Saturday, May 07, 2011

3243 Tired

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I may be wrong, but I am never in doubt.
-- Jay Kolb --


I went to bed very early last night and got up early (for me) this morning. I dropped off the dead printer at the recycle center, where I spotted some large plastic pots in the plastics bin - so I salvaged them. Went to the bank as soon as it opened and deposited an important check. Then to Home Depot.

The only things on the list for Home Depot were utility knife blades and a watering can. I got them, and a patio tomato plant, a sweet pepper plant, some marigolds, some impatiens, some potting soil, some pot saucers, a soil scoop and a whatchamacallit planting diggery thing. [Much later - Aha! I remembered! It's called a trowel!]

It will probably be next year before I get a real flower bed and veggie garden dug, so I planted everything in pots. I put some marigolds in with the tomato and the pepper plants. They'll look nice and discourage bugs. Bugs don't like marigolds. Marigolds have pyrethrin in them.

I started Roomba downstairs, and got out the Eureka to do the rugs, but figured I should clean the filters first. Man, they were dirty! So I washed the filters and the collection chamber and put them outside in the sun to dry.

Then I emptied the garage and swept it out, and cut up all the cardboard stored in there to take it to recycle on Monday. Then I assembled the steel shelving I had bought for the garage several months ago. It took a mallet and a little swearing. I had to fiddle around with placement of the three units. The shelves are deep, and don't leave a lot of room for the car - and Hal isn't very big. With Hal in the garage, I can't get to the shelves. But I'm willing to move Hal out when I need to, just to get some of the crap that's currently crowded into the laundry room under the stairs out of there and into the garage.

I've gone from a 1750 sq ft basement to a cubby hole under the stairs, and from an oversized 2.5 car garage with attached shed to a one car garage barely wider than a compact car.

I'm learning that some things just don't need storing. I guess.

Oh, I also dragged out the huge heavy metal ladder and changed the light bulb in the garage door opener, so now I don't have to stumble around trying to find the door in the dark when I park Hal. The light goes on when the overhead door is opened or closed, but it seems to have a motion sensor, too. Either that or it's random....and that would explain why the first bulb burned out so soon.

My back is now killing me. I'm tired.

3242 Costs of defense; Baby names

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A classic is something that everyone wants to have read, but nobody wants to read.
--Mark Twain --


This is an excellent article on what 9/11 and the resultant security has cost. It's especially exceptional considering the source. I don't usually think of Yahoo as presenting well-researched hard news.


Well, the baby did get a name before leaving the hospital. Daughter and Hercules wanted to wait until they'd met her before naming her. You know, some idea of her personality or something. Of course I can't tell the name here, but, sigh, it's pretty ordinary, and I don't think it's a family or friend retread. Which is good.

Of course, being over 65, I found something (Get off my lawn!) to be annoyed about. Their delay didn't bother me at all, but the impatience of others was grossly annoying. Not so much their friends, but other family members.

When friends called, they asked how Mommy and baby were doing, and so on. They might ask somewhere in the middle if a name had been chosen, and that was it. Family, however, really pissed me off. It got to where that was the first question they asked. And when told there was no name yet, they pushed! And pushed and pushed. Like it was of absolute vital importance that they know what the baby's name was, immediately!

I don't understand what was so hard about referring to the kid as "Daughter and Hercules' baby". What's so important about a name?

My suspicion was that they weren't so much simply wanting to know what the baby's name was --- they wanted to know who she was named after! So they'd know whether they should be flattered or insulted. That pissed me off.

I was also annoyed that Hercules' mother thrust herself into the naming game. She had no right to push or reject any names. Me, I stood back and said, to every name Daughter and Hercules explored, "Yeah, that's nice/unusual/strong/unique/pretty" as applied. I made no suggestions. I figured it wasn't my place to suggest or disapprove any names.

Hercules's mother wasn't of the same opinion. She and I have similar first names, and she suggested brightly that our name would be appropriate. That's the first time I expressed a definite opinion. I hate my first name, have always hated it, and asked that they please not saddle the kid with it. And I didn't much care if I insulted Hercules' mother. I don't think she should have put that kind of pressure on them anyway - and yeah, it was pressure, unless she's really so stupid as to assume the kids hadn't already considered and rejected that.

I'll admit I don't like her. She never shuts up, she pushes herself in even where she's been told to back off, she's a ditz. She sees signs and omens everywhere, and if she finds out your exact birthdate and time, she'll run your astrological whatchamacallit, and then for the rest of your life she'll be predicting things for you and "helping" you make decisions. Daughter had asked her not to come to the hospital when she was in labor. She did. Daughter didn't want her to know the time of birth. She does now.

When the kids mentioned possible names, she had to know the "meaning" of the name. Like it matters, you fool! One of the early names was "Sojourn", as in "Sojourner Truth". I actually liked it. But she didn't, because it means "a temporary stay", and OMG! That's a bad omen!!! Bad Bad Bad Bad Bad....

I could dislike her for that alone.

Oh, cripes.

Friday, May 06, 2011

3241 Pilin' On Hatin' On

Friday, May 6, 2011

Those who think history repeats itself will be forced to relive it.


I've been stewing over this since Sunday evening's "The Amazing Race". There's a blog that TAR fans go to and comment on as the race progresses. I rarely comment there because I can't watch and type at the same time, but I read the comments during the commercials as the show goes on because sometimes others notice something I don't, and they are sometimes funny.

Sunday night one member of each two-person team had to make a colorful chocolate Travelocity Gnome by painting the insides of a two-part mold with colored chocolate.

Everybody loves the Harlem Globetrotters team. The commenters on the fan blog generally don't like the Goth team. They also aren't very popular with the other teams because they are seen as whiners.

Most of the racers painted parts of the front of the mold first, colors that didn't touch each other, and put that part in the cooler to harden while they started on the back - and then back and forth between the two halves.

The Goth girl painted much more of her front before starting on the back. She had just started on the back, note - a fresh blank back - when the Globetrotter went to the cooler to get his back, which he had earlier partially painted, and he found it gone. Someone had taken his back.

Now, I don't know why, but the other Globetrotter, standing on the sidelines, decided the Goth girl had taken it, and loudly accused her of it. I think it had to be some other team member, someone who had also partially painted the back and confused that of the Globetrotter with his or her own. The Goth girl didn't even get a back out of the cooler! She was painting a fresh blank back!

Now here's what pissed me off. The commenters in the fan blog (all women, not incidentally) piled on and lambasted the Goth girl for taking the Globetrotter's back! Even though they knew it couldn't have been her, they gleefully accused her of stealing and cheating. Nobody defended her. Some very nasty things were said about her, and the commenters reinforced each other.

This is why I prefer not to associate with groups of women. They were castigating the Goth girl not based on facts, but just because they didn't like her. "We don't like her. Let's make up stories we want to believe about her whether they're true or not and then kill her for those lies." I've seen that happen over and over in groups of women, and if you step in and say, "hey that's not true", they'll turn on you, too. Nobody is allowed to appeal to truth and fairness.

Too many people, and for some reason especially women, prefer to believe what they want to believe, in the face of all evidence to the contrary. And if it's about someone whom they don't like or who threatens them, they pile on with glee.

I hate that. I hate hate hate hate hate it.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

3240 Ok. I'm weird.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
-- Isaac Asimov --


Appointment with the urologist today. Last week I had the blood test, x-rays, and CT scan. Also a urine something-or-other, but the doctor hasn't got the report from that yet, so I assume it was a culture. I expected to get some good news, like that we can break up the stones and then remove the stent.

I didn't get good news, or bad news, but certainly unexpected and very annoying news.

Remember how I said CT and MRI scans are slices, and small things can be missed because they might fall between slices?

The CT scan (and the x-rays, too, which I don't understand) from the White Plains hospital a month ago missed something important.

A normal arrangement looks like this:
Inside the middle of the kidney there's a hollow urine collection area. The urine produced by the kidney collects there and then flows through the ureter to the bladder. At White Plains they told me that I had a large stone blocking the ureter at the top, and a smaller stone blocking the same ureter at the bottom. They removed the bottom stone, and put in a stent (a long hollow tube that goes up through the ureter with one curl at the upper end in the kidney collection hollow, and another curl at the bottom in the bladder) to bypass the larger stone and allow urine to pass and drain. The larger stone could be handled later, after the infection was under control, and then the stent could be removed.

Last Thursday's scans and x-rays say something different.

Look at the kidney on the left side of this sketch:

Two ureters. Turns out I have two ureters on and two separate collection areas in my left kidney. This is not rare, something like 15% of the population has it. Apparently mine is slightly different from the sketch, in that the two ureters must join just above the bladder, and the smaller stone that was removed was therefore blocking both ureters. When that stone was removed, it allowed ONE of the two collection areas to drain. The other was still blocked by the larger stone at the top.

Here comes the annoying part.

They put the stent into the collection area that DOESN'T have a stone. They didn't realize I had a double kidney. The stone is still blocking the OTHER (hitherto unknown) collection area. Translation - the stent isn't doing a damn thing! It's totally useless! I still have the blockage. We don't know why I don't have any pain, and that must be what the x-ray technician noticed last Thursday, and why he asked if I was in pain.

So the urologist wants another CT scan, this one with contrast dye, so he knows exactly what he's got there. But I can't have the contrast dye without first ensuring that my kidney function is good. (They told me in White Plains that my kidney function was good, but that was then, this is now, with another month of blockage.) So I had to have another blood test today, and then call on Tuesday to find out if we can schedule the CT scan.

This time I was very clear with the phlebotomist that my arms were absolutely off limits unless it could be proven to me that the blood absolutely could not come from my hand. This time they listened to me. It took three tries, and I now have a huge purple knot on the back of my right hand, but it was still easier and much less painful.

So, this isn't finished yet. And I don't know when I'll get back to the old house.

This is ridiculous.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

3239 Situational Summary

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Divorce is tortious, tortuous, and torturous.
-- Silk --


I had the blood draw last week. As usual, I told the phlebotomist about my problem with sticks in the arm, that the hand works better, as usual she blew me off and went for the arm, "Oh, this won't hurt at all", as usual it felt like a branding iron and the nails on my other hand gripped the armrest so hard I punctured the fabric-backed vinyl upholstery. She seemed surprised. That's absolutely the last time I will be ignored. It will never happen again. That is a vow. I'll refuse and walk out if they don't listen to me.

The next day, Friday, I went in for the CT scan and x-rays. The X-ray technician took a several shots, then came out of his little room and asked if I was in pain. I was perfectly relaxed, lying on the machine bed, eyes closed, silent, almost asleep. I said, "No, should I be?" He didn't answer, went back behind his partition and took several more, moving me a little now and then. So now I'm worried. What might he have seen that would prompt him to ask if I was in pain? Why did he take so many more pictures than were necessary?

I hope I'll find out tomorrow at the urologist's appointment. I've had no calls, so I suppose there's nothing too very exciting. Probably just another stone on the right side.

I've got a few things bothering me right now (not the health stuff, that's just annoying) and I have no one I can talk with about it. It's big, family-type things that have been growing for thirty years and coming to a head now. It's a little depressing, because I don't know what to do about it.

I'd really like to talk with The Man, but he's being a bit distant right now. He's got his reasons, but it's still another bothersome thing, but not the biggest.

Another bothersome thing is a cash flow problem. I sold stock from portfolios in my own name, not the investment portfolio Piper manages, to buy this house, and what Piper doesn't seem to realize is that much of my income was dividend checks from that stock. So my income is down by 25%, but I'm paying utilities and taxes on two houses now. I'm not going to starve, but I'm scrambling to pay the bills without selling more stock and cutting my income even more.

I canceled the house phone at the old house. The monthly bill for that phone was less than $30, but I don't need it anymore. So I freaked when I got the final bill, and it was $280! They charged me $250 for "Tier 1 Auto Renewal Termination Fee"! What!? What the hell is that!?

So I called. They said I had agreed to some special low-cost plan that had an early termination fee. I asked when this plan was supposed to end. The guy said "In five weeks." I said, that makes it the first week in May? He said yes. I freaked. "That means I signed up for it last May? Last May I was aware I would be moving. At that time I thought I'd be moving in the fall. There's no way on this God's earth a) that I would sign up for ANY plan with an early termination fee if there's any other option, b) that I would agree to that when I knew I'd be moving. There's something very wrong here."

So he checked. Turns out that I'd agreed to the plan several years ago (and I'm positive no "termination fee" had been mentioned), and the plan is automatically renewed every year. I pointed out that after the first contract term, you can no longer charge a termination fee without active renewal of the agreement. Automatic renewal changes the terms to monthly. Plus, even if the fee still existed, when I called to terminate service, the rep should have mentioned it. She didn't. There's no way I am going to pay $250 for 5 weeks of non-service when I could have just paid the $40 five more weeks would have cost!

So he forgave the $250.

I wonder how many people would go ahead and pay it? That's a complete ripoff.

[Update: Wow! I found this article dated October 2009, that says the NY Attorney General went after Frontier and told them they couldn't charge the termination fee without telling customers it existed, and they couldn't charge it on auto-renewals, and they had to refund all those fees they had collected! Wow! And they're STILL DOING IT!!! I think maybe I'll write a letter to the NY Attorney General.]

The Hairless Hunk is taking a class about 25 minutes north of here this week, and Monday of next week. We got together for dinner on Monday. That was kind of a mess. We went to a Thai place near his hotel. I like Thai, and they had some really interesting things on the menu, but the table was very wide, and the place was very crowded and noisy, and I couldn't hear him, and I wasn't there for interesting food, I was there to talk, so we left and went looking for someplace else, and since neither of us knew anyplace we ended up at a truly yucky diner-but-not-a-diner with blah food. But at least the place was empty, and quiet.

I didn't mention any of the stuff that's been depressing me, but simply being able to be with someone who does care and would and could sympathize and offer advice if I asked for it, was enough. I feel a little better, although I still don't know what to do.

We had originally sort of planned that some evening he'd come down here and see the house. I figured it might be difficult because he'd probably have classwork in the evenings. Yesterday he called and said, yeah, stuff to read and memorize. Sad. I was looking forward to showing him the vehicle buried in the backyard (his comment was that I may have found Jimmy Hoffa).

Suzy the Suzuki is still at the old house. On a visit in February, I think, the first time all winter that she wasn't buried in snow, The Hunk and I started her. I was pleased that she started right up with no hesitation, but then she started blowing gray smoke out of the vents, something was burning, so I turned her off. We checked for beasty nests in the engine compartment, but didn't find anything obvious. I need to get her down here. My cars still all have NY plates. I've got to get them inspected and registered here, but I don't want to do that until they're all here, because otherwise it will complicate the insurance. BUT, Hal is due for inspection this month! Ack.

The Hunk and I had discussed my going back with him on Friday evening, then I can spend two days working at the old house and get Suzy into the shop on Monday, and then bring her back. BUT, that doesn't work because that leaves me stranded at the old house with no car until Suzy is fixed, and there's no guarantee on that. Plus, Hercules goes back to work on Monday, and I had promised Daughter I'd be here to help when she's suddenly alone with the baby.

It would be best if I could drive myself up there this week and arrange for Suzy's fixing now, and then, assuming she's ready to go by Tuesday, I could go back with The Hunk after his class on Monday, and drive Suzy back here Tuesday. BUT I have the urologist's appointment tomorrow, and I don't know what will happen then.

If I don't go back with The Hunk on Monday, I won't be able to bring Suzy down until Piper and his daughter visit and I can go back up with them.

I've got a feeling that somehow this is going to end up involving either a rental car or an insurance mess.

Seems like nothing is going smoothly these days. All these nit-pickin' minnow nibbles --- and I still have the big "unmentioned" problem that's going nowhere.

3238 My strange relationship with coffee

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A girl has to have a life goal before she starts dating boys, or boys become the goal.


I read somewhere that coffee can contribute to the formation of kidney stones.

I have a strange relationship with coffee.

I like coffee ice cream, and chocolate covered coffee beans, and the Starbucks frappuccino that comes in the little bottles in the corner store (which doesn't actually taste like coffee).

I intensely dislike brewed coffee of any kind, and especially Starbucks brewed - it tastes burned, and too acid. I intensely dislike the smell of brewed coffee in the morning. It can make me feel sick. The simple smell will make my stomach roil and fill with acid. Extended exposure to the smell can cause diarrhea. That could have been a major problem when I was working. Luckily, I had a private office with full walls and a door, some distance from the coffee machine. After about 10 am I could handle the smell better.

So, do I like coffee or not? Some people say I like bad coffee and don't like good coffee.

Over the past three years I've developed a morning taste for very bad coffee. I have three cups of it almost every morning. I love my personal mix:
1 well rounded teaspoon of store-brand instant coffee (the usual for one cup),
1 super-heaped teaspoon of Coffee-Mate sugar free French Vanilla (enough for 1.5 cups of coffee),
3 cups of boiling water
Make it in a teapot.
Yummy. It's delicious, and has none of the bad effects on my digestive system.

So, if the doctor asks how many cups of coffee I drink per day, what do I say? It might be three cups, but it's the equivalent of one. And do I count the occasional orgy of chocolate-covered coffee beans?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

3237 Revenge may not be so sweet

Tuesday, April 3, 2011

I read the papers to find out who I am, so I can be it.
-- Steve Wozniak,
Newsweek 2/19/96 --


Ok, so lots of people are celebrating because ObL is dead. Ok. Revenge. (Not very attractive, people. I think the Bible says something about that?) And the US gets to beat its chest and roar that you may hide, but we will find you. And the CIA can take satisfaction that their black torture sites are effective. And Obama gets a boost with people stupid enough to be impressed by symbols.

But - ObL wasn't running Al Q anymore. Most cells are now autonomous. ObL had a particular beef with the US over our support of the ruling family in Saudi Arabia, and that was pretty much it. The current autonomous cells have their own agendas. Nowadays, ObL was mostly a figurehead, spokesman, and recruiting tool, and was revered as the founding father of a movement.

His death leaves a vacuum, which some middle-aged fool who thinks he's been ignored too long is going to want to step into. Or several fools who want to compete for the honor.

In order to acquire the acclaim, they'll need to pull off something big. Yeah, pissed off groups can do something like a dirty bomb in L.A., or put nasty germs or poison in the ventilation system of Grand Central station, or in the water supply of a major city (like the Ashokan reservoir - in the woods, in the remote mountains, with miles of unsecured shoreline, where fishermen are not carrying ID, and OMG! I may have just figured out why The Man never drinks water!). Any of those would be big, impressive, take out a lot of Americans --- but they wouldn't be photogenic!

If you want to get the admiration of all the other cells, you've got to do something that makes good TV. Something that will be played over and over. Like 9/11.

It will be big. It might take a year to decide what to do, to plan it, to pull it off. But most of all it will involve a big bang and lots of cameras. And this one will be a surprise to the US government. Suddenly the Mayan calendar worries me.

Al Q. was close to becoming irrelevant, you know? We just breathed new life into it.

Enjoy your revenge, folks. I hope it's worth what it's gonna cost.


The wingnuts are, of course, screaming foul that they weren't allowed to taste the body. Last week they lost the birth certificate chewbone, so it's especially hard to take. They're not smart enough I guess to figure out why the immediate disposal of the body was necessary. We've royally pissed off the bad Muslims. It's kind of important right now not to piss off the good Muslims, too. We need them.

3236 The Last of the Wedding Comments

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Truly, to tell lies is not honorable. But when the truth entails tremendous ruin, to speak dishonorably is pardonable.
-- Sophocles --


Quote of the Day. . . referring to Prince William's bachelor party: "It's gotta be weird stuffing money into a stripper's bikini when every bill has a photo of your grandmother printed on it."

Photo of the Day:
Little one should be covering her eyes, not her ears.