Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thanksgiving 2006 Pix

Small bits of evidence may be viewed in one of my Picasa albums.

Da Bankah

(click pic to zoom)
So, I just saw the house that my kid bought, with my money …

Monday, November 27, 2006

Mine. All Mine.

Yup, this is my new house (with no small amount of assistance from the Bank O' KK), all boarded up and ready to go:

(click pic to zoom)

"Fixer-upper" is putting it politely. The house was repo'ed, and apart from several decades of aggressive neglect, the previous owner seems to have ended his residence by punching out most of the walls and removing all of the water pipes and the water meter. I now understand that certain junkyards will pay a few bucks for a used water meter, no questions asked. Copper prices and so forth.

The electricity has been shut off for so long that the local utility company informed me that I'll need to get an inspection before they'll turn the juice back on. This turned out to mean that I had to visit City Hall, fill out some forms, and pay $70. I now am the proud owner of a permit to apply for a safety inspection and a secret phone number for a city inspector with whom I am to arrange for said inspection. Said inspector apparently doesn't believe in checking his voice mail.

While waiting today for the ain't-happened-yet callback from the inspector, I installed some new locks and a mailbox. The latter was good, because the letter carrier (dunno if I needed to be so PC there -- he was a male man) came by shortly after to deliver the bill for the balance of my homeowner's insurance.

Should be nothing but fun from here on out! Who wants to buy some claw foot tubs? And good deals are to be had on large piles of lath and plaster!


I have just opened the insurance bill, and it seems that my new insurance company perfumes their mail. Not just maybe. We're talking stench. I mean, I know smell is the new thing in advertising, but how weird is that?


Three guesses as to the new emphasis of this blog for the next few months. Now that the Democrats are sort of back in power, there's really no need for political snark, right?

(Long pause for rueful laughter.)

In all seriousness, the domicile pictured above will be my main obsession focus for a while now. If it starts getting annoying to read (post) nothing but outtakes from "This Old House," I might relocate the rehab updates. Lemme know what you'd like: keep it here or put it elsewhere.

Here's another bit of Rochacha homeowner happiness: I visited the city's web site, found a phone number for trash pickup info, and called it. I figured that I'd get to leave another voice mail (it was about 6 pm), but no! This office is open 24/7!

After overcoming the parallel universe feeling that comes when a human answers a phone that I expected to be machine-driven, I now, with breathless anticipation, await the delivery of recycling bins and trash barrels. Apparently, these latter are called "toters" around here. They have wheels, so I'm not clear about when, exactly, I am expected to pick them up and carry them.

So much to learn.

Factoid of the Day: 27 Nov 2006

From a story in today's NY Times:

Seattle, which averages about 38 inches of rain annually, is far from the country's wettest big city. Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Miami and New York are just some of the others that get more rain.

I didn't know that.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thought for the Day: 24 Nov 2006

From a blog entry titled "Growing Up:"

The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag. ...

There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.
--General Smedley D. Butler, as quoted [T$] by U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Anthony McCloskey

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Line of the Day: 2006-11-18

Yesterday, on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!, host Peter Sagal said this about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes: "They are the Jim and Tammy Faye Baker of Scientology."

Cross words

From today's puzzle in the NY Times: 1-Across, six letters, clue: "Most distant"

Which got me to thinking: If it's "nearest," why isn't it "farest?"

I guess I'm missing something for the trees.

(Actual answer in the Comments.)

Cultural Learnings of Vietnam for Make Benefit Image of Glorious President

Bubble? What bubble?

From a story comparing the last president's visit to Vietnam with that of the current one, we find yet another example of the Occupant-in-Chief's efforts to stay in touch:

On Saturday, Mr. Bush's national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, conceded that the president had not come into direct contact with ordinary Vietnamese, but said that they connected anyway.

"If you'd been part of the president's motorcade as we've shuttled back and forth," he said, reporters would have seen that "the president has been doing a lot of waving and getting a lot of waving and smiles."

He continued: "I think he's gotten a real sense of the warmth of the Vietnamese people …"

How do guys like Hadley sleep at night, anyway?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Good Read: John Waters

John Waters has a piece in today's NY Times, titled The Kindness of a Stranger.

Here's how it starts:

Tennessee Williams saved my life. As a 12-year-old boy in suburban Baltimore, I would look up his name in the card catalog at the library and it would read "see Librarian." I wanted these "see Librarian" books -- and I wanted them now -- but in the late 1950s (and sadly even today), there was no way a warped adolescent like myself could get his hands on one. But I soon figured out that the "see Librarian" books were on a special shelf behind the counter. So when the kindly librarian was helping the "normal" kids with their book reports, I sneaked behind the checkout desk and stole the first book I ever wanted to possess on my own.

Another sign that the Republicans have been in charge for too long

Did you know that at certain gyms, grunting while lifting weights is considered grounds for ejection and loss of membership?

This story is enough to make me enroll in the gym, just to make some noise of my own.

Friday, November 17, 2006

You might have missed these

Among the stunts pulled by the White House during their desperation efforts in the weeks before the election:

Oh, and then there's this. The [Agriculture Department's] hunger/food insecurity report usually appears in October. This year's version -- the fifth straight to show an increase in the number of hungry Americans -- was held for release until after last week's election.
--Tim Grieve [S$]

A dark trifecta: More evidence of the breakdown of society (thanks to compassionate conservatism), another Bush Administration effort to suppress the evidence, and a new Orwellian term: People who don't have anything to eat are officially no longer "hungry." They now just experience "food insecurity."

Another item that seems to have escaped the MSM, currently obsessing over something really stupid, is the appointment by Bush of one Eric Keroack as the new chief of family-planning programs for the Department of Health and Human Services. Keroack's last job? Medical director for a group called A Woman's Concern, which believes that "the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness."

I'm sure women prefer to trust men to take full responsibility in matters of birth control, right? And in any case, no one finds unwanted pregnancies adverse to happiness, don't you agree?

Thanks again to Mr. Grieve [S$] for keeping us aware.

These are college kids?

My sister MK, the college prof, just finished a marathon session of grading papers. One of her chief complaints was the following.

It's different from, as I'm sure you know. But it really grated for MK to have to read different then, over and over again.

I've given up going to the mat about using than as a preposition in place of the preferred from, because languages do evolve. If enough people make the same mistake in conversation, it becomes accepted usage, and eventually, it creeps into written work. I don't like it, and reading it causes me to lose respect for the writer, but it feels like a battle that's about lost.

But if I were a college prof getting papers infested with different then, I'd mark them all with an F.

After a day or two, I might allow resubmission. But there would have to be as much grief demonstrated by the students as I had suffered while reading.

Murtha + Hoyer + Pelosi = Snooze

Anyone besides me not care a whit about the "battle" for House Majority Leader? Anyone besides me think it's really insignificant that Speaker Pelosi's choice wasn't the one selected?

I can't decide whether it's the Republican spin machine cranking up on about the only thing they have left to talk about, or the MSM being, as always, eager to talk about Democratic Party dissension, or just the familiar groupthink that chronically infects the Washington news bureaus.

I'm glad that a guy who evidently has so many ethics problems didn't get the job. That's better for the Party, the House, and the country in the long run. So Nancy Pelosi owed Jack Murtha a favor or two, and made a public show of support for him to as payback. It's hard for me to believe that she didn't know that she couldn't push this one through -- you don't get to where she is without being able to count noses.

I don't see this as loss of power for her. She won the speakership unanimously, and the real clout of that job lies in handing out committee assignments and deciding which proposed bills (and investigations, oh please, oh please) get pushed forward.

We've seen, over the past six years, what happens when the party in power moves in lockstep. It's a disaster, no doubt about it. Let's stop with the handwringing over a little Democratic squabbling, and get on with the job, shall we?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Free T$ Runs Out Today

Sorry I didn't notice this before, but the NY Times has been allowing everyone free access to TimesSelect this past week, and through today. This is the part of their web site that is usually available to subscribers only.

As I've said elsewhere, I think it's worth paying for TimesSelect, and for good content in general. Now you can see for yourself.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Two more years

I heard on the radio last night while driving home from work about Rummy getting the boot. Bush's taped comments, evidently from his afternoon press conference, were partially replayed. He had some mealy-mouthed explanation about having planned to do this for some weeks now, but didn't want to do it in the final days of the campaign.

Uh huh. Whatever.

The thing that really bugged me about it is that he admitted lying to reporters about the matter, and then tossed it off with that patented "heh-heh-heh." He clearly still thinks lying is okay.

The House investigations can't start soon enough for me.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Mildly Happy Days

Karl Rove, the president's top political strategist, alerted the president that the House was lost at around 11 p.m., the White House said.

"His reaction was, he was disappointed in the results in the House," Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman. "But he’s eager to work with both parties on his priorities over the next two years. He's got an agenda of important issues he wants to work on, and he's going to work with both parties."


We'll see about that. He's had six years of not working with both parties, so far.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Never Mind the Election ...

. . . Britney and K-Fed are getting divorced!

The country seems already on a better track, doesn't it?

But you have voted today, haven't you? That's what I thought. Good.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

We Should Kerry This Election. Easily.

Is the junior senator from Massachusetts working for the Republicans? I mean, again? After his stellar non-performance in 2004?

So you blew the joke, or whatever, Sen. Kerry. Stop mealymouthing with clarifications and parenthetical asides. Stop sort of denying but maybe just admitting. Stop flip-flopping, to coin a phrase.

Just say this: "I wasn't talking about the troops being dumb. I was talking about George W. Bush. Sorry if I wasn't clear enough."

Why is it so frickin' hard for the Democrats to get it together?