A Further Call To Arms! The Texas Baker’s Bill. Again.

Posted by DmentD | Aggravation,Links,Promotion,Spotlight,Stress | Monday 11 April 2011 1:05 pm

Well, the Cottage Food Bill is getting the runaround in the Texas Legislature again this year, and time is rapidly running out.  Shenanigans and stalling tactics, and it looks to be Rep. Lois Kolkhorst who has parked it in limbo again.  This blows.

So, the folks behind the bill are urging everyone to step up the game and contact (call and email) all the members of the Public Health Committee — the committee where the bill is stalled out, and that Rep. Kolkhorst is the Chair of.  They also encourage everyone to contact Rep. Joe Straus (Speaker of the House), Gov. Rick PerryLt. Governor David Dewhurst, and anyone else who will listen.

The email I wrote follows, if anyone is interested.  The full list of email addresses for the Public Health Committee is as follows (easy to just copy and paste as needed):

Lois.Kolkhorst@house.state.tx.us; Elliott.Naishtat@house.state.tx.us; Carol.Alvarado@house.state.tx.us; Garnet.Coleman@house.state.tx.us; Sarah.Davis@house.state.tx.us; Veronica.Gonzales@house.state.tx.us; Susan.King@house.state.tx.us; Jodie.Laubenberg@house.state.tx.us; Charles.Schwertner@house.state.tx.us; Vicki.Truitt@house.state.tx.us; John.Zerwas@house.state.tx.us;

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Dear members of the Public Health Committee,

In 2009 a bill was introduced into committee to provide for residential kitchens to legally produce low-risk baked goods — such as cakes and cookies, jams and preserves — and sell them directly to the public.  This bill stalled out in committee, essentially “dying on the vine” before it could even be considered for further action or a vote.

This year the community of Texas home bakers wishing to take their first steps into the light of legal enrichment tried again, and HB1139 was authored and introduced by Representative Eddie Rodriguez.  HB1139, after much outpouring of support from constituents from around the state, has picked up another author — Representative Coleman — and five additional co-authors —  Representatives Gallego, Gonzales, Jackson, Laubenberg & Schwertner (many of which are actually members of the Public Health Committee).  Additionally, and inexplicably, Representative Lois Kolkhorst, the committee Chair, has filed a similar bill in parallel, HB2084.

HB1139 was filed on February 7, then read and referred to the Public Health Committee on February 27.  Calls have been made and letters have been written in enthusiastic support to the various Texas Representatives by their constituents wishing to see HB1139 passed.  There has been copious media and internet coverage in support of this bill.  Social networks have been buzzing for months about this.

Unfortunately, both bills still wither on the vine, and as in 2009 Representative Lois Kolkhorst appears to be the leading source of the roadblock, while her parallel bill appears to be an attempt to dilute the impact of the original.  We, who have been following with great interest, have repeatedly been fed promises of “next week”, and “soon”, and we’re growing a little weary of being put off with friendly words and a smile.  This gives off the whiff of a stalling tactic so that these bills will just disappear once more, buried, while the public that yearn for it are placated like so many noisy children.

There are eighteen other States that have passed Cottage Food Laws, the most recent being Arizona in February 2011.  There a five other States considering Cottage Food Laws right now.  Why are we not being allowed to join their ranks, granting an opportunity for financial independence for individuals and culinary diversity?

The passing of a Cottage Food Law will allow individuals and small groups of home bakers to generate revenue in this otherwise tepid economical landscape.  That revenue is subject to local sales tax (more money for the State!), income tax, and spending cash in the pockets of the bakers themselves to help stimulate the local economies.  It would help build small businesses that may one day flourish into larger enterprises, creating even more jobs and revenue along the way.  It would allow individuals to ply a trade they truly enjoy, flexing their creative culinary skills, making for a happier person.  It would allow people to fulfill their dreams, to be independent, and to do what they love.

I can’t speak for the rest of Texas, but Austin is fiercely proud of its reputation for locally owned and operated businesses and the eclectic atmosphere that comes when the majority of the shops are run by individuals and not mega-corporations and chains.  Think of the vast variety of tastes and styles, ethnic and cultural confections that only ever get served up at the family table… then imagine those miraculously being available in farmer’s markets and little stalls and shops around town, all across the State.

Don’t allow the Committee to let this pass by — again — without giving it a chance to flourish.  I ask that you reach out to them and encourage the members of the Committee to nurture these seeds, water and feed them, bring them into the light of day and let them ripen into a glorious opportunity for individuals and the State of Texas.  They should bring this bill into the light and let the House have a chance to put it to a vote.  Please do your part and give these bills some forward momentum.

Thank you for your time and attention.

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*sniffle*

Posted by DmentD | Aggravation,Rambling,Stress | Wednesday 31 March 2010 11:52 am

All I have to say is “fuck pollen”, specifically oak and cedar pollen.

I never had problems with allergies or my sinuses until I moved to Austin.  Guess what Austin, you have no idea what humidity feels like until you’ve spent entire summers in 150% humidity and 100°+ heat, drenched with sweat .07 seconds after you emerge from your hermetically sealed, air conditioned cocoon of a home… so stop complaining, ok?  I mean, yeah, I’m sure it’s more miserable in certain other parts of the world… Ethiopia, Botswana, or some other technologically vacuous and environmentally hostile sinkhole, but they’re justified to bitch bout it.  No, spend a typical summer in the trench-rot friendly environs of Southern Louisiana, then come back here and we’ll have an educated conversation about humidity.

What does this have to do with sinuses and pollen?  Humidity keeps pollen from traveling very far — the pollen particles get saturated and just thud to the ground, listless.  It’s a wonder there is anything growing in SoLa.  Here, in Central Texas, the pollen sets new world distance traveling records every year… hell, pollen here comes equipped with jetpacks, a sinus seeking radar, and a giant red button labeled “Red Alert: Attack”.

It is so dry here in comparison to NOLA, that I was borderline for perpetual nosebleeds for the first 3 months until I acclimated.  All that dry weather causes your sinus passageways to contract, opening up a superhighway for the spores to travel, then they slam shut again.  The pressure builds up until your eyes want to escape your head for fear of being propelled at high velocity into your monitor, your nose is incapable of even the most pathetic wet gurgle, and dear jeebus it’s the 17th street floodwall disaster all over again when the dam finally breaks and you flood your nose and throat with shockingly fast moving fluid that leaves a fetid water-line down the front of your shirt.  All you need is the Army to come along and spray-paint an “X” on you, declaring how many bodies are inside and when they checked you.

A colorful description, I know.  Just thought I’d share my misery.

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Growth.

Posted by DmentD | Aggravation,Domestica,House,Rambling | Wednesday 7 October 2009 12:01 am

Well, to keep up the blogging streak I seem to have stumbled into, I’m going to continue to talk about gardening.

For just a bit.

Our seedlings are doing well, with one exception… the onions.  We’re on our third try of germinating seeds and starting seedlings as a result of very few seedlings surviving from the first two batches.  They germinate perfectly, lovely little green shoots pop up, and a few weeks later they sort of rot away.  At first I thought it was a result of too much water, but honestly once the seeds germinate and I get shoots, I mist them daily and give them a light dose of water (in the well drained seedling bags we make) a few times a week.  The other seedling varieties are thriving where these are dying.

After a little homework, I think I have the solution.  Light.  Lacking a greenhouse, we have to raise all our seedlings inside, and the best place is near the west-facing windows of our dining room where we get the most light during the day.  It’s not as much light as I’d like, but we’ve had decent success there.  Doing some poking around online, it seems a lot of folks who start onions from seed use grow lights to get them to the point where they can be transplanted outside… depending on the “season” your onions are (long or short), it can be up to 12 – 14 hours a day.  We don’t get anywhere near that much light, and with the glorious rain we’ve been having the sky is more often than not overcast these days.  I think the poor little guys are just dying off from light starvation.

So, I’ll be setting up an inexpensive grow-light system in the next few days that will hopefully let me generate strong onion seedlings, and will more than likely give a good healthy boost to the tomato, broccoli and Brussels sprouts seedlings.  Stick it on a timer, and there’ll be nothing to monitor except growth.

There, that wasn’t so bad, now was it?

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Snakes On A Dog.

Posted by DmentD | Aggravation,Friends,Pictures,Stress | Thursday 3 September 2009 12:13 pm

Two of my dog family here in Austin — Niece Cleo and Nephew Puck — were both bitten by a baby rattlesnake last night.  On the face.  How humiliating… that little reptile punk didn’t even have the stones to wage a fair fight, so he had to resort to sucker punching them.

They’ve undergone treatments of anti-venom and after a scary-as-hell night, seem to be recovering.  I’m hoping for the absolute best.  For the moment though, I offer this as a response to the whole situation:

Snakes On A Dog

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Dishwasher, R.I.P.

Posted by DmentD | Aggravation,House | Thursday 25 September 2008 2:55 pm

Well, the old crappy dishwasher that came with the house finally went tits up.  It wasn’t worth replacing right away as it did a passable job of cleaning the dishes and heated them up nicely, so I decided to either use it till it died, or replace it upon further kitchen remodeling down the road.

It died.

Noticed that the last batch of dishes a few days ago came out really spotty for some reason, bit since I got some spots anyway with each load, I figured it was just more of the same.  Loaded the washer up and went to run it and noticed it didn’t finish the previous cycle (and upon further examination, there was standing water in the bottom too)… that would explain the spots, and also meant I needed to re-wash those dishes.  So, cranked the dial around to run the latest batch.  Nothing. It just stared up at me with flat lifeless eyes.  I checked the breakers, flipped the retarded light switch that the building code requires to be able to turn off a dishwasher from above the counter, spun the knob a few more times… not a peep.

Dammit, don’t you die on me!”  I grabbed my tools and prepared for emergency, open panel surgery.  I dismantled the front of the washer to expose all the wiring, searching desperately for a breaker of some sort.  “Live, you sonofabitch, LIVE!”  I confirmed I had power to every part of the washer (with this strange little toy/tool that Drew turned me on to that detects electrical fields), even the wash-selector dial.  “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!”  He was gone.

Ok, to be fair, there is likely some buried little part that is burnt out somewhere in the unit.  I could call in a repair person to take up the torch where I left off with my amateur, yet logical knowledge of electrical appliances (having repaired quite a few in the past).  But this washer is crap, and not worth the expense of a service call and subsequent replacement part, or even, to be honest, worth wasting more than the 45 minutes I spent on it last night.  It was earmarked for the shitpile in the near foreseeable future, so I might as well bite the bullet and replace it now — It can always be moved to its new location when the eventual remodel happens anyway.

Part of me is pissed that it broke before I could replace it, but the rest of me is breathing a sigh of relief that I can now get a modern, efficient unit that will allow me to unload it without the need to inspect every piece of dishware to be sure it actually got clean.  Sometimes you just need a valid excuse.

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Best Foot Forward.

Posted by DmentD | Aggravation,Reflection,Stress | Tuesday 16 September 2008 11:51 am

Soooo, I did a stupid thing on Friday.  At GonzO’s hurricane party I hopped down from a height of about 3′ and rolled my right foot under me, effectively spraining it mildly.

I was standing on the head of DeJockamo’s cousin (currently “on loan” and living happily in GonzO’s yard) and peering over his fence and into the empty lot next door to see what Cleo and Puck were barking at.  Cleo, a pug/Jack Russell terrier mix, had succumbed to her instincts and efficiently dispatched a rat to its heavenly host earlier in the day.  I was attempting to see if there was another one — or several for that matter — wandering around and making the dogs go batshit loco.

Finding nothing of interest, I hopped off the concrete idol.  Whilst in mid-fall I noticed that where I once had a clear landing zone, I now had a fuzzy face with an adorable under-bite, and a pair of soft brown eyes staring up at me.  Cleo had maneuvered herself directly under me, finding me suddenly more interesting than the non-existent rats.  I shifted my weight and adjusted my feet so I wouldn’t squish her, and I came down hard with most of my weight on my right foot.

I felt it roll on the uneven grass, followed by a sharp pain in my ankle — but no pop or crack sound.  I immediately made my way to somewhere I could stand and support myself, and evaluated what damage I had done.  My ankle hurt like hell, but I could bear putting my weight on it, and the initial pain was starting to dull (thank you endorphins!).  After ten minutes there was no noticeable swelling and I could walk, albeit favoring my non-injured foot.  Ten minutes later I had a small egg of swelling on my outside ankle, and a tiny bit on the front of the foot.  I was reasonably sure I hadn’t broken anything as I could support my weight, and my foot/ankle didn’t swell up like a ham attached to the end of my leg.  I attribute this to the fact that I was wearing my tactical boots when it happened, and the tight lacing and high sides are designed to minimize foot and ankle trauma.

I iced the foot for an hour afterward, and was able to hobble around with my weight partially on it.  I was even able to drive with surprisingly little difficulty, to pick up Sweets from class and to get us home.  Walking was much easier and less painful after driving… using the foot to operate the pedals seemed to have warmed the ankle up a bit and loosened up the stiffness.  When I lay down for bed, there was only minor swelling and no bruises to be seen.  I had a nice little elastic ankle brace of Sweet’s to use to keep compression on it.

Waking up Saturday, I had shockingly little pain in the ankle — just tenderness and stiffness.  My range of motion had increased, and lo and behold, the bruise had finally decided to show.  It spread, over the course of the weekend, from my heel all along the side of my foot to the arch, and a lovely bruise also formed under the outside of my foot as well.  I kept it elevated and iced on-and-off all weekend, and have been able to walk normally for the most part.  The bruises are starting to fade, but here they are for what it’s worth:

After a day of work yesterday, and a little shopping afterward, I’m finding my ankle to be a little sore — it’s the most walking I’ve done since banging it up on Friday.  Also, the swelling is going down, so that’s contributing to it a bit too.  Ibuprofen is my friend!

So, it was a damned stupid thing to do, but it could have been worse.  I now have a reminder for the next month or so of my own idiocy… like I don’t have enough reminders already.

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Growing Pains.

Posted by DmentD | Aggravation,Rambling,Site | Monday 15 September 2008 3:21 pm

The new site makes me very happy.  I’ve been tinkering with it nonstop since I decided to make the changeover, and especially now that the changeover is official.  There is one issue that will affect only a small portion of my readership, and that is because they are still using Internet Explorer to browse the web.

Now, I can’t tell you what browser to use (but shame on you if you’re still sailing the Intarwebs on that leaky tub IE), but I can tell you that at this point DmentD.com may never be optimized to work perfectly in IE… and here’s why: Microsoft has deemed it unnecessary to bother conforming to the ever changing world of web design standards and conventions.  MS picks and chooses what it feels is optimal to them, makes up a fair amount of their own shit, and discards the rest.

The case in question here has to do with integrating my gallery into the WordPress front end here.  The gallery is optimally viewed in an environment that favors a landscape page design, whereas I utilize a portrait page design that employs tightly controlled design elements.  In FireFox, and indeed on the other non-IE browsers I’ve tested the site on (including, I would like to add, an iPhone), the gallery merely extends gracefully past the confines of the right border of the page design as needed because that content is”floating” above the page design itself.  IE, however, triggers a “float drop” (a phrase coined specifically for this little anomaly), causing the gallery to appear below the navigation bar because it is wider — by narrow and wide degrees — than the space allotted for it.

There are workarounds (not solutions, mind you, but the equivalent of using a coat hanger to keep your muffler from dragging the ground as you drive), but none of  them are readily applicable to this situation.  I s’pose I could find or build another theme that is laid out better for these circumstances, but I like the one I’m using, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time making it pleasing to me, and to selectively quote GonzO:

I found out that I don’t really care, on a personal-site level, about standards, language validation, or other such nonsense.  I care about people reading what they came to read, not using excessive amounts of bandwidth, and being able to use the entire site. This should happen across any platform, and on any browser, you can think of, though I no longer test in IE or even in Windows for that matter. The site will not fit if you’re using anything less than 1024×768, so sorry to all the dudes out there still using a 4mb video card, but COME ON and get with the program, already.

So, I apologize to the IE users, you’re just gonna have to scroll down a bit more than everyone else.  I’ve got more important site tasks to work out than fixing the gallery display in one browser, only to have it broken in another, and so on, and so on, ad infinitum.  If you’re particularly upset about this, you can always just bookmark the direct link to the gallery and use that.

And having blathered on about all that, I also want to point out that I am still working on the backlog of fixing broken links and images in the remaining posts, and assigning them to appropriate categories.

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Kitchen Sink.

Posted by DmentD | Aggravation,House,Pictures | Monday 25 August 2008 11:03 pm

So, the right side of my double sink in the kitchen was leaking a bit from round the drain flange where the drain met the sink.  No problem.  That’s just a matter of replacing the crusty plumber’s putty that’s dried out and lost it’s elasticity, causing a little leak.

Removed the giant nut that holds it on and pulled the drain out.  Pulled the nut out from under the sink, looked at what I had, and cursed every landlord that ever just “made do” with a rental property (this house was a rental before I bought it).  Have a look.

Broken Sink

The nut was cracked (and not from me removing it), and the jackasses just packed the area around the nut with plumber’s putty to stop any leaks that sprung up.  Had to schlep my way to Home Depot at eight o’clock at night and buy a whole new sink drain and nut assembly, because they don’t sell just the nut.

*mumblegrumblecurse*

Stupid fucking sink.

Broken Sink

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Stress Fractures.

Posted by DmentD | Aggravation,Rambling,Stress | Friday 25 April 2008 2:44 pm

The date to close on the house is rapidly approaching — April 30th.  So far, the stars are in alignment… the contract is a lock, the loan is a done deal (at a fairly awesome interest rate), my mortgage company deserves some sort of posthumous Medal of Honor for throwing themselves on the worst of the paperwork grenade and absorbing all the shrapnel for me.  I cut a check for my portion of the roof as a deposit (upgrading to the better roof for a fraction of the cost), and the work is a go as soon as the ink dries next Wednesday.

So why do I feel like a guitar string being tightened to the point of snapping, giving off metallic pings and tremors just before shearing?  I’m raw, I’m on edge, and my nerves feel like they’re being sandpapered.  I feel like I’m drowning at times, for want to get my head above the waves of this emotional ocean.

I’m lonely as hell.  The one person I want to spend as much time as humanly possible with is 5000+ miles, and an ocean away.  We IM, we video every so often, we talk on the phone now and again and I am comforted, elated and feel her companionship… but the second the signal is severed, I’m left alone again in my little apartment.

I can be alone, that’s something I learned about myself and am quite comfortable with.  But now that I have a such a wonderful girl in my life, I want nothing more than to be close to her, and I can’t.  At least not yet.  Yet the loneliness I feel is not from living alone, and is felt more sharply owing to the immediate stresses pressing down on me.

I have friends galore, whom I don’t get to see enough of.  Some of them are new friends, and they’re wonderful but we’re still trying to get our equilibrium with one another.  Some of them are old friends, and are the backbone of my emotional support system — they are the comfortable, well known easy chair I can turn to when times are rough, to cradle me, support me, and give me comfort when the world is crumbling down around my ears.  Except that they have problems of their own, or are soul searching and rediscovering who they are, or they are growing in a different direction, or they don’t feel like putting up with my crap any more, or I’ve done such a wonderful job of disguising my emotional state that they don’t realize anything is amiss.  So with a few notable exceptions, my comfy easy chair has left the building… I have a small cushion left, and that’s about it (and I’m thankful for that cushion, or I’d have lost my mind completely by now).

And this lack of being able to lean on my friends for a change has done nothing to improve my mindset.  I’m grouchy, irritable, and throwing off negative waves like a corpse off-gassing the stench of decay.  I’m afraid I’m wearing thin on those who have been putting up with me, including my girl who is oh-so-far away.  But still, what underlies it all is the fact that I’m bone-achingly lonely, and normally it’s not a problem except that right now it’s compounded by the fact that I’m about to lay out a huge sum of money all in one go, and that a figurative chunk of blue ice could fall from the empty sky and wreck the whole house deal.

I need some familiar company.  I don’t even want to go on at length about my problems, I just need companionship and a meal, a movie or a beer in comfortable surroundings.  I need distractions from my stresses, preferably in a small group of two or three.  I need someone to make me laugh — to release that valve on the top of my head like a pressure cooker.  Someone to engage me in a conversation that does not include “house”, “contract”, “closing” or “down payment” in it.  I have made attempts with sub-par success.  Maybe I am too good at hiding my mental state.  Maybe I’m comically lousy at it, and that’s chasing everyone off like Frankenstein’s monster smashing the door in.

But the one thing I don’t want is sympathy.  I don’t want a pat on the head and exclamations of “poor baby!”.  I’m not fishing for a pity round at the local pub.  I’m not looking for a sudden onslaught of calls and texts out of the clear blue sky looking to hang out because people read this post and suddenly feel bad for me, or guilty, or obligated — I’ll take my lonely little apartment over that any day.  In fact, I don’t know what I want, except to not feel like too little butter scraped over too much bread.

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Fire Men.

Posted by DmentD | Aggravation,Rambling | Tuesday 25 March 2008 11:42 pm

It’s always mildly disconcerting to be about to lay down for bed and hear the sound of a large vehicle’s air-brakes bringing it to a halt outside your window, then you look through the blinds only to see a firetruck parked there.

Suddenly, the nice men in their turnout gear had my full attention.  If my building was on fire, I’d kinda like to know about it.

They weren’t in a hurry, and they didn’t have their sirens a-blazing, but they were there.  Flashlights in hand they explored the breezeway on my side of building 4, and then went to the other side where it looks as if they were met by a woman and her dog.  They disappeared over there for about five minutes.  They then leisurely walked back to the truck, got in and disembarked.  The guy in the front passenger seat spotted me on my patio watching them, and gave me a half hearted wave.

I have absolutely no clue what the hell that was all about, but needless to say it was strange, and a little surreal.  As I was walking back to the bedroom, I knew in my heart of hearts I had to pause to blog about this.

Fuck.  I need to find a house to buy.  I’m very tired of living with the possibility that the residents of 15 other apartments could possibly burn my home to the ground.  I don’t like those odds, and frankly, I don’t trust that most of these chuckleheads could pour water out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel, much less be completely focused on day-to-day common sense and safety.  All it takes is one asshole to leave a candle burning somewhere, or decide it’s perfectly ok to smoke in bed so long as the windows are open.

If I burn a house of my own to the ground, I have nobody to blame but myself.  I wouldn’t be rolling the dice with a mob of lowest common denominators.

*sigh*

*** ADDENDUM ***

During the next hour a number of Austin Energy (the local power company) trucks came and went through my parking lot.

Curious.

And then around 1AM I was woken from a dead sleep by the sound of chainsaws.  They went on for a number of hours, continually waking me on and off.  This morning there was a tree-service company disposing of lots of large branches.

I can only surmise that a tree was rubbing on a power line to the building and causing some trouble, specifically something that may have caused some sparks; hence the firetruck, power company and tree-service company.

I is tired.

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