Category Archives: Info

Just information about the blog.

I Get Born Again

Yes, this is a Cheesecake photo.

There once was a syndicated columnist named George W. Crane who frequently advocated that a woman keep her husband happy by forgoing “Kitchen Cheesecake” and instead concentrating on “Boudoir Cheesecake.” This has nothing to do with my post below, but I always found it entertaining. The guy seemed seriously disturbed.

Last April I got my chronic heartburn fixed at last. It involved pulling my stomach down through my hiatus (in the diaphram) and fixing it so it couldn’t pop up again. It worked. I couldn’t get heartburn if I wanted to, but there ensued some other issues, amongst them what seemed like a digestive tract that was out to kill me. Why my intestines should ever have it in form I couldn’t say. I happen to like pepperoni pizza, dammit! Anyway, by noting what I ate prior to having a long night (use your imagination) I was able to determine that it was something that followed right along when I ate dairy products. That took a few months.

Dairy products? Well, I started checking, and it looked like I had developed lactose intolerance. Damn, I also really like ice cream! But there are worse things! I found out that those Lactaid Milk commercials are right, believe it or not. It’s just milk! And nothing happened when I drank it, other than I got the satisfaction of drinking milk. And there are lactase pills one can take as one eats dairy, and those things did seem to work. Except when they didn’t. Sometimes I’d spend my night shuttling back and forth to the throne room even though I hadn’t eaten any dairy, or I had but I’d taken lactase pills. (You can’t overdose on lactase because it’s an enzyme, a protein, and it just gets digested if it isn’t used to digest lactose.) But it seemed odd that sometimes things worked, sometimes they didn’t. Was my intestine still upset because the operation had thrown my intenstinal fauna into a tizzy (it did that, actually)? What was going on. A few more months went by.

Then a few weeks ago I spent some time in France. Now, I have read stories on Ex-Pat sites about how some people have trouble with American dairy but not French (sometimes the other way around.) So, after a few days I tested things and ate some creamy sauces on various dishes, and some cheese (not the hard stuff, but real squishy French stuff that’s full of lactase.) Lo and behold! Nothing happened! Thus emboldened, I branched out. I tried pizza. Shazam! And then one day, Crème Caramel. Crème is cream. Caramel is caramel. I was stoked! And I regretted ever touching the stuff. What??? Suddenly it doesn’t work again, and this kept up even when I avoided all dairy except that nice safe milk. (It is, and if you have lactose intolerance you should try it.)

And within a week of returning to the USA I figured it out. I have the embarassingly named “Dumping Syndrome.” Not uncommon after stomach surgery, it means that food “dumps” out of your stomach into your intestines too soon. A nuisance level issue, except in the case of refined sugar. You know, the stuff they make caramel out of? Yeah. What do a lot of milk products have in them? Yeah, that stuff. Now, after testing further, I find that I can eat pizza, drink regular milk, chomp any sort of cheese I want to eat, but I must avoid any excess in table sugar. Like say Golden Oreos, my favorite. Or those iced sugar cookies at Christmastime? Love ’em. Like to eat them by the pound! But, no more. A couple is okay. Just a couple. But you know what? Pizza! I’ve cut way back on sugar before, for different reasons. It’s healthier not to eat very much anyway. And I already know that I can, for instance, get away with eating a Snickers Ice Cream Bar. It was a rough seven months, but now, as I said eating a small piece of cheesecake this morning, I feel as though I’ve been reborn!

MOO!

 

BEEZ

Stolen in June of 2020.

I’m writing this post for those people who have bought my honey (I steal it fair and square) or who are curious about how bees actually operate. I have only two hives. Tami wanted to do something to help the bees of the world, so I got a couple of hives, we painted them up, named them Stark and Targaryan, mail ordered some bees, and were in business. Bees are fascinating little buggers. They are colonial, and not at all like the Borg, trekkies. They operate on consensus, which is a step up from Congress already.

In a quick summary, here’s how a bee colony operates. When a bee is hatched, it first cleans up its own mess (human kids, not so much) then cleans the rest of the hive for a while. Other jobs, often doled out by seniority, include queen’s attendants (who will also attend to drone development) guards at the door, and the ones you see the most, foragers. They can go in a three mile radius to find resources, so the bees you see in your garden might not even come from your part of town. They gather water and nectar and pollen. The water they all drink. The nectar gets put into wax cells where it dehydrates into honey, with a little help from the bees themselves, of course. The pollen is food, and it makes up an important part of porphyry, which is fed to drone larvae as well as next-generation queens.

Drones are males. They do nothing for the hive into which they are born. What they do is fly out until they meet a newly hatched queen, mate with her, and die. More about that new queen directly below. Drones are bigger than most bees, except the queen, but they have no stingers.

If the queen dies, or leads a swarm to a new home (see below) the workers pick a few egg cells and start feeding the growing bees inside with royal jelly, porphyry, and extra honey. The first queen to hatch kills the others still in their cells. (If two hatched they’d have to fight to the death anyway.) Then she (the only true female in the hive, although the workers are genetically female) flies out every day for ten days to two weeks, mating with every drone she meets, leaving a trail of dead male bees in her wake. It could be a male she laid the egg for, she is not picky. After she collects a lifetime supply of sperm, she never leaves the hive again, except as noted below. Male bees are, yeah, males. Queen bees are, for a few days, entirely sexually promiscuous, then they’re all business.

The queen does not rule the hive. Every bee knows what it needs to do. If you watch them, they are actually completely mindless as individuals. It’s appalling, actually. But the hive taken together is highly intelligent, adaptable, and even clever. That’s why some biologists think that the organism is the hive, and the individual bees are simply equivalent to cells in a body. Could be.

Should the hive succeed, sooner or later it will get too crowded in there. This is a big reason to harvest regularly. If it gets too crowded, they hive will decide to divide. (Mitosis? You decide.) Those at the proper stage of life will follow the queen out of the hive, and this is when you see swarms settling in trees or eaves of houses. Bees are at their least dangerous when they swarm, unless something disturbs them. They won’t live in eaves, or on a tree branch. They want an enclosed space. While huddled in the swarm, scouts go out in all directions looking for a suitable new home. When they return, they tell the hive all about the place they’ve found. Over the course of possibly a few days, each scout tells her tale, and eventually every individual agrees with one of them as being the best place to relocate. And they do.

Tells? Really? What? Morse code buzzes? Oh, it’s better than that. Bees are one of two species in the world to use symbolic language. The other species types out blog posts on the Internet. The symbolic language of bees is interpretive dance. In normal foraging, a bee who finds a good source of water or food will do a dance indicating which direction to travel from the sun, how far to travel, and how much of the resource there is. Other bees will dance along and, one by one, take off to gather whatever it is. The same thing happens with finding a new home. The scout which gets the entire colony dancing along then leads them to their new digs. Told you bees were fascinating. You can learn the dance patterns, should you wish to, by googling it.

Anyway, got another crop of honey the other day. Yummy times are back!

NO MORE BEER!

No More for Me, Thanks. I guess.

I like beer, at least some beers. Weihenstephaner Hefe Weiss is yummy, and Hobgoblin Ale from Witchwood in Oxfordshire is worth a trip. But I’m quits with them both. Because both are full of little tiny bubbles that really enhance the flavo(u)r and drinking experience. My tale follows.

I was a colicky baby. So was my daughter. I got it from my mom and passed it to my daughter. Ain’t I generous, though? What is it? A thing called hiatal hernia, which just means that you’ll get heartburn if you eat anything stronger than air. At a minimum, you’ll get junk from your stomach back where you never want it to go. That’s why colicky babies are colicky; it hurts to have eaten. And it does. Sooner or later, you get to the point where you think you’re having a heart attack because of the hard, sharp pain. It’s a real nuisance, at best. I know this from experience. To top it off, the acid causing the heartburn rises into your sinuses, so you also have, sooner or later, chronic sinusitis. That, not the heartburn (which can be controlled) is why I decided to have my condition corrected.

I might mention that at one point I was prescribed Zantac(tm) as a possible treatment. It didn’t work all that well, and instead I probably ate several pounds of Prilosec ™ over the years. Zantac(tm) did, however, apparently leave me with prostate cancer, which is all taken care of now. I did get into the class action suit. Can’t wait to spend my twenty bucks! But, not to digress . . .

Correction involves somebody reaching into your abdominal cavity (with robotic snake-like arms, in my case) and fixing your stomach so that, not only will you not get heartburn any more, you probably won’t even be able to burp properly ever again, or at least only rarely. If you don’t burp, of course, that CO2 from the beer or whatever doesn’t magically disappear. It has only one way out, the long way. The long way involves 12 meters or so of slimy intestines that hurt when distended by gas. See where I’m going with this? If I drink beer, or Coca-Cola(tm), or seltzer water, I live to regret it. A lot. In fact, having my stomach put into its proper place had several other unanticipated results as well.

My body chemistry changed dramatically. I got the worst case of athlete’s foot I’ve ever had. Ever! I lost 30 pounds, because, frankly, I just can’t eat like a starving wolf any more. I have to chew my food, and not take too much at once. And, this one really gets me, I lost my ability to digest lactose! Know what has lactose in it? Commercial baked goods, including those little pies they sell at Walmart, milk of course, cream, and (gack!) ice cream! No ice cream? Well, it isn’t that bad. One can buy lactase pills. Lactase is what I’m not producing enough of any more, so that works out, if I don’t eat huge amounts of ice cream. An ice-cream Snickers(tm) bar gives me no trouble if I take a pill. And, I can still butter my toast with no worries. Not a lot of lactose in butter, apparently. And they make Lactose free milk, which, to sound just like their commercials, is just milk. They add lactase to the milk, so instead of a complex sugar, the milk contains two simple sugars, glucose and galactose, both of which get absorbed and used. I wish Ben & Jerry’s used lactose free milk for their ice cream, but oh, well.

So, no more beer for me, please! I’m going to be traditional French, I guess, and have some wine with my meals, or whenever.

And no more surgeries! For three more weeks, when I get the next worn out part patched up. (lingual hernia.) Old age: not for the weak or easily frightened!)

 

DEATH

Does Death care if you joke about it?

Hi, there! It’s been a long time since my last post, I know. And my circumnavigating friends are stuck in the Seychelles, and I’m basically lazy. I have been researching on behalf of my next project as well as getting the current one ready and sending it out in a query. But, you know what? That stuff is dull. Heck, even I don’t see any reason to write about it. But, Death, now there’s a topic near and dear to us all.

One of Tami’s colleagues at the Law Firm where she works, name of Moorea after where she was conceived, is maybe forty years old. She has a six-year-old daughter that Tami adopted as a grand-daughter, and Beatrix is a neat kid. She has a husband named Nick who loves his family. She probably won’t ever see her next birthday. This truly sucks. Moorea has two brain tumors. It started out as one, but obviously her form of cancer is ambitious. She’s going into Hospice care soon. Nobody ever comes out of Hospice care alive. Okay, this really sucks a lot. She’s just embarking on middle age, which is a lot better than the rumors would have you believe, and, guess what? Rides over! Please exit the cars carefully and proceed down the ramp to your right! There are words for this sort of situation, but I promised somewhere (try to find it) that I wouldn’t use any absolutely filthy language here. But you know what those words are, I’m sure. I truly don’t like it at all!

The thing that bugs me about Death isn’t that I’m going to die. I think anyone who wants to live forever hasn’t really thought that through. I’m easily bored. How boring would be living forever? Sooner or later, you’d have done everything possible to do, several times over, and now what? I’m not that crazy about harp music in the first place! But, that said, what really bugs me is that when somebody dies, the world at large doesn’t even notice, nor has it reason to. When my dad died I remember how weird it was that everything was exactly the same, except that my dad was out of the picture. Outside of that sports, commerce, government, city council meetings, house repairs, everything, just went on as normal. I got a couple of days off of work to attend the funeral, then it was back to work as usual. It’s been the same with everybody else I’ve known that died. Mom dies, and the newspaper gets delivered right on time. A couple of brothers have died, and the airline schedules didn’t change a bit. That seems wrong, except I can’t think of anything to be done about it. I mean, the world can’t stop every time somebody dies, or we’d all die of starvation or thirst, I suppose, from nobody doing anything to prevent that.

Next weekend (31st July through 2nd August) I’m going to a Celebration of Life for my youngest older brother. He died last year (not from COVID-19) but we put off this ceremony until this year when it’s safer to travel. I liked Jim; he was a good guy. Now he’s gone. I have trouble with the fact that I can summarize the situation with those two sentences. Poop on you, Death!

I know, you have to take the bad with the good in life. That’s true, and any other balm that can be thrown on the situation is also fine, but the bottom line here is that, I accept Death for me and everything else. But, I won’t ever like it.

Thanks for reading my rant!

S.

Greenlawn Cemetery, Tiffin, Ohio

PRIVACY

In the Old West End no less

I’ve read some amazingly wrong information on COVID-19. To be expected, I suppose. But, the one that really gets me is the theory claiming that instead of vaccine, we’re all going to be given a tracking chip that will be injected into us instead of serum. Wow. Well, here’s the thing. The government has no need of going to such lengths. After all, those chips are expensive, and there’s no good way to get one through a 28 gauge needle. Most importantly, if you have a smart phone, you’re already being tracked. Yes, they’ll know where you buy your weed, they’ll know where you stop for a drink, they’ll know which grocery store you frequent, and, well, wherever you go, you leave tracks. Luckily, this is a good thing!

Take, for example, our visit to London a few years ago. Sure, we took pictures, but memories fade, pictures or not, and nobody knows at the time if they’re taking the right pictures to properly remember the experience. L’Autre, in Mayfair (since closed) is a good example. It remains the only example I’ve ever seen of a Polish/Mexican restaurant. I forgot all about it, but thanks to Google tracking my every move, now I know just when I was there, and exactly where it was when I was there. (heh heh) On that same trip we ate on a boat on the Thames, named Bateaux London. I’d forgotten all about that, too. Thanks to the invasive, privacy destroying nature of modern technology, I was taken back to a really fun eight days in London. I wouldn’t mind doing it again, in fact.

On another trip, this one to Paris, we ate at Azteca restaurant Mexicain, and learned that, even for Mexican food, the French don’t believe in picante. Not even pico de gallo picante, on what was otherwise excellent Mexican food. Still, we were in Paris, so how wrong could we go? In Saint Malo, we ate at A Saint Malo, which featured good food in the old part of Saint Malo, inside an old fortress. I’d forgotten all about that, although Saint Malo was a very interesting place to visit. It was heavily fortified against the English during the Hundred Years’ War, although, being in Brittany, it was theoretically not subject to any combat. Sure, it wasn’t. Anyway, thanks to Google, I even have pictures of the place, and, I recognize the place! Wow, this lack of privacy is excellent, you know?

Google tracks more than restaurants, of course. On one visit to Paris, we visited, or at least I did, Boutique Orange Bastille, Micromania -Zing, Franprix, Shakespeare & Company, Galerie Des Arcades, um, uh, Starbucks (ahem), and a bunch of other stores. The big box Carrefour, for instance (the name means “intersection.”) I can see every airport I’ve been to, or even stopped over in, since Google started tracking. I can see hotels that I forgot I ever stayed in, some maybe because I wanted to forget them, some quite nice. Did I really stay in Prescott Arizona eight years ago? Seems that, yes, I did. In the culture category, I see that I’ve been to some movies, the Pinball Hall of Fame, Shakespeare and Company, the Musee de la Bande Dessine (a comic book museum in Angouleme, France,) Barnes and Noble, Rockefeller Center, the Neon Museum, the Sherlock Holmes Museum (don’t bother) and many other places that I’d forgotten about. It names all of the cities I’ve been to, and all the countries too. It missed some, but I can forgive that.

My point is that we’re being tracked, and voluntarily, but devices we pay good money for. Why would the government, assuming they even cared, want to spend money or a system that would, in all likelihood, not work as well?

Looking for this on your phone? It’s accessed through Google Maps. Look under “Saved” and then for “Places Visited.” You’ll be amazed.

ATTENTION!

A Home-Town Landmark that was Gone When I was Born

This post is about some of the effects of Attention Deficit Disorder. A few sentences first to explain what that is.

First, it is not really a disorder, and no one blessed with the condition has any shortage of ability to pay attention. The main effect is that one is incapable of being bored. If one gets bored enough, one loses consciousness. That’s why often kids with the condition seem hyper. Movement creates interest, it’s as simple as that.

Second, one of the major effects on the blessed recipient is that the child misses out on a lot of social cues. For instance, they might miss the subtleties of how to kid, and actually insult friends without meaning to. Also, the child may well miss some deeply ingrained and important societal constructs. Remember these two things as you read this.*

Third, someone blessed with ADD can usually tell when they’re being lied to.

As you may have guessed, I am so blessed. I had teachers in elementary school who were very frustrated with me. One kept sending home nasty notes, to no avail. Occasionally I was asked why, since my test scores showed that I was smart, did I not do better in school. The first time, and only the first time, I told the truth: school was boring. Somehow, the faculty and administration were not impressed with my honesty on that point. But it is time to move to my main point.

My main point is that I missed a lot of subtle, unspoken socialization. I did have trouble in school resulting from not knowing the proper way to “praise insult” a friend. But there is one really big part of general American socialization that I completely missed out on. That is, the idea that some people are more equal than others. I have felt, and been grateful for, what is now being called White Privilege for almost my entire life. Sheesh, would I hate to be a minority. I even got to take advantage of a whole boatload of White Privilege without asking for it! I did not ask because, from school days to now, the people one asked for even more, extra-special privileges, are people who, basically, I tend to despise. Yes, folks, I hate seeing a succession of pasty, old, white dudes in charge of the country. (Okay, one of them is now orange, but it’s the same difference.) I’ve never liked the pasty old dudes in charge of, well, anything. Churches, clubs, government organizations, anything. The first group of such dudes, who, honestly, I admire in many respects, set up a system of hypocritical lies right in the founding documents of this country. Sure, all free white men are created equal, and endowed by their creator, etc. But nobody else is! The roots of racism lie in those men having to justify to themselves holding other groups (anyone not one of them, initially) in slavery, exile, inferior status, second-class citizenship. Over centuries, the definition of “whole person” got expanded by adding other ethnic groups (slowly, don’t want to rock any boats here) and, very reluctantly, to women, but the jury’s not totally back in yet on that one. Anyone else, well, fuck ’em and the horse they rode in on, dontcha know?

And I did not get that. I knew that “Coloreds,” as known in the 50s were denied certain rights, but I couldn’t see why. It was obvious that John Law was using Marijuana to keep a thumb on the Mexican migrants who picked produce outside of town, but I couldn’t see why. When, at nineteen, I first smoked the stuff myself, I really couldn’t see why, but that’s probably for another post. The net effect of ADD for me, then, was being able to see American society more for what it is than for what my teachers taught me that it was. It’s not bad in design. In fact, rather than White Privilege, we should extend American Privilege to anyone born here or naturalized, at the very least. Nothing wrong with young people getting help when they need it, after all. And some people are a lot happier governing than most of us would be, so I’m okay with them grooming their own. But, their own has to be an open group based on inclination and talent, not on being lucky enough to be born an Old Pasty White Dude.

And, for the record, I’m a genuine White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. William Powell was living in Philadelphia in 1729. In 1730 he married a girl from Ocean City. Twelve of their sons (!) fought in the revolution. In particular, one Phillip, who fought with a Connecticut regiment, and who received a nice letter of recommendation from his CO. My great-grandfather Andrew Powell fought for the Union with the 123rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and got himself shot in the ass in triplicate for his trouble. He limped for the rest of his life. He was father to my grandmother Bertha Powell, who gave birth to my mother, who, well, you know. So, I have old-time American Cred, and I’m sick and tired of the cretins who think immigrants are the ruination of America. If you think that, you’re deluding yourself. I know this because I can see our society without the subtle prejudices that most of us soak up without knowing we’re doing it. Thanks to the blessings of ADD.

By the Way, I’m pretty sure that an army of medical professionals and scientists knows more about epidemiology and diseases than a gaggle of pasty white dudes in the white house. Again I say, Sheesh!

 

 

  • Worried about your child having ADD? Here’s a quick test. Give them unlimited access to Mountain Dew for an afternoon. If they have any form of ADD, they will have a calm and happy day. (Sugar does not make a child hyper, that is a total myth. If anything, it may make them sleepy.) If your child is a third-grade boy, and they do not have ADD, they will not be calmed by the caffeine. What you have is a third-grade boy.

ODDGODFREY MAKES A BOOK

I’ve been reposting Oddgodfrey (read Leslie Godfrey’s) posts since they took off almost three years ago to circumnavigate the planet. They’ve had some most excellent adventures, and no doubt about it. Well, do continue to follow them. They took off, just two in a 40-foot sailboat named Sonrisa, and went to the place where land is just a distant memory. (Remember when they posted their lattitude and longitude, and the result upon putting those into Google Maps was just a blue screen with a pin in it?) In the near future they will be visiting home in Las Vegas, but the exciting news is that OddGodfrey (Leslie) has created a children’s book, about a unicorn that goes to sea. It’s not entirely fictional. And they are looking for people to help them get the word out. Okay, here’s my first contribution, but I’m just me. You can help, too. Just cllick this link: https://www.oddgodfrey.com/oddlog/launchteamrecruits and read all about it.

Of course, if you don’t like adventure, exotic food, children’s books, or unicorns, you can ignore this post entirely. But please don’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to Basics

I am a writer. I’m writing even as I write. Yes. But I can’t just put writing related stuff here once a week and call it good. Sure, I’ll put writing related stuff here, when it is the topic. But, not always. Not today. You know, absolutely anything feeds a writing career. You can stand aside at a party and make up stories for all the weird people you see (and everybody is weird.) You can read a manual on how to repair a weed whacker and get inspired. Okay? So, everything you read here is writing related, ipso facto. So.

Today I’m going to write about watching a presidency crash and burn. This is my second one, and the similarities are legion. The denials, the new evidence contradicting the denials, the further denials, and then, finally, the camel’s back breaks and, here’s a big difference, Dick Nixon (I voted for that asshole!) had the grace to retire before he was utterly destroyed. The incumbent this time, eeeeeeeehhh, probably won’t. He really is a Narcissistic Personality. Not just a guy with narcissistic tendencies. Hell, I have narcissistic tendencies, but a full blown psychiatric disorder. Don’t believe me? Then read this description from the DSM:

https://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/philo/courses/materials/Narc.Pers.DSM.pdf

It’s in PDF format, so, no worries, you can read it. Download it, even. Read it and weep, because it describes President Trump perfectly. In fact, my PhD psychologist daughter told me that, prior to his being nominated for President, he was commonly used as a literal textbook example of a narcissistic personality.

Being NPD, Trump can no more resign than he can fly (though he may dispute the fact that he can’t fly, but you and I know he can’t.) He also, of course, can’t live to be 150, negotiate better than anyone, or bring peace in our time, but he likes to think he can, so he thinks he can. A person with NPD is, you can see, divorced from reality. Since he can see no difference between himself and the world, the world is, for him, limited to his own experience, which is limited, because everybody’s experience is limited. One thing that has shocked Trump is the fact that the President of the United States is actually one of the least powerful people on the planet. If he had the following he thinks he does, maybe he could have more influence over the world. As it is, he can influence only other individual world leaders, and then only enough to let him think that he’s won. Sad, huh? Since, in his experience, he has never lost anything, or at least never failed to cover his losses with bluster and bluff, he will never see a reason to retire with some remaining dignity and grace. (Some would argue that he’s never had any in the first place.) Which means that he’s going to be pulled out of the Oval Office by his ankles, should he be impeached (as seems likely) and convicted (which seems less so, but the way he’s going these days, I wouldn’t bet against it.)

Whatever happens, it is interesting to watch, just as it was in the fall of 1973. You know, the fall of an American President. Here comes that big hill . . .