Saturday, May 15, 2010

2966 Saturday Muse

Saturday, May 15, 2010

It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that
you would lie if you were in his place.
--H.L. Mencken--


Not much happening. I've been joy riding on back roads. Funny how I become an "attractive blond" in the right car. And the right hat. I can't wait to get on the Thruway.

It's been perhaps 18 to 20 years since I'd driven a car with a manual transmission, and in the four and a half days I've been driving Hal, it's all come back. I clutch and shift automatically already, without even thinking about it. I guess it had become body-knowledge.

Prior to the 1990 Ford Taurus, my first automatic, all my cars had been manual, and I must have been pretty good, because I drove a car an average of 6 to 8 years, and never had to have the clutch adjusted, let alone replaced. Same for the transmission. I also got a higher mpg than expected. Hal might be a little harder to squeeze out mpg, because I can't hear the motor. (According to Hal, I'm getting 25.9 mpg now. I might actually be getting more, but I've been spending a lot of time idling while I read the book and play with all the buttons. This evening I found out how to turn the headlights on! Go me!)


Piper is a big Frank Sinatra fan (when he gets drunk, he sings Sinatra at me), so to thank him for going to NJ and looking at the house with me and advising me on the purchase, I bought him the complete set of Sinatra movie DVDs, and gave them to him yesterday.

We were talking about the van's woes, and he told me about an excellent mechanic just around the corner from me. Says he's used him for years and has been very satisfied. Weird. It's not an auto shop, it's a painting company, but they have a large fleet of trucks, and a mechanic on staff. So I went there and asked, and they are willing to take a look at the van. They'll tow it away on Wednesday.

All else seems to be holding its breath.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

2965 Closer to safe

Thursday, May 13, 2010

It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics or chemistry.
--HL Mencken--


Hal now has a 2-inch extender on his clutch pedal, and he's much easier to control. Captain Vantastic charged me only the cost of the aluminum block, no charge for installation. However, he pointed out a problem I suspected and had asked the salesman about - I'm too close to the airbag in the steering wheel.

I had read long ago that short people are in danger of having their necks broken (or spinal cords stretched) by the force of a too-close airbag. The salesman said that shouldn't be a problem because Hal moderates the force of deployment based on the weight in the driver's seat. BUT! New York state requires 13 inches space between the driver's nose and the bag. I've got only 10.



A simple, cheap, "green" way to sop up oil spills:


Quoting the comment on the video from "maydayfire":
one reason that oil spill clean up companies do not use this method is that for such a natural and simple solution like this, you cant sell it and you cant patent it. When Money/Capitalism becomes the sole motive for scientific firms and companies, such natural and easy solutions are overlooked.
I've heard that before. If someone can't make scads of money on something, that something doesn't happen.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

2964 Rolling

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I don't care who does the electing as long as I get to do the nominating.
--Boss Tweed--


I took Hal (that's the new car's name, because it's half computer, rather imperious about it, and I don't completely trust it yet) out for a test ride early this evening with a throw pillow behind my lower back. The pillow worked fine. When I got home, there was a message on the phone from the salesman with the phone number for the place where I can get the clutch block installed, in Kingston. I'm not sure, but I think it may be the same guy who handled my purchase of the wheelchair van and serviced the electric ramp and door, and he's really good at adapting things. That's great. I thought they were going to send me to someplace in Westchester or something.

Things are movin' along.

2963 Car sedation

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Poor spelling does not prove poor knowledge, but is fatal to the argument by intimidation.
--Gene Ward Smith--


I took Jasper to the vet's today. I wanted to ask if I could sedate him for the 2.5 hour ride to New Jersey, because he throws fits in the carrier. He'd had what appeared to be a seizure during the ride back from the boarding attempt, so he needed to be examined before we could talk about sedation.

The little turd. Toddlers and animals will make a liar of you every time.

Here I am at the vet's talking about how he screams and bloodies his lips and paws on the door and ventilation holes, how he throws his body around and drools, and Jasper? Well, he's nodding off in the carrier. Kind of like when a toddler is running a scorching fever and is unresponsive, and you make the emergency call to the doctor, and when you get there 15 minutes later, the kid is fine and playing happily with toys. Rotten kids and beasties. They make you look like a hysterical parent.

So we now have some tiny pills, and we'll try one once or twice on shorter test-drives before the big trip.


Speaking of driving, I need a block, about two inches of extender, on the clutch in the new car. The salesman was supposed to call me last night with the 800 number to find out where I can have it done, but he didn't call, and time got away from me today, so I didn't call him. But I've decided I really shouldn't drive the new car much until I get the extender. It's really hard on my back. I woke up this morning with my back warning me not to do that again, or else.

Tomorrow I'll try a rolled pillow behind my lower back, but that's only a temporary solution.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

2962 Car Car!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Whenever anyone says, "theoretically", they really mean, "not really".
--Dave Parnas--


Yesterday I went to NJ and the attorney and I worked on the house contract. It needs some changes. Then I visited Daughter at her office, then I drove to Newburgh and had dinner with some Mensans. When I mentioned I needed a way to get to the new car today, Roman volunteered. When I got home, there was a message on my phone from Piper, also volunteering.

So Roman picked me up at noon, and dropped me off at the dealership. The amount of crap that car thinks, does, monitors, and allows me to do is overwhelming. I guess I've got some reading to do.

There is a small problem - when I tried on the 2010 model, it fit me perfectly. However, that was an automatic transmission. I wanted manual. This car fits as far as the gas and brake pedals, just like the 2010, but the clutch is way out there. Even with the seat all the way forward, I have to slide forward and point my toes to fully depress the clutch. The salesman checked, and yes, we can put a block on it (I need about 2 inches), but it has to be done at a special "handicap refitting" shop. I guess having short legs is a valid handicap.

So, I'm driving it with ballerina toes, but I hope not for long. On the way home I stopped by Roman's and gave him a ride, then by Piper's for his ride. And even though it's only 55 degrees F, we had the top down. If you keep the windows up and turn the heat on, it's fine.

The amount of pure power is frightening!

These pictures were taken by Piper:

The white rings around the headlights are the daytime running lights. I don't want to even think about how much replacement "bulbs" must cost.

You can tell how far forward I have the seat by the length of the seat belt. I should be able to move it back a bit once I get the block on the clutch.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

2961 Wind and Babies

Sunday, May 9, 2010

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.
--Isaac Newton--
If I have not seen as far as others, it is because giants were standing on my shoulders.
--Hal Abelson--
In computer science, we stand on each other's feet.
--Brian K. Reed--


Whatever happened to the expression "I have a cold in my back"? It used to mean muscle cramps, which usually resulted from a draft on one's back. You don't hear it at all anymore.


Wind! We had 50 mph gusts yesterday. I went to see "Babies" at the arts theater, and almost couldn't get home. There were trees and large and small branches down on the road everywhere. It was complicated by bridge work. The county has used economic incentive money to replace bridges over the hundreds of streams and creeks and ravines on small roads everywhere, which is good for many reasons, except that they seem to have decided to do them all at once!

The Hairless Hunk cleaned up all the winter-downed branches on my property last week, and the yard looked good. He's going to have to do it all over again. Luckily, nothing has fallen on the house or driveway.

When Jay first moved into this house in the early '80s, his parents gave him a young maple tree as a housewarming gift. They planted it to the side of the house, outside a bathroom window.

Unfortunately, it was planted too close to the woods, and now it's huge and leans toward the house, looming threateningly over the roof. It's unbalanced, with more branch growth on the "open" house side. The Hairless Hunk has recommended that we take it out. I can't cut it down, because it meant a lot to Jay.

Maybe, when I move and sell this house, the new owners will have more sense and less sentimentality.


"Babies", the documentary, was enjoyable. It's perhaps not something you should schedule time for, but if you have some free time and it's showing near you, see it. It is very cute.

I had watched a TV interview with the director last week, and he had said that the movie illustrated that first-world children are over attended, over stimulated, and over scheduled, and it's absolutely not necessary, that children are perfectly happy playing alone with sticks and stones, and a little boredom doesn't hurt them. He said that the Mongolian baby was usually left alone in the yurt for up to eight hours while his mother was working with the herds, and he was perfectly fine.

Well, actually, the film didn't show any of that. You see it, but no point is made. Well, if there is a point, it's that a child must know that they are loved, unconditionally, and that they make their mother smile. Everything else is fluff.

The clearest contrast was the attitude toward dirt. The American and Japanese babies were protected from nature and dirt - the Mongolian and African babies reveled in it, with no harm at all. That's kind of my attitude. Babies should get dirty! The dirtier the better! They should french kiss the dog! I've told Daughter that I intend to sail leaves in the gutters with my grandchild, and dig worms, and make mud pies, and yes, we might even taste them.

(Maybe that's why I have no grandchildren yet.)