Thursday, August 30, 2007

Let's Walk Backwards A Bit

Diogenes was walking backwards across the Agora, affecting a studied indifference to all who laughed at him. Finally, when he had collected a large following he stopped and announced, "You are laughing at me walking just a little distance backwards while you all lead your entire lives arse-about."

"And what's more," he asked, "can you change your way of living as easily as this?" Whereupon, he turned on his heel and walked off in normal fashion.

I'd like to look back just a bit, the past always seems clearer than the future. When you are in survival mode it is good to remind yourself of the positive things you've done. It was a time not so long ago, as a slightly younger man, and I was building my first new construction house. These pictures are from a friend of mine, the year 2003. I was building with a business partner in Angleton, Texas, and we were, for the area, innovating. Angleton is a bedroom community populated by people dominated by Dow Chemical, blue collar to be sure. Our concept was to give them the good stuff, the things no one else would do in a house in this price range. Instead of rolled vinyl in the Kitchen we installed tile, oh yeah and granite countertops, the whole house was brick with no hardiplank, we built out the closets, featured the front porch instead of the garage, all things that seemed normal enough but no builder down there was doing. It was exciting, difficult and fun all at the same time. The product was a definate win, and the house sold immediately. I can't wait to turn around to the future.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Curse Sir Walter Raleigh & Page the Physician

Everyone has to have an angle and even Sir Walter Raleigh, needed an angle. How do you make money from these wretched New World colonies? One word tobacco. Sir Walter has a bad head day, gets his lobbed off at the hands of an executioner and now cut to present I'm stuck smoking these awful cigarettes at $4.50 a pack. As mentioned in previous blog, "The Writing Is On The Wall", I intend to quit smoking for several reasons. Smoking has become a social no no, and even the great sport of sipping a Martini and smoking will become a thing of the past in bars and restaurants in Houston come September. Secondly, just do the math, one pack a day @ $4.50 a pack, thirty days in a month, lets say we just call it $150 per month, $1800.00 per year. That is a lot of wompam for really negative benefit. Smoking is bad for you, check it with American Cancer Association, it significantly increases your risk of heart attack and stroke check with American Heart Association.
So let's quit smoking shall we? there are about as many ways to quit as there are brands of cigarettes, including but not limited to prescription drugs Zyban or Chantix, need a physician for these , hypnotism, the nicotine patch/hand lotion/gum/inhaler, acupuncture (you know who likes that method) all designed to rid you of the addictive nature of tobacco. Now I'm qitting to get healthy, no doubt, but I'm also trying to save a buck or two and all these methods cost as much as the habit itself. So I am going to rely on the oldest method in the book: Cold Turkey. Simply put, just stop smoking, or put another way stop buying cigarettes. I've done it before, at the urging of a now ex girlfriend, I quit smoking, promptly gained about 40 pounds, she dumped me, I started smoking again. Weight gain is a big concern for smokers, so I really have some work cut out for me, quit smoking and to stay healthy. By the way, don't start smoking and you will never have to deal with this. By yet another bit of technical wizardry, I installed a cigarette counter to the right on this blog which will keep me honest. Hopefully in about three weeks, $120 saved, from today I'll have kicked the nicotine addiction part, and be on the path to clean living.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Just This One Time I'll Get Personal

From the movie The Godfather:

Kay: [asking about Carlo's murder] Michael, is it true?
Michael: Don't ask me about my business, Kay.
Kay: Is it true?
Michael: Don't ask me about my business...
Kay: No.
Michael: [slamming his hand on the desk] Enough! All right. This one time, this one time I'll let you ask me about my affairs.
Kay: Is it true? Is it?
Michael: No.
Kay: [sighing relief] I guess we both need a drink, huh?

What do you think is the best movie? What's your favorite movie? There is, at least with me, a big difference between the two. My mom might not have been the best person I ever have known, she was my mom after all, there are always issues, but she was definately my favorite person in the world, and still is. She was naturally beautiful, poised, and funny in a Lucille Ball sort of way. Flawed by the fact that she cared so much about everyone around her and her "boys" in particular. Rough times raising two boys in the 1970's, the pre Reagan, pre goody goody era. Growing up she would take me to see R rated movies, she let my brother and I listen to Richard Pryor albums that would make a sailor blush. She was protective, but when it came to thought and narrative she had no fear, this is the world we live in, this is how things are. She died unexpectedly 19 years ago today at the age of 55, a big rip off. I remember reading the newspaper that sizzling hot summer day and seeing that Enzo Ferrari, and Jean Michelle Basquiat had died, it was a very bad day for my favorite people. She one time quipped with me that if there were reincarnation, and she had to go through this whole being alive thing again, she at least would like to come back as someone with thinner thighs. After all these years, and all that has changed in this world since... I find not words, so I will defer to Aeschylus

He who learns must suffer

And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget

Falls drop by drop upon the heart,

And in our own despite, against our will,

Comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.

Mary Tom Semos Demopulos

November 10th 1932 - August 12th 1988

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Writing Is On The Wall

I'm not talking about some tawdry bar men's room philosophy. The above picture is from just such a place, Rudyard's, here in Houston, where obviously someone felt compelled to impart a little wisdom for all those seeking relief. No, I am referring to the behavior that goes on in this bar and countless others in the city of Houston, namely, Smoking. Drinking and smoking go together much like drinking and driving used to in the old days, but this is soon to end. The new city ordinance which bans smoking in all bars and restaurants takes effect in September. Now those of you with a keen eye for observation might have noticed in my previous blogs a clue into my personal habits. There it is right there, pictured in the my very first post as I exit my friends Porsche and again right before your eyes in the header to my blog I have taken the liberty of highlighting the objects in question, a pack of cigarettes with lighter. Yep, I smoke cigarettes. Let's use our crystal ball here for a moment and look into the not too distant future, I see smokers coraled onto a patio, bunched up, puffing away, with other smokers ruing the day that our nasty habit was expelled from polite socialising. Why? Why, oh god of justice and mercy is this happening? One reason: Smoking Is Bad For Your Health. Well I for one have read the writing on the wall and it's time to quit smoking. In upcoming blog I will set out a strategy for ridding myself of this most pervasive of drug addictions and hopefully will be the healthier and happier for it.

Sunday, August 5, 2007


It is a child's swimming pool game, Marco Polo, one person with eyes supposedly closed yelling "Marco" treading water while all others in the pool respond "Polo". Blindly I tread around this urban space waiting to tag someone, something, some sort of contact with anything. To survive out here you always have to work the angles. Then it hit me, like a diamond piercing my forehead, reach out! go big! China! That's right, China, this blog is about surviving in an urban environment, who best to profit from this advice and expertise but the burgeoning urban populace of China. Using a touch of technical wizardry I've installed an instant translation link above. Now I will address my remarks to the people of the great country of China.

Welcome all people of The Peoples Republic of China. I enjoy very much your mass produced products and glorious ancestry. Please heed closely this advice found here in this blog. Click often the Ads By Google box directly to the right for even more prosperous advice. I've included above this photo* of me with tofu plate and cell phone juxtaposed to a scene of my city, Houston, USA. Click on photo to make bigger. Get use to all the cars and traffic, always use your blinker when changing lanes and make sure your mirrors are properly adjusted. Please read my blog, and I will be working diligently on dubbing the video, "R134A Redux", into Mandarin, I'm sure it is hot there too. Thank you very much....Shay Shay

* For some reason the header picture does not show up on translated page.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Really, Happy?

It really pains me to say this, but maybe it's time to sharpen the pencil just a little. Now fun is fun but from time to time we got to refrag the hard drive. I mean come on, it's now 2007, this isn't Caddy Shack, we are not throwing some Carter era kegger here. We know about stuff now, smoking bad, chicken fried steak leads to lipitor, don't drink and drive...too much. So what am I to say, Sarah threw an homage to an earlier time, a time in the Montrose not so long ago, where cheap beer, legal ecstasy, and the walk of shame still ruled the day. Why did she break these windows? I still have no clue even though she has been quizzed several times, still aloof. I give up, yep, other fish to fry let's just chalk this one up to a flash back. Rehappy!