Saturday, July 11, 2015

4068 Decorated tree

Saturday, July 11, 2015

" I don't believe in an afterlife, so I don't have to spend my whole life

fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of

hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse."

-- Isaac Asimov --

(Mark Twain said something remarkably similar.)


George has a clump of three birches in his front yard.  He keeps threatening to cut them down, because years ago (before I moved here) the main trunk of the main tree got broken in a storm, so George seems to have decided the tree is dead.  I've pointed out a few times that it has recovered nicely, another branch has taken over as the trunk, and it's growing happily.  But, well, George.

Today the birch is covered in Goldfinches.

I had noticed a pair fluttering around the birches all spring.  They must have raised a family, and the youngsters are just now learning to fly.  I counted five goldfinches for sure, but there may have been more.  It's a pretty sight, tiny bright yellow birds flitting from branch to branch against the white bark and yellow-green leaves, with occasional brave forays to the power line and back.

I hope George spares the trees, so maybe the family will be back next year.

Goldfinches, incidentally, are the only American songbirds that feed seeds to their chicks. Other songbirds, no matter what the adults eat, feed chicks bugs and worms.  I wonder where the goldfinch chicks get enough protein?  This habit saves them from cowbirds, because cowbird chicks in a goldfinch nest cannot survive on seeds.


I miss the purple finches from the country house.  I got really pissed off one time when I was talking about them at a Mensa dinner, and one of the women there informed me, imperiously, that they weren't purple finches, they were house finches.  She'd never seen "my" finches and apparently didn't listen to my description, but she KNEW they were not purple finches, they were house finches, because that's what she had in her back yard "and everyone always confuses them".  (It's a little hard to confuse a white belly and a brown belly, lady....)

I was furious with her. She used that tactic where she closed her eyes and pursed her lips and shook her head and  wouldn't listen, just kept repeating her line.  That always infuriates me.

Friday, July 10, 2015

4067 Books, leggings, stuff....

Friday, July 10, 2015

Before enlightenment: Chop wood, carry water.

After enlightenment: Chop wood, carry water.


Yesterday I wore a caftan I've had for ages.  It's made like a rectangle with two smaller rectangles on either side for long full sleeves.  It used to be floor-length, but I shortened it to mid-calf thinking I might wear it more often if it didn't look so eveningish.  It's a lightweight black silky fabric with vertical alternating stripes of sheer and not-so-sheer, and thin silver threads.  I wore it with a black nylon tank top and black leggings I had bought in Morocco (the only leggings I own), and a heavy silver Turkoman necklace.  I really liked the outfit, and it was incredibly cool in the heat and humidity. 

I have several loose thigh-length caftan-like semisheer tunics that I rarely wear because over regular pants they look too "heavy".  So I got all enthusiastic and went to eBay, and bought some more leggings in black, brown, and white.  They'll arrive early next week.  I used the measurement guides on the listings and ended up ordering size "L" instead of the "M" I would ordinarily order, because I didn't want them to be too tight at the waist, and that's what my 39" hips demanded.

Last night when I took the Moroccan leggings off, I looked at the size inside.  They are S/M.  Ouch.  Maybe I should have looked at that label before I ordered new ones.

Oh well.  They were like $7 each, so no big loss if they don't fit.


The new neighbor across the street seems nice.  BUT this morning at 6:30 am I was awakened by a power saw, and pounding of a mallet, and general mayhem.  He was replacing the posts for his gate.  At 6:30 am.  Sheesh!  I gave up trying to sleep and got up at 7:30.  I'd been reading into the wee hours, so I'm not too happy.

I've been reading mostly nonfiction the past few months.   

I read a book about Eliot Spitzer, his rise to power and his sudden fall from grace.  I really liked him as NY attorney general, he wasn't afraid to go after the people who thought they were powerful enough to get away with anything.  When he was elected governor I was ecstatic.  I figured he could fix Albany, probably the most corrupt state government in the country.  I really expected big things from him.  He lasted 14 months.  Sigh.

I read a book written by a British Muslim female physician who accepted a two-year stint in a hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  She, having spent the previous several years in the US, was unprepared for the restrictions on her person and her freedom there.  It was interesting, but, unfortunately, in her view, everything was just hunky-dory.  I would have liked to see a little indignation....

I read the book written by Jaycee Dugard, the woman who had been kidnapped at age 11, and spent 18 years held captive by her rapist.  Her story isn't quite what one would expect from the tabloid versions, but it's harrowing enough.  It's easy to see why she had not attempted to escape, when seen through her eyes.

I read the story of Henrietta Lacks, the woman from whom came the HeLa cell line used by labs the world over.  HeLa was the first cells that didn't eventually die in culture.  Her cells are pretty much immortal.  They are responsible for many research breakthroughs and cures, and have made many people rich.  But until recently, she got no credit.  Her children didn't benefit - in fact, they can't afford the very cures her cells created.  An interesting story, but the writer got too close, I think.  It dragged sometimes.

There were a few other books in there, but I forget.  The current book is a novel about ... it's hard to explain ... you know how you make a decision that takes your life a particular direction, and years later you wonder what your life would be like if you'd gone the other direction?  This is about a guy who "splits" at a key decision point, and one copy goes one way in one complete version of the world, and another copy goes the other way.  Some 13 or 15 (I forget) years later, both men are very unhappy with their lives.  Both realize they hadn't necessarily made the right decision.  And then there's like a rift in the fabric between the two worlds, and the two meet, and decide to exchange lives.  I'm having trouble with this.  I have difficulty suspending disbelief, and I really can't accept that both would simply give up and go to a world where they know nothing, nobody, dropping into a life with no context, and one that they probably won't be able to get back from.  Like, guys, hey, you already KNOW you don't make the best decisions.  What makes you think your doppelganger knows any better.  Frying pan, fire, you know?

Well, I'm only 1/3 or so into the book.  What do I know.

If you want the title and author of any of the above, ask in a comment and I'll dig it out for you.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

4066 Throughfare?

Wednesday, July 6, 2015

People are more violently opposed to fur than leather because
it's safer to harass rich women than motorcycle gangs.


I have a new problem.

The neighbors across the street have sold their house and moved out.  They had three cars, so two were parked in their driveway beside the house, and one was always parked on the street, the narrow street, right across from the end of my driveway.  That made it a little difficult to turn into and back out of my driveway, but once I mastered it, it was no longer much of a problem for me.

The new guy has moved in.  He has one car, so he parks in his driveway, and when his girlfriend visits she parks in the driveway behind him. 

Suddenly the street is clear at the end of my driveway and it's easy to turn in, and suddenly my driveway is THE turnaround spot for the one-way street.  Seven or eight cars and trucks pull into my driveway every day and back out to head out of the street.  Well, seven or eight that I actually see.  There are probably more.  I'll be standing on the porch, in full view!, and people pull in and back out without even so much as eye contact.

It's really starting to piss me off.  I don't know why it bothers me so much, but it does.  The end of the street is only seven houses further and there's a nice big turnaround there.  These people are significantly increasing the traffic at the joint between my driveway and the curb which bothers me.  Gonna break it down faster.  Driveways aren't made for heavy traffic.  But mainly it's the sheer arrogance that gets me.  A wave when they do it would help.

This is so reminiscent of the mailbox at the country house.  The guy across the street there had a trailer, and several times he hit my mailbox backing the trailer out of his driveway, bent it to where it wouldn't close, knocked it completely down twice, and never once acknowledged it.

Sometimes I hate people.


While I'm thinking of it, neighbor George's granddaughter (she's in her 40s I think) does something I don't quite understand.  The street is narrow.  If cars are parked on both sides, it's difficult for, say, a wide truck to get through, let alone traffic coming from both directions.  There are no signs, but it seems to be convention that everyone parks on the east side of the street.  No cars are ever parked on the west side.  None except for George's granddaughter, that is.  Not only does she park on the west side in front of George's house when she visits (often, she lives on the next street over), but she parks in front of the fire hydrant at the corner of my lawn.  I mentioned it to Daughter, and she warned me not to say anything to the woman about it, "She's a bitch."

Does she really not see that she's blocking traffic?  Does she not care?  I don't understand.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

4065 Drums and the cost of war

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

"There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact." 
 -- Sherlock Holmes --


This is an interesting video, entitled "How Much Does War Cost?"  The numbers are amazing.  Trot them out the next time some fool complains about Obama and the national debt.



This is some guy on taiko drums in an arcade in Japan.  He's really into it!


Monday, July 06, 2015

4064 Medical insurance, care

Sunday, July 5, 2015

It takes 42 muscles to frown, and only 4 to reach out and smack you.


Want to know if your medical insurance is good?  Don't bother reading online reviews.  Spend a few days in the hospital, especially over the weekend.

When I was hospitalized with pneumonia after Hurricane Sandy, I had doctors coming out of the woodwork, at the rate of about 5 a day.  Lung doctors.  Kidney doctors. Heart doctors.  Infectious medicine specialists. Whatever.  I didn't know who most of them were, or why they were there.  Some didn't do a damn thing, just asked me how I was feeling, and left.  Sometimes my "vitals" were taken by four different doctors (not nurses - although they did it too) every day.  Of course every single one of them submitted a bill.  Also, all kinds of tests and scans were being scheduled - most of which I refused because I saw no reason for them.

The woman in the other bed lived in a badly-maintained low income senior project, and I think she had just medicaid.  The doctor who had admitted her never even stopped by, even though she kept asking for him.  She was given no tests and no medicine.  Every time a nurse came in she told the nurse she still had a lot of pain in her leg, and the nurse said she'd tell the doctor, but the woman was released (pretty much kicked out) before I was, and STILL had not been seen by a doctor.  Not one.  She didn't even have a diagnosis, and she still had the pain.  She cried as she was leaving.

I suspect my insurance and credit rating were much better than hers.


What brought this up was an online comment I just read.  People in other countries do not understand why anyone would be against the ACA.  A Canadian wrote that he noticed a big difference between medical care in the US, and in Canada (where it's all free).  In Canada the first thing a doctor will ask you is what is the problem, where does it hurt.  In the US, the first thing you are asked is whether you can afford the doctor's services, what insurance you have, and you might hear "Oh, oops, I don't accept that insurance, goodbye."



Back when Jay was in the hospital so much, I kept pretty tight control of doctors wandering in.  I'd ask them who, why, what they plan to do for him, and most of them kind of sputtered and said they'd been looking at Jay's records and thought it was an interesting case, so thought they'd stop by and say hello.  And then they'd leave, and they didn't submit bills.  After the first day, I guess the word got around that Jay wasn't a free lunch, and we didn't get drop-ins other than his own known doctors.

I kick myself for not managing my own hospital stay as well, but it's different when you're the one in the bed, I guess.  I need to get over being so compliant.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

4063 Vent covers

Sunday, July 5, 2015

I've made smarter things than you by eating fiber.


Remember when I had all those problems with the birds trying to build nests in my dryer and bathroom vents?  This is the vent covers I found, and Daughter installed.  I'm very happy with them.  They latch at the bottom, and are hinged at the top so you can clean lint or whatever out without removing them.