Saturday, July 22, 2006

808 Rain Dance

I want to go to an outdoor Tribal Bonfire Hafla this evening, but it's raining hard, and I don't know if or when it will stop.

I'm also shutting down and unplugging immediately - the electricity is playing games.

Friday, July 21, 2006

807 Friday

Friday, July 21, 2006

I just noticed that I've got two entries numbered 806. Fooey. Deal with it.

I went to the monthly Third Thursday dinner last night. Roman and I were the only ones to show up, so we had a nice slow relaxing three hour dinner and conversation. If I didn't know that the usual other attendees are socially dense, I'd think they knew we'd been having problems, and left us alone on purpose. We're friends again, I think.

It's pouring rain, so dense I can't see across the driveway. Miss Thunderfoot ran for the basement to hide. Storms don't usually bother her, but I guess the (slightly) open windows let more of the sound in.

I went across the river today. Visited the Gypsy at her studio, bought some underwear at Wal-Mart (in order to put off doing laundry for another week), forgot to stop at the Suzuki dealer to pick up my registration and floor mats, and decided not to go to the Maritime Museum to see the science ship that's been docked there this week. It's supposed to be very interesting, but the storm was coming, so I skipped it.


I read an article somewhere recently that said the smaller the animal, the less likely it is to go extinct. People are getting bigger. Someday my genes will be appreciated!


No funding for stem cell research? I don't quite understand the logic that finds a few cells with the potential to grow into a human so very valuable, but as soon as those cells turn 18 and we can put a uniform on them, they become expendable.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

806 The Photo of the Israeli Children Writing on the Shells

If you've seen the photographs of the Israeli children writing on the tank shells, please read this post by Lisa Goldman. She explains what was going on. Simple photographs don't always tell the whole story.

806 Wasps

After my complaint about how rain pours in through the minivan windows, I bought shields that go over the windows and divert the water. I installed one over each front side window this afternoon. We're supposed to get rain tonight, so I was thinking that if I put the covers on, I could leave the windows cracked a bit without having to worry. That would be nice.

While I was working on the van, I saw paper wasps going in and out of the gap between the side mirrors and the housing. Damn! Every once in a while when I fill the gas tank, I open the hatch to a nest. Or if I haven't opened the passenger side or a back door in a while, I'll find nests in the door frame.

If I leave the windows open a crack, how long will it be before I find a nest under the dashboard, or the brake pedal?

Any ideas how I can prevent wasps taking over the vehicles? (I noticed them checking out all the cracks and openings on the Aerio, too.) Think maybe if I move the car, park it in a different spot on the driveway or lawn every day, they'll "lose" it? (If I don't just move them with it....)

Oh, speaking of brake pedals, the Chrysler/Dodge folks worked on the minivan's brakes last week. Now there's something sticky-oily on the driveway under the passenger-side wheel works. Sigh. Pardon me while I go stick some cardboard under it so I can see what color it is and if it's still doing it. I'm really tired of this.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

805 Rest in Peace?

I've been having trouble with the internet connection over the past few days. First it was extremely slow. This usually means that the folks I dial in to are futzing around with something, and it usually gets better eventually. Yesterday it was marginally faster, but both Netscape and Firefox were program checking ("illegal operation") and crashing regularly.

Today both browsers are dying intermittently, but that's not the most troubling. I was reading a page on a site that I KNOW does NOT have music, and suddenly my speakers burst out with song - multiple voices singing "... something something something, rest in peace" and then it stopped.

I'm still clicking away here, but something's weird. I'll run a scan in a few minutes. If I disappear for a while, you'll know why. (Internet cafe? What's an internet cafe? They have them in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, but not around here.)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

804 Walks, Hawks, Looks, and Locks

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I foolishly though it would be cooler in the woods for our walk last evening. It wasn't. It was merely more humid. The sweat poured off us. I was surprised and grateful that I didn't poop out on the steep parts. We got back to the cars at 8 pm, and the temperature was 96 then.

I stopped at the grocery store on my way home, and when I came out, my glasses steamed up so badly I couldn't see to cross the parking lot. I haven't experienced that since St. Louis, when both the temperature and humidity were 100, and water would condense on your whole body when you walked out of air conditioning.

Speaking of which, it's 9 pm and 88 degrees right here in my den, and the attic fan and the (inadequate, semi-broken) air conditioner have been running steadily. We, here, are not used to this, folks.


I was awakened at 8 this morning by screaming in the woods.

I open the bathroom window before I go to bed, and the past few mornings I've been jolted awake by "Kweeeeeeeeeuh! Kweeeeeeeeeuh! Kweeeeeeeeeuh! ..." I had assumed it was a bird, but last evening on the walk, we had heard a series of loud "hurrugh!" noises that we at first thought was a bird, but by the third one we realized it was a buck, making a warning call. So this morning I realized that the sound I'm hearing is very similar to the sound a fawn in distress will make. And right outside the bathroom window is where a particular doe parks her fawns for the day. I had visions of a fawn tangled in wire or something, out there crying.

I got dressed real fast and went out.

It was hawks. There's a red-tailed couple who nest on the hill, and apparently they're trying to encourage some fledglings to fly and hunt with them. They're yelling back and forth at each other. It seems a bit late in the year, but maybe all the rain we've had has delayed the training. Nice, but disappointing. I kind of liked the idea of rescuing a fawn.


When I got home last night, I had checked out another online dating site, one I'd just heard of. I found out where all the local men are hiding! On six other sites, I never find more than 5 men in my age group within 50 miles. Last night I found 40 !!! single men within 30 !!! miles who meet my criteria. Incredible! I had to register to look at any profiles, and the site automatically built a profile for me, containing nothing more than my age and location, and I got three hits within the first half hour just on that. (I had a mental image - we used to sit on the deck at Mariner's Harbor and drop bread into the water, and watch the fish feeding frenzy.)

So I spent some time this morning uploading pictures, filling out the profile, and responding to messages. Unfortunately, so far most of my volunteer suitors are too far away, too young, or too old. In my more paranoid moments, I wonder if all these local guys have seen me on the street or something, and they're running away.


Early this afternoon I left the house for a quick trip to the deli. I took only a little money and the minivan key.

Yup. I locked myself out. (Hey Lucie! It's contagious!) Enough money for an iced coffee and a BLT. A van key that had been removed from the main key ring because of servicing. No open windows. No cell phone, no purse, no nutthin'. And dressed in grungies, no makeup, and probably smelling strongly.

I went to a neighbor's house, and she let me use her phone to call a locksmith, who was unable to come, but told me to call the police. I called the village police, and they told me they couldn't come out of the village, but to try the county police. I called the county police, and they told me that they can break into cars, but they don't break into houses. I called the only other locksmith within 20 miles on this side of the river, and the woman said she'd try to get hold of the technician, he's out on calls, she'll call me back.

So I borrowed a certain item from the neighbor. I'm not going to tell you what it was, or how I used it, or what I used it on, but once I decided where to start, it took me 10 seconds to get into the house. Faster and cheaper than a locksmith.

I gotta buy me a dog. Or fix that little exposure, AFTER I stow a spare key outside the house somewhere. Or both.

I met the neighbor in the street, as she was coming over to tell me that the locksmith wouldn't be able to come today. I returned her item, and taught her how to use it in case she ever had the same problem.

Monday, July 17, 2006

803 Mysterious Lights

Monday, July 17, 2006

I was going to take the minivan for a nice long "clear out the system" drive last evening, but when I went outside, I found the ceiling light on in the Aerio. The sun had moved low enough on the other side of the house that I could see the light on. In full sun earlier in the day, I wouldn't have noticed it. I have no idea how long it had been on. I don't believe it was on when I returned from the auction last night. I checked it, and the switch was definitely set to "full on", so it's not like it was a door ajar or whatever. (No, there's no chance that anyone had been curious and checking the car out. It's not like it's parked on a street....)

So I ended up driving the Aerio around instead. Make sure the battery got recharged.

I called the Chrysler people today and told them I would not be bringing the minivan in today - it was so good on Sunday afternoon I'd like to drive it some more and see. I'm going on a Mensa hike on mansion grounds in Poughkeepsie this evening, so I'll drive the van to that.

Should be a good test - if they want to be bad, being that far from home would be very tempting to the gremlins.

802 A/C

I've figured out why the air conditioning isn't working very well.

It's a groundwater heat pump. It pulls water from the well, runs it through tubes, blows air across the tubes and then through the house. Very simple, efficient, and cheap.

When it was already 82 in here at 10 this morning, I went downstairs and poked around a bit. I turned on a faucet attached just before the pipe enters the unit, and all I got was a trickle of water.

One of the problems with the well is that sometimes we get a lot of dirt in the water. The filter catches most of it, but not all. Mud sludge can build up in the pipes, especially, like, those not used over the winter.

I suspect there's a lot of sludge in the pipes leading to the heat pump. Even if I can clear the sludge out of the pipes, I suspect there will still be sludge in the tubes in the unit itself. That requires special tools to clean, and the company that services it has given up on it and won't service it any more. It's over 20 years old, and the company stopped manufacturing this model the year it was installed (when the house was built. Jay really got rooked on that), so parts are no longer available.

As far as I'm concerned, it's dead.

I can't just go get a window A/C to get through the next few weeks because all my windows are - I forget what they're called - they crank open like a shutter, hinges on the side, ya know? That and sliding glass doors. Noplace to install a unit. I'm not about to cut a hole in the wall for a temporary fix. I guess it's lucky that I got the roof fan this year. It could have been worse.

Any idea what happened to all my floor fans, Daughter? Coulda sworn I had at least three big ones, and now I can't find any. Did I lend them to someone? I don't remember lending any out....

I guess I'm lucky that heat doesn't much bother me. Not like cold does. Heat is just annoying because it frizzes my hair, melts my makeup off, and makes the laundry pile up faster.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

801 Can Anyone Say "Nostradamus"?

Just saw a photo of Hassan Nasrallah. He was wearing a blue turban.

800 Dehumidifier Warning

Among the list of safety warnings for my new dehumidifier is this gem:

"Do not operate in a moist environment."

Incidentally, the humidity in my basement is currently 90%. I think that may be higher than outside! I've set the machine to take it down to 40%.

799 Dehumidifier; Raccoons

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I filled the minivan's gas tank (hoping that if there is a fuel line problem, nice new clean gas might help) and drove it across the river to buy a new dehumidifier. I'm happy to report it was very well behaved. After I install the new dehumidifier, I think I'll take the van for a nice long ride.

The old dehumidifier stopped working about a month ago, and right after it quit I accidentally dropped a wrench on it, and was amazed when it immediately started up again. A few days ago it quit again. I beat it with a wrench some more, but nothing happened. I'm annoyed because I threw out two ancient dead dehumidifiers that were taking up room in the basement back when I had the dumpsters here. Now I've got another. I wish it had died sooner.

Coming back from the store I saw two dead raccoons alongside the road. I noticed the large one on the left first, then I saw the small one on the right. Sad. I guess one of them got hit first and then the other, going back and forth in distress, got hit. One adult animal wouldn't bother me so much, but I hate to see what looks like a mother and baby.

On the other hand, I've been perversely happy to see so many raccoons dead on the road this summer. We had a very bad outbreak of rabies in the early and mid 90s. It hit the raccoons especially badly, almost wiped them out. I'm happy to see them back in large enough numbers to become a silent testament on the roadsides again. I like raccoons. When I first moved to this area, I had a pack who showed up at the back door every evening, asking if I happened to have any yummy garbage, particularly stale or leftover cat food.

They can make a royal mess with your garbage cans, but they're smart and funny.

(The link above says they are solitary - but it's my experience that when there's a promising garbage can, or a friendly back door, they will cooperate in a pack. I've seen them boost each other up into garbage cans.)

798 Taste Tests

Sunday, July 16, 2006

One of the stories on CBS's "Sunday Morning" mentioned a very expensive coffee, which sells for up to $600 a pound. It's harvested from the back ends of Indonesian mongooses (mongeese?) who had eaten and partially digested the beans. However, the average taste tester couldn't taste anything special. "It tastes like ... coffee."

In fact, in coffee taste tests, people almost always choose the least expensive of the samples as the best.

I don't find this surprising at all.

Chocolate snobs are always surprised when Hershey's always wins chocolate taste tests, preferred over all those expensive imported chocolates.

I don't find that surprising either.

The reason is simple: People always prefer what they are familiar with over something new. They might like to try new stuff, but when asked which tastes best, they will always choose the familiar (comforting) sample.

And most people are familiar with cheap coffee and cheap chocolate.

There's a lesson there somewhere.