Our Crazy Uncle

Every few years, when the political season is in full swing, there’s always sure to be a spate of breathless articles about Texas secessionists followed by even more breathless blog posts telling Texas to just get the fuck out already. Eventually, these things pop up on my radar by way of Twitter and Facebook, and after seeing them pass before my eyes some undetermined number of times, my one remaining nerve begins vibrating frantically, and I must speak or risk my head exploding.

When your crazy uncle/aunt/whatever says something outrageous at the Thanksgiving Day table, do you stand up, stomp out of the house, move to a different state, and disown your entire family? Or do you roll your eyes and sigh quietly? Well, the secessionists are Texas’ crazy uncle/aunt/whatever. We all roll our eyes, sigh quietly, and go on living our happy Texan-American lives. It’d be great if the rest of the country could learn to just roll their eyes and sigh too.

At most, according to their own reporting, the Nationalist Movement (or whatever they call themselves these days) have 200,000 members. Now maybe that seems like a large number to you, but if it does, you must live in a small village, in a tiny, county, in a minuscule state. Here in Texas, that represents .76% of the population. Does that number seem small? Well, it should. It’s a really REALLY small percentage of the population of my state. The secessionist movement is a microscopic fly in the giant bowl of soup that is Texas. They are totally irrelevant, completely unimportant, and entirely impotent (politically, I can’t speak for their sexual prowess). The only correct response when one hears a secessionist bleating their nonsense in public is to roll your eyes and sigh quietly and go on living your happy American life.

Or … you can write breathless news stories which lead to breathless blog posts which eventually make my last nerve threaten my head with explosion, but that course of action is like yelling at your crazy uncle/aunt/whatever when they say something outrageous at the Thanksgiving Day table. All it does is make your cousin cry, your dad have a panic attack, and then everyone starts drinking heavily and the day is ruined. Isn’t it just easier to roll your eyes and remember that everyone has a crazy uncle/aunt/whatever and that it really doesn’t matter if they believe Illuminati lizard people are running the government?

Furthermore, I would request of all friends, family, and strangers alike … please consider these two things before stamping the entirety of Texas with the “crazy” label:

A) The overwhelming vast majority of Texans are sane, law-abiding, America-loving, completely normal human beings living completely normal American lives.

B) Your state’s population undoubtedly contains at least .76% people with crazy political beliefs. It’s just that no one is writing breathless news stories and blog posts about your state’s crazy uncle every few years. Stop feeling so smug.

And in closing, I would like to correct a factual error I encountered in every single news story and blog post I read on this subject. There are 254 counties in Texas, not 270. This is a ridiculously easy fact to check, and I am appalled by the number of people who couldn’t be bothered to do so before pressing “publish” on all those breathless news stories and blog posts.

The Cable Free Life

As the denizens of Casa de Orb prepare to experience complete recovery from their personal economic depression, discussions have been had on the subject of television programming. More pointedly … will we or will we not subscribe to cable television ever again.

General consensus appears to be a firm NO, we will not pay Time Warner (or anyone else) entirely too much money for a million channels of crap we won’t watch.

We will continue using Netflix and Amazon Prime, and this week we decided to try out Hulu (mostly for The Daily Show), and between those three services, we have more than enough things to watch on our television. While I do sometimes miss HBO, especially because I loved Game of Thrones, eventually the HBO Now service will come to the PS4, and maybe we’ll get it then and maybe we won’t. Right now, if we want to watch a newer movie than what Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime are offering, there’s Redbox right around the corner. Sure, someone has to get up off the couch and go get the movie, but it’s worth it to save well over a hundred dollars a month on cable TV.

Additionally, right after I told the cable company there was no way I was paying what they wanted for their TV services, we bought a ten dollar rabbit ear antenna at Walmart. We’d planned to use it as proof of concept and to just see if we could get anything at all and to replace it at a later date with a more powerful one, but … there’s no need. We get twelve over the air channels. All the major networks, a couple versions of PBS, and a few that aren’t for us either owing to being in Spanish or showing nothing but grainy game shows or poorly formatted for our screen (and also grainy) 80’s movies.

Basically what I’m saying is that my long held desire to cut the cable cord was finally realized due to extreme unemployment, and as I suspected, we don’t miss it at all. Well, we did miss The Daily Show the last few months, but starting tonight we won’t be missing that anymore. We’ll just be one day behind, which we almost always were anyway, because when you get up at the crack of dawn, 10:30 pm is really, really late. LOL!

Tonight, for example, is going to be a great night for TV at Casa de Orb! First there’s the season premiere of Agents of Shield, followed by a new episode of Limitless, then last night’s Daily Show, followed by The Late Show (Colbert has been rocking his new gig). Of course, there is one problem with the way we watch TV now. We have no way to time shift the shows we watch over the air (and no way to pause them either). I have no idea what we’ll eat for dinner, because we need to go grocery shopping. I mean really, REALLY need to go buy food, but I don’t want to miss any of ours shows. Looks like we’ll be having a salad and deviled eggs for dinner, because that’s what we have!

Anyway, this is sort of a weird first blog post after so much silence for so long, but you have to start somewhere, right? I imagine stories from the last year will eventually percolate to the surface (there are stories), and it’s an election year in the USA and you know I have opinions (I don’t like anyone who is running). There will be more blog posts forthcoming, I promise. I’ve been feeling like babbling lately, but blogging is a habit, and I’m not used to just sitting down and typing some train of thought stuff anymore. I mean, for a year I had a captive audience right here in the house with me (my poor dear husband), so why sit down and type when I can just walk into the other room and launch into a vocal rant?!

Anyway, I’m back, and Just Orb will be seeing some life again. And if you have ever wondered if you can survive without cable television … YES, you can. LOL!

Goodbye, Playstation Home

Playstation Home closed forever tonight, and I am sad.

I'm also angry, because I wanted to be there at the very last second when the servers were shut down, and my crappy “high speed” internet died just as it was about to happen. By the time my modem started property communicating with the rest of my ISP's crappy network, Home was gone.

Future Sewing Project


Thursday, Simplicity patterns are on sale at Joann's for $1.99. The plan is to get this pattern, some awesome fleece (also on sale) and make myself a new favorite hoodie. My old one is dying. I can't be hoodie-less!

Going to make some changes, like removing the arm and waist bands and just lengthening those pieces. I will most likely be doing the ears, because why not. I keep looking longingly at the hoodies with ears on Asian fashion websites, so you know I want the ears. Who cares how old I am. I'm old enough now I don't have to grow up if I don't want to!

Apple Event!

I forgot there was an Apple event today. I have now caught up, and while there wasn't anything I was specifically looking for, I am a little excited about a couple of things. The new MacBooks are gorgeous and come in gold. As my iMac comes to the end of its life, I'd been considering a laptop for my next computer. I'll be considering it more excitedly now, because the gold MacBooks are sweet.

Also, HBO Now, a standalone HBO that doesn't require a cable subscription, is coming to Apple TV! Exclusively to Apple TV, in fact. I don't have an Apple TV. Yet. Cutting the cable TV cord just got more attractive. I'd miss my HBO. Now I wouldn't have to miss it. At the new price of $69, the Apple TV may just be the thing that gets that cable cord cut. Though I didn't want yet another box. I'm sure HBO Now will come to other devices eventually, but I might not want to wait.

So they didn't come out with the thing I am waiting for (large iPad Pro), but I'm feeling post Apple event giddiness anyway! Those MacBooks are very, very sweet.

And sorry I haven't been posting or updating my about page like I promised. 2015 has been sucking harder than 2014 did, and I just can't seem to get my shit together. I've been really silent everywhere, so it's not like it's just my blog I'm ignoring.

About Mom’s Wreck

Sorry it's taken so long for me to tell you about Mom's wreck, but it was two weeks of stress after which I needed to get my own life back and schedule and recuperate. Quite frankly, I haven't much felt like talking about cars or car wrecks.

One Monday afternoon, Mom called. Her dog was acting funny, and she didn't know what to do. I suggested, since it was late in the day, she call the vet to tell them she was coming and not to close and then head over there. I then waited to hear back from her about her dog. I waited. I waited some more. It seemed to be taking a long time.

Finally, Mom called back. She sounded really upset, so I thought the worst about her dog. When she calmed down enough to make sense, she told me she'd had a wreck. It took ages to get the details of what had happened out of her, because she was understandably very upset.

She'd been driving down the street she lives on and a handful of blocks from the house when some guy in a truck ran a stop sign, bashed into her rear wheel well and wheel, spinning her around. He then drove her and her dog home in her car with a screwed up axle and gave her his insurance. Yup, no cops were called. Insurance companies weren't called on the spot. No photos of the scene taken. Mom, who has a cell phone paid for by us specifically for use during a crisis, didn't even call me from the scene. If she had, the cops and insurance would have been called, and no one would have gone anywhere until a report was filed. Naturally, the guy who was going home from visiting his dad, driving on a street he's driven probably a thousand times before, who ran a stop sign that has been there forever going fast enough to spin a Camry around and destroy the axle, well he promised to make everything better and get the car fixed.

As I'm getting the story of what happened, the vet came to pick up the dog.

Since it's really late in the day, Mom is tired and freaked out about both her dog and her car, I tell her to eat something and try to rest, and then told her to call his insurance company first thing in the morning. Hers too, just so they know … just in case. I hang up and begin panicking. So glad Mom wasn't injured at all, but this sounded like a mess in the making. I mean, the guy that hit her wasn't some teenager who doesn't know how wrecks work. He's a college educated full-on adult who shuffled my mom on home and away from the scene of the CRIME while telling her he'd fix it all and laying on the hard luck stories about his kids and rent and whatnot, in order to save himself a ticket. I fully expected his insurance to be invalid.

Mom called both insurance companies bright and early the next morning. They'd already both been informed. Yeah, his insurance was good. Not that it really made anything too much better, because after seeing photos of the car, I knew the outcome was most likely to be it being declared totaled, and the insurance settlement was never going to be enough to replace the car with an equally good car. I tried to ease Mom into the idea that her car was toast.

Meanwhile, the vet brings the dog back with a supply of painkillers. They can't find anything specifically wrong. Pixie is just old. Really old for a small dog.

Then began days of back and forth with the insurance adjuster. I won't impugn the reputation of all insurance adjusters, because I'm sure some of them are nice people, but this guy was a jackass. I mean, he popped out of the gate being a jackass and only got worse. I let Mom handle him at first, because she needs to keep doing things for herself and is capable, but eventually I took over communications. She's just not capable of being a hard nosed bitch when necessary, and she has a tendency to defer to men as the authority on all matters even when it isn't to her benefit.

The adjuster came back with their offer fairly quickly, and I was surprised it was almost five thousand dollars. I was not surprised her 1994 Camry was declared a dead car. We had her mechanic come out and look at it just to be sure, and he agreed. Her car was now a lump of useless metal. Mom was very sad, because she loved her car very much, and even though it was old, it was an awesome car in awesome shape. Five thousand dollars wasn't going to get another low mileage, garage kept, impeccably maintained car of any vintage. We are all in full panic mode at this point.

I began looking for cars, but Mom didn't want a car from Austin. I don't know why. I guess all us godless liberal heathens over here have cooties or ruin our cars merely by living in Austin. She insisted it had to come from her small town, so I narrowed my search to just there. Whatever makes Mom happy. She's the one who has to pay for it, and at least if it's bought there and there's a problem, she can drive her own self over there to complain about it. Well, in such a small pool of car lots, there's not a lot of cars to choose from. I do managed to find three potential candidates.

Now I need the check from the insurance company. Like now. Well, the adjuster continues to be a jackass. I make one final call to him, and I inform him in no uncertain terms that unless there is a check in my Mom's hands on Monday, lawyers will be involved and we will not take their offer which was more generous than expected but not as much as I was certain I could aquire with legal help. Our family lawyer agreed with my assessment on this matter, so I wasn't talking out of my ass. But going to lawyer route is a long path, and there are no guarantees. Mom couldn't be without a car that long, I couldn't drive back and forth every week to take her places, and in the end we might not have ended up with all that much more, so even though I knew we were getting screwed, getting screwed quickly so we could move on to the car buying was tenbest course of action. Me doing all that driving for six months to a year while a lawsuit sorted itself would have cost a LOT too. So I really dig into him, and finally he agreed to have the check there on Monday.

Monday comes and I head to Mom's and arrive just in time for lunch. Shortly thereafter, the adjuster arrives. I finally get to see what this guy looks like. Well, he's a walking talking caricature of a Texan. Western Texas flag shirt with white pearl buttons, spit shined pointy toed boots with gold toe and heel caps, leather tooled belt with a giant gold scrollwork buckle, and perfectly aqua gelled hair. His outfit matched his thick Dallas accent. I had to stifle a laugh. But who cares what he looks like, he had the check. We sat at the dining table, and oddly, the only paper Mom needed to sign was the title transfer power of attorney. No lengthy pile of legal documents informing us we couldn't sue and this was the end of their business with us. I'm not sure what that was about, but it did leave an interesting opening. Anyway, he was amazed at how fast we were moving on getting a new car. Well, duh. Mom doesn't have a car, and I don't live there. She needs a car. Like right now. Immediately.

We shuffled him out the door, and then we went car shopping. First stop had two of the contenders. A brand new Spark and a not terribly old Impala. Mom immediately poo pooed the economy car as being too small, as I knew she would, but I had to try. LOL! She did like the Impala, so we took it out for a test drive. It drove nice and the engine sounded nice and it was in good physical shape. By the time we got back to the lot, Mom wanted it. Only problem was the check engine light was on, and no, I'm not buying a car that's already displaying a problem. The dealership said they'd look it over and figure out the problem. We went grocery shopping and agreed to come back in an hour to finish the deal (maybe).

When we got back, they were still fussing with the car. Mom was super tired (so was I), so we told them we'd be back first thing in the morning. It was dark when we got back to the house, so we ate dinner and went to bed. Well Mom went to bed. I stayed up to see what I could find out about the car in question and to line up some other possible contenders for Mom's next car in case this one fell through. At some point I passed out with my iPad in my lap.

Bright and early the next morning, we headed back to the lot. I wasn't at all sure we would be getting that car, and I went in adversarial. Sorry, but I don't trust car salesmen, even if I sort of know them personally. It's a commission job, and even a good person will fail to share important information when they want a paycheck. There had already been a couple of questions not answered completely honestly and one not answered at all. I was wary (and weary), so I engaged my hard nosed bitch mode again. After a little back and forth with the salesman, my questions were answered, the car had been fixed, promises were made, and we agreed to buy the car. I even managed to talk them down a bit more on the price.

Then we moved on to talking with the financial officer. Ugh. By this point, I was full on cranky. When she came out with monthly payment well beyond what we were told to expect, I just said NO. Turns out she'd added an extended warranty thing to it without asking. Didn't want to take it off until I said the deal was off if she didn't. Just noooooo to the extended warranty bullshit. It's always a scam, and in this case it was $50 a month. Finally got that all squared away, the papers were signed, and the salesman took Mom out to the car to show her where all the buttons and doodads are and how to use them.

Mom and I went to lunch afterward, and then I took her out to the park to drive around a while. She was freaking out about driving. I get it. She'd just had a serious wreck, her favorite car was destroyed, and now she's got this really new, rather fancy newer car with all kinds of gadgets in it. She got comfortable enough with it that she wanted to drive home, but she only made it as far as the gas station. We filled it up and I drove the rest of the way. Then we sat around her house for a couple of hours trying to relax. I headed home later than I would have liked and had a hell drive home.

Meanwhile, through all this, the dog was on painkillers and basically just lying on the couch oblivious.

So Mom has had the car long enough to figure out how to get it into the garage and she's started going to stores and stuff again. She's still not sure she likes the car, and she keeps expecting it to break down at any moment. While I'm not pleased with the fact some dumbass destroyed her prior car and now she's out some many thousands of dollars and her favorite car, I like the new car well enough and trust it. It's bigger and nicer than her prior car, and to be honest, we got a good deal on it. It's just going to take a while for her to get used to the differences. I don't recall, but I'm sure we went through this when she bought the Camry too.

We still don't know what's wrong with the dog. She's doing a little better though and is being weaned off the painkillers to see what happens. She's just an old dog, and I suspect she's not long for the world. I'm just glad we didn't have to go through that grief and sadness in the middle of the car crisis. It really would have been too much. Once Mom has settled back into normal daily and driving life, I suspect she'll follow through on her decision to let the dog go. Yes, it's sad, but the choices are having a dog that has to be drugged into near unconsciousness on a daily basis or a dog in pain. There's really only one good choice.

Anyway, in closing … Photos of Mom's 2013 Chevy Impala and Mom.

It was a really long two weeks. I don't think I've fully recovered yet, mostly because through it all, I was dealing with a case of bronchitis. Yuck. I'm just glad we got that all done so fast. And now a bonus photo of poor, poor Pixie.


Mom’s Car

Mom was t-boned yesterday by a dude who ran a stop sign. This was the result.

She was on her way to the vet's office with her really sick dog at the time too, just for added fun. I'll post a full telling of the tale at a later time when we aren't still in the “you better make this crap right” stage of things. Mom seems okay. Dog is home from the vet. Wanted to upload these to show someone and thought I'd go ahead and show everyone.