Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Thanks, Marlboro!

Thanks, Marlboro, for birthday wishes! It's not my birthday quite yet, but, unlike anyone else in my life, Marlboro always sends me a card on time AND gives me something I like (or at least SOMETHING) --- cigarette coupons!

p.s. If I happen to die of lung cancer in the future... well, I'm post-50. Everyone dies of something then, either genetically or from self-abuse. Cigs gave me some pleasure. And some birthday cards. (And, back when Marlboro was giving out barn-coats and grills when you sent in "miles" from the packs --- a barn-coat and grill and BBQ knife set, et al.)

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Kathryn Calhoun Dennis

One year of no family...

 ...after my mother told me last August about the specifics of her will---my brother 75%, me 25%. I got her house IF I wanted to share ownership 50-50 with my brother. LIKE FUCKING HELL.

I'm not going to be a part of that bullshit. I withdraw from all of that emotional bullshit.

Not particularly happy about it, but not depressed, either. In other words, kinda the same.

Today was my younger nephew's birthday. I sent him a card and money a couple of days ago. (As I did with my older nephew in May.) Neither said thanks.

Next year I won't send anything, will be finally free, I suppose, of all ties.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Dreams and Hope

At Christmas, our company boss mixes up people from different departments to go have Christmas lunch together. On the way there last year, one of my previously unknown lunch-mates, a 20-something new to the company, mentioned that she'd once been in an earthquake but hadn't noticed it because the car she was driving was too loud. I thought that was funny and interesting. A cool chick.

Every summer, our company also hosts a lunchtime talk every Friday about whatever subject. Most talks are about geology, since the group is about geology, but people's personal interests are also encouraged. The same "cool chick" from Christmas gave a talk last week about how she bought and renovated a '66 Mustang and then decided to take it (solo) on a road trip across the country to visit ALL of the national monuments (she made it to all of them).

I admired/admire her bravery, and I felt exhilarated by her very physically bold journey. Not envious, mind you: I have no desire whatsoever to renovate a car and go out by myself into random camp-grounds. (My own journey has been more psychological and urban and I've had no safety cushion of parents and their money as she's had; also, for instance, her cross-country trek was on the way to a guaranteed job in the West.) BUT... While covered financially and job-wise, she nonetheless chose to take on multiple physical tasks that most would not have attempted. I admire her for that (and would one day like to go out there on the road with someone just like that as my guide).

Her blog about her personal journey is sometimes cute in its youthful sense of over-importance, but it more often makes some very wise points:
So really I guess in closing what I’d like people to think about is their concept of freedom, and maybe to modify it a bit. It seems this great unattainable thing to many people - at some point or another, everyone feels held down by work and family and societal responsibilities, and everyone wishes they were free to just do whatever they wanted with no responsibilities. But that's not what freedom really is. So many people hold themselves back, wishing they could feel the freedom I do, because they think that they can’t have it too. The thing is, you don’t have to sacrifice a whole lot for your freedom. Make the choice, seize control of your life and commit. Even if it makes your life harder, you'll be a better person for it. But realize that freedom is not the absence of everything that "holds you down" - it's knowing how to deal with all of those things and finding a way to be happy anyways, choosing to pursue your dreams.
I like her spirit and thoughts a lot. I haven't been around anyone like that --- someone who THINKS and ASPIRES --- for years and years. When you don't encounter that spirit for so long, you start to think you're alone and crazy. The second you DO encounter it, you KNOW you weren't.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Caterina Valente - Melodia d'amore (1957)

I've posted this recently, but... it's so GREAT! Again, again!


I think my visiting cat's name is "Penny."

Several reasons, but one is: Back when I was going through a terrible time in the early '90s --- no love, no support from anyone, on the verge of flunking out of college --- I buckled down and did the one thing that I personally had some control over: I finished my degree.

During this time, I would walk around campus utterly desolate, but... as I did so, I would find random pennies on the ground here and there. (Kind of like seeing weeds sprung up unexpectedly through concrete.) At first, I thought the pennies were not worth paying attention to, but then I started seeing them as "pennies from heaven" and started picking them up and saving them --- little gifts telling me that I wasn't alone, that I wasn't forgotten. Little things were there for me to find. Eventually hundreds of them.

I think "Penny the Cat" is the same. My beloved cat Gracie (also a stray that my apartment neighbors asked me to take care of in 2000) died on April 15, 2009. I've not had a cat since. (And my life has been barren since --- you need a cat in your life before any place is a home. Best if a cat picks you.)

I don't know if "Penny" even wants her name, or wants me. She's been back every day for 2 weeks because I've been setting out food. It's July --- I think the truth will come around late November, when it gets cold outside. If she wants to come in, I guess I can call her mine then.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Don't fucking touch me, you asshole!

I've watched this over a dozen times now. GO, GIRL! For every woman who's been groped, had her ass slapped, her boobs grabbed, etc.

I'm 53 now, but this video reminded me of my life back in the '80s while in college at UT-Austin.

Robert Schell should be glad that I wasn't "woke" back at the ol' Perry-Castaneda Library in the '80s. When he slapped my ass at the time, I tried to laugh it off. Thought that because he liked me, he just couldn't help himself. Wish I'd had this girl's gumption then.

Other unwanted experiences in my late teens/early 20s at UT-Austin: Several guys jacking off in the library, a neighbor jacking off in front of an open window at my apartment complex, a professor whom I ran into by accident on campus looking me up and down and asking me if there was "anything at all" I needed help with, a grad student assistant offering me an "A" in my Philosophy class if I would meet with him weekly "for coffee."

I wish I could/would have tackled each and every one of them.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Pro-Trump Readjustment to LIFE

Bored and irritated with the constant anti-Trump onslaught of media that I once watched and read (the 2016 election literally changed my life --- no more New Yorker magazine, no more CNN/MSNBC/NBC/ABC/CBS/BBC/NPR; my Yahoo feed is utterly biased, too, but I've had that e-mail for 20 years, so it's hard to switch; I can't trust the FBI based on Comey and those "lovebird" agents' mails re how to prevent Trump's election; I can't trust the CIA based on Brennan's and Podesta's recent TV appearances).

Here's why I voted for Trump:

What some of us figured out a few years ago: The Democrats and Republicans had become Globalists, in cahoots with Big Business to further business aims. Thus Obama's "jobs are leaving -- get over it." Same thing from Bush. And Bill Clinton before him.

What Trump did (and what Sanders also did in the 2016 election) was call out the corporations for outsourcing American jobs. THAT is why I voted for Trump. (Why not Sanders? Because the man, as a lifetime politician, would have had no idea how to manage American business.)

Trump called for American businesses to bring back their jobs (with punishments if they didn't). AND he called for border control to stem the tide of illegal workers willing to do the jobs for cheap at the expense of American workers --- anathema to Republicans, who WANT cheap illegal labor.

Both the mainstream Dems AND Republicans hate Trump and WANT Globalism. Some of us see a third way, a populist way that Trump touts: America, and American workers, first. To hell with outsourcing of jobs because mainstream corporate sponsors want it to be so.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Scaring the Scruffy Cat

The stray cat has eaten the food I've put out every day for the past week. I try to get a dish of food and water set out around 7pm every night. (Approaching twilight, when she usually appears.)

Tonight, Sunday, at around 7pm I inadvertently jerked open my sliding-glass door to go out and dump the old food/water and put out re-fills --- well, turns out the cat, unseen by me, was sitting off to the side in my yard, and I freaked her out! She RAN when I opened the door! After she leapt over my fence, I had to call after her, "Hey, hey, it's OK. Look, I'm just giving you food..." She ran to the sidewalk of the apartments facing my backyard and just sat there. I put the food/water out and went back in, then snuck some looks through the blinds to see what she was doing. She stayed in the same sidewalk place across from my apartment for forever, then mosied on down the sidewalk and lay on a low wall for a while. I gave up watching, then after an hour checked again: There she was, eating the food. After eating for awhile, she lay on my patio for a bit, then took off.

It's not a home without a cat. I hope she decides to stay.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Joan Crawford: 1930


An e-mail written tonight to "i24" --- an Israeli cable news station:

I've been watching i24 for the past 6 months or so after it became available in Austin, Texas, via my Spectrum cable. I initially appreciated its seemingly more intellectual and more historical take on the news. Tonight (7/13/18) though, the David Shuster sign-off about Trump being a "white nationalist" made me realize that apparently no news organization, even from the more sturdily realistic Israel, is free from globalist/communist bias. (Or is it something as simple as "virtue signalling" --- Shuster wants a job in the US again with left-wing outlets CNN or MSNBC?)

Any serious journalist can do a tiny bit of research and learn that Trump's border policy with Mexico is exactly the same as that of Obama's and Bush's --- except that Trump is finally ENFORCING said US policy. (A little bit of further digging would reveal that Mexico itself has a harsher border policy with Guatemala to its south.)

RE Europe: Trump has spoken exactly the truth. The massive influx of refugees from the Middle East and north Africa into northern Europe (the southern European countries won't take them) is indeed changing the very fiber of those countries. Most immediate effect? Crime stats are WAY up in every single country that has allowed in immigrants from Syria (and other Moslem countries from northern Africa over the past few years).

You might not LIKE these stats, but they're the truth. And Trump is speaking the truth. As when he says RE the US: "We're not going to be a migrant camp." --- No other country should allow itself to be, either.

SOVEREIGNTY. It's a pretty basic and simple concept. Why is anyone arguing about it?

p.s. How does Trump deal with all of this? The guy's a fucking bull.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Trump in Europe Questions NATO

Why exactly is Germany getting the majority of its energy from Russia --- while the US is paying for the majority of Germany's defense against Russia?

Soul-feeding lunch

A scientist author at work invited several of us staff (editing and graphics) out for lunch today as thanks upon the publication of his latest.

Mild worry ahead of time: Would it be awkward? (The author and I had talked often in the past whenever he stopped by my office, so I wasn't extremely nervous; but sometimes who knows how the vibe will be with a group...)

As it turns out, the lunch lasted a whopping 3 hours! All five of us talked constantly the whole time: old Austin, old "Twilight Zone" episodes, old classic movies (including Joan), odd behavior around the office, the elections of 1824 and 1976, "The Midnight Special," "In Cold Blood," The Carpenters, "The Handmaid's Tale" (1985 original and recent TV version --- i.e. "Oh my god, this is Reagan's America!" and the current "OMG, this is Trump's America!" -- I mocked both). Plus a hundred other things. My mind was completely turned on! And so cool that five different people (two of whom I rarely talked to at work) were all getting into it!

All of that interesting interaction without any alcohol! I miss going out!

Wednesday Scruffy Cat Update

Sunday: She ate the salmon.
Monday: She ate all of the Friskies.
Tuesday: She ate all of the Friskies.
Wednesday: She ate all of the Friskies (plus some leftover salmon that I'd initially cooked for myself)---and this time I saw her! Bite-bite, and then a look over her shoulder, etc.

I think if she'd eaten half of the daily offerings, or just nibbled at them, I might not have been so keen on putting out more the next day. But it was clear that she was constantly hungry, eating every single thing set out.

Who knows what happens with a stray cat. But feeding her something (at the right time -- I get home around 6pm, but she doesn't show up until the sun starts to go down) has made me look forward to coming home each day. If she's going to be a stray, I at least want her to be fed and feeling stronger in her wanderings.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Trying to make friends with a little scruffy cat

I have a backyard area (maybe 20 x 4 ft) that comes with my apartment that I rarely sit in because it's not private; there's a 2-story row of other apartments only about 15 feet away with people constantly passing by and/or hanging out smoking on the walkways. Up until last April, I used to have the slats of my sliding-glass door turned toward where light could enter the apartment and I could see out, but back then, a neighbor above and her group of "dudes" were constantly hanging out on their landing and looking right down into my apartment, so... I changed the direction of the slats --- still a little bit of light, and The Hanger-Outers can't see in; but... I also haven't been able to see out since then. Occasionally I'll peer out and maybe twice a week go out and water the three plants (two of them succulents) that I have sitting out there.

That's the back-story of my "backyard."

This past weekend, though... I was up early on Saturday and did my usual first-thing peering out of the sliding-glass-door slats to check the weather, just before 8am. A little scruffy cat was there, lying on the patio, grooming herself. Small and skinny and fur sticking out everywhere. Clearly a stray. She looked a mess with her scrappy fur. But, still, she was taking care of herself. Her paws were tiny, so I knew she was a girl kitty. After a few minutes, I stopped looking, and when I looked again later, she was gone.

I went off and did whatever on a Saturday. Later that day, around 8pm at twilight, I was home again, and again I peered out back, just out of habit. There was the little cat again. Again lying on my patio grooming herself.

What could I do for her?

The only thing I had in my fridge was a $12 slab of salmon that I'd bought and frozen 3 weeks ago. I cut off a sliver of it and put it in my fridge to de-thaw, just in case.

Sunday morning, I was up and not right then thinking of the cat. But... there came the same skinny cat, this time at the front of my apartment window, checking out the row of air-conditioners. Thanks to reading Truman Capote recently, I understood what she was doing: Looking for bugs to eat! (In Capote's "In Cold Blood," he mentions stray cats on the street going from grill to grill of the cars in front of the courtroom --- he didn't know what they were doing until someone told him about the bugs caught in the grills being a treat.)

I immediately went and got the sliver of expensive salmon and put it out on my back patio --- hoping the cat would soon complete her tour with a visit to the back of my apartment. Nope, didn't see her.

I went to the grocery store Sunday and bought a bag of Friskies cat food, just in case. The first cat food I'd bought in 9 years.

I kept checking throughout the day Sunday, and the sliver of salmon sat there --- starting out half-frozen, ending up covered with ants as the day wore on. Then it rained. And then there was basically a yucky piece of flesh sitting out there on a plate. I felt stupid. I wondered about the future of the food on the plate: If I was attracting roaches. If I should clean the nasty plate or just toss it.

Woke up Monday: The salmon was entirely gone. Not gnawed on, but entirely gone. I felt very happy. Did I help the little cat?

When I got home from work today, Monday, around 6pm, the rain had stopped and I put out a bowl of the Friskies on the patio. I peered out about 20 minutes later, and saw only flies buzzing around the dish. Again I thought: Yuck. I'm just putting out bait for roaches...

Well, when I checked again a half-hour later, the entire bowl of Friskies was completely gone.

I very much miss having a cat around. Even the scruffiest of cats is beautiful to watch eating and grooming.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Stressful Holiday

For some, the 4th of July is a happy time. For others, like me, sitting home by myself, it's awful: A 52-year-old woman living in an apartment complex with mainly 20-somethings who like to set off firecrackers all over the complex. Tonight, it started around 7:25pm, with firecrackers pretty close to my door. It's now near midnight, and the firecrackers go on. (For years, July 4 and New Year's Eve have been times of stress. I feel like one of those dogs who's afraid of thunder and gets special care --- only I don't get special care.)

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

5 Days Off, cont.

I was planning on yet another day of lying around on my couch Monday (recuperating from beers the night before), but the maintenance room next door started getting loud with "dudes" hanging out, so I got my lazy ass up and showered and dressed just to avoid further annoyance.

Did my bank stuff first. (Going in to figure out which of the two debit cards mailed to me was the correct one, and then dumping my plastic container of loose change into the magical machine that deposits the random coins into your bank account; one mishap --- the lid on my change container popped off and I spilled hundreds of coins all over the floor and had to get on hands and knees to re-gather them all. Extremely embarrassing. Luckily, the spillage happened in an out-of-the-way nook of the bank, so not too many got to witness. $4.13 was the take!)

Also did my returns: the pants to Old Navy, and the Amazon-ordered purse to the UPS drop-off store. I got lost on my way to the Old Navy. According to Google maps, it should have been maybe 8 minutes from my apt. And I've been to this particular store before... But... in northwest Austin, there's a huge, entangled knot of highway shit going on: "Research/183" + Capital of Texas Hwy + MoPac. I got off on at least three wrong exits and several more side roads. (At one point ending up in the "Balcones Woods" neighborhood, which had numerous dead ends; took me 10 minutes just to get back to Research/183.) So, that was my "adventure" for the afternoon. I finally found the Old Navy, and then knew exactly where the UPS store was. Rewarded myself with Whataburger and beer.

No offense to Austin, but I really don't like most of Austin. Central, yes (downtown, campus, Hyde Park, East Central, Mueller, a small part of South Congress, North Loop, Enfield). But the rest of it is a big bag of highway blah.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Please Don't Kill Them

On Rasputin

He was not a hypocrite, not a scoundrel. He was a true man of God, having come from the simple people. But under the influence of high society, which could not understand this simple man, a terrible spiritual catastrophe took place and he fell. And the milieu that had brought this about looked upon it with the most frivolous attitude. For high society, this was nothing but a "laugh." Such a fall, in the spiritual sense, can nevertheless lead to very serious consequences...

----Russian seminary colleague Feofan on Rasputin

What's Going On

I bought this CD after numerous "Best Albums" lists recommended... It's NOT very interesting at all.
I'm sorry --- "Marvin Gaye Goes Political" is boring and typical whiny soul of the period (1970), with some basic "thoughts" (God is good, Racism is bad) thrown in. I can't sell this back on eBay fast enough.

5 Days Off

Starting Saturday, I had/have 5 days off in a row, through Wednesday, July 4. No July 4 plans at all.

I think the last time I did something nice for July 4th was when I was in Weehawken, New Jersey -- living near the shore of the Hudson River -- in 2009. NYC had, just that year, moved their big fireworks display from the East River, on the other side of the city, to the Hudson, on the west side--- about a 2-minute walk from my apartment. People came from everywhere to see the display; much parking trouble, but not for me! Very special to get to see the big brouhaha up close!

The "best" July 4 before that was in 2000: I'd gotten raped the May before and, out of pity, the ex-girlfriend I'd been obsessed with since our breakup in 1991 and continued to sleep with for years asked me over for a cookout and a swim in her apartment pool and then, later, fireworks along Austin's Auditorium Shores. (There were no personal fireworks, but I appreciated her unusual efforts and kindness. I called and left a message once after that around my birthday in August; she later called and left me a message, after my birthday. We have not spoken or seen each other since then.)

This year my only plans were/are to do a bunch of chores. Mundane list (that I know from experience still, however mundane, feels satisfactory upon accomplishing), NOT in order of importance:

(1) Return pants to Old Navy.

(2) Get a new (red to match my kitchen) microwave from Target. My current one is a hand-me-down, originally bought by my mother in 1985. 1985! I know this because when she gave me the microwave upon the purchase of her new house and my return from NYC in 2010, she had saved the original Panasonic 106-page cookbook/instruction guide, into which she'd stapled the receipt: Purchased 12/18/85 at Carswell Air Force Base (Fort Worth, closed in the early '90s by George HW Bush) for $185. My microwave is 33 years old! (1) I'm EXTREMELY impressed by the quality/longevity of the appliance! but (2) Has this 33-year-old appliance been nuking ME recently? (3) Normally, I wouldn't dump it and get a new one simply out of respect for the longevity, but... the power has been overtly coming and going for the past couple of months (judging by the weird noises it's making). And whatever time today's frozen dinner instrux call for, I usually have to just automatically add 3 or 4 minutes to that because my machine is working on '80s power.

(3) Get pedicure. (Not done since last July.)

(4) Go grocery shopping and do laundry. (Not done for past 3 weeks.)

(5) Do necessary stuff online: Pay car registration, call to automate my new credit card, pay electric bill.

(6) Go to my bank with the two new, different debit cards they just sent me and figure out which is the correct one. Plus take in my margarine jar of pennies and nickels and dimes---I just found out that the bank has a fancy machine where you simply pour your odd change in the receptacle and it automatically sorts and credits the amount to your account; I found this out after I'd bought paper penny/nickel/dime rolls from Target recently and spent hours working all of my spare change into them and then presented them in person to a clerk at the bank; he politely told me what to do with my change: Take it around the corner to the machine! (Obviously, I'm still living in my 1985 Panasonic world.)

(7) Do stuff around my apartment! My spare room/library is a mess --- empty boxes everywhere ("stored" from the months leading up to last April when I thought I might move and didn't). And I recently ordered a bunch of stuff from both Amazon and eBay; those unopened boxes have been sitting around my living room for a month.

(8) Get rid of extra stuff! I have a stack of books and CDs that I either need to sell online or take to Half Price. I have a bag of clothes that I've given up on and need to just take to the nearest donation bin. I have some actually decent things that I need to take photos of and post on eBay.

(9) Swim and tan at least twice in five days. (That shouldn't be a "chore," but... I've learned from experience that going to the apartment pool can be annoying and obnoxious if I don't spend my time there during exactly the right window: between 10:45am and 1:00pm. Before 10:45, there's no sun. After 1pm or so, the hoi polloi start showing up with their iPods and/or boyfriends and kids blasting. I hate other people's music, boyfriends, and kids, especially when they're blasting.)

As of right now, 1 a.m. July 2 (the beginning of the third day of vacation):

(1) Not yet. (Did Monday!)
(2) Not yet.
(3) Not yet.
(4) Not yet.
(5) DID!
(6) Not yet. (Did Monday!)
(7) DID! Cleaned up the spare room, organized that closet, opened the bunch of crap sitting around my living room and put it away. Made two trips to the dumpster with extra boxes.
(8) Not yet.
(9) Not yet.

I still have Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday left. I remain hopeful that I will end up doing more than watching soccer and "The Office" re-runs on the Comedy channel and reading "Rasputin."