Tuesday, September 27, 2005

can I be growing up?

for years I defined the perfect woman as someone who looked like Brittney Spears and Cooked like Martha Stewart.

Just to qualify that statement I said it back before Brittany got all slutted up... or before Martha went to jail. But you get the basic premise of my thought process there.

But maybe the pefect woman is someone I can spend 3 hours sharing insightful commentary on a football game follwed by dinner conversation about religion, politics and literature.

...which is how I spent sunday. And for some reason I'm not nearly as bummed about a Steeler Loss as I probably should be.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Ramblings of a lackadaisical blogger...

Really it’s not that I don’t love you people, I really do, I’ve just been… busy… or lazy, I get those two confused sometimes.

Anyway I’ve had a few thoughts over the past few days so here they are.

Is Wal*Mart the new K-Mart?

I was out running in a rather upscale neighborhood earlier this week. As I was ogling the houses starting at $500,000 I noticed quite a few of them had red signs saying “SAY NO TO WAL MART”.

This got me thinking… or as much as the limited oxygen getting to my brain at my 7-minute mile pace would allow. Is Wal Mart the new K-Mart? Traditionally the least desirable, due to its unkempt stores and rather apathetic sales staff, of all the large retail chains. Now that many of these stores have been closed after bankruptcy and soon to become Sears stores, they’ve lost much of their public presence. This leaves Target and Wal Mart to battle for market position.

Wal Mart with it’s revolutionary sales practices has set a standard in retail for low prices. Their sales staff gives the same courtesy as the attendants at Disneyland and you cannot beat their prices.

But let’s face it; people who live in the neighborhood that I was running through probably don’t shop at Wal Mart.

Now that I’ve over generalized let’s qualify that statement. I asked one of my four bosses (none of them named Lumbergh) about the signs as he lives on the other side of this neighborhood. He said that the Proposed store would be placed at top of the hill around the corner from the low-traffic secluded road off of which this development was built. He does shop at Wal Mart… but the nice one 2 exits over.

Now I live on the other side of Sawmill Road. And the Ghetto in comparison (you’ve met my neighbors). A Wal Mart greatly helps me. First off, cheaper groceries. Secondly someplace to go on a Friday now that Battlestar Galactica is done for the season.

But is it the traffic? Is it the clientele that Wal Mart attracts to the area? No, it’s the street lights. You see this picturesque development sits on a hill separated by some woods from the main road. Were a major retail venture to go in, especially a 24x7 business, the parking lot lights would bring a sense of the city into the suburbs where these people have escaped.

You’re not poor because you’re black; and you’re not black because you’re poor.

Yes, I’m taking on a racial issue… wait, no I’m not, I’m taking on an economic issue. Because Race has absolutely nothing to do with wealth.

Since Katrina hit New Orleans (please give to the Red Cross) people have tried to associate those who were displaced, or stranded as victims of racism. I’m not denying that racism exists, but that’s only an excuse.

Anyone motivated to better themselves, be it in education, athletics, or just to get themselves out of a city below sea level with a hurricane headed your way, will succeed better and faster than someone waiting for someone else to do it.

It has nothing to do with skin color; it has everything to do with self-motivation. Let’s look at everyone that DID get out of the Big Easy. They got out in their cars. The ones they bought with their money. The money they eared at their jobs. The jobs they get up and go to every day.

I hit the snooze alarm a few time this morning… mostly do to drinking draught beers until 1:00 am. But the need to sleep in was overcome by the desire to eat later on in the week. You see if I didn’t go to work today I’d loose my job, and if a hurricane ever hit Ohio I’d be stuck in the Superdome.

So with my 3 door plastic car, I’m ready to evacuate at a moments notice!


Okay that’s enough for tonight… Battlestar Galactica come on soon… I may head out for a beer, and hopefully I’ll be up for 7:30 am running club at church.

Hopefully running won’t turn into 3 hours of much raking this week. That made me sore!!!

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Adventures of Andy and Mr. Pimpmobile

It’s been a rough week in my world. The fortress of solitude was nearly compromised, and it was quite the adventure. It all started late Monday afternoon. I had just come home from a long weekend with my parents. Relaxing, and fun; a good way to spend my birthday.

However as I arrived home I was greeted by a scene (and smell) none too pleasant. Yes this concerned my mechanically inclined neighbor. You see for some reason he felt the need to disassemble his engine on the front lawn of the condominium (or apartment in his case) and spray paint various engine parts different colors.

The entire place reeked of spray paint. But Mr. Pimpmobile was nowhere to be found.

This changed my demeanor quite a bit. I was quite content on my drive across the state until I pulled into my parking lot. It didn’t take me long bring in my bags and do some unpacking. As I was putting a few items away upstairs I saw him return to his work in progress.
Now, people, I’m typically a reasonable person. Ninety-eight percent of the time I have a smile on my face and am quite willing to lend a hand to anyone I see. However after two years of watching someone, by their sheer existence bring down property values, I lost it. I went out the front door yelling, “What do you think you’re doing!” It wasn’t a question.

I think I startled him. He had that deer in headlights look that someone would criticize him for putting time and effort into an automobile. As if there is nothing else to do in this world.

Dale Carnegie would not have been proud of me. I actually started this argument and wasn’t very friendly. In fact for the previous week I had made several snide comments in response to conversations he tried to start with me. As a result he’s not exactly seeing eye-to-eye with me.

That heated conversation about making the place look like a trash heap and the smell of spray paint ended in me threatening to send a letter to the property manager. As I was about to complete I heard a knock at my door. It was the neighbor. Slightly calmer now he offered to compromise. He told me that this was the only place he had to work on his car.

However, I escalated things by informing him that he needed a leash on is dog and to clean up after him. As it happens I looked at the same coil of poop next to my car for about a month earlier this year. His response was, “I’m from Cleveland where a dog craps where it wants.”

We ended things at least not hating each other. But the letter was written. The next day I turned in the following to the property manager:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am requesting the immediate
and appropriate action toward the resident at [Edited]. Over the past two years
of my residency here as a due paying owner I have witnessed several chronic and
what I believe are property-devaluing actions and violations of common courtesy
and condo codes.

  1. A dog that is freely allowed to run around the courtyard without a leash
  2. The resident has failed to clean up after the dog has made a mess in the common yard.
  3. Unbagged trash from the resident has left the alley between courtyards a trashy mess

  4. The tenant is also constantly working on his automobile in the common parking lot. This has resulted in:
    • A fire hazard: an immobile vehicle would block rescue workers from performing their duties
    • Potential tire damage from loose bolts and other parts as engines have been disassembled in this common space
    • Various discarded parts and other auto-maintenance related trash left in the parking lot.
    • On September 5, 2005 after returning home the tenant was in the process of using aerosol paints on his vehicle parts in the common grassy areas resulting in a foul odor.
    • Car maintenance equipment on the common lawn in front of both our units has resulted in the destruction of the grass and higher landscaping costs to [edited].

  5. Loud music throughout the day that can be heard through the common wall

  6. Hammering: A constant hammering on the common wall which is no doubt damaging [edited]'s property. This noise was loud enough to be heard over the phone.

After two years of these annoyances I have decided to withhold my $110 condo dues until action has been taken.

Tuesday was quiet, but by Wednesday I took the photo below, and as I was outside the inevitable happened… we confronted each other again.

Do you want to walk out of your door and see this?

To anyone else this would have been a very funny altercation. I had read the Condo Charter just enough to be dangerous, while he was arguing for the sake of arguing. I told him working on his car was a violation. He told me the bikes the children were riding were also illegal.

“No those are just kids being kids,” I responded. Then I went back to what I knew was an argument I was assured a victory in, reagarding the unleashed dog (really not much more than a rat with a collar, but the rules are rules). He told me that if we were in Cleveland I wouldn't be able saying anything to him. I'm pretty sure Cleveland has leash laws too. Maybe not in the Dawgpound section of Cleveland Stadium, but in other public places I'm sure.

Well, I’ll spare you the four-letter words, but what happened was a threat to “make me as miserable as possible.”

Over the next few hours I did my best to put him out of my mind. Knowing that misery, much like happiness comes from within, I decided I would not let him make me miserable anymore. I started watching a movie I had rented, did my monthly budget and read a chapter of “I am Charlotte Simmons.”

By 10:30 It was time to take the movie back. I opened my door to see him under his car with a utility lamp, working on shocks, breaks or something in the general wheel area. He was lying on the hard blacktop, probably still sticky from the heat of the sun that day. The banana slugs were abut to come out and make their zig-zags across the walk way. And I’m sure he sliced at least one knuckle down there.

Mentally I contrasted that with where I just was. Inside, in the air conditioning, reading a good book on a comfortable couch. At 10:30 at night if you’re under a car on the hard pavement instead of inside spending quality time with your wife, reading to your children or… well frankly anywhere else, which one of us is miserable?

Nothing happened the rest of the week, other than my fairly constant complaining. However an interesting twist came after Church on Sunday. My pastor, having heard me give a very short version of the story told me that he had met my neighbor and heard his side of things. I’m not sure what the neighbor told the pastor, but I got the feeling that I came off pretty bad in his version. Rev. Steve did a better version of humanizing this guy to me than I have to you.

But what is done is done. That afternoon I opened the letter I had received in response to my complaint. I didn’t open it Saturday when I received it because if it was bad news I didn’t want my evening of Football watching to be ruined. I left that job to the University of Texas Longhorns.

The letter was a copy of what was sent to the neighbor. It sited an abbreviated list of complaints, but contained a key line:
Car maintenance is NOT to be performed on the property.
Nothing has happened since then, except I did pay my condo dues.

Going forward I foresee the family next door moving. I really hope they take this opportunity to look into financing for a house. That will give them the chance to build equity, save for their two daughter’s college educations and give him the garage he wants and needs so that he will finally be happy working on vehicles and nobody (okay, this last line’s about me) will say a word about his automotive ingenuity.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Adventures of Andy in Pittsburgh

Just a brief post, but this is kind of cool.

This weekend is my birthday (9/3) so I came to the hometown to see the parents. It's a long holiday weekend so it's a great excuse to see mom, dad the dog and the cat.

The biggest part of the birthday was to go to a Pittsburgh Pirate game. Dad has a package of tickets and they are some GREAT seats. As it turns out today, Notre Dame is coming to Pittsburgh to play Pitt. So the Baseball game was scheduled for 12:35 and the Football game kickoff is 8:00.

Well even at 11:30 am the crouds were gathered for tailgating. I personally can't drink that much. When we saw a stage set up across from the stadium I assumed some band would be providing pre-game entertainment. But as we drove closer I shouted, "That's College Game Day!" It was in factChris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso.

Didn't stick around for the ESPN show becaue it was free hardhat day (pretty cheesy IMHO) but just seeing the show in progress was pretty cool in itself!

Football Season is here,

All is right with the world.

Go Buckeyes!
Go Steelers!