Saturday, December 16, 2006

1020 Elf, or Smurfette?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I helped out at the veteran's house today. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, perfect for working on a roof.

There were like 15 men (mostly Viet Nam era ex-Marines), and me. I've worked with all-males groups before, and I know one small woman can crimp their style quite a lot. There's a tension, because they feel like they have to curb their language, and I could feel it there today. One guy was using a nail gun on the roof and it quit nailing, so he asked someone to check the compressor, and when that proved ok, he checked the gun and determined that there was a hole in the diaphragm, so there was no pressure. He looked up and asked in general, "So, what's it mean when there's a hole in my diaphragm?" Which question was met with an uncomfortable deadly silence. I knew it was up to me to loosen them up, so I shouted back, "It means you're really screwed!" They all laughed very loudly, and although they continued to watch their language (thank you, gentlemen), the tension was gone.

There were three major efforts - replacing a portion of the roof and reshingling the whole roof, replacing the ceilings inside, and clearing out the basement. My job was mostly clearing up. I gathered up old roof shingles that had been scraped to the ground, the wrappers and tapes from the new shingles, the old ceiling tiles, and junk the guys were removing from the basement, and put it all in the dumpster (which required climbing up and down on a stone wall). I also made several runs to the hardware store.

They knocked off when the light disappeared, at about 5 pm. At 6 pm, I was sitting on a Kingston city trolley bus taking a Rotary-sponsored tour of decorated houses. Very pretty. When the bus paused at an especially nice house, the driver honked the horn, and the homeowners came out onto the porch to wave and be waved at.

With all the bending and lifting today, and carrying and tossing heavy stuff, and then sitting for more than an hour on the slippery wooden seats of the trolley bus, I really thought my back would be hurting tonight. But it's not. It feels fine. My thighs know they've had a workout, but that actually feels good.

I'm going back tomorrow.

Friday, December 15, 2006

1019 Augmenteth Thy Codpiece!

Friday, December 15, 2006


Until recently I didn't understand people who were afraid of clowns. He's not exactly a clown, but the King in the Burger King commercials downright scares me. I know there's an ordinary person under that head, but that doesn't matter. If I saw just the head/mask sitting on a table it would scare me. Something about the expression on the face.

I'm very tired of Bob, the guy with the "something big in the neighborhood" (like the title of this entry). Partly it's his expression, too, and partly that his neighborhood and neighbors seem very suburban '50s. And the smirking double meanings. Annoying.

I like the Geico caveman commercials. I like the cavemen. Again, it's their expressions. The more I see them, the sexier I find them. I also like the parallel to feminism. Thirty-five years ago, Geico could have put up the same billboards, saying "So easy a woman could do it", and no one would have blinked twice. Women would have had and gotten the same reactions as the cavemen. It's like Geico is saying "We're running out of groups to put down", and I think that's funny.

The award for the most effective commercial has to go to "Head-On. Apply directly to the forehead. Head-On. Apply directly to the forehead." First off, you can't forget the name of the product. Best, it has become a joke. Every talk show has made fun of it. So for the price of a few seconds of commercial time, the product is getting hours of exposure.

The new PC pregnancy

Ok, I can understand the intent behind "We're pregnant." You want to include him. But I still don't like it. "We're expecting" maybe, but "he" isn't pregnant! I think it belittles the changes and discomforts she's going through.

Well, I sputtered at the TV the other night when Tori Spelling patted her round belly and said "...this little one inside of us." Us? Us? Inside of us? Wait 'til it has to come out, lady, and then tell me about "us".

Bah, humbug

I didn't go to the Christmas party this evening.

When I got home from dinner last night I fired off a e-note to the hostess asking for directions, and whether she'd like me to bring anything in particular. I decided that if I hadn't heard from the hostess by 5 pm, I wasn't going to go. There were several people I could have called for directions, but I decided not to. I decided to let Fate decide (because maybe I didn't really want to go after all).

I guess she doesn't check her email at work, because she didn't respond until almost 6 pm, and I found her note at 6:30. The party started at 7, and it would take me over two hours to get dressed, put together a munchy, and drive there. I didn't want to go late. With this bunch, it probably wouldn't go past 10 pm, if even that late.

(Yeah, I could have gotten washed, dressed, munchied, and gassed up earlier, but - more evidence that I didn't really want to. I helped Fate along a bit.)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

1018 Stuff

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I went to a Mensa dinner tonight in Kingston. There were seven of us tonight, and it's weird, but all but one of my favorite people were there. I got talked into going to the Christmas party tomorrow (Friday) night. I hadn't planned to, but most of my favorite people will be there, so....

I distributed that list of Christmas carols on the Mensa Yahoo group, and got a few additions:
- Pyromania - "Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, how beautifully you're burning..."
- Paranoia was "Santa Claus is coming to town to get me". It was pointed out that could also be for (drum roll) claustrophobia. (Ta-da-rump!)

After he got home this evening, Roman sent me an email attachment of a video. I don't know how to put it in here, but the audio is at It's funny. (You might be able to find the video on your own if you search for "hu_sonfirst.wmv".)

There's a Vietnam vet living near here in a house that's falling apart. A tree fell and punched a hole in the roof, and the walls have been water-damaged. In addition, there are some serious plumbing problems. The man's son lives downriver about an hour, and he's worried. The man has some health problems, and is too proud to accept help. So, the son has managed to convince his father to come for a short visit, and thereby vacate the house for a weekend, with the understanding that work will be done on the house while he's not there. That way, he doesn't have to "accept" help. It's like elves came and did it.

It's not a Habitat for Humanity project, but the guy organizing the work crew got permission to use the HfH volunteer email list (which I'm on), and I guess there are some veteran groups involved, too. So I called and said I'd be there. Even if all I do is stand at the bottom of a ladder and hand tools and materials up, that will help.

Piper is all upset that I'm not "into" Christmas. We almost got into a fight about it at lunch Wednesday. I'm willing to let him celebrate any way he wants, but I'm not willing to listen to a lecture on "the meaning of". First off, the "meaning" has been so distorted and embroidered, there's no meaning left. Second, if you can't live it every day, you shouldn't get all holy on one day. Besides, I think you have to be a Christian first, and I've decided that in all honesty, I'm not. Not the way Christians define it, anyway.

So, anyway, he has insisted that I join him and his lady at dinner at their favorite restaurant on Christmas Eve. I'm conflicted. I'd like to meet her, but I really truly don't want "saving". I'd be a lot happier if there was a larger group.

Hey, I'm an elf. That should be good enough.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

1017 Autism; Left-Handedness

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I had lunch with Piper today. Before lunch we went over the financial picture. I'm not sure what he's built for me is exactly what I wanted - I wanted diversity, but I also require a certain income that I'm not sure is there. I guess my main problem is that I'm strongly averse to spending principal, I'm used to having interest and dividends to spend, and the way it's set up now I have to sell something to take money out, and that feels too much like spending principal. Actually, what I'd be spending is growth.

It's going to take some time until it stops scaring me. I'm trying very hard to be patient, but he can see I'm nervous. It must be the way my eyes and eyebrows get all big and worried when he runs numbers past me. At the same time, I have every confidence in him.

I just wish he'd stop telling me to be good to myself, and spend some. Ack! I've been poor, and I didn't like it at all.


I came across an article today on how left-handed people have faster communication between the two hemispheres of the brain, which makes them faster at such things as games, sports, and driving in heavy traffic, and allows them to use both sides of the brain in processing language and other high-speed tasks. They are bi-cerebral.

A man's mind will hook me faster than a handsome face. Roman's mind fascinates me. He's mentally very fast, and true. He's an impressive driver, too, and that's not something one would normally notice.

He's a lefty.

The left-handed brain:

That (and the misspelling of "Asperger" in the preceding post) led me to an interesting paper titled "Is Autism an Extreme Form of the 'Male Brain'?" The paper is fairly straightforward and simple. They note that typical male brains tend to be better at spacial tasks, and typical female brains tend to be better at social tasks (said notes bounded by the usual PC-required disclaimers, including that for the purposes of discussion, a woman can have a "male brain", and a man can have a "female brain", and there are overlaps). If you put spatial skills at one end of a spectrum, and social skills at the other, then you find:

Spatial skills
-- Autism
-- Asperger Syndrome
-- Normal Male
-- Cognitively Balanced
-- Normal Female
Social skills

The paper is well written, descriptions of how the mind handles tasks are very good. It leaves open a lot of questions for further research.

I found it interesting because I used to tell Jay that he had the most "male" brain I'd ever encountered. He was obviously way up there on the scale. He even had the thing where he saw the parts but not the whole. He saw a lot of things differently. If you asked him to draw a fence, he was likely to draw the spaces where the fence wasn't, rather than start with posts and rails. It ended up looking the same, but he approached it differently. I used to tease him about having an excess of "testosterone-on-the-brain".

And then he got the Asperger diagnosis. (And those folks who wrote the paper got PAID for their observations....)

His mind fascinated me, too.

Paper - "Is Autism an Extreme Form of the 'Male Brain'?"


1016 Santa-mentally Yours

[Later Edit - corrected spelling of "Asperger". I copied it over without noticing. Don't know how I missed that - Jay was an Aspie.]

Going around:

Schizophrenia - Do You Hear What I Hear?

Multiple Personality Disorder - We Three Kings Disoriented Are

Dementia - I Think I'll be Home for Christmas

Narcissistic - Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me

Manic - Deck the Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Buses and Trucks and Trees ...

Paranoid - Santa Claus is Coming to Town to Get Me

Borderline Personality Disorder - Thoughts of Roasting on an Open Fire

Personality Disorder - You Better Watch Out, I'm Gonna Cry, I'm Gonna Pout, Maybe I'll Tell You Why

Attention Deficit Disorder - Silent night, Holy ooooo look at the pretty, can I have a chocolate, why is France so far away?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle,Bells, Jingle Bells...

Asperger Syndrome - Huh? Carol who?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

1015 International?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Sitemeter said I had a visit from someone in Germany. I clicked on the "Referring URL", and found a copy of my entire journal translated into German! Archives included.


1014 Tired

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Very tired today. I tried to go to bed early last night, but didn't get to sleep very quickly, and didn't sleep well. I kept having very strange thoughts. Like I'm worrying about things that don't exist at all. The last time I can remember this kind of trouble sleeping was during menopause.

I'm also freezing. It was "unseasonably warm" outside today, in the 40s I guess, and it's warm in the house, but I'm still freezing. I have shoes, knee socks, slacks, and a turtle neck sweater on, and I had to put my fuzzy robe on over it all. I'm thinking about putting insulated snowboots on, too. It's like I'm feeling drafts where none exist. I'm also starting a headache, and I'm hearing a high-pitched ding-ding-ding for which I cannot find a source. It must be in my head, because I heard it in the car, too. Maybe I'm fighting off a virus.

I went to a pot luck lunch at the maritime museum today. It was pretty good, but I left a little early because of the headache starting. The museum is technically closed for the winter, but they're doing a lot of work in the office, setting up for next season's programs. The coordinator said I would be of use if I wanted to come in, but right now, all I want to do is hibernate. I didn't commit.

I think I'll get some bills paid and then just go to bed. I got a notice yesterday that my house insurance is going to be cancelled for nonpayment of premium if I don't get a check to them next week. Yeah, I was wondering when the premium bill would arrive. The same thing happened last year - I swear I never got the bill. Maybe they've screwed up the billing address somehow, but the cancellation notices seem to arrive just fine.

Oh, just remembered something else for the "don't understand" file. A state commission has recommended closure of something like 10 hospitals. The state budget has also reduced the amount of aid other hospitals are getting, which means that a lot of hospitals will be forced to close or merge. On the same page of the newspaper, next column over, there's an article about the nursing shortage, and how desperate it is, and how the state wants to offer incentives for people to go to nursing school.

Um, seems to me like there will soon be a lot of nurses out of work....

Monday, December 11, 2006

1013 How to Train a Cat

Monday, December 11, 2006

I found out how to keep Miss Thunderfoot from sleeping next to my face.

  1. On Friday, make rice/mushroom/leek soup. (I'm Welsh. I like leeks.) It being the wrong time of the year for fresh leeks to make cream of potato/leek soup, use a fancy expensive dry package mix which seems to have a beef broth base.
  2. Freeze three individual servings. Put two servings in the refrigerator. Eat one serving.
  3. Suffer no "problems".
  4. Saturday, do not eat any.
  5. Sunday, warm and eat a serving from the refrigerator.
  6. Suffer "problems", big time!
Guaranteed the cat will stay away. I wanted to stay away. In fact, I kept leaving the room I was in, but I kept following me. Miss Thunderfoot chose not to get anywhere near any openings in the bedding.

I'm tempted to eat more tonight, just to reinforce the lesson, but I need to get some sleep tonight. Didn't get much last night. I kept trying to get away from me.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

1012 Offended

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Watching the news. Gov. Pataki and legislature talking about a law that would keep s3xual off3nders* locked up in psychiatric hospitals after their prison sentence expires.

I don't understand.

I understand the argument that some types of s3xual off3nders revert after prison. I understand the argument that they "can't be cured". Not that I necessarily agree, I just understand the argument.

What I don't understand is that if a psychiatric hospital is the proper place for them because they are still "sick" and require treatment, etc. etc., which is the proffered argument for detaining them beyond their sentence, then isn't that where they should have been in the first place? What was the purpose of putting them in prison for yea many years first, where they got no or very little treatment? Isn't there something in the Bill of Rights about this? If this is what we really want, if this makes sense, then shouldn't the original sentence have been hospitalization until certified cured? Why aren't they changing the sentencing quidelines/requirements to that?

It's like the more powerful party to a contract changing the terms of a signed and executed contract just because they later decide they don't like it.

I can think of several areas this kind of thinking could expand into, and it scares me.

* the "3" is in there to foil search engines. I don't especially want people searching for that term to find this.

1011 Matching Photos

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Answer to the photos in entry 1009 Manly Men:
I gave it away when I earlier said that the photo of Jay and me was taken on my sister's boat. Yeah, that's my sister. My youngest sister, not the one I've recently reconnected with, and her husband. At the time of the picture, I was about 52 and she was 44ish, same age as Jay.

I like these pictures a lot. They stand next to each other, and everyone who has ever looked at them has said almost the same thing.
They: "Oh, what a good photo of you. Is that your husband?"
Me: "Yes, that's Jay."
They: (Peering at the other picture and pointing) "This is obviously your sister!"
Me: "Yes. And her husband."
They: (Peering closer, back and forth between the photos, growing frown) "You two married brothers!?"

Pure coincidence that they look similar. Their personalities and everything else about them couldn't have been more different.

Youngest sister (YS) and her husband (SH) were both alcoholics. They met at the meetings. At the time they were married, she had been sober for two years. He had a deep soft southern drawl, and she was the sweetest thing walking. At first they were very good together. They loved each other with every fiber of their being, and for a little while it was good. They bought a little house, acquired some pets, and YS was so proud.

But SH, although a skilled carpenter and talented furniture-maker, having spent a significant portion of his life lying drunk under bridges, didn't have a very solid self-image. He couldn't believe YS would stay with him. After a while, he wouldn't allow her to go to the meetings, because he was afraid she'd meet someone better. But she kept doing scary things like ... getting jobs. And going to work.

He found that the easiest way to keep her all to himself was to keep her drunk.

Pretty soon they were both drinking heavily. Neither of them could hold a job. Then the fights started. Accusations. Beatings. Neighbors calling the cops. One or both of them getting hauled off to jail, or her being involuntarily committed to rehab to dry out. He never let her stay in rehab - he'd convince her to leave as soon as the involuntary period was up. They lost the house they were so proud of.

At the time those photos were taken, the two of them had not been drinking for four days - the length of our visit with them up to that point - and had not yet lost the house. At that time, I didn't know they were drinking at all. They were able to maintain the fiction for a week. We didn't know what was happening.

This is not my outside observation. She told me these things after Jay and I got home. She was frightened. She didn't know how to stop the downward spiral. I offered to pay for rehab at a classy center, but she'd have to agree not to see or speak to him until she was strong again. (Well, strong, finally, perhaps for the first time. She'd been sexually abused as a child, and severely physically and emotionally abused until she got out of the family home - we all were, but she the worst of all - and she really never had a chance. She always felt that everything was always her fault.) He'd have to go to rehab, too, but at a different place. She refused. She knew that telling him she wanted any kind of separation from him, even temporary, would push him over the edge.

Within a year of this photo, they were living in a shack in North Carolina with no heat and no running water, and one Monday, after a weekend drunk, he awoke to find her dead. She had apparently been dead for at least two days, and he hadn't noticed. There was no autopsy, but we assume alcohol poisoning or whatever. He died less than a year later, same cause.

I like these pictures a lot.

1010 I Screwed Up

Sunday, December 10, 2006

I messed up big time. Back in 1008 Complaints, I said "Seems like almost everything is messed up lately."


Last night I was supposed to meet a friend for dinner. I completely forgot.

This morning I was supposed to be sitting at a table at Barnes & Noble wrapping gifts for donations to the Mensa Scholarship fund. I completely forgot. And I had committed to that on Friday. I do it every year.

I had told the wrapping organizer that I could cover only 9 am 'til 1 pm at B&N, because I was meeting someone at 2 today. I completely forgot about that, too. I didn't realize I was supposed to be somewhere until I got a call at 2:30 today asking where I was last night.


There's a calendar on the wall in the kitchen, and I look at it every time I walk past it, a dozen times a day, and the only thing I can think of is that I've been looking at the wrong weekend. But that doesn't work, because if so, I'd have been a (wrong) somewhere else last night.

I don't do stuff like this. I will occasionally decide at the last minute not to go somewhere or do something, but not if someone is depending on me, like the wrapping, and at least then it's a conscious decision.

This reminds me of the late '60s, when I was so messed up I never knew what day it was, every morning I thought it was Wednesday, I got stuck in Wednesday, so seven days a week I'd dress and go to work, and if there were no cars in the parking lot, I'd go back home.

It doesn't feel like Sunday now. It feels like Wednesday.

1009 Manly Men

For your amusement. The first photo is, of course, Jay and me. The second photo is --- guess. Answer tomorrow. (Hint: They are married, and it isn't Gary.)