Saturday, November 29, 2008

2138 PBS Thud

Saturday, November 29, 2008

This one's on me.

I was watching the Schenectady PBS (WMHT) station this afternoon. They had the Barbara Sher "Creating Your Second Life After 40" lectures on. She's very funny, and she makes a lot of good points. She's been on before, but I never have time to watch the whole thing.

I decided to search and see if there was a DVD or CD available somewhere. There is, but only through the PBS station. They're running their pledge drive right now, and the DVD is one of the gifts. I intensely dislike the drives. The breaks they take are too long, and it feels like they're harassing me, and I rarely watch PBS during the drives (and I'm not alone, which is possibly why they have difficulty getting pledges, they ought to just sell the DVDs and stop annoying us). Anyway, I shrugged and went to the website, signed up, paid with a credit card, and ordered the DVD.

So this evening, there's nothing on any other commercial station, but Vicar of Dibley was on PBS, so that's where I went.

When I found that they were still interrupting for the drive, I was very indignant. Hey, I PAID! Didn't you even NOTICE?! I shouldn't still be exposed to this harangue! What IS this crap?! I really was mad. I felt disrespected.

Oops. Thud. Is this what they mean by feeling grandiose, or omnipotent? Um, guilty....

2137 An Answer

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I mentioned that I've been playing around answering questions on

Someone asked in the Law & Ethics category what he should do if he finds an unoccupied car parked by the sidewalk with the door wide open. Should he close it, or leave it open? And why or why not?

Some people (mostly kids) answered close it, to be polite and helpful. Some said don't close it because if there was a robbery people might think you did it. Others said use a stick to close it so there're no fingerprints. One said to walk into it, fall down and moan, making sure there are witnesses, and buy something nice with the insurance money. Sigh.

This was my answer:
There's an African story that applies here:

A man had a herd of cows. The cows were being attacked by a pack of wild dogs while grazing, and he was unable to protect them. After several cows had been attacked and eaten, the village elder told him that he must kill one of his cows, fill the carcass with poison, and put it near the forest where the pack would find it.

The man was sad, but agreed that he would have to sacrifice one cow to save the others. The wild dog pack usually attacked in the evening, so he set the trap one afternoon. He had killed the cow the day before so it would smell very good to the dogs.

Later that afternoon a neighbor walked up to him in the village, all smiles. "I did you a favor!" he said. "I found a dead cow on your land, and it stank, so my sons and I buried it for you so it wouldn't attract wild dogs!"

The moral of the story, "When your neighbor's cow stinks, let it stink."

---When you don't know why the door is open, leave it open.

I have occasionally picked up a large heavy awkward box at the post office. I'll go out and open the car door, go in and get the box, and carry it out. I'd be really ticked if I returned to find the car door closed again.

2136 The Incident - Part 2 of 3

Saturday, November 29, 2008

(Read 2134, Part 1 first.)

I stared at the deputy. It took a few seconds to realize what he'd said. I turned to the bartender, but he wouldn't meet my eyes, and went into the kitchen. The three guys at the other end of the bar downed their drinks and hurried out. It was just me and the deputy left.

He said, "You're the new high school teacher, eh?"

I said yes, and I asked what he meant by solicitation, and explained about waiting for Jean, and the book, and about sitting in the light, and the request to the bartender, and no drinks, and....

He cut me off, and told me that none of that mattered. All that mattered was that he'd got a complaint, and he had to take me in and charge me and book me, and I could explain all that to the judge.

He then went on to tell me how bad this was. What was the school board going to think, when their new teacher was arrested for prostitution? What would the parents think? What about my students? Oh, wow, you're in big trouble.

I protested that I didn't do anything wrong, but he again cut me off, and suggested that we use one of the hotel offices to discuss this further. Maybe I could convince him.

[Ok, I hear your alarm bells going off. But this was 1966. I was young and naive. I was emotionally and psychologically fragile. I did what people told me. I had even married Ex#1 even though I didn't want to because everyone expected me to. I was a good girl and respected authority --- because I had none of my own.]

So we left the bar. As we walked past the desk, me trailing along behind him, the clerk tossed the deputy a key, which he caught in the air. That made me wonder. They knew he'd want to use the office? How often did he do this?

He unlocked a door around the corner from the desk and pushed me into the room. It was a regular guest room. It had not been cleaned. There were used towels on the floor, and the bed was torn up. Remember, this was about 9:30 pm.

And then he raped me.

I don't remember much of anything, except that he said that if I made any noise, he'd think of something worse than prostitution and make it stick. It was unnecessarily violent and more degrading than any experience I've had since. He was over six feet tall. I was 4'10", and maybe 101 lbs. He threw me around a lot. I cried a lot. It went on for over an hour.

I remember all the details leading up to it, but I remember nothing else about that night. At some point my mind turned off. I don't remember leaving the hotel or going home, and I don't remember what I did later that night.

It gets worse. Part 3 tomorrow.

Friday, November 28, 2008

2135 Holiday Shopping Suggestion

Friday, November 28, 2008

My Novica order arrived today. I love that place! They're associated with National Geographic.

The items arrive individually wrapped in soft handmade rice paper with blond skeletonized leaves tucked in here and there, and tied with wide red satin fabric ribbon. (This year. Last year the "bows" were little brightly-dressed straw dolls.)

Everything I've ever bought from them has been beautiful and well made. Most of their items come from individual designers, from "home" industries (most of the things I'm attracted to come from Thailand). No factory-made junk. But the prices are still reasonable. I recommend them highly.

Right now they've got free shipping on most items. Go prowl their site.

I bought this blouse (which is actually a little light jacket, washable) in white, black, and brown:

I have some comfortable knit dresses that I like but don't wear in the winter because they're sleeveless or short-sleeved. Little tops like this allow me to wear those dresses all year, for $19.95. And this particular top looks fantastic on.

Check them out, for jewelry, clothing, furniture, musical instruments, decorating items, and more.

(I am not getting paid for this ad. I just plain like them.)


[Later - Same day, 6:48 PM. This is hard to believe, but I looked at the blouse a few minutes ago, and it was still $19.95. I looked at a necklace, then went back to the blouse, and it's now $24.95. I don't understand....]

2134 The Incident - Part 1 of 3

Friday, November 28, 2008

In an earlier post (2129 Living a Reality Show) I mentioned an incident that had messed me up for the next umpteen years. In 43 years, I have never told anyone about this, no one, ever. Not even the psychiatrist.

I was a few months over 21, and nearing the end of my first year of teaching high school math in a small tourist town in Pennsylvania. I was doing well, loved most of the kids in my classes and they liked me. Even though it was only my first year, the principal had told me that I would be the head of the 5-member math department the following year. They liked my methods. I pretty much pioneered what is now called Master Teaching. I'd been married about 9 months to Ex#1, who was in the Army, in Germany. I was beginning to like me. Beginning to feel like maybe I could control my life after all.

One Friday evening my friend Jean had to work late in the next town over, inventory at a shoe factory. Jean didn't drive, and the person she usually commuted with would not be working late. She could get a ride to the outskirts of our town with a coworker, but he turned north then, so she needed a ride from there to her home. She had asked me to meet her in the bar of the hotel at the intersection. She wasn't sure of the time, "probably between 9 and 9:30." (This was in 1966, before cell phones.)

In 1966, women never went to bars alone. It just wasn't done. I couldn't get anyone to go with me. I tried waiting in the car, but it was cold. There was nowhere to sit in the tiny lobby. So I shrugged and went into the bar.

The bar was very dark. No TV. There were maybe three men in the bar, all together at one end. I sat down at the bar, at the other end, by the register, where the bartender had his stool. There was a bright light there. I had brought a book with me.

I ordered a screwdriver, and told the bartender that I was waiting for a friend, and would appreciate it if he could kind of watch out for me. I didn't want to talk to anyone, just read my book, and please, I did not want any drinks bought for me (I'd noticed the heads go up at the other end of the bar when I walked in). If anyone offered, tell them "no thank you" for me. "I don't want conversation." And I opened my book and stuck my nose in it.

Sure enough, within minutes, there was another drink in front of me. I did not look at the other end of the bar. I just said to the bartender, "Thank whoever bought this, but I cannot accept drinks." I didn't even look to see where he went, who he talked to.

No more than fifteen minutes later, I became aware that someone was standing at my elbow. He reached over and closed my book. It was one of the county sheriff's deputies, the one who patrolled the town.

He informed me that I was under arrest for solicitation of prostitution.

It gets worse. Part 2 is here.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

2133 Kitty Update

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Miss Thunderfoot still resents Jasper's very existence. She won't allow him within three feet of her without snarling and spitting and serious slapping. He's not allowed in the den, where the computer is, at all. That's her territory.

Jasper seems to hold no resentment, and mostly observes the restrictions, except when he's bored, or when Miss Thunderfoot is distracted, like when I've just put food in her dish. Then he'll creep up on her, reach out as far as he can, and tag her. No claws, just a pat, but that's enough to cause a tornado.

Lately he has started creeping into the den when I'm in here. Miss Thunderfoot is usually asleep under the desk, or on top of a stack of storage containers near my elbow. Jasper will come in quietly, and if he doesn't get snarled out, he'll pat my leg, collect a brief petting, and leave.

He sneaked in this morning while Miss Thunderfoot was asleep on the containers. Jasper crept up to the container, and sat straight up on his haunches to look at her. He watched her for quite a while, as if he was studying her. Then he reached out with one paw, pulled it back, reached out with the other, pulled it back, like he was judging how off balance he'd be when he patted her.

I wished I had the camera. I'd label the photo "EXPLOSION! in 3...2...1...".

When he reached out again, I leaned over and touched the top of his head, and said, "No no." He looked up at me and said, "Meeeep?"

And the explosion happened.

2132 Over the Years

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I played with It's not the easiest or friendliest place in the internet, but, hey, I've got lots of time. (I was a little disappointed that I couldn't choose hairstyles. That might have been more fun.)


This first photo is me, at 16, in 1961. No makeup. It's a real mugshot taken for a badge, when I was doing some work for the Provost Marshal on the Air Force base we lived on. (Yeah, the dark line above the poof of hair is the 5' mark. I gotta learn some photo editing, so I can remove the white marks.)

This photo is what YearbookYourself says I should have looked like in 1960 (they have only even-numbered years) if I'd had any sense of style. And a hairdresser. I'm almost glad I didn't.


This is my college yearbook photo. 1965. 20 years old.
The next one is what YearbookYourself thinks I should have looked like in 1966. Of course, that's the 16-year-old face.

Ack! There's NO WAY I would ever have worn that hairstyle! I have a lot more brains than that. But, actually, I did have classmates who did....


This is me in 1996, at age 52. The photo was taken in a London Underground booth, for use on a rider pass, immediately after a frantic morning of last-minute packing, a two-hour drive to the airport, and an 8-hour flight. I was dragged out, super tired, and there was no makeup left. When I'm very tired, the right side of my face sags. Even so, I like this picture. I don't know why. I don't really look good. I do look tired. (The dark on the left eye is a reflection on the glasses.)
I still love those big half-frame glasses. I miss them. Not only did they block less of the face and allow more eye to show, they provided a huge field of vision.

What YearbookYourself thinks the stylish me should have looked like in 1996 (but add 35 years to the face):
Who the heck is she? I have an inexplicable but immediate dislike for her. I'm glad I didn't look like her. Ever. Ever ever. Actually she sorta looks like my younger sister when she was 16. Hmmmm.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

2131 Wishes

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wishing everyone a happy and fulfilling tomorrow.

If you're with friends or family, be gentle. If you're alone, enjoy the quiet, and relax.

2130 Legal Thud

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Boston court has ruled that a limo company and the limo driver can be held responsible for the actions of their drunken customer, after he has left the limo.
The Supreme Judicial Court found that Ultimate Livery Service Inc., of Boston, and its driver, Richard Broderick, were negligent in a 2001 accident that killed an off-duty Boston police officer and left several other people with serious injuries.

The court said Broderick should not have dropped off a drunken passenger at a location where he would likely get into a car and drive.

William Powers, along with five other men, had hired Ultimate to take them to a bachelor party on the night of Aug. 11, 2001. The driver picked them up in a 15-passenger van at a South Boston sports bar, took them to a strip club in Rhode Island, then drove them back to the sports bar. The men drank in both bars and during the ride to and from Rhode Island.

Powers, joined by two of the men, drove away after being dropped off and had a violent intersection collision with another car. The crash killed Sean Waters, an off-duty police officer who was a passenger in the other car, and passengers in both cars were injured.

Lawsuits were filed by Waters' estate and the injured passengers, claiming that Ultimate and its driver were negligent in allowing Powers to leave the van at the Boston bar when they knew, or should have known, that Powers was likely to drive a car while intoxicated. [emphasis mine]

A Superior Court judge dismissed the lawsuits, finding that Ultimate and the driver were not responsible for the conduct of the passenger once he left the van.

But the SJC, in reversing that ruling, found that Ultimate and its driver, Broderick, "owed a duty" to the occupants of both cars. The case could now go to trial in a lower court to determine if damages should be paid.

"Broderick knew, or should have known, that Powers was intoxicated, yet he allowed Powers to make his own judgment about driving, failing to take any reasonable precautions to prevent him from doing so. A jury could conclude that Ultimate and Broderick were negligent when they left Powers at a location where he would likely drive and pose an extreme danger to the public," Justice John Greaney wrote for the court.

The court found that Ultimate's insurer, Commerce Insurance Co., is required to cover the claims made by the passengers. [Complete article here.]
What? Is no one ever responsible for their own actions? The men knew they'd be drinking, that's why they hired the limo, and yet they drove themselves to the sports bar at the beginning of the evening? They gave no thought to and made no provisions for the end of the evening? Is the limo driver supposed to be their mommy? Is the limo driver supposed to check at the beginning of the evening, and if they had driven to where he picked them up, should he refuse to take them?

What was the limo driver supposed to do - lock them in the limo until they sobered up? This article makes it sound like the guy got into his car immediately after leaving the limo. The PBS radio report, where I heard it first, said that they went into the sports bar and drank some more.

Is the limo driver supposed to follow them around for the rest of the evening? Should he have called their mommies?

I think I know what happened here - Powers' insurance company doesn't want to bear the full brunt of the claims, and is pulling in the limo company's insurance company, to pass some of it off to them. But I don't understand the court's thinking at all.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

2129 Living a Reality Show

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An article in Yahoo News says that
Researchers have begun documenting what they dub the "Truman syndrome," a delusion afflicting people who are convinced that their lives are secretly playing out on a reality TV show. Scientists say the disorder underscores the influence pop culture can have on mental conditions.

"The question is really: Is this just a new twist on an old paranoid or grandiose delusion ... or is there sort of a perfect storm of the culture we're in, in which fame holds such high value?" said Dr. Joel Gold, a psychiatrist affiliated with New York's Bellevue Hospital. [...the article is short, easy to read...]
Is that the question, really? Duh? New? Grandiose delusions of fame?

It's not new. It's just that sufferers now have a way to describe it, a context to put it in, something to compare it to when they report it. It's a feeling that everything around you is, like, scripted, not real. A feeling that you're being watched and tested, that much of what happens around you feels too well planned, designed to "get" you. A feeling that things can't be just random.

It's part of what was going on with me that landed me in the psychiatrist's office twice a week for more than four years in my middle thirties. That's why I recognize it so well.

I was pretty beaten down by the time I graduated from college, but I was coping. I had a job teaching in a small tourist town in Pennsylvania, and I might have been able to find my feet myself, but something happened in my first year of teaching that messed me up really badly (future post*, I think. Maybe).

It all just got worse and worse, until by the time Daughter was born, ten years later, I always felt like there were cameras watching me constantly. There were other problems, too, I had no sense of "me", but there were also the cameras.

Watching me.

Daughter and I would be alone in the house, and it was my house, and in 1975 the smallest video cameras were huge, so intellectually I knew there were no cameras - and yet I also knew they were there, watching me. Waiting for me to be a bad mother, to make a bad face or say a bad word, or get angry, or forget to feed her on time, or drop her, or ... whatever. Waiting for me to leave an opening so they could punish me. So they could make something outrageous happen to me.

I don't know why they (this article) used the word grandiose. I guess they're focusing on the "reality TV star" aspect? I've also heard "omnipotence" used. But anyone who would use those words doesn't understand that it's actually a feeling of NO control. Of being set up, and controlled, by others.

(I do know why "omnipotence" - because someone with this condition believes it's their failures that cause other things to happen - things that others see as completely unrelated. Those who call it omnipotence don't get the scripted aspect. It's not my power making it happen - it's the scriptwriters! The people who are watching me! That's the exact opposite of omnipotence.)

Silly researchers. Of course it's an old syndrome. It's just that people who have it can now describe it in new reality show terms. That's not enough to earn it a new name.


* The description of that incident begins here.

2128 Demolition

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

After 26 years with The Company, I'm getting 25% of my 1993 salary as retirement (there have been no COLA raises), and it's not guaranteed. After just one term, Congressmen get 100% of their salary for life. Do you think they worry? Do they really understand?


Kim Komando's Video of the Day today is fun. Actually, there's two. The first one sets it up, and the second blows it away. Watch. You'll understand why I like the race-format demolition derbies. (Watch for the flagman's reaction at the end of the race.)



Monday, November 24, 2008

2127 What's an emergency? Thud.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Looking at my medical insurance. Visits to the emergency room are covered "only if it's a true emergency".

Definition of a true emergency: "You are admitted to the hospital."

So I guess we're supposed to be very good at self-diagnosis. You'd better not mistake that stiff neck muscle and headache and beginnings of a cold for meningitis, or vice-versa. And you'd better be very good at keeping two days-worth of pressure on that deep cut in your leg that needs stitches, until your doctor's office opens on Monday.

There are lots of "true emergencies" that require immediate diagnosis or treatment, but do not require hospitalization.

Sheesh. Bureaucrats!


We did once experience something like this. Jay'd had a port implanted in an artery in his chest one afternoon in Albany. They covered it with gauze and that thin plastic stuff that seals all around the edges. They said if it bled, I should call.

I woke up during the night to check on him, and found the plastic bulging, filled with almost a cup of bright red blood. I called Albany. They said to take him to the ER, but not our local hospital. I had to take him to the one about a half hour away, because the smaller local hospital wouldn't be able to handle it if it was a serious problem, and there was a 50-50 chance it was serious.

I threw him in the car, and made it to the further hospital in 13 minutes, with visions of an open spurting hole in his aorta and his chest filling with blood.

They somehow determined that it was the incision bleeding, not the artery, and they got it to stop, and sent us home.

The insurance company did squawk, but I was able to prevail, since Albany Medical Center had told us to go, but if we hadn't had a case manager who agreed it could have gone either way.

2126 Mostly about water

Monday, November 24, 2009

The highs over the past week have been barely above freezing, and in the teens overnight. I have two plastic bottles of water in the car. One is filled with water from my well. It's frozen solid. The other is "Vasa" (or something like that), labeled as "pure spring water". Not frozen. Not even little spikes of ice.

Why? What's in that stuff? I find that scary.


What's with the bathing of cats? YouTube, CuteOverload, and LOLCats are full of photos and videos of cats freaking out during baths. For some reason people seem to think cats need baths, and they find the panic funny. Not me. They upset me. That's close to torture, and I don't find it the least bit funny.

Cats don't need baths! There are only a few cats in the entire world (tigers?) who willingly immerse themselves in water. Cats are self-cleaning.

Some people seem to think that bathing a cat will lessen the dander. It doesn't. It temporarily removes the dander that's there now, but it dries her skin, which means MORE dander very soon. Vicious cycle. Not a solution. Just gets worse and worse.

Occasionally a cat will get into something icky that wouldn't be good, or is too much, for her to clean off herself. What you do then is take a rough wash cloth very wet with lukewarm water (no soap) and use it as a "tongue" to wash her. Short stokes, with and against the fur. No immersion. She'll love it.

Same with dogs. A healthy dog never needs a bath. The natural oils in his fur prevent dirt from sticking, especially if he's brushed frequently. The more often his fur is washed with soap or shampoo, the more it dries out and will soak up dirt and odors, and the more oil his skin will produce to compensate. Vicious cycle again. However, since it doesn't upset them so much, one or two baths a year probably won't be so bad, especially on a hot summer day.

In the wild, both beasties get combed by running through brush. Since we don't allow our pets to get much of that kind of exercise, we need to brush them regularly, and that's enough to keep their fur and skin in top condition.

Stop torturing those poor kitties for your own amusement!


I don't understand why anyone is still using AOL as a browser. I don't know about theirs, but mine is unacceptably slow. Videos are downright painful - four seconds of play, six seconds of load, four seconds of play, six seconds of load.... Dripping water torture. I just copy the URL over to another real browser, and it plays it at the same time it's loading. Maybe AOL doesn't have enough temp space, but that's not something I have control over. Maybe AOL hasn't heard of multitasking?

I use AOL for email. That's the only thing it's still pretty good at.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

2125 Flog-a-Blog

Sunday, November 23, 2008

There's another blogging award making the rounds, and one of my ten? twelve? readers has nominated me, which is nice, but I have to turn it down, because it's for writing, and I'd be accepting under false pretenses. I don't write well. I take 100 words to say what could be said in 10. And I don't compose - I just transcribe what I say when I talk to myself in my head. And 90% of what I do write isn't even interesting. Its main purpose is to help me remember what I did last week.

A requirement of the award, however, is to name five blogs you like and appreciate or whatever the rules said, I forget. I would like to do that! More than five, in fact.

There are several folks that I refer to or link to or definitely read with regularity, like Chris, Becs, the Queen, Michael, Scott, Shreve, Kate, Sunshine, Stephen. And a bunch more (I have 91 feeds on Bloglines. I just picked the most-looked-forward-to 10%.). I'd like to include MysteryElfx (aka the Gypsy) too, but her blog is private, so I can't, but if you think my "thuds" are amusing - well, I'm old enough that I just roll my eyes. She gets downright pissed at stupidity. She satisfies my rant-rage-urge with no effort on my part. Nya nya. I get to read her and you don't.

Chris - Recipies! I hate cooking, but love the descriptions, ingredients lists, and photos. He also provides food for introspection and growth, and reminds me what it's like to love and be loved with no conditions or reservations. Sometimes I need reminding.

Becs - Now there's a lady who can Write. You can taste, smell, feel her surroundings, recognize her coworkers, and she creates that world with a bare minimum of words.

Queen Ellen - The lady's just a little bit crazy, but that's ok. Most of her family is crazier. She's the best fun girlfriend that was never safe to introduce to your parents. (Although we've never met, she was inadvertently responsible for The Man and I getting together.)

Michael - Uncensored dispatches from the hot spots of the world, emphasizing the human aspects.

Scott - Another nutcake. Off-the-wall ideas that, OMG! just might work! Dilbert's "Daddy".

Shreve - She and tomcat Eli adopted an orphaned coyote pup, Charlie. Daily photos of Charlie as he grows and learns about the world. If you visit, start from the beginning.

Kate - Stories from the ER, photos from the wild places, tiny glimpses into a love story.

Sunshine - A teenager in Iraq, how she copes in a dangerous world.

Stephen - He picks a complicated topic every week, and explains it in a way that anyone can understand, and yet that doesn't leave out the complicating elements. He makes it sound easy.

Odd. None of them are chosen because they're especially funny. Some are, but that's not the attraction. In fact, the "funny" blogs I've followed for a while usually drift off my radar. I wander away because they're not "real". I wonder what that says about me?

I'm not amused by blogs that set out to amuse me? Or I like to be conscious of the reason the blog exists, the subtext? Or I'm a sourpuss?

Ahah - there's an exercise. See if you can identify the unacknowledged subtext in blogs:
"I want to be rich and famous!"
"I'm lonely."
"I need a place to bitch, and my world ain't it."
"I gotta remember what I did last week...."
"I want praise and worship from commenters."
"A blog will keep me honest with myself."
"Cheap psychotherapy."