Saturday, January 03, 2009

2195 Ouchy Back

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Way back, at least a week before Christmas, in expectation of snow and not wanting to carry bags of recycle material down the driveway, I loaded the back seat of my car with cut up cardboard and grocery bags full of newspaper, "smooth" paper, and mixed glass, metal, and plastic. The recycle center is open on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. I intended to dump the load the next time it was open.

Between then and now I hadn't been able to catch them open. Either they were closed for snow, or they were open but I was snowed in, or I overslept, or or or ....

In the meantime, more bags and cardboard got tossed in.

By this morning I was unable to see out the back window. I really need to get to the recycle center! I even set the alarm last night.

I woke up this morning with twinges in my lower back. I know that feeling well. It says, "be good, be careful, no lifting, or I will bite you".

The recycle center has high-sided construction dumpsters. Dumping the stuff in means I have to lift the heavy bags higher than my shoulders.

I thought about it. I went. I dumped. I am now wearing the back brace.

Friday, January 02, 2009

2194 Weird Visits

Friday, January 2, 2009

Yeah, another post. Like I don't have anything else to do.

Something weird has been happening lately. I mention something, and then almost immediately this blog gets a visit from someone associated with that something.

Like, I mentioned C0ldwater Creek in the previous post. Within an hour, I got this in the Sitemeter stats:
Domain Name ? (Commercial)
IP Address
204.120.131.# (Coldwater Creek)
Continent : North America
Country : United States (Facts)
State : Idaho
City : Sandpoint
Lat/Long : 48.3432, -116.4536 (Map)
English (U.S.)
Operating System
Microsoft WinXP
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/2008120122 Firefox/3.0.5
version 1.5
Resolution : 1680 x 1050
Color Depth : 32 bits
Time of Visit
Jan 2 2009 5:54:34 pm
Last Page View
Jan 2 2009 5:54:34 pm
Visit Length

Page Views
Referring URL

Visit Entry Page
Visit Exit Page
Out Click

Time Zone
Visitor's Time
Jan 2 2009 2:54:34 pm

Yup. C0ldwater Creek visited.


Ok, I can understand companies getting alerts when they're mentioned on the internet, but I'd think they'd just be concerned with general trends. Why on Earth would they actually visit a poor little colonial outpost like this?

I don't understand.

2193 Another "News Story" from those blithering idiots at AOL

Friday, January 2, 2009

I use AOL for my main email id. That's all I use it for. It's the one thing they get right, and it's free. When you bring up AOL you get a welcome screen that has "news stories". I should know better by now, but sometimes I get suckered into clicking on one.

One that suckered me yesterday was about a study showing that heavier women report more and better sex than thin women. Well, I'm a heavier woman trying to get thinner, and I certainly want to continue enjoying sex, and I wondered if I might end up missing out on something, maybe it has something to do with estrogen being stored in fat, and if there's anything I need now it's to preserve the little estrogen I've got left ... so I clicked on it.

There were so many things wrong with that "study" that I was literally yelling at the screen.

I should define where I'm coming from before I go commenting on "heavier women". I am 4' 10" tall, and I weigh 140 pounds. My measurements are 42, 33, 39. My legs are short and thick, and my thighs jiggle side-to-side when I walk. I am by no means thin. My goal is 125 pounds, that's where I'd like to be, and even there I'd still be pretty, uh, lush, because I'm so short. Actually, the only thing that distresses me about my body right now is that I have a thick pad on my belly (it's a loose pad on TOP of very good abs, by the way, so don't make crunch noises at me). If I could get rid of just that pad I'd be satisfied with all the rest as it is, jiggle and all. Anyway, the point is, I am considered "heavier", no matter how any study defines it.

And that was the first thing that bugged me about the story - they defined "heavier" as being a size 12 (American) and up.

First off, you can't define anything by dress size! If I pay less than $30 for a dress or blouse, I wear a 10 or 12, or a medium, maybe even a large if it's tight across the bust. If I pay more than $100 for the same thing, I wear a 6 or 8, or a small. I'm not exaggerating. I buy about half my clothes at Wal-Mart, and half at boutiques, so I have a lot of experience with the difference in size measurements. I wear a Coldwater Creek small, 6/8. Coldwater Creek caters to older women with large budgets, and wants to make them feel good about their sizes, so they put small numbers on big items. If I tried on a $2,000 sundress on Rodeo Drive, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find I wear a 4. Less expensive clothing skimps on fabric. More expensive clothing plays to egos. Simple fact.

So is that a cheap 12 or an expensive 12? And how do they get "heavier" when 12 (however defined) is supposedly the average woman's size? Heavier than what?

So ok, got past that. Next, the "study" is based on women "self reporting". Bad methodology. Self reports means self selected, often come from people who want to brag and/or have an agenda, and often have nothing to do with facts.

Last, the "researcher's" "conclusions" are that men (they're saying in general, note, not specific) prefer heavier women, find heavier women sexier.

This is not a valid conclusion.

[It may or may not be true. I'm certainly not saying that large women aren't sexy, ALL intelligent strong loving confident women are sexy!, but the conclusion simply isn't supported by the "study", and that's what I'm objecting to. I'm heavy, and I'm sexy. So there.]

It's possible that men find heavier women simply more approachable, and more available. Wolves and players all know that it's easier to get into a woman's pants if she has low self esteem, and all men dislike rejection, so if a guy is looking for a one-night stand, who's he more likely to approach? Most likely one that he thinks DOESN'T get approached a lot.

Getting approached and invited has a lot to do with how much you get.

If you watch Maury or Jerry, you see 300 pound toothless illiterate women who are sleeping with five men at the same time. Some men will take anything they can get. Some women are easy to get. At least Jerry Springer doesn't attempt to conclude that 300 pound toothless illiterate women are sexier and more in demand than other women.

Give me a break, AOL.


Yes, there are lots of men who do prefer full-bodied women. I'm dating one right now. By his standards, I'm skinny. He likes 'em BIG. I think that's why I'm having so much trouble losing that last 15 pounds. I don't feel a strong internal or external urge.

2192 More on the Great Lard Search!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Grocery store, yesterday. Fresh meat case. Pork section. Hams and chops in the bottom case, sausage and bacon on a top shelf. On the shelf between, in the prime display spot, taking up three feet of shelf, eighty four pounds of lard!


A few inches over were about 30 jars of horseradish, spread out, lying down, not standing. Obviously a "Here I am!" display.

I stared at it all in disbelief. Very unusual. This little village store never has lard. Is the whole world planning to make Welsh cookies? What's with the horseradish? Horseradish is usually in the meat section, but standing on the top of the case, not laid out. Is it all for some holiday, like just before Thanksgiving when turkeys get the prime spot? Maybe a Jewish or Muslim thing? Isn't lard pork? It's in the pork section, and between the lard and the horseradish, obviously part of the display, were packages of salt pork. Cringe. Ok, not Muslim or Jewish. Kwanzaa? Like 100 pounds of lard, salt pork, and horseradish carefully displayed for the perusal of the maybe five people of African-descent in the village environs? A bit late for Kwanzaa, anyway. Maybe New Year's dinner?

I don't understand.

I asked the checkout kid, and he didn't know, either.

Now I have to visit the meat section in a few days, and see how much of it was sold.


I was there to pick up kielbasa and sauerkraut. Kielbasa and sauerkraut for New Year's Day dinner is a Polish tradition for luck. My mother and Gramma were 100% Welsh, so I don't know where or how they picked that up, but if I didn't have at least sauerkraut to start the year and something bad happened, their ghosts wouldn't let me off lightly.

(In a pinch, pepperoni or other hot sausage, cabbage, and potatoes boiled together with a bit of caraway is an acceptable and more Welsh-like substitute.)

For The Man, it's Hoppin' John, which involves black-eyed peas, ham hock, rice, and chopped vegetables.

So, is there a New Year's tradition that involves lard, salt pork, and horseradish?

Inviting comments - does your family have a traditional New Year's dinner? What is it? Note - champagne does not qualify as a meal.

2191 Harper's on 2008

Friday, January 2, 2009

One of the many magazine subscriptions I dropped when I realized I was being buried in paper that I didn't read, was Harper's Magazine. I may reconsider that. I miss it.

The Harper's summing-up of 2008 is at It's great. One screen-worth. Humans really are just a herd of monkeys.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2190 On Thermostats

Thursday, January 1, 2009

One of my many bad habits is staying up almost all night. I lose track of time. Left to myself, I sometimes I don't get to bed until 4 or 5 am.

It's a bigger problem in the summer than in the winter, because in the winter I have a programmable thermostat to help.

I have programed it to rise in the morning, stay steady during the sun hours, rise again a bit after the sun goes down, and then drop precipitously starting at about 10:00 pm. That way, by midnight it's approaching 60 degrees in here, and no matter where I am or what I'm doing, I start thinking about how warm and comfy the bed is. It works. I also sleep better if I'm cold when I snuggle into a warm bed.

There's supposed to be another benefit to dropping the temperature at night. It's supposed to save oil. (Especially important this winter. I got rooked. I prepurchased 800 gallons at what turned out to be the highest price of the year. Freakin' stuff dropped right after I signed the contract. Yeah, prepurchase. They offered a guaranteed maximum price, but that was higher than the prepurchase price, and I was SURE it was going to go up. I screwed up. Who'da thunk it would go down? Nobody saw that coming.)

Anyway, I'm not convinced a lower overnight setting does save oil.

Overnight, when the temp drops, it's not just the air that gets colder. Everything in the house gets colder. Proof is in the morning toilet seat! So when the furnace comes on, it has to not only warm the air, but everything else, too. The furnace runs steadily for over an hour.

So the question is, if the furnace doesn't run for about nine hours, and then runs steadily for an hour, did I really save any oil? Would it be more or less efficient to maintain the same temperature around the clock?

I also don't believe that setting a lower constant temperature saves much, if the difference between the inside and outside temperature is great. The furnace runs just as much, just as often, to maintain that constant. It's just that the constant is lower. If the goal is to save oil, you need to turn it on later in the fall, and off earlier in the spring, plug air leaks (including and especially the forgotten attic door/hatch), open the drapes to the sun and close them to the dark, and when you finish using the oven, open the door to let it cool into the kitchen. (Yeah, that last one's silly, but I love to stand in front of a cooling oven. I actually go so far as to use a shot glass to hold the door ajar while it presses the light switch off.)


Teeth. Bane. My natural color is not white. As a teenager, even before smoking and coffee and daily tea, my teeth were in the middle of the dentist's color chart. It may be due to all the ear infection and strep throat antibiotics in my youth. Start that low, add smoking, coffee, tea, and juices, and they're worse, and whitening toothpastes and treatments don't seem to help.

I discovered something that does help. At home now, I drink my coffee, tea, and fruit juices with a straw. I don't remember why I started doing it, but I kept doing it because it slows me down, forcing me to sip instead of gulp, which is more satisfying, but anyway, the difference to my teeth is amazing.

I wonder if I could patent that.

2189 Arriving in 2009

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Forgot to mention - I'm snowed in. Eight inches of fluff in the driveway, 12 degrees F, and enough wind to screw up the TV reception. I suppose it's too much to hope that the wind will blow all the snow out of the yard. Otherwise I get to begin the year with my favorite activity - throwing snow. With wind, it all ends up in my face and down my neck.

I hate winter.

The Man's email promises that 2009 will be better than 2008. Ah, how he toys with me.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2188 TheYear of Falling In Love, Over and Over

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

First, an interesting little fact I came across today, a statistic from the Congressional Budget Office, released in December 2007: From 2003 to 2005, the increase in income for the top one percent exceeded the total income of the bottom 20 percent.

Yeah, I'm aware that the average income of the bottom 20% is pretty durn low, and I don't know if that's the bottom 20% period, or the bottom 20% of those who file taxes, although I suspect it's the latter because otherwise the CBO wouldn't have the numbers. But whatever, it's still a pretty wow statement. And those top 1% folks get all kinds of tax CUTS, because they "create jobs".

Um, something's not working as planned. Unless it was that top 1% who did the planning, that is.

Oh, wait, oh yeah....


It seems to be the custom for bloggers to sum up the past year in the last post of the year.

I have nothing to sum up. Here I am. It's one year and 10 months since I met The Man. When I'm not with him, I find him extremely frustrating. I don't see this actually going anywhere, and if I want a full time companion I'm wasting time on him. He's a Type-A, nowhere near slowing down, let alone retiring, and things will go on exactly as they have, indefinitely. He's also nerdy enough that the threat of losing me would be a temporary distraction until he found a work project to bury himself in. When I haven't seen him in a while I can clearly see all of that, to the point where I had several times decided, absolutely, definitely, to break it off with him.

And then I DO see him and I fall in love all over again. There's just something about him. I fell in love more than 30 times in the past year. That's pretty heady business. Addictive.

And that was pretty much the year. I feel like I've been hanging on a hook on the door. I have done nothing else, learned nothing else, gone nowhere else, accomplished nothing else, and I don't know if I can change that, or even if I want to.


Well, youse guys have a good start to whatever you want to make of 2009. Me, I'm going to hang here a bit longer and think about it.


Later: It's two minutes into the new year. The Man is in Ohio, working. We swapped short emails.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2187 Lard & Currants

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Daughter has located lard (see previous post) and I have found currants. We're set.

There's no lard in the stores around here. It's ridiculous. I can't even find full-fat yogurt! It seems like all the stores here are determined to make you healthy, whether you like it or not. Everything (except the cookie aisle) is low fat and sugar free! Even the low-fat yogurt is being edged out by fat-free yogurt. Yuck. I want the real thing.

It's not how much fat is in the food, folks, it's how much of the food you eat! And how much exercise you get. My Gramma ate high fat high cholesterol foods (one of her favorites was stuffed veal heart with blood gravy), and root vegetables but very little green leafy stuff, and she was physically and mentally active into her mid-nineties. She ate what would now be considered a terrible diet. But the only time she sat was to eat. She walked everywhere. And sometimes she walked when she didn't have a where.

That was the days of no air conditioning, when everyone sat on front porches in the afternoons and evenings. Gramma would walk the North Scranton neighborhood, waving and visiting. It was the days of trolley cars into the city, when you walked to the stops, and from the stops to the stores, and carried your purchases home on your lap. Your car, if you had one, was parked in a distant garage, from which you fetched it for infrequent long-distance trips. From this, one would assume that people who live in large cities and have no need for cars would be healthy - but they breathe that air! Not the same at all. Back when, Scranton air was decent, even though home heating was anthracite coal-fired. I don't know why, but the air was clean and clear.

I have two recipes I love that call for suet. Good luck with that. One is for a bird cake that wants suet, chunky peanut butter, seeds, and other good stuff. My backyard birds love it. But there's no suet in the local stores, except in ready-made bird cakes, and the village butcher, where you could get all kinds of interesting stuff like marrow and fresh blood for gravy, is no more. The other recipe is for a real Indian (as in Native American) pudding, that calls for coarse ground yellow corn meal, suet, fruit juices, and several kinds of berries and nuts, steamed in a bag. It's wonderful, but I gave up on that one so long ago I'm not sure I can find the recipe again.

The Welsh cookies absolutely require currants. Raisins won't do.

Currants were almost impossible to find in the late '70s and through the '80s. Some government group had discovered long ago that black currant plants harbored blister rust that was killing white pines, and there was another outbreak then, so to protect the pines, most commercial black currant plants had been killed. You could still get white or red currants, but they weren't the same. No flavor. Currants are back, but some states still ban them, and I understand that even where they are allowed you still can't plant currants within X yards of any white pine stands.


The Man is now somewhere in Ohio, doing Something Important for a Large Financial Corporation at their headquarters. His services are so unique that they have agreed to his condition that they fly him to North Carolina for a one-day visit to his parents over New Year's Eve. I don't know how long he'll be away, but what he's doing is high visibility. He's approaching 50, and hopes this will turn into a permanent position. He's tired of fighting fires. That's what they've promised him, but I don't trust any company promises unless I see them in writing, from someone in a position to make that promise.

(The Company had a line on everything they put out having to do with benefits: "...may be changed at any time for any reason". They promised me a trip to Japan if I joined the legal department. Didn't happen. They promised lifelong free medical insurance to those of us who took the buyout retirement. Didn't happen. They promised cost of living increases to the retirement checks. I haven't seen one in the ten years I've been getting the checks, and I suspect there has been significant inflation in that time. My widow's check from Social Security has had three raises over the same period. So much for promises.)

I was unsuccessful in convincing The Man to list a conjugal visit as another requirement. I guess he thought I was joking. I'm not. I am bereft. Maybe Welsh cookies will take away the pain.

Monday, December 29, 2008

2186 Welsh Cookies

Monday, December 29, 2008

I've spent much of the day reading internet posts on the current Israeli military (re)action, on both sides of the issue, all kinds of opinions. For a personal viewpoint, read what Lisa R has to say.

The rest of the day I was trying to whip some order into the den/computer room. There's still a lot of stuff here left from Jay. Cables, I don't know what they go to. Disks, I don't know what's on them. Boxes, I don't know what's in them. I figure if I haven't needed whatever they are by now, I can throw them out.

In one of the boxes I found an old sport watch. I remember Jay wearing it. The band broke and he wasn't able to replace it, so he bought a new watch. That was in probably 1996 or so. The sport watch had been in the box since then, I guess, and I was surprised to find it still running, twelve years later, AND it had the correct date and time! It was like having a living piece of Jay.

I started pressing buttons on the side to find out what they did, and it died in my hands.

That was sad.

I also did an internet search for Welsh cookies. (Not really cookies, technically they're griddle cakes.) I've got a sudden powerful hunger for them. There used to be two or three places you could get them, including the Vermont catalog, but it seems like no one has them now. I have Gramma's recipe, but it's a lot of work for just me and I'm unlikely to make them. I was amused to read some stranger's post bragging that they had acquired "the best" recipe "from a church in North Scranton", and I whooped. That's Gramma's church! And yeah, they're the best. The cookies were the church fundraiser, and all the women were sworn on the Bible to keep the recipe secret.

Anyway, I mentioned it to Daughter, and she suddenly has the craving, too, so we're going to make them together, next Monday. In the meantime, we're both searching for black currants and lard. Yeah, lard. No trying to get fancy with butter or shortening. If we make one batch every few years, they'd better be made RIGHT!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

2185 Pushing Daisies

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Kate is also unhappy that Pushing Daisies won't be back after this season. (See the "won't be back" link for a synopsis of the show premise.) I'm happy to know that someone else liked it!

I can't say the show is great. The stories are thin and repetitious, the music and narration can be annoying, but visually it satisfied something deep within me.

The colors are bright, saturated, and visually interesting. It's circles within circles. The pies, the windows in the pie shop, the gate at the sisters' house, the huge hats, bowls, even Olive's name, face, "frontage", and hair - it's all circles. Sometimes I ignore the story and just look for more circles.

The stories may be thin, but the characters are fun. I mean, how can a show with Kristin Chenoweth and a nutsy Swoosie Kurtz in a jeweled eye patch not be entertaining?

Even though it was nominated for twelve Emmys the first season, ABC seemed to have forgotten about it. The second season (after a hiatus caused by the writers' strike) got no advertising, was moved around from evening to evening so I kept losing it, and consequently the viewers weren't there. It almost looked like someone said "Let's kill it."

Kristin Chenowith has been turning up on talk shows - her agent's selling her hard - and I've noticed that when they talk about everything she's done and been in, they never mention "Pushing Daisies".

Sad. I am reminded of "Picket Fences". Another good show that died of neglect.