Wednesday, July 27, 2005

More libertarian every day

Thanks to The Agitator for directing readers here.

"Free Market Environmentalism" as some are calling it, is getting some traction out west. It seems that heavily subsidized ranchers have figured out that selling their land to environmentalists - of their own free will - is more profitable than ranching. The sad thing is that the government is standing in the way, and it's not the government folks you would think. No, it's the Republicans who claim to believe in the free market over government intervention, who are upset about a fading way of life - ranching. Nevermind that in this particular area, supporting this "way of life" costs the government millions of dollars. Why not let these landowners decide for themselves what they want to do with their own land. How pathetic. Oh well, I guess it's just in line with the recent Supreme Court rulings on private property.

The political parties are about nothing more than power - regardless of their stated interests. If the Republicans gave a damn about private property rights and the free market, as they so claim, then they would stay out of these private transactions. Of course, what do you expect when the administration considered filing a brief in support of New London (not the property owners) in the now infamous Kelo decision?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Saved by the second opinion

Turns out, our AC compressor is just fine, and actually only a few years old. The condenser coil is clogged, though. But instead of just replacing the coil, we will replace that and our 20 year-old furnace (since it's likely to go soon, and they have to be in that general vicinity to get to the coil). The entire job will run us $2300.

Yippeee! Normally, I wouldn't be thrilled with spending that kind of money unplanned, but, well, it's a hell of a lot better than $6400.

And they're coming in Wednesday to do it. We'll be staying at my mom's the next couple of nights.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Movie and housework

I'm not sure that I mentioned that on top of having no AC, we are also in the middle of painting our living room, so all our furniture is shoved to the middle of the room. As if it wasn't already enough of a mess. So, we tried to work through the pain yesterday, and get something accomplished by getting some more painting done. You see, I'm one of those folks who when she feels like there's something she can't control (spending thousands of dollars that she doesn't have on a new AC unit, for instance), must find something that she can control. The good thing about this is that I get things done, when I'm in this kind of mood. The bad news is, is that while I'm getting these things done, I'm in a pretty pissy mood. At least until the shock has worn off. FYI, the shock has worn off, and I'm in a pretty good moood today. This is great news for me, but especially for Dave - poor guy.

Anyway, back to the point. We'll at about 6 last night Dave was de-stressing by playing X-Box in our newly centralized living room. He had mentioned painting some more. At first I was having none of it. Then, with manic fervor, I began. We got a little done, but I was so frustrated in general, that really not much got accomplished.

So here we are to the point of this post, really. We needed to get out, and I needed a laugh. So we went to see Wedding Crashers. All I can say, is please please please go see this movie as soon as you can. It's pretty obvious what kind of humor it is, so if you are the kind that likes that kind of movie (American Pie, Animal House, Old School (even though, sacrilidge, I didn't really like this one)) then go see it. Though I do have to warn a couple of you who don't like the song "Shout," (I still don't get that), that this is a movie about weddings, and, therefore, the song abounds. There's even a special tribute, if you will, to the song. At least they didn't pick YMCA, the Electric Slide, or the Macarena.

Vince Vaughn is better than ever here - even over Old School, of which he was the only redeeming factor. So is Owen Wilson. Christopher Walken is his usual weirdly cadenced self. Jane Seymour has a funny part, but that story line disappears about halfway through, never to return. I think there was some editing, and her character got left behind.

Generally my favorite way to see a movie is with a full, but respectful, audience. Luckily, this was the case last night, with the entire audience busting out into laughter, applause, and even a huge cheer during one scene in particular.

It was stupid and silly and crass and funny as hell. This movie did its job well - it took my mind off my problems and to another world (ok, yeah, yeah, another soap opera reference - they're all over the place today). For that alone, it was well worth the price of admission for two, a small popcorn, a medium diet coke, and a small coke.

And when we got home, we finished painting the living room. Now it's onto the dining room, when we have AC again. We found out last night (1am this morning) that when your house is 92 degrees, paint dries really really fast and makes it virtually impossible to get an even coat.

To catch you up...

Because the "fix" is estimated at more than we spent on one of our cars, we are going to get a second opinion. Because it's the weekend and we're in the hottest days of our year, that second opinion cannot come out to look at the system until at least tomorrow, which pushes any repairs out probably a week. So yep, that's right, in the hottest days of our year (cue cheesy long-standing soap opera music), Dave and I will be without AC for a week or so

Four bright sides:
1 - We'd both rather be hot than cold any day
2 - At least our July power bill won't be $211, like June's was. (Or maybe it will be, since all last week, the AC had to stay on 24/7 to keep the house at 84 degrees.)
3 - We're not in the midwest right now, or Arizona
4 - In order to escape from this heat mid-day, we're going to take a trip to Ikea.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

New System

Yippee. It is an entirely new HVAC system. To the tune of $6400. That's our first estimate. We're going to get another. Can't wait. And here I was all excited that we're getting our debt paid down. So much for that.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Ah, the joys of home ownership

So, our ac hasn't been up to snuff the last couple of weeks, so we've called the service folk to come look at it tomorrow. Wednesday, I changed the filter, just for good measure, and I noticed a small leak in the furnace where the filter goes. A couple drips here and there. Thought nothing of it, just that I would mention it when the nice repairman comes to fix the ac. Until tonight, when I noticed our 7 month-old hardwood floors just outside the laundry room (where the furnace is) are now nicely bowed, and black around the seams. Well, sn't that just lovely? I guess the leak is worse than I thought. It's not like there is a pool of water anywhere, either. It's simply made its way via the path of least resistance underneath our new floors.

A few things to be thankful for here:
We have a slab foundation.
This is a small area (maybe 10-12 ft square), so the replacement floors shouldn't be too expensive.
We just paid off a decent amount of credit card debt, which leaves us room for some more if we have to replace the furnace and floors.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Still can't seem to get myself to bed.

Then I start finding things like this, from my favorite poet. Does that make me pretentious, that I have a favorite poet? Oh well. I'll just be pretentious then. Because having a favorite poet is worth it. Because when you can't sleep, and you can go online, and find something like this, without fail, in spite of the fact that you haven't read any of his work in years - there is no better thing. Even when what you find is crushing. Especially when what you find is crushing.

The Vanishings
Stephen Dunn

One day it will vanish,
how you felt when you were overwhelmed
by her, soaping each other in the shower,
or when you heard the news
of his death, there in the T-Bone diner
on Queens Boulevard amid the shouts
of short-order cooks, Armenian, oblivious.
One day one thing and then a dear other
will blur and though they won't be lost
they won't mean as much,
that motorcycle ride on the dirt road
to the deserted beach near Cadiz,
the Guardia mistaking you for a drug-runner,
his machine gun in your belly—
already history now, merely your history,
which means everything to you.
You strain to bring back
your mother's face and full body
before her illness, the arc and tenor
of family dinners, the mysteries
of radio, and Charlie Collins,
eight years old, inviting you
to his house to see the largest turd
that had ever come from him, unflushed.
One day there'll be almost nothing
except what you've written down,
then only what you've written down well,
then little of that.
The march on Washington in '68
where you hoped to change the world
and meet beautiful, sensitive women
is choreography now, cops on horses,
everyone backing off, stepping forward.
The exam you stole and put back unseen
has become one of your stories,
overtold, tainted with charm.
All of it, anyway, will go the way of icebergs
come summer, the small chunks floating
in the Adriatic until they're only water,
pure, and someone taking sad pride
that he can swim in it, numbly.
For you, though, loss, almost painless,
that Senior Prom at the Latin Quarter—
Count Basie and Sarah Vaughan, and you
just interested in your date's cleavage
and staying out all night at Jones Beach,
the small dune fires fueled by driftwood.
You can't remember a riff or a song,
and your date's a woman now, married,
has had sex as you have
some few thousand times, good sex
and forgettable sex, even boring sex,
oh you never could have imagined
back then with the waves crashing
what the body could erase.
It's vanishing as you speak, the soul-grit,
the story-fodder,
everything you retrieve is your past,
everything you let go
goes to memory's out-box, open on all sides,
in cahoots with thin air.
The jobs you didn't get vanish like scabs.
Her good-bye, causing the phone to slip
from your hand, doesn't hurt anymore,
too much doesn't hurt anymore,
not even that hint of your father, ghost-thumping
on your roof in Spain, hurts anymore.
You understand and therefore hate
because you hate the passivity of understanding
that your worst rage and finest
private gesture will flatten and collapse
into history, become invisible
like defeats inside houses. Then something happens
(it is happening) which won't vanish fast enough,
your voice fails, chokes to silence;
hurt (how could you have forgotten?) hurts.
Every other truth in the world, out of respect,
slides over, makes room for its superior.

What's next, then?

I guess I need to figure that out.

And get some sleep.

Goodnight. Here's to meaningful days ahead.

Time to let go...

I guess sometimes it just makes sense to let go of things ...

I think that's what I've been trying to do for a while now. There are a couple more bits and pieces, but I'm getting there.

Midnight Radio

Driving far from home.
On a midnight radio.
Reckless and alone. On a long black road.
The city is burning like a dream. Like a lady smoking in the night.
And she lets out a silent scream. So far from the morning light.

And I don't know where to go.
And I don't know where I've been.
And I don't know If I'll still be here. When the sun rises again.
But somewhere in the distance. There's a tower and a light.
Broadcasting a resistance. Through the rain and through the night.
Hold me in the darkness.
Love is playing in the darkness.
On a midnight radio.

So grab your little sister.
Wake up your children and your wife.
Cause a new train's coming mister.
Around the boarders of the night.
Wavelengths of love are playing on a midnight radio.
Through the static and the rain.
On a midnight radio ...

-- Big Head Todd & the Monsters

Monday, July 11, 2005

Ben Stein

Y'all know Ben Stein. That odd fellow we all first got to know when he repeated the name "Beuller" several times to his high school class in that classic deadpan.

Then he was a gameshow host and a pitchman. And we found out he was also an economist.

Well, he's also a great columnist. I'm sad that I didn't know this column existing until its end. But Ben Stein's last column for E!Online is wonderful.

Check it out here.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

They aren't kidding.

Ugliest dog contest in Santa Barbara, CA. Seriously. You can't even imagine. Consider yourself warned.

First go here for the story.

Then go here for the proof.

More Mina

Can't help it. I just have nothing of substance to blog about right now.

Work is slammed. Can't even catch my breath.

Working on several projects at home. Painting and moving rooms around. Office and den both moving downstairs to a currently un-used room. Office becoming third bedroom. All these rooms must be painted, as should the living room, dining room, hallway, spare bedroom, and downstairs landing area. FUN! Wouldn't be so bad if we were going to be home any amount of time over the next four weeks. So, yes, we get to work all day, come home, cook, eat dinner, clean dishes, then start moving stuff and painting. What a blast. But it will be fabulous when it's done.

Anyway, back to Mina.