Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2725 In Proportion

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Good judgment comes from experience,
and experience comes from bad judgment.

-----------------------------------

I've been scrounging around in boxes of old photos, and found this one - me at 20.
.

2724 Mysterious cold draft

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's not enough to come up with a good idea;
you have to come up with the good idea at the right time.
Many people with a good idea present it too soon,
before anyone is ready to accept it,
and then drop the idea when they meet resistance.
When the world is ready, someone else puts forth the same idea and gets all the credit.
(Worse, nobody will remember that you had it first.)
-- Me --

--------------------------------------

It's so cold in the house today. I don't know why some days feel colder in here than others, regardless of the temperature outside. Worse, the thermostat is reporting the same temp as always, so it doesn't make any sense. Maybe my body lies.

There's a cold draft in the den. Several years ago a bird hit the double paned Andersen crank-out window in the den and broke the outside pane. I had a glass replacement place in the village replace the glass. I assumed that they'd done a good job because, well, that's what they DO, and there's never been any steam or cloudiness between the panes, but maybe the thermal properties were lost. There's cold rolling off the window, but not that much, not as much as the palpable draft. I can't figure it out.

Maybe someday when I get the stacks of crap away from the outside wall I'll find a racoon-sized hole in the wall and the mystery will be solved.
.

2723 Tying up the threads

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

In Scott Turow‘s Burden of Proof, Sandy's daughters
describe his love life as “a tom-tom network of females
wailing over his shortcomings late into the night.”

Reminds me of a lot of guys I've dated.
------------------------------------------------------------------

On Monday I drove to NJ to visit Daughter. Her wrapped Christmas present to me was a scarf she had crocheted, and scented soap. You have no idea how happy the scarf made me - not so much the scarf itself, but that she is learning to crochet!

It IS a big deal.

I have very few skills, but one is needlework. Knitting, crocheting, embroidery, netting, lacemaking, tatting, sewing. I don't do it often anymore, and I don't have the best sense of color and texture, but I'm good at the craft. I can't cook, am a miserable housekeeper, and I don't entertain. I didn't have much beyond needlework in the traditional feminine skills to pass on to a daughter. And back when, she flatly rejected it. I tried to teach her, and she would have none of it. Total rejection of even the concept. It felt like a rejection of me.

Nowadays, Daughter likes to cook, and she makes it look easy. She keeps a clean house, and doesn't tolerate dirt (a bit of clutter, but I don't think I could get along with anyone who couldn't tolerate some clutter - it's life being lived!) And she entertains easily and often. She grew all that herself, it was nothing I could teach her or pass on to her, and I'm proud of her.

Now my daughter is learning crochet, and what she gave me for Christmas is connection.

Ok, weird. But it's there. It's a big deal to me.

She may decide it's not for her and quit, but that's ok. She's a different person. But she picked up a crochet hook and tried it, and I am very happy.

-----------------------------------

I drove home yesterday, and then went to a movie with my meetup group last night. (And I wore Daughter's scarf over my head. It's very warm, and the color is perfect for my hair and face.)

There were supposed to be four of us at the movie, but the fourth didn't show up, so it was just me and two guys whom I already know from Mensa. This is the group that has 20 members. I'm hoping that after New Year's it'll pick up a bit.

Last night's movie was "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee" (Becs, you ought to see it if you can find it), and next week I've scheduled "The Road".

My singles' group now has 14 members. Our first outing is a dinner on January 12. I hope the attendees have some thoughts about what to do next, because I have no flippin' idea.

Tonight is a dinner at a Turkish restaurant in Albany. Tomorrow night is a party in Connecticut, with a buffet, band, and bachelor auction. (I hope to buy me one.)

Friday I start getting serious about cleaning up around here.
.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

2722 Biting Off Too Much?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

"Cats": With cats, one rule is true. Don't speak until you're spoken to.

------------------------------

Quick update - my movie meetup group has 20 members, and the over-50 singles group has 8, even though it went public just last Friday. I gotta get organized! (Tuesday update - singles' group now at 11.) (Wednesday update - 15.)

I feel like an over-enthusiastic hen whose eggs all hatched at once. Or as an old friend used to say, "... whose eggs all came home to roost."
.

2721 Rearview Mirror

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A guest for a while sees a mile.
-- Jewish Proverb --

-----------------------------------------------

I may be missing for the rest of the year. I might visit here, or at others' blogs. I might not. No big deal. I'm just going to be very busy.

In the meantime, enjoy this from Shoebox.com, by Scott Emmons, found at http://www.shoeboxblog.com/?p=13842:


.

2720 RIP

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A ditch can't be filled with dirt from its sides.
-- Jewish Proverb --

------------------------------

Every once in a while I'd search the internet for Ex#1. I never found him. My late husband died in my arms, and Ex#2 is living in NJ, but I didn't know what happened to Ex#1.

Having no assets, our divorce in 1968 was very quick and nasty. We made a deal that whoever remarried first would buy the other a steak dinner. He remarried within six months, a woman with two children.

In the mid-'80s, his Catholic wife wanted a church wedding, so he contacted me and I dutifully filled out the forms and wrote an essay on why we married, and why I left, and the Catholic church, after three iterations, granted an annulment. It was very difficult to get it right, and brought up a lot of stuff better forgotten, and I was left angry because he never thanked me. (Probably because I refused to help pay for it.)

Lately, I've been wondering how things worked out for him. Besides, he owes me a steak dinner!

Today I heard about the Social Security Death Index (through a secret on PostSecret, http://ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/ssdi.cgi), and I checked it.

Robert Morris Derrick, DOB October 18, 1941, Pennsylvania resident, DOD November 24, 1997.
.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

2719 newly married man onions

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Competent leaders have always understood the crucial difference
between public proclamations and private bargains.
-- Stephen Jay Gould --

Understanding is one thing; justifying is another.
-- Silk --

-----------------------------------------

Someone somewhere arrived on this blog today by searching for newly married man onions. I am dying of curiosity. What were they really looking for?
.

Friday, December 25, 2009

2718 Switched Links 1

Friday, December 25, 2009

What part of “Thou shalt not kill” don’t you understand?

----------------------------

Still cleaning out saved feeds. These are all from "Switched.com", stuff I want to get back to, or keep for future reference.

Backupify Backs Up your Online Data... Online
I have stuff stored all over online - photos on Flickr, videos on YouTube, mail on Gmail, Documents on Box, and yeah, what if something happens to those services? I'll wait a while and see what others have to say about Backupify.

What's the Best Super Portable Laptop Under $500?
Switched says Toshiba's T-115, packed with two gigabytes of memory and 250 gigabytes of storage.

A Very Special Holiday E-Reader Roundup
A comparison of the various digital book readers, and of places to get digital books.

How to Really, Truly Uninstall Old Programs
I'm never sure when I uninstall something, that I got it all. Switched recommends Revo Uninstaller -- a free, easy-to-use utility that lets you fully delete whatever apps you want, as well as search out the fragments of old apps you thought you'd already deleted.

Fix That Burned-In Image on Your Plasma TV
Make snow for 15 minutes.

'Glowing' Stickers Illuminate Your Keyboard For Cheap
The original white letters gradually disappear from my keyboard, probably because I type with my fingernails. This is a place to get glowing keytop stickers, so I can find the "E", "S", and "O" again.

Man Builds Biological Virus Sculptures From Salvaged PCs
Interesting.

Kill Gmail Ads With a Few Choice Words
There is a trick that will banish the keyword ads from your e-mails forever. The advertisements are generated by looking for certain keywords in a message, but there are certain phrases that Google doesn't allow. Obscenities and violent words, if used in a certain ratio, will stop paid content from showing up in Gmail. So you sign off with, oh, say, this sentence: "I enjoy the massacre of ads. This sentence will slaughter ads without a messy bloodbath", Google/Gmail will back off, whimpering. I wonder if it would work for Yahoo mail, too?

Bill Gates Providing Classic Physics Lectures Online
Bill Gates has secured the rights to a collection of Richard Feynman's Cornell University lectures from 1964 and will make them available over the Web, for free. Feynman's lectures are interesting and accessible.

Why Female Astronauts Never Made It to Space in the 1960s
Back when women were just tall children.

France May Regulate Photoshopped Photos
Sounds like a good idea to me. In the photo on the right, can you guess which one is the real natural person, and which is the idealized public image young people think is real? And what does it lead them to think of their own natural bodies?

If God Texted the Ten Commandments...
...what would they look like? I confess that if I didn't already know what they were supposed to say, I might not be able to figure it out.
.

2717 Christmas Kitties

Friday, December 25, 2009

The mystery of love and life and death is really grander and more
glorious than human beings can grasp, much less legislate.
-- Fenton Johnson, 1996 --

-------------------------------------

May the lights of the season warm your cockles
and leave a song in your heart.
.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

2716 The Scrubs Christmas Eve

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Please stop blaming your narrow-minded prejudices on God.

--------------------------

The "Scrubs" Christmas Eve show is on TV right now. I had forgotten about the song. I found this - Christmas Eve in the emergency room:

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQo1zD6nKRc]
.

2715 More links

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

You’re pro-life AND pro-war? I’m anti-hypocrite, thanks.

------------------------------------


More links I've been saving. Clearing out my Bloglines saves:

ratf*ck
The shadow of your smile.... (Not safe for the office, depending on your office.)

Eggshell Art
With a Dremel and an egg, you, too, can create beauty.

Vaporware
What the airlines are actually selling.

Clearing up some issues when it comes to evolution
A short list laying down some definitions, clearing up some misconceptions.

Observing The Outside World
One of my favorite photos from "The Daily Coyote". Those eyes!

Most Beautiful Letter
A letter written by a young man, from jail. It's why we should care.
.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2714 Bored much?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Caring for the health of others - isn’t that a moral value?

----------------------------------

Lesson for the day: If you are waiting anxiously, you are waiting with bated breath, not baited breath. "Bated", as in "abated", means "held". You are holding your breath.

Although if you had eaten cheese and breathed into a mouse hole, you might then be waiting with baited breath.

---------------------------

I forget where I found the card at left, and even after checking several Bloglines feeds I can't find it now. Forgive me if it's copyrighted, but I'm not making money on it, so it's ok, I think.

At least three readers will get the reference, for different reasons. Even if you go changing the date on him, eventually Santa will find you. And no matter what you build in the back yard, Santa knows the difference. Merry Christmas to you all.

----------------------------

The Roman Catholic church objected to the Mexico City proposition to allow same-sex marriage, labeling the proposal immoral, saying that "marriage must hold the promise of procreation."

I've heard that before, and it has always struck me as hypocritical, because the Church doesn't require fertility testing before marriage, and will happily perform a marriage involving a 60-year-old bride. Where's the "promise" there? And if you're thinking those might have a miracle, well, then it's not hypocritical to deny same-sex marriage, it's arrogant! Don't go limiting or challenging God.
.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2713 Western Ave., three days before...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ask Jesus about torture.

-------------------------------------

... or ask anyone who was on Western Avenue near Crossgates this evening....

I went to dinner in the Albany area. The guy who set it up said, "Come before or after your shopping. Located conveniently near Crossgates Mall."

Ack! A restaurant on a major 7-lane street, just down from the largest mall within an 80-mile circumference, a quarter mile off the Northway, three days before Christmas, is anything but "convenient"! Especially when we're meeting near the end of rush hour.

It was downright scary.
.

2712 Law Blog Links

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Those who can make you believe absurdities
can make you commit atrocities.
-- Voltaire --

-----------------------------

I get feeds from the Wall Street Journal law blog. I click "keep" on some, when the post has a lot of links I want to read, or when I need to think about the topic a bit more, or when I want to be reminded to follow up on what happens next.

I've got an overload of kept posts out there now. Needs clearing out. I'm going to put them here, so I can find them when I want them. Perhaps others might find something interesting here. (Note: Scotus is the Supreme Court of the United States. Shouldn't that be Scotusoa?)

"Did Netflix Violate Subscribers’ Privacy? Lawsuit Says Yes."
I had to giggle at what these folks did, comparing comments across sites to identify the subjects. It's exactly what I would have done.

"Defendants’ Ability to Suppress Evidence Taking a Hit"
I don't much care for illegal searches. On the other hand, when police find strong evidence of a serious crime in an illegal search, I hate to see it thrown out. On the third hand, if illegal searches are winked at, there's an opening for abuse. It's sticky. The one thing I'm sure I don't agree with is that the law should be loosened simply because as is, it puts pressure on police to lie in court about the conditions of the search. It's a snake pit. And the thinking in unraveling the snakes is the same thinking that justifies torture.

"On Congress, the Estate Tax and the Constitution"
In 2001, Congress passed a bill that called for a gradual reduction of the federal estate tax over the next decade. However, the bill did not provide for continuation of the reduction. In 2010, the federal estate tax will disappear entirely, and in 2011, the tax would return to the pre-legislation rate of 55% after the first million. (When the bill was first passed, my comment was that we could expect a lot of wealthy relatives to "suddenly drop dead" in 2010.) So, now what? Which way is it likely to go? Back up or stay down? Is Granny going to get her medicine or not? Is anybody listening?

"Does N.C. City Councilman’s Avowed Atheism Bar Him From Office?"
This one really bugs me. A particular religious affiliation should not be a requirement for a job, let alone an elected government office. How did it go on so long? In so many states? On the one hand it's clearly unconstitutional. On the other hand, it's a political hot potato.

"The Death Penalty for Being Gay and HIV Positive? Uganda Mulls It"
Scary. Your church tithes at work? The missionaries are backing off from responsibility, I suspect more because of the death sentence than because of any tendency toward tolerance.

"California: Where the Death Penalty is Better Than a Life Sentence"
Death sentences across the country are not being carried out for a variety of reasons. In California, there are 680+ inmates on death row, but there have been only 13 executions since 1977, and none in the past four years. This has led defendants convicted of capital cases to request the death penalty rather than life sentences - because the living conditions are better. They get private cells, their own TV, meals delivered to the cell, better access to telephones, and private touch-allowed visiting arrangements.

"The Proposed Tax Break for the Trial Bar"
There's a bill in Congress that could/would make it more profitable (or at least less of a gamble) for law firms to pursue frivolous lawsuits.

"Scotus to Cops: You Have 6 Hours to Get that Confession"
We often hear of people confessing to a crime they didn't commit because the authorities browbeat them into it by questioning them for umpty hours without a break. The Supreme Court says no, that's not allowed.

"Philadelphia Freedom? Not For Us, Say Tour Guides"
Philadelphia says that anyone talking about history in the city center, for money, must pass a history test and be licensed. (Does this makes it illegal for your teacher to tell you about the Liberty Bell on your school field trip?) Some tour guides are objecting. I can see both sides of the lawsuit. The city wants to protect you from the tour guide who makes things up as he goes along. On the other hand, I am tired of the push to "certify" everything. Seems to me a good compromise would be to offer certification/licensing, and let the visitor hire a certified guide, or any other guide he wants.

"Chicago Trib: Use Caution While Driving Through Tenaha, Texas"
This is something that REALLY jerks my chain. Police in small towns near state lines all over the south are using the "asset-forfeiture law" -- a law which permits local police agencies to keep money and other property used in or acquired through the commission of a crime and add the proceeds to their budgets -- to rip off people without ever charging them with a crime. They just stop people, threaten them, and take their money, property, car, everything they can get, with no arrest or charge. Most of the people they select for this extortion don't have the means to attempt to sue the government. It really pisses me off. It pisses me off even more that "everybody knows" it's happening, but no one does anything about it.

"Walter Mondale: ‘Gideon v. Wainwright is at Risk’"
You know how on TV when somebody is arrested, they are told that "if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you"? That came from G v. W, and the devil is in that "cannot afford". About the only people likely to get a court-appointed attorney are the homeless. A lot of innocent poor people end up in jail because they can't put up a defense.
"Under Florida law, he could be disqualified for counsel if he has assets exceeding $2,500 (excluding a house), a car valued above $5,000, or had posted bail of more than $5,000. [Silk: Note the "or". That means that using a bondsman, he'd have to have put up only $500 of his own, so total assets of only $500 loses you a lawyer. ]

Elsewhere, writes Mondale, things are worse. In New Hampshire, [he] could be found ineligible for counsel if he had a home valued at more than $20,000. Courts in Virginia could deny him counsel because of the amount of money possessed by family members, even if [he] had no power over that money.

...As a result, people are forced to defend themselves and can be wrongly convicted."
"In Tribune Bankruptcy, Judge Caps Sidley’s Fees at $925/hr"
Confirmation that lawyers are grossly overpaid. Honest pay for honest work is ok, but $925 just doesn't seem honest, let alone the $1,100/hr. initially requested. Yes, there's specialized knowledge involved, but no more specialized, and no more difficult, than many other jobs - and in much nicer surroundings than most.

"Do Federal Judges Discriminate Against Discrimination Claims?"
Very few employment discrimination (pay/promotion) claims are won, and one possible explanation is a bias on the part of the jurists - that if the employer didn't acknowledge any discrimination and settle the case before court, then obviously there's nothing to the claim. This makes lawyers reluctant to press the case. It's a snowball, and if it continues to grow, why would any employer ever admit error and settle?
.

Monday, December 21, 2009

2711 My blog has a virus?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.
-- Maori proverb --

-----------------------------------------

-----------------------

In Post #2709, I expressed shock at the pants worn by a certain actor in a certain WWII-themed TV show.

Well, it's gone viral. I'm getting hits on that post referred by email servers, so I guess somebody had found it and emailed it around, and this morning the URL was posted in a forum for fans of the show, and I'm getting hits from there. No comments - just hits. (I bookmarked the forum, so if anyone leaves an interesting comment, I'll pass it along.)

Gee, I didn't think it was THAT amusing....
.

2710 Branching Out

Monday, December 21, 2009

When fascism comes to America, it will be
wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.
-- Sinclair Lewis --

-------------------------------

For one fee, you can open up to three Meetup groups. I just opened another one, in addition to my art house film group. The new one is for 50+ singles (and anyone else who appreciates a mature mind). Most of the existing singles' groups are in the southern end of the counties, and they seem to concentrate on booze, dance bands, and strenuous hikes. Mine will be northern-based, up here where I live, and we'll do dinners, movies, strolls, blueberry-picking, museums, festivals, auctions, and anything else that looks interesting, with an emphasis on conversation.

It'll be promoted on the Meetup site in about 70 hours, and we'll see what happens.

------------------------------

Jasper and I are having a battle of wills. Being a boy cat, he is prone to urinary tract infections, so he's supposed to get food that keeps his ph low. I had been buying some prescription food from the vet, but he refused to eat it. He'd been stealing Miss Thunderfoot's special kidney diet instead. Now that she's gone, that's not an option for him any more.

I've bought bags and boxes and cans of every commercial and specialty cat food I can find that says "for urinary tract health", and he refuses to eat any of it. The only thing he will eat is cheap grocery store food, which won't help his ph. And the occasional mouse, when he finds them.

So he hasn't eaten much in the past three weeks. He's a bit chubby, so it won't kill him to diet a bit. If I pick him up, put him at the dish, and then crouch there and stroke him, he'll eat, but only as long as I stroke him.

I refuse to be trained to do that.

I put food out. He ignores it. I feel guilty. He comes into the den and pats my leg and leads me to the dish. I ignore him. He cries, little bitty kitty "Eeee? Eeee? Eeee?", I crouch and stroke him and he eats a few bites.

I will not cook for him. Hell, I don't cook for ME! Besides, he'd probably refuse it anyway. He has had no interest in any people food I've offered to share with him. Not even tuna fish. I don't know what he wants. (Actually, yeah. He wants "Alley Cat" and "Friskies".)

It all reminds me of when I tried to move Daughter from the breast to the bottle. Her stubbornness then should have been a warning of the teen years.
.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

2709 '70s Beefcake Yikes!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Illegal immigration began in 1492.

------------------------

When TV went digital, I gained a bunch of secondary stations. One of them is "Retro TV", which shows old programs all day. On Sundays, when all that's on the regular over-the-air networks is sports and sales pitches, I usually just have the radio on. Today, I went retro.

Eek! "Black Sheep Squadron" was on from 1976 to 1978. I never watched it then, didn't watch much TV at all in the '70s. I'm watching it now, and I can't believe what I'm seeing.

Robert Conrad plays Pappy Boyington. His pants are so tight they cut into his crack, have stretch pulls on the sides, and, uh, they're so thin it's obvious he's not wearing underwear. It's also obvious he "dresses to the right and down". And he's proud of it. I'd think it was a sand-stuffed sock, except that the pants are so revealing you can almost see the veins.

Then I noticed the other actors. The light-haired guy dresses to the right and up. His major bulgeage falls below, to either side of the seam.

The crotch seam on those guys cuts in so high and tight it HAS to be uncomfortable. It looks painful. The only actors who look comfortable are the older guys. I wonder how many pairs of pants wardrobe went through every week, not to mention all the retakes, from all those split seams in action shots.

Was that normal in the late '70s? Were the producers trying to attract the female audience?

It looks ridiculous.

-------------------------------

I did a little reading on Robert Conrad. Apparently he was famous for tight pants, wore them in "Wild Wild West", too, when he wasn't wearing leather pants. The camera loved his rear end - he often stood with his legs slightly apart to emphasize the dimples on the sides. (My mind is drifting - I love the dimples on The Man's backside. He has narrow hips, and high, tight, round, firm, perfect globes that slide smoothly into his thighs, with side dimples even when he's just standing straight, all in smooth shiny melted bittersweet chocolate - but at least he hides them in looser pants.)

Ahem.

Conrad says he wore tight pants "because I found out they work".

------------------------------------

Later - Hey, all you folks arriving from blacksheepone.proboards.com - my regular readers (all silent 20 or so of them) are women, and I'll bet half of them have searched for Robert Conrad photos and clips as a result of reading this. So what's got YOUR panties in a twist, uh, ruffle?
.

2708 I hate winter (in case that wasn't clear enough already).

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The last time Republicans cared about my rights, I was a fetus.

-------------------------------


I couldn't get a consensus anywhere yesterday as to how much snow we were supposed to get overnight. Estimates from the TV weathermen, acquaintances, three different online weather sites, and the weather radio (nat'l weather service) ranged from 2 to 20 inches. Tall-Dark-and-Handsome#1 at the gas station assured me we'd get 4 inches. The grocery stores were packed yesterday with people stocking up.

So I prepared.

I bought cat food and a few other things that I didn't want to run out of, filled some bottles with water (if the electricity goes out I have no heat or water), boosted the thermostat and took it off program so that the house wouldn't get cold overnight, in case there was no heat in the morning, called my plow guy and said if we got three inches or more he should plow for me, set aside the cash to pay him, and at 2 am I moved my car to the bottom of the driveway.

I kept putting off moving the car, because it was cold and windy, and dark, and the long walk back up the drive is scary in the dark, but I knew if I didn't move it, we'd get at least a foot. The plow man would have to call me when he arrived, to move the car out onto the road so he could get through, and I just knew that would be at like 6 am or something. Walking back up the drive, there were glints of falling snow in the beam of the flashlight.

This morning, nothing. No snow.

For all you local folks, you're welcome. If I had made no preparations, you KNOW we'd have got 2 or 3 feet, so I know I am responsible.
.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

2707 Avatar; Housewarming

Saturday, December 19, 2009

When Jesus said to love your enemies,
he probably meant don’t kill them.

--------------------------

Avatar (last night) was terrific! I do recommend that everyone see it, BUT you must see it in 3-D.

The first few minutes are story setup, then we get to see the planet. The middle of the movie is exploring the planet, the forests, the floating mountains, the animals, the people. It's all incredibly beautiful. Phosphorescent. The seeds from the sacred tree look like a cross between dandelion seeds and jellyfish, and act like butterflies. The "horses" look like a dream of what a horse should look like, without looking like a horse at all.

The last third of the movie is ruined by the army, but I guess that's to appease the males in the audience. Very destructive. Makes one angry.

This is not a spoiler, just something I noticed: The science lady made a big deal about how the trees' roots are "neurally" connected, and communicate, and how everything is interconnected. So when the bulldozers and flamethrowers start, I fully expected that the trees would fight back. I expected to see the trees reach up and bat the helicopters out of the sky, and was disappointed when something different happened. I mentioned that to the group at dinner after the movie, and everybody blinked twice and said yeah, now that I've mentioned it, yeah....

Battling trees would have been so much neater - it would say to the invaders, "the entire planet is against you, it will do you no good to come back, you cannot win." As it is, they've left it open for a re-invasion sequel, so I wouldn't be surprised if trees weren't the perfect first plan, but it got changed when someone said, "hey, we may have a franchise here".

Of all the movies I've seen in the past year, this is the only one I want to see again, because of the beauty of the luminous forest. See it if you have the chance, but it MUST be in 3-D. Otherwise, flat, it's just an ok story.

---------------------------

This afternoon was a housewarming for Roman. Some people (particularly the ones coming from Massachusetts, western NY, and Albany) canceled because of the predicted snow, but we had 16 people, so it was pretty good. Roman's new townhouse is beautiful. His master bath is amazing, with both a 2-person jacuzzi and a huge shower.

I am exhausted. I made BLT soup this morning. I figured it would take me an hour to dice, shred, and grate the bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, pepper, and nutmeg for a double batch and get it all mixed together. Instead, it took almost three hours. Then when I got to Roman's, FW was making wassail, and she apparently didn't know how to whip egg whites (6 eggs) to stiff peaks, so I did that, with a fork. Yeouch. And I washed dishes as they were used in preparations. And then I washed dishes at cleanup, so people could take their things home. My hands are so dry they itch.

But, it's been a satisfying two days. And I'll be joining two of the Albany guys for bar trivia some Tuesday soon.

Something I noticed - it's better to have too few chairs than too many. Roman had a huge sectional sofa, some side chairs, and the chairs from his kitchen set in the living room, and so everyone SAT, in a big circle! (This is a Mensa bunch - I suppose if they all couldn't sit, they'd complain.) But that meant very little circulation, little opportunity for one-on-one. One of the Albany guys and I sort of flirted a little across the room, but so little it wasn't worth the attention that actually getting up and talking to each other would have drawn.

Especially if a certain gossip had intimated that Roman and I used to date. Awkward?
.

Friday, December 18, 2009

2706 "X"

"The great enemy of the truth is very often
not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest --
but the myth -- persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."
-- John F. Kennedy --

-------------------------------------

------------------------

You know it's cold outside when you come into the house, get a package out of the freezer, and it feels warm.

-------------------------

Singer Christine Mercado has changed her first name to "Xtine". People sometimes use "X" to stand for "Christ", as in "Xmas". Others will do it just to annoy purists. But most at least do it correctly. She screwed it up. The "t" is part of "Christ", so it should be "Xine". Yeah, I'm a purist, too, but she gets a laugh and a snort rather than a rise out of me.

Lesson for the day - Quoting from IS GOD AGAINST CHRISTMAS, by Raymond L. Cox:

"...the X in Xmas did not originate as our English alphabet's X but as the symbol X in the Greek alphabet, called Chi, with a hard ch. The Greek Chi or X is the first letter in the Greek word Christos. Eric G. Gration claims that as early as the first century the X was used as Christ's initial. Certainly through church history we can trace this usage. In many manuscripts of the New Testament, X abbreviates Christos (Xristos). In ancient Christian art X and XR (Chi Ro—the first two letters in Greek of Christos abbreviate his name. We find that this practice entered the Old English language as early as AD 100. Moreover, Wycliff and other devout believers used X as an abbreviation for Christ. Were they trying to take Christ away and substitute an unknown quantity? The idea is preposterous.

Some may use Xmas today as an unchristian shortcut for Christmas, but the ancient abbreviation by no means originated as such. The scribes who copied New Testament manuscripts had no intention of taking Christ out of the New Testament. They used the abbreviation simply to save time and space. We use abbreviations for the same purpose today, as witness FDR, HST, JFK, LBJ, and a host of others. Xmas is a legitimate abbreviation."
--------------------------------

I'm going to see "Avatar" in 3-D tonight in Albany. I'm going not so much for the story (not my favorite genre) as for the 3-D. The last 3-D movie I saw was in probably the '50s, in black and white with blue and red cellophane glasses, and a stupid storyline involving as many flying rocks and thrown chairs as could be crammed in. I want to see what it's like now.
.

2705 A lot of cold and a little warm

Friday, December 18, 2009

"Actually, I never said that."
-- God --

---------------------------------------------


It's 8:30 am, and it's 8 degrees F outside. We might get a few feet of snow this weekend.

I hate winter.

Last week I went shopping online and bought some nylon/lycra and some cotton/lycra footless capri-length dance tights, which I am wearing under my slacks and skirts. Best idea ever (short of moving south!)

-----------------------------

Daughter sent me this; I hope you can see/hear it. It's super personalized, from her to me.
.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

2704 Worried about Jasper

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A church is not a museum for saints - it's a hospital for sinners.
-- Abigail VanBuren --

-------------------------------------

Jasper is missing.

I went shopping last night. Among other things, I bought I bought a bag of dry cat food, two cans of moist, a catnip toy, and one of those ball-in-a-ring toys for Jasper. I got home about 9:30, put the plastic bag containing the smaller of those items on the floor in the kitchen, took out the bag of dry food, and put the ring on the floor for Jasper to explore.

He's a bit timid - relic of his early feral days - so I batted the ball around and made cooing sounds. He'd creep up to it, pat at the ball, then run to hide on the other side of the kitchen island.

I was standing on the other side of the island from the bag on the floor, so I don't know what happened, but after batting at the ball he ran around the island to where the bag was, I heard a crash, and then I heard him tear through the door to the foyer. When I went to see what had happened, I found the catnip toy and one can of food on the floor. The bag and the other can of food are missing.

So is Jasper. I walked around calling him last night, but when he didn't respond I figured he was frightened and hiding, so I'd just let him cool off. I haven't seen him since. It's now 11:30 am.

I put food in his dish last night, but he hasn't touched it. This morning, when I realized he hadn't jumped on my legs overnight, I looked for him. I've looked everywhere, for the past three hours, and called, and nothing.

I'm worried that he may have gotten his head through the handle loop on the bag, and has it wrapped around his neck.

I'm frightened.

-----------------------------------

Now it's 11:40. I found him. He's ok.

I started with the back of the house and searched again, every inch. He usually hides in the basement stairwell, or the back bedroom, or under the cedar chest in the hall. He never goes under my bed, because there's no space under my bed. It's low, and there are stacks of framed prints and plastic containers of dross under there, packed solid. But I had committed to "every inch", so I pulled containers out, swept the flashlight around, and there he was. No bag - don't know where that is.

He came out for me, and I held him and scratched his neck, but he was tense, and when I carried him into the kitchen to show him the new food, he panicked.

He's hiding again now. I don't know where.
.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2703 Reversing the message

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Nerds make the best lovers.
They are intelligent, honest, faithful,
and best of all,
grateful.
-- Silk --

---------------------------------

---------------------------

This is interesting, short, and worth watching.
.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

2702 Judge lays down the law

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Washington DC is the city of southern efficiency
and northern hospitality.

---------------------------

This is so cool. Minnesota federal bankruptcy judge Robert Kressel has had it with lawyers who torture the language in orders, so he has written guidelines (warning - PDF) for lawyers appearing before him. They are short, sweet, to the point, and funny when you consider what he's warning against.
.

2701 Digital discovery

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why aren't southern schools teaching the difference between
"when" and "whenever"?
"Ever" and "every"?
How do people understand each other?

--------------------------

I have an antenna on the roof. It has a rotor. Back when TV was analog, sometimes when the wind blew it would turn the antenna off true, and I'd have to adjust the rotation to get a clear signal back. It's set up for the Albany area channels, but you could turn it 100 degrees and get NYC channels.

We've had some strong wind lately, and one of my digital channels from Schenectady has been breaking up and showing the "low signal" message. So I figured the antenna needed adjusting.

Surprise! I can turn it every which way, and there's no difference to any channel! Does this mean digital signals aren't directional or something? And if that's so, how come I'm not getting the NYC channels?

(I suspect the problem with the Schnectady channel has to do with thick cloud cover and a weak originating signal. I have noticed it happens when there's rain or snow clouds.)
.

2700 Grrrrr...............

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Howard A. Brown, letter to US News & World Reports, 12/27/99, paraphrased:
"It's easier to make a smart gun than a smart person."

---------------------------------


-------------------------

On the news today, big recall for roman and rollup blinds, because children get their necks caught in the cords. This has got to cost the manufacturers and retailers gazillions of dollars, and no one will be able to buy them any more. Stuff like this royally pisses me off.

Hey, folks, you don't put the baby's crib right next to the cords! You loop up cords everywhere in the house. You take the blinds down for a few years if you have to. You babyproof. You watch the kid when they're wandering, and if you let them wander alone in a fully babyproofed house, you put bells on their shoes, and check when the bells go quiet.

If you're incapable of that, you shouldn't be breeding anyway. And if your child was injured, take some personal responsibility!

Next thing you know, somebody's going to insist that all electrical outlets must be five feet above the floor. Oh, no, maybe not - there's no clear defendant to sue for that....
.

Monday, December 14, 2009

2699 Bureaucracy

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's impossible to learn what you think you already know.

------------------------------------


-----------------------

Bureaucrats are driving me crazy.
  • There's an uncashed check for Jay being held by the state of New York. I filled out the form to claim it, checking the "deceased" block, and signing it as widow, sole heir, and executor of his estate. I got another form back from them. They want Jay's signature on the form. (Um, he's dead - that's what deceased means.) Also proof that he'd done business with the company that issued the check. (Would the company have written him a check if he'd not done business with them?) New York just wants to keep my $350.
  • The lab that processes my blood tests has double-billed my insurance company for at least two procedures on two separate dates. The insurance company paid both the original bills and the duplicates, and sent me the information on my copay on the duplicates (which I'd already paid the first time it was billed). The lab did not send me a duplicate bill. Odd.
  • The lab sent me three checks, for like $1.34, $2.17, and $.72, marked as refunds for overpayment. There's no indication which invoices I am supposed to have overpaid. I never overpaid.
  • The lab has sent overdue notices for two invoices. The notices do not say which invoices are overdue, either by service date or invoice number, and the amounts due do not match any already paid invoices. I have no outstanding bills from them, and no procedures that are missing bills.
  • The lab does not provide a phone number, and I know from experience that they don't read letters.
  • My bank "deactivated" one of my three accounts because there had been no activity on it in ages. They had also been debiting the account $1 a month as a "low balance fee" (which when you think about it, is ridiculously self-defeating) until I discovered it and added some money to bring it up to the required level. Three months later, they started debiting $3 a month as an "inactivity fee" up until they deactivated it. So I went to the bank today, and pointed out that 1) they should have notified me before deactivation, and 2) that monthly fee should constitute "activity", shouldn't it? So now it's reactivated, and I am going to go online and set up two automatic transfers, to transfer in $1 once a month, and transfer out $1 a few days later, which they assure me will constitute "activity". Which is stupid.
  • The above had nothing to do with my inability to get any money from the ATM on Saturday. They told me it was a system problem. I pointed out that the guy behind me in line didn't have a problem, and they said the system resets itself every 15 minutes, so I should have just tried again.
  • "Try again" isn't that easy. Because there was a car behind me, I'd have to exit to let him out. The entrance is to the left. A left turn out of there is near impossible before 11 pm, so I'd have to "go around the block", which in a village is a meandering 3/4 mile or so. I don't know who plans positions of exits and entrances, but they're nuts.
Is it me, or is the world going crazy?
.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

2698 Random quotes

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Don't worry about people stealing your idea.
If it's original, you'll have to ram it down their throats.
-- Howard Aiken --

-------------------------------------

People have remarked that the green quote starting every post is "supposed to be random", but for a while there, they seemed to have eerie application to the posts.

Well, they are random. Really. I have a document full of quotes I'd gathered over the years, and every so often I create 15 or 20 draft posts, containing only the sequence number in the title, and the quote copied and pasted in order from the document. Then as I am moved to post something, I just open the next draft, fill in the title and text, and post it.

The only time it's not strictly random is when I notice that the quote does come uncomfortably close to applying to the post topic, and then I might select a different draft and change the sequence numbers. That's rare.

----------------------------

I lied earlier today. I said I wasn't going to visit Daughter. Actually, I intended to, but I didn't want her to know, and she might have read here, so I lied. My intent was to just show up at 5 pm with take-out Thai or Chinese food. That way, if she didn't know I was coming, she wouldn't fuss about cleaning up, or making up a bed for me, or providing dinner, and she'd get some needed rest.

So at 2 pm, my planned departure time, I opened the front door, and swore loud enough to scare Jasper. There was 2 inches of slush out there, with freezing rain falling. Where the heck did that come from!?

So I didn't go.
.

2697 Cute therapy

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It always amazes me to think that every house
on every street
is full of so many stories, so many triumphs and tragedies,
and all we see are yards and driveways.
-- Glenn Close --

--------------------------

All baby mammals play. I've watched bunnies in the front yard playing leap frog, lining up and leaping over each other in line, in turn. The calves down the road in the spring play tag, and what looks for all the world like red-light green-light.

This is an elk calf who found a puddle, and it's so cute I bet you'll watch it over and over, especially when work or winter is getting you down:

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3n7H6fVYGo0]

The first copy I found was removed from YouTube for some kind of violation, but there are several copies out there, so if this one gets removed, try one of these:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwn65AfSVPQ&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Onbkf0HhY7I&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWfvv2Blk48&NR=1
And if they don't work, just search for elk calf in YouTube.
.

2696 A rescheduled life.

Sunday, November 13, 2009

"Dry clean only" means it will make it through the washer and dryer,
or it won't,
and I'll soon find out which.

-------------------------------------

I was supposed to go with a meetup group to NYC to look at the tree and store displays and all on Saturday the 5th, but it rained/sleeted all day, so the group rescheduled to Saturday the 19th. However, I have a commitment that day, so I decided to go to NYC on my own. It was supposed to be yesterday. But Friday Daughter called, she wants me to visit ("I want my mommy!"), and comparing calendars we decided today into tomorrow was the best time. That meant I had to move everything I needed to do today into Saturday, so I didn't go to NYC yesterday.

Daughter called this morning. She was sick last night and is still rocky today. She's still willing to have me down, just felt she should warn me, but I know she'll feel she has to "entertain" and feed me, and I'd rather she just nested until she feels better (I know from experience that when she tries to bull through illness it goes into her chest and she's sick for weeks), so I'm not going.

We'll compare calendars again, and pick some time.

Maybe I'll go to NYC sometime during the week. The only problem is that after 9/11 a lot of city folk moved up here, and parking at the train station during the week is very tight if you don't have a commuter permit. Oh well. I can always turn around and go home if I don't find a spot.

Sigh.

Anybody know how long after Christmas the stores maintain the window displays?

2695 Proud of public idiocy?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Can we all just agree to ignore Blue Ray?
I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.

-------------------------------

-------------------------

I always thought there were no stupid questions if the asker doesn't know the answer. Then I came across this question on one of those "ask/answer" sites: "If the Earth is really millions of years old, then why does history go back only a few thousand years? Do you think people simply forgot what happened during those millions of years? Or maybe they didn't think it was important until a few thousand years ago?"

He got no answers, so then he gloated that he had stumped everyone again.

I guess the old saw is right - there are no stupid questions, just stupid people.
.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

2694 Falling into dispair/disrepair.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bad decisions make good stories.

--------------------


My voice is pitched low. Not so low that I am mistaken for male on the telephone, but lower (and I like to think softer) than the average female voice. When Daughter was small, she came home from school one day crying because the other girls teased her because her voice was low. She said the other girls' voices were much higher than hers.

She and I both cringe when we hear women speak with high squeaky voices. It sounds so fake to us, and we think it makes them sound, uh, not worthy of serious consideration.

Well, I took Suzie for service today. The waiting room was cool, but not uncomfortably cold, until a woman came to the door that opened outside, and called for someone. And then she stood there for the longest time, leaning against the door with it fully open, we're talkin' 90 degrees off the wall, for no apparent reason, looking off into the parking lot. Freezing wind blew in. The waiting customers looked at each other, but no one said anything, probably because the woman holding the door was scary. She looked tough, mean, like switchblade mean, not an employee of the shop, and she was unsmiling. There was anger in her voice when she had called out, and it was obvious she didn't give a damn about anyone.

I was getting the full brunt of the wind, and finally I said, "Excuse me? Could you please close the door?"

I noticed that I had pitched my voice an octave above normal.

My normal tone would have been much more commanding.

I immediately wondered why I did that.

I had affected a more "feminine" voice because she scared me. The higher pitch was calculated to make me less of a threat, to make it more of a request than a demand. It said, "Please don't hurt me, but, uh, ...."

I am slightly ashamed. All those women who cultivate artificially high simpering voices, and all those men who find high voices appealing, should be ashamed, too.

-------------------------------

After I left the service station I went to the ATM at my bank. I had noticed I had only $13 in my purse, and I want to visit Daughter tomorrow, staying over into Monday. The ATM wouldn't let me take any money out, claiming that I had "exceeded my daily withdrawl limit or the maximum number of daily transactions." Ack! I tried three times, making sure I had the right card, the right account, and the right pin. I had to stop then, or they'd decide my card was stolen, and deactivate it entirely.

There was a man in line behind me, so I told him what had happened. He could withdraw money, so it's my account, not the system.

As soon as I got home, I checked the account online. There has been no activity of any kind on that account since Wednesday's deposits.

It'll be Monday before I can find out what's going on. In the meantime, I have no cash, and no easy way to get any.

Ack.

----------------------------

Something odd has been happening lately. The first time or two I thought it was an accident, but by the sixth or seventh time, I think there's something else going on.

I go out for dinner two or three times a week lately, and over the past six months I've noticed a few odd things. The first is a definite deterioration in service. Several times our waiter or waitress seemed to have completely disappeared. One time The Man and I couldn't find our waitress for 45 minutes at a clip, and then when she eventually brought the bill, she'd left off half our food and drinks. When we couldn't find her to correct it, we just shrugged and let it go. That's the other oddity - items have been left off the tab in at least one out of every three outings, in restaurants from Rhinebeck to Albany, in diners to linen tablecloth establishments, from large to small groups. Usually it's things like appetizers, sides, or desserts, or drinks. Or all four.

There was the night we waited 50 minutes for the food to arrive. And the night the waitress got every item so wrong we were convinced she'd mixed up two tables. And the night the credit card disappeared on the way to the register.

Last night our waiter kept disappearing, forgot a spoon and sugar for my tea and then disappeared, leaving me with no sugar and a fork to pull the teabag with, forgot the guacamole and then disappeared while my guacamole-less fajitas got cold, we had to track him down through the bartender to get the tab, and then he'd left off several items, and disappeared. We shrugged and paid it.

Perhaps the management is trying to save money by understaffing, and the waitpeople are washing dishes in the kitchen? No, several times last night we could see our waiter lounging on the other side of the bar, ignoring our frantic waves. Perhaps this is a passive resistance effort, giving customers free stuff, thus "sticking it to" management? Probably not, since free stuff reduces the tab, thus reducing the tip. (Unless they're not smart enough to figure that out.)

Is anyone else seeing this? Any explanation?
.

2693 Lessons Learned

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Newspaper obituaries would be a lot more interesting
if they told you how the person died.

---------------------------

Hmmm. Getting a bit lax lately, aren't I? No post since Wednesday? No meaning. Just lazy. Winter hibernation mode.

-------------------------

Thursday night I hosted the first of my own meetups, the movie "An Education", at an indie movie house. It was an education. None of the synopses mention the most painful of the lessons, when (at the risk of throwing in a spoiler) the girl stands outside a house, and instead of seeing a carefree harridan emerge, she sees a young housewife, with a small child.

It seemed more poignant because of the Tiger Woods revelations. Tiger had forgotten that tigresses have claws.

Both men, Tiger and the movie's David, played with emotions. That's their major fault, not the faithlessness, nor the lies --- they are both damaged men with emotional problems of their own that they probably don't recognize themselves --- but the callous playing with the emotions of others? That's almost unforgivable.

I am annoyed at the people who consider Tiger's women to be whores and worse, because "they knew he was married". Tiger didn't lay out the truth for those women. It wasn't "an arrangement". He courted and wooed them. People forget that emotions and logic are not connected. When you fall in love, you believe what he tells you. You believe he loves and needs you. Loving him, you can't abandon him to the meager mercies of "that woman", the wife, who, he says, doesn't understand or love or support him, who has trapped him in a loveless and sexless marriage. I have sympathy for the women. I do not despise them. They didn't know the real story, and they were fools for love.

Neither do I despise Tiger. I heard that this all started after his father's decline. I suspect his actions might have a lot to do with having been tightly constrained by his father for so long, and having missed out on the usual experiences and opportunities of the average young man. (I imagine that the father in the movie and Tiger's father may have had a lot in common, in driving their offspring to success over all.) His father's death may have been a release. What matters to me now, to my opinion of Tiger, will be what he does NEXT.

----------------------------

There were only three of us at Thursday's movie, which did not surprise me, as it was selected and scheduled by the assistant organizer on a weeknight, at 5:30 pm. Ack. But the meetup group itself has proven to be of some interest, as a week after the broadcast announcement we already have 12 members.

After the movie, the assistant organizer went home to pack for her Christmas trip, and the third attendee and I had dinner. The third attendee happened to be Roman. It was a relaxed and interesting dinner conversation. I think we're past the awkwardness. I hope.

----------------------------

Last night's movie in Albany was "Invictus", directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as the captain of South Africa's rugby team. The basic story could have been told in two paragraphs (or two sentences, as in the wikipedia entry on Mandela), but the main story was the faces, and the movie shows them well. However, it seemed to assume that people knew the social and political background, which I'm willing to bet very few young Americans do.

The real star of the show was rugby. I'd never seen it played before. Man! It's brutal! And the players wear no protection. Now I understand why the rest of the world snickers at American football - a bunch of pampered, armored ballerinas pretending to be warriors.

If you see the movie, I fell in love with the head of Mandela's security (Julian Lewis Jones). He's gorgeous. He turned my head. Which is significant because I've had a crush on Morgan Freeman for at least the past two decades, but I felt no conflict in loyalty at all.
.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

2692 I am saved

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument
when you realize you're wrong.

--------------------------------------------

This is "2 to 3" inches of snow. Yeah. Uh huh. Of course this is after it had been rained and sleeted on. It used to be a lot thicker, but now it's soggy, heavy, and sticky. Perfect snowman snow.

If you look at the top inch here, you can see the different color and texture of a layer of sleet, the crystals sticking up:

I have a file card with a list of folks who plow, but I couldn't find it. I did find a torn slip of notebook paper in a coat pocket, with a name and phone number on it in a stranger's handwriting - and no indication of why I had that number. So I called it and asked "Do you do plowing?", and it turned out to be the guy who spread sand on the ice for me last year. My savior! The truck is bigger than it looks in this photo; distance makes it look smaller:
So, I am mobile again.
.

2691 The Mensan, The Myth, The Marketing

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Old French Proverb: Perfect is the enemy of good.

----------------------------------

This communication was posted to a Mensa Yahoo group:

Dear Google:
Posted by: xxxxxxxx@gmail.com
Tue Dec 8, 2009 6:59 pm (PST)


I appreciate the fact that you are trying to intuit my interests by scanning for words in my GMail messages. However, I Am Not Amused. When I filtered to find all of my recent correspondence with my fellow local Mensa officers, you offered me the following link:

Socially awkward tees - www.CottonFactory. com

Knock it off.
Signed,
Me
(true story)
.

2690 Observations from a frustrated mind

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

To know what you don't know is the legacy of progress.
-- Howard Streicher --

--------------------------------

From "Plato: The Failure of Democracy", at http://faculty.frostburg.edu/phil/forum/PlatoRep.htm:
"Corresponding to the faculty of reason is the smallest class of people—scientists, scholars, high-level experts, and similar sophisticates. Plato calls them “lovers of wisdom,” i. e., “philosophers.” Their most passionate interests are understanding and knowledge, and their greatest pleasure a lively life of the mind.

As a just and healthy person is governed by knowledge and reason, a just society must be under the control of society’s most cultivated and best informed minds, its “lovers of wisdom.” Just societies cannot be run by big money or armed forces with their too narrow agendas. Limitless desire for wealth and blind ambition must be watched and contained as potential public dangers. The most informed minds must determine objectively, with due consideration of all points of view, what the most healthy and practical goals for the commonwealth are."
Aristotle agreed, that the overriding quality of government should be reason, that reason should govern the governors.

We don't have that.

Those who govern us are (for the most part) motivated by a thirst for power, and an interest in increasing profits for those who can keep them in power. They use emotional, not reasoned and logical, arguments to sway the voters. The masses have been taught to distrust and reject reason and logic, thus ensuring the success of emotional arguments.

I see no way to turn that around, except perhaps by educating the public in philosophy. Philosophy as a school subject has all but disappeared. When I was in college, we were required to take some classes in philosophy and critical thinking. I don't think anyone sees critical thinking as a useful skill any more, and today's college students would laugh at the suggestion that philosophy might ever be useful.

-------------------------------

Joe Bruno, past majority leader of the New York State senate, has been convicted of two of eight federal felony corruption counts. The TV news last night had a call-in poll, asking to people to vote "yes" or "no" on whether the conviction was fair.

Obviously no one at that station is capable of critical thought. Exactly what is that poll supposed to conclude? 99.9% of the responders will have absolutely no idea what went on in the courtroom, no idea what the evidence was, or what the applicable law is. The results of that poll are meaningless. It's merely a popularity poll. They may as well have asked "Do you like Joe Bruno? Yes or No."

--------------------------------

P.S. I consider arguments based on religion to be emotion-based arguments.
.

2689 Stupid freakin' razzelfrats!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

To be ignorant of one's ignorance is the malady of the ignorant.
-- Amos B. Alcott --

--------------------------

I am so angry I could spit.

TV and radio news said 2-3 inches of snow overnight, followed by sleet, then rain. If there's sleet on snow, I can't use the snowthrower. I considered moving the car to the bottom of the driveway, but if there's really only 2-3 inches, that's not necessary.

So I did the research. I checked all the weather predictors, including the national weather radio, and they ALL said 2-3 inches. So I didn't move the car.

I got up at 8 am, went to the front door, and about flipped. The ruler says 7 inches. It's above the bottom of the front bumper, halfway up the wheels. And it's sleeting on top of it.

We ALWAYS get at least three times what is predicted! Always! And I KNOW that! I am so angry because I know better, but I was stupid and lazy.

And now I'm stuck, unless I can find someone with a plow who isn't already booked up.
.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

2688 Miss not

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A family is only as sick as its secrets.

-------------------------

I have a learning disability. Once upon a time they called it dyslexia, but I think it actually is a left-right confusion thing. Anyway, a related problem is that I take things literally. Most people, when they hear a word used incorrectly, or a bad sentence construction, glide right over it and understand what is meant. I don't. I understand what was said, and am often confused.

More and more lately I'm hearing people say, "I miss not [something]" when what they really mean is "I miss [something]."

If someone whom I had not seen in a while said to me, "Oh, I've missed not seeing you!", I am initially insulted, and want to leave so they can get back to not seeing me, which they obviously prefer.

I've heard that construction five or six times in the past 24 hours, and it's starting to piss me off. Barbara Walters just said it on "The View" a few minutes ago, that the Gosslin kids "miss not having the photographers around", and I yelled at the TV, because I don't know what she's saying! That the photographers aren't around now and the kids miss them? Or what she actually said, that photographers are around, and the kids would prefer that they not be there?

I really don't know.

Accepting poor construction leads to misunderstanding and confusion. For example, suppose there's a coworker I don't like, and I've been happy to not have to see him every day, but then we get assigned to a project, and I have to see him every day, and that distresses me. I could properly say that I miss not seeing him. People will misunderstand and think I like seeing him, when what I really mean (and said) is that I miss not seeing him.

Aaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrgh!

I'd advise people to avoid "not" with "miss", but sometimes that's exactly what you mean, but you can't use it even if that is what you mean, because if you do, people will interpret it the other way anyway.
.

2687 The Invisible Man

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Jeff MacNelly, "Shoe": You can fool some of the people all of the time,
you can even fool all of the people some of the time,
but you can always fool all of the fools all of the time.

-------------------------------

This is not trick or altered photography. Liu Bolin paints himself to blend into the background. Taking the photograph is time-consuming because he needs to be positioned exactly right, but the results are amazing:

See more at http://www.odditycentral.com/pics/meet-the-real-life-invisible-man.html, plus his reasons for doing this.
.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

2686 First snow

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Me: The most startling new ideas always sound trivial, even obvious, once expounded. A week later, no one will remember who said it. Two weeks later, everyone will claim they had always known it.

-------------------------------

The view out my back door:
Sob. I hate winter. Snow is cold, wet, slippery, and heavy, and has to be removed from 7,000 sq. ft. of driveway. By me.

Thursday it was 63 degrees out there. How can that crap be sticking?
.

2685 Ravens

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"I am never gratuitously rude. My rudeness is carefully calibrated
to the stupidity and obtuseness of the people I am dealing with."
-- Adam Carr --

-----------------------------------

I was supposed to go to NYC by train today to see the tree, the skating rink, store windows, and stuff with a Meetup group, but the organizer canceled because all-day rain is predicted. She rescheduled to the 19th, but I have something else that day. I've never seen NYC at Christmas. I am severely disappointed.

---------------------------

I love ravens. I like crows, but ravens are even more fun to watch. They're huge - two feet beak to tail, with a wingspan over four feet wide, and a huge "Roman nose" beak. There's a fascinating (one-screen) writeup at http://www.nps.gov/brca/naturescience/raven.htm.

Crows are intelligent. They've been known to use tools, can figure out puzzles they'd never seen before, and use teamwork to drive away raptors. Ravens are even smarter.

Last night, driving home from dinner, I heard a story on the radio similar to another I'd heard long ago, illustrating ravens' intelligence.

In the version I'd heard, a raven had found a dead turkey at the edge of a field. With ravenous chicks in the nest (ever wonder where that word "ravenous" came from?) this is a wonderful find - food for days. The raven began to pull the turkey apart, and then spied another raven circling in the sky. The first raven flopped over onto his back, and lay there very still, with his feet in the air. The second raven landed, walked around the turkey, and then flew away. Once the interloper was out of sight, the first raven got up and finished the job.

Why did the first raven lie on his back? Why did the second raven fly away?
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
The first raven decided not to share. The second raven, seeing a "dying" raven next to a turkey carcass, figured the turkey was a poisoned bait trap, and decided not to take a chance on it.

Mensa should have chosen the raven, not the owl, for the mascot.

--------------------------------

Later: I just checked the weather report for NYC. Yes, rain today, all day. A total of 1/4 inch. All day. 1/4 inch. Total.

Buncha primadonnas....
.

Friday, December 04, 2009

2684 Taking Control

Friday, December 4, 2009

“…those who wrestle with something and come out on top
tend to have a better understanding of that something
than those who merely submit to it.”

--------------------------

I never thought about how I file receipts and other papers. I just did it the way I'd been taught - a folder for phone, one for electric service, one for garbage, one for each credit card, one for each insurance policy, one for each car, one for each year's taxes, one for each company's stock, and so on. At last count there were well over 150 carefully labeled folders.

I ended up with two 40" x 29" file cabinets, with a mountain of "to be filed" paper on top, three years' worth right now. If I ever had to locate anything, I couldn't find it in the cabinets, but had relatively no difficulty finding it in the "TBF" pile. Another observation - I seldom had to look for anything. (That's not a reason not to keep paper. The few times I did have to find something, it was critical, and you never know what that something might be.)

Really, I should have thought about why I don't file papers. It's all the examining, sorting, deciding, finding the folders, reaching, ... eh. Every piece of paper required special handling.

Today I started a reorganization. ALL bills that are paid regularly are in one hanging folder, one for each of the last seven years. ALL papers having anything whatsoever to do with the cars are in one folder, except for the car insurance, which is in the one folder containing ALL papers having to do with any insurance, whether house, car, health, life. ALL receipts for one-time purchases and their warranties if any are in one folder. And so on. I'm down to perhaps 12 folders total, many of which will be seldom touched.

Of course, "one folder" might actually be several consecutive hanging folders with one label, just because of quantity. The point is that I'm not sorting beyond the highest level.

I hadn't filed paper in three years because I knew it would take an hour just to file one month's paper, and would leave me with a sore back. With the new scheme, I filed three years of paper just this afternoon, and because all I had to do was sit on the floor and make a few piles, each of which required only one trip to the cabinet, it didn't hurt at all.

------------------------------

The Wikipedia folks are a non-profit group, and they're currently running a fund drive. They don't inundate us with ads, for which we should be grateful. Yeah, I know that not everything on Wikipedia is completely accurate, given that anyone can say anything (I find that wikifools are not suffered lightly), but I use it a lot - every time someone mentions an unfamiliar person, plant, place, or event I look it up on Wikipedia, and at least I have a starting point.

I made a small contribution. If you use Wikipedia too, how 'bout giving them a dime for every time you've used them in the past year?

Gotta run now. Dinner at a Thai restaurant in Albany this evening.
.