Friday, November 30, 2012

World AIDS Day -- December 1

For those who have died, for those who have mourned, for those who work toward a cure, for those who work for prevention, for those who work to educate, for the next generation and those yet to be

Monday, November 26, 2012

Another dream sequence

Well, BadgerBear, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and are ready for a dream sequence. (BTW, I watched "Where the Bears Are" over the weekend.)

In my dream I am at the library. I am already retired but am volunteering. As I get ready to leave, one of the librarians asks if I know anything about sixth-century shrines. Some guy had come in and wanted information on sixth-century shrines because he wanted to carve a model of one. I said I wasn't sure, but the guy arrived right at that point. He came in with a whole group of people, most of them Indian (India-Indian). They are waiting for their leader and want to have a meeting about the shrine. One of the women takes out a notebook to keep notes on the meeting. I say I am leaving, but she insists that I have to stay. She asks me to write down my name for her and I try two or three times. For some reason my hand is shaking badly and I cannot write it legibly.

The leader arrives, takes one look at me and comes over to lay his hand on my shoulder. He begins to rub my shoulder and all of a sudden I get dizzy and attain enlightenment. (Think of Buddha. And yes, I realize the sexual overtones, Dr. Freud.)
This experience of enlightenment, which I can recall fairly well but cannot in any way describe, lasts for what seems a very long time. When it settles down, I find myself alone in the room and it is 5:45 p.m. I realize I am going to be very late getting home. When I leave, three women are waiting to meet me. I bow to them, they bow back and begin to whisper among themselves. (Yes, I realize the religious overtones, Dr. Jung.) I feel normal but know that something totally transformative has happened. I remember the saying, "Before enlightenment, there is the hewing of wood and the drawing of water. After enlightenment, there is the hewing of wood and the drawing of water."

I speak to a few more people and the dream ends.
Make of it what you will. I woke up a little later (being a man of a certain age), but it seems it was just a dream. I don't think I am any more enlightened than when I went to bed. Before I went to bed, there were cats demanding snacks; after getting out of bed, there are cats demanding snacks.

Speaking of cats, I had another dream in which Cassidy almost killed my pet naked mole rat. And, Dr. Freud, the nonsexual association for naked mole rats is that Ron Stoppable had one named Rufus on the old Kim Possible animated feature. And, yes, Dr. Freud, I know who Rufus Wainwright is.

Oh, enough of this.

Sweet dreams, everyone!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Meanwhile ...

 If you look back too much, you will soon be headed that way   
 Unknown source

Fiber optic internet arrives!

The guy who was supposed to connect our fiber optic internet service rang the doorbell a couple of minutes before his appointed time of 8:00 this morning. He ran into some problems because of some tangled something somewhere nearby, but it didn't take too long to get things up and running. Tom had carefully prepared everything he could in advance, and that meant the in-house stuff was set up right and did not need tweaking.

It is great, at least so far.

The good news: I can watch streaming episodes of The Big Bang Theory.
The bad news: I watch streaming episodes of The Big Bang Theory.

No doubt the novelty will wear off quickly and I can get back to using my time more productively.

I should note, however, for the record, that despite having been under the weather for the past week, I have written 39,788 words towards the 50,000-word goal in the National Novel Writing Month project. That puts me at an average of about 2,653 words per day, which is 985 words per day over the 1,667 per day needed to reach the goal.

I should also mention that this does not mean I will have a book ready to publish at the end of November. This is very much a crank-out-a-first-draft approach. What I like most about it is that it is getting me into the habit of daily writing and of pushing ahead instead of constantly going back to tinker.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Feline bait-and-switch

Bait-and-switch is a form of fraud, most commonly used in retail sales but also applicable to other contexts. First, customers are "baited" by advertising for a product or service at a low price; second, the customers discover that the advertised good is not available and are "switched" to a costlier product.

The cats are addicted to their Greenies snacks. I used to give them some in the morning before I left for work and when I got home from work. Then they wanted some in mid-afternoon. And in late-afternoon-but-before-dinner and then ...

In their feline way they can be very persistent and whiny.

Peggy gave us some cat food a while back. It is just cat food, not snacks. But since it is not the cat food they usually get, our cats think it is a special snack. So I get a few pieces and give that to them for their between-snack snack. Seems to make them happy. And since they could go eat out of their bowl anytime,  I don't think I am overfeeding them.

Neither one seems to be getting any fatter. And now when they want snacks, sometimes they go to the place where the non-snacks are kept instead of the real snack jar. I am not sure who is training whom, but it works.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hi fiber

We expect to get our new fiber optic internet connection this week, and we are really looking forward to it. Our current connection can be amazingly slow, and pages often hang up when loading.

I know this is a high end problem compared to what people have suffered from hurricanes and things, and I realize that having any internet connection and any electrical power at all is a gift. And I am grateful.

But I am still looking forward to the improvement.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012



Northeast corner of the United States,  78% white, 82% Christian
North-south slave-holding border state during Civil War
Stolid Midwest, sometimes called Minnesober.
Northwest corner, state motto is Alki, Chinook Wawa, meaning "Eventually."

Eventually, from sea to shining sea.

Surviving an election

No, I am not talking about any of the candidates. I am talking about my experience working as a poll judge (or whatever you want to call it) at the Town of Delton polling place yesterday.

I got there a bit before the designated time of 6:30 a.m. Polls open in Wisconsin at 7:00 a.m. and close at 8:00 p.m. I left there at 10:30 p.m. Loooooooonnnnnnng day!

It was very busy, with only one little lull in early afternoon. We had an incredible turnout and 10% of the people who voted yesterday registered to vote on the spot.

I understand the value of letting people vote on the day of the election -- and trust me, the ID'ing process was thorough and firm. At the same time, this meant that our town clerk spent her entire day filling in forms. So she was not able to do lots of other stuff to make things go faster after the polls closed. Registering is no longer a "show ID, sign here" thing. (NB: I am not talking about voting if you are already registered to vote where you live. That is a breeze.)   It takes a bit of time, and at times the line for people waiting to register was much longer than thost for people already registered and waiting to vote.

There was very little waiting for those already registered. People who had to register first had to wait up to half an hour and a number of them had to go back home and return two or three times before they got the required paperwork. So to all of you who are working to get out the vote and getting people to registered: Please try to get them to do it before the election. It will save them lots of time to register when the clerks aren't swamped and it will make their actual voting experience better. We had one woman snap. "This is why people don't want to vote!" I am happy to report that after she had voted, she was all smiles and thanked us profusely.

Excursus: This is the United States of America, people! If you are eligible, you should be registered and you should vote! And not just every four years in national elections. Your individual vote probably has much more impact on local elections where only a few thousand people vote and where the outcome will have more direct impact on you because those elections deal with your school system, your roads, your garbage pickup, your property taxes.
Thanks for your attention. We now return you to our regular rant, already in progress.

Things went smoothly with only a couple of ballot machine jams, caused by absentee ballots that had been poorly folded. We only had three or four "difficult" voters, but I think the eight workers all handled themselves well. And the difficulties were not disruptive, just annoying.

A local caterer provided food, which meant no one starved.They do the food thing differently all the time, but everyone else (I was the only newbie) thought the catered thing was the best choice. They brought tons of food, perhaps assuming they were going to be feeding police and fire personnel. Apparently they threw in some extras, and I imagine they will get to do it again.

Another little rant, and this is serious, although I doubt any of my readers need to hear this. DO NOT WRITE IN JOKE CANDIDATES OR ANY CANDIDATE UNLESS YOU ARE VERY SERIOUS. When the polls closed at 8:00, there was every reason to expect we could be done and out of there by nine. Instead, because two or three dozen people, out of all those who voted, chose to write in Mickey Mouse of None of the Above. I know how you feel folks, but we spent an extra hour and a half tracking down, sorting and recording those ballots. Voting machines detect that a someone circled the write-in line, but each one has to be located and hand-recorded. No one was getting paid to do this. So unless you are serious -- and I know that there have been incredibly successful write-in votes -- please don't just make more work for people. Serious write-in campaigns can register, and the state provided us with a list of all those who had done so. None of the write-ins we had to search for was for one of these candidates.

So please, please, please -- poll workers are volunteers. They are providing a valuable public service which helps make our democratic (or republican) way of life possible. Thank them when you vote, and don't mess around with things. Eight people spent 16 hours each -- a total of 128 work-hours -- yesterday at our little town polling place. Multiply that by the numbers of polling places across the country and you get an idea of the magnitude of what is happening.

Register. Vote. Be responsible.

And in the immortal words of Bartles & Jaymes, "Thank you for your support."

Friday, November 2, 2012

No H8

I just got my new computer with Windows 8.

I am tempted to say I H8 it, but I am getting used to it.

Little by slowly, as a friend up here says. Little by slowly.