The Committee.

The Committee had an early meeting today. That would be the Committee to Deprive Nance of Her Hard-Earned Rest. Over the years it’s had various subcommittees and chairs, but at the moment, the Worker Men are in their ascendancy, and have wrestled control away from the Blue Jays, the previous cadre at the top of the pyramid, squabbling REALLY LOUDLY for the chance to wake me up at an unreasonable hour.

The Worker Men are the guys in charge of tearing up our street, then leaving for a couple weeks, then coming back to push some stuff around, then leave for a couple more weeks, etc. Ostensibly they’re replacing a water main, but the new main has been buried for weeks now, and once again, work seems to have stalled. That doesn’t keep them from making an early appearance. For several days, someone was in charge of moving a backhoe from one end of the street to the other — CLANK CLANK CLANK CLANK — at 7:45 a.m., then leaving it there, unused, for the rest of the day. I go to bed somewhere around 1 a.m.; all I want to do is sleep until 8; IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK? Apparently so.

This morning they put in a stronger, and louder, show of force, pushing several pieces of heavy equipment around, complete with those horrible beep-beep-beep backup noises. I look outside, and for the life of me I can’t figure out what they’re doing, other than making noise. I suspect the whole crew is comprised of toddler boys, who have discovered this cache of really big Tonka trucks, and are just having fun driving them around.

OK, rant over. Second cup of coffee in progress. I guess if I wanted I could close the windows and turn on the A/C, but it’s a cool, pleasant morning and I want to feel the breeze on my face as I sit next to the window. IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK? Never mind. Counting blessings now.

Actually, if it were permitted, I’d love to hang out with these guys for a day or two, just to watch them work. No one really knows how things are done anymore, do they? What’s involved in building a bridge, replacing a water main, raising a skyscraper? I’m 95 percent clueless. That’s where I envy Alan his time spent working in factories while he decided whether to finish college; he understands the grit-and-grime part of the world far better than I do. (Too well, actually; having worked in a canned-soup factory, he won’t eat canned soup. His stories about moving dough around in the frozen-pizza plant will put you off frozen pizza forever. The less said about Etch-a-Sketch production, the better, and if I can leave you with one lesson, it’s this: Don’t ever buy manufactured housing, unless you want to learn how “DAP it” became a catch phrase in our household.)

Well, obviously I got nuttin to say. Do I have bloggage? Not much of that, either. (The world is on vacation.) But a little:

Why charity is complicated these days: CARE turns down 45 million American dollars, because a needlessly complex system of shipping subsidized American crops overseas to sell in the Third World wastes money and undermines local farmers. Color me shocked.

Hacking Starbucks, testimony that nonfat journalism doesn’t have to be boring.

In my perambulations around Flickr the other day, I found this gem, shot by Bobby Alcott, a local Detroit pro. It reminded me of my ex-neighbor Dennis in Indiana, who left our little street in the city to move to the country and breed championship Angus cattle. He mostly dealt in embryos and frozen semen but kept a few head around the place, and I loved to scratch their sweet-smelling foreheads. “You really like livestock, don’t you?” he asked once, amazed. Well, how can you not? They’re irresistible.

This story has so many coulds, mights and isn’t-even-on-the-drawing-board-yets you wonder why it even exists, but the idea is intriguing: a muscle-car hybrid. A Camaro hybrid. I’d buy that just to piss people off, even though I know it’ll fall apart in six months and cost me thousands of dollars and thousands of tears. It’s just funny.

What’s that I hear outside? It’s the beepbeepbeeping of a backhoe! Time to get to work.

Posted at 9:48 am in News, Popculch, Same ol' same ol' |

29 responses to “The Committee.”

  1. Dorothy said on August 16, 2007 at 9:59 am

    Bobby is one of my contacts at flickr. How did I miss that great shot? He’s got some beautiful family members as well. He’s one kick-ass photographer for sure.

    162 chars

  2. LA mary said on August 16, 2007 at 10:28 am

    I just looked at more of his photos, and yes, he’s got some great stuff. Love that calf picture.

    96 chars

  3. 4dbirds said on August 16, 2007 at 10:33 am

    Were you the one who wrote about how charitable clothing also ruins the economies in third world countries? If you ever have time, I’d love to hear some manufactored housing stories. Hubby and I almost bought one years ago. So glad we didn’t since we had a kid with cancer and stories about the chemicals in them gave me nightmares.

    335 chars

  4. 4dbirds said on August 16, 2007 at 10:42 am

    The Ghetto Latte reference in the Starbuck’s piece reminds me of when I was a server (waitress). Customers would order water with lots of lemon and then proceed to make their own free lemonaide with sugar from the table.

    222 chars

  5. brian stouder said on August 16, 2007 at 11:23 am

    Speaking of clinking, clanking, horrible noises – here is a semi-entertaining aside

    I cannot score (nothing new there, eh?!), as the questions are more loaded than Lindsay Lohan on graduation day from rehab…but it is funny

    311 chars

  6. beb said on August 16, 2007 at 11:43 am

    A hybrid Camaro isn’t crazy. The first hybrids were racing cars because the drivers found that adding a 50 horse electric motor to their gas engine gave them a big burst of accelleration at the cost of a few extra batteries. Eventually the racing commission had to ban the hybrids because they were winnng all the races. Read it in either Popular Science or Mechanics Illustrated.

    381 chars

  7. Dorothy said on August 16, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    Hot diggity – I’m a Liberal Elite!

    34 chars

  8. nancy said on August 16, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    Actually, I don’t think a hybrid Camaro is crazy because of the technology. I just think it’s such an amusing mixed message: “I’m saving the planet when I’m not drag-racing.” Detroit might just be on to something there.

    Oh, and Brian:

    You are a New Left Hipster, also known as a liberal, a Netroots activist, or a Daily Show fanatic. You believe that if we really want to defend American values, conservatives must be exposed, mocked, and assailed for every fanatical, puritanical, warmongering, Constitution-shredding ideal for which they stand.

    I voted for Scalia, Thomas and Alito in the naked pyramid, but that was the toughest question. Everyone was so deserving.

    696 chars

  9. Mindy said on August 16, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    The coffee at Starbucks needs lots of doctorin’. I’ve never had a cup of Starbucks that didn’t taste burnt and old even when it’s fresh. Too bad for them that coffee shops in little towns like Leo consistently serve much better coffee. I’ve learned to stick with local places for my daily grind.

    298 chars

  10. LA mary said on August 16, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    “You are a Peace Patroller, also known as an anti-war liberal or neo-hippie. You believe in putting an end to American imperial conquest, stopping wars that have already been lost, and supporting our troops by bringing them home.”

    Sounds about right to me.

    259 chars

  11. Kirk said on August 16, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    The machine has spoken. I’m a Peace Patroller, too.

    51 chars

  12. Cathy Dee said on August 16, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    Just had the opportunity to scratch the forehead of a huge Angus at the state fair last weekend. Glad to find someone else who appreciates them too.

    148 chars

  13. LA mary said on August 16, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    The pyramid question was the toughest for me too. I assumed I would have a large, snarling dog on a leash in the picture as well, and that’s why I chose Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush. The Coulter, Limbaugh, O’Reilly option was so appealing, though.

    241 chars

  14. Michael said on August 16, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    I’m a Peace Patroller too!

    Nancy, while I have nothing but sympathy for your predicament, still, Detroit sewer work is better than what we went through two years ago here in Puerto Rico. During the non-hit by Ivan, there was still enough rain that the sewer out back of our apartment (due to odd geometry, part of the main street was out back of our apartment) collapsed. A big hole. Turns out that was the main sewer drain for the city, too, and that the pipe had apparently collapsed along about a 200-foot length underground.

    So they put a pump on it, pumping it out above the break, through a very long pipe, back into a storm drain down the road a little while. When I say “pump”, I mean something the size of a diesel tractor — which is basically because it was indeed the engine of a diesel tractor, minus the wheels and plus a big pump.

    And this diesel tractor (which was later supplemented with a second one for the peak hours of sewage generation in our fair city) then proceeded to run outside our window for roughly 23 hours a day, starting in October. (There was a blessed respite from about 4:30 AM, when the sewage level apparently got sufficiently pumped down, until about 5:30 AM when everybody apparently got up and started doing laundry or something.)

    By Thanksgiving, nerves in our household were fraying. Nothing at all was being done, because (it turned out later) they needed to go through a bid proposal phase due to the size of the job. Well, except they did put that second engine in.

    They left the keys in the pump for a while, until I realized I could get a good night’s sleep by turning the damn thing off. That was a good night. But the next day, oddly enough, the key wasn’t in it any more. Sigh.

    By Christmas, we were close to murder. The front of our apartment was close to the gate of the complex, meaning that on neither side was there any quiet at all — Puerto Ricans not being the quietest of people to start with.

    By March, … well, in March, we broke the lease and left the island. And of course, by April they had it all fixed. Or so we heard from friends, and now that we’re back — in a different apartment, mind you — we can see that things are fine there now.

    During all that time, even though there was clearly no funding for any actual work, and no actual work ever got done, they would still periodically come out with some major-league Tonka toys and back them up at 6 AM. (Which is when Puerto Rican workers start the day, to beat as much of the heat as possible, futile as that ultimately may be.)

    So, yeah. The Tonka theory bears out.

    2631 chars

  15. brian stouder said on August 16, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    If I had to pick one of those pyramids, I would have chosen the one with Ann Coulter in it, too;

    it might answer a question or two…

    (although it would be a violation of the penal code)

    193 chars

  16. Danny said on August 16, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    Did they have a pyramid that consisted of Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin and Laura Ingraham?

    90 chars

  17. nancy said on August 16, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    Wow, Michael. That makes my irritation the size of a gnat. The roaring of a diesel pump — never mind the smell of the exhaust — for months on end would, indeed, push me to murderous rages, although I doubt I’d make it to month two.

    I wonder if that’s why guys in loud jobs need to stop off for a few beers on the way home. I think settling the nerves before walking through your own door would be essential.

    413 chars

  18. alex said on August 16, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    New Left Hipster? Please. I’m an intellectual elitist pig.

    58 chars

  19. Andrea said on August 16, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    Noise commisseration. Our neighbors across the street have a tree project that’s been going on since the beginning of the summer. The lots on our street our wooded (avg. 20 or so trees on about 1 acre). They decided to remove all of their trees after a tree went through their living room a few years ago during the remnants of Hurrican Isabel. And by removing all of their trees, I mean the hack they hired to do the job cut down all of the trees at once, instead of cutting down one or two, removing the brush and cutting it down for fire wood and then proceeding to the next two or three. For weeks, brush was hanging out into the road. The guy, who doesn’t work on this job full time, has been hacking the trees down into bite-sized pieces all summer. I assume he’s doing it on the side since he keeps strange hours. And strange hours include 6am or first light, holidays and weekend. I finally called the township after one of the 6am days that woke up the baby, whose room faces the street. There wasn’t anything they could do; our township doesn’t have a noise ordinance and they aren’t breaking any codes, just being a nuisance. I think the end is finally near, as is the end of summer, which they effectively ruined for me. Until recently, we had a fairly mild summer here temp-wise, but our A/C has been on full-time to drown out the noise.

    1350 chars

  20. LA mary said on August 16, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    My unpleasant next door neighbor has been remodeling for 12 years. Lots and lots of jackhammering. The most obnoxious thing she did was take down all her kitchen cabinets to have the old paint removed (she suspected lead). The workmen leaned the cabinets and doors on the fence between our lots and sandblasted the cabinets. Guess which direction the possibly leaden paint went? I called the building and safety people after the workmen refused to stop.

    453 chars

  21. wade said on August 16, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Peace Patrollers unite!

    … or is that even possible?

    59 chars

  22. Dorothy said on August 16, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Mary I’d suggest that you move, but you have such great stories about all of your neighbors, I think the group dynamics would suffer here if all those stories dried up!

    168 chars

  23. John said on August 16, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    I am living vicariously through Mary as well. BTW, another Liberal Elite…the vision of Rush, Bill (with or without the falafels) and Ann in a big pig pile is somehow appealing!

    179 chars

  24. LA mary said on August 16, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    That particular neighbor has been a real pain since she moved in. She has far too much money and time on her hands, hence the constant remodeling. She has installed a “water feature” on the side of her lot next to me, like a fake brook and waterfall. It isn’t soothing. It makes me need to pee.

    294 chars

  25. ellen said on August 16, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    The water feature sounds more appealing than our neighbors, who put their kids’ trampoline within 6 feet of our master bedroom windows. Nothing says “neighbor” like a bouncing 6-year-old watching you get dressed in the morning, unless it’s their basketball goal, which they set up right next to the trampoline. My husband has become that old man who won’t give back the ball when it accidentally comes into his yard.

    417 chars

  26. tgpc said on August 16, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    ya wanna be careful bitchin at ’em when it’s your water supply they’re fixin’.

    they might pp in it.

    102 chars

  27. nancy said on August 16, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    The water supply is hooked up. It’s the sidewalk we’re waiting on now. And believe me, if letting them write BITCH in wet cement with an arrow pointing to my house will get the job done faster, then by all means, gents, go right ahead.

    235 chars

  28. Linda said on August 16, 2007 at 8:25 pm

    I have a funny story to tell re: street tear-ups. About 10 years ago, Toledo was in danger of having a plant close near my house. City Hall offered them a big property tax rebate, not to actually promise to stay, but just consider it, and threw in a $300,000 sewer, too — through my street. The plant closed anyway, but the sewer was already underway in October, and tore the entire street up and made it impassible through April. I would have given my eyeteeth to be woken up early by the workmen, but they started around 10, took a long lunch, and knocked off for the day around 4, hence the huge time frame. Finally a local newspaper columnist wrote a story about this frustrating waste of cash. The NEXT DAY, I could hear the workmen at 6:30 a.m. They finished up quite quickly after that — in about 2 weeks.

    821 chars

  29. Michael said on August 17, 2007 at 11:50 am

    When you’re getting paid by the hour to play with life-sized Tonka, there’s just no real reason to hurry, now is there?

    119 chars