My attempt to move from Southern California and create a happy and sustainable urban homestead in North Dakota, with some musings on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.



Friday, March 12, 2010

Haircut and an Assault Rifle

I went to get a haircut today in anticipation of some work related matters.  Not work of the "from the couch with laptop" variety but "in front of an actual client" variety.  As such it seemed like a good idea to get one last haircut to trim things up a bit and give an appearance of professionalism.  OK, Alycia told me I was too hairy and should go get a haircut.

Now a brief bit of backstory. This will all make sense in a minute, bear with me.

Back in Springfield, Massachusetts I used to visit a barbershop in downtown with a distinctly ethnic Italian-American cohort of employees.  One day I listened as my barber explained what he would do to the slightly dark skinned gentleman (he looked Puerto Rican or Cuban to me) who walked in the door accompanied by his white girlfriend.  He muttered what he would like to do to this gentleman as he was shaving behind my ear and around my neck with a straight razor.  The activities he spoke of weren't enjoyable sounding and were laced with many unkind racial epithets.  This made me uncomfortable (the word uncomfortable actually doesn't adequately describe my terror, though I feel like I remained calm) since he was holding a straight razor inches from my jugular.  I never visited that barber shop again.  I read a few weeks later in the newspaper that my now-former barber and a friend had been arrested on racketeering, loansharking, and other unsavory charges.  It turns out that this place was an organized crime front, a fact well known to local townsfolk, but oblivious to me, a newcomer. 

I once played pool (I was in a pool league for a while) in a unhygienic/scary run-down strip club in what was left of downtown New Britain, Connecticut, where the home court advantage was apparent since everyone on our team (the visiting team) was terrified of touching anything lest they contract leprosy, or worse.  During the evening an enterprising young gentleman approached and tried to sell me a pair of sneakers and a package of raw chicken breasts for $20.  It must have been a tough night for selling that combination of items as he stopped by on the way out the door and let me know the price had dropped to only $15.  It was a great deal, but unfortunately I didn't think the sneakers were my size. 

I relate these two seemingly unrelated stories because they are 1) the most unusual hair cutting experience I've ever had and 2) the most unusual thing I've ever had someone try to sell to me.  Though neither one of these stories will ever be topped, luckily I can now combine these concepts together into a new and fascinating story 3) the most unusual thing anyone has ever tried to sell me while getting a haircut. 

Back to my haircut yesterday..... Just as I sat down in the barber chair a truck pulled up and a uniformed (he was headed to his job with the border patrol) dude hopped out, pulled a long cardboard box from the truck and proceeded inside.  Though the barber knew who this was, he still made a "I wonder what's in the box?" comment, to which I replied (with what I thought was a funny joke) "I don't think those are flowers for you in the box".  He didn't laugh, though I thought I was being quite funny. 

The long flat box contained a beautiful, shiny black semi-automatic assault rifle, near new condition, "I've only run 2 magazines through it" the guy said.  The weapon was an AR-180 (I think I remember this correctly) but could also be called an AR180 or an AR-180B, there seemed to be some discussion about this point.  The barber wanted to know the exact model number so he could discuss with his gun compatriots and confirm that he was getting a good deal. 

After much discussion, fondling of the rifle, and observation of various accessories that could be attached to it in various places, price was mentioned - $650.  They agreed to meet over the weekend to complete their transaction and the dude in the truck with the rifle left.  Aforementioned barber person was extremely excited about the new gun he was going to purchase, but now was faced with a dilemna - he had too many guns.  I don't know if this was a wife-imposed or self-imposed gun quota, but with a new gun entering the picture, he had to sell one of his current guns (he mentioned having at least seven other rifles). 

Naturally he had a captive audience (that would be me) to describe the gun he planned to sell.  His segue was gentle - "so how do you feel about the AR-22's?" Uhhhh, they're good.  He continued tactfully to try to sell me his now-extra assault rifle, until I explained I wasn't quite in the market for an AR-22, and we proceeded with the rest of the haircut uneventfully.  I enjoy trips to the barber....
This has more bells and whistles, but is the same rifle I checked out yesterday.  Alycia's birthday IS coming up.....don't tell her though, I don't want to ruin the surprise. 

Monday, March 8, 2010

Gray Skies and Slushy Sidewalks

We're on our third or fourth consecutive gray, dreary day here in North Dakota.  It's not terrible by any means, and if nothing else the skies are a harbinger of change.  An indicator that maybe winter is on its way out and Spring can be ushered in.  March proverbially comes in like a lamb and leaves like a lion, and true to anecdotal form, many a snow storm or blizzard is remembered by locals occurring at the end of March around here. 

For the past week, daytime temps have been hovering at or just above the freezing point, meaning that there is a slow melting/slushification process going on.  The middle of the roads are pretty much clear of slush and ice, and the sidewalks are also starting to have ice-free patches on them, but it's still very wet with lots of puddles and standing water, and with rain or wet snow forecast for this week, it'll only stay damp. 

Dog walks have become messy, muddy affairs.  Shaak Ti's frenetic walking pace, exploratory temperament, and zest for life means a serious toweling off in the (appropriately named) mud room before she's let back in the house.  And the snow and ice that melts (or slushifies) during the day refreezes overnight making for slippery conditions in the morning.  The few small patches of still dormant grass are magical wonders for Shaak Ti and she spends plenty of time sniffing and exploring them as if to say "Ahhh, I remember what grass smells like and feels like to my puppy toes". 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

New Poll Question

It's been a while since out last poll questions, sorry about its absence.  This new poll is actually a quiz.  Each person that answers correctly will be entered into a drawing to win a fabulous prize, so take a moment to answer the question.

Our quiz question is about snow melt, specifically about the large amount of yellow snow in our backyard.  It's another sunny day in the mid 20's and we're gonna see some more snow melt today.  Next week has temps in the 30's!!!  Not only that, but the lows are forecast to only be in the mid 20's.  That's just craziness!!!

Your Reading For the Day

Here's some fun reading for you for the day.  The column is in the Boston Review, is written by Eliot Spitzer, and discusses one persons' opinion of the proper role of government intervention in capital markets.

I don't always agree with Spitzer, and some of his actions during his stint as Attorney General for New York were bad for business (in my humble opnion).  But I always appreciate someone who stirs the pot, asks tough questions, and refuses to back down, even if he isn't always right (in my humble opnion) or uses the occasional hooker, sorry, they prefer the term "escort".

Boston Review: Eliot Spitzer - The Rules

Here's a quick excerpt:

"The biggest problems come from the terrible idea that some firms are “too big to fail.” Those who have analyzed the return of equity of major companies understand that when companies get that big they underperform because they cannot be managed. Too-big-to-fail is too-big-not-to-fail. But the major companies are now bolstered by what used to be an implicit and is now an explicit backstop of federal government/taxpayer guarantee on their debt. That guarantee—capital at virtually zero cost—does not improve company performance; it subsidizes continuing underperformance." Amen - preach on.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Grand Forks Men's Show

There was a big event in Grand Forks on Saturday, the annual Grand Forks Men's Show.  Alycia didn't have much of an interest in going, so her Dad and his two buddies came down and the four of us tough hombres went to the show.  There were boats, guns, trailers, RV's. tractors, and many other interesting items. 
 
Alycia's Dad Tom takes aim at an inflated deer and an inflated turkey.  His weapon is a crossbow firing a nerf bolt tipped with a magnet.  He missed.  I did take a shot (picture not provided) but my shot glanced off the top of the turkey.  
 
World champion duck caller Buck Gardner discusses the nuances of duck calling.  I listened for about 15 minutes, and he had a LOT of different duck calls.
 
There were lots of tractors too.  If you don't know this brand of tractor, then....

Afterward we went out and had some lunch - ribs.