Our Little Meadow
Since Matt started on the landscaping this summer, our front "lawn" has gone not only through its usual cycles of plants and insects, we've gained new ones in the areas cut back into paths.
The other morning after a rain there was a small farm of bright white mushrooms in the chipped bark of one of the paths. One of our remaining 80-degree hot warm days took care of those. But now there are low, bright yellow flowers in many places. They're small wild snapdragons, which I used to see along the driveway when we first moved out here, but less and less each year. Now there are many square yards of them scattered along the paths and in an area where some trees were cut down. Very pretty.
Out With The Old
The "Summer" Blazer, a 1989 S-10 2WD, is over 290,000 miles now. Second engine, first transmission.
Saturday I hauled out the "Winter" Blazer, a 1985 S-10 4WD, almost identical in color. 297,000 miles, original engine, second transmission. Last major trip was one of the runs this summer to a 2005 Clarion Workshop reading at Archives Books in East Lansing MI. That was when we were complaining that gasoline prices were spiking for no good reason, and the last tank was at $2.49.9 a gallon. Fifty-five cents lower than today. Sigh.
But Old Reliable started right up and I finally was able to find a new air filter for it, so it should be entering the fall in pretty good mechanical and electrical shape. I bought it used nearly ten years and 170,000 miles ago for $4000. Definitely gotten my money's worth.
The '89 Blazer we've had since it was a brand new puppy -- only the second two-wheeled drive Blazer sold by that particular Upper Peninsula Chevy dealer. Turned the heat on the other day and smelled a whiff of coolant. Probably have to get it checked for coolant leaks or heater core.
Working on getting DSL hooked up at home, along with a Wi-Fi network so our laptops can talk to the printers in the basement. The kit from Allendale Telephone included three of the inline DSL filters for our phones -- the DSL signal is sent over the same lines as the POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) signals, but at a higher frequency that POTS operates at. The filters are to isolate the old equipment from the new.
Problem: The inline connectors are boxy things, with a jack on one end and a short phone line pigtail on the other. No problem with two of our phones. But the main phone in the kitchen is a wall mount AT&T unit, and last Saturday I took it off the wall jack and I tried any number of ways to rework the case and bracket to try to fit the DSL filter and it was just too large. This is dumb. Now I recall seeing some small round DSL filters at CompUSA about a year ago, but of course didn't know I needed them. Fought my way through two construction zones I've avoided all summer to get over to CompUSA -- and no dice. Or at least no compact DSL filters.
So on to Radio Shack. They didn't have them either... but they did have a new wall jack with the DSL filter circuit built in. Works as both a flush mount and has two pop-outs which you can screw in the metal wall mounts for the wall phone. If you don't want to have clunky external DSL filters hanging off of your phone jacks for your regular phones in a DSL house, you might want to check out the Radio Shack 279-103 2-Pin ADSL Filter Wall Jack, $14.45.
Perversity In The Marketplace
Grand Rapids and West Michigan has, as many communities do, an uneasy relationship with the so-called "gentleman's" establishments and the sex shops. I had forgotten that the Plainfield Avenue Radio Shack was two doors down from Priscilla's, but there was no mistaking the lurid pink and purple signs in the windows -- and I remembered that Priscilla's was actually advertising on news radio WOOD-AM for its "$2.95 truckload DVD sale."
Like it or not, the porn and adult industries have helped drive the consumer electronics revolution. Super-8, VHS, Internet sales, video cameras, DVD, the 1-800 exchange explosion, 1-900 numbers -- are just some of the technologies which a voracious appetite for crap has nurtured, and we are indirectly the beneficiaries.
Now from the start, there's been a feeling that audio CDs and video DVDs are terribly overpriced, considering that in some cases the single most expensive part is the jewel case at about a nickel apiece in bulk -- or so I have been told. Recently Best Buy and Circuit City have been pushing non-schlock movie DVDs at much lower prices. $9.95, $8.95, $7.95, 2 for $15... But I've not yet seen a price point of $2.95 for a new DVD. They must be selling disks full of wanton people who either are paid hardly anything or only a token fee for being an outrageous exhibitionist. Perhaps it's the world marketplace at work. I don't think I want to know.
But maybe this means that new movies will start out much lower than $29.95. The adult industries haven't been adopting all this technology and selling all this stuff to lose money. Indeed, it's the only Internet business model which has consistently made money from the start -- and with all the attacks against them.
Back to Reality
In between CompUSA and Radio Shack, I drove up East Paris Avenue and stopped at the new Roger's Big and Tall Store. Roger's Department Store had closed earlier in 2005 and it was quite a loss to the community. A real department store with real merchandise and a real staff who knew what the hell they were selling. The other year they opened up to Sunday hours for the Christmas season, because so many groups were getting charter buses to come to Grand Rapids for shopping, especially at Roger's. Then they added general Sunday hours. Finally they decided they no longer wanted to compete against the new mall a few miles away.
The good news was that Roger's managed to shut down before they were losing money, which meant they could spin off individual departments. The biggest of these, so to speak, was the Roger's Big and Tall department, which is legendary in the Midwest. You find another place where you can get a 6XT winter coat or an 8XB shirt off the rack. You'd think with the so-called obesifying of America that Big 'n Tall shops would be the new rage, as would Big 'n Tall fashions -- but we're not the young, sexy, hip-hop inspired crowd, so who cares.
Anyway, Roger's Big and Tall Store opened the other week and Saturday was the first day I could run by and check them out. Ran into two of the salesmen who've helped me in the old store. They were happy to see me and I found that they were happy to be working Big and Tall again. Smiles all around.
White Skunks Red
When did The Pale Hose learn how to play baseball? Not that I follow the American League much.