Saturday, December 08, 2007

1582 Burn

Saturday, December 8, 2007

I planned to clean up the driveway today, in preparation for clearing snow when it happens. Yesterday we got about a half inch, which reminded me that ignoring the possibility of snow is not helpful.

Today it's 43 degrees, not too cold, sunny. There are several heaps of brush on the broad area at the top of the drive, left from when I cut out the blackberries and weeded the "flower bed" (snork), and they'll have to be moved so I can run the snowthrower. Moved to where? I don't know. That's why they're still there. I guess I'm going to have to delegate another burn pile area.

Well, that was the plan.

I was cooking grits in the microwave this morning. The combination microwave and convection oven is installed in a cubby that hangs under the upper kitchen cabinets. Jay and his ex-wife were both tall, and it worked for them, but it's too high for me. I have to stand on a stool to look in.

I didn't stand on the stool this morning to take the bowl of grits out.

It was a shallow bowl, and while it was still above eye level, I guess I tipped it a bit. I spilled boiling water and sticky grits all over my whole left hand. I stared dumbly at it for a moment, then jumped to the sink and ran cold water over it.

It hurt so bad for so long I was afraid I'd really messed myself up, but now it has settled down to just the ends of the first three fingers. The pointer, in fact, is almost normal. Just a little numb. The last joint of the ring finger is still red and alternates between burning and numbness. The last joint and a half of the middle finger is bright red, really nasty looking and it hurts a lot, but with any luck there won't be a blister.

This is an odd thing about my body - it doesn't overreact to burns. I've had things happen that should have resulted in swelling and blistering and weeping, but the worst that ever happens is that the burned area hardens, sometimes pretty deeply, and eventually flakes off, leaving a whiter patch of skin.

Anyway, that's my excuse for not getting the driveway cleared, and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, December 07, 2007

1581 Accent?

Friday, December 7, 2007

One of the things I played with on the new phone last night was "acclimating" it to my voice, so I can do hands-free dialing in the car. The phone would give me a series of letters or numbers that I had to repeat, and then it would repeat them back to me, and ask if it got them right.

ONE of us has a slight ("slat") southern accent! I think it's me. I pronounce "five" as "fav", and "I" as "Ah". And there's a slight tendency toward "Wa" on "Y". I never noticed that before.

1580 Jasper, CASA, Phone

Friday, December 7, 2007

I may have to put childproof latches on all the cabinet doors. Jasper is the first kitty I've ever had who gets into cabinets. He's also the most active, most curious kitty I've ever had, and I've had cats all my life.

Well, there was Smokey - 1958 to 1975. She used to open the back door to let the dog in and out, and if she got hungry, she'd open the refrigerator and sit on a shelf. You'd open the door and find her in there sampling leftovers. But she never got into cabinets.


I'm still getting all kinds of information from CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). Back when I went to the volunteer fair at the mall, and signed up for the stuff I'm involved in now, CASA was one of the things that most interested me. Volunteers are trained, and then assigned by a family court judge to advocate for a child (or siblings) in a bad home situation.

I know a lot of the local judges and lawyers, from having done court mediation, and from having worked (as a volunteer) in a family law office. And I like kids and get along well with them, perhaps because of my size (they trust me) and because I don't preach to them. They tell me I'm "real".

(By the way, I don't agree with the statement on their site, that CASA is "the only volunteer organization that empowers everyday citizens as appointed members of the court." We volunteer mediators were also officers of the court, with all the reporting responsibilities attendant on that office.)

I had discussed it with several of my friends, and they all strongly advised me not to do it. Unfortunately, if a child is in no imminent physical danger, they often have to go back to their parents, even if they are in emotional or psychological danger, because of the rights of the parents, and this can be very difficult to accept. My friends all advised me that I'd get too emotionally involved.

My friends explained that I know I couldn't possibly work at an animal shelter, I'd end up taking home every animal no one else wanted, and CASA could be worse. I'd end up in jail for kidnapping children and hiding them from the court. A basement full of kids.

I think my friends are right. If not actual kidnapping, there might be a lot of stress and sleepness nights.

So when CASA kept trying to schedule me for the training, I wrote them a letter explaining that I had decided it was not a good match for me, and why, and "please take me off the list".

They're still sending me information, and I can't open the envelopes, because every time I do, I want to sign up again.


I went to bed early last night, about midnight, and spent the next two and a half hours propped on my elbows reading the new cell phone's instruction book and trying out all the phone's functions. I can read my email on my cell phone! But I don't know if that costs extra. The next bill will be interesting.

1579 The Best Free Porn Site!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

1578 Traffic

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I haven't the faintest idea what has happened to today. It's 8:15 pm, I'm already tired, and I have done NOTHING all day. I think maybe it has something to do with the weather. It's almost 10 degrees below freezing outside, and although my house is reasonably tight, I feel cold. The thermostat says it's 74 in here. How can I be cold? I don't understand.

Speaking of not understanding, something is going on with other drivers lately that I don't understand.

I mentioned to a friend a few days ago that I've noticed lately that if I am on a multi-lane highway, and decide to change lanes, and there's a decent space in the lane I want to move into, and traffic in both lanes seems to be maintaining position (ideal for changing lanes), the very instant that I put my signal on to indicate the lane change, the car behind me in the target lane speeds up!, closing up the space.

Why? We could go on in the same positions for miles, but the minute I want to move into that lane, the other person speeds up. Is it a game? Is it "Oh no you don't - you can't get in front of me!" Or maybe they speed up when they see the signal because they hope I'll turn into them and buy them a new car? I don't understand.

So anyway, after I had mentioned it, my friend started noticing it too. So it's not just my perception, and not just people reacting to my little car. It really is happening a lot more.

Driving to dinner last night (1.5 hour drive), I noticed other strangenesses. I was heading down route 9w, during rush hour. People weren't paying attention to the speed limit, but not in the way one would expect. There's a section north of Highland with two south-bound lanes. The speed limit is 55, but there were two people, one in each lane, about two car-lengths apart, who were doing 45. Everyone behind them who wanted to do 55 had to pass one on the right, then squeeze back to the left to get past the second. And the guy potting along in the left lane never seemed to notice.

So when we finally got past them, and the long line of cars was doing 55, we came to a car on the right that had been pulled over by the police, nothing interesting, just an ordinary stop with plenty of room, and amazingly, everyone slowed down to 45, and then stayed at 45! Wha...? I don't understand. I didn't understand slowing down, and I don't understand staying slow.

From Highland south, the speed limit is mostly 55, with a few 40 or 45 patches through hamlets, and one 30 mph section where the village cop's radar gun is on hair-trigger. We stayed at 45 the entire way to Newburgh, even through the 30 mph section. I don't understand.

(Yeah, I did 45 through the 30, too, but it was because there was a long line of cars ahead of and behind me, and if I'd slowed down, twenty cars would have climbed into my trunk.)

Another thing I noticed was that when we stopped at a traffic light, and the line of stopped cars extended to cross another intersection, people blithely blocked the intersection, so that oncoming cars could not make a left turn into the side road. That stopped traffic on the other side, too. How stupid is that? Do they really not notice? Is everyone completely self-absorbed?

What's going on? Do we have a new generation of drivers who've never taken driver ed? My friend, back in the first example, has noticed the speed-up-at-lane-change problem in several states, so it's not a local thing.

Well, I made it to the dinner later than I meant, but still in time. I had to stop in Newburgh to pick up a friend, and I called her as I entered Newburgh and told her to go to the end of her driveway, "and hold your purse strap out so my side mirror can hook it as I pass, and then hang on tight!"

There were 12 of us at dinner, and I did manage to sit in the middle of the table, as I wanted. It was a pretty good group. Roman gave me a birthday gift of Israeli body lotion after dinner, and a CD of photos from his trip. I hadn't realized that although we'd talked on the phone several times since late October and his trip, I hadn't seen him since mid-October. How odd.

Now we have to get together sometime so he can narrate the photos.

1577 Heartstrings

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

(Photo used with permission.)

This is Eli, the tomcat, and Charlie, the coyote pup that Eli and his human are raising. You will find some beautiful photos and the story at Go. Look. Read. Share.

[Later edit - I should say - start at the bottom of Daily Coyote and work UP, so you can see him grow up.]

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

1576 Stuff

Tuesday, December (Ack! Already?) 4, 2007

From Scott Adams, at
"One of the most useless party customs is giving attendees gifts as they leave. These guests already gave you a hostess gift when they arrived. The obvious solution would be to tell guests to throw their incoming gifts in a pile by the entrance, next to the shoes. When people leave, they can rummage through the pile and pick something they didn’t bring. Pardon my French, but I think a “voila” is called for."

Amen. I think Christmas presents should work that way, too.


If you stay in hotels a lot, watch this. I believe it. When you see those housekeeping carts in the hall, ever notice that they aren't loaded with glasses?



I have just returned from a very enjoyable four-day weekend visiting with a friend in Virginia, where I attended (as a spectator) my first official bowling tournament. (Which is a little odd, because back when I was still speaking to my brother, he was very "into" bowling, participating in tournaments all over the country and actually making money at it. He was in televised nationals. And yet, I've never seen him bowl.) Anyway, it's like any other sport - it's a lot more interesting when you know one of the players. It was a good weekend.


My cellphone is seven years old this month. In Phoneworld, it's an antique, but I've kept it because I'd never had any trouble with it and saw no reason to upgrade. It has few functions beyond making and receiving calls, but who really needs anything else? It's so large that when young people see it, they remark "Wow! That phone must do everything!"

I went to my service provider's store yesterday to have a small problem addressed, and discovered that my phone will no longer work (!!!) as of February because it's not 911-enabled, and it's analog, not digital, and analog service will end in February.

So they gave me a new phone. They figured they owed me three or four by now anyway. The new one isn't fancy, because I opted for durability instead.

I have about 57 numbers in the directory on the old phone. They said no problem, they just hook up both phones to some machine and it transfers the contents of the directory from the old to the new. Unfortunately, my old phone is SO old, there's no plug to hook it up to. So the clerk sat there and hand-transferred all my old directory to the new phone. Took an hour. So far the only typo I found is that in several places, "Eve" has become "Eye". I'll have to sit down sometime soon and check all the numbers.


Mensa dinner tonight. So far 10 people have said they'll be there. That's too many. An ideal restaurant dinner is about six. Beyond that, it tends to break up into two separate conversation groups, and no matter which group you end up in, the bits you hear from the other end of the table sound so much more interesting. I want to make sure I sit in the middle of the table, so I can swing-converse.

1575 Big Brother, Thy Name Is Facebook

Facebook Admits Ad Service Tracks Logged-Off Users

FROM YAHOO NEWS ...Juan Carlos Perez Mon Dec 3, 12:00 PM ET

Facebook has confirmed findings of a CA security researcher that the social-networking site's Beacon ad service is more intrusive and stealthy than previously acknowledged, an admission that contradicts statements made previously by Facebook executives and representatives.

Facebook's controversial Beacon ad system tracks users' off-Facebook activities even if those users are logged off from the social-networking site and have previously declined having their activities on specific external sites broadcast to their Facebook friends, a company spokesman said via e-mail over the weekend.

Although according to the spokesman Facebook does nothing with the data transmitted back to its servers in these cases and deletes it, the admission will probably fan the flames of the controversy engulfing Beacon, which has been criticized by privacy advocates. The Facebook spokesman did not initially reply to a request for further explanation on how the Beacon action gets triggered if a user is logged off from Facebook, when the social-networking site's ability to track its users'activities should be inactive. It's also unclear whether Facebook plans to modify Beacon so it doesn't track and report on the off-Facebook activities of logged-off users.

Beacon is a major part of the Facebook Ads platform that Facebook introduced with much fanfare several weeks ago. Beacon tracks certain activities of Facebook users on more than 40 participating Web sites, including those of Blockbuster and Fandango, and reports those activities to the users' set of Facebook friends, unless told not to do so. Off-Facebook activities that can be broadcast to one's Facebook friends include purchasing a product, signing up for a service and including an item on a wishlist.

The program has been blasted by groups such as and by individual users who have unwittingly broadcast information about recent purchases and other Web activities to their Facebook friends. This has led to some embarrassing situations, such as blowing the surprise of holiday presents.

On Thursday night, Facebook tweaked Beacon to make its workings more explicit toFacebook users and to make it easier to nix broadcast messages and opt out of having activities tracked on specific Web sites. Facebook didn't go all the wayto providing a general opt-out option for the entire Beacon program, as some had hoped.

Then on Friday, just hours after Facebook had scored some points with its modifications to Beacon, Stefan Berteau, senior research engineer at CA's Threat Research Group, wrote in a note about Beacon's until-then unknown ability to monitor logged-off users' activities and send the data back to Facebook.

Users aren't informed that data on their activities at these sites is flowing back to Facebook, nor given the option to block that information from being transmitted, according to Berteau.

If users have ever checked the option for Facebook to "remember me"-- which saves users from having to log on to the site upon every return to it-- Facebook can tie their activities on third-party Beacon sites directly to them, even if they're logged off and have opted out of the broadcast. If they have never chosen this option, the information still flows back to Facebook, although without it being tied to their Facebook ID, according to Berteau.

Facebook's admission over the weekend contradicts previous statements from the company regarding this issue. For example, in e-mail correspondence with Facebook's privacy department, Berteau was told, among other things, that "as long as you are logged out of Facebook, no actions you have taken on other websites can be sent to Facebook."

A similar statement was made by a high-ranking Facebook official in an interview with The New York Times published Thursday."If I buy tickets on Fandango, and decline to publish the purchase to my friends on Facebook, does Facebook still receive the information about my purchase?," a Times reporter asked Chamath Palihapitiya, Facebook's vice president of product marketing and operations at Facebook. "Absolutely not. One of the things we are still trying to do is dispel a lot of misinformation that is being propagated unnecessarily," Palihapitiya replied.