email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Monday, December 30, 2013

Deleting Old Emails and a Rant

Do you ever go through your emails like once a year and delete a lot of them?  And feel sad about some?

I did that last night.  A lot were routine emails of blog comments.  I keep the most meaningful ones.  But some were from a friend I had to give up on in early 2011.  In a practical sense, some people just change over a few years and you are not really friends anymore.  But this was someone I had known since college days 40 years ago. 

The break came when he wanted me to drive him to a place with A-rated plywood for his new toy train setup in the basement and carry the plywood into his basement.  I have always been helpful to him and done the hard work (he says he has a "bad back" which I have reasons to doubt) watching him do things he enjoys.

But when I sat down and thought about it, I realized that he was asking me to drive my trailer 30 miles to his house, 60 miles to the wood place, 60 miles back to his house, and then 30 miles back to my house.  I checked the wood at the place he liked and found it was the same as could be ordered from the local Home Depot.  "A" grade is "A" grade.  But he would have none of that.  He likes the wood store 90 miles away from him.

I mentioned that in an email (I had to mention details in email because he just evades conversational disputes of any sort).

He responded that I was "mean and hurtful and don't contact me anymore".  OK, he does this every few years.  I usually reply in a way to jolly him out of his unhappiness.  He HATES having his plans questioned even when all the work is being done by others. 

And my initial reaction was to get him "happified" again.  But you know what?  This time I didn't.  I unloaded the personal shotgun on him.  I told him how insensitive he was, how demanding, and how unreasonable he had become over the years and had become worse.  I told him that when he needed help around the house and yard, he had me.  But when I needed help around the house and yard, I still only had me.  He eventually replied "How do we re-engage"?   Re-engage?  That was "goodbye jerk" and I made that clear.  And that's the last I heard from him.

But as I was going through the old emails, I found a few from him still there.  I deleted them.  A part of my life over.  But it also felt sad doing it.  The last one I deleted was where he criticized me in return.  I paid great attention on to those 6 things a last tine.  One was even accurate (I am not really good talking on the telephone).  But that was about all he could say.

He complained that I never took him fishing in my boat the last few years.  Well he was inept and useless in a boat.  You know those cartoons where a person has one foot on the pier and another in the boat and the boat slowly moves away from the pier?  He actually did that.  And I had to to do all the work unloading and reloading the boat on the trailer every single time. He couldn't. 

He tipped over our canoe once leaning way too far over the edge in uplake Canada.  When I saw what he was doing I yelled and grabbed for the other side, but 225 pounds beats 160 pounds every time.

After I got the canoe righted and mostly bailed out, I got him back in on one side while I held the other.  I then spent an hour going down to feel around for our gear and retrieving what I could.  He couldn't because he "couldn't swim well".  The water was shallow enough for him (at 6' 4") to stand in).  He wouldn't.  He didn't have to swim, because *I* could.  

And along that line, we had to canoe back 10 miles on the open lake on the last day of our vacation to the camping station when a storm came up.  He had no idea what to do.  I did.  I was in the back of the canoe (of course) and drove the canoe quartering the waves to the lee side of the lake.  We hit shore and waited for the storm to pass. 

He complained that I wasn't a very "neat" person.  OK, My floors weren't fit of to eat from.  He used to clean his baseboards once a week and his floors daily.  Well, yeah, I'm not like that.  I'm pretty sure you can't eat off my floors safely. 

He was also angry that my family doesn't have big funeral ceremonies.  Never mind that that was none of his business, we just don't do that.  The family habit is cremation and no ceremony.  You were alive, you are dead, nice to have known you, good life and all of that.  My own expectations are the same.  Distribute my ashes around the yard, raise a glass of wine in my memory, and history goes on. Glad I was part of it.

And finally, he repeated again that I was "mean".  By that, he meant I was honest.  I told him what I thought for 40 years, I explained what I meant, and I gave reasons.  That was too straightforward and he never liked it, I guess, and I suppose it wore him out over all the years.  He considered honesty to be "mean" in that what I said sometimes didn't make him feel good about himself.

He was a constantly annoying person.  He never kept a job in one office for more than a few years because he utterly aggravated every co-worker and supervisor he encountered.  But he always had a great technical resume, so he could move on.  Every place he worked at was "corrupt" and "incompetent".  For all I know, he was right, but he never gave much actual evidence of that. I suspect mostly that he was a real "pill" to work with.

So last night, I deleted the last of his emails and went to bed.  I slept well.  Sometimes, you just have to cut connections.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Its Hard Getting Old And Fussy

A niece is getting married 2 hours away in February.  I can't get myself to attend.  The drive would be horrible to me, I hate long ceremonies, I don't like loud music, and I hate dancing.  And the whole thing is being done at night.  So I can't even enjoy any champagne if I want to drive home afterwards, and I hate driving in the dark.  I even hate ceremonies.  When I was younger, I even hated ceremonies involving ME!  I didn't even attend my own college graduation.  They say "enjoy myself" and just spend the night in a motel. 

Right, stay in a motel overnight and bring home cockroaches and bedbugs...

I love the niece dearly, but I won't drive 2 hours to a long boring ceremony and the threat of insect infestations.  I hope I'm not the only one who feels that way.  But if I am, it wouldn't change my opinion in the least.

I attended a few weddings when I was younger.  In the worst, they played 60 minutes of "personally meaningful music" before they got on to the actual ceremony, which took ANOTHER 60 minutes of pledges.  I was ready to run gagging and screaming from the room.  I won't do that again, ever.

My tolerance for long drawn-out ceremonies is even less these days.  Some of us are just NOT into ceremonies...

Monday, December 23, 2013

Short Movie Review

I watched 'Thor' the other night.  Waste of night hours, but I had to for the love of old time Marvel Comics reasons.  I seriously regret it.  Nice special effects, but anyone can do that these days.  Mostly, Thor needed a LOT more "humbling" than he received, to have the redemption he was granted.  Another example of how a few "comic books" did a better job than a whole movie. 

And Loki was just pathetic from start to end.  What were they THINKING?  Have the producers never read the mythology?   Jeez, even Odin was a bit lame. and that's pretty hard to do with the Asgardian Allfather.  Don't even get me started on the weak Destroyer.

The whole thing was a bunch of rubbish.  I had to eventually watch it to know for certain, but it really was a waste of time.  You sure can't know ahead of time what is going to disappoint, but I sure wish a future self had dropped in to say "no don't"!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Winter Solstice

Darn, I missed it!  Well, I did notice it a couple of times during the day, but only when I was busy doing something else.  I suppose that doesn't matter.  It's not like I need to do anything that day, I just like it.  But I didn't get around to posting...

It means the days will be getting longer.  And even though it means it will be getting colder for 3 months, it means that gardening season starts again in a couple weeks.  Not the planting, but the seed ordering.  And even then, it will only be 4 weeks before I can plant the first seeds in flats under lights in the basement!  After that, it's not too long to transplanting the sprouts to individual cells and then outside.

I plan to plant a lot more flowers this year.  I spent 10 years focussing on perennials for the convenience of not replanting every year, but quite frankly, most of them aren't worth having.  So many perennials bloom for a week or two and then they're done for the year.  Some bloom most of the season (coneflowers, black-eyed susans, reblooming daylilies) and I'm keeping those.  Some make quite an impact with just a few plants (oriental lilies, stokes aster).  Some are for the foliage anyway (hostas).

So I've been growing more annuals the past few years.  The season-long blooming of 30 square feet of bright zinnias is worth the hour it takes to plant them outside.
Two such patches of different color zinnias,  one of marigolds, and one of vivid salvia will go a long way and cost less than one hosta.

But back to Winter Solstice.  I like the more natural holidays, the ones that occur for uncomplicated real reasons.  New Years Day,  Summer Solstice, Thankgiving, Winter Solstice...  Near Year's Day is as artificial as can be (because calendars are completely artificial), but I like it because that's the first day of the current calendar, and you might as well celebrate a new year starting.  Summer Solstice is OK as a natural event, but somehow the longest day of the year doesn't have the same meaning as the shortest day.  At Summer Solstice, I'm not noticing the change in day-length all that much.

Thanksgiving is close to the best holiday.  Coming from a long line of farmers and having a strong sense of agriculture through history, I appreciate the importance and relief of a good Fall harvest.  Especially those crops that don't keep well (it's eat it or lose it)!  Even with year-round fresh food in these modern times, a Winter grocery store tomato is NOT the same as an August tomato from the back yard.

But I personal like Winter Solstice for the historical agricultural reasons above.  Maybe (as an ancestor) the Fall Harvest was not what you hoped it would be, but the Winter Solstice is the promise and hope of a better year ahead.  Promise and hope can keep you going in April when you are down to your last moldy or shriveled potatoes, carrots, and apples.  And lucky to have those.
(site said the image was "free")

I suppose I should mention Ground Hog Day.  It's not an accident that it is halfway between the 1st day of Winter and the 1st day of Spring.  In olden days, it meant "we've made it halfway, we can get through the other half".   And there is even a reason for that celebration.  From what I've read (disclaimer clause), Winter weather warms up earlier in Europe, sometimes starting in early February.  For pre-calendar farmers there, the emergence of hibernating burrowing mammals (hedgehogs, marmots) was a good sign that it was the time to plant the earliest Spring crops.  However, if shadows were seen (meaning clear bright days, meaning still-cold weather) it was best to wait a couple of weeks.  When those Europeans arrived in NE North America (where the climate stayed colder longer being on the eastern side of a continent), they had to adjust the timing.  And they had to adjust the animal.

So instead of small hedgehogs who HAD to emerge earlier because they had smaller fat reserves (and who don't exist in NA), they went by the larger groundhogs (2 foot tall marmots like land-based beavers without a tail, for my European friends) who could afford to check outside conditions and retreat for more hibernation if required.

So, I'll add Groundhog Day to my list of "natural" holidays even though I don't think it was a very good guide for planting (sunny days occur rather randomly in NA Winters).  A good measure of Groundhog Day sense in NA is that nobody sends Groundhog Day cards to friends.  LOL!

And lastly?  I like these holidays because there isn't much theology involved in them.  Natural and calendar events just "are" and you don't have to worry about them.  I DO like that...  :)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas and After...

The cards all addressed and mailed to cats, family, and friends, the presents sent, no more trips to the post office.  Time now to turn to those kitties and friends for whom I have only email addresses these days (and new ones I have received cards from)...

But basically, I can relax and listen to the radio Christmas songs for a week.  Thats about as many days as I can take.  I really do like Christmas Carols on the stereo, but repetitiveness wears me out fast. 

I miss the days of my youth when "Christmas Season" was just "the couple weeks before the day".

I am saving all the cards I/we have received so far to open them on the Winter Solstice Day at 12:11 pm EST.  I personally LIKE the moment of the first lengthening of days.  That what all the winter holidays center around, after all.  It's probably the oldest human holiday.  And it is a natural one.  One day is the shortest day of the year, the next is the first longer one.  I like that.  Every day past then leads me to the Spring planting season, and that is a highlight of my year.

I am already searching through the garden catalogs for the replacements of old seeds, the idea of some new ones, and the thrill of seeing the new plants grow and thrive. 

I look forward to the first flower seeds I can plant outside in February (snow peas) and the first flowers I can plant inside  at the same time (who grow germinate and grow slowly).  Thing speed up after that.  But it's the best time of year.  Harvest is great, but the starting is better.  All that hope, you know?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Chris Christie, NJ Gov

You know how some simple images ruin Presidential political aspirations?  Like Mike Dukakis riding in a tank, Jimmie Carter beating at a rabbit swimming toward his canoe, or John Kerry windsurfing? 

Governor Chis Cristie may have just had that politically fatal moment regarding shutting down some traffic lanes at the George Washington Memorial Bridge to annoy the Democratic Mayor of Fort Lee New Jersey.  Gov Christie surely and obviously ordered his political appointees to the Port Authority to do it.

They resigned, and the reason is not hard to guess.  The final act of any political appointee is to fall on his sword.  After being assured a nice job elsewhere in the politisphere...

It SEEMS that it was a petty repayment for Republican Gov Christie not getting a gubertorial endorsement from the Democratic Mayor of Fort Lee NJ.  I can imagine the telephone conversation:

Gov Christie:  Endorse me for Republican Governor!

Mayor Sokolich:  I'm a Democrat you idiot, I cant do that.

Gov Christie:  You'll pay, and yer little dog Toto, too, heh, heh, heh...

You get the general idea.  A Republican Governor demanded that a Democratic Mayor endorse him and then got pissed off when he declined for the very logical political reasons.  So he reacted in the most petty ways.  How could anyone trust someone like Gov Christie to be president in charge of the IRS and NSA after acting in such a small sorry way?  Do you remember Nixon and his use of "The Enemies List"?

Where do these people come from?  If a Democratic Governor had demanded that some Republican Mayor endorse him (with equivalent threats), all Hell would have broken loose on Fox news.  Tea Party Republicans would have been screaming for "impeachment", calling the Gov a "tyrant", and suggesting "2nd amendment solutions" (aka assassination).

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Random Thoughts

1.  Marley threw up today after chasing tossed kibbles around during my dinnertime and thats been a LONG time.  And Iza didn't which is routine..

2.  The "low tire pressure light" came on in the car, and I had just filled them.  And I checked again.  They are all at 32 psi.

3. Risk suggests you should click on the originator's icon to see the special conditions of the game.  But if you do, the game is all filled up.  So you really have to enter each game blind.

4.  Republicans are essentially merchantile or anarchists.  No other explanation for refusing to regulate the worst practices of SOME industries and the idea that people should go into bars, get drunk, and carry guns.

5.  BTW, being merchantile AND anarchistic is "libertarian".  And most Republicans hate libertarians.  They are horrified by the idea that "Someone, Somewhere, is Having Fun".

6.  Democrats can be idiots too.  Throwing money at problems doesn't always work.

7.  What happened to the idea that Congress should "govern"?  Good ideas get ignored for entirely political reasons.

8.  I had to build a high fence around my yard to keep huge viscious dogs out.  Why didn't "THEY" have to build high fences to keep their viscous dogs "IN"?  Were you ever attacked by a wandering cat?

9.  People say cats reduce bird populations.  There are more birds living on my property now than when I moved in 27 years ago because I assist them.  And I let the cats out daily. They catch about 1 a month.  Guess how many birds a hawk needs to catch every day...

10.  Playing games against a computer is essentially worthless.  If a program can't improve its odds of winning to at least 50-50, the programmer should be fired.

11.  My car battery dies in the garage about every few weeks.  Pisses me off.  On the other hand, it never dies at Walmart or Safeway.  Why is it always when it is in the garage?

12.  When you download a new program, why does it fail so often and the provider doesn't feel embarassed, and just say "sorry site down"?  So why do all the Republicans attack the ObamaCare Website?  Should Government do better than the best internet sites.

13.  Why can't I cook stir-fry as "cooked yet crisp" as a cheap Chinese restaurant can?  I sure try.

14.  When I play Pogo cribbage against the computer, it always stays even with me until the last turn, then gets a wonderful hand.  Can't they program it to play more evenly than that?  It starts to feel pointless except for the enjoyment of playing at all.

15.  Comet ISON ticked me off.  It was SUPPOSED TO BE the spectacular comet of the decade, and then and went and fell apart traveling around the sun too close.  I mean WHO was in charge of that?  Should they get fired?  (j/k)

16.  How many deer need to be killed before I can grow hostas in the front yard?  I can buy dead wild ducks at the meat store.  Why isn't venison offerred routinely.  We certainly seem to have enough deer around.

Just some thoughts...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Risk Game Report

Joined 3 games of Risk today.  Started with crap in each (the games were already started and I had little to work with).  But I felt rather coldly lethal today (Skeeter anniversary) AND fortune smiled on me.  I lost one game that was dragged out to a hard end and then one the other two from way behind against higher-rated players. 

I can assure you, THAT does not happen often.  So I think I will stop playing and rest on my laurels.  Not that laurels are all THAT soft to rest on.  But what I mean is that when you only play once a week, nobody remembers who you are.  Because they go after recent winners...  A low profile is sometimes a good thing. 

I think it would be wise to go play cribbage or backgammon for a few days.

But there is also something else.  I've learned something by watching the cats hunt mice.  You sit quietly and don't disturb the environment.  And when the opportunity arises, you pounce...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Missing Skeeter

Today is the 5th anniversary of Skeeter's death.  Losing him still hurts.  But all things fade with time, and I almost didn't remember today was "The Day" until this afternoon.  I was actually looking at regular daily pictures of the current cats to decide which to use for today's Mark's Mews cat blog post when I glanced at the date on the computer and changed my planned post.

As the years have passed, I have posted less personal and detailed memories of his passing.  It is good to remember those gone, with love, but more important to attend to the living. 

That is not to say that I can read the early posts of the cat blog without a catch in my throat about those happy years with him (and most of our years together were before I started the blog), and I still can't read the posts and comments about his death without tears.

But there was a surprise.  I finished the brief post recognizing the day, and hit "publish".  The time on the post was 3:45 pm EST.  That was the very moment of his death 5 years ago.  It was a complete coincidence...

I am not one who pays much attention to coincidences.  I find them more "interesting" than "meaningful".  But it sure was a surprise when I noticed the blogpost time!

Some of it may not be very odd.  I often post in mid-afternoon, and after 2500 posts, I'm sure there have been others posted at the same time.  But I would be surprised if there were 2 other posts at the exact same time of day about such a singular event unintentionally.  I think (without checking) that I did deliberately post at that exact time on this date previously.  This was not one of those times.

Monday, December 9, 2013

A VERY Unusual Day

It was a dark and winter-stormy morning.  In spite of that, I pulled on my "viscious-winter coat", and went into the garage, where the sled awaited.  Then, I pulled off the "viscious-winter-coat", tossed it in the front seat, and luxuriated in the medium-green Elven(ish) cloak cleverly colored to blend in with medium-green grass, medium-green rocks, and medium-green rivers.

Leaving the animals of the house to fend for themselves, off I went on an ADVENTURE.  And none like I had ever done before.  THIS adventure was to meet with a tribe of CATWOMEN, partake of their strange rituals, talking ceremonies, and eat unaccustomed foods.  I myself chose a strange meal of burned bread, tomato, and crisped bacon.  It was so thick, I could barely open me mouth widely enow to bite on it.  But it WAS raucously fare vittle!

The first part of the adventure was getting to the ship.  Amazingly, there was snow, sleet, and freezing rain.  It was a hard slog, mateys!  Snow beat hard on the mainsails and the nearly came to brittle freezing...  Lost a few good men there on the upper sails I did.

Fortunately, there was some underground traveling through tunnels.  Dark they were and we met some strange travellers along the way.  Eventually, we surfaced through the dark.  The longest staircase I ever saw in me life appeared before me.  To my relief, the STAIRCASE itself moved me upwards (the crew stayed behind and ya will hear no more of them as they was all eaten by dinosaurs or somethin else happened ta them, but don't worry about them).  The staircase called "The Bethesda Escalator" took hours.  Verily, a "stairway to heaven".  Or so I thought.  It landed me in "a parking garage"...

In discussion with some natives, I found an entranceway ta the HUGE building above the cavernous passageway, and entered cautiously.  The room was FILLED with obsequious servents.  I inquired of one where there might be the designated "lobby" wherein I might meet the fabled Catwomen, but all the poor wretch could do was point around the very room I be standing on...

So I explored around a bit and noticed a room with the name Daily Grill.  That WAS the place we would be to eating in later, so I inquired about the foodstuffs offered therein.  Fine stuff; serious meats variously cooked for the men-types, and daintier foods fer the wenches (er Catwomen).

I happened ta mention I was there fer a meetin with the Catwomen, and the servent there said my name out loud.  I was shocked!  Apperently, the Sisterhood of the Catwomen was already gathered inside!  And I had arrived EARLY to scout out the place first.  A sad day when a scouter arrives last...

I immediately made my acquiantance to them all and I tell you, it was such a fine greeting from all.  I knew them all by reputation, of course, and they me.  It was a grand round of hugs all.  I haven't been hugged like that much if a decade!  It did me good.  I immediately cast off the "viscious winter coat" and sat meself down at the table, happier than a lost kitten finding his littermates.

OK, enough of that, LOL!

I found the ladies and was glad it wasn't difficult.  I had had visions of walking around the hotel carrying the Flat Mews overhead hoping that someone somewhere would recognize what they were. 

We had a wonderful lunch, sparkling conversation, discussions about cat-blogging, some sharing of personal thoughts about "the universe and everything",  memories of "cats-who-came-before",  and (as the King of Siam said in Anna And The King of Siam), "etc, etc, etc.

I was astonished at the Flat Cats in attendance.  I had made a quick version of The Mews (best picture I could find that I printed on cardstock glued to cardboard) the night before (thinking it was pretty good), but you wouldn't believe THEM!  Three times as big, and not a bad cut edge in the bunch.  I gotta work on that, and I learned a lot just by seeing the Good ones (ALL the others).  But they all admired the poorly done Mews annyway.  Talk about "kind"...

We had a GREAT waitress!  Maybe it was a "tiny" bit because it was a really slow day (bad weather and the local Pro football team having a home game), but she really liked us!  We found out at the end of the meal that she had supported feral cats at her previous house and really liked that we were all "cat-people".  She even used all our cameras to take group pictures!

Memo to self, check Bethesda Hyatt Regency Daily Grill site and see if there is an "I love This Server" option...

 And we gave her a 33% tip... 

Now, I have to say that I am really inexperienced at meeting new people in groups after so many years living by myself.  There were Gifts.  I didn't bring any... Dang, and I "considered" at least bringing fresh Nip leafs for the kitties and Truffles for the ladies.  I decided "it was just lunch".  And Ayla even told me to bring some things.  I SHOULD have listened to her...

Well, you live and learn.

But all good things must come to an end.  We had to part eventually, after a great lunch and great conversation.  I had a WONDERFUL time, more than well-worth the trip in the bad weather.  I got on the MetroRail, had an easy trip from Bethesda to Branch Avenue (about 10 miles straight under Washington DC), had a few fun minutes scraping frozen rain off the car windows, and driving home.

There WAS a slight scare.  My "low tire inflation" light came on 7 miles from home.  Thankfully, I had no problems, but I sure with bring the air pump into the garage later today to make sure all the tires are inflated properly.  Could be a problem though.  I had the car at the dealership for regular maintenence last Thursday, and I thought tire pressure was one of the things they checked.  Not that I don't know how the check it myself, but since I thought THEY just had, I didn't bother before going out on (what was to ME) a major trip.

Now for some pictures (and you thought there wouldn't be any LOL after all these words)...

I take a picture...
Teri takes a picture with my camera...
 Group picture by the Wonderful Waitress...
All the Flat Cats (see The Mews tiny in the front?).
Cat swag...
Me swag...
I haven't had a BETTER day in years.  Glad I braved the weather...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Political Season

Just a note to say that, as the 2014 political season develops, I will be getting more political here on this blog.  I hope you all will put up with it (and especially not blame the cats at THEIR blog).

I am an unabashed Progressive (former Progressive Republican until purged in the "Reagan Revolution".  Relatively non-ideological "what works, works", mostly looking for what helps construct a financially-healthy middle-class (with upward mobility to all, but reasonable rewards for abilty and effort), and some balance on top incomes for the basic benefit of society.

In other words, I regret that TODAY'S Republicans are trying to eliminate the middle class, destroy fair voting, and suborn the functionality of general governance.

I don't say that lightly.  I majored in Political Science and specialized in Political Behavioralism (essentially Political Psychology; why voters vote as they do and why politicians act as they do).

So, part of me hopes certain politicians with certain stated goals will win; part of me realizes that those stated goals will not entirely determine the election results; and part of me sees the deeper crass strategies, lies, and dirty tricks that have nothing to do with truth and reality.

I'll be discussing all of those as the 2014 election develops.

Today's observation?  The establishment House Republicans have refused to act on any legislation for the last few months and won't until late February 2014...

Due to highly partisan re-districting (changing the borders of House districts to assure a majority for one party Gerrymandering), the House of Representatives will stay Republican for several election cycles  (The Senate is not subject to "Gerrymandering" because State borders are not changeable as in-State House Districts are).   So the "safe" Republicans House Districts mean that the winner of the party primary is nearly always the winner of the general election in November.  And THAT means that the only danger to a Republican House Member is from a more conservative challenger in the party primary election.

The incumbent Representatives don't want that kind of primary challenge, of course.  So they are playing a waiting game right now.  The deadlines for primary challenges will end in January/February in most places.  So if the incumbents actively do NOTHING for several months now to avoid a more conservative primary challenge, they are home free in November for another 2 years.

So...  When the House Republicans do nothing NOW, they aren't upsetting the more conservative base and encouraging a primary challenge.

Look for establishment Republicans to become more active and (slightly) less partisan starting in March when they are free of Tea Party party Primary challenges...

Now aren't you glad you majored in something less weird?  Like engineering or 14th century French poetry?  In politics, what they SAY never matters.  Its WHY they say it.  Words within wheels around goals, surrounded by campaign funding!

I'll try to explain most of what goes on as the election cycle progresses.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Car Troubles Resolved, Sort Of...

Well, as I expected, the dealership found no problems with the battery OR the charging system.  They also said their tests showed no "parasitic battery draw".  I guess that means they found no short-circuit using up the battery.  I thought it HAD to be one or the other, but those folks always know SOME way to explain problems away non-professionals won't think of. 

I don't drive enough!  They swear!  They say I do only local errands and that I'm just NOT driving it often enough.  I sure hadn't expected THAT as a cause, but they MAY be right.  Its a 2005 car and I've only driven it 23,300 miles.  And fewer than 2,000 miles/year the last few years. 

Basically, (they say) I am draining the battery through starting it several times in short errands and not driving it long enough to recharge the battery.  They suggested several ways to prevent similar future problems (several of them idiotic from my point of view). 

1.  I could just drive the car to nowhere and back twice a week for at least 15 minutes. 
2.  I could leave the car idling in the driveway 15 minutes twice a week.
3.  I could drive longer routes to my errands.

Do those also seem idiotic to you?

4.  They suggest I slap on a battery charger in "trickle mode".  That means recharging the battery after the usual short multi-stop errand trips and giving the battery a slow auto-shut-off charging.  But that means that twice a week, I need to find the hood opening lever in the car, prop the hood up, attach the charger to the battery, and then undo all that each time I want to use the car.  For the life of the car (which, quite frankly, I expect to last 20 years at the rate I use it). 

Doesn't THAT seem a bit idiotic to you also?

What I NEED is a plug-in car.  Oh wait, that's called a hybrid.  And I expect that is what I really need.  An electric usage for the usual very local errand-shopping where I can just plug it in each time after use; and a gas engine for the longer 2 hour trips to family events and or towing the boat on 1 hour fishing trips. 

Lifestyle choices do cause some specific demands.  But (and mine are admittedly not the routine car-usage demands), one has to adapt equipment to them.  I love my Toyota Highlander, but it WILL be 10 years old next year.  And I've read that the Highlander Hybrid will be redesigned and improved next year.  It may be time to replace it then.  I can deal with a weekly routine of keeping the battery charged up properly for a year I guess.  Not happily, but I'll consider it something like getting routine haircuts, brushing teeth, cleaning house, etc, until then.

But I'm still ticked off about the entire situation...

AND: To 'Sometimes Cats Herd You', thanks for the url to the neat gadget that cuts off battery drain.  It COULD have solved me problem if there was a short (apparently, not the problem).  I'm going to get it anyway "just in case" that solves the problem.  I'm also looking for some battery charger I can just plug into the cigarette lighter to make trickle charging easier as a backup.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Car Troubles

I'm getting tired of the battery problems!  For the past 2 years, the battery will simply and suddenly go dead.  OK, twice I left the back hatch up overnight, and once the regular door wasn't firmly closed.  Last year it happened several other times for no reason and I had the battery replaced even though the dealer said it was OK and I had no problems until this August. 

Then it happened several times again for no reason and they checked it again finding no problem.  I started keeping a boat battery in the car.   Now it has happened again 3 times in 2 weeks.  But it's always when its been sitting in the garage for 2-5 days!  A battery shouldn't discharge sitting in a garage for that short a time.

I usually need to go somewhere immediately, so I've previously jump-started it from the boat battery.  Yesterday I put my good battery-charger on it.  The charger as a display that shows the percent recharged.  It started at 13% and got up to 70% in a few hours.  And it stayed there for the next several hours!

I turned it off overnight and started charging it again this morning.  It was down to 50% already!  And it stayed there.  There HAS to be something wrong with the battery.  OR something wrong with the charging system.  Yet it seems to charge up when I drive it, because I never have a problem starting the car after a shopping trip.  I drove the car to the dealer today for a battery check and a charging system diagnosis.  I'll bet both check out OK.

I FEAR there is an intermittent short causing the battery to discharge.  Those are miserably difficult to find!  I KNOW I'm not leaving a door ajar, because for months, I've been standing there until the interior lights go out, showing that everything is shut tight.

Well, I should find out something tomorrow when the dealer calls.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Movie Thoughts

I sometimes talk about awkward subjects (more often in the past then lately).  Things that might upset some people.   So recent readers may be a bit surprised at this.

I don't watch many movies and the ones I do are usually old.  Not OLD old like 'Wizard Of Oz' but not "new" like the newest movies on HBO.  I watched 'Red Dawn' (1984, I think) tonight.  Well, sometimes the nature and science CDs start to feel repetitive, you know?

The movie is about WWIII when some collection of Soviet-based countries decide to attack the US in the "near future" *hey it was 1984 at the time of the movie*.  It had a decent explanation, not about the reasons, but about the methods. Some Coloradans decide to fight back. 

So some older teenagers/young adults were away from home hunting in the countryside when the attack hit.  With typical hollywood bravado and skill, they fought back.  They got better at it with experience.

No deaths were glorified (much), some of it was difficult, some was sad.  A person had to kill his brother after a betrayal; a young mortally-wounded woman saved her last grenade to take an enemy soldier with her; a sacrifice was made for honor...  One of the best things about 'Red Dawn' was that it ended ambiguously; no resolution to the war is provided. 

 What struck me was the practical lethality. And this is what causing me to write about this tonight. And let me state upfront that I was never a soldier and never had to face that choice of killing another human being.  But if there is something abhorrent about killing someone who is trying to kill you for no really good reason, I don't know it.

The deaths were mostly long-distance rifles and machine-guns and anonymous.  Bombs set off at distances, grenades dropped into tanks, simple ambushes.

I do not like death.  I stopped hunting deer when I killed a lactating doe with an arrow, realizing that there must be a fawn somewhere that would die of starvation slowly.  I cried about that.  I cry when I read of a cat who dies, even though all such deaths are inevitable.   I weep for the innocent...

But I just can't feel the same for those who attack other people.  One of the lines in the movie was something like Enemy: "Why are you killing us"; and the response from the US partisan was "Because this land is mine".  I understand THAT!

Killing in that situation wouldn't cause a single tear from MY eyes...  I wouldn't know the enemy's family (or beloved cats).  My conclusion after watching the movie was "I could do that easily".

Having said that, I am taking some time to decide whether or not to post this.  8:56 pm  Post or not, hmmm...  Could be a lot of objections; could be angry responses from veterans who say I don't know what killing a person is like; could be angry replies from anti-hunting people.  I'll think on it a few hours...

OK post it.  I'll be interested in the responses, if any.