Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wha? My church was stolen! It begs several philosophical questions, when you think about it. Like, who does God need to have a sit-down with: the thief or the priest? Perhaps the thief is a priest. Perhaps the question depends on the religious denomination involved. Perhaps the thief is God, wanting to teach the priest a lesson. I'll be thinking about it all day. Anyway, it's probably best not to steal a House of God, since He knows where you live.

I had no idea that Lileks' house, Jasperwood, was built by the man who invented Walnettos ("Yes, I sleep in the bedroom of a man who gave the world Walnettos. I walk in his footsteps every day. It’s an honor, and a responsibility. I should remake that website for free.") Walnettos are included in the standard issue MRE, and scored a perfect 25 spoons in an Army Times survey of hundreds of soldiers. "I would trade my whole MRE for a walnut candy," said one soldier.

My house has a connection to soldiers from its previous owner, too. The place was built and owned by Charlie Piedmont, who was known for his five "Cash-A-Check" locations in Oceanside. Concerned officials from the Marine Corp base, Camp Pendleton, brought to the attention of the Oceanside City Council that its marines were possibly being taken advantage of. Piedmont owned a Cash-A-Check less than two miles from the base gate, where more than half of his customers were Marines. Here's an article. He was interviewed on NPR about the fact that Oceanside would be changing the rules on those places (where the APR can amount to 460%), and other base cities in the country were following suit. He's in the NPR piece whining about how the military teaches its men how to use a rifle but not a checkbook. Here's another golden quote: "How do you tell that young man he can't have those $1,800 wheels for his car when next month he may die?" (Classy!) Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Clinton were outspoken about the issue, and in the end, right before the City Council voted on it, Piedmont was the sole voice in opposition to the new local law. Piedmont, who used to work in the casino industry, later complained that he had to shut down a few of his stores after the laws were changed.

When we were on vacation in late 2006, Mrs. Ditchman spotted him weighing in on the Cash-A-Check scandal on Fox News, which was the first we'd heard about it. (It was pretty funny -we couldn't believe our eyes.) I can't abide those check cashing places, but I'll curb my criticism of the man on that point. (Have a listen to the NPR piece yourself, and you tell me your impression him.) We paid too much for the Piedmont estate, which is my own fault, but I will say with indignant righteousness that the man's taste in floor tile was atrocious! (We jackhammered it out a few weeks after signing the docs.) I remember when Mr. Piedmont gave me a tour of the place and I pointed out a large, poorly patched gash in the hallway wall. He told me his son "got mad once," and that was it. For years I felt a cold, hollow bitterness every time I walked past that spot, which no amount of paint could cover up. When the Little Ditchman was born, I ripped out the drywall and rebuilt it.

Lastly, a neighbor told me that the reason the Piedmonts moved was because another neighbor had run over and killed Charlie's little dog, and it had just become too painful and awkward for Mr. Piedmont to go on living here. She refused to say who the culprit was, or if there was any pre-conceived ill-intent, but it makes one wonder... there were some marines who lived on the street at the time.

Life in the suburbs. I'll take a little sack of Walnettos any day.