Friday, April 02, 2010

2921 The bee knows.

Friday, March 2, 2010

"Obama is not a brown-skinned anti-war socialist who gives away
free health care. You're thinking of Jesus."


It got well into the 70s today. The yellow jackets are investigating the seams of the van, and the tree frogs are singing. Haven't heard the bullfrogs yet, though.

My daffodils are up, and a few are blooming.

Spring has arrived.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

2920 Selling it

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired."
-- Robert Frost --

I don't agree with that, but I suppose it is true for some people.

I went shopping today. Bought a lightweight backpack to use as a carryon, a tiny Sharp travel alarm clock that's easy to set and carry, but which will have to lie on the pillow with me or I'll never hear it, an inflatable pillow to help preserve my back on the plane and tour buses, and tiny packets of shampoo, sun block, moisturizer, toothpaste, and so on. Also another card for my camera.

On the car radio, an administrator from Boston University was being interviewed, and the subject of tenure came up. The man was asked whether A) a candidate's record was examined, and then he or she, if refused tenure, was told why, or B) it was entirely up to the candidate to convince the committee, to prove that he or she had earned tenure. The argument for the former is that there's less of a chance for hidden favoritism, and more of a chance to rectify. The latter method puts enormous pressure on the candidate, and if they are refused, they never really know why.

The answer was that in most large universities it's B). The tenure committee does no research, and the refused candidate is never (or rarely) told why they were refused. It's up to them to convince the committee, and for all they know, refusal was a personality thing.

I just shrugged at that, and then I wondered why. With my liberal slant and management style, you'd think I'd be all for A), look at everything, check off the boxes, and tell the candidate exactly what's right and what's wrong.

But then I realized that was never my employee style.

Most people slog away in the job, hoping that management will notice how wonderful they are, hoping that their turn for a raise or promotion will come up, in due time. If they are ambitious, and they're a Level 1 Grunt, they try to be the best Level 1 Grunt possible, to shine as a Level 1 Grunt.

I figure that's a good way to stay a Level 1 Grunt forever. Why should you be promoted to Level 2 when you're so good at Level 1?

When you're a Level 1, as soon as you are comfortable in these tasks and responsibilities, you should start picking up Level 2 duties and responsibilities. Get good at them. Make sure those responsible for raises and promotions know what you're doing. Provide weekly reports outlining what you have accomplished, and pointing out exposures and concerns. Pretty soon, you will be assigned Level 2 stuff as a matter of course. Then you go to management and say, "Hey, I'm doing a Level 2 job. Let's make it official. Promote me."

That's how I got six promotions in my first three years with The Company. I got a "step in grade" raise every six months. The usual is two to four years in grade, one small raise a year.

So, no, I don't find proving oneself to a tenure committee all that onerous.


Nowadays, as an old lady retiree, I absolutely refuse to prove myself to anyone. I don't have to do anything that doesn't interest me. You don't like what I'm doing, or how I'm doing it, or when? Go away.

That's why I quit volunteering at the maritime museum. I told them over and over that I didn't want to do anything that involved schedules, or that anyone was depending on. All I wanted to do was clean the showrooms, paint railings, weed flowerbeds, stock shelves in the gift shop, just one-day drop-in stuff. But they kept giving me ongoing responsibilities - because I could handle it where other volunteers could not, and I knew that, and I felt coerced.

So I walked away.


There's a guy on trial up north. He has been found guilty of arson (burned down a coworker's (empty, I think) house), vandalism (spray painted houses and cars of people he argued with), and a few other things. He was found guilty of something like 18 or 20 of 22 charges. But what really gets me is that one of the charges was "terrorism", which carries a life sentence.

Terrorism? I don't get it. Yeah, he's a nasty person, probably a bit sick, but a terrorist? Isn't part of terrorism the attempt to cause a change in people's attitudes or actions? To coerce? They didn't even know it was him. By the court's definition, kids who batter mailboxes with baseball bats from cars are terrorists. Someone who puts a dead fish in a rival's car is a terrorist?

The other thing I don't get is the pronunciation of his name, "Raucci". It seems like an Italian name. I'd pronounce it "Raw-chi". The Italian double C is usually pronounced CH. The news readers consistently pronounce his name "Rossi". Anyone can pronounce their own name any way they want, but wouldn't you usually use the common rules, so you don't have to correct everyone all the time?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

2919 Cold Feet

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

One nice thing about egotists: they don't talk about other people.


I wonder if Daughter has had second thoughts about Mother living across the street. In a phone call today she blathered about "boundaries", and how I might prefer a one-floor ranch, and about how property taxes are very high, and how if I want to move down there, she'd be willing to find me another more suitable house. The implication being "someplace else".

Behind the house I'm looking at, at the end of the back yard, there's a steep descent into a ravine. Apparently, the cliff is part of the property. She said the neighbor was paying $6,000/yr in property taxes, but when the houses were reappraised recently, it went up to $16,000/yr because of that additional property, that apparently hadn't been considered before.

That's ridiculous, of course, because, being unusable and unsaleable, that land has no value. In fact, it's a deficit to the property, since it can be dangerous, and because of some strange building code, you can't have a raised deck on the house - even though the bank is at least 50 feet (probably more) from the house. Therefore it should reduce the value, not increase it.

I don't understand.


Daughter forgets I'm good at internet research. I looked at houses for sale in the area, in the same price range, and the taxes are about the same as or a little less than what I'm paying here. Of course, the ravine is still a question, but I think that could be fought.

2918 Blinded by teeth

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Experience is the thing you have left when everything else is gone.


There was an episode of "Seinfeld" wherein Jerry got his teeth whitened, too white, so that every time he opened his mouth everyone else was blinded.

Raquel Welch was on GMA this morning, and her teeth were that blinding too too white.

I'm seeing that everywhere on TV these days - too white, unreal. Not in real life, though. Ordinary people have ordinary teeth, but TV people seem to be competing for the most blinding teeth. That's beyond annoying, because that means blinding teeth will become a requirement even for ordinary people.

Back in my childhood, when my teeth were brand new, before coffee, tea, cola, cigarettes, they were in the middle of the dentist's color chart. Bleached, they won't ever get any whiter than that. Most of the blinding teeth you see on TV are veneers anyway, not bleached. I've heard that porcelain veneers cost $1,000 to $1,500 per tooth!


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

2917 You are not!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Two can live as cheaply as one, for half as long.


What's with all these commercials where people say things like, "I'm a Jeep", or "I'm a PC".

No, you're not. You're a person, and if you'd lie about that, why should I believe anything else you say?

I don't get it. Kind of negates the whole commercial, doesn't it?

I find it very jarring.

2916 Stink

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Teach a child to be polite and courteous in the home and,
when he grows up, he'll never be able to merge his car onto a freeway.


Saturday, when Daughter and I were walking around Red Bank, she needed a bathroom. She volunteers with Hospice at the hospital, which was right around the corner, and she's known there, so that's where we went.

Half a block from the hospital, I was overcome by a stench. It smelled like rotting restaurant offal. The worst rotted garbage smell I'd ever experienced, and I've often taken stuff to the county dump. It was so bad the air was thick. I was starting to retch.

Now, I normally don't mind odors. I love the scent of fresh sweat on a man. I like a whiff of skunk on a summer breeze. I like the smell of manure spread on spring fields. But this stench was literally making me sick. My face may have turned green.

It got worse the closer we got to the hospital.

It turns out it was the mulch that had been spread on the extensive hospital flower beds.

The mulch looked like ordinary finely shredded bark. The women behind the reception desk said it was probably insecticide added to the mulch.

Now, I've got a whole bunch of questions. What do the hospital's neighbors think of the smell? Is it safe to breathe insecticide that thick? What about patients arriving at the hospital? If my stomach had already been a bit queasy, I guarantee it would be worse by the time I walked in from the parking lot. How long will the smell hang around?

That stuff was BAD!

2915 Typo?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

They told me I was gullible... and I believed them.


I got a visit today from Lexington, Kentucky (Hi, Lexington!) The ISP was listed as "Kentcuky Employers' Mutual Insurance".

Kentcuky? Is that really the name of the company, or is it a typo? The apostrophe is correct....


Later - a Google search turns up a real "Kentucky Employers' Mutual Insurance" company. "Kentcuky" shows up only in the domain name. I can't believe someone let that typo get past.

Monday, March 29, 2010

2914 Folly?

Monday, March 29, 2010

"He who lives without folly isn't so wise as he thinks."
-- Francois de La Rochefoucauld --

Given the topic today, this quote may not be as random as they usually are.

Things are moving fast and in strange directions lately.

In the previous post I mentioned a house being built across the street from Daughter's house. I told The Man about it when I saw him last night, adding that I had figured that if I ever moved, it would be someplace warmer. He laughed and said "New Jersey IS warmer than up here!" (We were in Kingston, NY, at the time.)

He's right. It's a little warmer, and they do get less snow.

I talked with Daughter today, and she gave me the name and phone number of the builder, and the amount he's asking. I talked with Piper and Angelo, and they both think that from a purely financial and lifestyle point of view, it's a good idea. Even if it's not a good idea, it's not a bad idea (i.e., there's almost no way to get hurt). Since I don't have a mortgage on this house, all it would cost me to have both houses for whatever time it takes to sell this one is the $6-7K annual taxes on this house. And then the sale of this house would pay back what I pulled to buy the other house.

  • Across the street from Daughter and Hercules.
  • Across the street from possible future grandbabies and babysitting/petsitting help for Daughter & Hercules.
  • 1/2 block from Raritan Bay, lots of interesting places to walk.
  • Built-in lawn mowing and snow shoveling (Hercules).
  • One more bedroom (4 total, and two of the four are large).
  • Short driveway.
  • I can get the flooring, cabinets, and colors I want.
  • Across the street from pet care when I travel.
  • I might even be able to get a dog.
  • Lots of great shopping.
  • Lower taxes.

  • It's New Jersey.
  • The neighborhood, although very safe, is a bit, uh, ticky-tacky. It's mostly young people starting out and old people ending up.
  • There's a house three doors down with two unregistered cars in the side yard. (On the other hand, I've got my unregistered van sitting in my driveway right now.)
  • It's New Jersey. Look up Superfund sites sometime.
  • Moving. I've got a LOT of stuff. Much of my furniture is heavy old antiques.
  • It's New Jersey.
  • The thought of actually sorting, disposing, packing, and moving is terrifying.
  • Global warming could put Raritan Bay in my living room. After all, it IS New Jersey.

Piper is going to call the builder tomorrow, and see what can be worked out. I can't make an actual firm offer until we discuss finishing materials, but I don't want him to accept another offer until I have a chance.

Wish me luck. Or not. Either way, I win.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

2913 Passing the "Walk Test"

Sunday, March 28, 2010

"Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see."
-- Arthur Schopenhauer --


I drove to NJ yesterday to visit Daughter. We went to Red Bank and windowshopped. Every so often, Daughter "tests" me by making me walk for a few hours, so I made sure I wore comfy shoes.

I told her I knew what she was doing, and there's still a race or two left in this gray mare. (My mother at my current age couldn't fasten her bra without getting out of breath, and if I were my mother, I'd be dead in about 18 months. Daughter remembers.)

One store we stopped in had handmade jewelry and clothing. There was a fitted dressy jacket that looked like it would be perfect for Daughter. The tag said something like $179, but the old guy behind the counter said he'd got a call from his wife, the store owner, that everything on that rack was $50 because she's getting the new spring stuff in. So I bought Daughter a jacket that looks great on her, and is well worth the $50.

We ate at a south Asian vegan restaurant. Good stuff.

I was shocked to see a new 2-story house in the vacant lot across the street from Daughter and Hercules's house. Daughter says it went up in 2 weeks, built by one of her neighbors. The outside is finished, the inside is framed. The door was open, and Daughter said it was ok to go in, so we did. It's going to be really nice - front porch, 4 huge bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, lr, dr, kitchen, breakfast area, attic. No basement, though.

Daughter wants me to buy it and move in. She's going to check on the price.

Hmmmmm. It's an interesting idea, if there are ever any grandchildren it would be nice to be close, but I'd always thought if I went though all the mess of moving, it would be to someplace warm.