Saturday, March 25, 2006

#616 Questions 23 to 26


Continuing with questions from The Book of Questions, by Gregory Stock, Ph.D., Workman Publishing Company, Inc., $6.95. (If you like the idea, you should buy the book. Get yourself all the questions at once.)

23. While on a trip to another city, your spouse (or lover) meets and spends a night with an exciting stranger. Given that they will never meet again, and that you will not otherwise learn of the incident, would you want your partner to tell you about it? If roles were reversed, would you reveal what you had done?
I hate this question. I wish things were always so minor. Go away.

24. Are there people you envy enough to want to trade places with them? Who are they?
Well, I envy rich folks with all kinds of household help and the way always smoothed for them. And folks with lots of friends and involvements. And folks with large close happy families. But I'm not sure I'd want to trade places with them, because all that nice stuff comes with responsibilities and requirements and compromises that I'm not sure I want, not sure I could handle. I feel like all that nice stuff requires that I give up some of myself, and I am very self-protective. I guess it's because the way my life has gone thus far, the tradeoffs haven't seemed worth it. Disfunctional family, bad choices in friends, whatever. All I want is love and peace and quiet.

25. For an all-expense-paid, one-week vacation anywhere in the world, would you be willing to kill a beautiful butterfly by pulling off its wings? What about stepping on a cockroach?
Why the implied difference? Is a butterfly more valuable than a cockroach? Is beauty valid criteria? If so, should we apply that criteria to people, too? Is pulling off wings worse than stepping on? (Well, maybe. I'll give you that one. Torture, and all.) What's really weird is that if the cockroach were running across my kitchen floor I wouldn't hesitate to stomp on it, for free. But if someone put a captive roach in front of me and said stomp on this and get money, then I'd hesitate. Like the first cockroach is "guilty", and the second is "innocent". Weird, huh? But, in the end, I'd probably do both. To poor innocent insects. And I'd hate myself, and spend the rest of my life trying to make it up to bugs. Well, a while, anyway.

26. Would you be able to murder an innocent person if it would end hunger in the world?
Ho. So if I'd kill a bug for a vacation, would I kill a person for the world? First I'd have to decide whether ending hunger in the world is such a good idea. That's an even bigger question, a tougher question, than the one posed. Starvation is a natural population control. Even if you could redistribute populations by moving folks from overcrowded areas to wilderness areas, with adequate food supplies after a while the wilderness areas would start getting overcrowded. There would then have to be an increase in war or disease, otherwise the Earth itself dies. The alternate way to really end hunger in the world would be to kill all the excess people who live in areas that can't support them. So the way I see it, killing one person to end hunger would have to eventually result in the deaths of many more people, most of whom didn't contribute to the problem - "innocents", too. And probably even more of them than now die of starvation. Nah. I'd pass. But not for the reason you expected.

#615 Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth


Francois de La Rochefoucauld: "He who lives without folly isn't so wise as he thinks."

I got up and washed and dressed, and was already to go to the multicultural festival in Pine Hill, when something told me I should check the map. Yup. I got Pine Hill confused with Pine Plains. Pine Plains is reasonable. Pine Hill is not. So, no go.

Instead, I decided it was finally time to get rid of all the sharps left from when I was giving Jay Neupogen and anti-clotting stuff. (And I was good at it - the nurses always left bruises on his belly when they did it, and I rarely did. In fact, in the rehab centers, they actually allowed me to do it, very much against the rules.) So I went to the local hospital supply pharmacy and bought a special bio-hazard disposal container, transferred the syringes from the puncture-proof container I had been using to it, and then went looking for someplace that would take them. The nursing homes and hospitals have special days and times for dropoff, but rather than go home and call around, I just headed for the nearest hospital. The woman at the information desk called security, and an old man with a badge took them, right then and there, no questions asked.

That "no questions asked" sounds good, but since they ask no questions, they seem to assume the worst, like I'm an addict or something. I wonder if people who take insulin get treated so curtly.

I was invited to a "literary afternoon" next weekend - lunch, followed by a "reading", then a used-bookstore crawl. I had accepted, but this morning I found out where it was and I had to back out. One of the readers is someone I can't be around right now. I can't explain further, but since this functions as a diary for me, I wanted to memorialize the day I made this decision. Someday I may regret it. I'm already feeling torn about it. Going to it, even with a date, would certainly take an axe to my biggest problem these days, and I'm not quite ready for that yet. But maybe I should. I hate this.

This is also the second "blind date" attempt I've broken with this guy. I have a feeling I won't get another chance.

Back to the basement. I've got another container to fill.

Friday, March 24, 2006

#614 A Lost Day

I don't know what happened to today. It completely disappeared.

In the interests of paper-control, I have a new rule - all previous issues of magazines, newspapers, and newsletters will be thrown out when the next issue arrives, whether it has been read or not. So far it looks like it will work to make paper litter disappear, but it also looks like it could make days disappear, when three magazines and a newspaper arrive all in one day. I guess I'll have to learn to space them out a bit.

Odd, but I was very hungry today, and nothing seemed to satisfy me. There must be something I'm craving, some mineral or vitamin, some texture or flavor, and I can't identify it. I feel like I'm starving, and I stand and look in the pantry, the freezer, the refrigerator, and there's nothing there I want. In fact, most of it I actively don't want. I've been drinking a lot of water, and I still feel thirsty. (I always drink a lot of fluids, and it's rare for me to feel thirst.) Maybe it's salt. I'll lick some before I go to bed.

(It could also be that I haven't been hugged or kissed thoroughly enough in two weeks. When I think "What do I want, what do I want?" that's what I keep coming up with.)

To bed early tonight. Multi-cultural fair in Pine Hill tomorrow. I may, or may not, decide to go. I might feel more like filling the dumpster. But I may as well be rested, either way.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

#613 Over Two Tons!

Dean Koontz, Mr. Murder: "We sense that life is a dark comedy and maybe we can live with that. However, because the whole thing is written for the entertainment of the gods, too many of the jokes go right over our heads."


The dumpster was collected, emptied, and returned early this afternoon. It was 1.5 tons of trash (mostly paper) on this trip. With the 800 pounds I got rid of a few months ago with the Hunk's trailer, and the 500 or so pounds last year, that's 4,300 pounds of trash extracted from the basement and elsewhere. I also donated 21 pairs of shoes and two large bags of clothing to the Salvation Army drop-box yesterday morning. Lots more clothing to go. There are two of those huge moving company wardrobe boxes full of Jay's shirts downstairs. I'll empty them this evening.

I didn't post yesterday. Took the day off. I had promised Roman that he'd be the first person in when the house could take company. Well, the house wasn't ready, but he was coming up this way to visit, so I decided to bite the bullet and let him in. The kitchen was still pretty cluttered, but it was a least halfway presentable. (It's halfway to where I want it to be.... At least one can see where it's going.)

He arrived about 3 pm, I showed him some of my treasures (he liked looking at my walking stick collection, and the ostrich egg, but was unimpressed by the caftan Omar Sharif wore in Hidalgo), and then we went into the village to meet with Piper. Piper is computer illiterate, and Roman is going to give him some lessons. Then we went computer shopping, just to see what exists. He's going to "build" a package for me based on my usual usage and needs. Then a long dinner at the mall, then back here. He left about 9:30. A nice evening. I hope we can do that more often. (He was appropriately impressed with the dumpster.)

I don't know if Roman is fully aware, but he is the first person AT ALL to enter this house, other than me, and the furnace service guy who got no further than the basement, in three years.

Daughter may be offended that he got in before she did. On the other hand, I wasn't informed that wedding dates were in negotiation with Hercules' mother until yesterday, so there!

Also, Daughter announced yesterday that their planned move to Pennsylvania is suddenly off. Hercules got a job offer from a company he knows well near where they now live in central NJ, which will save him several hours a day in commuting time (and costs - he had been working in the fashion district in Manhattan), so they have decided to stay where they are. On one hand, I'm happy, because they are now only 2.5 hours away, while Lancaster, where they were planning to move (Amish country), is 6 hours away. On the other hand, I dislike NJ. I'd love to see them somewhere greener, with clean air and pure water, and reasonable real estate prices.

Oh well, it'll work out. Somehow it always does. And I forgive them for talking wedding dates with the other future mother-in-law first - she teaches college in California, and her available windows of time are theoretically tighter, whereas I am theoretically perpetually free. (Although Daughter was surprised to find that I already have most of August booked solid, with events that cannot be moved, like a high school reunion and the first international Mensa convention, in Orlando, where my siblings live, so I plan to extend that stay to visit with family, too. Oops. Suddenly Mother has a life! How unexpected.)


Household Hint: Mineral oil. Cool stuff.

Actually, I use the gelled baby oil, easier to work with.

If you have trouble with very hard water leaving mineral salts in the toilet bowl, drain and clean the bowl, dry it well, and then spread mineral oil in the bowl with a tissue. Wipe it down with another tissue to leave a thin coat. It'll make the next load of salts easier to remove. Renew the oil whenever you use a cleanser in the bowl. I forgot to oil the bowl back when, and that's why I had so much trouble with the salt deposits this time around. (Use only tiny amounts, especially if you have a septic tank!)

I have a stainless steel stovetop, stainless steel microwave/convection oven insides, and stainless steel sinks. If you've ever had stainless steel, you know that it isn't stainless, and burnt-on crud is impossible to remove from the stovetop without leaving scratches. Those minute scratches serve as sticking-spots for the next wave of crud. A VERY thin layer of mineral oil or baby oil (so thin you can't really feel it - like you just polished with it) helps to keep crud from sticking so tightly. Same thing for around faucets.

It has the added advantage of moisturizing your hands after all those cleaning products.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

#612 Kitchen Is, uh, Usable, Sorta

I worked most of today on clearing out the kitchen. I won't have enough counter space for making cookies for a while yet, but at least I can move around in there and get the lower cabinets open now. And I cleaned a bit.

I spent several hours removing hard water deposits from the laundry room john. They must have changed CLR, made it weaker or something. It used to work, but I finally had to resort to draining the bowl and filling it with vinegar, and then scrubbing with a stiff brush.

The rolloff is so full I don't think I'll be able to fit the dead dehumdifiers in. They require special handing because of the freon, so I was supposed to put them on top. But I'm afraid now they will stick up past the fill-line. Next load, I guess.


The friend who is setting up the charitable endowment in my name is driving me crazy. She has decided that she wants the payments from the investment to go to "program", not "administration". I explained to her that if she gives $1000 restricted to programs, and someone else gives $1000 unrestricted, and if the administrative costs are 20%, then they will just use $400 of the unrestricted funds for the admin costs, so restricting the money doesn't accomplish anything. She says she understands, and that she agrees, and then five minutes later she's going on again about how difficult it is to restrict the money.

Then she complains that the charity I chose, Heifer International, has unusually high admin costs. I point out (over and over) that low admin cost can be simply creative bookkeeping, and that you can't compare admin costs without knowing what is included. Heifer does a lot of research to find the most effective locations for the programs, so is that considered "program" or "administration"? She says she understands and agrees, and then five minutes later she's complaining because Heifer's admin costs are so high. I got so angry with her this evening I told her to forget Heifer and send it to Doctors Without Borders. (DWB was my second choice only because they already get a lot of contributions.)

There were a lot of other points that we disagreed on, and I explained, and she agreed, then she went right back to as if she never heard me. She really ticked me off this evening. The kicker is that she keeps saying, in reference to restricting the money, "Well, I want to make sure that the money goes for what you and I both want", and I keep saying, "**I** don't want it restricted! I explained that to you. It's your money, and if you want to restrict it, fine. But it doesn't matter to me!"

You can be in the middle of a sentence, and she will interrupt or talk right over you. The woman doesn't listen. A long time ago, she was my fifth-level manager. Yikes! This evening I was so annoyed that when she interrupted and talked over me, I just got louder and kept right on talking.

I had to fake another call to get off the phone. By then I was shouting, and I was afraid of where it was headed.

I want to tell her to forget it. Leave me out of it. Most of her money will end up going to charity anyway, and I don't see why having my name on it has any meaning worth all this annoyance. But I don't want to hurt her feelings.

Monday, March 20, 2006

#611 Equinox

Monday, March 20. 2006

I stood an egg on end this morning, and it was very easy. Yeah, I know about all the people who say it's bunk, that you can stand an egg any time, but I challenge any of them to actually do it! I've tried, and I've never been able to do it at any other time of the year, and it's easy for me for several days around an equinox, and it's easier at the spring than at the fall equinox.

We did several experiments in Washington DC Mensa, and we all had pretty much the same experience. The eggs all went up with ease at about the same time, and they all fell within 12 hours of each other, and the difficulty increased for each of us at about the same rate.

So there. Challenge cast. PROVE me wrong. Don't say it's bunk just because you can't explain it. (It's kind of like ESP - you aren't going to believe it until you experience it, because until you experience it, belief is too threatening.)


The container is almost full. I guess because the level is so high now, I'm having trouble keeping stuff in. I threw a bunch of telephone books on top of the listing paper, but there are still stray sheets of other paper escaping. I have asked that it be picked up on Thursday, emptied, and returned. I'm starting to enjoy this.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

#610 Green Eggs

I went to the annual "Green Eggs and Ham" brunch (combination St. Patrick's Day and Dr. Seuss's birthday) at NJKC's today. I'm usually late, but this year I got there on time, and still managed to miss the ceremonial reading of the book. I was so tired I kept almost falling asleep. Never did finish my champagne.

I'm not working in the basement today. I'm cleaning out upstairs instead, so I don't have to carry stuff up the hill. I was in bed by 8 pm last night, and asleep by 9, but I'm still very tired today.

I got a surprise when I left the house this morning. Among the last things I had thrown into the container last night were several stacks of listings and core dumps - the kind printed on the old wide continuous paper. The wind caught it, and blew several yards of it in streamers across the driveway and yard. It was looped four feet deep on the ground next to the dumpster. I gathered it all up and pushed it back in, but now that it's not neatly folded it's taking up a lot more room.

I'm hoping some magazines on top will protect it tonight.