Nov 18, 2008

UK Driving Test

Using your mobile whilst driving is a big (bad) deal in England. Here's an online driving test from the UK that measures how well you do two things at once. My test results indicate I would be a menance on the roads of England--much like I am here in the USA. Go figure. So give it a go and let me know how you fare.

English Driving Test: Driving Whilst Using A Mobile

Nov 17, 2008

Cold in Atlanta

Suddenly it is darn near wintertime here. The high and the low temperatures were almost the same and the wind whipping off the lake on Saturday made it feel even colder. Brrr!

Here's Morley shoveling our sidewalk last year. Guess it won't be long before I'll have to dig out his wings for the season.

Nov 16, 2008

Docking with a pucker

Here is a boat identical to ours in a video entitled "amazing docking".

Amazing indeed. Morley and I got a pucker just watching it.

Nov 15, 2008

Queen of the Deal

Please note this photo has no relationship whatsoever to the story that follows.

My mission, my life's work, is to buy exactly what I want at the price I am willing to pay (although it may be necessary from time to time to adjust my definition of what I want or how flexible the budget is, but that's a lesson for another time). Paying retail is for wimps and sissies. I spit on paying retail. Phtphht! Phtphht!

I will patiently stalk a deal like a cheetah tracking a wildebeest thru the Serengeti plains until the perfect moment to strike presents itself, then I pounce! and in one swift movement cut my prey from the rest of the herd, grab it by the throat and wrestle it to the ground, then I dispatch it with one deadly bite to its throat. Then I return home victoriously dragging my bargain booty in my teeth to share it with the other cats in my pride. Or something like that. Point being, I get a thrill from a deal.

Anyway, until now my personal best effort was to score the fancy $1,800 two drawer dishwasher that I absolutely couldn't live without for a mere $695 including the optional stainless steel panels (you can read about it here, scroll down till you see the post called "The Love of my Life).

And you may remember earlier this year when I filled my entire SUV with plants for $10.

But the deal I got yesterday....My. Best. Work. Ever.

The prey I've been stalking lately involves the renovation we're planning for our outdoor kitchen. We love cooking out there in the summer but it is starting to look a little tired and in need of some TLC (I'd show you a photo of it but I'm at the lake today so you'll just have to take my word for it).

We thought about replacing the wood doors on the cooking island with stainless steel like in this photo, but the cost was going to be brutal--just one set of doors would cost about $400 and we needed several sets.

So yesterday I was killing time waiting for an appointment with the eye doctor when I spotted my prey--an outdoor living boutique going out of business.

And it was the last day before they closed. And they were motivated and willing to damn near give it away entertain reasonable offers.

And they really didn't give a rat's ass what the stuff sold for as long as they didn't get stuck with any of it.

I shifted into Cheetah mode and moved in for the kill.

And to make a long story short, I walked out of there with $2,000 worth of stainless steel doors, drawers, bins, trim kits--everything we need to renovate our outdoor kitchen. For $116.

I am indeed the Queen of the Deal. All hail.

Nov 13, 2008

Opportunity Lost

I know you think I'm making this up, but I am not. Really, I'm not.

This is a real product called the Bumper Dumper which the inventor says is a "must have" for any hunting or camping trip. Basically it's a toilet seat that attaches to a contraption that attaches to a trailer hitch. You can outfit your Dumper with a garbage bag as shown above, or large families with healthy gastrointestinal systems can upgrade to the deluxe model with a five gallon bucket.

This device should look slightly familiar to my family: my brother Roger and I invented damn near the identical thing a few years ago when about 30 of us met for a weekend camping trip in the mountains. One night we held a progressive dinner with a competition for best theme, and Roger, Brenda and I entertained you with the entree course.

You might recall our theme for the competition (which we won in a three way tie by the way) was "Redneck". Along with a clothesline strung between the trees filled with boxershorts jauntily flapping in the breeze and Christmas decorations blinking in the July heat (not to mention Roger's authentic redneck attire), our decor included a sporty "thunder bucket" much like the one pictured. The only difference was we didn't hang it off a pickup truck--we put it near a tree close to the dinner table for optimal viewing in hopes of garnering more votes for the best theme.

That simple decision--to shamelessly pander for votes instead of hitching our toilet to a truck--turned out to have a severe impact on my retirement planning.

These Dumper Dumpers are selling like hot cakes at $69.95 a pop and some redneck named "Uncle Booger" (I am still not making any of this up by the way) holds an honest-to-gosh patent on it. Uncle Booger has appeared on TV shows such as The Tonight Show to promote his product. The host gets an opportunity to air all his redneck jokes at Uncle Booger's expense and Uncle Booger gets to laugh all the way to the bank.

I am not amused. What we considered to be nothing more than an tacky prop for a theme night dinner party turned out to be--with a minor tweak here and there--a gold mine for some guy named Uncle Booger.

All that stood between me and Uncle Booger's millions was my total lack of imagination, complete absence of vision and follow-through, and my utter disinterest in being the brunt of endless redneck jokes. In the words of Maxwell Smart, I was that close. And to make matters worse, this comes just when I was finally coming to grips with the knowledge that someone beat me to the punch with the concept of the ziplock bag.

If you want to stuff some cash into Uncle Booger's pocket instead of mine, you can cop a Bumper Dumper here.

While you do that I'll get back to work on my idea for The Next Great Idea, the specifics of which I am trying to figure out.

Nov 12, 2008

Stray neuron

I ran across this photo and wondered if anyone thinks it looks exactly like me in a bathing suit:

No? Maybe it's just me then.

In other news, check out my website when you get a minute. I'm finally making my move to consolidate my bazillion websites into one All You Can Eat Buffet of Meaningless Trivia. Nothing much works over there yet but it will give you a peek of things to come.

Nov 10, 2008

Same Circus, Different Tent

Wilmer and me on a picnic long ago in a universe far, far away.
When I see this photo I don't think "oh, how sweet", I just
think what a bad 'do I had back then.

So what me had me thinking about my former boyfriend Wilmer yesterday was a telephone call I received out of the blue recently.

It just so happened that our Receptionist Extraordinaire was in another part of the building, so when the phone rang I picked it up. The caller (whom we'll call Lucy) asked for me.

As soon as I said she had me, she immediately launched into a rushed apology:

Lucy: "This is Lucy and I'm calling you to ask you to please ignore the email because my friend had no business sticking her nose in my business and when she told me what she had done, it made me furious and of course I called you immediately to ask you to please ignore it and forget the whole thing ever happened. I'm really sorry and terribly embarrassed by this whole thing and really angry even though she was my best friend and just trying to help me but I most likely will never speak to her. Ever again."

Me: Huh?

Lucy: This is Lucy. I'm calling you to ask you to ignore the email.

Me: What email? Who is this?

Lucy: This is Lucy--Wilmer's Lucy. My friend who sent you that email had no business sticking her nose into my business. I'm sorry and please ignore it.

Me: Wilmer who?

Lucy: Wilmer Gobsmacked.

Me: You mean Wilmer Gobsmacked?

Lucy: Yeah. Wilmer. I'm his girlfriend. We've lived together for a couple of years now.



Me: H-o-l-y s-h-*-t.

And in that moment, like two prisoners of war held by the same captor in the same gulag at different times, I felt an instant bond with Lucy.

Since I hadn't received her friend's email, she explained the circumstances that caused her friend to try contacting me. Let's just say it was deja vu all over again--Wilmer has not changed his ways nor learned any lessons and continues his groundbreaking work in the field of Head Games, except now Lucy is his lab rat instead of me. The friend had tried to contact me to do a little fact checking because, as usual, things weren't adding up on Planet Wilmer.

I told her about the dark old days when Wilmer had kept me in such a state of confusion that I thought I was nuts half the time, and how I had finally come to the end of my rope with his lies and deceptions and how my Operation One Good Flush had saved me. (I think I might have also recommended she watch Cathy Bates in the movie "Misery" and take a lot of notes). And then I advised her to run for the hills as fast as her legs could carry her.

I also told her she needs to patch things up with that friend of hers because she'll need a friend to lean on when things go to hell in a handbag which they invariably do with Wilmer. And then I wished her luck and told her to call again any time she wanted to.

Afterwards I thought about how bad I feel for Lucy and how glad I am it isn't me living that crazy life with Wilmer and how grateful I am for my nice sane husband who never plays mind games or tells me lies.

Then I spent the next two hours scouring the company's SPAM filter trying to find that darn email.

Wouldn't you just love to know what it said? Lawsy mercy, me too.

Nov 9, 2008

Operation One Good Flush

Back in the dark times before I met my husband, I was in a relationship with a guy we'll call Wilmer.

Wilmer and I had one of those red hot relationships you read about in cheesy romance novels. It was passionate and wildly romantic, but mostly it was unbelievably messy with way too many twists and turns in the plot--one of those books that make you want to ask the author if they really thought their readers were that stupid.

Wilmer had issues. In fact, Wilmer was a pioneer in the field of relationship issues, a veritable genius with a flair for achieving new levels of relationship complexity never before seen in human history. Wilmer's particular expertise was the field of Head Games and I played the role of lab rat during his most productive years.

The only consistent thing in our relationship was a spectacular degree of inconsistency. Our relationship was ON then OFF as quick as flipping a light switch, changing from one to the other in a blink of an eye for reasons understood only by Wilmer.

It was a world where yes meant no, and no meant maybe, and nothing was ever what it appeared. We were speaking jaberwocky that even Alice's rabbit would have thought bizarre--we believed we were destined to spend the rest of our lives together at a time when Wilmer was unable to say for sure if he'd show up for a date on Friday night.

When Wilmer was good, life was very good indeed but when he was bad life was miserable. For example, he had an amusing habit of disappearing for days or weeks at a time without notice, and more than once I (literally) checked the local obituaries to see if Wilmer was dead or if he'd just stood me up--and it wasn't always clear to me which would have made me happier.

Eventually, of course, he would reappear with a perfectly reasonable explanation why he had disappeared without a trace. Until I met Wilmer I had no idea alien abductions were so commonplace.

So, the point is Wilmer came with baggage and thus over time I came to collect a little baggage of my own, and eventually we collected up enough baggage between us to fill a good sized cruise ship.

After a few years of Wilmer, having my heart ripped out and enjoyed with fava beans and a nice glass of Chianti was just not as much fun as it once was, and so one night when Wilmer added one last new twist to our relationship I finally came to the end of Crazy Relationship Road.

That night I stayed up into the wee hours formulating a self-rescue plan which I called "Operation One Good Flush". It was based on my list of all the aspects of my life that weren't working very well and needed some work. It was a very, very long list but without Wilmer around to keep me occupied I had plenty of time on my hands to work on it.

I began with my house which was chock full of debris left over from bad relationships. And it wasn't just Wilmer's debris--there was still debris from my ex husband who had left behind quite a lot of crap when he'd made tracks from the marital home a few years prior.

I began in the bathroom, filling the bathroom trash can with toiletries my ex husband had left in his half of the vanity. Goodbye men's cologne and shaving cream, hello curling irons and mousse in the newly expanded real estate of my vanity. Fifteen minutes and it was done, but the simple process of claiming the entire bathroom for myself was so exhilirating, so cleansing, so freeing that it mobilized me. I am Woman, hear me roar. I upsized to the kitchen trash can and moved on.

I filled the kitchen trash can over and over, stuffing it with bad karma out of my house until the can was so full and heavy that I could hardly lift it to dump it into the giant bin at the curb. This went on for a few days until I streamlined the process by tossing aside the kitchen trash can and rolling the giant outdoor bin itself right into the house. And for the next three weeks I continued my maniacal methodical mission to search out and destroy everything I didn't want or wasn't mine.

My neighbors watched in mounting concern at the sight of me wheeling a giant trash bin in and out of my house and the growing mounds of household items piling up at my curb. With concerned voices they asked if everything was okay and I assured them everything was great! couldn't be better! peachy! but I think they secretly thought I had gone a little postal. And on a temporary basis I probably had.

After I finished purging all the bad man karma in my house I began to make changes.

First I painted my hallway a color nobody but a half crazy woman fresh out of a bad relationship(s) would choose.

Scene at paint counter:

"I'll take a quart of this color, please."

"Interesting choice. Bad relationship?"

"You have no idea. Better m
ake it a gallon--this might take several coats".

I bought a canopy bed because nothing says "woman sleeping alone" like a lace canopy.

I programmed the remote control to stop only on the channels I liked to watch. All Dr. Phil, all the time, with occasional repeats of Cathy Bates' movie "Misery" for motivation.

I borrowed a garden tiller. One Saturday morning I stood in the middle of the street eyeing my front lawn for about twenty minutes, then as my neighbors watched in fascination, I fired up that bad daddy tiller and plowed up half of my front yard to create a massive flower bed that replaced much of the lush lawn that my ex-husband had taken such pride in.

I transformed my garage into the female version of a fantasy craft room/workshop complete with cable TV (Hello Dr. Phil, what do you have for me today?), then took to sitting out there most evenings, sipping wine and playing with power tools. Good times.

I bought velvet covered chairs for my dining room and a wool rug with ladybugs for my living room. Toilet seats glued down.

Then I stood back and looked at what I hath wrought and it was good.

I checked off my list "my house doesn't feel like me".

Next: Operation One Good Flush, Part 2

Nov 7, 2008

Red Hot Britt

I got a couple of emails in response to my posting yesterday. None of them disagreed with the premise that I'm unhip and totally not cool, an oversight that I'm sure you meant in the nicest possible way.

What they commented on was that one line where I said I think Britt Hume is hot.

Yes, it is true. I've got it bad for Britt, and as further testament to my un-hipness, the guy I have the hots for is a retiree as of yesterday. I just keep getting hip'er and cooler by the minute. It's a gift.

Anyway, for those of you who have not yet succumbed the magnetic charms of my man Britt (and surely there aren't many of you), may I present the many faces of Britt:

Serious Britt:

"Tell me, Senator, when you accepted the campaign contribution from "My Old Lady's Trust Fund", were you aware this organization was a front for your wife's trust fund?"

Skeptical Britt

Britt says: "You can understand, Senator, why many find that hard to believe".

Britt thinks: "That's bulls**t, Senator, and we both know it".

Fair and Balanced Reporting Britt

Just telling it like it is and keeping his personal opinions out of it.

I've been very naughty, Britt.
I think I need a spanking.

Baby Britt

Pre wrinkles and gray hair.

Oh my, those lips. That hair. Those eyes. That voice.

Makes. Me. Want. To. Pinch. Those. Cheeks.

I have to go now. I need to go take a cold fair and balanced and news the shower. Or something.

Nov 6, 2008

Maybe it's just me then

The results of Tuesday's election made one thing perfectly clear to me: I am not in touch with the times. I'm out of the loop, unhip, a political dork. I'm a loaf of Wonder Bread two weeks past its expiration date in a world dominated by organic multi-grain artisan bread.

What is alarming to me is not that I simply disagree with the new President's position on this policy or that. Nope, it's worse: I just don't get it. When the question is asked about what experience, what insight he offered (other than a vague promise of change), all I heard was the sound of crickets while other people heard a symphony of..well, I'm not sure. Something else that got them excited and charged up. While half the country is singing his praises, I'm walking around with a bewildered Homer Simpson expression on my face.

Clearly, I'm out of step. I'm marching to the tune of a different drummer. I've become officially un-hip.

I've suspected my un-hipness for some time now. I passed up a pair of gorgeous shoes on the clearance rack because they had ankle straps. In years past, those shoes would have called out "Sexy Shoes! On Sale! Must Have!". Now all they say to me is "broken ankle". I move on, shuffling past the sexy shoes in my search for something with good arch support and a sensible heel.

I possess a considerable stash of the very pinnacle of unhip and not cool: knee high hose. Even though I know how dorky they look and despite my firm declarations in my (earlier) hip and cool days about being caught dead wearing them, I love them. Knee high hose, I can't quit you but I promise to draw the line at wearing you with dresses. God help me resist the temptation.

I flip through People Magazine in the waiting room at my dentist's office and wonder "who are these people?"

Morley and Heather know all the lyrics to songs on the radio that I've never heard before in my life, but I hum along with tunes played on the 1940's channel on XM Radio--and I wasn't even around in the 1940's. I'm not only out of touch with the current times, I'm out of touch with my own time. Bess Truman called: she wants her era back.

And there's more.

I like red meat and white bread.

Text messaging bewilders me. When I get a text from my daughter, I automatically pick up the phone and call her which, she tells me, defeats the whole purpose of a text message.

It bugs me when parents fix a plate for their children before anyone else gets to eat, instead of the elders going first like they did in the good old days.

I use phrases like "good old days".

I secretly think Brit Hume is totally hot.

My newfound un-hipness shows up in my social life too. Recently a group of people I didn't know showed up for a dock dinner and my unhip reaction to this new crowd was to channel June Cleaver. Their racy language and jokes sent me into a June-like retreat to join the group who had gathered on our boat to discuss politics, the economy, thermonuclear physics--anything unrelated to body parts or what you do with them.

(Of course if I'd really been June Cleaver I would have handled it totally differently. First I would have sent a subtle signal of discomfort by fingering my pearls and smoothing my apron, and then I would have tossed out a distressed "oh, dear". And if that gentle hint didn't do the trick, I would have said "Wally! Beaver! Both of you go to your rooms right now!". Then I would have dispatched Ward up there to wash their mouths out with Palmolive soap and beat the ever lovin crap out of them send them to bed without their supper.) June, you the bomb girlfriend.

Sorry, stray neuron. Where was I? The election? Right.

So even though my guy doesn't get to sit in the big daddy chair, I still respect the office of President. We've elected a guy whose only accomplishment as far as I can tell is to write two books about himself a hip new President and for the next four years I will do my best to keep an open mind while keeping my hand over my wallet and see how things go. Even though I didn't vote for him, it is in everyone's best interest to wish him success.

And now I need to strap on some knee highs and get to work. I want to get home early tonight--I hear there's a Matlock marathon tonight right after Ed Sullivan.

Nov 5, 2008

I'll feel better tomorrow, promise.

Nov 4, 2008

Happy Election Day. I hope.

I've done my civic duty. I voted this morning and I hope my loyal blog readers, all four of you, will get to the polls and do the same.

I can't begin to tell you how glad I am that this election is finally over. No more campaign speeches, no more political commercials, no more screaming at the TV during national news shows, no more recordings on our answering machine asking for our votes or our donations, and most of all, no more tense moments at parties over words like "l*beral" and "soci*list", or phrases such as "spr**ding the w**lth around". The number of emails flowing through my inbox is going to drop like a stone. I have no idea what I'm going to do with all that free time.

All I know for sure is come tomorrow morning half of us will be estastic and relieved and the other half of us will be absolutely miserable.

So as a salute the end of this very long election, I present this moving performance of "America the Beautiful". It brought tears to my eyes.