Saturday, July 21, 2007
The center photo shows the "sheep".
The last photo shows the arch of the tent through which you can see the outside.
I saw something rather interesting on the news last night. A reporter was in the storage room of a bookstore. He pointed at sealed boxes containing the new Harry Potter book, with date warnings all over them. The sellers are not allowed to open the boxes until midnight.
Then the reporter reached to a shelf, and picked up an un-boxed copy of the audio version. No fancy protection there. Then he picked up (horrors!) a BOOK! A regular copy of the book. He flipped the pages and everything. Even peeked at the ending! How did this book escape the sealed box?
It was a library edition. They have stronger spines. No explanation as to why it wasn't protected like the others.
Don't those sealed cartons seem even sillier, now?
A friend asked why so many people are so anxious to get the first copies as soon as they're released. She wonders why it's so important to be first.
I can answer that. Anyone who has walked around at work the day after an important sporting event with their fingers in their ears, because they'd recorded it and hadn't watched it yet, will understand. Knowing the ending ahead of time will spoil the story. They want it fresh.
So, I understand the Potter campers, although it's not something I would do.
What I DON'T understand is the people who camped out for the iPhone. Now THAT's just plain stupid.
Of course I had plans for Friday. I needed to see Piper, and to go to the bank, then to Phonecia (quite a long drive) because a store there was going to try to find or special-order a certain gift for me, and they were to call me last week about it. They didn't, and of course I don't know the name of the store to call them. So I have to go. And I had a slip from the post office that I had to come in a pick up a package. Then I wanted to put together the stuff to go to the recycle center this morning, and water houseplants before they all die.
I didn't get any of it done. Instead, I got six phone calls, a few of them very long (including one very satisfying hour+ late afternoon call from Daughter in which we really talked about relationships and stuff without any rancor at all). The first call was from Piper, about our getting together, and the third was from Piper saying that there was a family crisis and he was leaving his office for the day, so it was easy to write off going to the bank, too. And I can always go to Phonecia today or tomorrow. Sigh. After the phone calls, I had some online research to do and some emails to write, and then I fell into the internet trap and forgot all about the recycle stuff and the plants.
So I was left with great and ambitious plans for today.
I wanted to get up early and get the recycle together (lots of cardboard to be cut up, stacked, and tied), because the center is open only until 1 pm. At 11 am, the phone rang and woke me. So much for getting up early. I guess it helps if one remembers to set the alarm. It was Piper, saying he was in the office today. I was there within 20 minutes, dressed and toothbrushed, but sans shower or makeup. By the time we finished business, it was a few minutes to noon, so there was no point in trying for the bank. We had a small lunch, then I did make it to the post office, where I picked up an eBay win (an estate sale, mine was the only bid - 100 inches of individually knotted 8mm naturally pink cultured pearls, for less than $22 including shipping. Heavy! I may have to have it broken up into three necklaces.)
By the time I would get home and properly cleaned up and presentable, it would be too late to go to Phoenicia - the store closes at 5, but the person I need to speak to leaves earlier. And I wonder why I never get anything done. I remember when I was a single mother with a more-than-full-time job. Or when Jay was sick, and I accomplished so much in so little free time (except, of course, all the plants died) . I don't understand. I guess it's kinda like programming - "code expands to fill all available storage". Don't ask me to explain how that applies. Somehow, in my mind, it does.
Daughter and Hercules have captured another kitten, a sister of kitten Titus. Titus was difficult and time-consuming to tame, but Daughter says this one, a female, and of course older now, was purring and stretching her neck out for tentative petting right away. I wondered if the presence of her brother may have reassured her, but Daughter says he spits and growls at her, so she doesn't think so.
Have you ever wondered what it looks like inside the Large Hadron Collider at CERN? Go to http://petermccready.com/portfolio/05091901.html. Don't forget to look left and right, up and down. There are eight photos, click on the right arrow. I knew someone who had worked there, and he said that the workers get around on bicycles, so I was amused to see some bikes.
If you've considered costuming your dog for Halloween, or just to get attention on the street, here's an idea: http://www.scaryideas.com/print/2889/. With some adaptation, it could work for a person, too, but where do you get a rubber crocodile?
I went to Amazon.com last night and tried to buy Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" CD. The average price, new or used, was $54.77. Ack! It's a simple single CD. Why the high price? Gee, at that price there must be enormous demand, so you'd think they'd reissue it. I ended up getting "St Elsewhere" instead.
I read somewhere that left-handed people on average are faster touch-typists than right-handed people. In my experience they're generally better lovers ... oops, off topic. Um, oh yeah. At first I could see some sense there, because the spatial centers are on the right side of the brain, and the right hand is controlled by the left side, so a right-hander has a delay coordinating the hand and spatial sense that the left-hander doesn't.
But! On second thought, that doesn't hold up as an advantage in typing because BOTH hands are employed. Unless the left hand does more work?
Everyone needs to hear this. Its the other side of the story.
For more, go to YouTube, and search on "Dahlia Wasfi". I hear, understand, and agree with much of what she says - but - how do we fix it? Having created this mess, can we just drop it and walk away?
Want protection from terrorists? I like Scott Adams's solution, http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/the_dilbert_blog/2007/06/my_newest_impra.html. It makes perfect sense, the RIGHT thing to do, the way I want us to be. If you believe in God, as our administration claims to, doesn't this sound it what He would want?
Pass it on.
Friday, July 20, 2007
I won't be able to log Friday today. I just started a silent migraine, and in a few minutes, and for the next perhaps hour, I won't be able to see any detail - and I'm not a touch typist, so that's awkward.
No sympathy - there's no pain with an silent migraine, just a dull ache behind the right eye.
Catching up on the diary entries. Thursday I attempted to visit Piper, to give him the stock sales check, but he wasn't in his office. I did some minor household shopping, and not much of anything else.
In the evening I went to the Third Thursday dinner. Last month it was just Roman and me. Last night we had a decent group - a new guy named John, The Ditz, Tom and his new wife, Roman and me. Not a crowd, but better than two.
We had warned FW that The Ditz would be there, in case she was planning to attend. The Ditz really surprised me last night. She was reasonable and rational, didn't say anything outrageous or stupid involving ethnic groups or bombs or horoscopes, and didn't mention Roman's girlfriend at all. She usually makes sure she mentions her at least once whenever she sees me and Roman in the same place. As far as I know, she doesn't yet know that they have broken up. Odd. Roman and I called it quits a over year ago, but she continued to take it upon herself to pick at the scab for the whole past year, so I have to wonder why not last night.
The horoscope thing was especially significant, because Tom was there. Tom reacts violently to any suggestion of belief in any superstition. This being a Chinese buffet, the placemats have the Chinese zodiac, and she ALWAYS asks everyone at the table what their symbol is, and Tom always gets mad - doubly so because she doesn't seem to recall having asked him a dozen times before, and doesn't remember his violent reaction every time. She didn't study the placemat last night. Didn't even look at it. Mostly she talked about her vacation on the Delta Queen, from New Orleans to St. Louis in 10 days, and about investments. She sounded sane.
Now I have to wonder how much of her ditziness is fake.
When I got home I watched a show I'd recorded while I was out (ok, Big Brother, if you must know, shut up - it was DVD-setting practice!), and went to bed at a decent hour.
I haven't been keeping up the diary function the past few days. I've been filling the ether with trivia, the "I'm alive and relatively rational" function. Usually when I do that it's because I am avoiding addressing some issue, but that isn't the case here. I just haven't taken the time.
I have to go all the way back to Wednesday, and I'm already forgetting what may have happened Wednesday morning and afternoon. Nothing noteworthy, apparently....
Wednesday evening was Shakespeare, "As You Like It", at Boscobel. Boscobel is a 200-year-old mansion on the Hudson River, across from West Point. Every summer the grounds host the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. The performances are held in a huge turreted tent (here - scroll down a bit, photo on the left, also do click to see the video). The dirt-floored stage is in the center of the tent with tiered seating around three sides, and the cast also makes excellent use of the lawn outside the tent. The view of the lawns and the river is framed perfectly by the arch of the tent opening.
FW had set it all up as a Mensa outing back in May, but the only people to respond immediately (and separately) were Roman and me. I think because on the weekends the tickets are very expensive (Mensans are not generally noted for financial success, or if they do have it, they certainly don't like to spend it), and during the week everybody else works. Anyway, FW bought the tickets very early, which distressed me a bit because I had planned to invite a friend from NJ, it would be only an hour's drive for him and entirely possible (though not probable) and worth at least a try, but FW said that seats were assigned, and a later ticket purchase would probably not be near us.
Which would make things extremely awkward if I wanted to sit with my NJ friend.
FW doesn't especially like Roman, which complicates matters, I couldn't abandon them to each other (although on his side there is no animosity, and they are always civil to each other). So I didn't invite my friend. Then, a few days ago, there had been an FW-Roman explosion, soothed over but still remembered, and I wasn't sure whether I wanted to sit between them for the entire evening, being unsure how things would go.
As it turned out, there were several seats open on either side of us, so I could have issued my invitation after all. Me Sad. And the two of them were quite pleasant to each other. Me Happy.
The original plan had been a picnic on the grounds 2 hours before "curtain" (there being no actual curtain), but it had rained earlier in the day and looked like it might rain more, so the picnic was cancelled. So Roman and I met for dinner in Poughkeepsie, and then headed to Cold Spring. We got there early, so we were able to visit the gardens and marvel at the river view before FW joined us and we went to the tent.
Roman had warned me that although the actors adhere strictly to the bard's words, stage directions, props, and costumes might be from an entirely different era.
They did "As You Like It" as a western.
Imagine Shakespearean English in a Western drawl.
Archery and sword fights were accomplished using rifles, knives, and pistols. People thundered up riding Monty Python horses. The shepherdess's sheep were actors on hands and knees with mops on their heads.
It was fun. I enjoyed it.
It didn't rain, but it was so damp that when I took my jacket off the back of the seat, it felt like it needed wringing out. By the end of the play, fog had moved in, so that as the actors went out onto the lawn to exit, they disappeared. My hair, pulled into a pony tail, was a mass of fuzz, standing out three inches from my scalp even where it was pulled back.
As I drove home up the river, the fog got thicker, and just about when I was starting to worry, six miles from home, the fog suddenly stopped, like a line had been drawn across the road. At my driveway, it was perfectly clear.
Dark. The trees around the house were full of fireflies, more than I usually see. They looked like tiny Christmas lights. When I looked up higher, the sky was full of stars, the Milky Way was broad and dense. As I was looking up, a meteorite crossed the sky below the Milky Way. I waited, and there was another.
I have to say it was a good evening. I just wish there hadn't been those empty seats to remind me of what I missed.
Yesterday I noticed many of the blogs I follow through Bloglines.com had 20-30 "updates" rather than the usual 0-4. That happens every once in a while. Don't know why. Today, this diary was showing 20 "new posts" in Bloglines.
Not me. I didn't do that. Bloglines has a tummy ache.
I notice that Blogger is adding blank lines between paragraphs, even in OLD posts in other blogs.
Not me. I didn't do that, either.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
TOILET CLEANING INSTRUCTIONS:
- Put both lids of the toilet up and add 1/8 cup of pet shampoo to the water in the bowl.
- Pick up the cat and soothe him while you carry him towards the bathroom.
- In one smooth movement, put the cat in the toilet and close both lids. You may need to stand on the lid.
- The cat will self agitate and make ample suds. Never mind the noises that come from the toilet, the cat is actually enjoying this.
- Flush the toilet three or four times. This provides a "power-wash and rinse."
- Have someone open the front door of your home. Be sure that there are no people between the bathroom and the front door.
- Stand behind the toilet as far as you can, and quickly lift both lids.
- The cat will rocket out of the toilet, streak through the bathroom, and run outside where he will dry himself off.
- Both the commode and the cat will be sparkling clean.
Repeating here a comment I made on an acquaintance's journal, just because sometimes I have to remind myself:
First you have to figure out who you are.
Then you have to like who you are.
Then you have to be who you are.
That's where strength comes from, and all else follows.
Took me a long time to learn that.
Looking at my CD collection, it appears that my tastes run to folk, bluegrass, classical, and gentle oldies. I have very little true rock (beyond the Stones and Jimi), especially nothing from the past two decades. That's partly because if what I hear from the "musical guests" on late night TV talk shows is at all representative, there's no MUSIC there. It's all noise and no talent.
On the other hand, Daughter accuses me of being a nascent Deadhead, because every time I've heard anything from the Grateful Dead, I've said "Oooo, I like that." I'm definitely a fan of Mickey Hart.
I've avoided Black Sabbath just because of their name I suppose, even though several people have told me I'd like them. Then I found this: [Video. If you're coming in on a feed and don't see it, click on the post title.]
Ok, yeah, there's talent there. They're not for sitting listening, though. I have to be up and moving for them.
I guess the old dog can still learn new tricks.
[Oops - just noticed the DATE! Still nothing from the past few decades....]
I guess some people might think it's ASH-o-can or ash-o-CAN.
It's actually pronounced ah-SHOW-kn. To rhyme with "I've spoken."
It may help you to know that there's a hamlet called "Shokan" (SHO-kan).
Happy search hits.
(In case you're wondering about why I'm sure of the pronunciation, my country house is about 15 miles from the Ashokan Reservoir, I have been to many events at the Ashokan Field Campus - the local Mensa group used to have their annual fall gathering there - and I am slightly acquainted with Jay and Molly, who wrote "Ashokan Farewell" back when Jay thought that the Field Campus was going to be sold.)
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
The little boy was walking down a path and he came across a rattlesnake. The rattlesnake was getting old.
He asked, "Please little boy, can you take me to the top of the mountain? I hope to see the sunset one last time before I die."
The little boy answered "No Mr. Rattlesnake. If I pick you up, you'll bite me and I'll die."
The rattlesnake said, "No, I promise. I won't bite you. Just please take me up to the mountain."
The little boy thought about it and finally picked up that rattlesnake and took it close to his chest and carried it up to the top of the mountain. They sat there and watched the sunset together. It was so beautiful.
Then after sunset the rattlesnake turned to the little boy and asked, "Can I go home now? I am tired, and I am old."
The little boy picked up the rattlesnake and again took it to his chest and held it tightly and safely. He came all the way down the mountain holding the snake carefully and took it to his home to give him some food and a place to sleep.
The next day the rattlesnake turned to the boy and asked, "Please little boy, will you take me back to my home now? It is time for me to leave this world, and I would like to be at my home now."
The little boy felt he had been safe all this time and the snake had kept his word, so he would take it home as asked. He carefully picked up the snake, took it close to his chest, and carried him back to the woods, to his home to die.
Just before he laid the rattlesnake down, the rattlesnake turned and bit him in the chest. The little boy cried out and threw the snake upon the ground. "Mr. Snake, why did you do that? Now I will surely die!"
The rattlesnake looked up at him and grinned, "You knew what I was when you picked me up."
My mother had a saying. "You can adopt a dog, and take it into your life, and feed it, and care for it, and love it, but then if it bites you, how many times will you allow it to bite you before you get rid of it?"
I am so overwhelmed by what it would take to get this house company-ready. Seriously. A few months ago I came in second in an international messy computer room contest. And that was only because I didn't have a very good photo. (Mine is the fourth photo down, here.) It's worse now.
The only way to get past overwhelmed is to DO something, anything. Even the tiniest bit of progress is something done, a step forward.
Today I sorted paper in the kitchen. I promised myself three months ago, last time I sorted paper, that when a newspaper or magazine arrived, I would throw out the previous issue, whether I'd read it or not.
I didn't. From the mess of paper, I now have a neat 2-foot stack of unread magazines I'm reluctant to throw out, and six weeks of unread daily newspapers.
I did throw out all the catalogs.
Well, a step forward. Let's see if I can prevent a backslide before I get the next bit done.
Jack's Shack (Hmmm - wonder if he's aware that term has a meaning on "Big Brother"?) over at "Random thoughts- Do they have meaning?" has a recent post on teaching his son to piddle standing up. The post kicked off comments on whether men always have to stand to urinate. Some people think sitting is ok. Others think that a man who sits, ever, isn't a man at all. There seems to be a lot of emotion on the subject.
Jay was all man. He was 6'3" tall, and 240 lbs, mostly bone and muscle. His habits and mode of thought were so male I used to tease him about it. He reeked of testosterone. I was surprised to find that at home, he sat.
I asked why, and he said that "a toilet is not a urinal. It's too low. It would make more sense to use the sink." If a real urinal, or tree, or anything else was available, he'd happily use that, of course, but he saw standing in front of a toilet as asking for trouble. Having had a few husbands and visiting males over the past 40 years, I saw his point, and was grateful.
It isn't whether you stand or sit that makes you a man. It's completely irrelevant. Sitting when there's only a toilet doesn't unman you. It makes you a considerate man. In my opinion, consideration makes a man much more desirable than any macho posturing. If standing is required to make you feel manly, you aren't very confident in your masculinity.
Why aren't home urinals common? They'd make a lot of sense. Is it because most plumbers are male, and they don't have to clean up after themselves?
[Note - if there are any males reading this who are candidates for using a toilet I am expected to clean, who do not intend to sit, well, that's ok. I accept that choice. There are other ways to be considerate. It evens out...]
This reminds me of a story.
A new building was built, and our product area moved into it. All the guys were annoyed about the urinals in the men's rooms - they were apparently set very low. "I feel like I'm back in grade school!" It so happened that the product manager was a very short man.
A few months after the move into the building, we got a new product manager. He was exceptionally tall, and a few days after he arrived, all the urinals were replaced with higher ones. There may or may not have been a connection.
He lasted a short time, and then was replaced by May, whom I have mentioned a few times in this journal. She was introduced in an all-hands meeting, and when she took the podium, she floored the whole group with, "Don't worry, guys. The urinals are staying."
Monday, July 16, 2007
When I get annoyed or upset, I get in the car and drive. Anywhere. Back roads through farmland and woods. I try to get lost and then find my way back. I listen to NPR if it's interesting, look at the scenery, and lose myself for a while. Driving is relaxing, and I find that it helps to clear my thinking.
This evening I went to the deli and picked up a bottle of iced tea, and then went for an impromptu ride, no purse, no money, no id, no phone, no nothin', and I quickly felt a little better.
The news was on the radio, and there was a conversation about how the internet can affect elections, how you never know who might have a camera when you do something stupid. Like, Mayor Sottile of Kingston. The newspaper has the whole story, and I suppose I'll have to find it and read it, but what they said was that the mayor and the wife of an opposition candidate for DA got into a scuffle in a bar. She threw her drink at him, he threw his drink at her, she hauled off at him with her purse, and so on.
The whole thing was captured on the bar's security camera, and was immediately uploaded to YouTube. You can see it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvNuOLDLddA. I had to watch it twice to locate the protagonists (it's short). They're in the back.
I was amused when the NPR commentator said that although the tape is impartial, it's interesting that every person who sees it has a different opinion of who did what, who started it. Which, she said, illustrates why, when you see something like that, you need an impartial reporter to explain it.
Yeah, sure, ok. Just so we all think the same thing, right? Giggle snort.
Mayor Sottile opened the festivities the day I volunteered at the children's reading program at the library. My thoughts were that he's a big man, with a lot of physical presence. I'd think twice about throwing a drink in his face, even if he did give me an unwelcome pat on the cheek.
When I got home, I was a lot more cheerful than when I left the house.
I'm frustrated about several things right now, from about four different directions. I want to just throw everything up in the air and let it fall where it may. Sometimes things are just too much trouble. Sometimes people are just too much trouble. I'm really tired of people telling me one thing and doing another. Making plans and committing me way earlier than necessary, without telling me before doing it. NOT being willing to make plans and "save the date", and then complaining that the calendar is full. Promising calls or emails and then never delivering. Feeling that I have to be available to family, but NOT share that time with friends. Aaaaagh!
The blank space above represents a paragraph I wrote, deleted, and rewrote four times. I'm just too frustrated to be reasonable.
The moral of this post - never ever tell anyone who knows you about your blog. You can't vent anymore.
I'm not looking forward to Wednesday evening. I'm not looking forward to next weekend. I am not happy.
[Later - rereading the first paragraph, it occurred to me that there are four people who might read it and jump to the conclusion that it's all about them. Remember Carly Simon's "...you probably think this song is about you..."? Well, pieces of it ARE ABOUT ALL OF YOU! SO THERE! Snarl....]
Sunday, July 15, 2007
I watch television more in the den than in the bedroom, so the den's getting the new TV. I removed the dying TV from the bedroom and put it in a corner in the kitchen, beside two other dead TVs. Gotta figure out how to get rid of them.
Then I moved the TV from the den into the bedroom. Not very easy. The den TV is far back on a board that extends from the side of the desk into the corner, with a bookcase to the side, and scanners, printers, telephones, and other stuff piled in front. I had to move a bunch of stuff and climb up on the desk to be able to reach it.
There's about 47 thousand cords under the desk, plugged into several "bars", and working alone, I couldn't figure out which one was the TV power cord. Can't do the "wiggle and watch" bit alone. I finally just unplugged stuff until the TV went off. Six plugs later, I discovered the TV wasn't plugged into a bar - it was plugged directly into the wall BEHIND the desk. I can't easily reach that far.
I managed to get it unplugged with the tips of my fingers, but there's no way I could get enough of a grip to plug the new TV in there. Don't know how I managed it in the first place.
Carried the den TV into the bedroom, got it all hooked up. Easy, except for the weight. It's not big, but it was heavy.
Got the new one out of the box, and installed it in the den. I was surprised at how light it was. It has a larger screen than the old ones, but I could easily lift it with one hand.
Now I have two large boxes and three (one from last fall) dead TVs to dispose of. I understand they make great aquariums, hint hint....
Chris, in his latest post over there at Inane Thoughts & Insane Ramblings, talks about how and whether you can judge the health of a relationship by witnessing the interactions of the couple. (Go to his blog for the discussion, book reference, and quotes.) The following is Chris's words, and he says:
"So when I evaluate a relationship, I look for signs of cherishing and respect. If it is not there, I don't see that relationship lasting. Cherish is the opposite of contempt, one of Gottman's Four Horseman [Gottman is a researcher w/ a 95% success rate in predicting relationship long term success. The 4 dooming signs include contempt, defensiveness, criticism, and stonewalling.].
I guess that makes sense. Cherishing is a positive indicator that is the flip side of Gottman's negative predictor (contempt). After all, you can't cherish someone and hold them in contempt at the same time.... "
This is another one of those things that when you hear it, you say, "Well, yeah. Duh." You feel like you've known it always, and yet, you'd never thought about it before, never put it together so neatly. People never get the credit they should when they speak universal truths. The next day, everyone acts like they've known it forever, not noticing that their way of thinking and acting has changed since the day before.
Chris's post kicked off a new train of thought in me.
Back to Gottman's four dooming signs: contempt, defensiveness, criticism, and stonewalling. I fully agree with that. Absolutely. Every failed relationship I've ever seen, or have been in, has had one or more of those four. By the end, my second marriage had all four on both sides. (We dragged that train wreck out way too long.)
Every successful relationship I've known has had all four of the opposites, which I see as respect, faith/comfort, acceptance, and openness. I had all of those with Jay. Just as you can see dooming signs almost instantly, everyone instantly saw the good signs in us.
The 30s-ish daughter of a friend recently asked her father, essentially, how you can tell when someone is or is not "the right person". He's been divorced three times, and recently ended a 4-5 year relationship. His divorce from the daughter's mother, after 35 years of marriage, was rather nasty, and I think perhaps the daughter is afraid to attempt a relationship, afraid that they all end badly, so why try.
There's a lot of advice out there, much of it of the "similar values, beliefs, background" variety as predictors of a good match. And, yes, that's what was wrong with my first marriage - we were poles apart in the values, beliefs, background areas, BUT! That wasn't the basic problem! The problem was that we didn't have respect or tolerance for each other's values, etc. With respect and acceptance, any difference can actually be a positive factor.
Unfortunately, none of the advice is any good at the beginning of a relationship. When the pheromones and hormones are flying, you don't see the warning signs. You make excuses for the inexcusable. People around you might see it (those dooming signs) and even tell you, but you don't listen, because "they don't know him/her like I do, they don't understand". It's only after the bloody end that you can look back and realize they were right.
About the only advice I can give is to listen to your friends (not family - Daughter disliked Jay until she got to know him, then she disliked the way I treated him. She was too close and had other issues of her own.) Anyway, bring your new romantic interest around your friends. Listen to specific comments they may have, especially as pertain to your interactions with him or her. Even strangers may contribute astute perceptions.
They may not know about the "four dooming signs", but they'll see them anyway if they're there.
Me? I'm not going to settle. I shall insist on respect, faith/comfort, acceptance, and openness. I can't say I'd rather be alone than accept less, but I WANT the whole package.