Category Archives: Uncategorized

Farewell, Dear Readers

Fakename regrets to inform you that there will be no more discussions on politics, animals, food, and books … and the occasional insect here. She has departed this mortal coil, a victim of pancreatic cancer. Her last day on this Earth was Friday, June 12, 2015 and she left while in the company of her dear friends, Brenda and Lebron.

I, Fakesister, penning this note for her, will miss the weekly sharing of solving the Saturday New York Times crossword and many other things besides. Fare thee well.

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,700 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Cars and Country Music, Part I

Go together like love and marriage, horse and carriage., as the song says, and I was reminded of just what a role cars (mostly trucks) play in country music.  Along with trains, Momma, and prison.

This is an experiment to see if I can get a video to play here on WordPress.

First World Problems (Point, Counterpoint)

First, my new wireless keyboard and mouse. I love them…except there are no lights on the keyboard. So you don’t know whether the Num Lock and Caps Lock keys are on or off, which leads to some interesting errors. Especially when you’re half awake. Why can’t I type in my password? (I have electricity. I have a computer. I know how to use it, mostly.)
My hair. I’ve had this cowlick for forever on the left side, just above my ear. A few months back, I developed an identical cowlick on the right side. And now, in its old age, the hair on the top of my head has decided it wants to part from right to left. What? Here in Fakename world, we do not do parts. The hair on the top of my head is supposed to look neat, but tousled at the same time. It is resisting my efforts, and those of my hairdresser, to do what we want it to. I’m only half kidding about the old age part. It seems that something genetic is going on. Not to mention that my hair is the wrong color now, in its old age. But it isn’t gray. (I have hair. I have a hairdresser.)
Last week I smashed my car into a concrete column in a parking garage, doing minor ($892 USD) to the rear passenger side door. I am totally annoyed. (I have a car. I know how to drive it, mostly.)
Yesterday, I suddenly remembered, for no apparent reason, this bar I used to go to with my friends in New Orleans, the first year I lived there (1992). This bar may have been called 701, in any case, the name of the bar was a number that was also its address. Every Monday, they had free red beans and rice, as do a number of bars in NOLA. And they had a jukebox. So every Monday, I would put a quarter in the jukebox and play Garth Brooks’ “Papa Loved Mama”. 1992 was the year that song came out. This bar was not a country music sort of place, but when that song came on, everybody in the place would sing along. I think they liked to see me coming, because no one else would embarrass themselves by playing it!
Yesterday when I remembered this, I wanted to post that song for one of my friends from that era, and guess what? You cannot find individual Garth Brooks songs on YouTube or even iTunes. Garth has a thing about that. I was thwarted! (Refer back to: I have electricity. I have a computer.)
Like I said, First World Problems. But these are problems I can probably solve by myself, if only by adjusting my attitude towards them.

Yankee (Or Whoever You Are) Go Home

I “grew up”, at least from the time I was around 10 or 11 years old until I graduated from high school at 17, in a small town in North Carolina called Waynesville. Waynesville is exactly halfway between Asheville, NC and Cherokee, NC, and it’s on the outskirts of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Asheville is the “big city” (population 83,393 as of 2010). Cherokee is the headquarters of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The Eastern Band consists of the people who hid out in the mountains and didn’t get caught, thereby being forced to move to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears.
I was very unhappy there. Before we moved there, I had always lived in the “flatlands” of Tennessee. I found the mountains intimidating. Today, I can appreciate the beauty of the mountains, but I still wouldn’t want to live there.
Part of it was family issues. My parents separated the year we moved there. I had always been my father’s favorite, and when he left, that left me at the mercy of my mother, who didn’t like me. For real. This is not some childish whine. The fact that my father left and that I had been his favorite didn’t help me in the eyes of my mother, but it had started long before that. According to my Aunt Ruby (the amateur psychologist of our family), when I was born, my mother was not ready to have a child, and highly resented the fact that it happened anyway. So, it’s hard to overcome the fact that what you did wrong was being born.
Still, even with those problems, I could probably have overcome them better if I had had a support system of really good friends, but that didn’t happen until I was a senior in high school, when I was already preparing to leave. I was very lonely. I spent most of my free time at the library, or at home reading.
But a funny thing has happened. I’ve developed some nostalgia for Waynesville, and now through the miracle of the Internet, have become good friends with people I went to high school with that were previously only acquaintances.
So, why didn’t I have that support system for a lonely six years or so? Part of it was undoubtedly me. I had moved a lot as a child, and was subjected to the taunts and exclusion that are the fate of the “new kid”. So I became suspicious. But even more of it was Waynesville itself.
Not only is Waynesville a small town (around 7,500 when I lived there) it’s a small town in the mountains. In addition to the Cherokee, the mountains of western North Carolina are mostly occupied by the descendants of Scottish, Irish, and English people, who had their own reasons for hiding out, and therefore had a great distrust of “outsiders”. Just like in war, natural barriers (such as mountains) provide protection, but they also prevent exposure to the wider cultural world.
Today, xenophobia is alive and well there.
I joined a Facebook group called “Remember Waynesville When…” Recently a friend did a post asking if anyone remembered the sinks in one the elementary schools there. Apparently these sinks were extra-wide, with multiple spouts, and allowed several children to wash their hands at the same time. Seems harmless, right?
But today, that elementary school is home to the performers for an international festival known as Folkmoot USA. One of the commenters made the mistake of saying the school needs repairs (apparently those sinks are still there), because it makes a poor impression on their international visitors. Incidentally, the festival only lasts for two weeks a year.
My God, you would have thought Waynesville was being taken over by aliens or was under attack by terrorists. One irate poster absolutely sneered at the idea that money should be spent to upgrade the school to “impress” international visitors. Who needs these people? Nobody comes anyway, because it’s too hot when they hold it and it does nothing for local business (well, unless you believe the State of North Carolina, which says 75,000 visitors and $4 million).
My favorite complaint was that the year the Russians were there (2007), they built a bonfire in the yard and drank vodka until 4:00 A.M. The nerve of those people!
Obviously, not everyone in Waynesville is a xenophobe, otherwise they would never have landed Folkmoot. But you can see what I was up against.

Do You Get Colder Than Other People?

Or warmer, as the case may be.
Many years ago I went for a consultation with an endocrinologist, and had to answer a very lengthy questionnaire, which he read to me. This was one of the questions. I answered, “I don’t know. How cold do other people get?”
I wasn’t even trying to be a smartass, although that’s how he took it. I just thought it was a dumb question. He looked at me, sighed, and said, “If most people want the window to be open, do you want the window to be closed?” That made sense to me, and the answer at the time was no. There wasn’t any difference, as far as I could tell, between my sense of temperature and that of other people. But that has changed.
At the time, what they were looking for was a disorder of the pituitary gland or maybe a pituitary tumor, because somehow the pituitary plays a role in how you sense temperature.
But now, yes, I get colder than other people. When they want the window open, I want it closed. When they want the air conditioning on, I want it off. And it causes a problem at work, because when I’m comfortable, other people are hot. What to do?
It turns out the owners have a rule about where thermostats have to be set. 74 degrees plus or minus 2 degrees in the summer; 68 degrees plus or minus 2 degrees in the winter. Those temps in the winter will probably kill me, but…I’ll cross that bridge.
I already wear sweaters and jackets in my office, and always in restaurants and stores.
I will live with it.
How about you? Do you get colder (or warmer) than other people?

Hair, Hair, Long Beautiful Hair

It has occurred to me recently that we humans are obsessed with hair–what color it is, how long it is, and whether we have any or not. (I threw in that last part for the men in the audience.)
Exactly what is up with that? Who cares? What difference does it make?
For ages, I’ve known women who keep their hair long, even though, in my opinion, it looks like complete crap, because their men like it that way. Well, here’s my question: why? And why would you do it anyway for that reason? Long hair is really hard to take care of, and men don’t have to trouble themselves with the issue of taking care of it.
Recently I went to see a doctor who asked me how long my hair had been short. Obviously this had nothing to do with the problem at hand, but was his way of breaking the ice apparently. This particular doctor not being big on social skills. I sort of felt sorry for him, that this was the best he could do in an attempt to bond. I bet he was really good at algebra and chemistry.
He shared that his wife was considering cutting her hair and he didn’t know how he felt about that. I told him he would get over it. (I was pretty good at algebra.)
The answer to his question was that I cut my hair short 40 years ago, when I had long blonde hair and I’ve never looked back or even contemplated growing it long again.
Now for color. My hair was blonde for ages but as I’ve gotten older, it’s darkened and I would now call it “light brown”. You could call it ash blonde I suppose, but I consider that mincing words.
But here’s the deal: I’m 64 years old and have never had a gray hair, which is without a doubt thanks to my Irish grandmother. In her youth, she had carrot red hair which only faded to blonde as she got older. She died in her early 90’s, with blonde hair. Genetics is a very weird thing.
I am inordinately grateful for not having gray hair, because then I would have to make a decision. Color it, or go with the flow?
For the men in the audience, we women don’t care whether you have hair or not. We don’t like you for your hair. Try to return the favor. It’s the Age of Aquarius.

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,500 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Pest Control in the 21st Century

As previously mentioned, I had a visit on Friday with a pest control professional named Morris, who it so happens is a fellow member of a business organization.  When he first walked in, I was like, are you here to see whether or not we’re happy with your service?  Because we are (short meeting).  He said no, I’m here to figure out how rodents are getting into your storage room on the 2nd floor. 

Backing up for a day, we had already had a technician out on Thursday to  put traps in this room, because an employee had spotted a…rodent.  I thought for sure it would be a rat, because, well, it’s Florida.  We have a lot of rats.   Morris informed me that most rats in our area are roof rats, but we also have a few Norway rats. Don’t delude yourself that you can ever be clean and sanitary enough to never see a rat or a mouse.  They are both smarter than you are, and highly motivated.  It turned out to be a measly little mouse.  The problem with both rats and mice is, that if you see one, there are a hundred more waiting in the wings. 

I had an employee conduct Morris to the storage room.  He returned to say that there were gaps under the doors of the room big enough to drive a truck through, which technically means, big enough for a rat.  Mice can flatten themselves enough to get through amazingly slim spaces.  Rats can’t, because their heads are too big. 

Morris and I then talked for at least an hour. The topics included never using poison.  (Morris:  they do go back to the nest to die, and if the nest is in your wall, you will be moving out for at least two months.)  Also never using glue traps.  In a different city I had a pest control company come out for mice.  They put out glue traps and the next morning, one mouse had chewed through its leg, and another one had gotten its face stuck in the glue.  I made them come back and remove every single glue trap.  (Morris:  Plus, you really don’t want to use glue traps for rats.  If the trap catches them on  a foot or on the tail, they are strong enough carry it off. )  Glad we got that settled. 

We told some more rat stories, but Morris had the best one.  He said that he got a call from a customer who said strange things were happening in her house.  One morning, she woke up and the peppermints she had in a dish on her coffee table were gone–except for the plastic wrappers.  Her daughter, who was living with her and had had previous substance abuse problems, completely denied getting up in the middle of the night and eating all the peppermints and leaving the wrappers.  But there were other ominous signs.  A couple of gold chains were missing from the top of the dresser in the mother’s bedroom.  (Was the daughter stealing them?)

Morris goes there to investigate and sees telltale droppings on the coffee table and the dresser.  It was a pack rat.  When they finally found its nest, there was a big pile of uneaten peppermints, a couple of necklaces, and various other pretty shiny things.  Who know there was actually such a thing as a pack rat?  Who knew there were so many species of rats? 

But…But…It Was An Accident!

Some clearly deluded people (such as me, or at least the Me of the past) are under the impression that if you are in an auto accident which isn’t your fault, it will not affect your auto insurance premiums.  Well, not exactly.  It sort of depends on where you live among other things.  So a good place not to live, auto-insurance wise, is New Orleans.  At the time, home of the drive-through daiquiri shop and getting a driver’s license at 15 years old without taking driver’s education. 

There must be proof that the accident was not your fault, in the form of the other guy getting a ticket.  If that doesn’t happen, then you are considered equally at fault, regardless of the circumstances. 

So here is my auto accident history, starting in 1993, in New Orleans.  I was crossing a major street (Elysian Fields) from a side street (Burgundy), where there is no traffic light, when a car going about 900 mph slammed into the rear driver’s side of my Toyota Corolla.  You kind of have to know the terrain.  The start of Elysian Fields is at the end of the French Quarter when Decatur Street makes a sharp curve and turns into Elysian Fields.  You cannot drive fast in the French Quarter for numerous reasons, so here’s what happens:  as soon people make that curve they put the accelerator to the floor.  He was not there when I started across the street.  He was driving a tank.  Specifically, a Buick Park Avenue, circa 1979.  My car spun around all four lanes three or four times, then crashed head first into a tree.  I was a little stunned (but not dead).  I got a ticket, for failure to yield the right of way.  I said, But…But…!  He was speeding!  The officer said, I didn’t see it.  So, here’s some advice. If you’re going to have an auto accident, arrange for it to be in full view of a police officer.  Unless you’re in New Orleans, where that doesn’t count, because the next accident I had was in front of a police officer.

Well, not technically, according to him, because his back was turned.  In this case I was making a left turn onto a side street from Poydras St. and my light was green.  A woman coming down Poydras ran the red light and smashed into the passenger side of my (new) Saturn.  As luck would have it (or not) there had been an accident in that very same intersection and there was a police officer right there, taking a report from one of the parties involved in the previous accident.  When my accident occurred there was a pedestrian she almost hit first.  He stopped long enough to give me his name, address, and phone number, but he was in a hurry.  When the police officer began to write the report, the woman denied running the red light.  I said, I have a witness!  The officer said, Well, he isn’t here now, is he?  In this case, no one got a ticket (you know, since he didn’t see it).  While he could not be bothered, the insurance companies could be bothered and the end result was that her insurance co. quietly paid to repair my car. 

Unfortunately, only a couple of weeks later I was crossing Poydras again (!) and a guy in a Camaro clipped the front end of my car.  We stopped and exchanged insurance info, and did not call the police.  (What, after all, would be the point?) My insurance company promptly cancelled my insurance, and for three years I had to get car insurance from Lloyd’s of London.  I thought they were the people who insured things like Marilyn Monroe’s breasts.  But no–for real, they are the insurer of last resort for all sorts of things. 

My next…and last…accident was in 1996.  I was peacefully sitting in the left turn lane at a traffic light when an elderly guy crosses three lanes of traffic from my right and bashes into the right rear of my car.  I didn’t even know what had happened, because…wait for it…I didn’t see it.  The guy was really confused.  He didn’t know what had happened either.  My impression is that he wanted his car to be where my car was, and the fact that my car was already there was magically erased from his perception. 

But this was Iowa, not Louisiana, and a couple in another car stopped and stayed until the police came.  We all pulled into the parking lot of a pharmacy, where the elderly guy and his wife had pulled out of in the first place.  The whole time we were waiting for the police to arrive, the wife was quietly sobbing and saying I’m so sorry.  The only reason we’re out is that my husband needed his medication.  I and the witnesses all took turns putting an arm around her telling her it would be okay.  The poor little thing. When the police arrived, they asked the guy what happened and he couldn’t remember.  They said, well these other people say you drove into another car (mine).  He said, well, that could be true, I just don’t know.  Oh no.  It was so sad. 

Within a few days, his insurance company called me and said, how much do you want us to write the check for? That was sad too.   

The occasion for all this is that today I saw an ad for Nationwide auto insurance and their “vanishing deductible” plan.  If you are a safe driver (no accidents, no moving violations) you can sign up for this plan and every year for five years, your deductible goes down by $100.  Except your premium goes up.  So you are paying for this marvelous service.  And probably more than $100 a year.  Very cute.  Are we just all idiots?  Don’t answer that.