Sunday, August 27, 2006

hooray for salvage

Our 25-year old hot water heater began to die this summer—like so many appliances in our house of late. Anyway, the old thing had begun to leak, bleeding out via a pvc pipe into the backyard. A trickle at first and then a slow, steady rivulet running down the driveway. I was pretty sure I knew where this was going.

We weren't ready to buy a new one. The one we want to install when we remodel is one of those cool, waterless, wall-mounted, heat-as-you-need water heaters. But that would require plumbing work that couldn't be done without being halfway through a renovation that we had barely started.

Our friends, Lori and Mary, were going to pull down some crown molding from their friend's house that was slated for demolition. They asked us to help them transport it home in our truck, so we went over there yesterday only to find a relatively new water heater left behind. Lori called the owner and cleared us for pillage. What a huge stroke of luck.

We spent the morning unhooking, draining and transporting the "new" water heater. Why is it that one nut is always, always set in granite? All the other pipes and nuts loosen up as designed except one. Calcified, fossilized and sealed. Anyway, we got the fucker unhooked and on the truck with some effort.

Then, we spent part of the afternoon draining and removing the dying relic. This old one was bigger and heavier and rusted. After we finally picked it up, staggered to the door and slid it down the side stairs into the backyard, we prepared to install the windfall water heater.

Due to the accumulation of water, rust, dust, hair and godknows what else, the substance in the catch pan beneath the old heater was world class sludge. If we'd had time to run an electrical current through it I'm fairly sure we could have created life. As it was, I scooped and paper toweled the slime until the drip pan stopped looking like a dying pond. That, my friend, will make you feel tough. I know grown men who would have paled at the thought of getting that goop on their hands...

Anyway, the new water heater has been hauled and installed. It has been filled up, fired up and if our luck runs well, our morning showers will not be taken in cold, brown water. When warm, clear water is all you need to start your Monday off right, you know you've dropped you expectations low enough. Any lower and you'd celebrate waking up with a pulse.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

what a prince

British press accused of snooping on royal family
Big deal. Come up with a better headline because spying on the royal family is the raison d'etre of those tabloids. I generally avoid celebrity gossip because it is so paralyzingly boring and because tabloid publishers are such bottom feeders. (Even though I think the royal family would be royally miffed if they were ignored by the slimebags.) Anyway, my apologies to those who followed the Diana/Charles divorce affairs and were privy (don't you love my accent) to this tidbit. I must say I never really liked Charles until now:

LONDON -- British police were questioning a reporter from the country's biggest selling newspaper and another man today after some of Prince Charles's staff suspected eavesdropping on their phones...

If confirmed, it would be the worst revelation of snooping on the royals since...tabloids obtained conversations of heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles and his late wife Diana talking to their lovers...

Charles was recorded memorably telling his then mistress Camilla Parker Bowles -- now his wife -- that he wanted to be reincarnated as her tampon.
Reincarnated as her tampon? That is so GREAT. Loved the woman's happy place and wasn't afraid of feminine hygiene products. What a real man. How could I have missed this?

Saturday, August 05, 2006


I can hardly watch the news anymore. But occasionally the DVD ends and before I know it the news is on the screen. Sometimes FOXnews because the only time I turn on the tube is for The Simpsons or King of the Hill. How can a station be so cartoon humor savvy and so utterly disgusting when it comes to news reporting? If you can even stretch the definition of news reporting to include them. I join my voice to the chorus of critics. Alarmist, sensationalist, pandering dunderheads. And Geraldo is their idiot king.

Read A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. It's been on my to-read list for years and I was spurred on by her interview with Bill Moyers. It is gripping. And considered by many to be required reading for all feminists. I think it's required reading for all thinkers.

Speaking of feminists, many women have a negative reaction to being identified as a feminist. I don't really understand that. Partly because I never was a feminist when the movement was at it's height yet I find the philosophy more applicable today than ever. Of course, I wash down my feminism with a big mug of humor.

I thought perhaps we should call ourselves suffragettes. It's so much...cuter than feminist, don't you think? And that's what scares women about being a's not cute enough. But nobody even knows what suffrage means anymore, so I say we call ourselves

feminette (n):
1. A woman who believes in equality for women but doesn't want guys to know how much.
2. a great name for a sanitary napkin
Saw a big-ass SUV with a bumper sticker "I Support Wind Energy." Perfect.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

bug and bug-eyed

I am at home today with a second-rate virus persistent enough to produce a mild fever and sore throat but not disabling enough to keep me in bed all day. I've slept all I could, soap operas bore me senseless and I've just finished a book. Blogging seems like the next best activity. Or I could do my ironing. Nah.

Dan Savage writes a great article about Washington state's supreme court decision not to overturn that state's ban on gay marriage. He talks (hilariously) about the weakness of the argument(s) used by those opposed to gay marriage. He sees it as a sign of victory on the horizon. The man is right on.

Just finished Larry McMurtry's
Lonesome Dove. Did not expect a tale of the Old West to unsettle me so much. He can paint a vivid literary picture. And of course, it's not just about cattle ranching and Mother Nature's hardships. It's about the hideous and heroic aspects of human nature. The stuff of all good novels.

I am maybe half-way to my goal of reading all the Pulitzer Prize winning novels ever written.
Lonesome Dove is one of these. I don't think that winning a Pulitzer Prize means that something is the very best. It is naive to think that any awarding body makes decisions free from politics or personal bias. However, the odds of reading something of literary value are pretty good with Pulitzers. Even if that occasionally means slogging through works like Updike's incredibly annoying Rabbit series. In addition to narrowing down the overwhelming quantity of available fiction, I rely on the recommendations from friends and people whose opinion I value. I've been pretty happy with the results.

Bill Moyer's interview with Margaret Atwood did not disappoint. And it made me return to the issues surrounding atheism that have always bothered me. Atheism can become a religious dogma. First, I want no part of an organized belief system. Second, I have difficulty embracing a concept that is rooted in the absence of a thing. The negation of God alone seems a thin premise for a personal philosophy. I would rather be a skeptic. Understanding that there is much that can't be answered and becoming comfortable with that lack of absolute knowledge. But continuing to explore ideas and challenge unfounded claims of truth. Spirituality may just be our organism's construct and I can prove neither the existence nor non-existence of a deity. My logic tells me that stories told to comfort ourselves about death and the unknown have been historically just that: stories. Which have value in so many ways...but not as absolute truth.

Don't you love the photo of Mel Gibson that's accompanying the drunken tirade "the-jews-are-what's-wrong-with-the-world" articles? Bug-eyed terrorist. He looks like a bug-eyed terrorist. I'm sure that's helping him smooth things over.
Hey, it's your Anti-Semite debutante "coming out" tequila party, Mel. Congratulations! If you remove the a-z, Mazel spells Mel. Mel Tov.

Sometimes I read the News Bizarre.