Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

I had nothing to do with these. I couldn't carve my way out of a paper bag...our all-grown-up-CA-son did the handiwork here. I just hope he isn't running while holding sharp objects. (mom humor)
Too difficult to post anything that makes sense after the sugar high I'm on. Note to self for next year: Do not open the trick or treat candy matter what the dog asks you to do.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Why I can never be a wine snot...

So, I should start out by stating my love for Sunset Magazine. It goes way back to when they were still Lane Publishing, and it was the magazine for Western Living. Back in my life as a sales rep, I used to call on their Creative Services Department and if the kitchen gods were smiling, there would be amazing treats from the test kitchen across the street, placed out for all to sample. Back in the day, they had a really cool tradition; the staff all took mandatory breaks at the same time. It was like recess-  at the designated time; everyone would stop work, go outside, have treat, and socialize. Besides having a beautiful facility in Menlo Park, the folks who worked there were really nice. I couldn't say that about everyone I called on, especially some of the ad agency types that wore nothing but black and always took themselves way too seriously. But none of that is the point. The point is that ever since Sunset did a feature about Paonia, CO (seriously, I'm not making this up-look!)
I read it cover-to-cover to make sure I don't miss something really fun and fascinating. So while I was waiting for the house to warm up the other day, the latest copy of Sunset and I stayed in bed for an extra hour. It was a good read. It included:
Thanksgiving feature: Maybe. Read it later. In the kitchen.
Mountain Weekend in Glenwood Springs:  Sounds good. Check it out.
Vegan side dishes: Ick. Skip that one.
Idea Houses: So cool. Major Lust over the pretty, pretty pictures.
Sunset Wine Awards: Interesting. Wait a minute. What's up with these descriptions? OK...I've done my  time in the Napa Valley, and here in the North Fork Valley we have some pretty impressive wineries,
(check out West Elks AVA) but the Sunset Western Wine Awards made me laugh out loud. And ask myself the serious questions,  Do I really want a wine that lurks? Or one that has haunting layers? I'm not sure I like haunting and lurking.
I'm also not sure that I want to spend 44 bucks on a Chardonnay that is touched with crushed rock.
In my mind, I don't want to taste traces of stuff I might be tracking in on the bottom of my shoes. I'm also not sure I want minerality (we get enough in the tap water here) or saddle leather ( exactly whose ass has been in that saddle?) or English Leather (like the cologne? No thanks) For $65, one can select a Pinot Noir that includes waves of earthy tobacco smoke, or cough up $75 for a Syrah that has hints of Dr. Pepper. Would that be Diet Dr. Pepper or the retro kind with real sugar? I know a vending machine outside the City Market where you can get more than a hint of Dr. Pepper for 75 cents. How do you feel about forest floor, wet stones, bacon or cured meat in general? If you don't recognize the inkyness of the blend, is life really worth living? Yeah, yeah, yeah...I'm pedestrian. I'm an amateur. If this gets out, I'll never get to go to another wine club meeting...but here's the thing- I can enjoy a good glass of wine without it needing to sound like it should have its own Facebook page, and I'm not tempted by descriptors that would more closely suit one's profile on (Supple, lively, plush, vibrant and sassy) Wait...I'd date that wine. No, I want to BE that wine.
I've been thinking that maybe I can create marketing material for some of the out of the way wineries. I'll just scrape the crap off my boots, look in the woodpile, check the bottom of the fridge- or maybe under the sofa cushions for inspiration. How do you feel about potting soil,  Camel butts, wilted celery, Oreo crumbs and cat hair?  Mmmmm. Let's open that one tonight.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Life in Colorado = fitness program

When we lived in California, one of my hobbies was buying exercise equipment and then storing it in the garage. Because I am an indecisive weenie, most of it still sits with other remnants of our old life in a California storage unit,costing us as much as it would if we rented our crap an entire apartment of its own here in Colorado.
That's not the point. The point is that I am still enticed by commercials for exercise shit, even though I know I can't afford it, I'd never, ever use it, and now, we don't even have a garage to store it in once we got it and I instantly lost my enthusiasm.
Just a few minutes ago, I saw an ad for some kind of Boflex-y walking-stepping-elliptical-y machine. I wanted it. Bad.
I jumped up to get a closer look at the 800 number, and in my haste, knocked the plate of chocolate chip cookies off my lap. The next few minutes involved an exhausting struggle with the dog to make sure he didn't get any chocolate, and by the time the mess was cleaned up, the damn ad was over, and I'd missed the opportunity to find out how in just 1228 easy payments of 39.95, I could own one of those nifty walking-stepping-bo-flexy machines, along with 457 how-to DVDs. Plus, the people working out are always dressed so well. Not at all like we dress around here.
I was thinking about that machine all morning. Every time I walked up and down the steps to the scary basement with a basket of laundry I thought...I could be working out. Every time I hauled the laundry out to the clothesline and stretched out to hang it up, I figured how much better I'd be feeling if I could just get that shiny new piece of  exercise equipment. While walking up the stairs to the bedrooms to put stuff away, I kept imagining what good shape I'd be in with that schmancy exercise machine somewhere in my house. It doesn't matter that we've got something kind of like it in a storage unit 1000 miles away. It doesn't matter that I know I wouldn't  use it, and the ceilings in the bedrooms are under the eaves and too low to actually set it up, so the only place it would fit would be in the center of the living room. Yikes. 
Later, the dog and I went for a long walk down the hill by our house, which means we had to walk back up again.  

On the way back up the hill,  we stopped to look around and do some leaf peeping.
The dog really likes the view from here...

But the cat prefers this view...

Probably because the cat likes to see me suffer, and I'm always winded after the climb back up this hill. Man, somewhere in all this over hill, over dale stuff, there has to be an ass-lifting benefit.
Now that I'm away from the TV, I see it is kind of nice outside...
Come to think of it, running up and down two flights of stairs dozens of times a day is kind of like working out. Life in this old farmhouse has it's own set of requirements that pretty much kick the crap out of anything I can order from an infomercial. When you think about chopping and stacking wood, hauling coal,and unloading supplies, (yeah, like I'm the one who actually does that) it's a much healthier lifestyle than just spending 20 minutes on a treadmill  with a DVD.  I do miss the slick workout clothes, though. Just a little.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ohio Congressman Hagan kicks ass!

Must see TV...
Rachel Maddow's interview with Robert Hagan (D-Ohio) on why TARP recipients and government employees should be on the receiving end of the same drug tests that the Republicans are so fond of forcing on those applying for unemployment or welfare benefits.
This has worked so well in Florida, where the least popular Governor in the US, Rick Scott, bragged recently about the success of their drug screening for welfare recipient program.  For the record: 2% of welfare recipients tested positive...another 2% refused to be tested...those are the results he's bragging about. Good going Gov! I can see why you're held in such high regard... Hey- Let's make Gov. Rick pee in a cup. As a recipient of a government paycheck, he should be held to the same standard as a guy who gets downsized and needs the unemployment benefits he's been contributing to for years. With Gov. Scott, it doesn't take rocket science to figure out why he had been pushing for mandatory drug testing...the chain of walk-in clinics he founded specializes in drug tests, and (even though he signed ownership over to his wife two weeks prior to taking his oath of office) the company stood to make millions in profits from the mandatory drug screenings of welfare recipients. The problem is, the state has to reimburse everyone whose test comes back negative, which, so far, is 98% of those taking the test.
Gov. Scott is acting like today's typical Republican legislator; finding a way to screw the system, squeeze the government, and blame the whole mess on poor people.
Now contrast his actions with the totally decent Rep. from Youngstown Ohio, Robert Hagan.

Click on the link to watch last night's interview...
Let's run and get that specimen cup for the crook Rick Scott and another one for the asshat Governor Nikki Haley, of South Carolina, who "So wants drug testing" for those seeking unemployment benefits, in fact she states she's been thinking about it since the first day she walked into office. Even though they now know it's a giant waste of resources, and has made the state vulnerable to numerous lawsuits. Gov. Haley sounds twisted to me. I think she would do well to spend some time in therapy if she's been obsessing about this so much.
Nikki Haley is starting to sound about as batshit crazy as Michele Bachmann. Voters of South Carolina...really? Do you aspire to be...Florida?
But, back to the good guys, who want to take a stand to stop demonizing the poor and unemployed.
Robert Hagan is my new hero.
If you're in a surfing mood, here's a link to Representative Hagan's site...
Please drop him a note. Unlike most Republican reps, he doesn't screen for zip codes, so you don't have to phony-up a 123 Happy Street address with an Ohio zip code from District 60 to write to him- His mailbox is open for comments, so please, consider sending an email message of support. I'm guessing his job hasn't been too easy these days, and it might be a good thing to let him know that he's more popular than the former Wall-street dickhole Ohio Gov. Kasich. I only wish my representative, Scott Tipton, would remove his lips from the rear ends of the oil and gas industry long enough to stop lying about medicare and watch my back. Remind me again, how long til I can vote against him?
Bottom line here is- for anyone who still says there's no difference between the Demos and the Repos, I beg to differ. We might not support everything they do, but there IS a huge difference.
That said, if you're in a writing mood, how about dropping Ben Nelson of Nebraska
 and John Tester of Montana (who both recently voted against the Jobs bill in the Senate)
 a note and tell them to pull their heads out of their asses, support working Americans and start voting like Dems.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Time to fill up congressional voicemail & shut down websites...again.

One of the comments after President Obama's press conference this morning was a rather snarky remark from the consistently snarky reporter, Chuck Todd. He made a reference to the tremendous public response after the President's address during the debt ceiling debacle, and tried to draw the conclusion that the American public doesn't support the jobs bill, since the response from the public isn't shutting down legislator's websites, filling voicemail, or tying up congressional phone lines.
OK, if that's what it takes...let's do it.
Would everyone who gives a crap PLEASE start phoning, and emailing?
Let's demand passage of this bill, and demand that the obstructionist right wing get out of the way, and start doing their jobs. Get your own rep on the line and let them know you're watching, and you'll be voting, and if they don't stop this nonsense, unemployment will take on a  very personal meaning. Maybe a message to the Speaker would be a good place to start.
This is the contact for everyone who lives outside Ohio's 8th district.
To reach Speaker Boehner's office in DC, call 202-225-0600.
Seriously...a whole bunch of us would love to be part of the Wall St. protest, but can't get ourselves to NYC or any other major metro area...the best we can do is make our voices heard in ways that can't get overlooked when there are enough of us. The websites got shut down and the voicemail inboxes got filled up before-if you're stuck out in the sticks or somewhere in the burbs...join part of another crowd. Go on...pick up the phone. You know you want to.I just ranted on Speaker Boehner's voicemail, and it felt so good.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Are you ready to hear a talking asshole? Say hello to Hank Williams Jr.

Would someone please tell me what I've been missing?  Every time he opens his mouth, Hank Williams Jr. sounds like a dumb ass- so why does anyone give a crap about his opinion? Of course it happens on Faux...another slam to President Obama....But not a well-articulated or thought-provoking criticism- oh no. Hank Williams Jr. compares POTUS to Hitler.  Don't they know that every time they bellow the Hitler comparison, these teabaggers sound like they're all off their meds? If it weren't hard enough already to take any of them seriously, this just sounds pathetic.
OK... so I'm not much of a football fan, except for Superbowl when I can use the game as an excuse to invite friends over, in order to serve and consume mass quantities of fatty meat, every high calorie snack food known to man, and a generous selection of adult beverages. Isn't that kind of the point?
That said, like anyone in the US that isn't in a coma, I'm familiar with the "Are you ready..."  game opening- and frankly, I don't get what the big deal is if it just goes away.  They've been using this for 20 years, it's time for a change already. Given that Hank Williams Jr. is a blow-hard, and sounds like every one's loudmouth degenerate brother-in-law, what the hell is wrong with ESPN dumping his stupid ass?
OK, his dad was talented...that's nice, but exactly how long do we have to put up with Jr. spouting idiocy? Of course the tea party must be falling all over themselves to type out 'mad as hell' responses on the ESPN website...I'm guessing that they've got to have something to keep them occupied now that Rick Perry and  Michele Bachmann are self-destructing; Chis Christie really truly absolutely positively isn't going to run, and too many of them can't understand Mitt Romney's big words. Blah.
I'm ready...for these guys to go away. Far, far away.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tell BofA to kiss it!

So B of A is dinging customers five bucks a month for the privilege of using their plastic teller instead of bothering one of their human tellers (who've had their hours reduced to just shy of full-time so the poor bank won't have to pay them benefits.) As far as I'm concerned,  BofA can kiss it. So can Wells Fargo, Citi, Chase and every other big bastard bank.
We've moved our accounts to the local credit union, and you know what? They provide better service, have competitive rates, and are owned by the members. Oh, no! This sounds like socialism! They even give your dog a treat when you go to the drive-through.( but so does the liquor store) I digress.
Maintaining a relationship with one of these rat bastard banks is kind of like trying to maintain a relationship with someone who treats you like shit. Seriously, why are we allowing our financial institutions to treat us in ways we would never tolerate from partners or friends? Think about give and give and give, follow the rules, take good care of your account, and the whole time your bank is screwing your best friend, talking shit about you to other banks, stealing money out of your purse when you're not looking, asking you for your most personal information, then losing control of it, and selling your secrets to other marketing companies so they can screw you too. If your girlfriend or boyfriend pulled this crap, you'd kick them to the curb. Unless you like being treated like crap. Evidently, too many American consumers do- that's why these big guys will continue to rape and pillage- until we take responsibility and say no more.
Over the years, I've done business with just about every major bank- closing my account at Wells Fargo was about the toughest thing I'd ever done, since at the time I did (back in the 70's) they'd been my bank since my first grade savings account was opened. It took one experience to make me realize that they were no longer the same organization I started with, when the nice tellers took my wrinkled birthday money and marked deposits in a dog-eared passbook.  In 1977, I got my first real job, at the newspaper where my dad worked. It was the first time I could actually afford to buy more than one cosmetic item at a time, and back then, I was pretty careful- so when I got an overdraft notice from Wells Fargo, I was completely flustered. I did what any responsible 21-year old would do, I waited for my lunch break, then ran downstairs to my father's office. I breathlessly told him I got a notice from the bank that I didn't understand. As he launched into Parental Lecture 29-A (financial responsibility) I showed him the OVERDRAFT NOTICE. It read:
Wells Fargo has processed an item in the amount of  6,997,698.12  resulting in insufficient funds in your account. As a courtesy to you, we have paid the amount causing the overdraft, and charged your account 4.00 (Don't forget, this was 1977)
When my dad stopped snickering, and explained it was a mistake, he suggested I call the bank from his office, and let him listen on the extension, which I did. It took me a few tries to read the overdraft notice without laughing as I read the amount. This was the first time I realized that the person on the other end of the phone didn't know me, didn't care, and had no sense of humor.She was not my nice local teller. She was just a voice on the other end of the line. After keeping me on hold for 22 minutes, she came back on the line and told me to disregard the notice, because it was an 'apparent' mistake. Apparent. She did not see the paradox of her institution allowing me to use almost 7 million bucks (even for a few days) and being charged four dollars for the courtesy. She also never apologized for the apparent screw-up, instead she was rude and abrupt. Maybe because I was howling like a hyena for most of our conversation. Maybe I wasn't the only customer with an erroneous overdraft notice she was responding to, and the humor of the situation had worn thin- who knows? I do know that conversation destroyed my loyalty to the bank, and I closed my account the next day. It was no longer a symbiotic relationship, and I was done. I've opened and closed accounts at various banks over the years, and the state of customer service has only gotten worse, but this last bitch-slap by Bof A sealed it for me. No more banks. There's nothing they do for us that can't be done by a local establishment that's customer owned.  The credit union has the 'we're all in this together' attitude, which beats the crap out of  Bof A's 'we're out to mess you around' mentality. Plus...the dog treats.