Saturday, July 19, 2008

1915 Snack!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

I've discovered a new snack that could be big trouble for me. Sea Salt Bagel Crisps and brie.

Just slice a bit of brie (with the skin on), and lay it on the crisp. Don't spread it. Yum! Salt, butter, creamy cheese. Yum Yum.

Friday, July 18, 2008

1914 Oil

Friday, July 18, 2008

[Public service message on]

There have been some questions about the "oil patterns" on the lanes that I mentioned in the previous post. I can't talk about it in detail, because I'm just learning, and it's all Greek to me. But I'll explain what I can.

The last time I bowled was in probably 1975, in a mixed league, in St. Louis. Public balls, rental shoes, all that. As far as we knew back then, except for the weight, all the balls were the same - round. And we didn't know anything about oil. As far as we knew, they waxed the lanes every week or something. And maybe what we thought then was true then. I don't know.

Since the old days, things have changed drastically. I guess if you're bowling for fun on a Friday evening, the balls are still just round, and the lanes are "waxed or something", who cares, and that's good enough. But not when you're bowling in tournaments for money. At that level, it gets real complicated right quick.

The different balls have different shaped and positioned weights inside that affect the way they roll, and where the finger holes are drilled affect the action further. A bowler has to know his or her own style well to choose the right balls. Here are some examples of ball specs. Click on "Full ball specs" to see the cross-section of the ball, and the expected path.

The exterior material, what the ball is made of, affects how it acts, too.

The lanes are oiled. If you've seen that flat machine crawling down a lane, that's what it's doing. It's laying oil. But the oil is not laid evenly the whole length of the lane. It's laid in patterns. Where the oil is heavy, the ball slides. Where the lane is dry, the ball encounters friction, and if it's spinning it can hook. As the tournament progresses, oil gets "carried down" the lane, and the bowler has to be aware of the changed conditions and compensate, either by changing where the ball is set down, or by using a different ball.

The Man carries six to eight 16-lb balls with him to tournaments.

This is a general description of a few common oil patterns, used on public lanes, and for amateur leagues.

The PBA tournaments use five special, and more challenging, patterns, Chameleon, Cheetah, Shark, Scorpion, and Viper. They're tough. (I'm not positive, but I get the impression that a particular tournament will use one particular pattern, advertised up front.) The five are described here. The first one up at the link is the Shark. Click on the logos to see the others.

Most people don't know all that, and like I said, I'm just learning. There's a LOT more science to it that I'm not aware of yet. The Man is frustrated because pro bowling doesn't get an audience or respect, partly because people don't understand how exacting it is, and partly because there's a low class image. Because of the image problem, PBA bowlers are not allowed to drink, smoke, or swear while in the building or on the grounds, even when practicing. There's a whole set of rules, breaking of which can get you suspended.

Another problem is that Joe Blow has a 220 average in his Tuesday night league, so he thinks he's as good as the pros. No respect for them. He doesn't know about the oil patterns in tournament bowling. They make a BIG difference. You have to think and compensate constantly.

[Public service message off]

1913 Brazen

Friday, July 18, 2008

I went to NJ yesterday for dinner with The Man, and to watch him practice. He got two lanes, and bowled twelve straight games, rapidly, going back and forth between the two. He had requested an oil pattern he hates (Shark) because that's what he needs to work on I guess, but I was still very impressed. He's been practicing a lot more the past few weeks, and it shows.

I rushed back this morning to meet Piper for walking, and he wasn't in his office. There was a young man there answering phones, and he didn't know where Piper was, either. I left him cell messages, but haven't heard from him (although, like me, he sometimes forgets to turn the thing on). So, I'm a bit worried about him (or more accurately, his mother).

I was introduced to a new (to me) group last night - The Brazen Heads, out of Phoenix, Arizona. They're Celtic rock. See this video ("Who's Yer Paddy"). It's cute. Some people are comparing them to BNL, but I suspect maybe it's their irreverence, rather than their music.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

1912 Real estate and taxes

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Yesterday I read about and listened to discussion of New York State property taxes. The rankings range from "175% of the average", to "sixth highest in the nation", which is not the biggest concern. The greatest concern is that they keep going up, by ridiculous amounts, every year, and there's no end in sight. Most people blame the school budgets, but the county budgets contribute.

My house is paid off, so I have no mortgage or rent, but the real estate taxes on my house (which is about mid-line in value) amount to over $500 per month. And I get a senior exemption. My neighbors pay higher.

There's an amusing blog I follow -, "It's Lovely! I'll Take It!" - wherein the blogger shows photos from real estate listings, the type of photos that make you wonder what the sellers were thinking, "do they really want to sell this house?" You can click on a link in the post and go to the actual listing. I've been doing that because I like looking at houses for sale. (If showing houses was all that was required, I'd have been very happy as a realtor. Too bad you have to go out and drum up business, too. I can't do that.) Anyway, check the blog out.

So after thinking about taxes, I wondered what others were paying, and I went to some of the listings to find out. For comparison I used not what the sellers were asking for the house, but the tax assessed value. NYS counties try to use actual value (and that "actual value" is usually higher than you'd get for the house if you tried to sell it). Other places seem to use a value much smaller than the market value. So if the assessed value of a comparable house was $100k elsewhere, I multiplied the amount of tax paid by 5 to compare it to an assessed value of $500k here.

What I discovered is very upsetting.

In the Los Angeles area, Seattle, Boston, Washington DC suburbs, and everywhere else I looked, I'm paying anywhere from three to eight times what they're paying.

For what?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

1911 Heels and Nails

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Walked with Piper again today. He's really enjoying it, the commitment thing. It's even got him back on his machines at home. Friday is our next day to walk, and it's supposed to be well over 90 with high humidity. I said I wasn't sure I wanted to walk in that, but he wants to, even if it's a shorter walk, so, against my better judgment, I got guilted into agreeing. [That sentence got edited. It originally said I got quilted into it. I looked at it a long time, aware there was something wrong with it, but I couldn't figure out what. It almost made sense; "guilted" isn't a word, and "quilted" is, and that's part of the problem.]

So anyway, just in case, being of mostly sound mind, I leave all my worldly goods to my daughter.


Back when I went to work every day, I wore high heels and nail polish. When I retired, I swore no more heels over 1.5", and no more nail polish. The heels prohibition lasted 11 years, and I haven't worn nail polish in 14 years.

When you wear nail polish every day, your nails turn yellow, so you are almost forced to polish them, even though it gets to be a royal pain. In the winter my nails are brittle, and stay shortish, and the polish lasts five or six days before it gets too chipped. In the summer, my nails are more flexible, easily get to one inch long, and by the third day, polish is all chipped and flaking off. Which wouldn't be too bad except that for some reason polish takes forever to dry on my nails. I can't do anything else for like three hours when I polish them. I've tried the drying sprays and olive oil, but they seem to make the polish too hard on the flexing nails, so it chips even sooner.

Well, about two years ago I start easing into higher heels again.

Today, I don't know why, I bought nail polish and did my nails.

I think I'm slowly losing my mind.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

1910 Lotsa reading

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I went to dinner with Mensa this evening, to a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Tivoli. I had a veggie stir fry with a coconut milk sauce and rice noodles. It was pretty good, but, sorry, the chunks of tofu in it just don't satisfy the carnivore in me.

The conversation was pretty good (there were nine of us). John was talking about an enormous snapping turtle in his pond, that he's been trying to kill, "bullets just bounce right off him". That lead to a conversation between him and the guy next to him about hunting in general, deer in particular, which spread to our end of the table. Angie and I later realized with horror that this conversation was being carried on in a vegan restaurant! I'm surprised we got out of there alive.


I spent most of today reading comments on a British "Guardian" article. I rarely (well, almost never) read comments on online American articles, because the sheer stupidity, illiteracy, jingoism, nastiness, and posturing of the American public, or at least those who comment on articles, sicken me. British comments are worth reading, and I got pulled in.

The article itself is "Do Muslim Women Need Liberating?", by Nesrine Malik. It's simply a report of a panel discussion she'd attended. The comments were more interesting than the article. There are more than 300 now, and I read them all (you have to click on "Go to all comments" to read the early ones, which are the best. About halfway through a guy called "Liberator" joins in, and the discussion disintegrates.)

This is a comment from "Shellshock" that gave me food for thought:

I think the reason that people get so het up about the hijab and burka etc is the question of what extent they are truly exercising 'choice'. In the same way I would question a woman who 'chooses' to become a lap dancer, or to expose her body for the purpose of titillatiing men.

On what precept are women making these choices? Have cabals of women sat down and decided these are desirable things to do, or do they stem from living under a patriarchal system where a womans body is seen as a piece of meat either to be covered in order to control male desire, or to uncover to precipitate male desire. In each case the decision is made on a value system that views women through the male gaze, and not through the experience of women, nor does either practice (robing and disrobing) bring any discernible benefit to women collectively.

I see both practices, covering up and undressing to be a sexually provocative act. The covered up is acknowledging her sexuality in the same way as the undressed, the only difference is that the undressed is more honest about it. Because women who express excessive piety and obedience towards their religion are elevated over the sluts and get more brownie points (and small advances in their freedoms from the men), but at the root of their actions is to behave according to a male outlook on how women should behave in the mans world.
Many of the comments about the "choice" to wear the hijab reminded me of the Suburban St. Louis housewife who declared, in 1972, when the US women's liberation movement was going strong, that she "[didn't] need liberating, because my husband lets me do anything I want." We all sat there and stared at her, because we realized there was no way we could explain to her what was wrong with that statement. I was finding that same blindness in women who claimed that they "choose" to wear the hijab. Or who hold their daughter down for a clitorectomy.

There was a lot of discussion about how much (clothing laws, legal restrictions, honor killings, female genital mutilation, etc.) is due to Islam, and how much is cultural, independent of Islam. I learned a lot.

One thing I didn't know is that until the early '70s, there was no requirement that women be covered. It started in Egypt, of all places.

Later in the comments there's a discussion of the theory that terrorism, especially suicide bombing, is fueled by a combination of "honor killing" and male sexual frustration. If it is honorable to kill your own sister, daughter, or mother for breaking religious laws, then it's so much easier to kill infidels.

Well, that was my day.

And now I want to go out and shake some sense and pride into all those girls in minuscule skirts with their belly buttons and boobs hanging out. By whose definition is that "good"?

1909 Confused about corn

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I've been hearing and reading about how world food costs are going up, mainly because corn and soy are going to biofuels instead of the table. (Gasoline costs affect the US, but in the rest of the world gasoline has always been high.)

The other day I went shopping for what we used to call "TV dinners" - you know, those Stouffer's and Lean Cuisine things - because I wanted to stock up on food that took no effort. Lately, I have been going days at a time without eating at all, other than trail mix (fruit, nut, and oat mix), yogurt, tea, and coffee, and if I want to work on losing weight, that doesn't help, because it lowers my metabolism and puts my body into "efficient" mode. If I had some things I could throw into the microwave, and then throw the dish away instead of washing it, I'd have no excuse not to eat. Excuses are easy for me, because I don't often feel "hunger". (And yes, I do feel guilty about buying frozen dinners. I do know better. But we're working with a resistance to housework here, so unless you're willing to come and cook and clean for me, hush yo' mouth.)

I'm a big veggie eater. I want my veggies. I also need meat, or it's not a meal. So my shopping qualifications were "meat, and lots of green and/or yellow vegetables". I couldn't find much of anything acceptable.

I had a choice of like 35 offerings. Many of them contained no vegetables, just meat, cheese, and bread. A very large percentage of the ones that were supposed to be full meals had for vegetables only potatoes and corn.

Potatoes AND corn? Yeah, mashed, boiled, or roasted potatoes are good for you, and corn is good, but NOT together (they're both starches) and NOT instead of carrots, spinach, squash, eggplant, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, wax beans, parsnips, asparagus, cabbage, beets, peas, green pepper, ... all the other stuff they could have put in there instead.

It can't be that corn and potatoes are the cheapest things available, not if the biofuels thing is true. So why is all that corn there? It has to be that that's what the public will buy.

If the IGA frozen foods case is an example of what people are willing to buy, we're in trouble.

Monday, July 14, 2008

1908 Walking with Piper

Monday, July 14, 2008

Piper and I have started our exercise commitment. We're going to walk three times a week. He has a treadmill, but rarely manages to work up the enthusiasm. I'll get out and walk (let's not discuss my treadmill, buried under mending in the bedroom), but I'll accept any excuse not to. So we're going to keep each other honest.

Today was our first day. It took 15 minutes to get him off the phone and out of the office. Once we got going it was nice. It seems a lot shorter with company.

We walked through a residential area, and then back into the middle of the village, and that's when we got bogged down. He had to stop and talk to everyone we passed, and supervise construction projects, and window shop, and so on. It doesn't really matter, it's the distance not the time that matters to weight loss, but the point is to use no more time than he would usually take for a relaxed lunch. If it eats up too much of his day it could become onerous.

My goal Wednesday will be to get a walk in, and a quick lunch, and deposit him back in his office by 1 pm, just to show him it can be done. I'll take him on a loop that avoids most of the village center. It goes through the cemetery, but at least those folks don't converse.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

1907 Sundays destroyed

Sunday, July 13, 2008

And here's why I don't dare get cable. A local TV station shows movies on Sunday - usually very odd movies that I'd never heard of before - and I end up watching the flippin' movies instead of getting anything else done.

Today was "Drop Dead Gorgeous". It was full of little throw-away lines that cracked me up.

Like, the second runnerup prize in a town beauty pageant was a $50 scholarship to "the Vo-Tek of her choice".

And after Tammy was killed in a farm vehicle accident, and it was ruled "smoking and driving", Amber knows it was murder because, "Well, yeah, Tammy liked to drive her dad's thresher. She said the heavy vibrations helped clear her mind. But I know Tammy only smoked AFTER a good drive."

More good lines here.

I've got to get a copy and share it with anyone I can pin down for 90 minutes!


Later - Ack! "Lost in Space" the movie is on now, with Joey, from "Friends". I tuned in in the middle, and didn't recognize it until the robot said "Danger, Will Robinson!"

The funniest thing about this offering is how seriously the actors are taking their characters. I'm cracking up again! Shades of Joey playing his soap opera character Dr. Drake Ramoray.

1906 My car is heavy.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I just went to the auction house and picked up my table.

They put the base in the trunk, and I think I can get that out alone. The top went into the back seat, resting on the floor and leaning against the seat, and that's going to be a problem.

Last night, when I looked at it pre-auction, I hefted one side of the top - it wasn't attached to the base - and I was able to lift it easily with one hand. Underneath, it looked and felt like gray wood, so I figured it was a marble veneer on wood (and what the bidding went like would have bolstered that thought).

Whoa! Was I wrong! It's marble on lesser quality marble. It's solid marble, even the edges. So I've got a 1.5" x 39.5" slap of solid marble in my back seat. It took two strong men to wrestle it into the car. I haven't the faintest idea how I'm going to get it out.

I may have to put in an SOS call to the Hairless Hunk.