Sunday, December 27, 2009

XM AND ME

Once there were two satellite companies: XM and Sirius. Despite blowing through mega millions, possibly billions, they never really caught on. (Recently they merged.) This is to say that the audience of all of the Sat channels added together at any minute don't equal one NYC radio station at that same minute.

My car 'came' with a free satellite radio trial. I had to check it out. WEAK program choices, weak talent, weak imaging, poor fidelity, too many bad songs! What's the point? And you have to PAY for this?

One sidebar: the traffic in real time was helpful, or would be, if I drove more distance. Apparently the traffic reports are overlaid on the navigation map. That's cool. But I wouldn't pay for it.

There are WAY too many ROCK channels, too many RAP channels, too many TALK channels, and not nearly enough music niching. (Maybe they know how few listen.) Even so, seems there are several mainstream formats completely ignored.)

For some reason I haven't been able to fathom, the radio comes on when the car starts even though I don't want it to, and have attempted various smooth moves to defeat it. To this moment, though, the radio is winning.

However, once on, I can turn it off, and sometimes do. But the other night, while driving to a birthday dinner (mine, not the car's and certainly not XM's), with the radio off, all of a sudden there was what sounded like an electronic sneeze. "Was that you?" I asked Terri. "Not me," she said. The mystery faded into the "things you can't figure out" cloud that follows life around.

I did notice WEATHER/EMERGENCY on one of the several electro-readouts. And snow was indeed blowing blizzard conditions, but far, far north of us. I let it pass.

The next day, When I got into the car and started it, there was (finally) no radio - but there was a message on the screen... if you wish to subscribe, call this number. AHHH. The 'sneeze' was the wet goodbye.

GOODBYE XM. Goodbye, what I term, the Big Satellite Scam.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

CHRISTMAS MEMORIES

...the smell of felt (green felt) which was tacked to the plywood upon which my Lionel railroad circled the tree.

... the artifically lonesome sound of the fake train whistle.

... the smell of tablet-in-the-smokestack "smoke" from the steam engine circling the tree.

... hearing "Santa" curse as he'd apparently shock himself 'wiring' Plasticville lights on the plywood.

... running my trains way too fast for the curves...

... getting a second engine, a Santa Fe diesel.

... egg nog - kinda like ice cream melt, sorta.

... family smells: turkey cooking, after shave, whiskey, pine, the whatever-it-is, it's uniquely grandma.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

THE CHRISTMAS LETTER

My annual Christmas letter has been mailed to those for whom we had addresses, and has arrived in San Diego and Los Angeles, in Maine, and Detroit, so it's out. This brings me to posting here in case you want to see it and aren't on the list, which, by the way, has little to do with if you have been naught or nice.

CHRISTMAS LETTER 2009

Lest we forget, the whole rationale for this letter is to spoof other letters. I have to find spoofage, so forgive me if I go dumpster diving.

The latter part of the year brought some excitement as I fell while mowing grass and mowed my toes. After surgery, they are still attached. Thankfully, Terri has hidden the hospital bills from me. I write this at T (toes) minus-7 weeks and am still sporting metal pins sticking from two toes. You can empathize – just shove a stapler into your sandal. Or maybe some Christmas Tree ball hook hangers in your socks. Terri’s car was also hospitalized in an unrelated series of mechanical breakdowns. It is now whereabouts unknown since we traded it in just as soon as it stopped smoking. At almost the same time (and actually planned) I too got a new car which I now use for physics experiments because no matter where I park it, it seems to magnetically attract other cars driven by people enjoying a meal at the wheel while on cell phone. Both cars are smarter than we are. Together there are over 600 pages of owners’ manuals. Driving mine home from the dealer just this week, I thought the navigation voice was going to throw a lit cigarette lighter onto my lap since I disobeyed the instruction. “Turn left. Turn left. Turn left NOW. Make a U-turn, then a U-turn. Make a U-turn and a U-turn NOW. NOW!” Both of us have already endured the misery of Our First Squashed Bug On The Windshield. Each bug was carrying a nasty and large depreciation notice. Neither car requires the key to start it – you just need to have it in your pocket. That seems like a convenience but every time you go near the car you start to fumble in the air for the phantom key. It feels wrong. Yes you can USE the key but why? The car senses you. It adjusts everything the way you like it. You push a button and it starts. My car stores maintenance issues IN THE wireless KEY which isn’t even plugged in! Oh – and the cars ‘learn’ how you drive and adapt to it so they can disapprove later.

The voice navigation system and I had words. “Navigation on” beep “Navigation” “Cancel...” “Say State” “Cancel, No I don’t want... “Kansas” “I didn’t...” “City? Say City?” C’mon!” “Common, Kansas. Say street name” “HOLD ON” “Holdon Street. Say Number...” Plus I think it has an attitude. Kinda snotty, almost clipped, impatient – a female who would be played by Tilda Swinton. This is nothing like the nice British lady who spoke from Terri’s Jaguar nav. Her new nav sounds like she’s a cultured twenty something living with her rich parents in Shanghai after education at Oxford. When recording the prompts, she was wearing her hair down, cascading over the shoulders of her tight-fitting white blouse. And.... where was I just now?

Austin is growing, much like Minneapolis did while we were there. We can drive down almost any road and as we shout over the navigation system voice, can say, “that’s new, that’s new, that’s new!” The economy HAS affected Austin but surveys insist that the economy here is still vibrant. Happily, music still rules! It’s amazing how much good live music there is. We remain in a several year-long drought (which did impact the whistle-fest.) Recent rains have slaked the thirst of some of the plants and trees though the big lake remains about 20 feet below full. El Nino is supposed to bring us extra moisture this winter. Personally, I am certain that has nothing to do with it – our cars will make that happen. We expect it to rain mud.

Now that I have retired from pushing the lawnmower, you should see the guys we hired! They have an amazing mower the operator stands on - it goes very very fast and does ballet! moves – turning on a dime. Dancing With the Stars could have a spinoff: Dancing with the Standonit Mower. Or Line Dancing with Weedwackers.

People seem to comment on the critters we have had visit us – this year I got more aggressive as some beasts were digging up our shrubs. The tally: 3 Armadillos, 1 Raccoon, 1 cat. Just down the street a Bobcat was sighted; and yes, a rattlesnake of some size, said to have survived a Lexus SUV riding back and forth over it. You have to wonder what THEIR navigation system thought about that?

At this writing, Sarah Palin is just beginning her book tour. While she is starring in the Psycho shower scene with John McCain’s campaign wet staff, I saw McCain slather on some be-nice unguent and refer to her as a ‘good friend.’ Huh? He DID look like an old bald weasel when he said it. If she ever gets into real power I fear the rest of the world will drop us from their fantasy-world-government league.

This seems to have been the year when the whining and crying reached out and touched us all – the assault was everywhere. I saw John Stewart asking, “Why now?” He’s right. It came upon us, cresting like a Tsnunami – Obama, Healthcare, The Wars, H1N1 shots, the stimulus package – not the 24 hour Cialis – the other stimulus package. Here’s my take: I blame the media. If there was no publicity, a lot of this stuff would die on the vine. It’s like a mass frenzy of mob-thought (you know: the mob IQ drops, responsibility is lost in the cushion of numbers.) Maybe people are that frustrated. Hey, 665 MILLION people in India HAVE NO TOILETS. Look it up. That’s frustration. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the U S of A could befriend millions of citizens of the world with toilet donations? Porcelain diplomacy! That’d be the ticket. Imagine Hillary in Rashanamanapour, making the first ceremonial squat! Villagers would claw through crowds, just to get to touch her polyester pant suit.

We could trade toilet paper for oil. Or, we could say, “Hey, wipe out that field of poppies and we’ll deliver a dozen spanking new construction toilets...”

I don’t want to bring down the tone of this letter, but the world is supposed to end in 2012. At least you won’t feel singled out. Personally, I don’t believe the gloom and doomers, or that the Mayans really meant their calendar to go on forever. But some do – I have a friend who lives on a boat who has stockpiled hundreds of cans of Dinty Moore and Chef Boy R Dee. He’s anticipating chaos. Better hope he doesn’t drop the can opener overboard.

Terri has dropped the whole Christmas Card choice and purchase on me. I am drawn to cards which are on both ends of any conceivable scale – I like the abstract ones but also the homey-glitter-in-the-snow-on-the-pines cards. Limping into the Hallmark store, though, is not so much a fave. I feel this is a world in which I don’t belong. It’s like Stepford – smiling sales people with strange eyes. Here’s a rack of talking ornaments. Here’s a box of Orna-Mints! Here’s a simulated crystal keepsake onto which you can have engraved the height of your child... each year’s growth can be placed at the approximate true height on your forever pre-lit tree with 400 poke your eye out branches. So know that this beautiful accompanying card was purchased with great care by a man holding his breath to avoid the potpourri and scented candle chemichristmas.

We wish you cheer and peace.

Bob and Terri Wood


www.big-texas-mortgages.com
www.woodsgoods.blogspot.com
www.bobwoodvoiceovers.com
www.photographerbobwood.com

Sunday, December 13, 2009

IBUPROFEN WITHDRAWAL?

Per the doc, I ran a two week course of Ibuprofen for pain management. Stopped last night. Holy Moly, the pain is back. I had no idea that stuff worked as well as it did!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

CHRISTMAS CARDS

This year I bought Hallmark Christmas cards. Nice, but probably overpriced - about a buck a piece. If someone could come up with an internet app for Christmas cards - and I know there are ecards out there but I mean a really good multi-card automated system, I think they'd make out like a bandit.

Please give me a piece of your new riches if you develop this idea.

Think of it - database management... no stamps... no cut tongues licking the darn envelopes.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

BUYING CHRISTMAS CARDS

I know there are so many other important things 'out there' in the real world - The White House party gatecrashers (or is it gatecasheriners?), Tiger Woods and his Holly Jolly Christmas (this just in - he thought the fire hydrant was a garden gnome and we know how evil THEY are...)

But my global reach extends only so far. Today I bought our new supply of Christmas cards. They were on sale, and the selection was surprisingly limited - this - on December First? I didn't want the smiling Santa Face which I later found (35 cards for $3) at the food market. Instead I chose a nice sort of abstract design that looked good to me and seemed to say SNOWFLAKE Christmas - an ideal image. We rarely get snow this far south, but it's fun to watch the cars in Dallas slide into one another in the snow. They run that video on local TV in a loop instead of the Yule Log.

And where do you get Christmas cards? At the local HALLMARK GOLD STORE OF LOVELY CRAP, of course. The store has a scent. The scent is designed to make you think warm thoughts of gramma, as she removes a freshly baked batch of gingerbread to go with her freshly whipped cream. This is to loosen your wallet. It apparently works as I got out with $97 worth (worth?) of cards, one of the few selections where I could get them all in the same design.

There are figurines which greet you from their holy altars of Shelves, record your own message cards (ah - tech!), cards for every incarnation of relationships: "Sure we're divorced but at this special time of the year I wish your tree tinsel gets caught in the vacuum cleaner you stole when we split our stuff up - there was NO court order on that - anyway I hope the tinsel jams the motor, starts a fire, and burns down my half of your damn house." Harsh, but admittedly seasonal.

Or:

"Psychologists say the holiday season is one full of depression. I was going to send you a more expensive card but on my way to the store I saw a rag-tag kid standing shivering in the snow in front of the coffee shop. So instead of buying you a better card, I treated myself to some hot chocolate, to cheer myself up."
Season Greetings.

Or:

"Why your card is not sealed: I found an online story of how some workers at the Hallmark glue factory had H1N1 flu and may have coughed into the vat of glue. So what would YOU do? Merry Fluless Christmas."

We've lost addresses over the travels and also some people have apparently removed us from cherished status to aw, let's just stop this back and forth once a year because we'll never see them again anyway and who cares - Bob is odd and his stupid Christmas letter... is just hard to follow.

Well, the letter is done, though Terri has to edit or scowl still. The cards are in house. The list has been printed. Now if you don't get one, it's because we haven't heard from you in a long time - the statute of card exchange limitations is two Christmases, I believe.

I will publish the Christmas letter for those who want to see what they missed, after all the cards have been sent and would have been received if the temp posties can find your address.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

DOMESTIC MYSTERY

Two flowerpot sit 40 feet from each other, flanking the pool. It's about 8 feet to the ground. One has several inches of water at the top of the pot, which has always easily drained in the past. The saucer is dry but it has a hole for water to escape, assuming it makes it to the bottom of the pot, which it always has.

The other pot is dry.

We don't think it rained. If it did, overnight, how did one pot get wet the other not? By the way, the seat cushions about 6 feet from the pot in question, are dry.

- Why one pot? Incidentally, both pots have identical soil.
- How?
- Cue the X files theme.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

WIRELESS TOES

You bet! No bluetooth here. Yesterday the doc removed the wires from my toes. The wires were longer in real life than in my imagination. Removal did not hurt - I don't know if the nerves nearby were lost in the accident or what, but I can write I am really happy they are GONE!!! Why? So I can begin the process of reverting to shoes.

Doc said I can expect some pain, and indeed I do. I can tell from the little pulses of discomfort which periodically have visited, that putting weight - after 8 weeks - on it and the surrounding tissue, blown out and healing bones, will hurt.

On the other hand, he pulled off the toenail and I didn't feel it. So clearly some nerves are there, some not. I was told 2 of 4 were left. I was also told this was one of the 'miracle' saves the doc has performed this year. I don't think he was bragging.

So literally, it's now the next step.

Friday, November 20, 2009

THE CHRISTMAS LETTER

At Christmas I used to send out spoofs of things - KEEP THIS TICKET tickets, balloons, glitter - accompanied by stories I'd make up to justify the nonsense (like: The LEGEND OF THE LITTLE BALLOON BOY.) At some point this morphed into The Christmas Letter which was a spoof of the 'brag' or 'keeping in touch' letters you often receive from old friends at holiday time.

Terri tries to keep me in check. But I really want to loon out creatively. When I write about fake family members, she, or her sense of humor, asks for an edit.

This year, I am stumped. What I wrote so far is too typical.

What if Santa was a Vampire?

I know. Over the top. Sorry. Again.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

NEW CAR

BEFORE

I am just 20 minutes away from going to pickup my new car. No doubt pictures will follow... I am excited and it will be a pleasure to get out from under the 92,000 mile 'doubts' which, like a tiny oil leak, make me wonder what is ready to explode or fail.

Over the course of a car you get used to these things (that clicking in the dash that seems to be a shorted cycle/uncycle thing in the heating system) - that engine noise, the judder when backing up or turning sharply, the broken latch, the door you have to try to open twice. It adds up and stresses a bit. Under warranty and new, whatever it is, is fixed free and will not be ignored.

I have half-expected my AC to quit too - not an issue now that it's fall, but quite the deal (and EXPENSIVE) in the summer... why? Because it'd be so darn impossible to ignore!

So, in an hour I will be at the dealer and done with my ol' A6... it's been good to me and I'll miss it, sorta, but the NEW Supercharged A6 will endear itself, no doubt.

AFTER

Nice ride! There's a lot to get used to but I am already loving the Supercharged 300HP engine. It steps OUT and I really wanted that! Overall, the new A6 is comfortable and equipped (Prestige package) with almost anything I can think of. It doesn't have the radar that actually takes over if you are about to crash but I'm not ready for that degree of robot. This does have voice command, and that could be fun.

As I pulled out of the dealer's lot, my old car was sitting there looking kind of dumpy - I hadn't washed it - why? If a car could look forlorn, that's what I saw in my last glimpse. I don't name cars or anthropomorphize them, but it looked sad.

Now to attack that owner's manual.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

YOU CAN'T WALTZ IN A PNEUMATIC BOOT

With apologies to the late Roger Miller's YOU CAN'T ROLLERSKATE IN A BUFFALO HERD...

I am conflicted about today's doctor appointment. I hope he'll remove the wires from my toes. I hope it will not be a painful visit. I'm not sure those two thoughts can be reconciled.

Tomorrow marks the six week anniversary-? of my accident. Here's am update: with the boot on, I can walk around, drive, climb stairs. Without it on I can't do weight bearing, except on my heel. It's awkward. I feel trapped.

The toes look swollen. One wire is starting to move - and that's supposed to be a good sign of impending removal. The Big Toe wire, however, seems to be permanent.

I am eager to move away from this event. X-Rays today may tell the tale.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

TIME WARP?




UNRETOUCHED PHOTOS OF TIME HOLE EXPERIENCED IN AUSTIN!


I had a hankering. Terri also had one. There's a chain restaurant with the sweetest, best ribs I have ever had. And they have one here. It's called HOUSTON'S, but I've eaten at their places in Houston, Nashville, Los Angeles (Westwood) and now here.

I have been a judge at various ribfests, as part of my radio days. I figure I have sampled at least 30 rib vendors. Houstons wins hands down.

But the odd thing is they bring you the plate, and that's a mighty rack on it. Then, Snap! - the plate is empty and there's a hole in time which would have been where the food was eaten. It - just - happens.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

IS IT ME?

It could be me. Trauma has changed my perception, maybe? Or the weeks I sat imprisoned in that chair with my foot up gave me more media time than in a normal life. But I don't think that's it.

It seems to this observer of the scene that there's more whining, more overreaction, LOUDER reaction than before. How you define before is hard to pin down, but I'd qualify it as "recently."

Example: there were media reports of how so many parents were wary of and would avoid the H1N1 vaccine. Then, in the media's blink of an eye, there seemed to be grave concern about the supplies being inadequate. Every day you see lines of people awaiting their dose. CDC officials exclaiming it's in the pipeline.

It's as if the VOLUME has been turned up on public issues.

Afghanistan: the president is deciding. The president is taking too long. The no-election there has amped up the need for a quick decision.

What happened to carefully thought out decisions, weighing all sides of an argument? And often there IS no absolute right, just a best guess, a calculated risk. One to be set upon by the opposition.

To me, the screech is growing louder. It is disconcerting. It's unreasonable.

Let's not even consider the health care debate - although debate might be too non-partisan a word.

President Obama was initially seen as taking on too much, now taking on too little - waffling - indecisive - a rookie.

Has the opposition to anything become more media savvy? Has the media dumbed down?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

CARS

After 10 years of service, it seemed a good time to replace my car, a 1998 Audi A6. I test drove the 2009 version, but decided to await the 2010 version - said to be the same as the 2009, with less immediate depreciation. I ordered one.

I should write I feel I had to do all the work and push the dealership (Roger Beasley, here in Austin) into ordering one for me. That was - maybe 6 weeks ago.

Friday, a salesman called, "YOUR CAR IS HERE!" "When do you want to pick it up?" I said, well, Saturday afternoon. We had to get the check, etc. After a while he called back - "Oh, sorry, it's not your car. We thought it was, then uncovered it..." "Where's MINE?" "Probably at the port (of Houston)."

And that's the care you get for north of $50,000.

Terri's INFINITY purchase (the car, not unlimited time) has been so much smoother, and we expect to have it next week. They have held her hand through the process.

Her Jaguar is still in service. (Charles Maund Jaguar) seem to have different stories each call - and there have been a batch of them. They claim to have the parts, and suggest they'll be done in a few days. Their whole demeanor has been strange. We think they are perhaps responsible for the engine damage under repair, since their earlier repairs failed within miles. And they never came up with the new Jag they wanted to let her drive while hers was in service.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

WHY HAS THE BLOGGING SLOWED?

An accident has kept me from blogging lately, and likely will slow down what I have been doing, at least for the next month or so, although today is the second day back at the computer in over two weeks.

I was cutting the grass when I tripped over a rock while walking backwards - you know - you go forwards then backwards over some areas. As I went down on my back, the only thing I was holding was the handle of the lawn mower and I must have pulled it toward me. Over my foot.

I came very close to cutting off my toes.

So, long story short: 3 hour surgery, hospital, now home and long recovery. Maybe not long in the scheme of things, but at least another month to go. I am lucky that the surgeon saved my toes. They are still attached.

It's a day by day thing - believe me, getting back to the computer is a VERY big deal. I am going to blog the whole recovery period at once, when it's over, and am keeping myself busy with writing daily thoughts. Until yesterday, all via Blackberry. The notes give me the ability to get my mind off the long road ahead. As I heal I will gain energy and return to writing other things as they come into my life and thoughts. If you made it this far, thanks for hanging in!

Monday, September 28, 2009

THE ROOM WENT QUIET...

I can't remember where I read a description of someone walking into a room, and just by their presence, the room went silent.

I have witnessed this three times.

ONE: A crowded bar in Pittsburgh. I worked at KQV Radio, where the executives (separated from and far above the mere mortals on the ground floor of the Chamber of Commerce Building) had a sexy secretary/assistant, who had some sort of sexual charisma. She was like Joan in Mad Men, but not as busty.

Rumor was she was a 'possession' of one of the group VPs in NYC.

I distinctly remember watching this young woman go to the rest room in the crowded bar in which I found myself, and telling my table companion that he was about to experience something unusual. When she emerged, the crowded, noisy room, suddenly went quiet. Not dead quiet but it was like an audio eclipse. Amazing.

TWO:
I befriended Louie, a new salesman at CJFM in Montreal, who, at the time (1975) looked a lot like Robert Redford in his Butch Cassidy days. We'd go to lunch when our schedules permitted. Into a crowded (packed!) Brasserie we'd stroll in downtown Montreal, and the place would drop into a hush as every woman with a view stopped talking. It was dramatic, and since it never happened to me alone, well, ahem. This was not a one-time thing, either.

THREE:
Nina, the then-wife of Robert Rich (Rich Products, then-Rich Stadium where the Buffalo Bills played) was an account exec at a local Buffalo Ad Agency which represented our radio stations, WBEN and ROCK 102. I was the product guy so we'd have meetings. One winter day I took her to lunch, (or maybe she took me - yeah - that's the ticket!) and, as this good looking blonde in a full length fox coat walked into the restaurant, the place went quiet. The eyes were upon us.

Her son played a young Robert Redford in the movie The Natural which was filmed in Buffalo. There's some degrees-of-separation thing going in this post.

Once, on a snowy night, while we had much liquor with dinner at a steak house on my birthday, I told Louie how much I envied him. His response, as was typical for Louie, came straight from the heart, and surprised me. He said, "I know how I look. But I envy YOU. Women see me and think my mind is as good as my looks. I envy YOU who can go on the air and know what to say." Point made, Louie.

Friday, September 18, 2009

CONTRACTIONS

It seems as if many in the world have forgotten what the rules are for "it's" versus "its." I see errors in places where you'd have to figure they should know better. Ad copy. Newspaper stories. TV crawls.

"It's" is a contraction for IT IS. "Its" is a possessive, as in, "The dog chased its tail so many times there was a funnel in the floor where it used to go in circles."

I wonder about "It's" as a contraction for "it has." Maybe I was in the bathroom in school that day when Sister Mary Thorn-In-The-Crown Jesus Wore explained that one. It seems correct, as in, "It's been seven lonely years since the dust storm blew away my family."

Some contractions are pretenders: "I'm" for "I am" only saves one space. Who thought that up? It is hardly efficient. (You thought I'd use "it's," didn't you?)
"Couldn't" - another loser. Maybe it has to do with how people mumble? "That's" saves only one space. Stack those spaces up and you aren't going to hit the moon quickly, that's for sure.

In the same vein, there appear to be - by common usage - new rules. "CD's" meaning several of them, for instance. To me and the chain of Sisters Of Mercy authorized to feed my mind as a child, that's a POSSESSIVE case, as in "The CD's case was left on the floor where my foot found it and skated across the rug like Peggy Flemming in her day." But no, you see a flying apostrophe thrown after many words as if someone got a truckload wholesale, discovered they expire, and is trying to get them out of there before they stink up the place!

I am confused enough already.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

LIVE FROM DARYL'S HOUSE



What if you could get to hang with a favorite musician? What if you could hear him play in his own home? What if he had a musician-guest in, every time you visited - some known, some not yet, some just coming up? All good!

Well, if Daryl Hall is one of your favorites, you can do all of that above. Posted every month via email, is a link to the latest.

Performances are mixed with banter; usually some guest chef is in the kitchen cooking something you can almost smell and certainly want to taste.

Each episode is about 8 songs long.

Daryl appeals to me more from his NON-Hall and Oates side, but perhaps that's because he's a 'blue-eyed soul (meaning: white) singer' and is from the environs of Philadelphia, my home town. So is Todd Rundgren, in this latest performance, which I enjoyed so much.

It's free. It's fun. There have been 23 of these so far.

Here's the link. Enjoy the show!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

JAY LENO SHOW

I used to like Jay Leno. I've seen him live twice, but a long time ago, maybe 30 years for the first time, at Buffalo's Tralfamadore Cafe.

Since he took over the Tonight Show, not so much. I find his explanation of the jokes after the punchline irritating and pandering, showing either no confidence in the joke or the audience. He's much more likable showing off a car from his collection.

JAYWALKING is really People Are Funny spun one way. That's really old TV, People are ignorant, which I don't find funny, but worrisome. JAYWALKING wasn't part of the big premiere.

We tuned the new show last night, wanting to see how the retread would work. For me, it doesn't. The montage opening is weak and it rolls along familiar tracks afterwards, with a tad more haste.

But who's the fool here? How many tens of millions has Leno made so far? He was popular - is popular - works hard. Jay is not the fool.

I believe NBC will regret its decision to drop 5 hours of prime time for this discount-programming. That's the game - cut expenses/make money. A week of Leno costs less than ONE hour of episodic TV. The first day will rate highly from curiosity, the first week, too. Then the show will settle. NBC will call it success if they can turn a profit.

I won't watch.

After the less than overwhelming open, Jay comes out and shakes hands with audience members, then does jokes. There's a new set, but that opening format looks like his old show after-the-news to me. I watched enough to know I didn't like it - or would watch occasionally to catch a guest.

Last night had a LAME bit where Jay 'asked' President Obama questions which then showed answers from another interview. Har har.

Guest Jerry Seinfeld - still funny - should have been given more uninterrupted time. He 'brought on' Oprah via Video which was another waste of time (as Jay was unable to get a word in...) Har.

A comic then 'entertained' a car-wash patron, singing to her as she waited. Reportedly, there are other folks on board for more out-of-studio 'bits.'

Kanye West choked up trying to 'splain why he did what he did, interrupting that poor Taylor Swift at the MTV video music award show the night before. That was semi-poignant and semi-literate at the same time. Maybe if he rapped it, it would have worked? This was almost surreal, especially when he couldn't speak and Jay (wisely) let the silence extend. Instead of a hoople-head shouting at the President in an address to Congress and the nation, here's where a healthy "You Asshole!" from an audience member would have made impolite sense.

Rhianna, Jay-Z and Kanye then sang or rapped.

You could argue the new show hasn't found it's feet yet, but after 3 months to think stuff up, this was bland, bland, bland.

A bizzare thing intruded - we thought it was a schtick at first. We were watching on TiVo, about 5 to 10 minutes behind the real time timeline. At one point, the channel switched to an EMERGENCY NOTIFICATION on another channel, which crawled in English and Spanish across the top of the screen, announcing a child abduction in waters 20km from the coast... which is a couple hundred miles from here. It seems the emergency notification was really a combo of weather and Amber alert, with no real details. I've never seen TiVo hijacked before. Somebody pushed the wrong button at KXAN-TV. They also blew the news promo slot as their rehearsal or taping of it also just popped on in mid-Leno, then popped off. When it came time to run it, they didn't.

But wait: Others seem to share my opinion:

"The answer: No desk until the last five minutes. The question: What is the difference between the new 'Jay Leno Show' at 10 p.m. and the former 'Tonight Show with Jay Leno' at 11:35 p.m.?" -- The Gazette

"The menu of the new show is awfully familiar ... [and] an unsettled sense that they're throwing things on the wall to see what sticks." -- Hollywood Reporter

"Without Kanye West, and his conveniently timed controversy from the MTV Video Music Awards, NBC's 'Jay Leno Show' premiere Monday would have been even more of a cut-rate, snooze-inducing, rehashed bore. If Leno's desire is to help fans get to sleep earlier, desire satisfied" -- USA Today

"Leno's funny, but in the safest way. He's adheres to the center of the exact middle road, so it's wrong to expect a revolution here. He has all the draw of buy-one-get-one-free smoothies. His comedy is bubble-wrap; its appeal needs no explaining. He goes with Dan Brown novels and Marriott Rewards points and repeat viewings of the cinchy CBS crime procedurals he now finds himself programmed against: Who doesn't like all of those things?" -- Washington Post

"The first 'Jay Leno Show' was reminiscent of nothing so much as a typical 'Tonight Show with Jay Leno,' with ... [though] superstars were upstaged by what turned out, through pure dumb luck" -- Kansas City Star

"There isn't much difference between the new show and Jay's 'Tonight Show.' There's more comedy, though it's of the bland, topical variety that Jay is known for..." -- Newsweek

"NBC and Leno have delivered something pretty 'Tonight'-like ... they're giving old Jay fans what they like ... interspersed with enough of Whatever People are Talking About Today to get a churning drive-by audience" -- Time

"Exactly like we all should have known it would be ... If this is as good as it gets with three months to work on it, what's it going to be like once the night-after-night grind sets in? Or even more to the point, what's Jay going to do without a Kanye West moment every night?" -- Dallas Morning News

"It's not a good sign when the Bud Light commercial is funnier than the comedy show it interrupts ... his opening monologue seem[ed] like an attempt to cash in on the current vampire fixation -- comedy of the undead" -- LA Times

"The jokes felt familiar, the monologue, too. Someone, however, might want to alert Universal lot security: The couch was missing.Otherwise, what was so different between his last gig and this one, besides the hour?" -- Newsday

Thursday, September 10, 2009

RAIN RAIN DON'T GO AWAY


Something we haven't seen in QUITE a while - RAIN running down the window. It rained hard today. People away form this area cannot easily comprehend how low we are - the big lake, Lake Travis, is about 32 FEET below average.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

HOOK 'EM!



In Austin, UT football is really REALLY big. Last night we were invited to the first of this season's games. Now, you have to understand that they had 101,096 people attend. That the team could go to be national champion. They are REALLY REALLY good!

College football is - to me - better than pro ball - there's a lot less showboating, there's a spirit of fun despite the intensity - there's no alcohol in the stadium - and the coach talks about his "kids." To me (and some will laugh) college football is purer. Yes, there are scandals, etc., just like everywhere else in modern life, so I acknowledge that for the cynics.

Which doesn't take away from the wonderful time we had.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

PHOTOSHOP CLEANUP

Not a storefront, but a huge (and slow) program. With over 9000 pictures in there somewhere, it's time to 'tidy up!' But it's not that simple, apparently (thank god I read up on the process!) WHY it's not real simple is beyond me - I'd expect this to be a common desire.

Apparently you can lose files when you do it the wrong way. The right way has been described simply (with a warning to try on a small number of the files first - just to be SURE...) and also in a long 11 step process. I don't understand all of the steps, either!

So I sit and wait for the "Reconnect missing files" command to do about 100 searches - this could take all day. Then I have to carefully (like an egg on a spoon) move them to the outboard drive.

From what I read, if you don't do this properly, you'll 'blind' the program to the pictures. Or, you lose them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I STOLE AN ELEVATOR

It was at a swank hotel in Portofino, Italy. I was about 13 years old. I don't remember the name of the place, but it's in all the pictures as it looks down on the harbor. Back then this hotel had an elevator operator. A UNIFORMED elevator operator. At the bottom floor, I caught him chatting up a woman - he had left his post in the elevator and was just around the corner. I snuck inside, closed the door, and took it to the roof, where I left it on manual control. I then ran back down the stairs to the ground floor and kept pushing the button, as if I knew nothing. The operator came around the corner only to find his elevator was missing!

It was a wonderful moment.

I also stole one on a ship, but I don't remember much about that one.

It only works when there's an operator. Sadly, opportunities are very rare these days.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

OMG! BLACKBERRY!

I didn't mean to get MYSELF a new phone, but for work, Terri needed to upgrade to a Blackberry so off to Verizon we went. There, on the wall, was a sign that said "Buy any phone get another one free" and somehow this related to the Blackberries. However, the clerk said no, we didn't qualify since we weren't at the end of our 2 year service agreement, and that buying the Blackberry would cost $430. We insisted that the sign was misleading, agreed that we might have to buy one outright since our term hadn't expired, but that should be a two-fer. He said no.

And so it went, back and forth.

The resolution: $250 total for two Blackberries, offset by two hundred dollar rebates.

You might think we WON big - and we did do considerably better than the way it looked initially, but they still will make about $840/yr in increased services to these two units so they can get email.

So I find myself in the new techworld - again.

Other than for voicework, where my agent must be able to reach me asap, I don't live a life where that immediate connection via email is crucial. Phone calls, yes; voicemail, yes. Texting or emails, I can wait until I am home at this keyboard. Or I could.

My hope is the thing has a better camera and better video than the last phone - that's where I am coming from. Too bad we don't have cows - I think this phone will do milking.

Yeah, those iPhones are way cool, but for $25, I'll use this thing. (Note: listen! You can hear the corporate laughter!)

To think that my father used to work for the telephone company, got free telephone service, but was always worried about abusing the system when we placed our annual Christmas call to the west coast relatives... the times, they sure have changed.

Friday, August 21, 2009

ARMADILLO MADNESS



Another 'dillo trapped!

That's now 1 raccoon, 1 cat, 3 armadillos!

There must be some armadillo graffiti at the armadillo bar - "For a Good Time, dine at Wood's! Dine under the shrubs!" It's a %$#@ PARADE of 'dillos, it seems.

Another ride up Highway 71 with a stinker in the trap in the trunk - about 10 miles... and release. This one was slow to escape the cage and immediately went under the car and a tire. HEY!

I am NOT going to accept suicide after schlepping this varmint this far.

And so, I edged away, and the beast was seen waddling away up a hill.

Monday, August 17, 2009

ACTUALLY BUYING THE CAR

It was a sunny, hot, expensive day. We drove up to the local Audi dealership, asked for directions to the sales manager who printed a form. I circled two items on the form. We wrote a deposit check. That's it. Now wait.

I suppose it will feel good when I see the car - it's somewhere - or not - either built and on a slow boat from Germany, or not yet. Meanwhile, no owner's pride or buyer's remorse.

I am happy to get that behind me. I can say it wasn't a pleasant experience, what with misinformation coming from several different places. Recession or not, Audi isn't pricing their cars as cheap. Hopefully the value will linger for years, if not as a Blue Book Price, then as an enjoyable and dependable ride.

This car will be much more nimble than my present one which could be a boat anchor with a little hammering. But that's for the dealership to decide when they take the trade-in.

Friday, August 14, 2009

TRYING TO BUY A CAR

I contacted 6 dealerships by email. I heard back from only 3 of them. Conflicting info was passed to me as to whether or not the car I want actually exists, or will have to be built. The only significance of this is the timeline.

Price was too close to call, but local trade-in tipped the scale. Well, that, and convenience.

Saturday we will double check with our local dealer that what I have in writing is true, and will leave a deposit.

I am AMAZED that 3 Audi dealerships didn't respond.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

TRYING TO BUY

Two Audi dealers - each contacted by internet - each telling me different stories about wheels. I believe they are both using factory supplied information. Who's right? How can I tell?

Today I expanded my search. I have low expectations.

Called the GM at the local dealership - got voicemail - he hasn't returned my call.

However this turns out, it's not a pleasant experience.

Monday, August 10, 2009

VERY DIFFICULT TO BUY A CAR!

I am stunned. I know the exact car I want, have had conversations by phone or email with various dealers, requesting info as soon as the 2010s are known (availability info, dates, pricing, etc.) They all failed this. Every one.

I finally did enough detective work to find out the cars are arriving at the port of Houston. Now, the one dealership that seems to have information (after I 'reminded' them about my pending sale) tells me the very car I want will not be available anywhere in the midwest (served by the port of Houston.) I want a silver one with grey interior. Nope. They'll build one for me.

So I sit with amazement on my face. This is the sort of salespersonship you get above $50k, apparently:

After shaking this dealership-cage with a WHY HAVEN'T I HEARD FROM YOU when I know the cars are coming? Here's what I got:

"I have never received any information about you until 5 minutes before I contacted you. I just received the prices from Audi today, so here are the prices.
For a 2010, Prestige 3.0T quattro, with 19"wheels. The MSRP is $57.525. If you would like to give me an offer on this car I would be glad to present to my manager.
Also as I mention, I also have a 2009 Audi A6 3.0T quattro, prestige,side assist, Adventure Blue Pearl ( which is kind a dark gray), with light gray interior, it was lightly hail damage but fully repaired and demo from the owner with about 6000 miles. (MSRP $56.525) Would you be interested on this 2009 or only 2010?
Please let me know."

I just don't get it. Ready to go many miles out of my way to award the biz to a good dealer with a good sales ethic (you're laughing - I can HEAR you!) I cannot find one.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

NEW WEBSITE

Speeding Hippie attempts to drive through the Early70s barrier.

I've opened a new website as a pathway to more opportunity locally. Why not take a hobby and turn it into a service? Thus: www.PhotographerBobWood.com

At most I would hope to serve as a local freelancer here in the Austin area. No weddings - not that large a scale... but for real estate pictures, family events, etc., I am there.

There are some good pictures on the site and I hope you enjoy them! Contact info is also there. Have a look.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

BER-MU-DA

We spent a few Bermudays on the beach, in the sun, floating in the water, snorkeling, marvelling about how the weak economy doesn't seem to have reached that isle. Let me put it this way - where we stayed (Elbow Beach Resort,) the prices were HIGH.

But the weather was cooler than Austin's record breaking summer by about 20 degrees. It was much more humid, of course, as Austin is in mid-exceptional-drought while Bermuda sits on the Atlantic.

Some notes in no order:

--- Tourists from wherever still smoke more than we have seen/smelled in our lives for many many years.

--- Elbow Beach sand was wonderful. (I collect sand from beaches on which I've stood. I have about 70 samples.) I'd put this right into the top few!

--- The world population is headed to obesity, as measured by our snapshot on the beach and in airports.

--- Flying in coach still sucks. I cannot get comfortable.

--- Atlanta airport is HUGE and amazing and well run.

--- Bermuda's airport also beats all of the Caribbean ones we've seen in organization, cleanliness. Of course it isn't IN the Caribbean, either.

--- We saw very few seagulls. No dolphins. Lots of seaweed. LARGE parrot fish.

--- Despite a couple thousand college-era miles on my Vespa, I'd have died on a scooter in Bermuda as I would have immediately turned right into oncoming traffic. No question!

--- I saw several schools of very small jellyfish. I didn't know they could do that schooling thing. Each was maybe the size of a 50 cent piece.

--- Terri and I debated about a couple - he, what appeared to me to be a 60ish retired CEO; she, a thin 20ish long legged colt (high heels to the beach,) Me: model; Terri: white trash. We gave up on "niece" after watching him caress her thigh. She swam a great distance and I didn't think strippers did that. The debate was fun.

--- The people in the room next door to ours played the oddest music, sometimes accompanied by singing... as late as 2AM or beyond. We finally thought to complain to the front desk and that stopped the nighttime warble.

--- Bermuda is clean and beautiful. It is celebrating its 400th birthday next week.
Their last hurricane was in 2003. Water was 84 degrees. Daytime air was 87 degrees. We had fun.

--- I took several hundred pictures and will probably post some on my new site www.photographerbobwood.com , which remains a work in progress.

Friday, July 17, 2009

'DILLO NUMBER DEUX

The other night while taking the dog out for her before-bedtime necessaries, I spotted another armadillo browsing our shrubbery beds. I noted another large hole dug around our gas pipe feed, just like there was when the LAST armadillo was trapped. Though we had filled it in, these guys are super diggers, and the hole had reappeared.

I take Jessie out with a flashlight, always on the lookout for snakes, said to be especially restless during this heat. So I shine it around and that's when I saw the beast.

I set the trap and today Terri greeted me (she walks Jessie in the early morning) with a "You're going for a ride today!" We caught the bugger and I am charged with driving it away, hopefully far enough that it would not come back. (My limit is 10 miles.)

After the photo shoot, we headed to a side road off Rt 71 (busy highway) to just outside a new development deeper into the Hill Country called Bee Creek. I released on the rocky, undeveloped side of the road but the 'Dillo took off at a run across the road and into the lush greenery of the new tract. I thought I could see a smile.


TRAPPED



NO-NECK MEET LONGNECK!



THE GETAWAY

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

MORE COMPUTER TEETH GRINDING (w updates)

The tech was here Friday. he sent me out for a new sound card which I bought Saturday. That's when I discovered the overnight backup of C drive didn't take place. I also found that the D rive wouldn't work at all. I put another in and IT wouldn't work either. The D drive is the CD player/burner.

I called and called through the weekend and yesterday. Today is Tuesday and curiously only after voicemailing a threat to dispute the Visa charge, did I get a return call.

Someone is supposed to be back today - but will have to charge me for the issue of the D drive. I have tried to load the driver to the D drive again but it fails.

LATER THAT SAME DAY.

I managed to fix my D drive. Don't ask what I did - it was try this try that until it worked. We are down to ONE issue - the backups... and the service call should be free. Says me.

I feel exhausted.

LATER THE NEXT DAY

I never did get the tech out here, but did spend a while on the phone with his supervisor who got into my computer by remote control and declared that my backup F drive was faulty, though probably the drive itself was ok but the electronics in the box with it were suspect. At his direction I removed the drive from the box and it was pretty darn hot; worrying me - he thought I could install it into the computer itself and let it dangle. Or get another enclosure (with perhaps working circuitry). I opted for a new outboard hard drive, and will try the backup overnight. This should conclude quite a saga. If not, my teeth will be stumps.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

COMPUTER MESS

I am sitting in the middle of a mess... discs, sound card, sound card software, scribbled notes, vacuum cleaner, my computer peripherals scattered about with thumb drives, instructions, and a computer that only partly works.

The issues began when the very confusing website template* I bought for a new website, photographerbobwood.com (not up yet), suggested that I needed Netscape. I didn't want it, but dutifully downloaded it - along with all sorts of other junk I ALSO didn't want that apparently travels with it. I decided I didn't like or really need it, and deleted all those files using "remove files" and then searching for and deleting others with the same name. And then running registry mechanic. Lots of rebooting too, along the merry chase.

*their support people have been giving me some help, but also WRONG information, it turns out.

I also found my windows updater wanted to add some or change some files which I agreed to, those being security updates and - what the hell - IE8, supposed to be much better and safer than IE7. I quickly grew to hate IE8, and tried to load it from a thumbdrive the Best Buy GEEK SQUAD loaded for me with IE7, (that didn't work), then roll the computer back to a previous setpoint "when everything worked." It didn't. On any point I tried... 3 or 4 times.

I had lost all Internet browser ability.

I couldn't go online for help, I couldn't reload explorer. I was and am very frustrated, over my head!

I hired a company to send a tech. He was here Friday afternoon for two and a half hours, got me IE7 back - a huge victory - and also attended to removing some programs I could never completely remove. He installed an outboard drive I bought for my photos, and simplified the non-working backup scheme I had for my C drive. He reinstalled Skype and declared my sound card broken. I subsequently went out and bought a new simple card and put it into the computer. But when I went to load the drivers, found that somehow I had lost the D drive entirely.

I had a spare, installed IT but still, no D drive. Which means the sound card issue (and Skype) remain unresolved.

The C drive backup onto the F drive failed completely. Twice.

Backup of my 9000 photos onto my new E drive was incorrect and will have to be undone and redone.

Calls and emails to the tech service remain unanswered - I guess they don't work weekends. I expect a comp. return and more attention.

I've come to realize how very addicted I am to a fully functioning computer.

This story leaves out a lot of futzing - it all blurs now in or under a cloud of frustration. I thought I had gone the full route to getting all in order.

This story is for you, when you are also having the nightmare, so you know you are not alone.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

FIREWORKS

Last night we were invited to a home with a really good view of the Lakeway fireworks. Lakeway is a suburb just up the road. Although we can see several to a dozen commercial displays from our home, none are really close. This was close.

The red white and blue lights we first saw were in my rear view mirror from the motorcycle police that pulled me over for making a wrong turn - I missed a road, and, since, nobody was on that road, went down the one-way (wrong-way split just until I could switch over to the correct side.)

The police were busy and polite and since I was the same, knew I was wrong, hadn't been drinking, wasn't argumentative, I was let off with a verbal warning. Nice.

The home had a deck from which I tried my first really serious fireworks photography. I used a 5 second shutter speed. The camera was on a tripod and I set all the settings to manual, then discovered a hidden control that won't allow a really bad picture. Since the lighting was zero to bright, it decided that when I pushed the release, it shouldn't accept my command.

I did find the DammmitDoWhatITellYou control and then it worked, Too bad more of life isn't that way.

It was a great show with many quality aerial bombs. Clearly the state of that art has moved forward since I was a kid.

Here are what I got... I am pleased with my efforts. Happy Belated Fourth of July!



















Thursday, July 02, 2009

KQV

It seems Roadrunner is down again. Can't be sure. Nothing is coming up as I write this offline. I must be an addict. I get way too bothered by outages.

Today I was contacted by a guy who I've known forever who is writing a book about the Golden Age of Pittsburgh Radio - he asked if I had any pictures (I do.) This then triggered a batch of exchanges and memories. It was a special time in what was then, I believe, the tenth largest market in the USA - after only two years of seasoning I had cracked the big time (albeit overnights, but still...)

The station was owned by ABC Radio, when they had two of the largest Top 40 stations in the country (WABC, NYC; WLS, Chicago) and it wasn't uncommon for good old KQV to serve as a farm team.

I just missed working with Rush Limbaugh, then a disc jockey. Missed by a year or two. He came after I left for a wrong choice in Phoenix. Ah, hindsight.

KQV was larger than life. The HiJinx were all larger than life. The personalities full of personality.

I was offered a chance to be program director of their FM, which was just switching from an automated to live format - this was back when FM was just catching on (1972.) I refused. Three times. MY BIG MISTAKE. The station is still number 1 today (not that I would have known what to do.)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

9000+ PICTURES

Yup - on my hard drive. Of course I can't throw any out. Actually, I am slowly working through them, tossing some duplicates, but this must be a packrat disorder.

The solution may be to get another outboard drive and move it all there... where it can be joined by many many more since memory is so cheap!

In the attic we have a LARGE box of picture prints (remember those?) which we never look at - and I have videos over 20 years old I have shot and never watched.

It must be something about wanting to preserve life's moments.

Friday, June 19, 2009

COONAN O'BRIEN

After our varmint saga some posts below, resulting in a quick ride down the highway for Mister Dillo, there was a brief lull where our grass'n'weeds grew normally. Then more digging appeared, like tiny toy archaeologists were looking for artifacts. I reset the trap. First some bait was eaten but whatever ate it got away with Salmon breath. However, this AM brought another trapped digger. Even while in the cage it managed to ruin the grass under it.


Now I know many will see this and go "ooooh, how cute..." but you'd be wrong! This snarling, wretched, spiteful, straight-razor toting beast was quite intent on breaking through the slammer to slash and chew on my white ass.

My research said that you'd have to drive it at least 20 miles away because they can come back and will certainly find your house and seek revenge. (Okay I made up the revenge part, but they can really wreck a house when inside it, and they apparently will try to get inside - a neighbor trapped 2 DOZEN in Florida as they infested his home!)

And they can be rabid.

So, drastic measure time.



I can assure you the circle of life is an unbroken one. Read into this what you will.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"...AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE"

I am mid-worst-cold I can remember. I was taking ZiCam. Which, it was just announced, can permanently disable your sense of smell. They are pulling it off the market. I don't trust easily, and especially mistrust the 'experts.' This is another reason why. I will stop and try to get my $11 back just because I am pissy about this.

TRUST NO ONE. Period. This stinks and I CAN smell the stink.

Friday, June 12, 2009

PRESCRIPTION DRUGS' SIDE EFFECTS

My helpful Walgrens prints out a long list of cautions and medicinal 'oh by the ways' which include a long list of possible side effects of whatever I've been prescribed. Frankly (okay, "Bobly") I never read the things until lately. You know - the doc says take this, I trust him or her, I take it.

What I want to know is this: WHY AREN'T THERE ANY GOOD SIDE EFFECTS? I got weakness, anxiety, confusion on one, and that's just the first LINE. I stopped reading that one. Was confused. Thought I had already read it. Then dropped the bottle. Searched the floor for any pills that might have rolled out - wouldn't want the dog to eat one. See what I mean?

Others list stuff I don't even want to consider: explosive colon disorder, barking wildly, hair on elbows, etc.

So it occurs to me (between anxieties from the damn prescription I still take) I've never seen or even heard of a GOOD side effect. Why aren't there good ones? "May cause you to laugh more." "May make you a more pleasant person." "Could help you see through clothes (oh, sorry.)" You get the idea.

I think Big Pharma is missing the boat. Put some great side effects in, and you cure arthritis or whatever PLUS you are a happy camper. THAT would be one popular health care plan. Congress could get behind that.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

ZEN BLOGGING

I realize I haven't blogged on this blog for a while. I have several others and I'd like to keep them all juggled, but since I have a nagging feeling that only a very exclusive (read: small) audience checks this out, I don't feel a ton of enthusiasm to write more often. Also, FACEBOOK in many cases seems like ego-static, so I guess that makes a blog an ego-thunderstorm. LOOKITME! LOOKITME!

I miss having that great ego extension of a radio station which I would program. Even though you aren't as necessary as you think you are, it feels like you are, and this emanation is controlled by you. An aside: I once argued with a troublesome talent who claimed I was a control freak. 20 years later I can admit he was correct in that regard. I wanted the station to be perfect. Later I realized that it CAN'T BE PERFECT, that people are who they are and the best you can hope for is THEIR best, and to, well, lighten up.

I think I take things too seriously. I also think I swing to nonsensically. This throws most people. Polar opposites? With icecap melting?

Enough introspection!

It seems the Armadillo I trapped, drove away and released, is back, or his relative is. I have reset the trap and THIS ONE, if I catch it, will get the free ride after I mark its shell with magic marker. If it comes back down the road, makes it back those 7 miles... I might have to use Fedex or Remmington/Winchester to dispatch it upon the third visit.

We have been visited by deer lately - they're always around but two Bambis and Mom have been on our property several times. And Rabbits Galore!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

CONAN RULES

I like David Letterman, haven't been a fan of Jay Leno, but don't regularly watch either --- once in a long while to catch an interview maybe. I used to watch more Letterman when it was edgier. Can't stand Paul the too obvious Laughing Stooge. I rather like Craig Ferguson, but just haven't been inspired to record him either. Fallon, not.

I was interested enough to TiVo (mainstream alert - using a noun as a verb!) the first Conan O'Brien show as he took over the Tonight Show.

It was hilarious! WAY WAY better than either Leno or Letterman. I laughed OUT LOUD many times. Many! And so did Terri! That's a miracle. So much so, the Catholic Church wants to take up a collection. Check it out!

Friday, May 29, 2009

"WHAT'S THAT BEEPING?"

...asked Terri, while we were tuning in the news at about 10PM last night. Since it wasn't our usual station, I listened closely to hear if one of the news anchors was beeping. Unsure, I hit pause on TiVo (everything "live" on TiVo is really just freshly recorded) The beeping was faint, but from someplace else. I wandered the downstairs, ear cocked. Not here, not there, getting fainter, now I hear it better.

The bedroom: A beep - really a chirp - was chirping about every ten seconds. That's why the search took time; you could walk by it and it'd chirp 5 seconds later and you'd be rooms away.

I thought I narrowed it down to the air conditioning control, perhaps in need of a new battery? Though it flashed the message: Change filter, I just doubted that they'd wire that to a bird's ass (the chirper).

I consulted our collection of ring binders - when we moved we vowed to be organized ORGANIZED! and have ring binders with every applicable manual or instruction hidden in clear plastic, on the page you cannot find.

But I persisted and located the heat control unit instructional booklet. Ah thought so! Just grab in here and here and pull up and...

I was standing in the bedroom holding the control unit proudly when Terri walked in. I had figured that since the battery was invisible, I'd have to take the plate off the wall. I waved the control unit around and said, I think it's this. Terri went to and pointed at the alarm system and said - it's THIS. She was right.

So after I put the control head back on (turning off AC but not knowing until much later) and searching through the library of important documents we saved, I found the code: *2 would tell me what was wrong! CALL SERVICE was wrong - great. Call service, where I'll bet they'll charge me $50-100 to show up and replace the battery and 'test the system.' Test THIS! Online I ordered the lead-acid IM1240 and will install it myself.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

CAPTURED! AND RELEASED.


This is where the trap was set. Catfood bait.



I'll bet the beast weighs maybe 15-20 pounds!



I only hope THIS is the one which has been digging up our lawn and planting beds.

Until now, I can't recall ever seeing one up close. I have seen them occasionally on the roadside, with little Xs where the eyes would be.

The Texas armadillo is about the size of a large cat; its overall length is about 2½ feet, and adults weigh from twelve to seventeen pounds. The shell is really bone.

I drove this big fat one about 7 miles away and released it, somewhere where it hopefully will stay far from here. I let it go and it ran behind a fenced in property, once I shook it out of the trap.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

A GREAT LINE

A writer, Whitney Pastorek, wrote this, in her report on American Idol. I think it's such a great line... "while their less-successful former contestant counterparts roamed free, like a wilderness safari of failure."

Whew!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

PHANTOM OF THE GARDEN

I suspect strongly the Armadillo that tore up our lawn last fall is back. We also found a big hole (watermellon size) when we redid the beds that parallel the house, with plants, etc (and lots of mulch.) I dragged the CATCH-A-KRITTER-CAGE-OF-HUMANE-TREATMENT out of storage, loaded it with a nice new can of stinky catfood, and placed in the bed next to the gas meter, where the hole was excavated.

And LO! Within a few nights, the trap was tripped, but empty!

I reset it just now. Time will tell, and if time does, there will be photos posted here, but I wouldn't hold your breath. The trap has never worked for us.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

SNAKE

Sometimes I am too cautious. It's a side effect of a good imagination - I imagine things going wrong... so when I take our dog out for her final pee in the dark, I always use a flashlight, especially at this time of the year, when snakes are said to be active. You never know.

Last night I swept the concrete with my spotlight, like a guard at a maximum security institution of incarceration. I noticed what appeared to be a branch, which had fallen onto the driveway.

But wait, the branch... was moving. A closer look - a snake! (And scarily, pointed away from the house, as if it lives there or close-by!)

Jessie did her business and I retreated to the house for tools - in this case a pickaxe, which I dropped on its side to immobilize the reptile, while I got the shovel for a beheading.

Yeah yeah, I know, they eat flies or something. I don't care.

Apparently I need a sharper shovel.



I thought it might be a baby copperhead but am not sure. Similar, to be sure.

I took a valium to sleep without snakey dreams as I had some adrenaline to overcome. Woke 45 minutes past my normal wakeup, with no bad dreams. I put the carcass out for the vultures.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

UNRELATED

Unrelated, but...

Something bit me on the elbow. Or stung me. Wouldn't you think to get there, the whatever-bug bypassed a lot of good MEAT?

The doctor prescribed me a medicine with the words, "if it works, you'll hurt. That's how you'll know it's working." Gee, that's JUST what I wanted. If it doesn't, he prescribed me a backup. Both the nurse and the doc - at separate times, cited HOUSE, M.D. (And BTW - the last HOUSE episode was, I think, the best to date.)

Terri's car now has a new $2200 what-used-to-be-called carburetor in it. Now it's an "engine-management-control-interface-which-nobody-understands-and-we-can-charge-a-fortune-for". I suspect what it really does is light the "check engine" light.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

PECAN STREET - FESTIVAL

That's what Austin's famous 6th street used to be called. The photography social group I joined met up at the fest for pictures. I think I got some good ones and they are below.







Tuesday, April 28, 2009

CAR SHOPPING - STOPPED

I never did buy a new car.

The very one I wanted - color, engine, accessories, etc., is hard to find. Maybe too popular? There's ONE 2009 with some accessories I don't want plus the ones I do - left anywhere (say the salesman, but I did get that from two dealerships.)

The cars offload at the port of Houston... they store them there until shipped out to the dealers throughout the south and midwest.

I know I lose bargaining power but, if my current car is any model, I'll have this one for ten years or more and want it exactly right.

The 2010s come out in June, or July, or August. Nice specifics, huh?

My car - in remarkably good shape I believe, is only worth $3500 on a trade, which means I have sqeezed about $50,000 out of it so far. I'll try to sell online - it's in good shape... drives well, etc. It could probably go another 100k miles on that engine, and it's been serviced at all intervals - actually - early on each of those. Major service (almost $3000) assures all should continue to work well. No rust. I really LIKE this car, but it's time. Or will be.

The price I got from the dealer was inflated. I am disappointed in them.

I may be forced to go to four or five dealerships (though would prefer local) and let them fight for my business.

I'm wary of brokers because you can't find their hidden agendas or associations.

And the whole car buying expereince has taught me how many BAD sellers there are working in car sales. They communicate poorly and don't listen well.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

SHOPPING ALONE

There's a supermarket or whatever they are called these days, up the street about a mile. Until now (after - what? 20+ years of marriage) Terri (who still works) has done all or almost all the food shopping. The division of chores has me doing other stuff - pool, yard, cars, etc. Now, finding myself semi-retired, I have agreed to do the "make-up" shopping midweek to pick up the stuff we run out of, etc. To be fair, I must admit it took some prodding.

Today was my first day.

Guys should not shop in stores with other people. We see everything as an obstacle or distraction. We will buy crap we don't need. I eyed the ice-cream cakes with interest. One wasn't on my list. But then I remembered that I almost die on my bike daily to try to lose a little fat so, no ice cream cake. This time. Note to self: there are some aisles I should avoid always!

I figured: go early in the day, avoid crowds.

Yes. No. The store seems to have a restriction - you have to be a young mother with a little toddler either running amok or being held. Nice arms, there, girl! Or you must be a doddering old person, shuffling along at turtle pace. In middle of the traffic. Too bad there aren't turn signals they could leave on.

I must remember not to snarl when someone blocks the milk cooler with their cart.

They've remodeled the store and put things where you wouldn't expect them - Q tips? In the cotton ball aisle? Noooo. Papaya tablets? In the vitamin aisle? Noooo - plus, the new 'health' section (they remodeled and messed everything up!) is a mile from the vitamin section.

I'll get used to it.

But not all of it: the older women are just so friendly and chatty with the checkouts who are either the slowbaggers they wouldn't dare put online in busy times, or hung-over younger folks.

I did crash into another cart - the woman was looking the other way she said and I was distracted by something or someone (some of the young women are lookable.)
No damage. VERY happy it wasn't done with cars! A good smack, though!

Now I begin to have an idea what things COST. And they all cost too much! Seems like everything small is $4.

They put toy junk right at the end of the checkout so little toddlers can slow things down by grabbing an item and trying to guilt-trip mommy into buying the widdle furry troll. These stores are surely designed by cunning bastards!

As a man, I must quickly visit, and conquer. This, this, this, DONE! It goes back to caveman genes: kill food, drag to cave, drop.

They should have a checkout for guys only. Or type As. And why is the 10 item guy standing there with no takers when the sign should change automatically... who says 10? Why not 18 when traffic makes it so?

Organic milk? Yeah. I trust them. Those cows... they watch them.

Strangely, this store has a poor section of cookies! This is ONE area with which I am reasonably familiar - but in the redesign, many went away. They also split up the cookies with crackers in the middle. A cracker can never take the place of a cookie. Are the cracker people trying to fool the Oreo eaters? Don't think so!

Happily, the new food stage wasn't operating at this time of day, so I didn't have to endure the overloud PA system for the Magic of the Wok con gusto.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

CAR HIJINX

Jaguar - known for its fast and luxurious mobiles, must have realized, as did I, on my test drive yesterday, that they aren't really THAT fast. The 2010 KF will come with not 300, but 380 (CORRECT!) horses under the swept hood. The 2009s will be forgotten, or at least passed by. Wave goodbye to 4.2 liters and shout hello to 5.0! Or maybe you shout CHEERIO, though the British company is now owned by an Indian Company, TaTa motors (no, not the casino guys - the other ones.) This is possibly a presage of the flip of the earth's magnetic poles, as colonial karma has somehow swept into the auto industry.

If you've followed this thread for a couple posts below, you might be interested to learn that the winner (pending the DEAL) is an Audio A6 3.0T. The T is really an S (Supercharger) but Hooked On Teutonics translates that to a T.

By the way, never ever buy a demo car. I know some people who drive them hard.

Since the dealers are all certified numeric-magicians, they play hide the pea under the three cups of LEASE term and rate, Selling PRICE, and TRADE-IN. Within these three foundations of the deal, you can hide any number and 'tailor' debt to fit any qualified circumstance. The principle is easy to explain: When you have hands in three of your pants pockets simultaneously, then you are easily distracted from what is really going on.

"So what number would you expect..." is a common inquiry to get some idea of how to tailor the other variables to match your fantasy (within reason, and subject to TT&L.) My response, "In this economy, a VERY ATTRACTIVE number!"

We've attempted to thwart this sleight of hand: "You get my car, and cash. Tell me the final final final walk-away cost of that car, this color, with these options."

The salesman promised to get back to me with the number on Monday.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

CAR COLORS

It's Notice Car Colors Day as I get closer to the purchase decision.

Here in mid-Texas, there are many many vehicular whites: Ivory, white, Betty white, white wedding, white of eyes, egg white, bright white, piano key white, tusk white, tooth white, pearl white. This is because for the 5 months when it's really hot, you don't want a black car trapping heat and melting your ass off when you sit down. Which doesn't explain why there are so many black cars here - black, licorice, black flake, black as night, crow. Then there are 'almost' colors hidden in the black - hint of blue under black, hint of red under black, etc. They have better names, though - Sapphire Black, Ruby Black, Stealthy Garnet, etc. Color namers are creative folks!

I don't want black. I don't want white.

There are a million variations of silver and grey. Elephant grey. Old Age Grey. Mercury Silver, Liquid Silver, Cloudy Day, Quartz Grey, Silver-grey, Grey's Anatomy, Dirty Grey.

Grey looks dirty.

Maybe grey is smart - you never have to clean your car because it never looks clean.

There are also a batch of metallic goldens - gold, wheat, melange, sundust, etc.

You know who has the most car colors? BENTLEY. I guess all of their work is custom and you sure pay for it. The colors are BEAUTIFUL though.

Saturday is the day I hope to test drive the final three. Lexus has been forced out as the dash is beyond the boundary of what I find acceptable.

Finally you pick the car exterior color and when you get to the interior color... it doesn't come with THAT exterior color.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

MORE ADVENTURES IN CAR BUYING

Several; heavy glossy car brochures should arrive today. Apparently (wink wink) none of the marques I am considering have been affected by the GLOBAL RECESSION. Saturday we will do the tour de dealer and hopefully narrow the field. I'd do it on a weekday, but Terri wants to go too.

I have been reading up on car sales tactics and might hire a car broker - they shop the country, have backdoors into dealers, apparently, and for a fee can get just about anything. Or so it is said.

It's amazing how perception changes when you are in the market - I have gone from BLIND to most cars (except the Bentley Continental GT which a neighbor drives - more on that in a sec.) to eyeballing every one, rejecting sameness at every chance and chassis.

A neighbor drives the Bentley - I saw him the other day and perhaps made a fool out of myself: Me: "Hey, Mark, you know that "Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Goods" commandment?" Mark: "Yes?" Me: "It ain't working for me. I have to have a ride in your Bentley!" He was very nice and said just stop by when you see I'm home. If the roles were reversed I think I'd draw the blinds and arrange to be "out" when the pushy neighbor came looking for his ride.

I believe the Bentley comes in more colors than any other car model! Of course the base color is the color of money - lots of it. It's beautiful.

As I have mentioned before. I have only been impressed with one over-the-phone salesman (Jaguar) who attempted to form a relationship. The others are without a clue. Perhaps a clue is only an option on the higher-up-the-chain sellers.

The local frenzy is all about getting rid of the hail damaged cars from a few weeks back - there are great deals on cars that look like golf balls. I don't want one.

Friday, April 10, 2009

NEW CAR DANCING

Terri suggested that with her magic mortgage manipulation, we could see our way toward a new car for me. This took me from "All the other cars are invisible" to "what's THAT?, what's THAT?, what's THAT?"

I like my old Audi quite a bit, and have come to like their new noses. We drove an hour and a half last night to test drive a few.

I COULDN'T FALL IN LOVE. What a head-check! The thing that is just CHEWING on me is the now - ten years later - much cheaper-looking interior. The A6-T really GOES. I like that. That would be a winner - if I could throw a bag over the interior.

LEXUS? BMW? JAGUAR? INFINITY? ACURA? WHAT?

These are major companies with quite a varied web-experience of walking you through their pictures and stories of each model. Often confusing, slow, incomplete - here I am guys - $50K or so IN HAND... someone should step out of the crowd and make it that I'd want to do business with them.

My experience with Audi locally also turned me cooler. The Internet rep said he'd get right back to me, but took my reminder and that came after 3 hours. He never sent the brochure. When we visited, another salesperson offered NO SALESMANSHIP!

Sell benefits, or price, or whatever, but sell - DEAL! Amazing!

UPDATE:

I have now heard from all the contenders as a result of sending them the "sheets of desire" - my term - which indicate this is a HOT LEAD with some specific choices in mind. I told them all I will try to get in for a visit and test drive perhaps next week. The more I think about it, the more I think wait until fall when the 2010s come out. The more I think about the ride in the Audi 3.0T - it kicked ass, the more I want a car that'll do that, even though I struggle with their interior.

As for the Jag XF - I would definitely wait until the 2010 model since it's risky to buy the first try at a new model, which the 2009 IS. I know - we have one in our garage - it's the one that needed the new transmission!

There was a terrible hail storm maybe two weeks ago and since most of the dealers are in the same area where the storm hit hard, they got literally hammered. Many cars have multiple hits all over the hood, roof, trunk - they are being sold deeply discounted, but I don't want one. This IS diverting their attention. One dealer had 450 cars affected. If the windshield broke, the rain got in so they total those - the others, they fix and sell at a price drop after sucking the dents out.

At this point I am thinking Audi, Jag, Lexus and Infinity thoughts. Will a car sell me, or a salesman/woman? Will they deal? Will I wait until fall?

Fall signals a better sense of the economy, gas prices, and brings better deals on 09s and opens up hopefully 'new and improved' 2010 models.