Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Starvation and Health Care

I was out eating the other day and someone at the table asked it Obama’s new health care thang would pay for food.  I mean, obviously you can’t be healthy if you don’t eat.

It got me to thinking as many things get me to doing.  I went out and did a little research on the Internet.  I try to find multiple sources that seem to know what they are talking about before I quote anything.  The starvation epidemic in North America has always been a little bit hard for me to stomach.

I was watching a snippet of American Idol the other day when they were talking about people starving in America and they were talking to this 200+ pound crying woman who could not feed her kids.  Now, she could have lost 200 pounds in the last month because she was foregoing food so I’m not going to judge, but it still was a little odd.

But, besides that, I went to this website to get to food statistics.  The interesting number for me there was that in 2002 34.9 million people were “food insecure”.  Almost 35 million Americans didn’t know where their next meal was coming from in 2002!

Then, I went and look for uninsured people.  These numbers were a bit easier to find since it’s been all over the news for the last year or so.  It seems to fluctuate between 40 and 46 million uninsured Americans.

If the numbers are to be believed we have 35+ million people who may be starving.  We have 45 million who are uninsured.  Soon we’ll all be insured, but I assume the 35+ million will still be without food.  Isn’t it all a bit backwards?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Birthday Party

image Last weekend my youngest daughter turned 13.
I took pictures on my cell phone camera and she asked if I was going to put it on my blog.
I told her it was not blogworthy.
That was not a nice thing for me to say.
Her friends call me Garl.  They say it with a pirate accent.  It’s kind of funny.
The little smiley face balloon was scary.  Unless you tied the balloons to something low, it always set up against the ceiling staring down at everyone with it’s creepy little grin and pointed little hat.
They did pagan rituals with sparkling candles that could not be extinguished.  The flames of evil were put into cupcakes.  The cupcakes were ironically in the shape of a peace sign.  I suspect this was done to try and put you off your guard for the insanity that was to follow.
image As if to add to the macabre atmosphere, they took turns beating a little colorful donkey with a stick.  To enhance the violence they took to blindfolding themselves with some kind of makeshift mask that resembled cuddly little bear ears.
image I think I heard them calling the innocent donkey Carlos.  They taunted him and beat him mercilessly until he was finally decapitated.  I almost shed a tear as candy spilled from his broken body.
imageHappy birthday Weezy.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mingo Fishtrap at McDavid Studio

Mingo Fishtrap was really good.  I went and saw them last Friday at McDavid Studio in Fort Worth.  If you’ve never been to the McDavid Studio, you should find an event you like and go.  It’s well worth it.

It’s general admission or “first come first serve”, but I don’t think there is a bad seat in the house.  There are little round tables setup in front of the stage with 4 seats to a table.  I would say it would maybe seat about 250.  There is always an opportunity to talk to the band (either at intermission or after the show) if you are so inclined.

If you decide to dress up for it, you won’t feel overdressed.  Sometimes I feel a little underdressed, but no one ever says anything.  It’s a casual high class environment and I like it.

Mingo Fishtrap fit in rather nicely to this environment with their classy swing sound mixed with some good blues and R&B.  The front man was nice enough to come shake hands with my German guests who joined me for the event.

As usual, fun was had by all.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mingo Fishtrap or Johnny A.

Ever since I saw Cadillac Sky at McDavid Studio in Fort Worth, I’ve been paying closer attention to who is playing when.  Often times, I’ve never heard of the band playing.  Cadillac Sky was lucky that their ad popped up just after I heard them on Pandora.

Today, I received my McDavid Studio Concert Line email.  I figure it’s been a couple of weeks since my last concert so I should do some research.

First on the list was Johnny A.

Unfortunately, he’s going to be there tomorrow and I have penciled in plans for tomorrow already.  But, it’s tempting.  Of course, from all the videos I watched, he just plays guitar.  He plays real good.  I mean really good.  But I don’t know that I’m in the mood for sitting and watching a guitar slinger for 2 hours.

Then, I noticed the next band (on Friday) was Mingo Fishtrap.  Interesting name.  I figured it was one of those goofy alternative bands that I can only tolerate in small doses, but I went and did my due diligence…

I watched several videos and I’m not convinced of their quality, but they look rather entertaining and I like their style of music.  Therefore I am relatively sure that early Friday evening I’ll be at the Flying Saucer in downtown Fort Worth entertaining my usual crowd of one before I shuffle on over to the studio for some funky swing.

The Three Children

Occasionally I run across videos like these and it just brings a happy little light to my shady little life.  So, I share them in an attempt to bring a little happy light to all my shady little blog readers.

I like the kid in the middle complaining that he wants to play it faster… Cracks me up every time…

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Sobriety Test

image I have this “Left-Hander’s Calendar”.  I have it because I write and eat with my left hand.  I do everything else with my right hand, but I think because I write with my left hand then people think I am left-handed.  I’m proud of it, but truth be known, I’m probably more right handed.  If it requires strength, I use my right hand.  If it requires dexterity, I use my left hand.  I play guitar right handed, I throw a ball with my right hand, I can play tennis and racquetball with either hand, but I don’t get much zip with my left hand.

And that whole introduction has nothing to do with my story.  But, it was fun to write.  Today my calendar has a quote from a left-handed individual named Marcel Marceau.  He said, “Do not the most moving moments of our lives find us without words?”  I was speechless Friday night (or very early Saturday morning).

I went out for happy hour with a friend of mine from work.  We had dinner and a beer or two at 5:30 in Grapevine.  Later on, at about 9:30, and after being met by another friend, we decided we’d go to Cowboys Red River.  I think I might have mentioned that in a previous post.  Not really, I know I mentioned it.

I drove home, changed into my country attire and went to Red River.  It was a horrible experience.  The band sucked.  The place was half empty.  We stayed about an hour and a half.  I got there at 10:45 and left at 12:20 or so.  I had a bottle of beer that I nursed for an hour (I ordered it just as I arrived).

At 12:45, I was approaching my house after a 30 minute drive from Dallas and the police lights came on behind me.  I had that little thing snap in my head where I lose my temper.  I don’t know what causes it.  My kids say that my mouth gets small and I start shaking.  I also lose the ability to talk.  Normally, when I find this happening, I walk away.  When a 20 year old punk ass cop pulls you over at 12:45 AM, you can’t walk away.

PAC – Can I see license and insurance please?

I don’t remember exact verbiage.  I’ll get as close as I can.  What I am thinking during this fiasco will be in italics so you know I thought it, but I didn’t say it.

GAR – Here ya go.  Make this quick because I’m tired and I’m two blocks from home.

I really didn’t say anything.  I was trying unsuccessfully to calm down.

PAC – Did you know one of your headlights was out?

GAR – Nope.

PAC – Can you turn on your lights and I’ll check it for you.

I turned on my lights and was thinking… This f’er is looking for something.  He’s going to make me sit here until he finds something to entertain his feeble little punk ass brain.

PAC – Yep.  Driver’s side headlight is out.  Where are you headed?

GAR – Home.  Or to the local police station if I can’t calm myself down.  Do all PAC’s have to be so stupid?

PAC – Where have you been?

GAR – Red River in Dallas.

PAC – What’s that?

GAR – A country bar. 

My mother blessed me with the inability to lie.  999 different points of origin went through my head, but the truth escaped.  It’s inexplicable.

PAC – Did you have anything to drink?

GAR – A beer.

At this point the PAC leaves me alone to go check my insurance and license (I guess).  It gave me a chance to count backwards from 100 and try to calm down.  I also practiced my ABC’s.  I can say them forwards and backwards equally well when my blood pressure is not about to make my temples pop.

The PAC returned to shine that piece of shit flashlight in my eyes again.  All benefits gained by my calming techniques were immediately lost.

PAC – So, you telling me you’ve been out all night and all you had was 1 beer?

GAR – I had a beer for dinner.

You see the honesty there?  It’s a killer.  Why can’t I just keep my mouth shut and nod.  It’s like I’m afraid I’ll get in more trouble if I lie.  But I love my momma.

PAC – You’re not doing yourself any favors.  You started out with one beer and now we’re up to two.  Could you step out of the car please?

Gar quietly stepped out of the car and thought, “You’re not even old enough to drink you f’n moron.  Are you just jealous or what?  You asked me two different questions you bastardized shithead and now you’re accusing me of changing my story!  You wait until my momma finds out!”

Mr. PAC proceeded to ask me a series of medical questions mostly about my eyes.  I threw him a curveball when I informed him that I had Type I Diabetes.  That was one of the questions (do you have diabetes?).  I started to get scared that he was going to take me to jail just for the hell of it so I started trying to be smarmy.

He asked me if I wanted to take my boots off.  “They have heels,” he said “and you might do better if you took them off”.  I almost hit him (not really).  But I left my boots on.  I told him some story about diabetics getting their feet amputated for stepping on random sharp rusty objects when walking around in the middle of town with no shoes on.

Once he put the pen in my face and told me to follow it without moving my head I figured he had wanted me to take my boots off so it would be easier for him to get me to fall on my ass (which I didn’t).

He finally decided I was being honest and said something along the lines of, “Take care of that headlight and don’t go anywhere else tonight.”  He just said the last part to push me over the edge of tyrannical rage.  Somehow he knew that he had struck a nerve.  I just said, “I’m done” and quickly got in my car.  “I’m done” can be taken in so many different ways.

The funny thing is once I sat back down in my car, the rage enveloped me and I started shaking so bad I didn’t think I could drive.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Night Lights

Someone, somewhere, once said, "Do something every day that scares you."

Tonight, I'm going to Happy Hour.  Then I'm going home to put on my cowboy hat and boots.  Then I'm going to Cowboys Red River in Dallas.

If you happen to be in the area drop by and say hello.  I'll be the one at the crazy table.  And by crazy I don't necessarily mean drunken merriment, but more realistically, the table that seems to be having an inordinate amount of fun for people that don't seem to fit into the environment.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Experts Exchange Blogging Fundamentals

If I don't write enough, people quit visiting.  I try to write at least once per week.  Some weeks are better than others.

I've had a lot on my mind lately and none of it is blogworthy.

But, in an unwittingly feeble effort, I have decided to piece together this work of near-nonfiction.

I joined something called, "Experts Exchange" this week.  It's a web site with an interesting spin.  You basically pay money to ask questions which are answered by "experts".  I refuse to pay for things like this so I signed up as an "expert".  This allows me to answer questions, but only allows me to see answers to questions after I have successfully answered X number of questions. 

So far my only success was in explaining to someone why it costs more to call a mobile phone in Europe than it does to call a home phone (in Europe).  I got 1800 points for that one.  It requires 10,000 points for me to be able to ask questions.  The questioner gets sole discretion as to whether someone answered their question.  I answered several questions that were apparently asked wrong.  I mean I definitively didn't answer wrong¡  That would be impossible¡

Like the one guy who asked questions about compiling stuff with Cygwin.  I explained quite well the quirkiness of using the Cygwin compiler on Win 7 and he responded back that he was running Cygwin on Linux.  I have no idea why you would want to do that.  I mistakenly assumed you would run Cygwin on Windows since Cygwin is a Unix-like shell for Windows.  Silly me.  I wasted my time on that one because of a moronic questioner.  Morons don't know a good answer if it slaps them in the face.

I have discovered that I am attracted to mysterious people.  This makes it hard to make new friends.  It also makes it hard to trust people I've met.  It's hard to trust a mystery.  Then, it occurred to me, that perhaps the reason I am drawn towards the mysterious types is because I don't trust anybody.  It's the whole chicken and the egg thing, but in reverse.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Keeping My Options Open

image As the job market continues to decline I have decided to learn plumbing.  I figure software jobs can always get shipped off to cheaper labor markets, but it’s going to be difficult to fly cheap labor in to do your plumbing work.  Plumbing work has to be done locally. 

There was a rust spot underneath my upstairs toilet and downstairs toilet.  These rust spots are caused by the bolts that hold the tank onto the toilet bowl rusting and leaking water.  They’ll eventually corrode away and break.

This is what happened upstairs.  The downstairs toilet bolts hadn’t quite broken in two yet, but they were well on their way.

Home Depot sells brass bolt replacement kits for about $2.75.  I went and bought two of them.  One for each toilet…obviously.

The downstairs toilet went flawlessly.  Turn off the water, flush the toilet, drain the excess water, remove the tank, replace the bolts, reinstall the tank, turn on the water, flush several times until convinced it’s going to work, walk away.  As I start to shut the door, I hear the drip.  The flush valve connection had come loose.  Tightened it back up and the dripping stopped.  Wipe the sudden appearance of sweat away from the brow and head up stairs.

Turn off the water, flush the toilet, drain the excess, remove the tank, replace the bolts, reinstall the tank, turn on the water, flush several times and wonder why there is so much water on the floor.  And why is the water artificially blue in color as if someone has dropped blue food coloring in the tank.  I see a crack in the bottom right corner of the tank with a blue stain growing across it and a steady drip of water.  Apparently the previous owners had tried to epoxy the tank rather than replace it.

I look on the Internet and the survey says, “Don’t replace the tank, replace the whole toilet.”  Basically because tanks and toilet bowls aren’t “standard”.  Am I really in the mood to replace a whole toilet?  I’ve never done this kind of thing before.  I’m not a plumber.  But, I figure, what the hell?  You only live once, right?  Off to Home Depot to buy a toilet.  The selection will make your bowels howl.

They have circular toilets, oblong toilets, extended toilets, short toilets, tall toilets, black toilets, white toilets, custom order toilets, power flush toilets, low maintenance toilets, water conserving toilets, cheap toilets, expensive toilets.  Unfortunately there was no toilet that would install itself.  For $150, Home Depot would do it for you though.

You could pay $50 for a toilet and $150 for the install.  I chose a $98 toilet and decided to install it myself.  There are videos all over the Internet about how easy it is to install a toilet.  I couldn’t find one to explain what happens when you try to install the toilet and it’s too close to the wall.  I still don’t have warm fuzzies that I’m not going to wake up tomorrow and find my upstairs toilet downstairs in a pool of sewage.  But sleep I must.