Saturday, December 19, 2009

2707 Avatar; Housewarming

Saturday, December 19, 2009

When Jesus said to love your enemies,
he probably meant don’t kill them.


Avatar (last night) was terrific! I do recommend that everyone see it, BUT you must see it in 3-D.

The first few minutes are story setup, then we get to see the planet. The middle of the movie is exploring the planet, the forests, the floating mountains, the animals, the people. It's all incredibly beautiful. Phosphorescent. The seeds from the sacred tree look like a cross between dandelion seeds and jellyfish, and act like butterflies. The "horses" look like a dream of what a horse should look like, without looking like a horse at all.

The last third of the movie is ruined by the army, but I guess that's to appease the males in the audience. Very destructive. Makes one angry.

This is not a spoiler, just something I noticed: The science lady made a big deal about how the trees' roots are "neurally" connected, and communicate, and how everything is interconnected. So when the bulldozers and flamethrowers start, I fully expected that the trees would fight back. I expected to see the trees reach up and bat the helicopters out of the sky, and was disappointed when something different happened. I mentioned that to the group at dinner after the movie, and everybody blinked twice and said yeah, now that I've mentioned it, yeah....

Battling trees would have been so much neater - it would say to the invaders, "the entire planet is against you, it will do you no good to come back, you cannot win." As it is, they've left it open for a re-invasion sequel, so I wouldn't be surprised if trees weren't the perfect first plan, but it got changed when someone said, "hey, we may have a franchise here".

Of all the movies I've seen in the past year, this is the only one I want to see again, because of the beauty of the luminous forest. See it if you have the chance, but it MUST be in 3-D. Otherwise, flat, it's just an ok story.


This afternoon was a housewarming for Roman. Some people (particularly the ones coming from Massachusetts, western NY, and Albany) canceled because of the predicted snow, but we had 16 people, so it was pretty good. Roman's new townhouse is beautiful. His master bath is amazing, with both a 2-person jacuzzi and a huge shower.

I am exhausted. I made BLT soup this morning. I figured it would take me an hour to dice, shred, and grate the bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, pepper, and nutmeg for a double batch and get it all mixed together. Instead, it took almost three hours. Then when I got to Roman's, FW was making wassail, and she apparently didn't know how to whip egg whites (6 eggs) to stiff peaks, so I did that, with a fork. Yeouch. And I washed dishes as they were used in preparations. And then I washed dishes at cleanup, so people could take their things home. My hands are so dry they itch.

But, it's been a satisfying two days. And I'll be joining two of the Albany guys for bar trivia some Tuesday soon.

Something I noticed - it's better to have too few chairs than too many. Roman had a huge sectional sofa, some side chairs, and the chairs from his kitchen set in the living room, and so everyone SAT, in a big circle! (This is a Mensa bunch - I suppose if they all couldn't sit, they'd complain.) But that meant very little circulation, little opportunity for one-on-one. One of the Albany guys and I sort of flirted a little across the room, but so little it wasn't worth the attention that actually getting up and talking to each other would have drawn.

Especially if a certain gossip had intimated that Roman and I used to date. Awkward?

Friday, December 18, 2009

2706 "X"

"The great enemy of the truth is very often
not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest --
but the myth -- persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."
-- John F. Kennedy --



You know it's cold outside when you come into the house, get a package out of the freezer, and it feels warm.


Singer Christine Mercado has changed her first name to "Xtine". People sometimes use "X" to stand for "Christ", as in "Xmas". Others will do it just to annoy purists. But most at least do it correctly. She screwed it up. The "t" is part of "Christ", so it should be "Xine". Yeah, I'm a purist, too, but she gets a laugh and a snort rather than a rise out of me.

Lesson for the day - Quoting from IS GOD AGAINST CHRISTMAS, by Raymond L. Cox:

"...the X in Xmas did not originate as our English alphabet's X but as the symbol X in the Greek alphabet, called Chi, with a hard ch. The Greek Chi or X is the first letter in the Greek word Christos. Eric G. Gration claims that as early as the first century the X was used as Christ's initial. Certainly through church history we can trace this usage. In many manuscripts of the New Testament, X abbreviates Christos (Xristos). In ancient Christian art X and XR (Chi Ro—the first two letters in Greek of Christos abbreviate his name. We find that this practice entered the Old English language as early as AD 100. Moreover, Wycliff and other devout believers used X as an abbreviation for Christ. Were they trying to take Christ away and substitute an unknown quantity? The idea is preposterous.

Some may use Xmas today as an unchristian shortcut for Christmas, but the ancient abbreviation by no means originated as such. The scribes who copied New Testament manuscripts had no intention of taking Christ out of the New Testament. They used the abbreviation simply to save time and space. We use abbreviations for the same purpose today, as witness FDR, HST, JFK, LBJ, and a host of others. Xmas is a legitimate abbreviation."

I'm going to see "Avatar" in 3-D tonight in Albany. I'm going not so much for the story (not my favorite genre) as for the 3-D. The last 3-D movie I saw was in probably the '50s, in black and white with blue and red cellophane glasses, and a stupid storyline involving as many flying rocks and thrown chairs as could be crammed in. I want to see what it's like now.

2705 A lot of cold and a little warm

Friday, December 18, 2009

"Actually, I never said that."
-- God --


It's 8:30 am, and it's 8 degrees F outside. We might get a few feet of snow this weekend.

I hate winter.

Last week I went shopping online and bought some nylon/lycra and some cotton/lycra footless capri-length dance tights, which I am wearing under my slacks and skirts. Best idea ever (short of moving south!)


Daughter sent me this; I hope you can see/hear it. It's super personalized, from her to me.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

2704 Worried about Jasper

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A church is not a museum for saints - it's a hospital for sinners.
-- Abigail VanBuren --


Jasper is missing.

I went shopping last night. Among other things, I bought I bought a bag of dry cat food, two cans of moist, a catnip toy, and one of those ball-in-a-ring toys for Jasper. I got home about 9:30, put the plastic bag containing the smaller of those items on the floor in the kitchen, took out the bag of dry food, and put the ring on the floor for Jasper to explore.

He's a bit timid - relic of his early feral days - so I batted the ball around and made cooing sounds. He'd creep up to it, pat at the ball, then run to hide on the other side of the kitchen island.

I was standing on the other side of the island from the bag on the floor, so I don't know what happened, but after batting at the ball he ran around the island to where the bag was, I heard a crash, and then I heard him tear through the door to the foyer. When I went to see what had happened, I found the catnip toy and one can of food on the floor. The bag and the other can of food are missing.

So is Jasper. I walked around calling him last night, but when he didn't respond I figured he was frightened and hiding, so I'd just let him cool off. I haven't seen him since. It's now 11:30 am.

I put food in his dish last night, but he hasn't touched it. This morning, when I realized he hadn't jumped on my legs overnight, I looked for him. I've looked everywhere, for the past three hours, and called, and nothing.

I'm worried that he may have gotten his head through the handle loop on the bag, and has it wrapped around his neck.

I'm frightened.


Now it's 11:40. I found him. He's ok.

I started with the back of the house and searched again, every inch. He usually hides in the basement stairwell, or the back bedroom, or under the cedar chest in the hall. He never goes under my bed, because there's no space under my bed. It's low, and there are stacks of framed prints and plastic containers of dross under there, packed solid. But I had committed to "every inch", so I pulled containers out, swept the flashlight around, and there he was. No bag - don't know where that is.

He came out for me, and I held him and scratched his neck, but he was tense, and when I carried him into the kitchen to show him the new food, he panicked.

He's hiding again now. I don't know where.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2703 Reversing the message

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Nerds make the best lovers.
They are intelligent, honest, faithful,
and best of all,
-- Silk --



This is interesting, short, and worth watching.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

2702 Judge lays down the law

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Washington DC is the city of southern efficiency
and northern hospitality.


This is so cool. Minnesota federal bankruptcy judge Robert Kressel has had it with lawyers who torture the language in orders, so he has written guidelines (warning - PDF) for lawyers appearing before him. They are short, sweet, to the point, and funny when you consider what he's warning against.

2701 Digital discovery

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why aren't southern schools teaching the difference between
"when" and "whenever"?
"Ever" and "every"?
How do people understand each other?


I have an antenna on the roof. It has a rotor. Back when TV was analog, sometimes when the wind blew it would turn the antenna off true, and I'd have to adjust the rotation to get a clear signal back. It's set up for the Albany area channels, but you could turn it 100 degrees and get NYC channels.

We've had some strong wind lately, and one of my digital channels from Schenectady has been breaking up and showing the "low signal" message. So I figured the antenna needed adjusting.

Surprise! I can turn it every which way, and there's no difference to any channel! Does this mean digital signals aren't directional or something? And if that's so, how come I'm not getting the NYC channels?

(I suspect the problem with the Schnectady channel has to do with thick cloud cover and a weak originating signal. I have noticed it happens when there's rain or snow clouds.)

2700 Grrrrr...............

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Howard A. Brown, letter to US News & World Reports, 12/27/99, paraphrased:
"It's easier to make a smart gun than a smart person."



On the news today, big recall for roman and rollup blinds, because children get their necks caught in the cords. This has got to cost the manufacturers and retailers gazillions of dollars, and no one will be able to buy them any more. Stuff like this royally pisses me off.

Hey, folks, you don't put the baby's crib right next to the cords! You loop up cords everywhere in the house. You take the blinds down for a few years if you have to. You babyproof. You watch the kid when they're wandering, and if you let them wander alone in a fully babyproofed house, you put bells on their shoes, and check when the bells go quiet.

If you're incapable of that, you shouldn't be breeding anyway. And if your child was injured, take some personal responsibility!

Next thing you know, somebody's going to insist that all electrical outlets must be five feet above the floor. Oh, no, maybe not - there's no clear defendant to sue for that....

Monday, December 14, 2009

2699 Bureaucracy

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's impossible to learn what you think you already know.



Bureaucrats are driving me crazy.
  • There's an uncashed check for Jay being held by the state of New York. I filled out the form to claim it, checking the "deceased" block, and signing it as widow, sole heir, and executor of his estate. I got another form back from them. They want Jay's signature on the form. (Um, he's dead - that's what deceased means.) Also proof that he'd done business with the company that issued the check. (Would the company have written him a check if he'd not done business with them?) New York just wants to keep my $350.
  • The lab that processes my blood tests has double-billed my insurance company for at least two procedures on two separate dates. The insurance company paid both the original bills and the duplicates, and sent me the information on my copay on the duplicates (which I'd already paid the first time it was billed). The lab did not send me a duplicate bill. Odd.
  • The lab sent me three checks, for like $1.34, $2.17, and $.72, marked as refunds for overpayment. There's no indication which invoices I am supposed to have overpaid. I never overpaid.
  • The lab has sent overdue notices for two invoices. The notices do not say which invoices are overdue, either by service date or invoice number, and the amounts due do not match any already paid invoices. I have no outstanding bills from them, and no procedures that are missing bills.
  • The lab does not provide a phone number, and I know from experience that they don't read letters.
  • My bank "deactivated" one of my three accounts because there had been no activity on it in ages. They had also been debiting the account $1 a month as a "low balance fee" (which when you think about it, is ridiculously self-defeating) until I discovered it and added some money to bring it up to the required level. Three months later, they started debiting $3 a month as an "inactivity fee" up until they deactivated it. So I went to the bank today, and pointed out that 1) they should have notified me before deactivation, and 2) that monthly fee should constitute "activity", shouldn't it? So now it's reactivated, and I am going to go online and set up two automatic transfers, to transfer in $1 once a month, and transfer out $1 a few days later, which they assure me will constitute "activity". Which is stupid.
  • The above had nothing to do with my inability to get any money from the ATM on Saturday. They told me it was a system problem. I pointed out that the guy behind me in line didn't have a problem, and they said the system resets itself every 15 minutes, so I should have just tried again.
  • "Try again" isn't that easy. Because there was a car behind me, I'd have to exit to let him out. The entrance is to the left. A left turn out of there is near impossible before 11 pm, so I'd have to "go around the block", which in a village is a meandering 3/4 mile or so. I don't know who plans positions of exits and entrances, but they're nuts.
Is it me, or is the world going crazy?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

2698 Random quotes

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Don't worry about people stealing your idea.
If it's original, you'll have to ram it down their throats.
-- Howard Aiken --


People have remarked that the green quote starting every post is "supposed to be random", but for a while there, they seemed to have eerie application to the posts.

Well, they are random. Really. I have a document full of quotes I'd gathered over the years, and every so often I create 15 or 20 draft posts, containing only the sequence number in the title, and the quote copied and pasted in order from the document. Then as I am moved to post something, I just open the next draft, fill in the title and text, and post it.

The only time it's not strictly random is when I notice that the quote does come uncomfortably close to applying to the post topic, and then I might select a different draft and change the sequence numbers. That's rare.


I lied earlier today. I said I wasn't going to visit Daughter. Actually, I intended to, but I didn't want her to know, and she might have read here, so I lied. My intent was to just show up at 5 pm with take-out Thai or Chinese food. That way, if she didn't know I was coming, she wouldn't fuss about cleaning up, or making up a bed for me, or providing dinner, and she'd get some needed rest.

So at 2 pm, my planned departure time, I opened the front door, and swore loud enough to scare Jasper. There was 2 inches of slush out there, with freezing rain falling. Where the heck did that come from!?

So I didn't go.

2697 Cute therapy

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It always amazes me to think that every house
on every street
is full of so many stories, so many triumphs and tragedies,
and all we see are yards and driveways.
-- Glenn Close --


All baby mammals play. I've watched bunnies in the front yard playing leap frog, lining up and leaping over each other in line, in turn. The calves down the road in the spring play tag, and what looks for all the world like red-light green-light.

This is an elk calf who found a puddle, and it's so cute I bet you'll watch it over and over, especially when work or winter is getting you down:


The first copy I found was removed from YouTube for some kind of violation, but there are several copies out there, so if this one gets removed, try one of these:
And if they don't work, just search for elk calf in YouTube.

2696 A rescheduled life.

Sunday, November 13, 2009

"Dry clean only" means it will make it through the washer and dryer,
or it won't,
and I'll soon find out which.


I was supposed to go with a meetup group to NYC to look at the tree and store displays and all on Saturday the 5th, but it rained/sleeted all day, so the group rescheduled to Saturday the 19th. However, I have a commitment that day, so I decided to go to NYC on my own. It was supposed to be yesterday. But Friday Daughter called, she wants me to visit ("I want my mommy!"), and comparing calendars we decided today into tomorrow was the best time. That meant I had to move everything I needed to do today into Saturday, so I didn't go to NYC yesterday.

Daughter called this morning. She was sick last night and is still rocky today. She's still willing to have me down, just felt she should warn me, but I know she'll feel she has to "entertain" and feed me, and I'd rather she just nested until she feels better (I know from experience that when she tries to bull through illness it goes into her chest and she's sick for weeks), so I'm not going.

We'll compare calendars again, and pick some time.

Maybe I'll go to NYC sometime during the week. The only problem is that after 9/11 a lot of city folk moved up here, and parking at the train station during the week is very tight if you don't have a commuter permit. Oh well. I can always turn around and go home if I don't find a spot.


Anybody know how long after Christmas the stores maintain the window displays?

2695 Proud of public idiocy?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Can we all just agree to ignore Blue Ray?
I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.



I always thought there were no stupid questions if the asker doesn't know the answer. Then I came across this question on one of those "ask/answer" sites: "If the Earth is really millions of years old, then why does history go back only a few thousand years? Do you think people simply forgot what happened during those millions of years? Or maybe they didn't think it was important until a few thousand years ago?"

He got no answers, so then he gloated that he had stumped everyone again.

I guess the old saw is right - there are no stupid questions, just stupid people.