Saturday, July 17, 2010

3028 I am like a dead writer?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

So many religions. So little God.


I guess I'll have to find out who David Foster Wallace is, or was, and read something he wrote.
I submitted three separate samples of my writing to an analysis tool - a blog entry, a private diary entry, and a letter to a friend - and in every case I got

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Hmmmmm. Maybe it was just stuck on D.F.W. this evening? Any opinion from anyone who might be familiar with him?


3027 Van is another step closer to moving

Saturday, July 17, 2010

"I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."
-- Stephen Roberts --


The above quote is really, really, worth thinking about. Understand that the person being spoken to is not necessarily Christian.


Vic came by last evening and finished working on the van brakes. He tested the A/C and was surprised to find that it worked fine after having sat in the driveway for more than two years. He added a little more whatsis gas to it, and it worked better.

So now I have to find out why one front tire keeps going flat, add some brake fluid, locate the current insurance card, get it registered, and then get it over to the Captain's shop where they can work to figure out why the "check engine" goes on, and why it ate the battery.

He did talk a lot last evening, but I didn't get that too-cosy flirtatious vibe I got from him before. I don't know what happened since the last time, when I had to be rescued by the cavalry, but I don't mind at all. (Hmmm. Maybe he picked up on my reaction to the arrival of the cavalry. I don't suppose he had to be too sensitive to get the idea.)

Friday, July 16, 2010

3026 No one's looking! Let's steal something!

Friday, July 16, 2010

"The beauty and intricacy of a person's mind
has little or nothing to do with outward appearances."


Two years after installing them, Arizona has decided to discontinue use of automated cameras on Arizona freeways aimed at catching speeders. According to the New York Times article, Arizona is "bowing to the wishes of a vocal band of conservative activists who complained that photo enforcement intruded on privacy and was mainly designed to raise money."

I don't understand.

The comments on the Times story and the Wall Street Journal blog entry didn't enlighten me, either.

Apparently it's ok to invade the privacy of other people that "we" don't like (ok to hassle anyone who looks vaguely Hispanic, or ok to burst into the bedrooms of possible gays), but not ok to intrude on "our" privacy? Hey, if you don't want your wife to know you were on a certain street when you were supposed to be at work, then don't speed on that street, then you don't have to worry about her seeing the mailed ticket and photo.

Besides, if nobody breaks any laws, then nobody pays any fines, so what's the "designed to raise money" objection? That doesn't make any sense.

I was surprised at the number of commenters who had the attitude that if the police didn't see them breaking the law, then it's ok to break the law (and endanger others). One commenter said, "If the referee doesn’t call a foul, it’s not a foul." Please tell me that isn't a tenet of that "sportsmanship" thing I hear is so valuable to teach our youth.

Sorry. As far as I'm concerned, whether anyone sees the foul or not, even if the person you fouled against isn't aware, it was still a foul, and you should be ashamed. Even if a police officer did not see you speed or run the light, you still broke the law and should suffer the consequences.

Following the twisted logic of those commenters, if no one sees you shoplift, then it's ok to shoplift. It's apparently not a crime to break the law, the only crime is getting caught. And these idiots want to make the catchers follow their rules, even if the miscreants themselves don't have to follow any rules.

These people make me sick.

I wonder if they'd be happier if Arizona raised taxes to quintuple the law enforcement budget, pulled police officers out of neighborhood beats so none could come to 911 calls, hired more officers, and put a cop with a radar gun every quarter mile on the highways. I have a feeling they still wouldn't be happy --- because it's not the cameras they object to, it's the getting caught.

3025 Want want! Gimme!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Holding resentment is like drinking poison and
expecting the other person to die. It doesn't work.


Actor Isaiah Mustafa (pant, pant), of the Old Spice commercials, and a team of "creatives, tech geeks, marketers and writers" made over 150 short videos (pant pant, yummy!) over Tuesday and Wednesday of this past week, spending no more than an average of 7 minutes per video, including script. They immediately posted them on YouTube.

The group seeded various social networks with an invitation to ask questions of Mustafa's character, a dashing shirtless man [I want! - Silk] with over-the-top humor and bravado [yummy! - Silk]. Then all the responses were tracked and users who contributed interesting questions and/or were high-profile people on social networks are being responded to directly and by name in short [under a minute, which goes much too quickly - Silk], funny YouTube videos.
The first video I saw was this one: Unfortunately, this particular one doesn't have an imbed button. I don't know why not - it's a regular Old Spice commercial, not one they made in that marathon session - but do go watch it. It's the best of all and introduces the character.

Here's a selection from the "answers" shorts:

The worst thing about these clips is that you can look but not touch, and oh do I want to touch!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

3024 Hallucinations

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"Be who you are and say what you feel,
because those who mind don't matter
and those who matter don't mind."
-- Dr. Seuss --


I listened to a TED Talk today (see the July 14 post) on hallucinations. The speaker said that people who are blind have vivid visual hallucinations, and people who are deaf have musical hallucinations. I was reminded of how once he went blind, Jay had hallucinations that seemed very real to him.

Back when I was a little more than a bit "off", in my 20s and early 30s, I used to imagine conversations with people at work, rehearsing so to speak, especially when it was going to be awkward or stressful, but I guess I did it so thoroughly that I fully believed we had already had the conversation. The memory was very clear to me. I distinctly remember what I had said, what they had said, their reactions, everything. Only trouble was, of course, that it had never actually happened. And then I'd get in trouble because even though I had a clear memory of having told someone that some part of the project would be late or whatever, it had never actually happened.

About that same time, I dreamed a lot, and some of those dreams were so clear that I couldn't be sure that they were dreams and not memories. I couldn't tell the difference.

I don't know if any of that is technically hallucinating, but the effect is the same.

I haven't suffered from any of that in almost 30 years. These days I can tell the difference between real and imaginary, although I have noticed a certain problem with short-term memory. If something goes by quickly, I don't always manage to get it "stored". (It started when I had the Versed during the endoscopy in 2005 - post here. Versed is dangerous to memory, and they don't tell you that! In fact, they won't usually even tell you you're getting Versed (pronounced VER-sed))

Anyway, something happened a few days ago that had me very worried about my mental state.

In the evening, I had a memory of something happening earlier in the day, and I wasn't sure that it had actually happened, or whether it was a false memory. I really truly wasn't sure whether it was fact, or a burst of imagination, hallucination. Which was scary because I haven't had that problem in 30 years, and if I imagined it and couldn't tell the difference, well, I'm losing it.

The memory, or hallucination, was of a quick, tactile, auditory, and visual experience, and such an enormous surprise that I didn't react. I didn't react because I didn't know how to react. And then it was gone as quickly as it had arrived, and I moved on to other things. If it was real it was so quick it may not have been stored immediately - the Versed short-term memory problem.

The fact that I couldn't get it out of my head when I went to bed, and then dreamed about it, with extensions, made it worse the next day. I thought I was going crazy. It wasn't the memory that upset me, but that I didn't know whether it was real or imagined. It could have been imagined because it was something I wanted, but can't have, like a horse in the back yard (I want one!), or the fox back in the front yard, or world peace. It could have been real. That I didn't know, scared me.

I may have got a tiny confirmation yesterday (like mysterious hoofprints in the backyard). Or maybe I'm just reading into it. Whatever. The fact that it may have been real doesn't change the fact that I wasn't sure, and that still scares me.

3023 I disapprove!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Don't taunt the alligator until after you've crossed the creek.


I guess the above quote could apply to Vic. I may have to go a step farther and flirt a little.


NBC's Today show this morning did a piece on walking/running shoes. The word "support" was used a lot.

Why do people think feet need "support"? In their natural original form, they don't! Feet have been naturally engineered to support the body for standing, walking, and running, and for providing a shock absorber for the back. In their natural form, they are perfect for that.

When a part of your body has spent weeks or months in a cast or brace, the muscles atrophy, and if it's a tight cast, especially when you're growing, it can misshape the bones. This "support" myth has parents cramming toddler feet into hard-soled shoes that shape the foot and don't allow the muscles in the foot, ankle, and calf to develop as designed. Lacing the instep down tightly can flatten the arch.

So yeah, I guess all these self-appointed experts saying that the foot needs "support" do need support, because their feet, and the feet of those they advise, have been purposely damaged since toddlerhood.

I'm lucky. My feet were so tiny that my mother couldn't find "proper" hard-soled shoes to fit me. I grew up in soft booties and barefoot. When I started school, the authorities insisted on proper hard shoes, so I stumbled around in shoes that were too big, with cotton stuffed in the toes. As soon as I got home from school every day they came off. My feet are very happy, thank you. I do not feel a need for "support".

When Daughter was small, I kept her in booties or barefoot as much as I could, and when schools insisted on shoes to protect the sole, I went with soft shoes, like tennis or boat shoes.

Now I'm hearing that parents are putting high heels on little girls.

Many people object to it because of the sexualizing of the children. I am disgusted by the damage they're doing to the kids' legs and feet. I can't be the only person who thinks about stuff like that, can I?


Heidi Klum, in an AP interview, talking about how she lost the baby weight: "...I also do not sit on the couch with my feet up and eat one potato chip bag after the next, and ..."

Do people usually eat potato chip bags? And how do you eat one after the next? Temporal dissonance there.


Picture in the newspaper of a young couple, Jay and Megan Mkrtschjan. If that name isn't misspelled, it should be.


I have come across another couple "engaged" for ten years, with three kids, who "can't afford to get married". It still pisses me off as much as ever. The official paper and a JP costs a few dollars. What they should say is that they can't afford the big fancy party wedding.

But even that isn't the truth.

They really just don't want to officially commit, and they can't look each other in the eye and say that. Otherwise, they could go the JP route, and then have the big wedding when they can finally afford it, if ever.

Yeah. It's the commitment they can't do.

Actually, "they" is probably inaccurate. I suspect it should be "he". As long as they aren't married, and especially if there are children, he has a threat over her head, whether it has ever been spoken or not. And she foolishly thinks the kids are enough of a hold on him.


I have to sell stock and pay bills today. I wonder if that has contributed to my disapproving mood.

I was in a discussion a few days ago with someone who is also upset about a lot of things going on in the country and the world. She said that people have to take action, have to DO something, and that she felt guilty because she didn't see that there was anything she could do that would make any difference. Bandaids are not a solution.

I thought about that a while. You know, there are a few people whose death would at least shut them up, keep them from spreading hate and divisiveness. It's a quick and easy solution to at least one small part of one problem to take the gun in the den drawer, point it, and shoot it. At least one can feel one acted.

Maybe assassins aren't as crazy as I thought they were. Or maybe I'm that crazy.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

3022 Wandering the net

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"Those who can laugh without cause have either
found the true meaning of happiness
or have gone stark raving mad."
-- Norm Papernick --


Well, Vic called at 5:30ish this evening to say he wouldn't be here to work on the van this evening or tomorrow. Friday for sure. Ok.

He and the builder are racing. What's that race called where whoever comes in last wins?


Piper told me at lunch yesterday to get ready to sell the second third of stock today or tomorrow, but not until he calls and tells me to. We're selling stock to buy the new house 1/3 at a time. I sold the first third a few weeks ago.

Looking at graphs today was shocking. The market had been climbing from that long drop, right up until late April, and then almost the day I signed the contract, everything dropped precipitously. It's just now starting to rise again, so I figured out which stocks are back to where they had been, and marked them for selling.

Naturally, those are exactly the ones all the analysts say are "hold" or "buy". That's painful.


If you've never heard of the TED Talks (TED = Technology, Education, Design), you're missing something. BMW sent me some CDs with 16 of them, and I've been listening to and enjoying them in the car. You can browse the offerings at They are each about 20 minutes long. Online, they are videos, but it's not necessary to watch them (in fact, that's a little distracting), you can just listen to them. I'm going to download the audio to CD to add to the car collection. They're free for personal use, so there's no copyright issue.


Kulula is a South-African airline with a sense of humor. This,, is a real paint job on one of their planes, the "Flying 101" design, which humorously labels all the parts of the plane.


Here,, is an essay entitled "The Disappearing Intellectual in the Age of Economic Darwinism". It's slightly long (but 95% of the length is comments, so don't be discouraged by the indicator over there on the far right of your browser) and rather dense, but it expresses exactly what's been bugging me more and more over the past 10 years. It scares me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

3021 The urban race; the slapping of fingers

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"For most of history, Anonymous was a woman."
-- Virginia Woolf --


I have signed up for the NYC Great Urban Race on August 28th! The Man has agreed to do it with me. It's for charity, and I further signed up to benefit St. Jude's. If I can get $250 in donations, I get to wear a red "St. Jude Hero" cape during the race.

It's kind of a combination road rally and scavenger hunt, except that you do it on foot or public transportation - no taxis allowed. Teams of two get clues to various places in the city, you have to figure it out, go there, and take a picture of the two of you there, and fulfill a few challenges along the way. I don't expect to win, but it should be fun.

Apparently they have this event in various cities all over the country every year.

I have not yet received the packet in the mail with details about how people go about donating, but I've already got $50 promised from Piper and The Angel. You do get credit for the donation on your income taxes, so if anyone wants to donate (you do know St. Jude's, right? The Danny Thomas hospital?), leave a comment and I'll get back to you with the details.


My to-do list for today included a trip to the bank to deposit some checks, find lunch, shop for plants for the pots on the new front flower bed, and pay bills (overdue again!). All I got done was the trip to the bank and lunch.

After the bank, I stopped in Piper's office to find out if he had forgiven me yet for raking him over the coals for sending me spam emails. He gets a lot of those politically motivated "let's embarrass some politician we don't like" made-up exposé things, the kind Snopes likes to debunk, and he sent me one last week that was just about the last straw. If you remember some of last week's posts, I was pretty disgusted with the general stupidity I'd been seeing all around, and I fired off a reply that straightened folks out a bit on the truth, and ended with
"You have a moral responsibility to now forward a correction to everyone to whom you sent the original (crap) misinformation. You also have a moral responsibility to do fact checking before you make the same mistake again on the next piece of crap that comes by."
As if that wasn't bad enough, I copied everyone he'd forwarded it to, plus the woman who sent it to him and everyone she had forwarded it to, AND the guy who sent it to her and everyone on his forward list, and so on for four levels of forwards.

I have debunked every prior piece of trash Piper has sent and asked him to also forward the corrections to his list, and I have asked him not to send me any more unless he has verified it before sending it. But he and I are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, and I think he's trying to "educate" me. He's educating me with garbage that he accepts as truth because he wants to believe it, I'm countering with the real truth, and he just doesn't "get it" yet. He should have known better than to send it to me. So I don't feel the least bit guilty for how I responded. He, however, was very upset and said that I had embarrassed him in front of his friends and business associates.

So today I stuck my head in his office door and asked if I was forgiven yet (not that I need forgiveness), and he said yes, and when I said I was going to lunch, he offered to take me to lunch. Naturally, he likes slow places. And Vincent joined us. By the time we'd finished lunch, it was raining. All the places I wanted to look at plants are outside, so I gave up.

I never did get to the bills. Sigh.


Vic was supposed to come this evening to work on the van, but called about 5:30 (I was outside, so he left a message) to cancel. He'll be here tomorrow. Or Thursday. But definitely this week. Probably.

Monday, July 12, 2010

3020 Twisted

Monday, July 12, 2010

"Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth."
-- Lillian Hellman --


I've mentioned that the green quotes that start these entries are bits I have saved because they amuse me or make me think - whether or not I agree with them is immaterial.

About a month ago I used this one:

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

Sounds good, eh? But did you really think about what it's saying?

The first sentence is easy. If you did something you regret, after a while the regret lessens.

The second sentence is not so easy. The top level meaning is that if you did not do something that you later realize you should have done, you will never get over the regret.

But go deeper.

You don't regret the failure to act - you regret the decision not to act. At the time, you considered it and decided that the financial, temporal, social, or psychological cost was too high. If there was no decision, there is no regret.

For example, you didn't invest in Microsoft's 1986 IPO. There's no regret because you'd never heard of the company. No decision, nothing to regret. But then after you had heard of it in 1990 and decided not to invest, then you have something to regret. Wrong decision, you fool.

So what's the lesson?

You should always do everything it crosses your mind to do, the decision should always be to act, in fact you shouldn't analyze it at all, shouldn't subject it to the decision process at all, because if you act and are wrong, you'll eventually get over it, but if your decision is not to act and you are wrong, you'll never get over it. So to avoid a life filled with regret, always act. Do it, whatever it is.

Um, there's something wrong with that. That's taking the governor off. Mr. Harris is telling me to be a psychopath.

See what I mean about thinking about the quotes? A lot of them don't say what you think they say. Sometimes things aren't as good as they sound.

3019 Honeymoon

Monday, July 12, 2010

"Punctuality is the virtue of the bored."
-- Evelyn Waugh --


It hadn't ever occurred to me before, but even though I've been married three times, I've never had a proper fancy honeymoon. I'm not even sure what a honeymoon is supposed to be like. I imagine it as getting away from regular life, job, family, being romantic and relaxing, a lot of snuggling and talking, stuff like that. Like a really nice vacation "with benefits".

Ex#1 had come home on leave from Germany to attend my college graduation (in August), and informed me that we were getting married immediately. (I didn't want to, but that's another story.) Quick wedding, and then since I had arranged to rent a room in a widow's home in Gettysburg to start my teaching job and he had to return to Germany, we spent the three days remaining of his leave in a one-room hunting cabin somewhere in the Pennsylvania woods that a friend had offered him. I got to keep house and play maid and servant for three days with no electricity, a well with a pump, a wood stove, an outhouse, no tub or shower, and oil lanterns. And no curtains on the windows. It was very damp and hot. Sorry. I can't consider that a honeymoon.

Ex#2 and I had a very small informal wedding, and then we went somewhere for a few days, I don't remember where, but it wasn't very far, not very special. Certain parts of his anatomy, um, didn't work. Before we were married, I thought his lack of pressure for intimacy was respect for me, and I was impressed. He, in fact, had told me about a torrid relationship with another woman (which turned out to be a myth), so I was even more impressed with his respect for me. Well, it wasn't respect. I guess he thought simply getting married would fix the problem. When it didn't, he withdrew completely from me, didn't speak to me for the whole trip.

When we returned, we discovered that his sister had "decorated" my house with corn flakes. They were everywhere - in the bed, in my clothing drawers, in the pockets of clothes in the closets, in every dish, bowl, and cup in the cupboards, in vases and decorative bottles.

That wasn't bad enough. She had added water to the corn flakes in all the containers. It had rotted and fermented, grown mold, and attracted bugs. Maggots. The stink was incredible. I had a collection of decorative bottles with narrow necks, and it was impossible to clean the crud out of them - I had to throw them all away. This after a week with a new husband who had refused to acknowledge my presence in the room or car rather than have to talk about the problem.

I didn't consider any of that much of a honeymoon, either. Not according to what I had imagined a honeymoon should be.

Jay and I got married in the judge's chambers with my daughter and a friend of hers as witnesses, and then we just came back to this house and went on with life. But every day with Jay was like a honeymoon, so I didn't miss the "hey, we're newlyweds" bit, and we did have some nice trips over the remaining few years that were every bit as romantic as a honeymoon. In fact, on those trips, we were always asked if we were newly wed, even that last trip to Hawaii, when he was so sick.

So, did I miss anything? Is a proper honeymoon trip everything it's cracked up to be?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

3018 Four days in July

Sunday, July 11, 1020

"I shall never be ashamed of citing a bad author if the line is good."
-- Seneca --


Wow. I haven't visited since Wednesday. I didn't realize it's been that long. Nope, haven't been busy, or sick, just distracted I guess.

Thursday evening I went to dinner with a Mensa group at a Moroccan restaurant in Saugerties, "Fez" (which is the name of one of the cities in Morocco that I had visited in April). I couldn't find a website, so wasn't able to look at the menu before I went, so I was a bit disappointed that the choices were heavy on lamb. I don't like lamb, and the chicken dishes were heavily spiced, so I ended up with the steak. Everyone else got more exotic fare, and were pleased.

There were seven or eight of us, and the organizer requested separate checks, which is not usual. She had to leave early, and I found out why she wanted separate checks. "T", who had been sitting next to her, had a tab of $14.42. He put the money on the table on top of his tab, and left. I picked it up to give to the waiter, and discovered he'd left only $12, which didn't cover the cost of his food, let alone tax and tip. I added another $3 and apologized to the waiter.

I sent an email to the organizer and told her about it, and she said yes, he always does that, when they get a combined check she always has to ask him for more money.

This guy is supposed to be smart, right? He was also a member of my Meetup movie group, and he's the one who was angry and scolded me because a) I'd scheduled movies on nights he had other things scheduled, and b) I selected restaurants that didn't cater to his vegan diet.


On Friday I went to Poughkeepsie and picked up Hal from the BMW spa. He's all pretty and spiffy again. Stopped for lunch on the way back, and somehow didn't get home until after 4 pm. It was very humid, and the Hairless Hunk was working on the flower bed paving, and sweating like I've never seen him sweat.

On the way up the street, I had passed his wife and waved to her. She walks a LOT! Almost every time I head out or return home, she's walking up or down the street, in snow, wind, rain, heat or cold. I've wondered about that a lot.

Now that school's out, one of his daughters has been turning up when he's working in the yard. It's obvious she (there's an older boy, this girl is the oldest daughter) worships her Daddy. It's cute.


Saturday a Mensa group was supposed to meet at Storm King Art Center. It had rained overnight, and was still raining in the morning, so the organizer, her daughter, and I were the only ones to show up, and it stopped raining within a half hour of our arrival.

The place is huge, and it's a long walk from end to end and back, but they have trams with drivers who will tell you what you're looking at, so we took that. You can get off at any point and catch the next one.

It's mostly huge I-beam or stone constructions, which leave me a bit cold, but I was very pleased with the landscaping. The grounds are beautiful. As you drive the NYS Thruway, you can see some of the structures off to the east south of Newburgh.

Me, thighs. Note the steam rising off the mountains. The red thing behind me in the field is one of the "sculptures". Uh, ok. I still don't get it.

The organizer of the outing and her daughter.

This piece was made of bits of wood. (From the side, and a slight distance, it looked like the back end of a horse that had run into and become embedded in a tree.) What I liked about it was that it smelled absolutely wonderful. I don't know what kind it was, not cedar and not fresh pine, but some kind of very aromatic wood.
Blur your eyes a bit. Do you see a lion cub's face in the bulge? I do. Or maybe a puppy.