5/25/2016 Nerd Geek Pride Day

Once upon a time…

I stayed up too late last night and am really bleary today. I often wonder how much actual sleep I need, since I go to bed- then read until I notice I’m dozing, turn off the light and sleep. This is my response to the age old problem of lying awake thinking I should be going to sleep. If I spend 10 hours in bed is that 8 hours of sleep? less? more?

garlic_mustard_flowers_-_taken_by_wildman_steve_brillThe weather is warm and gorgeous- the cats go in at out with great frequency- at least as much as we are willing to indulge. The lilacs are blooming, and gorgeous! I am so fond of them I haven’t noticed many of the other plants around, although I know gardens are colorful. The quince is red, the bleeding hearts are still blooming (not quite as bright a red). The Nasturtium are orange, The buttercups and dandelions are brilliant yellow. Pansies little faces, bless them, are multicolored. The chive blossoms have opened (blue), and the lily of the valley are so fragrant that sometimes I can smell them over the lilac. I expect it depends on which direction the wind is blowing. For most of my life I’ve wanted herbs and fruit and vegetables- something with purpose. The older I get the more I understand that “Cheering the heart” is a perfectly good purpose.
I am trying to walk again. On one of my perambulations we discovered a “mystery” plant- it looked poisonous! Blackish green, jagged triangular leaves, tiny white flowers. I brought back a sample and looked it up. Far from being poisonous, it’s a “pot herb”: garlic mustard. It does, indeed have a garlicy tone to it, and I’d happily put it in soups, but not salads. Sadly I haven’t spotted any more around, so can’t add it to our diet. I also feel virtuous for chopping out the wild rose that had been invading the side “garden”. (if it doesn’t smell good, I don’t need to deal with those thorns!- except of course, that I did.) Willow climbed into the attic of the barn and took down the Christmas wreath, and also knocked down a next hornets were starting.

Over the weekend Mark came by both days- he brought steaks (and corn, bread, vegetables, and cake), so all we had to do was grill them. Mark enjoys social viewing. Saturday we watched many episodes of Criminal Minds, and Sunday some of the cowboy movies I have out from the library. The girls did the errands- dump run, library, groceries, hardware store, etc. etc. Sunday I made a coke cake, but no one seems in the mood for it and it may end up being tossed. We really prefer fruit.

IMG_2352         Strawberries and Cream Day was over the weekend. Yesterday was Tiara Day. The girls wore theirs. I don’t have one (sigh) so I couldn’t. I wore purple because it was also Wear Purple for Mental Health Awareness Day. I have a lot of fun with the holidays- like thinking of things for which you are grateful, it reminds you to look at things you take for granted, and helps remind us of all the good things in our lives. A few months ago I saw an actual display of Tiara’s in Walmart in the $10 range. Wouldn’t I have loved to have had one of those as a girl‽ The other day was Toothpaste Tube Day. It’s pretty cool that we have such a convenient dispenser for the paste we use to clean to our teeth, and let’s spare a minute to be happy that someone out there is making toothbrushes for us. Really, what did people use before that? Cloths and sticks I think. (Some of this appreciation comes from being an historian who concentrates on how people lived rather than dates and battles.) While it’s easy to get excited about new technological discoveries (I saw a post about a language translator you can wear like a hearing aid, and seen clips of hover board technology), but the more I think about it, the more I feel that just about every period had changes that were huge. Imagine putting in the first subway systems. The excitement of the first transcontinental railway. What a big deal the Pony Express was during its brief run. Irons didn’t have electric cords, you put the metal piece on the stove until it was hot and used it to smooth your clothes. Heck, wood stoves were revolutionary to people who’d cooked in fireplaces. Indoor plumbing! We really accept what we live with, and don’t realize that life was “normal” before lots of things existed we accept now. So an annual reminder to remember a big event, a cool thing, or a wonderful person seems like a good idea to me. Today is Geek/Nerd Appreciation Day. Yes, it used to be an insult, now we recognize that it’s just another valid way of living in the world. I’ve always loved the  I also like the “Don’t Panic!” slogan from Doug Adams – especially because the main character has had his house and planet removed because they were “in the way”.
It occurred to me, watching Criminal Minds, that people who have a constant “diet” of crime shows- CSI, NCIS, etc. probably have a greatly exaggerated idea of how much crime (especially interesting crime, as opposed to shoplifting, DWI, and most of what happens) than is really going on. Strange world we live in- we ignore what we’re used to, and inflate the rare until we think it isn’t.
While watching I worked on my old (I bought it 46 years ago) fake fur blanket. Like the skirt that mysteriously had holes last week, this suddenly has holes- 3-4 inches across, and Kat has found some garments with holes like that too. What is going on‽ One theory is that one of the kittens (the wool sucker or the cord chewer?) chewed the holes in them. Kat spotted Ambien fishing bits of fabric out through the openings in laundry baskets, so that could be it, but my blanket wasn’t ever in a basket. The mystery continues.
While the girls were at Goodwill they spotted a smaller purse for me- I’d been griping about how heavy mine was. Admittedly, I do try to have everything I might need in it- from Rescue Remedy and homeopathic arnica, to more typical pencil and notebook, small flashlight, knife, brush, and wallet. I’ve moved most of the stuff over- this one has many features of a wallet, so the cards and such are all in there. There is no phone pocket or built-in change purse (or place to put it). We’ll see how this works.

Last Thursday we had another on-line meeting for the CTCW planners- the most exciting news is that Stephanie has made us a You-tube Channel. Now we need to generate some short films for it. I sent out the May newsletter- the important part was that at the end of the month the price goes up $10, so people could save money by reserving early. Jane’s worried because we don’t have many registrations yet- but I think 90% of people will do it in the last month, even with incentives. I felt sort of guilty sending them just a reminder to reserve, to send in proposals, and check the website, so I included a brief paragraph on Mercury coming out of retrograde, and felt better about it. I wish I were better at working on the website. Maryalyce has just re-done hers and it looks great! Maybe we need to figure out what we need to convey. I’m all about lots of information, but that doesn’t make for a good website.
In case you are interested in astrology, here’s the paragraph I put in on Mercury going direct:
95EEBA8B-A7E8-415A-9B1C-B13AA6B1A73D“Now that it’s straight again, there are a few things we can do to take advantage:
First, now is the time to go back and clear up any of the arguments that arose due to miscommunication. Reconsider the things you wisely put off during Mercury Ret; now you can make major purchases without worrying over missing big problems, now you can make travel plans, take a look at contracts, and if they look good now, go ahead and sign!  Now is a good time to start new projects, begin a new job. If you lost something between April 28th and May 22nd, you may be able to find it now. If someone told you no during the retrograde, they may be more approachable now (make sure your facts are straight and your arguments good, you may spot something you got wrong in your first attempt!)  If you met someone in the last month who rubbed you the wrong way, get together again to see if you still feel that way now.
The next Mercury Retrograde won’t start until August 30th, so have fun, and remember to get those major things done during August so you can work on internal stuff during September!”

I was hoping to go up this week to help Liz “open camp” (we have someone else turn on the water and power these days, but give it a good cleaning). I have put it off because during the initial part, Liz discovered that the camp needs serious work. (the joys of home-ownership!) The east joist and sill have rotted. Well, I suppose Dad built the camp over 60 years ago, and back then we didn’t have the road right down to it- I think that may have pushed wetness up against the bit that was clear of the ground when it was built.  Not that I don’t totally get putting the road in. When we first had the camp, we parked up the road about a quarter of a mile and walked down. There was no place to park at the bottom. Then there was room for 2 or three cars. Two was better because it gave room to turn around so you didn’t have to back up that first part. We still had to carry all groceries (often) and bedding, tools, gear, pre-ambulatory children, etc. down a good hundred feet down from that parking area. It was created with fill I think, because the wood we burned was the turnings from Forsters- the three foot lengths of birch that they took strips off with lathes, then punched toothpicks and disposable spoons out of the strips. When an imperfection in the wood made it no good, they’d stop, so we burned so really weirdly shaped “logs”. Those were dumped off the edge into a pile, and we kids had to collect them to bring them down to the camp to burn.

Camp    I guess it was in the 60s that they put in some boardwalks- more even for walking, but they sure got slick in the rain, which, as they were going down a slope, was problematic even for kids. I doubt that the adults enjoyed them when wet either. We put in an extended couple of spots for parking, about the time Grandmother’s “Red Camp” went in, then had a further 4-5 car parking area put in over where we used to have a tree house. We needed so much parking because the mothers with kids who stayed all summer had their cars, and the fathers, who could only come on weekends or after work, needed theirs- and then there were guests. It has often been noted that Farmington is often in the 90s when it’s in the 70s at camp (and the water is in the 40s). After a hot day in town we have been known to walk straight off the end of the dock to quickly reduce the core temperature- the shock is worth it!  I think it was in the 90s that they swung a road down from the bigger parking to go within 20 feet of the back of the camp, and put in the stairs down from the road. That went through the clearing where Mother used to hang the wash. Now we have a small washer and dryer- although we try to use it as little as possible. There may be plenty of water, but we don’t want to over burden the septic system. It has to go through a system. Some of us still drink out of the lake. Some don’t- probably because of both the washers and the motor boats. But it’s still a spring-fed lake, cold and clear. “The clearest lake on the Eastern Seaboard” I always heard said. Not really comfortable to swim in until late August. But the older we get, the less eager we are to hump every damn thing we need very far, and it’s still a steep slope. So as careful as we are putting the roads in, we have to deal with the fact that where are camp is essentially on the side of a bowl with a lake in the bottom. There’s a reason that while the back of the camp is at ground level, the front of that same floor is 20 feet up. We don’t think much about things we’re used to. It occurs to me now that they may not have had “pressure treated” lumber back then. So before we clean, we get the maintenance done- it would be nice if we could afford to enlarge the bathroom while we’re at it, but it is “camp” not a house. A bit of roughing it is to be expected. Mother had to cook on a woodstove for some time. That’s what camp is all about.

I read a couple more of the small books on Native American Tribes: Ojibwa, Iroquois and Potawatomi. I have the Cherokee, Huron and Sioux waiting at the library. This series of books each starts with a reminder that all “Indian” tribes are not the same, but more, just because someone’s in a tribe that doesn’t mean that what this book says is true for them, because each person is an individual. I like that. Then the books go into some of the tribes’ history, and also covers arts, religion, lifestyle, what they have contributed to overall society, and the future. Sadly, one thing that often comes up is how finances have been improved with casinos, but that there always seems to be some resistance to it. Some people consider gambling addictive behavior and think they should be able to improve themselves without taking advantages of the weakness of others. Considering how much they were cheated in the past, I understand both sides. I hope that someday they’ll be able to close the casinos because they’ve invested their earnings into other things that allow them a level playing field, because they sure don’t have one now! A friend sent me a link to a movie about the tradition of the jingle dress, the dresses with cones of metal decorating them that make a jingling sound when they dance. Apparently it came to someone (or multiple people) in a dream.  Very cool. I’m also still finishing Native American Religions. They seem so natural and obvious.
I still haven’t finished Our Inner Ape, but I’m really enjoying it. Most recently I’ve read about how males tend to know how to make up after a fight, whereas females are better at preventing fights- but they’ll hold grudges forever. The male facility at making up seems to have something to do with their ability to form alliances as they jockey for power. Given that the women also exercise power by working together, I suppose that makes sense. I was also amused to read that while observers counted boys as fighting far more often than girls, when asking the observed, it turned out it was almost equal- but the signs of the girls quarreling was much harder to see. Primates have a lot more in common than I realized.

I continue to watch “Westerns”.
I watched The Professionals and My Darling Clementine with Mark. The Professionals (1966) was about some professional tough guys rescuing a kidnapped woman about the time of the Mexican Revolution. It starred Burt Lancaster and Lee Marvin- very cool. In his mid fifties Lancaster was still a hunk. I confidently made some guesses about how the plot would go, and gradually realized that I had actually seen the movie decades ago- and still guessed wrong. My Darling Clementine was another Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday movie with Henry Fonda. It was painfully bad.
Open Range is a relatively recent film by Kevin Costner (2003). It was based on the conflict arising from the settlement of the west as rangelands deteriorated with overuse. It was set in 1882 when free grazing was legal, and the protagonists (Costner and Robert Duvall) are “free range” cowboys who run afoul of an Irish rancher who disliked the free grazers. I have to wonder if somewhere the motivations of coming from Ireland are expounded more. Was he supposed to have been from the severely abused poor Catholics, or someone who was just taking advantage of the land the US government was giving away? The town was living under his rule, supported by his sheriff. Costner wanted to show that most people were trying to build a town and only wanted peace. I especially liked the way he showed most of the people heading out of town when the showdown fight came. The ones who stayed gradually took sides and participated, the women (possibly hoping that their sex would offer some protection), leading the “rebellion” against their dictator. (I couldn’t help thinking of the roles of female primates.) I also liked that Costner’s character, as the one who was a killer, when it came to the confrontation, killed the leader of the bad guys immediately, no posturing, no speeches- he’s the most dangerous, take him out: bang. The scenes were beautifully shot. I continue to marvel at the idea of living on such a flat, desert landscape.

I watched Lonesome Dove. (Duvall again, also Tommy Lee Jones, (who I kept thinking was Kenny Rogers). I was not comfortable with the cultural attitudes displayed. In 40s and 50s movies, these characters would have been the “bad guys”. They casually steal horses and cattle, and in once scene laughed when they discovered the people whose stock they were stealing, were stealing theirs. They talk about going to Montana where there was grass- “but there are still Indians there”, “We run ’em off down here, we’ll run ’em off there.” This may well have been the attitude at the time (or may simply be a reflection of our view of what was going on then as seen through the eyes of the producers in 2003.) The protagonists, as introduced, are lazy, dishonest, and reprehensible. Their only positive attribute was that they supported their friends, and maintained their good humor or stoicism in the face of some pretty horrible situations.  I suppose the point of the movie/mini-series is that once you get to know someone, you understand how they got that way. I heard it referred to as a romanticized version of the old west, I’d hate to see what they consider appropriately gritty! The movies do remind us of how different life on the edge is, when the only people around are ones you didn’t get to pick and who probably wouldn’t have fit in well in the “civilized world”- or why would they be there? I wonder if we knew more about it if a similar situation existed in the early colonial years of the 17th and 18th centuries in the Massachusetts Bay, Maryland, Georgia, and New Amsterdam colonies?
I also would love to know what the 16th century (1492- to about 1600) was like for the Native Americans? The diseases going through must have had an impact on their cultures like Captain Tripps in the Stand. We don’t know what their cultures were like before that, but if you are trying to rebuild a life having lost 80- 90% of your population, it couldn’t have been anywhere near the same. Getting the Horse and Dog and Sheep would change the culture, but so would that huge population drop- what dramas took place in that situation? Who rose as leaders? What compromises were made? What knowledge was lost that survivors mourned along with their beloved friends and family? Yes, when the Europeans pushed into their territories, they were obnoxious and full of the “non-Christians don’t count” attitude, but what they encountered had to have been vastly different than had they come in numbers a hundred years earlier. You don’t lose that number of people without the culture changing.
Ah well, of such stuff are alternate history stories made. I have to finish and go to bed.
My podcast tonight was about the Challenges of Deaf Pagans, with Thor Halvorsen, but mostly it was about the history of the challenges of the Deaf. Fascinating stuff- they had a lot in common with other minority groups, like the native Americans. Oh, the horrible things people do to each other with the “best intentions”!

Tchipakkan

Mules make a great fuss about their ancestors having been horses.