1-9-2007 “Someday We’ll Laugh About This” Week

It’s also National Handwriting Analysis and Hot Tea month, but I was more amused by the Someday We’ll Laugh designation. You can understand when it’s frozen pea day, and find out it is sponsored by Birdseye, but some of these I just have to wonder where they come from.

We are now into the “between holidays” period- a Rest Time, a time for comfort foods, and “not doing anything” and recovering from the Yule chaos, and regaining strength for the next crunch. Luckily Valentines Day is not such a strenuous celebration.
I “haven’t done anything” this week, although the hours passed just the same.
Sunday we took down the trees and lights, and are now in that period where we try to find all the holiday stuff we’ve had out for the past month and get it back in bins and into the attic again. Easy for the dishes as they go into the cupboard (although I’ve got to figure out something to do with the cinnamon sugar in the holly sugar bowl), but I keep finding tablecloths, and napkins and aprons and such to go into the bin of “Yule-stuff-comma-cloth” to store.
I spent a lot of time on the phone trying to find a new carrier for the house insurance. It’s hard to believe that goats and chickens could make us high risk. I really think that they group everyone with animals together whether you have 2 or 200. People keep telling me to just call them pets, but it’s not like they ask you if you have pets, and what are they? They ask do you have animals. They don’t care if they are pets or not. I’ve been putting off going to the dentist since a filling fell out, and now the corner fell off, so I’ve had to. He was very frustrated because I asked him to minimize the anesthetic because of the way it stayed in my system, and he got frustrated and asked me to come back when I was ready to get it done. I’ve gone to him for years because he was willing to work with me on this, even though he doesn’t like working without anesthetic. It’s not like I tell him what to do on technique- OK, I do have a firm policy on no amalgam fillings. But I always prefer doctors who are willing to accept that they are no just working “on” my body, but are working with me. I think he was just in a stressed mood. He was on the phone with someone talking about e-coli when I came in. I don’t know. I finally called the appliance repairman too, although he hasn’t gotten back to me. The oven on the stove isn’t working, and I’m guessing it’s the thermostat- although I’m also suspicious that it could be from stuff dripping down into the works. This stove isn’t built so I can take it apart to clean it the way all my other stoves have been. We got this one the month after Ælfwine died, so I think of it as “the new stove”, and it’s always had a problem with the thermostat. I called him in back that first year and he stuck a wire onto something and said it worked fine, but it’s gotten so much worse it really played havoc with baking this season. Now we are reduced to using the wood-stove, micro-wave or the toaster oven (which we’ve hardly used since we got it). I’m just afraid this is going to be another case of the modern world switching over to computerized stuff that can’t be fixed and must be replaced.
It’s raining again, which is depressing. I used to love the rain until the roof started leaking. Now anything that reminds me of expenses I can’t pay for is depressing. I had an epiphany of sorts this week. When you are depressed, you still don’t want to bother people with problems they can’t help with, so you stop mentioning anything that depresses you, and eventually you end up with nothing to talk about but the weather and other things of no consequence. And not talking to people is really isolating- which feeds into the depression. The problem comes down to the discomfort people feel about having problems they can’t do anything about being brought to their attention. I think that’s a natural human response and don’t think there’s anything that can be done about it. Sounds like the whole Victorian culture was depressed since all they talked about was the weather and other trivia like that. I suppose it’s not really depression until you get an entire system shut down. Some epiphany.

Avi and Trevor came by Saturday morning to celebrate Avi’s birthday (I think they were doing something together that night). We had a coffee cake with a candle in it (and gave Trevor his Christmas present since he hadn’t been here since Solstice). Each of us has gotten an invitation from Avi’s mother for her baby shower next month- the invitations are shaped like little diapers. I’m not sure why we each got one.

Kat has finally applied for an on-line college with an animation major, and we’ve gotten some interview calls back. I figure studying from home is a good way to start until she’s ready to plunge into the full college deal. I’m just trying to figure out how to get my papers in order because we’re going to have to go for a loan. There’s no way she can get a job herself, if she can’t manage classes, she’s not going to be able to handle the marketplace. But this may keep her on track while she gradually gets better.

This week we have watched V for Vendetta which is another comic inspired movie- although it’s not such a big name as Superman, Batman or Spiderman. I think it was originally a graphic novel. Willow has it, and I intend to read it, although I haven’t yet. Oddly, although the writer and director said it was written in response to the Thatcher government, it seems so apropos of the current situation. I suppose it may be a universal situation that governments use danger to justify greater control over people’s lives, and some people will always wonder if they had generated the evidence of danger as a means of getting that control. I expect they just exploit what’s given them. There are very few people who actually generate problems so they can be the heros and solve them. There are some, or the designation Munchhausen Syndrome wouldn’t have been created. I also watched Superman Returns, which was as far as I could tell, simply a sequel of the Christopher Reeves movies, and had little to do with the Superman mythos. I could be wrong, it’s been a long time since I’ve read Superman. Lois as a single mother, engaged to someone else? Seems so wrong to me. A couple of leftover holiday movies came in- The Ref, and Christmas with the Kranks. The Ref was fairly amusing, as it portrays a thief who takes a couple prisoner and poses as their marriage councilor in order to attempt to fool their visiting relatives. Because he has no need to be gentle with them, he forces them to deal with their disfunction much better than their real councilor, which is always fun to watch. At one point they were snapping at each other in the marriage councilors office and he rang an annoying bell. The thief just turned the hose from the kitchen sink on them. I also loved the Kranks, although heavy handed at times. That premise was that a couple decides to skip Christmas because their (only) daughter isn’t going to be home for the first time, so they’ll take a cruise instead. For some (the premise) reason, they decide to “cold turkey” rather than making reasonable compromises and just have a scaled back Christmas to pay for the cruise, and this alienates their neighbors, who first harass them, and then help them when the daughter makes an unexpected Christmas Eve return. Admittedly, this marvelous help is based on the fact that they have “returned to the fold” and basically admitted that they were wrong not to do whatever the neighbors expected of them, just to get along. I loved seeing the neighborhood acting supportively, while at the same time, I hated the premise that you should do things you don’t like just to fit in.
Somehow we never manage to get it so one Netflix movie comes in and another goes out (could be because there’s no post on Sundays?), but they clump, so this week we saw several. We saw Click, where the catch to the ability to fast forward through the parts of life you don’t like is that the “universal remote” will then do the same every single time you get in the same situation again, so once you eliminate something like being sick, or traffic, or dressing, or waiting for your promotion, you’ll always skip that forever- no reprogramming, and of course, no warning until it’s too late. The moral is, of course, don’t skip your life, even the bad parts are better than missing everything. Not quite a “must miss”, more of a “watch oncer”. The Wickerman, on the other hand, is a Must Miss. I can suggest both to fans of the original, as well as those who haven’t seen it to not waste a precious hour and a half of your life on this turkey. I was amazed at how bad it was. In order to “update” it, since witches were not as ubiquitous in the early 70s, this community is based on a bee-hive, where the men are only drones. I think someone has run into too many feminist Wiccans. I also found a couple of discs of season 4 of CSI at the library, which were fun to watch after supper with my knitting.
I found a wonderful book in the library called 1000 Great Knitting motifs by Louise Roberts.
So I pulled out my sampler to add some new patterns. I’d been adding anything different I found- this has so many I can pick and choose what I like best. During the pre-holiday cleaning I’d noticed that moths had gotten into my yarn, and put it all in a double bag with moth balls in the attic. This week I brought the bag down and pulled out the yarn I’d been using on the sampler. I also went through the yarn and pulled out and tossed all the yarn on the outside of the balls the moths had eaten and cut into short un-usable pieces (and have determined not to buy any more yarn until I’ve gotten through most of the back log- sadly, I may not be able to do that or the sampler will have a distinct place where the yarns change color and weight). I had to have something else to do anyway, I finished the “Dr. Who” scarf. As you can see, Willow is a bit annoyed because it’s about 4 feet too long to be convenient to wear.
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I also told Star we weren’t going to leave the library with only DVDs, and I grabbed a great book off the “staff pick” display. It’s called Ghost Map (by Steven Johnson) and is about the Cholera breakout in London in 1854, and lots of cool interacting people and disciplines involved in the discovery that it was passed by contaminated water. I’d had no idea that the sewers of London were originally only to carry off rainwater, and it wasn’t until the thirties that they started putting water closets in, and dumping the excrement into the Thames. I’d thought it was filthy back in Elizabethan England. And they didn’t separate drinking water and sewage until after something called The Great Stink, (in the sixties) which pretty much convinced them that it wasn’t miasma that caused cholera. Suddenly I’ve learned words like amygdala (not the princess in Star Wars) & ventral insula, which are parts of the limbic system. They are part of the brain which are associated with response to threats and emotional stimuli and memory, which Johnson explains is part of why the miasma theory was so hard to get past- we’ve got these parts of our brains that are hardwired to be repelled by bad smells. The map in the title refers to the map made by John Snow on which he marked the casualties of that outbreak, thus showing that it was contamination of one public well that caused the deaths. Since Soho was a poorer section of London, it was pretty smelly- Johnson describes that people had to pay to have waste carried away, so in poorer homes they just chucked it into the basement, sometimes filling it. So given that, one could imagine it was the smell making people sick. So Snow used a Voronoi Diagram- rather than just having a circle around the Broadstreet Pump, he made an irregular perimeter showing how far various locations were in walking distance. These are really cool concepts, and remind me of the show Numbers. Wouldn’t it be nice if concepts like the Fibonacci sequence were actually becoming better understood among normal Americans?
Another cool thing mentioned in Ghost Map was alcohol tolerance- the ability of people to process alcohol in their bodies. Apparently when people stopped being hunter-gatherers, and started farming, that meant living in towns, and having to deal with more fecal contamination, so drinking alcohol helped fight the fecal micro-organisms. It was like an inadvertent domestication, but of micro-organism rather than cows or goats. Eventually, people evolved from city dwellers were alcohol tolerant- people like Native Americans or Australian Aborigines, are not, because they never needed it. Alcohol tolerance goes with town living as lactose tolerance goes with herding milk animals. Neat, eh? And apparently tea drinking also helps combat many micro-organisms too, it’s not just boiling the water to make it. I didn’t know that.
This may have been boring you, but I think it’s cool. Another thing I love is that Snow made his discoveries because his interests were eclectic. I think that’s very important- I much prefer a broad range of study rather than specialization. A narrow focus lets you see details, but you miss the big picture, and can’t make connections between interacting systems.
Well, that’s enough of my rambling.
Until next week.

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