Saturday, May 26, 2012

3538 I'm actually a MAN! Apparently a gay man....

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Female spiders eat the males after mating because collecting
life insurance is easier than collecting child support.


The kids left for Pennsylvania this morning, to visit Hercules' folks.  Returning late tomorrow.

The temperature was 75 F at 9:30 this morning, but it's very sunny and humid, so it feels hotter.  Supposed to get into the 80s.  I've finally turned the A/C on.

I've got a van to unload, bookcases to assemble, acres of laundry piles, and a drift of paper and photographs to sort and file, so I'll appreciate the uninterrupted alone time.  Naturally, I've brought papers down from the country house, but but not yet the file cabinets. I'm using those brown accordion folders.

I found a large box of vacation photos in the country house den closet.  Not MY vacations - Jay and his ex-wife's vacations.  I started to throw them away, and then reconsidered.  I know where she lives.  So on my way back, I stopped at her house in the village and dropped them off with her boyfriend.  I'm glad she wasn't home, because I really didn't want to talk with her, but I do feel virtuous about giving her the photos. (Even though when she and Jay split, she took every photo she could find, and Jay had to beg for some of the negatives.  Yeah, residual bitterness.  She knew they were important to him and it did crush him.  He was a shutterbug.)


Google "Steve Crecelius".  Stories all over the internet about him/her.  I guess there's a dearth of real news.  Or maybe it's just that sensationalism sells advertising.  When I read the first story (Yahoo front page), it annoyed me so much I searched around to find a REAL story that didn't appeal to the ignorant.  Doesn't exist.

He was in his forties, I think, father of six children, and discovered from a kidney ultrasound five years ago that he had ovaries, in addition to the usual male equipment.  The headlines say he discovered he's actually a woman!.

Um, no.  He's a man who also has ovaries and therefore estrogen, in addition to the testes and testosterone.  There's no uterus or vagina, although the estrogen did cause small breasts.  Otherwise he has all the usual secondary male sexual characteristics, like a beard, and he's attracted to women. 

But he has decided he's actually a woman!, since as a child he enjoyed playing with his mother's makeup (lots of little boys do), likes dresses, and he "walks like a girl".  Um, a girl walks like a girl because she has wider hips, and has been culturally conditioned to walk that way.  You, Steve/Stevie, do not have a girl's hips, you are still not a girl.  You just have some extraneous ovaries kicking out estrogen that confuses your head.  Let's not forget that the testes and everything that goes with them works just fine.  If you're confused, have the ovaries removed.  You obviously don't need them.

His wife took him shopping for his first bra.  (Another forehead dent in my desk.)  Steve, you've gone all your life without a bra.  You don't need one now.   Even REAL women don't need bras to be women.

The male/female classifications are not black and white.  100% male and 100% female are extreme ends of a spectrum.  There are many gradations, many combinations of accoutrements, and many physical and hormonal reasons for them.  Something like 1 in 10 babies are born somewhere on that scale other than the extremes (probably more, it's just not immediately obvious).  Wikipedia has a good article on it (intersex).  Most people fall somewhere close to one end or the other.  I for example, are high in androgens, and have what is medically termed clitoral hypertrophy (clitoromegaly), although not freakishly so, nothing to write home about.  I'm just well beyond the norms.   But there's never been any question that I'm completely female.

Until now!

Oh my God!  I mostly don't wear makeup, I've never liked makeup, wear it out socially only because it's expected and a sexual advantage in attracting male attention.  I don't especially like dresses and skirts, prefer pants, but wear "feminine" things, again because it's expected and a sexual lure.  I really do like attracting men.  But ... Holy Crap!  According to Steve/Stevie's logic, I'm actually a man!

So stop calling me Silk.  I'm really Sylvester.

(Heh.  I can't wait until Steve hits menopause and the estrogen wanes.  How silly is he going to feel then?)


Yeah, I know that there are men who go through sexual reassignment surgery to become women, but are still attracted to women.  Yeah, I know it's all mixed up, both physical manifestations and psychological.  But Steve's case is different, in my opinion, in that he never "felt like a woman trapped in a man's body".  Never felt homosexual.  He just had a slightly feminizing influence from more estrogen than is usual in males. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

3537 Hair! The solution!

Friday, May 25, 2012

The underwire in a woman’s bra deflected a bullet. It also lifted, separated, defined and supported.  Her terrified thong tried to hide and was almost impossible to remove from the scene.


Hair saga:   When my hair was long, it was easy.  I just trimmed the ends, and for bangs I'd grab a hank, hold it straight up and make one cut, automatic taper.  Done.  I'd been doing that all my life, because when my mother was in charge of my hair, I'd never had a salon cut that didn't leave me crying.

Eighteen months ago I decided to go short.  I tried salons again, thinking that hey, I'm adult, I'm in charge now.  They pretty much did what they wanted to do, not what I wanted, no matter what I said, and I wasn't happy. 

I tried cutting it myself, and it took forever, with much twisting and swearing.  The top and sides were ok, but I simply can't wield scissors with my left hand while looking at the back of my head in the mirror.  I tried using clippers on the back, but blending where it meets the upper back was hit or miss, and it's too difficult to get it the right length anyway.

I'd finally get it sort of right over a period of several days or weeks, snipping hither and yon, constantly with itchy bits of hair all over me, the bathroom sinks, and the floors.  And then when it finally looked good, within a week it was too long again and time to do it all over again.  It was choppy from my hacking, so to go to a salon and say "cut it just like this, but shorter" would be asking for trouble.  They'd try to "fix it" and guess wrong.

I've been moaning over it.  It was now about a half inch too long to be manageable.  Sigh.  Here we go again.

I went to the country house (I'm not calling them the old and the new house any more; they are now officially "the country house" and "the city house") this past week and found the solution to all my hair problems in the back of the coat closet.

In about the mid-'90s, we had tried a haircutting thingy for Jay's hair that attaches to the vacuum cleaner.  It sucks the hair into a tube where there's rotating blades, and the clippings go into the vacuum cleaner.  (There are three versions on the internet.  I won't recommend any particular one because they all have advantages and disadvantages, but I will say that the RoboCut and clones is infinitely adjustable for various lengths, where the Flowbee and clones has multiple set lengths, which is important to know if you want a smooth taper.)  It didn't really work on Jay's hair because he had strange thin spots on the back of his head where the hair had to be cut slightly longer to cover them, so it got packed up and stored in the closet. (My hair was very long then, so I wasn't cutting mine.)

I brought it down to the city house, and this evening I tried it.  It works!  I LOVE my cut!  It's perfect!  It took less than 10 minutes, there's no itchy bits on me or on the floor, and it's done.  Done done done.  And so what if it needs another trim in a week or two?  It took less than 10 minutes!  I can give myself a quick trim before going out for dinner.

I had to sketch out the lengths I wanted.  I measured the hair all over my head and made a chart marking the length all over.  Like a sketch from the front and the side, with the hair sticking out light-socket-wise.  I decided to play it safe and take off only a half inch all over.  It's always easier to go shorter if that's not enough.  I started at the top, set the tube to to 3.5 inches, then graduated to 3.0 upper back, 2.0 from the top of my ear around to the other ear, and taper down to 1.5 below that.  If you scrub the tube up and down a bit, it blends nicely.

And believe it or not, both sides of my head are now the same length!  I've never been able to do that by hand.

My only sadness now is that I was afraid to do it before The Man visited.  I cut it about six hours after he'd left.  Too bad.  But at least I can easily maintain this.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

3536 Kitchen flooring

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wildlife officials say cougars are expanding into the central U.S.
Residents are advised to lock up their teenage sons.


Writing about bathroom sinks reminded me about the current trend in kitchen floors.

People want stone, tile, or a stained waxed cement floor in the kitchen (which is more visually attractive than it sounds).  That's what's "in".

Duh?  Why?

People in the kitchen are standing 90%+ of the time.  One rarely sits in the work areas in the kitchen.  You're on your feet.  Also, fragile things get dropped.  So why on earth would you want a rock-hard floor?

So many of the big box stores have polished cement floors, and I actually suffer if I have to wander around them too long.  I go in with a list and go directly to what I want by the most direct route, and get out.  They might sell a lot more casual purchases if the floors were kinder.

A proper floor for the kitchen is resilient.  It has some amount of gentle give.  Like poly-sealed wood, or a resilient tile or sheet goods over wood.  Those industrial-looking rubber tiles are a good idea for the feet, legs, and back, but the raised plug surface texture they all have makes them a bit hard to clean. (And why do they seem to come only in gray?)

In the '70s there was a brief spate of carpeted kitchen floors.  That didn't last long for obvious reasons.  What were designers thinking?

The kitchen floor in the new house is matte ceramic tile.  I don't like it.  It's hard and cold and unforgiving.

3535 More stuff I don't understand

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sometimes one person's inability to understand looks like another person's inability to explain.
-- Dilbert --


I don't understand English.  I suspected I didn't understand, but I didn't know how completely I didn't understand until I took the ESL (English as a second language) teacher training.  For example:
Why are they all pronounced differently?  What makes the "g" and "a" different?

I don't understand.

I do understand why the Québécois insist on speaking French.  At least there is consistency in pronunciation.  There are rules!

Speaking of pronunciation, I watched a video yesterday, a kid demonstrating how to do something.  Every other sentence started with, "Ima".  Like "Ima put this in the bowl, then Ima mix in the powder, then Ima add some water."  It took me a few minutes to realize that he was saying "I'm going to" (I think...).  

It's no damn wonder English is so difficult.  We don't even speak it any more.


I have a plan of attack. 

I'm going to make an appointment with a specialist in blood vessels, and find out about why it hurts so badly when anyone messes with my veins, why they blow out and shut down, whether there is some way to make it easier to have blood drawn and to get contrast dyes, and get some details about my "fragile capillaries" and exactly how dangerous it would be to have the kidney stone zapped. 

Then I can maybe make some educated decisions on what to do next.


I don't understand the fascination with pedestal sinks in the bathroom.  They're like granite counter tops.  You ain't got a high class house without 'em.


Granite (or any stone) counter tops don't make sense because they stain unless you constantly reseal them, are high maintenance, and their density is unforgiving if you set a piece of fine china down a bit too hard.

Likewise, pedestal sinks make no sense whatsoever.  There's no room on top to set anything down.  That was ok when bathrooms were huge - usually because in the dawn of indoor bathrooms, they were converted spare bedrooms.  There was plenty of space for cabinets and counters next to the sink. 

Somewhere a long time ago, as bathrooms became designed into new houses and therefore became smaller, someone looked back and forth between the pedestal sink and the cabinet that had to be also in the room for storing or setting things down, like the toilet paper, shaving items, tooth brushes and toothpaste, soap dish, drinking glass, combs, blah blah, for which there was no room at the sink, and said, "hey, let's combine them!  Let's cut a hole in the cabinet top, set the sink in, and then we'll have lots of convenient space to set the things we use at the sink!"

Brilliant!  Like sliced bread!

Now middle-class bathrooms are tiny, and people want to stick a pedestal sink in a tiny room that has no space for a separate counter or cabinet - simply because pedestal sinks are fashionable. 

It makes no sense to me.  Hell, I want the biggest sink cabinet and countertop I can get!

Monday, May 21, 2012

3534 Baby birds

Monday, May 21, 2012

The ultimate test of a relationship is to disagree but hold hands.
-- Alexander Penney --


I've raised a few baby birds.

General Guidelines:

Wildlife rehab folks might have better info.  This is just my experience with a few baby birds; it worked for the birdies and me, and that's good enough.

The chick has to be kept warm.  If it's very young, tuck it into your bra or shirt pocket until you can get the nest set up.

Get a wide basket (best) or a bowl with straight sides no more than 1.5 inches high, and put some soft material in it.  Thick material if the sides are too high.  Tissues work fine, a piece of cotton flannel or wool cloth is best.  Don't use terrycloth because their claws get caught in it.  Put a heating pad set to low heat on a counter in a room you can close off, like a half-bath you're willing to give up for a while, and place the basket half on and half off the heating pad, so that the chick can select its own comfort zone.  You don't want to accidentally cook him.  A sheet of newspaper between the basket and the heating pad keeps things clean.

No matter what the adult birds eat, all songbirds feed their chicks bugs, grubs, and worms, because the babies need more protein than seed provides, and the babies can't yet grind up and digest seeds.  (The exceptions are pigeons, doves, and flamingos, who feed their chicks crop milk.) So go to a large pet pet shop, the kind that sells reptiles, amphibians, and fish, and buy a small rectangular plastic cage with a top with small holes in it, like you would use to keep insects or a mouse, and a handful of live mealworms to put in it with a bit of coarse yellow corn meal or oatmeal, and a slice of apple.  If the mealworms come in sizes, get the smaller skinnier ones.

Now feed the chick the mealy worms with tweezers.  The first time he may not recognize that it's a feeding, but rubbing the worm on his beak should get the idea across.  I squashed the head of the worms before offering them, because sometimes the lives ones will crawl out of the chick's mouth.   If it's a very small chick and very large worms, cut the worms in half or thirds.  Feed as often as you can.  When the chick is full, he won't open his mouth.  When he's ready for more, the mouth will be wide open.  If he's fed enough during daylight hours, night feedings are not necessary.  The mealworms in the cage will turn into beetles that mate and lay eggs, so if you bought enough to start with, your worm farm will provide a constant supply.

The chicks mostly get sufficient liquids from their food, but since we're not feeding as varied a diet as the parents would, once a day ONE TINY DROP of water from an eye dropper won't kill him.

In the wildlife videos, you often see (especially with vultures and condors) the caregivers using puppets to feed, so the chicks don't  "imprint on humans".  That doesn't seem to be a problem with songbirds.  The birds I've raised seem to know they're birds, know their breed, seem to learn their songs, become good parents, and stay wary of all other humans except me.  All on their own.

Poopy is easy.  When he has to go, the birdy will back up to the edge of the nest and poop over the edge.  That's why the sides of the basket should be low.  The poopy will be in a neat membranous bag with a convenient tag which you can pick up with tweezers and dispose of.

Eventually the birdy will grow real feathers, and start venturing out of the nest.  He'll flap and test his wings.  You can hold his toes as he sits on your finger and move your hand up and down so he gets the feeling of air under his wings (a breeze would do that in the wild, but there's no breeze in your bathroom).  Put some little branches in a flower pot a short distance from the nest to encourage him to venture out on his own.

If you can identify his breed, find out what the adults eat, and put a bowl of it nearby.  If he's a seed eater, he'll instinctively recognize it and try it when he's ready.  He'll also need some bird gravel to grind the seed in his crop.  If he's a bug eater, offer mealworms in a bowl.  If you don't know, offer both and he'll figure it out.  Offer a bowl of water, too.

The hard part is when he starts flying.  He'll perch everywhere and poop everywhere.  The window and shower curtain rods are favorite places.  I just took the curtains down for the nonce.   Pretty soon the birdy is ready for a bird cage, mainly for your own poop sanity.  You can let him out for practice flying sessions.  He'll be happy to fly from your finger to someplace high and back again.

When he's pretty confident flying, you can introduce him to outdoors. 

With my first baby bird, a robin, I simply opened the bathroom window.  She'd fly out and back in again, go into the cage to eat, then back out again.  It got to where she'd be gone all day, and then return to the cage (window and cage door left open) in the evening.  Then it was out overnight a time or two, and then she didn't return.  The rest of the story is below.

With the second bird, I wanted my bathroom back, so when he was ready for outside, he got transferred to the deck in the cage.  He'd fly from my finger around the back yard, and back to my finger.  Then I started just leaving the cage open all day.  He'd be gone all day, maybe come to sit on my finger if he saw me on the deck, then returning on his own to the cage at night, and I'd close the cage until morning so he'd be safe.  One day he brought a female back with him.  The two of them ate in the cage, then spent the night on the deck railing.  Eventually he stopped coming back.  The rest of the story is below.


My Experience

The first was a robin that had fallen out of a nest and was picked up and taken home by some neighborhood children.   Usually when a chick falls out of a nest, the best thing to do is to put the chick back in the nest if you can (it's a myth that the parents will abandon a chick with human scent on it), or fasten a basket or something to the trunk of the tree as high as you can.  The adults will find the chick and care for it.  But in this case, the children couldn't remember where they'd found it.  The children's mother didn't know what to do with the chick.

The chick had some feathers started on her wings, but was still fluffy on her head and underside. It wouldn't be too long before she'd have been out of the nest anyway, so I volunteered to try raising it.  This was in the early '80s.  No internet.  I made things up as I went along.  (I say "she", but at the time I wasn't sure.  When she left she had the adolescent robin speckled breast, which could have been male or female.)

That was the robin mentioned above.

I mourned a bit when she finally didn't come back.  I hoped nothing had happened to her.  There was no sign of her for the rest of that summer, fall, or winter.

The next spring, a pair of robins built a nest in the tree just outside the bathroom window.  I'd never had robins nest in my backyard before then.

I was in the bathroom one day, and the mother robin landed on the windowsill and peered in the window.  I opened the window, and she flew away.  I left the window open, and she flew into the bathroom.  She flew out again when I went into the bathroom.

Yeah, I think it was her.

Although she wasn't "friendly", for the next four years there was a robin family in that tree, just outside the window, and eventually several more nests in other nearby trees.  Her children, grandchilden, and great-grandchildren, I like to think.  Like she told them, "This is a safe place."


The second bird (and several subsequent) was a cowbird.  I have learned not to mention that I raised cowbirds.  People often get very angry at me.  A lot of people consider cowbirds evil, because they lay their eggs in other smaller birds' nests and then abandon them.  The cowbird chick hatches first, and pushes the other eggs or smaller chicks out of the nest to their doom and hogs the attentions of the much smaller foster parents.  Many people are disgusted with me, like I was turning Tasmanian Devils loose in the neighborhood.

The way I figure it, God didn't make any evil animals.  Even cowbirds have their reasons for being, their defined place in Nature.  Just because we don't like it doesn't make it evil.  Plus, they are native to this continent.  They have a right to exist.

When I married Jay, there was a pair of warblers who nested on the porch light every year.  I had a mirror on a stick, and liked to look in the nest every so often.  One day I saw a larger very different egg in there along with the original warbler four, and I knew immediately what it was.  I took it out and hatched it in a dish towel tied around my waist.  I named him "Birdie".  Yeah, I'm not very good at naming animals.

He was quite different from the robin in the way he related to me, probably because the robin had been raised to early adolescence by birds, but Birdie had never known any parent but me.  Plus, cowbirds are very adaptable by nature.  No matter what species raises them, they know they are cowbirds.

I swear the damn bird loved me.  He was so very intelligent, too.

He's the one who camped in the cage on the deck, and brought his first girlfriend home to his "pad" for dinner and to introduce her to his mom. He always came when called.  I'd hold my finger out and call "Birdie, Birdie", and if he was within sound of my voice he'd come to my finger.

I had a lot of affection for him.  I told Jay it was just like raising a child, but birth to leaving home was condensed into one spring and summer.  His first solid food, his first steps (flying), his first drive alone in the car (flying outside), his first girlfriend, his first overnight away from home, and then leaving for college.  I worried about him just like a  mother.

He visited often even into the fall.  I'd be standing on the deck (cigarette), and he'd arrive from nowhere and land on my head or shoulder and hop onto my finger.  Gradually visits became farther and farther apart.  Cowbirds feed in flocks, so I figured he'd joined a flock (my child in a gang!?) and was traveling with them  (visions of a motorcycle gang, Hell's Cowbirds!)  And then finally in late fall, I saw him no more.

The next summer, mid-summer, I was on the deck one day, and a cowbird landed on the railing.  He peered at me sideways, and sidled closer cautiously.  I said, "Birdie?" and held out my finger, and he jumped up and down, chirped excitedly, and flew to my finger.  Later a full flock of cowbirds visited the back yard, but there wasn't much for them to eat there compared to the pastures below the ridge, and the crows living in the woods next door objected, so they didn't stay long.  I figure that was "take Mom to the office picnic" day.

Pretty damn cool.

That was the last time I saw him.  I'm sure he's ok, just moved on to farther fields.

I continued to check the warblers' nest spring and late summer (they often raised two broods a year there), and about every other spring I found a cowbird egg, which I hatched and raised, with pretty much the same results as with Birdie.  When Jay got sick I put wire over the lights so the warblers would have to move, because I didn't know what I'd do if I found another cowbird egg.  Jay needed all my attention.  After he died I took the wire down, and the warblers came back, but I never found another strange egg to adopt.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

3533 Old house, wagon, motherhood

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The best helping hand that you will ever receive is the one at the end of your own arm.
-- Fred Dehner --


Back on 5/7 I said I had several days to catch up on, and then I didn't.  Let's test my memory.

Aborted trips

Week before last, 5/9, I went upriver to the old house with plans to bring some boxes and smaller furniture down.  Traffic was heavy because of roadwork and the trip took three hours.  I got there at 11 pm, desperate for the bathroom, and that's when I discovered I had forgotten to bring the house key.  It's countryside and small village.  Everything is closed by 9 PM.  The nearest public bathroom is 10 miles away across the river.

I shrugged and piddled on the driveway in the light of the van door.  I always wanted to do that....

Then I drove to the Wal-Mart and bought a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a nightgown, and got a room at a little motel near the Throughway.  It's the cheapest motel in the area, at $67 a night, but I had read very good reviews a few months ago.  It turned out to be simple, basic, in good repair, very clean, and remarkably quiet considering its proximity to the Throughway.  The next morning I drove back home.

That was depressing.  I now have a note on my front door listing all the things NOT to forget when I head upriver.

Last week, 5/15, I planned to try again.  Tuesday afternoon I took a load of cardboard and paper to the recycle center (yeah, we have twice a month pickup, but I'm rarely home on those days).  It began raining while I was unloading the van, and I noticed what looked like oil floating on the water running from under Fred.  He's now 10 years old, and he does sometimes spring leaks.  I planned to drive him upriver that evening.  It didn't seem like a good idea until I found out what was leaking, but ... I couldn't put the trip off because I had arranged to have the old house furnace serviced the next day, Wednesday.  Rescheduling (again!) is difficult.

So I drove the BMW north.  Hal, the one with the tiny leather back seat and the tiny trunk.   I wasn't able to bring back anything but one armload of clothes and two small boxes.

Another disappointing trip.

Since then I've had an amazing amount of energy.  I've assembled the Nugget's birthday wagon (steel Radio Flyer with all-terrain wheels and wood guard rails, whoop whoop!).  She loves riding in it, but it requires two adults, one to pull and one to walk alongside to make sure she doesn't try to climb out.   We've gone for a few walks with it.  I assembled a bunch of Ikea bookcases (they had a sale).  I cleaned, washed dishes (the dishwasher in the new house died on its 18-month birthday), sorted shoes, changed sheets, did some laundry, and pulled together a bunch of stuff to donate.  Today, when her mother wasn't looking, I taught the Nugget how to drink from a hose.


More cheap books!

Amazon has a "Kindle Daily Deal", providing one heavily discounted book on a daily basis.  It's at  You can subscribe to daily notices on the right of that screen.  You may have to change your Amazon account email notices to accept Kindle subscriptions.

I seems to take about two days to kick in, but then you get an email every morning with the day's bargain. I've got only two notices so far, and neither were books I was interested in, so I can't comment on the quality of the offerings.


Why polls are bullpoopy

This one was on the radio during my drive upriver last week.  Somebody polled random people in the Albany area about fracking.
Approve = 37%
Oppose = 36%
No opinion = 27%
Have heard about fracking = 66%

Do the math.  7% of the people had an opinion on a topic they admit they'd never heard of.  (I was surprised that the news reader didn't remark on the discrepancy.)


Major dose of tender adoration

Orangutan mother with six-week-old infant.  Kisses and coochey-coos.