Monday, December 8, 2008

A Phrase not found

Sometimes random phrases occur to me. Then I try to look them up to see if I've really thought of it, or merely recollected it in tranquility.

Today's phrase, for no good reason that I can give, is "[the] shortest person of any consequence."

This phrase does not appear in Google. Think of that.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The new car adventures

My car got 36.9 mpg on the way up this trip. I filled up right after I arrived so the mileage wouldn't be diminished by any city driving. I suspect that not running the airconditioning for any of the trip may have made a significant difference.

On the way up, I had another rest area adventure. Some woman approached me and asked if I had jumper cables. I said yes, and then her male companion said they were over in the Pontiac further down in the parking lot.

He said it was a new battery and he didn't know why it had died over night, but it might be loose cables, because he had jiggled one the day or the week before and the car had started right up after it seemed like it wouldn't.

When I got over there I pulled out a couple of box wrenches I have in the trunk to see if they'd fit the battery terminal attachment. These, however were the small bolt posts that go into the battery. I had to get my socket set. After trying about eight sockets (because I could see that it was a small size, but I had no idea what size that really meant for a socket--the first few I tried were too small, the next were too big. Finally I narrowed down to the right one.

I'm sure any real mechanically inclined person with an adequate sense of depth perception would have got it in one or at the most three. I also looked at the water level as long as I was there and found that four of the six battery cells were low on water. I told him that would need to be fixed, too.

Anyway, tightening the battery terminals had no effect on the starting of the car. Next I attached my battery using the cables. We did it the safe way--negative cable on my negative battery pole, positive on my positive and then negative on metal of his car and positive on his positive battery pole. It still didn't start. Sooooooooooo I went ahead and put the other negative on his negative battery pole. The car headlights came on at that point.

"Oh! The lights were on all night," he said, shocked. "That's why the battery died over night!"

As he smiled and continued to watch his headlights, I said, "Turn your lights off."

Then with my car set to revving a little higher than idle, I told him to get in his car and start it. I stood by the jumper cable to take it off his battery as soon as he started (in hopes of not destroying nor damaging either his nor my electrical system).

His car started. I pulled away the cables. I told him: don't let it die--it won't start again. I left him and his companion to do whatever they planned next.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

New month, different car.

I go through cars like some people go through rolls of paper towels. I was driving back from a day trip to the Oregon Coast when the KIA Rio went---jerk, tat-tat-tat-tat-tat.... I pushed in the clutch as right away as I could and coasted several hundred yards till I finally found a turn out on the forest road.

I didn't try to re-start the car because I feared (rightly as it turned out) that the timing belt had failed. The KIA was at 63,500 miles, give or take, and the 60K required service includes a timing belt change. I really was going to get it changed at the end of the month, but it seems that I didn't have 4000 miles to wait to get it done after all.

This was on an isolated two-lane high way between Pacific City and Highway 18. I had a cell phone but no signal. So I started walking to get to civilization or cell phone service, which ever came first. As I walked, from behind me (on the opposite side because I was facing on-coming traffic), a police car went down the road. I tried to flag him down, but he must not have seen me in his mirrors, or just didn't want to stop, because the car went on around a conveniently located curve in the road and was gone.

Finally, I came to a gated driveway, and since they had signs about woodcrafts for sale, I figured it wouldn't be inconceivable that some stranger might knock on their trailer door. I knocked and an older man and woman were inside along with an amazingly noisey dog. I explained that I had broken down and asked if I could use a phone. This being an isolated home in 2008 America, I said I didn't need to come inside if they'd just make the call for me, and they handed me their wireless phone to use on the porch.

I called AAA (life saver, that), and they actually had a tow truck out in just over half an hour. Then we drove back the quarter-mile to the KIA and hooked it up and towed it back into Newberg and dropped me at home and the car off at my usual mechanic.

The next day I called the mechanic and told him the story. After he looked at the car, he said the engine was ruined. Replacing it would be around $5K to $6K, so we really should look for a different car.

I did look and ended up buying a Ford Escort ZX2 from a private party. The previous two cars bought from private parties have been surprisingly excellent. This one turned out to need another $600 dollars of work right away when the mechanic looked at it. Still, considering his first check up of the car made him think it might need a clutch and some variable valve work that would have run up the costs to possibly $3.6K, we were pleased and relieved.

The engine rough running that the mechanic thought might be sludged valves (an $1.8K job), turned out to be healed with a software update to the engine from Ford. The clutch that he thought might need to be replaced (a $1.1K job) turned out to be worn linkage and a bunched up floor mat on the driver's side. The wheel bearing that he thought needed to be replaced and repacked (because of a noisy ride) ($700 or $800) turned out to be healed by the software update smoothing the engine running and filling all the tires to even pressure.

So all that left was the (expensive) maintenance of flushing the engine cooling system, flushing the transmission fluid, and an oil change. Still, it should be gold for a while now.

While I'm glad it didn't need the more expensive work, I've got a little niggling concern about the mechanic thinking it did until he started getting in there. If we had done his initial inspection as a "pre-buy inspection" as he and everyone recommends, I likely wouldn't have bought the car, and yet when it was all done, the car wasn't much worse than the two used cars bought before were at the time of their purchase.

KIA has gotten some bad press about reliability, and in one way I can agree--the cursed belt giving way in 3500 beyond its 60K service seems a bit picky to me. If it was going to be likely to fail at that mileage, they should have had it scheduled for replacement at 50K or 55K. But I feel bad about me, too. I mean I knew there was a risk waiting until I had the money (planned for the end of this month) to do the timing belt replacement. The KIA was a 2003 car, making it the newest car I've ever owned. The Ford which has 59K miles on it now is a 2001. So everything about the KIA was newer than this except that the KIA engine is trashed. Still, the Escort is more comfortable to ride in, so that's an improvement.

Also, the Escort has working cruise control. So, while I can't drive speed limit without cruise control (I can't. I just can't. I keep edging more and more above speed limit until I look at the speedometer and get scared that I'm going to get pulled over) I can set it for a smidgen above speed limit and leave it alone. Gas mileage seems to be about as good as the KIA Sephia that I owned which was totaled in an intersection, but not as good as the RIO: 32 and a quarter MPG, as opposed to 34 and a smidgen in the RIO highway.

Well, that about catches us up for this interval. Hope your doing well. Sorry I've been so long in writing

Friday, August 22, 2008

Gambling for money is a bad career choice for me

Doing some quick snacky shopping tonight (pint of milk, pint of strawberry milk, reduced price quart of chocolate milk, bismark filled donut, and a roast beef sandwich from the deli case) I discovered again why I need to stay away from gambling.

I just don't learn!

In the past 6 or 8 months, I have been beguiled to buy a carton of chocolate milk that had a hugely reduced price sticker on it because it was its very "sell by" date. The first time, it was a half-gallon in Safeway, and when I got it home, it was weirdly sour. I mean it was foul and I severely regretted putting it in my mouth.

A while later, I saw another half-gallon of chocolate greatly reduced at Safeway. I picked it up, but this time I asked at the checkout if I could try it right there because the last one I had bought like this was foully sour. The checker said yes, and Yechh!!! It was foul again!! At least that time I got my money back because it was still there in the store.

So tonight, months later in a completely different store, a completely different brand of chocolate milk, and even a different size: 1 quart instead of 1 half-gallon; still, you know what happened: it was foul!!! I just threw it away again.

But I've got to remember: don't buy chocolate milk after the sell by date. It goes foul. Maybe it's just me picking it up just then, but whatever the proximate cause, the result is foul, foul, foul after the sell by date.

Fortunately, not everything works that way. Many products at least taste wholesome at their sell by date and immediately afters.

But not chocolate milk, not for me.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Remembrance of ponytails past

Today I rose up from my bed of sickness, and got my ponytail cut off to donate to Locks of Love. It was
11.5"; the one I donated (years) before was 13", but this seemed like an auspicious time to hit reset and send off what I have.

I still have the cough, but I'm getting better.

Monday, June 30, 2008

hallucinating more words

I was driving behind a car and it had a university decal in the back window.

It read, "Pestering Question University."

I thought that was pretty funny, and apt in an idealistic/ironic way.

But when I looked again, it read Western Oregon University.

Not nearly as amusing.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Words from somewhere in the Lawn

About once a year I seem to have to learn a lesson that one would think I should have already learned: once spring hits or even nearly, mow the wretched lawn when you get home. Don't let it sit for a couple weeks because you feel lazy; don't skip the sunny day because it's too hot, and then skip the rainy day because it's too wet (although certainly a rainy day is too wet, so do it first!).

All of this driven home because I have mowed for about 4 and a half hours today, not counting the time spent walking to the hardware store and back for a mower spark plug. And there are still 2 spots out front that were too high/dense to finish cutting today, as well as the parking strip on the side that is not as bad but is only about half done because I worked most of the time out front except for when I ran out of gas and had to go to the back to re-fill: then I'd mow the side on my way back out to the front.

Also, the stupid mower (the machine, not just me) is years old. It goes well enough on normal one-week grass, but it bogs right down on the 3-4 week denser stuff. I think much of the weariness I feel now is from pulling the tortuous start rope every time the thing bogged down in spite of my efforts to mow small bits and keep it running.

I'm off to bed to sleep the sleep of the exhausted if not the just.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Don't Try this at Public Property

This was a somewhat imaginative & creative act on a library statue. I suppose it was technically recycling, given that the bicycle helment was actually cracked and of no further use as a protective device. There may be some mundane justification in as much as May is bike to work month.

Still, the officious one in me says this is just a step away from valdalism. If adding a bike helmet was good, perhaps one might think changine the paint scheme would be better. No.

(And in fact, as soon as person in charge realized the statue had value-added wardrobe, person at work was asked to remove it.)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

bon mots and bagatelles

Gene Wilder's short novel (176 pages) The Woman Who Wouldn't is an amusing and tender tale about a musician who has a break down during a concert and subsequently goes to a sanatorium in Badenweiler, Germany. The story takes place in 1903, includes visits with Anton Chekhov who is there dying of consumption.

Without writing any spoilers, I can only say that the book has a lovely sentimental touch. Some may indeed find it ultimately too sweet, but it pleased me and made me cry. Interestingly enough, it even has a couple of sex scenes, but they're not pornographic nor erotica in nature. I think that's a little difficult to pull off. They are also intrinsic to the story; short as the book is, extra- gratuitous words aren't really there.

If we have to give it stars, I'd say 3 out of 5. It's worth reading. I'm doubtful that I'd read it a second time--not because it was bad, but because I've done that now. And part of the impact of the book is in going through for the first time and experiencing it as it develops. But be fair: I don't read many mysteries a second time either and they're perfectly fine reading the first time.

Finally, if you have the chance, listen to the audio book read by Gene Wilder himself. As both an actor and the author, he catches everything just right with his voice.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Die weißen Tauben sind müde

I heard this tune and knew it was trying to be heroic/tragic/epic. I looked up the translation of the lyric (I could get, "Come here Marie" and knew that fliegen had something to do with flight, but that was about as far as my German language aptitude could get me on my own).
While I was looking, I also found a video on youtube.

The music is admittedly bombastic, but I find that to be one of its charms. In someways, this is a musical version of "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold. Of course it's a good deal different, written years apart in different languages. But the emotion, the angst is spot on between them two.

It reminds me how silly I am when I'm all angsty and lonely. I still am angsty and lonely, but I know it's silly to look at. :-P

--German from lyric site, translation by google---
Hans Hartz - The White doves Are Tired
Infos Info Interpret: Artist: Hans Hartz Hans Hartz
Album: - --
Songtext-Nummer: Lyrics number: 61931
Eingesendet: Submitted: 02.12.2005
Einsender: One person: ErichG ErichG

Videos Videos Für Hans Hartz - Die Weißen Tauben Sind Müde von Hans Hartz wurden noch keine Videos gespeichert. For Hans Hartz - The White doves Are Tired by Hans Hartz were no videos.

Komm her Marie ein letztes Glas, ---Come here Marie one last glass,
genießen wir den Augenblick, --------we enjoy the moment,
ab morgen gibt’s statt Wein nur Wasser. From tomorrow, there's only water instead of wine.
Komm her und schenk uns noch mal ein,--- Come here and gift us again,
soviel wird morgen anders sein ----so tomorrow will be different
Marie die Welt wird langsam blasser. ---Marie the world is slowly faded.
Die weißen Tauben sind müde, ---The white doves are tired,
sie Fliegen lange schon nicht mehr. ---they fly long, not more.
Sie haben viel zu schwere Flügel; ---You've spent too heavy wings;
und ihre Schnäbel sind längst leer,--- and their beaks are long empty,
jedoch die Falken fliegen weiter, ---However, the hawks fly further,
sie sind so stark wie nie vorher; ---they are as strong as never before;
und ihre Flügel werden breiter, ---and its wings are broader,
und täglich kommen immer mehr, ---and daily more and more
nur weiße Tauben fliegen nicht mehr. ---only white doves fly no more.

Bleib doch Marie, ---Stay but Marie,
der letzte Rest reicht für uns beide alle mal. ---the last remaining enough for both of us all times.
Ab morgen gibt’s statt Brot nur Steine, ---From tomorrow, there's only bread instead of stones,
komm her und schenk uns noch mal ein, ---come, and gift us again,
denn so wie heut wird’s nie mehr sein; ---because as today's will never be more;
Marie die Welt reist von alleine. ---Marie travels the world on their own.
Die weißen Tauben sind müde, ---The white doves are tired,
sie Fliegen lange schon nicht mehr.--- they fly long, not more.
Sie haben viel zu schwere Flügel; ---You've spent too heavy wings;
und ihre Schnäbel sind längst leer,--- and their beaks are long empty,
jedoch die Falken fliegen weiter, ---However, the hawks fly further,
sie sind so stark wie nie vorher; ---they are as strong as never before;
und ihre Flügel werden weiter, ---and will continue their wings,
und täglich kommen immer mehr,--- and daily more and more
nur weiße Tauben fliegen nicht mehr.--- only white doves fly no more.

Sieh dort Marie das leere Bett,--- Look there Marie the empty bed,
der Spiegel unsrer großen Zeit.--- the mirror of our big time.
Ab Morgen gibt’s statt Glas nur Scherben. ---From tomorrow, there's only instead of glass shards.
Komm her und schenk uns noch mal ein,--- Come here and gift us again,
den letzten Schluck vom letzten Wein, ---the last sip from the last wine,
Marie die Welt beginnt zu sterben. ---Marie the world begins to die.
Die weißen Tauben sind müde, ---The white doves are tired,
sie Fliegen lange schon nicht mehr. ---they fly long, not more.
Sie haben viel zu schwere Flügel; ---You've spent too heavy wings;
und ihre Schnäbel sind längst leer, ---and their beaks are long empty,
jedoch die Falken fliegen weiter, ---However, the hawks fly further,
sie sind so stark wie nie vorher;--- they are as strong as never before;
und ihre Flügel werden weiter, ---and will continue their wings,
und täglich kommen immer mehr, ---and daily more and more
nur weiße Tauben fliegen nicht mehr.--- only white doves fly no more.

Die weißen Tauben sind müde,--- The white doves are tired,
sie Fliegen lange schon nicht mehr.--- they fly long, not more.
Sie haben viel zu schwere Flügel; ---You've spent too heavy wings;
und ihre Schnäbel sind längst leer, ---and their beaks are long empty,
jedoch die Falken fliegen weiter,--- However, the hawks fly further,
sie sind so stark wie nie vorher; ---they are as strong as never before;
und ihre Flügel werden weiter,--- and will continue their wings,
und täglich kommen immer mehr, ---and daily more and more
nur weiße Tauben fliegen nicht mehr. ---only white doves fly no more.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

What might the Brits be reading? or How the other half reads.

associative surfing on the web

For a reason I don't remember and can't explain, I ended up on the British Council (registered charity!--remember Paul McCartney's lyric, "If I ever get out of here, THOUGHT of giving it all away / to a registered charity...") Contemporary Authors page.

I learned about an interesting author named Craig Raine. He's a poet and a literary critic. Raine has done a couple of books about T.S. Eliot--In Defence of T.S. Eliot, Hardcover: 608 pages
Publisher: PICADOR (2000)
ISBN-10: 0330375776
T. S. Eliot (Lives and Legacies Series), Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (November 13, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0195309936

The fact that he admires Eliot and (by report, I haven't read Raine yet)has poetry techniques in common with Eliot have really attracted my interest. I'll put a hold on a Raine's collection of his poetry and see what I think.

From that web page (the Contempory Authors page) I found this link

Which as you may be able to see is something like a readers' advisory web page for people to find book titles from U.K. authors.

Anyway, I found this whole coney trail amusing and interesting and leading as ever to other things.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April is National Poetry Month

I burned toast today
My mind flew back to when she left
“Charcoal is a universal antidote,”
She said. “I left you toast to help you recover.”
And she slammed the door.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Only because it's a pun--no political content intended:

Hillary Clinton & Barack Obama are in a neck and red-neck race to the Democratic Nomination for President.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Does this mean we should drink bottled water after all?

"AP Probe Finds Drugs in Drinking Water
A vast array of pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones — have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans, an Associated Press investigation shows.

Presuming that this is really true in the absolute sense, one has to wonder how did those drugs and stuff get there? The article goes on to talk about all the un-completely-metabolized drugs coming out of people.

Ick Ick Ick!!!!

If I had wanted to be drinking recycled toilet water, I would have tried to become an astronaut! Of course, some of the bottle water is just city water in a landfill-clogging poly-plastic bottle, but this kind of story does make "bottle glacier" water seem a bit more attractive!!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

It cudda been another "Who's on First?"

"I'd like to find a book," said a child patron softly.

"Sure, what would you like?"

"Once I Ate a Pie."

"You ate a pie?"

"No, I ate a pie!"

"[I so could have run with this!]oh, okay. Once I Ate a Pie. Our copy is checked out. But I can put it on hold for you."

"No thanks. I'll check back later.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It's alive!! It's Ah Liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiivvvvvvvvvve!

Not to get all mushy and inspired, but sometimes you just remember why you wanted to be here in the first place.

A young patron comes in and asked if we had Dr. Dre-the Biography. I said we did have the book, but it was checked out.

"It's checked in elsewhere in the system. I can put it on hold and it should be here for you in three to five days."

"Okay. Sure. Do you have any other biographies like that?"

"I've got 46 in the county. Did you want just what's here, what's in?"

"Yeah, just what's in the building."

"Okay. I've got thirteen here."

"Wow. Could I see that? I didn't think you have those kind of books. [about Rap performers] Where are they?"Then I showed him where they were. Whoooooo hooooooooo!!! Seriously, that sent a jolt like a triple espresso in a brewed cup of coffee right through my veins.

(And even though I have no personal desire to read ANY of those books, it's just an emotional rush to have them here and be able to surprise a patron who wanted one. [No doubt for a school assignment, but even that doesn't matter. We had the books!])

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Posters and their parodies

Our branding template has one word and then a phrase or sentence elucidating on that.

It's a very flexible style.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Just because we can read don't mean you can order us around.

I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation for this.

There are no friendly machines, and we know how to treat them!

Automated timer-lights with attractive looking toggle switches: when the timer starts mis-behaving, and the switches don't respond in a positive and appropriate way, then it's time to show the switches just who's boss. And if they break, they needed replacing anyway.

(okay, I don't know how this really happened, but they have been having trouble with the lights for a few weeks. It might have actually been the electricians in a middle stage of their job. So: nothing culpable here, but I did wonder how the switch came to be like this.)