Saturday, August 28, 2010

Awkwardly famous

Awkward Family Photos (and who doesn't love that site?) has finally posted the pic I sent them some time back. Click on the picture to visit the post.

Also, there is a growing list of hilarious comments on AFP on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Stephen Fry, seen here with a very attractive zoologist (at least the bird thought so):

...and to Austin-based Eliza Gilkyson, seen here on ACL, Hard Times in Babylon:

...and to me.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Another weekend burned

It's hot as blazes down here right now, we are in our extended period of temperatures over 100°F with humidity, so the heat indices have been up around 108-110 (today it’s predicted to be 104° with a "feels like" 110°). Nothing unusual, it's just August, and September will bring more of the same.

Friday night we went out to Threadgill's for some good old rockabilly and rock and roll – big and heavy on the Texas guitars, with the Leroi Brothers and Bill Carter & The Blame (this time with Will Sexton, David Holt, Denny Freeman, rhythm section: Andy Salmon and Chris Layton). It was most excellent, and in addition to that several of us were keeping an eye peeled for Johnny Depp, who had (reportedly) been spotted in a club the night before, (plausible rumor had it) that he was working on a minor or quicky project with Q. Tarantino & R. Rodriguez, but the only verified fact in the matter is that he and Bill are old friends. No Johnny but lots of hot rockin' guitar which made for a sweaty night. Interesting and expressive dancers in front of us too. ;-)

The rest of the weekend was for daytime shopping, which provided enough heat in our systems to hold us over and keep us in during the evenings (while it was still in the high 90s after dark!). Goodwill was very good to me with bargain jeans, and this brand new sun hat that the manufacturer and REI sell for $36 or more. My price: $3. MrB has one just like it (REI sells it as a man’s hat but it doesn’t look gender-specific to me or to the manufacturer which sells it in both categories) so now we can dress alike. Is there anything more adorable than a middle-aged couple with matching hats? You don’t even have to answer that.

Also got a new rain barrel, stylish in black. Now all we need is some rain to go in it, and maybe to cool things down to 99° if possible. That is supposed to happen later this week. Come on 99!

On to the Natural Gardener to look for yard art [check them out!], they have a big selection. I love these ants made from wires and rocks.
It’s a very animal-oriented place, even for a nursery. They have a large enclosure for a couple of donkeys, a chicken coop or two containing some really unusual and beautiful birds. There’s also a little cottage on the grounds that is fixed up for cats, with fancy screened cat runs on the outdoor part. Spatz here is one of several resident cats and he just might be one of the mellowest cats in the world. Here he is being cute on the checkout counter, cuddling in a made-for-cats crinkle-sack.

Natural Gardener one of the places where we’ve been looking for kitty memorial pieces. Jax’s ashes will go in the same area with the ashes of Alex and Duncan. This is what we picked out to go in the area. It’s as big as a real cat and made of cast stone, weighs 29 lbs. (pretty heavy!), and I like it a lot.

I can’t believe that we have reached a point in our lives where we only have one cat, and he is so very old and fragile that we know we need to make the best of the rest of our time together. Henry will be 19 next month, so it will not be very long until we are completely without pets. It will take a long time to get used to that, it will be a life-change.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The perfect laptop bottom

This is MrB's new accessory for his MacBook. A simple platform with a pull-out mousepad. No electronics involved. A perfect little device.
The funny part of it is that it's got System Requirements listed on the box, and they felt it was helpful to state that it works with both Mac and PC.
They really should have added that it's equally functional for both right- and left-handed setup, all you need to do is turn it around...
... plus it's unisex, and conceivably could be used by any species as well.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I'll get more sleep when I'm dead

One of my pet peeves is the numbered self-improvement list, they make it seem like you should really be able to do these easy steps! And if not... why not? This is easy.

Top 10 Ways to Lose Weight! 7 tips on Skin Care! 52 Tips on Happiness! And from one of the sites that's composed of these lists, there's 9 Ways to Tell if You Are a Self-Help Junkie. (Because you can't get enough self-help lists?)

Ohhh, I know there’s good advice there but lots of them are blatantly obvious things that fall under the category of “Well, duh. Do they think I am really so stupid that I didn’t think of that?”

Anyway, I am in a constant state of being sleep-deprived. Maybe that's why I'm such a curmudgeon and a cynic... hmm? I’ve read that people who get less than 6 hours of sleep per night are much more likely to die an early death. Just one more statistic to keep me up at night worrying.

Here are a few helpful lists, many with very similar advice and tips in varying degrees of severity. [unnumbered sleep tips] [33 secrets] [10 tips from WebMD] [7 hidden ways] [7 ways to get the best sleep ever - CNN]

They contain common suggestions such as giving up caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate) after dinner (which is assumed to be at 6PM), and at least one said no caffeine after lunch.

Then for 2-3 hours before bed (5:30-6:30PM on recommended schedule) there should be no (1) alcohol, (2) hot baths or showers, (3) exercise.

Right before bed, which for me would have to be 8:30PM (to get 8 hrs sleep), there should be no (1) stress, (2) studying, (3) emailing, blogging, tweeting, texting or facebooking, (4) television - especially scary TV, (5) reading in a bright light, only dim lights allowed and no scary books or homework. The room should be very dark with no flickering light like TV. You should be relaxing or even meditating. Non-caffeinated or carbonated drinks are allowed, but it may as well be water [refer to the lists on weight loss and skin care]. Oh yeah, and no pets on the bed.

My life Monday through Friday:

4:30AM to 7AM
Hit the alarm, fix coffee, pack breakfast/lunch, serve morning canned cat food, medicate cat, computer (email, work, etc), shower, get dressed and drive on the highway.

7AM to 4PM
Sit in an office, chilly and windowless, working at a computer.

4PM to 10PM
Drive for an hour, run errands (usually), prepare and eat dinner (that's between 6:30 and 8PM), wash dishes and clean, medicate cat, 1-2 hours of TV, wind down on computer with either “me” time or freelance work (it is necessary to multitask to get all that in). Never in bed before 10PM. Never. And hardly ever asleep before 11PM. That’s 5.5 hours before the next alarm goes off.

Soooo, I get home at 5 and have to have dinner over by 6. That leaves only a couple of hours for everything else, but a lot of my favorite TV shows will be missed because of starting too late, and movies on DVD last too long so I will have to give them up too... Basically I will be doing chores and nothing else. Oh yeah... and it might be tricky getting the room really dark while the SUN is still out!!

I think the list makers may have had a 4-year-old in mind. Sounds about right. Well, here it is after 10 and I'm still up. Better get going. Night night.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A little help

Last week, MrB sent me an email with the subject line "don't freak out." He was letting me know that a former co-worker was going to be staying with us for a bit, someone who was down on their luck and had become homeless. Also in the email was the forwarded email from the guy mentioning that he was a vet with good survival skills. OK, I have to admit that I did freak out a little.

See, when I was growing up (just me and my mother as my dad was gone most of the time), my mother would always take in strays... and by that I mean stray people. She would take in anybody at all, any bum, any hitchhiker, anyone met in a bar or on the street or friend of a friend, anyone who told her that they didn't have a place to stay. We nearly always had guys using an extra bedroom or just the couch. Sometimes this turned out OK and sometimes it wasn't so great. For example, a friend I went to high school with was working with another guy at the funeral home and he just gotten to town and had nowhere to stay so he was invited in. He was soft-spoken, as good-looking as a model, and was clean and tidy. His fake name was "Sonny" (we didn't know it was a fake name until later). To shorten the story, "Sonny" and I started getting on each other's nerves, and he moved out to stay with a cousin of mine, who also got him a job at the factory where he worked. A few weeks later, here comes the FBI surrounding our house with guns at the ready -- looking for "Sonny," who, as it turned out, had been in the Army when he had lost his temper, killed his Sergeant with a hammer, and went AWOL. A similar FBI event then occurred at my cousin's place (and this time the guns were drawn) where Sonny had just moved on again, but they did arrest him, finally. My cousin mentioned that he saw Sonny go apeshit violent on a vending machine at the factory. Well, vending machines ARE maddening sometimes, especially for the short-tempered.

That was one of the scariest house-guest events we had. There were a few drug dealers and con-men. One man said if she gave him some money, he promised that he would go out to Hollywood where he had connections, and get her a date with Tony Bennett and me a date with Mickey Dolenz (not making this up, folks... HE was though). My mother was 100% gullible though. She waited for that letter of invitation...

Then there the kid who said his dad kicked him out of the house and just needed to crash on the couch, he also claimed to be 17. Turns out, he was a Detective's son who was underage (16) and on probation that was being violated, which led to the arrest of my mother for contributing to the delinquency of a minor for harboring him (plus they locked up nearly everybody at the house except for me on drug charges) followed by her descent into life-ruining paranoia -- but she still continued to always take in a
needy stranger. I know that this was partly due to having spent some time out there on the road [see My Mother Was a Teenaged Hobo].

It wasn't always strangers. I had some cousins who had a bad habit of just showing up and moving in with us or with mother's parents, because they knew they wouldn't turn anyone away. Their length of stay would be undetermined, they would just show up and not leave, and they didn't always help with the money part. So the way I was brought up and the life we led made me not be inclined to turn anyone away, especially if they are really needy, but at the same time to be very wary of the situation.

Back to the “don’t freak out” email, I didn’t think there was any good reason not to offer food and shelter in this case, even though I didn’t know the person. MrB set up ground rules that it would just be 2 nights, smoking has to be done outside, and the only meat served in this house is cat food (to a cat). The smoking rule was unnecessary, as the guy turned out to be a non-smoker, non-drinker, health nut type (a marathon runner, in fact). He was very intelligent and articulate. He had put all his possessions in a storage compartment, getting around on a Vespa and living out of a backpack. Other than a change of clothes the pack contained a laptop, cell phone and some crisp, clean resumes. He had a LinkedIn profile with an impressive work history on it, which included being a veteran. The way he became homeless was through a hit to investments (I think we all went through that to some degree recently), then he needed a barrage of medical tests (which turned up nothing very serious but ran up a bill of $25,000), and strike three was the loss of his job. The hard reality is that most folks who aren’t wealthy can become homeless after a couple of hard knocks – any combination of job loss, death of partner, loss of savings, medical crises, man-made disasters, "act of God" disasters... so many things can happen that can wipe you out...

He was really very hopeful and confident about getting back on his feet - setting up interviews and networking. We don't even have a spare bed in this house - it has been oriented toward these cats - one spare bedroom is a "cat room" and is occupado, the other is my "junk room" which is filled with prized collectibles (but no bed or even room for one), and the spare guest bath is only recently freed up due to Jax no longer needing it for his private room. So it was the junk room floor with padding and linens. I actually whipped up and served a couple of sit-down dinners (something I am dreadful at due to lack of experience or desire) and we had dinner at the table plus after-dinner conversations. After the 2 nights he made other arrangements. He was keeping his promise and said that a friend of his had wired enough money to get by on for awhile - but I found myself worrying about whether he had shelter or not.

It's really hard to know when or whether you've done enough, or too much, been too selfish or too generous... and I just think that you can't know until you try... and maybe not even then. Just do what feels right and hope for the best in the end.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Furbaby Friday - Henry's Crib

I bought this decorative little rocking crib at Marshall's many years ago, just something to go with our undeniable cat motif - and the cats actually used it as a little bed! This is Henry, just a couple of weeks back. I think he realizes that it's hard to give him a pill if he's tucked away in this bed that's half hidden away behind the electric heaters that won't be needed until probably December.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Oh, the horror... from the Library!

This graphic was posted by Roger Ebert on twitter, who is really worth a follow. We broke down and watched the first 2 Twilight movies which we checked out of the Library. Verdict: They are designed mostly for 12 year old girls (and some boys). It's exactly the kind of thing that fits the fantasies of girls that age, being the focus of the obsessions of really, really cute society-outcast man-boys who are eternally in love with you and want to marry you, but aren't actually going to take away your purity... you will just smolder in endless sexual tension and love gazes. The CG wolves are really just so-so. And, oh yeah, it's gotta be Edward. Are you kidding? It's a duh, Jacob isn't offering anything. Of course, I say that without seeing the 3rd movie. Anyway, you can rent these and watch them with the older kids and probably your mom and grandma too. There's no sex. NEXT!

The William Castle Collection.
A boxed set of eight B-movies plus a feature on Castle himself and lots of extras on the disks. We didn't have time to get through all of these, but I will watch Joan Crawford or Vincent Price in anything, and we will be getting this set back into our queue again. The B&W ones were very entertaining, but the color movies were the kind that might make you want that time back.

Fox Horror Classics, vol. 2. (Chandu the Magician / Dr. Renault's Secret / Dragonwyck).
Really enjoyed all of these, although Dragonwyck (with Vincent Price) is really not a horror movie at all, and I would not call it a B-movie either. Chandu has Bela Lugosi as the villain, and all the French people in Dr. Renault's Secret have British accents for some reason. How odd. No spoilers offered, sorry.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Alpha Rev

Originally saw this band in 2008 as an opening act for Del Castillo (at the same venue, the Nutty Brown). We were always meaning to get out and see them again, even though it took a couple of years for us to get around to it. Since then they have acquired quite a bit of buzz surrounding them, and have become quite a hot, up-and-coming Indie band. Some of their music has been picked up for use in TV and movies (including The Sorcerer's Apprentice, which is likely a stinker - but glad the band gets a boost from it anyway) as well as a recent bump via Huffington Post. They put on an excellent show, and have definitely got a posse of fans.

Here's an official video for the title track of their record:

This is a very unplugged version of them, and sounds like the same group of cicadas that were in abundance on Friday have been following the band around.


Friday, August 06, 2010

Jimmy Page at 13

Jimmy Page in 1957 at age 13 (give or take a few months). This is a hoot, people.
found via Facebook.
(no that's not him in the thumbnail image there)
Direct link on Youtube

Thursday, August 05, 2010

A disturbing trend

Pet dog gnaws off disabled woman's toe
Dog was a miniature dachshund, and the woman was sleeping.
"It's hard to take in when you walk in a room and there's a dog eating your mom," Elizabeth said, sobbing. "She told me to come in, and I dropped my phone and took off running. I didn't think when I went in there I was going to see that."

Man's Puppy Chews Off Four Of His Toes
This is a paralyzed sleeping man.
It appears the five-month-old pit bull mix named China, was playing with her owner's feet and ended up taking off all the toes, except the big toe on his left foot.

Cantrell says the dog is harmless and has never been violent in the past.

Authorities: Pit bull chewed off baby's toes
You should have to pass a mother test before breeding.
Deputies say the child's mother, Robie Lynn Jenkins, and her boyfriend, Tremayne Spillman, were dog-sitting for a man arrested Saturday night for illegal possession of a gun.

Jenkins told police she was on medication and didn't hear the child crying during the night while she slept in the same room. She said she didn't discover the injury until she changed the child's diaper Monday morning.

Dog chews off Michigan man's toe, saves his life
And the latest story in the series, this was a Jack Russell terrier, and the man was drunk and otherwise unaware of certain circumstances. He was a musician, and I have to think that maybe this will, at the very least, inspire a song.
"The dog always lays with me on the bed," said Douthett. "That night, I woke up and looked down at my foot, and it was wet. When I looked it was blood, and there was the dog looking at me with a blood mustache."

Monday, August 02, 2010

Uncommon Objects

This is the the most wonderful antique/collectible store you ever saw in your life. It's called Uncommon Objects, and it is brimming with all wonderful stuff that you, your parents or grandparents ever owned, plus all the stuff you wanted as a kid, plus everything ever advertised at the roadhouse shacks... and then some.

I really only took a few shots that don't even scratch the surface. Each item is fascinating. You can click on the ones below to view a lot larger. Here's a bunch of white violins and bows and a stuffed goose... a real one.

You can't have too many.

Here's that Stack of Bibles you've heard so much about.

Be sure the monkey is on the package.

Yes, it's a collection of very, very old cheese, and it resides in an old suitcase.

They know me too well.

Smiling monkey. This was for the kids' room. It gave them nightmares.

Give them an inch, they'll take a foot.

A classic.

This is rotated counter-clockwise, that's why the price tag seems to be defying gravity. It's a metal sign. My feet do feel like that sometimes.

We were looking for a marker for Jax. This looks great, but it's painted wood and wouldn't do well outdoors. Grrrrr.

Oh Ken! You are such a slave to fashion!

I'm left speechless by this one.

Three adorable skunks.

Mona Lisa!! Yes, it's a painting.

Hubba hubba.

Uncommon Objects on South Congress is a must-see if you ever visit this town.
[update 2019: now located on Fortview in South Austin]

Sunday, August 01, 2010


It's been quiet around the Oasis here. Still grieving over Jax, and I wonder if I will ever be completely sure that we did the right thing. I guess that kind of remorse comes with every big decision, no matter which way it goes.

It's a blue funk.

Also, there are the ghosts... expecting to be greeted at the door, mistaking items made of dark fabric for him, checking my chair legs before rolling back.
Just a week after that ordeal, I came down with a cold and was sick for most of the past week. Sick and tired. That sums it up. Time is needed for healing, change, and balance. Life is different now...

Dawes: Give Me Time

Photos: a couple of new murals in the area of Magnolia Cafe, SoCo, artist: Broken Crow