Saturday, September 17, 2011

3357 Been a while....

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Intelligence does not automatically convey knowledge.


It's not like I've been especially busy, although I have managed to get a few things done. I now have a NJ driver's license, TV and internet cable, a house phone, got Hal's paws aligned, and have arranged for gutter cleaning and screening, and a few other things. I've got the pulleys, hooks, and cargo net for the attic, but since the hurricane, rope has been hard to find, so that's not finished yet.

One at a time:

NJ Driver's license

I'd been dreading going to the DMV, because I'd heard NJ DMVs are understaffed, have long lines and inefficient procedures, and everything takes a full day to accomplish. I went in one morning to find out what I'd need to get the license changed and the cars registered. There were no lines, and the people were very helpful. In and out with a list of "gets" and "to dos" in 15 minutes. Back the next day with the required documents for the driver's license.

And yes, there were some inefficiencies. Because I already have a valid NY license and no violations, I didn't have to take any tests. But I still had to fill out the forms and pay for a "temporary permit". When they took my picture, the woman asked if it was ok, "but this one is just for the temporary permit", so I said "yeah, it's ok, although I don't think of myself as having jowls". THEN she entered the data from the forms for the permanent license. I was under the impression I'd get a temp that day, and the permanent would be mailed, but then at the end she handed me the permanent, with the "temp" photo on it. Duh?

So I paid for a temp, AND for a perm, and she entered the data twice, once for the temp and then again for the perm, and I never got the temp. Uh, why not just skip the temp part entirely, and why make me pay for something you never had any intention of giving me?

I can't register the cars until I switch the insurance. I called my NY agent, and it was really simple. She said the insurance is even cheaper in NJ.

Daughter and I talked about Suzy Suzuki. Daughter has an 11-year-old Honda 2-door, and with the Nugget getting bigger, it's getting harder to get her in and out, so I'm going to give 4-door Suzy to Daughter.

Now I'm just waiting for the new insurance cards, and I can register Fred and Hal.

TV cable, WIFI cable internet, house phone

That all came as a FIOS package, for just about as much as I am currently paying for broadband internet alone. I had thought I could drop the broadband, but unfortunately there's no other way to get to the internet from the old house, so I'll have to keep it a bit longer.

The cable TV is annoying because there's just so much to choose from. I guess I'll find out what I like at some point, but in the meantime it's so overwhelming I find I don't watch at all. Which, actually, may be worth the cost.

I haven't handed out the house phone number at all, but the damn phone rings every half hour - people trying to sell me things (yeah, I got on the nat'l do-not-call list, but it'll take a while for that to take effect) and calls for the folks who used to have this number. Apparently they were deadbeats. Most of those calls are from collection companies. I recorded a message saying that "I do not answer this phone. I've had this number only since 9/2, so I'm probably not the person you're looking for, and I do not buy anything on the phone. I do check messages, so if you are certain you want to talk to me anyway, leave a message."

Nobody leaves messages, but the phone continues to ring about every half hour. There doesn't seem to be a way to turn the ringer off.

The internet connection is fantastic! I can actually watch YouTube videos right off, without waiting for them to load.

Hal's alignment

After the latest new tire application, the tire dealership told me that Hal needed alignment, but they preferred that BMW do it. It didn't seem too bad - no shimmy or pull, just a little less nimbleness in handling - and I don't drive him that much, so I didn't get around to it until this past week. The nearest BMW shop is a over a half-hour away down roads packed with shore traffic, so I waited until school started to take him in. The procedure took a half day and cost over $200, and now he's pulling to the right.


Gutter cleaning and screening

Damn Gum tree balls. The gutters were so packed last winter that they filled with ice, and dumped ice and water down the driveway. Dangerous. In the past few rain storms, they've spilled water out about four feet before the downspouts. Annoying.

I was afraid it would cost a small fortune to get some kind of leaf and ball proof covers, but turns out it'll be less than $600 for both sides of the house roof and the porch roof. That's about half what I expected, given that two cleanings a year would come to $300/yr.

Installation is next Friday.

Attic pulleys

Attic access here is a drop-down ladder/stairs hatch in the upstairs hall. Those ladders are steep and because of the hinges they feel rickety, and I'm never comfortable on ladders anyway. So in every house I've lived in, I've installed pulleys so I don't have to carry anything up and down the ladder. One pulley in a rafter at the top and one that raises and lowers at the bottom halves the weight, too. At the bottom I use a fishnet arrangement to hold the stuff going up.

I have all the materials to do it except for the rope. I need 50 feet of clothesline-like rope, and it just doesn't exist anywhere right now. Every place sold out when the hurricane was coming. So I wait for restocking.


The company SIL Hercules works for is, um, an Irish firm famous for crystal. They were bought out a while ago by a British company famous for china, especially featuring, um, a particular shade of blue. Anyway, they're consolidating and trimming, and Hercules' department is getting drastic cuts - except for Hercules. Last spring he and Daughter were invited to Ireland for a week. He thought it was to install a software system, but in actuality it was for the honchos to get a look at him, and after that trip he was offered a fantastic opportunity within the company. He recently spent a few weeks in Pa. in training, and is leaving today for five weeks in Ireland.

The two of them are pretty upset. The Nugget is about ready to get her belly off the floor and start crawling. He's afraid she'll change a lot before he gets back. Daughter bursts into tears at the drop of a "bon voyage". They're both so tense they argue about little things, like which GPS he should take. They've got a Skype-like computer arrangement, and a video camera, so it shouldn't be so very bad. After all, it's not like he's headed for Afghanistan or something.

I may be the one upset later. They don't know for sure where he'll be working after the building he's in now is closed. I just bought this freakin' house after Daughter assured me they wouldn't be moving for a very long time, if ever. I'll be very annoyed if they move away, leaving me here.


Monday, September 12, 2011

3356 Gotta let folks be themselves, I guess

Monday, September 12, 2011

Don Bender, letter in Mensa Bulletin: It is not statistically (or logically!) valid to examine facts,
create a hypothesis that fits those facts,
and then cite those same facts as proof that the hypothesis must be true.
(And yet, that’s what we do in court.)


"In 2002, following the passage of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, Arizona started to monitor state teachers to ensure that they used proper grammar and did not mispronounce words." (Story at

But the federal government told them they couldn't do that, since it discriminates against those with accents.


I think it should be easy enough to discriminate between an accent, and sloppy grammar and mispronunciation due to ignorance. Sheesh. Remember the PC arguments about Ebonics? Accepting Ebonics as "proper" led to a graduating class who couldn't get a job.

I really don't think it's too much to ask that teachers speak and write properly. In fact, I insist on it. They should set the example.

A few years ago I was reading the blog of a person who seemed to have no idea whatsoever what punctuation was for, who confused homonyms, and used capitalization randomly. Sentences were poorly constructed, and often confusing. I kept reading, though, because the blogger's ideas were good, once I waded through the slop.

I was shocked to discover that this blogger was not only a teacher in a public school, but was an English teacher!

I cringed. That person had no business in an English class, except maybe as a student. I can't imagine what that teacher's students could possibly learn from their teacher.

What do you think? Should teachers be required to be articulate?

3355 Mystery solved

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kneeling is not a position of strength, and begging is not an effective tactic.
-- Clarence Thomas --


A while ago I mentioned a fog horn sound that goes off at random times during the day. I wondered if it had maybe something to do with a drawbridge, or a large boat arriving - this area is full of boatyards and marinas.

I found out that it's the EMS signal. The number of whoops tells the EMTs which ambulance company should report to where.

I hope they also use beepers, because inside the house it's inaudible.

Now I have to find out what the constant mechanical tree frog sound is. That one I can hear in the front half of the house, and it drives me crazy.


Has anyone else tried the new Blogger interface? I HATE it. It's another case of trying to give everything to everyone, all possible bells and whistles, with the result that for simple usage, it's unusable. To write a simple post entry, you have to wade through layers of crap the average blogger will never use. There's so much crammed on a screen you have to scroll and scroll and scroll.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

3354 Exacerbated exasperation

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ad for Norwegian Cruise Line:
Most of the Earth is covered by water. And most of the water is covered by Norwegians.


I haven't had the TV or radio on all day, so I assume NYC is still standing. I don't see any smoke columns in the Northeast.


People whose livelihood depends on language don't seem to know the difference any more between "exacerbate" and "exasperate". More and more I am hearing the latter when they mean the former. Very tiresome.


I am also frustrated by polls that slant the questions. I saw one yesterday that's a prime example. The question was, "Do you agree with President Barack Obama’s plan to slash Social Security to 3.1 percent for workers? (Yes) (No)" Naturally, the response was overwhelmingly "No", and I suspect this will be reported as "The public overwhelmingly rejects...blah blah".

The pollsters know that the public are idiots, have zero reading comprehension skills, and will vote on the emotional impact of "slash Social Security to 3.1% for workers."

If the question had been "blah blah ... slash the Social Security tax paid by workers, thereby increasing their annual take home pay by an average of $1500 per year", which is the actual question, then I strongly suspect that the answer would have been different. Of course, that's slanting it the other way.


This is why I NEVER believe the results of polls.Link

I am currently reading Sisters, by Kathleen Thompson Norris, published sometime in the late '20s. It was one of the free book offers for the Kindle, and I selected it because it was one of the few I'd never heard of. (Reviews at

You can read the reviews, folks love it or hate it. I'm not finished yet, so I have no opinion other than that I'm tired of the lavish descriptions of the beauty of Cherry, the youngest character. Ok, we get it! Also of the way absolutely everything comfortable is lovingly described as "shabby".

What no other reviewer has mentioned but which shocked me is the casual racism. Discussing the prospect of an excellent job in Mexico, the characters decide it's not a place Cherry would want to follow her husband, since no country where the native inhabitants are black, brown, or yellow is worth visiting, because if there were anything to recommend it, the inhabitants would be white.

Also, Chinese household help abounds, and their employers speak to them in babytalk pidgin.

All very casual and accepted.

That was then. This is now. But I'm still surprised that no other reviewer noted it as one of the elements that dates the book. It's the casualness that dates it. Mark Twain, for example, was not casual.


I dislike people who chew with their mouths open. I despise those do it with crunchy things in movie theaters! I want to leap over seats and throttle them!

Close your damn mouth!