Wednesday, December 18, 2013

3811 Screaming

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sometimes, when following links deep into the web, I will have seven or eight or more tabs open, and suddenly someone is talking, or there's horrible music coming from the speakers. 

A video ad has started somewhere.

I don't know where.

(The worst is when more than one are running at the same time, talking over each other.  It sounds like a crowded cocktail party in here.)

I bounce back through tabs, scrolling through screens, searching, trying to find the damn thing and turn it OFF, and I can't find it.

I hate that!

There are popup blockers.  There should be an auto-start video blocker!  I'd pay money for it.
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Saturday, December 14, 2013

3810 Estate sale

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Well, I have medical insurance for 2014.  I suspect I'm not going to be happy with it, but, we'll see.  The cost is low, but it's a Medicare Advantage plan, and it's an HMO.  I always swore I'd never go into an HMO, but there it is.  The only plan of any type that I was eligible for that allowed me to choose my own doctors was extremely costly.  So.  At least that's done.

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The country house is under storm alert this weekend.  10" of snow and then sleet.  Since the house is higher up, I suppose there will be at least 12" of snow.  We always got about 20% more than lower down.  Or more.  Temps in the low 20s.  I am worried about losing power there.  Sigh.  Another week I won't be going north.

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I got an email a few days ago from my old auctioneer, George, saying he was going to be on a show on the Travel Channel, so I watched it.  It was another of those stupid shows that seem to be so popular recently --- you know, where we follow some "experts" while they buy unseen storage facility contents, or race through antique centers looking for bargains, or poke around mountains looking for gold.

This time, we had three "expert bidders" at George's auction.  It was very obvious the whole thing was staged.  He had a full room of bidders, but no one else bid on any of the boxes that were obviously solely for these "experts" to battle over.

It was so stupid.  THEY were so stupid.  They were bidding on unopened boxes and bags, no idea what was in them.  Number one, George never sells unopened stuff.  Number two, these "experts" didn't do their research.  One idiot kept saying "There's lots of mansions in [this village].  Huge estates. This is an estate auction so these boxes are coming from the attics and basements of these wealthy mansions.  You KNOW it has to be good stuff!"

First of all, the statement that there are lots of mansions in [the village].  Yeah, that general wider area is full of mansions, yeah, but most of them are run as tourist destinations by the national park service, like the Vanderbilt, Astor, and Roosevelt places, and a few other piles of marble with names and history.  There are a few private mansions around, but these days almost all of them are empty, like the place where Chelsea Clinton's wedding reception was held. (It's for sale and the owner volunteered it hoping for free advertising.) So, there's no good stuff coming from mansion attics!  Do your research, you fool!

Second, the "expert" doesn't even know what an estate auction is!

"Estate" in this sense doesn't mean mansions and land, anyway.  It means somebody's Aunt Sally died and left all her worldly goods to somebody who is now selling off the excess.  "Estate" in the sense of the disposals of a legal will.  Sheesh.  And these folks are "experts"?

(Sometimes George does sell items from a mansion, but when he does, he tells you where it came from,  "Sale of the Contents of Blah Blah Mansion", and the auction is exclusively those items.  In 10 years, I've seen only two of those auctions - one being Larry (Hustler) Flynt's place.  Usually George's estate sale stuff is bits from hither and yon all over the northeast.)

Third, one of the "experts" attempted to figure out what was in a locked duffel bag by SITTING ON IT!  Well, there goes that Faberge egg, eh!  How stupid is that.  The other guy was shaking boxes violently.  Duh.

It got to where I was yelling at the TV.

I will never watch any of those things again.  Bleck.  I will not miss cable.
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Thursday, December 12, 2013

3809 One thing I did do right

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Among all the things I've screwed up over the past week, I think I did do one thing right.  Or as right as I know how, anyway.

I am paying $168 a month for TV cable, internet, and a stupid house phone I didn't want and don't use.

I watch maybe 5 to 7 hours of TV a week, max.  And I almost never watch any of the 400 or more channels other than some basic broadcast networks (NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS).  In fact, it's almost exclusively CBS and a little PBS.  I don't watch sports, the comedy package, the movie package, any of that other stuff.

Why am I paying for stuff I don't use?

So I called.  The first rep could cut it down to $158 per month for basic cable. $10?  Big whoop.  I made disappointed shop-around noises, so she passed me to another rep who "might know of some discounts".

It's now basic local cable and the internet will be twice as fast without all those channels, and I'm down to less than $90 a month.  Because it's just local broadcast channels, I don't need the four set-top (stupid design - how many sets have room for anything on the top these days?) boxes, either. I gotta keep the stupid useless phone because it's part of "the package".

You know what's really disgusting?  That's still ridiculously high.  When I first signed up for this entire package, it was $99 for the whole shebang, including four DVD(Tivo?) boxes.  In three years it has gone up 68%.
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3808 Maybe I can see Jasper's vet? He makes house calls....

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A week, already?  Egads!

I didn't go north last week.  I didn't get everything finished that I had to do before I left, and, in fact, I'm not finished YET.

I really screwed some stuff up.  For the past 19 years, along about October, I'd get the package from IBM about the medical insurance coverage for the next year.  Choices/changes had to be made by the end of December (earlier, if you wanted the new medical cards by January 1).  If there was nothing you wanted to change, you did nothing, and you got the same coverage continued.  For 19 years, IBM taught me that the package could be safely ignored.

So I ignored it.

I should have known better.  IBM is (surprise) no longer offering the group packages.  They have seized the opportunity to dump all the retirees and "allow" us to get individual coverage through an exchange.  After all these years of experience with IBM, why am I surprised?  I should have expected that. 

They are being so gracious about it, they have contracted with a company to discuss our needs with us, and help us choose what works best for us.  In other words, they hired people to navigate the government website for us. 

So I freaked out last week and started studying the materials.  I will still have Medicare, of course, but I still will need a medical supplement, and something for prescriptions, and of course I don't know what I'll do for dental and vision.  (Oddly enough, dental and vision insurance coverage is the ONLY advertising junk mail that hasn't been arriving.)  And if I don't have the prescription thing nailed down by 12/31 and then find out I have to go with Medicare part D, I will have to pay a penalty for the rest of my life.

So, I read all the materials and went to the recommended we-will-help-you website and tried to set up my profile.  Yeah, sure.  It wouldn't accept it because "You must provide a number greater than 0" --- but I had filled in every space, and all numbers were greater than 0, and the site wouldn't tell me where I went wrong. Nothing was flagged.  I tried everything, including starting over from scratch, and after four hours I gave up.

So I called the we-will-help-you folks, the option for people without computer access.  There was only an hour and a half wait.  The woman asked me if I had my Medicare card in hand.  Well, I said no (I can be stupidly honest.  I can't find it, haven't seen it since my hospital stay last January), but I have all the information from the card.  She informed me she couldn't help me until I had the actual card, and, in effect, hung up on me.

I called Social Security and asked for a replacement card, was told ok, we'll mail it, but it will take 4 to 6 weeks to arrive!  No, they can't expedite it.  Yes, if I don't sign up for Part D by 12/31 and it turns out I need it, I will pay the penalty rate every year for the rest of my life.

I freaked out.  Then I remembered that my doctor's office had made a copy of my Medicare card, so I called there, and I now have a copy.  Not the original, but I'm not going to tell anybody that.  Turns out Medicare had screwed up my name slightly on the card, and if I don't use the exact same name nobody can accept it, and I had naively thought they'd used my real name.  (I'm beginning to hate the world.)

So tomorrow, I call again, and try again.

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In the meantime, cash flow is a problem.  I'm waiting for a large check from my investments, but my car insurance and the insurance on the country house were due, so I went to their websites and put those payments on a credit card.

I have only two credit cards, by choice.  Also by choice, one of them has a very high limit, and the other has a very low limit, also by choice.  I use the low limit card for all low-trust online business and anytime anyone wants to walk away with it so that if anyone "steals" it, they can't get much.

Yup.  I screwed up.  I used the low limit card for both, and together they are going to blow the limit, so ONE of them will "bounce", but I don't know which.

I spent several hours today on calls to the insurance companies, the credit card company (I had them transfer cash from one of my checking accounts to the credit card, THEN found out that will take 4 to 6 days!)  So I tried to have the limit raised, but was told I had to go to the issuing bank to have that done.  So, I call the issuing bank.  They need to send me an application to raise the limit, which I have to have notarized and send back.  (I call B.S. on that!  They used to send me letters telling me they'd raised my limit, isn't that wonderful, and then I'd have to call them and say no, I WANT to keep that low.) That's not going to help.

So, one of my insurance policies is in jeopardy, and I don't know which.  I guess when I get the cancellation letter, I'll just call and switch it to the other credit card.

-----------------------------------

On top of all that.............................................

Blah.

Let's just say I've been running flat out for more than a week, I'm tired, I still have to get the van inspected, there's four inches of snow out there, the van is covered in ice, the BMW has ANOTHER tire losing air, and we can expect below freezing temperatures (way below average for this time of the year) for the foreseeable future.  I haven't made it to the country house yet, so I haven't put antifreeze in the toilets and drains yet (I think I did at least leave the water turned off after the last visit), so if the house loses power, well, I don't want to think about it.  Especially if it's that insurance that might get temporarily cancelled.

I am way way behind on correspondence.

I think I'll go to bed now.
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Thursday, December 05, 2013

3807 Kicking

Thursday, December 5, 2013

I'm  hoping to get through the to-do list today, enough of the high priority items that I can head north this evening.

In reference to the previous post, I got the advice of four people.  Three said ignore the woman.  One pointed out that if I restrict communication to email, I am in control and I can decide what information to give her and what to withhold, what to answer and what to ignore.

I decided that she's right.  I am in control.

So I have to do what is natural to me.  When someone extends an olive branch, I can't ignore it and walk away.  That's just not me.  It would bother me forever, and I should know that by now.  Remember - I'm the one who always sent a penny, even though I never got one.

So I did reply to her note.  All I said was that she had written her note entirely on the subject line [and I tried it from Gmail, and yeah, Gmail will allow you to do that without warning] so I don't know what she said; please try again.

That was Tuesday evening.  I have not heard from her, but I doubt she checks her email often.

Now, off to the to-do list.
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Sunday, December 01, 2013

3806 Scary World

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I've been searching the internet for people I hadn't heard from or maybe thought about in ages.  It started out as plain curiosity.  Where are they now?  What are they doing?

Men are easier to find than women, because their names don't much change.

It has become scary.

So far, every man I've been able to locate whom I had ever dated before Jay died --- is dead, with the sole exception of Ex#2.  (And him, I don't understand how he's still alive.)

I'm beginning to feel somehow responsible.

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Things got weird in another area, too.  I have written in the past about a friend from work and also from Mensa.  I'm the first she called when her husband died, and I helped her through all the messy legal and emotional details that entailed.  She was so grateful she said she would put my favorite charities in her will, donations to be made in my name.  I gave her brain tumor research and doctors without borders.  By the way, she is fabulously wealthy.  We're talking original Picassos and Miros on her walls.  She has no family except a grand-niece somewhere.

She'd always been a drinker, and after her husband died she started drinking heavily.  She started calling friends in our group at 3 and 4 am to chat.  You'd explain to her that you were sleeping and had to get up in the morning, so, uh, goodnight, and hang up on her.  She was hard of hearing and tended to talk right over you, so ... the phone would ring again, "We got cut off!"  That would go on and on all night.  If you didn't turn the phone off it began to sound like an alarm clock.

Our friendship ended when she went to a Mensa party that was supposed to start at 7 pm, and showed up already hammered at the hostess' house at 7 am, oops, and then just stayed, drinking the whole time.  At the end of the evening no one wanted her to drive home, but she fought anyone who tried to take her keys and the hostess had had it with her and refused to keep her overnight.  So I volunteered (without her knowledge or permission) to follow her, to make sure she made it home.

I think my being a discreet distance behind her infuriated her, and kept her alert and on the road.

When I got home I found several messages on my machine, and then the phone rang again and it was her.  She was furious that I'd had the nerve to follow her home.  To treat her like she was incapable.  She yelled at me a while, and then hung up.

I don't think she ever went to another Mensa event, and at any rate, never spoke to me again unless it was the wee hours of the morning and she was too drunk to remember she was mad at me.

Then I moved to New Jersey.

About two years ago I got an email from a mutual friend.  He told me that she had asked for my phone number.  She had apparently tried to call the country house and the phone had been disconnected.  He said he figured he should check with me first.  "Is she still calling people in the middle of the night?"  "Yep."  "Thanks for asking first.  No, don't give her my new number.  Tell her you simply don't have it or can't find it."

And that was the end of that.

Well, last week I got to wondering about her.  She's only maybe two years older than I, but she has always been in poor health, has some kind of balance problems and falls a lot even when she'd been sober, and now with the drinking...  So I searched the internet.  She's still alive.  Ok, end of thought.

Until yesterday.

 I got an email from her.

A strange email, to the account I rarely use anymore.  She even sounds sort of sober...

except

...the Subject line says: "Hey, are you still out there?  Let me know.  The reason I am writing (besides just wanting to reconnect) is that some time ago I told you that I wanted..."

The body of the email, the text part, is completely blank.  She apparently wrote the entire note on the subject line, which, of course, got cut.  (Sheesh.  How do you even do that?)

Oh, cripes.

I thought about it most of yesterday and today.  It's ten years since her husband died and she wrote the new will, so I suspect her lawyer has told her it's time to review it, and maybe she wants to check my choice of charities.  I don't know.  I'd have to respond to her to find out what she wants to say.

I am torn.  I feel like the right thing to do is to respond.
BUT I DON'T WANT TO!!!!!!
I do not want to reconnect!
I'd rather she just thought I am lost.
But that's a bad thing to do, to hide from her like that.
It's a moral dilemma.
I do still feel some pity for her --- she's so alone.
She has no interests, no activities, no family.
But I need to protect myself from the suction of her life.

I asked Daughter, who tends to be one of those maddeningly black or white people, and she said I have no obligation to respond.  The woman cut me off a long time ago when I had been perhaps her best friend, and I can leave it at that.  She chose that loss, that path.  My only loss might be some large contributions to charity, maybe, if that's what the note was about.  So I can choose to not respond without guilt.

So, what do you think?
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3805 Train wreck, in more ways than one.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I turn the TV on for only four shows a week these days.  One of them is "Sunday Morning", although I've been disappointed in that show for the past few years.  Lately it's been just celebrity-type stuff, with a hidden sales pitch, rather than what's happening out there in the "real" countryside, like back when it was Charles Kuralt, remember him?  (Joke:   "My home town is so small Charles Kuralt has been there three times!")

Anyway, I was up this morning, turned the TV on, and instead of "Sunday Morning", it was a report on the Metro North train derailment.  Four dead so far, but so many are in critical condition I think unfortunately that number will rise.  I haven't heard yet how many people in total were on the train.  It had left Poughkeepsie (that's pronounced P-kip'-see by the natives, Po-kip'-see by newcomers, abbreviated "Pok") just before 6 am, due to arrive at Grand Central a bit before 8 am, so it wouldn't have been crowded - likely mostly people who work in the city, maybe some returning from the holiday.  There are a lot of commuters from the Pok area since the mass exodus from Manhattan after 9/11.  I'm sure some work on Sundays.

Story:  http://mashable.com/2013/12/01/new-york-train-derailment/?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=rss#_

I am familiar with that train route.  That's the line I took from the country house on the few occasions I ventured into the city.  It runs alongside the east bank of the Hudson, and is quite scenic.

Amtrak trains running between Albany and NYC stop in Rhinecliff, and that's actually much closer to the house, only a few minutes drive.  But an Amtrak ticket is a small fortune, the trains go to Penn Station, the local station is manned only a few hours on weekdays, and there's no real parking lot in the tiny village of Rhinecliff.  You have to compete for parking along the river.  So I would drive the 40 minutes south to Pok where there are huge parking lots and a well-manned station, and take a Metro North train, which was a LOT cheaper and goes to Grand Central.  Metro North cars are the same trains that serve inside the city - some are actual subway trains.  Pok is the northern-most terminus of the NYC subway system.  Weird, huh?

Since so many people moved north after 9/11, there's been a lot of noise about extending Metro North up to Rhinecliff, but I doubt that will ever happen. 

Anyway - the point, finally.

Because Pok is the end of the line, they USED to have an engine at the north end of the train to pull it north, AND an engine at the south end to pull it south.  Then someone came up with a brilliant cost-saving idea.  They now have one engine, on the north end, which pulls it north, and PUSHES it south.

Pushes.

Any child knows that if you link some wagons together and pull them, they follow, and if one somehow goes off the path, it might pull others out of line, but they aren't going to jam up (well, from momentum, but that's all the energy in the jam).  But if you try to push them, if one goes off the path, the following ones will jam up and push even more off the path because of the energy coming from behind, and likely spill the contents.  Violently.

I hope Metro North saved a zillion dollars with that idiotic idea, because those passengers ought to sue the pants off them.

And I'm not an advocate of lawsuits for every little thing.

---------------------------------------

On the TV, there was a reporter talking from "near" the scene.  She startled me at first by reporting that "five of the seven trains" derailed.   Five trains!  Good Grief!  How does that happen!?  "One train almost went into the river".  "Several trains were on their sides".  And so on.

As she went on over the next half hour, it dawned on me that she was calling the passenger CARS "trains".  Does she not know what a "train", a series of linked things, in this case passenger cars, is?

There had to be people around her.  Why did no one correct her?  It got to the point that I was yelling at the TV, wanted to reach through the screen and personally strangle her.

I guess someone finally clued her in, because she started talking about cars.
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Monday, November 25, 2013

3804 Google wants your DNA, too?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Remember when I wondered if Google was getting too big, and too inquisitive?  

Now, does Google want your DNA?  Do you realize how much that test would cost if it weren't subsidized?  Why would anyone want to subsidize it?

I don't like the answer.
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3803 I never got my penny

Monday, November 25, 2013

There's a huge world-wide Secret Santa network being set up through Reddit:  http://redditgifts.com/about/.

I guess I'm a cynic, because I don't believe it at all.  I don't believe the numbers of people, I don't believe the numbers of countries, and I especially don't believe that everyone will actually send decent gifts.  I do, however, believe that this is one heck of an idea for gathering names and addresses, AND interests!  Google ain't got nuttin on Reddit!

Back in the olden days of pen pals and love letters, there was something called a chain letter.  You'd get a letter with a list of the names and addresses of five people.  You were to send some token, like a penny or a postcard to the top name on the list, then make five copies of the letter with the top name/address removed and your name and address added to the bottom, and send it to five new people.  In theory, each person would receive over 3,000 pennies.

I always always always sent a penny to the top name.  Always.  And since I had no allowance and felt so poor, I made ten copies of the letter (handwritten, of course, we're talking about the late '50s) and used my mother's stamps to mail them, hoping that I would get over 6,000 pennies back.

I never got a single penny or postcard.  Never.  Not one.  No one I ever asked ever got a penny.  The only people in the entire world who ever got a penny were, apparently, the ones I sent pennies to.

Way to feel like a patsy.  Maybe this is what contributes to my cynicism.

...and then there were the kids who bragged that they didn't add their name to the end - they jumped the line and added themselves to the top, so they'd get pennies sooner.  They didn't see the hole in that, no matter how many times I tried to explain it.
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Sunday, November 24, 2013

3802 Toe

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I've done something to my toe.

There's a raised marble threshold at the bathroom door, and yesterday morning, walking into the bathroom in bare feet, I stubbed my index/second toe on my left foot on the marble.  The kind of stub where the toe folds under itself.

It hurt really badly.  I said some naughty words.  But then after a few minutes it stopped hurting.  I fiddled with it and it didn't seem broken or anything serious.

By late afternoon there was a red bar across the toe a bit above the base of the toenail, at that last joint.  But it didn't hurt at all and there was no swelling. 

Flashes of brief but intense pain woke me this morning.

It's driving me crazy now.  NOT because of the pain - there isn't any pain unless I move it a certain way.  The crazifying thing is that I can't figure out what that certain way IS, so I can stop moving it that way.

 I can tweak it with my fingers, I can bend it up, bend it down, use it to grip and lift the front of the sandals, everything, with no pain.  As long as I'm sitting there's no pain.  But I can't walk without random electric shocks and sudden hit-my-toe-with-a-hammer surprises. (My kitchen is three yelps wide.)  I'm not worried about it, just annoyed that I can't figure out what not to do, to keep it from biting me and let it heal.

Phooey.

Well, I don't think I would have been going anywhere today anyway.  It's 26 degrees F out there, and very windy.
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Friday, November 22, 2013

3801 Soup eats?

Friday, November 22, 2013

I opened a can of soup, Campbell's, for lunch today.  On the label were the words "Soup that eats like a meal".

My first thought was, "Soup doesn't eat!"

My second thought was, "Neither does a meal.  So I guess that's true."

My head hurts.
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Thursday, November 21, 2013

3800 Jasper and the calendar

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Jasper gets dry cat food all week.  I try to buy food for him that's urinary tract friendly.  I don't especially like the idea of feeding him dry food, but I think it's better for his teeth.  Of course mice, chipmunks, and birds would be better for him all around, crunching the bones is the best thing for his teeth, but he has to kill them himself or he doesn't recognize it as food.

That's weird - that he does recognize unmoving kibbles in a bowl as food, but does not recognize a dead bird (a raw chicken wing, for example) as food.  Especially weird since he was living on his own, feral, when I caught him.  On the other hand, his "hunting" back then consisted of being cute in the parking lot of a long-term hotel, his prey being luncheon meat and cheese caged from lonely businessmen.

He gets canned food on Sunday mornings.  Sunday treat.  The little Fancy Feast fish flavors.

What amazes me is that he always knows when it's Sunday.

Back when I was working and had to be up by a certain time every day, my cat companion would always wake me at that time.  Very handy if I'd forgotten to set the alarm or something.  I haven't been working since long before I got Jasper, so he doesn't wake me.  When I finally do get up, he follows me around until I go downstairs, then he politely reminds me that it's time to feed him, and doesn't mind waiting a bit, because there are always crumbs left in the bowl anyway.

Except on Sundays.  On Sunday mornings when we get downstairs he wraps himself around my legs, and yells loudly NOW! NOW! NOW! (his meows sound just like that) and frantically leads and pushes me to the cabinet, cutting off my attempts to escape, until there's Fancy Feast in the bowl.

How does he know it's Sunday?  There are no churches near here, no bells.  No neighbors loading up the car to go to church.  I'm normally up by 7 or 8 am, so I'd notice. There's nothing different from Saturday.

Ahah!  I thought two weeks ago that I had figured it out.  I watch "Sunday Morning" on CBS at 9 am, so on Sunday I turn the TV on as soon as I go downstairs.  Sunday is the only day I turn the TV on in the morning.  That's his clue!

Last Sunday I slept in. I've been sleeping late a lot lately, since my doctor put me on a powerful decongestant for my sinuses.  Sunday, I didn't wake until after 10, and then only because he was jumping on my legs and yelling NOW! NOW! NOW!  I thought the freakin' house was on fire!

He never wakes me.  How did he know it was Sunday?
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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

3799 Blowing my nose

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Heard on BBC radio, in reference to attacks on women in India: "Each attack is more brutal than the next."  Um, doesn't that mean the attacks are decreasing in brutality?

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"The government didn't violate a convicted terrorist's constitutional right to a speedy trial when it detained him for five years at Guantanamo Bay before trying him in court, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday" [not this past Thursday].  Details here.  Basically, a federal court ruled that his right to a speedy trial was not abridged by his having been held at Guantanamo for more than five years without charges, during which time he was subjected to "enhanced interrogation techniques".  From the WSJ Law Blog, "The circuit court agreed with a lower-court judge that the government’s decision to delay prosecution so it could extract valuable intelligence on al Qaeda was reasonable."

Let me get this straight.  The court said that a speedy trial does not trump national security, so it's ok to keep this guy for five years of intense interrogation because he's a terrorist, BEFORE a trial to determine if he's a terrorist.  In other words, if the authorities think you're guilty then you're guilty.  He was convicted right off the bat, with no hearing and no lawyer, without a trial, by his captors. And this is ok?

I don't know about you, but that's scary, and even scarier that a federal court said it was ok.  What if that kind of thinking spreads to other federal or state agencies?

Actually, it has been going on for a long time.  If you are arrested on on drug dealing charges, or even if you are only suspected of illegality, the state/feds can confiscate practically everything you own and sell it, and keep the money, BEFORE your criminal  trial.  If it turns out you are not guilty, you don't just get your stuff back.  It's a long expensive legal battle you can't afford and are unlikely to win.  Too bad, so sad.  Your property is long gone, you had been "convicted" and fined on mere suspicion.  Look up "asset forfeiture" on Wikipedia.

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Ever wonder whence the expression "short shrift", meaning you were shrugged off quickly and not taken seriously?  Not being Catholic, I didn't know that shrift is confession to a priest and the penance and absolution that follow.  So if you were given short shrift, either your sins were minor, or you got a brushoff.  Simple.  Wow.

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Google wants to scan and digitize millions of books, the entire book, from research libraries as grist for their search mill.  They'd already processed gazillions of books when publishers and authors' guild(s) protested that it was copyright infringement.  It's significant that research libraries buy the books, and don't make money on them.  Google has not purchased the books, and will make money on them through advertising on search results pages.  Fair use?  Not?  I say no, get permission, but I'm not the judge.

If you're interested, the story's at http://mashable.com/2013/09/24/google-books-lawsuit/.

---------------------------------------------

I'm thinking Google is getting too big.  They provide an lot of very expensive services for free (think of Google maps - how much must THAT cost?) and supposedly they get income from advertising, but, uh, when's the last time you were very aware of Google advertising?  They are gradually taking over the internet, and then tying it all together (Blogger, Gmail, Chrome, you can't have a YouTube account anymore unless you also have a Google+ account, etc.) and they are asking for a LOT of information through those accounts and gathering more information from your activities on those accounts.

Advertising isn't paying for everything Google is doing, I guarantee that.  Not even selling top ranking in search results.  I am very suspicious.  

Pretty soon for every house on those Google maps, they will have the names, ages, details, photos, interests, purchasing habits and preferences of all the occupants.

Who is funding all this, and what is the ultimate purpose?
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Sunday, November 17, 2013

3798 Little Drummer Girl

Sunday, November 17, 2013

This is Nugget playing the bowl drums.  The first selection (13 seconds) is from earlier in the week when it was just the two of us.  It's short because the battery in my camera suddenly died (no warning!). 

video


The second (26 seconds) was a few days later when her daddy was watching, too, and she seems a lot more restrained.

video

It was windy outside, and the wind sometimes catches the flap over the dryer vent and makes a banging noise.  At the end of the clip, the flap banged and startled her, and she jumped up and ran for her daddy's legs.

[I don't understand why the Youtube logo is on the lower right.  If you click on that, you don't get these videos. Blogger did that all by themselves, and these videos are not on Youtube.  I don't understand.]
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3797 Halloween Haul

Sunday, November 17, 2013

I forgot to mention what I gave out for Halloween this year.  I wanted to do it up well because the kids missed Halloween last year because of the hurricane.  I'm still reluctant to give out candy, but I discovered the A&P had boxes of small packages of nice name-brand cookies for a very reasonable price.  So I got those.  I also bought these on Amazon:

LED Finger lights (they're like little flashlights):
and Flashing gel LED rings:
I got them much cheaper than these specific linked ones because I bought them in higher quantity, and they were on sale for Halloween.  There's a lot of folks selling them on Amazon, at a lot of different per-piece prices.

video


I sat on the porch all evening, so nobody had to ring the bell and freak out Jasper.  The first fifty kids got a package of cookies and a ring (girls) or a finger light (boys).  After I ran out of cookies (I did reserve some for little bitty kids who shouldn't get things-to-put-in-mouth-and-choke-and-lead-parents-to-sue), girls got a ring and boys got 2 finger lights.  Plus I located the packs of cider powder from last year's non-Halloween, and everyone got one of them, too (just to get RID of them!)

My house was the most popular that night.  There were flashing and glowing lights up and down the street, and as other kids on other streets saw them, they got directed here, too ("the house on x street with the wide porch").  I had asked the neighbors how many kids to expect, and was told "between 50 and 60, usually".  I and my neighbors got at least 120 visitors.  Some neighbors were annoyed at me for attracting so many kids. Others, parents themselves, thought the lights were a great idea - made the kids very visible.

The Nugget, well, that was a bit of a sad story.  At first the activity on the street kind of frightened her and she didn't want to go out at all.  Hercules had bought her a dinosaur rider costume for last year's non-Halloween, and he decided that she should wear it this year.
Nugget flatly refused to put it on.

She refused to go outside at all.

Daughter finally convinced her to go over to a playmate's house on the next street over, and carry the costume to show her.  That was ok. 

So Nugget ended up going trick-or-treating with her little friend, to a few houses on the playmate's street, carrying the costume.  If you asked, she was a "dinosaur tamer".

I didn't get to see her that evening until she was all done and came to show me her haul.
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

3796 I am just unreasonable, I guess

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Well, we're coming up on the fiftieth anniversary of the JFK assassination, and there are all kinds of shows and articles now on JFK.

The worship and adulation annoy me.

I'll tell you a secret.

Well, first I need to point out that I very rarely hate anyone.  There are people that annoy me, people who stress me, people that I do feel anger toward, people whom I don't want to deal with, but I can't say I hate.  I tend to play devil's advocate a lot.  I try to understand where they're coming from, why they are as they are.  Live and let live kind of thing.  I don't like them, maybe I even actively dislike them, but I don't hate them.

The only living person I can say I truly hate is Dick Cheney.   In my opinion, that man is pure evil, and the evil goes back a long long time.  There are many many reasons for my hate.  It's absolutely defensible.  There is no redeeming or excusing him.

The only other person alive during my lifetime that I can say I have hated is JFK.

I have no idea why.  I really don't.

From the very first time I saw JFK on TV, I hated him.  He struck me as fake, privileged, conceited, entitled, blah blah blah, whatever. It used to drive me crazy when other women swooned over "how handsome" he was.  I never "got" that.  I found him to be actively wimpy, even ugly. His hairstyle verged on the jellyroll favored by the local hoods.   His eyes were too close together and seemed dead to me.  Worse, his marriage seemed fake, a marriage of social and political expediency on both sides.  There didn't seem to be any love there.  It seemed like everything about him was an act.

Ok, that's enough to dislike him, but my feelings went beyond dislike.  For me it spilled over into active hate.  I hated him. Still do. 

Now, of course, I can point to various revelations and say, "See? I was right."  But that's hindsight, might rise to the level of dislike, not hate, and can't be used to justify my initial hate.  And you can point to all the wonderful things accomplished, but they're not enough to change my feelings. 

I don't understand.  I don't know why I would put Dick Cheney and JFK on the same level, but I do.

(Oddly, his brothers had many of the same characteristics, but I didn't even dislike, let alone hate, them.  They were sort of ok, even though they used to dragoon high school girls for ski lodge parties.  Yeah, I have personal knowledge of that.  Somewhere in the distant past in this blog I talked about that.)
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

3795 Piss me off!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Many years ago I reserved "(MyName).com" through NetworkSolutions.com, just in case I ever wanted a website for whatever purpose.  It's just a few dollars a year to keep it, since I don't need a host yet, but if I ever decide to use it, it's there.

Warning:  Don't go there!!!!!!  Not for a while, anyway.  I'll explain in a minute.

I have been getting emails since the first week of August at the rate of about one a week from Network Solutions reminding me that my reservation of (MyName) will expire soon and it's time to renew.  Fine.  I intend to renew.  However, it doesn't expire until June 23, 2014!  Sheesh, folks.  Alright already!  I'll renew in May, when I get the calendar reminder to renew, but not before then!

Network Solutions makes a few bucks by letting third parties advertise on my "under construction" page.  Over the years it's been mostly legitimate fabric sellers, sari sellers, drum and instrument shops, stuff like that, which I didn't mind.

All these emails prompted me to take a look to see who's advertising there now.

Horrors!

It's dating sites, and NOT nice ones, either.

I have WOT (Web of Trust) installed on my system, and it went crazy.  WOT tells you if a link is dangerous, if there's a possibility of viruses, spam, other nasty stuff, based on the comments of others who had gone there.  (MyName) is apparently ok, WOT allowed the site to load, but the links on the page are NASTY!

Worse, if your cursor even passes over some of those links, without even a click, it looks like the link is taken, and some of those sites set off WOT.  There may be dragons there!

Holy Crap!  I don't want (MyName) to get that reputation!


This is majorly scary.

There is a way to change the construction page, and I'm going to have to do that, but it'll take some figuring out.  And it might cost more.

Sigh.

Shut up, Network Solutions.  The renewal reminders were ticking me off, but this whoring out (almost literally!) of (MyName), heretofore a sweet little lady, takes the cake.

--------------------------------------------

I highly recommend WOT.  It's free.  http://www.mywot.com/ 
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Monday, November 11, 2013

3794 To blog or not to blog

Monday, October 11, 2013

More and more bloggers seem to be thinking of quitting, two just this morning, several have disappeared over the past year.  Many have moved to Facebook or Twitter or whatever, but although that's a way to keep in touch with friends and family in a "I did this, then I did this" way, it's not the same as bogging in that blogging requires thought and introspection.   Well, maybe not always, but often enough.   

I have found that writing (blogging) clarifies my thinking. I'm forced to put my thoughts to the test of logic. "Does this make sense?" Sometimes the thinking doesn't make it into the blog, but the thinking wouldn't have happened without the blog.

Blogging has allowed me to look at things that have happened in a less emotional way, to look at things from several viewpoints, so I'm better able to come to terms with it.  Blogging got me out of the hole I'd fallen into after Jay died.

Sometimes I have a strong reaction to some news.  If I decide to comment on it in my blog, I have to do some research first, like finding the best link about it, some details, and sometimes along the way I discover that my first impression was entirely wrong.

Blog for yourself, not for others. When anyone says they have nothing more to say, they really mean they don't think others want to hear/read it, but they themselves actually have plenty to mull. And even only one or two lurking readers can keep you honest with yourself.
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Thursday, November 07, 2013

3793 Buy American! Um, how?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

If you prefer to buy American-made products, read the linked article.
Especially if you prefer Apple products, read the linked article.

http://mashable.com/2013/11/07/trapped-in-apple-supply-chain/?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=rss

Don't stop reading before you get to the story of Dhong.

And yes it's possibly, maybe even probably, true of every other "American manufacturer" to some degree.

It's not so much the simple taking advantage of that gets me.  It's the taking of enormous profits on the ruined lives of others.  How much of the price of that iPhone is manufacturing cost?  How much is sheer profit?  At what cost?

There "outta be a law" !
.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

3792 What happened to Bill?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I saw this picture of Bill Gates the other day:
(From http://mashable.com/2013/11/04/bill-gates-interview-human-health/)

The photo confused me.  He's younger than I am, a lot younger, but he looks ten years older.  His skin looks like he's spent every waking moment out in the sun, without sunblock, and we know that's highly unlikely.  There's something wrong.

So I asked Google.

Nothing definitive or verifiable, nothing from reliable sites, just unverified rumors of Parkinson's Disease.  Whatever.  But I'm sure there's something going on with him.  Can it be just stress?

Wandering around what turned up for "Parkinson" with various other search arguments, I am surprised at how many people in public life have Parkinson's.

Ten years ago it was brain tumors.

Almost like ... a fashion, or something.  Strange.
.

Monday, November 04, 2013

3791 Beware of strangling sheets

Monday, November 4, 2013

We are doomed.  Last night on "60 Minutes", Leslie Stahl (I think that's who is was) actually said in reference to the Guantanamo trials, "one obstacle after the next".  I was horrified.

-----------------------------------

If you ever see an ad for "1800 thread count microfiber sheet sets", usually mentioning Egyptian comfort in the text, DON'T BUY THEM!

I bought two sets maybe five years ago, when they first came out, at a booth at a county fair, for just about $49 a set. The product name was "1800 Thread Count Egyptian Comfort Sheet Sets".  The label said, "Enjoy the softness of Egyptian cotton", in large type. In smaller type it said "microfiber".  I stupidly thought that meant they were Egyptian cotton.  Egyptian cotton has exceptionally long fibers, so it is possible to spin it into finer threads, and I thought that's what the "microfiber" meant - very fine cotton thread - and that's how 1800 count was possible.  (Remember, this was before microfiber dusting cloths were so common.)

Not true.  Nowhere near cotton. They're a synthetic fiber. 

The damn sheets don't really fit any mattress.  Technically, they fit, the corners meet, but they don't stay taut.  The bottom sheet gets baggy in the middle of the bed because the sides won't stay tucked under the mattress, making folds and slippery patches, badly enough that when you move your legs, the sheets can, like, wrap your legs.  When you turn, the top sheet wants to tangle around you, too.  Unlike real cotton, they don't have enough body to behave.

The only good part is the pillow cases.  They can be good for your hair style, but they won't stay on the pillows.  You have to pin the opening closed or the pillow escapes.

The people selling this crap imply that you'd pay up to $300 for sheets of this quality in a major department store.  Bull poopy.  No legitimate store will sell them, and nobody anywhere sells them for more than $39, usually between $20 and $30.  Perhaps they figure nobody will sue as long as the price is ridiculously, embarrassingly, low.

See this online retailer:  http://www.egyptianbedsheetsets.com/bed-sheets.asp
Note that NOWHERE do they say anything about synthetic fibers.  These folks don't even mention the word "microfiber".  You are purposely led to expect cotton, even though they don't actually say what they're made of.

BEWARE!
.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

3790 Three kinds of sleeping men

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I was lying in bed this morning, snuggled under the blankets with Jasper curled against the back of my knees, and I was thinking about which side of the bed I choose to sleep on.  I start on the left**, often roll over to the right during the night, then back to the left by morning.  I guess it's because the table with the clock and my eyeglasses is on the left.  At the country house, I sleep on the right, and pretty much stay there.

In my experience with sleeping with men (and I have a lot more experience than you'd even guess), I've found they seem to fall into three groups.

The first two groups don't consistently prefer one side over another.  Their choice is based on the layout of the room, and in that they are consistent.

1.  Some insist on sleeping on the side of the bed nearest the door.  If you ask, that's what they say, that they want to be nearest the door. Even if you're sleeping in a strange place, like a hotel, they want to be nearest the door.  Which side they sleep on changes with the room.  I think of them as "The Protectors".  These men also tend to walk toward the outside on sidewalks, and insist on opening doors for ladies.

2.  Some want the side of the bed nearest the bathroom, and if you ask, that's what they say.  The bathroom.  I think of them as "The Piddlers".   These guys tend to be a little  bit self-absorbed and stingy.

3.  Then there's the guys who always sleep on one particular side.  If you ask, they say that they always sleep on the left (or right), with raised eyebrows, like "Duh?  Is there any other possibility?"  Mostly you don't have to ask.  They simply state it as fact, no discussion allowed.  I think it probably has to do with which side of their body they sleep on, and want to be facing out, or in, and know exactly where the edge is.  These are "The Rigids".  They like things a certain way, seldom break routine.

Of course this is just my experience, and some men are combinations or exceptions.  The Man, for example, always sleeps on "his side" of the bed and is pretty Rigid in his habits (well, very rigid) and often his thinking, but in all else he is a Protector.

Do you prefer a particular side?  Why?

--------------------------------------

**I'm never quite sure what people mean when they say "right" or "left" in reference to a bed.  Is it as when you lie on your back on the bed?  Or when you stand at the foot facing the head?

Seems to me that since the bed has a head and a foot, it would have a right hand and a left, so it would be like lying on the bed on your back.  But The Man uses the opposite, and we all know he's never wrong.
 
It doesn't  much matter what's correct, since the person speaking is not necessarily using it that way.

Later - We don't seem to have this problem with chairs.  "Put the table to the right of the chair" means to your right, not the chair's right, and most people understand that.  Oh, Good Grief!  Does that mean The Man is right again!?
.
.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

3789 Missing the target

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

There's this thing I'm seeing more and more of, where someone is keeping track of everything you look at online, and then selling that information to advertisers, who then focus on your "interests" for those ads over there on the margins.  Targeted advertising.

Hey, folks, you're doing it wrong!

Like Amazon keeps track of what I've looked at or bought, and then makes suggestions, "just for me".  Only what they show me are things I've already looked at or already bought!  That makes no sense.  I already have it, or I've already rejected it.

When I buy something on eBay, I get a message that "People who bought [what I just bought] also bought [pictures of of similar items]".  Well, a couple of problems there:
1. There are NO other people who bought what I just bought.  I bought the only one.  You lie!
2. If other people bought these other things, they're already sold.  What help is that to me?

If I search for toy ovens, for days afterward I am inundated with ads for toy ovens.  Hey, I just bought one!

I have to draw on my eyebrows, and they frequently disappear within an hour, so the other day I searched for and bought a blond eyebrow pencil (actually a liquid with a fine brush to draw "hairs" with) that is guaranteed to last all day.  I bought it from a particular beauty supply outlet.  Now my margins are filled with ads from that outlet, not ads for any of their other products, but ads for the very same pencil I already bought.  Duh?

Targeted advertising is crap.  It's been poorly implemented by people who don't have enough brains to understand that people don't want to look at things they've already looked at.  It's being signed up for and paid for by retailers who are no smarter.

Maybe people might be interested in things related to things they've looked at? 

Like after I had looked at covers for the a/c units, maybe instead of throwing more a/c covers at me, you should suggest patio furniture or grill covers.  After I bought one John Smith book, instead of suggesting I buy that book again, maybe you could suggest other books by the same author, or a different author in the same genre.  After I bought the toy oven, maybe you could suggest other toys in the same age range.

I am especially disturbed by Gmail's scanning my emails for keywords.  I mentioned to a friend recently that I had gotten chubby since last we met (Yeah, I've gone from the size 6 and S I wore three years ago to 10 and 12 and M, and at my height, that's really chubby), just that one line, and suddenly my sidebar on Gmail is full of ads for shops specializing in foundations and those sizes with the Xs in them (which I can't wear no matter how big I get because the proportions are off for my height, the shoulder seams reach to my elbows).

One of these days I'd love to write an email full of exciting keywords just to see what happens - but I don't want to draw the attention of the NSA.
.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

3788 I don't get some people's taste

Sunday, October 27, 2013

There's a bunch of women discussing the attractiveness of a Scotsman on "Cute Overload", here.

As one woman said, he's "a little long in the tooth, and portly to boot, but a full head of hair, nice smile, lovely accent", but still a candidate for the "Men of" calendar.

Yeah, I wouldn't mind meeting him.  He has potential.  And my taste in men runs to dark hair and eyes.

Then the commenters suggest who he reminds them of.  One woman suggested Mr. Bates from “Downton Abby”, and others agreed. Many women have found Mr. Bates attractive, including me.  (He's the one who went to jail on bogus charges.  I'm unsure how much of Mr. Bates' attractiveness has to do with his appearance, and how much is the character's personality and our sympathy for his situation.)

Anyway, a few other women suggested who he looks like, and here's where I lost the connection. 

Um, Benny Hill?
Johnathan Winters?
Uh, yeah, they all have squarish faces, and hair, and the proper number of eyes and noses, but the level of attractiveness is way off.  Not even close!  In fact, I have to wonder about any woman who finds either of those two attractive.

Hmmmmm.

I guess it's good that different women (and men) see and are attracted to different things.  Otherwise a lot of us would never find a mate.
.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

3787 My widgets

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Today I learned how to take a screenshot.  Windows 8 makes it really easy.  There's my new widgets over there on the right.




















It's 52 and raining here, and 47 and cloudy at the other house.

I don't need or want the bottom half of the calendar, with the big 23, but I haven't figured out yet how to get rid of it.

--------------------------------------

Later - Phooey.  It's overlaying text on the right Blogger screen, so it's hard to read.  Any smaller, and it would still be hard to read, but for a different reason.  Tough.  If you click on the screenshot, it should get clearer....
.

3786 Widget wacky

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

On my old Vista, I had "widgets" on the sidebar.  A nice big analog clock, a calendar showing the whole month, gauges showing CPU and storage utilization, and two weather doohickies showing the temperature and conditions for both houses.

I loved them.  Glanced at them all the time.

Microsoft got rid of them in Windows 8, ostensibly because they presented a security threat, but the forum consensus is that Microsoft wanted people to use those stupid cluttering apps.  The ones you can't see when you're on the desktop.

So, I searched, and found several free widget programs.  Again, the consensus is that the best and safest is from http://8gadgetpack.net/.

Installation was quick and easy.  I got everything I needed, including two small weather gadgets, the ones that show temperature and atmospheric conditions.

Then I clicked on "options" to set the weather gadgets to my locales.  The one for the city house was easy.

The country house was weird.

I asked it to search for Red Hook, NY, 12571 (that's a village upstate, near Rhinebeck, not the old dock area of Brooklyn, and what I had been using on Vista as being close to the country house).

It told me it couldn't find a weather station for Red Hook, but offered me Slingerlands as the closest.  Slingerlands is way the heck up by Albany.  Duh?  Not even close!

So I shrugged and asked for Milan, NY, which is close and is in the same zip code as Red Hook, and has an airport, so I know there's a weather station there.

It said it couldn't find Milan, but offered me Red Hook as the closest.  Duh?

I don't understand.

But at any rate, my widgets are all set up, and I'm happy.
.

3785 Notice for all pet owners

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

If you have a dog or cat, and give them jerky treats, please read this:

http://news.yahoo.com/fda-seeks-pet-owner-help-dangerous-jerky-treats-120212167--politics.html

Mysterious illnesses and deaths.  FDA is gathering info in an effort to identify the problem.
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Sunday, October 20, 2013

3784 Dago

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Well, this is the first post in years without the leading green quote.  I still haven't solved the problem of how to get to my ".wps" documents.  No big deal.  Eventually I will.

------------------------------------

There's a food truck in the Albany/Schenectady area named "The Wandering Dago".  New York State had no problem approving the business name, but now someone in the government has decided the name is offensive, and the truck has been banned from places under state control, like the Empire State Plaza in Albany and the Saratoga race track.

The truck owners and operators happen to be Italian.  They like the name. They not only like it, they're proud of it, and by serving great food, they feel they are saying exactly that. They can call themselves Dagos if they want, right?  They've gone to court, claiming their first amendment rights have been abridged by the state.

I've been idly following the story for a while.  There's no resolution yet, but it doesn't look good for the wandering Dagos.  The judge's name is D'Agostino.  Catch the first four letters.

------------------------------------

This brings up something that generally bugs me - the tendency to much wider interpretation of the Constitution than the framers ever intended. 

The first amendment was meant to permit citizens to criticize the government without reprisal.  Period.

It was not intended to allow anyone to say, write, wear, do, display any insulting, profane, irreverent, impious, disrespectful, sacrilegious, obscene, blasphemous, indecent, foul, vulgar, crude, filthy, dirty, smutty, coarse, rude, offensive, indecorous, just plain nasty thing to anyone else, anywhere, any time. Which is how most people want to interpret it. 

Neither is it the function of government to protect people from being insulted or offended.

So I don't think the state has the right to ban the Wandering Dago truck from tax-supported public areas just because some people are offended.  I also don't think the owners have a right to the name guaranteed by the first amendment.  The first amendment has nothing to do with it. 

No, I don't know what the solution is.

The whole issue is annoying.

Now, if this were Europe....
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Saturday, October 19, 2013

3783 Snubbed by Google

Saturday, October 19, 2013

" ... the use of our intelligence quite properly gives us pleasure. In this respect the brain is like a muscle. When we think well, we feel good. Understanding is a kind of ecstasy."
--Carl Sagan:--

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

When you have some wait-time, visit this site:  http://9-eyes.com/.  The name comes from the fact that Google's street camera has nine "eyes".   Jon Rafman has collected images from Google map street views, from all over the world.  Some are beautiful, some are interesting or unusual, some are disturbing.  [There's one I can't look at.  It's the fifteenth photo, the one right after the one with three kids carrying speakers past a slummy apartment building.  You might want to unfocus your eyes and skim quickly past the 15th.  I wish I could eliminate that one.]

Whoever collected the views seems to like "working girls".  There's a lot of police action, a few accidents (one seems to be fatal), some tourist sights, some shots that appear to have been taken in a large aquarium, and lots of exotic scenery.

This site, http://mashable.com/2013/10/18/google-street-view-invasive-species/, about using Google street view to track  invasive species, mentions that there are views of Antarctica, the Galapagos, the Amazon, Mount Everest's base camp and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, including links.

Now, here's my problem.  If you go to those links, you see one-lane roads through forest, dirt roads through prairies,  barely discernable tracks through deserts, streets in obviously dangerous parts of cities, streets covered, literally, in garbage.  Streets where there's nothing, for miles and miles.  Even places where there are no roads at all.

Do you see my street?

NO!

One day a few weeks ago I was at the stop sign at the end of my street when the Google camera car went past, right in front of me on the cross street.  Did it go down my street?

NO!

I  am insulted.
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Friday, October 18, 2013

3782 Catchy little tune

Friday, October 18, 2013

The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words.
If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use them.
--Philip K. Dick--

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



 From an NPR article:
In November 1972, Italian pop star Adriano Celentano released a song that hit No. 1 in his home country, despite the fact that it wasn't performed in Italian.

It also wasn't performed in English.

In fact, it wasn't performed in any language at all.

The song, called "Prisencolinensinainciusol," was written to mimic the way English sounds to non-English speakers.
From "Now I Know" (a great place to visit, by the way): [A better link for the same place: http://nowiknow.com/archives/]
Despite the fact that the words aren't actual words, the song was incredibly popular in Italy and in other parts of Europe, cracking the top 10 on the Italian, Belgian, French, and Dutch charts (peaking at #1 overall in Italy) and hitting number 46 in Germany. Perhaps the listeners didn't know that the words were made up. Perhaps they didn't care. The song was catchy, regardless, and as any American non-Korean speaker can testify (think Gangnam Style), sometimes the "words" don't matter all that much.
...
Bonus fact: In 1963, a group named the Kingsmen covered the song "Louie Louie," originally recorded by Richard Berry eight years prior. The Kingsmen's version is a classic and you've almost certainly heard it (but if not, here you go) and likely can sing the whole thing -- kind of. You probably have no idea what the actual words are because they're a garbled mess which is impossible to understand. But that didn't stop an angry parent from writing to then-U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and insisting that the lyrics were obscene. For some reason, this lead to an FBI investigation (!) which concluded, no, the lyrics are just unintelligible. The FBI was right, but they missed something. At about 0:53 into the song, Lynn Easton, the band's drummer, dropped a drumstick and yelled out the f-word. It's audible (but not obvious) in the recording (which if you didn't click to listen to before, you probably will now).

Wikipedia puts it a bit more humorously:  " In June 1965, the FBI laboratory obtained a copy of the Kingsmen recording and, after four months of investigation, concluded that the recording could not be interpreted, that it was "unintelligible at any speed".

----------------------------------------

Back in maybe the late 60s or early 70s there was a Japanese song that was very popular, all in Japanese, and no one knew what it was about.  I heard it on the radio constantly, and I can hum the tune now, but I never learned the name.  It was one of my favorite songs ever, and I may never find it again.

Anyone know what it might be?

Later - The Queen  nailed it in the comments! I had the years wrong, but she still got it.  It's "Sukiyaki", by Kyu Sakamoto, on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zpOc9n7dlI.  Same version with Japanese and English subtitles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C35DrtPlUbc.  I was almost afraid to see the translation, afraid the real words would spoil the song, but they didn't.  The English is pretty, too.  Sad, but pretty.

(Note that there are a few English covers of the song, but they changed the lyrics entirely.  Same tune, but NOT THE SAME SONG AT ALL!)
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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

3781 Getting up to speed.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Naturally, the common people don't want war, but after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.
--Hermann Goering--

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Later last night I installed GMarks on the new laptop, and all my 2,375,984+ bookmarks were there!   But, in looking for the code to download, I came across some disturbing forum discussions - it seems that the guy who wrote it hasn't been maintaining it, and Google has changed some interfaces, and although GMarks SAYS it bookmarked a site, and the bookmark is there when you look, the next time you start up it may or may not be there anymore.  Uh oh.

In the meantime I figured out how to make folders on the Firefox bookmark toolbar, and put some of the most important there, so maybe I'll just slowly transition to that.

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I also discovered that my favorite online shopping site - the rather expensive boutique with a great online outlet, with nice sales, who gives me discounts and free shipping because I'm a favored shopper, and most importantly whose sizing runs pretty much the same across all items - yeah, that place - the place where with outlet, discounts, sales, and specials I have actually received a box containing seven items with original tags totaling over $400.00, for a total cost to me of $5, which led me to ask how the heck they are staying in business - well, they may not stay in business.  They are in big trouble.

Actually, I'm not surprised.  Not because of the deals, but because the quality of their stuff has fallen badly over the past three years, but the catalog list prices haven't.  They still have boutique prices on chintzy stuff.  It's getting harder to find the quality pieces, so customers are dropping out.  I've been frequently disappointed lately, but I pay so little it doesn't bother me if half the lot is crap.

But - everything always fits, and I am hard to fit.  I am really going to miss them if they disappear.

(Fifteen or twenty years ago, Speigel was like that.  Really nice stuff that pretty much always stayed true to size.  But then it all turned to crap.)

I'm still fussing over my documents.  Commenters "Z" and "Rocky" say there are some Word  knockoffs available, but I haven't looked yet.  Those green quotes at the top of my blog posts are randomly generated from a Works document.  I have something like three more post drafts set up, and then I won't be able to get to the quotes for a while, I guess. 

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I'm rather proud of my calmness with this system transition.  I still hate the "apps", but it's easy to get to a desktop interface, and that's familiar.  I haven't freaked out yet, not like this person:


It's true.  She really did take a hammer to a brand new $1300 MacBookPro, right out of the box, because she couldn't get it to immediately play a Lady Gaga video.  The guy she's talking to, who isn't responding, is her husband of three weeks, and I suspect she's really wanting to bash him, not the laptop. Notice how she starts with threatening little taps.

 (There's a video on her channel from just before this one, where you do hear him respond, and a video after this on Lamarr Wilson's channel (to which I am subscribed, that's how I found it all).  Lamarr had seen this video, and rushed over to her place to find out if it was true.  She seemed to think Lamarr could get it to work after she'd bashed it all to Hell.  Lamarr was pissed, because he's been saving for a MacBookPro for ages and isn't there yet.  Lamarr's involvement convinces me that it is for real.)

Yup.  Proud of my restraint.  I would NEVER wear green lipstick, either.
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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

3780 Stumbling, but still moving.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"[T]he West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion
but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often
forget this fact, non-Westerners never do."
--Samuel Huntingdon--

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Played with the new laptop some more today.

I installed IrfanView, so now I can find, edit, and play with all my photos.

I installed WOT (Web of Trust), so now I know at a glance whether a website is considered safe or not.

I installed Flash, so now I can watch YouTube videos.

I verified that the Microsoft virus detector is on and automatically updating.

I bookmarked my most frequently used sites on the tool bar.

So far, so good.

But I have a few major problems:

I can't seem to use the regular Firefox bookmarks list.  I found it, but it's not bookmarking anything but the ones for which I used drag-and-drop to put on the tool bar.  "Bookmark this page" doesn't seem to do anything.  After Google killed their bookmark support a few years ago, I moved to GMarks, and that was working fine for me on the old system.  I downloaded GMarks, and the instructions said to open the installation thingy under Firefox, but I can't figure out how to do that.  This one I may be able to figure out if I play with it some more.

The one that freaks me out totally:
I have a few hundred documents on the hard disk, and almost all of them are Microsoft Works format (.wps and .wdb).  I don't have Microsoft Works on the new machine, and nothing else will open those files!  Let alone edit them.  I really really really don't want to have to buy Microsoft Word (although I guess I'm going to have to), and I absolutely don't want the whole Office package.

I wandered around a bit, and it gets pretty confusing.  One Microsoft site says $109.99 for Word (is that a one-time payment?), and another says $99.99/year for the full suite (home edition)(Holy Crap!  Do people really pay that?).  Word is supposed to be able to open and edit Works files, and there are several free converters out there (although if Word can read Works, why would you need a converter from Works to Word anyway?).  So I guess I'm going to have to devote some time tomorrow to figuring that all out.

Suggestions or explanations of packages gratefully accepted.   Are there any other word processors out there besides what Microsoft has?

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In other business, two days ago my cold seemed to be gone.  Over.  Done.  I had one day of bliss, and then it came back, exactly the same way it had started the first time through.  I am unhappy.)
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Monday, October 14, 2013

3779 Turkey

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sometimes when you look in his eyes you get the feeling that someone else is driving.

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Dear Teacher, Decorator, Baker, Designer, and anyone else planning to color a turkey:

A turkey cock is not a peacock!

A wild turkey does not have rainbow tail feathers.  No yellow, red, orange, green, purple. 

A wild turkey is a mix of black, gray, brown, dark tan, white, and russet.  The head is white or light grey with a little light blue around the eyes and throat, and the male will have a bright red wattle.  In sunlight, the feathers have some iridescence, so you might see a shimmering surface wash of gold, copper, golden green or blue.  The tail is some shade of brown, with stripes of black and white at the end of the feathers.

The tail is NOT a dime store fake native american headdress, so cut that out!

Ok, I can understand if you have small children coloring a turkey.  A palette restricted to browns is pretty boring.  Let them get creative.  Heck, they think pink horses are perfection, and that's fine.  But when an adult is coloring a turkey for adults, a multi-colored tail simply displays ignorance, and is insulting to your audience, not to mention to the bird.

A wild turkey is amazingly beautiful on its own.  It doesn't need enhancement.
He:  "Come wis me to ze Casbah."
She: "You do realize all that fluff doesn't really make you bigger, right?"

[Photo borrowed from the website for the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan, http://lansingwbu.blogspot.com/2012/11/bird-of-week-wild-turkey.html.]
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Sunday, October 13, 2013

3778 Kicking and screaming into the new era

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Homophobia: The fear that gay men will treat you the way you treat women.

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In the spring of 2007, I bought my first laptop, and went from a heavily modified (by Jay) Windows 98(?) on a desk PC to Vista on a Dell laptop.  Big jump!  The transition was a bit scary at first, but at least I didn't hate it.

Last July I bought a Toshiba "Satellite" laptop.  Woot had a great deal.  It has more than 10 times the everything than my old one, and it's running Windows 8.

Yesterday Hercules finally got around to helping me with it.  He hooked up the old hard drive as an external drive on the new machine, and copied all my photos, documents, and music from the old to the new.  We couldn't get the cookies or bookmarks, though, because Hercules wasn't sure they'd be compatible, or something, I don't know.

Today I played with the new.  I did convince it to use the house WiFi, I set the date and time, installed and synched Firefox and logged on to a few of my favorite sites, got their quick-access icons on the Firefox toolbar and the passwords stored, and that was about it.

I haven't figured out yet how to get to my photos or documents.  There's one of those silly app tiles for photos, and it automatically scrolls through and displays, on the tile itself, random photos from my photo folders, including the naked ones!, none of which happened to show up while Hercules was doing his thing, thank goodness.  I clicked on that tile, and all it does is throw up a full screen cycling mosaic of my photos (including the naked ones!).  It doesn't take me to the photo files, so that seems pretty useless.

So far I hate Windows 8.   It hides everything in the most obscure places, and shoves those stupid useless apps tiles at you.  With Vista, it was easy to find everything from the Start button.  I didn't even have to remember what the name of the program is that I use to edit documents, it was right there, and the notepad and calculator were right up front. 

Now?  Who knows?  I don't even know where to start looking, or how.  I bought a book.  We'll see how that goes.  So far it's been less than helpful on 9 of 10 things I looked up.

Once I'm fully up to speed on the new machine, the old will go to the country house, so I don't have to carry one back and forth.

(Yes, this is being written on the old laptop.  The new keyboard is just different enough that I keep hitting "Alt" instead of "Space", and "Alt" makes very strange things happen, and I am too tired to swear at it right now.)
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Saturday, October 12, 2013

3777 Hacks

Saturday, October 12, 2013

"I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."
--Sir Winston Churchill--

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Some of these "life hacks" are new to me, but very useful.  Others are old, but I had forgotten them.  Check them out:
http://sarcasticcharm.com/99-life-hacks-that-could-make-your-life-easier