August 20, 2005

Mighty Weather Station

Earlier this year, we were in a Home Depot and saw some phones for sale. Our phones at home were dying with sad regularity – sometimes you couldn’t pick up, and at other times they just didn’t ring. So we had been keeping our eyes out for a new phone.

So we spot this bin of portable phones at Home Depot, and they had something extra. They were only about $30, and they not only were a phone, but they had a MIGHTY WEATHER STATION included! What? YES! A MIGHTY WIRELESS WEATHER STATION!

We could not pass up this deal. We bough the MIGHTY WEATHER STATION PHONE (or MSWP) and brought it home to install tout d’suite.

This is a great phone. It has a transmitting part that you put outside (in the shade, of course) and the home base gives you time, day, date, phase of the moon, tide, barometric pressure, internal and external temperature and humidity. What joy!

In reality, we rarely use the MIGHTY WEATHER STATION part of the MWSP in the summer, but in the winter it is invaluable. In the summer, you always know what the weather in Houston will be like. Hot and Humid (two wonderful attributes, I might add) but in the winter, you never know. So the MWSP has paid us back in spades.

I would recommend a MWSP to anyone in the market for a phone. Or a weather station.

August 13, 2005

August 11, 2005


Fundraising, with the emphasis on fun.

Doreen and I are big fans of Annise Parker, Houston’s city controller. She is good at her job, and a very nice person besides. She lives in the neighborhood, and is up for re-election this year. Houston has two year city terms, and all city elected officials are term limited to three terms. Annise is just finishing her first term, and should be easily re-elected twice more.

But with all elections, there is some uncertainty. Nobody has yet filed to run against her, yet it will probably happen before the deadline appears. And while our city elections are nominally non-partisan, she is obviously a Democrat in a Republican state. So the “R” team will probably want to run someone in the race, if nothing else just to draw down her funds.

So when Doreen was asked to hold a house party fundraiser, she said yes. I was dragged along for good measure. My natural reluctance to have anything to do with people kept me from being too excited about the whole endeavor (I would have preferred to sit home alone and read a good book) I thought it would be a good thing for us to do.

We used the website “Evite” to set up the party, and asked most of the people we know in the neighborhood, and pretty much all of my friends (I don’t have very many. See above) I think that a total of about 60 invitations went out, and we received about 40 confirmed attendees. That being started, we had to figure out what we were going to do to keep people entertained until the party started.

We are lucky enough to live in an interesting house. It was built around 1910 for one of the local entrepreneurs of the era (John Stevenson, from the company Stewart and Stevenson) We have never had an open house to allow our neighbors a chance to look around and see what work we have had done, so we knew we could get most of them to come by and pay the recommended $25 donation to get in the door.

We also like to enjoy a nice bottle of wine now and again, so we tried to think of some interesting, and yet economical, wine that we liked. We wanted to offer both red and white, so we chose a nice Spanish Rioja Crianza, Condesa de Leganza (which we lovingly call Condoleezza Rice at our house) and for the white, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc: Matua. The Boss and I had a slight disagreement about how much wine we would drink (I figured we would go through maybe a case, total. She wanted to get a case of Red and a case of White. She bought it, so you know what we got. The good news is that we bought wine we drink, so it will not go to waste. Oh, we went through 11 bottles total)

Finally we had to get some food. Now usually, I like to cook for things like this, but we decided to take advantage of our CostCo membership and bought some Hummus and Baba Ganoush. We also bought some Manchego Cheese and some Chevres. I think we had some crusty bread, some pita chips, and some pita its own bad self available as well. So the food was basic, but delightful.

We were all ready for the guest to start arriving, and Annise’s delightful campaign manager Amanda Scott arrived to help us with the final setup details. She laid out the table with name tags and contribution forms, and figured out what we had where in the house. She has done this before, and we have not. It was great to have someone who knew what she was doing.

As 6:00 rolled around (The nominal start time for the event) my friend Fred Jenson was the first to appear. He is also probably the only Republican to show up for this event. But he does understand about good public servants, so he was glad to come, meet Annise, and add some money to her campaign. He did grouse some about giving money to a Democrat, though. Oddly enough, I would guess that he has NEVER given money to a Republican. He probably thinks they don’t need it…

After that folks started coming in quickly. I think that we had about 36 – 38 folks stop in. That was good, and we raise a nice amount of cash. Annise gave a nice speech from our stairs, and our cat Little Guy only bugged her once or twice.

Anyway, it was a fun event. E-mail Amanda for more information about how to do something similar.

August 6, 2005

Love me, Love me, love me!

Since it is the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, there has been a lot of talk on the radio about the old civil rights movement. On one program, Medgar Evers was mentioned. Now, I don’t remember Megdar Evers, but I do remember Phil Ochs, and so I started singing “Love me, I’m a Liberal”, but my dear, sweet wife was not familiar with the song. For your edifications, here it is:

I cried when they shot Medgar Evers
Tears ran down my spine
I cried when they shot Mr. Kennedy
As though I'd lost a father of mine
But Malcolm X got what was coming
He got what he asked for this time
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I go to civil rights rallies
And I put down the old D.A.R.
I love Harry and Sidney and Sammy
I hope every coloured boy becomes a star
But don't talk about revolution
That's going a little bit too far
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I cheered when Humphrey was chosen
My faith in the system restored
I'm glad the commies were thrown outof the AFL-CIO board
I love Puerto Ricans and Negros
as long as they don't move next door
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

The people of old Mississippi
Should all hang their heads in shame
I can't understand how their minds work
What's the matter don't they watch Les Crain?
But if you ask me to bus my children
I hope the cops take down your name
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I read New Republic and Nation
I've learned to take every view
You know, I've memorized Lerner and Golden
I feel like I'm almost a Jew
But when it comes to times like Korea
There's no one more red, white and blue
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I vote for the Democratic Party.
They want the U.N. to be strong
I go to all the Pete Seeger concerts
He sure gets me singing those songs
I'll send all the money you ask for
But don't ask me to come on along
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

Once I was young and impulsive
I wore every conceivable pin
Even went to the socialist meetings
Learned all the old union hymns
But I've grown older and wiser
And that's why I'm turning you in
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

More About Phil Ochs including a discography.

Here I am being socially responsible Posted by Picasa

Djimmah wanting to take a bath Posted by Picasa

Blaze pretrending to be Dead Dog of Pompeii Posted by Picasa

Dead Dog of Pompeii Posted by Picasa

Monarch Crysalis Posted by Picasa

Sometime, it is necessary to wear a bow tie. This was one of those times. Posted by Picasa