Saturday, April 19, 2008

1770 Short Pine Country

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mohonk Mountain House

It was a very warm and beautiful day today and I was feeling lonely and restless, and rebelling against my to-do list. So I went for a drive through the short pine country.

"Short pine country" was Jay's name for the mountains. As you go up, the trees get shorter and shorter, especially the evergreens, which seems a bit excessive, because the mountains aren't really that high around here. And yet up around the Mohonk Mountain House there are actual dwarf pines on the tops of the ridges.

I visited a lot of places that Jay and I used to love, and as the afternoon wore on, I missed him more and more. It's been 7.5 years, and I still miss him. I thought about my current man, and I missed him today too, I had hoped we could get together this weekend, but it was a brief and passing thought because I know he doesn't feel the same as Jay did and I do about the mountains and woods and streams and lakes and falls, and that's where I was today. The new man doesn't fit there. Jay does. Did.

I miss sharing my favorite things with him.

On the way home I decided to stop at a diner Jay and I had frequented. We called it "The Purple Palace", because the decor was a dusty purplish pink and chrome. That's not its real name, but everyone we ever mentioned it to knew exactly where we meant. They had the best Greek salad in the area. I haven't been there in ages.

It changed. I don't know when. It's now red and gray, with less chrome, and I didn't see Greek salad on the menu. It kind of pushed it home again that Jay is gone.

Yeah, I'm a bit down today, and I'm not sure why.

1769 Gender Sensitive

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Marge Simpson: We can't afford to shop at any store that has a philosophy.


Last week I posted about my annoyance when people are overly sensitive and jump to conclude racism where it might not be. This morning I was reading a piece written by a lesbian (nah, I'm not going to link to it) and I was reminded of an incident last summer, at the Maritime Museum.

I was filling in in the gift shop, and having trouble with the cash register. It wasn't totaling up correctly, and the cash drawer had a weird combination of change.

A couple came in. One was a woman in her early fifties, very feminine. She deferred to her companion, who was probably late thirties, and who was very affectionate toward and protective of her. I couldn't figure out if the companion was male or female. It was weird.

I've never been confused before. I can spot transvestites unfailingly. I don't have trouble until we move into the transsexual realm, when they start messing with hormones, but even then, the brow and jawline is often a clue. You can't change bones that easily. I once had a whole theater full of people pissed with me when we went to that movie where the big twist at the end is that the beautiful woman the man falls in love with turns out to be a man (can't remember the name of the movie, it was like 20 years ago when stuff like that was shocking [Later: a commenter has reminded me it was "The Crying Game"]), and everybody in the world was so careful not to tell the ending because it's so shocking, and five minutes into the movie I turned to my companion and whispered "That's a man. Why do they have a male actor in that role?" Half the theater turned and scowled at me.

Anyhow, identifying people as to age, race, gender, is something your brain sort of does on autopilot, and you get a glitch when it can't.

The couple explored the museum, then came back out and explored the gift shop. At some point, something, I don't remember what, clued me in that the companion was a woman.

I have no problem with that. I'm all for affection, love, commitment wherever one finds it, and these two were obviously happy. That's nice. I was just relieved that I'd figured it out. (Remember SNL's "Pat"?)

Anyhow, they bought some stuff, the companion put some cash on the counter, the cash register sneezed, and I had to total it up by hand and figure out the best change from the slim pickings in the drawer. I counted it out in a pile on the counter, switching a few bills and coins as I found a combination that would still leave me usable cash (a drawer full of just 20s and dimes is not usable). When I had it all together, I pushed the pile across the counter to the companion.

She was absolutely furious because I didn't put the money directly into her hand. She tore into me, saying that putting the money on the counter instead of into her hand was extremely disrespectful, that I was extremely rude in avoiding physical contact with her, and on and on. She really blasted me. I was speechless. All I could say was that I was sorry, I'd had no clerk training and didn't know there was a protocol, didn't know that was important, ok, now I know.

It really shook me. The amount of venom was scary.

I think she was oversensitive, and saw disrespect where there was none. She's creating her own stress.

Friday, April 18, 2008

1768 Cure for Type 2 Diabetes?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Read this article:

Apparently it has been known since the '50s that insulin/blood sugar is regulated by the first foot or so of the small intestine, and that bypassing that section of intestine (the duodenum and jejunum) cures type 2 diabetes. They are not exactly sure why it works, what the insulin regulation process is, but it seems to have been well known for a long time that the surgery does work.

It hasn't been promoted as a cure because resectioning is serious surgery. (But, hey, people die of diabetes. That's serious, too. Last time I checked, anyway....) I suspect (this is me speculating) that the reason is that type 2 diabetes can often be controlled with diet and lifestyle changes, so that's the first choice (and it's cheaper), and then by the time it's apparent that diet and exercise and meds aren't working, the damage to major organs and systems is done, and the surgery is no longer feasible.

Twenty five patients have undergone a new surgery where instead of resection, they insert (some kind of) bypass tube, and it works as well with much less risk. Immediate remission of type 2 diabetes. Boom. Done.

Read the article.

1767 Friday Bits

Friday, April 18, 2008

Preserve wildlife - pickle a squirrel.


Kitty Update - I suspect that Jasper had his first birthday sometime in the past few weeks. He has tripled in size since I captured him last June. I think he's about 12 lb. now, and it's mostly muscle. I had thought he was going to be a very small cat, because he had itty bitty teeny tiny little paws. He still has itty bitty teeny tiny little paws, but with a big hulking teenaged boy body balanced on top. Looks weird.


Observation: "Freedom" is the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action. "License" is a freedom that is used with or allows irresponsibility, or disregard for rules of personal conduct. Too many people confuse the two. They think freedom automatically confers license.


The Hairless Hunk is out there spreading topsoil in the cleared woods, to level it out. It's 80 degrees, and he's not wearing a shirt. Terribly distracting.... Excuse me while I go supervise some more.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

1766 Ladies Only

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Any males reading this please hit "Back" now. Thank you.


This is a warning for any other women who happen to stumble across it.

It's not uncommon for a gland or pore or whatever on the inner or outer labia to get blocked. You get a swelling. Sometimes they can quickly get pretty big and painful. Doctors will tell you not to poke at them, to use hot or cold compresses and wait, and eventually it will resolve itself.

I never had one of those, exactly, I guess. What I had was a tiny very hard knot on the base of the top of the clitoral hood. It was just a small buried bead, and didn't hurt. I wondered what it was, and asked the doctor, and she said blocked pore, ignore it, or I could try the hot and cold if I wanted.

I ignored it.

Over the next few years it grew slowly. This past year it grew fairly rapidly, to the size of a large pea.

It still didn't hurt, but the problem it caused was kind of funny. Given its position, and its firmness, it caused some, um, navigation problems for anyone travelling by touch through the neighborhood. The mental reset is quick, but it does cause brief confusion.

So the other night I decided to take another good look at it. Yup, there's a visible pore, that seems a bit enlarged. Hmm. What if I press a little from underneath, toward that pore? Whoa! That worked! What if I press a little more?

Well, I managed to express the entire contents of the bump, and here's the really weird part. It was entirely baby powder! Baby powder mixed with perhaps a little oil. Immediately recognizable as baby powder from the appearance, texture, and scent! Some of it perfectly preserved for years, I guess.

I use baby powder on the tops of my thighs and in a line up the back crease to prevent chafing and heat rash.

I had read a long time ago that talc is frequently found in ovarian cysts. After all, unless our tubes are tied, we are completely open to the outside, right into the abdominal cavity. Now I'm wondering if I should ever use powder at all.

1765 More stuff I don't understand

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ralph Waldo Emerson: There is nothing wrong with having nothing to say --- unless you insist on saying it.


The old title of this journal was "I Don't Understand". I changed it when I moved it. I shouldn't have. I still don't understand.

I don't understand why people use words with sexual connotations or meanings to express anger, or to demean or disparage something. I understand religious references better. Like, one is asking God to consign something to Hell on our behalf. That at least makes some twisted sense.

So, a woman is sitting next to a man who is watching sports on TV with his buddies, and he's yelling things at the teams, and it's f---ing this and f---ing that, and other words for other acts, as if DOING that kind of stuff is the nastiest thing ever, that no good person would ever do that, or allow it to be done to them, and then that evening he wants to do that very thing to her? Or wants her to do things that are (from all appearances, to hear him talk) even worse, to him? How can he both like it, and consider it the worst thing you can do to someone else?

There's a disconnect there. Either it's good, or it's bad.

Thinking about it today because of a reality show I've been watching, where the guys, mid- to late-twenties I guess, can't get out a sentence without using the f-word.


I've been reading Michael J. Totten's dispatches from Iraq.

Another disconnect. What he is saying doesn't seem to jive with what we hear and read in the news. I have difficulty understanding how both versions can be true.


More GPS-isms. It's confused as to where I live.

About ten years ago or so, much of the local area got new addresses for enhanced 911 service.

Prior to then, most of us had rural delivery addresses, like "RD #5 Box 38", where "38" was the number on the mailbox at the end of the driveway, and RD #5 might be 30 miles long. No one except the mailman could find your house given that address. It was handy, because you could give out your mailing address without worrying about some stranger showing up at your door.

It led to a slight schizophrenia. If you wanted the house found (friends, UPS, store deliveries, utility service, etc.) then you had to give the street address, like "38 Woodward Drive".

When they renumbered our street, my new address changed from RD #5 Box 38/38 Woodward Drive (not my real address) to just plain 86 Woodward Drive, both house address and mailing address. Some people got a street name for the first time ever, some got their street name changed. It was a mess for a while.

The idea was that when you call 911 from your home phone, the address shows up on the screen, and the ambulances and fire trucks use that address with GPS to locate the house. That's what we taxpayers were told, to justify the enormous cost associated with renumbering the entire county. Sounds good, except for two problems.

A lot of people don't have "home" phones any more. They are entirely cellular. The address doesn't show up.

Secondly, GPS is still using the old numbers! That blows my mind. If you ask Google maps, Mapquest, or any GPS device to show the location of my house, it points to the OLD box 86 on Woodward Drive, the location of 86 before renumbering. It's been at least ten years.

What has to be updated, and who is responsible for doing that?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

1764 This or Next?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Me: "There is negative perfectionism and positive perfectionism. Negative perfectionism is based on a fear of inadequacy. Positive perfectionism strives for mastery."


The Man and I have run into the "this Friday"/"next Friday" interpretation problem, and we laugh about it. I was amused to find a blogger in Jordan (I think) addressing the same confusion. I guess it's a worldwide problem. Given the ramifications, perhaps it's the root of the current worldwide recession. I don't know how the world can do business when half the world thinks "next Friday" is "this Friday" (or not, I'm still confused).

Here's how it goes - if today is Tuesday, the 1st of the month, and I say we'll get together "this Friday", then almost everybody understands that I mean Friday, the 4th.

But if I say "next Friday", half the world thinks I mean Friday the 4th, and half thinks I mean Friday the 11th.

And everybody, no matter which way they go, has (what they see as) a perfectly logical reason for their position, and see no reason to change their opinion.

Those who interpret "next Friday" as the 4th argue that it's "the next Friday after today, that's what next means (you idiot)."

Those who interpret "next Friday" as the 11th argue that "If I meant this Friday, I'd have said this Friday (you idiot)."

Where The Man and I have run into the problem is when he says on Monday, "We'll go to Maryland next weekend", and I interpret that to mean the next weekend, and he means the weekend after next, because the next weekend in his mind is this weekend. But in this case, wouldn't "this weekend", meaning next weekend, sound odd? I don't know what the heck he'd call it on Sunday.

There's no way to write the above paragraph to make it make sense, and therein lies the problem.

I guess people figure if it's in this week, then it's "this", and if it's in next week, then it's "next".

It all came to the forefront today, when I sent The Man a note in which I mentioned the past Monday. "Past" is easy. But by the above this week/next week logic, isn't last Monday actually "this" Monday? And if this Friday isn't next Friday, what is the Monday after the coming weekend? Is it this Monday or next Monday?

The Man and I now use actual dates.

(Oh, and don't get me started on people who start saying "today" at midnight. Hey, it isn't "today" until after I've slept. Until I've slept, your today is my tomorrow! So if I say tomorrow at 5 minutes after midnight, I mean less than 24 hours from now!)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

1763 Bits

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Andy Rooney: "Computers make it easier to do a lot of things, but most of the things they make it easier to do don't need to be done."


At the 1994 Cambridge Mensa Annual Gathering, the now-defunct Creative Mischief group did a re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party. They dressed themselves in trash bags filled with leaves and jumped into the Charles River.


Tax day. I haven't heard from The Angel or Piper. I assume my taxes will be filed, but they haven't called me to sign anything, which is probably ok if they're filing electronically, but they haven't called me to review anything either, which is not ok, even if they are filing electronically. I'm not going to call though. I'm sure they'll be getting a lot of calls today. I'm concerned, but not upset. Whatever happens, it'll be ok, or they'll fix it. Or else.


I was shopping for tweezers in the pharmacy, and found some right next to the false glue-on fingernails. I happened to notice that several of the packages of nails looked odd - they had a foot on the box instead of a hand. False toenails! I can't believe it! How demented are we?


A friend has expressed surprise that I'm using the GPS, since he knows that I like to wander back roads trying to get lost, and then enjoy finding my way home again. I'm very good at it. I don't navigate by roads. I use topography and a compass (actually, the sun). I know there's a river here, and mountains there, and a ridge over here, and the relationship of the main roads to those features, and so I have a fair idea where I am all the time.

I went for a drive this afternoon, took some roads I'd never been on before. The GPS was on, but since I hadn't set a destination, it was just tracking me. At one point I looked up at it, and was amused to find the little car traveling through a solid white field. No roads indicated.

I got the GPS lost! (Giggle.)

Monday, April 14, 2008

1762 An Engineer's Guide to Cats

Monday, April 14, 2008


1761 Yee Ha !!!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Steve Wozniak, Newsweek 2/19/96: I read the papers to find out who I am, so I can be it.


If you enjoy this, you might understand why this little old middle class cultured pacifist loves me a good demolition derby. (Growing up in Pennsylvania may have something to do with it too, I guess.)


Sunday, April 13, 2008

1760 No Excuse

Sunday, April 13, 2008

African Proverb: It matters not what you call me, but what I answer to.


I went to a luncheon today, and on the way home I had some fun with the GPS. I knew exactly how I wanted to go home, but the device wanted to take me up the Thruway. I didn't want to go on the Thruway, so I didn't take the turn. The supercilious voice informed me she was "recalculating", and she tried to take me to a U-turn back to the Thruway - three different U-turns, because I didn't take any of them, either.

Now, I could have turned it off, but it started to be fun. I wondered how long it would take her to give up. Since I was paralleling the Thruway, she kept trying to get me onto it, and got upset every time I refused.


On the way, I passed the yellow house.

I go to a lot of the big fancy craft fairs, and there was a local guy who made tiny models of well-known local historic houses out of tiny bits of carved wood. He took pictures of the real houses, and then copied them. They were sturdy and beautiful, perfect down to the smallest detail, and if you lifted the roof off a house, it was a tiny velvet-lined box.

A few years before my mother died, I gave her several of the tiny houses for her birthday, each wrapped separately. Most of them were fancy mulit-colored Victorians with towers, but one was a rather plain white-trimmed yellow house with a wrap-around porch, multiple gables, and white gingerbread. She opened the gift boxes one at a time, and the yellow house happened to be the last.

She was shocked speechless by that house. When she could speak again, she asked me why?/where?/how? I had chosen it. I told her I knew it didn't match the others, but I picked it because it was on a road I frequently traveled, and it was one I was familiar with.

It turned out that all her life, since childhood, she had had dreams involving a particular house. Whatever else went on in the dream, the action took place on the sloping lawn, with the house in the background.

It was this house.

She had never been in this area, never on that road.


Ok, maybe I'll get in trouble for this one, but it's real, and mine, so there.

There was a show on PBS today about how stress affects health, the eventual focus being on how racism creates constant stress, affecting even things like a high rate of premature births among Black and Hispanic mothers.

Ok, I buy that.

Then there was a group of mothers talking about how even little things affect them, lifelong, like when they take their child to the playground, and their 3-year-old runs up to a group of white children playing, and asks to play with them, and the other kids don't say anything, they just turn and run away, and how such racist attitudes can affect even a 3-year-old.

My immediate reaction was "Bullshit!" I wish I'd had such a convenient excuse when MY blond 3-year-old got exactly the same treatment!

That just happens. When a group of little girls are already playing together, they don't open up to admit a latecomer unless they already know her. That's just the way it is. Color may or may not have had anything to do with it, and there's a fair chance it didn't.

I get really really upset when people immediately jump to assume racism. That's racist, too!

Later: BTW, before objecting to my observation, take a good look at the photo up there on the top right.