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Archive for April, 2013

April 17th, 2013

Things That Don’t Work In My Dreams

The dream world can be an amazing, lovely place to spend some time.  But it has its drawbacks.  Some of the following is obvious, some not so much, at least to me…

The Part Of My Brain That Can Read. I am completely illiterate in my dreams.  Whenever I come across a book or sign or anything I need to read, I just can’t.  I can see the text, I just can’t make sense of it.   This is interesting in a somewhat disturbing way: in real life I am a voracious reader, but I’ve read that others experience this same effect in dreams.  I assume it’s because that part of your brain is…well…sleeping.  Sometimes, but very very seldomly, I remember the text well enough that when I wake up I can then read it.  And as you would expect, it’s pretty odd, random and meaningless.  Like the title to the book I found on a pile of trash in a bookstore that I was so frustrated I could not read the frustration woke me up and I remembered it and it was “Old Book”

The Part Of My Brain That Sees Color. This is also something I’ve read that others experience.  My dreams are almost exclusively in black & white, though lately I’ve experienced the occasional color moment.

Light Switches. Lately in my dreams, whenever I find myself entering a dark room or house and I try to turn on the lights, nothing works.  This is usually a prelude to the dream going bad on me, but sometimes it’s just frustrating. I’m writing this post just now because last night it happened again…I was walking into a house to find something, and it was dark inside and I tried various light switches and nothing would come on, and I remember in my dream getting really irritated that I was having “that damn light problem” again so I pulled open some window shades and let light in that way.  At least the sun still works in my dreams.

Bullets. While being pursued by thugs or monsters in my dreams, reliably when I reach for a gun the gun works just fine but the bullets have no effect.  I don’t get the click, click, it’s EMPTY, effect other friends of mine do.  My gun is loaded and I can shoot just fine, but nothing I hit seems to care.  It’s gotten to the point now that I usually just start beating the damn things over the head with the gun rather than bothering to pull the trigger.

Toilets. This is usually my dream telling me that I need to wake up and go to the bathroom.  When in a dream I get the urge to go, and I start looking around for a bathroom, inevitably in every bathroom I check the toilet is missing.  The hole in the floor where it connects is there alright, but the toilet is gone.

Automobiles. This isn’t something that does not work, so much as one very odd thing I almost never do in my dreams, that I would expect after having lived to the threshold of old age to have done at least once.  In real life I absolutely love driving.  In my dreams I am nearly always walking.  Which is also something I like doing, don’t get me wrong. When the weather is nice I am always out for a walk, and I bought my house where I did specifically so I would be close enough to work I would walk it.  I grew up in a household without a car, so maybe this is part of it.  But I have owned a car since I was old enough to drive and I love to drive too and it’s just odd that in my dreams I never seem to even think to drive anywhere.  And what is more, there are almost never any cars in my dreams, even parked nearby.  Trains yes.  Lots of trains for some odd reason.  Train tracks and trains show up in the strangest places in my dreams.  But the one and only time I can remember ever dreaming about driving somewhere, it was This Horrible Dream that still creeps me out.

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

April 12th, 2013

A Wee Vacation

I’m just back from a brief, ad-hoc Disney World trip.  This week was going to be a stay-at-home vacation. I’m helping finance a place to live for my niece for her last semester at college, so until July I have no money for big vacation trips.  But pity me not.  I have no kids of my own so it isn’t like I’m mortgaging the house to put any through school.  I’m just helping out.  So this was going to be a staycation but I made the fatal mistake of checking the weather in Florida and then I was off. Spring was darn cold here in Charm City.

I had to do it on the cheap.  But I had some advantages.  First, I have an annual pass.  So I didn’t need to have spare cash for tickets into the parks.  Then, passholders get discount offers.  So I hit the Disney web site and looked in the passholder’s section to see if there were any specials.  There were.  I got a really nice price on one of their “value hotels” for three nights.  Then I had just over a hundred bucks worth of reward points on my Disney card, which paid for half my eats and drinks in the parks for two and a half days.  Then I had accumulated enough Holiday Inn reward points for one free night, so that helped out with motel charges on the trip down and back.

And then…there is my Mercedes diesel.  Here’s a few notes from my trip computer, plus fuel chits. This was from Baltimore City to Walt Disney World and back.

Miles: 1980
Hours (actually driving the car): 32.34
MPH (average): 61
MPG (average): 40.1

That’s a tad over forty miles per gallon in a mid-sized German luxury sedan, and this trip my trip computer registered the best mileage ever, on the stretch from Baltimore to Richmond, Virginia: 44.9. Once I got on the higher speed limit stretches of I-95 my mileage went down a tad. But still. Forty miles per gallon in a car as big and nice as a Mercedes-Benz ‘E’ class is not bad.

Total cost of diesel fuel: $195.57. That’s the highway trip plus farting around in Disney World. The annual pass gets you free parking at all the parks, so having the car with me means I can go when and where I want and it’s not an extra expense. I started out from Baltimore on a full tank. Just over the South Carolina border is Dillon. In Dillon they have the best prices on diesel on I-95 between Baltimore and Key West. Half a tank gets me from Baltimore to Dillon. Another 2/3 tank gets me to Disney World. There are reasonably priced Hess stations in the park, one of which (the one on the way out of Magic Kingdom) sells diesel. So I fill up before coming back, hit Dillon again, and that gets me home.

Even though you don’t have to stop as often for fuel, when it’s bug season you still have to pull up to the pumps just as often to clean off your windshield. But that’s fine because it’s good to take a break. I have a Flying-J loyalty card that gets me breaks on coffee and snacks. So whenever I have to make a Clean The Glass stop I refill my coffee mug and hit the bathrooms, which are usually cleaner at the Flying-J travel plazas than the highway rest stops are.

So a short trip to Walt Disney World was do-able.  And now that I’m back and all the housework I’d been planning to do with my stay-at-home vacation is still staring me in the face it was worth it.  Sometime later this summer, after my niece graduates, I’ll do a longer stay at a nicer in park hotel.  It’ll be dead of summer then…just right for fun in the water parks.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Wee Vacation

April 3rd, 2013

Without Shame What Good Is Marriage?

Via Andrew Sullivan…Mark Oppenheimer, who thinks same-sex marriage might just pass muster as long as we still get to stigmatize someone…if not the homosexuals…

So here’s my question to Douthat, Maggie Gallagher, Ross Douthat Brian Brown, the world of conservative evaneglical preachers, and others who are so concerned about same-sex marriage: What does it do your perception of Ronald Reagan that he was a divorcé—and in being the first divorced president certainly helped remove any last shreds of stigma? Would you have voted against him for that reason—as many would have in 1952? Would you discourage people from listening to radio hosts who have divorces in their past (Limbaugh, Dennis Prager), or voting for divorcés like John McCain? If our goal is to work our way back to 1950 Marriage, how are we going to re-stigmatize divorce for wealthy white people? How are we going to make their divorces seem unseemly? In 1950, when a divorced woman moved into the neighborhood, people whispered about her. Are we prepared to whisper again?

As they used to say back in the day…matter of fact as some of my elementary school teachers used to say to my face…I’m the product of a broken home.  Oddly, I would not have known my home was “broken” had it not been for so many helpful adults back in the day.  Kids hear those whispers too Oppenheimer.  But that’s part of the fun isn’t it?

Here’s my problem with shaming divorcees..

That’s my dad under that sheet.  Mom divorced him when I was two and raised me herself.  And but for the fact that mine was a household with a single divorced women at the head of it, you might even say that I was raised in a good Baptist home.  But for that one fact.  I remember how mom was treated back in those days.  I remember how she raised me by setting an example.  Never mind church.  Yes I got taken to church.  She never cheated anyone, never took advantage, never said anything about anyone in my presence she wouldn’t have said to their face, never drank or uttered a curse word in my presence, paid her bills, lived frugally (well…we had to…) kept her promises and when she passed away people in the town she retired to would come up to me on the street and tell me what a ray of sunshine she always was.  But no…it was a shameful thing being a divorced woman.  The head of my household growing up should have been the crook.  Why, I might not be homosexual if my father had been there.  A boy needs a father, and better to grow up learning how to rob people of their savings than to be a homosexual.  Provided of course I share some of the loot with a few conservative think tanks.

Dad, let it be said, was always nice to me, and nice to mom.  To other people…not so much.  And mom loved him until the day she died.  But she knew better than to let me be raised by him.  Let me tell you a brief little story about that.  When I was a teenager dad was earning a semi-honest living driving trucks and cargo around the country.  More about that “semi-honest” part in a bit.  One summer mom felt comfortable enough letting dad take me with him on one of his cross-country runs and one afternoon we stopped somewhere to eat and rest up a bit.  I chowed down in the restaurant and Dad went into the bar next door.  He came back, sat across the table from me and with a cheerful smile pushed some papers and a pen across the table at me and asked me to make a mark on the dotted line.  I must have raised an eyebrow.  Just make a mark there, he said.  You want me to sign it, I asked?  No…just scribble something.  So I’m the obedient son and I did it, and he took the pen and papers back, folded them up and put them in his jacket pocket and smiled warmly at me and said, “You just made your dad five-hundred bucks.”

Aw gee Dad…

So I have this…hunch…that if he had remained the God Ordained Head Of The Household like he was God Ordained supposed to be I probably would not be the sort of person I am now, capable of passing the background check I could so I could be doing the work I do now at Space Telescope.  Still, he was my dad and I loved him all the same and I feel these bitter little smiles come out of me whenever I hear some jackass homophobe saying that you can love people without sanctioning their behavior.  You don’t say?  Know something about that do you? And one day when my brother and I discovered he had no stone for his grave I bought him one, and my brother paid to have it placed, and it reads “Beloved Father” because sometimes you do things not because of what was, but because of what ought to have been.

I have never regretted mom’s divorce.  Regretted dad couldn’t have been a better dad, but I suppose he actually did the best he could, the best that was within him to do, and he loved his sons and his wives (he married again…and…divorced again…) as much as it was within him to love anyone.  But without a doubt was absolutely for the best for both mom and me that I was not raised by him.  And piss on you Oppenheimer, if you think whispering shame at divorcees is a good thing.  Never dawns on the likes of you that divorce might actually be a good thing does it?  Never dawns on the likes of you that the shame you throw at single mothers is felt by their children does it?  We’re just collateral damage in your little culture war aren’t we?

Here’s the problem with jackass social conservatives like him…they seem not to be able to function socially without a bunch of arbitrary rules that can never be questioned lest they get utterly lost in the human relationship thicket.  They have no idea what the rules are for, other than they’re there to prop up some sort of civilized behavior, the reason for which they have no clue whatsoever.  Homosexuality is shameful because it’s against the rules.  Divorce is shameful because it is against the rules.  The rules are Very Important because without them we wouldn’t have a fucking clue how to behave toward our neighbors.

I have a wee suggestion.  Instead of shaming divorce, how about we shame spouse abuse.  How about we shame cheating.  How about we shame not setting a good example for children.  How about we shame not taking care of children. Ah…but spouse abuse was never one of the rules…was it?  Women having to submit gracefully and all.  And children…the only thing they’re good for is a reason why same-sex couples can’t get married and women can’t own their own bodies.  It’s not like we give a good goddamn about their health or feeding or educating them.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Without Shame What Good Is Marriage?

This Really Isn’t About God Is It….

Someone in North Carolina complained that some county commissioners were starting their meetings with a prayer…and this was the response at the statehouse

North Carolina May Declare Official State Religion Under New Bill

Republican North Carolina state legislators have proposed allowing an official state religion in a measure that would declare the state exempt from the Constitution and court rulings.

The bill, filed Monday by two GOP lawmakers from Rowan County and backed by nine other Republicans, says each state “is sovereign” and courts cannot block a state “from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.”

Arguments about religion are usually arguments about Who’s In Charge rather than arguments about religion.  Same thing with arguments about Intrusive Government.  Reverence allegedly paid to God is actually directed at the Tribe, in whose name God serves.  Figure they’ll be holding a conclave down there somewhere in the old confederacy to elect the first Baptist pope any day now.

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

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