Saturday, December 31, 2011

3435 Anger, losing hope

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
-- Steven Wright --


I've been trying to avoid situations, books and articles, and anything else that makes me angry. I don't need anger these days. There's little I can do about the things that make me angry, and so the result is depression.

Yeah, good plan. So what do I do? I start reading Noam Chomsky's 9-11 / Was There an Alternative? (The 2011 updated version.)

I guess I like hitting myself in the head with a hammer.

Americans are idiots! Our leadership are the biggest idiots, because they at least have the information but can't seem to use it.

Get yourself a copy. It's short, fewer than 200 pages. Right now I'm on page 21 and I'm spitting nails.

(You know who knows what's happening, sees the trap, and knows how to deal with it? The French. So naturally we have to vilify them.)

Our current economic woes and the rise of corporate tyranny, the radicalization of the middle east, the loss of friends and allies - it's all part of the plan, and it's working beautifully because we're too stupid and too "cowboy" to see it.


By the way, the choice of September 11, 2001, may not have been random, and not because of 911 as the emergency number. How many know about the September 11, 1973, US terrorist attack on Chile? Google that date. Scan the first few articles that come up.

Friday, December 30, 2011

3434 Roast and freeze.

Friday, December 30, 2011

A year from now you will wish you had started today.
-- Karen Lamb --


I don't understand the heat in this house. Because it's a slab, the downstairs floors are cold. Because of poor design, many of the heat vents are in the ceiling. Because I'm short, mostly I live in the cold part. That much I understand.

What I don't understand is why even though the thermostat is steady, the house is very warm, too warm, in the morning even before the sun is fully up, and then it's cold in the evening. And when I say cold, I mean a scarf around my neck and a jacket on. That's ridiculous.

Maybe it's me, something about my metabolism, not the house, but I've never had this problem before, and I don't have the problem in the old house! I'm always comfortable there.

Something's screwy.


It's worse tonight because "Narnia" is on TV. I've tried to watch it many times before and never made it past the first 40 minutes. I'm determined to make it all the way through this evening, but it's all SNOW! and ICE! and those kids aren't very warmly dressed! That ice queen/witch is wearing short sleeves!

Aaaaaagggghhh! I'm freeeeeezing!

3433 Lawsuits

Friday, December 30, 2011

Thinking is a skill, not an innate ability.
-- Northrop Frye --


Most Ridiculous Lawsuit of 2011 Announced!


"The U.S. has been the undisputed lawsuit capital of the world for some time. And while the courts play a central role in resolving disputes and maintaining a civil society, that function isn’t easy when they are packed with frivolous suits.

Ridiculous lawsuits clog up our legal system’s dwindling resources, taking time away from legitimate grievances to devote to the vindictive, the hypocritical, the irresponsible, and the outright absurd.

With that in mind, has compiled some of the most egregious examples of frivolous and abusive litigation from around the country and asked you to tell us which ones were the most ridiculous. These suits range from the comical and absurd to the disturbing, but they all underscore a real problem – lawsuits hurt businesses, families, and everyday Americans through lost time, money and job growth.

So which lawsuits are the doozies this past year? First, here’s the lawsuit that you thought was the most ridiculous:

  • Convict sues couple he kidnapped for not helping him evade police. A man who kidnapped a couple at knifepoint while he was running from the police is now suing the victims, claiming that they promised to hide him in exchange for an unspecified amount of money. The plaintiff, currently in jail, is seeking $235,000 for the alleged “breach of contract.”

And here’s the rest of the top ten as determined by you who voted at

  • Man suing for age discrimination says judge in his case is too old. A 60-year-old musician who is suing for age discrimination wants the judge removed from the case – because he’s too old. Ironically, the plaintiff says his fight against age-based discrimination is too important to leave in the hands of the 88-year-old judge.
  • Young adults sue mother for sending cards without gifts and playing favorites. The plaintiffs, now 20 and 23, claimed the mother “sometimes didn’t include gifts in cards sent to her children; played favorites with her children . . . did not send care packages until his sixth semester away at college . . . changed her surname, thus ‘causing attention’ at her daughter’s school events; and refused to buy her a homecoming dress.”
  • Obese man sues burger joint over tight squeeze in booths. A nearly-300 pound man is suing White Castle restaurants, saying that their booths are too tight to accommodate someone of his size. In fact, he’s so distraught by the booths that he hasn’t been to White Castle in months (instead, he sends his wife to pick up his burgers so he can eat them at home).
  • Woman sues over movie trailer; says not enough driving in ‘Drive’. A Michigan woman who claims she was misled by the trailers for the movie ‘Drive’ is suing the distributors of the film. She says she was disappointed by the lack of driving in the film and was expecting something more similar to the ‘Fast and Furious’ films.
  • Mom files suit against exclusive preschool over child’s college prospects. A New Yorker is suing a private preschool, saying the school’s curriculum has seriously hurt her 4-year-old’s chances of getting into an Ivy League college.
  • Man sues bar for not disarming him before he started drinking (and fighting). A Pennsylvania man illegally brought a gun into a bar, then got injured in a drunken shootout with another patron, and now has sued the bar for not searching him for a weapon on his way in.
  • Passenger’s lawsuit says cruise ship was too fast. An Indiana woman is suing Carnival Cruise Line, claiming she got sick because the boat was going too fast and was swaying from side to side.
  • Woman disagrees with store over 80¢ refund, sues for $5m. A New York woman decided to make a $5 million federal case out of a disagreement over 80¢. Her suit says she used a $5-off coupon when she purchased a bevy of items for over $100. When she returned one of the items, the store pro-rated the refund to account for the discount.
  • Mother sues Chuck E. Cheese – says games encourage gambling in children. A California woman has filed a lawsuit against Chuck E. Cheese on the grounds that their games are actually an illegal form of gambling and could get kids hooked. She is seeking at least $5 million; the restaurant says the games are legal and has asked a judge to dismiss the suit.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to vote. And while we can’t predict everything 2012 has in store, it’s a good bet there’ll be more ridiculous lawsuits. So remember to visit monthly to vote for your favorite ridiculous lawsuits."


On the other hand, some of the US Supreme Court's decisions this past year in favor of corporations will make it almost impossible to sue them when they screw you. See

In perhaps my oversimplification, the AT&T decision says that if a corporation puts that hateful but standard arbitration clause in your contract, you can't join a class action suit against them. That doesn't mean you can't sue them, you don't give up that right, but it does mean you have to sue them individually. Now consider going up against a gazillion-dollar corporation's legal department all by yourself. (Worse, and not mentioned in this article, there's a movement afoot to rule that the loser in a civil case pays BOTH parties' legal fees, in an effort to stop frivolous lawsuits- see above.)

The Wal-Mart ruling bothers me because in essence, it says that if a corporation allows individual managers to discriminate, then the individual managers can be sued by the individual complainants, but the corporation cannot be sued by a class of victims just because they don't have a corporate policy against such discrimination.

This is looking like corporations can pretty much do anything they damn well please, free from the threat of anyone suing them.

Now, I'm not a fan of class action suits. Too many law firms go out hunting for people to join a suit they, the lawyers, thought up, then they settle for a gazillion, and each of the citizen parties to the suit get a pittance. That's not right. But if a bunch of people have been harmed, class action suits have an important purpose. If nothing else, it's bad publicity and a threat of punishment.

Now, there's not even that. Welcome to USA, Inc.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

3432 A Bad Day

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
-- Steven Wright --


I took Fred for his state inspection today. The nearest state inspection station was about a half hour down the road. The website, and Daughter, and The Man, and everyone else I asked said that NJ checks only emissions. I'm pretty sure Fred's bowels are fine, so I wasn't worried.

It wasn't easy to figure out how to get into the place. The GPS insisted the address was further down route 36 than it actually was, and this being NJ, if you pass your address you can't just pull a U or turn left into a mall or something to turn around. There ARE no left turns allowed. You have to go another 3/4 mile until you find a jug handle. Unfortunately, the next jug handle was at route 35, and the intersection was under construction, and even though the sign said "U and left turn here", there was no way to get to the other half of the U to make the left back onto 36.


I had to go straight on 35 and go another 3/4 mile to make a U on 35 to get back to 36.

This should have been a warning that things were not going well.

I got to the inspection place, got into the line of cars, pulled my ticket that said the line was four minutes long. Twenty-five minutes later I pulled into the inspection bay. Again I was told they check only emissions. I went to the waiting area where other waiting people talked about how they check only emissions.

Then I got waved out to Fred, where I was handed a FAIL paper. Fred failed because ... you know how when you start your car, there a bunch of lights on the dashboard that go on, like oil, anti-lock brakes, air bags, and the check-engine light? Fred's check engine light is burned out. Or something.

I was shocked! This is the scariest thing possible.

To understand how scary that is, you have to know Fred's history.

Through 2006 and 2007, his check-engine light kept going on, and then he'd stall. I could restart him, and sometimes the light would go out, but pretty soon it would go back on and he'd stall again. He was my only vehicle at the time.

For the next 18 months and more than $5,000 for service and rental cars, I took him to every garage in the area. Nobody thinks any more. They'd "put him on the computer", and it would tell them it's this sensor. So they'd replace the sensor. A week or a month later he'd be flashing and stalling again. Now it's a different sensor. Same thing. Always another sensor. When we stared replacing the same sensors again, I turned it over to the dealership, told them to put their best man on it, and don't return it until it's fixed.

They finally found that the rubber cover over the computer was cracked, and water was getting in, and that's what was causing all the problems. They mended the crack, reprogrammed him, and THEN, the mechanic, who lived about 20 miles away, drove it home and back to work for two weeks to make sure.

Then he drove Fred to my house and picked me up to go back to the dealership to pay. On the way, Fred's check engine light went on and he stalled right in the middle of the highway.

They didn't charge me for the work they had done, but they refused to do any further work on him. They gave up.

Fred was due for inspection, and the check-engine light on gets you an automatic fail. I couldn't pass an inspection, and therefore couldn't re-register him when that came due. I parked him in the driveway, rented a car, went used car shopping, and bought Suzie the Suzuki for $9,000.

Fred didn't move for the next three years. Just sat there in the driveway as time passed.

In 2010 I realized Fred would be very handy for moving, and decided to try again. I asked around for the very best electrical system guy, someone who has been doing this for a while, who thinks rather than just asks the computer. I found the guy. My hero.

He worked evenings on Fred in the driveway until he could get him road-worthy. Replaced the brake lines, battery, some hoses, bunch of other stuff, then took him to his shop to finish the work. Then he got him inspected at a friend's shop, and re-registered.

I was cautiously happy, then very happy when the check engine light never came on.


The bulb isn't working?

What are the chances that the problem still exists, that when I get the light fixed it will burn brightly? CONSTANTLY? And Fred will never ever pass an inspection? What's the possibility that the hero "fixed" the problem by pulling the fuse or unplugging the bulb? And his friend who did the inspection passed Fred with a wink? (Let us all bow our heads and pray for Fred.)

I have until the end of January to find out.


When I left the inspection place I was badly shaken. I stopped at a diner up the road to eat and to look at the papers I'd been given.

I took my purse, a paperback book, and the papers - 2 sheets of white 8.5 x 11 stapled together and a bright red brochure stapled on top - in with me. I glanced briefly at the papers while waiting for the waiter, then put them on the table to my left, with the paperback on top of them. After ordering, I went to the lady's room, taking only my purse with me, and then I read my book at the table while waiting for my food. When my food arrived, I put the book on the table to my left.

I have no idea when the papers disappeared. It could have been while I was in the restroom. Or not. I have no idea. But when I gathered my things to leave, the only things on the table were my book and a takeout container. The waiter did all the clearing from my right, so it's doubtful that he took them by accident. I was almost home (40 minutes up the road in rush hour traffic) when I realized I didn't have the papers. I turned around and went back to the diner.

I'm reasonably sure that if the papers were there at all, they'd have saved them for me. The host remembered me, remembered where I'd been sitting. He showed me a slew of stuff that had been left over the past couple of days - including things like travel brochures - so if they'd fallen on the floor, they'd have been behind the counter, for a few days, anyway.

I hope I don't need any of it.

It's been a long scary day.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

3431 A Nerd's Christmas, The Goddess, and A Tastless Xmas

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Borrow money from pessimists. They don't expect it back.
-- Steven Wright --


This is North Point Ministries' iBand. It's 7.5 minutes, but well worth it. (I was especially fascinated by the iPhone maracas. How does it know you're shaking it?)



I've had a necklace for the past twenty years or so that Daughter loved. Every time I wore it, she said she wanted it. I gave it to her today, along with a nearly matching bracelet I'd found at a craft fair. The Goddess's stones are all different, hand polished and hand set on sterling silver. The goddess figurine is a hair over two inches long, and hangs just above the breastbone. She is horn, the panther is bone. Ignore the larger stones in the photos - that's the bracelet, which isn't nearly as nice or well made.

I present "The Goddess":

I'm going to miss her.


This is around the corner and down the road a bit from my house. There are flashing lights on the house and the top and bottom of the fence and in the trees, so likely any one photo isn't going to capture all the glory - or the music playing from the speakers. All kinds of stuff is just jammed together without any rhyme or reason. And it all seems to have to do with consumerism. The shorthand "Xmas" was made for displays like this. Forgive the blur, I didn't have a tripod or anything to brace against, but you get the idea. I want to get a photo in daylight sometime. No hurry - if last year is any indication, it'll all still be there in February.

Note the hot-air balloon in the back yard.

Yep. None of the photos caught the flashing lights on the roofline or fence.

My taste runs more toward a wreath on the door and candles in the window, or monochromatic lights on the shrubs at the foundation and along the walkway (no blinking, please), that says "this house is quietly joyful and welcoming". Or a softly lighted manger scene (please, no Snow White included), which says "we honor".

There's very little of that in this neighborhood.


3430 Propaganda is using the right wrong word

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

If you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain.
-- Steven Wright --


Articles abound about Puerto Rican frogs, the tiny thumbnail-sized coqui, showing up and spreading in Hawaii. Every report refers to them as "harmful".

Propaganda! The use of that word "harmful" makes you feel negatively toward them! You immediately assume bad things about them. You are supposed to assume that means harmful to the natural world, the beauty of Hawaii, and of course you want to protect that.

They're tiny. They don't "harm" anything. I mean it's not like they eat baby birds or something. They don't cut down the forest, or move into another species' habitat and make it unsuitable for the original inhabitants, they don't consume more than their share of resources, or over-fish the sea. They don't pave over the world so rain can't get through. They don't kill for the "sport" of killing. They don't push their neighbors into reservations, ghettos, or preserves.

They're just very very very loud, and humans don't like that.

So they're "harmful", and must be eradicated because they're harmful.



I wouldn't mind if there were some good reason why, like that they have no natural enemies in Hawaii, but that isn't the problem. Birds find them delicious. So far they have caused no imbalances. Their living and dead bodies become resources in about the same niche as the one they occupy. They eat insects, but their offal supports insects.

The sole reason they are "harmful" is their song. We don't like it, so let's kill them!

I wouldn't mind if people admitted they aren't harmful, and the only reason they want to eradicate them is that they are loud, disturb sleep, and may hurt the tourist trade.

But this is not harmful. It's merely annoying. You can't kill things just because they're annoying. (If that were true, we'd have no neighbors.) They have to be "harmful", so therefore that's what they are so we can justify killing them.

A small example of what I meant by propaganda a few posts back.


PS - This post isn't about frogs. It's about propaganda. Frogs are just the vehicle. Ignore the frogs.

Monday, December 26, 2011

3429 Whoa!

Monday, December 26, 2011

A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
-- Steven Wright --


I mentioned online dating to someone today. That reminded me that I had a moribund profile on a particular site that I hadn't visited in years. So I visited. I updated my profile and photos (just for fun, you understand) and released the hold (just to see what might happen, you understand), and in the past two hours I have been inundated by "Hi!" notes. Well, eight of them, anyway.

And of those eight, all but two were from very young men. Under thirty. Like three under twenty-five!

Holy Crap!

How tempting is this:
Now, his pants are a bit low, and it's a cell phone photo in a public or work restroom, (the other photo does include his face, which is also pretty), and it worries me that he's got his shirt off in a public restroom, but his note was nice, and he actually spelled out all the words instead of using that ugly texting shorthand, and spelled correctly, too (... as opposed to the mash note I got from a young man straight from Snooki's crew, that seemed to be a different language). AND he lives a few blocks from here.

Holy Crap!

Now, I'm not naive. I do know why a lot of young men like older women. We aren't likely to get pregnant, we're less likely to be drama queens, and we're very likely to be grateful for decent sex. Maybe even generously grateful.

No way I'm falling into that trap. **

But OMG - I want to TOUCH that chest!


**I'd like to put something like that in my profile, but then they might stop sending me pictures like this.

3428 Alone in a crowd

Monday, December 26, 2011

A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.
-- Steven Wright --


There's a Meetup group I had joined, for us older folks, but I had never signed up for anything because it was always a horde scene. Like 50 people at dinner.

Well, they had a dinner at a Bonefish on Christmas Eve, and only four other people had signed up for it -- one man (the organizer) and three women. That sounded good to me, so I signed up, too.

Saturday afternoon I got a note from the organizer saying that the other three women would be carpooling with him, and that they'd be in the bar at 7:30, I should meet them there. He said he'd be wearing a Meetup button.

At 7:15 I arrived. When I came in, there were a few people, like six or seven, I didn't count, on the porch. Couldn't be them. Too many. Too many men. Wrong place. I went to the bar and sat at the end. There was one woman and a couple at the bar. I waited. And waited.

At 7:40 I asked at the hostess stand if there was a reservation in the organizer's name, or Meetup, or the group name. Nope. I asked about any reservation for five. Nope. I left my name with them in case anyone looked for me. I checked out on the porch, and the large group was still there.

At 7:50 I walked around the restaurant looking for tables with one man and three women. I asked at two tables if they were Meetup. Nope. I glanced at men's shirts, looking for a button of some kind. Nope. I made that tour twice over the next ten minutes.

At 8:00 I gave up and ordered dinner at the bar. I ate alone. On Christmas Eve. In a crowded restaurant. I left at 8:45.

When I got home I sent an email to the organizer asking what had happened.

Surprise! They had picked up another man and woman, so they were six, not four. The group on the porch was apparently them. The reservation had been made in one of the women's name, not the organizer's. They had waited for me ON THE PORCH! until 7:45.

Um, my photo on the Meetup site looks exactly like me. If they were waiting for me, shouldn't the organizer have been watching for someone who looks like me? I am a bit unique. Shouldn't they have at least CHECKED IN THE DAMN BAR?! WHERE HE SAID THEY'D BE?

They all knew each other already. I was apparently superfluous.

What gets me is that at about 7:45 a group of six, two men and four women, was seated at a high table in the bar, about 8 or 10 feet from me. They were loud and having a good time. I wonder if that was them. If it was, I wonder why it never occurred to them to glance at the lone woman at the bar.

Yeah, on the one hand, I'm pissed. On the other hand I'm almost glad, because if that raucous group WAS them, I'd rather have been alone.


Why, when people go to a forum, why don't they read the previous postings before they ask their questions?

Google Bookmarks no longer works, at least not on Firefox. You get the message that you have to sign in, but then nothing happens, it just repeats the "Please sign in". I had that problem a few months ago. I panicked. I have a thousand bookmarks, and am lost without them.

I found a forum for that exact problem. The answer is that Google no longer supports bookmarks, and has no plans to do so. Period.

The bookmarks are actually still there on your disk, but Google isn't going to get them for you. A few people had recommendations that involved opening code and resetting bits and flags and stuff to fool Google into thinking you have a lower level of Firefox. Others had found a way to get to the raw bookmarks involving like five steps.

Uh, no thanks.

I subscribed to the forum in case anyone found a simple fix.

I dug around the internet and found an easy to install Firefox extension called "GMarks". You can put a button right on the Firefox tool bar, and it works exactly like Google Bookmarks used to.

I recommended its use in the forum. A few people tried it and praised me.

You'd think that with the explanation of why G. B. no longer works, and three work-arounds offered, that would be the end, right? At least until someone finds something better, right?


For the past few months, I'm getting alerts of updates to the discussion, and in EVERY case, it's some idiot whining that their bookmarks no longer works, what happened?, and what can they do about it?

Sheesh. Those people aren't worth helping, when they don't even bother to read the previous posts.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

3427 Photos

Sunday, December 25, 2011

99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
-- Steven Wright --


Daughter, Hercules, and the Nugget are away for the weekend. With my ex and Hercules' parent's exes, there are four sets of grandparents: me, one in south Jersey and two sets in Pa, and this is the Nugget's first Christmas, so everybody wants her. They left Friday to make the tour, and will return late tomorrow. So we'll do our piece of Christmas late Monday or Tuesday, whatever works.

Daughter has been complaining that she has no childhood photos of herself. I have a huge box of unsorted photos from my life, so I spent today putting together a special gift for her -- a smaller unsorted box from her life. We'll have to go through them together, adding names, dates, and occasions to the backs of those she decides to keep.

Someday I'll have to do that to all my photos. Daughter is afraid I'll drop dead someday, leaving her with random sepia photos of unidentified ancestors/strangers.