email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Too Busy Too Early

Ever stayed up a few late morning hours just waiting to get some things done?  That was today for me.  Got to the bank to get some account management done, got out just in time for the barber shop to open.  Got to the Home Depot DIY store to get a cordless string trimmer recommended by Consumer Report magazine (and they {HD} sure don't make it easy to make sure the model number was the same).

Back home, hearing the weather forecast was for possibly extreme rain, I got the mattock out and redug a drainage ditch from the patio downhill (its at the bottom of the sloping backyard - one of those things you don't see in The Garden Tour). 

Then I stopped to dig out seeding thistle plants from the place I need to plant the zinnias.  And then, why not dig out the grass popping up in there too.  So, being tired and dirty already (and expecting heavy rain) I went out front to drag all the CRAP covering the storm drain (being at the bottom of the drain slope is no fun).  And if you EVER look at a property that mentions "drainage easement" run like hell!

My neighbor and I are legally equally responible for "drainage easement" maintenance, but his yard is 2' higher than mine so only I suffer from flooding.  I spent an hour wedging loose tree debris, collected mud, and general garbage to make the drain  open again.  I threw most of the junk on HIS lawn (HE's never cleaned it in 28 years)

And halfway through clearing the top of the storm drain, the rain started.  Sure, why not...  "It always rains on the unloved"...  So I finally got inside and changed all my clothes.  I was soaked right down to my socks...

And its only Noon!!!

I've opened a 1.5L bottle of my favorite cheap Zinfandel (pretty good stuff actually),  and I DARE anyone to say I shouldn't empty it.  I have leftovers from the previous 2 dinners (hot italian sausage/white kidney beans/bell peppers for one and chicken/mushroom/noodle casserole for the other, so I dont have to do any cooking this evening.

I have 3 cans of Wellness cat cans ready to go (can't ever forget the cats).

And what would be on the stereo as I type this but "Dancing With Myself".  Yeah that pretty much covers my day...

And its only 12:30 PM...

I'm not sure what I should do with the rest of the day.  I could go to bed and try to sleep til tomorrow morning, put on some soothing Simon&Garfunkle, crank up some Led Zepplin, or fade into mindless electronica CDs.

Well, there is time today, You tell me...

Friday, June 26, 2015

Movies Again

I changed it enough to repost it...

You ever have one movie that you can just watch over and over?  It may seem odd, but for me it it "The Incredibles"; the 2004 animated Disney tale.  Mr Incredible is super strong, Mrs Incredible is super stretchy, Viola can become invisible, Dash can run superfast.  Baby Jack Jack only shows up latter as being able to change his body form and elemental structure. 

They aren't the regular superhero family.  They live in surburbia under a government "superhero protection program" because superheroism is banned due to the massive destruction to property.  Mr Incredible is an insurance adjuster (who quietly helps clients beat the company rules - well he IS a "good guy") going gradually insane from the restrictions.  Mrs Incredible is a seemingly happy mother and wife (and may be showing some angst there - Disney may not have been comfortable getting into that).  The kids have powers they have been taught not to use, but do (guiltily) at times in minor ways.

There is, of course, a villian.  "Syndrome" was rejected as a sidekick by Mr. Incredible years before (having no special powers) and becomes a tech mastermind in revenge.

Mr Incredible loses his job and seeks income when a secret message invites him to "help test weapons".  He sneaks off on a "business trip".  And he and then they get into some trouble involving Syndrome...

I can't describe everything;it would take all night.  But the action never ends, the morals of the story are great, and there are scenes I love over and over. 

Mr Incredible tells his wife (Elastigirl) that he is too weak.  Weak, because he thought he lost her once and he can't handle losing her again...

Elastigirl telling the kids that they aren't going to to die out in the ocean if they just trust her...

Dash learning he can run over water (coolest single scene ever)...

Viola the first time she made the energy field after failures.

Syndrome catching the 4 Incredibles (Jack Jack shows no super ability yet and is back at home) and focuses on Mr Incredible, but then sees Mrs Incredible and the matching uniforms.  "You married Elastigirl"?  Then realizes the 2 kids and says "And you got BUSY"!  Cracks me up every time...

But I can't help thinking they were a homage to the Marvel Fantastic Four.  The leader was strong (like The Thing).  Elastigirl was stretchy (like Mr Fantastic).  Viola was able to go invisible and create force fields (like Invisible Girl), and Dash was able to move real fast like The Torch.

I liked that too.

But mostly, the action is ON nonstop.  If you haven't seen, do.

I can watch that every couple weeks always.  For some years so far...

Not to distract from The Incredibles,  but speaking of scenes in CGI superhero movies, I would like to nominate one scene from an Avengers movie as "funniest".  Loki faces the Hulk and says something like "you can't defeat me, I'm a God".  Whereupon the Hulk grabs him by both feet and beats him back and forth on the floor like me trying to break a baseball bat on concrete in a fit of rage (an allusion, don't worry that never happened).  The resulting immortal Loki is left broken and wheezing noisily and pathetically.  The Hulk walks away muttering "Puny God". 

I laugh at that scene everytime too. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Movies

Youever have one movie that you can just watch over and over?  It may seem odd, but for me it it "The Incredibles".  The animated Disney tale.

The action never ends, the morals of the story are great, and there are scenes I love over and over. 

Mr Incredible tells his wife (Elastigirl) that he is too weak.  Because he thought he lost her once and he can't handle losing her again...

Elastigirl telling the kids that they aren't going to to die out in the ocean if they just trust her...

Dash learning he can run over water (coolest single scene)...

Viola the first time she made the energy field after failures.

But I can't help thinking they were a homage to the Marvel Fantastic Four.  The leader was strong (like The Thing).  Elastigirl was stretchy (like Mr Fantastic).  Viola was able to go invisible and create force fields (like Invisible Girl), and Dash was able to move real fast like The Torch.

I liked that too.

But mostly, the action is ON.

I can watch that every couple weeks always.  For some years so far...


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Games

I love games.  The best are complicated.  I'm better than average at most but better at some than others.  I play Hearts well for example, but I couldn't win a night at poker to save my life (bluffs and counting cards are not my strong point).  My games involve tactics and some open-ended thought.  And I'm better at some in my later years than others.  I can't play chess worth a damn anymore.  But I play backgammon, cribbage and Risk pretty well.

And I've been playing a lot of Risk at Pogo.com these days in my spare time.  I learned the game at about 10, lost track of it in college as there was little time for such games with all that classwork.  Picked it back up a few years ago.

It's a fascinatng game with many ways to play.  The basic rules are that there is a world map with general nations defined.
 You need to take all the nations to win.  But there are complications.

You get armies in some nations to start.  You battle other players armies to take nations.  The dice decide the winners by repeated rolls for each army unit (and the dice are not generally good to me).  The more nations you have at the start of each turn, the more armies you get to spread around.  And if you control a whole continent (the different colors) at the start of a turn you get more (Asia gets 7, North America and Europe each get 5, Africa gets 3, South America and Australia each earn 2).

And then there are cards.  If you take any nation in a turn, you get a card.  The cards can be Cavalry, Infantry, or Artillery.  One of each or 3 or one gets you extra armies too.  So the gains are from number of nations, continents, or cards.  Deciding where to attack can become tricky.

And the cards change in value.  In one version of the game, a set of cards can increase.  They go from 4 armies and slowly increase to about 60 max (4-6-8-12-20, etc).  The nation count and continent values stay the same.  So the importance changes gradually from number of nations held, to continents held to the value of card sets.  And according to what you have, the values of each change. 

In another option of the game, the card sets are always worth only 8 armies  (8-8-8).  I don't like that game very much.  Its a game of super-cautious attrition.

So I said all this to explain THIS...  You gain player-points according to how many games you win.  You start at zero and the highest score I've seen is about 30 million.  I have 6.5 million.  Which is higher than average but no great shakes.

I lost almost 20 games in a row (meaning among 4 or 5 players I did not come in first even once.  So in frustration, I retreated to the game option of playing only "bots" (like playing the computer at chess).  I knew I was losing something at the strategy of the game.  I played the bots several games per night for a week. 

The Bots aren't pushovers.  They can calculate odds of winning any individual battle between nation armies better than I can.  But they can't (yet) think all that well strategically.  They can decide (for example) that they are likely to win a specific battle, but not hold a continent for that bonus of armies.

And here's what I didn't mention.  If you kill all the armies of a particular color, you gain all their cards.  Ans later in the version of the gain I like to play, that matters.  So I spent a week playing the bots to teach myself to focus of the continents and killing the colors (Bots). 

I lost the first couple games because I was still focused on the individual battles.  Then I learned to look at the long-term.  I gathered my armies not to hold nations but to kill off the Bots to get their cards.  Then I won every game.

If you've ever played pool, you learn that it isn't enough to sink the next ball, its where you are placed to sink the following one.

I rejoined the human player group 2 nights ago.  I won 5 games in a row outright against some 20 million point players.  They knew me and my history of losing lately.  They were NOT thrilled.

I don't expect the winning streak to last.  The other players will adjust.  They didn't get their many points by being stupid! 

But I'm sure gonna enjoy the winning while it lasts!  LOL!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Garden Enclosure

I finally got the tightening on the chicken wire right.  It wasn't easy.  With new things, sometimes you gotta do it wrong a few times before you get it right.  But I did.  Now I have the tops as tight as is possible.  The two other sides will be easy.  The chicken wire there will just hang.

And because I have the top complete, it means I don't have to worry about dragging wire across the beds so I can finish planting corn and beans and cukes.  A bit late for this year but I'll get some harvest.  Next year will be the real start under the enclosure.

My tomatoes are doing very well.  I have 8 heirloom tomato plants in cages, one hybrid Big Beef (for backup if diseases hit) and a cherry tomato for snacking.  The bell peppers are growing well.  And I have 2 whole beds now for Fall crops of Bok Choy, Leafy Celery, Radishes, Spinach, etc.  I'll plant some garlic in a back row for harvest next Summer.

The screen door to the enclosure still needs adjustment, but it is closable enough to keep varmints out.  The last remaining chicken wire is just going to be hung from the sides, and after all the exoerience of the top and other sides THAT will be a piece of cake.  It is SO good to be nearly done with this project.  I've had mostly better ones and this was about the worst.

Relining the pond will be simpler and I will be glad to get at that.

There is always SOMETHING.

I think that if I didn't have something to look forward to doing, I would just fold my cards and die.

But not today.

The hardest part of this projects has been the exteme physical work.  Not general hard work, but the specific work my body isn't used to.  Like pulling the chicken wire real tight by hand.  It didn't seem all that bad at the time, but my hands cramped up seriously afterwards.  I could barely prepare dinner later! 

I m sure that if I did the same work daily, it would be just fine.  But doing unusual things on an irregular basis is brutal.  It was so, bad that I couldn't hold a kitchen knife.  And since I was preparing a stir fry, there was a lot of knife-work.  I had to take 2 ibuprofen and smear my left hand with a muscle relaxing cream.  And even that took an hour to take effect. 

Nothing like hand cramps to make preparing dinner hard...

Thursday, June 4, 2015

One Of Those Days

If you are of a "certain age", you begin to worry more when you forget things or lose track of things.  I know perfectly well that I have forgotten things or lost track of things all my life, but I WORRY about it more these days.  So the last 24 hours were annoying. 

First, I lost track of a kitchen timer over the weekend.  I use it as a sleep timer actually.  My hours are irregular, so its easier to just click up 9 hours of the timer than fuss with a real alarm clock.  So I hadn't been able to find it for days.  I looked around the bed.  I looked in all my pockets.  Because I have a waterbed, I had to dig down between the waterbed mattress and the frame (find cat toys that way all the time.  I even looked in the kitchen in case I had actually used it as a kitchen timer for real

Last night, I finally remembered where it was.  I hadn't found it because I hadn't gone outside, because it had been raining for 4 days.  I had used it to time the flowerbed watering before the rains came.  So it sat out there.  In the rain.  For 4 days!  I've disassembled it and set it to dry for a week, and I'll hope it works again someday. 

Second, I bought one of those small coiled hoses to water the container plants up on the deck.  The attachment points didn't match the ballisters so I decided to mount it to a piece of plywood and attach THAT to the ballisters.  But the only right-size piece I had was unfinished so I wanted to stain and varnish it today.

Now, rather than use a brush that needs to be cleaned afterwards, I like to use a soft cloth (held in a disposable latex glove) for work like that.  I have a box full of nice soft worn-out cotton undershirts that as just perfect for that (not a speck of lint left).  I just cut off a piece from one and use it once.  So I did that and went to get my can of varnish.  I haven't seen the piece of t-shirt since!

I spent 15 minutes this afternoon searching for that damn little piece of cloth this afternoon.  Not because the bit of cloth was valuable, but I really needed to know where I had lost it.  I know absolutely that I did cut it off the old t-shirt.  And I couldn't find it.  When I got to the point where I was checking completely illogical places like the M/W oven, I stopped.  I decided that if it was in the refrigerator or someplace like that, I really didn't WANT to know. 

So when I drove off on an errand at dusk, I completely LOST it!  Backing out of the garage, I slowed down to put on my regular prescription driving glasses.  I don't need them legally but it's close enough that I wear them voluntarily.  It was a deal between the optometrist and I.  He signed off on my eye test and I would wear the glasses voluntarily.

I also I also have prescription sunglasses for the same purpose.  As I stopped to put on the regular glasses, I heard (but did not see) the sunglasses slide of the dashboard.  So, I stopped at the end of the driveway to retrieve them. 

Couldn't find them.  OK, they got under the front seat.  I felt around under there.  No sunglasses.  I checked on the top of the front seat, the sides, and underneath again.  No sunglasses.  So I turned of the car to search more thoroughly.  I checked above, below, around the front passenger seat.  No luck.  The little compartment between the seats was open, so I checked around in there.  No luck. 

I felt around the back floor.  Now admittedly, I have a cluttered car.  I'm the only one ever in it these days, so I stack the back floor with the containers of useful car stuff (its an SUV so there is no trunk for stuff like that).  And I've had battery problems so I even have an extra battery in the back.

I removed all the containers from the back floor and felt around VERY carefully.  No luck.  OK, weird stuff happens on the bounce, so I felt carefully up into the seat springs.  No luck.  At that point, I was out of places to look and some slight concern that I had imagined hearing the sunglasses slide of the dashboard.  And lest you suspect the obvious, I had carefully checked the dashboard, the glasses-holder above the rear-view mirror and all my pockets; everywhere glasses OUGHT to be.

I was reluctant to drive, because I just KNEW they would slide underfoot and get crushed.  But I had to give up.  I drove off to do my errand.  Upon returning home, I of course had to open the drivers door in order to get out.  The drivers door has an open pocket for maps and "stuff".  I looked at the door pocket with an "oh damn" feeling,  closed my eyes, and reached in.

There they were.  Sunglasses found...

Why didn't I look there while searching the car so carefully, you ask?   Because the open car door was BEHIND me!  ARGGH!!!  You don't look where you can't see...

Now the only current mystery left is where that damned little piece of cloth is...  I can't WAIT to come across THAT someday. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Mystery Computer Reception

OK, this is going to be a bit weird, so please forgive any confusion in advance.

30 minutes ago, a short story flashed onto my screen in Word.  I do not know why or how.  I do not recognize the story, I have not used Word recently, and I cannot find any email with any such attachment.  It appears to be a short story about Ayla from Clan Of The Cave Bear about her days before the books began.

I certainly did not write it myself any time because it uses letters I cannot create "Çocukdünya". it is not in my writing style , It mentions "Iza" who is a character later in the COTCB book, and an original name for Ayla (Nefeyli) that has never crossed my mind.  A Google search for Nefeyli, Iza, and Grub (another character in the received short story) yields nothing.  I am baffled.  But interested...  

If you are the person who somehow sent it to me, or know anything about this short story or author, please contact me more directly at cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT net, post on my blog, or do anything you please to contact me further.

For now, I don't care how or why it suddenly popped up on my screen, I just want to more about the story's origin and why I received it.  And anything you want to tell.  I've saved the story adding a note to the top that it is not mine so that I won't get too confused seeing it again years from now and wondering about the origin of it.

But, whoever you are, I really do want to hear from you again...

Mark 

Update:  Never mind, mystery solved.  It was an attachment I did not see in an April email .  Why it suddenly opened now I don't know, but everything is OK.

Mark