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 --


So suddenly everybody's all excited about arsenic in apple juice:
video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

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?


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!


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).


I call that opportunistic raiding.

Sheesh. Go ahead, contribute.


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.



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.

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 --


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.



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.



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.


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 --


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.

3417 Bits

Sunday, December 11, 2011

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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.

3416 NJ defined

Sunday, December 11, 2011

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


Just about everyone in NJ has seen this:
The story is here: 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.