Sunday, August 23, 2009

Off to Kentucky

My mother is very ill & I'm off to Kentucky for a few days.   See you all later....

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Large Spiderweb (or why we don't cut down a dead tree)


Near end of our property, close to the road, a tree stands all alone, apparently dead.   It shows no sign of falling down & we've not touched it.  The birds like it, squirrels use it to get away from Pickles the dog, and it just looks interesting.
A couple of days ago I noticed a huge spiderweb hanging from one of its limbs.   I finally got around to taking a picture of it this morning.  It was covered with dew and showed up well.  This is a close up of the center, just a small portion of it.  This web must be about 4 feet wide and 5 feet or more from top to bottom and could easily snag a blue jay or a small dog.  It looks delicate, but it survived a storm we had last night so it must have some strength.
Anyway, this spiderweb is just the latest in a series of interesting things that go on in this dead tree, so we'll just leave it alone.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

George Washington in Paris


A long time ago I was in the US Army, stationed at Augsburg, Germany.   One long break (we worked 6 days on, 2 days off, rotating shift - so one of the breaks was longer than the other two), a group of us went to Paris.  We were just walking along from one place to another when we were shocked to run into a statue of George Washington.  None of us had any idea that such a thing existed in Paris.  We were really quite young.  I was just thinking about that.
I stole this picture off the web somewhere.  I know I took my own pictures of it, but this was long before digital cameras and I have no idea where they might be.   Anway.  George Washington in Paris.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My picture of the Cone Mansion, in the moutains above Blowing Rock, North Carolina


This is the Cone Mansion, in the mountains high above Blowing Rock, NC.  What a beautiful place to visit on a hot summer day - easily 15 degrees cooler than Valdese.  For some reason this view of the mansion suited me, fire hydrant an all.

It apparently was "Bring your horse to the mansion" day.  There was a group of 40 or so horses and riders preparing to go riding on the mansion grounds.   I belive the grounds has 25 miles or so of paths and tracks to ride & hike.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Just a quick picture of Pickles the Dog


Just a quick picture of Ol' Pickles, who is almost a good dog. She's a Bluetick Coonhound/Black Lab mix, with a personality (and most of her markings) leaning toward the Bluetick.   This dog can go from a deep sleep to full out barking in about 1.5 seconds.  It's amazing.  She's friendly, but a very good watch dog.  
I need to amend a statement in the paragraph above.  As coincidence would have it, she has just proved that she can go from deep sleep to full out barking pretty much instantly.  Some sort of ani-mule must be prowling our night time yard.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

When all else fails, post a picture!


Since I couldn't think of anything to write, I thought I'd post this picture.  Years ago,  I did a lot of laundry in this laundromat.  It's in a strip mall just off Ritchie Highway in Glen Burnie, Maryland, a mile or so south of the DMV.  A delightfully beautiful place if you've never experience beauty and have low standards of delightfulness.

This is the laundromat which was the inspiration for "Hell's Laundromat", my universally acclaimed 4-line poem (at least in one very small alternate universe that existed mainly at the tip of one of my fingernails.  You had to get down to the molecular level to find it, but it was worth the effort).

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Just a little sedated

It's one of those summer stormy afternoons.  Pickles the Dog has found a nice place to wait out the thunder and lightening - in the hallway, away from windows, her nose sticking around the corner so she can keep an eye on us. 

I survived a colonoscopy this morning.  I don't mean to make light of it, it's a big deal.  The prep for it is no fun at all.  I hadn't had anything solid to eat since Sunday morning, and even then not much.  And Monday night was loads of fun, when I got to take a bunch of laxatives and mix 238 ml of Miralax with 64 fl. Oz. of Gatorade and drink it all.  I think it's neat how we mix systems of measurement so easily in this country.  Where else but America would instructions tell you to mix 238 ml of anything with 64 Oz. of anything else?  Anyway, the expected results of that concoction occurred.  And occurred.   I only managed to get 60 Oz or so of the Gatorade down, because I thought I was going to throw up.  So I just stopped, and it seemed to work fine.  It will be a long, long time before I have anything lemon-lime again.

This morning we drove to the Medical Specialties center in Hickory, and I have no complaints. Everyone seemed friendly and re-assuring, courteous and quite professional, always helpful to someone who like me is basically a-feared of the whole process. One thing I noticed, as I looked around the waiting room, was there was lots of people there who did not seem to be feeling good. I can understand why.  It was easy to see who were patients, and who was there to drive them home.

I was sedated for the procedure.  And that was interesting.   I could feel myself loosing consciousness, and there was nothing I could do about it.  As a game, I decided to see how long I could stay conscious through sheer will power.  A few seconds, and I dont think will power played a role.  I was out, then suddenly I was in a whole different room with people making me wake up and sit up and get up and put my clothes on and drink a pepsi and get out of there.   Not really.  Well, sort of. It probably seemed a lot faster to me than it really was, because I was moving very slowly.

I'm convinced this screening can be a life saver.

A few years back one of my uncles died much too young from colon cancer.  I keep thinking that if he had been screened when he was my age, he'd probably be alive now.   Anyway I'm good for another 10 years, so they say.  They said they'd send a reminder out to me about 8 years from now, which I think is so cool.  They might have been joking tho, 'cause things were going over my head for awhile.  It's been over 6 hours now, and I can still feel the drug a bit.  I don't know if that is normal or not.   

But its over with, and a beautiful morning has tuned into a beautiful stormy afternoon.  I think I'll sleep well tonight.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The dreaded best practices.

Maybe if you've read this blog closely, and I'm sure at least one person has (me), you've picked up on my mildly anti-corporate attitudes.  So it's strange that I find myself immersed in this little eBay business we have, a business that is minute, even compared to most businesses down on Main Street in Valdese, North Carolina, of all places.  But the money it generates does come in handy, so I'm told.  I have to consult the company VP & Treasurer, Patti Anne, for the particulars.

So lately we've been thinking about "best practices" - a term I knew all too well in my previous life in a cubicle, a term I tossed into a heap with all the other business buzz words, including the term "buzz word", as just another business cliche among hundreds which taken together, ferment an indescribable bitterness in the very essence of my being.  These words and terms are frequently what pass for communication around the conference table.

I'm sorry, I went a way for a minute.  I'm back now.

Anyway we find we're bogged down in details of maintaining our eBay business.   The minutiae cause us to spend less time on the "core business" (bangs head on table), and as far as I'm concerned, the less time we spend on the (argggh) "core business", the less money we make.

The "core business" (from here on out simply known as CB) is obtaining inventory,  all the tasks involved with listing it, and shipping out sold items. That's it.  That is how we make money, everything else is a distraction.  We find we spend hours on other tasks which have to be done, but which are not directly involved in the CB.  So we put our heads together and came up with a plan.  

Some things can't be changed - inventory, once obtained,  has to be organized & stored, for example.  Once an item sells, it has to be retrieved.  That cannot be changed (unless we radically change our, ahem, business model), and may even be considered part of the CB.  Not sure.  At any rate, it takes some time & effort and it has to be done.

But some things can be changed.  And we've identified those areas we can change, where we can save some time.  But everything comes with a price.   Every advantage has a corresponding disadvantage.  It all boils down to sales.  It all boils down to money, and in a few months we'll know if it has made a difference.

Does anyone besides me ever wonder about money?  Where it came from, how it evolved, why does it have value, why does the value change?  Why did civilization develop the way it did so that a few are rich and many are poor?  I read a book called "The History of Money",  and that answered some of my questions.  I now know why "dollar" is a currency name, for example.

The concept of money is very abstract and required a leap of intelligence, understanding, and social organization somewhere along the way.  And it is ingrained.  We'll never get rid of it.  And its basic stuff, even for a little eBay business.  And from here on out, we'll probably be trying to let our thoughts wander aimlessly outside the imagined enclosure (which I always thought of as cardboard, and coming from a U-Haul store)  so perhaps we'll stumble on some even better way of doing things.