Saturday, February 19, 2011

3168 Life is what happens when you're not looking

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The philosophy of the school room in one generation
will be the philosophy of government in the next.
-- Abraham Lincoln --


Got this one from my sister - Homemade Implants:


I haven't been here in a few days. Haven't really been keeping up with others' blogs, either. I guess I've been busy.

Thursday evening I drove northwest to have dinner with the Southern Orange Mensa sub-group. It was supposed to be a 1.5 hour drive, but it took two because I followed the GPS, and he took me down tiny roads, through areas with traffic lights every quarter mile, during rush hour, finishing up with a narrow winding road through the mountains, in the dark. It took two harrowing hours, which, given the route and time of day, was pretty good time. I don't think I'll use the GPS for that trip any more. I'll go north on the highways, then ask his opinion just for the cut over to the west.

After leaving there, I drove northeast another 1.25 hours to the old house.

On Friday I filled more bags and boxes to throw out, recycle, sell, and bring back here. It's still pretty overwhelming. I visited Piper and his daughter at their office before heading back here. Piper was pretty low. His favorite sister had gone into the hospital for surgery in early January, and picked up a MRSA infection that rapidly shut down organs, starting with her kidneys. It's been touch and go since then.

He'd gotten the call Thursday afternoon that she had maybe 48 hours, so he and his niece were wait-listed on a flight to Florida early Saturday morning. Holiday weekend. Bad for travel. Piper's elderly mother is in poor health, and the family had not told her that her daughter was so ill, hoping for a miracle to make it unnecessary, so now Piper is worried about what this will do to his mother.

And, as if all that isn't enough, it looks like his housemate may be having a recurrence of breast cancer.

Not a good week for Piper.

We went to the diner for coffee, and ended up eating an early dinner.


Just before meeting with Piper, as I was putting the last things into the car, The Hunk came barreling up the driveway. (It's funny, but whenever I see him driving up, he looks like a Mountie.) We talked for a while. It might have been longer, but I had to head down to Peter's office.

Anyway, the Suzy the Suzuki is still there, and he suggested that I start her. I haven't started her on the last few visits because she's been pretty much buried in snow. So, we stomped down the snow on the passenger side so we could get the door open, and I crawled across and started her. Good Girl! She started right up!

Then she started blowing smoke into the passenger cabin. Nothing coming out from under the hood, but definite smoke inside. Turned her off, checked under the hood, nothing burning. Gave it up for now. Next trip north we'll have to figure it out. Maybe a mouse nest in the heater? A belt rubbing? Whatever....


Today I've been sorting and laundering and distributing what I brought back last night. Went out for lunch with Daughter. Trying to catch up with email, news, and blogs. The online Mensa groups have been buzzing all week with the Watson/Jeopardy thing. And having missed the first of this season's Survivor I had to watch it online.

Life goes on. I play catch up.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

3167 A wandering mind

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"All meetings last longer than they should."
-- Scott Adams --


An oddity: When I was young, the islands of the Caribbean were often referred to as the West Indies. You never hear that anymore.


When Daughter was in school, I would get very annoyed because when the allotted snow days were used up, in order to meet the mandated minimum, the school board would extend the school year into middle to late June, despite the fact that Spring Break was supposed to be used. The reason? Because teachers had scheduled vacations during Spring Break and were angry that they might have to eat plane tickets. The teachers were stupid to count on having those days.

Something has changed in the past twenty years. The school district at the old house has announced that they have already used up the snow allotment, and if there are any more snow days, they will use the Spring Break. Cool.

What I don't understand is the way they have chosen to use it - guaranteed to piss off a lot of people.
"If school needs to be closed for emergency reasons, weather-related or otherwise, and additional “make-up” days are needed, classes will then be in session first on Wednesday, April 20, and thereafter on Thursday, April 21, and then on Tuesday, April 19th, in that order. If additional “make-up” days are needed beyond that, April 18 and April 22 will then be under consideration."
This says that if one more snow day is needed, they're taking it out of the middle of the break.

I don't understand.

I guess maybe they're thinking that they'll at least preserve two long weekends?


There's a lot of talk about raising the Social Security retirement age again. There's something they're not taking into consideration.

Not so very long ago, if you got a good job, and kept your nose clean and your manager happy (which was often a contradiction, if you know what I mean), and kept your skills up, you pretty much had a job for life.

Nowadays, the only people with that much security are folks in strong unions. High tech companies have pretty much been able to avoid unionization. The technology, however, changes so quickly these days that those companies find it efficient to get rid of older folks (who are higher on the salary ladder) and replace them with new college graduates, at a lower starting salary, who will impact company-sponsored health plans less, and who already know the new stuff.

This means that people over 50 are finding it increasingly difficult to find permanent jobs. They end up working temporary contracts, with minimal benefits, no vacations, and no retirement plan. (The benefits of contracting at different companies in various industries are that you end up with a robust and varied resume, which makes it easier to get the next contracting job. The down side is that it still doesn't help you to get a permanent job with all the benefits.) Periods of unemployment between contracts make it difficult to maintain your own retirement plans.

The saddest cases are the folks who worked for the same company for 24 years and then were replaced by a kid. They are 50 years old and have experience specific to that industry and, worse, skills possibly specific only to that company.

It isn't going to get any better. The days of the lifetime job are over. It's only going to get worse.

These folks who want to raise S.S. eligibility to 70, what do they think people will be doing for the last 25 years (or more, the way things are going) of their working life? Nobody is guaranteeing that they'll have a job until then.

Of course, the people who are proposing, considering, and will be voting on this plan have lifetime benefits and a generous retirement, regardless of how long they are in office. They have no idea what others have to contend with.


I've been checking around for a hair salon. Becs has even offered her adored Herschel. I'm sort of keeping that in reserve (thanks Becs), but closer would be better.

I want someone who will cut my hair DRY. Not just will cut it dry, but fully understands why I want it cut dry.

There are places online where one can read customer reviews, but I'm suspicious of them. How do I know those reviews are not plants - employees or family and friends of employees?

So, I did something dangerous.

I bought a fine-tooth rattail comb. I already have hair shears. I trimmed it myself. I didn't change the style. I just parted it every which way and smoothed the choppiness, trimmed wherever chunks of hair were sticking out beyond the other hairs around them. It's still a little chunky because in some spots chunks were so short it would have been pretty drastic to cut the longer stuff around them down to that length, so I had to leave it uneven. And the right side is still slightly longer than the left. But it does blend a lot nicer now, and it looks less like a wig at the back of my neck.

I like it now.

Monday, February 14, 2011

3166 Google search rankings

Monday, February 14, 2011

"In any group of three people, there's generally at least one disruptive moron."
-- Scott Adams --


Ever wonder how sites end up on the top in Google searches? The answer:

3165 Memory lost

Monday, February 14, 2011

"To mediocre minds, a brilliant idea and a stupid idea sound identical."
-- Scott Adams --


When I first moved here, I was amazed at how good my memory suddenly got.

I've always had difficulty remembering things like my phone number, other people's names (my favorite story was when I called Daughter's high school from work to tell the office that I'd be picking her up for a doctor's appointment, and I couldn't remember my own Daughter's name - true story!), addresses, zip codes, which doctor I see, who my lawyer is, and so on. When I worked, I carried a notebook everywhere with an organization chart inside the cover, because otherwise I'd forget my own manager's name.

(On the other hand, I used to be able to remember all conversations word-for-word. I might not remember who I was talking with, but I could quote it back. When I was young, I could remember every word I read, to the point that I could tell you whether a particular sentence was on the right or left page, toward the top or bottom. But I couldn't tell you the name of the text/book/article/magazine or the author.)

But somehow, here, I picked it all up so easily. I GOT it all! I remembered new neighbor's names, my address, my phone number, names of localities, utility companies, the builder, the lawyer, all the street names involved in directions to the new house (which wasn't easy, because it seems like every place and street name around here is some combination of "wood", "bridge", "cliff", "water", "beach", "port", and "concourse", all mixed up in various unimaginative combinations).

I was so amazed at how easily names came to mind. I wondered if it had something to do with the water or something.

It's gone.

Suddenly now, I can't even remember conversations. Daughter will swear she told me something or other, and I have no memory whatsoever of the conversation. I'm having difficulty putting together street names, including my own. I just go blank. I have a sticky right now on the desk shelf right in front of my face, the word "CUMBERLAND" very carefully printed in capital letters, which means that it was important that I not mistake or misspell it --- and I have no memory of having stuck it up there, or what it means.

The toilet is the really scary one.

I always close the toilet lid before flushing it. I never leave the toilet open (a lifetime of kittens and puppies). Never ever. And I have a rather distinctive way of folding the toilet paper for use. And I always flush immediately upon standing. These are ingrained lifetime habits.

Twice in the past week (this morning was the second) when I got up in the morning, I've found the toilet lid up, and piddle in there. I'm pretty sure it's mine because of the way the paper is folded, but I have no memory of having used the toilet during the night.

Have I started sleepwalking? Or just forgetting?

After the past few months of being so sharp, this is downright scary.

The only thing I can think of that's changed is that I am no longer taking the thyroid supplement, and the memory problems seem to have started about a week after the last pill (I don't remember for sure, heh). 'Tis a mystery.


Later: I searched for "thyroid memory". Surprise. Memory loss is a common symptom of hypothyroidism. But last Monday's blood panel says my TSH is fine, and so the doctor won't renew my prescription for the thyroid supplement. The doctor's office said they'd mail the report to me, but it hasn't arrived yet.

I dug around in purses and suitcases and located four more pills. I'll take them and see what happens. Maybe I need the tests repeated.

You know, some of the numbers were so far off what is usual for me, I'm beginning to wonder if they had the right patient....

3164 Hair rebellion report

Monday, February 14, 2011

"95% of science fiction is crap. Come to think of it, 95% of *everything* is crap."
-- Theodore Sturgeon --


One month and one day (4.5 weeks) into the great hair rebellion, and I think I may have to retreat, maybe just temporarily. My cut is not good. I think when it grows out a little and I can get a good cut I'll try again. The problem is that my hair is getting stronger and more ... defiant. The natural wave and curl is more definite. It lifts a lot. Most mornings I'm channeling Rod Stewart, and when I try to get it to lie down a little, the bad layering and uneveness is obvious. The shorter patches curl up more than the longer patches in what can only be described as chunks, and the hair doesn't want to blend, if you know what I mean.

Shampoo will soften it a bit, encourage it to blend.

I'd been bleaching the crown and front, because there were darker spots, and I haven't colored it in about ten weeks because now that it's short, it's a good time to find out what it really looks like. So there's an inch and a half of strong healthy unprocessed roots, and that's where all the lift is coming from. It'll behave differently when all the bleached part is cut off. That might be scary. It might go into electric socket mode. Bzzzzzzzzt! But even that could look good if it's well cut.

It should be ready for reshaping in about three weeks, so I've got that long to find a good salon (and I don't have the faintest idea how. I haven't seen a single woman down here that has anything near the style I'd like, cut the way I'd like, so there's no one to ask. In fact, I could start by asking everyone where they get their hair cut, then quietly cross those salons off the list).

Sunday, February 13, 2011

3163 Sistine and blood

Sunday, February 13, 2011

“Unquestioned answers are more dangerous than unanswered questions.” Put another way, “Unanswered questions may be frustrating, but unquestioned answers are dangerous.”


When you hear "Sistine Chapel", you think of the panel wherein the finger of God is reaching to Adam. And that's about all.

You can see the entire Sistine Chapel at, a Vatican website. Wow!

It's a bit difficult to navigate at first. The controls are down in the lower left corner, but they don't explain what the cursor controls get you. You have to play with it a bit. Moving around isn't intuitive. It took me a half hour to get the snake and the apple right-side-up.

The painting around the sides seem to come from a much later date. They have a more Flemish look.

See if you can find the copyright mark on the floor.


I don't know about Michelangelo, folks. His men all look like overblown bodybuilders, and his women look like male bodybuilders with globes glued to their chests. Don't real (natural) breasts kind of slope out from the collar bones? Does anyone have creases above as well as below? Even the babies are overdeveloped.

Yeah, I know people, including women, did more physical labor then, and were likely well muscled, but women sans steroids just don't get the same structure as men. That much definition requires more testosterone. Women's layer of fat under the skin softens the "cut". Also, the average woman was probably perpetually either pregnant or nursing, but that still doesn't explain those breasts.

I saw the real Pieta once. My first reaction* was that Mary was HUGE! If Jesus had been standing, he'd have been half her height, and maybe a quarter her weight. (*Well, second reaction. The first was, "That's one honkin' huge hunk of marble!")

It all makes me wonder if maybe old Mikey had some issue with women.


Daughter and I got into a discussion of infectious waste (that which carries pathogens, as opposed to hazardous waste which is poisonous or otherwise harmful but not necessarily infectious) the other day, while she was waiting out her three-hour glucose test at the vampire's office, when I saw someone drop a blood-spotted bandaid in the waste paper basket.

She said it wasn't enough blood to be considered infectious. She does therapeutic massage in an acupuncture office, and she often works on people right after their acupuncture session. She says they sometimes are covered with little spots of blood. She does the massage with her bare hands.

I was horrified! Viruses are tiny, all it takes is ONE, just ONE, to infect you with hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, whatever, and a single speck of blood can carry a zillion of the hungry little bastards. All it takes is one! How can ANY amount of blood not be considered potentially infectious!

When I was riding the ambulance, we were serious about it. Even a speck went into the red box.

I don't understand.

When I got home I looked up the rules/laws, and yeah, infectious waste requiring special handling is defined as "pourable or drippable amounts of blood or body fluids, or items saturated with blood or body fluids". Saturated being defined as capable of dripping if squeezed.

They have to be kidding me. That makes no sense. All it takes is one viral body, and you don't need to be able to pour it to get that.

I am horrified. I wonder why they bother having any rule at all.

(Oh, yeah. Reading further, the answer is money, of course. Regular waste costs x to dispose of. Non-infectious medical waste costs 3x for disposal. Infectious waste costs 15x for disposal. So the definition is to limit costs while looking like you're making some attempt at controlling infection and protecting other patients and medical workers.)

3162 Health Insurance then and now

Sunday, February 13, 2011

“The first man to compare the cheeks of a young woman to a rose
was obviously a poet; the first to repeat it was possibly an idiot.”
-- DalĂ­ --


An observation on the deterioration of health insurance: Back in the late '60s and early '70s, if my doctor prescribed aspirin, my insurance paid for it. Same with any OTC meds and supplements. There were NO copays or deductibles. No premiums other than what the employer paid. Once when I was hospitalized, in 1970, I was covered by two insurance plans - my employer's and Ex#1's employer's - and both paid in full. I was worried that it was a mistake, but both companies said no, that it was ok, and if I had money left over I could keep it. "If it makes you feel better, use it for costs associated with time off work, pet care, bed jackets to wear in the hospital, whatever."

In the '80s, Daughter was covered under my policy with The Company, and under her father's (Ex#2's) policy, also with The Company. Although by then coverage had been reduced (we had copays and deductibles, and no double payments), because she was covered under both, one policy covered the copays and deductibles on the other, so she was covered 100%.

Compare that to now.


Something else to compare then to now: Under those health plans, for everything except hospital charges, you had to pay the bills and submit the receipts for payment. Ex#2 and I were divorced, and I had full custody. I took Daughter to the doctor, paid all the bills, filled out the forms, and submitted the receipts to my plan, with Ex#2's plan as secondary payer.

The Company cut the checks, and sent them to him! Not me! And he, of course, never notified me that he'd received any checks. He cashed or deposited them without a blink, without a word to me. Since all the paperwork from The Company went to him, too, I had no idea that payment had been made, or for how much. I had to call Human Resources and ask. And that SOB often claimed he'd never received the checks (not out of meanness - he'd just "forget", and he was a tightwad and didn't want to give me any money).

I was furious with The Company. They said it was company policy to send checks to the father, regardless of court dispositions, regardless of who paid the bills and submitted the claims. It took me more than a year and the threat of a sexual discrimination suit to get them to change the policy, and even then the policy applied only to me, and only because I was also a Company employee. I wondered how many other non-employee women weren't getting their checks and had no recourse, had to beg their exes for the insurance checks.

Compare that to now.

People now seem to think calling a woman a feminist is some kind of insult. They don't know what it was once like, and how hard it was to change the rules.

3261 Thoughts on Egypt 2

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.


If you're watching "Sunday Morning", they're saying pretty much the same thing I said in the previous post.