Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thursday's Prattlings.

--We're due to reach 100 degrees for the first time this year today. That's actually pretty late, for us.
Edit: We broke into triple digits with a bang:

--I write this as much for my future reference, and for my kids' future reference, as for anyone else.

--I have a decent blog-worthy story that I can't post right now. But it ends with the question: "What caliber for douchebag?"

--It's pronounced /puh Kawn/. PEE kan sounds like what you put under the bed at night.

--I worked a 24 hour shift with the fire department yesterday, and not only ripped the tags off of the new wildland firefighting apparel* that they got me about a year ago, but also got it smokey and covered with soot. A welder caught some tall grass while putting in corner posts for a new fence, in the dry 17 mph wind. Right next to him was a stack of sections of old fencing that had probably 10 years' worth of weeds and brush growing up amongst it. I can think of no finer way to start a fire without accelerants. We had to unstack the flaming pyre and douse each level of stacked fencing one by one, and then get the particle board beneath it, and then go moving old rusty farm implements to get under all that. Finally we got all that done, and went to mop-up. When we finally got all the flaming cow turds busted up and stomped out, I climbed dirty and sweaty and ash-stained into our brush truck with our paramedic firefighter, and remarked that the hymen on my new brush gear had been perforated. Startled, he said what?!? I suggested to our best medic that he had heard me just fine. He laughed.

--I just finished reading Cormac McCarthy's No Country For Old Men on my Kindle. I reviewed the movie five years ago, in which I said of the main character, aging sheriff Ed Tom Bell:
I know this man. I've been around him for years, wearing different faces, standing different heights, and carrying different weights. They mostly all spoke with a drawl, and they all wondered sometimes how it all got to be so crazy. Between McCarthy, the Cohens, and Jones, I saw the bewildered squint of people that I've known personally, perplexed and aghast.
 Having read the book, I'd have to say that the Cohen brothers kept the movie's dialogue very true to McCarthy's original work. Sheriff Bell knows that the nation is doomed, and feels like he has lost control of the part of it that he is supposed to keep peaceful. He feels like a failure. I have to admit that I thought a little about whether I help the big picture. I don't take it as personally as he did, I don't think. I know my limitations. The job of a law enforcement officer is to limit damage; he rarely gets to stop it altogether.

I just downloaded Blood Meridian. The reviews show that it's a pretty dark portrayal of the American West in the mid 19th century. We'll see if I start it anytime soon.

--A family member and friend of mine is grieving the passing of a close friend of hers. I've been pretty poor about helping her deal with it. Recently, my wife pointed out the meaning of the lyrics to the Grateful Dead's song "Box Of Rain." I've never much been a fan of the Dead, but I've got to admit that there's a gentle calmness that one can feel from auditing this (first) song.
"What do you want me to do, to do for you to see you through? 
A box of rain will ease the pain, and love will see you through." 

--Speaking of music, my daughter was singing the title music to Singing In The Rain, and I wanted to hear the original, so I played this video. I come away thinking: (1) Gene Kelly was a genius dancer. (2) Even accounting for the poor synching of the sound to the video by YouTube, it's obvious that they dubbed in the tap sounds. But Gene Kelly was still a physical genius. (3) That street was a giant sound stage in Hollywood, right? Where they had to make their own rain? That was a BIG budget movie scene. (4) I cringe seeing Kelly dance through the puddles in his brown leather shoes. I can not stand having soaked shoes.

--Lately at work, I'm plagued with subpoenas to get. Think I don't beg help from the DA's investigators? Haw.

--I need a best location along the coast of Oregon or Washington (Olympic Peninsula?) for two things this summer: Tide pools and yerts.

--I'm planning an epic vacation with the girls and my wife.

--My friend Susan makes a good point: "When hanging around with drunk people...if the topic of conversation takes a turn toward Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy Theories...it's time to leave!!"


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*Typically abbreviated to "wildland gear," which then becomes "Wild man gear." This is tough, light Nomex jeans and topshirt (usually comes with work gloves and boots, but I just use my fire gloves and bunker boots) that one pulls on over street clothes, which prevent embers from immediately burning through, but which have no insulative properties. Combined with a light plastic helmet (kept on the brush truck) and light goggles, this gear actually provides some protection without causing your firefighter to succumb to heat exhaustion in regular bunker gear.


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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Getting all parental and stuff.

My 14 year old's friend dropped by the house at 7:45 this evening, asking my daughter to come play some tennis with her. I offered to drive them, because the farm-to-market road at that time is no good for walking on.

While en route, my daughter's friend mentioned enthusiastically that she's losing weight for summer. She said that she had just had a granola bar to eat for the whole day, and that she had gone swimming for five hours, and had hoped to play tennis now for another 3 hours. I had earlier explained that my daughter would be coming back home at 9:30 tonight.

The friend mentioned that she was going to be taking some diet pills to help her lose weight.

I signaled, pulled over onto the shoulder rapidly, and parked. I put on the hazard lights for traffic to pass me. I adjusted the rearview mirror so that my daughter's friend could see my eyes while I spoke to her:
"You will NOT be taking diet pills. If I find out that you are taking that shit, then you will not be permitted any access to my daughter. Do you understand me? Yes? Furthermore, you need to eat a little more often than once a day. You will lose plenty of weight being active and consuming 1200 calories a day, assuming you nibble all day long. If I must call your mother, I will."
My daughter was stunned in embarrassment. I merged into traffic, and dropped them off.

I went back home, and called her mother. I would want her to call me, if the tables were turned.
She said EXACTLY the right thing: "Oh, hell, no.  Her cousin has diet pills and is under a doctor's supervision. She's not going to touch those things. Thank you so much for calling."

I felt better.

That kid best not make a single false move, or she is cut off.  I had my eye on her, anyway. Fortunately, every single one of my daughter's other friends are sterling.


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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Why do they even make that an option?

My KitchenAid dishwasher is a pretty good dishwasher. I can say without a doubt that it is the best dishwashing machine that I've ever owned or had access to. Kinda knock the dried stuff loose on the dishes before loading it, put in one of those AWESOME Cascade Action Pack soap pods*, make sure the reservoir is topped with Dollar General brand rinse aid**, and my dishes come out shiny and clean and new-looking. I never have to re-run the dishes through in such instances.

That is, unless...

...Unless someone has selected the buttons to turn OFF the High Temp Scrub and Sani Rinse.  Then, your dishwasher is running with whatever hot water it gets IMMEDIATELY upon turning on the water valve (it doesn't let it run til it gets hot), with the soap, and that's it. Unless your dishwasher is way different from every one that I've ever seen, it has three things going for it, to get your dishes clean: Hot water, pressure, and soap. It has no scrubbing brushes. If it did, then it could do as well you do when handwashing. Truth is, your dishwasher can get that water a lot hotter than your hands could bear, if you'll let it. And therein is its efficacy.

In the bottom of your dishwasher is a heating element. If you select "High Temp Scrub" (as it's listed on my washer), it heats that element up while the washer is filling with the wash water for washing, and runs that heating element for the whole time that it washes, to get the water really really hot. Thus, it can get those dishes super uber clean. If you select Sani Rinse, then your washer will run the heating element during the whole time that your dishwasher is rinsing your dishes, to get that rinse water hot enough to sanitize. If you select "Heat Dry", then your washer will run the heating element for a while after the rinse water is drained away, to evaporate the rinse water faster.

So here's the problem: My wife NEVER turns on these options. She turns them all off. Why? Because she's a worrier. Wives will do that; they'll worry about getting screwed over again, like when they bought into that whole "I'll bet that he'll look distinguished as he ages, and will eventually grow out of this whole 'let's work for the public and make Jack for money' thing that he's got going on" philosophy. Oh, no. She won't be fooled again. Now, she's Miz Cautious. She's not running the risk of a repeat of that time those times when her Prized Tupperware got a little bit warped melted around the dish racks and had to be scraped and chipped loose. So now, regardless of the absence of such plastics. Regardless of the fact that any plastic stuff could be moved to the top rack and saved from the proximity to the heating element, my bride of 15 years turns the heating options to OFF when she runs the dishes. 

Which leads to Suck and Fail.

I have to admit: I do a lot more dishes than I used to, just to get the damned things run correctly. Maybe that was her plan all along.

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*Worth every dime. We came across some packages marked down, but I'll get these from now on, even if I have to pay double. No more powder caking up, clogging up the spring-loaded door flap to the soap dispenser. I don't care if these things cost triple what I've been paying. It's a good product.

**I never used to use rinse aid, but I have to admit that it makes a difference, and the store brand seems to work just as well as Jet Dri or Crystal or whatever. A bottle usually lasts me several months. The reservoir takes about a month to drain.

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Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Dallas for the day.

Things are going missing around the G household.
Probably I'm just disorganized, but for the past month I can't find my most favorite Kindle, which I bought from Marko Kloos, and my most favorite flashlight, the PolyStinger D.S.

So it was time to get new.

I found on Craig's List that a lady had a NIB Kindle Paperwhite Touch for $40. I negotiated the sale, and went to the area of Cedar Springs and Oak Lawn to pick it up from her husband, a recent graduate of business school who explained that she had gotten the device as a work gift, and already had an iPad.

We shook hands, and, being in the area, I went to EatZi's for lunch. I hit the bakery, and was saddened that they no longer bake the prosciutto and black pepper loaf. But they still make the Kalamata Olive Loaf, and I got one, along with a 4 Cheese And Chili Boule, and had them run them through the slicer. Then I gawked at the cakes and stuff:

For scale, that's about a 10" wide cake under that buttercreme.
 
I've eaten their stuff. Given the quality, these prices are actually downright reasonable.

I had the deli man slice me some very thin Molinari Finocchiona Picolocini, which has fennel in it. Paper thin slices made you think that you had taken a mouthful. Economy of flavor, even at $13/lb. I also got a quarter pound of Citterio Spresata Salami, and a quarter pound of Molinari Capacolla Hot (Only $15/lb). I had them ring me up for these, along with the salad that I had them make to my specs, with lots of rare roast beef and stuff.  Then I sat at a broken tile mosaic wall-side bar on a stool, and drank good coffee with my salad as I listened to some Italian tenor. Not a bad lunch.

I then went by GT Police Supply, and bought me a Stinger DS LED HL. This thing puts out 640 lumens, in the same size as my old 360 lumen Stinger. I can't convey here how much light this little rechargeable flashlight puts out. It's enough to note on the sidewalk at midday in Texas summer.  Sadly, I grabbed a box with a metal, rather than poly, stinger. I'll be getting a new plastic one, soon. I need another flashlight, anyway.

I then fought traffic on the way back home. What should have been about an hour and a quarter was extended significantly, because two cars had a fender bender and waited in the left lane for the police to arrive, blocking one of the three lanes, and causing an unforeseen bottleneck which caused merging that did not, as one would expect, slow the traffic by 1/3, but actually slowed the drive-time traffic to less than 1/3 of its normal slow pace. As I passed the two vehicles, I noticed that both drivers were sitting in their cars with the windows up, so that they could enjoy their air conditioning on this 94 degree day. The BMW and the Land Rover neither had incapacitating damage. I'm afraid that I (in my un-air-conditioned old beater car) may have hollered at them to move their car, as they were in violation of Texas Transportation Code section 550.022(b), which states:
 If an accident occurs on a main lane, ramp, shoulder, median, or adjacent area of a freeway in a metropolitan area and each vehicle involved can be normally and safely driven, each operator shall move the operator's vehicle as soon as possible to a designated accident investigation site, if available, a location on the frontage road, the nearest suitable cross street, or other suitable location to complete the requirements of Section 550.023 and minimize interference with freeway traffic.
...which they were violating.

I'd've written 'em each a citation for it, were I the Dallas County Traffic Enforcement deputy.
The whole business of "I can't move my car, because the officer needs to see the crash scene as it occurred" is only applicable to crashes involving injury or fatality.

Last night, I fed the family with open-faced sammiches made from the high-end bread lightly-toasted with butter on cookie sheets, then broiled with paper-thin slices of the meats and some white cheddar and smoked gouda, with thin slices of onion atop them. The kids picked off the onion, and ate heartily. The wife added spiced mustard, and ate heartily. I just ate it as it was, and was happy to find two left this morning when I got up late (I work evenings today.). You could claim that your breakfast was better than mine, reheated with a cup of black coffee, but I would not believe your claim.

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