Public Service Announcement for Dekalb County Homeowners

Effective January 1st, homeowners in DeKalb County that receive the benefit of homestead exemption may also apply for a property assessment freeze to help offset future increases in property value. This freeze does not affect school, city or state taxes. Homeowners who currently have homestead exemption must apply for this freeze, however new applicants applying for an exemption will receive the benefit of the freeze with their exemption. Residents must qualify for this freeze by March 1st 2007 by mail, online or in person at the Tax Commissioner’s office.

4 minutes and counting…

How much can I post in the < 4 minutes I have left in the workday? --- Stamps. Why can't I print media mail stamps online at I can post certain types of priority mail, but not media mail. So the recepients of a couple paperback books are just going to have to wait until I can get stamps at the post office. --- It looks like I'm going back to Juarez the week of March 5. I'm sure the frequency of trips is going to subside soon. I'm sure. Sortof. Perhaps my mistake is having a good attitude about it. --- Uncle Grampa's this weekend... a rare show without Matt Horgan as Larry. Chris Blair is subbing in as Buffalo Tony, who is my favorite Chris Blair Uncle Grampa's character. Tune in if you have a kid, by which I mean, show up. --- I'm in TheaterSports on Saturday night, and a coworker is threatening to come. --- Dozens of people coming in this weekend, and no food in the house a'tall. I'm on grocery duty after work. And with that, I'm off.

Book Log – Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions

Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions by Neil Gaiman

The first point I should make is that I read this on my new (refurb) Palm Z22. It came as a sample book with the eReader software, along with Never Eat Alone and some romance novel. I used to read stuff all the time on my old Palm IIIe, and it’s nice to always have a book or two on me, wherever I go. The interface is greatly improved as well.

Previously, I’ve read a Sandman, Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett), American Gods and, recently, Neverwhere. Good Omens is much beloved by many and I am no exception. But the other three works, done solo, were just OK by my estimation. I didn’t plan on going out of my way to get another Neil Gaiman piece.

But there it was in the Palm. And I’m glad it was.

I really enjoyed these short stories. In fact, the shorter the better. He had a whole collection of two paragraph stories about vampires that were very funny.

Honestly, though, I skipped most of the “poetry”. If it didn’t grab me in the first couple stanzas, I was off to the next thing. I’m a plebe that way.

There’s a funny story about a woman who finds the Holy Grail in a junk store. And one about a guy who looks for bargain priced assassinations. All very creative and fun.

Your mileage may vary

steakums sent me this link, in our ongoing discussions about whether to minivan or not to minivan.

One commenter on this article said : I don’t know why everyone is opposed to SUV’s. I personally love mine, and it gets great gas mileage, contrary to the popular belief. I fill it up once a week, ($30-35) and I can go all week on one tank of gas. (I live very close to work).

Leaving aside the ignorance on how one measures “gas mileage”, this comment dredged up a pet peeve I have about discussing gas mileage. It bothers me to an extent, and probably irrationally so, when I ask someone how their gas mileage is on their vehicle, and they say “Great! It’s about 20MPG!”

While I’ll allow that 20MPG could be relatively “great” for a specific type of vehicle, say a Semi or a garbage barge, I can’t allow that it is empirically “great” for anything.

So, I’m offering an empirical rating chart for gas mileage conversations. You and yours may choose to adopt it, you may not. I offer it as a suggestion, and letting everyone know what I mean when I say “great”.

MPG                  RATING
0-20MPG              embarrassing
20-30MPG             poor
30-40MPG             acceptable
40-50MPG             good
50MPG-100MPG         great
100MPG+              awesome

These will have to be adjusted periodically for technological improvements.

And, of course, one can still use phrases with relative qualifications, such as “My minivan gets 35MPG, which is great for a minivan.” I’ve got no beef with that.

The Neat Germ

So, yesterday, Rocketbro was out running errands and stopped by the do-it-yourself car wash.

When he got home, the outside of his car was so nice, he decided to do the inside… vacuuming and 409ing and so forth.

He was on such a roll, that he then proceeded to vacuum out Stacey’s car, thus destroying a local tourist attraction1.

Crazed and delusional to the point of losing his sense of self preservation, he went on to spit-shine the inside of my car.

Inside, his diligence guilted or inspired (hard to tell which) to knock out the Enormous Tower of Laundry whilst simultaneously baking a chocolate heart-shaped cake from scratch, and me to reorganize the pantry2.

All of which to say is I <3 my brother, and I'm considering somehow trashing his credit so he can't afford to buy a house and move out. 1 Atlanta’s Largest Collection of Dropped Goldfish Crackers.
2 Hey, I was sick. This was a big contribution for me.

Book Log – The Book That Changed My Life

The Book That Changed My Life: 71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate the Books That Matter Most to Them Edited by Roxanne J. Coady & Joy Johannessen

71 essays about life changing books. Many were interesting, some were funny, some I just skimmed. Several folks mentioned To Kill A Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye. Amy Bloom cited The Most of P.G. Wodehouse, which I dearly love and read again and again, so I shall pick up some of her stuff at some point.

If the internet comes back. Where is it tonight? Livejournal is working. Lots of other major sites aren’t. Weird.

But I digress.

This is one of the Xmas gift books, for which I thank her again, as it helped pass part of the time happily on my 3.5 hour flight back and forth to El Paso.

Zombie Dream, and the HooDilly

Tonight, as we’re getting Rocketboy ready for bed.

Rocketboy: Okay, I’ll ask you what you’re going to dream about tonight, and then you ask me.
ElectricRocket: Shoot.
RB: What are you going to dream about?
ER: Mmm… maybe dinosaurs. What are you going to dream about?
RB: A boy without a brain.

Another big house for Uncle Grampas. Pretty soon, we’re going to get cocky and demand trailers.

My brother came along with the fam, as well as one of Roan’s classmates, J_, and his mom. J_ and his mom loved it, and I could hear my brother’s distinctive laugh above the throng, so all went well.

The story was The Three Little Pigs 2: Through the Time Portal. The time travel sequences involved the pigs getting mercilously scratched by Time Kittens. “So painful, yet cuddly.”

I’ve been fighting a nasty cold for the past few days, so I hung back and did second support (playing the third little pig, StupidHead1, who doesn’t go on the time travel adventure, but rather stays behind to remodel their brick home into a straw house.) I also played the Time Kittens. And a bear from the Time of Bears.

Next week, I’m not in the show. But I hope to go and watch, and be directorial.

When I got home from Juarez last week, as I was paying the parking attendant, my window got messed up in such a way that I could only roll it halfway up. So this week, I’ve had garbage backs taped over the upper half to keep from dying of hypothermia on the way to work. This afternoon, my mechanically inclined brother (who became that way largely because he owns a ski boat) was able to fix it while I watched, being sniffly and generally useless. Yet another benefit to having the guy in town.

But I can still take him in a fair figh– oh wait… no I can’t. He’s also more built than I am.

Well, I dress better… oh, no I don’t. He irons and stuff.

I’ve got better vision… wait, he had laser surgery, which I couldn’t get even if I wanted to.

I’m taller. There. I’ve still got that on him.

1 Remember, this is an improv show fueled by audience suggestions. 5 year old audience suggestions.

Ask not for whom the Bowl Supers, it Supers for thee

Busy weekend.

I watched a wee bit of the Super Bowl last night. Apparently it involves lots of running and throwing things. I still haven’t caught on to the appeal. So, I felt no regret when a bunch of four year olds pulled me away to help them build a fort.

But, on the productive side, we met goudabonbon and offspring, who are as delightful in person as they are in print1. The jury is still out on curt_holman, who I did not meet because he had to “work” to make “money” in order that the family would not “starve” or be eaten by “wolves”, as thin an excuse as I think I’ve ever heard. Honestly, I expected more from a writer.

Rocketboy was delighted to learn that the above mentioned offspring, Sweetness/Snowflake, shares his penchant for sleep-themed games, wherein they start by pretending to go to sleep and then something happens, such as an attack by a scary chicken.

goudabonbon provided a healthly dip, deemed healthy because it had spinach in it, which completely neutralized any negative aspects of the Velveeta. Also made legit by its presence in an actual chafing dish.

My brother whipped up a Skyline Chili dip, just like we used to have back in the motherland2. steakums whipped up an old Lucas family recipe3 for Vegetable Beef Soup. Some other friends brought over some chicken wings, which validated it as an official Super Bowl gathering in my book. There were actually a couple folks who watched the game for the game itself, amazingly enough, over the sounds of the Hi-5 CD playing in the other room.

This Saturday marked two successive Uncle Grampa’s Hoo-Dilly Storytime episodes with substantial audiences. I think if you added up both audiences, the total would probably surpass the number of people that came to see the entire last season. So, that’s made things extremely enjoyable.

This show featured a guest appearance by Stevie Weasel (Scott Warren), who filled in for Lil’ Tamo (Christian Danley). Scott was an early cast member who had to stop doing the show a few seasons ago in order to make time for higher paying “work” in order to make enough “money” to keep from “starving” or being eaten by “wolves.” It was a delight to have him back for a spell.

In talking with the audience afterwards, the feedback was extremely positive. Of course, the folk who didn’t like the show probably didn’t hang around to make small talk.

There were balloons! Balloons with our logo image on it! Does Brad Pitt have a caricature of his face on a balloon? Does Hugh Grant? I don’t think so.

Saturday night, we went over to one of Rocketboy’s school friend’s house for dinner. They were right nice folk. The father is a contractor, and the renovations they’ve done on what was once a tiny, tiny house are quite impressive. Their older son is the same age as Rocketboy, and their daughter was born within a month of Steakette, so we’re basically on the same life schedule.

My brother spent most of Saturday building a cheap-o fence in the backyard, along with doggie-door access. It looked good, but it wasn’t more than 30 minutes before we saw Magic out in the front yard, wandering around. He did some trick where he flattened himself down and slid between the slats on the stairs to the deck.

I guess that’s why they call him “Magic”.

My brother had also read in the City Dog book we got him that there was a leash-less dog run at Chattahoochee Park, and went up there Sunday afternoon to check it out. Apparently, that was some sort of typ-o.

RocketBro’s continued his house hunt, with an eye towards convenient dog parks. He did some driving around with printouts from with disappointing results. His hopes for a suitable, non-shack sub $200k home are dimming, but I remain positive. Worst case, I’m sure he can find a roommate.

Friday night, I hadn’t yet adjusted to the Atlanta time zone, so I stayed up to watch Thank You For Smoking, a Netflix rental that had been languishing on our shelf for way too long. I thought it was good. It wasn’t laugh-out loud funny, but engaging with a persuasive anti-hero for a protagonist.

1 Which is delightful indeed.
2 Fairfield, Ohio.
3 which the old people in my family got from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.