Saturday, August 15, 2009

2548 My world is a compost heap.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

George Orwell: The past belongs to those who control the present.


I never actually made a decision whether to go to the concert or not, but it is now 11:55 am, and I didn't dress and get out the door a half hour ago, so I guess I'm not going. And I'm not upset about my having lost track of time, despite having been up at 7, so I guess that's ok by me. Shrug.


We've had so much rain this summer - well, not so much in quantity, more like constant drizzle then clouds so the prior drizzle didn't dry up before the next starts - anyway, so much that the ground is constantly moist. I opened the front door on the first sunny day in ages, a few days ago, and was struck by the smell.

Everything on the forest floor is rotting. Leaves and twigs and branches that take years to decompose are all rotting all at once. It's a deep, dark brown, loamy smell, with overtones of garbage pail and mold.

I have, or had, no strong allergies. Spring pollen irritates my sinuses, but not enough to call it an allergy. But I think maybe I may be allergic to mold. I've had sinus headaches and a slightly sore throat for a few weeks now (that high curtain at the top back of the throat, on either side of the uvula - is that where my tonsils are?), and a lot of back-of-the-throat phlegm that has me coughing every time I leave the house.

It feels a lot like April 1999, when the house in Highland was flooded by a burst hot water pipe, which also filled the house with steam, and by the time we discovered it there was mold everywhere including the ceilings, and actual toadstools and mushrooms growing on the carpets. I had this same feeling in my throat during the several weeks it took me to sort and decide what of the contents could be cleaned and saved and what had to be discarded. (The house, by the way, was gutted, leaving only the exterior studs and floor joists, which had to be washed with bleach.)

On the upside, I've heard that the wild mushroom crop this year is spectacular.

Friday, August 14, 2009

2547 Illusion

Friday, August 14, 2009

On abstract art: The subject is limited, and there's no emotional connection.


It's interesting that the above quotation floated up in the 8-ball for this post. I met Nat in Wappingers today, and rode with him to Cold Spring, where we met Angie for lunch. Modern art was a topic of conversation on the ride.

Anyway, I found this optical illusion:There are four complete and perfectly round circles, and they are not interlinked or crossing. (It's all over the internet, at Switched, and Digg, and a few blogs, and I don't know where it started, so I didn't credit it.)

2546 To go or not to go, that is the question.

Friday, August 14, 2009

There are a lot of people who like to be told what to think.
They are more dangerous than the people who tell them.

Oops. And here I am asking for advice.

I have a ticket to the 40th anniversary concert, "BETHEL WOODS MUSIC FESTIVAL starring Heroes of Woodstock", tomorrow. The groups appearing include Levon Helm Band, Jefferson Starship, Ten Years After, Canned Heat, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Mountain, Tom Constanten and Country Joe McDonald.

When I bought the ticket on line a few weeks ago, I didn't think it was going to be that big a deal. Lawn tickets were only $19 (about $31 after Ticketmaster added their ripoffs). There are a group of 40 of us who are to meet there.

Over the past week I have been getting one email after another from the organizer of our group, and from the concert organizers, and I'm getting more and more worried. Rule after rule, warning after warning.

It will take me about two hours to get from here to there, with normal traffic. The organizers warn that traffic approaching the grounds will be heavy and slow, and they advise that you get to the parking lot as early as possible after it opens at 2 pm. The gates to the grounds open at 3 pm, and "you should get in line early to avoid long lines". (The concert starts at 5 pm.)

Buses will be arriving from pickup points around the state.

What are the chances drivers and people in line will be courteous and thoughtful?

You can take in only two unopened bottles of water (for many hours in sun and heat?) and a blanket or towel to sit on. Oh, and lots of money to buy their food and water and rent chairs - all at reasonable prices, of course.

Once through the gate, if you must leave (like you forgot something in the car) you WILL NOT be allowed back in. Period. No excuses accepted.

I was getting more and more negative about this.

Then the kicker came today. How does our group find each other? Should we meet up just inside the gate? The organizer and her friend have notified us that they will have a "sort of turquoise green tarp, and will spread it out in the middle of the field in front of the stage". "look for the tarp."

Uh, I'm not arriving by helicopter.

This is looking hairier and hairier. I'm thinking about just not going at all. I wouldn't be so negative if I had someone to go with. None of the others in the group live within 40 minutes of me, and I'd be heading southwest, while most of them will head northwest or west. So I'm pretty far out of the way.

Anyone have an opinion? (Oh, yeah, the ticket has my name on it and ID is required, so no, it isn't useful to overnight it to you. And no, I'm not a fan of any of the groups. And if everyone stands up, I won't see much of anything, even if we're on a slope.)

I think I'll find something else to do tomorrow.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

2545 Another medicare shock

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Little girls grow up to be women.
Little boys grow up to be ... big boys.


I received a letter from the Social Security Administration yesterday, in reference to Medicare. They say that the amount I pay each month for medicare is based on my income level, and that they get those figures from the IRS. The total that they use includes income from all sources, including tax-free income.

When I read the number they had for my total 2008 income, I about fell over. It's at least 60% higher than I was aware of. I'll be paying a small fortune for Medicare.

I stopped by Piper's office today to ask him to please check it against his records and explain it to me. He has a lot of my investments in tax-free bonds, and he rolls over the interest from those bonds into new bonds, so I never really see it, never get to touch or use it, unless I specifically ask him to cut me a check. It's probably reported on those back addenda of the return, the pages I don't look at very carefully, because they don't matter to the IRS bottom line. I'm also aware that late last year he moved a lot of my stock out of "dangerous waters" into safer areas, so I suspect there were capital gains I never actually had that I could use, but that the SSA is counting.

He wasn't in. Perhaps I'll catch him tomorrow. I guess I'm going to have to pay more attention to what's going on.


Tonight I'm going to a lawn concert in Sugar Loaf, about an hour and a half southeast of here. The weather is iffy, but I'm going anyway. I'll take an umbrella. If it does rain, I suspect the group will relocate to a restaurant or bar down the road, so it won't be a complete waste of a drive. (Although, on my current diet, a restaurant or bar is a complete waste on ME.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

2544 Robots. Just how functional are they?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Explanations are interpreted at the level and understanding
of the listener, not the speaker.

-----------------------------'s Big Picture set today is on the current advances in robotics, from military to fun to humanoid. Asian developers seem to be fascinated by female humanoid robots.

I can understand that if you want a robot to "man" a reception desk, or serve drinks, or putter around the house, you'd want it to have some semblance of a face to interact with, and hands would be needed to use things designed for humans, but, uh, why does it need humongous breasts? At eye-level?
It's not like it will be nursing baby robots. And the "male-form" robots don't have interesting bulges for us ladies to peruse.

Unfair. And silly. And so so typical of humans.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

2543 A thought

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Computers have raised writing to a new low.


A few days ago I noted that health care doesn't seem like an area where profit should be the main determinant. Consider this: what incentive do pharmaceutical companies have to develop cures? That would be killing the golden goose.

Same for energy policy. What incentive do energy providers have to discover or promote more efficient machines, generators, or batteries?


I sent The Man some advice today: "Don't walk behind the elephant."

I got back a two word reply: "Too late."

I'm wondering, but I know he'll be too busy to explain until next week. Besides, I think he likes being mysterious.

Like I said - frustrating.

Monday, August 10, 2009

2542 Typhoon Photos

Monday, August 10, 2009

Heat, pressure, time.
The same things that make a diamond also make a waffle.


Terrifically devastating typhoon in southeast Asia, over the past few days and today. 100 inches of rain. Wind. Battering waves. Flood. Amazing photos at Go. Look. Be grateful. See comments #12 and #19 under the photos at


2541 Dressing, or Overdressing?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Originality is the fine art of remembering what you heard,
but forgetting where you heard it.

(I forget where I heard this.)

Many people have told me that they like the way I dress. Guys tell me I dress "touchably", but not flashily or provocatively.

I like loose clothing that I can move in. My favorite slacks (many pairs in black, and one each in the few other colors they come in) are a smooth knit with lycra, loose and flowing, swinging to brush the calf. I don't care for cotton or demin on my legs, because my legs are so very short, and by the time I get a non-stretch fabric loose enough to not constrict, my legs look even more stumpy. The few jeans I have are fake demin - stretchy with lycra.

I currently have no short skirts. They're all long, ankle or below, because I don't like to show my short muscular legs.

I almost never wear T-shirts because the high round neckline does not flatter my face. I wear knit tops, but with V, turtle, or scoop necks. I prefer micro-knit to cotton because they're silkier and feel good. I wear kurtas, because they are beautiful and loose. I have a very few button-front shirts/blouses, and those I do have are dressy, and I wear them open over a shell, like a light jacket. I have a problem finding them to fit, because my bust is way out of proportion to my shoulders, and if I size them to button, the shoulder seam is halfway down my short arms to the elbow, or if it's sleeveless, the armhole is huge. Looks awful.

(I do have some grungies - cotton knit pants, a pair of baggy jeans, some of Jay's old shirts, some Ts - but I almost never wear them off my property. Just ain't gonna happen.)

So, what's the problem?

The same guys who tell me they love the way I dress (women rarely say anything) also tell me I always overdress. The Man once asked me, "Don't you have any ordinary shirts?" Well, no, I don't. We'll go to karaoke in a bar, and all the other females there are wearing jeans and T-shirts or cotton blouses, and I'm wearing my black silky slacks and a hand-painted silk kurta. I don't feel out of place, because for me, that's ordinary attire, equivalent in my mind to their jeans. Being dressed perhaps more "nicely" doesn't make me stiff or stuck up. I bounce around and have just as much fun.

It's not like I'm overly concerned about appearance. I rarely wear makeup these days, can't remember the last time I set my hair, and don't polish any nails. I just like to wear pretty and comfortable things, and I do believe that what you choose to wear reflects your level of respect for the places you go and the people you're with.

I see guests on daytime TV talk shows, and I wonder, "Did they know they'd be on TV today?" I've seen people going to church on Sunday in clothes I would wear to paint the kitchen. To me, this seems disrespectful.

But then, I come from an era when women wore a hat and gloves to church, and even to visit the neighbor's kitchen for coffee. The year I started college (1962) was the first year gloves were not required in the dining hall at dinner. We were still required to wear skirts, stockings, and high heels. To dinner. In the college cafeteria.

Things have changed.

2540 Photos from around the village

Monday, August 10, 2009

Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati
(When all else fails, play dead.)


Photos from some recent walks.

A squirrel on the fence around the village parking lot. He'd been lying there stretched out with all four legs hanging straight down, and his chin on the boards. He tensed up when he saw me watching him, but until then he was the epitome of laziness.

I liked the way the roots of this tree looked like lava pouring over the sidewalk.

This is a tree root bulging out of the ground, and full of water and grass clippings in the hollow. When the TV weatherman reminds people to dump standing water to keep mosquitoes down, I think of this. Yeah, we've had a lot of rain.
I fell in love with these whatever-they-ares in the lot of a business. Three clumps of some kind of grass-like plant. Not bamboo, though. They are over six feet tall. I'd love to have a clump on either side of the bottom of my driveway.
Closer, this is what they looked like at the base:
Anyone know what this purple flower is? I like it.
I like this stuff, too.
End of walk.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

2539 Remembering the bad things

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Josh Billings: "There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory."


In the movie I saw last Tuesday, the young man is hurting from the breakup, and his little sister advises him that to get over a lost love, you don't dwell on the good things, you try to remember the bad things.

Yeah. When we're in the midst of an infatuation, we see all the good and push away the bad.

I did that with Roman. He's got a lot of good points, but he's also got a lot of bad, and when I was too close to him, I saw only the good. That's why now, when the unacceptable situation that drove me away is gone, done, no longer an issue, I know that I'll never get back with him in that way again, because now I see him clearly. I still like him and count him as a friend, but no longer a partner candidate.

I know this happens with The Man, too. I feel wonderful when I'm with him. He's so strong and smart and protective, funny, fast, and physically impressive, and, well, other stuff. That wonderful feeling lasts about ten days. So if I see him at a minimum of every two weeks, I stay high.

When we head into three weeks, though, I start to see all the problems. He's covered in red flags. So many in fact that I wonder why he continues to see me, it's just all wrong, and then I get paranoid.

Today marks seven weeks since I've seen him. A date was canceled about 5.5 weeks ago and not rescheduled. Although I'm a little hurt that I'm not a higher priority than what he's doing, I know what's going on, and I understand, and I hope he succeeds, so that's not the problem. We have been keeping in touch. Just not literally touching.

The problem is that with such a (relatively) long separation, I'm beginning to forget the good. The red flags are flapping, and I'm wondering what I'm doing with him and why. I'm beginning to think that if I never saw him again, that might be a good thing, and I wouldn't be too broken up about it at all.

And then I look at the other men available to me, and I get depressed.

He has awakened parts of me I didn't know I had, and I never want to be put to sleep again.

2538 Strength, Power

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Plants are living things too - they're just easier to catch and you can’t hear them scream.

(For all my vegetarian friends.)


Kim Komando's video of the day is an amazing pair of acrobats, known as Golden Power, from the International Circus Festival of Budapest. To quote Kim: "This type of acrobatics is known as Hand Balancing. The men essentially use each other as gymnastic equipment. They are amazingly strong and graceful. And each stunt is better than the last."

Um - if you watch the video in the blog, rather than through a reader or aggregator, you might want to turn the music off over there on the left. "Alice's Restaurant" really doesn't add to the performance....


2537 Movie

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Me: "Time is like a sausage skin. It has no set length of its own.
How long or short it is depends on what it's filled with."


Last night I saw "Ray", the movie for which Jamie Foxx won an Oscar for his portrayal of Ray Charles. I hadn't seen it when it came out.

The movie was very good. I recommend it. The music alone was worth it.

I watched it in a private home theater, about 40 minutes upriver. Twelve foot screen, seven black leather recliners. Surround sound. Nobody crackling cellophane or crunching candy in your ear.

It was just the host, Chris, and me, but it was ok, his wife and children were elsewhere in the house. I don't understand, but that's ok. He said that usually there are a few neighbors who turn up, but not last night.


I mentioned to Chris that I had joined several dinner and movie Meetup groups in the Kingston and Poughkeepsie areas, that many of them had been active for two or more years with 200 or more members, but that in just the past two months, several of them had lost organizers and no one would step up to take over.

He mentioned that it costs to run a Meetup group, and some people just get tired of paying the subscription fees. Members don't pay, but the organizer does.

I went out to the website this morning and looked up the fees to start and maintain a group. There are a couple fee structures, and I don't understand the difference between them, but just as an example, one is $19 a month.

At not one of the meetups I attended has the organizer mentioned a fee, although they are allowed to request a membership fee or attendance contribution if they wish. (An Albany dinner group I joined yesterday, but haven't been to yet, was the first - she asks for a $2 donation at the first event you attend.)

Now I wonder why any of them take on the role of organizer. Not only is it work and a pain, but it COSTS!