Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Spreading a (Very) Little Sunshine

Gasoline is very scarce here. Some people are waiting in line in some places up to five hours. Wal-Mart (Murphy) had none last night, and Exxon had only regular. Cole has a baseball tournament in Myrtle Beach this coming weekend. They have reserved a campsite. The gas situation is even worse there than it is here in the Upstate. I hope they don’t get marooned. Their Expedition gets about 9 miles to the gallon when towing the camping trailer.

Last week when I spoke to the broker who suggested that we put our IRA into an AIG annuity, I asked that he send us the documents necessary to withdraw our funds. He hasn’t sent them. There is the ongoing investigation that began a couple of years ago concerning their accounting practices (brings Enron to mind), and now the FBI is instituting a new investigation into possible mortgage fraud. WE WANT OUR MONEY AND WE WANT IT NOW! I realize that taking our money out is not the best idea (rather like rats deserting a sinking ship), but I’m sure that the amount we have in there seems a pittance to AIG. We could be left with nothing if the worst happens. Those of us with the least need it the most.

I went to the doctor last week for a checkup. Things aren’t so hot; liver function out of whack, kidneys not up to par, glucose levels up, and blood pressure up. There’s not much to be done about the kidneys and liver except to watch my diet (I’ve been watching it all along—going to hell in a handbasket). He increased the insulin and blood pressure medication. He also said that I should monitor my blood pressure. Having that gauge makes me feel like a hypochondriac.

Monday the periodontist performed a little surgery on my mouth. It didn’t hurt during the procedure, but it hurts like a son-of-a-gun now. The ends of the stitches are hanging down in my mouth. Gross! I thought the pain factor would be like having an extraction. I’ve never had to take pain medication for extractions, but I am very happy to have it now. It makes me sleep all day though.

Yesterday I was sitting on the deck reading (and feeling miserable) when a hummingbird darted within a couple of feet of my head. He hovered over the hibiscus blossoms for a bit before flying past me again. If I hadn’t ducked, he would have hit me smack dab in the forehead.

Our country is in the midst of the worst financial crisis since 1929, we are fighting wars on two different fronts, we are all being affected by energy crisis, and another tropical depression is forming in the Atlantic. So why is Clay Aiken's sexual orientation all over the news? Does anyone really give a hoot? Not me, that's for sure (insert old codgerette grumbling here).

Enough of this doom and gloom! The weather this week has been absolutely glorious! Bright blue skies, fluffy clouds, and temperatures in the high seventies. I can’t ask for better than that!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Great American Bail-out

The events of the past week have been upsetting for Mr. Fixit and me. If not for the government bail-out, we could have lost what little we have in an annuity with AIG. Thank heavens, it seems to be safe for now. I hope it lasts until we can remove our money without having to pay penalties for early withdrawal.

How did this great country of ours come to this? Is it, as some say, a product of de-regulation? Is it corporate greed and corruption? Is it corruption in government? It has occurred to me that there is enough fault to go around, but I haven’t heard anyone say that perhaps we, your average citizens, have contributed to this mess. We live beyond our means; we drive expensive gas-guzzlers because everyone else has one; we give our children too much. Our credit card debt is astronomical. We think we can’t live in a house without all the modern conveniences. We have accepted some banker’s opinion that we can pay outrageous mortgage payments only to find that our carefully planned budgets do not allow for the countless unforeseen expenditures that crop up. We have failed to take responsibility by trusting in someone’s judgment other than our own, and now some of us are now losing our homes to foreclosures that have lead to this financial crisis.

Maybe we will learn from the events of last week, but being the cynic I am, I doubt it. I’m not one of those people could easily give up those luxuries that I have become accustomed to and dependent upon. It’s a little scary to think that in the future we may not have the choice of giving up a few luxuries for the sake of necessities. It could forced upon us by the financial mismanagement of the government and us, as individuals.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tallulah Gorge

We went for a drive and re-discovered Tallulah Falls, Georgia, and Tallulah Gorge. The gorge is 900 feet deep. You can’t see the depth from the pictures, but it is breathtaking. I couldn’t get within about 10 feet of the edge. I have a little problem with heights. Mr. Fixit took the pictures for me. I want to go back after the leaves start to turn. It should be spectacular!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Case of the Disappearing Kibble

(Cue the "Twilight Zone" music)

It happened again--the mysterious, disappearing cat food. This is an account of the first time I experienced this phenomenon (posted Dec. 11, 2007).

"I spilled about a cup of dry cat food on the carpet. I brought out the hand vac to clean it up. It seemed to be working just fine. Then I picked up the vac and saw that the brush was simply brushing the kibble backward. I then removed the hose to stop the brush spinning and used the hose to pick up the mess. I thought the job had been completed satisfactorily. Then I took the bag off to empty it; there was no cat food mixed in with the dust. I shook the vac; no rattling kibble. I knew that it was sucked up by the hose; I watched it go in. I tried to take the vac apart; I could only get the handle off. I did discover that there is no way for the kibble to go anywhere but into the bag. One of life’s little mysteries."

Again, I spilled the cat chow on the carpet. Again, I used the hand vac to clean up the mess. Again, when I emptied the bag there was no kibble in the bag! There was a meager handful of brownish dust. It was powder fine. Could this be the cat food? This vacuum is a Black & Decker; as far as I know, it does NOT have the capability of grinding the detritus into dust. It barely picks up the lint on the carpet on the steps.

Again, I ask--Where the heck is the sucked up cat food?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Bathroom Technology

Bathroom technology very interesting to me. When I was a little girl living in the mountains of Tennessee, I discovered the toilet that needed no flushing (the outhouse). Just think! Prior to moving to the mountains, I always had to flush.

The next big leap in bathroom technology, I suppose, were those hand driers in public restrooms. You push a button and warm air comes out of a tube on the machine and dries your hands. Actually, you have to hold your hands under the stream of air for at least five minutes to get them dry enough to finish the job by drying your hands on your clothes. Someone thinks these little machines work so well that paper towels are no longer available in some restrooms.

Now we don’t even have to turn on the water; just pass your hands under the faucet and,Voila! Water comes gushing out. Handleless faucets! What a marvel!

Today I discovered the latest thing in public restroom technology. I found a restroom that actually offered both the hot-air drier and paper towels. I opted for the paper towels. I tried to pull the towel out of the dispenser, but it appeared to be stuck. I then noticed a red light on the front of the dispenser. Could this be the answer? An electric eye? A motion detector? I passed my hand in front of the little red light, and, lo and behold, the machine spat out a paper towel. Wow! How neat is that?

Of course, this towel dispenser may not be new. Normally, I don’t “do” public restrooms. I once drove 890 miles in 16 hours without using the roadside facilities, so this improvement may have been around for a while. I must admit,I was quite taken with this invention. When I told Mr. Fixit about this innovation, he offered a rather pithy description of the next innovation in restroom technology. Being the refined, elderly lady that I am, I won’t repeat it.