Saturday, October 10, 2009

2617 Mount Peter walk

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Paul Levine, in Night Vision: "We are all born psychopaths, born without repressions.
Society teaches us the restraints of proper behavior
and helps us develop a conscience."


Today was the Mensa hike on a piece of the Appalachian Trail, on Mount Peter.  Originally ten or so people were interested, but then there was rain over the past few days, continuing into this morning, so a lot of people were afraid of mud and dripping trees and dropped out.  Weaklings!  The total amount of rain was less than an inch!

So four of us went, A., C., P., and me, and it was fine.

There will be a photo or two with me in it after P. sends them.

We started at the hawk watch platform, where two women from the Audubon Society were counting migrating raptors.  They count from early September through mid-November.  It's a cold cold job, standing up there in the wind.

Then we used P.'s hiking GPS and looked for a geocache that was supposed to be near the hawk tower.  I was giggling because it was described as "at the base of a cedar tree in view of the hawk tower, under a piece of bark", and I was the only person able to identify a cedar tree.  ("No, that's a hickory."  "No, that's a white pine, but at least you're getting warmer.")  The last time a Mensa group visited the hawk tower, the guys had searched in "front" of the tower.  Weird how a) the tower seems to have a view orientation, and b) everyone searched "in front".  Turns out the GPS pointed us "behind" the tower.  Hey guys, that's still "in view of".

I found the cache.  C. took out a souvenir pin from Scotland and put in a Euro coin worth about five cents, and I signed the logbook.  I'll log the find on the geocache website later this evening.

Then we walked the Appalachian Trail to a rocky overlook.  The guys said it was a little over two miles from where we picked up the trail, but I don't think so.  It felt to me like about a mile.

The trail continued across the rocks, but we turned back here.  You can see a white spot on the far rock, next to the red blotch.  The white spot is a trail marker (a blaze).  Follow the dotted line....

I was a little disappointed that we didn't go farther, but it was very cold and windy in the exposed areas (although it was warmish in the woods), and people got hungry.  So we went for pizza.

2616 Disclaimer

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Robert Heinlein: A "nine-days' wonder" is taken as a matter of course on the tenth day.


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Friday, October 09, 2009

2615 Cleaning out the closet

Friday, October 9, 2009

Robert Heinlein: "Being right too soon is socially unacceptable."


I was supposed to go to a games/drinks/bowling social evening tonight, but decided against it at the last minute.  The clothing laundry pile had grown to 64 cubic feet (well, that's what it looked like, anyway), so I decided to take three loads of "dark" to the laundromat.  I actually prefer the laundromat over my washer and dryer because I can do multiple loads concurrently.  Plus my washer is old, needs to be babysat to ensure it doesn't overflow, and the well water is super hard and can often be silty.

So anyhow, I returned with clothes to be put away, and realized there was no place to put them.  My closet is in transition.  I'm midway in weight between too heavy and ok, and the weather is midway between summer and winter, so there's an excess of wear-now clothes.

I decided to spend the evening sorting.  There are things in the bedroom closet that I know I will never wear again, and other things I won't wear again until next spring and which should be shifted to a spare bedroom closet.  But, heh heh, the spare closets are already full of things I'll never wear again.

Trying on clothes now.  Five piles - keep out for now, put away for spring, toss, donate, sell.  I'm finding things I love and had forgotten I had.

Same with shoes.  All that's out right now is summer sandals and so on, one pair of walking shoes, and one pair of ankle boots.  My winter shoes are --- somewhere.  I'm hoping I'll find them in the next few days.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

2614 Frittering

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hugh Prather, Notes to Myself: "If the desire to write
is not accompanied by actual writing,
then the desire is not to write."


The above quote applies to everything.  If I truly want to see the world, I should be planning trips.  If I want to make pretty things, I should be setting up a work area.  If I want to lose weight, I should be walking more.  If I want to have company, I should be cleaning up the clutter.  If I want a man to care for me and whom I can care for, for the next twenty years or so, it doesn't make a lot of sense to fiddle around now.  I should be looking for that guy.  I guess I have to decide what I really want.  Apparently it's not travel, production, neat body, guests, or intimacy beyond great sex.

Last night I had dinner in an Italian restaurant in Albany.  It was "restaurant week", whatever that means, so we had a three-course dinner for $20.09.  It was disappointing.  My entree was shrimp scampi.  The shrimp were overcooked and tough, and the sauce was flavorless. Most of the Meetup dinners seem to average eight or nine women and one or two men.  This time, at least, there were five men and two women, odds I like better.  I have always preferred male conversation.  It seems to have a point.

Nothing much else is going on.  I have a very long "to do" list and I seem to be making no headway on it at all, and I have no reason and no excuse.  Time just seems to flow away on inconsequential but insistent items.

By the way, the best corn fritters are made with Bisquick and a can of creamed corn.  I forget the ratio, but it should be such that it makes a thick sticky pasty batter.  Then you drop by large round spoonfuls into hot oil and deep fry until they're light brown, ball-shaped, and puffy.  Serve with maple-flavored syrup.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

2613 Big Giant and Little Giantess

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The early bird deserves the worm.


More great photos from  The full set of 35 photos tells a story, using huge French marionettes in a multi-day play in the streets of Berlin, part of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Go, look, marvel.


I'm going to dinner in Albany tonight. The wind is high in the trees, leaves blowing horizontally past the windows. Sixty-three degrees. If this were not a very popular restaurant (the group count was filled a week ago, and it's a bit late to bump someone on the waitlist), I'd cancel. Stay home and stay warm and safe.

I hate cold.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

2612 Catching Up

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

L. Long:  "I shot an arrow into the air. It's still going - everywhere!"


The above quote seems to apply to this old post.  I'm getting an increasing number of search hits a day landing on that post, people looking for information on the strange message.

Today's visitors were from Bronx, New York; Denver, Colorado; Gig Harbor, Washington; Buffalo, New York; Davidson, North Carolina; Buxton, Derbyshire, UK; and Los Angeles, California.  That virus is really getting around!


Saturday I went to Greenwich Village with The Gypsy for Venus Uprising's "Metamorphosis".  Many of The Gypsy's colleagues and friends were either in the show or in the audience.  Me, I just went for the city visit and the show, and was more than satisfied with both.  We arrived early enough for a sushi dinner and a little street wandering, and the dancing was mostly wonderful.

Photos from the show are here.  (Gypsy - these photos confirm that Autumn's dress is the one from the DVD, and it does have dangly sleeves.)


Sunday I attacked the mound of paper on the desk.  Monday I went to the movies in Fishkill, and saw "Julie and Julia".  You don't have to be a cook to enjoy it (although it did leave me with a desire to make Boeuf Bourguignon, even though I dislike wine in sauces).

There's been a lot of discussion about how they managed to make Meryl Streep look so tall by surrounding her with shorter people, standing her on stools, and so on.  Mostly that worked, but I did notice a few times when her arms were much too short for the level of her waist, and one scene in a restaurant when we get a side view, and it's very obvious she's sitting on a cushion at least eight inches thick - either that, or Meryl's rear end sticks out a LOT farther than I thought!

Yeah, inability to suspend disbelief again.


I've been trying to resolve a medical insurance problem.  The lab that handled one of my blood tests billed me a certain amount for the procedure.  My insurance company disallowed $70 of the charges as an included part of another procedure, paid the contractual amount to the lab, and the Explanation of Benefits (EOB) instructed me to pay only $1.79.  Which I did.  I enclosed a letter with the check to the lab explaining that I had been advised by the small print on both the EOB and the lab invoice that if there was a discrepancy I should pay only the amount indicated by the EOB, which I did.

Obviously no one from the lab read the letter, which pisses me off.  If they had, I would assume they would check the EOB, and if they had a problem they'd go to the insurance company to resolve it.  After all, the contract is between those two, and it's not something I can resolve, because I don't know what their agreement is.

The lab phone number gets me to an automated system, where I can review my account, pay a bill, change my contact/insurance info, and that's all.  There's no way to get a person.  I wrote another letter, which got no response except more overdue notices.  Then it went to a collection company, who have gotten progressively nastier.  I called them, and they gave me a number I could call to get a real person at the lab office.  The lab wanted me to fax the invoice and EOB (they don't have copies?), and no, a scanned attachment to an email won't do, they "have to have the original hardcopy".  When I pointed out that an attachment to an email can be printed, and what comes out of a fax machine is not "the original" anyway, the woman didn't get it**.  It must be faxed.  Period.

Three weeks, many hours on hold, several trips to the print shop in town, and over $15 in postage, gasoline, and fax costs (to convince them I owe only $1.79, which was paid), it is still not resolved, and they are now threatening my credit rating.

I wonder how many people just give up and pay the $70.  I'm not sick or elderly, but  I'm already at my wit's end.  Maybe that's why they ignore letters and ensure that you can't get to them by phone.  They just want to ignore and let the person give up and pay.

Me?  I want the fax costs and postage refunded!


**That reminds me of a lawsuit I reviewed once, where the plaintiff didn't have a copy of the contract  because "I faxed it to the defendant.  I don't have it anymore.  They have it now!"  Boing?  Do these women think the paper is disassembled and teleported through the fax machine?

Monday, October 05, 2009

2611 Before you forgive, know what you are forgiving!

 Monday, October 5, 2009

L. Long: "Anyone who considers protocol unimportant
has never dealt with a cat."


I rarely comment on anything that's going on beyond my sphere, because it can cause arguments in the comments, and I don't want to get into that.  But I don't have many commenters anyway, so I'll chance it.

I was watching the news (oops, "news") this morning, and the first item was David Letterman's recent admission, followed by Jon and Kate Gosselin's latest spat, then Michelle Obama's exercise routine, then I forget what was next, but it was definitely not what I tune in to the news for.  Is nothing else happening in the world?  Do I really have to go to the BBC to get US and world news?

The talk shows this morning were also full of Letterman and the Gosselins, but that's ok.  That's where one should expect to hear that kind of "news".

Most people commenting on the Letterman thing despise the blackmailer, but seem to see nothing wrong with what Letterman had done.  Like, "Well, he was single then" (as if infidelity was the issue), and "Coworkers date all the time", and "He's rich and famous and fun - who wouldn't want to date him", and "What's the big deal?"  I think any woman who doesn't understand what's wrong must have entered her working life after woman's lib, after recognition of such things as sexual harassment, and they've never experienced what can occur.  Kathie Lee and Hoda seem to have understood the issues, and now they're getting slammed in comments on their website.

It reminds me of the Polanski thing, people who want to excuse a man who raped a child and then jumped bail simply because they like his movies.  Please! 

I've copied a comment I left on another blog:

I'm a little upset at the "what's the big deal" attitude [re Letterman]. Yeah, he's rich and powerful and probably fun, and a woman might flirt and invite attention. But even if that's what was going on, it's still not ok.

Most companies have rules about relationships between people in the workplace in the "line of command", and for good reason. When someone has control of your job, your appraisals, your paycheck, acquiescence to advances is not always voluntary. This was a huge problem in the '50s and '60s, before such rules were in place. Back then, if a superior made unwelcome advances, a woman's only choice was to give in or quit the job.

In the Very Large Computer Manufacturer I used to work for, if a manager wanted to date someone who reported to him or her at any level, the underling had to be transferred to another area first. Otherwise, both would be fired, and it DID happen. Even husbands and wives working as peers had to be separated by at least two levels of management.

Any time one person has control over another's livelihood and employment, there's an element of coercion. If not to start, then at the end, and the coercion can go either way. It might start out consensual, but what if you want to end it and he doesn't? Does servicing the boss become part of your job description?

So far, no woman has come forward to say she felt coerced. But the power threat is still there - "if you want to continue in the job, keep your mouth shut".

Yeah, I think this is a big deal.
 I think that about covers it.