Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The end of 2008

2008 is just about in the record books. This last day has been a good one. I am wiring a new lighting scheme in our bedroom. I have put two plug in fixtures and am running an electrical line up the center pole so we can have some track lighting that will give us some general illumination in the room. I negotiated a new loan deal on our property with our bank, the result will be a savings of about $500/month in cash and the ability to pay off all our property in five years. I took a two mile walk to the Ford dealership and picked up Terry's van. So that was my exercise for the day. Then I ended the day by cooking some steaks for dinner which we enjoyed with a baked potato, peas and a couple of cold ones. It has been a good day, a good end of a year and I'm feeling good going in to 2009.

My back is sore from bending over though. Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Rediscovering my Hidey Hole

My garage like many has gotten full of junk. It is all junk I cannot do without. I have a pretty good idea of the inventory, but find myself forgetting where things are when I need them and then finding the items two days after buying more. All of the "junk" I will use, someday. All of the "junk" has value beyond that of dollars and sense (no Jenny I didn't misspell the work.). Some of the "junk" I pick up and stare at, wondering what to do with it, where to store it so I can find it when I need it and being unable to come to a decision I sit it back in the location it has resided in for sometime so I won't misplace it the next time I need it, if ever (whew). It is difficult to part with mixed nuts and bolts that have been in that garage for some 20 years, I might need them tomorrow.

My garage is a nightmare of junk and I am working up the resolve to clean it up. I have taken some positive steps and have at least cleared out and area I can move around in now, to some degree. Years ago I used to spend a lot of time in my garage working on projects, drinking coffee, sitting contemplating projects while drinking coffee, but I safe and secure in my "hidey hole."

For several years I have stopped spending time in my garage. There was no room. I worked at that and have spent an absolutely enjoyable holiday season because I can get into my "hidey hole" and work on some things and drink coffee and contemplate other things. I have been building a fire in my fireplace in the "hidey hole" and done some productive work. I got the new chainsaw chain sharpening grinder working I bought over a year ago . I bought a new 8" variable speed Delta grinder yesterday and finally have a grinder mounted to the grinder pedestal that has stood empty for some 20 years in my garage. A good reason to buy a grinder, so the grinder pedestal gets used.

I have sharpened chisels dulled by my inexpert effort. I sharpened knives kept dull by inept hand sharpening. I cleaned a 100 year old punch made by my grandfather Floria for use in a northern lumber mill. I taught my grandson Sam how to use a pedestal grinder without killing yourself. I found peace, solitude and security among my "toys" and in my hidey hole with a small fire crackling in the fireplace. Now, I can hardly wait to get up tomorrow morning and rebuild the fire in the fireplace so I can take the chill off the air and sit in my hidey hole contemplating the great projects I shall attempt while enjoying a hot cup of coffee. Ahhhhh, bliss!

However, I do have to take Terry grocery shopping tomorrow morning after dropping the van off at the Ford dealership for a tune up. Then I've got to contact Circuit City to see how to return the 2-way radios I purchased that don't seem to work right. It is also New Year's Eve. Oh damn, the intrusions into the sanctity of man. But, I do have access to my hidey hole and for that I am very grateful.

Lincoln Center Awards

One annual television show my wife and I usually enjoy is the Kennedy Center Awards program where performance artists are honored for their contribution. This year's award show was not different. I find myself moved by the program, not so much who the stars are but the craft that they exhibit. The short biographies serve to enlighten me about their roots and background, but it is the tribute performances that can lead to surprising twists.

Twyla Tharp was one of the honorees. I knew her name from articles I've read about dance, but I've not ever seen her special art. I guess I should say I've not ever seen her dances that were actually attributed to her. If her choreography was part of some other show I was not aware of it. Tonight however two people danced three dances, with music sung by Frank Sinatra. The three dances were styled and distinct dances. I was enthralled. The first had some hopping type steps that looked difficult and odd, yet unique and isn't that what art is about, unique. The second dance was characterized by some energetic pushing and pulling and my wife said she didn't like that dance, it looked like the man was abusing the woman partner. Isn't that what art is supposed to do, evoke some feeling. The last dance was graceful, it was done to Sinatra's "My Way" and was graceful and fitting. Isn't that what art is.

The other surprise was the performance by Beyonce. She was dressed conservatively, very little cleavage if any. Her hair was in an elegant fashion and she sang "Memories" in a very Streisand-like style. Good range in her voice, and an emotional interpretation that did the honor to Barbara Streisand proud. I was impressed. I guess I've never listened to Beyonce, I've seen her in some ads where she is a sexy, hip-hop type shaking her booty. This was a side of Beyonce I've not seen and was impressed with. She certainly demonstrated a very different dimension to her talent and that is one of the ways I judge the worth of an artist.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Further Enlightenment

I have written this blog for sometime, realizing that other than my two children no one else reads my writings. I was thinking about that today, on the one hand I do like recognition and I think it would be enjoyable to find others who enjoy my meandering thoughts. However, there is another side of me that says the purpose is also over time to provide some insight into my philosophies, my values and my ideas. After all, isn't that how we come to know people. So perhaps my children may gain insight into my motivations, my grand children may peruse my writing some day to understand their grandpa. In fact, it might help them understand some of the things that motivate them, after all I do make up 25% of their gene pool. So the fact that this is a relatively anonymous blog is OK with me. While I would enjoy a ticker tape parade down Broadway for the quality of my writing, it won't happen, and I'd probably be embarrassed by it all. The thought is nice though.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Is There Something in the Water?

Here we are, a time of year when families get together, goodwill abounds, and joy and happiness are wished profusely on all. Then some ex-spouse dons a Santa Claus outfit and shoots up his ex-in-law's Christmas party. Some guy beats two young boys to death with a baseball bat, and three teens are killed in Houston in a car crash. Even my beloved U.P. isn't left alone, a teenager died in a car accident Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas everyone. There are good stories out there, a K-9 Unit in Kentucky brought Christmas to a young boy whose Dad died of Cancer this season. A family about to be evicted was saved by a friend who blogged about their plight. So there are good events too. I guess what it really means is life goes on, all the evil, all the good. Evil does not take a holiday, neither does death. I wonder what that means to those who believe God has a plan. Yeah, right!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Out of the Ordinary

My wife flushed a red pen down our commode last weekend. That's not the story. During the process of clearing the blockage I broke the lid off the commode. Not the seat mind you, the lid. I cannot repair it. One of the plastic brackets that fasten the lid to the seat assembly broke and cannot be attached to the hinge. So, now we have an economic decision. Should I replace the entire seat assembly, or should we just go with what we have.

This has led to a debate on the merits of the lid. I don't sit on the lid. The seat is still functional. Yet when one approaches the commode it appears incomplete. So now I consider the value added a lid provides. Other than some aesthetic appeal the lid has no functional value. Perhaps hiding telltale tracks on the sides of the commode, otherwise known in this household as "skid marks" has value. Perhaps hiding an incomplete flush has value. But what the hell, all a lid would do is hide the problem, not get rid of it. Still when I approach the commode to make use of the facility it does look odd without a lid.

I've decided I have to be practical in this matter. The seat is still comfortable and the lid provides no economic value so for now the commode shall remain lidless.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Give Up and Give In vs. Get Up and Get On

It is now the third day since our dog Cilla passed away. For some reason this has seemed different as opposed to some of our other pets passing. There are moments of relief that she is gone. Cilla could be quite a pest. Go and get yourself some cheese to snack on and there she was staring at you waiting for her share of the cheese. Not that I begrudged her the cheese, but at times I was put off by the starring as though you were depriving her of life's sustenance. There were times when I was working on the computer that I did not want to hold her in my lap, it interfered with my ability to type. Many a time I typed one handed just to hold her in the crook of my left arm. So there are a few times that there is relief from her being gone.

Other times there are moments of profound sorrow and tears. She was after all just following her nature of wanting to be with us and dogs are always hungry. We took her constant asking for table scraps as a sign perhaps as a pup she had been deprived. We also know that when she was with our daughter and her husband that her shoe chewing banished her to the porch. She lived outside on the porch for several years not allowed in the house. Cilla was deathly afraid of thunderstorms so I can imagine what that was like when she could not find shelter or comfort. We did provide her with shelter and comfort and good food and medical attention. We gave her love, seldom was a lap denied her or a head scratch or belly rub. Many times I would get down on the floor and we'd play bite the pesky hand that grabbed your feet. She enjoyed that.

For some reason her death is a little more difficult for me. The last pet we lost, other than Rosie the Cockatiel, was five years ago. I was 58, and I had not had cancer and major surgery. So perhaps my outlook was a little different, perhaps not so sensitive to aging and the end of existence. Now I am amazed that she was here Friday, Saturday she was gone. I cannot see her, I cannot hold her, I cannot tell her I love her or play with her, or feed her her share of the cheese snack.

I don't feel guilty for feeling relief, we are encumbered with all kinds of thoughts that run counter to compassion and caring. In the end it isn't the thinking that means too much, it is the behavior. I rarely behaved badly toward Cilla, I was tolerant of her wants and tried to satisfy her needs. It is the fact that she is no longer here that plagues me. I miss her warm little body in the crook of my arm, or the warmth of her body stretched out along my leg in my recliner. I miss her quizzical look when I said her name, or her enthusiasm and excitement when we asked her if she wanted to go for a ride. She was here a couple of days ago, now she is gone. I miss her.

Yet the words come to me that in our lives these events will occur and some will be of greater impact than others. The loss of a loving dog is the loss of a family member. Yet those of us left behind have a choice. We can give up and give in to grief, sorrow or inaction, or we can get up and get on with the time we have left. When you think about it, there really is no choice. So I will get up and get on with life, and I will keep Cilla in my thoughts and honor her memory. For the rest of my days I will remember all of those who have been a significant part of my life be they pets or people. For now though I recall Captain, Mattie, Blondi, Rosie and now Cilla as those pets who provided me with another dimension of enjoyment.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Are We Just Stupid?

Detroit's economic affairs are being described in the media as kind of a ho hum affair. The automakers ask for financial help and then are ridiculed for flying to Washington in their private jets. The history of the automakers is not good, however they are not solely to blame for their predicament. Unions have hounded, badgered and out right held up the auto industry until the benefit package given to autoworkers is ridiculous in its scope. The American public takes no pity on the industry, and rightly so, that is the way of a market economy. Detroit fell into a trap after WWII when they allowed their quality to degrade to a point where they became easy prey to superior automobiles that appealed to the consumer's idea of spiffy.

Then a statement caught my eye in an article on CNN today. Here are the comments, I've cut them and pasted them as they appeared in the article. "If the GM board decided there was help on the way in early January, I'm sure they'd make an effort to preserve cash and get to that point," said Bob Schulz, Standard & Poor's senior auto credit analyst.Are we just goddamn stupid? What the hell kind of a statement is that from an S&P analyst nonetheless. I guess if GM feels there is no bailout they'll just spend their money and fall into the pit of financial doom waiting for us, the taxpayers, to bail them out.

First of all the guy making the statement, God, what can you say about him. I'd sure bet my money on his analysis. Secondly, everything the auto industry is doing right now is trying to blackmail Congress into a sweet deal. If they are hemorrhaging cash then they should stop the bleeding. How many cars produced this month are needed to be sold this month, probably zero. So, shut the operation down. There are contract provisions that extended supplemental pay to laid off employees, but at least stop the material consumption in making the product. You also won't litter the landscape with inventory that has marginal value. Yes, there are costs to shutting down. You typically don't save money, but you don't spend a bunch right now and at least live to fight another day when some rational thought can be put to what kind of bail out package might be best.

I still can't believe the statement made by Bob Schultz, what a fucking idiot.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Political Pay Back

Are we seeing what it cost Barack Obama to gain the Clinton support. Hillary was named Secretary of State, there is talk that Bill might be appointed to her term in the Senate, really? Now what did the election cost?

Turkeys Pay a Visit

November 30, 2008 Terry's father pays a visit for his daily fix of coffee. While sitting in the kitchen he suddenly startled us by yelling there is a flock of turkeys in the yard. Now I wasn't expecting the neighbors, so I thought something might be up. Sure enough a flock of 10 wild turkeys spent about a half an hour scouting our yard as a possible feasting site. I hope we passed.

Several years ago I saw a lone turkey just come into the yard and look around, then left. Last year two turkeys showed up and ate of the corn on the ground and looked around and left. I thought we were getting looked over. Now, a flock moved through. Our field provides roosting opportunity and heavy cover. Wouldn't that be something if they took up residence in our area.

See the attached video.