Monthly Archives: February 2009

Home Depot Scam

A”heads up” for those men who may be regular Home Depot customers.

Over the last month I became a victim of a clever scam while out shopping. Simply going out to get supplies has turned out to be quite traumatic. Don’t be naive enough to think it couldn’t happen to you or your friends.

Here’s how the scam works:

Two seriously good-looking 20-21 year-old girls come over to your car as you are packing your shopping into the trunk. They both start wiping your windshield with a rag and Windex, with their breasts almost falling out of their skimpy T-shirts. It is impossible not to look.

When you thank them and offer them a tip, they say “No” and instead ask you for a ride to another Home Depot. You agree and they get in the backseat. On the way, they start undressing. Then one of them climbs over into the front seat and starts crawling all over you, while the other one steals your wallet. I had my wallet stolen November 4th, 9th,10th, twice on the 15th, 17th, 20th, & 24th 29th. Also December 1st, 4th, twice on the 8th, 16th, 23rd, 26th, 30th, three times last Saturday and very likely again this upcoming weekend.

So tell your friends to be careful.

P.S. Walmart has wallets on sale 2.99 each

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FGF- Totally NSFW (language)

I’m probably late to this, like I am to all pop culture stuff.  But its damn funny.

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From Madness To Market

Val needed to cop, and right away.  She stepped away from from the stranger’s car and headed toward her connect.  Across the street, she could hear the women on the porch talking and laughing, and in the haze of her addiction, she felt that they were laughing at her.  Val knew little about the people who lived there, she had always just referred to that house as the Mansion in The Hood.  Once, she approached the women there, only to have one of them ask her, “aren’t you tired yet”?  Somewhere, deep down inside of her, Val knew that she was indeed tired.  Not just physically tired.  Tired of her disease.  Tired of it having her walk dangerous streets in the middle of the night.  Tired of taking baths by stealing a few cubes of ice from a soft drink bin at the convenience store. Tired of being the wrong kind of “rock star”. Tired of the lies she told other people, but mostly of the lies she told herself.  So, one day, she made her way back to that mansion, rested her nearly toothless head against the door and knocked.  That was 1,112 days ago.

By age 6, Cynthia had already tried alcohol and marijuana.  At the age of 8, she was raped by her cousin.  A year after that, her father was killed in a fire at the Maury County Jail.  When that happened, Cynthia entered the phase of her life she calls ‘her madness.”  In most respects, that life resembles Val’s; addiction, prostitution, incarceration.  Lies.  The madness, as well as the rage, resentment, and bitterness, ended 4 years ago.

Today, both of these women are now key employees of Thistle Farms.  Both are graduates of Magdalene, the place Val referred to as the Mansion in the Hood. Magdalene was founded in 1997 by Becca Stevens, with the idea that unconditional love is stronger than the forces that drive women to a life on the street.  Thistle Farms came about to provide employment opportunities for residents and graduates whose prior lives led to felony convictions, which would disqualify them for most paid work.  The women make lotions, balms, candles, and salt scrubs, package those products, (It was funny to watch The Missus try her hand with the heat gun and plastic wrap) and sell them through traditional retail outlets and by setting up booths at events.  All of the work, production, inventory, marketing, etc, is performed by residents and graduates, with guidance and assistance from a handful of paid and volunteer staff.  One staff member, JayCee, has a background in chemical engineering with Dupont, and she sets the production standards and does the cost analysis.  She too, is a recovering addict, and is grateful for the chance to mentor other women and watch them grow as people and as employees.

But long before these women reach competency with basic manufacturing or sales skills, they must undergo a process wherein they confront themselves about their addictions.  More than just a generic “12-step” program, Magdalene, in the words of Demetria, a current resident, “meets each woman where she is.”  Some have terrible dental issues, a side effect common in those that smoke their drugs.  In fact, Val, nearly toothless when she arrived, now has a beautiful smile which she shares easily.  Some are HIV positive. Many have forgotten life’s most basic requirements.  Val told me that she literally had to learn how to lay down and go to sleep.  How to eat at scheduled times.  How to bathe, and keep herself and  her living space clean and organized.  One thing they all have in common when they arrive is an emptiness of spirit, and each will tell you that a renewed sense of spirit is probably the thing they are most grateful for.  With that, comes the revelations, those moments of clarity give way to a lifetime of clear, honest assessments of themselves and others.  For Cynthia, a gratifying moment came after she confronted the relative that molested her.  He offered to “pay her” now.  She was, in that moment, able to forgive him.  That was a measurement of her growth, a source of pride and proof of her healing.  I was surprised to learn that she has authored a book, “Little Girl, Don’t Cry.”  She is currently working on her second.

The Magdalene residential program is two years long. The women live in houses together with no supervision.  Though there are supposed to be random drug tests performed, it would be impossible to hide use from these women.  A lifetime of lies gives them a keen sense to sniff out dishonesty.  The first three months are the most structured.  Each day consists of either work or classes, or both.  The days begin with group meditation, which gives each person in the circle an opportunity to share a part of herself with her sisters.  On the day I attended, a reading was offered and set the tone for the rest of what was shared.  The word ‘secrets” was prevalent that day, and many offered up what it meant for them to have freedom from those secrets.  A big laugh was shared when Val, a former drug-user and prostitute, presented a bank bag containing $912.00, the proceeds from a sale.  “Imagine that, me, carrying around 900 dollars!”  The classes, or groups, as they are called, can be about anything from spirituality (though, it was made abundantly clear that there is no proselytising, no religious doctrine is offered) to financial literacy.  The women are encouraged to participate in a program called IDA, or Individual Development Accounts. In fact, Cynthia, recently married and living in her own apartment,  purchased her own car through this program.  Eventually, the women can work at Thistle Farms.  They start at minimum wage, but have the opportunity to take on more responsibility and in turn, earn more hourly wage.  Many find that they are uniquely suited for certain jobs, once they channel the skills and energy once used to score drugs, into sales, or distribution or marketing.

I was invited to come down to Thistle Farms and observe a day of production.  Since I am interested in making similar products here at Coyote Creek, I jumped at the chance.  I even dragged along the Missus, who only ventures into Nashville when she needs to go through it on her way to a Florida vacation.  (Hey, its nice up here on the Ridge) Well, I lost about all interest in the process of making the products; all I wanted to do was talk to these remarkable women.  There was no need to draw them out.  Each of them sat with me and honestly answered every question, without diversion, obsfucation, or even a hint of spin.

Much has been written about the staff and volunteers and indeed the Founder of Thistle Farms, and by more talented writers than myself.  But I couldn’t walk away from the experience of being there without feeling grateful that these people exist.  There are concerns that the economic downturn may result in both a reduction of individual gifts to the program, and that the demographic they target for their products may dwindle. (a bottle of unscented body lotion runs 18 bucks)   There are plans to use New Media tools to attract new supporters and indeed new customers.  There is a blog in the works.  I hope to offer some assistance from to time, though perhaps that might be in helping them solve their drainage problems and rotting fascia boards, since I do not feel qualified to teach anything, and money isn’t my long suit….

But I urge those of you with some spare time to visit Thistle Farms.  I promise you will come away from it a little bit different, less judgmental, perhaps, or at least less unconcerned.   Here are some pics from our visit!

Circle of Sisterhood

Circle of Sisterhood

sharing

sharing

finished product

finished product

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Hmmmmm

Looks like the Colts released Marvin Harrison.  Not a surprise, really, but, damn.

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Wanted: Less Experts, More Compassionate Observers

Gawd.  I gotta tell y’all, its a little bit scary when even the supposed experts can’t get a handle on whats best for the economy.  The stimulus package had plenty to dislike, but it also moved the ball forward and i fully support it.  The housing situation is another matter…

There have been discussions all over the internet, and I find myself nodding in agreement with all sides.  By world standards, our family is incredibly wealthy.  Of course, by world standards, if you have clean water, a roof, and abundant food available 12 months a year, you are also incredibly wealthy.  So, theres that.  And i feel its important to acknowledge that, every damn day.

But I want to address a few of the talking points i see consistantly offered up during almost any discussion of the housing crisis.  Its probably true that the housing market is the engine that drives our economy.  The problem of high foreclosure rates must be addressed.  But how?

When we took out our mortgage, (on a home we built) we were quite happy with our 6.25 interest rate.  We had immediate equity, and a 30 yr note payment was proportional to our income.  We have had numerous opportunities to refinance, and we could have done so for more than our house was worth.  I even had friends suggest that borrowing at 5.65 % (our new rate) was so good, that we should borrow all the way up to our appraised value and invest the money in stocks.  In stocks!  Suffice to say, that friend is bankrupt now and we still have equity.

We are cautious people.  Part of that is our age.  We are at an age where we cannot stand much risk as there is precious little time left to earn, should we need to recover.  So, ok, what i am getting at is that we will not benefit from The Plan.  We aren’t even really affected by foreclosures in our area, as we do not live in a neighborhood and our property is unique enough to always attract a buyer.  Sure, I’d love to refinance at 3%.  I keep trying to muster up the outrage at being one of those “who did everything right”, only to see those who mismanaged and over-reached get “rewarded” by The Plan.

The truth is, I don’t care that my neighbor refied and bought a new car, a new boat, a new 112 in plasma tv and a wii. (ok, the wii thing kinda ticks me off. I want!) Every one of those purchases had a ripple effect on the economy, and people earned money providing those products.  But he can’t eat those products.  I have no problem paying taxes that go to help my neighbor out of his bind, provided the boat gets sold, the car is traded for a fuel efficient model, and that he doesn’t bitch about where his taxes go.

I’m well aware of how complicated this whole thing is.  I’ve read and read about bubbles, speculators, traders, deriviatives, credit default swaps and sub-prime predators.  I fully get that many people approached home-buying irresponsibly.  I spent a few months, last year, watching a friend go about it smartly.  I wish more were like her.  This whole mess might just force future generations to be smarter and more disciplined about their finances.  I applaud that.  But i refuse to be angry because I’m not getting a piece of the action.  I don’t need it.

I intend to be grateful about that.

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FGF- Politically Incorrect Edition

When I was young, I loved everyone on this stage.  I never missed one of these.  Watching it is kinda comforting.

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Racecar

“Dammit I’m Mad”

by

Demetri Martin

Dammit I’m mad.
Evil is a deed as I live.
God, am I reviled? I rise, my bed on a sun, I melt.
To be not one man emanating is sad. I piss.
Alas, it is so late. Who stops to help?
Man, it is hot. I’m in it. I tell.
I am not a devil. I level “Mad Dog”.
Ah, say burning is, as a deified gulp,
In my halo of a mired rum tin.
I erase many men. Oh, to be man, a sin.
Is evil in a clam? In a trap?
No. It is open. On it I was stuck.
Rats peed on hope. Elsewhere dips a web.
Be still if I fill its ebb.
Ew, a spider… eh?
We sleep. Oh no!
Deep, stark cuts saw it in one position.
Part animal, can I live? Sin is a name.
Both, one… my names are in it.
Murder? I’m a fool.
A hymn I plug, deified as a sign in ruby ash,
A Goddam level I lived at.
On mail let it in. I’m it.
Oh, sit in ample hot spots. Oh wet!
A loss it is alas (sip). I’d assign it a name.
Name not one bottle minus an ode by me:
“Sir, I deliver. I’m a dog”
Evil is a deed as I live.
Dammit I’m mad.

H/T Neatorama

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No, He Didn’t

Michael Steele, the new boss of the GOP, gave an interview to the Washington Times. (surprise!)

Did he really say “off the hook?”  Hip hop makeover?  I about busted a gut reading the HuffPo comments. (something I typically don’t do, it seems all the illiterate progressives land there).  My favorite:

Yo, Dawg! MC Steel is in the hizzle and wants all his Peeps to get the 411 on the ‘G! O! P! what’s in it for me?’ tour! To start with, you don’t have to pay the Man taxes on your bling – bling! Use yor baby’s mama for a deduction! Lower taxes for you and your Homeys! No gun control, mac-9 for shizzle! Don’t let the lilly white democrats roll up on your crib and try to tax your capital gains. Keep your mind on your money and your money on your mind
And most important for all you hard core Ganstas out there, if you do a drive by and pop a cap in some Punk’s ass, no health care!

Clueless. 




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The Future Is Now

Next year, Nissan will offer a totally electric vehicle with a 100 mile range.  That is more than 95% of drivers need each day.  Next. Year.

In ten, will we have figured out how to reduce the size of batteries for these cars to roughly the size of a cell-phone?

Anyone out there remember what a one gig hard drive used to look like?  It was the size of a television, and costs thousands.  Last year, I bought a 1 gig storage drive for ten dollars at Radio Shack.  It looked like this:

sandisk1gbsd

There is no good reason not to want this.  Not only will an all electric vehicle produce no emissions, it also won’t require much maintenance.  There is no oil to be changed.  Very few moving parts.  Quiet, too.

I realize that for awhile, we will be dependent on coal to produce the electricity required to charge our new cars.  OK.  Meanwhile, perhaps some of our children will be finding ways to harness solar so that it is affordable to the average family.

Lets get the ball rolling.

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More People Making A Difference

Yea, limited in scope of possibilities...but so what?

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