Thursday, October 01, 2015

They Zig, I Flog A Dead Horse And Pretend It's Zagging

I know all the trendy blogs will be covering the school shooting in Roseburg, OR today. I've been to Roseburg; I imagine everybody that's ever driven down I-5 has. It is a lovely little town, although the local Safeway did perpetrate a scam by selling us bags of apples that were confiscated about ten minutes later when we reached the California border. Amazing how porous the border is when agro giants are looking for employees and so impenetrable when they are blocking competition. Today on MarketPlace, though, they said that we've had a mass shooting more than once a day since the beginning of the year, so if it seems cool, I'll write about tomorrow's.

On their show today, they talked about something that hasn't happened for a generation; the United Auto Workers rejected a contract negotiated by their leadership. The reason; a two-tiered system of pay for old and new hires. And the reason this is a problem is because wherever a two-tiered system has been introduced, the higher tier doesn't remain the eventual pay grade for new hires, over time the lower pay becomes the default for everyone. I understand the argument in favor of these deals with the devil. If we don't accept this, then there won't be enough money, the company will close, all the jobs will go away. But since the 1970's, as companies have continued to cut worker's pay in real dollars, there has been a massive shift of wealth and power away from the middle class and towards the very richest in society.
In a free market, wages should rise and fall according to demand. But it's been a while since our markets were free. Among the things these nouveau robber barons have been buying is our government. And while the right rails against over regulation that strangles competition, the Kochs and their ilk (I love "ilk" because it sounds derogatory, but it's not) have been poisoning the air and water, and paying lower and lower wages. All while tax policy and regulations reward the winners for being clever and hard working enough to have been born rich. It's enough to make a guy grab a gun and go crazy, but that's been done to death.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Borg Were Right, "Resistance Is Futile."

I've always said I would never join Facebook. Partly because I found their privacy settings creepy and deliberately opaque, and mostly because I wanted to be one of those people who say, "TV, oh no, we don't even have a TV," but I watch a lot of TV, so the choice was to be a smug liar, or get rid of TV and be smug for reals, which would never happen because, Grimm, Flash, Supergirl (I assume, I don't know about the upcoming show, but I had a pretty big crush on her when I was 11) and CSPAN probably. So, the next best thing in this era of social network hegemony was to be Facebook free.

Ostensibly, I decided to join because they have a group for posting things stolen in Alaska, and I wanted to be able to post about my bikes as they are stolen. By the way, Rich, that joke from last year about my new steel bike, "Steel now, stolen later," is a lot less funny since it became, "Was steel, now stolen." Anyway like, I assume, most people, I really joined Facebook because I wanted to creepily lurk and see what the people I used to know are up to now. But somehow, in one day, I have 28 friends on Facebook, which is more than I've ever had total in real life. So, now, I'm all, "Sucks to be you, real life." From now on, if you want to talk to me, and the evidence strongly suggests that you don't, I'll be on my Newsfeed, or Timeline, if I can figure out what they are, and what the difference between them is.

Friday, August 28, 2015

To Do

Our dog has been ill; she's been licking, well, not inappropriately for a dog, I guess, but insistently, and she needed an unexpected follow-up visit. The vet reassured us that she was mostly fine, if age related back issues don't concern you, and sent us on our way.
The thing was, we were having guests for dinner last night, and we had a lot to get done before they arrived. By yesterday evening I had once hoped that I would have vacuumed, dusted, lost the 20 pounds I put on while traveling, finally finished college, read the great works, and carried out the trash.
I had a dispute about my bill with AT&T this morning. They had changed my billing cycle, but last month's payment, and next month's payment are the same as they were, but there's a pro-rated amount  of $60 that they claim is past due, even though I paid them what they billed me last month. I do, now, see that it might be possible that I owe the money although not that it's past due. On the phone with them, though, we just agreed that I'm not an accountant, they have thousands of them, and anyway, sir, do you want to continue to have cell phone service?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Come For The Funeral; Stay For The Fair

If Will Shortz was writing this post, he might have titled it Synesthesia, since this is really just tasting notes from our day at the fair. When we first arrived, I was feeling light-headed since, because of traffic, it had already been more than two hours since I had last eaten. So, I made a quick emergency stop at the first booth we came to and had a brat. Rich asked if that was a hot dog or a local child and I told him, "I didn't ask what it was made out of."
This list is not exhaustive, but the next stop was here at the deep fried Macaroni and Cheese booth. It was delicious with a crusty cheese outside with a creamy filling, which coincidentally probably describes your arteries after eating it.
Next we had funnel cakes so we could compare them to the ones at the Alaska State Fair that we're going to twice in the next two weeks.  Karen didn't finish hers, so I was able to compare it to mine. Both good, although looking at the app when we got home, I see we could have had them on a stick. I'm not sure how that would have improved the experience, but when in Des Moines...
We went to see the butter cow, but the line was too long to get up close. The other celebrity there that day was failed presidential candidate, Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas. We didn't even try to see him even though he, as the saying goes, thinks he's something on a stick. There were real things on sticks to be had and we did, for example,  Karen ate here:
The use case for a skewer here is obvious, and the rib on a stick was a hit.
From there we went to look at crafts and art. Well, Karen did. I went  here, and had apple pie on a stick. The pie itself wasn't great, but aside from stabbing oneself repeatedly in the palate, I couldn't understand what the point (ha, ha) of the stick was. For comparison purposes, I had their apple turnover and apple cookie, and they were both good, and easily hand-held. The fair also had sandwiches on a stick and that just seems wrong. The sandwich was created to be eaten with the hands. Sticks seem like  technology for technology's sake, and a perversion of the very idea of sandwiches.
On the way out of the fairgrounds, as is our tradition, we grabbed a few random items of food to ensure a nauseating ride home. We stayed the night in Des Moines, and the next morning we drove to Minneapolis, and the next morning, we flew back to Anchorage.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Now We Are In Iowa

So, the other day, a guy asked me, "How's it going?" I told him "Fine, except it's a thousand degrees and I'm at a funeral." Karen's dad died last week, just after we arrived here. She got to say goodbye, and then there was a visitation and a funeral. We didn't know how long we would need to be here when we booked our flight, so we've ended up with time on our hands. Idle hands, of course, are the devil's playground, and we've booked a play date at the sinfully delicious Iowa State Fair. They have an app for finding food and it includes a section devoted to "foods on a stick." And that category encompasses everything from the obvious,  pork chops, to the surprisingly healthy, salad on a stick and corn in every form imaginable.

Now, I know, that people have strong feelings about corn, that corn has corrupted our government and ruined our health or that it is the grain that makes our prosperity and energy independence possible. Either way, there are some times that you just want to eat an ear of corn. Even if at no other time,  when you can eat the corn about a minute after it was picked, you'd be a fool not to. So we were hoping to eat corn while we were surrounded by it. By the way, has anyone ever noticed that when you are surrounded by corn, it has a particularly Triffiid-like aspect to it? Anyway, Chris, the nicest person in the world, found a corn life-hack that actually works! You microwave the corn in its husk for four and a half minutes, cut off the non-silk end and then grab the silk and the corn slides out, leaving the husk and silk behind. Here's a link to it at The author says it's so good, you can eat it without butter and salt, but you also can eat it with butter and salt, because she's not the boss of you.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Getting Back To The Spirit Of This Blog

I started this blog to rant about things that irritated me.  But, Twitter is just made for that, so I've been posting there every day. But sometimes I am possessed by a complaint that takes more than 140 characters to fully exorcise.

For the last few months, Quicken has no longer allowed me to connect to my credit union. What is galling about this situation is that I bought Quicken 2015 because they told me that my existing version would no longer connect. That implies that the new version would, but it hasn't. Intuit has a history of forcing its users to update whether we want to or not, but this seems like a fraudulent business practice to force us to buy a product that doesn't work, and then not to fix it.
Based on this post, I think they're aware of the problem, and they've promised a fix by the end of July. But now it's August, and still nothing. Has the FTC ever investigated Intuit?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Little Boxes

Karen has a list of chores that need to be done in the next month. I promised I would type it up for her with boxes to check as they are accomplished, and I will. I mean, obviously, I will; I'm sitting at the computer right now aren't I? Jeez, I'll do it.
I was thinking, though, that I could post it here if anyone's interested in coming by, hanging out,  and, for example,  washing the curtains in the apartment, and hey, cleaning the laundry room since you'll be there anyway.
If you're interested let me know.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Also, Get Off My Lawn

The plumber has come and gone and we have a new water heater to replace our four year old water heater. It cost $1500, but they say they're confident we'll get back $1000 because there is a lifetime warranty on the tank. But not so confident that they didn't charge us the full amount. I know I'm starting to sound like an old man, but when I was a kid, a lifetime wasn't four years. It was a real lifetime. And when you died, they'd throw you in the fifty year old freezer. Now, freezers are practically single use. I don't know why we even have to plug them in since they're really just glorified coolers. And don't even get me started on ice makers.

The Most Interesting Man In The World

Leah came home from a work retreat excited about a personality test they all took there. I said I'd take it too because  my interest in myself is boundless. It was hard, though, and so far I haven't finished it. I couldn't answer the first question, but that made the second question easier since the correct response was, c) indecisive.
It's four pages long and by the end of the first page, I had only answered half the questions. Based on that incomplete data,  I'm apparently a nervous, indecisive school girl. Just like when I was in school. If I ever finish, I'm pretty sure I'm going to get an A in self-loathing.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Spaghetti v Linguini Update: Waiting For The Flames

I tried to finish the dryer project yesterday, but even with help, it wouldn't start. But then, help noticed that one wire was still not connected to anything. Since, conveniently, there was one post without a wire, I plugged the two together and then this happened:
videoNow, I really need to put a battery in the smoke detector.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Spoons

I read this yesterday in a post from The Bloggess, and I thought it was a pretty good explanation for what it's like being, or living with, a person with a chronic illness. Apparently, a lot of people went to check it out all at once because  it became very slow to load.  The Bloggess had broken the internet. It seems to be almost working now, so if you're interested check it out.
For regular, run of the mill, irritations, it turns out that our new water heater came with a life time guarantee that if it ever  breaks, we'll have to pay a plumber for six hours to fix it. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

"That's Not Spaghetti, That's Linguini"

You know that game where you take a picture of a plate of spaghetti and then throw it against the wall, but it's okay, because you took a picture ? But then you realize that the sauce was covering the most important part so you have to guess which noodle goes into which meatball? That's the wiring inside the dryer. Wires, it turns out that didn't have to be disconnected at all!
But it may not matter because now I can't get the front panel back on.  The good news is that the belt, which is the part I started out to replace went on very, in fact, suspiciously easy. Also, the original lint screen that I also am replacing was apparently more of a lint
generator so when I got the dryer apart it was packed full of lint, but also so much more, including coins. I made several dollars, but I had to split it with the vacuum cleaner.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

S.J. Pereleman Said It Best (As He Always Did) It's Not The Heat It's The Cupidity

Yesterday we set a record temperature of 83℉. It's going to be that hot today, but with dry lightning. Since there are already fires to the north and south of here, it only seems fair that we get to join in, but the smoke drifting over the city means we can't open the windows so it's even hotter in the house than outside so if this seems a little disjointed or over jointed, I blame the heatstroke.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Genghis Khan Conquered The World. Or So He Thought

  • Recorded history states that Genghis Khan, the founder of the Mongol Empire, and his armies lived on yogurt.
Note that that was recorded history, not the other kind. Anyway, are we really just vehicles to carry sentient bacteria from place to place? I don’t know, but for some reason I just bought a yogurt maker.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Full Circle Of Life

We went to a celebration of life yesterday. It's sounds fun, like a wedding reception, but first someone has to die. So, a celebration, like a marriage, but even if you change your mind, no prenup in the world can help you. The absent honored guest had four daughters and they each spoke of their life growing up with a father that was completely invested in them. Camping, fishing, berry picking, cabin-building, canoeing, laughing loving.
I felt so bad for my daughters. What an awful, inadequate father I've been. But then, I realized my father didn't do any of that with us. So really, what an awful, inadequate father I had. But then, who thinks that about their father? Maybe someone whose father never took them berry picking. 

Thursday, June 04, 2015

I Also Have A New (And Strong) Opinion About The Best Way To Get Baby Kale Out Of The Costco Bag

Because I'm an environmentalist at heart, I'm recycling this email I just wrote to my roommate from the 70s 
I’m sure you don’t remember that once, about 45 years ago you told me that when rinsing or soaking a bowl, I should direct the water to the bottom first and move the stream up as the bowl filled. It’s possible you were even a little brusque about it. In spite of any incivility on your part, I saw your point, and almost every time I’ve rinsed a bowl since then, I’ve replayed your comment in my head and tried to incorporate your advice into my bowl rinsing routine. And yet, and yet…
I’ve never really been comfortable with it, even though it’s obviously the correct most eco-friendly method. But then, last night, possibly because now that I’m retired I have more free time to brood, or maybe concentrate is a better word, about the kind of thing I could just, if you’ll forgive me, “go with the flow” about in the past, anyway, as I was saying, last night, I saw that the problem is that when I’m planning to let a bowl soak, if you spray the water at the top, it’s possible that the food will wash down to the bottom and then you can stop spraying sooner since the stuck on food is quickly covered in water.
Thank you for your advice in 1973, and please forgive my long delay in responding.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

I Bet You'd Retweet These If Only You Followed Me On Twitter. Sure, That's Why Nobody Ever Retweets Me

Quick update: My daughter and I signed up for the Heart Run. We got there and then remembered we hate crowds. So we walked home instead.
It appears that I'm no longer a blogger, based on the fact that although I'm still a lovable curmudgeon, I can't be bothered to put more than 140 characters in a row to express it:

I still make those trenchant political comments that you used to follow me for:

I still plug Earth Girls Love_____

and I still post updates about what's going on in my life,
and for another example, I used Microsoft's app to guess my age:

Friday, April 17, 2015

Walk A Mile In My Shoes? Walk A Mile In Your Own D*** Shoes. But, You Know, With Me.

Anybody doing the UNtimed Heart Run? And want someone to walk with?
Sort of a trick question, because I want someone to want me to walk with them
More information at their site and, as always, you can ignore me right here in the comments section. 

Friday, April 03, 2015

Are Our Attention Spans Getting Shorter?

I'm not sure about yours;  I've downloaded Longform and Tweetbot, but I've only used one of them so far this month.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring Is Here And So Are We

We're back from seven weeks, mostly in the desert, but eating instead of fasting. And what insights did I gain? Hardly any: we were gone seven weeks, and if time is really money, why don't we represent it as $7 weeks? Time wasn't just money, of course, it was also sitting and eating. So now, I'm in the largest pants I've worn in ten years, and blogging instead of going to Planet Fitness.
Still, the days are getting longer, the snow here is virtually all gone (having never arrived in the first place) and it's hard not to believe in the promise of spring. Be not deceived, though, this is just when most blizzards arrive.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Americans With Disabilities Act. But Sometimes They're Sad On The Inside.

We're waiting for our flight home. The flight's not until tomorrow, so we're staying in a motel. Microtel, actually. Which, inexplicably, I construed as sort of a resort suite experience, but it's not.  I asked for a handicapped room when I made the reservation on Expedia, and it is. The bathroom light doesn't work nor does the AC/Heat. What I should have said was handicapped accessible. 

Monday, March 16, 2015


It's probably a coincidence that Vladimir Putin hasn't been seen for days, and then just as he reappears, I start blogging again. 
In my last post, we were in Tucson. The day before we were scheduled to leave, Karen's brother called to offer her a chance to talk to her mother. A few minutes later he called to say that she had died. It's comforting that practically the last thing she heard was Karen telling her she loved her. We changed our plans and our flights; instead of going home we came to Iowa for the funeral. At the visitation, Geraldine looked beautiful and at peace. Seeing her so, along with the dignified funeral provided some comfort.
Now we are in Northeast Iowa getting ready to go back to Anchorage at the end of the week. A few years ago, agronomists, maybe, or lunatics, introduced Asian beetles to America as a way to control aphids. They have been very successful at surviving (with a lifespan of two to three years) reproducing and colonizing new areas, planting their little flags in bathrooms and living rooms throughout the Midwest. Rash ecologists, using the there-was-an-old-lady-who-swallowed-a-fly pest management philosophy have suggested importing Asian predators to control the beetles, but we all know how these things end; with schoolchildren fleeing Bengal tigers to get to T-ball practice.
Other things I've learned here in Iowa: one benefit of drinking coffee late at night is that when you have to get up to go to the bathroom, you'll already be awake and St Patrick's Day Parades are truly John Deere's hour come at last.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Now We're in Tucson

I bet you're just like me, you vaguely remember reading about Francis Fukuyama's essay The End of History, but you never  actually read it. I know, right? You could casually mention, as Wikipedia puts it, "the idea of an 'end of history' does not imply that nothing more will ever happen. Rather, what the postmodern sense of an end of history tends to signify is, in the words of contemporary historian, Keith Jenkins, the idea that 'the peculiar ways in which the past was historicized (was conceptualized in modernist, linear and essentially metanarrative forms) has now come to an end of its productive life; the all-encompassing “experiment of modernity” . . . is passing away into our postmodern condition'," to attract the ladies. I never did that, because I was already well into the bonds of matrimonial bliss when it came out, but you know, could have.
Anyway, it seems that despite the optimism engendered by the fall of the Berlin Wall, history didn't even slow down, better yet end. Some people just don't want to be Western Liberal Democrats 
The above is the intro to a crazed rant I was going to post, but for a clear and rational explanation of why Bibi Netanyahu can't really be taken seriously, click here, and for the real Israel/Iran/Saudi/US situation, you really, really should read this
And finally, if Netanyahu really doesn't want a "messianic, apocalyptic regime" to have nuclear weapons, shouldn't he be trying to get Republicans out of government?