Saturday, December 08, 2012

3678 Paths

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A flashlight is a case for holding dead batteries.


Back in 2006, I met a few guys through online dating sites, one of whom I called B00ker, because he owned a bookstore somewhere in the Berkshires.  He was handsome, intelligent, charming, all the good stuff, but he had some kind of problem with his legs, so I ended up turning him down and then beating myself up for it.  The post(s) about him and my angst are here.

I didn't know then what was up with his legs.  Judging from what little I saw of his feet and ankles, and based on a series of random links I followed yesterday, I think now it was probably lymphedema.

There is therapy to reduce the swelling, but it's a lifelong thing.  If you stop the massage and the wrapping, it'll just come back.  If not treated, the swelling just gets bigger and bigger, and you can die from it, usually from infection.

So now, if that is what it was, and if I had known that then, would I have tried a relationship with him?  Maybe.  I don't know.  I might have stuck around long enough to get him into therapy to the point where he saw some improvement and was encouraged to keep with it, and by then I'd have a better idea.

But, I'm pretty certain he didn't have health insurance, so it would have been moot anyway.

Since I've read up on lymphedema I've been thinking about him.  Wondering how he's doing.  If he got treatment, he's probably doing just fine.  If not, he's probably dead.


This is the season most people think of charity.  This video is not about throwing money.  This is about thinking about what is needed.  It made me smile.


Friday, December 07, 2012

3677 Rambles

Friday, December 7, 2012

There’s a difference between free speech and hate speech.
--  Joy Behar  --


From Fred Reed, at
"Among non-scientists there is a vague notion that a beneficent evolution moves us ineluctably toward ever higher intelligence and understanding, though in fact evolutionary theory does not say this—evolution has no direction and science promises only an eventual dull entropic boredom—but the onward-and-upward popular belief appears to satisfy the need for an overarching explanation of everything."
You know, he's right.  Evolution promises nothing.  I doubt that mankind in general is any smarter now than, say, 200 years ago.  @00 (that's a capitalized "200") years isn't much in evolutionary terms, but I do believe that on average we are already demonstrably more stupid.  We know more "stuff", but we are in general, overall,  less logical, less understanding, less interested in understanding, and less capable than we used to be.  It's like thinking is evolving out of us.  Like we don't need it any more.

(Keep in mind that incorrect conclusions are not necessarily due to faulty reasoning.  Often it's due to faulty assumptions.  So if great-great-grandfather had some nutty notions, it may have had less to do with his intellectual abilities than with the "facts" he started out with.  Contrast that with today, when people are perfectly willing to start with "facts" that they already know, or should know, are false, and it doesn't seem to bother them in the least.)

Ever see "Idiocracy"?  That's one way evolution could go, and I see no evidence that it's not.


This is fascinating!

"Ringing all 10 down in peal at Rochester Cathedral"


The first time I watched this I didn't have the title, so it wasn't until about the 3:40 mark that I noticed that the bells were no longer going to the balance point (straight up) and suddenly realized what they were doing.  The title confirmed it.  Cool.


I recently read that the viral "Gangnam style" dance video and its clones had surpassed all records for views on YouTube, probably because people were playing it over and over to learn the moves. (If you want to see what it's about, this is a better illustration of the dance:

Of course my immediate reaction was an annoyed "Why?"  It's pretty stupid, and apparently the moves fit only with that particular music, so why would anyone want to work so hard to learn it?

Thinking about it a bit changed my opinion.

I grew up in the era of waltz, fox trot, 2-step, jitterbug, swing, twist, frug (my favorite, and ignore Wikipedia's opinion that Bob Fosse's Rich Man's Frug is "a perfect example" -it's not.  In fact, I didn't even recognize it as the frug), and the group dances like the Madison and the stroll.  I never really danced much anyway, because I'm so short and so couples dancing was awkward, and separately I kept getting smashed into on the dance floor.   Along about the 1980s (my 30s into 40's), I was running with a much younger group, and was shocked to find that "dancing" had somehow devolved into simply jumping up and down in place.  I was further shocked when, in the '90s, dancing became nothing more than simulated sex on the dance floor.  Just rubbing body parts together.

At that point I stopped paying attention.

So if young folks are interested in something that moves to the beat, has actual "steps", and doesn't involve rubbing against relative strangers, well, maybe I should cheer.


The Nugget loves to dance.  She has danced, bouncing on her bottom and swaying her upper body whenever she heard music, even before she was able to stand.  Now she tucks a tiny African drum under her left arm and plays with her right while she dances and sings along with the music.

"Dancing" right now involves swinging her bottom left to right while she sways and takes big steps side to side or in a circle with her legs far apart.  She's just now learning about jumping, so now she throws in a little hop here and there.

What's cutest about it is that she doesn't dance for approval or attention.  She forgets you're there.  She's completely focused on the music.


I'd been a little worried because at 18 months Nugget still was making no attempt to talk, beyond "mama" and "dada" and "ammah" (me), and even those words were rare.  I hoped that it was because her mother had taught her sign language as an infant, so she felt no need to talk.  It was obvious that she understood a lot of what was said to her, though, even rather complex statements, even with future tense.  (Her mother had been speaking in grammatically correct three to four word sentences at 10 months, so that's what I was comparing to.)

This past month has been much more satisfying.  It started with "Baaaaall!"  She had to identify every ball for us.  Even round buttons - "baaaaall!"  Oranges - "Baaaaall!"  As far as I know that's the only new word she says spontaneously, but she does repeat words to herself when we say them.  "Do you want a cookie?  Cookie?"  Fierce nod, "Cooooogie!"  Cats, however, are still "Eeeeow!" no matter what we call them.

Oh, almost forgot.  "No!" has appeared.  Spontaneously.  Sharp, clear, and distressingly often.


I was just about to file this when, from my left, where the TV was nattering to itself, I heard a woman say something about 300 people in the room and "...not no one didn't see nothing".

My toes literally curled.  I don't know what that means!  Logically it means some one saw something.  I think.  If the Nugget ever says anything like that, so help me I will spank her!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

3676 Stuff and things

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

One nice thing about egotists: they don't talk about other people.


I'm sick.  I felt rocky Sunday, nothing specific, just that "uh oh" feeling in my throat.  Monday afternoon I got the hot dry spots in my throat.  Then the cough started, a short dry bark, almost constant.  The thermometer said I didn't have a fever, but I couldn't get warm, either.  Monday night I got almost no sleep because of the coughing.  Instead, I had strange mental visions of waves washing over rocks.  Tuesday, yesterday, the fever and headache and body aches started.  Every bone, muscle, and joint aches.  Even my little finger aches.  Still no congestion, but coughing hard.  My stomach hurts from the coughing.  Aspirin does help the headache, but leaves me lightheaded.

Obviously it's a virus.  I've been gargling with Listerine to prevent a secondary bacterial infection in my torn-up throat.  If I can avoid that, this should go away soonish....

It's messing with my head.  Yesterday I drove to the garage where Fred the van has been for the past 2.5 months to pay and pick up the keys (long story short - the manufacturer kept sending the wrong part, mainly because of confusion over the fact that Fred had been modified for wheelchair use, so some of his parts are not the standard issue).  I've been there many times, but yesterday I kept getting lost.  I had difficulty figuring out where I was in relation to the shop, and at least twice I couldn't figure out where I was AT ALL!  And when I did figure out where I was, I had no idea how I ended up there.  Streets I was familiar with were completely unfamiliar.  Also, on three occasions I had to pull out into traffic, and I couldn't judge the speed or distance of oncoming cars.  That was scary.

I think maybe I shouldn't drive until at least the headache/lightheadedness  goes away.  Daughter is going to pick up some cough medicine for me this afternoon on her way to fetch Nugget from nursery school.


There are a bunch of sayings about taking the road less traveled, the path least trodden.  From the height of my great age and experience, I can tell you that's bullpoopy (except when it comes to inventions).  You should take the well-marked well-used trail.  Can't tell you how many times I've come to a (literal) Y in the trail, and I took the wild-looking one, only to be asked later, "Did you see the ....?" - some wonderful view, or falls, or whatever.  And of course I didn't. 

There's usually a reason one of two paths is better-traveled than the other.


Definition of cognitive disconnect, not necessarily irony.


Observation: Older computer games couldn't be won.  They just got harder and faster until you died.  Just like real life.


Not to get into a discussion on gun control, but whatever one's position I think we can all agree that unstable, scary people shouldn't have guns.   But how do we identify those people?

I realize this won't work in real life! but it's worth thinking about.  Suppose before someone could buy a gun, 20 people who know him (not 20 he chooses, 20 randomly selected from friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, etc.) are asked, "Do you find the thought of him with a gun frightening?"  If some proportion say yes, say maybe 1/3, then he doesn't get a gun.

I'm comfortable with that.  People who know him, know him best (as long as he isn't a psychopath - those folks can be charming).


I have "exploding head syndrome".  It's real.  

The Wikipedia article says it's more common over 50, but I've had it most of my life.  The article seems to imply that it happens most often when you're falling asleep. It happens to me randomly maybe once every year or two or so, and it's never when I'm falling asleep.  It's usually when I'm up and at work or home, anywhere, doing anything.  People have brushed it off as a cherry bomb outside, or a backfire, or a hunter in the woods - but there's a BIG difference in sound and feeling between sounds from outside your head and sounds inside your head.  It's very obvious that it was inside my head.  Absolutely 100%.  I can actually feel the bang, but there are no words to describe that feeling.  It's sort of like a pop of invisible lightning in my head.

When it happens, I don't get the fear that Wikipedia describes.  I just pause for a moment and run a mental test pattern in my mind to make sure it wasn't a stroke, and that's it.

You know what really gets me?  Sometimes I'd be mid-sentence and suddenly stop, and the person I was talking with will see me staring off into space for a few seconds (running the mental checklist for stroke), ask why, I'll tell them I heard a loud bang inside my head, and

they proceed to tell me it wasn't in my head, that it must have been outside, even though 
they themselves heard nothing!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

3675 Hibernating and noise

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Experience is the thing you have left when everything else is gone.


I'm turning into a hermit.

I go nowhere and do nothing.  I see Daughter and the Nugget almost every day, and say hello to neighbors on either side, and I go to stores, post office, and bank as necessary. There are occasional visits with The Man.  Other than that, nothing.

Every day is like the day before.  Nothing gets done, and I'm surprised at how fast the weeks and months are passing.

I joined a bunch of Meetup groups, but nothing they plan interests me.  I get the monthly local Mensa group's newsletter and calendar, but find nothing interesting.  None of it seems worth the effort of getting there, wherever "there" is.  I have not found the people interesting.  In fact, I find them annoying.  I'm not going to fight traffic just to be annoyed.

I don't think I'm depressed, because the Nugget and I have fun, and I enjoy my reading.  I enjoy the changing scenery and the beasties that visit my yard.  There are no negative feelings or thoughts.

My legs seem to get tired a lot.  I can still walk decent distances without difficulty - it's the getting started that just doesn't happen.   My legs say, "Nah, let's just sit here."

Or maybe it's the cold.  My bones are cold.  I hate winter.  I long for warm breezes.


It's noisier at the city house than at the country house.  Leaf blowers, traffic,sirens, parties, firecrackers, kids, dogs, airplanes, all that.  Even the birds and squirrels are noisier.

It's so quiet at the country house that I can hear the trains passing five miles away, beyond two ridges and tucked into the river valley.  The house is on the helicopter path between Albany and NYC, and they tend to fly very low and shake the glasses in the cupboards, but that's maybe twice or thrice a month unless something's going on.  Bird sound is mostly crows and raptors calling, and somehow that's a pleasant sound.  The little birds sing, but not so loudly, and they prefer the woods and farm fields to yards around houses.  Tree frogs and katydids, crickets and whippoorwills.  Turkeys.  Chipmunks singing.  No sound is constant.  They all have their times, their seasons.  Those sounds are so much more relaxing than constant sirens, leaf blowers, traffic, and loud music.

The noise here is tiring.  It's aging me.  Wearing me down.

This morning being Sunday, I realized there's a sound at the country house that I miss at the city house.

Church bells.

Aren't there any churches with bells around here?

At the country house I used to drive into Rhinebeck occasionally to hear the noon carillon at the Episcopal church in town.  Beautiful.  I doubt that there's anything like that around here.

I don't have a bucket list, but if I did, I'd put visiting famous carillons on it - real bells - and I'd love to hear changes rung from an old country church somewhere in the British Isles, 6 to 10 bells so I can follow the pattern.

This is 10 bells at Cambridge -


This is 12 bells at Liverpool -


This is a guy learning to ring, "It's harder than it looks".  It also explains how the bells are rung from a balanced "upside down" position. That makes it possible to control the timing.