Friday, January 19, 2007

1080 Bad Stuff Goin' 'Round

Friday, January 19, 2007

Third Thursday dinner was last night. There was FirstWoman, The Ditz, and me. It was very uncomfortable, because I had decided last month that if The Ditz annoyed me I wasn't going to hide it any more, and First Woman has actually gotten so upset by The Ditz in the past that she has walked out.

So FirstWoman and I tiptoed around, and were quick to stop subjects, change subjects, and generally keep it on the level of ... well, the longest lasting subject was whether the restaurant would accept an expired coupon, second longest was the series of name-changes the restaurant has endured.

That's harder work than real conversations.

Roman arrived late, after we'd finished eating. He had called me earlier in the evening to say that he'd be late, he was driving up from LI, having been there for a few days tending to his parents, so I should save his seat, and I told him that no matter how late he was, I'd wait.

I'm a bit hesitant to tell what actually happened, it's his story, not mine, but this is my diary, and there is exactly one person in the entire world who reads this and knows who he is, but she has met him only once, so for my own record, I'll continue.

His parents have been alternately in and out of the hospital a lot lately. Both have several serious problems. The past week, both have been hospitalized, both critical, in two different hospitals. Roman and his sister have been alternating visiting them, and meeting with financial planners, lawyers, insurance reps, etc, trying to get control of everything that has to be handled.

I think Roman returned last night just because of Third Thursday.

The dinner group meets at 6:30. I expected him to arrive by 7 at the latest. I'm not sure what time he arrived, but it was well after 7:30, I think. I was beginning to get really worried.

He had called me at 4:40 from the LI Expressway. (When I told the ladies that he'd be late, The Ditz brightened and asked, "Oh? Exactly where on the Expressway?" I stared at her for about three beats, and said, "I . Don't. Know. Was it important?" She actually flinched from the look on my face.) He said that his father had been very aware that afternoon, and seemed lots better. I found that ominous, given the way his father had been for so long. There is often a huge rally before a final crash. It's like they know.

When he arrived at the restaurant, he said that his sister had called him on the road, and told him that the hospital had called her, that their father had died.

Roman said he was late because he "had to make a detour" on the way. (I assume that he had stopped at "the girlfriend's" house, and then came to dinner.) He poked me and said "And you, as usual, your cell phone is off."

I felt very guilty. He knew I'd be sitting there waiting for him. If he'd been able to call, if my phone had been on, would he have skipped dinner? Would he have turned around and gone back to LI? By then I was getting worried enough to have called him, but if he had been at the girlfriend's house during that excess time, he wouldn't have answered anyway (he has me permanently on vibrate). So I feel guilty that I "dragged" him to the restaurant.

But then again, he was hungry (she didn't feed him?), and he did eat.

The Ditz left (by the way, she left her expired coupon, and only enough money to cover if the coupon was honored. I had to add a few dollars), and then after Roman finished eating, FirstWoman left. I had hoped we'd be able to talk, but he was very distracted, and we talked only a little. He'd have to tell his mother today. He doesn't expect her to live more than a few weeks, since he figures the only thing keeping her alive is the necessity of taking care of his father. She got a pacemaker last week, but her pulse is still very slow, and her kidneys are seriously failing. The doctors have recommended dialysis, but she has refused. So.

I can only hope he keeps me informed. I worry.

I talked on the phone with Piper today, first time I've heard from him since just after Christmas (well, except for a form letter from his office with "Call me" handwritten on the bottom.) He's had all kinds of family problems, and January is a very busy month. He's going to Las Vegas to speak at a convention next week, so we're going to have lunch on Monday. He told me today that he's been back and forth to Florida, his beloved mother is failing, and she's scheduled for some surgery plus a pacemaker next week. He's worried about being in Las Vegas during her surgery, but he's got several sisters in Florida who will hold down the fort.

So. Sigh.

1079 Presidential IQs Revisited

Friday, January 19, 2007

I got an interesting comment on post 1076 Presidential IQs. (Love it when a post pulls lurkers out!) I'm posting the comment here so that anyone who read the original post will be sure to get the other half of the story.

As I had said, reading the article made my nose wrinkle - it just plain smelled bad. And the obvious bias of the web site for the institute made it even more suspect. But I'm embarrassed because I'm always telling people to please check Snopes before they send me sensational stuff, and, oops, I didn't check Snopes. I was fooled by the existence of the web site.

But even if it had looked like a legitimate attempt, I didn't buy any of it, as my comment about an ivy league MBA being in the low 90s showed. The last paragraph's "world-renowned sociologist" and "world-respected psychiatrist" were the final kickers. Oh, come on!

So, here are the references, courtesy of "Anonymous". By the way, I went to the "ACTUAL study" pointed to by Anonymous, and although it seems more rigorous (and makes a lot more sense), there are still some holes, which the author of the study admits, in that they are not comparing apples with apples. And as soon as you do that, you allow conscious or unconscious bias to creep in.

Anonymous said...

/* Start of Comment */

Lovenstein is a hoax.

Claim: According to a study by the Lovenstein Institute, President Bush has the lowest IQ of all presidents of past 50 years.

Status: False.

Origins: No, this isn't a real news report, nor does it describe a real study. There isn't a "Lovenstein Institute" in Scranton, Pennsylvania (or anywhere else in the USA), nor do any of the people quoted in the story exist, because this is just another spoof that was taken too seriously.

The article quoted above began circulating on the Internet during the summer of 2001. In furtherance of the hoax, later that year pranksters thought to register and erect a web site around it in an attempt to fool people into thinking there really was such an institute.


Speaking of IQ's, an ACTUAL study shows that Bush's IQ is higher than John Kerry's:

/* End of Comment */

Thursday, January 18, 2007

1078 Scary Idols

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Almost forgot this very strange moment. American Idol was on last night while I was doing something else. I caught only two of the contestants. One was the young man with the very intense, scary, disturbing eyes, and the other was the woman on the right in the photo below. If you saw the show at all, you know exactly who I mean.

Darwin R33dy and Mom Darwin R33dy and her Mom. Photo borrowed from Jackie, at "The (TV) Show Must Go On", who gets them from network sites.

A good positive self image is an admirable thing, but it should be at least somewhat realistic. Ms. R33dy's breasts hung to her waist, and swung and flopped under her loose but clingy blouse. She believes herself to be sexy.

What really got me, though, was that in physical appearance, degree of self delusion, mannerisms, hair, facial expressions, voice, accent, and things she said, her total unawareness of the impression she gives, she struck me as practically a twin of a woman I know in the local Mensa group. The one who often drives me crazy (not The Ditz, the other one. The one who drove me crazy in New Orleans in 2005).

I was fascinated. And then they brought her mother in, and she's exactly the same, except it looked like she was wearing a bra. Does the mid-west grow these people?


1077 Disturbing News

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Iran, in April? I hope Dotsson is wrong. I may be forced to move to Canada or Mexico. Read

Let's impeach self-elected President Cheney (that isn't a typo) - he's nuts!

1076 Presidential IQs

Thursday, January 18, 2007

This was sent to me. I thought it interesting at first glance, but the more I think about it, the more my nose wrinkles. The web site for the Lovenstein Institute is They seem far from neutral, so I find their conclusions suspect.

The numbers, even if assumed to be accurate in some way, are meaningless except as compared to each other (because above about 135, the standard deviations for standard IQ tests diverge so wildly that a 145 on the California Test of Mental Maturity, for example, is actually a higher score than a 160 on the Stanford-Benet (unless they've recalibrated recently)), and they don't say what scale they're comparing to here. I've also heard that the average IQ for high school seniors is closer to 115 than to 100, so low 90s for an ivy league MBA doesn't feel right.

Of course, that's the perennial argument: how do you define higher than average intelligence? Do you look at pattern recognition and problem solving? Vocabulary and ability to communicate? Social awareness? Numerical or musical or physical talent? Scholastic drive and success? Everyone who wants to assign numbers and rankings picks their favorite characteristic and ignores the rest.

Does Jimmy Carter's high number make the conclusions in his latest book more valid?

Well, here it is. Enjoy.

The Presidential IQ Report

WASHINGTON --In a published report, the Lovenstein Institute of Scranton, Pennsylvania has detailed findings of a four month study of the intelligence quotient of President George W. Bush. Since 1973, the Lovenstein Institute has published its research to the education community on each new president, which includes the famous "IQ" report among others.

According to statements in the report, there have been twelve presidents over the past 60 years, from F. D. Roosevelt to G. W. Bush who were all rated based on scholarly achievements, writings that they alone produced without aid of staff, their ability to speak with clarity, and several other psychological factors which were then scored in the Swanson/Crain system of intelligence ranking. The study determined the following IQs of each president as accurate to within five percentage points:

147Franklin D. Roosevelt (D)
132Harry Truman (D)
122Dwight D. Eisenhower (R)
174John F. Kennedy (D)
126Lyndon B. Johnson (D)
155Richard M. Nixon (R)
121Gerald R. Ford (R)
176James E. Carter (D)
105Ronald W. Reagan (R)
98George H. W. Bush (R)
182William J. Clinton (D)
91George W. Bush (R)

The six Republican presidents of the past 60 years had an average IQ of 115.5, with President Nixon having the highest IQ, at 155. President G. W. Bush was rated the lowest of all the Republicans with an IQ of 91.

The six Democrat presidents had IQs with an average of 156, with President Clinton having the highest IQ, at 182. President Lyndon B. Johnson was rated the lowest of all the Democrats with an IQ of 126.

No president other than Carter (D) has released his actual IQ, 176. Among comments made concerning the specific testing of President GW Bush, his low ratings were due to his apparent difficulty to command the English language in public statements, his limited use of vocabulary (6,500 words for Bush versus an average of 11,000 words for other presidents), his lack of scholarly achievements other than a basic MBA, and an absence of any body of work which could be studied on an intellectual basis.

The complete report documents the methods and procedures used to arrive at these ratings, including depth of sentence structure and voice stress confidence analysis. "All the Presidents prior to George W. Bush had a least one book under their belt, and most had written several white papers during their education or early careers.

Not so with President Bush," Dr. Lovenstein said. "He has no published works or writings, so in many ways that made it more difficult to arrive at an assessment. We had to rely more heavily on transcripts of his unscripted public speaking."

The Lovenstein Institute of Scranton Pennsylvania think tank includes high caliber historians, psychiatrists, sociologists, scientists in human behavior, and psychologists. Among their ranks are Dr. Werner R. Lovenstein, world-renowned sociologist, and Professor Patricia F. Dilliams, a world-respected psychiatrist. This study was commissioned on February 13, 2001, and released on July 9, 2001, to subscribing member universities and organizations within the education community.


The Lovenstein Institute of Scranton Pennsylvania is a think tank employing high caliber historians, psychiatrists, sociologists, scientists in human behavior, and psychologists. Among their ranks are Dr. Werner R. Lovenstein, world-renowned sociologist, and Professor Patricia F. Dilliams, a world-respected psychiatrist.

Since 1973, the Lovenstein Institute has published its research to the education community on various topics including the famous Presidential IQ Report among others. Reports are distributed to subscribing member universities and organizations within the education community.

FAIR USE NOTICE: Copyrighted material used on may not have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available on a non-profit basis for educational and discussion purposes only. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 USC § 107. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

1075 Catalog

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The new Spiegel catalog has arrived, and I am pleased that they seem to have turned a corner.

Once upon a very long time ago I used to buy my office wear from Spiegel. They used to have some really nice stuff. I bought my favorite suit of all time from them, a pale turquoise linen-look, and another suit in rose and navy that for some reason got me first class treatment on business trips. The items were beautifully and carefully packed, and they even (back in those days) included a prepaid label for returns.

But somewhere between ten and fifteen years ago, they changed. Everything in the catalog looked like it was aimed toward streetwalkers and amateur sluts, or for cowgirls. (I'm not saying cowgirls are anywhere near streetwalking sluts - that just seemed to be the two separate groups they were courting, in two separate sections of the catalog.)

There was no way I was going to wear transparent tops, tight lycra dresses, belly button level plunge necklines, underwear as outerwear, broad-shouldered blouses covered with appliqued lace, or suits with peplum jackets to the office. Too much skin. Too much flash. Too much fluff. Yuck.

I don't think I've bought anything from them in a least a decade, but they have continued to send me a huge catalog several times a year anyway.

I guess they've finally fired that buyer. This issue is chock full of reasonable choices. We've got boob and belly coverage! The lycra is drapey! We've got a lot less lace and sequins. It almost looks like they've decided to go for the more mature, sophisticated, customer.

The only complaint I have is that the models are obviously out of proportion. The head length and total height should be a 1 to 7 ratio, and most of these models are 1 to 10. Their heads look tiny, and their legs look impossible. Most of the photos look like they were shot with the photographer lying on the floor, and even then the photos look like they were stretched.

I, at 4'10", can't imagine myself in those clothes. Not from those photos.

So I didn't buy anything (I don't need anything, either, but that never stopped me...), except that I had just the other day decided I need a full-length bodysuit for under a semi-sheer caftan, and some black tights for under a tunic, and lo, they had them in my size, so I ordered them.

-------------- Time has passed --------------

I got a phone call from a friend, the one with the ill parents, and we talked for over an hour. At the same time, there was a program on TV, one segment of which was going to be on hoarders. I taped it, and I just watched the beginning of that segment.

I have a lot of "stuff", which has built up into clutter. But I'm not a truehoarder, not like Jay was. The program mentioned that to a hoarder, throwing out anything is like tearing out a piece of their life. One woman mentioned that she's terrified that she might throw out something important. The program also said that hoarders tend to think of their hoards in three dimensions, that they know exactly where everything is. They don't catagorise things for sorting or storage, because to them, every item is unique.

(Heh heh. I guess that proves I'm not a hoarder. I still haven't found my winter shoes.)

Jay was like that. He knew exactly where everything was, even though there was nothing remotely resembling sorting, which blew my mind. It was true that he was terrified of throwing out something important. When I first moved in, I tried to clear out the stacks of paper in the den, and he actually got panicky, hyperventilating and all. We ended up buying a pair of 42 inch wide 2-drawer file cabinets to corral the mess.

He had subscriptions to about eight magazines, and never threw an issue out. Ever. There are still boxes of Smithsonians and Scientific Americans and others in the attic. I had attempted to clean out the basement, where there were boxes wall-to-wall and stacked to the ceiling down there, many of which had moved with him from Texas in the early 80s, and had not been opened since the move. We managed to get through one box when I realized this wasn't going to happen. The box we opened together had some badly-framed, faded and stained prints of Paris that his parents had bought on one of their trips, and had hung in his boyhood bedroom. Parents (deceased mother). Paris (dear to him). Boyhood bedroom. Hoo boy. Throwing out those prints was, to him, throwing all that out.

Every item had a memory attached, and it was as if throwing out the item was to excise, or at least devalue, the memory.

After he died, I tackled the basement. I found all his old college textbooks, all his high school and college class notes, several huge boxes full of unopened junk mail, boxes full of old ratty towels, bath mats, ugly knickknacks, all the detritus of thirty years of never throwing anything out. I filled two construction dumpsters, and that's only about half the stuff yet to go.

The TV program (pardon me if I don't look up what it was, I don't have a TV guide, and it's gone now so who cares) put some hoarders through an MRI while they showed a hoarded object and asked whether it should be kept or pitched, and they found that "a war went on" in their brains. A large number of connections involved in the decision.

I have to rewatch that first bit, and then the rest.

But right now there's a piece about the lost boys of the Sudan on Nightline, so pardon me while I go watch that. They're in my will (if Daughter predeceases me), along with several other charities. I suppose I ought to check whether it's still an operating charity. The boys have a fascinating story. Anyway, gotta watch that now.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

1074 Beasty Armor

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Samurai mouse armor:

Samurai cat armor:

The above are from Calgary artist Jeff de Boer. You can see more of his suits of armor for cats and mice at

The rod attached to the top of some of the armor is (obviously) for jousting.


Monday, January 15, 2007

1073 Ice

Monday, January 15, 2007

I didn't go to NJ this morning. Everything was covered with ice. The driveway was only wet, not icy, which would imply that the roads were ok, but the pine trees outside my kitchen window were bent double from the weight of ice, and the radio seemed to think that the greater danger was loss of power. I decided to stay home so I could throw logs in the fireplace if we lost electricity.

Talked with Daughter a few times on the phone. She had picked up some massage jobs anyway, so it wasn't a complete bust. But Hercules had made some more of his delicious peanut butter cookies for me, and I had just finished the last of the previous batch last night, so I was really looking forward to getting more cookies. I'll have to tough it out 'til next weekend.

Roman called in the morning from LI, his father is in the hospital again, said he'd call in the evening. He called from the road on his drive home (which is always awkward, because the signal drops several times - he usually doesn't call back after the third drop, and it leaves the conversation unfinished), and he said the roads were slippery, he saw (a) car(s) that had spun out, so it's just as well I didn't go anywhere.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

1072 Superman

Sunday, January 14, 2007

It's my understanding that it's our yellow sun that causes Superman to have super strength and super powers.

It's my understanding that you build muscles by working them hard.

Now, if Superman has super strength, to him nothing is heavy, how did he manage to build big muscles?

Just something else I don't understand.

1071 Chi1dren's Fund

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I was about to go to bed, and glanced up at the TV, and there was a commercial on for Chris1ian Chi1drens' Fund, and I had to, again, fight down the urge. They have a very good reputation. They have one of the smallest overheads. And come on, it's children!

But I had a very bad experience with them way back when.

When Daughter was small, we decided to "join up". We requested a girl, in Africa if possible, about Daughter's age if possible. They said that could be arranged, and they hooked us up with a girl of about the right age, in ... Baton Rouge, La. She was African only by heritage. Oh, well.

So we sent our set amount every month for about three years, and everything was fine.

Then we left Ex#2 and moved from Maryland to New York State, in the middle of the summer (early '80s). I had just enough money for a down payment on a small house, but no extra cash. The well pump died within a month of our moving in. The furnace went shortly after. I was starting over, way down on the pay scale. I had to pay for child care. I was really worried about money. It was paycheck to paycheck, and we were scrimping. But we still sent the same amount to C-C-F every month.

Daughter was starting second grade in a new school, and was dismayed that she didn't have the cool fad stuff the other kids had, to fit in, establish her bona fides, but there was no way I could afford stuff like those $150 XXX shoes she "needed", especially not when she'd outgrow them in six months.

Then came Christmas. Daughter got what few gifts I could afford.

And then the Christmas photos arrived from the child in Baton Rouge. The kid was sitting in the middle of a huge pile of toys, including the very doll Daughter wanted, but I couldn't afford, and wearing those exact same $150 XXX shoes that my daughter craved. The furniture in her home was better than ours.

I continued to send the check for the next few months, but it was bugging me. This kid was doing better than my own daughter. She had a stay-at-home mother, while my daughter was spending her time in daycare and I was racking up bills. She was taking all kinds of music and dance lessons. She went to summer camp. She and Daughter corresponded, and Daughter couldn't help but be jealous of all the "stuff" this kid had, the designer name dropping. Photos confirmed that it wasn't mere name dropping.

Then my washing machine died, and I decided that maybe I should back up and take care of my own home and my own child first.

I wrote to C-C-F and explained that I was newly divorced, and having a hard time, and I would be unable to continue, that this was the last check I could send. That perhaps in the future, when I was back on my feet, I would try again.

Uh uh. There was no way they were letting me go! They badgered me by phone and mail constantly for the next few weeks, and then a couple times a month for the next YEAR! They tried guilt, anger, guilt again, innocence ... they didn't let up even when I asked if I could maybe get my daughter on their beneficiary list, since I suspected that a lot of their kids were better off than we were! They didn't quit until I mentioned harassment, and even then it took a while to taper off.

So that's why I fight off the commercials. I don't want to get into that guilt trap again. I give a lot, to a lot of charities, but as soon as they start acting like they're entitled to a donation, they don't get another for a while.


Habitat is starting to annoy me. I got a call yesterday, asking for $200. "Well, you sent $200 last time, so perhaps you could send the same for this drive?"

Hey, folks, "last time" was just two months ago. BACK OFF! You won't get another dime from me until I haven't heard from you for six months.

Jay's father contributes a lot. He's probably on everybody's list. That bad part is that the more you send, the more often they ask, and when the donor is getting up in age, sometimes they forget that they already donated. Jay's sister, when she took over management of the old man's mail and money, was horrified to find that certain charities were sending request letters at the rate of one a week, and Dad was sending checks almost as often. He'd forget that he had already sent them a check. They sure didn't forget.

By the way, watch out for those cancer associations that pretend to be the American Cancer Society. If you read the small print, all the donation is used for is "informational materials". In other words, they print up little one-page "go get a mammogram" or whatever fliers that they put on the public info tables in a few libraries, and they keep the rest of the money.


1070 Snarl

Sunday, January 14, 2007 (1 am)

I'm supposed to go to central New Jersey for the day on Monday. Daughter has the day off, but Hercules has to work, so Daughter and I are going to do "girl stuff". But the weather reports out of Albany are full of storm. Sounds like maybe ice. Maybe snow. Maybe both.

I don't mind driving in ick. I just go slow and listen to CDs or the radio, and just keep slogging along. But the problem is my road. I'll be driving the minivan with the dropped floor (only 4" clearance), so if there's more than four inches of anything on the road, I can't move. The front edge of the dropped floor turns into a snowplow and pushes snow up into the motor compartment. If that's not bad enough, so much steam comes out from under the hood when that happens, I can't see anyway.

There's no place within a half mile of the house that I can park the van and leave it if I can't get up my road when I get home.

I'll watch the reports, listen to the weather radio, but I don't know how I can be sure, ever, what's going to happen until it actually happens.


Whatever the program is that handles "flash" stuff updated itself the other day, and ever since then if I go to any page that has flash stuff on it, it takes the browsers down. I couldn't even visit my own blog because of the Flickr badge (that box with the changing photos that used to be on the left). I had to comment it out in the template. I can't visit the blogs of anyone else with a Flickr badge, either.

I suspect what happened is that the flash thingy update didn't check the level of the operating system. I'm running Windows 98 SE. They're likely trying to do something 98 SE doesn't support.

I've been planning to buy a new laptop. I guess it's getting urgent.