Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Endless Cycle of Waste"

The toilet seems to be installed and working. We're going to glance at it every so often to check for problems, but that should be the extent of our waste-water management chores. Just one more reason to be glad that Karen and I don't still live on her family farm, or keep pet cows.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

First Among Many, Probably

I just put on some loose fitting clothing, which in itself was a challenge since just as I got within a few ounces of the top end of my goal weight, I fell into a vat of gravy and had to drink my way out. And then it turned out that Costco had sold us two vats. It was exhausting. I've put on enough weight in the last few days that just racing to the end of that long first sentence left me breathless. But now, I'm about ready to start work replacing our new toilet with an even newer toilet. If it goes smoothly, this might be my last post on the topic.

Hey, Wait a Minute, I Like Those Books

I don't know if this means anything, but now that I've got a lot of Barnes and Noble gift cards, I've been spending a lot of time looking at e-books and I've noticed that a lot of e-bestsellers seem to appeal to the geek demographic.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Us Post Office Hostage Ordeal Ends

Well, maybe in Virginia. Here, in our station, we still have six vacant carrier positions, and extra supervisors brought in for the holidays to stand around with clipboards watching us.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Not That I Even Know What a Loofa Is.

I have to use 128 bit encryption if I even want to buy a loofah on Amazon, and the military doesn't encrypt their drones at all? If that's the case, they ought to at least "monetize" the feed, by selling it to Al Jazeera, or letting Google run ads down the sides.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Frito-Lay Institute of Science

Immunization with an experimental anti-cocaine vaccine resulted in a substantial reduction in cocaine use in 38 percent of vaccinated patients in a clinical trial supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a component of the National Institutes of Health.

Yeah, get back to me when they've got something for a truly addictive substance like Doritos.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

WWJD and then There's Nothing New Under the Sun

I forget (which is one of the blessings of getting old) whether or not I've railed about Christmas songs being replaced by Winter songs. Jingle Bells, White Christmas, Let it Snow, and Rudolph, are on constant rotation, while you never hear songs like Joy to the World, and Come All Ye Faithful.
Fine, we live in a secular, post-Christian, society. But tell me how Baby It's Cold Outside, isn't a song about date rape.
Then when I went to Wikipedia to make sure I had the name of the song right, it turned out that I was not the first person to notice that. Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian writer in the 1950's and 60's cited the song as evidence of the "animal-like mixing of the sexes" in America. His writings, which included the line,"Civilization should favor humanity, not act against it," were very influential in the founding of Al-Qaeda.
And then so on and so on, link after link. Finally, I tossed Wikipedia a couple of bucks to let me go, and you can do the same. =====>

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Going In Vicious Circles

Despair.com's customer service rep responded to my e-mail by telling me that they'd had terrible luck with the Postal Service. I thought, "Oh, come on, your luck with them can't be as bad as mine, and don't even get me started about mailing things." Or something like that.
Since we have six vacant positions at our station, they're forcing carriers to work overtime to get the mail delivered. As carriers get tired or resentful, they're getting doctors to write them notes saying they can't work overtime which means that the carriers that haven't done that have to work even more overtime which means even more tired resentful carriers going to doctors, add nauseum and stir.
I was wandering through the cold, hard, seemingly interstellar, dark last night looking for addresses or mailboxes, or even a street sign. It was like an interminable Zoloft dream, without the prospect of waking up. Anyway, the days have pretty much stopped getting shorter, and next week after the solstice, the sun starts to move north, and we can begin our headlong dash into next winter.
Oh, speaking of interstellar, am I the only one who is not rushing out to see Avatar? Doesn't it sound like amazing effects serving a tired story about corporate greed and the military? I mean they probably won't finish up with how important it is to believe in yourself, but still, really? Greedy corporations, how original.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I Guess It Shouldn't Come As A Suprise...

that Despair.com made me sad. I painstakingly put together a personalized calendar with beautiful pictures and demotivational sayings like, "Never be afraid to share your dreams with the world, because there's nothing the world loves more than the taste of really sweet dreams,"or, "If you find yourself struggling with loneliness, you're not alone. And yet you are alone. So very alone," only to discover that for 2nd Day Air to Alaska they wanted $52, and $20.00 for Ground.
That's right, $52 shipping for a calendar, and it's a paper calendar, too, not a bunch of huge monoliths standing in a circle.
Have they even thought of just putting it in an envelope and dropping it in the mail with $1.39 postage?
They also sell a personally painful T-shirt that says, "More people have read this shirt than your blog."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Main Stream Media Gets It Wrong Again

The headline in today's newspaper said that our new snow created a nightmare. That's funny, because last night I actually was dreaming about scary snakes. Before I went to bed, I was reading a book I got for Hannukah called provocatively, I'm a Neurotic and So Are You. Mostly it seems to be people confessing to disgusting or weird OCD issues, except for the charming quirks that I have.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Look, I Can Write Our Customer Service Policy In The Snow

Okay, we've got tickets to Chicago, and a flight home from Boston. All we need to do now is connect the dots. We had planned to use our $50 companion ticket (soon to be a $99 companion ticket due to a recent price increase) but the price was sky high (a little airline humor) so we used miles.
At the airport, the agent had explained that it wasn't just missing connections in Seattle, that bumped us out of first class. Another factor is that when the airline changes to a smaller plane, as happens sometimes, upgraded ticket passengers are the first ones pushed back to coach, and then mileage passengers. A customer on my route told me yesterday that his son was recently bumped off a plane entirely to make room for non-revenue airline employees who were going to a company party. We agreed that the only promise the airline makes to its passengers is to not non-metaphorically urinate on them, and that's only if for some reason they don't want to.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Karen and I are planning a trip next month. We went out to the airport this evening to buy tickets, but they sent us packing, as it were.
Apparently, Amish (who surf the web) can fly, Luddites can't.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Well I got too excited in my tech Talk moments ago thinking and
talking about this dictation program and micro current stimulator the
heater doesn't stimulate or overstimulate that forgot to mention that
after 14 months yesterday Karen was finally disconnected from her
Karen was finally disconnected from her you can tell I'm still
dictating right here was finally disconnected from the external pump
that she's been carrying around for the last 14 months. She's free.


Sent from my iPhone

Tech running amok, and not

It's too soon to tell if you'll be able to tell that I didn't download
or upload her install dragon For dictation and am dictating this blog
into a yes or quick glance shows that you will be able to tell that I
did download the Dragon happen. I'm dictating into it and we all know
by now the perils that Running amok posers from the Terminator to
twitter. It turns out that text just sitting still can be kind of
annoying to yesterday Karen finally after months got some electrical
stimulating device that was supposed to help with her pain management
which has two states one whatsoever and two, burning sensations flying
upper arm glancing at what I've recorded so far, I see that the
Nigerians let's been using this system for years to send out e-mail.


Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off To The (Data) Mines We Go

Okay, it was pretty exciting to hear that Dragon is coming to the iPhone because it has been a Windows staple for years, but unavailable for Macs. I'm kind of put off by the fact that it has almost as many one star reviews as 5 star ones. Apparently, the first thing the app does is upload all of your contacts to their servers.
Maybe I'll give it a few days and see if they eliminate that due to privacy concerns. I mean if I wanted everyone to know how few friends I had, I'd join facebook.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Strange New Facts

New to me anyway. 
Discover Magazine had an article about solar energy. They said when we eat we are "...literally chewing the sun."  I thought it would be hotter.
In looking for that quote, I found this quote, "In daily life, space and time are harmless illusions"
And then, way more shocking, we found out that Karen has a great niece and a great nephew no one in her family ever bothered to tell us about.  

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, December 07, 2009

I've been thinking that I've had so few new ideas lately that if I was
a rock star it would be time to release a Christmas album.


Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Comes Now The Case Of Nature v Nurture

I'm reading an article about a genetic study. I've learned two main things so far. Genes that are associated with negative characteristics might have positive benefits given the right parenting, and rhesus monkeys are really, really cute.
They used rhesus monkeys for some of the work because they share 95% of their genes with humans, although in the case of the Olson twins it might be slightly more.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

In Case I Don't Mention It Later, Merry Christmas

Out on the route, a man told me that he had just gotten home from the hospital after having heart surgery. The night before the surgery he dreamed that I had done the operation. The rest of the day, I dreamed about how I could bill Blue Cross.

In other health news, or fitness, anyway; I downloaded an app for my iPhone that promised that within six weeks I could do 100 push-ups. It's a bit of a disappointment because the way the app accomplishes that is by having you do lots and lots of push-ups during those six weeks.

For the last few weeks, our station managers have been repeatedly forcing carriers to work more hours than the contract allows. This is dumb for lots of reasons, most of which I'm too tired to type, but here's one: they're paying carriers at the top of the pay scale double time rather than hiring, as the contract allows, lower paid, non-benefit-receiving temporary employees (in fact they just let one of those go when her term was up, rather than reinstating her). So, tiring for the carriers and expensive for the post office. As of today, though, most of those restrictions on carrier hours are rescinded for the holiday period.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Happy Anniversary

A quiet day out on the route, the 13th anniversary of my first day there. No hoopla, but a little celebratory black bunting.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another Holiday Has Come And Gone

Easter is finally over. When we got home today, we discovered that the dogs had found the Cadbury Eggs that Karen couldn't. Too bad, too, because she probably wouldn't have spread the wrappers all over the house.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My What Big Teeth You Have, Everybody

"Dealing with the bank, he said, was 'like dealing with organized crime.' "
I was forced to work overtime yesterday on a route I haven't done in years, in a semi-skeezy neighborhood. Normally, when you're working an unfamiliar route, even if you don't know the streets, you can sort of follow the mail. Last night, though, walking down dark winding lanes I could hear the mail whispering, "You're going to die out here."
Luckily, I had my iPhone, and when I did not know where the next stop was, why, I just fired up the Maps app and hey presto, there it was.
I read one of the vampire-American books, Dead Until Dark, the other day. Well, I say book, but I really downloaded it onto my phone. Pages are so millennium before last. Anyway, when I finished it, I went to buy the next one in the series, and Barnes and Noble had priced it at $19.96! For an e-book! Sort of preternaturally predatory pricing, no?
When I was in high school, I read a collection called 900 Grandmothers. There's a story about a scientist who can't remember what a particular machine in his lab does. He discovers that it is making people forget that Chicago has been destroyed. He understands then, why there is such a maudlin strain in the popular culture. Having remembered, he lets the machine take his memory away again.
I'm wondering if the sudden popularity of all things vampire is an expression of the way our government, and businesses, and health care system, and book stores, seem to be bleeding us dry.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Squalor Can Kill

Ever since we had the furnace fixed a couple of weeks ago, we've been smelling wisps of natural gas just as we walk in the front door, which is just off the kitchen. Today, I finally called the gas company. They sent a man out who identified a leak in the furnace and then turned off the gas. We called a plumber, and he came and replaced the leaky part. Our lives were saved!
We probably should have called awhile ago, but I just worried I'd be embarrassed that the guy would wave his gas sensing wand around and discover a dead squirrel or something under the refrigerator.
We recently got an estimate to replace the furnace with a much more efficient one. It was really expensive. Apparently what we're going to do instead is replace this furnace, piece by piece, and end up with the same inefficient furnace we already have, but at an even higher price.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The other night, I swiped my Safeway card at the Fred Meyer (Kroger's) store. After I canceled and started over, the terminal said, "Thank you, loyal customer." I felt like such a fake.
Speaking of which, I know a man who is a Mormon and a chiropractor. I bet he wears a toupee.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Evil Creatures Flying Through The Night Sky

The postal service has retreated in the face of fierce opposition and will reinstate the Santa program in North Pole. That's good for customer relations at the USPS (motto: We hate our customers and their relations) and good for the economy of North Pole, but I do worry a little. Christmas has been pretty well co-opted by Wal-Mart and Santa is just a stooge in their marketing plan. We used to attend a church where the pastor said that you could rearrange the letters (or phonemes, at least) of Santa Claus to spell Satan's Claw. Do you want to live in a world where Satan's Claw is coming down your chimney?
Well, maybe better that than the world imagined in the Star Trek movie that came out last year. I just saw the thrilling special-effects laden DVD. I had to wonder though, why, if the (spoiler alert) Romulans had to kill 25 years, one at a time, before they could kill Spock, they didn't just sail over to to Romulus and save their planet themselves. It's possible I missed something obvious. I felt sort of that way at the end of The Usual Suspects. It seemed to me that the big twist at the end didn't make any sense at all, but apparently I'm wrong because according to the users at IMDB, responding to a criticism of the movie:
"I love this movie. Whadda you do for a living, sell shoes? Cooka-yayah-o"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

In the fell clutch of circumstance

We just saw a commercial for a new movie called Invictus. I told
Ellie, our cute little lap dog who was on my lap getting her belly
rubbed, "That's a poem."
Then, "Oh, you poor thing, you don't know any poems, or even any words
that rhyme."
So, I was feeling sorry for her empty little life, when she leaned way
over and started licking herself.
Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Going Rogue

Sarah Palin is sort of old news up here. We fell in love with her honesty in the face of our elected officials' corruption, and her ability to reach across party lines to achieve sensible goals. We were proud when she was nominated to run for VP, and disappointed at how strident she became.
So, yeah, we watched her on Oprah, but what is really stimulating conversations and consternation up here is the Post Office's decision to no longer accept letters addressed to Santa, and to no longer allow the town of North Pole, AK to have its own postmark.
The postal spokesman said it was a matter of efficiency. Apparently we weren't losing customers fast enough; we're going to start chasing them away.

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Rémuage

Yesterday I finished installing pulls and knobs on the cabinets and drawers. It went pretty well, by my, admittedly low, standards. Only one of the drawers looks like it tried to escape, but was caught after being riddled with holes. After a hard day of home improving, I was drifting, wraith-like (the fattest wraith ever) into the arms of Morpheus, when we were startled by the sounds of steam and water coming from the basement. Okay, here's the question; I was off for 5 days, why would the furnace go out at bedtime on the night before I have to go back to work? And just as the plumber's rates jumped from time and a half, to double time?
I did go back to work today, and it was cold. Those madcaps at Harry and David are at it again sending fruit up here now that it's winter. I spent the day all, "Um, I have a package of nice crisp oranges for you."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I Know What You Really Want

I've been off for the last few days doing home "improvement" projects. They turned out to be home "status quo" projects, because although, so far, the kitchen cabinet knob project is going well, the replacing the bathroom light switch project was sort of a net step backwards since we ended up with the same switch (status quo ante) just not wired as well as it had been.
So, I don't have much to report (until I screw up (instead of in) a knob. To keep you busy until then, check out a site that's practically guaranteed to make you feel better.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Traditions Being Shanghaied

I've been carrying my phone through the store, on continuous re-aisle
looking for Karen. I just found her. She's buying so-called Christmas
decorations, which I am beginning to think are a plot by Chinese
athiests to get money from Americans.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Once I Was In A Hot Tub In Palm Springs, With Stars And Swaying Palm Trees Above Me When I Read in USA Today That It Was -30 In Anchorage

That was probably the best moment in that vacation. Yesterday was a holiday, and I have Friday and Saturday off this week, so I signed up for leave today, to get a 5 day weekend. This morning I got a text message from a carrier who didn't take today off. He had about three times as much mail as a normal day to deliver, plus, we had a brief, wet, intense snowfall yesterday making for extremely slick conditions.
MMM, sweet.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I saw one of my customers today. He was on his way home from the
hospital after having his foot amputated. I told him, like I tell my
Mary-Kay-selling friend, "If you want people to take your health
issues seriously, you can't look
great.
He did look great; I told him he was the coolest person I know because
he's like a round peg leg in a square world.

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, November 09, 2009

No Records Were Harmed In The Making Of This Blog

With mere days to spare before smashing a record for the latest
snowfall ever, we woke up this morning to a world of whiteness. Or to
put it another way, snow.
By the way, what is the deal with Sarah Palin? Why is she trying to
turn Reagan's "big tent" into a freak show?

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, November 06, 2009

Shh...

The eerily pleasant weather continues. Someone told me today that we had cheated winter. That's good, but I hope winter doesn't find out.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

There is Nothing New Under the Sun, Or, I Can Only Give This Recession A C

Them that's got shall get
Them that's not shall lose
So the Bible said and it still is news
According to a newly published book, this recession was brought about like all recessions because we thought we were smarter than the people that came before us, and, as recessions go, it's about average. Like us.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Unsettling News

Still no snow. It's eerie and uncanny, which, I guess, made it perfect for Halloween.

I entered a cartoon contest at the New Yorker, and apparently signed up for an e-mail update from the magazine. There was an article this week about using robots to help people recover from strokes and to help socialize autistic children. Some are unsettled by this because they think, for example, maybe autistic children should be socializing with people. Also, "Patients don’t want to be entirely subservient to the robot..."
I guess they want to preserve "the same illusion of freedom we all have."

Sunday, November 01, 2009

And Another Thing, If It's A Jet, Why Does It Have A Propeller?

Is nothing sacred?
At the end of the House at Pooh Corner, there's an affecting scene where it appears that Christopher Robin is growing up and leaving Pooh behind. Luckily, the Disney company has stepped in to destroy the poignancy and restore Pooh to his contented stout self. Or perhaps they represent the near triumph of Godless Capitalism.
Oh, and speaking of Puff-the-Magic-Dragon-like endings, how's this for poignancy?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Yesterday, for the first time this season, i rode my heavy winter bike
with its wide knobby tires. There was a stiff head wind and with all
the eating I've done lately I presented a large cross section. A very
large, very cross section.

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ganging Aft Agley. Again

The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy

My scheme to eat less this week, was a well laid plan. Very well laid, like an egg, a scrambled egg. Karen's birthday was yesterday, and we went out to eat last night, and tonight. And for a couple of days before that I was celebrating Karen's birthday, alone, in the dark with bowls of ice cream.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Machine is the Machine

Also this month in Wired magazine, an article about Demand Media, a company that spews videos onto the internet based on an algorithm that makes the "process ... automatic, random, and endless"
It's robots making videos to be found by search engines. Once they can eliminate people entirely, the middle man, so to speak, the process will be perfected. The singularity creeps closer, documented on Youtube. Or it would have been, if not for the whole singularity thing.

"You Can Sit Here in the Waiting Room, or You Can Wait Here in the Sitting Room"

We watched The Proposal last night. It's probably predictable to say it was trite.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

We Are the Machine

A while back I heard about an algae that flapped its little tail in response to light. Ingenious scientists were planning to turn that motion into simple machines. All well and good.
This month, though, Wired magazine has an article about taking the gene that causes the algae to move, inserting it into viruses and inserting the viruses into specific brain cells. Ostensibly, combined with implanted LEDs they can cure Parkinson's or depression. The lame can walk and the blind surf the web. Fine, but just you wait until Monsanto patents it. They'll probably start by curing people's aversion to genetically modified food, and it will all end up with people shambling down the streets eating each other.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Some Ideas Have Consequences

Judging by the movies that Netflix is sending me, at one time, I must have had the idea that I was interested in old movies.
This morning after weighing myself, I decided to eat less. So far, it hasn't made any difference in my weight.

Okay, neither of those interested me either, so take a look here for some fascinating statistics.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Can Feel Them Tightening Up

I'm pretty frustrated that I haven't been able to lose these last few pounds I put on last year, and it's not just me; even my relaxed fit jeans are starting to get tense.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Say, What Time Is It?

Last night I was watching an ad for iPhones through the viewfinder of
my iPhone's camera. Or, as Corinne said, "Time to get a life."

Sent from my iPhone

No Happy Endings

There are no happy endings, because there are no endings at all. I've finished listening to the iTunes U lectures from Stanford about the Punic Wars. North African worshipers of Baal, who can be identified with the Roman god Saturn (father of Jupiter) fought the Romans who they considered insufficiently devout in their related religions. Eventually the Romans prevailed and then fell in their turn. Now we are engaged in a great struggle against devout killers from North Africa who consider us insufficiently devout.

Sorry if these are sophomoric observations. I say, I'm sorry, but really if I achieved sophomoric status, I'm doing well; these were freshman lectures.

Today at the post office, I began to argue with my supervisor about being forced to carry a third bundle of mail instead of working the mail into two bundles. It's faster to carry two bundles, but it does take a few minutes to work them together. Eventually I apologized for bringing it up, "I'm sorry," I told her, "I was disoriented by a blinding flash of the obvious." It can happen.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'm Just Sayin'...

The other day I brought some mail out to an OB-GYN on my route. He said it wasn't very good. Like every baby he delivered was a big success.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Of Course, There's Bad News, Too

Karen is even more lucid and ambulatory today than she was yesterday, and at about 11am FedEx showed up with a brand new working iPhone for me.
Since life couldn't be better, it can only get worse.

Monday, October 12, 2009

News From the Hospital

Karen is home from her day surgery, and it's the same day, so big success. She's up around and lucid, so all in all, a triumph compared to last year.
On the other hand, I've been a little distraught because my iPhone has been getting more and more erratic. It's been starting to click icons before my finger reaches the phone, and today while I waited for Karen it began to click icons when I wasn't even reaching towards the phone. I was watching a movie and it started rewinding it, and when I tried to reach Apple support, it started calling random numbers and composing an e-mail to my sister. It would have been a confusing letter, too, because it was using a Lewis Carroll poem for the body. "A fact so dread, he faintly said, extinguishes all hope."
Not all hope, though. Apple says they'll send me a new phone tomorrow.
Oh, yeah, this was a post about Karen. She's fine.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

All the Leaves Are Gone, and the Sky is Gray

But it's been warmer than normal, and no snow. I've been sort of hoping for some snow since once it falls, Karen won't still be telling me that we have so much left to do in the yard, at least till spring. Finally, we'll be able to turn our attention to all the things that aren't being done in the house.
Tomorrow she's having day surgery.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Or, As Homer Simpson Would Say, MMM, Fatty Trimmings

I've been daydreaming about hamburgers, burned on the outside, rare in the middle with a fried egg topper. According to the New York Times, that's not a menu, it's a suicide note. By the way, if you don't want to click on the link and read the whole article, here's a salient quote:

...confidential grinding logs and other Cargill records show that the hamburgers were made from a mix of slaughterhouse trimmings and a mash-like product derived from scraps that were ground together at a plant in Wisconsin. The ingredients came from slaughterhouses in Nebraska, Texas and Uruguay, and from a South Dakota company that processes fatty trimmings and treats them with ammonia to kill bacteria.

By the way, does the Nobel Peace Prize mean anything anymore? Well, not much since Yasser Arafat (“Peace for us means the destruction of Israel. We are preparing for an all-out war, a war which will last for generations.”) got it, and then Al Gore for his massive hot air on global warming. But at least Al Gore had done something when he invented the internet. If the President got it for making speeches about peace, then using Walt Kelly's logic, a lot of us should be in the running next year.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Stupidly, I Aspired to Cliches, Wordplay and Nonsense

Chandler: Hey Joey, where do Dutch people come from? Joey: Uh... well the Pennsylvania Dutch come from Pennsylvania. Chandler: And the other Dutch come from somewhere near the Netherlands right? Joey: Nice try, see the Netherlands is this make believe place where Peter Pan and Tinkerbell come from.

The other night that there was a story on the news about health care in the Netherlands, a place where insurance companies compete on service. If only it was a real place.

Theatre of the absurd: "characters caught in hopeless situations forced to do repetitive or meaningless actions; dialogue full of clichés, wordplay, and nonsense"

A couple of days ago, while I was putting mail in mailboxes, over and over for the 32nd year, I was listening to my police scanner. There was a story about a headless, limbless torso that had been found in a business park here. I aspired to absurdity, and said that it might be suicide. Apparently, there's a thin line between absurdity and stupidity, judging by the response I got. It turned out that the body which was found on a roof was a moose, although suicide hasn't been ruled out.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Let Me Look Into This

A spokesman for Solid Waste Services expects it will take time for people to get used to the new system. As expected, there was some grumbling last year."It's a big change, more for some people than others," she said. "Within a couple of weeks, those calls went way down."

Apparently, if you don't call every week, you must be happy with the system.

In much more interesting news, at least to me, as you'll see, I took a personality test this weekend. It was sort of on a whim, but it turns out I have a recognized personality type. They call it, The Investigator, but, in reading the description, I realized they call it that only because "pathologically self-absorbed weenie" was already taken.


Friday, October 02, 2009

I May Drop Her a Line

Grammar Girl's (her link is right over there-->) episode today was about how to write a complaint letter. She doesn't specifically say not to compare the recipients to monkeys, but you can tell it's not what she would do. It might have helped if it had come a couple of days ago, but probably not. Her point was that you couldn't "get to yes" as easily if you were rude, which is fine, but monopolies don't get to yes, they tell you what yes is, and that you're going to like it. So, we'll bring you junk, SWS will haul it away, and all we need from you is your money.

A friend of mine told me recently that he suspected I wasn't above changing the facts if I thought it would make a better story. I was surprised to hear him say that since we've known each other more than twenty five years. At least, I was surprised to hear him say it now. I'm not saying it's true, mind you. Oscar Wilde has some aphorisms on that, buried in a long essay which apparently was the philosophical basis for the new movie The Invention of Lying. I couldn't say it better myself... or could I?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

A Small Thorn In The Garden Of Persephone

I've been listening to an iTunes U lecture series from Stanford about Hannibal. Today, in the middle of the lecture, it stopped playing through my bluetooth headset. I tried starting over and the intro would play, but then, silence. We had just gotten to a thrilling point in the first Punic War. Please, if you know, don't tell me how it turns out; I'm still planning on listening to the end.
I mean, I can guess, since looking around, I don't see any Punics, but no spoilers please.

In other news, after my two posts about the new garbage collection system, I saw that the e-mail I had received from them suggested I reply if I didn't want to receive any more e-mails from them. In my reply, I excerpted quite a bit from the blog about the recycling cult and the Bandar-log. So, it was embarrassing the next morning to have to call and ask what day pick up would be. It should have been embarrassing for them, since in their e-mail they said that some people's schedule would stay the same and others would change, and they didn't say who was who. On the other hand, they didn't compare me to a bunch of monkeys (at least not where I could hear them).
By the way, we got two garbage cans so in T9 you could say we got dual service.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Health Care Reform: Still All Mirrors, No Smoke

I heard Sens Baucus and Rockefeller debating a public option for health insurance. The debate seemed like it was headed somewhere useful when they agreed that insurance companies needed to have their feet held to the fire. It turned out, though, that they were using that as a metaphor.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

There's Good News. No, Wait, It's a Mistake

Just as I finished that last post, the crews were out in our alley delivering our expensive new garbage cans. I went out to see where we had to oh so carefully put them so their expensive new trucks could pick them up (the garbage men will only get out of the truck now to leave you a note explaining why they won't pick up your garbage).
It was pretty good news because the worry had been that we'd have to put the garbage cans in front of our houses instead of the alley, which in the winter, especially given Anchorage's wretched snow plowing will be very difficult to do.
Actually, the crews weren't delivering the cans, they were picking them up out of the alley where they'd put them by mistake so they could put them in front of the houses.

When Will They Ever Learn, When Will They Ever Learn?~ Pete Seeger

I was sort of irritable today, which was odd, now that I see it in type since my supervisor gave me a little coin this morning that said, "Keep Up The Good Work". I was irritable, but it wasn't until I got an e-mail from Solid Waste Services that I became irritated. It's not enough that I have to join their little recycling cult, but now I'm going to get messages from them just like the monkeys in the Jungle Book; "We are great. We are free. We are wonderful. We are the most wonderful people in all the jungle! We all say so, and so it must be true.."
So, I was testy, when one of my customers said, "How are you?" You'd think she'd know by now; I'm irritable. So, I explained that I was ticked about the recycling. She was too. And then I explained that I was irritated by the new traffic circle they just put up in our neighborhood that's supposed to calm traffic, but is enraging every driver that makes it through. Why, why does everything the municipality does make my life harder? She said she didn't like the new mayor, and I said that was fine, if it made her feel better, I'd hate him too, but I especially hated the smarmy former mayor who is now our smarmy Senator. Just then, someone drove by and yelled out the window, "Hello, beautiful people!"
She said, "That's Don Young's campaign manager."
I said, "I hate Don Young."

Monday, September 28, 2009

I Never Wanted To Have To Tell You This

Because it would mean that I've completely run out of ideas for a post.
So, here are a couple of things I heard recently,

Tom Waits singing, "I've got the clouds but not the sky." which pretty much sums life up most of the time.

Sandra Tsing-loh said her brother is getting marred for the second time late in life, and he and his bride are registering at Wells Fargo.

No wait, I didn't completely run out because I've been saving this, for when I really run out of ideas: I've got a gardener that sings roots music.
Here's a preview of tomorrow's post.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Powell's Doctrine

Colin Powell has espoused a military doctrine that demands that certain conditions be met before committing US troops, and if they are to be used, then they should be used overwhelmingly not unlike Forrest's "firstest with the mostest".
Karen has quietly been filling a box with books to send to Sarah; last night the doorbell rang, and there was a mailman on our porch with a box of books from Sarah. Sort of a Powell's doctrine first strike.
Ostensibly these were books that could go to Title Wave, but Title Wave has taken a very judgmental tone lately about used books being dropped off at a used book store. I loaded up my bike trailer last weekend and rode over there (up that steep hill by West High for those of you that have spent some time here [with a load of books in the trailer, don't forget]) only to hear, "We're not a donation center, you know."
I was sort of irritated (and sweaty) and while I was wandering around the store, I found a book I wanted that was only $1.50. But then I went online with my iPhone and found it free on Google's Book Reader. That kind of snottiness only really works when you've got a monopoly. That's what I tell my customers, rudely.

Friday, September 25, 2009

That's a 10-4, Dido

I've been listening to iTunes U lectures from Stanford (strangely,
Smith doesn't have any) about Plato, Socrates, Vergil and Hannibal.
They insist that citizens take an interest in the life of the
community. Following this Socratic precept, I've installed a police
scanner on my iPhone.
Here's a question for the ages gleaned from my new attention to the
polis; why would a woman fake being unconscious on a public restroom
floor?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

In Like a Polar Bear

Yesterday, on the calendar, and in practice, it was summer. Today we woke up to fall. The snow, which hitherto had remained only in our memories had moved half way down the mountains, and the leaves had begun to move down to the ground helped by a cold wind. The snow level is 2000 feet, which means that just a scant half mile from the top of our heads, it's snowing.
Oh, and I have a cold. I think it's just a regular cold, and not a swine cold. Maybe it's a bovine cold, because I plan to milk it for whatever it's worth.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I Just Don't Know What to Think Anymore

Sir Thomas More:[to Will Roper] Now, listen, Will. Two years ago you were a passionate churchman. Now you're a passionate Lutheran. We must just pray that when your head's finished turning, your face is to the front again.~From a Man For All Seasons


I just read an article in The Atlantic Monthly about health care. It seemed reasonable and comported exactly with my own experience. Oh, and it was kind of discouraging that we will ever achieve meaningful health care reform since the insurance companies, hospitals, doctors, and drug companies are so well rewarded under the current system, and so well entrenched politically. In fact, the current reform effort, if you believe this writer, (and I do, this week) can be summarized by this quote:
Like its predecessors, the Obama administration treats additional government funding as a solution to unaffordable health care, rather than its cause.

I just found out today that the war in Sri Lanka, now on indefinite
hiatus, was between Hindus and Bhuddists. Doesn't that seem odd like a
war between PETA and Greenpeace, or between Quakers and Shakers?

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

We've been having a little bit of Indian Summer up here, and not in
some quasi-racist way, but in a subtropical, subcontinental, in the
60's during the day way.
Sent from my iPhone

"Nobody Ever Wakes Up and Says 'Today is a Good Day for a Colonoscopy'"

I can sense this day slipping away from me, so I watched a video from iTunes U called, I'll Stop Procrastinating Tomorrow. I really think it helped me commit to doing those chores some time.

Mission Creep

Okay, I found a To-Do List that met all my criteria (free) and I put some items into it, but then we had to go to the hospital to have some routine blood work. As we left that, it occurred to Karen that she had some other pre-op stuff to do there before they re-implant her intrathecal pump (and only the pump) next month. A quick three hours later we were climbing back into our car and heading home.
Right now we're eating lunch and then we have some shopping to do, but then I've got a ton of little chores I'm going to get started on this weekend.

If I Tweeted, This Would Be One of Those

I've been up for almost two hours now on my day off. I have tons of little chores to accomplish. So far I've spent all my time since before I got out of bed searching Apple's App Store for the perfect To-Do List App. Oh, and blogging. Anyway, I've got a lot to do, so I have to get back to the App store.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

As Ritualized as Japanese Theater, Noh What I Mean?

Okay, this is the last post about my dog bite, unless I think of something else to say about it. I just wanted to point out that getting bitten by a dog is as choreographed as any ballet, or I should say as scripted as a play,
Dog's Owner: They're alright.
Mailman: Ow
Dog's Owner: They've never done that before.
To paraphrase Katt Williams, "Every time? Every time."

Monday, September 14, 2009

If You're Reading This You Must Be Alive

But you won't always be.
My dog bite is healing, I guess. Here's a link to the latest picture of it. Now you can see where the teeth from the bottom jaw hit on my arm. The owner told me today that they've put the dog on restriction. I thought that was a cutesy term for quarantine, but no, animal control has never called them.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Okay, we all know this, why don't we just do it?
And to recap yesterday's post, irritating unwanted paper should be delivered to a mailbox by a mailman, and everyone should have a dog for house cleaning.
Except today I was bitten by a dog on my route. At least it was a real bite, and I could feel more manly and less frock-wearing-and-parasol-waving than I did when I was attacked by a cat.
If you're interested, it looks like this.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Garbage Men of Stockholm

In the course of complaining about something (more on this, I bet) to my assemblywoman, I mentioned that we were being forced into the inconvenient and very expensive mandatory recycling program by Anchorage's Solid Waste Services. She wrote to SWS, who responded in part, "Many of our Phase I customers complained loudly about the expense and inconvenience of the automated program before we started, but now really like the system."

Did you know that in the Soviet Union, there were no phone books? Telephone numbers were given out on a need to know basis. In contrast, at the dawn of the Internet Age, the mantra was "Information wants to be free. Om" Okay most of that was that we all wanted to steal music. Like St Paul said, "All things are lawful, but not all things are expedient. Francis Schaefer said that among his students this freedom was misinterpreted as license. Just now, you need to know that keeping my hands on the keyboard is introducing a tone of reasonableness and civility that was missing earlier today when I was talking about this. Then, my hands were waving in the air. Sure, the First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press, but here, this freedom is running amok and littering because everyone in this town with a printing press is lobbing phone books into my yard, and I'm sick of it. And planning on being even sicker of it, when I have to start dealing with expensive and mandatory garbage men. I suggested to my assemblywoman an opt-in requirement but the SWS guy besides positing that soon I'd love being held hostage by garbage men, said that the phone book company goons would mount a legal challenge, so there was nothing we could do. Because if a lawyer throws a phone book at you, it's fine, but just you try it, and they'll throw the book at you, so to speak.

More health news, for the only mildly squeamish. Yesterday Karen called me at work and told me that her tubing had popped apart and was spurting blood. I told her that she should call the home health people in charge of her pump since their office is right at the end of our street. She did and they came and fixed it all up. When I got home, she had changed clothes and their was no sign of any problem. Because Bernie had followed her around licking up all the blood.

An' Here I Sit So Patiently Waiting To Find Out What Price You Have To Pay To Get Out Of Going Through All These Things Twice.~Bob Dylan

For a long time after Karen's day surgery last year and its subsequent hospitalizations, infections, injuries, indignities, and what have you, she wouldn't let anyone come near her with anything sharper than a spoon. But now she's scheduled to have her pump reimplanted next month. I'm surprised they can even do a surgery with a spork.

In other news, does anyone else find it ironic that I can't find my GPS, even using my iPhone to help look for it?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

How Much Cargo Do You Have In There?

Last Christmas Leah gave me a pair of pants with a lot of pockets. They had the waist that I'd been wearing, but wasn't quite able to fit into anymore. This morning I finally squeezed into them for the first time. I must say that although the label says "Cargo Fit", it might as well have said, "Wide Load".

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Chain Reaction

We went for a bike ride today. It's practically the first, and probably the last, of the season. One rider was so much faster than the rest of us that I might as well have been on a stationery bike. That's right, I could have been doing bike writing.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Crossing The Futility Boundary

Wired Magazine has an article this month about the placebo response. It has become harder and harder for drug companies to prove their drugs are better than placebos. Drug trials that fail that test are said to have crossed the "futility boundary". Which is such a great phrase that it could be a post all by itself.
Anyway, the placebo response is real, and research indicates that even inert drugs can act as a "catalyst for ... the body's 'endogenous health care system.'" if the patient believes they will help. Drug company's advertising has been so effective that just taking a pill, any pill, can trigger the release of endorphins and dopamine, making the patient feel better. Or, meet the Republican health care plan. Along with squinting for vision care and a piece of string and a door knob for do it yourself dentistry.

In other news, the Onion is reporting on the Postal Service's offer to buy out its employees.

Maybe I Just Like Cursing The Dark

The energy rater that I wrote about yesterday said that if we insulated the house as he recommended, we could heat it with a candle.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

As Posts Go, This One Is Only Fair

We had an energy rater at our house yesterday. We got two stars which is more than I gave Hart's War, but still it wasn't very impressive for a Hart's home. We were 62% efficient, about what I assume the post office is. He gave us suggestions to improve our energy efficiency. Some of them weren't very big, but even one thing can make a difference. For example, a joke about a Greek scholar who could read in the Basement, wouldn't even make sense. He made some suggestions about insulation that would cost a lot, but would pay off in the long run. I told him that at my age, the long run was whether or not I made it to the In Plain Sight season premiere.

We went to the fair on Sunday. I tried to include something from each major food group, fried, frozen, dipped and spicy. I moderated my eating somewhat; I only had a medium ice cream cone. On the way out though, I was like a toddler in a shopping cart with both arms out. I found myself at the gate holding a corn dog and an ear of corn. It turns out that being rated the best corn dog is an ambiguous compliment. Yes, Dean's Corn Dogs may have better batter (a tasty tongue twister ) than the others but it had the same insipid hot dog. The world is crying out for a corn dog that doesn't disappoint. Or just fried batter, that would be good.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I'm Not Saying I Couldn't Be Bought

Perhaps you've heard that postal employees are being offered incentives to retire, but that doesn't apply to letter carriers. Still, it's obvious they want to lower their head count. Apparently I'm still working only out of spite.
Which is a pity because when I got home from work today I discovered that the Johnsons had bought us a high-def TV so now I really have no reason to leave the house

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Lives of Others: Spoiler Alert

I watched the Lives of Others tonight; a sad, claustrophobia-inducing movie about the German Democratic Republic before the wall fell down. One of the characters, weary of his life, and with his career ended, becomes a mailman.

Monday, August 24, 2009

If Nixon Taught Us Nothing Else, The Coverup Is Worse Than The Crime

It turns out that even if you feed a tiger before giving him a ride in your car, he still may attack and kill somebody, at least according to the dream I had last night. I see now in the clear light of day that I should have just let him eat the body, since it was my trying to hide the remains and kill each new witness that made the whole thing spiral out of control.

That was an example of the kind of dream that Zoloft users have. Last night Ambre was telling me that new research shows that nocebos are as powerful as placebos and that whatever we expect to happen with a medication is what happens. I said, "I don't know if that's true, Zoloft has really helped me a lot. Oh no, maybe it's just because I expected it to help! Help! Help! I'm going to keep believing it so just drop it, please!"
So, see, things can spiral out of control even without a tiger.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Maybe This is True For Faithless Vulcan Fianceés, But Not For Me

Spock: After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.
~Amok Time
Sent from my iPhone

The other night I had to reboot my Logitech 550 Harmony remote control. I felt kind of helpless for awhile until it began to work properly again. I realized then that we had no chance of winning in Afghanistan. During the cold war, the Soviets and the Americans threatened to bomb each other back to the stone age. But if one side is already living there, what can you threaten them with?

Even so, I want to tell you that I really looked forward to getting an iPhone, and then to getting a bluetooth stereo headset, and pace Mr. Spock, I really love them. Today before I fell asleep in Karen's doctor's office I was able to post an ad on Craigslist. I understand that people won't be necessary in a post singularity universe, and that evolutionary pressures on machines mean they won't have to love us like we love them, but man, I really love my iPhone.

Of course, once the phone breaks or disappoints I'll probably have to write another post titled "Spock Was Right, He Always Is" and man the barricades against the machine overlords, but until then...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How Long Has This Been Going On?

Eighteen years if you can believe Beloit College. They have just released their annual mindset list. This year what is so surprising isn't what incoming college freshman don't know, but what I didn't know; apparently there has been blue jello for the last eighteen years, and I'm just finding out.
I'd probably know about it if they'd used Bill Cosby as their spokesman.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Eight Years Later, Another Jewel in the Diadem of Democracy

"Another jewel in the diadem of democracy," was originally S. J. Pereleman's take on India, although the Indians were nothing like this.

Me and Fergie, We're Like That

I'm so three thousand and eight
You so two thousand and late
I got that boom boom boom
That future boom boom boom
~from Boom Boom Pow by the Black Eyed Peas

Now that I have an iPhone, I'm all boom boom pow except, I'm not sure even my phone respects me since it keeps beating me at checkers.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Soooo-ie Bono

According to Bloomberg, each member of Congress now has approximately six health industry lobbyists joining them at the trough. Being unclean, pigs don't get much play in the Bible, but they do show up occasionally, and then, just as quickly disappear.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cui Bono

Blah, blah, blah, I sat down to write a funny post about health care reform, but it turns out that the monster insurance companies, the demagogic politicians, the so-called conservative talk radio Goebbels, and our own Sarah Palin who, since failing in her run for vp, has apparently set her sights on leading a rabble of lemmings, have sucked the humor right out of my keyboard.
Every other industrialized country has a single payer system that costs less than ours and provides much better outcomes by any measure.
We should ask ourselves who benefits from scuttling the attempts at reform?

Monday, August 10, 2009

I Look Like I Had More Than Just One More Piece of Cake

This is the Pauline Year, celebrating two thousand years since the birth of the Apostle Paul. Near the end of his life, he said, "For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race..."
I expected to be at the end of my career just now, but instead I believe I'll have another piece of Cake;
The fans get up and they get out of town.
The arena is empty except for one man,
Still driving and striving as fast as he can.
The sun has gone down and the moon has come up,
And long ago somebody left with the cup.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Muting Feature on iPhones

My sister left yesterday and today I waddled back into work. I got there early enough to show off my new iPhone. I told the people in the break room how I'd tried to get it in July, and then on August third, but that now that I had it I was finally cool. Everyone was speechless.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Whoa is Me

My sister has been in town for the last few days, so, of course, I've been off my diet again. Today I was talking smack about some of Oprah's fat guests who couldn't eat broccoli without cheese. Then I realized I better get off my high horse before I crushed it like a bug.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

I dreamed I met Satan last night. He was kind of a jerk.
In real life, last night I was telling one of Leah's friends about being attacked by a cat. She just laughed at (not with) me. Too late I noticed her t-shirt.
Speaking of Catzilla, I was back in Woodside East (I felt like Stephen Sondheim's mailman) yesterday delivering mail. The scary cat's owners have put up a mailbox. I like to think that I've helped to make the world a little safer.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Zombie Insurance: Premiums are Cheap, But Try to Collect When Someone Is Eating Your Head

"...one great way to make money is to keep them on the roster, collect their large premiums, and then deny them the care they need when the time comes."


I know that as a conservative, I'm supposed to oppose the public plan for health insurance, but can I still hate the private health insurance companies? Yes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'm Like the People in the Microsoft Ad; I'm Not Cool Enough to Buy an iPhone

So, it turns out that when they say we're eligible for a subsidized iPhone on August 5th, they don't mean around then, they mean August 5th. So, even though I wasn't able to buy the phone, I have started to buy apps for it. No rules can stop me from buying apps for a phone I don't have and can't get.
Instead of a phone, I went to DMV and renewed my driver's license. It was a little disappointing because when my current license expires, coincidentally also on August 5th, I'll be eligible to retire. My plan had always been to let my license expire because once I retire why would I ever want to drive? It wasn't a very good plan, I see now. And other plans of that caliber have ensured that I won't be able to retire then anyway. Or possibly ever.
In other news, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called on the authorities to treat their political prisoners with "Islamic mercy."
To which the Iranian political prisoners screamed, "No-o-o, anything but that!"

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"I hope to God I'm talkin' metaphorically Hope that I'm talkin' allegorically "~Edwyn Collins

I know you're supposed to sit on your furniture, but there's some risk, hopefully only metaphorical, that with the recent addition of one more couch, our furniture will be crushing us.
To quote Smokey Robinson, "Take a good look at my face," because even though we just spent money we don't have on a couch we didn't need, I'm about to cut my (metaphorical) nose off and go buy a new iPhone.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

“People hate me because I am a multifaceted, talented, wealthy, internationally famous genius.” ~Jerry Lewis

Oh, that's why.
This morning, NPR ran a story about a French cashier who blogged about her tedious dead end job. The blog became so popular that she turned it into two best -selling books. What can you expect from a country that made Jerry Lewis a commander in the Legion of Honor?
In the meantime, my blog about my tedious dead end job has essentially become a Woozle hunt a la Winnie the Pooh, as my counter goes up every time I check to see if anyone is reading.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

If It's Wednesday, I Must Be Advertising Priority Flat Rate Shipping

The Postal Service gave us T-shirts to wear on Wednesdays to advertise Priority Flat Rate Shipping. Up till now, none of my customers have asked me about it. Today, though, several did. I think this is the first time they could read it all, now that the shirt has been fully inflated.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

If a President Said It, Then It Must Be True

Eisenhower said once, "Things are more like they are now than they ever were before." But just barely, as this reference to Roosevelt points out.
So, I went back to work today, and things are a lot like then, now. I do have a new appreciation for what geese go through in order to produce foie gras.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Note to TSA; This is a Comment on the Size of an RV's Gas Tank

A couple of days ago, we took the RV over to Costco and filled it with gas before taking it back. It was like attending an Al Qaeda fundraiser.
Last night, Sarah and Sean went back to Boston. We were up in Glen Alps yesterday, and a man pointed out a dot that he claimed was a moose. He said, "You can never see too many moose." But last night as we were driving to the airport, we saw one inside the fence that is there to protect the runways from moose. So, maybe you could see one too many. Now, Sunday morning, it's begun to rain. This almost never happens in real life, at least, not my real life. That is, that it would be sunny, if smoky, all week when we had guests, and then rain after they left.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

So, We'll Go No More A RoVing

We're back home from our RV trip to Denali and Fairbanks. Shepherding the leviathan as it pitched and rolled, was at first just ghastly. I was one of those cartoon drivers holding on to the steering wheel with my feet flying out behind me as I was flung around corners and up hills. Later though, I achieved the Zen complacency that comes from overconfidence. No, I did get better as I went along. Last night we lounged in our RV living room. I felt so relaxed, I told the them that when were driving home, no one outside would know if I just stayed in my baggy pajamas, especially if I kept the curtains closed.
Yesterday we took a cruise on the Riverboat Discovery. One of the high points of that trip has always been the Wedding of the Chena and Tanana Rivers. The clear Chena joins the silty Tanana and something better than both of them emerges. E Pluribus Unum. Except that so much silt has built up that the boat can no longer make it into the Tanana. So now, it's more like nature saying, "Good fences make good neighbors."
I don't want to give the wrong impression here. Mostly while Sarah and her Sean went off to look at Alaskan stuff, Karen and I stayed in the air conditioned motor home and read and slept. I did a book a day, powered almost entirely by Corn Nuts and cashews.

Monday, July 13, 2009

American Gothic Couple Does Laundry and Checks E-Mail

A couple of days ago we were in Talkeetna for the Moose Dropping Festival. While we were there it was, you know, festive, but some people always ruin it for everybody by getting high and violent, and then drowning. We saw a lot of people with lots of tattoos. I think tattooed people must be the most resistant to the idea of change and growth. No one who ever imagined that they could learn something new, would want to be permanently marked with the old.
Now we're in Fairbanks at an RV park. We're sitting on the porch at the office, watching the world go by, and waiting for our laundry to dry. The temperature in the shade here is near earth normal, but a few steps away it is swearing.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Hello Kitty

I was right yesterday when I said it was hot; we set a record for that date of 80°. Today it's like living in a chimney since it's still hot, but the air is full of smoke since this long stretch of sunny weather has led to fire danger levels of "Inferno". In fact, this afternoon there was a forest fire just a few blocks from here. Today I was tempted to cut off service to anyone who didn't have a sprinkler on their lawn.
I was wrong yesterday when I said I was clawed by a dog. Apparently there is a dangerous cat that lives in that condo. I'm just saying he must be like a saber-tooth cat. That claw looked like an antler. A few people pointed out that it would have to have been an unusually tall and thin dog to reach up and through the slot. I don't want to beat this to death but the cat is locked in the garage, while their pit bull is in the house.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Let The Change Begin With Me, Or At Least For Me

It's been unbelievably hot here. Last night as we were culling mail, one of the other carriers said, "I don't want to complain," I asked her, "Then what are you doing here?"
Today I was delivering mail on another route. I lifted up the flap on a mail slot (using the mail, and not my hand, as I was trained, to avoid being bitten by a dog) and a dog's claw shot out and punctured my hand. My thumb instantly began to swell. I looked like Sissy Hankshaw's mailman. I tried to call my supervisor, but my phone wasn't working. In a way, that was a relief, since I haven't been able to get any of Sarah Palin's tweets. I got the phone restarted, and told my supervisor I was heading to the walk-in clinic right next to the route I was delivering. She said she'd meet me there with the sheaf of forms they'd need to fill out. For some reason, though, they don't take federal comp claims.
They called ahead to a clinic just down the road a mile or so, and they did take federal comp claims, but when we got there with our file cabinet of papers, they said they took comp claims, but not hands. They did clean the blood off and then called across the street to another clinic who said, "Sure, send him over." There, they said that they didn't know who would have said that since they don't take federal comp claims. A doctor came wandering by, and said that it was his clinic, and he'd see me ( that was the only way he was going to get mail today since he lives on my route). But first he had to go get some lunch. The reception staff, said that he'd see me when he got back, but if what I wanted was a tetanus shot, I'd have to go somewhere else since they didn't stock vaccines.
Dejected, and abandoned at that point by my supervisor who had some reports to print out, I drove my mail truck to the hospital. By then the swelling had gone down, and the puncture was visible only with a microscope. The medical assistant pretended to clean the area I said was wounded, but I got a real tetanus shot and a bandaid.
Maybe it's time for no-fault health insurance reform.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

A woman on my route said, "What a dorky hat," when she saw me the other day. She explained that by being direct, she avoided misunderstandings, which avoided hurt feelings, and thus she was a "peacemonger".
She asked about the postal holiday schedule, and I began to explain that I was working my day off, Thursday, because that was some people's holiday. That led me into explaining carrier's scheduling generally. Frankly, it was a bigger exposition than Chicago in 1915, and she pretended to fall asleep so as not to hurt my feelings.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Dingo Days of Summer

I'm still trying to develop an Aussie swagger to go with my new sun bonnet, but the effort has been vitiated by my saying things like vitiate. I've said quotidian so many time of late that it's become an everyday thing.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

What Did She Say? Just a Minute, and Then Another Minute, and Another Minute,

So, the other day, when I was styling down the street with the Aussie swagger of, I don't know, say, Kanga, I was sort of snickering to myself about the way Sarah misspoke recently. She said that as long as we lived in Alaska she could come up here for interminable trips, when she obviously meant innumerable trips.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I wore my new Aussie Sun Hat to deliver mail today. I figured it would give me an air of rugged Aussie panache like Russell Crowe, or Quigley down under. I'm afraid the effect was more like a margarine ad, or as one customer helpfully pointed out, a raisin box.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Health Care in Lake Woebegone

Congressman John Boehner said yesterday that if you like the Postal Service you'll like government run health care. Ouch. On the other hand, Congressman Rangel says the plan is to give everyone more than a fair shake.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Everything's Bigger in Alaska

I inadvertently walked by a mirror this morning, oh, the horror. It seems I may have developed one of those muffin top things. If so, it's like from a Costco muffin. Mmm, Costco muffins, I could go for a few a of those right now.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

You Love The Red Sox, But Have They Ever Loved You Back?

I started to take what turned out to be an interminable Wired Magazine survey. Before I gave up, I had to give them some personal information such as the year I was born. Apparently according to Wired, I'm just too old to really matter since my year of birth was included in the "or before" tab.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Just Like Johnny B. Goode

I have had a couple of bicycle mishaps lately, but now I'm making the transition from the ridiculously dangerous to the merely ridiculous. I've been going for short rides after work. Even though Wayne, at WeBikeAlaska always says to never venture out on a bike without a spare tube and a pump, I've been thinking "I don't have to worry, because these are really short rides." Of course most accidents happen close to home (when I told my neighbor she should wear a helmet because most accidents happen close to home, she said we should live in a better neighborhood).
Yesterday in the Russian Jack Park, near Boniface, I heard a sound, "just like ringing a bell."
It turns out that's the sound made by a latex tube exploding. According to Google Maps
I carried my bike about 1.7 miles home.
Today, though, we rode to the top of Crooked Tree Street, which, again, according to Google Maps is 800 feet above sea level. That isn't that impressive, but half those 800 feet seem to come in the last 800 feet.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

New Hires and Amnesiacs

We got a lecture the other day about productivity. I'm sure it would have been more effective if she had been talking to new hires or Tom Hanks.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The morning started well. I looked at the clock, it said 6:09 which would be the same if you spun it 180 degrees. I pictured it spinning lazily away and thought what a good time that would be to get up, but the spinning made me drowsy, so I dozed back off. I have my reasons for being sleepy, I guess, what with the sun blaring through the windows all night. In Greenland, suicides go up in the summer. The speculation is that people are just exhausted from lack of sleep. Living without darkness isn't all skittles and beer you know. There's also midnight golf.
As is so often the case nowadays, there was approximately no mail today. I suppose summer and the recession are partly to blame, but I think they're just accelerating trends as people move their communications away from paper and into electrons. I had time on my hands to chat as I went down the street. "My, you're early," I heard. I told people about the mail volumes. "We need more people to write letters. Go ahead, I can wait."
A slow day gave me time to ruminate. As they would almost have to, my thoughts turned to cud. I wonder if it tastes good to cows. I can't brush after every meal; I'd hate to have to eat after every meal, although if you look at my waistline, it looks like that's exactly what I do.
On the way back to the post office this afternoon, there were some kids standing in the middle of the street advertising a car wash, to support the Hemlock Society, I suppose.

By the way, if you're not sick of myself, check out Grammar Girl episode number 172.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I spent half the day wearing my bluetooth before I realized I didn't have my phone with me. I expected to have a clever thought about that, but no, it turns out I'm the kind of guy who wears a bluetooth headset without a phone.

Monday, June 08, 2009

"He's a Menace!"

The other day, one of my customers was out killing dandelions. I asked him if he didn't admire them for being plucky little survivors. Unfortunately, all people hear is the part about plucking. I bet Albert Schweitzer didn't have that kind of problem.
Also, I bet when he was trying to save the world, he didn't cause so many problems. Yesterday was the Anchorage Tour de Cure to raise money for diabetes research. I had signed up to ride the 100K route. At the starting point, the man said to gather around, so I gathered myself over there, and then stood around waiting for something to happen. Meanwhile, everyone else in the parking lot kept getting ready. The man said, "Go," and they went. I still had to pump up my tires, put on my shoes, and everything else you do to get ready to "Go!" By the time I "Went!" I was all alone in the parking lot with the sound of crickets playing in my head.
It was a beautiful day for a ride, or a run, or walk with a stroller or dogs, and the trails were busy. I was bustling along, but at about mile 27 I came around a corner doing about 20 miles per hour when I plowed right into a runner, lifting him off his feet and throwing him into the bushes I slammed into the asphalt, cracking my helmet. A lot of other things happened, and then the runner and I were alone again waiting for an ambulance to come and get him. Although I was wearing spandex bike shorts, it looked like I was wearing a pair of pulsating pants on my legs because of all the mosquitoes. It also looked like I had tied a wool sweater around my head. Luckily the mosquitoes were sucking up all the blood that might otherwise have attracted the two bears that had been reported near there. A lot of people went by while we waited, including two members of my so-called team. They asked if I was okay. I said I was because that's what guys say. As they rode away, I heard one say, "Was that David?" (there might have been a question because of the blue sweater). The other guy said, "Yeah, but he said he's okay."
The ambulance finally showed up, driving right down the trail. They had their flashing lights on. I guess they weren't sure if an enormous vehicle on a bike trail would draw enough attention. They put the runner in the back to assess him out of mosquito range. One of the EMT's asked if I was okay. I told him I wasn't sure. I'd hit my head and I had a headache. He said that they'd look at me next, and then they drove away.
I decided my Tour was finished, and started to ride back to Eagle River, 27 miles away. A few minutes later, a friend (my hero, Rich) called to see how the ride was going. I told him, and he met me and drove me back to get my car.
I called around trying to find out how the runner was, but HIPAA and human cussedness kept me from finding out. I did leave my name and phone number with the fire department who said they'd give it to the hospital, to give to him, but he hasn't called yet.
As usual, I'm fine, but Rich's friend's first comment when she heard about my accident was, "He's a menace."
I'm starting to think maybe she's right. I enjoy biking, but is it really fair to everybody else for me to keep on, leaving a wake of broken glass and ribs? I don't know.

Friday, June 05, 2009

"Just What You Want to Be, You'll Be In The End"~ Justin Hayward

Some people say that biology is destiny. I don't know if that's true, although I guess I'm more likely to eat a cow, than a cow is to eat me. Stratfor's take on the world is that geography is destiny. They seem to know what they're talking about, so even though I know astrology is fake, I still think it's possible to be born under a bad sign, like one that says "Welcome to Somalia"

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Smiling Faces

My supervisor says I don't smile enough. I don't want to be like the Dutch Muslims that rioted because a cartoonist said they were violent, but I'm still irritated when she says it.
I heard on the radio the other day that one of my customers won a prestigious national award. I bet he's feeling all superior like he's a better math teacher than the rest of us.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Going For the Green, and Keeping It

There was an ad in the paper today for Bell's, a hoity-toity nursery where snooty people get their begonias. We rushed out to get ours, or maybe they were petunias, but they were sold out of the cheap ones, if they'd ever had them. Probably just as well, since I consider buying flowers akin to burying money in the ground, except, if you have a map, you might be able to get your greenbacks back.

You Know Who You Are

So, are you going to click on the link over there and join the Hardly Davidsons on the Tour de Cure or not?!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Man, I Hope He Has Measles

A family moved onto my route recently with a barking dog. They assured me that it was friendly. I never listen to people when they tell me that. As far as I'm concerned, that's like wind chimes, just an irritating noise to let you know that air is moving. One day the dog did get loose, and although he was clearly out of control, he didn't seem particularly aggressive. But today, there was a big orange sign that said "Animal Under Quarantine".

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Day in the Life

I received a package in the mail today from a friend in Seattle. I had stayed with him and his family earlier this month when I was down there. There was a pair of socks that I guess I must have left there. They had given me the socks in the first place, so as I think about it, I'm not sure if they are giving me socks again, or back.
Which is not at all what I meant to be talking about. The package also included The Cyclists Yellow Pages. There was a listing for trail maps of Anchorage that I had never seen before which includes slideshows of various local trails.
Here's the site, and here's the trail I ride the most since it's the closest to our house. Mile 3.67 in the slide show is where we get on from here, about 6 blocks from our house.
Incidentally, today might be known as the Day of the Long Noses. After 2008, the year without a summer, we've had weeks of warm clear days this spring. Today the mosquitos were out, out for blood.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I'm Typing as Fast as I Can

A seventy year long study of Harvard students shows that happiness and longevity depend on friendships. My friend was telling me the other day that he only had two friends, and I was thinking "What a braggart."
It's probably just as well that as a misanthrope I'm going to die earlier than I would have. It turns out if I don't, I'm going to have to age without the benefit of a skeleton. According to research I stumbled across looking for the story about those brainy ants, serotonin carries messages back and forth from people's intestines to their skeletons (those voices in your head may, in fact, be coming from your skull). An excess of serotonin (as may happen with the use of SSRI's like Zoloft) tells the skeleton to stop replacing itself with new bone. Which I suppose would be depressing if I wasn't taking Zoloft. Of course, if I wasn't then I wouldn't have to worry about it. My life, brought to you by Catch 22.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Natural Law

Ants are in the news again, for making good decisions with essentially no brains. I've had occasion recently to watch ants, and while they obviously have good publicists, what they need is a lawyer. Their behavior is indistinguishable from iRobot's Roomba. They appear to wander in circles, with strange stops and changes of direction. They're both attracted to filth, and they both inexplicably refuse to enter the bait traps I've set up. The Roomba, at least, doesn't wave its feelers disparagingly at me each time it goes by the trap.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Universally Remote

While I was waiting at a stop sign today, I was thinking about how marvelously complicated the world is. The trees are green here now, which is kind of amazing and how a doctor told us that Karen's, and I suppose everyone's, kidney has six different functions. And the brain itself, wow. How could all this arise spontaneously from nothing? But then I remembered reading recently that the brain was a kludge, just new stuff piled precariously on top of older stuff, so that we have a shark's olfactory lobes mixed with monkey reasoning. I think I read that, and didn't dream it, although I did dream last night that I was adrift inside a piano, but when a dog started barking at us, I realized we were close enough to get to shore, so you can see; the brain is mysterious.
Then I thought, if God didn't create the universe, where did it come from and why does it exist at all, and how could you describe, or even think about a universe in a state of non-existence?
So, anyway, the universe and I are expanding. I can get into my bike clothes only because they're spandex, but they make me look really bad, because, um, they're spandex.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Like Sheep to a Slaughter, Or At Least To An Intricately Planned Heist That Goes Wrong

On Thursday, my bike is going in for a follow-up visit after the accident. It appears it was slightly more scathed than it first appeared. The crank is bent, and a bike mechanic said that the frame might be bent as well. I've been so heavy that I'm afraid that it's not so much bent as swaybacked.

The punch line in Sally Forth today was, "People change, Hil. So do their medications."
Technology tries to keep up, though. When the internet was new, long before Netflix, there was a site that attempted to recommend movies based on your ratings of other movies. No matter what I rated, they always recommended Land Before Time IV. I was fascinated by the specificity of that. I'd never rated, or even seen, LBT 1-3, so why they would assume familiarity with the franchise? Anyway, time's marched on; I'm happily medicated, but Netflix must discern something seething underneath my placid, almost ovine, exterior. They've created a whole category of recommendations for me called Violent Crime Films.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Found and Lost

Yesterday, Karen found her missing bridge. Just a scant four thousand dollars too late to matter. This morning, I noticed (and this might explain why I was dropped from our Fireweed 200 team) that try as I might, I couldn't find my ribs.

Friday, May 15, 2009

He's Not Heavy, He's My Alter Ego

I'm reading a book, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. It's about an overweight nerd. The author drops a lot of references to overweight nerd literature, and I'm horrified to realize how many of them I recognize.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Schrödinger's Vet Bills

Last night, I was trying to explain the Schrödinger's Cat thought experiment to Leah. I got confused and started sputtering a little, especially when I got to the Many Worlds interpretation. All I know is, Schrödinger seems like a really irresponsible pet owner.

Today, Ellie had to go to the vet. She was dehydrated, like some anorexic rock star. She had to have an IV drip approximately $476.00 into her leg. Two weeks ago, Bernie had to have two IV's; they shaved his front legs like a poodle. Yesterday he had his stitches removed, and along with them, any chance of my retiring. I am heavily insured, so I'm starting to feel like Moses. I'll get a glimpse of the promised land, but only the next generation will get to go into my inheritance.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Do They Call It BlueTooth Because It Makes You Sad?

I got a call from a kind of new age vampire. They didn't kill me, they just sucked all of the serotonin out of my blood.
Anyway, whatever, this morning I'm thinking about those twits on Fox again. From the short, almost unintelligible, inhuman squeals, of the sound bites I hear, they're blaming unions for the state of the economy. Yes, that's right, union members with their CDO's and CDS's and multimillion dollar paychecks.

"Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness." When McCarthy tried to continue his attack, Welch angrily interrupted, "Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?"

Monday, May 11, 2009

So, Were You Wearing a Helmet?

When people ask me if I was wearing a helmet when I was hit by a car a couple of weeks ago, I've been saying, "Duh".
Today I realized that would probably be my answer either way.
I went out this evening to put my new tires and tubes on my bike. Tomorrow I think I'll walk to work. That'll be easier than carrying the bike the work.

Friday, May 08, 2009

I ran into a former customer of mine recently. She was walking through the neighborhood with a hand held computer with GPS. The Census Bureau had hired her to work in a program to locate every address in America. The job ended earlier than expected because the computer was so much faster than the human workers they hired ten years ago for the last census. I suppose as humans become increasingly irrelevant to the economy, they will eventually just send out robots to count lap tops. Here's what I mean.
Here are a couple of other videos that you are supposed to have seen already "Unless You're a Loser or Old or Something".
Ok, Here it Goes and
Chad Vader

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

This Happened to Me, It Really Did

I was at Costco this afternoon. The young lady that was bagging up my groceries was talking to the cashier about training as a pugilist. She said that hitting the heavy bag was good practice, but her trainer told her that it was important to spar with people, too, so she'd know what it felt like to hit a human body.
Just then, she looked up at me and said, "Do you wanna box?"

I'm Back. Did You Miss Me?

I went to Seattle last Friday for a wake for my brother in law on Saturday. We laughed, we cried,we ate too much. I stayed on for a few extra days. I had a good time. I know I did because on the airplane ride home this morning, the button popped off my pants. Apparently, the cabin wasn't the only thing being pressurized.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Who You Going To Brag To About That

It's been sunny here, which means warm afternoons. Nights are cold, though. This morning I left early, thinking I could have a little ride before work. I had insufficiently bundled up and I ended up just riding straight to the post office. I went in the break room to hang out until we could start working, and the talk turned to what a colossal jerk Sean Hannity is. You know that guy on Fox News on the Sean Hannity show, nee Hannity and Colmes. Colmes apparently got tired of being cast as the Washington Generals.
Somebody said that Keith Olderman, of MSNBC had challenged Hannity about waterboarding to stop just talking, and walk the walk, or the plank, or something. I said that Keith Olderman was a jerk, too. The other guy said, "No, he's smart, you couldn't win an argument with him."
I said, "Big deal, I can't win an argument with my wife, either." For that matter, even the dogs are sort of intransigent about some things. Actually, the dog deserves a post of his own. We're about $2000 into dog health care since Monday. I don't want to get all into it, but for the health of your pancreas, the vet recommends changing your diet if you eat a lot of red meat and the neighbor's decomposing garbage.
Anyway, by the time I started delivering mail today, it had warmed up so I was wearing my uniform shorts. Now, for the purposes of this post, you'll have to imagine someone said, "Nice legs!" I turned my ankle daintily and looked down at them, "Oh, these old things?"
It was a beautiful day for a ride after work, but I didn't really have time for that. Especially after wasting so much time sitting on the curb shaking.