31 October 2008

Political Post I

Hey there. I know I've been neglecting the blog, and I have pictures to post and all, but finding gainful employment comes first. Sorry for the layoff but, hey, I'm laid off. Give me time.

I would normally preview the upcoming election on this blog, so I'm going to. For the next four days I'll cover some different races by category, things to watch for, and so on. Then, on Tuesday, I'll post predictions in the morning, so you can see how far off I am while watching the coverage Tuesday night.

Now, if some huge event occurs in the next couple days, it could throw all these predictions and comments off. So, you know, if nothing happens we're good. Anyway. Caveat lector.

Normally I'd start with governors, and I intend to, but really, only one of them is particularly close, that in North Carolina, and we have close Senate and Presidential races there to watch instead. Governors races are less impacted by events nationally than other races so the contest in North Carolina may not be a good indicator of which way the wind is blowing on election night. Furthermore, unless you live in North Carolina, the choice of governor there won't much impact you, the way the races in the House and Senate may.

That being said, there are some races with potential interest. The North Carolina one, between Lt Gov Bev Perdue (D) and Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory (R) is the closest one in the country. Perdue was supposed to win easily as recently as this summer but McCrory has fought hard and turned the race into a toss-up; if the "wave" on election night is more about change than about electing Democrats (which I suspect will be the case), McCrory stands a good chance of earning a narrow victory here as he's been working to paint Perdue as an establishment hack.

There's also the Missouri governor's race. Jay Nixon, the attorney general, has been in office since 1992 and has run for governor at least twice already. The sitting governor, Matt Blunt, a Republican, was already polling behind Nixon last year, so he decided not to run for re-election. The sacrificial lamb is Congressman Kenny Hulshof, who has run a decent race but won't be able to keep the seat in the GOP's hands. It's Nixon's time--the only question is, by how much will he win, and, given how close the presidential race is in Missouri, will Nixon have any coattails for Obama? Tough to say. If Nixon wins big, though--and the networks should call this race before the presidential one--it could mean good things for Obama. A close result here and McCain will probably carry Missouri.

The other two races have more esoteric interest. Joe Biden is running strong for re-election in Delaware, but if he is elected Vice President, the next governor of Delaware will get to name his replacement. I don't know Delaware law; some states require the governor to name a person from the party of the departed Senator, others give the governor wide discretion to name whoever he or she wants. If the Delaware governor's race went to GOP candidate Bill Lee, things could get interesting. The race isn't thought to be very close (Democratic candidate Jack Markell is expected to win handily) but there's been no recent polling so it might be worth looking for this one.

Finally we have the gubernatorial contest in Indiana, where former Bush budget director Mitch Daniels, the GOP incumbent, is in a race with former Congresswoman and USDA bigfoot Jill Long Thompson. Polling on the race has been mixed and more than likely Daniels will win safely, but if Thompson manages a victory here, and if McCain wins the White House, Thompson might get a few looks as a potential presidential candidate in 2012. She is 56 and more Janet Reno than Sarah Palin, but she will have experience at all levels of government, a charming and normal family history, moderate views on most issues, and she's attacking the GOP incumbent for raising taxes. Interesting profile, indeed, and it's not hard to imagine her whispering campaign getting an early start. Unfortunately it is hard to imagine her winning this race.

Tomorrow: the House.

08 October 2008

"He doesn't trust me any more."

A teenage girl referring to the boyfriend she cheated on?

No. Me referring to our adopted orange and white cat. Our only tom, he was scheduled to go into the humane society this morning to become and orange and white not-tom. It's tough to bribe him since he's not supposed to eat, but I tried. He let me pick him up and carry him to the car, but he didn't like going in the car. I tried again, in the backseat this time, but he got his head out the door before I could close it and I couldn't get him back in. I tried baiting the back seat with cat treats, which only got the kittens in there (great, another place they think they own). Orange Pop went and hid, and every time I followed after him he ran farther away. Into the poison ivy (oh to be covered in fur and not care about poison ivy).

Now he is here:Note the zoom inset. He's way up there in that dead tree.

I can't get him down. He managed to avoid his appointment with the surgeon today but what do I do about the future? We NEED free spaying for the females. They trust me enough to get in the car, and I can get them wherever they need to go. But I can't afford $70 per cat! HELP US!!!!

07 October 2008

House Stories Part II

Today I will return to the theme of "What a difference a can of paint can make." Or in this case about six cans. In one room.

When we bought the house we knew several of the interior rooms were due for a change. The bathroom was the worst, and the laundry room was bad, but there were two rooms with mainly cosmetic problems. The first was what you may think of as the guest bedroom, or the second bedroom (or someday off in the misty future the kid bedroom, but not any time soon). We've been referring to it as the "Green Room," and these pictures will show you why. First, the before pic:

Damn. That, that is a color, right there. And not a good one. Who in the hell paints a room canary yellow with a royal blue chair rail? Did you notice that even the floor register in the lower left corner (not actually connected to any ductwork or any actual central climate control system) is yellow? What where they thinking? And there is no baseboard in this room. At all.

From hundreds of miles away, we could see that paint job; it kept us awake at night. We picked out some colors and sent the paint chips up to our housepainter (Mike Henderson, highly recommended) and said, "Go. Make it better." And so he did.

Evidently he used six cans of paint in that room because the yellow kept showing through. Dang.

Then there was the living room. In this house, when you walk in the front door, the first room you enter is the living room. First, the pano:

And next, a shot of the fireplace area:
I would like to point out here the lack of any crown moulding, the spiderweb between the fireplace and the door (that door goes out to the side porch, which you saw in exterior shots in the previous post), and the lovely stains on the carpet. Lots of stains on this carpet; this room wasn't the worst. You can see the beautiful canary yellow room through that door there, and the blue room behind is the dining room. We didn't care for the paint color here, which I would describe as somewhere between "Damp Sand" and "Dead Body." It made the whole room lifeless...

And now, for the after shots. The new color, best seen in this photo, is "Ripe Wheat." I like that name better than "Dead Body." Note also the new crown moulding, and the repainted door (I don't miss the three mysterious brown spots).

Here is a picture of the fireplace. The mantle block was repainted, too, which is nice, and all the trim around the doors and windows. They did a very nice job and, but for the still-crappy carpet, the room seems nice and new. This picture doesn't do the paint color justice, but there are more pictures for later down the road.


This morning we stepped out onto the porch as Smittywife was leaving for work, and we just paused. And the wind blew through the treetops. Rustle, rustle. Whoosh.

Ahhh... There's just a hint of color on the leaves on our oak trees this morning, and I'm sure it wasn't there yesterday. The leaves are rustling in the wind so nicely (punctuated by the occasional drop of an acorn striking the ground at terminal velocity... be careful where you park if you come by), and the temperature has settled nicely into the 60s and 70s. It's autumn! Hooray!

02 October 2008

At Last! The House Series Has Begun!

Question: What is the cheapest, fastest, and easiest way to improve the look of a house?

Answer: Turn on the light! Ha ha ha ha!! Oh, man. Gets me every time. But seriously, most decorators and other types will tell you that a good quality paint job will do a lot to brighten and improve any room, or indeed a whole house. This is evidenced by today's selection of photos.

In the initial photos, shown below, you can see how really crapulent the paint job was when we bought our house. It had probably been painted sometime in the 1980s, I'm guessing, which is rather a long time ago. The paint was peeling of sheets in some cases, badly flaked everywhere, and had to be stripped and entirely redone. Not a job I was looking forward to doing my self--stripping and painting Dutch Clapboard is not exactly a giddy thrill.

Fortunately I never intended to do the job myself, but after fainting dead away in the middle of walking the dog when I was given the first quote for the place--just shy of 10 grand--we set about looking for somebody who would do a competent job cheaply. Thank goodness we found one (thanks to the Simpsonville Lowe's). His name was Mike Henderson--and I recommend Mike Henderson as a great inexpensive housepainter in the Greenville area. (That should show up on Google eventually.)

There was more wood than paint showing through in some areas, as you can see. Though the green parts had clearly been painted more recently, I suspect people just kept slapping new paint over old peeling paint on the siding, not taking any time to do it right, because it's hard to do it right. That's why you pay somebody.

And so we did. I think you can see from the After pictures below how much better the place looks. Yes, there are a lot of paint shavings on the ground now, and I need to come up with an effective way to clean those up. Any suggestions would be appreciated... I'm not looking forward to just taking a flat-bladed shovel to the entire area around the house, but it's my only idea so far.