Sunday, April 29, 2012

Swamp Romp

Before air conditioning, Swamp Coolers kept the well-to-do from summer roasting. Before that, folks wet curtains or hung sheets to cool precious desert breeze. Like the ancient original Persian version, catching wind and adding water. In hot 1940 nights grandma soaked her back yard mattress with a garden hose. Poor, cheap, or smart, some still do.

Nowadays swamp coolers are lower in “class.” Rightly so: refrigerated air triples your electric bill, making it stupid but “upper class.” Also, discovered firsthand: any idiot can fix a swamp cooler. The only drawback: it don’t help much on muggy days, boo hoo. The late-season algae swamp-like funk requires only clean water and a little bleach.

Such a home cooling device does require springtime maintenance. Maintenance is a fancy word for more work. Scrape, vacuum, oil, and replace the lime-encrusted excelsior pads. The wet pads cool the air the fan sucks into the house. Exciting stuff. Rather lay under a tree by our puny desert excuse for a river all day, half the year, but no one will pay me to do it.

Thankfully Leroy and I had the same sunny day off, and it’s a nice view from the roof, mostly.

The cooler was old when I “bought” the house 17 years ago. It breaks, I fix it. The mortgage company still owns the hut. They charge all the interest up front so you pay $250k for a $100k crib, and you’re supposed to be grateful for the chance. The American Ream.

Here is a classic half-assed fix by a Broke Hick. Too cheap to pay for help, too proud to ask for it, blundering  through things, learning, or not. The copper water line freezes and splits when I forget to turn the water off for winter. Car fuel line hose and clamps fix the splits, poorly. Each season the clamps must be tightened and checked for leaks. Replaced this clamp, for about 50 cents. Moron this later.

Additional excitement in the appropriately-named crawlspace, to turn water on. I did turn it off last fall, apparently.

Trying to take a picture while leaning over the edge of the roof adds a cheap thrill to cooler maintenance.

Excelsior! Capital ‘E’ makes it poetry, soccer, starships, heroes. Here we see crusty small ‘e’ excelsior removed. 

The saggy-ass britches of today’s youth must be chronicled, to make sure their children mock them unmercifully someday. Naming this generation is easy; Generation “U”: “Underwear hangin’ out.” Or “P”: “Pull up your pants!” Or just “S”: “Generation Saggy-britches” has a nice flow. This sartorial silliness makes hippies look good.

Often scatterbrained, I assume every project will have self-inflicted problems. So when Dudine hollered about water dribbling from the ceiling, no surprise. Only hand-smacking-head self-loathing, having spaced the attic splice. Crawl back under to turn off water, into the attic to tighten clamps, back under for water. Much easier to write than do, and just as boring, but it worked. Water damage was minimal depending on your definition. Ain’t repainting nothing today, double negative or not!

In desert, a section of garden hose attached to the cooler overflow directs that dribble to thirsty plants. This year, the segment in the dirt at left, originally from my sister’s trash, will be adapted for that purpose.

The Old Man of the Swamp Cooler.

By the time I remembered to oil the fan bearings, it was too dark. Yeah I own a flashlight, I was tired too, OK? Tomorrow. Maybe.

 View from the top of the Swamp. The dumpsters sit with mouths agape. Coolness! Celebrate the triumph of Man over Machine, no matter how fleeting it seems!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Porcupine Jellyfish Circus

Laugh and Point as the Empire Collapses

Woe to us all when the be-suited goobers begin their baboon-like gibberish. Trade agreements, outsourcing, economic stimulus, every word means the rich will get richer, and you know what happens to the poor. Business runs government now more than ever. They have little idea what they are doing, other than following one simple dictum: make more money.

How brilliant to run government like a business. Instead of the greater good, the goal is to make the Owners rich.

How patriotic of these Owners to move nearly half their factories to other countries in the last ten years. The resulting economic damage to this country is worse than anything any terrorist has ever done. They should buy each laid off U. S. worker a little flag to wave in the food stamp line. "Dictum" indeed!

To try and minimize the damage, bank-like business Owners created a patriotic real estate bubble, the pop of which we inhabit today. Cold and mis-calculated. About a third of my neighborhood lost their job and/or home, and the rest are counting pennies.

Whatever science is behind economics is negated by politics. The whizzes who created the New Depression are still in charge, with the same agenda: make more money, any way possible. If you try to make sense of their statements and actions, one thing becomes clear: they are flying blind, guided only by greed.

So--relax! The whole kitten caboodle is completely out of anyone’s control, as always. (Yes it’s actually “kit and caboodle,” in case anyone feels bamboozled.)

“So then, why hope? Isn’t it just a runaway train, out of control? I don’t think so. I think the out-of-controlness is the most hopeful thing about it! After all, whose control is it out of?! You and I never controlled it in the first place! Why are we anxious about the fact that it’s out of control? I think if it’s out of control, then our side is winning!”

Terence McKenna 1946-2000


Name That Depression

There will be no economic recovery in Europe's--and now the world’s--failed experiment in conquest and pretended democracy. This is the new normal. Ahead, decades of slow downhill.

So what shall we call this Second Great Depression-Like Event? (Maybe we should ask the few surviving geezers who were at the first one. Is anyone listening to them?)

Depression II? Depression Too? The Not-Quite-As-Great? The Lesser--We Pray--Depression? The Intentional Looting of the United States? Decline of the Greedy, the Stupid, and the Working? Survival of the Richest?

No! None of the above! We can call any era by any name: Patriotic Poverty Party. Happy Time Anti-Depression. Fewer Cogs, Lighter Smog. Porcupine Jellyfish Circus. Generation Heck-With-It. The Let It Crumble Decades. Capitalist Freedom Fest. Pollywog Chicken-Scratch. More Fun, Less Crap, Forever.

For a solution to our collective demise, let us turn to the Holy Bible. Leviticus 25 has details. Every 50 years, every debt, public and private, was canceled. Aptly, they called this “Jubilee." Let’s put that to a national vote in our supposed democracy.

   “...spread the good news that what is out of control, what is in fact dying, is a world that had become too top-heavy with its own hubris, too bent by its own false value systems, and too dehumanised to care about what happened to its own children. So I say, good riddance to it! Bring on the archaic revival, and let’s create a new world!”

Monday, April 16, 2012

Cinderello's Slopped Dripper

Kitchens should always be messy. Messy means someone ate. Messy means the household’s got better to do than instantly wipe every little slop and drip.

The Cheap family works mostly night shifts so the kitchen is “open” always. No one ever says “don’t mess it up ‘cause I just cleaned it.” There is only one kitchen question: what’s to eat? Or better yet: what ya cookin’?

Cleaning is sporadic, half-hearted, insufficient. Usually clearing just enough minimal-germ space for a given snack. If Dudine plans a big meal, a pre-assault team is sent to make a path and clear the area.

The sons took turns cleaning the kitchen each night for many years, one of those rare benefits to parenting despite the added whine. (He should have made a recording: “Because you helped make the mess, and it’s your turn.") Now it seems Cheap is the Head Dishwasher, if only because he has the lowest filth tolerance in the almost empty nest. So disgusted he has to do it.

This has its benefits. Streamlining: dumping all the eating utensils in the drawer at once. Is it really so hard to tell a knife from a fork? Insisting on their separation seems obsessive.

Also, he can hide stuff he doesn’t like. Like the Florida Souvenir Commemorative Serving Tray from Dudine’s first marriage. (She’ll never find it, and he can still “swear to god" he didn’t toss it.) Like all the deteriorating teflon-coated pans--a recommended daily intake for teflon specks has not been established yet. And that one flowery red plastic bowl--he doesn’t know why, just hates it.

(Note: when an atheist “swears to god”, it still counts as emphatic righteous insistence. No less likely a liar, though.)

For some reason, being really really really really sick of cleaning the kitchen does not stop the perpetual mess, nor make others want to clean it for you. It is there, every day; people eat. Being grateful for the food does not magically make cleaning up a heavenly joy. Only television can do that.

Surely, for every televised cooking show, there must be a clean-up crew. Could this work as a “reality show?”

“The World is Washing”: washed up celebrities doing menial (actual) work, in those monolithic television kitchens no normal human owns. High drama grunt work by clumsy pseudo-rich folk, angry 'cause this is the least demeaning work their agent could find for them. Preparing the way for a major cultural shift, in which males become the dominant dishwashers.

Of course that won’t sell. No one really wants to view reality when they turn on the amusement device. Reality is just off to their left where the day’s dishes are stacked--or strewn as the case may be. Nor will any of it magically vanish during the commercials.

So there it sits. Cooking, eating, cleaning up, at the greasy axle of the Great Wheel of Eternity. He will clean, but not today, too tired. Why bother? There will be further snacks!


The Dangerous Kitchen
By Frank Zappa (1940-1993)

The dangerous kitchen
If it ain't one thing it's another
In the middle of the night when you get home
The bread things are all dry 'n' scratchy
The meat things
Where the cats ate through the paper
The can things with the sharp little edges
That can cut your fingers when you're not looking
The soft little things on the floor that you step on
They can all be DANGEROUS
Sometimes the milk can hurt you
(If you put it on your cereal
Before you smell the plastic container)
And the stuff in the strainer
Has a mind of its own
So be very careful
In the dangerous kitchen
When the night time has fallen,
And the roaches are crawlin'
In the kitchen of danger
You can feel like a stranger
The bananas are black
They got flies in the back
And also the chicken
In the dish with the foil
Where the cream is all clabbered
And the salad is frightful
Your return in the evening
Can be less than delightful
You must walk very careful
You must not lean against it
It can get on your clothing
It can follow you in
As you walk to the bedroom
And you take all your clothes off
While you're sleeping
It crawls off
It gets in your bed
It could get on your face then
It could eat your complexion
You could die from the danger
Of the dangerous kitchen
Who the f*ck wants to clean it?
It's disgusting and dirty
The sponge on the drainer
Is stinky and squirty
If you squeeze it when you wipe up
What you get on your hands then
Could un-balance your glands and
Make you blind or whatever
In the dangerous kitchen
At my house tonight