Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Random Ten

"The Golden Age" by Beck on Sea Change
"Everything You Know Is Wrong" by Weird Al Yankovic* on Bad Hair Day
"Unanswered Prayers" by Garth Brooks on The Hits
"Home Run" by Geoff Moore & The Distance* on Home Run
"Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procol Harum on The Big Chill
"Why Georgia" by John Mayer on Room for Squares
"Can't Stay Here" by Cowboy Mouth* on Uh-Oh!
"So Cruel" by U2 on Achtung Baby
"Already Dead" by Beck on Sea Change
"Swan Swan H" by R.E.M. on Life's Rich Pageant

I wasn't sure if this was trying to be a separation ten ("Everything You Know Is Wrong", "Unanswered Prayers", "Why Georgia", "Can't Stay Here") or a Halloween ten ("Whiter Shade of Pale", "So Cruel", "Already Dead"), but either way it sure is scary.

* Acts I've seen live

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I'll Think About It

In perusing lots and lots of Craigslist ads looking for places to live, I have come across some really choice ads including a guy who's looking for a live-in girlfriend for free rent or the guy that is very up front about how he is a nudist. However, when I came across this one, I was completely floored:

Share a large house with a pornographer, just you and me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Dealio

GB and I have separated. Since his job is in Santa Barbara, it made sense for him to stay there. The corollary to that is since my job is in Austin, it made sense for me to come here, not even pointing out that the cost of living for finding a cheap place to rent is way more reasonable in Austin than in Santa Barbara.

The short version is this: We're working on our relationship. Separation is not a marital death sentence. I'm fine, and I don't really want to discuss it any further at this time. Thanks for your concern.

Now that the albatross is flying (or some other mangling of that heavy metaphor), I plan to get back to regular posting of various things, including the people I have interviewed to select a room to rent and strange stories from riding the bus to work each day. I just love to people watch.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Random Ten

Here is what I got today from iTunes.

"Disappointment" by The Cranberries on No Need to Argue
"Concerto No. 1 in E Flat" by Franz Liszt on Favourite Piano Concertos
"If I Stand" by Rich Mullins* on Songs
"Romeo And Juliet" by Dire Straits on Money For Nothing
"Hymn" by Jars of Clay* on Much Afraid
"The Howling" by Rich Mullins* on The World As Best As I Remember It, Vol. 1
"Oh My God" by Jars of Clay* on Good Monsters
"The Breaks" by Rich Mullins* on Brother's Keeper
"Mind Games" by John Lennon on The John Lennon Collection
"I Just Shot John Lennon" by The Cranberries on To The Faithful Departed

I could talk about how many duplicated artists I had this week and how iTunes managed not to give me any of those duplicates from the same album. Or I could talk about the Rich Mullins/Jars of Clay festival that appears in the middle of the random ten. However, I would prefer to point your attention to the end of the list, where I get a song from John Lennon followed by a song about shooting John Lennon. Talk about Mind Games.

* Acts I've seen live

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Change of Venue

I have been purposely silent on the blog for anything too meaty, because I'm not really ready to talk about it. However, I am in Austin instead of Santa Barbara. Just thought I'd throw that in there. There may be more later, but for now, I'll be limiting the blog to non-personal-type posts.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Random Ten

Here's what I randomly loaded up today.

"My World View" by Audio Adrenaline on Don't Censor Me
"All You Need Is Rock 'n' Roll" by White Lion on Pride
"Nothing Tonight" by Trout Fishing In America* on Truth Is Stranger Than Fishin'
"You Get Me" by ZOEgirl on Different Kind of Free
"Your Love Alone Is Not Enough" by Manic Street Preachers on Send Away the Tigers
"We Live" by Superchick on Beauty from Pain
"She's My Girl" by Tom Lehrer on Song & More Songs
"Mumuki" by Yo-Yo Ma on Soul of the Tango
"Prom Night in Pig Town" by Trout Fishing In America* on Truth Is Stranger Than Fishin'
"Picture Perfect" by Michael W. Smith* on Change Your World

This was a fun pile of songs. There were a lot of favorite tracks off their respective albums, and some of my favorite songs of all time in the Superchick and Audio Adrenaline picks. There was also a ton of energy in this selection, so it was an appropriate set of selections that iTunes gave me. Do you think they make time of day a parameter in their randomization algorithm?

* Acts I've seen live

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Foundation, Befores And Afters

I want to give you some before and after shots of different parts of the perimeter of the house. This set is from the back corner, shot from under the house.



Then, I have some shots from outside the laundry room. This is the current entrance to the basement, so some of this concrete (like the step) was there before.



And here's the side of the house where you used to be able to see roots growing into the base of our world. This was the part of the foundation that convinced me that we had to do something sooner rather than later.



Here is the same part of the house, but from underneath, instead.



Then there's the basement room that will become the office.



In case you can't tell, we are very pleased with the result. And now...Project Office!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Foundation Project Complete

Well, I didn't do a very good job of chronicling the foundation job as it was being done, but I did take pictures. Now that the project is done (Yes!! It's DONE!!!), I wanted to show you how it turned out.

First, though, I have to say that these contractors were amazing. I didn't know anything about foundations before (except that ours was bad), but they were happy to drop everything and learn me in the ways of French drains and footings and concrete forms and soil investigation and much more. My questions had to be terribly annoying and elementary, but I felt a lot better about the end result, mostly just because I was involved along the way. I couldn't believe how great they were about fielding the random additional requests we made along the way with no additional charge. The teams (we had two during the duration of the project) kept the area clean and picked up every day before they left. I even had a party in the midst of the construction, and no one would have even known. If anyone needs foundation work in the Santa Barbara area, please contact Joe at EGR. By all means necessary. It won't be your cheapest quote, but the work will be of the highest quality. I even had to have a gas line moved in the middle of the project, and the contractor who did that work (who we've worked with enough to trust, as well) made an unsolicited comment about what a great foundation they were putting in for us. He wanted to know who they were for future work he might need done on other of his projects. Needless to say, I have volunteered to be a reference for them.

And now, on to the project recap! First, they supported the house on stilts using two-by-fours and bottle jacks. This was incredibly interesting to me, since I've worked with these kinds of jacks previously. I knew they were cool, but I wouldn't have guessed they could hold up a two-story house. Once the house was stabilized, they jackhammered the old foundation out of the way, and dug a more even perimeter. The new perimeter met the requirements of the soils engineering review, as it got down to original packed down stuff. Coming from Texas, where bedrock is at 4-6 feet, it was weird to hear they just wanted it to be on original dirt, and not all the way down to bedrock. During this period of time, the house was suspended on the jacks and temporary support beams. It was surreal looking at these ditches in the ground with house above it. All the removed dirt and rocks from under the house went into this 15-foot-by-9-foot-by-4-foot dumpster. There were three completely full dumpsters for the first half of the new foundation, and after that I lost track. Since we also had some digging done in preparation for a future basement, my guess is something in the neighborhood of ten dumpsters were filled in the completion of this project. Then, it was concrete day! Forms had been put in place and the dark gray stuff was oozed into place to dry and make the switch from being something that had to be supported to something that was doing the supporting. I just can't tell you enough how big a project this was, and what a big difference it made in our comfort with the stability of the house. Now we can go work on fun projects that are more exciting, visually.

I also want to give you some before and after pictures, but I think I'll put those in future posts as I can get to them.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Did She Really Say That?

I just watched Sarah Palin's speech from her rally in Ohio today.

At the 4:40 mark of the video, she asserts the following:

"Our campaign is about the future. It's about these kids who are here today. And, you know, our opponents...Our opponents, for a campaign that likes to talk a lot about the future, our opponents, sure really, talk a lot about the past and point fingers backwards. And they look to the past, because that is where you can find blame. But we join you in looking to the future, because that's where you find the solutions."

I understand how something like this could play well. No one wants to be involved in the blame game. It could also be a little bit of a veiled attack on how there's not a lot of voting history in Obama's record to compare to the long history that one can look at with McCain. However, at the 12:55 mark of this video, she says:

"It was just a couple of weeks ago that Joe Biden said to a voter that he's against clean coal. And Barack Obama has opposed offshore drilling. Now, you heard the other night in John McCain and Barack Obama's debate kind of a flip-flop on that, but you gotta go with someone's record, where they'd been in the past to let you know where they're gonna lead you."

So, let me get this straight. Your history is off-limits as a blame-game tactic, but you have to look at your opponent's record as a predictor of future actions. While I completely agree with the latter position, you can't have it both ways. Either we're looking forward or we're learning about how these people will lead us? I really don't see how those are mutually exclusive methods for looking at a race.

One other thing, when you're trying to oust the incumbent political party from the White House, blame seems a terribly effective tactic.

Friday Random Ten

This week, here was my lineup:

"Work Hard" by Depeche Mode on People Are People
"I Got The Joy" by Carman on The Absolute Best
"A City on a Hill" by Patsy Moore on Regarding the Human Condition
"When a Man Loves a Woman" by Bette Midler on Experience the Divine
"Frank's 2000" TV" by Weird Al Yankovic* on Alapalooza
"Blame It On Me" by Barenaked Ladies on Gordon
"Manhattan Skyline" by David Shire on Saturday Night Fever
"How Can I Tell You" by Cat Stevens on Footsteps in the Dark
"Ridiculous Rose" by Shel Silverstein on Where The Sidewalk Ends
"Wait" by White Lion on POP 83 Gold & Platinum Volumn 5

This was one messed up random ten. Who knew that such a mess of bad tracks existed in my collection? I find myself trying to blame other people for the crap in my iTunes, and then I realize most of it is my own fault. I thing I see the possibility of a purge of the bad music in my future.

That said, there was one decent track in there. Maybe I can just blame the ruining of a perfectly bad random ten on the Barenaked Ladies. Well, I guess I have to blame Mr. Silverstein, too, because who can't appreciate this poem?
Her mama said, "Don't eat with your fingers!"
"Okay," said Ridiculous Rose.
So she ate with her toes.

* Acts I've seen live

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Reverse Vampire

This week, I went down to the blood center and donated a pint. So the title of this post refers to me. I don't need no stinking blood!

I haven't given blood for a long time. I've always done it when there was a blood drive being done where I was, but I hadn't sought it out since I sold plasma to supplement my grader's income in college. Recently, I decided it was high time to work towards completing that first gallon (two more to go). I found where to donate here in town, then proceeded to catch the flu. Once I'd been better for a while, I was ready to get in and lose some blood.

The process is quick, taking longer to determine if I'm healthy enough to give blood than to actually drain it out. Afterwards, as I drank orange juice and ate crackers, I found myself chatting with the phlebotomist about why more people don't donate blood. Since only 3% of eligible adults in the US actually donate, I just can't accept that all those people are needle-phobes. Apparently, most people don't donate because they've simply never been asked to do it.

So, I'm curious -- do you donate or don't you? If not, why not?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Mother-in-Law Visit Number Two

This weekend we were visited by my mother-in-law, her husband, and another couple they were traveling with. They were here just two days and stayed in a hotel instead of with us, and it made the whole visit so much more pleasant.

There were still comments I didn't know what to do with. I like to have ready-made retorts to use, because I'm not particularly witty in an off-the-cuff conversation. In elementary school, people would call me the standard "four eyes" and I would let them know I have six, which usually took them aback and shut them up. But do you answer "You're too skinny," with "Thank you" or "I really do eat, I promise"? It's one of those comments like another one I got recently -- "You were too young when you got married." If you leave out the "too" in either comment, it becomes non-confrontational and almost a compliment. With it, though, it carries a judgmental tone of "what could you possibly be thinking" that I just don't get the point of. Oh well, that's just one of those things I'll likely have to deal with the rest of my life. There's a good chance I'll stay thin and I'm pretty sure I'll be married for a long while. Any witty comebacks I can put in the back of my mind for future occurrences of these phrases?

Other than the random comment about my size repeated five times in two days that led to awkward silences on my part, it was a really nice visit. Saturday night I made onion tartlets followed by salad with homemade basalmic vinagrette culminating in pork tenderloin with skillet roasted new potatoes and a roasted corn/leek/bell pepper succotash-y thing, which was all really good. I'm not sure what sort of crazy confidence comes into play to make a strict recipe-follower like me decide to make something new and untested and straight out of my brain for guests, but I'm glad it worked out.

Anyway, I was just glad that this visit went so much better, and didn't make me contemplate murder or the ripping out of hair. Maybe there's hope for me, yet.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tiptoe Through The Tulips: Dyckia tuberosa

This spiky plant with the bright orange flowers took me an inordinate amount of time to identify. See, someone had told me it was in the Puya family, but that turned out to be a dead end to go down, and had me waste a lot of time looking for a plant I don't have. The bloom has lasted a long time, so that helps with giving me more ways to look for this thing. The flower is on about a two- to three-foot stalk, and the ants really like the flowers, so that's what you see in this closeup. Being vaguely related to the pineapple, I guess it's sweet and tasty to them. Be careful if you're trying to weed near this plant, since the spiked leaves have additional spikes along the leaf edges, making it extra scary and cruel to gardening hands. I've gotten several cat-scratch-looking cuts from getting too close to this particular plant. Finally, I kinda like this out of focus look at the flower from above. No real reason, since you can't see anything to identify it from. But, it gives an idea of just how far the bloom ends up being from the spiky leaves at the bottom.

Monday, October 06, 2008

One Less Thing to Worry About

I got some test results back, and I am not a carrier of any of the 23 types of cycstic fibrosis they can test for. While they still give me a 1/16 chance of passing it to my offspring based purely on the fact that it's in the family, I'm not that worried. My aunt had everyone in her family tested when my cousin was diagnosed and she's comfortable with the results that her other two kids aren't carriers. I'm guessing they haven't decided to stop testing for certain types of the gene, so if she was comfortable they tested for the right variety, then I am too.

Now we can go try to conceive with reckless abandon, I guess. We can just worry about the eight million other things that could go wrong, instead.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Random Ten

This week, I got the following from my randomized iTunes playlist.

"On A Night Like This" by Buckwheat Zydeco on Zydeco Essentials
"The Dream of the Dolphin" by Enigma on The Cross of Changes
"Piano Sonata #8 in C Minor" by Beethoven, performed by Wilhelm Kempff
"You Don't Bring Me Flowers" by Neil Diamond on The Essential Neil Diamond
"Blind Man" by Lynn August on Zydeco Essentials
"78 Eastonwood Green" by Rich Mullins* on A Liturgy, A Legacy & A Ragamuffin Band
"The Old Songs" by Joe Jackson on Laughter & Lust
"Snow Day" by Trout Fishing In America* on Merry Fishes to All
"Who's on the Lord's Side" by Petra on Unseen Power
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" by Mannheim Steamroller on Christmas Live

I got a surprisingly large number of instrumentals -- the Enigma, the Beethoven Sonata, the Rich Mullins' entry, and the Mannheim Steamroller. So, with half of my random ten having nothing more to say, I guess I don't either.

* Acts I've seen live