Friday, December 31, 2010

As Seen On Facebook

Sometimes hardcore Christianity backfires. Sheldon was sent to Bible camp when he was around 15 and was awakened. He decided that was not for him.

I have similar tales to tell.

So, keep on pumping your money into these camps because somewhere along the way you are fueling the other side. Just as in real life. Just as in politics. Just as in relationships, and just as in life and cosmic debris. And if you procreate enough, you will eventually make another homosexual who will eventually stray. The cycle of life and philosophy is so brilliant and predictable. Why it's not boring is beyond my comprehension.

signed: konagod.

I pledge allegiance to the doom.

Looking Forward to an Odd Year

I get crazy every year between the Christmas holiday and the New Year. It always seems to pass in such a frenzied blur. Resolutions are always dancing in my head and I usually have the notion that I'm going to get a head start on one or two of them so that I'll already be in the habit by the time the new year has arrived.

On that note: fail.

Oh well, as I told a friend today, calendars are a figment of the human imagination, and tomorrow is another day. We can make resolutions in March, or September. Same difference.

As a means of measuring time though, I have noticed a trend over the past 20 years or so, and perhaps it's just a fluke, but I tend to have a happier life during odd-numbered years compared to even-numbered years. Again, may purely be a figment of my imagination.

In 1983 I went to live in London and it was one of the happiest years I've ever had. In 1984 I got booted out of England and landed back in the US where I promptly had my wallet stolen from a hotel room just as I was trying to make a fresh start.

In 1985 I went back to college to try and wrap up a real degree in something, and in 1987 I got my diploma.

In 1988 I had my heart broken and in 1989 I moved away to Denver for another fresh start. Great times that year.

1990 was the best and the worst of life. That is the year I met txrad but that event ushered in a tempestuous fury in my personal life. Not one of my better years.

1991 is when txrad and I moved in together in Los Angeles and I found work... real work, and that was the germination of a career that lives on 20 years later.

Major elections are always held in even-numbered years. And you know where that usually puts me. 2000 got us Bushwhacked.

This just keeps going.

Fast forward to 2006 when the year ended with my own advertising company in debt, no clients, and no source of income.

2007 was a fabulous year job-wise, but only for that year.

2008 began with unemployment for both of us and txrad being hospitalized with a severe concussion after a fall. I did find work again in 2008 so it wasn't totally bad.

2010 came in with me smashing my face to bits and having major surgery for the first time in my life. Then I turned 50 while I was recovering. And just recently, I filed for bankruptcy. 2010 will not be missed.

Sometimes I want to do something symbolic before the close of a year just to get a situation, a part of my life, behind me. I really wanted to dissolve the corporate entity I started in 2004 -- the entity which died in 2006 and was a major player in my need to file bankruptcy.

In Texas, this is a 2-step process. The Texas Two Step requires submitting a form to the state requesting proof that you have paid your fees to the state and have no outstanding liabilities to the state. Then when you receive the supporting document, that has to be mailed to the Secretary of State with another form to legally have a corporation declared deceased.

I am still waiting on step one to be completed, so apparently I will be dragging this nasty rotting carcass into 2011. So be it. One of the first of many great things to happen in 2011 will be killing off that thing.

Right off the bat though, my home office will be getting a paint job. Nothing says fresh new outlook like a coat of paint!

And I'm starting off this odd-numbered year with 9 days off from work. I know how to do this right!

What's on your agenda for 2011?

Friday Pussy Blog: End of a Decade Edition

Tater Tot grooming in the box.

Sissy relaxing in her new dog cat bed. It's plush!

Enjoy your festivities and happy new year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Spring Cleaning in December

Why wait? I say get it done and toss it out with the old year.

I'm sure somewhere on the planet there is a wire geek with a far larger wire collection than I have, but honestly, have you ever seen so many phone wires and how the hell did I accumulate so many over the years?

Of course, I'm trying to get all this done under constant supervision by the Tot.

I'm not throwing out everything. If I know what it is and I know I won't need it, I throw it. If I know what it is, and think I might need it, I'll keep it.

Anyhow the stuff I'm keeping goes into a dedicated wire drawer.

If I have no idea what it is, then I keep it until I can figure out what it is, and then decide. Although, one could make the point that if I haven't used it in 5 years or longer, then I probably don't need it. But seriously, what the hell are these cables with the white ends and the funny looking prongs on them? They come with every computer I've ever bought, and not once have I ever used one. So I have about 4 or 5 of them waiting in the drawer.

Or save me the trouble, tell me what it is and whether I should toss them.

Once I'm done cleaning out the file cabinets, I hope I will have reduced my need down to just one of them. And the other 3 can exit the house along with a lot of junk and wires. Anybody in Austin want some file cabinets?

I'm keeping the nicest black one. The beige one could be used in the garage for tool storage I guess. So maybe I'll only be getting rid of two.

Once I get this place cleaned out, next up on the agenda is painting the office a new color for the new year, and then replacing the flooring.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Pair of Monday Surprises

Witchay Woman stopped by just a few minutes ago with a whiskey plum cobbler made by the hubby we call "Alton II."

That was the good surprise.

We have a wonderful piece of her art on the wall above our fireplace and had lately noticed what we thought was some charcoal dust around the base of the matting.

She said that's fairly common and while we were discussing it, she asked to take the painting off the wall. Doing so revealed another surprise, and not a pleasant one.

Nasty black mold.

The paper on the back of the frame is damaged, so that black stuff on the matte may well be mold and not charcoal. We will be needing to head out to a frame shop and get this re-matted and I'm just very happy we caught this before more damage was done.

And we need to figure out where this moisture is coming from and correct that problem. Ugghh. More joys of owning a home.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Little Fringe "Benefit" to Republican Victories in November

Voters should have pondered this before having a knee-jerk reaction in November.

The Republican strategy is to eliminate anyone on the genuine left because it makes their case more compelling when they call someone a socialist who is slightly right-of-center.

Amurika 2012, here we come!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday Pussy Blog: Remote Control Edition

Because it is a holiday Friday, kinda, sorta, I tend to forget that it's Friday and have been known to forget to do the Pussy Blog. That is not the case today, I've simply been lazy. But yielding to tradition, I will throw something up.

I got a new universal remote today and have been busy this afternoon trying to get that programmed to turn on the TV and Dish Network DVR.

Needless to say, I encountered some difficulties and needed tech support. And while I was on the phone with tech support I was getting additional directives from none other than the Tot himself. He got smacked in the nose by accident while trying to supervise my tweaking of the satellite receiver.

Bad devil child.

It was a scenario not unlike this:

Big hat tip to Witchay Woman for the artistic effects on photo #1 and for photo #2 of her family. Good thing I keep everything for when I just might need it!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"Set Beer Goggles to Stun"

For the past several days I've been saving bottle caps from the Big Sky IPA. Thought I'd share...

Hard tellin', not knowin'.


Finally! Something to get excited about today as the US Senate voted 65-31 to repeal the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military.

The stubborn holdouts continue to include Texas and the drab underbelly of the Deep South. But today, common sense and decency have won. (Screw John McCain!)

Map via the New York Times.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Pussy Blog: Sofa Cat Edition

Sweet Pea has been coming in the house at night for a few minutes. He usually goes straight for the sofa in the den, grooms himself, and then is ready to go back outside. I like to annoy him by poking my finger between his toe pads.

The Tot never gets up on the sofa unless I'm sitting on it. He will discreetly inch his way over to my lap, as if I won't notice that 15 pounds of cat meat is suddenly standing on me. And then he'll gradually position himself for a nap with one foot extended onto the sofa. Strange boy.

Happy Friday!!

(No, you don't get full konagod photos with the cats; this is all about the felines. Sorry!)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

RIP Blake Edwards

Blake Edwards has died. He was 88.
Edwards will be remembered as a comic genius for creating Peter Sellers's "Pink Panther" character and for writing and directing a slew of comedies -- including "10," "Victor/Victoria" and "S.O.B." -- the last two starring his wife of 41 years, Julie Andrews.

So very true. Thanks for all the laughter until I cried.

An American Problem

At the time of the auto industry bailout, it sure sounded encouraging when President Obama announced that we were ushering in an era of "creating new jobs, unleashing new prosperity and manufacturing the fuel-efficient cars and trucks that will carry us toward an energy-independent future.”

So, how's that working out, Mr. President?

Oh, of course.

But at least something is being sold, right?
In particular, what Mr. Obama called his “one goal” — having Detroit “lead the world in building the next generation of clean cars” — is nowhere near being achieved. While the idea of improving G.M.’s and Chrysler’s fuel efficiency was doubtless a politically popular justification for the bailout, American consumers have not embraced the goal with equal fervor. Sales of fuel-sipping compact and subcompact cars have actually dropped this year, while pickup and sport utility vehicle sales grew by double-digit percentages.

Woooo hoooo! It may not be green, and it may not be next-generation as promised, but at least sales are up! That has to be a good omen. But... who is buying?
Another troubling trend is an increase in fleet sales — the delivery of huge numbers of units to corporations and government agencies. While fleet sales improve short-term volume, the profit margins are slim and the practice can hurt long-term sales as consumers come to view the models as unsexy “fleet queens.” And Detroit has gorged on such sales in 2010, with some 32 percent of all vehicles from the Big Three sold through October going to fleet operators. Furthermore, a quarter of all the hybrids built by Detroit since President Obama took office have been bought by federal agencies, showing that enthusiasm for Detroit’s hybrids is limited somewhat to government fleet buyers.

In addition, even when it comes to the trucks and S.U.V.’s that Americans actually do want to buy, the bailed-out automakers are building vehicles faster than they can be bought. Inventory levels at both companies have ballooned this year, to the point where G.M. now has nearly three months’ worth of sales sitting on its lots...

Feeling better yet about the success of these bailouts?
Allowing new cars to pile up on lots may well be the most deadly of Detroit’s new-old bad habits, as the practice not only artificially inflates sales numbers (which, ridiculously, are booked upon production, not when a vehicle is driven off the lot), but also lead to yet more incentives, fleet sales, subsidized leases and subprime lending.

Sigh. I keep looking for a silver lining in this piece, but I'm not seeing it.

I know, I know, we can't expect a 180° turnaround in two years after decades of behavior, but overall this does not look at all like any lessons have been learned. In fact, it reminds me of the state we're in politically: a lot of promises about change, efficiency, and a brighter future while bending over backwards to maintain the status quo.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Anxiety Realities

I used to have a lot of anxiety dreams related to college. These usually involved a sudden realization that two months had passed and I had not attended a single class. Then I'd be wondering if it was too late to go drop the classes before getting the inevitable failing grades.

Another one involved taking exams when I hadn't actually been to the class or opened the textbook. I'd be sitting there staring at the questions on the exam paper and feeling totally perplexed. (I swear, in one of my dreams, the professor had the audacity to ask, "do I know you? What's your name? I haven't seen you before." Truly embarrassing.)

In my dreams, I simply want to get up, hand in my blank exam and leave as quickly as possible. However, being the first to hand in a paper and leave usually implies that you are the self-confident asshole who knows all the answers. And I never wanted to call attention to myself in the classroom. So I'd sit there, pretending to contemplate possible answers where I didn't even understand the questions, and wait until one or two other students were done. I would then grab my paper and place it in the pile on the professor's desk before making a dash for the exit.

Although I haven't had those particular anxiety dreams in awhile, today I was having similar anxieties in my waking state, but almost the reverse scenario. I am in control of the questions, but nobody out there is giving me answers, either correct or incorrect. Life can be pretty sweet when you have 95% of the answers. I'm one of those people who feels like I am doing pretty good when I have 75% to 80% of the answers.

Sometimes though, all you have are a bunch of questions and very few answers. And those are the days in life when you just want to slither out of the classroom unnoticed and head to the nearest bar and get ripped.

All of this brings me to another question: do teachers and professors have anxiety dreams in which none of the students pass the exams, or in which none of the students bother to show up for class? Or do the professors have anxiety dreams in which they have failed to show up for class for weeks at a time?

(And in 2010, do they still have exam papers? Seems like we would have moved beyond that by now.)

Hump Day 俳句

Southerly wind blows
with a fierce intensity
disrupting my chi

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Oh, For the Love of God!

It doesn't take much to rattle people's cages and get their panties in a knot. Bus ads, which are pretty easy to ignore, could even do the trick if the ads happen to be atheist messages, especially during this most blessed time of year when Christians of all stripes are on their best behavior.
But the reaction from believers has been harsher than anyone in the nonbeliever’s club expected. Some ministers organized a boycott of the buses, with limited success. Other clergy members are pressing the Fort Worth Transportation Authority to ban all religious advertising on public buses. And a group of local businessmen paid for the van with the Christian message to follow the atheist-messaged buses around town.

Because, you know, it's just all about the love of God.
The ads have incited anger in some places. Vandals destroyed two bus ads in Detroit, ruined a billboard in Tampa, Fla., and defaced 10 billboards in Sacramento. One billboard in Cincinnati was taken down after the landlord received threats.

And the local rapid transit authority in Des Moines pulled atheist ads off its buses in August last year because of complaints from local religious leaders. Four days later, however, the authority reversed its position after the local group that had bought the ads threatened legal action on First Amendment grounds.

Wait! What? What's the First Amendment shit? Sign up for God first and then you can start exercising that First Amendment right, you silly atheists! Where did you get this absurd notion that you have an equal right to not believe in a deity? Or to acknowledge publicly that others like you may be out there?

Sorry, that just poses too much of a threat so just keep your mouths shut and pretend to fit in here. You are making too many other people uncomfortable!
Some of the fiercest criticism has come from black religious leaders. The Rev. Kyev Tatum Sr., president of the local Southern Christian Leadership Conference, has called for a boycott of the buses, saying the ads are a direct attack during a sacred time in the Christian calendar.

Don't even get me stated on the sanctity of this "Christian calendar," and all those twinkling lights, decorated trees, Santa Clauses, and angry shoppers. Jesus would certainly encourage a fistfight if one of his followers failed to get that last iPad off the shelf before a hellbound atheist grabbed it!

And then things calm down a bit before moving on to colored eggs and bunny wabbits.

There is some hilarious irony in the fact that most of the atheists I know could be role models for many Christians. But that's not the point. Non-believers are supposed to sit down, shut up, and be invisible so as not spoil all the fun for the saved.

"Nobody owns December."

-- Terry McDonald, chairman of Metroplex Atheists, part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

How To Waste a Weekend

1. Find a new game, like Zuma Blitz. Guaranteed to waste hours.

2. Exercise your creativity by creating a new blog header, even though you have nothing to say because you are lacking creativity.

3. Take a long nap on Saturday and Sunday.

4. Eat out close to home so you can get back quickly for a nap.

5. Pick out a new paint color for the kitchen using paint samples you have had around the house for a year or two. Plan to paint in the spring.

6. Spend an excessive amount of time in a hot shower.

7. Check frequently to see if you are hallucinating that winter has arrived.

8. Stare at the New York Times newsreader but don't bother to read anything because you simply don't give a shit.

9. Think about everything you wish you were doing, and will do, oh... in a month or so.

10. Scold the cat.

Bonus round: Feel good about yourself because the day you have chosen to take off this week is forecast to be the warmest of the week. Whether you do anything productive with it remains to be seen.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Pussy Blog: Fishy Friday Edition

Around 4:30 every afternoon, the entire gang starts hanging around in the kitchen, or as close as they can get for the ones outside.

Salmon was tonight's entree.

Sissy waiting.

Tot waiting.

Sweet Pea waiting.

Tiger waiting.

I suppose it was rude of me to walk out with the camera instead of a can of food. They got prematurely excited.

Also, pardon the Tiger picture with the snotty nose. He's been carrying on lately with the wheezing, sneezing, and snorting. I feel so bad for the poor old guy. Anyone else have cats with that problem?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Joys of Bankruptcy

After meeting with my bankruptcy lawyer the week before Thanksgiving it was decided that our filing date would be Thursday, December 2. The reasoning for this is that it's a day before I get paid and therefore the least amount of cash would be in my bank account. One of the rules is that I can't have over $750 in cash available on the day I file. Sounds pretty straightforward, right?

On Thanksgiving I was checking my account balance and I had roughly $1,100 in the bank with a week to go before filing. I was getting nervous and started looking for bills to pay early. There was the utility bill which was not due until after December 2, as well as the water bill and the internet access bill. I went ahead and paid those online and that took me down to $735. Yes! I could now relax as that would still leave me plenty to use for groceries and other routine expenses prior to the filing date. I figured I'd be down around $300 by then.

There was a small glitch, however. My Dish Network service is setup to be paid annually, and in the mayhem of the moment, I suppose I had not paid much attention to any reminder emails from them.

On Friday after Thanksgiving, I went to the liquor store with my bank debit card and was unable to get authorization on my purchase. Then I went to the supermarket and had the same problem. I was a bit suspicious now. I came home and logged into my bank account online and there are few words to convey the shock of discovering that my balance was over $400 in the red. Yes, a negative $400 balance. And right there on my screen was that processed transaction of $1,215 paid to Dish Network, courtesy of my credit union, along with the courtesy of a $24 fee for being so generous.

Now, here's how this shit works, as most of you know. Once there is one fuck up, you are virtually guaranteed of having additional fuck ups, hence the term clusterfuck. Life would have been fine and dandy if the credit union had rejected the transaction and charged me a fee for insufficient funds. Dish Network would have been happy to get their money a few days later. All the other transactions I scheduled would have passed through the gates and I would have been relatively unscathed.

Yes, dear friends and other readers, once your bank does you such a favor, buckle up for the clusterfuck, because they will only do you one favor, not three or four such favors. The Time Warner bill bounced. Ding! Insufficient funds fee posted on both ends. The utility bill bounced. DING DING! Insufficient funds fee posted on both ends. The automatic deduction of $9.95 per month for my Quicken BillPay service bounced back. They did generously go ahead and pay my water bill while simultaneously suspending my account. Ding Ding Ding!!!! Suddenly I was $555 in the hole. And that qualifies as less than $750 by anybody's math.

Thursday rolled around and we headed to the lawyer's office for the 4:00 appointment. After waiting there for 10 or 15 minutes, the laywer emerged from his spider hole and proclaimed that there was "a problem." He'd had some computer glitch that erased all his appointments, he had no idea our appointment was at that time, and he had not even reviewed our paperwork yet!

We had to hit the reset button and start over. So between last Thursday and yesterday, I was thinking I had dealt with all my financial issues and laid them to rest. Oh, but there's always a straggler!

Yesterday I tried to make a call on my cell phone and THAT had also been suspended due to funds not clearing my bank. Ding Ding Ding Ding Ding!!

You gotta love how this shit just cascades! And I'm sure there are people out there less fortunate than I am who have this happen to them more often. And at some point those are the people who probably figured out they might be better off without a bank account, and just use cash.

Since I had been paid on December 3, I had already taken care of all these other problems by the time I realized there was an AT&T cell phone issue. I tried logging into my account online to do another bank draft and was instructed to call customer service. Yes, AT&T customer service! You know, that's the one getting rave customer reviews these days.

So I got a guy on the phone and I explained the situation to him, and he told me he could take the bank information on the phone and process it.... for a $5 convenience fee. I said, "You've got to be kidding me, right?"

As if I hadn't already been fucked enough, now AT&T was wanting to charge me a fee for paying my bill. GOD BLESS AMERICA and Wall Street. After I protested, he retreated and said he'd waive the fee since I had tried to do it online and failed. What a nice guy.

After a few seconds he informed me it wasn't going through, and that my only recourse at the time was to go to an AT&T store and pay CASH. "What?" I asked. "I have no other way of paying this bill than to drive 15 miles to a store and pay cash?"

"That is correct," he replied. I mumbled something about switching to Verizon, he mumbled something about that being fine, and I hung up.

By this point, my lunch was getting cold, and I was having back spasms so severe that I seriously contemplated taking a Lortab. If it hadn't been a work day, I probably would have.

Later, after I'd calmed down, and had spent half an hour or so checking out the offerings from Verizon, I logged back into my AT&T account and decided to try this again using a credit card. Voila! Payment accepted and service restored! My question is: why did that customer service representative not suggest I do that? Or offer to take my card info on the phone?

Ironically, after all of this, my cell phone is suddenly not staying charged for a day even with no usage. I think that is an omen.

Meanwhile, I am starting this entire scenario over again. I am waiting on the lawyer to set another filing date between now and next Thursday prior to my Friday pay day. And sooner would be better than later. Given the fact that when my pay check was deposited last Friday, I was already $555 in the red, going in to file bankruptcy with less than $750 in the bank is NOT going to be a problem the second time around.

If I can do this with a bank balance greater than say, $35, rather than a negative number, all the better.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Friday Pussy Blog: Heads in the Beef Bowl Edition

This is one of those Fridays that started out mellow and peaceful and ended with a clusterfuck of shit starting around 3PM. GAH!! And around 4:45 when I was scrambling to get things finished, Sissy was in the next room just howling for her meal! I had to get up and feed them so I could wrap up my loose ends in quiet.

Beef: It's what's for dinner tonight. For them, anyway!