Renaissance News Report

It does occasionally rain in Southern California. Not a lot. We’re talking 15 times a year. One of those just happened while I was carrying a package across campus. So while I sit here and dry out, let’s look at the news.

* High school wrestling was suspended Tuesday across Minnesota due to a widespread outbreak of herpes. I honestly want to make jokes, but here we have a situation where there really is no need.

* Airline pilots will be allowed to fly until they turn 65 instead of the current mandatory retirement age of 60 under a proposal to be announced Tuesday by Federal Aviation Administrator Marion Blakey.

* A Senate Republican on Tuesday directly challenged President Bush’s declaration that “I am the decision-maker” on issues of war. “The decider is a shared and joint responsibility,” Specter said. More important, I think, is that DECIDER IS NOT A WORD. These are the leaders of our country debating a word that DOES NOT EXIST.

* Adm. William Fallon, who is poised to become the top American commander in the Middle East (i.e. Quasi-Decider), says the United States miscalculated the ability of Iraqi forces to take control and underestimated the enemy’s persistence.

* The European Union was expected to launch a debate Tuesday that could lead to a EU-wide ban on smoking in public places. It follows bans already imposed by several European countries.

* The new Windows operating system, Vista, went on sale in stores early this morning.

* The NBA suspended Laker Kobe Bryant for one game after he punched the Spurs Manou Ginobili in the face during a game.

* For reasons that blow my tiny mind, enough of you went to see Epic Movie that it earned $19.2 million and finished atop the box office, assuring us that we will continue to get crappy spoof movies at the rate of two a year.

* FOX canceled Armed & Famous after 4 episodes. Almost as if it was a bad idea or something….

You have to love that I lead with the Minnesota herpes story.

Renaissance News Report

TGIF to all of you. Today’s agenda looks a little slim for me until the faculty/staff meeting at noon (where I will-I hope-achieve a new level of ‘zoned out’). So to the news.

* After touting the troop surge in the State of the Union, President Bush was rebuked by the Senate when the plan was trashed in committee. President Bush responded by reminding us all that he was “the decision maker”, which at the very least is a grammatical improvement from last year’s “I’m the decider” speech.

* The Defense Department is giving away free equipment the military no longer needs to state and local police: fatigues for secret surveillance of drug labs in Indiana, a tranquilizer gun to shoot bears in Pennsylvania and a doublewide trailer in Virginia….speaking as a former Virginian, I just have to say…we can go next door and get trailers from West Virginia. We want tranq guns.

* A South Dakota Statehouse scandal in which a lawmaker is accused of fondling a page has transfixed South Dakota, with many people following the case on TV and the Web as if it were a Hollywood reality show. All of this leading to 2 questions:
1) What is so damn attractive about pages?
2) Is there a compelling reason NOT to trade the Dakotas to Canada for, say, timber?

* President Bush has requested, get ready for it, $10.6 billion in aid for Afghanistan. This would be in addition to the over $8 billion we’ve given them since we de-nested their country of terrorists (oh yes, we got them all….cept that bearded fellow, what was his name?). Do you have health care? I don’t have health care. I’m just saying…if we somehow have $10 billion sitting around….

* The Senate on Friday voted unanimously to confirm the nomination of Army Lt. Gen. David Petraeus to command U.S. troops in Iraq, a position voted this week by me, “Crappiest Job Possible”.

* South Carolina Republican Representative Duncan Hunter launched a longshot bid for the U.S. presidency Thursday in this early voting state. Hunter initially announced his intentions in October, becoming the first Republican candidate to announce. So, let’s see so far it’s Barrack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Tom Vilsack, and about 15 other Democrats vs. Duncan Hunter. Should be fun.

* Crazed and foaming Venezuela President Hugo Chavez told the US to “go to hell” earlier this week, but was disappointed upon learning that we’d already been there in a handbasket. Not out of sympathy, mind you, but handbaskets are sweet for smuggling drugs out of his country.

* Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni have signed 2 year contracts to extend their stay on Law & Order: SVU. Adam Beach will join the cast.

* Christopher Eccleston and Eric Roberts will be joining the cast of NBC’s Heroes in upcoming episodes.

* The CW has renewed Everybody Hates Chris for a third season.

* Katie Holmes will not be returning for Batman sequel, The Dark Knight.

The Day I Drove My Car Through My House

It seems as if I need to explain myself regarding the entire “driving a car through house thing”. Jeez, what about that is not straightforward. Sigh….yeah. Ok see about a year ago I was living in a different house than I currently do and unemployed in the sense that, despite all my efforts, no one would hire me. I mean this as separate from the “I sacrificed a baby seal on my desk so now I’m unemployed” kind of unemployed. The distinction seems petty, but when you’re on month 10 of unemployment, I assure you it matters.

Unemployed Dave around month 10 was having a bit of an ego crisis. I moved to California to be with my lovely and talented fiancee. I had just graduated with my master’s and obviously someone was going to snap me right the heck up. After ten months of being extremely unsnapped, I was coming a bit unhinged. Jan, my fiancee, had a busy job in a derm clinic that required a ton of her time (because she’s a superstar at what she does) and energy since the people she were working for had the unfortunate lineage of Satan and Maleficent (I don’t have that substantiated nor will I post their real names, but trust me on their quality as people). I didn’t have a car, I didn’t a job, and I spent a great deal of time lying on the bed trying to find meaning in random splatters of plaster on the ceiling. That brings us to November 29, 2005, when Jan gets up for work and her car decides not to cooperate.

Our only car at the time was a Toyota Paseo, named Petey (the car didn’t tell me its name, Jan told me the car told her its name…don’t be absurd). Car dies when Jan tries to start it, she’s all panicked because she cannot be late, Maleficent and Satan go bezerk when anyone is 30 seconds late, so she has a friend pick her up. However she has a lot of errands to do so she asked me to get it fixed by lunch. I, being a man of substance and know how, looked under the hood, assessed the problem, diagnosed it, frowned in a manly fashion, and called AAA.

We needed a new battery. To install it, the car (which is a stick shift) was pushed out into the street. Needed to go back in the driveway. Needed to be moved. At this point I should mention that I’d been up for 40 hours worrying about soon to be relatively inconsequential things. I know nothing about driving stick shifts, but I thought any moron could move it a few feet forward into the driveway. So…turned it on and the next thing I knew the car was BOUNCING OFF THE FRICKING HOUSE. Well….no, that’s not accurate. Bouncing indicates that the house put up a fight. Didn’t. I think the car was just startled as to what I’d done and ended up where I’d wanted it out of sheer pity.

There I sat. Looking through the Toyota-shaped hole in the wall at Ben’s room. Ben was not home at the time. I imagine he would have been startled that I inserted a compact foregin-made automobile into his bedroom. I certainly was. I don’t say “shit” a whole lot. I try not to, though if I’m going to swear it’s the one I use. I “shat” my way from the car inside the house, and when I saw the damage to the inside of the wall, I nearly acted on my favorite forbidden word. From the outside it looked like a little three foot hole. On the inside, the whole wall was pushed in and plaster and beams and nails and crap was everywhere. I said “shit” a few more times. Didn’t help much. Called Jan at work.
“Are you coming home for lunch?”
“I’m coming home for good. They just fired me.”
“Shit.”
“Did you have something to tell me?”
“Um….I sort of drove the car through the house.”
“Huh?”
“The car. I drove it into Ben’s room.”
“Are you joking?”
“No, mine are usually better than this.”
“You HAVE to be joking.”
“Shit.”
“Is it bad?”
“Car’s fine.”
“AND THE HOUSE?”
“There is a hole.”
“How big?”
“Shit.”

This was not one of my better days. Now let’s review. Jan rented. I’m was NOT on the lease. I was not covered by auto insurance, nor was I driving my car. So if we tell the landlord, the first thing he’ll do is kick me out and sue me. And, I swear to the chuckling Good Lord above, it looked like $10,000 worth of damage. I honestly thought the whole wall and maybe the whole room was going to have to be redone. So telling the landlord wasn’t an option, not telling him wasn’t an option (cuz…it’s a hole in the house the size of a Toyota), and I didn’t think I could afford to pay to fix it. Oh and now we have no income.

The job ending thing we’d been prepped for. It sucked and we weren’t thinking it was going to happen right then, but we knew that Satan and his stupid office manager (his wife, Maleficent, hated Jan, end of story) were going to can her eventually. Timing-wise this was not ideal. So we’re praying our butts off (which if you’ve never tried, is advisable in situations where you have nothing more substantial to offer than “shit”). We have NO clue what to do.

Eventually we just started calling contractors the following night in the hope that maybe, possibly one of them could come out and tell us ballpark what kind of monetary hit we’re looking at here. One guy said he was coming to Riverside right then anyhow so he’d come in and look it over. “Yikes” is not really the first thing you want to hear come out of a contractor’s mouth. However, that was followed by, “actually this isn’t that bad I can do it for $700.” I do not as a rule hug strangers. I broke that rule.

He came out Friday and by that night it looked like nothing ever happened. Except I took a $700 hit for being a meathead and now we had no income. Jan was actually beyond angelic about my idiocy and was a bastion of understanding. Just as a relationship note, if you have one that can survive the fact that I crashed her car into her house while she was getting fired, you’re pretty golden.

So, that is the tale of how I drove a car through my house. Things all worked out very well in the end. The car still runs, the house has been replaced by a much nicer one with our landlord never being the wiser, and someone did eventually take pity on my overeducated, semi-functional self and hire me. There is no great moral to this tale, beyond praying really isn’t a bad emergency plan, but at the very least I got an extremely expensive self-deprecating story with which to illustrate why I should be driven places by other people instead of having me drive myself.