Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A change of plans
I haven't posted for a while, but it's been quite an eventful time with a job resignation, a broken down car and the property tax crisis all crammed into the last two weeks. A good chunk of this time was spent pondering this question from my current employer: "What would it take to get you to stay?" I thought about what could be changed, but the truth was there was not much that could be done to improve the situation in the short term. However, I also noticed that the side effects of the job, that process of turning into a negative asshole of a person, were cumulative. After a couple of days off I usually felt back to my old self. Until I worked another three or four days and then by the end of day five I was about as miserable as a person could be. I decided to request that I be allowed I drop down to four days a week which is something that was previously not allowed for someone in my current job description (there is no good reason to require this position be full time, but it's always been mandatory.) They agreed so instead of hanging up my headset and driving off into the sunset never to return after Saturday, I'll come back and start the new schedule on the following Tuesday.

Now I would have much preferred having a better job come my way so I could have told them to stick it, but reality dictates that the bills be paid and I'll earn more working four days a week there than I would grabbing any of the 40 hour a week jobs currently available to me. And before I made my final decision, I did give it a trial run last week (only working four days) and that seems to have done the trick. Time will tell and of course, I'll still be keeping my eye out for a new job.

P.S. In honor of my extra 8 hours a week of "free time" I have signed up for NaBloPoMo. One post a day for the month of November, whether or not I have anything worthwhile to say. I suffer from persistent writer's block so maybe this will cure it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

TRAVIS COUNTY IS FIXIN' TO SUCK ON IT

As much as we wanted to avoid further debt,there is a program available that allows for property tax loans.We have gotten several solicitations from companies that provide this service,but they all had a kind of slime factor that put us off.
We researched this company thoroughly and they appear to be legit.These are prevalent to Texas(go figure),and have some benefits that are helpful to us.
Once we fill out the forms it will take 8 to 12 business days and they will pay our taxes for us.
But the coolest thing in all of this,the absolute coolest thing ever is the county will lose its penalty/interest money,which is akin to having a red hot poker shoved up your ass...check it out...from the county Q & A on what to do if you can't pay your taxes:
Q:What is the penalty for late payment?
A:On February 1,2008,6% penalty and 1% interest accrue on the unpaid balance.Penalty and interest increase each month and total 18% in July,24% after one year.
So,they will miss out on bilking us for approx. 1500.00 in penalties and interest.
The county is worse than a fucking pawn shop.
Even though we are incurring more debt,we can pay it off and save for next years fucking from the county at the same time.And the additional bonus for me is putting the fucking on the county to the tune of 1500 dollars.
Finally,some insight into why I had to leave the tax office yesterday in such a hurry.
The majority of the employees in collections are middle aged black women,and while the woman who was working with me was stern,she was genuinely trying to help me out.
Her supervisor on the other hand was a whole 'nother story.Growing up in the south and working with and interacting with black women a lot has given me the ability to tell the difference between the ones that could give a shit that I was a white boy and the ones who have an agenda.This supervisor most definitely has an agenda.As evidenced by this statement:"You gonna have to come up offa that 700 dollars a month son".Son?WTF???And using that street talk was a serious dis.She may have well said "gimme da money beotch".Fuck her.
And you can be sure that when the tax is paid and she can't fuck with me,I'm filing a formal complaint and demanding an apology.
She picked the wrong white boy.

Monday, October 29, 2007

TRAVIS COUNTY TAX ASSESSORS/COLLECTORS SUCK

HARD.
Back before we paid off our house,our property tax was figured into our monthly payment,an invisible expense that we were marginally aware of.We'd get a statement every year giving us a breakdown of where our money went and say to ourselves and each other,"You know when we pay this mortgage off,we'll have to save money each month to pay".Which works good in theory,provided you maintain gainful,full time employment and no other crises occur.We were not so lucky,and as a result fell behind in our property taxes.
For the last several months,we have been paying travis county an exhorbitant amount of money when measured to our income and other expenses,strung along with the light at the end of the tunnel being the arrival of our new annual appraisal at which time we could "renegotiate".Today,that light turned out to be a train...and it flattened me.
The "best" that they could do was a 10 month arrangement that increased the already ridiculous monthly payment by close to 100 dollars.
Over the past several months we have received cut notices on our electric service almost every month,we have curtailed our spending dramatically and have been budgeting like it's the fucking depression.I have ignored a dental bill,because I can't afford to pay it.I can't get my hypertension meds refilled because I can't go in for a doctor visit because I can't afford the co-pays I owe because,even though I'm union,my health coverage sucks.
Travis county has painted us into a corner,a very dark corner.If we don't pay,they will seize the house and auction it off for 6800 dollars (or 2 years worth of tax).
Our home,appraised at 150K for this year could be auctioned off for this amount of debt.This,to me,is fucking insane.
I'm not trying to be a crybaby,I accept full responsibility for being a victim of Bunnypants (booming if your already filthy rich) economy.And of being a poor money manager.I am more than willing to pay taxes that I firmly believe are inflated,unfair,and in my opinion criminally high.And I put the blame for that squarely on the shoulders of developers who are trying to turn this city into Dallas or Houston.And the city council,who are more interested in anything but the welfare of it's middle class citizens.
We have been forced to take out a high interest loan to pay...a loan that will no doubt be unpaid when I DIE,for 2 years worth of property tax.That's just insane.
This was my parents home,they left it to me because they knew what was coming down the road and wanted me to have a home...they had no fucking idea.
So we'll trudge on and keep on trying to get by,somehow.But if it comes down to the auction block,trust me...no one will get this house.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

LOVE
If you ever wondered what love was...here it is,personified.



This is my old man,Theo,give him some hugs...
TOOL BAG



This is my tool bag...there are many like it,but this one is mine.
Without me,my tool bag is useless.
Without my tool bag,I am useless...
And so on and so forth.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

CREW

Thursday, October 25, 2007

TMO



This is a shot from inside the elevator of the 7th floor.I left it as is.7 is the most graffiti laden floor of them all for some reason,and while you find the letters TMO scattered around the place they are most frequent here on 7.TMO is standard vernacular for "typical mexican operation".It's a slam.
While my whole crew has a very diverse population (we are equally represented by all groups)and we get along well,some of the trades are still dominated by backward racist white rednecks,who,in comparison to us,when they say the following shit they are dead serious and there is a tinge of hatred in the tone and spirit of it.When we say it,it's all in good fun,and the insults fly back and forth freely between the races.
Which brings me to todays safety meeting.Today was an open forum,with our meeting leaders opening it up to all of us to raise concerns of a safety nature.(Sounds like someone on the general contractors team paid for a workshop not unlike the dog and pony shows I used to have to endure back in the day and wanted to get their moneys worth).
A crusty old welder was the first to chime in..."You know,there's a lot of people here who don't speak english or even understand it,and we don't speak mexican(!)and I'm gettin' real fucking tired of...when,you know,somethin's falling or somethin' like that and I yell 'LOOK OUT!' and they don't fuckin' understand what I'm sayin'...it's unsafe".
What,exactly, is this guy expecting?I look forward to the english as a second language classes the GC is gonna start up next week on site on mondays,wednesdays and fridays from 10 to 11 am...HA!
I think everyone can understand LOOK OUT! no matter what fucking language you speak.
And it kind of fizzled after that,if I was that guy I would be extra sure to have my hard hat on at all times for awhile.
Anyway...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I CAN COMMIT TO THIS FOR A WEEK

I just don't know if the crew will go along...we'll see.But here's the first one in a (hopefully)7 day series...



This image was shot with a samsung mobile phone camera and manipulated with Gimp 2 software.
MORE GRAFFITI

Quick quiz...is it:

A:The newest monitoring device for homeland security at our nations aiports
B:Your brain on LSD
C:Emergency lighting
???



The correct answer is........
C: Emergency lighting!It'll be taken out as part of the remodel anyway,and no,we didn't do it.I swear.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

FIRESTORM!

Ah,poor California...it would appear the place might burn to the ground.There are simply not enough fire fighters and material to deal with the destruction.But from what I've read and heard they are doing their best.And a serious effort is under way to save horses and other animals,and I applaud that effort as well.
The people evacuated to Qualcom stadium are receiving stellar treatment...gourmet foods,live music...hell,there's even a magician going around making balloon animals for the kids.
Kind of reminds me of how the people of New Orleans were treated during and after Katrina.HAHA!That's a real side splitter.innit?
Do you suppose it's a matter of lessons learned,or the difference between being poor and black or affluent and white?
One sheriff was quoted as saying it may have to burn to the sea before it's all said and done...that's fucking scary.
A quick poll at CNN with about 100,000 respondents shows 74% don't believe FEMA is prepared to respond.Now there's a vote of confidence for you.
I wish you well,Californians...

Monday, October 22, 2007

GRAFFITI

Well,somebody added eyes and I guess vines to the eyelets,but here it is...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

THE SAUSAGE FACTORY (WITH PICTURES!)

I decided to make some home made sausage links today.The process is rather disgusting,to say the least.Especially the part where you shove the pork mixture into the "hog casings"(read:intestines),they come in a package covered in salt,you rinse off the salt and soak them for 30 minutes then run water through them to open them up,then stuff them.For some reason it reminded me of a bowel movement...only in reverse.
I made 2 batches...
The first was ground pork with fresh minced onion,fresh pureed garlic and cajun seasoning.the second has ground pork,gourmet steak seasoning and worcestershire sauce and a touch of teriyaki marinade.
I used a guitar slide to hold the "casing" open while I stuffed it,the going was slow,and gross.



Hog "casings" soaking until they become "soft and pliable"-ewwww.



Stuffing the hog...erm..."casing".



Links!!!



EEEWWWWW...guts.

Now it's time to fire up the grill...










sausage!




Annabelle lkes it!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

GRAFFITI

I've been drawing devils on the walls of the tower of evil since I got there,in every conceivable nook and cranny and in obvious places and inside walls that will be covered and unseen until the next time they gut this poor building and someone will unearth one of my devils (or the sporadic turtle or dragon) and go wow...check this shit out.
However,at the last safety meeting we were told that graffiti was unsafe,or more to the point,forbidden."You try explaining to your family and loved one's how you got run off the job for drawing funny shit on the walls".Seriously...walls that will be demoed or covered up or removed are somehow sacrosanct.Fuck that.
But you have to be discreet.And my guy Kyle has an artistic bone in his body and expresses it on the walls of the tower of evil,but being 19 years old lacks the subtlety of my art.In other words,he almost got us busted.
The other day he drew caricatures of Abel and me on the wall by the elevators his rendition of Abel was spot on,but he quit drawing me leaving me with no nose or eyes saying "it just doesn't look like him".He got the eyelets in the ears and the goatee and the cap.
On friday the safety guy approached Abel and asked him why he drew himself on the wall...Abel responded with "why in the hell would i draw a picture of me on the wall?!I saw it the other day and thought to myself-hey that's me-WTF???I don't know who did that."The safety guy said he thought he knew who the other picture was of but needed to find out and walked off to another unit.
When Abel was done telling us the story and we finished laughing about it i told kyle to keep any future graffiti non-identifiable.
Too fucking funny.He is so 19,and as much as I try to treat him like an equal it's hard not to be parental,I mean shit,he's younger than my own Kyle,and I still have a library of advice to give to him when the time comes.
Abel and Kyle are a good crew...we get it done and we get along,and they are learning from me.
Imagine that.

Friday, October 19, 2007

THE WEEK THAT WAS WAS...



I did lots and lots of this,over and over again.What is this anyway?Please submit suggestions in the comments.
I was a bit extravagant in the spending department this past week,but dammit!I was stressed.I bought a dvd called harsh times with Christian Bale...a very depressing and violent tome about what happens when you come back from Iraq fucked in the head and try to become an LA police.
I went to the wrecka stow the next night to buy a cd by a band from my 70's hard rock days,Dirty Tricks.The cd in demand was Night Man...I loved this record!Alas,they didn't have it and I had to special order it.They did,however,have the original release of Sandinista! by The Clash.I bought it when it first came out on LP when I lived in Colorado.It got warped and when I went to buy a replacement,the original issue had been replaced by an abridged edition...minus my favorite ska and reggae bits that they were experimenting with at the time.And there it was in all it's remastered glory,screaming "buy me"!!!So I did.I can't describe the joy my body felt hearing "Lose this skin" after 20 plus years :).
I picked up the Dirty Tricks cd tonight...they are like Humble Pie's cross eyed red headed second cousin...the singer has a...unique voice,crunchy guitars sooth my soul and I realize they are another influence on my own playing and singing.
Speaking of,after I had found the dude to transfer our tape to dvd,my son read it and called me,seems he has the same equipment and will do it for free.I haven't heard back from him...2 babies will do that to a man I'm sure.So the Wolves debut on you tube is on hold for a bit,but still coming.
As Ann reports,she has been...uhhh...different of late.Quick to shoot down my shit,very unhappy in her job to the point of bleeding over into heart and home.We had a heart to heart which resulted in her resigning.Not the outcome I expected.But that job sucks donkey balls for her right now and it pains me to see her so miserable,at the same time I don't relish the thought of living in a fridge box and shitting in a bucket.I'm all about the RV living...I don't want to be an "outdoorsman" either.
You gotta support your girl however...and I do.
As I said,work is work,pulling wire and making up joints and trying to make sure it's all done right...and sensibly.It's hard enough keeping my shit in check,much less me and 2 newbies,I hate to bird dog them,so I don't,but this passive monitoring is killing me.
I'm glad it's the weekend.
Side effects
This new position has some side effects I wasn't aware of until Rob pointed them out. I knew I was miserable, but I didn't realize it was spilling over into my home life. Apparently I've been bringing a very negative attitude home with me. I had no idea that was happening. I'm usually the one that thinks the glass is 1/2 full and might be overflowing tomorrow. But I could see, after Rob pointed it out, just how I'd changed. I supposed the clincher was when he told me that my behavior resembled what I had told him about my mother. Eeek! And he was right! I went into work the next day and turned in my resignation. I don't have another job lined up so I just had to take a leap of faith that I'll either find something else in a hurry or they'll give me some other job choice at my current employer. I resigned effective the 31st, but they asked me to stay until the 3rd so some folks could have that day off to go to a wedding. And being the schmuck that I am, I agreed. No idea what will happen, but hopefully Rob will have his normal Anabelle back soon.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I'M AN ELECTRICIAN NOT AN AUTO MECHANIC

When I was younger cars were simple things,there were no on board computers and sensors and stuff to make it impossible to do shade tree mechanics.I liked working on my 57 chevy apache and my 65 bonneville.
Ann's 92 tempo refused to start the other day,and I followed the sage advice of a friend from years ago:start with the simplest possible reason and work your way up the chain.I removed and cleaned the battery posts and connectors.Nope.I checked the voltage of the battery...a healthy 12.5 volts DC.I located the starter and attempted to remove it to have it checked,no dice.
The 92 tempo has a transverse mounted engine...the fucking thing is in there sideways...I have never understood the logic in this and just looking at a transverse mounted engine gives me a headache...the way the starter is mounted there are bolts and a bracket you cannot reach with any type of wrench,ratchet or socket.I gave it a go,but was ultimately unsuccessful.
So it's off to the shop for the tempo and a period of car pooling that we both are so not looking forward to.

Update...upon further exploration and application we have been able to determine it is the starter solenoid,which is not a type of wine.I love my multi meter and the internet tubes of wisdom.

Friday, October 12, 2007

AL GORE WINS THE NOBEL PRIZE

So,Al wins an emmy,an academy award and now the nobel prize.How much sucking up does it take from the "far" left to get ol' fatso to throw his hat in the ring anyway???
Seriously though,this guy has taken a beating from the whore press since 1999.And the previous statement regarding his weight(He's lost weight,BTW)was just some of the smearing that that Cavuto whore was spewing on his program this morning.Other outlets attacked the prize and the committee in response to his well deserved award.
I think he would make a fantastic president,but he's happy and successful and making a difference in the world doing what he's doing right now without all the horse shit of running.I don't blame him,I wouldn't do it either if I were him.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

JENNA BUSH IS AS BAD AS A TERRORIST...MAYBE WORSE!

I read(with much disgust)"10 questions for Jenna Bush" at a link to Time off of CNN.When asked why she wasn't serving her country in Iraq/Afghanistan she replied that she felt she was serving her country better by bringing about AIDS/H.I.V awareness and the importance of education as a tool against poverty in Latin America and Africa(both countries being hotbeds of terrorism and insurgency).What a little traitor bitch!I mean,come on Jenna...admit it.You'd rather pass out condoms and dodge protest signs than kill people and dodge being killed yourself.Right?Right?!!
And that whole book thing...you could give a shit about "Ana" or whatever her real name is,all you want is to cash in on the suffering of others,just like your Dad.Admit it.And speaking of your Dad,you say you inherited his "sense of humor"...what sense of humor?Giggling like an idiot at the suffering of others?Why not mention the other thing you inherited from him?Addiction.To drugs,to alcohol,to power and money.You avoided that one,just like you avoided a straight answer to every softball question given you.In regard to the criticism your Dad receives you responded with "We don't watch too much television. The world is such a big place, and there's so much that goes on, but a lot of the media really just cover the same thing over and over again".What???You can't be fucking serious...mostly what the media covers "over and over again" is how your Dad and his cronies are spot on right about EVERYTHING despite ample evidence to the contrary.
Give us a fucking breaking you little spoiled brat slut terrorist of privilege.You suck.

This post is dedicated to the Frost family.

The only difference between what I just wrote and what the media has been saying about the Frosts is that I'm telling you the truth and they aren't.
AUSTINS OWN I.E.D'S

I've been seeing them in parking lots around Austin forever,and never really thought them dangerous.Until today.I went to the corner for smokes and as I was getting out of the car,I narrowly missed stepping directly on one.The results could be different with each triggering,you could slip and fall releasing a small ammonia cloud,or you could do all that and end up having your foot coated in shit...baby shit.
Yes,I'm referring to disposable diapers.
Let us explore for a moment what goes through the minds of these terrorists.Oh!My baby soiled his diaper while I was shopping at HEB.I'll change the baby in the parking lot.After the change the terrorist looks around thinking what to do with this "infant explosive device".And they inevitably decide that leaving it in the parking lot is the logical conclusion,and toss it to the ground and drive away,and it sits,cooking in the sun,waiting for a victim.
Oh!The humanity!
I think an innovative way to combat this problem is for judges to demand offenders who receive community service as part of the sentence to be "mine sweepers" and be required to drive to the malls and groceries and corner stores and diffuse them.Before someone else gets hurt (or at the very least,stinky and nauseas).

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Why don't we do the things we love to do?
I love to go camping. I'm pretty sure Rob loves to go camping considering we spent our honeymoon camping in the Rio Grande National Forest. So why don't we go camping anymore? I just asked Rob this question and he answered, "Because we are lazy." Hmm, that could be it. Back in the day, when I camped on a regular basis, laziness wasn't really a factor. I had everything organized and packed into plastic storage bins and it took about 15 minutes to load up the car with everything needed. The checklist only covered items that weren't already packed and it was more of a grocery list for the store that would be stopped at on the way off to wherever. But now, if we wanted to sprint off on a camping trip it wouldn't be so easy. For one thing, most of our camping equipment has been permanently loaned out, never to be seen again. No nicely packed, raccoon-proof storage bins with all the things you might need, no lantern, no cookstove. Is that watercooler still around? Not sure. Do we still have two usable ice chests? No, not even one. Of course, none of these are really needed (other than at least one ice chest) and easily remedied. I suspect the real reason is the dogs. Irene would be fine, but taking Theo camping is a bad idea. At this point in his life he doesn't even like the front yard and boarding is definitely out of the question. He's a crotchety old man that just wants to stay home, but he's so anti-social with strangers that I don't think a pet sitter stopping by once or twice a day would work out very well. I think the answer here is part laziness, but also that sometimes you don't do some of the things you love because of the other things you love. In this case, Theo.
VHS TO DVD

We were out at country club spit again this weekend for BBQ and company and I hear the sound of our band emanating from the living room.I venture in to see what's up and lo and behold,it's a near perfect copy of a concert video we recorded 11 years ago in honor of Bill's 40th birthday.It was made by a guy I worked with who was an aspiring film maker and we blew out all the stops...we brought every amp and speaker cabinet we could get our hands on,the back row is probably 20-25 feet long,PA and several monitors up front and 2 mixing boards.
We worked hard for this,practicing all of our songs 2 or 3 times a week for a couple of months,and it paid off.It's not mixed (beyond the live boards) or remastered but it is a faithful representation of our band in its youth.We had been together for just over 2 years and the energy was evident.
As Bill and I waxed nostalgic..."that was our woodstock man!" "We fucking ruled on that one dude",our thoughts turned to DVD transfer and You Tube.
Bill:"can you upload any of this to You Tube"?
Me:"Fuck yeah man!All we gotta do is transfer it to DVD".
Bill:"I DARE you to do it"!
Me:"You are fucking on brother"!
Bill:"We better call LT and make sure he's cool with it first".
Me:"I gauran-god-damn-tee you LT will be cool with this".
Bill:"OK!But let's call him anyway".
So...after the fog cleared,I did some snooping around and found a local guy who will transfer our tape for cheap.15.00 for the initial copy and 3.00 for each additional one.
He says in most cases turn around is next day!I'm gonna drop it off Friday afternoon.
So...look for us on you tube in the next couple of weeks.I'll post an announcement here of course.
RENDITION

You know, the practice of transporting suspected enemy combatants to other countries where they can be tortured in more horrific ways than they could be here or at gitmo.Although it appears that we are,or rather our corrupt administration* is stepping up to the plate in terms of just this side of organ failure and death.
Enemy combatants and/or detainees are ambiguous labels for people considered by *CA to be a threat to our country and are dealt with accordingly.The new definition of accordingly is no representation and no habeas corpus protection.For years.
I have a very different definition of enemy combatant,and I suggest that the following people be rendered to,oh,I don't know...how about Venezuela?
Bush
Cheney
Perino
Snow
Coulter
Limbaugh
Malkin
O'Lielly
Lieberman
McCain
Ghouliani...there's more,but,the list goes on forever and the lying never ends.
What's good for the goose is good for the gander...right?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Nightmare Therapy
I had a nightmare this morning that was so intense it caused me to wake up screaming. The last time I recall that happening is when I was a very small child. It woke Rob up too and he gave me a good squeeze while I shook off the terror, just in time for the alarm to start buzzing. No hitting the snooze bar for me this morning as there was no way I was going to be able to fall back asleep.

The dream was an odd take on my usual drowning dreams. Every time I dream that I'm drowning, I always realize in the dream that I'm breathing and I then think "This is impossible and therefore I must be dreaming," at which point I wake up. No big deal and I rarely feel scared when I wake up. I can usually figure out later what it is in my waking life that I feel is "drowning" me and depending on the situation I can either change things or decide it's not really such a big deal and stop worrying about it. The drowning dreams go away only to return the next time I'm in that sort of mind frame about something.

But this dream was a whole different ball of wax. For one thing, I wasn't alone (and I'm always alone in my recurring drowning dreams.) Instead, I was in a car with my mom. She was driving in one of those typical Central Texas flash flood situations and we came over a hill to see the water across the road. She sensibly stopped before the water, but then a crest of water came down the river and before she could back up to get further away the car was washed into the river. As the car sunk and started getting knocked around, I looked over at my mom to find her unconscious and wondered how in the hell I was going to get us out of this. The car had power windows and I couldn't find anything in the car that would break a window with that kind of water pressure against it. And even if I could break a window, an unconscious person is going to drown long before we could get to the surface, even if we could get to the surface. And should we manage to surface, it's almost impossible to get to land from the middle of a raging river in a flash flood situation. No hope of rescue since we were in a remote area and I was certain no one had seen the car wash into the river. Interestingly enough, I wasn't in a complete panic in the dream, but apparently other parts of my mind weren't so calm and I woke myself up screaming.

I've never had this dream before and I'm not sure exactly what it means. But I suspect it has to do with the fact the my mom is going to die at some point and there's nothing I can do about it. I've always thought I was pretty accepting of that fact, but perhaps I'm not so comfortable with it after all.

And despite the horrible start to the day, it was one of the better ones at work even with the usual parade of crabby, rude Saturday callers. One caller even remarked, with an incredulous tone in his voice, "You sound so happy!" after I answered the phone. No way I was going to 'fess up that it's my tricks of the trade that make it sound that way. But yes, I am one of the happiest, most cheerful, enthusiastic, reassuring and sympathetic call center employees you might ever have answering your call. If camera phones ever come into being, I'm not worried since I look the part too (which is why I sound the part.) But it's nothing more than acting and while it's not the easiest thing to do day after day, it's possible to pull it off most of the time. For some reason it was easier today; maybe that nightmare got some darkness out of my system.
TOO HARD TO SWALLOW

I fucking love me some Crowbar...enjoy(?)

Friday, October 05, 2007

BUSH AS ANAGRAM

A...arrogant
S...slimy
S...sycophant
H...histrionic (from latin:histrio=actor,as in making it up as he goes along)
O...omnipotent in his own mind
L...liar!
E...evangelical

And there you have it...ASSHOLE.
Thank you and good night.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Downsizing
I cut a lot of monthly expenses when I got the sudden notice about my job change. Now that the figures are in for the first month on the new income, I discovered it wasn't quite enough trimming so I'm cutting more. One item I had to look long and hard at was our internet access. We have business class service and it's a considerable expense, but it made sense back when I was a manager and working from home all those extra hours. It doesn't make sense now, but it's the best internet service I've ever had both in terms of reliability and customer service. Even the tech support is top notch and while I've only had to call them twice, I do the same type of support for a living so I know what constitutes top-notch. Add to this the fact that it is a contract plan with a hefty fee for early termination and I decided to leave this item out of the cost-cutting. However, I had forgotten that we didn't have the lowest price plan option and when I remembered that today I gave them a call. It turned out to be no problem at all to downgrade to a slower speed package and presto! - instant $60/month savings. We've had to do this sort of cost-cutting in the past as our employment status changed, but the difference this time is that it's not temporary. It's no longer a matter of cutting back on things only until the income increases again. Instead, it's a process of realigning our budget to fit the one we will be using once we hit the road in a few years. And it just so happens that the new monthly fee for our internet service is about what we can expect to pay for the use everywhere, even in the boonies satellite service that most full-time RVers use. Perfect.
ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE THE CONSTRUCTION



This is downtown Austin looking west from the 12th floor of the T.O.E,in the distance are the cranes at 2 of several buildings going up.While it makes me happy to know that I will be gainfully employed forever(if this keeps up),it makes me sad that Austin is rapidly becoming the sprawl that is Houston and Dallas.Although the shitty council will tell you they are planning to avoid that,I can assure you it's happening.
Back in the day you had south,north,downtown and the UT area that separated downtown from north.A recent article in the Chronicle described a new development in north Austin (The Domain) as a "second downtown" with a development focus on a pedestrian friendly environment.As they have often done and will undoubtedly do with this one,it will be a disaster on so many levels as to make one dizzy and never match up with the bullshit they talked but never intended to walk in the first place.There will be deals and incentives and compromises and neighborhood groups protesting and forming coalitions and filing lawsuits...Phew!And in the end,the developers will prevail with their blessing.After all,it's the shitty council,why should Austinites expect any less than the sniveling sucking up to major developers that has been the trademark of the council for nigh on 20 years?
And why do we need a "second downtown"?It's fucking north Austin and it will always be north Austin.They need to just call it what it is...a gigantic strip mall stacked with some over priced condos and apartments.
The last time I could say this was a cool town to live in rather than at least I'm not in Houston was back in the early 80's.
So,our eventual escape planning is perfectly timed.
I can't wait to get the fuck out of here,and that's the saddest part.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

IRAN


(CLICK FOR EXPLODED VIEW)

I think we're in for some big trouble.All indicators point to air strikes by the US in Iran.But the focus has reportedly shifted from the nuke sites to the revolutionary guard,or possibly both,to eliminate the threat (if you buy into the notion being floated that the guard is supporting terrorist activity in Iraq).In his failed attempt to whip us into a frenzy over Iran's nuclear program,he's shifted the focus back to the combo meal of patriotism and fear mongering.Truth be told,bunnypants is going to what the fuck he wants regardless of what congress or the citizens at large have to say about it.He and his "administration" are completely out of control.
So...let's play this out.
The US conducts surgical strikes against the revolutionary guard in Iran.How do they respond?
Best case:Go all post Hiroshima/Nagasaki Japan and surrender and enter into "diplomatic dialogue",which ultimately results in an end to the war and a democratic middle east.Primarily as a result of our "superior power" and the fantastic four like ability of Condi to broker a settlement.Let's all laugh together in that pathetic I'm beaten whimper/laugh.
Worst case:Iran sends it's 500,000 plus military pouring across the border and annihilates the 130,000 US troops on the ground in Iraq,plus all those Blackwater mercenary assholes.
Middlin' case:We are bogged down in a war of attrition that goes on forever involving all the major players...war all the time.
I don't care about the naysayers that say Iran's military is full of old outdated weaponry,I can kill someone with a flintlock rifle just as easily as I can with a 1980's AK-47 or RPG.If it still shoots,it still kills.
500,000 vs.130,000,plus the people in country we are currently fighting who would no doubt side with Iran.
I can't conceive of anyone being that fucking stupid...oh...wait...
CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENTS

The construction of condos in downtown Austin is booming,so much so,that some speculate we are over building.Maybe we are,but what concerns me more than that is the More Money Than Sense Trendy Assholes* that keep coming here will be concentrated in the downtown area,effectively ruining the area for the rest of us.
And who are the people largely responsible for making M.M.T.S.T.A's* dreams of downtown living come true?"Guest workers" from Central America and Mexico.
And today,one of them died.Not at my job site,but just 9 blocks north and 3 blocks west.
Yesterday,he fell down a 4x6 foot chase,30 feet,hitting shit on the way down...beams,rebar,etc. and had to be lifted out in a basket.
He was from...wait for it...Mexico.I was shocked.
But all that aside,someone died and some family is minus a son,husband et al.And that's sad.While I wasn't witness to this tragedy I've got to wonder...if he was working near an edge why wasn't he wearing a harness/lanyard?Those are the rules after all.
One minute you're spot welding(or whatever he was doing)the next minute you're dead.
Frightening.

Monday, October 01, 2007

More RV thoughts
Sunday turned out to be a hellish day at work which was followed by a bout of discouragement last night as I probed the internet for more information on what we hope will be our new lifestyle of full-timing it in an RV down the road. There's a lot of information out there on the 'net - probably more than I can read over the next two years, especially since it's added to on a daily basis. And while there's a common statement that full-timing can be done on any budget, it's not so easy to find examples of folks that are actually doing it on the low end of the scale. The initial outlay for a traditional fifth-wheel and tow vehicle is pretty steep for our budget, even one that is used. The original thought was that we would purchase our rig with the proceeds from the sale of the house, but I've changed my mind on that. We'll need that money in savings for expenses such as major repairs that we'll inevitably occur as we travel. Depending on what breaks or goes wrong, one could be looking at thousands of dollars in repairs to one's "home". Plus, the monthly cost of being on the road isn't that much cheaper than what we spend to live in our house and the thought of living paycheck to paycheck on the road with little or no savings as a backup scares the heck out of me. Of course, we live paycheck to paycheck right now, but it's the house that serves as the savings backup since it can be sold easily (nothing stays on the market longer than a month in this neighborhood, even in the worst housing downturns.) There are a lot of people that just RV as long as they can and once they hit that financial snag that can't be overcome, they just settle back down (and usually hit the road again as soon as they can.) I suppose that's an option, but I think it would give us too many sleepless nights and we are looking to reduce the number of sleepless nights in our future, not maintain or add to them. And so it seemed to me last night that we were either going to have to get a lot more comfortable living on the edge or come up with some other plan besides just selling the house to finance this dream.

This morning I realized the foul mood I had brought home from the office had put some serious blinders on my eyes. The fifth-wheel rig is just one of many options. Plus, I've only been looking at used RV prices for the last week or so which is not long enough to get a good feel for the market or give me more than a vague idea of what we might spend down the road. And who knows what our house is going to be worth in two, four or seven years? At the rate things are going in our neighborhood, we could walk away with an extra $50,000 over today's prices.

I had somewhat ruled out motorhomes as an option (irregardless of price) since we need a vehicle for Rob to get to work and back. I just can't imagine Rob or me driving one of those with a car towed behind the back. Maybe after a few years experience with something smaller, but certainly not right off the bat. But one thing I hadn't thought of until today - there's no reason we have to tow the second vehicle. We can both drive so one could drive the behemoth while the other drove the car. Or we could just buy a cheap used car when we got to our destination if Rob was going to be working there for several months (as seems likely.)

And I'm also discovering that I really like the Class C motorhomes. Yes, they are small and cramped compared to a fifth wheel, but that also means they are small enough to go places you can't go with a bigger rig. I suspect we wouldn't be spending much time inside in it anyway, at least not the first year or so. Heck, when the weather's nice here, we always sit on our front porch instead of inside our stick house and I would imagine it's going to be no different when our house is on wheels. Especially when we can change the weather by moving on to better climes.

I spent some time today reading about folks that have purchased used Class C motorhomes, then fixed them up and modified them to suit their needs without spending a fortune. This just might be the route for us or there could be others that I haven't even thought of yet. If nothing else, it should be an interesting and educational next couple of years as we shoot for that goal of hitting the road.