Sunday, December 30, 2007

1619 Birth Announcements

Sunday, December 30, 2007

I've been reading the hospital birth announcements in the newspaper again. I shouldn't. They make me sad.

In over half of the announcements where the mother and father are listed, the mother and father have different last names. That's mostly meaningless. I didn't change my name when Jay and I married. But in many of those cases in the paper, I suspect it wasn't that kind of choice.

The ones that bother me most are the one third or more where the father's name is not listed.

Repeat - one third.

It makes me sad.

1618 Saturday

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Yesterday I took a load of cardboard and paper to the recycle center. I knew that since it was the first time it was open since Christmas, the bins (construction dumpsters) would fill up quickly, so I went early.

It was a mess! They're putting in some paved access and parking, so more than half the area is blocked off, and the construction vehicles are taking up a lot of the remaining space. People try to park as close as possible to their target bin, and there was no room to turn around to get out. The mud and puddles were ankle deep.

Well, I didn't beat the crowds, had to wait in the line of cars to get in for a good 20 minutes, but at least there was still room in the bins.

Then I spent the afternoon helping a friend and her husband move her dressmaking business. I remember all the machines, cutting tables, and fabric supplies she had when she was working out of her home. Then she moved to an industrial space, and now she's moving to another, and I had to laugh. It looks like business equipment follows the same rule as computer software - it will expand to fill the space available.

When I got home I found some bad news about New Year's Eve plans. I was angry and sad, and didn't feel like I had a right to my anger, and so I did what so many women do when they're upset - I hacked at my hair. I'd trimmed my bangs a few days ago, and they were unevenly cut and not well tapered. Last night I started out trimming, and ended up hacking, and now they're WAY too short. It's pixied. That means the top wants to stand straight up, and there's too little hair on the sides. Mere wisps. My ears are exposed completely, and I noticed with horror that my earlobes are getting longer. I'm expecting them to start flapping when I walk any day now.

Well, at least it's now well cut, no chopped spots, and will eventually grow out.

Friday, December 28, 2007

1617 Oil Again...

Friday, December 28, 2007

Busy day yesterday. 2.5 hour lunch with one friend, and a 3.5 hour dinner with a different friend. For dinner we chose a diner where we could sit without being rushed out after the meal, and we went through his vacation photo CD, and then some photos from a photography class he's taking. And that was pretty much yesterday.

I mentioned to Roman on the phone Wednesday that I'd run out of oil, and had got an emergency delivery, and he said the same thing had happened to him, he'd run out, too, earlier than expected.

Now, Roman has this thing that drives me crazy. He argues. And he gets very superior and condescending about it. When I said that I was completely out, and got 253.1 gallons for my 250 gallon tank, he said that's impossible, that the tanks come in 200 and 275 sizes. I insisted that my tank was 250, and he decided I was wrong. It couldn't be. Either I have a 275 gallon tank and wasn't completely out, or I have a 200 gallon tank and got ripped off by 53 gallons.

Then we were talking about the price, and I said I was getting a discount for prepayment, and he said he pays current price. I asked how much, so he went and got his bill, and oddly enough, he'd got exactly 253.1 gallons, too! (Different oil companies.)

Smackdown time!

He he! Snork!

Gee, Roman, either you weren't completely out, or....

Even better, he paid a dollar more per gallon than I.

I was rolling on the floor hugging myself.

1616 CPR Study

Friday, December 28, 2007

In CPR classes they teach you to alternate chest compression with ventilation. A new study says that compression alone will suffice. The article (at seems to imply at first that it's because bystanders are reluctant to do mouth-to-mouth, so compression alone is better than nothing. But the actual study compared ventilation plus compression to compression alone, and found no significant difference:

Earlier this year, the then-largest study comparing survival rates of cardiac arrest victims in the light of the kind of rescue efforts performed by bystanders concluded that chances of leaving the hospital alive were actually higher for patients who received Continuous-Chest-Compression CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation by bystanders with chest compression only (SOS-KANTO): an observational study; Lancet 2007:369:920-926).

Dr. Ewy says, “It is interesting that Continuous-Chest-Compression CPR, a technique that has not been advocated or taught and is most often performed by individuals not trained in CPR, results in similar survival as the guidelines-advocated approach, on which millions of hours and millions of dollars have been spent teaching and advocating.”

He adds that mouth-to-mouth ventilation is disadvantageous in cases of sudden cardiac arrest for three primary reasons. “A person whose heart suddenly stops, for example because of a heart attack, was breathing normally only seconds earlier so there is plenty of oxygen in the blood. The important thing is to move the blood around, and this is only possible by uninterrupted chest compressions. During CPR, blood flow to the brain and the heart is so marginal that stopping for anything, including ventilation, is harmful to the brain. In addition, research has shown that forced ventilation, including mouth-to-mouth breathing, increases the pressure in the patient’s chest, which in turn inhibits blood flow back to the heart.”

(Actually, survival rates are dismal in any case. But you have to try, I guess.)

So, CPR might become easier to learn. You still have to learn, because most people (even those who have taken the class) don't press in the right place. And you have to compress pretty quickly - more than once per second. And if you break a rib or two, you aren't compressing too hard - in fact, that's probably about right.

I will be happy to do away with ventilation. Not because I object to mouth-to-mouth, that really doesn't bother me (I carry a mask), but because when you're doing it alone, it takes time to get the head and neck in the proper position. I've seen even trained EMTs blow up the stomach instead of the lungs. (Besides not helping, it can lead to vomiting, which is a danger in itself, besides screwing up the rhythm. Bleck.)

I wonder if a change in recommendation will happen? And how soon?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

1615 Speculation on Oil

For those who keep track of such things - I usually use 800 gallons of fuel oil per year. Last year was a mild winter, and I used only 500, a portion of which was even left over from the winter before.

I don't know why this winter is so "oily". It might be that we've had a lot more wind, and I'm high enough to be affected by it. It could also be that my new roof isn't insulating as well as the old one, although the snow cover stayed on the roof longer this year than ever before. It could be that the new larger ventilating fan in the attic is alowing the attic to get colder.

In short - as usual, I Don't Understand.


Several years ago, a local realtor was trying to sell the land to the north of us. That lot had no access to our street, and their drive would have to go down to the main road, and the ridge was very steep on that side. The realtor visited us (Jay was alive then) and asked if it would be possible for new owners to cut a drive through the woods across the crest of the ridge to our driveway, for emergency access just during the snow months. Otherwise, she doubted she'd ever be able to sell it. We said yes, no problem, but then we never heard anything else about it.

The land sold about two years ago I think, and there's a huge house there now that I can almost glimpse when the leaves are off the trees.

My regular oil delivery man told me that the folks who bought and built apparently weren't familiar with ice and snow. Their driveway is very long and steep, with two "U"s in it, and turn-around or not, the fuel delivery trucks flat out can't chance it in the winter. So the owners had to put in several very large fuel tanks which they fill in the fall.

I hope they're better at estimating usage than I am.

1614 Thank You, Plow Man

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I was up late last night, so I slept late this morning. Usually the cats let me sleep, but this morning Jasper was bouncing all over my legs by 10:30, and Miss Thunderfoot was complaining loudly. Very unusual for her. I was having a nice dream, and held out until 11, but finally gave up and got up.

Their complaint was that it was 60 degrees (F) in the house.

I have a programmed thermostat, so the temperature does drop during the night, but never lower than 63, and it should be above 70 by 9 am. Something was wrong, and the cats didn't like it. Not one bit.

Neither did I.

The furnace fan was blowing, but it was blowing cold air. The outside temperature was 32. Freezing. We had power. I went to the basement, and the furnace was "running", but it was cold. The fuel tank gauge said "empty". I knocked on it with a knuckle, and it was hollow all the way down. I have a 250 gallon tank. I got a delivery only two months ago. Ouch!

Remember my chief concern about getting the top of my drive cleared? So the fuel oil truck could get up and turned around?

I called the oil company and told them I was out and needed an emergency delivery, then moved the Aerio to the street to make sure the truck could turn around. Within the hour, I heard the "beep beep" of a truck backing up the drive.

Backing up?

It was a new guy, and he didn't know that Ms. Silk always makes sure he can turn around (although the dispatcher knew, and had made sure to send a small truck). I met him at the top of the driveway, and scolded him, "Sheesh! I did all this work (waving at the cleared top) to make sure you'd be able to turn around, and you BACK up the drive? But I've gotta admire your courage!"

I guess it was a scary trip. This complete stranger walked up to me and hugged me, with a relieved laugh.

It took 253.1 gallons, at $2.449/gal. $619.84 total. It would have cost a lot more, but I had prepaid in September, with a discount on the September price. I've got one more delivery's worth of credit, then I'll have to pay the real price.

Let's hope it's a short winter.

Monday, December 24, 2007

1613 Keen

Monday, December 24, 2007

This started out as a response to Chis's comment on entry #1611, where he asks if the strange noises could have anything to do with a fault zone. I decided to make my response to his query an entry itself:

Not a fault zone, exactly. But the house is perched on a rock ridge, about 2 miles from the Hudson river. Between here and the river is another ridge. Railroad tracks run along the banks of the river, and sometimes, not all the time but sometimes, I can feel the vibration of the trains. Something to do with the rock shelves, I suppose.

Sound carries very far, too. There was a police bagpipe band that practiced IN a firehouse a good ten miles away as the crow flies, across the river, beyond two ridges, and on summer Sunday afternoons I could hear them clearly inside my closed house. The back wall of the house is about half glass, and it collects and amplifies sound. Outside, no one could hear the sound. Inside, I had a concert.

The keening I heard last night could have been coming from 10 miles or 10 feet away. It sounded like a half-asleep hawk, or a fawn in difficulty. (Or a rabbit dying, but I prefer to discount that one.) It continued off and on for three hours. It's too early for fawns, so I don't know.

The last time I heard a similar sound I was convinced it was a fawn in trouble. There's a doe who parks her new twin fawns in the woods just outside my bathroom window, and I thought perhaps one had gotten trapped somehow. When I investigated, I discovered the red-tailed hawks who nest out back were teaching their fledgelings how to fly and dive and soar, and the sounds were calls, encouragement, and exuberance.

It just SOUNDED like a distress call.

1612 Kitty Update

Monday, December 24, 2007

I've had many cats in my life. Most of them went through a youthful phase where they wanted to climb everything, explore everywhere. Every one of them was delicate about it. They all could walk across a crowded knick-knack shelf and never knock anything off. They carefully tested the footing before venturing onto a heap of anything.

Jasper is a total klutz.

A few months ago, I tracked his progress through the house by the "Eeeep, Eeeep?" (he's a talker). Now I know where he is by the crashes and thuds.

He's my first (young) male cat. Is that the difference?

1611 From Afar, Very Afar

Monday, December 24, 2007

Today I received a Christmas email from ... man, I'm not even sure who. Jay's mother had like 3rd-degree relatives in Sweden, and next summer some of them are coming to visit relatives in Mass., and Niagra Falls, with a short stay in the Rochester NY area. The woman sent the email to Jay's father, and Jay's sisters and I (although they probably thought Jay would be receiving the email - I'm still using his id) were copied. She hopes to see "us" while here.

My head is spinning.

How did she get the email addresses? Obviously she's in touch with someone....

In my family, my sister and I don't know where our youngest brother is. I have no idea where any of my 1st degree cousins are. Occasionally I find one, usually at a funeral of an aunt or uncle, but then I lose them again, and the aunt and uncle supply is dropping rapidly. But Jay's family hovers around each other constantly, out to the 3rd and 4th degree, and new members are cropping up all the time.

My entire family is dysfunctional. But although Jay's family looks so perfect from the outside, I know they're dysfunctional, too, just more subtly. His family has a very strict set of social standards that my family never subscribed to. Perhaps some might call it breeding.

Different dynamics.


I'm getting strange noises in and outside the house again. Last night there was a weird keening in the woods. I've never heard it before.

Just a few minutes ago there was a thud somewhere in or close outside the house, exactly the sound of a heavy box being dropped on the floor. I hadn't heard anyone come up the drive, but I checked the porch anyway to see if there was a package. Nothing.

Sometimes birds fly into the glass walls on the back, or into the siding, but it didn't sound like that - unless it was a turkey falling out of the air onto the deck.

Mystery. I don't like it.


I've figured out why Jasper insisted his name was Jasper. He was trying to say Exjasperate.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

1610 Silent Night

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Simon and Garfunkel's Silent Night - 7 o'clock News - 1966. Set to various covers of TIME magazine. From: rsensorat3 .


Silent night
Holy night
All is calm
All is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.
- - - - - - - - - - -
This is the early evening edition of the news.

The recent fight in the House of Representatives was over the open housing section of the Civil Rights Bill. It brought traditional enemies together but it left the defenders of the
measure without the votes of their strongest supporters. President Johnson originally proposed an outright ban covering discrimination by everyone for every type of housing but it had no chance from the start and everyone in Congress knew it. A compromise was painfully worked out in the House Judiciary Committee.

In Los Angeles today comedian Lenny Bruce died of what was believed to be an overdose of narcotics. Bruce was 42 years old.

Dr. Martin Luther King says he does not intend to cancel plans for an open housing march Sunday into the Chicago suburb of Cicero. Cook County Sheriff Richard Ogleby asked King to call off the march and the police in Cicero said they would ask the National Guard to be called out if it is held. King, now in Atlanta, Georgia, plans to return to Chicago Tuesday.

In Chicago Richard Speck, accused murderer of nine student nurses, was brought before a grand jury today for indictment. The nurses were found stabbed and strangled in their Chicago apartment.

In Washington the atmosphere was tense today as a special subcommittee of the House Committee on Un-American activities continued its probe into anti-Viet nam war protests.
Demonstrators were forcibly evicted from the hearings when they began chanting anti-war slogans.

Former Vice-President Richard Nixon says that unless there is a substantial increase in the present war effort in Viet Nam, the U.S. should look forward to five more years of war.
In a speech before the Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in New York, Nixon also said opposition to the war in this country is the greatest single weapon working against the U.S.

That's the 7 o'clock edition of the news.

Time passes. Only the details change.

Silent Night - Iraq. From: ChristellaKury .


Saturday, December 22, 2007

1609 Plowed on Yule!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Hairless Hunk has come through! I got a call this morning from a guy who plows, who said the Hunk had given him my number. He came. He plowed all around the edges of the turnaround. Now I can get oil deliveries! I'm so happy!

I'll trim around the edges and knock off some corners with the coal shovel and snowthrower this afternoon or tomorrow, and then it will all be perfect.

The snow banks on the sides are over five feet high. Lotta snow.


The solstice was last night, actually early this morning. This is Yule, the natural northern hemisphere New Year, when the lifegiving sun returns, light triumphs over darkness, and the promise is renewed. Happy Yule.

Happy me.

Now if only I could get to my woodpile beyond that 5' wall of ice and snow, I could celebrate it properly. I think a cup of hot chocolate will have to do.

Friday, December 21, 2007

1608 Scary

Friday, December 21, 2007

There's an Ambien commercial wherein a streetlight bends around and sticks its head through a window, and examines a sleeping couple.

The ad agancy probably doesn't realize that that commercial is frightening to people who sat through '50s sci-fi movies featuring death-dealing alien robots with heads like the streetlight, and who then after the movie rode home on a bicycle through the dark.

Fifty-plus years, and that silvery head with a glowing eye on a flexible neck is still scary.

I called the number in the letter in the previous post, and asked what my temporary password is. The Verizon person insisted the password was in the letter. I read her the sentence. Several times. She still insisted the password was in the letter. I finally convinced her I was too stupid to figure it out, and she should give me another.

That's scary, too.

1607 What's My Password?

Several days ago I attempted to open an account with Verizon. I understand that I can send photos from my cell phone to that account, and then just download them.

So, I went to the website. The procedure was that they would send me a password, as a text msg to my phone. For some reason, they couldn't. I don't know why. So the website said they would send it snail mail.

This is the letter I received Thursday:
"Your temporary Password for My Account is ."

Very helpful. Why am I not surprised?

1606 A Musical Gift

A gift for y'all.


You know, I never knew the words, anyway. Sounds fine to me....

Thursday, December 20, 2007

1605 Santa?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I awoke to another inch of snow on the driveway. Sigh. My arms are too sore today to attempt more shovel chopping, and the forecast is for some above freezing days with sun, so I'm going to let the drive go a little longer, I guess.

I walked down the driveway to go to the post office and grocery store this afternoon, and walking back up I could see my roof.

There's a trail of footprints on the roof, starting (or ending) at the garage, going across the ell, and then across and over the main roof. They're rather large dents in the fresh snow, spaced about two or more feet apart. I'd guess squirrel, except that squirrel prints would be in a line. These are alternating left and right, like human footprints.

'Tis a mystery.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

1604 Tired

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I got the snowthrower tire back late yesterday (they could find nothing wrong, and it's holding air now), put it on the snowthrower today, and tried to finish the driveway. The crust is now so firm the snowthrower won't push into it. I had to chop the snow ahead of the snowthrower with a coal shovel (the snow shovel wouldn't break the crust) at 8" intervals, then use the snowthrower to toss the resulting chunks.

We're talking several thousand lifts, stabs, and levers of a heavy all-business shovel. My biceps are in knots, and I am so very tired.

All I've got done is about 300 feet of the drive. I have not cleared enough of the turn-around at the top to get my car up yet. Well, actually, I can get it up, but there's not enough room yet to turn it around, and there's no way I will attempt to back down. I have to clear the turn-around, or I won't get a fuel oil delivery, and I suspect I'm going to need a one-a-them before the end of winter.

I have been unsuccessful at finding someone to plow it. My usual guy's truck is out of commission, the backup guy is taking on no new business before Christmas, and others take one look at the area at the top and say "No way!" (You have to be very good at directing the snow deposits. Requires finesse.)

More chopping and clearing tomorrow. I just hope my arms don't escape overnight.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

1603 Snow Emergency Pooping

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The previous post, by some strange mental connection, reminded me of a tale told by a friend who had spent some time in Antarctica some 30 or 40 years ago.

The latrines had been built a short distance from the housing. Nowadays I suppose they use chemical toilets or something, but back then things were more primitive, and not so ecologically conscious. He says it was just holes dug in the snow pack under a heated outhouse. Painted half-moon on the door and all. I guess they figured anything deposited there would freeze, and they'd just fill in the hole when they left.

It didn't freeze.

Unbeknownst to them, it moved. The deposits flowed down the slight slope, under the pristine surface. An underground brownish-yellow river. ("Kitchens uphill, latrines down!") They didn't discover what was happening until the first guy broke through the crust and almost got buried alive. It got to where folks were afraid to walk outside, because they weren't sure where it all went.

He also talks about penguins. The penguins would bunch up at the edge of the ice, peering over into the water, looking for killer whales. They had to go into the water, because they had to eat, but no one wanted to be the first in. So they'd bunch up, and then one penguin would bump another, knocking him in, and they'd all rush to that spot to see what happened to him.

If he was safe, they'd all go in. If a whale got him, they'd all go in (figuring the whale was busy, I guess).

That's REAL testing the waters.

1602 Snow Emergency Parking

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Many of the municipalities around here have snow emergency condition rules. Some say that during a snow emergency (which is apparently defined as "We gotta plow the streets") you have to park only on the even side of the street until 8 pm, then switch to the odd side until 8 pm the next day, back and forth until the emergency conditions are over. At least two local towns say that during actual snow storms, there is NO parking allowed on municipal streets at all. Even during business hours.

If you screw up during a snow emergency, your car is towed.


I've never lived anywhere that I didn't have a driveway or parking lot, so I don't understand at all how people cope with that.

All these municipalities have apartments upstairs over shops in the business districts, and no alleys or lots. Many people park on the street because there's no where else to park.

What do they do?

How do they know how long the SE lasts? It seems to have nothing to do with whether your street has already been cleared.

Street sides have to be switched at 8 pm. What if you work second shift? How do you move your car?

I live two miles outside my village, and I don't have the faintest idea when or whether they enforce SE parking rules. I have on occasion passed through the village at like 3 am a day or two after a storm, and have found that they block off streets and go down them with enormous machines that gobble up snowbanks and fill dump trucks, and during that operation there are no cars on those streets. Some of them are residential streets, where few houses have driveways. Where are those cars? I have this picture in my mind of the enormous augers gobbling up cars and spitting them into dump trucks.

It's not like I don't know anyone who lives with these conditions - I just forget to ask.

1601 Names...

Law Offices - Payne & Fears

1600 Who's Sicker

Becs has left a new comment on "1597 Storm Helps Travelers":

Another recent headline:

Ike Turner Beats Tina to Death.

Creepy yet funny too.

................And those folks thought I was sick, for Billy's Balloon? Love it! Love it, love it, love it!!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

1599 So Snow

Monday, December 17, 2007

The local TV news just did a piece on ER visits due to snow, from auto accidents to heart attacks, to slip 'n' fall. The doctor interviewed?

Dr. Sosnow.

They pronounced it "sauce now", but it was written across the bottom of the screen, and I read it more appropriately. With an exclamation point.

Incidentally, I read today that the Lear guy of Lear jets named his daughter "Crystal Shanda". Is this true? When I was teaching in high school I had students, twins, named Candy and Clark. Children of a Dr. Barr. Really.

1598 Bah, Humbug!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Load of bad stuff the past two days. Bad news from one friend, and the final load of crap from another. I sympathized with the first, and will worry until things get better, and I told the second to go to Hell. I've had it with her tearing into me every time something doesn't go her way. She screws up and then blames it on me. Things I had nothing to do with. I'm just available and (until now) didn't fight back. Her meds are messed up, and her getting high all the time doesn't help, and I've tried to be patient and understanding, but I've had it.

Yesterday's storm was snow and sleet alternating, so what's out there in the driveway is crusty, strong enough that I don't break through walking on it. I started to clear it with the snowthrower, which was difficult because it wanted to ride on top of the crust instead of breaking through. The wind was blowing the thrown snow back into my face. At one point my face was covered with snow, and I was having trouble seeing, and when I took my glasses off I found that the snow had built up between the lens and my eye, was actually touching my eye, which I hadn't noticed because my eyeball had frozen solid (well, almost), and it was no flipping wonder I couldn't see.

I was making headway, three passes up and down, when the tire lost pressure again, almost came off the rim, and this time the compressor had no effect. Luckily, the Aerio was parked at the bottom of the drive, and was the first thing I cleared on the first pass down. So at least I can get out.

Ok, gonna have to get plowed. There's more snow coming Wednesday. The Hairless Hunk has plowed for me in the past, but his truck is out of commission, and he has passed all his plowing business to others. His wife said she'd ask him when he got home if he could recommend someone else.

I took the wheel off the snowthrower (luckily, it was held on with a cotter pin and was easy to get off), propped the axle on a flower pot, and took the wheel to the John Deere dealers in the village. They promise it will be fixed tomorrow. I told them if there is such a thing as a SOLID tire to fit my machine, I'll take two.

Snarl. Oh, well. Pretty good coping for a 4' 10" 63-year-old widow lady. I'll try to be satisfied with the fact that I CAN cope.

1597 Storm Helps Travelers

Monday, December 17, 2007

News blurb my e-mail server's home page: "Motorists slid off roads Sunday across the Great Lakes states and into New England as a storm ... iced over highways with a wind-blown brew of snow, sleet and freezing rain."

That's a long slide, across several states and into New England, I mean. Saves gas, I guess, if you were heading into New England anyway.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

1596 Overheard ...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

... at the recycle center this morning, "... and she was wearing a scrunchie!" Other woman, "A scrunchie? Eeeuuuuw!"

Um, scrunchies are the most gentle thing for your hair. They're inexpensive, easy to put on, hold tight, and don't get snaggled in your hair when you take them out. French barrettes break my hair, they slide down and need constant adjusting, and the catch often snares hair. So what's wrong with scrunchies? I think they're the best thing since sliced bread. Now, if she'd said "an orange and purple scrunchie with her red sweater", I could understand.

Values, I guess.


... passing the TV, frustrated male voice, "... I said kitchen uphill, latrines down!"

Got a chuckle out of that.

1595 Reaction

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I had posted the "Billy's Balloon" clip from entry #1591 on a Mensa humor site. This is the response from another member:

I fail to see the humor of children being beaten up and tortured. I found this video appalling and nothing to laugh about. It's quite sad, actually.


Am I wrong, or is she whacked? The funny isn't the kids getting beat up, it's the IDEA of vicious balloons!

Well, if she hated that one, this one might send her over the edge:

Update: I've got reactions to "Billy's Balloon" from six more people (people who don't know me personally), all of whom quite seriously think there's something very wrong with me.

Friday, December 14, 2007

1594 Tired

Friday, December 14, 2007

It usually takes me an hour and a half to clear my entire driveway, including the large area at the top. It took four hours today, and there's still 1/3 of the top uncleared, but I just can't wrestle with the snowthrower any more today. That's bad, because trucks (like my fuel oil delivery) need that room to turn around. I am so sore and tired I can barely move, but I'm going out tonight, so I'm hoping a hot shower will renew me.

That 11 1/2 inches of fluff I had last night had by this afternoon turned into 7 inches of solid igloo block material. It was lumpy and sticky, and kept coating the auger, turning it into a rotating solid drum, turning the machine into a plow instead of a thrower. I had to stop every 50 feet and poke and pry with a piece of tree branch to clear the auger.

Things I learned today:
. Don't take off snowmobile gloves if your hands sweated in them. The lining will come out with your hands, and you won't get them back on.
. If last winter was so mild you used the snowthrower only once or twice and therefore skipped the servicing this year, you still better check the tire pressure! A low tire makes it very hard to steer the 6-ton (I swear!) beast, forget steer, it makes it hard to keep it going straight!, and if the tire comes off the rim (thank all the fates it didn't) you'll be in big trouble, because the freakin' thing is too heavy to move except under its own power.

We're getting more snow tomorrow night and into Sunday.

To do tomorrow - put air in the tire. Spray the auger with Pam.

1593 A Weighty Disadvantage

I've discovered a disadvantage to having lost weight (in addition to having to get all my rings resized). My boots are no longer so tight around the calves, and SNOW GETS IN!


1592 Paranoia

Friday, December 14, 2007

Paranoia #1: I have two friends who have advised me to delete the links to mid-eastern blogs in my sidebar, on the grounds that they might attract unwanted (as in government) attention. To which I respond, ""Snork!" I like to hear opinions other than those I'm spoon-fed.

Paranoia #2: I have other friends who refuse to believe that some of the bloggers I read are really in the mid-east, let alone the teen and her mother I follow in Iraq. They believe they are made up stories. I figure "Who cares? They're interesting." (And I do believe the mother and daughter.)

Something else interesting is that I have a regular reader (never commenter) at Andrews AFB in Maryland. Andrews is one of those very secret places, sorta like Area 51, but real. Back when I moved this blog and went into hiding, I removed all ability to locate the blog through searches. The only way you could find me was to leave a comment at the old location, and I'd send the new URL. For several months, my only readers were people I'd invited. Andrews didn't visit during that time. A few weeks ago, I opened to searches again, and --- ta rah! Andrews is back. They visit after every post. Now how did they find me again, if not by searches for keywords? Paranoia #1 justified?

Now, take a look at the comment on entry 1590. The commenter's profile says he's in Palestine, and his blog (which is humorous, and unintentionally cute in its naivety) claims that he's a freedom fighter living in caves (note that the underground sermon is in a room with windows). But my tracker says his ISP is in Brooklyn, 70.23.202, Verizon Internet Services, Windows XP, Internet Explorer 6.0, 1024 x 768 resolution, and his local time is the same as mine. Paranoia #2 justified.


Come on, Andrews - leave a comment! Or at least get together with that guy in Brooklyn who dreams of bombs. You folks might have something to talk about.

(Oops. Now I'm paranoid. I may have just pissed off some guy who likes bombs.)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

1591 Some Sick Fun

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Billy's Balloon


1590 It's snowing

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Snow. We've got three inches in the past two hours, and we've got eight more hours predicted. Weatherman says up to seven inches, but lately I've been getting more inches than expected in everything else, so why not here, too....

Naturally, "get gas for the snowthrower" has been on the to-do list for two weeks, but I kept forgetting to take the container when I left the house, so, no gas. I moved the car to the bottom of the driveway so I can get out.

Hibernation day.

Update: 5 pm. 8 inches. More coming.

Update: 8 pm. 11 inches. Looks like it's stopping. More expected Saturday. No thaw between now and then.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

1589 Forgotten Versed

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Lunch today with a friend, at the fancy-schmanciest local inn. He jokingly referred to it as "the office Christmas party". It was sort of sad - the waitress forgot my soup, when it finally arrived it was cold, and the meat in my entree was dry. My friend is circumstantially celibate and when he's sober he claims he's perfectly happy with the state of things, but when he's had a few drinks he confesses that he wants every woman in the village. I want to find him a lady. He deserves a lady. He'd like me to volunteer, but that just isn't going to happen. I don't care how many millions he's got tucked away. On the other hand, if I do find him a lady, I will be jealous of her. He's a good guy and will treat her well.


Another blogger had mentioned problems with Versed. It rang a tiny bell in my head, and I've spent much of the late afternoon researching Versed. It's a sedative, administered "to help you relax" during various medical procedures, either with or without general or local anesthetics.

For most people, it causes amnesia for the period from a few minutes after you get it until it wears off. However, it doesn't knock you out. You are still "conscious" and can respond to questions and commands. It also has no effect on your experience of pain. You just don't remember the pain, or, for that matter, anything else that happened.

Some people think it's wonderful. They get "something to relax" them, and then wake up in the recovery room. I doesn't bother them that they had expected to be aware during the procedure. (They probably WERE, but they just don't remember it.)

Some people have had very bad experiences with it. The amnesia lasts much longer than it should, or they get depressed or paranoid for a long time afterward.

Now, here's why my bell went off. I have been very worried about my memory lately. I was looking at a photograph in the recent issue of the local Mensa newsletter, a picture of me and another person at the gathering in Chicago six weeks ago. It is a very posed photo - not a candid shot. But I have absolutely no memory of that picture having been taken. I did her hair in the style in the photo, then I went to a talk, and she left shortly thereafter. I can't figure out when there was even opportunity for the photo.

Last month Roman gave me the coupons for the third Thursday dinner, and a week later, when it turned out I would not be able to attend the dinner, he told me to give them to John. I denied that he had given me the coupons. He insisted he had, even told me when and where. I remembered being there, but did not recall the coupons. I looked in my purse. They were there. I said to him that I was worried about my memory lately, and he said he's noticed, too, and is also worried.

Things like that keep happening.

Just today I found a note in my purse, a list of things that have no meaning to me, in someone else's handwriting. I don't know whose. I vaguely remember having given someone my notepad to write on, but I don't remember who, when, or where, let alone why, or what if anything I'm supposed to do with it. I find a lot of mysterious notes in my purse.

I keep finding "lost" objects in the house in perfectly logical places, but I have no recollection of having put them there, and I'm the only person in this house - ever.

I've been thinking about my memory lapses, an attempt to define what kinds of things I forget. One thing they all have in common is briefness. If some interaction between me and another person or an object takes less than, say, six seconds, I may not retain the memory. It just plain never happened. It's a completely blank hole in my experience.

It seems to be getting worse, or maybe I'm just noticing it more.

Now, here's today's realization: The memory problems date from the endoscopic procedure of two years ago. The one where they told me I would be conscious during the procedure, but where I remember nothing from the "here's something to relax you" to the "all done!" Whadaya wanna bet they gave me Versed.

Most of the long-term adverse reactions I've been reading about involve lost of memories from BEFORE the Versed. Chunks of their lives missing. Nobody (so far as I have read) mentions loss of the ability to form memories of events occurring afterward. Perhaps it's an aftereffect others have experienced, but no one has made the connection. Proving a connection would be very difficult.

I am annoyed that when I was told I would be given "something to relax" me, and that I would be conscious during the procedure, no one mentioned that I would not remember the procedure. That's not my definition of "conscious". I do NOT believe that I was properly informed, and do not therefore feel that I gave informed consent.

I suspect the medical community loves Versed. It makes things so easy. They can do just about anything, have your (sort of) cooperation during the procedure, but they don't have to be particularly gentle or respectful, because you won't remember anything anyway, so you're not likely to complain. Or sue. So I suspect there isn't a lot of incentive on their part to question residual effects.


What now? Will my memory lapses get better, or worse?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

1588 Warm!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I had ordered online several bottles of a special shampoo. They arrived today. The box was stuffed with newspaper, and the bottles were wrapped in newspaper - which happened to be the real estate section of a Birmingham, Alabama, paper.

I was smoothing and flattening the pages to put into the recycle bags, and of course I read them.

OMG! Beautiful houses, half again the size of mine, for half the price! I could take a huge "loss" on this house, and STILL upgrade.

And it's WARM there!

What's the deal? Does no one want to move to Birmingham? What's wrong with Birmingham?

Update: Ok. I have just been told it's the most backward, racist, place in the country. Mensa's national gathering was there this past summer, and was boycotted by many members because of that. I forgot that's where it was.

1587 Ice Hint

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Putting salt on the walks and driveway can be bad for the nearby grass and flower beds. Try using fertilizer instead. It will melt the ice almost as well without hurting the plants. An overdose of either salt or fertilizer isn't good for the groundwater or city drains, but if it's going to happen anyway, fertilizer is slightly less harmful.

Monday, December 10, 2007

1586 The Usual Monday

Monday, December 10, 2007

I managed to spend $60 in the grocery store today, and I don't know how! I bought instant coffee, vanilla creamer, a bag of salad leaves, two bottles of dressing, two week's worth of canned and dry cat food, and two pints of ice cream. I don't understand.

A portion of the afternoon/early evening was spent in the pub with Piper and "the guys". It's becoming more and more comfortable there. Fun conversations. Free drinks. Mild flirtations. I could develop a habit.

I recently reopened this journal to searches. The search args that got people here in the past few days are:
human tendency for rebellion
tooky rearrange
1566 thanksgiving
link brightcove services player bcpid1329217643
penis filled its silken confines
narrowboat adventure
house of mirth
best place to touch a woman
airwick hacking (there were several of these, from different countries!)
mertz's apothecary
silken touch
max gobrial
reporter silk madly

Gotta wonder sometimes what they're actually looking for. Whatever it is, except for the airwick thing, I ain't got it, and that should be obvious from the search hit blurb. Except the "1566 thanksgiving" one - that's the exact title of my post, but I can't imagine what would have someone searching for it by name. Very strange.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

1585 Slip-sliding Away

Sunday, December 9, 2007

I went to a meeting tonight, to work on the by-laws. We had freezing rain, but the main roads weren't too bad at all. I had no trouble coming home until I got to my driveway.

I stopped at the end of the driveway to get the newspaper out of the tube, then backed up slightly to turn into the drive. I got about a quarter of the way up when the car stopped moving altogether. The wheels were still turning, spinning on ice, but the car wasn't going anywhere.

I stopped for a moment to think about it. What I should have done was back down the street a little to get a running start. No problem. I can back down and try again. That's when I realized I was moving. Backward. With the brakes on hard.


I didn't slide over the bank and get rolled and deaded, and I did eventually make it up the hill. I hate winter. I hate my driveway. I don't know who laid it out with that curve next to a bank at the end. I'd love to redo it. There's no reason why it couldn't have gone straight down through the bank. A little dynamite and a jackhammer or two could solve so many problems....

1584 Kitty Update

Sunday, December 9, 2007

I mentioned a few posts back that Jasper likes to empty grocery bags, and had progressed to emptying kitchen cabinets.

His water dish is one of those water-cooler-like units, with the inverted jug that keeps a bowl filled. Two days ago he emptied the entire jug onto the laundry room floor, one paw-splash at a time. (Splash splash splash glurk glurk glurk splash splash glurk glurk ....)

Today I walked into a bathroom and discovered him tail-up in the toilet, splashing away, attempting to empty it onto the floor I suppose.

The kid needs more toys.


I didn't get much sleep last night. Somewhere in the house, something beeped every few minutes.

It wasn't loud enough to be a smoke or CO detector, but it was loud enough, and worrisome enough, to keep me awake. My right ear is dulled by old rifle range stupidities, so it's difficult for me to locate small sounds when they're intermittent. It sounded at first like it was in my bedroom.

I tried to sleep through it, but it worried and frustrated me too much.

I finally pinned the sound to the new cell phone, which was in my purse, at the other end of the house. I had left it on, and one of the new functions is that in the wee hours of the morning, it attempts to back up the directory. It was having some kind of difficulty, and was attempting to draw my attention to an error message.

Thanks, Verizon. If you're going to do something that might result in beeping complaints, maybe you should do it at a more reasonable hour? (Yeah, I checked. I don't think I can change the back up time.)


For anyone with SiteMeter, I'm coming to you from Phoenix, Arizona, today.

1583 TooRealEstate

Sunday, December 9, 2007

There's a real estate program on Sunday mornings, right after one of the news interview shows, where they take you on tours of some of the houses for sale in the Albany/Schnectady area. I am shocked by the difference in prices between here and there. I could sell my house here and buy two larger nicer houses there!

Anyway, between the house tours, they show pictures of the fronts of other more ordinary houses, with the address, realtor, and price.

One of those houses today was a standard two-story over-under duplex, the kind you see in all eastern cities. It had a large glass panel next to the front door. And standing inside that glass panel was a very large completely naked woman.

She was quite clear. I'm surprised no one else noticed before they put the photo up. Even if it's an optical illusion, you'd think someone would have said whoa.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

1582 Burn

Saturday, December 8, 2007

I planned to clean up the driveway today, in preparation for clearing snow when it happens. Yesterday we got about a half inch, which reminded me that ignoring the possibility of snow is not helpful.

Today it's 43 degrees, not too cold, sunny. There are several heaps of brush on the broad area at the top of the drive, left from when I cut out the blackberries and weeded the "flower bed" (snork), and they'll have to be moved so I can run the snowthrower. Moved to where? I don't know. That's why they're still there. I guess I'm going to have to delegate another burn pile area.

Well, that was the plan.

I was cooking grits in the microwave this morning. The combination microwave and convection oven is installed in a cubby that hangs under the upper kitchen cabinets. Jay and his ex-wife were both tall, and it worked for them, but it's too high for me. I have to stand on a stool to look in.

I didn't stand on the stool this morning to take the bowl of grits out.

It was a shallow bowl, and while it was still above eye level, I guess I tipped it a bit. I spilled boiling water and sticky grits all over my whole left hand. I stared dumbly at it for a moment, then jumped to the sink and ran cold water over it.

It hurt so bad for so long I was afraid I'd really messed myself up, but now it has settled down to just the ends of the first three fingers. The pointer, in fact, is almost normal. Just a little numb. The last joint of the ring finger is still red and alternates between burning and numbness. The last joint and a half of the middle finger is bright red, really nasty looking and it hurts a lot, but with any luck there won't be a blister.

This is an odd thing about my body - it doesn't overreact to burns. I've had things happen that should have resulted in swelling and blistering and weeping, but the worst that ever happens is that the burned area hardens, sometimes pretty deeply, and eventually flakes off, leaving a whiter patch of skin.

Anyway, that's my excuse for not getting the driveway cleared, and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, December 07, 2007

1581 Accent?

Friday, December 7, 2007

One of the things I played with on the new phone last night was "acclimating" it to my voice, so I can do hands-free dialing in the car. The phone would give me a series of letters or numbers that I had to repeat, and then it would repeat them back to me, and ask if it got them right.

ONE of us has a slight ("slat") southern accent! I think it's me. I pronounce "five" as "fav", and "I" as "Ah". And there's a slight tendency toward "Wa" on "Y". I never noticed that before.

1580 Jasper, CASA, Phone

Friday, December 7, 2007

I may have to put childproof latches on all the cabinet doors. Jasper is the first kitty I've ever had who gets into cabinets. He's also the most active, most curious kitty I've ever had, and I've had cats all my life.

Well, there was Smokey - 1958 to 1975. She used to open the back door to let the dog in and out, and if she got hungry, she'd open the refrigerator and sit on a shelf. You'd open the door and find her in there sampling leftovers. But she never got into cabinets.


I'm still getting all kinds of information from CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). Back when I went to the volunteer fair at the mall, and signed up for the stuff I'm involved in now, CASA was one of the things that most interested me. Volunteers are trained, and then assigned by a family court judge to advocate for a child (or siblings) in a bad home situation.

I know a lot of the local judges and lawyers, from having done court mediation, and from having worked (as a volunteer) in a family law office. And I like kids and get along well with them, perhaps because of my size (they trust me) and because I don't preach to them. They tell me I'm "real".

(By the way, I don't agree with the statement on their site, that CASA is "the only volunteer organization that empowers everyday citizens as appointed members of the court." We volunteer mediators were also officers of the court, with all the reporting responsibilities attendant on that office.)

I had discussed it with several of my friends, and they all strongly advised me not to do it. Unfortunately, if a child is in no imminent physical danger, they often have to go back to their parents, even if they are in emotional or psychological danger, because of the rights of the parents, and this can be very difficult to accept. My friends all advised me that I'd get too emotionally involved.

My friends explained that I know I couldn't possibly work at an animal shelter, I'd end up taking home every animal no one else wanted, and CASA could be worse. I'd end up in jail for kidnapping children and hiding them from the court. A basement full of kids.

I think my friends are right. If not actual kidnapping, there might be a lot of stress and sleepness nights.

So when CASA kept trying to schedule me for the training, I wrote them a letter explaining that I had decided it was not a good match for me, and why, and "please take me off the list".

They're still sending me information, and I can't open the envelopes, because every time I do, I want to sign up again.


I went to bed early last night, about midnight, and spent the next two and a half hours propped on my elbows reading the new cell phone's instruction book and trying out all the phone's functions. I can read my email on my cell phone! But I don't know if that costs extra. The next bill will be interesting.

1579 The Best Free Porn Site!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

1578 Traffic

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I haven't the faintest idea what has happened to today. It's 8:15 pm, I'm already tired, and I have done NOTHING all day. I think maybe it has something to do with the weather. It's almost 10 degrees below freezing outside, and although my house is reasonably tight, I feel cold. The thermostat says it's 74 in here. How can I be cold? I don't understand.

Speaking of not understanding, something is going on with other drivers lately that I don't understand.

I mentioned to a friend a few days ago that I've noticed lately that if I am on a multi-lane highway, and decide to change lanes, and there's a decent space in the lane I want to move into, and traffic in both lanes seems to be maintaining position (ideal for changing lanes), the very instant that I put my signal on to indicate the lane change, the car behind me in the target lane speeds up!, closing up the space.

Why? We could go on in the same positions for miles, but the minute I want to move into that lane, the other person speeds up. Is it a game? Is it "Oh no you don't - you can't get in front of me!" Or maybe they speed up when they see the signal because they hope I'll turn into them and buy them a new car? I don't understand.

So anyway, after I had mentioned it, my friend started noticing it too. So it's not just my perception, and not just people reacting to my little car. It really is happening a lot more.

Driving to dinner last night (1.5 hour drive), I noticed other strangenesses. I was heading down route 9w, during rush hour. People weren't paying attention to the speed limit, but not in the way one would expect. There's a section north of Highland with two south-bound lanes. The speed limit is 55, but there were two people, one in each lane, about two car-lengths apart, who were doing 45. Everyone behind them who wanted to do 55 had to pass one on the right, then squeeze back to the left to get past the second. And the guy potting along in the left lane never seemed to notice.

So when we finally got past them, and the long line of cars was doing 55, we came to a car on the right that had been pulled over by the police, nothing interesting, just an ordinary stop with plenty of room, and amazingly, everyone slowed down to 45, and then stayed at 45! Wha...? I don't understand. I didn't understand slowing down, and I don't understand staying slow.

From Highland south, the speed limit is mostly 55, with a few 40 or 45 patches through hamlets, and one 30 mph section where the village cop's radar gun is on hair-trigger. We stayed at 45 the entire way to Newburgh, even through the 30 mph section. I don't understand.

(Yeah, I did 45 through the 30, too, but it was because there was a long line of cars ahead of and behind me, and if I'd slowed down, twenty cars would have climbed into my trunk.)

Another thing I noticed was that when we stopped at a traffic light, and the line of stopped cars extended to cross another intersection, people blithely blocked the intersection, so that oncoming cars could not make a left turn into the side road. That stopped traffic on the other side, too. How stupid is that? Do they really not notice? Is everyone completely self-absorbed?

What's going on? Do we have a new generation of drivers who've never taken driver ed? My friend, back in the first example, has noticed the speed-up-at-lane-change problem in several states, so it's not a local thing.

Well, I made it to the dinner later than I meant, but still in time. I had to stop in Newburgh to pick up a friend, and I called her as I entered Newburgh and told her to go to the end of her driveway, "and hold your purse strap out so my side mirror can hook it as I pass, and then hang on tight!"

There were 12 of us at dinner, and I did manage to sit in the middle of the table, as I wanted. It was a pretty good group. Roman gave me a birthday gift of Israeli body lotion after dinner, and a CD of photos from his trip. I hadn't realized that although we'd talked on the phone several times since late October and his trip, I hadn't seen him since mid-October. How odd.

Now we have to get together sometime so he can narrate the photos.

1577 Heartstrings

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

(Photo used with permission.)

This is Eli, the tomcat, and Charlie, the coyote pup that Eli and his human are raising. You will find some beautiful photos and the story at Go. Look. Read. Share.

[Later edit - I should say - start at the bottom of Daily Coyote and work UP, so you can see him grow up.]

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

1576 Stuff

Tuesday, December (Ack! Already?) 4, 2007

From Scott Adams, at
"One of the most useless party customs is giving attendees gifts as they leave. These guests already gave you a hostess gift when they arrived. The obvious solution would be to tell guests to throw their incoming gifts in a pile by the entrance, next to the shoes. When people leave, they can rummage through the pile and pick something they didn’t bring. Pardon my French, but I think a “voila” is called for."

Amen. I think Christmas presents should work that way, too.


If you stay in hotels a lot, watch this. I believe it. When you see those housekeeping carts in the hall, ever notice that they aren't loaded with glasses?



I have just returned from a very enjoyable four-day weekend visiting with a friend in Virginia, where I attended (as a spectator) my first official bowling tournament. (Which is a little odd, because back when I was still speaking to my brother, he was very "into" bowling, participating in tournaments all over the country and actually making money at it. He was in televised nationals. And yet, I've never seen him bowl.) Anyway, it's like any other sport - it's a lot more interesting when you know one of the players. It was a good weekend.


My cellphone is seven years old this month. In Phoneworld, it's an antique, but I've kept it because I'd never had any trouble with it and saw no reason to upgrade. It has few functions beyond making and receiving calls, but who really needs anything else? It's so large that when young people see it, they remark "Wow! That phone must do everything!"

I went to my service provider's store yesterday to have a small problem addressed, and discovered that my phone will no longer work (!!!) as of February because it's not 911-enabled, and it's analog, not digital, and analog service will end in February.

So they gave me a new phone. They figured they owed me three or four by now anyway. The new one isn't fancy, because I opted for durability instead.

I have about 57 numbers in the directory on the old phone. They said no problem, they just hook up both phones to some machine and it transfers the contents of the directory from the old to the new. Unfortunately, my old phone is SO old, there's no plug to hook it up to. So the clerk sat there and hand-transferred all my old directory to the new phone. Took an hour. So far the only typo I found is that in several places, "Eve" has become "Eye". I'll have to sit down sometime soon and check all the numbers.


Mensa dinner tonight. So far 10 people have said they'll be there. That's too many. An ideal restaurant dinner is about six. Beyond that, it tends to break up into two separate conversation groups, and no matter which group you end up in, the bits you hear from the other end of the table sound so much more interesting. I want to make sure I sit in the middle of the table, so I can swing-converse.

1575 Big Brother, Thy Name Is Facebook

Facebook Admits Ad Service Tracks Logged-Off Users

FROM YAHOO NEWS ...Juan Carlos Perez Mon Dec 3, 12:00 PM ET

Facebook has confirmed findings of a CA security researcher that the social-networking site's Beacon ad service is more intrusive and stealthy than previously acknowledged, an admission that contradicts statements made previously by Facebook executives and representatives.

Facebook's controversial Beacon ad system tracks users' off-Facebook activities even if those users are logged off from the social-networking site and have previously declined having their activities on specific external sites broadcast to their Facebook friends, a company spokesman said via e-mail over the weekend.

Although according to the spokesman Facebook does nothing with the data transmitted back to its servers in these cases and deletes it, the admission will probably fan the flames of the controversy engulfing Beacon, which has been criticized by privacy advocates. The Facebook spokesman did not initially reply to a request for further explanation on how the Beacon action gets triggered if a user is logged off from Facebook, when the social-networking site's ability to track its users'activities should be inactive. It's also unclear whether Facebook plans to modify Beacon so it doesn't track and report on the off-Facebook activities of logged-off users.

Beacon is a major part of the Facebook Ads platform that Facebook introduced with much fanfare several weeks ago. Beacon tracks certain activities of Facebook users on more than 40 participating Web sites, including those of Blockbuster and Fandango, and reports those activities to the users' set of Facebook friends, unless told not to do so. Off-Facebook activities that can be broadcast to one's Facebook friends include purchasing a product, signing up for a service and including an item on a wishlist.

The program has been blasted by groups such as and by individual users who have unwittingly broadcast information about recent purchases and other Web activities to their Facebook friends. This has led to some embarrassing situations, such as blowing the surprise of holiday presents.

On Thursday night, Facebook tweaked Beacon to make its workings more explicit toFacebook users and to make it easier to nix broadcast messages and opt out of having activities tracked on specific Web sites. Facebook didn't go all the wayto providing a general opt-out option for the entire Beacon program, as some had hoped.

Then on Friday, just hours after Facebook had scored some points with its modifications to Beacon, Stefan Berteau, senior research engineer at CA's Threat Research Group, wrote in a note about Beacon's until-then unknown ability to monitor logged-off users' activities and send the data back to Facebook.

Users aren't informed that data on their activities at these sites is flowing back to Facebook, nor given the option to block that information from being transmitted, according to Berteau.

If users have ever checked the option for Facebook to "remember me"-- which saves users from having to log on to the site upon every return to it-- Facebook can tie their activities on third-party Beacon sites directly to them, even if they're logged off and have opted out of the broadcast. If they have never chosen this option, the information still flows back to Facebook, although without it being tied to their Facebook ID, according to Berteau.

Facebook's admission over the weekend contradicts previous statements from the company regarding this issue. For example, in e-mail correspondence with Facebook's privacy department, Berteau was told, among other things, that "as long as you are logged out of Facebook, no actions you have taken on other websites can be sent to Facebook."

A similar statement was made by a high-ranking Facebook official in an interview with The New York Times published Thursday."If I buy tickets on Fandango, and decline to publish the purchase to my friends on Facebook, does Facebook still receive the information about my purchase?," a Times reporter asked Chamath Palihapitiya, Facebook's vice president of product marketing and operations at Facebook. "Absolutely not. One of the things we are still trying to do is dispel a lot of misinformation that is being propagated unnecessarily," Palihapitiya replied.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

1574 Bonus for Buying Cheap

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Remember that online store, the one that I had guilt feelings about because I broke up an order so I could get multiple discounts?

Since then, they have been showering me with discount coupons - in the order boxes as they arrived, in the mail "for our valued customer", and stuck to the front of "special offer" catalogs. In the past 12 days, I have accumulated:
A card for $30 off a $100 order.
Two cards for 40% off my next order of any amount.
Six coupons for $10 off any order.

The big cards cannot be combined with each other, but the $10 coupons can be used in any combination with anything, including each other. And all that will be on top of any sales they're running.

Wow! When I have some time next week, I'm gonna sit down and figure out what I can get for free!

You know what's really weird? I have never, ever, not once, paid more than half the retail price for their stuff. I always hit their clearance sales, and accumulate and use the "thank you" coupons.

I guess this is proof that their things are overpriced. I can't be the only person doing this, but they somehow stay in business, and they think I'm wonderful.

1573 Interruptions

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I have so much to do today. Laundry, clean out the car, clean litter boxes, pay bills, go to the bank, get gas, select clothes for the weekend, hem anything I select that needs hemming, etc. Instead I've been answering the phone and doing other things that pop up out of nowhere. Like my gutter man called this morning, and said that even though the apple tree and the oak that overhang the garage still have leaves, we MUST clean the gutters today, while he has time and before the gutters freeze and we can't get the gutter clutter out at all. Joy.

At least I played it smart - it's now 3:18, it'll be getting dark soon, and the things I HAVE managed to cross off the list are those that require daylight.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

1572 House of Mirth

I just finished The House of Mirth. I'd wanted to read it for a year or so, I had bought a paperback copy. It sat in the "to read" pile, with all the others.

Then I discovered it online. I've read it over the past week. It's easier when I'm mostly just sitting here anyway. After I finished it, I read the forum comments. No one had the question I have.

What is the one word Seldon was bringing to Lily? One word. One.

Monday, November 26, 2007

1571 The Tree

I just saw on the news the state Christmas tree arriving in Albany, recumbent on a flatbed truck, cruelly cut trunk exposed. That always annoys me. "Oh, look, what a beautiful perfectly-shaped tree! It must have taken a hundred years to grow so large! Let's kill it!"

1570 I Got Nothin'

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hey. I got nothin' to say. Talk about the weather, I guess.

Sleet last night. Drizzly rain today. Um, nothin' else to say about that.


Oh, ok, kitty update. Jasper seems to need a lot of human interaction. He's never far away from me. I have to be careful when I'm holding something in my hand (pens, scissors, spoons, panties, toothbrush, Kleenex, socks, whatever) and set it down, because he'll steal it and play with it, and then it disappears. Or I guess from Jasper's viewpoint, it escapes. He dearly loves tearing paper, so I can't even leave unpaid bills on the desk.

All of the other cats in my life have loved grocery bags. After I'd empty them, the cats loved to hide in them. Jasper isn't interested in empty bags or boxes (maybe because he was feral, he's leary of being trapped). He likes the bags full. When I bring groceries in and put the bags on the kitchen floor, he loves to empty the bags for me, all over the floor. Cinnamon seems to fascinate him.

Ok, now I got nothin' else.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

1569 New Jersey Live

Sunday, November 25, 2007

So, Thanksgiving dinner was Friday, at the home of Daughter and Hercules, attended by the co-Mother-in-Laws. Daughter did a terrific job on the dinner. Frankly, I've never had better stuffing or candied yams.

Saturday another NJ blogger and I browsed sari stores, and sampled yummies.

Jasper was happy to see me when I got home late Saturday evening. Since he'd been baiting Miss Thunderfoot before I left, he'd spent my time away shut up in the laundry room. I'm a little worried because while I was gone he'd eaten the two days worth of food I'd left for him, and today he looks like he'd swallowed a football, but there's no poopy in his litter pan. Now that he's no longer confined and has access to Miss Thunderfoot's litter box, I won't be able to tell if he goes or not.

Phooey. If guess I'll know if he explodes....

Saturday, November 24, 2007

1568 The only kind of tags I like are on new clothes.

Saturday, November 25, 2007

The ever popular "Seven Random and or Weird Things About Me" meme. I was tagged by The Queen.

The Rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Share seven random things about yourself
3. Tag seven random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs
4. Let each person know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs

Ok, Rule #1 - done.
Rule #2 - really difficult. I get the impression it's supposed to be stuff that's not already somewhere in the blog, and, uh, I can't think of much of anything I haven't already said. I even did that "Gazillion Things You don't Know About Me " a while ago (and which I can't find now - Blogger search doesn't seem to go back past the first of this year). Also, what does "random" mean in this context? I'm a mathematician and computer programmer, so I figure if it comes out of my head, it isn't random.

Enough complaining. Try, at least.

Seven Random Things About Me (that I don't think I've said yet):

1. I never shave anywhere unless I think it's gonna be seen or touched, and even then there's limits (I've been known to strike deals with doctors on delivery tables). Ain't no way anybody is going to get anywhere near me with hot wax!

2. Daughter says I always embarrass her somehow when we go shopping together. (One time she tried to embarrass me by picking up a thong, in front of two clerks and several other shoppers, and saying "Here, Mom, you should try these." I got her back. "Nope. Won't work. There's no place to stick the Poise pad." All the other women cracked up. Daughter crawled under the counter.)

3. I don't have a favorite color. If you ask me what my favorite color is, I'll tell you what I like today, but tomorrow will be different. That makes home decorating difficult.

4. I have an extremely high libido, which doesn't get nearly enough exercise, because I also have high standards. And morals. Or something. At least I hope that's why not.... Hmmm. Maybe it has something to do with #1.

5. I find it very difficult to throw anything out. Might need it sometime, you know?

6. I like messy food. I much prefer eating with my hands to using utensils. When I cook a steak for myself at home, alone, I pick it up in my hands, whole, and tear off chunks with my teeth. I might even growl a little. Sometimes in restaurants I forget, and growl a little at my dinner companion.

7. I've had my hair professionally cut exactly three times in my adult life (last time was in 1975), and each time I swore "Never again!"

Well, I did it. Seven random "so what"s.

Hey! I've got another one! I've never played "Truth or Dare"!

Rule #3 and 4 are about tagging others. I don't want to, so I won't. If you want to volunteer, have at it. I dare you.

1567 Are You Offering?

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

1566 Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Daughter and SIL are hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, first one in their new home, but for a variety of reasons they're doing it tomorrow, not today. So today, it's me, Jasper, and Miss Thunderfoot. Tomorrow morning I head to central NJ.

When I got up this morning, I opened the refrigerator for my usual yogurt breakfast, and discovered I'm out of yogurt. Hmmmm. What to eat? I've got all kinds of cold cereals, eggs, grits, several types of oatmeal, bread and jelly, scones, hash browns, and even some frozen breakfast "dinners". But I still felt deprived because I didn't have my yogurt. Pout pout.

Then I realized how spoiled I am.

Today, people all over this overfed, over-commercialized, self-satisfied country will be consuming individually enough food to feed an entire family throughout most of the rest of the world, and giving thanks for the ability to do so. Even in this country, there will be people who will go hungry today.

I was in my twenties through the hippie era, Woodstock, Viet Nam anti-war marches, sit-ins, all the turmoil, and I was not a part of any of it. I was busy learning how to be a corporate clone. Now, as I get older, I'm getting more stubborn and rebellious. (Little symbolic rebellions - don't want to draw attention....) I decided that in solidarity with those less fortunate, I'll fast today.

Big deal. I often don't eat for a day or so, but I do it by choice (well, not actually choice - I forget to eat, but the fact that I don't feel hungry says something). Others feel hunger but have no choice.

So, I'm thankful that it is a choice. I'm thankful for my friends, for the fact that my Daughter counts me among her friends, for my long-distance lover, for having two guys on the back burner who would like to be lovers (pretty damn good for a little old lady!), for an economy that allows me a life of leisure, and a slew of other harder-to-pin-down advantages.

But at the moment, I'm thankful that the grocery store will be open tomorrow, and I can buy yogurt.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

1565 The Ghost

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

In the previous post I mentioned seeing a ghost at that fantasy B&B.

The driveway leading to the hotel wound through bits of woods and stone-walled fields. The second day of our stay, Daughter and I had gone to visit a nearby ancient burial chamber (I think it was this one -

On the way back to the B&B, while coming up the drive, I saw a woman ahead, in a field to our right. As we got closer, I saw her crossing a stile in the rock wall. I slowed the car, and she crossed the road in front of us, and went into the field on the left, through another stile.

She was an older woman, very small and slight in build, wearing a gray-brown tweed walking suit consisting of a jacket and long A-line skirt, a brown knit tam-shaped hat, and boots. White hair, and the lightest fairest skin I have ever seen. As she passed in front of the car, she turned and looked straight at me and smiled. Her eyes were the most beautiful I've ever seen. After 20 years I still remember them. They were blue, light blue, mesmerizing blue, the blue of flowers and skies, and I couldn't look away from them until she turned away.

Her beauty fascinated me, so when we got to the hotel, I asked the locals at the desk who she could be. It was a small village. People tend to know everyone, but no one had any idea who she might be. I mentioned that she had come through a stile, and that got a frown - "there are no stiles in those walls. Not any more, anyway."

Later, Daughter and I went into town for dinner, and on the way down the drive, I looked for the stile. There was none. I turned around and went back to look again. No stiles. Daughter asked why I was retracing the drive, and I said I was looking for the stile.
"What stile?"
"The stile that woman came through when we came back from the chamber."
"What woman?"
Daughter had seen no woman.
There was no stile.

Either I'd seen a ghost, or I'd experienced a fold in time.

I still remember the eyes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

1564 Trip Photos 4 (of 4)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

And now, the pièce de résistance, our B&B on the Isle of Anglesey, Wales.

All together now -


That was certainly my reaction when we came around the bend in the long tree-lined drive and saw it.

It looked inside exactly as one would expect from the exterior. Huge curved staircases, carved dark paneling, fireplaces, crystal chandeliers, palms in Chinese pots. Our room had a high four-poster bed with canopy and velvet and lace drapery all around for me, and they had set up a smaller bed for Daughter, WITH a "princess" half-canopy. In the mornings, there was a discreet knock on the door, and a maid came in with a huge English breakfast, which was served in bed. That was the "wakeup call".

Our hotel in Kensington had been nice but tiny - five rooms total in a converted white marble townhouse. Then there was the boat, and then on our wanders from Hadrian's Wall to Roman ruins to castles in Wales we'd had no reservations, had simply knocked on doors of private homes with B&B signs out front. This was a reservation, made by our travel agent before we'd left the US, and it was listed as a B&B, so ... it was a shock.

This is where I saw the ghost.

That's for another post.

1563 Trip Photos 3

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

More photos from our narrowboat adventure on the Grand Union Canal, England, 1988.

Daughter operating a lock. Note the "treads" on the ground to the left of her feet. They're for traction in pushing the gates open. This particular lock had quite a drop.

Pleasant scenery along the way. If it had been getting dark, and we had tied up there, we probably would have been invited in for tea.

This was a frequent scene at the locks. It's a good thing that Daughter (in red) was not afraid of large curious beasts.

After turning the boat in, we rented a car and wandered around England, headed in the general direction of The Isle of Anglesey, in the northwestern part of Wales. My ancesters had been slate and coal miners, so we visited a slate mine. Also a wool mill, several parks, a zoo (where I overheard a child ask her mother "Is that a bald eagle?" and the mother replied, "Yes. Never understood what the Americans saw in it." "It" was a vulture!), and every dolmen and castle ruin along the way.

I fell wildly madly in love with thatched roofs. Some of them are true works of art.

Traveling through Snowdonia National Park. The sheep are everywhere, and loud. Stereophonic sheep. At one point we attempted to climb a hill to look at the heather, but although it looks like grass, it's more like a wet sponge out there.

Snowdonia. I didn't lighten the photos up because that's the way it really was. Clouds were low and constant. It felt like you could wring water out of the air. The sogginess of the turf was due to mist, fog, clouds perpetually condensing on the mountains. Some of it ran down in little streams, but mostly it was a constant seep down through the turf.

A road sign.

In one of the castle ruins.

1562 Smile

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Man always makes me laugh. I hope he doesn't mind my writing this, but I want to preserve the him-isms. I just hope I can do them justice.

We were on the phone today, and I was telling him that I had decided to no longer keep giving a certain friend second chances, that the last time she pulled this stunt I'd decided the next time was the end, and she has blown it now.

He said, "She ran into your tomato."
And he told me the tomato story.

His little brother came home from school one day and told their mother that the teacher was going to throw something at them. "What's she going to throw at you?"
"Yeah. She said that if we didn't settle down, she was going to throw an old tomato at us."
"An old tomato?"
(An ultimatum.)
The image of her running into my tomato is just too funny.

One day when he was talking about a tense situation at work, he said he had to "get his ducks in a bag." A friend of his had used the phrase once, and it amused him so much, he adopted it in lieu of "ducks in a line". The mental image of the lumpy bag is funny, but even funnier is the quacking sounds coming from the bag. Next time I have to get my ducks in a row, I'll put them in a bag.

"How's your cold?"
"Lots better. I'm just a pony."
"A pony?"
"Yeah, you know, pony. A little horse."

Friends like this are valuable.

Later: I just realized he and I are starting to speak in code. "Perhaps I was a pony, so my friend didn't hear me well, and that's why she ignored my old tomato and didn't get her ducks in the bag."

Makes sense to us....

Monday, November 19, 2007

1561 Trip Photos 2

Sunday, November 19, 2007

A narrow section of the Grand Union Canal. Under a bridge. Bridges were sneaky. We'd head for the dead center of the span, and STILL manage to hit or scrape the side.

Coming up on a town. Bigger towns excited us, because we might be able to do some laundry, buy food, and mail some postcards. But ONLY if we could cash some travelers' checks.

This was pre-ATM days. We had taken travelers' checks, and then discovered they were very inconvenient, because no one in the smaller villages would take them, because "the bank came" only one day a week, and if a shop cashed a travelers' check for us, and had to give us too much change, then there wasn't enough cash left in the village for the village to operate until the bank came again. Wow.

Over and over we kept missing the bank visits. At one point, we had a small fortune in useless travelers' checks, and we were counting coins and eating cheap, trying to stretch out what little cash we had.

Going through a lock. Daughter on the right. Locks were easy and fun. Boats tended to "pile up" at the locks, waiting to go through, and everybody helped everybody else.

One thing that bugged me - if anyone jumped line, went out of turn, it was a 100% certainty it was American tourists. For some reason, most of the people we met, local and other visitors, concluded that we were Canadian (later we were pegged as Welsh), and after exposure to other loud and rude American tourists, we let them believe it.

1560 Trip Photos

Monday, November 19, 2007

I've been putting a selection of old photos on Flickr. Last night and this morning I scanned and uploaded some pictures from a trip to England and Wales that Daughter and I took in the summer of 1988 (or 1987, I forget...). I think maybe I'll start including more photos in entries. Here's the first:
Daughter and I spent the first week in London. The above photo was taken from a Thames tour boat, as we passed under the bridge.

Our B&B was in Kensington, where there are beautiful houses, ponds, and gardens.
I'm not certain, but I think the above may have been at Kensington Palace. That's Daughter, at 11 or 12. I'm under orders not to put her face in this blog, but no one would recognize her from this shot, so I think I'm safe. Besides, hey, I'm the Mommy!

The next week, we rented a canal boat, a "narrowboat", and spent somewhere between 10 days and two weeks, I forget, on the Grand Union (no relationship to the grocery store) Canal. This was the interior of our boat, the Naiad, looking from the front toward the back:
The table dropped down to make a double bed, and to the right in the back you can see two bunks. There was a gas stove-top and oven, an electric refrigerator, electric heater, a sink, and a bathroom with shower. Except that the rear bunks were a bit damp (so we used the double bed) it was quite comfortable, but a LOT of work.

You could moor at night anywhere you wanted along the canal. Just pull over and pound in stakes. We soon learned to avoid spending the night near sheep. Man, those things are LOUD, and they keep it up all night.

We had to clean out the screws every morning. You'd open a hatch in the back deck, and reach way down in there, into cold dark muddy water, and feel around for fishing line and weeds wrapped around the axle and screws, and that was the absolute worst job, because you couldn't see what was there, the weeds were squishy and could have any kind of beasty living in it, and the fishing line could include hooks. But it had to be done.

We had to keep an eye on the fuel and water, because the places you could refill (DIY!) were few and far between. And the motor had to run for a certain amount of time to fully charge the battery, or we wouldn't have lights or heat at night, which meant that even if it was pouring rain, you had to be out there at the tiller and controls.

The stern of our boat, moored. Cows are a lot quieter than sheep. That red bar just above the first "A" in Naiad is the tiller, and those are stool seats on either side. The boat is only 7 feet wide, and very long, and learning to steer the thing is an adventure. The canals are wide in some places, and narrow in others, and turning around is a horror.

There are a lot of locks, but the locks were easy and fun. However, there are also a lot of bigger hills, and therefore tunnels. Tunnels were scary. They were perfectly round, concrete, 15 feet in diameter, and half that is water, so a taller person standing on deck had to duck to avoid bumping his head. We were extremely conscious of all that earth above us. They were coal-mine dark. If the tunnel was short and straight, so you could see the light at the end of the tunnel, and if no other narrowboats were coming from the other direction, then it wasn't so bad. But at least one tunnel we went through was over two miles, with a curve in the middle, so you couldn't see the end. AND, in that tunnel we met up with several other boats. Sound is magnified and echos, and that adds to the weirdness. The tunnels are 15 feet wide. The boats are 7 feet wide. Do the math.

That's where you learn what "light at the end of the tunnel" really means.

We cooked breakfast, but stopped for lunch and dinner at taverns on the canal (where I developed a taste for hard cider - nothing like what you get in the states!). Several times we managed to catch festivals, Morris dancers, and other friendly narrowboaters. There are people who live on the boats year-round, and still a few people who make a living transporting goods on the canals.

More canal photos later.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

1559 Weird Standing

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I'm weird. Yeah, I know that. Perhaps my biggest weirdness is that I often don't understand why people think something I do or think is weird. Everything I do or say seems perfectly reasonable to me. I think it's weird that they think it's weird.

Some people think the way I stand is weird.

If I'm going to be standing anywhere for more than a few seconds, I "assume the position". I put all my weight on one leg, with that foot turned slightly outward, weight toward the ball of the foot. The other foot is slightly to the front of the weight-bearing foot, and at a 90-degree angle to it. Knee on the free leg is bent, so there's a slight hip tilt.

Try it. It's very comfortable. I can stand like that for hours, with occasional side-to-side swaps.

I guess it does look a little weird, but if everybody stood that way, it wouldn't be weird at all.

Over the years I've had many many women, always women, never men, tell me that I shouldn't stand that way.
"Why not?"
"It looks bad."
"How does it look bad? Does it make my hip look big?"
"No. It just looks bad."
"No, just bad."
"How do you mean bad? Ugly?"
"No. I dunno. Just bad."

Well, a dating body language article I read yesterday said that if a woman stands with her ankles crossed talking to a man, she's sexually unavailable (I think she's liable to fall over), and if she stands with her legs apart, she's sexually receptive to him.

Is that what was "bad"?

I'm not sending any message. It's just the absolutely most comfortable stance. Well, second most comfortable. The first most comfy draws way too much attention, and I can't do it at all in public.

Man, those women should have seen the way I stood in high school and college, when nobody was looking, anyway, until I started wearing high heels all the time and it was no longer feasible , and eventually I fell out of the habit. If you have to stand, this is the closest thing to not standing.

Again, all weight on one leg. The flat of the free foot is pressed against the inside of the standing leg, at or above knee level. There's a kind of bulge at the top side of the knee that the sole of the foot fits over perfectly. You see those really tall skinny African guys with all the cows (Watusi?) standing that way when they're out watching the herds. Again, it's very comfortable. If you do it right, it feels like sitting. Try it at first with bare feet.

I suspect that both of those stances involve less strain on the muscles of the hips and lower back than a standard stance.

I have had since adolescence a weak lower back and some hip problems.

So it's not weird, and not sending any availability messages. It's just comfortable and easy.

So there.