Monday, December 31, 2012

Payup, PAL

Apparently, PayPal is not a limitless resource.  Once you've used it for $5,000 worth of transactions, over whatever period you've used it -- they require that you either sign up for their credit card or tell them a bank account number.  The reason is ostensibly for 'security', but in fact it's because the bank account number will become the default payment option.  It turns out that it costs PP less to process a bank transaction than a credit card transaction.

And here I thought it was a useful, low-impact service....

Black and White

Found at Bouletcorp, here.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Looking Up

How good was the Lincoln film?

We were in the first damn row, and I still enjoyed it.

Fiscal Cliff?

Bring it on.

Found here.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Just Thinking…

It’s just before seven PM on Saturday.  We had what I’d call the perfect snowfall today – about two inches; enough so that my daughter could go sledding with a friend (“Except for the parents with their kids”, she reported back, “we were the oldest ones there!”), but not so much that it was difficult to shovel the driveway.  I was texting with a friend who lives in Paris; when I mentioned the snow, she said send me a picture!  This is what I sent:

I’ve been thinking a lot about French, lately.  The occasion is that we’re probably going to France this summer – I was casually invited to attend the wedding of a friend (we were talking, and she said Have you ever been to a Jewish wedding?  You should totally come. And when I pointed out that I might be the only English speaker there, she scoffed. Your French is good enough to get by, she said, and anyway there are people who speak English, too. I told her that I want them to wear name badges.) – and as part of that we’re going to go down to Burgundy to visit with our friends.  These are the people who were supposed to come here last summer, and didn’t; as they have two children, and have recently rented an apartment to be closer to one child’s school and the husband’s job, we’re thinking that if we don’t go to see them, it might be a long time till we see them at all.  While we are there, we’re also going to go down to Lyon to see another language correspondent (though, as it happens, he is planning to come here in the spring, a birthday gift for his wife), as well as possibly down to Toulouse to meet two others, and possibly one more in Paris.

So, with all of that, I’m thinking that I really should get better at understanding French when it is spoken at a normal speed.  Not the speed that they use on the radio, or television – even the people I talk to say that those folks talk way too fast – but just routine conversation.  I don’t want to have to keep saying Excuse me? Could you say that again, slowly?  I mean, what’s the use of speaking the language if you have to do that?  The problem is, learning the language is primarily rote memorization, and I’ve done a fair amount of that.  Not tons, by any means, but enough so that I can talk about things, even if, sometimes, that’s literally what I’m talking about – I took the thing to the store.  But hearing and understanding the language at a rapid pace is more than just memorization.  It’s almost as if you have to just absorb it.  You can’t – or, at least, I can’t – listen for words and respond to them.  You have to just get it – and right now, for much of it, I don’t.

How I’m going to accomplish this feat of linguistic legerdemain, I’ve no idea.  But I'm thinking that exposure to the language - just hearing it spoken, over and over and over - is part of it.  I want to think that knowing what the words are -- not just knowing vocabulary, but actually knowing what the speaker is saying - is part of it, too,  but I'm beginning to suspect that it's not as big a part as I previously thought. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012


I'm not an 'architecture' guy.  I can't tell you what a given style is.  I don't know a Doric column from Dora the Explorer.  When the architect in a book I was reading once (I believe it was titled "House") says The house wants to be Greek Orthodox, I only vaguely understood what he was trying to say.

And yet, I've always enjoyed the concept of the Playboy Pad.  Not because of the gorgeous women who inevitably festooned the rooms; even as a teenager, I could not ever see myself as being with anyone like that - in fact, I wasn't entirely sure they were even alive.  But the rooms!  The elegant wall coverings (lets forget the fake, I'm sorry, faux leopard-skin), the hidden lighting, the remote controls for every gadget known to man (now, as an adult who still hasn't hooked up the DVD player downstairs, and as one who read with awe about the internal wiring at Skywalker ranch, I'm still amazed), the easy access to the pool -- even things like taking two row houses and gutting them so that they were solid and traditional outside, swinging and elegant inside -- all of it delighted and amazed me.  I was in awe of the people who could design things like that, and I still am.

Fixing Your Heart

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Mo Franch

I freaking despise how hard it is for me to learn to understand spoken french unless it is really slow.  This is just driving me up the damn wall.

...but who's counting?

Found at Virus Comix

Thursday, December 20, 2012


My wife's been working this week - she's helping with some ESL kids at the local school.  It's just for this week, which is good: when she isn't here, I don't go to the gym (it's more fun with her, as most things are).

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012


The thing is, every single thing I think of as a way to limit the potential for gun violence has a yeah but associated with it. Absolutely no guns at all?  Yeah but cops and soldiers need guns, not to mention hunters, and people who need or want personal protection. Plus, thefts occur.  Licence the owners? Yeah but the people who use guns violently don't care about licenses. Limit private ownership to handguns in general, rifles for licensed hunters? Yeah but how do you know the self-proclaimed hunters actually are?  Limit the number of guns you can own, and capacity of the guns, so you can't fire as fast or as many? Yeah but what about the Second Amendment? Lock up the heavy artillery at a police station, where you have to sign it out to get it? Yeah, but what if they give YOUR gun to someone else? Or it gets stolen? Not to mention, Second Amendment again....

I know, I just know, the NRA and their stooges in Congress are going to weasel out of doing anything. I know it. Put the pictures of the kids - not to mention everyone else who's been killed, the last year - put those pictures where our 'congressional servants of the people' have to see them every goddamn day -- still won't help.

But I can hope. 

Busy Ness

Today, lots of things are happening.  All of them are good, though they might be a little chaotic.

The biggest single thing is that my wife is going back to work, kind of.  As a stopgap while she studies project management, she applied to the local school district to be a 'teachers aide', which to me meant the person who arranges the glue sticks.  Not entirely how I see her, as she is smart, personable, technical, and focused, but - okay.  Well, yesterday evening, the automated phone system called and said are you interested in working briefly? So this week, she's going to be a 'student aide', which means she'll spend the day escorting a kid who needs help - the exactly nature of the help is unclear; could be 'help them physically get from A to B', could be 'read the tests to them'.  How long, we're not sure. My guess is one to two weeks. But she's happy, so, good.

My daughter's home.  I got up at 2AM to get something to drink, saw the light on under her door. Remembered my wife telling me that the first weekend she was home from college, she came home at 2AM, which was when people tended to go to sleep at college.  She was politely but firmly informed by her mother that this was not acceptable.  Me, I think my daughter's an adult.  So long as she doesn't bring booze and guys in... Basically, treat her just like I did my parents, when they lived with us.

Going to do some baking today, get cookies off to another family in France, as well as have some to give to my mento tomorrow, along with a gift card to a local bookstore. I know, he's going to use it to see if he can get something relative to World of Warcraft and the like. At least we have bookstores - when we were in Ohio yesterday, we were in a small town 20 minutes from The Mall; the mall itself was actually pretty nice, but to my astonishment - no bookstore at all.  None. Zip. So yeah, a gift for him.  And some cookies. I mentioned to him that I would do that, and he seemed gratified but surprised.  I think he likes me.  Doesn't understand this fascination I have with getting him to read, but - hey, I'll take what I can get.

And I'll finally get a haircut.  Been putting that off, to the point where my hair looks like what my mother used to call 'a wild man'.  It feels odd, on my neck and ears.

So that's the day.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Talk to Me

If anyone tells you that going down to Virginia, up to Pittsburgh, over to Ohio, back to Pittsburgh, and then back to Harrisburg, all in four days, is fun -- hit them.  It is not fun. There is much worse in life, but it isn't fun. Even if my daughter did survive her trip nicely.  And is already saying the next time I go.... And blithely mentioning  oh no, she drove the whole way there and back, I just sat and talked with her, yeah, um, I forgot to call you like I said I would....but anyway, NEXT time I go....

One useful idea did come out of it, though.  I've heard of gadgets that can be electronically linked (or possibly cabled) to a phone (any phone? dunno; guessing smart phone with data plan)  to provide laptops, etc with ad-hoc wifi connectivity.  For when, say, you're in the middle of the Pennsylvania turnpike, or some tiny road in Virginia - that kind of thing. We're going to look into that.  As is, what exactly is it, who offers it, what do you need to make it work, that sort of thing.  Because this being in a car for twenty hours without net access is the pits. Not for her. For us.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Two 18 year old girls want to drive from Toledo to Pittsburgh at 11PM on a Saturday night after a long day of physically demanding practice.

On the one hand, 18 year olds are resilient; girls tend to be safer drivers, and they promise to stop every hour, walk around, change drivers.

On the other, one of them is my daughter.

Sunday, December 09, 2012


Tomorrow, I get to spend some quality time with the dental surgeon.  I'll be asleep for most of it, which is a good thing.  The part where I spend 3-6 months chewing on the other side,  and thinking good thoughts about the implant base, hoping the damn graft takes ....not so much. Ah, well. At least the scales in the gym and at home both agree:  I've lost weight.

Update: it is such a weird feelling to be talking to the anesthesiologist, then remark My mouth feels funny, thinking that its the anesthetic taking effect -- only to realize a few minutes later that it's actually  the cotton in my mouth....because they're done. Talk about out like a light....

Saturday, December 08, 2012


I'm not a fan of iPhones or the associated stuff that people buy to enhance the experience.  But I must say that Popslate -- if it ever comes to fruition - could be pretty damned cool.

Friday, December 07, 2012


Wonder if Amtrak will ever figure out that having a PDF of their schedule -- which by the way requires you to know the train number or region - doesn't hack it in this century?


How is it that if we are both retired, things now take longer?

I'm just baking the cookies I want to send out.

We've just checked the lights that are supposed to go outside.

We've just printed off the address labels for the cards (okay, Microsoft Word gets a shout-out there for taking a simple process and making it harder.)

But still......

Monday, December 03, 2012

It Just....Works

Found here.

That Election

I've been doing a little reading -- not gloating, just reading -- about the election - seeing a fair amount of the hatred and hostility.  I nodded when I saw the comment of a Republican from Orlando who said he was convinced that Obama is a communist -- typical redneck, I thought.  But these folks -- I think they were honestly saying what they thought.  They don't sound like idiots.  They sound like people you could talk with, and even though they probably wouldn't agree with you, they wouldn't try to shout you down, either.  The professional talking-head at the end, I didn't care for (though he said some interesting things, most was party line), but those folks?  They could be my neighbors.


Just heard from a person I know who said that her holiday vacation starts on the day when the Mayans say the world will end.  Not sure how to respond to that.  "You're kidding, right?" seems a little harsh.   The thing is, we always respond to things like that.  When that guy said the world would definitely end two years ago, lots of people took him seriously - even selling off their possessions and moving to be with him; when he announced that he'd been wrong about the date, but he knew the new date, people listened to that.  So I suppose its not all that unlikely  that people are taking this seriously, too.  I think it's crazy, but I have to admit, inside me a little voice is going are you sure?  And even though I think what does it matter if I'm sure or not?.... yeah, I wonder.

Maggie Estep

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Bank Accounts

Several years ago, I read a comment to the effect that anyone who didn't believe guys can be sentimental should see how many dried-up ballpoint pens they refuse to throw away.

Well, today I found out that the checking account which I've had with the credit union for my former company is going to start instituting a monthly fee, starting in January.  As it happens, we'd already instituted a new joint checking account with a local bank, and we were planning on cancelling my wife's account this month, and mine sometime.  Guess that sometime is now.

But, you know?  I've had that account for 30 years.  Going to feel a little strange not to have it any more.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Found on FullPunch.


Being sick on a trip is not fun.

Finding yourself at 4AM intently consulting Google for the characteristics of gastric upset (yep, yes, nope, yep, nope, kind of) versus those that signify a heart attack (nope, nope, nope, nope, nope), even less so. 

Make a note:  next time, skip the sausage on that pizza. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Three days ago, our daughter said she had the download of a form she needed for an event this weekend under control.  My wife asked three times, and each time, same answer.

Today is thanksgiving.

Tomorrow we are scheduled to drive for eight hours to get to the place that needs the form.  (And after which: seven hours to get from there to her college.)

Guess who didn't actually download it?  Guess which web site doesn't seem to be working?  Guess which organization has an email box that just bounces back inquiries?

Oh, the next three days are going to be freaking awesome.

Monday, November 19, 2012


I know it'll fluctuate, but today I saw a cumulative loss about about three pounds from our consistant visits to the gym.  I'm delighted.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


I'm in my early sixties, and yet I'm paranoid that tomorrow a dental surgeon is going to glare at me and say mean things to me? Really?

Um. Yeah.
I dodged the bullet, but he announced intention to re-aim in about two months.  Ah, well.  


To get at the battery in a Prius remote fob, you have to -

a) put the little lever and, while holding it, pull out the little emergency key
b) put the little lever again and, while holding it, push up the back of the fob to slide it off.
c) unscrew the four tiny screws holding the plate that's under the cover.

And now you can get at the battery.

Given that its under that cover, why is the plate needed at all?  And if it is, why are there four screws?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Stay or Switch

I'm one of those who just doesn't get why the classic Monte Hall problem works that way. I understand the logic, but I can't accept it.  I even wrote  a very simple program to try the 'recommended' solution, and it works - but I don't get why.

Even this site, Stay or Switch, can't help me.  But it's fun to try. 

Gun Guys

I'm not a gun freak, and grudgingly admit that some people have what I regard as a good reason for wanting one.  Perhaps because of that, I found this review, from the Unshelved site, interesting.

Gun Guys by Dan Baum
Reviewed by geneambaum - link to this review
As a kid at summer camp, Dan Baum spent hours on the rifle range where he learned to appreciate the solid click every time he slapped the bolt into position to shoot again. Despite his parents’ disapproval and his status as a lifelong Democratic, Baum both owns a rifle and hunts.
To wander the world of American gun enthusiasts and attempt to figure out what makes guns so attractive to some, he camouflaged himself in a NRA hat. His search led him to a desert convention of machine gun aficionados, to a man who purchased his first gun for protection after being mugged and became a self-defense instructor, to an underemployed contractor who has over $3,000 dollars invested in his customized AR-15. (Baum refers to weapon collecting as “Barbie for men.”)
Why I picked it up: I am somewhat similar to Baum, a lifelong Democrat with a concealed-carry permit who packs heat at the grocery store. I don’t know what it is, either, but I also love guns. There’s something satisfying about slapping in a fresh magazine my Glock and racking the slide.
Why I finished it: Baum talks about the first few weeks when he was carrying a pistol every day, concealed in his waistband. He spent a lot of time analyzing passersby, watching to see if they were a threat or had bad intentions.  Scenarios constantly play out in his mind -- what he’d do if that guy takes the lady in the tube top hostage or what if that shady-looking man pulls a balaclava over his face and demands the cash while Baum is in line at a 7-11? I laughed out loud when I read that part because I had similar thoughts when I began to carry my gun.
I found it interesting that many second amendment activists think poorly of hunters, calling them “Fudds” (after Elmer Fudd) because they generally don’t advocate for guns outside hunting.
Baum spends time in a police simulator where he must make split-second decisions about whether or not to fire his weapon. He was shaking with emotion and stress after just the first simulation because he was overwhelmed by having to make the decision. Having never drawn or fired my gun (except at the range), this made me rethink how difficult it might be to use it to defend myself.
I'd give it to: Evan, who is anti-gun and would like that the book doesn’t waste time talking about the Second Amendment. Baum looks for reasons why there are 270 million guns in the U.S.  Apparently video games drive many purchases, which is going to alarm Evan.

You're Redundant, Mr. Bond.

Apparently, being escorted to the Olympics by 007 has given her ideas.

Is There A Better Way?

....and if so, would we use it?

Found at ODDMAN


Found at Oddman.CA

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gay Marriage?

Oh hell yeah....  and this is why.


I suppose if we do it about five thousand times, it will become a habit, but as we are no where close to that count, we're no where close to that label, either.  But tonight, once again, we went to the gym and worked out.  Nothing strenuous; neither of us staggers off the eliptical, gasping.  But we do have that mild sense of accomplishment....


From Oddman.CA -

Blood Creek

The start seems to have a problem playing, but it goes away after a moment or so.... The Duel at Blood Creek - Short Film from Leo Burton on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


After days of thinking yeah, we should do that, we finally disconnected the phone jack which gives us static and connected a different jack to the red/green wires that had been connected.  I say that glibly; that was after about ten minutes of can you see if that damn wire is under the washer? Agh, we should get a better flashlight.... And after all of that?

Still had static.  Gah.

The Labs

The doc called.  She got the results of my various labs.

Blood sugar is up, as is the three month number.  Higher than it should be, but not scarily higher.  More like the 'work on this' range.  She still wants me to see the endocrinologist, though.

Kidney function fine.  Liver, fine. Cholesterol excellent.   Not sure how much of this is due to luck, and how much to drugs, and how much to the fact that we've been doing about thirty minutes at the gym, five or six times a week, but...

So.... not so bad, I guess.

Next up: the dentist.


No matter how often I watch this short clip, I can't bring myself to beleive it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


This morning I went to the doctor's for a four-month checkup.  I've been tense, the last week, about this -- my blood sugar readings are haywire, and I've got the dental surgeon next Monday, which is in itself a triple whammy - he may judge me for how I take care of implants; he will likely want to do a bone graft, which is tedious and takes several months to 'set', and of course the implant itself, which will take months to integrate into my bone, assuming it works at all. (I've found the hard way that my body doesn't seem to like cow bone, for example.)

Immediately, though, the blood sugar thing, coupled with a weight gain after six weeks of going to the gym, had me actively nervous.  She's going to give me major amounts of grief. Whereupon the doc said a) yeah, the increase is something to be thoughtful about, but don't freak - first, treat it with increased drugs, then we'll send you to an endocrinologist to see if anything else is going on, and b) the weight gain actually happens quite often when people go to the gym - the important thing is that you are exercising, and doing good things for your cardiovascular system.  She didn't lecture me at all.

Then this afternoon I heard part of a review on NPR of a book called The Antidote, where a guy tried many self-help ideas on himself, and concluded that most don't work. (Yeah, I'm not too thrilled with how that study was run.) One thing he said, though, intrigued me.  Basically, he said that he was told that people who get really anxious tend to overplay how bad the nervousness will be.  As an exercise for dealing with that, he was told to ride the subway and call out the names of stations as they arrived.  He said that, as expected, he did feel nervous doing it -- but the apprehension was much worse than the actuality.

So I'm thinking guardedly positive thoughts about Monday.

Got the Clap?

Found on NotAlwaysRight.

(The customer at the front of the queue is talking loudly on their phone, and ignores me when I ask what they want. I decide to ask the person behind them for their order.)
Customer #1: “Excuse me! I’m at the front. You serve me before him!”
Me: I’m very sorry, sir. You were on your phone. What can I get you?”
Customer #1: “Jesus! Stop interrupting me, can’t you see I’m talking to someone?” *continues conversation*
Customer #2: *quietly, to me* “Follow my lead.” *then, very clearly, at normal speaking volume* “Clap once if you can hear me.”
Customer #2: “Clap twice if you can hear me.”
(Claps twice, with me and the person behind him joining in.)
Customer #2: “Clap three times if you can hear me.”
(Three claps, more of the queue and the people sat at a nearby table have joined in – most of the other people in the shop have stopped talking to see what the clapping is about.)
Customer #2: “Clap four times if you can hear me.”
(Most of the people in the shop clap along with him, with the person on the phone struggling to hear what’s being said by their friend.)
Customer #2: “Clap five times if you can hear me.”
(Everyone claps, and Customer #1 hangs up, looking angry.)
Customer #1: “How dare you interr—”
Customer #2: “Clap six times if you can hear me.”
(Everyone, except the now fuming phone guy, claps.)
Customer #2: “Oh, good. You seem to have finished your call. Why don’t you place your order now?”
(Customer #1 stutters for a few seconds, then storms out, mashing at his phone.)
Customer #2: “Oh, well. That was fun.”
(He got his drink for free, and now we always use that to shut up customers on their phones!)


I have been reading articles about the election.  I am not surprised - much - to see that Obama's campaign ran a well-oiled machine based on years of patient slogging, registration of minorities, and neighborhood door-to-door, neighbor-to-neighbor contact. I'm sure that explanations of their failures are coming.  Similarly, I'm not surprised to read that Romney's loss was due to arrogance in ORCA, which was never tested, his inability to convince voters about his core beliefs, and lower-than-expected turnout of white supporters. I'm sure we are going to hear of the things that they did well -- though we won't hear as often as the first.  But, you know, it depresses me:  neither side talk about the actual plans, and whether a vote was or wasn't a vote for them.  It's like we're all considered to be cogs, and the successful candidate is the one who best manipulates us.

Saw an article on the AARP site - which I don't normally frequent; perhaps when I get older - about average 401(k) levels rising; apparently, the average 401(k) now is about $75,000.  It went on to say that older participants had higher amounts, with the highest amounts going to those who had participared at least ten years (makes sense, right?).  Those people had, on average, about $220,000 in their 401(k).  I read this to my wife, and we both reflected on the value of our 401(k)s.  Which in turn made me think: why is it that my feeling on the adequacy of our financial bedrock is affected by these articles?  Either we have enough, or we don't: what others have should not affect our feelings about it.  It's the math, as someone recently said.  And yet - it does. Strange.

In a desperate attempt to crack the code of understanding French when it is spoken moderately fast, I bought a novel from World of Reading, in Georgia -- excellent company, by the way.  The novel is quite small - you could read it in a day - and it comes with a mini-CD of a person reading it.  So I can listen to the CD while looking at exactly the same words.  (Even then, I find that using the Audacity freeware to slow the speech down a bit more is helpful).   It seems to be working.  Slowly.

I get to have another implant put in -- a lower tooth had an infection.  I'm cool with that.  But why am I apprehensive that the dentist, who is the guy who did the upper implants, is going to judge me on whether I'm adequately taking care of those existing implants?  Shouldn't I think Good idea, get a professional's view -- if not, I can work harder, or, at least, prepare for problems. Yeah.  I should think that.  Don't, though.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Friday, November 02, 2012

Thursday, November 01, 2012


...perfect together.

Found here.

My Response

Found at ODDMAN.CA

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Being Eight

Whenever I have to have serious dental work done, I feel as if I'm an eight year old kid again about to be scolded.  Even when I reluctantly admit to myself that it's mostly not my fault - does anyone floss as well as dentists would like? - I still dread it.

Right now I have two things coming up. Turns out that the reason I've felt strange around one tooth is that a huge filling is about to pop out; the dentist wants to cap it, which sounds right to me - even though I remember that that was how all of my problems with my upper teeth started; one day its just a cap on one tooth, then the thing comes off twice (once over a three day holiday); later, the dentist says yeah, you're going to need an implant there, remarking that he was surprised that I'd kept the cap as long as I did. You mean they're not forever? And you knew that? And didn't tell me? And then the you're going to need an implant there morphs into lets just pull them all and put in implants. Two years, it took to do that.

I mentioned to the dentist, a while back, that I really expected to eventually need dentures and/or implants on the bottom, too, and he tugged on my teeth, then said no, I don't think you will.   Which leads into this: while they were taking xrays of that tooth, they got the one next to it, too,  the one that occasionally aches for no apparent reason, and the dentist said Well, you've got some infection under that tooth, and you've already had a root canal done there, so I think you need to have an implant put in.

See the progression?

Which is where I start to feel like an eight year old again. And I just want to hide.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012


And people say chamber music isn't accessible.....

Found here.


Found here.

Zen Pencils

Mal de Dent

A couple of months ago, I had a filling come out.  When the guy replaced it, he remarked that it was pretty big, and if it had problems, he'd want to put a cap on the tooth.  Okay, no problem (though I know from sad experience where that can lead). 

About a week ago, I started to have intermittant pain in the tooth next to that.  After a few days where it would come and go, I went back and had him look at it.  He had all sorts of good news. First, the filling was coming out, and yes, he did want to do the cap. (That always sounds so lightweight!)  But the xray also showed the tooth next to it, and, hey, is that some infection down there, under it?

So now I'm getting an implant there.  Which is no big deal, really - speaking as someone who's got a full upper row of them (though now I know that even though there are seven implants up there, only two are actually 'in use'; delightful.  I paid for that. ) - but it means I get to go to two dentists a total of five times, if I'm lucky. Twice for the cap.  Three times for the implant.  The first is particularly cool -- it's a 'consult', which I think is dentist-speak for 'here's a chance for me to make you pay for the time I take to tell you that yeah, you need an implant'. And possibly lay a load of guilt on you, at the same time.

Have I mentioned how much I hate dentists?

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Now that's an awesome brother....

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Several months ago, we noticed that the cordless phone, whose base is plugged into a kitchen socket, was having static problems -- sometimes, severe static problems.  Another phone, plugged into a socket in a different room for the same phone number, did not have problems. At first, we thought that the problem was with the phone itself -- the other phone being plugged in was a regular landline handset - but after plugging the landline handset into the kitchen socket -- static -- and the cordless base into the other socket - no static - we concluded that it must be something to do with the physical wire from the junction box to the kitchen socket.

I just poked my head into the attic crawlspace. Oh yeah, I forgot - , we have layer of blown-in insulation up there. We suspect that when the guys were doing that, they did something to that wire.  So, we think, replace the wire.  How hard can that be?

When we had the kitchen remoded, I got to go up into the attic, pull the wire across the rafters, and drop it down into the channel where the new socket would be.  It wasn't easy, but it wasn't incredibly difficult.  Now I'm fifteen years older, twenty pounds - easily - heavier, and much less limber. Plus, of course, there is blown-in insulation everywhere.

I am sure that it's possible.  Got any trained chimps?

Thursday, October 25, 2012


I dislike crowds.  But there are times.....


You wouldn't think that someone who looks like this would be both funny and terrifically insightful.

He is, in fact, both. And well worth an evening of your time.  If you have the chance to listen to the thoughts of a nationally known politician, or listen to the ramblings of Henry Rollins.... choose Henry.  No kidding. His Capitalism tour is amazing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I'm starting to assume that Romney is going to win, and wondering what that will mean for my future.  Outside of the obvious ha you just THOUGHT you were going to get the same health care as the rest of the world!!!

Yeah, except that.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


This, from the Not Always Right series of sites, is a good example of what I see as a well-motivated but poorly thought out idea.  That you can't take a picture in a public area of your own child....stupid.

Children’s water play park
Buckinghamshire - England

the water park i work at has a strict, no photography rule while at work i see a man standing next to one of our signs with a digital camera, so i approach him..
ME. Sorry sir you cant take photos here,
MAN. Why not?
ME. its a privacy issue, other parents might not like it if you get their children in the background
MAN. okay
(2 minutes later i see said man with his camera out again and i approach him again)
ME. Sorry sir i’ve told you once already, you cant take photo’s here
MAN. i’m not, look
(he shows me the screen of the camera to show me that he’s not taking photos … he’s filming. i have to explain that he is not allowed to film either)

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I wish that I was smart enough to work at Valve.

A Measured Reflection

I am simply amazed that, once again, significant numbers of my fellow citizens -- or, as I like to think of them in this case, idiots, though lemmings works, too - are once again thinking that yes, conservative policies will make their lives better.  That the efforts to save the country from the effects of the last conservative administration were worthless -- the revitalization of Detroit, the saving of banks from foreclosure, the maintenance of Wall Street, all of it.  And of course, that the idea that insurance companies should be allowed to decide what to cover, and what not, just, as the saying goes, when you need them the most -- yes, that, too. They are not just simply drinking the Kool-Aid, they're bathing in it.  Those who bathe, anyway.

Its possible that Obama will win.  I hope he does.  If there is any justice in the world, he will. And if he does, I hope he takes a leaf from Romney's playbook -- and shafts those bastards.



Guess who is spending four of the next six days in a hotel in Virginia, visiting his daughter?  Guess who woke up with a might be/could be/hope not toothache?  Guess whose dentist is out of town for five days?

Guess who, on an upcoming road trip, is taking a big bottle of Advil, and Thinking Good Thoughts?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Doing the Math

I think the part I like the best is his expression when he says the very last thing.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Corps

It now appears that my daughter may stick with the Corps for the full year.  Apparently, things are better now, and she's noticed that upperclassmen seem generally happier than freshmen, so hanging around to become one -- which, technically, you are for the last month of freshman year - is not out of the question.

I am astounded.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


How weird is it that I enjoy reading books about French grammar, but I really don't 'get' much of what they're saying? Yeah..I think so too. Does that stop me?  Heh.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Did you think of the Budweiser jingle, too?

Tuesday, October 09, 2012



Watching Obama's projected lead shrinking.... feeling hyperglum as I see health care slipping away. 

Monday, October 08, 2012


This is, of course, a parody.  Never happens.  In either direction.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Now you see it...

Driving home from the college yesterday, my daughter realized that her phone would not turn on.  This afternoon, we took her to get a new battery installed.

This evening, she lost the phone.  We think it's within a quarter mile of the house.  We think.


Some cheer squads are better than others.


This story comes from Not Always Right, and it happens in France.  It could have happened anywhere, I know, and if it had happened to me, I wouldn't have been as pleased as I am now, reading it.  Still, I like it.

(Supermarket | Montpellier, France)
(At the checkout counter, a mother and her son are behind an elderly lady in line. The kid keeps bumping on the elderly lady with their shopping cart.)
Elderly Lady: “Excuse me, young lady, could you please tell your son to stop pushing your cart on me?”
Mother: “No way! You must not upset children! That’s how they get traumatized!”
(The mother indeed does nothing to stop her son. Suddenly, another customer—young man standing in line behind them—takes a jar of jam, opens it, and pours it on the mother’s head.)
Mother: *shocked and dripping with jam* “Are you CRAZY? What the h*** are you doing?”
Young Man: “Listen, lady. You see, I was also raised like this, with no limits. I did everything and whatever I wanted… and I still do!”
(The mother quickly leaves the store with her son, angry and covered with jam. For the record, the elderly lady insisted to pay for the jam.)


(This is lifted directly from PVP because it is so awesome.)

It’s been a year since Steve Jobs convinced the world he died even though I know that he’s secretly alive and creating a glass and titanium space station where his chosen will be called to join him shortly. The rest of you, condemned to live outthe rest of your life on earth, should try to remember that Steve Jobs never compromised and always lived his life on his own terms. He set out to “put a dent in the universe” and he did it by destroying anyone that got in his way. That dent, I’m told, is viewable from our new orbital utopia and I can’t wait to see it.

Thursday, October 04, 2012


" My fish died when I wasn’t home. Asked my cousin to give him a proper flushing. 
She sent me this."
Found here.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Owning a Canadian

This is several years old, but I still like it.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Minor Point

We've been trying to go to the local gym every couple of days.  We don't do a lot - perhaps 20 minutes -- but we do it consistantly.  We missed the last two days due to travel and other committments, so we went today.

I did 20 minutes on the eliptical alone, at a higher rate than I've been going, and then I cooled down on the treadmill for another 10 minutes.  I am mildly pleased.

Just Sayin'....

Found here.

Want my Cornbread?

Intrigued by the difference of attitude between the parents of college students (corps of cadets)  who've just completed a long hike (~10 miles) and the students themselves.  The parents are all yee-hah, outstanding, so very proud, go for it;   the students are more subdued, laconic.  Course, they could just be tired, or maybe they just don't want to be seen agreeing with their parents.  My daughter said MREs aren't all that bad, but "don't eat the cornbread - it's nasty!"


From the Unshelved strip.


I once had a coworker who had had polio as a child, and who, consequently, lived in a wheel-chair during the day and an iron lung at night. (I didn't even know that iron lungs were still in use.  Or even if they were still called that. ) 

His motorized wheel chair had two batteries -- one to power the chair, one to power a breather apparatus.  One day, a coworker came back in from the parking lot and said he was calling AAA because his car battery was dead.  I suggested that my other friend motor on out and use one of his batteries to start the second guy's car.  He would of course, have to either immobilize his chair or 'frog-breathe' while this was going on. The second guy was aghast, but the guy in the chair thought it was pretty funny.

The chair had two speeds.  We called the second 'turbo', but it really wasn't all that fast.  We wanted him to buy a Saab wheelchair, which he said would  go faster.  Not as fast as we wanted, though - we thought he should have a chair that, when he hit turbo, would rock back and have flame shoot out the rear.  Now that, we thought, would be cool.

But that was before I saw these.  In particular, the Boss Hoss.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Friday, September 28, 2012

And a little child....

This occurred on a bus in Canada. A bunch of young men are talking loudly in the bus and using a lot of expletives. They’re also with a female passenger who is apparently their friend and is black.

Young Male Passenger #1: “Yeah, she’s such a f***ing b****.”
Young Male Passenger #2: “Because she’s a black c***!”
Young Female Passenger: “What?!”
Young Male Passenger #1: “Yeah!”
Young Male Passenger #2: “You black c***s can be f***ing—”

(At this moment, a boy of around age 7 gets on the bus. Hearing the rude conversation, the child immediately makes his way to the back of the bus and stands right in the middle of this group, as if challenging them to continue talking.)

Loud group: *stays completely silent for 5 seconds*
Young Male Passenger #1: “…Okay, never mind.”
Young Male Passenger #2: “Um… I meant… you black ladies are… pretty crazy. Yeah. Pretty crazy at times.”

(They stopped using offensive language after that, at least until the young boy’s parents called him back to sit with them!)

Found here

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012



I have never seen a fireworks display that was this good.  I believe that it's called a Girandola, from the man or family who makes them.  Based on this, whatever they're paid, they're worth it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hey, Butch?

Butch and Sundance?

Sundance, News Carver, the Tall Texan, Kid Curry, and Butch
Found on WikiPedia, here.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Oh, Yes.....

Found on this blog.


I'm not a big fan of coarse humour......but this is funny.

No Place Like....

Friday, September 21, 2012

Some USBs...

...are better than others.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


When my mother lived with us, she had the habit that when she had something she would need to do -- not routine things -- she'd write a note about it.  Sometimes, she would underline key words in the note.  We always thought it was a bit funny - why would you need to write a note?  And underline it, too?

This morning, thinking about a call I need to make to Verizon to cancel some service.... I wrote a note.  I didn't underline anything.... but I did make a little arrow.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012


My daughter just discovered that the guy who likes her.....really likes her.  He's known her for three weeks, and he thinks he's in love with her.  As I mentioned, she was astonished when he kissed her, but there's more.

Turns's out that he's a Satan worshipper. He says he doesn't tell many people, because they think it's about worshipping evil, and it isn't.  Oh, and he says he's a witch, too.

She's told him thanks, but no thanks. And for at least a while, she's going to arrange that everywhere she goes, she has a friend or two with her.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Got a call from our daughter tonight.  She seems to have settled down from the other day, which is good.  Her classes are going reasonably well, too.  But the big news is that she was asked by another cadet if she'd like to date him, and when she said yes, he kissed her, much to her astonishment.

Oh, my!

Monday, September 17, 2012


My daughter just called,  in tears. She was distraught because two upperclassmen at once yelled at her. ( I know, the official position is that upperclassmen don't yell, they speak firmly and loudly.  I figured two girls in their late teens know the difference. )  Either way,  I'm sure the supermoms on the Facebook page would say This is good, she needs to learn how to handle stress, not to mention idiots.  And that's probably true. She does need to be able to handle that.   But right now, all I can think of is Harry Truman's response to the guy who wrote a dispararing article about his daughter...


Found at Yellowdog Granny.


Sunday, September 16, 2012


An article in the online version of Inc magazine mentioned ways to motivate employees for not much money. One was having office celebrations. This was their article's illustrative photograph:

Southern California, possibly. Elsewhere? I kind of don't think so.

Gamers and Star Wars and Such, oh my.

I'm not a gamer (though I'd like to be, I've just never gotten into it, because the idea of hanging out with a bunch of stocky people who fixate on Playstation vs XBox vs Whatever Just Came Out  doesn't fascinate me).  And I'm not a Star Wars freak, for pretty much the same reason.  Finally, I'm not a graphic artist - I don't get much of  the technical detail which motivates people like that, though, like many others, I know what I like when I see it.

And this, I like.  I am in awe of the capabilities of such people.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Call Us

Things like this -- they just delight the heck out of me.


I'm a long way from being one of those people --you know, those people -- who believes that the government is spying on him, particularly.  Yet I do believe that the government is, more and more, accumulating information which can be used - maliciously probably isn't the right word, but certainly in a way that decreases the probability of my liking the result.  I know, they say this information is kept completely safe, only used for authorized purposes, yada yada yada.  It only takes one overly broad Supreme Count ruling, or one hacker's leak of information, or one bureaucrat to decide that yes, national security, or his own curiosity, or something in between, warrants invading my privacy.

So, though I don't act on what he says, I tend to read this blog

Friday, September 14, 2012


When I read Old Man's War, by John Scalzi, I thought not bad.... kind of ran out of the justification for the catchy title fairly soon, but the rest was okay.  So when I saw he wrote a sequel, The Ghost Brigades, I thought, Well, sequels usually suck, but the beginning of that other one was good, so....

This one, the whole damn book is good.  Decent characters.  Believable aliens.  Plausible cliff hangers.  And a villain who isn't stupid or exceedingly arrogant.

Apparently, not everything he's written is good -- there's an excerpt from a novel called Redshirts, on his blog, and it reads like something from fan fiction -- but The Ghost Brigades is quite good.

Jesus and Mo

Practical Chemistry


Any day that starts with a Skype call from my daughter is going to be a good day.  Strange to see her in the cadet dress uniform, though.  It's not quite like she's playing dress-up.....

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Just Keep Going?

Short of a blowtorch, how would you get this guy out of here?  (for that matter, how did he even get in?)


Astonished tonight to read a Facebook post from a french correspondant, at the end of her Irish vacation, listing what she misses.....and the list included me!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I found this list here.

  1. Reduce the deficit to less than 3% of GDP by 2015 and chart a course for balancing the budget by 2020
  2. Reform our Medicare and Social Security programs to cut costs and ensure their sustainability
  3. Simplify our tax code to improve fairness, reduce compliance costs, increase participation, and increase revenues
  4. Increase investment in public education, vocational programs, and job retraining to create real jobs and ensure a level playing field for all Americans
  5. Reduce our dependence on non-domestic fossil fuels and encourage lower carbon alternative energy sources.
  6. Affirm my obligation to put our country ahead of party and personal interests
and I think yeah, that'd be nice... But realistic?  Any one of those - at least, 1 -5 - is a whole 'nother 'health care' issue, with legions on each side.  Not to mention that my definition of what's needed for each, when it comes down to brass tacks, might not be the same as yours.  Is 'chart a course' a way of saying 'slash government?' Is 'cut costs and ensure their sustainability' a way of saying 'and cut Medicare, too?' Does Simplify mean 'reduce taxes'?  All of these have interpretations that I agree with, and interpretations that alarm me.

And yet....


Well, apparently I was wrong.

The massive effort by Republicans to purge and scourge the voter registration lists in Florida has actually found clear and irrefutable evidence of illegal voting.

One guy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sunday, September 09, 2012


We've been talking a lot, in fits and starts, with our daughter lately, so it wasn't a surprise to get an email from her. But the contents -- that was something else.

It was titled Thanks.

Hey so right now im listening to my roommate argue with her mom about how when her mom has something wrong with her account she takes the money out of my roommate's account (she's 17 until november) and i just wanted to say thank you for never doing anything like that and always being there to pay for things (as bad as that sounds) since i never had a job and it means a lot that you suppported me this much.

Handling the Truth

The title refers to this climactic scene from A Few Good Men.

Colonel Jessup is probably right.  Most of us don't really want to know what it takes to provide the ultimate line of defense.  We don't really want to know how mentally and physically hard someone has to be to stand a post in a lonely, hostile environment.  We don't really want to know what it takes to identify terrorists -- or how often we fail in that task, either letting an actual terrorist go past or falsely imprisoning someone who isn't one.  We're a little uncomfortable at the idea that someone spent a period in a jail compound when they ought not to have been there, but - well - that's just the way it goes. Because we would rather be wrong, and imprison the wrong person, than be wrong, and let the real terrorist go.  Similarly, when we send people to places like Afghanistan, we don't want to know how harsh it really is, how blasted our people become, how often we're seen as the invading enemy.  Sending troops is seen as the right thing to do because - well - that's sometimes all we can do.  It worked in Germany during the 40s, right?

I accept that.  I think that way.  I know it's not entirely right, but I don't know of a better way.  Everything else feels like we're just giving up.

But when I see people say that we need to toughen up cadets - who are in college, not boot camp - because they might eventually end up in Afghanistan, and we need tough people there - well, then I start to wonder about the mind set of the people running the military program in the college.

Say Ah

Daughter tells us that she's sick; others on her dorm floor, too.  She's dizzy, has a 'conceptual fog'.  And she's thinking that she wants to cut her hair, but if she doesn't like it, she can't regrow it until summer.... unless she quits the Corps.  Which she can do as of October 6.  It's a lousy reason, of course,  especially since she's kind of somewhat to a certain extent getting into it, bonding with some of the other cadets...

Until I read in the parents Facebook account about a kid who had to march for 2 3-hour chunks for a) talking in her own room with the door open, and b) not having her shoes lined up neatly. (No, not mine; this was another kid.)  And see a response about how this is good, it teaches them discipline, teaches them how to follow orders.

And then I think Quit the Corps?  Here, let me help you pack.....

Because that kind of thinking is just plain stupid.  Demerits, sure.  March for three damn hours for one freaking demerit? Give me a break. We're not trying to train Seals here. 

Saturday, September 08, 2012

You Can Read Music you scrolled back up to the top, just like me.....

Friday, September 07, 2012


I just read about the girl who posted on Twitter that Obama should be assassinated. The article says that she was flamed unmercifully, and will always carry the tag as the girl who asked for her country's president to be killed.  The first pleases me; I doubt the second will actually occur.  At least, always.

The article, in The Economist, went on to say that several people urged treating such wild-eyed idiots with grace and compassion.  It said that we should not forget such stupidity, but we should forgive it.

I find it hard to agree.  This kid is echoing the snarls of the rabid right.  I would like to believe that, as in the children's stories, treatment with grace and compassion will lead them to understand that they are wrong, both in their holdings and what they urge.  But I doubt strongly that such will occur.  The ferocious right has one goal, and that is the removal of Obama from office.  No matter what he has done well, it hasn't been done to their satisfaction, and no matter where he has failed, the failure is an indictment.  They want him out, and nothing will satisfy them but that.  They have no limits to their vitriol.

The article says that they can be shamed into realization that they've gone too far, but I don't see that, at all.  I think these people have clearly lost their minds. Grace and compassion?  I'd like to see them shipped to a gulag. Which, of course, makes me just as rigid in my thinking as they are.

Part of me says we are in this together, we should try to understand, they might be at least partially right. But most says I don't WANT to be in it with people who think like that, the things they are right about are vanishingly small, I don't see THEM trying to understand ME, plus, they're freaking crazy people!

We need adult supervision, but the adults are either dead, marginalized, seen as irrelevant, or on the sidelines, egging us on. 

Tuesday, September 04, 2012


I need this shirt.


Saw a BBC show called Copper last night, about a policeman in 19th century New York.  It's dark, but not all all bad.

Sunday, September 02, 2012


This evening, I had a surprising and somewhat unpleasant experience.

Basicallly, I suggested on a Facebook page for parents of Corps of Cadets parents that perhaps some ways in which the corps operates could be improved - for example, a more supportive, less distant approach from the upperclassmen would benefit both them and the freshmen.  Three of the others jumped all over me, saying that of course everything was wonderful, this is how its always been so of course it's perfect, I just didn't understand,  and anyway if I didn't like it maybe I should just go tell the commandant.  So much for a friendly and open environment.

I quit the group.

Hours later, the experience still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. 

Saturday, September 01, 2012


We were surprised this evening to receive a Skype video call from our daughter.  I've been in the habit of leaving Skype up, since one or two of the French people with whom I speak will call spontaneously, but we didn't expect this.  We had a pleasant if wandering conversation, but it left me feeling a bit unsettled, because she is still thinking that she's going to want to leave at the end of the current phase of their training.  She typed a message to me, so that her room mate would not hear her say it, to the effect that she wants to discuss it when we set her again.  We would be surprised if she has changed her mind, though it is possible: she mentioned that she does not respect people who commit to the year, and then leave before the year is up. Yet she does not enjoy it, and does not see the point to some of their rituals.  She's been through difficult environments, had people yelling at her, but it was always in support of a goal that she could see, and even when she did not enjoy the experience -- which was frequently -- she could see that their goal was her improvement.  Here, she cannot see that, and so she wonders why stay? 

I don't want her to stay, and I don't want her to go.  It's her life, and I'm not just saying that.  As I put it to her, she would not delight us by staying, or displease us by leaving.  This is her decision.  What is important is the education that she is there to receive. In the Corps or not, she would get that.  She'd lose the structure that she wants from the Corps, but at the moment she questions the validity of that - for example, the Corps says they stress study, requiring four hours of it a night -- but sometimes, when the cadet just wants to sleep, because they've been nodding off in class, they cannot -- Corps rules for new cadets are that they stay up until 11PM, no exceptions. We like the idea of structure, but we like the idea of sleep, too -- especially for a kid who has always been reluctant to acknowledge the need for enough of it.   Leaving the Corps would mean losing the possibility of a commission at the end of it -- and that's all it is; they do not guarantee the commission.  That, in turn, would mean that she would have uncertainty at the end of college, like everyone usually does; she doesn't like uncertainly, but - well, that's four years from now.  A lot could happen.

And yet, the thought of her leaving does bother me, and I'm not sure why.  I think it's because I'm concerned that she will feel like a quitter, with all of the negative baggage that that entails.  And yet, if she chooses to leave, I will support her, because I think it will be the right thing to do.  How can doing the right thing make one feel like a quitter?


In kind of a strange mood today.

For one, today is the first day of my wife's retirement.  She's being fairly low-key about it, and indeed intends to find another job.  And, of course, she's normally here on Saturday.  But somehow, today feels - different.

For another, we never did hear from the guys who were supposed to come out and estimate costs for mowing our yard.

And, I've been exchanging notes with a conversation partner who's having some problems in her life.  My daughter said that this happens so often to me, I must be planning to set up shop as a life counselor to French people.  Not quite.  But yeah, it does kind of feel that way. I like this person, but man, she has problems.

Plus, this election scares me.  I think the GOP is going to buy it. 

But mostly, it's this college thing. College itself going well. She likes most of her classes. But the Corps of Cadets thing - uh, not so much.  It's hard to get a clear picture of what's happening down there. My daughter says she is over wanting to be in the corps - their style of operation doesn't appeal to her. Looking at the Facebook page for the parents of cadets, there's a lively discussion about whether the Corps is doing things well.  Most of the comments are from people who are gung-ho, love the corps, pressure makes diamonds, all of that. (Okay, no one actually said that.  But that's the feeling.) It gets on my nerves, a little.

I wonder whether, on October 5 (the first day she can leave the Corps without paying a heavy financial penalty) she'll be moving.  If she does, that will blow her plan of trying for the military (well, except for OTS, but that's a long shot).  If she quits, will she feel like a loser?  If she stays, will she feel trapped?  We did think that this would be a chance for her to get used to how the military thinks, but it didn't occur to any of us that she might hate it.

Stressful period for us, more so for her.  

Friday, August 31, 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I gave up.

After a summer of trying to keep up with the grass, I gave up.  Ten minutes ago, I picked a mowing company out of the phone book and said come cut this stuff. Because this is ridiculous.  I last mowed one section of grass three days ago - and today it's thick enough to cause my electric mower to stall out repeatedly -- sometimes, a foot at a time.

Next year, I don't know.  Maybe we'll take our chances again.  Maybe we'll buy a self-propelled gas mower.  Maybe even make the leap to a riding mower.

But for this year, the war is over, and I lost.


This is from a comic strip called Jesus and Mo. I really like it. I suspect that hardcore Believers won't, but those with a sense of humor -- I think they would.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

Cette Semaine

Going to be a tough week.

Daughter's grumpy over her proto-military experience (though, hey, she may have found a way to compensate).

Wife's emotional from impending retirement (but this evening I gave her the first three seasons of a beloved show to ease her transition).

I'm going to the dentist tomorrow to find out why one of my implants is occasionally painful.

And tomorrow I talk with a French conversation partner whom, I just learned, might be - well, I won't use the graphic high school term that comes to mind.  Let's just say she's not the quiet, innocent person I thought she was.

Back Again

We went down to see our daughter this weekend.  It was ... interesting.

At first, she told her that she was thinking about quitting the Corps.  Last week was much harder than she had thought it would be, and she did not like the mind games that they played on her.  Like, giving them, literally, one minute thirty seconds to use the bathroom.  (It wasn't until one girl complained, saying 'We aren't boys, we can't just whip it out', that they got a whole two minutes thirty seconds. ) Or, bringing in the marching band to play for them while they were having lunch.... but then insisting that they had to stand and cheer, cheering time being subtracted from their eating time.

Then, after sleeping without interruption for about ten hours at the hotel, and having a decent breakfast, she was relatively cheerful, talking about whether she should pick a college focus that was what she wanted, or what she thought the military might want.  (She decided the former. Good for her.)

She still has to do stupid things, like saying Good morning to each upperclassman she meets, naming them, and doing so in alphabetical order of their names.  She can only leave her room going to the right, so that if the room she wants are to the left, she has to go all the way to the end of the hall, turn, go all the way to the other end of the hall, turn, then into the room - and if she goes past, she has to do the whole circuit again. Things like that. Not just new cadets, either. One senior, standing in a line on the edge of a parade field, watching the new cadets march by, fainted; my daughter said she would unquestionably get into trouble.  Seems harsh, I said.  You sure? She nodded.  They told us, you faint, its because you didn't drink enough water. Your fault.What if it was because you were sick, I asked.  She shrugged.  They'll assume it was your fault unless you can prove it wasn't.  They made my roommate march when her foot was so swollen she couldn't get it into her shoe. Finally she got to see a doctor, who said no marching or running for a week.

But today is the first day of classes, and while she is in the academic building area of the campus she doesn't have to play those games, or even wear a uniform, per se (just khaki pants and a polo shirt with the Corps logo on it) so perhaps life will get a little better for her.  If you can call encountering college-level classes for the first time better.
Update: She just called with a question.  She says her first day was okay but awkward -- no one talked at all in her classes, and she's usually the only cadet in them.  They'd been told that civilian students usually are not initially sure how to react to then.  And thats with the casual uniform.  When she called, they'd just been told to change into cammo. Why?  She had no idea.  Because. 

Anyone who's been in the military has gone through that kind of nonsense, and sometimes, it really does have a good reason.  But it hurts to see your intelligent, skeptical-of-authority daughter going through it.  Which is why we told her: give it a fair shot.  Then, if you want to get out of the Corps, go for it. But give them a chance, first. 


... reading is better.