Friday, November 30, 2007

One last jump

evel Any newspaper editor worth his pay will start the story of Evel Knievil's death on the front page and jump it to the back page.

Seems a fitting tribute, don't you think?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Lisa in Portland

lisaruthsean lisasean

Granddaughter Lisa and her dad Steve traveled to Portland, Ore., over the Thanksgiving holiday to visit Uncle Sean and Aunt Ruth.

In the top photo, Ruth shares a book with Lisa. Sean is sporting what looks like a shawl-collared sweater - something I haven't seen in years. Don't know if it's vintage or if they're coming back. I always liked the look.

In the lower pic, Sean and Lisa stroll through the Japanese Gardens in Portland's Washington Park. Steve shot the photos with his iPhone.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Feeling like crap

The cold Maria and I brought back from Indiana seems to be hitting me a little harder than it did her.

I was hacking and wheezing so badly last night that Maria evicted me from the bedroom about 1 a.m. and I slept in one of the guest bedrooms so she could be reasonably rested for work.

I awoke feeling somewhat better - enough better to drag the trash out for collection. A carpet measurer from Lowe's came about 9:45 a.m. and took measurements of the stairway and bonus room over the garage. I expect a call sometime tomorrow with cost estimates for the three grades of carpet we picked.

I felt good enough by midday to have a bit of lunch, shower and venture out to the postoffice and Home Depot. I also stopped by Dillard's Clearance Center, but just poked around and didn't buy anything.

We bought each other our Christmas present on Sunday after noticing in the newspaper inserts a flyer from Sam's Club advertising EP21927134a Sharp Aquos 42" LCD HDTV for $866. It normally retails for $1,499. So we ran to Sam's Club, bought a membership and snapped up one of the three remaining 42" Sharps.

The armoire we're using for a living room entertainment center has an inside width of 48" and the 26" tube TV we had in it looked a little lonely.

Of course, our cable TV provider doesn't offer any HD programming, so we'll have to wait on that. In the meantime, it sure is nice having such a big screen.

Too bad there's nothing on.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thankful to be back home

We rolled in about 1:45 a.m. (CST) today from a whirlwind Thanksgiving trip to Indiana and woke up eight hours later with head and chest colds.

We didn't get out of here Wednesday evening until about 7 o'clock and arrived at our house in Thorntown sometime around 5 a.m. (EST), grabbed a couple of hours of sleep on an airbed in our mostly empty house and made it to 9 a.m. Mass at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Lebanon to help celebrate Maria's parents' 46th wedding anniversary.

Then it was back to her parents' house for Thanksgiving dinner with the extended family - Maria's kids and her two brothers and their tg072eight of their nine kids. I suspect that's where we picked up the cold bugs.

By the time we left her parents' place in late afternoon, I was starting to freak out over the remaining work to get our house ready to market. Maria, however, insisted on a nap, so we crashed, picked up Morgan around 7 p.m., had a quick dinner at Denny's and worked on the house until about 1 a.m.

More house work Friday morning, culminating in a clusterfuck of a lunch at the new BW3 in Crawfordsville. What was supposed to be a festive family lunch with Maria's kids and parents turned into an ordeal because of general incompetence among the kitchen and wait staff.

It took more than an hour to get our food, despite the fact that all around us were being served. I occupied myself with the wireless trivia game where I narrowly beat Austin and Morgan.

After a long absence, our waiter began reporting to us that our food was nearly ready. First it was my Black & Bleau burger that was the holdup. Then he came over to say we were just waiting on the wrap.

"Nobody at this table ordered a wrap," I told him, fixing him with an icy glare and growling, "We want our fucking food and we want it Goddamned now!"

Morgan and her grandparents were off to the restroom at the moment. Maria looked horrified, while Austin grinned and suppressed a laugh.

It was one of those time when I just freaking snapped. As I was flaming the hapless little fuck, I found myself thinking, "Wow! Where did that come from?"tg071

Eventually, the food arrived and a few minutes later, the owner came over, apologized profusely and told us half our bill would be comped.

Before we left, I changed the six-character player names on our wireless game pieces to NOFOOD and SERVUS.

The restaurant had opened six days earlier and they were apparently working with a staff that had not been properly trained and prepared for business. Oddly, our friend Lauri said she and  her family were there on opening day last Sunday and reported the service was prompt.

We drove Morgan down to Bloomington, threw a couple of quarts of oil into the Subaru engine after it flickered the oil pressure light at me, took Ind. 46 to Ind. 59 to get onto I-70 south of Brazil and were off on another Friday night long haul to Arkansas.

We were forced to leave a few items in Thorntown that should have come with us, but we'll be back at least once more before the house sells and we can retrieve them then.

The dogs are still at the kennel - I'm picking them up at 3:30 p.m. - and now I'm going to whip up some soup for lunch before Maria heads for work at 1 p.m.

The photos are my nephew Marek with a dinner roll and my mother-in-law Sandra studying the BW3 menu.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"E, A, D, G... What time is the gig?"

lisastevestrings

Granddaughter Lisa and son Steve tuning up.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Where are we?

Close scrutiny of the map shows our house is about halfway between Goobertown and Buck Snort.

Really.

I couldn't make this stuff up.

Thank God for my telephone headset


I'd be in serious neck pain right now if it weren't for my wireless telephone headset.

I spent more than an hour this morning sorting out a screw-up on our first AT&T phone bill for our new home in Arkansas.

When I was looking for phone/cable/high-speed Internet service back in October, my first call was to AT&T. With their assurance that I could make changes at will, I signed up for bundled service for all three with AT&T. The bundle included satellite TV and Internet service with DISH - with a $49.99 credit card charge - and I did it with the fervent hope that my next couple of phone calls would lead me to DSL or cable high-speed Internet.

I found the local cable system has high-speed Internet, so I called AT&T back and told them to cancel the DISH part of the package. A couple of days later, I got a call at our new home from a DISH installer, saying he was on the way. I told him to cancel the visit and make another phone call to DISH. They assured me they had canceled the order and my refund was in the works.

Sure enough, a $49.99 refund rolled into our bank account on Nov. 7. I assumed that was that.

Until I got our first AT&T bill yesterday showing a $49.99 charge for DISH service.

I'll spare you the details and just say that I spent more than an hour on the phone, talking with no less than five AT&T and DISH representatives, before I was assured that the charge was removed from our account and won't show up on next month's bill.

I'll believe it when I get next month's bill.

BTW, satellite Internet is crappy at best and our year-long experience with DISH satellite TV made us absolutely joyful about going back to cable.


BTW, the telephone headset I love so much is the RCA ViSYS. It's a pleasure to use.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Squeezably dead

charmin

Dick Wilson

July 30, 1916-Nov. 19, 2007

Dick Wilson, the character actor who played grocer Mr. Whipple in more than 500 Charmin commercials from 1964 to 1985, died today of natural causes. He was 91.

Wilson was born Riccardo DiGuglielmo in England and was raised in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

His free lifetime supply of Charmin, given to him by Procter & Gamble in appreciation for his commercial work, ran out today.

I guess this makes us Arkansans

Maria and I got our Arkansas driver's licenses this morning.

The local Revenue Office got their camera "flashbub" replaced, so they could issue the photo licenses, but the color balance is hideously off. We both look terminally jaundiced - so yellow that we could do guest appearances on The Simpsons.

And, yes, we remembered to transfer our motorcycle endorsements from our Indiana licenses, so we're legal to ride in Arkansas.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Yesterday & Today

Here's Maria admiring Deb's K75 at yesterday's toy run. Maria's shot of bikes filling Main Street is on the front page of this morning's Sun.
It's 57 degrees here at midday on Sunday, which is a helluva lot nicer than the 43 degrees in Indy right now.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Back home in Arkansas

After three days of painting, carrying out trash and tying up loose ends, I decided I'd had enough of Thorntown and headed home Friday evening.

I left Thorntown at 5:33 p.m. and pulled into our driveway seven hours and 45 minutes later - a new record for me. I had earlier planned to wait and make the drive this morning, but I'm glad I just sucked it up and hit the road.

We had an invitation from Charlie and Deb Parsons, our BMW rider friends here, to join them at the ABATE toy run and since it was sunny and 60s here (cloudy and chilly 40s in Thorntown), we accepted.

There were about 500 bikes, almost all Harleys. My K1200GT was one of only four BMWs. Maria rode pillion and shot about 66 frames with a D-100, including these.

The procession of bikes, which strung out for nearly a mile, filled Main Street and everyone waved to Crystal Fowler and her bridal party as they posed for photos in front of the First United Methodist Church.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hey, that's Sean's work


USA Today has a story on page B4 about the next generation Zune, illustrated with a graphic from Microsoft showing 3 new Zunes.
The most prominent - the 80 gig - displays the Shins' Wincing the Night Away. My son Sean was an engineer on the album, which I predict will do well at the Grammys.

Tips

Author Elmore Leonard (3:10 to Yuma and other Westerns) has published his "10 Rules of Writing."
They are:
1. Never open a book with weather.
2. Avoid prologues.
3. Never use a word other than "said" to carry dialogue.
4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said."
5. Keep your exclamation points under control.
6. Never use "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."
7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9. Don't go into great detailed describing places and things.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

Deja vu all over again

..to quote Yogi Berra.
Breakfast at the Lebanon Denny's, en route to Carmel for a bank errand.
I took advantage of the last warm day this week to weed-whack and paint the outside trim of the back door.
This afternoon and evening will see the installation of a new ceiling light in the parlor, painting and wallpaper touch-up.
Also trash hauling, since tomorrow is trash day.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Boone Co. Clerk's office

Waiting for a copy of Maria's first marriage license so we can satisfy Homeland Security that we're not foreigners or terrorists or both.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Rolling

Heading back to Indiana.

Welcome to Arkistan

We got up early this morning to go to the Department of Revenue office in hopes of swapping our Indiana driver's licenses for Arkansas licenses.

Hah!

We came away empty-handed, me exasperated and amused and Maria in a blind rage.

The experience reminded me of a Third World border crossing where the rules and regulations are subject to arbitrary and sudden change and are interpreted at the whim of whatever petty official you're dealing with. The only thing missing was the solicitation of a bribe.

Maria and I thought we had done our homework. Maria phoned ahead to determine what documentation she needed. I went online and checked the requirements as summarized on the Arkansas page of dmv.org, a site that lists the ins and outs of DMV regs for the various states. Maria learned she needed a copy of our marriage license since she had changed her name when we got married. So she called the Boone County clerk's office in Indiana and spent $4 for them to mail her a couple of copies. DMV.org said all I needed was my birth certificate and Social Security card.

We slogged through a heavy thunderstorm in morning rush hour traffic to arrive at the Revenue office a few minutes before 8 a.m. Walking through the door, we felt lucky that we didn't have to wait for them to open, since the hours posted on the door listed 7 a.m. as the beginning of their business day.

But that was the end of any good luck.

A portly guy in a woodland camo hat and jacket was at the counter listening to the clerk explain why they couldn't issue any driver's licenses today because the "flashbub" was out on the camera and the technician would have to come up from Little Rock to replace it.

Not wanting to waste the trip, Maria asked the clerk to confirm that she had all of the necessary documentation: Her marriage license, Indiana driver's license and Social Security card.

No, said the clerk. Under Homeland Security regulations, Maria needed to present a marriage license for each of her marriages (there was one before ours) documenting all of her names, as well as her birth certificate.

"We don't use Social Security cards. We haven't for a long time," the clerk said.

Maria was fuming because she has to have a valid Arkansas driver's license to make application for a program her newspaper is paying for. And it has to be done soon.

The clerk said the information on the official Arkansas DFA Office of Driver Services website is incorrect.

She said the person responsible for the site had tried to make changes for the last year and a half but can't seem to get it done.

She stared blankly when I suggested that person should be fired and replaced by someone who can do the job. I suspect the concept of someone being fired from a state patronage job is beyond her comprehension.

So the information on the official website is wrong and the information Maria got on the phone from the Revenue office was wrong and the only way to find out what is actually required is to physically go to the Revenue office and be turned away.

Fuming, Maria stalked out of the office.

I stayed behind to learn this clerk's version of how to plate our two cars and two motorcycles and what everything would cost.

We have to jump through an insane number of hoops to get our vehicles plated, including inspections and assessments from the county assessor's office.

But the one that blew my mind was her answer to the question, what is the fee for a driver's license.

"It depends on what state you're coming from and how old you are," she said.

Huh?

I asked if astrological birthsign or blood type entered into the formula and she didn't even blink.

When I got home, I went to the official Department of Revenue & Finance website to compare her information with what is allegedly the official line.

Licensed drivers moving to Arkansas must surrender their home state license and:

...Arkansas law requires persons obtaining a license for the first time to show proof of legal presence in the United States Acceptable documents are: a U.S. birth certificate, photo military/military dependent ID, Naturalization certificate, a U.S. passport or Visa, an Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) photo document. (Border Crosser documents are not acceptable.) You must also show two forms of identification.

If name is different from what is on the Birth Certificate, applicant will need to bring document which changes name, Marriage License, Divorce Decree, specifically stating that you may change your name, or court order for name change.

Elsewhere on the site, we are told:

Each applicant must show either:

  • An Arkansas Photo DL/ID, or
  • Two (2) primary documents, or
  • One (1) primary document and one (1) secondary document.

Primary Documents

  • Photo Out-of-State DL/ID
  • Certificate of Birth (US Only)
  • Photo INS Documents-(Immigration and Naturalization Services)- (No Border Crosser)
  • Valid Passport (if foreign, INS card or US Visa required)
  • Naturalization Certificate
  • Court Order - must contain full name, DOB, court seal. Includes adoption name changes, gender change.
  • Photo Military/Military Dependent ID
  • Armed Forces Discharge Papers

Secondary Documents

  • Photo Work/School ID
  • Vehicle Registration/Title
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs Card/Indian Treaty Card (No Tribal Card)
  • Marriage License
  • Health Insurance Card
    Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Kaiser, HMO, etc. (Medicaid card NOT acceptable.)
  • IRS/State Tax Forms (W-2 NOT acceptable)
  • Court Order (Date of Birth not present)
  • Medical Records (from Doctor/Hospital)
  • Concealed Handgun License
  • Cert. School Transcript
  • Pilot's License
  • Parent/Guardian Affidavit
    Parent/guardian must appear in person, prove his/her identity and submit a certified/notarized affidavit regarding the child's identity. Applies only to minors.
  • Court Records
  • Prison Release Document

LEGAL PRESENCE AND IDENTIFICATION DOCUMENTS MAY BE COMBINED
Proof of legal presence documents may also serve as proof of identification. If a person shows a U.S. Birth Certificate as proof of legal presence, that will also serve as a primary identification document leaving only a secondary ID document requirement.

I checked the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles site and found even more stringent identification regulations in place, making it obvious that the Department of Homeland Security is the source of this ridiculous series of hoops through which we are required to jump.

I don't mind playing the game, however silly its rules, as long as the requirements are clearly stated at the outset.

I'm leaving for Indiana in an hour to spend a few days tying up loose ends and doing what I hope is the final bunch of fix-ups and tweaks to get our house ready to market.

I'll stop by the county clerk's office and get Maria's earlier marriage license and see if I can pick up a copy of her birth certificate if she can't find one in our garage full of boxes.

Then we can go back to the Revenue office in Jonesboro and hope we get the same interpretation of the regulations that we got this morning. I'm not counting on it.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Here and gone


Our first houseguests just left to return to Indiana.
Morgan, Shaylan and Mark drove down Friday to surprise Maria. I took them shopping Friday afternoon at Dillard's clearance center where they were dazzled with the bargains and loaded up on clothes, an experience we all repeated Saturday morning and then Maria and Morgan went back for yet another round Saturday afternoon.
I arranged to meet Maria for dinner after she got off work Friday evening. She was waiting outside Shorty Small's at the new mall when the four of us came traipsing across the parking lot. Needless to say, she was stunned to see her daughter and two friends turn up unexpectedly in Jonesboro.
By the time they left about noon today, it was a bit of a challenge to stuff all of their new Dillard's duds into the trunk of Shaylan's Saturn.
Now it's Lauri's turn.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Breakfast for lunch

At Cracker Barrel.
Notice how much more relaxed Maria looks now that we're semi-settled into our new house?

Bargains!

Shaylan, Mark & Maria with amloads of killer clothing deals Saturday afternoon at Dillard's clearance center.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Guests!

Morgan, Shaylan and Mark showed up this afternoon to visit for the weekend. The only thing missing is Lauri.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Pros and cons

We had lunch today with a local woman who wondered about my impressions of Arkansas and Jonesboro after living here a week or so.

I told her I'm compiling two lists - one of things I like about the place and the other of things I hate about it.

The photo on the right is an illustration of what I hate the most. It's creepera slow-moving mope in a clapped out pickup truck creeping through a left turn at the intersection of Main and Highland in Jonesboro.

It seems that drivers around here refuse to make turns at a reasonable speed. It's like they think they're driving on ice and they're terrified that their cars or trucks will slide out of control or overturn. God knows what they'll do when winter comes and they actually encounter slick pavement. There seems to be an unnaturally high percentage of unconscious slow drivers - mostly hideous potato-faced people on cell phones who don't seem particularly keen on actually getting anywhere.

I also dislike the fact that Craighead County is dry. The only saving grace is the fact that you can drink in several area restaurants by paying a $5 annual "club" membership fee. And it helps that our house is only about 5 minutes from the county line and liquor stores.

I'm told that the women of the county voted it dry during World War II when the men were off fighting the Axis. Imagine their surprise and outrage when they came home and discovered what their wives had done.

And, I'm none to happy that the nearest Subaru dealer is about 80 miles away in Memphis. Ditto, the nearest BMW motorcycle dealership.

On the positive side of the ledger, I love the weather so far. It's been consistently sunnier and warmer than in Indiana. Also, Jonesboro is a very easy city to learn. I've had no problems navigating and I'm also getting familiar with the county road network around our rural home.

The county road numbering system, however, falls into the Things I Hate column. It's capricious and makes absolutely no sense to someone familiar with the numbered grid system developed at Purdue University and in use in most Indiana counties.

Happy 40th Birthday, Sean!

seancopy

Sean, my oldest son, is 40 today.

As Hunter S. Thompson used to say, it gives a man paws.

Here's Sean in the late summer of 1970 with his puppy, Copy. He was an only child at the moment. His brother Steve was born about three months later.

Sean is an alumnus of Orchard Country Day School and Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis and has a degree in audio technology from Indiana University. He moved to Portland, Ore., after college and pursued a career in music and recording.

He was an engineer on the wildly successful Shins album, Wincing the Night Away. I fully expect the album to earn at least one Grammy. It's that good.

Sean's wife Ruth Greenberg is a phenomenally talented ceramic/mosaic artist.

I am enormously proud of him and don't get to see him nearly often enough. I hope that will change now that Maria and I are off of the Journal Review treadmill and I'll have more free time.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Overwhelmed, freaking out and ready to kill a dog

The garage is full of boxes, many of which never should have been shipped, but they got loaded because I couldn't stop them.

We picked up our bikes this afternoon from Charlie and Deb Parsons's house, where they have been stored in Charlie's shop - my bike since Labor Day weekend and Maria's since I rode it down on Oct. 6.

There is barely enough room to squeeze the bikes into the garage and I'm frantically trying to empty boxes to create enough space to accommodate what's coming out of the last vault tomorrow morning. But I'm getting no help. So I've decided to say fuck it, get drunk and let the car go off the cliff.

I will, however, not permit boxes of kitchen stuff that could be quickly and easily put into cabinets and drawers, displace the bikes and I will throw them into the rain before I'll let the bikes sit out at night.

We discovered this evening that Ruthie has repeatedly pissed on the new dining room carpet, thoroughly soaking it. I am close to killing her. From now on, her life here will consist of her kennel in the garage and the back yard. I will not have an idiot incontinent dog wreck our new house. I will have her stupid furry ass put down before I will let that happen.

Friday, November 02, 2007

I fucked up - I trusted them

Vault SV6669 shipped empty. The loaders were supposed to be loading the vaults sequentially based on their positions in the driveway and yard. When I asked them if it was loaded and ready to go, they said yes, so I locked and sealed it.
I called SmartMove and it looks like we won't have to pay for a vault we didn't use, even though it shipped. The saving grace was that we used their packing/loading contractor.
So we only have 8 vaults to unload today.
But the crew isn't here yet...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

They're heeeeere

The UPS truck with 5/9 of our stuff arrived about 10 a.m.
Got to inspect them and photograph the contents if damaged.