Saturday, May 13, 2006

688 Saturday Apple Blossoms

Today was the Apple Blossom Festival in the village. They should call it the Lilac and Wild Onion Festival. The whole village smells of blooming lilacs, and since everyone mowed the lawns to look nice for a town full of visitors, there were undertones of wild onion/chive. Fresh-mown onion is one of those scents that says "Spring" to me.

I got quite a bit of walking in today, checking out all the booths and stores. I was a little disappointed that the library didn't have their usual used book sale, but it had rained in the morning and the afternoon sun wasn't trustworthy (although it is still beautiful out), so I understand why not. And being in "throwing out" mode, I really didn't need the temptation anyway.

Friday, May 12, 2006

687 My Ignorance, Too

Read this:

It's very much what I tried to tell people back when it all started, and everyone said I was ignorant then, too. You cannot ignore history. You can't remake a culture just because you want to. Unlike, say, Egypt or Saudi Arabia, Iraq is in large part still a tribal culture. You have what you have won and what you are strong enough to keep. There are certain ways that things have been done, that disputes have been settled, for thousands of years, and they aren't going to change overnight.

The Americans pulled the cork. They let the genie out of the bottle, and he's not going back in until someone comes along strong enough to pound a few heads and threaten to remove a few more.

686 Back to the Museum

I went to the Maritime Museum this afternoon for my weekly volunteer stint. The coordinator had called me the other day and asked if I could make up some notebooks for them with information about other touristy stuff in the Rondout, because visitors are always asking, so I was supposed to just pick up a list of places today, and then do the research at home. But when I got there, the woman who was supposed to be in the gift shop hadn't come in, so I ended up running the shop.

The cash register is all fancy and computerized. There's an instruction sheet someone had written up, and I figured that out ok, but something struck me as odd. Sales tax on the t-shirts is 4%, and tax on other items is 8%, no tax on museum admission or memberships. But --- when you sell something taxable, there's just one button you push, and "it adds the tax on". How does it know whether it's a t-shirt or not? When my relief arrived, I asked her, and she said no one had reprogrammed the register when the clothing tax was lowered, so it still charges 8% for everything.

Um, is that legal?

Update on the ice boats I mentioned in an earlier entry - the "Icicle", once owned by the Roosevelts, is on display inside. It's LONG! Much longer than the one they had outside last week. The film about the Hudson River that they run constantly in the theater does say that it had been clocked at 100 mph. So Russ was right.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

685 Weekend Assignment #111: Two Out of Three

John Scalzi, of By The Way... has issued the following challenge:

"Weekend Assignment: Present three "facts" about yourself: Two of the facts true, and one of the facts false. Let people guess which "fact" is the fake one. Reveal the fake fact on Monday. You don't want to give away the fake fact too early, so be sure to make it sound plausible, next to the other two real facts. Extra Credit: Can you lie with a straight face? Really?"

Later Update: The answer and the vote counts are at post "692 True, False, True". The stories that go with the true facts are at "693 True Fact #3 - Manhunt", and "694 True Fact #1 - Holding Breath".

Fact 1:
That guy who tried to break the breath-holding record reminded me of this. I once held my breath for over five minutes, witnessed and timed by a medical doctor.

Fact 2: My hair grows very quickly. When I was in college, I sold my hair to buy winter clothing every fall of the last three years. My roommates were happy about it, because I shed a lot, and they were tired of finding long hair in and on everything.

Fact 3: In my teens I almost got shot as a spy. I was the subject of a military manhunt, orders to shoot on sight, and ended up arrested by seven very nervous airmen with loaded guns.

Ok. Which one is not true? Scalzi said to "be sure to make it sound plausible, next to the other two real facts". Instead of making them all sound equally plausible, they all sound equally implausible!

Extra Credit: No, I can't lie with a straight face. Well, maybe with a straight face, but I can't look the person I'm lying to in the face. My eyes kind of slide down and to the side. It's so bad that even if I'm telling the absolute truth, if I'm sure the other person won't believe me, I can't look them in the eye. So people are often convinced I'm lying when I'm not.

When you've lived a life like mine, there are a lot of unbelievable stories. A lot of eye sliding. Sigh. I don't tell the most outrageous but true stories any more.

684 Thursday

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I had a good time at Trivia last night. It was just Tom and me, but we had a very respectable showing nonetheless. My biggest problem in the past has been that I'm not fast enough on the buttons as the points tick down. I sit there with five fingers poised, touching the five buttons representing the five possible answers, and I still can't pick the right answer number and press it before anyone else.

I think I've found the solution. With just Tom and me, there wasn't that feeling of intense competition, so I ordered FOOD! Finger food. Spicy chicken wings, with celery and bleu cheese dip. And other stuff. They got ooooowoooo good stuff there. Which meant that when a question flashed, I had to real quick suck on my finger then push the button. For some crazy reason it was faster! Maybe because I was using just my index finger, so didn't have to choose an answer AND choose the proper finger. I got lots of 1000 pointers, and actually beat or tied Tom on half the games. And Tom's good!

As you will have gathered by now, Fishkill didn't show. I'm not surprised. I got an email from him this morning apologizing for standing me up, saying that after the dance lessons he was tired, and he decided to go to bed early. No suggestion for another time. I have not responded. There's something going on in his head that I choose not to get entangled in. Let him sort it out and decide what he's going to do or not do. I really don't care (so far he's failing to impress me), but I'm not going to let him know that. Let him think I'm angry.

On the other hand, I wore a blouse last night just for Fishkill that made it difficult for Tom to look me in the eye (yeah, Tom, I caught you looking), and now I have to wash the damn thing. What a waste of a wearing. THAT ticks me off.

683 Favorite Reads

Thursday, May 11, 2006

There are a lot of sites that I read regularly. I decided today to list most of them, over there on the right, under "Links". (If y'all find yourself linked and don't want to be, comment, and I'll remove it immediately (and I won't publish the comment)).

I wasn't able to list all of my favorites because some are private journals, like those from Russ, Remo, The Gypsy, and a few others. I'd love to link the-leading-candidate-for-son-in-law's website, and Daughter's business page, but it would be dangerous - Daughter would kill me.

Some sites I have chosen for the news. Some for the beauty of the writing. Some for the giggles, and some for the insights. Just because a site is listed doesn't mean it's wonderful (although most are). Some are there because reading them, I can't help thinking "This person is going to implode any minute!", so, like watching a car race and waiting for the flaming crash, I'm afraid to look away.

All of them are rounder and deeper than mine. I'm not writing for readers. However, some of my very favorites aren't writing for readers, either, and they are still so very interesting and thought-provoking. I'd love to point you directly to the best one, but I'm not sure she really wants to be noticed.

Too much notice can make one self-conscious.

If you skim through some of the links, you'll see where my mind is a lot of the time. Reading my journal, it's easy to get the impression that I spend a lot of time on a mental highway, looking neither left nor right, fussing over trivia like whether my feet are too cold or too hot. This journal is only a diary, for me to look back and see where I was and what I was doing. In reality, I AM looking left and right off the highway, and I do see the scenery, the sights, the sites, and I think about things I read. I just don't write about it here.

Welcome to the rest of my world.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

682 Wednesday

Roman tutored Piper yesterday afternoon, then came here for dinner. I made apricot chicken, yellow rice, and broccoli. He brought his new laptop and we watched the Stomp DVD on it. Then I chased him out before 8. He had three classes Monday, and a full schedule this week, so I know he needs time at home. I'm even surprised he came here with time so tight, but on the other hand, we seem to be getting along so well lately, I don't know.

My lawn finally got mowed today, first time this year. I'm glad. It was starting to look really bad. I was beginning to think that the Hairless Hunk was punishing me for hiring someone else for the roof.

I'll be going to Poughkeepsie this evening for trivia (NTN, I think?) with Tom. Fishkill has a dance lesson tonight, but he says if he gets finished soon enough, he'll join us. I hope he does. If he doesn't show tonight, I'll have to write him off. Too bad - he's good looking and smart, but he may have some trouble following up on things. He seems to either want to keep me dangling, in reserve so to speak, or he wants to brush me off and doesn't know how.

Off to the machines. Exercise! I'm gonna get lookin' so good all these idiot men will be sorry they didn't snap me right up when they had a chance!!!!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

681 Flippin' IQ Test - 2

Well, turns out that the IQ test mentioned in the previous entry is a joke. When you take it, you are given a score (which may or may not have anything to do with your answers) and a graphic showing that score which you can post in your journal. However, the test writer has planted a cookie that shows you the high score, but shows everyone else who looks at your journal a LOW score. Cool, huh? You can read the whole story, and the reactions of other test-takers here:

I agree with a lot of what Triggur says about IQ tests. As a member of Mensa for more than 30 years, I am exceedingly aware that a high IQ score does not correlate to smarts, success, ability, or common sense. It simply means that a high scorer sees patterns more clearly than most. Period. That means that high scorers often enjoy puzzles and words more than most. Period. Some (actually, now that I think about it, all) of the biggest idiots I have ever met I've met in Mensa.

Mensa serves a purpose in that it's a social group where puzzle people can play with other puzzle people, and that's pretty much all it is meant to be. I get annoyed with Mensans who seem to think they're better or "smarter" than others. The more they seem to be dissatisfied with and disappointed in their own lives, the more they look down on non-members.

If you've been reading this journal for any length of time, you already know all of that.

By the way, you can't compare scores from different IQ tests. Beyond a certain point, the standard deviation, um, diverges. For example, a 145 on the California Test of Mental Maturity is a lot higher than a 158 on the Stanford Binet. That's why Mensa and most other groups go by percentile.

Daughter helped me with that one question that confused me. She asked me to describe it over the phone. I said it starts with the back-to-back "C"s. She said, "Mother, listen to what you just said. What's the next figure?" Me, "Looks like back-to-back 'D's. Oh crap! Then back-to-back 'E's. Yup. Ok. Got it."


Monday, May 08, 2006

680 Flippin' IQ Test

I took this test and swore all the way through it. It kept timing out trying to contact the site, but once I'd made it through 12 of the 25 questions, I was too stubborn to give up. It's probably timing out because half the journaling community is probably taking it now.

I give this mini-test a "B+", because the questions were typical of those you find on standardized IQ tests, and unlike most online tests, it didn't top out at 135 (although it may have topped out at 157. I wish I knew.) It didn't get an "A" because at least two of the questions required knowledge as opposed to reasoning ability.

Some of the questions were very difficult. If you try it, I'd love to know what your answer was for the "completes the series" one that starts with the back-to-back "C"s and ends with the upsidedown "T". That one really blew my mind. I copied it down, and I'm still fussing over it.

For several of the questions, one of the diagrams wouldn't show (and trying to display it with the right mouse button got timeouts), so if none of the other choices was the right answer, I just shrugged and chose that one.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

679 I Am Such an Idiot!

Sunday, May 7, 2006

I've been freezing off and on for the past five days because I didn't want to go through all the gyrations to switch back to the oil furnace when I'd just have to do it all again in a few more days. I just remembered that the heat pump I'm using for air conditioning has backup electric heat! All I have to do is flip ONE switch on the thermostat.

Now excuse me while I go stand in front of a vent.

678 Regrets

Sunday, May 7, 2006

I have been asked, "If you knew you would die tomorrow, what would you regret?"

I haven't put a lot of thought into it, but right off the bat I'd regret that my house and papers and "affairs" are not in order for Daughter to handle. I'm working on it, but slowly.

Going back a ways, I regret that had I worked such long hours when Daughter was in her teens. I wish I hadn't been sucked into The Company line. I wish I had spent more time with her, that we had done more together, that I had known her friends well and had them over to the house.

I regret that I had allowed Tom N. to edge out Obie, when I knew Obie was a sweetheart, and Tom N. was an ass. We kept in touch until he died, but I wish I'd been able to keep Obie closer in my life.

I regret that I married Bob just because he wanted to, when I knew it couldn't possibly last, and I walked down the aisle thinking "Oh, well, I can always get a divorce." It wasn't that easy.

I regret that I left teaching. I loved teaching. I loved my kids. I hated every minute with The Company.

I regret that I stayed so long with Paul. I don't regret marrying him, that was at least for the right reasons, but when it was obvious it was bad for both of us, I shouldn't have stubbornly kept trying to rescue it. That was pride.

I regret that I didn't flirt with Roman back in 2002. I noticed him and liked him a lot then, even then I liked hugging him, felt warm in his arms, and I now know he wanted me then, but I thought he was still solidly married. I didn't give him any encouragement. I would have, had I known. Can I regret something someone else did? I regret that he didn't tell me he was separating. I regret that he didn't come to me until the divorce was final, and by then he was emotionally embroiled with someone else, and that's still going on.

On the other hand, if I went back and fixed all those things, I'm sure other regretful things would have taken their place. If I hadn't married Bob, I suspect Obie and I might have married, and that would have spoiled a beautiful relationship. We'd have hated each other within five years. I think we both knew that at the time.

If I had spent more time with Daughter, there's a very good chance I'd have interfered more. Her personality would have chafed under that. She'd have a lot more resentment now and I'd get a lot more blame.

If I had left Paul sooner, I might never have gotten strong. It was having to take control of my life and my future and realizing that what I had been doing wasn't working that made me get help, and made me grow into myself. So if I had not married him, or if I had given up sooner, I'd probably have just repeated all the old mistakes for a lot longer.

So, I guess I can't really regret much. It's just the way it was, and maybe the way it had to be.

Except the "affairs" not being in order. I'm working on that.

678 My Hair Is Strange

Sunday, May 7, 2006

There are men on the roof again today, four of them. They're removing the shingles from the back half, and making a lot of noise. Miss Thunderfoot has glued herself to my ankle (Mommy! Mommy! There are huge rats in the attic, and they're scaring me!)

It's pretty cold in the house. It got down to 60 overnight, and is just 63 now. There's not enough sun to warm things up, which is bad for me, but good for the roofers, I guess. I may have to give in and switch back to heat, or at least throw some logs in the fireplace. The air conditioning hasn't gone on since last Tuesday, when I made the switch. (Oops - just realized the roofers might not appreciate wood smoke pouring out of the chimney, which is in the middle of where they're working. Ok. Scratch that idea.)

My hair is getting weird. Before Jay got sick, it was medium-dark reddish brown with a quarter-sized white patch right on the top of my head (which I often dyed to blend) that I'd had since my early twenties. Just before he got sick (when I was 53), I started growing some scattered white, and then during his illness, it suddenly went almost completely white in a wide band from the top of my ears to the temples and around the back of my head. The lower back and the very top of my head stayed brown with gray. It looked strange. So I started lightening the top, using the palest blond hair dye I could find. It blended in nicely.

It continued to turn, until finally there's just a small dark patch right at the front top. Sorta like Jay Leno's dark patch. (The lower back is still darker, too, by now it's dark gray, but that looks ok.) Most of the rest of the top of my head was almost white.

I was looking forward to the dark patch getting smaller and lighter, and then I could finally stop touching up the roots.

But the strangest thing is happening.

This past year, the whole top of my head is gradually getting darker! And it seems to be spreading back across the crown and the back of my head. When I look closely, it looks like blackish hairs are multiplying and mixing with the white and the few remaining brown. Used to be I could mix up a few tablespoons of the dye and touch up the roots when they got an inch and a half long. Until then, the difference wasn't very obvious - it blended and looked like just a trick of the light or something. Now, suddenly, a half inch of root looks terrible. I have to touch up every two weeks.

I vaguely remember that ingesting some metals can cause hair to change color, but I haven't been exposed to anything unusual, and haven't eaten anything unusual. Certainly not on an ongoing basis. About the only thing that's changed in the past year is my weight and activity level, and ... um ... sex life.

Can that do it?

Am I getting younger?

And what on earth can I do with this hair!