Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Erykah Badu Strips in Daeley Plaza for Window Seat Video

I just watched new video Window Seat from Erykah Badu after I'd read an article on CNN.com about how controversial it was.  The video is filmed handy cam style as she walks down the sidewalk of Daeley Plaza in Dallas and takes off all of her clothes.  This was not a closed set, there were tourists (including families with children) all around as she did her thing.

I respect her as an artist for making a statement against Group Think while making a video for her music.  The idea of making decisions for yourself, speaking out about them and not always following the crowd is something that should be instilled in every child...not the utter indoctrination we have in the typical family around the world.  Deciding where your moral compass points and what values to uphold should not be mandated by anyone...it's within each of us to find our own.  That said, it is also hard to separate your own thoughts from those of your parents, teachers, celebrities whom you are surrounded by.  What is original? Or what have you decided should be important because someone important to you said it?

In no way am I offended by her nudity around children.  I think it is a taboo that hurts kids in the long run.  I don't think we should be in a nudist colony, but I certainly think people and kids especially should be comfortable in their own skin.  They should also see the beauty in real people and the power and majesty of mechanics of our own bodies and not just what Hollywood portrays. 

I do think though that people forget that respecting an individual goes both ways.  There is a fine line between respecting the views of your fellow people and censorship.  Freedom of speech and expression is a right that we all have.  There is courage also in knowing when your words or actions will hinder more than forward progress.  Just because you can say or do it, doesn't mean you should or there is a positive need for it.  Group Think is not always wrong.  The idea that the majority are sheep or lemmings fits many times.  But just because you have an independent thought doesn't mean those who oppose it are wrong for their theory.  Sometimes you need to reevaluate your own opposition, maybe you aren't as progressive as the rest.  But like Erykah, have the courage of your convictions if you do think differently. 

I think what Erykah Badu did here sparked conversation which should ultimately be the goal of controversy working toward change.  I wouldn't have had courage to strip naked and stroll through Dallas for my cause!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Ricky Martin Comes Out of the Closet

Ricky Martin has come out of the closet!

I'm proud of him for having the courage to come out publicly.  I feel bad for him that everyone felt the need to hound him about it from the get go.  Could you imagine an interview with a straight person that posed the question..."so you like to screw chick, man?"  No one even thinks twice about it...everyone must be straight.  Unless you're an attractive effeminate man or a less than effeminate woman or even better..a person of indeterminate gender.  Then you've made the straight in the room uncomfortable because of the POSSIBILITY.   It seems to be the unknown that freaks people out.  It like a fear or worry that they themselves might have something in common with or like the person and want to make sure they aren't considered homosexual by association. 

There are the Eltons, Ellens, and Rosies of the world that everyone goes...no joke you're gay.  Each coming out was no biggie (to outsiders, I'm sure it was a huge decision for them), but if someone won't confirm their homosexuality it's like a media frenzy.  Clay Aiken gets grouped in to this...confirmation was a "no joke" moment, but I'll bet his life was hell for awhile when that was the only question people were asking. 

My homophobic friends and family would have a cow reading this but oh well:  I think we should stop classifying people as gay or straight...just like race...we are all still people, sharing the same planet.  I get to openly talk about my wife with no worry of awkwardness.  They should get to openly talk about their same sex spouses/significant other with zero worry about offending the other person. 

Good on you Ricky!

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

Last year I read the Twilight Series aloud to my wife and daughter.  I'd never read any book above Dr. Seuss or Shel Silverstein level (Bible aside) aloud.  It was a trip keeping voices straight in my head, let alone reading just enough ahead to get the right one out with the flow of dialog...it's not like a play, they don't have the character labeled for you.  I felt bad because Bella got my voice because I was going to be reading her most often and frankly as a go to voice, your own works out a little easier.  I don't think it hurt my wife's enjoyment any, though it was probably weird hearing the thoughts of a 17-year-old girl coming from her husband's lips.  Alice was probably my favorite all things said, she had such a lilt to her voice that it was comical, yet distinctive when it was her turn.  By the time the 4th book introduced a bazillion new characters, the voices got a little muddled.  (I have my issues with the stories but that could take a month's worth of blogs to dissect. I'll give Stephanie Meyer this, her writing improved a little after the first book.  Seriously, try reading that EVERY character MURMURED, MUTTERED OR MUMBLED everything.  Those are three words that do not flow out of the mouth every minute or so with any ease.)

So when I moved on to Gregor the Overlander, it was nice to have a new set of voices to play with...once again, a little girl voice was my favorite.  Boots was our comic relief.  The series was a bit strained for me to continue, so I stopped after a few chapters of the second book...to my wife's disliking.  After all, she'd bought it for me and I wasn't really interested in continuing it. 

I'd gotten to where I enjoyed this non-TV time with the family.  It is also preparing me for when my kids are older and I am reading real books and not ones involving belly buttons as the central character.  I tried reading a James Michener book aloud.  Poland turned out to be a craptastic failure as a read-aloud-book!  So we went back to kiddie land.  After all, the stories were lighter and therefore could be read aloud with less complications. 

We picked up Percy Jackson and the Olympians book one, the Lightening Thief.  We enjoy Magical and Fantasy stories already plus the mythology side made us remember the stories from school that we loved.  All in all a great genre for us to play with.  The books are an easy read for me, to read aloud I mean.  We just wrapped up book two, The Sea of Monsters.  If you haven't read or heard of these books, check em out.  Basically the Gods of Mount Olympus never left they've just traveled with the movement of Western Civilization.  The heroes of myth and legend are the children of these gods and they are still making heroes today.  Percy is one such hero.  He finds himself in them middle of a monumental power struggle and like any good hero, he sets out on quests to try and set things right.

So, I'm now invested in these characters and am excited to see the movie they made of the first one.  I'm not one of those people who cannot separate the medium of film from literature, so I know there will be differences.  I've just looked at the cast from the movie this evening though and am having a little trepidation about their success in translating it to the screen.  I can tell from the previews they've taken liberties with how we discover somethings which I'm OK with given I thought they strung it out a tad too long in the book...I know it's for kids, but they're usually sharper than we are, no?  But four characters were "oh really" moments for me as I scrolled through IMDB's cast list.  Athena and her daughter Annabeth were supposed to be blonds and well...they are definitely Greek in the film...no biggie.  Grover the satyr as a black kid, didn't picture it, but it works.

Let me tell you, I love me some Uma Thurman, but she was SOOOOO not what I imagined for Medusa.  The olive skinned beauty with the sultry Eartha Kitt voice I'd imagined was Shohreh Aghdashloo (from House of Sand and Fog and loads of other things).  I was so disappointed that my meager casting abilities in my head hadn't been heard in Hollywood.

Of course I'll still be watching and of course I'll still get caught up in the story and not care again about what they've done to a series I've grown to love...well maybe.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lights Out for Earth Hour

http://www.myearthhour.org/


The one thing we all have in common around the world is our planet.  Take an hour out of your day to join the rest of us and show your support for Earth.  Turn your lights off for one hour at 8:30 pm local time.  Half the world has already participated...min is in less than 4 hours.  I just joined the website a few moments ago.  Check out the page, there are some great shots of cities around the planet participating...literally the lights are off in the streets and skyscrapers.  Global movements are difficult to organize, but grand when they can be pulled off.  This all began in Australia in 2007... I remember Google's main page going black that year and reading up about it.  We've participated in our small way every year since.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Teleportation or Hall Monitors

Let's pretend for a moment we are in a Hollywood movie ala John Hughes. Mega crisis and you must come up with a solution. There are only two possible choices. One is entirely implausible, the other is wholly impossible to arrange in the allotted time frame.

Today's crisis is ridiculous traffic caused by retards on the road. I'm not going into the ins and outs of Austinites lack of driving ability or balls behind the wheel. Trust me though, Austin is a tenth the size of LA and I'd choose LA's traffic any day over Austin.

The two choices for solving the problem are as follows. Someone needs to invent teleportation. Eliminate car/bus/plane/ship emissions and congestion altogether. Because Gene Rodenberry failed us all by not leaving exacting detail on how to accomplish this before the Star Trek god passed away, we must find an alternative. That leaves the only plausible option Roadway "Hall Monitors." Because actually making people better drivers is a laughable option. More so is having police officers do something other than write speeding tickets...I detest what has become of to Serve and Protect. Strictly Law Enforcement my ass...if it doesn't generate revenue for the city/county/state from the lowest hanging fruit, they can't be bothered.

So onward with my Roadway Hall Monitors. I remember being able to call on people who littered back in the day. I think they got a ticket mailed to them, but I'm not sure of the specifics. So I'd like to carry that thought over into civilians policing the roads. We all witness absurdly bad driving and law breaking and wish there was a cop around to catch the idiot/jerk. There of course never is...never a lonely radar gun.

I think we should either utilize the voice recognition systems in car computer systems or have a quick dial number for cell phones. Yes, I see the irony of using a cell phone to report bad drivers...leave me alone! Maybe have 5 red light runs reported by a civilian have your license suspended by a month. Have 2 driving straight from a right turn only lane (cutting off dozens of people who have waited through 8 lights to drive straight) be accompanied by 3 months of community service at a homeless shelter. And failure to yield causing an accident and then continuing on as if you did nothing wrong bear a penalty including but not limited to a public flogging.

Just throwing out ideas on the fly here, but if I sit down and think about all the incredibly stupid/deadly things people do this blog could go on for miles. Be glad I'm growing bored with typing and ready for bed. Now if only our movie could have an incredibly happy ending where the genius who came up with the incredible idea sees it successfully fulfilled and gets to mug down with the hottie, but likeable leading lady.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Baby Brain

We went in for our 24 week ultrasound today.  We had to arrange a baby sitter because it was a looong appointment.  First, we arrive at the sitters house and SHE'S NOT THERE!!!!!!!!  I called her husband to try to track her down and he wasn't answering.  One cardinal rule of surviving pregnancy as a husband is to keep the mother's blood pressure from sky rocketing.  This situation was NOT helping.  25 minutes later, baby is safely with the sitter and we are on our way, late, to the appointment. 

Stress aside, we made it!  We got to see all the bits and pieces developing en utero.  All fingers and toes are accounted for.  All organs appear to be in their proper places and in full functioning order as well.  Happiness is knowing thus far you little boy is coming along nicely.

Unhappiness is having your wife tell you she's unsure about the name you two have settled on. SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT!

Back to the drawing board, I guess.  I'm still pulling for Finnegan Garrett or Declan Rhys (in that order).  She keeps trying to ram Kellan down my throat.  I couldn't name a child Kellan, knowing full and well she wouldn't have known about the name if Twilight didn't exist.  Kellan is a great looking guy and is an actor...notice that really wasn't a compliment on his abilities.  I just don't want my child to be named after a Mormon Vampire Jock. 

I've been trolling http://babynamesworld.parentsconnect.com/boys-names.html for ideas.  Really not where I wanted to be at this point.  I've already told everyone my son's name is Finn. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I'm "That Guy" - Blue Tooth Edition

We all know "That Guy."  That guy who does something that just irritates us.  That guy who may or may not be aware of his actions.  That guy who may or may not know his actions are annoying.  That guy who, if he doesn't change his actions, could become a victim of second degree murder in the blink of an eye.  In case you aren't a Law & Order junkie, second degree murder is what you hear referred to as a "crime of passion/rage."

Today's "That Guy" is "Talking on the Blue Tooth while out in Public" Guy.  For the past 10 years they have been slowly building in numbers across the nation.  This little ear piece that people wear that transmits their cell phone conversation directly into their ear.  It also picks up their voice as if they were speaking directly into the phone.  I remember back in the day when these things were attached via cord to the cell phone on the hip.  Now they are completely cord free and there isn't a separate piece for the mic.  All in one device with mic and speaker at your ear/jaw line.

Texas made it illegal to drive and talk on a cell phone awhile back.  Texting while driving was banned even before that.  This means that people have three options.  Talk on the phone while driving and risk a ticket or worse, killing someone because they aren't paying attention.  Wait until you've arrived at your destination to take or make a phone call...hmmm, pretty sure that's what we did just 15 years ago.  Or you can use a blue tooth device to allow "hands free" phone usage.  Any self respecting business person who travels at all is a fan of option number three. 

A coworker caught me sitting in the parking lot of the restaurant we were meeting at wrapping up a phone call via blue tooth a few months back.  She dogged me hard for being one of THOSE blue tooth people.  I reminded her of the new law and she just gave me a dirty look. 

They are THOSE people because we've all seen the douche bag walking around talking on one.  They appear to be trying to be cool.  At the very least, they are supremely lazy or are afraid to risk tennis elbow by holding the phone to their ear.  Today, I was that douche bag. 

I had back to back conference calls and needed to hang holiday hours signs for Easter at all of my stores.  If I didn't do both at the same time I wouldn't have gotten it done.  So in the first 4 stores I stopped by today, I walked in with my Blue Tooth on my ear.  I was driving and would stop, get the stuff together, step out of the car with my phone on my hip (yeah, "that guy" too) and hang the signs in the window.  Each store my operators would try to talk and I'd add to the douche baggery by pointing to my ear and mouthing "sorry."  I didn't even bother putting the conference on mute at most, I just walked in and saw their look of confusion/disappointment as I walked back out the door.

I'm not "That Guy" Blue Tooth, make you think they are talking directly to you and just as you start to talk back to them you realize they are on their ear phone.  I always feel retarded, like I've done the stupid thing for thinking they'd be talking to me!  They're the douche bag on their blue tooth in public! 

I am however...."That Guy" Blue Tooth Edition, you're not important enough to have my full or even partial attention, because the little people in my ear get it all, douche bag. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Why Does My Cat's Pee Smell Like Curry?

My cat Jack has been in our family for over seven years!  That's almost as long as I've been with my wife.  That's freaking commitment!  We've had our ups and downs like any relationship (back to the cat, that sentence would have been less polite otherwise).  He has anxiety issues (I'll spare you an entire blog of my cat's psychological history).

This weekend a friend of mine was in town and stayed the night.  I closed all the bedroom doors, including the office that night to make it easy for my friend to find the bathroom and the way back to his room in the middle of the night.  OK, so I'm a little neurotic when I have house guests.  But we were drinking and I wanted to make it as easy as possible.  Whatever!
Jack was locked in his room slash my office for a long time...probably 12 hours or so.  The thing I love about cats is that aside from needing me to refill their water and food, they are self sufficient.  He has a litter box...not like a dog that has to be walked or he'll trash your house!  Whoops.  I heard him frantically pawing at the office door in the middle of the night, but I was drunk and sleepy, so I ignored him.  He showed me!  Tina walked into the office and let him out the next day and came back and said "you have to clean that up!"  She looks at my friend and says, you know a perk of being pregnant is not having to clean up cat shit.

Damn it Jack!  In case you didn't know, cats are vindictive...kinda like women.  He punished me by climbing up on top of my brief case and taking a massive crap.  This was no easy task either, it was propped up against the shredder so he had to back his ass up onto the bag to make sure the right angle was maintained to keep the turds from rolling right back down onto the floor.  Yeah, probably should have warned you that this was going to get gruesome ahead of time.  I'd apologize but, you're the one who clicked on a post about cat pee smelling like curry!  OK, so I cleaned it up and life went on.

The next day, I was working in the office and Tina comes in and says, OMG, it smells like cat pee in this room.  Not sure how I hadn't noticed it, but i have my suspicions...not prepared for that kind of TMI just yet!  So later that day, another friend stops by and I threw on a hat to run outside to get something for her out of my car.  I suddenly was enveloped in curry...straight yellow curry in a freaking can, not simmering aromatics, just overwhelmingly, stereotypically, Indian.  The smell grew stronger as I left the house and outside was just overwhelming.  I came back and ask our friend if she smelled it and she gave me a look like...you mean cat piss? Yes, yes I do!  But she only shook her head, no!

Tina said the office still smelled like cat pee, so she lit a candle and told me to find it and clean it.  I didn't, but a revelation hit me in the middle of the night.  That little shit peed on my hat!  I woke up and grabbed it and walked it straight to my wife and said, smell this, does it smell like cat pee?  I thought she was going to punch me in the face because yes, oh god yes, it does!  I tossed the hat in the garage.

Vindictive, poop on my bag, pee on my hat, jerk.  But why does it smell like curry to me?  That's just weird.   I switched him to an organic cat food last month, so I'm thinking it must just have some herbs and spices that have altered his system...or I'm freaking nuts and am associating cat pee with some of my favorite food in some psychological break of my own.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Wooden Sushi Set w/ Realistic Chopping Sound

I love shopping for toys!  My daughter is 17 months old and loves books and anything that stacks, nests in something else or plays music.  Any smaller toys have shed their original purpose though, they all go into an old Kleenex box or baby wipes container or bucket or other type of container she can come up with.  She's been playing this game since she was 9 months old.  Then, she took a pink reusable water container and would cram it full of wooden or plastic blocks, letters and puzzle pieces.  Yesterday she removed all of the wipes from a reusable travel sized container and replaced them with the crayons from her kids menu.  No clue what skill it's teaching her...she still only gets one out of 20 shapes into that blue and red ball thingy!

I found this the other day and loved it.  The store had tons of "rustic toys." They had knitted foods like fruit, baked goods, ice cream cones, etc.  My favorite of those were the grapes and the ice cream cones...the pretzel looked like dog poop.  They also had an entire section of wooden food kits.  Grill shish ka bobs, hamburger fixin's etc.  Then I spotted this:

That's what I'm talking about!  Make them serve you sushi at the next freaking tea party!  But what is a realistic chopping sound?  Are we talking wood clicking together?  Cause I'm pretty sure that means the cat and mouse puzzle she has also comes with realistic chopping sounds.  Wait, is that a cleaver...awesome!?! 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Democrats' Victory, Obamacare Passes

I DO NOT KNOW WHAT THE HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL CONTAINS. Every news station says something different. I know my gut tells me it shouldn't have gone down this way. My ignorance has allowed me to understand things very superficially, just like the people in #17 (you'll understand that reference in a second) So without further ado, here are my 20 steps to making Health Care Reform:
1.) Bill was written. 2.) Obama Liked it. 3.) Every democrat and minority loves it because Obama wants it. 4.) Senate gets it. 5.) No one Reads it. 6.) Everyone Hates it. 7.) No one will sit and come up with a solution using ideas from a large roundtable of experts; the bill can be amended, but DO NOT SCRAP THE BILL AND START OVER. 8.) Obama keeps saying he has nothing to do with the bill...don't hate it because you hate me! 9.) Senate Passes it. 10.) Republicans freak out. 11.) Democrats continue talking trash. 12.) Republicans talk trash back. 13.) Democrats and Republicans are in the same situation as always...ALL PARTIES ARE ILLINFORMED AND ONLY AGREE THAT THE OTHER IS OBVIOUSLY WRONG. 14.) Hollow threats about Democrats passing the bill by shady means send Republicans in a tizzy. 15.) Politicians take time off to make up for the extra long weekend they are going to have to work. 16.) Bill passes House. 17.) Every famous person from Sports Figures, Actors, Musicians, Journalists, Media Whores to Politicians tout what a great victory and step forward for America! 18.) None of the people in # 17 including those who passed the bill know what the fuck it's about and none will actually have to use it. 19.) American still has no clue what just happened. 20.) Martinis and Champagne are being drank by the gallons in DC and Hollywood!
If it fails Republicans will blame Democrats for shoving it down our throats and Democrats will blame Republicans for not helping make it better. I do know that Health Care workers don't want it and Lawyers do. That, my friends is, a bad omen. I've also heard about a BUNCH of people who will still be left out from the bill. Guess I'm going to have to borrow one of the hundreds of unread copies of the bill from the members of congress who blindly passed or rejected the bill to find out for myself what's coming.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Death at a Funeral


A couple years ago I watched an absolutely hilarious movie called Death at a Funeral. Brief synopsis...a family's patriarch dies and an assorted group of people in funny situations come to his funeral. A midget (Peter Dinklage) arrives and in the midst of utter chaos involving attempted/accidental murder and accidental drug use among other funny situations, drops a bombshell about he and the father having a gay affair. My wife and I loved the movie. Oddly enough, it's not the only funeral related comedy (really, it's not unique) we love...Four Weddings and a Funeral and Eulogy were AWESOME TOO!

I'm watching a trailer for a film this evening and I kept going "they totally ripped that off of Death at a Funeral" or "wow, straight out of Death at a Funeral!" Suddenly Peter Dinklage appears and drops the gay midget bombshell. WTF? This is SOOOO Death at a Funeral. Then the title appears and it is Death at a Funeral. They redid the movie...two years later. The difference...aside from a slew of huge stars including Danny Glover, Chris Rock, Luke Wilson, Martin Lawrence, Zoe Saldana, James Marsden, Tracy Morgan and probably a ton of others I'm missing, is they've flipped it from a bunch of white Brits to a bunch of Black Americans.

OK, I get it, it was an Indy Brit Black Comedy and even though it was ABSOLUTE GENIUS, it probably didn't get the blockbuster $$$ they were looking for. So now it's a Black American Comedy. Notice the placement of those adjectives. May be subtle...I hope I'm mistaken...but the original was hilarious in the "I shouldn't be laughing" way...please don't let this one be "dumbed down for America funny."

If you've never seen the original...seriously came out in 2007...pick it up and enjoy. It was also directed by Frank Oz who is fantastic and had a naked Alan Tudyk whom I love. k I'll definitely Netflix the new one when it is available and reserve the rest of my judgment for then.

Friday, March 19, 2010

SXSW - Black Queen Speaks

I'm a bad Austinite!  During the chaos and excitement that is South by Southwest, I usually only see a band or two play.  I've never paid for the wristbands or badges, let alone taken off work for it.  But really, it's also fun to just pick a random place to go have a few drinks and watch a free show.  IT'S WHAT WE DO HERE IN AUSTIN!  I have to be honest too, in the last 5 years, aside from watching a friend's band play, I couldn't tell you the name of one band I've listened to.  My Rock-n-Rolla friends would give me the look of disappointed disbelief right now.

Whatever though, I support my friends.  Music is everywhere.  I'd go insane trying to "map out a band list and venue route."  So another friend is in town playing Texas Rockfest this weekend and I'm taking it one step further...I'll promote him on a blog that doesn't even get read! 

Black Queen Speaks is a band that will, in the words of it's lead singer, "ROCK YOUR FACE OFF!"  To steal another fantastic comparison for their music.  There are bands that sing about love who try to get into a girls' pants.  Then there is BQS who balls-to-the-wall rock out with real soul who get into girls' pants.

Check out their page http://www.blackqueenspeaks.com/ but more importantly if you're in beautiful ATX today, March 19th, or tomorrow March 20th come hang out with the band. On the 19th they will be playing @ Malaia @ 10pm. On the 20th the guys will be on an outside stage on the corner of 7th & Neches @ 2pm.

Money Rant Vol. 3 - Foreclosures

Continuing my griping about people who have the ability to own a home that shouldn't while I cannot.

Today's subspecies of money abusers who confoundingly come out unscathed are Mortgage Foreclosers.

Losing your home has to be a humiliating experience.  So I'd like to compare situations.  I rent a home.  I pay rent the first of the month, I get to live there that month.  Assuming the status quo doesn't change, you live there as long as your lease term and possibly longer if all parties agree.  You own a home.  You pay your mortgage you get to live there.  You keep paying your mortgage you get to keep living there until you pay the whole thing off.
Here is where reality differs for these two scenarios.  I don't pay my rent, I have to move out before the end of the month.  You don't pay your mortgage, you get to live there for an additional 6 months before they threaten to foreclose on your loan, thus taking your home and thus making you move out by YEAR'S end. 

My old boss moved to town and foreclosed on his old home because he hadn't paid his mortgage for 6 months supposedly because he was moving here on a relo package.  He arrives and purchases a new home here.  He blames our company for messing up his relo package and therefore we are the reason for the foreclosure.  New home now though and guess what?  He didn't pay his mortgage for over 6 months before they threatened foreclosure.  He moved out to a rental before they reported anything.  He kept the home and was fighting the foreclosure for 6 more months.  A realtor comes along who says he can sell the home.  The bank says OK.  He has yet to pay his mortgage in a year.  He now doesn't have to pay his mortgage because they are possibly going to recoup their losses if it sells. 

Off specific topic, but still proving how the system works for these types of low lifes:  He paid his first month's rent, but the guy who owned the home lived in a different state.  He suspected the guy was being foreclosed on, so he stopped paying rent.  He began doing some unethical crap to get out of the unmanaged lease without paying more than his deposit and initial month's rent. 

So if you're following this chain of events, this jerk lived in three different mini-mansions for 24 months and only paid for 3 months.  The next place he moved into he did a real number on that would be a whole blog of it's own.

So guess what.  Two official foreclosures are on his report and he has a bankruptcy in his past.  This vile being has excellent credit right now.  According to him there are new laws in place that foreclosures cannot be deemed negative after 2 years.  First foreclosure is over that time frame.  He's looking for a new home to purchase because his wife doesn't want to rent any longer.  Sellers are desperate enough to overlook the "trouble" he recently had and are going to sell to him again because their combined salaries are five times what mine is.  For the love of all things holy, what Twilight Zone episode is this?

How can you screw over so many people and have them falling over themselves to have you screw them over again?  Statistically he will not screw them over because he knows he'll never get another chance.  Yet, because I'm unknown to them, they aren't willing to risk it at all.  The probability of me foreclosing is greater because I've never done it before.  You have got to be joking.  I hate scam artists.  They keep getting what they want and the rest of us get punished because of it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Money Rant Vol. 2 - Wellfare/Section 8

Continuing my rant about money issues today. I can't buy a house, but lots of folks who shouldn't can! Offenders on the top of my list today are folks on Welfare.

I understand there are circumstances where a woman has no job, way to many kids and a deadbeat baby daddy who won't pay child support. I think that about sums up the only possibility I find acceptable. Social Security and Disability do not apply to this conversation.

Section 8 is government-subsidized housing. Meaning, the guvmint took an area of town, or neighborhood and decided the cost must be slashed...Crazy Eddie's Outlet Furniture style.

Section 8 rental and section 8 home ownership should be separate entities. Rent for Welfare, Own for working adults that have too many kids and a deadbeat baby daddy.

If we as taxpayers have to support your ass, you do not get to own property. This is cut and dry in my mind. If you don't have a job and cannot support your own family, you should not be able to buy a home with the government discount.

I'm not putting a ton of thought or research into this one because I will just get angrier and angrier with the people who abuse the system to get free shit on my dime.

Take care of your family. Work for a living. If you still need assistance, fine. You don't get to be a total slacker ass druggie and have me help you out with your homeownership while I'm still paying rent and not a mortgage.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I pinched my wife this morning.  She of course yelped and slapped and then it hit her..."I'm not wearing any green am I?"  I just grinned.

We are a red headed family.  I love St. Paddy's Day!  I'm not Irish, but I pretend for this lovely day.  My wife has Irish blood in her...so that pinch meant more to her than me!
Get out and drink some green beer, have some Irish whiskey...hell, have an Irish Car Bomb (Guinness with a shot of Jameson dropped in it...tasty).

Sport your green...Irish or not.

Sláinte!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Money Rant Vol. 1 - Bankruptcy

The next few days I will be ranting about money. It is an issue in everyone's lives...including the rich; just in a different way...everyone wants their money for charity instead of bills. Why bother, right? Well, my credit score sucks because of stupid decisions I made when I was young and decisions I've made since. I want to buy a home, but can't and frankly, I'd like to rant about those who still can even though they should be the scourge of the world and not me!

First people on the stage awaiting my rotten tomatoes are BANKRUPTCY filers.

There are 5 reasons I know of that people file for bankruptcy most often...all of which have one underlying cause...a person made a decision and now refuses to accept the consequences.

Reason #1, business failure. You're living the American Dream. The products are flying off the shelf or your services are being tapped from every direction. Life is good...at least you think. Something catastrophic happens. An employee sues your ass off after an accident. Maybe one of your vendors screwed you over and your product required a huge recall, crushing your reputation and thus crippling your revenue stream. Maybe you are just trying to sell the wrong product to the wrong set of clients (think Patagonia Retailer in Jamaica). At some point though, your business is worthless and you owe more money to everyone and their dog than you could make in a lifetime.

This sucks, but that's what insurances are for. Change your company if it isn't working. Captains go down with sinking ships...but real entrepreneurs make lemonade when life gives them lemons. Neither loose metaphor files for bankruptcy. Do not just bail out on your debts.

Reason #2, poor investment decisions. Whether you got greedy and triple refinanced your house, banking on that ever elusive windfall, or just got suckered by a ponzi scheme, you still made a decision to invest your money in something WITHOUT a guaranteed return on investment.

Whine to me about how Bernie Madoff stole your grandma's retirement, fine. She still gave someone her money to invest instead of opening CDs or any number of secure investment options. If you invest more than you can afford to lose, you deserve to lose it all.

Reason #3, divorce ate you alive. OK, so I'll admit I'm extremely judgmental about this considering I've never gone through a divorce and both mother and mother-in-law have (let alone countless other friends and family members), but I am STILL married, so shoot me. You took a vow, you made a commitment...now make it work. OK, fine so the wife is leaving you because you cheated on her or beat her or neglected her and/or the children. If she cheated on you and is getting the house...then you and your lawyer are idiots. Those are ALL decisions you made...suck it up and be a responsible adult.

Reason #4, you're horrible with money (meaning you spend without caring if you can afford it or not). There is no sympathy for you. You spent money you didn't have and now want to blame it on the credit card companies for preying on the weaknesses of Americans or whatever excuse you come up with.

Reason #5, medical bills. It's hard to throw a stone at a cancer victim or their families. I will say, that life and medical insurance should be mandatory for any self-respecting adult, but job loss prevents these in some cases. Because this is more individually based...I'll refrain from any sweeping generalization. I will say though, if you had an opportunity to purchase insurance (medical, life or supplemental) and chose not to because you couldn't afford it...you still made that decision. Unfortunately your family members are the ones who have to deal with it once you die...or hopefully survive.

I'm sure there are exceptions out there like identity theft...guess what you were the victim and thus it wasn't your fault...unless you are too stupid to not give the phishing scheme your bank account number and PIN.

Why should your debt be erased? What kind of person walks away from their debts and expects to be "forgiven" on their credit score in a couple years? This goes against every moral fiber in my being...folks that's not saying much for you. The fact that my old boss filed for bankruptcy because he's a low life, later foreclosed on 2 homes (he blames others...see #4) and has nearly perfect credit now makes me want to vomit. America is a very litigious society and this is what we get for it. People can walk away from all responsibility as long as they fill out the proper paperwork and have good council.

I would like to see people who break the rules get punished instead of a helping hand. People who take responsibility for their decisions and actions are the ones being punished and carrying the weight for their slacker counterparts.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bird's Eye View

I just took a "Landmark Quiz" tonight.  I didn't do too shabby considering what you were looking at is not from the typical angle.  All of the photos were areal shots of "famous places."  I can't tell one baseball field from another...even with deductive logic guiding me.  Of the other three I missed, two were obvious in hindsight; I guess I just ran through it faster than I should have.


Do it, have some fun and just remember, few things are typically seen via satellite, so recognizing them may be tricky.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Painted Daisies, Painted Horses, Painted Poodles?

I recall hearing about a woman who dyed her Poodle Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Day and subsequently went to jail for animal abuse.  I've also received an email forward showing off the incredible "face painting" on cats.  So where is the line drawn? 

We were at the Zilker Park Kite Festival today and ran across this on the way back to our car.
In case this doesn't translate well, that is a standard poodle with a not so standard hair style.  That mohawk is green folks.  Funny I had just remarked to my wife after passing a grown ass man with a mohawk that they don't look good on anyone...let alone overweight 40-year-olds.  Little did I know this was lurking just around the corner.  Although, in all honesty, it's probably the only way the dude allowed this as a pet.  "Honey, he's gotta look tough or I'm not walking him!"  Way to put your foot down dude!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Saddest Thing I've Seen in a While

I was working on the garage today. We are going to have a garage sale in a few weeks because we have collected way too much crap to fit into a house with an expanding family. Basically everything Tina and I had before we were together has been sitting out in the garage for 3 years. Between the stuff we've bought for our home and babies and the things our friends and families have given us for both we are bursting at the seams. So it's time to purge!

Today was part one of organizing the stuff into keep, sell/give away, and gotta-sift-through-this-box-to-decide-to-keep-or-get-rid-of. It is astounding how much crap you can have that you literally don't touch for years. A nook in the garage holds piles of boxes containing books and a couple pieces of furniture. This is where I was working when my heart sank. I'll tell you this, as soon as I give you the back-story, you should stop reading if you are ultra-sensitive and your imagination will probably fill in the blanks for you.

So to the back-story: middle of the night two years ago I heard something in the garage. Being the "man of the house" I got up to investigate. OVERSHARE IN THREE, Two, one...We had just finished having sex, so I was completely naked and unarmed. (I had left the garage door cracked that night because our cat had gone on an adventure and hadn't come back yet, so I was thinking the noise was him.) As I clicked on the light something shot across garage from the cracked door to under my truck. I crouched down, dink a-dangling to get a closer look under the truck. As if on queue, as I got my face around the edge of the tire a white triangle with black eyes ala Spy Versus Spy popped into view. Not ashamed to say that I immediately grabbed my junk (as if the first thing any hissing triangle with black eyes would do is go after the lowest hanging fruit) and ran back into the house to find a weapon. It was an opossum and it was not playing dead! I returned, clothed, with a broom and dustpan. I opened the garage door and shooed it out into the tree next door.

My cat returned the next day, and trust me, no love was shown for his triumphant arrival. We left his ass alone in the house while we headed to Houston for a couple days. Or so we thought. There is a cat door between the garage and kitchen for Jack to have freedom and in theory, not need the adventure that awaits outdoors. When we got back from Houston, Jack met us at the door and was acting really odd. I followed him to the office, where he hangs out, to sit and chill with him for a bit. HOLY CRAP! There was a baby opossum in the middle of the floor...I'd be freaked out too if an intruder was in my bedroom! I got the cat carrier and some work gloves and grabbed the little guy...SO CUTE AS BABIES...Mommy could learn a thing our too from her babies! I put him out in the yard next to the tree his mommy ran up.
Tune out if you need to, cause the sad shit is coming. Why didn't I think, "hmm, every time I've ever seen a mommy opossum with babies, she has a bunch of them on her belly and back?" Well I didn't, we freaking had a freaking wild animal roaming around our house for a couple days, thank you very much. Back to the garage cleaning, I ran across what I thought was squirrel crap everywhere I was cleaning...yes we also had a squirrel infestation last summer. So I got to the back of the nook in the garage and realize it was not squirrel poop, it was opossum droppings. Under one leg of my old desk behind all of the boxes was an old cloth place mat with four dehydrated opossum babies.

My whole world came shrinking in around me. All I could think about was how the mommy opossum was protecting her babies from some crazed naked guy two years ago. The "Despereaux" of the group had ventured through the cat door to tango with whomever he had to just to find food. I just threw them out and let the other four starve in my own home. Seriously, the most depressing thing I've had to clean up in years. Karma is SOOOO not going to swing in my favor after this discovery. Damn.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Life with Kids Means Getting a Little Poop on Your Hands

My daughter was sitting on my lap in the office when I noticed her diaper was wet.  I told her to go have mommy changer her diaper.  She got down and waddled off.  My wife heard the comment so I assumed she was going to take care of it.  I was wrong. 

My daughter came back into the office with a dirty diaper in one hand and a clump of poop in the other.  She understands things SOOO well now that she was getting me the accoutrement to complete my request.

She didn't take hers off or anything.  My wife just hadn't emptied the last dirty one into the toilet yet so it was down at her level and she was making due with what she had access to.  She laughed and played as soapy water ran over her hands after I had screamed for my wife to help.

Guess that about sums up my life now.  So proud of how smart my child is becoming, even if there is a pile of poop to clean up afterward.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What Kind of a Person Steals a Wedding Ring?

A customer at one of my stores left his wedding ring in a car he returned back in December. The car was rented out afterward and the agent didn't see the ring. They contacted the customer driving the car and she said she had the ring and would return it when she brought the car back. Instead of returning to the store, she dropped it at the airport location. No ring was returned.

The original guy, who I'm sure has been sleeping on the couch since he got home, called to find out if she'd brought the ring back. They informed him she hadn't and called her. She said she'd bring it by the next time she rents a car, which was fairly regularly.

She shows up and a different agent is checking her out. He ran her debit card and the credit check came back as negative and we couldn't rent the car to her. That didn't go over well. She told him to tell the other agent to kiss that wedding ring goodbye. OH HELL!
They called the guy to let him know the situation. He understood that we had no liability and couldn't give out her info either. But now he came back in this week to find out what he could do. I told them to have him file a police report with all of the details and our legal department would turn over any necessary info to the police.

Sure finders keepers, but how trashy do you have to be to steal someone else's wedding ring?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bum Genius Cloth Diapers

We went against popular convention with our daughter's diapers. Before she was 2 months old we switched to cloth diapers. My wife convinced me to try them because the were SOOOO much better for the environment. A perk is that they are SOOO much cheaper than disposables. We bought the trifold style most people remember from my childhood era. They have a purpose, but baby sitters and day cares are not big fans.

Down here in Austin, it was easier to find people who use them and could provide detailed advice and places to purchase them. Hippie-Tree-Hugging-Austin has eco friendly diapers? What a shock!
We switched to Bum Genius shortly after. They are what they call pocket diapers. Literally there is a cover with a colorful outside and a pocket created with another piece of wickable fabric to sit close to the baby's skin. The actual diaper is just an insert that slides into the pocket. You wash both, the middle is just the absorbent portion. The style we purchased were one size fits all. They snap smaller and come with sizable inserts for babies of all sizes/ages. The Velcro flaps that close around the baby work exactly like disposables. So since they look and act like disposables as far as fit on the baby, people aren't opposed to using them.

Problem we recently ran into is leaking though! We've gotten the kid to sleep roughly 10 hours at night now. When she's awake, that's like 5 or 6 diapers! So these are getting full and leaking out. I know disposables have the same issue, but I'm not sure what the best solution is. We've been stuffing the infant trifold diapers we haven't used in over a year and that seems to have squashed the problem. No leak at all, but her diaper which was already huge compared to disposables is now double it's normal size. I don't want to buy a bunch of doublers, but I think it might be our only solution. Dang it, babies never stop costing more money!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I Get Rachel Ray

I love to cook. My mother-in-law has to point out constantly that I put too much effort into my food. I decided to try a recipe from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa. She made a Greek version of Lasagna. It is called Pastitsio and honestly it was really good. The problem was it took forever. So normally my cooking is very go with the flow. Following a recipe happens maybe 5% of the time. Seriously, I should have read the stupid thing, because on the show it didn't seem to take very long. Dinner was served at 9pm!

Rachel Ray annoys my wife and most other people I know. I love the Yankee cook! 30 minute meals are practical. The flow is organic which is how I cook. I'll stick to her recommendations if I'm going to follow a recipe on the week nights.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Oscars

Do the Award shows have a relevance any more? They seem to dote on the same small select group of films. If there is a moderately big film about homosexuality, anti-war, black power, or whatever they are championing that year, it will be guaranteed in the running for all major awards. I wonder if the actors and directors see how laughably predictable they and the whole industry have become in regards to the award season.
Alright, enough chastising, I still watch the shit, so I'm part of the problem!
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I liked last year's music overload with Hugh Jackman and this year's opening number followed suit. Anyone who missed NPH's coming out party a couple years ago couldn't miss it on stage last night!

I liked the idea of a duo of hosts, but Alec Baldwin seemed to be really off. Steve Martin made me laugh. Maybe Alec had "uncomfortable comedy" written for him and it was intentional, but I doubt it.
Miley may have looked like a hooker, but her earrings were cool. The top of Sandra Bullock's dress was killer, but her hair was blah! I officially hate everything Meryl Streep wears to award shows. Glad to hear SJP getting some flack since she seemed to be the golden girl for a decade. Kate Winslet looked freaking H-O-T, Hot!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Flip Flops Are BACK!

Years ago my lovely wife, then girlfriend, bought me my first pair of flip flops. My dad hates them, so I never wore them. I absolutely love them now. I have several pairs from super cheap to super nice.
My favorite pair broke last year in Oklahoma while we were at Lake Spavinaw. Seriously as if I literally stepped out of a Jimmy Buffet song, I blew out my flip flop! I hobbled along with the broken strap which was stupid, but the ground around the lake was so harsh I had to struggle to save my feet. In the water, I tripped on the broken one and ripped the whole thing apart as I fell on my face.

So the time has come, the weather is great and I get to sport the world's easiest foot wear again!

Show your toes ladies and gentlemen! Flip Flops are Back!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Floyd's Barbershop

I'm a loyal customer to hair stylists. Jonnie Warner cut my hair in Tulsa from my junior year in high school til we moved down to Austin 6 years ago. It took a few tries, but I found someone I really liked named Trent Lightfoot in Austin. His work wasn't always spot on, but if we are going off percentages, he blows Professional Baseball Players out of the water!
^
In an effort to cut back on expenses, I abandoned him. I've been going to Sport Clips for about 5 months now. With their little loyalty card it's considerably cheaper, but so is the hair cut. I'm not a fan of the 90-mile-an-hour-chatty-cathies working my head.
Floyd's Barbershop opened up recently down the road from me. I decided to give them a shot. It's hip and Rachel did a great job on my hair. The first time in a long time Tina complimented my hair after a cut! Here's the rub, I'm only saving $5 from what I was paying Trent. Hmmm, is it worth the abandonment?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Wordle

Took the blog posting from a few days ago and made it a wordle.
If you've never done one, it's fun. Just grab a block of text or type random or not so random words into the website and play with the color or shape or what ever....
www.wordle.net

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Where are Her F*ing Gumdrops and Sugar Plums?

Berlin is 16 months old. She has slept in our bed most of her little life. Unless we are out of town or something random, since last July when we stopped sending her to the baby sitter her naps are always in our bed. My wife lays down with her and and fights her to sleep. At night the same thing happens. I move her to her crib on occasion, but not always. So it's been a couple months since I've consistently slept the whole night in our bed. Tina's belly is expanding and Berlin is getting bigger and basically pushes me off the bed. If she wakes up in her crib she cries until we "save her." At that point, I usually head to the spare room or office to sleep. This makes my wife mad.

We are going to try to keep her in the crib each night. She will let me rock her to sleep, so that's the next step. Right now though, we are going to get her to sleep and then move her over. I'm pretty good at getting her to go back to sleep in her crib at the beginning of the night, but from the dead of sleep, I don't do so hot. Fingers are crossed that this will work.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Texas Republican Primary

We voted in the Texas Primary today. I voted for Kinky Friedman last time for governor because I knew Perry was a shoe in and I think Kinky is hilarious. This time not so much. Kay Bailey Hutchison seems like she could stand a chance of usurping him. I don't want to see Farouk Shami beat out Bill White in the running, but I think Kay could beat Rick before Farouk could beat Bill.

So, here is my not so secret ballot!
I voted against the sonogram question. This wasn't an actual proposal, just a question to republicans to find out what the candidates should be championing. They asked if mothers aborting children should have to be shown a sonogram prior to the abortion. I said no. My wife said yes.
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Her argument was that it is a way of checking how far along the baby actually is so women don't lie and abort later term pregnancies. She didn't see the part about women having to see them. Her point is completely valid. My thought is, I don't want the government to force someone to be in an abortion clinic if they don't have to be. Crazy Christians blow these places up. Imagine a Ultrasound Technician dying because of a bomb and Texas government dictated that position was required to be in the facility. So mine is more straw than anything else, but still we are in opposition.
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I think republicans should give up trying to over throw Roe v Wade. It drives away voters from the republican party when it will never be repealed.

Bradley Method

Let me start by saying my wife is a bad ass, she did so freaking awesome giving birth to my daughter with hardly any complaint or sounds, that I truly think she could take on any challenge the world could throw at her.So when we went to the Birthing Classes before Berlin it was basically a bunch of videos preparing us for what was going to happen and eventually we would get to Lamaze. Well, we only made it 3 weeks before Tina's water broke and we had Berlin.

The experience was difficult for Tina in that she didn't expect her 4 weeks early and the doctor put her on Pitocin as soon as we got to the hospital to "speed up" the contractions. It makes them much more painful too. She didn't know she could get up and use the bathroom because she had the monitors attached. Had she said ANYTHING I would have been able to help her out a little more than I did. But that's what Tina does, she clams up and just deals with pain. I instructed them to put the epidural in because she may not be able to communicate, but I know my wife.

This time we are taking a 12 week course called the Bradley method. Basically tapping into the animal instincts of quiet relaxation, calm environment and preventing problems by having a healthy pregnancy to begin with. None of the hyperventilation that Lamaze has you do, more deep breathing. It's also about the coach reading the mom to help her relax.

Honestly, I think it's crap. She did really well the first time. Now that we know what to expect somewhat, I think this time will be really successful too. She of course trumps anything I say because she is the one carrying the child. So eleven more weeks to go...we'll see how it goes. I think we basically just bought new friends for a few months for a couple hundred dollars.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Married v Single; Kids v No Kids

I found myself psychoanalyzing past relationships with a buddy today. We talked about sex primarily and the psychology behind single women and single men around the act. I'm not going to go into any fun details, so I'm sorry to get your hopes up. I do notice though, I'm basically having to defend the concept of marriage and offspring to him.

I had to verbalize things that I've never really put thought into. It's not to say I thought nothing about getting married and having children, just when you are in the moment, things happen organically without excessive thought.

I was telling him how we were both OK not getting married and just living our lives together forever. When we (I) changed my mind about NO kids, we started talking about marriage. She and I both agreed that since we are going to stay together, we didn't want our children to deal with the whole bastard/out of wedlock BS. After all, we weren't stereotypical Oklahoma teens...we made it to our 20's/30's without having babies. So why become a negative statistic? Besides, we love one another and families with the same last name is the societal norm (ahem MOM).
He seems OK to never get married, let alone never having children. I've talked to some of my kid-less couple friends as well as my buddy about my theory on kids. I think everyone (because it's in our DNA) eventually wants progeny. Some people don't realize it and have children because they are stupid and didn't use protection. Some people realize it and cannot have them. Some people realize it when time has passed them by. I feel sorry for all people in these categories. Tina and I are lucky we don't fall into them either.

I guess this is why we have countless books and TV shows on the topic of family, children, marriage, single life, sex and everything in between!