Saturday, March 13, 2010

2806 My body has checked out

Saturday, March 13, 2010

It doesn't pay to be so open-minded that your brains fall out.
-- Carl Sagan --


I have so very much to do to get the house ready for the kitty sitter. Lifting, packing crap away, carrying things to the basement or the recycle center. I'd been putting it off all this week, kinda in planning stages, ya know?

So today I bent over to get lunch out of the oven, and couldn't straighten up. Lower back is out. First time in literally years. Shoulda knowed it would happen.


Friday, March 12, 2010

2805 Weight check, guitar birds

Friday, March 12, 2010

"Men who are unhappy, like men who sleep badly, are always proud of the fact."
-- Bertrand Russell --


Saw the nutritionist again yesterday, gave her the "food journal" she'd asked me to keep. She was very impressed by what I had listed as having eaten, and then was doubly impressed when she weighed me. I'd lost (by her scale) 8 pounds in the 4 weeks - which pretty much proved that my journal was accurate, not "prettied up".

My scale says 10 pounds lost, by the way. I am now at 130. My goal had been 125, but given that I still have the out-of-proportion tummy and thighs, just smaller, I think I'll revise the goal downward. Or maybe not numbers at all - just aim for flat tummy.

No, firming exercises are not the answer. I have an excellent set of muscles there. Under the soft fat pad on the belly, my belly is flat and firm. You can actually grab the pad and lift it, and see flatness. Same with my thighs. Under the soft outer jiggle, my thighs are rock hard.

I will do exercises to keep the rear end round - I don't want a flat behind. One thing I can't do much about is the bust. It is getting smaller. Over the last two years I bought a lot of bras, in 38 D and 38 DD. It cost a small fortune and took a lot of shopping, because I'm hard to fit, it's hard to get a big cup that won't point east and west on my small chest. I am beginning to not fill them. That's distressing. I really don't want to have to replace them all over again. I may just shrug and use a little padding in the bottom of the cups until things settle down.


This video is cute. I've copied the text from the description on YouTube. I assume no one will mind, since it's essentially advertising for the Barbican. I like the bird using the stick as a pick. The bird, by the way, obviously has a definite purpose in mind. I wonder what.
New commission for The Curve, Barbican, London

© Extracts from Ariane Michel's film, Les Oiseaux de Céleste. Copyright Galerie Xippas, Ariane Michel and Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, 2008

French artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot creates works by drawing on the rhythms of daily life to produce sound in unexpected ways.

For his installation in The Curve, Boursier-Mougenot creates a walk-though aviary for a flock of zebra finches, furnished with electric guitars and other musical instruments. As the birds go about their routine activities, perching on or feeding from the various pieces of equipment, they create a captivating, live soundscape.


27 February 2010 - 23 May 2010
The Curve, Barbican, London

Free admission
Times: Open daily 11am-8pm
Open late every Thu until 10pm


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

2804 Cool (well, maybe hot) Amazon item

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Rational arguments don't usually work on religious people. Otherwise, there wouldn't be religious people."
-- Doris Egan --


From the description: "Radioactive sample of uranium ore. Useful for testing Geiger Counters. License exempt. Uranium ore sample sizes vary. Shipped in labeled metal container as shown."

The product reviews at the bottom are funny. Some of the "Also Viewed" items worry me, like the whole rabbit (missing the head and skin), of which there is "1 new and used". "Used"? Ick.

I'm not sure anymore what's real and what's a joke.

2803 Buck you, Fuddy.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Polls reveal attitudes; they do not predict behavior.
Just because a poll says 50% of the polled will resign their job if X occurs
doesn‘t mean that anyone will actually resign when X occurs.
We forget that attitude and behavior are, for obvious reasons, different.


I debated whether to write about this.
If you are local to me, if you know me, and if I don't already know you read this blog, and if you suspect I may not be too happy with your reading it, hit that X up there right now. Otherwise, I cannot and will not be responsible for your reaction. You have been warned.
When I got home from the weekend, I found that sometime Monday evening someone locally had checked out the blog. This is my "diary". I don't like people who know me reading it. There's only one local reader that I know for sure about, and she's ok because she's one of the most reasonable people I know, and we tend to have pretty much the same attitude toward everything, so I don't worry about her misinterpreting me. Plus, our circles don't overlap, so there's no opportunity for gossip.

But I am carefully hidden from everyone else. I don't need the gossip, the whispered "and then she said", the misunderstandings and subsequent fireworks. This is my diary. As I get older, I find I do refer to past entries occasionally, to straighten out memories. I need to be free to comment on anything important to me.

This incident is important to me.

Sunday morning at the gathering, I walked into the hospitality room, and saw several of the local Mensans sitting at a table. There was an empty chair in the middle of the group. (I was amused because that was the very table and the exact place I'd sat the first time I saw The Man three years ago, across the table, and was fascinated by the play of thoughts across his face.)

Anyhoo, I sat down. I was sitting there several minutes. I am certain it was more than 5 minutes. It could have been as long as 15. I ate a piece of bagel, and drank some iced tea. Then FW came into the room, stormed up to me, and said, "That's my seat. Get out of my seat. Move!"

I said, "It's not your seat. You left it. Seats aren't saved. There's plenty of seats. Pull another up."

She said, "It's MY SEAT! Move! I didn't leave anything on the seat to save it because I didn't know I had to! F**k you!" Her voice went up in pitch and volume. The other people at the table told her to take another chair. Note that it was an eight-person round table, and four of the chairs were unoccupied. Now, I know this woman. I know how she can be. I could have avoided what happened next by simply getting up and moving, but I have a stubborn streak, and that "F**k you" got to me.

I did not get out of the chair. I reached behind me and pulled up a chair from another table, and put it next to me. She sat in it. But it wasn't over. She seemed to get stuck on the "F**k you", and she shouted it in my face, over and over and over, "F**k you! F**k you! F**k you!", over and over, louder and higher, until she was screeching it. There were maybe 30 other people in the room, and the room went silent. Everyone stared.

I did not react at all. I didn't even hold back a reaction. There was nothing at all. I surprised myself at how cool I was. My hands didn't shake. The group photo was taken only moments after the screeching ended, and see how relaxed I am?
I used to be afraid of her, afraid to set her off. Her attacks used to scare me and leave me trembling and unsure of myself for days. I had to stop associating with her because she was poisoning me.

I think that's over. I don't think she will ever upset me again, and I don't think I will ever again worry about setting her off. It's done. I don't care anymore. I don't even care if she reads this, because it's true, and a lot of other people who DO know her witnessed it.


On reflection, I think I know what happened. She has apparently gone off on others, one way or another. She had ridden down to the gathering with the guy on the right in the photo, and was rooming with the Hawaiian woman on the left (without contributing to the cost of the room, BTW). The arrangements had been made before they'd had much social exposure to her, and now neither of them were too happy about spending time with her. The woman had even found another room to sleep in. I think perhaps FW noticed she was being shunned.

That morning, she was happy to be sitting in the middle of the group at the table. She likes to be the center of attention. She left to get food or whatever, came back, and found that I had taken her place in the middle. She would be left on the outskirts again. And it was all my fault. I was The Usurper.

She freaked.

Her problem, not mine, and that finally sank in for me. I think it's that other people have also commented on her instability and tendency to viciously attack anyone who in any way offends her, and how she sees offense everywhere. Others have mentioned not wanting to be in the line of attack, and since you never see it coming, it's better to just avoid her. So it's not just me. That helps.

(A small detail - I had purchased two tickets for the banquet the night before, in case The Man or Daughter could attend. Neither was able. The banquet was sold out, and FW had no ticket. I gave her my extra ticket, and did not request payment. Neither did she offer. So much for gratitude.)


Same woman, different topic. She's on social security disability. She works when she can find a job, but can earn only a little, or she'll lose the disability checks. She's intelligent and capable. She's the head of the local Mensa chapter, and she runs the group well. Yeah, ok, she's got "a diagnosis", and takes a variety of meds, but she's not disabled. She's perfectly abled. What the heck?

I was annoyed at first. I saw it as sucking on the government teat, the rest of us paying for her laziness. Now I know better. Yes, she can work, and she can be very productive. She can contribute. She is not lazy. She has a lot of good skills to offer. But the problem is that she can't hold any one job for very long before she gets pissed off at someone else on the job and blasts them. And she's always pissed at everyone else in the office, usually because they don't do things they way she thinks they should be done. She gets fired from jobs because no one wants that poison at the next desk.

Roman and I were talking one day, and we agreed that her current job might be the best for her. It might even last a while. You know those women at the end of the grocery aisle with the free samples? She shows up, sets up, microwaves samples, offers them, cleans up, and leaves. She rarely sees the boss. She doesn't have daily exposure to anyone. Brief encounters.

2802 Weight

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished
unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets."
-- Voltaire --


I have continued to lose weight on the first four weeks of the diabetes diet. I am now only 5 pounds away from what has been my goal for the past several years.

I hadn't been sure I was "doing the diet" right, but I guess I must be.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

2801 The collapse of the corporation

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ray Wilson, in an Amazon reader review of Nickel and Dimed in America: “With the enormous expansion of social programs in the 1960's and 1970's, America waged war on poverty - and poverty won.”


Becs has written about how the corporate culture has changed. I believe it.

I first joined The Company in 1968. Back then it was still run by the family that grew it, and it was run like a family, with a unique management style. If you made it through the training, it was pretty much taken for granted that you had a job for life, and The Company was interested in the welfare of their employee family. The only way you'd get kicked out was if you did something that amounted to company treason or felony. Being bad at the tasks you were given wouldn't get you fired. There was more a feeling that you were just given the wrong tasks, and a strong effort was made to find what you were good at, and move you into that.

Ex#2 ripped me out of that in 1971, moved me to St. Louis where I went into a support division that had a more military culture (but still very family), then the birth of Daughter with a medical problem pulled me out of that, and I didn't get back to the development plant environment until 1983.

I was shocked at how much had changed. The last of the founding family had retired, and top management was now hired guns. The family feeling was gone. Management training had changed. Where before people had worked as teams because we were all in it together and no member of a team could pull you down, you could just lift people up, now employees were competing against each other. Where before the company was successful because they put out a good product and supported their customers as well as their own people, now the emphasis was on getting money out of the customer without spending more than was necessary.

Over the subsequent years there were all kinds of programs and exercises aimed toward fostering teamwork - but teamwork continued to deteriorate, because when you pit people against one another, they have to ask, "Why should I make you look good, when it only makes me look less good by comparison?" Back in 1968, The Company put an enormous investment in training people, and providing continuing education, so it was in their interests to keep these highly trained people. Now, they expect people to bring the training with them. No investment, no incentive.

I hated the new corporate culture. It just got worse and worse. When they started secret peer reviews, that's when I knew I had to get out. Peer reviews might work in a "family" environment, where there's no personal cost to being honest and helpful, but when people are competing to hold a job, peer reviews turn vicious. The goal is no longer to help management assign resources, but to confuse management.

Nowadays, people are nothing but furniture to be exploited. Get a few chairs in when you need them, throw them out when you don't. I don't know why anyone would feel any loyalty to the company, why they'd want to make her shine. Just do the minimum required to get the check, because even if you are outstanding, if your project is canned for some arbitrary reason, you will be too. They don't care about you, so why should you care about them?

This is not good.

Monday, March 08, 2010

2800 Weekend with Mensa

Monday, March 8, 2010

In the movie "The Third Man", a character observes that thirty years of turmoil in Italy under the Borgias produced Michelangelo, Leonardo DaVinci, and the Renaissance, while five hundred years of peace in Switzerland produced the cuckoo clock.


I went to the Central NJ Mensa regional gathering this past weekend. It was pretty much as expected. Nothing great, nothing to complain about. A fairly large contingent of the local group went. Without naming names, here we all are:
That's me in the middle, in yellow. Silk in context.

The gathering was over at noon on Sunday, and everyone else went home, but I stayed over another night. The Man joined me Saturday evening, through noon today. He and I had met at this gathering in 2007, so this was effectively our third anniversary, but there was no way he was going to attend the gathering. He dislikes Mensans in general (even though we're both members), and especially dislikes gatherings. Mensans in general are rather lacking in social graces, and many actions thoroughly disgust him. Sunday evening he mentioned how at a gathering in Maryland he and I had attended together (and the last he agreed to go to), I almost got run over by the stampede of 400-lb slobs when the chocolate orgy started.

It so happened that there were a few incidents that would have thoroughly disgusted him, so It's just as well he stayed away.

We hadn't seen each other in a long time. Stuff going on that made it difficult.

Yeah, I'm in love again.

Funny how when you haven't seen someone in ages you see things you hadn't seen before.

He's big and strong. His appearance can be rather threatening. He's had some serious adversity and emotional pain in his life, and has come through it with only a little baggage. I see him as very strong, very powerful, very much in control of everything.

Last night and this morning I've modified that a bit. Yes, he's mentally and physically strong and mature. But not emotionally so. In a lot of ways he's got a lot of little boy in there. Well, all men do in one way or another, but his little boy lives in a different place than most men's. I think he may be quite fragile in some ways. Very emotionally protective. I'll have to keep that in mind.


I had taken Jasper to Pussyfoot Lodge, hoping that this short stay would get him ready for a longer stay in April, when I go to Morocco. That didn't work out at all. He didn't eat, drink, or piddle the whole time, and he completely freaked out in the carrier coming home. It was so bad that he had long thick streams of drool, and at one point I thought he'd had a stroke.

I guess I'm going to have to leave him home and have someone come in to feed him while I'm gone. That means I've got a hair over two weeks to whip the house into company-shape. It's some indication of how bad it is that I'm not sure I can do it.

(Two weeks, because the week before I leave for Morocco, I'll be going with The Man on a multi-day trip to Virginia, home for three days, then off to north Africa. So everything has to be done before Virginia.)