Oahu Edition

I got a message on my voice mail from my sister E. today. Actually, she sent it last night but I didn’t see it until this morning when I had no time to check it, and then I completely forgot about it until just a few hours ago.

E. is a public school teacher in Hawaii. She’s beginning her second year there, and will shortly be moving to a new apartment with two new roomates, one of whom is our cousin M. who recently graduated college and accepted a position at a school very close — honestly, for all I know they’ll be working at the same school — to where my sister works.

When my sister first moved to Hawaii she bought a cheap Hyundai from a Marine who was being transfered to the mainland. She’d wanted to ship her Toyota over, but that was, uh, expensive. Plus she was renting an entire place by herself — right on the beach — and the cost of living on Hawaii is fairly … expensive. And that makes sense, considering just about everything has to be imported to the island. Unless you’re willing to subsist on a diet of pineapples and sugar, and live in a Volcano vent, I mean, let’s face it, you’re going to be shelling out major green just to get by.

Anyway, my sister hated the Hyundai. Hated it. So she started talking about buying a new car, and we had a short discussion when she was over here a few weeks ago. She wanted a small Toyota SUV, maybe. See, she’d tried to buy a Volkswagen Jetta, but the incompotent and possibly thieving salespeople at the dealership didn’t have the proper paperwork for the car (the papers were still on the mainland), and they kept telling her, “Come back tomorrow…” and then eventually “Come back next week…” (I’m not entirely certain how accurate this account is as I heard it several different ways from several different folks) So my sister went to an employee of the school system for help — I think he’s a teacher, but on the side he works to help new employees from the mainland adjust to life on the islands. Anyway, he went in to the dealership, kicked some ass, and the Hyundai was returned, the paperwork voided out, and many apologies handed down.

So, the message I got went something like this, “Hey, I’m at the dealership now … I’m looking at a 2001 Jeep Wrangler …” she then started listing the specifications of it, but I have to admit, I sort of went into shock and my brain screamed NOT FAIR!!!!!

Actually, I was kind of excited, because she was calling me for advice and I rarely get to act in my Big Brother role.

Talking to her on the phone I learned she passed on the Jeep. The payments would be too high, and although her rent would decrease when she moved, she wanted to pay down her credit cards. “We know how our family is with them,” she pointed out. Smacked down by my own sister! The little … She also mentioned something Dad had told her, “You can’t buy a Jeep! Jeff’ll kill you!”

No I wouldn’t.

On the other hand, it would probably motivate me to go out and visit her on the island.

(E. has long talked about moving off of Hawaii – she doesn’t really like it – and moving to another state. She’s mentioned Oregon and Colorado in the past. Tonight she told me she might move back to Maryland at the end of next year, which means she might be his new coworker).

souter, delay, and boxers

The story of a private developer looking to use the recent Supreme Court ruling to take Justice Souter’s land away from him has raced across the blogosphere. Quite correctly, there’s a lot of anger about this court ruling, and its well deserved.

Right Thinking’s Lee writes,

I’d love to see it happen, but I’m not going to count on it. Though I can’t think of anything more appropriate, except to have his land stolen so that a Wal-Mart Supercenter could be built in its place.

But as satisfying as it is to read about the proposed siezing of Souter’s land, the demolishment of his house, there is another aspect to consider. Remember when Tom Delay, following the Schiavo ruling, threatened judges? Although the judges followed the law, he threatened violent retaliation against them, and was soundly criticized for it … including by me. Boston’s Carpundit quotes Randy Barnett: “Retaliating against a judge for the good faith exercise of his duty is. . .a bad idea.” Carpundit also opinions,

…retaliating against a judge for construing a law is an especially odious kind of retaliation. Much worse than a mere retaliation for an official’s action, it is an attack on one of the key underpinnings of our society of laws: judicial review, the rule of law itself. Is it mugging Scalia? No. But it isn’t less wrong.

There is something the government could do, of course. They could pass a law saying something like, “Private land can only be seized for a neccessary public good.” I.E., a school or a highway. Of course, Congress would rather pass a law about how you shouldn’t wear boxers colored like the American flag.

the religious rights' anti-civil rights agenda dealt a powerful blow

Yet another country legalized civil rights for all of its citizens.

Parliament legalized gay marriage Thursday, defying conservatives and clergy who opposed making traditionally Roman Catholic Spain the third country to allow same-sex unions nationwide. Jubilant gay activists blew kisses to lawmakers after the vote.

The measure passed the 350-seat Congress of Deputies by a vote of 187-147. The bill, part of the ruling Socialists’ aggressive agenda for social reform, also lets gay couples adopt children and inherit each others’ property.

The bill is now law. The Senate, where conservatives hold the largest number of seats, rejected the bill last week. But it is an advisory body and final say on legislation rests with the Congress of Deputies.

Opposition conservatives said they will consider challenging the law before Spain’s highest tribunal, the Constitutional Court.

The Spanish Bishops Conference criticized the new law and urged resistance to it. The group said the bill, along with another passed Wednesday making it easier for Spaniards to divorce, mean that “marriage, understood as the union of a man and a woman, is no longer provided for in our laws.”

It is necessary to oppose these unfair laws through all legitimate means,” the bishops said, apparently alluding to a previous call for town hall officials who oppose gay marriage to refuse to preside at such ceremonies.

After the final tally was announced, gay and lesbian activists watching from the spectator section of the ornate chamber cried, cheered, hugged, waved to lawmakers and blew them kisses.

Several members of the conservative opposition Popular Party, which was vehemently opposed to the bill, shouted: “This is a disgrace.” Those in favor stood and clapped.

The Netherlands and Belgium are the only other two countries that allow gay marriage nationwide. Canada’s House of Commons passed legislation Tuesday that would legalize gay marriage; its Senate is expected to pass the bill into law by the end of July.

“We were not the first, but I am sure we will not be the last. After us will come many other countries, driven, ladies and gentlemen, by two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality,” he told the chamber.

I think the bishop who is quoted above — I bolded the line — needs to rexamine what “unfair” means. Isn’t it unfair to refuse to recognize a person’s basic human rights because of their sexual orientation? I think it is.

And in a day and age where the Texas governor says “to hell with non-straight citizens of my state!”, it’s refreshing to see an entire nation say, “Hey, this is your country, too.”

Andrew Sullivan has a related post — and is particularly damming of the Religious Rights’ anti-civil rights agenda,

In a while, many married Canadians or Spanish or Dutch or Brits may want to work or immigrate in the U.S. or have employers or universities over here eager for their skills and ability. But the immigration services won’t recognize their spouses. Are we soon to have a policy of family break-up in immigration policy? Or a de facto policy of refusing to let foreign gay couples immigrate? Or indeed married couples where one is, say, Spanish and one American, and only the American can live in the U.S.? The reputation of this country as a place of non-discrimination, already tarred by formal discrimination against foreigners with HIV, will inevitably suffer.

the heterosexual life partners

It never really seemed possible that it would happen. Yeah, there was talk — “No, really, we’re both moving”, but it was sort of like “Oh, someday Texas will fall into hell“, you just never expect it to actually happen, and when it does you’re left with this sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that you wish you’d gotten to know them better before the split, before the death, because now there’s nothing you can do — nothing at all, it’s over, all over, and nothing will ever be the same again.

Que sera, sera?

So, with the same fondness that is extended to other more-than-heterosexual-but-less-than-homosexual life partners, like these folks;

batman+robin.jpgkirkspock.jpgjay-as-bob.jpg

… I would like to extend my best wishes to Baltimore’s own David Brent and Chris Finch, Anonymous Coworker and KMart. You two are, to my mind, as inseperable as Boh and Natty.

… in a more somber note,

And since today marks the departure of several folks from the blogging scene — some for a short while, some for much longer — farewell to DaBrettman, Latter Chronicles of the Early Years and Sweetney. I think I can understand some of the frustration bloggers are feeling, particularly as a community of Baltimore Bloggers begins to form and relationships develop between bloggers which force said bloggers to censor themselves for fear of hurting others. This can especially be problematic for those who turned to blogging as a way to vent without hurting their friends and family — as they make new friends (and possible new family) through blogging — aren’t they defeating their purpose for blogging? Fool has a nice post about some of the frustrations I think most of us have experienced at some point since becoming a part of this community. This bit, I think, sums it up:

When I started A Fool’s Fate it was my intention to remain anonymous… at least on the internet. I choose to attend my first Blogger Happy Hour because I did not feel as though it would effect my anonymity. I didn’t know the people and having a beer with them every now and then wasn’t going to influence what I wrote about. However, things aren’t always as simple as you hope. There are people I once described as “bloggers” that I now describe as “friends.” To add wood to the fire, I am currently rooming with one blogger and I am in love with another.

So…as you can imagine… there are eggshells to mind when creating posts. When I can’t express the little frustrations and doubts that pop up in the course of every day life and all its massive bullshit then I end up writing about the very few other things that consume me like… oh… say… work. Then I start repeating myself. Then I start babbling. Then it becomes bad for all of us.

I have no one to blame but myself. But why should I blame myself? Great things have come out of this blog and the fact that I forfeited my anonymity to meet other bloggers. If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.

At a happy hour a few months ago, Seadragon asked me why I started blogging, and I told her the truth – I wanted to make money, and had dreams of running a popular political blog that I could sell ad-space on and become rich and famous. Clearly, that didn’t pan out. Instead, my social life has recovered from its previous existence of “DOA” and I’ve made many new friends. In other words, I’ve gotten far more out of blogging than I ever could have imagined possible.

I’ve never been an out going person. I’m shy and reclusive by nature. I’d generally rather stay home and watch TBS then go out and try to meet people. I credit the now-deceased Crablogs with helping to meet people who helped pull me out of my shell and maybe it’s just odd – being a mostly positive experience for me – that for other people it becomes seemingly the opposite.

To those who are leaving this digital community, I hope you find what you’re looking for, and I don’t think I’d be alone in saying that you’ll be missed.

UPDATE:

Perhaps influenced by Debrettman’s departure and Sweetney’s break-taking, I apparently misinterpreted this post by Green Eyed Pagan. I feel this was an honest mistake to make — the post is quite clear that GEP feels that her real personality isn’t coming across, and lists her frustrations with the Baltimore blog “scene.” In particular, the sentence “if I continue beyond this…” really seemed to indicate that her blog was, for all intents and purposes, done, particularly when coupled with the rest of the post. I had no intention to start or spread a false rumor, I came to an erroneous conclusion and offer my apology.

Anjie and Babs

There are a few deliveries that I still remember, even years later, as if they happened yesterday. They are a small number compared to the total amount of deliveries I’ve been on. Tonight, I had one I think I’ll remember for awhile.

“Oh, it’s you again!” is how I was greeted at the front door of a what was probably not-quite a million dollar house in Baltimore County tonight. This was actually a little strange, because I don’t remember ever delivering to this place before, but the person saying it looked familiar (maybe I delivered to him at another address? This was a little spooky, because he clearly knew me).

I was up on his porch in between the big gushes of rain. It was just drizzling, I rapped on the door with the knocker, then looked through the window to see if anyone was coming. From what I could see, quite a bit of money had gone into the interior decoration of the house — lots of brass and antiques.

And what looked like a portait of Anjelica Huston.

After being paid – and tipped* – I inquired, “I’m sorry but … is that a portait of Anjelica Huston?”

(I mean, it struck me as odd – who would have a portrait of Anjelica Huston in their home, and why?)

He handed the pizza to his partner, and led me into the den adjoining the entryway. He explained that it was indeed a portrait of Anjelica Huston, then showed me a red hat that Barbara Streisand had worn in some movie I’d never heard of. There were also a couple of busts of Barbara Streisand from other films she’d worked in.

I won’t remember him because he tipped well. I won’t remember him because he is a homosexual. I won’t even remember him because of the Anjelica Huston portrait. I’ll remember him because of how willing he was to show a complete stranger part of his eclectic collection which clearly meant a great deal to him. He showed an incredible amount of openness and trust to a total stranger … and that was really cool.

the day in brief

Opening Firefox, I somehow pulled up a login screen, and thusly found my previously believed “long lost” bookmarks. Wish I’d known they hadn’t been deleted six months ago — the set-up of Firefox I have currently apparently lost was perfect, including the admin-page of this website on the toolbar. Grrrr.

I finished up the cleaning last night for my grandmother’s visit today. I took ‘after’ photos — I’ve been shamed into hiding my slob side — and I’ll post those later. I hadn’t rearranged the living room in some time so I did that too. I bought some nice wood-cleaning cleaner, and the dining room table is shining like its made out of gold. I also got some wood glue and tried to fix some of the wooden chairs, but three were in pretty good shape and the one that isn’t … well, needs the healing touch of Jesus Christ, carpenter.

I ran out to the store for some last minute items and was tailgated to and from. I was also almost killed by some jackass driving a Chevy Avalanche who decided to use York Road as his own, personal u-turn … without, of course, bothering to check where all the other cars were. That made for some fun braking manuevers. Where are the police when you really want to see someone get ticketed for driving like a moron?

Then to top everything off, I get home, notice the rear-passenger side tire is riding low, and see a nail head embedded in it. Woo-fuckin’-hoo. Of course, its too late now to run to the tire shop down the road and get it patched — the mother and the grandmother will be here pretty much any moment.

Oh, did I mention I had a “Read a fucking book” sticker on top of my cats’ litter box, which is in the bathroom? Which, in other words, my grandmother would probably – at some point – see? Yeah, had to rip that off real quick. My commentary on the American literacy level — in the trash. Great.

spam or not?

In the last twelve hours or so, many Baltimore area bloggers have recieved comments from a person named “Adam” concerning a university study he’s assisting to conduct which will study the various habits of bloggers and how blogs effect bloggers’ lives. Or something like that.

I usually delete spam – if you want to use me for advertisement, great! Put some cash in my sweaty palm. But people who’ll steal my blog for their advertisements? Fuck ‘em.

Anyway, so I was divided – was Adam’s comment spam? Or not?

I came to the conclusion that it is spam. I see no reason why this Adam person couldn’t go to the trouble to e-mail his research proposal to people rather then post it in the first open-comment post he found.

Maybe I’m wrong. Whatever. I don’t want to read my comments to find out some dude from half way across the country wants me to participate in his little study and he can’t even take the time to bother to look up my e-mail.

Adam’s comment … deleted.

UPDATE

To clarify, because I feel I need to, it seems odd that in order to contact specific bloggers, Adam would contact people through public comments that anyone can read. I mean, what would be to stop me from reading Seadragon’s blog, finding about Adam’s survey in her public comments, then going to Adam’s survey, and then — pretending to be Seadragon — filling it out completely opposite from how she would?

Also, upon reading JJT’s post here, I did go to Adam’s survey site and complete the survey. I still think the way Adam went about contacting people was poorly thought through.

zooooooommm – booom!

USA TODAY:

John Walton, the son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and a member of the company’s board, died Monday in a plane crash in Wyoming.

Walton, 58, was piloting the ultralight that crashed shortly after takeoff from the Jackson Hole Airport in Grand Teton National Park, the company said.

I can’t think of a commentary that didn’t sound either super snarky or super cruel (or both), so …

can't sue myself

What Gary said to me after I came back from a run,

“I know you tend to splash water around when doing the dishes, but would you mind mopping it before you leave? I almost slipped and cracked my neck … and, y’know, I can’t sue myself.”

Ahhh, but what if you could …

peachy keen

This is what happens when you don’t bother to plan for a scenario that isn’t “best case” …

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Sunday he is bracing for even more violence in Iraq and acknowledged that the insurgency “could go on for any number of years.”

Defeating the insurgency may take as long as 12 years, he said, with Iraqi security forces, not U.S. and foreign troops, taking the lead and finishing the job.

How long would the insurgency have lasted if the Bush Administration hadn’t rushed to war, and had planned out a plan of action for after the invasion? Of course, no one knows. I do know an old saying that seems to hold some wisdom which shouldn’t have been needed, “When you fail to plan, you plan for failure.”

Or in this case, you plan for a lot of dead people.

UPDATE:

In a similar vein, while it’s apparently to much to ask our President and his assorted advisors to plan ahead for what to do after the invasion, they seem to be good about planning ahead to blow shit up.

THE American general who commanded allied air forces during the Iraq war appears to have admitted in a briefing to American and British officers that coalition aircraft waged a secret air war against Iraq from the middle of 2002, nine months before the invasion began.

If those raids exceeded the need to maintain security in the no-fly zones of southern and northern Iraq, they would leave President George W Bush and Tony Blair vulnerable to allegations that they had acted illegally.

HT: Rox Populi & Shakespeare’s Sister

master of my domain

I find myself missing my studio apartment. I lived there for two years, and I moved out just a little over two years ago.

fp_ross1s.gif

I don’t know why — why I miss it, that is. Maybe because it felt more like a bedroom with an attached kitchen then an actual apartment. Maybe because I did such a great job squeezing in such an incredible amount of furniture*. Maybe because it was my first apartment without a roomate. Maybe — quite possibly — because it was much easier to keep clean.

It was 347 square feet, a little under half the size of where I live now. There was only one actual wall – the other three were taken up by a closet, the bathroom, the kitchen, and a big sliding glass door. The sliding glass door was probably the best feature of the place — it would get really bright in the morning, and stay bright until dusk. It was impossible – even with the curtains drawn shut – to keep the place dark and uninviting.

Everything was so close to everything else that nothing could ever seem out of place. My half dresser was located right beside the door. My VCR and laserdisc player were on the same shelf as Catch-22 and several English anthologies. My DVD overflow was stacked on the floor next to the tv stand. There was no room in the closet for the vaccum cleaner so it was stuck … wherever. I had no pantry, so a wall-mounted shelf unit served as such — cat food, paper towels, cleaning supplies all proudly displayed in plain view. I wish I’d taken photos of the interior – it was a masterpiece of organization and clutter.

The cats never liked it. They didn’t really have a lot of room to run around. They spent their time under the futon, the bookshelves, the couch, during the day, between the glass doors and the blinds mewling at the squirrels, birds, and neighbors who ran by.

(I had a third cat for a while***, she was really a kitten — I kept meaning to find a name for her, and until I came up with the “perfect” name, I called her Callie (for Calico). That stuck, I told people I named her “Calipher” short for “Callie”. Yeah, see, that look on your face it the one I got all the time. She was a trip. She’d get hyper at three in the morning from sleeping under the futon and run along the sliding-glass door wall, under the couch and love seat. She’d make a right-hand turn at the kitchen and run under one of those cool stacking shelves** you used to get at IKEA. She’d make a hard right and run alongside the closet, then make another hard right at the door, jump on my computer desk, then jump at the bookshelf that served as a buffer between the desk and futon. She’d hesitate for half a second before making the leap, claws snapped into “attack position”, then land on me, and bounce off on another attack run as I woke with a start, often cursing. After the second or third run, I would have awoken to a sufficient degree that I could catch her upon landing and before she could run away, which the first time, literally frightened the piss out of her. That was fun.)

There were plenty of things I didn’t like about the place. Did I mention that it was small? And that I had it overflowing with furniture, books, and other assorted posessions? My closet was about to explode. I had no leg room under my computer desk because I used that space for storage. I’ve since acquired several more tables, an oak chest, another bookshelf, and a dining room table – and assorted chairs to accompany it — but I think I could probably fit everything into a studio again, if I wanted to.

I don’t like Henderson Webb, my current landlords. They made me give up Callie! I don’t like no dishwasher in my studio. I don’t like only one washer and one dryer for the use of all the residents of that building (fourteen apartments). You know what I do like? This. I could use that space underneath for the dining room table!

Sometimes I go to apartment search engines and look for cool studio floorplans. I think I like the idea of living in only one room – preferably, a slightly larger room. Doing that tonight I found this page,

From long experience in our own space-constrained apartment and many others, we’ve learned there are always solutions — the small, genius improvisations — that can make even the most modest of real estate lovable. Sure we drool over enormous designer lofts, but nothing inspires us more than the hand-made home, the stylish studio wedged into some urban crevice.

In fact, we’ve always suspected that, somewhere, there had to be one apartment that was so small and so cool we’d consider it the ultimate achievement in this category: the quintessential New York City apartment masterpiece.

My studio was neither a “quintessential New York City masterpiece” nor “wedged into some urban crevice.” But it was homey, and cozy, and it felt like an extension of me.

So is my current place … in that its where I live, and has my stuff. But I think someday I’d like to live in a studio again. A bigger one. With a dishwasher. And my own private laundry machine.

And something like this, overhead. For, y’know, the cats.

*TV stand, seven bookshelves of various types, a futon, couch, two loveseats, coffee table, sofa table, two dressers, a desk, half a dozen lamps, couple of fans, lots of boxes, two wall-mounted shelving units …

** They look sort of similar to this, except you could buy extensions to increase the height (you can actually see them here). I had enough of these shelves to block the kitchen, and then, forming an “L” with the other extensions, also block off the closet (forming a hallway to the bathroom).

*** I was only allowed two cats, so I had to find Callie a home. Luckily, I did, and the last time I saw her she was big and fat and content with her new feline friend.

For those of you curious – I did this real quick to illustrate the placement of my furniture. I think you can deduct what it supposed to be what – for example, a cheap POS desk from K-Mart served as a microwave cart in the kitchen.

the number of the last incoming call is marked private

… and cannot, therefore, be returned to thank the person who decided to call me at four in the effin’ morning and then hang up. Thanks, because, y’know, it wasn’t like I was sleeping or anything. And it’s not so much the waking-up that bothers me, it’s the really loud ringing that to a sleep-adled mind is yelling “ALARM! ALARM!” and then half-formed thoughts of “omg there’s a death in the family” and coupled with stumbling across the apartment to the phone crashing your foot into a wall tripping over a cat and as soon as you pick the phone up its just … dialtone.

And of course, *69 doesn’t work because the last incoming call is marked private, so I don’t get to say, “Hey, why’d you call me and wake me up?”

Frustrating.