October 2010


I am sitting at my big computer today. It feels really good to have a full sized keyboard in front of my. It is odd, but somehow still nice.

Speaking of odd.

 

Trick or treaters at a scary house. Not my house.

 

Last night at 7:55 PM or thereabouts, the doorbell rang. I was listening to A Brief History of the World and so I had to hit pause. I was also crocheting, so I had to carefully lay my work aside. I went to the door.

Flip Wilson had a whole small skit about this: “There was a knock at the door. Herman (the main character of his overall story) went to the door. There was a knock. I’m going to stop telling you people there was a knock. Instead, I’ll just say ‘Herman went to the door.’ Then you can say, ‘Must have been a knock.’”

I answered the door and there were three kids dressed up for Halloween. I looked at them incredulously and said in my most honest and confused voice, “Is Trick or Treat tonight?” I asked this because I really needed to know.

I had not had my light on, but I have lots and lots of candy here I don’t personally need. I would like to pass it out to the wandering children because a) I’m already known as the mean lady who won’t let them terrorize my yard each school day morning and this may get me some brownie points and b) I need to get this temptation out of my house.

If I had missed Trick or Treat, these nearly 200 “mini” candy bars were going to haunt me for quite a long time. Even as miniature as they are, there are at least 472,957,186 calories in those two large bowls of chocolates. (The above calorie count is an estimation only.)

I have been trying to figure out exactly when the little ghosts and goblins will be out and about. I no longer have small kids and so I don’t really have an inside track on this information. My HOA no longer hosts a message board because we were mean to the people who were unresponsive and overbearing. So they took that down and now I have no place to ask when local trick or treating times are to be held.

While out on a bike ride of Friday, I asked a mother who was waiting for the bus to drop off her child. She did know that trick or treat was to be on Sunday here, but it was Saturday somewhere else. That was what she thought anyway. Did she know what time they kids were to be going door to door? No, she did not.

Then I saw one of the bestest screamer kids from my driveway bus stop ordeal. In case you are worried about this, she now has the cast off and is only wearing a splint, but only to school. When running around the neighborhood like a maniac, she does not seem to need the splint. Only at school where sitting at a desk might cause injury.

So I asked Screamer Girl and she did know that Trick or Treat was on Sunday. She did not know what time.

So what were three kids doing at my door at almost eight o’clock at night on Saturday? I asked them if it was Trick or Treat night and the biggest of the kids said, “No, we just wanted to go out tonight.”

The candy was there, I grabbed three pieces and put one in each bag. Their bags were fairly full.

Does everyone have their treats out and waiting at least a day in advance? Apparently lots of people do or they were willing to open bags of candy for these kids. It will be pretty interesting to see if they also feel like going out tonight at some amorphous time to get another round of treats.

This seems a rather inventive way to deal with the whole limited intake system of the festivities. Go out twice in the same neighborhood. We used to have people drive in from areas where they held Beggars’ Night on a different day. The kids would canvass their own area on the festival day and then come to our neighborhood on the day we held festivities. But just going to the same place on the unappointed day seems quite inventive.

Thinking outside the box.

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I just finished listening to Last Words by George Carlin with Tony Hendra and performed by Johnny Heller.

I have always enjoyed George Carlin’s work. He is one of the few comics I have gone to see live in concert. I had some of his albums long before there were CDs out there. I could hear his voice throughout his autobiography.

It was entertaining and told much of the back story we more casual fans didn’t know about. I enjoyed the book, but …

George repeatedly said he was people person rather than a property person. He chooses people over property. We need to take care of each other and not worry so much about property.

George did not like Ronald Reagan or his administration and he despised the corporate honchos who road in first class with him as he toured the country. He actually said that.

George, you were in first class while you were despising these other people. There is some irony there.

The part I am confused the most about is where he spent quite a long time talking about his taxes. For a few years when he was so coked up he barely functioned, he had some accountants taking care of his money. They sent monthly statements, but he didn’t open them. If he had, he would have known how much money he didn’t have.

The accountants deferred his tax payment for a year, and then the next year, George still didn’t have the money (he was trying to develop a film and spent all the money he had on that) and so they deferred the tax payment again.

During all this time, the taxes were still due along with penalties and interest. George said it took nearly two decades to pay off his tax bill and he seemed to think the government should have let him off without paying what he owed, like they do for many other Hollywood people.

Why are any Hollywood people not paying their taxes? They make millions and have to pay lots to the government. That is so sad. There have been years (okay every single year since I turned 16, got a job and had to start paying taxes) when I would like to have just skipped that part.

But since I’m a responsible adult, I pay my taxes. These taxes go to pay for all the stuff the people who don’t work need to have. Since they can’t get it for themselves, I work to make sure they are provided with Food Stamps and Medicaid along with Section 8 housing.

I must say, I don’t particularly like paying taxes and I’m usually a bit disgruntled by having to support able bodied people who simply don’t want to work. Perhaps having babies beginning when you are a young teenager, not finishing even high school, and not having the father around to help support these kids is a bad choice. It isn’t a choice I made, but I can see why some insist I should support you in the choices you made.

What I don’t understand is why these same people, like George, who claim to be people over property would even dream of not paying their taxes along with any penalties and interest on monies due. If I can’t keep all of my money after working for it, why would you even begin to think you shouldn’t contribute to the general welfare as well? Especially if you claim this is your belief system.

I prefer the “responsible for the consequences of your choices” type of system. When you make bad choices, you get to reap the consequences. Whether those bad choices are to squander your talent for a decade while you do so many drugs you forget to look at your accounting statements while spending millions of dollars on a pipe dream, or whether they are simpler boo-boos like not remembering to finish your education.

I’m still baffled by George’s rancor over having to pay his tax bill. I wish I could find out his rationale for this. The only way we can provide the services to all the people is for the government to collect the money from the taxpayers, waste a bunch of it on red tape and weird shit, and then dole some of it out to the deserving people out there.

“I am returning this otherwise good typing paper to you because someone has printed gibberish all over it and put your name at the top.” ~ English professor, Ohio University

I enjoy writing. I often worry about whether or not what I’m writing is simply gibberish. I don’t know if this is true for all writers or just all aspiring writers (beginning writers, novice writers, worried writers).

I begin writing these small essays and they tend to go off in any old direction. It is like having “flight of ideas” in print. I begin saying what I believe is my lead sentence which will lead to the rest of the article. That is what lead sentences are supposed to do, give you a hint as to what is going to follow.

My lead sentences are often just topic sentences for the first paragraph or two and then somehow, after typing that much, I come up with an entirely different topic for the rest of the article.

Yesterday, I planned to talk about the benefits of giving myself a day of rest. Instead I talked about my freezers. Today, I think I’m going to talk about writing itself. However, I’m not far enough into this to make sure the essay will continue on the path I desire.

This is where the flight of ideas concept arrives. I just made another typo. I don’t know if the keyboard of the netbook is just odd, or if it is because it is smaller than a regular keyboard, or perhaps it is because I’m actually typing on my lap. I have a little lapboard upon which the netbook rests, but I’m not sitting at a desk and typing as a normal person would.

I keep making the same typo and so I tried to get AutoCorrect to help me. It often does. Many of my usual misspellings are corrected automatically. I often type computer with the o and c reversed and so when I do that, the machine helps me and prints it out correctly.

With this tiny computer, I often type an extra e after the word “the” and so it comes out “the e” and then I’m typing the next work and it has this extraneous e in front of it. So in the previous sentence “the next word” would like “the enext word” and I have to go back and fix it.

This is an entirely different type of gibberish. This is typo-gibberish instead of concept-gibberish. Both are unreadable. (This is a small attempt to try to keep with my opening sentence, stay on topic, and not wander too far afield.)

 

My AutoCorrect showing "the e" switching to "the"

 

I have told AutoCorrect to get rid of the extra e for me, but AutoCorrect only works when you touch the spacebar or some punctuation key. This is good because “the extra e” needs to have the word the, a space, and then the letter e with some other letters attached.

But it also means AutoCorrect often doesn’t correct my mistyping of the word “the.” I only have to back space up to the “e” and then hit the spacebar and the “e” disappears. This sounds okay, but it is annoying. I have no idea why I do this. I don’t have this problem on my real laptop or on my work computer. I don’t know if it is the keyboard itself that is ultra touchy or if it is the size of the thing. It does happen with this computer even when I’m sitting up in a chair with the computer on a table. So I don’t think it is just a factor of lounging in an easy chair while writing, although it is more frequent while sitting with the computer on my lap.

It does mean I have to spend far more time on spell checking than when I use other computers. Otherwise the whole thing does look like gibberish.

I’ve gone over this and the only red lines, showing off my glaring misspellings are with the word netbook and enext which I need for clarification. I guess I could add netbook to the dictionary. I probably should. I did.

So, if you have any difficulty in understanding this, the gibberish aspect cannot be a function of the typing abilities. I don’t really know if that is good or bad.

I frittered yesterday away. I love having a day like that. I did nothing of any worth. Oh, I went to work and did some actual work. But it was a rather slow day there and not enough work to fill the entire five hours I’m scheduled. So, I frittered away some time there.

I have gone through my freezers and cataloged all the food in there. I am not permitted to buy more until I have this stuff gone. I have enough meat for meals through Christmas. That’s without Dick ever traveling and I’m sure he will be traveling between now and then, so I have food until next year.

I sorted it all out and then printed out calendars and assigned the meat in the freezer to each day. I thought the turkey would last one less day than it did, so that moved some fish to the end of the list. Then I plotted out what I have in there for each day’s meals.

Since I rearranged my schedule, I work Monday through Thursday and then have a three day weekend. So, each week on my food calendar, Thursday is really easy to make. I have purchased those frozen meals in a bag. They aren’t horrible, but they aren’t really wonderful either.

Last night we had one of those. Some garlic shrimp with noodles and lots of corn and carrots added. I threw in some extra shrimp that was also in the freezer. It was edible, but Dick isn’t supposed to eat corn since his surgery and I didn’t really think about that while I bought it or cooked it. It only dawned on me as I was putting the food on the plates.

Last Friday, I made the turkey and planned ahead all week for the event. It was delicious. I had the turkey begin thawing on Sunday, and it was still just slightly frozen on the inside by Friday. I purchased crappy bread so I could make stuffing. I had everything I needed ready to go because I planned ahead.

I just looked at what I’m supposed to be cooking today. A pork roast. I had three in the freezer because – well, why not? So I just took one out to thaw and may zap it a bit in the microwave later. I really planned on just throwing this in the Crockpot, but now that may be out of the question. Unless I use the microwave to thaw it, I won’t have time to cook it.

This seems a bit ironic to me. I need to use the fast cooking thing in order to use the slow cooking thing.

What I also might do, as soon as I’m finished with this, is look for a recipe for roasting pork roast with rosemary because that sounds really good to me right now. I can cook this small pork roast in the toaster oven using the convection mode and it will be done quickly so that I don’t have to worry so much about how long it takes to thaw out.

This would work, asparagus is on sale this week.

Since I have this beautiful mapped out way to use up all the food in my freezer, I should really use it more efficiently. I was careful as I made out my menus to alternate types of meat, poultry, and fish. I have plans for leftovers as well. I have this whole thing to make my life easy. And then I don’t use it.

But I am resourceful and will come up with some alternate plan. With all this food in the house, I’m certainly not going to starve.

 

“Safety first” has become the nation’s mantra. We must always be as safe as is humanly possible. In order to achieve this illusion of safety, we do really stupid things.

Honk, honk, honk, honk, honk

I would love to meet the Einstein who designed a safety feature for school buses. The school bus gives five (5) short blasts on the horn each and every time it is ready to depart from a stop. I assume this is to keep kindergarteners from crawling under the bus to retrieve dropped papers. I know this has actually resulted in children being crushed by the bus. What I don’t understand is how the horn is supposed to help. If you can’t see the mammoth yellow bus, what difference will the horn make?

Let’s say you are a child forced to ride on this bus. And let’s say there are fifteen stops on the bus route and you are the first pick up and last drop off. That means that each day you hear 150 horn blasts. After a year of riding the bus, you have been treated to 27,000 horn blasts.

In order to not lose your mind and be driven crazy by this constant blasting, you do the logical thing – you tune it out. You don’t even hear the blasts. I know this because I only hear the bus about four times per day, but many days, I am sitting right here with the windows open and I don’t hear it at all. I’ve tuned it out and I’m submitted to this stimuli far less frequently than the bus riders themselves.

So, in essence, whoever did the design has made our children’s lives less safe. They have learned to not listen to horn blasts. Therefore, if they are about to be in a dangerous situation and someone blows a horn at them, there is a great possibility they won’t be paying attention.

This might not be so grave for those cute little kindergarten kids because maybe they won’t chase a ball into the street or run out into traffic. However, high school kids ride these same buses and they are soon going to be driving. And they have been conditioned to not hear a horn blast.

Brilliant. Simply brilliant. We are all now so much safer.

On this same topic, who decided to put the bright white flashing light on the top of the buses? Or even worse, the rapidly flashing bright white light on the back of mail trucks? Does someone think it is a good idea to induce seizures in drivers?

Many epileptics are controlled with medication and can safely drive. They may not be able to safely play some video games because the flashy lights can induce a seizure. So, we decided to put them on buses and other safety response vehicles like an ambulance. That one at least makes some sense. Revenue enhancement, as it were. Induce the seizure and then pick up the victim of a car crash. Brilliant marketing there.

We were following a roadside pickup truck that did electrical work for SCG&E one day. The guy had not turned off his flashing lights. At least we were lucky enough to have Dick driving. First I put my head down. Then I shut my eyes. Then I covered my eyes with my hand. I was just getting ready to tell Dick we had to pull off the road and let the truck get far away as I was getting a migraine when suddenly the driver in front of us realized his flashers were still on and so he turned them off.

All these devices are made to try to capture our attention so we will drive or live more safely, more aware of our surroundings. However, they all have down sides. Conditioning our children to ignore horns is probably rather stupid. The flashing lights can induce seizures in some prone to them and migraines for other who deal with that issue.

I don’t even know if they make any difference anyway. If you can’t see the great big yellow bus, does the light matter? If you are driving and texting and not looking up, will the horn stop you? Not if you had been riding one of those buses for two years before you got your license.

I think the more important question to ask is why driving is seen as time to get work of another nature done. We surely are too over scheduled if our drive time is meant only as a time to do “something else” because driving is too unessential to deserve our attention. Paying attention to the hazards of the road is the business of driving. It is important and deserves your attention.

 

It’s not all cakes and beer being me. I have a lovely and sparkly personality and can be an asset to any planning party. I think outside the box with such wild abandon, one might conclude I hate boxes altogether. But there is a dark side.

First, I talk a lot. This is evidenced not just by people who personally know me, but can be seen in the fact that I keep posting blog updates like what I have to say could be considered important. What I like the most about writing over talking is simply when I write, I don’t even have to pretend to conversation.

Someone once said that in conversation, the opposite of talking isn’t listening – it’s waiting. While writing, I’m in monolog mode and don’t even have to wait rather than listen, I just type and type and essentially just babble on. See how well that’s working?

The other thing that makes it difficult to be me is my delightful attention to detail. This is the nice way to say I’m anal-retentive or perhaps obsessive-compulsive. This means that things that don’t bother normal people scream to me of chaos and incite a sense of doom.

The other day, Dick offered to empty the dishwasher. I jumped up and told him I would do it because he did it wrong. He was offended and asked me how one could empty a dishwasher “wrong” and then went off to sulk. I felt a bit bad, but he does not empty the dishwasher wrong so much as put the dishes away wrong.

Back in the days when I had all colored Tupperware glasses in three different sizes, they had to go into the cupboard in yellow, orange, brown, green order. If I was missing a cup, I knew which color was hiding somewhere with something in it, beginning to mold. At least that’s what I told myself.

My glasses are all clear glass now and so I don’t have this problem. However, my coffee cups have to be put in the cupboard with the green and white (Go Panthers!) together, black and blue together for obvious reasons, and then the brown and cream together because they are left.

No one in their right mind cares about this. Only I care. I have no idea why I care, but I do. I claim it is still the same reason as the Tupperware glasses, I would know what color to look for. That’s still as absurd today as it was twenty years ago.

I also have two sets of cute little six inch diameter plates. One set is adorned with flowers and has cups to match – causing a double whammy. The other set is decorated with coffee cups and had no cups I could purchase which is just as well, because the plates get hot if you microwave them, meaning the cups would have been pretty useless as I use cups.

When I’m putting dishes away, the sets have to be kept together. I don’t really care which is on top, but the coffee cups with the brown trim have to be together and the flowers, with white edges have to be together.

Spoons. Not my spoons, but spoons nevertheless.

I also have two sets of flatware. I have service for twelve with a weave pattern on the handle and they live in a Longaberger basket with a divider which sits on the counter. I have another service for four which is in the drawer. This set is something I use less frequently and use mostly when I travel. I’ve been taking soup to work for lunch and so pack a soup spoon from this drawer each day. I can’t eat soup with the little plastic spoons we have at work.

Dick helped me yesterday. He ran the dishwasher while I was at work. That was very nice. He is such a good husband. He really does go out of his way to help keep the household running smoothly. He not only ran the dishwasher, he emptied it.

The plates are put away, white edge, brown edge, white edge, brown edge, etc. The soup spoon I had taken to work with me was in the Longaberger basket instead of the drawer. I really didn’t check the cups to see if they are mismatched.

I feel horrible that I would be so picky, but I really can’t help it. I left the plates alone because I really need to let this stuff go. It doesn’t matter. It is not important. I did rescue my crappy soup spoon because I need the crappy ones to take to work, just in case I lose one. I don’t want pieces missing from the service for twelve.

At least that’s what I told myself. Really, it’s just because it is so difficult to be me.

It stormed last night. It rained and poured and I was waiting and hoping for the small flutophonist from the back yard to play his or her recorder as appropriate to the weather. I know I’ve heard the kid playing that song often enough and it seemed like an opportune moment.

There was thunder and lightning and eventually the entire house flickered in the storm. Then the router went out. That was less than completely fun, but it was easily reset and we were back online. For five minutes tops. We opted to not run up and down the stairs, resetting the router with each flicker and just decided to not have Internet for the rest of the evening.

Amazingly enough, nothing untoward happened when I did not check my e-mail or my Facebook account just before retiring for the night. I lived through the evening without Fark, too.

The rain had mostly stopped before I went to bed and I left the windows partially open for the evening. However, I woke up a couple times because the room wasn’t quite as cool as it had been.

I was up at 5 AM and heard Dick wandering about the house. I eventually fell back to sleep; he didn’t. He had something of importance to e-mail today and was worried we might lose our Internet connection for real. So he made sure it was sent out bright and early this morning.

My alarm clock woke me, but it didn’t seem so bad. It was almost seven and a decent hour to be awake. I got dressed and was heading out the door. I peeked out on the lanai where it looked like the thermometer was hovering near 70. I don’t wear my contacts first thing in the morning. So I wasn’t sure I was really seeing that right.

I did not wear my jacket. The day before I had to tie it around my waist as I got too hot and then rolled up my sleeves besides. Today, I left the jacket at home and still had to roll up my sleeves. I checked weather.com after I got home and it was, in fact, 70 degrees out there. And it was humid with fog – low lying clouds hovering about.

It was a good thing I didn’t try to walk in the dark today. With all the rain we had last night, there were puddles sitting here and there. I would not have been able to see them in the dark and I would have been tromping in the wet with my still new shoes. That might have ticked me off. I was already a bit disgruntled that it had stopped raining and I was out there walking. Wrecking my shoes would have been too much.

The best part of my walk was a delightful surprise. With all the rain we got last night, there was a bit of a waterfall or rapids effect in the usual standing water. I live in a part of the country called the Lowlands. This is because we aren’t much above sea level. There is a marshy quality to much of the area and specialized plants grow here. It is beautiful, but it must have been hellish while fighting either the Civil War or the Revolutionary War.

But today, I was on higher ground, walking on the sidewalk and listening to what in Ohio would be called a babbling brook. It was delightful.

Jumping frong

Of course, there was a bit of a down side as well. I walked past at my usual rapid clip (I averaged 3.947 mph today) and scared a frog who jumped into what was now deep water and making a large splash. I guess I scared the frog and the noise in the stillness of the morning sure scared me.

All in all, it was a great day for a morning walk.

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