email: marksmews2118 AT verizon DOT com

Privacy Notice: About Cookies

Standard EU requirements...

Thursday, September 24, 2020


 I have given some thought to the comments I received on the previous post.  In once sense, I do apologize.  I shouldn't have discussed politics among friends.  

I AM very political personally, but I usually keep that to some discussion boards dedicated to controversial subjects.  And I would be wise to simply drop it now.  

Well, who ever said I was wise?  I do want to reply.  

A commentor replied...

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” McConnell said in a statement released after Scalia’s death. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”.


And indeed many Republicans agreed.  Some even said they should be quoted about that in the future if the situation came up again.  It has. and they are reversing their positions for political convenience.


I don't care if a politician or individual is Republican or Democratic or Green or whatever in their views.   We all have the right to our political views.

What I abhor is hypocrisy.  If you support "A" today, you should support "A" tomorrow.  Even if it is not convenient or beneficial.  I do, and it is sometimes rather painful.  

For example, Senator Mitt Romney declared that he supports Trump naming a new Supreme Court Justice now just weeks before the election.  Well, he said the same thing when Obama wanted to name a Supreme Court Justice in an election year (though that was 10 months before).  But that was basically consistent and honest.


The commentor also expressed  (about the Kavanaugh Hearings) "If you don't think that was atrocious and vicious and senseless I don't know what I can say. I watch the hearings from gavel to gavel and it shames me how some people used politics and smearing lies on such a man with fine character."


The hearings focussed on contradictory statements made by Kavanough, not his character or "smearing lies".   


Kananugh had written previously that “I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule its precedent, and three current Justices on the Court would do so.”


Yet he told the Senator hearings he considered Roe “settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court".


You can't say both.  That was a hypocrisy.  


My personal objections to Donald Trump are many.  In an ordinary year, they would be about political views and programs.  But he has gone beyond  "political views and programs".


He has admitted he wants to become President-For Life. He is deliberately damaging voting systems by slowing down the US Mail and directing supporters to eliminate ballots, directing his supporters to vote once by mail and again at voting booths, suggesting armed supporters to intimidate voters, suggesting that he will not accept election results, and wants the courts and the Senate to overturn oting results.


The newest idea is that if he can delay voting results long enough, College Of Electors will be tossed out and State Legislatures will decide.   Most of which are Republican-controlled.  But that might cause even conservative Supreme Court Justices to gag.


That's why he wants a new Supreme Court Judge in place BEFORE Election Day. One more might go in his favor...


OK, I've said enough.  But I felt a response was owed... 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Can't Stay Away

I thought I would probably just stay offline for a week and see what developed after US Supreme Court Justice Ginsberg died, but there is little value in doing that. The Republican party has made it clear that they will appoint a very conservative justice to replace a liberal one.  I just didnt expect them to act so fast.

There are couple things going on here and I just can't stay silent.  The first is that Justice Ginsberg was an unusually thoughtful and careful thinker.  I always personally thought she was special.  While I don't try to read detailed legal decisions, I always found summaries of her questions and arguments to be clearer and more focused than most other Supreme Court Justices (some of whose were downright bizarre and represented political goals more than they did law).

The second is that her replacement will likely be extremely conservative and likely to tilt the Court to a degree of reactionary conservatism.  I am scared, angry, and worried about a generation of reversals of basic civil right decisions.

For the benefit of those who do not pay as much attention to The Supreme Court as they do the Presidency or Congress (as so many do not in the US and do not really need to elsewhere), here is a brief summary of the politicalization of the US Supreme Court...

In our history, there have been times when the Supreme Court nominees were very political chosen.  But after WWII until a few decades ago, nominees were generally moderates chosen for legal expertise and a sense of some political neutrality.  That was mostly because both the Democratic and Republican parties had liberal and conservative members and no extremely ideological judge could get through the Senate for approval.

As the political parties began to chose a side in "self-purging",  Supreme Court candidates became more representative of party politics.  One could blame Richard Nixon for bringing Southern Democratic conservatives and Republican conservatives together to form a new majority Republican party under the idea of "law and order" (a code word for racism and white supremacy).  Economic and liberal Republicans moved to the Democratic party which promised "a big tent".  I was one of them.

Over the next couple of decades, both parties spread apart ideologically.  The Republicans realized that taking over The Supreme Court had advantages for a decade or more (the Democrats, to my constant amazement, never seemed to catch on to that).   Republicans went for advantage; Democrats stayed respectful of the Preident's right to select Judges at all levels

In this century, timing of Supreme Court retirements and deaths has given the Republicans the opportunity to name more Supreme Court judges than the Democrats.  But it isn't JUST that.  There is a major difference between Republicans and Democrats.  

Republican politicians come from businessmen and lawyers used to fighting to win by any means.  Democrats tend to come from community activists used to succeeding by creating consensus among groups.  Republicans enjoy high-stakes poker; Democrats let their kids win at Candyland*.  Let's say both play chess.  Republicans will try a a Fool's Mate playing their Mother; Democrats will try to let their friends get a draw.  Republicans are Dad who sends you to your room for not finishing dinner; Democrats are Mom who sneaks you dessert later. 

That may be changing as Democrats see the lack of benefit by seeking consensus and getting kicked in the face for trying.   

But here's my point...  

In February 2016,  conservative Supreme Court Justice Scalia died.  It was the right of President Obama to name and expect to have approved a replacement.  He nominated Merrick Brian Garland (who serves as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He has served on that court since 1997 with good reputation).  

Republican US Senate Leader Mich McConnell declared it was improper for a President to name a Supreme Court Judge in an election year  (this was 10 months before the election).  Most all other Republicans agreed and some even swore on camera that they would never change their minds on this issue as a "matter of principle".  Because the nominee should be chosen by the next President.

Now it is 2020, only 48 days before the next election.  President Trump is demanding to name Ginsberg's replacement and those Republican Senators who swore never to allow a Court approval at any point in an election year are saying they will approve anyone Trump names within days.

My Dad hated "lying"; I hate "hypocrisy".  They are close but different.

In a way, it doesn't matter what the views of Trump's nominee are.  It is the hypocrisy of the Republican Senators who changed their views just as a matter of winning.  I am disgusted by the amorality and
hypocrisy of the Republican party in this matter.


* When I was growing up, my family played board games a lot.  Dad was lethal.  Mom probably was kinder.  But Dad never explained how he won.  He just LOVED winnng at anything.  And when I got better at any game than him, he stopped playing it.  Granted, I learned a lot from losing and DID figure out his secrets slowly.

Move ahead to 1980.  My parents (who said we should always stay close together as a family) suddenly went and moved from MD to NH taking my minor sister with them.  So I visited them each Summer.  Sis liked to play board games too.  Her favorite was Careers.  I was lethal, like Dad.  And that probablt distressed her at first because I was her "adored Big Brother".  

But I kept showing her what I had done to win (and there were many ways), and she caught on o the idea that I was teaching her how to play games.  I explained there was a way of looking at how a game worked and taking advantage of that.  In Careers you could win by meeting goals you set in your mind at the start.  Any version of $, happiness, or fame that got you to 60.  But you just had to focus on it.  She mentioned that to me years later saying I had helped her look at some parts of life more analytically and clearly.

The point was Dad killed, Mom was kind, and I explained.   Dad was  Republican, Mom was a Democrats, and I was somewhere between...

Friday, September 18, 2020

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died tonight.  I am turning off the computer and TV for a while... 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

An Odd Combination Of Problems

I fixed a problem with the Heat Pump today, more about that later...  But there have been some odd problems over the past few weeks that may or may not be related, so that might fit in.   Here is a list of problems..

1.  The Heat Pump started intermittingly leaking water onto the basement floor.

2.  The hot water smells odd first thing in the morning and sometimes it is slightly discolored.  The cold water is fine, so it isn't the city water supply.

3.  I detected a slight sewer smell in the showerstall bathroom.

4.   Some cat started pooping in the shower stall and then on the bathroom mat after I scrubbed the shower stall with general cleaner.  Nice little firm connected poops that fall right off the mat into the toilet when I lift it.  No pee, just poops.

5.  The Heat Pump air filter vanished.

So, I started trying to find the easiest solutions first.  Most obvious was that I don't use the showerstall and have detected odd smells in the past.  I assume the water in the trap drys up and lets gases emerge.  I usually just turn on the shower for a minute each month to make sure it is refilled and that solved the problem in the past.  Not this time.

I can't identify the mystery pooper.  Its not Marley, his are larger.  Laz is stressed  (but slowly improving).  Ayla is stressed by Laz.  She spends a lot of her time on the showerstall bathroom windowsill watching the birds, but Laz is often in there too.

I washed the mat.  I moved the mat to the main bathroom.  More poops.  So I suspect Laz but still no proof.  I have a wildlife camera, but I need to set it up from scratch because the batteries have been dead for years.  And I am worried about using it because of the infrared beam.  The instructions say not to look at it while on due to danger of blindness and I fear a curious cat might do that.

Since Iza left, the litterboxes don't get half the usage (she was a prodigious pee-er).  I have 4, and sometimes a couple aren't even used for a couple days.  I slacked...  Maybe Laz is fussy, or maybe Ayla wants to stay in the bedroom are so much she won't go to the basement.  So I made sure my daily schedule included cleaning no matter how little they were used.  That made no difference.

The Heat Pump has occasionally leaked water over the years.  It has usually meant that the condensation reservoir output tube has gotten but blocked by mineral deposits of mold.  I repairman (here for a more serious failure) mentioned putting a spoonful of bleach in the reservoir when I changed the air filter once every 3 months, but as maintenance habits tend to go, you forget after a few years when nothing goes wrong.  I forgot.  And one time the water collection tray got out of level and spilled over to the floor.  I fixed that. 

So I decided the output tube was blocked again.  Well, I looked around for a solution and found a coil of stiff wire.  I used pliers to form a small ball at the end  and fed it backwards through the tube and pulled it back and forth.  It empties into the laundry tub, so I put a small bucket under the tube (since any overfill would drain out safely).  The reservoir water was utterly clean.  So not the problem.

Meanwhile where WAS that missing air filter?  Well, for whatever reason, there is a couple of feet of "nothing" below the air filter.  On my Heat Pump, the incoming (to-be-filtered house air enters that bottom area and moves up.  There wasn't anywhere UP for the filter to go.  It had to be below in the collecting water.

The slot where the filter fits is only an inch wide and hard to get into.  I took a small bamboo stick and pushed it in.  The collected water was 3" deep.  It is apparently well-sealed, or all the water would have just drained out.  So I tried a few ways to grab the fallen air filter.  The flexible spring-loaded grabber didn't work.  The bamboo stake didn't work.  I finally took that coil of stiff wire and bent a hook at the end.  That worked!

It was squishy and awkward to get the bent filter out of the narrow 1" slot, and I almost lost it a couple times, but eventually I pulled it out intact.   I swear, I have some "MacGyver genes" in me.  For those of you unfortunate enough to not be familiar with the show, he took on bad guys with the creative use of common everyday items.  For myself, I just look around the cluttered basement awhile and suddenly "there it is", the thing I need that was never intended for the purpose.

For reasons I cannot explain, the smell in the showerstall immediately went away.  Maybe the collected stuff on the filter was reacting with the water and fermenting or decaying.  As long as it stopped...

That left the water on the basement floor and the smell of morning hot water (not that the cat poop problem was solved but I haven't solved that yet).  

Here is the Heat Pump fix I mentioned ate beginning...  

Today, I tackled the Heat Pump water leakage.  I had been resisting doing that (hoping it would just "go away").  But it wasn't going away.  And the water was between the rest of the house and the cat litter boxes.  Marley didn't care, as he walks through wet grass.  But it might have been bothering Ayla or Laz.

Machinery has odd little screws with slots and hex heads.  Well, I have tools.  One of them fits over the sheet metal screws.  You have to be careful with them.  They only screw into metal about 1/16th of an inch thick so you can strip out the threads.  

I sat there in front of the Heat Pump and considered the drainage PVC tubes on the outside, 4 square plastic nuts on them, and where they PVC tubes came from and went to.  And what parts of the front were removable.  And the PVC tubes had tops and bends where I thought didn't need to be.  Which suggested they were for access and therefore "removable'.

Sure enough, the highest one twisted right off.  And some water spilled out.  That meant something was blocked.  And I had already made sure the lower reservoir ans output tube were cleared.  I pushed the stiff wire down and heard some waterflow.  AHA!   

The tubes were too bendy to plunge that way.  But I noticed that the top cap was loose and the end went into the water reservoir, so I checked to see what other connections were were held by friction.  The entire PVC pipe can off in my hands.  More water on the floor, "oh joy".

Well, at least I could examine it.  It was filled with "stuff".  I carried it to the laundry tub and forced water though it.  You wouldn't believe such muck!  It looked like a slight folding of mayonnaise, jelly, and motor oil.  It was thin enough to move but thick enough to not move fast, so I slammed a rag over the drain to prevent it going down.  I scooped it up with a trowel and duped it it into a small bucket.  

After that, I used a long bottle-brush to scrape the PVC clean and set it level enough to fill with bleachy water and scraped it again in 10 minutes.    I also bottle-brushed the PVC pipes still in place.  Keeping in mind that it had taken 5 years since installation to get this bad, I don't expect a similar problem soon.  But a few years ago, I bought a package of 1/2" bleach tablets intended for such cleaning. 

They will fit into the condensation tray through a removable plug.  I shoved it through the plug in a mesh bag with a wire ring so I can remove and replace it easily.  And I have posted a reminder on the heat pump to change it once a year (as I also have a reminder of when to replace the air filter).  So that problem is probably solved.  Now I just have to wait for the collected water at the bottom of the heat pump to evaporate.  Well, a Heat Pump IS a dehumidifier, so that shouldn't take long.

That leaves the odd hot water smell.  I think I need to replace it.  A water heater has a rod on the inside to resist corrosion (and maybe absorb water minerals, I'm not sure).  And some minerals fall to the bottom.  There is a little hose-fitting outlet at the bottom.  I used to be good at draining the tank every 5 years.  I forgot about that.  

But the water heater is about 20 years old.  I bet the rod is completely gone.  And modern water heaters are far more efficient.  Time to replace it.  I'm researching standard ones, heat pump ones, and "instant-heating" tankless electric ones.  I like the "instant-on idea but these is more routine maintenance but I can tell I'm not as good at routine maintenance as I used to be.  

So It will be a good high volume standard type (when I use hot water, I use a lot) or the heat pump kind.  Depends on what Consumer Reports magazine recommends for my usage pattern).  But I'm going to drain the current tank (garden hose to the storm drain downhill) to see what comes out.   I bet it is gray.

It is possible I have solved most of the indoor problems I've had recently.  I will have to see if the bathroom pooping stops though.


Monday, September 14, 2020

Collective Cats

So I was sitting here for a while at the computer and I finally stood up.  And what do you think I saw?  

The Mews.  

They weren't hungry or asking for scritchies or even requesting laptime.  They just sort of collect around me when I don't notice.  It isn't the first time.  Just the first time I really thought about it.  

If I stay in any room long enough, they are all there.  If I deliberately look around, they aren't there.  Its when I'm not looking that they are well, "just sitting around" the room.  

And if I get up and move to another room for a while, it isn't like they follow me. But after a bit, there they are.

I must be the luckiest person in the universe!

Friday, September 11, 2020


I usually write at some length about 9-11.  I have decided to just stay silent this year.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Elections Are Frustrating Here

I live in Maryland, USA, which is so overwhelmingly Democratic the past few decades that it almost doesn't matter whether I vote or not.   The State Electors will be voting for the Democratic Presidential Candidate even if half the Democrats didn't bother to vote.  And my own Congressional District has Congressman House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer representing it and he is so overwhelmingly popular that he isn't even challenged seriously. 
When I moved to this County, it was somewhat Republican  but new arrivals from nearby Washington DC changed that competely.
Can you tell from that who I support?  Not really.  I could be a happy Democrat or a frustrated Republican.  As it happens, I started out as a Republican (though a progressive one) in the 60's.  Just for info, non-conservative Republicans tended to be called "Progressives" and non-conservative Democrats were called "Liberals".  There wasn't much difference but Progressives were a bit more economically "middle". 
The Nixon political inversion (he made Democratic Dixiecrats" Republican) chased me away.  It was a close call back then.  Unions were TOO powerful but Dixiecrats were MORE too racist.
I don't actually indentify with "party", but I've been forced to vote Democratic since Nixon from lack of ethical choices.  I supported 3rd Party Candidate John Anderson in 1980, but it was so hopeless by Election Day, I didn't bother to stand in the 3 hour line to vote (voting has become much faster since then).
Yeh, I vote Democrat.  It hasn't even been any hard decision.  Bill Clinton was better than Bush I , Al Gore was better than Bush II, Obama was better than McCain (hard decision as McCain was always honorable and trustworthy) and Romney had that election-killing "47% speech".
I thought Hillary Clinton was a walk-in against Trump.  An experienced Senator and Secretary of State VS an inexperienced sexist racist buffoon.  Easy choice and I settled in front of the TV to watch the blowout. 
OMG!  Election night 2016 was a horror show.  I was so horrified that I considered leaving the US.  But I had so much stuff it really would have been a serious bother or else Canada or Australia might have had me (and my retirement pay).  But I hunkered down and waited for Trump to be impeached as any honest Congressmen and Senators should have done.  That didn't happen, but, well, the next election wasn't far away. 
I'm worried.  Trump has arranged government in ways that could get him re-elected.  Voter polls are being purged of legitimate voters, voting locations are being shut down in places where he knows he will lose.  Mail-in ballots are being contested before they are even cast.  The Post Office, a trusted institution created in our Constitution. is being slowed so that ballots will arrive late.  Some places are demanding that mail-in voters come to prove their identity.
I find some comfort that many lifelong Republican strategists and power-brokers are fighting Trump.  But I don't know if they are enough.  All Trump needs to do is report the actual election day votes to declare victory and cause a crisis.  His supporters tend to vote ON Election Day.  The mail-in ballots are counted after the day.  And some investigations suggest that mail-in ballots are routinely dismissed/trashed and not considered "real".
Further, Trump has recently suggested that his followers deliberately try to mess up the system by voting twice.  Once by mail and once on Election Day.  Never mind that voting twice, trying to vote twice, or even encouraging people to try to vote twice is a felony...  There seems to be nothing Trump won't try to stay in office.  And he has expressed a desire for "12 years".
When Benjamin Franklin emerged from the building in 1776, someone shouted out, “Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?”  He replied “A republic, if you can keep it.”  It is sometimes debated, but he did say that in a letter to a friend though.
So the question is, can we keep a republic (because we are not actually, technically, not  a "democracy" if we were, then  Al Gore and Hillary Clinton would have been Presidents by legitimate popular vote) and can we keep it.  This election will decide that.
Vote as if your children's future will depend on it.  Because it will...
Trump wants to be Putin.  Biden wants to be a normal US President.  That's all there is to it.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Labor Day 2020

This day, dedicated to working, is important.  It is a celebration of effort to make our human world work.  I am retired.  Have been since March 1, 2006.  And I enjoy it. 

These days, I celebrate it for the people who work now and make my life easier.  The people at stores, the people who keep the electricity and internet working, the farmers who grow the things I eat, the people who make the clothes I wear and the appliances I use.  The people who do things I don't even know they do...

So today is a good day to review my own working career.  Read it if you wish, don't if it seems boring and routine.  Some of it is certainly more exciting than other parts.

To start, let's just say that, as The Eldest Child, I got assigned work early in life.  Trash removal, dishwashing, weeding the garden, etc.  I did advance to kitchen helper at 10 (a duty I enjoyed).

From there came mowing the lawn.  That was actually too early, but apparently Dad hated doing it.  The handlebar of the mower was about as tall as I was.  I mowed the lawn for 6 years until I went to college.  But mowing was something I did know how to do even if it was difficult.

So my first paying job was mowing some neighbors' lawns.  After that, I worked at a gas station each Summer.  Below minimum wage of $1.25/hr.  The owner said it was justified because the cash register was always a bit short (never mind that he took money out and put it in his pocket.  But it was a paying job, and I still know how to clean a windshield properly.

The next Summer, I took my experience mowing lawns to a job mowing an Army Base.  Talk about "endless grass"!  8 hours in Summer heat.  I always thought i was going to die by the end of the day.  But I didn't and that was a good lesson.  And at 16 I was also working a Saturday and Sunday newspaper delivery with a neighbor friend.  Sunday was night work and I learned to keep odd hours as a result.

When I got out of High School, I took a Govt test for jobs for Summer work in an office.  The local Naval Base was transferring old paper records of retired naval personnel to microfishe and 6 of us had to go through a folder at a time, organize it by date, and remove everything older than some year I forget now.  The removed files were reviewed by the Office Manager (he had a Naval rank, but I've never been able to remember any military ranks). 

He met with us individually once a week for accuracy ratings and suggestions.  After a few weeks, he showed me the group chart.  He said he was showing it to me because I had the highest productivity and greatest accuracy of the group.  Not by just "a little", I was almost off his chart.  And because he wanted me back the next Summer.  And he suggested I had a talent for administrative work and might want to consider that for my future.

But I went off to college.  I wasn't all that interested, but my parents assumed it and I wasn't about to argue against getting out on my own a bit.  Classes came in 2 kinds.  Stuff I easily understand and stuff I couldn't figure out,  And it was 1968 to 1972  and I became very politically active.  Let's just say I took some courses that were easy for me and learned some stuff, but failed at some rquired ones and left.

So I spent a few years in department stores.  Worked my way up to being in charge of 1/4 of one and realized I was going nowhere.  The difference between being a floor clerk at minimum wage and "1/4 store manager" was 25 cents per hour. 

A friend suggested the US Government "Professional and Administrative Career Exam and I took it.  Scored in the 100th percentile in all 5 categories.  I got an offer from 1 Federal Agency (General Services Administration).  One was based on knowing Fortran 4 and COBOL programming languages (saw no future in computers, LOL!).  One was based on my SAT math skills in the Finance Office  (sorry, but skills at geometry and solving simultaneous equation doe NOT mean you are good with a caclulator and an accounting sheet).  The last was a more general administrative support office. 

I went there.  General stuff is more my forte.  Jack of all trades, Master of none; that's me.  I fit right in.  I went from Temporary Hire to Permanent in 4 weeks.  We kept track of furniture and office equipment.  As with my Naval Base job, I was outstanding at it.  The office kept track of GSA stuff, but also Presidential Committees and Committees and Senate and Congressional Offices. 

I was quickly assigned the latter inventories.  And then we gained Pennsylvannia as part of out "Region".  The Congressional inventories were all crap.  I spent 6 months conducting furniture and equipment inventories in PA and then tracing all the purchases and transfers from the earliest records.  When I was done, we had a clean inventory of all Government furniture and equipment.  I got an award.

After that, I was competed for in various office.  I stayed where I was, but changed to Fleet Management, Space Management, and finally Telecommunication Management as a GS-12.  But I couldn't advance beyond that there.

I would have had to become "Management".  And quite frankly, I'm not good at it.  I hate to tell other people what to do.  As a self-starter, I tend to think you either know what you should be doing, or you are just incompetent.  And I only met one "Manager" in my career who was actually good at "management".  I am a strong proponent of 'The Peter Principle'.  Most Managers are people who are no longer productive, but can transmit orders from above...  I still routinely read 'Dilbert' for reminders of basic management stupidity.

I had to move to a new office with a higher non-management pay-grade to get a promotion. Fortunately, most of my suoervisors left me alone to do my work.  I benefited, they benefited, the agency benefited.  I basically saved the agency $1-2 million a year. 

And that's not mentioning being the Team Leader for White House inventories for 2 years.  At GSA, we had one 50character code for executive desks.  The White House is full of them, and wanted differentiation.  So I created a 6 digit code complete with pictoral examples of the differences.

My last job was to manage voice telecommunications costs.  We got digital records from our vendor, but they were unreadable (proprietary).  It took 6 months, but I learned how to read the data.  Databases are weird.  The useful data can be divided in many ways, usually punctuation or spacing.

The vendor was pissed.  The agency contractor was impressed (they hadn't figured it out).

I told management that I would be retiring in March 2006 (the first day eligible).   I told them about 3 regional employees who were qualified and willing to take over my job, but they didn't want to offend a Regional Office. 

So we interviewed newbies. None were qualified, but one did have some computer skills and a customer-friendly attitude.  I taught her everything I knew for 6 months.  But she was mostly just a clerk. 

After I left, a co-worker emailed me to say the entire program had fallen apart.  The new hire had immediately moved to an IT support position, and Management had eventually assigned 3 full time people to do what I had done and they all said it was "impossible".

So I leave off today saying that I was a "worker" and never "management" when I could avoid it all the useful days of my working life.  I worked hard at mowing the grass on my first days and I never ordered other people around after that.

So, Happy Labor Day to all...

Free Labor Day Clip Art Pictures - Clipartix

Thursday, September 3, 2020


Sometimes, a few days are just odd stuff:

1.  Got a first cucumber.  Mmm, good!
2.  First tomato fruit on the vine.  I planted late because I kept waiting for the rain to stop.  It hasn't yet.
3.  The flat Italian beans are finally coming in.  I have some every day.
4.  Watched a hornet catch some bug and eat it.  I made sure not to bother it.
5.  Found a dead possum in the backyard.  I put it in the drainage easement (wearing heavy rubber gloves).  There, it will decay fast and produce no smell as the water carries everything away. 
6.  Finally figured out the new car "Auto Stop&Start".  The description from the dealer was useless.  Finally looked it up in the manual.  Obvious.  Could have saved 3 months of annoyance.
7.  Figured out the cruise control, too.  The buttons to push made sense after looking at the manual, but icons are never clear UNTIL you see what the designer meant by it. 
8.  Have to call the bank.  They ordered checks for me at "no charge" and charged me.  I called in August and they agreed to issue a credit.  And they ordered new checks because there was an error in my name.  The new checks arrived perfectly, and the statement showed the credit.  But then they charged me for the new checks.  So, another call to fix that.
9.  I called a tech support place for help in getting my AOL email to my Apple email (much easier to use).  It cost #9.95 but "OK, they fixed it".  But the credit card statement had another 6 charges of $0.10 each for a bunch of "charities.  I issued a complaint to my credit card company.  They probably wondered why I bothered about 6 $0.10 charges.  Well, the charges would have continued.  And the credit card company had to do all the work resolving the issue. 
10.  My new Subaru came with an oddly small towing hitch.  1.25" coupler bar.  I ordered larger parts to adapt from Amazon.  Then realized it didn't matter.  The towing capacity is only that of the weakest part.  Amazon let me return them for free.  I love Amazon!
11.  Black-eyed Susans are taking over spots in my yard.  It started with a volunteer  10 years ago.  They have been finding places they like better ever since.  And since they bloom all Summer, I'm spreading them to let them find more places they like..
12.  Same with purple coneflowers.  They don't spread as quickly, but they do spread.  A yardful of yellow Black-Eyed-Susans and Purple Coneflowers wouldn't be the worst thing (and I have other perrenials.
13.  The Washington National baseball team is driving me crazy.  They won The World Series last year, but can't win a game this year.  They are the 2nd worst team.  They either win by like 12-2 or lose 5-4. 
14.  The basement heat pump has a tube to the laundry tub for pumping out collected water.  Heat pumps are also de-humidifiers.  Various things can go wrong.  The collection reservoir can get blocked with algae, the pan in the inside can get tilted over time and spill into the bottom (caused water to seep out at floor level.  I got overflow 2 weeks ago.  I cleared the tube with stiff wire, added a bit of bleach to the reservoir,  and laid down old towels to absorb the floor seepage.  It worked.
15.  If the rain doesn't stop for a few days, I am going to go quite mad.  The oil squishes everywhere I walk.  The grass lawn loves it!  And do the weeds everywhere.  And the Asian Tiger Mosquitos!!! 
16.  I really have to solve the chair problem.  The old one has a back to short to support my head, te new one doesn't allow me to cross my feet so the cats have "The Lap".  A big recliner I bought falls forward so much I slide off it.  I need to turn the big one over and limit its forward movement.  It's a great chair otherwise. 

There is more, but I have to stop somewhere...

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Civilazation 2 Game

Well, I've gone and done it now!  I found a way to play the old 32-bit Civ 2 Microsoft game on my modern Mac.  Addictive to me as ever.  I LOVE this game.

The World I've explored.  My Part of The World (the gridline places).
 I won a couple nights ago.  I built a spaceship and landed it on Alpha Centuri while the other 3 Civilizations (English, German, and Mongol) tried to join to kill me.  First time I had played in almost a year.  Now I have to try the next level up (where the AI begins to cheat to make things harder).  But I needed one good win to get used to the game again.

Each game takes about 40-100 hours to play.  And I win about 50% of the time.  I say the game "cheats", because it builds military units and city advances faster than it should.  That isn't a complaint; that's just how the game makes things harder as you advance.

When I used to play it obsessively a decade ago, I won 1 game of the 4 I tried at the top level.  I want to get back to that.

It's a detailed game.   If your people become unhappy, that city goes into anarchy and your Government  falls.  But if you build a Temple to make them happy, you are not building a Marketplace to gain gold or a military unit (and there are many from Warrior to Armored Vehicles and Stealth Bombers).  Tech advances go from spears to Nuclear Weapons.  And there are Wonders Of The World to build that provide some advantage to all or some cities. 

The levels are Chief, Warlord, King, Emporer, and Deity (or something like that).  So I won at Warlord.  Next is King.  You have to adjust some strategies at each level because what works best at one level doesn't work best at the next.

It is altogether complicated.  Well, that's why I play it.

I guess I will start a new game at the next level next week.