Saturday, July 14, 2007

Electronic Paralysis

My Virus Is Back

I borrowed Pat's computer, unplugged it from it's docking station, and dragged it into the living room this evening long enough to write and let the world know that my little digital visitor has taken over my machine and will not allow me to access the internet.

I'm gonna sit here and thrash around, do some reading, then get to bed in anticipation of another four or five hours slaving in the heat Sunday like I did on Saturday.

Please pray that the Norton people can exorcise my demon(s) on Monday...

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday the 13th

Will Someone Please Call PETA?

I went fishing this morning about 7:30 AM, and in addition to giving away about a dozen shrimp to some unseen tiny fish, I also managed to snag this little guy in the eye in the process.

I resisted giving him/her mouth to mouth rescusitation, but when I turned him/her loose, he/she insisted on doing nothing but swimming upside down while the local minnows swarmed around asking "are you my Mommy?"

Media Bullshit

More Journalistic Incompetence

Let me offer to you my sincerest condolences if your little darlin' is going to college to study for a so called Journalism degree, because in my opinion you have or will be subjecting them to the collegiate equivalent of a "frontal lobotomy" in the four year process.

At least that's the way things seem to work when you look at the crap that gets published by supposedly reputable purveyors of news and information--generally trying to tell the public what is going on out there in the world.

Some of the stuff is so insane that it has to be intentional, not accidental, in my opinion.

Take this week's story by the BBC about the Queen of England walking out on a photo shoot with spazzy looking pop-culture photographer Annie Leibovitz.

LONDON - The British Broadcasting Corp. apologized to Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday for saying she had walked out of portrait sitting with photographer Annie Leibovitz.

The BBC said a promotional trailer released Wednesday from the upcoming documentary, "A Year With the Queen," showed the monarch arriving, not departing.

That scene showed the queen walking down a Buckingham Palace corridor, wearing a crown and her Order of the Garter robes, and telling her lady-in-waiting: "I'm not changing anything. I've had enough dressing like this, thank you very much."

"In this trailer, there is a sequence that implies that the queen left a sitting prematurely," the BBC said.

"This was not the case, and the actual sequence of events was misrepresented. The BBC would like to apologize to both the queen and Annie Leibovitz for any upset this may have caused."

The promotional video showed the queen balking at the photographer's request that she remove her crown.

Here's the story from the BBC Website.

I have to ask how in the heck stuff like this can make it through an entire production process and onto the air and into newspapers in the first place?

I have little empathy for the Queen or the Queen's feelings because I don't give beans about royalty or celebrities (Lady Di is still dead and I still haven't shed a single tear), but seriously, who are these morons and why do they still have jobs this morning after letting something this inaccurate be shown in public?

After all, you don't have to go to college and spend four years of your life and tens of thousands of dollars (or Euros or pounds) of your parent's money in order to know the difference between RIGHT and WRONG, do you?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Peter Pan

The "Valuejet" Of The Peanut Butter Business...

Well, I just finished eating a nice "Jiff" peanut butter sandwich this morning in anticipation of making an early morning trip over to Lowes' to pick up some supplies for today's construction session.

I topped my fake peanut butter sandwich off with a nice glass of some 1/2% milk that Pat insists on buying, augmented with some of my "fake half & half" which I rescued at the last minute from last evening's trashcan because I wanted to actually taste the product in order to thoroughly condemn it in my writing.

Let's just say that the experience was almost satisfying.

I HATE Jiffy and Jiff and Barfy and Biff and any other form of peanut butter other than the original, the best, the only brand that has voluntarily graced the shelves of my family's pantry since at least 1959....


Of course, just in case you were living in a cave or doing time on the International Space Station over the past six months or so you would know that Conagra Foods had a little problem with some salmonella contamination last winter and as a result they had to recall all of the Peter pan Peanut Butter on the entire planet.

Every single jar, EXCEPT the one that is still happily residing in my pantry this morning.

The only problem for me is that there is only a couple of spoons full of peanut butter left in the jar, and as a result I'm hanging onto the jar and the peanut butter contained therein until I can again buy a new jar.

I may just start some kind of shrine in my home and place my jar of Peter Pan Peanut Butter right there in the middle.

In checking the Conagrafoods Website, I found that in fact the Sylvester, Georgia plant responsible for converting south Georgia and south Alabama peanuts into my beloved creamy, smooth, peanut butter like I've eaten nearly my body weight in over each and every one of the past 47 years, is being rebuilt and will be back on line later this summer.

Of course the public , in their normal Lemming fashion, has stampeded away from not only the Peter Pan brand, but in some cases every brand of peanut butter over the past few months.

I just hope that they don't cave in to public opinion and change the name of the peanut butter or do a Coke maneuver and try to change the formulation in this revitalization process.

I want my peanut butter back on the store shelves, with the same label, even though it is in a plastic jar rather than a glass jar like in the old days.

Remember back in the mid 1990's when a little southern airline called Valuejet had a DC-9 take a nosedive into the Everglades outside of Miami?

Practically everyone I know was freaking out as I continued to happily fly with Valuejet and enjoy the savings on flights out of Atlanta over the fares charged by Delta and the other major airlines.

Today that little airline is known as Airtran, and today Airtran has one of the most modern fleets of aircraft in the industry. They also haven't lost a single other airplane since that fateful day in 1995.

I intend to apply the same strategy in making decisions regarding Peanut Butter that I employed in selecting an airline...

Keep the Status Quo...

So my advise to you is to go out and buy yourself some Conagra stock, and while you're at it, would someone buy me a couple of cases of Peter Pan Peanut Butter?


I've Got My Balloons

Now Where's My Helium?

One of my Blog Idols, Roger, over at Curmudgeonly & Skeptical, mentioned this FOX news story about a guy attaching a bunch of helium balloons to a lawn chair and taking a little flight across country.

BEND, Ore. — Last weekend, Kent Couch settled down in his lawn chair with some snacks — and a parachute. Attached to his lawn chair were 105 large helium balloons.

Destination: Idaho.

With instruments to measure his altitude and speed, a global positioning system device in his pocket, and about four plastic bags holding five gallons of water each to act as ballast — he could turn a spigot, release water and rise — Couch headed into the
Oregon sky.

Nearly nine hours later, the 47-year-old gas station owner came back to earth in a farmer's field near Union, short of Idaho but about 193 miles from home.

Is that not cool as heck...or what?

Of course, as has become to be usual, Mr. Couch and his amazing flying lawn chair risked the wrath of the imperial Federal Government of The United By God States Of America in making his little expedition--IF he had violated any "controlled airspace" coming under the jurisdiction of the FAA:

Couch is the latest American to emulate Larry Walters — who in 1982 rose three miles above Los Angeles in a lawn chair lifted by balloons. Walters had surprised an airline pilot, who radioed the control tower that he had just passed a guy in a lawn chair. Walters paid a $1,500 penalty for violating air traffic rules.

That was one of the things that bothered me the most back in the days when I was still flying an airplane..."controlled airspace."

It just wasn't over places like airports and the Pentagon, today it includes places like football stadiums and Disney world, and if just the act of successfully taking off and flying an airplane isn't difficult enough, now the government makes three quarters of the country off limits if you are flying anywhere under the altitude of what is usually described as "orbit."

I swear to God if I were twenty again I'd be tempted to strap a few dozen big balloons to my new bike and take a similar trip myself.

Fortunately, for my Mother and the FAA, I'm way past twenty and will be spending my day tomorrow at my construction job site, and the highest I'll be getting off the ground will be when I'm up fooling around on the roof finishing doing some cleaning in anticipation of installing some new metal panels.

I'm sweating just thinking about the process...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


July 11th

I just noticed the calendar date, and I have to mention that on July 11th, 1981 I was standing at a church altar in Winston Salem, NC serving as one of my good friend Andy's groomsmen, and I guess that means that he and Laura are celebrating 26 years today.

I'll have to give them a call later this morning and see if Andy is in Europe on business or at home for the occasion.

Next, on July 11th, 1985, I found myself sitting in a lawyer's office in the Atlanta suburbs signing the closing documents on my first house purchase, a little place that I called home for two and one half years and made a tidy profit on in the process before designing and building another house to hold me and my cars and boat.

Dang I feel old...

Fat Free Half & Half?

More Consumer Fraud...

Everyone that knows me or that reads this blog regularly knows that I'm what I call a "grocerystoreaholic."

You see, I find it hard to pass a grocery store without going inside to look at the produce section and the meat counter.

I admit that I'll often go into the grocery store under the guise of only buying a newspaper and a loaf of bread and come out with a $150 whole beef tenderloin that was on sale for $100 and ten cans of beef and chicken broth (also on sale), and possibly some kind of kitchen gadget that was sitting by the checkout in a clearance rack.

I just can't help myself, and I'm NOT sorry for my affliction.

On Monday I ran into our local Harris Teeter on just such an excursion--needing a newspaper and a few other things--while Pat and Missy "the Turbo Pup" sat outside in the car enjoying the air conditioning. On this particular trip I actually managed to stay within the boundaries of my shopping list with a singular exception...

Instead of buying real Half & Half for my coffee, I just noticed that I managed to come home with something called Harris Teeter's Brand "Fat Free" Half and Half.

What the heck?

The label touts that the little pint carton contains "63% less calories than original Half & Half."

But wait a minute here...

I actually WANT liquid with lots of fat in it... THAT'S WHY I WANTED TO BUY "HALF & HALF" in the first place.

I guess that you could say that I've acquired something akin to the cubic zirconium of the dairy isle. I can hardly wait for them to come out with "Chicken Free" chicken, "Fish Free" fish, "Pork Free" pork, and "Beef Free" beef.

Wait another minute...they already have those products and they call it...

Get ready...


Taking a big breath...

Upon further investigation I found the US Food and Drug Administration Section 138-180 Half-and-Half description of what REAL "Half & Half" should be:

Subpart B--Requirements for Specific Standardized Milk and Cream

Sec. 131.180 Half-and-half.

(a) Description. Half-and-half is the food consisting of a mixture of milk and cream which contains not less than 10.5 percent but less than 18 percent milkfat. It is pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized, and may be homogenized.

(b) Optional ingredients. The following safe and suitable optional ingredients may be used:

(1) Emulsifiers.

(2) Stabilizers.

(3) Nutritive sweeteners.

(4) Characterizing flavoring ingredients (with or without coloring) as follows:

(i) Fruit and fruit juice (including concentrated fruit and fruit juice).

(ii) Natural and artificial food flavoring.

Get that?

Now here is what my errant purchase--my "Fat Free" Half & Half contains--according to the label:

Nonfat Milk Cream
Corn Syrup
Sodium Caseinate
Artificial Color
Artificial flavor
Dipotassium Phosphate
Vitamin A

I most definitely have a deficiency of Carrageenan and Palimitate in my diet and I didn't even know that I needed any in the first place.

Lucky me.

And I guess that the really good news is that my "Fat Free" Half & Half is "Ultra-Pasteurized."

Pause...(Que the the sounds of crickets chirping)

AaaaaaahhhhhhHHHHHHHH.....Why the heck would ANYONE buy this stuff in the first place?

Why not just buy 1/2% milk and be done with the decision making process. After all, it's much cheaper per ounce, and while you're at it, take home a carton of fake eggs and some fake butter, if you will.

As I've said over and over and over in the past...I WILL DIE OF SOMETHING one day!

I demand that I be allowed to determine the cause of my death myself, and it will probably be red meat and various forms of fat.

I just threw my little unopened carton of "Fat Free" Half & Half into the kitchen trashcan.

I guess that, in the future, I need to start reading the labels a little more closely, no matter how exasperated my fellow shoppers make me in the process.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

That's Global Warming?

"Mother Earth" Apparently Has A Strange Sense Of Humor...

Don't tell perennial Global Warming Guru Al Gore, but yesterday it snowed down in Buenos Aires for the first time since 1918.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Thousands of Argentines cheered and threw snowballs in the streets of Buenos Aires on Monday as the capital's first major snowfall since 1918 spread a thin white mantle across the region...

The snow followed a bitter cold snap in late May that saw subfreezing temperatures, the coldest in 40 years in Buenos Aires. That cold wave contributed to an energy crisis and 23 deaths from exposure.

I guess that being in the weather business could be considered to be a dangerous profession these days, because the folks down at the National Hurricane Center had an uprising and tossed out their leader over some kind of internal disagreement.

Like everything else in our society, I wish that the technicians would be allowed to do their respective jobs and the politicians and bureaucrats would just shut up and get the heck out of the way.

Know what I mean???

Monday, July 09, 2007

Dust About To Rise Again

Writing Suffering

Sorry about the light posting recently, but I'm up to my eyeballs in CAD work again, and making decisions related to spending another three or four thousand dollars on the materials and services for the Duplex construction project is taking up a good deal of time & energy.

Today was a design and planning day spent hiding inside in front of the computer, leering at the swimming pool but refusing to endure the heat in the process of walking over and sitting down outside. Our heat index was near 110 by mid afternoon.

My Saturday meeting with the real estate guy confirmed a new hunch I had that I was over-doing things by going to the trouble to make the four foot addition on the rear of the building in order to increase the size of the two rear bedrooms.

As things currently stand on the floor plan, my buyers or their new tenants will just have to make do with queen sized beds and keep their tuxedos and twenty extra Gucci suits in storage because the small existing closets in the existing 10 x 12 foot bedrooms are staying as they are.

I'm still blowing out half of the concrete block front wall to accommodate increasing the size of the living/dining area however, so tomorrow we're building the form work needed to thicken half of the 6' wide front porch slab by 2".

That means that I need so little concrete (about 1/2 a cubic yard), that the concrete companies won't deliver for me, so I'm going to have the thrill of renting a portable cement mixer and tossing around a bakers dozen bags of sackrete on Thursday.

I'm also having the first of two 10 cubic yard dumpsters delivered tomorrow morning and loading up all of the lumber and concrete blocks that we've thus far removed from the building in our earlier efforts. I can't allow the dumpster to sit around very long or the locals will fill it with dirty diapers, watermelon rines, and chicken bones and I'll get a fine for violating the "construction debris only" policy that my dump fee pricing is based on.

My earlier reference to "we" and "our" includes my new man Friday (actually James), the homeless guy, that I've adopted as my assistant and who's been showing up pretty regularly to work for three or four hours each session at $10 per hour. If he keeps his shoulder to the grindstone and his nose clean I just may let him become an unofficial resident for a short time for security purposes and my own convenience.

I still have to think about that option however. It's just hard to send him off each day back to the streets and the shelters because he has a great attitude and he works like a slave (no insult intended) and I could really rest easier when I start having to leave expensive things laying around in that building in that neighborhood overnight or over the weekend unattended.

Thus far I've had to unload and load all of my power tools and hand tools from the Suburban into the building on EACH AND EVERY VISIT. The only things I leave lying around is stuff like screws, nails, my shop vac, a couple of ladders, and safety gear like glasses and boxes of ear plugs.

I figure that some guy seen clomping down the road dragging a red Craftsman shopvac by the power cord, toting an orange 12' fiberglass stepladder on one arm, wearing blue framed safety goggles, a stack of paper respirator masks, and pink foam ear plugs will attract enough attention to at least make the newspaper if not awaken the local authorities from their slovenly slumber.

Of course someone could back a pickup truck up into my driveway and just break in and haul the supplies away like they did my kitchen sink a few years ago, but so far the omnipresent floodlights I installed on the front of the building have kept the indigenous kleptomaniacs away.

Any way, this week should see the final framing and floor plan take shape so I can move on to electrical, plumbing, and installing the new metal roofing panels over the old roof.

I want this thing completed and on the market by September 1st, and I'm not getting any younger in the process so I press onward in the near 100 degree F heat.

I think I'll go buy some stock in Gatoraide while I'm at it...

I'm their best customer right now.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Who Are These People?

Legalized Littering

Yesterday I was wandering around aimlessly here on the property, taking out the trash and putting some things into our carport storage locker, when I noticed this guy with a van full of what I call "Fake Phonebooks."

You know--Fake Phonebooks--those published by some entity other than the telephone company.

Any way, this dude proceeds to toss one out into each and every covered parking space, then he comes around the building with a load in his arms and plops them down in front of our mail boxes.

One has to ask the question: "Does he think that we have some kind of third class residents that don't own a parking space but get their mail delivered here?

Obviously this rocket scientist gets paid by the book to empty his van each day, and his employers (the "Fake Phone Book Publisher") doesn't have any mechanism to verify that he's not giving each of his involuntary recipients more that one copy.

We get a couple of odd newspapers and "trader magazines" thrown out on our carport a few times each month. They all end up laying around getting wet from the rain and festering and rotting until I get tired of them, realise that "current resident" means ME, and I kick them over to the trash bin because they're too gross to pick up with my hands.

That's OK, our maintenance guy will enjoy hauling the big pile of "fake phonebooks" that I'm putting into the trash this evening.

Can anyone tell me the difference between literature distribution, advertising, and littering?
Why Did They Pick Here?

Multi-State Crime Spree Comes To Town

I didn't mention this a few weeks ago when it occurred, but by some freak of chance St. Simons Island was chosen by this moron, Michael Woodbury, for inclusion in his cross country melee of murder, arson, forgery, and burglary committed over the past month.

You see, about the only thing that ever happens here on SSI is the occasional wife-beating or petty larceny, although we did have a bank robbery back in 2003 while I was visiting to complete a real estate deal.

I don't believe that there has been a murder here in the past dozen years, although Glynn county as a whole doesn't fare as well in that category.

Any way, Woodbury got out of jail this spring and, having not had enough time wearing prison pinstripes (and few working brain cells), took two female accomplices on a road trip to Florida from Maine, stopping here on our little island long enough to break into our buddy J Mac's multi-million dollar mansion out on East Beach. Stealing J Mac's stuff wasn't enough though, they had to set the house on fire and burn it to the ground.

I can't find a picture on the Internet, but there was nothing left but the chimney and a charred pile of rubble.

They caught the bastard last week back up in Maine, and if they don't fry him for the three murders he committed Glynn County will get a shot at adding more time to his prison sentence.

Mean while, J Mac's still in the restaurant business, and we'll be back down there Wednesday night to hear our neighbor play the Piano in the lounge.

I hope the international criminals stay away in the mean time.