Wednesday, May 13, 2015

To Review or Not to Review

I'm reading a book that is really not all that great, at least not so far. The sentences have too many commas and are almost all the same length -- long. The actions of the characters are weirdly worded and repetitive without being at all interesting or anything but slam up against them and wonder what the author is trying to do. Many of the features of this particular world are thrown in there without any idea of what they are or how to pronounce them, where the break should be, and there is no indication of what they are or how they fit into the story. I guess I'm supposed to figure it out for myself.

What's worse is I know the author and I cannot in good conscience give the book a positive review because it reads like a first draft. I know the author has been working on this book for years and has announced it's publication a dozen times over the past 12 years. The thing is, this book is not ready for publication and needs good conceptual and copy editors to go through it again. Most of the problems could have been solved if that had been done before this -- long before this.

It is difficult to enjoy a story that is rife with flaws and faults and grammar errors without a clue as to what is really going on. I can appreciate starting in the middle of the story, but it helps to know through conversations or back story where it all fits together. So far, not happening.

I really hate that I can't be more positive, but there it is.

No, I won't be reviewing this one and I won't contact the author and say it is a good job. It's not. I am not going to lie and I won't fudge it either. I hate when this happens.

That is all. Disperse.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Coming Back

As I sat pondering the other cross stitch projects in my fabric bucket (the kind that makes neat all the junk one has collected) I decided to go back to something I started last year before I moved up here from Colorado Springs. It wasn't hard to find. I dug through the bin and pulled out the bag that holds my winter white tree skirt. I had intended to use it last year, but the move and pawing through bins and boxes wasn't high on my list, and there were so many other projects to start -- and finish.

There is a rhythm to cross stitching and I had been out of the rhythm for almost a year. It took some doing -- and some untangling of floss -- and now I'm getting back into the rhythm. I will finish my tree skirt this year.

As it looked last year.  I had done more work on it since this was taken last March. It is a very big project, bigger than the swan.

At any rate, I should have been done by now since there is about a half section to stitch yet. Aside from a leaf on the lower edge, not much has changed. I just got started.

It looks a bit fuzzy to me, but then everything looks fuzzy to me these days. As you can see there have been changes. Quite a few changes. But it is moving along. The leaf I stitched last night, or at least began to stitch, is below the needle. Hopefully, I will finish this in the next month, maybe within the next couple of weeks, and then the real chore begins - cutting, binding, stuffing, sewing, and getting it ready to put under the tree this year. I am determined that this will happen THIS YEAR. Cross your fingers. I can't stitch with my fingers crossed.

Of course my life does not revolve around cross stitching. I have to work in order to be able to afford the materials to cross stitch. That's just the way life works when you're not born into wealth and haven't made a few millions. It's too bad I couldn't have saved all the money I've made over the last 40 years. I'll bet it has been more than a million I've squandered on food, rent, clothing, cars, gasoline, and all the other things that go to make up a life. Having kids made a huge dent in my income, but that's just the price of having kids. And they continue to make a dent since I have grandchildren and birthdays and Xmas to make a little brighter by my small contributions.

And then there is work. I just discovered that payroll has been cheating me of quite a bit of money since they aren't paying me correctly for PTO (paid time off). They are treating the PTO I have used for things like my Internet being off during my shift as 1 hour instead of 1 day. There is a huge difference between pay for 1 hour and being paid for the 8 hours I am entitled to. Well, at least I can be sure of a bonus check soon when I straighten them out. That will be helpful and will feel good when I have to straighten out Payroll. There's a small satisfaction in correcting a serious wrong -- like messing with my money. I don't know too many people who wouldn't take out the idiots people in Payroll who should know better. Somehow the fact that the 6 weeks of pay to which I am entitled every year doesn't compare to the 3.99 days that they will pay me for if they get away with this now.

Well, it's back to the salt mines since I have given you a glimpse of my world. A glimpse is all I have time for today. Beanie told me the Idiot posted her redneck wedding on YouTube. She didn't realize there were so many redneck weddings out there. Hundreds. Maybe thousands. Redneck weddings seem to be all the rage -- and not just in the South. They're everywhere.

That is all. Disperse.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Stop Bugging Me!

I don't ask for much, and I know I've groused about this before, but I am so tired of business entities and sellers demanding I review their products/work/etc. immediately. Everyone is SO VERY REVIEW DRIVEN and it's really getting on my last nerve. If I had to review every single, solitary product I've bought I'd have no time for anything else because I can't just give them a few stars. NO! They want words from me too. Seriously?

Here's the quick skinny. If I keep buying the product then you can safely assume that I like the product. If you screwed up and sent me an item in the mail, by UPS, etc. and the packaging was far too big for a single item, especially when it is 1 of 3 items, each sent separately with lots of air filled plastic bladders, and what was sealed inside the original item has fallen out of the original packaging, then, yes, I will give you a bad review. Refunding my money might result in me deleting the original negative review, but on no account does that mean I will upgrade the negative service to a positive service. The item was damaged because of poor packaging to send and it was a waste of resources and my time since the item was DAMAGED! Have you finally gotten that message now? Keep bugging me and I will put back up the negative review and mention how you have hounded me several times a day since I contacted you begging me for a review. STOP IT! NOW!

Okay, now that I have that off my mind and I feel a little bit better, I can move on to other things, like almost all my seeds have sprouted and now I need to get busy and plant the other seeds in their little peat buttons, ready the planters, put together the 2 deck chairs I bought, and finish getting rid of the rest of the boxes and packing materials that have accumulated over the past weeks, most of which are for my seeds and plans for container gardening.

And then there are the constant demands and rounds of begging from work insisting that I give up my free time to work even more hours to bail them out because the numerous hospitals they service are running out of turn-around-time and they will be in breach of contract and have to pay for their breach. I get that you need to keep good relations with your customers, but I do my time and should not be expected to pick up the slack on other accounts when you have had me running around learning a whole bunch of different accounts, 7 in the past 3 months, and keeping me in QC hell because I don't have the time to get up to speed on any one account because I am confused learning so many different account protocols in a short space of time without finding my groove in any one account before you bump me into yet another account. Please! Give me some time to get up to speed before you load any more on my tired brain, especially since you want me to also pick up the slack at yet another long list of hospitals and health network without so much as hazard pay or financial remuneration. I like you, but not that much. Be glad that is the case.

Okay, so it's not all bad. They have offerered a 2 for 2 bonus for my extra time and no days off that will result in me getting 2 hours of PTO (paid time off) in return for 2 hours of my free time given to your customer relations, but I would prefer something more useful, like a year's worth of paid health benefits, dental, and vision with no cost to me. That would be better in my opinion. in the meantime, get behind sellers demanding reviews good reviews. I'll get to you eventually -- maybe.

I found yet another Kdrama. This one is called Good Doctor and is about an autistic young man who is brilliant where medicine is concerned. He has the classic autistic behaviors when confronted with violence, chaos, and new situations, but he is still pretty high functioning. I liked the young man, Park Si On (pronounced Park Shi On), and found him sweet, sad, and brilliant, as well as a bit immature. What else could one expect from such a situation? After all, there should be room for growth and advancement, and there was plenty.

Good Doctor reminded me a bit of The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon, which is about an autistic young man who is high functioning, but who should be cured, fixed, whatever because he's not like other people. I found Moon's protagonist quite fascinating as he was, even with his rituals and autistic behaviors, but then I enjoy the oddities and special people in life. They make everything more interesting, even when they're being frustrating. Park Si ON was very much like that. Yes, he could be frustrating, but he had a good heart and genuinely cared for the children he was determined to heal, just as Lou Arrendale of Moon's vision of autism is special and as unique as a snowflake even though he was too early to benefit from genetic manipulation that would fix him, as if he were a broken toy. Park Si On isn't a broken toy either and the knowledge he has gained in his studies is not just information contained in a robotic data bank. It's so much more -- even though it is difficult for him to articulate in the normal way. These two young men are extraordinary and I would like to see American television embrace such a concept and give it substance and reality. Now that would be worth watching.

As we strive to make robots more human, maybe we should also spend some time embracing the unusual, odd, and special in humans. That is a subject for another post and will likely encompass Alan Turing and Eva, a 10-year-old free robot who is as unique and beautiful as she is dangerous. After all, every odd duck is complex in so many ways. We shouldn't seek to make them conform or mentally, physically, or chemically castrate them, but celebrate their differences and the unique vision they embody.

One thing I see is that even when a Kdrama is set in modern times the basic themes remain: abuse of power, politics, self-effacement, and romance. Whether set in centuries past or in a modern hospital (the best in the country), the back stabbing and politicking remain, no doubt an offshoot of earlier times when rank and how you get and maintain it is of paramount importance, even to an young boy with autism violently abused by his alcoholic father and neglected to the point where he ends up being brought up in an orphanage because his father hates him and wishes him dead -- at least until it's time for said abusive alcoholic father to face his own mortality and the fact that there will be no filial devotion from the child he battered unless he makes peace just in time to guilt his son into making propitious offerings and setting out ancestral meals for him to enjoy in the aferlife. Reminds me of Livia begging Claudius, who she has repudiated and wished dead numerous times, except that he is a stumbling, bumbling idiot, to make her a goddess when he becomes emperor, as he undoubtedly will because he has outlasted all his relatives, so she won't spend eternity in the fiery furnace of hell for her murders in her quest to make her family important and powerful and wealthy . . . for the good of the Republic. Funny how that works out.

If you'd like to watch a Kdrama, like The Moon Embracing the Sun or Good Doctor, go to Netflix and sign up for streaming or videos by mail. That is where I found them.

There are so many things for me to write about -- Yggdrasil, the heaven-purgatory-hell, 7 levels of existence of Mayan belief, etc. -- not to mention seeds sprouting into plants, getting back to writing, continuing my cross stitch projects, and any number of personal and not so personal subjects, but I'll stop here -- while I'm at least a little ahead. in the meantime . . .

That is all. Disperse.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Kdrama With Me...

...heavy on the drama.

Kdrama, or Korean Drama, is my new obsession. Rather, it is The Moon Embracing the Sun that is the obsession. What's not to like about 19th century costume drama with intrigue, betrayal, love, loss, and happily ever after mixed with a bit of magic and a love triangle or 3? The actors are handsome and pretty and the costumes are gorgeous enough to send me googling to find out the background of each, like the hair pin that gives the name to this particular Korean costume drama. Just beautiful.

This is my second time through this particular Kdrama, but only because I figured out watching it on my laptop provided a lot more detail than watching it on my Kindle Fire. There is something to be said for size.

Synopsis: Court official's daughter bumps into crown prince climbing over the wall of the palace grounds to get away from the protocol and hassle of being crown prince and he nearly falls on top of her. She thinks he is a thief. He tells her he is a eunuch. She is at the palace compound to watch her older brother get the award for best scholar and he's running away. It is love at first sight, even if he is a thief, as only love can hit us when the girl, Heo Yeon Woo, is 13 and the prince, Lee Hwan, is 15. She is a learned girl who can read and write Chinese and knows philosophy. He's a spoiled prince with a penchant for disguising himself and running away from protocol to see what's really going on in the country outside the high walls of the palace compound.

Yeon Woo eventually discovers he is the Crown Prince and she becomes one of his little sister's companions. Min Hwa's other companion is another court official related to the Queen Dowager, who is a nasty piece of work and not at all bothered having people killed, as long as the king doesn't know about it or get his hands bloody. That's what the Minister of the Home Office is for. Besides, he's a member of her clan, the Yoon clan, and greed runs in the clan. His daughter is the princess's other companion and she is a nasty piece of work who hates Yeon Woo because she is everything that Yoon Bo Kyung is not -- queenly and not at all vicious, mean-spirited, or duplicitous.

Yeon Woo is chosen as the Crown Prince's bride-to-be until the Queen Dowager has the chief shaman call down a curse that will kill her so that Bo Kyung will be the Crown Prince's bride and eventually Queen. Too bad the Crown Prince sees through Bo Kyung's polite words and smiles and refuses to consummate the marriage during the 8 years of their married life. Yeon Woo is presumed dead by her family, and the Crown Prince, and his half-brother, Yang Myung, who is also in love with Yeon Woo. But she was only sleeping and the chief shaman had her dug up after her burial and registers her as a shaman with the local temple.

For 8 years, the shaman travels around the country with Yeon Woo, who has lost her memory and has been told she was possessed by a powerful spirit and found wandering in the streets before becoming a shaman, her maid, Seol, and a street urchin with the gift of sight, Jan Shil, while Yang Myung wanders just a few steps ahead of the rebels that want him to over throw his brother and become King, and Bo Kyung and Lee Hwan live  separate lives while their ministers steal the country blind and gather power to supplant the king once he sires and heir on the Minister of Home Office's daughter.

Okay, enough of the synopsis. Even reading the subtitles cannot dampen the enthusiasm of seeing such a wonderful spectacle or falling a little bit in love with the actors, or even laughing at the head eunuch's exasperation and shock at his master's antics. He suffers in silence -- most of the time -- and the comedy is a breath of fresh air after the passion and tension of the main story. Lee Hwan's chief eunuch is kind of cute and funny which is a nice counterpoint to the very handsome young men playing the lead parts. One can even forgive Princess Min Hwa's spoiled brattiness and utter devotion to Yeon Woo's older brother even if she did ruin his life and his future. After all, she is so cute in a kitten with a whip fashion.

But life goes on, and so must I.

You will have to admit the actors are all quite handsome.

At any rate, there are other things to fill my world, like sees, plants, and supplies to create my container garden. I even plan to put a couple of trees in the house, specifically a dwarf Meyer lemon and dwarf fig tree. I do so love lemons and I've never actually had a fresh fig. I've eaten plenty dried figs and I love Fig Newtons.

Then there is bread to bake and food to cook, although I must admit I'm not much in a food eating mood, unless you count the occasional biscuit or the omelets, peanut butter, and fruit that I eat once a day. I also like to have hot chai, but have given it up this week for fruit juices, most of which I water down with real water. For some reason, the juices seem a bit heavy at times, though they are delicious.

And then there is work. I ended up with my 7th account since starting 2-1/2 months ago and seem to always be in QC hell (i.e., making very little to no money because I have to learn the protocols for another whole hospital or health care system). It is hard to keep the differences in mind when switching between so many different accounts. I think I've finally convinced my supervisor to settle me into 3 accounts, one of which is all typing. I've learned that in order to make money stability is key, and so are lines, especially when those lines are typed and not edited. When it takes me more time to edit the lines than it would to type the entire report, especially when I'm getting paid half as much for the edited lines, over time and typing full reports is key. I might actually make enough money to live on once I get settled in.

The best part about switching jobs, once I get out of QC hell and make the money I'm capable of making when I have the same accounts all the time, is that I bargained for 14 vacation days and ended up with 43.46 vacation days. All those years of working for a company this company bought out is the vacation time, nearly 6 weeks. I have never had that much time to use in my whole working life. I plan on taking at least a couple of vacations for 2 weeks at a time and use the other nearly 2 weeks to carve out a 3-day weekends. All paid in full. That is definitely worth changing jobs for, as are the benefits, chance to make more money, and a health care plan that does not cost me more than a month's rent every month. Made me feel like I did when I was newly divorced and working 2 jobs to pay for the babysitter for my 3 young sons. Rather defeats the purpose of working if all your money goes for someone else's benefit and there is little to nothing left for the necessities of life: food, clothing, a roof over your head, and utilities to power the furnace when it gets cold. Into every life a little rain . . . and all that stuff.

As long as the rain does come through the ceiling in the kitchen and getting someone to repair said hole and the roof are proving difficult at best. Like I said, into every life a little rain. I am optimistic that I will be able to get everything handled. I'll do whatever it takes to keep my cabin in the mountains even if it means working more hours and finding someone to do the repairs, even if I have to drag him into the house and make him watch Kdrama

That is all. Disperse.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Anybody There?

Another friend told me the other day they were deleting their blog. "Nobody reads it any more. I get more comments and feedback on Facebook no matter what I post."

"So," I said, "you're tired of being ignored and want that instant gratification."

"No. That's not it."

Methinks they did protest too much.

Who doesn't like comments? Who doesn't like to know they're being read -- and heard? Who doesn't tap the mic when no stops what they're doing or turns to face them when they speak?

We all do. I'm no different from you. I like to know that someone is paying attention, someone other than the faithful readers who always comment -- or mostly comment when they have time from their own posting and waiting and hoping someone acknowledges them.

Thank you, faithful readers. I appreciate every one of you. Even when you never comment.

I decided a long time ago that I would write what moves me, what I want to share, and even what tickles me and not care when people respond. Someone will see the leaves I write on and give to the winds and if they don't . . . . Well, it shouldn't matter. That leaves me free to be me, free to say what I choose without worrying about  offending someone (usually everyone). I don't worry about pleasing everyone either, although I do take some pains to take the best pictures I possibly can and choosing a picture that illustrates what I write and pleases my asthetic senses. Okay, I do that for you and not so much for me because I can enjoy reading without the pictures. I also do it a bit for me because I like to exercise the artistic part of myself. So, yes, it is a selfish thing, just like writing what is on my mind.

I learned during my time on Facebook that the instant gratification of quick responses and lots of likes that it feels good to have proof that people are paying attention, that the mic is on and transmitting. I also found out that I draw the loons more often than not and that most immediate responses are from people who don't really care what I write. They care that they are paying just enough attention to acknowledge that I'm writing so I will pay attention to them. They really don't read, digest, or often even understand what I write. Moreover, they don't really care because they are doing their best to make sure that people notice them. A pat on the back even when there is nothing more than the fleeting thought someone is there under their hand is sufficient, especially if that person actually likes their comments and posts and acknowledges that they are being read. Or heard. They want to be noticed whether you get noticed or not.

That is not the case with a good friend of mine who stopped reading my posts because I would engage in unthinkable -- and often unconscionable -- behavior. I actually debated and discussed issues with people who flamed, yelled, and sought to change my mind. Had we been in the same room, the opposition would have begun yelling and gesticulating while calling me an idiot and a mindless sheep only aware enough to follow the wooly hind quarters in front of me. Through all the ranting and name-calling, I remained calm and logical and respectful, even when my opponents did not. When things got too far out of hand I would chide them, remind them to respect my rules, and then, when they inevitably continued on their tirade while frothing at the mouth and wishing they could hit me in the face or over the head with a hard and heavy object, I would shut them down. I blocked them. He was upset because I was being savaged and did not seem to realize it. I still smile at his chivalrous care of me. I made him angry by giving the nut jobs on both sides of the discussion space and time and my attention and not being there to defend me. I think he would have waded into the debate and beat them to a bloody pulp had we been standing in the same room. He's a gentleman like that.

He finally had to stop paying attention so it wouldn't make him angry enough to hit someone. I understood. He's a good man and that is not something I say about a lot of men -- or women for that matter. He pays attention. He listens. He reads. Even when he seldom comments, and most especially when he does comment, he cares. We often get into spirited debates that stir the blood and flush my cheeks. No doubt they flush his cheeks too, but you don't say such things about a GUY.

It's funny in a way. We were aware of each other all through high school, but didn't run with the same crowd. I sailed through the halls with a smile and he sailed through the halls usually high and sometimes drunk. He was an excellent student, but he was one of the hippie types with long hair and jeans with tattered ends He is still a bit of a hippie, wearing ankle bracelets, though his hair is mostly gone. He's still a handsome man. I thought he was cute in high school, but I was more intent on studying than dating.

Oh, don't think I didn't date, that I was one of THOSE nerds. Not at all. I dated a number of guys and met my first husband in high school playing Euchre during lunch. I was the only girl in the history of the school that was allowed to play Euchre with the guys at lunch, and one of the few girls who took the game seriously enough that I was invited to play in their homes. They eagerly included me whenever they played, even if it was in my house. My friend wasn't one of those guys. He was busy frying other fish, but we were aware of each other. That was enough then. Now we call each other frequently and sometimes talk for hours, changing subjects quickly, sliding from music to politics to finances to every topic under the sun -- and a few under the stars and moon. We are friends. He listens. He reads. He pays attention. Between us, the mic is always on.

Do  I care if anyone reads my posts? Yes, but not THAT much. I don't care if they comment, and they rarely do. What I care about is that I am writing my words on leaves and tossing them to the winds to land wherever they will. If someone picks up the leaf and reads what I have written, it is enough. If the leaf dries and crumbles to duff and dust, that's all right too. I sent my words on the wind and the wind spreads them.

I am reminded of something one of my teachers told me. "It's enough that over all the decades of teaching, a couple people pay attention, and at least one gets something useful out of it." Now that I have turned 60, I understand that so much better. Not just the words, but the sentiment and the emotion. If a couple people read my words and just one gets something useful from my mental meanderings, it is enough. It is like an author whose work I have edited telling me that they thank me as they rewrite their book, thank me for giving them something useful they can use.

That is all. Disperse.

No More Blonde Answers

Just a quick couple of thoughts on Hillary Clinton.

no blondes

Supporters of Hillary are claiming that anyone who attacks Hillary or questions her is sexist. How often have we heard the people under fire firing against the people firing against them? This is just business as usual in the White House and in the government and pretty much anywhere there is politicking. The point is it's a magician sleight-of-hand act. Oh, just ignore the fact that my hands are bloody and I'm still holding the knife while kneeling on the body of the person I just killed. To those people over there questioning me, asking me? They're the ones you need to go after. They're the ones that are wrong. They're sexist. They're racist. They are the enemy. And all while she's putting away the knife and washing her hands with bleach, cleaning up the evidence. It has always been that's with people who are the criminals. If they abuse you, if they use you, if they kill someone you love, they're not at fault. They are the ones who are being discriminated against. They are the ones who are the victims.

No ! They are the ones who are trying to divert your attention from what's really going on to get you focused on fighting each other and giving them time to hide the evidence. Are you surprised Hillary Clinton had a server in her own home for her own convenience? Are you surprised that 55,000, or whatever the number is, emails were deleted? Why are you surprised? This is a Clinton were talking about.

The Clintons are past masters, and mistresses, of focusing your attention elsewhere. Bill Clinton tried to hide his sexual peccadillos by starting a war with Iraq. He even went so far as to bomb Iraq during their holy festival of Ramadan. There's nothing wrong with that. After all, there was question of another scandal in the White House, scandal about a man whose character has been nothing but black. Do you remember when Ronald Reagan stated that character was an issue in the election? Were you there when Bush Senior said that it was a matter of character? Have you forgotten, we're talking about the Clintons and there is no character in them. Well, there is character, but it's bad character.

When I find really interesting is Pres. Obama's claims that he didn't realize that Hillary was using her own server or the output emails were not marked .gov in the address; he just found out about it when he read it in the newspapers.

Aren't you tired of the same old excuse? I certainly am. Then again, I knew that Obama was not the man for the White House just as I knew that slick Willie and Hillary were not the couple to represent this country. They all have the same agenda. Getting rich at the cost of honor, truth, character, and decency.

Yes, character does matter. Too bad we didn't figure that out – you didn't figure that out – before you voted these varmints and criminals into office. There is no excuse for what they have done to this country here and abroad and no excuse for you backing them. Well, there is an excuse, it's called stupidity. Or if you'd rather be politically correct, you can call it lack of information and being led by your nose. The result is the same. This country is and has been screwed. It's not your fault. Your victims. You were told lies and fed garbage by the media, by the Clintons, and by everyone else who wants to keep you from the truth/ After all, there's no profit in truth . . . or honor or justice. And there is certainly no truth in the American way; the American way died years ago. You wouldn't have noticed. It was a private funeral. No one was invited.

That is all. Disperse.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

It Arrived!

I did something different with one of my cross stitch projects. I ordered a frame and mats cut to exact size online. I knew I'd have to put the frame together, but how hard could it be if my Middle Eastern beauty had the right look on the wall?

The disassembled frame arrived yesterday evening and I set about reading directions, getting my handy dandy screwdrivers, and put it together. It was a puzzle with all the parts and pieces, and there was still the finished cross stitch to get ready for framing. It was quite the ordeal, but once I figured out how the frame went together, the rest was a matter of carefully stretching the fabric across the acid-free foam core and lashing it into place so that the face at the center of the fabric would center perfectly beneath the mats, mats that were cut to my specifications.

It worked.

I chose a brushed metal silver frame and 2 mats: Caribbean blue and silver foil. I can't stop looking at it as it hangs on the wall beside my bed. It's beautiful and the mats set off the cross stitch so well.

Arab beauty

This is what I began with, minus my signature, which is the year in which it was finished. I did that just before framing with the dark blue-green and a twist of silver metallic thread in the corner.

This is what I ended up with. Isn't she beautiful?

I remember when Beanie would finish the stitching on one of her cross stitch projects and she'd come to me to do the backstitching. She hated the fussy, and often tedious, backstitching. As I stitched I explained that the backstitching, as onerous as it can be, brings the work to life.  Since I've moved away she has had to do her own backstitching, but she does see what I meant all those years ago.

Hoity-Toity never frames her cross stitch, but she does cross stitch. She has a thing for women in hats, something she may have gotten from me since I used to have a collection of paintings, prints, and posters of women in hats, often with their faces hidden by the hats. I even found a silhouette of a turn of the century woman in a hat I found at a barn sale and Mom bought me a ceramic mask of a Victorian woman in a hat looking over her gaudily clad shoulder out into the room. It hangs in my living room now next to the bookcase by the doors onto the back deck. It just seemed right to hang there. I also have ceramic masks of all kinds hanging in my room and the hallway, and soon in the laundry room. There is one mask Mom sent me that is kind of creepy. That's why it's going in the laundry room where it can scare spiders and intruders coming through the laundry room door.

I have to finish the backstitching on the 5 x 7 Japanese geisha I finished in January (yes, I sometimes put off the backstitching too), buy the perfect frame and maybe even mat it, and it will hang in the Jack bedroom. For some reason I see that room as my Japanese/Oreintal/Asian room with fabric floor and table lamps and black lacquered furniture. It's still in my head right now because the room is still filled with boxes of cross stitch supplies, stationery, and books, as well as framed pictures. It is emptier by about 5 framed pictures, awards, and my Extra Class amateur radio operator license. I brought them into my bedroom to hang on the walls here.
Now all I need to do is find the right pieces to stitch and hang on the wall over my bed. I see a huge painted paper fan flanked by women with fans, Asian and Spanish and Moorish and whatever. Still haven't figured our where to hang the Indian beauties since the Jill bedroom will have princesses and fairy tale characters in cross stitch on the walls. That is where my grandchildren (mostly the granddaughters) will sleep when they visit. There is still a very long -- and bare -- hallway to populate with pictures of family and friends and maybe the odd cross stitch pieces framed by me. I can handle assembling the frames and choosing the mats. After all, the $50 that went for my Middle Eastern lady was money well spent, and a whole lot cheaper than the often $200 or more I spent for framing other, and often larger, cross stitch pieces. Live and learn -- and, in my case, spend a little less to get wonderful results.

That is all. Disperse. Go stitch your own masterpiece -- and don't forget the backstitching.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Game of Fire and Ice


Fire and ice. That is what George R. R. Martin has been trying to reconcile for a few years now. I agree with spikesleman that Martin has been procrastinating not because he's  been gallivanting around the world, going to cons, and spending time filling his theater in Santa Fe with famous guests and great movies, not to mention bits of commentary on all things football and censorship, but because he doesn't know how to get to the end. He's stuck on a path between so many possibilities, many of which he created himself, and can't figure out how to tie it all together in a final book that solves all the problems, ties up all the loose ends, and ends the war he began. 
Maybe he intends to live another 150 years or more and wants to spin this out into a hundred years war like the one in Europe that claimed so many lives. He would have the benefit of a whole new generation or three of readers beginning the journey at Game of Thrones and follows it through to the end -- whatever that will be. Many, many fans would die in the interim years, not gifted with long life and endless patience, but there it is. What else is one to do with more than 200 years of life but live it to the fullest, if not only in books. This is why I am more and more reluctant to begin a series. The writer may never end it or I will get bored with the increasingly hackneyed writing and quit before I get to the end. That has happened with some really great series in film and books.

That is not why I'm here today. Martin does figure in this post, but only because he wrote the story (has almost written the story) and because I have been ruminating on spikesleman's contention that Lyanna Stark's reputation was sullied in A Dance With Dragons.

I spent a great deal of time today searching ADWD to find out what she meant about Lyanna's reputation being maligned, and also to ruminate a bit on what others have speculated regarding Jon Snow's birth. On that point, I have never had a single doubt that Jon's parents were Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. Not a single doubt from book 1 on. Ned tells Jon that he is a Stark, and not Ned's bastard by way of a romance on the wrong side of the blanket during the war against the Targaryens, and there are the many comments and memories from Ned that he promised Lyanna to lie beside her brother and father in the family crypt. There is a hint in that promise that Ned not only bury her body in the crypt, but also her secret, that Jon is Rhaegar Targaryen's son. Robert Baratheon would not have let Jon Snow live, so Ned protected Jon by letting people thing he had blacked his honor and betrayed his marriage to Cat.

I've no doubt that Lyanna loved Robert Baratheon, but she was a wise woman. She knew Robert would never be true only to her, no matter his love for he. Robert was a lusty man who couldn't pass up a comely wench or a well turned ankle, full breasts, lovely arse, and feminine parts. His love for Lyanna has made him forget that any other woman existed, but Lyanna was no fool, except where Rhaegar was concerned. She may have loved Robert like a brother, and even as a woman loves a man, but she fell hard for Rheagar when he laid the winter roses in her lap at the tourney, making her the queen of love and beauty. He was already married to a Dornish princess, Elia, which Ser Barristan thought was not a patch on Ashara Dayne, her handmaiden.

Rhaegar's marriage was a political one and he did his duty as all royalty must and do. When he saw the wild northern girl, Lyanna Stark, his heart was lost -- and so was hers. Robert may have believed Rheagar kidnapped Lyanna, but the truth is that she went willingly with him, forsaking family honor to be with the man she loved. Her decision set the war horns sounding and ended with the death of the Targaryens and their rule over Westeros, thus opening the door between Westeros and the far north, setting the White Walkers free from their imprisonment by the Targaryeans and their fire dragons. That set the stage for what Rheagar had been desperate to achieve, the coming of Azor Ahai.

The Red Woman, Melisandre,  believes that Azor Ahai is Stannis Baratheon, but it is more likely that Daenerys Targaryen is Azor Ahai, the Lightbringer, reborn. Dany brought dragons back into the world and with it came magic. Dany is also impervious to fire where her brother, Viserys, was not, as evidenced by his death by molten gold, the crown that he bargined for when he sold Dany to Khal Drogo to enlist his hordes to cross the bitter water and take back the throne of Westeros. Dany is the only Targaryen able to withstand the fire and command dragons again.

There has been speculation that Jon Snow is Azor Ahai. He does after all have Targaryen blood, but if he was impervious to fire he would nto have burned his hand when he saved Commander Mormont from the wight when he set it on fire. No, Jon is the blue winter rose Dany saw growing out of the wall of ice in her vision. He is her kin, her equal and opposite. He is the embodiment of his Stark blood through Lyanna and thus the mating of fire and ice in the flesh. He is the bridge between the worlds of the White Walkers and the Dragons, but how he will be that bridge is yet to be revealed. He is important and there is no doubt about that.

While Stannis has some Targaryen blood, he is not Azor Ahai, but at least he came to the aid of the Watchers on the Wall, the brothers of Castle Black and the defenders of the wall. He is not the king nor will he be the king in the end, though I do believe the leeches he fed to the fires took out his main opponents: Joffrey Baratheon (Cersei and Jaime's bastard), Rob Stark, and Balon Greyjoy. He'd already killed his brother, Renly, so he wasn't a problem. Stannis is just one more left over king, but not THE king of Westeros however Melisandre may deceive him, and has obviously misread the prophecies and deceived herself.

There it is in a nutshell. Daenerys is Azor Ahai (no one said the Lightbringer had to be a man) and Jon Snow is the winter king that his half-brother Rob was not. Being a man of the Night's Watch will not affect that since I do believe there will be  no more need for them after the final battle and the marraige of Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen when the fire and ice dragons come together. There is also the possibility that Dany will give up the throne and go be with her unborn son and Khal Drogo, but inevitably it will be Lyanna and Rhaegar's son, Jon, who will end up ruling, and maybe not from the iron throne. One never knows with these things.

So, to recap, Lyanna was not really kidnapped and Robert started a war over being cuckolded before he was wed, but, as with most situations, his actions set the necessary gears in motion to bring about the end of the war between fire and ice and the dawn of a new age when the north and south (winter and summer) at last come together and end the war that has raged for 1000 years. As with all else in life, everything ends and from those endings new beginning spring.

By the by, Lyanna was not a wanton woman, but she was a woman in love. Love is not always wise, but it is always, as the Chinese say, the motive force that brings interesting times.
Btw, spikesleman, this information comes not from ADWD but from the boards. There was no mention in any of the books, or even a hint, that Lyanna was not as dutiful as was believed by Roberth Baratheon. I will, however, concede the point that she knew Robert could not be faithful to her or to any woman. She loved Robert like a brother and she would not have married him family or no, Rhaegar just happened to complicate matters. No, Lyanna was not kidnapped nor was she raped, but you know how rumors get started and how one's point of view changes what one sees when one sees and does not merely look.

That is all. Disperse.

Friday, February 20, 2015

No Joy From the Left

Let me begin by writing that I know how important it is to blog more often than I do, but so is reading and working. Housework obviously does not take a front seat in my world as I prefer to work or even occasionally make dense yeasty bread than clean house. The bags full of drywall dust damped my enthusiasm for getting all that gunk out of the carpets, mostly because no matter how much I vacuum, it is still there.  There will be an end, but I'm not sure I shall live to see it happen. I'd rather read . . .

or listen to a book on computer/Kindle/Fire, and listen I did last weekend to Jason L. Riley's Please Stop Helping Us.  

I was discussing the book and Riley's excellent research, style, and facts with a good friend of the Republican persuasion when he rained all over my parade. Riley contends, and rightly so, that liberals have it bass ackwards (as my mother used to say). They are not being oppressed by whites and are in fact, as Dr. Bill Cosby suggested, at fault for their own problems. No, whitey is not keeping you down nor are blacks who have made a success of their life in the business world selling their fellow blacks down the river to be Uncle Toms, Oreos, etc. These successful black men, from scientist George Washington Carver to Dr. Ben Carson, and, yes, even Bill Cosby, have been and are successful not by bowing to white supremacy but to realizing education, proper diction, and respect for the way the world works best is the only real and honest path to success.

Riley lays out in solid prose with facts and figures that cannot be disputed that by playing victim blacks who have embraced the ghetto mentality and raised thugs, criminals, and ne'er do wells on pedestals is not healthy nor is it wise.

I was surprised to find out that George Washington Carver was denounced by the black community at large for his successes and his work ethics and political beliefs. The prevailing belief was that Carver was an Uncle Tom and did not have his people's best interests at heart. The only path to equality was through political activism of the likes of Rev. Wright, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton variety. If you can't beat them, don't join them, beat them down with hellfire and brimstone and demand recognition and equality by making whitey feel guilty for keeping the black man, and woman, down. Make them pay.

Thought Riley did not mention it, Frederick Douglass was also denounced by the black community and would have been the first black vice president, and eventually president, had his own people not joined against him and Victoria Woodhull in pulling them down and forcing Ms. Woodull into bankruptcy to keep them from winning, and even campaigning for, the presidential nomination. What a travesty and a shame.

Riley discussed everything from welfare to prisons to the ghetto mindset that keeps black Americans from being taken seriously. He also discusses the impact of gangsta rap and the higher incidence of unwed mothers and its effect on the nuclear family. I was impressed by his style and by the facts. They are very similar to my own beliefs and knowledge of what is really going on.

I did not, however, know that Asians comprised such a huge percentage of admissions to charter schools, colleges, and universities, and how liberal and black insistence on maintaining quotas of blacks in all areas of education, business, and politics have seriously harmed Asians and other immigrants. Neither blacks nor liberals are actually interested in maintaining equal opportunity, unless it is heavily weighted towards blacks at the expense of Asians and other immigrants. That is not what equal opportunity means and it is not what Dr. King and Robert Kennedy and the men and women who fought for civil rights intended.

As I passionately went on, Jeff stopped me dead in my tracks with a heart stopping dousing with icy water. "None of it matters because they aren't going to pay attention or even read his book." He was right. Liberals and militant blacks have no interest in facts and research and data. All they want to see and hear is more white bashing and more guilt and more fiery rhetoric that does more to divide the nation and the people. Facts and figures have a way of making their opponents' eyes glaze over and yawn. What do all the facts and figures in the world mean if the opposition (militant blacks and liberals) never takes the time to read, listen, and see the truth. Their views of equality have nothing to do with truth or equality and everything to do with beating every nay-saying educated opponent down with yelling, screaming, misrepresentation (lies), heightened emotions, and violence.

He's right. And I am right in reminding myself and others that this is just more evidence that George Orwell's view of socialism is as obvious as the pigs in Animal Farm. Socialism is a good idea, and so is Utopia, if only there were no people involved.

I highly recommend Jason L. Riley's Please Stop Helping Us for a dose of facts and truth . . . even if you are a liberal or black blinded by the ghetto mindset and sold on being a victim.

For the record, Mr. President, yes, integrity, honor, and character do matter. 

Btw, there is a reason the word for out of fashion and not classy is gauche.  In English, gauche means left.

That is all. Disperse.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

For Ruthie


I've been discussing various cross stitch designs from Lanarte's Cultures collection to Benway's NKF cross stitch design I've been trying not to start, the Oriental Beauty. Benway is a company I've not stitched before so we will see how it goes.  I found her on Amazon and was immediately entranced by the style and grace of the piece.

All full stitches and the pattern is color coded. Should be interesting when I get to it. It's been tugging at me since it arrived and I'm fighting the urge to start it NOW before I've finished what I am already stitching.  I might even get busy and photograph the other 3 pieces.

In other news, I finally found a kit for a geisha I wanted that goes with the 12 x 12 geisha I've already worked from Dimensions Gold. Unfortunately, Dimensions doesn't have it in stock any more and finding her has been difficult -- until this afternoon when I was looking for the Oriental Beauty.

The DG piece is called Enchanting Geisha, and she is quite enchanting.  I of course ordered her right away so I can have the pair I originally intended. I don't know why Dimensions decided to stop making that kit because they still have patterns I've seen everywhere for years, even decades (at least 2 decades). It doesn't make sense to me. There are dozens of lovely geishas everywhere and I managed to snag Kihaku after much waffling and counting pennies. I haven't started her either since there were projects that needed to be done first, like my grandchildren's Xmas stockings.

I've even decided, and chosen the patterns for, 2 more Xmas stockings. These are for my estranged sons boys, Aidan and Ian. I'll send them to my ex-husband and let he and his wife decide whether or not to tell the boys and their father where they came from. The decision has more to do with what I want and how I feel than with whatever problem it may cause my ex and his wife or my son. I don't need the credit, but I do need to do this for my own peace of mind. I hate leaving the boys out when I made stockings for all the other grandchildren even if they don't know who I am. I'm strange that way.

Besides, I like making the stockings. Maybe I should make stockings and sell them to whomever wants them for themselves or their children. Considering all the work and time I put into them, the stockings would not be cheap, and I should recoup my expenses and time. After all, the stockings are heirlooms and will last for decades. Shouldn't the price be commensurate with that? Artisans in every field expect to be paid for their expertise and time and materials.

I don't like pink, but Kihaku isn't something I'm going to wear, so pink isn't a problem. I was struck by the soft colors and pose of the graceful geisha and counted enough pennies to buy her a couple of years ago. I've decided that the Jack bedroom will feature geishas and other Asian entertainers (entertainer is what geisha means) and the Jill bedroom will feature fairy tales and the kinds of pieces that children would love. I hope my granddaughters will spend their summers and at least a Xmas or two in the Jill bedroom, unless I can coax their mother into moving up here with the girls and bringing their furniture, clothes, and things. I think this would be a lovely place for the girls to grow up and Megan can help me around the house. I'll cook and she can clean. We'll work it out somehow.

The girls can also help me plant and nurture a garden or two and figure out what to do with the hangar size garage and the 2 outbuildings that house nothing but spiders and possibilities.

Well this post turned out to be much longer than I intended. Maybe it's time for me to get back into the swing of things and begin posting more regularly.

In other news, just while I'm here and typing, I actually like my new job. I've already soared past the pittance of a rate that BTS paid me for 3 years and I also have 3 accounts so I won't be without work all the time while the doctors goof off and wait to inundate us with dictations they should have done all along. I've gone 3 cents a line and it's only the 4th week. Not too shabby. There's no one hounding me all the time to switch programs and do a stat report and I spend less time looking at the clock and more time typing, which also adds considerably to my bank account. It is also a change being paid every other week instead of the 4th and 20th, as long as they don't fall on the weekend or a holiday or the payroll department doesn't screw up and forget to get the payroll processing done on time and then prevaricating about why we aren't being paid on time. I just love when that happens. Don't you? /snark

Well, as anyone who knows me will tell you, I could go on much longer, but I will stop here. I want to get some stitching done and maybe even take photos of the other pieces I'm working on. One word of advice. Just because a cross stitch project is 5 x 7 inches finished does not mean it will be done any quicker than one that is 24 x 24 or even 24 x 36. I learned that one the hard way. Smaller means more work and much frustration, even if it is worth it.

That is all.  Disperse.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The WiFi That Wasn't

I lost 2 days of work last week because of the wonky WiFi cutting in and out, taking forever to stream a video (talk about broken cataracts of streaming), and losing packets. I called Skybeam to complain and see if there was an area-wide outage only to find out the antenna was working fine and my router, now 7-1/2 months old, would have to be replaced. They offered me a fix. Send a tech out on Monday to realign the antenna and installed a Skybeam router for $6.99 a month ($83.88 a year) added to my bill, which would ensure me that my service would always be up.

Monday dawned bright and clear after my car accident of the afternoon before and I waited and wiated and waited and waited until well into the afternoon when it would be past the time for a service call. To my surprise while I waited, the broadband signal was strong and the videos were actually streaming. Music downloaded at a proper pace and web pages did not take forever and a half day to show up on my computer. I could enjoy the net in peace. My peace was to be short-lived as I soon found out the truth behind the wonky web and WiFi buffeting over the cataracts of the stream.

I didn't need a new router. The Linksys I bought in July 2014 was perfectly fine. The antenna did not need to be aligned, showing up on the tech's small Asus computer as 12 x 12. That as true as it gets in the radio business; 12 vertical and 12 horizontal. That is true. He would be happy to install the router he brought with him, and which came with a hefty yearly rental cost, but it would not solve the problem. I had put my trust in Linksys which is the workhorse of routers, and indeed of electronic equipment, as I had believed prior to Saturday's call to Tech Support at Skybeam. The problem wasn't what I had been told. The real problem was the tower.

Skybeam does a lot of business, but their equipment is outdated and overloaded. The equipment providing my signal is brand new, top of the line, and the latest word in WiFi technology. It is supposed to service 60 households and therein lay the problem. It was servicing 90 households, exceeding the bandwidth and slowing down when all 90 households were using the WiFi broadband at the same time. Think of 90 mice and their families clamoring to get through a hole made for 60 mice and children at the same time. The hole gets filled up and only a mouse or two will be able to squeeze through to the warehouse of cheese on the other side.

I chose not to add the router rental to my bill and will be forced to wait while Skybeam takes down the older tech on the tower and moves 30 customers off my node on the tower so the 20 Mbps I have been paying for will finally stream over smooth broadband waves.

Since the problem is a fairly recent one, I can be assured the addition of the 30 extra customers on a filled node happened quite recently -- about the time my stream began rushing headlong over the cataracts like Bogey and Hepburn in The African Queen. Bogey and Hepburn were separated, but eventually found one another, just as I have been separated from my smooth WiFi stream and fast download times. Since Skybeam is the only line of sight service in the area, I'm stuck, but not for long. Since I won't be writing a negative review for my Linksys router, I will in exchange bombard Skybeam with negative reviews and spread the word that they need to get the tech on the towers updated and the rocks and white water out of my broadband stream.

In the meantime, I'm keeping relaxed the best way I know how . . . by cross stitching and reading. I've been switched back and forth between one of Lanarte's Cultures Collection pieces (all of which are stunning), Dimensions Gold 5 x 7 geisha, another Lanarte -- Arabian Woman 5 x 7), and Joadoor's Swan, taking breaks by reading Isaak Walton's The Compleat Angler and various and sundry other books (some on Kindle and some, like Walton's, in hardback form with a ribbon bookmark included.

I can't show you the books, but I did snap a photo of the Eastern Beauty from Lanarte, which is nearly done. I am quite pleased with the progress and can't wait to get her matted, framed, and hung on the wall. So what if most of my cross stitch pieces are of the female variety? Joadoor's Swan could be a male. Show me a male who looks as beautiful, intriguing, and stitchable and I shall stitch him and add him to the collection.  As much as I like male bodybuilders, I am looking more for grace and style than muscles. Give me a male dancer in a high jete or, as in a couple of patterns I own, silhouettes of dancers doing the tango or jazz, and I'll add them to the list. Most of the time, I stitch what appeals to me and the mystery and mystique of women all over the world and across the ages appeal most to me, like the lady below.

Arab beauty

That is all. Disperse.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Knock, Knock, Knock

This weekend I tried to get back into a more normal sleeping rhythm as mine was disrupted by working back to back full time jobs last week, without sleep for 3 days, and cranky as a wet hen, and just about as aggressive, though there is no one here to benefit from it or be hurt by it. UPS doesn't deliver on weekends and I didn't have any visitors.  At least not so you'd notice, though I could swear...

When I lived in the cottage in Colorado Springs I had several instances where I would be deeply asleep, heavy into the REM/NREM phase, and I'd hear someone knocking on the door, waking me abruptly from sleep. I got out of bed and went to the door and there was no one there and no sign anyone had been there. The same thing happened this morning, or rather very late last night. At 2:30 AM to be exact. 

I was deep into the REM/NREM sleep and 3 loud knocks on the glass front door woke me immediately, dragging me from whatever dream I was enjoying at that moment. (And that seems to be the only similarity; I'm always dreaming something really good.) I woke to darkness and listened for another knock. Nothing. No sounds outside of the furnace and the lack of wind howling outside. No shuffling. No sound of the suet cage banging on the back door -- because all the birds were asleep and not feeding for a change. Nothing. Even the usual stirrings, creakings, rumblings, and crackings were silent. I got up in darkness, leaving the light off, and walked boldly down the hallway. The front door glowed with light from the big pole light in the driveway, a blue glow that lit the way adequately. I peered through the front door glass and there was no sign of anyone have been there since yesterday afternoon when UPS dropped off a small package in a plastic bag. His footprints were nearly filled in from the snow that had since fallen. Nothing new. No sign of new tracks in the driveway and the old tracks were also covered with newly fallen snow. I went to the back door and there were no signs of anyone have been there either. The bird tracks were covered with new snow and there were no tire tracks in the driveway in any direction.  I went back to bed.

When I was fully awake this afternoon I got online and searched the Net for answers, as I had done the first couple of times it happened and I decided I had not missed anyone at the door. The explanations ranged from dream interpretation (important news or financial collapse) to UFO visitations (3 knocks akin to a hypnotist snapping his fingers to wake the hypnotized from sleep) to awaken the abducted from their drugged trance to some sort of neurologic disorder. 

It wasn't sleep apnea or even obstructive sleep apnea because there has been no snorting, gasping, feeling of being hag-ridden, someone sitting on my chest (cats stealing breath) or other signs of choking or loss of oxygen. I do tend towards sinus and nasal congestion, but that has more to do with changes in atmospheric pressure (better than arthritis and bunions for telling the weather) than with sleep apnea. And there were no signs of other physiologic disturbances. 

I suppose I could go with some apparition or spirit trying to get my attention because Kevin had stopped by some time this morning, about 8 AM, but I thought that was my imagination at the time. How do I know it was Kevin? The prints of his heavy duty snow boots outside my front door and new tracks in the driveway going in an out when I got up. Kevin didn't knock and he didn't say anything, but I did hear noises at the door, probably Kevin trying the knob and finding it locked. He knows I don't lock the back door, but it was evidently not important or he would have come into the house across the brand new welcome mat I put out to keep his wet and muddy boots off my living room carpet.   None of that had anything to do with the 3 knocks on the door.

When I lived at the cottage in the Springs the knocks sounded on a wooden door. I have only 1 wooden door here; all the others are glass. The knocks I heard this morning were 3 knocks on a glass door. I know my mind keeps working when I am asleep (it has to keep the body running [digesting, breathing, pumping blood, etc.] even though I'm resting). I do think my mind is sufficiently advanced to be able to differentiate the sounds of knocking on wood and on glass, but that would take a level of sophistication that seems like shooting fish in a barrel with a Howitzer. Too much effort for too little return. Something else is definitely going on. 

Being me, the first thing I imagine is a warning that someone is coming to force me out of my house or tell me someone is dead. Neither is the case, but my default setting is always trouble and always my fault or related to me. Yes, me living in a me-centric universe. It has to mean something, but for the life of me I cannot imagine what. 

Knowing what I do about alien abductions (yes, I've read Whitley Streiber's books and watched the X-Files. Like Mulder, I sort of believe, but not for the reasons you might think), believing that there is something in my brain or DNA to interest an alien to abduct me many times over the past 7 or so years, and probably the reason for my wanderlust and constant moving about for the better part of my life, even if I have to discount that my father was in the Army and we were deployed to various bases around Europe and Central America as well as the United States since I was 10 months old. Maybe that is where the books and stories I've written in my head have disappeared to. That's another story for another ride into the depths of the abyss that is my mind. 

Or maybe it is my clairvoyance, specifically my precognitive abilities, surfacing to let me know something or someone is coming. And it had better not be who I think it is because he will not get a better answer from me now -- or ever. 

Whatever is going on, if anyone has any suggestions, other than the ones touched on above, let me know. I'd like to know. You know what I always say: Knowledge is wasted when it isn't shared. 

That is all. Disperse.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Twenty Below and Falling


Yesterday was an exercise in waiting. In the freezing cold. Without a furnace for hours. In subzero temperatures. While the birds attacked the feeder and suet cake (I hung out a brand new one yesterday afternoon). Did you know birds look much bigger when their feathers are all fluffed out and they need to eat about 10x their weight in food to keep their racing metabolisms racing?

It was cold yesterday. It's colder this morning: -11 degrees when I got up and walked around. The high today will be -4 and the low was -19. So far. It's cold. Very cold. Witches broomsticks turn to ice and any exposed (or covered) fleshy parts stick to the stick. Did I mention it was cold? It IS cold.

At any rate, yesterday wasn't a total loss since, after 3 trips to Colorado Springs on icy roads littered with cars that didn't make it, Ron, the furnace guy, figured  out all the problems, fixed all the broken parts of my 3-year-old furnace (we figured that out yesterday when I called Goodman Mfg.) and at 8:30 PM the furnace began to give out with heat. Warm, glorious heat that for the first time since I moved in made the freezing tile floors warm and welcoming to bare toes and feet. I didn't need to keep the space heaters on and I didn't need a mound of blankets on the bed or to wear the 5 layers of clothes I was swathed in while waiting from 7 AM until 8:30 PM to get the furnace fixed. The really good thing is that the furnace is still under warranty and the owner of Heat Depot, Mike, currently vacationing in Arizona for the rest of this year and into the new year, waived the labor charges. Considering he must refund me nearly $900 in parts charges because of the parts warranty still in effect, he should waive the labor charges. However, since I now have an almost completely rebuilt Goodman furnace, I doubt he will be able to continue waiving labor charges when there is no more labor to charge for. He'll have to refund actual cash.

Bad news: Furnace broke yesterday.
Good news: Furnace fixed last night and I spent a warm (sometimes too warm with the thermostat at 60 degrees) night and didn't feel the constantly running furnace sucking the moisture out of my mouth, nose, and other moist mucous membranes. It was a pleasant night and I slept well.

But life goes on and this morning bright and early Steve from Nuance called to remind me I had more paperwork to fill out and that I needed to get that done today. I also needed to send in my I-9 forms TODAY with witnessed signature to prove I am who I say I am. Then there are more forms to read and sign off on, forms which I already read and signed off on last week, but which did not take, and I needed to uninstall Office 365 and install MS Word 2013 (stand-alone) because 365 will not work with their programs and Word 2013 will. Good thing Microsoft was willing to give my money back (in 5-7 days) while allowing me to install MS Word 2013, which I bought last week and installed on the old computer, but now must install on the new computer that arrived 2 weeks early yesterday. No rest for the wicked -- or for those coming off a week's vacation into a frozen hell. Oh well.

The other good news yesterday is that the computer that wasn't supposed to arrive until January 12, arrived 2 weeks early and is almost ready to go. I still need some programs from Nuance, but as soon as I scan and email the I-9 forms, I might be able to get that done today. The there's the training, for which I will be paid, but must be completed before I start working on January 6. Details, details, details. It seems I will be bogged down in details.

At least I won't have to deal with BTS much longer and, because of my new start time, I won't have to work 8 hours during my last week with them (next week). I'll tell them today that the best I can give them will be 6 hours during my last week, which should be fine with Payroll since they still have me listed as part time anyway. Besides, I'm doing them a favor by working an extra week until they can get someone trained and ready to take my place since I'm leaving. And I will give them 8 hours of makeup time because I couldn't work yesterday due to the freezing cold. My hands are not as dextrous when they are frozen and the nails have turned blue. Give a little, get a little. And I have gotten very little outside of paychecks from BTS for the past 3 years. Goodbye, good luck, and good riddance.

If you're in need of a job, I wouldn't suggest working for BTS. There are no benefits to speak of (or to use) and pay will be frozen at your entry rate for the foreseeable future (the rest of your enslavement). If you must work for them, keep looking while you're employed and jump ship at the first opportunity -- or when gainfully employed by a company that offers and makes sure you have benefits. Good benefits. No sense being a slave forever. Emancipate yourself. No one else will do it for you.

So, on this frozen morning as I finish my once hot and now cold chai, I wish you warmth, a good working furnace (which would not be a Goodman), and plenty of hot water for baths, dishes, laundry, and tea -- or hot chai.

That is all. Disperse.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Of snow, subzero temps, and furnaces


Well, my morning began before the crack of dawn. I had been unable to sleep most of the night tossing and turning and generally feeling something was missing. What was missing was the sound of the furnace going on and off. As my room began to get colder, I realize that the furnace wasn't working. The temperature outside was fast approaching -5°, and so was the inside. At 7 o'clock this morning, I called the furnace people and said my furnace wasn't working. The owner and Kyle, the only two who promised to work on my furnace with their problems, we're both in Arizona. There would be a delay in them getting here in time to fix my furnace, and get me back some warmth.

 The owner promised to send Ron, one of the two men who came to clean out my furnace last summer, and who told me that my propane tank was empty. My propane tank was empty and he didn't realize he hit the cut off switch for the propane to the furnace. So Ron would be here and about an hour and a half, and he was on time. Of course, he drove past the house once and had to come back but he did arrive on time. He came to the door, said hello, and said he was headed down underneath the house to work on the furnace.

 After some tinkering noisily, the furnace came on and there was heat. And then there wasn't heat because the furnace was off again. The furnace was off. This furnace was on. The furnace was off again. And then clouds of smoke wafted through the blowing snow outside. The furnace was on again. Slowly the heat began to creep up as the furnace stayed on -- briefly. Ron came back upstairs and told me that it was either the pressure switch or one of the many chimney flues on top of the roof had become clogged with snow and ice. We decided to replace the for the pressure switch anyway just in case. Better be safe than sorry. Ron is off down the mountain to find out if they have a pressure switch in house or so have to order it, and he'll call back or come back to let me know. In the meantime, it's good I have space heaters. At least my water won't freeze up and my pipes will stay unfrozen as well.

 That was my morning. How was yours?

 Despite what the guy who built this house told me, the furnace, a Goodman, is builder grade and cheap. I already knew it was 85% efficient, which is not sufficient. So, before we finalize the sale of this house, there will be one of two things happening. I will either get a very large cut in price equal to the cost of installation and purchase of a brand-new furnace. Anything less than a new furnace is not going to fly. The other option is to have the builder /owner by and install a brand-new furnace. I will except nothing other than these two options. Come summer, I will have a new furnace to go into the 2015 winter. Okay, the late 2015 winter.

 I love this house, but I will not live in a house where the furnace is iffy at best. I will have heat even at 10,000 feet above sea level. In the Rocky Mountains. In the midst of winter. While it's snowing. And at -5°. Or colder.

 Good thing I'm not shy about asking and getting what I want . Into every life a little, well, snow, must fall, and it's a good thing I know how to use a shovel. And if I can't do the work, I know how to hire the people who can. This is a very unusual and to a very restful week of vacation before I begin my new job in January. Best to get these kinks out of the way ahead of time. No matter how kinky.

 That is all. Disperse. I hope you're having a lovely warm winter.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Diamonds and Toads


I have walked, eyes wide open, back into the political arena where the Clintons and the Obamas circle and call each other names. Bill called Barack an amateur and Obama called Clinton a scene stealer. Both are right. That's what you get with twins, even the political kind.

As I read Dereliction of Duty, I was not surprised to find Slick Willy's trademarks still alive and slithering from between Obama's lips, reminding me once again of an old fairy talk about sisters who were touched by a witch and given exactly what they deserved. Some sources called the story by Charles Perrault Diamonds and Toads (or Toads and Diamonds) because of the gift each girl was given. The eldest girl, proud and disagreeable at the best of times, and her mother's favorite, was lazy and rude and disinclined to help anyone out, no matter what was at stake. The younger daughter, biddable, sweet, and courteous, was generous with her time and her mother's least favorite child.  Had there been 10 daughters, the mother would still have disliked the third child because she was kind and sweet, a real doormat in her mother's eyes. No one got anywhere good by being kind and thoughtful. The way to get up in the world is to show the world that everyone else is beneath you and you deserve to be treated as royalty.

The younger daughter gave a poor woman a drink at the well, drawing the water herself, and was rewarded with every word she spoke as diamonds, pearls, and roses dropped from her lips. Mama was ecstatic and vowed her eldest daughter, her favorite, would also be rewarded. I can still see the glitter in mama's eyes while she waited for her reluctant eldest offspring to come back from the well.

The eldest daughter waited at the well and found no poor old hag waiting for her. Along came a stately woman of style and wealth who asked the eldest daughter to draw a cup of water for her. The eldest daughter was not to be so put upon when she had only come to be rewarded by the old hag. She sniffed and tossed her hair and told the beautiful woman she could use her own two hands to get her own water. Alas, the wealthy woman was the old hag and the eldest daughter received her gift in due course. When she returned home, toads and vipers dropped from her lips with each word.

So what do diamonds and toads have to do with Bill Clinton, the president who gave us 8 years of a balanced budget, and Barack Obama, who has given us the longest and deepest depression in American history? Diamonds and toads.

Clinton and Obama (when Obama has time to prepare and can read from a teleprompter) are great communicators, pearls of political maneuvering and double-speak falling from their lips. Both have the power to sway the people, as Bill demonstrated at the 2012 Democratic Convention when he painted Obama as a centrist who wants only what is best for the people and the economy of this less than great country that has fallen on hard times. Gone were the petulant and snide comments to Congress ("I won.") and the video clips where Obama said he would use any means necessary to go around Congress since they (Republican controlled House) would not bow to his will on immigration, taxation, and health care. Gone was the smirking Obama who voted present during his 3 terms in office in the Illinois senate and the one unfinished term in the U.S. Senate. Gone was the lie that Obama opposed the Iraq war, the same man who promised to have all U.S. troops out of Iran within 18 months and Afghanistan in 2 years. Gone was the man who blamed George W. Bush and the Republicans every time one of his policies failed and his promises never materialized. In his place stood a man who was no longer an amateur but a great statesman willing to compromise and put the will of the American people first, who worked tirelessly to create jobs, and who was a wizard of foreign diplomacy. Bill's diamonds and pearls and roses fell like rain as he praised and reimagined Barack Obama, lionizing the clueless and petulant child who handed off all the hard work to advisors and allowed himself to be bullied by Michelle and masterfully manipulated by Valerie Jarrett just so he could play golf, appear on television, and raise money for the DNC war chest.

The whole point of the illusion Bill created was a trade-off. Bill was banking points with Obama so Obama would in turn back Hillary for her second run for the Oval Office in 2016. Bill didn't realize that Obama would renege on his part of the deal, though Bill and Hillary were aware of the strong possibility Obama would shut them out once he had what he wanted -- a second term in the White House, to be closely followed by Michelle's turn in the Oval Office under Valerie Jarrett's guidance.

Yes, the Clintons want another 8 years to party hearty and fleece the people of the United States while they groom Chelsea for her turn in the Oval Office. The Clintons want their legacy preserved -- even if it means making nice with the Obamas and Jarrett.

Here we are 2 years later still struggling economically while our military is gutted and living on food stamps, a legacy we have the Clintons to thank. Bill and Hillary and all the Clintonistas continue to point to the economic prosperity of the 1990s and the balanced budgets, but the average person has no idea how all that came about.

The Obamas, like the Clintons, detest the military and have in their turns gutted the military infrastructure and the morale of the men and women who serve and have served. Our military presence at the beginning of the Clinton administration was the envy of the world, but not for long as Clinton balanced his budgets by cutting the materiel, supplies, and hardware (ships, planes, tanks, etc.) while freezing military pay until it dropped below the poverty level and into the arms of government for food stamps and WIC for their families. As far as the Clintons were concerned, the military were glorified valets and servants and they treated their military aides and the Joints Chiefs of Staff as lackeys, often forbidding aides working in the White House to wear their uniforms. Clinton closed bases during his tenure, several of which he deeded to the Chinese on American soil, thus creating a Chinese presence on American soil with the same immunity as the Chinese embassy as the land is owned and thus protected by immunity. China in North America, a strong foothold in some of the counry's prime real estate from a military standpoint. And let us not forget how much of American military technology and hardware Clinton sold to the Chinese while making room for them on American soil. That was Clinton's bow to the enemy as deep and as complete as Obama's bow to the Saudis during his Apology Tour in his first year in office.

Obama in his turn does the same thing, gutting the military budget while Michelle lambasted communities around military bases to step up and support the military and their families financially and emotionally. After all, the government can only do so much to support the military complex that protects this country from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

The Clintons had their noses bloodied in Mogadishu in the same way that Obama did in Benghazi, and basically for the same reasons. Clinton left bin Laden due to his lack of action and unwillingness to stop schmoozing and golfing when bin Laden was cornered and could be taken out without too much fuss or efforts. The military assets were in place, but Clinton could not be bothered to take the call or give the order. Obama took out bin Laden, so we are told, and shown in a grainy, barely visible video, and his body buried at sea.

Neither Clinton nor Obama know much about foreign policy as evidenced by the 40 military events/skirmishes, the constant deployment and redeployment of soldiers overseas tour after tour, and the misreading of military intelligence. Say what you will about Bush the younger, at least he did his best to build the military back up to strength, only to have Obama tear it down and cede the high ground to Russia time and time again while doing nothing to avenge or support U.S. military forces. Clinton's claims of shock and outrage during every single international faux pas is echoed by Obama's chock and outrage and neither man did anything to back it up, Obama going to so far as to draw a line in the sand.

Clinton ceded control of U.S. armed forces to the United Nations and Obama takes full advantage of that little wrinkle in U.S. military readiness. In other words, U.S. forces are controlled and deployed under UN generals and colonels. Mercenaries for lease by anyone and everyone.

Clinton ran from the many scandals during his tenure in office by going out and creating incidents on the international stage, like the bombings during Ramadan, while Obama dithers, cries foul, and goes off to a fund raiser or to play golf while leaving Iranian marching for democracy, Egyptians struggling to throw off the Islamic yoke, and Israel stands alone against enemies on all fronts.

The list goes on. Clinton and Obama are cut from the same cloth, except that Clinton is much savvier where politics are concerned and Obama plays where Jarrett allows him to.  Both are narcissists greedy for power and prestige who will use and abuse everyone to get their way. Obama uses illegal immigrants to swell his ranks while Clinton charms them and changes faces and costumes whenever it fits his -- and Hillary's -- agenda, both men dropping toads and vipers among the diamonds and pearls with each and every word.

That is all. Disperse.

Friday, December 19, 2014

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu


This morning I wrote my resignation for BTS. After 3 years I have decided to cut my losses and move on. The fact that I am moving on to the company that gobbled up a previous employer and has pioneered voice recognition is somewhat important, especially since it means I get to keep the 9 years of seniority I built up before being laid off in 2003 and won't have to go through all that again. Three weeks of vacation time at the start of a new job is nothing to sneeze at.

I am leaving BTS with only one week of work to go since I had already scheduled next week off. I did not make this move without due consideration. I gave BTS a chance to meet the new offer of 10-1/5 cents per line and they flatly refused just has they have refused for 3 years to raise my pay. I also asked for a shift change and they hemmed and hawed and said it would take time to replace me since I am the lead on the 2nd shift, a fact that was unknown to me prior to this, and a fact that should have earned me a raise in pay when it happened 2 years ago. Even though they are moving off voice recognition reports and back to typing reports on accounts I already know very well, it's not enough of a draw to keep me there. If they think it will take "a good dea of time" to find someone to replace me on 2nd shift in order for me to transition to a different shift, they will have to rethink their position since they have exactly 2 weeks now.

With this change in employers I will get paid holidays whether I work them or not, health benefits (vision, dental, and health) that do not cost the price of my mortgage ($60 a month), keeping previous seniority, 3 weeks of vacation, sick time, the removal of the permanent knot between my shoulder blades, and the return of my peace of mind. There is a downside of course. I will have to learn the way the new doctors speak and the new hospital is a teaching hospital with residents dictating, which means long dictations that will end with not many lines typed and saved, but I can hope that the new hospital doesn't let the residents dictate all the time and, working the shift that I will be on, very few residents dictating at all. I will have to work Tuesday through Saturday, but that means I will also have a week day off so I can run into town and do errands without running back home to work. I might even take the time to stop at a restaurant, get out of the car, and sit down for a leisurely meal.

And 3 weeks of vacation from the start.

I am not completely happy about having to learn a new hospital and new software or having to deal with yet more crapy voice recognition generated files, but I am happy that most of my needs will be met and my income will be double what it is now every single month. That is to be preferred to the static slave wages I've had with BTS. So I cast my fears and trepidations aside, accepted the job with Nuance, sent the resignation letter to BTS, and will now move into a brighter future. It's not all perfect, but what is any more? It's a conditional happily ever after for now. I'm still looking forward to national and international best selling author with millions in the bank and an end to wage slavery. THAT is my real happily ever after.

That is all. Disperse.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Many Faces of Evil

When I decided to watch Disney's new Maleficent with Angelina Jolie I was surprised that so many people were opposed to changing the story of Sleeping Beauty and focusing on a very different Maleficent. To add Angelina Jolie as Maleficent was tantamount to heresy. How dare Disney make Maleficent a heroine! It went against the grain. What was next, a sympathetic Lady Tremaine as Cinderella's stepmother? Horrors! Heresy!


I enjoyed Maleficent and was not too disturbed by Jolie's portrayal. She was sympathetic, but tended to try to mimic the original actress who voiced the animated version of Maleficent in Disney's Sleeping Beauty, Eleanor Audley, Audley also voiced Lady Tremaine. Her style was high class with a hint of British pronunciation at times, but definitely a deep, rich, malevolent voice where Jolie's is certainly not any of those things. Jolie has a mid-range voice and should have stuck to her own recognizable voice instead of the parody that ended up on the screen at times and distracted from her otherwise interesting performance.

Disney's change in tone and focus in taking Maleficent out of her previously strictly villainous portrayal is in line with the theme that runs throughout Once Upon A Time: villains are not born; they are made.  That theme informs all of the villainous characters in Disney's retool of the beloved fairy tales that get their twist from Kitsis and Horowitz's version of fairy tale life.

In their version of Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent, Kristen Bauer van Straten, is blonde and, although evil, has a strong sense of justice running through her character, if giving a thief a chance to return what he stole from her castle horde without immediately incinerating him can be termed justice. Van Straten's Maleficent in the end is no match for the Evil Queen, Regina, played by Lana Parilla, but that is another story. 

What Disney's remake of Sleeping Beauty does do is what has been done before by fan fiction writers and writers during the heyday of Paris's great salons, write their own versions of fairy tales. The same twist has happened before and will continue to happen as long as there are different writers with different views of stories, characters, and plots. How many Cinderella's have graced the screens (small and large) and will continue to find new ways of getting a young girl abused and misused by her blended family out of the ashes and into the arms of a prince to take her away from the drudgery that her life has become? Drew Barrymore portrayed a strong and intelligent Cinderella raised on the books of Plato and Thomas More to believe that the world could be a better place and then proceeds to take down the prince who has just stolen their only horse. She didn't know he was a prince, but she did not hesitate to drop him with an apple and get her horse back while chastising the prince for his theft. She continues to chastise him throughout their budding relationship as she challenges him to be a better man than he has been. Where was the outcry then? Could it be because Angelica Huston's portray of her evil stepmother was right on target and as dissipated, spoiled, and villainous as Cinderella's stepmothers have always been? Nothing was changed, not really. Cinderella was abused and she took her life -- and the prince -- in her own arms and marched boldly into the future while her stepmother and one of her stepsisters were served justice in the castle's laundry.

The original story of Cinderella has changed many times and were much bloodier and vicious. In order to prove they could wear Cinderella's glass slipper one stepsister cut off her heel and the other her great toe. Both were ratted out by the tree that grew over Cinderella's mother's grave, calling out to the blood on the slipper that shouldn't be there. The stepmother and stepsisters were dragged through the streets of the royal city in metal boxes, presumably to their deaths. Bloodier stories for bloodier times and quite unlike Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire. Where was the outcry then when the stepsisters were actually as abused as Cinderella in Amsterdam when the coin of the realm and the basis of fortunes came from the growing and sale of tulips?

It seems the outcry is because Maleficent is a monster made by anger, pain, and the need for revenge and not a monster born whole cloth out of the depths of Hell. Please, people, get a grip. I can tell you that sympathetic characters are better received than one-dimensional villains, except in fairy tales told to children without the discernment necessary to understand that evil wears many faces and does not spring out of the darkest abyss of Hell ready to wreak havoc and destroy happy endings.

Jolie didn't turn into a dragon as her predecessors have, and as Audley did in the 1959 version of Sleeping Beauty certainly did to face off against Prince Phillip, or as van Straten did when she was trapped beneath Storybrooke for 28 years in her dragon form. Jolie turned her crow/raven into a very convincing dragon and fought King Stefan and his troops on her own until Aurora set free the wings Stefan had severed from her back while she slept, having been drugged by a man she thought truly loved her. How many of us can say the same -- about the drugging, not having our wings severed?

The point is that Jolie's performance, flawed by her affectation and mimicry of Audley's Maleficent, was still the heart of a more nuanced and many-faceted fairy tale with a happy ending. Aurora became queen and very likely married Prince Phillip and Maleficent gave up her desire for vengeance at being wronged by the first man she loved to embrace forgiveness and breaking the curse she cast on baby Aurora. Maleficent, while not an Oscar worthy movie, is certainly a laudable addition to the fairy tale canon and a story that adds much to the fairy tale genre and villainous deeds. Bravo!