Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Web Site

I’m having a web site built for participants to find and register for my class. Right now, it just leads to my web designer’s site, but it’s still my address!
I’ve helped with site content and layout at work, but only for sites that went into templates. This time, I get to choose everything, including color scheme. It has to be somewhat polished, since it will be linked from the State’s list of education providers.
It’s exciting to have my name (rather, the name of my LLC) in a URL. I can’t wait to see my own little spot on the net!


I found about 30 bees on the inside of a bedroom window a couple weeks ago! I killed them, taped up the window and started making some calls.
It turns out they were honey bees. I have always wanted to try beekeeping. First, they would be a perfect addition to the orchard I have always wanted. (Dreaming, again . . .) I would also be happy to produce and sell honey, since the honey trade is said to support Al Qaeda; I’d be happy to short them a couple pints a year. Alas, I am not prepared for another project at this time. Between work, taking classes, teaching classes, trips and keeping up on the houses and lawns, I don’t have time for bees.
So, I called a beekeeper. He came out, watched the entrance for a few minutes and determined it to be a “small” swarm, about 6,000 – 10,000 bees. Let me tell you, when they’re in your house, that number doesn’t sound small! To put it in perspective, though 15,000 – 18,000 bees only weigh around 3 pounds!
After determining what he needed, he came back with a bee vacuum, sucked up the bees, removed the combs, scraped out the wax and sealed up the hole. Surprisingly, it didn’t cost me a penny! It seems there’s a shortage of honey bees and keepers are happy to come and get them. It beats having them exterminated!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Going Back

This is a community swimming pool in a tiny farming village in northwestern Ohio. Pemberville is a great little town. It’s situated in some very fertile farmland, so the population is financially comfortable. There has always been an amazing amount of community spirit in Pemberville. Residents know each other and organize a lot of public events.
My mom’s aunt lived here and, for three summers, my sister and I stayed with her. The formal reason was that Sarge and I could swim at the pool across the street. I think that Mom’s aunt really wanted to help her niece, whose babysitting costs were higher when we were out of school. Mom says that she just “always liked having a bunch of kids around.”
Mom dropped us off on Sundays and picked us up Friday nights. Aunt Onie (Leona) was pretty laissez-faire about child rearing and just let us run. We only came home for meals, I think. There was a livestock barn in town for when the fair was held; we spent hours there, running through the stalls and climbing up to the vast hay mow. We played by the river and ran all around town, but most of our time was spent at the pool, since Onie lived right across the street.
I was 9, 10 and 11 when we were there – well beyond swimming lesson age, so we took lifesaving and synchronized lessons. I wasn’t even old enough for a lifeguard’s badge, but the synchronized lessons were amazing! There wasn’t one other kid in my school who had taken them, as far as I knew. At the end of the summer, the entire team (about 20) would put on a water ballet show for our parents. We were so excited about it!
What I remember of Pemberville is freedom. No school, no clocks, no clothes (we lived in bathing suits), no curfew, no pass to get in the pool (they knew us), and little adult authority. When I drive through town now, I still get a rush of that freedom.
I’ve wanted to go back to the pool for a couple years and I finally did it last week. What a wonderful little trip back in time! The pool is twice the size I remember, the guard towers are half the height I remember and I’d completely forgotten the snack bar and toddlers’ wading pool. There were about a dozen people there. Only three of us were adults and the other two were there with their kids. Lanes weren’t roped off for laps; this whole complex exists for the kids.
Now I see how special Pemberville is/was. How unusual for a town that tiny to have a community pool. To date, I have only met one other person who has taken synchronized swimming lessons and yet that little farming village was putting on a water ballet every year!
I bought a summer membership. I don’t know if I’ll make it back often; it’s nearly a 45 minute drive from home, in the opposite direction from my job. I don’t care; I’m happy to contribute to this kind of investment in a community.

Lions and Tigers and Bears - Oh My!

I’m completely intimidated by this State licensing development for my class. Right from the start, this project has led me into some new territory, but I feel way out of my league in this arena. The class was designed for a completely different audience!
Nonetheless, it’s too good an opportunity to pass up. I need to find a group, do a test class and get some feedback.
Then, just bite the bullet and work through the fear. YIKES!

Wildflower Bouquet

All cut within a mile of my home.


Check out my new relief wood carving! I am collecting these and this is the first one I have that is stained or painted. I have stayed in an Alpine chalet that could easily be the scene on which this carving is based. I got it at a garage sale this weekend; the lady thought her dad got it when he was stationed in Germany.
My collections have come and gone – ice cream scoops, frogs, stamps, etc. Relief carvings are great to collect; you don’t see them often, so they don’t take over your house. Collecting lighthouses was a nightmare; there are just too many of them! I still have cameos, but I don’t know enough about them to invest much, so I only have inexpensive ones.
Do you collect anything?


I think that nations are obsolete. They have served their purpose but it has expired, much like ancient empires and medieval princedoms. The world is too connected now for everyone to be huddled around their own flags in an attempt to operate independently of each other. Today, we are integrated enough to view ourselves as Earthlings, not Americans, Brazilians, Chinese . . . Zimbabweans. If we all put down our flags and stop singing our anthems, maybe we could understand each other and work collaboratively.
I have begun to see things well beyond the span of one lifetime. Existence is cyclical. Two hundred years from now, my views will be archaic and inter-racial romance may consist of beings from Venus dating those from Neptune. I hope so. Change is renewal.
The flag hanging from my front porch is old and tattered. It’s been hanging there forever, looking terrible. I haven’t taken it down yet; I’m putting it off because it won’t be replaced. It’s there because Butch put it there. He was a 2-tour Vietnam veteran; he should have a flag in front of his home. I am a patriot, to be sure, but one of my planet. That said, when that flag comes down, I will fold it and take it to a VFW for proper destruction, for the same reason I will keep a fresh flag on Butch’s grave, because I respect it. More than anything, I respect the Constitution that stands behind it. So, I hope that the USA will be a strong partner when the world finally begins to move forward . . .
We’ll have to overcome our pride, first. I don’t get the claim to pride - and all those folks singing about how they’re proud to be American. Pride is for those who earn it. Our founding fathers should be proud. Our veterans should be proud. Perhaps some legislators have earned pride in this nation. The rest of us? We are LUCKY to be American. We have claim to nothing more than the luck of our birthright.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Detroit Art Scandal

Banksy is an anonymous UK graffiti artist who has painted on urban walls all over the world – from Palestine to Australia. He was in Detroit recently and left his (suspected) mark in at least four urban locations.
One of them was an old Packard plant, which had been empty and decaying for years. It was slated to be demolished. This work could have gone unnoticed. Street art isn’t shown, but discovered, particularly that of anonymous artists. Yet, Banksy has a web site, where he displays his work.
Someone recognized the plant and contacted a local gallery, the 555 Gallery. Of course, they wanted to preserve the work. This could probably have been accomplished with a call to the plant’s owner. Banksy’s work is highly valued; it’s unlikely that anyone would intentionally allow it to be destroyed.
Yet, the 555 Gallery sent staff to the plant, removed the wall, built a frame for it and took it back to their property. It took them two days, they used a forklift and reduced the piece’s value by removing it. Of course, they will find themselves in a courtroom over these actions.
Graffiti gets destroyed; that’s the nature of street art. A lot of Banksy’s works have unwittingly been damaged, destroyed, painted over or cleaned away. Yet, Detroit is the nation’s poster child of economic troubles. Here, even beautiful buildings fall into disrepair and sit neglected for decades. An empty factory draws no attention in Detroit. Only here could someone walk off with a factory wall.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Anti-Consumer

Sometimes I think I should have been born 100 years ago. It’s tough to balance your ideals with social conveniences. Rampant consumerism drives me crazy. Someday, I would love to try living in a non-capitalist society, where you can barter for goods and services.
The first time I realized how bad it is in our society is when Butch and I had a car accident. We went to the hospital and each had a couple grand in medical bills. My bills and my time off work were covered through my employer. The car was worth about $2K (in 1988) and was totaled. There were witnesses willing to testify that the other party was at fault.
Yet, the guy’s insurance company wouldn’t pay for Butch’s car and bills, which totaled less than $5K. With witnesses and a cop ready to show in court, they HAD to know that we were going to consult a lawyer, yet, no way were they going to pay this measly amount.
We went to a lawyer, who required them to cover my losses, too, including the sick time that I had used. He called our scars “disfigurement” and wrote up a claim for our “pain and suffering.” They settled out of court for about $30K between the two of us. WTF??
I learned a lot from that experience. Of course, the lawyers got their share. The insurers will use our payments as “statistical data” to raise their customers’ premiums. Both industries were fed with the illogical handling of Butch’s claim. They were fed at the expense of The Little Guy. TLG is the only one doing any work in our society; everyone else is feeding off him.
When you pay attention, you see the constant bombardment for The Little Guy to spend, spend, spend. I once bought some Christmas lights and they WOULDN’T PLUG INTO MY EXTENTION CORD. These new light plugs were designed to plug into the new, outdoor extension cords that were colored green, to match the outdoors, I guess. That'll be an extra $19, please.
Electronics is an area where you can easily see this furious consumerism; they are obsolete as soon as you remove them from the bag. How often do we really need a new way to play movies? Beta, VHS, DVD, Blue Ray – it’s all John Wayne, for God’s sake! What else do we truly need our phones to do?
The Little Guy, though, does this to himself. He’s a willing participant in his own financial violation. The novelty/eLust/competition to have more eventually get to him. Camera phones are convenient, so TLG needs to add messaging to his plan, so he can do something with the pictures. Then he decides that he needs to access the web from his phone, too. It just never ends.
I try to be conscious of this push for us to keep spending to support non-essential services or items. I think more legitimate ventures would be generated if we weren't supporting this useless stuff.
Why not play tennis on a court instead of a Wii? Why use a treadmill when I can walk outdoors? The easiest things to avoid are disposable items. I can use plastic containers instead of plastic baggies. I have a permanent coffee filter and use cloths instead of paper towels.
I refuse to become The Little Guy!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

State Approval!

I am so excited about a recent development with my class!
It was just approved by the State as continuing education credits toward real estate license renewals! I can hardly believe it. I found the opportunity by accident and just applied as a lark. I never expected to be approved!
I’m checking into what will have to happen for me to offer it online. Web-based Real Estate education seems to have a niche of its own. Because of the reporting requirements to the State, I think I’ll stick with the companies that are specifically adapted to online RE offerings. I’m almost afraid to get an estimate; this can’t be cheap.
I still can't believe it! My little class, that I authored just for the heck of it . . .
There is so much to learn! I have a lot of exciting work ahead.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

You Picked The Wrong Girl!

******************************************************************************************************************************************I received a forwarded email today that reminded me of an encounter my grandma had years ago. It was so funny that someone in the family documented it on a t-shirt as a gag gift.
I was a teenager at the time, so my grandma must have been in her mid to late 60’s. She was walking down the street in my hometown and met up with a group of teenaged boys. As they passed her, one of them called her an “old fogey,” which was emblazoned on the front of the t-shirt.
The back of the t-shirt immortalized my dear, sweet granny’s response to those kids: