Saturday, September 7, 2013


Blacky beat upWe had a good visit with Mom today. She is doing well and seemed upbeat and happy! We did a few things for her around the place, and she was quite happy to have Ken trim the shrubbery. (I can’t use the word ‘shrubbery’ without thinking of the Knights Who Say Ni!) After that we sat out on her porch and enjoyed the breeze and chatted a bit. Now we’re just hanging out at home and watching other college games while we wait for the ND-Michigan game. Oh, and thanks for the horseradish cheese, Mom! We’re going to try some of that tonight!

Ken started the ball rolling with the insurance claim on the car today. The appraiser will be coming on Monday to check it out, and we’ll go from there. Ken got a copy of the police report online, and all culpability is given to the truck that hit him. The police report also estimates the damage at $5,000-$10,000. GAH!

I’m not surprised, though. I took a closer look at it when we got home from Mom’s. (Click on picture to embiggenate.) I’m no expert in how much it will all cost, but I had two uncles who ran body shops for decades, and my cousin still runs one of them. The entire door will have to be replaced, and I’m guessing the rear panel will also need to be replaced, because it’s got a large dent near the door and several fairly deep gouges over the wheel well. The front panel will probably not need to be replaced, but I think they’ll probably still paint it. With all of that, the repair costs could really be up there.

In fact, because there are so many miles on his car, it’s entirely possible that it might be totaled. If that happens, my cousin might not get the repair business from us! But we’re just going to wait and see what we hear from the appraiser. We’ve just been speculating about different scenarios and vehicles, but before we get too deep into that, we’ll have to see what the estimated damage is.

Taking a closer look made me feel a little ill. First and foremost, it really could have been so much worse...for Ken. He came out relatively unscathed. Just a small cut on his hand (he picked a shard of glass out of his scalp this morning), and some generalized aches and pains. He’s been taking Advil to help with that, and he’s okay. He had a little chip on his glasses—thank science he was wearing them, because a piece of glass could have gone into his eye!—and he will talk to the claims adjuster to see if new lenses are covered. I would think they would cover that. It’s not on the edge, it’s right in his line of sight, and that would bother me. It makes you think about how close things can be, and how our mortality is sometimes just inches away. Our friend Lisa expressed something close to that, about “inches and seconds,” and she is so right.

That’s the main thing, and I know that a car is just a car, and can be repaired or replaced. But Mustangs are special. I’m driving my fourth one (“Slick”), and Ken got his (“Blacky”) the year after I got mine. I love Mustangs like no other car, and to see Blacky all scraped up and dented, his side mirror hanging down with its guts exposed...well, it just hurts my heart. Blacky has been a faithful companion and has delivered us safely to Florida several times. He’s been to Chicago, Indianapolis, “Woodbury,” and various other spots near and far. Seeing him all banged up like that just makes me feel so sad. I hope it works out that we can get him fixed up. “We can rebuild him!” If not...well, we’ll cross that bridge IF we come to it.

In the meantime, Team Nutwood is hangin’ tough!


Friday, September 6, 2013

Weekend plans and a close call

Nutwood sky 9-13It’s a low-key weekend for us, as we have no major plans...and I’m good with that!

A visit to my Mom’s tomorrow to visit with her and do a few things for her. I’m happy to report that she is doing well and enjoying her new church, and she is still keeping in touch with her friends at the other church. I have asked her to not make a big lunch for us (we’ll see how that works out!), because in the evening, we’ll be watching the Notre Dame-Michigan game on TV (it’s in Ann Arbor this year), and having a ton of snack food for dinner. I got several more things today, and Ken’s Mom sent some yummy appetizers over for us—bacon-wrapped beef medallions and bacon-wrapped shrimp. Key word there: BACON! Anyway, it’s going to be a ton of food, and I probably got too much, as usual. It’s always fun to do our snack food football evenings, though, and this is our first one of the season!

This game is bittersweet, because it will be the last meeting between ND and Michigan for the foreseeable future. I have no idea what took place behind the scenes, or what negotiations took place in cigar-filled back rooms—like college football is mob-era Vegas. Probably more like it all happened in pristine, sterile lawyers’ offices! But for whatever reason, they are not continuing one of the greatest rivalries in college football, and I’m pretty bummed about it. Many of my fellow Irish fans are bummed about it, too. We’re not that far away from each other, so whether the game is at ND Stadium or at the Big House, it’s packed with fans from the other team. There have been some great games over the decades, and it’s really a shame that this is stopping for now. I hope they get back together soon. We’ll be reunited and it’ll feel so good!

Sunday we’re just sticking around here, barbecuing some ribs and enjoying football. This might be one of the last weekends we can barbecue, so we wanted to make sure we do that. Not giving up hope for subsequent weekends, but the weather this weekend is supposed to be great, so we’ll take advantage of it while we can!

The close call came tonight when Ken was on his way home from his Mom’s place. He got sideswiped when going over some railroad tracks. He called to let me know that he was okay, but he might be a while, as he waited for the cops. The guy in the other vehicle hit and run! BASTARD! A couple of witnesses saw what happened and were kind enough to stick around and tell the cop what had happened and give their names and numbers. Thank you, Citizens!

I was reassured to know that Ken was okay, but when he got home (sooner than expected), I skedaddled out to look at the car...and holy shit. Really bad damage. It’s amazing that Ken wasn’t hurt, and I am so relieved that he is okay. It could have been so much worse, and I’m still feeling weird and agitated. His poor car! But cars can be fixed or replaced, and what a relief that he wasn’t hurt. He took his shirt off out on the deck, and a few pieces of glass fell out of his shirt. He had no cuts other than a tiny one on his hand—thank you, Ford engineering!—and he took some Advil when he got home in case he has some muscle issues, which he probably will. You tense up from something like that, and he already had a headache from the tension by the time he got home.

SO...good outcome to what could have been something very very bad. Heavy sigh of relief!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Welcome, Davenport!

New couchThe new furniture was scheduled to be delivered between 8 and 11 am today, so I made sure I was up at 7:30, so I had a few minutes to wake up and clear the cobwebs—the cobwebs of my mind, that is. I wasn’t about to do a cobweb run for a couple of furniture delivery guys that wouldn’t care one way or the other! I had set the alarm just in case, but I didn’t have a great night of sleep, so I was up before the alarm went off.

I didn’t have to wait super long. They got here about 9 am, and everything was unloaded, unpackaged, and in place by 9:30. I got things situated where I wanted them, moved the tables back into place, and let Sheeba out of the back bedroom so he could check it out. He wasn’t quite sure what to make of the new stuff at first, but he got bored quickly and headed back to the bedroom for a nap. As did I. I went back to bed and slept for a couple of hours! I wasn’t sure I’d be able to sleep, but I had no problem. I’m glad I did, because I felt much more energetic when I got up, and got my workout done, as well as a few things around the house.

I’m very pleased with my experience with Elder-Beerman (thanks to my brother-in-law, Tom!) and with their delivery service. (Their parent company is Bon Ton, which includes Carson’s.) I was still shutting the doors after the delivery guys left when I get a phone call with an automated survey asking about my delivery experience. High marks all around!

Sheeba and couchI love the furniture. It sits a bit taller, so it looks a little bigger, but it’s not as long, so our walkways are bigger. The width is a little bit more, so it sits further into the living room, but that’s okay. It’s nice and firm, not mushy, and I’ll sit up higher for watching TV and movies. I love the color, and the material seems sturdy. We bought the extra guarantee on it, so if we run into problems down the road, we can get it replaced easily. It has a little more mid-century modern feel to it, and I’m looking forward to choosing new curtains soon.

So who wants to come over and hang out and watch a movie?

One last thing on couches. We donated the old couch and loveseat to Drew and the State Theater to use as he wanted. They have some couches and chairs in the theater, just some cozy spots to hang out. We said that if he couldn’t use them, feel free to donate them to a local charity, or whatever. Today he posted this picture of Ol’ Green hanging out on the sidewalk in front of the State, and wrote that people were welcome to come by and hang out and enjoy the beautiful day. I don’t know if he’ll end up keeping it or not—it’s still in fairly good shape structurally—but it made me grin to see my old couch sitting out in front of a great theater in fabulous downtown South Bend! It started its life as a city couch, when I lived in Indianapolis. Then it moved with me and became a country couch, and now it moved on up and is back to being a city couch again. Thanks for many years of companionship, Ol’ Green. I hope you’ll meet lots of new friends in your new digs!

City couch

I couldn’t help but think of this!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The easy way out

Colonel Meow3I was still up last night when Facebook and Twitter started exploding with news of Ariel Castro’s suicide in prison. If you don’t recall the name, he was the guy in Cleveland who held three women captive for ten years, and he was recently convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

I refuse to post the bastard’s picture here, so you get Colonel Meow instead.

I felt about as angry Colonel Meow looks when I heard the news. What immediately struck me was that these women were strong enough to survive for ten years, and with the help of one brave Clevelander, were able to escape. Apparently their will to live and survive was strong, and from what I’ve read, they are doing as well as can be expected.

But not Castro. He decided that the prospect of life in prison was just too much for him to bear. So he twisted a bedsheet into a rope and hung himself.

You coward. You pussy (no insult to Colonel Meow intended). There is more strength and dignity in the pinky fingers of those women than there is in all of you. There is more courage in Charles Ramsey, the guy who saved them, than you could ever dream of possessing.

It’s times like these when I wish, just a little bit, that I believed in Hell.

I hope the women can take strength in this and will not feel robbed of justice. I feel a bit of that myself, because the guy should have had to spend the rest of his life experiencing what he put those women through, and that includes the rapes. I hope they can come away from this news realizing that in the face of their strength, he was weak. That they withstood years of imprisonment and abuse at his hands, but he was unable to make it past a few months in jail. That they are alive and he is dead. They will go on, and he will not. They have the rest of their lives ahead of them. His is done. Forever.

You’re still standing, ladies. Continue to be strong, and know that, in the end, you beat him.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The other class

Deadly ChoicesNo, not socioeconomic classes! Remember, Rick Santorum says we don’t have those here. That’s Marxism talk!

Today I started the second class I’m taking through Coursera. This one, Vaccines, is actually relative to what I did for many years (Microbiology), and it is taught by Dr. Paul Offit, who is an outspoken critic of the anti-vaxxer movement. He touched briefly on that in the introduction video, in which he talked about the three vaccination exemptions in the United States.

Medical: You have an allergy to one of the components of the vaccine, like eggs in influenza vaccines.

Religious: Obvious, but he questioned why any religion would specifically ban vaccinations, because religious books like the Bible and the Koran were written long before vaccinations were invented. He said this seemed to originate more with the Christian Science movement, which says that infections like smallpox are a “state of mind” and should be prayed away. No comment, but you can probably guess what I think about that!

Philosophical: This is the exemption that anti-vaxxers use. They choose not to vaccinate based on their personal belief system. Dr. Offit had a great point in that it doesn’t matter whether or not you believe vaccines work. They have been shown over and over in thousands of studies to effectively prevent infectious diseases. The supposed autism connection has been thoroughly disproven, the original paper from Andrew Wakefield completely discredited, and his medical license in England was stripped.

Then Dr. Offit talked about the earliest forms of vaccines, which involved whole animals for production. These included smallpox, polio, and rabies. The rabies vaccine developed by Louis Pasteur is still in use.

I enjoyed it very much, and I took the quiz. I found myself wishing there were a couple more lectures this week, but that’s it for the week. This isn’t anything new for me, but it’s something that I’m still interested in and it’s fun for me to do this course. I don’t get college credit for it, but I don’t really need that, do I? This is just learning for learning’s sake, and that can be the best kind.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Back to school

School of RockI hope everyone had a nice holiday! Today was an uneventful day for us, and I was happy to wind down a bit after a busy and fun week. We both did a few things around here (lawn is mowed!), and Ken stopped by to see his Mom, but other than that, we enjoyed our down day. Tonight is grilled pork chops, grilled potatoes, and a salad. Oh, and a bottle of Merlot. A “Walking Dead” episode followed by “Under the Dome,” and we’re good to go!

I believe I posted a while back that I was going to take a few online courses on Coursera. Tomorrow I am starting one about vaccines taught by Dr. Paul Offit, which I am really looking forward to. I loved his book Deadly Choices: How The Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All, and I think it will be cool to hear his lectures on the subject.

Today I started The History of Rock Part One with John Covach at University of Rochester, and let me just flash the double devil horns here and yell, “This course ROCKS!” I watched a couple of the videos earlier today, then watched a couple more later on...and ended up watching all eleven videos provided for the first week. I was fascinated! I did know quite a bit about earlier musicians and their works, including country & western artists (thanks, Mom and Dad!), but I really enjoyed learning about how radio influenced the proliferation of mainstream pop music, indie record labels, regional radio, and the confluence of three influences leading to rock and roll: mainstream pop, country & western, and rhythm & blues. (And yes, there will be a quiz next week! I’m taking notes!)

My absolute favorite was the last lecture, about hokum blues and sexual lyrics. I had never heard the term “hokum blues” before, but I guess it was about adult-themed blues songs, full of double entendres, and intended for mature listeners. Imagine the outrage when white teenagers started listening to the regional radio stations playing black music, and heard songs like “Let Me Play With Your Poodle,” “Work With Me Annie,” and the one I’ll post at the bottom of this entry, “Sixty Minute Man.”

I am really glad I signed up for this, and I am enjoying it thoroughly. I will definitely search out a few of the mentioned songs on the Interwebz to enhance my learning and listening pleasure, but it makes me feel good to know that I am familiar with many of the country and Big Band artists the lecturer discusses. As someone who loves rock and roll, I really like learning more about how seemingly unrelated subjects influenced the development of the genre I love so much.

Rock on, Citizens!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Beth’s Music Moment: Dropkick Murphys LIVE!

DKM3Step with me into the Wayback Machine as we travel back...back...back in time...all the way back to this past Wednesday!

After a quick bite to eat at Backstage Grill (mediocre food, but early access to seating in the venue, so it was worth it) we found a spot on the second level of Club Fever, a local nightclub. It had been ages since I’d been there. I think the last time might have been with Shane for Better Than Ezra, and that was before I met Ken. Anyway, this time we were there for Dropkick Murphys. (Click on picture to embiggen.)

First, we got to hear a couple of opening bands. I’m sorry I can’t recall the name of the first one, but they were one I wasn’t familiar with. High energy, and the drummer was great! The second band was the Swingin’ Utters (I double-checked, and it really is spelled with Ts!), and I was familiar with them from Rock Band, of all places! One of their songs was on Rock Band 3, and I liked it enough that I downloaded a couple of their albums. Also high energy and fun.

But the main attraction was, of course, the Murphys. They hail from the Boston area, and they’ve been around for quite a few years, but I only recently became familiar with them because they started playing one of their songs at Notre Dame football games. I was like, “This song is so cool, but I don’t know what it is!” My friend Bart informed me that it was “Shipping Up To Boston” by Dropkick Murphys. When I saw they were going to play Club Fever, I said I thought it would be fun to go. That’s a pretty high-profile band for a smaller venue, so I try to grab such opportunities when I can. I ordered a couple of CDs, and we listened to them on a recent road trip and enjoyed them. They bill themselves as an “American Celtic punk band,” and by science, that is exactly what they sound like! Although they are obviously a punk band, they add Irish folk elements, and include instruments like banjo, mandolin, and even bagpipes. It’s a fun mix.

DKM6All three bands were great, and the crowd was in a great mood, really getting into them all. As I’ve written, it was the Notre Dame home opener, so there may have been quite a few college students there. After the bands were done, someone started a “Here come the Irish!” chant, so I think it’s a safe bet that there were students and plenty of fans there! Lots of energy coming from the bands, and the crowd gave it right back. The sound was great, and there was even a mosh pit (and no, I did not participate). We don’t often get this sort of national act right downtown (we usually have to drive to one of the local casinos, or up to Chicago), especially punk bands, so this was a fun treat. I got a kickass black Murphys tanktop and I’m looking forward to wearing that soon. I am definitely a new fan, and I will seek out more of their music. We listened to one of their CDs as we were driving to the game and while we were tailgating on Saturday, and it was a great soundtrack for the day!

Fun show and fun bands...I hope we get a few more like that in the future!

Coming soon to this space: Friday night’s festivities and today’s lunch and tour of the State Theater with Drew.

Here is a snippet of video that Ken took. TURN IT UP!