Archive for February, 2011

I dunno. Maybe it would help if I re-a-started my iPhone more often…

Monday, February 28th, 2011

I love my iPhone. We were pretty early adopters here, although I resisted for the first few months. But the writing was on the wall. It was 2007. Our contract was up on our old-skool clamshell Motorola phones. And the GG had LOST his months earlier, in front of The Ark, of all places. Always an Apple aficianado (think Apple II+ in 1979), when the iPhone was announced, the GG seemed actually excited about having a cell phone for the first time ever. Always before, it was just an extra unnecessary expense. He grudgingly agreed with my decision to get a cell phone and then our first daughter got her driver’s license and… Still, he held out. A guy like the GG can almost always figure out how to fix a broken automotive vee-hickle enough to get it off the blasted freeway. Me? Not so much? One of my main reasons for wanting one (and wanting my daughters to have them). Yeah, I know that that the current issue is what age to give your kid a phone. Twelve? Nine? Five? Say what?

Anyway, it was at the end of summer 2007, when the iPhone was first sold, that the GG somehow managed to drag me to the Briarwood Mall Apple Store to look at iPhones. I was reluctant. I was still in denial about the whole thing and it was raining cats and dogs that day. But I went. And then… I spent something like maybe 10 seconds fussing around with an iPhone and a few minutes later, we were walking out of the store with two iPhones and a $1200 charge on our debit card. Impulsive? Cha-ching!!!

I didn’t have ANY time to play around with my new phone that night. I was getting ready for a trip to the Great White North with Uber Kayak Woman and I spent the next morning slodging around through an absolute deluge helping Mouse do errands for her impending study-abroad session in Senegal. And then, I drove over to Metro, picked up Uber Kayak Woman and drove north.

When I got up there, I stood in the Moomincabin, where there is no wifi and, by gosh, I was able to post an actual blahg entry FROM MY PHONE! Cue Thus Spake Zarathustra!

That was my first iPhone. We replaced those with the 3G or whatever it is a while back. We aren’t in any hurry to get the latest and greatest. When it’s the right time for *us* to buy, we will. The thing is that 95% of the time, I use my phone for everything BUT phone calls. My preferred methods of direct communication to a particular person are text message and email. Phone calls have always been hard for me and I am only prepared to answer them now if I am expecting them. It does help that the iPhone (and other phones do too, I know) has built in caller ID technology.

Alas. All of those rumors you hear are right. The phone itself is pretty dern crappy. That is okay 95% of the time. The other 5% is when I have to call The Commander. She has an iPhone and a landline (I do not, anymore). The Commander does not have particularly good hearing but it isn’t any worse than a lot of people *my* age. But that, added to the interference that seems to be constantly on my iPhone, makes it so hard to talk sometimes.

Make no mistake. The Comm is pretty darn good at bludgeoning her way through many of the functions of the iPhone. She reads the New York Times on her phone and uses the camera and sends text messages (yay!) and I forget what else. But she and I need to *talk* on the phone sometimes. Hear each others’ voices. It is harder than heck when she can’t hear me because there is interference on the “line” (or whatever it is) between us.

Kinnearing [sorta] and not snowmobiling on Houghton Lake

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

Ah yes. That feels good! Drove the entire way from Houghton Lake to The Planet Ann Arbor this afternoon (180 miles or thereabouts) wishing I had packed some Vaseline this weekend. Came home, washed my face, and applied Vaseline to all the chapped parts. I’m taking Kleenex to work tomorrow and I have Vaseline in my cube. Sick of KW’s incessant litany of her latest common cold symptoms? All roight!

I have been on a snowmobile a few times in my life. I don’t remember them being around up there in the Great White North in my early childhood but, when I became a teenager, all of a sudden they were everywhere! Everybody was talking about them. Ski Doo and Polaris and I fergit what else. Was Arctic Cat around back then? Anyway, The Engineer reeeaaallllly wanted one. Grandroobly was not all that crazy about that idea. In retrospect, I’m not sure why. The old man liked to navigate in silent ways, walking, skiing, paddling. But he also loved engines. Cars and planes? Yes. Why not snowmobiles? To this day, I don’t exactly know. The Engineer did eventually get him to buy a snowmobile. I think The Engineer was in 8th grade. Yes. It was a Snowhawk. Ever hear of that brand? I thought not. But it doesn’t matter. I don’t ever remember Grandroobly driving that thing.

In January 1969, my hometown, Sault Ste. Siberia, hosted its first I-500 snowmobile race. The race lasted for about a billion hours and from my house down on Superior Street, I could hear the snowmobiles running as I was going to sleep that night. I think I remember that the grokkery stores ran out of bread that weekend because of the number of people that came to town to see the race. And snowmos could drive on all the streets in town.

I went to the second I-500 with my boyfriend, whose family was really excited about snowmobiles. We walked around the track about a billion times. And then, he abandoned me. I forget what the argument was about but I will always remember him leaving me to walk around the track alone in the dark. I was wondering how I would get home and I didn’t want to walk home by myself. This was when my family lived down on the south side on Superior Street. Not really all that far but to me, that night, it seemed like miles.

Time goes on and life changes. This guy was a good person but he was not a good boyfriend and it was not cool that he left me to walk around on my own. Although I was never unsafe (only unhappy) and I did end up running into my parents at the end of it all. I had no idea they were even there! And, to his credit, he called me the next day and told me that he had tried to follow me. I think he probably did, although he probably didn’t want to. We were only freshmen sixteen. Sigh. Thinking back to that day and knowing what I do now, I would have loved to be walking along that track alone. I would have looked up at the stars and been happy enjoying life. Nevertheless, I hope the old boyfriend is doing well…

Fish flies in February

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

There was a whole herd of deer out there in the early evening but these were the only two that I managed to catch on my loverly iPhone cam. I will say that there is a crapload (yes) of deer crap (yes) out there in the front yard.

Fish flies? Yes. Well. I did not go skiing today. I used the excuse that I had a cold (and I do) but it was somehow more than that. I just didn’t feel like going through the whole rigamarole of driving up to the ski ranch and dealing with my rather ill-fitting equipment. Not to mention all of the wonderful folks who drive up from southeast Michigan to x-c ski at the ranch. The ones that I have trouble socializing with unless I’m in the mood… Somehow I needed moom-alone time. So, Mouse took off with the Twinz of Terror and I took a slow ride around the lake. Best Choice grokkeries, the liq-wire store next door to Best Choice, Shell gasoline. And then. I still needed a few things at a more comprehensive grokkery store than my beloved Best Choice. Hmmm. Glen’s or Walmart. You know I chose Glen’s. The more northern store. And wouldn’t you know, while I was *in* Glen’s, I encountered a female employee talking to some other customers about that particular choice. I opened my mouth to tell her that I made a conscious decision to stop at Glen’s that day and wouldn’t you know, I became her new best friend and could barely get away from her.

Back to the Group Home. Some good kibbitzing with The Beautiful Gay, then I cleaned out the refrigerator while she vacuumed. It’s interesting when you are involved with a place like this, which is shared by a number of relatives. I could grumble from here to kingdom come about people buying multiples of multiples. The truth is that we all do the same thing. “Hmmm, I wonder if there is salad dressing (or bbq sauce or whatever) up there. I dunno, so I’ll buy it.” And then you get here and you find five bottles of what you bought. Soy Vay, anyone? That would be my personal nemesis. I can’t remember the last time I actually noticed what was in the refrigerator but, for whatever reason, I got into refrigerator clean-out mode today. A lot of old stuff died. One thing that didn’t was a “bag” of margaritas. I put that in the freezer.

And, yes, I found a fish fly (aka Canadian Soldier) in the refrigerator. Yes, of course it was dead! I took a picture of it and posted it on facebook and I believe someone in the Courtois Fam even commented that they had been saving it… 🙂 Sigh. Summer (and fish flies) are never too far away, are they?

The webcam is fixed!

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Mostly. I have a little bit of html work to do tomorrow when my brain is less stoopid. Man, that was a convoluted ordeal. It ended up that the FTP access for posting pictures was suspended for “strange activity”. Well, yeah. That’s because I had to change the password. Because I couldn’t remember the one I changed it to when the host got hacked last spring* and suspended everybody’s account and made us all change to one of those impossible-to-remember passwords with a mix of upper and lower-case letters and numbers and symbols. Actually, I couldn’t even remember that whole episode at first. I think I probably blocked it! There has got to be a better way! Anyway, I changed the password *again* but, unfortunately, I forgot (or maybe it just wasn’t on my radar screen to begin with) that the webcam has to log in to the ftp server every time it wants to post a picture. Since it did not have the correct password, it tried to log in about a bajillion times without success. Yes, that would be strange activity. My brain is in a total fog today plus I was throwing together a snacky type dinner from the Landfill Refrigimatator and Plum Market, so I made the GG fight his way through it all and, in the end, he triumphed. As he usually does when it comes to mechanical or computerized stuff. A lot of times that’s a good thing. There are moments when it’s insufferable.

So, it is Friday night and we are here at the Houghton Lake Group Home. We are gonna x-c ski tomorrow but I have this stoopid cold. It’s the same one the GG had a week ago and I think I have a milder version but man, have I been coughing today and my brain is stoopid. And I’ve been cold. Not a particularly normal state for me. At any rate, I was thinking of making a typical kind of American pre-skiing breakfast tomorrow: eggs, bacon, and potatoes. With rosemary. Except I did not bring any real live rosemary up here with me. But then. I was wrapping up the leftovers from the snacky dinner and there were some little chicken wings and things and, lo and behold, there was a sprig of rosemary in there! Who knew. A good omen for the weekend? I hope so. Oh, and there are something like five bottles of barbecue sauce around here but no salad dressing. (Hey, this is a group home and you never quite know what’s gonna be here or where it’ll be and that’s part of the fun.) But that was okay because my Mouse (who has the weekend off to ski) grabbed some red-wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic powder, and oregano and whatever and made some. Just like her grandmoose, The Commander.

*Not ababsurdo’s host. A different host. My web life is complex and you do not wanna know.

Sledding in San Francisco

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

No, this is not San Fran. I wish! I remember the first time I went out there, I was looking up and down those hills and wondering what the heck they did in an ice storm! Oh roight, I’m not in Kansas The Great Lake State any more. Anyway, this photoooo is the looooverrrrly Jackson/Maple intersection right here on the western hemisphere of The Planet Ann Arbor. And that big pile (bunch? not sure what to call it) of snow is what the snowplows left, more or less in the middle of one of the most heavily trafficked intersections in town*.

This has been a challenging week around here. We are accustomed to snow and I actually like to shovel, although it gets a little old when there’s so much snow you start running out of places to put it and you have to lift the shovel up above your shoulder and throw the slodgy old wet snow over the top of a three or four foot snowback snowbank. Or wherever. Lots of people have been grumbling cursing about the crappy plowing job the Planet folks have been doing. I may have been one of them the morning it took us a half hour to get our loverly Ninja rolling down the street. But I dunno. This is not the Yooperland and we really do NOT get a whole heckuva lot of snow around here. More often we get long stretches of ugly gray cold dry weather. Is it better for the Planet to buy a bunch of fancy new snow removal trucks and equipment that might sit largely unused for a year or two at a time? Or should we all try to be patient and wait for the plows? I can telecommute (and I know not everyone can) and I can walk (or ski) to the grokkery store. With the 8-10 inches we got on Sunday-Monday, we could still get two of our fleet of vee-hickles out and neither of those are 4WD. I’m not sure what my opinion is about this… I think that planning for snowstorms could be improved but I’m sure there are a lot of variables that can’t possibly be known unless you are in the trenches of public snow removal.

At least we *have* snowplows. Not so sure about San Francisco!

What else? We have another winter weather “advisory” for tonight into tomorrow. We’ll see what we get. I am not sick, at least not significantly. Mild cold with intermittent nose-blowing and occasional coughing, thank you very much. And just for fun, I found this link to a balance the Great Lake State budget game this morning (and Dogmomster and others subsequently tweeted or fb’ed it or whatever). I have not played it yet. I was sitting over at Barry Bagels waiting for MMCB when I found it this morning and I only had my phone, on which the game wasn’t very accessible. Tried again this afternoon from my laptop but after a brain-convoluting day at work, I got to about the second page in and realized I would have to actually try to read and digest choices with facts and figures in them. Not tonight!

* The GG says that verbalizing nouns is not allowed. He is right and he did not even have Mrs. Pratt for 8th grade English. He thinks that “one of the busiest intersections in town” would be better. I agree. I’m taaarrrred. My brain is dead. I was racking my brain thinking of how to write that. This is a baggy old blahg, not the next great American novel. Mea culpa.

I hab a code id by dose but I do dot hab idfluedza

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Yes. I wedt to work today add I coughed add sdeezed add blew by dose. But I dod’t hab a feber add todight we walked ober to Ziggerbad’s Roadhouse for didder. It was really good add I habd’t beed dere before ebed though it’s beed aroud for like fibe or ted years or whateber. I lib udder a rock! I had da low cuttry boil add Da GG had sub kide o’ ribs add Bouse had fadcy bacarodi add cheese. Add we all had sub driks add Bouse didd’t ebed get carded. ‘course she deber seebs to get carded. I cad’t figger out why. I was still gettig carded whed I was forty-subthig. It was really expedsib too. I liked it but I thik Kdight’s will still be our go-to restaraut. But it was fud add I had all kides o’ edergy for jubpig ober all da sdowbaks da plows left behide id the biddle of da streets eberywhere. Add ruddig to catch up wid da GG add Bouse whed I got behide because I was takig beeyooteeus pictures. Like dis wud.

Add I ab still bad at Chico’s because da sprig collectiod is out. It doesd’t hab as much beige but it has a lot of taupe. Dis is dot ad ibprovebet. I deed sub COLOR!!! PLEASE!

Good-dight! Lub y’all. -KW.


Just let me hear some of that rock and roll music!

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Rediscovering my old rock and roll skills over the last couple days! Vee-hickle rocking that is, an old Yooper trick. Yesterday, I helped rock a neighbor’s vee-hickle out of a stuck situation. His wife is apparently “uncomfortable behind the wheel of a car” and she did indeed seem pretty happy when I jumped into the driver’s seat. Today? Why yes, that bee-yoo-ty-ful little black vee-hickle belongs to the Landfill Fleet. It stayed roughly in that position for at least a half hour this morning. A half hour during which I pulled the other two members of the fleet out to the street and back into the driveway (to strategically switch their positions) with no problem. The Ninja? Rrrrrrrrr…. Rrrrrrrrr… (The sound of spinning tires, if you couldn’t figure that out.)

The GG swung into highway engineer mode. He ordered me into the driver’s seat and grabbed a big iron rod he keeps in the back yard (don’t ask) and started digging down to the pavement. Okay, rock it! First gear, then reverse. Rrrrrrr…. Rrrrrrr…. More digging. Rock it! First gear, then reverse. Rrrrrr… Rrrrrr… Lather, rinse, repeat. I was honestly beginning to wonder if we were gonna have to call Triple A or something although I knew the GG wouldn’t give up until he had achieved success. Finally. He dug around a bit more and I tried it one more time. This time, when I kicked it into first, the tires grabbed something, not sure what, and I was rolling! I rolled until I got in front of Hans’s house, where his private plow service had cleared a good portion of the street. I jumped out, the GG jumped in, he took off and swung around the corner, ignoring the stop sign (I was following along on foot to make sure it was clear). He didn’t stop until he had traversed the final block and landed on Maple. A few beeps of the horn announced his success. I went inside, got ready for work and trundled over to my loverly, dog-poopy cube today in the loverly Dogha (as NPJane said in yesterday’s comments, Honda Accords *rock* in snow). When I got home, the plow had [finally] been by. What the heck took you guys so long?

Any old way you choose it.
It’s got a back beat, you can’t blues* it.
Any old time you use it.

* Hmmm… I always thought it was “back beat you can’t lose it” but The Google turns up some versions that use “blues it”. I kind of like that, myself. Not sure it it’s correct though. And it is definitely not as funny a mondegreen as when The Commander mis-heard “Leaving on a jet plane” as “Lincoln on his deathbed”!

I fear that I am succumbing to the GG’s recent rhinovirus. Good night and be glad my germs can’t infect you over the internet. -KW

P.S. I do have to say that, as crazy as the old POC drove me, it handled snow pretty darn well!

Forgive us our debts as we forgive those who trespass against us

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Snooowwwww. Yes. The prediction? A couple inches of snow mixing to freezing rain with a quarter inch accumulation of ice. Well. How about ten inches of snow? It snowed all day yesterday and we never did get anything resembling freezing rain, so I knew I would be shoveling this morning. I didn’t quite envision the ten inches of snow that we got. Kee-reist! I am an old Yooper and I am damned if I am gonna buy a snowblower but, man, that stuff was heavy. When I saw Marsha out there blowing all of the sidewalks on her side of our block, I was a bit heartened. She usually does both sides of the street on our block and I was hopeful that she would do *my* little bit of sidewalk. Alas. She was heading across the street to do our sidewalks when her snowblower ran outta gas! Oh well, love you anyway, Marsha. I shoveled for going on two hours. And cleaned up vee-hickles. And helped get a neighbor’s vee-hickle out of being stuck. I had headed outside with three car keys in my pocketses this morning and started up three vee-hickles to warm them up, so I could eventually brush huge cubes of snow off of them. Yes, I was channeling Grandroobly and The Engineer this morning. Or maybe I’m just a dern Yooper.

Landfill status: GG had President’s Day off, since he is one o’ them thar slackers (not) over at That Darn EPA. KW worked from home. Ninja’s performance taaarrrrs do not do 8-10 inches of snow. Mouse went to work. Daisy does do snow pretty well. Ninja, not so much. Ninja is looooverly on dry pavement.

My California beach urchin went x-c skiing at Tahoe over the weekend. Up a mountain and down a mountain, not the typical Great Lake State skiing she grew up with. My kid skis better than she thinks she does. Encountering a moom with small children along the way, she mentioned that one of the kids didn’t even have ski poles. Well. That’s because most kids do not *need* ski poles. I will never forget the time that we were skiing at the Ski Ranch and I was out on the 5K loop with Mouse and it seemed like *forever* and I had all four of our ski poles in my right hand and I was holding hands with Mouse with my left. The GG and Liz were way ahead of us and I was questioning my sanity in taking a four-year-old out on such a long trail. We were slodging silently along when she said, “Mom, I’ve been thinking about volcanoes too much.” Volcanoes? Okay… I think we talked that out. To be honest, when I was a kid, I worried about volcanoes too.

A little bit of grrrrr, and a blast from the past (also one from old man winter)

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

First, if anyone is here because they are wondering what the heck happened to the Houghton Lake webcam, yes, it is down. We had a little problem about the webcam last weekend and, in the process of fixing it, I had to change a certain password and that in turn made it so that the software attached to the webcam couldn’t log in to post photos. That’s the short story. You do not want to know the long story. At any rate, the webcam *may* be down until somebody who actually knows what they are doing can get to the Houghton Lake Group Home again. That would be the GG and he is antsy enough about the whole thing that he almost wants to drive up there tonight and fix it. Since we are in the middle of a big ugly snow/ice storm and he has a nasty cold virus, I do *not* want him to go. Even though this is the only thing that has made him want to go anywhere farther outside than the faaarrrrwood pile all day. The moral of this loverly little story is something like, “I love y’all but pleeeeease, pleeeease, pretty please with poisonous snakes on top, do not mess with the Houghton Lake webcam”. Because this is the second Sunday in a row that KW has had to muck around with the dern thing and she is not a particularly happy camper. Grrrrrr-umph.

There is batter-coated pork cooking in corn oil on my battered old stove. I am making sweet and sour pork (SSP), which is an old family favorite from my teenage days. Actually, I don’t think that Grandroobly probably liked it very well but that’s almost beside the point. You basically cut up pork tenderloin and batter it up and fry it in oil. You make a sweet and sour sauce and cook that up with pineapple chunks (I use fresh pineapple these days) and green pepper and tomatoes. Serve with rice. I almost never fry things, I mostly saute them in a little olive oil or occasionally butter. I think The Commander originally clipped the recipe out of the newspaper or somewhere. I think it is still clipped to her otherwise rather un-cluttered refrigerator. No, it is not particularly Asian.

The Beach Urchins loved SSP when they were young. Well, that is, they liked the fried up battered pork and sometimes the pineapple chunks (or sometimes not) and Elizilla loved to cut up the tomatoes for me, sitting over at the end of the counter where she would draw or read or cut up veggies in front of Star Trek re-runs or Clarissa Explains It All or whatever was on the little TV I used to have in the Landfill Chitchen. She used a sharp knife just like her grandma taught her to use. At the age of three. Yes, really.

I haven’t made sweet and sour pork in a long time. The Beach Urchins actually eat greeeeen stuff as adults. In fact, they eat less meat and more green stuff than I do nowadays. So SSP usually isn’t on the menu. The other day, I found myself randomly thinking about SSP and then, wouldn’t you know, Mouse actually mentioned SSP yesterday. This was a perfect storm, so to speak. And so that’s what we’re having tonight.

We have snow again. And when Mouse and I walked to the Plum Market tonight (to buy beer and bunch of veggies, don’tcha know), we both felt the pelting of ice. So maybe the weather forecasters are actually right this time. It’s looking like I’ll be working from Tangelo Row tomorrow, at last for part of day. Sigh. I love the moment when I click the front door locked with my work laptop bag hanging off my shoulder and shove everything into my car and head over to my fave parking spot and my loverly, dog-poopy cube. And the GG is off tomorrow for President’s Day, so he’ll be home all day too. Blerg… Well, we’ll see what I’ll end up doing.

Cries for reform spreading from the MidEast to the MidWest?

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

(Title condensed from a comment left yesterday by my uber cuzzint, The Grand PoohBah.) So, why are the good citizens of The Great Lake State forming their own Tahrir Square in downtown LansiPng? Well, yer fav-o-rite blahgger lives under a rock, so don’t come to ababsurdo fer advanced analysis of current events. Butchy’all already knew that, roight?

Part of this is that the Great Lake State has a new Republlican governor, a “moderate” businessman who has vowed to balance the budget. Here’s Rick Snyder on wikipee. I dunno. I can do things with Excel jspreadsheets that 99% of the population cannot and I’m kind of wondering if the new budget wasn’t created on some Excel spreadsheet, maybe during the guv’s daily state police chauffeur service from The Planet Ann Arbor to Lansing (for the record, I am not at all opposed to the chauffeur service — I think it’s better than taking a helicopter). But. Okay. You can move spreadsheet numbers around from here to kingdom come but what happens when you actually show them to the people who live in the state and work and pay taxes?

A part of this has to do with what many hard-working state workers may face. Another part is what teachers may face. A friend of ours drives from our loverly planet every day to teach pre-schoolers in the Detroit school district. She has been doing this for many years. Teaching in Detroit? It sounds like a war zone down there but there are children there and they have parents who care about their education. Those kids are no less worthy of our support than the privileged kids in my relatively upscale community full of over-educated people. The Detroit school system has been sliding downhill for years as the city loses population but it has gotten drastically worse in the last few years and, with recent legislation, I suppose it’ll get even worse. I cannot take time off work to stand with the teachers but, if I could, I would stand with the Detroit Federation of Teachers.

What do I think? I think that we have to talk to each other no matter what our professed political party is. In my case that’s nothing. Spreadsheets will help but they are only tools. We need to work together to decide what services our governments need to provide and how to fund them. I think it took a long time for the Great Lake State to get into the mess where it is now and I am not sure how to pull it out of that. I wish we could take our time and make slow, incremental changes… Can we do that?

And so. This afternoon, I walked into the Blue and Only Bathroom. I was just putting away clean, folded up towels but I caught something out of the corner of my eye. A BIG brown bird was sitting on a stack of wood in our backyard. What was it? I figgered it was a hawk of some sort but I am not much of a birder, so I didn’t know. I had been thinking about going for a short walk but I stood there next to the Blue and Only Toilet for something like 10 minutes waiting for that good old boy to do *something*. There were a couple squirrels running all over the place to the right of the hawk and a little chippy squeaked up through one of those logs. The hawk sat there forever. *Finally*, he took off and landed on a power wire in my back yard. I quit watching at that point.

The geese are back!

Friday, February 18th, 2011

The ponds are still frozen down in Avis Farms park but the geese are back. At least a few of them. I saw a half dozen or so skittering around on the second pond in as I drove to work this morning. Soon enough they will be scouting out their nesting spots and the cycle of Canada goose life will start up all over again. I dunno when The Admiral will be back. He’s my fave great blue heron, if you didn’t know. I think that The Beautiful Susie is holding that good ol’ boy hostage down in FLA. Thanks to the Internet, I know that the seagulls are not back on Round Island. Not yet. Soon, I bet.

The Internet is a wonderful thing. The GG did not go in to work today. I did and so I had no idea where the GG was or what he was doing. And that’s okay. Because honestly, sometimes it is better if I do not know where he is or what he is doing. Thanks to the wondrous Internet, my Cali daughter emailed to tell me that the proprietor of the DamnArbor blahg aka a middle school/high school/theatre guild/college friend of hers had spotted the GG wandering aimlessly around downtown on the planet, wearing his Stormy Kromer hat. Which Stormy Kromer hat, I don’t really know. I think it was one of the tan ones (I can’t tell those apart). What would we do without the Internet?

Despite the fact that huge volumes of snot have streaming out of the GG’s nose all day, he walked downtown and back twice today. Once (apparently) this afternoon and once in the late afternoon/early evening, where we met at the Old Town Barrrrooooom. That’s eight miles total. It is pretty warm today (did I say that already) and there is a beautiful full moon but there are gusty winds and I expect that the temperature will start heading down the escalator again as early as tomorrow. Sure was nice to be able to schlep over to work without a ski jacket and snowboots, at least for a couple days. Both our Northern Correspondent Paulette and The Commander reported whiteout conditions in the Yooperland today. And aurora borealis is supposed to show her colors tonight but I suspect I will be zoned out by then. Sorry but I’m not gonna even try.

And with that, TGIF and goodnight! -Kayak Woman

If it’s Thursday, my mind is all over the place.

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

So, some random thoughts…

First, I often write my entries in haste, at the end of a long work day and most of y’all do not probably want to know the details of my job. I can barely explain what I do to the GG and he is a computer scientist. Anyway, when I wrote yesterday’s entry about Borders, I called out some examples of what I thought was less-than-stellar customer service. In no way did I mean to imply that those people were the typical experience. I do think that often when companies expand in an exponential way, they can lose sight of what made them special to start with. So people get hired who don’t understand the corporate culture and they hire others who understand it even less. And alot (alot? hee hee) a lot of the folks who work in the Borders stores are too young to have any idea about its origins. Still wishing good luck for the future.

And then there is politics, which I shouldn’t blahg about because I am not very well informed. But today, our state’s new Republican governor released his budget. I don’t know the details but people are apparently shocked. I guess it includes some unpopular cuts and some equally unpopular tax increases. Well. We have to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves. And I admit that there are a lot of folks who can’t. But somehow we have to find a way to encourage people to take responsibility for their own lives/finances. A (hopefully) benign example might be the Cashbar for Clunkers program. I was on board with helping people replace truly old vee-hickles that spewed emissions into the air (and broke down all the time) with new vee-hickles. But when somebody asked me if I was going to take advantage of that program to replace our loverly old Dogha, I was taken aback. The Dogha is (knock on wood) an old but very reliable vee-hickle. We do not buy new cars frequently but, when we do, we *pay* for them ourselves. Because we can! So why do we need government help to buy a car? That would’ve felt like cheating to me… Ah well. I am degenerating at this point but we have to figure out how to help those who need help without subsidizing people like, well, us, who are not rich but can pay the bills plus…

And then there is the GG, who has what I think is a cold virus but he thought was The Flu. I don’t think so. He drank two ‘hattans last night plus he ate dinner.. If you have the real flu or even a particularly awful cold virus, you are usually flat out on the Green Couch. At least I am. The GG did not sleep well last night and that meant that I didn’t either but he did a full day at work today and he is having a drink tonight too and is flying his little helicopter. Flu? I don’t think so. Cold virus? Yes.

Then and now

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

The big news around here is, of course, that our once local independent book store, Borders, has filed for bankruptcy. They are closing 200 stores, including one of our three local stores. The online replacement for the old Ann Arbor Snooze has polled its readers on the biggest cause of the store’s long slide into bankruptcy. I don’t think there is a “biggest” cause. I think all of the options (except for coupons? what?) are factors. And some of the commenters (commentors?) had interesting things to say too. I had mixed feelings when Borders went big, I was skeptical about the partnership with Amazon, and I thought they fumbled on embracing e-reader technology. But I also think that e-reader technology is still in a wild wild west phase.

The first incarnation of Borders that I encountered was when I was in my 20s. That was the Jurassic Age! It was a two-story shop on State Street and was well known for its huge and comprehensive selection of books of all genres. Except for romance novels, that is. Not at Borders. The staff was extremely knowledgeable. If I have it right, a requirement for employment involved a lengthy literature test.

I have good memories of taking our kids there. I especially remember the GG wrapping up our first little newborn and taking her to Borders. I’m sure that the staff oohed and aahed at all the babies (future customers!) but, even in the 1980s in our relatively progressive city, they always seemed particularly impressed to see a dad, alone with his newborn baby, at the bookstore. Later on, that baby learned how to crawl up and down stairs on the carpeted stairs and I spent huge amounts of money on children’s books. Anyone need some? (Seriously!)

Borders began opening other stores and that flagship store that I remember so fondly moved a few doors down into the old Jacobson’s department store on Liberty. We were still regular customers. I still bought billions of books (anyone need some?) and they were now stocking stuffed aminals and puppets. The beach urchins were always hugely into fantasy play with puppets and things, so, yes, I bought billions of those too. Anyone need some?

I don’t buy as many books as I used to. The Landfill is *full* of books. I don’t have room for any more. And my loverly career doesn’t leave me with a lot of time and/or the right psychological energy to read for pleasure. We won’t talk about how high my stack of unread New Yorkers is right now.

As Borders expanded (and expanded and expanded and expanded), the customer service suffered a bit (in my opinion). I loved the original store, where you could go in and just kind of walk around and browse. If you wanted help, a *knowledgeable* person was always available. If you didn’t want help, they would leave you alone. A few years ago, my newly-graduated California kid (the afore-mentioned newborn) asked for books for Christmas. I was great at buying children’s books but wasn’t so sure what my sophisticated and widely-read daughter would be interested in (note: not romance novels). I went to Borders. Wouldn’t you know, some woman salesperson latched onto me. “Well, what was her major in college?”, she asked. I should have said, “Thanks but I don’t need help.” But social anxiety set in. “Theatre”, is what I replied. Oh… The woman started pointing out all kinds of theatre books. I knew that my daughter didn’t want a bunch of theatre-related books. She has always been a *reader* and she wanted big, thick, dense, *novels* to, well, *read*! Classic literature and modern literature and, well, stuff that might keep her occupied for more than an hour. Alas. The woman was not helpful *and* she wouldn’t leave me alone! And then there was the whole thing I witnessed last fall, where two rather non-literary-looking guys dudes ran by the table I was sitting at, passing a book back and forth like it was a football (it *was* a football Saturday). One said, “Dude, I’ve been a manager for like a week.” The other replied, “Dude, meeeee toooo.” Managers of what? The bathroom, maybe? Do you think Borders required them to take a test on literature for employment?

I love Borders. I want Borders to survive and that’s not only because people I care about work there. I hope that, in whatever restructuring follows the bankruptcy filing, that Borders will try to rediscover its roots. My wish is that Borders will run stores where the people who work there know about books. I dunno what to think about the e-reader business. I don’t think books will go away but I also think that e-readers are the future. So I think they should pursue that technology. Very shrewdly.

Whew! Taking off my Neighborhood Activist hat with great relief.

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

The postcard came about 10 days ago. Our neighborhood elementary school needs to increase the size of its parking lot by 50 spaces (50!) and they scheduled a presentation to show our neighborhood the plan and ask for input. (!?!) Although it *is* a mess over there at pickup and dropoff times, this is apparently also some kind of state requirement. Say what? This cranky old kayak woman thinks that kids should walk to school. I know that’s an impossibility in a lot of cases and that buses are here to stay. But yaknow, when my kids were over at Haisley, there were kids who were regularly driven to school from a block or two away. And they drive fast down Duncan Street, where the entrance to the school is. Once my friend Vicki’s cat got hit and lost a leg. I drove the “ambulance” that day. What a mess and it is a mess.

Well, okay. They are going to increase the size of the parking lot. I live on the *other* side of the school from the parking lot. My kids could walk to elementary school without crossing a street. We bought this house, in part, because they (our as yet unborn children) could do that. And there is a beautiful little woods behind my house. That woods closed the deal for me. As I perused the postcard, I remembered a former Haisley dictator principal and her plan for dealing with the traffic problem. She wanted to turn our little entrance to the school, which is now a sidewalk between the two sections of the woods, into a ROAD!

That dictator principal has been gone for many years now but I have a long memory and I was hoping against hope that they hadn’t resurrected that. I knew that I had to go to this presentation but I reeeeeeeally wanted to bag it this afternoon. I could claim that it was because of my busy day at work and the need to cook dinner, yada yada yada. In truth, it was my social anxiety that gave me pause. Who would be there? What would the format be like? Would I manage to stick my foot in my mouth? Probably…

In the end, I talked myself down off that ledge. I kept my biz-caz stuff on and accessorized it with my trademark KW polartech socks and sandals. Appearances aren’t supposed to matter but they do. Or not… I slithered along over glare ice to the backside of the school and around to the front door. I am such a ninny that I actually walked *past* the door before steeling myself to actually enter the school. I mean, what’s to be nervous about here. I walked in and outta that school a gazillion times in the nine years I was a parent there.

I forced myself to plod along the hallway to the new “multi-purpose room”, thinking, “they are gonna hear me clod-hopping along this hallway.” Well. Guess what? there were like five (count ’em) people in the room. I called out (where the heck did my social anxiety go?), “Boy, there are a lot of people here!” They laughed and then I started to recognize some of them. As neighbors, don’tcha know… I stammered out my story about the former principal and they and the designs that were presented reassured me that the school district is not going to destroy my woods. And we all reminisced about the days when *everybody* walked to school. Buses were only for the “country kids”. Update! I really wasn’t clear here. They are NOT going to build a new entrance. Only expand the existing parking lot.

I reeeeeeally didn’t want to have to put on my Neighborhood Activist hat. I am not good at that kind of stuff. Unless I can STAY in the background, organizing address lists and other data and writing things. Oh, and I actually got along with that old dictator principal pretty well (but that’d be a whole ‘nother blahg entry).

Happy Valintimes Day frum meeeeee, yer fav-o-rite froog! Grok grok grok!

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Grok grokgork frogidk! It’s Valintimes Day!!! It’s Valintimes Day!!! Grokgork! Ol’ Baggy is a Valintimes Day Scroooooge. She hands out icky stuff like chocklit cuvvered spinnich. She is laffin’ her yoo-no-whut off rite now becuz stoopid ol’ Barbeeee left stoopid ol’ Ken fer a cyoot Aussy ‘n’ then stoopid ol’ Ken got ‘er bak agin sumhow. Ol’ Baggy thinks stoopid ol’ Barbeeee wud beeee better off with th’ cyoot Aussy. Er maybeeee withOUT th’ cyoot Aussy. And without Ken…

Enyway, yer fav-o-rite froog haz tookin over Ol’ Baggy’s crumbly ol’ ‘puter. She didn’ even fuss about it much this time, I gess she’s usin’ that stoopid ol’ iPad. So, click on my li’l thermommyter down thare ifya wanna heer my beeyootyful voice wishin’ yoo a happy Valintimes Day. Grok gork gork grok! Oh, ‘n’ that’s meeeee ‘n’ my fave Greeeeen Guy thare in th’ photooo. Weeee are warin’ sekint heds o’ hare ‘n’ I hav my babushka on ‘n’ Greeeeen Guy is in his Santy Claus soot as usual. ‘n’ weeee are not drunk! Ol’ Baggy ‘n’ her cuzzint Uber Kayak Woman set that pitcher up. Thaaaaay wer th’ ones drinkin’ the B&B! Grok grok gork!

Stepping Out

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

To the aut Bar, for a nice early afternoon Sunday brrrrunch. Complete with a mimosa for Mouse and a bloody mary for meeeeee! (Are you supposed to capitalize drink names?) I was a first-timer at this particular bar/restaurant today. I’m starting to come full circle when it comes to restaurants. We used to eat out a lot when we first lived here, especially during the B. K. era when I was working 40 hours a week and the GG was working 60, 70, or 80 hours a week over at Chrysler Defense. I guess enough years have passed (32?) that I can post that. We ate at all kinds of restaurants in those days. We would walk downtown or head over to Megalopolis. Oh, and our fave Knight’s wasn’t around back then, there was a restaurant there but it was called Annie’s Dugout. Our fave go-to place back then was Mountain Jack’s! Especially when Grandroobly was down here to visit because they had a loverly gunfighter decor. And Grandroobly’s name happened to be Jack.

We didn’t stop eating out after the beach urchins came along. Actually, when there was only one beach urchin, it was pretty easy to go out. We went to Mountain Jack’s for my 31st birthday. Our three month old baby fell asleep as soon as we got there and she slept on the booth seat beside me until we were finished. As we bundled her up before venturing back out into the snow, the people across from us oohed and aahed. “We didn’t know you had a baby with you!” “Oh, she is really cute!” “She’s so small, is she a preemie?” (No. She wasn’t a preemie. My children were both ultra-healthy six-pounders.)

We didn’t stop eating out even when the beach urchins went through the seemingly interminable Picky Eater Stage. Yes. Anyone remember that? “My kids are never gonna be picky eaters. I will cook healthy stuff and they will eat it and they will always behave perfectly in restaurants.” Roight. My personal grail was that I would NEVER serve that fluorescent orange Kraft macaroni and cheese. I didn’t even like that stuff when *I* was a kid. Guess what I learned to cook and served about a billion times? Our restaurant habits during that stage were pretty darn boring. Breakfast and any place that served “kid” grilled cheese were okay. Exotic food? Not.

Nowadays… I love to cook from scratch. I am halfway good at it although there are times when I get distracted… That’d be a whole ‘nother blahg entry. A funny thing happened along the way. The Beach Urchins have both learned to cook and formed their own opinions about food. They are now quite adventurous and are also very conscious about cooking healthy foods. More so than me! Although I’m sure they have their french fry-type moments.

So now, I am re-discovering Planet Ann Arbor restaurants slowly but surely with the help of my Mouse. The aut Bar did not disappoint me. Wonderful food, ultra-friendly staff. “Would you like another drink?” Er no thanks, I have to drive home. And could we have boxes for the food we couldn’t eat?

The ambient temperature on The Planet Ann Arbor reached 40 (F) above today. I cannot tell you how good it felt to remove a layer or two.

Mt. Slushmore

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

If y’all are looking for beauteous photoooos today, you can try your luck somewhere else ’cause about all yer gonna get here is iPhone photoooos of the Slushmore Mountain Range.

Yes. It is getting to be “that” time of winter. They are running out of places to put snow (even though we really haven’t had that much snow), so they are apparently piling some of it up in Vet’s Park. This is kind of what Sault Ste. Siberia looks like at this time of year most winters, when they really do run out of places to put snow and so they shovel snow into dumptrucks and, well, dump it elsewhere. I am not quite sure why there is this mountain range in Vet’s Park but whatever.

If you can let your imagination take over, the mountain in the photooo above looks a bit like the Matterhorn, which I looked up today because it was the answer to a clue in the NYT xword. Or maybe I’m on crack, as the LSCHP likes to say.

I actually think that the last photooo is rather beauteous in its own way. I could not see my iPhone screen when I took it, which makes it even more beauteous. Point and shoot takes on a whole new meaning. But I love the sun rays and there’s the old Vet’s Park sledding hill off in the distance.

I took these photooos during a wondrous little mini-hike over to the Westgate shopping center. I had a loverly time navigating my way over there on foot. I mean that. I am hale and hearty and it isn’t hard for me to traverse the snowbanks between the sidewalk and the street at every intersection. I was on my own little mini-adventure so this was fun. But. Man oh man, if I were a nonamoose and did not have a drivers license, I would’ve been housebound today. Take the bus, you say? Well. How do you take the bus if, after navigating the randomly cleared sidewalks throughout the neighborhood to the bus stop, you have to climb a snowbank to get on to the damn bus?

I think there is a long diatribe about all of this somewhere inside me but I’m not gonna bore you with it tonight.

Good night,
Kayak Woman

Where I am not and Stormy Kromer and democracy

Friday, February 11th, 2011

I am here on the slodgy old Planet Ann Arbor. I can’t remember when the GG took that photoooo of meeeee driving across the Big Mac. Sometime last fall though ’cause that’s when I bought that loverly blue polartech jacket. The GG is up in the Yooperland with The Commander and the North Country Trail folks. We are in kind of different stages of life at this point. As a career government computer scientist (or whatever he calls himself these days), he gets about a billion vacation days a year. He can potentially “retire” in a few years and sometimes I think he is practicing up for it now. Me? I am nowhere near any kind of retirement, knock on wood that my company/industry remains stable enough that there aren’t layoffs or whatever. Nothing in life is a sure bet. But, as you are sick of hearing, I love my job and hope it stays around a few years. So he is up there checking up on various octo-folk and nona-mooses and I am happy about that because winter can get to be pretty dern long for those folks (and the rest of us too).

Barack Obama has a Stormy Kromer hat! How many of y’all Stormy Kromer wanna-bees out there knew that? Huh? The GG prob’ly has five Stormy Kromer hats now. There’s a red/black check and a couple of shades of tan and I fergit what else. And he has a vest too. I think he had some idea that an Ida Kromer hat would be a good Christmas gift for yer favo-rite blahgger. Thankfully, I squelched that idea rather firmly. I am not interested in looking like Elmer Fudd’s wife. I look ridiculous enough in my beeyootyful bomber hat, black with silver hologram sequins. Although people are always telling me what a cool hat it is. I have to credit Dogmomster, who doesn’t post on her blahg anywhere near often enough, for this paragraph. She posted this NPR story on Facebook. I sorta heard it on my way to work this morning but totally missed the bit about the SK hat and the *history* of the term “Michigander”. Abraham Lincoln? Did I get that right? Okay, I am a Michigander for sure!

Egypt. Okay. This morning, somebody tweeted that Mubarak had stepped down. I know that a lot of folks are dancing in the streets about this. I believe that democracy, with all of its flaws, is an optimal method of government. I certainly have a good life here in our democratic system. I don’t have to pander to some authority figure [arguably, think TSA patdowns]. We have lots of folks in our wonderful country who do not have good, relatively easy lives like mine (knock on wood big time) but I think all of our lives would be worse under a dictator. I am glad that the Egyptian people have managed to get their dictator to step down. I also think that those people have a long road ahead and probably many bumps along that road to whatever new government they choose. Any excitement that I have is tempered with the idea that Eqyptians are now (if I have this right) under military rule. I hope that turns out okay…

It’s a hole in the wall but the food is really good.

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

The Groke came through overnight and froze everything she touched solid. So I bagged my walk. Really, it was only a few degrees below zero, according to my chitchen thermometer. I can easily dress for those temperatures unless the wind is blowing a gale but I bagged it anyway. The technical reasons are long, boring, and complicated. The psychological reason? Ennnhhh… And I didn’t want to wear my snowpants.

I have spent a *lot* of time with the long-suffering cat-herding person this week. We are in an intense design phase at the moment and he is The Man when it comes to ux design for our product. This week is in sharp contrast to the period of time last summer when he took a week off and then I took a week off and then he was missing in action the Monday I got back to work and, when he finally did get back into work, I walked by his office and asked, “Remember me?” and got the response, “No, what’s your name?” I love working for the LSCHP but I am exhausted this week. In a good way. But we have one more day to go… (No, he doesn’t read this blahg. This blahg would be waaaaay too boring for him. He puts up with enough blather from me at work…)

The scene in the photoooo is the aftermath of an overconfident young man who apparently thought that, since we have not had any new snow in something like five days, the streets are all clear and dry. Just like summer. Not so much. The freeway and the major streets are dry and almost all the side streets have been plowed. They aren’t slippery except when they are. There is still quite a bit of ice around on some of the side streets, including mine, as you maaayyy be able to see in the photoooo. I hate all car accidents but this is the kind that I can almost kind of sort of laugh about. I don’t know what he did. The car is empty in the photo but when I was driving up the street toward home, he was still in the driver’s seat with a cell phone to his ear. Calling dad or more likely mom, no doubt. I am glad he wasn’t hurt. The rental house fire fatalities in our neighborhood have been almost too much for me. I can’t imagine losing a 20-year-old child. That would be 20 years of my life that I would have to somehow… try to… re-define.. I am not sure if I could do that. I am glad that this kid wasn’t hurt and I am glad he wasn’t coming around the corner when I was driving up the street. With any luck, he has learned to slow down.

One of the cats says to the other…

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

I have started to write this entry about three times and haven’t been able to get any traction. Lots of topics floating around in my head but can’t come up with anything coherent. Y’all are saying something like, “when are you ever coherent?” So, random stuff…

I am behind on the New Yorker. I am frequently behind on the New Yorker but that’s a long, boring story. I am currently (and randomly) reading the January 24th issue and it is pretty surreal to read all about AOL and its CEO and his ideas and strategies for the future of AOL in an article where the Huffington Post is given only a fleeting mention as another news-type site.

The Huffpo is one of 8-10 news apps I have downloaded to my iPhone[/iPad] since a few months ago when I admitted publicly on this here blahg that I was woefully unprepared to vote in the 2010 mid-term election and vowed to start paying more attention to current events. Among the others is the NYT and USA Today and the Ann Arbor Chronicle and Fox. Okay. Have I turned myself into a news junkie? Not really. Sigh. (Actually, the Ann Arbor Chronicle is not an app, it’s a local news blog.)

At about the same time as all of that, I think I also vowed to study/explore/whatever our country’s constitution. Have I done that? Well, I do have the iPhone app. I think I have opened it up a few times. I read an interesting article from somewhere in my stack of New Yorkers about the constitution that may (or may not) color my own reading of it. If I ever get a round tuit. Sigh.

And then. I am not sure how I got to *this* particular point in my life but I started thinking that I haven’t ever really read the, uh, Bible. I mean, there is some stuff that I remember from Sunday School and I once [tried to] read through the beautiful little New Testament that Grandaddy and Bolette brought me from Jerusalem (er, not that they were religious ’cause they really weren’t). This little book is gorgeous with carved wooden covers and gilded pages and beautiful pictures here and there. I have always treasured it. In a way, I probably know more than I think I know, but in another way, I know jack-doodly. Well, what the heck? There must be a bible app, roight? And yes there are, and, kee-reist, I cannot figger out which one to download. Anyone have any experience with this? I am sure I will spend *all* of my time reading the bible if I can get it on my phone. Roight. Just like the constitution. (Er, there is apparently a confession app for all my Catholic friends.)

Now… If somebody would please, please, please develop an apparation app so, when I am struggling to tell The Commander how to do something with her iPhone, I can just pop up to the Yooperland and fix it for her, have a leetle wee glass o’ whine with her, and pop back down here to The Planet Ann Arbor.

Onward and upward(?),
Kayak Woman