Thursday, February 26, 2009

Put Down This Blog and Pick Up a Book

Oh great, now I'm not just celebrating fifty years of nation destroying home ownership, but apparently I'm also contributing to the death of literature:
The democracy of the new medium is a good thing, of course, but like our democratic society itself, the Internet tends to encourage amateurism and atomization. It is hard to see how a writer like Johnson could arise in a future when writing is something done casually, in brief blog bursts in one's spare time. And it may not be long before the kind of professional confidence and expertise that Johnson cultivated over a lifetime of paid work will appear as regrettably obsolete as books and newspapers themselves.-Adam Kirsch writing in Slate Magazine
Yesterday the builder brought by the shower door and the toilet. He didn't install them because he assumed I wasn't through painting.
It turns out, though, that once again we're doing and celebrating exactly the wrong thing. According to an article in the Atlantic, it's home ownership that has brought this country to its knees. Renters can more nimbly respond to economic changes, and high levels of home ownership have resulted in long commutes, a barren suburban culture, SUV's and pollution. All this could be remedied, the author says, if the government would eliminate tax preferences for home ownership. As it is, it almost never makes financial sense to buy anyway, according to this calculator.
All well and good, I suppose. I wasn't planning on selling this house until I retired and what with the whole country brought to its knees thing, I won't be doing that anytime soon.
In the meantime, I probably won't be getting an HDTV anytime soon, either. Karen and I were assaulted by the unavoidable display at Costco the other day. The guy on TV had acne, and it was pretty disgusting. NPR did a story about it today About the problem make-up artists have, not about how aggressively Costco is pushing TV's at us. They said that in the early days of television, they softened aging actresses crow's feet by putting gauze over the camera lens. Honestly, now they just need to put it on the actors' faces. This isn't a problem on our TV which basically just presents us with dialogue over a Rorschach test.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cheddar is Also Orange

When considering a bad paint job, I don't want to minimize the importance of surface preparation. But a truly bad paint job will also include bad color choice, bad technique, and the forgetting to wipe up spills, or at least mine will, judging by the bathroom I just painted.
But then I went for a bike ride this afternoon, and noticed how God's sun spilled orange light onto the snow, and how it changed color as the sun set. I realized how ephemeral this life is, and how unimportant the paint in the bathroom is. And how cheesy this post would be.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Now I'm Just Killing Time, But Please Note, Not Myself

I should be back painting the bathroom, but I really, really hate painting, so now I'm just killing time. I applied for life insurance recently and was denied the best possible rate because I take Zoloft. So, if I was still jumpy and suicidal, no problem. But, serene and mellow: a higher risk. Wait, what? You're saying I'm not serene and mellow? Why you little....

Now It's Personal

We're grocery shopping while we wait for the primer to dry in the bathroom. They say that surface prep is 90% of a good paint job. I didn't do very much prepping so we'll see what percent it is of a bad job.
When we were at Costco they had a two sink vanity with a granite top for less than we paid for just our new top. Another way to look at it is that it's also cheaper than what we paid for just our new vanity. Karen always wanted the Costco one, but it's been out of stock for years; until we special ordered our new ones.
I get that the universe is taunting me, but why? And what do we make of a cosmos that's so childish? I mean that's not exactly Noel Coward. It's not even as clever as that old one about being afraid of Christmas, being a Noel coward.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Life's a Journey, Anway You Want It

I suppose life is a journey, although the only reason I mention it is that I was just at iTunes and I have a Journey song stuck in my head. Life's a journey, but you should be, here, now.
You should be here now, you could help me paint the bathroom. Karen and I are going to go buy the paint in a few minutes. She watches a lot of HGTV, so she knows which colors go together (and which ones won't go together even if it means missing the prom completely). It's a theoretical knowledge since she's color blind. I can recognize colors, but I don't like to play favorites. So, once again to Bob Dylan:
We always did feel the same,
We just saw it from a different point of view,
Tangled up in blue

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

You Can See This

A couple of days ago I put up a post titled, "Too Bad You Can't See This". In an ironic twist, a few minutes later, I decided it wasn't even up to the low standards I've already set, and I took it back down. It's too bad, but you can't see it.
On Monday, we had a drain guy here to clean out our drains. It seemed like a good time to tackle the slow drains in the bathroom (we have two sinks there) that's being remodeled since the contractor called to say he was in Skwenta butchering a moose he'd just killed. The original sinks and vanities were gone, so there are just two stubs sticking out of the wall. They use the same model the Postal Service does, you pays your money and you takes your chances. He was here, and billed, for three hours, but his snake just went in the pipe for one sink and came peeking out the other. Apparently there was some kind of clog in the main line.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

When Salsa is Illegal, Only Terrorists Will Have Salsa

Last night we joined our friends Rich and Barb at the Sahara restaurant. It features Middle Eastern foods such as "Nights in Beirut", a delicious dessert. Karen's meal came with a sauce so hot that I said that the if you enjoyed that, the only logical next step would be to strap on a dynamite vest.
Barb said, "A gateway salsa."

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Today's the day we're not having a big party to celebrate moving into this house 50 years ago.
More later if I think of it.
Otherwise, Happy Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Why Fly to Stockholm When You Can Be Held Hostage Right Here.

I'm going to take a break from my usual practice of complaining about the post office and doctors, and for a change I'm going to complain about airlines, specifically airlines flying to Alaska. Leah is traveling next week, and she wanted to buy a ticket. The airlines charge almost six times as much per mile for travel in the so-called continental US as for travel to and from Alaska. One possibility might be that jet fuel costs more up here, but that's not it since a state investigation found that Anchorage gas prices are the highest in the nation because the two refineries up here sell jet fuel below cost to be competitive and subsidize that by gouging Alaska drivers.
Maybe you think it's because it's more expensive to fly north because you're always going up, but then the return flight down the map should be free. I'm beginning to think it's because airlines are run by venal accountants who know exactly what our choices are.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Shooting Fish In A Barrel Would Be A Lot Harder If The Fish Had Guns

Our supervisor read us a letter today from the Postmaster about cost cutting occasioned by the recession and the associated, and unprecedented, drop in mail volume. While he read it, we stood in front of our new and worthless cases.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

You Can Call Me Al

Even though I watched a video this afternoon that claimed that Muslims are all fanatics, and a rebuttal that essentially consisted of "Nuh uh, death to Israel", I just made reservations at a restaurant called Sahara. Who's intolerant now?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

We're In Pretty Deep, Grab Your Shovel

Here's a link to a chart that shows how much things have changed in the last eight years. Americans used to save about 2.3% of their income, and were derided for their spendthrift ways. Now we save about .6% and we're told we're not spending enough.
(Extremely) gross federal debt was 58% of GDP and now it's 67.5%, and we're about to borrow another trillion dollars.
Even if I remodel all my bathrooms every day, and at my age, I really can't hold it that long, it would take, according to Google, a really long time to stimulate the economy enough to pay back all that borrowing. And do we want to live in a world with a bunch of testy old men grimacing and crossing their legs?

Friday, February 06, 2009

Do You Remember the Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis?

I don't know nothin' bout nothin' at all.
Still, I thought our current economic crisis was brought about because so much money was loaned to so many people that had no chance of ever paying it back, and that this easy access to credit drove house prices up until the people that never could pay the money back, never did. I guess I don't understand how piling a trillion dollars (that's a 1, with a lot of zeroes after it)* more debt onto this (foreclosed) house of cards will make things better.

*A little research reveals that in America a trillion has twelve zeroes, but in hide-bound England which is much more leery about letting the noveau riche into society, a trillion has eighteen zeroes. Keep dreaming, Bill Gates

Patriotism is the Last Refuge of Spendthrifts

So, in the last six weeks, we've had to buy new snowtires and a new washing machine. Now we're putting small business men to work remodeling our bathroom. I can only do so much by myself, but based on our activity, the economy should be more than stimulated, it should be tingling. Chris Matthews would be thrilled to interview us.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Deconstructing American Idol

Yesterday it was cold and breezy. As the day went on, I gradually added layers of clothing including my no-fog face mask. By the end of the day, I looked like Darth Vader and the Michelin Man's love child. I was going around saying stuff like, "Luke, I'm your father...don't forget to rotate your tires." By the way, I know they're both men. I assume they would have met at the the Clone Bars.

According to new research, ignorance is bliss. People who are of average skill or above are fairly accurate at judging their own abilities. People with no skill lack the capacity to even know how bad they are. I don't know if this is related, but for one reason (or, pathetically more likely) another, I think this is a really cool blog.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Tiger Woods Doesn't Endorse Toilets

I've been in the market for a new toilet. Apparently the Maelstrom measure of toilets, or at least some toilets, is measured in ability to flush golf balls. I hate golf as much as the next man, and I've had my share of digestive upsets, but I'm not sure how relevant golf balls are to flushing. I know Oreck used to advertise that their vacuums could pick up a bowling ball. Their competitors said that was an irrelevant measure. Now, if you had a toilet that could flush bowling balls, then you'd have something.
We also just bought a new medicine cabinet. It's so plain that even Jane couldn't bring herself to use it.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Unrealized Promise Of Geothermal Energy

Even though we have a volcano perking away just 100 miles from here, the temperature remains near zero during the day.

Monday, February 02, 2009

There She (Doesn't) Blow

As you may have heard, one of our volcanoes is threatening to erupt. Since I work outside, I didn't want to get caught unawares, so I signed up for a Twitter feed from the volcano observatory. I think I'm going to disable it, though, since they update pretty regularly, even though nothing has changed. The take away message from the constant tweets is rising tension to "Quick, do nothing!"