Saturday, March 10, 2007

1155 Laptop Laments

Saturday, March 11, 2007

I like the touchpad, but I don't like the keyboard at all, especially the space bar, which requires pressing it below the level of the surround, which is already starting a callus on the side of my right thumb.

There's a potential problem with the touchpad - my nails grow very long very quickly, and the touchpad insists on skin, not nails. Either I'm going to have to trim my nails more often, or learn to arch my fingers funny.

After several days of no statistics, I gave up on SiteMeter, and just started a new account. The new one seems to be working, but oddly, it doesn't record my visits, even though I didn't turn that option off yet. Very strange.

I installed IrfanView. I don't know who's responsible, Internet Explorer or Windows Vista, but somebody wants to protect me too zealously, and I had to try three different sites before I was allowed to download the code. Annoying.

FireFox is next, later tonight. I can hardly wait.

Six free months of Earthlink (I'm still dialup, unfortunately) came with the system, so I planned to use that until I figured out what I want to move up to. The desktop has BiznessOnline, and I always thought that was slow and unreliable, but Earthlink seems much slower, and more unreliable. BiznessOnline drops the connection a few times a week. Earthlink drops it a few times an evening!

On the happier side, the browsers are solid, flash ads and fancy animation are no longer killing me. I haven't been able to do a search on eBay without hanging in almost two years. I can't wait to try it again.

Oops. Just tried Spellcheck, and got no response to clicking the button. Something's off.

Friday, March 09, 2007

1154 Experts

Friday, March 9, 2007

Chris, over there at "Inane thoughts and insane ramblings", wrote about how "once a person deems themselves to have become an 'expert', he/she often assumes a position of arrogance", and what this sometimes (often!) leads to when it's in an online group.

Oh, my goodness yes! I've seen it. I haven't often been the recipient of flaming (although if I had written what I was actually thinking I might have been) because I usually lurk in new neighborhoods for a long time, finding out what the "rules" are, and who rules the roost, before I raise my head out of the foxhole. In most cases, once I get the lay of the land, I sneak out under cover of darkness and tiptoe away. It's a minefield out there.

In the past I have dropped in on online support groups and forums. There was a brain tumor forum, a long-term in-home caregiver forum, an Alzheimer's forum (when we were facing Jay's father's dementia), and a few bellydance forums, among others. In EVERY case, there was ONE person who seemed to be considered the doyen, the person who had all the answers, and who seemed to be constantly online. The expert.

They don't say "In my experience...", or "My opinion is...". It's always "This is so. Period." No, I'm not saying they have to qualify everything. You get it from the way they say it, they way they don't allow questioning or difference of opinion.

What's really weird is the way they acquire a following, sycophants, who worship the "expert", and will blister anyone who dares to contradict or question him or her.

When there's something I need to know about, I get into the research in a BIG way. A few days later, when I raise my head, I sometimes know more theory than professionals who have been in the field for years, because they know what they know, in the direction they're heading, but I now know what forty of their peers know, in multiple directions. And then I'm ready to talk with people with actual experience, to glean more, to ask about the conflicts and inconsistencies and holes and how it works "in the trenches" with real people, who are the real experts. Which is what got me to the forums.

Big mistake.

The Alzheimer's forum I visited was populated mostly by people who were lost and desperate for guidance. There was one woman who was obviously "The Expert", who doled out advice on everything. She was online 18 hours a day. She was often wrong. But woe be to any newcomer who questioned her pronouncements, "... but the doctor said...". The vicious wrath of her sycophants would descend. They'd point out her enormous experience in this area, her selfless willingness to be helpful.

No one was allowed to insult her by questioning her experience. She claimed to be the sole caregiver for her husband, who was in an advanced stage, with combativeness and wandering and incontinence - so howcum her sycophants didn't question her constant presence online? Especially when they themselves were doing the same thing for a loved one, and they could manage only a few minutes a day online? Is her husband tied to a chair all day?

I couldn't resist. I did question it. I retreated with my tail on fire.

I felt so sorry for those people who really did need expert help. Instead they got the pronouncement of some woman who just wanted to be the doyen, and got it simply by being the loudest and most constant voice. I suspect the Alzheimer's doyen had little or no direct experience with Alzheimer's, but was able to take over the forum simply by being able to be there full time. When you have an answer for every question, there are people out there who will think you're so wonderfully helpful, even though half your answers are bull poopy.

Chris commented on the arrogance of the "expert". I am amazed at the blind devotion of the sycophants.

I've noticed a similar phenomenon with "personal" bloggers whose life is a self-generated disaster. They attract a coterie of admirers who praise and flatter, believe the wildest stories and excuses, and will viciously attack any commenter who asks "Um, have you considered losing weight / getting a job / less partying more studying?" (Yeah, I admit I'm attracted to blogs that look like slow-motion train wrecks, but I don't praise the engineer.)

I don't understand.

(By the way, if you read Chis's piece, you'll notice a difference in our styles. He tends to be philosophical and objective. He's outside looking in. I get down dirty and personal. I'm inside fighting out.)


1153 Cons3rvative Response to Wikipedia

Friday, March 9, 2007

[I've replaced some "e"s with "3"s again, to slow down random cons3rvative searchers.]

There's a blogger living a few miles from here who has found an interesting website, It's a "cons3ervative alternative" to Wikipedia. His observations are at

Go read what he has to say about its founder, purpose, and worth. (His blog is safe. I can't, however, vouch for Cons3rvapedia, although I doubt you'd pick up any actual viruses there.)

1152 Bits

Friday, March 9, 2007

SiteMeter isn't working for me any more. It hasn't recorded any visits since 6 am Wednesday. I tested it by visiting the blog myself through Firefox and AOL, both of which will show up in the hit list, but no show even for those visits. I'm getting no updates at all. I logged in and out, checked the settings and account, everything I could think of, and it all looks good. Anyone else having any problem?

I ran errands yesterday, seven different stops, got a lot done. One of the stops was to the fuel oil bookkeeper. I prepay for my winter's fuel oil, which gets me a discounted price per gallon. I noticed that the previous delivery ticket said my credit balance after delivery was $416.74. Last week's delivery ticket said my starting credit was $173.51. Um, where'd the other $243.23 go?

They took the payment for my annual service contract out of my fuel oil credit. One of my stops earlier was to mail the check for the service contract, so she gave me credit for the double payment.

It annoys me that they debited my account for the service plan, without my permission. They've almost doubled the price since last year (but they cover more parts under the new plan), so there's another furnace service outfit that has been offering to take over service for less. I might have decided to switch to them. If I hadn't been vigilant, I could have been out the 200+ for a plan I didn't need, wouldn't have used, and didn't even know I had.

I'm doing laundry today, and for the first time I'm grateful for my silty hard well water. With Daughter and Hercules looking for a house, I've been doing some research on communities in central NJ, and found something weird. Several communities have so much chlorine in the water that it's undrinkable unless it's left standing a while, and it bleaches laundry! Many people on town forums have complained about whole loads of dark clothes ruined.

Daughter is looking forward to having a washer down the hall, instead of having to go to the next block. I wonder how she'd feel about having to take dark loads to the next town!

I read a bunch of stuff about the laptop yesterday, and I'm finding my way around it. It's getting easier.

I love the touch pad! You swoop the cursor around by sweeping your finger over the pad. The left and right mouse buttons are below it. Roman doesn't like it - he uses a wireless mouse at home and a minimouse (would that be a vole?) on the road.

One problem I had at first was that every once in a while, the system took off on its own, like I had clicked the left button or something. Roman laughed, he says that if you just tap the pad, that's a left click, and I must be accidentally tapping it, so he told me how to turn that off so you just use the buttons. But I'm having trouble dragging stuff because you have to hold the left button down with your thumb while moving the cursor on the pad with the other fingers. It's not too hard to drag up and down, but left to right is awkward.

In my reading last night I discovered that we've got "tap drag", too. If you tap the pad twice, it "grabs" whatever you're pointing at, and then you can swoop things around easily. Cool. So I turned tap back on. I like it! Scrolling is nifty, too. You just run your finger along the right side or bottom of the pad, and the page scrolls.

I don't know how on earth I'm going to get stuff moved from the old to the new system. Believe it or not, my biggest concern is bookmarks! I've got a gazillion of them, in AOL, Netscape, and Firefox, and I really hate the idea of starting all over. And the AOL saved mail. Don't know how to xfer that, either. I'm sure it's all in a folder somewhere, but I don't know where, what it's called. Searching for a phrase I know is in an email doesn't turn anything up.

1151 Deer Roping

Friday, March 9, 2007

I got this from a joke site. Don't know who wrote it, but it tickled me because it is exactly what would happen if you rope a deer. Whoever wrote it must have had some experience. It is absolutely true that if a deer gets you down, it'll jump up and down on you. And they do bite. How do I know? Because a high school classmate did exactly what this guy tried (but not for venison, just for "fun"), with exactly the same results! (He should have known better.)

By the way, it may not be illegal to rope a deer, but it would be illegal to pen and keep it. You need a permit for that.

I had this idea that I was going to rope a deer, put it in a stall, feed it up on corn for a couple of weeks, then kill it and eat it. The first step in this adventure was getting a deer. I figured since they congregated at my cattle feeder and do not seem to have much fear of me when we are there (a bold one will sometimes come right up and sniff at the bags of feed while I am in the back of the truck not 4 feet away), it shouldn't be difficult to rope one, get up to it and toss a bag over its head to calm it down, then hog tie and transport it home. I filled the cattle feeder then hid down at the end with my rope. The cattle, who had seen the roping thing before, stayed well back. They were not having any of it.

After about 20 minutes the deer showed up - 3 of them. I picked out a likely looking one, stepped out from the end of the feeder, and threw my rope. The deer just stood there and stared at me. I wrapped the rope around my waist and twisted the end so I would have a good hold. The deer still just stood and stared at me, but you could tell it was mildly concerned about the whole rope situation. I took a step towards it, it took a step away. I put a little tension on the rope and received an education.

The first thing I learned is that while a deer may just stand there looking at you funny while you rope it, they are spurred to action when you start pulling on that rope. That deer EXPLODED. The second thing I learned is that pound for pound, a deer is a LOT stronger than a cow or a colt. A cow or a colt in that weight range I could fight down with a rope and some dignity. A deer? Not a chance. That thing ran and bucked and twisted and pulled. There was no controlling it and certainly no getting close to it.

As it jerked me off my feet and started dragging me across the ground, it occurred to me that having a deer on a rope was not nearly as good an idea as I originally imagined. The only up side is that they do not have as much stamina as many animals. A brief 10 minutes later it was tired and not nearly as quick to jerk me off my feet and drag me when I managed to get up. It took me a few minutes to realize this since I was mostly blinded by the blood flowing out of the big gash in my head.

At that point I had lost my taste for corn fed venison. I just wanted to get that devil creature off the end of my rope. I figured if I just let it go with the rope hanging around its neck, it would likely die slow and painfully somewhere. At the time, there was no love at all between that deer and me. At that moment, I hated the thing and I would venture a guess that the feeling was mutual. Despite the gash in my head and several large knots I received when I cleverly arrested the deer's momentum by bracing my head against various large rocks while it dragged me across the ground, I could still think clearly enough to recognize there might be a small chance that I shared some tiny amount of responsibility for the situation we were in. I didn't want the deer to suffer a slow death so I managed to get it lined back up in between my truck and the feeder - a little trap I had set before hand. Kind of like a squeeze chute. I got it to back in there and started moving up so I could get my rope back.

Did you know that deer bite? They do! I never in a million years would have thought that a deer would bite somebody so I was very surprised when I reached up to grab that rope and the deer grabbed hold of my wrist. Now, when a deer bites you, it is not like being bit by a horse where they just bite you and then let go. A deer bites you and shakes its head - almost like a pit bull. They bite HARD and it hurts. The proper thing to do when a deer bites you is probably freeze and draw back slowly. I tried screaming and shaking instead. My method was ineffective. It seemed like the deer was biting and shaking for several minutes, but it was likely only several seconds.

I, being smarter than a deer (though you may be questioning that claim by now), tricked it. While I kept it busy tearing up my right arm, I reached up with my left hand and pulled that rope loose. That was when I got my final lesson in deer behavior for the day. Deer will strike at you with their front feet. They rear right up on their back legs and strike right about head and shoulder level with those surprisingly sharp hooves.

I learned a long time ago that when an animal like a horse strikes at you with their hooves and you can't get away easily, the best thing to do is try to make a loud noise and make an aggressive move towards the animal. This will usually cause them to back down a bit so you can escape. This was not a horse. This was a deer, so obviously such trickery would not work. In the course of a millisecond I devised a different strategy. I screamed like a woman and tried to turn and run. The reason I had always been told NOT to try to turn and run from a horse that paws at you is that there is a good chance that it will hit you in the back of the head. Deer may not be so different from horses after all, besides being twice as strong and three times as evil, because the second I turned to run, it hit me right in the back of the head and knocked me down.

Now when a deer paws at you and knocks you down it does not immediately leave. I suspect it does not recognize that the danger has passed. What they do instead is paw your back and jump up and down on you while you are lying there crying like a little girl and covering your head. I finally managed to crawl under the truck and the deer went away.

Now for the local legend. I was pretty beat up. My scalp was split open, I had several large goose eggs, my wrist was bleeding pretty good and felt broken (it turned out to be just badly bruised) and my back was bleeding in a few places, though my insulated canvas jacket had protected me from most of the worst of it.

I drove to the nearest place, which was the co-op. I got out of the truck, covered in blood and dust . The guy who ran the place saw me through the window and came running out yelling "what happened". I have never seen any law in the state of Texas that would prohibit an individual from roping a deer. I suspect that this is an area they have overlooked entirely. Knowing, as I do, the lengths to which law enforcement personnel will go to exercise their power, I was concerned that they may find a way to twist the existing laws to paint my actions as criminal. I swear not wanting to admit that I had done something monumentally stupid played no part in my response. I told him "I was attacked by a deer."

I did not mention that at the time I had a rope on it. The evidence was all over my body. Deer prints on the back of my jacket where it had stomped all over me, and a large deer print on my face where it had struck me there. I asked him to call somebody to come get me. I didn't think I could make it home on my own. He did.

Later that afternoon, a game warden showed up at my house and wanted to know about the deer attack. Surprisingly, deer attacks are a rare thing and the warden was interested in the event. I tried to describe the attack as completely and accurately as I could. I was filling the grain hopper and this deer came out of nowhere and just started kicking the hell out of me and BIT me. It was obviously rabid or insane or something.

EVERYBODY for miles around knows about the deer attack (the guy at the co-op has a big mouth). For several weeks people dragged their kids in the house when they saw deer around and the local ranchers carried rifles when they filled their feeders. I have told several people the story, but NEVER anybody around here. I have to see these people every day and as an outsider - a "city folk" I have enough trouble fitting in without them snickering behind my back and whispering "there's the idiot that tried to rope a deer."

My classmate could have written this.... "Cept it would have been Pennsylvania, not Texas. Question - Howcum the rope doesn't tighten and choke the beasty while it's dragging you?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

1150 Laptop Has Arrived

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The new laptop arrived this afternoon. I played with it for a while, and got pretty frustrated. It's a Dell Inspiron 1501, with Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium, a 15.4 inch TrueLife Wide-screen WXGA, and 80GB hard drive. Or something.

There's absolutely no hardcopy documentation. I had to send an emergency email to Roman to ask how to open the CD/DVD tray. He walked me through a bunch of stuff by phone this evening.

I've been on Windows 98SE all this time, so I haven't made the stepwise transitions. I'm totally lost! Even the terminology is different. I can't find anything. Hey - who knew that on a laptop "Shutdown" is obsolete! Apparently it's there, but you don't need it, so it's hidden away in a dark place. I feel like the guy who complained that he couldn't find the "Any" key.

Tomorrow I'll read the softcopy documentation. I have to go to the museum tomorrow afternoon and take care of the membership renewals that have arrived since last week, so I'll stop in a bookstore and see if there's a Vista for Dummies book.

Daughter called. Her father (Ex#2) is home from the hospital, and already ignoring the diabetes diet. He has no feeling in his feet, one foot is purple, hands are numb. He hasn't "handled business" in ages, like for example his car hasn't been inspected, registered, or insured in two years. Daughter has some work ahead of her. The only good thing is that he isn't objecting to her plan to move him back east. She doesn't know where she'll PUT him, but, one step at a time....

I did go to the ballroom dance class this evening. There was a guy in the advanced class that meets before ours who stayed to assist with our class, so I had a really good partner.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

1149 The Rest of the Weekend

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

So, the gathering was over at about noon on Sunday, and I headed over to Daughter and Hercules's apartment, which was only about 15 minutes away. Hercules was just returning from a run. Daughter was still at her conference. Hercules and I were going to go geocaching, but I fell asleep on the couch while he was taking a shower, and he didn't wake me until Daughter got home. Then we all three went geocaching.

It was an easy one, rather obviously hidden in a little-old-lady-friendly area, but it was fun anyway.

I'm going to buy myself a hiking GPS just like the one I got for Hercules, and start doing it myself around here.

Daughter is taking the next two weeks off (or however long it takes) to go to Colorado and attempt to drag her father back east. She got a call from his neighbor over the weekend while she was at her conference that he had fallen and couldn't get up, and he was taken to the hospital - for the third time in two months. It's now uncontrolled diabetes. He is simply incapable of taking care of himself.

She flew out yesterday and I haven't heard from her since. I called Hercules this evening and left a voice mail, if he'd heard from her, please fill me in. I don't know what advice I could give her. His sisters won't want him, and he can't stay with her and Hercules. He's got plenty of money, and the kids are looking for a house, so maybe he could buy a mother-daughter (father-daughter?) duplex for the three of them. (A fortune teller long ago said that *I* would end up living with him again, but I really don't see that happening!)

She talked to a social worker at the hospital on Sunday evening while I was there. She wanted to make sure that the hospital didn't discharge him before she got there. I could hear the woman clearly (Daughter's cell is very loud), and it sounded like she started out saying something like that there was no chance he'd be discharged anytime soon, and then she realized that maybe over the phone she should be a bit more circumspect and back off to "there are no discharge orders in the works". So, he may be worse off than Daughter expects. I wouldn't be surprised if his kidneys are failing.

He's only six weeks older than I. But he's been working on dying for as long as I've known him.


1148 Small World, continued

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

I bought a dark chocolate muffin/cupcake yesterday, lit a candle in it, sang Happy Birthday (55th) to Jay, and then ate half of it. I use the same candle every year, a little yellow and white one. In the past six years it has burned down only 1/8 inch. I'd like to scatter the other half of the muffin for the birds and chipmunks, that would seem appropriate, but I don't think chocolate is good for anyone but people. And maybe bears.

Which reminds me, "men live like bears with furniture." Don't know where that came from, but I like it and just thought I'd throw it out here.

Most couples have a song. For some reason, I have animals. With Obie and me it was hound dogs, with Jay and me it was polar bears, with Roman, it's penguins, and so on. The animal always seemed to have something to do with an early date, but when I think back, the animal always actually had something to do with the guy and the relationship. I guess that's why the animal stuck.

Well, back to the weekend.

The Saturday night dance, with a DJ, started at 9:30. Hercules and I sat at a large table near the side wall with a couple I'd met the evening before, Razor (in his 40s, I think, another computer professional) and his lady. Razor and Hercules hit it right off - they had the same taste in music, and the DJ played right right up their alley. They talked about what they liked and what they hated, and they matched perfectly. The two of them got all excited. Hercules is a bit hyper, and when the right music played, he'd stand next to the table and dance. By the end of the evening, he and Razor were both standing on opposite sides of the table dancing up a storm, challenging each other. The next day, I pointed out to Hercules that they were dancing with each other! "The table between you made it ok, huh?" Hercules was shocked that I'd even suggest such a thing....

(Somewhere in there was dessert in the hospitality room (a dozen varieties of ice cream and toppings, and every kind of pie ever made), and at midnight there was chocolate fondue, with fruit and marshmallows for dipping. Hercules dipped Oreo cookies. Sugar makes him bounce off walls.)

At one point I left the dance for a few minutes. When I got back, Hercules was sopping wet. Something got played that neither of them could resist, and they got out on the dance floor. I didn't find out what happened until the next morning. More later.

Anyway, at one point Razor said that he liked Barenaked Ladies, and then he turned to his lady and said "That's the cruise I was on in January". I whooped and said "I know of someone else who was on that cruise! A blogger in the St. Louis area!" (unless there was more than one BNL cruise in January). I tried to describe the other couple, but I had only first names (of which I wasn't sure anyway) and only the most superficial of physical descriptions (I didn't mention the Brazilian connection). It didn't spark any "Oh, yeah"s, but he said if they had met at all, they'd remember him. "I was the only Black guy on the cruise." He's also big into karaoke, so ya'll might have seen him there. I said I'd check, and let him know if the twain had met. Comments? Recollections? Anything anybody might want me to tell him?

He said he was in the naked photo, so I scarfed it off the other blog and attempted to enlarge it with Irfan, but it got too fuzzy to see anyone. I found a few dark blobs, but they could have been just bearded faces. He said that they were told to drop their robes on signal, and that was ok. The awkward part was afterward, when they had to bend over to pick them up, "being packed together so tight and all". He had to time it right to avoid the backside of the guy in front of him.

So, that was Saturday night.

Sunday morning at breakfast in the hospitality room, the whole room was abuzz - "Did you see that guy on the dance floor last night? Wow! He was incredible!" "He was breakdancing or something, and he'd go right down on his back on the floor, and he went like this with his legs (diving motion of the hand) and he came right straight up standing on his feet! Never saw anything like it!" "Who was he? I've never seen him before." "Silk, I saw you talking with him. Do you know him?"

I was very tempted to say "Know him? I took him back to my room last night. He agreed that the bed was too soft."

But, that's how rumors get started and reputations get ruined, so I didn't. I just said he's my son-in-law. He followed my daughter home one day and I said she could keep him. People were impressed.

The weekend's men:

The 42-year-old who monopolized my Saturday night at the Boston gathering was there. We talked a few times. I suspect he's still interested in some way, or I could spark it with no effort, but I'm having some trouble figuring him out.

The Un3xploded Cow was there, sans udders. There were two women chasing him around, and I'm not sure he's my type anyway, so I spoke with him only a few times. At one point there was a hug, and I did something very bad. His shirt was unbuttoned about halfway down, and that's about where my nose came to, and I discovered he has exactly the kind of "standing-out" furry front that I like, and I pulled his shirt more open and nuzzled my nose in the fur, "Oooo, furry. I like furry." That was Sunday morning. It'll give him something to think about between now and the next gathering (there's Toronto in April, and Maryland in May).

I met someone new, I'll call him Steve. He's a bit taller than I like, but nice looking. I walked up to him in the hospitality room when Hercules arrived and we couldn't find anyone to register him, and Steve looked like someone who might be in charge and could tell us what to do. He said nobody would care if Hercules wasn't registered, and if anyone did, send them to him. In the ensuing conversation, it was made clear that he was not involved with anyone, that he was familiar with the area where I lived and was considering buying a summer place up here, and he mentioned that Mensans eat so much because "we're not getting any sex". In case I didn't catch it the first time, he repeated it. And then something similar a bit later. Even Hercules said "He was coming on to you! Big time!" I mildly flirted back Sunday at breakfast, when it was safer. I'll do some research on him between now and the next gathering.

There was another man I fell instantly in lust with, a Paul Newman clone, but I like his wife. Sigh. I felt like telling her that if she ever decided she wanted a divorce, she should call me, and I'd make it easy for her.

I panted a little at Razor, too. A little too young, a little too tall, and a little too into popular music, but very smart and very nice to look at.

And that was the gathering.


Monday, March 05, 2007

1147 Small World

Monday, March 05, 2007

[Later edit - I remembered the name of the religion with the eternal flame - the Zoroastrians. See for a description of Zoroastrianism. It resonates with me in several ways (though not in others).]

In my usual time-unconscious way, I headed out Friday just in time to get to the Garden State Parkway at the beginning of rush hour. On a Friday. But it wasn't too bad, and I made it to the gathering hotel in enough time to register, sign in at the Mensa desk (I was a little embarrassed all weekend by my name tag - the woman at the desk had been into the wine, I guess, and tried to get fancy with "Silk", and it was almost unreadable), and meet a NJ blogger at 6 pm for dinner.

I'd been reading this lady's blog for several months. Her blog is full of atmosphere - she manages to convey mood even when she's writing about, oh, stop signs. I already knew a bit about her daily life, but I found I knew nothing about her. I expected a rather shy, quiet, perhaps indecisive, "gray" personality. Nope. She's decisive, open, confident, even a little imposing in appearance. She'd been kicked around in the past, but I think she's finding her strength now. I'm so happy to have met her. I needed a reminder that reading a blog is not "knowing" a person.

After all the advice I had got when I was planning to go to Manhattan for Roman's parents' memorial service, I vowed to go to NYC on my own this summer. I may now have someone to meet there.

The first Mensa sessions (monster trivia, a talk on lunar eclipses, and a talk on total wellness - pick one) were at 8 pm, but we were having such an interesting dinner, I blew it off. After dinner I went to the hospitality room, and found subs and all kinds of drinks and yummies, and lots of interesting people. There were 200+ attendees. I think I've about convinced half of them it's time to retire. I was also surprised that about half the people there are "in computers", and of those, half work for (or worked for) The Company. Most are now contractors.

I ran into one of the guys I had been playing trivia with, who had moved to Chicago. Another of our Mid-Hudson members moved to Chicago a few months ago, and I asked him if he had seen her at any Mensa event there, and he said no, but that he was surprised to run into her at a store downtown. In Chicago. Neat, huh?

Saturday breakfast in the hospitality room started at 6 am. I was up until 1, so there was no way I was going to make that. Last year, Roman was disappointed because by the time we made it to breakfast, all the lox were gone. Lots of bagels, but no lox. (I had never had bagels with lox and cream cheese, so a few weeks later, he introduced me at breakfast at his house. His were better ... ) I got downstairs at 7:15, and there was still lox. I wandered by at 10:45, and there were STILL lox! (Were? Was? Is lox plural?)

See, Roman? You should have been there. I called him and left a message to that effect.

At 9 I attended a talk and slide show by a woman who goes on archaeological tours. This one was on Iran, her latest trip. We've all heard of the Persian empire, and Alexander the Great, and the Hittites, and all that, but it hadn't occurred to me that Iran is full of ruins, just like Greece and Italy, and that you can, like, touch a door frame that Alexander had likely touched. I like connections like that. A lot of the "ruins" seemed fresher and in better condition than many younger ones I had seen in Europe. She says that Iran is tolerant of other religions. There's a Zoroastrian temple where there is an eternal flame, apricot wood and sandalwood in a bowl, that the priests have kept burning for 2000 years (actually, the number was "since 400", but I can't remember whether it was BC or AD).

At 10:30 a guy compared Tim Burton's movie Mars Attacks with Dante's Divine Comedy, showing the parallels in punishment and reward. The talk was all about the similarity between the two, but that wasn't the real point (which many attendees seemed to miss), which was that you can take any two things, and if you can find a few descriptors in common between them, you can build on them to make it sound like they are exactly the same. The talk was tongue-in-cheek, but some people missed that. Maybe because the two things he chose were very parallel - or maybe he was just good enough at it that he even convinced me, who was aware what he was doing. I wonder if he has any good deals on any bridges....

At noon, they brought in a few hundred pizzas.

I skipped the 1 pm program choices (there were multiple choices in each time slot) as none excited me, and I wanted to meet more people in the hospitality room.

At 2:30 I attended a synopsis of the Cosmology Colloquium held in Albany last fall. The subject was mostly what was before the "big bang", black holes and how they form, dark matter, etc., and the search for what really "fills" space.

At 4 there was a hilarious pun-filled rather naughty performance of the Pungo Players - a "Camelot"-themed musical playlet named "Mensalot", followed by a hotel-catered buffet dinner.

Then of course we all watched the lunar eclipse.

Son-in-law Hercules arrived at about 6. Daughter was attending a weekend Montessori conference in the city, so I had invited Hercules to join me. All the Mensa attendees wore a name tag that allowed them into the programs and hospitality foods, so I took him to the Mensa registration desk to get him a temporary badge, but there was no one there. Undeterred, he folded a piece of paper to the proper size and faked himself one. (People laughed because he had carefully copied, in black pen, the pink spoon sticker on my badge. The spoon was to indicate that I had paid for the dinner buffet.)

I introduced him around (Look what my daughter brought home for me!), and then we went to the 7 pm keynote talk, given by George Musser, a Scientific American editor, on what discoveries he expects will be made in fundamental physics and cosmology in the next ten years. (The particles are getting tinier and tinier, and Hercules and I both believe there is no upper or lower limit in size. When they finally detect what they now theorize are the tiniest particles, I'll bet they'll find hints of tinier. Ho hum.)

At 9:30 we went to the dance. The next morning, everybody at breakfast was taking about Hercules. He shook the place up. Next entry.

[Much later edit - this is the night I first met The Man.]

1146 I'm Back

Monday, March 05, 2006

It was an interesting weekend. I got home a little after midnight last night, and I've been trying to catch up all day.

I have to get my check for registration for the Maryland and Metropolitan Washington gathering in May into the mail by 5 pm to qualify for the vast discount offered to this weekend's attendees. And today is Jay's 55th birthday, so I have to find either a fudge brownie or a piece of death-by-chocolate cake to stick a candle into, and eat for him. He was a chocoholic, so even though I ate so much junk the past three days that I have to swear off food for the next week, I'll make an exception today.

Note - never ever attempt to skewer an Oreo cookie and dip it into chocolate fondue. Well, ok, you can dip it, but don't eat it. That's real death by chocolate.

Back later.