An open letter to the upstairs neighbor

Dear upstairs neighbors:

You smoke in the bathroom (directly above MY bathroom), causing my towels and under-sink area to reek of cigarette smoke. You choose to do your vacuuming at 2 am. Your kids running around in your apartment sounds like a buffalo and an elephant engaged in a UFC-style throwdown. You wake me up in the morning screaming at your children and wake me up at night by having sex on the World’s Loudest Mattress 6 feet above my head. And then you have the audacity to ask me to turn down my music so your little hellions can take a nap in the middle of the afternoon? Excuse me for laughing at you and slamming the door in your face.

Sincerely,
The downstairs neighbor

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What the Voters Want in 2010

Looking back on the first decade of the new millennium, I think it’s safe to say that it was a crappy decade in the world of politics. Well, it was kind of a crappy decade in the world of economics, pop culture, and many other fields too, but politics (and politicians) really seemed to hit a low point in the 2000s. Since 2010 is an important election year for many Congressional districts, I thought I would do a little reflecting on what went wrong in the 2000s and what we as voters want to see in the 2010s.

1. Dear politicians, please keep it in your pants in 2010: Stop messing around with high class call girls (Eliot Spitzer). Stop hitting on underage Congressional pages, or anyone else underage. It’s illegal, immoral, and disgusting (Mark Foley). Stop soliciting sex from other men in airport bathrooms – seriously, that’s gross regardless of your sexual or political orientation (Larry Craig). We as voters view these things as serious moral transgressions. All of these men cheated on their spouses and it makes voters think “If this politician can’t be faithful to the one person in their life that they are supposed to genuinely love and respect, how can they be faithful to a mass of constituents they’ve never really met?”
2. Be transparent: No, really, we’re not kidding. Stop promising transparency and then laughing it off when the voters demand it when you start passing legislation. If you say you’re going to broadcast the healthcare debate on C-SPAN, then broadcast the healthcare debate on C-SPAN. If you say you’re not going to fill a bill with pork, then don’t wait until the night before you pass it and sneakily add in a bunch of sweetheart projects for your favorite districts. Leave that crap out, because the rest of us don’t want to pay for it and we shouldn’t have to.
3. Make sure the Mission really is Accomplished before you put up a sign declaring it so: Yeah, Dubya, I’m talking about you. I appreciate the “keeping us safe from terrorism for the last 7 years you were in office” thing, but let’s not celebrate prematurely. Al-Qaeda is still out there, they’re still trying to kill us, they don’t really care if you think you’re done with the job or not, and they don’t care who is sitting in the Oval Office (yeah, Obama, I’m talking about you).
4. Stop being so snuggly with special interest groups: I do not care if you are in bed with Exxon-Mobil or Greenpeace, PETA or the NRA. The only special interest group you need to concern yourself with are your constituents. So get out of bed and come join us in the living room so we can talk like civilized people, instead of whoring yourself out in the bedrooms of lobbyists.
5. Get your party platforms straight and stick to them: Democrats, stop acting like Socialists. Republicans, stop acting like Democrats. And third-parties get your heads out of the sand and your butts in gear. This is your day – seize it. The American people are sick of the same old crap from the mainstream Republocrats (or Depublicans, if you prefer). There is an enormous restlessness in mainstream America, perhaps most notable in the tea party movement. If third parties can use this energy and dissatisfaction to their advantage, they could put members in offices in districts across the country and really give the two-party system a run for its money.
6. Congress, get the F out of the way and let the military do it’s job: You know why we lost the Vietnam War? Because Congress wouldn’t allow the generals to do what they knew needed to be done to win. War is a hideous, ugly thing. People die – women, children, old people – that’s how it’s always been. But if we are going to defeat this shifty and amorphous enemy, then Congress needs to step aside and let the generals command their troops. Then maybe we can get the heck out of the desert and spend our time and money on other things that are more constructive (constructive in the literal sense: roads, schools, etc)
7. Less hypocrisy. If you oppose gay marriage, don’t get caught in the men’s bathroom with another guy. If you hate fat cat bankers, then don’t bail out the banks and auto industry. If you expect people to pay their taxes, don’t hire tax cheats to work in your administration. If you think CO2 is killing the planet, then live in a smaller house and stop flying around the country in a Gulfstream Jet. If your party opposes abortions, then have a healthcare plan for your politicians that doesn’t allow baby-killing. Don’t claim to oppose pork projects and then claim that the only places you can cut the budget are education, law enforcement, infrastructure, and the military (you know, the stuff that’s actually useful). This is not a hard concept, folks. Say what you mean, mean what you say, and act on it.
8. Media, please present us with real info, not just what you have hand-picked from your own biased viewpoint: This goes for MSNBC as well as Fox. Perhaps if you combine the two perspectives you will get something approaching balance, but it would be nice if reporters actually did their jobs and presented the facts, regardless of who it helped or hurt, without us having to watch 5 different networks to get even remotely close to the truth.
9. Less corruption: Our current president got his start in politics in Chicago – arguably the most politically corrupt city in the country. He has already brought many of the tactics used there to DC and has employed them without many problems. There has been plenty of coverage about him and his shady administration, so I won’t discuss it too much. The Bush years certainly weren’t squeaky clean either, and I think the goal of both parties for this coming decade should be to halt the corruption that runs rampant through both parties – bribery, blackmail, intimidation. You name it and it happens in Washington, DC. It needs to stop. The voters are tired of dishonest politicians in both parties.
10. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out: We need term limits. NOW. There are numerous Congress people who have been in office for decades (Robert Byrd, Chris Dodd, Daniel Inouye, Richard Lugar, Thad Cochran, just to name a few Senators) If you have been in Congress for more than 4 terms, you need to move on (and even that’s generous considering that’s 24 years for a Senator and 8 years for a Representative). If you’ve been in office that long, you have too much power and you are out of touch with your constituents. It’s clear to everyone observing the situation that you are no longer there because you want to make a difference – you’re there because you are drunk with power and bribe money. You have become cocky, even going so far as to insult the very people that elected you, because you know that you can bribe your way back into office, regardless of whether they vote for you or not (John Murtha). These tyrants need to be thrown out of office, ASAP.

This is just a starter list. There are hundreds of other problems that plague our political system (including the biggest one that I didn’t even mention here – the abandonment of the Constitution) that I did not include, simply because I would run out of time, space, and energy. I’m sure this has probably offended someone on one side or the other, but I don’t care. We’ll never get anywhere if we dance around the issues because we’re afraid we’ll hurt someone’s feelings.

The Reset Button Mystery

This is perhaps a post suited more to women, or men who are very metrosexual (do people still use that word?).

You know it’s happened to you. You plug in your hair dryer, flip your hair upside down to start drying it, turn the dryer on, and nothing happens. “That’s odd,” you think, and you push that magical little red button on the plug that says “reset” and go about drying your hair.

Have you ever stopped to think about WHY you have to push that button? It does not make sense. You don’t have to do that with any other household appliance. Toasters, curling irons, waffle makers, hair straighteners, irons, coffeemakers – none of these mysteriously stop working but begin again when you push the magic button. The mystery of the “reset” button and its loyal brother the “test” button has confounded me for years. Today, I have taken it upon myself to look up this information and bring it to you.

According to http://www.cosmtools.com, the “reset” and “test” buttons on the dryer are safety features, designed to prevent you from electrocuting yourself. Specifically, the reset button is there as an automatic shut-off of sorts. If you drop your dryer in a bathtub full of water, the reset button pops up and shuts off the dryer so you don’t fry yourself. The test button is basically there to open up certain kinds of electrical outlets so that the dryer will work. Why hair dryers require these special buttons and other small appliances do not is still a mystery to me. If anyone knows the answer, please post it.

Pet Peeve

Today my husband and I went out in search of a new apartment. Our current apartment isn’t all that bad, but we can hear our upstairs neighbors pretty clearly, we need a little more space, and, perhaps the reason most prevalent in my mind – I would like to have a cat.

I guess it’s sort of silly to move from one apartment to another just so you can acquire feline companionship, but I think pets are an important part of life. My husband will be deploying in March (2 months away) and I have only been in this town for about 6 months. Most of the other military wives that I’ve met are going back to their hometowns to live with their parents. They are continuing school or want their children to be able to spend time with their grandparents. I, however, am staying around the base. I have a job here already, and I don’t want to have to move everything we own into a storage unit and then restart the apartment hunting process again when my husband returns. My point here is, I’m going to be living alone for a year, and I’ve never done that before. I’ve always had my parents, my roommates, or my husband around.

Because of this, I want to get a cat. The problem is that so many apartments are anti-pet. Many complexes disallow them outright, but the ones that DO allow them charge exorbitant fees to discourage renters who have pets or who plan to adopt one. Most charge a one-time non-refundable fee between $200 and $400, plus a monthly fee ranging from $10-30. I think this is silly. I can understand having extra for a security deposit, because yes, sometimes our animal friends stain the carpets, scratch up the walls, or otherwise damage our homes if they aren’t trained properly. But if your animal does not do these things, and you leave your apartment the way it was when you moved in, then you should get that deposit back. And why is there an extra fee per month? That simply makes no sense at all. Landlords don’t charge an extra fee per person, so why have an extra fee per pet? That money does not go towards any special services provided – they do not take your dog for walks for you, they don’t empty your cat’s litter box.

Rarely do these fees take into account the size and temperament of your animal. You will pay the same $350 plus $20 a month for a beagle or collie as you will for a gerbil or a goldfish. This is ridiculous, as smaller animals generally cause less damage than larger ones. Most places ban “aggressive” breeds of dogs (Dobermans, Pit Bulls, etc) but many of these animals are very friendly and congenial if they are raised properly. Abused animals and animals that are trained to be aggressive (as attack dogs, for example) are going to be more belligerent and potentially cause more problems than other animals. So if you have a Pit Bull that you’ve raised from a puppy and he’s the friendliest dog in the world, it doesn’t matter to the apartment. He’s a pit bull, and you will have to get rid of him or move elsewhere. Restrictions like this are why animal shelters are full of large dogs, especially the “aggressive” breeds.

This kind of discrimination toward pet owners (or would-be pet owners) is very frustrating. Pets provide companionship for those of us who may get lonely – military spouses with no family or close friends nearby, widows and widowers, the blind person who needs a seeing-eye dog, even the lonely soldier who just wants his childhood pet to join him in his new duty station. Apartment complexes need to be more open-minded and have a more common-sense approach to pet ownership on their property.