Things I Know

Today is the fifth anniversary of the Sisyphus Project. If, like my friend Richard (formerly from New Jersey) you have been with us from the beginning, or very near the beginning, then you may be a glutton for punishment, but you have my sympathy.

When a movie star on the red carpet at tonight’’s Oscar award ceremony is asked, ““Who are you wearing,”” just once, I’’d like her to say, “”It’’s from the sale rack at Kohl’’s”.” I didn’’t have that desire until Nancy Giles planted it in my mind when I watched her commentary on CBS Sunday Morning today.

I listen to the radio more than most people. I keep it on all night and listen on a pillow speaker when I’’m having trouble sleeping, which is most of the time. I just bought a new one; a Sangean CL-100. I’’ve only had it for a couple of nights, but so far, so good. I live in an area with lots of radio stations and it picks up the ones I like. On the first night, the display was too bright, but that’’s adjustable. I don’’t need the weather radio feature unless I move to Florida. That might happen if I can convince my wife, Saint Karen, who must be a saint to put up with me. I thought about buying a radio that would accept SDHC cards and play the music or podcasts on them. But this radio is less than half the price and it does have an auxiliary input, so I can make it play music from my MP3 player or my phone. The clock on mine doesn’’t seem terribly accurate, but it can reset itself from information broadcast by many radio stations. My biggest problem so far is that the display isn’’t large enough for me to read it in the middle of the night without my glasses.

The Sangean replaces a teenage Grundig Yachtboy 400. I like one thing better about the Sangean. It has a much lower center of gravity so it’’ll be harder to knock over at night. But if the Yachtboy was still being manufactured, I’’d buy another one. The Yachtboy is a good receiver and very sturdy. I’’ve owned it since around the turn of the 21st century. I’’ve dropped it several times. Two of those drops submerged it in water. After it dried out and I replaced the batteries, it worked just fine. It still works just fine except for one important thing: the earphone jack is now intermittent. So, if I want to listen to the radio all night, I can’t rely on a pillow speaker. Therefore, the Yachtboy gets retired to a secondary roll.

Things I Know

If you agree to sign a nominating petition to get some candidate on the ballot, please print your name legibly. I know nobody has a legible signature these days, but apparently the majority of people can’’t print legibly anymore either. If you attended the same grade school I did, I can assure you that Sister Mary Knucklebuster wouldn’t be pleased and neither would Atilla the Nun.

Got a call Friday night from a woman claiming to work with (not for) National Grid. She was intent on asking me if I heated my home with natural gas, so intent that she asked me again after I answered the question. The way she acted, I smelled scam, so I insisted she get to the point. She insisted on sticking to the script so I hung up. Sounded like a scam call to me and there are two I’’m aware of. In one, they ask for your social security number and bank routing number so they can enroll you in a program where the feds will pay your heating bill. In the other, they want to give you a new account number and a new place to send your payments. Don’’t fall for either. Never give personal information (especially personal financial information) to someone who calls you out of the blue and verify by contacting the company yourself if someone calls and wants you to send your money to a new place.

The recently-completed, much-publicized python hunt in the Florida Everglades yielded only 68 snakes. Either pythons are less of a problem in the Everglades than people thought, or they’’re very good at hiding.

Cable TV’s Biography Channel ran a show about Shirley MacLaine. I watched because she’’s the only movie star I’’ve ever talked to. I did that during Senator McGovern’’s campaign for President. She was an active supporter and sometimes campaigned with the candidate. The show said she’s 5′ ’7″” tall which surprised me so I looked it up and several other sources agree. When I met her, she struck me as tiny, but I guess I was so taken by her approachability and genuineness that I must not have noticed that she was standing lower down a slope than me, or maybe I was on a curb and she was on the driveway.

I stumbled upon an Internet list of the 16 most stressful airports in the USA. I’’ve flown in and out of 11 of them, so I guess I have some catching up to do.

I like my orange juice with pulp in it. I thought only kids who are picky eaters liked it strained, but I’’m almost certainly wrong. I base my judgment on the stock at local supermarkets. I was in one last week that only had strained juice. OJ with pulp wasn’’t even for sale. Of course, I prefer chocolate bars with no almonds in them and there, I’’m in the minority as well.

“Women have to grow up because guys need some kind of adult supervision.” Dick Summer said that and I think it’s kind of profound.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

I understand the need for security with respect to credit card accounts. I even appreciate it. Still, why can I use the same Visa credit card account twice in one day at the Home Depot a mile or so from my house, but my wife and I can’’t fill up our cars at the gas station three blocks from our house on the same day?

Since preposterous is a word, why aren’’t posterous and postposterous words as well? And yes, I know that posterous is a website that was sold to Twitter and is closing down in April, but it’’s still not a word and that’s preposterous.

In real estate, why do short sales take a long time?

The spam filter on my blog bounced a comment from one-third of my commenters (Richard formerly from New Jersey). Therefore, I shut off the spam filter. So, now I get spam comments. You don’t see them because the comments are moderated. For your comment to appear here, it has to meet two requirements: no spam; and no flaming. Why do the spam comments show up in posts I made months or even years ago? Is it just to create mischief? It doesn’’t seem to me that most people who visit blogs go through all the back posts in order to find spam.

When’’s the last time Paris Hilton was in the news? I don’’t want her back, I just wonder.

Happy New Year

Why were they talking about Chinese New Year this morning on Channel 2 in NY? I know the festival lasts two weeks, but wasn’’t the actual date of the Chinese New Year last Sunday? In any event, when you write checks from now on, be sure to write year of the snake, and to stop writing year of the dragon. And, have a happy new year.

Things I Know

Another tremendous product idea to serve a desperate need: teeth blackener for snowmen.

Naming blizzards is lame, unless it’’s a Dairy Queen blizzard of the month. I have enough trouble remembering when the blizzard of ‘’78 happened. I’’ll never be able to remember when Nemo hit.

Whenever I see one of those cable shows about ancient aliens or aliens yet to come, I’’m reminded of the old “Twilight Zone” episode in which the pretty assistant runs up to the ramp where her boss, Mr. Chambers, is getting on a flying saucer and she tells him that the alien book, “To Serve Man,” is a cookbook.

On the other hand, we already know there is no intelligent life on this planet, so we might as well look for it elsewhere and consequences be damned.

Speaking of extraterrestrial life, there’’s an alien-invasion movie called “Battleship” all over cable this week. It came out last year and it’’s kind of fun. It’’s not great, or believable, but it’’s kind of fun. One of the viewer-reviewers on Netflix said the movie had great special effects and a script written by a six-year-old in crayon. That’’s pretty accurate. No explanation about faster-than-light travel or faster-than-light communication, or the aliens blocking some kinds of wireless communication, but not all, or getting here and planning to rely on our equipment rather than theirs to call home, or sending only five ships to conquer a planet, or how a screw-up who broke into a convenience store and got caught can join the Navy, become an officer, continue to screw up and still get promoted twice in a relatively short period and in peacetime. There’’s more to object to in the plot, but the special effects make the movie and in the end, the senior citizens come through, the humans win and the hero gets the girl so like I said, kind of fun. Let’’s call it two stars (out of five), okay?

I didn’t have any further problems with the old Toyota’s thermostat. I had my friendly neighborhood mechanic change it, so the only problem I have is paying the bill.

Oh, and saving the best for last, happy Valentine’s Day. I’m sure that as long as I continue celebrating them with my wife all of mine will be happy.

Spring Training

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It’s Spring Training, so pack up your Slinky and send it to Arizona or Florida. Of course the good folks in Port St. Lucie Florida have changed the name back to Traditions Field because Digital Domain went bankrupt last year about the time I took this picture. Since Baseball causes warm weather, Spring Training is a great sign. Once the games come on the radio, drive around with the game on and your car windows down to help spread the warmth north more quickly.

Are They On Drugs?

So, toward the end of last year, my wife and I got new cards from our health insurance for our prescription drug benefits. We also got a lot of literature from the same program and I thought the literature said we weren’’t really eligible for the new program.

So, I called the program and on my first call, they said yes we were eligible and no, we weren’t eligible, at the same time. That’s both answers in one call. Last week, I called again and was assured by a very nice lady that we were eligible. So, this week, I went on line and tried to change my profile with the mail-order pharmacy we use so that it would be consistent with the new plan.

The on-line system didn’’t mind my name, but it didn’’t like my birthday, my prescription benefit member number, the prescription number, or my relationship to myself. Now, I could live with it not liking the member number and the prescription number, but I’’m almost certain that my birthday hasn’’t changed and that I’’m still related to myself in the same way I have been since I was born.

In previous phone calls I’’ve been given yes and no as answers in the same phone call and just yes. Today, I talked to Sandy and learned that Sandy isn’’t a bad word. I kind of thought it was because the floods last October devastated a neighborhood only a few hundred feet from where I live. Sandy said no, neither my wife nor I are under the new plan. We’’re both under Saint Karen’s old plan (she has to be a saint to put up with me). So, if you’’re keeping track, that’’s one yes, one no, and one yes and no. Being under my wife’’s old plan is a change too because before this she and I had separate old plans.

Without a request from me or any notice to me, all of my prescriptions were transferred to my wife’s plan. There’’s really no challenge in making me confused, so there’’s really no reason anyone should try.

I hope that it’’s all straightened out now, but last week, I also ordered a couple of prescriptions from a local drug store under the new plan. So, I also kind of hope what happened today is wrong. We’’re fortunate in having good prescription drug insurance, but we seem to have four plans between us and the trick is figuring out who pays what.

Are you confused too? Then, you understand perfectly and my job here is done, except for one last thing. Sandy said that according to her computer our prescription drug insurance doesn’t expire until 2099. I hope we don’t either.

Things I Know

Ancestor doesn’t mean the same thing as descendant. They’re opposites, or antonyms. Your relatives who came before you, like your father and grandfather are your ancestors. Your relatives who come after you, like your children and grandchildren are your descendants. Lately, I’ve been seeing the word ancestor used to mean both far too often, especially with respect to the recently discovered remains of England’’s King Richard III.

If a TV show I’m watching comes out with another story about Manti Teo’s fake girlfriend, I change the channel. But this coverage has given me an idea. I’m going to keep a list of TV news stories that I don’t consider news. If the list gets long enough soon enough, I might even post it here. Stay tuned.

I thought there’d never be a harder car thermostat to change than the one in a 1986 Ford Taurus. It’s hard because it goes into the block horizontally so it’s hard to keep everything in place while you bolt it down. But there is at least one harder one and it’s on my 1991 Toyota Corolla. First the drain pug for the radiator is inaccessible: you have to remove a plastic cover in order to get at it. Second, it’s very hard to drain the radiator without getting antifreeze up your sleeve. Third, the housing for the thermostat is shaped so that you can’t get a 12 mm socket wrench to sit on it well enough to use a socket wrench to loosen the bolts and remove the housing. Then, I had to go get a haircut. So, if there are additional problems with the thermostat, I’ll let you know once the project resumes.

If you’re driving 30 mph slower than the flow of traffic in the middle lane of a limited access highway, you’re definitely causing a traffic jam and you might cause an accident. The accident you cause might even be fatal to you! Don’t just pull into the right lane, get off that road as soon as you can and drive on one where you’re more comfortable keeping up with traffic. That thought occurred to me when I nearly rear-ended the driver of a very slow-moving gray Toyota last week.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Has the Super Bowl pre-game show started yet?

It’s not football, but are you on Team February or Team Febyouary?

Are garbage trucks designed to maximize the noise they make?

I have never seen the TLC reality TV show “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” but I have seen the promos and they make me ask, is it shown with subtitles?

There’s a book called ““Dreams of My Real Father”” that claims President Obama’’s real father was a poet named Frank Marshall Davis. The book also says that Mr. Davis was a communist and that the President’’s mother posed for nude photos some of which were published in fetish magazines. The book is controversial and you can find lots of material on the internet claiming to debunk it. I don’’t know whether anything in the book is true, but if Mr. Davis was President Obama’’s father, that would be proof positive that the President wasn’’t born in Kenya. Wouldn’’t it?

Do you think real estate in New York and San Francisco is expensive? Have you heard about the guy in Paris France who lived in a 17 square foot apartment with a ceiling slanted so he couldn’’t stand up everywhere in the room? The rent was 330 Euros or about $442 a month and he lived there for 15 years before running afoul of building codes that say an apartment must be at least 97 square feet and have a shower.

Someone has asked you at some time to “keep an eye out” for something or someone, haven’’t they? But, if you actually did take your eye out so you could keep it out, wouldn’’t that make it harder (rather than easier) to see?