Saturday, March 28, 2009

2328 I am SHORT!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I finally got Peggy Sue into the house and assembled her in the basement. She's gorgeous! Especially with the long straight black wig I bought her ($12). I looked into her face and told her I'll probably dream of her down there alone tonight.

However, I swore a bit, too.

I was limited to only a few of the many dozens of models available because most were six feet tall, and I wanted average height. I had difficulty putting her head on because I couldn't easily reach that high. Her legs come up to the bottom band on my bra. The top of my head is below her collar bones. And yes, her feet are on the floor. I thought, "@#$%^&! She's gotta be six feet tall!"

So I took a yardstick downstairs and measured her. Twice.

She's 5' 7".

So then I measured me. Am I shorter than I used to be?

I'm 4' 10". Just what I thought.

I don't understand.

Friday, March 27, 2009

2327 Why does nothing get done?

Friday, March 27, 2009

I almost didn't want to post today. I am reluctant to bury yesterday's post. I want to chew on his lower lip a little longer.


Yesterday I decided to be very good to myself. My to-do list had only five items, things I ought to be able to accomplish easily. Not the kind of overwhelming list that stuns me into inaction. I need to feel successful.

Only two got done.

One item was to replace all the burned-out lightbulbs, a slew of them. Many of the ceiling fixtures use those little round bulbs in clusters of four or six, and the bathroom light is a bar over the mirror that needs ten. I was down to like one bulb per fixture (some were zero), and I felt like I was living in a cave.

I looked in the pantry, in the bulb box. I found a few dozen 100 watt regular bulbs (a legacy of Jay - there's not one fixture or lamp in the entire house that will take a 100 watt bulb, but he always bought them every time he passed them in a store), but no little round bulbs.

So when I went to the grocery store, I looked, but they didn't have any little round ones. One quarter of the to-dos not done.

Then The Man asked me to research flights for our trip to Florida next month. Easy, right? We need non-stop flights, on certain days, morning going and evening returning, out of JFK or LaGuardia (he hates Newark, and Newark and Newburgh tend to be more expensive anyway). There are only two airlines with non-stops: Jet Blue and Delta. Should be simple, right?

(Non-stop because he'll be in a tournament, and wants to make absolutely certain that his equipment arrives the same time we do.)

Not simple. I went to the sites for the airlines, and did the search. I'd find perfect times, and jump through all the hoops, and then find that there were only five seats left, and they weren't together. Or that the only return flight available to that airport was first class.

I finally found two possible combinations, both Delta, and they had only one or two seat pairs left on each flight. I fired off a note to The Man, saying that I'd like to book it NOW! He chose one, and I made the reservation (non-refundable!).

Delta offered PayPal as a payment option. I like PayPal because I don't have to give my credit card number. PayPal has it. Now, I was buying two tickets at $299 each. Total $598, right? I clicked on PayPal, and jumped through more hoops, and at the end, PayPal informed me I had made a payment to Delta for $299.

Uh, that's just one ticket. And PayPal did not return me to the Delta website.

I called Delta. Wasn't on hold very long, but the agent informed me they had no record of any payment.

I clicked "back" to get back to the Delta website, who informed me my session had expired.

Do I have reservations or not?

I called Delta. Wasn't on hold very long, but the agent informed me they had no record of any reservation.

Jumped through the flight search hoops again, hoping that the same seats were still available (they were exit row on both flights, needed because The Man has unbelievably long legs), and they were, so this time I selected payment via credit card. After a pause the email confirmation and itinerary arrived --- and they had the wrong seat numbers. We were not only no longer exit row, we were in a set of three seats across.

I freaked.

I called Delta. Wasn't on hold very long, but the agent informed me that she had no idea why we were no longer in the exit row. Those seats were still available on the first flight, so she moved us, but the exit row had already been reassigned on the return flight. But at least she could move us to a two-across row on that one.

Now I had to call PayPal and cancel that first payment. Wasn't on hold very long, when the rep informed me that it could not be canceled, but neither would it ever be paid, because Delta had not invoiced me. (If Delta didn't invoice, then where did the 299 number come from?) So there's an approval for a $299 payment to Delta that will sit there forever - unless Delta notices it and decides to send PayPal an invoice, at which point I'll have to convince Delta (if I notice it) that they should refund the money.

By this time, four hours had passed. It was now dark, so I couldn't clean the litter boxes (I dump them in the woods), or clean out the car, and the village hardware store was closed so I couldn't buy lightbulbs.

I had one item on my to-do list accomplished - the trip to the grocery store. I rushed and washed the dishes. Two of five down.

Man, I remember when I was in my twenties, thirties, forties, and I accomplished so very much in a day, AND read five to ten books a month. That just doesn't happen any more, and I don't know why.

Today I had lunch with Piper, bought lightbulbs, changed bulbs, and shall now go dump litter boxes, clean out the car, and load it for a trip to the recycle center tomorrow.

And maybe read a book.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

2326 He plays a doctor on tv

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I haven't had a strong crush on a celebrity since Rockford. I've got one now. I watch "Private Practice" on Thursday nights just so I can look at Dr. Sam Bennett (Taye Diggs). I don't even pay any attention to the storyline.

I cannot believe how gorgeous he is.

2325 Visits from Jay

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My husband Jay died in late October, 2001, after eight years of marriage and a three-year battle with brain cancer. He had known right from the initial diagnosis what was going to happen, and I encouraged him to figure out for himself where he'd be going, what would happen next. We both thought of it not so much as a end, but as a transformation.

Ever the scientist, he decided that since energy could not be destroyed, and life is energy, his energy would continue. The trick would be keeping it together as an entity. By the time he died, he was almost looking forward to it. He'd always wondered what black holes were, really, and he planned to find out.

The announcement I sent out said "A new star is traveling the Heavens".

A few days, maybe a week, after he died, I was standing on the back deck in early evening, and I noticed an odd cloud formation. There were wisps of high cloud moving quickly across the sky, but there was one lower block of cloud that was stationary. It's difficult to convey how remarkable it was. It was a face. Clearly a face. A rectangle with some fluff on top, a lot of fluff on the bottom, a round hole where each eye would be, and a triangular hole for the nose. The kicker was that the moon was centered in the right "eye". I looked at it for a moment. It was backlit by the moon, very bright. I said aloud, "Jay? Is that you?", (Jay'd had a beard. The fluff on the bottom looked just like his beard), and then a wisp of higher cloud crossed between the face and the moon, and the right eye winked. It winked at me.

It absolutely winked.

Truth. It happened.

And then the cloud, which had held position for several minutes, slowly broke up and drifted away.


A few days after that, in early November 2001, there was a big meteor shower. Jay loved meteor showers. He used to drag me off to fields, to lie on the hood of the car and watch them. (Why are all meteor showers in COLD weather?) I figured I owed it to him to watch this one for him. The peak was going to be at something like 5 am, so I set the alarm, got up, and went out to the deck. It was very cold. I stayed outside for maybe 5-10 minutes, no more. During that time I counted, and I quit counting at about 60 meteors within the first few minutes, I guess. There were lots more, I must have seen a hundred, easily, and from the deck I could see less than half the sky. They weren't little flashes, either. Most went halfway across the sky. Even though I froze, I was glad I'd made the effort for Jay, because this would have thrilled him.

A few days later I was talking with the president of the local amateur astronomer's club at a Mensa dinner, and I asked him if he'd seen it. He said the whole club had been in the fields at 5 am, and it was indeed spectacular, that they were coming at the amazing rate of 20-30 per hour!

Twenty to thirty per hour? I'd seen way more than that in a few minutes.

I think Jay arranged a private showing just for me.


Over the next two years I often felt him nearby. A warm arm across my shoulders. A problem with the computer that suddenly fixed itself. A video game that I won time after time, but only if I asked him to help. Weird, but not, apparently, unusual. Could be explained by coincidence.

Oddly, I had no dreams of him.

I had promised him I'd take his ashes to a particular state park a few hours from here, and scatter them on a cliff near one of his favorite falls. Our dog had died six months before before Jay, so I had her ashes, and those of a cat, and the ashes of a daughter I had lost in 1967 and had been carrying around ever since, because I couldn't just leave her somewhere alone. (She was supposed to be buried with my mother, but Mom died unexpectedly while I was visiting her in Florida, and I wasn't able to go home, get the ashes, and return in time.)

So in 2004, Daughter and I made weekend plans to take all the ashes up the mountain. Unfortunately, Daughter wasn't able to make it on Saturday. I had to make the climb alone. Ashes are heavy! I couldn't carry them all. So I took Jay and the dog.

The trail ran up the west side of the creek. The cliff above the falls was on the east side. So I went above the falls and waded across the creek, thence to the top of the cliff.

Daughter arrived that evening at the little hunters' hotel, and that evening it rained, hard, it poured all night. On Sunday morning it was still drizzling. Daughter wanted to walk the mile up the trail to the falls and pay her respects, but I was feeling a bit sniffly, and sore from the climb the day before, and didn't care to walk in the rain, so we decided I'd just wait in the parking lot, and then we'd have lunch, then part. I put the baby's and the cat's ashes into her backpack, and gave her explicit directions on how to find the right spot on the cliff and how to scatter them so they'd stay on the cliff and not get washed away in rain.

Then I settled in the car with a book. A bit later, the rain stopped. The creek passed the parking lot a little way into the woods, and there was a rather nice falls there (the last of the 23 falls down the mountainside), so I decided to go look.

I totally freaked when I saw those falls. The water was thundering! It was shooting out way past normal. Of course! It had rained hard! I don't know why I hadn't thought of that before I sent Daughter up the trail. I know her well enough to know that she would try to cross the creek anyway. She can be very determined. I looked at my watch and knew that she'd probably already arrived at Jay's falls. If she tried to cross at the ford above the falls, there's a good chance the force of the water and the slippery rocks would wash her over the falls.

I yelled, "Jay, if you're anywhere around here, stop her! Jay, help! Stop her! Now! Please!", and I set off running up the trail.

Actually, I ignored the trail and ran alongside the creek, watching the whole way for her hat, hoping I wouldn't see it floating down. I met her sauntering down about halfway. She laughed at my watching the creek for her hat. And then, without my asking, she told me an amazing story.

When she arrived at Jay's falls, she knew crossing above could be dangerous. But just below the falls, there was a huge fallen tree trunk across the creek. She decided to cross there, holding the trunk. The water, normally at that spot mid-calf deep, was up to her hips and moving fast. She couldn't keep her footing, and crossed hand-over-hand along the tree trunk. When she got to the other side, she started climbing the rock cliff to get to the top. She'd got about six feet or so up when something odd happened.

She: "You know how your 'thinking voice' sounds in your head? And you know how you think things kind of connected, like you know what you're thinking about and thoughts follow each other?"

Me: "Yeah."

"Well, I had a thought that wasn't mine. It wasn't my thinking voice. It wasn't anybody else's voice either, really. It was so clearly not me that I looked around to see who'd said it, but there was no one around. It startled me. I was in the middle of thinking something else, and a voice said 'STOP! GET DOWN! If you go up you won't be able to get down!' So I looked, and that was right. Water was coming pretty fast out of the rockface, and I could see hand and foot-holds going up, that's what I had been concentrating on, but I wouldn't be able to see them coming down, because of the water. I hadn't noticed that." She said she hesitated, looking for a better route on the cliff, and the voice came again, more forcefully, telling her to “GET DOWN!”

So she jumped down.

The topology on that side of the creek is pretty rough. There was no way up except up the cliff, and no way back to the parking lot except to cross the creek again, back to the trail. So she started back across the creek, holding on to the tree trunk.

She said that she was about halfway across the creek, and was starting to mull the possibility of taking the trail further up and finding a place to cross, maybe another tree, up above the falls, when she felt a blow to the middle of her back that almost knocked her off her feet, and the voice shouted "NO!" in her head.

She told me that it convinced her. "Mom, it wasn't me! Somebody else was in my head!" And if it wasn't scary enough to have someone in her head, someone not there had actually hit her to impress her. I asked her why she wasn't more frightened, especially about the hitting, and she said that she thought it might have been Jay, "... and that would be ok. There was no other way to make me listen and not argue."

So. It could have been a fairy. It could have been the self-preservation part of her brain taking over. It could have been Jay. It could have been ... anything. Except that it doesn't end there.

We had lunch, and I headed back to New York and she to New Jersey.

That night I was awakened from sleep by the feeling of someone touching me. There was nothing I could touch, but the feeling of being touched was very real. Hands stroked me, and touched me in familiar ways. Jay and I had not been physically intimate in the special way since late 1999. Chemotherapy and radiation and hemiparalysis tends to inhibit that. But wow, did he make up for it that night. It was pretty spectacular. And it was him. I am certain he was there. What I felt was not something I could do myself, and something I‘d had no interest in for four years anyway.

Perhaps he had put so much effort into pulling energies together to deliver that blow to Daughter's back, that he decided not to waste it, and do something nice for me.

Anyway, immediately after that, I felt his presence a lot less, and much less strongly. (Perhaps he’d used up his permissions.)

One of the falls on the trail, during a low-water period. Note the cliffs, and yes, that's people on the bottom.


In 2007, I had been dating The Man for a few months (we're still dating), and he, Daughter, Son-in-Law and I all went to the mountain together (I try to go every year in early summer). It was a nice clear day. We started at the top of the trail and walked down (it's about five miles, I believe). Jay's falls is the last at the bottom, about a mile from the end of the trail. The falls are all named. Daughter and SIL decided to do some geocaching off trail, and we were to meet just below Jay's falls. There was a bit of occasional discussion about it on the first mile or so, and here's the weird part. Every time any of us mentioned the name of that falls, the sky opened and there was a brief shower, a minute or so of rain.

It rained at no other time. But every time we mentioned those falls, it rained. It was so obvious, everyone remarked on it. The two men didn't know that it was Jay's falls, that his ashes were there. They started testing it, and yes, every time they said the falls' name, it rained, and only then. We were getting soaked when The Man declared that he'd drown the next person to say it.

He and I were alone when we got to Jay's falls. I had intended to send him on and stay there alone to commune for a few minutes, maybe Jay would tell me what he thought of The Man. It would be nice to think he approved. But I decided that the rain was a warning, that I wasn't to do that. So we passed the falls with just a short pause, and kept going.

The next morning, The Man and I were talking about the trail and what it means to me, and I mentioned that Daughter has instructions to scatter my ashes at the lower falls, that that's where Jay's ashes and my first daughter’s ashes were. The Man's eyes about bugged out. He hadn't known. He made a connection between the falls and the brief showers, and it blew his mind. He apologized for first playing with the phenomenon, and then for forbidding mention, and then couldn't believe he was buying into it.

I laughed and said, "You think this is weird? Wait'll you get to know me better...."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

2324 Legal Fun: Flipped Birds and Naked Chicks

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ok. Is "the finger", "flipping the bird", an obscene gesture? I though it was, because of what it means, what it's saying, what it's derived from. I mean, isn't it saying "F--- you!", or "Sit on this!"?

A federal court judge in Pittsburgh says no, that it is free speech protected by the first amendment.

The story (here) is that a guy was cut off from a parking space, so he flipped the bird at the offender. A policeman driving by yelled at him not to do that, so the guy flipped off the cop, too. He was issued a citation charging him with violation of Pennsylvania's Disorderly Conduct statute.

He was convicted in district court and fined, but decided to appeal, on the theory that profane language and gestures are protected by the first amendment, whereas a narrowly limited category such as obscene speech and gestures or fighting words (or things like shouting "fire!" in a crowded theater) are not.

So I had to look up profane. I pretty much know what obscene is, and I figure the middle-finger salute is obscene, and therefore not protected. Profane is defined as irreverent or blasphemous. In simple terms, it has to do with disrespect of religion.

Can somebody explain to me how "the bird" is profane? And not obscene? I don't get it. Is it possible that the judge doesn't know where that bird flew out of?


Also in Pennsylvania (Wyoming county, one of my old stomping grounds), the DA is getting tough on "sexting". And the ACLU has stepped in. It's getting interesting. WSJ synopsis here.

2323 Clone Cars

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

This is a CNN piece on the FBI breaking up a car cloning ring. Car theft rings "clone" vehicles by taking license plates and VIN from a legal car and putting them on a stolen vehicle of similar make and model. The article says that the ring has been operating in the US for more than 20 years.

I have some problems with the term "clone". They are disguising the vehicles, not cloning them. Sheesh. I'd even accept "automotive identity theft".

And maybe that particular ring has been operating for "more than 20 years", but the method has been around since long before Dolly the sheep made cloning a household word. It's not a recent innovation.

In 1969 a coworker of mine was briefly arrested for possession of a stolen car. Her car was parked in front of her apartment, and the city police showed up at her door, arrested her, and towed her car away. She was understandably upset. When the police checked the VIN, they let her go, but they kept her car for a few days as "evidence".

It turned out that a car of the exact same make, model, color, and year as her car had been reported stolen, and the plates on her car matched the plates of the stolen car. The police told her that the thieves had switched plates with her car. That gets them a head start getting the stolen car out of the state.

The police kept the bogus plates, and the DMV gave her a load of crap about issuing new plates. They wanted her to turn the old ones in. Duh? Them's the rules, ya know.


I've been having strange dreams lately.

I'm running out of closet space, and last night I dreamed that I found a fourth bedroom that I didn't know I had, and it was neat and clean, and had about 15 feet of unused closet bars. I woke up this morning all excited about having so much space.

The main problem is that I have no drawers, so a lot of stuff that should be in drawers is instead on hangers. I need me some drawers. Or a real fourth bedroom.

I've had a lot of dreams like that lately. Last week I dreamed that the Hairless Hunk had fixed the van. I was so disappointed when I opened the front door, and the van was still sitting there, rotting into the driveway.

The dreams are so real. I believe them.

2322 Photos - Drug war.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thirty-four photos illustrating Mexico's drug war from the Boston Globe, at Warning - unlike most of the Boston Globe site's photos that I have provided links to in the past, these particular ones are not beautiful or amazing. They are frightening.

This one is beautiful, but still oddly disturbing. I'd heard about the border wall, but didn't know what it looked like. Here it is (click on it to enlarge and see the whole photo):
Caption on the photo: "A recently constructed section of the controversial US-Mexico border fence expansion project crosses previously pristine desert sands at sunrise on March 14, 2009 between Yuma, Arizona and Calexico, California. The new barrier between the US and Mexico stands 15 feet tall and sits on top of the sand so it can lifted by a machine and repositioned whenever the migrating desert dunes begin to bury it. The almost seven miles of floating fence cost about $6 million per mile to build. (David McNew/Getty Images)"

The comments after the photos are mostly thoughtful, worth sampling if you have the time.

Later edit: There were about 120 comments when I wrote the above. I went back to read later comments. The discussion has deteriorated. Sorry about that.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

2321 Holding Hands

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

You know how some things just are the way they are, and you don't think about them? And sometimes if you do think about them, they expose you as a hypocrite, so you don't want to think about them?

I saw three instances of hand-holding today, and one of them annoyed me, and I hate to admit why.

The one that annoyed me was the first. It was a starlet and her celebrity date. She was a bit more famous than he. She was also much taller than he, like by two feet. (He was a "Little Person.**") The interviewer addressed most of the questions to her.

Something about them really bothered me. It looked vaguely to me like she and the interviewer, but mostly she, were treating her date like a child, or a lesser being. It look like he felt that way, too. He kept glancing away, rubbing the back of his head.

The second photo was a bride and groom holding hands, and his wrist was to the front. That's when I realized what it was that bothered me about the first couple. The first couple were holding hands, and her wrist was in front of his. That's what felt wrong. I wonder, if his wrist were in front, would the interviewer have paid more attention to him?

The third was a slightly older sister with her toddler brother, and her wrist was to the front. That was ok with me, and that's when I realized I should be ashamed of myself.

Wrist to the front indicates the leader, the decision maker, the protector, dominance. Wrist to the back indicates the follower, infantilization, passivity, subservience.

Isn't that odd?

Beyond the fact that we read it that way, even if it really does indicate what the relationship is, every couple, whether dating or siblings, should be able to define their relationship any way they want. I don't have a right to approve or disapprove.

I am annoyed with myself that a.) I interpret the wrist position that way, b.) that I expect the female half of a heterosexual couple to be the submissive one, and c.) it bugs me when she's not!


I select men who are bigger, faster, stronger, and smarter than I. I select that way because I want to be submissive in public, I think that is a huge compliment to a man, so I need a man I can trust to handle things without needing my approval. At home, in private, in major decisions, in the relationship, I expect equal participation.

So I always have my wrist to the back when we hold hands. If we're sitting at a table, I'll slip my hand under his rather than touch the top. It's just automatic.

I have noticed that when dealing with clerks, sales people, anyone else, really, male or female, if I am holding hands with a man, and my wrist is behind, they address all questions and comments to the man. I don't exist. If I want to be heard, I have to not only release the hand, but step aside and keep both hands visible.

If my wrist is in front (and that often was the case during Jay's illness) it actually confuses people. They're not sure who's in charge.


Re: "Little People". Ok. You can choose what you want to be called. I guess I can understand not wanting to be called a dwarf, or a midget, since those are labels that get misused and perhaps have carnival connotations, and don't always apply anyway, and even the medical terms don't always apply (although I don't see that any terms are any more limiting than "Black", or "Presbyterian", or "blond", they're all simply descriptive). So I can see why you want your own non-emotional, non-negative, group defining label.

But I don't understand why "little people". "Short" is more accurate. "Short" is pretty much limited to physical height. "Little" applies to much more. You can be short and still not be little, or small. "Little" has a feeling of incapacity, a deficiency. Instead of little people, how about shorter people? As in I'm short, you're shorter. Big deal. Just means I can't reach the top shelf, and neither can you. The rest of both of us is as big as everyone else.

Monday, March 23, 2009

2320 Crazy Man

Monday, March 23, 2009

I spent Sunday with The Man, into this morning. One of the reasons I want to see as much of him as I can is because he's working himself into the ground. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he simply dropped dead one of these days.

He met me directly off a 43-hour marathon shift**, got a total of three hours sleep in two pieces, spent the day with me, and then Sunday night bowled 20 practice games, one ball after another, back and forth on two lanes.

He's crazy and getting crazier.

At least he slept well last night.

I want to wring his neck.

(** isn't that illegal?)