Friday, February 22, 2008

1704 Weather Pixie

Friday, February 22, 2008

I have a little weather pixie over there on the right, just above Dilbert. She's dressed for the weather, and right now is standing in a snowstorm - just like me. She shows the current temperature, humidity, pressure, wind direction and speed, and the time that she was last updated.

Well, she claims to be dressed for the weather, but if she were my daughter, she wouldn't be leaving the house in that skimpy little jacket....


I've been getting a lot of semi-spam email from merchants with whom I have done business. They all contain the "to unsubscribe" link, and so one by one I've been unsubscribing.

What gets me is that they all, on the unsubscribe screen, say that it will take up to 10 days to get my email address off their lists. And they seem to mean it. I removed myself from a particular sewing supplies list a good ten days ago, and I'm still getting every-other-day emails from them.

Bull poopy!

It's not like they have ten days worth of already-addressed envelopes lined up in a mail room somewhere. Come on! When they are about to send their advertising emails, the address list is used then, on the fly. It's "real-time". So search for my email address in your lists, remove it, and it's immediate. What's with this ten-day crap?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

1703 Hot Stuff

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Know how you don't think about a certain whatever, ever? And then all of a sudden it's everywhere? Well, I'm not a big fan of hot peppers in any form. About the only time I even think about them is when I'm in a restaurant, and I verify that nobody's going to bring me anything that's got them.

Seems like the past few days, that's all I'm reading and hearing about. Recipies. Studies of how hot various varieties are, and studies of how much the human body can take. Recommendations for keeping squirrels out of bird feeders. All kinds of stuff, a couple times a day for the past few days.

Today I came across the only information that REALLY interests me - how to kill the burn if you accidentally get bitten.

The active ingredient is capsaicin. I never thought about it before, but capsaicin is alkaline, a base. So what you want to neutralize it is an acid, like milk. (Another thing I never thought about - that milk is an acid. Yeah, ok, milk has lactic acid, yeah, I knew that, but somehow it never registered. I always thought of milk as alkaline, without thinking about it. I guess because of the way it reacts to vinegar.)

Anyway, that's why hot Indian foods are served with yogurt. Soy milk is not the same. Skim milk won't work, because the capsaicin is carried in the oils from the peppers, and you need the fat in the milk or yogurt to lift and dilute the oil so the lactic acid can get to the capsaicin. Even better is condensed milk, or cream. If you get the burn in your eyes or other sensitive areas, soak a washcloth in milk or yogurt, and apply. After handling peppers, wash with soap and water, then soak your fingertips in milk to neutralize anything that might remain under your fingernails.

Other things that will work (but not on the eyes) are orange juice, citrus slices, beer, or vinegar, although the last two don't do as good a job of diluting the oil.

Cool, eh?

Nobody said anything about Coke, but given the way it eats the hard water salts in my toilets, I bet that would work, too.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

1702 Tuesday 2/19

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I am on a "budget plan" with the electric company. This means that I pay a set amount every month, based on my average usage. They review it every so often and reset the amount.

So, I got a letter from Central Hudson. Last year I sent them $1,660.54 in payments. My actual usage was $1,572.51. Therefore they are raising my monthly payment by $7.


I don't understand.


I got an email from a friend this evening. He had heard that "a North American dictator had stepped down, and Floridians were celebrating", got all excited, and was terribly disappointed when he discovered it was Castro. (Giggle.)


Naturally, I had to check that "North America" part. Opinion is divided. Some consider Cuba geographically part of North America, politically part of South America. There are arguments for Central America. And there are those of us who think the assignment of "continents" is pretty arbitrary anyway, like Europe and Asia are different continents? North America and Central America are different continents? Huh? ...and prefer to call Cuba part of "The Americas".

Monday, February 18, 2008

1701 New Scheme

Monday, February 18, 2008

I'm going to try something. Instead of multiple posts per day (can you tell I have no one to talk to?) I'm going to start one post per day, file it as a draft, update it when I feel like it, and post it at the end of the day. That'll make for some long entries, I guess, but only one a day.


Today I went to an art exhibition, at the invitation of one of the artists. It ran for four days, Friday through today, in a historic building housing a legislator's offices. The advertised hours, both on the postcard I received and the personal email I got from the friend, were 10 am 'til 5 pm. Today was the first day I was able to go. It was a 45 minute drive, through the mountains, and I got there at 3:42 pm.

The place was cleared out. Exhibitors had packed up their cars and were leaving. A few people were moving furniture back into place when I arrived. There wasn't one piece of art anywhere. My friend said that they'd had no visitors since 2 pm, so at 3:00 they started shutting down.

He then "apologized", "I'm so sorry you were too late."

I about exploded. I looked him in the eye to make sure he understood what I was saying, "Bull. I wasn't too late. I was here in plenty of time. You guys didn't uphold your commitment to me and others like me. Your advertised hours were until 5!"

I've seen at lot of that lately - people just don't consider others. Back when I ran the monthly dinner, when we canceled because of snow, when we asked for RSVPs, I made sure everyone who had responded was aware we'd canceled. Sometimes there were no RSVPs required, just show up, and on several of those occasions I drove through a flippin' blizzard to make sure there was at least a note on the door.

Nowadays, it's not unusual to arrive at the appointed place and find no one there. I went to a dinner in Tivoli a few months ago and found the restaurant had closed suddenly a few days before. I was 5 minutes late. No one was there, and there was no note on the door as to a change of venue. I was hungry, so went to another place down the street, and found five other Mensans sitting there. They had all arrived before seven, found it closed, and moved - without leaving a note or waiting to see if anyone else showed up. One more person joined us, a result of the note *I* had left on the door. Hey folks, it really wasn't that difficult....

Bugs the hell out of me.


Driving to the aborted exhibit, I passed an impressively huge mansion off to the side of the road, turrets and porches and bays. It was abandoned, grey unpainted wood rotting and falling, windows all broken. In person, it looks a LOT bigger than this photo implies.

(There are more of Lucas's photos of the exterior here:

When I got to the gallery I asked what it was. Until 1976, it was the Bennett College (Millbrook, NY). A very fashionable college (read finishing school) for women (no relation to the Greensboro, NC school of the same name). They ran out of money, and closed, and the building has been empty since. It's a shame. On the way home, I stopped for a closer look. I found another photo online, at (scroll UP to see the exterior photo), taken about 2 or three years ago.

Interior here: Click on the first photo, then just keep going "next". Below the photos are comments, some very interesting comments from alumni.

A photo of an interior during its heyday here:, and more can be found at that Hudson River Valley Heritage website - search for "Bennett College".

I hate to see wonderful old buildings rotting away like that. The stonework is all still in perfect condition.


Howcum calendars that feature landscape photos always have winter photos during the winter months and summer photos during summer months and so on? When I open a new calendar to January, when it's cold and snowy and freezing outside, the last thing I want to see is a snowscape. If I were designing those calendars, I'd have snow scenes in the summer, and summer scenes in the winter.

1700 Why WalMart?

I'll tell you why.

On the errands list:
- dry cat food, grocery store
- packing tape and box cutter, hardware store
- oil, gas station
- Prilosec OTC, drug store
- deposit checks, bank
- leather cat collar, pet shop
- seam ripper, fabric store
- inexpensive white turtleneck, nowhere within ten miles

If I shop local stores, that's seven separate stops, in and out of the car, and no turtleneck.

If I go to WalMart, it's one stop. And even though the nearest is ten miles away, it will probably be less gas, because I'll start the car only twice.

That's why.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

1699 Schlice 2

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Wow! It's raining outside now, and the prediction for tomorrow is 55 degrees! Go, schlice, go! Go away!

1698 Schlice

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The last storm we had (last weekend?) dumped seven inches of snow on my driveway, and then RAINED all over it. I didn't want to go out and clear the snow while it was raining, and then after the rain stopped I had four inches of wet slush, which the snowthrower couldn't handle. Folks with shorter driveways found it easy to push it off, but there's no way I could do my 4000+ square feet by hand.

That night it froze into "schlice" - snow slush become ice. I don't think even a plow could could clear it. I wasn't worried because a few days of warmer weather, or a nice long rain, would take care of it. No such luck. I may be schliced in until the end of March.

So for the past week the car has been at the bottom of the driveway. I walk up and down the schlice-covered hill to get in and out, which isn't too very bad except when I've been shopping. Hauling kitty litter and groceries? Yuck. My feet go like mad but I make no headway. I look like a cartoon.

I've driven the car over the schlice at the bottom, and the car didn't even crack it, but weirdly, the turkeys do make imprints. My yard is covered with huge turkey tracks.

When I drove to Saugerties yesterday, I was amazed at how little schlice they had, only two inches or less. Saugerties is north of here.

I don't understand.

I thought I'd be reprieved today. The prediction was 45 degrees and a good solid rain.

Nope. Upper 30s, and a short shower. Sigh.

1697 Flirting with the band

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I went out last night with a friend (male, but platonic). Another mutual friend was singing with a band. He also plays harmonica and acoustic guitar, very well, and writes music. Back in the 80s and early 90s, when I was still going to the annual local Mensa summercamp weekend, he used to lead a sing-along around a campfire (with marshmallows!) on the Saturday night of camp.

(Since I've been more active the past few years I'd been stopping in at the camp just for Saturdays, and I've been very disappointed that they don't have the singalongs or even the campfire any more. They sit in the dining hall and play cards and board games. It's like a different group, or something. Like maybe they got older, and I didn't.)

Anyway, way back then, he had a slightly John Denver look, and every year he tried to get me into his tent. It was playful flirting, and fun. (His wife never accompanied him to camp.) One year he and his wife were separated (temporarily, as it turned out), and the flirting almost got out of hand. But only almost.

He has aged well, has acquired an almost Paul Newman look now. He's actually pretty darn sexy.

So, anyway, my date and I arrived early for dinner before the band started.

Now, something I don't understand. When a restaurant/bar has entertainment on late Friday and/or Saturday nights, why do they always put the band (or karaoke, for that matter) in a tiny room in the back, or in an alcove off to the side of the seating area? And why, when the band is in a tiny room, do they still have the volume up high enough to rattle fillings?

The place was packed, so we asked to be seated for dinner in that back room. The room had only seven two-to-four person tables, and the far end was open to the bar. I ended up three feet from the microphones.

When our singing friend arrived (oh foo, let's call him X), he stopped by the table and spoke with my "date" (oh foo, let's call him "Roman") for a few seconds. When X left to help set up, Roman asked me if I knew X other than just to recognize him. I shot my eyebrows up, and said oh yeah, I once knew him well, that I've known him for almost twenty-five years. Roman smirked.

Roman and I have pretty much settled into an understanding, so I don't know why his superior attitude still bugs me. You'd think I'd just shrug it off. I guess last night I was still a bit annoyed about the animusic thing. Two years ago I discovered animusic, and tried to tell Roman about it, I had bought the DVDs and tried to show them to him, and he wouldn't even look at it. He just knew it wasn't "his thing", and my enthusiasm carried no weight. Like I have no taste or something. Terribly low class. Last week, he called all excited about this "animusic thing" *HE* had discovered. He has no idea how much that pissed me off. When someone is enthusiastic about something, if you respect them, you at least listen to them and consider it.

So, I decided to steal X from him. I flirted. I ended up with X's playlist tucked into my d├ęcolletage, and X sitting next to me during his break, whispering into each other's ears to be heard over the band. So there. Yeah, I know him.

For your viewing pleasure, I give you Animusic:
(If the first is too mechanical for your taste, you might enjoy the second more.)



And for something entirely different,


Lots more on Just search for "animusic". "Harmonic Voltage" is one of my favorites. Their website is, where you can buy the full DVDs.