Saturday, July 04, 2015

4062 Expensive and tiring week

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Love longs for union.


It's almost 9 pm, it's still fairly light outside, and the fireflies (lightning bugs) in my postage stamp front yard are going bananas.  There are none in the back yard.  There are none in any other yards up, down, or across the street.  But in my front yard they are flashing almost in unison, and there are 8 or 10 at a time.  It's crazy.  They rise from the grass and seem to all be headed across the street, but they seem to be going up into the tall trees over there.

Do all the males live in my yard, and all the females live in the trees across the street?


I've had a very tiring and expensive week.

On Monday I drove up to the country house to meet the furnace man for the annual service.  Monday evening I drove home again.  That's almost six hours in the car.

Tuesday evening I drove up again to meet the a/c installers Wednesday morning at 8 am.  I left home very late, and would have got to the country house at about 1 am.  That was ok, no big deal.  Well, would have been ok if I hadn't hit an enormous pothole on the NY state Thruway, on the edge of the road just before the New Paltz exit, at just after midnight.  I didn't see it.  It was very dark, there were no other cars in sight, and it had been pouring rain, so the hole was full of water, so even if I saw anything at all I wouldn't have identified it as a big hole.  But suddenly the car dropped about 8 inches, there was a bang, and then the car jumped into the air a good 18 inches and was thrown halfway into the left lane and fishtailing.  Suddenly it was very difficult to steer.

You don't expect a hole like that on the Thruway, when you're traveling at (an undisclosed) rate of speed.

I pulled off onto the exit onto route 299, turned right (it was very difficult to turn left), and pulled into the first motel I came to, which was close and luckily on the right.  The right front tire was completely flat.  They're "drive flat" tires, but there's a limit as to how flat they can be driven on before you destroy the rim, and this was past that.

I got a room and tried to figure out what to do next.  What am I going to do about the a/c guys?  I'm going to have to rent a car, and get my car towed to my tire place, there's not a whole lot I can do at past midnight.  No way I'm going to get to the house before like 11 am at the earliest, even assuming I can get a rental car just by snapping my fingers, since the rental car places won't be open until 9:30.

I fired off an email to the owner of the a/c company, copying his secretary, explaining the situation and asking him to call me on my cell as soon as he got the message.  Then I researched rental car companies (luckily I had my notepad and my handi-dandi little WiFi box).  I know from experience there was only one company in the area that will pick me up, and they had offices only in Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, and Kingston.  I wanted Kingston, because that's closest to the country house and to where I wanted to take the car to be worked on, and that's 35 minutes away, so if they came and got me, it would still be after 11 before I could get to the house.

On the way I had stopped and bought about $30 worth of salads for Wednesday's and Thursday's meals, so I put them in the motel room refrigerator.

I tried to go to sleep, but I couldn't sleep, trying to figure out what to do.  I hoped I hadn't done any mechanical damage to Hal's front end.  (Yeah, it was the BMW, and this was the seventh blown tire in three years, the second in seven weeks.)  I finally fell asleep at about 3:45 am, and then was awakened by the a/c man's phone call at 7 am.  The motel alarm clock hadn't gone off.  (By the way, why are motel alarm clocks so freakin' hard to figure out how to set?  You'd think they'd get the simplest ones, but no, they are puzzles!)

He said no problem.  They'd take their time loading the trucks, and they could install the outside unit before I got there, AND he'd send his wife to pick me up.  She would have me at the rental car place at 9:30, when they opened.

Yay.  I opened the refrigerator to get me some breakfast, and found everything frozen solid.  Frozen boiled eggs are hard to eat.  Frozen yogurt isn't any good when it's like a rock and you don't have any spoons anyway.  And you flat out can't freeze salads. I guess you can eat them, but it's not very appetizing.  I had effectively no food.

I tried to reserve a car online, but it wouldn't allow me to reserve a car 2 hours hence.  I'd have to just show up and hope.

Pat, the wife, drove down from Kingston, picked me up and we went to Kingston, and luckily the rental folks did have a car I could have, so then I rushed to the house and let the a/c guys in.  Then I drove to Rhinebeck to my tire guys to make sure they could take me today (and that's one reason I always go to these guys, they always fit me in) and got a recommendation for a tow company.  Called the tow company and arranged to meet the tow truck back at the motel - 45 minutes back down the Thruway.  Followed him back to Rhinebeck, and then waited at the tire place while they checked the tire and the front end.  No mechanical damage.  Yay!  But I had hit the hole so hard that the pressure sensor had been blown to smithereens, so that had to be replaced.  However, even though you could buy one of those sensors at any auto supply store for like $15-20, the BMW will take only a BMW sensor, and they cost a ridiculous bajillion dollars.  Sigh.  Oh, yeah, the tire is completely shredded on the inner side, so that has to be replaced.  They need to order the tire, so it'll be tomorrow morning.

Back to the house.  It was just noon, and I am dead tired and starving.  I went out and bought more food.

By 4 pm the a/c system was fully installed, and up and running.  The guys left.  I left the a/c on, mainly to reduce the humidity in the house so I'd be more comfortable sleeping, but then it got cooler outside and I was busy sorting stuff from the file cabinets and didn't notice it was getting really cold in the house, so I turned the a/c off.  After a while I realized I was freezing, so about 10 pm I flipped the system to heat.

Nada.  It was blowing air all right, but the air was cold.  No heat.  It was in the low 60s outside.  And inside.

They had installed the a/c coils above the furnace unit and were using the furnace fan.  They'd been dinking around with the wiring in the furnace.  I don't know what went wrong, but I had no heat.  I piled blankets on, but my poor forehead and nose froze all night.

Oh, the irony.  I hadn't been able to work in the house because it got too hot.  So I fixed that, and now I freeze.

They were coming back the next morning to remove the old dead heat pump, so when they arrived at about 9 am I told them about the heat.  It turned out the oil line needed to be bled, so they did that, and I had heat.  The tire guys called, and I went to Rhinebeck, and paid the bill.  A pleasant surprise - they felt so sorry for me that they charged me only $25 for the bazillion dollar sensor.  I retrieved my keys, then drove to Kingston and returned the rental car.  The rental car place had an intern drive me back to Rhinebeck, and I drove back to the house. 

The a/c guys finished removing the heat pump at 2 pm, and at 3 pm I started the drive back to the city house.  Heading down the NY Thruway, and the Garden State Parkway, Thursday evening, when hordes of people will have Friday off, and will be heading to the Jersey shore for the holiday.  Oh, joy.

As expected, the GSP was dense and nerve-wracking, but not quite a parking lot.  The usual 2.5 hour drive took me only 3.5 hours.  The Nugget saw me pull into the driveway and asked if she could come over and visit Gramma, and of course I said yes.  Daughter was grilling chicken, so she fed me.  I was so tired I couldn't unload the car.  In fact, my notepad and travel bag are still out there.  Which is just as well, since I really should check them for bedbugs before bringing them into the house.  It really was a crappy motel.  New Paltz is a college town. 

I went to bed at 10 and slept past noon yesterday.  I'm still tired.

The damage:
$  87.99  One night, crappy motel
$  30.00  Destroyed food
$107.32  One day plus 3 hours rental car
$170.00  Flatbed tow from New Paltz to Rhinebeck
$250.00  New tire and sensor (even with the sensor break, this seems awfully low)

Not including, of course the usual $100 or so in gas and tolls each trip usually takes, plus multiple bridge and Thruway tolls going back and forth getting the cars towed and etc.



I should have reported the pothole to the Thruway authority before it kills someone.
I didn't.
I do have AAA, and I suppose I could have called them for (some part of) the tow.
I didn't.

Why not?
Because I just wanted to get stuff done as quickly as possible with no fuss, no bother, just bam bam bam done.
Straight line to finish line.
And no, my auto insurance doesn't cover tires, so since there was no mechanical damage, nothing of this is covered.
Frankly, I don't much care.  I'm out of aspirin.

4061 Avebury

Friday, July 3, 2015

"Actions lie louder than words."
--Carolyn Wells--


I took a look at the blogs listed over there on the side, those I follow on Feedly.  There were 63.  I checked them all out, and many are officially dead - either private or completely gone, or haven't been updated in years.  That's sad.  Some of the dead ones were favorites, blogs I really enjoyed.  It's like old friends died, or simply moved away without leaving a forwarding address.  The ones that annoy me the most are the bloggers who built up a base of loyal readers, then turned the blog material into a book, and when the book did not become a best-seller, they quit blogging. Somethin' kinda hissy-fit about that.  Second most annoying are those who gave no indication they were quitting - just left stories unfinished and disappeared.  I don't think they realize that people really do worry about what happened.  Some people at least said goodbye.

So, I edited the list, and ended up deleting 31 -- half!  So sad.


I came across a reference today to Avebury Henge.  I've been to both Avebury Henge and Stonehenge, with Jay.  They are very close together, just a few miles by car, but they are very different.  Stonehenge feels strongly masculine, in your face.  Avebury feels definitely feminine, it moves in on you quietly.  I had no reaction at Stonehenge, beyond the generic "yeah, interesting, amazing, how?, why?" bit.  I had a very powerful reaction at Avebury.

I don't know whether it was a special day, or just that it was before they roped it off, but we were allowed to walk into Stonehenge, touch the stones, stand in the center, and all that, just like at Avebury. so it wasn't due solely to propinquity.  After Stonehenge we headed over to Avebury.

In case you don't visit any websites for Avebury, I'll tell a little.  It was built in the stone age, before metal tools.  It's older than Stonehenge, something like 4500 years old.  The henge, which is the ditch and bank around the circle of stones, was dug using picks made of deer antler, and shovels made from cow shoulder bones, and it was DEEP, and HIGH, and HUGE!  The outer circle of standing stones is the largest in the world.  Inside the outer circle were two smaller separate circles.  All three circles had a center stone.

As it probably looked then:

Currently existing stones and henge, and modern roads:

Believe it or not, a modern (relatively modern) village has been built smack in the middle:

When we first arrived, I was fine.  There were groups of people walking around.  They were chatting and laughing, taking pictures, it was a typical country outing.  Me, not so much.  The further into the site we got, the more frightened I got.  Strong feeling of foreboding. It got worse the longer we were there.

It was the middle of summer, but I became overwhelmed by fear of the coming winter, of not having enough food.  I was afraid of what we would have to do to ensure food.  It got worse and worse.  I didn't touch any of the stones.  I was afraid to.  It was like it was not me.  Someone else was in my head.

We got to what was the center of one of the inner smaller circles, and I had a vision.  There was a wooden post (not really, just in my vision).  It was the winter solstice, I think. It was dark, after sunset. The elder women of the tribe took a baby, a female infant, the female infant born closest to the solstice, took it from its mother, wrapped it in hides, and chanting, hung it like a papoose from the pole, and then left it there.  The mother knew it was for the survival of the tribe.  She cried, but did nothing else.  The baby was left there throughout the winter.  It cried for a while, but then was quiet.  This ensured good hunting and that the stored grains would be sufficient, and that illness would stay away.  The vision was very strong.  It was my baby.  This baby had to starve so the rest of us would not.  I heard it cry, and I could do nothing. It was tearing me apart.

If I looked around, I saw people on holiday, and grass, and the stones, and sun shining on everything, but at the same time I clearly saw, with the same eyes, like an overlay, darkness, packed dirt, no grass, the stones, older women with torches hanging a bundle on a pole.  My bundle.

It was all so strong I told Jay I couldn't stay another second, I couldn't visit the pub or the museum, I had to leave immediately.  I didn't tell him why, but I was trembling, and I think the look on my face convinced him.  He was pretty cool, didn't ask.  It all went away as soon as we were out of the henge.

It was like I was entered by a 4500-year-old woman, mourning her baby.  I didn't tell Jay about it.  All he knew was that I didn't like the atmosphere or something.  I've never told anyone.  Until now.

So, I see videos of modern-day Druids and people who define themselves as spiritual beating drums and waving arms and dancing around Avebury Henge in their white robes and floral headgear, and I am somehow disgusted by them.  I don't know what they think they're doing.  They natter on about convergence of ley lines, and powerful energies, and earth spirits, and I think they are deluded dip-shits, playing games.  They don't know.  They don't know how to know.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

4060 Executions, Lessons, and Carroll

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum (I think that I think, therefore I think that I am.)"
--Ambrose Bierce--


There's a lot I don't understand about the current furor about execution drugs.  I don't mean to get into a discussion of execution, that's a moral quagmire.  It's bad enough that some people think it's ok for the state to kill someone but then they object to certain means.  That seems silly, to justify killing, but then get squeamish.  I'm not sure why we'd execute them, anyway.  It's been shown that execution does not act as a deterrent, so that's not a good reason.  Some people object to paying the cost of supporting someone they consider worthless for the rest of their lives, "so let's just kill them", but that doesn't seem like a good reason.  Some are afraid that if the prisoner escapes they will do it again, so let's make sure he can never repeat the crime.  That almost feels ok to me, except that we cannot predict the future, so I'm not sure that's valid, either, especially when the sentence is not applied evenly.  And then there are those who are just angry and want to deliver the absolute vengeance.  I don't think that's our place.  Especially when we so often get it wrong.  So, anyway, I have mixed feelings about executions, and about those who are so hot for them.

But the current arguments going through the courts concern the means.  Firing squads, gas, electric chairs, nooses, whatever else, have gone away because they supposedly violate the constitutional prohibition against cruel punishment.  That stuff kind of hurts, I guess.  So, in an attempt to be "kind" (I guess), the current methods involve injections of crap that stops the heart.  And some folks object to that on the grounds that it's not entirely painless.  I haven't looked into it enough to know what pain they're talking about.  Something about it burning or causing panic or something.

Doesn't matter. 

I don't see what the problem is.  I don't understand why there's physical pain at all.  There will be psychological pain, of course, but that starts when the sentence is passed and gets worse when appeals are rejected, and no one seems to have any problem with that.  Doctors cut people open from stem to stern and rummage around in their insides every day, and there's no pain.  They just sedate you, then there's general anesthesia, and then they can administer anything they want and there's no pain.  The tricky part is the initial sedation, and I can think of a half dozen ways to make someone compliant without their cooperation.  A date rapist can tell you about three.

I don't  understand.

[I absolutely understand why one might object to execution altogether.  What I don't understand is why anyone who does approve of it would object to the means.  In my mind, if someone is going to be executed for murder, then they should die by the same means they used.  It is only just and fitting, and shows the same degree of depravity.  Even the Bible is confusing - there's that "vengeance is mine" thing, but there's also the "eye for an eye" bit.]


I came across the word "loquacious" yesterday in a blog.  It's not a word you see often these days; heck, you almost never see or hear it.  It took me back to my teaching days.

I taught high school math, and honors math for college credit.  About once every three weeks or so, I'd use a big unfamiliar word in class.  Like, I'd comment that one of the kids was unusually loquacious today, or I'd praise a kid for particular perspicacity in solving a problem, and then I'd write the unfamiliar word on the board and ask if anyone knew what that word meant, "Don't shout it out, just raise your hand if you know."

"Ok, here's the deal.  If  the day after tomorrow you bring to me a slip of paper in your own handwriting with the word and the correct definition on it, you'll get five points added to your score on the next quiz.  Yes, you can share, you can copy what someone else finds.  BUT, if it's wrong, you lose two points, so you might have to do your own research to make SURE it's right.  No paper, no problem, but no bonus, either."

Believe it or not, the kids loved it.  One day somebody said something about a confused classmate named Alice being in Wonderland.  So, naturally, the extra credit that day was "What was Lewis Carroll's real name, and what was his profession other than writer?"  [Answer:  Charles Dodgson, math teacher.  Photographer was also acceptable, although that was more of a hobby.]

Remember, this was long before even the slightest hint of the internet.  All they had was dictionaries, library books, or other adults. 


That all set me off in another chain of thought.  Charles Dodgson had a stammer.  Not like a stutter, but when you just can't get a word out at all.  When you know exactly what the word is, but it just won't come out.  He also had something like eleven siblings, every one of which also stammered.  He never married, and of his siblings, none of whom died young, only three married.  (There's a list of his siblings with dates at

His father was an archdeacon, preached sermons, didn't stammer.  All of Charles' siblings did.  Of the 12 kids, 9 never married. 

I am suspicious.  I'm wondering if there might have been abuse at home.  So I did some research.

Not a peep anywhere, good or bad.  However, after his death, some of his papers and letters were destroyed by his family, "to protect reputations".  That was the Victorian era, so dirt was well hidden, and patriarchs ruled unquestioned.  The reputations protected, by the way, were said to be women (some married) with whom he'd had affairs.

Curiouser and curiouser.