July 11th, 2009
My friend Matt says that as soon as you hit July 4th, there's a quick slide into Christmas. Summer seems to be racing by with an almost deafening pace. Where is it all going?
For quite sometime, I had resisted temptation and avoided social networks like the plague. My initial response to Facebook was "It's blogging for mental deficits." and my exclamation that it was "pithy retardation". However, I find that I have spent an inordinate amount of time perusing Facebook over the past two weeks. This includes untold hours spent as a virtual farmer on a game there. I've learned this much about Facebook. Looks can be deceiving. It can be an excellent way to keep in touch with the minimum of effort or time. Is that alone reason enough for using it? I suppose the answer is, that depends. If you're using it INSTEAD of in depth communication, then no, it is not a good reason. If, however, you're using it to keep the lines of communication open, I suppose it's a good thing. It's also an addictive thing.
Matt and I went to our friend's Tim & Shannon's wedding last week. It was very nice and quite possibly the most unpretentious, sensible wedding I have ever attended. Without being gauche, I imagine the cost was contained better than the usual lavish affairs I'm used to attending and at the end of the day, they were just as married. The relaxed atmosphere meant people were comfortable and free to just enjoy themselves and I daresay they did. I wish more people would opt for this sensible option.
Matt and I went home to Ashland in June for five days. It was just as wonderful and charming to spend time with his Mom and our good friend Linda as it ever was. Lovely is the word that comes to mind.
That brings me back around to how my summer is slipping away with little progress towards the things I had endeavored to do a mere month ago. As I looked at this picture today, I thought, "It seems like yesterday that I was there taking those snaps." Yes, indeed! That reminder has renewed my desire to tackle those summer projects that are still looming and virtually untouched. My resolve is renewed since I am assured that the days of summer will unwind as quickly as they arrived and I'll find myself looking out on snowy days and wondering where these bright warm days vanished.
June 3rd, 2009
Current Music: There She Goes - The La's
Whew! I did it. I survived another school year. My best pal Matt says that I up the stakes every year in order to challenge myself. This year was extreme even for me. Our Co-operative painting Saturday was April 15th. This gave us five, count'em, five weeks to finish six paintings. Two of these gems were HUGE.
WHAT WAS I THINKING?
Clearly, I wasn't. I'd love to post some of the snaps, but, ahem, if you are reading this and know me well, you also know why I can't.
Soooo... you'll have to take my word on it. They turned out nice. The painting that kicked my behind was an art nouveau Mucha. I clocked in nearly 120 hours on this beauty and had time allowed, I would have liked another 30 to finish her properly.
Yesterday evening I went to school and took down the paintings and all the art exhibit. After I donated hundreds of hours, I stand amazed at the audacity of some parents. REALLY. In the past five weeks, I've made about a dozen extra trips from my home in Burlington to Taylor Mill. I averaged 70 hours a week of work towards this exhibit. NO other program offers this. NONE. I want the kids to have a feeling for what it is like to have an art exhibit in a gallery. I also want their work matted and ready to take to local fairs for competition later this summer. Of course, this is also my business, but I don't charge for any of this stuff. It's a labor of love and I am the taskmaster that creates this havoc. I blame no one but me for it. Furthermore, I have loads of others that help and make it possible for me to enter into this crazy time of year and hover there for weeks. I'm not complaining about what I've done. NOR do I need a lot of praise or even thanks. It's my bar and my standard. My prime satisfaction is in finishing it.
HOWEVER, when parents come in bitching that they've had to make ONE extra trip up to their NEIGHBORHOOD school to retrieve their child's work, I stand in amazement. MTSCTL
All that aside, I'm in summer mode and making plans. A perpetual insomniac, I'm actually on a normal schedule. I fall asleep at around 11:30 or midnight and I've been up with sun at around 5:30. Weird to be normal. Let's see how long it will last, shall we?
I have many pet projects on my to-do list; knitting, reading, gardening, working on my cookbook that I've been writing, well, er...since God was a boy. I want to rid myself of massive amounts of clutter and explore the world of hosting a yard sale. I want to work in earnest at my photography and enjoying my camera. Organizing my photos would be in order, too. I also have a still life I want to paint -- since it's been ages since I worked on something original and my own. Matt and I are planning on a trip to Ashland this month. It's a little slice of heaven sitting on his Mother's back patio, wine glass and cigar at hand -- enjoying the quiet of her peaceful garden. Finally, with the year nearly half gone, I'd like to catch up on designing the first few months of this year's Doom & Gloom Calendar. It would be a lovely change to not enter into the Christmas season with that time eater on my plate. So, there you have it, my summer plans. By the grace of God, I'm hoping to dive in and accomplish a lot.
I hope you, DR, are enjoying these long days and having a few cool shadows for respite from the heat.
April 30th, 2009
Current Music: Case of You - Joni Mitchell
It's spring. What else could that mean othen than the Co-op painting project?
I chose six paintings this year. As usual, we have a Haring and a fish painting. Two other pictures - a large coffee cup and a nouveau cat, round out the simple paintings. Then I dove into the deep end of the painting pool with a Mucha Nouveau girl and a Huyssen. The Nouveau number is, to say the least, complicated. She is positively lovely, however, fluid and idealized.
Co-op Saturday was positively splendid. MY college kids were in for the event and it was wonderful to see them and they did a fab job. I was pleasantly surprised that our good friend Dave was in from Texas. Matt and I can't wait for him to move back to Cincinnati this year. It's great to know people that speak my language.
So, I'm in my groove and back at the canvas 60 hours a week. My theme this year hearkens to my early childhood and my burgeoning realization that creativity was what made me tick. I'm perfectly at home and comfortable in my own skin in front of a canvas painting away. Matt stops by on occasion to ask if I need tea or a smoke. Sometimes he plays silly videos. The other night he loaded up the League of Gentlemen's radio broadcast. It was good. The painting I was working on required a rather large palette and lengthy mixing. I drove home with the sun coming up feeling satisfied in my work.
It dawned on me that Matt is absolutely capable of frivolity but he is not frivolous. His frittering is useful and not just killing time or prattling about. He doesn't settle for proximity and banality over substance. A constant in my life since childhood has been the thought, "I don't get it." Matt has marveled at the same thing. Life is short and there's a lot to learn.
Joni Mitchell once wrote, "I am a lonely painter, I live in a box of paints." On frequent nights she keeps me company while I paint and her plaintiff lyrics paint pictures that occupy that part of my brain that would fret over things I cannot change and it frees me to fall through the hole in the canvas and find my foundation and "home".
I am not lonely. I don't really live in a box of paints. I am fortunate to have a few real relationships and people that speak my language. Painting gives me time to think and to evaluate. Time in front of an easel gives me perspective. I've allowed some relationships to devolve into situations where I feel used and taken for granted. Mea culpa. I suppose it's good to see the road not taken and then return to what's real and ultimately, where I belong. It may be a smaller world I find myself in but at least the colours will be genuine.
January 1st, 2009
Ah.... the best plans and good intentions.
I used to think that resolutions were for suckers or worse. You know the type, the eternal optimist, the list maker, go-getter, predictable, all around on top of things kinda person. The funny thing is, at times, (mind you I mean that quite literally) I'm some of those things. Sustainability is my failing.
Before I go further, I thought I'd briefly mention the holidays. Thanksgiving is now but a distant blur. I worked too hard and did too much. In the end, I was tired, out of sorts, and under the weather for nearly a week afterwards. Besides, T-day is NOT my favorite holiday. It always seems a bit melancholic.
Once again, the ghosts of Thanksgiving past haunted me while I loaded up my large roaster with three large turkey breasts. I call it "the morgue". I used to put a slice of the stuff on my plate out of a weird sense of obligation. This year, I gave up that charade. Fact is, unless it's smoked and from the deli, I'm not a huge fan. Perhaps Martin Newell's lyrics "you can let the turkey go, I'm not killing over Christmas in suburbia" have taken such root in my psyche that I can no longer baste those darn birds without paradoxically singing that line in my head. I wonder if every part of America has local news crews that insist on visiting a turkey farm like Hitler visiting Auschwitz. It's grotesque. Poor Sarah Palin in a PR nightmare went to a farm to pardon a bird not realizing that behind her a worker was lopping off the heads of the other not-so-lucky birds destined for dinner elsewhere. That received a lot of airplay. Terrific.
We had a huge crowd and loads of food. Julia's son, Aaron, joined us this year as well as Jim's Mom, Betty. Other than that, it was the regular group.
In December, I worked dozens and upon dozens of hours on the Doom & Gloom. In the end, I thought it was visually the best I had ever done. Still, my dark mood and rather backward entrance into the holidays influenced the final product and this year's calendar is a dark rendition.
Finally, Christmas was bearing down. My nephew Jason was a tremendous help and did a lot of the shopping legwork for me. My brother was having surgery the morning of Christmas eve and that was stressful. Add to that the breakup of a friend's marriage and the emotions that evoked and I can see where my attitude was not the best.
I worked earlier and harder in a misguided attempt to not be rushed. I am, however, a creature that is prone to fill time and space with whatever is available. In the end, I was just as exhausted as usual. Mom was sick with a bad cold she had (I assume) picked up from my sister the week before and didn't join us. Still, Christmas eve was pleasant and one of the best in recent memories. Not being shot in the eye this year was a real plus.
The following morning we went to Brad's family for breakfast. The food was good. (More on this in my resolutions.)
Leaving in the afternoon, I was able to steal a nap before Brad, Matt and I went to the movies. We went to see "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." It's a long flick. Brad fell asleep frequently and missed absolutely nothing. This film should have been entitled "Much Ado About Nothing Unless You Just Like Looking At Brad Pitt".
I awoke on the 26th with a scratchy throat and thought I might be getting sick. What an understatement. I haven't left the house since then. I haven't been this ill in 20 years. Dreadful dreadful flu.
So - I've had a bit of time to make some mental resolutions and one, in particular, I'm willing to state publicly. My mantra for this year is going to be "it doesn't bear repeating." Matt says people really just want to know the "hit singles" of our life. I suppose that is true. More the pity. I actually enjoy the feeling of KNOWING someone - even the dark underbelly. It seems paltry to just want the facade. Still, my intercourse with others seems to back up Matt's theory. Specific examples? Ach, it doesn't bear repeating.
My other resolution is a bigger one. I am resolved that if I ever get over this infernal flu I am going to be more disciplined and take better care of myself. I think I've done some serious harm during this last episode. I vow to stop being such a ridiculous girl that thinks willpower alone is all that one needs to keep insane hours without respite. Structure will become my best companion. Well..we'll see. I am, however, determined.
So, that's the public resolutions. I'm working on the others.
And there you have it. Anything else...... well, you know.....
November 7th, 2008
I am a conservative. I am a Republican. I don't apologize for either. On election night, I received a number of calls, text messages & E-mails from distraught friends & family. "What now?" seemed the common sentiment.
After the shock, I began to read blogs & news reports. As one might expect, there were the usual wing nuts of the left & right variety. Racists. LOTS of racists. White AND black. There were normal partisans from the left gloating over "their" victory. There were posts from the right - sad, angry & full of disbelief. My flooded mailbox had some unwelcomed mail from strangers and Obama supporters.
While unsolicited, the writers felt it their duty to share their pearls of wisdom. Here are some great quotes from those letters. The spelling, punctuation & grammar are ALL theirs. Please note, these sentences BEGAN JUST as they are shown.
"if bush did not deal with Hitler these things in history would of never happened like pearl harbor, d day, battle of the bulge or ww2 for that matter." Clearly our writer is a bit confused regarding history.
"he also wants to make it so collages would be like a public school where is don't cost you 15,000$ to get in for 1 yr. and he was free health care." I am so glad Obama is going to assist this person in attending "collage." Also, could someone point me to the "free" health care? Who are these doctors, nurses, technicians and hospitals that donate their services without cost and where have they been hiding? Oh, you mean SOMEONE has to pay for this? Drats.
"When you build a house you don't start with the roof and work your way down." You don't start at the foundation either. You start with MONEY. It doesn't grow on trees or trickle UP. To build a house someone has to have, loan or borrow money and like health care, SOMEONE has to pay for it. Hopefully, the cost will ultimately be born by the person(s) actually LIVING in or benefiting from the house.
"Thanks bush and dick for turning Iraq into a Muslim country and the united states into a dump with police that are out of control trying to give out tickets and dui's to make up for the money the stats not getting from the government. i guess you dont have to close the boarders if you make the surrounding countries better than your own." So, Bush is responsible for speeders and drunks getting tickets? (Not the law OFFENDERS mind you.) Damn, he gets around. Why does he hate so much? Who are these "boarders" and why are they making other countries better than ours?
"Thank bush and the republicans for putting obama in the white house. A black man would of never got in or even be close if the republicans would of done even part of there job." Our poor writer does not even realize how racist this comment is.
"the thing is that bush being so dumb did his math wrong" How did this person KNOW that Bush was dumb? Surely someone must have TOLD them so. As Sarah Palin might say, " You might think Bush is dumb, but I betcha he knows the dollar sign goes at the beginning of a figure such as $15000 and not after it." Don't you take comfort that informed people get to vote? Oh, yeah.
All kidding aside, there is another voice out there. The peacemaker. They make comments like this: "Let's come together for the good of the nation." "He's our president and we should get behind him." "Give him (the president elect) a chance."
It would have been nice if the Democrats could have embraced some of this advice during the past eight years, eh? At least to the point of civility. That aside, are these sentiments 100% correct?
My initial inclination would be to answer "yes". But it is not. Before the bleeding hearts experience tachycardia and the peacemakers espouse the notion that not getting in step with The One is unpatriotic, consider these thoughts.
1. For months, conservatives & skeptics have raised questions that, as of now, are still unanswered regarding Obama's past and present associates, that include but are not limited to Marxists, felons, anarchists & radicals. Their cries have gone unheeded by the main stream media. Now that the election is over, these questions still remain and they speak to the character AND judgment of the man who would be
king er president.
2. Obama is inexperienced. The dance nearly over, Tom Brokaw finally heard the strains of music and stated the following in an interview with Charlie Rose on October 30, 2008.
CHARLIE ROSE: I don't know what Barack Obama's worldview is.
TOM BROKAW: No, I don't, either.
CHARLIE ROSE: I don't know how he really sees where China is.
TOM BROKAW: We don't know a lot about Barack Obama and the universe of his thinking about foreign policy.
CHARLIE ROSE: I don't really know. And do we know anything about the people who are advising him?
TOM BROKAW: Yeah, it's an interesting question.
CHARLIE ROSE: He is principally known through his autobiography and through very inspirational (sic) speeches.
TOM BROKAW: Two of them! I don't know what books he's read.
CHARLIE ROSE: What do we know about the heroes of Barack Obama?
TOM BROKAW: There's a lot about him we don't know.
How can you pledge to get behind this level of uncertainty? That's like signing a contract without reading it.
3. Obama made a lot of promises. Is it right for citizens to settle for the ideology "That's just politics. They all make empty promises to get elected."? Do we get what we settle for or do we settle for what we get? How will we know if we won't even ask?
4. Can we trust the main stream media to do their job and ask the tough questions encouraging accountability from Obama? A Rasmussen poll just prior to the election stated that 51% of survey-ants believe reporters were trying to help Obama win. A full 55% believe media bias was worse than in the past. Project for Excellence, an agency that rates coverage found that media coverage of McCain was three times more negative as coverage of Obama. Need more proof of media bias? Through September, the media spent TWICE as much following the Obama campaign, spending $9.6 million as opposed to $4.4 million spent following McCain. The most egregious difference in spending is brought to you by the home of the heavily edited Palin/Katie Couric "gotcha" interview. CBS spent a WHOPPING 1.2 million following the Obama campaign compared to spending a mere $222,000 following McCain.
5. Our current financial & security issues are grave. Our very lives & the future of our nation could depend on the choices HE makes. Obama has vacillated on taxes and national security issues during the past two years. He has called Iran, a country with a leader that has pledged to "wipe Israel off the face of the earth" a "small country that is no threat". He has stated he will reduce our weapons in a time when our enemy is gaining them.
6. American politics are made up of checks and balances. Our separate branches of government conversely embrace and constrain one another. Obama's presidency, while starting out with grave problems, will enjoy practically fillibuster-proof support in Congress. Democrats that have had control for the past two years, despite their lower-than-Bush ratings, added to their numbers. Pelosi, Reid, Obama, Meeks, Franks & Dodd represent a number of Democrats that resisted more oversight of Fannie & Freddie in 2005 while receiving huge donations from these organizations. Now they have EVEN MORE power.
7. Is the left the new face of fascism? Throughout the campaign, we have seen the character assassination of those that would question the new messiah. Do we need to look back in history to see what blind allegiance & fervant adoration of a leader without question can do? ''Joe the plumber" is guilty of nothing more than asking Obama a question. Like a pack of rabid wolves, the left & the media began to sniff out private information about Joe to discredit him. Ohio's Head of Job & Family Services and avid MAXED out Obama contributor, Helen Jones-Kelley, authorized a search into Joe's background divulging the information to the media. "Our practice is when someone is thrust quickly into the public spotlight, we often take a look" at them, Jones-Kelley said, citing a case where a lottery winner was found to owe past-due child support. "Our practice is to basically look at what is coming our way." But Ms. Jones-Kelley did more than that. She also had a background check run on him to see if he was receiving welfare or unemployment. She clearly used her public office to aid the candidate of her choice.
But it doesn't stop there. While Obama has stated he does not share his liberal counterparts desire to install the Fairness Doctrine, would he stand up to his party? In light of the accusation that his campaign suppressed critical media (a rare occurrence) on several occasions & that he has never stood in opposition of his party in a controversial issue, it is highly unlikely.
In his acceptance speech, Barack Obama intoned, "In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long." One day later, president-elect Obama asked Rohm Emanuel to be his Chief-Of Staff. Calling the opposition to bipartisanship while you choose to be brazenly partisan smacks of an attempt to hold the opposition to a different standard than you are willing to be held to. It's rather like evening the playing field to YOUR favor. Here are some examples of Emanuel's code of conduct, business practices & ideology.
He calls himself "Rahmbo" and cites his political philosophy as "Winning isn't everything. It's the ONLY thing."
Emanuel Told His Staff That Republicans Could "Go F--- Themselves!" "'I'll tell you this,' Emanuel shouted out to his staff. 'The Republicans may have the 72-hour program. But they have not seen the 22-month program! ... Since my kids are gone, I can say it: They can go -F--- themselves!'" (Chicago Tribune)
Furthermore, Chicago politician Rahm has one of the most partisan voting records, voting 98% of the time with his party in 2007. He sat on the board of Freddie Mac. During that time, Freddie Mac was plagued with scandal regarding campaign contributions & irregularities in accounting. (Chicago Sun) He was a top recipient of cash from hedge funds, private equity firms & securities/investment industry. That's Wall Street, baby! A 2006 Chicago Tribune article speculated about a possible connection between Emanuel's Congressional election success and convicted former Chicago water department boss Don Tomczak. There's nothing like bringing the robbers in to investigate the theft! Certainly this sounds a lot more like politics as usual rather than change we can believe in.
Finally, in Obama's speech he said, "I will listen to you, especially when we disagree." The voice of dissent is a vital part of our freedom. While sometimes unpleasant to the ear, it is a part of our national song. It provides the tension in our harmony, not in order to destroy the melody, but rather to perfect it. Individual presidents come and go. To support the office of the presidency, we need that voice of dissent, as much now as we ever did. It was the voice of dissent of a few, who not reluctant to speak against the accepted ideal that slaves were soulless chattel, that sang out and inspired others to join with them. They rose to a crescendo through and past war and sacrifice, ultimately allowing what was perhaps unimaginable to those early voices. Without them, Obama would not be the president-elect and we would still live in a country that enslaved others. The need for dissent is not diminished with time or situations. No politician is "the one", perfect in wisdom and understanding. God help us if we ever believe that. And so, I support my country. I pray for her continued struggle to be that city on a hill. And I raise my voice, not always in agreement, but in the hope of the freedom that allows a range of ideas while we search for a melody that is worthy of our country's history and a song of and for her continued greatness.
October 20th, 2008
Current Music: I Fall To Pieces
I had every intention of blogging about recent Halloween & birthday festivities. Instead, I feel compelled to write about HHGREGG & the very bad, horrible, awful, nightmare experience I have had with them.
My Mom is handicapped. She barely leaves the house. Frequent falls have resulted in a shattered arm, facial lacerations, surgery. We have a lifeline installed and have made every attempt to make her life easier and more safe.
In August, Brad and I decided to buy her a new refrigerator. Nicer than the one we own, we choose a Whirlpool side by side with ice/crushed ice/water in the door. We paid the extra for the energy rated fridge. Damn, we are generous. It was delivered promptly despite the fact that the salesman had our city wrong. We had also paid to have it installed and a water line installed. When the delivery people called to confirm their impending arrival, I asked about the water line. Bubba (well, he sounded like a Bubba) practically guffawed. "You have to make an appointment for that." I said, I did when we bought the refrigerator. I paid for it. The appointment is written on my contract." He responded, "We don't do that." I called HHGREGG. I received a phone call from the man that would be there that afternoon to install the water line. The delivery men showed up with the new refrigerator. Much to my chagrin, there were TWO dents in the door with the ice maker. I pointed it out. Delivery man A (who had the most amusing verbal tic I've ever heard. His speech was frequently punctuated with "yep, yep".) offered to recompense me for the dents if I agreed to keep the flawed refrigerator (yep, yep) and seemed incredulous when I said, "No, I would like an UN-DENTED one.(Unspoken "nope nope")" "You'll have to wait for us to get one ordered, yep yep." was his response. "Okay" I answered resisting the urge to throw in a "yep yep" of my own. A few days later, a new group of delivery guys brought the new door & installed it. This saga should be over, right? WRONG.
In September, Cincinnati was hit with a hurricane. Yes. Fact is stranger than fiction. 99% of the folks here lost power. Mom was no exception. We were one of the lucky ones. Hers was only out a few hours as opposed to those that were out for over a week.
Shortly thereafter, the ice dispenser on Mom's fridge quit working. Sporadically at first, and then pfffftt... permanently. I called repair. A rather nice gentleman showed up in a few days. He couldn't figure out the model. He called his boss. Finally, he said, "You have a bad Taurus board." He ordered the part and was on his way.
A few days later the part arrived despite being sent with an incorrect name. (Do I sense a pattern?) Putting in the new part was scheduled for Wednesday, Oct 15. On Saturday (11th), I found Mom's freezer had an ice waterfall. It seems the ice wasn't breaking off from the maker, however, it was still trying to fill the still full tray with water, spraying water that then froze inside the unit. I called repair to see what to do. They were closed. I called HHGREGG. They said, "disconnect the water line." Um... I don't see how to do that. Instead, I tried to loosen the offending ice. That worked. I made a mental note to tell the repairman about that on Wednesday.
He arrived & said, "I knew before I got here that it was a misdiagnosis. I'm willing to bet your Taurus board is fine." A few minutes and several machinations later, he commended himself on being correct. "Because of the power being out, a lot of these are showing up. Water melts from the bucket & gets down around the motor and shorts it out." Still later, he said, "No, your motor is fine. It just had ice around it. It's working." I tried it and sure enough, we were back in business. I mentioned the frozen Niagara from the weekend along with solution I came up with. "It's a fluke. Don't worry about it." He responded in a rather glib, don't-worry-your-little-head-about-that mode.
Two hours later, we were fixing Mom's dinner. Going to get ice from the door, HEY SURPRISE, it's dead as Lincoln. I call repair. They schedule another service visit today, October 20th between 1 - 5. I receive my reminder call last night. This morning at EIGHT, I receive another call. "Your area tech has called in sick. We need to reschedule. I have everything open from tomorrow through Saturday." I choose tomorrow.
I write HHGregg and describe the situation. I have now had to be here SEVEN times for ONE refrigerator. Eventually I receive a call from a rather blase sounding individual that points out HHGREGG has a ten day return policy. Yes, my ancient eight week old refrigerator is my problem. They suggest I contact Whirlpool.
I call A&E service to see if they can't send a tech out that actually knows his ass from his elbow. (I don't phrase it that way with them - I'm still trying to preserve a modicum of respect.) I tell the gal on the line I have an appointment tomorrow. "No you don't. I don't see you on our system."
I ask to speak to a supervisor. After a five minute hold, I'm connected to a supervisor that gives the perfunctory "I'm sorry about your troubles" along with the unspoken, "ain't nothin' I can do about it." routine. She has no idea why I'm not in the system. There's nothing available until Wednesday. I ask about having a more experienced technician. She responded, "I asked them about that. They can't tell me if there is one in your area. I've noted that "if at all possible, please send an experienced tech."
Oh, comfort and joy. I feel better.
I've written HHGREGG back and been a bit more direct. If this isn't fixed properly this week, I'm going to dispute the charge with my credit card company. I don't want something for nothing. ALL I WANT IS THE DAMN REFRIGERATOR WORKING. I want to quit dealing with A&E repair on a WEEKLY basis. I included in my letter to HH (I mean, hell, we should be on a first name basis by this point, shouldn't we?) that I would blog & write EVERY consumer advocacy outfit I can about this horrific experience. I'm making good on the first part of that promise now.
Does anyone take pride in their work anymore? Does anyone think it is fair that I have now had to schedule EIGHT days to be here for a refrigerator that has not worked properly HALF the time we've had it over eight weeks? Or should I content myself with the fact that a majority of the people (but not all) I have had to speak with seem to speak English as a first language.
Beauty is only skin deep. Here's the offending refrigerator.
October 2nd, 2008
Current Music: Tell Me Lies
It's a scary time of year. Normally, I'm referring to Halloween, but in this case, I'm writing about the upcoming election. I have never seen a more polarized nation. So many of us have lost the art of disagreeing without being disagreeable. Furthermore, the media now makes little or no effort to disguise their desire to influence the election.
Case in point: Gwen Ifill as the moderator of tonight's vice presidential debate. Ms. Ifill, a PBS commentator, (there's a bastion of conservative politics - NOT) has an upcoming book to be released on Inauguration day entitled "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama". When it was questioned if she could be impartial, Ms. Ifill responded : “I’ve got a pretty long track record covering politics and news, so I’m not particularly worried that one day blog chatter is going to destroy my reputation. The proof is in the pudding. They can watch the debate tomorrow night and make their own decisions about whether or not I’ve done my job.” And if she hasn't done her job fairly? Can we get a "do over"? It's very akin to telling a jury to UN-HEAR something. However, we won't have the luxury of calling for a mistrial. NO. There's a lot at stake here and SHE knows it. Ms. Ifill also has claimed she hasn't even written the chapter on Obama yet. The liberal dominated media has also made the point that there's no way of knowing (since the book isn't published) if it will be positive or not about Obama. REALLY? Let's start with the title. That sounds pretty affirmative, doesn't it? Furthermore, Ms. Ifill is black and a journalist. Need I cite those statistics? But, let's not deal in the hypothetical. Let's see what we do KNOW that Ms. Ifill has said.
During the Democratic convention here's Ms. Ifill on Michelle Obama:
“A lot of people have never seen anything that looks like a Michelle Obama before. She’s educated, she’s beautiful, she’s tall, she tells you what she thinks and they hope that she can tell a story about Barack Obama and about herself.”
Need more? I recommend wearing gloves for the treacle sweet article she wrote about the Obama family for Essence magazine lest your fingers stick to the pages.
And how has Ms. Ifill described Governor Palin?
"During the Republican National Convention, the PBS ombudsman fielded numerous complaints about Ifill’s coverage of Sarah Palin’s speech. Wrote Brian Meyers of Granby, Conn.:
“I was appalled by Gwen Ifill’s commentary directly following Gov. Sarah Palin’s speech. Her attitude was dismissive, and the look on her face was one of disgust. Clearly, she was agitated by what most critics view as a well-delivered speech. It is quite obvious that Ms. Ifill supports Obama as she struggled to say anything redemptive about Gov. Palin’s performance. I am disappointed in Ms. Ifill’s complete disregard for journalistic objectivity.”
Need PROOF of the difference? Check out her comment at the RNC and see if you can spot the contrast.
Yesterday, her glib dismissal of those that questioned her objectivity and the fact that she has a VESTED interest in Obama winning (her book sales), is dismissive to the point of arrogance.
Only in a liberally dominated media would Sarah Palin, who stunned the nation in her acceptance speech at the Republican convention, be the underdog in a debate with Joe "foot in mouth" Biden.
Her stunning success at the RNC prompted a frenzy of hatred that even liberal commentator Susan Estrich said was beyond anything she had ever seen before. Outcries of those clammoring for an interview have been followed by "gotcha" Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson. Gibson chose to HEAVILY edit the interview to make Ms. Palin look indecisive while also choosing to wear his reading glasses perched on the end of his nose in a show of condescension. (What? His notes couldn't be typed in large print?) Asking Gov. Palin about the Bush Doctrine, he seemed superior like Alex Trebek with the answer in front of him, and yet, Charles Krauthammer the originator of the term, says Gibson got it wrong and Sarah was right. The, flailing in the ratings, Katie Couric, who in the past, has been unsuccessful in concealing her contempt for conservatives, was on the attack. Asking Gov. Palin to list how McCain has prompted reform, she was unsatisfied with only one example. How about asking Joe Biden these questions about Obama? No, in HIS case, the smiling Couric didn't blink an eye when Joe, talking about leadership, extolled the virtue of FDR going on television when the stock market crashed. In 1929 FDR was a Governor. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was referring to the crash of 1933. FDR was president, so that's good. However, television wasn't introduced until the 1939 World's Fair. This wasn't to say that television wasn't used before then. Germany was the first country to have regularly scheduled (albeit limited) use of daily television and propaganda in the late 30's. FDR NEVER went on TV after a stock market crash. Imagine, if you will, the media frenzy if a Republican had made that gaffe. Couric claimed FALSELY to Palin and the lie was repeated by Obama in his 1st debate that Kissinger said he would meet with any leader (such as Iran's) without pre-condition. Kissinger has since set the record straight (although if your news source is ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CNN you probably haven't heard this) that he made no such assertion.
Go back further. In the Bush debate where he made the mistake of looking at his watch. My, that was a gaffe! Listen to the MSM while they praise Obama's debate performance and ignore his having to READ the name off of his hastily offered "I have a bracelet, too" comment. They also choose to ignore the father of the soldier he named having requested Obama QUIT wearing the bracelet.
BUT, the fix is in. Obama is their standard bearer. He is the most left leaning, divisive candidate in the history of the Democratic party. His claim of more than 20 years and 500 visits to a racist church and he had NO idea that was going on is deemed credible by the MSM. His associations with the terrorist William Ayers is dismissed as irrelevant. His gaffe's are ignored. He's the left's new messiah. The inspiration he's received from studying the techniques of Saul Alinsky, who cares? His lack of experience, no problem. The fact that he stood on the state floor and dismissed offering care for infants that survived abortion being offered medical care as regrettable because it might impede a woman's right to choose, oh well! That's abortion in the extreme, isn't it? No problem for Barry. The fact that he claims to think so much of women and yet his women staffers earn less than his male staffers, or the fact that he has less women in the higher ranks of staff than John McCain, doesn't stop him from running advertisements about treating women as equals. His shady real estate deal with convicted felon Tony Rezko? Water under the bridge. The fact that the hospital where wife Michelle worked gave her a $100,000 + raise mere months before he secured a hefty entitlement for them, just conicidence, right? Is this change or just corrupt politics as usual?
I'll go further. Not only do I not feel he is NOT fit to be president, I don't think he's fit to be Senator either.
God Help America.
September 21st, 2008
Current Music: Jeepers Creepers
It's difficult to believe that another year has gone by and it's time once again for all things Halloween.
Each year, Matt & I kick off the season by visiting Middletown's "Land of Illusion". This year we were joined with our good friends John & Melissa. It was great to go with someone that hadn't been before.
Land of Illusion is a compound of haunts. It opens early in September, however, Matt & I never opt for the first weekend. It's usually too hot and we figure it's good for them to have the time to get the kinks out of the performances/mechanics. Last night the weather was clear and just on the cool side. A quick call to ensure they were operational after Ike's surprise appearance in Cincinnati and we were on our way.
Surprisingly, they were BUSY for so early in the season and we were directed to overflow parking. There was a small army of workers directing traffic and we payed our $3 & parked a good stretch of the legs away from the attraction.
LOI never rests on its laurels and it was evident from the new entrance that they had been busy making changes. While the price of $30 for all four haunts might seem stiff, I believe LOI is the best value for the buck for a standard haunt. We arrived around 10:15 - a quick question to the gal selling tickets about the length of the lines (2 hours) coupled with the crowded parking, prompted us to pay the extra $10 a piece for Express tickets. Total cost of all four haunts PLUS express tickets $40.00 per person.
Stepping inside the compound we saw the familiar collection of buildings & were again struck by the changes. The former entrance is now the exit and houses the gift shop in a bit of brilliant marketing strategy. A couple of mediocre musicians were performing in the shelter. The refreshment stand has its own building now and we headed for a quick bite to eat. The prices of food is rather stiff and it's pretty standard fare. Hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, pizza by the slice etc. A rather large fire would have been inviting, but any available (LIMITED) seating was taken. There was only ONE picnic table near the refreshment booth and it was full of teens drinking sodas. MORE picnic tables would be beneficial. Considering the price, quality of the food & LACK OF SEATING, I suggest grabbing a bite to eat BEFORE you arrive.
We made the choice of going to the Haunted Trail first. The opening here has changed as well and we set off wondering how the Express tickets were going to work. A short distance from the imposing skull gate was a sign directing regular tickets and Express tickets down their prospective paths. Our path winded along and we walked alone. Eventually, a rather large gap in the fence showed us what we were missing by not paying the extra $10. A large crowd on the other side of the fence waited their turn. This year LOI Trail boasts an impressive large screen with a movie projected to entertain patrons through their rather lengthy wait. COOL. THERE WE WERE at the front of the line basically because we had paid an extra 2.50 per haunt for the Express line. It was WORTH EVERY PENNY.
In each haunt we were quickly greeted by the ticket taker and we never waited more than a few minutes. There were several people waiting "on the threshold" and the guy that checked our tickets directed us to join that group. Here's my first MAJOR complaint: While the trail is great and I would guess the MOST popular of the four haunts, they jam TOO many people in a group. There is NO way actors can perform for that many people. This means the people in the back (if they are tall and lucky enough) are forced to live the experience vicariously through those in the front. Shorter patrons are S.O.L. Furthermore, if the people in front of you are easily scared and physical about it, you are forced to hang back to avoid being walked into as they reel backwards from fright. This proved to be the case on more than one occasion. Poor Matt was scolded by a lady in the body bag room that erroneously thought HE was pushing the bags into her. Big changes on the trail and some of them were pretty cool. The labyrinth of upright plastic coils was a neat effect.
While a lot had changed on the trail and there were some interesting effects, I admit that my overall impression was one of disappointment. The two school buses have been separated and now patrons are directed down separate paths. One of the actors in the junkyard should be paid double - he was that good. And yet, so much of the trail now incorporates buildings it has a more industrial feel to it. The scenes don't feel like there's any set up to the scare, rather, patrons are exposed to a constant BARRAGE of noise and the "feeling" of walking through the woods is gone, replaced instead by navigating through a collection of buildings. Perhaps Matt said it best when he commented that the trail is a collection of unrelated frights. There's no continuity, theme or relation from one part to the next. Don't get me wrong. For a haunt, the trail is still good and probably the best value for length (over a mile).
Next up we chose the "Killer Klowns" now in 3-D. This was a HUGE improvement over last year (although the ball pit is now gone AND I missed that). Once again we walked past the patrons waiting in the regular line - only this time we were exposed to some comments from those faced with a rather lengthy wait. I felt elitist AND IT WAS A GOOD FEELING. Arriving at the front of the line we were given 3-d glasses and told they would be collected at the end of the haunt. Major complaint: The cardboard glasses I was given were already well-worn and not being a great fit anyway, were DIFFICULT to keep on forcing me to constantly adjust them. The effect was FANTASTIC and LOI has done a lot to visually improve Killer Klowns. However, the glasses were SO flimsy, I eventually took them off and walked through without them. If you like vortex tunnels, (& I DO) this is YOUR haunt. I would suggest LOI spring for PLASTIC glasses if they are intent on reusing them.
By now, we had FULLY realized just how great the express tickets were. We headed for the "Temple of Doom" and again, the opening has changed. At first, we thought there wasn't much of a line, but stepping inside the gate we saw a HUGE structure filled with customers. Once again, we made our way down the express path - only now we were fully exposed by the short wall separating the two routes. If this were the French Revolution, I would have been fearful for my head. BUT HEY FOLKS, if you're seeing all four haunts it's $2.50 per haunt extra. We arrived at the front of the line. The ticket taker seemed rather disgruntled and asked how long the line was. Hey hombre, it's YOUR JOB, business is GOOD & it's EARLY in the season. I heard him offer an apology to the group that would have been next and one of the kids said, "Hey, I've been waiting an hour-and-a-half, what's 5 more minutes?" Okay - that might have made me feel bad - except for the fact that we were giddy with our $2.50 up charge. Again, WORTH EVERY PENNY.
This haunt had changed the least. It relies heavily on animatronics but they are IMPRESSIVE to say the least. There are some live actors and visually, this is an attractive haunt with a "mummy" type of theme.
Last but not least, we moved on to the final haunt of the evening, "Dr. Psycho's Horror Estate". I probably don't need to mention the thrill of moving to the front of the line. In this haunt, you thread through a path with a large old house looming in the near distance. I believe this path has been extended this year and it's great. Inside the house there have been a few changes as well. Impressive actors and animatronics along with an eery heartbeat soundtrack that dominates the first part of the house makes this haunt one of my favorites.
Completing the final haunt we realized we would, in all likelihood, still be waiting in the line for the trail except for the express option. It took us just about an 1.5 hours from start to finish. We exited through the gift shop and they've made a lot of improvements there as well offering more and BETTER t-shirts, hoodies, hats, candy & souvenirs.
Land of Illusion Kudos: GREAT bang for the buck. LOTS of scary eye-candy with IMPRESSIVE animatronics but ADEQUATE live actors, too. The headless horseman on the trail has got to be seen to be believed. There is a rather "industrial" feel to the trail - gone is the SIMPLE scare and good set up. Still, it's worth the trip. The fact that they make changes EVERY year makes it a good choice for an annual visit. The express lane may SOUND dreadful. You're basically paying to check in line. But hey, over the years in line I've been exposed to kids smoking weed and one particular group of teens that had mouths so filthy that NOTHING could be as scary as them one day filling my gas tank or frying my burger. Okay - It's official. I'm old.
WISH LIST: Hey - run a shuttle from the far parking lot. THERE'S PLENTY of walking in store for patrons. $3 a pop to park - they can afford a SHUTTLE. Have some quieter scares on the trail - a LITTLE dead space would build up the anticipation for the next scare. As it is now, it is OVERKILL. MORE THAN SIX in a group on the trail CHEATS those in the back & they MISS A LOT. MORE places to sit for those willing to pay the hefty food prices. Finally, you know there's a theme to ALL the haunts EXCEPT the trail and while it is, in my opinion, the best of them, it could benefit from a theme and a bit of down time. Let the woods, the dark, and quiet play a SMALL part of this haunt. Oh, and I missed the loon soundtrack.
OVERALL - I'd give this haunt an 8 out of 10.
September 19th, 2008
Current Music: Blue Skies
It's good not to be "Amish".
Let me back up. I love visiting Amish country. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of visiting my Grandfather's farm. I like cows. I like the smell and the look of a barn. Perhaps that's why I'm drawn to the Amish. Lancaster, Pennsylvania is one of the most beautiful places to me. Okay - the tourist thing sucks. The outlet malls - blch. I could care less. BUT, when you get off the beaten path, the road a ribbon in front of you as you drive along the contour farmed hills, speckled with cows and large white Swiss bank barns- it's my idea of heaven. The brightly coloured Amish clothes as well as the black dresses and jackets stretched on the clothes lines that run from the house to barn are reminiscent of stained glass. I've always admired the Amish. Their dedication to their spiritual life and adherence to their beliefs has been a source of fascination to me.
I've been to windy locales before. I remember Cleveland on a blustery day. Nothing prepared me for the hurricane that hit Cincinnati. You read that right. The hurricane that hit Cincinnati. Last Sunday the remnants of Ike breezed through the Queen City area. A mere six or so hours later - 90% of the people that live and work here didn't have electricity. There are still nearly 100,000 people without power FIVE days later. But, hey, that's down from the 1+ million that were initially affected.
We were fortunate. My house sustained minor damage. I lost a good portion of my old Maple tree in front of my house but the electric was restored the following day. Yesterday we finally had a tree guy show up to remove the offending branch that still hung on my tree but was lying across the electric line and blocking my neighbors driveway. Mom lost a chunk of her maple as well and it took out her phone. Her electric was restored late that evening.
Unlike so many in this area, we didn't have to throw out food. It was a MINOR inconvenience being without the phone. Cell phones were nearly useless. My friend Matt's shop was without electric until Wednesday. We spent Sunday night at the shop in the dark - watching Mall Road TRAFFIC and there was plenty of it. People wanted to "see" what Mall Road looked like in the dark, I suppose.
So, it's good not to be Amish. Having phones, the internet and power back on - we remarked that we didn't know WHAT to do. Our choices felt infinite. And so they are.
September 9th, 2008
Current Music: Tell Me Lies - Fleetwood Mac
Leaning & Leading Journalism
I love the English language. To be sure, I'm not claiming to be an expert, however, I have been speaking it for more than 50 years. I can remember studying the subtleties & veiled implications of words used in advertising ploys while I was in college with fascination. Word origins suit my exhaustive nature. When I was younger, I remember hearing the adage, "If you can't say what you mean, you won't mean what you say." Experience has taught me the truth of that saying.
Have you ever experienced a child trying to explain something without having the vocabulary to do so correctly? The results can be comical. When my niece was three years old, I would drop her off at a church owned & operated day care each morning on my way to work. "Miss Jackie" was the manager in charge. Rev. Al, the pastor of said church would, on occasion, leave his office & cross the small yard that separated the church from the day care housed in the former parsonage. Melissa, my niece, was trying to explain something that troubled her one day. She said, "Miss Jackie's voice changes." I asked her what she meant. "Her voice is hard and then Al comes in and it gets soft." Not long after that, I waited on the porch after dropping Melissa off. Miss Jackie's screeching at the children was indeed "hard".
I like politics. I can appreciate the machinations and verbal tirades, the tricks with statistics & the parade of sound bytes. This isn't to say that I enjoy the lack of decency we have become all-to-accustomed with. We, as a people, have lost the art of disagreeing without being disagreeable.
The attacks on Sarah Palin are, I believe, unprecedented. Today, however, I came across an article written by Ariel Levy in the New Yorker about Cindy McCain. Quotes are noted but emphasis in red is my own.
Levy starts by describing Ms. McCain,
"She wore a tight black leather blazer over a black turtleneck, and her hair was styled stiffly in a ponytail."
In the same vein, she later continued,
"In her size-0 St. John skirt suits, and with her lacquered coiffures, Cindy McCain appears pampered and brittle. She was taken to a hospital with a sprained wrist after a fan shook her hand with too much gusto at a campaign event in Michigan last month. Her movements are quick and sharp—birdlike—and she often seems skittish, wary-eyed, and fidgety, fussing with her nails or her BlackBerry."
This bit of information ignores the fact that McCain had Carpal Tunnel Syndrome & the vigorous handshaking aggravated a pre-existing condition. Levy is so capable of noting every pant suit & pattern, but this fact was deemed unnecessary when considering her portrayal of McCain as "brittle".
Later in the article she (Levy) describes a situation where Ms. McCain asserted that whether they win or lose she'll continue to do what she does when she's (McCain) is instructed by her husband & Janet Huckabee to say "When we win.", Cindy, gives a "flicker of a smirk".
Smirking always sounds attractive, doesn't it? How does Cindy compare to Michelle Obama?
"It’s possible, though, that Cindy McCain’s reluctance to enter this race also had to do with the fact that her family is not actually that traditional—far less traditional, in fact, than the Obamas. Since childhood, McCain has been expected to embody certain pillars of conventional femininity: beauty, refinement, altruism, and an inclination to encourage the ambitious men in her life. She is probably better suited to this particular formulation of public wifehood than the outspoken, muscular, and frankly powerful Michelle Obama. But, if you watch her closely, from time to time you can see Cindy McCain slip out of character."
Michelle is outspoken, muscular & frankly powerful. While McCain slips in and out of character. The Obamas are depicted as more "traditional". Really? Funny, going over a list of rather dubious characters they call friends from the racist Rev. Wright, the convicted felon Rezko, & the unrepentant terrorist William Ayers, I have a difficult time seeing the Obamas as "traditional". Reading Obama's description of scoring "blow" in his youth sounds less than traditional to me, as well.
What of the home that Cindy was raised in and she in turn raised her children? Levy describes it as
".....a long, low ranch-style house, comparable in size to the small strip malls that are occupied by tanning salons and dry cleaners a few blocks to the south."
Levy paints quite a picture there. The reader is given the association of the McCain house with strip malls, tanning salons & dry cleaners.
Still, Levy's character assassination goes on:
"In the time that I spent with the McCains, Cindy never looked me in the eye, even when she was speaking to me. Unlike Michelle Obama, Cindy McCain has had no public schedule of events that the press is invited to cover. Requests for access are frequently met with evasion."
"McCain zigzags constantly between the two roles she was brought up with: she is the brave, individualistic Westerner who can ride the range and fly a plane and then the polite, fragile lady of the house with the flawless outfits and the duct-taped mouth. These are very different roles, but they both require privacy. Being a campaign spouse—or the First Lady—is an exceedingly public role. It is little wonder, then, that when she is on the campaign trail Cindy McCain often looks miserable."
Here, we see Levy, not content to merely paint an ugly portrait of McCain, she now calls into question her ability to be the First Lady because of the public nature of the role.
Cindy McCain stood by her husband’s side, her eyes rendered invisible by sunglasses, her mouth a lipsticked slash across her face—a straight line, unsmiling. A woman in the audience, wearing tight chinos, T-shirt, tube socks, and tennis shoes, motioned toward the candidate’s wife with her chin and whispered to the man beside her, “She doesn’t look like she’s having any fun at all.” ♦
Is it any wonder that Cindy McCain doesn't (according to this article) look Levy in the eye? Perhaps she recognizes someone intent upon assassinating her character, her looks, & her history? It's a clever article. It's subtle use of description paints a picture of a shrew that lives a life full of falsehood and delusion. Compare this with Cindy McCain's actual list of accomplishments both professionally & philanthropically and ask yourself this question: HOW MUCH DID LEVY'S PERSONAL VIEWS AFFECT HER TAKE ON MCCAIN & THIS ARTICLE?
Cindy McCain in Vietnam.