Saturday, January 15, 2011

3232 This one's for Becs

Saturday, January 15, 2011

“Immature love is wanting the other person to be happy with you. Mature love is wanting the other person to be happy. Period.”


Becs will understand this.

Almost alike. Same style, same fabric, different color, different print. I always shorten the sleeves to 3/4 length.

Friday, January 14, 2011

3231 Gutters

Friday, January 14, 2011

"We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart."
-- HL Mencken --


I have a serious problem with the gutters on the new house. I guess they're full of leaves or something, because they aren't draining. They've got an ice buildup, and as the snow is melting on the roof (absolutely bad insulation! Not just wind blowing the snow off. You can actually see ridges of snow over the rafters) the melt water is dripping over the edges of the gutters, and has built up icicles on the backside of the gutters, which is bad for the eaves and roof.

The more immediate problem is that the water dripping off the icicles has covered the driveway and porch stoop with a very thick layer of ice. Salt is ineffective, because the driveway slopes and within minutes the salt is washed away by the dripping water, down over the ice all the way down the driveway. And the stoop is cement, so I can't use salt there anyway. I tried kitty litter, but you just slide on the litter sliding on the ice. No traction.

I am worried that
a) the car will slide when I leave the garage, taking out the neighbor's car parked across the street, and
b) someone will slip on the stoop and sue me.

I guess maybe I need some gravel or sand, although I wonder how long it would take for that to become ineffectively buried in new ice. What I really need is the gutters cleaned, but can "they" (whoever "they" is, and that's another problem) do that when everything is all ice?

I have to figure it out, or locate some sand, or something, by Tuesday morning, because I'm having some very heavy furniture delivered then, and ice will make it very difficult and dangerous.



An interesting detail, the temperature here is now 25 degrees F. The current temperature at the old house is 1.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

3230 An experiment in rebellion

Thursday, January 13, 2010

"No matter how fast the light travels, it always finds
darkness has got there first and is waiting for it."


Offered for consideration:

1. In the 1950s, we washed our hair once a week or so. For once a month conditioning, we used (real) mayonnaise, eggs, or beer. Our hair was not oily. In fact, it tended to be dry, flyaway, and generally unmanageable for a few days after washing. We brushed it every day - the famous 100 strokes. For school photos, we were cautioned not to wash our hair for at least two days before the photo session. Split ends were not a common problem. They mostly happened to people who spent a lot of time in the sun, or who bleached their hair.

Sometime in the late '50s, Tame, the first commercial conditioner, became available. It was used mainly by mothers on children's hair, to make the comb out after washing less painful.

2. There was some super expensive "hairdresser to the stars", complete with unidentifiable accent, on TV a few weeks ago. He said that the way we treat our hair today is silly. We wash all the natural oils out of our hair, and then replace it with "product". He said that we really need only rinse our hair thoroughly with hot water - at first maybe on the same schedule as we have been washing it, then as our scalps get used to not being stripped, gradually less. We might go through a rough adjustment period, but after a few weeks we will have consistently smooth shiny hair with no breakage and no static or fly away.

3. It's a fact that your scalp is self-regulating. Unless you have a medical condition, your scalp produces exactly as much oil as your hair requires. Brushing is necessary to distribute the oil to the ends. When you wash your hair every day, the scalp produces more oil to replace what has been washed out, which means that when you miss a day, there's an overabundance of oil produced. (Any woman who has ever breastfed is familiar with the phenomenon of the body producing what it thinks and has been taught is necessary, no more and no less. The scalp works the same way.)

4. There was a discussion this morning on TV about self-diagnosing and self-treating based on information from online medical sources. The expert says you have to do more research than just looking up your symptoms. You should be very suspicious of any website that wants to sell you something based on what you read on their site.

5. Now, who told us we have to wash our hair every day? Who told us we must then replace the oils (repair our hair!) with conditioners and other products? Answer: The very people who want to SELL us the shampoo and conditioners. And the more they can convince us we need to use, the better - for them.**

So, I am going to try an experiment. I have been washing my hair with a mild shampoo every three to four days and using a conditioner.

I am going to stop using shampoo and conditioner, and start just rinsing with hot water.

I used just hot water this morning, and my hair looks fine. (BTW- I went back in last Tuesday and got it cut much shorter. It's a pixie now.)

I'll let y'all know how the experiment goes.


**The most profitable thing in the world of shampoo marketing was the discovery of the word "repeat". That one word alone nearly doubled sales of shampoo. I don't remember exactly when it began appearing on shampoo bottles, sometime in the '70s, I think, but I do remember that women remarked on it, and then, like sheep, followed instructions.

Somewhere in the '90s, women discovered that they didn't really have to repeat to get the same effect (especially since young women were by then convinced that they had to wash their hair every day), so the shampoo companies tweaked the formulas. I have no "hardcopy evidence" of that tweaking, but have you noticed that the stuff won't lather with the first application? You don't get any lather until the second application - the "repeat" is now required.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

3229 Snow. Again.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

“It isn’t what we don’t know that causes the trouble;
it’s what we think we know that just ain’t so.”
-- Will Rogers --


Eight inches of snow overnight. I was all ready to try my new electric snow thrower this morning, but one of the neighbors cleared 80% of my driveway before I got out there. My new toy handled the edges that were left just fine, though.

I cleared two other neighbors' cars and Daughter's car. I like brushing snow off cars. Weird, but there's something satisfying about it.

I heard today that of the "lower 48", Florida is the only state that has not had snow already this winter.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

3228 Sad Souls

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the
principles on which it was founded."
- C. L. De Montesquieu; The Spirit of the Laws, VIII ---


The following was a post to the Mensa online group from our local scientist, Andi. I don't know how much is is her words, and how much is from an article she's quoting, but since I make no money on this blog, I don't think anyone will object either way.

The article is interesting. I think we all are already fully aware of the social effects of economic inequality, but this is a higher view.


Op-Ed Columnist
Equality, a True Soul Food
Published: January 1, 2011, "New York Times"

John Steinbeck observed that “a sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, than a germ.”
Damon Winter/The New York Times

Nicholas D. Kristof
On the Ground

That insight, now confirmed by epidemiological studies, is worth bearing in mind at a time of such polarizing inequality that the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans possess a greater collective net worth than the bottom 90 percent.

There’s growing evidence that the toll of our stunning inequality is not just economic but also is a melancholy of the soul. The upshot appears to be high rates of violent crime, high narcotics use, high teenage birthrates and even high rates of heart disease.

That’s the argument of an important book by two distinguished British epidemiologists, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. They argue that gross inequality tears at the human psyche, creating anxiety, distrust and an array of mental and physical ailments — and they cite mountains of data to support their argument.

“If you fail to avoid high inequality, you will need more prisons and more police,” they assert. “You will have to deal with higher rates of mental illness, drug abuse and every other kind of problem.” They explore these issues in their book, “The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger.”

The heart of their argument is that humans are social animals and that in highly unequal societies those at the bottom suffer from a range of pathologies. For example, a long-term study of British civil servants found that messengers, doormen and others with low status were much more likely to die of heart disease, suicide and some cancers and had substantially worse overall health.

There’s similar evidence from other primates. For example, macaque monkeys are also highly social animals, and scientists put them in cages and taught them how to push a lever so that they could get cocaine. Those at the bottom of the monkey hierarchy took much more cocaine than high-status monkeys.

Other experiments found that low-status monkeys suffered physical problems, including atherosclerosis in their arteries and an increase in abdominal fat. And as with monkeys, so with humans. Researchers have found that when people become unemployed or suffer economic setbacks, they gain weight. One 12-year study of American men found that when their income slipped, they gained an average of 5.5 pounds.

The correlation is strong around the world between countries with greater inequality and greater drug use. Paradoxically, countries with more relaxed narcotics laws, like the Netherlands, have relatively low domestic drug use — perhaps because they are more egalitarian.

Professors Wilkinson and Pickett crunch the numbers and show that the same relationship holds true for a range of social problems. Among rich countries, those that are more unequal appear to have more mental illness, infant mortality, obesity, high school dropouts, teenage births, homicides, and so on.

They find the same thing is true among the 50 American states. More unequal states, like Mississippi and Louisiana, do poorly by these social measures. More equal states, like New Hampshire and Minnesota, do far better.

So why is inequality so harmful? “The Spirit Level” suggests that inequality undermines social trust and community life, corroding societies as a whole. It also suggests that humans, as social beings, become stressed when they find themselves at the bottom of a hierarchy.

That stress leads to biological changes, such as the release of the hormone cortisol, and to the accumulation of abdominal fat (perhaps an evolutionary adaptation in preparation for starvation ahead?). The result is physical ailments like heart disease, and social ailments like violent crime, mutual distrust, self-destructive behaviors and persistent poverty. Another result is the establishment of alternative systems in which one can win respect and acquire self-esteem, such as gangs.

Granted, humans are not all equal in ability: There will always be some who are more wealthy — and others who constitute the bottom. But inequality does not have to be as harsh, oppressive and polarized as it is in America today. Germany and Japan have attained modern, efficient economies with far less inequality than we have — and far fewer social problems. Likewise, the gap between rich and poor fell during the Clinton administration, according to data cited in “The Spirit Level,” even though that was a period of economic vigor.

“Inequality is divisive, and even small differences seem to make an important difference,” Professors Wilkinson and Pickett note. They suggest that it is not just the poor who benefit from the social cohesion that comes with equality, but the entire society.

So as we debate national policy in 2011 — from the estate tax to unemployment insurance to early childhood education — let’s push to reduce the stunning levels of inequality in America today. These inequities seem profoundly unhealthy, for us and for our nation’s soul.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

3227 Naughty Pets

Sunday, January 9, 2011

"I laid my bed, now I've got to sit on it."
-- A-Rod --



The kitchen island, the snow thrower, and many other items have arrived packed in that semi-solid foam stuff. Lots of flat sheets of it. It sheds tiny balls of static-charged plastic foam that stick to everything. After putting the island together, my kitchen floor and Jasper's tail were covered with bits of it, and it quickly spread throughout the first floor.

I got the big vacuum cleaner out to clean it up, and coming around the corner I bumped the Roomba. He took that as a signal to start cleaning, so I let him go. He actually did a pretty good job, so I let him take care of it.

I goofed.

I had stacked the sheets of plastic foam against a wall in the dining room until I decided what to do with it. I was sitting at the computer with my back to the dining room, when I saw balls of plastic foam floating past my shoulders.

Roomba had found the foam, and was stuck in the middle of it, and was chewing it industriously. His exhaust (and the fact that his belly was full with what he'd already eaten) was blowing the chewed bits. The freaking stuff is now stuck to walls, ceilings, curtains ....

Bad Roomba!


Almost all my adult life I'd had lots of houseplants. The old house had high ceilings and glass across much of the west-facing walls. Before Jay died, I had several 8' and 10' plants in the livingroom and bedroom. One schefflera had an 8" diameter trunk. The last year of Jay's illness most of the plants died because I wasn't able to care for them, and the rest died during the long darkness after. I hadn't bought any more plants.

So, since he's been living with me, Jasper has had no experience with houseplants.

The new house doesn't have the light of the old, but what it has is sufficient, plus the Home Depot is selling plants that appear to be in excellent condition, CHEAP, and if I travel Daughter can water them --- so I bought some.

Jasper has been chewing on them. (Yes, I know which are poison, not to worry.)

Either he doesn't know they'll make him throw up, or he does know and that's why he chews them. Actually, that's ok.

He apparently does NOT know that kitty cats must NOT throw up on Mommy's prized hand-knotted, natural-dyed, pure silk, pastel, imported oriental carpet. That's definitely not ok. Especially since 90% of the floor space is bare.

Bad Jasper!

3226 Truth in charity, sort of....

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Love is when you want for someone whatever makes them happy,
even if it doesn't happen to include you.
-- Silk --


There's a shoe store out there, TOMS Shoes, that advertises: "With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a new pair of shoes to a child in need."

Sounds good. You buy a pair of shoes (canvas, loosely shaped, rubber soled) and TOMS delivers another child sized pair to one of a network of various aid societies, who distributes them to a needy child somewhere in the world.

TOMS can take credit for the idea and the mechanism, but in my opinion, they shouldn't take credit for the shoes. I'm pretty sure they aren't losing any money on the deal. They are not exactly a charity.

Take a look at the prices on the shoes, at the link above. They are grossly overpriced for the materials and quality. YOU are actually paying for the second pair of smaller shoes, and probably distribution costs. TOMS is providing the paperwork.

Yes, it's a good idea, but credit should be given where deserved. If you buy a pair of TOMS shoes, pat yourself on the back - not TOMS.

(And of course I, being the cynic I am, have to wonder how much of a tax break TOMS is taking for that second pair, that , actually, you paid for.)