Saturday, June 23, 2007

1322 Ricketts - 3

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I saved this photo for its own entry, because it must clearly illustrates why I love this place, and NEED to visit once a year.

It's my cathedral.


1321 Ricketts - 2

Saturday, June 23, 2007

More falls photos. It's difficult to select, because Daughter and Hercules don't want their likenesses here (although it's ok on their own sites, apparently), so I have to discard photos with recognizeable faces. Hmmm - maybe I can block out some faces. Ok, let's see what we've got:

You can see immediately where I need to lose those last 15 pounds-


Great faith in that rock....



Colors, and it isn't even autumn -





Friday, June 22, 2007

1320 Ricketts 1

Friday, June 22, 2007

[Edit - corrected spelling error.]

At Ricketts Glen last weekend:


Hercules sent a slew of photos. I'll post more later.

1319 Procrastination

Friday, June 22, 2007

I am in major procrastination mode. I decided that I had to do two things today: Gather up the clematis, and get the information together to sell the odd lots.

I have very carefully done neither.

The clematis is supposed to climb some chicken wire wrapped around the downspout next to the front porch. Every few years I cut it back to a few inches from the ground. It got cut back last fall, and with the mild winter and steady rain we've had, it has already grown a good 10 feet. Problem is, it isn't growing up the downspout. It has spread across the flower bed, over the azaleas, and halfway up the rhododendron.

Gathering it and tying it up isn't the hard part. The hard part is spiders and snakes. That area is full of spiders, and therefore is full of garter snakes who eat the spiders (I assume they eat the spiders - I HOPE they eat the spiders). Every time I've fussed in that area, I've flushed snakes. I'm not afraid of snakes, especially not garter snakes (although they DO get pretty big around here) - it's the spiders that really worry me. Big wolf spiders. It really won't be that bad. It's just so easy to find something else to do. Like visit YouTube. Much preferred over spiders and snakes.

Selling the odd lots will be easy. All I have to do is call the stockholder relations phone number on Monday, give them my SS#, account number, and count of shares to sell. Simple. I love that "all I have to do"!

I have to first find out what the stockholder relations phone number is for each of them. Some are available online, but only if you navigate some very dense web sites to find it. Some numbers are not available online. Some of them will have a number on a dividend check stub, but many of them are minor split-off stocks that don't pay dividends. None of them handle their own trades anyway.

Then find the account numbers. The ones that pay dividends will be easy. The ones that don't will be harder. I have to rely on my having filed the proper past communications in a timely fashion, and I've never been very good at that. The papers I need will be around here ... somewhere ... probably in a "to be filed" stack ... somewhere. Ack.

If I have the account numbers, I may not have to have the actual count of shares. The stupid things have a habit of splitting and spinning off. I'm never quite sure what the heck I've got. One more reason to get rid of odd lots of small stocks, anyway. They're never worth much, don't pay beans, and have a habit of reverse splitting, getting taken over, sold off, or changing names. I suppose if you have 3,000 shares of some small mid-western telephone company, it might be worth keeping track of it, but 5 shares acquired in a spinoff? Bleck.

I suppose once I get started it will be easier. Keep thinking - one step is one step forward, and you don't have to do it again. Getting started is the hardest part.

There's just so darn many of them!

1318 Rich Uncles, Watch out!

Friday, June 22, 2007

The government takes a large chunk of a large estate in estate taxes, the so-called "death tax". Over the next few years, the federal estate tax code will allow an increasing amount of the estate to be exempt.

I did a little research on this a while ago, but it wasn't particularly important to me, so I didn't write down and don't remember the precise amounts or years, and don't feel like looking it up now, but at some point, the exemption reaches a maximum, and the next year it reverts to the original rates.

Um, what's gonna happen in December of the last year of the maximum exemption? How many plugs will get pulled on December 31?

Just wondering....

1317 Source of All

The Whole Internet Truth

1316 Dangerous Drivers

Friday, June 22, 2007

I've had several dangerous, frightening, or annoying experiences on the road lately.

Driving home from the village last Monday, a paramedic "fly car" came up behind me, covered in flashing lights, siren blaring. I don't know how it works in other areas, but around here, when someone isn't breathing, the fly car is sent out ahead of the ambulance, because every second counts. When Jay had his first seizure and we didn't know what it was yet, when I managed to force my way through the bathroom door to get to him, he was not breathing. The fly car made it here from Rhinebeck, normally an 18-minute drive in traffic, in seven minutes.

So when I saw the fly car, I immediately pulled over and stopped. I knew what it meant. (I was driving the handicap van - 4" of ground clearance - pulling off the road is dangerous to my undercarriage, but I risked it.)

The car ahead of me did not pull over! The speed limit was 40 mph in a no-passing zone with curves, and he/she continued potting along at 40. I couldn't believe it! He/she never did pull over, even when he/she passed a side road and several driveways. The fly car was unable to get past for more than a mile, until there was a clear passing spot.

I hope the medic radioed in the idiot's plate number. I was horrified.

Then, Wednesday, I had just parked on route 9, across from Piper's office, when I noticed the ambulance coming north on route 9, approaching the traffic light in the middle of the village. (The lights were flashing, but they're not allowed to use the siren in the village unless they have a patient on board and are headed to the hospital - which restriction I don't understand or agree with.)

It's an old village, narrow road, one lane north, one south. The light was red for north-south traffic, and the ambulance, lights flashing, was stopped behind several cars at the light.

I've heard that some places have some kind of radio doohicky whereby an emergency vehicle can push a button and turn traffic lights red both ways. Evidently we don't have it here . The east-west traffic continued to go through the intersection. Finally, the north-south traffic got the green.

Now, what should have happened is that the vehicles heading both north and south should have remained stopped. That would allow the ambulance to go around the cars ahead of it at the light and proceed north in an open lane.

That didn't happen. Not only did no one let the ambulance through, no one made any attempt to pull over, either! (No room to pull over in the village - which is more reason to let the ambulance through the light to an open road.) All the cars and trucks just went through the light like normal, and on up the road. Like normal.

I don't understand. What's wrong with people?

Then we get to yesterday. I was on route 9w just south of Port Ewen, heading north, at 3:25 pm, behind a long line of cars traveling at the speed limit. It was a passing zone. There was a line of oncoming south-bound cars.

The first of the oncoming cars was literally only a few yards ahead of me when I heard a whooshing sound to my left, and saw a car passing me at an extremely high rate of speed. My brain went into overdrive. There was no way she could get back into the north-bound lane in time. I was looking at a really bad head-on about to happen. She was going to hit the oncoming car, or, if she moved right, she was going to hit me. I slammed on the brakes and whipped to the right, off the road, and the woman also whipped right at the same instant, into the same spot my van would have been in had I not gone off the road. We're talking inches, here.

Let's just say I was pissed.

It was a black Nissan Sentra, NY plate number NXP2870. The driver was a youngish woman with streaked dark blond/light brown hair, sunglasses, and a mole or similar mark on the middle of her left cheek. I think it was a NY plate - the frame covered the words. Anyway, the plate was white.

I know from experience that reporting the incident to the police won't do any good because it's my word against hers, and there was no damage.

I heard somewhere that given the plate number, it's possible to locate the owner of the vehicle, with an online search. I'd like to write her a letter. Can't do it through the DMV (which actually is good - I wouldn't want weirdos getting my home address from seeing me pass on the street - I've had enough trouble with my address and phone number on checks - there are a lot of lonely shop clerks out there). There are several sites that promise, for $25, to find the owner given the plate, but I've had enough experience with that type of search site to know that the money is for a "membership", not for the information, so when they can't deliver, you can't complain.

I don't understand what made her do that. What's wrong with people?

I followed her through Port Ewen, and then passed her on the multi-lane section, where she potted along behind a large truck that had trouble getting up to speed after the lights. She didn't seem to be in such a big hurry then.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

1315 Lunch and Small TTT

Thursday, June 21, 2007

FirstWoman and I had an almost three-hour lunch today. I went out the door at 10:30 am, found a flat tire on the minivan, used the compressor to pump it up again, went to the post office to mail the estimated taxes and got behind several people applying for passports, and finally made it to the Newburgh riverfront at 12:15, only 15 minutes late. It normally takes an hour anyway, so that was pretty good.

It was a beautiful afternoon. The restaurant was crowded, so we didn't get to sit out on the patio until halfway through dinner, but eventually we did.

I got home at 4:15, and would have to leave the house again at 5:15 for the 6:30 Third Thursday Mensa dinner in Poughkeepsie. Four people had RSVP'd, so Roman and I waited in the lobby for 20 minutes, but no one else showed up. The rushing clouds, whipping wind, falling tree branches, and occasional rain drops may have had something to do with it.... Neither of us were very hungry, both having eaten not-so-much earlier, a distinct disadvantage in an all-you-can eat buffet restaurant. I ate mostly fruit, vegetables, and shrimp, and I rediscovered Jello. I like red Jello! I'd forgotten.

We talked a lot. I got home after 9:30.

Wow. The whole entire day shot on two meals with two people. Both enjoyable, though. Back to the to-do list tomorrow.


When it's windy/stormy out, my roof antenna (I don't have cable) picks up an unknown channel at 21. Actually, I think it's a montage of several channels. Changes with the clouds, I guess. I got 45 minutes of "Wonder Years" this evening, and then it suddenly changed to "Shop at Home".

I loved "Wonder Years"! I'd forgotten about that, too. Jello and "Wonder Years". All in one day. Neat.

1314 Slow Cluster

When you click on the cluster map (on the right on the main page) it says "This map is updated daily (most recent update: 2007-06-18 22:18:13 GMT)."

Um, daily? It's now the 21st.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

1313 Ankle Bites

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Saturday, while going down a steep section on the falls trail, I stepped wrong on a loose stone, and my left foot got tipped too far, putting some stress on the outside of the ankle. It hurt for a minute, then was ok.

It has been ok, up until this afternoon. I was walking to the kitchen, and it suddenly started hurting really badly, with every step, on the outside back of that big bone. Stop walking, and it stops hurting. No swelling, no redness, no "lumps".

I have since discovered that it doesn't hurt to walk if I'm barefoot or wearing flat-soled shoes (like flip-flops), AND it doesn't hurt if I walk way up on the balls of my feet. It hurts only if I try to walk with a slightly raised heel.

Weird. Ok, Flat sandals for a while.

1312 Ack! Taxes!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Lunch today with Piper. Before lunch we went over my accounts. He's getting annoyed at my procrastination in selling my odd lots. He advises me not only on my investments, but on the tax ramifications. 60% of what he's controlling for me is in tax-free bonds. 100% of what I'm still holding is taxed. The longer I hold onto this stuff, the more it throws off his tax planning.

Recognizing "annoyed" in Piper requires some familiarity with him. The man's always cheerful and amusing. The only clues to annoyance is that he gets momentarily serious, or explains something more than once.

So I came home from lunch thinking about taxes, and how I may have thrown off the 2007 estimated tax calculations, and possibly 2008 as well, and then I realized with horror that it's now the 20th, and June's estimated tax payment was due LAST FRIDAY! ACK!

I've never been late before, so I don't know what the federal penalty is, but New York State misplaced a payment a few years ago (the idiots applied it to Jay's ss#, even though he'd been dead three years by then, and it was MY ss# on the form and on the check), and the penalty was pretty big. And before we'd got it straightened out, they were assessing penalties on the penalty. Ack ack!

So, another thing on the to-do-immediately list.

In the meantime, the Aerio's tire has gone flat again.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

1311 Cluster Map

I just noticed that the cluster map (on the right) is working! Click on it for a detailed view.

[Later edit - Oops. You have to be on the main page to see it. It's not there on an "entry only" page.]

1310 Daughter

I was just wandering through my photos on Flickr, and found this, one of my favorites. Daughter has said she doesn't want photos of herself on my blog, but she's unrecognizable in this, so it should be ok. I just like it as a picture.

Hiking in Colorado:

1309 Bits

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 (2:30 am)

Something I forgot to mention about the disasters of last weekend - The Man is highly allergic to citrus fruits. He can't be in a room that has been cleaned with citrus oil cleaners, for example. I was fully aware of that, but just before he arrived at the hotel, I had peeled and eaten an orange, and the peels were in the wastebasket. He took two steps into the room, and choked.

If I ever hear from him again, I'll be impressed with his level of tolerance.


A commenter asked about my reference to my first daughter. I'd had three first-trimester miscarriages, and then a pregnancy that looked like it was going to make it. We had only a few weeks to go when a "challenged" young woman who liked to see fire engines set fire to my building. It was a slow smokey fire in the storage room beneath my apartment. I suffered some smoke inhalation, and Mary Elizabeth was stillborn the next day, January 27, 1967.


I'm probably going to put on some weight this week. Friday was a classy restaurant dinner on a patio with a view, with The Man. Saturday was a good solid meal in a country hotel with Daughter, Hercules, and The Man. Sunday was a long slow dinner in an Irish restaurant with Roman. Today was sushi with Zig, FirstWoman, Angie, Nate, Julia, and Roman. Wednesday I'll have lunch with Piper. Thursday is lunch with FirstWoman, followed by dinner with the gang.

That's the tentative plans, anyway, subject to emergency expeditions to NJ for kitten rescue (or for anyone who might want to demonstrate tolerance).

I learned a few things tonight:
I like sushi.
Wasabi doesn't bother me like jalapenos do.
I like cold sake.
No one should ever let me drink sake again.


Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention the kitten. There's a feral cat who raises her kittens in a large deep window well at Daughter's apartment building. It's a safe place where the kittens can't get out until they're big, and nothing else is likely to go in, and there are window grills the kitties can hide behind. Last year, there was one especially pretty one that I said I would be willing to adopt when it was old enough. Well, about the same time Daughter figured it was time, the mother cat moved them. They disappeared.

During last Thursday's phone call, Daughter mentioned that there's another litter looking ready, and asked if I wanted one. I said I don't know, I'd want to see them and pick one, because Miss Thunderfoot would have a fit, so I'd have to really want it. Then she said "Oh. I'll call you back in a few seconds." And she hung up. I thought she'd got another call. Forty minutes passed, so I called her. She and Hercules had spent that time capturing a kitten for me. Duh?

She wanted to bring it to me Saturday. I pointed out that it wouldn't be safe in the car all day, and I couldn't take it into the hotel that night (especially THAT hotel, they already think I'm dangerous), so they'd have to keep it until I could pick it up.

I was shocked when I saw the two of them on Saturday. They were both covered in deep scratches. They've captured a demon cat for me. Hercules wants it GONE, now! So....

The kitten. He/she looks so scared.




Monday, June 18, 2007

1308 Back From the Falls

Monday, June 18, 2007

I'm back from my annual visit to the falls trail. This is the second year that it poured rain all day, even though several web sites had predicted only clouds. We walked anyway, and got soaked, but it was ok. The rain must have been unusual, because the water level was very low. Falls that are usually wide and thundering were dribbles.

I took very few photos, none of the falls. Previous photos are more typical, having actual water.

The Man and I were to meet at a hotel near Scranton at noon on Friday. He was a few hours late due to an unavoidable situation, and things went downhill from there. I may have gotten him banned from that hotel for life. During the course of the stay, I somehow jammed up and overflowed the toilet, overflowed the Jacuzzi, "stole" a chair from another room, rearranged the furniture, created a confusion with the "date" package (dinner, movie, wine) that came with the room, made us late for our Friday dinner reservations, and a few other things. Including forgetting to tip the houseman who was so helpful with the chair and furniture moving issues (which is embarrassing to The Man). And using up a few hundred towels.


When The Man arrived in the parking lot on Friday, I was standing on the room balcony, and he looked up in time to see me waving, as two men were climbing off the balcony into a cherrypicker. Explain that one!

If I ever hear from him again, I'll be impressed with his level of tolerance.

And then Saturday it rained, and we walked the trail anyway. There was some kind of tiny very annoying bug, a gnat or midge, that fell madly in love with The Man. He had bug spray, but it didn't seem to deter them. If he stood still for more than ten seconds, he was surrounded in a cloud of them. They kept trying to climb into his ears.

If I ever hear from him again, I'll be impressed with his level of tolerance.

Daughter and Hercules joined us in the trail parking lot on Saturday. Unless you plan to walk down the mountain AND up, you have to leave one car at the bottom, and then ferry everyone to the top in one car. I don't know why we decided to take The Man's car to the top, but that meant cramming all four of us into his beloved always-spotless Mitsubishi Spider. In hiking shoes that had been tromping around in the rain. I'm sure it was very painful for him, when he saw what lugged hiking boots fresh from a muddy lot can do to carpeting. Even I cringed. It was pretty bad.

If I ever hear from him again (sigh), I'll be impressed with his level of tolerance. Given the Maryland fiasco, and now this, maybe from now on he should plan our weekends.

A very strange thing happened. All the falls are named, of course, and the lowest one, where Jay's ashes are (along with those of my first daughter and some pets), is "Murray Reynolds". The Man and Daughter both noticed that every time I said "Murray Reynolds", the constant drizzle became a downpour. It was very noticeable because it was instantaneous. I even said "Murray Reynolds" a few times just to test it, until Daughter and The Man threatened me with banishment if I said it again.

Daughter and Hercules weren't with us very far. They took off on a side path shortly after the first falls to search for a geocache, and we didn't see them again until the bottom. I usually stop at Murray Renolds and ask for a few minutes alone to talk with Jay a bit, but I didn't do it this time, I guess because of that downpour thing. Like it was a message or something. I don't know. I was actually a little afraid to. The last time I was there with Daughter, something pretty incredible and more than a little scary happened, and I might have been tempted to try for it again (ok, yes, I was very tempted), and I feel like I was being warned off. Ok, I can take a hint. But now I have to wonder why I'd be told not to. What might have happened if I'd tried?

We had Saturday dinner at the little "hotel in the middle of nowhere", and Daughter and Hercules spent the night there.

Well, other than all the icky stuff, the weekend was very good. I hope he remembers the good parts.

Something amazing about him - he notices everything. Nothing gets past him. When we first arrived at the trail parking lot, we drove past a lot of cars and parked near the back. I then walked through the lot looking for a car with NJ plates that might be Daughter's or Hercules's. When I got back to him and said "No other NJ cars here", he said no, they're mostly PA, two NY, one with a Kingston NY plate frame, and then he proceeded to tell me about the various bumper stickers. He had noticed all that driving past looking for a space?

Then, after dinner that evening, he wondered why it took so long for our food to arrive. I said maybe there wasn't enough help. He said there were three waitresses, "Name 1, who was our waitress, and Name2 and Mary". There was no break in the conversation at our table (he and Hercules were playing off each other again), and yet he'd caught the names of the waitresses, including two with whom we'd had no contact?

Sometimes he's scary.