Sunday, July 23, 2017

Headline I did not want to see

"Sanders keeping door open on 2020"

What the hell is wrong with these aging politicians? Bernie Sanders makes some great progressive arguments, by why would anyone who is barely a month away from turning 76 imply that he's just fine with being a candidate three years from now? I have the same reaction to Sanders hinting coyly that he might okay with running again that I do with every other geezer in Washington who refuses to admit it's time to step aside. I am really thoroughly sick of seeing the country run by a bunch of wrinkled codgers who are so wrapped up in their own ego trips that they can't take the time to cultivate a younger generation to carry on after them.

After all, Bernie isn't exactly unique. Dianne Feinstein is 84, up for re-election in 2018, and is still dithering over whether or not to retire. It's like the remarkably evil Strom Thurmond set some sort of precedent and ever since then, when the man managed to stay in office long after he looked like he should have been in the ground instead of being wheeled out occasionally to prove to the voting public he was still breathing, they all want to go for way more terms in office than any sane person should aspire to. Whatever happened to the joys of being the elder statesman who went off to make a fortune as a figurehead for a lobbying firm and got paid ridiculous honorariums for spouting platitudes and sound bites on Sunday morning news shows?

 I don't care what your political affiliation might be -- left, right, somewhere in the middle -- but if you actually care about the ideologies you supposedly espouse, isn't there an obligation to ensure that there are people coming along behind you who will also support those policies or ideologies? What's the point in being in office forever if you're not mentoring anyone or promoting the next generation of leaders and policy makers? One of the reasons I despised (and still despise) Hillary Clinton is she was more interested in feeding her own ego than she was in cultivating a younger generation. Instead of promoting her own eventual candidacy when she lost in the primaries in 2008, she should have looked at the calendar, done the math, and tried to build a bench for 2016. Did she do that? Nope. End result? A remarkably weak Democratic field and eventually a Human Yam in the White House.

I'm not much of a fan of term limits. We've had them for awhile in Michigan and the consequences have not been good. I am, however, beginning to lean more and more toward the idea of mandatory maximum ages for candidates and mandatory retirement ages for the geezers already in office.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Life's little disappointments

I had the first round of cataract removal done Thursday afternoon. It was remarkably boring. You don't actually get to see much when you're strapped to a table with a surgical drape over your face. 

Oh, the flashing lights and weird psychedelic effects in the eye that was getting sliced and having a introcular artificial lens implanted were moderately entertaining, but overall the experience made a person feel more like one of those chocolate bonbons in an old "I Love Lucy" episode than anythng else. I was halfway hoping to hear some Beethoven as the nurses adjusted the eye speculum and got stuff ready in the operating room but, nope, nothing but idle chatter about what the weather's been like and how ridiculously expensive ground beef has become.

It really was an assembly line operation. Patients checked in, were parked in recliners in a holding pen, had their vitals taken, eye drops to cause dilation dropped into whichever eye was about to be sliced, and were handed a Valium to mellow them out. Every 10 or 15 minutes or the occupant of a recliner would be led into the OR, be gone for not much time at all, return to the relciner just long enough for a blood pressure check, and released back into a regular waiting room. None of the recliners stayed vacant long.

The Valium, incidentally, was the only sedation. I had a vague memory of the S.O. being given more drugs to mellow him out, but maybe not. I was relieved. I always dislike the rohypnol variety of sedation, the stuff that keeps you conscious at the time but leaves you with a blank space in your memory. Mellow, strapped down, but mentally present was fine with me. They dripped enough numbing material into the eyeball to block any pain that might be associated with the actual surgery, and that was the important part. For that matter, there may have an injection of something, too. If there, things were already numb enough that I didn't notice.

The S.O. netioned having some pain after his cataract removal, but about all I noticed was more of a dull ache, kind of like my eyelids were protesting having been forced wide open for longer than they would have liked. On the 1 to 10 pain scale, it was way over on the low end. An annoyance, not actual hurting, and it didn't last long. Now that it's been almost 48 hours, about the only thing I'm noticing is a vague dry, itchy feeling, which hopefully won't last much longer. I'm keeping the eye shield on 24 hours a day until that vague itchy feeling goes away. I got told to wear it while sleeping for two weeks, but I'm paranoid enough about accidentally rubbing the eye too soon that I'll live with it on all the time. I sprang for the high dollar intraocular replacement lens in the hope that I'll be able to do counted cross stitch without wearing glasses. I have no desire to screw that investment up.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

No winemaking this year

Concord grapevine reachng for the sky
Once again the deer are now doing a nice job of trimming the grapevines. Things have finally dried out enough that we've been able to do some weed whacking around the grapes and some other plants. It was immediately clear that the deer have not lost their taste for grape leaves. The vines are in no danger of dying, but they're also not likely to bloom and produce grapes.

Oh well. I can live without stomping my own grapes. And if I really want to make grape jelly from scratch I can always buy a few pounds of grapes from the fruit stand later this summer. They usually get some locally grown Concords in, although not a huge amount. The U.P. is not exactly Napa Valley. Summers are a tad too short here for grapes to do well. I may fantasize about getting some home-grown grape juice, but I'll be happy just manage to train the vines to grow along wires and form a natural-looking fence. The Concord doesn't seem to grasp that concept. It prefers to send a zillion vines rocketing off in all sorts of directions. Last summer we kind of lost control of it, and I swear it had decided to try blocking the driveway. It grows like crazy, but not in the way I'd like it to.

In other gardening news, the peonies are finally blooming. Yep, it's the second week in July and I have peonies. Every where else peonies are a late spring, early summer flower. Here they're midsummer. Or do they count as autumnal because it's after the 4th of July? They're doing the opposite of the grapevines. They're trying to kiss the ground. As soon as they're in full bloom, the stems decide the weight is just a little too much for them to bear and they flop over. What is the point of breeding flowers where the plants can't support their weight? I've got some daffodils that do the same thing -- they were bred to have amazing double blooms, but once they're in full bloom they flop over. It makes no sense. . . Unless plant breeders love slugs, because that's what blossoms attract as soon as they touch the ground.
Slugs may like peonies, but deer don't. The deer change their preferred browse every summer -- one year they love Asian lilies; the next summer they ignore them and eat phlox instead -- but they've never eaten peonies. They're also smart enough to avoid the foxglove, and have never shown any interest in annuals like snapdragons and petunias. 
 My mother used to have an amazing flower garden every year. She planted all sorts of old-fashioned stuff I can't find seeds for anymore: bachelor's buttons, baby's breath, nasturiums, ordinary pink cosmos. You can't even find the seeds for some of the old-fashioned flowers in catalogs, which strikes me as odd. Why would bachelor's buttons go out of fashion?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Holy wah, the stupid is running deep

I screwed up recently. I joined an RV discussion group on Facebook.

Now I already knew, thanks to having been a campground host, that some of the people who take to the road in motorhomes or drag travel trailers around aren't the brightest examples of humanity on the planet. We've seen people do some remarkably stupid stuff in campgrounds. To be honest, we've done some dumb stuff ourselves through inexperience or ignorance, although I'd like to believe nothing that comes close to plumbing the depths of stupid I'm seeing in the questions people ask.

For example, it floors me to read posts from people admitting in a public forum that they just dropped $150,000 or more on a leviathan (class A motorhome) but they have no clue how to back it up, level it, or even figure out what some of the cabinets are for. Here's a clue, people: if it's an empty storage space, you use it to hold stuff you don't want sitting around out in the open. For some people, that might be board games and DVDs. For others, it could be extra bedding. The whole point of an empty cabinet is that you can fill it with whatever items you personally need to stash somewhere. You don't need to ask the Internet for permission to use any empty cabinet to store your Captain Crunch, your DVDs, or your sex toys.

But I digress, at least a little. In the last 24 hours I have seen a person ask about getting a 50 foot extension cord to connect a 50 amp service because they can't back into a space and there aren't any pull-through sites, another person inquire about jacking up a leviathan to "get the back wheels off the ground and level the motorhome," and a third blockhead inquire about whether or not a 1-ton diesel pickup was powerful enough to tow the giant 5th wheel trailer he plans to buy. The person who wanted advice on leveling was apparently unaware that the brand new motorhome she'd bought had self-levelers. She was at a Corps of Engineers campground so there couldn't have a whole lot of slope to the site. The self-levelling should have been more than enough. For sure she didn't know you can buy plastic blocks to place under your rig's wheels, kind of like adult legos, at any Walmart. How can anyone invest in an RV and not even know where to buy accessories for it?! (Personally, we carry pieces of scrap lumber, but the S.O. and I are notoriously cheap frugal. We are, after all, the same people who decided a free used llama stall mat makes a great patio rug.)

In any case, these are all people who are apparently planning to go straight from never having owned an RV into playing around with the largest, most awkward to use equipment they can find. No intermediary stages of owning a pop-up camper, a conversion van, or a small travel trailer. Nope. Straight from being couch potatoes to living the good life in the biggest RV they can finance.

And then having made that decision instead of actually going to an RV dealership and talking with experts, you know, maybe looking at the 5th wheel of your dreams and then asking the sales rep "Just what does it take to tow something that big?" you decide to consult the collective ignorance of a Facebook discussion group.

Jesus wept.

On the other hand, the cheerful ignorance does explain why there are so many ads out there for not very used equipment, leviathans with only a few hundred miles on them and travel trailers that were used for less than 4 months. If you go into something not having a clue just what it is you're doing, it's not going to take you very long to decide it was a colossal mistake.