The Things I Learn Driving Home From the Beach

hey-diddle-diddle[Originally posted 9/3/2013 but destroyed by my webhost]

So I’m driving to work this morning from Rehoboth Beach and my radio is telling me things.  Did you know that the nursery rhyme “Hey diddle diddle…” refers to the spring constellations?  Of course you did!  But I didn’t.  Turns out that this, which I always thought was just nonsense:

Hey, diddle diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed to see such sport.
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

is a specific reference to the stars overhead in April and May, and is supposed to indicate planting time in the spring, or something.  The cow is a reference to the constellation Taurus, and the New Moon of May is said to be in the sign of Taurus. So the cow jumps over the Moon. The Cat is a reference to Leo the Lion, which is chasing the little dog, Canis Minor (the “smaller dog” constellation), to the west and over the horizon. The fiddle is a reference to the lyre, or stringed instrument, which is overhead as the constellation Lyra, containing the bright star Vega. The dish and the spoon are the Milky Way and the Big Dipper. In May, Cygnus just starts to rise up in the northeast. Cygnus appears as though flying along the Milky Way, which is as flat around the horizon as it can get this month, like a plate, or a dish, and it seems to have “run away” from view. And while this is occurring, the Big Dipper, is straight up overhead: The dish runs away with the spoon!

Aside from this, my entire knowledge of the constellations I learned from The Simpsons.

brotherfromthesameplanet7Pepe: “Tell me more!  I want to know all the constellations.”

Homer:  “Well, there’s Jerry the Cowboy, and that big dipper looking thing?  Alan . . . the Cowboy.”

Labor Day Beach Report

P1010542Brenda, Amanda, and I, along with four dogs spent the long Labor Day weekend at the beach.  It was glorious!  Saturday started out a little cloudy as you can see in the picture on the left.  That’s Amanda on her bike, ready to ride to the beach.  In about an hour the clouds disappeared.  The water temperature was perfect.  I spent more time in the water floating like a manatee in 2 days than I have during all the summer visits this year combined.  Last night, Brenda and I went into Rehoboth and had P1010315dinner at Claws.  It was great of course, plus I had a leftover fish breakfast this morning.  Bonus!

The only downside is that Labor Day traditionally marks the end of summer. Absolutely unbelievable how fast the summer went this year.  Once again, I feel as though I’ve wasted the summer.

Marshall Crenshaw wrote an angry song back in the early 1970′s, called “Summer’s Over.”  Some lyrics:

“I put my foot through my TV screen when I got up today…I’m mad, cause summer’s over.”

That song runs through my mind every Labor Day.

Happy Labor Day!

laborday[Originally published 9/2/2013, but lost when my stupid web host accidentally cancelled my account.]

The important thing to remember about Labor Day is that the word “labor” here does not mean “work,” it means organized labor, i.e.,  unions.  Labor Day was…well, let Professor Krugman give us a little history lesson:

It wasn’t always about the hot dogs. Originally, believe it or not, Labor Day actually had something to do with showing respect for labor.

Here’s how it happened: In 1894 Pullman workers, facing wage cuts in the wake of a financial crisis, went on strike — and Grover Cleveland deployed 12,000 soldiers to break the union. He succeeded, but using armed force to protect the interests of property was so blatant that even the Gilded Age was shocked. So Congress, in a lame attempt at appeasement, unanimously passed legislation symbolically honoring the nation’s workers.

It’s all hard to imagine now. Not the bit about financial crisis and wage cuts — that’s going on all around us. Not the bit about the state serving the interests of the wealthy — look at who got bailed out, and who didn’t, after our latter-day version of the Panic of 1893. No, what’s unimaginable now is that Congress would unanimously offer even an empty gesture of support for workers’ dignity. For the fact is that many of today’s politicians can’t even bring themselves to fake respect for ordinary working Americans….

(emphasis added).  I know that these days it’s not kewel  to speak well of unions.  And a lot of that of that is labor’s fault – some of them have become bureaucratic, some were taken laborday2over by organized crime for their juicy pension funds, but mostly they did not understand the relentless propaganda that the 1% would employ against them and they failed to rebut it.  They assumed, incorrectly it turns out, that reasonable people would ignore the nonsense, such as “right to work” for peanuts laws.  People forgot that their income is my spending, and my income is their spending.  If I (or a bunch of us) stop spending because I’m laid off, or I lose my house, or I’m sequestered, then your income goes down too.  You’re better off when we’re all better off.  Even crusty old arch-conservative Henry Ford understood this.  When confronted by his fellow top-hat-wearing one-percenters over the $5 a day he paid for his factory workers, he supposedly said:  “I got to pay them $5 a day.  If I don’t, they can’t afford to buy a Ford.”

Back in the 1950′s and 1960′s about 35% of American workers were unionized.  It was not so coincidentally, the peak years of the American middle class. Union membership fell off in the 1980′s and the middle class has been dwindling along with it. The data is clear in these two charts to ruin Labor Day.  Wages as a percentage of GDP (the overall economy) are at an all time low.  Blame it on de-unionization, tax policy, or to a lack of investment in education, but for whatever reason, gains in productivity have not translated into higher wages.

Here’s some Labor Day music from Irish commie union thugs the Dropkick Murphys.  Happy Labor Day!

New Bathroom

IMG_20140821_081300I called Mercea, the Romanian guy who installed our kitchen counter-tops, and did some other work for us a year or so ago..  He is the hardest working guy in the world, and is a bit of a perfectionist.  Just the kind of person you want doing remodeling for you.

He got here on Thursday morning with his helper, Robert.  First step: the demolition – the fun stuff.  Here he is removing the disgusting shower door and frame.

The house was built in the 1960′s, so the floor is plywood over the joists, then concrete, then metal mesh, then more concrete, then tile.  I remodeled the main bathroom, and it took me about a week to remove the floor and pull the tile and drywall off the walls.  These guys did it in about 6 hours, including two trips to the dump.

IMG_20140821_081313IMG_20140821_151813

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magic!  See that insulation on the outside wall?  It could not have been more than one inch thick at the very best.  Probably less.  And if you look closely, you can see there are many small areas with no insulation over them at all.  Worst insulation I’ve ever seen.  When the guys left, I went to Home Depot, bought some new Owens Corning R-15 insulation and put it up.  That alone should save me about One Million Dollars on my heating bill.  IMG_20140824_093036Sad thing is, that’s what’s around the rest of the house, except the two bathrooms.

By Saturday night, they had the new shower pan built, the Hardy-Backer concrete board around the shower, the new light in the shower, the electrical wiring and boxes moved around, all the inside-wall plumbing done, and the new drywall put up, including the first coat of jointing and taping.  Whew!  If I were doing this, it would now be Halloween…Thanksgiving?

Today he will come by and do the second coat of joint compound. [Update: joint compound still not dry.  He'll come back later this afternoon.]

Next two weekends will involve floor and wall tiles, grouting, installing and connecting the fixtures, and general tweaking.  Then I paint.

I’ll post pics as it progresses.

Two Years of Posts – Gone!

ralphwiggumMy webhost, Webhostingpad (the Ralph Wiggum of webhosts), cancelled my account and deleted my files based on a request from someone with a different name and a different email address than mine because, why not?   And did they send a notice of this to the official email address they have on file for me.  Ha ha.  They sent it to the  person who made the request.  Hilarious!

When I finally got it straightened out, the best they could do was put the website back the way it was in 2011 because that was the last time they backed it up.

They explained to me that once the website grows over a certain size they stop backing it up, and I should have known that because it was in that one million word listing of terms I agreed to when I signed on and clicked “OK.”  Do they tell you they are going to stop backing up?  Of course not.    God I hate them.  So,  All of the posts and your brilliant comments for the last 2 years are now gone…like tears…in the rain (Blade Runner reference).  Well, lots to do –  I gotta go.

stupidity

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!

Well, here’s an inspiring Christmas story.

Anonymous donors pay off Kmart layaway accounts
OMAHA, Neb. – The young father stood in line at the Kmart layaway counter, wearing dirty clothes and worn-out boots. With him were three small children.

He asked to pay something on his bill because he knew he wouldn’t be able to afford it all before Christmas. Then a mysterious woman stepped up to the counter.

“She told him, `No, I’m paying for it,’” recalled Edna Deppe, assistant manager at the store in Indianapolis. “He just stood there and looked at her and then looked at me and asked if it was a joke. I told him it wasn’t, and that she was going to pay for him. And he just busted out in tears.”

At Kmart stores across the country, Santa seems to be getting some help: Anonymous donors are paying off strangers’ layaway accounts,  …more…

Rock N’ Roll is back!

NPR had a great article about 5 bands that you should know by the end of 2011. JD McPherson is one of those bands. A rocker who’s taking it back to the start of the genre and with Christmas right around the corner this album should find it’s way into my stocking….yes, I still have a stocking. So What? Without further adieu…

More Changes

One of the three big oak trees in the front was leaning over the house.  I’ve been meaning to take it down before it fell onto Amanda’s room – a bad thing.  Since tree guy is already here, I guess now’s the time.  This is the tree that the carpenter ants were living in while they ate my porch.  You could see them marching in a perfect line from porch to tree all day long.  I’m hoping that with one of these oak trees gone, I might be able to grow some grass in front.  As usual, click on on the picture to embigen.

Faster! Faster!

Busy, busy, busy.  The poplar tree is almost down.  Too bad.  It was a nice tree.  But every year it’s been leaning a little more toward the dining room, and frightening me just that much more.  Here it is in stick form – click to embigen.  If I walked out into the backyard and took the picture, you could see how much it’s leaning, but that smacks of effort.  And it’s cold out there.  And I’d have to put my pants on.  It’s just all too much.

The concrete slab in the basement has been sinking as long as we’ve lived here, so I hired some guys to come out and pump a slurry of sand, cement and my money into holes drilled into the basement floor to fill the void and raise the slab a little.  They can’t raise it all the way because the previous owner built a bathroom down there & put in about 3″ of concrete on the floor.  But they can at least fill the void below the slab and keep it from sinking any more – and raise it a little.  There is currently about 8″ of air between the bottom of he concrete floor and the soil.  So every year, the slab slips down a little more.  This should stop it.  They started Tuesday, but it was raining and they use a machine that they fill with a couple tons of slurry and drive down the hill to the back.  But it was slipping, so after 6 hours and 12 trips back and forth, they quit.  They are coming back Monday and should finish.

Then there’s the bedroom.  It’s been the home of 3 teenage boys over the years.  Erin and Gabe gave cleaning it up a shot while they were living there, but it’s really too far gone for mere painting to fix.  So I had the CDC come out in their haz-mat suits and purge the room with flames and priests.    After the floor is leveled somewhat I need to paint the room, probably about 28 coats, buy a carpet, have it installed, and put up a door.  I guess I’d better get moving so that it’s done before Brian, Susan, Nick and Dane get here…in one week.  Oh, and I’ve bought no Christmas presents yet.  I gotta go…