I was sitting at my computer the other day when I saw an unexpected visitor outside my window — a “Yellow Warbler”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_Warbler. Warblers are small, bright birds with lovely singing voices. They’re also classic subjects for birdwatching travels — a summer getaway to Texas or Georgia can net a Californian several exciting additions to their “life list”:http://www.backyardnature.net/birdlist.htm, provided that the birder is patient.
Patience is important because, for brightly-colored birds, warblers are hard to spot. They flit around, blend well into deciduous foliage, and are generally shy. I spent a couple of weeks in Texas with my college girlfriend, an avid birder, seeking out warblers for hours a day, at the end of dirt roads and far too near ramshackle homes with “trespassers will be shot” clearly labeled on the barbed-wire fences.
Yellow Warblers are common in this part of the country, but not in urban areas — Warblers in general like bucolic spots. So, seeing one in my backyard was quite the treat.
Birdwatching is surprisingly relaxing provided you’re prepared to keep your sights low. A long life list doesn’t come from spending time in, you know, places that are easy to get to. And that’s not relaxing. Staying in my backyard is relaxing.
See those bars on the wings? Those, plus, in the next photo, the vertical stripes on the chest and the dark stripe across the eye, are what birders call “diagnostics” — things that you can use to distinguish exactly what bird you’re looking at.
I’ve had a few other visitors in the past couple of weeks — notably, a ton of hummingbirds.
I guess that means it’s probably migration season — a great time for birding. I should look up some of the easy spots we used to go to, they made for nice afternoon walks in green areas, with some fun sightings along the way. A good way to use the fast-departing summer sunlight!
It’s fall, and that means that long weeks stretch from Monday evening to Saturday morning. No, it’s not work, it’s football, and there are four long days without it every week during the winter. With early evenings, darkness, and the cool autumn air, that leaves a profound longing. The answer is simple: Thursday night football.
The NFL already has Thursday night games towards the end of the season, so this isn’t anything new; I just want these games year-round. The usual complaint is that the short week gives the competitors too little time to prepare, but I think that there’s a way around that.
That way is to _have all interconference games on Thursday nights_. This will put games with real national interest on the TV; interleague games by definition draw from multiple fan bases and provide new, intriguing, and rare matchups for viewers to watch. These marquee matchups should be appointment TV and garner good ratings. Ratings will also rise, overall, for football, because the NFL can televise a game that otherwise wouldn’t get wide national distribution.
In addition, viewers will want to see the play each team is known for, minimizing the viewer appeal of a highly-prepared team — which is good, because the short week will make it hard to prepare. Both teams will be relatively uninformed about their opponents (compared to within-conference and, especially, within-division games), making it a balanced game that both teams will try to play by being as aggressive as they can about doing what they’re good at.
This should make for fun TV. Best of all, it will make for mid-week football. Which I need badly, because, let’s face it, House ain’t exactly about hard hitting.
Starting a company is a messy business. Things go wrong. Worse, things that you never thought could go wrong go wrong. You have to create everything afresh, and that always takes longer than expected. It’s a mess, and it’ll get you down. But you just have to believe. You can be the princess. You can go home again. It’s like a Disney movie — you just have to believe.
I had to move the trash to leave the house the other morning. Not my trash; I may occasionally put up with a bit more mess around the house than I should, but fundamentally I’m a guy who color-codes and labels everything. No, it’s my neighbor, My little alley has turned into a caricature straight out of Sanford and Son.
It starts right when you come in; for anyone who needs it, there’s a little extra emergency store of building materials right next to the front house. Also, part of a bedframe. Also, a car seat.
(This is actually the bit I had to move to get the car out; plywood can project surprisingly far into a driveway. The bedframe made unintentional art when it was away from the front of the alley.)
Like I said, that’s the emergency store of building supplies. Further back, in front of the garage, that’s where we keep most of the building materials. Enough to build… another garage.
We’ve also got a lot of tires, so you know where to go if you need a deal on some new wheels for your ride, bring your rims and we’ll hook you up. In fact, we’ve got a car back here with three new tires on it already! Yep, come on by, first three tires’ll be on in a day, and the other… we’ll get around to it.
In case that’s not enough tires for you, we have a few more. Plus a camper shell. And a portable-sized dumpster!
I know, I mock, I mock. I mean, it is a bit absurd. And new stuff comes in all the time — when the china cabinet left, the half-bedframe came in. Next, I expect… a dining room table? Perhaps, a banquette?
But it’s hard to complain, because, really, it is all in good fun. When you’re partying, well, there’s a tendency to leave a bit of trash about.
fn1. Actually, since I don’t have a unit in the garage — and the roof is just this far away from falling in — I’d sure like another garage.
fn2. Just not in the month that the cars’ been sitting there jacked up.
fn3. Pickup service not included, sadly.
fn4. Thank God — and I’m not kidding about this — the piano never made it out of the bed of the pickup truck parked out front.
On top of their mostly-symbolic cut to the discount rate a month ago, “the Fed has now cut the Federal Funds rate”:http://money.cnn.com/2007/09/18/news/economy/fed_rates/index.htm?cnn=yes, hopefully lowering lenders’ interest rates and saving the economy from a Real Estate bubble-fueled recession. This is a dangerous game: the added credit availability may not trickle down to homeowners or other consumers, and the new liquidity may simply allow predatory and irresponsible lenders to cover their own losses while not learning a thing. This cut is a gift to the lenders — and shows that what we need is a policy solution to this housing crisis.
It may be just that nature is teasing me — as I probably deserve — but it seems as if the weather’s changing the last few days. The I-wish-I-had-an-air-conditioner season is hopefully passing into the part of the year that makes friends from back east wax poetic about LA. Summer is lovely — and I even enjoyed the beach this year — but nothing says comfy like needing a throw blanket to go with your couch.
Summer’s tough; my little house is in the midst of a barely interrupted sea of concrete; the heat radiates back up off the ground and double-bakes me. The only solution is to open the front and back doors, put a fan in each one, and try to keep the air moving. Even at night, my house holds the heat, and the two fans and a third in my bedroom are barely enough to keep me from sweating in bedsheets.
So the change of season is a good one for me. I love winter, of course, with unlimited excuses to wear my USC hoodie and drink cocoa. But it’s the start of an in-between season now; the fans will still run all day long, but in the morning and at night I’ll coax on the heat. Soon I’ll even get to put the comforter back on my bed. Now that will be luxury.
I’m not much of an economist, but it’s starting to seem like I can predict recessions. Specifically, I start companies right before the economy goes in the toilet. I don’t know what I’m on to, but this is two times around the track now that this has happened. It’s a bit funny, but, if I’m clever, maybe I can figure out how to make money off of it.
A few weeks ago, I switched my company over to Intuit’s Quickboks Payroll, replacing ADP as our processors. Only two payrolls later, I’m already in a groove with the quick and easy system. Why, if it didn’t involve large amounts of money moving out of my account, running payroll would be a joy!
It is a complete coincidence that Junior’s vet is around the corner from my dot-com. But, when I picked him up from his Labor Day summer camp boarding adventure this morning, and drove past the big pink stucco building that “my dot-com”:http://web.archive.org/web/20010721233028/http://persistx.com/ was in — and the Washington Mutual, and the Indian restaurant, and the really good Italian restaurant — of course I thought about mornings of XML programming and afternoons of I-swear-to-god-it’s-client-research visits to teen dating sites. And of course I convinced the AIG to grab lunch with me at the “Palisades Garden Cafe”:http://www.yelp.com/biz/FUsBxw0-Dk62-fiE_S5cNg.
My first job was serious about their 8:30am start time, because so many of our clients were on the East Coast and, by 8:30, that was half of their day already gone. My last job had a putative 8am start time, but they never gave me trouble for showing up at 9 and working an hour late. Maybe it was because I did the work of two people. There wasn’t any start time at BigButtons, but, then, there were only three of us there at the beginning so I couldn’t much slip in late. And that meant breakfast.
Palisades Garden Cafe had incredible donuts, which I loved back when I could eat donuts and other delectable pastries. I’d start my days with a donut and some tea mixed with the office manager’s ever-present stash of “Coffee Bean vanilla powder”:http://coffeebean.com/French-Deluxe-Vanilla–P156C75.aspx?Page=1.
And then it was Palisades Garden Cafe again at lunch. If I felt like I could splurge a bit, I’d go for the turkeyburger, which was rich and delicious. I was young, so, if I felt cheap, I could go for the hamburger combo instead and not balloon up. Usually I’d have lunch on the Cafe’s patio, listening to the roar of the automatic car wash across the street and reading my LA Times. Since the Palisades Garden Cafe was right next door to the office, I never managed to take my full hour on those days.
Soon enough I traded lunches in the sun and options for my own shot at the start-up label. No more donuts, of course, and while nobody enforced an early start time, every night was a late night. And there was no sitting in the sun for a 45-minute break in the middle of the day, burger keeping me company as I pored over the front page. Sometimes I think maybe it’s time to bring that back now. The summer sun sure clears the mind, some days.
fn1. My two roommates at the time were working on starting a business, so my steady salary went to buying groceries for our whole three-male household. This did cut into my “lunch budget”:http://www.kayndaves.com/. My generosity always ends me up broke.