Saturday, December 31, 2011

3435 Anger, losing hope

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
-- Steven Wright --

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I've been trying to avoid situations, books and articles, and anything else that makes me angry. I don't need anger these days. There's little I can do about the things that make me angry, and so the result is depression.

Yeah, good plan. So what do I do? I start reading Noam Chomsky's 9-11 / Was There an Alternative? (The 2011 updated version.)

I guess I like hitting myself in the head with a hammer.

Americans are idiots! Our leadership are the biggest idiots, because they at least have the information but can't seem to use it.

Get yourself a copy. It's short, fewer than 200 pages. Right now I'm on page 21 and I'm spitting nails.

(You know who knows what's happening, sees the trap, and knows how to deal with it? The French. So naturally we have to vilify them.)

Our current economic woes and the rise of corporate tyranny, the radicalization of the middle east, the loss of friends and allies - it's all part of the plan, and it's working beautifully because we're too stupid and too "cowboy" to see it.

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

By the way, the choice of September 11, 2001, may not have been random, and not because of 911 as the emergency number. How many know about the September 11, 1973, US terrorist attack on Chile? Google that date. Scan the first few articles that come up.
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Friday, December 30, 2011

3434 Roast and freeze.

Friday, December 30, 2011

A year from now you will wish you had started today.
-- Karen Lamb --

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I don't understand the heat in this house. Because it's a slab, the downstairs floors are cold. Because of poor design, many of the heat vents are in the ceiling. Because I'm short, mostly I live in the cold part. That much I understand.

What I don't understand is why even though the thermostat is steady, the house is very warm, too warm, in the morning even before the sun is fully up, and then it's cold in the evening. And when I say cold, I mean a scarf around my neck and a jacket on. That's ridiculous.

Maybe it's me, something about my metabolism, not the house, but I've never had this problem before, and I don't have the problem in the old house! I'm always comfortable there.

Something's screwy.

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

It's worse tonight because "Narnia" is on TV. I've tried to watch it many times before and never made it past the first 40 minutes. I'm determined to make it all the way through this evening, but it's all SNOW! and ICE! and those kids aren't very warmly dressed! That ice queen/witch is wearing short sleeves!

Aaaaaagggghhh! I'm freeeeeezing!
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3433 Lawsuits

Friday, December 30, 2011

Thinking is a skill, not an innate ability.
-- Northrop Frye --

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Most Ridiculous Lawsuit of 2011 Announced!

[From http://www.facesoflawsuitabuse.org/2011/12/most-ridiculous-lawsuit-of-2011-announced/]

"The U.S. has been the undisputed lawsuit capital of the world for some time. And while the courts play a central role in resolving disputes and maintaining a civil society, that function isn’t easy when they are packed with frivolous suits.

Ridiculous lawsuits clog up our legal system’s dwindling resources, taking time away from legitimate grievances to devote to the vindictive, the hypocritical, the irresponsible, and the outright absurd.

With that in mind, FacesOfLawsuitAbuse.org has compiled some of the most egregious examples of frivolous and abusive litigation from around the country and asked you to tell us which ones were the most ridiculous. These suits range from the comical and absurd to the disturbing, but they all underscore a real problem – lawsuits hurt businesses, families, and everyday Americans through lost time, money and job growth.

So which lawsuits are the doozies this past year? First, here’s the lawsuit that you thought was the most ridiculous:

  • Convict sues couple he kidnapped for not helping him evade police. A man who kidnapped a couple at knifepoint while he was running from the police is now suing the victims, claiming that they promised to hide him in exchange for an unspecified amount of money. The plaintiff, currently in jail, is seeking $235,000 for the alleged “breach of contract.”

And here’s the rest of the top ten as determined by you who voted at FacesOfLawsuitAbuse.org:

  • Man suing for age discrimination says judge in his case is too old. A 60-year-old musician who is suing for age discrimination wants the judge removed from the case – because he’s too old. Ironically, the plaintiff says his fight against age-based discrimination is too important to leave in the hands of the 88-year-old judge.
  • Young adults sue mother for sending cards without gifts and playing favorites. The plaintiffs, now 20 and 23, claimed the mother “sometimes didn’t include gifts in cards sent to her children; played favorites with her children . . . did not send care packages until his sixth semester away at college . . . changed her surname, thus ‘causing attention’ at her daughter’s school events; and refused to buy her a homecoming dress.”
  • Obese man sues burger joint over tight squeeze in booths. A nearly-300 pound man is suing White Castle restaurants, saying that their booths are too tight to accommodate someone of his size. In fact, he’s so distraught by the booths that he hasn’t been to White Castle in months (instead, he sends his wife to pick up his burgers so he can eat them at home).
  • Woman sues over movie trailer; says not enough driving in ‘Drive’. A Michigan woman who claims she was misled by the trailers for the movie ‘Drive’ is suing the distributors of the film. She says she was disappointed by the lack of driving in the film and was expecting something more similar to the ‘Fast and Furious’ films.
  • Mom files suit against exclusive preschool over child’s college prospects. A New Yorker is suing a private preschool, saying the school’s curriculum has seriously hurt her 4-year-old’s chances of getting into an Ivy League college.
  • Man sues bar for not disarming him before he started drinking (and fighting). A Pennsylvania man illegally brought a gun into a bar, then got injured in a drunken shootout with another patron, and now has sued the bar for not searching him for a weapon on his way in.
  • Passenger’s lawsuit says cruise ship was too fast. An Indiana woman is suing Carnival Cruise Line, claiming she got sick because the boat was going too fast and was swaying from side to side.
  • Woman disagrees with store over 80¢ refund, sues for $5m. A New York woman decided to make a $5 million federal case out of a disagreement over 80¢. Her suit says she used a $5-off coupon when she purchased a bevy of items for over $100. When she returned one of the items, the store pro-rated the refund to account for the discount.
  • Mother sues Chuck E. Cheese – says games encourage gambling in children. A California woman has filed a lawsuit against Chuck E. Cheese on the grounds that their games are actually an illegal form of gambling and could get kids hooked. She is seeking at least $5 million; the restaurant says the games are legal and has asked a judge to dismiss the suit.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to vote. And while we can’t predict everything 2012 has in store, it’s a good bet there’ll be more ridiculous lawsuits. So remember to visit FacesOfLawsuitAbuse.org monthly to vote for your favorite ridiculous lawsuits."

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

On the other hand, some of the US Supreme Court's decisions this past year in favor of corporations will make it almost impossible to sue them when they screw you. See http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelbobelian/2011/12/28/the-top-three-cases-that-impacted-corporate-america-in-2011/.

In perhaps my oversimplification, the AT&T decision says that if a corporation puts that hateful but standard arbitration clause in your contract, you can't join a class action suit against them. That doesn't mean you can't sue them, you don't give up that right, but it does mean you have to sue them individually. Now consider going up against a gazillion-dollar corporation's legal department all by yourself. (Worse, and not mentioned in this article, there's a movement afoot to rule that the loser in a civil case pays BOTH parties' legal fees, in an effort to stop frivolous lawsuits- see above.)

The Wal-Mart ruling bothers me because in essence, it says that if a corporation allows individual managers to discriminate, then the individual managers can be sued by the individual complainants, but the corporation cannot be sued by a class of victims just because they don't have a corporate policy against such discrimination.

This is looking like corporations can pretty much do anything they damn well please, free from the threat of anyone suing them.

Now, I'm not a fan of class action suits. Too many law firms go out hunting for people to join a suit they, the lawyers, thought up, then they settle for a gazillion, and each of the citizen parties to the suit get a pittance. That's not right. But if a bunch of people have been harmed, class action suits have an important purpose. If nothing else, it's bad publicity and a threat of punishment.

Now, there's not even that. Welcome to USA, Inc.
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

3432 A Bad Day

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
-- Steven Wright --

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

I took Fred for his state inspection today. The nearest state inspection station was about a half hour down the road. The website, and Daughter, and The Man, and everyone else I asked said that NJ checks only emissions. I'm pretty sure Fred's bowels are fine, so I wasn't worried.

It wasn't easy to figure out how to get into the place. The GPS insisted the address was further down route 36 than it actually was, and this being NJ, if you pass your address you can't just pull a U or turn left into a mall or something to turn around. There ARE no left turns allowed. You have to go another 3/4 mile until you find a jug handle. Unfortunately, the next jug handle was at route 35, and the intersection was under construction, and even though the sign said "U and left turn here", there was no way to get to the other half of the U to make the left back onto 36.

Sigh.

I had to go straight on 35 and go another 3/4 mile to make a U on 35 to get back to 36.

This should have been a warning that things were not going well.

I got to the inspection place, got into the line of cars, pulled my ticket that said the line was four minutes long. Twenty-five minutes later I pulled into the inspection bay. Again I was told they check only emissions. I went to the waiting area where other waiting people talked about how they check only emissions.

Then I got waved out to Fred, where I was handed a FAIL paper. Fred failed because ... you know how when you start your car, there a bunch of lights on the dashboard that go on, like oil, anti-lock brakes, air bags, and the check-engine light? Fred's check engine light is burned out. Or something.

I was shocked! This is the scariest thing possible.

To understand how scary that is, you have to know Fred's history.

Through 2006 and 2007, his check-engine light kept going on, and then he'd stall. I could restart him, and sometimes the light would go out, but pretty soon it would go back on and he'd stall again. He was my only vehicle at the time.

For the next 18 months and more than $5,000 for service and rental cars, I took him to every garage in the area. Nobody thinks any more. They'd "put him on the computer", and it would tell them it's this sensor. So they'd replace the sensor. A week or a month later he'd be flashing and stalling again. Now it's a different sensor. Same thing. Always another sensor. When we stared replacing the same sensors again, I turned it over to the dealership, told them to put their best man on it, and don't return it until it's fixed.

They finally found that the rubber cover over the computer was cracked, and water was getting in, and that's what was causing all the problems. They mended the crack, reprogrammed him, and THEN, the mechanic, who lived about 20 miles away, drove it home and back to work for two weeks to make sure.

Then he drove Fred to my house and picked me up to go back to the dealership to pay. On the way, Fred's check engine light went on and he stalled right in the middle of the highway.

They didn't charge me for the work they had done, but they refused to do any further work on him. They gave up.

Fred was due for inspection, and the check-engine light on gets you an automatic fail. I couldn't pass an inspection, and therefore couldn't re-register him when that came due. I parked him in the driveway, rented a car, went used car shopping, and bought Suzie the Suzuki for $9,000.

Fred didn't move for the next three years. Just sat there in the driveway as time passed.

In 2010 I realized Fred would be very handy for moving, and decided to try again. I asked around for the very best electrical system guy, someone who has been doing this for a while, who thinks rather than just asks the computer. I found the guy. My hero.

He worked evenings on Fred in the driveway until he could get him road-worthy. Replaced the brake lines, battery, some hoses, bunch of other stuff, then took him to his shop to finish the work. Then he got him inspected at a friend's shop, and re-registered.

I was cautiously happy, then very happy when the check engine light never came on.

THUD!!!!

The bulb isn't working?

What are the chances that the problem still exists, that when I get the light fixed it will burn brightly? CONSTANTLY? And Fred will never ever pass an inspection? What's the possibility that the hero "fixed" the problem by pulling the fuse or unplugging the bulb? And his friend who did the inspection passed Fred with a wink? (Let us all bow our heads and pray for Fred.)

I have until the end of January to find out.

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

When I left the inspection place I was badly shaken. I stopped at a diner up the road to eat and to look at the papers I'd been given.

I took my purse, a paperback book, and the papers - 2 sheets of white 8.5 x 11 stapled together and a bright red brochure stapled on top - in with me. I glanced briefly at the papers while waiting for the waiter, then put them on the table to my left, with the paperback on top of them. After ordering, I went to the lady's room, taking only my purse with me, and then I read my book at the table while waiting for my food. When my food arrived, I put the book on the table to my left.

I have no idea when the papers disappeared. It could have been while I was in the restroom. Or not. I have no idea. But when I gathered my things to leave, the only things on the table were my book and a takeout container. The waiter did all the clearing from my right, so it's doubtful that he took them by accident. I was almost home (40 minutes up the road in rush hour traffic) when I realized I didn't have the papers. I turned around and went back to the diner.

I'm reasonably sure that if the papers were there at all, they'd have saved them for me. The host remembered me, remembered where I'd been sitting. He showed me a slew of stuff that had been left over the past couple of days - including things like travel brochures - so if they'd fallen on the floor, they'd have been behind the counter, for a few days, anyway.

I hope I don't need any of it.

It's been a long scary day.
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

3431 A Nerd's Christmas, The Goddess, and A Tastless Xmas

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Borrow money from pessimists. They don't expect it back.
-- Steven Wright --

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This is North Point Ministries' iBand. It's 7.5 minutes, but well worth it. (I was especially fascinated by the iPhone maracas. How does it know you're shaking it?)

[http://youtu.be/F9XNfWNooz4]

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

I've had a necklace for the past twenty years or so that Daughter loved. Every time I wore it, she said she wanted it. I gave it to her today, along with a nearly matching bracelet I'd found at a craft fair. The Goddess's stones are all different, hand polished and hand set on sterling silver. The goddess figurine is a hair over two inches long, and hangs just above the breastbone. She is horn, the panther is bone. Ignore the larger stones in the photos - that's the bracelet, which isn't nearly as nice or well made.

I present "The Goddess":

I'm going to miss her.

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

This is around the corner and down the road a bit from my house. There are flashing lights on the house and the top and bottom of the fence and in the trees, so likely any one photo isn't going to capture all the glory - or the music playing from the speakers. All kinds of stuff is just jammed together without any rhyme or reason. And it all seems to have to do with consumerism. The shorthand "Xmas" was made for displays like this. Forgive the blur, I didn't have a tripod or anything to brace against, but you get the idea. I want to get a photo in daylight sometime. No hurry - if last year is any indication, it'll all still be there in February.

Note the hot-air balloon in the back yard.




Yep. None of the photos caught the flashing lights on the roofline or fence.

My taste runs more toward a wreath on the door and candles in the window, or monochromatic lights on the shrubs at the foundation and along the walkway (no blinking, please), that says "this house is quietly joyful and welcoming". Or a softly lighted manger scene (please, no Snow White included), which says "we honor".

There's very little of that in this neighborhood.

Sigh.

3430 Propaganda is using the right wrong word

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

If you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain.
-- Steven Wright --

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Articles abound about Puerto Rican frogs, the tiny thumbnail-sized coqui, showing up and spreading in Hawaii. Every report refers to them as "harmful".

Propaganda! The use of that word "harmful" makes you feel negatively toward them! You immediately assume bad things about them. You are supposed to assume that means harmful to the natural world, the beauty of Hawaii, and of course you want to protect that.

They're tiny. They don't "harm" anything. I mean it's not like they eat baby birds or something. They don't cut down the forest, or move into another species' habitat and make it unsuitable for the original inhabitants, they don't consume more than their share of resources, or over-fish the sea. They don't pave over the world so rain can't get through. They don't kill for the "sport" of killing. They don't push their neighbors into reservations, ghettos, or preserves.

They're just very very very loud, and humans don't like that.

So they're "harmful", and must be eradicated because they're harmful.

Bullpoopy.

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

I wouldn't mind if there were some good reason why, like that they have no natural enemies in Hawaii, but that isn't the problem. Birds find them delicious. So far they have caused no imbalances. Their living and dead bodies become resources in about the same niche as the one they occupy. They eat insects, but their offal supports insects.

The sole reason they are "harmful" is their song. We don't like it, so let's kill them!

I wouldn't mind if people admitted they aren't harmful, and the only reason they want to eradicate them is that they are loud, disturb sleep, and may hurt the tourist trade.

But this is not harmful. It's merely annoying. You can't kill things just because they're annoying. (If that were true, we'd have no neighbors.) They have to be "harmful", so therefore that's what they are so we can justify killing them.

A small example of what I meant by propaganda a few posts back.

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

PS - This post isn't about frogs. It's about propaganda. Frogs are just the vehicle. Ignore the frogs.
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Monday, December 26, 2011

3429 Whoa!

Monday, December 26, 2011

A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
-- Steven Wright --

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I mentioned online dating to someone today. That reminded me that I had a moribund profile on a particular site that I hadn't visited in years. So I visited. I updated my profile and photos (just for fun, you understand) and released the hold (just to see what might happen, you understand), and in the past two hours I have been inundated by "Hi!" notes. Well, eight of them, anyway.

And of those eight, all but two were from very young men. Under thirty. Like three under twenty-five!

Holy Crap!

How tempting is this:
Now, his pants are a bit low, and it's a cell phone photo in a public or work restroom, (the other photo does include his face, which is also pretty), and it worries me that he's got his shirt off in a public restroom, but his note was nice, and he actually spelled out all the words instead of using that ugly texting shorthand, and spelled correctly, too (... as opposed to the mash note I got from a young man straight from Snooki's crew, that seemed to be a different language). AND he lives a few blocks from here.

Holy Crap!

Now, I'm not naive. I do know why a lot of young men like older women. We aren't likely to get pregnant, we're less likely to be drama queens, and we're very likely to be grateful for decent sex. Maybe even generously grateful.

No way I'm falling into that trap. **

But OMG - I want to TOUCH that chest!

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

**I'd like to put something like that in my profile, but then they might stop sending me pictures like this.
.

3428 Alone in a crowd

Monday, December 26, 2011

A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.
-- Steven Wright --

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There's a Meetup group I had joined, for us older folks, but I had never signed up for anything because it was always a horde scene. Like 50 people at dinner.

Well, they had a dinner at a Bonefish on Christmas Eve, and only four other people had signed up for it -- one man (the organizer) and three women. That sounded good to me, so I signed up, too.

Saturday afternoon I got a note from the organizer saying that the other three women would be carpooling with him, and that they'd be in the bar at 7:30, I should meet them there. He said he'd be wearing a Meetup button.

At 7:15 I arrived. When I came in, there were a few people, like six or seven, I didn't count, on the porch. Couldn't be them. Too many. Too many men. Wrong place. I went to the bar and sat at the end. There was one woman and a couple at the bar. I waited. And waited.

At 7:40 I asked at the hostess stand if there was a reservation in the organizer's name, or Meetup, or the group name. Nope. I asked about any reservation for five. Nope. I left my name with them in case anyone looked for me. I checked out on the porch, and the large group was still there.

At 7:50 I walked around the restaurant looking for tables with one man and three women. I asked at two tables if they were Meetup. Nope. I glanced at men's shirts, looking for a button of some kind. Nope. I made that tour twice over the next ten minutes.

At 8:00 I gave up and ordered dinner at the bar. I ate alone. On Christmas Eve. In a crowded restaurant. I left at 8:45.

When I got home I sent an email to the organizer asking what had happened.

Surprise! They had picked up another man and woman, so they were six, not four. The group on the porch was apparently them. The reservation had been made in one of the women's name, not the organizer's. They had waited for me ON THE PORCH! until 7:45.

Um, my photo on the Meetup site looks exactly like me. If they were waiting for me, shouldn't the organizer have been watching for someone who looks like me? I am a bit unique. Shouldn't they have at least CHECKED IN THE DAMN BAR?! WHERE HE SAID THEY'D BE?

They all knew each other already. I was apparently superfluous.

What gets me is that at about 7:45 a group of six, two men and four women, was seated at a high table in the bar, about 8 or 10 feet from me. They were loud and having a good time. I wonder if that was them. If it was, I wonder why it never occurred to them to glance at the lone woman at the bar.

Yeah, on the one hand, I'm pissed. On the other hand I'm almost glad, because if that raucous group WAS them, I'd rather have been alone.

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

Why, when people go to a forum, why don't they read the previous postings before they ask their questions?

Google Bookmarks no longer works, at least not on Firefox. You get the message that you have to sign in, but then nothing happens, it just repeats the "Please sign in". I had that problem a few months ago. I panicked. I have a thousand bookmarks, and am lost without them.

I found a forum for that exact problem. The answer is that Google no longer supports bookmarks, and has no plans to do so. Period.

The bookmarks are actually still there on your disk, but Google isn't going to get them for you. A few people had recommendations that involved opening code and resetting bits and flags and stuff to fool Google into thinking you have a lower level of Firefox. Others had found a way to get to the raw bookmarks involving like five steps.

Uh, no thanks.

I subscribed to the forum in case anyone found a simple fix.

I dug around the internet and found an easy to install Firefox extension called "GMarks". You can put a button right on the Firefox tool bar, and it works exactly like Google Bookmarks used to.

I recommended its use in the forum. A few people tried it and praised me.

You'd think that with the explanation of why G. B. no longer works, and three work-arounds offered, that would be the end, right? At least until someone finds something better, right?

No.

For the past few months, I'm getting alerts of updates to the discussion, and in EVERY case, it's some idiot whining that their bookmarks no longer works, what happened?, and what can they do about it?

Sheesh. Those people aren't worth helping, when they don't even bother to read the previous posts.
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Sunday, December 25, 2011

3427 Photos

Sunday, December 25, 2011

99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
-- Steven Wright --

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Daughter, Hercules, and the Nugget are away for the weekend. With my ex and Hercules' parent's exes, there are four sets of grandparents: me, one in south Jersey and two sets in Pa, and this is the Nugget's first Christmas, so everybody wants her. They left Friday to make the tour, and will return late tomorrow. So we'll do our piece of Christmas late Monday or Tuesday, whatever works.

Daughter has been complaining that she has no childhood photos of herself. I have a huge box of unsorted photos from my life, so I spent today putting together a special gift for her -- a smaller unsorted box from her life. We'll have to go through them together, adding names, dates, and occasions to the backs of those she decides to keep.

Someday I'll have to do that to all my photos. Daughter is afraid I'll drop dead someday, leaving her with random sepia photos of unidentified ancestors/strangers.
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Saturday, December 24, 2011

3426 Title? I don't need no stinkin' title!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Half the people you know are below average.
-- Steven Wright --

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I'm in love again. Fourteen hours with The Man will do that to me.

One of the many things we talked about - he marveled at a coworker who, when the clock hits 4:30, stands up, puts his coat on, and leaves, leaving coffee on his desk, the computer open to whatever he was working on, conversations unfinished, he just leaves! It drives The Man crazy. He can't understand it. (Part of it was that the guy doesn't clean up before leaving, part of it was the leaving.)

Reminded me of this:
[http://dilbert.com/dyn_file/str_strip/146542/gif/strip.print/]

That's so true. The more you do, the more you get to do. When I worked for The Company - oh hell, it's far enough out now I think I can use the name - IBM, 10 to 15% overtime was built into every project. Being salaried, we didn't get paid overtime, but overtime was expected. Missing schedules was bad for your performance reviews, so overtime was necessary. And yet, it seemed like the people who got the raises and the promotions were also the people who left on time every day.

I knew one woman, Nancy, who worked like a dog. She took on everything she was asked to do, worked 10-15 hours of unpaid overtime every week. She pulled her department's tail out of the fire over and over. But over and over she was downgraded on the performance reviews because she "demonstrated poor time management", while other members of her department left on time every day, and got good reviews.

Nancy did a quarter of the entire work assigned to that entire 8 person department! She got no credit for it.

Simply put, those other people were able to convince their managers that they couldn't possibly take on additional projects. So all the additional department load was dumped on Nancy, who couldn't seem to say no. It was always, "Yeah, ok, I can do that."

Jay had pretty much the same problem.

I guess it's good time management when you don't accept any work that interferes with your personal life, even though overtime is part of the job. I think it's poor people management when you don't see the difference between loads carried.
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3425 Five Christmas cards....

December 24, 2011

[Note - "youtu.be" is YouTube's URL shortener. I wondered when I saw it, and researched it. It's safe. You'll notice that it expands to the full URL, like magic.]

This is long, at a hair over seven minutes, but it's beautiful and might make you cry. He's not particularly friendly to what Man has made of religion, but he "gets" the family aspects of Christmas: Tim Minchin : white wine in the sun

[http://youtu.be/vWQuDtxD2-c]

This one is short, at about 14 seconds: a Christmas message from Cyriak

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EZZhmNPGv8]

Thirty-nine seconds, cute. Having grown up with porcupines in the yard, I can confirm that they really do talk a lot:

[http://youtu.be/IEc8k4LUQ7g]

This one's for all the beastie lovers out there:

[http://youtu.be/9zvy0kQZStk]

These kids aren't all that good (possibly why the director is in disguise), but it was a great idea:

[http://youtu.be/jiDTufRNL10]

Thursday, December 22, 2011

3424 Photo memories

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Illegal immigration began in 1492. Who are we to complain now?

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

I just read an article on taking better holiday photos. (At http://www.howtogeek.com/101093/photography-with-htg-10-tips-for-better-christmas-photos/.) Their first directive is not to pose folks. The idea is to take pictures with something natural happening.

That reminded me of Jay's father's holiday photos. He worked for Kodak, and took a lot of pictures, but the man didn't have an artistic bone in his body. Apparently, he had heard about not stiffly posing groups. So he'd take a picture of the mother reading a story to the kids. BUT! Mother would be sitting in a chair looking at an open book on her lap, and the kids and Father would be standing beside each other and her, on either side of her, also looking down at the book.

Nah. Doesn't look posed. Uh uh. Not at all.

There are photos of poor toddler Jay standing next to a tiny sidetable, with his hand on the top of a toy truck on the table, looking miserable. I can just hear his father saying, "Now play with the truck." On an fifteen-inch-wide table?

I doubt it would ever occur to Jay's father to get down on the floor some time when Jay was playing naturally. That way he wasn't controlling the shot. And Jay's father was all about control.

I look at those photos now, and I feel so sorry for the child Jay.

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

When I first met Jay, I envied him his childhood, with parents who didn't fight, a father who didn't beat anyone, his whole life in the same school system, and the same house in a beautiful neighborhood, with Grandmother on the next street over.

Then I met his family (his mother had died a few years before). His father was ultra controlling - Jay wasn't even allowed to make any decisions on his own until he married me, his father even wrote all his application essays and cover letters, did all his boy scout projects, nothing Jay could do on his own was ever good enough, his sisters barely remember him as a child, and they weren't that far apart in age, they simply weren't involved, it was all very cold and demanding.

You know, I think I could have handled his death so young (49) if he had at least had a good early life. But he was just beginning to find himself and like himself when he got the diagnosis. That's hard to accept.

I threw all those photos out.
.

3423 Muse

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The last time Republicans cared about my life, I was a fetus.

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There's a jewelry store near Albany named "Castiglione". How would you pronounce that? I'd pronounce it the Italian way, with five syllables. They pronounce it "Cast'line". Strange.

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The mice are running riot in the old house. There's mouse poop everywhere. Loads of it. I hate to do it (I love and admire mice), but I'm going to have to visit the hardware store and spread some poison before I leave this evening.

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I'm debating what to do about winterizing. I think I'll just turn off the pump, release pressure in the pipes to allow for expansion, empty the toilet tanks, and pour antifreeze in the toilets and drains. That way when I visit, I can just turn the pump back on and have water. And if we do lose electricity (and therefore heat) for a long period and a pipe does freeze, the damage would at least be limited to any remaining water standing in pipes.

I'm not going to drain the pressure tank or hot water heater. I don't think that even in the worst case they'd freeze enough to blow out.

We lose power here frequently, but usually just a quick bounce. Every time I visit, even when it's every week, all the clocks and timers are blinking. We must have lost power for a significant period recently, because stuff in the freezer had thawed and refrozen. The popsicles were the first clue.

Hint: If you ever leave your house for a while and want to be able to verify that stuff in your freezer is ok when you return, put a bag or a covered bowl of ice cubes in the freezer before you leave. If you come back to water or a solid block, you had a serious problem. If the cubes are still cubes, you're fine. If they're a bit fused but still distinguishable as cubes, most thicker items will still be ok.
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

3422 The world is crazy

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

When Jesus said to love your enemies, He probably meant don’t kill them.

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It turns out I was right about the traffic. I left at 7 pm, took the parkway, and the usually 2.25 hour trip took 3.5 hours. Heavy traffic, accident, 10 mile backup at about 5-15 mph. But, I made it, 10:30 last night. I slept very well.

You know, I love this house. It's falling apart - the dishwasher, the deck, the toilets, the A/C, the driveway, all need replacing. It desperately needs a water softener and filter system - the pipes are full of salts and silt, so the water pressure is low. But all that can be fixed. I simply LOVE the way the house is laid out. And the windows. And the quiet. And the forever view. And the huge garage. I even love the sunny clean basement.

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I read an article about how people aren't getting married much any more, and those who do are marrying later. A short excerpt from http://entertainment.verizon.com/news/read.php?rip_id=%3CD9ROE9JG0%40news.ap.org%3E&ps=931:
Heading into 2012, trend watchers note that barely half of all adults in the United States are married, and the median age at the time of a first marriage has never been higher — slightly more than 26 years old for women and nearly 29 for men.

In 1960, 72 percent of married adults 18 and older were married. The percentage fell to 57 percent in 2000 and today it's just 51 percent, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of census data.

The share of marrieds could dip below half in a few years as single-person households, single parents and couples living together outside the bounds of legal marriage multiply.
IMHO, it's due to two things:
  • Women's liberation - when there were few lucrative opportunities for women, they pretty much had to get married to survive. Now, a woman can take care of herself; a husband is nice, but no longer a necessity. Therefore a woman can have higher standards and more choice.
  • Collapse of moral values - once upon a time, living with someone you weren't married to was "shacking up", and socially unacceptable. An unmarried woman could not get a prescription for birth control. A young unmarried pregnant woman "went away" for a while, and the secret baby was put up for adoption, so her life wouldn't be ruined forever. That's just the way it was done, as late as the '70s. Now nobody needs a ring for sex. It's free and easy. This makes it easier for men to delay or avoid marriage.
(... until they get older. I'm seeing a lot of men in their 50s and 60s on online dating sites who are or claim to be desperate for marriage. I think they suddenly realize that having someone who cares is important. I am amused that women in the same age group aren't so desperate.)

Maybe that's the point of the suppression of women in much of the rest of the world, the fundamental religion parts. It's the only way to make sure every man has a woman to do his cooking and laundry. Who else would marry some of those guys.

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I spent all day running around. I went to the DMV and turned in the old NY plates for my cars. Then I wandered around Poughkeepsie for two hours trying to find my insurance agent - they'd moved twice since I'd last been to the office, and the letter I'd brought from home was an old one with the old address. I eventually found them, and discovered that even though Travelers' does insure in NJ, they can't simply transfer my old policy. I had to apply for a new policy. And contrary to what the rep at the main Travelers' office had told me, it's NOT cheaper in NJ. The new policy has only two cars (since I'd given Suzie to Daughter) but it's about $500 more per year.

Sigh. Remind me why I moved....

Anyway, they were able to get it all done and I got the "proof of" cards that I need to get the cars inspected in NJ. That has to be done next week.

Then I drove to Saugerties to my attorney's office to pick up the files from the closed estates - Jay's and his fathers. After going through them there, it turned out there was nothing I didn't already have copies of.

In the meantime, three different people over the past two days have tried to kill me, or at least seriously injure Hal. On three occasions, as I was driving down narrow city streets with cars parked along the curb to my right, the driver of a parked car suddenly opened their car door fully, swung it fast all the freakin' way, right into my path. I've heard of this happening, but until yesterday I'd never actually experienced it.

Hal is pretty nimble, so on two of those occasions I was able to swerve left and miss the door. But the third time, there was a car coming toward me on the other side and I wasn't able to swerve. I hit the brake so hard Hal took a nose-drive. I was doing maybe 25, and stopped in three feet, about six inches from the woman's door, stalling Hal. I'm just lucky there was no one behind me. The woman looked startled. I said nothing. Just backed up so she could close the door, and left.

Crazy people. I'm not going to yell at crazy people.

You know, I can't help but wonder if it was because I was driving a car registered in NJ, with NY insurance. Hmmmm. Now that my insurance is copacetic, maybe I will have no more threats.
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

3421 Determined

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Actually, I never said that.
-- God --

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The folks across the street got a puppy for Christmas 2010. One of those tiny fluffy smooch-nosed yappers. The first few months, the kids played with it in the yard, and the girl walked it on a leash every day.

It's a year later, and since the beginning of summer, nobody walks it any more. A few times a day it's clipped onto a chain in the front yard for a few minutes to do its duty. Lately it's more than a few minutes. Like they forget it. I feel sorry for the poor thing. It sits on the front stoop in freezing wind and cries.

I hate when people lose interest in a beastie.

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I plan to go upriver today. I HAVE to go! It's been in the teens and twenties up there, and I absolutely have to turn off the water and winterize the old house. I also need to turn in the NY plates at the DMV, stop by the auto insurance agent and get the insurance switched to NJ, so I can get the cars inspected next week, and stop by my attorney in Saugerties to pick up some papers.

I've been very frustrated because every time I've planned to go lately, something happens to stop me.

Imagine how I felt when I heard that a small plane had crashed on route 287 this morning. Yeah, ok, I figure the consequences were worse for the folks IN the plane, but damn!, does Fate have to go THAT far to try to stop me?

287 is my favorite route north in late afternoon because there's much less traffic than on the parkway, mostly just big trucks, which are not allowed on the parkway, and although it makes the trip 15 minutes longer, it's much more relaxing. Ok, 287 is awkward to get on north of the crash, so ok, I can take the parkway, but traffic normally on 287 will be diverted to the parkway! So it's going to be even worse than usual.

Agh.

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Breaking news - details on the plane crash - three adults, two children, and a dog. No survivors. Four days before Christmas. Sheesh. And they must have been nice people - taking their dog with them.
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Saturday, December 17, 2011

3420 Grumpy

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived
and dishonest -- but the myth -- persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.
-- John F. Kennedy --

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So suddenly everybody's all excited about arsenic in apple juice:
video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player
(http://abcnews.go.com/Health/orange-juice-moms-secret-ingredient-worries/story?id=15154617#.Tuym5laOyAi)

The folks on the video argue about how much, but nobody actually asks where the arsenic is coming from. Yeah, it occurs naturally in soil, but that's a minor source for fruit. The main pollutant is automobile exhaust, which is loaded with arsenic. Next time you drive past an orchard, rather than think "Oh, how pretty", you should wonder if you'll be drinking the juice from those apples, grown in soil loaded with settled exhaust arsenic, and bathed in arsenic-laden air.

There are lots of apple and peach orchards along the NYS Thruway. I'd heard once that fruit grown within x distance from major highways could not be used for human consumption. Fruit growing is not cheap. People don't tend orchards for fun. So the fruit goes somewhere. Where? Once it's picked, crated, sold, and shipped out, who knows where it was grown?

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I've been sleeping well the past few weeks, get up at about 3 am every night to piddle, but that's because I drink a lot of water before bed on purpose to keep it moving through the kidneys - I still have that stone and don't want any more, so I gotta keep a flow going. Not a problem. I do maybe three more words in the crossword puzzle, and fall asleep again.

The problem is that I've been waking every morning for the past two months with a killer headache. Sometimes it's the headache that wakes me. Mostly in the back of my head, but sometimes wrapping all around. I take some aspirin after I get up, and in a few hours it goes away.

It was scaring me badly, because I learned during Jay's battle with the tumor that a severe morning headache that goes away once you're upright can be a sign of swelling or edema in the brain, a buildup from being horizontal all night. Jay couldn't lie at less than a 30 degree angle because of that. Pressure from a tumor can cause it.

Ack. Scary thoughts.

I think I've figured it out.

I had bought a timer for the bedside lamp, which was nice, turns the light on at nightfall so the room is lighted when I go upstairs, and turns it off a bit after midnight, by which time I am always sound asleep. But I had to get rid of the damn thing because it was LOUD! It buzzed constantly. Very annoying.

Without a timer, I often (heck, almost always) fall asleep with the light on, doing puzzles or reading.

At the old house I had a tiny high intensity light that shown only on the page. I often slept with it on, no problems. Here I have a lamp on the table, with a tiny 25 watt bulb. There should be no problem. (The mere fact of light isn't a problem because I mostly sleep buried under the blanket where it's dark, anyway, so melatonin levels are likely close to normal.)

BUT, it's one of those new bulbs, the twisty ones.

I replaced it a few days ago with a small old-style incandescent bulb, and have awakened every morning since with no headache.

I think it's the twisty bulb!

Jay always had difficulty concentrating under florescent lights. He was one of those rare people who was aware of the strobe effect of florescents, even when they were working to specs. Is it possible that those curly bulbs strobe? Or something? And that's what was causing my headaches?

Are those twisty bulbs hurting us? Has anyone tested how they might make us ... something or other?

I REALLY want a timer that doesn't make noise!

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Candidates on the campaign trail often pay themselves a salary from the campaign funds. That's fine. Campaigning takes time away from one's prior occupation, and the mortgage still has to be paid.

But I heard something on the news a few days ago that annoyed me. I wrote it down on a slip of paper when I heard it (complete with source) and now naturally I can't find it, but it went something like this:

Newt Gingrich has taken paying himself a salary a step farther. He has rented his personal rolodex of contacts, potential contributors, to his campaign for $45,000 (Later- I found my note. It was $42,000).

What?!

I call that opportunistic raiding.

Sheesh. Go ahead, contribute.

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Speaking of raiding, we keep hearing that the US postal service is going broke, so they're going to have to close many rural post offices and stop Saturday deliveries.

Bull poopy.

The postal service runs at a profit every year. The problem is that Congress has been raiding the postal service, especially the retirement funds, which are classified as general funds, and hasn't been paying that money back. Now they're in a panic because they didn't leave enough there.

They did the same thing with Social Security. "Borrowed" with no intention of paying it back.

The state of New York has done the same thing with education funds. Back when they wanted a state lottery, it was sold to the voters with the promise that ALL proceeds would go to education.

Bull poopy.

That money goes into general funds, and is used for everything, including possibly education if they happen to think of it, but it's not exactly at the top of the priority list. They excuse it by saying that by increasing general funds, they increase the proportion that goes to education.

Yeah.

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Maybe this is one reason I haven't been blogging regularly lately. There's not much happening in my personal life, and everything I notice outside my life makes me angry.

Who needs that.
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

3419 Many sighs

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A church is not a museum for saints - it's a hospital for sinners.
-- Abigail VanBuren --

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The newest thing on the fashion market - a "mega-pushup bra" guaranteed to increase the frontage by two cup sizes.

Um, in the sixties, didn't we call them "falsies"?

Let's see, back to falsies, girdles (now called Spanx), bell bottoms (now called boot-cut). Can teased hair be far behind?

OMG. I forgot Texas. We are doomed.

Sigh.

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I read that granite countertops in houses have about run their course. Good. Seems like people would sneer at your house unless it had real stone countertops. I never wanted them and couldn't understand why anyone would. They have no "give", so if you set a fragile dish or glass down too hard, you could chip it. Plus some of them stained easily.

I knew a beautiful woman from Columbia, a coworker, who married an engineer who worked for "The Company". I thought he was very shallow. I think he married her just because she was good for show. I think she thought he was wonderful, and she was so happy to have done so well.

When she got pregnant, she wore very tight uncomfortable corsets, so her muscles wouldn't stretch, and she was in a panic after the baby was born to get her figure back. She said that he had told her he'd leave her if she got fat. Sigh. That was fifteen years ago. I often wonder how that marriage worked out.

Anyway, when they were first married, they built a house. It was small, but very fancy. Plain granite counters weren't good enough for him. They had white marble, gray veined, countertops. And kitchen floor. And bathroom floor, walls, counters, and sink. (I didn't notice about the tub.) And window and door sills, and baseboards, and fireplace surround. Everybody ooo'd and aaa'd over all the marble, but she told me quietly that she hated it. The floors were hard on her feet, even in high summer you couldn't go barefoot, and the least little thing stains or pits marble. And he was a bear about stains, berated her if the kitchen counters were not always pristine white.

(Actually, I confess that I've lived in a few houses that had white marble window sills and door sills, and I liked them. But I really can't see marble for counters. Acid, like tomato juice, sinks right in.)

I also hear that stainless steel appliances are on their way out. Good! I HATE stainless steel. It shows every finger print, it scratches easily, and whoever put stainless steel on the stove top should be burned like a steak. Burned-on goop burrows right in and holds tight, and you can't clean it off without scarring the surface.

Sometimes things are popular just because someone says they are, not because they're any good, and then others admire them just because they're popular and expensive, even though they are not suited to their purpose.

Sigh.

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And then there was the woman on a judge show who was suing a cleaner for ruining her French fox fur jacket, leaving it matted. She had received it as a gift, so she didn't have a receipt and didn't know how much it cost, but she had looked up similar jackets and decided it was worth $3,000, "probably more because it's from France".

How do you know it's from France?
The tag on it said so.
The tag said French fox?
No, they used the French word for fox, with an "x".
Um, fox is normally spelled with an "x". What exactly did the tag say?
It said "fox fur", but it was spelled "F-A-U-X". That's French for fox.

The courtroom audience cracked up. I only hope it wasn't because they thought it could have been fox from Canada.

Sigh.
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Sunday, December 11, 2011

3418 The running man

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Nerds make the best lovers. They are intelligent, honest, faithful,
teachable, and best of all, grateful.
-- Silk --

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In 1982, Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman published The Running Man. The book had been on my shelf for at least 20 years, unread. I think I avoided it because The Long Walk came out at about the same time, and that was a slog. Well, actually, a long walk.

I read The Running Man this past week just to get rid of it. Get it off the list.

It's about a guy who signs up for a reality show, wherein he is turned loose in a city with hunters after him. If he can last 30 days, he wins a fortune. He gets a certain amount of money for every day he can stay alive. He hopes to live long enough that his wife and sick child can benefit. Most of the population is desperately poor, and since rewards are offered to anyone who reports his whereabouts, he is safe from no one.

It was actually pretty good. Well, except that King is definitely not a science fiction writer, not a technological visionary, and so some parts are unintentionally funny. The story takes place in 2025, and the hero is given a video camera with the stipulation that he has to mail two tape cartridges a day to the reality show producer to prove he's still alive. And he does research in books in a library room. And stays in a room in a YMCA. And he uses pay phones! And apparently there's nothing like GPS.

One thing that struck me. There's a small group of "haves", and a very large group of "have-nots". The "haves" feel no compassion or responsibility for the rest of the population. They're just there to be used as cattle, grist for the mills. Factory working conditions are dangerous, but who cares? The deserving people got. Anyone who don't got, is obviously not deserving.

(Believe it or not, I know several people who think that way, that there are those who deserve, and those who don't. And every damn one of them is politically conservative.)

Anyway, back to the book. Our hero discovers that the air pollution is killing people, including his little daughter. The government is hiding that fact, calling it "asthma". They sell filters that fit in your nostrils (for like $6/$7 each), but it turns out that the cheap filters the general populace gets simply don't work. They're fakes. The real ones are terribly expensive, so only the "deserving" people can afford them. So everyone who can't afford real filters is dying.

King didn't come right out and say it, but I got the distinct impression that the fact that poor people were dying because they couldn't afford the real filters was just fine with the people in power, hunky dory. In fact, that's the plan. When they are all dead, crime statistics will drop, slums will be empty and can be bulldozed, overcrowding will be eased, life for the deserving people will be easier, and that can't be anything but good, right? It's survival of the fittest, right?

Ok. Application to today. Substitute health care for filters. People who can't afford health insurance don't go to the doctor until it's too late, so they die from treatable diseases.

Think about how certain parts of our population want to protect the haves, and it's that same portion of the population who want to kill universal health care.

Ya gotta wonder why.

Maybe King is a better visionary than I thought.
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3417 Bits

Sunday, December 11, 2011

"In much of the world, propaganda reigns, and truth is confined to secretive, fearful whispers."
-- Jed Rakoff --

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Re the above green quote: We're heading that way. Resist propaganda of all kinds!

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I hate when movies are so dark you can't see what's going on. The Road is on TV right now, and I'd like to watch it again, having seen it in a theater, but it's all black and shades of gray, and I can't see anything (in daylight on the TV). Why can't directors give us, the audience, infrared vision or something? I promise we can pretend it's night and dark.

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Rain is dangerous here in NJ. It takes no more than an inch to cause widespread flooding. At the old house, it's all fields and woods. Rain soaks into the ground. It takes many inches and/or spring melting of a heavy snowpack to cause more than a few wide puddles in low fields. Here it's all roads and buildings and parking lots. Roofs and cement and tarmac. There's nowhere for rain to go. Even an inch rushes into storm drains, then into streams and rivers, then over the banks.

Around here, they think 1.5 inches in a day is a downpour.

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I wish I had the camera Friday. Daughter had left for her weekend class, leaving the Nugget with me. I took Nugget over to Daughter's house later in the afternoon, and put her on the floor to close the door. Titus was lying on the floor in the living room.

Titus is a huge, fat, very mellow black and white cat. Nugget has been wild to get hold of him from the first time she spotted him. I really think Titus was the impetus for her learning to crawl. She chases him everywhere, "Yah yah yaaaah"-ing. Titus calmly removes himself.

Well, Friday, I dunno, maybe Titus figured out that Daughter was away for a while (the mountain of food in his bowl would be a clue), so he was in charge of the Nugget, but when she headed for him, he stayed put.

He was very patient when the Nugget examined his ears (she knows "gently, gently", meaning "touch but don't grab and pull", usually applied to plants and necklaces). I said "gently", and she felt his ears, and he accepted it. He rolled onto his side, and the Nugget climbed over him and rocked on him. Titus didn't get up and move, slowly so as not to spill her, until about the fourth time Nugget tried to pull out a handful of fur.

It was pretty amazing.

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All of a sudden stockings are bad? Huh? When and why did that happen? I'm reading descriptions of what people are wearing in which nylon stockings are sneered at, and it seems to be spreading.

I don't understand.

Apparently opaque tights are ok. And bare legs are ok. But stockings are not? What? Why? Are the tights manufacturers (and waxing and tanning salons) paying people to sneer at the competition? Are people really being "lead" like that? Sheeple? Why do we listen and accept that drivel? Propaganda!

Standards that women have to adhere to are going up and up. We've got too many other things to do! We don't need this crap! I think it's a conspiracy to make women give up and retreat back into the kitchen.
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3416 NJ defined

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Washington DC is the city of southern efficiency and northern hospitality.

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Just about everyone in NJ has seen this:
The story is here: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/12/nj_man_puts_rednecks_hippies_a.html. The comments on the article are amusing, too.


A few people think the guy has made NJ look bad, but most think it's a riot and very accurate. I don't know. But it does make me want to explore NJ and find out for myself how accurate it is. Like, visit a diner or a municipal park in each area.

I, by the way, live right on the line between "where they filmed Clerks" and "old people and Asians", near the bay.

Now I have to watch "Clerks", too.
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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

3415 A-Caroling We Shall Go

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why aren't southern schools teaching the difference between "when" and "whenever"? "Ever" and "every"? How do people understand each other?

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My sister sent me this link. Go to http://www.sundoginteractive.com/carolofthechins/flash/card.swf.

Type in the name of a carol, and the puppets chins? will sing the first few lines for you.

After you've tried a few old standards, try Jingle Bell Rock, Frosty the Snowman, Joy to the World, and Ring Christmas Bells (a.k.a. The Carol of the Bells). They get a bit funky with those.

The Carol of the Friendly Beasts gets you The Carol of the Bells, which is sad because Friendly Beasts is one of my favorites.

Let me know if you find others that are fun. (BTW, they don't know Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.)
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3414 Lost & Found & Lost

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Howard A. Brown, letter to US News & World Reports, 12/27/99, paraphrased:
It's easier to make a smart gun than a smart person.

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I just had a strange experience with coincidence.

I had briefly dated a guy 25 years ago, shortly before moving from Washington to New York. His birthday was the same day as mine, but he was a year or two older. Met him in Washington Mensa. Strong squared face, dark eyes, dark hair hanging over his forehead, bronze skin. Smoothly but well muscled. Half Cherokee, originally from North Carolina. Deep voice with a hint of southern soft. Pretty damn gorgeous.

The first time he invited me to his apartment, he said he'd cook me dinner, and then we could sit in front of the fire and sip wine.

Well, I had been to his apartment for a Mensa party or two. I said, "Fire? But you don't have a fireplace." He answered, "There's a corner of the dining room I'm not using."

Well, he uses an unusual shortened form of his first name, and I had forgotten his last name. It's also a little unusual, you don't hear it often. This morning I came across the last name in a book I'm reading and of course I immediately thought of him. He's the type who would be on Facebook, so I went looking for him.

I found seven men by that name. The first one on the list had a photo that looked about the right age, AND the right nickname and last name, AND his profile said he was retired from working for Montgomery County (that's the county we'd lived in, just north of DC!), AND it said he spoke English AND Cherokee! Hey! What're the chances? Name, age, location, and Cherokee? Gotta be him, right?

I looked more carefully at the photo, and thought, yeah, we've all aged, but time has not treated him well. Doesn't look like the mid-thirties him at all. Pretty sad, really. Life must have treated him badly the past few decades. I actually felt sorry for him.

Then I read a little further, and the "Montgomery County" he had worked for is in Ohio! Ohio? Not Maryland?

It's not him!

Wow. That's weird.

(Probably not a brother, not with the same first name. And if they are related somehow, it's still weird about the counties.)
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Monday, December 05, 2011

3413 Swimming to Australia

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's impossible to learn what you think you already know.

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I think I was depressed for the past month or two. It happens occasionally. I never recognize it until it's passing. Not a clinical depression, if you know what I mean - a situational depression. I didn't want to go anywhere or do anything. Even the grocery store. Didn't want to get dressed. When I ran out of stuff I'd stand at the pantry and wonder what I could eat instead. I haven't yet stowed away any of the latest load of clothing and trinkets I'd brought back from the old house.

I finally recognized it a day or two ago, when I noticed I'd been living almost exclusively in the internet. Reading long articles that don't really matter. Looking stuff up that has no meaning. Following Wikipedia links into the hinterlands. It really hit home when I realized my internet shopping was out of control. I do that when I'm unhappy - I buy myself gifts. They have to arrive in the mail, like a surprise, to be a gift.

The slide all started the first week in October, when Hercules was in Ireland, and Daughter's back went out, and I had to rush back from the old house to care for her. I took over the Nugget for a few days, and then when Daughter was able to lift Nugget again, my back went out from lifting Nugget, and being older, mine took longer to get happy again.

Then Daughter got that cold that was going around, the one with the sore throat and copious nasal and sinus congestion, and general raggedness. Nugget was sick, too. So for several days I had Nugget during the day so Daughter could nap, because Nugget was worse at night, so Daughter had been sleeping on the floor in Nugget's room and up and down with her all night.

Nugget and Daughter got better, but then I came down with the snots. It's bad only maybe two days, but my sinuses are scarred from an epic infection in the early '80s, and the sinus reaction goes on and on for weeks after a cold. No infection, just irritation that produces glop that requires horrendous snorts to clear when it thickens and catches on the soft palate, and it constantly sloughs down the back of my throat and makes me cough. And nobody can cough like I can. My coughs wrack my body. Every cough produces a mouthful of glop.

Naturally, my back went out from the coughing.

The Man has been working out of state, but would be in NJ during that time that Daughter was sick. He wanted to get together. When I mentioned the colds, he decided not, saying he catches everything that comes down the pike - which was just as well because the day he would have arrived, I was starting the sore throat and sniffling.

So, right now my back is still delicate. I can finally sit comfortably. No pain, but I feel that warning twinge every time I move. The coughing and snorting has lessened. And now I recognize how depressed I'd been.

I haven't been to the old house since early October. Winter is coming. There's so very much to do. Until I can get it on the market and actually sell it, it's costing me $1,500/month or more in taxes, utilities, and insurance. I can't go when I'm sick or when my back is out. It's so upsetting it has been causing nightmares and insomnia from a churning mind.

And I haven't seen The Man in ages.

I look at photos of me from just 12 months ago and compare them to now, and I have aged a lot. My weight is also creeping up.

Yesterday I sort of woke up a little. I actually did a few things around here.

We'll see....
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3412 Joke 2

Monday, December 5, 20011

He who votes does not have power. He who counts the votes has power.
-- Stalin ---

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How to Identify Where a Driver is From:

* One hand on wheel, one hand on horn: Chicago

* One hand on wheel, one finger out window: New York

* One hand on wheel, one hand on newspaper, foot solidly on accelerator: Boston

* One hand on wheel, cradling cell phone, brick on accelerator: California. With gun in lap: L.A.

* Both hands on wheel, eyes shut, both feet on brake, quivering in terror: Ohio, but driving in California.

* Both hands in air, gesturing, both feet on accelerator, head turned to talk to someone in back seat: Italy

* One hand on lap, one knee on wheel, cradling cell phone, foot on brake, mind on game: Seattle

* One hand on wheel, one hand on hunting rifle, alternating between both feet being on the accelerator and both on the brake, throwing a McDonalds bag out the window: Texas city male

* One hand on wheel, one hand hanging out the window, keeping speed steadily at 70mph, driving down the center of the road unless coming around a blind curve, in which case they are on the left side of the road: Texas country male

* One hand constantly refocusing the rear-view mirror to show different angles of the BIG hair, one hand going between mousse, brush, and rat-tail to keep the helmet hair going, both feet on the accelerator, poodle steering the car, chrome .38 revolver with mother-of-pearl inlaid handle in the glove compartment: Texas female

* Four wheel drive pickup truck, shotgun mounted in rear window, beer cans on floor, squirrel tails attached to antenna: West Virginia

* Two hands gripping wheel, blue hair barely visible above window level, driving 35 on the interstate in the left lane with the left blinker on: Florida

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Challenge to readers: Add one for your state in the comments.
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Saturday, December 03, 2011

3411 Joke 1

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Don't worry about people stealing your idea. If it's original,
you'll have to ram it down their throats.
-- Howard Aiken --

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How many dogs does it take to change a light bulb? It depends on the breed.
  • Golden Retriever: The sun is shining, the day is young, we've got our whole lives ahead of us, and you're inside worrying about a stupid burned-out light bulb?
  • Lab: Oh, me, me!!! Pleeeeeeze let me change the light bulb! Can I? Can I? Huh? Huh? Can I?
  • Border Collie: Just one. And I'll replace any wiring that's not up to code.
  • Dachshund: I can't reach the stupid lamp!
  • Toy Poodle: I'll just blow in the Border collie's ear and he'll do it.By the time he finishes rewiring the house, my nails will be dry.
  • Rottweiler: Go Ahead! Make me!
  • Shi-tzu: Puh-leeze, dah-ling. Let the servants. . . .
  • Malamute: Let the Border collie do it. You can feed me while he's busy.
  • Cocker Spaniel: Why change it? I can still pee on the carpet in the dark.
  • Doberman Pinscher: While it's dark, I'm going to sleep on the couch.
  • Mastiff: Mastiffs are NOT afraid of the dark.
  • Hound Dog: ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZAP
  • Keeshund: (Stands with furrowed brow for several minutes, then wanders off having forgotten what the problem was.)
  • Chihuahua: Yo quiero Taco Bulb.
  • Pointer: I see it, there it is, right there... there... there... see?
  • Greyhound: It isn't moving. Who cares?
  • Australian Kelpie: First I'll put all the light bulbs in a little circle...
  • Old English Sheep Dog: Light bulb? Light bulb? That thing I just ate was a light bulb?

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Friday, December 02, 2011

3410 Frost

Friday, December 2, 2011

Never ever lie to your child or make promises you don't intend to keep.
It may be convenient at the moment,
but the child will never again trust or believe you.
-- Silk --

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The online weather reports say it's 37 F out there, but the extremely accurate darkroom thermometer I had tucked into the geranium pots says 0 C/32 F. Our first real frost.

It begins.

Yuck.

(It's 25 F at the old house upriver.)
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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

3409 Propaganda

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Insurance of whatever kind is supposed to be there in case something goes wrong.
It has been my experience that having insurance seems to prevent anything going wrong.
Let it lapse, and you'll find out....
-- Silk --

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Latest Nugget (yesterday):

We have one tooth breaking through on the bottom, and one on the top. And she's now crawling properly on hands and knees, and she's FAST! The cats are no longer safe.

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This article is short and interesting: http://health.yahoo.net/news/s/afp/healthpoliticsusbritain

To quote from the intro:
"Everyone knows that liberals and conservatives butt heads when it comes to world views, but scientists have now shown that their brains are actually built differently.

Liberals have more gray matter in a part of the brain associated with understanding complexity, while the conservative brain is bigger in the section related to processing fear, said the study on Thursday in Current Biology."
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At http://www.purewatergazette.net/propagandainamerica.htm, there's a good article entitled Propaganda: Nobody Does It Better Than America, by Paul Weber. It's a bit longer, but it's very good. I highly recommend a skim.

We all know that sex sells products. Fear and repetition sells ideas. Appeals to logic and fact sells nothing.

It's sometimes difficult to recognize propaganda - attempts to control your mind and how you think - especially when the propaganda is all you are given to consider, it's repeated over and over as if it's an accepted fact, and you are not given the real facts. Fear-based propaganda works especially well on the conservative brain.

Think about how our freedoms have been eroded over the past ten years, and how so many of us have been convinced that it's for our own good. And it's all based on fear.
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Monday, November 28, 2011

3408 Bah, humbug.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The ugliest furniture will be forgiven anything if it's comfortable and useful.
That goes for people, too.
-- Silk --

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Need another reason why I don't much care for the way Christmas is celebrated? Try this.

They stepped over him!
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Sunday, November 27, 2011

3407 Be thankful for refrigerators!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The fastest way to drop ten years in appearance is to smile, and make sure the smile lines near your eyes show. Those are the most attractive wrinkles.
Show them.
-- Silk --

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I am reading American Frugal Housewife, by Mrs. Child, "Dedicated to those who are not ashamed of economy." First published in 1833 by Carter, Hendee, and Co., Boston, now published by Applewood Books, Bedford, MA, publishers of America's Living Past.

Extensive passages on the preserving of meats and vegetables. When you read about how meats were packed in salt or brine, how long meats were kept (in a cool spot in the cellar), what a frugal housewife could do to freshen meat that was no longer "sweet", you wonder how they could EAT that stuff. And having eaten it, how they could live. And having eaten it and lived, how come their heads weren't blown off by their salt-induced blood pressure!

Most meats were cooked at a fast boil for hours and hours. I wondered how there could be any flavor left. Meat was then served slathered in butter - I guess because by the time it hit the table, it was dried out.

The other thing that struck me was how long vegetables were cooked. I don't see how anything was much more than unidentifiable mush.

We see the fireplaces in quaint colonial villages, and think about cooking over a fire as something like campfire cooking, but we don't have the faintest idea what was involved in getting the ingredients into the pot.

That part was seriously hairy.
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3406 I guess I'm not a nice person.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

If you have a dark cat, have light carpeting, and vice-versa.
The shed hair might show up more, but so will a sleeping cat.
-- Silk --

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I'm reading Dean Koontz's What the Night Knows (found it in a remainder bin). I'm about 2/3 through it, and already I'm hoping that the ending has the detective possessed and murdering his insufferable family and ending up raving mad in the state hospital he visited in the first chapter.
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3405 Stupid

Sunday, November 27, 2011

It always amazes me to think that every house on every street is full of so many stories, so many triumphs and tragedies, and all we see are yards and driveways.
-- Glenn Close --

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There are some Mensans who write compile and publish logical puzzle, brain teaser, and riddle books that are published with the Mensa logo and name on them. They're "approved and endorsed by" Mensa. I don't know what that means, whether anyone in authority ever read them, but I think many of them are an embarrassment to the organization.

When Jay was first diagnosed with the brain tumor, he was worried about losing logical function, so we bought some of those books to "test" him. We had planned to work through a bit every so often, and then maybe we'd be able to see or not see any loss of function, and it would be good mental exercise.

We got through maybe five pages in several books, and threw the damn things away. Puzzle after puzzle was poorly posed, so poorly posed that we came up with two or three possible answers that fit. For example, in one puzzle involving family relationships, the "answer" stated that blah blah blah, "because John was only 12 at the time and therefore cannot be the father." Duh? Many 12-year-olds are perfectly capable of fathering a child.

Others assumed without stating a 2-dimensional relationship, completely ignoring that fact that there were several other possible answers in 3-dimensions.

The books made us angry.

A few days ago, I found this: http://www.funny.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/Funny.woa/wa/funny?fn=C2APC&Funny_Jokes=MENSA_IQ_Test. It bugged me, because it presents itself as a "Mensa test". It isn't. At best, it's a sampling of simple riddles from some of the books above, and repeats the sloppiness of those books. Yeah, it's a joke site, but ... really ....

I got so annoyed I tried to comment, but commenting required registering, and I don't register on any but commercial sites with good reputations (first step in avoiding spam and viruses).

And then today, a woman whom I know personally to be intelligent to the point of social disability posted some of the riddles on a Mensa social site.

My brain exploded.

Examples:
Captain Frank and some of the boys were exchanging old war stories. Art Bragg offered one about how his grandfather led a battalion against a German division during World War I. Through brilliant maneuvers, he defeated them and captured valuable territory. After the battle he was presented with a sword bearing the inscription "To Captain Bragg for Bravery, Daring and Leadership. World War I. From the Men of Battalion 8." Captain Frank looked at Art and said, "You really don't expect anyone to believe that yarn, do you?"
What's wrong with the story?
The official answer: It's a lie. The inscription wouldn't have been "World War I".
My answer: There's nothing wrong with the story. "After" is not defined. The sword could have been presented at the 40th reunion of the battle/battalion.
How many times can you subtract the number 5 from 25?
The Official answer: Once. Thereafter, you are subtracting 5 from 20, 15, 10, etc.
My answer: An infinite number of times, and I get 20 every time.
There were an electrician and a plumber waiting in line for admission to the International Home Show," One of them was the father of the other's son. How could this be possible?
The Official answer: They were husband and wife.
My answer: If this confused you at all, you are very naive. They could still both be men. In any other joke, one of them would be a milkman. (Or, these days, they could be a gay couple who have adopted.)

Yeah, I understand that these examples are poor choices because they're "Ha! Gotcha!" riddles, whereas the brain teasers in the published books are much more serious - but I don't happen to have any of the serious ones at my fingertips. My objections, however, are the same. They don't consider other views or out-of-the-box thinking.
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