Monday, July 30

Mmm .. doughnut !

Although it was a Dark And Stormy Day yesterday, I moseyed about 6 miles south to take in the conversion of a local 7-Eleven to a Kwik-E-Mart. This is proving to be quite a marketing coup, as even the rain couldn't keep the crowd away from the Squishees; Krusty-O cereal; Buzz Cola and (of course!) the pink Sprinklicious doughnuts.

Outside, a local radio station (Mix 102.9) has setup a Simpsons couch complete with the main characters, where you could have your own photo taken, provided you had a camera of your own handy.

Inside, the clerks were wearing green uniforms and one of them had an [Apu] nametag. Sadly, they were completely SOLD OUT of Krusty-O's and Buzz Cola, although Squishees and Pink Doughnuts were still available. But not for long.

Only 12 locations across the country were converted, and apparently only for the month of July (when The Simpsons Movie debuts). I suspect one of their competitors (Circle K, etc) could have come up with this idea first, but they didn't. Kudos, 7-Eleven.

Sunday, July 29

changing another shopping habit

Wow. Very cool .. I may never shop at Home Depot, ever again. Thanks for giving me a good reason to pull the plug on them, Lowes.
Lowe's pulls advertising from O'Reilly show.
Everybody Knows™ that the last time Bill Orally at Faux Noise (kudos to Keith Olbermann) told the truth was when Adam & Eve were riding their dinosaurs to church.

Meanwhile, Texas lawyers are apparently Licking Their Chops after the 2007 Texas Legislative Session. Why? Concerns Abound Over New Religious Laws Passed By Legislature

Saturday, July 28

a drop a day keeps the doctor away

Partial good news from my ophthalmologist yesterday: the prescription eyedrops I've been using since my last visit had the desired effect. In my right (control) eye, my intraocular pressure [IOP] has fallen into an acceptable range (10-21 mm Hg).

I've been seeing this doctor for 2+ years and my IOP's never been below 24 mm Hg, and had risen to 26 mm Hg in my right eye (the one where the cataract is developing). So, he asked me to try one drop/day of Travatan Z. It worked; in 30 days my IOP dropped to 18/19 mm Hg (left/right). Presumably, continued use of these Magic Beans will bring it closer to the middle of that range (15.5 mm Hg if my math skills are intact). Noteworthy: while I only applied drops to one eye, my IOP fell in both eyes; the doctor explained that this proximity effect (he had some Fancy Medical Term for it, but I fërgôt) is not unusual.

The bad news is that I now have Yet Another Prescription and will have to add this to The List. Now that my IOP's controlled, the next step is to contact a cataract specialist (they're not open 24x7) and undergo an evaluation. {sigh} Getting old isn't as much fun as getting young.

Saturday, July 21

Texas 34, Kansas 2

Entertaining spot today on the Red State Rabble blog: Somewhere in Texas. Indeed, it's been my experience that Kansas is waaaay behind Texas when it comes to religious zealots making educational policy.

Don McLeroy's appointment is just another example of Governor PrettyHair's pandering to His base. Kansas is starting to look saner and saner all the time.

Friday, July 20


I got an email from the local blood bank, who said their supply of my blood type (O+) was low, and they needed donors. So, I waddled over at 6:30pm and gave them a unit (my last prior donation was 3 May). Nurse One missed my left arm vein, whispered something about "hematoma" to Nurse Two, at which point Nurse Two took over, switched to the right arm and proceeded. 15 minutes later (not even enough time to catch up on one podcast) I was out of there. Nurse One had disappeared.

I didn't notice anything unusual on the drive home, but about 3 hours later started feeling überwüzy* when walking|standing and decided to crash early. This morning, I'm still feeling the effects a little, so will take it easy (I usually spend my Fridays operating heavy machinery).
* take that, Google whackers!
Aside: they always have some article of (promotional) clothing when leaving - sometimes a ballcap but most often, a white T-shirt. Yesterday, it was a brown T-shirt .. whazzup wit dat?

Monday, July 16

10 years, $141

My car's back from The Body Shop and looks as good as new, mostly. There's a scrape on the rear (plastic) bumper that I don't remember .. it could've been there before The Tragic Event (3/7/7). My cost was the same either way (the deductible) but I noticed the cost rose from $3100->$4400. Good thing it was only the door!

Since Paula was in town, I didn't need to rent a car while mine was being repaired. Why rent a vehicle when it'll be parked the bulk of the time? That changed yesterday, when I decided to slay two birds with one stone. There's been a Herd of aluminum cans in my carport which have Bred over the past ten years or so, and become a Sentient Life Form. It was (past) time for them to GO.

So, I rented a (Dodge Ram) pickup (about 1pm) and proceeded to load bags full of cans into the bed until the pile became One Less Than Unwieldy. It was then time to take them to the recycler in Dallas - about 15 miles 20 minutes away. Amazingly, it netted to 177 pounds of cans (and at 65 cents/pound became $113.75 in my pocket - including a couple $50 bills and one $2 note).
The scene at the Dallas recycler was amusing - about a dozen vehicles unloading various metals - including several suspicious characters selling copper (it's become a high theft item in the past few years). For some metals they asked for photo ID but waved me off when I offered mine.

Easily 80% of the workers and customers were Latino, so there was a fair amount of gesturing but nothing difficult.
Needless to say, I stopped at the nearby Dallas Farmer's Market on the way out of downtown, and got a small supply of fresh fruit, which I'm now happily consuming.

Alas, the place closed at 5pm and it was already nearly 4 .. so no time to bag and schlep the remainder - it'll wait until morning. Today, I decided to locate a different recycler and picked one in Garland. The last five bags were Problem Children - those bags were the oldest (dating to the Pleistocene era) and had begun to decompose - they broke upon lifting. I rebagged those cans and started the journey. Garland only paid 60 cents a pound, but the drive was easier (no freeways). These were Good Ole Texas Boys (with a trifle of An Attitude) .. very different than the day before.

Bottom line total for two trips: $141 for 223 pounds of cans -- and there are now NONE on the property! When I returned the pickup (11am-ish) I paid them ~$60 so actually made money on the exchange, and it only took ten years of can collecting.

Friday, July 6

UPS: $45. UPS battery: $1030

Tuesday afternoon, I bought a very expensive UPS battery, although that wasn't the plan.

After the Nth power outage this year (queue thunderbolt) I decided to replace the battery in one of my Uninterruptable Power Supplies, since it was only giving me about 5 minutes before shutting down the system (the others give me at least 15 minutes each). So, deciding that the light rain wasn't bad, I proceeded to drive west on Beltline and fetch a replacement from Batteries+. Big mistake. I should've gone to any of their other locations. Why?

Well, at the same time I was driving (35 mph limit area) so was one of those F250s pulling a welded-metal gardener's cart. He's in the left lane, I in the center, and .. well .. BOOM! My driver's side window just exploded - no warning. I can only guess that his Gardener's Cart veered into my lane, or he opened fire. Fortunately (tempered safety glass) I wasn't cut or injured, but
  1. my car door was gored;
  2. my mirror destroyed; and
  3. my window was GONE
Shaken, I tried to find a parking lot to pull into, hoping that the gardener would follow. He didn't. Technically, this is what's called a Hit And Run. The next day, I called the Addison TX Police, hoping there may have been a witness who got his license number - no such luck.

So, being only about 2 blocks from the battery store, I collected my nerves and got that %^&* replacement battery ($30). It was then that I opened the door and saw the 6-inch gash in the side of my car, and realized that this could've been much worse. Being 5pm on the day before a holiday, I had to wait two days to see the repair guys (I'd already called my insurance company to obtain The Procedure). I have a $1000 deductible, so that'll be my out-of-pocket cost. My last accident was in 1992 when I lived in Los Angeles, so I've forgotten some of the Subtle Nuances in the ensuing 15 years.

The repair guys say this will take 10 days and ~$3100 to fix. Happy happy joy joy?

Wednesday, July 4

raise rock. drop. document effect.

A few weeks ago, I checked the US Department of Energy's Insulation Fact Sheet and noted that I should have R-38 insulation in my attic, based on 3 factors:
  1. new or existing;
  2. type of heat (oil, gas, electric);
  3. location, location, location
A quick measure showed that what's up there was only R-16 or so and using recent-technology loose-fill (blown-in) insulation would be the best.

Playing with the Insulation Calculator was educational. For my ZIP code, they recommend R-38 in attics where the fuel is natural gas; oil or a heat pump but R-49 for electric or LPG [Liquid Propane]. For all new construction, they're recommending R-49.

The contractor said it would take one day to "install" the additional insulation, and they were finished on schedule yesterday. Now I can wait for my energy costs to drop like a rock, right?

Tuesday, July 3

Conflict of Interest

"Bush wipes away Libby's prison sentence"
There's something very wrong with a system where one branch (the executive) can pardon commute the sentence of anyone who commits a crime dictated by that same branch.
"Go ahead, lie to Congress. We'll pardon you. We ARE the law."
Sure, it's been done before by prior POTUS - (Republican) Gerald Ford pardoning (Republican) Richard Nixon comes to mind, where the employee pardons his former boss. While The Mob was clamoring for Nixon's head on a pole, Ford made sure that we got none of that, and Nixon was free to write books and make speeches to anyone who would listen. It still doesn't make it right.

I wasn't surprised when President Quagmire made certain that Cheney's Loyal Servant (Scooter Libby) wouldn't spend so much as an hour in prison, for his treasonous act of lying to Congress. In earlier times, Libby would've simply been hanged, but under the (über corrupt) Bush Regime, his "sentence" amounts to "Freedom without Remorse". I'm sure that Cheney made sure that Libby knows one of the requirements of The Pardon is that he cannot write a tell-all book or even speak about this, to anyone.

Footnote: I thought about titling this entry "The fox guarding the hen house" but suspect many of you wouldn't get the meaning, especially since Elvis has already left the barn.

Sunday, July 1

Mission Accomplished, The Sequel

According to Associated Press:
Okay, let me get this straight: in the past two months, 3571 people were killed in Baghdad, and we're supposed to accept this as a SUCCESS?

Compare this to the number of Americans executed by al-Qaeda on 9/11: 2819. Also note that Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks (unless you're one of those IDiots who thinks the Earth is 6,099 years old, in which case you're already a lost cause).

Lately (to amuse myself) I've been telling people that it's obvious (!) that Dinosaurs Never Did Roam The Earth - those (often large) bones were placed there by A Creator as a way to test the faithful! Most seem to accept that. Oy.