Tuesday, October 06, 2015

5018 Recycling Anger

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

I am very angry at (with?) the township.

Several weeks ago we got notice that all recyclables, collected twice a month, were to be put out in either closed lidded containers or in clear plastic bags.  I had been using an open container -- a hip-high kitchen trash can.  It was light enough for me to easily carry out, and big enough to hold everything.

Well, there's nothing with a good lid that would be convenient for me.  I'd almost need something I could wheel out, and all the wheeled thingies are too big, so I decided to go the clear plastic bag route.

I visited several stores before I concluded that there's no such thing (not in stores around here, anyway) as a clear kitchen-sized trash bag.  Not to mention that even if there had been a space on the shelves labelled for clear bags, everyone in the township was looking for them.  I finally bought some clear bags in a hardware store, but they're sized for yard waste, and are ridiculously huge.  Also ridiculously expensive.  But it was the last box, so I bought them and used them for one collection, realized they were ridiculous, and then went looking online.  Found the right stuff on Amazon.  Used the Amazon ones for the second collection.

The third collection since being told to use clear plastic bags is tomorrow.

Today, late this afternoon, we all got phone calls and alert emails from the township.  Recycle materials must be put in closed containers only.  "Plastic bags will not be picked up." 

Changing horses with less than one day's notice.

You could hear the swearing all up and down the street.

The phone call was a recording, but I swore at it anyway.  Loudly.


I thought hard about what I could use and finally remembered that I had two of those old green Rubbermaid stackable recycle bins in the garage, the kind with the sloping flaps on the top front.  I don't remember why I'd kept them all these years, haven't seen them actually used since recycling started three or four decades ago. But, they DO have lids....

So I put my stuff in them and put them out (paper in one, glass, plastic, and cans in the other).  I hope the guys recognize them for what they are, and don't toss the entire recycle bins themselves into the truck, too.  I also have corrugated cardboard (cut, flattened, bundled and tied, as ordered!) sitting next to them, and six huge kitty litter jugs all tied together by their handles (which they may or may not take, although they are #2, but they're not in a "closed container", sigh), so it would be easy for the guys to just throw everything in without thinking.

I'm going to have to watch for them to make sure the right things go and the wrong things don't.  They come anywhere between 7:30 am and 3:00 pm.


Monday, October 05, 2015

5017 No gun for you...

October 5, 2015

Gun control is once again an issue (being diverted to mental health by politicians), and I've been reading some arguments, none of which have any effect whatsoever, of course.  I am reminded of my experience with gun control measures.

I spent my high school years on a military base.  I used to go to the firing range with the airmen.  I got to be very good with a light hand gun.  They tested me once, and I scored sharpshooter.  Very good.  When you're really good at something, you kinda like it.

You know, if you point at something with your index finger, no matter how far away it is you will point directly at the object.  Your index finger has excellent aim.  So when shooting, if you just consider the barrel to be your index finger, you'll be right on side to side.  One test shot will tell you what adjustment to make up or down.  Guns are a lot easier than arrows.  Arrows don't make good index fingers.

Anyway, in my 20s I missed target shooting.  There was also something else going on that made me want a gun, but really, I mainly wanted target shooting.  At that time in my life, I wanted to do something I was good at, and have people see me being good at something.

The central NY community I was living in at the time had a few target clubs.  There were no public ranges.  You needed a membership to shoot anything other than tin cans in a field.  So I checked, and all of the clubs wanted you to register your guns with them before they would issue membership.  You couldn't join without first owning a gun.  However, when I tried to buy a gun, I was told I had to show a gun club membership before they could sell me a handgun.  (Or a hunting license before buying a long gun, but again, you had to register your existing gun to get a hunting license.)

I don't know if this was a county law or state law, but it was a very effective Catch 22.  I never did get my gun.  And I still miss shooting.  Damn!

Saturday, October 03, 2015

5016 Is it the weather?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Holding resentment is like drinking poison
and expecting the other person to die.
It doesn't work.


Well, it's beginning to look like Joaquin isn't going to hit us.  But right now, and for the past few days and probably a few days more, we are experiencing a Nor'easter.  I gather that's what's pushing the hurricane out to sea, so I guess we can't complain much.  We're getting lots of rain and lots of wind.  I can't hear the wind in the house, but when I go out I can hear roaring.  There was a flock some kind of wide-winged soaring bird flying high this afternoon, and they were flying backward!  Facing east, but moving west.  Weird.

I noticed that sometimes the wind dropped, no movement in the trees, but the roaring went on.  I suspect some of the sound isn't wind in the trees at all.  I suspect it's surf.  Wind kicking the water around.  I'm not going to walk to the end of the street to find out for sure.


The recent shooting at that college in Oregon.  Apparently the guy did it because he wanted to be famous.  Get his name known.  So, yeah, let's not mention his name.  The media says after every instance that they shouldn't make these guys famous, and then they do.  Shrug.

I found a very good comment on the Field Negro's blog (I'm not going to link because his commenters past maybe the first five are ... assholes), but this early comment says some of what I'd like to say, so, here it is:

Anonymous said...

    Well, if it's already been decided we're not going to do anything about access to guns (the NRA appears to have decided this for us), then we're left attacking the motive for using them.

    But then, we run up against other complaints from some of the same wingnuts who resist gun control.

    If we want to do something about street crime, we've got to create a fairer economic climate so that everyone can earn a legitimate living. That means greater funding of education, industrial policy to develop poor urban and rural areas, better transportation to jobs, labor laws that boost the average worker's wages, etc. It also means reversing "tough-on-crime" [justice system] policy: ending the Drug War, less-punitive sentences for non-violent crime, incentivizing employers to look past ex-cons' records in hiring, etc.

    Inevitably, all of that stuff requires higher taxes and lower incomes for rich people and/or being "nice" to criminals, so that's a "no" from conservatives.

    On the other hand, if we want to reduce mass shootings, the main avenue is addressing mental illness. Yet, mental health care costs rich people money, so that's out, too.

    Thus so we're back to the usual completely ineffective conservative remedies: scold black people, recommend everyone get some more Jesus in their lives, bash immigrants. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    Same shit, different day.

I love the way people  like Jeb Bush say "nobody" knows how to fix it, so we can't.  Um, Jeb, there are several other developed countries who HAVE fixed it.  Listen to Obama's speech and you'll hear about them.  Nobody?

I figure one of the first things to do is to get special interest money out of the election process, so maybe our representatives can represent the people instead of _______________ (fill in the blank with the NRA, the Koch brothers, whatever you like, or don't like).  Other countries have been able to figure this out.  Don't know why we can't --- oh, yeah, look who we're asking to do the reforming....  ne'mind.  Hopeless.


The green quote at the top is random, but today I read it and think, "Yeah, well, what else can you do?"  The whole damn country is drinking poison.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

5015 Awwwww....Gramma's pause button

Sunday, September 27, 2015

"Be who you are and say what you feel,
because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
 -- Dr. Seuss --


I dropped the Nugget and her mommy and daddy at Newark Airport on Thursday.  Nugget was all excited at "going on VACATION!" and flying on an airplane and seeing alligators!  Her goodbye to me was rather perfunctory.  
Today I got a phone call from Florida, from a sobbing Nugget who missed her Gramma terribly.  Poor little thing.  There have been many times that I haven't seen her for a week at a time, and it never bothered either her or me, but I guess being in a strange place, being obviously far away, in obviously different surroundings, makes a difference.

When she's upset about something, she often wants to see Gramma.  I offhandedly mentioned to Daughter that I want to be a "safe haven" to Nugget.  Naturally, Daughter was offended by that.  It's not like I want to replace Daughter as Nugget's main haven, but that I want to be a safe place she can go where there's no pressure, no schedules, where she can relax completely and maybe even think things over in her own way.  I can be more indulgent than her parents.  Grammas are allowed.  There are no expectations.

So I think she's just a little overwhelmed right now, and wants to "hit pause".   Gramma has the pause button.


I have acquired (via Craig's List) a large, wide, blond wood-finish 3-drawer file cabinet.  I can maybe now dig my way out of the paper piles.  

All my life I've had a problem with paper.  At the country house we had four wide drawers, but still there were piles of paper everywhere.  The main problem was that I'd pay bills, or open mail, and then I didn't file stuff right away, because it took so long, and the reason it took so long was that there was a separate folder for everything.  An electric company folder.  One for phone stuff, one for each of the cars, separate ones for each of the insurance policies, separate ones for each bank account, for each stock, ... and so on, spread out over four drawers with three rows of hanging folders in each drawer, arranged alphabetically.  So filing was a royal pain.  Up, down, back, forth, over the drawers, for each piece of paper.  The greatest system in the world is literally useless if you don't use it.

Now that the only person I have to answer to is myself, I have simplified.
There's one folder for everything I pay every month.  It's labelled "Utilities", but it also includes credit card  bills.
One folder for all insurance policies, of any kind.
One folder for all bank statements.
One folder for everything having to do with investments.
One folder for all taxes.
One folder for all auto purchase and service records.
And so on.

It's kind of arranged by "when processed" grouping.  Monthly stuff, quarterly stuff, random stuff.  That way, when I pay the monthly bills, I can just gather up everything and put it in one place.  No sorting.  The bank statements usually arrive at about the same time.  Within the folders, nothing is sorted.  It's just a jumble.  If I ever have to pull together a history, it will be easy enough to just go through the jumble in the proper folder and pull out the pieces I need.

I'm starting to feel better.  Not just because I'm getting a handle on the mess, but now I might be able to actually find stuff.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

5014 Seasons, hearing, free rice.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Don't taunt the alligator until after you've crossed the creek.


You know how in old-timey stage shows, when there's a change of scenery, the painted backdrop falls with a thud?  Well, that's how seasons have been changing lately.  THUD, spring arrived.  THUD, summer's here.  THUD, it's autumn.  One day it was in the high 80s and steamy, and the next day it was low 70s and windy.  Thud.  I swear I heard the backdrop fall.


Ever since I entered my 50s I've been getting mail offers for hearing tests from hearing aid companies, at the rate of at least one a week.  It's annoying.

I watched some videos recently about what people in foreign countries find most annoying about American tourists, and the thing that comes up over and over is that they are so loud.  Americans seem to talk too loudly, laugh too loudly, shout at each other, on the streets, on buses, on trains, in pubs, in B&Bs, disturbing the peace of everyone around them and they don't even notice.

That's something I noticed here, and it does bother me.  At the old house, a rural area, even in town people are much quieter.  It's difficult to hear conversations in the next booth at the village diner.  Here I can hear the complete conversation between two neighbors five houses up the street.  The house across the street doesn't have good cell reception, so the woman who lived there would sit on her front steps to talk on the phone, and not only could I clearly hear every word she said, I could clearly hear the other person on the other end of the call.

So, I doubt I need those hearing tests, but I wonder if most Americans DO.


Please check out freerice.com.  It's run by some part of the U.N.  You can take tests in various disciplines, and every correct answer earns 10 grains of rice for starving folks somewhere.  I think they start you out with English vocabulary.  It starts out very simple, but then gets harder.  If you get one wrong, pay attention to the correct answer, because you will see it again.  So you learn some stuff, and send rice where it's needed.  Supposedly it's paid for by the advertisers, but I didn't see any ads....

My previous post on freerice, with more detail:  http://thesilkentouch.blogspot.com/2009/06/2423-free-rice.html

Monday, September 21, 2015

5013 Life advice from a six-year-old

Monday, September 21, 2015

"Those who can laugh without cause have either
found the true meaning of happiness
or have gone stark raving mad."
-- Norm Papernick --


This child is six.  Her parents are divorcing.  She's giving advice to her mother.  It's wonderful.


Transcript, courtesy of a commenter on the video:

Mum, are you ready to be his friend?
Try not to be that high up, to be friends.
I want everything to be low, okay? Just try your best, alright?.
I don't want you and my dad to be replaced, and... mean again.
I want you and my dad to be placed, and settled and be friends.
I'm not trying to be mean, I just want everyone to be friends.
And if I can be nice, I think all of us can be nice too.
I'm not trying to be mean but... I'm trying to do my best in my heart – nothing else than that.
I want you; mum, my dad – everyone – to be friends, I want everyone to be smiling, not like being mad.
I want everything... Smile.
When I see someone, I want them to smile, especially nana. Everyone. I want everyone to smile.
 And if that's for my dad, and you, mum, I think you can do it.
I think you can settle your mean heights, down a little - to short heights, then it's both, okay?
I'm not trying to be mean, I'm not trying to be a bully.
I'm trying to be steady, on the floor.
Not way down - on the straight, on the middle where my heart is.
My heart is something - everyone else's heart is something too.
And if we live in a world where everyone's being mean, there will be (nothing but) monsters in the future.
What if there's just a little bit of a person (left) And they're eat(ing away) at them. Then no one will ever be here, only the monsters in our place.
We need everyone to be a person. Everyone – including me. And my mum. Everyone.
I just want everything to be settled down.
Nothing else.
 I just want everything to be good as possible.
 Nothing else.

5012 I think I'll title all posts "Rambles"

Monday, September 21, 2015

"Few people can see genius in someone who has offended them."
 – Robertson Davies –


Since last spring, Daughter had been looking forward to visiting my sister in Florida this fall. 

Well, Daughter checked on flights, I guess in late spring, and, I don't know what she was looking at, but she said the tickets were a bazillion dollars each.  So Hercules decided no, they couldn't afford it.  Badda boom.  End of story.

When I asked her a few weeks ago when they were planning to go and she told me they weren't going, and why, I was devastated.  I hadn't realized until then that I was so excited about the idea, too.  I haven't been keeping in touch (no reason, I'm just a clod), and hadn't seen sweet Sister in years, and the thought of my daughter and Nugget visiting thrilled me in some way I can't explain.  

I was crushed.

So, I went online and checked on tickets myself.  Maybe the drop in gas prices has something to do with it, but all the flights were a hair over $200.  So I told her pish on Hercules -- I'll pay for Daughter and Nugget to go.  I'll even pay for a rental car.

Well, with that news, Hercules decided he'd go, too.  (I'm not paying for his ticket.  Pish on him.  I'm betting he's all excited about geocaching opportunities, not about Daughter seeing her aunt and Nugget meeting her great-aunt.  Pish on him!)

They leave next Thursday.  I'll drive them to the Newark airport and pick them up after.


A random reference to TMI, and what it used to mean.  

Things have changed.  In 1975 when I was pregnant with Daughter, proper maternity clothes were circus tents.  You weren't supposed to even hint at an outline, like you were supposed to pretend it was a secret or something.  I wore the proper tents to the office, but rebelled outside work.  With the hippie influence, flower power, Woodstock, things were changing. 

I had found a T-shirt with BABY in big letters across the bust, and a wide arrow pointing down, and it wasn't even a tent.  It hugged my belly.  I loved that thing and wore it everywhere.  At that time and place, it was original, unique.

And everywhere I went, I got frowns, sneers, and whispers behind hands from women, and averted eyes from men.  The shirt was absolutely disgusting to many, and they let me know.  This was, by the way, in the mid-west.  I suspect that on either coast, folks may have found it more amusing.  But St. Louis was definitely NOT amused!

I asked a friend why there was such a strong response, and she said it was because the shirt was saying that I'd had sex.

Um, yeah, all pregnant women had.  Just being pregnant says that.  Besides, I'm married, so it's ok, isn't it?

Well, yeah, it's ok, but you're not supposed to talk about it, she said.  You're supposed to hide it.  That shirt not only literally points out that you've had sex, and points out where, but it BRAGS about it.  So when people see that, it makes them think about sex, and that disgusts them.


Forty years later, I wonder what they'd think of pregnant women in bikinis?

Saturday, September 19, 2015

5011 An embarrassing story

Saturday, September 19, 2015

"For most of history, Anonymous was a woman."
-- Virginia Woolf --


I was thinking about whether or not I wanted to put the cover on my fluffy down comforter before putting it on the bed for the coming winter. I keep buying duvet covers, and then I don't use them, because I like a top sheet, and then I put another sheet on the very top of the bed to protect everything from cat fur, so a duvet cover seems like overkill. Skin and kitty never touch the comforter anyway. I think it's time to give up on that idea for good.

That reminded me of an embarrassing story.

Back in the dark ages, oh, about 1987, duvets and duvet covers were a European thing that hadn't yet arrived in the US. Not among us unenlightened people, anyway. Daughter and I were wandering around England and Wales, and it seemed like the only places to stay outside the cities was in B&Bs. No hotels or motels, and few inns with unreserved rooms for drop-ins. I intensely dislike B&Bs, because I always feel like I'm imposing on a family, and it's just too "social" for me.  Plus I can't set my own schedule.  That was my first trip to England, and so very many things were very different from what I'm used to - like a spoon for tea was tiny, like those souvenir spoons, and spoons for dinner were what we'd call a tablespoon. There was nothing like what we'd call a teaspoon. A lot of things were confusing, like when I was looking for a drug store in a tiny village, and people snarled at me, "We don't do that here!" I should have asked for a chemist.

Anyway, Daughter and I arrived one afternoon at a family home and were shown to the daughter's room which they were letting out while the daughter was away at college. We unpacked, did a little sightseeing, had a little dinner, and then went back to the house about 9pm (it's impossible to get a restaurant dinner before 8pm), and were embarrassed to find that the family goes to bed at 9, and had been waiting up for us.

Back in our room, we washed, got ready for bed, and then....
we couldn't figure out how we were supposed to sleep in the bed.

There was a nice fluffy comforter, but when I turned it back there was no top sheet. Not what I expected for a top sheet, anyway. It looked like a quilted mattress cover. The comforter was enclosed in a sort of sheeting envelope, with buttons closing it along the top. Daughter said it looked like a sleeping bag. The family had long since retired and I was reluctant to disturb them.

So, uh, we shrugged and opened the buttons and slept in the "sleeping bag".

In the morning we rebuttoned the top, thus accidentally avoiding immediate discovery of our faux pas.

Several years later I learned about duvet covers, and was retroactively very embarrassed.

Oh, well.

Friday, September 18, 2015

5010 More rambles.

Friday, September 18, 2015

"Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth."
-- Lillian Hellman --


A township truck came through last night spraying for mosquitoes.  I haven't seen that since the '50s.  There have been a lot of dead crows, evidence that some nasty disease (I forget) is getting spread.  They've found it in captured mosquitoes.

I forgot to cover my tomato plant, so I'll have to remember to wash the tomatoes well before eating them.  I don't know what they sprayed with, but the crickets don't seem to be affected, they were still singing loudly two hours later.  I also doubt that the spray penetrated as far as back yards.  It looked like it just came straight out of the spray pipe and fell on the road.  I'm sure it got nowhere near the pond out back, and I'm absolutely positive it didn't hit the marshy/swampy area two streets over.  Well, at least the township can claim they tried.

I personally won't notice any difference, because mosquitoes don't bite me.  They hover around me like they're looking for skin, then they give up and leave.  Those tiny black bitey bugs that form clouds around your head don't like me, either.  Pretty much nothing does except ticks.


 I don't have an ad-blocker, so I get a lot of pop-up junk on the screen,  Even with an ad-blocker, I visit a lot of sites that would like me to subscribe or register, and they put up pop-up requests.  I used to not mind them, just closed them without reading them.

Remember when the "X" to close those little windows was always in the upper right corner?  Not any more.  Now you have to search for the darn things.  Some of the "X"s don't show up until you pass over them with the cursor, so it's a physical search.  Piss me off!  And there's one ad company out there that covers the text on the screen and doesn't even provide the "X".  The ad sits there covering text until it decides to leave.  Snopes.com uses that ad company, and I go to Snopes several times a day.

Even worse are the videos that start up with no encouragement.  I'll have five tabs open when suddenly sound starts up, and I have to scroll up and down through five tabs to find out where it's coming from.

I give up.  I guess I'm going to have to install an ad-blocker.  Any recommendations?


A study has found that the higher your education level, the better your chances of recovering from brain injury with no disability.  (http://www.indianalawyerblog.com/2014/05/education_helps_protect_the_br.html)  Interesting article.

One theory is that the more mental exercise you get, the stronger your brain is.  The other, of course, is that the higher your educational level, the better able you will be to afford top-notch care.  Heh.


Speaking of brains, back when Jay was getting all those MRIs, I always asked to look at them with the doctors, and they were always happy to accomodate me.  One day we were looking at one, and I observed, "You know, it's no wonder people think about sex so much.  There's a naked woman climbing right into the center of the brain."    The doctor looked at me, "What?  Where?"  I pointed to the structure in the middle, the thalmus is her head, the midbrain is her upper back, the pons is her rear end, and the medulla olongata is her right leg.  Her left leg is bent high up, stepping into the brain and raising and rounding her left haunch, her left arm reaches out to the left side.  He suddenly saw it clearly --- and here's the surprising part, he'd never noticed that before.  Turns out none of Jay's doctors had.  

This is a random scan from the internet, not Jay's.  See if you also see the lady.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

5009 Rambling

xxxday, September 1x, 2015

...electricity is a myth. Everything actually runs off smoke. We know this
because once you let the smoke out of something, it doesn't work any more.
-- "SteveM", in a comment in Scienceblogs.com http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/07/frickin_electricity_how_does_i.php

----------------------------[the link may not work any more]---------------------------

Regular gas is less than $2 now!  Something like $1.95.  When did that happen?  Why?  I don't understand.


I had long ago noticed that every time I wash my hair, it's longer than before I washed it.  It's especially noticeable now that it's so long that I can get away with washing it once a week, so the increase in length is almost 2 inches.

After all these years, I think I've figured out why.

My hair isn't curly -- it's crinkly.  So over a week, the individual hairs crinkle up, making the whole look shorter without showing obvious curl.  Then when it gets washed, it straightens out.



Are crickets more populous in the late summer and fall?  They're all over outside now.  Inside, I'm finding, um, pieces of crickets everywhere, upstairs and down.  When Jasper's not sleeping or begging, he's hunting.  He doesn't eat them, he just takes them apart and then looks disappointed when they can't hop anymore.


A hitherto unconsidered benefit of retirement:
I took Hal in for his annual service.  Well, Hal's records report that since purchase, I have driven him an average of 67 miles per week.  No wonder I hadn't noticed that the cost of gasoline had gone down.  In the past 4.5 years, he has had four oil changes.  ...Almost balances out the six (or more? I've lost count) new tires.

I should report that mileage to the insurance company - they might lower my premium.


I don't know why anyone puts "THIS SIDE UP" and arrows on boxes.  I do almost all my shopping online, so I get about four boxes dropped on my porch per month, and I have never yet seen even one box with the arrows pointing up.  (UPS, are you listening?)


I want to buy Nugget some toys I loved when I was a child, and Daughter also had.  I'm going slightly crazy because I can't find the right things new anywhere online.

I want a pump-type spinning top, you know, the big one that sings, and flaps open inside a clear plastic top showing spinning colored panels that blend as it spins to make changing colors.  All I can find are solid metal with stuff painted on top.  They sing, but nothing else interesting happens.  I did find one on Amazon that almost fits the bill, but Amazon has "temporarily" suspended sale of that item due to some kind of shipping problem.

I want a nice kaleidoscope.  The case doesn't matter, but it must have translucent random-shaped colorful bits in the turning part.  No, I don't want opaque beads.  Duh?  Opaque?  Beads?  I don't want paper clips and other metal bits.  I don't want a solid lead-set stained glass wheel that doesn't give an ever-changing pattern.  I don't want a tube that gets pushed through the viewing chamber.  I don't want one so small that there is little in the chamber.  I also don't want to pay over $30 - I'm not looking for artwork here.  Remember the ones with odd-shaped bits of glass that shifted into view as you turned the end, and made glowing blossoms that never repeated?  Good interesting ones don't seem to exist anymore, not new ones, anyway.  I don't know - maybe kids were taking them apart and getting cut by the shifty bits or something.  I ended up buying a "vintage '50s" one on eBay.  

Still looking for the top.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

5008 Best Offer

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Education... has produced a vast population able to read
but unable to distinguish what is worth reading.
-- G. M. Trevelyan --


eBay just got a lot more dangerous for me.  

Let's take muumuus for example.  In the awful heat and humidity we'd been having, I found the muumuus I had bought in Hawaii in the late '90s and early 2000s were wonderful.  So I went to the internet to see if I could find two or three more.

I prefer the lighter cotton or rayon blends, in a straight style that falls from the bust to the ankles and skims the hips, with no gathers above the knee.  Hilo Hattie's and the other stores in Hawaii didn't have what I like at a reasonable price.  The name brand dresses run at least $70, and almost all had gathers above the bust, and the current fashion seems to be that heavy bark-cloth-like cotton.  So I went to eBay, where I found lots of "vintage" dresses that were exactly what I wanted.  I bought a few, none of them over $25, most well under, and I'm happy with them.  There were others I liked even better, nicer colors, nicer prints, but they were over $30 (plus shipping) and I didn't want to go that high.

And then, I accidentally discovered "Or Best Offer".

I hate bargaining.  One is expected to bargain in Morocco, nothing has a reasonable set price, and I hated every second of it.  I feel like I'm  insulting the shopkeeper when I tell him how little I think his item is worth.  I suspect I paid way too much for everything, and the weird thing is that the business people sneer at you if you pay too much.  It's awful.  So when I've seen "Or Best Offer" on eBay items, I ignored it, and if I wanted the item, I just paid the posted price.

This afternoon I found these two dresses, exactly what I wanted, but both way out of my price range.  (Photos are blurry because the only photos you can copy off eBay are the tiny thumbnails.  They don't enlarge well, but you get the idea.)  The brown is a classic Hawaiian floral fabric.  The pink is hibiscus flowers.

Well, I figure that there's a difference between bargaining with a Moroccan shopkeeper to his face, and with a faceless eBay seller who is free to reject the offer.  At least I won't see the sneer.  The brown dress was nearing the end of its listing time on eBay, so I decided to try that "Best Offer" button.  I made a ridiculously low offer given what she had listed the dress at, and well below my limit.  I was just trying it out, you know?  I didn't expect the offer to be accepted. It was ridiculous.

It was immediately accepted!  My chin almost hit the desk!

I then went to the pink dress which I liked even more but had been listed at an even higher price and had another three weeks to go on its listing, made my pitiful low-ball offer, and again it was immediately accepted.   (Given that if you email a seller, it usually takes a few hours for them to get back to you, I suspect that when the seller set up the "Best Offer" option, they also set the absolute lowest offer they'll accept, and that's why I got immediate acceptance.  Gee.  Now I'm wondering if I could have gone lower.)

Wow.  I may be be in trouble now.  Hunting down bargains.  Temptations.  Oh, my.  I'm already known on eBay as a sniper.  I may become known as a low-baller.


Meaning on eBay:
  • Bid - how high are you willing to go?  (I snipe in the last 5 seconds so I can't be bid up.)
  • Buy It Now (BIN) - Pay the price listed or move on.
  • Buy It Now with the 'Or Best Offer' option - How low will the seller go?

5007 Limited access

Saturday, September 12, 2015

"Punctuality is the virtue of the bored."
-- Evelyn Waugh --


Rhinebeck, NY, has smallish spreading trees lining the major streets (the main street is route 9, the same route 9 that runs through NJ, and people insist it's Broadway in NYC.  I dunno about that.).  All the branches and twigs of all the little trees are wound about with strings of tiny white lights, that are turned on for the Christmas season.  Driving down the main street is a fairy tale experience.  It really is beautiful.


Many of the residents and shopkeepers don't fully appreciate it, because the village council has declared that tiny white lights and white lights only are to be used for decoration on trees, shrubs, storefronts, and home windows throughout the village.  No multi-colored lights.

A high-class village like Rhinebeck cannot be allowed to look garish.

Well, anyway, the council has announced this year's "community-wide party", an annual tradition to raise money for the lights.  It will be held at the fairgrounds in October.  A "cocktail party" in one of the fair pavilions.  Sponsored by a bank, and the fairgrounds, and the village council.  Local restaurants will provide food and drink tastings.  

How much would you pay to attend?

Single tickets $100, couple $175.


Toldja it was a high-class community.  No riff-raff allowed.  This is the same place that made no effort to save the only grocery store in the village accessible to the elderly and others without cars.

But it sure is pretty to drive through in December.  Just ... keep going through.

5006 Meringue chewing gum

Saturday, September 12, 2015

"I shall never be ashamed of citing a bad author if the line is good."
-- Seneca --


Daughter found a container of meringue cookies in a local store, and shared them with me, and I shared them with Nugget.  We all love them.  They are light and dry and crunchy and melt in your mouth.  I pointed out that they are easy to make, so Nugget and I made them yesterday.

Not so easy when it's humid, I guess.

The recipe we found online said to bake them for 45 minutes at 250 degrees, then to let them sit in the oven for another hour, without opening the oven door.  They should be dry throughout by then.

Well, an hour and 45 minutes later, they were firm and dry on the outsides, but like chewing gum inside.  I heated the oven up again, turned it off, and gave them another 2 hours.  Still chewy inside. I gave up, turned the oven off, and went to bed, leaving them in the warm oven.  Seems like an old recipe I remember using a long time ago said to leave them overnight.

This morning they were no longer dry on the outside!  Soft and sticky lumps of gum!

Heated the oven up again to 180, and gave them two hours this morning at 180.  They are now almost right, so I stuck them in airtight containers.

I think it's the humidity, and my stupid oven.  It's the one installed by the builder, the cheapest GE gas oven.  When you use the oven, heat pours out of the vents located under the backsplash at the rear of the stovetop, baking and melting anything you were foolish enough to leave on top of the stove, and heating the kitchen in the summer.  I don't know if all gas ovens work this way, or just cheap ones.  Anyway, I suspect when you turn the active heat off, cool moist room air enters easily and quickly, defeating the drying part of the recipe.

I hate that stove, but it's not worth replacing it because I don't really use the oven part, except for the occasional cookies with Nugget, or chicken thighs.  For myself, my meager meals come out of the microwave or off the stovetop.  I've never even used the broiler (which news horrified Daughter).

I loved the stove at the country house.  It's a top-of-the-line fancy pro brand I can't remember right now, electric, self-cleaning, with burners you can swap out for a griddle, and a grill, and some other stuff I didn't even know how to use (but Jay did) for fish and other special uses.  That stove is now at least 30 years old, one burner no longer works, and some of the small knobs for things like clock and timer setting etc. disappeared (stolen by cats, I think), but I still like it.  The only thing I didn't like is that it's stainless steel, and I hate stainless steel.  It stains, discolors, scratches, and is impossible to keep clean.  The "stainless" part is pure advertising hype.  Give me porcelain every time.

Friday, September 11, 2015

5005 The ultimate bureaucracy

Friday, September 11, 2015

"Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength."
-- Eric Hoffer --


My driver's license expires the end of this month.  They sent me the renewal form early last month.  All I had to do was sign it, and mail it back in with a check, and they'd reuse the old photo and send me the new permit.

Well, of course I procrastinated, and found it while writing checks for this month's bills.  I was afraid that if I mailed it now, I might not get the new one before the old expired.

So I decided to just sign the form, write the check, and hand-deliver it to the local DMV office.  They could just do their thing and mail it to me.

Not so simple.

I had the Nugget that day, so we went off to run some errands and have a Gramma-Nugget lunch.  First stop was the DMV.

I have to congratulate the kid.  She was very good while we waited in THREE different lines at the DMV.  They wanted six points of identification (my old driver's license wasn't sufficient), and they insisted on a new photo.  The Nugget danced and sang to entertain people in line.

Now, the process made no sense at all.  If I had mailed the form, there would have been no verification of my id at all.  But if I'm standing there with my state-issued photo id -- look, it's ME! -- I have to further prove who I am?

I don't understand.

Yeah, ok, the difference is that with the mail-in form, they send the license to the "address of record", as opposed to handing it to a person who claims to be me.  But really, there isn't that much difference, and besides, they could have mailed it anyway, right?

They made me take the new photo without my glasses on, and it's absolutely awful.  I wasn't planning on a photo, so I wore no makeup, and my hair was pulled straight back from my face.  Then without the glasses, my eyes looked red and swollen and I looked like I'd had a very bad night.

All license photos look bad because of the flat lighting, but I've never seen one this bad.  Even the Nugget, who isn't old enough at 4 to dissemble, looked at the photo and asked who that was.  


The definition of a bureaucrat is one who follows a set of procedures to the letter.  No deviations allowed, no thinking allowed.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

5004 Stoooopid pumpkin

Sunday, September 6, 2015

"Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see."
-- Arthur Schopenhauer --


The pumpkin plant is now in high gear.  It's putting out eight or so blossoms every morning now, and so far, every single one of them since the very first is male!  There is one lonely female blossom developing at the very end of the vine.  I've been checking it every morning for the past week, and it doesn't seem to be getting any bigger or any closer to blooming.

Just wait.  It'll finally open while I'm visiting the country house.

Friday, September 04, 2015

5003 My laziness knows no bounds

Friday, September 4, 2015

"Early morning cheerfulness can be extremely obnoxious."
-- William Feather --


I first tried PeaPod grocery service sometime last winter, I think, when it was cold and snowy and I was sick with a cold or something.  Now, since the closest grocery store has closed, I'm pretty much hooked on it.  I haven't been unhappy with anything they've delivered, except a few times when I didn't pay attention to the size of the product and was surprised when I got the giant size of something.  Otherwise, even the selections of produce and meat sent with my order have been good.  In fact, the meat and fresh veggies have been impressive.

The website is easy to use once you figure it out.  They save past orders, so you don't have to hunt for the items you like every time - just bring up your history and select from that for the regular stuff.  You do have to pay for delivery.  I think it might be about $7, but I'm not sure because ever since my first order they send me email coupon codes I can use for free delivery, so I rarely pay that, and if you select less popular delivery time windows, you can get a discount or even free.  You are expected to tip the driver, but that's your decision as to how much, and I'm more than happy to do it.  I just ask myself what it's worth to me not to have to traipse around the store, load and unload the cart, deal with the cashier, pack the car, drive home, and unload the car.  The driver is willing to carry the bags into the kitchen and even put the cold stuff away for you, but I always have them just put it on the porch.  

You can save the delivery charge and tip by picking up your order at the store.  I haven't tried that because as far as I'm concerned that defeats the purpose.  Also, they do take manufacturer's coupons.  You just give them to the driver and it's deducted from the bill.  Again, I don't bother with coupons.  My experience with coupon clipping is that they make me buy things I otherwise would not have bought.

I've always kept a shopping list on paper on the kitchen counter, adding things as I think of it, but PeaPod will keep a running cart list for you between visits, so that's where my shopping list is now.

Daughter snorked at me that the prices were probably higher.  I'd kept receipts from in-person shopping trips at various stores, and no, the prices are the same as I paid in person, with the usual minor difference you'd expect to see between stores.  PeaPod does have sale items clearly marked and recommended.

Something went wrong with this last order.  A quart container of yogurt burst, and the eggs were squashed.  I got credit for them, and the driver said to keep the eggs, there might be some unbroken ones I could use.  Well, the egg carton was a mess, yellow all over and limp and soggy with yogurt, but when I ran water over the mess in the sink, it turned out only the two end eggs were broken, and 10 were unbroken.  I got 10 free eggs.  Cool.

Oh, and the bags!  They don't over pack them, so you get a bunch of large, strong, plastic bags with handles.  You can give them to the driver on your next order for recycling, or you can keep them.  I love them.  I use them to move stuff from the old house to here, and to store stuff here, and just generally whatever.

So, if you have PeaPod.com in your neighborhood, I highly recommend them.  Especially if you like being a hermit.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

5002 Invitation - interpret my dream

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

"The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place
but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment."
-- Dorothy Nevill --


There was a large floor, maybe in a store, or a warehouse, or even maybe on the street?  A box or container had overturned, spilling hundreds of somethings all over.  The somethings were cylindrical, so they rolled and spread out.  They were small enough to fit into a palm.  Whatever they were, they were multi-colored, unusual, and pretty.

I straightened up the container and started picking up the things to put them back.  They felt nice in my hands.  The more I handled them, the more I wanted some, maybe three or four.

I looked all around, and there was no one else around that I could buy them from.  Nobody.  I was the only person.

Should I put them all back?  Could I just take three or four?  After all, they could have rolled away and would likely never be missed.  I'm willing to pay for them, but there's no one to pay.  And if I hadn't picked them up and put them back, a lot more might have been lost or destroyed.  Or should I walk away now, and remove temptation, leave the remaining ones to their fate?
I was frozen, I didn't know what to do.  The big question was , "What should I do?  Can I just take a few?  Would that be wrong?  What should I do?"  In the dream, it was a BIG problem.  Like life or death big.
And then I woke up.
I can't think of any way this applies to anything going on in my life now. 


5001 Cute has changed

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

"Some things have to be believed to be seen."
-- Ralph Hodgson --


The world of internet cute dogs has been taken over entirely by corgies, pugs, and little yappers whose tongues don't fit in their mouths.  The cat territory now belongs to malformed felines --- cats with insanely stubby legs, or whose noses are so squashed they can't breathe properly, or who have devastating birth defects.

Something's wrong here.  I don't understand.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

5000 Reunion misplaced

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.”
-- Plato --


I've been getting invitations to my 50th college reunion.  It's kind of annoying.

I started out in the class of 1966, but I accelerated and graduated with the class of 1965.  So I get all kinds of news and reunion invitations for 1965, but nothing for 1966.

All my friends, classmates, pinochle buddies, the folks I hung out with in the lounge, went to the world's fair with, joined clubs with, all those folks were from the class of 1966.  I know very few people from 1965.  

1966 doesn't seem to exist.


4099 I hate utility companies

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”
-- Plato --


Last Friday I had lunch with Piper.  I didn't want to talk business, but he did mention that he thought I'd be very happy with the way we weathered the storm.  I reiterated that I wasn't worried, hadn't been worried, and no I don't need details.  Corporate profits are still at an all-time high.  It'll all come back.

Today I got another report from Progress Energy.  I own a bunch of something called "Contingent Value Obligations".  The damn things are worthless.  We owned stock in Florida Progress, inherited from Jay's mother, and sixteen years ago somebody pulled a quick one, and we got CVOs for our stock.  This is an explanation:
In connection with the acquisition of Florida Progress Corporation, Progress Energy issued 98.6 million CVOs. Each CVO represents the right of the holder to receive contingent payments based on after-tax cash flows above certain levels of four synthetic fuel facilities purchased by subsidiaries of Florida Progress Corporation in October 1999. The CVOs are debt instruments and, under GAAP, are valued at market value. Unrealized gains and losses from changes in market value are recognized in earnings each quarter.  
We're supposed to get checks from the profits of the subsidiaries, when the profits are above a certain level.  Well, in the past sixteen years, due I believe to creative bookkeeping, those subsidiaries have yet to show a profit!  (Above that certain level.)  So all these years later, we/I have yet to see a penny from the "taking" of our stock.  There's got to be something wrong with that.  We're supposed to believe that Progress Energy is still hanging on to subsidiaries that aren't making a profit, and haven't in sixteen years?  Or perhaps that "level" was set ridiculously high?  Every so often I get a letter wherein PE offers to buy the CVOs.  For a few cents each.

Yeah, sure.

Um, no.  I can wait you bastards out.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

4098 Familial relationship terms

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Guns don't kill people. People who say “Guns don't kill people” kill people. With guns.
--Rob Delaney--


You know that second-cousin, third-cousin, etc. stuff, and the "once removed"?  I don't understand it.   Not in the slightest.  Is my mother's cousin my second-cousin?  What's my mother's cousin's daughter to me?  Is there any relationship to how many levels we go up to meet a common blood relative, that makes it second, third, etc.?

I know about the first level cousins, aunts and uncles, grand parents, step whatevers, and so on --- the simple stuff.  But once you get into the seconds and thirds, and "removed", I have no idea what it means.  Actually, I doubt that anyone else really does, either.  They just think they do.  At least, every time anyone has used those fancy terms and confused me, I went and looked it up afterward, and they were wrong.  Not that I was able to figure out what term they should have used.  I'm so confused that even the "in-law" stuff doesn't make sense to me.  I'll go find articles about the proper terms on the internet, and I'll read all about it, but as fast as I scroll down, it disappears from my head.

Confusing in-laws:
My husband's sister is my sister-in-law, right?
Her husband is my husband's brother-in-law, right?
But what's my husband's brother-in-law to me (assuming it's not my brother)?
Seems like he should be my brother-in-law-in law.
If I refer to someone as my brother-in-law, everyone automatically assumes I mean my sister's husband, not my husband's brother (or vice versa), even though both are my brother-in-law.
There should be some way to differentiate.

I long ago gave up on all of that.
I always refer to "my husband's sister", "my husband's sister's husband", "my sister's husband", and so on.  It's the only way to convey whom I really mean without confusing anyone.
Least of all me.

Friday, August 28, 2015

4097 Choices

Friday, August 28, 2015

Only the dead have seen the end of war.”
-- Plato --


I'm at the country house, drove up yesterday evening.  I watched TV last night and went to bed after the 11 o'clock news.  I had forgotten how quiet it is here, and how comfortable the bed is.  It was noon before I awoke.

I had also forgotten how much I love this house.

This week is the Dutchess County Fair.  It's been years since I've been to the fair, so I'm very tempted to say fooey on working here and just go to the fair.

I also love this area.

I hate the choices one is forced to make when one gets old.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

4096 Splish-splash.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

There is no “i” in “team”, but there's a “u” in “people who don't understand
the difference between orthography and meaning.”


I had mentioned that I had a problem with Jasper splashing and dumping his water all over the floor.  It's been about six weeks since I found the solution, and it does seem to be working.  (Photo from Amazon.com, "Greedy Pup-Best Slow Eating Bowl on The Market", by Greedy Pup.
It's meant to slow down dogs who eat too fast.  For Jasper, I fill it with water to the tops of the bumps.  It's a hair over 9 inches wide and heavy, so he can't tip it, drag it, or pick it up.  The bumps prevent his making tidal waves, but still allow him to make satisfying splish-splash noises, and there's enough room between the bumps that he can drink easily.  The sides are not quite high enough to bother his cyst. 

It wasn't his splashing that bothered me, it was his emptying the water all over the floor, so this seems to be a good compromise.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

4095 Bugs

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ignorance: the root of all evil.”
-- Plato--


Another cricket arrived in the kitchen Monday evening, living in the same general area as the last one.  There must be some opening of some kind in the foundation slab there that allows them in, under the cabinets in that corner.  That area is also the entrance for teeny tiny ants, and very cold drafts in the winter.  It's probably where the A/C hoses come in.  This cricket sings.  Jasper didn't discover it until last night.

I was watering the potted tomato plant just below the front porch this afternoon, and as I bent over, my robe (yeah, I wasn't dressed yet, wanna make somehin' of it?) open a bit, and I saw a tick walking up my leg!  I hate ticks!  That's the first I've seen in this area, and I can't believe I picked him up just on my porch!  I've been funny about ticks ever since I was in about third grade, and one got embedded in my scalp right in the top of my head, not just attached, embedded, the scalp had swollen up over the tick, and my mother totally freaked and dug it out! in pieces!  using a huge pair of sewing shears.  Not like a knife, big heavy scissors blades!  Without anesthesia!  Digging and scraping.  I hate ticks!

I don't usually wear robes any more.  I'll throw on a caftan to pot around in until I'm ready to get dressed (and that usually doesn't happen until I'm ready to leave the house).  But this morning I had slept in and was awakened by the doorbell.  I looked out the bedroom window and saw the mail delivery lady leaving the porch, so I called down to ask if she needed me to sign for something (yes).  Yesterday's caftan was in the laundry, so I grabbed a robe.  Feels weird.  Caftans are much more like clothes, you know?  And you don't have to worry about them falling open and flashing the neighborhood.  But if I'd had a caftan on, I'd never have seen the tick.  Piece of luck.

Of course now I itch all over, thinking about all the caftan-covered ticks I haven't seen over the past days.  Ick.

Monday, August 24, 2015

4094 Stock Market

Monday, August 24, 2015

There's more money to be had in pandering to ignorance than in explaining it away.


Yeah, how 'bout that stock market, eh? 

I talked with Piper last week, and told him yes, I'd heard, no, I'm not worried, and I told him strongly, in no uncertain terms, he is not to attempt to "play" the market with my account.  No selling off anything, no buying anything in an attempt to find bargains, no nothing.  Stand pat with my account.  Let it ride.  He seemed to be ok with that, which surprised me.  I'm sure he's freaking out today, but he's got other accounts he can play with besides mine.

The market has crashed before, and it always recovers eventually, and then goes higher.  We just need to be in nice solid boring stuff that will recover, and I have plenty of patience.  It was a bit too high, too optimistic given the state of Europe and China, and with no nice stimulating wars on the horizon it had to drop to a more reasonable level.  This huge drop is because people are in a panic.  It will stabilize when everyone calms down.

I told Piper at the end of last year to get me out of the far east, primary and secondary --- it was obvious that China was headed for the same housing-lending-banking train wreck that the US had not so long ago.  Yep.


The green quote above, by the way, is absolutely random.  Not that it applies, anyway, except that it mentions money.

4093 Pumpkin plant

Monday, August 24, 2015

If the answer has to be now, it has to be no.


I have another volunteer pumpkin in front of my porch.  I put the old Halloween pumpkins (painted by the Nugget, not cut) near the mailbox every fall so the squirrels can eat it, and ONE seed (why only one?) sprouts.

We've had a lot of very strong sun and little actual soaking rain, and I am amused at the way the pumpkin vine has adapted.  This is the way the first leaves looked - large and flat:
Every morning by mid-morning they were wilted and folding from too much sun.  That struck me as odd at first, since they are field plants and made for sun, but I guess in the field they shade and humidify each other.

This is what the second growth of leaves look like.  The photo looks more green than they actually are.  In life, they look mostly white with scatterings of green.
Apparently the plant decided that wasn't quite working, either.

The third set of leaves look like this, more leathery with deeper cuts in the lobes.  (Notice the white one to the right.  That's a better representation of set #2.)

I guess the plant decided, "Hey, we've got an idea here!", because the fourth and final iteration of leaf style looks like this.  Lots of wrinkles, very deep cuts between the lobes, ideal for the full hot sun and scant water conditions.
Congratulations, pumpkin!  It looks like an entirely different plant.

Now, if only it could similarly adjust the blossom situation.  Pumpkins will put out separate male blossoms and female blossoms, both on the same plant.  However, to ensure healthy cross-pollination, a particular plant will put out only all male or all female flowers on any particular day, and the blossoms last only through the morning.  So it's very difficult for a plant to self pollinate.  In a field of pumpkins, this isn't a problem, since they can pollinate each other.  For one lonely plant, it's celibacy.

Last year I checked every morning, and a few times I found like one female, or one male, in the midst of a sea of the opposite sex, and I played bumblebee myself.  I think we had two pumpkins out of it.  So far this year, the segregation has been strict.  In fact, so far it's been almost entirely male.


I had mentioned Jasper hunting the cricket.  The cricket has disappeared, but Jasper is ever vigilant, in case it comes back.