Saturday, April 20, 2013

Urban Camo: Hiding from the Code Cop

Y'all know how I feel about HOAs.  We bought our house here in part because I didn't want to feel the geezer panopticon gaze every time I walked outside lest I choose to leave a child's toy there for more than 10 seconds, which would obviously be completely unacceptable and deserving of a large fine.  But that doesn't mean I live in the Wild West of real estate. My city does have something to say about certain things.  One of those things?  Trash cans.  They cannot be visible from the street. From any angle.  At any time of day except for 12 hours before trash pickup and up to 12 hours afterward.

Recently, Ryan and I cut down a small, misshapen Maple tree and an ugly evergreen bush that just happened to obscure the view of our trashcans.  And while our piece of the city tends toward disheveled, I didn't want to get a warning, let alone a ticket, from the code enforcer.  So I had to get creative.  How could I hide the cans without spending any money?

The fearsome view of the north side walkway.  
While pondering this issue, I noticed that we had a huge pile of evergreen branches from last weekend's cut-down-spectacular, and I had a moment of brilliance.  

We'd use greenery.  Of course, it'll dry up and waste away in the coming weeks, but it'll do for now until I come up with a more permanent solution (also gives me the chance to set aside the cash).  

Zip ties and evergreen branches.  The perfect combination.
Since we already had an ungodly amount of zip ties in the garage, this project could be tackled within seconds of my inspiration.  Thank goodness Ryan had already eaten and was well-beered, so he was a-rarin' to go.

Voila!  No more trash cans.

I think the gate looks pretty darn awesome for such a quick fix, and you can't see the zip ties unless you know they're there.

I do need to come up with a long-term solution, though. Any ideas that are attractive and inexpensive?

Monday, April 15, 2013

What product labels *really* mean

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this very important message: product labels aren't really telling us the truth.  Certainly not Truth with a capital T. Nope, it's not even lower-cased t truth.  They are feeding us LIES, I tell you!!!

Dumber or Smarter than she looks?
The thing is, I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person--I think everyone except perhaps my brother would agree with that assessment (I'm sure he would lump me in the "stupid" category along with the Toyota Sienna and corn-on-the-cob).  I mean, I was in the top ten of my class in high school, and I graduated first from my Alma Mater**, so you'd think I wouldn't be fooled by these shady products. But I've been taken in time and again.  I buy stuff that's supposed to taste good or make me beautiful, and yet, the food isn't tasty or I'm left merely "insanely attractive".

Let me translate some labels for you.

What the product label says What the label means
Won't clog pores. You'll have pizza face within 6 days.  It will take a full month for said pizza face to clear up.
Safe for sensitive skin. Safe for the 70% of humanity who claim to have sensitive skin but do not.  Will give people with truly fragile skin full-body rashes that require immediate medical attention.
Sulfate-Free Shampoo Leaves your hair filthy and pasted to your head.
Will clear your skin of impurities and blemishes Will only clear your skin of all that junk if you also eat salmon three times a day.  Oh, and you have to look like J.Lo for it to work.
Made from sugar so it tastes like sugar Tastes like sugar that's been dipped in the pool at Oceans of Fun (which has also been "seasoned" with eau de baby diaper)
Gluten-Free It will go straight to your thighs and love handles, and your double chin will triple.
All-natural bug repellant You'll be covered in even more bites than usual if you use this product. Plus, you're guaranteed West Nile Encephalitis. Better to spray yourself with DEET, which actually works, albeit with side effects, but those are minor like itchy welts on your behind that vaguely resemble Kathy Griffin.
SPF 30 Let's get ready to burn your face off! And there's more!  You'll have pizza face within 6 days from this crap, too!

I hope you've learned something from this brief tutorial.  I know I feel like a better person already.

**This might be a bit of a stretch of the truth.  Kind of.  I happened to graduate first because I was called before everyone else in the School of Arts and Sciences since my last name is Aaron.  So perhaps I don't always speak Truth, but it takes one to know one, 'k?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Things you really need to think about right now

Since I got back from vacation, I haven't gotten anything done.  Except watch 2 full seasons of The Wire, of course, which is the most important thing anyone could ever do.  That show has taught me a lot about drug gangs and police--I'm now an expert, by the way.  Anywho, everyone else has been quite productive, so let me brag and give you worthwhile things to contemplate.

1) Ryan repaired the washer again. This time, the clutch needed to be replaced.  For $10 and a few hours, Ryan saved us from having to buy another appliance.  Since we just spent a fortune on vacation and on other home repairs (tree removal and asbestos abatement, among other things), I'm grateful. You should be grateful, too, especially if you're a local friend.  Not only would I be really grouchy without a working washer, but I'd also be more than a little stinky.

2) Katie is now enrolled in kindergarten for the fall of 2013.   We had to complete a checklist of tasks Katie should be able to complete before starting in August, and turns out, she's ahead of the curve.  Too bad early achievement doesn't mean squat (Sir, you should hire me because I did so well in kindergarten!  Of course that means I'm awesome!).

3) Drew has managed to climb and knock over every piece of furniture in his room, so for now, all he has is a bed in there.  Doofus.  My girls never climbed, so this is new to me.  He's my smallest kid, but he is my wildest.

4) Winslow has learned to roll her eyes--it's genius, I tell you.  She can make me feel stupid with just a glance (No, Mommy, I don't need help wiping.  Uuuugh).   Is she really only three years old?

So there you have it.  Well, I left out that I did supervise having our house insulated and weatherized (new furnace, whoohoo!)  (insulation in all walls and in the attic, whoohoo!). But I'm not sure I can actually take any credit since all I did was let them in the house and sign a form at the end.

There are some house projects in the pipeline.  In the meantime, however, I'll be watching The Wire.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I'm back... or why you should care a lot about my vacation that obviously no one else could ever go on

I actually had two readers contact me about my absence.  See, people love me!  People, plural!

Ryan and I were on our belated honeymoon the past couple of weeks, and so now, you're going to be subjected to a twenty post series on why you should want to read about our manufactured romantic adventure, I mean, cruise.  And then I'll begin the fifteen post series on the actual vacation. You'll see thousands of photos taken with an oversized DSLR (not really--his is an interchangeable lens camera), which Ryan toted through our ports of call, looking just like one of the locals and nothing like a tourist who shouts in English when people don't understand (since they obviously just have a hearing problem).

Or maybe I'll share a few photos today and leave it at that.  Of course, that would be boring since you probably have hours to spend admiring our pictures, but perhaps I'll just schedule a long photo sharing party for next month--expect an invitation in the mail.  You won't want to miss it!

Anywho, to sum up, we were at sea for five days total and had five days in port.  While on the ship, we ate, slept, read, rested, drank, and twiddled our thumbs.  It was a joy.  In port, we explored a little and then went back to the ship for more resting.

A few highlights...Climbing the San Felipe Fort in Cartagena, Colombia (during a taxi-driver led tour that we never really consented to but enjoyed nonetheless):

Beautiful sites on our 4x4 tour of Aruba (which I really enjoyed--I'm not a beach person and yet loved it there):

Great architecture on Curacao (below is a synagogue):

Beer in St. Maarten (we weren't enamored by our visit, maybe because there were five ships in port and nothing but crowded beaches and jewelry shops):

We also stopped in St. Thomas and took a catamaran to St. John. Gorgeous snorkeling.

Overall, we had a wonderful time, and managed to avoid getting burned, unlike our fellow shipmates who de-frocked daily on the pool deck so they could further leatherize their skin (Note: we were on Norwegian, which caters a lot to older passengers.  These mostly naked sun bathers weren't necessarily what you'd see in a swimsuit catalog).  I don't think we'll be cruising again anytime soon since I really like more in-depth traveling (fly to a country and stay awhile), but this trip was just the ticket for two overworked cogs in the capitalist wheel.

We have a few house projects coming up, and no, they don't involve turning wire hangers into a fool-proof way of investing money.  Be ready!
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