Wednesday, December 29, 2010

3216 It's all me

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Computers make it easier to do a lot of things,
but most of the things they make it easier to do
don't need to be done."
-- Andy Rooney --


When I was in therapy in my 30's, Dr. K. said I had (among other things) an omnipotence problem - that I thought that when anything went wrong, anywhere, it was entirely my fault. It was difficult for him to convince me otherwise, because I had so much evidence. There was too much connection for it to all be coincidence. Besides, everyone always blamed me.

I moved down here, hoping for less snow.

Sunday was the first snow of the winter. It was the worst snowstorm in this area in decades.

I am sitting here feeling that it's all my fault.


I have the antenna booster, one upstairs and one down, and I'm getting about 40 over-the-air TV channels out of NYC, but there's next to nothing worth watching in the evenings now that this season of "Survivor" and "The Amazing Race" are finished. There's nothing but chintzy talk shows, celebrity gossip shows, and ancient reruns of once-decent shows. It's way worse than the Schenectady schedule that I got at the old house.

That, plus the house getting colder in the evenings, has been sending me to bed by 9 every night, where I've been watching "My Name is Earl" DVDs. I'm working my way through the whole four sets. I love that show! It's 180 degrees off "Big Bang Theory", which I also loved. (Loved, because like all situation comedies, it's starting to repeat itself.)

"Jude the Obscure" is on the night table next to the bed, and I have promised myself I won't get into any other book until I finish that, but I just can't stay awake reading it. I pick it up, read a page and a half, and either fall asleep or think of something else to do, like tape another room for painting. I think I'm avoiding it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

3215 Shorthand alerts

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

“All wish to possess knowledge, but few, comparatively speaking, are willing to pay the price.”
-- Roman poet Juvenal --


"Mom" means I'm about to be given information, or lectured on some failing of mine.

"Mommy" means I'm on low-level duty.

"MommyMommyMommy" means I'm to swing into full mommyhood and be very supportive.

It's nice to get the alerts. Makes it easier to change to the appropriate mode.

Monday, December 27, 2010

3214 Fun

Monday, December 27, 2010

“Our virtues are most frequently but vices disguised.”
-- Roman poet Juvenal --


Me, wielding a snow shovel in 30 mph gusts.

A skateboard with a sail.

Not a lot of difference.

3213 Drifting Snow

Monday, December 27, 2010

Of all the people in history that have reached 65 years of age,
half of them are living right now.
-- --


I think the snow has stopped falling. Can't tell because the wind is so strong and the air is full of snow.

The north side of my house is a windbreak, so the snow has drifted funny. One-third of my driveway is clear - I can see the blacktop - but the other two-thirds has a three-foot drift. The patio slab in the back is clear, but then the snow is again several feet deep beyond the patio.

I don't think there's much point in trying to clear the snow until the wind calms down.

The front porch, from the front door:

The patio slab, through the back sliding glass door:

Bonus photo, to counteract the effects of the above photos - Housewarming/birthday flowers I got in late October from a male admirer:

I feel sorry for people who have to go to work today. The roads aren't clear, and the trains and buses aren't running. There are people who have been sitting for hours on stuck subway trains. There's a "snow emergency" of course, where only emergency driving is allowed, but I remember that when I worked for The Company, there was no such thing as snow emergencies. You were expected to be in the office no matter what. If you decided not to go in, you had to use a vacation or personal business day.

Some people can't afford that luxury.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

3212 Snow, Curry, ATM, etc.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Faith means not wanting to know what is true."
-- Friedrich Nietzsche --


I shoveled my driveway and the kid's driveway about an hour ago. There was about five inches on the ground, and it was fairly easy to push to the sides with the plastic plowing shovel. My plan was to shovel about every five inches or so, and that way I'd avoid deep heavy lifting.

Yeah. Sure. I just looked out the door, and there's another five already, and the wind is blowing it so hard I can't see across the street. I think maybe there's no point in clearing now. It'll all just blow back. 12-18" predicted.


Some people can't eat or drink certain things without it coming out on their skin. Ex#2 insisted on drinking scotch (in college, scotch was cool, and he never managed to get past that), and after drinking scotch he literally stank for two days. Jay got an odd odor if he overindulged in diet Coke. I can't drink wine for the same reason. Certain spices make my facial oils smell strong.

Well, a few days ago some doctor show on TV was talking about various spices and their beneficial effects on body processes. They said curry contained spices with several good effects on the immune system, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc., and recommended sprinkling it on everything, like salt and pepper. So I thought I'd try it.

It IS good. I like it on yams, potatoes, meat, salad, in sandwiches. But I can't stand the smell of my face. Or urine. Or "bubbles". Jasper even left the bed last night. Tsk.


Back on 6/16/09 I mentioned in this journal that I'd had bad numbers on my bone density test, and that the doctor had recommended a different calcium supplement. I decided (I, not the doctor) that it was the Prilosec. I'd been taking it daily for years, and it's my theory that the reduction in stomach acid was interfering with breaking down the calcium. So I quit taking the Prilosec. It turned out I didn't seem to need it anymore, probably because I'd lost weight and changed my diet.

In a 12/3/10 post I predicted class action suits, people who had been taking an acid inhibitor and ended up with broken legs and hips.

Well, guess what? In the past few days there have been multiple news stories about "the connection between broken hips and Nexium, Prilosec, and other acid inhibitors." Nothing yet about lawsuits, but I'm taking bets....

No kidding.


All my operating money is still in the Credit Union up by the old house. They had told me that I could use any NYCE ATM in this area to get cash with no charge. I went online and looked for NYCE ATMs near here. One was at a Bank of America just down from the post office. Note- it's the only BOA in the area.

I went there Friday to get some cash.

First off, there was no "going into the bank". They had a drive-up window, and a walk-up on the other side where you had to stand in the wind and push things through a sliding drawer and talk into a microphone to a person behind bullet-proof glass. What? Are they afraid of bank robbers or something?

So I went to the drive-up ATM, and got $200 out, and they charged me $3 for the transaction! What? If I have a NYCE card, and it's a NYCE ATM, what happened to "free"?

Imma haffta call someone.

3211 Snow, Paint, Drafts, etc.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence
without civilization in between."
-- Oscar Wilde --


It's snowing. The prediction is 10 to 16 inches, with 30-50 mph wind gusts. I went early this morning to Home Depot to buy show snovels (that's not a typo - that's how I say it. I've never been able to say "show snovel". Oops. See? I can say each word separately, but not together.) I bought a lightweight metal one for lifting and throwing snow, and a heavier plastic one for pushing and plowing snow. I also bought 40 pounds of "pet friendly" ice killer. The driveway slopes precipitously and I can just see Hal sliding out of the garage, down the drive, and right into the cars parked across the street. Oops.

I'm starting to love the local Home Depot. There are plenty of orange-vested folks in the aisles, and they are always more than willing to help. I've never spent more than a few seconds being confused or lost. This morning they were bringing out flat after flat of shovels and salt, and handing them out right off the flats, and directing heavy customer traffic efficiently into and out of the seasonal aisle. A guy even went out with me to help get the bags of ice killer and shovels into my car, and was a bit startled that two show snovels barely fit into Hal's back seat. Hal isn't very wide. We had to wiggle the shovels around and angle them upward.

Daughter and Hercules went to Pennsylvania on Friday and won't be home until tomorrow or Tuesday, so I'm in charge of their cats, and, I guess, making sure they can get into the driveway when they get home. The neighbors have told me that I don't have to worry about anything - everybody digs everybody else out.


I painted most of the downstairs hall and one wall in the kitchen Friday and yesterday. I love the paint. It's Behr Premium Plus "Silky Bamboo" UL180-15. On the card it looks like a pale heavy cream, but on the walls it changes dramatically depending on the light. In the morning, in the kitchen, where the daylight hits it's a cream with a yellow tone, and on the same wall at the other end, where the light isn't direct, it morphs into a rosy peach sand. In the evening, that wall gets a faint greenish tone. The hall walls range from sunny yellow to rosy peach sand. It also changes depending on whether you're looking directly at it, or at an angle. I love it!

The plan was to first paint walls where heavy furniture would be going, so in theory the kitchen and halls would be last. But I have a huge desk with credenza arriving in the next week or two, and it will go along that long wall in the kitchen.

The desk in the old house is an enormous wooden manager's desk from The Company, purchased by Jay at an employee surplus sale perhaps twenty-five years ago. It's very nice, but it's huge, and provides relatively little storage for the amount of floor space it takes up. Not to mention the weight. So it won't be moving down here. I found the new desk online, and I just so happen to have several bookcases that (I hope) will match it perfectly.


While standing on the ladder taping the hall yesterday, I noticed the smoke detector just above my head. The center button said "Hold to test / Press to quiet" or something like that. Considering the way everything else in the house was installed, I figured it might be a good idea to test it.

Man! It works! In spades! Every detector in the house went off (and there are many), some screeched, some whooped, some wailed, and a woman's voice upstairs yelled "Fire! Fire!" I couldn't get them to shut up. I kept pressing the button, and they just kept going. They finally quit. If I ever decide to get a burglar alarm, to heck with hooking it up to "central". I'll just have them wire it into the smoke alarm.

(Daughter said not to bother with a burglar alarm system. Back in her electrician days, she worked for an alarm system company. She says they are very easy to circumvent, they won't even slow down anyone who knows what they're doing, and even if they go off, the security people are too late to save anything anyway.)


I have cut down the drafts and heat loss in the house considerably with a cheap, simple, safe, quick fix. I put strips of painting tape over all the unused electrical sockets on outside walls. Pow. It's ugly as sin, but it works.

I also found out why The Man thought the house was warm. On the floor, the thermometer registers 66 degrees. At counter height, it says 73. At the top of my tall stepladder, it says 75. The Man is more than a foot taller than I. No damn wonder he was warm while I was cold.

The old house had cathedral ceilings in the kitchen, dining room, and living room. The house was fairly tight, but I long ago discovered I needed a fan on the floor aimed up in the winter to circulate the heat down from the ceiling. Next trip to a department store, I'll try to find a small fan for here.


Well, the snow is starting to build up. I plan to shovel every three inches or so, try to keep ahead of it, so excuse me while I go eat some ice cream to keep my strength up.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

3210 Magnetic Fluid Christmas Tree

Saturday, December 25, 2010

“No one ever became extremely wicked suddenly.”
-- Roman poet Juvenal --


This is beautiful:

If you're wondering how it's done, these clips explain it:


Friday, December 24, 2010

3209 The social contract is breaking down.

Friday, December 24, 2010

“Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another.”
-- Roman poet Juvenal --


Anyone who owns a TV has seen the video clip of the guy falling during a performance of the Spiderman Broadway play - over and over and over. Not once has anyone mentioned that the video shouldn't exist.

It was filmed by a guy in the audience, with a cell phone, I believe.

Every ticket, every receipt, posters as you enter, all say that no still, audio, or video recording is allowed. Period. They are very definite about it, always. When I went to the BNL concert, I purposely left my camera home. (My cell phone will take photos, but I don't think I can get them off the phone, so there's no point.) I know that in some venues in the past, they used to take cameras away from you.

At the BNL concert, not only was every fifth person taping the show, there was one very annoying guy standing throughout the show with his belly pressed against the apron and his camera (a bright distracting spot) held at forehead level. He was obvious to everyone, even the guys on the stage, and yet no one said boo. ...And I had left my camera at home.

So why do they say "not allowed", and then allow it?

Are we really allowed to do anything we want, regardless of the rules?

It's beginning to look like the answer is "Yes".


I used to obey speed limits strictly, but the past few years, doing the speed limit on the highways will get you run over, cut off, and flipped off. I have been pretty much forced to go as fast as the rest of the traffic, and I don't like it.

But I stopped feeling guilty about it when I heard two different state cops say that they are suspicious of drivers doing the speed limit. They wonder what they're hiding, and figure that's enough cause to pull them over.

Think about that. We've gone from "speeding is cause for arrest" to "obeying the law is cause for arrest". "No recording allowed, unless you happen to feel like it". "The intellectual and physical product of others is yours free if you can figure out a way to download it free."

Where are we headed with all this? At what point between "follow the rules" and "your car is mine if I can hotwire it" is the line drawn?

3208 Christmas card

Friday, December 24, 2010

“Censure acquits the raven, but pursues the dove.”
-- Roman poet Juvenal --


This is from the Vancouver Aquarium. I hope they won't mind my using it as my Christmas card.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

3207 Wandering around the interwebs

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

“It is not easy for men to rise whose qualities are thwarted by poverty.”
-- Roman poet Juvenal --


The above green quote was true a few thousand years ago, and it's true today. We like to think that anyone with ambition and drive can succeed, but it's not necessarily true. You need luck, too. When you start out with responsibilities (aging or ill parents, dependent siblings --- they don't have to be "your choice or fault") you often have to take the one, two, or three concurrent jobs that pay enough to support them. And those jobs don't usually allow time for luxuries like education, training, interviews, or time to develop your own business, and don't pay enough to do anything but those jobs. Sometimes the materials to succeed are luxuries.


This is funny: The cakes are ho-hum, but the writeup, a synopsis of the story, is hilarious. The last line before "The End" cracked me up. (Do not skip ahead.)


This is another that developed in a fascinating way, and the last line cracked me up. Again, do not skip ahead.


A court in Montana couldn't find anyone to sit on a jury for a criminal trial involving possession of a few ounces of non-medical marijuana. Not only was no one impartial, they all said they wouldn't convict, period. Wall Street Journal law blog story ("On the Great Montana Marijuana Mutiny") at


I have been so cold here that I have decided to get my hair cut so that I can wear warm knit or wool hats. Pixiesh. The kind of thing where when I take the hat off I can just fluff it with my fingers. Having made the decision, now I have to work up the courage to go do it.

I've had my hair cut professionally only three times in my life, and all three left me in tears for months afterward. I'm hoping I'm over that kind of reaction now. (Or that hairdressers have gotten better.)

This is sort of what I want, including the longish front, and I think my hair can do it:
My hair is fine and thin (now - in my youth it was thick and curly), and I think maybe it'll work.

The Man won't be happy, but hey, it's not his hair. Besides, he shaves his head. And if Piper says anything at all, I'll smack him.

Monday, December 20, 2010

3206 Thermostat lies

Monday, December 20, 2010

“If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is the significance of a clean desk?"
-- Laurence J. Peter --


I keep saying I'm freezing in this house. The insulation is crap. They didn't insulate around the heat runs that go through exterior walls, so when the heat isn't on, cold air blows out the vents. There's a steady cold draft coming out of every electrical whatchmacallit on an external wall. The walls themselves are cold. The downstairs floor (the slab) is icy.

The thermostat says it's 72 in here.

Today I remembered that I have a Brookstone clock that shows temperature, time, GMT time, and has a timer, depending on which side of the cube is up. I had it sitting on "date & time". I turned it over to temperature. It said 63.

The freakin' thermostat lies!

Some people would be comfortable at 63. I'm not. Keep in mind that I'm also comfortable at 95 degrees, as long as it's not too humid to breathe. Different people have different comfort ranges.

I'm sitting here in a sweater over a turtle neck, with a knit shawl over that, knit pants over lycra pants, socks, and plush-lined ankle boots, and I'm FREEZING! My body is actually shivering, and I've got that heavy feverish feeling. I just can't do cold, especially cold drafts.

My nose and hands are freezing. It's silly to wear a ski mask and gloves in the house. This is like when I visited Ex#2's parents' farmhouse, and got chilblains on my cheeks and shins that cracked open and bled. This is ridiculous. I'm going to have to get someone in to figure out what to do, and do it.

When I'm so cold, I'm not interested in doing any work. I have to work hard to not climb back in bed. I'm almost out of food and cat food, but I have no interest in going out into that cold to get any.

3205 Solstice and lunar eclispe

Monday, December 20, 2010

"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure
and the intelligent are full of doubt."
-- Bertrand Russell --


Exceptional conjunction tonight - solstice, and a full lunar eclipse. The eclipse begins tonight (well, Tuesday morning) at 1:33 am EST ( or Monday, Dec. 20th, at 10:33 pm PST).

Totality commences at 02:41 am EST and lasts for 72 minutes.

[Thanks to Barushka for the alert.]

Sunday, December 19, 2010

3204 Naturally beautiful

Sunday, December 19, 2010

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge."
-- Charles Darwin --


I'll tell you a secret. You can apply pancake makeup, eyebrow pencil, eyeliner, mascara, rouge, eye shadow, false eyelashes, concealer, highlighter, the whole smash, and most heterosexual men won't realize you're wearing makeup as long as you follow three rules:

  1. Never let him see you applying it,
  2. Don't overdo it, and most important, the real secret,
  3. Don't wear lipstick!

Most men define "makeup" as "lipstick". If you don't wear lipstick, he'll think you are naturally beautiful.

I've actually had men tell me they're glad I "never wear makeup". (Huh? When I'm going out, other than like to the store, I most certainly always do.) Questioned, they say, "Well, you don't have any lipstick on."

It wears off, guys....

I had one friend tell me his new girlfriend never wears makeup, and he's so happy about that, "Just like my Mom." And then we met her. Her base was so thick it was all over the neckline of her sweater. Her eyeliner had sweated below her eyes. Her cheeks were clownish. But, she wasn't wearing any lipstick.

3203 I am punished

Sunday, December 19, 2010

"Idleness is not doing nothing. Idleness is being free to do anything."
-- Floyd Dell --


The master bedroom has been sitting 1/3 painted for almost three weeks. I had chosen a powdery grayed lilac, but where three walls met at the end of the room, where I had started painting, the walls facing each other seemed to intensify the color, and it was looking more like violent violet.

I wasn't sure what to do. Continue and hope it cooled over time (the living room softened after three weeks, so why not?), stop and start over with another color, what?

Yesterday late afternoon I decided to finish the room, and I did. The color does look softer on the longer walls, but I'm still not thrilled with it.

By the time I finished I was having trouble standing straight. My back was killing me. But I knew that if I stopped, I'd have to clean all the tools before I could start again today, so I just kept going. Stubborn. I refused to let my back dictate to me.

I went to bed at 10:30 pm, on the firmer, back friendlier mattress in bedroom 2. At about 1 am I woke with my face in a crossword puzzle, and my back and lower abdomen in great pain. It felt like I had to go to the bathroom, both bladder and bowel yelling "Immediately!" I tried, but there was nothing. For the next half-hour it was back and forth from the bed to the bathroom. I couldn't find a comfortable position in the bed. My whole middle hurt so bad, front and back. My bladder and bowel kept screaming NOW! NOW!, but there was nothing. I gave up trying to lie down and I was sitting on the john trying to read a book (sitting was more comfortable than lying anyway) when the nausea hit. For that one, at least, my body wasn't fooling. I threw up my entire late dinner, which is unusual because I'd eaten some five hours before, and I have very fast digestion. There shouldn't have been anything in my stomach.

It was complaining nerves in my spine, of course. I knew that, but it doesn't make it any easier to cope with. The nerve was giving false bladder/bowel full readings, and my stomach was apparently on strike without nerve instructions.

I was lying there wishing I'd brought the heating pad from the old house, and wishing I had some aspirin. Then I remembered I'd bought a small bottle of Excedrin extra strength at a rest area on the last trip. I found it, took two, and within 15 minutes everything was all better.

Next time I know I should take an anti-inflammatory at the first sign of pain.

Yeah, "next time"! I've known that almost all my life, and I still ignore the warnings.


Actually, it's not ignoring or stubbornness, or that male thing of toughing it out. It's just that my mind doesn't work in certain situations, mainly like when I'm not well. When I have pain, it's like my reasoning powers disconnect.

When other people get sick, I always give them what they need. "Here, take this." But me? I can be hacking my throat raw, and it won't occur to me to take a cough suppressant. My head can be throbbing, and I don't think of aspirin. I can be dumping fluids from both ends and it won't occur to me to take anything to slow it down, or to drink more fluids to replace what I'm losing.

The only thing I ever think of for myself is the heating pad. When I'm sick, all I want is my heating pad.

I'm so proud of myself for having thought of aspirin last night.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

3202 Don't give me codeine

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"I'm not sure I want popular opinion on my side -- I've noticed those with the most opinions often have the fewest facts."
-- Bethania McKenstry --


Back in the dawn of time, in my 20s, I had frequent kidney infections. We never knew why, and I haven't had one since, but anyway - the doctors used to give me codeine for the pain. That's what was used back then.

It never worked. Didn't do a damn thing for the pain. And the doctors didn't believe me. They just patted me on the head and said of course it's working. Like they could somehow tell what I was feeling?

In later years, when doctors tried to give me codeine for back pain, I learned to tell them that I couldn't take codeine because it nauseated me horribly (it doesn't). They accepted that, where they wouldn't accept "It doesn't do anything for me" and they'd give me something else.

This morning I accidentally found this on Wikipedia, in the entry for co-proxamol:
...codeine is, in essence, a prodrug that requires in vivo metabolism to the more active opioid morphine for maximum efficacy, it is ineffective for some individuals with the "poor metabolizer" genotype of the liver cytochrome P450 enzyme CYP2D6.
I am vindicated! There's a reason it DOESN'T WORK FOR ME! It's not all in my head.

(I wounder if it's related to the asparagus piddle, cilantro soap, dropped colon, and skunk appreciation genes. I've got all those.)

So now I'm wondering - is it possible that people with fibromyalgia (it's "all in your head", "oh, you're overreacting to ordinary twinges", "you're an attention seeker") actually have one or another defective enzyme, and the pain is actual and real pain signals that would normally be moderated by these enzymes, but aren't, because they're defective? I mean, it's not like the medical community always knows exactly what's going on....

Friday, December 17, 2010

3201 Drying out

Friday, December 17, 2010

"Do not conquer the world with force, for force only causes resistance."
-- Lao-Tse, in the Tao Te Ching --


I've been on a low fat, low sugar, three small meals and three snacks per day diet since visiting the nutritionist in February. I have lost weight, and the body (clothed, anyway) is looking pretty durn good for an old bat.

Back in February the nutritionist remarked that I had very nice facial skin, relatively unlined and unwrinkled for my age.

Well, not any more. I've noticed a network of fine wrinkles, all over my face, but especially on my left cheek where I have some hitherto almost unnoticeable abrasion scars from a 50-year-ago bicycle accident. The fine wrinkles really age me.

I thought it was just age catching up to me, and the loss of fat in my face.

And then I noticed my elbows this morning. I don't much look at my elbows, they're just there, but I was dressing in the second bedroom, and there's a large mirror there, and I caught a side view as I was pulling my sweater on, and I couldn't believe it. I've always had dry scaly elbows. They'll easily get rough and gray, especially in the winter, but I've never seen anything like this. They, especially the right elbow, have actual callous-like patches, hard, almost black, a quarter to half inch across. So thick and dead I could peel them off.

Now I think the facial wrinkling and elbow drying might be from the lack of oils in my diet.

So I spent some time this morning with my elbows in bowls of warm olive oil, and now when I sit at the computer, I have them resting on foam pads rather than on the counter.

The only actual fats I regularly have in the house is olive oil and margarine. A small bottle of olive oil will last me 6 to 8 months, and 1 pound of margarine will last 4 to 6 months. I trim fat off meats, and use low fat or no fat cheeses, milk, yogurt and whatever. The closest I get to full fat is peanut butter, ice cream (sugar-free), dark chocolate, poppy seed salad dressing, and potato chips, all of which are restricted to occasional treats.

I do use a moisturizer on my face and elbows after washing, and lately I've even been using facial pads on my face, not soap, but I guess that's not enough. I take several daily supplements, including 1200mg each of fish oil and lecithin. I guess I should increase them. And maybe add some oils back into my diet.

Olive oil is allowed, right?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

3200 2010 in photos from the folks at

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing,
while others judge us by what we have already done."
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow --


The folks at have gathered 120 photos illustrating 2010, at

I had forgotten some of these events, and others I would have said happened last year or the year before. Remember the Icelandic volcano? It's been an eventful year.

I am happy that my life is boring.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

3199 Bill shock

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

“Christians don’t conform their values and actions to the example of Christ.
They merely use the name of Christ as cover for their prior commitments,
which are locally and historically determined.”
-- Stephen, of [A]mazed and [Be]mused --


I got the first full month's natural gas bill yesterday. I opened it, assumed the fetal position in a corner, and quivered.

Then I realized that the heat is natural gas, and the hot water, and the stove, and the clothes dryer. So maybe when I add together the electric bill and the gas, it won't be so bad. Maybe it will be comparable to the old house's electricity plus fuel oil. I hope. Plus I had been using the dryer heavily - all those blankets, pillows, everything coming from the old house.

I would not have chosen gas for everything. Gas scares me. I'm not used to it. And the fracking thing bothers me. Not that fuel oil is much better environmentally speaking, but at least it doesn't blow up the neighborhood or kill you in your sleep.

3198 Truth in the ramble

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

If you can’t learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.


I suppose everyone has seen the clip of Clay Duke shooting up the school board meeting in Florida. (If you haven't, Google it.) The following is a quote from his Facebook page. I agree with his complaint. It's pretty much true, but we the sheeple don't want to recognize it. We are being manipulated. We are being farmed.

"My Testament: Some people (the government sponsored media) will say I was evil, a monster (V)... no... I was just born poor in a country where the Wealthy manipulate, use, abuse, and economically enslave 95% of the population. Rich Republicans, Rich Democrats... same-same... rich... they take turns fleecing us... our few dollars... pyramiding the wealth for themselves. The 95%... the us, in US of A, are the neo slaves of the Global South. Our Masters, the Wealthy, do, as they like to us..."


Monday, December 13, 2010

3197 English is weird.

Monday, December 13, 2010

If you can remember the 60s, you weren’t really there.


102-year-old Mr. Rondthaler on spelling:


3196 Just go get it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

"Some things have to be believed to be seen."
-- Ralph Hodgson --


If you look around the house, you'd wonder what I've been doing for the past two months. Yeah, I have been taking it easy. The longer I live this minimalist style, the easier it will be to NOT move down a lot of junk that previously seemed to be essential.

But I have (really!) been doing a lot more than it appears. It's just that the tiniest thing seems to take forever.

For example, you see that simple white cotton cafe curtain hanging on a pressure-mounted rod in that window? Wow. A whole 10 minute effort, right?

No. I didn't exactly just reach out my arm, snap my fingers, and the rod and curtain appeared.
  • Measure the windows in that room.
  • Locate the measuring tape.
  • Locate the stepstool.
  • Discover the width at the bottom is different from the width where I want the curtain.
  • Go measure a bunch of windows. Yeah, they're all like that. Stupid builder....
  • Decide I need three sets of 36" long cafes for the one wide and one narrow window.
  • Go online to locate the local Target and other department stores.
  • Go to Home depot for the rods.
  • They have the long one, but not the short one. Buy the long one.
  • Go to Target. It's huge. Wander until I find curtains.
  • They have no pressure rods, and they have only ONE white cafe set. I don't buy it.
  • Go to another store. Also huge. Wander. Find curtains.
  • Also no pressure rods, but they also have ONE cafe set that matches the one at Target. I don't buy it. I need three matching.
  • Wander the highway until I find a third department store. They have a short pressure rod, and ONE set of cafes that matches the first two. Buy the rod and the one set of cafes.
  • Go back to second store. Buy the second set of cafes.
  • Go back to Target for the third set. Apparently they have already sold it. No, no one will go to the back and see if there's any more. "All we have is out there." Too busy with Christmas rush, I guess.
  • Back to the second store. Return the first set of cafes.
  • Back to the third store. Return the second set of cafes.
  • Head home. Discover another department store on the way. They have ONE set of those cafes. Don't buy them, but go to the second store to see if they can give me back the ones I just returned.
  • They throw me out of store. (Not really, but I emerge unhappily cafe-less.)
  • Go to liquor store. Buy the makings for B-52s.
  • Get home. Try rods. The long one bends with only 1/2 inch of tension.
  • Back to Home Depot, exchange rod.
  • Get home. Make B-52 and sip it.
  • Go online and attempt to locate cafes. Find many in various colors, or white with colored embroidery, or too sheer. About the eighth site I try has --- the very same ones I'd been trying to buy, and they assure me they are in the warehouse and I can pick them up this evening at the local Sears. Order three sets.
  • Make B-52 and celebrate.
  • Drive to store. Pickup area says they don't have them, they're out of stock, that I had been send an email canceling my order.
  • Go home. Yep, email had been sent after I had left the house. (And give me no crap about "if you had a smart phone....")
  • Make B-52 and chug it.
  • Online search again. Turns out Sears can ship them from Timbuktu or somewhere in five days for a hefty delivery charge. Order them.
  • Go to bed.
That took the whole day, and I didn't even end the day with curtains.

Then there was the day I went to Pier One. I had checked their online catalog, and chose a table and lamp I wanted, both on sale. I called the local store and asked if they had them in stock. Yes, they did.

This is going to be a quick trip, right? Just go get them.

I went, and got the last table they had (this one, but when I got it, it was on sale at a significant discount), the display model, already assembled. I went to the lamp area. They had only one left of the chosen lamp, and the shade was oval rather than round and a bit darker than I expected, but I liked that better anyway. When I passed the rug area, I saw one I loved, so I grabbed that, too. Wow. This was quick.

Then I tried to pay for them.

The table was no problem. They even gave me a small discount on top of the sale price because it was the floor model, even though there was nothing wrong with it.

The lamp was a problem. That was not the shade that came with it. There was a real hardass manager behind the counter, and she said they couldn't sell me the lamp with the wrong shade.

The clerk searched the shelves and the back to find another of these lamps with the correct shade, but this was the last one. Then she tried to find the lamp this shade was switched with, but there were no more of that lamp left. They finally figured that someone else had bought the lamp this shade went with, but had had switched shades. The hardass manager repeated that they couldn't sell me the lamp with the wrong shade.

I was finally able to convince her that if someone else had bought a lamp with my shade, and now I want to buy a lamp with her shade, it would make no difference to their inventory records. "Pretend we both were here at the same time, bought the lamps with their original shades, and then traded shades in the parking lot. Same result."

Ok. She accepted that. By now, I had been in the store well over an hour.

Time to pay for the rug. I heaved it onto the counter and asked how much it is, "There's no tag on it." The clerk looked it up in their hardcopy version of the catalog, and when she said 46" by 68", I said no, this one's smaller. I unrolled it and held it up to me, and it was shorter than I am tall. Proof, as far as I'm concerned, that it's not over 5 feet long. Also, the one in the catalog looks flat brown, mine has longer shag and a golden sheen to it. We finally had to measure. It was 35"x 56", or something like that. Anyhow, they couldn't find it in their system, they couldn't find ANY rug in their system that was anywhere near the same size and texture, and without a skew number (or however that's spelled), the hardass manager refused to sell it to me.

I am very proud of how calm I remained. They'd been waiting on other customers in between trying to figure out my lamp and now the rug. Three hours have passed. I'm not kidding. Three hours I've been in the store.

At one point, after they'd called somewhere and got no assistance, I turned around and said, loudly, "Ok, guys. You can turn the cameras off now. We got them." To the manager, "That was fun. I'll just take my rug back to my car now." She didn't think it was funny.

I think the manager was hoping that I'd eventually just give up. She doesn't know about my stubborn streak.

The end finally came when I said to the manager, "Look. This rug is not in your system. You apparently don't sell this rug. It isn't in your inventory. You don't know how it even got here. For all intents and purposes, it doesn't exist. If it were to disappear from the store right now, no one would ever notice. That makes it free, right? So just name a price, and use the proceeds to buy cookies for the staff."

She didn't think it was funny.

She turned to the clerk and told her to sell it to me for the price of the larger rug that was in the catalog, $99. The clerk rang up my total, did the credit card bit, and when I looked at the receipt, I was surprised. She had charged me only $40 for the rug. She held her finger to her lips and shook her head.

So, three and three quarter hours after walking in, I walked out. Three hours and forty five minutes to just "go and get it", not even "shopping".

And that's why it doesn't look like I've done much of anything around here.

Mostly, because it takes me two days to recover after I DO do something.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

3195 Weekend, Wilderstein

Saturday, December 12, 2010

Any couples therapist will tell you
that the minute the initial contract of the relationship is breached,
all bets are off.


I believe the green quote above to be absolutely true, but often you don't know what that initial contract is. You think you know, and then find out it wasn't what you thought it was. The real contract was deeply hidden.

From the therapist's viewpoint, the expression of the contract is and always was as it is now, known to be now broken, but back at the beginning of the relationship, the couple may have expressed their understanding differently. We change, and our expectations change, and we think our current expectations are the same as ever. If you know what I mean.

Maintaining a relationship is often like trying to hit a moving target.


Yesterday a friend and I drove up to Wilderstein mansion in Rhinecliff, to see the Victorian Christmas decorations. First we had lunch at the Rhinecliff Hotel, and visited a chocolate shop outside Rhinebeck.

The Wilderstein decorations were ok, but I was excited just to see the interior of the mansion again. I hadn't been inside in several years, and I'm impressed with how well the restoration is going. It's just sad that the work could not have been done while Daisy was alive. I love love love the wood and the gorgeous detail in that house.

It's odd, but there are very few photographs of the interior of Wilderstein online or anywhere else, and as much as I love it, I have never taken any pictures inside the house, either.

The friend had two questions she wanted to ask in research for a book, the first question having to do with electric service at the turn of the century, and the second with train service.

I was amazed that the docent was knowledgeable about electricity, and then as we were leaving, we met a guy who was an actual train buff, filled to the brim with old train lore.

I mean, what are the chances?

After leaving Wilderstein, we headed south of Newburgh to a Mensa dinner/party. There were a lot of people there, and I was happy to see many people I haven't seen in months. What felt especially good was that they seemed happy to see me, too.

We had two, count 'em, two, GPS devices to get us south to the Thruway and back home, and somehow I managed to get lost anyway. Route 9w kicked off to the left near Suffern and I missed the turn, but I kept going thinking the GPS would simply reroute us. He did, and we somehow ended up on the Thruway alright, but headed north. Duh?

After dropping the friend off at her home, it was supposed to be another 25 minutes to my home. Yeah, sure, this is New Jersey. It took me almost an hour because the state police had a sobriety roadblock set up on route 35. I didn't get home until after midnight.

When I got home, I found a bunch of packages on my doorstep. One from Amazon was four seasons of "My Name Is Earl". I LOVE that show! So this morning after breakfast I set myself up with the DVDs in Bedroom #2, planning to lie on the bed and watch the first season. Uh, I woke up at 2 pm. Windy and raining today (prefect bubble-blowing day), so no loss.

And this is/was my weekend.

Friday, December 10, 2010

3194 I guess I don't understand temperature, either.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Definition, "tartuffe": A hypocrite who feigns virtue, especially in religious matters.


It's been bitterly cold the past few days, with highs just barely above freezing, lows getting into the teens. The proof as to how cold it feels is that the periods between going out on the porch for cigarettes are getting longer and longer (which is a good thing, good coming from the bad).

This morning I went out in my to-the-knees knit nightshirt and a jacket, bare legs, and was surprised at how nice it was - almost warm. A pleasant surprise.

I was shocked to find out that it was 23 degrees F.

I think it's the wind that's been so bad. No wind today. If it weren't for clouds shutting out the sun, it would be very nice.

3193 The Luddite skinflint gets a boost

Friday, November 10, 2010

"It's so much easier to suggest solutions when you don't know too much about the problem."
-- Malcolm Forbes --


Roomba needs a snorkel coming out of the top to clean the upper edge of the baseboards.


I had asked my new neighbor, George, about the availability and possibilities of cable or satellite TV. Like me, he's older and a bit of a Luddite, resistant to being "sold" things he's told he "needs", and expects to get value for money. I mentioned that I'd be perfectly happy with what I could get with an antenna, except that with the little rabbit ear on the set it's not coming in very strong - keeps cutting out - and I can't get any ABC at all.

The next day, he handed me a Hammacher Schlemmer catalog, with a dogear on a digital antenna booster. It costs less than one month of cable, and even if I do someday decide to go with some service, I could save money by not hooking up some sets for premium channels I don't need, so I decided to try it. I didn't have a lot of hope. I've heard that those things are a ripoff, and when I opened the box the expectations dropped even further. It's like just an empty flat plastic box with a wire coming out of it.


I'm getting 40-some channels, all perfectly clear and strong! Of course some are special interest, and not for me, but I'm getting everything I wanted - ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, (and sub-channels of each of them), a weather channel or two, two movie channels, WB, FOX, and more.

I am content. I'm going to get another booster for upstairs, and I'll put off any cable decision for a while - maybe permanently.


Actually, there are very few shows I watch. The TV is on just as background noise and because it marks time for me. Too much available might tempt me into actually watching, and I'm resistant to setting up my own traps.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

3192 How do you explain batteries to a cat?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A woman is as young as she feels. A man is as young as the woman he feels.


I have never felt lonely. Don't know why, but I've always been comfortable with my own company, even when I'm alone for long periods.

Here in the new house, with Daughter and SIL across the road, I've been feeling lonely. I almost didn't recognize the feeling.

I didn't understand why.

Daughter and Hercules seem to never be home. They both work. Daughter's hours are all over the clock, and they're both involved in geocaching and socializing with friends, and various meetings. They have invited me to some of their events, but I don't really feel I fit, and I absolutely don't want Daughter to feel she has to entertain me. A cup of tea a few times a week, and the occasional lunch is enough. I already know at least four people who live within 40 minutes of here - pretty much the same distance to friends as at the old house - and there's Mensa and Meetup here, same as upstate. I haven't gotten involved in anything yet because I figure I really ought to do what has to be done to fix up the old house and settle into the new before I start building a social life. So I was thinking that if I feel lonely, it's my own fault.

But then I realized that I don't really need or want any of that anyway. It's not the absence of any of that that's causing the empty feeling. I don't need a lot of people contact to be satisfied.

It hit me yesterday what the real problem is.

All that's left of Jay, of Jay-ness, is at the old house. There's nowhere here where I glimpse him in the corner of my eye. None of his fingerprints are here. No memories.

There's no Jay here.


Jasper has been a real comfort. I don't know why, but he's much more interested in interaction here than he ever had been in the old house. Maybe it's because there's no mouse scent here. No possibility of a good hunt.

Anyway, every morning he escorts me downstairs, waits patiently while I eat breakfast, and then he makes it very clear he wants to play, right after his massage. Playing involves my dragging a string around, or a catnip mouse on the end of a string, or flashing the laser pointer around the floors and walls. The laser is both our favorites. I can tire him out before I tire out, but I try not to use it more often than every third day or so. I don't want him to get bored with it.

He surprised me this morning. When I picked up the laser pen, he got all excited and was focused on my hand. When I clicked the button, he immediately looked all over the floor for the red dot.

It surprised me that he associated the dot with the click of the pen.

But - the batteries were dead, and there was no red dot. When I clicked again to turn it off, he slumped all over and looked up at me. Again, I'm surprised that he associated the second click with "no more red dot".

He was very insistent that I do it again. I finally had to drag the mouse around for him, but he was half-heatedly chasing it. He kept leading me back to the laser pen.

I guess "click = red dot" is easier to understand than the concept of batteries. I made a special trip to the store to get him some batteries, because after his six hour afternoon nap, he'd be wanting to play again.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

3191 Mice?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish."
-- Euripides --


I know I'm not very au currant these days, but I can sometimes figure things out, or ask someone. What I haven't been able to figure out is why Justin Bieber is being handed so much pure crap. Constantly. Everywhere. He must be a very strong young man to have not completely broken down by now.

Actually, I don't really care why. There is no excuse. No one short of a child molester deserves the constant hounding and harassment he's been getting. It's just plain not nice, bullying pure and simple, and I suspect for the same reasons all bullies give: "We don't like him because he's not exactly like us and therefore doesn't deserve to live."


Well, Hal is in the garage with the door closed, and his alarms went off again a few minutes ago. So it probably wasn't anyone touching him, either now or last night.

I think I know what it might be, and I don't know what to do about it.

When I opened his trunk yesterday afternoon, I found that a roll of paper towels had been chewed to bits. Mouse or chipmunk. Of course I wondered how a mouse or chipmunk had gotten into the trunk. Very enterprising little beastie, living the good life.

So now I think the beastie is still in there somewhere. Setting off probably the interior motion detector alarms. Poor little thing. If he gets evicted here, he has no food cache for the winter.

I turned the alarms off, but I've got to figure out now what to do about him, and how. I can't have him spending the winter there. I don't know how to get him out. But then again, I'm not sure that's the problem, and don't know how to find out. Put peanuts in the trunk and see if they get eaten?

3190 Maybe it was flu, and I'm winning?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010, describing an owl imprinted T-shirt:
“…the symbol of Mensa, the society full of people who
annoy everyone without regard to race, creed or culture."


Yesterday was an allover bad day. I had gone to the old house to bring back another load of stuff, but I woke feeling bad. Aches, pains, hot flashes, back out, the whole smash.

Last week when Fred the minivan had the flat tire, the AAA guy had used a compressor plugged into Fred's cigarette lighter to pump up the spare. I didn't realize until several days later when I tried to use the GPS that he'd apparently blown the fuse. Tested it with the cell phone charger, and yeah, bad fuse.

No problem. Just locate the fuse and replace it, right?

Problem. The book said the fuses were under the dashboard, and you'd have to "turn the thumbscrews" to remove the soundproof cover. (Um, why do you need a soundproof cover over fuses? Oh well....) I found what I thought was the cover, but it was much larger than the diagram in the book indicated, so I wasn't sure that was it, and --- there were no thumbscrews. I gave up.

So yesterday, back in the land where I had relationships, I took Fred to his service folks and told them, "I have a simple problem that I'm embarrassed to admit I can't figure out." The mechanic laughed, showed me where the "thumbscrews" were (they were huge, flat, and required a quarter to remove, not at all what I would recognize as a thumbscrew), took the cover off, and then was confused for a moment because the lighter fuse wasn't there.

Turns out there's another fuse box under the hood, next to the battery. The book doesn't mention that one at all!

He replaced the fuse (free), then I went to the bank, and then back to the house. I felt better so I started packing some stuff, and then suddenly felt bad again. It didn't get better. It had just changed. Abdominal cramps, muscle cramps, joint aches, the long bones in my forearms ached. My fingers hurt. It felt like I'd been poisoned.

I seemed to be getting very sick, and here I was in the sticks where I'd have little assistance. So I headed south immediately. If this is a virus, if I'm going to be sick, I'd rather be across the street from Daughter.

One of the things I considered was carbon monoxide, because I felt better out of the house and bad again in the house, but that theory didn't hold on the drive south. About one hour into the 2.5 hour drive I had more and more pain. Those muscles on either side of my neck got so tight I couldn't turn my head. My right lower arm bone and elbow were pounding. The small of my back felt like I couldn't hold my upper body up. Except for pain, I was fine. No mental disorientation or nausea.

Then, the Garden State Parkway hit me.

Along about the Oranges, traffic backed up. After forty minutes of not once getting out of first gear or past 750 rpm (I had decided that since I wasn't carrying a full load, I'd take Hal so he could get some exercise), we finally passed the accident. But traffic didn't speed up. There was another accident several miles further down. And then a third. The 2.5 hour trip took me 6 hours.

Now I understand why The Man told me that if I was moving to NJ, I should get an automatic shift, not manual. After three hours of creeping, clutch up, clutch down, I thought my left foot was going to fall off. I had pretty much lost feeling in it.

When I got home, about 7 pm, I left Hal in the driveway because I had some folding tables in the back that I thought I'd get out, and the garage is too tight for unloading, and I needed to get something to eat. But by 8 I was so tired and hurting so bad I decided to go to bed.

At 9 pm, Hal's alarms went off. I have no idea why. So I got up and moved him into the garage.

I slept until 9 this morning (the HOTW post was pre-scheduled yesterday). I'm still very tired, my back is sore, my knees still hurt and feel weak, and there's an on-off-on-off pain in my left hip, feels like someone's twisting something in there, back and forth (may be due to working the clutch). But it's all minor compared to how I felt yesterday, so I expect it to go away, whatever it was.


Daughter has left for work, but Hercules' car is still in their driveway. I wonder if he's sick? When Daughter comes back, I'll call.


According to my sidebar widgets, it's 27 degrees F and snowing now at the old house. I hate winter.

3189 HOTW - Fabrice Morvan

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

“Never confuse virtue with the lack of opportunity.”


Ha! I remembered another Honey of the Week! There's a good chance you didn't recognize the name at first.

I first saw this guy and his partner in the late '80s in an MTV video that absolutely blew my socks off. It wasn't the music. It was the smoldering sexuality. His come-to-me eyes. His fantastic dream body. The way he moved, like he owned every cubic inch of the space and the air around him was thick, and hot. And sweet. And he flowed through it. Umph.

Remember Milli Vanilli? That's Fab Morvan on the right, Rob Pilatus on the left. Rob also had a great body and moves, but he didn't have the dangerous look. His eyes were lighter.

Rob died of a drug overdose a few years after the scandal. Fab is still going strong, making records on his own. He's actually a decent singer and a terrific dancer, but I guess you could say the taint has followed him. It's a sad story. They were young when they were recruited, and they were employees who did what they were told, and it was no different from what a lot of other singers and groups had done before and and are still doing now (only now they're more likely to use auto-tune, that thing that can make anyone sound good). They just got too popular too fast, and there may have been a lot of jealousy in the fierce reaction.

A lot of people are not aware that on the European releases of their albums, it was clear and upfront that they were not the singers. For some unknown to me reason, that information was omitted on the US releases.

I almost cried when they dropped out of my world.

Fab, then:

Fab now. He has to be well over 40. He has aged well. He's still yummy.

I was reminded of him by this blog post: There's a glimpse of him in the video, and in that tiny instant he still had the same effect on me.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

3188 The Blahs

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."
-- Hanlon's Razor --


Peeve: "Faze", verb, means disconcert, disturb. "Phase", noun, means a distinct form or time period, usually in a sequence. Like phase of the moon, or the caterpillar phase of the moth.

I don't understand why people use "phase" (as in the incorrect "It doesn't phase me") when the correct "faze" is a much simpler word, simpler spelling. "It doesn't phase me" makes no sense and definitely fazes me.


I am in the old house today. Drove up last night. I don't feel well at all. I keep getting waves of heat over me, my back feels slightly out, I am feeling bites of pain randomly all over my body. I don't want to lift anything for fear of kicking my back the rest of the way out.

The plan, of course, was to fill some more garbage bags with trash, and pack up more stuff to take to the new house, but I think I'm just going to go to the bank and get some cash, and head on south.

I feel so discouraged.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

3187 Boots

Sunday, December 5, 2010

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


I just spent literally hours shopping online for just-below-the-knee boots. I have a few suede and ultra-suede skirts that fall between the knee and ankle, and they really need high dressy boots to look right. I don't have any, so I never wear the skirts.

The reason I have no boots that go above the bottom of my calf is that MY LEGS ARE SQUARE!

It's 15 inches from the floor to just below my knee, and my calf at the widest point is 15 inches in circumference. Square. Plus it seems that my calf starts a lot lower than average. My entire ankle area is no more than an inch and a half long.

I figured I needed boots with lycra/spandex tops. They seem to be very rare in anything smaller than a size 7, and even then, the circumference of the top is like 13 inches. In the "wide-calf" boots, the calf circumference seemed to start at 17 inches.

What is a size 5.5 15-incher supposed to do?

Back in the 60s and 70s, you could buy high "socks" that had a knit foot section and then a leather-look or patent-look stretchy section that went to the knee or slightly above. You wore them with your own leather or patent shoes, and they looked for all the world like perfectly fitted boots. They fit my legs so closely with no excess thickness that they fooled the eye into thinking my legs were narrower. I loved them, had several pairs. And then they disappeared, and mine finally bit the dust. I wonder why they no longer exist? They were wonderful.

(Alert! Business opportunity!)

There were a few boots I finally found - in the >$300 range. I was determined to pay no more than $85. I finally found these:

Annie's. $74.95 and free shipping. See that line at the top of the shoe part? They look for all the world like my old "leather" socks with shoes. Except that these look like lycra, and the old thingies looked like leather.

I bought the last pair the online store had in stock. I hope I got them and they don't cancel the order.

By the way, I have a bazillion pairs of shoes, but I never pay more than $30 for shoes. Usually more like $20 on sale at Shoe Town. This is simply another broken rule.

3186 The kindest cuts

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Nothing wrong with disagreement. Plenty wrong with being disagreeable.


There's a mirror on the wall next to the front door, so I can check that I'm presentable before I go out in public. This morning I glanced in it and noticed a white spot near the back hem of my favorite eight-year-old black velvet quilted ski jacket. I thought, "Oh, the mend is coming loose, showing the white stuffing, time to mend it again." And that was it.

Then I went to the minivan to sweep it out in preparation for another trip north, and as I folded the back seat down, I noticed the tears in the upholstery on the top back of the seat, and I got all pissed off, just like I've gotten pissed off every time I've noticed them over the past four years.

Both tears, the jacket and the seat, were the result of someone else's actions. So why, I wondered, why the difference in reaction?

The jacket was torn when a friend didn't notice a sharp projection, I forget what or where. As soon as she noticed what she'd done to my brand new jacket, she was very apologetic, said she was so sorry, and couldn't afford to replace the jacket but would pay for professional repair. I just shrugged and said I'd just throw in a few whip stitches and no one would ever notice. I know that had I seen the projection and said "Watch out for that whatsis" she'd have stopped and looked.

The van seat was torn when I was helping a male friend move some furniture. He was shoving a bed headboard through the back hatch, sliding it over the folded-down seat, when I said "Wait! There's a screw!" He ignored me, kept on shoving, r-i-i-i-i-p, and kept on shoving anyway. When he later took the headboard out and saw what he'd done to the seat, he touched the rip, said "Oops", and didn't even look at me. No apology, no offer to make it right. But what pissed me off most was that when I had said there's a screw, he ignored me. That's him. He always knows best. He never did listen to anything anyone else said.

So for the past however many years, when I see the tear in the jacket, I just check that the mend is holding and don't think negative thoughts. I don't even remember exactly how it happened. When I see the tear in the van seat, I remember that entire day and every negative thought I'd ever had about that guy and I get all pissed off all over again.

Moral of the story - when you screw up, admit it, take responsibility, and you'll probably be forgiven. Show respect for the other person's property and feelings, and they'll respect you.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

3185 House Missed the Bull's Eye

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Men don’t “shop”. They “go get it”.


Someone suggested Lyme disease for Dr. House's mystery patient this evening, and House said impossible, because there's no red bull's eye.

Dr. House screwed up. (Well, the script writers screwed up.)
a.) Not everyone with Lyme gets a bull's eye, and
b.) if there is a bull's eye, it's just a short-term initial reaction when first infected; long-term Lyme won't show the bull's eye any more, and
c.) the patient's heart problem would have indicated that he'd had Lyme for quite a while, so any bull's eye would be long gone, and
d.) the patient was Black, and the bull's eye, if there even is or was one, is often missed on Black skin.

I'm surprised that no one on the show staff caught it.

3184 Cold, cold, cold, cold feet*

*Nod to Tracy Chapman

Saturday, December 4, 2010

“The squeaking wheel doesn’t always get the grease. Sometimes it gets replaced.”
-- Vick Gold --


I wear closed shoes and socks only in the winter. I'm back in open shoes, sandals, and bare feet as soon as possible in the spring. The socks I do wear in the winter are the thin "trouser socks".

Man, I'm dying here! It seems so much colder here, even when the thermometer says it's in the high 40s. My hands and feet are freezing constantly!

I think the difference between the new and the old house is the wind, the flatness, the proximity to ocean, the humidity.

The old house was among rolling countryside. There was wind, but the topography directed it high. The tops of the trees would whip, but close to the ground there was usually little wind. Shopping was mostly tucked in valleys.

Here, at the new house, there's nothing to stop the wind. It blows off the water and across the land. This area of New Jersey is so flat. I hate flat, but I figured it would be ok because I can always go visit mountains when I feel like it. I am relearning why I hate flat.

The wind is not only strong and low, but coming off the water, it's damp.

I guess I could buy some wool socks, but it's not that easy. My feet are wide and I have an unusually high instep. It's difficult enough to find shoes that fit well (short, but wide and high) even with thin socks. I doubt that most of my shoes and boots would fit over heavy socks that make my feet even wider and higher.

Maybe I'll have to hibernate for a few months.

3183 My head hurts

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Going up the elevator is unsettling when you are packed in with a bunch of people
who look like they hadn't left their mother's basements since the last convention.
(Comment overheard about Furries, but could also apply to Mensans.)


I heard sirens this afternoon. It sounded like several fire trucks, nearby. But they didn't seem to go to one place and stop, They went on and on, and every time I went to the front door to listen, the sound was coming from a different direction.

Maybe it was a multi-alarm fire, companies arriving from multiple locations? Or maybe it wasn't a fire at all, but many police cars chasing someone?

Then I looked out the back and saw children and adults running up the next street over, all looking the same direction. Maybe the fire is at the end of that street? Hmmmm. No smoke....

The sirens got closer, and I saw several fire trucks moving slowly down that street. Then I saw Santa on the back of the third truck.


I guess Santa is touring the neighborhood in style.

He didn't come down our street, though. It's a dead end. Although it would be amusing to see a herd of fire trucks trying to turn around at the end.


Another blogger, whom I know to be very conservative in many ways, blogged about her experience with the TSA scanners on a recent trip. She, like others, is upset about the erosion of the fourth amendment. I followed and agreed with her assessment right up to the end, when she blamed trashing of the Constitution on "liberals and faux-conservatives".

I thought I must have misunderstood and read it again. And again. Beat my head on the wall and read it again.

I keep hearing that the symptoms of the conservative disease include poor memory, selective memory, and an ignoring of facts. It must be true.

Wasn't it Bush who tossed the Constitution out the window when he decided he could declare war without the approval of Congress? Wasn't it the Bush administration who pushed for and and the conservatives in Congress who passed the Patriot Act, that pretty much declared the fourth amendment void, what with all the warrantless searches and wiretapping and everything else? Wasn't it those same folks who built the Homeland Security Administration, and gave them carte blanche to stomp all over the Constitution any way they wanted in the name of fear security and citizen terrorist control?

Methinks she hates where it all has led, and figures it must be the fault of "them". It couldn't possibly be "us".

I didn't leave a comment because her readers are loyal sycophants, also conservative in viewpoint, and starting a flamewar is pointless. But I can't just ignore it, either. So, this blog serves its purpose as a brain purge once again.

Sigh. But my head still hurts.

Friday, December 03, 2010

3182 We passed on all counts

Friday, December 3, 2010

Disappointment is the distance between expectations and reality.


Let me get this straight: The House has blocked the bill to extend unemployment benefits, but the House Republicans want to keep tax cuts for the wealthy. The house blocked a bill to feed needy school children healthy food (junk food producers, big campaign contributors, objected), but they passed the bill to ban loud TV commercials.

Yup. I guess they've got their priorities straight. "I've got mine, buck you fuddy."


A prediction: There will be a class action suit against Prilosec and Zantac, alleging that they contribute to osteoporosis and broken hips. (Unfortunately, they do, by blocking production of acid, thereby making it difficult to absorb calcium, even if one is taking supplements. That's why the packages say not to use them for more than two consecutive weeks.)


I hosted my first overnight guest in the new house last night. He'd been traveling all over the US and working a lot of overtime, and drove in from the Philadelphia area last night.

He likes a warm room. I like warm, too, but I often find his idea of "just right" too warm for me. Like, I'm trying to put makeup on and it's melting off. I think this house is cold, even though the thermometer says 72. Probably because with no basement, the floors are cold. Anyway, I was a bit worried that he'd think it was too cold here. I think he expected that, too, because he hadn't been here more than a half hour when he said, with surprise in his voice, "It's nice and warm here."

This morning, again with surprise in his voice, he said, "Nothing in the house smells of cigarettes." I think he was worried about that, too. I was, a bit, because even though I washed everything that came from the old house that could be laundered, there were a lot of things that couldn't be washed, like rugs and upholstery, and the sari spread on the very bed he slept in. And I knew if there was the slightest hint, he'd detect it.

And he has a slight cat allergy, and he knew Jasper is here. But Jasper sheds the least of any cat I've ever seen, not a bit of dry skin or dander, and, timid to the core, made himself scarce, so that wasn't a problem either.

So we were both afraid, in our own way, that he'd find the place cold and smelly and full of allergens, and we're both surprised that it was just fine.

This is good, I think. Now all I have to do is learn to cook.

Nah. That's going too far.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

3181 Bubbles!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

All general statements are false.


I just discovered that if you blow bubbles when it's cold, they last a very long time. They've drifted from my porch to all the way across the street, and when they land on something (like the grass or tree twigs) they don't immediately pop.


A relative discovered this little gem - underwear that displays the text of the fourth amendment in the TSA scanner:

3180 More unknown sounds

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Political Correctness: The belief that anyone expressing a thought is responsible for the comfort of the person interpreting that thought.

Law #1 - You must not bother other people.
Law #2 - If you are other people, you must not be bothered so easily.


A strange noise at the new house that I forgot in yesterday's post:

A night, and only at night, and only from the front porch, I hear what sounds like tree frogs and crickets off to the east. A steady very rapid buzzing overlapping cheecheechee, with a subtle undertone of mechanical motor.

I know that there's a marshy river inlet over there that leads to a large marina. Marsh equals frogs. Right? Frogs equals insects. Right? And I'm a country girl. I know and like frog/cricket duets, and that's exactly what it sounds like.

That explanation worked in October and early November, but we've had many nights when the temperature has dropped into the low 30s, and the "frogs/crickets" continue singing unabated.

Not frogs. Not crickets. Right?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

3179 Weird noises

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Men get married so they don’t have to date anymore.


A few people have blogged lately about hearing weird noises.

I'm always amazed at how far sound will travel under the right conditions.

When I was in college, the campus climbed a hill, and the gym/pool building was at the top of the hill. If you had metal fillings in your teeth, and only if you had fillings, you could hear the local radio station when you were submerged in the pool. If your teeth and ears were underwater, it was clear as a bell.

When I lived near St. Louis, our house was at the top of the highest hill in the county - you could see the arch, almost 25 miles away, from that hill. If the air was still at night, there was a steady thrumming sound in the house that about drove me crazy, the kind of sound you feel more than hear. You couldn't hear it outside, just in the house. I finally discovered that there was a Toyota truck factory a bit south of the city, a good 30 miles from my house, and they were testing motors at night. That was confirmed when they shut the factory down for a week, and the sound stopped for that week.

The house I'm moving out of is also at the top of a hill. The back of the house overlooking the valley is mostly glass, which picks up and amplifies or reflects sound. There was a bagpipe band (fire and police) that practiced at a fire house across the river and upriver a bit (probably at least 5 to 7 miles away), tucked invisibly into another valley, and I could hear them clearly on the deck, but not in the house. On the other hand, sometimes a train on the tracks running up the river would sit on a side track for hours, running, and I could hear it in the house but not on the deck. (For a long time I thought that sound was a refrigerated truck compressor at the beer store at the bottom of my hill, but a quick trip to check proved that idea wrong.)

In this house, I occasionally hear "moooOOOoop ... moooOOOoop ... moooOOOoop", about five to seven mooops in a row, coming from the southeast. I asked Daughter what it was, but she doesn't hear it, and theorized that it was a "noon whistle" kind of thing, from a fire station or something. But the times I hear it are random, and never on the hour. I think maybe it's boats. Big boats (ships) have foghorns, and that's what it sounds like. Maybe there's a drawbridge down there somewhere that they mooop at to ask that it be opened.

Sounds can travel for many miles, and sounds can be heard in one spot but not in another only feet away, so sometimes asking the neighbors just gets you a strange look. "Whachu talkin' 'bout, Willis?" I often hear sounds that no one else hears, which is strange because my right ear lost the high and low registers from too much time at the rifle range with no ear protection. I wonder what sounds neighbors hear that I don't, but I suspect asking will just get me an even weirder look.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

3178 Anticipating murder on Beachside Street

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up."
-- G. K. Chesterton --


The past three nights when I went out onto the porch for a cigarette, I heard tinny music. Not close, maybe at the end of this street, or on the next street over. Bits of musical phrases on the breeze.

This evening I recognized it as Christmas carols.

I suspect someone's yard display includes music. Tinny music.

It's not even December yet. How long will their neighbors allow them to live?

3177 Matching Expectations

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Successful people do all the things unsuccessful people don’t want to do.


Saturday and Sunday I taped up the master bedroom, and painted all around the edges. Yesterday I finished the edge painting and started on the walls with the roller. Got about a third of the room done.

I'm staring to have second thoughts about the color I chose.

The furniture that'll eventually go in that room is all Chinese and Tibetan, mostly a very dark red with a lot of gold, black, and some other colors. An obvious choice for the walls would have been a pale green, or blue, or golden yellow. However, my skin has yellow tones and those colors are simply not flattering to me. I could go with a neutral beige or light gray, but that was just blah, and I didn't want blah in that room.

I picked a paint chip that was close to the red of the furniture, and I carried it around with me, holding it next to possibilities, and believe it or not a color I kept going back to over and over, that worked very nicely and made me happy, was called "essence of lilac", a pale lilac with grayish overtones.

Not an obvious choice with dark red, but it worked.

Well, I'm not so sure any more. What is coming out of the can is more of a violent violet. I don't think it's the light in the room. I have several large chips of the chosen color, and I stuck them on the wall on top of the paint, and it's not the same color at all. The grayish component is missing. It'll still work with the Chinese red, but not with the gold and other colors in the furniture.

I'm hoping that after it "cures", it'll change to the grayish lilac. The peachy mauve paint in the living room did change over the first week, so maybe. Otherwise, I'll have to do it all over again.


Daughter and I went on Sunday to a state park for a short walk. On the way back home, we passed a house around the corner with I swear a hundred Christmas doohickeys in the front yard. I said, "Oh my God!", and Daughter said, "Just wait. They're not finished yet." I'll post a photo when they are finished.

Apparently a lot of people around here decorate in a big way.

This is definitely a working class neighborhood. When I decided to buy this house, Daughter tried to redirect me to other neighborhoods nearby. Yeah, those neighborhoods have nicer houses on larger lots, with residents who store their cabin cruisers and speedboats in marinas for the winter, not in the front yard. (Lots of boats around here - we're close to water.) But I liked the idea of being across the street from the kids.

Even though I worked in a definitely white-collar job and have mostly lived in white-collar places, when you come right down to it, I'm from a blue-collar background. Neither of my parents went to college. Before my father was selected for officer candidate school and was commissioned in the Air Force based solely on his scores on IQ tests, he worked in the coal mines and machine shops. He was always very conscious of and sensitive about his lack of education. Before Mom had to quit work to accompany him on his postings, she worked a loom in the Scranton Lace Company. (I have her practice tablecloth.)

So, many of my deepest attitudes, tastes, and preferences are blue-collar. Daughter may not believe it, but although this is not the kind of area where I might have imagined I'd end up, I'll probably be just fine here. Maybe even happier than in a snootier place where one has to meet certain expectations.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

3176 Appreciation, so easy.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.


I can appreciate the smallest things. One of the things I appreciate most about the new house, a few dozen times a day, is the water.

In the old house, the water was so hard that you didn't dare let drops dry on anything. A dried drop would leave a ring of hard gray salts that could be removed only by acid. Everything had to be dried by wiping immediately.

If you let a bowl sit in the sink overnight with water in it, there'd be a hard ring in it by morning.

You wouldn't believe the toilet bowls! The ring at the edge of the water would get so thick it needed an acid soak every month, and scrubbing with a wire brush. There was also silt in the water, so the toilet ring was brown. (Not iron - no iron - silt from the well.)

It was the hard water that killed the washing machine, by building up salts in the shutoff valves, so I had to fill the washer by hand, or it would overflow. And the silt could stain the clothes if I hadn't changed the water filter just before doing laundry.

It's funny how used to inconvenience one can get. For years I just dealt with it. That's what one does.

I appreciate the water here every time I turn a faucet on, and don't have to wipe the sink down immediately. I appreciate it every time I rinse out a bowl and feel the hard rings remaining in it from the old house. I appreciate it when I can leave a pot to soak. I appreciate that it's been more than a month here, and the toilet bowls are still clean and white. I appreciate it when the drops run off the shower curtain, and the curtain looks clean.

I really like how much easier decent water can make life.