Saturday, September 04, 2010

3074 Bedbugs - the cure

Saturday, September 4, 2010

“Don’t wish anyone ‘Peace on Earth’. They might think you’re unpatriotic.”


There's been a lot about bedbugs lately. It's "the new thing", I guess. All the stories go into how difficult it is to get rid of them, how expensive or dangerous the cures are.


This is just an illustration of how divorced we are from nature.

You can rid of bedbugs completely, thoroughly, easily, cheaply, and safely. Our current problems were created by the same error we've made with bacteria and viruses - too thorough cleaning.

The cheap, easy, safe, and thorough cure?


Quit killing all the otherwise harmless spiders in your house, and you'll have no bedbugs.

3073 Brain Purge

Saturday, September 4, 2010

"Money is like the wind. You only feel it when it's moving."


I wonder if those miners trapped somewhere in South America will be paid 24 hours per day overtime for the several months they'll be trapped.


The other night I was working late and noticed an odd smell in the house, at about 2 am. Sort of an acid metallic smell, like hot metal sometimes gets. I worried that maybe there were some hot wires in a wall.

I finally determined that the odor was strongest near the three open windows, so I checked outside.

It smelled terrible outside.

Next I worried that a neighbor's house or car was on fire, but didn't see or hear anything. I don't know what it was. (There's a transformer at the end of my driveway. I hope it wasn't that.)


I don't watch those competitive cook shows like "Hell's Kitchen" and whatever that other one is. The head chefs on them are pure evil.

Nobody, I don't care what they've done, maybe it was stupidity or a mistake, but whatever they did wrong, nobody! deserves to be abused like that. And don't give me the "Well, that's what they'll find in real restaurant kitchens, so they'd better get used to it" excuse. There's no excuse for that kind of behavior, and excusing it only guarantees its existence, since there are always people who, if they think they can get away with bad behavior, will behave badly and abuse underlings just because they can.

So if that's what happens in real restaurant kitchens, maybe it's time that stopped being acceptable, too.


A commenter has asked if she may suggest Patrick Stewart as a candidate for Honey of the Week. Yeah, anyone can suggest anyone they like. It may very well be someone I somehow forgot to include.

I considered Patrick Stewart, actually. From Wikipedia, "The accolades he has received include "Sexiest Man on Television" (TV Guide, 1992), which he considered an unusual distinction considering his age and his baldness." Both characteristics, of course, don't faze any thinking woman. But although I would love to have a (platonic) weekend with him, he doesn't quite meet my criteria.

My criteria are simple. At some point, I must have had a strong urge to drag the man into the bushes and wreak mad mayhem on his naked body.

I will accept no less.

But I'd be very interested in seeing/hearing/reading who other women like or liked, and why.


The manifesto from the guy who tore up the ground at Discovery is interesting (copy here). He has some points, but of course he's overboard. But consider the saying (several different versions around, attributed to several different speakers, some say five years instead of fifty, some say bees instead of insects, but it doesn't matter, they're all true, I just think this is the truest): "If all the insects died today, in fifty years there would be no life left on Earth. If all the humans died today, in fifty years the Earth would be lush and vibrant with life."

Yes, there are too many humans, and that's not a good thing for anyone. It has long been my opinion that God loves bacteria and insects, and we exist as mere crops for them.


The day I put Daughter on the bus for her first day of kindergarten, as the bus pulled out I could see her through the window talking to the other kids - and she didn't turn and look at me, let alone wave. As the bus trundled down the street, a neighbor jogged past, noticed the tears running down my face, and asked what was wrong. I replied, "The county came and kidnapped my daughter", motioning toward the bus.

Yep. Within a day it was all over the neighborhood that CPS had determined that I was an unfit mother and had taken my child away.

It took a while to correct the story, and even after everyone knew it was a misunderstanding, and everything was ok, there were mothers who would allow Daughter to play with their child at their house, but would not allow their child to play at our house, because they still were unsure that I was safe.

That's one thing I appreciate about this neighborhood. Minimal gossip.

That's one thing that worries me about the new neighborhood. Daughter assures me that it's a very safe neighborhood because "everyone watches out for everyone else." Um, that means everyone is watching everyone else.


3072 Puppy

Saturday, September 4, 2010

"I think age is a very high price to pay for maturity."
-- Tom Stoppard --


I've been dogless for nine years now, after having had at least one dog in the house from Puppy's arrival in 1968 'til Baby's death in 2001. (Yeah, we were never very good at naming dogs.) I miss dogs. But the way I live now, running off for days at a time, it just wouldn't be fair to a doggy.

The folks across the street have two dogs, both medium large and black. One has floppy ears, looks lab, and the other has stand-up ears, looks like a small-boned German shepherd. The stand-up eared one looks a lot like my favorite old dog, Puppy. She was the smartest dog I've ever known.

Puppy arrived in 1968. I lived in a log cabin in the woods, and something had been getting into my garbage in the garage. I thought it was raccoons, but one day, after about a week of depredation, I saw it, and it was a very small young puppy, probably no more than seven weeks old. I captured her with the lure of a hot dog.

I was working full time and a lot of overtime, and renting the house, so I really couldn't keep a dog. I had a ten year old cat, Smokey, who needed little daily attention, and no potty-training, and that was just fine. I figured the puppy had been dropped off, but I put up "found puppy" posters all over anyway, hoping someone would claim her. I didn't want to get attached, because there was no way I could keep her!, so I didn't give her a name. I just called her Puppy.

I spread newspaper in the kitchen. She used it. For the first two days, there were deposits on the paper when I got home from work. Then suddenly they stopped. Huh? Clean and dry. I was amazed that she had housetrained herself so quickly. A few days later I happened to glance into the kitchen, and I saw Puppy starting to squat on the paper. Smokey came running, swatted Puppy on the rear end, and drove her into the pantry. Where the litterbox was.

Yup. Smokey had a huge litterbox, so I didn't have to clean it more than once a week or so. And the litterbox was full of both Smokey and Puppy deposits. Smokey housetrained the puppy. (Smokey was also the smartest cat I'd ever seen.)

Left alone to amuse herself all day every day, Puppy invented games. In that area, in those days, I could not only leave the doors unlocked, I could leave them open in good weather. So I'd leave the front door open while I was at work so Smokey and Puppy could go out onto the glassed-in front porch. Sometimes I'd open the porch windows a crack at the bottom for the breeze.

Puppy had a ball, and she actually taught herself to throw the ball against the wall so it would bounce and she could catch or chase it.

I noticed that she didn't always eat all her breakfast. When the porch windows were open, she'd put bits of kibble on the window sill and nudge them out to the outer sill. Squirrels, rabbits, and raccoons would gather for the free lunch. She seemed to have a special relationship with one particular rabbit, who would sit on the window sill for an hour at a time, and they really seemed to be conversing.

Every day when I got home, the teddy bear on my bed would be missing. I'd have to search for it, and she'd get all excited when I found it. I discovered that she'd hide it, then go find it and hide it again somewhere else, then retrieve it and hide it again, several times during a day. She wanted me to hide it again so she could search for it. So I learned to hide it before I left for work. I'd find it someplace else when I got home.

I never formally trained her (heel, sit, stay, come, etc.), but she listened well, learned anyway, and was always eager to please. I swear she had a 500 word vocabulary. She was a happy doggy, always friendly, never suspicious, but still super protective.

When we lived in the Washington area, I used to walk with her on the canal towpath along the Potomac river. We did the whole path in 5 to 10 mile segments. It was pretty deserted in the northern reaches. Sometimes we didn't see another walker for miles. She'd trot happily along 20 feet or so in front of me, sniffing either side of the path, doing doggy stuff. But I eventually noticed a subtle change when she saw another walker. If he was coming toward us, she'd gradually get closer and closer to me, still sniffing and ranging and tail wagging, until as the walker passed us, she'd be beside me, between us, then as the walker receded behind us, she'd be behind me. When the other walker got what she judged to be a safe distance behind, she'd surge ahead of me again. It was so subtle I didn't notice at first what she was doing.

She got a compliment from a mountain man once. We were in the woods, and she treed a squirrel. The squirrel hopped from tree to tree, and she stayed right with it. An old hunter watched her, raised his eyebrows, and said to me, "Good squirrel dog. Smart." I asked why, and he said that the average dog will bark up the tree the squirrel ran up, even though the squirrel is long gone. Takes a "right smart dog" to follow the squirrel tree to tree. (That's where the expression comes from, by the way.)

Damn she was a good dog! She died of kidney failure (I blame the flea meds) in about 1987ish. Even as an old lady, if she couldn't get outside when she had to go, in a dire emergency, she'd use the cat's litterbox.

I still miss her.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

3071 Forgotten Children

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"America believes in education: the average professor earns
more money in a year than a professional athlete
earns in a whole week."
-- Evan Esar --


People watch movies, and don't consider it a waste of time. Next time you're in the mood for a movie, consider the documentary, "Zimbabwe's Forgotten Children", available in nine parts on YouTube:
It's available a few places, but even though this is broken into parts, this set is the highest viewing quality.

(Re the green quote at the top, and after watching this movie, think how many children one of those athletes could send to school.)

3070 HOTW- Sean Connery

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

“Give a man a fish and he will not fast. Show a man how to fish,
and he will sit all day and hold a string on a hook, with nothing to show for it.”
-- John O'Byrne, Dublin --


Honey of the Week - Sean Connery. How could I possibly leave him out? He's gotten better looking as he's gotten older, but mainly it's the aura of thoughtful but droll intelligence that catches me.

Plus, I think he genuinely likes women as interesting people.

[Update 2016 - he's aged since the above photo, a lot.]


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

3069 Photos from last week - fair and falls

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.
Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.
Teach a man to create an artificial shortage of fish and he will eat steak."
-- Jay Leno --


I went to the county fair last Thursday - just a short visit - because I didn't really have time, but I knew I'd regret it if I didn't get my French fries with malt vinegar, which taste right only at a county fair.

I usually go through all the barns, all the way from the fancy fowl and rabbits through the pigs, cows, goats, and sheep to the horses at the other end of the grounds. All the handicrafts, 4-H displays, and floral competitions. The midway and the concessions.

This time I went only halfway across the grounds, and visited only one barn. But I did get my French fries, and some really good pork barbecue.

This guy was carving sand:It's a good thing it didn't rain.

I tried to get a picture of a Jersey cow's face. They have beautiful faces, and they were looking over the fence, but every time I brought the camera up, they'd duck down behind the rails. I suspect that they'd been blinded so many times by flashes, they'd become camera shy. I wish people would learn that you never use a flash right into an animal's eyes.This truck was interesting. I stuck my head in the front end and counted, then in the back end and counted, and remembered that a hole probably just meant a shorter log - then I wondered what the #$%^ I'd do with the fool things if I accidentally won them.
I naively thought that Thursday would be relatively uncrowded. It wasn't. It was elbow to elbow people. If Thursday afternoon was like this, I'm glad I couldn't go Saturday (the Urban Race day) as originally planned.


Back on Saturday the 21st I had gone with a Mensa group to Bushkill Falls. One of the other guys has a much better camera, and he took a lot of photos, so I didn't - but I'm still waiting for him to put his shots up. So here's a small taste of mine.

One guy and I took the red route. The rest of the group took the yellow. Click to enlarge and read the descriptions.The cut:
One of the falls. Note the people on the platform up to the right of the top. It was all staircases up and down, and we took every step up and down, for the length of the cut.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

3068 The Race

Sunday, August 29,m 2010

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.”
-- Ernest Hemingway --


Well, the Great Urban Race got run yesterday. I want to thank all the people who contributed to St. Jude! My goal was a measly $250, and we ended up with $400. Contributors were Angie, the Mensa group, the Hairless Hunk, Daughter and Hercules, myself, Piper and the Angel, and a large contribution from a reader of this blog who wishes to remain anonymous, but which blew me away.

I was surprised that although there were several hundred teams, only about 24 of us signed up for St. Jude.

Here's the St. Jude hero cape:
I wore it for all of about an hour, then packed it in my backpack (that's why it's so wrinkled). It fastened around the neck with velcro, and either it choked me or the velcro chewed my skin.

I drove to northern NJ late Friday night, where I was joined by my teammate. I screwed up. Somehow the pants and shoes I had selected to wear didn't make it into my bag, so I ended up wearing a dress! and sandals to trek all over Manhattan on Saturday.

Here's the clues (click on and use CTRL + to enlarge):

We used the whole first hour doing internet searches to figure out the clues. My team partner had a Blackberry, but (surprise) it developed a bug and wouldn't scroll. So he hooked the Blackberry up to a little notebook to do the searches, but it was essentially a dialup connection, and it was slow. If we ever do anything like this again, step one will be to scout the vicinity of the starting point for WIFI a day or two ahead of time.

We had to take a picture of us doing the tasks. This is us at Clue #6:
Me doing the 200 meter track for Clue #9 (man! I look even shorter when I run!):Teammate doing the rock climb for Clue #9:
Feeding each other messy chocolate Chinese dumplings at Clue #8:
The dumplings were filled with liquid chocolate, which squirted out when they were bitten (surprise!). The sidewalk was covered with chocolate, and as we met up with other teams along the course, it was easy to tell who'd completed #8 - one of the members would have chocolate down their front.

We made it through #1, 3, 6, 8, 9, and a third of #11. We did do #5, but accidentally went to the corporate headquarters, not the store, and could easily have completed #10 a dozen times, but ...

...the teammate got discouraged because we had to turn in our photos and packet at 5 pm, and by 4:15 we had completed only five (or six if we added #10, which would have been easy) of the 11 required tasks. You got a half hour penalty for each uncompleted task, so we'd have ended up with a time of 7.5 hours, which he didn't see as in the running, so we just went to the car and didn't turn in our photos.

He pointed out how many teams seemed to have done the tasks in order, instead of grouping them by locale, like we did, which meant that heading north, then south, then back north again, it would have been impossible to finish within 5 hours, and that many teams seemed to be socializing and sightseeing instead of moving. Given how much territory had to be covered, there was no time for lollygagging. So I think that even with penalties for the five undone, we could have come in at a respectable time. Middle of the pack at least. So I was mildly annoyed that we didn't turn our stuff in.

But - I wasn't there to compete. Just to do it for the experience. I was all for continuing after 5 pm, in fact, just to find the rest of the places, but he was tired, so we went back to the hotel, had a dinner of takeout shrimp in the room. He was sound asleep sitting on the couch by 7:30, only halfway through his dinner. I watched a "House" marathon, and woke him at 10:30 pm, when he discovered there was a Vikings pre-season game on TV. I fell asleep during the game, and he got back to sleep at about 2:00 am, I guess.

Maybe we're getting too comfortable.

3067 Running Away

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Definition: Omphaloskepsis - Contemplation of one's navel.


Seems like a lot of people I know are thinking about running away.

A 60-something friend says he's thinking about turning his business over to his offspring, selling off everything he owns and distributing it to his heirs so he doesn't have to feel responsible for them any more, and retiring to a little seaside cottage in Italy.

A young friend says I shouldn't worry if she suddenly drops out of sight, she'll keep in occasional touch, but without a forwarding address. She wants to give up her house and possessions, just walk away, and wander the country camping and living in her car, picking up odd jobs, just simplifying life.

A middle-aged friend says as soon as he has an empty nest, he's dropping out and running away.

One late middle-age friend has family depending on him from three different directions. The pressure is enormous because, of course, every one thinks he or she is more important than the rest. He'd like to disappear, but doesn't know how, and feels guilt because he wants to.

I'm not sure any of them would really do it, but they all very much wish they could, and the very things they want to get away from are the things keeping them trapped in place.

These are the friends who have told me about their feelings. How many others feel that way, but haven't said anything?

The stress is just too high. Too much is expected of people. They have a lot of heavy obligation and responsibility with very little reward for all that effort, and the spiral keeps getting larger and larger. It's worse when people tell them they should be happy - after all, they have a wonderful close family, a steady job, a successful business, a beautiful home - but those are the very things that are killing them.

We need a social revolution. We need to say "Stop! Slow down! I can't do it all for everyone!" Maybe we need hippies back (although most of the hippies I knew were trust-fund hippies).