We were supposed to be in New York for the weekend. Seeing old friends. Doing stuff with the college radio station where Garry and I met. Instead, we got weathered. Tropical storm Andrea, or her remnants, are meandering up the coast dropping tons of rain. We couldn’t face the 500 mile round trip drive in heavy rain.
So the day didn’t get off to a very good start. I expected to be on vacation, but find myself at home. It makes me grumpy.
This was not one of my best days. A stupid day. I had a snippy fight with the bagger kid in the grocery store and the dogs did things in the house they should have done outside because they don’t like rain. Through all this, my body kept reminding me that like the dogs, it doesn’t much it like the rain. The argument with the dogs and ongoing disagreements with my body were both pretty much one-sided, but the kid in the supermarket actually mumbled in what I believe was English.
The issue was pizza. I wanted my frozen pizza laid flat, not shoved into the bag sideways so all the toppings fall off. The young bagger was baffled. I suggested — perhaps a bit testily — if he would lay the bag on its side and insert the pizza, voilà, you get a flat pizza. Then I could transport the pizza and it would be ever so much more attractive when it became a future dinner.
He said I didn’t need to give him so much attitude. And me, a white-haired senior citizen.
I prefer to think the lad was giving me an unintended backhanded compliment. He finally worked out what I mean about putting pizza into the bag, but then he put another 5 pounds of groceries in the bag on top of the pizza, including a half-gallon of milk, totally defeating the entire point. Some days you really can’t win. I shudder to think what that pizza will look like when we want to eat it, but I could not argue any further. My head was beginning to hurt. I wanted to go home and sulk.
Putting the groceries away reminded me how much prices have gone up without an equivalent rise in our so-called income. It is hard to believe how little stuff $100 buys these days.
My current goal is to restore my sense of humor. I think I’m about ready to forgive the bagger and the rain has eased off enough so the dogs are going back outside. It’s going to rain tomorrow and Sunday too, or so the weather gurus are saying. These long drenching rainy periods puts all our systems to the test.
We don’t get out much any more. So many friends are gone. Many have moved far away and more are planning moves to the left coast or someplace in the southwest. It’s entirely possible I will never see many of them again. If they move to the other coast, there will be no more spontaneous gatherings. Probably ever. It’s tough to deal with. The world is supposedly getting smaller and indeed, our personal world is shrinking, but the distances between people seems to be ever-widening.
I’ll feel better when the sun comes out.
Anyone who knows me at all knows I love roller coasters. I love them all … but for me, there’s nothing that comes near the Cyclone at Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York. Been riding it since I was 8 years. I’m ready to go again. Just say the word. But I think I’d have to go alone. My friends and husband have declared themselves too crotchety to do it again. Bah. Humbug.
If a goose can bring down a 747, it is not irrational to believe a pigeon can derail a roller coaster. Just thought I’d mention it.
Here’s a crazy video of the coaster and nutty middle-aged people enjoying the last great legal high. How many of us leave this ride limping, wondering if we are as insane as we appear to be? I would say yes, we are insane. After last summer’s excursion to Busch Gardens, almost a year later … I’m still limping! But oh, that wonderful adrenaline rush as you look down the first drop, wondering if this time, the car really is going to hit a pigeon and you will go flying off into eternity. What a way to go, right?
This is still the best video I’ve seen to date. Clean, almost sort of like being there. Nah. Who am I kidding? There’s nothing like being there except being there. Garry says we’re too old, just because I can’t even stand up straight. He points out I can barely walk. But you don’t have to walk on the Cyclone. You just sit and scream. I can do it. I can, really. Especially the screaming.
Well, we’ll always have 2009 in Brooklyn.
Ah, the refreshing sounds of joy mixed with terror! What a great thing it is to be safely scared to death. Just gotta go back … one last time. I hear the new rides are FANtastic. And here, a sentimental song and a look at those long ago days of doo wop and 1962 … beehive hairdo and mini skirts. Gee. I was the same age that my granddaughter is now … yikes.
Hey Brooklyn … how are you?
- – -
- Take a roller coaster ride back in time (cnn.com)
- Coney Island Roller Coaster Turns 85 (shoppingblog.com)
- Happy 85th Birthday to the Coney Island Cyclone Roller Coaster! (amcpress.wordpress.com)
- Coney Island Cyclone marks milestone with 25-cent rides (travel.usatoday.com)
- Over the hill: NYC’s Cyclone coaster turns 85 (cbsnews.com)
- Coney Island Cyclone (coasterguy.wordpress.com)
- Brightening Up the Boardwalk (ariel51.wordpress.com)
- The Cyclone rollercoaster was built in 1927…and it felt like it was built in 1927. (ashleyhillnc.wordpress.com)
Despite hundred of years of industrial pollution, the Blackstone River Valley survives.
A complex of rivers, tributaries, wetlands, forests, lakes and streams., the Blackstone River Watershed contains more than 30 dams in its 46-mile length. This does not include dams on tributaries and other waterways, only those on the Blackstone itself.
The watershed links two states and 24 communities. Over time and with the demise of the mills and disappearance of the factories, the dams created marsh and wetlands that have become critical to the ecosystem.
Several lakes are part of the system, including Webster Lake and some big ponds that seem to be nameless. They are just there, by the road, sometimes with boat slips or docks, occasionally having little beaches where you can swim, if you can find them.
The Blackstone River‘s levels rise and fall with the seasons, with heavy rain and melting snow, and with periods of drought.
About Those Dams
Depending on who you ask, there are at least 30 dams on the Blackstone, but there many more dams if you include tributaries and large streams. In fact, there are dams just about everywhere if you look for them. They create waterfalls and exquisite ponds, as well as wetlands.
Dams would typically be associated with a mill, but many now appear to stand alone. Probably, there was a mill there once. But it’s gone. The dam lives on in the middle of nowhere. Figure there was something there – maybe a gristmill for local farms or something like that. Some of these old dams are works of art.
Old Stone Fences
Speaking of the middle of nowhere, a lot of land around here was cultivated but has returned to forest. Our home is on former farm land. Many clues about the history areas in New England can be found if you can find the stone fences.
Our modest acreage is crisscrossed by stone fences. These walls mark the edges where fields were. Now, they’re the middle nowhere, which of course is just where I live.
Most of the good stuff is invisible until you get out of your car and take a walk. I look for areas where I can safely stop and park (the definition of what is good enough changes depending on terrain and how badly I want to stop). With narrow roads bounded by close-growing woods and wetland, it’s good to be cautious when you take your vehicle to an unpaved area.
Often, patches of ground that look like weedy, slightly muddy ground are the edge of the marsh. I use the “if it looks wet but it hasn’t rained in the last few days, don’t go there” rule. That generally works. I am not as intrepid as once I was . The problem is always to find a safe place for the car that still puts me within modest walking distance from my target area. I should mention that I can’t walk too well these days. My goat-girl clambering years are past. I’m not surefooted and my hip joints and I have a deal: I let them alone and they let me walk.
I look for little sandy pull-off areas that appear to adjoin a dirt road, and if possible, near an overpasses. An overpass tells me that the river is right under me, so whatever I’m looking for is not far. When you see a pull-off next to a dirt walking trail, that means other people come there. Not instructional and surely not on any map, but for this area, pretty good. Unlike the suburbs, rural areas don’t have signs telling you what you can or cannot do … or where you are. They figure you know where you are or ought to, and you’ll do whatever you came to do.
On the up side, you’re unlikely to have anyone yell at you that you’re not allowed to go there. For that matter, if you fall in the rapids and drown, it might be a while before they find you. I have adjusted my roaming accordingly. I try to bring a friend who can call 911 if I do something dumb.
If these places have names, there’s no sign. Rhode Island is better about signage than Massachusetts, where the attitude is “If you don’t know where you are, why are you here?” Rhode Island is more densely populated, maybe because it is so tiny.
Here, in south central Massachusetts, there’s a lot of open areas that don’t seem to belong to anyone and it’s rare to bump into other people. When you do, they aren’t chatty. You don’t go to places no one can find to converse with strangers. Thus, most places I go places are unmarked. No road signs, nothing to tell you which piece of river, lake or dam you’ve found. If you don’t find it amusing, you’ll spend all your time grousing, so you might as well laugh.
When I’m shooting, I roam. I often have no idea how I got to wherever I landed. Sometimes the GPS helps, but many places are off-road and not on the map. There are places I’ve been once, but never found again. Off a path by a bridge along a side road near a farm, maybe in Massachusetts, perhaps Rhode Island. I have always loved going wherever the road took me.
I’m especially fond of the old low stone bridges that I call “keyholes” but probably have another name. A lot of them are also now in the middle of nowhere, on paths that are long gone and not even accessible by foot.
Some of the oldest bridges are still in use, repaired and rebuilt many times, now supporting heavy traffic — cars and trucks — on roads that were designed for horse and buggy or herds of cows. Better not to think too hard on that.
One of the larger lakes that forms a part of the watershed is Webster Lake. A map from 1795 shows the name as “Chargoggaggoggmancogmanhoggagogg”. A survey of the lake from 1830 names the lake as “Chaubunagungmamgnamaugg”, which is an older name. The following year, both Dudley and Oxford, which at that time bordered the lake, filed maps listing it as “Chargoggagoggmanchoggagogg”.
Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg or Webster Lake is probably the largest open body of water in the valley. Spelling of this lake’s long (probably Algonquin) name varies a lot, depending on where you read about it. Since it isn’t English, it’s at best a rough transliteration anyhow. The actual meaning is conjecture. Local residents pride themselves on being able to pronounce the long name of the lake. I can’t. I just call it Webster Lake. It doesn’t make it less beautiful.
And so it goes. Hopefully there will come a day (soon!) when the pollution is gone and our river is clean. Meanwhile, the beauty is there for all of us.
My world runs on rechargeable batteries.
Three laptops, two Kindles, two cellphones, six cameras, four mouses (mice have fur and make squeaky noises, mouses attach to your computer), wireless keyboards, GPS, various clocks, flashlights, who-knows-how-many remote controls, electric razors, tooth cleaning machines, and a mind-numbing array of miscellaneous devices I can’t remember off-hand. To keep the world running, Other than those things that run on AAA and AA rechargeable batteries, everything else uses some kind of proprietary battery. I do not understand why camera makers feel obliged to use a different battery for each camera model. Surely they could design at least all cameras of one type to use the same battery.
I don’t always realize how dependent we are on batteries and chargers until I’m packing for vacation. Half a carry-on bag is entirely allocated to chargers and wires. And that’s just for items we use while traveling: laptop accessories, Kindles, cell phones, mouses, portable speakers, cameras and accessories. Laptops and cameras have their own cases … but there’s never enough room for the chargers.
I used to pack all the chargers and wires carefully, all coiled and tied to avoid tangling. One day, I gave up. Now I shove the chargers and wires in a bag and untangle as needed.
At home, I have to keep track of what needs charging and which chargers they use. There are so many I finally was unable to remember which batteries went with which gadget. I really had to address the mess.
The floor of my office is covered with wires and power strips. I’m afraid to walk anywhere because I might step on something fragile.
I did what I do best: research. There are solutions. Not all power strips are the same, and there’s a whole new generation designed to address exactly the problems we all have with too many chargers and power supplies. Some of them are quite pricey, some more affordable. It’s still cheaper to buy a generic strip at Walmart or Target. But you may actually wind up with more usable space if you pay a bit more and get a strip designed to accommodate various sizes and shapes.
These deal with the problem of oddly shaped and variously sized chargers and power supplies, both strips and as wall sockets.
Let’s start with the Belkin Pivot Surge Protectors. These are available in a 3 versions: a 6-outlet wall mounted version, plus 2 corded versions (6 and 8 foot).
There is extra space between sockets and most also pivot and rotate to let you use all the outlets without waste. Belkin products are usually high quality and they are well-known for their surge protectors. Of course, you may or may not actually need surge protection, but most of these units include it.
I put surge protectors on computers and printers. Battery chargers are cheap and easy to replace and anyway, surges aren’t my problem. Power outages are more likely to be the problem, but a surge protector is no help with that.
Lightning is a problem. Surge protectors are useless against lightning.
We’ve been hit by lightning on three occasions. The first strike was on a utility pole in front of the house. It took out two computers and a printer. The second took down a tree, but no equipment. The third strike killed the well pump which is more than 450 feet underground. That’s how I learned that lightning can strike underground. Apparently the combination of electricity, metal, and water is very attractive to lightning. Well pumps are expensive and not necessarily covered by home insurance.
Lightening is incredibly powerful. Anything plugged in when lightning strikes will get fried. The only thing that will protect against lightning is having your equipment physically unplugged when it strikes. Just a bit of advice from someone who has learned her lesson the hard way.
Insurance will replace equipment, but no one will replace lost data. For that you need a backup on a separate drive.
Prices for the Belkin surge protectors (on Amazon) range from about $18 for the wall-mounted unit, to $25 for the 12-outlet unit with an 8-foot cord, to $27 for the 8-outlet surge protector with a 6-foot cord. The 8-outlet is a very different design and lets you rotate the outlets so that you can use all of the outlets regardless of the size or shape of the chargers or power supplies you want to plug in.
The design of the 8-outlet unit spreads the outlets along a round, wand-like strip that lets you configure the sockets to fit a wide variety of variously sized and shaped chargers and power supplies.
Quite a bit of creativity has gone into some of the designs. By the way, all of these are available on Amazon.
The creative solutions don’t end here. The Kensington 62634 SmartSockets 6-Outlet 16 Foot Cord Table Top Circular Color Coded Power Strip and Surge Protector looks like an electrified lazy Susan. Designed to put in the middle of a conference table so participants can all plug their laptops in at the same time, you could as easily use it on the floor.
It’s rather pricey at more than $40, but it is very cool and if you need a table top strip, this is probably a good choice.
For 25% less, Quirky makes something similar. The white Quirky Pivot Power 6 Outlet Flexible Surge Protector Power Strip costs a couple of dollars less than the identical unit in black. I have no idea why.
Though not cheap, it is not as expensive as the Kensington or Belkin units, nor as fancy. The sockets rotate, but don’t swivel. If you can live without swiveling and color coding, you can get one of these for just under $30. Exactly what will work for you, whether or not any of these will be right for you, depends on the shape of the space you have and how many devices and chargers you have.
If, like me, your charger problem extends into your kitchen and bathroom, there are wall-mounted units for that let you rotate outlets.
You can keep your electric razor and water pic plugged in and still have somewhere to attach the hair dryer or curling iron. And if, like my husband, you want to play the radio while you do your daily ablutions, you have a plug for that too. At about $15, it’s a real problem-solver. There are other versions made for kitchen appliances that come with more outlets in some fascinating shapes.
My personal favorite and what consider the most power strip for the least money is Ideative’s Socket Sense 6-Outlet Expandable Surge Protector, 3-Foot Cord. It’s simple and costs just $15. You can set the spacing as needed. Since the equipment in our life keeps changing, I’m attracted by a strip that I can adapt to changing requirements. I have two of them and need one more.
Ideative’s strips are comparatively simple. No rotating or color coding outlets, but you can make the space between outlets larger or smaller, so most things should fit easily. The sockets are angled to make it easier to plug stuff in.
There are more. Tripp Lite makes a series of high voltage surge protecting traditional strips that have as many as 24 outlets.
They are expensive and much higher tech than I need, but it depends on what you need … and the size of your budget, because those babies cost upwards of $50 apiece.
Below is a cord splitter, one alternative to a strip. I have one in my office and it has the advantage that any size device will fit into any plug. These are also sometimes called hubs and may include special sockets for charging USB devices, or hooking up phone lines. I also have a hub like this on my desk that gives me an extra five USB outlets. Just be aware that not every device operates properly through a hub; some devices need to be plugged directly into the computer.
Civilization probably wouldn’t survive the loss of electricity, but until the world as we know it comes to an end, at the very least we can make life a little easier. All you need is willingness to do the research … and a credit card. With some credit on it.
Like so many problems in life, if you throw money at it, you can make it to go away. More or less.
Everything and everybody changes. Most of my family and friends have changed relatively gradually over the years. Recently a couple of people I’ve known for a long time have changed suddenly and dramatically. Overnight, they became dry and humorless.
It appears they had a humorectomy. While they slept, their sense of humor was removed. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but it’s deeply disturbing. I think it’s possible they have been replaced by pods, like the ”Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”
I could not survive if I did not see how ridiculous my life is. If the absurdity of it didn’t make me laugh, I would do nothing buy cry and bewail my state. Laughter heals me. It’s better than sex. Better than yoga, meditation, medication, or street drugs. It’s free, unrestricted by laws, available to anyone who is not yet dead and is acceptable behavior under almost all religious systems.
Many friends are going through rough times. Their problems vary, but the results are the same. Stress, anguish, fear, worry, insomnia. You worry, try to keep it together until you’re ready to explode.
What can you do? If the light at the end of the tunnel is indeed the headlight of an oncoming train, I say: “Buckle up and let your hair blow in the wind. It’s going to be a Hell of a ride.”
Laughing at the craziness, insanity, ludicrousness, the utter absurdity of my life — and the demented world in which I live it — is my first line of defense against despair. Take away laughter, strip away my sense of humor and I’m a goner.
At our wedding — 22 years ago — my cousin and I danced the hora. What makes the dance so memorable – other than discovering that she was in great shape and I wasn’t — was feeling like I was going to spin out of control. That feeling of being grabbed by something stronger than you and being twirled and spun with no ability to control what happens has become an allegory of my life.
I laugh any time I can, at anything that strikes me as even a little bit funny. It helps me remember why I bother to keep living.
My friends make me laugh. I make then laugh. When our lives are in tatters and everything around us is collapsing, we laugh. Then, we take a deep breath, and laugh some more. The more awful the situation, the more dreadful and intractable the problems, the funnier it is. We are not laughing at tragedy … we are laughing at life.
The difference between tragedy and comedy is how you look at it. Laugher is the universal cure for griefs of life.
- The Health Benefits of Laughter (everydayhealth.com)
- Health Benefits of Laughter – 4 Ways to Get a Good Laugh In Today (massageenvy.com)
- Principles of RSM #13: Humor can lighten and heal (powerinyourhands.wordpress.com)
- Laugh (kenwalt50.wordpress.com)
- Laugh your way to good health (thehindu.com)
- How To Be Funny (circa2012.me)
- VIEWPOINTS: How important is having a sense of humor to your faith? Does your creator have a sense of humor? (wilmingtonfavs.com)