Sunday, August 16, 2020

Not The World I Want....

So, I took my car in for a recall this past week.   No big deal, it was a software update for the transmission.  Took about an hour.  To kill some time I walked down the street to Home Depot and the Sierra Vista Mall. 

I assumed that the mall would be deserted, due to the pandemic.  The Sears and Dillard's anchor stores have gone out of business and only a Best Buy and the Cinemas are keeping it open.  A sign on the window indicated that the hours of operation were 11am to 5pm on weekdays.  It was around 9:30am when I arrived.

I brought my camera along to take some pictures of what I assumed would be a stark and empty post pandemic landscape.  The mall had not opened yet, so there was no one around, or so I assumed.  As I meandered around the mall heading toward Home Depot I was approached by two gentlemen who asked what I was doing. 

The heavy set gentlemen was apparently the property manager of the mall, his companion was an armed and uniformed security officer. They questioned what I was doing, and then told me that taking pictures of the buildings was not allowed.  I was a bit stunned.  I apologized for 'breaking their rules' and headed off the property, although there were no signs or warnings indicating that what I was doing was improper or illegal. 


As I walked out of the parking lot, I started to chuckle at the whole experience.  From my work experience in social work and insurance, I understood their logic.  I could have been an attorney taking pictures of a slip and fall claim location, or a city employee documenting zoning code violations.  With that mindset you would want to minimize your risk.  However....this is a public space.  A space that would be open to the public within the hour. 

What they were not considering, was that I could put a GoPro camera in my hat and take all the pictures I wanted, or I could wait until they opened in an hour and walk into the (deserted) food court and snap-away.  Never mind the fact that I might have been a paying customer waiting to attend the cinema, who was chased off by badass security dude and his henchmen.   

This is the world I find myself in.  One where distrust and control are paramount and interactions are always suspect.  I don't know if their limited mindset could have fathomed my walking across the street and using a telephoto lens, or god forbid I had a drone in my car that could fly over the buildings.  Fear rules now-a-days and everyone is suspicious of everyone else.  Hardly the society that my parents envisioned or the one in which I want to live. 


Friday, August 14, 2020

Things Old Guys Do - The Catio


The wife and I are pet people.  We have always had dogs and cats.  They are our kids and we tend to spoil them from time to time.  

One of the things that Sue has always wanted was an outdoor enclosure for our cats so that they could go 'outside' but still be safe from all the nasty things that come after cats.  Sue nagged me for one of these until I finally gave in and said 'fine'.  You find a contractor and have one built. 

Sue went through four different contractors, all of whom never got back to her with an estimate. Most of the 'handymen' in town sort of saw a crazy lady that wanted to build a cat-condo.  So, in the end, I realized that if I was ever going to shut Sue up about this project, I would have to build it myself.  I agreed with the condition that I would have full creative control and budget authority.  This really irked Sue, but at this point, I held all the cards.

The project took about four months to complete and had to meet several parameters which included; it had to be free standing (the Catio does not touch the house), it had to conform to the design and look of the 115 year old house, it had to be accessible for cleaning, and it had to be off the ground due to weather / water and vermin (bugs and skunks).

The end result is a three tiered enclosure that is primarily made of metal with a wooden facade.  Almost all of the wood was re-purposed from other projects that we had around the houses.  The Catio was incorporated into the spiral staircase that I build which replaced the rotted stairway that came with the house.

The lamp post was left over from when we lived in Phoenix.  It was purchased for our home in Encanto/Palmcroft and never used.  Eight years later it was finally taken out of the box and placed on the corner of the porch. It is wired with the original knob and tube porcelain fixtures that were still on the outside of the house. 

The cats access the catio through a tunnel that leads from the enclosed sun-porch off the master bedroom, under a bench and onto the catio itself.  At the end of the catio is an enclosed area were the litter boxes are placed and can be accessed from the outside (no more indoor litter boxes). 

The cats are still figuring it out, but most have realized that there are a lot more birds to watch from the catio perches than through the windows in the house.  I have yet to show Sue what the bill is for the labor involved.  It won't be cheap.  Did I mention that we spoil our pets?