Saturday, August 01, 2015

4081 Conversation with my heir apparent

Sunday, August 1, 2015

Only after the last tree has been cut down.
Only after the last river has been poisoned.
Only after the last fish has been caught.
Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.
--Cree Prophecy--

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Bombing down the highway in the BMW convertible, top down, wind in our hair, sun on our faces.  We pull into my driveway and stop, and then there's a 4-year-old voice from the toddler seat in the back:

Gramma?

Yeah?

When you die...

Yeah?

Can I have this car?

Yeah. You can have all my jewelry, too.

OK.  But don't die until I can reach the pedals.
.

Friday, July 31, 2015

4080 I don't know what to say

Friday, July 31, 2015

"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle."
--George Orwell--

-------------------------------------------------------------

I wrote a while ago about the guy who wants to do away with spelling altogether, who advocates that everyone should spell words phonetically exactly the way they pronounce them, with no such thing as correct spelling.  I see that leading to massive failures in written communication and the demise of reading.  That post is here:
http://thesilkentouch.blogspot.com/2013/03/3703-demise-of-communication.html 

Well just a few minutes ago I came across this gem:  a woman wrote that such-and-such is "the best casonario."

I had several reactions in rapid succession, well, pretty much all at the same time.
  1. I understood exactly what she meant.
  2. I laughed.
  3. I was horrified that this is where education is heading.
  4. I was horrified that although she knew what she wanted to convey, she didn't know what words she was saying, she was just reproducing the sounds.
  5.  I was grateful that she could at least pronounce it correctly.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

4079 Thrifty, not stingy or miserly, though.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Henry Louis Mencken, on Shakespeare: "After all, all he did was
string together a lot of old, well-known quotations."

-----------------------------------------------------

I know I'm thrifty.  Daughter rolls her eyes when I wash and reuse zip-lock bags.  (That, by the way, is not just thrift, it's also environmental consciousness.)

I didn't really realize how downright cheap I am until my bath this morning.

Yesterday I decided to take a shower in the front bathroom (the shower in my bathroom is broken and I wanted to wash my hair).  That room is set up for the Nugget, so there's baby shampoo, baby wash, and her washcloths and towels, so I gathered up some supplies from the bathroom I usually use.  I was digging around in my soap stash in the cabinet for extra soap and shampoo.  I buy stuff like Dove, Cashmere Bouquet, Casswell-Massey florals, but I never get to use them because Daughter is always giving me gifts of handmade craft soaps, and fragrant oil soaps from India, which I use because she'd be disappointed if she didn't see them out and smell them on me, and she thinks I love them.

I grabbed a Cashmere Bouquet to take to the other bathroom, and had a very happy luxurious-smelling creamy-lathered shower.

So, this morning, bath in my usual bathroom.  The soap dish contained an oatmeal-infused block of craft soap Daughter had given me more than a year ago, and an unidentified French-milled scentless blue oval.  I groaned and used the craft soap, and for the thousandth time thought about throwing it away and opening a Dove.  I wish that stuff would hurry up and get used up, but it lasts forever!  

Yeah, I simply cannot throw out a bar of soap until it's so small it falls apart.

Yeah, I am cheap!  I just can't do it.

I guess.

After my bath I had a wonderful idea.  I'm going to let those bars dry thoroughly, then wrap them in Saran, put them in the stash, and break out a Dove, or a Casswell-Massey.  After I'm dead, Daughter will merrily throw them out, so I don't have to feel guilty.

Oh, and sometime soon I'm going to have to tell her that I don't like "fancy" soaps, so please stop buying them for me.  That might take a lot more courage than I have.

-------------------------------------------------------------

The phrase "until it's so small it falls apart" reminded me of something that was a general practice when I was young.  Everyone, everyone I knew, anyway, used up every bit of a bar of soap in one of two ways:
  • You'd put the worn-down slivers in a jar, and when the jar was 2/3 full you'd pour in boiling water to cover the bits of soap, and they'd melt down and make a liquid soap you could use as a body wash, or to wash lingerie, or your hair, or anything else.  For some unknown reason it stayed nice for ages, no mold, no sour.
  • Or, you'd knit or crochet or sew a small flat bag, put the chips in it, and use it as an already-soapy washcloth, until the chips were used up, then you'd refill it.
Maybe this was all left over from the days before commercial soaps, when you had to make your own, and it wasn't easy to make it or cheap to buy it, so the habit of soap-thrift got passed down grandmother to granddaughter

Good theory, but it doesn't explain the zip-lock bags, or washing and reusing aluminum foil, or using both sides of every sheet of paper and making shopping lists on the backs of envelopes bills came in.

I'm thrifty.
.

Monday, July 27, 2015

4078 Righty tighty

Monday, July 27, 2015

The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times 
the same good things for the first time.
--Friedrich Nietzsche--
 
----------------------------------------------------------------------
 
I have never understood the popularity of "Righty tighty, lefty loosey."  It makes no sense to me.
 
I often look at the direction of the screw cuts (or whatever those things are called) on screws, bolts, nuts, lightbulbs, everything, before attempting to screw them in.  Loosening and tightening if I can't see the cuts is not as easy.  When I used to express confusion about which way to turn things, other people (Daughter in particular, she's downright nasty about it) roll their eyes and say "righty tighty, lefty loosey", like it solves the whole problem.

It doesn't.

Imagine yourself looking at a bolt sticking up vertically out of a machine, with a nut on it.  You pick up a wrench, fit it to the bolt and now you tighten it.  Righty tighty, right?  Which direction does your hand move?  Your hand moves to the left.  The wrench handle moves to the left, all the way down the wrench to the center of the bolt.  The far TIP of the wrench moves right.  The nut itself moves clockwise, technically neither left nor right, or both left and right.

Now stick that bolt down out of the ceiling.  In that position, which way does your hand move, or the wrench?  Which way is right or left?  The only thing that always moves the same way is the nut.  It always moves clockwise.

How do the hands on a clock move?  Left or right?

See the confusion?  
 
That old "Righty tighty, lefty loosey" saw is not helpful, and can actually be confusing to a lot of people. It's popular because it's catchy.  People seem to prefer catchy to clear.  
 
I propose that we change it to "Clockwise tight, counterclockwise loose."  Not as catchy, but it no longer depends on your orientation and it always works.  It's clear.

Next time you tighten or loosen something, ask yourself if you are really thinking in terms of left and right, even as you're repeating the saw in your head, or if you are actually thinking  about a clock face.

I'm willing to bet you're thinking about a clock.
.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

4077 Something else to worry about

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Interesting fact: A day on Venus is longer than a year on Venus.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

An 18-year-old college student has posted a video on YouTube that has had by now a few million views.  It shows a quadcopter-drone with a mounted semi-automatic pistol, that fires at targets.

I'm not surprised.  Mounting guns on drones is not new.  What's new is that this is the small drone that anyone can buy and fly.

You thought cameras on drones were a possible threat?

If you haven't heard of it yet, go to YouTube.com and search for "drone gun".  (I'm not including a link because any iterations I link might be taken down.)
.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

4076 HOTW - Omar Sharif

Saturday, July 25, 2015

You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your
informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant."
--Harlan Ellison--

---------------------------------------------------



I just discovered that Omar Sharif died about 2 weeks ago.  He deserves a Honey of the Week honor, although to tell you the truth, I never felt the kind of tummy-tickle that most of my HOTWs gave me.  I really liked the way he did make me feel, but I think at the same time I was a bit in awe of him.  He was an amazingly accomplished man.

I happen to own the thobe he wore in the night camp scene in the movie "Hidalgo".  It thrills me just to know that it had touched his body.
.

4075 Weight and remembrance.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

"By a curious confusion, many modern critics have passed from the proposition
that a masterpiece may be unpopular
to the other proposition that unless it is unpopular
it cannot be a masterpiece."
-- G. K. Chesterton --

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I'm now at 150 lbs, and have been for quite a while.  That may not seem like all that terribly much, but remember that I am about 4'9" tall.  On a regular-sized woman, that might be equivalent to over 180 lbs.  Being pre-diabetic (and I might be fooling myself there with the "pre") this is bad.

I've been trying to lose weight for a few months now, watching calories, but I guess I'm not trying all that hard because I haven't increased my activity level one iota.  So, I weigh me about once a week, or every two weeks, and I'm frustrated to see exactly 150 lbs every time.  The needle is so steady that for a while I wondered if the scale was broken.

What's weird is that a few things that were too tight a month ago are fine now, so either I'm losing inches if not pounds, or I'm just more accepting of the lumps.  I dunno.

The Man would think I look great now.  He prefers well-padded women.  He didn't say anything, but I know he was distressed when I dropped to 125ish back in 2009ish.  

I guess I'm going to have to start walking, or something.

-----------------------------------------------

This brings up the topic of what happened to The Man?  Nothing drastic, really.  We enjoyed each other thoroughly during the time, but neither of us was looking for anything permanent or intense, and although the physical and mental intimacy was wonderful there wasn't a lot of emotional intimacy.  That was an unspoken but understood agreement. There were a lot of topics we carefully avoided.

So there came a time when things in my life (the kidney stuff especially, and pneumonia) were causing me to withdraw and I was not willing to share the reasons with him, which created a wedge, and then he had some serious physical/medical and professional (and resulting financial and severe emotional) reversals that he was not willing to discuss with me (it being unmanly, and not a part of our relationship, and he certainly did not want my help), so he withdrew also, and then some personality differences came into play that made rapprochement difficult, and we kind of drifted apart.  

We both hate the telephone, and I don't text (won't!), so now there are the occasional holiday and birthday emails, and that's about it.  I know better than to ask questions, and he doesn't, so even those emails are terse.

I'm ok with it.  If I ever had the opportunity to fall into bed with him again, would I?   You bet your sweet patooty!  That's an experience not to be missed!  But on the other hand, I'm not sure I'd want to start that whole thing up again.  I'm absolutely glad we had what we did have.  He opened a new world to me, and taught me things about myself I'd never known or appreciated before, and I'm glad I experienced that. 

I'm not looking for another man.  Just not the least bit interested.  Plus, I doubt that anyone else could live up to his example.  If he's the last of my sex life, it's a bang-up ending, and I'm fine with that.
.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

4074 Vet visit

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

"It is not necessary to understand things in order to argue about them."
--Pierre Beaumarchais--

 -------------------------------------------------------------------

The vet-in-the-van came today, for Daughter's extremely old lady cat, the one who never leaves the master bedroom, and snarls and spits at everyone.  Vet says hairballs (probably).  Schmeck is the tiniest adult cat I've ever seen.  She's a gazillion years old, so who knows what might be going on.  Daughter also made an appointment for my Jasper, to get the cyst in his neck drained again.

Jasper is very good for the vet, almost like he's in shock or something, and when the visit is over he is very happy to go into the carrier for the long trip from the street back to our front door --- but initially getting him into the carrier to get him out to the van at the curb is a different matter.  I have multiple puncture wounds and scratches on my right shoulder and my upper back.  He was determined to climb up and over me to get away from the carrier.  I should be grateful it's only scratches - at least he didn't bite.

It looks like we'll have to get that cyst drained every three to four months.
.

Monday, July 20, 2015

4073 I guess it sucks there?

Monday, July 20, 2015

"All human beings should try to learn before they die
what they are running from, and to, and why."

-- James Thurber --

------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have little weather widgets on the side of my screen, one for the city house and one for the country house.  Right now it's 90 F at the city house ("feels like 93"), 10 mph wind, 46% humidity (it feels like more), and sunny.  At the country house, it's 91 F, with an air quality alert - which is strange, as the air quality there is usually excellent except when there's pollen.  The wind speed is "-9999 mph".

What?  Does that mean it sucks?

Oh.  It just updated.  Now it says 5 mph.  

Ne'mind.

----------------------------------------------------

I didn't use my old printer for months, and the jets clogged up.  No amount of cleaning fixed it, so a few months ago (February?) I gave up and bought a new printer.  My main criteria for choice was size.  When everything else is getting smaller and smaller, I don't understand why simple printer/copier/fax units keep getting bigger and bigger.

It sat still in the box since February, because I remembered the pain of installation of the last one.  I did something wrong with the last one, and the flippin' thing went offline after every print or copy job and wouldn't come back online no matter what I did, until I completely re-IPLed the laptop.  Also, it wouldn't scan to the computer, claimed the computer wasn't connected even though it was a USB connection.  Annoying, inconvenient, and frustrating, and the main reason it was so seldom used.  So I kept putting off attempting to install this one.

But now I have something that must be printed directly from a screen, and can't be offloaded or emailed, so I was forced to bite the bullet.

It took a half-hour, it was very simple, I was not forced to choose between options that I didn't understand, and it's connected through the house WIFI (which it did itself, I didn't even have to tell it the password), and it has its own email address, so when I'm at the country house using the notebook and want to print something, I can email the file to the printer.  Nifty.  It was SO much easier than the last time.
.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

4072 Cat scratch

Sunday, July 19, 2015

No matter how far wrong you’ve gone, you can always turn around.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

I just wanted to share this video.  The people who put it on YouTube titled it "Man Turns into Cat", which was a bad title because it gives away too much information.  On Cute Overload, they introduced it as "Sometimes ... It is just a cat Scratch", which is much better.

[https://youtu.be/lA7F-6gaQ9Y]
.

Friday, July 17, 2015

4071 Central Hudson is ripping me off

July 17, 2015

"The word 'politics' is derived from the word 'poly', meaning 'many',
and the word 'ticks', meaning 'blood sucking parasites'."
--Larry Hardiman:--

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I had one of those incredibly frustrating phone calls today.

The electric company at the country house (Central Hudson) has me on a "budget plan", you know, one of those deals where you pay a set amount every month based on your past and projected usage.  The budget amount is refigured in July every year. 

Their bill is a mystery, not the least bit intuitive.  See if you can figure out what any of this means:
Budget installment for June .......................  $164.00
Total charges to date...................................  $632.26
Total installments billed to date..................  $1,808.97 
Total payments to date................................  -$1,647.92
Account balance.........................................  -$1,015.66
Total amount due now................................  $164.00
Late charges added after July 14, 2015

Pay particular attention to the negative numbers up there.  Those are credits to my account.  

I have used $632.26 worth of electricity since July of last year, for which they have billed me $1,808.97, I have paid $1,647.92, and I have a credit in my account of $1,015.66.   (Even those numbers I don't understand, since at the end of the budget cycle last year I had about $750 credit, which was then used to make the first few payments of this budget cycle, and I don't know how that fits into those figures up there.)

Now, they want me to pay the $164.00 for June, EVEN THOUGH I have a credit of $1,015.66.

So I called.   

Well, according to Central Hudson, I have to pay the budget amount every month because that's the way the budget system works.  No, they can't take it from the credit this cycle.  They can use it when the next cycle begins.  Oh, and by the way, I will owe a late charge for this month since it's past the payment date.

LATE CHARGE????!!!!  When I have a credit over a thousand dollars????  On which, may I point out, you are keeping, earning interest on, and not paying ME interest????!!!!  And the budget amount is ridiculous anyway.  The electric usage at that house hasn't changed significantly in at least two years, so I don't know what you based the budget amount on.  Last year I ended up with a huge credit, too, which I repeat, you did't pay me interest for.

So, later this month, when the "invitation" to go on another budget plan arrives, I will call and ask to be taken off budget.  I want to pay for my actual usage.  (Um, no, I can't go off the budget plan now, I have to wait for this cycle to end.)  Lord, save me from bureaucrats!

That "actual usage" is another sore point.

They read the meter every two months, so every other bill has a chart with bars showing usage.  A white bar indicates an estimated (not actual) reading, and a black bar shows an actual reading, and it covers a year, and includes a comparison to the previous year.  I call BS on that "actual reading" crap!    The meter reader has to go around the garage and down the side of the house to get to the meter.  There was snow there all winter, and there were NO footprints in the snow.  None.  I had asked the Hairless Hunk to check, and he said nope.  But the bill shows actual for every one of the readings.

Second point of BS, the fluctuations in readings - down in the winter, and way up in the summer, exactly as if A/C were in play.  But until two weeks ago, that house did not have A/C.  With 4 nightlights and a refrigerator which is not being opened being the only things running when I'm not there, that's simply not believable.  Even when I am there, there's one light on at a time (I don't leave lights on when I'm not using them), the furnace fan, the TV, and my notebook, minimal use of the microwave, and the refrigerator opened maybe four times a day.  Some increase is expected, but the major boost in usage between winter and summer just isn't believable.  I do not believe they're really reading my meter.  Not as often as they claim, anyway.

Just another reason to go off budget and start paying as I use.
And start reading the meter myself to check their numbers.
.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

4070 Hairy legs!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

"At least two-thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice
and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity: idealism, dogmatism
and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political ideas."
--Aldous Huxley--

---------------------------------------------------------------------------- 

I hadn't noticed how much Jasper rubs against my legs.

I've been wearing "travel knit" pants almost constantly for many years now.  They are kind of like spandex, but loose and drapey, and very comfortable.  And they don't hold cat fur.  Or much of anything, for that matter.  

The past few days I've been wearing leggings (with long, loose tunics or caftan-like tops).  The leggings have a matte finish.

This afternoon as I was heading out the door to go to the store, I happened to glance in the mirror and was shocked to find that my supposed-to-be black legs were gray from mid-calf down!

They were LOADED with fur.

Since then, I've been conscious of Jasper loving me.  When I walk, he walks right next to me, leaning into the side of my leg.  When I stop, he coils around the front of my legs, then around the back, then the front, and so on until I start moving again.  If I've been out, when I come back in the door, he rubs against front and back, and I've unconsciously developed the habit of standing still just inside the door until he's finished, before moving down the hall, with him leaning against my side.

I never really noticed, because he never impedes my steps. He's never in front of my step. He's very gentle and subtle about it.

Weird.

He's very good about stairs, though.  He gives me a good rub before I start up and then he's beside me but not rubbing me as we go up (although he always meows at me as we go up).  Going down, he again gives a good rub before I start down (I've learned to pause before the first step), and then he runs several steps ahead of me to the bottom.  

I wonder if he's "marking" me as his, or attempting to guide me, or guard me, or petting himself. 

What's really weird is that he doesn't shed much anywhere but against my legs. 

(And no, he hates being combed or brushed.)  I'm going to have to start brushing me.
 .

Sunday, July 12, 2015

4069 Bloody attack by a dragon!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

"Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; 
it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable."
--Sidney J. Harris--

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 

I am trying to be very careful about caring for my 1.5 kidneys, drinking lots of water, watching carbs and protein, and avoiding excesses of minerals.

This morning, as usual, when I got up I went straight to the bathroom to piddle.

I was horrified to find the toilet full of blood!  Scared me half to death!

Then I remembered that the evening before I had eaten a half a dragon fruit, the red kind.  I went straight downstairs and looked it up on the internet.  Yeah, it's known to color your urine.

So, maybe the red was a good thing.  Maybe it shows my kidneys are doing their job.



--------------------------------------------

That was my first dragon fruit.  I'd heard people rave about them.  I dunno, maybe I got a stale one or something, 'cause it didn't taste like anything, very blah.  Less flavorful even than watermelon.  I ate only half because they have a lot of calcium and potassium, which I need to be careful of, so the other half is still sitting in the refrigerator.  

Ever try dragon fruit?  Did I get a flavorless one?  Or is this blahness a usual taste reaction? 
.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

4068 Decorated tree

Saturday, July 11, 2015

" I don't believe in an afterlife, so I don't have to spend my whole life

fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of

hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse."

-- Isaac Asimov --

(Mark Twain said something remarkably similar.)

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George has a clump of three birches in his front yard.  He keeps threatening to cut them down, because years ago (before I moved here) the main trunk of the main tree got broken in a storm, so George seems to have decided the tree is dead.  I've pointed out a few times that it has recovered nicely, another branch has taken over as the trunk, and it's growing happily.  But, well, George.

Today the birch is covered in Goldfinches.

I had noticed a pair fluttering around the birches all spring.  They must have raised a family, and the youngsters are just now learning to fly.  I counted five goldfinches for sure, but there may have been more.  It's a pretty sight, tiny bright yellow birds flitting from branch to branch against the white bark and yellow-green leaves, with occasional brave forays to the power line and back.

I hope George spares the trees, so maybe the family will be back next year.

Goldfinches, incidentally, are the only American songbirds that feed seeds to their chicks. Other songbirds, no matter what the adults eat, feed chicks bugs and worms.  I wonder where the goldfinch chicks get enough protein?  This habit saves them from cowbirds, because cowbird chicks in a goldfinch nest cannot survive on seeds.

------------------------------------------

I miss the purple finches from the country house.  I got really pissed off one time when I was talking about them at a Mensa dinner, and one of the women there informed me, imperiously, that they weren't purple finches, they were house finches.  She'd never seen "my" finches and apparently didn't listen to my description, but she KNEW they were not purple finches, they were house finches, because that's what she had in her back yard "and everyone always confuses them".  (It's a little hard to confuse a white belly and a brown belly, lady....)

I was furious with her. She used that tactic where she closed her eyes and pursed her lips and shook her head and  wouldn't listen, just kept repeating her line.  That always infuriates me.
.

Friday, July 10, 2015

4067 Books, leggings, stuff....

Friday, July 10, 2015

Before enlightenment: Chop wood, carry water.

After enlightenment: Chop wood, carry water.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yesterday I wore a caftan I've had for ages.  It's made like a rectangle with two smaller rectangles on either side for long full sleeves.  It used to be floor-length, but I shortened it to mid-calf thinking I might wear it more often if it didn't look so eveningish.  It's a lightweight black silky fabric with vertical alternating stripes of sheer and not-so-sheer, and thin silver threads.  I wore it with a black nylon tank top and black leggings I had bought in Morocco (the only leggings I own), and a heavy silver Turkoman necklace.  I really liked the outfit, and it was incredibly cool in the heat and humidity. 

I have several loose thigh-length caftan-like semisheer tunics that I rarely wear because over regular pants they look too "heavy".  So I got all enthusiastic and went to eBay, and bought some more leggings in black, brown, and white.  They'll arrive early next week.  I used the measurement guides on the listings and ended up ordering size "L" instead of the "M" I would ordinarily order, because I didn't want them to be too tight at the waist, and that's what my 39" hips demanded.

Last night when I took the Moroccan leggings off, I looked at the size inside.  They are S/M.  Ouch.  Maybe I should have looked at that label before I ordered new ones.

Oh well.  They were like $7 each, so no big loss if they don't fit.

------------------------------------------------

The new neighbor across the street seems nice.  BUT this morning at 6:30 am I was awakened by a power saw, and pounding of a mallet, and general mayhem.  He was replacing the posts for his gate.  At 6:30 am.  Sheesh!  I gave up trying to sleep and got up at 7:30.  I'd been reading into the wee hours, so I'm not too happy.

Reading:
I've been reading mostly nonfiction the past few months.   

I read a book about Eliot Spitzer, his rise to power and his sudden fall from grace.  I really liked him as NY attorney general, he wasn't afraid to go after the people who thought they were powerful enough to get away with anything.  When he was elected governor I was ecstatic.  I figured he could fix Albany, probably the most corrupt state government in the country.  I really expected big things from him.  He lasted 14 months.  Sigh.

I read a book written by a British Muslim female physician who accepted a two-year stint in a hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  She, having spent the previous several years in the US, was unprepared for the restrictions on her person and her freedom there.  It was interesting, but, unfortunately, in her view, everything was just hunky-dory.  I would have liked to see a little indignation....

I read the book written by Jaycee Dugard, the woman who had been kidnapped at age 11, and spent 18 years held captive by her rapist.  Her story isn't quite what one would expect from the tabloid versions, but it's harrowing enough.  It's easy to see why she had not attempted to escape, when seen through her eyes.

I read the story of Henrietta Lacks, the woman from whom came the HeLa cell line used by labs the world over.  HeLa was the first cells that didn't eventually die in culture.  Her cells are pretty much immortal.  They are responsible for many research breakthroughs and cures, and have made many people rich.  But until recently, she got no credit.  Her children didn't benefit - in fact, they can't afford the very cures her cells created.  An interesting story, but the writer got too close, I think.  It dragged sometimes.

There were a few other books in there, but I forget.  The current book is a novel about ... it's hard to explain ... you know how you make a decision that takes your life a particular direction, and years later you wonder what your life would be like if you'd gone the other direction?  This is about a guy who "splits" at a key decision point, and one copy goes one way in one complete version of the world, and another copy goes the other way.  Some 13 or 15 (I forget) years later, both men are very unhappy with their lives.  Both realize they hadn't necessarily made the right decision.  And then there's like a rift in the fabric between the two worlds, and the two meet, and decide to exchange lives.  I'm having trouble with this.  I have difficulty suspending disbelief, and I really can't accept that both would simply give up and go to a world where they know nothing, nobody, dropping into a life with no context, and one that they probably won't be able to get back from.  Like, guys, hey, you already KNOW you don't make the best decisions.  What makes you think your doppelganger knows any better.  Frying pan, fire, you know?

Well, I'm only 1/3 or so into the book.  What do I know.

If you want the title and author of any of the above, ask in a comment and I'll dig it out for you.
.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

4066 Throughfare?

Wednesday, July 6, 2015

People are more violently opposed to fur than leather because
it's safer to harass rich women than motorcycle gangs.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have a new problem.

The neighbors across the street have sold their house and moved out.  They had three cars, so two were parked in their driveway beside the house, and one was always parked on the street, the narrow street, right across from the end of my driveway.  That made it a little difficult to turn into and back out of my driveway, but once I mastered it, it was no longer much of a problem for me.

The new guy has moved in.  He has one car, so he parks in his driveway, and when his girlfriend visits she parks in the driveway behind him. 

Suddenly the street is clear at the end of my driveway and it's easy to turn in, and suddenly my driveway is THE turnaround spot for the one-way street.  Seven or eight cars and trucks pull into my driveway every day and back out to head out of the street.  Well, seven or eight that I actually see.  There are probably more.  I'll be standing on the porch, in full view!, and people pull in and back out without even so much as eye contact.

It's really starting to piss me off.  I don't know why it bothers me so much, but it does.  The end of the street is only seven houses further and there's a nice big turnaround there.  These people are significantly increasing the traffic at the joint between my driveway and the curb which bothers me.  Gonna break it down faster.  Driveways aren't made for heavy traffic.  But mainly it's the sheer arrogance that gets me.  A wave when they do it would help.

This is so reminiscent of the mailbox at the country house.  The guy across the street there had a trailer, and several times he hit my mailbox backing the trailer out of his driveway, bent it to where it wouldn't close, knocked it completely down twice, and never once acknowledged it.

Sometimes I hate people.

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While I'm thinking of it, neighbor George's granddaughter (she's in her 40s I think) does something I don't quite understand.  The street is narrow.  If cars are parked on both sides, it's difficult for, say, a wide truck to get through, let alone traffic coming from both directions.  There are no signs, but it seems to be convention that everyone parks on the east side of the street.  No cars are ever parked on the west side.  None except for George's granddaughter, that is.  Not only does she park on the west side in front of George's house when she visits (often, she lives on the next street over), but she parks in front of the fire hydrant at the corner of my lawn.  I mentioned it to Daughter, and she warned me not to say anything to the woman about it, "She's a bitch."

Does she really not see that she's blocking traffic?  Does she not care?  I don't understand.
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Tuesday, July 07, 2015

4065 Drums and the cost of war

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

"There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact." 
 -- Sherlock Holmes --

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This is an interesting video, entitled "How Much Does War Cost?"  The numbers are amazing.  Trot them out the next time some fool complains about Obama and the national debt.

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkax1QTEszw]

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This is some guy on taiko drums in an arcade in Japan.  He's really into it!

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGY1gmVZVlo]
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Monday, July 06, 2015

4064 Medical insurance, care

Sunday, July 5, 2015

It takes 42 muscles to frown, and only 4 to reach out and smack you.

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Want to know if your medical insurance is good?  Don't bother reading online reviews.  Spend a few days in the hospital, especially over the weekend.

When I was hospitalized with pneumonia after Hurricane Sandy, I had doctors coming out of the woodwork, at the rate of about 5 a day.  Lung doctors.  Kidney doctors. Heart doctors.  Infectious medicine specialists. Whatever.  I didn't know who most of them were, or why they were there.  Some didn't do a damn thing, just asked me how I was feeling, and left.  Sometimes my "vitals" were taken by four different doctors (not nurses - although they did it too) every day.  Of course every single one of them submitted a bill.  Also, all kinds of tests and scans were being scheduled - most of which I refused because I saw no reason for them.

The woman in the other bed lived in a badly-maintained low income senior project, and I think she had just medicaid.  The doctor who had admitted her never even stopped by, even though she kept asking for him.  She was given no tests and no medicine.  Every time a nurse came in she told the nurse she still had a lot of pain in her leg, and the nurse said she'd tell the doctor, but the woman was released (pretty much kicked out) before I was, and STILL had not been seen by a doctor.  Not one.  She didn't even have a diagnosis, and she still had the pain.  She cried as she was leaving.

I suspect my insurance and credit rating were much better than hers.

Disgusting.

What brought this up was an online comment I just read.  People in other countries do not understand why anyone would be against the ACA.  A Canadian wrote that he noticed a big difference between medical care in the US, and in Canada (where it's all free).  In Canada the first thing a doctor will ask you is what is the problem, where does it hurt.  In the US, the first thing you are asked is whether you can afford the doctor's services, what insurance you have, and you might hear "Oh, oops, I don't accept that insurance, goodbye."

Disgusting.

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Back when Jay was in the hospital so much, I kept pretty tight control of doctors wandering in.  I'd ask them who, why, what they plan to do for him, and most of them kind of sputtered and said they'd been looking at Jay's records and thought it was an interesting case, so thought they'd stop by and say hello.  And then they'd leave, and they didn't submit bills.  After the first day, I guess the word got around that Jay wasn't a free lunch, and we didn't get drop-ins other than his own known doctors.

I kick myself for not managing my own hospital stay as well, but it's different when you're the one in the bed, I guess.  I need to get over being so compliant.
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Sunday, July 05, 2015

4063 Vent covers

Sunday, July 5, 2015

I've made smarter things than you by eating fiber.

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Remember when I had all those problems with the birds trying to build nests in my dryer and bathroom vents?  This is the vent covers I found, and Daughter installed.  I'm very happy with them.  They latch at the bottom, and are hinged at the top so you can clean lint or whatever out without removing them.



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Saturday, July 04, 2015

4062 Expensive and tiring week

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Love longs for union.

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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)
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$645.31

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.

Sigh.

---------------------------------------------

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.
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4061 Avebury

Friday, July 3, 2015

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

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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.
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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--

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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.]

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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. 

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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 http://lewiscarrollsociety.org.uk/pages/aboutcharlesdodgson/life/lifefamily.html.)

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.
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