Friday, September 05, 2008

1993 Power Paradox

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Several things happened today that I don't understand.

On Thursday, I checked several weather sites to find out what today and tomorrow would look like. Daughter and Hercules were planning to go camping at Ricketts Glen this weekend, and they'd invited me to hike the falls trail with them on Sunday. TV weather and everyone else said it would pour today, everywhere, Ricketts Glen and here and NJ, thunderstorms, much nastiness. I warned the kids. Not only would there be rain, but even if Sunday was nice, after storms the falls trail would be both spectacular and unhikeable. Daughter wanted to go anyway, "if my underwear isn't already damp before I put it on, it's not camping", but Hercules pointed out "it's a hurricane!" So they didn't go.

We've had a few sprinkles.

I don't know whether I'm annoyed or pleased.


We lost electricity at 11:20 this morning. I was on the laptop, and it went smoothly to battery, so I unplugged it in case the power came back up with a surge, finished what I was working on, and then put it to "sleep". I figured that if the power wasn't back up in a few hours, I'd shut it down.

The power returned within the hour. I plugged the laptop in and pushed the "mommy's back" button. I got a message about "resuming windows", a glimpse of a cursor, then a black screen. No whirring. No blinking. Nothing.

**After a while I held the power button down for a while - emergency off - gave it some time to think about its sins, then turned it on again. The screen turned a few shades of gray and pale blue, then went black. No whirring, no blinking, nothing. Repeat from ** twice more. Think about where I'd go for service. Wish I'd got that external hard drive working.

And then it came up as if nothing had happened. Firefox even resumed my previous sessions.

I don't understand.


When I was running the (groundwater-based) A/C, I had only a trickle of water from the faucets. I turned the A/C off about a month ago, but the water never recovered beyond a slightly thicker trickle. It was dribbling in the bathrooms, and worse in the kitchen end of the house, where the A/C is located, so I figured that the pipes were full of silt from it running constantly all summer at low pressure. I was afraid I'd have to get a plumber in and have the pipes blown.

When the electricity is off, there's no well pump, and no water at all.

When the electricity came back on, I turned on the faucet in the kitchen, and it burped, sputtered, and then exploded. I've got water! Full force!

It's full of silt, so I can't use it for anything beyond washing my hands, but damn, I've got water again!

Why? What happened? What did the power going off have to do with it?

I really don't understand at all.

1992 Just Passing It Along....

1991 Nuttin'

Friday, September 5, 2008

No post yesterday. Nothing to say today. Them doldrums, I guess.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

1990 State Tax Woes

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I have a business name (a DBA) that is doing no business, but New York still wants me to file a sales tax report every year. All it says is that I made no sales and I collected no sales tax. It has said that for about five years now. Well, Angel, the CPA, didn't send the forms in on time this year, so NYS has billed me for $50 in sales tax, "based on the average previous taxes paid". Um, the average of 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 is 50?

I complained to Piper and Angel, it was supposed to happen automatically, and the Angel made some calls, and he says it's all taken care of, NYS has agreed to forgive the $50.

Unfortunately, NYS doesn't seem to be aware of that, and is continuing to bill me, and the latest letter is threatening legal action.

I talked with Piper about it this morning. I told him that I have no doubt that the Angel made the call. But it seems like the state tax people will say just about anything, but if they don't feel like making the note in the file, or following up, they don't.

The year after Jay died, my extimated NYS income tax payments were creditied to Jay's account, even though the forms and checks I sent had my SS# and name, which was different from Jay's. There was absolutely nothing to connect my payments to Jay, except for the fact that we had previously filed jointly. So at the end of the year, when I got the statement saying that I had made no estimated tax payments, I freaked. They had all been credited to Jay. Who was dead. And whose name and number were on nothing I had sent.

It took eight or so calls to figure out where the money was, and to get it transferred to my SS#. At first, they tried to refuse to move the money from Jay's account to mine, because he hadn't given them permission to do so. I calmly pointed out that I hadn't given permission to have my payments credited to his account, and besides, HE'S DEAD!!!!!

Believe it or not, the same thing happened the next year. My name and SS# on the form and on the checks. They again arbitrarily credited my payments to Jay.

I was telling Piper about this, and he told me a worse story.

He owed an additional $800 on his 2007 NYS income tax. Since his 1040 had been electronically filed, he sent a check separately. He received a bill from the state for $500 owed on the 2007 taxes. He called and told them he'd paid $800, and where did they get the $500 number, anyway? The clerk said she'd check and put him on hold. When she came back, she said no, he owed $500, and there was no evidence that he'd sent any $800 payment.

He pointed out that the check had been cashed by NYS. She asked that he send a copy of the front and back of the $800 check.

He did so.

And the state used the info on the copy of the check which he had sent to prove he'd paid, to electronically debit his bank account for $500. He's fighting it. He's into his fifth or so call now.

These people scare me.

1989 Doldrums, and other stuff

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I am amused by some of the titles people choose for their blogs.

My own, for example.

It started out as "Moraine", on AOL journals. A moraine is a pile of mixed rocks dropped by a glacier, and I think it did sort of suit, but it was rather esoteric.

When I moved to Blogger, I changed the title to "I Don't Understand". I liked that, because it was so very apt.

When I had to move the blog and go into hiding for a while, I changed the title to "The Silken Touch". I like it as a bunch of words (and there are men who think it fits), but it doesn't really suit the blog because I snipe and complain a lot here. Not exactly a silken touch, even though sniping and complaining here releases me to be more silky in real life.

I'd like to go back to "I Don't Understand", but I won't, because I don't like it when other people keep changing the titles. I forget who they are. I lose continuity.

.... I changed my mind on the course of this post. I'm not going to comment on specific titles, mainly because I'm not able to think of synonyms to disguise them. But I'm thinking mainly of those that, like "The Silken Touch", set up expectations in the title that just aren't met in the content. It must be awfully hard to live up to some of those titles.

A little humility is a good thing.


The Doldrums:
This entry, Medical Matters #1 :: The Furious Compassion of Diligent Dr Payne, from La BĂȘte, is a perfect description of what I call the doldrums. A kind of loss of motivation. Not exactly depression, because I still enjoy things that drift past. I'm sort of in doldrums these days. With me, it's sort of like I've stopped moving, and I'm waiting, waiting for something to happen, a breeze to come up and move me on.


My nose and sinuses are still complaining, and I'm coughing a lot, but the cold medicines are doing nothing. I stopped at the pharmacy and bought a sinus-dryer-upper, and that's working better. (If you could hear me now, you'd wonder what "worse" must be like.)

Lunch with Vinnie and Piper. I had a bowl of very good cheese broccoli soup. I rarely eat soup (the only kind I like is "cream of"s and bisques), and although today's soup was very good, with lots of nice big pieces of broccoli, it reminded me why I rarely eat soup. When it was finished, I felt empty. Soup just doesn't fill me. Lunch? What lunch?


There's a woman in M3nsa that I've had some run-ins with. She's a drama queen, I mean ultra drama queen - to the point of faking asthma attacks when anyone passes on the street with a cigarette within 20 feet of her. Faking! Which pisses me off. She's loud and demands attention. When another friend and I were entering menopause, she decided she was, too. She was 35 at the time, and had hotter flashes, worse sleep, and bigger mood swings than anyone ever. And it's going on 15 years now that she's been menopausal.

We have a hardship committee, which pays the dues of any member who has run into difficulty and can't afford the dues. I'm on the committee. One of the other committee members moved away, and I was unaware that this woman had been appointed to the committee until we got a request to review.

The member requesting assistance wrote that he and his wife had spent their savings on IVF attempts earlier this year, and now he has discovered that he is losing his job. This is what the committee was set up for.

Well, the drama queen and her husband have no children (good choice). She's vehemently and loudly anti-population growth (I don't know that her husband ever had a voice in the matter). Anyway, she voted to deny the assistance request, because she disapproves of what the guy spent his savings on. That's the only reason she gave, and there's been no reasoning with her.

I pointed out that last year's recipients were a guy who has no job and is incapable of holding a job because he's a total idiot, and a woman on disability who blew her budget on a fantastic sound system. And you want to deny this guy because he wanted to have a child? Her response, in effect, "Yes. No one should have children, let alone blow their savings to make one."

The woman is past reason. Pardon me while I go bash my head against a wall.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

1988 Bylaws again

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Yesterday I went to NJ to visit Daughter and Hercules. The drive down was in Labor Day shore traffic, and it took me almost five hours. Coming home late at night took 2.5 hours. I stopped at the all-night gas station in the village, where I saw Harriet, a woman I had worked with on the fire department rescue squad. We had two years of catching up to do, so I was a lot later getting home.

I had read in the newspaper that the fire department and rescue squad were desperate for volunteers. She says they might go under, and if the village has to contract for professional firefighters and EMS, our taxes will go through the roof. (I'm already paying over $500/month in local, county, and school taxes, and I get the senior and widow's discounts.)

I spent all day today making updates to the Mensa bylaws. Our proposed revision was reviewed by national, and they had some comments and suggestions. They keep changing the minimum requirements, and it's not easy to hit a moving target. In general, they had good things to say about what we'd sent.

The Republican convention is on TV, and I'm not really watching. I don't know who was speaking about a half hour ago, but I got the impression he was saying that the country is in terrible shape, and the person the Democrats propose to fix it is completely unqualified to do so.

Um, did he realize what he was saying? Did he really want to emphasize how bad things are? Does he think we can't figure out how they got that bad? I may need to look that speech up on YouTube or something. I must have missed something.

Monday, September 01, 2008

1987 Whence Worries; GNP; Oil Price

Monday, September 1, 2008

Driving around yesterday, I was listening to NPR on the car radio, and there was a lot of talk about preparations in N.O. and Texas for Gustav. The consensus was that evacuation was pretty much complete this time. They said that "People seem to be a lot more worried about Gustav than they were about Katrina."

I thought about that statement a long time.

There's something wrong with that thinking. It's like they forgot two centuries of history. They forgot what actually happened three years ago.

The folks of New Orleans have been through hurricanes before, some even bigger than Katrina. (Even I have been through a hurricane in Biloxi, as a child. When the eye passed over, my mother opened the house door and quickly slammed it shut again because the street was full of snakes. I remember that part. Which has nothing to do with this. Sorry.)

New Orleans would have survived the wind and rain of Katrina as well as they'd survived all the others. They know how to do it. It wasn't the direct effect of the hurricane that hurt them. It was the bursting of the levees.

So, I don't believe they're "a lot more worried about Gustav than they were about Katrina." I think they trust the levees less. They've lost faith.

That's a significant difference.


Also on NPR, someone was talking about how the GNP is up, and that's supposed to be good. Higher productivity. But is it really? I wish I could remember who was talking about it. I wasn't paying a whole lot of attention, but there were a few things that struck me. (Hmmm. Maybe it wasn't NPR today. Maybe it was PBS yesterday. Maybe I should pay more attention to my life.)

We work hard to make money. We want money to buy things. We make more things so we can make more money so we can buy more things. The things we make have to be sold, or nobody gets any money. So we are sold things. We buy things things we are sold (where "sold" means being convinced we must have them).

It expands - a circle, a cycle, that gets bigger and bigger.

In the end, by working harder to make more things so we can buy more things---

---We are trading our leisure for things.

That's what "GNP is up" means - that we've traded away more leisure.

This is good?


I found out why the fuel oil company send out the offer letter with so little time to respond.

If I hadn't been sick, fuzzy in the head, they wouldn't have gotten away with the trick.

They didn't want people to have the time to the research. If I hadn't been whacked, I'd have researched it before responding. It's what I do. I can't believe I didn't.

I looked it up yesterday.

Turns out the local average current retail price of fuel oil is about $.80 CHEAPER per gallon than the lowest price they offered. So they're going to contract with their supplier for 800 gallons of oil for me at the current wholesale price, which is less than the retail price, and then sell it to me for their usual markup PLUS $.80 more.

NOT a good deal for me.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

1986 Things I Learned Shopping Today - 2

Sunday, August 31, 2008

I needed printer paper. Office Max often has paper on sale in quantity, like 6 500-sheet packages for $20 or less, so after the craft fair I headed for Office Max. There was an unusual amount of traffic, and I somehow ended up in the wrong lane, and found myself making the turn for Wal-Mart. I shrugged and decided to see if they had paper, and maybe another like the flattering $10 cotton blouse I'd bought in Baltimore a few weeks ago.

Big mistake.

The place looked like a cyclone had hit.

I forgot about back-to-school shopping.

I did some back-to-school shopping way back when, but I never threw things on the floor when I decided against them. I folded stuff and put it back on the shelf exactly where I'd found it, or put it back on the hanger and on the rack. The right rack. In the right spot. I suspect Daughter did, too.

Our local W-M is usually pretty neat (in contrast to the usual shoppers), so it's easy to find one's size. Today the shelves were mound on mound of wadded-up clothes, and most of it nowhere near its mates. There was even female clothing on shelves and hangers in the men's section.

It looked like people had carried things around looking for other stuff to match, and if they were unsuccessful, they just dropped them wherever they happened to be standing at the moment.

I found where the blouses I liked should have been, there were a few there, but they were also scattered all over everywhere else, too. I have no idea if there was one in my size. I gave up looking after sorting through a few heaps on the floor.

I did get paper.

1985 Things I Learned Shopping Today - 1

Sunday, August 31, 2008

I went to the New Paltz craft fair today. There are annually two major craft fairs, the biggest is in Rhinebeck (moneyed area) in the spring, and New Paltz (college town), quite a bit smaller, is in the fall. In neither case are we talking home-made pre-holiday trinkets.

Rhinebeck has some spectacular stuff, but New Paltz is better juried. At Rhinebeck I have seen things that I know to be manufactured and imported - things I've bought from China or Tibet through eBay. I don't know how they were allowed to slip in. In New Paltz you are more likely to see the craftsman in the back of the booth actually making items. Everything in new Paltz is hand made ---hand carved, printed, painted, spun, woven, embroidered, blown, wrought, glued, dried, beaded, strung, built, quilted, recorded, sewn, designed, soldered, whatever.

I usually buy too much that I don't need, because it's all so beautiful.

Today I learned that if you wear a hat with a brim that hides your eyes, you can look at things without making eye contact with the sellers, and wow, you buy less. All I bought today was lunch, and some biscotti.

Open letter to craft fair organizers: All the other stuff is pretty well mixed. Wood, fabric, metal, glass, jewelry - all nicely mixed and scattered throughout four or five medium-sized tents and multiple aisles of stand-alone booths. So why oh why do you put all the scented stuff (spices, candles, oils, craft foods, sauces, dips, perfumes, soaps, all the odiferous crafts) all together in one huge tent? By the fourth stall (of the sixty-four in the tent) I couldn't smell or taste anything anymore. It all ran together. By the sixty-fourth, I had a pounding headache. I can't imagine what it must be like for the people who have to spend all day there.

Open letter to ALL fair organizers: Thank you for providing free parking, and for the kids to direct us to open spaces. But why oh why do they direct people who arrive at, say, 3 pm to the far end of the south forty? By mid afternoon, the folks who arrived early have left. The closer parts of the lot are nearly empty. Why not let us look for spaces there, instead of making us walk for a half hour past empty space after empty space, even entirely empty sections, to the gate? The only explanation I can come up with is an attempt to prevent cross-traffic, but since it's all one-way anyway, I don't see where that matters.

Oh well. I enjoyed the day, even if the french fry guy didn't have malt vinegar, at least he had gravy.

1984 Superlatives

Sunday, August 31, 2008

I am so tired of screaming superlatives. "They" are now calling Gustav the "Storm of the Century". Oh good grief! We've only eight years into the century. Call it "the Storm-of-the-Century-So-Far" if you want. Somehow in my mind I connect this tendency with that "everybody gets a trophy" mentality.