Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Weekly Dammit, #6

Dammit #1:
When stressing over a job recently, I actually heard myself tell the girls to just eat the M&M's and I'd make them toast later. Time to reexamine priorities!

Dammit #2:
Why were CNN producers allowed to select the videos for the YouTube sponsored debate? Next time, have YouTube users vote on the top 20. Let producers choose an additional 10 or so, if they really can't help themselves. Oh, and how's about making the images larger so television viewers can actually, you know, see them.

Dammit 3:
Our weekend camping trip was too short, something I certainly never thought I'd say. Camping trips were not something we looked forward to when I was a kid--but this one was nice. Of course it helped that I didn't have to worry about cooking or cleaning, and Thomas took care of most of the packing, since I know nothing about camping. Sadly, that's one dumb act I won't be able to keep up for long.

Dammit #4:
Joe Biden seems to be doing well in the debates, which is great--I like him. However, he will always manage to put his foot in his mouth or just talk on and on, long past the time when his last listener has rolled her last eyeball permanently into the back of her head. He's got the brains and the experience and I think he'd make a great president. But the man just can't bear to let anyone else talk; he comes off as arrogant and intent on proving that he is, in fact, the smartest guy in the room.

Dammit #5:
The new San Jose Sharks logo has had its debut. All I have to say is: trying to make the new logo look tough isn't going to help unless the guys are willing to back it up.

Dammit #6:
I suck at pithy.

Dammit #7
(Really, I should save some of these for next week.)
Every time I hear someone say that the Bush administrations "lies" aren't that bad because "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" is what a lie actually looks like, I want to beat the crap out of them. Not that I do that sort of thing. How can a rational being equate lying about sex, something done from the beginning of time by men and women, great and small,** with telling the sorts of lies that get people killed?

** Yes, yes, I know what you're thinking. But I am neither advocating the behavior nor saying that ALL people behave this way. So don't send me nasty emails! (Hidden Bonus Dammit!)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Solar Rules

When we moved into our house a year ago, we were really excited at the thought that, with the solar array (free with purchase!), we'd be generating most of our electricity and selling back whatever we didn't use (net metering). Now we actually look forward to the electric bill. No, really! It includes a bar chart so we can track our usage, cheer when the month's bar is short, boo and turn off more lights when it's up.

Based on our true-up statement, I'd say we've done pretty well. Actually, gloatingly well.

The way the net metering program works is that we select a payment rate at which we both buy and sell electricity. So whatever we generate and don't use, we sell to PG&E for, let's say, 10 cents per kilowatt hour. In the winter months, we buy whatever extra electricity we need at the same rate. The fun part is that, with all of this buying and selling, we actually only pay a monthly pass-though rate of $4.70. The rest is settled up at the end of the year (July, in our case), less the $4.70 per month already paid. If we owe, we send a check. If somehow we manage to have a credit, it rolls over to the next year.

Now, when we bought the house, we already knew that we totally lucked out. The general thinking is that it takes about 15 years to recoup the costs of installing a solar system (pretty cheap if it actually includes Pluto) But because our house came with a good system already installed, we immediately began to realize the savings.

Now we get to the gloating: The last couple of months at our old house, we were running the air conditioner non-stop because 1) we were selling the house and, 2) we were in the middle of a heat wave. So our electricity bills were running around $200 a month. Which would explain why I was so immensely pleased to open the true-up statement today to find that, for the entire year, our electric bill is only $173.88.

Hopefully, it won't be long before solar becomes more affordable and a viable option for more people. In the meantime, I think I'll use some of the savings to do a little economy-propping shoe shopping.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Weekly Dammit, #5

Dammit #1:
Some foods that require a bit of mixing and/or cooking on your part include the calorie count in the item as packaged as well as the number of calories in the finished product. I'm sure that there is a quasi-logical reason for this--maybe someone wants to know the baseline before they start tossing in a bunch of other stuff. Maybe someone actually wants to eat Bisquick right out of the box. I'm not going to do it, but I have no problem with someone else giving it a go--as long as I can watch. But here's a thought: Why not use that space to tell us where the ingredients came from? That seems to be a bigger issue these days than knowing that Annie's Homegrown Organic Shells and Real Aged Cheddar has 270 calories uncooked vs. 280 prepared. (You'd have to go to their website to see that all of their wheat comes from the US.)

Dammit #2:
Why do certain people feel the need to tell me "The problem with you lefties is . . . "? I never say to them "The problem with you assholes is . . . "

Dammit #3:
It would seem that some manufacturers want you to buy their product but not actually be able to touch said product. For the past few years, packaging seems to have become more complicated and impossible to get into without injury. To open it, you need to first gather a few items: heavy gloves, a valium and/or glass of wine, bowie knife, duct tape (to muffle whining from the children while you actually get to the damn toy), and a sweat rag.

Perhaps, though, the tide is turning? I almost wept with joy today when I opened a package that had the product GLUED lightly to a recycled cardboard backing. It still had the plastic overlay, but that too was only glued to the backing. Thank you thank you. Now if only we can convert all manufacturers before the holidays.

Dammit #4:
Someone leaked the last Harry Potter book. It's bad enough that I'm going to be camping all weekend, but now some idiot has made it more likely that I'm going to hear something about it before I actually get to the book.

Dammit #5:
I think that Dammit #4 was probably a huge dork alert. Yes, I've read the Lord of the Rings books too. All of them. Several times. Mostly when I was a kid. Yeah, yeah, that's it.

Dammit #6:
In order to buy alcoholic beverages, you have to have been born on or before today's date in 1986. I am so old.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

And That Makes Two

Charlotte is displaying early symptoms of the same wicked sense of humor that Hannah has, which, in all fairness, they come by honestly.

We were at the vet with Argus last week when a woman came out of an exam room, credit card in hand, towed behind her Jack Russell terrier. The dog was excited to be done with his check up, hopping around as if to say, "C'mon lady--move it!"

Though clearly wanting to get the dog out of there, the woman had to wait in line to pay. Dog was not happy. Nor was he impressed with her efforts to get him to sit.

"Sit. Sit. Sit Sit. Sitsitsitsitsitsit!"

The dog looked at me, rolling his eyes.

"Sit. Sit. Sit," she continued unbroken.

"Sit and I'll give you a cookie!"

Still standing, still hopping, the dog glanced around, knowing what was coming next.

"Oh alright, here's a cookie. Mommy's good boy!"

As I watched, I wondered what the dog--not to mention his owner--would do if I used the tone that we learned when Argus was in Doggie Boot Camp. Something a bit more commanding. A nice strong,

"Neuf" (Hannah swears I say this instead of "No")! Sit!"

Still not sure whether to give it a try, I heard a small hissing noise behind me. Charlotte, who had also been watching, looked at me, then at the dog, as she signed "sit, sit, sit," while saying "Sih, sih, sih," followed by the wicked giggle that makes me burst out laughing every time.

The dog glanced up at Charlotte and I swear he winked at her before he, at last, sat down, staring patiently at the door.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Waiting for the Punchline

There was a letter to the editor in Monday's Mercury News that I had to read twice. Then once again with my glasses on, just in case. Then I put it aside to read again, just to make sure I read it correctly the first three times. I'll let you decide:

The whiny liberal crowd will not credit our great commander in chief, even though he is the first man of his word our nation has ever had. He said he was a uniter not a divider, and sure enough he has united about three out of every four of us. He said he was going to restore honor and decency to the White House, and we enjoy worldwide renown for our efforts to find peace, albeit through war. He is open and candid about even the smallest perceived misstep, articulate and persuasive to all who will listen carefully. We are truly blessed and will miss him terribly after next year.
--Ed Von Ruden, San Jose, CA
1) Is grampa smoking crack?
2) Does BushworldTM actually exist?
3) Has this person ever read anything about US history?
4) Does anyone else agree with what this guy is saying?
5) Was this a seriously bad joke by someone desperate to see his name in print?
6) Did I (please, oh please) misread it?

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Weekly Dammit, #4

Dammit #1:
When Thomas makes dinner, I frequently rue the fact that I have but one stomach. Last night's tangy chicken skewers with romescu sauce made me wish that what I lovingly refer to as my baby pooch were, in fact, a functioning stomach, allowing me to keep eating, just for the pure pleasure of the combined flavors and textures. And it's not without guilt that I say this (bonus Dammit!), as it was long ago drilled into my head that, somewhere in China, there were children who would be more than happy to have my meal. I began to doubt my parents' word when those same children refused my repeated and insistent pleas that they at least, and for the love of god, take my pork chop briquettes. Somehow I think the answer would have been different had we'd been talking about the Peach Cobbler a la mode.

Dammit #2:
Not so very long ago I was quietly pleased to see that Cindy Sheehan had decided to give up the fight and go home to her other children, whose existence, I must admit, surprised.

But I should have known by the phrasing, "leaving to spend more time with her family," that Ms. Sheehan had already made the decision to treat us once again to the prospect of her on the campaign trail. That's right! La Dame Sans A Clue on Anything Not Iraq-related has declared her intention to give Nancy Pelosi a run for her money. Yes, that Nancy Pelosi and all of that money. Of course, Nancy will be allowed to keep her job if she just brings articles of impeachment against President Bush within two weeks.

Articles of impeachment: Not a bad idea. Representative Cindy Sheehan? Dreadful idea.

Dammit #3:
My lack of imagination is pitiable. Apparently, there is growing concern--among some Republican lawmakers and pundits, no less--that the military will be made the fall guy for failure in Iraq, once they run out of troops sometime in the spring. I thought that the plan was to run out the clock until the '08 election and then leave the whole steaming mess in the lap of whoever lands in the White House next. Even I never expected this from the administration that branded half the US population as un-American and against the troops. Tsk. Silly me.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Pachelbel Revisited

Funniest video I've seen in months--I was actually crying. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Weekly Dammit, #3

Slightly delayed this holiday week, but there are, of course, still Dammits to be had!

Dammit #1:
It's July; I'm sick. And not just the sniffling, headache-y sick, either. It's the full-blown, Kill-me-kill-me-now, NyQuil commercial-style sick. I had to cancel our Fourth of July festivities at the last minute and I have employed the electronic babysitter for the day. If I weren't so tired, I'd feel guilty about that.

Dammit #2:
That anyone (me, myself and I, included) could even pretend to feel shock and dismay at anything said or done by the Bush administration. We've watched as they lied us into war, subverted the Constitution, mocked the Geneva Conventions and marginalized Congress. And now, really?, we're going to be shocked, shocked, that Bush would consider excessive the penalty sought by a Bush-appointed prosecutor, handed down by a Bush-appointed judge, that was even in line with federal guidelines?

Dammit #3:
Some idiot politician feels a need to display his in-depth knowledge of pop-culture by bringing SLRG in to the Congressional "debate" over Scooter Libby. I don't know whether I'm more disturbed by the fact that I just mentioned SLRG and Congress in the same sentence or that a grown man still goes by the name of "Scooter," even after facing the semi (ok, the not-so)-real prospect of prison time.

Dammit #4:
I am simultaneously fascinated and repulsed by the fact that someone would eat 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes. Sure, it was for the title and a 10 thousand dollar prize, but still. I gained five pounds, maybe 6 and a half, just reading about the number of calories in 66 hot dogs (20,394).

Bonus Dammit!
The above story was on the front page of the San Jose Mercury News. Because, you know, there wasn't enough else that qualified as news worthy.