Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Make your own Simpsons character

Does this look like Gary at all?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Kyoho Grapes

At the Laguna Niguel Farmer's Market this morning I came across some amazing grapes. They apparently have a really short season of availability so I have every intention of going back next week (though I'm there every weekend anyway) to get more. If you haven't had these, do yourself a favor and look for them in CA in the peak of summer (July/August).

Plumb tuckered out

When I purchased my home in February of 2002 it did not dawn on me that I would end up learning plumbing. Yes, as with any homeowner I did consider that repairs would be necessary and that I'd learn on-the-fly. I have a book that my Mother gave me called "Complete Do-It-Yourself" from Time Life books. And it is pretty handy for getting an idea of what's going on with household appliances, plumbing and electric. But mostly you learn from doing hands-on.

So big deal, Gary. You've fixed a few valves and such. You're no master plumber. Perhaps not. But I have taken on the following projects in my house, which, having been built in 1987, is now 20 years old and has required nearly all it's valves and hoses replaced.
  1. Replaced nozzle on the gas line to the gas dryer (it was sticking 3 inches out of the wall when I moved in)
  2. Replaced the valves on both the hot and cold water lines to the washer/dryer
  3. Replaced refrigerator water line
  4. Installed new kitchen faucet with extension handle
  5. Installed two new low-flush toilets in 2 of the 3 bathrooms
  6. Replaced all 3 bathrooms' toilet water lines and all toilet valves
  7. Replaced the entire inside of the 3rd toilet (which in retrospect I should have just changed out!)
  8. Removed corrosion from master bath faucet
  9. Replaced soap dish in the wall of the shower (note to self: tiling & grout is a bitch but cement is worse)
  10. Installed new dishwasher (yes, this is a project that even plumbers cringe at doing and for some reason I decided I would try this one night in 2004.
In addition to that I had a plumber replace the main water line valve (not something you'd want to do-it-yourself). So at this point I'm pretty much ready to commit to a few hasty generalizations:
  • Plumbing made in the 80's was cheap as an Indian flea market
  • Having now replaced every other piece of plumbing in the house the next item to "go" will be either the water lines/valves to the bathroom sinks (which have the same valves I already replaced in the corresponding toilets, see #6 above) or a burst copper pipe which I shall not be repairing myself
  • Plumbing 'issues' come in groups (a valve upstairs, a hose in the garage, a tap in the backyard all within 3 weeks of each other)
  • Plumbing 'issues' should be tackled in groups -- I know it's a pain in the ass to replace ALL the valves if you have 4 toilets but otherwise you'll end up at Home Depot every weekend for a month. I'd rather spend the extra hour now and save the aggravation later.
The good is that I have learned a great deal about plumbing. The most important thing is that none of the above activities were overly difficult. Really they are quite simple if you have a few basic plumbing tools (a good wrench is key), a little time and a Home Depot within 5 minutes drive.

The bad is that I'm tired of plumbing. I'm a lover not a fighter says Paul McCartney.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Them's Fightin' Words

All my friends know how to fight. Well, most of them anyway. I'm not talking about Ultimate Fighting Championship style or a bar-fight. I'm talking about verbal sparing. I know a lot of folks who have been through a relationship ringer at my age. On standardized forms I check the box that says "Divorced". That ain't changing. And with that status comes a oh-so-special experience that taught me a lesson in life. All these acquaintances I'm talking about share this experience. Call it an exclusive social club that nobody would willingly want to be a part of.

The elite of the fighting regime come in all shapes and sizes. Divorced. Unmarried with kids. Estranged from a long-time lover. In and out of relationships that work for 6 months and then fizzle. Down and out on dating. I know a whole slew of them. We could write a book just about online dating stories, bad dates and fine sexual encounters.

There are a lot of stories out there from a lot of once-unhappy folks. The good news is that a majority of them are happy now. It usually only takes one slap in the face to learn that a slap in the face kinda hurts. I socialize with quite a few slapees. It's not that I don't have friends happily married. Au contraire! I even have close family who are happily married and re-married. With and without kids. It's just that I've heard a lot of the stories from both sides of the aisle. And the people I know who have been through these experiences... the ones who really got a good fistful of pain the first time around in what they thought was love, well, they have special skills that others do not possess. I'd go so far as they possess a certain... je ne sais quois.

Broken love will make you a virtual ninja of argumentative dialectic. Try it some time. Or better yet, don't. It won't help you be a better person. Analytical, hypocritical, diabolical; we all find our best of the worst traits. We all know the pushing points, the buttons, the fightin' words that pick the very best scabs off of an innocent person. And like a CIA agent who is trained to kill, it's a skill you never ever want to use. A skill we elite trainees try our best to keep under covers never to be revealed except in times of emergency.

So on this cool and calm Saturday night in mid-August here's a toast to reserving the fighting skill for another world. This world is filled enough with wars and hate and venomous politics. Lets all strive for a little more brotherly love and a little less emotional turmoil. A little more gratitude and a little less regret. We'll all sleep a little better and maybe those fighting skills will dull with time, patience and a big dose of understanding.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Criss Cross

Oh how our paths criss-cross

this morning I drove in a daze
neath skies of gray haze
til I became present, and how!
there's only now.
and I gazed 'pon the clouds forming
the most pleasant pattern swarming
and the universe was so obviously smiling.

it smiles on me irregardless of you
it smiles on you irregardless of me
and oh how our paths criss-cross

this evening I see how serious it was
so we labored for our higher cause
for you all became forbidden
for me solutions were hidden.
The laughter of our friendship buried
under months (years?) of burdensome worry
'til formed a storm what should've been flurry.

we weren't living now
but rather thinking how
and oh how our paths criss-cross

What a pair we were us lovers
what luscious touch lay under covers
and it stays smothered, time eternal
but oh how our paths still criss-cross.