Journal Entries

Tigers in NYC and Laundry in the Transporter Room

I've just finished putting up a book review in Peer Review, per request. The book, which I read last night, is by the late Lee Israel, a rather unlikely, but talented, literary forger. Her book is a lot of fun, and the review is at A87910095.

The reason I mention this is that I was thinking about New Yorkers, of which Ms Israel was one. They're an unusual breed of human: many don't drive cars, for instance. They're usually really savvy about people. But due to their living conditions, they often don't know anything about any animal other than a human. This can be funny. This was illustrated in Ms Israel's book in her anecdote about trying to deal with flies in her Upper West Side apartment.

Last week, New Yorkers made the rest of us laugh again with their hilarious lack of woodsy lore. Here in western Pennsylvania, we are accustomed to deer in the backyard and rather large beers outside the Main Street pizzeria. The pastor, assistant pastor, and the male half of the elders at the local church are all hunters and fishers. It's that kind of place.

In New York City last week, they call the cops to report a tiger on the loose. People huddled indoors as a helicopter scouted overhead.

Read this story to see what they had mistaken for a tiger. The author has provided helpful hints for telling the creatures apart.

I've lived in cities half my life. The other half I've spent in the country, suburbs, or small towns. I can see both sides, and I enjoy the innocent laughter at the expense of city people confused by nature.

My brother-in-law used to teach Earth Science to city kids. He enjoyed bringing chicks and ducklings into the classroom. The teenagers were mystified. His own grandkids happily gather eggs on the farm.

My dreamlife isn't interested in nature these days. It's stuck in outer space. (I have celiac, and I think I ate something dubious last weekend. This results in pain and deeply weird dreams.)

Last night, I was on a spaceship. I must have been the engineer - yeah, right - because I was trying to install a transporter. I cleared off an area on the ship, and I ordered some parts from somewhere.

I had to send one part back: the housing said 'Voyager'. I sent it back with the note, 'Wrong show, get me another one.

When I got it together, I went back to where I was supposed to install the device. Lo and behold, a diplomat passenger had strung his (deeply odd) personal laundry up in that part of the ship! He had wet clothes everywhere. I was just explaining politely why we needed the space when I woke up.

Maybe Earth people don't know any more about life in space than New Yorkers know about wildlife.

smiley - dragon

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Latest reply: May 15, 2018

Is Spring Here? Dare We Hope?

I wanted to post this for Willem to see, but then I thought the rest of you might enjoy it, too:

That nuthatch is amazing with the display behaviour.

A very surprising thing happened yesterday: it didn't snow. Instead, the temperature climbed to a startling 25 degrees C. Nature's going nuts. It's warm again today, too. Does it mean spring is here? The chipmunk under the porch and the bunny with the cottontail and cute ears seem to think so, ditto the birds. We spot buds on trees.

Rain is coming, they say. There may be snow on Monday. Who knows? It's unpredictable. Molly's looking curiously out all the windows, and chasing stink bugs around the house.

I'm pulling for spring. It's past time, already.

Oh, and here's that chipmunk again, outwitting a crow for possession of a prized cob of maize. Efficient little food gatherers, chipmunks.

Solnushka says the weather in Moscow climbed to double digits. Maybe it's true...

smiley - dragon

Discuss this Journal entry [4]

Latest reply: Apr 14, 2018

Beware of the Local Government Leopard

'But the plans were on display…'
'On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.'
'That’s the display department.'
'With a flashlight.'
'Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.'
'So had the stairs.'
'But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?'
'Yes,' said Arthur, 'yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.'
- You Know Where

When I was at university, we called it 'hassling the Bureaucracy'. As in, 'Where are you going?'
'Oh, I have to go hassle the Bureaucracy. They got my course registration all mixed up.'
'Good luck. The line over there is an hour long.'
'Thanks for the tip - I'll take a book.'

When things got confusing over in the Cathedral of Learning basement, we called it a 'Kafkaesque moment' - one that reminded us of that great novel, 'Der Prozess'. If the Kafkaesque moment included one of those situations where you needed Paper A to get Form B, but couldn't get Form B without Paper A...

You guessed it: it was a 'Catch 22' situation. We may have been caught in the wheels of organisational insanity, but we knew our literature.

I've just had an experience with the local borough that was Kafkaesque, involved a Catch 22 (until I figured it out by being put on hold twice), and had me hearing the Leopard growling in the darkened recesses behind the filing cabinet. I am referring to my repeated attempts to pay a local income tax.

You would think that if local government wanted revenue, they'd at least let you know they levied one. Seriously. Well, they got around to sending me an overdue tax notice - for two years ago.

I paid it, plus late fees, penalties, interest, and handling fee. I figured, if I owed them tax two years ago, I probably owed it for the next couple of years, right? So I should pay up.

It turns out, nobody knew when, where, or how. My tax man's in another state, where they do things differently. The church people mostly live in other villages and towns, not this borough. People who live in the borough said, sure, they paid the local income tax - through their employers. Ah.

I contacted a local council member, who is also a friend. She said I had to do it online through the collection agency. Outsourcing is a Thing. Okay. I found the website.

I tried to sign up. It wouldn't let me.

Phone call. At least, they have no muzak. Just a phone ringing for several minutes. Refreshing, that. The nice young lady acted as if no one had ever, ever called her with this problem before. She behaved as if it were perfectly acceptable for people to owe taxes, but have no clue as to how to pay them. Of course she could open an account, so that I could use the e-filing system. She was very nice about it, considering this unheard-of request...I could e-file after 24 hours.

The next day: trying to efile, and being confronted by incomprehensible boxes: another phone call. Another nice young woman. This one told me I had to 'copy' the information into the form. 'How?' I wanted to know. We talked back and forth until she realised I was being 'technical' and worrying about .jpgs and .pdfs, when all I had to do was type in the information. I thanked her.

I managed to pay the taxes. My conscience is now clear. The taxes are far from exorbitant, particularly if you don't have to pay penalties. Bureaucracy successfully hassled. No more Catch-22s.

The Leopard growls softly, but stays behind the filing cabinet.

smiley - dragon

Discuss this Journal entry [23]

Latest reply: Apr 6, 2018

Alleluia, and Like That

Spring is actually coming. Hard to believe...

Can't you imagine that the really fun part about rising from the dead is going around and visiting all your friends? ('Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated...') I think about this every year and chuckle.

I also think that I would not be able to refrain from showing up at Pilate's house and walking across his swimming pool. How do you know he didn't? If you were Pontius Pilatus, would you have admitted it?

Anyway, happy Easter to all. Here's a video collaboration with Charles Wesley, some old artists, and NASA. You can watch it while I go sing 'pum, pum, pum' in the back row, hit some organ keys and pedals, and go look at baby ducks out at the farm.

smiley - dragon

Discuss this Journal entry [3]

Latest reply: Mar 31, 2018

Evil Impulse

Elektra said, 'Don't tell FWR about this,' because the narrator mentioned zombies...

So of course smiley - evilgrin, I have to share this video I found on Youtube:

It's almost a Guide Entry on film, the story of why there's a ten-mile stretch of abandoned highway in Pennsylvania that used to be part of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

I didn't know this, and I enjoyed the folksy explanation. Some of the comments are pretty interesting, too.

I thought maybe some of you outdoor types might enjoy a glimpse of our scenery out in the back of beyond.

At least, no politicians are involved.

smiley - dragon

Discuss this Journal entry [3]

Latest reply: Mar 28, 2018

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