We recently renewed the contract for another year on the house we rent. We politely inquired directly with the owner about cutting the property management company out of the deal because they’re stark raving assholes and don’t do jack shit, but she said no. I figured it would have been a good deal for her since she wouldn’t have to pay them for doing nothing.
They only handled one issue from us all year and that was a broken 35-year-old hot water heater. In our defense we do need hot water several times a year.
The owner felt she “didn’t have time” to manage the property herself. Eh? Wazzup?
Then the other night came a very alarming sequence of events.
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Smoking Hot Freedoms
This is one of those topics on which I harp on from time to time. And by “harp” I pretty much mean the instrument my family members must be playing up in Heaven. Right after they accidentally burned down the family tree with a carelessly discarded lit cigarette.
Apparently I’m the proverbial apple that fell far from the tree. Or, in Taker family terms, I’m a mutant. Ironically, at least in this context, I’m a dying breed. You see, I don’t smoke and I never have.
I grew up in the “typical” American family. Our core family unit consisted of mom, dad, a sister, myself and 2.3 cats. Assuming the smoking rate back then, the math is already amazing. For simplicity’s sake we’ll say the odds of an adult smoking were one-in-three back when I was a youngling. Based on that, the odds of me being the only non-smoker in a family of four was about 1 in 27.
But wait, the fun doesn’t stop there. My sister had some children. 4 out of 4 of them are smokers. I had a son. He’s a smoker. My wife had a son. He’s a smoker. My son just announced his pending nuptials on Facebook. Nearby was a picture of the lucky couple. Both were proudly holding cigarettes.
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Summer is still weeks away but we’re already beginning to feel the effects.
The local TV news, which consists of 18 minutes weather, 2 minutes news and 10 minutes commercials, has been telling us for months that practically every single day is setting another local weather record. In winter we had the warmest winter days ever. There have been lots of rainfall records along the way, including one just a couple of days ago. And now, finally, record heat days are occurring on a regular basis.
I think we’re setting a record on setting new records. Somebody check the records. This has got to be true.
Living in Portland means, of course, there is no air conditioning in our house circa 1950s. I think they hates them, they do. Maybe things were cooler in the 1950s so people didn’t think they were really needed? Bioswale floors, walls, ceilings and roofs constructed out of organic kale didn’t exist back then, did they?
Whatever the case, when the heat hits our house like an oven on broil, the windows, reluctantly, have to be placed in the “open” position. And that’s when the shit goes sideways.
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I don’t have a family tree. The family systematically broke it down into small pieces. And smoked it. Now it’s all gone. So much for my roots.
Rich, smooth flavor. A tad barky and leafy, perhaps. But lungs has gots to be choked to the max. Our family motto is apparently “smoke whatever you can improvise.”
My entire family smokes its guts out and yet, perversely, I’m the black sheep. Oh, the irony. That’s rich. I’m also pretty much the only non-smoker around.
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First Thanksgiving: Smoke Gets In Your What What?
Remember learning about history in K-12? I don’t remember much but when it comes to the first Thanksgiving a few images do come to mind. The following paragraph is pieced together relying solely on my recollections.
The Pilgrims and the Native Americans came together for a feast. The Pilgrims wore funny brown hats topped with a column adorned with a belt buckle. There was maize. There was jellied cranberry sauce featuring distinctive rings from an aluminum can. There was even pumpkin pie. There was a horn of plenty that provided a veritable cornucopia of magical fresh fruits and vegetables. And, of course, last but not least, there was turkey aplenty that looked a lot like simple outline drawings of my hand.
Have you ever experienced that moment when you realized history class left a lot of things out? It was decidedly not the place to go if you wanted the big picture. Or an unvarnished viewpoint free of bias that didn’t accentuate a certain narrative. No doubt there were time constraints or contractual obligations?
My exhaustive (you’ll get this pun after the jump) research turned up something else that was given to the Pilgrims. It wasn’t on the dinner table, perhaps, but I’m sure it was still something to be very thankful for.
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FOX Spews: There’s Something About Pope
FOX SPEWS ALERT! BREAKING NEWS!
Holy white smoke, Fatman!
We now bring you a LIVE shot of someplace on planet Earth where surging throngs of Pope nerds have assembled to hear about the selection of some guy in some religion.
But first, some pharmaceutical ads. Don’t worry! We’ll do the multiple window thing so the LIVE shot of St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City will continue while we run the commercials. It’s our commitment to you to bring you continuous coverage of these people milling around a square.
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The Grating Outdoors
I wasn’t going to post this. Really. I wasn’t. Then I saw this post on Freshly Pressed today and decided what the hell. Enjoy.
It was bad enough that I had parents. Ungh.
Growing up in a family of smokers was rough, even though I didn’t know it at the time. My mom and dad smoked. My grandparents smoked. All of my aunts and uncles smoked. When we grew up my younger sister joined in as well, something she still does to this day.
And there I was. Lone Wolf McQuade. Doing my own thing as usual. I just gotta be different. I always have to be special.
Mom smoked (and drank) when she was preggers with me. Later she even got married. I wasn’t exactly what you’d call “planned.” We lived in a rainy state. That meant lots of smoking in cars with the windows rolled all the way up and lots of smoking inside the house. People didn’t step outside to smoke back then. “It’s my house, goddammit.”
Back then I didn’t know any better. That’s just the way it was. These days, however, I’m a little more informed and educated. These days I consider what my parents did to be fucking child abuse.
Somehow I dodged the smoking bullet but I didn’t get out from under that cloud caused by others and inflicted upon me until my early twenties. As my life progressed I gained more and more power over my own environment. True, there were some times, like at work, bars and casinos where my choices were “take it or leave it.” But gradually, over decades, I finally got my life to a point where I was almost completely smoke free.
Alas, you can’t ever really be totally smoke free. My primary exposure these days comes from driving through my home town, generally on my two-mile commute to and from work. Sure, I moved to a gorgeous state known for it’s beautiful outdoors, and clean, fresh air. Unfortunately if I choose to drive through this small town, I have to deal with the waste products of my fellow citizens. That includes their cigs in their hands hanging out their open car windows, their butts flying into my city when they are done, and yes, even their smell as I drive my car. Today, parked at a red light, the stench was almost unbearable.
My wife and I recently acquired a new camera as an anniversary gift. As a result we’ve been making trips around this gorgeous area we call home and taking all the pictures we can. This weekend during one such trip we pulled over to marvel at one of the local natural wonders, a gorge carved out of rock by one of the local rivers. As we walked along the path near the river I found myself in a cloud of nasty smoke. It was bad.
People were walking along that path and happily smoking away. There wasn’t even a hint of a breeze, so the fact that we were outdoors was of little consequence. It was like being taken back to when I was a helpless youngster held hostage in my parent’s omnipresent cloud of death. It was fucking gross!
I tried to shake it off, but Holy Fuck! Here we were in the great outdoors in one of the most magical spots in one of the most beautiful states in one of the most special corners of the Earth and I’m forced to deal with some loser’s fucking stinky addiction. It was pretty horrible.
Of course I didn’t say anything. I spared an evil glance and moved on with my pathetic existence on this planet, trying to play “keep away” with my physical space and maintain distance from the various assorted assholes nearby.
I just don’t get the mentality. I’m sure the logic is something along the lines of, “I’m fucking outdoors and I’ll do what I goddamn want. Fuck you.” Fine. But that logic obviously fails when others find themselves in your fucking cloud.
As a non-smoking human being on this planet, just what, exactly, do I have to do in order to take in the natural goodness of the clean fresh air found in this spectacular land I call home? When will it be my turn to breath air untainted by fellow humans for a change, even in one of the most beautiful places you’ve ever seen?