Thursday, November 13, 2014

3994 Already?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

"Against logic there is no armor like ignorance." 
--Laurence J. Peter--


According to my outdoor thermometer, it's 47 F outside.

It's raining.  It's 10:45 pm.

I was just out on the front porch, and I noticed that some of those raindrops looked rather large. 
And white. 
And shiny.

The grass and driveway showed just wetness, so I stuck the black velvet sleeve of my jacket out into the "rain" and caught a few of the "raindrops",
and several of them were flat,
and six-pointed.

I feel sick.  I'm not ready for this.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

3993 Squirrel Heaven

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Love is the only beast that bites after it's dead.
(Except for reptiles.)


There's a squirrel who comes to my porch sometimes to beg for peanuts when he sees me outside.  This afternoon, I heard him running through the drifted leaves, but then he took a sharp right turn and ran for the tree on the other side of the driveway.  There was something about the way he was moving that signaled major excitement, not his usual stop-and-go scamper.  He seemed to have some difficulty climbing the tree.

I walked across the driveway to see why, and saw that he was carrying something in his mouth.  Something beige, about half his size.  Something with long dangly things on each side.  Oh good grief - it looked like he was carrying a baby rabbit!

I got closer and discovered that he was carrying a small ear of corn.  The "bunny ears" were the husk.

He was so excited, and so obviously happy, and so determined to get that thing up to the top of the tree.

Somebody may have lost part of their door wreath.

Friday, October 31, 2014

3992 Slumber party!

Friday, October 31, 2014

War doesn't determine who's right, just who's left.


The Nugget:

The Nugget is three-and-a-half now. 

Last Saturday night, her parents were going to a party, and I had agreed to babysit.  Daughter asked how late they could stay out, and I said as late as you like, I have my book, and there's the couch, don't worry about time.  But Daughter still fussed, so I had a Great Idea - how 'bout Nugget just stays overnight at my house?  We asked Nugget, and she was all for it.

By Saturday morning I was having second thoughts.  Nugget has stayed in hotels and various relatives' homes many times, but always with her Mommy.  As far as I know, she'd never slept away from her Mommy.  I had visions of her waking at 3 am with "I want my Mommy!", and nothing ever cures that but the production of her mommy, immediately.  Daughter said that Nugget was excited about staying over at Gramma's, and there's no turning back now.

So, she came over at 7 pm.  Bedtime was supposed to be 9 pm.  I think she finally fell asleep at 11 pm.  We had a good time, arranging hair, telling stories (I do a really good job with The Three Billy Goats Gruff and the ogre) and generally giggling.

I think there's a particular time when kids start sleeping with their head at the top of the bed and their feet pointing toward the foot of the bed.  She's not there yet.  Several times during the night I had to move her legs off my back.  And among the eight stuffed animals and dolls in the bed with us was a bear that  talked when squeezed, and he happened to be between us and I kept leaning on him ("I looooove when you hug meeeee").  And then there was the usual checking every half hour to make sure she was still breathing.  I got no sleep at all, but she slept very well --- until 3 am.

She woke me, near tears. "Gramma, I had a monster dream."
"Oooo.  I bet it was scary."
"Yes.  It was berry scary."
"But you know it was a dream, right?"
"And you're not dreaming now?"
"Are there any monsters around now?"
"No.  There's no monsters now."
"Monster dreams are very scary.  But they're just dreams.  They're not real.  They go poof when you wake up."
"Yeah.  Ok."  And she was back to sleep almost immediately.  No "I want my mommy".
I was so proud of her, and so grateful.

We got up about 9 am, two hours later than usual for her.  She said, "Mommy says wake up, go potty, brush teeth, take a bath, get dressed, then eat breakfast."  Only Mommy had forgotten to pack her toothbrush and I had no extras, so she decided to skip the whole routine and just get dressed so breakfast would happen sooner.  After breakfast, her Daddy noticed we were up and came to get her.

And I went back to bed for two hours.

Later, Daughter says she asked Nugget if she liked staying at Gramma's.   Nugget said no.  Then she threw her arms up in the air and said, "I don't like it, I LOVE IT!"


Monday, October 27, 2014

3991 Freakout continued

Monday, October 27, 2014

"Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time."
- -Steven Wright--


Well, it's been a little over a week since that Friday I received the letter from the IRS insisting that I owed over $61K in taxes for 2012.

The letter had a lot of detail as to how they arrived at that figure, and over the weekend I dug out the tax filings and forms from 2011 and 2012 and compared my figures to the IRS's figures.  It looks like the IRS never received my 1040 etc filing.  For example, I had a refund from 2011, $2K of which I "rolled over" toward the 2012 taxes, and one of my income sources does withhold taxes.  The IRS says that only that amount withheld was paid, they don't show the $2K rollover.  They also show none of my deductions.  AND, the major error is that they show all the stock, bond, and fund trades that Piper had done on my behalf as pure profit - there was no cost basis deducted for those trades.

Yup.  Looks like they never received my 1040 filing for 2012.

The next Monday I overnighted (a "verbed" word if I ever saw one) copies of the IRS letter to Piper the money guy, and Angel the CPA.  They went to work on it.  I don't much care how it gets handled, just so it does get handled.

Angel called me last Friday and said we would re-file the 2012 taxes, and he'd be overnighting me the completed 1040s etc, which I should sign and send to the IRS. He didn't mention the New Jersey taxes.

I found his use of the word "re-file" very interesting.  I strongly suspect that he never filed the originals.  Every year I gather all the info, make copies of the 1099s and real estate tax receipts and so on, and send him the packet.  He does my taxes, then sends it all to me, I review it and either make corrections or approve it as is, and then he e-files it for me.  If there's any tax due, I mail the check separately, but usually there's a small refund which we "wrap" toward the next year.  I'll bet you a gazillion dollars he forgot to e-file my taxes.

I didn't challenge him on it.

He startled me a little when he said that not only do I not owe any money, I'm going to get a refund of a few hundred dollars.

Well, it's Monday afternoon, about 2:30 pm, and the forms that were going to be overnighted Friday have not yet arrived.  I'm very anxious to see them.

You know, I'm afraid this might not be over yet....

Sunday, October 19, 2014

3990 Chocolate Ebola

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk
for people who can't read."
--Frank Zappa--


I saw an interesting video on the problems with the protective wear health care workers are using around ebola patients, possible ways to contaminate oneself.  The gear itself does a pretty good job of protecting.  The danger comes in taking it off.

A guy who is pretty familiar with the protocols demonstrated by having chocolate sauce poured on his gloves and then he smeared a little from his gloves onto the front of the suit.  (Note that most local hospitals do not have the facilities to rinse off before removing the gear.  The workers have to remove it "dirty".)

He then removed the gear, very slowly, demonstrating and explaining each step.  It all looked good.
When he was finished and examined, he had a small smear of chocolate on the inside of one forearm, and another on the side of his neck.

3989 Recommended Reading

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner."
 --Tallulah Bankhead--


More things I don't understand:  

I am hearing/reading more and often that two things are "one in the same".  What? "In?"  Huh?

And I have never understood why "up the creek without a paddle" is such a bad situation.  Seems like if you're up the creek, you can just float down with the current, no?  It would be worse if you were down the creek with no paddle, and no way to get up.


I read an article recently (no, I don't have the link right now) on functional MRIs done on conservative and liberal brains.  They showed people various disturbing pictures while they were in the MRI, and then looked to see what sections of the brain lit up.  The conclusion reached by the researchers is that the conservative brain operates more often on emotion, and in particular on fear, whereas the liberal brain shown the same situation went into problem solving mode.

This kind of research has been all over the place from many different sources for the past decade, at least, but I hadn't come across it before.  I found it fascinating.  It explains a lot of conservative political advertising - they seem to concentrate on arousing people by appealing to their fears.  I had noticed that, but hadn't made the connection.  It explains why conservatives and liberals can talk themselves blue to the other camp, and never make any headway in changing any minds.  It explains why so many people in lower economic groups will passionately defend conservative policies that are obviously inimical to their own advancement and welfare.

The article I read said that there was probably an evolutionary purpose to this divide - that a tribe or community needed BOTH kinds of processing to survive.  The conservatives kept the group safe in the face of a hostile world, and the liberals kept the group advancing socially and technologically.

Well, I just took a few minutes and searched for the article.  I didn't find the particular one I'd read, but if you search for "conservative liberal brain" you'll find a bunch (the top one is likely to be a synopsis of a 2014 paper from the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences, in which they had used eye tracking instead of MRIs) and if you add "mri" to those arguments you'll find additional recent and highly regarded studies.  

I had however noticed a long time ago that the easiest way to control people is through fear.  Scare the Hell out of them (or in the case of religion, into them), convince them that only you can save them from this horrible danger, and you've got them by the proverbial short hairs.   


In books, I read about equal amounts of fiction and non-fiction. I recently finished Karen Elliott House's book On Saudi Arabia; Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines, and Future (2012, 108 pages, Knopf).

I had been sort of wondering why Saudi Arabia hadn't been taking a more active role in the political and religious problems in the Middle East.  Like, they have a bazillion dollars and enormous Islamic credibility, so why aren't they doing something about ISIS (or whatever it's being called this week), and the situations in central Africa, like the Boko Haram kidnappings, and pushing for serious Palestine talks, and so on.  Does their inaction mean they approve of what's going on?

This book answers those questions and more.   Pretty much everything you ever wanted to know, plus.

I get very impatient with nonfiction books that could have been a pamphlet, but have been expanded into a book by repeating the same things over and over.  And over.   I also get impatient with nonfiction writers who seem to think that if they make every sentence as convoluted as possible, they sound more erudite.  This book has neither fault.  I was interested the whole way through, and Ms. House writes as if she's having a conversation with her reader.  I like that.

I very highly recommend this book.

Oh, yeah, the reason the Saudi royal family is so insular?  It's because of the tightrope.  Read the book.

Friday, October 17, 2014

3988 Freakout

Friday, October 17, 2014

What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.
 --Ralph Waldo Emerson--


Our mail arrives usually after 5:30-ish, too late to conduct any business based on it.

One innocent-looking envelope today was from the IRS.

They claim I owe $61,569 additional on my 2012 income tax, $9,786 of which is a "tax understatement penalty". They want the money by November 13, 2014.


Tomorrow I'm going to copy the multi-page letter, and send copies to my investment guy Piper, and my CPA Angelo.

Something is VERY wrong.

I think my total 2012 income was around $72,000, including social security, retirement, capital gains, interest, and dividends, most of which is reinvested and I don't actually "see" it.

I fully expect Piper and Angelo to FIX THIS!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

3987 Coincidence

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Older computer games couldn't be won. They just got harder and faster until you died.
Just like real life.


Funniest thing - in 1999 Frederick Aldrich published a book, a thriller titled Absolute Zero, available on Amazon, at
It seems to be available now only in the Kindle edition.

Quoting the book description:
Ebola. The very sound conjures up hideous images, images that cannot begin to convey the horrors of the disease itself.

An African man carrying the virus has arrived unhindered in Dallas. Experts assure the public there is no cause for fear. But is there really nothing to fear?"
How 'bout that?

It's a thriller, about a terror attack.

Repeat - Africa, Dallas, Ebola, written in 1999.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

3986 Don't believe the ebola hype

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"The world is run by 'C' students."
--Al McGuire--


Shep Smith just pretty much called his network fearmongers.  Let's see now if he keeps his job.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

3985 Experiences with pet sitting and boarding

Sunday, October 12, 2014

"Traditions are group efforts to keep the unexpected from happening."
 --Barbara Tober--


Since about 9th grade, and excepting college, I've had dogs and/or cats.

Cats are easy to leave.  They can easily be left for two overnights if they will eat dry food, longer if they are youngish and healthy and mellow.  They just sleep all day while I'm gone.  They need a visiting nanny or boarding only if they aren't healthy, or if it's for more than a weekend or so.

Dogs can't be left for more than a few hours unless they are smart enough to use the cat's litter box.  They can't be trusted with more than one meal's worth of food, because they'll just eat it all in one gulp, or destroy the timed feeder if you try to use it, and then throw the excess up on your bed.  And they get bored, and then destructive.  So visiting nannies won't be enough.  Dogs need boarding.

I have a history of pet sitting and boarding horror stories.

I asked a friend, Barbara, to feed my cat Smokey while I was away for five days, when I lived in Gettysburg.  Smokey ate only canned food, so she needed a visit once a day.  Now, Smokey sometimes wouldn't eat for the first day that I was away, and I told Barbara that.  That's normal with some cats.  When I returned, I found a food dish full of rotted food, crawling with maggots, and a very desperate cat who wouldn't let me out of her sight for days after.

I asked Barbara what had happened.  She said she'd fed Smokey the first day, and when she went back the second day the food hadn't been touched, so she figured rather than throw it out she'd leave it, and "When the cat got hungry enough, she'd eat it."  She didn't even go in after that because she could see the dish through the window and apparently Smokey hadn't been hungry.  Of course, I was furious.

(This, by the way, is the same woman who later chased me with a knife, seriously trying to kill me, because she KNEW I had been messing with her husband.  Actually, it was another woman with my same first name, and when she asked her husband if it was me, he said yes because he didn't want her to know it was actually his ex-wife, whom Barbara hated.  The idiot guy thought that since she and I were friends, it would be ok.  Gettysburg had some seriously wacked-out people.)

So the next time I went away, I asked Jeanie to feed Smokey.  The very first day Jeanie visited, when she opened the door, Smokey burst out and ran off.  Jeanie searched and called and couldn't find her.  Smokey was gone.  Jeanie actually moved into my house so she'd be there if Smokey returned.  She called and searched for the next several days, and left food outside the door, and it was eaten, but she didn't know by whom.  Even though she was watching, she never saw Smokey.  When I returned, I drove into the parking area, and Smokey greeted me when I opened the car door.  Apparently, she had been out searching for me for days.  Jeanie was so relieved, and I appreciated Jeanie's efforts.

After that, I boarded my cat(s).  I found some really good places over the years, like that woman who had what looked like little motel rooms, with climbing shelves and cubby holes, and a window at floor level with bird feeders outside, and in a pinch I boarded at the vet's.  The cat would spend the night in a cage at the vet, but during the day she had the run of the office.  Smokey liked that.

Later a friend clued me in - if you're using an amateur pet-sitter, get like three and rotate their days. That way if one of them screws up, or even two, it's not a disaster.

Dogs were harder.  I found so many kennels that looked good at first, but I always sensed something wrong when I'd pick the dog(s) up.  Something "off".

One time I returned a day earlier than scheduled, and decided to pick up the two dogs then, straight from the airport (pre-cell phone days, so no call ahead).  I arrived at the kennel and asked for my dogs.  The kid at the desk hemmed and hawed, and said I couldn't get them until tomorrow.  I insisted, saying that of course I was willing to pay for the extra day, no problem, please get my dogs now.  He said he couldn't, and when I asked why, he said they needed grooming.  I said no problem, I don't need them groomed, please go get them now.  I finally had to get angry and point out that they were MY dogs, and you CAN'T keep them! I want them RIGHT NOW, or I'm calling the cops!

Well, I got them.  Their dog beds were wet, stinking of urine, and coated with wet and dried feces.  So were the dogs.  Poop was caked on their hips and sides.  It was obvious they'd been walking and lying in poop.  It was awful!  This explained why when I'd left them there on two previous occasions, they smelled of shampoo when I picked them up, and their beds had been freshly washed and dried.

That was the last time they stayed there.

The dogs were in an inside "room" with a door to an outside pen, which was supposed to be open all day, but apparently they didn't get outside very often.  I know this because Puppy (yes, that was her name - long story) was a fastidious Australian Kelpie, and never eliminated on anything but grass or dirt.  She wouldn't even go on concrete or asphalt.  So for her to have gone inside the concrete-floored room, she must have been desperate. 

One thing I have learned:  If you go to check out a kennel, and the owners will not allow you to actually see the areas where the animals are kept ("Oh, no, strangers walking through will upset the dogs.  We don't allow anyone back there except the workers."), then run fast away.  A good kennel with nothing to hide will escort you through, or at least allow a look (and sniff) through a door.   When the dogs see you accompanied by a familiar face, they are curious, they might bark, but they're not "upset".

----Just thinking about that stuff today.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

3984 Head Banging

Thursday, October 9, 2014

"I have no problem with God. It's his fan club I can't stand."


The World Health Organization (funded by members nations of the UN) has issued a bulletin saying that ebola can in fact be spread by aerosolized droplets produced from coughing or sneezing, if you inhale or touch those droplets.  It can also be spread by touching contaminated surfaces, and those surfaces can be contaminated by sneezes.  So people who visit the home of a patient after the patient has left the home, can acquire the infection from surfaces (sneezed or coughed on - and you'd be surprised how far a sneeze travels) in the home.

[NOTE - spread by aerosolized droplets does not fit the medical definition of "airborne".  Airborne spread involves dried stuff floating around in the air.  Technical difference.  Flu is airborne, ebola is not (so far).]

That's how that latest patient in Texas got it (I haven't heard the results of his test yet)(Update - he tested negative.).  He went into the other guy's home with the cleaners without protective gear.  It's interesting that he bragged that he didn't need the gear.  Oh dear.

So asking if folks have been in contact with an infected person is not a good question.  You have to ask if they had touched anything a symptomatic person had touched - or sneezed or coughed on, or near, or in the same room as, or in the next room, at any time in the past.  And how can you know that?  What do you know about the last dollar bill you handled?

Something that really bothers me is that in the involved areas of Africa, space in the treatment clinics is severely limited.  They just don't have the beds, space, or workers to handle the load.  So people show up at the door with symptoms, and they are turned away!.  The treatment centers and quarantine centers can't take anyone in until someone else dies.

Where do those people go?  Back home.  Back to their neighborhoods.

How the hell can you slow down, let alone stop, an epidemic with a response like that?  Nope, no room at the inn.  Go spread it some more.

This whole thing is a mess.

I made an online contribution this evening to Doctors Without Borders for $1,000.   I don't know how much they are involved in the ebola thing - mostly World Health Org. is mentioned, but I don't think WHO takes contributions - but I guess it couldn't hurt.


Another thing - I had mostly read that victims were being cremated.  Now I find out from several sources that they are being buried.

Hey, this is a virus!  Are we infecting the ground water?  If you want to know how nasty stuff does in the ground, ask any farmer about anthrax.  Anthrax is a bacteria.  Viruses encapsulate, which gives them an advantage over bacteria.


Workers for a company that cleans airliners went on strike earlier today at LaGuardia.  I don't blame them.

Monday, October 06, 2014

3983 Dread, confusion

Monday, October 6, 2014

I have long been of the opinion that if work were such a splendid thing
the rich would have kept more of it for themselves.
 --Bruce Grocott


Lately I've been coming across photos, pictures, videos with snow in them, and every time I see them I literally feel sick to my stomach.  Nausea.

I've never before had such a strong reaction to the coming of winter.

I hate cold.  I hate snow.  I've always hated cold and snow.  I especially hate snow when it's falling, or blowing.  The only good snow is melting snow.

I guess I have a bad feeling about this winter.


I've already said I don't understand how the moon moves in relation to the Earth and sun.  (Why do we capitalize "Earth", but not moon or sun?) This Wednesday morning at 6:25 am we are supposed to be able to see a full lunar eclipse (although I have little hope of seeing anything here - the sky is always either cloudy or full of pollution, can't ever see more than a few stars at night even on the clearest and darkest of nights).

Anyway, that got me wondering where the sun would be in relation to the moon and Earth at that time.  So I looked up sunrise and sunset times.  Sunrise here today was 06:59:00 and sunset was 18:30:08.  Tomorrow it's at 07:00:02 and 18:28:32.  On Tuesday into Wednesday the moon will be full full, and I assume sunrise will be at something like 07:01:04..  

So 35 minutes before Wednesday sunrise here, the moon will be in full sunshine.  Then as the Earth and my house turn toward sunrise, the moon will move toward the west and into the Earth's shadow, that's the eclipse, and then the moon sets here as the sun is "coming up", and the moon will remain in the Earth's shadow for about half of its next circuit.

I guess.

But, but, but, 

the moon "sets" at some point every night/morning/day, so howcome it isn't in the Earth's shadow more often?  Like almost once per circuit (per month-ish)?  Somewhere on the globe, anyway.

I don't understand.

I think my problem is that I don't understand the moon's path.  And I suspect it isn't a regular path, like man-made satellites are designed to follow, same path, over the same points on the Earth every circuit.   I suspect it "progresses".

But, but, but

does that imply that there are places on the Earth that don't see the moon AT ALL during some period of that progression?  Or is it large enough and far enough away that it is always visible to the entire half of the world it's "on the side of" at all times?  I suspect that's true.  Daytime moons aren't unusual.

But, but, but

when I look at the moon from my porch, it seems to "rise" from about the same spot every time.  Which, uh, doesn't support a path progression.

I give up.  Again.



The moon stuff gets weird.  It's no damn wonder I'm confused.  Want to blow your mind?  Read this: Wednesday's Lunar Eclipse Is Technically Impossible

To quote a line from the article, "And indeed, during a lunar eclipse, the sun and moon are exactly 180 degrees apart in the sky."  

Duh?  That's what I thought, and one reason (of several) why I couldn't figure it out.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

3982 Bits

Saturday, October 4, 2014

"To be willing to die for an idea is to set a rather high price on conjecture."
 --Anatole France


A travel hint:
Many times I've found that there are plenty of nice inexpensive places for lunch near the hotel, like even a cafe in the hotel, but in the evening, dinner time, they're all closed, and the only places to eat are horribly expensive and seem to expect you to "dress" for dinner.  

I call BS. 

I try to get a refrigerator in my room.  (A microwave is a nice bonus.)  If I have to, I lie and tell the desk I have medications that have to be refrigerated.  A little unmarked travel bottle of water in the fridge will play the part if necessary.  Then I have a nice lunchtime "dinner" at a lunch place, and I doggy bag a dinner from there and eat my nice cheap evening meal in my room or on the balcony.


A question:
If I have a pulley set up to lift some weight, you know, a single pulley on the top and one on the bottom as in #2 below, I can cut the apparent weight in half.  Like if there's 100 lbs, and I pull the rope, it's as if I am lifting only 50 lbs because the rope I'm pulling moves twice as far as the weight.

Here's the question:  I figure the rafter that I have the top pulley attached to has to support 100 lbs, the weight on the end of the pulleys.  A friend says no, the rafter has to support 150 lbs - the weight on the bottom PLUS the 50 lbs of pull I'm putting on the rope.

Anyone know for sure?

The way I figure it, if I am using the pulley as in figure 1, the rafter just has to support 100 lbs, not 200.  But then the next minute I can convince myself the other way.  I don't even know where to look to get the answer.


Newest grammar complaint:
The word for unbroken is "intact", not "in tact".  I'm seeing even pros use "in tact" and it's driving me batty.

Also maddening, the new "go to" word seems to be "massive".  It seems that anything that is larger, longer, or bigger than normal is "massive".

In my opinion, "massive" is used only to refer to great mass.  An Egyptian pyramid is massive.  When we're taking about a "massive heart attack", even then we mean that the attack involved the mass of the heart.  I'll even accept a "massive head cold" (under small protest) because it feels like a rock in your head.  But there's no way I can accept some of the ways I've seen it used lately:
- a massive house cleaning job
- a long flight route, as in "The Airbus A380 super-jumbo will fly six times a week on the massive 13,800 km journey between Sydney, Australia and Dallas / Fort Worth, U.S."
- a massive TED speech 
- his massive snoring kept me awake
- a massive groan from the audience

Grinding my teeth....


I rarely have nightmares.  So rarely I can't remember the last.  The closest thing to a nightmare I can think of usually involves a building with many corridors and many closed doors, and I feel panic because I can't figure out where whatever it is I'm looking for is.  I keep opening doors, but that's not the right room, and there are so many doors and so little time.  (In the special way of dreams, space is distorted.  The doors are right next to each other, cheek by jowl, but when I'd open a door the room was a normal size, and that was frustrating, too.)  These dreams aren't scary, though.  Just frustrating.

Maybe I have scary nightmares, but I don't awaken, so I don't remember them.

When I was in college living in the dorm, I always had my own room, no roommate, because (they say) I screamed words and cried in my sleep all the time, and it disturbed anyone else in the room.  Not just because I was loud, but because my obvious distress worried them.  But I don't remember any nightmares.

Ex#1 did say I sometimes cried or shouted in my sleep.  He'd wake me and it would stop, but again, even after being awakened, I don't remember any dream.

That was a very long time ago, and no one else has complained about it since then, so I don't know. 

I have been dreaming more lately, but the ones I'm working on as I wake in the morning are mostly pleasant,  usually involving some people, mostly older women, who are being hospitable, pleasant, we're working on something together, that kind of thing.   I read as I'm falling asleep at night, fall asleep with my nose in a book, the light is on a timer, and I think what I'd been reading influences my dreams.

3981 Shall we become hermits?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

"The ability we value most is plausible deniability."


Airports are checking passengers for fevers before they can board a flight.   Great.  I guess this can help to assure that no one on the flight is exposed to someone with ebola in the contagious stage.  But it does nothing to prevent someone with ebola in the not-yet contagious stage from traveling anywhere they want.  So it does nothing to stop ebola from spreading around the world.

I don't understand.  It doesn't make any sense.

And then there was the guy who thew up on a plane arriving at Newark from Brussels.  He was taken off the plane by people in full protective gear, the other passengers were held on the plane for a while, and then given handouts of what to do if they start showing ebola symptoms and they were let go, BEFORE the sick guy tested negative for ebola.  [

I don't understand.  It doesn't make any sense.

Some folks are saying that anyone coming from a country with ebola cases should be quarantined for three weeks after arrival somewhere else.  Well, we, the US, have at least one and possibly more ebola cases here.  So should Americans be quarantined for three weeks if they travel?  Should Arizona close their borders to Texans?

This is scary.  There's an attitude like "No big deal.  Even if a few cases show up, we can simply isolate those people and stop it in its tracks."  Duh.  The big problem in west Africa is that people are uneducated, not trusting the government and medical folks, and hiding sick relatives away.

Lack of education, distrust of government, distrust of doctors ("death panels", anyone?), distrust of "the system" --- yeah, sure, we don't have any of that here....


The other thing that bothers me is that in the cases of Americans and other westerners who have been diagnosed, nobody ever talks about HOW they got it.  Ok, the doctors and nurses, I can see that they had a higher chance of exposure, but they know how to protect themselves.  They know what to do and what not to do.  They are completely suited up and have decontamination procedures and know the punishment for screwing up.  So what went wrong?  And the reporters and that cameraman, how?

Why aren't they looking into that?  Maybe it's not as easy to avoid as they want us to believe?

Friday, September 26, 2014

3980 Sniffle update 2

Friday, September 26, 2014

Along about Wednesday, I was pretty much over everything, except that as usual my sinuses are still complaining.  A LOT of thick phlegm coming down from the sinuses, down to sit on top of the soft palate, and choke me.  I'm snorking and glurking to get it down and out, and if and when it escapes and goes on down the back of my throat and hits the epiglottis, I cough.  And choke some more.

But I don't think there's any active infection any more.

I've learned by experience that when it's just the sinuses, I can't use a decongestant.  If the sinuses get too dry before they've finished complaining, I'm inviting a bacterial infection.  So I just have to wait until they calm down on their own.  This is all a result of a massive sinus infection in the early '80s, that scarred stuff up in there so they don't drain right.  Hot drinks can help, but not much else.  A neti pot would make things worse, since I don't drain right.

I finally caught up with Daughter on Tuesday (they had been out almost every day since the Friday before), and she said they'd all been sick all weekend.  (Not as sick as I had been, I guess, because it didn't seem to have slowed them down any.  No, I don't know where they went or what they'd been doing - I'm not allowed to ask.)

I cracked Hercules up by mentioning that on Sunday I was sneezing so hard I gave up on underpants.

Monday, September 22, 2014

3979 Sniffle Update

Monday, September 22, 2014

Time sneaks up on you like a windshield on a bug.


Friday was hot soft palate.
Saturday was stuffy nose.
Sunday the nose was a gusher with tremendous sneezes.
Today nose is dry, a little bit of burning in the back of the throat.  Some sneezing and a few coughs.

I'm not sure how to tell when or if it goes into my chest.  If it doesn't I'll be fine.  If it does I could be in trouble.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

3978 I don't get it

Sunday, September 21, 2014

GUILT is about what you have done or not done. You did something wrong.
SHAME is about you as a person. You are something wrong.


I am reading Harriette Simpson Arnow's Hunter's Horn.  It's about a hardscrabble mountain farm family in the early 1940s Kentucky.  There's lots of small things I don't understand, but one is driving me crazy.  The family is going into their second winter without meat.  This winter, at least, they do have plenty of corn, beans, and so on after having nearly starved the winter before, but due to various problems they will likely still have no meat until the next autumn.  The mother and horde of children miss it terribly.

They define meat as pork, mutton, beef, and chicken.  And that's pretty much it.

What's driving me nuts is why do they never think about rabbit, possum, or squirrel?  Plenty of them around, and they can trap them, they don't need to use up bullets.  What about fish?  And if they can afford a few bullets, how about deer?

They train hounds to chase fox, and sneer at dogs who go after rabbits.  I dunno - if I were starving for meat I'd pure-D appreciate a dog who brought home a rabbit every few days.

When I was in high school in the mountains, many of my classmates ran trap lines every morning before school, and I have eaten rabbit, squirrel, possum, and raccoon (raccoon was not very good) when I visited classmates' homes.

I don't get it.  Every time some character in the book complains about no meat, I want to yell at them.

3977 The good, the bad, and the sniffles.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Silence is golden, unless you have a puppy. Then silence is suspicious. Very, very suspicious.


Two visits to the BMW dealership last week.  It should be fixed now.  It was the same code as last time, so they charged nothing to fix it.  They gave me a 300-series loaner while they reprogrammed the computer and tested it.  The300 ride is very smooth, amazing, but I still prefer my little sportster.  I like to feel the road and hear the motor.  It feels safer.

On Thursday, Daughter said there's some kind of virus going around, starts out like a head cold, and can go into pneumonia.  She wanted me to be sure to tell her if I got sick so she could "doctor me".  I guess she's worried that I might do like right after Sandy, when I got sicker and sicker and didn't say anything until I was on the verge of death (according to the ER doctor).

Friday my soft palate got hot.

Saturday my nose stuffed up.

Today it's not stuffed, it's running like mad.  I took a nasal decongestant, but it doesn't seem to have done anything.  I'm sneezing hard, a lot.  I don't seem to have a fever - but I'm not positive because all my digital thermometers are weirded out.  They are starting to lie.  I really really prefer the old mercury column (or alcohol) stick thermometers, those things stay accurate forever, but they're next to impossible to find any more.  Anyway, I rarely run a fever anyway, no matter what's going on.

Of course, I haven't seen Daughter since Thursday.  She's always out.  And I'm not going to call her for just sniffles.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

3976 The past isn't there any more

Sunday, September 14, 2014

It takes a long time to gain trust, five seconds to lose it.


For some reason this past summer I thought a lot about Gettyburg, Pa.  I had a strong urge to visit.  Nope, not as a tourist.  From summer of 1965 to summer 1967, a mere two years, I lived there.  I taught high school math.

Even though it was only two years, a lot happened.  They were the densest two years of my life, and they had a powerful influence on the next twenty or so years.  More happened in a month there than happened in whole years of the rest of my life.  Maybe it was my age.  Maybe it was the sudden freedom, being on my own.  I don't know.

I originally wanted to stay at a particular B&B in the middle of town.  [See  Check out the beautiful rooms!]  I selected a suite with a Jacuzzi and private entrance, and in July I made a reservation for the nights of September 9 and 10.  I figured that the tourist season would be winding down, so traffic would be less, especially on weekdays, but it would still be warm.

And then, on impulse, I mentioned to Daughter that I planned to go, and asked if she and the Nugget would like to join me.  I was thinking simply nice little vacation.  Daughter jumped to the utterly baseless conclusion that I was facing an emotional upheaval and was begging for her support, so she had to go.  Of course she didn't check that with me.  That's one of the things we fight about --- that she makes assumptions and then operates on them without checking with the other person, ALL THE FREAKIN' TIME!, and then she holds those assumptions against you.

I attempted to get Daughter and Nugget a room in the same B&B and discovered that they don't allow children under 10-years-old (or so, I forget), so I cancelled that reservation and booked two adjoining rooms at a Marriott outside town.  I was disappointed that the particular Marriott didn't have an in-room Jacuzzi and mentioned that to Daughter, so she did her own research and found another hotel that had something they called "family suites", that did have Jacuzzis.  Now from the photos on their website, the suite looked like two completely separate rooms with a shared bathroom between them.  So I called them, verified the Jacuzzi, made the reservation for a family suite WITH Jacuzzi (it was an unbelievable $160/night), and then cancelled the Marriott.


It was a 3.5 hour drive, which meant that Nugget would require a run-around break at some point.  Also, Daughter and I could not spend that much time in quarters that close without one of us (her!) having a meltdown bigger than the Nugget could throw, so we took separate cars.  Besides, that would allow us to do different explorations once there.

She left an hour before me, but we arrived within minutes of each other. 

I was very annoyed to find that the suite looked nothing like the photos implied.  It was a room with two queens with the bathroom by the entrance door, like any other cookie-cutter room, and then another room with a king bed opening off to the side of the queen room.  Yes, it had a door that could be closed, but one would have to go through the queen room to get to the bathroom.  Yuck.  AND, there was NO Jacuzzi.  I called the desk and asked if we could move to a family suite with a Jacuzzi, and was told no, there were no other rooms available.  I pointed out that I had specifically asked for the Jacuzzi, had moved from the Marriott on the assurance that I'd have one, and I was very unhappy.  They compensated me by reducing the room rate to $100/night.  Daughter was hyperventilating.  That was a warning I missed.

A few minutes later, as we passed the desk on the way out to find dinner, Daughter stopped at the desk and .... I don't know how to describe it ... she had an emotional  breakdown and said she couldn't stay in that room because there was no place she could be alone, there was no retreat, could she have another room for herself.  I was very embarrassed, and nodded to the clerk and told her to put it on my tab.  They gave Daughter another room, FREE.

After Daughter walked away, I told the clerk that this is NOT your problem to fix, it's our problem, my Daughter is nuts, so please put her room on my credit card, but they said no, it's ok.   I just wish Daughter had said something to me earlier.  We could have moved entirely to two adjoining rooms.  (I especially felt bad the next day, when I overheard one of their regular customers being turned away, because they were full, no rooms available.)  So I ended up with the family suite all by myself.  

[Embarrassed much?  Look like one of those city folks who walk in and start demanding all kinds of free stuff?]

That pretty much set the tone.  I should have gone alone.


The town has changed a lot.  It's surrounded by battlefield where nothing can be built, so the town has expanded by getting a lot more dense.  There was very little that I recognized.  Fifty years ago it was a sleepy little rural town that sort of woke up a little every summer when the tourists came, but there was little in the town itself that primarily catered to tourists.  Mostly, they just tolerated them.  In fact, there was just one chain hotel, a few small family-owned motels, and people who took in guests in the summer for some extra cash.  Now there are huge hotels all over the place.  Shops that primarily catered to the needs of townfolk and farmers now seem to be geared toward tourists, all antiques or artsy-fartsy.  

Actually, the middle of town is beautiful.  And then I remembered that last year was the 150th anniversary of the battle, so I'll bet all the sandblasting, restored and refurbished storefronts, fancy lampposts, and the huge planters everywhere were federally funded.

I found my old apartment building, the diner where I ate dinner almost every evening with six to eight students crammed into my booth with me, the location of the trailer I moved into after the fire at the apartment (that location, which used to be on the alley behind an apartment building, is now an extension of the hospital), and some other things.  But mostly I recognized very little.  

The past mostly isn't there any more, it's been papered over.


Before anyone yells at me about the filth of hotel Jacuzzis, I have a way to handle that.   I pack a small bottle of Clorox.  Fill the tub up to the intakes, pour in half the bleach, run it for a few seconds, and then let it sit for about 15-20 minutes, run it again for a few seconds, then drain it.  If there was anything floating after after the second running (which I have seen only once in 30 Jacuzzis, The Man loves a Jacuzzi), just do the process again.  It is now safe.  Go out for dinner and by the time you return the bleach odor is gone.


Another odd thing happened.  I had a memory of a section of road heading out of New Jersey into an unknown state, where the road crosses a bridge over a steep-sided river gorge, into a wonderland of small heavily wooded mountains piled one on another.  Beautiful.  It's been driving me crazy for the past few years because I didn't know where it was, couldn't remember where I might have been driving from or to, or even when.  I just wanted to find that piece of road again.

It got to be an obsession.  Several times over the past year I went to Google maps street view and followed almost every major road out of New Jersey in every direction, especially those that crossed a river near the state line.  No luck.

Going to Gettysburg, I let the GPS guide me.  And there it was!  It's Interstate 78 west, over the Delaware River.  I still have no idea when I might have taken that route in the past.  Maybe I dreamed of it. 

Returning, the GPS took me a different route, via the Pa turnpike, and the NJ turnpike.

Odd.  Like I was meant to find it.  Odder still, my memory was of heading west over the gorge. Had I returned by that route heading east, I might not have recognized it.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

3975 Old Feminists Never Forget, and Never Forgive

Saturday, September 6, 2014

It's next to impossible for a woman to convince men in the workplace that they treat female coworkers differently from their male colleagues.  They vehemently deny it.  Given examples, they always have reasons.  She doesn't have the experience.  She's not as technically astute.  She doesn't see the big picture.  She doesn't have the necessary leadership qualities.  Blah blah blah.

Men don't listen to women the same way they listen to men.  If a man objects to some statement, they will listen and consider what's said.  If a woman makes the same objection, they immediately assume that she just doesn't understand.

Men rarely interrupt a man speaking in a meeting.  Women are regularly interrupted, and no one notices or objects.  If she objects and finishes her thought, no one listens and she's described as loud and pushy.

Stuff like that.

Personally, I got tired of men talking to my chest.

Well, finally we have observations from people who have been on both sides.  Transsexuals!  They know exactly what it's like to be a man or woman in the workplace, and then to experience the treatment as the other sex.  And they are the same person with the same skills in both roles.  They pretty much say exactly what women have been saying for eons.

They say that as a woman, no matter which way their change went, they got/get no respect.

The New Republic article is at   I urge you to read it, and pass it around, especially to MEN!

(And then wait and see - those men will opine that it's the addition or subtraction of testosterone.  Apparently, testosterone makes one logical.)


I am reminded of a conversation I had with an IBM manager once.  He asked if  I wanted to go into management.  I said "No, I'd rather stay technical."

 He asked what my goals would be (he was thinking stuff like fellowship and so on).  I replied, "I want to be listened to in meetings.  I want that when I say something, people stop and listen and actually think about what I just said.  I want people to want to hear what I have to say."

 He said, "Oh, so you want to be seen as a technical expert?"

I blinked twice and said, "I! AM! a! technical! expert!!  I want them to stop staring at my breasts and listen when I speak.  Apparently they ARE subliminally hearing me, because after my observation is ignored, passed off as trivial, not even worth discussion, the next week some other guy says EXACTLY the same thing I said, using the EXACT same words, and everyone thinks he's a genius.  Nobody remembers my having said exactly the same thing with exactly the same arguments the week before.  I'm getting tired of that.  I don't know how to get past it."

He didn't know what to say to that.  Especially since he had been in some of the same meetings, and had seen it happen.

3974 Perspective

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Ebola is the big health news right now.  But it's not the biggest killer.  Malaria killed 627,000 people in 2012 alone (World Health Organization,, and that's after intense efforts to control it, it's supposedly down by 45%, and the fact that malaria is treatable.  But still, 627,000 people died of malaria in one year.  I find that number shocking.  Ebola has killed less than 1/600th the number in the 6 months of this outbreak.

So, I'm not sure why ebola gets all the press.  Maybe because ebola can travel to the US easier than malaria?  So that scares us more?

But ebola is a lot easier to avoid than malaria:
1. Don't eat bats or monkeys
2. Don't touch body fluids from strangers.
3. Don't touch body fluids from family members who have done 1. or 2.

You want to be scared for a more logical reason?  How easy would it be to dump some ebola virus into your local reservoir?

Friday, September 05, 2014

3973 Highly annoyed

Friday, September 5, 2014

NOTE to everyone who has a blog I occasionally comment on, AND uses a Yahoo email id for comment notifications:  For some unknown reason when I comment on your blog I am getting "undelivered" messages from Yahoo, saying that the notification was not delivered.  As far as I can tell, Blogger sends you an email about the comment and changes the path to indicate that it came from me (or something like that) and Yahoo has decided not to honor "third party" emails.

This is complicated by the fact that I often comment on old posts, like a few days old, when maybe you no longer have any reason to revisit the post --- so you are unaware I have commented.  Sorry.  I'm really not ignoring people.  I can't do much about it except complain to Yahoo, and I'm not sure how to do that exactly. 

Oh well.


Toward the end of July, Hal started throwing codes.  You know, the check engine light stuff.  Randomly. 

I took him to the dealership, and two weeks, a new sensor, and $450 later, he behaved again.

Exactly three weeks after that fix, last Friday, he started doing weird stuff again.  I had pulled into a WaWa, set the brake, turned him off, pulled the key, unfastened the seat belt, opened the door, and the siren went off.  For no reason whatsoever. 

When I came out of the WaWa and started him, he popped up the check engine light.  This is 6 pm on a Friday of a three-day holiday weekend.  Of course.  Can't do anything until Tuesday.

The Check engine light was yellow, not red, and the book says I can still drive, unless it turns red, then I have to stop immediately, so I drove (a little bit) during the weekend --- during which time the "service engine soon" light (which means that Hal thinks it's time for regular maintenance) came on as well as the check engine light.  By Tuesday the check engine light was off.  I called the dealership on Wednesday, and I have an appointment tomorrow.

I am completely and utterly pissed.  Especially since his warranty expired in early summer.  Funny how that happens.

Long time visitors to this blog may remember when Fred, the van, started doing much the same kinds of things, and one year, $9,000 in service, sensor replacements, and rental cars later, I gave up, bought Suzie the Suzuki, and Fred spent the next three years or so parked in the driveway, until an independent mechanic found a split in the rubber cover over the computer.  Fixing that fixed Fred.  It wasn't the sensors at all; it was the computer.  Everytime it was damp out, the computer threw random codes, made bad decisions, and stalled in the middle of intersections.

I HATE those sensor things.  Seems like they are supposed to warn you when things are wrong in the unit they're supposed to be sensing, but the fix IN EVERY CASE I have ever experienced is to simply replace the sensor.  There's something very stupid about that.

What makes all this worse is that I'm planning to go to Gettysburg next Tuesday.  This has  been in the works for two months.  And now I have an undependable car.  I am completely and utterly pissed.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

3972 A consideration

Saturday, August 30, 2014

I guess I need to be very careful here, very clear that I'm  not attacking or defending anyone in particular.  It's just that I had a thought, and in all I've read and heard I've not heard that thought expressed by anyone else, and that surprised me.

Re:  Ferguson, Missouri.  Michael Brown.

Very soon after the shooting, TV stations in the area and online news outlets were showing a video from a store surveillance camera, from that day, where a large man identified as Michael Brown (supposedly) stole about $50 in merchandise from a shop, and then definitely physically roughed up a much smaller man, presumably the shop owner or clerk, who was objecting to the (possible) shoplifting. 

Many people vociferously objected to the showing of the video, claiming it was an obvious attempt to demonize Brown, because the cop had no idea that Brown was wanted for the shoplifting, therefore it had nothing whatsoever to do with the shooting.

My immediate thought was, no, it had everything to do with the shooting.  Ok, the cop didn't know Brown was wanted, but Brown did!  He lifted $50 worth of cigars, was seen doing it, had an altercation with the shopkeeper, and mere minutes later is stopped by the police.  Bam!

Does anyone believe that sequence of events had NO influence on Michael Brown's attitude toward and dealings with the not-in-on-the-story cop who stopped him? 

3971 Thoughts

Saturday, August 30, 2014

You can live the entire rest of your life without breathing.  It's true.


A woman's skirt should never be shorter than it is wide.


Too many folks in this neighborhood have pit bulls, and too few know a damn thing about training.  Regardless, after thinking it over, I've decided that I just plain don't trust pit bulls, trained or not.  Never had to think about it before, but yeah, when it comes to pit bulls I do have a negative prejudice.  And I can explain it.

When any other breed of dog bites or attacks, he's saying that he is annoyed or afraid, and wants you to stop what you're doing or go away.  If you stop touching his painful hip, or if you indicate that you are conceding to his request to get off his property (or out of his life), or as soon as he's no longer afraid, he stops and backs off.  The dog wants to make a point, and once the point is made, he quits.

Not so with pit bulls.

Yeah, they can be wonderful loving family dogs, just like any other breed, and just like any other breed if he never feels a need to bite, he won't.  The difference is that when he does get riled up for whatever reason, he, unlike other dogs, is not trying to make a point after which he will stop, not going to administer a warning nip or a punishing bite --- no, when a pit bull starts, the only thought in his mind is KILL!  KILL!  KILL!  They don't stop until they do.

And that's why they scare me.  They have only two modes, on and off.


I finally bought a bluetooth keyboard for my tablet.  Yeah, there's the onscreen keyboard, but it's a pain to use.  I finally know now why so many people ignore capitalization and punctuation in online comments.  The cost and frustration of doing it right when you don't have a keyboard with all the trimmings just isn't worth doing it right.  Now I know why so many have the attitude "Who cares?"

3970 Spider crabs

Saturday, August 30, 2014

I've been sitting on this for a while.

It's spider crabs, a video from BBC Life - Creatures of the deep.  The crabs molt when they've grown too large for their shells, and since they are extremely vulnerable until the new shells harden, they gather and molt en masse. I mention that because some people who have viewed this video thought they were eating each other, and that at the end, it's dead bodies.  It's not.  It's discarded shells.

Anyway, I loved the music ("Comfy in Nautica") so much I bought the album: Person Pitch, from Panda Bear.  Don't try to watch this with the volume down.  It's just not the same.

  [ ]

Sunday, July 27, 2014

3969 Bits

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I drove upriver Friday evening and returned today.  The Hairless Hunk had said I'd lost four trees in a recent windstorm.  You know, when he said "lost", I was thinking like previous tree losses, when the trees broke someway up the trunk.  Most of the trees at the country house are black locust, and they tend to be brittle.  I was not expecting major uprooting!  The kind with the roots in the air and a huge hole in the lawn.  Sigh.  I wish I had taken my camera (no, my phone isn't that smart, or maybe it is but I'm not).

The Hunk has a watchmacallit, you know, with a front loader scoop on one end, and a steam shovel-looking thingy on the other.  That, a chain saw, and a few hundred dollars will take care of it I guess.

I'm getting tired of losing trees up there.  In 18 years we've lost more than 35 trees to wind.  I guess that's a disadvantage of living on a ridge with a wonderful view.  The hunk has been transplanting young maples and oaks he finds hither and yon, and most of them have been doing well, so there's that.

Heh heh, another topic, the Hunk likes to trim tree branches high enough that people can walk under them without meeting branches. (I had a husband that used to do that, too.  Him, I divorced.)  I noticed yesterday that he'd trimmed my huge old mulberry tree so high that I'll never be able to pick berries. 

The Hunk also trims tree branches near the house that drop too low, too close to the house roof.  I laughed at him one time for that, pointing out that the branches above the ones he cut would simply drop down as they grow, because now without competition from lower branches they can go lower to get more sun.  It's a no-win situation.  You either have to remove almost all the branches on that side of the tree, or remove the tree.  He looked confused.  "They drop down?"


I was listening to Sirius Classic radio on the drive up.  One show was The Great Gildersleeve.  Gildersleeve and a neighbor were shoveling coal into a basement when another neighbor came along and told Gildersleeve his face was dirty and he needed to wash it, adding, "I didn't know you could get that dirty on radio!"

I cracked up.


It's usually a 2.5 hour drive between the two houses, about 135 miles, plus any potty breaks.  I left at about 11:30 this morning, figuring I'd avoid most of the "returning to the city" traffic and be home about 2-ish.  I got home at a little after 4.  Multiple multi-mile sections of 0-20 mph, with no apparent explanation.  So I guess I have reaffirmed that Sunday travel at any time of day is no good.

I don't understand.


Coming home today, I got the "something horribly wrong" check engine light on Hal, the BMW.   Poor old Fred, the van, is having battery troubles.  And I'm supposed to meet the furnace man at the country house next Thursday, and I was going to call some A/C people for quotes Thursday and Friday.  Another sigh.  I hope BMW can take Hal tomorrow, I hope it's a quick fix, I hope I don't have to put 275 miles on a rental car.

Sometimes I hate the world.


You know something?  No matter how many pieces of track you have for a train set, unless all you want to make is a plain circle or oval, you won't have enough of the right shapes and sizes to do what you want.  There will always be one critical piece missing.

Must be some kind of natural law.

Thomas and Friends' wooden track pieces are even reversible, track on both sides so the curved pieces can go either way, and it still doesn't help.


I'll probably go to bed early tonight.