Saturday, December 12, 2015

5036 Screwed up the MRD

Saturday, December 12, 2015

If all your friends are fat, there are no seesaws, only catapults.
 – Demetri Martin –


Lately I've been sleeping oddly.  I go to bed very early, then read in bed or do logic puzzles for an hour or two, fall asleep, then I awaken again somewhere between 2 and 5 am, read or puzzle some more, fall asleep again, and wake in the morning.  Last night I woke up about 2 am, started to read, and decided I wanted something to eat.  So I came downstairs, and while munching on crackers and peanut butter, I puttered around on the computer.  I was still mulling over why the 401K folks seemed surprised that I asked more more than the Minimum Required Distribution on the 401K, so I looked some stuff up.

Well, it turns out I had been given bad advice several months ago, when I was looking into the requirements for taking the MRD (a.k.a.RMD) from my 401K and the IRAs.  The amount one has to take depends on the account balances from 12/31 of the previous year, and a percentage from IRS tables.  I had been told by my financial advisers that I could add up the accounts, arrive at the total MRD, and then take all of it from any one of the accounts, or a bit from each, or any combination, as long as the total came out to the required minimum --- and back then I found nothing online that disputed that.  So I added it all up, and took it all from the 401K.

Surprise.  I found a very recent article that says that you cannot combine the 401K with IRAs.  You can combine several IRA balances and take money from any of them, but a 401K has to be handled separately.  You have to take the 401K's MRD only from the 401K, and you can't take any IRA MRDs from the 401K.

Crap.  If I hadn't found that, I'd have been hit with major tax penalty for not having taken any MRD from the IRAs!

So, I did that at 3 am.  I took the required amount from each of the IRAs.  The IRS will have nothing to complain about.

I'm still a bit confused about why I have to pay a 20% tax "penalty" on the "excess" over the required minimum I took from the 401K.  I thought this was my retirement account, and that I'm now old enough to be able to take as much as I want out of there whenever I want --- whatever I need to live on, right?  It likely has to do with what portion is "tax free", and anything over that is taxed as income.  But I ran the numbers, and if I were to take only the minimum every year, that account wouldn't be drained until I'm 115 years old.  I'm not likely to live that long.

BTW, there's no penalty if I take money out of the 401K and roll it over into an IRA, and then I can take all I need from the IRA whenever I need it, taxed as normal income.  No penalty.  I think.  I'll have to look into that next year.

5035 A present for me?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

"Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. 
To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom."
~Bertrand Russell~


The hot thing for the younger crowd this year is the "hoverboard", somehow tied in its advertising to the Back to the Future franchise, which makes the kids lust for it.

Bullpoopy!  It has nothing whatsoever to do with hovering.  It's basically a cheaper Segway with smaller wheels and no upright.  Another difference between this thing and the Segway is that anyone can use a Segway smoothly almost immediately, while the "hoverboard" requires that you survive its multiple attempts to kill or maim you.

I sneer at you, "hoverboard"!

That got me thinking about the Segway.  I've wanted one since they first came out.  Are they still making them?  Do they still cost as much as a small slightly used car?    Answers: Yes, and yes.  Also they're so heavy and the wheels on them are so large they can't be put in a car trunk easily, which limits their versatility.

But, wandering around the web looking up deals on Segways, I found a little thing called a QBOT (  It's like a Segway but much smaller than the Segway, a bit slower, weighs only 35 lbs, and isn't so good "offroad".  But it's cute!  I can get it in pink, which makes it almost theft-proof.  And it costs a third or less of the Seqway's price.

I am very very tempted.

Friday, December 11, 2015

5034 Diary - 401K RMD, Met Life - Ignore

Friday, December 11, 2015

I guess I've got to start using this as a diary again.  After I got off the phone, after an hour and fifteen minutes with the Fidelity rep arranging for them to issue my 401K RMD check, I was feeling really good about having completed two big tasks, and then realized I couldn't remember what the first of those tasks was.  So I guess I'd better write it down for future reference.

1. I arranged for changing the beneficiary on Ex#2's life insurance (which I own and pay the premiums on), from me to Daughter.  I don't know what MetLife's problem was, but it took three days, including several abortive attempts at the website, and two phone discussions with reps.  What I have accomplished so far is the printing out of the forms - 9 pages!  Nine pages of details I have to locate.  Heck, I don't remember when his birthday is!  And I don't know his phone number.  Luckily, I do have his SS#.  (Daughter can probably provide some of what I need, but I didn't want her to know I was changing it over to her because back when I told her I intended to, she shrugged and told me to just drop the policy.)  MetLife isn't making this easy.

2. I have to withdraw the Required Minimum Distribution from my IRAs and 401K.  I don't have to take the RMD from each, I can take whatever the total works out for all three from any one of them.  So I'm taking it all from my 401K because they are the easiest to deal with.   However, they figured out how much I am supposed to take from them ONLY, so they are considering the excess I'm taking as a simple early withdrawal which I am not rolling over, and therefore they have to send 20% of the excess to the IRS as punishment.   I don't understand.  By taking it all from the 401K and not touching the IRAs, I AM in effect rolling it over without actually transferring the money --- but there's nothing I can do about it except turn the mess over to the Angel and he can probably get it refunded to me at tax time.

Nothing is easy anymore.

I guess it's not just me.  Daughter mentioned in passing the other day that she was spending an exorbitant amount of time on a simple Amazon return.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

5033 Bits

Thursday, December 10, 2015

"[T]he more a person deems absolute equality among all people to be a desirable condition, 
the further left he or she will be on the ideological spectrum. 
The more a person considers inequality to be unavoidable or even desirable, 
the further to the right he or she will be. 

-- Roderick Stackelberg,  Hitler's Germany, Routledge, 1999, pp. 4–6 --


Cat Allergy

When Jay and I started dating, I had Siddy Kitty. Jay was highly allergic to cats.  The membranes in his nose swelled, the whites of his eyes turned red, and the membrane that covers the eyeball, the conjuntiva, would swell so badly it actually hung out over his lower eyelid in a blob.  All he had to do was walk into the house.  This was a bit of a problem.  I also had two dogs at the time, but they didn't bother him.

I found some kind of stuff somewhere, I forget what it was called (it was probably similar to Allerpet), a liquid that when put on the cat did something to reduce the allergens.  I scrubbed Siddy down with it about every other day at first.  I'd put some in a bowl, sop a sponge in it, then rub her all over with the sponge.  She LOVED it!  There's no way you'd ever get her into a bath (and live), but she thought being rubbed down with a sponge was wonderful.  It was like Mommy was licking her all over with a sponge tongue.

It worked beautifully.  Jay's non-reaction was immediate, and he and Siddy got to be best snuggle buddies.

Gradually I reduced the scrubbings to every three days, then every four days, then once a week, trying to find out how long the effects lasted.  Within another two months or so, I was frequently forgetting to do it, then one day I realized Siddy hadn't been doused in months, and Jay still wasn't reacting.  We stopped, and even after we got Miss Thunderfoot, a long-hair with skin problems, Jay no longer reacted.

I have no idea what happened.  His earlier reactions were so extreme, and he said he'd always been that way around cats.  Did his allergy simply go away?  Was there a psychological component to the allergy such that when he fell in love with Siddy it went away?

I'd still love to know.


Christman Lights

They've been going up all around here since the day after Thanksgiving.  Nugget and I have wandered around in the car looking at them.  She gets so excited.  I noticed something new this year.  In previous years I had seen nets of lights that people spread over shrubs and small trees.  This year some houses look like they have nets of lights spread over the whole front of the house, hundreds of tiny green and red lights.  I wondered if you hang the netting from the eaves, or what?  Then my neighbor across the street got them.  The front of their house is narrow, and the web covered the whole front, including across the front door.  I wondered how they'd get in the house.  Then I saw someone walk up to the door, and the lights were across his back --- oh, it's a projector!

Silly old lady.  Get with the times!

That seems so easy.  If I did Christmas stuff at all, I'd definitely go that route.

There's some weird overspill from the projector across the street.  I have seven or eight tiny dots of red and green on the north end of my house, running up the garage to the house roof.  I wonder, if you point the projector up to the sky, what would it look like from a plane?



I like to give peanuts to the neighborhood squirrels.  I used to stand on the porch and call them, "Squiggy!  Squiggy!", and they'd come running for the peanuts on the lawn and driveway.  Some were getting bold enough to come within a few inches of me to beg.  Then the blue jays figured out what "Squiggy" meant, and they started showing up, within seconds of my calling.  The jays would call each other, and pretty soon it was getting nasty, with jays dive bombing squirrels and squabbling over the peanuts.  So I had to stop calling.  I just threw peanuts when I saw squirrels nearby, and stopped when I heard the first jay call.

This year there's something strange about the squirrels.  There don't seem to be many big chubby mature squirrels.  They all seem to be very small and young.  Where did all the older ones go?  Hercules says a fox has been seen, but foxes would seem to have an more of an effect on the cat and rabbit population than on the squirrels.  There's one little squirrel who has a thin scrawny tail.  I worry about him.  That stick of a tail isn't going to keep him warm when it gets cold.  I try to throw peanuts to him, but he always runs away.


Other Stuff

I have lots of opinions on lots of stuff, but I try not to write anything that will just upset me more.  Gotta wait for it to simmer down a bit more.  But there's the van, Met Life, France, politicians, aaaagggghhh!  I'm getting annoyed already.  Need more time to pass.

[Drops mike....]

Thursday, November 26, 2015

5032 I love me a marching band.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

I haven't watched a holiday parade on TV in ages, so I didn't realize how coverage of the parades has changed.  I love marching bands, especially high school bands, military bands, and police/fire department bands.  I love the sound and the precision.

10:20  We're 20 minutes into the NYC parade, and I'm getting very frustrated.  CBS is showing every balloon and every advertising float, but every time a marching band comes down the street they cut away to reporters nattering to each other or to somebody who has something to sell, or to commercials.  There have already been a jillion commercials.

And what's with these stage shows?  What do they have to do with a parade?

I am disgusted.

10:25  Whoa!  They just showed a high school band!  Well, a little of it.  They were moving FAST -- almost trotting.  
10:35  I wish the reporters would just SHUT UP!


All of this reminds me of my high school band experience.

The school I graduated from went from kindergarten to 12th grade in the one building, and there was a total of about 200 kids altogether.  Of that, about 80 were in high school (we were top-heavy because there were a few small Catholic schools that went up to eighth grade), and of that 80, about half were in the marching band. 

There was one other school in the northern reaches of the county, but they didn't have a marching band, just a small concert band, so we represented the county in all parades in all surrounding counties.   We won almost all competitions because we were the only band that actually played while marching.  All the others had to stop to play.  The uniforms were red pants and jackets with gold braid and bucket hats.

And then it all changed.

In my junior year, the county announced that they were consolidating the two public schools, and  building a new facility for the junior and senior high school classes ... which didn't seem to make a lot of sense to a lot of people because that meant some kids would be on the school bus for at least an hour each way, twice a day.  My class was going to be the last to graduate from our old school.

Also, somewhere in that period, the old music teacher retired, and we got a new woman.

She decided that the old uniforms with pants were not appropriate for the females in the band, so she ordered expensive new white wool skirts and jackets for the girls, with red berets ...  which didn't make a lot of sense since no one knew what the colors for the new school would be, and both bands would have to consolidate somehow, and with the boys in red and the girls in white, we lost the uniformity.  Plus, most of the parades were in the winter, and up there on the plateau it was COLD, often below zero, and the girls' legs froze.  (We majorettes were in skirts, but we at least could keep constantly moving.)

Something else that didn't make any sense, they stopped recruiting new members into the band.  The excuse we were given was the consolidation, but we all knew that the real reason was that the new music teacher didn't know how to teach any instrument beyond her beloved violin.  So over the next two years as members graduated, the band got smaller and smaller.

Plus, and this was the absolute worst, she changed the (I don't know the word for it) pace we marched to.  She decided we had to quick-step, apparently the latest fad.  Which meant we could no longer play while marching.

We all, kids and parents, hated her.  But I guess being a small school in the mountains in the middle of nowhere, she was the best they could get. 

We still won competitions, though, because without discussing it with her, the band whistled our old playlist as they marched.  She didn't like it, but she couldn't stop them.

My senior year we were down to three majorettes.  Sandra and Sharon and me.  Sandra and Sharon were tall, and I was short, so the teacher decided I should be the drum major, out in front with the big silver whistle and the bucket hat with the tall feathered plume.  I was so short the plume looked silly, so that was ditched.  But I got to blow the whistle for stops and turns and roll-off.  That was fun.

So, my class, the "last class from Turnpike High", graduated.  Over the next summer, the brand new building that everyone was supposed to be moving into, collapsed.  The foundation crumbled.  It was a complete loss.  It turned out someone had been siphoning off the construction money, and all the cement and concrete was mostly sand.

Nobody was surprised.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

5031 Frusty

Sunday, November 8, 2015

So now everybody is down on candidate Carson for saying he had been offered a scholarship to West Point, because "everyone knows that West Point is free for anyone accepted."  I've heard people I had heretofore considered intelligent snorking about it.  "Yeah, scholarship.   Snork."

Yes, Ben Carson has said some very weird stuff, but this isn't one of them.

What else do you call an offer of free tuition and room and board at an institute of higher education?  Last I heard, that's called a full scholarship.  Sheesh!  You really don't have to stretch that far to find stuff to razz him about.


"Sunday Morning" did a story this morning on a guy who carves the lettering on monuments.  You know, I'd never thought about it.  I guess I'd assumed it was done with some kind of machine, like a thingy you slap on there, and it routs out the letters according to a platten you put in it.

The country house is near the Catskills and the beginnings of the Adirondacks, so there are a lot of old mountain house resorts scattered around, many of which are now nothing more than foundations lost in the woods.  The resorts were built on the tops of mountains, with bare granite outcroppings from which you can see for miles. Those views are popular destinations for hikers.

Back in the 18th to early 20th centuries wealthy families would spend the whole summer at the resorts.

What I found fascinating about those outcroppings was the graffiti.  OLD graffiti. Names and dates, initials, entire classical quotations, some in Latin or Greek, carved into the granite.  I suspect it was likely young men bored out of their minds --- rich, classically educated young men with a lot of time to fill.   The work was not just scratchings.  It's that "V" shaped chiseling of straight letters with capitols, exactly as seen now on monuments.  Excellent work.

Of  course, there's modern graffiti here and there, too.  In spray paint and barely decipherable.  Made by youth who couldn't compose a Latin phrase to save their lives (except maybe E Pluribus Unum, but even then they would likely misspell it, even if they have a quarter in their pocket).

If ghosts could laugh, the mountains would ring.


Thursday, November 05, 2015

5030 Not difficult to understand

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Looking at the field of presidential candidates, I wonder why they are in general so ... bad.  Many of them are just plain weird in their opinions and proposals.  Very few of them come across as thinkers.

Then I realized it's completely understandable why no intelligent, aware, educated, accomplished, thinking person who wants to better the lives of the people would want to run for the office.  I mean, who in their right mind would volunteer to deal with what Congress has become?

That leaves the field open for people who just want the power and glory of the title, or who want to push their own narrow agendas and prejudices.

Out of the whole field, there are maybe two whom I could vote for without holding my nose, and even then it would be without hope.


If you disagree, tell me who you think is a decent candidate, and why.  Maybe you could sway me. (No, I won't tell you who my two might be.)

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

5029 Weird-oween

Tuesday, October 3, 2015

I wish there was some way to estimate how many kids would show up for Hallowe'en, and when.  Last year we had a gazillion, all between 5 and 9 pm.  This year there were very few.  They started showing up at 2 (!!!???) and I wasn't at all ready, and it was all over by 7.  I don't understand.

I don't like to hand out candy.  The past few years I had LED blinking rings and bracelets, and for boys who didn't want "jewelry" I had tiny LED fingertip flashlights.  They went over well.  This year I had one bowl with 12-count boxes of Crayola sidewalk chalk, and another bowl full of whistles and kazoos, sitting on the porch.  Kids could choose one from the bowl of chalk, OR two or three items from the bowl of whistles.

At least half the "kids" were at least 15, many older. Half!  Even worse, on three occasions, the MOTHERS came up with a batch of little kids and the MOTHERS ALSO GRABBED STUFF OUT OF THE BOWLS!  Handfuls of stuff from BOTH bowls!  Carefully not looking at me!  That completely blew my mind!

I think next year I might put up a little sign:

 "If you are taller than I am, forget it."

I had moved a chair out onto the porch, set up a space heater to blow on me, and settled down with a book.  I did get quite a bit of reading done.  There was a lot of time that there was no one on the street.

The Nugget came to my house early, grabbed a kazoo, and ran back home, whence she and her mother drove off, not to be seen again for hours.  Turns out they'd gone to another neighborhood to make the rounds there with friends.

Rapunzel, at the nursery school costume parade on Friday:

The wig is a bit too far back on her forehead, so her own hair is peeking out, but that was almost necessary to keep it out of her eyes.  The wig reached to her knees in the back.  (She looks good blonde.)  That wig cost me less than $20 new on eBay, including shipping, and it really looks great (when it's combed), with natural color variation and a natural-looking part.  It was a surprise how nice it looked when it arrived.  I was expecting it to look like fake hair, but it doesn't.   I just might get another one for me.

The nursery school kids marched around the parking lot.  The day before, Daughter had told me that Nugget didn't want to be in the parade.  I asked why, and Daughter said, "She's shy."   Duh?  I never noticed shyness in her.

Anyway, Daughter was late (she's always late, everywhere, for everything) and didn't arrive until the parade was over and the kids were just lined up for photos, so I'm glad I was there to wave at Rapunzel in the parade.  Nugget was amazing.  Notice her hands in the second photo above.  She was marching like she was a beauty queen perched on the back deck of a white convertible, flashing a genuine smile the whole way, and waving both hands at the adoring crowd.  All she was missing was a sheaf of roses.

Shy, my eye.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

5028 Lip reading

Thursday, October 29, 2015

There's some bunch out there taking videos, deleting the audio, and replacing it with lip-readings.  This video is so funny.  The new audio really does seem to be what the candidates are saying.


There's some real skill involved here, to both "read" what seems to fit the mouth movements, AND make it make sense (sort of).

Monday, October 26, 2015

5027 Super Snork

Monday, October 26, 2015

The new Supergirl show was on tonight.  I watched The Big Bang Theory, and Supergirl was on right after it, so I just left the TV on, figured I'd give it a chance.

It started out ok, but then they brought in a bunch of criminal aliens with superpowers and otherworldly technology, which includes weapons that look like something a 10-year-old boy would design and Worf would carry, and all kinds of explosions, so I lost interest in the second half. 

Calista Flockhart is Kara (Supergirl)'s rich bitch witchy boss.  I was pleased to see her, I wondered what happened to her after Allie McBeal.  Jimmy Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) turns up in Kara's office, yeah, THAT Jimmy Olsen, except now he goes by James since Jimmy got all grown up and smooth and sexy and deep-voiced, and he's now black.  If I ever watch the show again, it'll be for him and Calista.

The snork part?  Kara takes off her glasses, and one of her male coworkers says, "You're really pretty without your glasses."

I HATE THAT!!!  I wanted to reach through the screen and strangle him.  I heard that so many many times in my youth.  One time in college a guy actually took my glasses right off my face in the Husky Lounge and then wouldn't give them back, because, "I like looking at you without glasses."  I wanted to kill him.  At that time my vision was 20/350.  I was legally blind.  Anything past 18 inches was a blur.  I was furious.

When I got a little older I learned how to handle that comment.  Some guy would say, "You look so pretty without your glasses" and I would smile sweetly and respond, "You look so handsome without my glasses."

Friday, October 23, 2015

5026 Up in the air

Friday, October 23, 2015

Whoa!  It's been a while since I visited here.  In the meantime, I've figured out a few of those noises in post 5021.  The microwave sounding beeps are probably people with remote keys locking and unlocking cars.  That explains the "bip bip" ones, but doesn't fully explain the "bip     bip-bip-bip     bip" ones. 

The loud crash during the night was the curtains and rod falling in the master bedroom, a closed room I seldom enter.  The curtains in that room are on a pressure rod that fits inside the frame, so I guess some temperature differential caused it to no longer hold.  I've had problems with those curtains before.  The second bedroom, where I sleep, has the same curtains on the same type of rod, but they've never fallen.  (I don't sleep in the master bedroom because that room is cold and drafty.)

I haven't been to the country house in a long time, and that's starting to gnaw at me.  The packed overnight bag has been in the trunk of the car for so long that I'll have to bring it back in and replace the light short sleeved things with heavier long sleeved stuff.  It seems like every time I plan to go, something happens to stop me.  This week I was absolutely determined to go, and then on Wednesday Ex#2 collapsed and was taken by ambulance to the ER, so Daughter ran off to south Jersey, and I had the Nugget.

Apparently he has some kind of blood infection, whatever that means.   They have him on antibiotics.  He wants to leave the hospital.  He's not entirely reasonable.

I really don't understand how that man is still alive.  I hear that he falls down all the time, but refuses to use his walker.  His diabetes is out of control.  His feet are so swollen they are like rockers, but he won't eat anything but ice cream.  He lives in an efficiency apartment attached to the big farmhouse (which he owns) where his sister, her divorced son and divorced daughter, her divorced daughter's ex-husband, and one or two of her grand children all live, and they are being driven crazy by him.  He's incontinent both ways, but refuses to wear diapers, is incapable of cleaning himself up, refuses to bathe, and refuses to have a daily health care worker in to assist.  An assisted living facility is absolutely out of the question.  He even refuses physical therapy.  And yet he declares he intends to live forever.

Daughter asked for and got a psych evaluation in the hospital so somebody else can make decisions for him, but they haven't heard the results yet.  I warned her that even the most out-of-it people can somehow pull it all together and sound perfectly reasonable for the few minutes that takes -- we went through that with Jay's father -- so we can't count on that.  But Daughter and the sister did at least get him to agree to a home care aide while the rest of the family are at work or school, so that's something.  Daughter doesn't have very high hopes for that because he gets mad and yells at anyone who tries to get him to do anything he doesn't want to do, and she's afraid they'll just quit,  but I told her that these aides are used to working with people like that and will know how to handle him.  I hope I'm right.

So, a lot of my schedule is up in the air.  Being available to Daughter is always a higher priority than the country house. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

5025 I figured it out!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Don't tell Peapod, but I figured out how to use the limited-time coupons they send me.

You can place an order, and select a date and time in the future for delivery, and check out.  Then up until late afternoon or evening of the day before delivery, you can continue to add stuff to the order.  Usually I schedule delivery for the day or two after I place the order.  I place an order for $120 to $200 about every three or four weeks.  (Yeah, I don't eat much, especially since that includes household staples, too.)

A few days after my order is delivered, they email me a coupon for X dollars off my next order over $100.  However, that coupon usually expires within two weeks or so, and I'm not going to need another $100 worth of groceries within that time frame, so I seldom have an opportunity to use the coupon.  Very frustrating.

I accidentally found a way around that!

I placed my order last week and went through checkout, for delivery this Thursday.  In the meantime I have been adding things as I run out of this or that or I think of something else.

Today, they sent me a coupon for my "next order", with the usual short expiration date.  Apparently their system didn't notice that although I had checked out last week, I had not yet received this order.  So, when I added another item today, I tried the coupon, and it worked!

From now on I'm going to start the order well ahead of delivery, so I can exploit that loophole.

Don't tell Peapod.

Monday, October 12, 2015

5024 Gun control blather

Monday, October 12, 2015

I don't understand why there's so much talk about gun control at a federal level.  That's absolutely unconstitutional, but not for the reasons people think. 

When the second amendment was written, the states very much considered themselves individual entities.  You know, that "states' rights" thing?  They each had their own government.  They were jealous of any power another state might have, and that's why the District of Columbia was created.  They didn't want to be completely subservient to a federal government, and that's why many of them insisted on the first ten amendments before they would ratify the new constitution.  It was to be a union of states for purposes of defense, trade, major projects and the like, not a homogeneous country with counties or departments, like England or France or whatever.  That's why the name is The United States, not just Columbia or something.

The individual states figured they had a right to self-defense, defense from any internal or external threat, whether it be natives, another land-grabbing state, another country, or even the federal government, so they had a right to maintain their own defenders.  States had their own militias.  Look at the military companies fighting in the Civil War.  They fought under the union or confederate banner, but each company carried the name of their state.  They were members of their state militias.

So a state is constitutionally allowed to have and maintain their own "well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State".  That's what it says.  It's plain English and doesn't even need interpretation.  It refers to a state (not referring to the federal "state", but to a state as understood then) and its need for defense.  A state can define a militia in any way they want.  I don't understand why so many people are confused by the "well regulated militia" words in the amendment.  It simply means that states are allowed to arm themselves, the federal government can't mess with that, and the states are allowed to define who makes up that militia and how it's regulated.  The militia  can even consist of every person in the state capable of wielding a club, and at one time, in many states, it was.  And the state can regulate that militia any way its people decide.

That means if a state decides everyone in the state with a gun is a member of the militia, they can regulate it any way the people of that state decide.

So gun control is a states' issue, not a federal issue.  And the states have every right to regulate guns.

Now that's all well and good and pretty clear.  But after the Civil War, in a series of confusing and contradictory decisions, the SCOTUS redefined it as an individual right that even the states can't infringe upon, and that's when it got all messed up.

The Feds were pretty bummed by the whole Civil War thing.  The general consensus was that this "states' rights" stuff was a load of crap and had to be stomped a bit.  Maybe the states needed to be reminded who's boss.


I also hold an unpopular opinion on the Civil War.  

My opinion is that the southern states had every right to secede from the union.  The federal government was dead wrong to use force to stop them.  That doesn't mean I in any way agree with their reasons for secession, just that I believe they had every right to leave the club if they wanted to.  I don't believe the original intent of forming a union was to create a national homeowners' association where the only way to get out is to emigrate or die.  Do you suppose that if the northeastern states knew that once they joined the union, they could never ever get out, that they would have joined?  Nah.  We'd have a country called New England up there in that corner.  Those folks were fiercely independent.  They'd want the right to take their ball and go home if they had to, to maintain that independence. 

The states need some way to control the arrogance of the federal government.  Threat of secession is the most drastic option, but other means are built in.  Note that it's not the people who elect federal officials, it's the states.  The state legislatures actually control who gets elected to federal offices, and it was designed that way.  The Electoral College, for example, is very unpopular, but getting rid of it will weaken states' rights and give more power to the Federal government.  States are (or perhaps were) not even required to hold general elections for federal offices.  They just do it to gauge the preferences of their populace so they don't have a mob burning down the state capitol buildings.

You can take this all as blather, but I hope maybe someone will think about it.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

5023 Criteria

Sunday, October 11, 2015

I found this interesting.  Common motifs, disputed vociferously by some, especially by those who have turf to protect.

Horus, Egypt, 3000 BC
Born in early winter
Born of a virgin
Star in the east
Adored by three kings
Teacher at 12
Baptized and began ministry at 30
12 disciples
Performed miracles
Was known as the Lamb of God and The Light
Dead for three days

Mithra, Persia, 1200 BC
Born in early winter
Born of a virgin
12 disciples
Performed miracles
Dead for three days
Weekly holy day for worship

Attis, Greece, 1200 BC
Born in early winter
Born of a virgin
Dead for three days

Dionysus, Greece, 1000 BC
Born in early winter
Born of a virgin
Performed miracles
Was called "King of Kings" and "Alpha and Omega"

Krishna, India, 900 BC
Born in early winter
Born of a virgin
Star in the east
Performed miracles

One gets the feeling that humans have certain requirements for religious leaders/founders, certain innate criteria, and that those leaders seemed to be conforming --- or at least their followers and chroniclers were.

Another explanation could be that God kept trying, at various times and in various areas, sticking to a pattern that seemed to appeal.

It is the nature of humans to absorb, twist, embellish, and then incorporate whatever makes a story more exciting.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

5022 Start Picking!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

We got a notice from the township yesterday that we are to rake leaves to the curb, and the town trucks will be by this Monday to suck them up.

Has no one in the town hall noticed that the leaves are still on the trees?

5021 Noises in the night

Saturday, October 10, 2015

This house has strange noises at night.  Noises that I don't hear during the day.  It's not that I don't hear them in daytime because of the radio or TV being on, because I don't have anything on during the day.  Conditions are pretty much the same.  Except it's nighttime, and dark.

One is the sound of microwave buttons.  Know that beep beep when you set the timer?  All through the night I hear occasional sets of three or four beeps, exactly as if someone is setting a microwave.  I don't know where it's coming from. 

I hear the siding contracting as it cools off, but I recognize that.  I hear the ductwork expanding as it heats up, and I recognize that.  I hear the click as the furnace goes on and off.  But I also hear solid clicks, and bumps, and creaks that I can't identify. 

Last night there was a loud crash, definitely inside the house, downstairs, as if a stack of books fell off a shelf.  Jasper was sleeping on the bed by my feet, so it wasn't him, and, oddly, he didn't react to it.  I checked around this morning and don't see anything that would explain it. 

If the house were bigger and with mystery rooms or a basement or empty closets, I'd think maybe I have someone else living here who comes out only at night.  You hear about that once in a while.  But there's no spot anywhere here where a person could hide, especially not downstairs.

I'm beginning to think I have a ghost.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

5020 Old.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A few days ago, I went into the bathroom.  I was wearing a very full long caftan and over it a large bulky also long cape/shawl sweater thingy.  I gathered it all up in front of me so it wouldn't dunk in the water, with great difficulty, because the cape was long in the back and both sides, with fringes.  I sat down and did my thing, and it was awfully .... wet.  I had forgotten to pull my panties down.

I suddenly felt very old.

I've never done that before.  I mentioned it to Daughter, and she blushed and confessed that she had occasionally done the same thing.  So, maybe it's not old.  Just distraction?

On the other hand, I've been watching a lot of BBC historical documentaries.  Two of them involved Queen Victoria.  I'm noticing a distressing similarity in the mirror to post-Albert Victoria.

Oh dear.

(She was a few inches taller than I and only a few pounds heavier - but I don't look that big, do I?  I've GOT to change my hairstyle!  And stop wearing the damn crown!)

I am reminded of something a wise man told me once about how a man feels about a woman:
- he is attracted to the way she looks,
- intrigued by the way she thinks,
- charmed by the way she acts,
- and falls in love with the way she makes him feel.
Forty years later, when she's wrinkled, jowly, thickened, and saggy, well, three out of four ain't bad.

5019 Vote for Science

Thursday, October 8, 2015


Tuesday, October 06, 2015

5018 Recycling Anger

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

I am very angry at (with?) the township.

Several weeks ago we got notice that all recyclables, collected twice a month, were to be put out in either closed lidded containers or in clear plastic bags.  I had been using an open container -- a hip-high kitchen trash can.  It was light enough for me to easily carry out, and big enough to hold everything.

Well, there's nothing with a good lid that would be convenient for me.  I'd almost need something I could wheel out, and all the wheeled thingies are too big, so I decided to go the clear plastic bag route.

I visited several stores before I concluded that there's no such thing (not in stores around here, anyway) as a clear kitchen-sized trash bag.  Not to mention that even if there had been a space on the shelves labelled for clear bags, everyone in the township was looking for them.  I finally bought some clear bags in a hardware store, but they're sized for yard waste, and are ridiculously huge.  Also ridiculously expensive.  But it was the last box, so I bought them and used them for one collection, realized they were ridiculous, and then went looking online.  Found the right stuff on Amazon.  Used the Amazon ones for the second collection.

The third collection since being told to use clear plastic bags is tomorrow.

Today, late this afternoon, we all got phone calls and alert emails from the township.  Recycle materials must be put in closed containers only.  "Plastic bags will not be picked up." 

Changing horses with less than one day's notice.

You could hear the swearing all up and down the street.

The phone call was a recording, but I swore at it anyway.  Loudly.


I thought hard about what I could use and finally remembered that I had two of those old green Rubbermaid stackable recycle bins in the garage, the kind with the sloping flaps on the top front.  I don't remember why I'd kept them all these years, haven't seen them actually used since recycling started three or four decades ago. But, they DO have lids....

So I put my stuff in them and put them out (paper in one, glass, plastic, and cans in the other).  I hope the guys recognize them for what they are, and don't toss the entire recycle bins themselves into the truck, too.  I also have corrugated cardboard (cut, flattened, bundled and tied, as ordered!) sitting next to them, and six huge kitty litter jugs all tied together by their handles (which they may or may not take, although they are #2, but they're not in a "closed container", sigh), so it would be easy for the guys to just throw everything in without thinking.

I'm going to have to watch for them to make sure the right things go and the wrong things don't.  They come anywhere between 7:30 am and 3:00 pm.


Monday, October 05, 2015

5017 No gun for you...

October 5, 2015

Gun control is once again an issue (being diverted to mental health by politicians), and I've been reading some arguments, none of which have any effect whatsoever, of course.  I am reminded of my experience with gun control measures.

I spent my high school years on a military base.  I used to go to the firing range with the airmen.  I got to be very good with a light hand gun.  They tested me once, and I scored sharpshooter.  Very good.  When you're really good at something, you kinda like it.

You know, if you point at something with your index finger, no matter how far away it is you will point directly at the object.  Your index finger has excellent aim.  So when shooting, if you just consider the barrel to be your index finger, you'll be right on side to side.  One test shot will tell you what adjustment to make up or down.  Guns are a lot easier than arrows.  Arrows don't make good index fingers.

Anyway, in my 20s I missed target shooting.  There was also something else going on that made me want a gun, but really, I mainly wanted target shooting.  At that time in my life, I wanted to do something I was good at, and have people see me being good at something.

The central NY community I was living in at the time had a few target clubs.  There were no public ranges.  You needed a membership to shoot anything other than tin cans in a field.  So I checked, and all of the clubs wanted you to register your guns with them before they would issue membership.  You couldn't join without first owning a gun.  However, when I tried to buy a gun, I was told I had to show a gun club membership before they could sell me a handgun.  (Or a hunting license before buying a long gun, but again, you had to register your existing gun to get a hunting license.)

I don't know if this was a county law or state law, but it was a very effective Catch 22.  I never did get my gun.  And I still miss shooting.  Damn!

Saturday, October 03, 2015

5016 Is it the weather?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Holding resentment is like drinking poison
and expecting the other person to die.
It doesn't work.


Well, it's beginning to look like Joaquin isn't going to hit us.  But right now, and for the past few days and probably a few days more, we are experiencing a Nor'easter.  I gather that's what's pushing the hurricane out to sea, so I guess we can't complain much.  We're getting lots of rain and lots of wind.  I can't hear the wind in the house, but when I go out I can hear roaring.  There was a flock some kind of wide-winged soaring bird flying high this afternoon, and they were flying backward!  Facing east, but moving west.  Weird.

I noticed that sometimes the wind dropped, no movement in the trees, but the roaring went on.  I suspect some of the sound isn't wind in the trees at all.  I suspect it's surf.  Wind kicking the water around.  I'm not going to walk to the end of the street to find out for sure.


The recent shooting at that college in Oregon.  Apparently the guy did it because he wanted to be famous.  Get his name known.  So, yeah, let's not mention his name.  The media says after every instance that they shouldn't make these guys famous, and then they do.  Shrug.

I found a very good comment on the Field Negro's blog (I'm not going to link because his commenters past maybe the first five are ... assholes), but this early comment says some of what I'd like to say, so, here it is:

Anonymous said...

    Well, if it's already been decided we're not going to do anything about access to guns (the NRA appears to have decided this for us), then we're left attacking the motive for using them.

    But then, we run up against other complaints from some of the same wingnuts who resist gun control.

    If we want to do something about street crime, we've got to create a fairer economic climate so that everyone can earn a legitimate living. That means greater funding of education, industrial policy to develop poor urban and rural areas, better transportation to jobs, labor laws that boost the average worker's wages, etc. It also means reversing "tough-on-crime" [justice system] policy: ending the Drug War, less-punitive sentences for non-violent crime, incentivizing employers to look past ex-cons' records in hiring, etc.

    Inevitably, all of that stuff requires higher taxes and lower incomes for rich people and/or being "nice" to criminals, so that's a "no" from conservatives.

    On the other hand, if we want to reduce mass shootings, the main avenue is addressing mental illness. Yet, mental health care costs rich people money, so that's out, too.

    Thus so we're back to the usual completely ineffective conservative remedies: scold black people, recommend everyone get some more Jesus in their lives, bash immigrants. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    Same shit, different day.

I love the way people  like Jeb Bush say "nobody" knows how to fix it, so we can't.  Um, Jeb, there are several other developed countries who HAVE fixed it.  Listen to Obama's speech and you'll hear about them.  Nobody?

I figure one of the first things to do is to get special interest money out of the election process, so maybe our representatives can represent the people instead of _______________ (fill in the blank with the NRA, the Koch brothers, whatever you like, or don't like).  Other countries have been able to figure this out.  Don't know why we can't --- oh, yeah, look who we're asking to do the reforming....  ne'mind.  Hopeless.


The green quote at the top is random, but today I read it and think, "Yeah, well, what else can you do?"  The whole damn country is drinking poison.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

5015 Awwwww....Gramma's pause button

Sunday, September 27, 2015

"Be who you are and say what you feel,
because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
 -- Dr. Seuss --


I dropped the Nugget and her mommy and daddy at Newark Airport on Thursday.  Nugget was all excited at "going on VACATION!" and flying on an airplane and seeing alligators!  Her goodbye to me was rather perfunctory.  
Today I got a phone call from Florida, from a sobbing Nugget who missed her Gramma terribly.  Poor little thing.  There have been many times that I haven't seen her for a week at a time, and it never bothered either her or me, but I guess being in a strange place, being obviously far away, in obviously different surroundings, makes a difference.

When she's upset about something, she often wants to see Gramma.  I offhandedly mentioned to Daughter that I want to be a "safe haven" to Nugget.  Naturally, Daughter was offended by that.  It's not like I want to replace Daughter as Nugget's main haven, but that I want to be a safe place she can go where there's no pressure, no schedules, where she can relax completely and maybe even think things over in her own way.  I can be more indulgent than her parents.  Grammas are allowed.  There are no expectations.

So I think she's just a little overwhelmed right now, and wants to "hit pause".   Gramma has the pause button.


I have acquired (via Craig's List) a large, wide, blond wood-finish 3-drawer file cabinet.  I can maybe now dig my way out of the paper piles.  

All my life I've had a problem with paper.  At the country house we had four wide drawers, but still there were piles of paper everywhere.  The main problem was that I'd pay bills, or open mail, and then I didn't file stuff right away, because it took so long, and the reason it took so long was that there was a separate folder for everything.  An electric company folder.  One for phone stuff, one for each of the cars, separate ones for each of the insurance policies, separate ones for each bank account, for each stock, ... and so on, spread out over four drawers with three rows of hanging folders in each drawer, arranged alphabetically.  So filing was a royal pain.  Up, down, back, forth, over the drawers, for each piece of paper.  The greatest system in the world is literally useless if you don't use it.

Now that the only person I have to answer to is myself, I have simplified.
There's one folder for everything I pay every month.  It's labelled "Utilities", but it also includes credit card  bills.
One folder for all insurance policies, of any kind.
One folder for all bank statements.
One folder for everything having to do with investments.
One folder for all taxes.
One folder for all auto purchase and service records.
And so on.

It's kind of arranged by "when processed" grouping.  Monthly stuff, quarterly stuff, random stuff.  That way, when I pay the monthly bills, I can just gather up everything and put it in one place.  No sorting.  The bank statements usually arrive at about the same time.  Within the folders, nothing is sorted.  It's just a jumble.  If I ever have to pull together a history, it will be easy enough to just go through the jumble in the proper folder and pull out the pieces I need.

I'm starting to feel better.  Not just because I'm getting a handle on the mess, but now I might be able to actually find stuff.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

5014 Seasons, hearing, free rice.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Don't taunt the alligator until after you've crossed the creek.


You know how in old-timey stage shows, when there's a change of scenery, the painted backdrop falls with a thud?  Well, that's how seasons have been changing lately.  THUD, spring arrived.  THUD, summer's here.  THUD, it's autumn.  One day it was in the high 80s and steamy, and the next day it was low 70s and windy.  Thud.  I swear I heard the backdrop fall.


Ever since I entered my 50s I've been getting mail offers for hearing tests from hearing aid companies, at the rate of at least one a week.  It's annoying.

I watched some videos recently about what people in foreign countries find most annoying about American tourists, and the thing that comes up over and over is that they are so loud.  Americans seem to talk too loudly, laugh too loudly, shout at each other, on the streets, on buses, on trains, in pubs, in B&Bs, disturbing the peace of everyone around them and they don't even notice.

That's something I noticed here, and it does bother me.  At the old house, a rural area, even in town people are much quieter.  It's difficult to hear conversations in the next booth at the village diner.  Here I can hear the complete conversation between two neighbors five houses up the street.  The house across the street doesn't have good cell reception, so the woman who lived there would sit on her front steps to talk on the phone, and not only could I clearly hear every word she said, I could clearly hear the other person on the other end of the call.

So, I doubt I need those hearing tests, but I wonder if most Americans DO.


Please check out  It's run by some part of the U.N.  You can take tests in various disciplines, and every correct answer earns 10 grains of rice for starving folks somewhere.  I think they start you out with English vocabulary.  It starts out very simple, but then gets harder.  If you get one wrong, pay attention to the correct answer, because you will see it again.  So you learn some stuff, and send rice where it's needed.  Supposedly it's paid for by the advertisers, but I didn't see any ads....

My previous post on freerice, with more detail:

Monday, September 21, 2015

5013 Life advice from a six-year-old

Monday, September 21, 2015

"Those who can laugh without cause have either
found the true meaning of happiness
or have gone stark raving mad."
-- Norm Papernick --


This child is six.  Her parents are divorcing.  She's giving advice to her mother.  It's wonderful.


Transcript, courtesy of a commenter on the video:

Mum, are you ready to be his friend?
Try not to be that high up, to be friends.
I want everything to be low, okay? Just try your best, alright?.
I don't want you and my dad to be replaced, and... mean again.
I want you and my dad to be placed, and settled and be friends.
I'm not trying to be mean, I just want everyone to be friends.
And if I can be nice, I think all of us can be nice too.
I'm not trying to be mean but... I'm trying to do my best in my heart – nothing else than that.
I want you; mum, my dad – everyone – to be friends, I want everyone to be smiling, not like being mad.
I want everything... Smile.
When I see someone, I want them to smile, especially nana. Everyone. I want everyone to smile.
 And if that's for my dad, and you, mum, I think you can do it.
I think you can settle your mean heights, down a little - to short heights, then it's both, okay?
I'm not trying to be mean, I'm not trying to be a bully.
I'm trying to be steady, on the floor.
Not way down - on the straight, on the middle where my heart is.
My heart is something - everyone else's heart is something too.
And if we live in a world where everyone's being mean, there will be (nothing but) monsters in the future.
What if there's just a little bit of a person (left) And they're eat(ing away) at them. Then no one will ever be here, only the monsters in our place.
We need everyone to be a person. Everyone – including me. And my mum. Everyone.
I just want everything to be settled down.
Nothing else.
 I just want everything to be good as possible.
 Nothing else.

5012 I think I'll title all posts "Rambles"

Monday, September 21, 2015

"Few people can see genius in someone who has offended them."
 – Robertson Davies –


Since last spring, Daughter had been looking forward to visiting my sister in Florida this fall. 

Well, Daughter checked on flights, I guess in late spring, and, I don't know what she was looking at, but she said the tickets were a bazillion dollars each.  So Hercules decided no, they couldn't afford it.  Badda boom.  End of story.

When I asked her a few weeks ago when they were planning to go and she told me they weren't going, and why, I was devastated.  I hadn't realized until then that I was so excited about the idea, too.  I haven't been keeping in touch (no reason, I'm just a clod), and hadn't seen sweet Sister in years, and the thought of my daughter and Nugget visiting thrilled me in some way I can't explain.  

I was crushed.

So, I went online and checked on tickets myself.  Maybe the drop in gas prices has something to do with it, but all the flights were a hair over $200.  So I told her pish on Hercules -- I'll pay for Daughter and Nugget to go.  I'll even pay for a rental car.

Well, with that news, Hercules decided he'd go, too.  (I'm not paying for his ticket.  Pish on him.  I'm betting he's all excited about geocaching opportunities, not about Daughter seeing her aunt and Nugget meeting her great-aunt.  Pish on him!)

They leave next Thursday.  I'll drive them to the Newark airport and pick them up after.


A random reference to TMI, and what it used to mean.  

Things have changed.  In 1975 when I was pregnant with Daughter, proper maternity clothes were circus tents.  You weren't supposed to even hint at an outline, like you were supposed to pretend it was a secret or something.  I wore the proper tents to the office, but rebelled outside work.  With the hippie influence, flower power, Woodstock, things were changing. 

I had found a T-shirt with BABY in big letters across the bust, and a wide arrow pointing down, and it wasn't even a tent.  It hugged my belly.  I loved that thing and wore it everywhere.  At that time and place, it was original, unique.

And everywhere I went, I got frowns, sneers, and whispers behind hands from women, and averted eyes from men.  The shirt was absolutely disgusting to many, and they let me know.  This was, by the way, in the mid-west.  I suspect that on either coast, folks may have found it more amusing.  But St. Louis was definitely NOT amused!

I asked a friend why there was such a strong response, and she said it was because the shirt was saying that I'd had sex.

Um, yeah, all pregnant women had.  Just being pregnant says that.  Besides, I'm married, so it's ok, isn't it?

Well, yeah, it's ok, but you're not supposed to talk about it, she said.  You're supposed to hide it.  That shirt not only literally points out that you've had sex, and points out where, but it BRAGS about it.  So when people see that, it makes them think about sex, and that disgusts them.


Forty years later, I wonder what they'd think of pregnant women in bikinis?

Saturday, September 19, 2015

5011 An embarrassing story

Saturday, September 19, 2015

"For most of history, Anonymous was a woman."
-- Virginia Woolf --


I was thinking about whether or not I wanted to put the cover on my fluffy down comforter before putting it on the bed for the coming winter. I keep buying duvet covers, and then I don't use them, because I like a top sheet, and then I put another sheet on the very top of the bed to protect everything from cat fur, so a duvet cover seems like overkill. Skin and kitty never touch the comforter anyway. I think it's time to give up on that idea for good.

That reminded me of an embarrassing story.

Back in the dark ages, oh, about 1987, duvets and duvet covers were a European thing that hadn't yet arrived in the US. Not among us unenlightened people, anyway. Daughter and I were wandering around England and Wales, and it seemed like the only places to stay outside the cities was in B&Bs. No hotels or motels, and few inns with unreserved rooms for drop-ins. I intensely dislike B&Bs, because I always feel like I'm imposing on a family, and it's just too "social" for me.  Plus I can't set my own schedule.  That was my first trip to England, and so very many things were very different from what I'm used to - like a spoon for tea was tiny, like those souvenir spoons, and spoons for dinner were what we'd call a tablespoon. There was nothing like what we'd call a teaspoon. A lot of things were confusing, like when I was looking for a drug store in a tiny village, and people snarled at me, "We don't do that here!" I should have asked for a chemist.

Anyway, Daughter and I arrived one afternoon at a family home and were shown to the daughter's room which they were letting out while the daughter was away at college. We unpacked, did a little sightseeing, had a little dinner, and then went back to the house about 9pm (it's impossible to get a restaurant dinner before 8pm), and were embarrassed to find that the family goes to bed at 9, and had been waiting up for us.

Back in our room, we washed, got ready for bed, and then....
we couldn't figure out how we were supposed to sleep in the bed.

There was a nice fluffy comforter, but when I turned it back there was no top sheet. Not what I expected for a top sheet, anyway. It looked like a quilted mattress cover. The comforter was enclosed in a sort of sheeting envelope, with buttons closing it along the top. Daughter said it looked like a sleeping bag. The family had long since retired and I was reluctant to disturb them.

So, uh, we shrugged and opened the buttons and slept in the "sleeping bag".

In the morning we rebuttoned the top, thus accidentally avoiding immediate discovery of our faux pas.

Several years later I learned about duvet covers, and was retroactively very embarrassed.

Oh, well.

Friday, September 18, 2015

5010 More rambles.

Friday, September 18, 2015

"Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth."
-- Lillian Hellman --


A township truck came through last night spraying for mosquitoes.  I haven't seen that since the '50s.  There have been a lot of dead crows, evidence that some nasty disease (I forget) is getting spread.  They've found it in captured mosquitoes.

I forgot to cover my tomato plant, so I'll have to remember to wash the tomatoes well before eating them.  I don't know what they sprayed with, but the crickets don't seem to be affected, they were still singing loudly two hours later.  I also doubt that the spray penetrated as far as back yards.  It looked like it just came straight out of the spray pipe and fell on the road.  I'm sure it got nowhere near the pond out back, and I'm absolutely positive it didn't hit the marshy/swampy area two streets over.  Well, at least the township can claim they tried.

I personally won't notice any difference, because mosquitoes don't bite me.  They hover around me like they're looking for skin, then they give up and leave.  Those tiny black bitey bugs that form clouds around your head don't like me, either.  Pretty much nothing does except ticks.


 I don't have an ad-blocker, so I get a lot of pop-up junk on the screen,  Even with an ad-blocker, I visit a lot of sites that would like me to subscribe or register, and they put up pop-up requests.  I used to not mind them, just closed them without reading them.

Remember when the "X" to close those little windows was always in the upper right corner?  Not any more.  Now you have to search for the darn things.  Some of the "X"s don't show up until you pass over them with the cursor, so it's a physical search.  Piss me off!  And there's one ad company out there that covers the text on the screen and doesn't even provide the "X".  The ad sits there covering text until it decides to leave. uses that ad company, and I go to Snopes several times a day.

Even worse are the videos that start up with no encouragement.  I'll have five tabs open when suddenly sound starts up, and I have to scroll up and down through five tabs to find out where it's coming from.

I give up.  I guess I'm going to have to install an ad-blocker.  Any recommendations?


A study has found that the higher your education level, the better your chances of recovering from brain injury with no disability.  (  Interesting article.

One theory is that the more mental exercise you get, the stronger your brain is.  The other, of course, is that the higher your educational level, the better able you will be to afford top-notch care.  Heh.


Speaking of brains, back when Jay was getting all those MRIs, I always asked to look at them with the doctors, and they were always happy to accommodate me.  One day we were looking at one, and I observed, "You know, it's no wonder people think about sex so much.  There's a naked woman climbing right into the center of the brain."    The doctor looked at me, "What?  Where?"  I pointed to the structure in the middle, the thalamus is her head, the midbrain is her upper back, the pons is her rear end, and the medulla olongata is her right leg.  Her left leg is bent high up, stepping into the brain and raising and rounding her left haunch, her left arm reaches out to the left side.  He suddenly saw it clearly --- and here's the surprising part, he'd never noticed that before.  Turns out none of Jay's doctors had.  

This is a random scan from the internet, not Jay's.  See if you also see the lady.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

5009 Rambling

xxxday, September 1x, 2015

...electricity is a myth. Everything actually runs off smoke. We know this
because once you let the smoke out of something, it doesn't work any more.
-- "SteveM", in a comment in

----------------------------[the link may not work any more]---------------------------

Regular gas is less than $2 now!  Something like $1.95.  When did that happen?  Why?  I don't understand.


I had long ago noticed that every time I wash my hair, it's longer than before I washed it.  It's especially noticeable now that it's so long that I can get away with washing it once a week, so the increase in length is almost 2 inches.

After all these years, I think I've figured out why.

My hair isn't curly -- it's crinkly.  So over a week, the individual hairs crinkle up, making the whole look shorter without showing obvious curl.  Then when it gets washed, it straightens out.



Are crickets more populous in the late summer and fall?  They're all over outside now.  Inside, I'm finding, um, pieces of crickets everywhere, upstairs and down.  When Jasper's not sleeping or begging, he's hunting.  He doesn't eat them, he just takes them apart and then looks disappointed when they can't hop anymore.


A hitherto unconsidered benefit of retirement:
I took Hal in for his annual service.  Well, Hal's records report that since purchase, I have driven him an average of 67 miles per week.  No wonder I hadn't noticed that the cost of gasoline had gone down.  In the past 4.5 years, he has had four oil changes.  ...Almost balances out the six (or more? I've lost count) new tires.

I should report that mileage to the insurance company - they might lower my premium.


I don't know why anyone puts "THIS SIDE UP" and arrows on boxes.  I do almost all my shopping online, so I get about four boxes dropped on my porch per month, and I have never yet seen even one box with the arrows pointing up.  (UPS, are you listening?)


I want to buy Nugget some toys I loved when I was a child, and Daughter also had.  I'm going slightly crazy because I can't find the right things new anywhere online.

I want a pump-type spinning top, you know, the big one that sings, and flaps open inside a clear plastic top showing spinning colored panels that blend as it spins to make changing colors.  All I can find are solid metal with stuff painted on top.  They sing, but nothing else interesting happens.  I did find one on Amazon that almost fits the bill, but Amazon has "temporarily" suspended sale of that item due to some kind of shipping problem.

I want a nice kaleidoscope.  The case doesn't matter, but it must have translucent random-shaped colorful bits in the turning part.  No, I don't want opaque beads.  Duh?  Opaque?  Beads?  I don't want paper clips and other metal bits.  I don't want a solid lead-set stained glass wheel that doesn't give an ever-changing pattern.  I don't want a tube that gets pushed through the viewing chamber.  I don't want one so small that there is little in the chamber.  I also don't want to pay over $30 - I'm not looking for artwork here.  Remember the ones with odd-shaped bits of glass that shifted into view as you turned the end, and made glowing blossoms that never repeated?  Good interesting ones don't seem to exist anymore, not new ones, anyway.  I don't know - maybe kids were taking them apart and getting cut by the shifty bits or something.  I ended up buying a "vintage '50s" one on eBay.  

Still looking for the top.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

5008 Best Offer

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Education... has produced a vast population able to read
but unable to distinguish what is worth reading.
-- G. M. Trevelyan --


eBay just got a lot more dangerous for me.  

Let's take muumuus for example.  In the awful heat and humidity we'd been having, I found the muumuus I had bought in Hawaii in the late '90s and early 2000s were wonderful.  So I went to the internet to see if I could find two or three more.

I prefer the lighter cotton or rayon blends, in a straight style that falls from the bust to the ankles and skims the hips, with no gathers above the knee.  Hilo Hattie's and the other stores in Hawaii didn't have what I like at a reasonable price.  The name brand dresses run at least $70, and almost all had gathers above the bust, and the current fashion seems to be that heavy bark-cloth-like cotton.  So I went to eBay, where I found lots of "vintage" dresses that were exactly what I wanted.  I bought a few, none of them over $25, most well under, and I'm happy with them.  There were others I liked even better, nicer colors, nicer prints, but they were over $30 (plus shipping) and I didn't want to go that high.

And then, I accidentally discovered "Or Best Offer".

I hate bargaining.  One is expected to bargain in Morocco, nothing has a reasonable set price, and I hated every second of it.  I feel like I'm  insulting the shopkeeper when I tell him how little I think his item is worth.  I suspect I paid way too much for everything, and the weird thing is that the business people sneer at you if you pay too much.  It's awful.  So when I've seen "Or Best Offer" on eBay items, I ignored it, and if I wanted the item, I just paid the posted price.

This afternoon I found these two dresses, exactly what I wanted, but both way out of my price range.  (Photos are blurry because the only photos you can copy off eBay are the tiny thumbnails.  They don't enlarge well, but you get the idea.)  The brown is a classic Hawaiian floral fabric.  The pink is hibiscus flowers.

Well, I figure that there's a difference between bargaining with a Moroccan shopkeeper to his face, and with a faceless eBay seller who is free to reject the offer.  At least I won't see the sneer.  The brown dress was nearing the end of its listing time on eBay, so I decided to try that "Best Offer" button.  I made a ridiculously low offer given what she had listed the dress at, and well below my limit.  I was just trying it out, you know?  I didn't expect the offer to be accepted. It was ridiculous.

It was immediately accepted!  My chin almost hit the desk!

I then went to the pink dress which I liked even more but had been listed at an even higher price and had another three weeks to go on its listing, made my pitiful low-ball offer, and again it was immediately accepted.   (Given that if you email a seller, it usually takes a few hours for them to get back to you, I suspect that when the seller set up the "Best Offer" option, they also set the absolute lowest offer they'll accept, and that's why I got immediate acceptance.  Gee.  Now I'm wondering if I could have gone lower.)

Wow.  I may be be in trouble now.  Hunting down bargains.  Temptations.  Oh, my.  I'm already known on eBay as a sniper.  I may become known as a low-baller.


Meaning on eBay:
  • Bid - how high are you willing to go?  (I snipe in the last 5 seconds so I can't be bid up.)
  • Buy It Now (BIN) - Pay the price listed or move on.
  • Buy It Now with the 'Or Best Offer' option - How low will the seller go?

5007 Limited access

Saturday, September 12, 2015

"Punctuality is the virtue of the bored."
-- Evelyn Waugh --


Rhinebeck, NY, has smallish spreading trees lining the major streets (the main street is route 9, the same route 9 that runs through NJ, and people insist it's Broadway in NYC.  I dunno about that.).  All the branches and twigs of all the little trees are wound about with strings of tiny white lights, that are turned on for the Christmas season.  Driving down the main street is a fairy tale experience.  It really is beautiful.


Many of the residents and shopkeepers don't fully appreciate it, because the village council has declared that tiny white lights and white lights only are to be used for decoration on trees, shrubs, storefronts, and home windows throughout the village.  No multi-colored lights.

A high-class village like Rhinebeck cannot be allowed to look garish.

Well, anyway, the council has announced this year's "community-wide party", an annual tradition to raise money for the lights.  It will be held at the fairgrounds in October.  A "cocktail party" in one of the fair pavilions.  Sponsored by a bank, and the fairgrounds, and the village council.  Local restaurants will provide food and drink tastings.  

How much would you pay to attend?

Single tickets $100, couple $175.


Toldja it was a high-class community.  No riff-raff allowed.  This is the same place that made no effort to save the only grocery store in the village accessible to the elderly and others without cars.

But it sure is pretty to drive through in December.  Just ... keep going through.