Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Did I miss something?

Well the other day I was all serious and prepared for a Hurricane Sandy.  Went to the store, got water for the dogs - they can't live on Diet Pepsi like we men can - bought batteries, charged up the lanterns, took out the air conditioning units and we waited.

And the barometer went down, down, down to 720mmHG (millimeters of Mercury) according to our 1800s Dutch made device, which in US units means we crashed through the 29.00 that you find on U.S. barometers.  I got a headache, the husband got a headache, and the dogs just became lethargic as the eye of Hurricane Sandy passed over us.  A lot of atmospheric pressure will do things to you.

And then at 8:30 last night the power went down, so I went to bed, and the husband joined me at 10:30PM and when we woke up, Pffft, she was done.

I mean, after the eye of that type of storm goes over you, you should get horrible winds.  But it never happened.   Seriously

Oh, don't get me wrong, things got very blowy outside last night, and we got some water in our basement and down the chimney - about two buckets full down the flue - but nothing that shook the house, or toppled trees.

And Hell's bells, even our power came back on at 3PM, just in time to watch a horrible 1960s WWII picture called from Hell to Eternity.  But it was worse waiting for the blasted thing than it was riding it out.

The talk on the street is that the gay couple who live in the Manor House (our neighborhood was once a country retreat, and the old place is still standing and totally boffo) said their windows on the north leaked.

Praise be to God, because this could have been a lot worse.

That said, Cookie knows that New York City, New Jersey and up the coast got slammed.  And God love those idiots who live on the beach and keep rebuilding and keep driving rescue personnel to go looking for them.  You think that they would learn.  

But here, things are almost back to normal, as normal can be.

I thank you for your thoughts.  And MJ got my recipe before the lights went out, so all is well with the world.

If any of you survived, let us know.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Weather: Hurricane

Well, unless you have been living under a rock (like Norma), then you know that Hurricane Sandy is getting ready to pay the Mid Atlantic and New England a visit.

Its a bit of the first for the Husband and I as it is the first Hurricane in our new house, in our new city of Baltimore.   And for once, dear Jason over at the Night Is Half Gone doesn't have to ride out a major storm!

Because husband works in the energy field, he gets hourly weather updates (or is it bi-hourly?) and he started getting a bit concerned earlier in the week.

On Tuesday, the models had it going every which way imaginable, but what got the husband concerned was the "European" model which looked as if it was taken dead aim at the Delmarva (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia) region.  Later in that day the model came out that had Sandy coming on shore just to the south of Baltimore.

The latest that we have heard, as for tonight is that Sandy is slowing down, gathering strength and it now appears that she'll make landfall to the north of here - in the vicinity of Cape May, New Jersey, and the head for New York City.

Thats the good news, for us.  We've had plenty of time to get ready, and we're on high ground.  No need for sandbags.  We have plenty of batteries, bottled water, canned goods that can be heated easily and a couple logs that can be burned for heat, and a horde of Halloween candy meant for the neighborhood moppets.

If things get dire (and they won't), I suppose we could eat the dogs.  Or they could eat us.  

And we know not to throw our lot in with C. Aubry Smith by taking refuge in a masonry church with all sorts of high waves crashing into the shore.  At least Felix will get that obscure reference.

Now the bad news - the weather front to the west of us is going to combine with Sandy and it's going to send Stormzilla into Virginia, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and points north and east.  Weather forecasters are saying parts of West Virginia could be in for more than four feet of snow, with winds.

And that means power could be disrupted.  And going into the final few days before the election it could be disastrous if votes can be cast.

So, I am asking, over the next few nights before you get ready for bed, please think of the people in the path of storm.  If it isn't bad, well then, you can call me an alarmist.  And if it is bad, well, these folks will need all the good karma in the world.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Things lost and found: NBC's Red Movie Zipper

There are a lot of things that I miss about TV, and what it used to be.  I for one HATE reality TV because it has nothing to do with reality.  Just bitch fights and marginally entertaining people and HYPE.  Oh, my God, the hype.  And there are dozens and dozens and dozens of channels that carry all sorts of programming, and none of it has anything to do with what the channel was set up to do in the first place.  When was the last time you saw a music video on MTV or VH1?  And WWF on SciFi, which is now SyFy? WTF.

There used to be a time when TV networks were all you got when you flipped on the TV, if you were lucky AND had a good antenna.   The networks brought you escapism entertainment, which is what TV should be all about.

Cable?  We didn't have no stinking cable.  We had aerials and bunny ears, damnit.   If you were really lucky, your parents spent money on an Alliance Tene-Rotor, a device that allowed you to remotely turn your antenna to get better reception using a black box on the top of your TV.  You set the dial (N, W, S, E or degree in between) and the Tene-Rotor did the rest.  And to prove it was doing it, the box let out a horrific KERR-CHUNK noise for each degree that the antenna moved.  It was as loud as someone dropping a piano out of a third story window and hitting the pavement.  Oy!  And you had to be careful that you didn't

And color TV's? Oh, Pish!

We had two large RCA cabinet TV's in our house - one in the living room (back when people actually LIVED in that room) and one in my parents bedroom.  They were in blond wood cases, and you turned the channel by getting up and rotating a big meaty gray plastic dial on the side.  For the first six years of my life the Wizard of OZ was a black and white movie, period.   We got our first color TV when I was five and it was a "portable" model that took two men to carry around.  What made it portable wasn't a handle, it was that it didn't have a piece of furniture around it and indeed sat on a cart with casters.  But IT came with UHF!  We didn't get a TV with remote controls until my mother got the color TV that she had bought for her mother when Grandma was dying of cancer.  When grandma died, we got TV with a remote control.

And we knew who people like Shelia MacCrea were.  They were people we aspired to know.  And we watched shows like Password because they challenged us to think.

And then there was that great Password theme music, too!

Today you have this Snooky business. Who wanted to know anyone named Snooky?  Snooky is what your aunt called your uncle when she wanted to have sex, and it was always done in a secretive fashion.  "C'mon on here, Snookie," was your clue to get out of there.

And then there were the movies.  Each network gave over a night to movies because it was the Reality Programming of its era. Sunday night was a big night for movies.  So were Tuesday nights.  And in rerun season, Saturday night movies came around for people too cheap to take their wives out to see a show.

Major movies eventually made it to TV in the days before HBO, Showtime and movies on demand.  And because they were cheap to make, the networks started producing their own movies - a trend that came to the forefront in the early 1970s when ABC launched its "ABC Movie of the Week" franchise.  Some were great - like Steven Spielberg's "Duel" featuring Dennis Weaver V. a truck.   Some were creepy - like the Cloris Leachman drama "Someone I Touched" where Cloris' husband gives her VD and it ends up ruining everyones life.  Others - "Gidget Gets Married" were downright terrible.  Still, I think what people remember about the Movie of the Week was it's theme - a Bert Bacharach number called "Nikki" that was more popular in the 70's than it was in the 60s when he first wrote it.

And the movies came on TV with big splashy graphics, just like at the movie theatres so you knew it was an "event", not just another program.   At commercial breaks you would get something called a "bumper", which was a brief musical video thing that reminded you to come back to the TV, as the commercials were about to end.

You can find many of these sequences on YouTube that date to the "video" recorder era.  But the earlier ones are hard to find because owning video equipment in the 1960s was an expensive hobby.

This is one of the rare introductions - the NBC Red Zipper that ran from the mid 1960s until NBC hit rock bottom in the mid 1970s.

When you hear this music SOMETHING BIG is on its way.

I don't know much about the movie, Climb Angry An Moutain other than it was one of, if not the last film that Fess Parker did.   The fanfare music was written by Ray Lewis.  My father's cousin Arnold played oboe in numerous Hollywood Orchestras from the 1940s through the 1980s and was in on this number.  Anyway, this appeared on YouTube a number of years ago, then it was removed. Now it's back on. Gotta love YouTube.

Eventually, NBC retired the zipper theme and began relying a great deal on it's successful Sunday Night Mystery Movie franchise.  Its seemed at one point they were running on almost every night.

But then cable came along and that lead to the Premium movie channels with deep pockets and eventually, with the exception of ABC showing the Sound of Music or the Ten Commandments, drove network TV out of the movie showing business by the late 1990s.

I miss these things every now and then.  Technology is a marvellous thing, but sometimes I think there are so many advances that we forget how it used to be, and we forget the things that used to be special - like a movie on network TV on a rainy night when you just wanted to stay home and relax.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Meanwhile, over at The Infomaniac...

...Mistress MJ is tapping her tiny, lady-like toe waiting for recipes for her Kitchen Queen contest.

Cookie has MANY recipes to tease the palate; the problem is cooking them in this wreck of a kitchen at the new Casa Del Cookie.   It's so bad (and how bad is it?) that Cookie and the husband are taking the drastic step of doing an intermediate remodel that will see us through the next five years until we can afford the kitchen of our dreams and start knocking down walls.

We'll post pictures as this stop gap measure comes into focus, best lest you think that we are throwing good money away at bad space, we are going to reuse someone else's kitchen at a fraction of the price.  How can this be, you ask.  Well Cookie found a place in Baltimore called Second Chance that trains people coming out of prison how to carefully dismantle unloved houses (and unloved rooms in houses) and salvage everything so it can be repurposed.  Some of these kitchens are ten years old and look like brand new.  And they cost about an eighth of what a new material would cost.

The challenge is that you may have to over buy to get what you want.  So we could end up spending a couple grand to buy a kitchen and only use half the cupboards.  AND because you take everything, it becomes a bit of a puzzle because our room is not the room that these were purchased new. But for storage and counterspace?  I'm all in.

People learn skills, this stuff stays out of landfills and Cookie gets a kitchen with only  the price of a new countertop to speak of.  What's not to love?

IN THE MEANWHILE we wonder if any of you have ever been to James Lileks wonderful web site, The Gallery of Regrettable Food.  The site pays homage to the illustrated cookbook books of yore, mostly from the post WWII era when our mothers and grandmothers thought adding a can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup over a meatloaf dinner equaled fancy French Cooking.  To whet your appetite I give you this, with James Lileks comments, complete and unedited:

Sayeth Mr. Lileks: "One gets the impression of peas re-enacting the evacuation of Dunkirk."

If you have NEVER been to the Gallery of Regrettable Food, quick: click on the glowing Jell-O mold below and enjoy.

Friday, October 19, 2012


So, we made it through yesterday.  The inspection is done BUT hubby can't get his plates until the credit union sends out his Ohio title.  Auto Registratious Interuptus, you could say.

We learned this from "May I help you?  My Name Muriel" , who works at Tuggle's Tags.  In Maryland you can either wait it out at the MVA and have a state employee abuse you while they are inputting your information, or you can go to a tag agency and pay a "tax" of $50 and enjoy no waiting lines.

It was Murial who said "Well, I dunno...let me see...what state you from?  OH-Hya?  Yeah, let me see.  Let me see, let me see. Let. Me See.  Yes, we can do this. Uh huh?  Yes.

At the end of the "let me sees" and the "Yes we can do this" we discovered that no, we can't do it.

Muriel can't do it because she needs "I need the, hold on.  I need the actual... I need the actual... I need the actual ti- hold on here, yeah.  I can't do anything until you get the actual title from the lien holder."

So he pulls out his phone and starts to dial and "May I help you?  My Name Muriel" says "Sir.  Sir. Sir. Sir.  You can't use that he-year.  You got to go outside and use that there smart phone thingy.  No cellphones  no smart phones.  Only my phone."

Anyway we ordered the actual title, and that'll take a week.  Now what.

Husband announces that if can't get his plates, then we are going to buy a gas log for the fireplace.  Kinda random, but off we go.

So we go to Home Depot.  "Online only, sir."

So we go to Lowe's. They have crap.

And then we end up at Walker's "Patio and Hearth" and it looked expensive.

And it was.

Husband says we need a gas insert and "Debi" takes us over to the wall of fireplaces, sits us down in leather recliners that massage and vibrate and she starts the show.  Suddenly, the wall of fireplaces looks like Atlanta in the burning sequence from Gone with The Wind.

Debi does her spiel and I'm getting relaxed in the chair and the husband likes the one on the right.  When Debi tells me it comes with a remote, I'm good too.  Fire.  Remote. Leather massaging recliner, its all good.

And how much is this?

Four thousand dollars.

Say WHAT?  For ceramic logs?  I start to hyperventilate.

Oh, says Debi.  "You only want a gas fireplace?  These are fire place inserts.  Gas logs are a different department."

That's in a different room.  No recliners.  No multi-media presentation.  No jazzy names.

But the logs look nice.

And how much is this?



We left with a set - American Chestnut with the "Ambi-Burn" system.  Glowing embers are extra.

But seriously - $1,100???  And no vibrating chair?

These had better be some great ass logs.

The Stone's sang that you don't always get what you need, sometimes you get what you need.  And Mother Karma evidently thinks that gas logs are more important that license plates.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

And we are once again waiting...

Today we are waiting yet again.  This time for the husband's Ford Escape to be inspected.  We tried to go to the dealership's "quiet room", but there is an old couple with an off putting odor around them.  The husband believes that one of them depended too much on their adult diapers.  AND THEY ARE SPEAKING VERY LOUD BECAUSE THEY FORGOT THEIR HEARING AIDS.

So we are sitting in the general waiting room area.   And the only seats available are by the door to the employee bathroom.  Charming.

In the kiddie waiting area, three blond moppets are playing away on the dealership's collection of broken toys.  We think this is good as it builds character in life, and a healthy imagination.

There are several people on their cell phones, yabbering away and the young man standing at the parts counter to the left of it all is relieving the latest episode of The Arrow to a dimwitted employee.

There is one good looking man, but that he acts like he knows that he is good looking negates that.

So while I type, the husband is happily reading back issues of People and Entertainment Weekly.

This is my life for the day.  Hooray!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fake Tan: Epic Fail

This is not a photoshopped image with some dork's head cut 'n pasted onto the body of a an African American body builder.  This actually happened at the Arnold Classic Europe Competition.

Evidently Contestant #49 was too fixated on looking good when he should have been focused on looking his best.

The "Ah-nold" was first set up in Columbus, Ohio where the U.S. Version of the competition still happens every March.  And if it isn't something to see, then parking yourself in the hotel dining rooms each morning is to see the men whose necks are bigger than my thighs choking down massive amounts of proteins is worth the trip.

As for the fake tan stuff...

Then they roll it on like Spread Satin?   Really?  I love to paint - sign me up!

More on this here

Bulova Watch Time, circa 1979

For some reason, this got dragged up from my memory bank.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Charm City Confidential: Let the latest shakedown begin

Living in Maryland you soon discover that everything is taxed.  Whereas nothing is taxed in the state of Delaware, save property, and clothes and food are free of tax in Pennsylvania, in Maryland you start feeling like you are going to have to start paying taxes on the taxes you are paying.

Not that Cookie is complaining, far from it, because you get stuff because people pay tax.  I don't mean that I, Cookie get anything personally, but the roads are good, the services are good and the arts are well funded.   And in general, except from that part of Baltimore where it really is like "The Wire", its a nice place to live.

The husband refers to these taxes as "The Shakedown" because they pop up in the usual places, but also in the more unusual places, too.

Today's Shakedown is taking place at a car dealership, where we are having my car inspected so we can get it registered in Maryland.

In Ohio an out of state car is registered via a trip to the DMV.  Show proof of ownership, they check it against the VIN number, and then you have to go to the Clerk of Courts to pay for your registration and get your title. THEN you have to go to a license bureau and get your plates.

In Maryland you do the same thing BUT a car repair place FIRST gets to combover your car and inspect everything - from ball joints to the click of your safety belts.  THEN they try and shake you down for the repairs of the things that fail.  Of course you can always take your car to another inspection place, but they are hoping that you let them "repair" your car.

So I did some homework and found a Toyota dealer that has a better than average rating on Angies List, so we are hoping that the Prius gets through on flying colors.

But it is the next step where Maryland, sweet Maryland fucks you raw.  You see, you have to pay them the difference in sales tax on the car that you paid when you bought the car.

Let's say that I, Cookie, bought the Prius in December, 2010, and used at that.   I paid 5.5% sales tax to Ohio on the sales price.  Baltimore County has a sales tax rate of 6%, making the net difference of .5% that I have to pay to Maryland on this car.

So it's annoying.  But what are you going to do?

So hear I sit in the quiet room at the dealer giving dirty looks to a woman who is on her cell phone.  I wouldn't really mind it if her conversation was interesting, but its mostly grunts, Mmmyeah's and Uh-huh's.

Luckily, when comes to my Merry Oldsmobile, I don't have to worry about it because that have no way of pegging its market value.   So it pays to be 50 years old, for once.

Still, I won't know when this opera is over until the Service Manager sings my name.   If you all hear a scream in the distance, it'll be Cookie, with a request to do any work over a $100 on a perfectly sound car.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Where were you in '62?

We just bought this album, original, MINT and unopened. 

PR Shot taken from the act they performed at the Stardust.

The DeCastro's* play the Stardust Lounge, 50 years ago this month. 

*Two DeCastro sisters and a cousin.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cookie v. Neighborhood Gorgon

Well, it's been a few days of general business and time really is flying by:

We had the roof over the "kitchen wing" replaced with like material and done by a very cute contractor and his buddies.  Cookie thanks God for contractor because he is very reasonable and pretty damn reliable.  Contractor is approaching 50, a former strawberry blond - which is Cookie's favorite hair color on a man - and he has the cutest freckles.  He is horribly straight.  I would have taken a picture of him, but we don't want to scare him off as there is much to do around Cookie Manor.

We had a interesting encounter with a new neighbor over the new kitchen roof.  However Cookie disarmed the new neighbor with my background: 30+ years of historical preservation, a statewide chairmanship within that field and lecturing credits, National Register Nominations and professional consulting under my belt.

And the last thing we want is a replay of Frigid and Frigda, right?

She's a real peach...

So husband and I are walking back from the store when the store with a bag of goodies when the Gorgon revealed herself.  Evidently she was laying in wait having seen us walk down the street one way.

Gorgon introduced herself and immediately started in on our new roof.  She was blathering away about how I needed to get a neighborhood sign off because we changed the color and materials. On and on she went, as if this self appointed gatekeeper can even see our virtually flat Kitchen Wing roof from her house.  "When I go up to my attic it ruins my view."


We explained that it was same color, same materials and according to the neighborhood residential association by laws, because the old roof was leaking, that we didn't need to jump through any hoops.  I also pointed out that because the roof can't be seen from the street, it was outside of the process anyway.

Gorgon told me that we misread the bylaws and she hauls out a 1996 copy and starts waving them in our face.  Cookie has played this game before.  So I excuse ourselves and said I wanted to review OUR copy of the bylaws, circa 2012.  And damn if Cookie wasn't right - a lot can change in civic associations in almost twenty years.

So I marched the bylaws down to Gorgon, and showed in print what our copy said.  She said it was a misprint.  I explained that these were what we given, and we are going by them.  I also explained my background in preservation and my love of preservation, so in that we are of a like mind. I thought she was looking for a pyrrhic victory, a graceful way out, and I gave it to her.

But she kept on going on about how I was wrong.  "These changes are not architecturally compatible with our neighborhood," she insisted.

I pointed out that unlike her Volvo SUV, which was viewable from the street, our roof was not.  I asked her that wouldn't it be more in tune with the times of her house if she had a more accurate automobile that went with the house. "Something circa 1920?"

She seemed a bit flustered.

"Not very practical, is it?  And you have a perfectly good car right here, so I cannot tell you need to go out and buy a 1930 Model A, can I?"

I explained that it was far more important to get a solid roof over that kitchen to protect the structure and preserve its integrity.  "The roofing material is mutable.  It can be upgraded at some point.  And we haven't changed the structure or the pitch or the slope, so all we did was place a covering on the roof.  And it isn't something that someone on the ground can see, is it?"

And I asked her if she agreed with that statement.

She could hardly argue with it.

Now when we have to replace our slate roof which is visible from the street, then we'll start the Kabuki theatre of jumping through the hoops, and trot out the dog on the back of the pony.

I did suggest that she get a revised copy of the bylaws, if not for our peace of mind, for hers.  However I fear this isn't the last we'll hear from the Gorgon.  The husband swears he can hear her snarling and fuming in the wee quiet hours before he drifts to off to sleep.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Big & Hulking, Small & Mighty

So, the boiler conversion was all set to get done.  They came in, abated the asbestos with all manner of tarps, and breathing apparati, and these big honking signs that read DANGER.  They were supposed to knock down the green monster (aka, the ToridHeet boiler), dismantle the outer casing, break up the boiler AND THEN, pump dry the oil (pronounced "EARL") tank and get it out.

But then we hit a wee teensy bump in the road.  The old boiler wasn't cast iron.  No, the builders of the house opted for the latest technology in terms of 1930 heating plants and had a one piece STEEL American  Standard unit dropped into the basement and then built the house around the steel boiler.

This thing is about 4.5 feet high, and WELDED together like the Queen Mary.  All that are missing are the staterooms and the propeller.  It weighs a freaking ton - seriously, if not more.  So the abatement guys threw up their hands and said "sorry" and left without even touching the earl tank.

Did that stop our plumber from installing the new boiler?  Nope.

But it does add in a THIRD day of work.  A man, with an Ayctylene torch has to come to Cookie Monor and cut the mother up.  He'll do this AFTER he drains the oil and the sludge from the 300 gallon tank in the basement, which he will cut up with his torch.  He'll do that AFTER he makes out with the 175 gallons of fuel oil in the tank at present.

Nothing in life is easy, is it.

However for your viewing pleasure, here is a before and after:

before - 40% efficient

"Toridheet" vintage 1960 following the coal to oil conversion.  Note the size of the water heater next to it. Toridheet is a big mother. 

after 80%-efficient

See that blue thingy.  That's the whole damn new boiler.  You see that BIG wet patch of concert on the floor?  That is where Toridheet's boiler (which you can see in the background) sat on a fire brick base. 

So now we are toasty warm.  But tomorrow, that guy with the torch shows up to cut that steel mother up and then get this:

earl tank

Out of the house.  THEN we can get out ducks, and boxes, in a row.

 But at least we are toasty warm as of now.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Not So Torrid & Not Even Heat

So, what has Cookie been doing in the last few days.  Well, mostly I have been doing a little dance that I like to call The Unpack and Groan.  It's really very simple: you unpack a box, take two steps forward to put the things away and the you take three steps back because there is nowhere to put this crap.

In our old house we had a place for everything and everything had its place.  Here, though there is more space, there seems to be less storage because we have less wall space, owing to the big honking radiators that clutter up the rooms.   Cookie, being a raised in the Midwest these cast iron beasts "ray-dee-a-tors".

But here in "Bawlimer" they call them "raddy-atters".

Whatever you call them, they don't work. And shiver me timbers, inside a masonry house, I am cold.  When it cools down into the 50s, as it has on most nights, you wake up to a freezing cold house.

Why not just turn on the heat, right?

Not so fast.  The house uses a hot-water boiler system to heat the inside - made by, and get this, a company in Cleveland, Ohio.  And the brand-name of said boiler?  TORID HEET.

Neither the husband or I have experience with fuel oil boilers (which are still popular on the East Coast) and despite out best effort, and a quarter of a tank of fuel oil, TORID HEET just sits there doing nothing but moving cold water through the pipes.

TORRID HEAT is a 60 year old green monster (4x8 footprint) that takes about a lot of real estate in the basement, as does the 300 gallon fuel oil tank in the basement that feeds said boiler, which has an efficiency rating of 40% on a good day.  At $800+ a winter (according to the old owner), and emergency switches to shut it down in case of an emergency - all over the house - we knew that we were replacing boiler.

The good news is that the new boiler will be a fourth the foot print, and 80% efficient.  And because its natural gas, we loose the oil tank as well, and thus gain more space.

The bad news is that to do this work we have to move EVERYTHING in the basement so Sexy Rexy (as the local housewives call him) can get in with his demo crew and smash the thing up and get out and then install the one. According to Sexy Rexy, we should have heat maybe today. But if you have ever had an old house, you know how that goes.  I'm betting heat by next Friday at the soonest.

So what does this have to do with unpacking and three steps back?  We are at a point where we can't unpack anything else because (drum roll) has to go to the basement.  So everything waits until Sexy Rexy is through and then we pick up the tempo of this unpacking effort.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Stupid, and how they differ from Us

OK, Cookie hasn't been around lately because we've been having asbestos abatement done to the basement (planned) and some other work (planned) done to the house.  But we are making progress.  My office is almost unpacked and I have picked my paint color - (Valspar's Smoke Infusion), the garage is unpacked, though loaded with broken down boxes and the Sun room which was fully loaded is down to 10 boxes.

That leaves the ten boxes in the breakfast porch, and the basement (more on that, later) to go and this long nightmare will be over.

As Muscato has pointed out, three moves equals a fire.  But we have become aware of a dangerous trend.  Do you remember that packer who wouldn't shut is yap while he was packing our stuff?  Well it seems that EVERYTHING, save one item, that has arrived with some form of damage, was caused by him.

So far a 100 year old Chinese Export pottery vessel (3X3 feet) is damaged beyond repair, one of the two 18th century tall case/grandfather clocks that he packed with need the case repaired, and he managed to destroy a corning casserole dish that was "unbreakable".

THEN there are the things that he packed that should have stayed with the house.  They're in a box by the door ready to be shipped back to the owners of our old home.  I think that they would want the ring of skeleton keys that were in a box marked STAYS WITH HOUSE - DO NOT PACK OR MOVE, wouldn't you?

He wrapped rolls of paper towels in packing paper, lest they get bruised or worse, jostled.

It got to the point where we stopped using his name (Tim) and started referring to him as the "Idiot". As his handy work became more evident, we promoted him to "Moron" as in:

Me, opening a box: : "Damn it!"
Husband: "What did the Moron break this time?"

But his crowning glory was when our Moron carefully wrapped an open mouse glue trap that was up in the joists under the kitchen from 2005. You know, little black plastic tray with a .25 of an inch with sticky glue.  The ones that you can buy at the Piggly Wiggly, four for $4.99?

How he found it is a mystery, but that he somehow thought it should be moved is even more troubling.  How carefully did he wrap it? Ten - that's right - TEN sheets of packing paper were used to cocoon and cradle said glue trap (which thankfully never caught a mouse) for the 400+ trip to our house.

Why? Because the idiot was too busy running his mouth to pay attention to what his eyes were seeing and his hands were doing.  It never once crossed his mind that "should I ask if this should be packed?".  No, he was cruising on autopilot, and I don't think he ever knew what it was, but whatever it was, it had to be valuable.

You can imagine the look upon my face when I found it.

If you can't, I can tell you that I wasn't relieved to see it.

And I wasn't happy about it sticking to my hand.

I did, however, for the sake of irony announce to the husband, (who was buried in a corner of the garage putting away the gardening tools) "Well thank God, this made it in one piece."


"This open glue trap."

"THAT?  What kind of moron would pack that?"

"Evidently our Moron. I'm just grateful there isn't a dead mummified mouse stuck to it," I said as I tried to unsuccessfully fling it off my hand and into the garbage can.

What scares me about this is that thirty years ago, a friend from high school won a rhetorical writing contest with a paper that defended Stupid people.  She argued that the stupid are different from us, they have less stress, probably have fewer heart attacks and were happy with their lots in life, ergo, and like cockroaches, they would win out in the end as thinking mankind died from work stress, home stress, child rearing stress and all the other stresses in life and the heart attacks that come with those stresses.

So it offends me to think that these types of shit for brains people could one day rule the world.  People like our Moron.  Whether it's packing paper towels in packing paper, making sure a used glue trap makes it safely to its owners new place of residence or pushing the red shiny button when they have been instructed not to do so.

And, after Mitt Romney said that he would let Big Bird go, and use the itsy bitsy, teeny, tiny amount of money that PBS gets from the Federal budget to help balance the damned thing while cutting taxes and upping defense spending.   Whether it's that grit from the moving company or Mitt Romney, I get the increasing feeling that like Haley Joel Osment could see dead people in that movie, I can see the stupid, and they are invading my life.

But whether it is the packing of a used rodent glue trap, or getting rid of Big Bird because a he's a threat to the Conservative cause of stamping out anything educational, the Stupid seem to be getting the upper hand.  And what worse is that people are believing or at least are letting them get away with that behavior that says, "I'm an idiot."

So I ask, how stupid can one be?  And what will happen to the rest of us when they win?