Saturday, October 24, 2009

2635 Yesterday, today, tomorrow.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

If e-mail had been around before the telephone was invented,
people would have said, "Hey, forget e-mail! With this new telephone invention,
I can actually talk to people!"
-- The Executive Speechwriter Newsletter --


Last night, Friday, I went to a Hallowe'en Haunted House.  It was cold and pouring rain, and we all stood outside in the rain for a half hour waiting for the last couple to arrive.  Then we got in line, and waited in the rain for another 45 minutes until we could get into the "house" (the website showed a mansion, but it was actually a series of linked shipping containers, decorated to look like an abandoned village).  The entire contents of my purse got soaked.

It was fun, but not the way one would expect.  Like, a zombie would jump out of nowhere and scream into my face, so I screamed right back into his face, then we did the Lucy/Harpo mirror routine, punctuated with synchronized screams.  A madman ran up to me with a chain saw, so I raised my furled umbrella and yelled "en garde!" and cracked him up.

Tonight I went to a movie, French with subtitles, in Valatie, "Priceless".  It was pretty good.  It was about a young woman who lives off rich old men, and a young man, a hotel employee, who falls in love with her when she mistakes him for a wealthy schmuck.  She runs through his savings in a matter of days, then discovers he's not wealthy and dumps him.  He is about to be arrested when he's unable to pay the bills she ran up, and is saved by a wealthy older widow.  He's still besotted with the young woman, and discovers that if he services the older woman, he's able to catch glimpses of the young woman at society affairs.  Of course in the end, the young man and woman ride off (penniless) into the sunset together.  (We figured that would last maybe a week.)

On the way home I stopped at a gas station for a bottle of tea, came down slightly off center on the heel of my right boot, which slipped sideways, and I fell on my hip.  The embarrassing part was not falling - it was that I bounced when I fell.

I'm going to a Native American Spirituality something-or-other tomorrow with Daughter and Hercules, in Ocean, NJ.

2634 Memory, or lack thereof

Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Most men ... were competent in groups that mimicked the playground,
incompetent in groups that mimicked the family;
that was why all-male committees ran the most smoothly."
-- Jane Smiley, Moo --


 Donna in AL, in a comment on my answer to her question, asks if I have a photographic memory.

The question cracked me up for two reasons.

I do have some serious deficits, and of them all, memory is the greatest.  I have next to no memory.  I can't remember names, dates, formulas, facts, anything that isn't imprinted on my body (as in "happened to me") as opposed to my mind.  My mind doesn't imprint.  It's like I'm missing some of the hooks to hang things on in my head.  In fact, that may be the reason I am good at pattern recognition and logic - it's a survival thing.  I had to replace memory with something, or I'd have been in an institution for the totally incapable long ago.

I'm not exaggerating.  I have actually, when under stress, been in the car and couldn't remember how to turn it off.  I had to literally figure it out logically.**  I have forgotten my daughter's name, and I named her!  She is often annoyed with me because I can't remember her friend's names, and she interprets that as not caring.  I carried notebooks around with me when I worked, documenting conversations, commitments, and organizational charts.  Otherwise I would not have been able to remember my manager's name.

I forget words.  I have a vast vocabulary, but every so often I can't remember the simplest words.  In conversation, I am often grasping for words.  The concept is in my mind, but I can't find the word for it, or I use the wrong word.  I often come across as rather stupid.  Certainly rather mentally slow.

I can't discuss books, because although I used to read voraciously, 10 or more books a month, I retained only concepts.  Not the title, author, or characters.  There are a few thousand books on bookshelves around the house, and if anyone pulls one out and asks, "Is this any good?", I have to answer, "I don't know.  It must be, because it's there."  I keep books I enjoy because one day I can reread them, and enjoy them all over again, because they'll likely be entirely new to me.  Or at least, because I'm a different person now than during the first reading, I'll get different ideas from them.

I was terrible in languages (French and Latin) and history in school, because it required memory.  I got good grades, but it was extremely difficult.  I ended up majoring in math because it was not necessary to remember anything.  When I needed the quadratic formula, or geometric theorems, or trigonometric relationships, I simply derived them anew, logically, on the spot.  Logic filled in for memory.

So no, I don't have a photographic memory.

That's one of the things that fascinates me about The Man.  He can hear a song once, or a lecture, or a comedic skit, and repeat it years later, word for word.  He notices and remembers everything that happens around him.  We'll go to a restaurant, and afterward he knows the name of every waitress that worked near our table.  Months later, we'll go to the same restaurant, and he'll address our waitress by name, before she even introduces herself.  In the same way that logic compensates for my poor memory, I think his auditory memory and environmental awareness compensates for his poor reading skills.  He says he reads painfully slowly (Jay did too!), and avoids reading if he can. That's not his only mental skill, by the way.  I think I'm better at pure logic than he, but he's FAST!

The other reason the idea of a photographic memory amused me goes back to around sixth grade.  There was a kid about my age in the neighborhood who had the classic photographic memory.  He could flip through a book without reading it, and then parrot back everything in the book, line by line.  Teachers loved him and held him up to the rest of us as something to admire, to aspire to.  My mother had noticed my poor memory by then, and she constantly compared me to him and found me lacking.  "Why can't you be more like him?  Apply yourself!  Work harder!"

We kids all knew he was an idiot.  He couldn't figure anything out if he hadn't seen the answer in a book.  He didn't even have any opinions!  If he'd read that 2+3=5, he knew that.  But 3+2=? would confuse him, even if he had read that the order of addends doesn't matter.  (Stupid example, but you know what I mean.  The point being that he wouldn't have known what I mean.  He couldn't put two concepts together to create a new idea, and I doubt that it even occurred to him that it was possible.)

All the adults thought he was wonderful, so all us kids hated him.

He's been obsoleted by the internet and search engines.  Poor guy.  I wonder what happened to him?  Help desk in a library, perhaps?


**How to turn off a car.

It stopped moving, but the motor's still running.  What now?  Let's see - what does it require to run?  Gas.  But I'm not giving it gas.  Look at gas pedal.  Hmmm.  It's getting a minimum somehow.  Giving it more just makes it go faster.  How do I cut off the gas?  Examine the dashboard for gas cutoff switch.  Nothing.  Imagine interior of motor.  Spark.  Needs spark.  Electricity.  Electricity makes the gas pump work, too.  Electricity is the key.  Examine dashboard for electric cutoff switch.  Nope.  Imagine disconnecting battery.  Gee, I don't remember doing that ever before....  There's got to be something simpler.  Touch all the dials and buttons and switches I can find.  Nothing.  This is stupid.  I'm going to have to get out and ask someone.  I can't get out and leave it running, it'll get stolen.  Lock doors.  Where's the key?  Oh, here it is.  Remove key so I can lock doors.  Oops.  Wow.  How 'bout that!  I'm gonna have to remember that!  Electricity is the KEY!  KEY, you idiot!

2633 The Queen's Question Answered.

Saturday, October 24, 2009 (wee hours of the morning)

"The essence of charity ... [is] not
deciding what others needed and giving it to them,
but giving them what they wanted."
-- Jane Smiley, Moo ---


A few posts back (#2629) I offered to answer any question asked. The Queen asks, "What's been your longest friendship (excluding family)?"

That question is harder than it seems.

My father was in the Air Force.  By the time I had graduated from high school, I had attended more than ten different schools.  We moved more often than that.  I learned early that making friends means losing friends.  I've been in this house since 1994, and this is the longest I've ever lived anywhere.  I made a list once, and by the time I was 50 years old, I had lived something like 40 different places.  So I'm not very good at making or maintaining friendships.

The second problem is in defining "friend".  There's a local woman I had considered a friend since about 1983.  We even went to England together in 1985 (I think it was '85), but last year she had a serious medical problem, and she withdrew from everyone.  She rejects overtures.  Several people have been hurt by her rejection.  I'm not.  I understand.  Is someone who doesn't want to see you or hear from you, who gets angry at attempts to be helpful, still a friend?

I'm still in snail mail/email touch with some ex-coworkers from the '80s and early '90s, now living in England, Colorado, North Carolina, Maryland, and Minnesota, but I haven't seen any of them except two visits with Danny, the Maryland one, since they transferred out, and the contact has lessened to one or two notes a year.  Are they friends?   I think Danny is a friend, but not a close friend. A hug friend, but not a call in the middle of the night friend.

I located one guy from my high school graduating class (Gene).  He was excited to hear from me, but really, we had nothing to talk about.  He's just a nice guy I know.  We definitely were friends once, but now?

One of my college friends, The Rabbi, and I refound each other in 2005.  We were really getting back into the old talking teasing pattern, and then I went to his 40th wedding anniversary party, and discovered that his wife had thought that 42 years before, he and I had been having some kind of steamy sordid affair in college (absolutely not true!), and she hated me, and still does.  Maybe we're friends, but if being friends with him is going to cause him problems, the friendly thing to do is not be friendly.

About three months ago, a woman I had known in elementary school contacted me through  I remember her as one of the smart ones.  She seems to remember us as great friends, playing together and so on.  I don't remember playing with her.  She was one of the small town gentry, and I was government trash (a lot of kids weren't ALLOWED to play with me).  She wants me to visit next time I go to Benton, Pa.  I will look her up, but it won't be a special trip.  So she's probably the earliest, the longest, acquaintance, but is she a friend?  Probably not.

Not that I've never had friends.  There had always been one or two special friends, whom I still remember.  In Canada there was Nan Cavill, Margaret Rae, and Diane Bithel.  In middle school there was Judy Belcher.  In high school there was Helen, Deloris, Joe, Gene, and Ray.  In college (1962-65) there was Sis, The Rabbi, Pam, Joe, a few others.  Nobody kept in touch for very long.  The Rabbi and Joe were roommates and pals all through college, but afterward TR says he got a few Christmas cards from Joe, and then silence.

It seems like the biggest wedge was marriage.  Someone would get married, and you'd never heard from them again.

I consider a friend someone I can call at 3 am if I need help, and they won't mind, and if they need help at 3 am, I am there.  Right now, at this point in my life, there are only three people I can put in that class:
- Roman
- Piper
- The Man 
A guy I slept with, a guy who wants to sleep with me, and a guy I'm sleeping with.  There's something wrong with that.

So, a surprise answer to the question.  After four years of intense psychotherapy, ending when I was thirty-seven, I discovered me.  I found out who I am, and that I'm pretty ok, and I like me.  I didn't know me before.  I met me at thirty-seven.  I've been a friend to myself since then.  My best friend.  So the answer is Me, a twenty-eight year friendship.

I do talk to myself at 3 am, and I don't mind at all..

2632 Donna in AL's Question Answered

Saturday, October 24, 2009 (1:30 am)

Leave the stage while the audience is still clapping.


A post or two back I offered to answer any question asked. I'm taking the easiest one first. Donna in AL asks, "As a member of mensa (you that is, not me), what is your IQ? If you have posted it before, I did not see it."

No, it hasn't been posted before.

What a lot of people don't know about Mensans is that they don't sit around comparing scores. In fact, it's a taboo topic. I know a few hundred past and current Mensans, and except for my late husband and my daughter, I have no idea whatsoever what anyone else's score is.

One reason comparing scores isn't done is that scores can't be compared. I'll explain that in a minute. Also, many Mensans don't even know what their own IQ score is.

Mensa accepts several tests for entrance (see for a list of acceptable tests and the qualifying scores. Note that many are not even IQ tests.) You can also take a battery of tests administered by Mensa. I'm not sure what it is now, but when I took the Mensa-administered tests in 1978 it was the California Test of Mental Maturity and the Stanford Binet.

If you took those tests through Mensa, they used to give you your score, so I know what my numbers are, but somewhere along the line, psychologists were complaining because Mensa was giving the same tests the pros gave, for hundreds of dollars less --- so Mensa agreed to NOT divulge the actual score. Now they just let you know whether you made it past the 98th %ile, qualifying for membership. Most current members of Mensa have no idea what they scored, except that it was high enough to join. It's only us old folks, or people who took a different test, who know our actual scores.

Note that Mensa does not require a particular IQ score. They actually require that you score in the top 2%ile (that's "percentile") of whatever test you take. Average scores are in the 50%ile range. A score in the 2%ile range means it's higher than 98% of all scores for that test.

What complicates matters is that around the 48-52%ile range (half the scores were above and half below the 50%ile point), all IQ tests will show generally the same IQ numbers - generally 90 to 110 IQ - for everybody who falls in that range. In that range, the test scores are comparable across all the tests. (That's what "standardized" means.) But as you spread out above or below that high bulge of the bell curve, the standard deviations of the different tests cause the scores to vary widely. For example, a 145 on the California Test of Mental Maturity is actually a higher score than a 158 on the Stanford Binet. But both of those scores fall at approximately the same point on the bell curve. Beyond a certain point, you can't compare the IQ numbers. You can compare only the %iles. To say, "I scored 162 on the IQ test!" has no meaning unless you know what test, what year, whether time was factored in (getting 162 completing the test in a half hour is a higher score than 162 in an hour on the same test), and how the test was administered. However it does have meaning to say "I scored in the 99th %ile.

The numbers also don't take into consideration that some people simply freak out at the mere idea of taking a test, so the actual score may not be the true potential score.

The second problem, one that many Mensans are loath to admit, is that the standardized IQ tests measure only a small subset of "intelligence", mainly the ability to discern patterns and think logically. They don't measure creativity, wholistic thinking, synthesis, deeper analysis, an ability to establish priorities and to change beliefs based on new information, and so on, all the things that are really! impressive. I get very impatient with Mensans who seem to assume that because they scored 132 on the Binet, they have been automatically endowed with all the other attributes and abilities, too.

Having established the groundwork, the disclaimer, the "yeah, are these numbers really going to mean anything?", I will now answer Donna's question in full.

  • Mensa requires a score in the top 2%ile. I am a Life member of Mensa.
  • Intertel requires a score in the top 1%ile. I am member of Intertel.
  • My IQ test scores put me in the 99.8%ile. That means that in a group of 1,000 people taking an IQ or aptitude test, I am likely to have one of the two highest scores.
  • My actual scores on professionally administered IQ tests have been 145, 158, 168, and something over 170. Of course, without my telling you what tests when, those numbers have no meaning, except that I can tell you that the 145 is technically higher than the 158. Suffice to say that they are all pretty darn high on the bell curve.
  • I got 800/798 on my college boards.
  • I aced the LSAT.
  • I scored the highest in Pennsylvania on the 1961 engineering aptitude test, the one that gets you all kinds of scholarship offers from engineering schools. My score wasn't beaten until just a few years ago, when some guy aced the one question I blew. He was all over the newspapers. I wasn't, because I was female. In 1961 I was considered an anomaly. (Note that MIT didn't accept females back then, let alone offer one a scholarship.)
  • In the mid to late '60s, IBM used to give an IQ test to potential employees. I scored the highest they'd ever seen, of about 10,000 tests given. They told me that, but didn't tell me my score.
So yeah, I guess some people would call me a genius. I don't, haven't, and won't, except in a disparaging way, because although I'll admit I must be pretty good at discerning patterns and thinking logically, that may be ALL I'm any good at. Otherwise, you'd think I'd be more successful. There's a lot more to genius than those paltry skills. And whatever those other things may be, I obviously don't have them.

Just look at all the things I don't understand.

Friday, October 23, 2009

2631 Crisis avoided, for the moment....

Friday, October 23, 2009

When you tell a child he or she can be anything,
the child hears it as they must be everything.


There are things The Man has not told me because he doesn't want me to know.  There are things I know that I haven't told The Man I know (well, actually I suspect, because it's unconfirmed), because I know he doesn't want me to know.  We are not as comfortable with each other as we could be because of all the unsaid things, the flag-draped elephants in the room. 

The last time we had been together was the weekend of September 13, and then on the morning of the 14th, in a fit of pique as he was rushing to get to work, I blurted something to him that could have ended things right there and then. But the last thing he said to me as we parted was that he loved me, and yes, he loved me enough to work on fixing things.

As I was lying alone in bed thinking a week or so ago, I decided that those things had to come out, and once out, they will have to be addressed.  And depending on how they are or are not addressed, things will get better, or worse.  And lying there thinking, I decided that it would be ok with me whichever way it went.  I just couldn't keep going this way any more.

So I had decided we were going to have to talk seriously, soon.  Like the next time we were together.  All men hate relationship talk, even when it's easy stuff, and I was afraid he'd bail rather than face the issues. Way back in the beginning I promised him no drama.

In the intervening weeks, our emails were pleasant and affectionate (I won't bring up the issues in an email).  He'd had a bad bout of flu, and then was working to make up the time lost to the flu, and blah blah, anyway, it's been several weeks. 

I set out to meet him on Wednesday determined to have the talk sometime between then and this morning.

Sigh.  Damn, he's good!  I don't think he was trying to manipulate me, it's just the way he is.

I didn't want to bring anything up Wednesday night because I was so happy to see him, and besides he wanted to talk about something troubling him that had happened at work, and it just wasn't the right time.  I thought maybe Thursday during the day.  But we slept late, then he had a bunch of things he'd found on the internet that he wanted to share with me (because I am "one of only two people he knows who would appreciate it"), and he seemed so happy.  It's been months since I'd seen him smile so much.  I'd missed those dimples in his cheeks. 

So, ok.  We'd be driving into the city in late afternoon (going to Carnegie Hall in the evening for a taping of one of his favorite NPR shows, and on the long drive would be a good time to talk.  Ha!  It was actually warm, warm enough to put the top down.  Can't really talk.  Sirius radio, Monty Python skits.  More smiles and laughing.  Ok.  We'll talk over dinner.

Dinner in the bar of an Irish pub, with poker up on the overhead screen.  I'd always wanted to watch him play poker.  He was winning, enjoying himself.  I let him.  Besides, the waiters were cute.  I was distracted.

Then a walk around a bit on crowded streets.  I was so frustrated I bought a pack of cigarettes.  I don't usuallly smoke when I'm with him, but by then I needed a cigarette.

On to Carnegie Hall.  We waited in the bar to be seated, and there happened to be an opportunity in the conversation for me to drop a two-word bowling ball on his foot, damn I wish I wouldn't blurt like that, and he did pick up on it but didn't even blink, he should have been shocked, he should have wondered how much more I know, and then they immediately called for seating, so that was that.

He really enjoyed the show.  I'm glad we went.  He was thrilled just to be in the same room with Paula Poundstone.

Ok, maybe the drive back to central NJ?  Warm.  Top down until we finally got to the turnpike and could move faster.  Cool stuff on the radio to share.  He was on a high for the rest of the evening, and I didn't want to bring him down.  And he didn't bring up what I'd said earlier. 

Certainly no chance this morning.   Again, we slept late.  He had to be back in the office after lunch, and he has a way of "shifting mental gears", like he has different modes for office, sports, date, whatever, and it has always fascinated me to see him shifting gears.  There's a certain point where I can see he's already in the office.

Oh well.  In the 36 hours I had somewhere between fifteen and twenty orgasms to various degrees, so guess I can't complain.

I wonder if he was so happy partly because he suspects I know what he's hiding, and yet I'm still with him, and that's happifying, and I wonder if he's thinking that if I know, and I'm still here, then why do we need to discuss it?

BECAUSE I'M FEMALE! And part bulldog. That's why.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

2630 Heading Out

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Happiness is not something you find.  It's something you make.


Last night's movie was "The Boys Are Back".  The official description is: "The film follows a witty, wisecracking, action-oriented sportswriter who, in the wake of his wife's tragic death, finds himself in a sudden, stultifying state of single parenthood. With turbulent emotions swirling just below the surface, Joe Warr throws himself into the only child-rearing philosophy he thinks has a shot at bringing joy back into their lives: just say yes. Raising two boys, a curious six year old and a rebellious teen, in a household devoid of feminine influence, and with an unabashed lack of rules, life becomes exuberant, instinctual, reckless and on the verge of constant disaster.

That description would not have drawn me to see it.  That's unfortunate.  It's actually about how the death of an integral element of a family ripples outward, and changes all the relationships between all the other parts.  It did that very well.  I liked it, and recommend it.


The Man and I are getting together this evening.  We'll be going to Carnegie Hall tomorrow evening for a taping of the PBS show "Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me".

I find that ironic.

He got tomorrow off work, and tried to get Friday off too, but due to work schedules was able to get only Friday morning. That's ok, I guess. He tried.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

2629 Invitation

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Definition: Punker - Rebel without a clue, with a high school art project hairdo.


Ask me questions in a comment on this post, any questions, on any topics, as many questions as you want, and I will answer to the best of my ability (limited only by my own safety considerations).  If you don't have a Blogger id you can just click on anonymous.

2628 Sex in the 60s, and the relief of death

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.
-- South Park --


On Hoda & Kathie Lee this morning, a woman was talking about menopause, what happens and why. She mentioned that women in their 60s and 70s report that sex is better, that they're having the best sex in their lives.

My immediate thought was "Hmmm. Yes. But I thought it was him, The Man, that he was doing it so well. Hey, maybe it's me!"

My second thought was that again, this is a self-selected sample.  The only ones who would report are those who are having sex, and they would be the ones who always liked it anyway.  Women in their 60s and 70s who don't like sex have long ago figured out how to avoid it, and menopause is the perfect excuse. 

My third thought was that women get shafted again.  For those of us who like and want it, it's better, it's wonderful, our libido is ramped up, but where are the capable men?  How does one go about finding a compatible man who can keep up with us and not leave us hanging?

Younger men, and their staying power.  That's the solution.  I lucked out in finding The Man, but (those red flags again**) I don't think he'll be good for the next decade and a half, and what do I do after I lose patience with him? 



** In The Man's defense, the red flags don't involve sexual infidelity, believe it or not.  That's the one thing I am not at all worried about.  The flags have more to do with attention, interests, propinquity, intimacy, keeping secrets, differing values, a resistance to sharing lives, and on and on.  Things that at my age perhaps shouldn't matter so much, but I guess they still do.

On the other hand, if I were involved with a man who lived close, whom I saw a few times a week, who wanted me involved in his life and wanted to be involved in mine, who dragged me to family functions, who shared his problems with me, who wanted to advise and direct me, who MEDDLED!, I probably wouldn't be happy either.  I'd feel trapped and smothered.  I'd want some distance, some independence.

So.  Damn.


I observed to a relative recently, when her daughter's diabetic cat died while in her care, that sometimes when someone we love, or a pet, is old and ill and caring for them has become a burden, when they die we may mourn them, but we are also relieved.

I didn't realize how much that was a part of my crash after Jay died.

People have asked me, if he were still alive, would we still be together, and I've always answered yes.  That's true whether he were healthy, or left ravaged by the brain cancer.  At the time he died, he was hemiparalyzed, unable to stand, sit, move himself or feed himself, incontinent, blind, sleeping no more than an hour at a time, and with absolutely no short-term memory.  But I still loved him, and if we had been able to stop the brain cancer and control all the other potentially fatal conditions he was prone to, even if he was left in that condition for decades, I'd have stayed with him and cared for him.

When he died, I was relieved.  I realize and accept that now. 

I didn't realize it then, because I mourned the loss of him in my life and all of what could have and should have been.  That was on top.  Underneath was the relief, and I think the inability to accept that feeling contributed to the multi-year depression that followed.

I think he was relieved, too.  So it's ok.

Monday, October 19, 2009

2627 Movie Recommendation

Monday, October 19, 2009

It matters not what you call me,
but what I answer to.
-- African Proverb--


I watched a wonderful little movie on DVD this afternoon, a 1997 Iranian movie about a brother and sister, and shoes.  "Children of Heaven" is the title (but there must be something lost in translation, because I don't "get" the title).  It's in Farsi with English subtitles.

The brother accidentally loses the sister's shoes.  They know their family is too poor to buy her another pair.  Luckily, girls have school in the morning, and boys in the afternoon, so they decide to keep the loss a secret, and arrange to share his shoes.  And then things get complicated.  Very complicated.

There are various synopses and reviews online, but none of them even mention some of the most charming parts.  It won several international awards, and was nominated for an Academy Award for best international film in 1999.

Rent it, or buy it from Amazon (cheap!), or watch it for free online in two parts at, Part 1
and, Part 2.

The latter option, although free and safe, is not the best - it's not as sharp an image.  Note - at the end, when we see the father's laden bike, notice what's tucked in the back.  If you watch it online, you'll have to be ready for it and look carefully.  It's a small glimpse.

2626 On flu vaccine effectiveness

Monday, October 19, 2009

"There is no necessary connection between the desire to lead
and the ability to lead....
Leadership is more likely to be assumed by the aggressive than by the able
and those who scramble to the top are more often motivated
by their own inner torments
than by any demand for their guidance."
(?)Evans, in a letter to the Kingston Daily Freeman


The Atlantic Monthly has a very good article on the effectiveness of flu vaccines, "Does the Vaccine Matter", at  It goes into how hope and belief can stifle scientific verification.  One researcher makes the same argument on statistics that I made in this post, that the numbers can't be trusted because the participants are self-selected.

The article is long, but it's full of meat, makes a lot of good points, and gives you things to think about.  It's well worth taking the time to read.

By the way, although some researchers are skeptical about the effectiveness of the vaccine in reducing the spread of flu and fatalities in the general population, even the skeptics agree that it is effective in children and health care workers.  That news might disappoint some readers.

Read the article to find out why they say that.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

2625 Two dinners and a movie

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Me: "Freedom" is the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action. "License" is a freedom that is used with or allows irresponsibility, or disregard for rules of personal conduct. Too many people confuse the two.


Dinner Friday evening was at a highly-rated barbecue restaurant (Giffy's) in Clifton Park, near Albany.  I love barbecue.  I love a sweet and tangy sauce.  I love ribs, chicken, pulled pork.  So I got the sampler platter with all three.

I was disappointed.  Either there's something wrong with my mouth, or there was no flavor in either the meat or the sauce.  The sauce could have been water.

I do recommend their cornbread, though.  Funny that the website doesn't tout it.  It's light and fluffy, moist, sweet, and buttery.  If you try it, don't put butter on it.  It's best eaten like cake.

Half of the dinner came home with me, so I'll have another chance to taste.

Yesterday was the dog walk, dinner, and movie with a 40s-plus singles' outdoors interest group in Newburgh.  We were eleven women and four men at dinner.  Doesn't bother me, because I'm more interested in conversation than flirting (although if something were to develop it would be interesting), but it just strikes me as odd that more men wouldn't be interested in the usual odds in most of the Meetup interest groups.

We went to a Longhorn restaurant near Newburgh, where I highly recommend the service and the roasted vegetable salad.  Again, half the fillet and potato have come home with me.  I'm set for lunches for the next three days.

The movie was "Against the Current", at a tiny arts theater on the Newburgh waterfront.  It had been filmed on the Hudson River, mostly on the stretch between Newburgh and West Point, and the creator was there to answer questions after the viewing. The story was about a young man whose pregnant wife had been killed in an accident.  He had contemplated suicide and had been talked out of it by his best friend, who extracted a promise that he'd give it five years, then decide.  The five-year anniversary is coming up, and the young man decides he wants to swim the length of the Hudson River, from Troy to the Verrazano Bridge, to mark the anniversary, THEN commit suicide.  The movie is that swim, with the friend and a young woman accompanying in a small boat.  Mary Tyler Moore has a cameo as the girl's mother, whom they visit on the trip.  Her character is beautifully defined by the way she asks "And what do your people do?" as if all families are dynasties, with hereditary professions.

Of course this audience, in contrast with the various film festival audiences, recognized the locales featured in the film, and we knew it wasn't where it was "supposed" to be.  The sequence of river views was out of order, for example, and although the girl's mother was supposed to live in Rhinebeck, we were fully aware the drive to the house showed actually the Millbrook area.  Worse, Millbrook is nowhere near the river.  (MTM, in real life, lives near Millbrook.)

In the Q&A period, most people asked questions about where the story came from (his head), why the weather was so unrelentingly gloomy when it was supposed to be August (they filmed in eight days, and it just happened to be rainy and gloomy that whole week), and so on.

There were a few people in the audience who were determined to demonstrate how deep they were, who commented on how interesting it was that blah blah portended blah blah (that need to demonstrate understanding beyond the norm - shades of the dreaded Mensan audience!), and the creator just shrugged and said, "No meaning.  That just sorta happened", and that didn't stop them, they kept right on trying to find hidden meaning.  They amused me as much as wine snobs do.  As The Man says, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Today, maybe some laundry.  Maybe moving things to the basement.  Maybe some sewing.  Maybe not.  It's 39 degrees outside, at 1:15 PM.  Disgusting.  I just want to crawl back into bed.