Sunday, January 27, 2008

What's hap'nin...

Yesterday we tore the wallboard off the walls to the 3rd bedroom. I had spent several days getting stuff out of the room and creating space to work. I still have more of that to do but I needed to do the wallboard on the weekend while Diane was here to help. When the job is done there will be 2 bedrooms and each will have a walk-in closet. The remodel will (hopefully) make the place more salable. The 3 bedroom over & under closet arrangement was a bit too much on the funky side.

I went to Home Depot this afternoon to buy some more storage containers, the plastic type with top flaps that interlock. I wanted a small shop vac for sucking ash out of the pellet stove when we clean it but the choices were a $110 one and a $26 one. $110 was more than I cared to pay and the $26 one didn't look up to the job. It had only a non-woven fabric bag for a filter. I'm sure fine ash would go right through that. I checked Sears and they only had a cheap one.

As long as I was t the mall I decided to check the new Steve & Barry's store. It is aimed at the younger crowd, a lot of sweats & tees with logos etc. but they were having their grand opening celebration. For the occasion they had priced everything in the store at $8.98. Yup, everything. I didn't need any clothes but when I saw a down jacket for $8.98... I bought it.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Campaign Coverage

Bill Clinton got it right when he told CNN reporter Jessica Yellin "You live for this. This hurts the people of South Carolina... the people don't care about this," he added. "They never ask about it". Recent media coverage of the democratic campaign reminds me of my high school days when provocateurs would run back and forth between two guys who were antagonists saying 'do you know what so & so said about you?' then run back to the first guy with the response until they got a full fledged fight going. Then they'd stand around the fighting pair in a circle yelling "fight, fight".

That's our media, a bunch of juvenile provocateurs.

I'm all for investigative journalism, for speaking truth to power in the tradition of Edward R. Murrow, but that is not what these people are doing. They are engaging in petty muck raking for the purpose of promoting controversy because it makes 'good TV' (or radio, even NPR's On-Point is guilty) that pumps up ratings. It's time our media grew up and stopped promoting controversy solely for its entertainment value.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Flip-Flop Weather

After getting near record snow in December and into the first few days of January it turned warm. REALLY WARM! At least two days have broken the records for high temperature on that date. Yesterday's low was higher than the previous record high for the day. The snow is virtually gone. Today it is raining off and on with very high winds. If we have any snow left when the next cold front comes through, it will be very little.

The winds took down a cedar that was in our back fence line. It didn't hit the house and caused no damage to anything else. A gust of wind popped a pane of glass from one of the upstairs window sashes and I had to put in a piece of plywood as a temporary sash while I make repairs. The windows on the second floor are all as old as the building (1876) and the glazing compound was all dried out. I'm working on re-glazing the old sashes but haven't gotten to the second floor ones yet. I guess that should be a priority project.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Watching the Debates/Thoughts about Obama

A couple of days ago we watched the back-to-back Republican & Democratic debates on ABC. Apparently from the NH polls since a lot of people were taken by Senator Obama's performance which seemed lackluster to me but watching them did clarify what bothers me about Obama.

When pressed about the 'change' he advocates, instead of making concrete proposals, he responded to the effect that his message inspires people to press for change and he will continue as president to inspire people with the result that the people will be empowered and change will be inevitable. His message is very short on what he has done or will do beyond inspiring people.

This notion that 'if everyone believes, it will happen' is what I call Tinker Bell politics. In the old Peter Pan movie when Tinker Bell is dying Peter looks out of the screen and pleads with the audience to clap saying if everyone believes and claps Tinker Bell will be well. Tinker Bell survived in the movie of course because the movie was following a script and the result was fixed on the film for all time even if no one in the audience clapped. The Bush administration has tried the same philosophy urging everyone to support his war plans and believe even when they are failing, contending that if only everyone would get behind the president it would work. Unfortunately in the real world there is no script and no future outcome is already frozen on film to be played back to reassure the skeptical that belief was justified. To allude to another movie, in Return of the Jedi when asked about the future Yoda replies that "the future is constantly in motion" meaning that it depends on what happens in the present. While belief that change is possible is indeed essential to changing the course of events, to change the direction events take requires more than belief, it requires effective action. We need a president who can not only inspire, but also write the script and direct the action.

When pressed further for an example of the change he advocates from his past record he presented his support for a bill that prevents lobbyists from buying meals for members of congress. As the moderator immediately pointed out however, the ban only applies to sit down meals. Members of congress can still accept meals while standing, so the net effect is that, in future, members will have to be served wine and hors d'oeuvres by lobbyists instead of soup or steak.

Presenting that slight of hand as a serious change strikes me as very Washington insider, old fashioned, political spin, BS. For all his charm and rhetoric, which is admittedly inspiring, I have yet to be convinced that Obama is the candidate who can or will take the action needed.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

It has been snowing AGAIN! I sure picked the right year to buy a snow blower. I have used it almost every day since buying it and now I hear there is another winter storm on the West coast that is headed our way. The snow is already almost over the fence by the driveway. Today we also have cold. It got all the way up to 7°. It was below zero last night and will be again tonight. It will sound like the Grinch but "the thing I hate most" is the cold. Winter would be tolerable if the temperature never went below 20° but we can get as low as -40° around here and -20° is not at all unusual. It is cold days like this that 'almost' make me want to move South. OTOH I don't like heat over 85° either.