Saturday, November 22, 2008

2124 DIY Cat Toy

I absolutely have to try this!


(Featured on Cute Overload)

2123 Answers

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I've been amusing myself by answering questions on You get points for answering questions (2 each), and you can use the points to ask questions (5 each), and if your answer is chosen as the best answer, you get 10 more points.

I'm doing pretty well, considering. One quarter of my answers gets chosen as best, and I have over 1,000 points.

I'm amused by the social questions. Most of the questions in the social and math/science sections are asked by kids. Oh, the drama! "She did this, then she did that, and ... what should I do?" My answers look like "Consider it from her viewpoint ... consequences ... options ...." Usually, the answer chosen as best in those categories is more like "Set fire to her house."

Sigh. I guess I don't understand.

In other categories it looks like the kid has copied a homework or take-home test question verbatim, with "show your work". It annoys me that others actually do the work in the response, without explaining the concept that the asker seems to be missing. There's a whole herd of kids out there getting their homework done for them and learning nothing. Hey, Yahoo! This is not helping!

The legal, home, business, travel, medical, and so on categories fare much better. The responses sometimes come from people with obvious expertise (although you can't trust an answer that starts with "I'm a doctor, and..."). I'm learning a few things in those categories.

Well, it's better than playing games, I guess.


A long time ago I did the same thing on WikiAnswers. I got noticed by the supervisors there, and was contacted, "Your name has been passed around among the supervisors here", and was offered a job (job?) as a supervisor. "Join the team!"

I turned it down. I don't want ANY responsibility. For anything.

2122 Eagle Verification

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"Nature" is on PBS right now, and the show is about bald eagles. I am reminded of the time I was standing at a vulture cage in a tiny community zoo somewhere in Wales. A woman and a little girl were standing next to me. They looked at the two vultures silently for a while, then the little girl said, "Mummy, is that a bald eagle?"

The mother answered, "I guess so. It's big and it's bald. Never understood what the Americans saw in such an ugly bird."

I cracked up.


To the recycle center today. It was in the middle 20s, and there was a lot of wind. My hands haven't recovered yet. They burn.

But at least I got rid of the two huge garbage bags of shredded paper from the last "cleaning out the files" spasm. My shredder cuts small diamonds, and Jasper had found the bags and torn them open. Little diamonds of paper all over the house.

Jasper is going to kill me. He follows me everywhere (except to the den, which is the exclusive province of Miss Thunderfoot), but he doesn't follow - he leads. He runs in front of me, and then stops suddenly, flopping onto his side or back. I'm always tripping over him. I know he's asking for petting, but that's not the way to get it, and I don't encourage it by petting him when he does it. I've tried to discourage it by "walking through" him, pushing him out of the way with my feet, but it hasn't worked. I'm getting frustrated. It's especially dangerous at night.


Chris, over at "Inane Thoughts...", wonders if others have noticed a change in word verification offerings. He says they seem to look more like words now, rather than a random collection of letters.

Yeah, I had noticed. Sometimes they even seem to have some application to the topic, or to carry a comment of their own. Downright eerie. They do seem to be less confusing than the random ones, although they are still not real words. They just look like they could be. Or are trying to be.

On that topic, I read something recently, and as usual I don't remember where, about using real words in the verification process.

Many organizations are putting books online, thousands of paper books are being digitalized by people who stand at scanners all day, feeding in pages. Software takes the scanner images, "reads" them, and translates them to text. Occasionally (or often, depending on the age, font, and condition of the book) a word can't be translated because letters are broken, or the ink is smudged, or the word is clear but not in any dictionary. The software can't figure out what the word should be.

Humans could easily figure out what the word should be, but there are simply too many to make it cost effective.

Somebody had the great idea of using us to figure out what the word is. Many sites are now using those scans for word verification, and as a kind of bonus, they rent the lists, helping to support the book project. We are shown the scan, and we figure out what the word is. I've seen many of them. They're apparent from the smudged ink, the obvious "old book" look, and from the fact that two words are offered, one word being quite clear (that's the REAL verification word), the other being messy.

The folks digitalizing the books collect our guesses on the messy words, which are tagged as to the book and location they came from, and after a certain number of people identify one as a certain word, that information goes into the book text.

Watch for them. At least now when there's frustration, perhaps a virtuous feeling can ameliorate it a tad.

Friday, November 21, 2008

2121 Spider 'Hood

Friday, November 21, 2008

I got a few things done today. I've discovered that opium incense for some reason will get me off my behind and moving. Very strange, since opium would (I assume, having no first-hand experience) elicit the opposite reaction.

In fact, I even laughed at this video.


2120 Well, at least I'm alive....

Friday, November 21, 2008

Still with the malaise.

It's time to select the medical, dental, and vision plans for my retirement plan for the next year. The Company sends a thick envelope outlining the choices available in your area. Here, I get a choice of like 10 different medical plans, 7 dental plans, and 3 vision plans.

For several years I'd chosen one of the catastrophic medical plans, where for $170 a month I pay the first x thousand dollars every year, and once that deductible is met, I'm covered for 100% of everything else, and there is no network nonsense. I can handle x thousand if I have to, and I'm getting old enough that catastrophe looms, so that sounded really good.

This year, the exact same plan ominously mentions in and out of network (with no indication of who is in the network), and mentions copays varying from 10% to 50%. The other choices offered don't look any better.

A lot of retirees don't read the package every year. If you don't make any changes, the previous year's plan is extended, so if they've been happy with what they had, they don't bother to look at the options. They just let it ride. I think a lot of people are going to be shocked when they find out that even though their plan still has the same name, and the same deduction from their pitiful retirement check, it's changed drastically.

I did upgrade my dental plan.

As to the malaise, it's affecting everything, even blogs. I go to foreign affairs, news, and political blogs that I had read avidly every day, take one look, and think "Who cares", and hit the back button. I go to personal blogs, click on "comment", and think "He/she doesn't really need my whatever", and click the red X.

It's like that with everything.

The temperature has been described as "January, not November!". I am miserable. My snowthrower is still in the shop. Snow showers are predicted several days next week, and since the temperature hasn't gone over 35 in what feels like ages (in the TEENS overnight!) any snow that falls is likely to stick.

I want to hibernate.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

2119 Baghdad is Huge

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

We see photos from Baghdad. They're usually at street level. They don't convey the real sense of the city. See for an eye-opener.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

2118 S.A.D.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I'm sad. It's cold and dark and dreary all the time here now. We won't get out of the 30s for at least a week, that's as far as the local weathermen want to go, anyway. Today there were tiny flurries of snow, and there's more predicted.

Last Tuesday, I put the snowthrower out in front of the garage for the service guys to pick up. That's what they'd told me to do. When I left for dinner, it was still there. The top of my driveway is not visible from the road, so I figured it was safe. When I got home that night it was gone.

Yesterday it occurred to me that it had been a week, and I'm only assuming they'd taken it, so I stopped by the shop in the village to check. Yeah, they had it, but they hadn't started work on it yet. Today I got the "uh oh" call. The carburetor is all gummed up, cleaning didn't ungum it, they need to order parts, it might take a while, and I didn't ask, but it sounds expensive.

You know, every year, for the past eleven years, at the end of winter I forget to run the old gas out. And I forget to put the drops in the tank to keep the gas from getting yucky. The gas sits in it all summer. Then almost every fall I get it serviced, and it's fine. Sometimes I let the servicing go too late, and it doesn't get serviced, and it's fine. Last winter I put the drops in, and early this summer I ran it to burn out the old gas and clear the carburetor. For the first time in twelve years I did it right! And for the first time ever ....

Oh Hell. I don't understand. Makes me wonder why I bother. Why try. Nothing seems to make any difference.

I'm getting buried in paper again. Last time I dug myself out I promised myself I would sort the mail as soon as I brought it in, and I'd pay the bills as soon as they arrived, and I'd put each day's newspaper in the recycle bag before the next day's arrived. Yeah. Sure. Why do I have so much trouble with that? It's so simple, and not inconvenient. But I just don't do it. I don't know why.

I'm getting nothing done around here. I look around and feel overwhelmed, and do nothing. It's pretty bad.

I'm having tooth problems. I think I'm losing bone in the front of my upper jaw, and on the right side upper and lower. My teeth are migrating. I'm growing a space between my upper front teeth. The upper right side teeth seem to be dropping. The jaw seems to arc downward. It screws up my bite, and when they'd moved a bit again, I get pain in my jaw from the teeth not meeting correctly. Then they nestle in and the pain stops for a while. This has been going on for about three years.

I haven't seen a dentist since shortly after Jay died. My previous dentist (cleanings every six months) is where I lived before I married Jay, and that's about an hour away. I figured I'd find one closer. They won't let me drive that far if any drastic work is done. About once a year, when the moving teeth intrude on my wandering mind, I call around to try to find one. Most local dentists are not accepting new patients, period. The few who are, are booked up for three to six months. So I haven't made any appointments.

It's like I don't care.

I've got some medical issues, too. I don't know why I keep putting it off. At this point it's like I don't want to look too hard at anything, because what if they find something? Better not to know.

I'm putting weight on again. I don't know why. The goal was to lose 10 or 15 more pounds, and instead I've put 10 back on over the past year.

I'm pretty sure a large part of this is seasonal affective disorder (SAD). But thinking that doesn't make it any better. I'm afraid I might drive The Man away with my blahs. And right now I'm so blah I don't care about that, either.

I'm starting to care a lot less about a lot of things.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

2117 Thud

Sunday, November 16, 2008

There's a semi-local family who will be competing in a national family cook off. Their specialty is a fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They use wheat bread and light butter to make it healthy.

I don't know how to describe my reaction to that.

It's so wrong on so many levels it blew everything else out of my brain. I have no other thoughts.

We are doomed.