Saturday, September 30, 2006
My first fears about George W. Bush came about in the aftermath of the 2000 election. As the country reeled from hanging chads and misplaced Pat Buchanan check boxes -- as we watched Bush's very own campaign advisor decree that there would be no more recounts in Florida (and we knew she meant it because, after all, she was the fucking be-all, end-all person in charge of the whole fucking Florida election...) the fear crept in.
The fear is this - if they'll steal the election, how low will they stoop? What if they get reelected and then refuse to leave office after eight years?
This thinking worried me, because it's the stuff of conspiracy theorists. But it's still there, dug in a little deeper with the questions still unanswered from the 2004 election.
Out of it all, I suppose there's one good thing --
It's times like these when I'm grateful to the Conservatives, Republicans, Christian assholes & everyday rednecks.
You see -- they didn't renew the assault weapons ban. Maybe now's the time to go buy a few. It's nice to be right (see below) but there are sometimes when it's better to be wrong. I really hope I'm wrong.
The New Enabling Act
Everybody in your town could eat at Fogo de Chao every day for the rest of their lives... and even get a slice of cake, too.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
This week's Next Best Thing Since Sliced Bread is:
Sliced Wood. Wonderful and exquisite, great for the home, even better for outside, or for the doors, or for boxes, maybe even for hats and big wooden gloves like the dutch have. Succulent slices of prime selected tender streaks of Teak, Oak, or Cedar for everyone. Fuckin A.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Then, all of a sudden, the funny shifting stopped and it only made the noise sometimes. So I would therefore sometimes think I should get it looked at. But when I had to drive 3 hours every day and work 9 hours and sleep 8 hours and watch a baby for 5 hours every day I ran out of available time to ever take a van to get a transmission flush or looked at or diagnosed or fixed or anything.
So I finally found a block of time to get the transmission flushed on the van. But, the weekend beore that, my in-laws are scheduled to take a trip to the grandparent-land and they don't have enough seats in any of their cars.
I figure, in my infinite wisdom, that THE VAN LASTED THIS LONG, ONE MORE TRIP WON'T KILL IT so I insist they take the van on their trip. A trip which VERY MUCH features OVER THE RIVER and THROUGH THE WOODS as well as a lot of UP OVER THE FUCKING MOUNTAINS.
I am privately eased when I learn they arrived at the place in one piece. You see, I did not go with them. But my wife did. And my baby did. And I stayed at my house and disassembled my train table and cleaned my living room while blasting Star Wars movies through a very loud Dolby Digital EX receiver which recently found its way to my house by way of I BOUGHT IT FOR MYSELF AS AN ANNIVERSARY PRESENT SINCE I ALWAYS CONFUSE EVERYONE WHEN I GIVE THEM A LIST OF "GIFT IDEAS."
The next day, while said fambly are coming home, said van starts sputtering. By the time they make it back home, the van is stalling at stop lights. I take the van to the dealer to have it diagnosed.
Dealer diagnoses transmission and says THAT THING IS DEAD FUCKIN' BUSTED AND NEEDS A NEW TRANSMISSION.
I say, "."
But then I call the other place who does lots of work for me and they relate a tale of unscrupulous dealers selling unnecessary transmissions to customers when all it needs is a good flush.
So I have the van towed to the other place. And they flush it. And they test drive it. And they call me and say, "HEY! WE FLUSHED YOUR VAN - HELL, WE GAVE IT A 125% FLUSH AND IT'S RUNNING CLEAN FLUID ALL THE WAY THROUGH IT NOW," in their very excited service center guy voice. And then he says, "BUT IT'S STILL BUSTED AND YOU'LL NEED A NEW ONE."
And I say, "."
And I think to myself, "Thank you for not fucking me big-time."
I think to myself, "I'm really glad you talked me into a $225 transmission flush-and-fill on top of having to buy a new fucking transmission. Thank you for not fucking me big-time."
So they are $800 cheaper than the dealer on transmission replacment and I tell them to do it and I have to drive in my wife's car for a day because of DEAD VAN and then we realize it's going to be more like a week or two before we can actually afford to pay for a new transmission, so we rent a car.
I now get to drive my wife's car and my wife gets to drive the rental car.
Within 15 minutes of picking up the rental car, she backs it into a pile of dirt, gravel, and asphalt.
Within two seconds of driving my wife's car, I realize it's totally unsafe at any speed. It wobbles and swerves and steers itself into oncoming traffic. All in all, it's a fantastic conveyance for dropping off and picking up the baby. Really.
So I go get THIS CAR looked at.
The guy who test drives it comes back and says, "HOOOOOOO BOY! THAT'S A WILD RIDE, ISN'T IT?"
Then he puts it on the lift and looks for loose suspension components. Nothing is loose. But the tires look terrible. Especially on the back.
We have a meeting about the car. This meeting takes place under the car. I am holding the baby. Car is jacked up in the air. The meeting decides that the struts are all shot and need to be replaced. It also needs four tires. And an alignment.
The estimate for that MINUS the tires was $900.
Tires were between $75 and $105 each.
I opted for two new tires to evaluate the situation and see if it still felt 100% crazy or if it felt that the rear struts were causing most of the problem.
Two new tires on the front. Drove home. Seemed better. Much better, actually, in the front end. No shake or shimmy or terrible steering. But the rear end is loose like a goose and feels like it's going to spin out on 2 mph turns.
Then I further evaluated my options. The parts I needed for the strut replacment were slated at $135 each for the rear and $80 each for the fronts. I found the same parts with the SAME EXACT PART NUMBERS for almost half those prices at local parts stores.
I also found that the procedure to replace the front struts does not involve a spring compressor and should only take 15 minutes so I didn't understand the $80 PER SIDE charge for labor.
I took it upon myself to follow the procedure for the front struts. I bought two new inserts and rented the fancy GM tool to remove/reinstall them.
I started on the driver side strut. It came right out, as advertised. It went back together mostly as advertised, until it came time to tighten the retainer cap with the rented tool.
I torqued that son-of-a-bitch down to the designated spec, but it looked like it was only grabbing on three or four threads. The process was being complicated by the fact that the lower part of the strut (which doesn't get changed) is cocked at an angle under the spring pressure.
I figured it was good enough to get it to the place and they could tighten it if it was loose. So I took it there to have them do the rear struts and the aligning.
And they did.
And they called me the next day.
And they said, "HEY GUESS WHAT? WE'RE WORKING ON THIS THING AND THE LEFT FRONT STRUT IS STRIPPED YOU'LL NEED A WHOLE NEW ONE WHAT DO YOU WANT I SHOULD DO WITH IT?"
And I said, "."
So that explains why I had every problems since the bottom whole part what I didn't even ever adjust was sitting wrong cuzza some part is stripped. THANKS> GM.
I hate cars.
I got up this morning and started calling junk yards because BOTTOM PART OF LUMINA STRUT is not a REPLACEMENT PART and the PARTS STORE does not carry it.
But now, $40 later for a junk yard part and $70 a side to tighten the things I couldn't tighten (which, admittedly, is cheaper than the $80 a side they initially wanted to charge me) and every goddamn else the car is getting fixed.
OH. I forgot to mention. The guy at the place agreed to match the part store price on the struts. So that's good.
But who has $3000 for my fucking transmission?
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
I'm sickened and appalled.
When you live in a country as rich and diverse as the United States -- where you can be anything and buy anything you desire -- there is no reason to ever go six months without proper housing after a disaster. There is no reason to ever go six months as an unfound corpse on your own kitchen floor. There is no reason to go even a single day without food or water when your government is able to spend billions of dollars a day on a war in a foreign country.
Forget the reasons for the war and whether or not we should even be there. The fact remains, this country is spending vast amounts of money to fight a war in a foreign country EVERY SINGLE DAY and the citizens of Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf Coast are taking it up the ass.
There were two things which really hit hard while I was watching the 2nd part of this documentary:
The first was the revelation that offshore drilling off the coast of Louisiana accounts for the lion's share of this nation's oil supply. It also accounts for 40% of this nation's natural gas supply. Fuck the prices at the pumps - have you seen a natural gas bill lately? I closed my business due in part to the fact that I had two natural gas heat pumps and I was paying nearly $700 a month to heat my studio.
The winter after I left, the new tenants got a bill for over $2500. FOR ONE FUCKING MONTH.
So - somebody, somewhere is making a WHOLE LOT OF FUCKING MONEY.
But not the people of Louisiana. The fellow on my TV tonight said that because these companies drill just past the three-mile line off the coast, they pay $0 to Louisiana. They pay no royalties, no drilling fees, no public use fees, no taxes. Fucking nothing. A royalty does go to the Federal Government - who then uses the money to bomb foreign countries.
In addition to this, there was a recent vote before congress to WAIVE THE ROYALTIES OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS that these companies would have to pay the government. The gist of the bill was that it would "encourage exploration and developing new places to drill."
I was infuriated after reading this bit of news, and I instantly fired off a letter to my Senators. I got a response back from one of them, and it's still hanging on my fridge.
How is it possible, that after all that's happened in Louisiana and the surrounding regions that these companies WHO ARE MAKING RECORD PROFITS THE LIKES OF WHICH THEY NEVER DREAMED POSSIBLE can't support the localities they are raping and... for Christ's sake -- how could anyone ever propose to waive any kind of fee on behalf of the RICHEST MOTHERFUCKERS ON THE PLANET -- especially one worth hundreds of millions of dollars?
The second thing which I will never forget from this film is the part where Spike Lee tracks down the guy who told Dick Cheney to go fuck himself.
The day this happened, my wife and I were on the couch watching CNN or some other news coverage and we saw it -- live and unedited right on the tube. Cheney is prattling on about thsi and that, standing in front of the ruin of someone's house, and all of a sudden, an off-screen voice pipes up with, "Go fuck yourself, Mr. Cheney." And just in case we didn't catch it the first time, cuz Cheney was still blabbering, the fellow is kind enough to speak up a second time -- with the same advice to our Vice President.
Now, I instantly appreciated the balls on this man - after all, here is the Vice President, surrounded by armed secret service agents, and yet this fellow is undeterred. Which is as it should be. But could you honestly tell me you'd do the same thing if you were in his shoes?
The glorious thing about this bit of the tale, at least to me is that the guy who told Cheney to go fuck himself wasn't some hillbilly or uneducated dipshit just out for a good time.
Sure, he spoke with a lazy southern drawl but he was just a guy trying to get to his house to see what was left of it when he was informed he would have to go fifteen minutes out of his way since the Secret Service had his road closed due to the Vice President's visit.
At the end of the film, all of the people introduced themselves -- most of them adding that they were born and raised in New Orleans. But the fellow who told the Dick to go fuck himself - he introduced himself a little differently. He gave his name and then mentioned that he was an emergency room physician at a New Orleans hospital. Not a truck driver or a construction worker. A doctor.
Even after all the heartache on display throughout the whole of this film, I was unable to suppress the deeply satisfied grin which spread across my face when I heard that.
If I could have just one wish, it would be that Bush would somehow evaporate into thin air. But, if I could squeeze out another one, it would be the hope that we could take some of the money we are spending to fight a war in Iraq - not a whole lot of it -- Just what they spend in, oh... I dunno... a week. Or two weeks... I wish we could put that money into a system like the Dutch have built to prevent flooding in their ENTIRE LOW-LYING COUNTRY.
The Dutch system is built to withstand the storm surge from a once-in-ten-thousand-years storm. How does that compare to the Tinkertoys(tm.), Legos, and Lincoln Logs surrounding New Orleans?
I'm proud of the people who want to move back into New Orleans. They have every right to go back to the homes they own and the homes they rent and the places they know and love. They have every right to rebuild it without interference from greedy land developers and oil companies. And they most certainly have the absolute right to feel safe in their homes, knowing that the proper precautions have been taken to ensure their safety, no matter what the cost may be.
No matter what the fucking cost may be.
Watch the trailer:
In case you missed it on your own - I'd like you to pay close attention to the President's statement on troop withdrawal. And no -- I don't mean the current President.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
After more than two weeks of WE CAN WORK THIS OUT, I'M SURE, DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT from the temp agency guy who I've been telling EVERY DAY about this job place expects me to work an 11:30 AM to 8 PM shift but I was told it was a regular-work-day-hours-9-to-5-or-8-to-4 shift and I NEED TO HAVE THIS RESOLVED NOW RATHER THAN LATER... I had the guy from the temp agency show up at my job today for a meeting.
First he meeted with the work people, and I didn't even know he was here.
Then I was told I had to drop the call I was in the middle of and go talk to the guy.
SO I talked to the guy and it was 20 minutes of "HOLY COW ARE WE SORRY I DON'T UNDERSTAND YOU KNOW WE NEVER WOULD HAVE PUT YOU IN FOR THIS JOB IF WE HAD KNOWN THERE WAS NO EARLY SHIFT AVAILABLE BECAUSE YOU SAID YOU WANTED EARLY SHIFT BUT THERE ISN'T THAT SO WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO?"
So I, sitting here no longer in a meeting, still have to ask myself. JUST WHAT DO I WANT TO DO?
I'm having a great. JUST GREAT.
Normally, I would love go to work at 11:30.
But I am no longer in charge. This is going to end badly, I can tell. There will be tears and yelling and maybe throwing things.
I hate it already.
LET ME TELL YOU:
I am working here.
I have no login for the computer and/or the network.
I have no login for the helpdesk software.
I have a SHITTY DON'T WORKIN' MOUSE
The guy brought me a new mouse. It's for PS2.
I can't reboot my machine because of SEE ABOVE.
So I have to use this BANG IT ON THE TABLE AND SCOOT IT 95 TIMES TO GO 5
PIXELS AT A STRETCH mouse.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
TEN FUCKING YEARS.
I've been looking all over, with absolutely no luck at all... and then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I find it.
Of course, it's at the Wegman's -- which is the biggest goddamn market I've ever seen -- and it's right there in a plain little package sitting in the cooler.
The label says, "Fresh Cheddar Cheese."
Somehow, in my mind, I never made the connection between the fresh mozzarella my wife likes and the cheese curds I've been craving forever. Well, not forever, but ever since my first trip to Montreal in 1996.
So, yeah. Fresh Cheddar Cheese. I can see beyond the label into the clear plastic tub. I can see the crumbled cheese curds and my heart skips a beat in anticipation of the cholesterol flood it will soon be experiencing.
Because, you see, Cheese Curds were not on the grocery list. But now that I've found them I have to add Heinz Chicken Gravy and a bag of crinkle cut french fries to the list.
In January of 1996, I had my first poutine.
Poutine is a Quebec concoction of the ingredients I listed above -- you get a nice big batch of crispy french fries and some piping hot chicken gravy and a whole GREAT BIG FUCKING PILE of fresh cheese curds and you mix the whole thing up in a bowl and you eat it with a fork.
Poutine may just be the 8th wonder of the world. If you haven't had it, I'm sure it sounds disgusting. It sounded disgusting to me the first time it was described. But then I put a forkful into my face and I was never to be the same person.
Poutine is so important that you can even get it at motherfucking McDonald's (known as "McDo" up north) and Burger King in Montreal. Of course, it's better if you get it from some greasy open-all-night diner in a styrofoam take-out bowl, but in a pinch you'll be pretty damn happy if you have to eat the one from McDo.
I was hampered by my lack of knowledge - I didn't know what the fuck kind of cheese it was in the Poutine. It's like a gooey rubber and doesn't resemble regular cheddar at all. But the stuff in the tub from Wegman's is it.
And now it's in my belly.
Half a bag of Ore-Ida Crinkles.
Half a (big) jar of Heinz Chicken Gravy.
Half a tub of Cheese Curds.
Mix. Eat with fork. Sit back and smile.
Holy shit, am I happy.