Thursday, May 08, 2008

1801 Possible Hiatus

Thursday, May 8, 2008

There's a bunch of things happening and I'm going to be very busy for a few days. Not like anyone would actually worry, but, well, don't worry if I don't post for a while. I'll be back.

1800 Grass!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Grass! I've got grass!

The Hunk had finished grading the side yard, and had spread grass seed on the front half. He wanted to water it, but my water pressure isn't good enough. So he wanted to spread straw, but I said no, because it would then have to be raked up, and that's a pretty large area. So the grass seed just lay there on the ground. The Hunk was very pessimistic as to its chances, and worried because it was a few hundred dollars worth of seed. I assured him that Nature would do her thing, if the turkeys didn't eat the seed first. We had a little rain, off and on, but as of Tuesday, two days ago, the seed all still lay there. I examined it closely, and it looked like the Hunk might be right. No sprouting whatsoever.

Today there's grass! Real grass! Not just a little here and there, either. It's thick, and as long as my little finger! It's like magic! I didn't look as closely yesterday as on Tuesday, but I swear there was nothing visible yesterday.

I checked the back half, where I had spread the wildflower seeds, and there's still no action, but I have more hope now.

About two years ago, in a fit of rebellion against Roman, who had said something nasty about lawn flamingos, I bought a wholesale lot of about 30 of the freakin' things in a variety of sizes and poses. At the time, I couldn't put them in the lawn because the guys who mow would have to remove and replace them. I thought about putting them in the woods along the driveway, but the undergrowth got so thick they'd disappear. So they're sitting in boxes in the basement.

Ahah! The section of the graded woods where I planted the wildflowers will be perfect for a flock of flamingos! Peeking between the trees. Flowers to their knees. Visible to visitors from the top of the driveway. Pure kitsch! Competition for the turkeys!

When the Hunk sees it, he'll crack up. He already thinks I'm funny.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

1799 Up and Down Wednesday

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I had another of those long lunches with Piper today. I took Clyde, the Pleo, so he could meet him, and during the course of the afternoon The Angel, Jim, and Vinnie stopped by, either at the office or at the restaurant, so they got to meet him, too.

I am amused at how different people have such different reactions to Clyde. It's almost always a different reaction than I would expect from that person.

This afternoon I got a call from Jay's eldest sister. Jay's father has had a series of strokes, and he isn't able to swallow. Today is his 91st birthday. They haven't yet decided what direction to go in treatment, but all agree he'd be a lot happier at home, no matter what else is decided.

He already has three live-in caregivers, so as soon as they can be trained in the new requirements of his care, he'll go home. We've agreed that the day after the transfer, I should go to visit.

Distance is our enemy here. The father lives in Rochester, NY, the eldest daughter is just south of Washington, DC, the next daughter lives near Boston, and the third daughter lives about 40 minutes south of me. So it's ironic that I, the daughter-in-law, despised wife of the deceased son, is actually, at five+ hours' drive, the closest.

I've been out of the loop for a long time. Looks like I'll be getting back in. But he always liked me (when he figured out who I was). Maybe I can do some good, finally.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

1798 The Mensa "Type"

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

If you want to know where this all came from, what set me off, read the immediately previous post, where I document a few things that happened at a M3nsa gathering in Maryland.
I mentioned in a prior post (well, many prior posts) how M3nsa folk in general tend to have little common sense, and how impatient I get with them.

What I am about to say absolutely does not apply to all, and possibly not even most. I suspect that the "normal" folks in M3nsa are rarely seen. I suspect that there's a certain Type that is active, considers M3nsa to be their family (that phrase does turn up a lot), attends as many gatherings as they can, and that Type defaults to representing the group.

The Type:
  • Refuses to read instructions or labels (Like "Emergency Off" on the Jacuzzi button). If they can't just dive in and do what they figure should work, then the thingy is obviously no good, because if it were good, it would work they way they would have designed it.
  • Refuses to listen to any opinion that disagrees with their own opinion.
  • Interrupts lecturers, even though the speaker has repeatedly said there would be a Q&A period at the end, to the point where there's no time for the Q&A at the end.
  • Attempts to "trap" speakers, if only to demonstrate that they know more about the speaker's topic than the speaker himself.
  • Is of the opinion that appearance doesn't matter, so does not style his or her hair or wear makeup or deodorant, does not coordinate clothing, and tends to live in jeans and T-shirts with writing on them, usually esoteric scientific puns.
  • Feels superior when people don't "get" their T-shirts.
  • Feels superior in general.
  • Believes that if one is not a member of M3nsa, then one "is not intelligent". I have actually heard this many times. They always look confused when I ask, "When did you join? And were you stupid before you joined?"
  • Are morbidly obese, and don't seem to know it. They have serious ankle, knee, and breathing problems, and don't associate them with their weight. At the gatherings, they rent scooters to get around the hotel, and the baskets on the front of the scooters are full of candy and munchies, which they eat constantly, even crinkling packages and crunching loudly during the lectures. When they need surgery, because they came down wrong on an ankle simply walking, or need a knee replaced, other M3nsans are sympathetic. (I'm not.)
  • Are living hand-to-mouth, some because they are so obese they are on disability, some because they make poor financial decisions, some because they can't hold a job - usually because they can't get along with their "inferior" coworkers - and some because they refuse to do work that's beneath them and can't find work "worthy of their talents", so they don't work at all.
  • Makes loud squealing noises when anyone offers them chocolate. I'm serious. The gatherings always have a one-hour Chocolate Orgy on Saturday afternoon, offering a chocolate fountain and a multitude of chocolate concoctions, and it's a wildebeest migration when the doors open, complete with the grunting and bleating. You don't want to be walking down the hall in the opposite direction. I've seen people come out of the door balancing plates carefully stacked six inches high.
  • Can't work in committees because they know they're always right. They go to all the gatherings they can, and they attend local events, but most don't contribute much to the workings in the group. And yet, they are always the first to complain when things aren't done the way they would have done it.
  • My man (whom I met at a gathering, incidentally) complains that he can't engage them in conversation. You ask a question of The Type, and you'll get a long and exhaustive monologue in reply, and when he's finished, he'll turn around and walk away. Like he thinks you asked the question just to learn from him. (Actually, I have a bit of that, too. I'm not comfortable with social chitchat.)

It wasn't always like that. Back in the seventies, when I joined in Washington, DC, that type existed, but was definitely in the minority. They seem to be taking over. Perhaps it's just that the more sensible and better socialized types are not attending gatherings any more, because of the preponderance of the ... uh ... superiority slobs? I know I'm getting turned off. The last three gatherings I've attended have had me wondering why I was there. There are a few reasonable people, here and there, but they're getting scarce.

How do people get to be like that? They constantly reassure themselves and each other how superior they are. Hey! It was a test! Just a test! You did well on a test! It might be the only thing you've ever done well on. Just look at yourselves, take a good long look! You're not, N-O-T, superior! You have some abilities. But everybody has some abilities, talents, gifts. Yours aren't all that special.
How do people get to be like that?

Perhaps it's because they grew up when IQ tests and educational "tracking", gifted classes, were all the rage. Perhaps they'd been told since infancy that they were gifted, extraordinary, superior, and when they had problems it was just that "ordinary" people didn't understand how advanced, how wonderful, how gifted, they were.

I grew up before tests and tracking. My father made sure I and my siblings understood how stupid and worthless we all were. I'm not kidding. It was pretty bad. I changed schools every few months as a child, and so no teachers ever got to know me. By the seventh grade I was legally blind, at 20/350, but no one realized it, so despite my high score on standardized tests, I was so lost in classes that I was placed in the slow group in Ottawa, Canada, where they did do tracking. I have an unnamed learning disability, which causes difficulty in orientation. I have a terrible memory, and I tend to focus so intently on things that I miss a lot of what's going on around me. So, despite the fact that my scores are higher than 9/10 of the rest of M3nsa, I don't have that feeling of superiority. Mostly, I feel a little lost.

I am fully aware of all the things I don't know, and those things seem more important than the things I do know.

I do notice and do comment on the stupidity of things I find in the news and on the internet and TV, but I am fully aware that most people notice those things. There's nothing special in that. The only way I'm special in that regard is that it seems to bother me more.

(My latest bears are "site" when they mean "sight", and "peak" when they mean "peek". That kind of confusion causes a short circuit in my brain, because with the learning disability, I read very literally, and that's a hitch in my git-along, and hurts my head.)


June 9, 2011 - I changed the title of this post and edited it a bit because it was attracting more notice than was comfortable. Unfortunately, it's still out there in cache. Checking to see if it would still turn up in searches, I found this: The comments are especially funny, like " people quit M3nsa very quickly when they realize paying a substantial annual fee gets them virtually nothing but the chance to stand around at informal gatherings with a lot of underemployed whiners who constantly complain that the world refuses to recognize their brilliance". Oh, yeah!

Monday, May 05, 2008

1797 Home Again, and Leery of Raccoon Poop

Monday, May 5, 2008

I mapped out my own route home yesterday. Rather than take the GPS-recommended route through Pennsylvania, I dropped down to the DC beltway, swung up past Baltimore and across the Delaware Memorial Bridge (dedicated to war dead. Isn't it odd that the name doesn't say what it's a memorial to? I wondered if it was anticipating the demise of Delaware), and then up the NJ turnpike. It wasn't as direct, but it took an hour less than Friday's route.

Saturday in the hospitality room I was sitting next to a guy who was talking about how GPS devices work, and I mentioned that in lower Manhattan, downtown, the signals are purposely blocked. He snorted at me and said it was not on purpose, that the buildings simply cause the signals to bounce.

Now, I'll grant that there's a possibility he's correct. But there's also a possibility he's not. I tried to tell him that it worked just fine in the canyons of midtown, and in the area where it didn't work downtown we were not in canyons - the nearest buildings on the right were at least three hundred feet away, and on the left was the Hudson river, completely open - so bouncing didn't seem likely, especially a bounce that would put the car three blocks inland from where it actually was.

I was not arguing. I was simply presenting my personal experience, and what I'd been told by someone whom I believe. Input to consider. But he turned his back and refused to listen.

He really really pissed me off the way he simply dismissed me. He was so damn cocksure. Some Mensans do that. They are so sure they're right that they won't listen to or think about any other possibilities. He made no attempt to consider or integrate what I said.

I don't mind being corrected. I do mind being ignored.

Sometimes these folks have no sense.

Friday night at the Jacuzzi, there were about 8 people sitting on the edge with their legs in the water, and 5 fully in the water when I arrived. They didn't have the bubbles on, and I asked why, and they said that it wasn't working right, and it was too loud for conversation. Someone else said let's try it again anyway, for a few minutes. So one of the women went over and turned the dial, then hit the big red button on the wall next to the dial, "to turn it on". It didn't go on. She tried three or four times before someone pointed out that the red button was the emergency cutoff.

So she finally got the thing going, and there're no bubbles. The water level was too high, over the air intake holes, so air was not getting mixed in. Folks complained. The lifeguard came over and said that the max was six people in the water for it to work right. The Mensans counted - we've got six in the water, so duh?

I felt so sorry for the lifeguard when he realized what he'd said. The look on his face was priceless. I knew what he wanted to say, but couldn't. I wanted to say it, too, and couldn't. At least four of the six in the water were close to or well over 400 pounds each. They really didn't seem to notice what the problem was. They decided there was too much water in the pool, and turned it off.


Sometimes I wonder why I go to these things.


Actually, there was a presentation on Sunday morning that almost made it all worthwhile. It was a guy who works for the Smithsonian, and frequently works with the national zoo (which is run by the Smithsonian) on occupational safety. He talked about the dangers faced by the animal handlers.

He didn't have handouts because it was supposed to be a powerpoint presentation, and we could take notes. The organizers provided a laptop with a projector hookup. In typical Mensa fashion, no one thought to ask what software was needed on the laptop. It didn't have powerpoint. (This is usual, that Mensans seem to assume that "everyone has what I have" and "nobody needs what I don't have". Like when our local guy edited the ByLaws with a proprietary application, and didn't seem to understand what was wrong with that. He liked it, therefore everyone should have it.)

So anyhow, the Smithsonian guy did the presentation with no photos, foils, flipcharts, or handouts, and still managed to make it interesting.

Zoos are crawling with weird diseases. There's some breed of monkey (I forget) that carries a herpes virus that doesn't bother them much at all, but is 100% fatal to humans. They need to be penned in such a way that they can't escape, and can't spit, poop, or piddle on the public, because the virus can enter through the skin. When the handlers enter the compound, they have to wear hazardous materials suits. Having these monkeys costs a fortune in liability insurance. (No one asked why a zoo would want to have them, but the National Zoo is heavily involved in conservation and breeding programs, so I guess that's why.)

Elephants carry TB. Their skin is too thick for the tine test, so they teach the elephants to suck up water and slosh it up and down in their trunks and then squirt it into a beaker for testing. The elephants like to do it.

The zoo doesn't have raccoons (I don't think) but wild raccoons are always entering the compounds from Rock Creek Park. They know where the good food is. Now, this part scared me. It's shocking, and I don't know why we've never heard about it before.

80% of racoons carry a particular type of roundworm in their intestines. Their feces contain roundworm eggs, which become infectious after drying for 30 days. If a human ingests the eggs, the roundworms grow in the intestines, but unlike in the raccoon, they penetrate the intestines and migrate throughout the body, including the eyes and brain, causing irreparable damage.

Ok, I'm not likely to eat raccoon feces. But it gets scarier.

If you breathe in the eggs, he said, the eggs can lodge and hatch in the upper nasal passages, and the larvae migrate directly to the brain, where they form a mass that crowds and kills the brain. Nobody knew that could happen until a recent case of a man who ran over raccoon feces while mowing his lawn.

At this point the audience erupted. 80%? The raccoons in my back yard? Why have we never heard of this before?

Apparently infection is more rare than one would think. Raccoons don't normally poop out in the open. They tend to go next to or under downed and rotting logs in the woods, and in brush piles. So as long as you don't handle raccoons or kick or lick rotting logs, you're unlikely to contact the eggs.

Uh, the places where raccoons poop sound a lot like the places geocachers plant their caches. Could this be a problem for geocachers Daughter and Hercules?

And when a raccoon is run over on the road, um, thirty days later is the roadside full of ripe eggs ready to be breathed?

And if this is all true, why is infection so rare? Is it possible that it's just not diagnosed?


The Smithsonian guy also talked about various diseases and dangers with other animals, from cats to reptiles. If you think toxoplasmosis in a housecat is a problem, consider the tiger. And the one company that made coral snake antivenom stopped making it, so you'd better not get bitten. And black-footed ferrets cannot be tamed. And you never look a male gorilla in the eye. And no matter how "tame" a wild animal can be, they have very strong instincts that can be triggered by the most innocent actions. And there's a breed of American squirrel that hates vipers, and has learned to increase the temperature in its tail, so that flicking the tail around allows it to confuse the snake long enough that the squirrel can bite the snake in the back of the neck and kill it, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi style.

So some of the weekend was interesting....

Sunday, May 04, 2008

1796 A Linen Complaint

A quick complaint. I'm getting good at complaining. Is that a function of age?

I've been staying in hotels a lot lately. They all have a notice that to conserve water and energy, etc., towels will be replaced only if you leave them on the floor, bed linens will be changed only if you put the request card on the pillow. "If you wish to participate in this program, hang up your towels...".

I don't mind reusing towels or linens, so I hang the towels up, and I don't put the card on the pillow. In fact, if I'm staying more than one night, I make the bed before I leave for the day.

In every case, they replace my towels anyway! And they usually change the sheets.

I've never had the housekeeping staff leave my used towels for my reuse.

Why? Are they just pretending to conserve?

It's annoying.

1795 Gaithersburg 2

After midnight, Saturday night, Sunday morning, May 3-4, 2008

Is it today, tomorrow, or yesterday? I'm so confused. I'm also very tired.

I got to sleep at about 2:30 am on Friday night/Saturday morning, after the pool party, a stint in the hospitality room, futzing around on the laptop, and reading in bed. That would have been ok - the first session I wanted to attend was at 10:30 am - but I'm in one of those "adjoining rooms", you know, with the door in the wall connecting two rooms? The door is locked and barred, but it's not soundproof, and the people next door got up at 5 am. Repeat, 5 am. And they talked non-stop, at a higher than normal volume. I couldn't believe the talking. Long monologues. It was almost like they were rehearsing a presentation or something.

At one point I said, in a normal tone, from my bed, "Could you lower the volume, please?", and I guess they heard me, because they did get quieter for a few minutes, but then it went back up, and they kept it up until 9 am. I was very frustrated.

Even if the neighbors were quiet I'm not sure I would have slept very well. Something with sirens - police, ambulance, fire trucks, who knows what else - goes by about every hour. The hotel is on a major intersection, so they blast the sirens as they approach. I'm just not used to that. I used to love this area, but I don't think I could stand the noise and traffic it has acquired in the past 30 years.

So I was tired all day today. Dragging.

I did go visit my old house - the one in the planned community. I would never have found it without the GPS. What had been all farmland and winding 2-lane roads is now all built up, huge office parks and malls, and houses, and 4-6 lane roads. There were no landmarks left.

I wouldn't have recognized Churchill. Twenty-five years ago it was all new dirt, bare, twiggy young trees and a hole where the lake was supposed to be. Now it's actually beautiful. The trees have grown up, the houses are literally tucked into a forest, the lake glints through the trees. I remember the day I took a pick axe to the front yard and planted a young 8' dogwood, which I then had to nurse through a bout of some kind of nasty black beetle. That dogwood is now huge, and was blossoming today. I'm proud of her.

I didn't call my friends to set something up. I don't know why. I just felt pretty tired. I convinced myself that it was because if I called Danny I'd have to call Caroline W., and if I called Caroline W. I'd have to call Carolyn K., and there just wasn't time to see all of them, so I can't see any of them.

Actually, I'm just tired and bloated and uncomfortable. And a little depressed. At least I got to visit Gettysburg and the old house, and that's good enough for now.

The guy who flirted last night flirted some more today. It's flattering, but I never know what to do with stuff like that. He's really nice looking, and DRINKS TEA!, so I flirted back a little, but I didn't step over the barrier. I have me a man now that I'd like to keep, but I wish there were some way to put guys in a freezer for just in case, you know?

Oh, and I skipped the jacuzzi tonight. I seem to have picked up something yucky last night. Some other woman must have shared a little too much in too little chlorine. Bleck. I should have known better. Oh well, just a little something else to add to the depression.