Saturday, June 14, 2008

1855 I am invisible.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The more hits you get on a search engine (like Google), the higher you move up in the search list, and the more likely you are to get hit again.

I moved this blog 10.5 months ago. Before I moved it, I was getting search hits at the rate of about seven a day, which was interesting because I had only maybe 15 regular readers.

After moving, I blocked searches for the first several months. I was hiding from local folks who would have known some keywords that might get them straight here. That pushed me way back down in the search rankings.

I seem to be still invisible.

I like that.

1854 My Basement Is Cool!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I've got an antique Harley in my basement! I'm sitting here wondering who I can call and freak out.

Actually, it isn't mine. It'll be gone by Monday afternoon.

I was going through the village this morning on my way to the recycle center, and I saw a (tall and very handsome, but that has nothing to do with it) black guy in full leathers sitting on a Harley, stopped in an odd spot on the side of the road, looking very consternated.

Coming back from recycling, I passed him again, a block down from the first spot, in front of the Stewarts, pacing back and forth and talking on a cell phone.

So I got to thinking. If The Man were broken down in the village, it might be a bit difficult for him to get help, being twice a stranger, so I turned around and went back, and asked if he needed anything. He belongs to a Harley club that, like AAA, will send assistance, tow, etc., so he thought he'd be ok. Someone was going to come and take the motorcycle to a shop in Kingston. We chatted a bit, and I left him my number just in case. He said he'd call and let me know when he was sure he was ok.

Pretty soon I got a call. The Kingston tow guy arrived, but they don't work on antiques, so they wanted to take it to Woodstock, and the biker, who is from Westchester, thought that was too far away, so he asked me if I knew of anyone who would allow him to store it in a garage or shed or something until he could pick it up on Monday.

I've got a sliding glass door to the basement. They brought it in a big trailer. So, I have a big black antique Harley in my basement. How cool is that?

I've been on the phone with his wife (phooey!), giving her directions to the Stewarts so she can come and pick him up.

Friday, June 13, 2008

1853 Annoying Call, Annoying Law

Friday, June 13, 2008

Every morning for the past two weeks, about an hour before I intended to wake up, my phone rang. I'd rouse and look at the screen to see who it was. It said "Donor Care Center". Not an emergency, they can leave a message, so I'd roll over and attempt, usually unsuccessfully, to go back to sleep. They never left a message. My anger grew.

This afternoon the phone rang, and it said "Donor Care Center" on the screen. Wow. I'd finally find out who these idiots are.

I wish I hadn't answered, and I never will again.

It was that charity that I have in the past supported with donations. Their favorite way to canvass used to be to get someone to volunteer to go door to door in the neighborhood. I think their idea is that when it's a neighbor asking you for a donation, you'd be embarrassed not to donate.

In my experience, it doesn't work.

I canvassed on foot, yearly, door to door, in my St. Louis neighborhood 26 through 29 years ago, partly because my daughter had been born with a congenital heart defect, and this charity had helped with transportation.

I'd see curtains move. But no one would open the door. The word spread around by telephone, so people could pretend to not be home, or in the shower. You could hear kids being shushed behind the closed door. I know the calls were made because when I got home, Ex#2 would tell me that a neighbor had called our house to warn us, "...pass it on."

About 25 years ago, they changed tactics, and now they get a volunteer to mail notes and envelopes to the neighbors, who then send the donation back to the volunteer. They send the volunteer a packet, with names and addresses of neighbors, informational inserts, envelopes to send requests to the neighbors, and blue envelopes in which the donations were to be returned to the volunteer. Since the volunteer would be receiving the checks, again, I guess there was a element of embarrassment-type coercion.

Throughout the '80s and '90s, I did that about every second or third year, through three different moves and neighborhoods. In all of that time, I received ONE return envelope containing a donation. One. Apparently, my neighbors are impervious to embarrassment. Well, somewhat impervious. They avoided my eyes for a month afterward.

When Jay got sick I didn't do it, and the charity eventually stopped calling. I haven't received any blue envelopes from any other neighbors, either.

Well, that's who "Donor Care Center" was. They were looking for someone to do the mailing for my neighborhood. I tried to politely refuse, I tried to tell the woman that I found it too emotionally draining, and the second she realized I was saying "no", she started screaming at me, and I'm not exaggerating here, "THIS IS TO SAVE DYING BABIES! BABIES ARE DYING! YOU DON'T WANT TO SAVE BABIES? YOU DON'T WANT TO HELP DYING BABIES? YOU WOULD LET TINY BABIES DIE?"

I couldn't get a word in edgewise. When she finally paused, probably to hear me admit I didn't give a flying damn about dying babies, I said, "Good Grief woman! Get a grip!" She started screaming at me again, and I hung up on her.

I'm not going to answer if I get any other "Donor Care Center" calls. That woman needs help, and it literally scares me that she has my phone number, and probably my address.


A city north of here has passed a law against smoking in any of the city parks, "to protect the children from secondhand smoke." It will be strongly enforced near playgrounds and picnic areas, but they admit it would be difficult to enforce on hiking trails.

Bull poopy! This is outside!

It's not to protect children. They like to pretend it is, but it isn't. If that were their real purpose, they would not allow automobile and truck traffic near parks or schools, and absolutely no idling school buses.

And pull the soda and candy machines out of the schools.


1852 I Cannot Believe It!

Friday, June 13, 2008

My lawn was mowed while I was out yesterday, and the newly seeded grass under the trees got its first mowing. When I came up the driveway, I was impressed by how nice it all looked. It all rolls and flows. It's pretty.

I got a better look this evening.

That section of the back side part of the woods, where I decided not to go with lawn? Where I had spread about $125 worth of wildflower seeds? And planted about 30 flamingos among the trees and the wildflowers? Where the wildflower seeds were coming up nicely? That section?


I am thoroughly utterly absolutely pissed, and the Hairless Hunk is going to hear about it tomorrow. He knew what I was doing with that section. I suspect he didn't do the mowing. I suspect it was one of his summer college minions. But he should have told the kid.

I'm furious!

1851 Swear words

Friday, June 13, 2008

Ack! It's Friday the 13th! Just noticed.

Jon, over at Stuff Christians Like, has this to say about swear words, "They're just words that over the centuries we've given power to. We've assigned them strength and importance and of course a degree of crudeness. But ultimately, they're just words."

I think in a lot of cases he's right, like when you stub your toes and yell "Shit!", or "Damn it!" They are relatively empty. But not all foul language is so easy to forgive. There are some words that, used as swear words, betray an attitude. Like racial or ethnic terms, or words with sexual connotations, used as swear words or insults, or negative descriptors. I find those much more difficult to forgive. They betray an internal attitude I find much more offensive than the mere word.

An aside - I guess that's open to interpretation. Some people have been offended by my use of the word "cop". I call policemen cops. In some people's minds it shows disrespect. The vast majority of policemen are honorable, I respect them, and I'm happy to have them around, and let them know that whenever I see them. "Cop" is derived from the copper buttons worn by London bobbies. It's honorable and historic and not disrespectful at all. I think perhaps the people who don't like the term are confusing "cops" with the 1970s "pigs". Same number of letters, you know.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

1850 Sniper

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I mentioned that The Man's laptop had died, and I was trying to find him a used Dell Inspiron 9100 he could cannibalize. I found a few good ones on eBay. The first auction ended at 5:50 am today.

I didn't want to bid early because there were three "low count" bidders squabbling over it, bidding each other up, and if I put in a maximum bid early, they'd push my bid up. Unnecessary temptation. So I planned to snipe (in eBay talk, that's a bid placed in the last few seconds of an auction).

So I was puttering around last night, and the time got away from me, and suddenly it was 2:30 am. I didn't dare go to bed then, there's no way I'd obey the alarm. There are helper programs out there that will snipe for you, but I'd never tried one before and don't trust them. So I stayed up.

I sniped, and another sniper beat me by 2 seconds and 2 cents! Two cents!

The next suitable auction was four days out, and had already been nibbled past the amount The Man had authorized me to pay. It wasn't looking good.

So I found a "Buy It Now" (no bidding) machine that was listed for only slightly higher than the auctioned machines had been going for*, and came with a guarantee, and I bought it, and went to bed. Slept 'til noon.

This was not one of the ones I had described to The Man. I had originally found several that sounded similar to me, and he had rejected half of them as possibilities. This one was out of left field. I bought the fool thing because I was frustrated, and there was a little wounded pride in there, too, he was depending on me to come through, so it was with some trepidation that I sent him the listing. If it wasn't right, I guess I'd have to turn it around and resell it.

Luckily, his response was "This is exactly the same as mine!" Sometimes the sun shines.

(Look how much thicker it is than a normal laptop.)


* An odd thing - people will search for a particular something they want. They'll find a few for auction, starting at $1 or $10. They'll also find a few "Buy It Now" at around $400. They figure that they can get an auction one for less than the BIN $400, so they forget about the BIN ones.

Then what happens is that the bidding gets hot, and the $1 item shoots to well over $400, and they keep on bidding!

The smart eBayers will watch the auctions, and see what the average item usually goes for. Oddly enough, it's usually right around the average BIN price. They might get into the bidding, but will never bid more than the BIN price. If they can't get an auction item for less than the BIN price, they drop back and simply buy a BIN item.

Sheesh. What's so hard about that? I don't understand folks who get so caught up in the bidding, in the idea that they can beat the system, that they forget they can get the same thing cheaper and faster.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

1849 2007 Taxes

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Boring. Reread that top bar. This whole thing serves as my notes to me, you know (and to keep Daughter apprised as to my sanity).

I finally got my 2007 tax forms from Piper today. I had given him the 2007 folder before mid-April, but The Angel, the CPA, was a bit overwhelmed, so he had applied for an extension for me (I guess he figured it was ok because I am "a friend of the firm". Piper got extended, too). Then they kept promising and promising, and it kept getting put off for one reason after another, but they were aware I was running out of patience, so today they produced.

Angel has already e-filed both federal and state, before I had a chance to review it, which annoys the hell out of me. I wish he wouldn't do that.

It took me about 30 seconds to notice that he hadn't listed my Company retirement as income. I have income from several different sources, but the ones that get their own lines are the SS widow's pension, and the Company retirement, and it's rather obvious when it isn't there. There were two 1099s from The Company in the file I had given him, one was my retirement income, and the other is my (tiny) widow's share of Jay's retirement, and he apparently used the smaller one and dismissed the second much larger one as a copy of the first without looking at it.

Then I looked at the state business sales tax filings, and noticed that I was being charged a $50 penalty for late filing. Bull poopy. I gave him the materials in plenty of time. If it was filed late, The Angel will have to pay the penalty. Piper agreed with me on that.

I am not happy. He's going to have to file an amended return, and I STILL don't have my final numbers.

1848 Old Journals

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I need to start making a list of things that have to be done around here. I walk past the side of the house, and think, "That needs power washing." Then I round the corner and forget. I open the garage door, am knocked back by how packed it is, think "I've got to clean that out!" and forget as soon as I close the door. Multiply that by a gazillion.

I used to be so efficient. I kept a paper "Daily", in which I wrote every evening what had been done that day, kept a running list of all things that needed doing, and planned the next day's tasks every evening. It was very useful, because I could look back and verify exactly when I called who about what, and what the agreement was, everything about everything.

I also kept a paper diary, where I explored thoughts.

That all kind of fell by the wayside when Jay was ill. I kept a different kind of daily then, almost exclusively concerned with him: treatments, medications, therapies, diets, appointments, etc. Whatever non-Jay stuff that needed doing around the house became catch as catch can. I didn't make lists because I didn't want to feel guilty when things didn't get done.

After Jay died, I didn't go back to my former organizational mode, because I was tired, depressed, rebellious, whatever, and then not planning became habit.

I decided today that I need to get a grip. Get organized. Start writing things down and crossing them off. So I went looking through the cabinets for a small notebook to use. Didn't find any blank ones, but I found my old paper diaries.

Wow! I used to think about things! I don't think about things any more. I just react to things that push themselves at me. I'd love to blame the internet for that, but I don't know....

I'll have to think about it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

1847 Dancer

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A piece by one of the local bellydancers, Barushka:


I'm of the opinion that effective use of the arms is one of the most important factors in the dance, and this pretty much supports that opinion.

1846 Odd Thoughts

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

We've hit 100 degrees four days in a row now. The heat is supposed to break when a cold front moves in this evening, which means a storm with "large hail and winds capable of taking down trees and power lines".

I mentally cataloged my trees. The black locusts are all sick from some bug and/or virus that has been killing them, and several are leaning toward the driveway and house. I think I'll move the car to the end of the driveway to ensure I can get out, and I caught myself hoping that if any trees fall, they hit the house.

That's not as weird as it sounds. If they fall and don't hit the house, it will cost me well over $500 per tree to have the remains removed. If they do hit the house, the insurance will pay for having the house repaired, AND having the tree removed.

A few years ago a huge locust (which is VERY heavy wood) was gradually falling over, and was guaranteed to eventually take out the roof over the back bedroom. The estimate to have it cut down by a tree service was $1,000. I tried to get the insurance company to pay for at least part of the removal, on the theory that if it were not removed, the cost to them could be much higher. They refused. I think that's silly.

I was tempted to let it go ahead and hit, but it might be years before the tree fell, and I have some very heavy antique beds, dressers, and screens in that room that I didn't want to risk and couldn't move, so I ended up eating the bill.

So maybe the insurance company was not so silly. That's what they do - they place bets.


There was a notice on the bulletin board in the deli, for an apartment to rent, described as "five minutes to" the college and "seven minutes to" the parkway. I want to know who timed that! And I want them to alert me when they plan to be on the road. No matter what route you take, the college and the parkway are at least 22 minutes apart.


Later - the worst of the storm is to pass north of us.


The Man's laptop (Dell Inspiron 9100 - not so much a laptop as a portable desktop - that thing's heavy and loaded! It's twice as thick as my 1501) sputtered, sizzled, and died yesterday. He can't cope without it, so I've spent a good part of today searching for a decent barely alive one for sale that he can cannibalize. They're rare. And even barely alive they're expensive.

On the other hand, I do love searching for deals....

Monday, June 09, 2008

1845 A/C

Monday, June 9, 2008

It was 97 degrees in Rochester when I left there on Friday. It was 100 degrees here and in NJ Saturday and Sunday. When I got home yesterday, it was 84 degrees in my house.

So I decided when it was already 94 outside by 10 am today that it was time to go through the pain of switching over to the groundwater-based heat pump air conditioning (moving baffles, throwing switches, opening valves, etc.). It was 84 in the house when I got it going. It's been running about five hours, and the temperature is now 85.

Sigh. I suspect the tubes are so full of silt from the well that little water is getting through.

It's probably time to give up and look into conventional A/C. Not a happy thought.

1844 Mensa Jokes

Monday, June 9, 2008

[To strangers who wandered by - I number my posts, and this just happens to be post number 1844.]

Someone was trying to explain to a reporter some of the benefits s/he got out of being in Mensa. One of these benefits was finding people who appreciated the same kinds of humor. When the reporter inquired what kind of humor, the individual used this example:

"Rene Descartes was having a meal at a local restaurant. The waitress came by and asked, 'Would you like some dessert?' Descartes said, 'I think not' and suddenly disappeared."

The reporter just gave the Mensan a blank stare.

(This story about the Mensan and the reporter may or may not be true, but folks like to tell it, it is itself a joke, and that illustrates a second, and not very attractive, nya-nyah, level of Mensa humor.)


Update, 10/29/11 -

This particular post has been visited at least three times a week for the past three years by people all over the continent, most through a search for "Mensa jokes", and yet not one person has left a comment. Hey, no opinions? Are you looking for jokes BY Mensans, or ABOUT Mensans, or Mensa's favorite jokes? What? Why are you here?

I'll tell you a secret. Mensans like all jokes, but there are two types of jokes most Mensans especially appreciate: 1) very bad, painfully lame, puns, especially of a purile purient nature, and 2) any joke that most people don't "get" right away. They like the former because many Mensans tend to be unsophisticated and juvenile, and the latter because "getting" it gives them a feeling of superiority.

By the way, it would never occur to the average Mensan that a blank look doesn't necessarily mean the other person didn't get the joke, but means that they didn't think it was funny. A very large proportion of Mensans are Aspies, who generally have difficulty reading facial expressions, and interpreting the reactions and thinking of others.

(Also by the way, I am qualified to make these observations because I am a life member of Mensa, have been very active in the local group, have attended many national and regional gatherings, and am also a member of Intertel. But I do see the warts. I am not one who thinks high scores are proof of superiority. I do not drink the Kool-Aid. So, you might ask, if I have such a low opinion of Mensa in general, why do I belong? Because most local groups are small, take interesting field trips, have good speakers, and despite my annoyance with many Mensans, in any group of eight there will be two who are interesting, thoughtful, informative, and fun. Ease in finding them makes it all worth it.)

1843 Weekend

Monday, June 9, 2008

I drove home from Rochester on Friday (round trip = $97 in gas!), and then left for NJ on Saturday. Ostensibly I was going to Spring Caravan, but in reality it was to see The Man. He's been working like 16 hour days, big project, and trying to fit in tournament practice, and I knew if it was left to him I wouldn't see him again until the project was over (damn nerd). So Spring Caravan was an excuse. "Hey, I'll be there, driving down Saturday morning, and back home Saturday evening, unless you can get Saturday evening free, and then I'll stay over." He agreed he needed the break. If he hadn't been able to meet me, I doubt that I'd have gone at all.

As proof of my intent, there were five dancers I would have liked to have seen, and I got there too late for two of them, and left to meet the Man for dinner before the others were on, and it didn't bother me at all.

I met him in the bar at a hotel up the road, where we could watch the race. The minute Big Brown came out of the gate, the Man was yelling at the jockey. Horses have different styles, and BB is an end sprinter. The jockey pushed BB into third place behind two steady runners and held him there, and it was a long race, which means he ran BB out before the end sprint. He should have held him back, so he'd be able to pour it on at the end. Bad bad. You don't use up your horse before the sprint.

He went back to the office at 2pm on Sunday, I stopped back at Spring Caravan for an hour, again missing some local dancers, and then I drove a half hour further south to Daughter's to pick up a Waterford lamp. I wanted the floor lamp that matches this lamp, too, I even ordered both two years ago, but it seemed like they were never available, possibly because the crystal shades tend to break in shipping. It looks like they're not even making the floor model any more, and I think this one may be discontinued. (BTW, ignore the web site price.)

I'm not surprised the shades proved fragile. The box had shaped foam padding holding the heavy metal base tightly, but the shade was in a box inside the outer box, floating free in the smaller box in plastic peanuts - but not enough peanuts to keep the shade from sliding around in there. Most of the other lamps have the crystal on the base and fabric shades, and it looks like this packing was designed for them, not this lamp.

The Waterford warehouse is only about 20 minutes from Daughter's house, so Hercules picked it up for me, rather than having it shipped up here. Much safer.

I am very tired, but I've calmed down from the Rochester trip. The Man and I didn't talk about it, but just being with him helped to put it all in perspective. It all seems so unimportant now.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

1842 'Nother Thud

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Heard on a right-wing radio talk show in that dead air space midway across the east-west Thruway section between Albany and Buffalo, where there are only three radio stations (one right-wing talk, one shouting religious, and one full of static):

"You don't know who [somebody-or-other] is? Get on the google and ask. The google knows all about everything."

1841 Definite Thud

Sunday, June 8, 2008

By way of Roba at "and far away...":

A random “favorite quotes” off a random Facebook profile:
“dont lsn 2 the 99 ppl who say ur useless n lsn to the 1 prsn who says u r”

There are no words to express my feelings. Oh, wait, yeah -- listen to them!

1840 Help me here. Thud or no thud?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The eFinance Directory list of the most and least affordable housing markets is here. The lists show the area, the median home price, the median household income, and the percentage of people living in that area who can afford to buy a home.

The paragraph after the "least affordable" list caught my eye. It says: "The Los Angeles area tops the list of the least affordable housing markets for the 14th consecutive time. Only 10 percent of the people who earn the median household income of $59,800 can afford a median priced [$412,000] home."


Don't they mean only 10% of all the families in that area can afford to buy any house? At all?

There are higher and lower incomes, and higher and lower house prices. The only way anyone with the median income of $59,800 can afford a $412,000 house is to already own a house of the same or near value, and actually find a buyer for it.

There's something wrong with the conclusion in their paragraph, but I'm not sure what.

1839 Thud

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Re: the TV show "The Mole". I've never watched it, but I believe it has to do with a team that has to work together on some tasks, but one of them is a secret mole appointed by the producers, whose job is to sabotage the rest of the team, and the individuals on the team get points/money for completing tasks and for identifying the mole. One way to prevent others from identifying the mole is to pretend to be the mole yourself.

The promos for this next season have each of the contestants saying "I'm not the mole", except for one contestant who smirks, "Of course I'm the mole". The announcer intones, "One of them is lying."

Do you see a problem there?

If that's the whole team, then either none of them are lying, or two of them are lying. Or else not all of the team are in the promo, which would make this a dead giveaway, since then the "I'm the mole" guy is the one who's lying, and the mole must be one of those who did not appear.

Nothing like a major spoiler before the show even begins, eh?