Saturday, March 17, 2012

3489 Snarl.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

People do not do things for logical reasons; people find logical reasons
to do things they want, and the more intelligent the people,
the better the reasons they come up with.
-- Harold Nickel, Mensa Bulletin, May 2000 --


That guy who murdered all those Afghan people? If a citizen of Afghanistan had gone berzerk in Omaha and done the same thing, would we be satisfied if his other countrymen scooped him up, hid him away, wouldn't allow our police access to him, and took him back to Afghanistan, assuring us that he'd get "a fair trial"?

Hell no. Nobody with dark hair and eyes and an accent, no matter where he's from, would be safe anywhere in the US.

I really think the only way to handle it is to turn him over. I don't understand why our government doesn't understand that.

Oh, yeah, I keep forgetting. Too many Americans think they're better than anyone else, so that would be political suicide.


I've reread this sentence a dozen times since I found it in a (professionally written) news article about Ron Paul:
Ron Paul has about as many votes in this year’s GOP primaries as he has Facebook fans – is his fierce online following that much less relevant than it appears?
Huh? I have no idea what that bunch of words says. The "that much less relevant than it appears" makes no sense at all in the context of "about as many votes".

Another article, about the Iditerod musher Janssen who gave his dog, Marshall, CPR when the dog collapsed on the trail:
Marshall snapped back with a sharp breath. He then rode in the sled with Janssen to the next checkpoint, and despite a sled runner that broke along the way, got him to the event veterinarians.
It doesn't parse. Who got who to the vet? According to the reporter, Marshall the dog got Janssen the human to the vet.

And then there was this, on climate change:
There's no such thing as a free lunch, even when it comes to the weather. So while people around the world are celebrating the light winter, which has seen temperatures drop in nearly every state in the U.S., the animal world isn't quite as happy.
The "temperatures drop" was a link to this:
This January and February have been among the warmest on record for many states, which means numerous species of insects that are typically decimated by frigid temperatures will survive to the spring with unusually large populations.
Obviously many professional writers aren't very professional, and there is no such thing as proofreading any more. The reporter wrote exactly the opposite of what he meant to say, and there are many people who would not bother to go to the link for the mental reset. Note also the use of "decimate" in the above. Because so many speakers and writers misuse that word, I no longer know! whether they mean that typically 10% of the insects die, or most of them die. Once upon a time, that word conveyed information. Now it requires interpretation.

It's getting to the point where one has to interpret everything. Nothing necessarily means what the words say. That means that instead of gaining new understanding from the writing, we bring our own prior understanding to it, and the words of others no longer have power to convey ideas.

Pretty soon the educated won't understand anyone any more, and the youth and uneducated will think they understand others, but they don't.

What the hell. Use any word you want to mean anything you want (wasn't that in "Alice in Wonderland"? Was it the Mad Hatter, maybe?) Don't pay any attention to what the subject of a sentence is - then you can deny you said what people heard you say when it becomes inconvenient to have said it. Then every problem is not a matter of what you wrote or said, but a matter of others interpreting it wrongly.


Disclaimer - this blog does not have a budget for a proofreader.

Friday, March 16, 2012

3488 Catching up on medical

Friday, March 16, 2012

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.


I was trying to remember when I had the last urine culture, and realized that this journal is where I go to quickly find out when I did what, and I haven't been putting stuff in here.

So, to catch up. In the past month I've had a urine culture (but the doctor doesn't seem to have received the results, and that's why I was trying to remember the date), a blood panel which showed good kidney function and within-limits blood glucose, an abdominal x-ray that shows the same stone in the same position and it hasn't grown, ultrasound of the kidneys which looked good except that it showed mild hydronephrosis on the right and moderate hydronephosis on the left.

Hydronephrosis is kind of like an enlargement or swelling caused by urine having been retained in the kidneys. It's not a very serious thing in itself, but may indicate another problem.

So last Tuesday I had a spiral CT scan of the abdomen, NO contrast, thank you. My next urologist appointment is April 7.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

3487 Bucha Bits

Thursday, March 15, 2012

In the history of the arts, “Anonymous” was a woman.


We've all seen those tattoos gone wrong. The husband of a friend of mine is a tattoo artist. The only examples of his work I had seen were on his wife. Beautiful stuff, but naturally that may or may not be a true representation of his everyday work, since he had time and incentive.

Yesterday I saw some photos on his Facebook page. I am impressed! I knew he was a true artist in several media - he does wonderful work in metal, for example, and in designing and making incredibly detailed medieval and Japanese warrior armor. I now find he is an artist of the highest caliber in ink, even when the canvas is not his wife.

If you are ever in the Kingston/Woodstock NY area, and you'd been thinking about getting a tattoo, I recommend him highly. He's not only talented, he's a gentleman in every sense of the word. Check him out: - click on "photos" on the left, then on "album II". I am most impressed by photo 119, near the bottom, the shoulder armor. It LOOKS like metal!


The TSA says that people 75 and over will no longer have to take off their shoes or endure pat-downs. They figure old folks are a low risk.

Hmmmm. Not any more.....

Say we've got a 27-year-old passionate radical bent on revenge who wants to carry a bomb. Say he's got a 76-year-old grandfather whose wife died three years ago, and who has just been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Hmmmm. We now have incentive to talk to Grampa about a little mission he could spare his grandson from.

Don't get on any planes with old codgers!


Check out Scroll down for a list of topics they have lessons on. They're amazing! Wikipedia has an informative entry on Khan Academy.


You've heard of iPhone 4's Siri, the lady who answers your questions. She has a sense of humor. There are many video clips on YouTube wherein people (usually males) ask her questions (the most common being "How much wood can a woodchuck..." etc., for which Siri has several amusing answers). In this clip,, Siri learns that Steve Jobs has died. Yeah, it's a faked Siri, but of all the clips I'd seen, this is the funniest.


Some guy is suing some theater chain (Google it. I'll wait) because they don't allow you to bring in food or drink, and the prices at the concession stand are like 40 times what you'd pay in a grocery store.

I understand why theaters want to restrict what people bring in. Some folks are ridiculous slobs. They'd bring messy or stinky stuff, three course dinners, get pizza deliveries, throw chicken bones on the floor, spill scalding coffee on the people in front of them, and so on. At least if they control it, the theaters know what to expect.

As to what they charge, it doesn't bother me because I don't buy any of it! I'm not forced to pay their prices. It is not necessary to eat during a movie. Sheesh. The high concession prices keep the ticket price down, and if the folks who think they have to eat want to subsidize the price of my ticket, that's fine with me.

I guess I've been conditioned by my past. All those young folks out there don't remember pay toilets (mostly phased out beginning in the mid-70s). They were everywhere, including stores, restaurants, and bars, and if you had to go you were forced to pay. You had to put coins into the door to get into a stall, and if you were out of change, too bad. Now THAT's a ripoff! (And no, the urinals in the men's room did not require payment. Women bore the brunt of that one.)

Note - I would love to sue theaters for what they sell - not over the prices, though. I'd like to force them to sell only things in packaging that doesn't rattle or crinkle! It's not fair to charge me for a movie I can't hear over fifty guys shaking Junior Mints out of a box.


Voters at my old house vote down the school budget year after year. Year after year the school board redoes it, and keeps it to a 7% increase. Voters seem to be happy with 7%. Last week I checked my records. The school tax for the old house is now 150% what it was in 2005. Note that my income has increased by maybe 8% since 2005.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

3486 New York on eBay

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Life is not like a box of chocolates. It’s more like a jar of jalapenos.
What you do today might burn your ass tomorrow.


The state of New York has opened a store on eBay to sell surplus stuff, in huge lots. Last week they had a lot consisting of hundreds of ancient desks of various sizes and shapes, another lot of a gazillion mismatched tables, and a couple lots consisting of multiple heavy trucks in each lot, most of which were, uh, "well used" to be polite. There are few photos and scanty descriptions. If you win the bid, you have to go to the fairgrounds in Albany to pay for and and pick the stuff up, and you must take the entire lot.

I don't know who is buying this stuff. I'd love to know what they're doing with it.

There's a lot out there now that they're calling "maintenance items", consisting of
33 - Magazine/Media Racks
1 - 48" x 84" Glass Door and Frame
2 - 36" x 80" Wood Door
1 - 4 Drawer Metal Filing Cabinet
2 - 2 Drawer Metal Filing Cabinets
1 - Prezel Warming Machine (typo? pretzel?)
53 - 16" Street Brooms
20 - Dust Pans
1 - Pallet Ground Glass for Road Repairs
1 - GE Glass Refrigerator Shelf, Model# WR32X1510
28 - Boxes Copy Paper 8 1/2" x 14" - 5000 Sheets Per Box

"Maintenance items?" Huh? Sounds like they started out with the brooms and dustpans, and then just started throwing more junk on the pile. Eight bids on that lot, currently over $200.

Who puts these lots together? The same people who want the doors might also want the cabinets, the rack, and maybe even the warmer. But what on earth would they do with the huge pallet of ground glass? Why would anyone want the refrigerator shelf? And nobody uses legal sized paper any more.

And yet people are bidding on it.

They also have "metal canopy arches" that look interesting. It's a set of two half-circle frames that you'd stretch canvas over. They are photographed in front of some railroad cars, and look large enough to park boxcars under. But in the description, they are described as 30'' Wide x 10'' Deep x 14'' Tall. There are 37 bids on them as of now, with the high bid slightly over $2,000.

I sent them a message asking if they meant FEET, not INCHES. I haven't got a reply yet. I'm tempted to place a nuclear bid of, oh, say, $10,000 to ensure I win them, and then when I arrive to pay and pick them up, refuse to pay on the grounds that they won't fit in the back seat of my car like they said they would. Snork.

3485 Looking back at Mother

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The rich buy assets. The poor have only expenses.
The middle class buys liabilities they think are assets.
--Robert Kiyosaki --


Everybody, when they have a baby, is determined to not make the same mistakes their mother or father made with them. They vow that "I will never" blah blah, whatever they remember from their own childhood as a crime against them.

They are unaware that even as they avoid the old mistakes, they will make new ones of their own.

Especially with the first child, when they are unsure, they begin to realize that they've already made mistakes before the kid is even walking, they begin to realize that it's not as easy as they thought. They realize that parents are human, and there are other parts of life to deal with, other pressures, and they can't always make the right decisions and do the right thing all the time. Other crap interferes. Parents aren't so god-like that they know everything about everything, everything that's going on. The best you can do is try to make the right decisions and actions righter than the wrong ones are wrong.

And then they look back at their own parents, and think "gee, maybe they weren't so bad after all, they did the best they could at the time", and they finally brush off all those little scars to their psyche they'd been carrying around for so long.

I just wish it hadn't taken my daughter 36 years to have her first baby.

3484 Spoilsport

Sunday, March 11, 2012

It's not enough to come up with a good idea; you have to come up with
the good idea at the right time. Many people with a good idea present it too soon,
before anyone is ready to accept it, and then drop the idea when they meet resistance.
When the world is ready, someone else puts forth the same idea
and gets all the credit.
-- Silk --


I was the spoilsport at work.

There was a couple, co-workers, who were dating. This was before cell phones, before home computers. We had an intra-company internet, but there was no connection to "*the* internet". We had terminals connected to a mainframe, and company mainframes all over the world were connected to each other, and each person was assigned personal space on huge disk drives in the computer center (a.k.a. virtual disks).

Anyway, these two who were dating had been sending emails to each other, specifying in graphic x-rated detail what they were going to do to each other that evening. They were storing the emails on their virtual disk space on the system disks. I guess neither of them were smart enough to remember that they worked in a community of 250 system programmers, who had written the system they were using.

Someone changed the permissions for their virtual space. Anybody could read their emails. The "how to" was passed from person to person throughout the product area. The contents of the emails was the #1 whispered topic in the cafeteria and behind office doors.

When it finally got around to me, I was horrified. I think that was an absolutely rotten thing to do.

The day I found out, I saw the female of the pair walking past my office, so I called her in and told her something has been going on that she should know about, that it had been going on for some time throughout the product area, and no, I didn't know who started it. Then I linked to her virtual disk and his, and opened hers. I didn't say anything else, just walked out of the office and left her to it.

It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. Maybe if I had thought about it longer I'd have been less direct, like hinted to one or both of them that it was easy to grant access to other people's disks, easy to read others' email. But I'm not sure they'd have picked up on the implications.

She was very ashamed. They were married less than two months later. I guess that redeemed her.


Another incident cost me a friend.

Mark (not his real name) was one of about seven of us who were hired together (for me it was a re-hire) and we hung out together, bar after work once a week, hikes on the weekends, and so on. They were mostly just out of college, so I was 16 or 17 years older than they, but I still fit in. I was a bit more emotionally intimate with most of them because sometimes they saw me as a mother-figure, and came to me for advice. Mark, Linda, and I were especially close.

Linda (not her real name, either) had a crush on Mark, but none of her flirtation was returned.

Mark shared a house with two other guys. Eventually, one of the housemates, Dan, was transferred to a distant plant.

Mark and Dan kept in touch by email.

Thereafter, every time you saw Mark, he had another Dan story to share. Dan said this, Dan thinks that. He thought everything Dan said or did was enormously funny and interesting. He tacked photos of Dan to the bulletin board over his desk, cut out snippets of Dan's emails and tacked them up, decorated it all with ticket stubs and ski lift tickets.

When you went to his office, he'd direct your attention to the latest addition, and tell you the story that went with it.

People started to snicker.

I walked into his office one day, was immediately directed to the latest Dan photo, and suddenly impulsively had enough. That was 25 years or so ago, but I still remember exactly what I said.

"Mark, you have to stop doing this. This (waving at the bulletin board) looks like a shrine to Dan. It looks like something a twelve-year-old girl would do when she has a crush on a rock star. You've got to stop talking about him. People are starting to wonder exactly what the relationship is. I personally don't care, but it's hurting you out there (waving to the hall)."

His face turned dark, he ushered me out of his office, and he never spoke a single word to me ever again!

When he saw me in the hall, he turned his face away from me. He stopped coming to the group social activities if I was there. We worked together, but all communication was through an intermediary. When I transferred to the litigation lab, he was manager of a product area I was heavily involved in, but he never came to a single meeting. He always sent a member of his department to represent him. In later years I'd occasionally see him in the halls when I visited his area for meetings, and I'd always say "Hi, Mark", and he'd always look straight through me, as if I wasn't there.

He was still friendly with the other members of our group, although a bit cool, so I always knew what was going on with him. Once he took the shrine down and stopped talking about Dan, there were no more rumors, no more giggling. As far as any of us know, he never dated anyone local, male or female. I heard Dan had married and had some kids.

I suspect Mark and Dan's relationship was just friendship on Dan's side, and something more intense on Mark's side.

I haven't seen him or heard anything about him since they closed the plant twelve years ago and all our coworkers scattered to the four winds. I often wonder if Mark ever came out of the closet, even to himself.


Oh, that last sentence reminds me. Mark bought a house, and like all new homeowners he was excited and gushed about it at lunch. (A lunch spent ignoring me.) Someone asked him, "How many closets does it have?" and he counted up, asked if a pantry counted, answered seriously, and everyone at the table cracked up. I believe he honestly didn't know why they were laughing.