Saturday, December 12, 2009

2694 Falling into dispair/disrepair.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bad decisions make good stories.


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

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

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

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

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

My normal tone would have been much more commanding.

I immediately wondered why I did that.

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

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


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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

Is anyone else seeing this? Any explanation?

2693 Lessons Learned

Saturday, December 12, 2009

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

2692 I am saved

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

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


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

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

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

2691 The Mensan, The Myth, The Marketing

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Old French Proverb: Perfect is the enemy of good.


This communication was posted to a Mensa Yahoo group:

Dear Google:
Posted by:
Tue Dec 8, 2009 6:59 pm (PST)

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

Socially awkward tees - www.CottonFactory. com

Knock it off.
(true story)

2690 Observations from a frustrated mind

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

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


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

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

We don't have that.

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

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


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

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


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

2689 Stupid freakin' razzelfrats!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

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


I am so angry I could spit.

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

2688 Miss not

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A family is only as sick as its secrets.


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

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

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

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

I really don't know.

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


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

2687 The Invisible Man

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

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


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

See more at, plus his reasons for doing this.