This is a sort of sequel to Vent #679, from the summer (approximately) of 2010, when I came up with the less-than-thrilling idea of combining several items too short for individual Venting into a single page. If it seems to you to be too early for summer, well, Soonerland has been basking in weather characteristic of mid-June for several days now, albeit with springlike humidity and therefore massive quantities of sweat. As before, your indulgence is appreciated.

  1. Oklahoma's Personhood Act has been, well, aborted, and while I am somewhat amused that it was killed by legislative Republicans, who had more than enough of a majority to push it through were they so inclined, the state's Supreme Court, as expeced, shot down an initiative petition along those same lines, and the GOP evidently saw the writing on the clinic walls. They've also turned down the volume on their shrieks about the state income tax; even the Oklahoman, which never met a tax cut it didn't like, noted editorially that cutting the income tax would require an end to various and sundry tax credits, and that's not happening: the electorate, especially those segments of the electorate that benefit from those credits, won't stand for it.

  2. I have thus far managed to avoid paying $4 a gallon at the local pump, even for the high-priced stuff — I have one of those cars that insists on premium — though I've had a few close calls at the $3.95 point or thereabouts. Since then, the price has dropped around thirty-five cents, which isn't enough of a drop to let a substantial amount of slack into the monthly budget, especially since the house payment went up $42 this month, the result of a $400 increase in my homeowner's-insurance premium last fall. (Yes, they do allow you to pay off an escrow shortage in a lump sum; however, I didn't see any point in writing them a check for $610 to save $504 over twelve months.) On the upside, while it's not helping state tax collections any, natural-gas prices continue to tank, which ultimately will do some small kindness to my utility bills.

  3. For several years, I paid a stiffish sum to a lawn-service company to de-weed the place; I dropped the service for budgetary reasons in 2010. It didn't matter much in 2011, since it was hot and dry and otherwise uncomfortable all summer and nothing was growing anyway. Then the clouds opened, the drought washed away, the winter failed to do much in the way of freezing — the coldest it got all winter was a downright sultry 17 degrees, compared with five below a year before, and the last freeze, normally around March 30th, showed up on March 4th, a day when the high was 71 — and spring presented me with more (and bigger!) dandelions than I'd ever seen in my life, along with other weird growing things I don't particularly want in my yard. I've pushed the spreader across the premises several times, with less effect than I might have hoped for, and while there's something deeply satisfying about pointing a bottle of Roundup at a weed and snarling "Take that!" — yes, I have done that sort of thing — there's also something disquieting about the process, which tends to leave little Chernobyl-like patches wherever the fluid happens to fall. The budget does not permit resuming the commercial service, so I'll have to fight this war with the weapons I have, such as they are.

  4. I continue to fall farther behind the advances of technology. I'm still running Windows XP — granted, Windows Vista didn't show me anything, and my existing hardware is adequate, no more, for Windows 7 — and perhaps more to the point, I have yet to come close to mastering this not-particularly-smart phone I got nearly a year ago. It was this week, in fact, that I discovered it actually contained GPS capability (at ten bucks a month); I still don't know what video formats it supports. (Not that I need to be watching video on my phone, but damn.) And God forbid you should see me hack my way through a text message, even with T9 at my disposal. Still, I carry on, because what else can I do?

The management reserves the right to trot out this shtick again if necessary.

The Vent

#772
  8 May 2012

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