Saturday, March 15, 2008

1728 Bloglines Is Snubbing Me

Saturday, March 15, 2008

My Bloglines subscription isn't working. Yesterday morning it suddenly asked for my password, something it hasn't done in a few months, and it won't accept what I know to be the password. So I clicked on the "forgot password, please send", and it says it sent the password to my email id, but it didn't. Even after several tries.

I'm lost without Bloglines! Ack!

Last night I sent Bloglines an email asking for help, and I have not yet received a reply. Is this just me? Anyone else having problems?

I set up a new subscription today with a different email id, and that's working fine, but I didn't have time to resubscribe to more than a few of the original blogs. Very annoying.

Otherwise, nothing happening. Sewing day again.

Friday, March 14, 2008

1727 I don't know if I can volunteer again.

Friday, March 14, 2008

I volunteered again today at a tax clinic. This one was for seniors who don't usually make enough to file taxes, but have to this year in order to get the $600/$1200 rebate.

This was run by the same bunch that didn't show up last month, and didn't notify us volunteers that it was cancelled.

They did show up today, but I wish they hadn't. Everything was so screwed up. I spent a lot of time being frustrated.

From here on, I'm blowing off steam. Feel free to hit "Back" on your browser.

They told me to report to the RSVP (Retired and Seniors Volunteer Program) office, address 409 Commercial Park. I Googled the address, so I knew generally where I was going. However, it was still difficult to find.

Commercial Park used to be a mall, consisting of three large connected buildings. It used to be a grocery store, a department store, and a bunch of smaller stores, but the county bought it, revamped it, and it's now Social Services offices in the center building, county college classrooms in one end building along with some other offices, and Family services and some kind of business incubator in the other end. As you are driving down the street, there isn't a single sign anywhere saying "Commercial Park"! If you don't already know that's Commercial Park, you'd never find it.

So, I parked. The only sign identifying what's in any building is the Social Services sign over the central building. No numbers. No office listings.

I went into the central building, and asked the security officers where #409 was. They told me the left end building. I walked over there. Again, no office listings, no directory.

I asked the security officers in that building where #409 was. They gave me directions down some twisting hallways. The office numbers went up, but stopped at around 403. I kept walking, and found an open door with no sign, and no number, and asked where RSVP was. That was it. Gee, thanks. Are you hiding?

I asked where I was supposed to go for the tax clinic. The secretary didn't know. Said I should ask the security guards. Back to lobby. They didn't know either, but guessed it was probably a classroom, "try down that hall". I found a room with people in it, and asked. Yup, that's it.

I went back and told the security officers where it was.

It got worse. I at least knew to go to Commercial Park, and had figured out where that was.

Whoever had advertised it to the seniors wasn't very clear about where folks should go (we were in classrooms in the county college branch), and a lot of the seniors who came in (with canes, walkers, friends or relatives who had taken off work to drive them) were very angry because apparently the flyers said that it was sponsored by a state representative's office, so they went to that office in uptown first. The secretary there had no idea where the tax clinic was, so she sent them to the County Office for Aging (which at least was in Commercial Park). The Office for Aging had no idea where it was, but suspected that RSVP had something to do with it, so they sent them to that office, which at least was in the same office park, but they had to go through the same runaround I had endured. A woman somehow managed to find us, and when she told me RSVP still didn't know where we were, I called RSVP and the Office for Aging and told them.

That is totally ridiculous! I don't blame these people for being angry. I wonder how many elders needed our help, but never found us.

I did intake.

The flyer apparently did not tell them what paperwork they had to bring. I was told by the idiot woman in charge that the senior MUST have their actual social security card, and the letter they get from SS detailing the amount they got in 2007. My instructions were to verify that they had both items, and if they didn't, I was to send them home to get them. Then I'd give them a form to fill out, and the two other volunteers would help them with the forms. When the forms were completed, the clients were to wait on the other side of the room to be called to the tax prep room across the hall, where there were seven accountants with laptops. I was to put a sequence number on the form so I could send them over in sequence.

I asked how I would know when the next should be sent, since I couldn't see the tax room. That caused much consternation. The woman in charge told me that each client would take about 10 minutes, so I should GET UP AND WALK ACROSS THE HALL EVERY 10 MINUTES to see if there were any free preparers. The expression on my face said "Bullshit!" That's stupid! If a client takes 11 minutes, that ... well, figure it out you idiot.

I suggested that when an accountant finishes a client, he or she should cross the hall and give me a high sign, and I'd sent the next. She said no, we don't want to inconvenience the preparers. So I suggested that the preparers tell the client when they are finished to, on their way out, stick their head in the door and let me know they're done. She didn't like that, either. In the end, she took one of the two volunteers who were supposed to help with the forms, and stationed her at the doorway of the tax room, and when a client left, she'd come in and call the next sequential number.

My God! Extremely inefficient use of resources.

So, pissed off clients who had wandered all over the city started arriving. They got more pissed off when 5 of the first 6 to arrive did not have their SS cards. SS had advised them not to carry them, to keep them in a safe place. They all did, however, have their Medicare cards, which are provided by SS, and have their SS numbers on them.

I crossed the hall and explained the problem, and asked if the Medicare card would do. The idiot woman who had given me the instructions said no, it MUST be the actual SS card, that it was an IRS requirement. So I had to send those pissed off people home.

More arrived, same problem. I went to one of the accountants to argue their case, and the accountant said the Medicare card would be fine, that it was needed simply to establish identity, since anyone could have intercepted the amount letter. But since the Medicare card had the SS# on it, and it would match the letter, that would establish identity.

Then a guy showed up with neither SS card nor Medicare card. He couldn't understand why his driver's licence wouldn't establish id. Yeah, it doesn't have SS#, but it does have a photo and his name, and the name matches the letter.

I personally agreed, in fact I thought it was a better proof of id, so I crossed the hall and asked the idiot woman in charge. She said absolutely not. Send him home. I sent three people home, then asked an accountant. The accountant said sure, driver's licence would be fine.

The idiot woman in charge must have been arbitrarily making up her own rules.

I felt bad for all the people who, after getting the runaround on location, were sent home because that idiot woman was making up her own rules without consulting the preparers, and seemed to enjoy playing "Gotcha! with the clients.

So, we finally got in the groove, and people were getting in and getting processed, when one of the volunteers announces, at 11:40, that she is hypoglycemic and must eat at noon. There's a diner right across the parking lot, so she's going to go get takeout and will be right back. There was a lull, so the other volunteer, who was helping people fill out forms, decided to go with her. Get takeout. Be right back. A few minutes.

They returned at 1:20. Without takeout. They had eaten in the diner. Leaving me alone to do intake, help with forms, and keep an eye on openings in the tax room for an hour and a half. Alone. At the busiest time, since the easiest time for the seniors to get a ride was lunchtime.

I was incredibly pissed.

When they returned and asked if more people had been in, I said yes, and told them how many. I didn't say anything else. I doubt they noticed that more people had been in while they were missing than during the time they had been there.

The flyer had said the hours were 9 to 3. I was told to turn away anyone who arrived after 2. They didn't want to start anyone new after 2, even though the average process time, from getting the intake form to finished e-filing, was 15 minutes. In my opinion, the flyers should have SAID that the last clients would be accepted at 2. Who's the flyer addressed to? Shouldn't it give information important to the intended audience?

That about blew the top of my head off. At 2 pm I stacked everything, cleared the desk, and got the hell out of there. I did NOT want to be there when someone came at 2:05 and I had to tell them they were too late. Uh uh. No way. Especially after having sent folks home for SS cards they didn't really need. I'm outta here.

I hate career bureaucrats! Thinking is foreign to them. But then, that IS the definition of bureaucrat.


The only amusing part of the day - the woman who said she had to file for her husband because he has "aged hymers, whatever they are...". (Actually, the implications of what she said are sad. Somebody has not filled her in on what that is, and what it means.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

1726 Complaints

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The weatherman on the news said that there "will be no weather" today. I expected to look out the door and find a gray void.


There was an episode of "Friends" where Russ had his teeth whitened, and they were so blinding that the others screamed and made him keep his mouth closed. Blinding white teeth were considered silly.

I've seen a lot of blinding teeth on TV lately. Seems like everyone who is going to be on camera goes out and gets a mouthful of porcelain. Toilet tank mouth. It takes over their face. It's getting to where that's all I see. Almost no one has teeth naturally that white.

Flashing teeth are as ubiquitous as fake breasts and vulva lips. It's just not good enough to be natural any more.

My teeth are nowhere near white. I drink a lot of tea, and I smoke, but even if I didn't my teeth wouldn't be white. In high school, before coffee, tea, and cigarettes, I placed about the middle on the dentist's shade chart (which, by the way, is about average). No amount of safe bleaching will get me any higher than that.

I am annoyed that all these startling teeth are threatening to make me feel inadequate, no matter how much I yell "Fake!"

What's next? Eye shape? Will we all be not almond enough, or not round enough?


It's easy to tell it's been an annoying winter. I'm in complain mode. It's that or hide under the covers until the cherry trees bloom.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

1725 Run-on talker, drugs, GPS, CC, etc.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

(Yeah, ok, icky title. But I don't do cute, they're supposed to help me find stuff later. I don't want to use tags, because tags lead to more search engine hits, and I don't particularly want that.)

I have always paid off my credit card balances in full every month. The past nine months or so, however, I've been using the cards for more (taxes, insurance, etc.), and someone told me that it's actually better for my credit rating to carry a balance, so I've been paying off half or two-thirds of the balance every month. The cost balanced out with my money market account, so it was ok.

Recently, the money market has tanked. So earlier this month I decided to pay off the credit card totals from the money market account.

Much excitement!

The banks have panicked.

They're afraid I'm on the verge of closing the accounts, and are making all kinds of inducement offers, including stuff like blank checks I can write with 0% interest for three months. I'm tempted to write an enormous check or two, invest the money, and in three months pay it back and keep the interest earned.

Howcome for all those years that I always paid off every month, no one tried to woo me?


A year or two ago, I wrote a post about how hospice had told me to flush Jay's rather powerful and controlled meds after he died, and how I reacted in horror because we all have septic tanks and wells around here, and I didn't want to put them into the groundwater. I was also concerned that older city sewer treatment plants (who do not include reverse osmosis) can't remove pharmaceuticals, and they don't test for them in the water they release, and I think it's becoming a more serious problem than people realize.

Well, guess what's in the news lately. Nobody has a solution, either.


I need to register some disclaimers for my post on the "Ugly American" women. The fake-looking red hair adorns no one I know personally. I know a few redheads who do color their hair, but they all look reasonable. The red I described does not occur in nature. The first time I saw that particular color was in 1997, in France, where it seemed like one out of every three women had it. It's a very hard, brittle looking color. Jay and I referred to it as "French whore-head red". It's not very common in the US, or at least not in the venues I frequent.

And I know two women who have a nose stud, but they're both graceful, polite, and don't overwhelm a room with noise. Their studs are beauty marks. On the service station woman, it gave the impression of a bovine nose ring.

So no hackles, please.


Now I *am* going to pick on someone. She sometimes attends the dinners, and I always feel a sinking feeling when I see her at the table. She's perhaps late 50s, very nice, sweet, harmless. Soft innocent smiling face. But she drives me crazy with the way she speaks.

"...and then, uh, I tried to, tried to figure out what the, uh, buttons on the, uh, on the side were for, uh, and I thought maybe if I, if I pressed them in, uh, sequence, uh, maybe I could, maybe I could get some, uh, some sound out, uh, if they, if they, uh, worked that way, but, uh, ...."

That is not an exaggeration.

She has a tiny high-pitched little-girl voice, and she talks relatively fast, and sounds breathless, a quick intake breath after every "uh". Even that wouldn't be so bad, all the "uh"s and repetitions in a high voice, but she talks constantly! She goes on and on and on with no pauses. With all the "uh"s and run-on sentences, there's no chance for someone else to get a word in. No one else at the table can talk at all unless they're willing to interrupt and talk over her.

She did mention last evening, in the context of wanting to learn bagpipe, that she has some kind of lung problem, so that may explain all the "uh"s. Small lung capacity? And maybe the run-on sentences and the repetition is because if she doesn't, she gets interrupted when she has to take a breath, and it's a defensive habit?

Ok. Believe it or not, I started this very annoyed with her, and worked out the above while writing this. So maybe I won't be so annoyed next time. BUT, she still talks too much! She needs to let someone else say something occasionally. Sheesh. Her monologues sound like my blog entries!


I bought a Garmin GPS unit online from Costco, for my car. The box arrived last Friday. I opened it before the UPS guy had left the driveway, and saw inside several plastic packages containing the "acessories pack" I had ordered, and the smaller cubical box for the device.

A few minutes later, I opened the smaller box. It contained more accessories, in plastic bags - some, like the USB cable and a power cable, repeats of the accessories pack. Duh? No GPS device. No instruction book.

I called Costco. They said they'd have UPS come out and take the box and contents, and that I'd eventually get a charge-back on my card. They wanted me to immediately reorder another device. I didn't want to, because that would put both on my card at once, and what if they didn't refund me? Now I realize that looks bad, because if I'm ripping them off, I wouldn't want to order another. I'm not sure what I should do. I will eventually order another, but if I don't get the refund from Costco, I don't want to order another from them....

The UPS guy came this morning, and he agrees with me that the second set of accessories in the smaller box looks like the device was stolen at the warehouse. The extra stuff may have been put in to make the weight look right. I don't know what that means as far as a refund goes. Who do I get it from, and how long will it take? It was $100 off the usual price, and that goes only until March 31, so I'll want to reorder before then.

And, that's my week so far.

1724 Musical Transformers

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I haven't paid much attention to the rock genre of popular music since the early 90s. It seemed to me that the object had become simply to make loud noise. Drummers had become either mechanical or maniacal. No one sang any more, they shouted. I figure that if your shoulders relax and drop when the "music" ends, it isn't music. It's just noise.

I discovered a year or two ago that I sort of like a lot of the Grateful Dead. That surprised me. Driving home from dinner last night I heard something on the radio that I really liked. The music was intricate, and the musicians really knew what they were doing. A lot of talent there. The vocal part was a bit loud and hoarse-throaty, verging on shouting, but it was still singing, there was an actual melody, and if the guy had relaxed a bit, he would have been pretty good. I really like both the guitar and drums.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered it was Metallica, "Wherever I May Roam".

Me? Metallica?

So when I got home, I searched YouTube for the video, and rediscovered my other complaint. I don't like the violence inherent in so much of this music, or at least in the performances. If I turn my back on the screen, if I hear but not see it, I like it. If I watch the performance, I dislike it.

Odd, eh?

Well, here it is. The first is accompanied by photos, not a performance. Even if you don't like the music, you have to admit there's real, admirable, talent there.


And here's a video with performance, same selection. It starts out ok, but as it goes on and the energy goes up, I feel more and more negative. Anyone else have the same reaction?


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

1723 Freak

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I have fibromyalgia. It's not formally diagnosed because it's not something that can be cured or treated, so there's no point in having it on my record, but I do have eight of the sensitive points, and I have pain somewhere all the time. I also have a very high pain threshold - that "knuckle the sternum" thing to check for consciousness doesn't work on me, for example, and when my gall bladder went west, I didn't know there was anything wrong until I started throwing up coffee grounds. (Translation: blood.)

Anyway, I have something a little weird, and I don't know if it's common or not. If it's not common, I wonder if it's related to the fibro.

I found an ingrown hair on the outside of my left thigh this morning, and I was poking and pinching at it, and I didn't feel the pinch in my thigh. I felt it on the outside of my left bicep. I often sense a surface pain on my lower body as on the upper body, and vice versa. Like the nerves are messed up. The brain interprets a surface pain on the thigh as coming from the arm, and then I semi-consciously remap it to the proper place on the thigh. This is normal for me, and I've never really questioned it.

IS this common, normal? Do you ever, often?, feel a pinch far distant from where the pinch really is?


Gov. Spitzer has been caught in a prostitution scandal. His legal problem is not with the misdemeanor visits, but with the felony act of moving money around to hide the payments.

I'm having some trouble understanding that. It's a felony to move money around? He moved money from his personal accounts to a holding company for the prostitution company, which may have had some "tax implications". That's the part I don't understand. Don't the taxes still get paid, one way or another? I'm going to have to follow this.

The visits to prostitutes is a public relations problem. My opinion on that? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

A lot of the blather is about how so many men in positions of influence and power seem to have sex scandals that take them down. People with

--- break ---

I had to run off mid-sentence. I looked at the clock and it was 5:15 pm. I had to leave the house by 5:30 to meet some friends for dinner, grand opening of a Thai restaurant, and I was sitting here in my PJs, unwashed and uncombed (yeah, at 5 pm, wanna make something of it? Benefits of retirement! I earned it! Shuddup!) Darn daylight savings time. My internal clock is all messed up.

--- end of break, 10 pm ---

So where was I? People with a lot to lose seem to do stupid things they know will hurt them if they're found out, and yet they do it. And the blatherers seem surprised by that.

I'm not, for several reasons.

The neighbor next door might be cheating on his wife with the secretary (or intern), but the big difference is that he doesn't have reporters and everybody else in the world following him around and poking into everything looking for dirt. Nobody cares. Spitzer turned up on a list of clients of the prostitutes. If neighbor John turned up on the list, no one would care, and we'd likely never hear about it. And there are a lot of Johns out there. A lot of men do exactly the same things that have taken down politicians and preachers lately. They escape scrutiny and vilification because, frankly, no one cares.

So that's one reason why. Scrutiny.

A second reason is that you don't acquire power by playing it safe. Powerful people take risks. Risk takers go for it. They did. Some of them took the risk and lost. You can bet your patooty that there are a lot more powerful people out there taking the same risk, and they will often be the loudest in condemning the guy who got caught. (Monicagate springs to mind.) They're not condemning him for what naughty thing he did --- they are condemning him for getting caught.

That's another reason why. Risk taking.

Third, the more powerful men get more women. At least they're supposed to. That's deep in the brain from cave days. More women, more breeding opportunities, more progeny. Otherwise, why work so hard and risk so much? It's animal nature. So a powerful man, deep in the dark recesses of his brain, thinks he deserves the reward. A powerful man also has more temptation thrown at him. That's why so many of them have serial wives, and/or get caught in embarrassing sexual escapades.

That's a third reason. A desire to collect the rewards.

--- Flash! On TV news this very minute, an analyst has said that Ms. Clinton's "as far as I know" (that something was not so) was a slip, and an admission of guilt! Oh, come on! "As far as I know" means that "I don't know that what you said is true, it may be true, but I know nothing about it". She's a lawyer! If she doesn't know that something is not true, then she CAN'T say "It's not true", because she doesn't know that. All she can truthfully say is "As far as I know, it is not true." Good Grief, people! There are very few things any of us know with certainty.

Am I going to have to stop watching the news again? End of flash ---

1722 Faint of Heart

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Shreve, over there at "The Daily Coyote", has a post today about giving Charlie the coyote a deer heart. (By the way, I highly recommend her blog about Charlie. Her photos are beautiful. If you go there, be aware that the diary is several months behind, so the story is now from last fall.) She cautions readers that if they are faint of heart, they should read no further.

I offer the same caution here. You may want to skip this entry.

Beef heart was one of my grandmother's specialties.

That was in the '50s, when one bought meat at a butcher shop, and it was absolutely fresh. The butcher often, uh, see, this is where the first faint part is, butchered the animals himself that morning.

Gramma would put in her order, and when the butcher had a fresh-that-morning beef or veal heart, he'd call her. She'd pick up the heart and a quart of fresh blood. The blood had to be absolutely fresh.

How to prepare beef heart:
  • Remove any covering tissues. With a very sharp thin knife, cut out all the major blood vessels. They tend to be tough. Going in through the blood vessel openings, cut out any internal valves.

  • Make a stuffing of chopped carrots, turnips, parsnips, onions, leeks, and celery, and a little bread or oatmeal. Season with various herbs, and stuff the heart through the vessel openings.

  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast it slowly.

  • Make gravy with the blood and a little stock and flour. This is the richest most flavorful gravy in the world.

  • Slice, and serve.
It's usual to slice it in the kitchen and serve as slices. Plopping a whole heart on the table tends to startle neophytes.

It was wonderful. If you're a carnivore, anyway. Or a vampire.

As late as the early '70s it was still possible to get a fresh heart and blood, so I have cooked it myself a few times, but it's been some 30+ years since. I miss it. Hearts these days go into hot dogs and dog food, I guess. I suppose during hunting season it's still possible to get venison heart, but I don't know if it would taste the same, and it's definitely not the same without the blood gravy.

Gee. Organ meat is high in cholesterol. I wonder if that's why that side of my family almost all died of strokes.

Monday, March 10, 2008

1721 A Winning Weekend

Monday, March 10, 2008

Visited NJ this past weekend. I drove south through a raging downpour on Saturday. It was a nice weekend. On Saturday night we went to a karaoke bar where he was unknown, and they had a competition which he kept saying he didn't want to be in, but ended up winning anyway. Apparently competition is usual at that place, and many of the contestants were very good. Yeah, he's that good. Anywhere he's ever sung (as far as I know, anyway) they always love him.

We also watched "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" while sitting in a hot Jacuzzi. The only way to watch a movie!

Sunday we met Daughter for a long late lunch, and he helped her with her resume and gave her some very good interview coaching. She's trying to make another career transition, and she's terribly over-educated for the kind of thing she wants to go into.

There were a lot of coincidences again. The karaoke bar turned out to be a place very near Daughter's home, and I had been there several times with them for dinner. When I tried to give Daughter directions to the hotel on Sunday (a least a half hour from her home), she said she already knew where it was - it was literally next door to SIL Hercules's office building.

I returned today. Everybody's very tired.