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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

From a Different Perspective

Every evening I receive a preview of what will be on Wisconsin Public Radio the following day. Tomorrow is supposed to be a program in the morning with the following topic:

"A new survey suggests the economic recession has Americans redefining
their “necessities.”  Some say  dishwashers, clothes dryers, and
other appliances are now luxuries.  After six, Joy Cardin and her
guest invite you to share how the economic downturn has effected the
way you consume.Guest:  James Burroughs (BURR-ohs), Associate
Professor of Commerce, McIntyre School of Commerce, University of

Dishwasher? I never had a dishwasher. I never had a microwave. Guess I have always been in a recession. Now as for the clothes dryer? That depends on your perspective. I suppose the people saying that Clothes Dryers are luxuries have the luxury of living in a nice dry climate where you can hang your clothes out to dry on a clothesline. I assume they also have the luxury of having enough open yard space that affords them the room to have an outdoor clothesline that's not under trees and eaves where you get tree debris and bird poop on your clean clothes. And in inclement weather, I suppose these people also have the luxury of having a roomy basement or laundry room where they can hang their clothes inside. It seems that if you have the space and room and fortunate climate that affords you the ability to go without a Clothes Dryer, you are the one with the luxury.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009


So I was searching on "Purple and Green" (don't ask) and happened upon this.

Who cares if it's healthy....I'd love to grow those just for the colors. Better check the seed catalogs.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009



It is "kal-SEDn-ee".

Not "chal-sed-OH-nee."

Fooled me, Stan AND Bill.

Merriam-Webster link


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Potential Disaster Diverted

I am very relieved that Kathleen Falk has won relection for Dane County Supervisor. It was a bit scary last night as the election results were coming in online, since Mistele was ahead pretty far. One of the local news stations was showing a Mistele supporter, a 20-something rural blonde, stating how she hopes Mistele wins because she doesn't want her taxes raised to support a commuter train since she'll never use it. I wanted to reach through my tv and slap her senseless.

I had to keep telling myself that the precincts reporting early at that time were rural, and sure enough, with each update the gap narrowed, until Falk was ahead. Then after about 33% reporting, the nightly news declared her a winner.

Last weekend Stan actually helped distribute campaign literature for Falk's campaign in conjunction with AFSCME, his union, and we got our very first political yard sign! It's odd how many people in the union at his old work place are Republicans (this was a non-partisan election, yet obviously, Falk is Dem and Mistele Rep). The disconnect is amazing. Put the Republicans in power in the county and they go for privatization and these people would face losing their jobs. I hear they did that they privatized either Milwaukee or some other county and now it's a mess, but it's too late. These coworkers just don't get it, biting the hands that feed them. Fortunately, that team of near-retirements are getting pretty powerless, and it's a good thing since Stan will be leaving the courthouse as a worksite and heading back to the "prairie" where these walking contradictions also work, where he worked since 1997 until 2006. Same job title, same employer, different worksite, different atmosphere. He's doing this to save his health. The courthouse had its advantages: Bike, walk, or bus to work, no hillbilly coworkers, a nice law library with WiFi to take a break in, when he got a break. But the disadvantages outweighed them. The kind of food preparation was extremely hard on his wrists. He has developed carpal tunnel, and he is the only one involved in cooking, so the burden is entirely on him. Sometimes he'd go from 6 am until 2 without a break due to the lack of coworkers. Although he'll have to drive to the prairie, the workload will be less. There are more people there to take over in the absence of coworkers. He'll actually be able to get breaks, and in the summer there's the prairie, which is beautiful and relaxing. He'll be able to run errands like post office runs on the way back from work which will save time having to make special trips. There's a post office down the street from "the prairie" in Verona, unlike downtown Madison, which believe it or not, does not have a full-service post office. I know, mind boggling. But the most important thing is his health. Since we both will have to work until the day we die, it's important to keep that.

Had (shudder the thought) Mistele won, this would have been a very different post. I probably would have been cursing Chief Niwot at making the prospect of returning all too real. I don't have to worry about that, at least for another 4 years or so. Job security for Stan, hopefully the commuter train will become a reality and he could potentially use it to commute to the prairie. Chief Niwot's curse still does not apply to us. Madison is where I live. And I want to keep it that way.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Back to Meat

Last week I got really bad abdominal pain after eating Edamame. This past weekend, after eating Tofu, I got a lump on my tongue, and what felt like a lump in my throat, chills and diarrhea. I realized what is happening. I am allergic to Soy. Unfortunately, being a vegetarian/pescaterian was going really well. I'm actually someone who likes soy products...Edamame, Tofu, Bean Curd, etc. But I can't continue being a vegetarian/pescatarian without the Soy protein in my diet. I have to return to meat, so I get that protein.

Last night I ate half of a lamb shoulder cut, and for lunch I finished the rest of it. It was so delicious. I couldn't believe how good it tasted after all this time. While I had not been eating meat, I really had no desire to eat it, so I was fearing when I started again, the taste would make me sick. It didn't.

I can still eat other legumes, fortunately, green beans, lima beans, peas, peanuts, lentils, garbanzos. It's not all legumes, just soy. Stomach pains is bad enough, but getting bumps and lumps in my throat? That's scary. That could lead to swelling and anaphylactic shock.

I feel like no matter what I try to do for my diet, nothing works. I went off of meat because I wanted to eliminate the fat from my diet, because I thought *that* had made me sick. But it didn't work. Now, what is supposed to be "healthy" is making me sick too.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Oh No! Dick Died!


This is so strange, because I never would have known had I not found it accidentally by searching for something completely unrelated which caused me to bring up the Ft. Collins obituaries. Today's obituary. How odd is that? It was like I was supposed to know. Why? Dick was an Old Towne Fort Collins institution, like Barney. Stan and I knew it was a good trip if we happened to see Dick and Barney on the street while driving through Fort Collins on vacation. And I was just writing about those vacations in my previous post today. Odd.


A Ride in the Country

Yesterday I took Stan to the Dentist, and afterward I was going to head off to the Cottage Grove Post Office as I always do when I take Stan to the Dentist...a errand driving consolidation type thing. It was hardly a consolidated trip.

As you approach the Dental Office/Fitness Center/Bank/Who Knows What Else building complex going east on Cottage Grove Road, you turn left, then another left to get into the parking lot. I guess I had been on auto pilot, so I knew I had to then turn right, then right again to get back out to the Cottage Grove Road intersection, where I would at that point turn left to head to Cottage Grove. I've done this several times before. I know how to get to the Cottage Grove Post office, it's the easiest trip in the world, just a straight shot down Cottage Grove Road. Except my mind was occupied. Earlier that day, an ebay customer, a Disney Witch who bought over $200 worth of merchandise from me and had not yet paid after 18 days, became NARU*, which meant, I was out that $200. Sure, I still had the merchandise, but I'm out the time initially organizing her stuff into neat little packages, I'm now out the time having to put her stuff back into the original packages they came from, I'm out the time contacting her asking her when she was going to pay, I'm out the time having to file to get my Final Value Fees back (she bought a lot of items) and I'm out the mental $200 that I had planned on using to pay bills. Bitch. Psychotic #&@*!%$ "My Bank is issuing me a new Credit Card and I haven't gotten it yet" Bitch. So that was on my mind. So when I exited out the back entrance of the parking lot, not the entrance I came in, my Autopilot turned right, then right, and then left. But since it was not the entrance I came in, I needed an extra right in there before the left. So I headed out toward Cottage Grove Post Office, but not on Cottage Grove Road...on Sprecher Road.
*Not a Registered User

Stan and I had remarked as we were heading there how Cottage Grove Road was getting more and more built up. Years ago after you went over the I-90 Overpass, it was all country. Not any more. And as I headed out on Sprecher Road, which I thought was Cottage Grove Road, it seemed even more built up. It seemed weird. I didn't remember that median. And where was the 55 mph 2 lane country road? It was now 40 mph and a 4 lane. Everything looked different. And what was that interstate underpass? I didn't remember that before either. Things sure changed in the few months we were out last. Maybe I just wasn't paying attention before. Maybe they were always there. Maybe I just couldn't remember.

I drove quite a ways, thinking at any moment the scenery will start to look familiar. It never did. After about 3 miles I got a strange panicky feeling. I realized I had no idea where I was. I retraced my steps and realized my error of prematurely turning left and not getting on Cottage Grove. I figured out I was going north, not east (it was a cloudy day...there was no sun to guide). I then thought if I turn right, I'll be heading east at least, and then I could find another north/south connecting road to Cottage Grove. I turned at the first stop sign I found, Nelson Rd. I headed east about a mile, but I don't think I'd ever been out there before and didn't know where it would lead me. I decided to turn into a country residential neighborhood road that looped around. I then took Nelson back to Sprecher (which had turned into Reiner at some point...roads do that a lot around here), and then back to the Dentist office/Cottage Grove intersection, and then back out to Cottage Grove to get to the post office. By the time I finally made it back to the Dental Office, Stan was still waiting for his appointment. I was hoping that wasn't the case. I had hesitated calling him on our cells because I wouldn't want him to get the call while he had dental junk in his mouth. He had been worried why I had taken so long, fearing I'd been in an accident. No, the car was fine. But was I? It was all like some surreal dream. I have dreams where I find myself in the middle of some country area and I don't know how I got there. That's what this was like. I hope it wasn't some early senility. I'm hoping it was just a preoccupied mind. Stupid Manic Bipolar Disney Witches on Shopping Sprees.

As we drove home, I started thinking about the Homologous Streets of Madison and Fort know, a street in Madison that reminds me of a street in Fort Collins. Then it hit me...they'd make great names for characters in novels or movies:

Monona Lemay. Elizabeth Milwaukee. The twin brothers, Winnebago and Williamson (Willy) Remington (very old west sounding, that). Mason Atwood. Stuart Buckeye. Sherman and Johnson Shields. Harmony Pflaum. Mr. Nesbitt Bingham Hill (proper English chap). Drake Midvale. Lesser Loftsgordon**. Sheldon Forster...Stan might not get that one...I had to look it up myself...Sheldon is the road by City Park where we fed the seagulls heart-shaped biscuits and Forster is the road that goes by Warner Park where we hear frogs in the spring.
**I totally see Lesser Loftsgordon as a William H. Macy Fargo Jerry Lundegaard character type.

Some of the street combo names make better sounding places, like Washington College, or University College (Stan says it was just a college with no panache, so they named it "University College" to make it sound better.) Then there's the employment agency that all the graduates of University College end up going to, "First Prospect."

There are probably more homologous name possibilities, and I've exhausted my mental map of both cities. I used GoogleMaps to help me remember street names, and in doing so I found all these names of neighborhoods in Fort Collins that I didn't know existed when I lived there. If I look at a Madison map, neighborhood names appear...Tenney-Lapham, Greenbush, Old Market Place, Carpenter-Ridgeway, (oddly, my neighborhood, Schenks-Atwood, is not shown). But GoogleMaps shows a whole new side of Fort Collins that never existed to me before: Sinnard? What the heck is Sinnard? (just north of 14 on I-25) Black Hollow Junction? (between Sinnard and Andersonville...actually, I did hear of Andersonville when I lived there). Side Hill? (east of Parkwood). East Dale? (around Stover and Locust). And here's a shocker...Omega!!!!! (corner of College and Horsetooth). Back in high school, there was a spot called Omega that was behind an old Safeway store off Prospect and College. It was undeveloped near a creek. People went there to get stoned. That's all I'll say about it. Not really sure of the places I parents live between "Old Fort Collins HIgh School" and "University Acres," although I only heard them refer to it as the latter. When we lived on Grant Street, it was either "Mantz" or "University North." On Peterson, it was sort of triangulated between University Park, East Dale, and Old Fort Collins High School. Very weird sensation thinking about this stuff. Just last year, I was there. Visiting. I had fun. I love vacations. But I can't go every year. I guess it's part of the deal I made with Chief Niwot.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Ok, explain the logic in Starbuck's move to stop brewing decaf after noon. Isn't after noon the time when coffee drinkers start switching from regular to decaf? Who drinks decaf before noon? Before noon, in the morning, is when you need regular coffee with caffeine. The later in the day, the more you'll want less caffeine.

I'm confused.

Starbucks sucks anyway. Their coffee sucks, you have to pay for WiFi there, and their employees are snotty party college kids in the Greek system (except one sympathetic guy who told me about their competitor across the road...Panera--thanks non-frat boy Starbucks employee guy). Panera's WiFi is free, coffee is better (it tastes real...Starbucks tastes fake), and I love their little souflees. All Starbucks seems to have (at least last time I looked) is sweet mini souflees.

There's another thing I don't understand, unrelated to the above.

Why hasn't Limbaugh stroked out yet?


Friday, November 07, 2008

Fall Colors

Tree color was pretty this year in Wisconsin, but what really surprised me was the color on a couple of our own trees/bushes here.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

You Can't Go Home Again

When I was a kid, almost every summer my mom and I would spend a few weeks at my grandmother's. This was a strange ritual in which my mom got her freedom away from my father which both of us enjoyed. We got to eat delicious steak and farmer's eggs and have real butter on wheat bread, and fresh-squeezed orange juice. We had wonderful vegetables grown by a local farmer, and I got to eat candy my mom would buy at a local grocery store. Food was delicious there, mostly because it was whole or partly financed by my grandmother. She was not rich, she was living on social security, but generous with whatever meager savings she had gotten from her deceased husband, my grandfather I don't remember. This was so unlike my father who had us eating the worst cheap frozen orange juice I simply couldn't drink, weiners and beans and ground beef, and margarine on cheap white bread because it was cheaper than butter. Not only did I get better food at my grandmother's, I got to live fairly stress-free and dad-free for two to three weeks.

My mom never learned to drive. She tried when she was young, then later when I was young, but she couldn't deal with it. Claimed it was her eyesight, her depth perception due to one extremely nearsighted eye and one farsighed one. Could be. I failed the depth perception question on my last driver's license test because my middle-aged sight is now doing the same very nearsighted eye and one eye getting increasingly farsighted. But they still renewed my license. And I wasn't always like that as she claimed to be. We didn't have "soccer moms" back when I was young, but whatever the equivalent was...moms to take us neighborhood kids on birthday party outings or whatever, I never had that. We'd always take public transit, or walk or I'd ride my bike. And being from east of the Mississippi makes a difference, as I found out when I moved to Wisconsin. There are more people here who learned how to drive as adults, not at 16 like I did as a teen in Colorado. Having grown up in southeastern Wisconsin with decent public transportation, my mom never felt not driving was an obstacle.

So because my mom didn't drive and because my dad didn't come with, when it came time to visit my grandmother, we took trains in the 1960s, and then in the 1970s we took planes. I don't remember the short trainride we took when I was still a little kid in Indiana. I do remember it was the Hiawatha Express that went from South Bend to Gary to Chicago and up to Kenosha and Racine. I have two odd memories of it, one was getting my pinky finger cut by inserting it in some air vent as a curious kid is apt to do. I also remember singing "Madamoiselle from Armentieres" (lyrics) or one of its many variations, outloud and loud, while my mom turned beet red and wanted to die of embarrassment, probably for teaching me the song in the first place. (The big question: Why would such prudish people such as my parents teach me a bawdy drinking song from WWI?) Another proud moment of punkish upsurpmanship from my younger days. I remember scratchy maroon velvet upholstery on the seats and maroon plastic on the walls...a maroon only slightly darker than the shade of red my embarrassed mom turned. The other trainride we only took once, and that was when we lived in Massachusetts. We had a sleeping car and our own private room. I slept on the top bunk and my mom on the bottom, but at night she let me come down to the bottom so I could look out the window and watch the night ride by. There was nothing more fun than riding a train across the country.

The plane rides were less memorable, probably because they were shorter and there were more of them, so they sort of ran together. I decided after my first one at 9 years old that I wanted to be a stewardess, (that is "flight attendant" in postmodernspeak) that and coupled with some swinging late 60s/early 70s TV show that featured stewardesses and their mod urban life that I watched, and the occasional stewardess girlfriend of one of the Odd Couple guys (A show that I only got to watch at my grandmothers for unknown reasons). Fortunately, we aren't held to our childhood ambitions. After we arrived in Racine, we made our way to my grandmother's house by bus. We'd start out at the airport and take a limo shuttle (filled with stubby, smelly, cigar-smoking businessmen) to the Milwaukee Bus Depot which contained an interesting collection of hippies, hare krishnas, sailors and pimps. The air was filled with unpleasant human odors and cheap food, and canned prerecorded sounds of "Wisconsin Coachlines Route Number blah blah blah is leaving for...Waukesha, Pewaukee, Oconomowoc..." The announcer pronounced these uniquely Wisconsin-sounding cities with a scratchy staccato enunciation..every single year the same recording, the same cities, the recording getting scratchier and less audible. I personally fixated on the word "Oconomowoc" and the way the announcer guy said it. I wondered what was in sounded odd, foreign. It was part of the unknown, mysterious Wisconsin, not the recognizable southeast corridor between Milwaukee and Racine. Oconomowoc was further west, out where it was hillier like that mystery place Madison, where my mom went to school, and the place that was my accidental future. Years later, Stan and I made an emergency pit stop at a Culver's in Oconomowoc. Oconomowoc was nothing special.

We'd take the Badger or Wisconsin Coachline to Racine, which was never as nice as the Greyhounds we'd sometimes take to the Denver Airport. It was scratchy, cramped and smelly and looked like it was from the 50s. As the bus eased out of the depot, the trip back in time began, as we drove past the derelict buildings in Milwaukee with winos lying on the street, yes, this was still the 70s, but as we drove through the countryside, and at that time there was still countryside between the two cities, time slipped backwards. By the time we hit Oak Creek, it was the early 60s suburbia, and then by the outskirts of Racine it was before I was born. Everything I was seeing then was from the view of someone else's eyes. It was no longer my world. I was someone else. I no longer had a father in another state living in a suburban area, for I no longer had a father. My mom was single, widowed, divorced, raising me on her own. We got off the bus at the corner by my grandmother's, a small, plain bungalow in a row of bungalows built aproximately in 1910. There was an old business across the street that might have sold shoes. People lived above it. A family. A poor urban family. I imagined I was one of the urban poor, fatherless and living with my mom and grandmother. I had no bedroom, I slept in the living room. I would find strange clothes in drawers and closets and put them on and pretend this was all I had. I would imagine years of this, sleeping in the living room until finally my mom and grandma decide to give me my own room and reconvert the dining room...except that would never happen. My mom would never actually leave my dad, although she would mention it in a hypothetical context "we could convert the dining room so you could have your own bedroom." But it would never happen, and I'd be shocked back into reality when we'd return to New York or Colorado. But for the time being, we had to get my grandmother's house liveable for us for the next couple of weeks, and that included cleaning, and going grocery shopping.

There were two main grocery stores (not counting a little market a few blocks across the street), Kohl's and Piggly Wiggly. Kohl's was south of grandma's house about half a mile. We used to have several Kohls in Madison, now we have none. Piggly Wiggly was a few blocks north. Although my mom liked going to Kohl's because she'd occasionally see a distant cousin working there, and their selection was bigger, Piggly Wiggly was the first place we'd go to because it was a closer walk, and after a day of flying, one can get pretty burned out. The only thing I didn't like about going shopping was having to bring my grandmother's shopping cart with us (the kind that folds out that hunched over old ladies in kerchiefs and stockings rolled down around their ankles grandmother was the model for that stereotype). But I liked the fact we could pick out food and my dad would have no say whatsoever that this or that was too expensive and he couldn't afford it. I was now an urban midwestern fatherless creature. I was not the person back home, back east or out west, punished and tortured and made to eat skeletal scrapings mixed with filler because they were inexpensive. We were buying steak. And popsicles. All the women working at Piggly Wiggly were older, older than my mom, even. And I'd even get to buy some candy, some carmel, walnut...I don't know what they were but I'd know them if I saw them.

Yesterday, Stan had to go to the dentist again, so while I took him out there, there being halfway to Cottage Grove, I ran some errands while he was being worked on. I went to the Cottage Grove post office, and to the Piggly Wiggly which is in a shopping center right next door to the post office. It's the only time I get to go to Piggly Wiggly as there is none in Madison. And I have to admit I feel an odd sort of nostalgia, considering my once yearly visits to the Racine Piggly. It makes me think of food unencumbered by my dad's strict financial policy. I thought I'd get myself some of those carmel, walnut...whatever they were...candies. Except I found none. So I pull up to a check out line that had its light on and and looked open. The young checkout clerk was cleaning off the glass scanner thing. She looked a bit inconvenienced that I was loading my groceries on the conveyor belt (well, she could've put up a "closed" sign) or told me she was closed if she wasn't ready). About 3/4 of the way through ringing up my items, she asked me if I had a Pig Card. That just sounded funny to me, and I told her I didn't. Then she really looked angry, angry because I didn't have a Pig Card. She hesitated a bit and then continued to ring my items up. I handed her my check, and she took it to someone else, who took it to someone else, who looked over at me and laughed and stared at my check and stared back at me, who took it to someone else. She came back and told me that they need to have a check approved if it's over $30 and the person doesn't have a Pig Card. I told her I don't shop there very often. Why would I have a Pig Card if I don't shop there very often, I wondered silently. Then we waited some more while someone else verified my check somehow and someone else asked me for my driver's license. There were about 3 grocery clerks there, all about half my age or younger, all nervously throwing darting glances my way at me as if I was a terrorist. All I wanted to do was buy some groceries, pay with my perfectly good check from a bank account I've had for a decade or more, and get back to Stan at the Dentist's. I asked her how can I get a Pig Card (notice they never volunteer any of the information...we always have to ask.) She explained, and so when I was finally able to be verified that my check and I were legitimate and I was not a terrorist or criminal, I stopped by the front desk and waited, and waited, and waited until finally the woman who had asked to see my driver's license earlier (who resembled a pig herself) appeared. It's like they were hiding, and didn't want to help me get the Damn Pig Card that they required I get! As I left, I felt all the clerks in the store were staring at me, a freak without a Pig Card! How DARE I buy groceries from them without a Pig Card!

Other grocery stores I go to in Madison have other ways of veryifying your don't have to be a card-carrying member of Pig Plastic in order to buy from them. I hate the card system...they're bulky in your wallet, they provide no discounts (although that's what they "supposedly" do) and all it does is gather your personal information and what you buy, so you can skew the demographics for direct marketers. They never required Pig Cards back in the day at the Racine Piggly Wiggly. I was going to that Piggly before they were born, hell, I'd venture to bet I was going to that Piggly before their parents were born.

Any half-hearted attempt to squeeze any remote sense of nostalgia out of a trip to Piggly Wiggly failed. You can't go home again, and you can't even go to your temporary summer home again. Go directly to customer service (Homeland Security) and pick up your temporary paper pig card. Do not pick up any candies you may have fond memories of. You can put new and improved lipstick on this pig, but it won't be the same pig. It's a whole other animal...a pack of cackling hyaenas perhaps?

I should be expecting my Pig Card in the mail in about 4 weeks, after which I should be a Happy Pig Camper.

In a Pig's Eye.


Thursday, September 11, 2008


No bike riding today...rainyish. Took some time to find frames for my new eyeglass prescription. I decided to bite the bullet: I'm getting progressive bifocals. Yup...this will be scary. I sure hope I can adjust. I also decided to get a new set of prescription sunglasses since my old ones are 3 years old and I don't think I can't see as well. Those aren't bifocals though as I won't be reading when I'm biking, passengering or driving. For the regular glasses I got some red wire/partially rimless frames with rhinestones on the side. I had a hard time deciding between the squarish purple plastic frames with a stripe of rhinestones on the front and the more upturned oval plastic ones with a tortiseshell pattern. I liked the color and rhinestones of the former and the shape and pattern of the latter. If only they made oval upturned purple tortiseshells with rhinestones. I decided to go for the purple rhinestone ones. They said I have 30 days to change my mind.


Why EBay Grabs my Goat

Well, not eBay the Entity...okay, scratch that, yes, eBay the Entity, eBay the Corporation *does* piss me off as a seller with their changing policies, higher fees, less exposure, yadda yadda, the usual storeowner gripes. But that's not what this is about.

I had a little problem the past couple days, not a big problem, just a little glitchy problem. Like most large Web 2.0 sites, ebay has a bunch of forums available to ask questions. I ask a question about it on one forum, no one is able to answer, so someone directs me to another forum. I ask there. One person replies and suggests I contact ebay directly by phone. I do that, turns out the problem is a permanent thing ebay has changed and there's no way to undo other words, it's not a glitch, it's a feature. OK, that sucks, but not as much as the fact that only two people replied to my post, and it was with "go ask somewhere else" sort of responses. Not one "yeah, that's happening to me too, wish they didn't remove that feature." Nothing.

Ebay's boards are filled with FORMER store owners and sellers who have since abandoned shop and gone elsewhere, yet they still hang out on the ebay boards to gripe about ebay--not that there aren't things to complain about, but I sure as hell wouldn't hang out somewhere I don't do business at anymore just to complain. It's like people who graduate but never "leave" high school. These boards also contain racist anti-Obama postings. WTF? Why can't people just use the forums to ask questions about ebay issues? Granted, no one is paid to answer questions, and whoever does answer a question does so out of generosity, not as part of a paid or volunteer position, since they're just ebay members like myself. But still. There's no community feeling...just antagonism.

I suspect a couple reasons nobody replied...1) I'm not a "boardie" regular (in other words, I have a life, and only go there when there's a problem with ebay to see if other people are experiencing the same thing) so there's no name-recognition with my handle. and 2) People are too caught up with their Ebay Bashing and Democrat Bashing (which is a really odd couple of bedfellows) that they don't even notice when one of their ebay tools isn't functioning like it used to.

You know, despite the fact I only have a cellphone with minimal daytime minutes, next time something is wonky, I'm calling eBay directly. I was pleasantly surprised that I got a phone response quickly and didn't stay on hold long at all. To hell with the illiterate hillbilly board people. They're like union members who vote equivalent of Stan's job. They can flag wave all they want and support right-wing agendas, but when a corporation changes their policies they get all up in arms. And who are you voting for again?

It's this silence. You post a question, intelligently written, explaining your problem as clearly as you can and it's met with silence. You picture them in your mind's eye, mouths gaping slack-jawed gum chewing daytime network tv watching, staring at their monitor and the question reads: "kei, sleis qwikdb s lsoe scnvk dkdirjcydkl ekto-zkscvd sl ?" They pop another WalMart brand bonbon in their mouth and move on to another question they can comprehend, something about their grandchildren, their mobile home, their SUV and ATVs and dirt bikes and how the Democrats are going to raise their taxes.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Gustav and The Kitchen Sink

Last Sunday, due to hurricane Gustav, John McCain urges Republicans and Conventioneers to "take off our Republican hats and put on our American hats." does this mean that normally Republicans aren't Americans? Yes, yes, I believe that must be the case.

And they called Hillary "Shrill". Hillary has nothing on this nails-on-a-chalkboard squeaky mouse on steroids. Hillary's voice is like a smooth drink of warm velvet compared to this. Yes, I watched it...for the amusement value and to get my blood boiling (not that I really need that with high blood pressure and all). A "see how what the other half thinks" sort of thing.

OK, Gustav is HERE. Yes, here in the upper midwest up nort dere here. This really stinks for so many reasons, not that we don't need the calm steady rain or the cooler temperatures. Well, maybe it doesn't stink.. Maybe it's good. Maybe it's just for my own selfish reasons. Here's what happened:

Last Friday was the first time I could ride my bike since I was sick during the first part of that week. Things were looking was Labor Day weekend and we had a three-day weekend to ride bikes. Friday, due to mega errands we had to do beforehand, we rode on a path closer to town (through Fitchburg, to be precise) than our usual excursions into the country on the State Trails. It was a paved ride, but very up and down hilly. Maybe about 4 miles round trip, between Syene road and Glacier View (a suburban road about a block from Fish Hatchery Road). It was part of the Capital City Trail. Very exhausting, very hot, pretty winding. We went through a nature preserve that was next to a public hunting ground. Odd. Pretty though. Parts of it reminded me of reoccurring dreams I would have where we drive into a natural area with grass and tall trees and water and there's lots of people all heading the same way. I think the dream is about dying. But anyway...

Then on Saturday mid morning, we went out past Mount Horeb to a place where we could park near the bike path close to Blue Mounds, and rode back to 78 where we ended the last Military Ridge Trail ride more than a week before. It was a quick ride to, but hell coming back. The sun was getting close to noon and it was a scorcher of a day, plus we were going uphill coming back. That's all we could ride...about 4 miles round trip again. We were hoping it would cool off for the rest of the weekend, but it didn't, each day getting hotter and hotter, until Tuesday, the hottest of them all. And Wednesday (yesterday) I had an eye doctor's appointment, so naturally I couldn't ride after that because my eyes were all anesthetized from the pressure test and dilated and wonky and I couldn't see (thank goodness Stan came with me...I surely wouldn't be able to drive home). And of course, on that day, the weather was PERFECT. Absolutely perfect. So we think, hey, it'll be even cooler today, Thursday, this will be a great day for a ride, even better weather. But no. This is when the remnants of Gustav decide to show up nort here. No bike rides for you. No, this isn't some west to east system passing through. Looking at a radar weather map online, this is a big swirling mass that's going to stick around all day. Not that I don't have lots of errands to do instead...But I feel like I've been cheated out of biking, either due to weather or doc appointments or being sick, or whatever. It's quite addicting. It's like the more you take these bike rides, the more you want to go. It will be very frustrating in the winter. I'm not one for riding in ice and snow. Never was.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

I Hate The Food Network or Whatever It Is.

I'm sitting in the Dentist's Office waiting for Stan...just in case I have to drive him home. They have a TV on. I never thought I'd say this, but gimme the traditional dentist office elevator muzak. This TV is provoking me to want to commit horrible crimes. It's on the food network or something. The happy homemaker suburban woman was bad enough (at least it wasn't Rachel Ray) but now they have a southern woman on cooking "ribs and kraut" (barf) speaking in a really thick southern accent and she keeps saying "y'aowl". I want to strangle her, but she's just a digitally projected image and sound. I hate her. I don't know her, but I hate her. I hate her. She is really irritating. Fortunately I brought my laptop along...I got some work done, but I have to do some creative copywriting and it is impossible to do that because I need to think and this is really interfering with my ability to do anything but very simple tasks. Anthony Bourdain would really hate these shows. Can someone switch this to MSNBC? I think the receptionists like this stuff. This is why I work at home.


Bugs and Software

Monday I woke up feeling like hell and have basically felt like hell for the entire week. I don't know what I got...some bug...

achey stomach - check
headache - check
achey throat /neck - check
sore eyes - check
cough - check
sneezing - check
runny eyes - check
sore throat - nope
inability to sleep - check
mild laryngitis - check
runny nose - nope
fatigue - check
muscle aches - nope

So essentially the symptoms I usually get in the winter when I have a cold--sore throat, runny nose and muscle aches--are missing from this summer bug, but I have everything else. I've been staying in bed trying out software on my new MacBookPro. I bit the bullet and ordered an upgrade to Photoshop CS3 while I can...before they don't allow upgrades from version 7 anymore (like they did with Illustrator...the latest version I have is 9, and the cutoff for upgrades is 10...I have to buy a whole new damn CS3 version! Damn!!!!)

I felt really awful Tuesday night as we listened to the Democratic Convention on the radio in the bedroom. I haven't even felt like getting up and going to the living room and watching TV...OD'd on that during the Olympics. Yesterday I felt fairly good in the morning and got a lot done and thought we could go for a bike ride, but by the time Stan got home I was lying flat in bed again. So I used that time to download a demo of iWorks. iWorks has taken the place of Appleworks since about 2005 when they stopped supporting AW and have taken off all mention of it from their site, other than stating they don't support it.

Gone are the Paint and Draw modules that came w/AW. No big loss...they were like MacPaint and MacDraw from 1985 (which I used a lot during my free time at Kinko's)...I mean, it would be silly for me to use those apps now except to affect 80s computer art. Gone also is the Database module. Now *that* will be sorely missed. I used that every day as a checkbook transaction tracker and I kept track of all my sales and expenditures for tax records. iWork has no equivalent database program.

AW's Presentation module (which I never used) is now iWork's Keynote which looks a lot slicker, and from what I read, blows MS's PowerPoint out of the water. I don't know if I'd use it, but maybe I could figure out how to make SWFs of art or jewelry or something. I don't make presentations (images of polyester suited people with briefcases, pointers, and pie charts), but maybe something automatic and artistic for the web might be nice since I never really could figure out Flash much and never upgraded past version 4 (too technical).

AW's word processing module is now iWork's Pages, and AW's spreadsheet is now iWork's Numbers. I made use of AW's spreadsheet in a most unusual way. Visit any of my jewelry pages, either my main page or the pages on the left navigation bar (not the individual item pages). The listings of jewelry items with the thumbnails was all done with with AW's spreadsheet. It was so easy to organize jewelry listings that way, shuffle and sort items, alphabetize long lists, delete sold items and add new items. It would have been hell to do that in BBEdit (my HTML program of choice...yes, I raw code, can you believe it?), so I just constructed a sort of "container" page with Server Side Includes and have the included content in the spreadsheet. When it came time add the new content, I'd just make my changes on the spreadsheet and export it out as ASCII text. Unfortunately, I found out quickly that wasn't too clean as it put in tabs between columns. So after the export I had to open it up in BBEdit and clear out the tabs. I know, kind of cludgey, but it was the only way I knew to deal with it, and it was certainly much more efficient and error-free than if I would've created the whole list of items into one BBEdit HTML file. That would have been a nightmare trying to sort out. I know there's database (Filemaker?) programs out there that can probably do that automatically, but I have absolutely no idea how to run anything like that on my server, and no one to show me how either. I thought this was rather ingenious that I figured out as much using AppleWorks's Spreadsheet.

With System OS X 10.5 and our new Intel-based Macs, Appleworks is showing signs of breaking. Nothing major, but when I try to export an ASCII file as .txt, it won't add the .txt or it adds two periods, or something weird. Not as smooth a workflow as I'd like. That's why I wanted to check out iWorks. But iWorks' Numbers, despite many improvements, doesn't export TXT files. It doesn't even export RTF (Rich Text). Just PDF, CSV and XLS. PDF is's graphical, not text. And either CSV or XLS put in a whole bunch of commas and quoted everything that cannot be removed with one quick search and replace in BBEdit. It does import my old AppleWorks spreadsheets nicely, however. Exporting is another matter. But I'll get to that later. Then I figured out that iWork's Pages *can* export plain text. I cobbled together a spreadsheet-like table setup in Pages that worked fairly well and exported clean text (except for tabs...face it, if you have tabular data, tabs are a fact of life in exported table text). But it wasn't...right. I kept having to adjust the height of the rows when I added and deleted data. It didn't look as neat and clean as a real spreadsheet.

Then I was playing around this morning with Numbers and found out I could have multiple spreadsheets in one document! I have a couple dozen spreadsheets for my jewelry content...that would be convenient to have them all in one file. Then I also figured out that I could select a spreadsheet and copy/paste it into BBEdit. It copies it clean (with tabs, of getting around that) with none of that gunky comma quote CSV/XLS garbage. How sweet is that? I can already use pre-existing BBEdit text files...just delete the existing content and cut/paste from Numbers the new content...that way I don't have to create a new text file and accidentally misname it, search/replace tabs and voila! That even sounds BETTER than the individual spreadsheets with AppleWorks and the exporting. Fewer steps, fewer files.

Now as far as the checkbook register and income and expenditures tax info lists that we use AW's Database for...I downloaded a simple transaction tracker template that works in Numbers. Nothing fancy, but it WORKS, and I guess that's the point of the aptly named software, huh? $99 for a family pack so we can both use it on our laptops...not bad. Sure beats the price of a Photoshop Upgrade.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Olympics

Maybe I'm stupid, but I just don't get baseball. I don't get the scoring. I find watching it on tv during the Olympics boring. I know it's this big loved all-American game, but I just don' get it. Maybe I just wasn't raised in baseball culture. My grandfather liked baseball...played on some team, either at his job or just for fun. He was a typical farmboy union worker Wisconsin guy who played poker and went to bars to talk to the guys and died of a stroke at 68. But I never knew my grandfather. Died when I was about 2 or 3. Had he lived, he would've taken me fishing. I never had anyone to take me fishing. I always wanted to go fishing as a kid.

I love watching the or beach. I hated playing it in school, but love watching it. I love watching the other sports, even though I can't do them. Ping pong, yeah, I can do that. I got pretty good when I was a teenager. Played against myself a lot with the table turned halfway up. I wish we had room for a ping pong table now. Our house is small and cramped.

Oh and synchronized swimming...what's up with that? Now although I personally don't understand baseball or the whole mystique surrounding it, I still don't think it should be *eliminated* from the Olympics. Synchronized Swimming looks like a throwback to the 1940s. Why isn't it being cut? Certainly more people the world over love Baseball than Synchronized Swimming. It's just one of those cringe-inducing sports to watch. It's sort of a drama queen girly girl thespian thing...but not my thing, and I don't think I'm in the minority on that.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Biking and New MacBook Pro

Today we went from County Road Y outside of Johnson Creek to Switzke Rd. It was a very hot and humid day, and according to my calculations (find map in Mapquest, take Picture in Safari, Open it up in Photoshop, use the measuring tools to determine distance) it was about 1.9 miles one way. Stan thought it felt like over 4 miles. Both of us were pretty tired later in the day.

I have my new Macbook Pro. Except for the obvious (can't run Photoshop in Classic to use my favorite plugins and will need to run CS3--that is, when I do eventually upgrade--in Rosetta [Power PC emulation for the Intel processor] when I'm using it in "artistic mode" [i.e., when I'm making art as opposed to using it just to process photo files] in order to use even OS X compatible plugins) the computer is GREAT!

Well, that's not all. This computer is hot

What, stolen?

No, hot, really hot. We're sweating like pigs, man.

Maybe I better check the trunk for dead aliens from Roswell.

It also gets to be quite weighty on my legs, not because it's heavier (it actually seems lighter than my G4 iBook), but because of the weight distribution. All of the weight seems to be in the rear (see, it's the aliens in the trunk!) where it rests on my legs toward my knees.

They did a migration from my deceased G4 Desktop, so I have all my files, which I'm now filing away and will archive (I should've done that years ago), so all my email was set up already...none of that hassle.

I put my G4 ibook up in the retirement zone upstairs so I can use it with my 19" monitor. It works well that way.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Death in the "Family"

...of Computers. Yup. 2001 G4 Quicksilver Desktop is dead. Yesterday the Apple guy opened it up, tried a few things, looked a little puzzled, asked me how old it was, entered a few things on his computer, looked up information, etc. He said it could be the logic board or the cpu, both of which I would've paid to fix, however because it's over 7 years old, they can't even get PARTS anymore. Planned obsolescence. So I decided to go for broke (literally) and invest in a 15-inch MacBook Pro. I'm not getting another desktop...too bulky, too stationary. I already have two extremely elderely "beige" computers lying around in the computer nursing home that I don't know what to do with since it costs money to recycle appliances and computers in this town, and I am just a little hesistant to give them up. I guess if I get desperate to use certain Photoshop filters I can still start up the 1998 model...oh the pain of slowness.

The laptop I'm currently using will either be used upstairs where my late G4 desktop used to be, and hook it up to its former monitor, or I'll use the new one upstairs. I haven't decided yet. I don't even have the new one yet because they were booked up this afternoon with appointments, and I can't go tomorrow (Stan has a doc visit) so it won't be until Thursday.

That poor old desktop...I had so many sad things associated with it. When I first got it early August 2001, OS X was still so new, I would just stare at the monitor and feel confused by it all. Then in June 2002, a few days before my birthday, I accidentally wiped the hard drive out by doing something stupid, installing software that I didn't understand would wipe my hard drive clean. I spent days in a deep depression after that since I was unable to salvage some files I hadn't backed up. I felt my life had been deleted. Then in January 2005 the hard drive started slipping, so I had to have the hard drive replaced, fortunately they were able to salvage the files. And then this.

So now I can slowly transition to Leopard and an Intel Mac. My obvious reluctance has been software-based which young people who don't use vintage Photoshop plug-ins that aren't available for Intel Macs don't comprehend.

Well, I could write more about this, but I'm pretty depressed.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Glacial Drumlin and Computer Problems--again

I decided I'd keep a journal of all the bike rides I take for future reference. I sort of neglected to do that for much of the recent part of the Glacial Drumlin.

Today we went from "Popp Rd" which is SE of Lake Mills (near Aztalan), across County Rd N, underneath State Hwy 26, then it paralleled 26 for a while until it ended @ West Junction Rd. just outside of Jefferson. It was 4.5 miles round trip. Although it shows that on the official map, it doesn't show it ending abruptly like that on Mapquest, so we were really confused. I guess you can get back to it by riding on Junction Rd. and then taking Y, but that's a lot of rutty country roads with not much curb and no bike lane. So we'll skip that part and pick it up, maybe next weekend, where it begins again on Y as it heads toward Helenville, where I've never been before.

I'm really tired, probably from the Claritin I took yesterday and the Lorazepam I took last night so I could sleep from the Claritin.

Stan takes his bike in to be repaired tomorrow, my desktop computer died so I have to take it in after he gets home, and Stan has a doctor's appointment on Wednesday, so we might not get much riding in early this week. My poor computer. I have no clue what happened. It's depressing.

I know 4 and 5 mile treks may seem miniscule to many reading this, but keep in mind that I *never* rode that much even when I was in my teens and 20s and rode every day and depended on my bike as my ONLY form of transportation (other than city busses in bad weather, and of course, walking). Back then in the prehistoric ages, there weren't such things as recreational bike paths, so one just used city streets. Before starting to ride a year ago, I hadn't ridden for approx. 18 years or so. I owned no bike during that time. So it will take me quite a while, at 47, to get up to speed, as low as that speed may be.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008


Is it just me or are some of the Olympic athletes in certain sports overdressed? Case in point: In Women's Beach Volleyball they were wearing bikini bottoms (or whatever they were called) and matching sports bra top (sorry I'm really bad with fashion descriptions mostly because I really don't care about this stuff except when it comes to comfort). Now this seemed normal sportswear for the sport and the weather. However for the Men's Beach Volleyball, they had long baggy shorts and tops that just seemed waaaayyy too high up on the neck considering the temperatures outside. They looked very overheated in those clothes. I swear I've watched other Olympics where the Men's Beach Volleyball players were basically shirtless except for little loose whispy things that showed your team color, name and number. But full-length sport shirts with such high necklines? Why? I feel in pain watching them. Fortunately, the weather is nice here today, except my allergies and various Stan health problems are preventing us from biking today.

Also the swimmers...the men were wearing suits that went down the entire leg and covered their torsos. Why? And the women's tops on their suits had stranglingly high neckholes. Aaack. Now is there an aerodynamic explanation for this? It just seems a little overdressed to me, but then again, I'm thinking about comfort rather than the physics of sports performance.

I know if it was me there, I would've died of heatstroke just marching in on the opening ceremonies...but then again I'm not an athlete....and I would've had heatstroke as a pre-teen at 60 pounds as well as at 47 at 160 pounds....would make no difference as to my age or weight.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Riley to Klevenville

I rode the furthest today, from Riley to Klevenville on the Military Ridge State Trail. And back. Five miles total. Most days I've been hovering around 1-2 miles one way...I don't know what got into me today. It was uphill most of the way to Klevenville, and fortunately, downhill back toward Riley. It's so strange to first see these towns on a bike, rather than having discovered them first via car. Actually, they're not really towns...they're not even incorporated.

In June, I think, I rode the MRST from the trailhead outside Verona, through Fitchburg and up to Madison, and then back to the trailhead. That was about 4 miles, but that was paved. The path I rode today was all limestone gravel except for an unexplained paved part that was maybe 1/6 of a mile or so. We've been taking the MRST on weekdays after Stan gets off work because it's shorter to get there, and saving Glacial Drumlin for the weekends, since we've progressed a lot further down that one and need to drive quite a ways now to pick up where we leave off. On the second leg of our MRST trip we went west from the MRST trailhead through Verona and turned around at (Ninemound?). Day 3 we went from Ninemound Rd. to the hwy 151 tunnel, which was flooded, so we turned around and went back. Then Stan's tooth thing happened so we lost a couple weeks of fun. MRST Day 4 we parked in some pullout close to the Epic Center (giant borg that will swallow Verona...they make healthcare software) and biked back to 151, then back northwest up to Whitecrossing road, then back to our car. Saw a frog sitting in my path, but it hopped away before I could see what kind. That was a long ride for me. Then yesterday, Day 5, we went from Whitecrossing Rd. to the ?town? of Riley. We saw a pair of large cranes (Sandhill Cranes?) coming down for a landing on the Sugar River's wetlands which runs along the bike trail. At first it was so surreal, I thought it was people out in the field flying kites. They were incredible. There was also a little pull-off boardwalk on the trail where you could watch fresh spring water bubble up through the sand/mud. Today, there was another boardwalk with a guide to the various wildlife species found in the area. Lots of frogs...we'll have to come back in the spring.

It's been really nice weather for the past couple days and it should continue into the weekend, when we'll head back to Glacial Drumlin and pick up somewhere southeast of Lake Mills. The past weekends have been hot, so haven't been able to progress too far there. Next week when we go back on the MRST we'll be heading toward Mt. Horeb. I don't think I can make Klevenville to Mt. Horeb in one day. Well, I could, but it'd be a bitch going back, and the 5 miles today made me really tired and my hands were tingling from what Stan says is carpal tunnel...wonderful. It's not the actual riding which makes me tired, but my butt that really starts to hurt the last couple miles. And I'm worried the most about the sun...worried that I'll have a sunstroke. Yesterday we forgot our helmets at home, so we rode without, and although that means I got more sun on my head, I also wasn't turning as many colors as when I wear a helmet. The helmet heats up my head so much, and that's what worries me the most about trying to go really long distances. Plus I'm supposed to avoid the sun because birth control and hydrochlorothiazide meds cause photosensitivity. And I have rosacea (controlled by topical, I don't look scary). So essentially I have like 3 strikes against me. Plus I'm very light skinned. 4 strikes. I'm glad we're at a low sea elevation at least. I'd probably have collapsed from heatstroke if I was back in Colorado doing what I did today.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

That delicious Kosher Bacon-like flavor

Update: OK, you know how I said I would miss the taste of bacon? So I googled to see if Bac'Os have cholesterol. NO CHOLESTEROL!!!! We are totally getting Bac-O flavoured bits at the grocer ASAP!!!

I also noted in a Betty Crocker ad for BacOs is that they're now Kosher. This makes me laugh, because if you are raised in a tradition that practices Kosher food preparation, why would you have the craving for that delicious bacon flavor in the first place? Must be for converts.


It's ok to eat fish 'cause they don't have any feelings

So here's the story...

I'm not lazy, just really busy, so the first part of this entry I'm cut and pasting part of an email I wrote to a friend describing my past couple weeks at the time. By now it would be nearly my past three weeks:

"It's been a strange past couple weeks here. To make a long story extremely short, Stan was in a lot of pain, had a toothache, got a molar pulled last week, now he has to have an implant put in (fortunately it was a back tooth so the gaping hole can't be seen). 

"During this time my life was a living hell...I'm sure his was worse, but I was so worried because he kept putting off seeing a dentist not because he was terrified of seeing a dentist (like I am) but because he didn't want to call in sick to work because they're short staffed. Ugh. Then last Wednesday (the 16th) he came home in excruciating pain, all he was doing was putting ice on it and he wouldn't/couldn't talk and I said "that's it, we're taking you to the emergency clinic." I was a frazzled mess. He wanted me to stop by a local grocer and get some ice before we went because we don't have enough at home. When I came back to the car, he said, "hear me out, the pain is subsiding, I think I can go home now." I said "yeah right!" and proceeded to drive him to the emergency clinic. He's so glad I didn't listen to him now.

"Men can be so bloody stubborn and play that whole macho "I'll be ok!" thing! My dad is the same way.

"He got some pain meds and penicillin from the doctor. I could barely sleep those nights. I kept checking on him to make sure he was alive! Abscesses can kill if not properly treated, and I have no idea how long this had been going on because he told me Monday (the 15th) that he had been having pain "for a couple of weeks." Who knows how long that is in man-years. Fortunately the following day Thursday 17th the 2nd dentist he called (we don't have dental insurance or regular dentists) had an opening the following morning (last Friday) and he got it pulled. He said he felt instant relief. The weird thing was is that the tooth didn't look abnormal, neither did the gums. But according to the dentist he had a crack in the tooth that went all the way down through it to the bone. Stan liked to chew on ice as a kid, so they figured out that's how the crack happened. Who knows how long he's had it before he started feeling the pain. He's been back at work now for a few days (after the extraction he still felt sick and weak as the penicillin was still working on killing the infection). Now his gums are itching, which is a good sign...means the gaping bloody hole is healing.

"Implants are expensive. This sucks. They advised against just getting a crown unless he was 80 years old because the implant will retain integrity in the gum/bone for years to come."

-------------- end copied email

So back on July 14th when this all started when Stan told me that he had a toothache and it hurt a lot, it started me on a worry streak, which made my stomach do somersaults. I go through this whenever a pet gets sick (BTW, it's Apollo-the-demonspawn-kitten's 1st birthday today). Then I started hurting really bad that was far beyond any pain any nervous reaction to a loved one's health condition could ever do. This has happened a couple times before, and the only trigger I could figure out could be possible food poisoning or maybe a reaction to fatty food. It's like a really bad stomach ache that feels like I swallowed a brick lodged in my ribs. There's no nausea (I wish there was so I could throw up), just pain. Pain that won't go away for hours, pain that won't subside by taking antacids or drinking coke or anything. I stayed up all night long because I could not sleep for the pain. It finally subsided by morning. Then when Stan's toothache got much worse a couple days later, I stopped eating altogether due to nerves. I noticed that once I stopped eating, I felt much better. I mean I felt weak and all, but at least my stomach didn't bother me anymore.

Now I don't think this is a gallbladder thing, even though Stan suspected it might be. Certain symptoms didn't fit at all. I wasn't jaundiced, I wasn't nauseated, I didn't have diarrhea (I wish I rid myself of the pain), I didn't have a fever, the pain wasn't only confined to my right side, it didn't hurt worse when I inhaled (actually, it made me feel better, if only for a slight moment), yadda yadda yadda. And it relieved me to find out my mom doesn't have gallbladder problems. But as I was staying up that one night, I was doing research on gallbladders and I know one thing for damn sure: I don't want to have it taken out!

So I decided I'm going to start a preventative measure, and that is to eliminate land animals from my diet because they are the major source of cholesterol which causes gallstones (which I don't want). I originally thought I'd eliminate animals with legs, but crabs and lobsters and crawfish have legs, and they are definitely staying on my menu. Pork? won't miss it. I don't even like pork at all except for ham cold cuts and the taste of bacon. Fowl? won't miss it. Beef? won't miss it, unless it's a really good Black Angus steak from Colorado. Wisconsin's elderly retired dairy cow used shoe leather "beef" is nothing to miss. Lamb? Yeah, I'll miss lamb. Gyros...yumm...Oh well. Animal products? Stan really wants me to eat eggs, but whenever I do, it's not pretty. I like eggs, and the "Egg Beaters" I tried are like eating...uh...I'd rather eat raw tofu. But I just can't eat more than one egg at a time or else problems will ensue. I still use lowfat milk on cereal and in coffee and tea. But I've done a major cut back on cheese. I'll eat as much yogurt as I want. I'll eat a little ice cream now and then in the summer. Rice milk? As much as I's not really "milk," it's a vegetarian product. Fish? Scallops? Mussels? Clams? Sea Urchin? Octopus? Squid? Snails? Cuttlefish? Cockles? No limits, well, the pocketbook is the only limit. And I also won't eat it deep-fried, only broiled, boiled or raw (in the case of prepared sushi). There is no way I could give up sushi, ever, and there's no reason to. Seafood and fish is on a whole different level than land animal. Also, with the price of grain going up, it will start to effect the price of grain eaters, i.e., chickens, turkeys, cows, pigs, sheep, etc..

There is probably a name for the type of "vegeterian" I am...let's google it to see...

OK, here it is, according to I'm a "Pescaterian." Definition: "Occasionally used to describe those who abstain from eating all meat and animal flesh with the exception of fish. Although the word is not commonly used and a pescatarian is not technically a vegetarian, more and more people are adopting this kind of diet, usually for health reasons or as a stepping stone to a fully vegetarian diet." No stepping stone to me, I have no plans on being totally vegetarian. I tried being vegetarian about 11 years ago and didn't take well to it. I became very depressed. I can't remember if I cut fish/seafood out at the time. But I think keeping fish and seafood in the mix is good.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Kreuger Smoothing Needed Here

Found this in my inbox this morning from a local newsgroup that I guess forages for info from other cities: Bloody Hell! If I saw something like that in the road, I'd come to a screeching halt for fear of ruining the undercarriage of my car! Um...last time I encountered one, a speed bump was kinda *rounded* and *smooth* on top, and not as steep. Looks like this would cause accidents, not prevent them. And what about the cry wolf effect? Pretty soon residents of that area will come to think all images like that are illusions, until three pointy dangerous triangles actually fall off the Pyramid Delivery Truck...


Monday, July 14, 2008

Atheist in Pink

The previous post made me think of some other clothing I had as a child.

In first and second grade in Massachusetts we had both our individual photograph portraits taken as well as a group ensemble class photo outside on the steps of the old school. These were done on different days. My mom, who liked to sew and thought she was saving Mr. Scrooge money by handmaking clothing, sewed me a fairly awful dress when I was six. It was made out of bluish grey cotton and was extremely plain looking. I couldn't complain because I feared I would be murdered, due to past experiences of complaining and being lectured to and yelled at. Pretty much, I had no say and no objections to anything as child--at least I didn't VOICE the objections much--for fear of being murdered.

I wore this homely dress to my first class portrait in first grade. I can't remember what dress I should have been wearing to the second grade class portrait. See, something happened with the photographer's film. It got exposed, or ruined somehow. So no one ever saw those photos. Instead, we had to have our pictures taken a second time. And somehow, no one knew--at least *I* didn't know--when that second time was going to be.

Because I lived under a Scroogian dictatorship at home, I didn't have a lot of clothes to choose from. Shatters your preconceived notions of an only child, huh? Dresses I wore one year had the hem taken out for the following year. And when there was no hem left, there could be an extra row of fabric to sew on. That plain blue-grey dress that my mom made had that happen to it. An extra row of fabric with some brick-a-brack was sewn on. I hated brick-a-brack. It's so cheap and peasant. Who on earth ever thought that was attractive? So one day in second grade I was wearing that altered ugly dress that I had worn for my first-grade group photo, and SURPRISE! The photographer was there to take our second grade class photo! I had on the same bloody dress I wore to the first grade class photo!

Who on earth in this country--in the 1960s, mind you, not during the Great Depression--has two class photos wearing the same clothes two years in a row? It's not that my parents were so evil that I only had one dress to my name, or that they knowingly made me wear the same dress on group photo day. It was just that I had so few clothes that the odds were so favorable of being caught wearing the same dress on two different days.

But it wasn't all bad. My parents bought me, off the rack, not special ordered with lots of money invested, just off the rack, a new dress for First Communion (thank GOODNESS my mother didn't attempt to sew it). Here is some of the foreshadowing of my Atheism. All of the other Catholic girls I went to the dreaded Sunday School with wore white dresses to their First Communion. These dresses of theirs were intended for one purpose only, and that was THE dress they wore one day only, the day they would become the virgin child-bride of Christ. Maybe an older sister or cousin wore it to her Communion, and maybe she would hand it down to a younger sister, but those dresses saw no light of day other than on the Holy Child Wedding Day. And the tradition would continue down through the ages of virginal white child brides of Jesus. But not me. My dress was pink. There was no tradition there. My mom didn't go to church when she was young--how I envied that and wished I could've enjoyed that privilege. There was no one to inherit a white Communion dress from, and no one to hand it down to. My Pink Communion Dress saw secular days as well, birthday parties and other times when I felt like dressing up. My Pink dress said screw tradition, screw virginal child brides, screw white. It was what marked me in a crowd of colorlessness and shocked the other Catholic parents with their matching white child brides. It said, "she walks among you, but she is not one of you." It said, "in a crowd of blank canvases on which to paint your Dogma, here's an artist who is already painted, painted with a Pink Scarlet Letter, painted with her own can't touch this, you can't touch it, so don't even try 'cause she tries to spin around and snatch her Guardian Angel to kill it. She doesn't want her Guardian Angel, she'll have none of that White, she's Pretty in Pink."

I don't think my parents realized what a radical thing they were doing. It wasn't a specially ordered dress for that "special day" nor was it a hand-me-down dress that was steeped in a tradition of other Communions from older sisters before. It was just an off the rack dress. It was secular. That dress had no faith and no tradition. And best of all, it was PINK. They innocently thought a pastel pink dress was a nice change from all the white. Although their naivete about other things has driven me up a wall--how could they be so clueless about so much--this was a fortunate sort of cluelessness. Although none of my peers made fun of me because I wasn't wearing white, deep down I knew my dress was different. And I liked it.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Alice's Ice Scream

When two things happen at the same time, you have to take notice.

When I was a kid growing up in Massachusetts for a couple years, my parents would sometimes get some ice cream that came three flavors to a container. No, it wasn't the usual Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry. It was Coffee, Vanilla and Orange. Not only did this flavor combo stick in my mind forever, but the colors did too. There was pale brown coffee which was not at all like the medium pinkish brown of chocolate. There was the off-white of the vanilla, which seemed to have more flavor than the vanilla of the more popular trio. And then there was the orange, a pale orange like a dreamsickle. I'm not sure if this was orange sherbet or if it was orange flavored ice cream. I guess it really doesn't matter.

Now as an only child of two only children, I had no source to get hand-me-downs. But since this was Massachusetts, the area my Dad grew up, he had an aunt (my Great Aunt Helen). One time we went to visit her in Rhode Island and she had some visitors who I assume were related to me very distantly. Either Aunt Helen or someone else gave my parents a few dresses that used to belong to a girl. They seemed rather old in style because these relatives probably wore them quite a while ago, but one I liked because it had the same exact colors of that Coffee, Vanilla and Orange ice cream. It had a vanilla top, coffee bottom, and orange trim and sash.

One time I was wearing that exact dress when my parents took me to a store. I had long blond hair, and a store clerk told me I looked like Alice in Wonderland. I was too young to read the book myself, but I did have the book and was familiar with John Tenniel's illustrations. Yes, I did look like Alice.

Although I outgrew the dress by the time we moved to New York, I think we were still able to find the ice cream. But by the time we moved to Colorado, it had disappeared off the shelf. Was it a regional specialty like Moxie? Or was it something from that era that disappeared at the dawning of the age of Aquarius?

I was playing around with essential oils today and realized I have those exact components...Coffee, Vanilla and Orange. So I created a blend...very gourmand. Yum. When I get to the point of offering scents commercially, that will definitely be one of the first.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Bad Dream

IRL I woke up in the middle of the night at an hour I usually don't wake up at. I was breathing erratically and crying from a bad dream. I don't know if that's what woke me up, or it was the storm. I got up anyway because the storm was loud and I wouldn't be able to sleep anyway. And I recorded this dream.

It was one of those horrible feelings like I was still in school, not even college, but junior high especially the way the people treated me. I was looking at a map because Stan and I were driving up to LaCrosse for dinner. It was winter, and it was a similar feeling like driving up to Appleton to be part of an art opening (which happened IRL years ago). The route on the map looked like it went up north to Appleton, not northwest to LaCrosse. Why would we drive to LaCrosse...or Appleton just to eat dinner? Weird. It was also like those dreams where we drive NW of Fort Collins and it's snowing...that reoccurring dream. Anyway, I'm not sure if we arrived at our destination or not, but we're in a restaurant and we come across a friend (who IRL has been the cause of a grief for me in the past few week...although I don't think *he* knows that). In the dream *he* was acting extremely stuck up to me. He was in the restaurant with a hetro they were the new Ann and Stan, except younger and more fun and not as serious as the real A&S are now. And with shorter brunette hair. I could not engage *him* in conversation. *He* would not talk to me. There was something about a scarf in the dream, but I can't remember what. Stan was able to talk to *him* a little. I asked Stan what was wrong with *him* and he said that *he* wanted to not be bothered by me, like I was soooo bothersome. *He* was sitting at a big booth with this couple and there was plenty of room for Stan and I to join *him,* but *he* didn't want us there (it was soooo 6th grade), so Stan and I got a booth by ourselves. I was really upset because *he* was being so non-communicative, but really upset because it was something about ME and I didn't know what I had done! I told Stan that if I were in his shoes, I would be defending me in front of *him*, but Stan was pretty indifferent about it, which made me feel even worse because he was supposed to be chivalrous and defend and support his woman. It's not that Stan was on *his* side, it's just that Stan didn't care.

This whole dream is really symbolic for stuff happening IRL. Substitute the het couple for a boyfriend perhaps, substitute the junior high attitude for prescription drug addiction and a deteriorating mental condition, substitute adolescent immaturity for premature senility. Who knows, I woke up just bursting in tears.

I don't know why I'm so upset, but it pisses me off. *He* says *he's* afraid we're drifting apart, but we're not the ones who are drifting, *he* is. We're always here, where is *he*? We're not the ones not answering our phone. We're the ones who take initiative, we're the ones who called on *his* birthday, not *him* on mine. Is it the drugs? Is it the child who never became a man but who is instead becoming an old man? Why do I torture myself over this? It's late, I should be asleep. It's still storming. I'm watching the weather channel. I don't know how Stan can sleep through this. I wish I was more like Stan.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Us and Them

OK, I'm going to document this because I know Stan won't (I asked him to, he didn't want to). This isn't the exact conversation as I wasn't there. It's just a recounting of what Stan recounted to me. It's just the gist:

Stan is assembling the bikes/bike rack on the back of the van.

Durhey: Wutcha doin' with that bike rack?

Stan: We're going for a bike ride.

Durhey (confused): There's places to bike in town...where are you going?

Stan: There's bike trails in the country that we use, like the one outside of Cottage Grove and one outside of Verona.

Durhey: Oh, you mean the snowmobile trails!


If I wasn't there I would've explained to Durhey that snowmobiles or motorized vehicles of any kind aren't allowed on the bike trails. It's just that ya-hey kind of culture, whether it's ATVs or snowmobiles or dirt bikes that are as foreign to bicycles as I am to them.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a proficient bicyclist. Even when I was young and thin I couldn't go more than a couple miles in town without becoming extremely fatigued, and things haven't changed much. I sold my bike when I moved to Madison and didn't find any reason to get a bike for in-town use (streets are too busy and narrow and there were no bike paths when we moved here). Years ago we found a bike trail outside of town that looked intriguing. It was The Glacial Drumlin Trail, a converted railroad bed. Last year I finally bought a bicycle. It's been hard getting acclimated to it, and even though people led me to think that I'd be biking longer and longer distances, I simply can't. Last week we biked about 5 miles and it debilitated me for the rest of the week. Each time after I bike my face turns red and purple and green and yellow...yes, seriously. I know lots of peoples' faces turn red when they exercise, but mine turns into abstract art. The center of my face is red. The sides of my jaw are purple. And a swatch between my purple jawline and my red cheeks is a greenish-yellow-white stripe. Actually, that area is probably my regular normal skin tone--it just looks greenish-yellow-white because that's what a lighter color will do when placed next to purple and red (go read some color theory). The first time it happened to me was when I was 10, and outside the whole day during a class field trip on 1972 Earth Day. Classmates kept commenting on my red and white striped face. If I had blue eyes with stars in them, I would've looked like the American flag.

So we've been going for small bike rides every other day or three, a mile or two one direction, and then back. Also, there's not that much time to go much further, even if I had the stamina. Plus, even though Stan isn't exhausted like me after the bike ride, later during the day he complains how tired he is, so it's a good thing I'm his governor. We're taking the Glacial Drumlin trail in short increments. I think because it's a gravel trail it's harder for me than if it was paved. We took it from Cambridge to Ridge Rd. Then another day Ridge Rd. to Dvorak Rd. Then Dvorak Rd. almost to Deerfield (that's the ride that almost killed me). Then from Deerfield back to the spot we turned around before, then back through Deerfield to London Rd. Then today we took London Rd. to London. The next day we'll go to back to London and go the other direction.

On the first day we found a little toad on the road, fortunately I didn't run it over. Last week there were lots of wonderful smells coming from unknown wildflowers. Today we saw wild irises growing by the path. Last week we saw lots and lots of flooded fields, a lake where farmland used to be.

Durhey doesn't care about the flooded fields or the wild irises. As long as he can ride his snowmobile and whoop and hollar and shoot off his 'tater gun, life's good for Durhey.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

The Mob Mentality

This morning as I was taking the dogs out, there was a squirrel, one squirrel, rattling around on our clematis trellis. No big deal. I heard a strange noise close by, and looked across the alley to see the neighbor's oak tree trunk virtually covered with squirrels. I have never seen so many squirrels in such a concentrated area, ever. There must have been over one to two dozen squirrels chasing each other around the tree trunk, and there were other squirrels running down the alley. Imagine Hitchcock's "The Birds" with the bush-tailed rodent instead. It freaked me a bit. It was not a cute squirrel munching a peanut on your steps anymore, or even one squirrel deviously digging up your tulip bulb. It was a squirrel mob.

It was evocative of memories of tent caterpillars as a kid. You'd find one caterpillar, which for a bug-loving kid was rather cool. It was soft, although not furry, and colored brown and blue with intricate body patterning like some exotic fabric. It was very "friendly" and never bit. You'd find a couple more and put them in a jar. But then you'd discover the motherload...the 'pillar hive. It was a web in tree branches, crawling with 'pillars, catching 'pillar residue like 'pillar poop and the occasional dead 'pillar.

After that, those caterpillars were no longer that cute and lovable. It was no longer that lone gem, semi-anthropormorphised in your young mind that you found happily chewing on a leaf. It was part of a colony of destructive robotic clones.

I had an experience like that several years ago. We found some small caterpillars alongside the Monarch caterpillars we would raise. Unlike the Monarchs which exist independently of eachother (Eggs are laid singly, usually one per leaf), these caterpillars seemed to act like one organism, all raising their bodies in unison when "it" felt threatened. It gave me one big freakout, and although we were attempting to raise them too, we aborted that mission. These caterpillars of the Tussock moth are destructive defoliators. We drowned them. I felt guilty about that, but maybe we saved a tree. It was that unitary organism response that the Tussock moth caterpillars had that was a red flag to me that they were up to no good.

As I watched the squirrel spectacle this morning, it got me thinking that concentrated colonies of animals, be they caterpillars, birds, squirrels, maggots, mice or whatever, elicit the "huzzzzzzz" freakout response from most humans, whereas one of those--with the exception of the maggot-- might even elicit a "cute!" response. We are hardwired to be repulsed by groupings.

But why should our own kind not elicit the same response? I know in my case it does. I see a large gathering of people and I know I don't want to go there. I am drawn to quiet, human-less places. I do like big cities, but only for the architecture, not for the large population. When I used to go to parties, I'd opt to be alone with my friends in a room away from others. I shop at Shopko now because it's always empty instead of Target which has quadrupled its customer base within the last two years, even though I prefer Target's offerings. I never go to malls, except for one that has a bead store, and that mall is not very busy, and I head directly to the bead store (or the restroom if need be) and then immediately leave after beads are purchased, not wander around the rest of the place. I won't go to the Boerner gardens in Milwaukee anymore not just because they charge too much and they took away any food source, but because of the constant stream of obnoxious wedding parties. I don't go to theatres or arenas or fests (unless forced to by people you're visiting) or events. I really don't like concentrated humanity. Remember when humans started flying in planes and all the cliches about how they looked like ants from above? Why would you want to be among a bunch of ants? Don't hives freak you out?

I'll leave with something I said a few years ago which is Stan's favorite quote of mine:

"We're going where? Down there? Where all those people are?"


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cat Owners: This Ever Happen to You? Potential Gross-out Factor...use Caution.

It's early in the morning, dark, and you're half asleep. You feel a cat next to you so you reach over to pet and tickle it. You're coochying its underbelly and you come across something that doesn't feel right. The fur has some crusty substance around a place that seems to be without fur. Since this cat had a mast cell tumor three years ago, you worry it might be another one, although you wonder why you didn't notice this on your cat sooner since it feels rather large. You continue to feel this area trying to figure out whether the crusty substance is dried blood and pus from an infected area or tumor or if the cat got into some dirty substance like messy human food or just what is going on. And then you realize...for the last minute you've been feeling the cat's anus.


You're no longer half asleep but frantically washing your hands in the bathroom.

"Those aren't pillows..."

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Time Space

Stan and I were discussing a situation out of our past in the early 90s. I couldn't remember it at all. As he discussed it more and more, I had a vague, but only vague notion that it had happened, but couldn't remember one of the people involved, whom I had only met that one time. Lately this has been a fairly common occurrence regarding that time in my life. Although I unfortunately remember too much of it, much of it is also completely gone from my memory as if it never occurred.

We framed it in a LOST philosophy context. Perhaps the universe course-corrected itself, and those things never did happen. Of course if that were the case, why would Stan still remember them?

A couple people I met back then I/we became friends with. They seemed familiar to me, like I'd known them from somewhere else before (I never told them this). I did not stay friends with them for different reasons. Looking back on it now, Stan and I were never supposed to befriend these people. Maybe the reason why they seemed familiar back in 1990 is because I'd become unstuck in time and was able to access being friends with them in my future, yet I wasn't able to access the reasons not to remain friends at that point. Maybe in 1990 I was only able to access 1992, not 1995.

When I was 6 I knew certain things about the man I would marry. I knew he'd be blond and Jewish. I told this to my mom, that I had a blond Jewish (imaginary) boyfriend. She said he's not Jewish. There was confusion about this, just as there was confusion about Stan having a Jewish biological father which was put on his birth certificate (this is a crazy story that I won't go into right now). Stan went for about 17 years in his life, from the time he was around 23 or so until 40 until he actually found his biological father, thinking he was Jewish. My 6-year-old imaginary boyfriend's name was Bobby. Bobby is the name of Stan's half-brother, his biological mother's first son after Stan (She gave up Stan for adoption).

How did I know this as a 6-year-old unless I had become unstuck in time and could access certain things from my future?

I've been thinking a lot about time, the 4th dimension, and how we "parse" the 4th dimension as linear time in the same way those in 2D "flatland" parse a 3D object entering their 2D world as a series of changing line thicknesses.
Further clicking: Nova, The Elegant Universe and Carl Sagan explains Flatland (You Tube Video)

Everything that we have knowingly "yet" to experience has already happened, we just haven't parsed it yet. It all happens in an instant, and some have the ability to perceive it more instantaneously than others, which may appear to be psychic ability in seeing the future, but it's just an ability to "see" in 4 dimensions.

For the life of me I wouldn't be able to understand this based on mathematical equations, yet I can grasp it intuitively. It's not like it's from a previous life, it's happening, now. It's happened, it's yet to happen. There is no past or future. There's just the present. And it's all happening NOW. Like a movie recorded on film. Each film frame is one instance--play them in sequence and you have a time sequence, a timeline. But if you were to take the film reel and slice it up into individual frames and stack them like papers in a filing cabinet, then compress them to lose any artificial thickness the celluloid has, you would have a 2D representation of the movie, where all the events happen simultaneously. Then compress the artificial height to give you just 1 dimension, a line, and then compress the line to give you 0 dimensions, a point. That is where everything that ever is, was, and will be is. That's it. It's all there. There's nothing else. Don't worry about missing it. It's already done.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

They Shoot Mourning Doves, Don't They?

I saw the oddest bird at our birdfeeder today. It had a white body with black head, black wings and black tail. It sort of looked like it had a skunk stripe down its back, but it was just because the body was white and the wings were black. On the black wings and tail were a few random white spots. It had a gold beak and was eating sunflower seeds from our feeder. I've never seen anything like it. I tried to shoot it (with a camera, that is) from the bedroom window, but it flew away, of course. Maybe it's a migratory bird. It returned again this afternoon and I noticed it also had a reddish-orange breast. I tried to shoot it again, but could only get the picture below which I had to crank up the brightness and contrast on. I couldn't get any closer to it, and shooting it through a window without it seeing you is a little difficult.

Mourning doves have to be the stupidest birds in the world. A few days ago I saw one land on top of our feeder. It's one of those feeders that hangs from a fishing wire and is supposedly squirrel-proof. It has a bottom part where the seeds go in, and a top covering that deflects rain and jumping squirrels. The dove was standing on this top part, making those jerky head strutting pigeon movements, looking around, wondering where the food was. Well, at the time, there might not have been food in the feeder, but if there was, it wouldn't have been on top. But it happened again today, shortly after the mystery bird sighting. It landed on top of the feeder, wondering how to get at the food which was in the level below. The stupid bird could not figure out how to get to the food. All our backyard birds, from large crows to baby sparrows learning to fly figure out how to fly into the bottom level, except the Mourning Dove. Such a stupid bird. They have such small heads in comparison to their body size. If a chickadee had a body the size of a Mourning Dove's, it would have a head the size of a tennis ball. Wisconsin recently passed a law that allows people to shoot Mourning Doves. I guess they are overpopulated, yet I thought it was a stupid law. But considering the skyrocketing price of food, our doves might look pretty good when gas is $60/gallon and bread is $15/loaf and chicken is $30/lb. Actually, we have an overpopulation of Allium in our backyard which started from a few bulbs. Each year there's more and more and they're taking over the tulips and everything else in our yard. Allium are from the onion/garlic family, so we can cook the doves with the allium bulbs.

I don't know if I could actually kill a warm-blooded creature. We caught our own crawfish and carp and ate them once (Stan caught the fish with his bare hands). But a bird? You can't catch a bird with your bare hands. You might be able to ambush them with a net...they're pretty slow and tame...and stupid. But I refuse to have any sort of gun.

What will we be willing to do when the food crisis gets bad?

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Context is Everything

Hey, addictionary word submitters: Would it kill you to use your word in an example sentence? Or can't you think beyond just the definition of your brainchild? I mean, it's *your* word, FFS, use it! I subscribe to addictionary, and it bugs me to see a fairly decent "werd" w/definition arrive in my inbox...but there's no example, no context. How hard is it to frame your "werd?"

Reminds me of Freshman Art History at CSU when we only had to remember the artist, the name of the work and the year it was produced. No, nothing about the context in which the work was created or the culture of the country and the era. The first test was a total shocker. I think I got a D. It would've been a boon for Rainman and Aspies who get off on that trivia date stuff. This is probably one of the underlying roots of all my anxiety dreams about not studying for tests. I pulled my grade up to an A for the second semester, but only after cramming to remember useless and irrelevant trivia that I soon forgot after the test. That's what fact- and data-based tests do, make you forget after you no longer need the data--unless you have Asperger's and you thrive on that--but for us Neurotypes we want to go beyond: "32. Artist: Max Benkelman; Title: "Sunflowers in Evening with Farmhand"; Country: Germany; Year: 1927; Genre: German Expressionism. In fact, I don't even think in my class we had the Genre or Country. The instructor didn't care that you studied--as well as a freshman could study given the reading material that was given for the course--about German Expressionism, or Max himself and that he soon emigrated from Germany to the United States, Southwestern Nebraska, specifically, where he set up the Sunflower Institute that was sort of like a Van Gogh cult for suicidal artists. No one cared that Max's fixation on Sunflowers was obsessive to the point that he painted nothing else, not even starry nights. No one cared about how colorless Max's paintings became throughout his years until finally his canvasses were nothing but thick black paint. No, there was no context back in Freshman Art History.

(Sound of current and former art and art history students Googling Max Benkelman because they can't remember studying him in class).

I didn't think about it then, but now I realize it was probably so that the TAs could grade the papers easier since there were hundreds of people in these classes. Wouldn't want a TA to have to mull over essay answers and different TAs give different marks for similar responses.

Why not simply give multiple choice, for that matter? That'd make it even easier and the university could forgo employing TAs as test graders altogether and implement the tests with the number 2 pencil where you fill in the circles and have a computer read it?

I never met a TA that didn't feel a sense of entitlement. Grrr.

So, if I say the work was created in 1788 but the work was actually created in 1787, does that make me every bit as wrong as the bozo who said it was created in 1632? Yup, according to the way Art History 101 is graded.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Routine Junk Mailbox Cleaning

So this is my first post since I've been back (and I've been back for a week now), and it's not even about the trip. No, it's about porn spam.

I got the stupidest porn spam today--yes, I know, they're ALL stupid so how can I qualify one as stupidest--I guess it's just stupid in terms of porn marketing. It wasn't your typical porn spam with your 4-letter word in the subject title in reference to some body part. No, this sender was somewhat more advanced than that, at least maybe advanced in years--they used a 6-letter word in the subject title.


Who uses the term "bosoms" anymore? Especially for porn spam? I mean if I was the kind of guy--and I'm not even a kind of guy--looking for internet pictures of breasts, "bosoms" is about the last word I would think of that would describe what I want to find. It conjures up images of very clothed breasts, albeit large breasts, encased in a heavily armoured multi-panelled white brassiere forming them into a torpedo shape like headlights on some classic 1950s car. Grandmothers have bosoms. Pictures of pin-up women from the 1940s had bosoms. Contemporary girlies posing on the skinternet have breasts known by other raunchier names that I need not mention...but they don't have "bosoms."

Well, I guess it goes along with the demographic that is consuming the other thing I get spam for all the time--Viagra (not only do spammers think I'm male, they think I'm an OLD male).

Grandpa got his Viagra and now he's googling "bosoms." It's the next big thing.


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Things to do in Denver When You're Dead to the World

Not the most comfortable accommodations, I don't have anywhere to sit comfortably and use my laptop, except on this twin futon if I prop pillows up against the uncomfortable arms and lie crosswise on it. I can't access the internet while I'm doing this because the phone line doesn't reach, but it's dialup anyway and there's only one line and Montgomery Burns (the doghating version) will yell if he can't call to check the weather.

It is like a prison here, literally. I am in an approx. 10x12 room with two windows that I can't see out of because it's in a basement and there's those stupid plastic bubbles over them. The irony is that this is an improvement over what it was prior to 2004. Back then, I had to sleep on a mattress on the floor in the living/dining room, no privacy. And before I figured out that the mattress on the floor was actually more comfortable, I was sleeping on a rollaway cot that squeaked and was lumpy. The things I will endure just to see friends.

We almost got a motel for the rest of what would have been an extremely abbreviated stay, because the hot water heater broke. Had I not complained very loudly about the tepidly cold shower, they would've continued to use as is, rationalizing (if you can call it that) "the water is cold because it's cold outside", each shower becoming progressively colder and colder, and shorter and shorter, until finally they took no more showers and just washed in the sink and boiled hot water on the stove.

The above paragraph is supposed to be read in a Garrison Keilor voice. A Scary Home Companion.

So here's what went down so far.

Monday, March 24: Left Madison and went to Galena, IL. Disappointment. The rock shop in town has closed forever. I wanted mass quantities of Fluorite and Galena mined from this town, but instead will have to buy it in Colorado and elsewhere that imports rocks and minerals mined from Galena, IL. The irony. I like hills, but Galena is too hilly. Would not want to live there. Old mining towns are creepy. It reminded me a bit of Bisbee, AZ, but creepier. Since we didn't stay long there, we headed down the road and stayed in Lincoln, NE for the night. Not at our usual haunts because that one was going downhill the last time we passed through (coming back from Arizona a year ago), but this time at a Super 8 so I could take advantage of my Trip Rewards (which I should've signed up for over a year ago). It was near the stairwell over the lobby so it was loud, and although it was a non-smoking room, the room across wasn't and the occupants kept the door open and it stunk. Not a lot of sleep.

Tuesday, March 25: Got coffee at the best coffee shop in the world. Stan felt lousy...he was coming down with a cold. We both felt dessicated and were drinking mass quantities of fluids. I was about to come down with a cold, so I didn't feel my best either. Lots of interstate rest stops. Nebraska. Boring. Eastern Colorado. Boring. Hot. Dry. When I arrived in Fort Collins, my mom had found a Coty Sweet Earth Woods perfume compact for me. This was possibly a rosebud. I don't know if this was THE one I had, or one she had. If it was mine, where were the other two? The smells instantly brought back memories, and now I know why I thought they all smelled alike. In my final analysis, I think the Vermont Country Store's version actually has more distinction between the scents than the originals did.

Wednesday, March 26: Can't remember what happened that day other than buying a cactus at Fossil Creek Nursery. shopping at Sunflower Market. and going into a Mexican grocery to get some juices ( favorite). We also went downtown to see if I could find some scents at the Tibetan store, but ended up buying blue coffee mugs that said "Namaste" (LOST reference) because there are no coffee cups at the Burns residence that are of a normal size. Every utensil, every cup is miniature in size, so in order to eat with a normal size spoon, one has to use their version of a tablespoon. It's like some sort of weird Alice in Wonderland through the looking glass alternative world where everything has shrunk in size. Went to Mellow Yellow in search of Frangipani. Found nothing. Went out to eat with Bill at El Burrito that night.

Thursday, March 27: I was sick. I felt awful. I stayed in the prison practically the entire day until I got bored out of my freaking mind (no tv, no radio, that's pretty unbearable when you're sick) and Stan took me for a ride in the evening.

Friday, March 28: This was the morning of the cold shower. At first I thought it was one of Montgomery Burns' money-saving methods of setting the hot water heater down so low that one can't take a shower for more than a minute without being frozen. But Stan checked the heater and it was set pretty high. I convinced them it was a problem with the hot water heater, and that it was old and needed to be replaced. They amazingly got someone over here to fix it...on a Friday afternoon. No way that could have been accomplished in Madison. Earlier in the day, Stan and I went to Bath, Fort Collins Nursery, and Gulley Greenhouse to get some cactuses. After that we came back to deal with the hot water heater guy and meddling Mr. Burns. After that I seriously had to have a Margarita with Bill at El Burrito. I don't drink much anymore because of the pain in my jaw it causes me, plus it makes me unproductive. But when I'm on vacation, productivity is not an issue.

Saturday, March 29: I was not exactly hung over (I only had one margarita the night before), but not exactly well-rested either. Went to the Longmont/Boulder area to see our friends Russ and Lamya and their two kids. On the way stopped at a greenhouse outside of Loveland to get cactus. We ate at a nice restaurant in Boulder that serves South American cuisine, like Cerviche. (sp?) I had a Mojito to drink which was delicious. Stan had a Margarita. We drove back to Fort Colins about 9:30 pm, but when we got back, we were dead. We used to do this all the time, and much later in the night. What has become of us? We are getting old. Unfortunately, this would have been *the* day to go for a bike ride had we not been out of town, unfortunately we couldn't have the nice weather on Saturday come later the next week.

Sunday, March 30: Dead to the world after the Mojito and the long night (up until all of 10:30, well, 11:30 Madison time) before. Went to Avo's to check our email on their free hi-speed internet. Had an absolutely delicious Creamation omelette. Went to East West Imports and found a Persian Attar scent, plus some Asian rice crackers to munch on for road tripping. I also broke down and went to the place in town I swore I'd never go to again, ever. The dreaded Whole Foods. I just wanted to see if they had more Kuumba Made scents available than they do in Madison. Bought some Tunisian Amber and Black Copium, plus some Vetiver essential oil and Jojoba oil to use as a carrier oil, and an empty roll-on vial so I can make my own Vetiver perfume. This might be the "smokier" more molassesy Vetiver that I'm not used to as much as the other kind I got as crystal resin from Eden Botanicals. I felt pretty dead the whole day. We got drive-thru food that night and drove around a lot. Nights are pretty much spent driving around until we're tired of it or have exhausted all the places to see, and then we come back here and hole up in the prison while the TV blares upstairs. If they would just turn the tv off and have conversations with us, that would be fine (non-judgmental, non-worrywart, non-persnickety conversations, that is), but no, the TV is all important. And loud tv too. Just shoot me if I ever get that way. I know I have my favorites like LOST and No Reservations, but if I had guests, the guests would take priority. But maybe that's just me.

Monday, March 31: Met my friend Barb for lunch and got to see where she worked, which ironically is in the same building where I had Driver's Ed in high school. Her boss had someone over that day who came from Baraboo, WI and knew Madison quite well. Coincidences and Ironies. We went with Barb and her sister, Nancy, to the Ethiopian restaurant we ate at with Bill last time we were out. It is so delicious there. We took some food "home" with us to eat for dinner, and even cold, it was still delicious. In the afternoon and evening we drove to Waverly, Wellington (scary), Owl Canyon, Bellevue, Masonville and back through Loveland. Anything to get us out of the house and Monty Burns and the LOUD TV.

Tuesday, April 1: Apollo's 8-month birthday. We took off and went to Denver in search of Dardano's Flowerland and Isis Books. We couldn't find Evans, where Dardano's is located. It's been ages. We found Isis's former location on East Colfax, but they have now moved to South Broadway. On the way to their new location, we came across Evans, fortunately. At Isis I got Heliotrope, Cypress and Wisteria essential oils, and Frangipani, one of my rosebud scents from ages ago that I have since stupidly lost. What an idiot I am. Stan only found one cactus at Dardano's. I remember them having so much more when I went there in the 80s. Maybe it's the time of year. After Dardano's it was still fairly early in the day, so I got the crazy idea to go to Casa Bonita. We haven't been there since the 80s either. Now back in the 70s when I was first introduced to CB, probably in the company of Barb's family and later with Stan, I thought it was delicious. People would say "Casa Bonita, the food's not very good, but you go there for the experience." I didn't understand what was wrong with the food...compared what I was used to, it was quite a treat! Now I know why they say the food wasn't very good. It's not. You can't compare it to any family-run Mexican restaurant. But when you don't know anything better and your family never takes you out to eat good food, what have you got to go by? But yes, the experience is fun, even if it's just in a cheesey "oh, I remember that!" way. I feel so sorry for the "performers." I had no idea what was going on...some Black Bart and a She-Sherrif... really stupid act and horrible PA system that's probably not been fixed since the 70s. After that, Stan drove by his Grandmother's old homestead which looked nothing like how we remembered it, and we took the dogs for a walk on a bike path. We have to take the dogs with us on these long day excursions. Monty Burns and Co. are completely incapable of dealing with dogs in their house while we're gone longer than a couple hours. Of course we always have to kennel them in the basement, hell forbid we have them LOOSE in the house. On the way back, we found a greenhouse in Lafayette and Stan got some things there. After I got back to the prison, I added the essential oils to jojoba in empty vials. I used medicine droppers and rinsed the droppers out in a little water and that water smelled so good. Who would've thought the combo of those four oils would smell so great? Now I really want to try my hand at perfumery when I get home.

Wednesday, April 2: We'll go up to Bill's later. Thursday we'll see Stan's sister, and Friday, I think we'll split the scene. Not only does the weather look the best for Friday as far as travelling across the mountains on I-70, but I'm going stark-raving loonie here. Even though the TV will be loud in Montrose, and sometimes I really feel like an outsider there, at least there'll be a beautiful window I can gaze out of with a beautiful scene of the San Juans. Bill said he's fixing up a room downstairs, so maybe in the future Stan and I can stay here instead of at our cell at the Montgomery Burns State Penn. I guess we could chip in for propane, as Bill keeps the place very cold.

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