Saturday, April 14, 2007

1207 Eyes

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Ever since the optometrist said I have "albino eyes"(an exaggeration) I've been reading about eye color, why eyes look the color they do. According to what I've read, the only color actually in the iris is some degree of some shade of brown. The other colors are caused by the eye reflecting in the blue wave length.

The iris is multi-layered. The cells in each layer (inner and outer, to simplify) can be some degree of translucent or opaque, and can have some degree of some shade of brown.

The opacity determines how much blue is reflected. If there is no brown and all layers are translucent, then no blue is reflected and you get the pink eyes of the albino, rare in human albinos. Pink eyes don't block light, and are very sensitive to and can be damaged by light.

If some or most of the cells are opaque, and have no brown, then you get clear blue eyes. The degree and location of the opacity determines the shade of blue. The more opacity the more blue and the more to the outer layer the more blue. A mostly translucent outer layer and some opacity scattered toward the inner layers will move toward gray, since the light is reflected less evenly.

Brown eyes are easy to figure out. Lots of color. Some brown eyes have a blue cast. That probably indicates a translucent outer layer over a well-colored inner layer.

Green eyes happen when the outer layer is colorless and mostly translucent, and the inner layer has some degree of light brown. Blue reflected over light brown gives green.

Liz Taylor's violet eyes? No brown, and a mix of opacity and translucence that allows some pink through with the blue.

My mother's eyes and Jay's eyes were very dark brown. Lots of an even brown color and translucence in an even mix in both layers.

Roman's eyes I call "kaleidoscope eyes", having flecks of every color. He must have a royal mix of opacity, translucence, and shades of brown color. A speck of clear on top of a light brown with a speck of dark brown right next to it with a heavy dose of opacity next to that, and so on.

Daughter's eyes range from gray through blue through turquoise, depending on her mood. I don't know what that means.

My father's eyes were the silvery blue of a winter sky. Translucent outer, opaque inner, no color. My father had "nearly albino" eyes, having no color, and high translucence.

My eyes? The outer layers are translucent and colorless (except for a visible brown spot in the outer layer of one eye). The inner layers are opaque, with small flecks of light brown. That makes them look light gray. BUT, because of the light brown, there are hints of green, especially in the right light, and usually in mirrors (mirrors cut blue, that's why blue-haired ladies don't know they have blue hair). I suspect something has changed, because my eyes were definitely green in high school. Something faded.

So when the optometrist said I had albino eyes, he was referring to the very small amount of color I have. Near albino would have been more accurate. Or like, maybe, Nordic.

All that reminded me of deer eyes. Just as you can tell a doe's footprints from a buck's by the shape, you can tell a doe from a buck by what their eyes reflect. If you've ever caught a deer in your headlights, you know that their eyes reflect a bright glow.

A doe's eyes glow toward pink, and a buck's eyes glow toward yellow or green.

Betcha didn't know that.

Friday, April 13, 2007

1206 Boring Museum Day

Friday, April 13, 2007

A bunch of errands this morning. Stopped in at Piper's to warn him about the Belorussian, and he said he's already decided that the ferry idea wouldn't fit into his vacation schedule. He was surprised to hear what else I had to tell him, though.

Then to the bank, to deposit my first check from my widow's share of Jay's retirement. It's a tiny check, but I wouldn't be able to collect the full amount until Jay would have been ready for retirement, and by that time I'd be 73. I decided to take the reduced amount now.

To the health club to make my monthly payment. There was a sign on the rack that any shoes that had not been used in a while (like, say, MINE!) were going to be thrown out. Um, my shoes weren't there. I freaked. They are rather expensive jazz shoes, difficult to find, and especially difficult in my size. The woman in charge wasn't there, so I left a note. She called later in the afternoon to say that she has the shoes.

To the deli to get tea and a snack for the museum.

To the post office, mail some more bill payments.

I forget where else.

Then to the museum, where I put in 4 hours printing labels and membership cards for 33 more renewals and stuffing envelopes with cards, letters, and premiums. They have like eight levels of membership, and each level gets a different envelope stuffing. The current process is to do them alphabetically. That's a piece I'm going to change. Next time, I'm going to sort them by level! Sheesh!

The hardest part is stuffing the envelopes, because I have to stand at a conference table to do it, and leaning forward is extremely hard on my back. My back is sore and tired tonight. (People compliment me on my "perfect posture". What they don't know is that if I slump, I fall down.)

They've been working on the exhibits, for the May opening, and the featured exhibits are ice boats. Those things are BIG. (Well, some of them.) So before I left, I went downstairs with Russ to see what they'd done. It's amazing to me that I ended up volunteering at a museum whose concentration interests me very little. At least the location is interesting.

To the post office to mail the membership envelopes.

To the next village upriver. I read that they have free WiFi in the village, and I have a load of stuff to download that keeps timing out on my dialup at home. The laptop did recognize that there was WiFi, but it said the connection was weak (I was sitting right under the tower, which is atop the town water tank!), and it "connected", but said it could not access the internet. Huh? Their definition of "connect" is not the same as mine, I guess. I gave up.

And that was the day. Boring, but tiring.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

1205 Driving to London

[Later edit - Step 2 got folded into the URL. Fixed it. Link and directions will work now.]

1. Go to
2. click on "maps" (above the search box)
3. click on "get directions" (under the search box)
4. type "New York" in the first box (the "from" box at the top)
5. type "London" in the second box (the "to" box at the top) and click "get directions"
6. scroll down to step #23

Google has a sense of humor.

1204 Static

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I’ve got a static electricity problem.

I think I’ve always had it. I build up a powerful charge just walking around.

Back when watches were stem-wound, and then self-winding, a watch never kept decent time on my wrist. Left on the dresser or in my purse it was fine, but on me, they just didn’t work. Jewelers said I was “magnetic”.

I started working for The Company in 1968, in Kingston. Computers were huge then, and kept on raised floors in climate-controlled rooms. The rooms were kept at a constant humidity because the systems were very sensitive to static electricity. Static electricity could cause a “machine check”, a major error in main storage. Each central processing unit (CPU) was surrounded by tape drives (those tall things you see representing computers in old movies) and banks of waist-high disk drives. When a CPU machine checked, all its tape drives unloaded simultaneously, and the arms of all the disk drives slammed back, rocking the banks of drives. It was an awful KA-CHUNK! sound. Loud. Followed by eerie silence.

My job entailed large amounts of time out there on the raised floor. Every time I went to the machine room, at least one machine crashed. Sometimes my progress through the room was announced by a series of KA-CHUNK!, KA-CHUNK!, KA-CHUNK! as I passed the machines. I didn’t have to touch them. If I got within eight feet of them, they went down.

It took the operators a few weeks to figure out I was causing it, because it wasn’t consistent and frankly didn‘t make sense. They turned me over to the engineers. Back then, I wore nylon stockings and nylon slips. My hair was thick, long, and loose. They made me spray everything I wore with a static guard, and dampen and tie up my hair, and if that didn‘t work, they were going to have to transfer me from programming to publications. (For a while, they actually had me trailing aluminum foil from the back of my shoe!)

Luckily, it worked. As long as I didn’t touch the paper in the operator’s console, anyway.

Then we got some new machines, the latest technology, the next model. They were supposedly also less sensitive. As a test floor, we got the first two machines off the line. Each machine manufactured got a unique model number, so it could be tracked during its life, and we got 000001 and 000002.

It just so happened that I was carrying on a mutual flirtation with the 2nd shift operator on 000002.

Every time I got anywhere near 000002, it crashed. The joke was that it recognized me and was jealous.

Fast forward two years. I’m now a Company rep at a large chemical company in St. Louis. The customer is excited because they are upgrading to the newly released technology. The new machine arrives and is installed over the weekend. The customer programming manager invites me down to the raised floor to show off his new baby.

I walk into the room on Monday afternoon, and hear ………….. KA-CHUNK! Followed by an eerie silence.

I turned to one of The Company field engineers, who had installed the machine, and said through the stunned silence of the FE and the programming manager, “I bet I can tell you the serial number on that machine.”

I was right.


I’m beginning to wonder if the serial number on my laptop might be 000002. Maybe some component deep inside is made of a bit of metal recycled from my old nemesis.

When I walk into the room and touch it, I get a shock. Always, every time. There’s a flash of light jumping between us. I’m sure it’s me generating the charge, because after that there’s no more, as long as I don’t get up and walk around. If I go out to the kitchen, when I come back I get another shock.

Jay used to ground himself when he walked into the computer room by touching a screw on the light switch. I tried that, and it’s not working for me. The only thing I can find that seems to work is the flatscreen monitor on the desktop PC, so now I touch that before touching the laptop. (Everything else on the desktop machine is plastic, so except for the monitor, which I rarely touched, static had not been a problem.)

I’m afraid I’m going to hurt the laptop, or in my efforts to avoid shocking the laptop, I’ll hurt the desktop monitor. (It’s a real fear. Back in about 1996 Jay had received an early prototype of a Blackberry-type thingy, to give to me for testing, on the theory that I can break anything. One day I touched the screen, and it went ZZZAAAAAAAP-POP, and it never recovered.)

Suggestions? Any way I can ground me or the laptop?

1203 FirstWoman's Evening

Wednesday, April 12, 2007

It's well into Thursday by now, the post date will say so, but this entry is about Wednesday. Deal with it.

I spent the morning sleeping, early afternoon got lost, late afternoon on paperwork, and evening at an "information session" ("panel" doesn't fit, neither does "lecture" or any other word...) on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, organized by FirstWoman. It was interesting, and gave me something to think about. But it was also a bit one-sided. When you accuse someone of doing something that's not a good thing, it's obligatory to also attempt to understand WHY they do that thing. So the information was appreciated (but I already knew a lot of what the American media doesn't tell us because I read blogs and mid-eastern newspaper articles), but I'm not yet ready to venture an opinion.

I sat next to Roman, and he's the person I would most like to discuss it with, but not then, not yet, and with him, the moment passes quickly.


TV commercial for a golf course: "... and it's only minutes from many locations in Albany county."

Duh? That statement is still bonging in my head, for about six different reasons.


The Microsoft service website says that Firefox has problems on Vista, and can cause Vista problems I guess, so that explains the strange lack of formatting I noted a few entries back. It goes on to say that Firefox has a fix. So I'll have to check on that tomorrow.

I'm also getting the error message that Sonic Something-or-other is causing compatibility problems, and the Microsoft service site has a fix, but it says that the application has to be removed prior to applying the fix. Great. I haven't the faintest idea how to remove something I can't find in any searches. Time to read some more of the "Vista for Dummies" book.


I want to go to the museum tomorrow. I'm sure there's a backlog of memberships to process. We'll see if I get there.


The Man is going south for the weekend, and said he wanted to talk to me this evening, "before he left", and was disappointed that I'd be out. I told him I'd call him, but when I did, after I got home, it went to voicemail. Fooey.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

1202 The Lost Nation

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

It wasn't a three hour lunch with Piper today - it was only two hours, plus the half hour we spent in his office going over my taxes.

The Angel didn't include the 111.5 hours, 1,127.1 miles, and 38.02 in tolls for 2006 volunteer work, which bugged me. I was under the impression that starting 2006, you could deduct x dollars for the hours and x cents for the miles in addition to the tolls. All that record keeping for nothing.

Piper was willing to bounce it back to The Angel to redo it, but I said it probably wouldn't be worth it unless it dropped me a bracket, so I let it go. But (evil me) I might call The Angel after the crush is over, and tell him that Piper said that The Angel would cover it out of his own pocket. Just kidding. (Piper freaked anyway. The Angel is famously tight.)

As we were finishing up, another client came in, a thin dark man about our age. Piper introduced us, saying that the man was from Belorus (used to be Byelorussia), and invited him to lunch with us (at the tavern instead of the cafe, which pleased me).

The man had a thick accent, so I occasionally missed a phrase, but the conversation was amazing, covering Baltic history and politics, Stalin and Tito, the history of the coexistence of Jews, Muslims, and several varieties of Christians in the area. Mostly it was the new guy and me against Piper, which was satisfying (but don't tell him that). I had Jamaican scallops, and they were very good, and at the end of the meal a glass of wine was mispoured and needed a home, so I got that, too. Free.

Piper said that the Belorussian had been trying to get Piper to visit Belorus, that it was mountains, sea shore, and orchards. The man was going back for a visit this fall, and it turned out that he'd be there at the same time that Piper and his lady were going to be on the east coast of Italy. The Belorussian talked Piper into arriving in Italy a few days earlier, and taking a ferry from Bari, a four hour trip across the Adriatic Sea, "and you'll arrive only ten minutes from my home. You'll love Belorus." He was very clear that Piper would be visiting Belorus.

People with a better grasp of geography should be raising eyebrows about now. I merely felt a little confusion.

When Piper got up to talk to some people at the bar (he knows everyone in town, it seems) the Belorussian turned to me and said that he had very much enjoyed our conversation, and would like to continue it, "just you and me", some evening.

I blinked twice, and stammered, "I enjoyed it too, but if you mean that in a romantic way, I can't. I'm not available."

He blinked twice, and said, "Ok. Just talk. You decide."

And then Piper returned, and we went back to the office, where I gathered up my papers and left the two of them. I went to the mall, shopped a little, and got my glasses adjusted. As soon as I got home, I dragged out the big atlas and looked up Belorus, Bari, and the Adriatic coast.

Uh huh. Belorus is, as I suspected, nowhere near the Adriatic. It's further north, completely landlocked, bordered by Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and the Ukraine.

Across the Adriatic from Bari is Albania and Croatia. I checked carefully for maybe an Albanian or Croatian town named "Belorus", but nada. I know there has been some political shuffling around there since that atlas was printed, but not that extreme!

Something's wrong. I'm gonna lug that atlas into Piper's office tomorrow and ask him what he thinks, where he thought that ferry ride was going.

So then about 6 pm, the phone rang, and it was the guy. He asked if he could come over to talk with me this evening. "Come over? Here? This evening? [Read with rising panicked tone.] Uh, no. Perhaps we could meet like at the diner, some afternoon. Coffee. Talk there. Not here. No."

It was a short conversation, after which I made sure the doors were locked. Deadbolted.

I gotta talk with Piper! I just remembered his lady has a doctor's appointment tomorrow. Oh, dear.


It's funny. I had all those online dating profiles out there, and nothing but duds, gradually petering to no nibbles at all. I kill the profiles, and suddenly men are dropping from trees. Good ones, bad ones, big ones, small ones, fat ones, tall ones. I could take my pick. I'm rather pleased that the one flirtation I decided to follow up on, whom I suspect I chose precisely because he seemed impossible (fear of actually finding someone, Silk?) looks like it might get interesting.

Scary, but interesting.


Later addition:
I am now entering my 43rd hour awake, and it's odd for a little old lady, but I'm neither physically nor mentally tired. I feel like I could keep going. Must be all that end-of-release overtime training in The Company. My eyes, however, have been red and swollen all day, and now they're getting dry. Makes me wonder how many hours I could do if I could just close my eyes occasionally without necessarily sleeping.

1201 Sleepless

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

[Later edit - more info on the strange Blogger bug.]

I went to bed at about 4:30 am (don't ask, I don't know, maybe I'm punishing myself for having accomplished nothing all week), set the alarm for 10 am, worked some crosswords, and was just falling asleep when something woke me - to the sight of a huge wolf spider running up my pillow, inches from my face.

I have a small problem with spiders that close. I think they can read minds.

It escaped between the top of the mattress and the wall, and I've been wide awake since. I heard every click in the house, every train passing (two miles away), every vehicle on the road, every raccoon in the yard. Miss Thunderfoot snores. So here it is 7:50 am, and I may as well give up.


Something has happened to Blogger. I don't have the toolbar across the top of this input area, you know, the "edit HTML", "preview", "change size/font/color" thingies? Anyone else having the same problem? It looks very primitive. (Worse, the "save as draft" button doesn't work.)

Surprise. Bloglines isn't working, either. Also primitive. I don't get the list of posts, the "buttons" that are usually on tabs are just arranged in a list, and they don't seem to work as links to anything.

I've seen all of this before, and it resolved itself, but I'm concerned because no one else has mentioned seeing it. Could it be only me? Has my Java gone sour, or something?

Later -
It's also Yahoo, and Flicker, and a few other sites, but only on Firefox! Netscape and Internet Explorer (and AOL, which uses IE) are having no trouble formatting the pages. Hmmmmm. It's not me. It's Firefox.

1200 So Far Behind

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

It's 3:45 am, and I should be asleep. I have to meet Piper at 11:30 tomorrow (actually later today! Ack!) to go over the tax ramifications (The Angel finally finished the 2006 taxes, and the plans for 2007) and outline the next set of sales and purchases. And then lunch, of course. Probably not the usual three-hour lunch this time, at least I hope not. It's a busy time for him, and the broken foot and his lady's surgery have him working weekends, so I don't want to distract him. Plus, I'm so far behind on my own stuff I'm beginning to feel so overwhelmed that I sit and stare at lists instead of DOING stuff. When I feel overwhelmed, I play Spider Solitaire, and it's been so bad lately I'm beginning to recognize repeats of deals.

I've got a few trips coming up, and I absolutely have to make reservations NOW!, or I'll be camping in the hotel lobby.
If I don't do laundry soon, I'm going to have to buy more clothes!
Pay bills? My credit rating is good enough to take a hit or two, I hope.
Sell those stock dogs? Oh well, they can only go up after that dive the other week.
Clean house? Spider webs? Spiders eat those clothes moths. Let'em work.

I didn't make it into the museum at all last week, so I definitely have to go this week. Today is out, so it'll have to be Wednesday, but I have a panel discussion I want to attend Wednesday evening, and if anyone wants to have dinner before the program, it could be tight.

The calendar is rapidly filling up. All winter there's nothing, and then all summer there's three or four things I want to do every day of every weekend. I refuse to miss Spring Plowing (my beloved draft horses) again this year! Priorities will have to rotate.

I gotta get organized. Or maybe an assistant. Yeah, an assistant.... That's the ticket.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

1199 Laptop Lament

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Having trouble with connection (bouncing every three minutes), and laptop is being difficult. I had to restore from the 3/14 checkpoint on Friday. It was ok for a while if I shutdown every time, but if it goes into sleep or hibernation, it's very sick when it comes back up. Mother is not pleased.