Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It's Been Grueling

Trying to eat everything I can think of that I don't eat on my plan. And now, grueling in the sense of only eating thin brothy comestibles  in order to fit into my work clothes next week. 
Still, a moment of transcendent contentment, far exceeding normal work-a-day contentment just occurred. I've always wondered what the Hocking, in the name Anchor Hocking means. I assumed it was a synonym for glassware, but no dictionary would ever confirm that hunch. In the trance that came over me during the second hour of shopping in the same store tonight (and don't tell me we don't know how to ring out the old year) I suddenly thought of Wikipedia. And there it was, the Anchor company merged with the Hocking company, that was named after the Hocking River. Up till now, I've never wondered what the Hocking River was named after and I don't plan on starting now. But, if, against all hope and reason, I do, I'll just go back to Wikipedia and look it up. So, 2013 ends on a high note. Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2014. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Baby It's Cold Outside Is A Pretty Rape-y Song, But Today, It's The Weather Forecast

One of the disadvantages of living so far west, is that by the time we get a date like November 2nd or December 25th, the rest of the world has already had their way with it. Right now it's Christmas here, but in Russia, they're already well into their Boxing Day celebration. Normally, this isn't such a big deal, but this year, they've really let it cool off before we got it. It was -12℉ when I got up and now, at the sun's zenith, it's still only about zero, which is nothing when you think about it.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Like A Rhinestone Cowboy

The other day at Costco, I was struggling to remember a word.  It was particularly frustrating, because I wasn't trying to remember some word you hardly ever use like, "What's that thing called where a full moon is reflected off someone's eye?" No, the word was batch. As in,  how many batches of noodle kugel are we going to make?
Of course, it made me think of that country singer that's been doing a final tour with his family before he succumbs to Alzheimer's. And for just a minute Glenn Campbell and I had something in common; neither one of us could remember his name.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Think About The Children

Since we've lost the TV remote (into Karen's hands) we are stuck watching a lot of Hallmark Christmas movies. It seems like for an immortal, omniscient being, Santa sure finds himself in a lot of hospital emergency rooms, often suffering from amnesia. I wonder if this will make children question their faith in the true meaning of Christmas. Or maybe, since the true meaning of Hallmark Christmas is gift giving (and high powered lady executives losing their jobs and then getting them back but realizing they no longer want them) maybe it will teach children they can't rely on an old man with a sleigh, and they better get themselves to WalMart.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I Don't Have To Think Of A Title For This Post. That's Not How We Roll

On our last day in Boston, I was in a fender bender. I was very apologetic to the other driver, but after brooding about it for awhile, and using my super rationalization power, I figured out how it was probably the other driver's fault. It was her fault, or maybe her fault, but my power is so amazing that I could probably have spun it in my own mind so that it would have been her fault even if I'd merged  into her breakfast table. "Why would you make waffles if you didn't want company?" The worst part of the accident was that they always say that the drive to the airport is the most dangerous part of the trip, and now my life has become even more cliche.
Among the coolest presents I got at the Hotel Holiday were, a taillight for my bike and a SlapLit LED bracelet.  The bracelet (or anklet, as I wear it on my bike) is eerily soothing. It has the deep red hue that hitherto could only be achieved in a dark cocktail lounge by a red neon sign barely illuminating a brooding booth.  The taillight flashes red like they all do, but it also emits two laser beams. I was a little concerned about that when I saw it at the Holiday because I didn't want to blind anyone, or at least, I didn't want to blind anyone driving a car right behind me. The lasers are projected straight down, though, so they create two lines for me to cycle between. They probably symbolize the breakdown in society that has led to Twitter and the Tea Party, but now, anywhere I ride is, de facto, between the lines. E Pluribus Unum becomes  "One For All, And All For Anomie."
And now, to wrap up with something totally off topic, the New York Times reports that Google is working to create a robotic package delivery system. And not the way I do it, but with real robots. They claim that they want robots to do the dull repetitive tasks, which is fine, but I'm going to miss the dull repetitive paychecks.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

I Wrote This On The Airplane, Which Shows A Lot Of Faith In The Bernoulli Principle

We're back from Boston with a quick recap. The flights were fine, except, they all had a crying baby and the person sitting in my seat was very gassy.
Possibly related: We ate a lot of waffles washed down with oatmeal and brown sugar for health reasons and a lot of pizza and Chinese food because it tasted good. Oh, and pancakes.
We had a little family drama but because most of us are passive aggressive not everyone was aware of the drama at the time it was happening, just like you might miss nuances in a television show by binge watching a whole season of Modern Family at once, which we also did.
At our Thanksgivikah party there were a few people that weren't all that skilled socially and I spent my time charming them. It was a little disturbing later to hear someone say, "It was good that we kept the awkward people together in one room.
Now we are truly home, and tomorrow, through the genius technology of pants with expandable waistlines, back to work.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

If we learned anything from Alanis Morissette, it's that we don't know what irony is. No one does. Except for freshman coeds , although I'm not sure coed is even a noun anymore.
If irony only meant an unexpected outcome, then nowadays irony would be almost impossible, since no outcome, even the most horrific, can be totally unexpected.  Graffiti in Damascus? Syrian civil war and the return of polio. And, like a million other examples I haven't thought of. I know a week ago when I first started this post, I was upset about something, but I'm like Homer Simpson, "Look, a bird." I've spent approximately 2 hours trying to upload a video of eagles I took a few days ago to illustrate how distracting they are, but while it looks amazing in the original, online it looks so pixelated it could be an eagle inspired game of Tetris. If you want to see the original, let me know, and maybe the whole internet can gather around my phone. 
Since then, I've left town and right now I'm in New Hampshire. It snowed lightly yesterday here which was preceded by a heavy fall of salt leaving the roads passable, but the windshields opaque. There is enough salt that virtually every car is a mobile margarita glass. White Mountains, indeed. More time has gone by and now we're back in Boston about to join our family for Thanksgiving dinner, coincidentally almost exactly 150 years after the speech containing the immortal words, "Now we are engaged in a great civil war. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Okay, I'm Back

The snow was wet and heavy, and now, so am I. Doctors call this "heart attack" snow because middle aged men go out and overexert themselves. I feel pretty safe, because I'm no longer middle aged. From the This American Life show in the last post, another conversational no-no was talking about your period, but I don't know why you wouldn't want to know I'm from the Cretaceous. By the way, just checking with Wikipedia to make sure there actually was a Cretaceous, I discovered that there was a creature called a rudist. You can see how I fit in.

How Did That Make Me Feel? Don't Ask.

I've only listened to part of  This American Life this week. The first guest laid out rules for conversation. Number one is, "Don't be boring." I'd tell you that that paralyzed me, but rule two was, "Don't talk about your health."
We've had our first real snowfall this winter just now. I'm pretty sure weather talk is verboten, as is, no doubt, needless foreign phrases, but this is climate talk. Like, the climate is going to be pretty frosty if I don't stop blogging and go out and shovel the snow.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Squeaking Wheel Gets Greased

This blog seems to have degenerated into a series of rambling complaints, but that's not precisely accurate. It was always a series of rambling complaints. So, for all of you that have had to bear up under the whole podcast cascade here's a case where I complained to someone that could actually understand the problem and then resolve it. Not to say that somebody that reads this blog couldn't have done that. I'm just saying that nobody did. You can judge for yourselves what that says about you. As I am.
Anyway, they used my question about Apple's Podcast app at Macworld's Ask The iTunes Guy. You can read about it here, (it's the last item, the place of honor, I assume) or you can do what I did weeks ago and switch to a different app.

You may remember the furnace complaints that I was rambling through before the podcast series, but here's a quick refresher; the furnace has been muttering resentfully to itself in the basement, and I've been muttering resentfully about it here. The furnace's muttering was diagnosed by the plumber that installed it two years ago as a just-out-of-warranty pump failure.  While I've been complaining about that, Leah has been complaining that one whole end of the house is cold. I don't remember why I was standing in front of the furnace last night, or why I was gripping its pipes, but I was and I realized that one pipe was colder than all the rest. I opened the valve as an experiment and waited to see where the water would gush out, but all that happened was that the whole house got warm, and the muttering stopped. Apparently, anyone with a little nerve can be a plumber.

Friday, November 01, 2013

A Gentleman Loser Looks At Sixty

For Halloween, Karen went as a person who tripped in the kitchen and hit her head in the exact same spot (on her head) she always does. Before the  EMT's came, it was awkward because I had to keep running to the door, smiling and saying, "Help yourself to one or two pieces of candy," then running back to the kitchen to look at Karen. Between her bruising, and the kid's costumes, it was hard to know who was scarier.  We saved $586 (or more accurately, Blue Cross did) because I drove her to the  ER where they said she didn't look concussed and sent us home. They told me to bring her back if she seemed confused, but then they had Fox News playing in the waiting room, so it seemed like they were trying to confuse her. This morning after an intensive treatment with the Today Show she seems fine.
While we were at the hospital, the nurse talked to us about three-wheeled walkers that might be able to fit in our narrow kitchen. I talked to the nurse about my iPhone and its features. It was a good exchange of information and I think I was really able to make a difference in her life.

Here's one of those odd situations where the name, is exactly the opposite of what it seems to describe like Fox News or idiot savant. Yesterday, I bought an album that I first bought in 1972,  Can't Buy A Thrill, and yet, every track thrilled me. Then, and now. I remember what it was to be young, and optimistic, to think that it would always be summer, I'd always have friends, that life could turn out any way I wanted. Even then, Steely Dan sang, "Only a fool would say that." Now I've become the, "man in the street
Draggin' his feet...
do(ing) his nine to five
Drag(ging) myself home half alive."
But listening to them "reeling in the years, gathering up the tears,"
"It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning—"
And then one fine day, for only $8.99 we can have it all back again, at least for 41 minutes.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

But Still No Flying Cars

So, Apple changed their podcast handling, and I adjusted with an app that works but not as well as what I had. Google closed Reader, and I switched to Feedly; good, but not as good. Now, iGoogle, is closing and I'll try to cobble something together to replace it.
When I was a kid, I read Enchanted Village by A. E. Van Vogt. In it, a stranded astronaut is trapped in an abandoned alien village that is trying to adjust itself to feed and shelter him. In the end, spoiler alert, he thinks it has adjusted to him, but in reality, he has adjusted to it, he's become an alien. I read that before I knew what metaphor meant, or that we would all be living in an alien village with big snouts and long tails of discarded apps and flip phones.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Reunited And It Feels So Good

I had a friend who always used to have recommitment  ceremonies to renew his vows and declare his love just before, it seemed, the inevitable divorces. I know I've been a little harsh lately about my phone, but talking about my bike trip made me realize the good times that my iPhone and I have had together, so yesterday I bought a new iPhone 5S and I've renewed my promise to stay true to it. And unlike marriage contracts and hearts, which apparently are broken all the time, AT&T has made it clear that until October of 2015, at least, I will be fully invested in this relationship, forsaking all others and plighting the very bejeezus of my troth.

The Things I Do For You

This post is just the stuff you missed on my Twitter feed this week. I hated to post the last one, because I was at 253 tweets, and 253 is basically my favorite number. Now I'm at 254, which is just a useless integer.

Monday, October 14, 2013

"That was I. That was me. That was the author of this book."

It wasn't me at all that said that, it was Kurt Vonnegut.
But, I did say this. To be fair, I've said it a lot, but this was the first time on NPR.

Friday, October 11, 2013

How Many Mice Must Die Before The Madness Ends?

I downloaded icatcher, and now my podcast woes are behind me. Mostly. People are giving it 5 star reviews, probably because it's at least five times better than Apple's podcast app. That would still give it 0 stars based on the multiplying by 0 property, except 1 star is the minimum allowed. So far, it's not as intuitive as the way I was doing it (which involved me listening to podcasts by saying, "Siri, play A Podcast Playlist") but better than the app Apple foisted on me that thwarted me at every turn:
Me: play a podcast playlist
Siri: no
And, I just downloaded an app called Overdrive that allows me to borrow e-books from the public library for free. So, life is good. Mostly:
They're still talking about killing mice because the researchers have been furloughed, while the Congresspeople that furloughed them get to keep not only their lives, but their jobs.

I Am NOT Comparing Myself To The Good Brother

I'm off this weekend, but I volunteered to work. Because of contractual rules, I can't run my own route, but people who didn't volunteer may run their own routes. I know some people in my situation would be resentful, like the prodigal son's brother, but I sort of identify more with the fatted calf. I'm often fatted,  plus, he did nothing wrong, and got slaughtered.
Our dog just got home from the vet. She's being tested for Addison's disease. I told her, "Don't worry, John Kennedy had Addison's and he became president." That might be a lot for a Shih-Tzu to aspire to (because even though we know she was born in Iowa some might use her breed to raise questions about her nationality), but I just know she could be in Congress.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

But I Don't Care, I'll Just Dream And Stay Tan

Now that it's over, I've started watching Breaking Bad. It was so horrifying that after watching one episode, I woke up from a nightmare and had to watch a half hour of cat videos before I could go back to sleep.
When I woke up the next time, John Boehner still wouldn't let the House vote on ending the shutdown. 

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Here's Your Sign

In case there was some confusion in the last post about who was the metaphorical robber and the metaphorical innocent victim, I think this post from the Atlantic will make it more clear:
Just 40 GOP hardliners (10% of the House) are holding government hostage. 
In related news, here's a list of ten signs that you are raising a spoiled brat. An eleventh might be that he is holding the government hostage.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

We're Going To Rock Onto Electric Avenue And Talk About Tax Policy

People asked me today, why I was working when the government was shut down. This highlights the fact that the government doesn't fund us, if anything, we fund the government via their confiscatory pre-funding requirements. In fact, we would have shown a profit in the last quarter if we weren't funding health care for people that haven't even been born yet, and who, even if they were born, probably wouldn't work for the post office because it won't be there because we funded their health care for their old age before they were born.
Anyway, that wasn't exactly what I wanted to talk about. If the electricity goes out, the meter stops spinning and we don't have to pay for something we didn't get. Now that the Republicans have shut down the government, do we still have to pay taxes?
Someone told me today that, "It takes two to tango," so Republicans and Democrats were equally at fault. I said, "That's false equivalence. In a bank robbery, there's a robber and a teller. Are they equally at fault? I'll help you out here; the answer is no."

Is This True?

Lately, I've been able to use my phone to deposit checks without having to go to the bank. The banks are using the same customer service paradigm that we use at the post office, "Go away, don't bother us." Of course, that means we need fewer clerks and tellers, so as our phones replace our jobs, it's not clear who's going to have checks that need to be deposited.
In a nice retro touch, however, Apple has found a way for me, at least, to fill my time. I'm trying to change my podcasts manually into another file type and then copy them to my phone in the correct order so that I can hear the news. This was something my phone and computer used to do for me, so I guess as they replace us, we can start doing the rote mechanical work they don't enjoy. That's fine for podcasts, but some people are really going to resent having to build catapults to fling real angry birds.
In the meantime, while I've been unable to hear my podcasts, I did hear a rumor that the Republicans, our modern Philistines, have insourced one of their jobs and pulled their temple down on themselves.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Plenty Of Fury, Not Much Sound

Even though trying to use Apple's Podcasts app to listen to, say, Planet Money, is as effective as trying to discern the Prime Rate in the feces spread on a maniac's wall, at least Apple isn't trying to kill me.
In Fairbanks, however, it's a different story. When the airport up there complained, Apple fixed directions in their Maps app that were directing people onto the runway. And then broke them again.
Sarah told me once that using Apple's devices was like being kept inside a wall, but the wall was around Disneyland. It's starting to look like the patients are taking over the theme park.

The Story Goes That Picasso Had Trouble Learning Arithmetic Because Sevens Looked Like Noses. To Me They Look Like Shovels

By the way, I don't want you to think I didn't perform due diligence before upgrading to iOS 7. I asked around, and the Podcasts app wasn't installed on phones that had already up(?)graded. What I hadn't realized was the clever cruelty of Apple; before you can't listen to your podcasts, you must download their app. That is, before your podcast listening life is over, you have to dig its grave.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Me and Dennis Wilson

Maybe it's better in Stockholm,  because even though the Republicans are holding us all hostage, I despise them a little more each day. 
So I was irritable when I got home after listening to my news podcasts all day. But that's probably not going to be a problem going forward, because tonight I dived right in and updated my phone to iOS 7. Now, in order to listen to podcasts you have to install Apple's execrable Podcasts app which apparently works pretty well except for not updating or playing podcasts. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Times Change.

So, in that last post, I compared Congress (or the Republicans in Congress, at least) to Al Qaeda. In the olden days, we would certainly have compared them to Hitler, but 670 World War II veterans die every day and their average age is 92. Just trying to keep it real.

Responding To The Call

Ayman al-Zawahri, leader of Al Qaeda since Osama Bin Laden died, has called for attacks on America to sabotage its economy. Kudos to Homeland Security, Al Qaeda has been unable to mount another huge attack here,  and has been reduced to horrifying, but economically meaningless killings of individuals, but...
inspired by President Obama's remark that we don't do pinprick strikes, the Republicans in Congress  have passed a budget that defunds "Obamacare, a budget  that has no chance of clearing the Senate, or surviving a veto. Thus, next month the government may very well shut down with whatever economic consequences that might have. It makes you wonder, whose side are they on?

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Asking For Advice

I just replaced the kitchen faucet. I don't see any leaks. Should I call the plumber now, or go shopping first to allow time for the basement to flood?
Also, a postal manager died. Would it be tasteless to tell you that we didn't get along and I'm sorry she died before I had a chance to let her apologize?

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Let's All Meet At The Leaky Cauldron

I'm reading The Cukoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith who is secretly J.K. Rowling. It's pretty good so far, but it makes me giggle a little to think that Harry Potter might be having a pint at the same pub as the detective, and the detective would never know that Harry wasn't just another muggle.
What irritates me a little is that in yesterday's post, I used the phrase "refeeding syndrome" twice, and didn't use the more accurate phrase, "refeeding frenzy," at all.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

I Am Not Comparing Myself To A Holocaust Survivor

In fact, I am explicitly comparing myself to participants in the Minnesota Starvation Experiment. I read about them in my grade school SRA reading lab which really deserves a post of its own. Suffice it to say, that I was reading way ahead of grade level in the color coded booklets and that even now, fifty years later, a certain shade of indigo takes me right back to Airport Heights Elementary School. Anyway, the subjects of the experiment agreed to be starved during World War II in order that doctors could understand how to avoid refeeding syndrome, a potentially fatal consequence of unrestrained eating by victims of famine, harsh prison conditions, or in my case months of adherence to my diet plan.
Last Thursday, I weighed less than I had in years. Friday morning, joined by our daughter Sarah, who had flown in unexpectedly ( I didn't expect it; she knew she was coming to surprise me during my belated birthday celebration) we went to Kava for breakfast. I haven't stopped refeeding since then. I have experienced pain, nausea, shame and distention. But, also breakfast fried rice, ice cream, nachos, barley ice cream, pizza, ice cream drumsticks, corn chips, gumbo and a fried peanut butter sandwich. On balance, I guess, a pretty fair trade. Tomorrow, back to work, back on the diet plan, back to my metaphorical Minnesota.

By the way, here's a draft I never got around to posting because I didn't think it was very good, but if we're going to start using that as a standard, or anything else for that matter, I probably wouldn't post anything:
 According to a report on the New York Times Science Podcast, there are only four groups of animals that have large brains and complicated social lives: elephants, great apes, cetaceans, and people. You'd think we'd have most in common with the great apes, but no, in late August it's whales and people that return to their feeding grounds in Alaska to recharge their blubber.  I'm anticipating my autumnal augmentation to prepare for winter, nature's own metaphor for death.
I'm not saying that I'm in great shape now, but I have felt comfortable wearing horizontal stripes.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Thinking About The Past Again: That's Sick

According to something I heard somewhere, the word, "nostalgia," originally referred to an actual sickness. Now we know better;  obsessing about the past can be good for you. Which is great, since the news this week has contained a lot of references to the March on Washington, fifty years ago today. Watching the coverage reminded me that the sixties were a golden age of pictures of cute children dressed in their best to attend their father's funerals.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

From Blue Ice To Just Being Cool

So, it is Sunday and I'm reading the paper. I just turned the page and there's an article about a bike trip and a picture of the exact causeway that Rich and I rode across. How cool are we?  
Above, is a text I sent out to various people. Only one responded: Rich. But he agreed, "We're the coolest."

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Trail Of Blue Ice In Blue

Here's the track of a ride we took yesterday.  You can see Portage Glacier hiding around the corner from the visitor center that was built to view it. We rode the Trail of Blue Ice, which went by several glaciers. I assume the ice is blue because it's melting so fast.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Biting The Hand: Congress Continues To Get Free Postage

I mentioned once before in regard to the Postal Service that, "even galley slaves don't want the ship to sink." I realized recently that especially galley slaves don't want the ship to sink because they're inside the ship. It's only the people outside the ship that would try to sink it. In this metaphor,  that role is played by the Congress that makes the Postal Service pre-fund retiree health benefits for seventy five years into the future.
Here's an update:
Unfortunately, the congressional pre-funding mandate continues to be a burden. This quarter, pre-funding accounted for more than 100 percent of losses. Continuing this policy just doesn’t add up. No other company or organization in the country has to deal with this issue.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Public Service Announcement

I've been listening to Welcome to Night Vale. I'm often just about done because it sort of seems like a one conceit show. But then, something amazing comes on, and I'm rehooked. Twenty four minutes or so into Episode 21,  Memories of Europe, Cecil starts to talk about "the truth of nostalgia... We don't feel it for who we were, but for who we weren't. We feel it for all the possibilities that were open to us, but that we didn't take." Then he expands into a metaphor about time that is exquisite. I'm not telling you that you should necessarily listen to Welcome to Night Vale, but it's certainly a possibility that is open to you.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

It's Hard To Believe I Thought That Was a Good Look For Me

Honestly, my iPhone knows where I am at all times, it knows all of my internet activity, it keeps track of my appointments and reminds me when I have to be somewhere. So, why, when I put the music on "Shuffle," can't it remember that it just played that song yesterday?
And here's an awkward segue (still, not as awkward as when I actually rode a Segway). I'm listening to an iTunes U class from the University of Missouri. It's a history of the US from right after Reconstruction into the Twentieth Century. Almost every issue we face now, was faced then: Income inequality, immigration, monopolies, union-busting, racism, environmental degradation, corrupt government officials, insider trading, out of control banks ravaging the economy; there is nothing new under the sun. Except that the sun does seem much hotter now, as we change the climate. We've spent the last few decades dismantling the reforms inspired by the Gilded Age. Maybe it's time for us to be smarter than our smart phones and  not keep playing that same old song. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Flame On

After desultorily shopping around, we stumbled onto a new gas cooktop for a very good price. We didn't have gas in our kitchen so we had to hire a plumber to bring the gas to the cabinet.  Because I wasn't sure about the wiring, I hired an installer to put the cooktop in, but the wiring in our house* is so ancient that we ended up hiring an electrician after all. Put all together, and brought to a boil, it would have been cheaper to just order in for the next few years.

*not our house

Monday, July 29, 2013

Sadder, But Wiser, The Voice Of Experience

Not the pain of this but its unfairness was what dazed Peter. It made him quite helpless. He could only stare, horrified. Every child is affected thus the first time he is treated unfairly. All he thinks he has a right to when he comes to you to be yours is fairness. After you have been unfair to him he will love you again, but he will never afterwards be quite the same boy. No one ever gets over the first unfairness; no one except Peter.” ~From Peter Pan by James Barrie
In case you've forgotten, extended warranties don't cover what you think they do, and if they do cover something, there is a deductible that subverts the whole point of a warranty.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

On The Level

If I were a cock-eyed optimist, the grab bar from the last post would look great. In fact, even if I was a cock-eyed pessimist, it would look okay. It's only if your eyes are at the same height that it looks so bad. I feel like Homer Simpson, "Why? Why must life be so hard? Why must I fail at every attempt at masonry?" without the masonry.

I'm The Only One That Will Even Notice. Except I'm So Tired Of Living In A House Where I Constantly Have To Avert My Eyes From My Own Handiwork

Five years ago, I wrote a post about a lovely bike ride, and how it could make someone sad to see so much beauty. I thought, eventually, that that was a form of nostalgia in prospect. Tonight, I feel really bad, but it's more a sense of regret in prospect. I'm hanging a grab bar, and the only thing that I've accomplished totally so far, is to drop the bit, and have it completely disappear. On the floor. Right in front of me. I have a good idea how this is going to look when I actually start drilling. And it's not pretty.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Boy, Was My Face Red? No, But My Hands Are A Shade Of Metallic Gold

So, after typing a post implying that our Governor is a tool, I went out to the garage to paint some wood trim pieces we bought. The paint spreading implement (not a sign of Alzheimer's this time, I just don't want to dignify it by calling it a sponge) that I bought at True Value for ten cents didn't really spread the paint so much as heap it up. It looks really bad. But does that make me a poor workman?  Maybe poor workmen blame their tools because they are poor. Maybe if I could have afforded their fancy pants $1 brushes it would have looked better.

The Governor's Picnic Is Today

I bet that somewhere a poor workman is blaming him right now. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Not Today, Goldilocks

We haven't gone on any long bike rides this summer. The reasons seem to fall into three categories: It's too hot, it's too cold, or it's too perfect. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cranky And Bored

Objectively, of course, I've got nothing to be cranky about. A quick scan of the headlines shows millions of people that would gladly trade places with me. The existence of that much suffering, so much of it needless, just makes me crankier.
For example, the House Republicans have once again passed a bill to eliminate the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act. The individual mandate that was originally designed by the Heritage Institute to eliminate free riders on the health care system and that Republicans themselves originally proposed to eliminate the "Socialism" of treating everyone for free in emergency rooms.
The Atlantic talks about how much more effective government spending could be if they did cost benefit analyses, as if the lobbyists that control our Congress would ever allow that. The Atlantic also reports that fertility studies are generally flawed, and that women up to the age of forty have a much better chance of getting pregnant than was previously thought, but never explain why a woman of forty would want to have children at that age.
Synthetic rage is all over the zeitgeist about Rolling Stone's picture of the Boston Bomber and whatever Paula Deen said. In Florida, white people can stand their ground after chasing down a black man, but if the black man stands his ground, he contributes to his own death. Jenny McCarthy, who has probably killed way, way, more people than Zimmerman gets a stint on the View. The pumps on my 20 month old furnace are failing, but are out of warranty, and the plumber has managed to slow the drip from the water heater, "way down," and I forget what else, just as memory loss is the latest predictor of Alzheimer's.
So, cranky yet, or just bored?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Fulfilling A Promise

When I got the news that Jennifer Graham had been tapped to write the novel adapting the new Veronica Mars movie, it was in my kitchen, from Jennifer Graham! I have told her for years that I would tell people, "I knew Jennifer Graham before she was famous," and now, here I am.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Resistance Is Futile, But So Is Everything Else.

I was telling people the other day that  it had been 40 years since I first went to work for the Postal Service on July 10, 1974. I was leaving out the three years I was gone back in the 70's when I still thought I had a future, and doing the math wrong, but still. When I realized it was only 39 years, I was all, "Oh, 39 years, maybe I haven't wasted my entire life here, after all." Or yet, more likely.
If you just met me, you'd find it to hard to believe that I was a fat, uncoordinated child. "Someone as old and bald as that was never a child," you'd say. But I was, and it was a challenge for my mom to come up with something to say that would be flattering. "You have such nice hands," she settled on. I ran into some of my customers the other day at Costco. I was doing a riff on how long I'd worked at the post office and what a failure I was, blah, blah, blah. They said, "But you're personable," which I took to mean that even my hands aren't all that anymore.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Definitely Off

When I was spraying mosquito repellant yesterday, I wondered what happens to a mosquito that gets covered in it. Do they suddenly repel themselves? Do they fill with self-loathing and start to regret every single decision they ever made from dropping out of college to wearing those ridiculous love beads in the 60's? I wonder that, but hey, that's just me.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

In This Post, I Don't Let The Perfect Be The Enemy Of The Good. In Fact, I Also Keep The Peace Between The Good And The Not So Much.

I've taken so long on this post that, paraphrasing Karen Russell, it's embarrassing that it doesn't cure cancer. At least when she was done, she had a best-selling novel. I don't even have my best post. Anyway, here's what we've got so far:
I'm a nice guy, and the fact that I have to keep telling you that makes me just want to slap you. But, I don't. However, the woman whose mail I forgot, has put her mail on hold again. I have to admit; I'm judging her a little. I only mention that so that I can smoothly segue into judges, as in our Supreme Court's recent gutting of the Voting Rights Act. This law was reauthorized just a few years ago almost unanimously by a Congress that couldn't even agree on the spelling of unanimous (to be fair, spellcheck and I initially disagreed) better yet vote that way. But they did, and President Bush signed it. We live in a state that is covered by the Act, and violations used to occur as recently as right this very minute. So, nine unelected people that serve for life, Supreme Court, or garden variety junta?

The NSA revelations came out and people are "shocked, shocked, I tell you," by them. I wasn't, because I read the (unclassified) cover story in Wired back in March of 2012.  I haven't even read the cover story of the latest issue yet, but I can tell you right now that we're going to be shocked in about six months when it turns out that while we've been complaining about the Chinese, we've been waging cyber-war. Remember you heard it here first.

That's all irritating enough, as is the fact that the hottest, driest June ever, ended  with me buying two sprinklers and watering for hours, only to have July open with rain.

Death or dishonor is a question that circumstances might pose, but let's do both isn't always the first answer. But June also ended with an episode of This American Life, that is just infuriating. According to the List Project, Iraqis that worked for the Americans during our invasion and occupation were supposed to be allowed to leave when we did. Instead, they are trapped in a State Department recursive customer service spiral, and in a literal Iraqi death spiral.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Me And Mr. Zip: It's A Scream

A few weeks ago, I forgot to take a customer's mail out to them when they came back from vacation. The supervisor said that they'd come in for it, and I should try and remember to check my holds every day. I was embarrassed, because I have a system for remembering that, and I was surprised I'd missed it. And also embarrassed because, I'm a mailman. They didn't ask me to remove their mail from their gall bladder, or write a brief. It was a simple thing; it was de minimis I could do (or not, depending on what de minimis might actually mean).
Today,  when I saw outgoing mail at a house, I thought, "Oh, they came back early." I looked at my notes, and realized, "Oh no, they were supposed to get their mail yesterday."
I have always complained that the post office treats their employees like we're too dumb to dress ourselves. This job is going to be so much harder now that I'll have to keep checking to see if my pants are zipped.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mismanagement And Grief: We Must Suffer Them All Again. -W.H. Auden

Life is like a badly designed video game. It needs an "Undo" button, but instead you get trapped on the same level forever. A level that, in my case, includes a still dripping water heater and arguing with my credit union about fraudulent charges on my card. They did credit my account last month, but the merchant claims it was a real charge, and so here we go again. The letter from the credit union included the documentation the eBay seller included to support their claim of authenticity. Apparently they think
I'm a Chinese man living in Milwaukee buying an iPad mini using an eBay ID that I don't have access to. I'm arguing that I'm not any of those things, but I guess that's just what I would say.

No wonder the zombie movie has made a come back; like rough beasts, so we shamble on against the current, lost in a haunted wood, warming the frozen swamp as best we can with the slow smokeless burning of decay.

Sources misused, then mangled, in the production of this post, available upon request.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Very Funny

My dad was so cool. He had the first convertible Mustang in Alaska, and that wasn't his first or his last convertible. He got us a Wurlitzer juke box, and towed my sister and me, and all our friends on water skis, at his cabin on Big Lake, the cool people's lake. He knew what a GTO was, and how to build a dock or a rocking chair and how to measure a hypotenuse with a stick instead of a theorem, but he knew the theorem, too.
So, I always assumed I was the cool dad, too. Even though, except for a bitter, hurtful sense of humor, we had almost nothing in common. And I still thought I was the cool dad, whatever that might mean now that my children are both in their fourth decade. But last night, I recorded a show on TNT, so I could watch the show I recorded on TBS. How cool is that?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Shameless Update

Lately, the weather report has included the phrase, "hottest temperature ever," so often that it's starting to sound like a broken record.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Sun Also Rises, Hemmingway Said, But This Time Of Year, It Never SETS!

We had the longest winter on record followed now by the hottest summer on record. We don't live in Alaska because we like the heat, on the contrary, we live here because the cold is what we like to complain about. How hot is it? It's so hot there's a doorman at the Costco cooler. 
By the way, I don't have really strong feelings about gun control since there are already more guns than people here, but as a bicyclist, I can tell you, Americans cannot be trusted with glass bottles. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Apocalypse; Just Another Buddy Movie

I listened to an interview today with Annalee Newitz about her new book, Scatter, Adapt and Remember.  She said that in our planet's history, there have been six mass extinctions. Most appear to have been triggered by climate change, and that we may be in the beginnings of one right now. No need to be alarmed, these things only seem sudden on geologic time scales.  Even the mass extinction caused by an asteroid impact sixty five million years ago played out over the next few hundred thousand years or so. So, you can probably keep driving your SUV for now, especially if you're an unfeeling jerk.
Anyway, these things have winners and losers. It wasn't a great time to be a dinosaur, but cheeky little mammals did okay. She says that we are positioned to survive because, "we're really good at adapting to live anywhere, and we're really good at eating a wide variety of foods."Who else does that describe?Our constant companion, side by side, the cockroach.
Through all kinds of weather 
What if the sky should fall? 
Just so long as we're together
It doesn't matter at all

In other news, I'm toying with going for a rando this weekend. By this point in training for such a thing, it's time to start tapering. Sadly, though, the only way I could put less effort into training would involve self-gavage.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

People Are Buzzing

Since my last post, I took the CPAP machine back. I had to sign a form that said I was acting against medical advice. A little annoying that giving back a machine that kept me awake requires signing an AMA form, but I could walk across the street to Burger King and order a side order of lard, no questions asked. Except for maybe, "Up-size that for you?

Here's a tip after watching an argument at work: poking a piñata with a stick is fun, doing the same thing to a hornets' nest isn't.

Also today, on the news, I heard a woman from Alabama say, "I’m not begging my lords for mercy. I’m a born free American woman." This was in response to a delay in processing her application for tax exempt status for her tea party activism. Not that she couldn't say all her tea party stuff, or that she had to pay extra taxes, just whether or not her tea party activities were political, which is not tax exempt or charitable which is. Anyway, her suffering sure puts this guys political stand (24 years ago today) in perspective:
I know, a little too on the nose. Looking at that picture reminds me of the horrors taking place now in Syria. We're going to have to choose if we want to support the Al-Qaeda backed terrorists or the Iranian backed terrorists. Apparently, the idea of not getting involved as people we don't like fight each other isn't an option.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Don't get mad get glad

I'm taking a break from the CPAP machine tonight. I really need to get some sleep and I can achieve similar results in half the time by just putting a plastic bag over my head. Get me a flight of angels, stat. 
Hold up, I just re-read that and it sounded like a suicide note. It was supposed to sound like somebody showing off that they read Hamlet. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

If You've Got Your Health

I've been wearing my CPAP mask for a few days now. It seems pretty large, and regardless of its design, it seems to be waking me up more than the putative apnea it's supposed to be curing. When the technician was fitting me,  based on what she was muttering, she seemed to be thinking about that medieval conundrum about dancing angels.
Since I started this post, I've been back to the CPAP store, and exchanged the mask for a smaller one that feels like it's suffocating me, which I guess is a small price to pay for a good night's sleep. This post was delayed while I looked for a photo of me from a few years ago, to show approximately what the mask looked like if Michael Dukakis was wearing a sleep mask in a Russian Boy Scout/Air Force museum. I couldn't find it, which caused me to delete the whole middle part of the post about what a great job we had done picking up the house.

Oh, here's some good news. I know, that really doesn't fit this blog's format, but here it is. Karen has been telling her doctor for years, that she doesn't like the way the "miracle" drug he's been putting in her pump makes her feel. I've been telling him that she seems to have the 

•problems with memory, speech, walking, or thinking;

• feeling like you might pass out;

• extreme drowsiness or tired feeling, depressed mood;

• feeling paranoid, hostile, disoriented, or confused;

• hallucinations, unusual thoughts or behavior, thoughts of hurting yourself; or

• feeling less alert, decreased consciousness (stupor or lack of response)
side effects. Finally, he took it out and we are back to the pre-Prialt levels of hostility and confusion. A vast improvement. First, do no harm, indeed. Now she just has the underlying excruciating pain to deal with, but that's a small price to pay for clarity of mind.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Winter Olympics

The good news is, the rain stopped this afternoon. That's also the bad news. We are in the process of setting a record for the longest winter, as defined by days between the first measurable snow and the last. The graceful snowflakes look so delicate like little gymnasts gyrating down, but sadly, they are sticking the landing.
We've tried all our affirmations like, "Live in the moment," and  Ram Dass's "Be  Here Now," but so far the response seems to be, "This moment kind of sucks, I want to be where Ram Dass is."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Strange Days

Spring, "for want of a more scathing term," continues. Today we had rain, snow, and hailstones the size of tears. Now the forecast calls for record breaking snow this weekend. To be sure, any snow at this point would be record breaking, but they seem to think there will be more than just any.
In Washington, D.C., the cherry blossoms have come and gone, fertilized, no doubt by Fox News's coverage of Benghazi. A friend told me that so many former Republicans (like me, disgusted by its turn from small government to crony capitalism, corporatocracy, obstructionism and loony conspiracy theories) have left the party that soon all that will be left will be angry old white men. If Fox news advertisers (Aricept, AAGReverse Mortgages.) know the demographic of the people they're advertising to, they're apparently angry about, well they probably can't remember what exactly they're angry about,  but with the money from their reverse mortgages and their Medicare purchased scooters, they could present a formidable, if somewhat risible, march on Washington.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

We Could Have Had It All

 We just watched a show about former developer/Governor/Secretary of the Interior, Wally Hickel. If we'd listened to him, we could have been Norway. With Parnell, we'll be Nigeria, without the scam income.

Even Though These Are Just Tweets, You Can Still Sign The Petition To Save The USPS

Monday, May 06, 2013

It's Not You, It's Me

Just a regular day off, took Karen to get her pump filled but the medicine wasn't there. Now I'll have to take time off from work to do the thing I scheduled six weeks ago for this day because it was a day off. Now we're attempting to get her some X-rays. Meanwhile (literally meanwhile, they answered while we were back in the room) I was on hold with one of her providers for 35 minutes because my insurance EOB said that they needed more information from them, but the provider said that the insurance company never told them that, they told them they were denying the claim. Who to believe? I went back to the insurance company web site, but every time I tried to check Karen's EOB's, I got logged out because they insist on me and my wife having separate web accounts, but clicking on the link automatically input my credentials, even though this morning it didn't.
After that I'm redoing my sleep study, which I apparently failed,  to tell me that I'm tired and cranky from sleep apnea, not because everyone around me is irritating.

Friday, May 03, 2013

To "All Those Wonderful People Out There In The Dark"

Maybe I have adult onset attention deficit disorder, or maybe my junior high school teacher was right when he said, "You're not as funny as you think you are,"  but lately I can't seem to come up with a whole post, which means I'm ready for my Twitter close-up

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Get It While It's Hot

It's finally almost spring up here and the air is a miasma redolent of melting dog poop. As the snow and its winter's accumulation melts, it forms puddles, lakes, cauldrons of postmordial soup. I was pretty proud of postmordial, and was looking forward to tying it together into a whole post. Here's another line of that stillborn post, "How come they say that politicians only tell voters what they want to hear, and yet I never hear anything I like?"
But as I tweeted this morning,

By the way, if you're not one of my twitter followers, and I'm pretty sure you're not,  that's an example of what you're "missing".

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

H.P. Lovecraft Said, "Searchers After Horror Haunt Strange, Far Places." Or They Can Just Go To Wall St.

This morning I listened to an episode of Frontline that was scary enough to have been written by Stephen King. Apparently, 401K's and mutual funds are not designed to save money for retirement, unless you're talking about the retirement accounts of mutual fund managers. Using administrative fees, asset management fees that would make a leech blush (and if a leech blushes, it's your blood rushing to its face) and marketing fees (essentially charging you for the cost of selling their fund to you in the first place) they have designed a system where the investor provides all the money, takes all the risk and gets thirty percent of the gain. What you think is a Real Estate Investment Trust, is an ice floe for you and your family to float on into retirement.
The happy ending to this ghastly story is that there is an alternative, (and here's why I'm mentioning it) that I've been recommending for years, low fee index funds.

Monday, April 29, 2013


The thing I use most that I got from my father, is a heart full of hate.
You know how sometimes when you say things like, "You might be surprised how little protection a debit card offers," you really mean, "I was surprised?"
Well, I was. On Friday morning, my credit union called to say it looked like there had been some unauthorized charges to Paypal on my account. I wasn't sure at first because I had used Paypal to send  a small donation a few days earlier to a charity set up to help victims of the Boston bombing. When they told me it was five hundred dollars, and that it was from that morning, I was all, "I'm pretty sure I would have remembered that," so we agreed that those charges were fraudulent, they canceled my debit card, and I went in and got a new one. I changed my password at Paypal and my credit union and thought I was done with an irritating chapter in my life. But as Faulkner said, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." Even though they knew on Friday that the charges were fraudulent, they are still letting them clear my account, and tell me that I can't even begin the process of getting the money put back until they all clear. So, to this point, there is a total of more than $1200 missing from my account, and I have to hope that  merchants used by criminals aren't indolent as they ravage my credit.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

This Post Rated NC-17 For Language

Thanks for asking, nobody; my daughter and her husband who live in Boston are fine.
Back in the 70's, the Russians invaded Afghanistan and set up a brutal puppet government (think, Chucky). We helped insurgents to drive them out, obviously making us friends of Afghan freedom.  In the 90's Russia suppressed a liberation movement in Chechnya by leveling the capital, killing Chechens indiscriminately, and then setting up a brutal puppet government. So, 9/11 and now a Chechen bomber in Boston. And they say Americans are bad at geography.
I heard a little bit of the Fox News coverage of the bombing aftermath in Boston. They reported that it was possible that some people might want to use the situation to score political points. They even gave examples that  people could raise, like,  did the democratic mayor of Boston and the democratic governor of Massachusetts lift the "shelter in place" order too soon, or did the Obama government fail to protect the nation? And why weren't any drones being used?
Speaking of the nanny state (well, we weren't, but I'm sure someone on Fox is, or will be) is it a coincidence that the liberal state of Massachusetts pronounces the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency as Meemaw?
Many analysts say that Al-Qaeda has been degraded to the point that it is hard for them to launch major attacks and that they are calling on their supporters to launch lone wolf attacks on their enemies. These attacks don't pose an existential threat to America, but they are designed to, you know, terrorize. At this time, it looks like that's what happened in Boston. Can I just say, though, "Fuck you." You're going to kill some random strangers to scare us? That's what we do. After Columbine, Aurora, Tucson and Sandy Hook, you're going to throw a pressure cooker at us and bring us to our knees?  In the four months since Newtown, there have been 63 children murdered in this country and over 3500 people of all ages murdered.  If you want to shock us, maybe pass gun control.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bias Confirmed

No matter who turns out to be responsible for the cowardly attack in Boston yesterday, I'm pretty sure I already didn't like them. Terrorist attacks are designed to terrorize. Well, duh. So the response must be to act as if nothing's changed. In my case, I can do both because I was already terrified of pressure cookers.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Or Get A Blog, Loser

I could be biased because I work for the Postal Service, but I think if you want to "send a message," you should write a letter.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Asking The Hard Questions, Then The Rhetorical One

Is conciousness chemistry? Does it arise in the brain? Can it be identified on MRI's or by the new BRAIN mapping initiative? If we create computers modeled on the brain, will mind and awareness follow? And, if we can do any of that, could we use that new understanding to see if we could make it arise in Alaska politicians?

Sunday, April 07, 2013

When I Was A Boy, April Wasn't Interminable, But Now I've Put Away Childish Things

The other day, I said, "April is the cruelest month," to someone. They asked what that meant, and I had to admit, that I had no idea, but that I knew it came from a poem by T. S. Eliot, maybe The Waste Land. I went on to admit, that I had never understood what any of Eliot's poems meant, not even the ones from Cats. Today, I looked up the Waste Land and I was right on all counts; the poem does say that about April, and I didn't understand any of it. I remember that we studied it in high school, and back then, I even bought a book of Eliot poems. But that was when I thought I was going to be one type of person, but instead I became the Manqué Man.
The poem starts out "April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire." So far so good, but that's followed by several lines of apparent gibberish and German, and then something we can all get behind, "I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter."
I want to go south for the winter, and I'd like to read much of the night, but probably not Eliot because his poems are too dense, or I am.
As for why I'd like to go south for the winter, the whole April thing came up because it's been snowing so much here lately after having been briefly spring-like. Yesterday it snowed a foot, and the Weather Service says another, bigger, storm is looming. Looming? Doesn't that sound a little portentous for a weather forecast? Besides, nothing  good ever looms. Probably because good things don't even approach, they tend to recede, or crumble into dust. At least if April has anything to say about it. And apparently, I owe February an apology.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

What's That Thing You Get If You Do, Or, If You Don't?

Karen can barely walk without her walker. When she tries, she often falls, including the time during the winter when she tore her rotator cuff and did some other damage to her shoulder. The rotator cuff tear will not heal without surgery, but if she has surgery, she will not be able to use her walker for at least three months. Which means she will almost certainly fall, and probably damager her shoulder. Probably requiring surgery...

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Just Like Doctor Seuss, Thing 1 And Thing 2

Thing 1:
I'm still wearing my event monitor. Before I got it, my heart was jumping around like a twelve year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert. Now, it's just humming along.  I'm not fooled; I know it's just biding its time. "The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead." So there's that to look forward to.

Thing 2: Sarah Palin is embarrassing, but she's no Don Young.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Diagnostic And Therapeutic

I'm wearing a Cardiac Event Monitor for twenty nine more days to see if when my heart flutters, it's just girlish enthusiasm, or something even more sinister. Since I've had it on, my heart hasn't skipped once; it's acting as if butter wouldn't melt in its mouth. I suppose if butter had never melted in my mouth I wouldn't be wearing a monitor at all.
Speaking of butter, naturally makes you think of pancakes, mostly because, what doesn't? The other day, I wanted to show Corinne my jug of IHOP syrup. I didn't see it in the cupboard, and I shrieked involuntarily,  "I've been robbed!" Luckily, I was wrong;  it was still there, but for a moment, I totally understood Gollum. It's not good for me, but it's Precious.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hooray For Our Side

I spent an hour and a half carrying a  sign and waving at traffic today. Our group was protesting the elimination of Saturday delivery by the post office. We were across the street from a Wahlgreen's that had a sign with the temperature updated every two minutes. It briefly got up to 18º F, and then, like a ground hog with a shadow, quickly ducked back down. Where does the blood go when it's not in your fingers or your toes? Your brain, I suppose, because I certainly had a lot of random, disconnected thoughts while I froze in place.
I was reminded of the last time I waved a sign, and how well we did ending the Viet Nam war, just six years later. In retrospect (and prospect, and contemporaneously) I wonder if that war even made sense. We were fighting to stop Communism, but if truth, justice and the American way were so superior, wouldn't the Communists have realized that eventually anyway and converted? Or have been buried by us? And didn't that happen? But only after so very many bombs (and pilots) fell out of the sky.
Maybe, as free market believers, we should just mind our own business, and let the rest of the world mind theirs. It's hard to see why a Defense Department would have been bombing Baghdad, for example.
While I was at the rally, I met one of my blog readers IRL.  I've always assumed that when my count of page views went up, it was me revisiting a post I'm particularly proud of. But if he is reading it, maybe someone else besides me is reading it also. It made me rethink the whole Heffalump thing. I've always assumed like every one else, that when Pooh and Piglet kept seeing more and more tracks going around the tree, they were their own tracks. But did anyone really ever count? Was CSI: Hundred Acre Wood ever consulted? Or was it easier to just believe Christopher Robin, and did anyone ever think to ask, what were his motives in all of this?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

We'll Fix It In Post-

According to a recent study, empathy from doctors improves outcomes for patients. This makes the Atlantic story about doctors being replaced by robots such good news. Calling Dr. Cooper!

Now, something completely unrelated, today I heard a podcast about the first forensic scientist,  Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne. The takeaway for me was that so far, every bad thing that has happened to me has been pre-mortem.
And, a final unrelated fact: This Sunday, people are rallying to support postal six day delivery. Our local union president pointed out that ending Saturday delivery means ending the Carrier Food Drive which is the largest food drive in the nation. If you want to feed the hungry, support carriers.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Results Are In

I had a large cup of coffee with dinner a few hours ago. I wondered if it would make it hard to sleep and now I know.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Mystic crystal revelation And the mind's true liberation

Right now, Mercury is in retrograde. To believers in astrology, this has great significance, but in real life it is a consequence of planetary motion around the sun. I was explaining that at some great length to Sarah, when her phone died. Of boredom, she was too polite to say.

I Also Didn't Mention The Drug Abuse

As we approach the equinox, every morning this week has been colder than the one before. At this rate, by the solstice, the air will have frozen, fallen like snow, and we'll be gasping like fish. Frozen fish.

Because, in some ways, I'm still the 14 year old boy that thrilled to the ride of the Rhorrim, and the death of the witch king of Angmar, I've been listening to some lectures from The Tolkien Professor. Tolkien, he says, thought that no one ever wrote a completely original story, but that all stories were the unrolling of a leaf on the tree of stories. That makes me feel better about completely ripping off Deepness in the Sky's concept of a freezing atmosphere. There was a lot more to that book, though. I completely didn't rip off the intelligent spiders part.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Saving The Postal Service


We sprang forward this morning and looking out the window, we saw a typical spring scene, snow falling. For those of you that want to enjoy adventure vicariously (the only way it can be enjoyed as far as I'm concerned) I've added a link to the sidebar. Sarah's high school Physics teacher is sailing to Tahiti. A classmate's father is going along as crew.

Friday, March 08, 2013

I Was (Not) Robbed

I don't mean to name drop here (although if I drop a name this week, that's all I'll have dropped) but just like the Fat Cyclist, I dieted, worked hard, and gained two pounds this week.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Just The Facts, Or, Not Even That Much

I passed through a room where the Today Show (motto: Nothing's happening, people. Look, here's something shiny) was on. I don't understand what the point is of a white noise machine that has "all the bells and whistles."

Sunday, March 03, 2013

You Say Sequester, I Say Man Overboard

The sequester has gotten off to a slow start like a piano just starting to fall on us as the rope slips out of our hand. We can disagree about the cause, only because some people are wrong. The fact is that back in 2011, Republicans were trying to make a point about how concerned they were about national insolvency that they refused to pay the bills they had incurred. Reluctantly they agreed to pay them if they could threaten us with disaster later. They assumed that they would win the presidency and the Senate and could then steer our ship of state in the direction of low taxes for millionaires and wage stagnation for the middle class. Amazingly, they lost, and now here we are.
So, the blame is clear, but that's not the point any more. The point is it doesn't matter if you were the captain of the Titanic or of the iceberg, now it's time to man the lifeboats.
We went to the Earth Girls Love____ First Friday event at Sara's Gift Cache. It was fun-filled, and jam packed with people eager to sample the best lip balm ever. As ever, though, when people saw me they couldn't think of anything to say, probably because of my intimidating Dr. Johnson/Dorothy Parker-esque reputation for witty repartee. Or perhaps because I think I have that reputation. Anyway, they reverted to the, "What do you think of the Post Office ending Saturday delivery?" line of questioning. I ranted briefly, and then referred people to my blog post. They all said they would check it out, but I noticed that as they were edging away, not one person asked for the URL. I hadn't realized that so many people were already following it.

Friday, March 01, 2013

It Burns

I'm probably showing my age, but I love the smell of Ben-Gay in the morning.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Very Original Intent, Or, Strict Reconstructionists

Nationally, we have to infer what the founders meant when they wrote the Constitution. We have to read between the lines, we have to read the tea leaves, maybe hold a seance, maybe read the document itself, maybe the Federalist Papers. But we just can't know what they meant by deliberately ambiguous phrases and s's that look like f's.
In Alaska, we still have some of the founders with us. One of the framers of Alaska's constitution spoke in opposition Friday to a constitutional amendment that would allow public funds to be appropriated to private educational institutions. Even so, our legislators are all, no, that's not what they meant back in the 50's when they wrote it, and if it was then they were wrong, and anyway, we're not going to appropriate any money, at least that's not the intent. Although, then, what the intent of changing the constitution is, is a little unclear. I'm pretty sure the next step will be to offer to fund private religious schools, until they find out they're funding madrassas (side note, spell check is resisting the spelling of madrassas that it just provided). They may not be for the separation of church and state, but I'm very sure they're for the separation of mosque and state.

By the way, this is in no way a criticism of private religious schools. We sent our kids to a private religious school, and we did it with our own money supplemented by garage sales and auctions, recycling cans and newspapers and the sale of wrapping paper, magazines, and car washes.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Who Says That? You Be The Judge.

If I said, "If gun laws aren't reformed, murders are in the offing," would you think, "Incisive political commentary," or, "Who would joke about murders just to make a pun?"

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Laugh? I Thought I'd Fly.

Why is it that when I say I feel like a blimp, it doesn't mean I feel light on my feet? It doesn't even imply that I can see my feet.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Universal Spoiler Alert

The other day I finished reading Why Does The Earth Exist? by Jim Holt.  The author was trying to answer the question, "Why is there something, rather than nothing?" He looked at the Platonic ideal, religion, quantum physics, cosmology, mysticism and even the idea that the universe exists because it has an ethical imperative to exist; something is better than nothing.
In the end, though, I think the poets can sum up his conclusion even better than he could himself.

Monday, February 18, 2013

I Wish It Was Tuppence A Bag

Nothing new in my life, but watching the sunflower seeds visibly disappear from my bird feeder over the course of an hour makes me feel better about my eating disorder.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Exploring The Question, "What's The Worst That Could Happen?"

Karen had her MRI last week, and yesterday we went to her orthopedic doctor. He showed us the images, which looked amazing to me, probably because they were really detailed, and I had no idea what they meant. He said she had a torn rotator cuff and that some of the other tendons were, "hamburger." Yes, that's a quote.  He said that it wouldn't get better without surgery, and probably not with surgery either. I asked if they made a brace or a splint for this condition. They don't, so his recommendation was to keep her arm someplace where it didn't hurt.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because dawn has come.” – Rabindranath Tagore

We went to a funeral this evening. It was sad, of course, not most because I had to buy a new pair of black pants to fully encompass my waist, because, like hell, it hath enlarged itself, and opened its mouth without measure. One of the attendees was once one of my postal customers. She told me that she had asked her new letter carrier what had happened to me, and been told that I was dead. She said that she and her husband were both sorry to hear it, which I was glad to hear. Plus, I wasn't even dead.
Last week we got a Life Alert system installed. So, now, if you need a place to crash, give us a call. I told the lady that installed it that she would have to sign the standard non-disclosure agreement. She said not to worry about it, she was used to squalor. Very reassuring. I realized later that we're not really at the "hold your nose" stage yet, more the "look down your nose," stage.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Saturday Delivery, Or, Don't You Love When Someone Confirms What You've Been Thinking?

Here's a link to an article from the Atlantic Wire that summarizes and links to a couple of other articles about the end of Saturday mail delivery. The main point, and this is true of so many issues, Congress and campaign finance are to blame.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

It was twenty years ago today that President Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act into law. Controversial at the time, it has now become a beloved institution. To celebrate, I stayed home with Karen, who is once again having muscle spasms. She was afraid that if she fell again, she'd be unable to get up. I told her that if she fell again, she'd be on the floor, and thus, unable to fall again, problem solved. But, I only told her that in my mind, because I'm not some kind of jerk, or at least not that kind of jerk.

Monday, February 04, 2013

I Say, This Is Absolute Tosh. They Must Be Barking

I went back to work today. Mostly so I could rant to people about quinine, which one of Karen's doctor's prescribed to help control muscle spasms. Which it has been doing since like forever, whenever British expats were sitting around the Raffles drinking gin and tonic through their walrus mustaches complaining about the natives and which when I was a kid, they put in pop. You could mix a drink, and fight malaria at the same time. But regulators, working in the dim light trickling into their offices in Big Pharma's pockets have changed the rules on quinine, and now, a compound that children used to be able to put on their corn flakes if they ran out of milk, has a $95 co-pay. That's a $95 co-pay!
When I got home a took a test of tone deafness and musical memory. I was in the low normal range. They stopped just short of saying, "Your hearing's not too good, plus, we think you might be retarded. Does your mom know you're playing on her computer?"

Sunday, February 03, 2013

"And The Sky Is Gray"

According to statistics I'm making up right now, Sunday is the most depressing day of the week, representing, as it does, the imminent end of freedom and the return to the drudgery of the work week. This is especially true today, since I haven't been to work in six days, and now must face six days straight. And also because the last six days haven't been exactly free, since a lot of it involved taking Karen places like the bathroom and to the hospital for an MRI which she didn't get because after waiting two hours, they told us that the machine was broken, so we still have that to look forward to.
Karen was improved enough yesterday (and it was a scheduled day off, not sick leave, because I wouldn't have a good time on sick leave;  I wouldn't)  that we went to Lincoln (the movie, not the capital of Nebraska) which makes me a feel a little ashamed talking about an impending loss of freedom compared to the weightier issues of freedom and dignity discussed in the movie.
Although, saying, "weightier," reminds me that on Friday, I was going to weigh my self for the first time since last December. But, aside from helping Karen walk down the hall, I had spent the week lolling in pajamas, and I didn't want to make a week of inactivity the prelude to my return to the scale after the Christmas feasting. I'm not saying I had become portly, but Disney Cruises had tried to secure docking rights. Sorry, that was just Goofy.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Waste Not, Want Not

I ended up staying home most of the week to take care of Karen because she's been having muscle spasms, and on Tuesday, she spasmed on over, and into the fireplace. Well, not into it, we're not staging Hansel and Gretel; more onto it. She wasn't especially damaged, but she was still having spasms which made it hard, and a little dangerous to move around on her own. Anyway, after three days, I was restless and bored, the paralegal called from Mt. Sinai and said, we probably have a case, but under Alaska law, we can't collect damages, or at least not enough to be worth filing for, and after that, I was cranky, but still bored. I didn't want to waste the moment, so it seemed an apt time to pay bills and do our taxes.
 I ended up with two problems in TurboTax. I spent an hour and seven minutes "chatting" with 17 Bernadette. She told me that I could solve my problem by filing online from my mutual fund's website. I told her I had already bought, and paid for(!) TurboTax, and I didn't want to start over and also buy it again. She looked further into it and told me I had to talk to the mutual fund's Tier 3 support, which I guess I did, and they fixed it. But then, another problem developed, and I couldn't face chatting with 17 Bernadette again, so I went to TurboTax's online community, which is where the real help is, but making your customers  be your tech support seems just wrong. And also, since it's slow and just people talking, it's like playing Zork with the IRS.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

To Riff On Something Leah Said, The Universe Is Like A Geriatric Parrot. It Keeps Repeating The Same Things And It's Getting Old

Last summer, friends recommended that Karen see an attorney about a CT Needle Biopsy that went awry and left her tilted to the right. I was writing to them today:

I talked to an attorney's office last summer, per Robert's advice. The attorney had been recommended by a nurse at Karen's pain clinic. The paralegal wasn't very encouraging, and so I let the matter drop for awhile. Eventually, I got a letter from them saying that since I had been so dilatory, they had closed my file. I hadn't realized that they had even opened a file! As Robert predicted, Karen's tilt got worse, so I scanned some documents, and sent them to the attorney. I got an email reminding me that they had already closed my file, and recommending a different attorney. I contacted them and received a call Friday, and now the paralegal will approach the attorney in his tabernacle and see if he thinks Karen has a case. She certainly has a tilt. She fell over because of it recently, and hurt the shoulder that she broke a few years ago. We went to the doctor that set it then, and x-rays don't show a break, but because of the angle of the shot, he said that certainty would require an MRI. Of course, MRI's are a problem because the magnets turn off her pump and it takes an excruciating hour or so for it to turn itself back on. We may still have to do it though, since it's hard to hear the TV over the clicking sound that emanates from her shoulder when she moves her arm.
In a somewhat related note, I'm reading Why Does The World Exist, and so far, not one good reason.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I've Looked At Clouds From Both Sides, Too

Did you know that Joni Mitchell wrote that song, Both Sides, but Judy Collins had the hit with it?Really, what I mean is, did you know that they weren't the same person?
Anyway, clouds, every silver lining has its own dark cloud. I've written that, and so has virtually everyone else whoever wrote about silver linings. But the converse isn't true. I've been inside clouds, and they're not silver, they're not even lined. It's just fog.
My cardiologist, and here's another aside, "my cardiologist," it just rolls off the tongue doesn't it, like, my gerontologist, or my undertaker, so, my cardiologist told me to start taking aspirin, and since we already had a bottle from Costco with 500 tablets,  he said I could take 325mg a day or four times the normal dose for heart health. Which I've been doing for almost a year. This morning I read that people taking aspirin are much more likely to develop macular degeneration which is exactly the kind of degeneration you don't want to develop. So, the silver lining for taking aspirin for heart health is that aspirin also protects against some cancers. The dark cloud is, I guess, literally, a dark cloud.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I Don't Know If You Will Be Interested In This Since It's Not A Whiny Complaint About My Life, And Believe Me, After Yesterday I've Got Some Whiny Complaints

Avoiding the Wars That Never End, is an article from Stratfor about a change that seems to be happening in America's strategy, and, about time, if you ask me, which you wouldn't because, I'm not a strategist, I'm a mailman. But that's why you might want to read the article because they might know what they're talking about.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Irony Abounds

As you probably know, we're clinging to our place in the lower middle class. Just. But, clinging. So, it was a shock, just before Christmas to have someone appear on our porch, and thrust a holiday food basket at Leah, and then leave before she could say, "Thank you," or even, "What the..." Surprising, because we didn't think we needed food aid, and disappointing because it wasn't like a turkey dinner, it was Cup Noodles and Top Ramen. Apparently they thought we were poor, but not, you know, the deserving poor. We've been moving the bag from room to room trying to find a place for it until the letter carrier's food drive in May.
When we came home from shopping yesterday (I'm not showing off, we do shop for food) we found that the dogs had crawled into the bag, and eaten their way out, and then spread the leftovers around the house. Truly, a doggy bag, as it were.  While I was talking to the vet ER, Karen was reporting new discoveries. Ultimately, the dogs didn't go to the ER, but did get checked out by their regular vet today where we spent around two hundred dollars on non-emergency pet care.
So, the thing that was supposed to ameliorate our poverty, has only served to increase it. It's like the reformed Scrooge sent a turkey to the Cratchits and it pecked Tiny Tim's eyes out.

Monday, January 07, 2013

What's Sauce For The Goose, M-m-m, Sauce

If I were a goose being turned intoPâté de Foie Gras, I'd have one advantage over my current state. We'd both still have the fat livers, and, based on my experience, new difficulty getting upstairs, but at least I wouldn't have the guilt of knowing I did this to myself. Anyway, I'm back on my plan, and as usual, because of all the salty snacks, I'm carrying a lot of fat weight. Not good now, but according to this article, I soon may be a potent weapon in the fight against big oil.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Someday Always Comes

Yesterday we made waffles from a mix provided by Polly's Pancakes. Polly does a lot less of the work than the good ladies of Krusteaz. And I ended up cracking a lot more eggs than the recipe called for. Now I have egg separation anxiety.
Even though it's on TV, so it seems glamorous, yesterday I also learned a downside to the hoarder lifestyle we've embraced.  We hoarders always claim that someday this thing, whatever it is, will come in handy, but we ended up shopping specifically for things that I know we already have, but it was faster and cheaper (psychically, at least) to just go buy them than to continue to root around here looking for them. But now I know we've got them if we ever need them someday.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

I Probably Could Have Put This On A Twitter Feed, If For No Other Reason Than It Was A Chance To Say, "Feed."

Newly published studies confirm that being slightly overweight makes a person slightly less likely to die. After this vacation, that still isn't over, I should be slightly immortal.