Thursday, July 31, 2008

Warm, Soft Cash

Why is it that currency one receives in change from convenience stores is always so nasty? It's crinkly and soft and warm, sometimes sticky. Where do these bills come from? I don't get that kind of well-worn change at the supermarket, or in a restaurant. And at the bank the bills are nice and crisp. It's only at convenience stores that one finds the dregs of currency.

One of these days I may ship one of those nasty one dollar bills off to a lab and see what they can tell me.

In the mean time, I am telling my 7-11 clerks, "Coinage only, please!"

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Exit The Yard Boys, Enter Hector

Back in 2007 I picked up a couple of yard boys, Seamus and Dillon. They came weekly and did a decent job for me. I was impressed at how, lacking proper tooling, Dillon performed all of my edging on his hands and knees with pruning shears.

He earned his meager wage.

And then, around late August or early September of last year, they abruptly stopped showing up on weekends.

On Halloween of 2007, Seamus came trick-or-treating at my door. I recognized the little weasel right away, and asked him what happened.

"My partner moved away and took all the equipment with him."

Fair enough.

Fast forward to early April of this year, Spring Break. Seamus and Dillon appeared at my door looking for work. Surprise, surprise! It seems Dillon was up visiting from wherever he moved to, and the boys were looking for a little cash. We struck a deal before they told me I had to provide the equipment. No problem. I imagine their old mower is in Dillion's father's garage, somewhere far away. So they did their work, did a good job, and I paid them.

History repeats itself. I haven't heard from them since.

July arrived and I was weeks behind on trimming and mowing. My wife, weary of my constant griping about not having time to mow the lawn, arranged for a person called Hector to take care of the yard.

I left for work on Hector's first day. The grass was above my ankles. When I returned home I could not believe how good things looked. This Hector is obviously a professional, and his work is far superior to my own.

He comes and goes quite mysteriously. I don't even know what he looks like. I only know that I will be billed by mail.

As far as I am concerned, he's on the payroll. Downside is, I will miss lording over the yard boys with comments like, "Uh-oh, I see a weed over there, no cash until it's gone," or "I'd rather you edge the fence with pruning shears."

The other downside is this: we waited until July to retain Hector, which is the start of the dry season. During the dry season the grass browns a bit and will not grow unless it is sprinkled daily. I have a sprinkler system, and used it several years ago and kept a nice lawn during the arid season. But the $349.00 water bill put me off of green lawns during the dry season.

So we bring Hector on at a time when there is little to mow. Oh well. I'll be thankful for his work come March.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bathroom Remodel Update QUIZ

The bathroom remodel is complete, and we are pleased with the results.

It’s a very different bathroom. My wife was point on the project, and it looks really good. The décor in the photograph was coordinated by my wife, save the small hand towel which just appeared one day. My daughter took credit for that one. I am not sure where it came from, but I rather like the attitude its message suggests.

The previous décor was vastly different. On the same wall which now features the Michelangelo, there were four items framed in black, which sprung from my wife's sense of humor but which were all very much me.

The first was a photograph of Janet Leigh from the movie Psycho, screaming in the shower.

The other three were bathroom-related quotes, black text on white. I am reproducing the framed quotes below.

Can you identify the source of each of these exchanges?


“Do you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to take a bath.”
“I’ll alert the media.”
“Do you want to run my bath for me?”
“It’s what I live for.”


“No, I don’t have a square to spare. I can’t spare a square.”
“Oh, is it two-ply? Because if it’s two-ply I’ll take one ply. One ply! One puny little ply! I’ll take one measly ply!”
“Look, I don’t have a square and I don’t have a ply.”


“All I want is a truce.”
“I have to go to the bathroom. Is that all right?”
“You gotta go, you gotta go.”
“I already frisked him. He’s clean.”

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Today's Bible Story

My daughter told me the following Bible story this morning:

“These people, the Israelites, were going to kill a bull, but instead they built an idol. It was a small idol, a small bull. They built it and had an idol party. Then, he shows up and says, ‘Hey, hold on, people, time out!’ They were all in big trouble.”

“Was that Moses who showed up?” I asked.

“No, Moses was too busy running around collecting gold for the idol. It was Moses’ brother. And it was his brother’s friend who was behind the whole thing. When Moses found out, he put his brother’s friend in a treasure chest and said, “Don’t ever, ever do that again!”

“There’s another story about two guys who take a sword up and go camping between two houses, and lose the sword. But I don’t remember if that one was in the Bible or not.”

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Few Words About Animals

It can be tough to lose a pet. When Tom, my secretary, discovered that his cat had died, he was a basket case for a week. "If you see me dash unexpectedly out of the office," he said, "I wanted you to know why."

I see fliers on telephone poles with photos of cute dogs and cats who have gone missing, and I know the people who belong to these missing pets must be worried sick.

In our neighborhood fliers went out this week about a missing turtle. No doubt a beloved turtle, as it had been photographed on the pillow of a human bed. The Turtle Lady, out canvassing this morning, knocked on our door and asked to search our yard.

I saw two fairly large raccoons in one of the cherry trees last night. I figure if the turtle was back there yesterday, the Turtle Lady might find his shell today.

Do raccoons eat turtles? I don't see why they wouldn't.

Our dog has not gone missing. In fact, she has increased her comings and goings since figuring out how to open the back door.

Now she won't stay outside. If she gets tired of being out there, she just comes right on in when she feels like it. But she has not learned to shut the door, however, and the problem this has created is that yesterday alone I chased down two crane flies and about half a dozen moths.

By the way, while you're out looking for turtles, keep an eye out for my sister's turtle as well. He has three legs and does not respond to the name "Ahab."

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friends in Advertising

I found this somewhat dated phone company brochure about cordless phone accessories which features my old friend Alan, obviously taken during his half-hearted attempt at fashioning a modeling career for himself.

I would be curious as to whether or not he appears in any other ads.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Too Many Cables

Why is it that my life is dominated by cables? I have so many that I took the label maker out and labeled them. The Nikon, a couple of video cameras, the cables for my Studio editing software, cell phones, Palm pilots, electric razors, the MPE player, handfuls of incompatible chargers -- it's insane. And don't get me started with the home media center stuff.

I had a number of maddening entertainment center components until last spring: DirecTV box, receiver, DVD, VHS, turntable, DVR, not to mention the TV. And all of it interconnected with cables.

So in April of 2007, after weeks of research, I chucked the whole thing and went with the Bose Lifestyle and a Sony Bravia TV. The entertainment center was sold on Craig's List and we bought a simple TV stand, underneath which is the sound system and the DirecTV box -- that's it. And with HDMI and optical audio, cabling has become simplified. And the whole living room became simple and clutter-free for the first time in our marriage.

Which brings me to a last month. My family was shopping at Target and my daughter and I stopped at the XBox demo. "Let's try out some games," I told her, and we ran through the demo. I hadn't played a video game console since 1995. We found a race car game we both liked, and I told my daughter I would buy it for her. My wife interjected: "We don't have an XBox."

But we did. It had been in the living room, unopened in its box, for months. "What did you think that thing was?" I asked.

"I don't know. Why haven't you hooked it up?"

"Where would we put it? Besides, I don't want all those cables everywhere."

So I have one XBox racing game, and a box that says XBox 360 Elite (which I procured at a charity auction by virtue of the fact it was the only thing on the list that I would be even remotely interested in) which have yet to be opened. I may not even know what happened to that game. But it's getting to the point where I may have to do something. It may mean a few more cables (my guess is three, four if I want to do the on-line thing).

But I am restless tonight so maybe I will change my mind. Anyone care to recommend any games?

Above: My video game console now languishes in the garage.