Tuesday, December 30, 2014

3999 - Notes to the World

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

When the end of the world comes, I hope I am in Louisiana.
Everything gets there 20 years late.


Graham crackers are not gingerbread.  Quit making graham cracker houses and calling them gingerbread houses!  That's not gingerbread!  Gingerbread houses take a lot more work and planning.  You cheated, so quit bragging.

Draping and wrapping Christmas lights over and around your pets and then photographing them is not as cute as you think it is.  It's obvious that the beasties didn't entangle themselves, and most of them look embarrassed that anyone might think they did.  And it's not very original or natural.

Bah!  Get off my lawn!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

3998 Stones

Thursday, December 11, 2014

"When a true genius appears in this world, you may know him by this sign,
that the dunces are all in confederacy against him."
 --Jonathan Swift--


Daughter complains that I never let past slights or resentments go.  I remember things.  I even still complain.  I still carry anger toward certain people for things they did to me, especially if those people still don't seem to care. 

Well, yeah, I guess so.  But anyone who claims they don't hang on to stuff like that is in deep denial.  Maybe you don't ever think about that stuff, but it's still there at some level, it's always there, and it affects your actions and reactions today.  In fact, the more you "let it go" (actually bury it, you can't let it go, it's a part of you), the deeper you bury it and refuse to look at it, the more likely it is to permeate your life, your thinking.  

If you acknowledge it, pull it out and look at it occasionally, turn it around in your hands and then put it back away, the less likely it is to spin and mutter and burst out under disguise.  So I think my way is healthier.

I came across a phrase this morning in a book I'm reading, "looking like a dog's breakfast", that hit me in a wave of sadness.  You know, my mother never once that I can remember ever told me I looked nice.  Not once.  Not for the proms, not for the wedding, never leaving the house.  
I always 
-looked like a dog's breakfast
-looked like something the cat dragged in
-looked like a bag tied in the middle
-looked like a rat's nest
-was ok, I guess, with a sigh.  

I'll never forget the time I looked up at the dinner table and saw her staring at me speculatively.  She said, "Your nose is all over your face."  What's a young girl supposed to do with stuff like that?

She never made any effort to fix anything, either.  She acted like it was hopeless.  

Now, if I had accepted what she said, if I had accepted her judgement and internalized it, I'd have been the mess she seemed to think I was, and still would be.  But I didn't.  I knew she was wrong, even then, that the problem was hers, not mine, that she was unfair to me.  And every time I take out one of those gems of mother love and turn it over in my hands, I know it didn't define me, it defined her.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

3997 For Rocky

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A lot of people really think a constitution written hundreds of years ago provides
written guidance to any issue the nation might be faced with.
Then again, a large subset of the same group believes that a book
written 2000 years ago provides answers to all problems in life.
--Olof Ã…kerlund--


Rocky, I'd have put this in the comment on your blog, but I couldn't figure out how without getting Blogger to upload it first (and even then it didn't work).  This photo is over 2 years old, but it illustrates the intersection:
Daughter and Nugget.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

3996 Suicidal Caterpillar explained

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Our elected officials put a hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution.
They don't put a hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.
I think some forget that.


A few years ago I wrote a few posts about a plant the Hairless Hunk had given me.  Becs identified it as Jimson weed (Datura stramonium).  Several respected sources informed me that the plant is very dangerous, that every part of the plant is poisonous, and that no animal or insect is known to eat Jimson weed.  But then I found a huge tomato hornworm caterpillar eating it.  The caterpillar was covered with cocoons of the sphinx moth.  (That post is here.  scroll down to the photo of the caterpillar.)  The sphinx moth lays eggs under the caterpillar's skin, the moth larvae eat its insides, and then emerge to pupate on its back.  (Bleck.  How was that moth still alive and moving?  A question still to be answered.)  I wondered if the caterpillar was trying to commit suicide.

Well, the past few days I've been watching a lot of documentary videos on YouTube about plants, how they communicate with each other, how they protect themselves, and so on.  Some people are saying that plants are intelligent and aware, others say no, it's just genes and chemical and electrical, just the way they're built, and so on.  But, uh, look at us and animals.  It's just genes and chemicals and electrical with us, too, but we consider ourselves and animals as having intelligence.  Maybe we need to look deeper into plants and expand that definition a bit.

There was a drought somewhere in Africa, and Kudu antelopes in a preserve were reduced to eating acacia leaves.  Kudus eat acacia leaves normally, no big deal.  But the kudus started dying.  They were poisoned.  It turned out that the acacia leaves being eaten were extraordinarily high in tannins. 

It wasn't  because of the drought - trees well outside the reserve had normal levels. Scientists figured that predation had caused the trees to react by producing more tannins to discourage munching.  Then it got more interesting.  Trees just outside the fence, that had not been chewed, were also high.  So -- it's not being chewed that causes the tannin in those trees.

Turns out that the trees under attack had put out a chemical signal into the air that alerted other nearby trees of the danger, and they, too, upped the tannin in their leaves, even if they had not yet been chewed, and also spread the signal.  

That's called communication.

Back to the caterpillar.  Another video mentioned the wild tobacco plant (which is related to the Jimson weed) and how it produces poison such that no insects eat it.  EXCEPT the hornworm caterpillar!  Hornworms are immune to the poison!  Wow!  Confusion cleared.  That explains the hornworm on my Jimson.

But then it gets weird.  When it feels itself getting munched, the tobacco plant (and, I assume, Jimson weed) puts out a chemical signal into the air that attracts (ta rah!) braconid wasps.  Who (slowly) kill the caterpillar.

Then it gets even weirder.  The wild tobacco plant normaly has flowers that bloom in the evening, and are pollinated by moths.  But if too many of those moths are sphinx moths who are laying eggs and threatening the plant, the plant puts out another signal, and all the tobacco plants in the area switch their flowers to day-blooming long-throated blossoms that attract hummingbirds, not moths.

(Actually, back when the plants "called" the braconid wasps, maybe they should have called a big bird, or some lizards, who'd eat the caterpillars right off.  Those wasp larvae are too slow.)

I often tease people who smugly say they never eat anything with a face with "No, you'd rather tear the arms off a living broccoli just because you can't hear them scream".  Turns out they DO scream.  We are simply not equipped to "hear" them.

Monday, December 01, 2014

3995 Life is ... well, it just is.

Monday, December 1, 2014

"Most people would rather be certain they're miserable than risk being happy."
 --Robert Anthony--


I went up to the old house Saturday morning, November 15, just for the day, just to make sure the furnace was on and that it was running well.  It was 40 degrees in the house when I arrived and turned the furnace on.  I spent the next five hours sorting papers in the big filing cabinets, while the house warmed up.

I found a lot of neat stuff.  Once upon a time, in the old days, people wrote letters - actual penmanship, on real paper.  I had always kept personal letters and cards.  I found letters from my mother, letters from my youngest sister, copies of letters I had written to Jay's family when he was sick, and a few old love letters from suitors, including a love letter from Jay from before we were married.  

I set most of those aside to bring down here. I read the one from Jay several times up there before adding it to the "keep" pile; I'll read the others some day. I brought back with me a large box of paper for recycling, thinking I'd bring the "keep" letters back on the next trip, which was supposed to be later that next week.  

I stayed only until evening.  By 5 pm the house was up to 65 degrees, but I'd had enough.  I was freezing!  Shivering.  My hands were shaking so badly I was having difficulty handling papers.  We forget that it's not just the air in the house that's cold and needs to be warmed, but everything in the house. Walls, floors, furniture, appliances - they all suck heat out of the air (and out of me) until they get up to air temp.  That takes a long time.  So I set the thermostat back to 60 degrees, went to the diner in the village for dinner, and came on home.  I intended to return the next Thursday, the 20th, then stay until Saturday, and sort and pack up some more.

That Thursday morning I woke up and couldn't bend my left knee without a lot of pain, and it wouldn't support any weight bent.  It was fine straight, I just couldn't bend it.  There was no swelling, no heat or redness, no lumps, no tender spots, nothing.  I suspect I'd slept on it funny and sprained or strained something.  The main problem was the knee, but my hip was complaining, too.  (I notice stuff like this happening more as I get older. Side effect of increased wisdom, I guess.)  I was walking like a pirate swinging a wooden leg.  Stairs were interesting, and I couldn't drive because I couldn't use the clutch, so I wasn't going north.

By Sunday it seemed a bit better, but I didn't really trust it until like Tuesday, but with Thanksgiving on Thursday, there was no way I'd be on the highways until ... well ... today at the earliest.  Sigh.

So much for my determination to get moving on that house.  I hadn't been up there since early summer, for various reasons that now sound like excuses, but were really valid at the time - like Hal being in the shop and waiting for parts several times, and a very bad cold followed by a sinus infection, and commitments made to Daughter and to Nugget, and so on.  Not to mention that IRS thing and some other businessy garbage that took time and attention.


Speaking of the IRS thing, I am going to have to have a serious talk with Piper.  He is in charge of my investments, and he moves money around too much in my estimation.  He's always buying this and selling that.  I can't complain that he has lost money for me, but he seems to consider it a game to "beat the market".  He's starting to look like a damn day-trader, with MY MONEY!  Having no particular expertise in that area, it's difficult for me to rein him in.  Well, he was proud that he had increased my holdings by something like 22% in 2013.  Then I got the annual statements from my 401K and my IRAs, which I control, not him.  My strategy is to find the best place to put the money, put it there, and LEAVE it there.  

My 401K and three IRAs all had gains over 33% in 2013.  That's 33%.  If 22% is pretty damn good, then 33% is fantastic!

So next time I see him, I'm going to tell him to find the best place to put the money, put it there, and LEAVE it there. I don't want to see more than three trades a year.  Period.  I'll spoil his fun, and he's going to have fits, but that's it.  I've had it.  Every trade he makes costs me money in processing fees, and I see no advantage in "playing" the market.  My IRAs are in no-load low-fee index-based mutual funds, and they are growing just fine, thank you.  They dipped a little in 2007-8ish, but they more than recovered just fine.  

Actually, I know what's going on.  He dearly loves everything Wall Street.  I don't think he has any other hobbies.  The Market IS his hobby.  His daughter has joined him in his business, and over the past five years she has gradually taken over most of his accounts, the largest of which are large union and business retirement funds.  He has retained his private accounts.  Like mine.  We are all he has left to indulge his passion.  

The other problem is that his buddies are all gloom-and-doom Wall Street Republicans who can't see anything ahead but recession and depression from Democrats (especially when led by a brown one), so he takes their advice and panics and sells off everything before every election.  I could strangle him for that.  Is anyone aware that the economy is just fine?  33% growth in index accounts in 2013?  Yeah, the middle class isn't recovering very quickly, but that fabled 1% is doing just fine.  The rich are getting richer.  Corporations are doing just fine.  

I hope I can convince him to settle down.  I hope I don't have to fire him.  I will if I have to, but it would cost a small fortune to pull out, and I don't know where I'd put it then.  I've met a few investment counselors in the past decade (remember The Ditz, for example?  That's what she does) and I don't trust any of them.  At least I can trust Piper - trust is not the problem with him.  He really thinks he's doing the best for me.  I just don't agree with his political philosophy and management methods. 


Oh, almost forgot.  There was a big storm at the old house the day before Thanksgiving, and a huge tree fell across the top of the driveway.  One of those that pulled the root ball out of the ground.  The Hairless Hunk sent me a text msg plus photo this morning. His wife's mother had died last week, too, so he apologized that today was the first time he'd checked the house since the storm. (Sheesh.  Yeah, take care of your family first, Hunk.  Don't apologize for that.)  He has been rotating his excess vehicles at the top of my drive so it looks like there's activity at the house, and from the tiny photo it looks like maybe his car got hit by the tree.  His note didn't say anything about that.  So, anyway, until he clears the tree out, I don't think I'll be going up there.  I hope It doesn't snow before then, or it will be a real mess!

Why are things so complicated?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

3994 Already?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

"Against logic there is no armor like ignorance." 
--Laurence J. Peter--


According to my outdoor thermometer, it's 47 F outside.

It's raining.  It's 10:45 pm.

I was just out on the front porch, and I noticed that some of those raindrops looked rather large. 
And white. 
And shiny.

The grass and driveway showed just wetness, so I stuck the black velvet sleeve of my jacket out into the "rain" and caught a few of the "raindrops",
and several of them were flat,
and six-pointed.

I feel sick.  I'm not ready for this.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

3993 Squirrel Heaven

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Love is the only beast that bites after it's dead.
(Except for reptiles.)


There's a squirrel who comes to my porch sometimes to beg for peanuts when he sees me outside.  This afternoon, I heard him running through the drifted leaves, but then he took a sharp right turn and ran for the tree on the other side of the driveway.  There was something about the way he was moving that signaled major excitement, not his usual stop-and-go scamper.  He seemed to have some difficulty climbing the tree.

I walked across the driveway to see why, and saw that he was carrying something in his mouth.  Something beige, about half his size.  Something with long dangly things on each side.  Oh good grief - it looked like he was carrying a baby rabbit!

I got closer and discovered that he was carrying a small ear of corn.  The "bunny ears" were the husk.

He was so excited, and so obviously happy, and so determined to get that thing up to the top of the tree.

Somebody may have lost part of their door wreath.

Friday, October 31, 2014

3992 Slumber party!

Friday, October 31, 2014

War doesn't determine who's right, just who's left.


The Nugget:

The Nugget is three-and-a-half now. 

Last Saturday night, her parents were going to a party, and I had agreed to babysit.  Daughter asked how late they could stay out, and I said as late as you like, I have my book, and there's the couch, don't worry about time.  But Daughter still fussed, so I had a Great Idea - how 'bout Nugget just stays overnight at my house?  We asked Nugget, and she was all for it.

By Saturday morning I was having second thoughts.  Nugget has stayed in hotels and various relatives' homes many times, but always with her Mommy.  As far as I know, she'd never slept away from her Mommy.  I had visions of her waking at 3 am with "I want my Mommy!", and nothing ever cures that but the production of her mommy, immediately.  Daughter said that Nugget was excited about staying over at Gramma's, and there's no turning back now.

So, she came over at 7 pm.  Bedtime was supposed to be 9 pm.  I think she finally fell asleep at 11 pm.  We had a good time, arranging hair, telling stories (I do a really good job with The Three Billy Goats Gruff and the ogre) and generally giggling.

I think there's a particular time when kids start sleeping with their head at the top of the bed and their feet pointing toward the foot of the bed.  She's not there yet.  Several times during the night I had to move her legs off my back.  And among the eight stuffed animals and dolls in the bed with us was a bear that  talked when squeezed, and he happened to be between us and I kept leaning on him ("I looooove when you hug meeeee").  And then there was the usual checking every half hour to make sure she was still breathing.  I got no sleep at all, but she slept very well --- until 3 am.

She woke me, near tears. "Gramma, I had a monster dream."
"Oooo.  I bet it was scary."
"Yes.  It was berry scary."
"But you know it was a dream, right?"
"And you're not dreaming now?"
"Are there any monsters around now?"
"No.  There's no monsters now."
"Monster dreams are very scary.  But they're just dreams.  They're not real.  They go poof when you wake up."
"Yeah.  Ok."  And she was back to sleep almost immediately.  No "I want my mommy".
I was so proud of her, and so grateful.

We got up about 9 am, two hours later than usual for her.  She said, "Mommy says wake up, go potty, brush teeth, take a bath, get dressed, then eat breakfast."  Only Mommy had forgotten to pack her toothbrush and I had no extras, so she decided to skip the whole routine and just get dressed so breakfast would happen sooner.  After breakfast, her Daddy noticed we were up and came to get her.

And I went back to bed for two hours.

Later, Daughter says she asked Nugget if she liked staying at Gramma's.   Nugget said no.  Then she threw her arms up in the air and said, "I don't like it, I LOVE IT!"


Monday, October 27, 2014

3991 Freakout continued

Monday, October 27, 2014

"Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time."
- -Steven Wright--


Well, it's been a little over a week since that Friday I received the letter from the IRS insisting that I owed over $61K in taxes for 2012.

The letter had a lot of detail as to how they arrived at that figure, and over the weekend I dug out the tax filings and forms from 2011 and 2012 and compared my figures to the IRS's figures.  It looks like the IRS never received my 1040 etc filing.  For example, I had a refund from 2011, $2K of which I "rolled over" toward the 2012 taxes, and one of my income sources does withhold taxes.  The IRS says that only that amount withheld was paid, they don't show the $2K rollover.  They also show none of my deductions.  AND, the major error is that they show all the stock, bond, and fund trades that Piper had done on my behalf as pure profit - there was no cost basis deducted for those trades.

Yup.  Looks like they never received my 1040 filing for 2012.

The next Monday I overnighted (a "verbed" word if I ever saw one) copies of the IRS letter to Piper the money guy, and Angel the CPA.  They went to work on it.  I don't much care how it gets handled, just so it does get handled.

Angel called me last Friday and said we would re-file the 2012 taxes, and he'd be overnighting me the completed 1040s etc, which I should sign and send to the IRS. He didn't mention the New Jersey taxes.

I found his use of the word "re-file" very interesting.  I strongly suspect that he never filed the originals.  Every year I gather all the info, make copies of the 1099s and real estate tax receipts and so on, and send him the packet.  He does my taxes, then sends it all to me, I review it and either make corrections or approve it as is, and then he e-files it for me.  If there's any tax due, I mail the check separately, but usually there's a small refund which we "wrap" toward the next year.  I'll bet you a gazillion dollars he forgot to e-file my taxes.

I didn't challenge him on it.

He startled me a little when he said that not only do I not owe any money, I'm going to get a refund of a few hundred dollars.

Well, it's Monday afternoon, about 2:30 pm, and the forms that were going to be overnighted Friday have not yet arrived.  I'm very anxious to see them.

You know, I'm afraid this might not be over yet....

Sunday, October 19, 2014

3990 Chocolate Ebola

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk
for people who can't read."
--Frank Zappa--


I saw an interesting video on the problems with the protective wear health care workers are using around ebola patients, possible ways to contaminate oneself.  The gear itself does a pretty good job of protecting.  The danger comes in taking it off.

A guy who is pretty familiar with the protocols demonstrated by having chocolate sauce poured on his gloves and then he smeared a little from his gloves onto the front of the suit.  (Note that most local hospitals do not have the facilities to rinse off before removing the gear.  The workers have to remove it "dirty".)

He then removed the gear, very slowly, demonstrating and explaining each step.  It all looked good.
When he was finished and examined, he had a small smear of chocolate on the inside of one forearm, and another on the side of his neck.

3989 Recommended Reading

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner."
 --Tallulah Bankhead--


More things I don't understand:  

I am hearing/reading more and often that two things are "one in the same".  What? "In?"  Huh?

And I have never understood why "up the creek without a paddle" is such a bad situation.  Seems like if you're up the creek, you can just float down with the current, no?  It would be worse if you were down the creek with no paddle, and no way to get up.


I read an article recently (no, I don't have the link right now) on functional MRIs done on conservative and liberal brains.  They showed people various disturbing pictures while they were in the MRI, and then looked to see what sections of the brain lit up.  The conclusion reached by the researchers is that the conservative brain operates more often on emotion, and in particular on fear, whereas the liberal brain shown the same situation went into problem solving mode.

This kind of research has been all over the place from many different sources for the past decade, at least, but I hadn't come across it before.  I found it fascinating.  It explains a lot of conservative political advertising - they seem to concentrate on arousing people by appealing to their fears.  I had noticed that, but hadn't made the connection.  It explains why conservatives and liberals can talk themselves blue to the other camp, and never make any headway in changing any minds.  It explains why so many people in lower economic groups will passionately defend conservative policies that are obviously inimical to their own advancement and welfare.

The article I read said that there was probably an evolutionary purpose to this divide - that a tribe or community needed BOTH kinds of processing to survive.  The conservatives kept the group safe in the face of a hostile world, and the liberals kept the group advancing socially and technologically.

Well, I just took a few minutes and searched for the article.  I didn't find the particular one I'd read, but if you search for "conservative liberal brain" you'll find a bunch (the top one is likely to be a synopsis of a 2014 paper from the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences, in which they had used eye tracking instead of MRIs) and if you add "mri" to those arguments you'll find additional recent and highly regarded studies.  

I had however noticed a long time ago that the easiest way to control people is through fear.  Scare the Hell out of them (or in the case of religion, into them), convince them that only you can save them from this horrible danger, and you've got them by the proverbial short hairs.   


In books, I read about equal amounts of fiction and non-fiction. I recently finished Karen Elliott House's book On Saudi Arabia; Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines, and Future (2012, 108 pages, Knopf).

I had been sort of wondering why Saudi Arabia hadn't been taking a more active role in the political and religious problems in the Middle East.  Like, they have a bazillion dollars and enormous Islamic credibility, so why aren't they doing something about ISIS (or whatever it's being called this week), and the situations in central Africa, like the Boko Haram kidnappings, and pushing for serious Palestine talks, and so on.  Does their inaction mean they approve of what's going on?

This book answers those questions and more.   Pretty much everything you ever wanted to know, plus.

I get very impatient with nonfiction books that could have been a pamphlet, but have been expanded into a book by repeating the same things over and over.  And over.   I also get impatient with nonfiction writers who seem to think that if they make every sentence as convoluted as possible, they sound more erudite.  This book has neither fault.  I was interested the whole way through, and Ms. House writes as if she's having a conversation with her reader.  I like that.

I very highly recommend this book.

Oh, yeah, the reason the Saudi royal family is so insular?  It's because of the tightrope.  Read the book.

Friday, October 17, 2014

3988 Freakout

Friday, October 17, 2014

What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.
 --Ralph Waldo Emerson--


Our mail arrives usually after 5:30-ish, too late to conduct any business based on it.

One innocent-looking envelope today was from the IRS.

They claim I owe $61,569 additional on my 2012 income tax, $9,786 of which is a "tax understatement penalty". They want the money by November 13, 2014.


Tomorrow I'm going to copy the multi-page letter, and send copies to my investment guy Piper, and my CPA Angelo.

Something is VERY wrong.

I think my total 2012 income was around $72,000, including social security, retirement, capital gains, interest, and dividends, most of which is reinvested and I don't actually "see" it.

I fully expect Piper and Angelo to FIX THIS!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

3987 Coincidence

Thursday, October 16, 2014

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


Funniest thing - in 1999 Frederick Aldrich published a book, a thriller titled Absolute Zero, available on Amazon, at  http://www.amazon.com/Absolute-Zero-Frederick-Aldrich-ebook/dp/B008MKPLSQ/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413513498&sr=1-2&keywords=absolute+zero
It seems to be available now only in the Kindle edition.

Quoting the book description:
Ebola. The very sound conjures up hideous images, images that cannot begin to convey the horrors of the disease itself.

An African man carrying the virus has arrived unhindered in Dallas. Experts assure the public there is no cause for fear. But is there really nothing to fear?"
How 'bout that?

It's a thriller, about a terror attack.

Repeat - Africa, Dallas, Ebola, written in 1999.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

3986 Don't believe the ebola hype

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"The world is run by 'C' students."
--Al McGuire--


Shep Smith just pretty much called his network fearmongers.  Let's see now if he keeps his job.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

3985 Experiences with pet sitting and boarding

Sunday, October 12, 2014

"Traditions are group efforts to keep the unexpected from happening."
 --Barbara Tober--


Since about 9th grade, and excepting college, I've had dogs and/or cats.

Cats are easy to leave.  They can easily be left for two overnights if they will eat dry food, longer if they are youngish and healthy and mellow.  They just sleep all day while I'm gone.  They need a visiting nanny or boarding only if they aren't healthy, or if it's for more than a weekend or so.

Dogs can't be left for more than a few hours unless they are smart enough to use the cat's litter box.  They can't be trusted with more than one meal's worth of food, because they'll just eat it all in one gulp, or destroy the timed feeder if you try to use it, and then throw the excess up on your bed.  And they get bored, and then destructive.  So visiting nannies won't be enough.  Dogs need boarding.

I have a history of pet sitting and boarding horror stories.

I asked a friend, Barbara, to feed my cat Smokey while I was away for five days, when I lived in Gettysburg.  Smokey ate only canned food, so she needed a visit once a day.  Now, Smokey sometimes wouldn't eat for the first day that I was away, and I told Barbara that.  That's normal with some cats.  When I returned, I found a food dish full of rotted food, crawling with maggots, and a very desperate cat who wouldn't let me out of her sight for days after.

I asked Barbara what had happened.  She said she'd fed Smokey the first day, and when she went back the second day the food hadn't been touched, so she figured rather than throw it out she'd leave it, and "When the cat got hungry enough, she'd eat it."  She didn't even go in after that because she could see the dish through the window and apparently Smokey hadn't been hungry.  Of course, I was furious.

(This, by the way, is the same woman who later chased me with a knife, seriously trying to kill me, because she KNEW I had been messing with her husband.  Actually, it was another woman with my same first name, and when she asked her husband if it was me, he said yes because he didn't want her to know it was actually his ex-wife, whom Barbara hated.  The idiot guy thought that since she and I were friends, it would be ok.  Gettysburg had some seriously wacked-out people.)

So the next time I went away, I asked Jeanie to feed Smokey.  The very first day Jeanie visited, when she opened the door, Smokey burst out and ran off.  Jeanie searched and called and couldn't find her.  Smokey was gone.  Jeanie actually moved into my house so she'd be there if Smokey returned.  She called and searched for the next several days, and left food outside the door, and it was eaten, but she didn't know by whom.  Even though she was watching, she never saw Smokey.  When I returned, I drove into the parking area, and Smokey greeted me when I opened the car door.  Apparently, she had been out searching for me for days.  Jeanie was so relieved, and I appreciated Jeanie's efforts.

After that, I boarded my cat(s).  I found some really good places over the years, like that woman who had what looked like little motel rooms, with climbing shelves and cubby holes, and a window at floor level with bird feeders outside, and in a pinch I boarded at the vet's.  The cat would spend the night in a cage at the vet, but during the day she had the run of the office.  Smokey liked that.

Later a friend clued me in - if you're using an amateur pet-sitter, get like three and rotate their days. That way if one of them screws up, or even two, it's not a disaster.

Dogs were harder.  I found so many kennels that looked good at first, but I always sensed something wrong when I'd pick the dog(s) up.  Something "off".

One time I returned a day earlier than scheduled, and decided to pick up the two dogs then, straight from the airport (pre-cell phone days, so no call ahead).  I arrived at the kennel and asked for my dogs.  The kid at the desk hemmed and hawed, and said I couldn't get them until tomorrow.  I insisted, saying that of course I was willing to pay for the extra day, no problem, please get my dogs now.  He said he couldn't, and when I asked why, he said they needed grooming.  I said no problem, I don't need them groomed, please go get them now.  I finally had to get angry and point out that they were MY dogs, and you CAN'T keep them! I want them RIGHT NOW, or I'm calling the cops!

Well, I got them.  Their dog beds were wet, stinking of urine, and coated with wet and dried feces.  So were the dogs.  Poop was caked on their hips and sides.  It was obvious they'd been walking and lying in poop.  It was awful!  This explained why when I'd left them there on two previous occasions, they smelled of shampoo when I picked them up, and their beds had been freshly washed and dried.

That was the last time they stayed there.

The dogs were in an inside "room" with a door to an outside pen, which was supposed to be open all day, but apparently they didn't get outside very often.  I know this because Puppy (yes, that was her name - long story) was a fastidious Australian Kelpie, and never eliminated on anything but grass or dirt.  She wouldn't even go on concrete or asphalt.  So for her to have gone inside the concrete-floored room, she must have been desperate. 

One thing I have learned:  If you go to check out a kennel, and the owners will not allow you to actually see the areas where the animals are kept ("Oh, no, strangers walking through will upset the dogs.  We don't allow anyone back there except the workers."), then run fast away.  A good kennel with nothing to hide will escort you through, or at least allow a look (and sniff) through a door.   When the dogs see you accompanied by a familiar face, they are curious, they might bark, but they're not "upset".

----Just thinking about that stuff today.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

3984 Head Banging

Thursday, October 9, 2014

"I have no problem with God. It's his fan club I can't stand."


The World Health Organization (funded by members nations of the UN) has issued a bulletin saying that ebola can in fact be spread by aerosolized droplets produced from coughing or sneezing, if you inhale or touch those droplets.  It can also be spread by touching contaminated surfaces, and those surfaces can be contaminated by sneezes.  So people who visit the home of a patient after the patient has left the home, can acquire the infection from surfaces (sneezed or coughed on - and you'd be surprised how far a sneeze travels) in the home.

[NOTE - spread by aerosolized droplets does not fit the medical definition of "airborne".  Airborne spread involves dried stuff floating around in the air.  Technical difference.  Flu is airborne, ebola is not (so far).]

That's how that latest patient in Texas got it (I haven't heard the results of his test yet)(Update - he tested negative.).  He went into the other guy's home with the cleaners without protective gear.  It's interesting that he bragged that he didn't need the gear.  Oh dear.

So asking if folks have been in contact with an infected person is not a good question.  You have to ask if they had touched anything a symptomatic person had touched - or sneezed or coughed on, or near, or in the same room as, or in the next room, at any time in the past.  And how can you know that?  What do you know about the last dollar bill you handled?

Something that really bothers me is that in the involved areas of Africa, space in the treatment clinics is severely limited.  They just don't have the beds, space, or workers to handle the load.  So people show up at the door with symptoms, and they are turned away!.  The treatment centers and quarantine centers can't take anyone in until someone else dies.

Where do those people go?  Back home.  Back to their neighborhoods.

How the hell can you slow down, let alone stop, an epidemic with a response like that?  Nope, no room at the inn.  Go spread it some more.

This whole thing is a mess.

I made an online contribution this evening to Doctors Without Borders for $1,000.   I don't know how much they are involved in the ebola thing - mostly World Health Org. is mentioned, but I don't think WHO takes contributions - but I guess it couldn't hurt.


Another thing - I had mostly read that victims were being cremated.  Now I find out from several sources that they are being buried.

Hey, this is a virus!  Are we infecting the ground water?  If you want to know how nasty stuff does in the ground, ask any farmer about anthrax.  Anthrax is a bacteria.  Viruses encapsulate, which gives them an advantage over bacteria.


Workers for a company that cleans airliners went on strike earlier today at LaGuardia.  I don't blame them.

Monday, October 06, 2014

3983 Dread, confusion

Monday, October 6, 2014

I have long been of the opinion that if work were such a splendid thing
the rich would have kept more of it for themselves.
 --Bruce Grocott


Lately I've been coming across photos, pictures, videos with snow in them, and every time I see them I literally feel sick to my stomach.  Nausea.

I've never before had such a strong reaction to the coming of winter.

I hate cold.  I hate snow.  I've always hated cold and snow.  I especially hate snow when it's falling, or blowing.  The only good snow is melting snow.

I guess I have a bad feeling about this winter.


I've already said I don't understand how the moon moves in relation to the Earth and sun.  (Why do we capitalize "Earth", but not moon or sun?) This Wednesday morning at 6:25 am we are supposed to be able to see a full lunar eclipse (although I have little hope of seeing anything here - the sky is always either cloudy or full of pollution, can't ever see more than a few stars at night even on the clearest and darkest of nights).

Anyway, that got me wondering where the sun would be in relation to the moon and Earth at that time.  So I looked up sunrise and sunset times.  Sunrise here today was 06:59:00 and sunset was 18:30:08.  Tomorrow it's at 07:00:02 and 18:28:32.  On Tuesday into Wednesday the moon will be full full, and I assume sunrise will be at something like 07:01:04..  

So 35 minutes before Wednesday sunrise here, the moon will be in full sunshine.  Then as the Earth and my house turn toward sunrise, the moon will move toward the west and into the Earth's shadow, that's the eclipse, and then the moon sets here as the sun is "coming up", and the moon will remain in the Earth's shadow for about half of its next circuit.

I guess.

But, but, but, 

the moon "sets" at some point every night/morning/day, so howcome it isn't in the Earth's shadow more often?  Like almost once per circuit (per month-ish)?  Somewhere on the globe, anyway.

I don't understand.

I think my problem is that I don't understand the moon's path.  And I suspect it isn't a regular path, like man-made satellites are designed to follow, same path, over the same points on the Earth every circuit.   I suspect it "progresses".

But, but, but

does that imply that there are places on the Earth that don't see the moon AT ALL during some period of that progression?  Or is it large enough and far enough away that it is always visible to the entire half of the world it's "on the side of" at all times?  I suspect that's true.  Daytime moons aren't unusual.

But, but, but

when I look at the moon from my porch, it seems to "rise" from about the same spot every time.  Which, uh, doesn't support a path progression.

I give up.  Again.



The moon stuff gets weird.  It's no damn wonder I'm confused.  Want to blow your mind?  Read this: Wednesday's Lunar Eclipse Is Technically Impossible

To quote a line from the article, "And indeed, during a lunar eclipse, the sun and moon are exactly 180 degrees apart in the sky."  

Duh?  That's what I thought, and one reason (of several) why I couldn't figure it out.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

3982 Bits

Saturday, October 4, 2014

"To be willing to die for an idea is to set a rather high price on conjecture."
 --Anatole France


A travel hint:
Many times I've found that there are plenty of nice inexpensive places for lunch near the hotel, like even a cafe in the hotel, but in the evening, dinner time, they're all closed, and the only places to eat are horribly expensive and seem to expect you to "dress" for dinner.  

I call BS. 

I try to get a refrigerator in my room.  (A microwave is a nice bonus.)  If I have to, I lie and tell the desk I have medications that have to be refrigerated.  A little unmarked travel bottle of water in the fridge will play the part if necessary.  Then I have a nice lunchtime "dinner" at a lunch place, and I doggy bag a dinner from there and eat my nice cheap evening meal in my room or on the balcony.


A question:
If I have a pulley set up to lift some weight, you know, a single pulley on the top and one on the bottom as in #2 below, I can cut the apparent weight in half.  Like if there's 100 lbs, and I pull the rope, it's as if I am lifting only 50 lbs because the rope I'm pulling moves twice as far as the weight.

Here's the question:  I figure the rafter that I have the top pulley attached to has to support 100 lbs, the weight on the end of the pulleys.  A friend says no, the rafter has to support 150 lbs - the weight on the bottom PLUS the 50 lbs of pull I'm putting on the rope.

Anyone know for sure?

The way I figure it, if I am using the pulley as in figure 1, the rafter just has to support 100 lbs, not 200.  But then the next minute I can convince myself the other way.  I don't even know where to look to get the answer.


Newest grammar complaint:
The word for unbroken is "intact", not "in tact".  I'm seeing even pros use "in tact" and it's driving me batty.

Also maddening, the new "go to" word seems to be "massive".  It seems that anything that is larger, longer, or bigger than normal is "massive".

In my opinion, "massive" is used only to refer to great mass.  An Egyptian pyramid is massive.  When we're taking about a "massive heart attack", even then we mean that the attack involved the mass of the heart.  I'll even accept a "massive head cold" (under small protest) because it feels like a rock in your head.  But there's no way I can accept some of the ways I've seen it used lately:
- a massive house cleaning job
- a long flight route, as in "The Airbus A380 super-jumbo will fly six times a week on the massive 13,800 km journey between Sydney, Australia and Dallas / Fort Worth, U.S."
- a massive TED speech 
- his massive snoring kept me awake
- a massive groan from the audience

Grinding my teeth....


I rarely have nightmares.  So rarely I can't remember the last.  The closest thing to a nightmare I can think of usually involves a building with many corridors and many closed doors, and I feel panic because I can't figure out where whatever it is I'm looking for is.  I keep opening doors, but that's not the right room, and there are so many doors and so little time.  (In the special way of dreams, space is distorted.  The doors are right next to each other, cheek by jowl, but when I'd open a door the room was a normal size, and that was frustrating, too.)  These dreams aren't scary, though.  Just frustrating.

Maybe I have scary nightmares, but I don't awaken, so I don't remember them.

When I was in college living in the dorm, I always had my own room, no roommate, because (they say) I screamed words and cried in my sleep all the time, and it disturbed anyone else in the room.  Not just because I was loud, but because my obvious distress worried them.  But I don't remember any nightmares.

Ex#1 did say I sometimes cried or shouted in my sleep.  He'd wake me and it would stop, but again, even after being awakened, I don't remember any dream.

That was a very long time ago, and no one else has complained about it since then, so I don't know. 

I have been dreaming more lately, but the ones I'm working on as I wake in the morning are mostly pleasant,  usually involving some people, mostly older women, who are being hospitable, pleasant, we're working on something together, that kind of thing.   I read as I'm falling asleep at night, fall asleep with my nose in a book, the light is on a timer, and I think what I'd been reading influences my dreams.

3981 Shall we become hermits?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

"The ability we value most is plausible deniability."


Airports are checking passengers for fevers before they can board a flight.   Great.  I guess this can help to assure that no one on the flight is exposed to someone with ebola in the contagious stage.  But it does nothing to prevent someone with ebola in the not-yet contagious stage from traveling anywhere they want.  So it does nothing to stop ebola from spreading around the world.

I don't understand.  It doesn't make any sense.

And then there was the guy who thew up on a plane arriving at Newark from Brussels.  He was taken off the plane by people in full protective gear, the other passengers were held on the plane for a while, and then given handouts of what to do if they start showing ebola symptoms and they were let go, BEFORE the sick guy tested negative for ebola.  [http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/10/04/port-authority-cdc-investigating-sick-passenger-for-possible-ebola-at-newark-airport/

I don't understand.  It doesn't make any sense.

Some folks are saying that anyone coming from a country with ebola cases should be quarantined for three weeks after arrival somewhere else.  Well, we, the US, have at least one and possibly more ebola cases here.  So should Americans be quarantined for three weeks if they travel?  Should Arizona close their borders to Texans?

This is scary.  There's an attitude like "No big deal.  Even if a few cases show up, we can simply isolate those people and stop it in its tracks."  Duh.  The big problem in west Africa is that people are uneducated, not trusting the government and medical folks, and hiding sick relatives away.

Lack of education, distrust of government, distrust of doctors ("death panels", anyone?), distrust of "the system" --- yeah, sure, we don't have any of that here....


The other thing that bothers me is that in the cases of Americans and other westerners who have been diagnosed, nobody ever talks about HOW they got it.  Ok, the doctors and nurses, I can see that they had a higher chance of exposure, but they know how to protect themselves.  They know what to do and what not to do.  They are completely suited up and have decontamination procedures and know the punishment for screwing up.  So what went wrong?  And the reporters and that cameraman, how?

Why aren't they looking into that?  Maybe it's not as easy to avoid as they want us to believe?

Friday, September 26, 2014

3980 Sniffle update 2

Friday, September 26, 2014

Along about Wednesday, I was pretty much over everything, except that as usual my sinuses are still complaining.  A LOT of thick phlegm coming down from the sinuses, down to sit on top of the soft palate, and choke me.  I'm snorking and glurking to get it down and out, and if and when it escapes and goes on down the back of my throat and hits the epiglottis, I cough.  And choke some more.

But I don't think there's any active infection any more.

I've learned by experience that when it's just the sinuses, I can't use a decongestant.  If the sinuses get too dry before they've finished complaining, I'm inviting a bacterial infection.  So I just have to wait until they calm down on their own.  This is all a result of a massive sinus infection in the early '80s, that scarred stuff up in there so they don't drain right.  Hot drinks can help, but not much else.  A neti pot would make things worse, since I don't drain right.

I finally caught up with Daughter on Tuesday (they had been out almost every day since the Friday before), and she said they'd all been sick all weekend.  (Not as sick as I had been, I guess, because it didn't seem to have slowed them down any.  No, I don't know where they went or what they'd been doing - I'm not allowed to ask.)

I cracked Hercules up by mentioning that on Sunday I was sneezing so hard I gave up on underpants.

Monday, September 22, 2014

3979 Sniffle Update

Monday, September 22, 2014

Time sneaks up on you like a windshield on a bug.


Friday was hot soft palate.
Saturday was stuffy nose.
Sunday the nose was a gusher with tremendous sneezes.
Today nose is dry, a little bit of burning in the back of the throat.  Some sneezing and a few coughs.

I'm not sure how to tell when or if it goes into my chest.  If it doesn't I'll be fine.  If it does I could be in trouble.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

3978 I don't get it

Sunday, September 21, 2014

GUILT is about what you have done or not done. You did something wrong.
SHAME is about you as a person. You are something wrong.


I am reading Harriette Simpson Arnow's Hunter's Horn.  It's about a hardscrabble mountain farm family in the early 1940s Kentucky.  There's lots of small things I don't understand, but one is driving me crazy.  The family is going into their second winter without meat.  This winter, at least, they do have plenty of corn, beans, and so on after having nearly starved the winter before, but due to various problems they will likely still have no meat until the next autumn.  The mother and horde of children miss it terribly.

They define meat as pork, mutton, beef, and chicken.  And that's pretty much it.

What's driving me nuts is why do they never think about rabbit, possum, or squirrel?  Plenty of them around, and they can trap them, they don't need to use up bullets.  What about fish?  And if they can afford a few bullets, how about deer?

They train hounds to chase fox, and sneer at dogs who go after rabbits.  I dunno - if I were starving for meat I'd pure-D appreciate a dog who brought home a rabbit every few days.

When I was in high school in the mountains, many of my classmates ran trap lines every morning before school, and I have eaten rabbit, squirrel, possum, and raccoon (raccoon was not very good) when I visited classmates' homes.

I don't get it.  Every time some character in the book complains about no meat, I want to yell at them.

3977 The good, the bad, and the sniffles.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Silence is golden, unless you have a puppy. Then silence is suspicious. Very, very suspicious.


Two visits to the BMW dealership last week.  It should be fixed now.  It was the same code as last time, so they charged nothing to fix it.  They gave me a 300-series loaner while they reprogrammed the computer and tested it.  The300 ride is very smooth, amazing, but I still prefer my little sportster.  I like to feel the road and hear the motor.  It feels safer.

On Thursday, Daughter said there's some kind of virus going around, starts out like a head cold, and can go into pneumonia.  She wanted me to be sure to tell her if I got sick so she could "doctor me".  I guess she's worried that I might do like right after Sandy, when I got sicker and sicker and didn't say anything until I was on the verge of death (according to the ER doctor).

Friday my soft palate got hot.

Saturday my nose stuffed up.

Today it's not stuffed, it's running like mad.  I took a nasal decongestant, but it doesn't seem to have done anything.  I'm sneezing hard, a lot.  I don't seem to have a fever - but I'm not positive because all my digital thermometers are weirded out.  They are starting to lie.  I really really prefer the old mercury column (or alcohol) stick thermometers, those things stay accurate forever, but they're next to impossible to find any more.  Anyway, I rarely run a fever anyway, no matter what's going on.

Of course, I haven't seen Daughter since Thursday.  She's always out.  And I'm not going to call her for just sniffles.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

3976 The past isn't there any more

Sunday, September 14, 2014

It takes a long time to gain trust, five seconds to lose it.


For some reason this past summer I thought a lot about Gettyburg, Pa.  I had a strong urge to visit.  Nope, not as a tourist.  From summer of 1965 to summer 1967, a mere two years, I lived there.  I taught high school math.

Even though it was only two years, a lot happened.  They were the densest two years of my life, and they had a powerful influence on the next twenty or so years.  More happened in a month there than happened in whole years of the rest of my life.  Maybe it was my age.  Maybe it was the sudden freedom, being on my own.  I don't know.

I originally wanted to stay at a particular B&B in the middle of town.  [See http://www.brafferton.com/.  Check out the beautiful rooms!]  I selected a suite with a Jacuzzi and private entrance, and in July I made a reservation for the nights of September 9 and 10.  I figured that the tourist season would be winding down, so traffic would be less, especially on weekdays, but it would still be warm.

And then, on impulse, I mentioned to Daughter that I planned to go, and asked if she and the Nugget would like to join me.  I was thinking simply nice little vacation.  Daughter jumped to the utterly baseless conclusion that I was facing an emotional upheaval and was begging for her support, so she had to go.  Of course she didn't check that with me.  That's one of the things we fight about --- that she makes assumptions and then operates on them without checking with the other person, ALL THE FREAKIN' TIME!, and then she holds those assumptions against you.

I attempted to get Daughter and Nugget a room in the same B&B and discovered that they don't allow children under 10-years-old (or so, I forget), so I cancelled that reservation and booked two adjoining rooms at a Marriott outside town.  I was disappointed that the particular Marriott didn't have an in-room Jacuzzi and mentioned that to Daughter, so she did her own research and found another hotel that had something they called "family suites", that did have Jacuzzis.  Now from the photos on their website, the suite looked like two completely separate rooms with a shared bathroom between them.  So I called them, verified the Jacuzzi, made the reservation for a family suite WITH Jacuzzi (it was an unbelievable $160/night), and then cancelled the Marriott.


It was a 3.5 hour drive, which meant that Nugget would require a run-around break at some point.  Also, Daughter and I could not spend that much time in quarters that close without one of us (her!) having a meltdown bigger than the Nugget could throw, so we took separate cars.  Besides, that would allow us to do different explorations once there.

She left an hour before me, but we arrived within minutes of each other. 

I was very annoyed to find that the suite looked nothing like the photos implied.  It was a room with two queens with the bathroom by the entrance door, like any other cookie-cutter room, and then another room with a king bed opening off to the side of the queen room.  Yes, it had a door that could be closed, but one would have to go through the queen room to get to the bathroom.  Yuck.  AND, there was NO Jacuzzi.  I called the desk and asked if we could move to a family suite with a Jacuzzi, and was told no, there were no other rooms available.  I pointed out that I had specifically asked for the Jacuzzi, had moved from the Marriott on the assurance that I'd have one, and I was very unhappy.  They compensated me by reducing the room rate to $100/night.  Daughter was hyperventilating.  That was a warning I missed.

A few minutes later, as we passed the desk on the way out to find dinner, Daughter stopped at the desk and .... I don't know how to describe it ... she had an emotional  breakdown and said she couldn't stay in that room because there was no place she could be alone, there was no retreat, could she have another room for herself.  I was very embarrassed, and nodded to the clerk and told her to put it on my tab.  They gave Daughter another room, FREE.

After Daughter walked away, I told the clerk that this is NOT your problem to fix, it's our problem, my Daughter is nuts, so please put her room on my credit card, but they said no, it's ok.   I just wish Daughter had said something to me earlier.  We could have moved entirely to two adjoining rooms.  (I especially felt bad the next day, when I overheard one of their regular customers being turned away, because they were full, no rooms available.)  So I ended up with the family suite all by myself.  

[Embarrassed much?  Look like one of those city folks who walk in and start demanding all kinds of free stuff?]

That pretty much set the tone.  I should have gone alone.


The town has changed a lot.  It's surrounded by battlefield where nothing can be built, so the town has expanded by getting a lot more dense.  There was very little that I recognized.  Fifty years ago it was a sleepy little rural town that sort of woke up a little every summer when the tourists came, but there was little in the town itself that primarily catered to tourists.  Mostly, they just tolerated them.  In fact, there was just one chain hotel, a few small family-owned motels, and people who took in guests in the summer for some extra cash.  Now there are huge hotels all over the place.  Shops that primarily catered to the needs of townfolk and farmers now seem to be geared toward tourists, all antiques or artsy-fartsy.  

Actually, the middle of town is beautiful.  And then I remembered that last year was the 150th anniversary of the battle, so I'll bet all the sandblasting, restored and refurbished storefronts, fancy lampposts, and the huge planters everywhere were federally funded.

I found my old apartment building, the diner where I ate dinner almost every evening with six to eight students crammed into my booth with me, the location of the trailer I moved into after the fire at the apartment (that location, which used to be on the alley behind an apartment building, is now an extension of the hospital), and some other things.  But mostly I recognized very little.  

The past mostly isn't there any more, it's been papered over.


Before anyone yells at me about the filth of hotel Jacuzzis, I have a way to handle that.   I pack a small bottle of Clorox.  Fill the tub up to the intakes, pour in half the bleach, run it for a few seconds, and then let it sit for about 15-20 minutes, run it again for a few seconds, then drain it.  If there was anything floating after after the second running (which I have seen only once in 30 Jacuzzis, The Man loves a Jacuzzi), just do the process again.  It is now safe.  Go out for dinner and by the time you return the bleach odor is gone.


Another odd thing happened.  I had a memory of a section of road heading out of New Jersey into an unknown state, where the road crosses a bridge over a steep-sided river gorge, into a wonderland of small heavily wooded mountains piled one on another.  Beautiful.  It's been driving me crazy for the past few years because I didn't know where it was, couldn't remember where I might have been driving from or to, or even when.  I just wanted to find that piece of road again.

It got to be an obsession.  Several times over the past year I went to Google maps street view and followed almost every major road out of New Jersey in every direction, especially those that crossed a river near the state line.  No luck.

Going to Gettysburg, I let the GPS guide me.  And there it was!  It's Interstate 78 west, over the Delaware River.  I still have no idea when I might have taken that route in the past.  Maybe I dreamed of it. 

Returning, the GPS took me a different route, via the Pa turnpike, and the NJ turnpike.

Odd.  Like I was meant to find it.  Odder still, my memory was of heading west over the gorge. Had I returned by that route heading east, I might not have recognized it.