Gary Digs Tales of the holes I dig, the dirt piles I make, and the holes I fill at the B-Bar-Lazy-B

October 29, 2010

Disappointment around the corner…

Filed under: General,Humanity,Politics — gary @ 7:53 am

So, I didn’t get back to my rant about our Senate Election here in Washington, and all the steam I had built up in the sleepless night that preceded the last entry has pretty much disappated. The general malaise I found myself in regarding the Senate Election centered around the fact that despite all of the concrete positive aspects of Patty Murray in her role as our Senator and despite the fact that her war chest dwarfed that of Rossi the race is still neck and neck.

At present, I am cautiously optimistic. A couple of debates and Murray’s numbers on were greatly improved as Rossi reminded the voters that he is both creepy and has nothing substantive to offer except the same old “small government” line of BS he always runs (I can’t take your small government claims seriously when you want to impede on a woman’s right to choose and tell people who they can and can not marry). The big money is coming out of the woodwork now in the final push, but I’m really hoping a lot of ballots are already in the mail.

My ballot is not in the mail yet, I’m still mulling over a couple of the initiatives, but should mail it today (one of our initiatives would get the state out of the liquor store business, which in principle I would support, but during the biggest budget crisis in ages might have been a no brainer if it was better timed). The rest are the usual bevy of assanine anti-tax appeals and other such lunacy. I find most citizen initiatives irritating at best, but the real blame for them needs to be laid on legislators who choose to provide a stream of airy political rhetoric to their constituents once an election cycle and avoid concrete explanations of principles and policies on an ongoing basis.

I might not have mentioned this, and it is a bit random to pop it in here, but I ♥ Jim McDermott. Just saying…I tried to find his “Meet the Candidates” video from Kiro TV, but they don’t make it easy (one would think, go to the site, type in “election” and special coverage would be available, but not so much…but then, that introduces a whole other topic which is WA State’s shit bird top 2 primary system. The result being that in our district we have Jim (whom I adore) and another guy who ended his “Meet the Candidates” presentation stating that Jim would probably win and deserves to, noting that he primarily wanted to advance the visibility of the climate change issue by running for congress. The “Top 2” system unnescessarily limits debate, stifles ideas, and is particularly a racket when so much jerimandering has already rendered the political climate in most house districts flat and uninteresting. A former co-worker of mine is on the other side of the Cascades and has to choose between 2 Republican candidates, neither of which represent her views.

People shudder when I say this, until they really think it through…The Party should choose its candidate and all candidates with sufficient public support (demonstrated via signatures) should be on THE  BALLOT. Another problem with WA’s particular flavor of Top 2 is that if any 1 candidate gets over 50% of the vote, the election is a done deal (this year a supreme court judge was selected with less than 20 percent of vote since turnout for the primary was right around 40% and he got better than 50% of that vote). The problem started when the Primary went public and started sapping public funds to select party candidates. This development was a great way for the parties to shift the expense of collecting public opinion on their candidates away from the party and on to the shoulders of the tax payers. The fact of the matter is that the public should not pick which candidate a Party presents. The political party should choose the candidate that will wear that moniker on the final ballot anyone else then has the option to garner support as an independent or thrid party candidate and advance to the ballot with some reasonable number of signatures indicating public interest in their candidacy. If the parties would like help facilitating their primaries, they should pay the state to hold them, but they should not be a nescessary condition for inclusion on the final ballot. They should return to a mechanism by which the party chooses a candidate (at the party’s expense) to represent that party. The only thing the top 2 primary does do (given the jerimandered districts) is potentially open a narrow opportunity for a thrid party candidate to advance to the ballot in a federal House election or state legislature election where the district (like our WA 7th district) has a very narrow spectrum of political opinion.

Wow, that wasn’t really what I came here to talk about, but there it it. Written hastily, so forgive the typos. I expect Tuesday to break my heart all over again as a misinformed citizenry wanders aimlessly to the polls to express how disappointed they are that their unrealistic expectations for sudden unequivocal financial recovery from the economic disaster ushered in by 8 years of de- and under-regulation by Bush and his meathead cronies. Back to business as usual I suppose, America selects from a menu of bland options with emotion not reason and then reports shock and dismay that the veal has no flavor…

October 2, 2010

Been a long time…

Filed under: General,Humanity,Politics — gary @ 10:55 am

Well over a year has passed since I’ve written anything here, but according to google analytics somebody still arrives here on occassion. Whether they be lost or found when they arrive is unclear from search terms like “saturn wagon”, “1995 f250”, “shitsu” or “pie transportation”. Maybe on the last item a conclusion can be drawn since there are very few websites that have a “comprehensive pie transportaion solution” featured prominently in their content. A lot has been going on here at the B-Bar-Lazy-B over the past year, and the combination of daily activities and somewhat gainful but draining self-employment have pretty much kept me out of the blogging mood. Suffice it to say that aside from a really rough September which included Huxley the dog’s diagnosis of lymphoma (a topic unto itself into which I am not ready to delve at the present time), things have been going pretty well around here. I wish I would have blogged about all of the bee hive action we had this summer, but at this moment that epic tale is a bit too distant from my thoughts to recount in detail. The short form ends in three hives in the backyard, ~6 gallons of honey harvested, and a bit of a trying time with a swarm, a hive split and one hive of relatively mean honeybees.

Moving forward, after about 3 hours of tossing and turning last night, I decided to give up on sleep and get out of bed at 5am (this is nothing short of absurd, particularly on a saturday, for one who usually stays firmly secured under the covers until about 9 or 10 when possible). As peculiar and impersonal as it may sound, the Washinton State Senatorial Election Race held fast to the foremost thoughts on my mind while NOT sleeping last night. I spun and spun, and then spun some more on the topic, and even now, an hour after I left the warm and comfortable, but angst ridden bed, I can feel a vien bulging near my temple with frustration over how tight this race is polling. One of the pleasures of the past 15 years living in Washington state just outside of Seattle, is that despite a little freakishness on the east side of the Cascades, our politics stay pretty firmly centered just slightly to the left. As such, some pretty fundemental rights are protected from conservative assault and on occassion something progressive might even happen (like the recent domestic partnership laws and the successful defeat of Referendum 71 which sought to undo that progress). Despite my bumper stickers and a flurry of posts leading up to the historic election of 2008, I have kept this blog mostly focused on the activity here on the sprawling eighth of an acre that I like to call the B-Bar-Lazy-B and stayed pretty light on the politics. That may very well be why I haven’t written here for over a year, because I am pretty damn content with what we have going on here, and as such I don’t usually lay awake at night worrying about it (or if I do, it is because something is worthy of that kind of attention). This election on the other hand gets me fired up, angry and, dare I say, passionate about a few things. So, there is a good chance that if this blog is going to be updated, then it will skew a bit more political in the coming weeks and likely into perpetuity. So, let’s get started with the rant, shall we?

In the interests of full disclosure…

let me admit that in the mid-80’s, when I was about 14 or 15 years old, I was momentarily taken in by “Supply-Side Economics” or “Trickle-Down Theory” as it was called then. To a politically naíve teen, the whole thing made perfect sense. Give incentives to big business so that big business can create jobs and the economy will flourish. Let me share a few things I’ve learned in the quarter of century that has passed since then…

First, the only two things a business needs to create jobs are a good, useful, and persistently relevant product (see GMC for an epic failure in this area recently) and people with enough disposable income to buy that product. Even Henry Ford’s warped anti-semetic mind grasped this concept and not only did his high wages (for the period) draw the best possible employees to build the best possible product, but his employees were able to buy the product that he manufactured. What a novel recipe for success, hmmm….how many GM employees could afford the retail price on a Hummer or a Caddillac without going to debtor’s prison shortly after they were laid off because GM totally lacked a forward thinking product development strategy. Yet another topic of great importance directly related to the current recession is the insane idea of being able to afford the thing you are buying, but we’ll save that for another discussion. The haze in which most business owners seem lost, is the idea that Unions are bad for business when in fact Unions are only bad for bad businesses because in the aggregate higher overall wages distributed to employees who actually buy things with their paychecks results in greater consumer demand. Since greater consumer demand is now the pre-eminent backbone of sales and small businesses are the backbone of our economy when companies that can afford it pay higher overall wages the entire economy benefits from those expenditures (usually including the company paying out the higher wages). This is true even for big businesses. If incomes are not sufficient to support air travel, then Boeing doesn’t have much business making planes. While profit margins are higher on business class (which doesn’t imply business travel), they wouldn’t be cramming us into airplanes cheek to cheek if they could profit without us (and BTW, first class travel generally operates at a loss, don’t believe me, check it out: This is a bit of a reprise, but humor me as I am running on about 2.5 hours sleep, WE the people who work for a living ARE the engine of the economy.

Second, the last thing a big business will do with additional profits gained from government incentives is add employees (excepton the rare occassion where they only receive the incentive by hiring, at which point they will hire just long enough to benefit from the incentive and then lay people off and celebrate at length the shrewd cost cutting maneuver they just performed). Particularly not in a recession when the old standby techniques of squeezing blood out of a turnip are so effectively plied against your captive workforce in a tight labor market. Also, there are a bevy of other things big businesses like to spend money on and most of them don’t create jobs either. Executive bonuses and raises and dividends to investors to recognize and celebrate these great windfall profits without regard for the fact that they originated in government incentives rate high on the list. These bonuses, raises, and dividends are then reinvested either in gigantic slot machines labeled NYSE where billions of dollars can vanish into thin air in a few hours or to exotic eccentricities and luxurious delights like fried baby seal testicles flown directly from Palin-land that create approximately 0 opportunities for long term employment. For the large investors, the dividends are similarly frittered away into the ether and for the small investors that actually hold a long-term interest in their investment through retirement accounts, education accounts and the like, these dividends are usually reinvested in the same portfolio from whence they came only to be wiped out entirely by the next Lehman-Goldman-AIG-Housing Bubble debacle that inevitably lays just around the corner (for more information on how this keeps happening see “Citibank – countries don’t go bankrupt viz a viz the 1970s”, “Neil Bush (son of George Sr) -Savings and Loan deregulation and disaster viz a viz the 1980’s”, “Orange County Municipal Bonds – Municipalities don’t go bankrupt viz a viz the 1990’s”, and of course “Dot Com Bubble + Enron fraud viz a viz the turn of this century” in addition to our current dilema.

Third, and this is really important, but very difficult to unpack. At some point between the 111th session of Congress in 2010 and the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constiution with their lofty goals of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” and to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” we managed to conflate Freedom and Property into a single conceptual quagmire of confusion. I say this largely in response to the Republican’s claims that they desire “small government” while simultaneously attempting to control every womb in the country, tell us who we can or can not marry, where mosques should be built, which religions should be preferentially honored by government institutions, take away our right to collectively bargain wages and benefits, consider torture ok now and again, exponentially increase defense spending by engaging in foreign misadventures like Iraq, and continue to grasp desperately to the notion that state sanctioned murder is honorable (afterall look at the other great freedom loving countries that still do it, like Saudi Arabia, China, North Korea and Iran). The contradictions boggle the mind. You can’t make Social Security and Medicare big enough to overshadow the size of a government interested in doing all that to our personal freedom and well-being. And yet you have this band of crazies trying to align themselves with the original revolution carrying signs that say “Don’t steal from Medicare to Support Socialized Medicine” … WTF?


Dont Be So Efn Crazy

Don't Be So Ef'n Crazy

…and while we’re on the topic of crazy, how about guys against Patty Murray because she proposes legislation that makes it more difficult to purchase a Mail Order Bride:

…and those are the kinds of things that get me spinning in such a way that I just can’t pull out of the no sleep nose dive I was in last night.

Which brings us to…

this year’s senatorial election here in Washington state.

Context Note: at this moment Maya woke up and we started listening to the radio together and discussing my spinning and not sleeping last night, so more angst and anguish over the senate race will have to come later…

June 16, 2009

Pile O’ $h!t, Pie Transportation, and Hair Weave on the Loose…

Filed under: Eating,General,Humanity,Recreation,Tools,Yard — Tags: , , , , , , , — gary @ 2:56 pm

Pile O’ $h!t:

Apparently it has been 2 months since I wrote the Homeresque blog post about the truck designed to rival Tolstoi in verbosity. You can imagine I needed a long hard rest after that blogging odyssey, and honestly, I don’t feel like I’ve gotten that long hard rest, but alas, I will blog again regardless. The whole thing would probably be a lot easier if I just blogged a little every couple of days instead of bundling a couple months worth of news into a single post. The bundling puts too much distance between me and some of the more significant events of the past 2 months, enough distance that any rendering of those events would seem too contrived and contemplated to have any real value. As such, we’re going to skip the most important stuff and stick to the most entertaining stuff, so put your finger on the scroll wheel and let us begin…

Maya recently encountered a post on Craig’s List by a tree service company offering to deliver wood chips free of charge with a 4 cubic yard minimum. Perfect, we happened to be in the market for a boat load of mulch to finish our comprehensive lawn removal project, so after some foot dragging on my part we gave them a ring. They said they would have about 8 cubic yards and asked how much of it we would like. “Sure, bring us what ya’ got. We’ll take it…” I said figuring we could easily spread 8 cubic yards of mulch. No problem at all.  ‘8 yards will be a perfect start’, I thought to myself when I hung up the phone. Keep in mind, I do have some idea of what a cubic yard looks like having hauled in several of them for filling the holes that I dig. A couple of years ago we had 15 cubic yards of soil delivered for the largest raised bed in the back yard, so I felt like half of that quantity was easily managable. Then they arrived…

In my estimation we ended up with about 20 cubic yards (Maya says 24, so perhaps it is somewhere in between), nevertheless, it was not 8. Nowhere near 8. A whole $h!tload more than 8. It filled the entire driveway (almost, kind of, ok, not the entire driveway, but the entire part of the driveway in which Maya parks, not the part that is ordinarily occupied by my truck canopy and other non-essential goods for which no other suitable location can be found). The funniest thing about the pile was the fact that several visitors shortly after the arrival of the pile expressed an acknowledgment of the pile’s presence in exactly the same phrase: “You have a big pile of $h!t in your driveway.” they would announce in an informative manner as they arrived. We kindly let them know we were aware of the pile and had a certain fondness and actual intention to utilize the pile and that no impending catastrophe should be assumed by the presence of the pile. Maya’s mother was really disturbed by the pile from an aesthetic perspective and inspired me once again to appreciate the fact that in Skyway no one is going to sweat the big pile of mulch in your driveway regardless of how many weeks it sits there. It is simply the case that around here there are matters of much greater importance than whether or not someone is fast or slow about their mulching procedings.

I had a picture of the original pile, but my fancy fricken’ phone decided it needed to mysterious reset back to factory defaults and I lost the pictures, so all I have is this one of the portion of the pile that remains in our driveway oh so many weeks later:

The remains of the giant pile in our driveway

The remains of the giant pile in our driveway

The original pile extended to the right hand edge of the above picture and just past the left hand edge as well as spanning the entire width of the driveway. The other somewhat irritating thing about the pile is that it consisted more of pine needles than anything else. No problem we thought, we spread it in the areas where plants are already accustomed to acidic soils (or where we don’t want plants anyway) and the rains of late May and June should help break them down as to prevent creating a giant fire hazard out of our entire yard. We have now gone 28 days without any measurable rainfall. Should this continue for another full day we will have beat the record (for this time of year, whatever that means, but weathermen need to report something, so I guess that is how records like that get created) set back in 1982. I will spread part of the remaining stuff in a final layer around the back yard where the previous three layers have been sufficiently trompled (along our main walking paths), and the balance I will take to A.’s house (A. doesn’t live terribly far from here and is in Maya’s permaculture class and we met her at a SURF Co-op meeting before that class began). So, soon enough the pile will be resolved. The biggest hurdle being clearing the back of the truck and actually pulling the canopy off again (I’m pretty sure it won’t sit in the driveway for 2 years again, but we’ll see).

Pie Transportation:

As fate would have it, Maya had permaculture class on the same day that she was slated to provide food for her cousin K.’s college graduation party way out in North Bend, Washington which is about a thousand miles from here (or it might be 35, somewhere in there). Maya’s class got out at 5:30pm and the festivities were slated to begin at 6pm (which those of us who had previously graduated from UW and had to sit through and escape from the ceremony at Maya’s mother’s behest, knew was a farce since it easily takes an hour just to get out of the stadium and off campus with the droves of humans and automobiles overwhelming the area following the event), but nonetheless, the food had to be delivered, prepared and presentable prior to the previously determined start time. As such, the task had to be assigned to the person least capable of completing it successfully…me. Why am I the person least capable of completing the task successfully? Well, for starters I have a very fuzzy conception of time and an even fuzzier conception of arbitrary deadlines (note, I recognize a real deadline, but most deadlines I consider arbitrary at best). It is also the fact that I generally lack the motor skills appropriate to carrying, mixing and handling large quantities of food (and really you should have seen the mess I made attempting to mix the 42 lbs of tabouli Maya prepped for the event). But, safe and secure transportation of 7 rhubarb and blackberry pies (which ended up being 9)  was the only part of the task that truly frightened me.

I have failed in the past at transporting exactly this type of pie, and the sadness that befell Maya when I arrived with a broken crust and spilled filling haunts me to the day. Having a deep desire to not repeat the crust breaking filling spilling heart break I had previously deliver upon the woman I love, I set my mind to conquering through technology the pie delivery obstacle which layed before me. I needed to develop a comprehensive pie transportation solution, and I only had a week to do it. So, I spent 5 days thinking about it, and then started working on the solution the day before I needed to have it done. Whilst working on it the number of pies increased and Maya detected a near fatal design flaw which resulted in some last minute adjustments (for the design flaw, not the number of pies, I had already accomodated 8 pies in the design and figure putting one floating pie at risk was far better than starting over and working toward a 10 pie solution). The challenging aspects were to utilize existing materials (specifically existing materials not likely to be useful to any other project in the near future) and to make sure that my design could accommodate both the small aluminum pie tins being utilized for this event and the larger ones that might be required for some future event. I got the inital frame work assembled, glued, nailed and cured and had a solid design to work with after the first day. So during the day of the event I finished off the pie transportation devices and managed to still get out to the event in time to set up the food (with the help of Maya’s Dad and K.’s boyfriend). Also, J.’s arrival just before I completed the second device played heavily into my success as he offered to wrap the pies while I showered and changed to get ready to leave the house (about an hour and forty-five minutes later than I had originally intended to leave, but this ended up being fortuitous for reasons I am not willing to discuss at this time). And so, I present to you, the CPTS (Comprehensive Pie Transportation Solution) as it appeared filled and loaded into the Super-Cab of the previously discussed Bio-Beast of an F250 that I drive:

Comprehensive Pie Transportation Solution

Comprehensive Pie Transportation Solution

Primarily constructed of fir trim removed from our house 4.5 years ago during our massive remodel (and since that time floating around the shed in a huge unweildy mass to be moved to and fro whenever we need to get to something), the CPTS fit the bill with relatively little sliding, no breakage, and most importantly no spillin’ o’ the fillin’. But, I’m really hoping the day we have to transport 12 pies is in the very far future because I am not at all looking forward to the hassle of making another one of these (a lot of awkward corners to wedge the little electric tack nailer into and oh so many little cuts and clamps and frustrations along the way).

Hair Weave on the Loose:

On the day after Maya’s cousin K.’s graduation festivities J. (formerly of JnX) and I took Huxley on a micro walk over to the mini-mart (so I could buy smokes) and to Nevzat’s esspresso drive through (so I could get a dose of my other ‘eine). The mini market is right next to an action packed little bar in our neighborhood that has experienced more than it’s share of massive law enforcement interventions and county sherriff helicopter hooverings. At 2am each weekend we can hear relationships coming to an end as the bar let’s out and final determinations of the relationship status are loudly resolved in the parking lot. So, it was highly entertaining, but not terribly surprising when we found this:

The remains of the night as it were, a portion of a hair weave left trompled and abandoned in the parking lot...

The remains of the night as it were, a portion of a hair weave left trompled and abandoned in the parking lot...

The picture is blurry, but suffice it to say that is a portion of someone’s “Weave“. The picture of the intense “chick fight” that resulted in this aftermath, as well as the words that must have been exchanged at the time, were immediately apparent to J. and I. Fortunately J. had his phone with him and was able to capture this priceless photo. But, wait for it…after I got my smokes and we crossed the parking lot to visit Nevzat’s espresso stand, I thought it would be funny to point the unwoven “Weave” out to him. His response:

“Oh yeah, I saw it this morning when I arrived. EVERY WEEKEND there is one,” and his eyes got really big, “sometimes a whole head of hair out in that parking lot…”

J. and I both almost fell to the ground laughing. This wasn’t a special occassion, I just usually fail to get over to the mini-mart and the espresso stand early enough in the day to see the aftermath of the Skyway weekend nights. So, if you’re looking for your next viral video to post on You Tube, drop me a note and I’ll direct you to a suitable location to set up your night vision camera on a Skyway Saturday night to capture what is apparently the regular sacrafice of the “Weave” that happens here on the hill. This fact makes me realize that each weekend we are probably hearing both the end and the beginning of some relationship out there in the parking lot as to the victor go the spoils and who ever inspired such conflict is not likely going home with the girl who just lost her “Weave” in the parking lot. Just a guess though, now I’m talking out my a$$, so I’ll bring it to a close and wish you well ’til next I bang this keyboard into temporary submission.

December 17, 2008

She finds the coolest things…

Filed under: General,Humanity — Tags: , , , — gary @ 2:33 pm

Well, it wasn’t her own doing this time, but rather our friend Y. with all the many nicknames (mentioned here: Extravagance…with a little help from my friends…) sent Maya a YouTube video that you have to watch. This is, as Maya put it, A Beautiful Thing.

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