Sunday, October 31, 2004

Halloween 2004

Ah, Halloween. This above all others is the one holiday made for children. We all know the routine – kids get to dress up in outlandish costumes and run about the neighborhood demanding candy from neighbors. One of the great things about it is how it places no demands on children. Santa requires you stay on his good list if you want Christmas gifts, but on Halloween even the bad kids get candy. It’s not a privilege to be earned; it’s an entitlement of all children. The streets in our neighborhood teemed with children moving in packs from house to house. We saw costumes of every design: the classic Raggedy Ann, the clichéd Scream guy, the trendy Spider-Man. Sheridan dressed as a cat, and Sabrina was a witch.

Aside: I miss the cheesy old Ben Cooper masks & costumes; remember how the rubber band on the mask would pull loose from the staple and snap you in the ear? Or the vinyl costumes that tied in the back and looked nothing like the body of the character you were supposed to be? I think I posted a link about that earlier, but here it is again:

Lisa and I followed Sheridan and Sabrina as they went running from house to house. They came out with a really good haul—we took a break at one point so they could rest and empty their baskets. Sheridan took the opportunity to change into a Princess costume and while she was upstairs I appropriated her Special Darks. Probably the funniest thing that happened was when the girls went up to one house where a costumed man jumped out at them and yelled “boo!” They didn’t move; they just stood there with their bags out as if to say, “We’re not scared. Please give us candy now.” Lisa laughed and blamed it on their being desensitized by TV. The girls told us later they were scared, but not enough to run away. At another point, a black cat sauntered up and lay down on the sidewalk. We walked right by it and it didn’t move (unusual for a cat!).

Nora and Joseph stayed at the house to hand out candy and watch Taxi Driver. It was the first time either of them had seen it. Nora’s opinion: it was slow but Travis Bickle is an interesting character to watch. I have to agree.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Back in the Saddle Again

Wanting to get out from under my rental car, I decided to skip class again (Professional Responsibility & Federal Income Tax) and look for a car. Joe Myers Ford had a 2005 Mustang, the first one I’ve ever seen, and of course I sat in it. But they didn’t want to let anyone test drive it unless they were serious buyers. It was $22, red, automatic, and had the racing stripe “MUSTANG” across the bottom of the door. The “hump” between the seats was higher and wider than I’m used to, making it feel almost like a table. I didn’t like it. If it had been a standard, dark red, without the decal, then maybe!

Joe Myers Toyota had a 2003 Mustang with 30,000 miles, a standard in charcoal gray. He wanted 12K for it. Now I could get a convertible with leather for $16, but I didn’t really care about leather, and I wasn’t too sure I’d drive around with the top down too much in Houston. I never drive with the windows down, so I probably(?) wouldn’t drive with the top down. And that’s what I plan to keep telling myself, anyway! :-P

So I decided to go ahead and buy the ’03. Cue Aerosmith and the title of this post.

When I got home the house was hot. The AC wouldn’t turn on. Not even the circulating fan. Turned it off for a while, and then it came back on. Someone’s coming to look at it Friday afternoon.

They say the Chinese have a curse that says, “May you live in interesting times.” October is sure turning out to be an “interesting” month!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Sheridan's Baptism

Monday Sheridan told me that she had decided to be baptized Wednesday night. This afternoon Dana [my ex] called me with news of a family emergency in Henderson, and said she was taking Sheridan out of school and heading out tonight. She arranged for Sheridan’s baptism to be bumped up to today, and they had it at Dana’s church on her way out of town. By circumstance, I had skipped out on ConLaw so I could carshop, so I was almost home when she called. I met them at the church at 6:00 to be with Sheridan when she was baptized. There wasn’t a big service; apart from Sheridan, Dana and myself, there was only the assistant pastor, his wife, and a disinterested three-year-old. I bought her some white flowers and a movie.

Allstate called me and told me that my Mustang was officially a total loss and they estimated its value as $5600, minus a $500 deductible. Result? I’m getting back $5,100 for my car. I’m supposed to be able to find one just like it for the same price. Where do the Allstate people shop? ‘Cause I’m going there!

On the way home I stopped at a couple of dealerships and test drove an Alero (hey, it was cheap!) and a Monte Carlo. The Monte Carlo was too expensive, and the Alero has a terrible crash-test rating. Will start over tomorrow.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Norah Jones in Concert

Nora and I went to the Woodlands to hear Norah Jones perform. She filled the Pavilion, and the crowd was quite different from when we saw Sting & Annie Lennox. Everyone cheered for songs from her Grammy-winning first album, and for her more Country-sounding second album, not so much. The concert was pleasant but spare, lacking the glitz and flash we enjoyed from Sting a few weeks ago and from Cher last year, but I didn’t mind. Glitz and flash isn’t really what we would expect from Norah Jones, and it would have seemed out of place. Surprisingly, she contrasted herself with Axel Rose two or three times, joking about their difference in style. Somehow I can’t picture her listening to Axel Rose. (Is he still popular?)

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Update on the Car

Allstate called me, finally. They have decided to total the car and write me a check. I kind of expected that. They are going to have it towed to their claims center and decide what they want to give me for it, and it will be Wednesday (a week from now) before they get back with me. I've heard of companies like Progressive coming out to the accident site and cutting a check right there. I will have waited almost two weeks to get mine. Unbelievable! I am renting a car now and it's not too cheap. Grr.

Oh, and it pisses me off that my full coverage for a six year old car costs as much as the vehicle did new. The insurance company's liability on a total loss is reduced each year along with the car's fair market value. The premiums should be prorated based on a depreciation index.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Letter to the Editor: Beaumont Enterprise

A substitute shows pre-approved clips from Fahrenheit 9-11 in alternative school and it becomes national news. Why? Because, according to Mr. Kurth, schools should not be in the business of exposing students to "propoganda" that is "spun to a liberal viewpoint." School Superintendent Carroll Thomas said, "We don't need to be showing biased viewpoints in BISD." As a former educator in public schools, I wholeheartedly disagree.

Mr. Kurth objects to the film on two grounds: its bias, and its R-rating. If the film is biased, all the more reason to show it. How do you teach people to think? You present them with differing perspectives on issues and discuss. Allow them to weigh the arguments and draw their own conclusions. I have read nothing that says the teacher advocated the views expressed in the movie. The teacher should be lauded for a creative attempt to think outside the box and present students with real-world debates over current issues.

The R rating is a laughable non-issue. The clip was previewed and approved, so we may trust there was no offensive language or disturbing imagery in the clips they viewed. A spokesperson for the school said R-rated movies have no place in public schools. When I was in high school in the 80s we watched All the President's Men and Patton, both of which were R-rated for language. My district recognized the value of the class discussion that would result and permitted the viewings (uncensored, I might add). This son isn't 5 years old. He's 17. In a few months he'll be an adult. Certainly he's old enough to be exposed to different viewpoints, challenged, and given the chance to form his own opinions.

Today BISD stands at the cusp of a new Victorian Age, where parents may bowdlerize curricula to suit their own particular world views. "Hard Times" indeed.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Linda's Wedding

Well, they finally did it. Linda and Chad tied the knot today. I missed the wedding but Nora and I made it to the reception. It was in a ballroom at the Rice hotel downtown. Swanky!

Friday, October 08, 2004

End of the Road?

I was taking Sheridan to Fry's to get a dance pad for her PlayStation. We were pulling into the parking lot when wham! Yep. I was in an accident. Everyone was fine, thanks for asking. Sheridan was pretty shook up and Dana came to get her. My car, however, was NOT fine. Front passenger side was mashed in pretty good. I am afraid the insurance people will total it and send me six grand. Should know more tomorrow. I'm conflicted about that. I absolutely don't want a car payment, but I've had that car since December 19, 1998. It has 88,022 miles on it. In the meantime I have a rental car that I have to pay for. So I may be buying a new vehicle. Not exactly what I'm planned for the week, but hey.

At least no one's in the hospital!