Saturday, July 14, 2007

1375 Saturday Sigh

Saturday, July 14, 2007

I went to a party/BBQ at The Gypsy's today. It was her son's 11th birthday, and a good excuse for a big-deal party. Gypsy's parties are always good. She goes all out on the food, and the conversations always make for interesting (although trivial) listening.

I never talk much at her gatherings, partly because I simply don't talk much anyway except in a small "around the table" group, and partly because if you have to raise your voice to get in, I'm out. I have a soft quiet voice, and am reluctant to raise it. (I also don't much care for loud women. Brassy women. I'll just let them have the floor. And the man, for that matter.)

Not that I can't speak up. I have some theater training, and I can make myself heard in the last rows without a microphone, without straining in the least. I know how to project. Perhaps I don't speak up and jump into conversations because I don't feel I have all that much to contribute. Not that what I might have to say would not be pertinent, but that most party conversations, although interesting to listen to, are of no real import. If you try to throw meat in, you get a blank stare.

I've never learned to chit-chat.

I was even more quiet today. I was there five hours or more, and may have spoken all of five words. I was a bit late in arriving, too. My brain felt scattered. I had a lot of inertia to overcome to get out the door. Maybe I'm still tired from Thursday? Doesn't sound likely. Anyway, mostly I sat, listened, and sipped root beer. I haven't had A&W in a long time. It was good.

Friday, July 13, 2007

1374 No Explosions

Friday, July 13, 2007

It was almost exactly two years ago that I went to dinner and a movie with an old friend, thinking that it was platonic, and discovered during the evening that it was "a date", my first since Jay had died. That evening started an explosive chain reaction that almost destroyed my sanity.

Tonight I went out for dinner and a movie with an old friend, planning to have a nice platonic evening (ironically the same theater, by the way), and I discovered during the evening that he wanted to call it "a date".

I'd like to keep him close, an intimate friend, but I don't want any romance. That's a good way to lose a friend. I prefer not to lose him as a friend. I'm two years older now. We'll see if I've learned anything.

1373 Quick Quick

Friday, July 13, 2007

This'll be a quick entry - going out for dinner and movie this evening, and I have to wash and dress yet.

My friend's surgery went well yesterday. Of course, it took all of 20 minutes, then another hour or two recovery, but the entire hospital time was 7 hours. We spent most of the time talking in the ambulatory surgery waiting room.

Some of our topics might have shocked the other people in the waiting room. "And then when she said she 'likes to thuck it' I thought she meant the stud, and she did mean the stud, but not the one I was thinking."

During the surgery, I was so tired I fell asleep in the waiting room.

I got home about 7:45 pm, and was falling asleep at the laptop, but then a friend called and we were on the phone for an hour and a half. That's remarkable for me. Got to bed about midnight.

This morning I remembered that the show on Hell is this evening, and the VCR in the kitchen had died, so I had to drag out the book on the DVD recorder in the living room, and figure out how to set the time and program it to record this evening. I'd never used it for anything beyond watching, so it was all new. The booklet is badly organized and uses words they don't bother to define, so it took me almost an hour to set it.

I was so unsure that I did it right, I also set the ancient VCR in the bedroom. It'll probably explode at 9:58 this evening, dust being explosive....

Whatever. If I don't capture the show, it'll be because I'm not supposed to.

I did some shopping this afternoon, for a friend's son's birthday party tomorrow. I wasn't sure what I was looking for (per her recommendation), but then I found it, and I'm pretty sure I got the right thing, I think. I had bought him a fancy trick kite last week, but then last Friday he fell off a slide and lacerated his spleen, so now he's on bed rest. A kite has become inappropriate. So I needed something for a kid who needs quiet occupying for the next month.

I hope he has a nice day - no rain.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

1372 No Sleep

Thursday, July 12, 2007

It's 5:45 am, and I've had no sleep. I'm taking a friend to the hospital for outpatient surgery today, and absolutely had to wake up by 7:30. That's early for me, since I have no regular wakeup time these days.

I suspected that I wouldn't sleep at all because I'd be afraid of sleeping through the alarm. I was right. I spent many hours with my eyes closed, but I don't think I had more than a few 15-minute episodes of drifting. When you lie there with closed eyes, the mind takes off on its own, and the things I was thinking about (actually, the Who, and the frustration and growing hurt and anger) made it even harder to sleep.

When it got to 5:30, I realized that if I did fall asleep at that point, I absolutely would sleep through the alarm.

So here I am.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

1371 Food Fight?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Some guy in Kingston is turning 60, and has decided to celebrate by inviting the entire community to a food fight this Sunday, I assume in his yard. Right next to the Family Court building in uptown Kingston. "Bring water pistols, also anything soft that will do well in a food fight -- mashed potatoes, key lime pie, jello." FW wonders if I'd like to go.


Food fights seem to be a staple of situation comedies, and every time I see one, my thoughts run like "Now who's gonna clean that up?", and "That will definitely stain that sofa!" Not to mention the waste of perfectly good food.

I simply cannot imagine me in a food fight.

I also can't imagine a food fight in uptown Kingston. The first time a load of mashed potatoes hits a neighbor's car or yard, the police will be called.

And who's gonna clean it up?

1370 Moral Questions

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

[Edit - I found an article about the moral questions, link added at the bottom.]

I've had some folks find this blog after a search on "apostasy". Interesting. Interesting that they found me, even though I had purposely misspelled it to foil searches. Half of them clicked on the comment link, but then didn't comment. More interesting. What's that about?


Back in May I mentioned a study being done by some folks at Harvard, about moral choices. Yesterday a researcher in the study was taking about it on NPR. They mentioned in particular the "trolley" questions. (Since a representative of the study talked about the questions on the radio, I guess I can here.)

The questions go something like this (from my memory, notoriously defective. Note that you have to accept the premise and predicted outcome exactly as stated):

  1. There are five men working on a trolley track. There is a runaway trolley hurtling down the track toward them. The men do not see the trolley coming. If the trolley hits them, they will all be killed. You are standing near a lever that will switch the trolley to a different track, where only one man is working. If you pull the lever, that one man will be hit and killed, but the other five will be saved. Do you pull the lever?

  2. There are five men working on a trolley track. There is a runaway trolley hurtling down the track toward them. The men do not see the trolley coming. If the trolley hits them, they will all be killed. You are standing on an elevated walkway over the tracks. There is a very large man, a stranger, standing on the walkway next to you. If you give him a very small push, he will fall to the tracks and be killed by the trolley, but he will derail the trolley and the other five will be saved. Do you push him?

The guy on the radio said that almost everyone answered these two question the same way, regardless of age, gender, nationality, or religion. Something like 80ish% answered "No" to the second question. I'm pretty certain he said that everyone answered "Yes" to the first. I'm pretty certain of that, because it surprised me.

I took the test in May. Very recently I was directly invited by Harvard to take it again. I did. The researcher's statement that everyone said "Yes" to the first question surprised me because I twice answered "No" to both questions.

So either they threw out answers they didn't like, or he is inaccurate when he said "everyone". (Perhaps 99.9999% is "everyone"?)

The researchers did brain scans on some people answering the questions. They noted that even though those two particular questions seem very similar, different areas of the brain lit up when people considered them. The theory of the researchers is that pushing the man is seen as murder, and that there is an inborn human resistance to murder, so as soon as the mind recognizes it as murder, the decision is shunted to the "no no no" part of the brain.

He kinda lost me there. Pulling a lever to send a trolley into a man is not murder? Isn't it the same as pulling a trigger? Or pushing someone in front of a train? If there's an inborn resistance to murder even to save others, where do wars come from? How do you make a soldier?

I'm sorry, but it occurs to me that some people may have felt a bit guilty about their first answer, and backed off on the second to say "Oh, now, I'm not THAT bad!" There was probably also a reluctance to actually touch the man in the second question. Touching him is to know him to some degree.

It sounds to me like the researchers started out with a theory and then set out to prove it.


So, what was my thinking when I answered "No"? Simple, really. Knowing nothing about any of them, I don't think I have the right to decide that those five men are more valuable than that one man. And that's pretty much all that went into my decision. Mere numbers don't mean a lot to me. There's a measure of acceptance of fate in there, too. What is to happen, will. There is purpose in everything. I might even have a sudden overwhelming urge to pull the lever, figuring that if I weren't meant to, it would break.


Later edit - An article about the moral questions is at See the box on the third page down. The statements made in the box are different from what I remember of the NPR interview. Perhaps he was trying to simplify, and make it sound more interesting.

1369 Raining

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I picked up my new sunglasses today. I love them! The distance vision seems much sharper on these than my regular glasses. The old lenses were too dark brown, so I asked that these be a half-shade lighter, and they are now quite comfortable indoors. I am pleased.

I hadn't brought in the new television sets last night, so when I got home from the mall today I opened the trunk, brought the first one in, and got it all set up. Lots of things I didn't realize. First, I am getting both analog and digital signal on my rooftop antenna. Second, Every one of the six channels I get has at least three incarnations (???), and at least one of each of the three has different programming than on the "regular" channel. I don't understand how that works.

I was standing there admiring my new choices when I heard a crowd applauding in my front yard. It took a second to recognize it as a sudden downpour, and another second to remember that the trunk was open, with the other TV sitting there. It was raining so hard the water was pouring over the sides of the roof gutters. I got soaked running out to get the second TV, and now the Aerio's trunk is full of water.

The local wildlife is doing well. The doe who raises her fawns in my side yard has twins this year, and the three of them are often in my front yard in the morning and evening. There are rabbits all over the place, I see at least five in the yard and eight more on the side of the road every time I head out. This morning when I went down for the mail, there was a wild turkey hen next to my mailbox. She seemed reluctant to move, and then I saw why - she had at least fifteen chicks pecking in the taller weeds next to the road. I can't imagine that they were all hers. Do turkeys do "day care" babysitting like some other animals?

It's still pouring out there, thunder and lightning and all. I absolutely have to take the garbage down to the end of the driveway this evening (I don't produce much - I take it down about every third week), but it's sounding like this rain is settling in for a while. I don't like to walk down the drive after dark. There's too much other wildlife, the kind with fangs and venom, and big grumpy growly things, and the driveway runs close to the woods.

1368 Irony

This post is dedicated to all ex-employees of The Company who got "riffed" in the 90's, and ended up coming back as contractors (at a higher salary, but with no benefits).


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

1367 Sunglasses; TVs

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Since my prescription has changed, I need new sunglasses. I always get bifocal sunglasses, so I can see both the road and the dashboard when driving. I've been putting it off because the current fashion in frames (weasel gasses) are in my opinion too narrow for sunglasses - sunglasses should provide wide coverage.

This morning I looked at my old pair, and decided it should be possible to put new lenses in the old frames. They're plastic "Jackie O" style, and in pretty good condition, considering that they're fifteen years old.

So, off to the mall, to Lens Crafters. They have my prescription on file, and they're supposed to be able to do them in an hour, right?

They were "backed up". It was going to take 90 minutes. AND cost $200 for the lenses alone, WITH my AAA 15% discount!

Then I went to Best Buy and bought two small (very small) flat-screen High Definition TVs. The set in the bedroom died last week (guns gone), and the kitchen set went this morning (overheating, shuts itself off within seconds), so it's time. Then I walked for the next hour, three circuits of the mall.

When I got back to Lens Crafters, I could see a drama pantomimed through the window into the lab. An older guy was holding up a lens blank, stabbing lines on it with his finger, and shaking his head. The younger guy looked very unhappy. The older one came out and asked me my name, and when I told him, he said "I was afraid of that." That was my lens he'd been shaking his head over.

Everybody always has difficulty with my prescription, and I don't know why. There's nothing special about it, that I know of. But there's something about the rotational angle that the finished lens has to sit in the frame, and if it's slightly off, the prescription is wrong, and I understand that, but they seem to have difficulty getting that angle right. When I walked in, they were on their fourth ruined blank.

So, my sunglasses won't be done until tomorrow. I'll have to go back across the river tomorrow, and I really had other plans.

Monday, July 09, 2007

1366 Hell

Monday, July 9, 2007

[Edit - I added some comment below. AND - I forgot. This is AOL video. If you're reading this on a feed, you'll have to click on the post title above to see the video. Clicking on the link below is useless, and I have no confidence in AOL's keeping it up for more than a day or two. So don't delay. Sheesh. Ask me again why I left AOL.]

Ok, I apologize. I've got to stop posting so many times a day! But I keep finding stuff I want to keep.

This sounds interesting. I'll be watching or recording Friday night. This guy makes sense on one of the reasons I've rejected formal organized religion. I just hope the network sticks to people like him, who have studied and thought. No whackos, please.

[I removed the video because every time anyone entered this journal, the browser took them directly to this point, I assume because the code provided by AOL made it an embedded page. To see the video, click here.]


I got an email response to this already, an AOLer who is upset that I would promulgate "such garbage".

Ideas for intellectual discussion are not per se a bad thing. Ideas can become bad when they are used to threaten or coerce.

Where one falls on the religious spectrum will determine the reaction to speculation on the existence of Hell. Some will be horrified by the apostacy (the reverend's congregation? the AOLer?), others will be looking for vindication. I think most will simply find it water cooler fodder, with very little effect on what they already believe.

Just for the record, I do believe that everyone has a soul. The mind and body is merely a tool for the soul. The soul enters at birth and leaves at death. But I don't believe in Hell, or Purgatory, or the usual concept of Heaven. My beliefs are quite different.

Here's a question - is the soul simply your mind? If it's something separate, if it enters and leaves, what does it do while it's here? Is it really just sitting there, twiddling its thumbs and tapping its foot? I believe that if you listen, your soul will talk to you. It knows, and if you listen, it will tell you. You don't need someone outside to tell you.

1365 Real Men Don't

Monday, July 9, 2007

An "Everyone Loves Raymond" rerun is on, and they're making fun of psychotherapy, and how real men don't need it. The men end up talking with each other more.

I had a discussion with a friend a few days ago. He knows that some parts of his life just aren't working. He thinks it's just that he's got high standards, that he's too much of a perfectionist. I think his problem is that he simply won't let the little things go. He has too much stored up anger. He won't allow, won't forgive, failings in other people, and won't talk with them about it. He said that counselling is out of the question, "My whole family would think I'm nuts."

I can't say anything to him. It wouldn't be received well. I can only listen. But it frustrates me, because I see what he could be without the interference of his suppressed anger.

I ran into that attitude with Ex#1. His entire social set, family, friends, coworkers, were of the opinion that any male who admitted to any kind of emotional therapy was a weakling. They snorted. A real man copes. He's not even allow to admit to a problem. They wouldn't even consider marriage counselling. "Got a problem? Have another beer. Got a problem with her? Give her another beer."

One of his drunken friends was bragging one evening that he'd never been to any kind of therapist, never would, didn't need it. I responded, "That's like a man with a mouth full of rotten teeth bragging that he'd never been to a dentist." But that was in front of each other. I had many private conversations with some of Ex#1's male friends and family members that pretty much turned into therapy sessions. They knew they had broken pieces and hurting places. They just couldn't admit it and remain macho.

Churches contributed to the problem, especially the Catholic Church. They preferred that you talk to the priest or pastor, who counselled you to submit. Self-understanding was definitely not in a hierarchical paternalistic Church's best interest.

It seems like these days getting help is a lot more socially acceptable, at least in the circle I move in now, but a lot harder to get. Medical insurance doesn't want to pay for it, or they limit it. Psychiatrists have pretty much turned into pill dispensers. Psychologists and other varieties of therapists seem to each have a particular school of thought, and they will cram you into the pattern, whether you fit or not.

Jay's therapist had an "inner child" theory. He was quite happy with her, figured that his lack of progress was his fault, not hers. It took rigorous testing in connection with his brain surgery to discover he was Aspie. He was way out of his therapist's league, and she didn't have broad enough training to recognize it.

So someone who says yes, I need to examine this and fix it, can waste a lot of time and money before they find someone, something, that works. A lotta quicksand out there. Sink right in. Maybe the insurance companies are right. Maybe it's easier and cheaper to put the world on Prozac (or whatever is popular now...).

I lucked out. I got me a Jungian talk therapy psychiatrist who simply asked questions ("And why is that, do you think?"), at a time when The Company's insurance plan covered it fully, with no limits. He was exactly right for me, at exactly the right time in my life. He taught me skills that have served me well for the past 26 years (when I disengage enough to use them, that is).

I am grateful. I wish my friend had had the same opportunity. I can see what he could be.

1364 Optical Illusions

Monday, July 9, 2007

Some people are like Slinkies ... not really good for anything, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.


Found this in my old journal:
Sometimes you can't really know what someone is saying to you. You hear the words, but sometimes the words carry a meaning different from their dictionary definition. If you have no other basis for interpretation, you interpret from your own base.

In an intimate relationship, the only way to fully understand the other person's messages, or lack thereof, is to understand their motivations, how their mind works. If you don't understand that, you don't have an intimate relationship. You're just skimming along the surface.


These arrived from my sister. (Ignore the typos - they came as part of the package.) The second one is especially interesting. I don't know why what happens after you blink happens. More, I can't help wondering HOW someone created it. How do you go about drawing a design that gets that result? Yeah, it's a negative, but usually you can tell what a negative is.


Follow the instructions exactly. For the longest-lasting effect, take the full 30 seconds.

Later edit - I realized that with IrfanView I can make a negative of this. I did, and the negative, with a little unfocusing of the eyes, is exactly what you see on the wall. They want you to blink to unfocus. That's why it takes shape only after you blink (unless you already know what to expect). So, it's drawn black on white, then "negativized" for the illusion.

1363 A Story

Monday, July 9, 2007

I found this on a website I while looking for the Silken Drum story. This is different from the classic story, and was unattributed (so I don't feel bad copying it), and I like it better.


A mighty warlord, realizing that he was nearing the end of his days, urged his daughter to marry in order to carry on the dynasty.

"The green of the plum tree has come and gone, and it is the time of the blossoms." he told her, "And yet you do not blossom. Will I die without seeing you married, without knowing my grandchildren?"

"No," his daughter said, "I will fashion a drum of silk, stretched over a bamboo frame. The man who hears the music when my fingers strike the drum I will marry."

"Foolishness!" the aging warlord said in frustration. "A silken drum will not make any sound. I shall die without heirs."

But his daughter had her way, and so a drum made of silk was fashioned as she wished.

Many young men came to listen as she played, but none heard any sound.

The months and seasons passed, the plum tree blossoms withered and fell to the ground. And then a handsome young man, finely dressed, came and paid his respects to the aging ruler.

"I have traveled from beyond the mountains and over the seas to ask your daughter's hand in marriage", said the stranger, looking directly at the silent daughter who sat nearby with her silken drum.

"She will only marry the one who can hear the music of her silken drum," sighed the old man. "Don't tell me you heard the sound all the way from your distant kingdom!"

The suitor said, "No, no sound of the drum reached my ears."

"Then be on your way, like the others before you," the old man said. "Why do you linger here?"

"Because, my lord, I hear the silence."

And the young woman smiled and put away her silken drum.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

1362 New Blog Controls

Sunday, July 8, 2007

I decided to try creating a new journal under Blogger, and I discovered a bunch of new controls. AOL, where I started, allowed you to make a journal private, open only to people you specifically allow in. When I switched to Blogger, Blogger didn't have that facility. It was open to the world, period.

It now has privacy controls!

If you go to "settings", on the far right you'll find a "Permissions" tab. You can close your blog to everyone, or allow only certain people in. So you can make it private with "Permissions", and under other settings you can remove it from blogrolls, notices, and feeds. You can make it not show up in your profile. Whoop! Completely hidden!

Of course, what I really want to do is to have it open to strangers and closed to friends, for reasons I've outlined before, but that's not how the permissions work. What I want is impossible, since anyone can create a new email id any time, and become a virtual stranger. Well, half a loaf....

So I decided to start a new blog, open only to me, where I can blast people by name if I want to.

Easier said than done.

Can't get a title. Seems like every possible combination of letters that spells real words is taken! The names I really wanted were already taken, and when I went to the blogs that took those names, almost all of them had ONE post, in 2005, and none since.

Shesh, folks. If you built a blog just to try it out, and have no intention to maintain it, delete it! Give back the name! Let somebody else have it.

I ended up with a name that I just now realized that I'd better write down, because I'm already on the verge of forgetting it.

1361 Tongue Studs

Sunday, July 8, 2007

I just read that more than half of Americans between 20 and 35 have at least one tattoo or piercing other than ears. That surprised me.

I can understand some piercings, like in the side of the nose. I couldn't understand why anyone would want their tongue pierced, though.

Back when I was mediating, I asked one of the family court girls who had a stud in her tongue why she did it. Seems like it would be annoying. She slid her eyes sideways to her friends and said, "Becauth I like to thuck it." Her friends cracked up.

That was 10 years ago, and I just found out what tongue studs are "good for", and why her friends laughed.

I can't believe I was so naive!

Please, please tell me it's not true! Convince me there's another advantage to them!

But I guess it explains why guys find them fascinating. Effective advertising.

1360 Avoiding 2

Sunday, July 8, 2007

[Edit - eliminated the problem. The cat can kick dirt over the poopy, but it still smells. Which reminds me - gotta clean the litter box....]

On Friday I bemoaned the fact that this journal no longer serves its original purpose. I thought maybe it had something to do with the fact that people who know me are now reading it. Bec's comment has merit, but that addresses the arrows toward me. They don't bother me. She's correct that I am not very concerned about what others think of me. If I am me, and honest, and they don't like it, then why would I want them close to me anyway?


Scott Adams had a post today about "Rounders" versus "Accumulators". He says that some people round things off, and some add them up. So if a Rounder has five problems in his life, each of which is a 2 on a scale of 10, then each gets rounded to 0, and if you ask how things are going, he'll say "just fine", because that's how he sees it. Whereas the Accumulator with five 2-rated problems adds them up, and sees himself as having a 10 in problems.

I am usually a Rounder.

This weekend, I am in physical pain. It makes me think of things like undetected tumors, and how long it's been since I had a physical, and diabetes, and death, and what a mess my house is, and how a couple of people are trying to guilt me into things I don't want to do, directions I don't want to go, and how another person has twice made a specific commitment to me and has twice blown it off without a word, smiled and turned away, and another runs hot and cold, and how I may have to fire The Hunk and get a landscaping company in, he's just taking too long to get the side yard done, but The Hunk is a neighbor, and can I do that, what if he gets mad, I depend on him too much, he was hurt when I gave someone else the roofing job, but just how long do I have to wait for my side yard, and so on and on. There's a lot of that kind of 2-rated annoyance going on.

Sometimes, I become a temporary Accumulator.

1359 I Do Too Hate L0tus

Sunday, July 8, 2007

I friend has said that I can't say I hate Lotus. Lotus is a large library of applications and tools.

Sorry, but I can too say I hate Lotus! I can say anything I want. You are free to disagree.

I am willing to admit that what I really hate is the way the membership data base is set up at the museum. I mean, there are some incredible stupidities. For example, every record has a sequence number. When you create a new record, you have to ASSIGN a sequence number to it. It was not set up to automatically assign the next available number.

In the past, numbers must have been skipped, because there are, say, 2345 records, but the highest sequence number currently in use is 3456. You have to write down numbers as you use them, so you'll know what's the next available number. The first time I created a new record, it took me like 10 tries (hashing) to find the next number. Now I keep a list, but the first time someone else creates a record and picks a high number out of the air, I may be lost again.

My friend said I should be able to list the full database, and then just look at the list to see what the highest number is.

Nope. With the "cuts" and "tabs" we've got, there's no easy way to be sure you obtain the entire data base. It consists of mailing list, paid members, supporters, and advertisers, and all the "cuts" get you some combination of subsets, but not necessarily all.

Also, it's impossible to delete a record. You can't even blank out fields to take it effectively "off the lists", because then you get the error message that "xxx must not be blank", or "xxx must be a valid date". When I find the occasional duplicate record, I write down the sequence number, and then when I create the next new record, I just overwrite the fields in this record with the new information.

I'm sure there's some way to find the last record, and to delete records, there has to be, but I don't know it, and nobody else in the museum does either, and I'm not about to spend my own unpaid time! finding out.