asia and lived in many U.S cities like San Francisco, New Orleans, Martha's Vineyard and, of course, New York City. You'll find traces of the places she loves in her colorful and unusual takes on design.

Very cool.

By the way, that triangular arm you see on the left happens to be attached to my mother.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Saturday 俳句

Use a ticking clock
to measure stillness of time...
doesn't make much sense

Friday, June 04, 2010

Friday Pussy Blog: Stare-Down Edition

The TOT!

Sissy waiting on me to come join her for a nap.

That sounds like a mighty fine idea since I'm not working today.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Want To Leave The Matrix?

Yes, but I don't trust any former government spy to teach me how.

How about we just give peace a chance?

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Two Noteworthy Items of Interest

Gee. As if we don't have enough to be concerned about already, the tea-bagger mantra, "I want my country back," has some added relevance for all of us.


In response to a flood of Facebook and YouTube videos that depict police abuse, a new trend in law enforcement is gaining popularity. In at least three states, it is now illegal to record any on-duty police officer.

Even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists.

And #2
Want to invoke your right to remain silent? You'll have to speak up.

In a narrowly split decision, the Supreme Court's conservative majority expanded its limits on the famous Miranda rights for criminal suspects on Tuesday – over the dissent of new Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who said the ruling turned Americans' rights of protection from police abuse "upside down."


This decision means that police can keep shooting questions at a suspect who refuses to talk as long as they want in hopes that the person will crack and give them some information, said Richard Friedman, a University of Michigan law professor.

The long arm of the law is getting longer.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

How 'Bout That Projection System!

Well done, Sabrina!

Icanhasinternets has a list up with 25 Horribly Sexist Ads. I'm not sure I would categorize the Sabrina ad as "horribly" sexist. And I'll confess: it took me about 5 or 6 seconds to get the "joke" because my gay eyes didn't zoom instantly to her perky breasts. I just saw a woman and proceeded to read the text, expecting to find blatant sexism there. And when it finally hit me, I laughed. So sue me.

But any of you would have to admit it's more humorous than most of the others. Some of them are truly horrible, even disgusting. This one actually makes me angry.

"Woe be unto you!"??? What the fuck?

As I stare at this, I just want to see her get up and smack that asshole in the back of the head with the heel of her shoe. Several times. And being vintage doesn't cut this ad any slack whatsoever.

I wonder if the man or men who created this ad were amused with their "creative brilliance," chortling and backslapping each other for a job well done. I wonder if this was common behavior in their own homes, to treat their wives like dogs who peed on the new carpet.

Everything about this ad creeps me the hell out, right down to the dude's suspenders and argyle socks. Bleahh. I think I'm most bothered because this attitude and behavior isn't vintage. Domestic violence is an ongoing daily problem.

Check out the rest of the 25 Horribly Sexist Vintage Ads if you feel so inclined.

At least Sabrina genuinely seemed to enjoy her work.