Tuesday, August 28, 2012

3608 Oh, good grief!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

“I’m not on Facebook” is the new “I don’t own a TV.”


You must must must make yourself a pot of tea or coffee (or open a bottle of wine) and go to http://www.amazon.co.uk/BIC-For-Amber-Medium-Ballpoint/dp/B004FTGJUW, and read the product reviews at the bottom!  It's a riot.  Who says Brits are humorless?

3607 Slinky dropping, refrigerator shopping

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

From the 1985 movie "Bliss":  "The entire economy of the Western world
is built on things that cause cancer."


Todd Akin is screwing the GOP even though they asked him not to.  I wonder if there's a word for that.


I bought a refrigerator yesterday.  I had shopped online for my ideal refrigerator, and I'd visited a few  local stores.  I wanted a not-too-big model, 20 to 22 cubic feet, bottom freezer, one piece (as opposed to the side-by-side two-door things), nothing fancy like ice maker or drink dispenser (I won't use them so they're just sources of problems, like leaks), and a reasonable price.

I was getting very discouraged.  Durn things are horribly expensive.  And the bottom freezers I looked at were all drawers.  None had a swing door and pull-out basket like I wanted.  Those drawers would be difficult for me because I'm so short.  I'd have to lean over the drawer at about belly level (my arms would just barely reach the bottom of the drawer) and in that position lift out, say, a heavy turkey.  That could be very hard on my back.  With a swing door and pull-out basket I can skooch and lift with my legs.  I was very sad.  I finally picked one online from Sears that looked likely, at least it was slightly under $1000, and I printed out the info to go look at it, but I still wasn't enthusiastic.

I heard that Sears was going to have a big sale on refrigerators over Labor Day, so on impulse yesterday, on a trip to the post office, I decided to go to Sears.  The refrigerators are already on sale, and if they go lower over the weekend, I can get a refund for the difference.  The salesman, hearing what I wanted, showed me a white one that looked likely, for $1050(ish).  I said, well, I really need almond, and right around the corner was the same refrigerator in almond - for only $750!  I asked why the big difference in price, and he said because almond doesn't sell as well (yeah, this was the first almond I'd seen in all my searching), and it has the textured finish instead of gloss (yeah, I hadn't seen many textured, either, and I prefer textured), and, a feature no one likes, it has a swing-out freezer door instead of the drawer.

I about fell over, and bought it on the spot!  Incredible!

It will be delivered Thursday.


The following video is from "theslomoguys".  They do slow motion videos, some of which are sophomoric, and some of which are fascinating.  It has me missing Jay.  He'd be fascinated by this one, produce an explanation, and then perform some experiments to verify his theory.

Proposition:  What happens if you hold a Slinky out by one end, and then drop it?  The answer is interesting.  It's a spring and it wants to contract (which they say), but I'm left with my own additional question - i.e. once it has contracted, does the top fall faster, or slower, or continue at the same rate?  Once the top and bottom meet, note that the bottom seems to fall faster.  That's counter intuitive.  (I haven't mentioned what happens.  Watch the video to find out.  2 minutes.)


Sunday, August 26, 2012

3606 I can be very nasty

Sunday, August 26, 2012

We must never confuse dissent with disloyalty.
--   Edward R. Morrow  --


Here's where I say what I'm thinking.  I just hope the person I'm saying it about never finds this.  On the other hand, maybe she needs the kick in the pants.


A while ago another blogger linked to a blog about a couple currently fighting the husband's brain cancer.  Having familiarity with that particular situation I read the blog, starting from the beginning.  I didn't get very far before I had to take a break from it, because I got so very annoyed with the wife - and I avoid annoyances these days. 

I had to think about my annoyance, distance myself from it, and I think now I can go back to it sometime.  Let's face it - I'm very curious as to the husband's treatment and the course of the tumor.  Given the continuing search hits on my own "brain cancer timeline" post from a few years ago, a lot of people likely facing the same diagnosis are curious, too.  We need to know what to expect.  I'd like to know what is different now from when Jay was being treated.

It's amazing how different people handle things in different ways.

When Jay got his diagnosis, we were stunned the first two or three days.  Mostly we did internet research.  Then one evening we sat against the headboard with our arms around each other and cried.   That was the first and last time we cried, and the last time we used the word "cancer".  From then on we referred to it as "the tumor".  That sounded beatable.  Just a pesky lump.

Doctors were privately frank with me about the likely course and prognosis, but they seemed to be aware that Jay was intent on maintaining a positive attitude, and they never mentioned life expectancy to him.  They were very positive and supportive.

The only time I mentioned death to him was when he had an especially rough recovery from his third craniotomy, and I said, "Sweetheart, would it be ironic if you beat the tumor, but the treatment killed you?"  His response, "If the treatment kills me, then I beat the tumor.  It didn't get me."  The only time he brought up death himself was when he told me that he didn't want to "die by surprise".  He asked me to promise to tell him when he was on the way out.  I promised.  And I did in his last few hours, when there was nothing else left.

Given that, perhaps it's understandable that I had difficulty with the way this other couple handled it.  The wife wails that her husband is DYING!  She has already given up.  She constantly reminds him that he's DYING!  She constantly reminds herself that he's actively engaged in the process of DYING!  She seems to want support from him (!), because her husband is DYING!  Now, he's young, and with constant reminders from her, he's seeing his life leaking away.  What about all the things he'd wanted to do?  What about his dreams for the future?  But she seems less interested in his feelings, and is focused on what on earth will happen to her when her husband DIES!  "Oh, oh, poor meeeeeeeeee!  My husband is DYING!"

I hoped that this was just what she said to the blog, just letting it out, screaming to the wall, that in real life she was much more concerned with her husband's feelings and much more positive.  And that's ok.  I used to get in the car and drive out to the middle of the farm fields, roll up the windows, and scream as loud and as long as I could, until I couldn't scream any more.  I screamed for the unfairness of it all, for what was happening to Jay.  Then I could drive home and be calm and positive with him.  Maybe the blog is her place to scream. 

Nope. My hopes were dashed when her birthday came around.  Stand-up comedy is a dream of her husband.  It gives him joy.  He had an opportunity to appear on stage at a comedy club - on her birthday.  He wanted to do it, he was excited about it, and she freaked out.  That he would dare to ruin her birthday!  She argued with him about it.  I was shocked.  My head spun.  Doesn't she realize that she can look forward to more birthdays, with luck more with him?  But his chances to do standup might be dwindling?  Nope.  It's all about meeeeeeee!  My husband is DYING on meeeeeee, and now he wants to destroy my birthday, too!

Sorry.  At that point I couldn't read much more.  I wanted to strangle her.

I gather that she has some kind of chronic medical issues of her own.  I understand that she depends on him.  I guess she thought he would be there forever to help and emotionally support her.  And now all that came crashing down.  Ok.  Understandable.  Self pity is ok.  That's when you scream in private.

But, he needs her emotional support right now, and she's failing him.

I'm having a lot of trouble with this.  Poor meeeeeeeeee.

I'll go back and give her another chance.  I hope she gets a grip.  (Oh, by the way, she tends to exaggerate.  Like when she talks about the gazillion pages of the application for SS disability.  I dealt with that.  Mostly the doctor says yea verily, provides a diagnosis and prognosis, and that's about it.  I don't remember more than one page I had to fill out - or maybe several pages, but only a few simple questions per page.  Not a big deal when the topic is brain cancer.  But well, that doesn't get you pity.)

I'm pretty nasty.  Arrogant and nasty.  And, of course, perfect.

3605 Regrets

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Among wild dogs, the family that preys together stays together.


Regarding the previous post, the things I regret most are not so much the decisions that hurt me, but things I did or said that hurt others.  I'm rather socially inept.  I sometimes blurt without thinking.

There are two particular instances that still, after decades, bother me.  I wish I could take them back.

Fall 1967.  Before cell phones, GPS, internet maps.  My first day at a new job, picking up an emergency semi-permanent job from a teacher who'd had a heart attack, math at the high school in Hanover, Pa.  The superintendent's office had called me to please come in the next day, and the secretary gave me directions to the school.  She told me to turn right at (something like) the second traffic light, then turn left at the second light, then right at the next light, et cetera.

The next morning I left home with a good half-hour to spare, and headed to Hanover.

I went through only one traffic light, Hanover is (was?) a small town, and I soon found found myself through the town and out in farmland.  I didn't know whether to keep going, maybe there'd be another light?  Nah.  There's nothing out here.  I turned around and tried turning at that previous light.  Again after a barren while I found myself out in farmland.

I had to find the center of town where there were businesses, and ask.  I arrived at the school 20 minutes late for the first period.  This is very bad.  Somebody has to be in the classroom at all times.  Teachers cannot EVER be late.

I rushed into the office.  There were two secretaries there.  The taller one asked what had happened.  I replied that (and I still remember my exact words), "I got directions from the superintendent's office, but the idiot secretary there doesn't know the difference between a traffic light and a stop sign.  I kept looking for traffic lights that don't exist."

The other secretary looked up and flinched.  She was a much older woman, small and pale.  She got even paler, her face fell, and I knew immediately that I had screwed up.  She said, "Yesterday was my day to sub at the superintendent's office."  She teared up, and wailed as she ran for the inner office, "I don't drive.  I don't know the difference between a traffic light and a stop sign!"

Sigh.  I still, for some reason, remember that.  I made a sweet little old lady cry.


Fall, 1990.  The ladies' room at the Litigation Lab.  It was small, two stalls, one sink, one small sofa, a waste can.  We ten people were the only people in the very large building; the only females at that time were me, Martha, and the secretary.  We had a huge dedicated multi-mainframe computer room with the usual raised floor.  The building was surrounded by fields, and we'd had a problem with snakes, mice, shrews, and who knows what else under the floors.

One day we started to have a problem in the ladies' room.  It got worse and worse over the period of a few days,  and one day when I went in there, the smell was so bad I literally gagged.  It smelled exactly like something had died and rotted in there.  The stench of death.  I mean really really bad.  Like a groundhog had rolled up under the computer room floor and against the rest room wall and was turning into a pool of noxious liquid soaking through the wall.

The secretary was washing her hands when I walked in.  She was one of those very mousy women who always look like they're expecting to be beaten.  Stooped back, shoulders rolled forward, head down.  Never looked anyone in the eye.

I said, "Oh my God!  What died in here?!  That's awful!" and started sniffing trying to locate the source.

She looked up, looked me in the eye for the first time ever, and I saw fear and shame there.  She said, "It's me.  There's something wrong in my bowels.  Everything I eat just rots in there."  And then she scurried out before I could digest what she said.  (No pun intended.)

I stopped by her desk and said I was sorry to have reacted so badly, but that she really should see a doctor.  That has to be a sign of something that needs help.

She didn't come into work the next day, and the following week we had a new secretary.  No one knew anything about her condition, or where she was, but I heard that it was pancreatic cancer.  I don't know if that was knowledge or presumption.  It turns out no one knew her at all.

What sticks in my head is the look in her eyes when she said "it's me", and I very much regret having elicited that look.  I wish it had never happened.


Of course those aren't the only times I said or did something that hurt or upset another person, but for some reason these are the ones that stuck, that I still see and hear in my mind, that make me cringe, make me want to do it over.  Is it coincidence that both were secretaries?  Or is it more that both were mousy defenseless women?

3604 Choices

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do,
because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.
--  Susan B. Anthony  --


I have a few decades to look back on.  Many forks in the road.  Many decisions made. 

I sometimes wonder how life would have been different if I had made different choices.  What if I had married Obie instead of Bob?  What if I had gone into pathology instead of teaching?  What if I had done this instead of that?  Gone here instead of there?  Said this instead of that? 

Sometimes, in my current wisdom, it seems like every decision I made, every path I took, was the wrong one.  Sometimes I get very depressed about that.  Like I sold myself short over and over.  I hurt myself and others.  Stupid stupid.

But I couldn't have been that stupid. There was more to it than stupidity.

I am aware that for more than the first half of my life I was very emotionally fragile, and that played a large part in the forks I took.  I chose the path that seemed to offer the greatest protection, the least potential for pain. Whatever that path offered was what I needed most at the time to feel safe.

In every case, I made the best decision I could possibly have made at the time, given my history of physical and emotional trauma, my fears, knowledge, and needs. 

I think everyone does that.  You make the choices that seem right at the time.  When you look back, you might decide you made the wrong choice, but when you're looking back, you have a different view.  You know more about the whole situation.  Not the same at all, so it's unfair to judge yourself.

Um, keep that in mind when judging others, too.  People don't do stupid things to themselves on purpose.  At the time, it seemed to them like the best or only thing to do.

The only way I could have done anything differently is to have been born a different person, at a different time, to different parents.  I am now the person I was meant to be, in the place in life I was meant to be.  It couldn't have been any different, because I was the person I was.