Wednesday, April 17, 2024

A Decision Has Been Made

There is a bright blue porta-potty sitting on my neighbors' driveway.

Next to it is a shiny silver sink and soap apparatus.  

I'm wondering if random unhoused people will see it and take advantage of the fact that it's neither locked nor hidden away.  

I debated walking over and checking it out for myself, but the thought of walking outside to do what must be done had pushed me to deciding that there is no way I'm going to be taking advantage of that clean and private space, provided by my County at no charge, for eight hours every day.

There are places I can go.  

Okay, I'm just leaving that there for a moment.  

I will spend some time at Prince and I'll go out for lunch.  Amster's house is always available.  It's only from 7:30 til 2:30; I think we'll survive.

Definitely a first world problem, and one that's bringing a murky problem into specific relief. (Kudos if you got the American President reference.)  There are women all over the under-developed world who go in pairs to the bushes to avoid being preyed upon when they are most vulnerable.  It feels kind of churlish to ignore the kindness of a personal potty right next door.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Damning With Faint Praise

I fell in love with John Grisham when I read The Firm.  In 1991 I was living in Chicago, with two kids, a wonderful sitter, and time to indulge myself.  I knew lots of Big Law lawyers like John Grisham.  I was impressed that a partner at a fancy, downtown law firm had the time to write a best seller.  And he wrote some good ones.  

I enjoyed The Pelican Brief and A Time to Kill and The Rainmaker.  The Runaway Jury told the best of all of those stories, and that's saying something.  Each one of them is memorable, decades later.  The names of the characters have escaped me, but their escapades are still kicking around in my deeper memory banks.  

Things happened in those books.  There were surprises.  You had to pay attention because not everything was what it seemed.  

That was not the case with his latest oeuvre.  The Exchange is a sequel to The Firm.  It's about gathering money to ransom a kidnapped lawyer.  The title was kind of a spoiler.  

If I cared about any of the characters, I might have been as insulted as they were that phone calls weren't returned in a timely fashion, that national governments were reluctant to negotiate on the main character's terms, that Big Law partners were greedy. 

But Grisham never expands on any of them beyond where they live and how much money they have.  For those without money, their descriptions lie within their rung on the corporate ladder.  The kidnapped woman cries a few times.  Her sick father is hospitalized a few times.  Told from a distance, that's about as emotional as the story gets.

When a serious bout of food poisoning - the who/why/how of which was a tantalizing storyline left disappointingly unexplored - is the most action packed sequence in the book, you can bet there is trouble ahead.  The kidnappers were never identified  Absolutely nothing unexpected happened, and what did happen was boring.

Flying on private planes sounds like fun.  Five star hotels and limousines and friends with secluded island retreats who would just love to have your twin boys and your in-laws drop in for a few weeks to hide from dangerous bad guys sounds like fun.  

It's too bad the book is no fun at all. 

I wish the words lived up to the quality of the paper they were printed on.  It was a pleasure to turn the pages; they were thick and the perfect shade of white and made a satisfying sound when grasped. 

It's pretty sad when the physical book outshines the content.  I can't recommend this one at all.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Casual Misogyny

It was a lovely funeral, celebrated for one of TBG's spin class buddies.  It was a two-fer; her sister died three weeks before she did.  They were both active in the church which hosted the service; their ashes were sprinkled on the grounds, beneath a cross, together forever.

The pastor knew them both quite well.  So did most of the attendees.  Stories were shared, praise was heaped, love was everywhere.... until it wasn't.

One of the stories revolved around a dance, referred to as a meet market. At least that was how I interpreted the sweet story to which it was attached, until mention was made of the meat and the heifers he saw there.  

I tried not to gasp too loudly.  The pastor smiled broadly, and repeated the tale, in all its cringe-worthiness, as he delivered the final Prayer for Peace.

I'd been able to find beauty in some of the passages he read.  I was impressed with his kindness to the congregation, most of whom he'd seen just three weeks before.  He was welcoming and thoughtful and his casual misogyny rankled all the more because of that.

This is why an 1864 law can be passed in modern day Arizona.  The disrespect, the obliviousness, the hurt that any woman who'd ever had that insult tossed her way, all this from the pulpit, from a man of God, an authority figure.... this normalizing of the indefensible is why we are where we are today, teetering on the edge of electing a sexual predator to the highest office in the land.

It's just not right. 

Friday, April 12, 2024

An Unfortunate Occurrence

Our Neighbors On The Other Side noticed effluence spewing from the backflow valve down in the open space between and behind our houses.

Pima County was quick to the rescue, sending a crew to survey the scene and plan for the repair.  Apparently, that repair requires shutting off our sewer service while the contractors fix the leak.  A lovely supervisor rang our bell and explained that they work from 7:30am until 2:30 or 3 in the afternoon, and that they'd probably be here for several days.  He encouraged us not to flush our toilets during that interval.

He offered us brand new, really clean, private Port-A-Potties to use for the duration.  One here... or over here... and one for them over on their side.

The situation offers many avenues to wander.  Do we visit friends for the day?  We have lots of bathrooms; do we not flush and bear the consequences? Do we let them install those celebrity portable toilets on our front yard?  Would we use them?  And how about the New Next Door Neighbors whose house is on the market for a sizeable sum?  Big, blue toilets don't add much to the ambience.

We will survive.  It's annoying but necessary.  I just wanted to share.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Sticker Shock

Have you rented a car lately?

TBG refuses to take two trains from the suburbs to the suburbs on our next vacation.  He wants to rent a car, even though it means he has to drive on a highway he detests.  He won't have to share his space with anyone but me.  He won't have to worry about the motorman's competence.  He will be master of his own fate.

I didn't think it was a bad idea to rent a car and make the 2 hour drive.  A one day rate wouldn't be terrible, and anything is better than a grouchy travel companion.  

Then I searched.  And I gasped. The least expensive day rate was $169.  

And then I looked at the public transportation options.  Amtrak for $130 and 5 hours.  Local trains, with a 38 minute lay over over a 4 plus hour trip, clocked in between $84 and $184.

And none of them were convenient.

So we'll bite the bullet and rent a car and recognize that while on paper Joe Biden is doing a great job with the economy and jobs an infrastructure, it now costs $200 to rent a car for a day.

Easy to see how inflation is still at the top of voters' minds.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

A Travel Day

Up before sunrise.

Refusing to pay $4.95 for a mini-muffin at SFO.

Saying Yes to the offer of a snack from the flight attendant, only to be handed a chocolate chia cookie.  

Planning to bake brownies to thank New Next Door Neighbors for keeping watch over the house but falling asleep for most of the afternoon.

And now I am staring at this screen with a brain reacting to the altitude.

I'll be back tomorrow with something more interesting.  

I'm going back to sleep.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

What Eclipse?

Here in Northern California,  Main County's eclipse experience was a non-event.

I made pinhole cameras for TBG and me out of Honey Bunny's smash cake box, cutting off the sides and using one for the pinhole and one for the display screen. 

Perhaps I failed in creating an acceptable hole in the tin foil, because all we saw was a square of light.  We were properly angled.  We were out at the right time.  And we saw nothing of note. 

Like the men's NCAA Final Four,  which was played in a football stadium,  the best seat in the house was in front of my tv.

Monday, April 8, 2024