Tuesday, August 28, 2007

krazy kats, storms, bingo, and birthday cake

Man oh man time is flying by fast. A week and a half just zoomed by. But at least I finally feel like I’m catching up on all the sleep I missed this summer.

Meant to blog more. And take a lot of photos. But we’ve only been to the beach a couple of times as the weather has been crappy a lot of the time. Well, crappy for the beach, at any rate. It’s been overcast much of the past ten days, particularly the week Leo and Ben were here. Stanley, Leo, Ben, and I headed for the beach one day last week despite the threatening weather because Ginger was desperate to go. It started to rain as we drove to Three Mile Beach and as soon as we hit the boardwalk (a new feature—a boardwalk to nowhere) it started pouring. Cold rain. So we gave it up.

The cats are enjoying themselves immensely. Twitch and Einstein are colluding on the best ways to escape the house and what to do once outside, which lately is make their humans chase them around the house (around the outside of the house, that is). Preferably in the dark. Slink just loves to run around on the screened-in porch and check out the bugs and the birds and sometimes the skunk and the raccoons. He doesn’t try to get out—he’s still afraid of the world. Which is fine by us. Last year, Einstein jumped all over Ginger. This year, Einstein turns into Yoda when she spots the dog (who just wants to play). I’ve never seen a cat’s ears held quite like that—I think she thinks she’s invisible if her ears are sticking out and down. I’m trying to get a photo of her in full “I hate the dog” mode.

We’ve been donating to the various charities, civic groups, and church auxiliary groups—almost every night. Mom and Dad have been winning at lot more than we have—mostly it’s been the usual bingo madness of waiting for just one number for the big payoff and, of course, not getting it. So far, I’ve won back maybe 25% of what I’ve spent. What’s nice this year is that there are more and more bingo halls that ban smoking. It’s amazing how many more people seem to smoke around here than back in Norwalk.

Mom’s birthday was Saturday, August 25. So we took her for dinner at Churchill Pointe Inn on Hubbard Lake, a great restaurant. Hubbard Lake is one of the prettier lakes in Michigan, I think and the restaurant at the Inn has huge windows overlooking the lake. The Inn is a bed and breakfast and maybe some day we’ll spend a night there “just because.” Here are some photos from the restaurant (click them to enlarge them):

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Kelly, Dad, and Mom, waiting for the dessert menu.

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Leo and Kelly, with Leo showing off his most charming smile ...

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Ben enjoyed his prime rib but didn’t order dessert! He was a great host.

Stanley’s been walking with Dad every morning except yesterday—both he and Dad managed to catch a cold or something and it was rainy looking and he just decided to sleep. Stanley has a really sore throat and is afraid it might be strep, so we need to find a clinic or doctor to get it checked out on Thursday unless he wakes up feeling a lot better. He’s really pissed off about getting sick on his long-awaited vacation. I hope he does feel better in the morning.

There’s been a couple of thunderstorms, which Ginger hasn’t liked. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be sunny, so I hope we can get a couple of beach hours in—just to stretch out in the sun and finish the novel I’m reading and watch the dog chase the ball through the waves. Stanley needs some sun hours too. It’s supposed to be nice out until Labor Day, so I’m sure we’ll get lots of beach time in.

This weekend should be fun as Jamie, Kris, and Scott are planning on coming up. It will be great to catch up with them. Next week, Mom goes for a PET scan in Ann Arbor, so we’ll go down with her for that. I am managing to get some work done. Not as much as I wanted to because I’m just not there yet, but I will be. Probably tomorrow. I would love to extend our vacation another week, but Stanley has an echocardiogram scheduled for the day we’re due back, so we really can’t. I just really like spending time with Mom and Dad—I wish we didn’t live so far away.

posted by lee on 08/28/07 at 08:59 PM

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

we’re finally in oHIo

We finally got out the door at 1:00. We would’ve left about 40 minutes earlier, but Slink decided to play hide-and-seek in the crawl spaces in the cellar. Ben and I could hear Stanley’s curses as the damn cat kept slipping out of his grasp. We tried very hard not to laugh.

Not too bad a trip—only one bad patch of traffic where a tractor trailer jackknifed, probably due to slippery roads due to the rain. Oh, yeah, it rained. Most of it was just annoying rain, but there were many miles where it came down hard and Stanley was very tense. But we made it to the Comfort Inn in Warren, Ohio, which has become our traditional stopping place now. There’s a sofa bed in the room for Ben, and our room, a different one than usually, still faces Courthouse Square.

It took us about 7.5 hours to get from Norwalk to Warren. We’re listening to the new Harry Potter, and are up to disk five or six. Slink settled on Ben’s feet, sort of under Stanley’s seat, and stayed either there or on the seat next to Ben for the trip. Twitch sat with Ben—and Ben even got Twitch’s traditional starting gift of regurgitated cat food. Ben handled it much better than I do.

Right now, Ginger is waiting to go out, and Slink is hiding under the bureau and Twitch is exploring—Twitch is one of the few cats I’ve traveled with that likes hotel rooms. Expands his little world, I think. Right now, he’s sitting in the window watching the traffic and rain—though there’s not much traffic.

Stanley, is, I think, in Dreamland. Ben is reading. And USA is out on the cable here, so we can’t watch this week’s 4400—bummer. But it’s so nice to be heading to see Mom and Dad!

posted by lee on 08/19/07 at 06:39 PM

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Friday, August 17, 2007

what’s sad is this really cracked me up

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So did all of the other cartoons by Rob Cottingham on Social Signal. Yes, I definitely need some vertical time on a silica, quartz, and mica surface.

posted by lee on 08/17/07 at 10:02 AM

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i don’t know why i am so shocked

Had some problems with PayPal, which doesn’t seem to be nearly as secure as its customer service people want us to believe. But that’s not what shocked me. It’s just two days before we leave for Michigan—two days! But time flying by isn’t what shocked me.

Nope, what shocked me was a conversation with an 18-year-old girl. Funny how I assumed her generation just had pretty much the same morals and ethics as mine (I know, I’m on the cusp of old fartdom). All the articles I’d read about how somehow it’s ok for kids to cheat in school today because if they don’t, they might not get ahead coupled with attitudes toward music and movie piracy didn’t really clue me in that there’s been a sea change in, what to call it ... the morality of the generation coming into adulthood during the last 10 or 12 years or so and now compared with the morality of my generation (let alone my parents’ generation).

I’m not so much talking about morality of things like sex—Americans are entirely too stupid about sex, I think—although little girls dressing like two-bit Lolitas and wearing scraps of clothing as they trudge through snowbanks bothers me. (I like to think we weren’t so senseless, my generation—then I think about my micro-mini Nehru dress, elephant bottoms, and the platform shoes I fell off of and sprained my ankle ... )

It’s more about the morals and courtesies that keep society functioning. The 18-year-old told me her friends (not her, oh no ... ) regularly steal things such as eye liner from Sephora—you know, the $70 stuff. Nothing wrong with that, says she, though she wouldn’t admit that she also does it (if she does), correctly reading the shock and dismay on our faces. The reason there’s nothing wrong with it? Well, she said, the stuff is too expensive to begin with. And if the company’s security measures suck, tough for them. Oh, and they’re big corporations, so they don’t need all that money, they have enough. It’s not even a game or klepto stuff—it’s a norm: there’s nothing wrong with stealing, even if it’s something you don’t even remotely need. Stanley mentioned that it’s the leap made from stealing music on the internet.

After listening to us try to convince her otherwise, she gave an example of how unjust our society is, a hypothetical. A rich guy is driving down the street in his expensive car. A not-rich woman is behind him in, presumably, her shitbox car. She looks down to adjust her iPod and plows into the rear end of the rich guy’s car. She ends up never getting ahead in life because she has to spend the next ten or twenty years of her life paying for the damage she caused to the rich guy’s car. So that, 18YOG says, is unjust. I didn’t even ask what a poor person is doing with an iPod. It was pointed out to her that driving without insurance is illegal—and of course it’s fair—the hypothetical woman caused the problem so it’s up to her to rectify what she did, first by driving without insurance and then driving carelessly. We tried to point out to 18YOG that society has this set of rules, for the most part codified, that make it possible for a society to function ...

She was having none of it. The woman was “poor” and therefore should be exempt for having to pay the consequences for her bad behavior. I asked 18YOG, who recently received a gorgeous Mac laptop as a graduation present, if it’s ok that someone steals her Mac and suffers no consequences because that person is poor? Well no, because she’s not a corporation, but an individual. Or something like that.

I don’t know. What I keep seeing is an overwhelming focus on self. Lip service only to the poor and those in need, for the most part (that, in all honesty, I think is the nature of “teendom”—which seems to last about 20 years in this country). A huge sense of entitlement—entitlement to respect and attention that hasn’t been earned. No ability to just shut up and listen (at least us old farts knew when to just shut up, for the most part, especially when we were trying to get something, like the keys to the car.) Like we have to tell them that their painting is great when it’s not, or the song sounds great when it doesn’t—politeness doesn’t work any more, you must praise no matter what the product is. And a disquieting lack of passion—few voters, few marchers, few environmentalists—it’s all too hard and might, just might, be a little uncomfortable. Mouth, but no follow-through—look at voter turnout on colleges campuses, especially in Ohio, where it would’ve made a difference.

Yes, I’m generalizing. And yes, I’m talking about middle class and plus kids (our future leaders?) since I don’t know poor kids any more since I stopped teaching.

What’s it going to be like in 10 or 15 years when their morals are the rules of the road?

I do know I will never, ever open a retail store—not unless I sell stuff for gummers that won’t even remotely interest the gimmenow generation (like books?) I did suggest to 18YOG that maybe she should take an ethics class or intro to philosophy during her first semester instead of beginning German. Yeah right.

posted by lee on 08/17/07 at 12:17 AM

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

plastic brain

It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. Dew point of 75 degrees or something equally surreal.

Yesterday, Stanley got a doppler sonogram or something like that to make sure the blood flow in his left leg is ok. Looked fine to me, but what do I know. He sees Dr. Gagne on Thursday morning to see what he says.

And today we hired a new cardiologist: Dr. Mitchell Driesman of Cardiac Specialists. Stanley and I both remembered him from both stays in Bridgeport Hospital and we both felt very comfortable with him (and with the other doctors from this practice he saw), so it was natural to check him out first. He had to make sure it was ok with Dr. Lomnitz since, apparently, this practice covers for Lomnitz’s practice (Cardiology Associates of Fairfield, which doesn’t have privileges at Bridgeport Hospital) and it wouldn’t be ethical of him to poach patients—so, with our permission, he called Dr. L, who said that we should go with whomever we’re comfortable with. Nice that it’s all on the up and up. We had no idea of the protocol—we just thought they worked with Dr. Robinson.

We would’ve gone to the next person on our list if it hadn’t worked out, though we would’ve been disappointed. Dr. Driesman is also certified in internal medicine, which is what we wanted, someone with a system approach.

So we’re happy about this. Blood tests tomorrow and an echo when we get back from Michigan and another visit with Dr. D. on September 27 for follow up.

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It was hard to work today—I haven’t been able to sleep much (heat, stress, the man next to me spinning around) and the heat just sucked every bit of energy out of me. I feel like my brain is like one of those clocks in Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory.” It’s supposed to be less humid tomorrow so I think I’ll be able to get more done because I will be able to think. We leave for Michigan in just ten days—gotta get stuff done ... gotta hang on until we leave ... I like what I’m working on a lot, so that helps, two stores, two new sites, and an add-on for an existing site are the main projects. Ten days!

posted by lee on 08/08/07 at 08:59 PM

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

congressional wusses and einstein’s latest

It’s hard form me to fathom the near-complete lack of backbone the Congress is exhibiting. Bush says, “Bend over and spread ‘em.” and they do. Sixteen Democratic Senators voted to give the prez more power and less oversite to spy on people in the US they think might maybe might possibly be one o’ them teerrists ... justifying their vote that it’s only for six months. I was surprised at the list of Senators kissing Bushie ass: Evan Bayh (Indiana); Tom Carper (Delaware); Bob Casey (Pennsylvania); Kent Conrad (North Dakota); Dianne Feinstein (California); Daniel Inouye (Hawaii); Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota); Mary Landrieu (Louisiana); Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas); Claire McCaskill (Missouri); Barbara Mikulski (Maryland); Bill Nelson (Florida); Ben Nelson (Nebraska); Mark Pryor (Arkansas); Ken Salazar (Colorado); and Jim Webb (Virginia).

Now the Dem reps have passed the bill so they can scurry on home for vacation (like those legislators in Iraq) without having to look weak on terrorism.

No, they don’t look weak on terrorism. Just weak. What happened to the men and women we sent to Washington to kick ass and take names?

It’s time for term limitations. Two terms, period. Congressional office should not be a career—our country’s founders never meant it to be.

Anyway, I need to change the subject before the stress hormones start triggering some more psoriasis patches. Dad sent the monthly photo of Einstein (click the image to enlarge it)—he titled this one “The Great Escape,” one of three escapes today, he said. How? “She’s really slick, she comes out of nowhere.”

Einstein the cat at 13 months, August 5, 2007

Just two weeks until we leave for Michigan! We ordered a crate for the cats from http://www.dog.com along with a cushion for the cats and one for Ginger. We never had to use a crate for Twitch, but we have a hunch Slink won’t be such a good traveler. It’s one of those foldable crates so we’ll give it a whirl and only use it if we have to.

See, just thinking about seeing Mom and Dad and Three Mile Beach has calmed me down.

The grass crunches, Dad said. He said it’s been so long since they’ve had rain he can’t remember when it was. I asked him about the forest fire in the Upper Peninsula, near Newberry—it’s a part of the UP that we love. He said there was a forest fire at Sand Lake not too long ago, which is just 30 miles south of Oscoda. He said you could see the smoke. My parents’ house is about a thousand feet from the Huron National Forest, so thoughts of forest fires in Michigan are worrisome. Hope it rains there, and rains a lot.

posted by lee on 08/05/07 at 11:46 AM

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

i heart guest

A geek fantasy brought to life by Christopher Guest. Look for the jockey.

posted by lee on 08/01/07 at 10:27 AM

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