Monday, January 30, 2006

Odd Fact About the New(er) Car...

Yep, my theory about the previous owners was just about right.
It was an elderly couple. Actually it was "her" car.
The salesman tonight told me that the old guy had traded it in because the wife had just past away and he just couldn't stand to see it in the driveway any longer.


I so know how he feels.
So, Mr. Widower Guy- Thanks so much. We'll take good care of it...promise.
It's a weird kinda karma, I guess.

Your Mileage May Vary, part 2

Well...I think I've found my car.
Ok, I can see y'all sitting there saying : "Whadja get? Whadja get?"
Hush! I'm tellin' the story here...I'll get to it. Be patient with me, I'm fighting a montrous cold/viral thing right now-no doubt picked up from shaking so many used car salesmen's hands- so I'm just a wee bit loopy and fuzzy headed.

Now, when I left off last I was bemoaning the lack of selection in this region due to natural disasters and subsequent gas hikes. I also mentioned my stubborn stance on just what I would accept.
As in all aspects of life one must compromise. But it's being comfortable in that compromise that counts. I'm comfortable.

Shortly before the weekend I thought I had found "it".
At a lot in what passes for a big city around here,this rig caught my eye- a 2000 Chevy Tracker. The minute I saw it I went "Oh!" in a happy sort of way, my gut instinct was feeling good. OK, so it's a dinky SUV, a tin box on wheels, but it looked cool-not that that's a big factor-and had the room I was looking for (I have 2 kids and possibly at times, 3 big doggies to lug about.) Plus it wasn't too beastly on gas, it was just a good as my Taurus wagon had been in that area. was about a thousand bucks more than my budget. OY!
My mind began to spin on just how I could cobble up the extra dough. I wanted that thing!
Took it for a test drive. Zippy enough, even with a 4 banger in it. Took the hills ok. Alittle shaky in the straightaway at highway speed, but I figured that was normal for these smaller SUV's. I could also see where one might have trouble in a stiff wind.
Anyway, long story short, I left the lot with some creative financing options and the promise that I would be back to get the thing on Monday...providing something else too good to pass up didn't just fall in my lap between then and now.

(Oh! Look up! What's that? THUD! Ooomph!)
Something did fall.

Call it happy coinsidence, call it divine intervention or just dumb luck but another thing came along. Actually, it was my sudden peculiar obsession about this Tracker that led to it.
As I came home from that test drive, there was another Tracker in my town, alongside the road, for sale. Newer but same color and everything, but higher priced. It was from a dealer lot, so I knew they might not budge on the price, but I called them anyway-what the heck, right? Yep, no sale...but just what are you looking for anyway? the guy asked. So I told him:
Something within my budget-
That ain't a piece of crap-
Ain't beat to death-
Something a bit newer-
And big enough to haul around kids and dogs-
And can handle the dirt roads within reason.

Heck, not a big order at all, eh?

The sales guy said he'd take a look around the lot and call me back. I didn't hold my breath.
30 minutes later he called back with 3 choices. 2 of them minivans-which I said no dice to (I just ain't minivan material, sorry) and the one was a sedan. Hmmmm.
The sedan was a trade-in, that day actually, hadn't even been gone over and detailed yet, but if I was interested he could bring it to town so I could take a look. OK, what the heck?
I just knew it would be a dog. But I remained optimistic, since this dealer lot had been just about the only one I hadn't gone to in the past few days of looking.

So Saturday morning after the kid's basketball games we swung by and took a look.
A teal green Taurus with tan interior, 4 door. Clean enough on the outside. It was a '97. Ugh...that made it almost 10 years old. My stubborn streak kicked in. NO! No way. Not another 'ancient' car. But, the kids wanted to take it for a spin, so what the hey,eh?
By now it was pouring rain...actually a good idea to test it under those conditions.
I could see if the wipers needed changing, if the headlights worked right and how it handled in wet conditions-important crap you don't sometimes think about.
This thing performed beautifully. My kids were excited-'Let's get it Mom! We like it!'
But what cinched the deal was the mileage. I was dumbfounded.
A car that old from around here would have close to 100,000 or more!
I had found the Holy Grail of cars around here. Newer car mileage at an older car price! No doubt this had belonged to an elderly couple who just drove it to church and Walmart. Sounds like a line, but in this case, probably true. There was no other explanation for the low miles.
I compromised.
It met with the approval of my in-laws (I spun over there during the test drive.)
but they were hinky about the price. We ran a blue book check on it and found that they were asking way more than the blue book. No doubt because of the awesome mileage.

So now we haggle.

Played phone tag with the guy for most of the day and threatened to walk a few times but by late afternoon it was a done a price I could live with. Just a wee bit above blue book, so everyone was happy.

I pick it up (all cleaned up and detailed) this afternoon.

It's funny in a way. If you connect the dots to this whole thing,it was my wanting something I couldn't have that led me to this deal. Once again, who sez God doesn't have a sense of humor?
It may not be what I want...but it's what I need. And that's what counts.
This car will do for now.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Your Mileage May Vary...

(the first of 2, possibly, 3 parts.)

For the first time in 20 years I'm car shopping.
The infamous Mommobile is on life-support, languishing at a local mechanics yard while I decide whether or not to pull the plug. Actually, it's fate is pretty much decided-it's just a question of HOW to dispose of the body.
But in the meantime, I'm car-less, which out here in the hills nowadays can be catastrophic. With 2 school age kids who have a plethora of school-related and after school activities and just the normal day to day of maintaining our existence here- a vehicle is a must, not an option. When I lived in California, I never even had a car until I was 24- didn't really need one, they had an excellent bus system and I had my bicycle...and my feet. I got around to work or whatever just fine.

But here, we are 20 or more miles from anything. Remote, isolated, rural. It was my choice and with choices there are consequences. Hopefully you can skim through life without those consequences making too big an impact on your life in a negative way,this is not such an occasion. For in return for being able to pee in your front yard if you have to without drawing the shock & ire of your neighbors, to burn your trash rather than be at the mercy of a pick-up service, to scream and holler when the mood strikes you without the worry of trying to explain it to law enforcement officers and live how you want to live without the bother of city ordinances or building codes, then there are trade-offs. Just being able to stroll over to the nearest "Dishonest John's" car lot when you need a new ride is one of them. Not a big deal normally, but when your car breathes it's last-it becomes a big deal.

I managed to get by for 5 days without a car. Then I had to ask a neighbor if I could use theirs so that I could get groceries. I was so happy for that small kindness.Once the death sentence was officially proclaimed on my rig it now became imperative I find a car. I had an "Oh Shit!" fund set aside for such an event. I had 5 large to work with-surely I could find something decent for that amount. Hell, I might get lucky and get something from this century! I have grown so weary of 15 and 10 year old cars-inevitably I would always be their last owner because I would drive 'em into the ground or until the wheels fell off-whichever came first.

If you've ever wonder what happened to Aunt Carol's Reliant when she finally traded it in I can assure you it's lying dead in some locals yard out here after being driven another 80,000 miles. The Ozarks are the great Detroit Graveyard...where the finest that our auto industry has produced comes to live out their final days, struggling through 2 feet deep mud on dirt roads in the spring, cracking their blocks in sub-zero wintertime, running their tires bald on the crappy blacktop highways, enduring all the indignity that a backseat full of young children ( unbuckled, by the way ) jacked up on Dollar General candy can bestow upon the once pristine interior, to say nothing about the beer spills, cigarette burns, 'whiskey dings' and other forms of torture that our denizens can muster upon them in their quest to get from point A to point B. These poor beasts slouch towards Bethlehem with broken springs, trashed CV joints, busted axles, blown head gaskets, smashed front ends-giving the last of their all in quiet desperation.

A nice in-law took pity on me and offered to loan me their truck for the time being. So in that rattletrap Chevy S-10 I embarked on my search for a new car.
The nearest car lot is about 26 miles away and since it's a small town, the selection is meager and ridiculously overpriced. In my jouneys the past 3 days, covering well over 300 miles, going north, south and eastward to various car lots I'm finding this to be the norm. I finally started to ask the salesmen about this. Last spring there seemed to be a glut of modest priced vehicles. I could have bought fairly decent Ford Tauruses all the doo dah day for 3 or if you could even find one it was about 7 or 8 thousand! All had the same answer: Katrina.

When that 'storm of the century' hit down there, decimating the Gulf coast the one thing them folks needed, besides a home, was a car! At least with a car you could get the hell elsewhere and start anew. So reasonably priced used cars were in demand...and the glut, following the basic law of supply and demand, went south-leaving us poor dumb bastards here with nothing to choose from and what was left going at premium prices. It made sense...that and the subsequent inflation of gas prices led folks to dump their SUV's and go for smaller sedans that are easier on the wallet. So now what we have here is a curious situation. If I so choose, I could get a great bargain on a bohemoth Jeep Cherokee-it would be right in my budget...but then I would have to sell it for gas money! A peculiar side effect from the simple laws of economics.

But, dammit, I still needed a car. My in-laws generousity would only last so far. After going almost a week without, I know they had to be hating it too. So the pressure was on to find something/anything! But my stubborn streak refused to give in to the easy temptation of yet another older car. No! I was gonna stand firm on that one point. 6 years was my threshold. 1999 or better. I knew one had to be out there...some where.
(to be continued...)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

.wmv Hell

Sometimes I think people should have a permit to get online.

Just as we don't let the inexperienced hit the highways of this country without at least proving they do have some ability and skill and basic knowledge of road etiquette, so should the great unwashed masses be able to show that they have some sense before embarking out on what most times amounts to a drunk driving spree on the 'information superhighway'.

It would save alot of us untold aggravation, time and unspeakable annoyance.

Of course, I'm referring to the email idiots. We all know 'em, we all have a few in our address books. They maybe close friends or just nodding acquaintances, but the havoc they can wreak from time to time can be maddening and enough to make an otherwise fairly normal person go postal. I had such a day yesterday.

It started with one lone idiot who had got a .wmv file in their email. A video file.
Apparently, they thought this was just too hysterically funny not to share with the rest of the world, so they forwarded it to me....and everyone in their address book or at least their "friends" list.
Unsuspecting lil' ol' me popped over to my household email account to check the mail and here it came! Now I know when that little icon with the notation "receiving mail" stays on for longer than 3 minutes with no new subject line coming up in the list I'm in trouble...someone is sending me a big file! Arrrrgggh. More often than not, it's something incredibly stupid, lame and not worth the bandwidth. But the process has begun-sure, I could just abort the download, but that's just a temporary fix...sooner or later you have to download it since it just stays, percolating away in your account-waiting...just biding its time. There's no escape...or at least none that I know of. So I let it go and went off to do something more useful while it downloaded.

A load of wash and a sinkfull of dishes later, I went back to see if it was done yet.
NOPE! It was still churning away. It had now been almost 30 minutes. I'm on dial-up, so my phone line is being tied up with this..and also contributing to the long download time for this whatever it was. This had better be good!
Go off to clean the bathroom. Come back-still loading!!
I let loose with a rather colorful turn of a phrase and it was as if I had utter a magic spell! It had finished! OK...let's open this thing and see if it was worth it and have my delete finger at the ready.
It was a short video of a commercial parody that I had got from someone else well over a year ago! I knew it immediately...DELETE! What a waste of time!
Whew, glad that's I can get on with my life. Famous last words.
Whoever initiated this had also sent it to a group of friends who also have me on their list. Most of them in turn must have all at once thought: "Oh! I bet LM would like this!" and they all collectively hit the Forward button.

Soon the madness began again...and again...and again...same vid clip...from 6 different people. It's a wonder my poor emburdened rig didn't crash and burn from the stress...I know I was about to go insane.

In all it took a good chunk of the afternoon for all this to come through and be promptly deleted. I felt trapped. And the missed call list on my Callwave was growing because my line was being tied up by this mass stupidity. And yet, I wager not one, nary a single soul who partook in this exercise of blantant email rudeness ever once thought "Gee, maybe so and so already sent them this." or bothered to check the recipient list. Obviously, they didn't. They were just so tickled by being empowered by the novelty of being able to just with a click forward "funny" stuff to everyone that they just did it...without a thought or care. Gee, Ain't the innernet great, y'all?

A Columbian necktie is too kind for fools like these.

And don't even get me started about chain emails-those send to 10 people in the next 20 minutes!!!-type things, or poorly re-written Prayers to St. Carla, our lady of perpetual, raging agony that you MUST forward to assure good luck or .jpegs that are not resized but rather sent in their original full sized format that requires 4 monitors to view! (like 30,000 x 15,000) and 9 times out of 10 are a pic that really wasn't worth the bother to send in the first place! (hint: they always have a subject line like "this is sooooo funny!" or "you just got to see this!!!" or "this is so cool!!!!!!!!" No, it's not.)

Now I gotta go check my ya dime to a doughnut there's at least one idiot on the mailing list from yesterday who didn't get a chance to forward that 'hysterical' vid to me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Am I a "Person of Interest" ?

Something's been bugging me for about a week or so. Triffling, perhaps. And maybe it is because I've been up in these hills too long-I'm out of touch with the rest of the nation, i.e. the heavily populated big city regions. So I'm not hip to the evolution of our language until something pops up in the media and suddenly these new words and phrases get crammed down your throat with every story relating to the subject.
It started with "person of interest". I can't recall which major news story it was, as it was a couple of years ago, but I can recall hearing that being used in reference to a suspect and thinking "Ah Jeez! That's P.C. taken too him what he is- A SUSPECT! Criminy...what's wrong with you people?" Person of interest- Heck, that could mean someone like The Amazing Kreskin or your quirky Aunt Flo, who can tell really funny jokes when she's had a few and is double jointed at the knees-now that's interesting!!
Now that stupid and banal phrase has pretty much filtered down into even the simple rural police departments as part of their vernacular. It's silly.

Now we got a new one: disposible cell phone.
What the frig is that?
This popped up prominently in a story recently about "disposible cell phones" being purchased in massive quanities at a Texas Walmart, and is now worming it's way into the buzz word category.
Through no choice of my own, I shop at Walmart-it's the only thing really available to us in the hills, aside from Dollar General- let's not get into the politics of that here, the Chinese slave labor producing all those delightful cheap goods and all that crap, that's for another time and place.
In all the times I have got their sales tabloid in my mail box never once have I seen that phrase used with a sale. I've never seen, say like : "Nokia Disposible Cell Phones....10% Off!!"
Never has a sales associate used those 3 words grouped together as we talked about cell phone choices at the Home Electronics counter. I have never heard my friends and family use that phrase when referencing a phone they bought. So I was initially left wondering, "What the hell do they mean?!" Disposible? That brings to mind something you use once (or twice, if you're a tightwad like me) and then toss. Are they made of cardboard? Do they run on a watch battery with just enough juice for one 40 second call? What are we talking about here?

I finally figured out that they meant the "pay as you go" type phones. At least that's the best I can, in my humbly ig'nert mind, figure out.
These phones have been around for quite sometime and it's a great concept! Heck, I have one.
Like alot of folks, I just couldn't justify paying 60 bucks a month for a service I MIGHT use 2 or 3 times a month, if that. But I would spring 60 bucks, initially, for a phone that I could use for emergencies (like when the head gasket blew on my car the other night out in the middle of nowhere.) and pay in advance for the time I might use on it every other month or so. I always buy the lowest increment of time, about 20 bucks and it rolls over-I have now about 3 hours worth of talk time on my phone-that gives ya some idea of how much I use it, which is nearly zip...but I'm glad I do have it if the crap hits the fan, or if the power goes out here at the house, etc. They're handy, but disposible? Man, ain't no way I'd get rid of mine! It's just like the fancy-schmatzy cell phones big city folk use, it's slick...even has a color screen. Disposible? No way.

Anyway, so this story breaks about massive amounts of DCP's being bought at a Walmart (I have just gone ahead and made that phrase an acromyn, because, let's face it, someone will eventually!) and naturally, the first thought is TERRORISTS. Sure, I'd make that connection.
Any rational person would. Afterall, why else would anyone with an accent, who his buds call Akmed be buying about a 100 or so of these babies in one whack? I don't think it's because he has a very extensive family or Christmas gift list. All these phones usually come with about 20 minutes worth of time, gratis, upon activation. That's enough time to commit who knows what kind of mayhem.
Now when I activated my phone, I had to give up all kinds of info-all the usual stuff, even a c/c number. But I'm an honest person and the info I gave was accurate-naturally these guys wouldn't. BUT you do have to enter the actual serial number of the phone in so that which ever company you bought the phone from can activate it. So at least there's a record of it somewhere, that could be tracible. But that won't really matter, I guess, if the phone is already in a pile at some urban landfill after detonating a dirty bomb somewhere in a highly populated region.

I guess what is bugging me is the insinuation... that DCP's are now an instrument of EVIL. That if you have one or bought one recently, you could be a "person of interest". Dearie me!
The Powerline story that I linked above brings up whether the report of this is even kosher to begin with. I must admit, when I first heard this news story, my first thought was about another chicken little type story about UPS uniforms being bought on eBay in large quanities.
But either way...real or contrived, the damage is done. The simplistic, pretzel logic will follow and become part of the mindset of this country- I have a disposible cell phone, terrorists use disposible cell phones, therefore I must be a terrorist.
Soon it will a point of uncomfortable shame to even admit you have a Simple Freedom phone or TracPhone.
I could be "person of interest".

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Jack Bauer Hour of Power

As a rule I don't do network TV. Most of the programs in the past 8 years or so have been stupid, vulgar, tasteless and silly. Or too insipid...Touched by an Angel comes readily to mind. Crap, that was a dumb show-but America loved it, I guess. The last network series that I allowed myself to get completely sucked into was E.R.-that was a Don't Miss for many years. But when they killed off Dr. Greene with brain cancer, that was too much for this ol' gal to take. At the time, the parallels to my own life were too similar. I was dealing with cancer in my own home. Dr. Greene's on air passing came just weeks after my own husband had passed away. That was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. I couldn't take it. So no more getting emotionally invested in TV for me.

Awhile back-many moons, actually, I had heard and read the buzz about a new show on Fox. The concept was novel enough: a series that runs an hour-in real time! It was an action/adventure show, focusing on the life of a CIA-type agent-the character's name was Jack Bauer, played by Kiefer Sutherland-who, in my opinion is a purty darn good actor-better than his old man, actually. Each episode would cover an hour of events in whatever latest global crisis was on tap for that season. A season would be 24 episodes, as in hours in a day, hence the title: "24" This sounded absolutely brilliant!
Alas! I could not even so much catch the premier episode-at the time we were still enslaved to DirecTV-so no local channels. Oh yeah, I could have got the network channels for places like NYC and Detroit-but why? It added too much to the already steep tab I had with them. Nope. Sorry. Then Dish Network blew into town with local channels at the same price I was paying for Direct with no locals-it was an easy decision. We switched.
But by then "24" had fallen off my radar screen. I had other fish to fry and attend to-I couldn't get bogged down with watching a weekly show-besides, I didn't even know if it was still on.
But prior to the holiday I heard the buzz again-"24" was launching their 5th season in Jan. AHHA! Time and days were noted for the season opener. OK...let's give this puppy a whirl and see how it flies...
That's all I can say.
I'm am now totally and completely sucked into this show.

Think of every Bruce Willis/Die Hard film you've seen, compressed into an hour and you get the idea. The tension and action is nonstop. I was screaming-yes-screaming at my TV the whole time ("NO! Don't tell him anything! He's a mole!!!" "What is that? A tracking device?...OH crap! Get out now! They've spotted you!!" "Oh My God...It's plutonium!!" ) It sounds ridiculous now, but I guess I'm not alone. Alot of people were screaming at their TV sets this past Sunday and Monday evenings.
Just an unbelieveably amazing show. Violent, hell yes, and at times rather graphic. Realistic? depends on your view of our government and how all the different branches of it works. But the suspension of belief works it's magic as you get so drawn into the non-stop unfurling of events and the insane twists and turns.
The cast, brilliant. The writing superb, the pacing and editing unreal for a TV show. The 4 episodes I've seen so far are movie theater quality, not some cheapass network drama.
This show kicks ass.
I'm so there! I can't wait for the next episode.
This is truly MUST SEE TV.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

"Details?....Meet Devil; Devil?... This is Details."

In an earlier post this week I made mention of a website I was re-doing. Now I enjoy this kind of work. I really do. But the part I really hate is when I have all the pages just as I want them and everything looks pretty and happy and I'm satified with my work and now I must tweak.
I hate tweaking.
Tweaking is what I call the final steps in creating a nice, halfway decent site. This is when you go through, page by page, item by item, text box by text box, graphic by graphic and try to compress, squeeze, adjust, modify and otherwise make subtle changes in the code files so that everything loads up just as nice and pretty and fast once online as it does in 'preview' mode. This also when you double, triple and quadruple check any links on each page to make sure they go where they are suppose to and work correctly. It can be mindnumbing work, repetitive and slow-but it's essential, unless you're shooting for something that looks like this!
( which, btw, is a site spoofing BAD websites. It's near perfect in it's badness-except he's got it to load like gangbusters, which if it truly was as bad as it is, it would take about 15 minutes to load with dial-up-I really would like to know how he achieved this-but the guy's a geeky computer egghead, so he's privy to mojo I don't have.)

Anyway, so I'm in the midst of tweaking this site which is mostly out of consideration of the persons who may eventually view this site. You need to cut the fat, make it load up in a decent amount of time-something, being on dial-up- I'm all too well conscious of. I strive to get these files as skinny as possible without losing anything in the translation. This gives the illusion that maybe you actually know what you're doing and does not annoy. As I said, this phase of the process is tedious and boring...and I get easily sidetracked and this lack of control always leads to problems. I have no one to blame but myself.

This time after pouring over and fixing about 6 pages of a 13 page site I got an idea. This is a retail site I'm working on and the 'buy' buttons, although cute and functional, were blah. I knew of a little trick I could do to make them appear that they light up when clicked. Hmmm, I could try that. It would just mean generating another little graphic and since I had cut gobs of fat already, I could spare that. It might be neat.
OK, so I did my little trick. Yes, the buttons looked neat-o and lit up as they were suppose to...except now the link to the cart wouldn't work! Arrrrgh! Ok, back to square one. Dangit!
I bagged my idea, deleted that graphic and the command and now we're back to blah buttons and cart links that work. True, I could take the time to try and figure out a way to make the links work AND still have the buttons light up but I really didn't have the patience for that and I could see where it would lead to-even more unnecessary weirdness. So, blah buttons will do for now. Time to get back to work at hand. But now I can't remember just where in my tweaking I left off! Was I in the middle of page 6 or page 5? Or maybe I got as far as page 7? I couldn't recall. I hate when that happens.
So now I have to review and double check...more tediousness. (just like this post!)
I do this all the time and I hate myself for it. It just burns up more time and makes the process more painful than it needs to be. I should finally figure out to leave well enough alone...but I don't. I always tell myself to make sure I have a notepad at my elbow so I can make these sort of notations to myself as to where I left off...but even if I have a notepad, I don't write it down!
The mind is a terrible thing!
I had big hopes that this site would be live by Tuesday, but at this rate-don't hold your breath!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Hardy Har Har !

Funny take on the Alito hearings, thanks to the genius at Think Sink.
(The pics take awhile to load up if your still on dial-up, but stick around-it's worth it.)

The Duke of Timex and this Really Sucks

This Sunday it will have been a week since Dennis, the Wonder Mutt was run over by a 4-wheeler.
This story, however has a happy ending. Once again this cast iron pooch has dodged a bullet-his vehicular dodging skills are in dire shape, unfortunately. He just can't turn down a good chase.

Last Sunday some locals came ripping down our road at a high rate of speed on their 4-wheelers. Since the afternoon was so gorgeous and warm, the kids and the dogs were outside in the backyard. I was inside taking care of domestic duties. I heard the 4-wheelers, I heard the dogs light out after them at full bark. I went out and hollered at them: the dogs AND the locals-it isn't the 1st time they have tore through here that fast. I'm old and I get cranky...and I don't like folks speeding through here. I got kids and critters. So I get pissed. So sue me.
Anyway, I could see at least one of my dogs down the road, so I went back in. They'll be back in a bit.
Then my kids started hollering: " Mom!! Dennis is hurt! He's bleeding!!"
I go out back and here comes Dennis, trotting up, wagging his tail-all the usual happy dog stuff. He looked fine, at 1st glance.

He wasn't.
His back right leg was all tore up-the vet calls it 'scalping' and that's exactly what it is. The fur and skin layer underneath ripped right off in scattered patches, leaving oozey bald spots. On the side of his back paw was a deep gash/wound-that's where the blood was coming from. I could see a glimpse of bone, that's how deep it was and about the size of a nickle-which on Dennis is big. Patches of fur on his chest and belly were missing and his front right paw was cut up too.
Ahhhhh, jeez!

This isn't the 1st time he's got clipped. He's trotted home on numerous occasions with some mild scalping-indicating that he had got alittle too close to rolling tires. But this was the worst. He was banged up pretty good, by my estimation-but he seemed oblivious to the damage. He was wanting a cookie. (that's what we call dog biscuits)
I put him in the house and tried to assess the damage. He seemed alert and relatively okay, so it was a watch and see sitch. He got down to business taking care of the bad wound himself-by licking on it. As much as I hate that sound, I let him have at it this time. Dog spit is remarkably healing, or so I'm told.
By morning that leg at the hock was as big as an orange. Worries of fractures led me to take him to the vet this time. No breaks, but she did tell me he had been VERY lucky this time. Well, hell, I knew that. Just try and convince him of that! That's the problem-breaking him of this dangerous habit. Because I know my neighbors aren't gonna slow down any!

In honor of this dubious achievement- Dennis, now lovingly refered to as "Timex" will be my feature profile pic for now.

Now to totally shift gears...
I finally broke down and bought a new vacuum cleaner. I just got done trying it out and I can see already it was a very bad choice. Since my floors are now mostly laminate, I really didn't need a big, honking beast of a vacuum. But I wanted something with more cajones that an 'LetricBroom. The selection at the local StuporCenter was sparse and they all looked like something that would have been imported from the Soviet Union. Big, brooding clunky awkward looking things and a ridiculous price tacked on.
Now I've always been a Eureka gal-always went for their bottom end bag model (at about 30 bucks). Only been through 2 in the 20 years I have been here. Just a basic, functional workhorse of a vacuum that was solid enough to put up with this Ozark dirt and mountains of dog hair that accumilate inside Chez Mac. Every now and then the cheap plastic fan would lose some fins, but they were easy and cheap enough to replace myself. No complaints.
So, after putting it off for weeks I finally broke down and got another Eureka. Only you can't get bag models least here. They had this interesting little jobber : The Boss-Pro
Ugly as all get out. Silver tone plastic from top to bottom and a dirt cup, rather than a bag. Hmmmmm.
I studied the outside of the box carefully, trying to glean any information I could that might assist with my decision. I priced replacement filters which were nearby. I thought they were abit high...but if one only has to replace them every now and then, then maybe that wasn't so bad. I finally held my nose and toss the box in my cart. I slapped it together and fired it up as soon as I got home.
It was quiet, I'll give it that. The "on board" tools were a joke. Once connected, it barely had enough oomph to barely draw up a little dust bunny on a shelf. I did the rug in the front room which is about 4' x 6' and had to empty the dirt cup for all the dirt and dog hair. Now, this can say that it really does have some suction and got what my old beater had missed but if I have to stop, unclip, remove and empty this dirt cup every 24 sq. feet this is gonna really blow! As it was, I emptied it 4 times just doing the bedroom and hallway. What a pain in the butt!!
This just sucks...period.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I'm Still Waiting For My "Flying Car"...

I'm dating myself, but I call vividly recall all those Popular Science magazine covers from the '60's proclaiming that by the 1980's we'd all have flying cars...still waiting!
Maybe I need to talk to this guy.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Color Me Clueless...

This past week I've been re-working a website. Coming up with a new look for the new year I guess. For no apparent reason I went with an orange background and I must say, in my own ignorant way, I really like it! This has led me to wonder if there's something more going on here. Why we like the colors that we do or why we chose one color over another or control someone subliminally with it. So, a-Googling I go!
Found alot about color and the 'secret' meanings and how color affects a web design and so on.
Thought this bit from a site was interesting :

Orange combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. It is associated with joy, sunshine, and the tropics. Orange represents enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation.
To the human eye, orange is a very hot color, so it gives the sensation of heat. Nevertheless, orange is not as aggressive as red. Orange increases oxygen supply to the brain, produces an invigorating effect, and stimulates mental activity. It is highly accepted among young people. As a citrus color, orange is associated with healthy food and stimulates appetite. Orange is the color of fall and harvest. In heraldry, orange is symbolic of strength and endurance.

Considering all those wonderful attributes, I guess it's no surprize then that I went with orange!
And it may explain why I can't seem to get away from working on it! I just feel so damn happy laying out the pages and time just whizzes by. How weird, huh?
But in my search I came across a few clunkers. This page gives pointers and insight into color, but it's so hideously laid out who can stick around long enough to read the whole thing? Ow! My eyes!! Strangely enough at the bottom of the page is a link : "Some web design guidelines"
No Thanks! I'll pass after seeing what y'all think is perfectly ok in design.
Now if you'll excuse me, I gotta get back to orangeville...

Sick, Twisted and WRONG!

This is soooo wrong on so many levels I can't even begin to say. What sort of sick & twisted, malformed mental midgets would even want to have anything to do with this bunch?
This is from a paper in Indiana.

Radicals to protest at funeral

Courier Press ^ | 1/6/2006 | Philip Elliott

When Army Pvt. Jonathan Pfender is buried, the sidewalks outside the funeral home will be lined with protesters.

The Topeka, Kan.,-based Westboro Baptist Church has long demonstrated at gay funerals, but recently members have taken their anti-homosexual message to military funerals - even when there is no indication the deceased were gay. Pfender, 22, died when a bomb exploded near his vehicle in Iraq last Friday.

His death, church members say, is God's punishment to a country that has turned away from the Bible. "One of (God's) weapons of choice is an IED," said Shirley Phelps-Roper, the daughter of Westboro Baptist Church founder the Rev. Fred Phelps.

"Our forum of choice must be soldiers' funerals. Our job is to show America her abominations. God is punishing America ..." (hey! y'all gotta mirror handy??!! I'm lookin' at one of her biggest abominations: the westboro church!)

Pfender's mother, Peggy Jo Hammond, called the plan outrageous.

"He fought for their freedom and they think they're going to protest my son's funeral?" she said. "Let them show up, because they're going to be sorry they're coming. They're not going to be welcome." (Atta Girl, Peggy Jo!! Sic 'em!!!)

The church's past efforts have sparked violence, and The Southern Poverty Law Center labels Westboro Baptist Church a hate group. It enjoys tax-exempt status, and although it uses Baptist in its title, it is not affiliated with any major Baptist organization. Members picketed a Billy Graham's New York revival last year because the Southern Baptist evangelist refused to adopt their "God Hates Fags" message.

The group gained its widest exposure protesting during the funeral for Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming teen who was killed because he was gay. But the church in recent years has been expanding its targets. Members demonstrated at Fred Rogers' funeral because, they said, TV's "Mr. Rogers" had a responsibility as a Presbyterian pastor to condemn gays. And last year, the church began a campaign to cause a ruckus at often media-heavy military funerals.

On Monday, about 20 members protested a funeral in Wheeler, Texas. Members waved signs that read "God Hates Fag Enablers" and "God Sent the IEDs."

Phelps-Roper was among them. "This generation raised a nation that believes it's OK and that God loves everyone," she said. "God doesn't love fags. God hates fags." ( Alright, duly noted. And to some extent, I please tell me what in the frig this has to do with protesting military funerals??!! And why on earth y'all think you have been appointed to speak for God, the last I checked He never said anything to me about endorsing you idiots! Get a grip will ya! Everythings going to all are screwing up the works!Yes, God does hate alot of things...and something tells me you guys are at the top of the list!)

Westboro Baptist Church, with a membership of about 100, is finding increased scorn now that slain soldiers are targets. ( a hundred???!!! Holy Moley...there's a couple of lil' ol' country churches around here with just about and maybe more in their congregations...hey, let's round 'em up and go over there and kick their butts!! I'm sure there's a few righteously indignant hillbilly gals here who could easily smack the crap out of one of the westboro men!)

The Kansas Legislature passed a law banning picketing at funerals, and Indiana and Oklahoma are considering similar moves to curb the church's activities.

Indiana state Sen. Brent Steele has introduced legislation in response to the group's Aug. 28 protest at a Martinsville, Ind., funeral, where six Westboro members dragged U.S. flags on the ground and shouted at the soldier's family. Steele's bill would make disorderly conduct a felony punishable by a three-year prison sentence and $10,000 fine if committed during military funerals. The proposal includes funeral homes, processions and grave sites.

"I've got a lot of people signed onto the bill. It looks like it will pass without trouble," the Bedford, Ind., Republican said. "I don't think there will be a bit of trouble." The bill will be heard in committee Jan. 11.

Phelps-Roper, a lawyer like her disbarred father, said any measure would be challenged.

The church operates Web sites, and that are filled with intentionally incendiary material. For example, church leaders sent a news release celebrating the deadly Nov. 6 Evansville-area tornado.

"Thank God for the Indiana Tornado that killed 22, injured 230 ... We humbly pray for many such visitations of God's wrath on Indiana," they wrote.

And this week, they lauded the death of the West Virginia miners and announced plans to picket those funerals as well.

Phelps-Roper said death is divine retribution for tolerating homosexuality.

"America has sinned away its day of grace," she said. "America is doomed."

Y'know, the antics of this so called "church" has of late got me so friggin' mad and disgusted I can't even begin to compose a coherent sentence addressing I won't. Instead, let me just add 2 thoughts.
Deut. 32:35 "It is mine to avenge; I will repay.In due time their foot will slip;their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them." (this here is God talking in that verse-in case ya didn't know that. The westboro wee-wee heads have seemed to have forgotten that verse-in other words: Butt out! God's got a handle on things.)
and my favorite, taken from the* 2nd book of Hilljilly, chapter 1, verse 9:
"Smile, God loves you!...but the rest of us think y'all are a bunch of a**holes."

So ends our little sermon for this Sunday.

(*for all the great unwashed out there, the book of Hilljilly is justa joke.)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Guaranteed Nightmares

OK, I'm an old pro of animal freak sideshows and I've lived up here in the hills for the past 20 years. I've seen my share of 5-legged frogs, 2 headed lambs, calves with 6 legs, the always favorite 2 headed snake and any other critter anomly out there. But DAMN if this ain't one to creep the drawers right off ya!
Click if you dare!
Don't say I didn't warn you.
(tip to Free Republic.)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Too Funny Not to Share

But too long to post in it's entirety-so just a link will do.
"The Proper Care and Feeding of Moonbats"

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You! ( don't hold your breath)

Well, this certainly will be a tough sell for their P.R. people :

Director To Explore Suicide Bombers Mind

By Krittivas Mukherjee

MUMBAI, India (Reuters) - A Bollywood director plans to make a film inspired in part by July's London bombings that will explore the story of a would-be suicide bomber struggling to reconcile the message of radical Islam with an appetite for life.

Mahesh Bhatt's Suicide Bomber, to be set in Britain and India, will also seek to spread the message that Islam is a religion of peace, mercy and forgiveness, the leading director told Reuters on Wednesday. (and failing that, blowing folks and stuff up. It is an effective proselytizing technique, however- I know I truly wanted to embrace Luthernism after that bunch of hard-core, radical Luthern extemists burned my barn down!)

"Muslims are demonized by the western nations especially after the so-called war on terror. The gulf between Muslims and the rest of the world is widening," Bhatt said. (DUH! Start acting like civilized people and y'all won't have that problem!!! The rest of us all think you're savages. Sorry, truth hurts.)

"The film will be an attempt to clarify Islam is not demonic and to delve into the mind of a young suicide bomber to try to find out what drives him to reject life for a violent death." (Hmmm, not demonic? Interesting. I was always of the opinion that anything that destroys your spirit and soul and advocates the destruction of innocents as well as yourself to be demonic...but hey, don't take my word for it- Just ask the congregation of the People's Temple.)

Bhatt's 21-year-old son, Rahul, will play the lead role -- an Asian Muslim living in Britain who is drawn by radical ideology to kill himself and others in the name of faith, but who fails in his deadly mission and flees to India...(presumably with a noticible limp or missing appendages. )

Am I the only one who sees the weirdness of having the words suicide, bomber, peace, mercy and forgiveness all in the same sentence?

Pass the popcorn and the C-4, please!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Overheard at the Dollar Store...

This one's a classic! I was at the D/G this evening and overheard 2 women talking over by the computer games-and since I'm pretty darn sure either one of these gals will never, ever read this- I'd like to share this delightfully ig'nert piece of theological insight with you:

"Well, y'know, in the Bible... in Revelations... it tells ya about a little square box inside yer home that sits in the corner and Satan lives in it. Now I usta think they meant the TV, but now I'm a thinkin' it means a computer!"

Yeah... St. John must have forseen Windows Vista or NBC's new season line-up.

(Gawd, I love them 4 square sanctified pentecostal hillbillies! The jokes just write themselves.)

Johnny's in the basement, mixing up the medicine...

It was an enlightening holiday this past year. My kids are creeping into the teen years- rather what they call now "pre-teen", so the wish lists were reflecting that change. More requests for clothes rather than toys, more music cd's and the contraptions to play such same on...all the trappings of kids beginning to define who they are. It's kinda neat, but kinda sad at the same time.
The biggest surprize was my youngest. Her list was evenly balanced with requests for Bratz dolls (those hideously scarey "fashion" dolls that are replacing Barbies in some circles-something about them makes me uneasy) and asking for certain books and cd's. It was her cd that caught my attention-she only wanted one. It was simply stated: a Bob Dylan cd
Whoa! Where'd that come from?? It made me smile and to paraphrase one of his album titles-it brought it all back home.

My childhood was spent hearing almost nothing but the Beatles and Bob Dylan. At one time I honestly thought there were only 2 record companies: Columbia and Capitol . Capitol having the more cooler label, in my opinion- that rainbow band that encircled the black inner label. Columbia having a boring stoplight red with that curious icon in a white square offset from the center. Never did know what the heck that was suppose to represent-much like that weird antennae-like icon on Nabisco products. Maybe when I die and am entrusted with all the knowledge of the universe I'll find out.
Anyway, my taste in music was at the mercy of my older brother-he was the one who bought all the Dylan and Beatles and listened to them every waking minute he was at home. He had every Dylan and Beatle album that came out between 1960 and 1970. This was the soundtrack of my childhood. I liked Dylan...didn't understand half of what he said, but I still liked it. I thought he was funny.

Now as an adult-and a very old one at that-I no longer struggle to stay cutting edge. Most of what passes for music now with the "kids" I consider total crap...congratulations: I am now my parents! I prefer to have the car radio on an oldies station and that's where my youngest first heard of Dylan. "Like a Rolling Stone" was playing, I naturally cranked it up and sang along. The words of that song, now with age and maturity making way more sense now than when I was 8.
"Mom, I like that song." came a little voice from the backseat. That made me smile. "What's a diplomat?" she asked. Wow, she was actually listening to the words, too.
Shortly after that little incident PBS ran that 2 part documentary about Dylan. That was a must see for me. My kids wandered in just as it was starting and they stayed for the whole thing.
This made the seduction complete for my youngest. She was completely fascinated by this geek with the bed-head hair."This is the guy that does that song you like." I told her.
"Really?" she was surprized. Then leaned over and confided in me, "He's kinda cute." the words cute and Dylan are 2 that one wouldn't expect to hear in the same sentence.
I was somewhat taken aback by that. Of course, she was seeing the circa 1966 Dylan. But it's that image she's smittened with. It's kinda weird. While the rest of her peer group are swooning over Jesse McCartney or whoever the pretty-boy singer du jour is at the moment with that bunch, here's mine totally hung up on a 60's iconoclast. She's in a time warp...but one at least I can relate to.
So it was with great joy and amusement that I sought out a Dylan cd for her. It was tough around these parts to find one from the right era. Wally World was only stocking the companion cds from the PBS program and as much as I love my kids-I ain't about to drop 30 bucks on any music-regardless who it's by or who it's for! I finally found a copy of one of his early greatist hits albums in a bookstore. That'll do! It was one I remember from my brothers collection.
So Christmas morning she squealed with abject delight upon unwrapping it. She's been playing the heck out of it since.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Those who can't do... Teach.

Those who think they know me may be surprized to learn that I'm a substitute teacher at the church I and my kids attend.
I admit I don't fall into the stereotypical mold when the phrase Sunday School Teacher comes up.
Such an image conjures up a strict piety, a near sinless life, an example for others and inside knowledge of this whole faith and belief thing. I have none of those qualities.
If the situation calls for it, I'll let a choice epithet slide from my lips. I have been known on certain hot, sweltery days to enjoy an ice cold adult beverage in social settings. My notions of faith, God and all things related to it don't tow the company line as far as my home church is concerned (or at least, I suspect my beliefs in large part don't) But I do enjoy learning and pondering things of a Godly nature, so I guess that's a start.
It's a job I took on reluctantly several months ago. Our adult class leader asked me if I would agree to be a sub for her. She's a dear woman, but getting up in years and would appreciate a break now and then. She evidently saw something in me that made her think I could handle the job-or at least be good at it. I have a strong genetic hambone in me and a voice that can project clear across a large room. At least one of those qualities would be a plus. But other than that, I really didn't feel up to tackling the task. It scared me. To me it's an awesome responsibility. It's not rocket's peoples faith and edification of spirituality we're talking here....that's way more complicated than rocket science! At least with rocket science one has certain absolutes you can teach upon. Things that are just fact, mathematical truths that have been proven time and time again. Not so teaching this sort of subject matter. Add to the mix that I myself am in a constant state of wondering, searching and questioning and you can see my dilemma. How could I, in good faith, teach when I myself don't really have a clue, either?

But nevertheless, I took on the mantle. I was supplied with all the duplicate teaching material and put on stand-by. To be ready when ever the need arose. This past Sunday, New Year's day, was such an occasion. Our regular teacher's husband had come down with pneumonia. I got hit with the call on Friday-that gave me barely 2 days to prepare. She assured me it was an 'easy lesson' this week. I had already had a few class sessions under my belt by this point-but almost always with a weeks notice to prepare. This one would be a bear, in my thinking, no matter how 'easy' it was. I was rushed for time.

Ironically, the subject that Sunday would be about having faith that God would see you through difficult tasks. It drew on a passage from First Timothy-Paul's letter to his young mentoree giving advice on how to handle that disentious congregation that Paul was handing Timothy the keys to. The church there at Ephesus was having major problems. All kinds of weird teaching was worming it's way through the ranks and things were falling apart. Paul felt that Timothy could whip these guys into shape and get a handle on things and get 'em back on track. It was about encouragement, seeking wisdom from the Almighty to get you through a tough job, etc. The lesson only focused on the few paragraphs at the start of the book. If one ventured deeper into that whole letter you'd find Paul's admonishment about women remaining silent in the church and how he felt that women had no place to teach. Uh oh. That opinion alone has been enough to convince me that not all of Paul's writings were "divine". Too much of his own biases and opinions worked their way into his missives. But yet millions of churches hang on to every word of his as if they had been uttered by God Himself.
By making that blanket statement, he had denied the value of any woman to lead or teach...period. Was he himself forgetting about lil' Debbie? The only person in all of Israel, at that time, who had enough hair on their backside to stand up and lead the nation when all the menfolk were peeing their drawers in fear of the enemy? And what about her silent partner in this great victory? Jael? Now that's a gal that really inspires me! Nailing a guys head to the ground with a big tent peg is not for the squeamish. And in my opinion, Jael is the real hero of that tale-although she barely rates a few lines, but what a story those few sentences tell! Out of all the women mentioned in the Bible-those are the 2 I would really love to be able to knock back a cold one with and just talk.

Ok, so you can tell by all that my style of teaching is, uh, perhaps non conventional. That's how I would like to talk in class. I'm more comfortable with colorful speech and coarse talk, injected with a little humorous phrasings than with more staid, eggheady dissertations. But, I have to keep a lid on it. Our adult class is what comics would call a tough room. My true style would freak them out beyond belief. Anyway, as usual, I have digressed here...
Back to the story:
Ok, so I've busted my butt, reading and studying, researching. For some reason I thought it important that I get a fix on how old Timothy was at the time of this letter. We all know he was younger than Paul and Paul had a fatherly affection for the boy, but just how old was he when Paul laid this task at his feet? Mid-20's? Early 30's? All the experts are silent on this. I could find nothing, noone who would even venture a guess at his age. This was important to me-I felt it was vital to the lesson that I point out how young he was when saddled with this responsibility. But I got bupkis. Ok, I'd have to wing it on that part.

By Saturday evening I had the whole thing outlined. I knew just how I was gonna do this class.
I was confident. I had my notes, my references, my chalkboard bits (we have a chalkboard in our classroom and when I teach, I use it alot...a great time stretcher!) I was all set to teach this class. Now I could relax and enjoy my New Year's eve.

Sunday morning I show up, lugging my materials, ready to get this over with. In keeping with the general theme of the lesson, I got broadsided by something I wasn't anticipating!
The attendance that Sunday, for whatever reason was sparse-enough so that the church mucky-mucks made a snap decision to COMBINE the adult classes! Now normally, our class is down in the basement-our class is a tight knit group, I know what I can get away with and all our visual aids and my beloved chalkboard are down there. There is also a capacious podium on which I can spread out all my books, quarterlies and Bible and have them all right there. The geezer adult class- and I say that with affection, mind you-is held in the sanctuary, proper. And it was there that they decided to hold class, since navigating the basement stairs would be a hardship for most of the senior adult class. Oh! Wonderful! I thought I was off the hook for teaching that day since the seniors class teacher would take the helm. That lasted about 10 seconds. Then one of the ushers began asking me if I would need a microphone as he dragged out the teeny tiny lectern that the senior class teacher uses. OH CRAP! I glanced about and saw that their teacher wasn't there today either! I was it. I would be the leader for BOTH classes!
I had less than 20 seconds notice to adapt my lesson plan. No chalkboard, no visual room to spread out my reference material-just me and a lectern that was barely big enough to support one puny hymnal. And a room full of hearing impaired folks. Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor? I was about to become the object lesson for that day.

AH HA! That's the angle I'll use!
After a couple of false starts, it was decided that I would need a microphone afterall-since it was apparent that some of these folks didn't get hearing aid batteries in their Christmas stockings. This added to my anxiety. Now I would be conscious of staying close to the mike stand, tethered in one spot, trying to remind myself to speak into the stupid thing. Normally I gesture with my hands as I speak and move about. This situation was agony for me. I just wanted to disappear. Every spelling bee I ever took part in in school came screaming back to me. It was that kind of pressure.

The classes only run about 45 minutes, but it was a very long, long, long 45 minutes. I hemmed, I hawed, I er'd and umm'd but somehow I stumbled through it all. And like any horrific experience- it was a blur. I can't even recall now just what I said! I know I went off on a few nervous tangents that barely were connected to the subject matter and about 4 minutes after it was all over all kinds of really brilliant stuff came to mind that I should have brought up during the lesson. Oddly enough, I was being congratulated for doing such a terrific job! They're just being polite, I was sure of it. How could anyone had gleaned anything from that disasterous train wreck was beyond me. Later that day, our regular teacher called me-apparently someone had filled her in about my fiasco and she praised me for tackling the job and apologized for the church putting me in a very awkward situation of having to teach 2 classes at once. It was an interesting call. Afterwards I realized the lesson for the day had come full circle. Just as Paul had dumped a thankless job on Timothy and built him up with confidence and encouragement and full assurance that he, Paul, knew the kid was up to the job; so had my teacher with me.
But in all honesty, after only walking about 15 feet in Timothy's shoes (or would that be sandals?) I was more than glad to toss them back to him.