Monday, October 29, 2007

Finally, the long-promised garage door

It was a little spendier than your average, run-of-the-mill overhead garage door, but we liked the look well enough to fork out the extra cash. When the weather warms up (and we head back north), we'll paint it to match the building. We may even seed the lawn, and do something about the mud driveway. I love works in progress...

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Coming full circle

If you double all the way back to the very first post on this blog , I was snarky about a survey from the Republican National Committee. Today one arrived from the Democratic National Committee, which means it's time for equal treatment. I mean, if it took the Republicans to get me started, it's only fair that it takes the Democratics to keep me going.

At least they had the sense to cross out the "Fellow Democrat" part of the salutation and scratch in "Amerloc" instead. Although that looks suspiciously printed rather than scratched.

And the letter from Jimmy Howard Dean is only two pages, as opposed to the four the RNC mailed. I admire frugality (except when it comes to the telling of stories - then a more substantial investment is justified). I'll skip over the part where he wants money - they all do. That's why they're called bloodsucking politicians, right? So of course they ask for money. Besides, it's the questions that make it fun...

The first question is one of those rank-these-issues-in-order-of-importance-type things, and they list ten issues, all of which affect people directly, and none of which affect dogs directly, but because so many dogs live with people they all affect dogs indirectly so I have opinions on most of them. Of course, once you've pondered those issues, and ranked them in your own version of appropriateness, they proceed to ask another batch of questions which address each of the issues individually. So let me add tainted dog food and choking-hazard Greenies to their list, and then I'll talk about the humans-only issues.

Tainted dog food This was never an issue here. We go over to Lennie's Bar and Grill and Swap Meet in the afternoon, have a beer to prepare our digestive tracts for more arduous tasks, come home, and have some kibbles. Or sometimes we eat there. Not a personal issue, as Alpha has unfailingly provided untainted kibble. But he pays top dollar for it, and he and I both understand that not everyone can do that. I've tagged along at the dog-food store (the smells, the aromas, the nuances...It's like heaven on aisle 3) and I've wondered about those bags that smelled like ground-up antique dishes.

But then I read about all the lead that folks are finding in human kids' toys, and I think to myself, "It's the same thing. Everyone is cutting corners, everyone is trying to do it on the cheap, and only the companies that realize that customers have to survive the initial purchase if they're going buy anymore are producing anything worth buying. Profit will cease to exist when the customers (canine or human) cease to exist. People have raised an entire generation who believe that today's dollar is more important than tomorrow's dollar, and that's sadly mistaken.

Choking-hazard Greenies Here again, I think it's an immediate-gratification issue. Please understand: I have nothing whatsoever against Greenies, at least in theory. The chlorophyl that sweetens my breath is a neat idea. The crunchiness that helps clean my teeth? Good stuff. But a Greenie lasts maybe two minutes, if it's one of the big ones. A medium rawhide bone lasts two days. Yeah, I gnaw it under the bed at night, so it's an auditory inconvenience for the humans, and sometimes I eat the thing so fast (I'm not immune to seeking immediate gratification, I just think it should be pursued in moderation) that other problems ensue. But I've never died from one.

So on to Question 2:

When do you believe there should be a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq?
-Sometime in '07
-Sometime in '08

Tuesday would be good. Last Tuesday.

Unfortunately, that would leave too many Iraqis stranded between Scylla and Charybdis (and one is too many if we value life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness at all). I hate to admit it, but the U.S. is also caught between the mythical/proverbial rock-and-a-hard-place on this one, and it's gonna end up a lose-lose situation because someone screwed up in the first place. Just for the record, it was not a canine who screwed it up.

Let me suggest instead, that we get Haliburton, Blackwater, and their colleagues out of Iraq immediately. Let's eliminate the private profit motive and pursue the establishment of democracy in Iraq on a level playing field. That is, after all, our stated motive.

3. Do you support increased defense spending to fight the war against terrorism?
The choices, of course, are either "yes" or "no." And I have no visceral objection to fighting the "war against terrorism." I do think it's as much a war against ignorance as it is anything, and I mean ignorance on both sides. But it's also a war against fanaticism on both sides, and I don't know how one wins those wars, or even if they can be won with "defense." Alpha fills my bowl with clean water every morning, and my other bowl with kibbles every evening, and we head to Lennie's most days. I sleep in a warm, cozy place every night, and nap on a comfortable bed during the day. Life is good. Give everyone else on the planet my life, and there'd be less fanaticism. And less need for defense dollars.

4. When decisions about the future of Social Security are being made, what do you think is most important?
The choices here are about guaranteed income versus individually-controlled investments or a combination. Pfffttt. Let's be honest. Social it may be, but Security it ain't. It's close (on the short side) to survival. A good family friend (she used to raise poodles) is trying to get by on $700 a month in "Social Security." She lives in a subsidized one-bedroom apartment. She picks up food at the food bank when it's open once a week, and buys whatever's on sale at the store (which leads to an interesting set of choices in her cupboards). So she gets 700 bucks, her landlord gets a grand of taxpayers money as "subsidy," and she still has to choose between her meds and her food (she's on a spreadsheet-full of different pills). But she makes it to church every Sunday that someone can give her a ride and blesses everyone there with her presence. Keep in mind that she isn't complaining about that situation - I am.

I'm gonna leave it there for tonight - only ten questions to go (eleven if I decide to go on about the folks who work 30 years and don't qualify for Social Security).

Maybe I'll get to the pics tomorrow. At least the camera is unpacked.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Home again

Should probably be uploading the new pics of the garage door, or having a bite of solid food, but it's been a little busy here.

The washing machine decided that just a few minutes ago would be a good time to yank the drain hose out of the wall. Thank goodness it's one of those front-load, doesn't-use-hardly-any-water machines. Thank goodness. But there's still four gallons of water in the wet-dry vac. On the bright side, all that lint that collects on the floor around the dryer is gone now, sucked into the murky, sloppy entrails of the vacuum.

A word of advice: if you have a mini-fridge that you use as a beer cooler? Don't leave the top shelf full when you take off for a week. I'm not saying it'll freeze solid and explode beer foam all over the inside of the fridge, but it comes close: the cans wait till you open them to display their frigid glory. In your lap. On the table. On the floor. Just don't. Move the beer down a shelf. Just sayin'...

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

But it'll save Medicare millions...

The single greatest threat to elder health in the US is child-proof packaging.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Voter Registration

Tuesday's the last day to register to vote, at least here in Texas, if you want to vote in next month's elections, so for reasons that have nothing to do with me, personally, I was looking at the Texas voter registration form. You can find one here, if you want to follow along :)

What caught my attention was the second question: "Will you be 18 years of age on or before election day?" (and then one is supposed to check either the "yes" box or the "no" box). A couple inches lower on the form, above the line for one's signature, in bold-faced type, it says I understand that giving false information to procure a voter registration is perjury, and a crime under state and federal law. That paragraph goes on to talk about fines and penalties, and finishes up with several declarations, the last of which is that one is not mentally incompetent according to the courts. That leaves only the date and a signature (presumably one's own) to fill in.

Now maybe it's just me, but I see a Catch-22 there. If I were to fill it out truthfully, the way it's worded, I'd have to check "No." And I'd have to leave it at that, because there's no room on the form to explain that I was 18 before your mama was a gleam in anyone's eye, and I ain't never gonna be 18 again. Of course, if it said, instead, "Will you be 18 or older on election day?" I could very easily and truthfully check the "yes" box, but the way the words are printed right there on the pdf from the office of the Secretary of State of the Great State of Texas, I'd have to perjure myself in order to register to vote. Unless I were going to celebrate my 18th birthday between now and election day.

Now, I'm not so obtuse that I can't read between the lines and figure out what they mean, but this is not an instruction manual for a some-assembly-required-project manufactured in a third-world country where English is not the native tongue: this is an official document from the government of one of the 50 Great States. And it's a legal document.

Don't they teach lawyers in Texas to speak English?

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