Saturday, July 04, 2015

4062 Expensive and tiring week

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Love longs for union.


It's almost 9 pm, it's still fairly light outside, and the fireflies (lightning bugs) in my postage stamp front yard are going bananas.  There are none in the back yard.  There are none in any other yards up, down, or across the street.  But in my front yard they are flashing almost in unison, and there are 8 or 10 at a time.  It's crazy.  They rise from the grass and seem to all be headed across the street, but they seem to be going up into the tall trees over there.

Do all the males live in my yard, and all the females live in the trees across the street?


I've had a very tiring and expensive week.

On Monday I drove up to the country house to meet the furnace man for the annual service.  Monday evening I drove home again.  That's almost six hours in the car.

Tuesday evening I drove up again to meet the a/c installers Wednesday morning at 8 am.  I left home very late, and would have got to the country house at about 1 am.  That was ok, no big deal.  Well, would have been ok if I hadn't hit an enormous pothole on the NY state Thruway, on the edge of the road just before the New Paltz exit, at just after midnight.  I didn't see it.  It was very dark, there were no other cars in sight, and it had been pouring rain, so the hole was full of water, so even if I saw anything at all I wouldn't have identified it as a big hole.  But suddenly the car dropped about 8 inches, there was a bang, and then the car jumped into the air a good 18 inches and was thrown halfway into the left lane and fishtailing.  Suddenly it was very difficult to steer.

You don't expect a hole like that on the Thruway, when you're traveling at (an undisclosed) rate of speed.

I pulled off onto the exit onto route 299, turned right (it was very difficult to turn left), and pulled into the first motel I came to, which was close and luckily on the right.  The right front tire was completely flat.  They're "drive flat" tires, but there's a limit as to how flat they can be driven on before you destroy the rim, and this was past that.

I got a room and tried to figure out what to do next.  What am I going to do about the a/c guys?  I'm going to have to rent a car, and get my car towed to my tire place, there's not a whole lot I can do at past midnight.  No way I'm going to get to the house before like 11 am at the earliest, even assuming I can get a rental car just by snapping my fingers, since the rental car places won't be open until 9:30.

I fired off an email to the owner of the a/c company, copying his secretary, explaining the situation and asking him to call me on my cell as soon as he got the message.  Then I researched rental car companies (luckily I had my notepad and my handi-dandi little WiFi box).  I know from experience there was only one company in the area that will pick me up, and they had offices only in Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, and Kingston.  I wanted Kingston, because that's closest to the country house and to where I wanted to take the car to be worked on, and that's 35 minutes away, so if they came and got me, it would still be after 11 before I could get to the house.

On the way I had stopped and bought about $30 worth of salads for Wednesday's and Thursday's meals, so I put them in the motel room refrigerator.

I tried to go to sleep, but I couldn't sleep, trying to figure out what to do.  I hoped I hadn't done any mechanical damage to Hal's front end.  (Yeah, it was the BMW, and this was the seventh blown tire in three years, the second in seven weeks.)  I finally fell asleep at about 3:45 am, and then was awakened by the a/c man's phone call at 7 am.  The motel alarm clock hadn't gone off.  (By the way, why are motel alarm clocks so freakin' hard to figure out how to set?  You'd think they'd get the simplest ones, but no, they are puzzles!)

He said no problem.  They'd take their time loading the trucks, and they could install the outside unit before I got there, AND he'd send his wife to pick me up.  She would have me at the rental car place at 9:30, when they opened.

Yay.  I opened the refrigerator to get me some breakfast, and found everything frozen solid.  Frozen boiled eggs are hard to eat.  Frozen yogurt isn't any good when it's like a rock and you don't have any spoons anyway.  And you flat out can't freeze salads. I guess you can eat them, but it's not very appetizing.  I had effectively no food.

I tried to reserve a car online, but it wouldn't allow me to reserve a car 2 hours hence.  I'd have to just show up and hope.

Pat, the wife, drove down from Kingston, picked me up and we went to Kingston, and luckily the rental folks did have a car I could have, so then I rushed to the house and let the a/c guys in.  Then I drove to Rhinebeck to my tire guys to make sure they could take me today (and that's one reason I always go to these guys, they always fit me in) and got a recommendation for a tow company.  Called the tow company and arranged to meet the tow truck back at the motel - 45 minutes back down the Thruway.  Followed him back to Rhinebeck, and then waited at the tire place while they checked the tire and the front end.  No mechanical damage.  Yay!  But I had hit the hole so hard that the pressure sensor had been blown to smithereens, so that had to be replaced.  However, even though you could buy one of those sensors at any auto supply store for like $15-20, the BMW will take only a BMW sensor, and they cost a ridiculous bajillion dollars.  Sigh.  Oh, yeah, the tire is completely shredded on the inner side, so that has to be replaced.  They need to order the tire, so it'll be tomorrow morning.

Back to the house.  It was just noon, and I am dead tired and starving.  I went out and bought more food.

By 4 pm the a/c system was fully installed, and up and running.  The guys left.  I left the a/c on, mainly to reduce the humidity in the house so I'd be more comfortable sleeping, but then it got cooler outside and I was busy sorting stuff from the file cabinets and didn't notice it was getting really cold in the house, so I turned the a/c off.  After a while I realized I was freezing, so about 10 pm I flipped the system to heat.

Nada.  It was blowing air all right, but the air was cold.  No heat.  It was in the low 60s outside.  And inside.

They had installed the a/c coils above the furnace unit and were using the furnace fan.  They'd been dinking around with the wiring in the furnace.  I don't know what went wrong, but I had no heat.  I piled blankets on, but my poor forehead and nose froze all night.

Oh, the irony.  I hadn't been able to work in the house because it got too hot.  So I fixed that, and now I freeze.

They were coming back the next morning to remove the old dead heat pump, so when they arrived at about 9 am I told them about the heat.  It turned out the oil line needed to be bled, so they did that, and I had heat.  The tire guys called, and I went to Rhinebeck, and paid the bill.  A pleasant surprise - they felt so sorry for me that they charged me only $25 for the bazillion dollar sensor.  I retrieved my keys, then drove to Kingston and returned the rental car.  The rental car place had an intern drive me back to Rhinebeck, and I drove back to the house. 

The a/c guys finished removing the heat pump at 2 pm, and at 3 pm I started the drive back to the city house.  Heading down the NY Thruway, and the Garden State Parkway, Thursday evening, when hordes of people will have Friday off, and will be heading to the Jersey shore for the holiday.  Oh, joy.

As expected, the GSP was dense and nerve-wracking, but not quite a parking lot.  The usual 2.5 hour drive took me only 3.5 hours.  The Nugget saw me pull into the driveway and asked if she could come over and visit Gramma, and of course I said yes.  Daughter was grilling chicken, so she fed me.  I was so tired I couldn't unload the car.  In fact, my notepad and travel bag are still out there.  Which is just as well, since I really should check them for bedbugs before bringing them into the house.  It really was a crappy motel.  New Paltz is a college town. 

I went to bed at 10 and slept past noon yesterday.  I'm still tired.

The damage:
$  87.99  One night, crappy motel
$  30.00  Destroyed food
$107.32  One day plus 3 hours rental car
$170.00  Flatbed tow from New Paltz to Rhinebeck
$250.00  New tire and sensor (even with the sensor break, this seems awfully low)

Not including, of course the usual $100 or so in gas and tolls each trip usually takes, plus multiple bridge and Thruway tolls going back and forth getting the cars towed and etc.



I should have reported the pothole to the Thruway authority before it kills someone.
I didn't.
I do have AAA, and I suppose I could have called them for (some part of) the tow.
I didn't.

Why not?
Because I just wanted to get stuff done as quickly as possible with no fuss, no bother, just bam bam bam done.
Straight line to finish line.
And no, my auto insurance doesn't cover tires, so since there was no mechanical damage, nothing of this is covered.
Frankly, I don't much care.  I'm out of aspirin.

4061 Avebury

Friday, July 3, 2015

"Actions lie louder than words."
--Carolyn Wells--


I took a look at the blogs listed over there on the side, those I follow on Feedly.  There were 63.  I checked them all out, and many are officially dead - either private or completely gone, or haven't been updated in years.  That's sad.  Some of the dead ones were favorites, blogs I really enjoyed.  It's like old friends died, or simply moved away without leaving a forwarding address.  The ones that annoy me the most are the bloggers who built up a base of loyal readers, then turned the blog material into a book, and when the book did not become a best-seller, they quit blogging. Somethin' kinda hissy-fit about that.  Second most annoying are those who gave no indication they were quitting - just left stories unfinished and disappeared.  I don't think they realize that people really do worry about what happened.  Some people at least said goodbye.

So, I edited the list, and ended up deleting 31 -- half!  So sad.


I came across a reference today to Avebury Henge.  I've been to both Avebury Henge and Stonehenge, with Jay.  They are very close together, just a few miles by car, but they are very different.  Stonehenge feels strongly masculine, in your face.  Avebury feels definitely feminine, it moves in on you quietly.  I had no reaction at Stonehenge, beyond the generic "yeah, interesting, amazing, how?, why?" bit.  I had a very powerful reaction at Avebury.

I don't know whether it was a special day, or just that it was before they roped it off, but we were allowed to walk into Stonehenge, touch the stones, stand in the center, and all that, just like at Avebury. so it wasn't due solely to propinquity.  After Stonehenge we headed over to Avebury.

In case you don't visit any websites for Avebury, I'll tell a little.  It was built in the stone age, before metal tools.  It's older than Stonehenge, something like 4500 years old.  The henge, which is the ditch and bank around the circle of stones, was dug using picks made of deer antler, and shovels made from cow shoulder bones, and it was DEEP, and HIGH, and HUGE!  The outer circle of standing stones is the largest in the world.  Inside the outer circle were two smaller separate circles.  All three circles had a center stone.

As it probably looked then:

Currently existing stones and henge, and modern roads:

Believe it or not, a modern (relatively modern) village has been built smack in the middle:

When we first arrived, I was fine.  There were groups of people walking around.  They were chatting and laughing, taking pictures, it was a typical country outing.  Me, not so much.  The further into the site we got, the more frightened I got.  Strong feeling of foreboding. It got worse the longer we were there.

It was the middle of summer, but I became overwhelmed by fear of the coming winter, of not having enough food.  I was afraid of what we would have to do to ensure food.  It got worse and worse.  I didn't touch any of the stones.  I was afraid to.  It was like it was not me.  Someone else was in my head.

We got to what was the center of one of the inner smaller circles, and I had a vision.  There was a wooden post (not really, just in my vision).  It was the winter solstice, I think. It was dark, after sunset. The elder women of the tribe took a baby, a female infant, the female infant born closest to the solstice, took it from its mother, wrapped it in hides, and chanting, hung it like a papoose from the pole, and then left it there.  The mother knew it was for the survival of the tribe.  She cried, but did nothing else.  The baby was left there throughout the winter.  It cried for a while, but then was quiet.  This ensured good hunting and that the stored grains would be sufficient, and that illness would stay away.  The vision was very strong.  It was my baby.  This baby had to starve so the rest of us would not.  I heard it cry, and I could do nothing. It was tearing me apart.

If I looked around, I saw people on holiday, and grass, and the stones, and sun shining on everything, but at the same time I clearly saw, with the same eyes, like an overlay, darkness, packed dirt, no grass, the stones, older women with torches hanging a bundle on a pole.  My bundle.

It was all so strong I told Jay I couldn't stay another second, I couldn't visit the pub or the museum, I had to leave immediately.  I didn't tell him why, but I was trembling, and I think the look on my face convinced him.  He was pretty cool, didn't ask.  It all went away as soon as we were out of the henge.

It was like I was entered by a 4500-year-old woman, mourning her baby.  I didn't tell Jay about it.  All he knew was that I didn't like the atmosphere or something.  I've never told anyone.  Until now.

So, I see videos of modern-day Druids and people who define themselves as spiritual beating drums and waving arms and dancing around Avebury Henge in their white robes and floral headgear, and I am somehow disgusted by them.  I don't know what they think they're doing.  They natter on about convergence of ley lines, and powerful energies, and earth spirits, and I think they are deluded dip-shits, playing games.  They don't know.  They don't know how to know.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

4060 Executions, Lessons, and Carroll

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum (I think that I think, therefore I think that I am.)"
--Ambrose Bierce--


There's a lot I don't understand about the current furor about execution drugs.  I don't mean to get into a discussion of execution, that's a moral quagmire.  It's bad enough that some people think it's ok for the state to kill someone but then they object to certain means.  That seems silly, to justify killing, but then get squeamish.  I'm not sure why we'd execute them, anyway.  It's been shown that execution does not act as a deterrent, so that's not a good reason.  Some people object to paying the cost of supporting someone they consider worthless for the rest of their lives, "so let's just kill them", but that doesn't seem like a good reason.  Some are afraid that if the prisoner escapes they will do it again, so let's make sure he can never repeat the crime.  That almost feels ok to me, except that we cannot predict the future, so I'm not sure that's valid, either, especially when the sentence is not applied evenly.  And then there are those who are just angry and want to deliver the absolute vengeance.  I don't think that's our place.  Especially when we so often get it wrong.  So, anyway, I have mixed feelings about executions, and about those who are so hot for them.

But the current arguments going through the courts concern the means.  Firing squads, gas, electric chairs, nooses, whatever else, have gone away because they supposedly violate the constitutional prohibition against cruel punishment.  That stuff kind of hurts, I guess.  So, in an attempt to be "kind" (I guess), the current methods involve injections of crap that stops the heart.  And some folks object to that on the grounds that it's not entirely painless.  I haven't looked into it enough to know what pain they're talking about.  Something about it burning or causing panic or something.

Doesn't matter. 

I don't see what the problem is.  I don't understand why there's physical pain at all.  There will be psychological pain, of course, but that starts when the sentence is passed and gets worse when appeals are rejected, and no one seems to have any problem with that.  Doctors cut people open from stem to stern and rummage around in their insides every day, and there's no pain.  They just sedate you, then there's general anesthesia, and then they can administer anything they want and there's no pain.  The tricky part is the initial sedation, and I can think of a half dozen ways to make someone compliant without their cooperation.  A date rapist can tell you about three.

I don't  understand.

[I absolutely understand why one might object to execution altogether.  What I don't understand is why anyone who does approve of it would object to the means.  In my mind, if someone is going to be executed for murder, then they should die by the same means they used.  It is only just and fitting, and shows the same degree of depravity.  Even the Bible is confusing - there's that "vengeance is mine" thing, but there's also the "eye for an eye" bit.]


I came across the word "loquacious" yesterday in a blog.  It's not a word you see often these days; heck, you almost never see or hear it.  It took me back to my teaching days.

I taught high school math, and honors math for college credit.  About once every three weeks or so, I'd use a big unfamiliar word in class.  Like, I'd comment that one of the kids was unusually loquacious today, or I'd praise a kid for particular perspicacity in solving a problem, and then I'd write the unfamiliar word on the board and ask if anyone knew what that word meant, "Don't shout it out, just raise your hand if you know."

"Ok, here's the deal.  If  the day after tomorrow you bring to me a slip of paper in your own handwriting with the word and the correct definition on it, you'll get five points added to your score on the next quiz.  Yes, you can share, you can copy what someone else finds.  BUT, if it's wrong, you lose two points, so you might have to do your own research to make SURE it's right.  No paper, no problem, but no bonus, either."

Believe it or not, the kids loved it.  One day somebody said something about a confused classmate named Alice being in Wonderland.  So, naturally, the extra credit that day was "What was Lewis Carroll's real name, and what was his profession other than writer?"  [Answer:  Charles Dodgson, math teacher.  Photographer was also acceptable, although that was more of a hobby.]

Remember, this was long before even the slightest hint of the internet.  All they had was dictionaries, library books, or other adults. 


That all set me off in another chain of thought.  Charles Dodgson had a stammer.  Not like a stutter, but when you just can't get a word out at all.  When you know exactly what the word is, but it just won't come out.  He also had something like eleven siblings, every one of which also stammered.  He never married, and of his siblings, none of whom died young, only three married.  (There's a list of his siblings with dates at

His father was an archdeacon, preached sermons, didn't stammer.  All of Charles' siblings did.  Of the 12 kids, 9 never married. 

I am suspicious.  I'm wondering if there might have been abuse at home.  So I did some research.

Not a peep anywhere, good or bad.  However, after his death, some of his papers and letters were destroyed by his family, "to protect reputations".  That was the Victorian era, so dirt was well hidden, and patriarchs ruled unquestioned.  The reputations protected, by the way, were said to be women (some married) with whom he'd had affairs.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

4059 Nothing....

Saturday, June 27, 2015

In an age flooded with information people have become so inured to ignorance
that they now fear what they cannot understand.


I don't understand that green statement up there.  I added it to my list of saved quotes simply because it confuses me.  "Inured" means hardened, numbed, very used to it to the point where the condition is simply accepted and ignored.  So how does becoming inured to ignorance cause one to fear what they don't understand?  (I was tempted to say "fear what they are ignorant about", but that's not exactly what it's saying.)  I don't know exactly what it's saying.  It looks to me almost like an oxymoron.  

Opinions, anyone?


Nothing happening around here.  We'd had two weeks of near 90 degree days (with very high humidity), and today suddenly it's 67 degrees out there at 2:30 pm.  I don't understand.

I've learned a bit more about  I discovered that there's always a strong hint as to your location, no matter how desolate the area seems, somewhere up or down the road.  The trick is to find it.  Sometimes it's a road sign, sometimes it's a business beside the road, sometimes it's a clue on the side of a passing truck or bus.  You have to be careful not to zoom past passing vehicles without checking them out.  It's kind of like a road rally.  If you've gone one direction for what feels like miles and miles and have found nothing, you don't have to turn around and retrace your steps.  There's a button on the left that you can click that will take you back to the starting point, and then you can try the other direction. 

It plays with your mind.  When I see people along the road, I keep wanting to pull over and ask them where I am.

(Free hint - If every flat surface in a village is plastered with huge election posters, you're probably in Brazil.  If the land is flat and the soil is thin, and the widely-spaced trees are built like anemic broccoli spears, you are probably in southern Australia. )

Monday, June 22, 2015

4058 They know who I am...

Monday, June 22, 2015

A glorious defeat is better than victory achieved with the wrong attitude.
 – Samurai maxum --


I think GeoGuessr might have it out for me.  I had a run of especially good games lately.  I got 24988 out of 25000 on a game (five maps) a few days ago, then on the next game, yesterday, I got 24367.  That's pretty good.

This evening, the first two maps were in Bulgaria!  The first two!  TWO in a row!  Man, someplace like Bulgaria, there's virtually no way to figure out where in the country you are.  When I get something like Bulgaria, once I figure out the country, I pretty much give up and click randomly in the middle of the country.

The next one was Montana, USA.  Don't know if you've ever been to Montana, but there's miles and miles of miles and miles with few signs, and the few signs I passed were out of focus.  Thanks, Street View.   I saw one clear directional sign pointing to a town, so I just clicked on that town, figuring I had to be somewhere near.  I was almost 50 miles off.  BTW, did you know that Missoula, Montana, has an international airport?  An international airport?  It's a small city, in the mountains, major employers a university and two hospitals.  They must have a good senator.

The last two were Brazil!  Two!  One after the other in Brazil!  I have great difficulty with Brazil, because again, where GeoGuessr drops me, there's next to nothing.

Sometimes I can guess I'm somewhere in Brazil without squinting at signs, just by the highway department.  Those guys are crazy.  Like tonight I got dropped in a tiny hamlet of tiny shacks, maybe seven houses widely spaced, nothing else visible for miles and miles in either direction down the road.  But, there were two bus shelters, on either side of the road, at either end of the hamlet.  (Brazil is big on buses.) The road was marked with barred pedestrian crossing marks at the bus stops.  The speed limit was dropped to half through the hamlet, AND they had two, count 'em, TWO, fancy automated electronic speed traps at either end.  Less than a kilometer apart, mind you.  Crazy.  No route signs, or street signs, or signs pointing to towns, though.  You might get lost, but by darn you aren't going to drive dangerously, either.

Other than tonight I've been enjoying GeoGuessr.  I like when I get to wander around France, or Sweden, or Britain, or Italy, or Japan.  I look at villages and houses.  The other day they dropped me in Lesotho, so I got to learn some new stuff. 

But sometimes it's disturbingly depressing.  Once I was dropped into an area that looked incredibly economically depressed, and the houses scared me.  The buildings were obviously very old, and they looked like they had been maintained over centuries by people who owned no tools and knew nothing about building techniques.  Like an exterior wall (not just one house - it was in general) had been repaired by nailing boards up, but apparently the repairer had no measure and no saw.  The boards were random lengths, so some stuck out past the end of the building, and others stopped short, leaving a hole in the wall.  Like there'd be a two-story house, and the ends of the floor of the second story were not covered by the "siding", floor beams stuck out randomly.  I was thinking, jeeze, these people are scary!  I mean, even if you're poor, you can still figure things out and take some pride in the work.  Ok, a good saw might be expensive when you have nothing, but if everyone in the village chipped in a turnip or a cabbage, maybe you could buy/barter one saw to share. 

That was Romania (a bus went by and I got the name of the bus company), very close to the borders with Hungary and Serbia.  I don't want to go back there, not even virtually.


I guess I owe Romania an apology.  I just went there on my own with street view, and most of the areas I wandered around in are quite nice.  I guess GeoGuessr dropped me into the Romanian equivalent of Detroit (the damaged part), and you can't judge all of the US by Detroit (the damaged part) either.

4057 A week's setback at the country house

Monday, June 22, 2015

" ... the use of our intelligence quite properly gives us pleasure.
In this respect the brain is like a muscle. When we think well,
we feel good. Understanding is a kind of ecstasy."
--Carl Sagan--


I was so angry earlier today that I actually spoke the full F-word in all its glory when talking to someone on the phone.  I guarantee that was the first time in more than a decade.

I was rushing to get stuff done so that I could drive up to the country house this evening to meet the a/c installers tomorrow.  Then I checked my email.  Not the main id, the one I'd given to the a/c people to use, no, it was my secondary id.  The one I use when I'm afraid I might be inviting a torrent of spam.  The one I used way back when I was checking out a/c companies in general.

The email was from the secretary from the a/c company, informing me that my system installation is scheduled for July 1.  That's not tomorrow.  That's more than a week away.  

Why did I think it was tomorrow?  Because the owner and president of the company, the guy who came out to look at the house and assess my requirements, with whom I had been emailing back and forth, COMMITTED to tomorrow.  He had sent me the contract to sign and send back with a check, but it didn't have any dates on it.  I told him that the installation date was very important to me, and I couldn't send him a down payment  and signed contract without an installation date.  (I don't consider it a contract without a committed date, because if they couldn't do the work soon, I'd have to say no thanks and find someone else who could do it sooner.)  So, in his emailed response to me, he committed to June 23.  

I freaked.

I called the secretary and informed her that the boss had committed to tomorrow.  She (bureaucrat to the core) said that their procedure is that they don't schedule installation until the check for 1/2 the total clears, and tomorrow they've got a different job scheduled, and they can't get to me until July 1.   She just kept repeating that.  She refused to concede that I might have a valid complaint.   I informed her that :
  1.  I don't see how anyone would ever agree to that, no one should send a check without a date, what if you couldn't do the work until August, am I supposed to accept that? or plead for release from the signed contract and beg for return of my check?
  2.  I was told to send a check for 75% of the total, so, so much for your F**KING 50% DEPOSIT PROCEDURE!  Apparently sometimes your procedure is flexible.
  3.  The owner told me tomorrow.   I have it in writing, in the email.  Yes, I am thoroughly pissed, and I want some kind of concession.
  4.  I have already scheduled the furnace company for July 1 annual service.  You guys will be hooking up to the furnace ducts and fan.  Gee, I hope you can work around the furnace guy.  He has precedence because he got that date before you.
The woman needs training in customer relations.  She should have listened to my side, instead of repeating "the procedure" over and over.  She should have said she understood my problem, and said she's sorry, but there seems to have been a failure of communication on their part, and apologized for that failure.  THEN and only then, she could say that there's no way to correct it at this point, and asked if I could I possibly work with a July 1 date. 

I'm still pissed.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

4056 Andy's profile.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words.
If you can control the meaning of words,
you can control the people who must use them.
--Philip K. Dick--


I LOVE this!  It reminds me so much of Jay.  If he'd had a profile, it might have looked much like this.

Hi, my name is Andy and I am trying out the new mobile matchmaking app Tinder. I hope to find my future love on here. Thanks for checking out my profile!



Sunday, June 14, 2015

4055 An educational time-waster (oxymoron, or good excuse?)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Naturally, the common people don't want war, but after all,
it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy,
and it is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy,
or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.
Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.
This is easy.
 All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists
for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.
 It works the same in every country.
--Hermann Goering--


I've been getting to bed very late the past few nights because I've been playing with GeoGuessr (  It uses Google maps street view to drop you somewhere in the world, and then you have to figure out where you are using things like the terrain, soil type, crops, which side of the road people drive on, architectural styles, appearance of populace, and so on.  You can travel around (slowly! until you figure out the secret for moving faster) and if you are lucky you'll find a sign that might give you a hint as to the language, and if you are very lucky, you might find a highway sign pointing to a town name, and if you are very very lucky you might stumble upon a hotel, resort, or restaurant with a unique name you can find on the internet.

Purists discourage looking up names on the internet, they consider that cheating, but sheesh, even if you have honestly determined you are definitely in France, France is a pretty big country.  You have to narrow it down somehow!

In a set, you get five different locations.  A perfect score is 5,000 points, so a perfect total for the five is 25,000 points.

I usually come very close on four of them.  I've frequently been within mere feet of the target point.  I'm usually within 30 miles. (Of course, I'm not above cheating, according to the purists....)  But I always completely, utterly, embarrassingly blow one, sometimes by whole continents!  South Africa looks a lot like Australia, for Pete's sake!  Or the American mid-west.  And those central European countries, and south Asian countries, all look alike, and with weird alphabets even if I do find a non-blurred sign, I can't search the internet for it.  It's usual I'll get only a few hundred points on those, and a couple times it's been a big fat 0 (you have to be on the wrong side of the globe to get that, DAMN! South Africa is NOT in Kansas!).  So my total for five maps usually runs around 18,800 points.

Play with it when you have some time.  Don't get discouraged too soon, it does take a little time to figure out how to, uh, cheat.  But it's fun, and it's amazing how much of the world looks like Kansas.

And if you do try it, please leave a comment. 


I'm working on one right now --- see my comment attached -------------

Saturday, June 13, 2015

4054.1 Jumping in Muddy Puddles

I don't know if anyone can see this. Please let me know...............

4054 A bit of worry, averted

Saturday, June 13, 2015

"[T]he West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion
but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence.
Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do."
--Samuel Huntingdon--


My neighbor George is getting up there in years.  The 19-year-old who mows my lawn (significantly, he does not mow George's lawn) is his great-grandson, and not the oldest one, either.  When I first moved up here, George did a lot of heavy work around his house, like, with my blessing, removing the fence between our front yards, which included digging up the concrete footings for the posts and loading the metal and concrete chunks into his truck.

The past year or two he's slowed down.  He sold his truck last year.  Lately I sometimes see him just standing in his yard, slumped, with his head down.  Like he was resting.  He goes to the deli for a newspaper every morning, and lately he just sits in the car for a while before starting it, and when he gets back he sits in the car with the door open for a few minutes before getting out and climbing the steps to the yard.

For the past several days I hadn't seen him at all.  It's been hot and very humid, so I figured he was just staying in to stay cool.  

I've been a bit worried about him.

Late this morning the street filled up with cars, the earliest arrivals were the grandchildren (the whole family lives right around here) and then many more people arrived with covered dishes.  Many people.  Most were wearing black. 

I got a little freaked out. 

And then someone arrived and called from the street, "Happy birthday, George!", and George stepped out his front door to wave.  I was amused to see he was wearing a bright Hawaiian shirt instead of his usual dark t-shirt or plaid flannel.  

Happy birthday, George.   Glad you're still having them.

4053 Stuff --- Duh Stuff; Yeah Stuff; Other Stuff

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Sometimes when you look in his eyes you get the feeling that someone else is driving.


I read this and tucked it away some months ago, and then forgot about it, so I don't have the source or dates any more, but that really doesn't matter.  This is the output of professional writers, pro reporters.  They were PAID for this blather.  Duh.
Regarding the train derailment at O'Hare airport, "It appears as though the train would have been going faster than a train normally birthing at this station would be," he [the spokesman] said. "Normally a train pulls in at just a couple miles and hour and pulls into the station. Obviously this train did not stop so speed could be a factor here."
"... it was immediately unknown if the train's motorman had some sort of medical problem prior to the crash"

Immediately unknown?  Wow.  Birthing?  Trains have babies?  I suspect they meant "berth", but even then, berth applies to ships, not trains.   Speed could be a factor?  No kidding!  Typo - and/an.  Try proofreading.

Regarding the plane that disappeared:
"MH370 flew along the southern corridor and it’s last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean west of Perth," Prime Minister Rajak said at Putra World Trade Centre Monday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. "This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sights."
 It's/its.  Sights/sites.

Sigh.  Journalism schools ain't what they used to be.


Go to to see the contestants in the 2013 Miss World pageant, modelling creations from "Indonesia's elite fashion designers".  We are told this is not a joke.  I don't believe that - those are some of the ugliest dresses ever!  Perhaps it was a test for the contestants, to see if they could walk down the runway in an embarrassing dress, and carry it off.


I had to read this several times to figure out why it confused me:  "Most classes fill up quickly, but will be held only if the minimum number of students registers."  The problem is that the subject of the sentence is "most classes", so the "will be held" doesn't apply to the subject.


This one I also found a long time ago.  My note on it says "lifehacker".   There is a, but I don't know for sure that's where I found it.  Whatever -- I don't want to lose it.
You don't get very far with silence. You won't always know the right thing to say, and if you say what you think or feel you might get it wrong. That doesn't mean the conversation that follows won't be for the best. Saying the wrong thing can often be the impetus for the right discussion. It's then that you find it's better to say something stupid than nothing at all.
Words to speak by.


I found out a while ago that anyone under 4'10" is legally considered a "little person".  Wow.  If I were still working, I'd check into what that might mean.  Maybe I'd have been able to demand a chair that FIT me.

By the way, I find "little person" offensive.  It sounds demeaning, like I am of no consequence.  


I scream inside every time I see or hear "orientate".  Paul Niquette has written an excellent short essay on the topic, at

(If you have a little time for browsing and love words, wander around, click tabs under "Books".)


"If the referee doesn't call a foul, it's not a foul." People say this about traffic violations. I strongly disagree! That's like saying that if someone wasn't arrested and charged with the murder, then there wasn't a murder.

A few years ago there was a big fuss about traffic tickets being issued based on traffic cameras in Arizona.  There were actual real people screaming bloody murder that if a policeman (referee) didn't see them running the stop sign, or the red light, or speeding, then there was no violation!

I call bullshit! 

This argument seems to be starting up again.  A lot of people seem to think that a camera catching them doing something illegal is a violation of their privacy, and that the only purpose of traffic cameras is to generate money in the form of fines.  Um, if you don't want to pay the fine, don't break the law.  And if you don't want the cameras, are you willing to pay taxes high enough to have a referee/cop on every street corner?  No?  You just want to be free to do whatever you want, whenever you want, wherever you want, as long as Daddy doesn't see you..

I'm all for traffic cameras.  Maybe it's the "mother gene" - mothers are all for eyes in the back of their heads.


Tuesday, June 09, 2015

4052 Catching up on photos

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

"[T]he more a person deems absolute equality among all people to be
a desirable condition, the further left he or she will be on the ideological spectrum.
The more a person considers inequality to be unavoidable or even desirable,
the further to the right he or she will be.
--Roderick Stackelberg, Hitler's Germany, Routledge, 1999, pp. 4–6


I've got a backlog of photos I want to post - because I like to keep stuff here, if for no other reason.

This is a portrait of me that Nugget drew last week.  Apparently it is usual for her age group (recently turned 4) to have the arms and legs coming directly out of the head.   Kind of makes me wonder - I know she's very aware that people have torsos (she comments on my big boobies and belly often enough!), so why do they leave it out?  Is it that arms and legs and heads are so much more important?  I thought it was interesting that she very carefully drew in the fingers and toes.

This is the dandelions in my city house front yard last month.  I dragged out the vacuum cleaner and sucked up as much of the seed heads as I could, because I knew if the mower-kid mowed that mess, dandelions would take over the entire neighborhood.  Then I spread a weed killer/fertilizer mix.  It looks a little better now.

This is one of the five daffodil beds at the country house, this past spring.  Late April, I think.  There are several varieties in there.  This is looking up from the end of the driveway toward the house, which is beyond the brow of the hill.

 This is a bit of the side yard at the country house.  Pretty, isn't it?  I hate to give it up.

Snake!  He's coming down from inside the exterior siding near the front door of the country house.   I think each of those tiles is 6" square (the photo angle makes them look rectangular, but they are square), so if you straighten him out, that makes him about 36" long!  At his thickest middle, he was an inch and a half wide.  They can get up to almost 4 feet long, but I'd never seen one before as big as this one.

I had some Lincoln Logs here for a while, waiting for the Nugget to get old enough to be interested.  We got them out the other day.  Her Daddy built the section of barn to the right.  Nugget built the section to the left.  So far, there's no evidence of a budding architect.

Nugget's nursery school has special days, like "silly hat day", "pajama day", "funny hair day", and so on.  The next four photos are from two "funny hair" days (I wonder what boys do for funny hair....).  Daughter was very creative.

(Mouth full of peaches.)

Side view.

Another funny hair day.  She had been watching Sesame Street on TV when "the pee-pee urge" hit.  I came around the corner and found this.    Usually she uses a ring that fits in the seat of the grown-up toilet, but she didn't want to miss any of the show, so she dug out her baby potty and set up shop in front of the TV.

My lava lamp.  Sometimes when it's warming up, things get interesting.


Sunday, June 07, 2015

4051 Outside the box.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Homophobia: The fear that gay men will treat men the way men treat women.


Nugget is very "into" clothes.  I don't know where she got that.  She especially loves "tutu-looking" skirts, and sparkles, bangles, and sequins.

A while ago she was wearing a straight, knee-length, rib-knit skirt with a t-shirt over.  I was a bit surprised by the skirt, not her usual style, so I complemented her on her grown-up look.  

She replied that it looked grown-up because it was her mother's.

"Your mother's skirt fits you?  Wow!"

"No, it's not her skirt."  She lifted the t-shirt to show me.

She was wearing one of her mother's tank tops as a dress/skirt.  Because it was a stretchy rib-knit it fit her perfectly as a dress (except for being a bit low-cut, hence the t-shirt).

Cool idea.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

4050 Up the river

Saturday, June 6, 2015

"I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."
 --Sir Winston Churchill--


Last Monday, June 1st, I drove up to the country house in the morning to meet the a/c man in the afternoon, to discuss getting central air there.   The house has a 30-year-old water-based heat pump for a/c, but the well water is so hard and so silty the coils are clogged up, and it hasn't worked in years.

It hadn't been too much of a problem when I lived there for several reasons:
- There were only a few days in July, usually, when the outdoor temp got over 90,
- I could pop the attic hatch and open the basement door, and then the attic fan pulled cool air from the basement,
- Since I was there all the time and could keep "on top of it", it never got out of hand.

But the past few summers there have been whole weeks with outdoor temps well over 90.  And if I arrive at the house and it's already super hot in there, I can't get it cooled down enough in an afternoon to be able to sleep there.  Plus, age seems to have made me much less tolerant of temperature extremes.

So, I need central air to get anything done up there.

I settled on one of the largest and oldest family-owned heating/cooling/plumbing companies in the area - they have lots of people, support a variety of systems, and their reviews are very good.  The owner himself came out to look at the place.  It's all good.  I have confidence.  He sent a chart of all my options as to size and add-ons, and I've chosen the middle one as being adequate and the best price.  So now I'm just waiting to hear when they can get started.  He said it would take one day (!) to install it and have it up and running, and then one day to remove the miserable heat pump.  And he did give me a price for the whole job, NOT an estimate.

The deck across the back of the house is rotting.  I had thought I'd have to replace the whole thing - it's over 30 years old.  I had expected it would cost a fortune.  But when we were walking under it, he said no, only the decking needs replacing.  It's not rotted, just all dried out and warped from the sun.  He said the underpinnings, posts and beams, are fine.  Wow!  That means I can just hire the Hairless Hunk to replace the deck!  I'm excited.

I'm pretty dense sometimes.  I told him how much I love the area, and how I really would like to keep the house, but it's just too much to keep up.  He asked if I'd be happy with a townhouse or condo.  I am so dense!  It was like a revelation!  Yes!  I could sell the house, and find something else, maybe something tiny, like an efficiency apartment.  Heck, I'd mainly be going up there for events and stuff, not to just sit inside, so I don't need more than a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and closet.  

Yeah.  I'm getting excited again.

I went online and searched for condos and such in north-western Dutchess county.  There's not much in the areas where I'd want to live.  There's new "senior housing" right in the village, that would be ideal, I've seen the place, it's nice, they have 1-bedroom apartments, balconies, pool, the usual, but they have income limits - and I'm past the limit by a bit.  (If I could invent a fake husband to share the place with me, then I'm within the limits for two.)  There's nothing like apartment buildings anywhere near the village.  I guess there are downsides to rural living.  I do want to find someplace in the Rhinebeck-to-Tivoli area, though.  I really like all the farms and orchards, historic mansions, woods and trails, the fairgrounds, all that.

And mainly, the CLEAN AIR!

Oh, well, plenty of time to work on that.

I returned to the city house on Wednesday, late.  

Monday, June 01, 2015

4049 Change done.

Monday, June 1, 2015

"I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends... that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them."

--Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.---


Update to the prior post, #4048:

Bruce Jenner is now Caitlyn Jenner, is now "she" (if you watched the interview you understand the special significance of the pronoun), and is on the cover of the next issue of "Vanity Fair".

Google "Caitlyn Jenner" and click on "images", or go to


She doesn't look 65. Maybe I should try for sexual reasignment. "I want to be transformed into a 39-year-old woman, please."

4048 Changing

Monday, June 1, 2015

"It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished
unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets."


Didja hear they caught a 3-D printer sneakily printing a 3-D printer?


Why do they always give me cole slaw with my pastrami ruben? Can one overdose on cabbage?


I watched the Diane Sawyer / Bruce Jenner interview the other day, on YouTube, and I'm glad I did.  A lot of my questions about what's going on with him were answered, and I'm left with a lot of respect for Bruce.

But (sigh) there's still so much I don't understand.  So many men (people assigned male, raised as male, whatever... I'm not sure what words to use) who want to transition to female seem to be obsessed with dresses, makeup, high heels, all the trappings.  I don't understand that.

I am 100% female, no question about it, and yet I can't remember the last time I wore a dress (caftans and mu'u-mu'us don't count), or the last time I wore a heel higher than 1.5 inches.  I did wear makeup to a Meetup dinner last Wednesday, but it felt strange (clownish) and I'm pretty sure that was the first time in at least a year. Clothes, shoes, lipstick and eyeliner don't make me feminine.  I'm not sure what does, but I guarantee everyone who sees me knows I'm 100% heterosexual female.

Seems to me these guys just need to get rid of the beard, change the voice, dump the muscles (hormones should fix all that), practice (slightly!) softer movements, and then just wear whatever's comfortable, like lifelong mature women do.  Don't go all girly, for pity's sake.  BE female!  Don't go all female impersonator.

But, like I said, I don't understand, so obviously I don't know what I'm talking about.


This all reminds me of something that happened many decades ago, I don't remember when or where exactly, probably in the mid-70s.  Back then anyone contemplating a sex change had to endure major psychiatric counseling, and had to pretty much prove their seriousness through all kinds of sometimes humiliating exercises.

I was in a checkout line at a grocery store.  At the end of the checkouts, against the windows near the door, where everyone had to pass him? her? was a person. I'll use "him", because I'm pretty sure he was not very far into the process.

He was at least six feet tall, broad-shouldered, square-jawed, wearing high heels, a beautiful lavender dress with Victorian lace trim down the bodice, shoulder-length brown hair, matching earrings and bracelet set, perfect understated makeup, and holding one of those two-handled purses that, let's face it, no one runs errands with.  It was obvious he'd put a lot of care into his appearance.  He was dressed like for Easter Sunday services at a southern Baptist church, minus the enormous flowered hat.

It was also obvious he was supremely uncomfortable.  This was obviously an "exercise", a test.  Just standing there, being judged by every person leaving the store.

All the people in front of me in the checkout lane were whispering, pointing, rolling their eyes, and making no effort to hide it.  As they walked past him to the exit, they avoided looking at him.

Me?  I thought that dress was the most beautiful color I'd ever seen.  On my way out I stopped in front of him, looked at the lace front of the dress, and looked up (way up) at his eyes.  They were so sad, like he was begging me not to say anything nasty.

I smiled, and said, "That dress is the most beautiful color I've ever seen.  It looks good on you."

I have never forgotten the smile I got.   The light in his eyes.  I hope he made it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

4047 IRS Data Breach

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The singer is gone, but the song goes on.


The IRS announced yesterday that there has been a major breach in data security.   Identity thieves have obtained "prior-year tax-return information for about 104,000 U.S. households".

There is a short Wall Street Journal article about what it means, and what taxpayers should watch for and do, at


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

4046 Not a swamp cooler

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Contrary to what conservatives seem to believe, social programs are not socialism.


Well, back in post 4041, I mentioned that Piper was all excited about a type of a/c system he wanted me to consider for the country house.  Being Piper, he snail-mailed me a brochure, rather than sending a link.  The brochure arrived today.

In the past he has tried to talk me into window units.  I explained to him that all the windows in that house are vertical windows that crank outward, hinged on the side, so you can't put window units in them, so then he wanted me to cut holes in the walls and install window units.  I told him he's nuts.  No way I'm cutting holes in the walls to permanently install ugly temporary units.  Then he found this new thing.  "A small box you just hang on the wall!  No holes!"  I didn't see how from his description it could possibly work, unless he was talking about swamp coolers.

a) It's not a swamp cooler.
b) It does require holes.  LOTS of them.
c) He obviously had no idea what he was talking about.

It's called an "electric ductless heating and cooling system".  Piper seems to think you just hang it on the wall, plug it in, and it works, like a window unit, but without the window.  Poor Piper.  Sometimes I wonder how he avoids accidentally poisoning himself.

The ductless system might be a good idea if you don't already have ductwork!  Like new construction, or if you have baseboard heat, or there's no space for ductwork, or whatever.  The only advantage I can see is in those cases.   With ductless a/c, you have the usual outdoor compressor, and the usual "fluid" that gets compressed and expanded to exchange heat.  If you have ductwork, the cooled air is then blown into the ductwork thence to the rooms.  With the ductless system, the cooled "fluid" passes through copper tubing installed in the walls to the individual units in every room, where fans in the units blow air over the tubing and thence throughout the room.

So you don't "just hang it on the wall".  

I'd need 6 to 8 units for the country house, and tubing and wiring fed through the walls to the units.  Once in place, the units cannot be easily moved, which takes careful planning for air penetration, circulation, and furniture placement.  In my living room, I currently have three or four ducted vents, all blowing air.  Going ductless, I'd have one source of cooled air in that large room.  There's got to be a comfort factor there.  Also, using the ducts, the air is filtered and circulated throughout the house.  These wall units don't circulate the air except in that one room, so things will probably get stuffy.  And although the manufacturers claim they do dehumidify, more than a few reviewers complain that the wall units frost up or drip water in humid conditions.

The distributors claim it's cheaper to install and operate.
a) They are counting the cost of having ductwork installed.  I already have that.
b) They figure a 30% loss of efficiency through temperature loss in the ductwork - but to get those figures, they assume the ductwork is uninsulated, and in the (hot) attic or exterior walls.  My ductwork is insulated, and is in the basement ceilings.
So in my case there are not only no savings, installation actually costs about 30% more.

So, thanks Piper, but no thanks.


Why is the American robin always described as having a red breast?  You know, Robin Red-Breast?  It's not red.  The closest it comes to red is rust, which is not red.  If I had to color a robin given a small box of Crayola crayons, I'd have to choose the orange, with maybe a little brown blended in, not the red crayon.  


4045 -ough

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Capitalism in its mature form is corporate fascism. Fascism is the end game of capitalism.


A rough, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman emerged from a slough to walk through the streets of Scarborough, coughing and hiccoughing.

The above sentence illustrates eight standard "Queen's English" ways to pronounce "ough".  

Of course, the actual number of pronunciations depends on local and regional dialects.  In the US, "slough" has so many variations that it's simply avoided.

I thought it was interesting.

Monday, May 25, 2015

4044 Explosions and Implosions

Monday, May 25, 2015

“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost.”
J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings


I don't know how I've missed this.  There's something called Intermittent Explosive Disorder (use that term for an internet search) currently categorized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) under the "Disruptive, Impulse-Control, and Conduct Disorders" category, characterized by explosive outbursts of anger, often to the point of rage, that are disproportionate to the situation at hand.  Someone can be going along just fine, and then some tiny thing will suddenly set them off, and they explode into a fury of aggression.  Sometimes it's loud verbal abuse, sometimes it's a physical attack on a person, sometimes it's destruction of property.

Quoting from Wikipedia, "Some individuals have reported affective changes prior to an outburst (e.g., tension, mood changes, energy changes, etc.). ... Aggressive acts are frequently reported accompanied by a sensation of relief and in some cases pleasure, but often followed by later remorse."

Hmmmm.  "Affective changes."  I wonder if that's what I was sensing when I knew ahead of time when my father was most dangerous.  I have described it as a peculiar smell he'd get sometimes.  If I walked into the house and smelled that smell, I'd turn around and walk out, find somewhere else to be for a few hours.  Some of the individuals describe sweating or other physical changes when it's "coming on".   And I always did think his rages were fun for him, that he enjoyed them.

I've known several people like that over the years.  People you have to tiptoe around, because you never know what will set them off.  They frighten me.  A lot.


I found a very good article on introversion.  I am an introvert.  On a scale of 1 to 10 on introversion, I'm probably a 9.5.  People keep accusing me of being shy, but I'm not at all shy.  I am a classic introvert.  Daughter keeps pushing me, "You need to get out more, Mom.  You need a social life."  Um, no, I don't.

Shy people are self-conscious.  Self-consciousness has nothing to do with introversion (an introvert can also be self-conscious, but it's a separate thing).  Introversion is an entirely different thing.  To an introvert socializing, especially with people you don't know well, inconsequential "chit-chat", is extremely tiring, draining, it feels downright stupid, and withdrawing to recharge is essential.  It's why whenever I visit people, I always stay at a hotel, not at their home.  I need to be able to get away, to be alone.  To pull myself back together.  I need time with me.  I like time with me.  I am most whole when I am alone.

If you know anyone you think is shy, please please a thousand times please read this:

If you've ever wondered why I hate the telephone, read it.
If you've ever wondered why I don't "chat" with people, read it.
If you've ever wondered why I  don't go to happy hours, read it.
If you've ever thought I'm antisocial, wondered why I stand in corners, read it.

The article is so good I want to print it off before it disappears, but I have not yet hooked up the new printer, so I'm getting a little frantic.  I want to have a hundred copies, so I can hand them out every time someone tries to drag me into a group,  with "You're too shy!  Nobody's going to hurt you!"  No, they will drain every ounce of my psychic energy with blather.

Bull shit!  Read and learn!

4043 Nightmares

Monday, May 25, 2015

India, according to the BBC, is having one hell of a heat wave.  They said on the radio today that the temperature has hit 122 F in some areas.  Wells have gone dry.  A man interviewed said that birds are falling dead out of the trees like leaves, and in residential areas it's even hotter outside than the weather service says because air conditioners are running full blast, pumping more heat out.  More than 400 people have died.   It could get worse because farmers can't work in their fields or get to their animals, and animals are dying, so there will be food shortages.  People are praying for monsoon season ... which may be delayed because of El Nino-like conditions.

The BBC also reports a serious bird flu epidemic in American chicken coops, so we will see egg prices, and the prices of everything that uses eggs, go way up.

I like the BBC.  They report on stuff that matters, everywhere.  US news outlets are useless.


I remember in the late 1950s, when we lived in Ottawa, we had a few days of 120 F.  Nobody had a/c then.  I don't remember how we coped.  I do remember my mother saying over and over, "This is Canada!  It's not supposed to get hot!"


Have you heard about the young woman found early last Friday in a Maryland playground pushing her dead three-year-old son on a swing?  It's such a sad story.  People who live near the park said they saw her there pushing the swing the evening before.  Authorities think she may have been there all night, pushing the child on the swing.  They think she was in emotional shock, deep in denial, pushing the swing to make the child happy.  Maybe if I keep pushing him he'll come back.

The mother is still in the hospital. She's apparently not yet coherent.  None of the many articles has mentioned a husband or family.  I'm not sure they know who she is.  An autopsy on the child has shown no cause of death.  A toxicology report will take a while longer.  I was a bit frustrated by the report, because it didn't say how long he had been dead.

I feel so bad for that woman.

I have this scenario in my head, completely made up, where the child had asked to go to the playground, and she said no, so he threw a tantrum, and she left him alone in his room to cry it out.  She thought he cried himself to sleep, so she left him alone, and then later found him cold and gone.  In her overwhelming grief and guilt, she took him to the playground, and pushed him on the swing, trying to make it all better. 

A mother's nightmare.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

4042 Sorry, Seinfeld fans....

Saturday, May 23, 2015

"Seinfeld" has been off the air for 17 years.  Let it go, folks!  I'm still hearing/reading about it, and I'm done.

I hated the show when it was on.  I didn't find it in the least bit funny (with the exception of Kramer, I guess).  I despised the characters, especially Elaine, who needed a good slapping.  They were simply not nice people, and I hated the thought that there were viewers who thought that what they did was amusing and deserving of emulation.  Like when George was so happy with his hairpiece, and she snatched it and threw it out the window.  How was that funny?  She had no right to do that.  If I were George, I'd have beat the crap out of her - and there was a lot of crap in her to beat out. 

Seinfeld himself wasn't to be emulated either.  In his middle 30s in real life he was dating a 17-year-old.  After 4 years he dumped her for a woman who had been married only three weeks.  She got a divorce and they got married.  I figure she was a very accomplished gold-digger, and I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, so you know I must have some strong feelings here.

I really didn't like that show.  I really don't like Jerry, even though I have to give him some credit - his act is one of the cleaner ones in a world of foul-mouthed "comedians".

Is my age showing?

4041 Swamp cooler

Saturday, May 23, 2015

I'm going to have the heat pump a/c at the country house replaced with a standard compressor-type a/c system.  Piper is trying to talk me into choosing an evaporative system instead (also known as a "swamp cooler", not because they are used in swamps, but because they can smell like one).  They are less expensive to install and less expensive to run, especially given the cost of electricity in the Mid-Hudson Valley.

However, the freakin' things don't work in high humidity!  Yeah, they're great in Texas, or Arizona, and they've been used for centuries in the Middle East, but they simply don't work in areas where the humidity gets above 50%, maximum.  Because, uh, duh, they depend on evaporation, which doesn't work well when the dew-point is 70 degrees. It's not often that high in the Mid-Hudson Valley - only on very hot days, which is exactly when it matters.  Sheesh.

I've given up arguing with him.  He tends to fall for every sales pitch.  I've warned him over and over that you don't get information on which to base buying decisions from the guys selling things - you get information from actual users or disinterested parties.  But he doesn't use the internet at all, except to follow "cookbook" directions for email, so he doesn't research things.

He says it's not the same thing as a swamp cooler at all, and he's sending me some brochures, and I've promised to look at them, but ....


4040 Final bird entry

Saturday, May 23, 2015

I found the baby bird dead Wednesday morning.  I think there was something wrong with him all along.  He never made the fecal sacs that chicks his age are supposed to make, and his cloaca looked prolapsed.  It may have happened when he fell from the nest, or it may have been that way all along so he'd been kicked out of the nest.  We'll never know.

I called Daughter, and she was sad.  She told Nugget, and Nugget was excited, wanted to see the bird right away.
 "Aren't you sad?"
"No.  I like to see dead bodies!"

Oh, my.  Not sure what's going on with that kid.

Well, Daughter has a lot of anatomy books, has even participated in a human dissection, maybe that explains it?

Hercules, Daughter, and Nugget left Thursday for a five-day trip to West Virginia (some kind of caching shindig) and Pennsylvania (Hercules' family), so there wasn't time for a proper funeral.  So the bird is in a box in a freezer bag in my freezer.  Daughter said I could go ahead and bury him while they were away, but I don't want to --- mainly because I am incapable of digging a hole these days, and putting him out with the garbage is distasteful.  On the other hand, given Nugget's ghoulish fascination with "dead bodies", maybe it's a good idea if she doesn't know where he's buried.


More chain-jerks:
  • Weary and wary are different words.
  • We are all frustrated by "I could care less" (meaning "I couldn't care less").  Believe it or not, in the past few days I have seen at least three examples in three different places, of  "I could careless."  Don't people think about what they say (write) anymore?
  • Exacerbate and exasperate are different words.
  • Disorientate is not a word.  Yes, disorientation is the noun, but the verb is simply disorient.  Same with orientate/orientation/orient. 
  • This one drives me crazy:  "calm, cool, and collective."  That one I hear as well as read.  How does one be collective?
  • Sew and sow are different words.  You can't sew the seeds of discord.
  • Invite is a verb.  It is not a noun. 
  • Ask is a verb.  You don't have an ask of someone.  You have a request or a question.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

4039 Pill Bugs and Horseshoe Crabs

Sunday, May 17, 2015

I read a lot.  Most of the day, in fact.  But even though I keep buying books, most of them are in the "to read" stack.  Most of my reading is on the internet.  I start with something, and start following links, and next thing I know hours have passed.

Earlier today Daughter asked if we could feed the baby bird pill bugs.  I started looking, and ended up fascinated.  Did you know that pill bugs (a.k.a. roly-poly, sowbug, wood louse) aren't insects at all?  They are crustaceans, descended from trilobites, and directly related to horseshoe crabs.  They breathe with gills. That's why they need to stay in moist areas.  They, along with the horseshoe crabs, evolved many eons ago, when there was more copper in the oceans than iron, so their blood is copper-based, not iron-based, and so their blood is blue, not red.

Birds do love to eat them, but rarely find them because they stay in dark places, and are active at night.

However, pill bugs suffer from a parasite that warps their minds.  The parasite eggs are in bird poop.  When the pill bugs eat the bird poop, the eggs hatch inside them and take over their brains, causing them to go out in the open in daylight, where birds find them and eat them.  The parasite grows in the birds from the larval stage to the adult stage, mate, lay eggs in the birds' digestive tract, and then the eggs are pooped out, to be eaten by more pill bugs.

So yes, we can feed the baby bird pill bugs, but only those captured in dark places.  None found out in the open.

Cool, huh?

(Earthworms have the same parasite, with the same life cycle, but it doesn't take over their brains.  The parasite is dangerous for baby birds because the first stage of the parasite is spent in the bird's trachea, where they grow into wormy things, and then when it gets to adult stage it moves to the esophagus, and if there is a large infestation, it can impede the bird's breathing.  So it's not a good idea to feed baby birds worms.  Which I don't understand, because parent birds feed chicks worms all the time.  Another interesting note - chickens won't touch a pill bug.)