Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Oh, Crap!

Step one for picking up the crap your dog has left in your neighbor's yard, is to take the poopy bag and put it on your hand like a mitten. Step two, is to reach down and pick up each turd until you have cleaned it all up, or to at least fake it if it is dark enough. Step three is to pull the bag off your hand inside out, and tie it up in a pretty package. The final step is to find a neighbors garbage can that is close enough to the street so that you can run up and drop the bag of crap into it. The alternate to step four, is to fling the package into a handy group of bushes if no one is looking.

Yesterday, while I was in the middle of step two, the picking up of the poop, Chandler spotted his friend Kevin the Great Dane. In his joy at seeing an old buddy, Chandler bolted while I was bent over with a handful of poo. I can handle Chandler if I know another dog is nearby, but this time he nearly knocked me over, and before I knew it I was being dragged down the street with my arm flailing around, flinging dog poop everywhere. The more I attempted to bring the situation under control, the more Chandler pulled on the leash, causing more and more crap to fly. By the time we caught up with Kevin and his owner, the poop bag was hanging off my hand, and what hadn't hit the street was stuck to my arm. It was a disgusting mess, and from now on Chandler will be encouraged to poop in the church yard. Nobody ever cleans up after their dog over there.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Celebrating a Week of Death

This is a reprint of an earlier post. Billy Mays died on Sunday. I hate to see someone die prematurely, but I sure am glad if it will end the screaming commercials. I am sitting in my big recliner, with a baseball game on the television and I am dozing off. The only thing that would make me fall asleep faster is if Jack Brickhouse were still alive and doing the play by play. With the steady drone of the banal voices that pass for announcers these days, lulling me off to dreamland, I am suddenly jolted back into consciousness by one of the most hideous sounds known to modern America. No, not a speech by Ann Coulter, it's that ubiquitous shill, Billy Mays. You know the guy, he screams out of the television set at you, demanding that you buy whatever crap he's selling today. This time it's 'Kaboom', some kind of cleaning fluid that apparently will clean anything. Hopefully it will clean up the stain I left in my pants after he scared it out of me. My first response to a Billy Mays commercial is to hit the mute button, but this time both the remote and the cat that had been snoozing on my lap, went flying across the room when I was startled by "HI!! I'M BILLY MAYS.", bellowing out of the TV. By the time I found the remote the offending commercial was gone.

I don't know what marketing geniuses have determined that screaming at prospective customers is an effective device for selling products, but it must work. Why else would every other commercial on cable television feature Billy Mays screaming at me to buy Oxy-Clean or some kind of crazy folding ladder. What ever happened to the days of catchy little jingles and animated scrubbing bubbles.

When I was a kid, I particularly liked the Alka Seltzer commercial with Speedy. He was cute, and his song was catchy. The commercial that I think was the most effective back in the 1950's was the Hamm's Beer commercial with dancing bears out in the forest. It literally made me want to go get an ice cold beer, and I was only six years old. When I was finally old enough to actually drink beer, I discovered that Hamm's sucked, but at least that commercial got me to try Hamm's Beer once. That's better than Billy Mays, I won't ever buy anything he advertises. He gives me a headache.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Photo Friday

A few more photos from this years Gay Parade
here in Wilton Manors, Florida.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Happy Seventh Deadly Sin Days

I never understood the meaning of gay pride. Actually it's the pride part that I don't get. How can you be proud of something that you didn't have any part of? It's like being proud that you have long fingers, brown hair, or that your great grandfather was Thomas Jefferson. You can appreciate those things, but pride, I don't know. How about gay acceptance days, where we work to accept ourselves, and to educate the world that we are all of the same human race, and they need to accept that? I know, it doesn't roll off the tongue as easily.Last weekend was gay days here in Wilton Manors, and we had a lovely parade Saturday during the early evening hours. They started doing it in the evening last year, mostly I suppose, so that the drag queens wouldn't melt, and the drunks would be less obvious in the dark. I've included some photos of the events here in this post, and you might notice that as the evening wore on, the photos become more blurred. That's because as the parade passed by, we were all having cocktails and the more I had, the more trouble I had holding the camera steady. Also you won't see any pictures from the midday street fair on Sunday. That's because it was a hundred degrees out, and by the time I walked up to the fair from home, I was exhausted. I decided to just relax in a nice cool tavern, and suck down a few beers instead of browsing the booths that were lined up and down the middle of the street. After all, if you've seen one gay street fair, you've seen them all. They all consist of gay insurance companies, gay travel agents, gay real-estate agents, and a booth with the local cops in it trying to convince you that they are cool. They aren't.Happy gay acceptance days !!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's Crazy Hot

It is hotter than camel spit in the Sahara down here in Florida. Yes, I know I'm going to hear, "In the desert of California it's 139 degrees in the shade.". Don't forget that you always add the caveat, "But it's a dry heat.". Florida heat is of course a 'wet' heat, and we also have the tropical sun that that will burn through your skin faster than you can slather on that sun block. I myself, try to keep out of the sun, and even though I walk the dogs under shade trees, I still feel the effects of it. I have what could be called a combination tan, half 'farmer tan', and half 'old retired coot in shorts tan'. On my neck and arms are the perfect outline of my favored shirt style, the Polo. With my shirt off it looks like I am wearing a white tee shirt, with deep tanned arms and neck. Down below, I have a nice tan on my legs that starts at the bottom of my Bermuda shorts and runs right on down to the top of my half high socks. It is quite a sight when I look at myself in the mirror in the morning.

The heat is also affecting Mark as it does many people around here. After hours of the heat and sun beating down on people's heads, they seem to suddenly go insane. With Mark it burst forth while we were driving to the 'Gay Days' parade here in Wilton Manors. As we drove through the crowded streets, he began to scream and shout at all the happy people who had congregated for the occasion. "Get the f**k out of my way you assholes!", he screeched. I tried to calm him down, but he only got crazier, and kept railing at the pedestrians who he was sure were "purposely walking slow" just to irritate him. Once we parked and joined the throng, he did calm down, but I've decided to encourage Mark to refill his Xanax prescription. At least until this heat breaks, in about four months.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I Party With Stevie Nicks

I know it might sound like I drink a lot, but really, I only drink on Friday nights, and on Mondays when I bowl. Oh, and I'll have some wine during the rest of the week, and of course the random special occasion that pops up now and then, like birthdays, weddings, garbage day, etc.. The problem is that I will get on the internet after having a few, and besides making inappropriate comments on news web sites, and various blogs, I will also visit Amazon.com. The result of that is vicious attacks by the other drunks who are commenting on blogs, and surprise packages that show up later in the week from Amazon.com. The worst is when I order a CD that I already had in my collection but because it was pushed so far back in the bin, I forgot I had it.

Today in the mail, I received another package with two things from Amazon. One of them was a CD by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, called Déjà Vu. I probably ordered it because I was listening to the oldies station after going out last Friday. I tend to do that, I’ll hear an old song, and if I can’t get it out of my head, I buy it. The funny thing is that usually when it arrives, I realize how tired I was of hearing it in the first place. So far I am not tired of Déjà Vu, although I’ve only played it through three times. Give me another couple of days.

The other thing in the package was a DVD of ‘Stevie Nicks, Live in Chicago‘. I have watched that thing twice now, and I have to say, I think it will sound really nice later this week when I come home from the bar on Friday and turn the surround sound up very loud. I hope my tenants don’t mind.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Photo Friday

The house my parents brought me home
to in 1949, and I lived in for 14 years.
It had a basement that flooded frequently, no air-
conditioning, and cost $10,900 new.

Here it is as it appears on Google Maps today.
That's my old bedroom that I shared with my
brothers on the second floor.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

They're Falling and I Can't Get Up

In my efforts to reduce my air-conditioning costs, I came up with a brilliant idea that would also help me prepare for any hurricanes that might come our way. On the west side of our house, there are six foot high windows that catch the full impact of the Florida sun. When the sun hits those windows, the heat is magnified, and the result is similar to leaving a your car windows rolled up on a hot summer day. My idea was to put up the hurricane shutters on just those windows, to block the sun and reduce that heat. Since the whole northern wall of the room also has six foot windows, there would still be plenty of light. Besides the heat thing, this would be a good practice for installing the shutters ahead of a storm.

My first challenge was to get to the shutters that are stacked against the house down a seldom used path in the garden. Once I fought my way through all the spider webs, and jungle vines, I proceeded to pick out the shutters I needed. I have them all numbered for ease of installation, the only problem is that I don't stack them numerically. So with one hand holding the stack, which weighs hundreds of pounds, I flipped through them to find all that were labeled number nine. I quickly found out that I can not hold up hundreds of pounds, and as the panels slowly tipped towards me, a thought raced through my head. I was going to be crushed behind the house, where nobody goes, and nobody knows that I came back here. Instead of being crushed by hundreds of pounds of steel, I let go and jumped out of the way. Slowly the panels fell back a few feet, and stopped. It turned out that I wouldn't have been crushed because the fence, that is still teetering from hurricane Wilma four years ago, caught them. It all worked out okay, but next time I'll wait until Mark can help me. He'll be able to run around screaming and drawing attention, if I were to be crushed.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Don't Poke at Strange Things

I have written about our rat problem before, so when Mark came in the house and announced, "There's a dead rat somewhere in the yard, and I'm gonna puke!", I wasn't surprised. I was especially not surprised because two doors down from me is an abandoned, foreclosed home that the bank just cleared of debris, denying the neighborhood rats of easy lodging. So I grabbed Chandler, who considers the smell of rat to be a delicious and rare treat, and went out front to search for the carcass. On our first pass, I couldn't smell or find anything. It was when we came back inside the gate that Chandler made a dash towards some leaves and shrubbery, "Thank you boy, I'll take it from here". So with a cookie and a pat on the head I dismissed Chandler from his duties, and continued the search on my own. I got down on my hands and knees to inspect the area that Chandler had been interested in. There was a definite stench, and all around me flies were buzzing and landing, a surefire sign of rat death. My search yielded no dead rat, but while I was on my knees, I came across one of the weirdest things I have ever seen growing out of the ground. All I could think of was movies like 'The Blob', or 'Invasion of the Pod People'. It was like a large red Whiffle Ball with black dimples where the holes should be. I immediately took photos, and then went into the house to research the thing on the internet.So what was it that I found? According to the web site 'Mushroom Expert' it is called 'Clathrus Crispus', which I think might be Latin for crispy rat. Whatever it means, this is what 'Mushroom Expert' has to say about the thing.
"Clathrus crispus appears with some frequency in Florida and along the Gulf Coast, to judge from e-mails I receive. It is an outlandish and exotic looking stinkhorn reminiscent of an orange "Wiffle football"--except for the God-awful stench that results from the slimy brown goo that covers the inside of the lattice. The method stinkhorns use to disperse spores is quite ingenious, though a little disgusting to human sensibilities. The foul-smelling slime is calculated to attract flies and other insects, who land on the slime and gobble it up. Little do the insects know that they have been duped into covering their little insect feet with stinkhorn spores, and have ingested spores into their digestive tracts! Later, these spores are dispersed by the unwitting insects, and the stinkhorn life-cycle continues elsewhere."

There you go, dead rat found, and another great reason to move to Florida.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I May Look Old, But At Least I'm Cool

I have bad feet and never walk around the house barefoot. It seems that I miss out on clues that there are problems because of that. I tend to miss things like cat, and dog, vomit on the floor and leaky toilets. Last Thursday's problem started like so many others, with the sudden screeching, and yelping of Mark as he stepped, barefoot, into some mysterious liquid that had spread across the floor. This time it was the air-conditioner. More precisely, the air handler unit in the hall closet was spewing water like a little mini Niagara Falls, and Mark alerted me by running through the house squealing in horror.

It seems that I neglected to have the air-conditioner serviced this past winter. Now I am on my knees cleaning the gunk, that resembles wet cotton balls, out of the AC pump, scooping the slimy stuff into a bucket while Chandler eagerly tries to intercept it. When I finish that part of the job, I have to then disconnect the pipe that delivers the condensation to the pump, put my mouth on one end, and blow the crud that has collected back up into the AC handler. Blowing into the pipe is the quickest and easiest way to clear it, but the risk of blowback means you have to be quick about getting the business end of that pipe out of your mouth. If you leave it in your mouth too long after you feel it free up, you will get a mouthful of nasty water and probably contract Legionnaires disease.

I was quite proud of my skill at handling that repair, and I figured I had saved myself some money by doing it myself. Two hours later, Fat Kitty jumped up into my lap with soaking wet paws. I checked the hallway, and damn, it was filled with half an inch of water. Something about my repair job had gone awry. This time I called a professional, and after he dismantled the equipment and cleaned it, all seems fine. Unfortunately he was a good talker. I am now on the hook for two thousand dollars and I am getting a new air-conditioning system installed today. The old unit was fifteen years old, and in danger of total failure at any time, so I guess it is a good idea, but damn, that was the money I was saving to have the bags under my eyes fixed.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Photo Friday

Fat Kitty as a paper weight.
It's her refuge from Chandler.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Electric Ladyland

It's interesting that as each time technology advances a step, we become so dependent upon it that we can't imagine going back to what we had before. That occurred to me when I tried to fast forward through the commercials on a show I watching, only to realize that for once in a long time I was actually watching a television show in real time. I always TiVo my favorite shows, and then speed past the ads. The last time technology slapped me in the face was when I thought I could travel across the country without a cell phone. I ended up calling home via a pay phone at the Atlanta airport, only to receive a jaw dropping bill of $20 for that one minute call on my next AT&T bill.

It is now hurricane season here in South Florida, and that means we must prepare to be sent back to caveman like living at any time. In the blink of an eye you can lose electrical service, phone service, and worst of all, a toilet that flushes. They tell me that people have lived around here for millennia, but I can't imagine how they pulled it off without air-conditioning. Two hours into a loss of electrical service and I am a basket case, cursing God, Florida Power and Light, and anyone else who I believe may have denied me my comfort. As I write this I am thinking about my generator that has been in the repair shop for the last three months, and I am wondering if it will be back in time for the next big blow. If it doesn't get fixed soon, you may see me on CNN at the Home Depot with all the other crazy assholes when the next hurricane is bearing down on us. I'll be the one fighting with an old woman over the last the generator.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Name Game

Chuck, Chuck bo Buck Bonana fanna fo ........
Shirley Ellis, The Name Game song 1964
In 1970, when I moved into the city, I introduced myself as 'Al' to every new person I met. The name Alan was my childhood name but I had decided that I needed to sound more manly. Later, when I moved to California in 1978 I reverted to Alan, because figured I was engaging in false advertising. Alan is a fine name and after meeting a few other Alan's over the years, I realized it actually sounded better to me. Now when I run into an old friend, and they call me Al, I know exactly during what period of my life I met them.

Lately Mark has not been happy with the name of our dog, Chandler. The name Chandler was given to him at the shelter when he was a puppy, and I was too lazy to rename him. I think Mark's problem is that there are too many syllables in the name, so over the last week he has been calling him, Opie. It actually is a cute name that definitely fits him, because he has that 'ginger' hair and those freckles all over his face. While I am not opposed to calling him Opie, there are a few problems with it. Like the fact that all the other dogs at the Bark Park might make fun of him and call him 'dopey Opie'. Another thing is the fact that all the training I have done over the last ten months is based on calling him Chandler, as in "Chandler sit!", or "Chandler come!". Of course on second thought, the fact is that when I actually say "Chandler come", he tends to act as if he has just been stricken with deafness, so I might as well just call him Opie. Besides, I never liked "Friends" anyway.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Doctor Feelgood

If you thought my story about my hemorrhoids went too far, stop reading this.........now!Last Thursday, I got up early and prepared for my visit to the colon and rectal doctor. Following the doctors orders, I emptied two Fleet enemas, and spent the next twenty minutes in the bathroom, stifling my screams, as the contents of those bottles did their job. Later that morning, I find myself sitting on the end of an examining table, with my pants off, and nothing between me and the rest of the world except for a small 'blanket' made out of blue paper. I am all alone in a room full of devices that would warm Dick Cheney's heart. All around are various tubes, pumps, and spreading tools, that are vaguely similar to items I have seen in Amsterdam sex stores, and read about in accounts of the Spanish inquisition. Finally the doctor comes in. He's not the most cordial, and my blood pressure is rising as he tells me to lay on my side, facing the wall. I grimace and grind my teeth while I wait for the inevitable examination. "Obviously that is too tender for me to examine in depth, but I can see that you have a fissure. You can put your clothes back on now.". That's it? No probing and digging? No torturous procedure with the nurse looking on while I squirm on the table? I don't care if this doctor is cordial or not, I like him.

So the diagnosis is some kind of geological formation, a fissure, no hemorrhoid. The doctor has told me that the cure is either change my diet, take Metamucil, and use a prescription cream, or have surgery that might make me incontinent. As far as I can see there is no contest on this one. I will change my diet.