Saturday, August 27, 2011

"Hey, We Noticed You Looking At..."


I noticed you noticed we were looking at cordless phones, and I thought you might be interested to know that we actually bought one from you... just a few days ago.  So, no, we are not currently planning to buy another cordless phone, even though this is the second time in two days you have e-mailed us about them. 


P.S. Some people might think it's kind of creepy if you e-mail them saying you "noticed" their shopping habits.  (I may or may not be one of them.)  Sure, they know that you're an online business and keep track of that kind of thing, but we tend not to think about it on a daily basis, and when it's blatantly pointed out to us, it feels weird, like some guy's been following us around while we shop, taking note of what brand of cereal and shampoo we buy. Alright, occasionally we find it useful, like when we can just click on one of the "recently viewed" objects on the home page, rather that having to search for it all over again.  However, this is not the first time you have suggested that I might be interested in something I have just purchased from you.  Food for thought. 

Waiting for Irene

In a completely unsurprising development, it looks like (fortunately) Irene won't be nearly as bad as it could have been-- and as many made it out to be.  I guess we could cut the media some slack and say that it's best to be prepared for the worst and "avoid another Katrina"... Or we could give a knowing shake of the head and say something about how they'd probably still blow these things out of proportion even if they magically knew in advance that a particular hurricane wasn't "the Perfect Storm", after all.  (They can't help themselves!)  Or we can just try to simply be thankful that it doesn't look like it's going to be as bad as feared... and leave it at that (keeping lessons learned in mind for future predicted "Storms of the Century"). 

Cue extended Tropical Weather Rant (mostly composed yesterday, but left in draft mode because I couldn't decide if it was worth clicking "Publish" for...):

Friday morning, I saw someone basically complaining that New Yorkers (meaning those from New York City, I think) weren't taking Hurricane Irene seriously enough.

. . . Honestly, I think they'll be fine.  I mean, go ahead and make emergency preparations, of course, and if you live in a flood-prone area or somewhere that may get storm surge, your safety is more threatened-- but in general, it feels like the media is just going nuts over Irene.  More nuts than it probably deserves.

Earlier in the week, I listened while a talk radio host encouraged "veterans" of hurricanes to call in with advice for those who haven't faced tropical weather before.  Almost every person I heard (didn't listen to the whole thing) either told a horror story or suggested ominously and peremptorily that anyone in the potential path of a hurricane should "GET OUT NOW!!" (Grab your photos, jump in the car, and drive. More or less.)

Obviously, some people should get out-- or have already gotten out, at this point.  Again, do you live in an area where flash flooding is at all likely?  Right on the water / in an area that might get storm surge?  If so, I'd leave.  Even if you can't or don't want to go far away, find a local hurricane shelter.  Most of the deaths caused by hurricanes are from flooding.  It's a serious threat.

However, what most people don't explain is that (depending on the storm's path once it goes inland) you may have to travel very far from the coast to avoid it entirely.  Sometimes, the inland areas get violent weather, too-- high winds, tornadoes and flash flooding-- and then you're stuck waiting out some nasty weather in a hotel room, in an unfamiliar place. 

If you have pets, they add another layer to the decision, because it can sometimes be difficult to evacuate with animals.  (If you truly feel the need to evacuate, though, don't let the difficulty stand in your way. Some storm shelters accept animals, just as some hotels allow small pets inside rooms.)

Also, how long can you (or are you willing to) wait before coming back home, after the storm?  Most people want to come back as soon as possible to evaluate damage and just try to get back to a normal routine.  Well, everyone else who evacuated will be trying to do the same thing.  The roads are going to be busy (again, because unless you left very early, they were probably jammed on the way out, too)-- and this time, there may be delays due to fallen trees, downed power lines, and other debris littering the roads.  If you're very unlucky and your neighborhood was hit hard, the authorities may be reluctant to let you back in until things are deemed safe enough. 

If no-one in your family has special medical needs/issues-- if your home is out of known flood zones (and especially if there's no mandatory evacuation for your area)-- if you have a sturdy house with no large trees likely to crash through the roof--  if you have a supply of water, non-perishables, batteries, and other emergency supplies... you should be fine.  There may be some scary moments, though.  (As long as I have my memory, I know I'll never forget those worst minutes of Ivan, huddled with Donald, my parents, and Kimberly in the hall bath and hallway, listening to the rain and wind crashing into the house from what seemed like every angle at once, feeling my ears pop with the dropping pressure, and praying that we'd make it through the night unharmed.  I think I owe a few grey hairs to that experience...)  Don't be a fool, but don't feel you have no options, either.

Basically, if a hurricane's headed toward your home, there are no perfect answers.  To act as though everyone in the storm's predicted path should high-tail it three-states-deep inland is oversimplifying.  

So... good luck to those waiting for Irene.  The rest of the country is thinking of you.  (The media has seen to that. (g)) 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Watch Fresh, Watch Local

This report made us laugh last night. The subject matter (a meth lab bust with children on the scene) isn't at all funny, but then there's the "creative" reporting/camera work (keep watching; you'll know it when you see it) and Boomer (who "kept an eye on them").

Donald initially thought this should be brought to the attention of the people behind the "hide yo' kids, hide yo' wife" and "I'm backin' up, backin' up" auto-tune videos, but sadly, I don't believe there's enough there to merit it.  Well, we'll keep a look-out for more promising reports. 

Household Meme

I saw this one someone's blog, this early, early AM.  I'm not going to link to it, though, because... Well, I never comment on her blog (i.e. I "lurk"-- ooh, sounds so creepy, doesn't it?), I don't think she reads my blog, and I'd rather not draw attention to myself as a lurker. (g)

Haven't done a meme in a long while!

1. What kind of soap is in your bathtub right now?
Never use the tub, so will shower do?  I just put a new bar of soap in there, but I have no idea what brand it was.  It was cream-colored; does that help? (g) It might be Dial...  I tend not to have brand loyalty when it comes to soap (or most things, really).  I just get whatever seems reasonably priced and "smells pretty".  There's also some Suave (pear and something-scented) body wash in there that I bought thinking it was shampoo.  (Oops.)  Oh, and another body wash for those who don't want to smell like fruit or perfume.. ;o)

2. Do you have any watermelon in your refrigerator?
No way.  That stuff gives me indigestion, and Donald doesn't like it, anyway.

3. Is there anything moldy in your refrigerator?
I hope not, but I make no guarantees. I need to throw a few things out, yes, but I don't think they've gotten to the moldy stage yet...

4. Are there any dirty dishes in your sink?
Ha.  Why, yes, yes there are, as a matter of fact.  And on the counter-tops around the sink, as well.  (...Maybe this meme wasn't such a great idea, after all.  Some of us make poor decisions when we get up too early...)

5. What would you change about your living room?
Hm... It's really fine as it is...  I can't reasonably complain about its size, though with the configuration of doorways/openings, it can be a little limiting in how we can arrange our furniture.  Maybe I'd do away with the cable we have stretched across the floor practically all the time-- the one connecting the TV to the computer... We could do away with it and go wireless, and (barring some cataclysm) I'm sure we will, eventually, but it's not that important to either of us, at the moment. The cable serves its purpose.  I only notice it when I'm vacuuming or expecting visitors.  (If I were being funny, I'd add "neither of which happen all that often", but I do try to vacuum regularly.  You need to, with an Eskie in the house.)

6. Are the dishes in your dishwasher clean or dirty?
Yes, you got me.  They're dirty.  (I'll run it later this morning, okay.  Good grief!  You're so demanding!)

7. Do you have a can of mushrooms in your pantry?
Does cream of mushroom soup count?  Donald doesn't like mushrooms much, and I have no desire to eat a whole can of them, either. 

8. White or wheat/brown bread?
"Healthy" bread for me, which usually means wheat/brown.  Donald sometimes likes white bread, though, if you count French/Italian-style loaves.

9. What is on top of your refrigerator?
Here, the other person answered "dust".  Heh, yeah, there's dust on mine, too, I'm sure.  There are also several decorative items-- a ceramic cow creamer, a polka-dotted (and be-daisied) ceramic cookie jar (cream with blue dots), a ceramic "watering can" tea pot painted with tulips (like this one), a cobalt glass ivy bowl, and a blue and white flower pot (also ceramic). 

10. What color is your sofa?
One is medium-dark brown leather.  The other (which has gotten 99.9% of our use since we bought both couches) is a very-slightly-greenish brown textured fabric.  It sounds ugly, but it's not.  (Well, I don't think so, at least.) 

11. What color or design is on your shower curtain?
In our bathroom, it's a solid moss/sage green with (tone-on-tone) machine embroidered vines and leaves/flowers. We've been using it a while, and it's starting to show signs of that.  A replacement is in order.  In the hall bath, it's a bright and cheerful striped affair that reminds me of the beach. 

12. How many plants are in your home?
Several, but most of them are either spider plants (creepy name, completely innocuous plant) or a type of succulent plant, the name of which I can never remember.  (Looked it up. I think it's a type of Huernia.) There's also a dumb cane-- and a "snake plant" that's spending the summer outdoors but will come back in when the weather gets cooler (if it has earned the privilege through good behaviour-- er, "behavior"-- apparently I am slightly British at 5 a.m.).

13. How many candles are in your home?
Too many to count-- or in other words, no way am I going to get up and count them all.  ;o)  There are many of them, though I use them more often in the cooler time of the year.  We have some tapers (though I rarely burn those), some pillars of various sizes, bags full of tea lights (my most commonly used type of candle), quite a few scented votives, and a number of candles in jars (some of which I never burn, but use on an electric jar-candle-warming plate). 

14. Is your bed made right now?
No.  Donald's still sleeping, like any sane, rational, non-waking-at 3 a.m-and-unable-to-fall-back-asleep person would be.  I will make it later, though.  That's one chore I do almost without fail (except for days when one of us feels sick / needs more sleep or the occasional lazy weekend).  It's quick and easy-- instant gratification and (mild) feeling of accomplishment. 

15. If you have a coffee pot, what color is it?
We have a white one (given to us by my maternal grandmother) for when company comes over.  Neither of us drink coffee, though I love the smell of it and wouldn't mind having a cup every now and then. I don't want to get addicted to it, though.

16. Electric or standard can opener?
We have both, but I use the electric one most of the time.  Hey, it's already standing there; might as well use it, right?

17. Comet or Soft Scrub?
Both.  Comet for the stainless steel sink, Soft Scrub (or something similar-- "Scrub Free... with Oxy") for the bathrooms (thanks to the fiberglass tubs/showers). 

ETA:  Er, apparently, Soft Scrub isn't what I thought it was. (g)  I guess I've never used it.  Obviously, the stuff I use on the fiberglass is meant to not be gritty or scratchy at all.  I have Comet for the sink, but I rarely need to use it.  Our sink simply doesn't get that dirty, I guess... Or maybe I have low standards of sink-cleanliness.  

18. Is your closet organized?
Kind of.  My personal clothing closet could use a tidying, but I know where everything is... And the coat closet has a jumble of things at the bottom that aren't exactly pretty to look at, but again, I know where things are, so I'm satisfied.  Donald and I have five (wooden, dining-room-type) chairs awaiting refinishing in our closets (yes, we have separate closets and are totally spoiled for closet space-- one of the really nice things about our house).  I'd like to deal with those chairs one of these days before too, too long...

19. What color is the flashlight that you use the most?
...We almost never use a flashlight.  The light that gets used most would probably be Donald's "headlight".  It was originally intended for running in the fading light of evening, but several times it has come in handy for more practical purposes.

20. What kinds of things are in your junk drawer?
Pens.  (Lots and lots of pens and other writing implements.)  Pocket knife.  Tiny measuring tape (at least I think that's still in there).  Rubber bands.  Cell phone chargers.  Scissors.  ...Actually, this isn't really a junk drawer at all, any more.  Not since I reorganized it, years ago.  No, I prefer to let my odds and ends of "junk" accumulate on the kitchen counter-top, where I can see and enjoy them all the time.  ;o)

21. Do you drink out of glass or plastic most of the time at home?
We have a few plastic cups, but apart from one that Donald uses fairly often (and his water bottles for running), we always use glass, these days.

22. Do you have iced tea made in a pitcher right now?
No, I haven't made tea in a long, long time.  Donald doesn't drink it, and (at home, and usually away, as well) I only drink water (except for the milk on my cereal).  I like cold, sweetened tea to a certain extent, but I just don't care to bother with it for just me... Also, I don't need the sugar, but neither am I crazy about the thought of artificial sweeteners.  Water is just easier.  Straight out of the tap.  (Hardly ever use ice anymore, unless I've been working outside and am desperate for coolness.)

23. If you have a garage, is it cluttered?
Alas, no garage.  (One of these days...)  If we had one, I imagine it would have at least a corner of clutter.  (There. I admitted it. Are you happy now, you mean meme-writer, you?)

24. Curtains or blinds?
Both, in several rooms.  (Well, if "sheers" and valance count as curtains.  They do, right?)  In our breakfast room, we have only blinds for the time being (and I like the new blinds so much, I may keep it that way).  Also, there's neither on our over-the-sink kitchen window, but I do plan to put a valance up, sometime. (There was one before we took everything down to repaint.)

25. How many pillows do you sleep with?
Actually sleep with?  One, usually-- and I'm very particular about which one it is.  (Aren't most people, though?)  I sometimes use a second pillow over my stomach if I'm feeling... ill.  (The slight weight/pressure and/or increased warmth lessens the discomfort.) 

26. Do you sleep with any lights on at night?
There's a nightlight in our bathroom to help us find our way without stubbing any toes. 

27. How many ceiling fans are in your home?
I'll have to think about that... (It's probably going to sound like a lot to those of you who don't live in the South...)  Let's see... Bkfast room, main room, bed room, plus three more.  That would be six.  The dining room is prepped for one (even with a separate switch) in anticipation of a time when we use that room more (not as a dining room, most likely), and we may put one in the kitchen, eventually.  If we do, then ever single room in the house will have a fan, except for the bathrooms and foyer.  They make a world of difference in the comfort of a room and help the A/C work less.  (They also work in the winter, when you reverse their motion so that they force the heated air down from the ceiling.)

28. How often do you vacuum?
There's no set time, but fairly often, I think.  At least once a week, I guess, maybe twice a week, depending on circumstances.  (Please don't judge me because you're like that woman I saw on some reality show who makes her kids vacuum every single day.  Please?)

29. Standard toothbrush or electric?

30. What color is your toothbrush?
I'm not sure... Mostly white with... red?  I don't really care about such things, because I am no longer nine years old with a "favorite color".  *eye roll* ;o)  Seriously, who notices these things?  And to think that I make (gentle, teasing) fun of Donald because he doesn't notice people's eye color! 

31. Do you have a welcome mat on your front porch?
Don't really have a front porch.  I think there's a mat out on the... would you call it a stoop or a covered entry?  Honestly, our front door isn't very welcoming right now... Another of those outdoor projects I'm trying to put off until the weather improves.  We do have a mat outside the door we use most, though.  It doesn't actually spell out "WELCOME", but I think it's implied.  ;o)

32. What is in your oven right now?
Nothing.  It's not even 6 a.m., so I haven't begun the day's baking, yet.  Hee. (g) I don't bake much this time of year. I worry it will heat the house... I'm probably just being silly.  But no, we don't store pots or pans in our oven, so the only things in there are the two wire racks that came with it.  There may be more in the warming drawer, though... Possibly some cast iron skillets (which I never use these days) and a broiler pan?

33. Is your microwave clean or dirty?
I think it's pretty darn clean.  (Whew!  Or is it too little too late?)  I try to keep it that way by using those spatter-protection plate covers.  It's easier to clean those than the inside of the microwave.

34. Is there anything under your bed?
Not a lot of stuff, but yes, there are at least a couple of things.  One is a cardboard box with carpet remnants.  (We saved them from when the house was built, in case we ever needed to temporarily patch our carpet.)  I think my knitting looms are all down there, too, in another box.  Our bed frame is too low to the floor to allow much underneath, or else that's probably where I'd store some of our gift-wrap supplies.  (I used to do that, with our old bed.)

35. Chore you hate doing the most?
Aw, do I hafta choose just one?! ;o)  I don't know.  I hate so many of them!  Well, cleaning the bathroom is high on the list.  I don't imagine anyone enjoys cleaning toilets, and the fiberglass shower can also be a major pain in the behiney (as they say), especially with our super-duper mineraly water.  Then there's mopping and window-cleaning... oh, and practically anything outdoors (weeding, spraying)...  Keeping the floor perfectly clean is impossible in our house.  I realize this, and yet it still frustrates me to work hard to get it pristine, only to see a trail of grass, sand, whatever brought in the next time the door is opened.  *sigh*

36. What retro items are in your home?
If only you'd asked this before we got rid of our cool 70's sofa!  That thing was retrolicious! (g)  I have no idea, really.  We have some older things passed down from family, and we have some yard sale / thrift store finds that I suspect are also old (well, not new), but "retro"?  Not sure.  Maybe the Fruxo plates we brought from Sweden?  They look retro, at least.  We found them in a thrift store.  I can't find a photo to show you, but I can explain that Fruxo is a brand of Swedish candy.  (Of course.)  The plates are brightly decorated with the candy's logo and illustrations of various fruits.

37. Do you have a separate room that you use as an office?
Yes, but it's more "businessy".  Personal computing is done in the main room. 

38. If you have a yard, who mows it?
Donald does (I say guiltily).  I still haven't been taught how to operate this newer mower.  And the longer I can keep it that way, the better! ;o)  Seriously, I wouldn't mind mowing most of it, but I'm scared of mowing slopes, so he'd probably still get stuck with that part.  (I'm sorry, Donald...)

39. Is there anything on your kitchen floor right now?
Oh, you mean the inevitable dog hair and dust I need to vacuum / sweep / mop away?  Other than that, not much.  There's the IKEA stepping stool.  Its legs are touching the floor.  Is that what you meant? (g)  There are a couple of dog water dishes on the floor near the sink, too, waiting to be washed.

40. How many mirrors are in your home?
About three hand mirrors.  Probably one or two in makeup compacts. A few other small ones here and there.  One in each bathroom.  One in our bedroom.  One in the foyer, and one in the dining room.  Oh, and the plain one from our bathroom (before we got the nice, new one) is still in the house, too, "just in case".  (Just in case what?  I don't know...)

41. Do you have any hidden emergency money around your home?
None of your business.  ;o)

42. What color are your walls?
Kitchen/breakfast room:  golden mustard yellow
Main room:  pale cream
Bedroom:  pale apple green
Master bath:  sand / beige
Dining room:  two shades of green (separated by chair rail)
Hall bath:  sky blue
Spare room (books, music, exercise):  periwinkle blue (two shades)
Other spare room (mostly craft stuff):  light sage green
Office:  yellow-orange
Foyer:  red
Hallway:  cream
Utility room:  mauve & green

43. Which rooms in your house have wallpaper?
None.  At all.  Seriously, look at all those colors of paint listed above.  Does it sound like we left a single wall free for wallpaper?  No, I didn't think so.

44. Do you have a peephole in your front door?
No.  Don't need one, though, considering that there's a window in it.  :o\

45. Do you keep any kind of protection weapons in your home?
...Some of these questions ask a little too much.  Yes, we do.  I'll leave it at that.  (The element of surprise, you know.)

46. What does your home smell like right now?
Nothing much at all. 

47. Favorite Candle Scent?
I don't really have a single favorite, but one candle does come to mind as a favorite.  It's supposed to smell like cypress and bergamot, though I couldn't tell you exactly what cypress or bergamot smell like. (g) This candle's scent is difficult to describe-- somewhat sweet, slightly spicy, maybe woodsy, and masculine.  Donald doesn't like it as much as I do, so I only heat it (in a jar) when he's not around.  It can be a little too powerful a scent for me, too, so I use it in small doses. 

48. What kind of pickles (if any) are in your refrigerator right now?
Hamburger dills.  Sometimes I get a little jar of sweet pickles, but they don't last long (which is mysterious, since I'm the only one in the house who eats cucumber pickles of any kind).  Donald does have some pickled beets.  I've never tried them, so I guess I can't claim that I don't like them.  I just get a strong feeling that I wouldn't like them.  ;o)

49. Who are in the pictures you displayed?
Family, ourselves, our dogs. 

50. What color is your favorite Bible?
Dark blue.

51. Do you have plenty of cabinet space in your kitchen?
I can't complain (not this once, at least (g)).  If I run out of space, it should just be taken as a sign that I'm mismanaging what I have and need to reevaluate what we really need and how best to organize it.

52. Ever been on your roof?
No.  Donald has, though, to replace some shingles that blew off in a storm. 

53. Do you own a stereo?
Yes, a couple.  One old one that I got back when I lived with my parents and sisters.  (That one's in the craft room.)  The one in our bedroom is newer, but we've had it several years, now.  (It doubles as an alarm clock.)  There are two smaller radios in the kitchen, too.  Why are there two, you ask?  ("How big is your kitchen, anyway?")  Well, the nicer, newer one very mysteriously doesn't pick up the FM talk radio station I listen to most of the time... and the other is an old, flimsy, beaten-up little radio that you have to turn a dial to tune from station to station.  It would be a pain to change it from 710 AM to 106.5 FM twice or more every day, so I keep both of them in there.  It's perfectly logical, I tell you. 

54. How many TVs do you have?
It's going to sound like we do nothing but watch TV, but we have three.  One is pretty small and rarely used.  (Mostly just when Donald exercises indoors.)  It and the second (also not large) one (which is in our bedroom) both had to have adapter boxes when they stopped broadcasting in analog.  (In other words, neither is new.) The third is our "main TV", in the living room. 

55. How many house phones?
Hm...  I'm not sure if one or two are hooked up.  We have an old cordless phone that we use most of the time, then there's a simple, corded one for power outages.  Actually, we just ordered a new phone last night. We certainly need one. Our current cordless phone is so old that it interferes with our wireless Internet if it gets too close to the computer. 

56. Do you have a housekeeper?
No, I'm our housekeeper.  And I'm so good at it, too!  ;oP

57. What style do you decorate in?
Um, whatever I like that is reasonably practical and affordable?   So... eclectic?  Casual but traditional, with country farmhouse influences (in the kitchen, at least)?  I like to look at pretty rooms in glossy magazines, but I'm not interested in following a single "style" to the letter. 

58. Do you like solid colors in furniture or prints?
It depends... I think I like something in between-- something mostly solid, or that looks almost solid from a distance, but with enough variation in color that it will camouflage the inevitable mishaps of life (stains, for instance). 

59. Is there a smoke detector in your home?
Yes. Multiple ones, in fact. 

60. In case of fire, what are the items you would grab if you only could make one quick trip?
Oh, I hate that kind of question.  I was thinking about this recently, though... I guess the first obvious answer is photos... but these days, so many of our photos are on the computer, so maybe I'd also include our external hard drives. The documents in our firebox are obviously deemed important, so maybe I'd try to chuck those outside, too.  Otherwise, I'd have a hard time choosing what to save.  Well, our dogs, of course.  They'd be first (assuming there are no people in the house). They're not really "items", though... (g) The cameras, maybe...

61. Do you know how to work your electrical box?
Kind of.

62. What temperature in your home is most comfortable to you?
If we're going on comfort alone, I'd probably keep it several degrees cooler in summer and warmer in winter than we really do.  In reality, at this time of year, I let the thermostat get up to 81 or 82 during the hottest part of the day, then (gradually) lower it to 78 at night to make sleeping more comfortable.  (Ceiling fans make this practice easier.)  I don't remember what numbers I aim for in the winter... We usually set it lower at night, since we're definitely going to be warm enough in bed, then try to keep it as low as possible during the day without sacrificing too much comfort.  (The space heater and layers of clothing help with this.)

...That feels like an odd question to end with, but so be it!  (g)

Monday, August 22, 2011

They're Ba-aack...

I just saw a pair of (conjoined) lovebugs on the kitchen window.

How do I always manage to forget about those things until they re-emerge for their (weeks-long) biannual bug-love fest? 

Yuck.  One more thing I could happily do without... But at least during this season, I don't really want to spend much time outside, anyway.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Just Another Luddite

"A Third of People Completely Lost Without Their Smartphones, Survey Says"

Well, that's something I never have to worry about, at least.  ;o)  (I already spend too much time plopped down in front of the computer.  Why would I want to develop a cell phone addiction, too?)

Though my (non-"smart", spartan, extremely rarely used) cell phone is capable of it, I have never even sent a text.  Ever.  

Of course, I'm also one of those weirdos who don't use Facebook.  (I've finally even gone so far as to start the "permanent deletion" process on my FB account.)  Blogging is better. :oP

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On a Darker Note...

This infuriates me, every time I think about it.

I don't understand how the concept of dogs being "unclean" animals ever came to be.  It's just... unfathomable to me.  How can anyone believe that an animal-- a whole species-- is not only categorically "unclean", but even deserves to be tortured?  They believe that dogs were created by their religion's god, correct?  (I assume.  I know little about their religious beliefs.)  Why do at least some of them believe their god would make something so entirely despicable as to deserve such treatment?   It's barbaric-- it's inhuman and inhumane-- it's just downright stupid-- and it fills me with white-hot rage and hatred (sorry, I'm not perfect) for anyone capable of such cruelty.  

Again, I don't know about that religion, but as a Christian, I can't believe that God would smile upon the torture of any animal.  (And there's a big difference between killing and torturing, to explain why I eat meat, use leather, etc.)

That story... It's enough to turn your stomach.

On a Lighter Note...


"Abercrombie to pay 'Jersey Shore' cast to stop wearing its clothes."

"We are deeply concerned that Mr. Sorrentino's association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image. We understand that the show is for entertainment purposes, but believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to many of our fans,“ an Abercrombie & Fitch spokesperson said in a statement. “We have also extended this offer to other members of the cast, and are urgently waiting a response."

That's hilarious. 
It's even funnier when you consider that Abercrombie & Fitch doesn't exactly have a sterling reputation, itself.

Sure, it's probably just a way to get some free advertising, but I'm still amused. 

Funny... I've never watched "Jersey Shore"-- never shopped at Abercrombie & Fitch.  (I don't know if there's even one anywhere in this area.  Maybe in one of the malls?)  So how do I know anything about either one?  Clearly, both entities have done a good job of getting into the news.   

Over $1.4 Million Per Job, to Date

***Understatement Alert!!***

"Seattle green jobs program falls short of goals".

Last year, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced the city had won a coveted $20 million federal grant to invest in weatherization. The unglamorous work of insulating crawl spaces and attics had emerged as a silver bullet in a bleak economy - able to create jobs and shrink carbon footprint - and the announcement came with great fanfare.

McGinn had joined Vice President Joe Biden in the White House to make it. It came on the eve of Earth Day. It had heady goals: creating 2,000 living-wage jobs in Seattle and retrofitting 2,000 homes in poorer neighborhoods.

Well, I'm going to be brutally honest here... I think that their stated goal of weatherizing a mere 2,000 homes with the whopping $20 million was (how shall I put this?) pathetic.  That's $10,000 per home, and that's ridiculous (imnsho).  I don't believe it should cost that much to insulate a single home-- particularly a home in a "poorer neighborhood", which one assumes would most likely be modestly sized.  However, from the headline, we know that they didn't even manage to do that.

(Also, should it really take 2,000 people to weatherize 2,000 homes?  You're obviously not going to have all the projects going on at the same time, and it shouldn't take a crew of capable workers that long to complete one project and move on to the next.  I'll admit I'm no business genius or construction know-it-all, but that sounds like more people/jobs than would be required for the task, does it not?)

So... How many houses do you think they were able to "weatherize"?  Three quarters of their goal?  Half?  Even a measly one quarter?

But more than a year later, Seattle's numbers are lackluster. As of last week, only three homes had been retrofitted and just 14 new jobs have emerged from the program. Many of the jobs are administrative, and not the entry-level pathways once dreamed of for low-income workers.

Only three homes.  Fourteen new jobs (many of which are administrative-- so surprising, considering that this is the government we're talking about).  In over a year.  (The article goes on to explain how and why local officials are cautiously optimistic, blah blah blah.)

Wouldn't it be nice if this kind of inefficiency and waste were rare enough to be genuinely surprising? 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Changing Seasons? One Can Only Hope...

It seems like everywhere I look, lately, there's someone writing about how it's starting to feel like the very earliest beginning of autumn.  Usually, this opinion is presented with a twinge of sadness and a wish to hold on to summer a little bit longer. 

Obviously, those people do not live around here.  Sure, we're enjoying some temporary relief from the humidity and very highest temperatures, but it's only at my most unrealistically wishful that I can think autumn will be here soon.  "Soon" is relative, of course; if you think a month and a half are soon, then yes, we may get a taste of autumn "soon".  The way time goes whooshing by, yes, I guess it's fairly "soon"-- we're closer to summer's end than summer's beginning, thank goodness-- but it can't get here soon enough for me. 

Dry air.  Cool nights.  Open windows and fresh air streaming through the house.  Falling asleep to the sound of a nighttime breeze-- sleeping well in the natural coolness-- and waking to find the morning air beyond the cozy bed bracingly chilled.  Slanting, golden sunlight in the afternoon.  Feeling like going on daily walks again.  Snakes and insects slowly retreating from the world for a time.  Leaves crunching underfoot.  Plenty of things to photograph-- all changing from day to day.  Beautifully just-spooky-enough-to-be-fun late-October magic in the air.  A bonfire crackling and gleaming through the fading twilight.  Long-pants weather.  Maybe even (dare I say it?) long sleeves weather.  An excuse to finally dig out and wear scarves and hats.

...Basically it's just a whole bunch of the things that make life sweet-- and it means an end to the months of feeling like nature hates me.  Being outdoors can finally stop feeling like a punishment, for a few weeks at least. ;o)  Yes, I'm ready for that.

The Sci-Fi Approach to the Economy


It's the economy, Earthling. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Zombies, Spiders, & Snakes (Oh My)

The news is depressing, lately.  ("But when is it not?" you ask.  So true.)

- - - - - - -

An odd jumble of things I was thinking about yesterday (the London riots, music from zombie movies, etc.) led to an exciting night of vivid dreaming about zombies.  (I am now about to relate that dream, in part.  Those who dislike reading about other people's dreams should consider themselves warned.)

We were living in a beautifully dreary (green-on-the-verge-of-autumnal, almost perpetually cloudy-skied) English neighborhood.  Zombies roamed the world-- had done so for long enough that people had moved past the freak-out stage of reaction and now just accepted them as a threat.  That threat kept people tethered to their own personal safe zones, but we were afforded some small comfort by the fact that the zombies were mostly only mobile after dark.  (Yeah, subconscious.  Way to mix zombies with vampires...)  For some reason, we ended up moving in with the family next door. (Consolidating resources? Safety in numbers?)

There was a fair bit of mundane interaction with this family-- conversation, routines, making do, repairing things.  One day, while we worked on something outdoors during the relative safety of daylight, the wife/mother spoke of how she came from New Zealand, originally, and wished she could go back home, though she was afraid of what she'd find.  I sympathized, of course, but commented wryly that at least the weather here suited me well.  She was tired of clouds, and on cue, we glimpsed a fleeting patch of blue sky.

We and the family had plenty of safety measures in place and were doing as well as could be expected.  We even discussed the possibility of putting up some sort of makeshift, protective passageway between our two homes, so that we could travel between them at night, in an emergency.  But despite our planning, I had a gloomy sense that these things-- zombie scenarios-- never end well.  Something always goes wrong, eventually, no matter how careful you are.  Someone always has a moment of thoughtlessness, of stupidity-- wanders off too far-- or for reasons beyond his control, comes face-to-face with the monster when least expected.  And, of course, since it was my dream, where I have the most amazing ability of prediction, that's exactly what happened.

I'll spare you the gory details.  ;o) 

- - - - - - -

I've seen a couple of large spiders on the outside of the house, lately-- not the exotic, alien-looking "banana spiders" that come later in the year and turn a woodland path into a creepy, crawly obstacle course of giant webs and palm-sized arachnids that seem to be invisible until they're dangling mere inches from your face.  These are probably somewhat smaller than banana spiders, but they're darker and fuzzier to make up for it.  There's something sinister about them--  but then, I don't like any spiders very much.  It's this type of thing that makes me so unique, which is why I bother mentioning it at all. 

- - - - - - -

This weekend, we found another skinny snake stuck in the silicone (?) caulking around the exterior of our kitchen window.  It's so bizarre, the way that keeps happening!  That's at least the second one we've found in that window, alone.  (There have been more in the bay window.)  We can't be the only ones having that particular problem-- but a quick Google search yields no relevant results, so I'm not sure what's going on, really. 

The ones that get caught on the kitchen window have a better chance of survival, since we're more likely to spot them and try to free them before it's too late.  Donald managed to get this one loose and drop it outside the fence.  It was another of those corn snakes, I think.  I'd much rather have them around than something worse, so live, little snake, and eat up all the food before your big, bad cousins decide this is an attractive location. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Worlds Colliding!

(Via James Lileks on Twitter...)

If you're familiar with The Andy Griffith Show and the original Star Trek TV series, maybe you'll appreciate this "worlds colliding" moment.  Apparently, two Star Trek episodes used the "Mayberry" sets when the crew of the Enterprise visited an Earth-like planet.  Check out some stills on this site: Mayberry in Star Trek

My favorite is the one where Kirk and some lady are walking right past Floyd's Barber Shop-- with the name right there on the window.  (g)  If only they'd gone in and visited a while with the friendly denizens of Mayberry!