Month: October 2008

Mystery blood

While Snaotheus was logging on my Slope of Insanity last weekend, and I was chuting the logs over the Cliff of Despair down into the coulee, he found some red spots on a leaf that looked so much like blood that he asked me to see if he was gushing the fluid of life from some deathly injury he couldn’t see. He wasn’t, and I didn’t think too much about it until last night, when I noticed blood spots on my kitchen floor, just inside the door. I wasn’t bleeding profusely, either, and the dog has no new injuries, so I’m baffled as to where it came from. Do I have suicidal mice or chipmunks running inside to shuffle off this mortal coil? Should I expect a horrific visitation on Halloween? :chews nails:

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Adrenalin. . . what?

A friend of a friend recently lost her 30-year-old son when he fell free-climbing (that’s climbing rocks without ropes or tools, if you don’t know). Several of us subsequently had a discussion about the attraction of such things. It was pretty much agreed that most people seem to like the adrenalin rush, but my question was why this is so.

I have never experienced adrenalin as a “rush.” It never feels good or energizing. It’s always been triggered by barely missed danger, injury or death to self or others, and the jittery aftermath is far from pleasant. The initial jolt is far more frightening than anything else, and usually includes a big chunk of anxiety. So why do people like this feeling? Am I misunderstanding the whole thing?

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Ultraviolet symbol redux

So I walked into the dog park this afternoon. Fifteen, 20 people there besides me and at least that many dogs. Within 75 seconds, two of them had jumped up on me and rammed me. It’s a CURSE!!

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My ‘retirement plan’

Snaotheus and I were discussing the fate Grandma will face when her extra money runs out and/or she has to move to a nursing home, either of which could happen at any moment. A program apparently exists to supplement ancient crones’ incomes and she’s old enough to qualify instantly. I mentioned that my retirement plan involves running my wheelchair off a cliff at a high rate of speed. Ryan, as usual (a genuinely recognized problem-solver now), came up with a better idea.

“Mom, if you can’t work up the nerve to do that, get a gun and go rob a bank, shoot a couple people in the leg or something. Or beat somebody half to death with your cane. Then you’ll have a place to spend the rest of your life!”

Yep, I said, three squares and a bed, and better medical care than most people get! I’m all set, and the retirement jail may become a trend!!

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Symbol on my person

Snaotheus ribs me about my subject matter, which he says is restricted to my dog and my mother, but the dog park is actually a pretty interesting place. You get a rather astonishing cross-section of ‘hamsters and it’s almost as much fun to watch them as the dogs. Instantly, I can recognize the Beast Folks, those who love and know animals well. The recognition mechanism may be something like that a gay friend once told me about; he swears he can walk into a room full of hundreds of people and immediately pick out those like him. Might be something in their loose-limbed stance, too—ready for anything.

I am convinced that some sort of signal shows on or about my person that facilitates recognition. It may be a color that only dogs and small children can see, like the neck feathers on a budgie, or maybe it’s my not loose-limbed stance. But what the symbol says to these critters, in the invisible equivalent of huge neon letters, is “CLUMSY PERSON.”

Today, for instance, I brought Blue back through the dog park after an off-lead hike up the mountain (more later) and walked over to the cluster of people who always seem to stand in the middle, right in the muddiest spot; I don’t undestand this, but they do. (I had a question for one of them; otherwise, I’d’ve stayed away.) Around about four of us raced six or eight mud-clad, long-haired dogs, including two Newfies and a Bernese mountain dog puppy about nine months old. These breeds are both bears in training. Their fur looked like dreads coated with clay.

I hadn’t even stopped moving when the Bernese raced over and rammed right into me, then jumped up to wipe seriously muddy paws on my formerly reasonably clean pants. (Remember that horrid, hateful Hazen kid in that parent-kid soccer game, Snaotheus? The one who knocked me on my ass and broke my glasses? It was like that!) The Bernese’s (ineffective) owner kept saying, “Off! Off!” but not enforcing it, so guess what? He kept jumping on me, running off and racing back to ram me, and :||. Pretty soon, the Newfies decided that looked like fun. I didn’t get to ask my question, but just left. I was tired and wet anyway, even before the mud bath.

I don’t know what the symbol is, but I sure wish I could get rid of it!

In other news: I took Missy Hound about half a mile back into the hills without her lead, second time we’ve done that, and she behaved beautifully the whole time. Came when called, didn’t stray too far, didn’t get into it with other dogs or people we ran into. I was exceedingly proud of her. It might have had something to do with the freeze-dried lamb bits in my pockets… but whatever works!

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Feeling particularly smug, I am, because I have learned to knit with two colors of yarn at once—one strand in each hand. :pats self on back:

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I hate politics and I hate political reporters worse

Time for the quadrennial (?) tirade against political reporters. Nobody anywhere on earth gives a rat’s fart about what they think or about the political minutiae they shove down our throats each election season. And personally, I find it insulting and pissifying that after every speech or debate, at least as much time is taken up by the talking heads as was spent on said speech / debate, telling us what the participants actually said.

Thank you very much, but I’m perfectly capable of analyzing what they said for myself, and I couldn’t care one rat’s hair’s fart about the idiotic things you people keep hammering on. The “line of the debate” that commentators kept mentioning after tonight’s mis-named presidential debate (which I saw with several friends, all of whom hissed and booed and cheered in a most gratifying manner) was something utterly unrelated to any issue or substantive comment. Oh, puh-leeze. All of you just get lives, for *#(@’s sake!

Mentally scoring the “debate” as I would an actual contest, I gotta say Obama kicked that senile, snide, petty, angry, arrogant, obnoxious old man out of the corral. He stayed on and kept bringing said SSPAAOOM back to the issues, he didn’t stoop to personal attacks, and he consistently made his points eloquently and well. Unfortunately, that may not be a good thing among the ignorant redneck half of the country. Oh, pardon me! Is my bias showing?!?

And it’s time for the next iteration of the other election-period tirade: Taxes are what we pay to make life better for all of us. They give us, in addition to the traditional roads and bridges, law enforcement, fire departments and emergency services, social services (though not much, after 30-odd years of conservative rule), educational programs, etc. etc. A civilized country pays its damn taxes so that all its citizens—not just the wealthy and privileged—have a safety net when their lives fall apart and are treated with dignity and respect. We in America are so freaking selfish that we can’t as a society think beyond our own self-centered desires, which focus far too much on buying Things we don’t need while our neighbors go hungry. Not one of us, I believe, would deny care or food to an actual individual in need; but for some reason, when we vote, we consistently kick these individuals (who may one day be us) in the teeth because collectively they’re an amorphous Other. It’s shameful.

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Wolfie babies

The last few days, three people have brought young Irish wolfhounds to the dog park. That’s a pleasant surprise, because you rarely see them these days. These are enormous, scruffy-looking hounds with the sweetest personalities on the face of the earth. We had two when you guys were little—Ricky was 4, Snaotheus was 2, Northwood was a couple months old, so Ricker might conceivably barely remember them but nobody else would. We had to give them back to the breeder when we moved to ND because we couldn’t have kept them in a 600-sf apartment while the house was under construction. They’d’ve taken up about 200 sf all by themselves.

Ricker would stick his head in their mouths and they never blinked. Nothing bothers them much. I calculated it once; they grow 1/8″ per day. They’re the tallest dog in the world (even taller than mastiffs and bullmastiffs, though not as stocky; they’re built to run, very fast) and have a habit of getting attention easily because they can ease up beside you and you’re automatically touching their backs, which they’ll interpret as scratching (of course; what else are people for?).

Of all the breeds of dogs I’ve known and loved, I’m not sure that the wolfies don’t come out at the top. Despite their size and ability to run, they’re the most mellow, laid-back, easy-going critters ever. I wish I could have another one. Snaotheus couldn’t possibly call that a footprint dog!

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Happy dance!

Yay! I have running water and functional waste-disposal plumbing again! Yay!

And it :whispers quietly to avoid alerting smiting gods: didn’t cost anything!

The plumber dude said he thought the cap on the clean-out (what I mistakenly called a pressure valve, though I still sayit acts as one) had come a little loose. They’re torqued down to 32 psi and he thought the bit of extra pressure caused by the un-disposal-ed squash seeds going through in a lump probably caused it to blow. Which it did. To my dismay. Anyway, he said he wasn’t going to charge me ’cause he was already in the area and it wasn’t a big deal. Whew!

The chamber pot can go back to being a flower pot!

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Somebody else’s karma

Last week I got my oil changed. On the way home, the car smelled a bit like exhaust and I thought maybe they’d spilled a little oil and it was burning off. Since I don’t leave the house all that often or go that far, I didn’t think much about it until the next time I left, which was Friday, to run errands.

The exhaust smell was still there. It got stronger and changed in character. However, since what is euphemistically called a fecal sample was, er, blooming in the trunk, despite its two layers of protective plastic, it was difficult to pay too much attention to the exhaust smell. And with the windows open, both perfumes wafted elsewhere.

Finally, on the way to my last stop (the vet, to drop off the plastic-clad poo), I noticed smoke pouring out from under the hood. For some reason, I found this a little alarming; I know, I’m too much a worrywart, but there it is. By now I was pretty sure what had happened (even I know a few little bits of information about cars that, if applied at the appropriate time and circumstance, are useful) and, since the dealer had done the oil change, I was pretty torqued. In the metaphorical sense, that is.

When I got to the vet’s and transfered custody of the poo to them, I went back out to open the hood. Interestingly, the under-hood surface was so slippery I couldn’t lift it (which both annoyed me and confirmed my suspicions). Once I did get it popped—no SURPRISE! here—I discovered that they’d left the oil cap off. Oil cap. Off. Left. This is worse than leaving a hemostat in a surgical patient, since you usually have several hemostats to deal with and only one measly filler cap to keep track of.

The oil in my engine compartment would have supplied the entire country for a week. Dripping off the hood, streaming and sloshing on bits I don’t have names for, and an entire oil well in the housing underneath the latch. Totally, completely gross. So I made the call and explained sweetly to the dealer that someone was going to bring me an oil cap NOW. After leaving me on hold for 25 minutes, and announcing that they didn’t have any caps in stock so they might have to plug it with a shop rag (!!!), they assured me that yes, someone would be there momentarily.

Another half hour passed before the guy arrived, but I forgave him when he popped an actual cap over the filler. He’d stopped at the parts store to pick one up. I don’t know why that was easier than pulling one off one of the cars on the lot, but evidently he thought it was. Possibly some logic fault in my brain, thinking that would be a faster, simpler solution and one that was actually made for my car. Fortunately for all, the oil level was still good.

“And I’m bringing the car in next week so you can clean the engine compartment and run engine diagnostics, right?” I said.

“Oh, yes, absolutely!” he told me. “Anytime you want, don’t bother to make an appointment! Just bring it in and we’ll take care of it!”

Hah. Then yesterday morning, I ran some squash seeds through the disposal, which I thought spat them out awfully fast. Yep. Fast enough to plug up the outside plumbing. Why don’t these things ever happen on a Wednesday? I swear, I ought to go buy an old chamber pot and keep it under the bed.

This cannot be my own karma. Surely the gods have smited me mistakenly.

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Required reading!

Today I picked up from the liberry American Nerds: The Story of My People, for which I’d put in a request at least two months ago, so there must be a lotta nerds in B’ham. 😉 About 60 pages into it, I’m putting it on the “required reading” list for everyone I know.

The book delves into the origin of nerds (including the origin of the word, which is rather uncertain), who seem largely to be a construct dating from around the Romantic period, in which emotion was elevated culturally in reaction to the rise of mechanized industrialization. Nerds have always been around, of course—think Leonardo and Roger Bacon—, but before the period when “thinking” and “feeling” became separated from one another, we were probably just folks like everyone else, only smarter.

One recognized aspect of nerddom (nerdom?) is attendance at conventions of various sorts—sci fi, comic books, etc.—and author Benjamin Nugent (he looks like such a nerd!) makes this comment about their raison d’etre for America’s social outcasts:

You go to a con [mm. . . a pen show?] to enter an alternate universe where status is expertise on a book or a movie or a TV show, where the nerd habits of collecting and cataloguing and rating are normal and esteemed.

This book could not have been written 20 years ago, I don’t think; seems to me that the Internet is central to recognizing how widespread nerds are. When I was a kid, not only did the word not exist, but there were only a couple of us in town. I didn’t know any others ’til college, and even then not many. The ability to have contact with others like you all over the country, all over the world—I think that’s an Internet-age phenomenon.

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Wiki rules the world (the gross bits, too)

Ran across two terms in “Harper’s” this morning and had no clue whatsoever what they meant. So I Googled the first one, beer goggles. The second one, designer lady parts (to use a euphemism), so completely boggles my mind that I still haven’t come to grips with it. Here we are with global groups trying to halt genital mutilation in countries where it’s a cultural tradition, and people in the developed world are paying for it. Something tells me there’s a lot of self-hatred involved in that. Not to mention total grossness. Ewk.

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A bi’ o’ salt

After trying the five-minute mug-cake recipe, I’d recommend adding a tiny pinch of salt. Also, three tablespoons of oil seems excessive to me, although it does help keep it from getting rubbery as nuked things are wont to do.

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Five minutes to bliss

This came from a friend yesterday. No idea where it originated, so pardon the lack of attribution.

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
a small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.

Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts. The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don’t be alarmed! Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate (if desired). EAT! (This can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous).

And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world? Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!

I’ll bet it would be good with caramel, raspberry, or mint chips, too. 😀

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Seesaws and averages

Good thing: I discovered that in this climate, wheat kernels pop up fluffier and faster than they do in North Dakota. Which means you can eat more of them. Yummm.

Bad thing: One of the Pratchett books I ordered went to some unknown party, while U.P.’s Piers Anthony book came to me.

Really ghastly, horrible, disgusting bad thing: When I opened the desk drawer (in the rolltop) to get out the packing tape to pack up the above for returning, I discovered :gags and hacks: that a mouse had moved in, made a big fluffy paper-towel nest, and turned one corner into a privy. YUCK YUCK YUCK.

Neutral thing, I hope: The book package is now sealed with duct tape. It also has lots and lots of stamps on it. I hope the postie doesn’t throw a fit.

Good thing: I discovered that a flea comb is fantastic for stripping dead hair out of the dog. And it keeps it in highly compressed little packages, so it doesn’t fluff all over the place and make me sneeze and itch. And build huge fur bunnies.
Good thing: I am going to have a Social Event on Friday evening! Balloons all ’round!

Good but surprising thing: Letter from Snaotheus’s and KrisDi’s little priest saying I’m expected to be a witness at the blessed event. Wheee! Ceremonial fountain pen time!

So how does that average out? Probably a reasonably good day, except for the crapwad mouse. Yuck.

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