Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Weekend

When I bought this place two years ago it was still relatively brand new. The previous owner hadn't been in it long enough to do anything before the bank took over, after which it sat for eight months. And every room looked just like this:

White...
Sterile...




And blah.



I finally got to the last upstairs bedroom this weekend. Referred to as The Shop. This is where I kept all my tools, paint and what-not while I worked on things upstairs. It's last function was a transition room for Grayson.

It's not sterile-white anymore:






















The wall color is called "Museum", by Frazee paints. It's like a tan.

Border was Wife's idea.
I'm please with the result, and Wife is thrilled, so that means I win.




I'll be on vacation next week, so the closet, trim and base boards can wait til then.










I'd run the vacuum, clean the windows, and hang the curtains ... but that's women's work.

Friday, October 29, 2010

What You Don't Know Can Kill You

Man Dies Of Caffeine Overdose

Huh?

A British man died after poisoning himself with two spoonfuls of caffeine powder bought over the internet, local media reported Friday...

...He washed the powder down with an energy drink, and around 15 minutes later began sweating and vomiting blood. He later died at King’s Mill Hospital in Nottinghamshire, central England, the Nottingham Post reported.

Wow.
Nottingham Coroner Dr. Nigel Chapman said, "Caffeine is so freely available on the internet for £3.29, but it's so lethal if taken in the wrong dose, and here we see the consequence.
Seriously, it never occurred to me that caffeine could be lethal in large doses. Back in my less-informed youth I used to swallow lots of caffeine pills. (Not just 'me'. Most of my buddies did, too, so maybe we were normal.) I started somewhere around 9th grade, and didn't stop dosing til I was almost into my 20's

It was easily available. Any drug store or pharmacy department had pills for sale, and I bought pretty regular, always exceeding the maximum recommended dosage by a wide margin, and sometimes even wider than that.


We were always looking for a bigger/stronger pill. Count my lucky stars that we didn't have the internet back in the 80's, 'cause I would have been all into this potent shit like a fish in the ocean.

To me, overdoing it meant that I crashed from a high level of exhaustion. Experience telling me that sleep, when needed, would come whether I wanted it to or not, where ever I was at the moment, and no additional amount of caffeine was going to stop that...

... leading me to assume that a health-threatening overdose from the drug itself just wasn't a reality I had to think about.

I never thought it could kill.

Damn.
Was I wrong.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sports

This is why Americans prefer to watch football.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

It's Not What You Might Be Led To Think

I want to take over from where I left off in the comment section of the previous lead zeppelin post:

In regards to THIS article:

Wife-beating OK under sharia law, just don’t leave marks

According to a ruling by a Supreme Court in the United Arab Emirates, Islamic sharia law allows a man to “discipline” his wife and children so long as he doesn’t leave physical marks.

The judgment was made in the case of a man who slapped and kicked his daughter and slapped his wife. He injured them both slightly and left bruises on them both.


I don't know how the hell any form of physical discipline can be administered without leaving some kind of mark, however slight that mark may be. I'm sure that maybe it's possible for a skilled hand, but I'll remain skeptical for now.

The federal court in Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE, said that their bruises were evidence that the father went too far and abused his legal rights.

The Guardian.co.uk reported that in the case of the wife, it was the degree of severity that put the man in breach of the law. But his daughter was 23, and therefore too old to be disciplined by her father, the court said. He claimed he did not mean to harm either of them.

The Sharjah court of first instance fined the father for abuse. The decision was upheld by Sharjah's court of appeals but he appealed against the verdict at the federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi.

Please note: the husband/father in question was found to be in violation. Funny how this part didn't end up in the headline, because this is the element that matters the most, along with the statements of the courts and Islamic scholars:
Jihad Hashim Brown, head of research at the Tabah Foundation, said: "It's unlawful in sharia – if taken in its entirety – to injure one's wife. It's unlawful to insult the dignity of one's wife. That is if we look at the tradition as a whole: the Qur'an, the hadith and writings of Islamic jurists."
Under sharia law beating one’s wife is an option to prevent the breakdown of the family and should only be used as a substitute to resorting to the police. Love and respect, according to Dr. Jassim al-Shamsi, dean of the college of law at UAE University, are more important among husbands and wives than any discipline.

(emphasis mine)
Now, let me explain something, as it has been explained to me in the past by devout, strictly adherent Muslims:

In Islam, the man is charged with the obligation to attend to the protection, upkeep, and preservation of the family. It is he who must answer most strongly before God for any failings. So, it makes sense that any God-fearing man would not want to be found derelict in this duty on judgement day.
Just like it makes no sense to assign responsibility without authority, authority without effect makes no sense, either.
(Imagine being charged with a massive amount of responsibility, under threat of eternal damnation, and then being told that if something goes wrong you aren't allowed to do shit about it. Who would sign up for that job? Most importantly, what would be the state of society in general if nobody had responsibility for anything? Into this vacuum, steps the faith.)

What I see here, and in the words of the scholars, along with the explanations of Muslims I have known, is a tough line to walk.
It's not a perfect world, and there are few perfect people to pair into perfect marriages. No scholar or holy man can look into the crystal ball and reveal all the various combinations of issues that may arise, in many forms, in any of the households among the billions of individuals who reside within them.
By default, therefore, a man has some effectual authority...

... but not outside of the principles that are established, to quote again:
"It's unlawful in sharia – if taken in its entirety – to injure one's wife. It's unlawful to insult the dignity of one's wife. That is if we look at the tradition as a whole: the Qur'an, the hadith and writings of Islamic jurists."

Quite clearly, there is no carte blanche in Islam for wife beating.
Just as there isn't one in Christianity, despite that the Bible calls for women to submit to their husbands.
But it's still done, and various cultures throughout the world that claim any number of principle faiths contain it.

(From what I've seen, the Muslim men are as fearful of irate/displeased wives as any one of us are. As one tells me: 'Woman is Woman, no matter where she's from.')

What shocks me is how people will allow their understandings of Islam to be formed by inaccurate headlines or ignorant preachers with an agenda, but they would never allow a Jew or Hindu to inform the world about Christianity.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Spousal Discipline

According to a ruling by a Supreme Court in the United Arab Emirates, Islamic sharia law allows a man to “discipline” his wife and children so long as he doesn’t leave physical marks.

The commentators, up to and including that Pamela Gellar , are going to have a field day of their own with "The Muslims are coming... " and similar rantings, so I'm not going there any further than to reiterate that I believe Pamela Gellar to be a hate mongering bitch who calls for everybody else to fight Arabs in support of her Israeli homeland while safely ensconced behind her keyboard in New York.

OK, enough of that. Let's flip this around.
We will call it SHE-ria Law.

And this goes out to the women.
She'ria Law allows a woman to discipline her husband so long as she doesn't leave physical marks. O.K. Maybe a few marks, if it's a particularly repetitive offense.
Now, for discussion:
What insubordinate act annoys you the most?
What offenses should a husband be disciplined for?

Monday, October 18, 2010

I am staunchly opposed to the de-clawing of cats. It's cruel, painful, sacrilagous and just all out sucks.

But, after working with Grayson for two weeks, I can understand why some choose that route. I must've given half-pint of blood so far. This guy is brutal.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Vive la RĂ©sistance!

Pension reform, and raising the retirement age are still boiling issues among the French. We all know the story by now...

We are facing the same thing here in the private sector. The economic collapse has decimated IRA's, 401K's, pensions, housing values... and anything else that used to be cornerstone for the working guy's (or his wife's) retirement plans.

Our retirement ages are all rising, while those who work for the government remain protected at the expense of the rest.
Another element that rubs me raw: those responsible, the congressmen, senators, regulators aren't going to lose a thing, while the Wall Street chieftains, who've profited mightily, stay in their cocoon of government protected privilege, not missing any meals or mortgage payments.

And what is the American response? Lots of grumbling among ourselves, a Tea Party thing or another... but nothing is going to change for us. We, the people, have been duped. Used. Beat down.
Emotional resignation seems to be the national response. There needs to be more anger, but he political class has done a fairly good job at pointing fingers at 'the other guy', and enough people are buying it.

Yeah, it looks like the GOP, and those who tend toward it, are cleaning up a bit, tossing out some of their chaff. Besides the shortening of some political careers, I don't see any else becoming of it. Those tossed will just be back as lobbyists, anyway. And those who replace them will follow the same old game after a cycle or two.
So, really, nothing's gonna change, and I think only a fool would dare to believe otherwise...

We can take a lesson from the French. Sure, these present day French might be a little mild compared to their kin of two centuries ago, but at least they are showing some public anger.
Unlike us, who just take it. Hoping the economy will rebound, making my pension worth the $55/year that I'd negotiated (in a free market manner), instead of the $36/yr I've now been informed that I can expect.
That's a big hit. And somebody is responsible for what amounts to theft on a mass scale.
But it's an insider's game. The rest of us were never meant to score big through our honest labors and patient planning. Nope. We are just the slaves on the plantation, receiving what the 'others' haven't already taken for themselves.

In a proper, free market system, the failed boys of AIG, et al, would be living in trailers and holding cardboard signs at on-ramps. But they aren't.
Nobody whose charged with administering the government should be above the law. Nor above the laws of economics and fair play.

The people responsible for this will not be paying. They will continue to live very well, being sheltered from the negative results of their actions.

Maybe it's time we revive an older French practice. Storm the government buildings. Drag those motherfuckers, screaming, into the streets. Shove their crooked asses into the guillotines and be done with them.

A silly minded Tea Party won't solve anything.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

And evidently, Chilean miners don't get the cute, skinny chicks.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sixty-some days without nookie, or a bath. Their wives may not be so happy to see them, after all.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Seattle: The Good

OK, I've been back for over a week and it's time to wrap this chapter up:

In the University District is little place called A Taste of Chicago. He advertises Chicago sports teams, and the presence of, most importantly to me, televised Bears games. That's where I was Monday night, only to find his A/V equipment is limited to a 20" analog sitting on a shelf behind the bar counter.
To be fair to the guy, who I spent a few minutes talking to, he hasn't been open very long, but by this time next year he plans on having several wide screens mounted on the walls, and intends to be the headquarters of Chicago sports fans in Seattle. He's also still trying to find a distributor to supply him with Old Style beer.

So seeing the game at his place turned into a bust, but while there I ordered a Chicago Beef sandwich. I've had them outside of Chicago before, and they almost always suck. This one is a major exception. He serves an authentic Chicago Beef. The real thing. I swear it.
Next time I visit, this place is a must stop.

As sports bars go, the Rat and Raven across the street has the equipment, wasn't too interested in turning it on, and drew very few spectators anyway. The bartender didn't seem all that interested in serving any beer, either. Makes me wonder why they bother at all, but at least I got to watch the Bears allow the Packers to beat themselves.

Overall, despite my complaints about the crowded streets, getting around town isn't that difficult. Highway traffic moves at a reasonable pace, and the exits are numbered. As long as you know your exit, you can't get lost. Rush hour isn't 1/10th of what I endure everyday living SoCal. Drivers don't go slow, but are not nearly as aggressive as I'm used to. This gave me an edge over them, much like my experience in the Twin Cities.

One final highlight: Samarai Ramen. Brian, check them out. The Tonkotsu is pretty good. They have a location in the U District, and another one downtown around the corner, but in the same building, as the large Asian market. The downtown location is very small, but I liked the atmosphere.

Next time, I'll have to spend more eating my way through Seattle, and less time looking for parking.
They offer a variety of broths, and maybe four or five different noodles.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Seattle: The Bad

Moving along to Chapter Two of Gino's Seattle Adventure:

You're never more than block from another coffee house, but gas stations seem to be few and far between. Maybe it was the district I was in?

The price of groceries would get the stores shut down in SoCal. I've never paid $1.99 for a can of tomato sauce before, or $5.99 for a pound of Italian sausage. It's crazy. Around here, you would looking at a closer to $1.00 for one, and never more than $4.59 (and usually much lower) for the other. And we have more shit to choose from,too.

Pacific Northwest Asians drive as poorly as the Asians in SoCal.

A California driver's license is insufficient identification to buy beer at Target. Next time, the daughter will not convince me to renege on my boycott. I swear it.

Does everything have to have an organic counterpart?

Yeah, it's a short list. There's not that much wrong with the place.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Seattle:The Ugly

First up: the color Grey. It's everywhere you are. The sky is grey. The buildings are grey. The walls are grey. Everything, it seems, even the stuff that is not grey, is still grey. I found the city kinda depressing, over all.
And there's no escape:Taking a drive, I was flanked by concrete walls of grey, connecting to grey underpasses, only to emerge among grey ribbons of concrete overpasses.

To be fair, I spent most, if not all, of my time downtown, or close to downtown, where even when the sun had broken through the cloud cover, the tall buildings cast long shadows so that even the sunlight was grey.


You'd think with such a prominent gay population, they'd find a way to spruce up the place. Some decor here. Splash of color there. Come on, Seattle! Can't you get a little queer-eye action going on?

The only thing rarer than sunlight is parking. If you find a spot, better read the posted signs very carefully, and then read them again. Having your car towed will cost you $108.80. I happen to know this, thank you.
Salt is poured into the wound with the parking ticket ($42, not included), they will hand you when you arrive to get your car back. Bastards.

Had a shitty end to what started out as a very pleasant Tuesday.
So, I go to the clinic to pick up Grayson after his denutting, and the girl hands me this 'patient' form to fill out. I fill out my name, address and phone number, hand her back the form along with $40 and she hands the form back, asking me to complete it.

I had left blank the sections asking for my driver's license, email address, employer's name and address and phone number, and Social Security numbers. I told that I wouldn't be providing that info to them, and that I probably gave them too much already. Sorry.

She starts to hesitate, so I jump back in and tell her they can take the cash for services rendered, or not, but the cat was paid for, it's mine, and I'll be taking him home with me now.

They handed over the cat, like I knew they would.

Just a reminder: Too often various forms we are required to fill out for the most mundane things ask for information that they have no right to demand.
Don't give it to them.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ugh!

They should have pulled Cutler after the first quarter, and then marched the O-Line out for their execution.
Dump Collins. I don't want to see him in a Bears jersey ever again. What the hell were they thinking with Hanie waiting in the wings? He's had enough time to put on his big-boy pants, and they should have used him, instead.

Personally, I think Cutler was having vision problems from the start. Maybe his diabetes was acting up? I don't know. But it wasn't good.

Grayson

This one.
"Whew. He's not supposed to be here, but I lost his card. Too sweet to not give him more time."
You lost his card?
"Sometimes I can get away with it." (She winks)
Oh, I got ya.
"Yup, Hon. It's a rescue."


He comes home Monday.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Portland!

There are few things I enjoy better than being on the road, and I'll say it again: that stretch of I-5, from Redding, through northern California on into Oregon up to the city of Eugene has got to be the best day's ride there is anywhere.

Broad vistas, banked turns,and wide lanes flanked with large trees and idyllic farms for as far as the eye could see. It's cool shit that I recommend to anybody. The sucks part, for me anyway, is that I have to drive 600 miles through the wasteland of California's Central Valley to get there.

The Central Valley possesses a unique beauty of it own, but after the initial 100 miles of rocks and row crops, straight and flat, it all starts to look the same. And much of it has been turned into a dust bowl now.

I left the house at 5a.m., intending to break for the nite somewhere near Medford,OR, but it didn't happen that way. Feeling too good, with way too much daylight ahead of me, I motored on, eventually stopping in Portland at around 8:30. By that time, I'd had enough, and with 1100 miles behind me, my longest day ever, I figured it was time. And I was in no mood to cross any of Portland's frighteningly high bridges,either.

Portland:

  • Initial reaction: can't wait to get out of here. The streets are narrow and cramped. Everything is too close together. Nowhere to park. All in all... a shit hole.
  • In the morning, after seeing the place in daylight, I was able to recognise a certain charm to the place. But still a shit hole.
  • Met with kr and her brood at around noon. Cute kids, and very polite. Had a great visit and was glad we met.
  • After a few hours in town, I started to understand why people who grew up in Portland wouldn't be able to call anyplace else 'home'. It's unusual, yeah even freakish, but the people on the street seem friendly and welcoming.
  • Personal grooming means something entirely different in Portland, with the dress code amounting to whatever would get you arrested or beat up in Texas (outside of Austin).
  • Nobody really has a functioning lawn, although there is a space for one. The way 95% of the homes are (un)landscaped would draw fines in Southern California.
  • Very few roses are grown in The City Of...
  • But it's a fine place to get around on a bicycle,

I took another brief stop in Portland on the return trip. Well, it was supposed to brief. kr showed me the way to the world famous, OK, maybe only 'Travel Channel famous', Voo Doo Donuts. This place is highly over rated. kr advised me that others have claimed the maple-bacon donut as a religious experience. So I tried one. Basically, it's an unremarkable maple bar with two pieces of crispy bacon on top. You could do that at home. Unless atheism is a religion, I didn't get anything out of it.

And, wouldn't ya know it, I got lost on the way to the interstate and ended up taking another less intentional tour of the city. Two Hours of Lost. By the time I found the escape route, I was almost liking the place. It's a sweet city. Unusual and bizarre. Tight and cramped. Crowded. But cool in it's own way.

Friday, October 1, 2010