At about 7:30 or 8 in the evening I decided to quit working for a while. (I work from home, which makes it awfully easy to put in some odd hours.) I found my bowl of leftover popcorn from the night before, turned the game on (the Pittsburgh Stealers vs. a team who tucked tail and ran their cowardly way out of Cleveland years ago and now reside in Baltimore), grabbed a book and lay on the couch. Within minutes my wife had kissed me on the forehead. "Goodnight," she said.
"But I'm not sleeping. I'm watching TV," I replied as the cat jumped up on my belly to curl into a ball of purr. "The game's on."
"Yeah," she said, smiling. "Like you've ever seen the end of a game. Goodnight." I ignored her and swept my attention back to the game. The mighty mighty Stealers were indeed pummeling the dumb ol ' stinky Ravens. I'm always happy when the millionaires on my team play better than the millionaires on the other team. Too bad about the Packers, though. They should have won... I really don't care much for the Stealers, but rather I dislike the Ravens. The Packers are my team...
I realized with a start that my attention had wandered from the game. Hey, wait! Who switched the channel? Why is the news on? What? Hey, it's 11:30! I fell asleep and didn't even see the end of the first quarter! Aw poop.
The bowl of popcorn was still sitting on my chest, the cat curled up on my belly, the remote in my hand.
"Are you okay?" called my wife from the other room. I vaguely remember that room. I used to sleep there. It had a bed in it and everything. "Vhat's wrong?" Her Austrian accent is always stronger when she's drowsy. "Vy are you avake?"
"How did you know I woke up?" I asked, setting the popcorn on the coffee table.
"You quit snorink."
"Oh." I set the cat down next to the popcorn and rolled onto my side. "I'm okay. You go back to sleep." I found a channel that didn't have dire financial news or infomercials on and tried to get back to sleep.
You know, I really don't like Hogan's Heroes much. But what else is there? By two in the morning I'd given up trying to sleep. Reading didn't help, nor did TV. Eventually I got up and went into the other room to check my e-mails and get some work done. At about three or so I went back to the couch. The cat jumped up beside me. We used to sleep in the bedroom, he and me, along with she. But since I started snoring a few years ago it's either the couch or the tofu-sofa hide-a-bed fold-out couch doohicky thing in my office. I do sleep better in my office, but it's just so easy to keep working... (Lest you get the wrong idea, my beloved Viennese bride did NOT kick me out of the bedroom. But I snore so bad she really can't get any sleep if I'm in the same room, and I hate seeing her suffer night after night. So to the other room goes the hippie.)
I sputtered, suddenly aware that I had been asleep, but now I'm not.
"Are you okay?" called my wife from the other room...
"Yeah," I said, "I think I was asleep."
"You were, for yust a few minutes. You snorked like a train. Goodnight."
I turned the TV to the news and grabbed my book. By about 4:30 I was asleep. By 6:20 I was awake. My wife's alarm clock whanged and clanged at 6:22. I got up at 6:24 and went to check my e-mail, one eye open. Time to start another day...
Now we just got whapped with another bill -- this one nearly $5,000! Where in the world are we gonna get the money to pay THIS? We've had so many medical expenses, lost work, stubborn city workers telling us we need a new $4,000 sewer, now ANOTHER $5,000 bill.
We just ain't got the money. I don't know how we're gonna pay it. That's a tenth of our annual income.
That's what it's gonna cost us to bail out the irresponsible millionaires who caused the bank failures. It's gonna be $2,333 for every man, woman and child in the United States. That's what the Bush administration wants us to pay -- to GIVE -- to greedy millionaires who have a proven track record of failure.
How did this mess come about? Deregulation. The Republicans in power have constantly thumped the "regulations get in the way of a free market" drum for years. The result? The Sago Mine disaster. Bank failures. Record high gas prices and record high profits for the oil industry. One of the leaders of deregulation? Arizona Senator John McCain.
The rules were there for a reason, dammit! Now my wife and I will be $4,666 poorer as a DIRECT consequence of ultra-rich businessmen's greed.
I downloaded iTune's latest update a few days ago. It was a "major upgrade," so I was all a-quiver with excitement to see what new goodies were included... Turns out the new thing is a dealy-bobber called a "Genius List." Ooookaaayy...
It's supposed to work something like Pandora, where you find a song you like and tell the software to find other songs for you that are similar. So I click on a song and push the "Genius" button, noticing briefly that I didn't really feel any smarter, and watched the software pick out twenty or so songs based on ZZ Top's toe-tapper "Lagrange." The first song on the list was "Come Sail Away," a rock ballad by Styx. I didn't even know I had that song on my computer, and I'm reasonably sure I didn't put it there on purpose. Anyway, the two songs couldn't be more different. I glanced through the rest of the list. It included things like "The Weight" by the Band (a countryesque song), and "Just What I Needed" by the Cars (an 80's pseudo-electronic song).
As near as I can tell, the only things these songs have in common is that they're played with instruments and may have been written by humans (though I'm not sure about that Styx song).
So I don't much trust the Genius button. I do still click on it every now and then, though, hoping to feel at least a little smarter...
...until you whap yourself in the face with a spotlight. Now I gotta go get new glasses... Oh well. It was a fun party! (Anytime you have a band playing and people jumping out of a cake, it's a fun party.)
Love 'em or hate 'em, eventually someone's gonna tell you that you gotta go see one. It comes in different forms. "You'd better have that looked at," is common, or "wow, that's gonna leave a mark!" or "oops -- sorry!" Or, in my case, it was my vundrous Viennese bride, Dagmar, telling me at 10 at night, "I made you a doctor's appointment for tomorrow morning. You can't eat anything after midnight tonight, und you can't drink anything but vater in the morning. Be there at 8:15."
"What?" I said. "Did I miss something? Am I bleeding? What? Why am I going to the doctor?"
"You're going to the doctor because you can't breathe right und you snore like a train."
I kicked and fussed and hissyfitted, but when push comes to shove she's right. I haven't been able to breathe much through my nose for years now, and I often wake up in the night gasping for air... And how long can it take? I go in, he looks up my nose, tells me to squirt some over-the-counter inhaler goop in my beak, and I'm done. Right?
So, 8:15 in the morning found me fidgeting at the nurse's desk, filling out paperwork. I've never been to this doctor, so it's all new to me. "Okay, follow me, please," said the nurse-lady. She walked me up to a scale which told me in digital glory that I need to grow a few inches taller, then into an exam room. "Here's a robe. It ties in the back. I need you to take off all your clothes and put this on," she said. "The doctor will be in in just a moment."
"Wait! All I need is for him to see why I'm not breathing right. Do I have to take my clothes off for that?"
She walked out, closing the door. Bowing to the inevitable, I took off my clothes and stacked them in a corner, put on the breezy little gown, and sat down to wait. In a few minutes the doctor came in... "Hello," he said, "how are you today?" I told him I missed my undershorts and I was uncomfortable. He ignored me and grabbed my chart-doohicky.
"So," he said, flipping through my medical history, "what can I do for you today?"
"Well, I've been having trouble breathing through my nose, and it's affecting my sleep and I snore a lot." The doctor nodded, mumbled "mmm hmmm" and flipped a page. "Having trouble breathing," he said, distractedly. "Oh. You turned forty this year, didn't you."
"Yes," I answered. "I'm officially old enough to drive a car and everything now."
"I need you to turn around and bend over please."
"I tell you I can't breathe out my nose and you're gonna shove a finger up my bum?" I said. "Ain't you kinda going about this backwards?"
Oh, the indignity.
So anyway, turns out I've got a deviated septum or some such thing. (Insert deviant joke here.) They can fix it surgically, which sounds like loads of fun -- especially after the LAST procedure I had (my right testicle is STILL twice the size of the left) -- but I gotta have a sleep study done first. Yay. A night in the hospital. Fantastic.
They also found out that I'm half a step away from having serious heart troubles. I guess my triglycerides are high. Normal people are below 150, I'm at 850, the pancreas starts shutting down when you hit 900. I get to take a pill now, and Dagmar bought me a bag of carrots.
Am I rich yet?
No. But HippieBoy Design is really keeping me busy! I've gotta learn how to take an hour off here and there. I've quite literally been working nearly every hour I've been awake for weeks now. My beloved Alpine bride Dagmar will occasionally drag my carcass away from the computer and park me on the couch for a few minutes just to let my eyes focus on a screen that's more than arm's length away from my nose, and I did get away to do a quick photo shoot Saturday morning. It was raining. I did get to jam with the band Saturday night, but I felt guilty the whole time 'cause I wasn't getting any "work" done, even though I was getting paid to play...
Now all I gotta do is get comfortable charging customers (I ALWAYS feel guilty when I ask for money) and find a way to take a day off now and then.
Seems to me that everything I've seen of the National Conventions follows a trend. The Democrats promise things and want to try new ideas, while all the Republicans seem to do is throw rocks at the Democrats. It follows in the TV ads, too -- the Obama ads are all about explaining his ideas and policies, while the McCain ads are all about tearing Obama down.
The e-mails I'm getting are alarming, too -- I'm starting to see e-mails that are blatantly racist. One had a cartoon of Senator Barack Obama standing with his bags, obviously moving into the White House. He's next to a sign that says, "WHITE House," and he says, "Well, THAT'S gotta change." I've seen quite a few saying, "Watch out or we'll have a Muslim in the White House," some of which go on to mention Senator Obama's Christian Minister. These kind of e-mails and misinformation only serve one purpose -- to frighten the ignorant. From the amount of e-mails like this I see, we have an awful lot of frightened, ignorant people on the Internet these days.
I know they're probably out there, but I've not seen one single e-mail bashing Senator John McCain. The Democrats simply don't follow that playbook to the extent the Republicans do. The Democrats chant "change," and compare Obama's policies with McCain's, but they don't resort to character attacks. Again, this is just what I'm seeing, but it seems to ring true.
I'm glad the conventions are over and the veeps have been chosen. I'm getting tired of the circus, to be honest. The anxiety that we may face four more years of unsound economic policies and four more years of a Presidential Administration cutting veterans' benefits is getting to me.
I talked to the contractor plumber guy yesterday as they were pouring concrete. "Are we gonna make it under the figure you quoted," I asked. If we go over budget I'm gonna be in trouble -- all I have is a loan for the amount they quoted me... And they'd already done work that wasn't included in the bid -- my retaining wall was back in place already.
"Yeah, we'll make sure we're on target," he said.
"Um... How much would it be for you to put my fence back?" I asked, looking at the retaining wall, thankful they moved the railroad ties into place with their backhoe -- it would have been miserable to try to lug them into place by hand.
He paused for a minute, shovel in hand, and wiped the sweat from his head. "I was planning to put the fence back for you anyway," he said. "It'll only take us a few minutes while we have the tools here."
"Oh, THANK YOU!" I said. "I've been worrying about this stuff. I simply don't have the tools to do any of this. It'd take me days to put the fence back using nothing but a trowel and a broken Phillips screw driver. I might have a hammer somewhere, but I think the handle fell off it a few years ago..." Three cheers for Tri-State Plumbing!
So, the way it looks, all I'll have to do is rake and reseed my yard, and plug my little Blue Spruce into a hole somewhere. The plumber/contractor people are supposed to be back later today to take the concrete forms out, put the fence in, and level my yard... Unfortunately it's supposed to rain the next few days (it's getting cold out there -- highs in the low-mid 60's are a shock from last week's mid 90's) so I'm not sure if they'll be able to do much work. I'm not looking forward to the mud.
In any case, I really, REALLY appreciate Jody's offer/idea in the comments of my last post, but it looks like things are going well -- MUCH better than I had anticipated, in fact. I'm not sure I'll need any help at all, but rest assured that I'll holler loud and long if I do! And it feels wonderful to realize that there are people out there who are willing to lend a hand! I very much appreciate it!
Throughout this whole ordeal I've been referring to "the neighbors." To be honest, they're really good people. This whole thing started when their plumbing started acting up. They called the landlord (they rent, you see), who ignored them. They called him again a few weeks later. No answer. Finally they convinced the property owner that they really needed someone to work on the plumbing... That's when all my problems started -- the contractor cut my sewer line whilst working on their plumbing.
But it's not their fault -- the neighbors rent, the contractors were doing what they were paid to do... The guy who actually owns the house could have stepped up to the plate and offered to chip in and help me out a little, but it's not his obligation to do so.
The neighbors themselves are really good people. The lady is in poor health and works as much as she can. The husband works (I believe) at the local packing plant -- a hard job. They have an extra room, so they've taken in a homeless man and have "adopted" him -- they call him "Dad." They're truly a family, bloodlines notwithstanding. When the house across the street from them was burned by an arsonist, they took in one of the "refugees" and let him live with them for a few months for a very small stipend -- enough to cover his food.
I get a good feeling when I set out a 12-pack of empty cans for the local homeless guy to cash in. These guys gave a homeless guy a home, even though they don't have two nickles to rub together themselves.
We're back home again. The plumbers got the sewer hooked into the main last night, so Dagmar and I got to come back home... They're still here, though, the plumbers. They've gotta fill the trench back in (they got a start on that last night), backfill under the street, pour a new patch and curb in the street and pour new concrete for my sidewalk. I hope they fix the sidewalk from my house to the garage, too, but I never specified that when I talked to them...
It'll be interesting to see what they fix and what they leave. The main plumber guy was quoting some really high numbers when he started the job, so I found myself saying, "just tear out the fence, I'll fix it later," and "I'll get someone to fix the retaining wall next year." That did drop his price by several thousand dollars, but now I have to find someone who can help me put my fence and retaining wall back in sometime... And I gotta reseed my yard and replant the little baby Blue Spruce we'd planted just days before all this happened. I hope he survives.
My cousin Moriah commented a few days ago on how well we're taking all this. I have to admit, that's entirely Dagmar's fault -- she's taught me how to put things in perspective. In the long run, this is just an inconvenience. We'll be fine.
Notice how they've managed to destroy my yard from the side of my house all the way to the fence? That's pretty much ALL my yard. I have no back yard or side yard. We'll get to the front yard shortly.
Yeah, that's my front yard.
Here's my front yard AFTER they cut the gas line...
This is the scene looking out my front door. They left Friday for the holiday with a solemn promise to be back first thing Tuesday morning.
What a mess. I'm really not mad at the plumbers for leaving a mess, or for leaving the mess over a three-day weekend, thus forcing us to move out of our home for the duration, honest. I'm mad at the city for forcing us to do this RIGHT NOW under threat of losing our home. Oh well. Such is life. I'm going to put a proposal to the City Council that they start a fund to provide low or no interest loans to other people who find themselves in this situation. Things would have been a LOT less scary for us had they said, "Yeah, this is gonna cost you four or five grand, but we can loan it to you fairly cheap." The stress we had was finding the finds.
Oh, if you're new here and don't know the story, just read the post below.