Thursday, October 29, 2015

The ridiculously low price of gasoline

An important rule in life: Do not complain when something is really good.

I filled up the fuel tank of the poomobile tonight and gas at the Grant Road and Tanque Verde Road Valero station was $1.95 a gallon. I can't remember the last time gasoline was under two dollars a gallon. It may have been when the Ford Model T was America's best selling vehicle.

The price seems to keep falling. Which takes me back to the "do not complain when something is really good" rule. I am not complaining. I'm excited. I hope it keeps dropping more.

The irony for me is that I've owned the poomobile since July and it gets the best gas mileage out of any vehicle I've ever owned -- about 27 mpg in the city, and about 38 mpg on the highway. I'm getting close to 400 miles out of a tank of fuel. The current fuel price along with my typical ten mile round trip commute to work, and the amazing gas mileage I am getting from the car, makes the cost of driving incredibly reasonable.

My wallet is really really turned on right now.

$1.95 per gallon gas
at Valero, Grant Road
and Tanque Verde
on October 29, 2015

The price is so wonderful
I had to take a picture of
it twice.

First visit to Dr. Pounds at Orange Grove Family Practice

I had a doctor's appointment today to get my current blood pressure situation checked.

I've needed a new primary care physician for years. But, I've been less than enthusiastic about dealing with it because I don't have a need to go to see a doctor often (I'm not sick much, at least at this point in my life) and medical stuff scares me. I finally decided after the urgent care doctor a few weeks ago insisted that I start taking blood pressure medication that I had to bite the bullet and decide on one.

It was an hour round trip drive to the northwest side of Tucson to go see him: Dr. Pounds at Orange Grove Family Practice at La Cholla and Orange Grove. Totally awesome guy.

My main challenge with this sort of thing is that I have a personality. I've noticed that a lot of people who go to medical places seems to be kind of reserved. Not me, I try to make it fun. And, I joke a lot when I'm nervous or uncomfortable with a situation anyway... which a medical office certainly is a place where it's easy to be nervous or uncomfortable. Most folks in the medical profession that I've encountered tend to think I'm not serious about whatever it is I'm in to get treated for as a result. So, I have to search for someone who is fine with me being me. It's harder than you'd think. It's kind of like going on a date without any possibility of sex, although sometimes at the doctor's office removal of pants is required (for non-sexual reasons).

Anyway, one visit and I already think he's way cool. I'm all set with a new blood pressure medication and they drew some blood so he could verify that I have some. It's probably important to check and make sure your new patient is stocked with blood.

Dr. Pounds was just all around great. The drive to that office was a little inconvenient for me but in the end totally worth it.

I don't really know if it's politically correct or not to sneak a few photos in at a doctor's office. It probably breaks some sort of law. But, I do it anyway. I'm a rebellious photo shooting medical patient.

Lobby of Orange Grove
Family Practice, home of
Dr. Kevin Pounds.
The staff there decorated
for Halloween

The exam room I was in.
There's medical stuff
in there.

While waiting for Dr. Pounds
I read the stuff on the walls
and door.
I learned about
"The Amazing Back"
which I've been on
more times than
I can count.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ken Carr Photo Art: Moon behind textured clouds

A pretty sight in the evening sky: The moon behind some textured clouds over Tucson.

The artsy fartsy part of me (which is a very small part) shot a photo. It's three days before Halloween and this kind of sky scene seems appropriate for this time of year.

Moon behind textured clouds
over Tucson.
I cranked the exposure way up
which gives the photo a
rather artsy look.

A lizard, cockroach, and beetle found dead under the floor

There was a morbid discovery at work today. Morbid if finding a six inch long lizard, a beetle, and a cockroach dead under the floor is a definition of morbid.

The station engineers were on the hunt for a rat or rats, a mouse or mice, that had apparently been spotted running across or near someone's desk in the radio programming area recently. My cubicle used to be in that area when I worked in radio (it still is, but it's now occupied by someone else) and I don't recall a visit from a rodent during the years I worked in that area. I've never seen one in my current office which is down the hall from the cubicle either.

The section of the building that I work in, along with the radio area, sits on a suspended floor. The floor we all walk on and work over is about 18 inches above the cement slab that the building sits on. The suspended floor provides the space for fiber optic cable and other wiring to connect the dozens of computers and electronics that make a facility like the one I work in operate.

One thing that space does provide is a place for things (or creatures) besides the wiring to exist. So, the engineers started lifting panels from the floor this afternoon to look underneath in an attempt to spot any rogue rodents running around down there.

The search for potential rodents unearthed the deceased lizard, beetle and cockroach. The lizard was approximately six inches long, the two companions found with it were around 1 1/2 inches long each. It was quickly obvious that all three had been dead for a while. Their corpses were stuck in a glue trap tray. I didn't ask the engineers, but I'm wondering if the glue trap was down there because there had been a concern years ago there was rats/mice running around and instead the lizard, beetle and cockroach were victims of glue trap murder while the intended targets were smart enough to avoid the sticky trap of doom.

I stepped up to the open panel and shot a picture. Then, I started thinking about how compelling a (hopefully) fictional story it would be to write a murder mystery that featured bodies of the victims hidden under the floor (since there's plenty of space to hide a lifeless body). That was followed by me wondering why I'd think of that in the first place since I always look for the funny twist in everything and that story wouldn't have one. Final determination: I'd make a lousy murder mystery writer.

R.I.P. to the lizard, beetle and cockroach. If you were screaming when you got stuck in the glue trap, your cries for help were drowned out by soft rock music playing above you.

Lizard, cockroach, and beetle
dead in a glue trap under
the floor.
Hopefully the glue fumes
provided you a painless death.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Cut along the dotted line

I posted a few photos of the small pond that appeared near the street in front of the house a couple of weeks ago. There seems to be a slow build up to the next chapter in this saga.

After noticing the small pond over the little vault that houses the newly installed (earlier this summer) smart water meter, I called Tucson Water. They sent out a very nice man right away and he arrived approximately an hour after I called.

He said that he would put in a work order for a repair. The pipe that is leaking is apparently on the city of Tucson's side of the meter so it shouldn't affect my bill. It also won't cost Anthony's mom (who owns this house) any repair charges. But, I have a gut feeling that an impending inconvenience to us is on the horizon.

So far, no work has been done to cut into the street (which is part of what is required to repair the leaking pipe) and we haven't seen any worker types with jackhammers. However, someone has been out here to do some kind of pre-survey work because spray paint markings have appeared on the curb and street.

I am hopeful that when they do the work to fix it that we are not without water for a lengthy period of time. If Anthony doesn't get his multiple showers a day he combusts into a ball of flame. And, it won't smell so fresh in the house if I can't flush my poop.

This story is to be continued.... stand by.

A tiny pond, a pipe leaking below
the pavement, and a dotted line
spray painted across the street.
Maybe they're going to cut into
the asphalt along the dotted line
with a giant pair of scissors
to repair the damaged pipe.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Fake foam Christmas tree snow in the sky

The cloud formation over Tucson this evening when I walked out of work was different looking. It had the appearance of being ribbed for my viewing pleasure.

It actually reminded me of that fake foam snow that comes in a can that is used to spray Christmas trees around the holidays.

It made for a pretty cool photo. I included the palm trees at the bottom because it appeared that they had some sort of influence on the pattern of the clouds. That was purely coincidental.

Tucson sky on October 26, 2015
A spray of foam
from the heavens above

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A slow condiment and Rockstar Horchata

Vegetation mitigation is hard work. In other words, killing weeds.

I spent a chunk of both days this weekend hacking away at bushes, chopping down weeds, pulling weeds, hating weeds, raking, sweeping, and spraying weed killer on the weeds that were left. Die you stubborn weed bastards, die.

It's not all doom and gloom though. I had a moment of excitement at the end of the week that I have to share. If you visit this website occasionally you're probably aware that I am not a frequent vacation taker. Some people are really great vacation takers. My co-workers do a good job, for example. In my entire working life (I got my first job when I was 12 years old, so that would be 37 years at this point), I've never used all of the vacation days that have come with the benefits packages I've had at any company. I always think that I should save some for a "just in case" kind of moment. I'm not dead yet, a "just in case" moment could show up at some point. Just sayin'.

The company I work for announced that they are switching all of us who worked for the company they purchased (the one I worked for before the one I work for now) to a PTO time off system. PTO apparently stands for Paid Time Off (first time I've encountered it at any company I've worked for), and it's a bank of time that you can use for sick days, vacation days, personal holidays, overly gassy days, whatever you want to use it for. The company I worked for before had an "unlimited" sick day policy and vacation days were a separate thing.

Here's why I got excited: The announcement included information that says up to five days (if you have that much left at the end of this year) can be transferred and added to the new PTO bank next year, in addition to what everyone else gets when 2016 starts. Any vacation days beyond that amount will be paid out at an employee's regular rate in January. Since I have not taken any vacation days in a while (my last one was December 17, 2010 when Anthony graduated from University Of Arizona) I will get a fat check in January... and an extra week of vacation added to my PTO bank. Holding out on taking vacation is bringing me a sweet windfall in a few months. And, I'll still have plenty of days for a "just in case" moment.

While I'm waiting for that windfall, I still have to live in the present. That means today, after I completed my work as a weed murderer, Anthony and I grabbed some dinner and groceries. I have to go back to work tomorrow.

I may be getting a little extra money in January, but I'm still going to shop at Walmart. I'm a simple man, you know.

Anthony's chicken sandwich
and cheese curds at Culver's.
I had a coupon so this was
free today.
And free is for me.

My choice was a mushroom swiss
Butterburger and fries.
Every time I get crinkle cut fries
it reminds me of a ribbed condom.
I'll let you take that visual
from here.

This condiment was a little slow
so I told it to ketchup.

Someone left strawberry syrup
with iced tea bags at Walmart Market.
A delicious flavor combination
if you've just smoked weed
or had your taste buds removed.

Rockstar is attempting to reach out
to the Hispanic market with their
Horchata Energy Drink.
If burritos make you tired
this is the perfect pick-me-up

Reese's Pumpkins say "BOO".
Happy Halloween.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Picture Rocks Community Center Dinner 2015

I was invited to a dinner tonight by the Picture Rocks Community Center to honor people in the community that has made donations or contributions to their organization. I've put them on TV a couple of times to promote their cause, so I was invited to the dinner as a thank you. Their organization is headed by my longtime friend Jason.

The dinner was at BJ's Restaurant near Tucson Mall on Oracle Road.

The first thing that was pretty impressive when I walked back to their banquet area: The incredibly fancy table settings. It resembled something you might see at a high class wedding. I don't know this for a fact, but I'm guessing this is one of the fanciest table decorating setups that restaurant has ever seen.

The dinner was good (I had roast beef dip) and I enjoyed the conversation with the people around me. And, the plates had bling. You can never go wrong with bling.

Fancy table settings, tablecloth,
and chair covers at the
Picture Rocks Community Center
dinner event.

A closer view of the table.
The plates had a ring
of bling

Finishing appetizers
and waiting for the main course

Some of the people who
attended the dinner

The roast beef dip sandwich
and fries that I had for dinner.
I tried not to soil the bling
ring on the plate.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Big puddles, no power

Living in Tucson, it is not common to have thunderstorms in October. And, it's also not common to have middle of the night storms. Both of these situations occurred early this morning.

Anthony always wakes me during the night when any unusual thing happens. By thing, I'm referring to events like Lucky throwing up, strange noises outside or in the house, me snoring loudly (I suppose that could be lumped into strange noises), and every time there has ever been a power outage during the night he always wakes me up.

At first, I am always annoyed about being awakened. But, once I am awake I'm grateful he thinks of me as being helpful in some way when these events occur. The only thing that sucks is that I usually end up losing about an hour's sleep (or more) when it happens. There is nothing fun about cleaning up dog puke in the middle of the night or trying to come up with some creative answer response to Anthony when he says "Why is the power out? Can you make it come back on? Why is this happening to us? Are we going to die? I don't like it."

There was a powerful storm that rolled through the Tucson metro at about 4 a.m. this morning. The thunder was quite loud, it rained really hard, and it knocked the power out to over 2,000 homes in the east / midtown area including our neighborhood. I'm ready for such events with multiple flashlights at the ready and two alarm clocks - one that is on house power, the other battery operated. If the power goes out even briefly, I'll still have one that goes off at the right time so I'm not late for work. And, a flashlight so I can stumble my way across the house to my bathroom so I can pee... since that is the first thing I always have to do when I wake up.

Anthony woke me moments before the power went out. It was out for over an hour, although I fell back asleep after about thirty minutes of checking on Twitter and listening to the strong storm outside. Poor Lucky, he hates noisy storms and disappeared to the other side of the house to hide in a bathroom.

We're supposed to have more normal weather (sunny, 80+ degrees) in the next few days. Hopefully the power stays on during the night the rest of the week. I'm really tired from having a short interrupted night. I need my beauty sleep, I'm too darned ugly to miss any.

Big puddle in our driveway
after the big thunderstorm.
We will rebuild.

Big puddle in the parking
lot at the TV station.
We will rebuild.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Robo clamp to the rescue

The happy conclusion to the failed plumbing repair story: It is now fixed.

Anthony's mom called a plumber who came to the house this morning while I was at work. The determination was that it needed a rubber fitting that clamped over the pipe. Any backup that the pipe experienced when the washing machine was draining would be contained. The fix they devised has resolved the issue.

It's quite impressive looking. As opposed to the hose which just went down into the pipe, the new thing they put on there has several levels of rubber hose fitting with several clamps. It's like something that would be used as part of a plumbing robot. It may even be bulletproof.

I wouldn't have come up with something like that. Which is why I am not a plumber. Plus, I still don't have the right sized butt crack to be a plumber. My butt is too small. I should have realized when I was in the shower and saw my naked butt that it wasn't equipped for a career in plumbing.

Genetics were not on my side.

The hose into the pipe
that was causing it to
spill over (photo taken yesterday)

Robo hose fitting
that resolved the issue.
Plumbers crack not included.

Monday, October 19, 2015

My plumbing career was over before it got started

I have been defeated.

The drain pipe for the washing machine in the laundry room has suddenly decided it cannot handle the volume of water that comes out of the washer when it is emptying the tub of water. I thought that it was a clogged pipe so I tried lye first in an attempt to get it to drain properly, then Anthony's mom brought over a drain snake. After managing to get it down the pipe about four feet, I couldn't get it any farther.

Another try at emptying the washer of water yielded the same results. It will drain a light flow of water but not the volume that comes out of the washer when it drains.

I have to come to grips with the sad fact that I'm not qualified to be a plumber.

I have fixed a number of little things in this house since we've lived here. A jammed garbage disposal, a few lights that weren't working, a clogged shower drain, little stuff like that. But, I've met my match with the laundry pipe drain.

Plus, I don't have a very big butt crack so I wouldn't make a good plumber, anyway. A bad ass butt crack is at the top of the list of criteria for being a plumber.

That's who will be coming in the next day or two that will be fixing it -- a plumber with what I assume will be an epic butt crack and the skills to fix the issue.

Oh well. I'll stick to media. You can be successful with a small butt crack working in television.

The pipe that ruined my
plumbing career before
it ever got started

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Pumpkin cheesecake shake and a half eaten cookie

Sunday is dinner out and grocery shopping day. Today's food choice was Arby's at Speedway and Pantano, then grocery shopping at Walmart Market on Broadway, with a stop on the way home at Walgreen's at Speedway and Pantano.

Today's excursion was pumpkin overload:

The feast at Arby's

Anthony chose sliders
for his dinner

I got a pumpkin cheesecake shake.
It was really good.

I also got a brisket bacon flatbread.
Arby's has discontinued homestyle fries
on it's menu nationwide
so I went with an old favorite
from my youth, potato cakes.
Sure, they're hash browns
in the shape of a triangle.
They're also delicious.

Scary sugar cookies at Walmart Market.

Someone (not me) opened a
package of cookies and
ate part of one.
This is why we can't have
nice things.

Cute little striped pumpkins

Someone left their cheddar broccoli
soup mix with the skull cookie kit.
Now that's scary.

They make pumpkin spice bagels.
It's the magic of fall.

Halloween Funfetti Vanilla Frosting.
Just think, someone sits in a conference
room and dreams this stuff up.

The amount of work that Anthony
puts into choosing the perfect
package of bacon is exhausting
to watch.

Anthony is on to me when I
hold up a random product in
the health and beauty area.
But Anthony, I have something
that can help your itch and rash...

Yooooo Anthony!
I found a candy bar
with your name on it.

We stopped at Walgreen's because
my nose hair trimmer broke
and I needed a new one.
This one apparently trims seven
other things. I should be very
neat and tidy now all over.

Halloween Chips Ahoy at Walgreen's.
It looks like the cookies on the
package want to eat the moon.

7 Deadly Zins wine
If I drank a bottle of this
I'd want to commit at
least 2 or 3.

After eating pumpkin spice flavored
food and drinking pumpkin spice drinks
it only makes sense to freshen your
breath with pumpkin spice gum.

Anthony is so thirsty
that it's spooky.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Two hour vacation six years in the making

I suppose I should state the obvious before I get into this story: I don't travel very much.

The reason is pretty simple: It's expensive. By the time the cost of transportation to wherever I would be going is factored in, hotel or cost to stay somewhere, food, whatever entertainment costs are involved, and secondary costs like a Cinnabon at the airport, it is beyond my means. Plus, I have to do work ahead and catch up when I come back so that adds an additional challenge. I'm not sad about it. It's just how it is. So, when I go anywhere it becomes kind of a big deal.

Anthony asked me if I'd drive him to Phoenix today (240 mile round trip). He had to take a test as part of the process he is going through for a job he applied for in March. Even though he took another job in July, he still has interest in this one so he's continuing through their (what seems to be) never ending process.

I haven't taken the poomobile (the car) on a road trip since I bought it in July. When he asked me I thought it would be fun to go. The total time commitment would be for a couple of hours in Phoenix waiting while he did his thing and the four hour round trip in the car so it was easily doable on a Saturday afternoon.

I loaded approximately sixty songs onto my iPhone for some music to listen to. I was amazed at how neato the technology in the car is. It plays the music via Bluetooth through the stereo system. And, the iPhone has navigation so it kept interrupting the music to tell me when to turn to get there. I still printed out a map so I wouldn't get lost as a backup. That's the old person in me... I don't use navigation technology ever (I had never even tested out the app until today), so I didn't know if it was reliable or accurate and I didn't want to make Anthony late. To my amazement, it worked flawlessly.

We left at 11 a.m. It was smooth sailing with pretty light traffic. I had the cruise control on most of the way and lived a little dangerously, setting it about 3 mph above the speed limit. Plenty of cars passed me anyway, I guess the old guy doesn't live dangerously enough compared to many of the other drivers on the freeway.

The place we had to go to was near Sky Harbor Airport. After dropping him off, I located a strip mall with a Target store about two miles north and burned off some waiting time wandering around the store. I did end up buying some new underwear and a package of Oreo candy apple cookies. If anyone asks, I can say I am wearing imported underwear... even if it's imported from a Target at 44th and Oak in Phoenix, Arizona.

Anthony finished his testing early, I picked him up, and we headed back to Tucson. We did stop for dinner in Marana (a northwest suburb of Tucson) at Cracker Barrel off of I-10 at Cortaro. He had never eaten at Cracker Barrel before so it was uncharted territory for him. We were both starving so we ended up devouring huge dinners.

$38 (including tip) at Cracker Barrel, $12.42 in gas expense (the car gets nearly 40 mpg!), and $22 for underwear and cookies. Already I was at an expense level just shy of $73. That didn't include $4 for lunch at Taco Bell while I waited for Anthony and $6 for drinks at Circle K when we left Tucson in the morning. The total cost of the vacation: $83.

The last out of town trip I took was in November 2009. After today's big splurge, I'll have to save up for another one in six years. Vacations are sooooo expensive.

Driving the poomobile west
on I-10 toward Phoenix

A mostly cloudy day
and a pointy rock were
the sights to see
on the drive up

Here's Anthony's little head
in front of the building that
he took his test in

Dress clothes and a Red Bull.
He's ready for his test.

Target at 44th and Oak in Phoenix
where I purchased new underwear
and some Oreo cookies.
Exotic fancy shopping while
on a two hour vacation.

I ate lunch at this fancy
Mexican restaurant.
Chicken soft tacos and
a Diet Pepsi.
Exotic eating
while on vacation.

The neon sign for
Arizona Pavilions in Marana

Cracker Barrel in Marana, Arizona
where we had exotic vacation dinner

Anthony says "Ooooo"
while looking
at the Cracker Barrel menu.

Cracker Barrel has weird old stuff
on the walls, like this photo
of some random guy
(he's probably famous for
something but I have no clue)

Nothing satisfies after a high
calorie meal than a delicious
pack of Chesterfields

More weird stuff on the wall:
An overdressed baby
and a mini wheelbarrow

I had chicken fried chicken with
mashed potatoes and gravy, corn,
hash brown casserole, and
My stomach usually can't handle
this large of a meal without
making me sick but I figured
what the hell, I'm on vacation.

Anthony's chicken and fried ocra

End of vacation dessert:
Coca-Cola cake and ice cream.
I'm looking forward to my
next vacation in 2021.