Saturday, June 19, 2010

2995 Do BMW's come in lemon flavor?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Henry Louis Mencken, on Shakespeare: "After all, all he did was string together a lot of old, well-known quotations."

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Actually, I heard a kid say pretty much the same as the above quote, but he was absolutely serious. He'd just finished "Hamlet", and said that he didn't think Shakespeare was a very good writer, because he used an awful lot of clich├ęs.

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I think I may have bought a lemon.

The nearest BMW service is 40 minutes away. I was a bit concerned because that's a long way to go if something goes wrong, or for a simple oil change. But everyone said oh don't worry about that, you'll be taking it in only once a year or so.

Well, in the first week, the driver's side door speaker stopped working, and I had to take it in to get the pinched wire fixed.

In the third week, the remote trunk opener stopped working. I have to open it with the button inside the cabin. I figured I could live with that until the next visit, but now the remote trunk open button sets off the alarm. I think that means there's something more wrong than a dead remote button.

In the third week, I noticed that the anti-theft doflinkies don't seem to work consistently. I thought maybe I didn't understand how it was supposed to work, but now I think there's something wrong.

Today the big thing happened. When I started it to go to the craft fair, I got the "Service engine soon" light. This is a Very Bad Thing. The book says I can "finish my trip, but be careful [what the heck does that mean?] and don't drive fast or you can mess up the emissions control system. Get it serviced as soon as possible".

Sheesh.

Four things have gone wrong within five weeks, in a car that wasn't supposed to have any problems, ever.
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2994 Craft Fair Part 2

Saturday, June 19, 2010

"By a curious confusion, many modern critics have passed from the proposition
that a masterpiece may be unpopular to the other proposition
that unless it is unpopular it cannot be a masterpiece."
-- G. K. Chesterton --

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Continued from previous post.

Organic and herbal soaps & cosmetics:

Jams and jellies in all kinds of strange flavors and combinations:

Tarts:

Baskets:

Fruit breads and pies. They actually had sugar-free fruit pies, so I bought a 6-inch blueberry pie.

Biscotti. Again, she had sugar-free, so I bought three containers - almond, lemon, and cappuccino chocolate. I was surprised to find that many of the food vendors had sugar-free wares this year. Or maybe they always had them and I just didn't notice. By the way, everybody offers tastes. You can make a whole (unbalanced) meal in this building.

Painter, I think, maybe photography. I forget.

Shea butter seems very popular, wharever it is:

Handmade Victorian doodads:
Carved wood:

Glass paperweight-sort of things. Those are frilly glass jellyfish inside.

Stained glass with fossil and fossil-like inclusions:

Wooden jewelry boxes:

Soft leather:

Wood:

Pottery (love the Hershey's Kisses):

Leather:

Wooden utensils:

Hats:

There was lots of jewelry, everywhere, some of it very creative. This is not a particularly good photo representation, but when I hit jewelry booths, I was looking, not shooting. (I bought a necklace made of horse shoe nails.)

In many of the booths, craftsmen were actually making things right there (he stepped away just as I took the photo):

Furniture:

I do enjoy the craft fair. My two favorite artists were not there this year. One guy paints the most incredibly detailed local scenes, tiny brush strokes, every blade of grass is individual. The other guy has photos from his travels around the world - mostly architectural detail. I have in the past bought something from each of them about every other year or so. I haven't seen either of them in two or three years. I miss them.
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2993 Craft Fair

Saturday, June 19, 2010

"It is not necessary to understand things in order to argue about them."
--Pierre Beaumarchais--

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I went to the Rhinebeck craft fair today. I think it was very courageous of me, given what happened the last time I went to the fairgrounds, for the antiques fair - I couldn't complete the circuit of the booths because I got so very weak, almost didn't make it back to the car, and that night I lost consciousness twice. I haven't walked any great distance since then, because, frankly, I was afraid to test me. I was afraid the same thing would happen today. If there was something horribly wrong, I didn't want to know. Not until after I've moved, anyway.

It didn't happen again. I made it through all the buildings, visited all the booths, and wasn't tired or weak at all. I swung right along like always before. I am very relieved.

I have occasionally invited people to go to the craft fair with me, and they always say, "Nah, I'll skip it", thinking I guess of little old ladies crocheting doll clothes, the usual church Christmas craft fairs. This is nothing like that. The stuff is all gorgeous, all handmade by true artists, and, unfortunately, mostly outrageously expensive. But it sure is fun to look at.

Forged aluminum platters:

Bags and painted portraits:

Handmade canoes (I overheard someone say they were $3K):

Pottery and stained glass:

Baskets:
One of the three long buildings (there's a fourth large square building). There are two aisles the length of the building, with booths on either side (four rows of booths per building). Most people walk down one aisle looking at things on both sides, then back up the other aisle. I walk down the first aisle looking only to the right, then back up the same aisle, again looking only to the right. That way I don't miss anything, but I end up walking twice the distance.

Glass paperweights:

Pottery:

Scrap sculpture. I didn't use the flash in the building, so I wouldn't disturb anyone, which means the camera had to be held very still. So some of the photos are fuzzy, but I included them anyway, just to show the variety.

This photo is disappointing because it doesn't show the beauty of these whatsises. They are made of thick pieces of natural color heavily weathered and textured old barn wood, and are very three-dimensional. This photo makes them look flat and boring, almost just paintings. They're not! I absolutely love them.

Handmade lamps and shades:

My lunch, a Greek salad with roast chicken, and that yummy yogurt and cucumber sauce on top. Good, but a bit expensive at $9 for the salad and $2 for a small bottle of water.

This is the large rectangular building. Booths around the outside walls, and then three or four "islands" of booths in the middle. This building is mostly craft foods, cosmetics, and a few stray other crafters. This particular photo shows the six or seven local wineries offering tastings. They are always set up along the wall just inside the entrance.

I don't know how many photos one can include in one post, so I'll stop here and continue in the next post.
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Friday, June 18, 2010

2992 More things I don't understand

Friday, June 18, 2010

"All human beings should try to learn before they die
what they are running from, and to, and why."
-- James Thurber --

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I've finally found someone willing to work on the van, and now I can't find the keys.

Typical.

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From yesterday's episode of "The Drs", a true story:

A guy working in a pizzeria was injured when a freezer door swung open unexpectedly and hit him in the back. He needs back surgery. A court ruled that the employer (through workman's compensation insurance?) must pay for the back surgery.

So far, so good. Sounds right and fair to me.

However, the guy weighs well over 300 lbs. Back surgery on someone that overweight is unlikely to be successful, so no reputable surgeon will operate until he loses weight first.

So the court has ruled that the employer must also pay for lap band surgery! If Workman's Comp won't pay for it, the employer must pay out of his own pocket.

What!?! How is the employer responsible for the guy's being too fat for back surgery?

I think this is very wrong.

The result will be that no one will want to hire overweight people, if they'll end up held responsible for the consequences of that obesity.

Bad bad bad court!

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Just found an article on the above: http://www.weightlosssurgerychannel.com/breaking-wls-news/lap-band-surgery-to-be-covered-by-pizza-shop.html/

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On POTUS radio today, two guys were discussing what that mineral discovery in Afghanistan might mean to the Afghan people.

The "expert" said not much, that the local warlords and government officials would be putting the profits into their personal bank accounts, and the Afghan people won't see much improvement in their lives from it, that in fact it's happening already. China has been for some time paying warlords and certain government officials for the right to mine in Afghanistan.

Both the interviewer and the expert were unhappy with that.

That left me wondering. What did they want to see happen? That the general population would share in the wealth somehow, sort of like some oil-rich middle eastern countries, where every citizen gets a cut of the oil money, so much so that most of them have no need to work? Or like Alaska, where citizens get a cut of oil and gas contracts? Isn't that, um, socialism? [Wikipedia defines socialism as "a social and economic system (or the political philosophy advocating such a system) in which the economic means of production are owned and controlled collectively by the people.]

I suspect that local people are working in the Chinese mines, so they have a job and are getting paid. The profits are going to the top dogs. If you want to make a whole bunch of money, you just have to grow yourself into a top dog. Um, isn't that the essence of capitalism?

So, um, if capitalism is so wonderful and socialism is so bad, what exactly is the problem with what's happening in Afghanistan?
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Thursday, June 17, 2010

2991 Garter Glutton

Thursday, June 17, 2010

No matter how far wrong you’ve gone, you can always turn around.

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I was picking black raspberries in the front flowerbed (told ya it was overtaken by weeds!) a few minutes ago, and almost stepped on a green and yellow striped garter snake.

He was about 14 inches long, very slender, and he had a bulge in his middle third so large that he could barely move.

I suspect I have one fewer chipmunk.

I thought garter snakes ate only bugs and other itty-bitty things like worms and tree frogs. They have small mouths, and I didn't think they are big or strong enough to crush a chipmunk skull. I don't understand how he could have swallowed something as large as that bulge.

-----------------------------

Later, after reading the Wikipedia entry on garter snakes:

Ahah! The other possibility is that it's a she, and she's very pregnant, and about to give birth! Garter snakes mate in the spring, gestation is 2 to 3 months, the young are born live, and she can have anywhere from 3 to 80 babies. So the timing fits, and the location of the bulge fits.

That makes more sense.
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2990 I am small, too.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"The word 'politics' is derived from the word 'poly', meaning 'many',
and the word 'ticks', meaning 'blood sucking parasites'."
-- Larry Hardiman --

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People are all upset at the BP guy's reference to "the small people".

Oh, come on. Give it up! By "the small people" he means the ordinary folks who don't have gazillion-dollar lawyers behind them, who don't have power, who can't force anyone with power to recognize them, and anyone who doesn't recognize that is an idiot and is just looking for any little thing to complain about, to get people emotionally worked up. I don't think the term needs to be attributed to "an error in translation", demonstrates arrogance, or needs an apology. You are a "small person" when compared to multinational corporations - or any corporation or government, for that matter.

Hell of a lot of misplaced anger and emotional drum-beating going around. Get over it, folks. It was an accident. Now focus on the real issues.
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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

2989 Not depressed. Disgusted. All is Futile!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"At least two-thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity,
human malice and those great motivators and justifiers
of malice and stupidity: idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal
on behalf of religious or political ideas."
-- Aldous Huxley --

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I spent a little time this afternoon reading through posts in this journal from 2008. Don't remember why I went there, but I was amazed that back then, I had well-thought-out opinions on lots of things, and I wrote about them.

Even before there were blogs, or even computers, I always used to write about my thoughts. Writing things down helped me to organize my opinions, explore them fully, test them. It worked better than talking about them with others, because if the other person disagreed, I'd back down, lose the thread, start to doubt myself, give up before my thoughts were fully formed.

I don't know what's been going on for the past year. I don't seem to be thinking about things. Don't seem to have all that many opinions.

Part of it might be that I'm not listening to talk radio as much. Not reading magazines. Not visiting political and news blogs so much. When things do drift past, I think, "Oh, I need to think about that a bit", and then my mind sort of wanders off.

I've got a whole stack of things saved in bookmarks or Bloglines that I wanted to comment on, but when I go back and look at them later, I decide they're not so important to me any more.

Maybe I just don't want to get angry. I don't think it's depression, because I still enjoy things, and still want to go out to fun things. Maybe I'm just tired of the stupidity of the masses out there. I don't want to think about it any more. I don't want to think about or deal with the idiots who, for example, now seem to think that it was Obama who gave the gazillion dollars to bail out the banks. And so on.

It's not depression. It's disgust.

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Sort of the same topic, and an example.

On NPR in the car today, a woman from Woodstock, NY, was talking about throwing a prom/benefit in Woodstock later this month for Constance McMillen. She's the girl who wanted to wear a tuxedo and take her girlfriend to her high school prom, but the principal/school board canceled the prom rather than allow it.

Some parents of other students organized a private prom, to which she was not invited, since it was her fault the school prom had been canceled.

The girl, with the assistance of the ACLU, is suing the school district administration for subjecting her to humiliation.

Now, here's the kicker. Since the story was picked up by the media, she's been interviewed on several national TV news and talk shows, she will be the Grand Marshall of the NYC gay pride parade, they're throwing this big-name benefit/party/prom for her in Woodstock, and they're making a movie of the situation and the making of the benefit, which movie they expect to go international.

My thoughts in the car were, "Doesn't all the positive attention she's getting kind of negate the 'lingering effects' of the humiliation? If she were truly humiliated, wouldn't she be more shy about it? What effect will all this have on her lawsuit? If the lawsuit is to make a point about prejudice toward gays, is she hurting rather than helping that cause by jeopardizing her case?"

When I got home and looked up details on the internet, I got disgusted. I don't want to think about it any more. Especially after I found out about Juin Baize, a cross-dressing student in Constance's school who suffered even worse harassment than Constance. Constance didn't get to go to the prom. Boohoo. How sad. Juin got suspended, expelled, and eventually his family was hounded out of town. So, uh, why is Constance getting all the attention, and Juin gets none?

I don't even want to think about it any more.

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By the way, why is it that we know all about the oil in the gulf, but we know nothing about the horrific flooding all over Europe? Many towns and villages under water.

Just an example of how we are shaped by what the media chooses to tell us, or not tell us.
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2988 Shifting the Blame

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time;
it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable."
-- Sidney J. Harris --

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I wrote the following in my post " 2108 Ok, I'm a Conspiracy Nut", dated November 9, 2008, when it seemed to me that the Republican party was royally screwing up the campaign, doing everything possible to ensure that they lost the election:
The pundits are all blathering about the "split" in the Republican party. I think there's another split they've missed. I think The Powers of the Republican party didn't really want to win this election. It helps to explain some of the stupidities of the Republican campaign.

The next President is inheriting a royal mess. There are things that will have to be done that will be very unpopular. Many of those actions will look very socialistic, which will strongly alienate the Republican voting base, who will not understand the absolute necessity for those actions. Many problems will require more than four years to show improvement.

So if the next President and Congress does a good job, and gets things turned around and headed onto the right track, it probably won't pay off during the first term, and it could be at the cost of popularity. So why not let the Democrats take that heat, instead of the Republicans? 2012 is the right time to waltz in and reap the benefits.

So, did I call it, or did I call it?
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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

2987 Touchdown

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

" I don't believe in an afterlife, so I don't have to spend my whole life
fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of
hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse."
-- Isaac Asimov --

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I am amused that the above random quote from my collection happened to come up for this entry.

I am also amused that Touchdown Jesus (a.k.a. King of Kings, that enormous 6-story torso rising out of a pond in Monroe, Ohio) was hit by lightning last night and burned down to the metal framework. Story everywhere, just search for touchdown Jesus.

[Photo credit - Morhange.]

I am amused that this was an "act of God", although I doubt Most Christians will see it that way.

Something that has always bothered me about Christianity is the way so many Christians worship Jesus, pray to Jesus. I have visions of Jesus begging God to forgive him: "I didn't mean for that to happen! I didn't mean to take your place! They did it themselves!", but God remains pissed.

I consider all those representations of Jesus, especially those in, on, or in front of churches, to be idols, graven images. An object of veneration in the place of God. If you want to represent God, plant a tree.

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P.S. I do not consider myself Christian, precisely because of that. I will follow the teachings, because they were good teachings, but those teachings were meant to lead us to God, not to divert us to the teacher.

And yeah, there's the "trinity" thing. Another diversion to justify the making of the idol. Doesn't fly.
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Sunday, June 13, 2010

2986 Secret in their eyes

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.
After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

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I saw a movie this evening - "The Secret in Their Eyes". I very highly recommend it. See it if it's anywhere near you.  [Later Note - this is the 2009 Argentine movie, not the 2015 remake.  The remake is crap.]

It won an Oscar for best foreign-language film (Spanish, English subtitles). I'm not usually aware of the technical aspects of movies, but this was some of the best direction and camera work I've seen in ages. The male and female lead were excellent, the eyes and their secrets are all over the place.

The New Yorker review is here: http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/cinema/2010/04/19/100419crci_cinema_denby.

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Yes, I've changed the template for this blog, not entirely on purpose. The way Blogger used to work it, you could try out various templates, and if you didn't like the new one, you could always go back to the old one. They've got some new templates and a new interface. Unfortunately, the old template I had been using no longer exists, so after I'd tried a few of the new ones, I couldn't go back.

This was the least offensive of the new ones.
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2985 Mid-June Doldrums

Sunday, June 13, 2010

"People are more violently opposed to fur than leather
because it's safer to harass rich women
than motorcycle gangs."

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I haven't been very bloggy lately. I don't know why. I guess because there's not a lot happening in my life right now that I want to save for later reference (the REAL purpose of this journal), and nothing I have to let off steam about.

There are a few troubling things. First Woman has, I think, been self-adjusting her meds, and I think she is headed for a major crash. She's been taking violent offense at the most innocent things and attacking people left and right, to the point where people are very angry with her. She's the president of the local Mensa chapter, and people would like to remove her or have her censured. I'm worried that attacking back will push her into something drastic, like suicide. That's not excessive. I understand she has attempted it before.

I would feel very guilty if I saw it coming and did nothing, but a) I don't know what I could do, since off her meds she would see nothing wrong with her, it's everyone else who's wrong, and b) I am frankly very afraid of her. I know that's my problem, that I'm afraid to say anything to arouse her anger, but there it is. Do they make courage pills? Usually it's the family who sees what's happening and steps in or contacts the doctor, but she has no family, and at this point, no friends. Last night I sent an email to that effect to several active Mensa members, particularly those whom she has attacked, asking if anyone has any experience with interventions, and have not yet had any response.

A little compassion is in order, but I suspect her outrageous attacks have killed it before it could start.

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In other news, still no closing date on the new house. The sale of stock is going to pay for it, to be replaced when this house sells, but the stock market has been especially volatile ever since I signed the contract, so I hesitate to sell until I absolutely have to. Worse, the sale of my BP stock was going to be a large portion of the payment. Ick. BP, by the way, is listed as a "buy" by most market analysts right now, because the price is low, they have oodles of assets, and they won't be allowed to die. That "too big to fail" theory. Uh huh.

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Some cool things from Google maps:

The first find is a natural surface formation in Alberta, Canada. See http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=50%C2%B0+0%2738.20%22N+110%C2%B0+6%2748.32%22W&sll=45.504618,-73.568459&sspn=0.007986,0.021136&ie=UTF8&t=h&ll=50.009739,-110.114443&spn=0.008233,0.022724&z=16.

The second is in Australia. Some people have said they're buildings, but I don't think so. I think they may be something like mine entrances. Anyway, they look like USB cords and plugs. See http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=embed&hl=en&q=Waubra+Victoria+3352,+Australia&sll=-37.571029,143.851835&sspn=0.013912,0.01929&ie=UTF8&cd=1&geocode=FUPuxf0dV8aPCA&split=0&hq=&hnear=Waubra+Victoria,+Australia&t=h&ll=-37.329065,143.610352&spn=0.003839,0.006448&z=17

Of course, you can use the controls on the left of the map to zoom in or out for a better view.
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A not-so-cool-thing.

This is downright scary! I don't understand how something like this is legal, unlicensed. Is it real? Switched.com thinks it is.

It's a laser pointer, portable, and powerful. The cautionary note from the company's own literature:
Warning: Extremely dangerous is an understatement to the power of 1W of laser power. It will blind permanently and instantly and set fire quickly to skin and other body parts, use with extreme caution and only when using the included eye protection. Customers will be required to completely read and agree to our Class IV Laser Hazard Acknowledgment Form.
I don't know how big or heavy it is, although the pictures make it look like a Star Wars light saber, and I understand that it's meant for wonks who want to build their own home theaters and stuff, but hey! The darn thing is dangerous! And if it's as "portable" as it looks, it is a weapon. Blinds instantly and permanently? Sets fire to skin? Not just burns - sets fire to! And unlike a gun, you don't have to aim for it to have effect. Just wave it around.

The kicker - it costs $197.97. Less than a handgun.

The company ships it with a CD about the dangers, and a lengthy instruction sheet, but you know darn well wonks and miscreants who buy this thing will take it out of the box, turn it on, and aim it at the nearest wall, or randomly out the window, without reading or watching anything. Or at poor kitty. Oops - dangerous moth there, kitty! Fwooooomph! Moth caught you!

Info here:
http://dvice.com/archives/2010/06/spyder-iii-the.php
http://www.wickedlasers.com/lasers/Spyder_III_Pro_Arctic_Series-96-37.html
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