2-18-2015 Lent and Chaosflux

DSC01790This has been another week of snow, and of far too gradual recovery from that stupid cold in January!
I’ve spent too much time on faceook, mostly because when I walk around, I get tired and find myself sitting down again. Facebook is filled with a lot of images of the amazing snow accumulations that people haven’t seen since, ohsnow chart

, `95 and `93.  (I particularly enjoy the ones of snow sculpture- in the category of “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade”  sadly, we have not done it with our “raw materials”.) I don’t remember huge amounts of snow back then- mostly feeling that that’s what winter is SUPPOSED to look like.   As you can see- last century anyway, the period I’m likely to remember from when I was growing up `63- `76  was a high snow period, and looks like we’re in another. Or maybe we remember the `90s as a low snow time for contrast.
As I recall, we did take pictures when the kids were growing up, and usually stood the smallest available kid next to the deepest available drift for drama. I expect people do that these days as well. There have been some  VERY cool pictures on fb. And the Boston Mayor is telling people to stop jumping out of their windows so they don’t hurt themselves. I doubt more are doing it- I just think more people are filming it and posting it on line so we know about more of them!DSC01794
If you can remember the picture of the path to the woodshed from last week, you can see that the snow has gotten “a bit” deeper since then. I am guessing we got a foot or so this time around- there was a LOT of drifting so it’s hard to tell.
I had my van over at Winkles to get inspected. They are having a problem getting the “check engine” light to go out. Once again, something to do with the fuel injector, and they are trying to make it so we don’t have to get a new one, bless them. Apparently the current inspection regulations now have the computer at the inspection shops sending information directly to the computer at the registry of motor vehicles, and you have to be within the range they like to pass. As with the door lock problems, the Astro is having another electrical glitch which they can’t seem to track down- it keeps the “check engine” light coming back on, although they can find no problem that would explain it. I remember the people at Pep Boys giving Megan the runaround when she went in for a part. Their machines gave them a number (“you’re off by .6”) but they couldn’t say by .6 what, what the range was, or any other information, they were just working by what the machine readings were. Another time I went to a Pep Boys and their machine produced a readout that said my car required several days and several thousands of dollars of work. Not having time for it, I went on and took the car to my mechanic when I got back. Charley fixed the broken speedometer, and checked the rest of it and said it wasn’t worth worrying about.  If this is the wave of the future, I’m not going there! I am lucky enough to have found mechanics who will work hard to keep the car running and save me money wherever possible, and I’m so grateful for that!
Snow- MarcusAlso while I was there, Steve, the younger brother, offered to plow us out for $25 per storm. Since the last couple of storms we haven’t been in shape for our usual shoveling, this sounded like a really good deal for me! He did show up and got us clear really quickly. I’m not sure whether under all that snow the quince bush and other things in the yard we shovel around haven’t been pushed, but I guess we’ll find out in the spring.
He got there before we’d even started on the steps, and while we were getting those, he hand-dug the last bits in front of the cars, we moved them, and the shovels in the snow drift, and he just did it so fast! Sadly, no one mentioned that the biggest pile in the driveway is what’s left of the wood we haven’t stacked into the woodshed yet- until he figured it out himself. Oops. We’d been trying to re-stack the last of the old wood so it wouldn’t be under the new wood. Now, of course, we’ve burned through the old wood, and so can put it away as soon as we can dig it out!
The woodstove has been going pretty steadily all week which has kept it pretty comfortable in the kitchen. The other night it was down to 0º and we lit the kerosene heater to make sure the cellar area didn’t get too cold but it smoked nastily- so we turned it off. Luckily the pipes didn’t freeze. I guess we’d better clean it and figure out why it was smoking. The weirdest bit was that the smoke seems to have come from the cellar through the dryer that was running at the same time (and vents through the cellar). It apparently also draws through the cellar because when I cleaned the lint trap after a white load it was pretty black. Luckily, it didn’t seem to have left smoke on the laundry- good filtering!DSC01793
You may be able to tell from the picture that the south windows are half buried- I want to point out that most of that is drifting, not shoveling snow up against them. I also notice that the icicles on the south facing roof are much more dramatic than those on the north. The length of the icicles on Shrove Tuesday is supposed to predict the height of the flax crop that summer. Not growing flax, we keep knocking them down. They keep coming back.  (They’re nothing to the pictures of the ones I saw from Beacon Street in Boston!)

I was supposed to go speak at the Mensa Regional Gathering this weekend, and we were a bit anxious about getting the van back so I could drive it to Portsmouth, but I was also waiting for my energy to get back and my cough to subside. Even if, as I expect, it’s a DSC01780“leftover” cough and I’m not contagious, I feel it’s inappropriate to go into a crowd of people who will hear you coughing and wonder if you are giving them something horrible. It sounded horrible. And it’s pretty much gone now, but wasn’t Friday, so after we picked up the car, I called in sick to Mensa and begged off. Considering the dire weather predictions, I have to wonder if their numbers might have been down. Perhaps not, the NH Mensa RG is an incredible party- fantastic food in a constant stream, wonderful games, entertainment, conversations, movies, presentations, I really was sorry to miss it, but at the same time, I was so exhausted just bringing the car back from the garage, I think it was the right thing to do. I felt much better yesterday and did the errands, and had to sit down for about four hours before I felt up to making supper. I still wasn’t up to our usual Shrove Tuesday fresh jelly donuts. Well, we are not Christian, it’s only an excuse, so we can have them any time. (Only at Stormgard: I was feeling guilty for not having had any Paczki (jelly donuts) for Ganesha. How ecumenical can you get?)
How tired have I been? I still haven’t used my new birthday toys, like the Oreski iron- although I got as far as starting to make the batter. Maybe today or tomorrow. Right now we’re sticking to dinners that can be put on the wood stove and the “cooking” part consists of whatever chopping and peeling can be done sitting at the kitchen table!  I did manage to make a bunch of cinnamon buns. That’s something. As my energy comes back, baking both warms the kitchen and satisfies my urges to “accomplish something”.DSC01787
I have watched a bunch of DVDs. Part of this is a reproduction of the Boston Science Fiction Movie Marathon held in Somerville. Our friends Steffan and Elsbeth apparently went, and while I (especially not this year) wasn’t up to sitting up 24 hours (I think he wrote it had been 36) to enjoy it, I did sneak over to the website and look at the lineup. Then I saw which ones we have on hand and put in requests for most of the rest from the library, so participated at my own schedule. I still haven’t watched The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari- it’s a silent film and I’d have to not be doing anything at the same time.
I thought Snowpiercer seemed a good choice for a snow day, but it really wasn’t very good. Nice images, but the bad science ruined it for me. I can believe in a self repairing (or rider repairing) train that doesn’t have to stop, but if you have severe weather and no maintenance on the railway (not even looking at those dramatic chasm spanning bridges) it’s not going to last. Ask anyone who’s driven on a New England road when the highway budget goes down. And why do they always assume that there’s GOT to be a frivolous high living elite that’s oppressing the underclasses. I know it’s a trope, but in a deteriorating system like that, I see no reason for the upper class, and if it’s not needed. It won’t last. In an episode of Downton Abbey I watched this week, the Dowager Lady Grantham pointed out “If they don’t provide employment, there’s no reason for the nobility to exist. An aristocrat without servants is about as useful as a glass hammer.” They started out as the organizing force, they had a protective function, but mostly they were the ones who promoted the farmers working together, whereas before each household worked only for their own members.
I wasn’t particularly impressed with This Island Earth, but really enjoyed The Day the Earth Stood Still. I don’t know if you remember it, but when the girl gets carried off by the Robot, she doesn’t scream, she just looks annoyed, and like she’s assessing the situation. I have always loved the demonstration of power. I’m not sure how they stopped the electricity, the internal combustion engines, and everything else- except, selectively, the planes in the air, hospitals, and other life supporting machines, but that was pretty wicked! I loved that Gort managed to target just the weapons without hurting the guys holding them- or in them. I always thought tanks had someone sitting inside, not just the two guys on top. I’ll admit most of what I know comes from the comic GI Combat about the Haunted Tank, but I always figured that when the tank disintegrated, there should be a couple of guys who’d been sitting inside falling a couple of feet onto the ground on their butts. Who knows? I don’t. We saw something similar in The Black Hole, but later it turned out that the evil genius was only pretending to be non-violent. My favorite part of that movie has to be VINCENT- the quotation happy psychic robot. I also love the idea of a psychic human/robot interaction.
I also watched a movie called On Valentines Day– a drama about a family in the south slowly reconciling to a marriage they didn’t agree upon. Mostly what reached me was the sad attempts to deal with an older man suffering from senile dementia when denial was their biggest way of dealing with the problem, of course, it seems to have been the way they were dealing with most of their problems. Not the light romantic comedy for which I’d hoped. Sadly, while we have switched to the red plates and cups, we have mixed them with the “snowflake” patterned plates and goblets to reflect the weather, and had no celebration as such. I got a bag of Sweetart “conversation hearts”. At least they taste good, but they don’t have as great a range of slogans as the traditional ones. I did send out most of one of those kids boxes of school valentines to people I thought might like to get something in their mail that wasn’t a bill or junk. Somehow when I do it because I want to, it’s not as odious as when it was when I was a kid. At least each person who got one knows I actually cared enough to address and stamp an envelope to let them know someone likes them. Mine were Avengers theme. I think the girls sent some too- Hello Kitty and some princess theme or other. So far only one has been returned. I hate losing track of my friends. (and a lot of people would have gotten them if I hadn’t lost their addresses in the computer crash last year.) Feh!
Willow put up a new “Less Politics, more Pie” cartoon for Presidents Day. (I didn’t get around to making a pie, and am glad I’ve got the 22nd as a fall back.)
I watched Maleficent and Pompeii too. Maleficent had lovely visuals, and I didn’t mind the revamping of the story turning her into a fairy godmother.  I really liked that the prince objected when the fairies pressed him to kiss the sleeping girl “We don’t know each other!” How could we like him in this day and age if he was willing to press himself on an unconscious girl? I liked what they did with the crow too. This most recent Pompeii movie was OK. After the fireballs, I was waiting for the pyroclastic surge, and wasn’t disappointed. They started and ended with images of the iconic casts of the victims, and implied that the romantic pair (shown kissing as the volcano erupts behind them on the poster) is going to become one, as if it wasn’t the ash-fall that created them. The fighting scenes were pretty, and I liked the girls parents. The villain was properly evil. I am left wanting to revisit old Pompeii films.
In my reading I’m still enjoying rereading the Dragon Knight series, am mostly done with my “purse book” on Late Antiquity (the one I carry to read when waiting somewhere), have gone back to the Archeology of Ritual and Magic.  I got rather cross when I was putting notes on some books into the Goodreads site, but it didn’t register that I’d clicked the “don’t post this to facebook” button. Why put it in if they’re going to ignore it? I like the idea of posting books I’ve just finished (as I mention them here), but not every damned book I click that I’d like to read, or have read at some point!
I also got REALLY peeved the other day when Facebook made me change my name. Back when the kids convinced me to sign up, they asked me for my legal name and I gave it, but they wouldn’t let me put Tchipakkan up as the name I use. Nobody but the government, banks, and other strangers use my legal name. Anyone who calls me Virginia I immediately know doesn’t know me from a hole in the ground (excepting of course my birth family and a couple of childhood friends who still call me Ginny, and I can’t stop them, so I just put up with it). Everyone I deal with these days knows me as Tchipakkan, unless they know me as Arastorm through the SCA. After facebook people started calling me Virginia because, I assume, they figured it was my “real” name. Then I figured out how to change it to Tchipakkan and have felt much better- people started recognizing me again. But the other day suddenly they told me that Tchipakkan isn’t a real name and I wasn’t allowed to sign in unless I changed it. I am pretty darned ticked! Apparently they’ve done this to lots of people, especially native Americans. Look, if you aren’t using an unusual name to try to commit fraud, then who cares? This is the name I use, I speak under, I write under, my husband met me as, married me as, and called me our whole lives. It may be a stupid name, I can live with that. I took it from a book when I was 16 or so. Whatever, it is STILL the name by which probably 95% of the people who know me know me.
Maybe I should give up facebook, I don’t think it’s going to last much longer anyway. They keep trying to come up with ways to get people to pay them for what they are giving us for free, and if they push it, someone else is going to offer a different alternative for free, and they’ll be gone. I like being able to keep in contact with friends, find old friends, and reach most of them at once. But let’s face it, it’s NOT a really good communication tool. For one thing, some people are on facebook, some on twitter, some on livejournal, some on tumbler, other sites/services, and most people tend to think that “everyone” is on the one they’re on.  Worse, the way that so many of them try to send you only things like the things you’ve “liked” in the past, they are shrinking the world around us, so that we only interact with people who appear to like what we like. Except that humans are incredibly more diverse than that. While I enjoy the interesting articles and pictures people share, and being interested in just about everything from archeology from zoology, it’s easy for me to get sucked in and just keep looking at the cool stuff, I haven’t got hours and hours every day to look at it. So if I spend a “only” a couple of hours on facebook a day, I’m going to miss when people post that they’re getting married or divorced, they’re sick or traveling, their pet or parent died, and all the stuff I really want to hear about. Those are going to be lost among the cute kittens, witty memes, latest miracle cures, “if you’re not angry about this you’re not paying attention” posts, and both I and they will go blithely about our lives assuming that contact has been made, when it hasn’t.
This is not to say that other forms of communication work that much better. There is so little real mail in my mailbox that I sometimes go a week or more without checking every piece. Ditto for me email. It’s such a pain to weed the grain from the chaff, I often don’t bother. I have no idea if this is true for other people, and maybe it’s a symptom of depression, but mostly I think it’s laziness. There’s something so appealing about the mail that one sees in movies about the old days when it was all real messages.DSC01784

They seem to have re-named Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, now it’s Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disorder”. Same disease, different name. I prefer the
So that was us during Neptune. We did it the old fashioned way- filled the woodbox, hunkered down and waited it out.  What’s coming up next?  The last one that mostly missed us was Octavia, so Pandora should be the next one.  Will we get to Thor? That is a strange idea.

I am sorry I really haven’t done anything more interesting this week. Tonight my podast is going to be  on the Care and Feeding of Spirits. I still haven’t done an outline so I hope I don’t blither too much.

Tchipakkan
This week’s sig quotes are from little robot in The Black Hole:
V.I.N.CENT: A wolf remains a wolf, even if it has not eaten your sheep.
V.I.N.CENT: A pint can not hold a quart, Mr. Pizer. If it holds the pint. it’s doing the best it can.

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