Tuesday, March 29, 2005
We've been doing a bit of shopping on eBay lately. How much? Well I'm not really sure yet. The final numbers depend on how many auctions CC wins today. What I DO know is that we're shopping there a little too much.
It's easy to get hooked on eBay though. They have pretty much anything and everything you've ever wanted and they usually have it at a MUCH lower price than retail. That's what gets you. At first it's a matter of, "Hey, look at that! I've been wanting one of those since . . . ". Then it becomes, "WOW! Look at how much money I'll save if I get one of these HERE instead of at the store!" The problem is that once you shift the focus from things you want to how much you save, it becomes VERY easy to talk yourself into things you never really needed in the first place.
We're going to slow our shopping now. I'm not even going to go over to the site for a while. There's nothing that I want or need so there's no reason to go over there and submit to the temptation right? I don't know if CC will be as lucky. She's still in a few auctions so she may go over there and check on them and that might lead to browsing and buying.
Let's all keep our fingers crossed for her ok? :-) And hey, if she ends up in another auction, it's ok. We all need to be very supportive. It's not easy to quite eBay cold turkey you know :-)
Friday, March 25, 2005
Taiko drums. You've probably seen them. They're these HUGE kettle drums set on their sides that the Japanese play. Very loud, very powerful, very fast. They're supposed to scare away bad spirits and if you've ever heard them, you can certainly believe it.
A few weeks ago, CC and I picked up a CD from the group Kodo. Taiko drums. This particular CD is called Tataku and I've been listening to it all day. REALLY great stuff. If you like listening to hard percussion or like the sound of a good drumline, check out Kodo.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Three or four times a year I like to read something old. REALLY old. We're talking classical! Last year I read The Iliad, among other things. The year before that I read Dante's Inferno. You get the idea. There are a few drawbacks to doing stuff like this though. Depending on which classic you read, you can really mess up modern fiction.
Take, for example, the work of Raymond Chandler. If you really enjoy reading mystery novels, do NOT read all of his. Read one or two, but not all of them. Why? Because after reading the complete adventures of Phillip Marlow, every OTHER detective created since then will seem a bit of a rip off.
And if you're a really big fan of fantasy novels, knights in armor and such, you'll want to avoid The Lord of the Rings and also The Once and Future King. Same reason. You read them, you enjoy them. You pick up someone else's work and you spend the entire time thinking, "Gee, this is just like what happened to Frodo."
In some cases it can really enhance the novel you're reading. If you like to read books by Orson Scott Card or Ben Bova, having a little bit of literary background really helps. There are still some living authors out there who make reference to the classics without outright COPYING them.
There is one secret benefit of reading the classics though. You'll never have to worry about someone walking off with your book. You stroll around the house with a copy of Paradise Lost, set it down on the coffee table, it'll be right there where you left it. Oh sure maybe someone will pick it up and thumb through it, but once they see that it's written in verse and that it dates back to the 1600's, they'll drop it like a hot potato.
Monday, March 21, 2005
Today the twenty-first of March, we deem,
---To pause a bit to honor our old friend,
---The queen of Texas theater supreme,
---Her talent and her wisdom knows no end.
How many great singers did she thus send,
---On out to center stage for all to see,
---And actors - for our fantasies to bend?
---Her vision held the audience in awe.
Behind the scenes I moved on silent paw,
---Inside the shadows following the show,
---To bring the light, the sound, the props, the law,
---Because, of course, onward the show must go.
I'm one of many fans of Judy Jay,
---So thrilled to wish her a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
Saturday, March 19, 2005
Time to wave BYE BYE to the folks at First Tennessee Bank. I won't be visiting THEM anymore. Cut up my bank card too for that matter. You'll all no doubt remember First Tennessee. They're the ones who wouldn't let CC open an account or even share a JOINT account with me. Without a driver's license, they just wouldn't let her bank there. Worse, they actually told us it was the same at all the major banks.
Now we know different.
To be honest, had I known how much better the service was at Bank of America, I'd have gone there LONG ago. I have no idea how B of A is in your hometown. Maybe they're awful where you are, but up here, they are great. CC got a check this week, reimbursment for expenses during her Omaha trip. Normally when we get a check like that, we go to the bank where the check was issued, show two or three forms of ID, she puts her thumbprint on the check and we finally get the money. That's fairly standard actually. My sister used to have to do the same thing. Not anymore for us though. CC got her first taste of what banks are like here when you have an account with them. We walked up to the window, handed over the check and her ID. The clerk turns to her supervisor and asks, "Do we take this as primary ID?" Supervisor looks at it, nods, and the next question is, "How do you want it?" Quick, simple. We were in and out in 5 minutes. Hell it took me longer than that just to see the person at First Tennessee about closing my account.
They did manage to get one last little jab in at me though. I had been waiting for the last of my checks to clear before I closed the account. Had a total of about 2 dollars left. Wouldn't you know it, they hit me with a monthly service charge Thursday night and wouldn't let me close the account until I paid them the difference. Between you and me though, it was worth it to be rid of them. They're just not very good at dealing with people.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
There haven't been any really major things to write about lately so I'm just going to throw together some blurbs instead.
Now that CC takes the truck to work with her most days we save money, and not just on gas. Oh it's true we'll save maybe 40% on our gas bill but where we really save is in eating expenses. Why? Because when I pick CC up, it's very easy to just stop off and eat on the way home or at least pick something up. So instead of eating out 3 or 4 times a week, we only eat out once or twice. Cheaper, yes and probably better for us both.
Spring is here. Normally good but this year my nose has been going NUTS! Sinus pressure line mad plus, now that the flowers are starting to peek out, allergies too. It is NOT a good time to be bear, let me tell you. Makes me wish I could just send in my nose for repairs. But you know, I'm pretty sure the warranty has expired.
If you haven't already, go get a copy of The Incredibles! That is one fantastic movie. There's an entire second disk filled with neat little documentaries and assorted data. Some of it is dry but most of it is really fascinating!
My Yahoo messanger isn't working properly. In the chat windows it won't show my avatar. It won't show ANYONE'S avatar for that matter. Something has screwed up the way Yahoo and Flash work together.
Speaking of flash, what's probably got it messed up is Firefox. I downloaded the new Mozilla browser a few days ago. Wasn't overly impressed. Uninstalled it. That's when Yahoo started misbehaving. Uninstalled everything, Yahoo, flash, re-installed them. Still doesn't work. Reinstalled Firefox too. Still won't work. It annoys me when things like this don't work, especially when they were working just fine the other day. Well, I'll figure it out eventually.
My neice got her license to drive today so if you're in the greater Memphis metro area, you've been warned!
Monday, March 14, 2005
A downtown problem in Manila (Philippines) is that pedestrians create a traffic hazard when many of them rush into the street almost indiscriminately to seek rides from passing cars. Thus, in January, police began to attach large wet blankets to some official vehicles roaming the streets, with the blankets flapping against the pedestrians, soiling their clothes and herding them back to the sidewalks. (Pedestrians who remain in the street after being flayed are arrested.) [Manila Bulletin, 1-17-05]
From News of the Weird, 3-14-05, 4th Item
Saturday, March 12, 2005
If you've read CC's blog you know that she and I are in the middle of looking at apartments. We've got it narrowed down to two places so far, one we've been able to have a look at, one we're going to look at on Sunday. She talked about the price difference between the two and yes, that is a factor in our search but you know what REALLY gives the less expensive place a head start? Plenty of poo spots, nice and close.
Yes, you can tell I'm a pet owner can't you? I'm not so much interested in the club house or the fitness center. These are nice things to have of course, but not nearly as nice as having plenty of places to take the dogs to go poo really close to the apartment. In an ideal world they'd just get rid of those little patio areas that apartments have and put in a little 6x6 fenced-in area where you can let your dogs out.
If you have dogs, you know why this is important. If you don't, allow me to share some of my dog-owning experience. It's 11 pm. You're tired from a long day of work (or something like it). You lay down all nice and comfy in bed. You're just dozing off when you suddenly hear: BARK! BARK! BARK! It's the sound every dog owner knows and dreads. It's the bark that says, "Papa, I gotta go poo and I gotta go NOW!"
And you know, we've all done this too. In our minds we've wondered, "you know, if I ignore it, really, how bad could it be to have to clean up in the morning? Do I REALLY need to get up out of this nice comfy bed?" Well of COURSE you do. You don't want dog poo all over the living room right?
So, plenty of good poo spots near the apartment is a must for any dog owner. It saves you from having to put on the robe at midnight and stroll down the sidewalk between the buildings until you find some nice, secluded spot.
Price? Yeah, that's important. Paid utilities? Free cable? Yeah those are nice things too. But the REAL attraction is the availability of quality poo spots :-)
Thursday, March 10, 2005
I went shopping the other day. I was over at Target and they had some nice sleep pants on sale. Very comfy, look nice, so I got a pair. I took them home, ran them through the wash and put them on. They're about 6 inches too long.
No, I'm not exaggerating. If I want these to fit properly, I'd have to lop off 6 inches. They fit fine everywhere else, the legs are just too damn long.
That makes me wonder. Just who is the model for this pattern? I'm about 5'4 which means in order for these to fit just right, I'd have to grown 6 inches in leg length and nowhere else. That would make me 5'10. This is small?
These must have been designed by a man. Honestly, only a man would make clothing 6 inches too long and call it a small thus trying to convince everyone that he's much bigger than they think.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Well naturally she made it to work and back just fine. No problems with the truck or getting to work and back. Was I worried? Not really. Only a little bit. It's one of those things where if something DOES go wrong, I'd rather it happened while I was there so I could help out.
One thing I did discover was just how much sleep I've been missing the past week or so. I woke up at about the same time I usually do, just as CC's getting dressed for work. Then I made sure she got out ok and went back to bed. Slept until near 10 this morning which means I managed to sleep almost 11 hours. That's a lot by anyone's standards. I guess I needed it.
In spite of sleepin in, I was rather productive. Managed to tie up quite a few loose ends. They're all boring though so I won't bother to list them here :-) And I managed NOT to go crazy being here with no car. Don't think I could get used to it though. Just makes me feel trapped. Worse, I'm FORCED to do work. Can't escape it by running errands :-)
Anyway, I think we'll just do this one more time, tomorrow, and then back to the old way after that. But still, I'm just so proud of CC being able to do it all by herself. I know she was nervous about it too but she made it through just fine :-)
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Wednesday. Tomorrow is Wednesday. I'm thinking of letting CC drive to work by herself tomorrow. That means I won't be driving her nor will I even be riding with her. Makes me a little nervous. Oh I know she'll be just fine. She's a big girl now and she's driven in MUCH worse places than Memphis. She knows her way to work and back and she's passed her driving test and has her license. Still, it'll be the first time she's made the drive alone so I'm a little anxious.
Hmm, that also means I won't have a vehicle of my own tomorrow. So, you COULD say I'll pretty much be a prisoner here. Anyone want to take bets on how long it takes me to go stir crazy? :-)
Monday, March 07, 2005
Well it's now official, I have shifted demographics. I am no longer a part of the coveted 18-34 age bracket. I guess this means I'm supposed to not like TV anymore and think that all music produced these days is crap. Kids have their radios up too loud, they dress funny, they act rude. Wait, actually none of this is any different from how I've been for the past 5-10 years :-)
Had a pretty good birthday this year though it started out slow. In fact, I spent most of the day just totally goofing off, watching TV and playing video games. I don't do that very often. Usually I've got too much work to do, either for a client or around the house and when I do have large amounts of free time, I always feel guilty just sitting here watching TV. Better to be reading or even watching a movie. I'm just not the type to sit in front of the TV set and channel surf.
Picked up CC and we stopped off on the way home at this place called Yaya's. It's a Mediterranean place. Not sure how the food is; I've never eaten there. The reason we stopped was for a specific dessert that CC's boss had brought in. Words cannot do this stuff justice but I'll give you the basics. It's a cheesecake, sort of raspberry topped. Chocolate all around it. Chocolate crust. Like I said, words can't do it justice, just trust me, it's excellent stuff.
Got home, had some pizza (my choice for birthday dinner) then got to the presents, WOO HOO!
The big one, the present that stands out the most came from my sister and her family. They got me a microwave! Ok, technically that's for both CC and I but still, a microwave! Oh, and a gift card to Target too, but a MICROWAVE! You know, by the time CC and I move out, we're not going to actually NEED anything :-)
Parents got me the first season of 24. Love that show. They also got me a gift card from Borders. Maybe I should start a betting pool to see how long that Borders card lasts. Will it make it to the end of the month? End of the week? End of tomorrow? Not sure yet :-)
From Judy and John, my friends down in San Antonio, I got a Painted Pony. If you read CC's blog you may have seen the one they got for her. There's an entire collection of them. They got me one of the cooler ones. It's painted up with pictures of steers. Cow Pony, it's called.
You can find out more about this particular painted pony here and about the entire collection here. Along with the pony, they also sent along a CD of some great Native American music (these were in the box featured in the "Man's Best Friend" entry).
From CC, well we went out yesterday and did a little shopping. I really enjoyed a show called Wonderfalls over on Fox. It didn't last (like a lot of good shows over on Fox and other networks) so they released the whole thing on dvd. CC got me that plus we also picked up a copy of the Special Edition of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Oh yes, and for her, a copy of The Brak Show, Volume One. Damn funny cartoon. I only saw a few episodes when it ran on the Cartoon Network so I'm enjoying it as much as she is.
So there you have it, my birthday. Oh, almost forgot, ice cream cake. Cookies and cream. Good stuff there :-)
Hmm, so where should I go tomorrow? Target? Borders? Neither, stay home and watch movies? It's so great to have options :-)
Sunday, March 06, 2005
Remember the old story about the newlywed couple where the wife is just learning how to cook and she ends up burning everything? Then the husband either eats it while faking a smile the whole time (later chugging Pepto in the bathroom) or he acts like a complete jerk and just complains the whole time about how bad his wife cooks.
Well, I'm happy to report that I'm neither of those :-) Why? Because CC made dinner tonight and it was pretty darn good. There really was only one problem with the meal: She made something I didn't like. But I'll have you know that I DID try it (ok so it took a few nudges) and it was actually pretty good.
She made chop suey. Hmm, is that how it's spelled? Hell if I know. Anyway, it's a bunch of veggies all stir-fried with seasoning and she threw in some shrimp for good measure. Me, I'm not big on that sort of thing. Yes, I do eat carrots and even snow peas but I've never been a big fan of the veggie dishes. Still, she did a super job with it. She kept saying it didn't look like the picture on the packet of seasoning and I kept trying to tell her that the dish in the picture is a complete fake. They use all sorts of nasty things on food for pictures to make them look so great. You've seen it I'm sure. Your hamburger at McDonalds NEVER looks as nice as the one in the picture on the menu. That's because the one on the menu is covered in laquer and hair spray and any number of other things to make it look more appealing.
Anyway, it was good. Both of my folks ate it, thought it was great. So no Pepto for me, thank you :-)
Remember the blog entry from last week describing our futile attempt to get a bank account for CC at First Tennessee? Well, one of the things that the new accounts girl said, repeatedly I might add, was that "ALL the major banks require a drivers license these days. Patriot Act you know." I remember the Patriot Act. Helps law enforcement get a handle on terrorists and the like. Don't remember anything quite so draconian in there regarding LEGAL immigrants and banks. And I was right :-)
Friday, I made three calls to three separate banks here in Memphis. The first was to Union Planters. Decent sized bank, offices all over the country. I told the woman on the line that my wife and I wanted to open an account but we'd run into a problem with her not being a US citizen. Without missing a beat, and with a little bit of a condescending yet humorous tone she said, "Sir, you don't have to be a US citizen to open a bank account." Right then I was thinking, "Ok, the world is making sense again."
After going over the process with her for a few minutes, I told her about what happened at First Tennessee and she said, somewhat shocked, "We have a LOT of older people who bank with us. They don't have drivers licenses. We'd NEVER turn THEM away for something like that."
Next I called National Bank of Commerce. Pretty much the same deal with them as well though not nearly as humorous. Still, I was noticing a trend.
Third call was to Bank of America. CC had tried to open an account with them online but it wouldn't let her. I wasn't so sure it was because of bank policy and I was right. Sure the online bank account program requires that you be a US citizen but that's only because if you AREN'T one, they need to verify that you're here legally and that means you've got to show them more ID.
Saturday, CC and I went to the Bank of America branch and wouldn't you know it, we got an account. She's SUPER happy about it. They were very nice, very helpful and we're all set. We just have to wait for everything to arrive in the mail (checks, check cards, that sort of thing).
I told CC, "Makes me want to go over and open an account at Union Planters and National Bank of Commerce as well, then get all the bank cards, go over to First Tennessee, find that woman, hold the cards up and ask her just which 'major' banks required the drivers license?"
Friday, March 04, 2005
This is my dog. This is my dog with the package that arrived for me for my birthday from friends down in San Antonio. Any questions? :-)
Thursday, March 03, 2005
I keep getting the weirdest questions. Most of them are just plain unanswerable but some are pretty stupid. Right now there are three that I keep hearing over and over. Don't really have an answer to them either, or at least not one that makes any more sense than the question.
Question 1: So, how does it feel to be
Question 2: So, when are you having
Question 3: So, how does it feel to be
Question 1: MarriedHow does it feel to be married? About the same as it did before actually. How does one answer something like that. You might as well aske me "How does it feel to be breathing?" It's not something you can even really put into words is it? Oh there are little things you can mention that describe the state of marriage of course. You can go into the part about not being lonely anymore. You can get into the practicalities of sharing a bathroom or closet, but how does it FEEL? The only thing that comes to mind when someone asks me this question is a line from the musical Company. It goes, "You'll always be what you always were, which has nothing to do with -- all to do with her." Unfortunately this sort of approach REALLY confuses anyone who never has been in a good marriage or those who haven't been all that happy in their marriage for a long time.
Question 2. Children
When am I having children? Well this is one of those cases where I can put in a little humor and sometimes deflect the question. I'm NEVER having children. You see, it's biologically impossible for me to have children. I simply do NOT have the organs necessary to give birth. When is my WIFE having children? Well that's different matter entirely. I have NO idea when she's having children at the current time. I DO know that it has to be at least 9 months from now. That's basic biology right? So, anytime between nine months from now and the day she starts menopause. Of course, given the advances in science today, maybe we can push that date back even further. Maybe the more accurate answer is between nine months from now and death :-)
Question 3. Turning 35
Do we all get this question? In some form or another I think we do. We get it at 20, that's for sure. And I remember getting it at 30 as well. Only time a birthday actually FELT like anything was when I turned 21. I could legally buy beer that day. The rest? Well hell it doesn't really FEEL like anything. Ok, on some forms I have to press a different check box when it asks my age range. But I'm not so old that I get any benefits out of it. There isn't a discount for people 35 and older. There's no AARP for Generation Y folks like me. Or are we Generation X? I think I'm still in Gen X. Does anyone care? No. Wait, not caring about things like this, that's a trademark of Gen X right? Or maybe I'm just getting so old my mind is going.
What I can say for sure about turning 35 is that I don't have any more gray hair on my head than I did in school. I can say that and even better, it's actually TRUE :-) Oh I'm sure there's a little LESS hair up there but I'm not balding as fast as many of my fellow high school grads. My brother in law, at this point, he was already nearly bald AND salt and pepper gray.
How did I get on the hair thing anyway? I guess your mind wanders more when you hit mid-30. Maybe that's why I have no answer to the "how does it feel" question. It doesn't feel because I'm too old to remember :-)
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
I have come across quite a few frustratingly stupid company policies in my day but I don't think anything tops what I came across today while trying to get CC a bank account at First Tennessee. It all started on Saturday when we paid them our first visit. They were quite happy to see us, very nice, very friendly, then we started filling out the paperwork. CC's got her work authorization card, no problem. She's got her social security card, no problem. Tennessee driver's license? Well no, she doesn't have one of those yet. No? Then no account for her. Ok, I'll just add her to mine. I have a license. And account there? Yes. But still no license for her? Obviously not. No adding her to my account either.
So, this morning, she and I went down to the Tennessee Department of Transportation office to get her a new driver's license and to renew mine. No problem for me of course. Just pay the fee and you're all done. For her, things were a LITTLE more complicated.
Starting in 2004, you cannot get a driver's license in Tennessee unless you're a citizen or resident alien. What you CAN get, if you're here on a student visa or something like that, is a permit to drive. You take the same tests, you get a card with your picture on it, it's just not an official license.
In order to GET this thing, after waiting in line a bit, CC had to show her birth certificate, her work authorization card, her passport, our marriage license, her social security card and a bill showing that we actually live in a house somewhere. If she was born here, of course, all she'd need is a birth certificate an social security card so the burden of proof is MUCH higher for her. But here's the real kicker. This card, despite all the documentation you have to provide to show who you are, cannot be used as a valid ID card.
So what does that mean? We found out when we stopped back at the bank early this afternoon. We show the new accounts woman CC's new driving permit thinking, well certainly this should be proof enough, only to learn that no, it must be a 100% offical Tennessee license, no exceptions, period. The foreigner permit just isn't good enough.
The woman sounded appologetic about the whole thing and said, "Oh, we want your business. This is just company policy." Me, I'm thinking, "Obviously they don't want our business THAT badly." And I'm also thinking that since my wife's money isn't GOOD enough for them, you know, maybe THEY'RE not good enough for MY money. So I'll be shopping around for a new financial institution, one that's a LITTLE less paranoid.
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Hybernating. That's my story, I'm sticking with it.
What really happened was only vaguely more exciting. CC had a schedule change and when CC has a schedule change, I have a schedule change.
Last week, CC wasn't getting much sleep. They were getting all the training materials together for their new client so she was up all night or she'd sleep early then wake up at 3 am and start working on things. I don' t know if you've ever had to go through something like that but it's damn hard to sleep soundly in a room where someone else is working like that, even if you're near-deaf like me.
So we spent a good part of the weekend unwinding from that stressed out week and catching up on our sleep. Hybernating :-)
Didn't last long though. Monday morning, I'm not making this up, I was awake at 5:30 . . . AM! Yes, that's right, me, awake and mobile at 5:30 in the morning. CC needed to be at her boss' house between 6 and 6:30 so they could go over material for managment training.
Today wasn't nearly as bad. I got to sleep in. Didn't wake up until 6:30! WOO HOO! Yes, you know there's something seriously wrong with the universe when sleeping until 6:30 sounds good :-)
Some of you out there are no doubt wondering why I don't let CC drive herselve to work instead of having to wake up early. Simple answer to that question. She doesn't have a valid license. Her Manila license expired.
Speaking of licenses, we're getting one for her tomorrow. It doesn't have anything to do with these early mornings though. We were out Saturday trying to get her a bank account but they require a driver's license now. Can you believe it? We went through all the trouble of getting a social security card and that's not enough. Have to have a driver's license too.
In fact, that's the policy with all the local banks here. Not sure if they're as picky about it over at Bank of America but since we don't have a Chase branch here or a Citibank branch, we have to deal with what's in the area. SO, tomorrow we're going to get her a driver's license . . . I hope :-) Then Saturday she'll have her own bank accounts and everything will be peaceful again :-) . . . I hope :-)