Shalom means hello, goodbye and peace...

I'm going to Israel early next week and don't anticipate posting until I return. However, I have already bought a journal to write posts on the road (and in the air) and am taking a digital camera to show you some of the many sights.

I'll see you crazy kids soon...and with lots of stories to tell! Stay tuned for "Blundering Through Israel" in the second week of July!


Sometimes you wonder what the editor was thinking...

Rarely... ok, very rarely, I will look at my alma mater's student newspaper online. Now, my school has quite the proud sports tradition. However, it also has a reputation as a party school. So, imagine how my sixth-grade mind digested this little nugget:

Among some of my thoughts were:

1. "I bet it's a sleep-away camp."

2. "I didn't know they needed a camp for that."

3. "Do they need volunteers for the activities?"

4. "Gives a whole new meaning to the rise-and-shine wakeup call."

5. "And just when you thought you knew what you were getting when you asked for S'more."

Any others?


You can't take it with you...

As you may know, I'm a bit of a news junkie. So imagine my surprise when I saw this article:

While articles about Congress giving themselves a pay hike usually bother me, what struck me about this particular article was the following text:

"This year, Vice President Cheney, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Chief Justice William Rehnquist receive $212,100. Associate justices receive $203,000. House and Senate party leaders get $183,500."

For those who don't follow American Government, Chief Justice William Rehnquist died and was replaced by Chief Justice John Roberts before the present term of the Supreme Court.

While we definitely have our share of governmental problems in the U.S., I'm inclined to guess that we probably don't pay federal judges after they died. Went to jail, yes. But dead, probably not.

Update: Evidently, AP discovered Rehnquist isn't going to receive a salary in the grave after all and changed to the story to reflect that CJ Roberts will receive $ 212,100.


Hey Little Twelve Toes

Although there's no reference to the good ol' School House Rock days, Carnival of the Mundane 12 has all other types of fun over at Kiss My Sass. Make sure to check it out.


Adventures in home improvement...

Lately, I've been in a hell that has kept me busy on my weekends. The nine levels of hell of home improvement.

Let me start by giving you a baseline to understand where I'm coming from. I am not handy. As I've mentioned elsewhere, the Home Depot has changed their slogan specifically for me: "You will screw it up. You, we can't help."

Typically, my home improvement projects follow this pattern: I start with the best of intentions, don't know what I'm doing and, ultimately, fuck it up requiring it to get fixed at a much higher price by someone who actually has a clue.

That right. I'm the Dubbya of home improvement.

So it was with the best of intentions that I took on dealing with my kitchen wallpaper.

As you probably guessed, I did not take on this project lightly. However, this had to be done.

When I did the walkthrough of my house when I bought it, I had a few ideas for change.

Oh, I could put a fan with a light here. (It's Florida...every room has a fan.)

I could change the color of this room and repaint this bathroom.

Maybe I could get some flowers to plant out here.

But one feature stood out.

What the fuck did someone do to the kitchen with this hideous wallpaper? And what species of invertebrate was tasked with putting it up?

To say the kitchen wallpaper was horrible is a profound understatement. It was vile. Seriously vile.

The pattern was terrible. The seams weren't lined up when it was applied.

And, worse, it was cheap.

I say "was" because I've spent the past month of weekends trying to get this paper-shaped crap off my walls.

Before you give me the standard, "Oh that's easy...just use a steamer." Don't. Been there, done that, have the Lowe's return receipt. The steamer doesn't work. Remember, I said this is "cheap" wallpaper.

What that means is that the "wallpaper" comes off easily. Too easily in fact. This whole project started because the wallpaper decided to start coming off on its own. So once I started ripping it down, I saw the real problem. The problem that would make me feel like Sisyphus for the past month. The cheap wallpaper had a layer of masking paper underneath.

That masking paper has been the bane of my existence on this project. I can't paint over it, because once it gets damp, parts of it start wrinkle, bubble, or come off the wall.

Parts of it.

Other parts adhere to the wall stronger than Michael Jackson does to the story that he's never had more than one plastic surgery.

And surgery is pretty much what it takes to get them off. The wall, that is.

Also, don't bother to tell me, "Just hire someone." Workers won't do this. Seriously. They outright refuse. They're more than willing to fix the damage after I finish, but they absolutely won't take off the wallpaper because the amount of time requiring to do this work comes out to almost nothing per hour, or they would charge me more than the price of granite countertops to get it done.

So I've spent a month of weekends with water and a metal scraper, prying pieces of masking paper off my walls. And I've done a pretty good job of tearing into the walls as well.

And now, the rock looks like it's getting to the top of the hill.

Of course, painting comes next. So I'm sure it will roll back down in the near future.

Update: For those who are curious about what this looks like, this shot of the ugly wallpaper, the masking paper and my bare wall will hopefully provide some sense of my pain.