For the Love of Ephemera, Victorian Fashion Torture, and I Want My Car Back

Ok, for the second bloody time now.  Why, oh, why did this damned thing zap the whole body of this post?   I am glad I don’t have to wear clothing like this.  I like the prices and I like the coverage, but I need a waist a tad bit larger than the circumference of my spine.   Corsets had to be nasty things to wear.

Now I know why these women died young.  They couldn’t breathe.

So, should I choose to design my own fashion,  to achieve the goals of comfort and coverage, and not rely on today’s dismal offerings from gay fashion designers who manage to only come up with clothes suitable for those with an exhibition fetish and the proportions of a 12 year old boy, I would have to come up with something like this ensemble:

The illustrious Steve-o has my car this week, which sucks.  He only has it because no one else had a reliable vehicle for him to drive whilst the infinitesimal intermittent miss he claims to hear in his Audi-  when a laundry list of conditions are met- is being checked out by his high-faluting buddies down in Cinci.  So I’m driving Dad’s nasty ’92 Mazda van that does, to its credit, have nice cold A/C, but I’m having my doubts about the ball joints, tie rods and that rather disturbing lifter noise.  Steve-o is the most anal dude on the planet (and I’ve seen some very anal car enthusiasts in my time) when it comes to his own car.  I just hope that he doesn’t think that because he’s using my car- for free- that it’s party time.

It’s not a Mazerati, but it does have nice cold A/C, a decent stereo and 5 on the floor.  Damn, I miss my car.

I feel sort of sorry for Dad.  He’s stuck in that nursing home rehab center, and the food is just plain frightening.  What’s worse is he’s going to get enough scary food when he goes home and Mom attempts to cook.  On the plus side he is losing weight, but it’s sort of sad to lose weight just because you can’t identify what’s on your plate and you’re afraid to eat it.  Dad wanted me to drive his van- he can’t drive at all for at least another three weeks while his sternum heals- rather than Steve-o driving it, because Steve-o has a 40 mile drive through the middle of nowhere to get to work.  I can get retrieved a little easier should Dad’s ancient Mazda decide not to start, or if the steering and/or suspension fails.  I hope it holds together, but I can always commandeer Jerry’s Tacoma, and probably should anyway.  The Tacoma has a manual transmission and Jerry hasn’t managed to blow the speakers in it.  The Mazda would have a good stereo- if not for all the speakers being blown to hell.

Better living through chemicals, especially when they’re in pastries!

Creative Parenting, Culture Shock, and a Wardrobe Malfunction

I didn’t think the yellow rose would bloom this year- but it’s doing pretty well.

Oh, where do I begin?  The past week and a half has been absolutely insane, especially with all the stuff going on with Dad.  I have been trying to distract myself from the medical mayhem as much as I can- partially because I’ve already spent way too much time in medical facilities and hospitals due to my own laundry lists of ailments, and partially because it’s really difficult to see him incapacitated in that way.  My sympathies to the people at the rehab center- especially if he gets pissed or starts feeling a little too frisky- but I am very thankful he’s doing well.  Of course, because of Dad’s illness and surgery, I have been spending a lot more time up north, which is always a bit disquieting even when everyone is healthy and things are hunky-dory.  Things move a lot slower in a small town, and that’s different enough, but there are more subtleties for the vigilant eye to observe .  I don’t think I’ve seen white landscapers since the late ’80s. 

I thought only Jerry after a six pack or more, (or Mexicans) could get these things to run.

Here’s a solid case against the sale of multi-colored duct tape, and a caution against painting green moustaches on lame mid 90s GM sedans. Acck.  And this piece of work was sitting in the hospital parking lot. 

Along with the slower pace of life, one encounters a few things in rural areas that aren’t nearly as common (or perhaps as easily overlooked.)   I’ve seen some unholy pieces of attempts at do it yourself automotive body work, though to be fair, it’s more typically trucks that are customized in this fashion. 

It’s really scary that there’s someone out there who thinks the “General Lee’s” color scheme looks cool on an old lawn mower.

It would, however, be cool to be able to jump over cop cars like that.

Worse than the vehicles “pimped” by denizens of the trailer park, are the denizens of the trailer park themselves.  I had to have viewed at least as many bad tats just in the Wal Mart alone (though I admit I did not have the courage to get pics) as one would expect to see during Bike Week at Sturgis

Uh, I know this is your sixth margarita, but your pants are falling off…

I used to be a binge drinker, so I really shouldn’t make fun of the shitfaced, ’cause I’ve been there myself.  I really couldn’t help myself on this pic, though.  I was able to take this one relatively safely because with my good friend, digital zoom,  I could stay conveniently out of view.  Suffice to say the take home lesson from this tragic pic (and I cropped it so nobody can see her face or guess who it is) that if you’re going to get shitfaced with your buds, please wear pants that are going to stay up.  I’d even say wear suspenders if you think you can operate them seven or eight Kamikazes into it.  One would think it would be rather breezy with one’s cheek hanging out of one’s pants, but alcohol can hamper one’s ability to keep one’s drawers up- and it can obscure the knowledge that one’s drawers are dangerously low to begin with.  I get to see it all the time at home.

Now I know what to do with Jerry the next time he’s passed out.  Get creative with a red Sharpie.  Sure it’s not technically parenting, but I do have to manage a 55 year old toddler.  I need to have a little more fun with it.

I’ve always been one to practice creative parenting.  I discovered a long time ago that there are ways to keep your private things private.  Boys find certain things to be inherently mysterious and disgusting at the same time.  Nobody’s going to be looking for an extra $20 in the Summer’s Eve box, for example. 

A box no man will willingly open.  Even if he thinks there might be yuppie food stamps inside.

I found a creative way to hide perishables also.  I am not a huge fan of chicken gizzards, although I can prepare them in such a fashion that they are somewhat edible.  Though Jerry will look down at and refuse to eat dishes I might consider as delicacies, such as cocktail shrimp, Jerry and his buddy Bob adore gizzards whenever I can get them.  While hiding things in the gizzard container is not effective at all in deterring Jerry from investigating the contents, Steve-o would always steer clear of this:


Even better if I fill those containers with cocktail shrimp.

Crazy as Shithouse Rats, White Powder Madness, Nightmares from the Service Lane (Part II)

I have to say the 1990’s were the White Powder era, and I’m not talking about OxyClean.  Automotive people have always been somewhat notorious for substance abuse.  I remember a time when almost all technicians and salesmen were heavy smokers and heavy drinkers.  I knew a few techs who partook of  herbal enjoyment on a regular basis too, although this is not nearly as common today because most repair facilities and dealerships do routine- or at least random- drug testing these days.  The possibility of being singled out for the Piss Test has contributed to many people getting and staying clean these days, but drug testing was rare until the late 1990’s.  I’m not a technician, but I had to have similar training, and I worked closely with them.  I was a chain smoker and binge drinker too, but that’s about as bad as the substance abuse thing went with me. 

Unfortunately the upper-level managers (especially the ones acquired through nepotism- i.e. owners’ sons, brothers-in-law, etc.) could afford better drugs than us peons who would go out and have a few shots or maybe a toke or two on a joint.  White powder was a common scourge among salesmen, finance managers, sales managers, and general managers.  Occasionally one would see a parts or service manager who was into white powder too (I worked for two parts managers who were hard core coke heads) but it was less common.    I had the bad fortune to work in one dealership where both the parts manager (who was my direct boss) and the general manager were high as hell on coke just about every day. 

I’m plenty aware of drugs.  I’ve gotten to experience the rantings of the drunk, stoned and high for years.

The general manager I speak of (I am omitting names to protect the guilty) was about 5’3″ high and about 5’3″ wide.  He taught me one good lesson: Crown Royal is not an acceptable breakfast choice, unless you’re planning on staying in bed all day.  Mr. Roly Poly (who just about wore the Avalon he drove) came in the service drive one morning with some pretty bad scrapes on the front cover of the new Avalon he was driving.  God only knows what he hit- or how many things he hit- on the way to work, but there were some nice bright white scrapes on that all black car. He opened the door, unbuckled his seat belt, and pretty much rolled out of said Avalon onto the concrete.  If I had to guess, I’d say he was at least 40 proof.  At 7 AM.  Since the whole shop was afraid of this guy nobody had the guts to mention the obvious even as he staggered across the shop and somehow dragged himself into his office, where he probably locked the door and finished the bottle of Crown Royal he had stashed in his desk.

This dude was a certifiable psycho even when he wasn’t drunk and/or high, but when he was plastered (and chumming it up with the parts manager- an obnoxious buddy of his, not the guy who hired me, and who I also couldn’t stand) he was a class A douche.  He hated women working in automotive and was rather vocal about it.  Whenever he saw me behind the counter- which was often because I worked the retail counter back then- he would make comments about how he’d rather have one of the guys help him since I couldn’t possibly know anything, etc. and so on.  One day he read me the riot act about not wearing my name tag (neither did anyone else, but I was the only one harassed about it) even though if I did wear it, he would still call me “Tina,” even though that’s not my name.  He called all the women who worked in that dealership “Tina” for some bizarre reason.

Tina?  The only time I’ve ever had remotely red hair in my life was one time in high school when I (most erroneously) thought henna would make it darker…but I had my typical Nice-n-Easy 124 (Natural Blue Black) going on when this joker called me Tina.

I did get the satisfaction of witnessing the big blowup the owner had with both of these bozos- in the middle of the service department in front of the techs- when the owner happened to drop in right as these jerkoffs came back from the titty bar- drunk and high and out of their minds.  Needless to say, it was their last day.  I generally don’t like to see people get fired, but I couldn’t have been more overjoyed to see these two festering assholes go.  I was even more delighted when I learned, shortly after their unplanned departure, that both of them had gotten social diseases.  So they had to explain to their wives- a.) I got fired for coming back from lunch drunk and high, and b.) you’re going to need to go to the Dr. because, guess what, I gave you the clap!

I worked as a parts manager in another dealership where white powder was rampant among the salesmen.  I’ve only met two car salesmen in my life that I didn’t want to instinctively strangle on sight- one is a dear friend, the other I’ve lost touch with, but both were ex-military and very down to earth people. 

Most car salesmen are egotistical pricks who think the world revolves around them, and while they generally don’t know jack squat about what they’re selling, they are condescending to those who do actually know the product- the techs, advisors, and parts personnel.  That’s just plain grating.  My good friend was working at this dealership selling cars among the coke heads (he was not a coke user, thankfully.)  This guy was about 6’4″ and a good 250#, and he had been in the Army for 20+ years as a drill sergeant.  My friend had walked into the men’s while this other guy (who was an obnoxious little prick if I say so myself) was snorting up a line- right there in the men’s room.   Big mistake.  The next time I saw Mr. Obnoxious Prick he had a black eye, a broken arm, and pretty much looked like he’d been run over by a truck.  He was also amazingly quiet, and ever so polite when he was asking me about an order for one of his customer’s cars, so much so, that I had to ask him what the hell happened.  Maybe there was something I needed to know about keeping these guys in line.

His answer was, “I fell down.”

I thought that a bit fishy, because Mr. Obnoxious Prick was beat up pretty bad to have just fallen down.  Later that afternoon, I asked my friend, who had to work with this guy, what exactly happened.  He told me Mr. Obnoxious Prick did fall down, but he had a little help, as in, “What happened to Dinkus*,?” to which my friend replied,

“I happened to him.  He had a little help falling down. I caught him snorting a line in the men’s room.” 

*not his real name, but should have been…

I understand R. Lee Ermey is a Marine (and the movie Full Metal Jacket totally kicks ass,) but apparently, messing with a retired Army drill sergeant isn’t a very good idea either.

Crazy as Shithouse Rats, and Nightmares from the Service Lane (Part I)

I was sort of mulling over in my head the weird people and bizarre incidents that I’ve experienced in 25 years in the automotive industry.  I’ve always been in what the dealers call the “fixed operations” part of it- parts and service as opposed to selling entire vehicles.  I’m more of a techie type than an emotional, “I wanna sell you stuff ” type- so I’m not going to be good on selling someone on the pretty blue paint job and all the bright, shiny chrome.  I can tell you what a timing belt is, though, and why you are in deep shit trouble if it breaks out in the middle of the freeway. (especially if you own an older Honda with an interference engine, but I digress.)

Generally I try not to use much automotive terminology here,  because most people have absolutely no clue what I’m talking about, unless they’re motorheads too.

Most people are not motorheads and don’t understand the terminology, and I’m not into long and drawn out explanations.  Anyone who drives should know a few basic things (yes, I’ve coordinated car care seminars and I’ve gone through the New Car Checklist with hundreds – salesmen are supposed to do that- but are often too busy ignorant to do so.)  One of the most tragic customers I’ve ever encountered was a college student who had bought an ’87 Tercel (which, admittedly, that year and model was one of the very few of Toyota’s four cylinder cars I would NOT recommend) and was in tears when I had to inform her that the engine was blown and not repairable (when there’s a connecting rod blown clean through the block, the only fix is to replace the entire engine.)  She looked up at me and in all wide-eyed seriousness said, “But I didn’t even put 30,000 miles on it.”  The poor girl had run this car for 15,000 miles without changing the oil, because she thought it was only necessary to change the oil every 30,000 miles.  What was left of the motor oil in this car was a clumpy, burnt-up, coagulated mess stuck to the bottom of the oil pan.  I’m surprised it ran as long as it did before it blew up.  Oh, and decimal places are important.  Just so you know, although most manufacturers have since gone from a 3,000 mile to a 5,000 mile maintenance interval.

I had another guy who contributed to a catastrophic failure on his own car by assuming that just because it’s red and it’s a fluid that it’s automatic transmission fluid.  Had he called me (and he was a good customer of mine) I would have told him that while the stuff that comes out of a Toyota cooling system is red, it’s NOT ATF, and putting ATF in your cooling system is a Very Bad Idea.   That mistake cost him about four grand.   Our tech had to flush his entire cooling system, replace the water pump, head gasket, and power wash just about everything in the entire engine and cooling system that comes in contact with coolant.   All because he was too cheap to pay us to do a $79.95 coolant drain and fill- and that would have included the Toyota Red coolant.  Penny wise (no, not the clown) and pound foolish, no?

This is red.  It goes in your Toyota’s  engine cooling system.

This is also red, but does NOT go in the engine cooling system.  Ever.

Certain vehicles are very prone to acquiring foreign objects in the air intake systems.  I loved the older Camrys, but so did vermin, especially in rural areas.  I don’t know how many air filters we discovered torn to hell and stuffed with dog food.  We also encountered a few blower fans (squirrel cages) that ended up being nesting areas for mice.

Mice and blower fans are not a very good combination.

I worked with a particularly obnoxious primadouche technician one time- well two times, at two different dealerships. Lucky me.  He was a gifted tech, and I would definitely trust him to work on my car, but he was a festering asshole of a human being.  He did have a very glaring weakness for one who works with heavy machinery and sharp things though. He could not stand the sight of blood.   He was working on an older Camry on which the customer complaint was “a rubbing sound when you turn on the blower motor.”  As he pulled the squirrel cage out, to his horror, was a nest of chopped up baby mice- which he dropped on the floor as he ran over to the nearest trash bucket and began projectile vomiting.

Always the inciteful person in the shop, (with my iron guts and the gleeful assumption that I’d found Mr. Primadouche’s Achilles heel,)  I wandered on over to see if he’s just being a pussy, or if I really needed to call the squad.   Being that it was the former rather than the latter, I picked up the squirrel cage, dismembered mouse parts and all, dumped it out in a trash bucket that wasn’t being puked in, and then proceeded to power wash the rest of the guts out in the wash bay.  When Mr. Primadouche was done blowing chunks, I calmly laid the squeaky clean squirrel cage on top of his workbench and went back to checking in my stock order.  The rest of the guys in the shop were rolling on the floor with laughter, that the “parts bitch” had- yet again- shown up Mr. Primadouche.

This was the same douchebag who tossed a Celica exhaust (yep, not just the muffler-this unit was complete from the cat back) across the shop at me because he was pissed that he got the wrong one.  He gave me the wrong information when he ordered it.  I know, I should have made him give me a VIN, and from that moment on, I did exactly that anytime he wanted me to special order anything for him or any of his buddies ever again.  I’m just glad he missed, because that son of a bitch would have left  a mark.

I got a little bit of revenge when he and the washboy were smoking their lunch one fine afternoon.  I never understood why he would sit in his truck and smoke the reefer at lunch when there was a highway patrol station next door, but these two would get high out there every day.  This truck looked like something that belonged in a Cheech and Chong movie.  It was a jacked up fugly old Dodge 4X4 that looked like it had narrowly survived the apocalypse.

The belt molding (where the bottom of the window meets the door frame) was just above my head.  So Cheech and Chong couldn’t see me (though I could clearly see that fine skunkweed smoke billowing out of the cowl panel) as I took a rubber hammer, banged on the driver’s side door, and at the top of my voice screamed, “POLICE!  OUT OF THE TRUCK NOW!!”   As I was running across the lot after the two had fallen out of the truck, I looked back and sort of felt bad because Primadouche had been so scared he wet his pants.

To be continued…

Everyone Has a Purpose, Apparently Mine Involves Graciously Accepting Others’ Shit

Suffice to say I’m not in a terribly great mood today.  The pragmatic side of me says that Jerry was a bit overdue for a drunk-n-stupid episode- it’s been almost a week- so I should be happy with conveniently being out of town and missing the Monday Night drunk-n-stupid.  The only problem with that was I got the Wednesday Night make-up round complete with two of the three elements I hate about the drunk-n-stupids.  One, he started in about money, blissfully ignorant of how much I just plain pay out for his skank ass, and also blissfully ignorant that when you sell crap on E-Bay you have to pay a fee on it, and you have to pay to ship it.  Explaining anything involving money or expenses to him when he’s trashed is like nailing Jell-o to a tree.  I should have just nodded my head and agreed with him- because when he’s shitfaced (even more than when he’s sober) he thinks any crazy shit that pops up in his head is Gospel truth, but I was stupid and decided to set him straight on a few things.  Mistake.   

So I got the oat opera torture until midnight and an attempt at drunken groping that was not only futile but just plain disgusting.  The problem is the only time he even gets horny is when he’s shitfaced, and the only thing he can do about it is slobber all over me and wave his nasty cigarettes around and spill beer all over everything.  Blecch.  My standards admittedly are low, but that’s just plain nasty.  There are a few things that can put an old cougar off doing the wild thing with the quickness:

Cigarettes.  Even back in the day when I smoked, I had the common courtesy to wait until AFTER the deed was done to light up.  Now that I haven’t smoked for years, just smelling cig smoke is enough to make me gag- without waving the damn thing in my face, ashing all over the place, and getting way too close to putting burn holes in my sheets and my skin.

Few people are more passionate about their hatred of smoking than ex-smokers.  Believe it.

Being shitfaced.  Natty Lite is not good for the breath.  Especially when you’re belching up used Natties in my face.  Waving the half-full beer can around in my bed, and possibly even spilling some of that embalming fluid swill in my bed sheets while doing so, does not earn any points for charm either.  Go back to your own hole and be shitfaced by yourself.

If you drink your dinner, do the world a favor- sleep alone.

Country music.  Country music has to be the #1 anaphrodisiac for me, save for extreme body odor.  Being that I am nothing to look at, and am proportioned like a mutant troll I can’t be terribly picky.  But start playing that awful song about saving a horse and riding a cowboy and you might as well understand that you’re not getting any action from me until you turn that torture off. 

I may be poor and white and mostly self-educated, but my family tree does actually fork.

Needless to say, even though he hasn’t had a woody since Bill Clinton was president (and probably never will again), last night was not the time to try to resurrect the dead.  It was certainly not a good time to start in pawing and slobbering on me.

Normally his drunk-n-stupids are just part of life, but last night’s really got on my nerves.  Dad is in the intensive care up north awaiting bypass surgery on Monday.  I spent most of the day Tuesday with Mom while the Dr.s were trying to figure out what was going on with him and what to do.   Now that they know what’s going on and what they’re going to do, they’re pretty much just watching him and trying to get his sugar and sinus infection under control before then. I decided he can watch History Channel just fine in the meanwhile without me sitting around up there not getting anything done except exposing myself to exotic germs and various funky assed diseases- whilst sticking to the god-awful uncomfortable vinyl hospital chair. 

Even so, I’m worn out and freaking out at the prospects of Dad having to have open heart surgery and all that, so I don’t need a ditzy assed drunk keeping me awake and being an obnoxious little titty baby.  Granted, I know that Jerry is both a ditzy assed drunk and a titty baby- he is truly helpless -which is aggravating as hell to me.

Shit: one of the most common elements in the universe.  Stupidity is the other.

This is a guy that if one of the dogs gets a case of the shits and unloads on the floor (fortunately the girls are trained, and this does not happen often) the first thing he will announce when I come in the door is, “Somebody shit on the floor and you need to clean it up!”

Oh, how many times I have wanted to rub his nose in it.  I don’t expect him to get the rug cleaner out, but at least make an attempt.  Scrape it into a bag or something.  It’s just shit.  As long as you don’t eat it, it shouldn’t kill you.

I know he was raised by wolves, but come on.

Ineptitude is Possible, and the Obfuscater in Chief!


Ineptitude is Possible!  I love pragmatic slogans.  This one would be a good one for the Obama campaign, although in my opinion, framing Obama as being “inept” would be akin to saying, “Obama might be a socialist,” or, “Hitler sort of disliked Jewish people.”   

“Incompetence and Apathy” would probably be a more accurate assessment of the Obama regime, though in all fairness, he’s been perfectly competent when it comes to obfuscating.*    Obfuscation is Obama’s number two skill, right behind deception, which is closely related.  I’ll give him credit: It’s easier to lie, cheat and otherwise deceive the American public once the smokescreen is in place. 

*obfuscate: (verb) To confuse someone or to obscure the meaning of something. To make so confused or opaque as to be difficult to perceive or understand.

I know that I am very clearly politically biased, so yes, anything I say politically is almost always going to be at least a bit right-leaning.  I do find it a slight bit justifying that Bill Clinton (not exactly a paragon of economic conservatism, but he does tend a bit more to the center than BO and crew) has called Obama out on his economic policies.  The problem is, Obama isn’t going to listen to critique from the left anymore than he gives a rat’s ass about anyone on the right, or anyone who actually has to work for a living.  He’s going for the gay activists’ and (as a natural progression, Hollywood’s)bank roll, and setting up a nice, thick smokescreen for the rest of us at the same time.

In all honesty I don’t consider gay marriage to be a civil rights issue any more than it’s a civil right to do the nasty with your car like that dude on TLC.  Discriminating against someone because of their race is a civil rights issue, but failing to make provisions for those who indulge in unorthodox behavior is not.  Should furries get a special dispensation to dress up like Secret Squirrel at work?  What about their civil right to be whatever woodland creature their heart desires?

I don’t care what people do to get their jollies.  Generally if you’re not hurting someone else, then the government really shouldn’t mess with you, even if you are a nut job.  I would even go so far as to say there would be a lot less drug abuse (and a LOT less of the associated crime) if that crap were all legal and inexpensive to obtain.  The gene pool would necessarily chlorinate itself- the dealers would go out of business quickly as the junkies OD and die off. I find it sad that we have not learned a lesson from Prohibition.   No demand, no supply.  Make it easy to get and the illegal suppliers go out of business overnight.  Problem solved.

It sounds cruel to say that, but I can’t think of a better deterrent to drug abuse and the associated crime than to witness what it does to people.   However, I don’t think it’s imperative for society to sanction and encourage irrational and dangerous behavior.  There’s a difference between permitting something to occur and encouraging it.  If two people of the same gender want to live together and share all their business it is possible to do all those things on a legal basis.  What two consenting adults do behind closed doors is their business too- and I am including straight people in this assessment.  Many homosexual practices spread diseases, but straight people can spread diseases and such too.   Admittedly observing strictly monogamous partnerships (regardless of orientation) would be healthier over all for everyone.  However, in practical application, strict monogamy, especially among straight people-  is a lofty goal. 

Be careful what you wish for.  It might really suck.

The benefit to society in the whole straight, monogamous marriage paradigm is that generally it’s better for children to be raised by two parents (one male, one female) and human reproduction still requires one male and one female to produce children in the first place.  I understand that there are geezers out there who are done with the whole breeding thing (me included) and there are people who for whatever reason do not wish to procreate.   Sometimes people of the same gender are attracted to each other even though that whole concept holds no charm for me.   Whatever floats your boat.   That’s fine.  Live together.  Do the horizontal mambo.  Share each other’s checking accounts and all that.  I don’t care.   But there is no benefit to the greater society in sanctioning or encouraging such relationships, and it is well to remember history.  Much of the reason for the downfall of both the Greek and Roman empires was the acceptance and popularity of homosexuality- the populations could not sustain themselves. 

The bottom line is as far as individuals go, do what you’re going to do.  I have no problem with “special friends” having a legal agreement that protects the other partner should the other die, or to have power-of-attorney for each other, or shared properties, etc. as if they were relatives, but those provisions (at least in Ohio) are already in the law.  Leave it be.  And truth be told, if every fairy princess on the planet decided to marry his boyfriend- or his Ford Escort for that matter- it truly wouldn’t matter all that much to me if I could afford my scripts.

Now that Obama has become the belle of the drag queen ball, it becomes easier for the media and people in general to forget about his dismal economic policies, Obamacare, the millions of people who are already paying a LOT more for their healthcare because of Obamacare, and his stonewalling on domestic energy development.  These are the real issues.  There will always be gay people.  There will always be gay people who want the greater society to celebrate their particular fancy, and who have deep pockets with which to buy liberal politicians.  However, that issue pales in comparison to the energy and economic failures that BO doesn’t want to talk about.  Those are the issues that should be front and center, not whether or not gay people are going to live together and have relationships, which they are going to do whether the state sanctions them or not.

In all seriousness, I sincerely hope people think before they vote.  Obama is not qualified to run the toilet paper roll in a porto-john, let alone the Oval Office, and the past 3 1/2 years have proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt.  I am not an incredibly huge fan of Mitt Romney, but I’d take Bill Clinton again over Obama.  At least Bill Clinton was smart enough not to entirely rely upon the lunatic fringe.

Killing Me With Country Music, Bad Tats, and Civility is Dead

I am not a fan of country music.  Ironically, many country musicians espouse political and social views that are similar to mine, and for that reason alone I’d like to show their art a little love, but there’s something about that music genre in general that makes me want to projectile vomit, cry, and drive my car off a bridge all at the same time.

I don’t know if my loathing is born out of being trained in classical voice- it might be hard for some to imagine, but I enjoy opera and have actually performed a few arias in my time.  The most important part of classical training isn’t so much about style as it is control- learn the control and you can adapt to any style.    I also enjoy rock and heavy metal (especially the more orchestral types of rock/metal) and have been known to (long time ago) cover everything from Rush to the Scorpions to Stevie Nicks and even some Led Zeppelin.  I have a broad vocal range so I can get away with pretty much any style I want.  I actually enjoy most music (except for rap, which is simply loud drug-induced glorification of cop-killing and sister-raping) including some country-related genres such as bluegrass (as long as they don’t sing) and blues and jazz.  I even find David Allan Coe hilarious, mostly because his music is gloriously politically incorrect and he will lampoon anything, but start in with the “achy, breaky heart” stuff and you lost me.

Unfortunately, Jerry adores the country music that I can tolerate the least- the really old time twangy, sad sap songs about dead dogs and Momma gettin’ drunk and Daddy beatin’ all the youngin’s.   He likes to crank it up when he’s wasted, which is usually at night when I’m at least attempting to get some sleep.   This is not the country music that is a bit less odious, the kind you can almost mistake for pop.  It’s the kind of music that if you play it backward you get your truck back, your old lady back, the train un-runs over Momma, and you end up with a fifth of Jack Daniel’s in the bargain.  I can’t stand it.  I’ve tried to make myself tolerate it, but the love’s just not there.  Maybe you have to get drunk to appreciate it.  The only way I can appreciate it is when it’s turned off.

Something about that “Achy, Breaky Heart” song makes my IQ drop just thinking about it.

When I worked in some of the rural dealerships I had a few techies who insisted on blaring that awful stuff out in the shop.  I responded by cutting the breaker to their power strips so their jamboxes wouldn’t work.   Once they figured that out, I came in early and re-tuned all their jamboxes to the classical station.  Classical music in general (but especially Mozart) is good for the analytical mind, and some of those six-fingered yokels could use a little help with that.  At least after my re-tuning the oat opera lovers decided that they would humor the old bitty and listen to the Oak Ridge Boys,  Hank Williams, and Boxcar Willie with headphones.

It seems that the only people group out there that is acceptable to lampoon these days is the Redneck Nation.  Perhaps my distaste of Waylon Jennings, et al is a way of distancing myself from my redneck heritage.  I have to admit though, that I’m not that far removed from the trailer park.  Poor white folks are poor white folks after all.  I may not care much for NASCAR, (stock car racing has to be the most inane “sport” ever) either, but at the end of the day, yeah, I still believe in God, the US Constitution, guns, and guts.  The alternatives to those aren’t panning out so well.

I also refuse to get tattooed.  I’ve played around with the thought of having eyeliner tattooed on but I don’t like the thought of someone getting that close to my eyeballs with a needle.  I have a lot of friends with tats, and as far as I’m concerned, to tat or not to tat is a personal decision.  I still envision those horrid monstrosities- really bad sailor’s tattoos- on my Grandpa’s forearms.  I can’t imagine they looked good when he had them done when he was 18 and in the Navy- in 1943.  In 2006, when he was in the assisted living center, right before he died, they were positively frightening.  I knew there was a reason why he wore long sleeved shirts, carefully buttoned at the wrists, even in high summer.  He was a railroad executive for many years after he had served in the Navy- and didn’t want anyone to know he had those horrid tats.    That would be my luck.  I would end up with something positively embarrassing and hideous, like my best friend in high school who had her boyfriend’s name (Ray) tattooed across her back in huge letters.  When she broke up with him, his name was still there, to remind God and everyone.  I suggested to her that she modify her back and add the letters BESTOS- and see if she can get paid to advertise brake pads.  That got me a punch in the arm.

I find it hard to imagine this dude ever finding gainful employment, unless he can wear a ski mask, or keep the bag on his head all day.

It used to be that people had some manners.  Not anymore.  I can play that game too, and in some ways I do.  The next time Jerry decides to drop a load when I’m brushing my teeth (we only have one bathroom- acck!) and neglects to flush and spray, so my toothpaste ends up tasting like “shit with a hint of mint,” I’m going to leave some dog bombs under the seat in his truck.  And I’ll set all the presets on the truck stereo from “Country Torture 105” to the classical station too, since he doesn’t know how to change them.

Country is to music like Homer Simpson in a muu-muu is to fashion.  Humorous and nauseating at the same time.

Creative Use of Free Speech and Feminine Hygiene Items!

Every time I go up north I get some kind of culture shock, whether it be the chick in the 5X snowman print jammies (with the thong strap hanging out) attempting to single-mouthedly devour an entire Taco Bell, or the dude in the Walmart with a face full of piercings, and arms covered in various white supremacist tats that I wish I had been able to get a picture of but I didn’t have the courage.  I always get to see the cutting edge of redneck culture when I visit my parents, and this weekend did not disappoint. 

Dad did wonder why I wanted a picture of that, until I blew it up and he could read what was written on the Kotex.  Then he had to acknowledge that it was funny, and worth taking a pic.  I am glad that Steve-o never put Sharpie + maxi pad together when he was going through his Puberty Demon visitation.  I am sure he would have left Kotex commentary everywhere.   I know he covered one of his buddy’s cars in them once, but they must not have had a Sharpie handy.

I can think of better pranks, but this one is fairly harmless.

One of my favorite things about digital cameras is just how easy it is to point, click, upload and share.  I know the guys at work have been begging me to get a video camera for the longest time so they can observe Jerry’s antics, but I can’t dig it up in that little emotional stub I have in place of a heart to do it.  Just because it is potential YouTube gold doesn’t mean it’s very nice to film it.  Admittedly, after last night’s oat opera episode I did feel like getting some sweet, sweet revenge, but I plugged in the Skullcandys (they have some really nice noise cancelling headphones) and enjoyed some favorites from the 80s instead.  I don’t know why, but when Jerry gets into his “I wanna crank up bad country music” mode, he goes for the twangiest, most god-awful country station in the area.  Even when I used to get shitfaced (and this was years and years ago)  I can’t think of a time when I was ever shitfaced enough to enjoy Boxcar Willie- or Willie Nelson for that matter. 

Fanny, my behemoth wandering feline, is adjusting much better to her collar, bell and ID tag than I thought she would.  I did get a few days’ worth of stink-eye out of it (and cats are masters of the stink-eye) but once it got through her head that the collar wasn’t coming off she has gone into normal Fanny mode which is, “aw, what the hell, as long as I get food.”  I should also say catnip, because she goes apeshit over that.  Every cat I’ve ever had except Forrest (and he had major Issues) has positively adored the stuff.  Isabel rolls and thrashes in it, as does Fluffy-Butt, but Fanny (who normally is not a fighter) will swat the other two away and actually attempt to box them.  It’s hilarious to watch.

It’s almost sad that I’m reminded of poor Forrest.  He was half-Siamese and had the most beautiful blue eyes.  However, the poor guy also had feline herpes, and had been kicked in the face by his previous owner, so he had a broken jaw that never healed right, and most of his teeth were missing.  Feline herpes is not a social disease in the way we think of social diseases in humans.  It is a disease that can be prevented with a vaccine, but the vaccine has to be given before the cat gets herpes for it to be effective.  The herpes infection is present in many cats that never show symptoms, but for some cats, like Forrest, it weakens their immune systems and predisposes them to wicked eye and respiratory infections.  The first time he got sick he was dehydrated, blowing snot, had to get sub-cu fluids (this is not a fun process) and had to be force fed with a syringe.  Then he had to take the l-lysine supplement for the rest of his life, which did give him several years until he got sick again and he died almost as soon as he got sick the second time.  Poor guy was only 12, which isn’t all that old for a cat, but he had suffered a lot before we got him, and he had a weak constitution.

Oh, well.  Poor Forrest.  And yes, he was named after Forrest Gump, because when we first got him he was terrified of everything and it seemed all he did was run.

Dubious Distinctions, Freud Would Have a Field Day, and It’s Cougar Pool Time Again

I have not set up the Cougar Pool again, but I have everything ready to go- chlorine, shock, a brand new floatie, and a new filter kit.  I do not swim – at least I don’t dare dunk my head- in unchlorinated water.  I learned the lesson long, long ago when I got a wicked as hell ear infection from swimming at one of the reservoirs.   I should be thankful the water in the reservoirs is chlorinated before it ends up coming through my faucet if it’s that filthy.  I might go to a public beach at the reservoir, and I may consider wading, but I sure as hell am not dunking my head.  Never again.  I like the Cougar Pool water to be crystal clear and Ph perfect.  That way if I do want to dunk my head- or if I fall off the floatie- it’s all cool.  I shouldn’t catch any diseases at least.

So as soon as I clean off the back patio and make sure Jerry hasn’t left anything sharp lying around, it will be ready to go. I should know that Central Ohio in May is generally still Monsoon Season, and that the temperature still hasn’t quite stabilized at Stygian Heat yet.  We don’t put in vegetable plants until those two weeks or so between May 15 and Memorial Day for that reason.  It can snow in May.  Jerry will be a busy little camper with planting next week, but this week it’s supposed to rain and temperatures will only be in the 70’s at best.

Highs at 80° and above (somewhat consistently) are required to use the Cougar Pool.  There’s no heater, so if temperatures dip into the 50s at night, that will be one frigid pool the next day even with the greenhouse effect of the sun and the pool cover.

Isabel is 5# of all black feline sweetness- when she’s not being evil, that is.

I have to wonder about some of my dreams lately.  I think that I’m going to have to close the bedroom door so I don’t wake up to Isabel chewing on my hair again.  I don’t know why she does that, but it’s highly annoying.  Generally Clara and/or Lilo, and all the cats are quite welcome on the bed.  Sheena doesn’t attempt to get on the beds because her bad hips do not allow her to jump high enough, which is fine with me, because she lacks the precise motor skills the other dogs have.

Maybe Sheena’s a total klutz because she has no hip sockets, and the ball portions of her femurs just sort of free-float.

Even if it’s not painful- and it probably is- such a condition can’t allow for terribly fluid movement, but Sheena is what Sheena is.  Sheena usually simply flops at the side of the bed and splays out on the floor, occasionally grunting and snoring, but she’s a sound sleeper.  Clara and Lilo both are attentive to every little noise, and sleep very lightly, but when Sheena’s out, she’s out.  The cats usually simply curl up and purr and sleep and don’t give me any trouble.  Usually when the cats get annoying at night, it’s because their food bowl is empty, but I had filled the cats’ food bowl and the water bowl before I went to bed.  So who knows what Isabel’s problem was last night, but I really don’t need to have dreams of assorted men-I-think-are-hot chewing on my hair.

I really don’t think (at least I hope not) that Neal Schon would really want to chew on my hair (ewwwww) and spy on me in the shower.  I really don’t think any man alive would really want to do either of those things, (and one that would want to do either of those things would scare the hell out of me,) but dreams are weird.  When the old man puts a bottle nipple on a Heineken so he can drink beer whilst horizontal, well, that’s scary too.  Fortunately that too was a dream.  Jerry would never dream of drinking anything more highbrow than Bud Light, he doesn’t like beer in the bottle anyway, and if he could remain horizontal whilst drinking beer, he’d never leave the bed.

I was thinking about it this morning and realized I have the most bizarre luck.  It’s not necessarily bad, it’s not necessarily good- but my life seems to be an ode to Murphy’s Law.

1.  If I am “lucky” enough to get the last of a highly sought item, it will either be broken, missing pieces, or entirely not the thing pictured on the box.  I really couldn’t use *and should have checked, shame on me* the “last” pair of  size 7 sandals, on the clearance rack that I really wanted, only to get home and discover that there was one 7 and one 9 in the box.   I may be ill-proportioned, and the instep on my right foot is slightly higher than the left, but both feet are generally happy in a size 7.  9 is way the fark too big even for my higher-instepped right foot.   Bastards.  But, I should have checked.

2. If I remember to bring the DS when I have something boring to do that potentially involves sitting and waiting, I get right in.  If I forget the DS, I will encounter every imaginable delay and will get to spend an eternity either immersed in the abyss of daytime TV or buried in vapid, aged, so-called women’s magazines.   I don’t really get into too many periodicals.  At least the Vet has some good ones- Dog Fancy, Cat Fancy, and various scientific and veterinary journals and such.  But I really can’t take Glamour, People, Good Housekeeping or any of those “parenting” magazines.   That crud makes me want to vomit.   The good gossip rags ended when they stopped printing the Weekly World News.   That was Great-Grandma’s favorite gossip paper, even though she subscribed to them all for the entertainment value, and for the hope that they would lampoon Ted Kennedy yet again.  She really despised Ted Kennedy. WWN is still available online, but you have to have Internet access, and most Dr.s offices and such do not have free wi-fi.  It is nice to know, however, that someone is keeping track of who has the World’s Biggest Butt.  That piece of knowledge could be important.

3. I probably have more medical anomalies than 99% of the population.  While this makes me really popular when I’m in a medical setting, it can make my healthcare become a real circus.  I have had medical students, nursing students, ophthalmology students, phlebotomy students, you name it, get to observe my bizarre body as a instructional exercise.  Usually I don’t mind, because hey, maybe something about my bizarreness might benefit the cause of science, but sometimes it’s a bit off-putting.  The medical student who freaked out at being shown my CT scan before I had sinus surgery was priceless.  He stood there next to my family Dr., wide eyed, simply saying, “OH MY GOD, how does this poor woman stay standing???”  Not very well, I assure you.  It was even more fun when I went to the cardiologist for an echocardiogram several years ago, and of course, it was his day for the medical students.  They glared  at my beating heart on the monitor (which was kind of cool to watch,) as the Dr. (who seemed as excited as a kid in a candy store,) informed them, “This is classic rheumatic heart disease.  You usually don’t get to see this outside of the third world,”  as he pointed out my two damaged heart valves.  Special.  He also said that I probably won’t need them replaced until I’m 75 or so.  If I live that long, that is.  This doctor obviously didn’t know that for all intents and purposes I did grow up in the third world.   Just like Deliverance, only without the benefit of mountains or banjos.

Now, class, don’t put ’em in the bed like this. They might snap their necks, and that would make us look bad.

I Am the Anti-Tan, Screwy Things in the Name of “Beauty,” and the Joy of Being Inciteful

I’m no beauty queen, but this is SCARY.

All this hoo-hah about some very deranged woman who is accused of dragging her five year old into a tanning bed is really disturbing.  Tanning was trendy back in the ’80’s too, and back then the bulbs used in the beds would literally fry the hide off a person.  I don’t think today’s tanning beds use such intense bulbs, but it certainly can’t be healthy to voluntarily expose oneself to all that direct heat and radiation. Oh, and anyone who would drag a five year old into a tanning bed to be toasted like an English muffin should not be allowed to have custody of a kid.  Ever.  Then again, in a perfect world only certain people would be capable of breeding.  The fact that the fittest aren’t always the ones spawning sort of casts some doubts on Darwin’s theory.  The gene pool doesn’t really seem to be chlorinating itself.

Many of the girls I knew in high school went to those tanning beds like religion- and now they look like the California Raisins.  I am certainly no beauty and I am certainly not free of skin damage- most of mine is actually through burns, (especially one bad incident from taking a radiator cap off a bit too soon…) but I have more than enough stretch marks, and a plethora of assorted scars from everything from a horrid case of chicken pox to bug bites, to abrasions, to falling into the coffee table, and even one interesting scar from a claw mark given by a very frightened dog.  However, I don’t tan.  When my super white skin is exposed to the sun, the results are freckles, splotches and burns.   I have never even attempted tanning in a tanning bed in my life, and at 43 I don’t plan on starting it now.  I have seen the leathery, wrinkly visages of the tanned “beauties” of the ’80’s as they look today- and I don’t want to go there.  Ever.

In the summer I can barely leave the house without slathering on the Factor 50, and this is in Ohio, where there isn’t a whole lot of direct sunlight, and it is not exactly a tropical paradise.  Even so, I’ve been known to get sunburn in the car.  It does get hot in the summer here, but it seems hotter than it really is, because the humidity is usually somewhere around 100% most of the time.   I have been told that 88° in Columbus OH in high summer seems hotter than Phoenix AZ at 110°, but never having been to Phoenix, I really don’t know if this is true, at least not from my own experience. 

Throughout history women have done some pretty screwy things in the name of beauty.  Ancient Roman women used lead as face powder.  Chinese women bound their feet so they couldn’t walk.  Even today we color our hair, (I freely fess up to that one) pierce our ears (yeah I did that too) and pierce various other places (not really game for that) and get tattoos (I might consider getting eyeliner tattooed on, but that’s about it.)  I don’t know of any culture that regards excessive body hair on a woman to be attractive, so removing superfluous hair is a Big Deal too.  It’s one of my major battles- to avoid looking like Sasquatch at all costs.  As fast as the hair grows on my body in unauthorized places, remaining acceptably hairless requires constant vigilance.

I know I shouldn’t enjoy controversy as much as I do.  While part of me wants to hide out in the ivory tower, another part of me can be derisive and critical.  There is a fine line dividing healthy, rational debate and presenting the facts, versus rabid activism, and for my own sense of rationality and sanity I have to be careful not to cross it. 

As far as things political go, the easiest way for me to describe where I stand is, “just to the right of Reagan.”  I am more conservative (at least politically) than most, and I have my reasons, but my reasons should never keep me from listening (sometimes the “other side” is right) or from being so focused in my disagreement that I can’t see little bits of good in what I perceive to be an ocean of bad. 

Conservatism doesn’t mean closed-mindedness, (nor does it mean racism or bigotry) but it does mean keeping a bit of a skeptical eye- on both sides.  I may not like someone’s philosophy on certain things- and I am outspoken enough to say so- but at the end of the day my goal is to stay rational- and to remember that while some ideologies may be detrimental or even what I consider to be evil- other people have their reasons for holding them that may not be rooted in evil but because they came from different background and perspective than mine.

It’s going to be a long next few months for me, trying to remain somewhat civil, keeping from alienating dear friends who don’t have the same political outlook I do, and trying not to get caught up on rhetoric, even when I can base it on facts. There are few things that can ignite that tiny little emotional stub I have in place of a heart, but love of country is one of them.  I ran the streets at 11 years old- delighted that even at 11 years old I could volunteer- with campaign information for President Reagan.  So forgive me if I get caught up.  I need to remind myself that in the grand scheme of things, it will be what it will be, and I can only do so much to bring about the world I would like to see.  Besides, beyond a bit of snarky satire here and there, what else am I good for?

Well, I can think of a few things.  I know more about things automotive than anyone other than a technician or an engineer would ever want to know.  I have a broad vocabulary. I can spell and define words such as catamite, hemorrhoidal inflammation, impunity, and gynecomastic.  Even better, I can use all these words and phrases in a sentence:

When Maurice, the gynecomastic catamite, came home from his boyfriend’s party, where he was taken advantage of by the others with impunity, he was suffering from severe hemorrhoidal inflammation.

Even if one doesn’t already know the definitions of these words, it’s possible to figure all but one of them out from the context clues.