PermaLink Now, don't you feel a whole lot better?11/07/2008 09:37 AM
I've been home this week, and it's been a good week to be home.

It wasn't just a victory, it was a repudiation. A groundswell. A good ol' ass-kicking. I have to admit that I have gotten tired of "close" elections in a way that hasn't occurred to me with other contests, like the Super Bowl. When I was younger, it seemed like Super Bowls were mostly blowouts, and it's only been since perhaps 1990 that we've had some really world-class championship games. But you look forward to those close games, the dazzling last-minute finishes.

Not so with elections. The Patriots weren't banking on a "mandate to govern" after winning, they just wanted their rings and their checks and to get to the off-season. The last two elections have been far too close. They weren't satisfying to anyone, really... the losing party felt ripped off and detached, the winning party had no clear mandate to do anything in particular, so they did nothing in general except screw a lot of stuff up.

So, Barack and Joe have a pretty clear mandate from America: we want something different, and we want it pretty soon. Even McCain supporters around here (and there are a lot of them -- this area of Maryland has always been Republican going back nearly a hundred years) admit they figured no matter who won, they "had to do something different." Even the Republicans realize it's time to get away from Bush.

I like this. We have a shot at doing some interesting things, solving some tricky problems (some of which were brought upon us by the Bush Administration), and getting people to think differently. It's time for the smart people to run things for a while.

Another, more local victory: Maryland passed the contentious video-slot-machine gambling bill, bringing slot machines back to Maryland for the first time in 40 years. In July, 1968, they hauled all the slot machines out of southern Maryland and junked them, a lot of them ending up in the Chesapeake Bay. Well, they're back. And it actually makes sense any time you visit a track in Pennsylvania, Delaware or West Virginia and see that at least a third of the license plates in the parking lot on any given night are from Maryland. All this, while Pimlico is a dump and several other Maryland racetracks are bankrupt. Keep the money at home, and don't tell people how they should spend what they earn.

I have been home all week, so I've been doing house stuff. We're continuing to work on the rabbit hutch for Suzette. She and Sam finally had their first date... Sam didn't really know quite what to do, and Suzette was pretty annoyed with him, but they eventually put the wabbit parts together, so if all goes well we will have our first litter of mule-headed wabbit kits in the second week of December. By Lotusphere, they'll have big ol' ears and big feet and be eating hay.

We're also trying to give away Nora's old sleep sofa to somebody we met last week. The recipient is a 20-something girl who is in Frederick working for Bechtel for a while and has basically no furniture, so this serves everyone's needs... she can have something to sit and sleep on, and I can get a large part of my garage back to put garage-y things back in it. A very good combination.

There's a process involved here, though. To transport the couch, I need to use my old 1971 International 1210 pickup truck. I went out last night and fired it up, but try as the big 345 V8 and low gear could, the truck could not move an inch. It's not like it's stuck (it's sitting in a very old and very firm barnyard), so I asked the guy from whom I bought it a few years ago, and he said, "yeah, sounds like the brakes are stuck. That happens in old IHs... just spray some PB Blaster in around the drums, let it sit, then whack it with a big board and see if things don't come loose."

See, truly great technology can be reasoned with. With violence.

This technique will not work on your iPod.

I went out to the outlet mall yesterday and found a bunch of neat things. Kitchen utensils, mostly... if you have a Pfaltzgraff outlet store near you, run over there and get some great deals on things, because while Pfaltzgraff isn't going anywhere, they're closing their outlet stores and everything's on incredible sale. I picked up a couple of great carving knives for six bucks each, four big martini glasses for five bucks, and a couple of other useful gadgets I've needed for a while. Total take, $28. I also went over to L.L. Bean and got some canvas sneakers for $11, and a neat little radio that Eton/Grundig made and L.L.Bean sold for a while, the Mini 300PE. Bean no longer sells the things, but they had them at the outlet store for $13, instead of their original $30. What's neat about this thing is that unlike every radio I've ever seen, it has a conventional analog-type roller to tune the AM, FM or shortwave, but the display doesn't have one of the old slide-rule displays, it actually displays the frequency digitally. Gives you the best of both worlds... you know exactly where you're going, but you can also nudge the tuning a little bit in case reception isn't right or you get better sound on the side of the band. I already had one of Grundig's wind-up emergency radios, but this one has shortwave on it.

The Passat TDI performs passably as a hay wagon. We went over and got the wabbits a couple of bales of hay at a farm about eight miles from here, and the back of the wagon holds two square bales quite capably. Of course, since I do in fact have a truck, I should stop treating my cars like trucks. It's just a long habit. The Saabs could hold anything, and the Volkswagen holds nearly anything. If all else fails, I still have a 1979 Volvo 245 that, in fact, can carry anything. It once carried a full-size arcade model Ms. Pac-Man. It's presently sitting out there next to the International, enjoying its hard-earned Maryland historic-vehicle status. Then again, I've seen Chevettes with "historic" plates.

Sam is in the living room eating hay. He's a big blob.

Well, the sun is now far enough up in the sky that the dew is burning off, so it's time to head to WalRusMart and get a can of PB Blaster and a new battery, and the 345 (which Nora thinks sounds like a dragster) will roar again.

And I'll get my garage back from the furniture trolls.

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1. Dan SOares11/13/2008 02:38:29 PM


Looking forward to seeing u at Sphere

2. Turtle11/10/2008 10:02:38 AM

Realistically, we haven't purchased enough hay to assess how much it's gone up. This stuff was good late-cut orchard grass with a little alfalfa, and it was $7 a square bale. As far as food for the wabbits, we actually go to the feed store and get Blue Seal feed for them, the stuff that rabbit breeders and exhibitors use. It's much fresher, much less loaded with filler and other junk, and we can get it in 50-pound bags. The stuff at pet stores is way overpriced. Any farm store, Agway store or local farmer's cooperative can get you rabbit feed and you can store it easily, just get some plastic trash cans with lids and pour it in.

3. Dan Soares11/07/2008 11:57:20 AM

Hey Scott:

We have a couple of rabbits too and we buy rabbit food from the pet store for them. Do you do that too? To supplement their 'Hay' diet? Where do you get your rabbit food/hay supplies from.

I'm in the Winchester, VA area.


4. Gregg Eldred11/07/2008 10:57:01 AM

Stupid question: Have you seen hay prices rise in your area? People I know in rural Ohio are complaining about the rising prices of hay. It's something that I don't think about, as I have no need, but it was an interesting conversation. Mostly, how they have moved to mixing their hay with other things to make it last a little longer without losing the nutritional value for the livestock.

The things you learn when you just listen.

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