Still Slow

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving to the SW, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Having to spend time this morning dealing with Social Security. The promised call last week in regards retirement, or the promised follow-up, still have not happened. Not surprised.

Instead, I got a letter from the disability people telling me that a form I mailed back in early December did not reach them, despite the fact it was mailed in the same package as two other forms they apparently did get. Spending this morning working that issue instead of blogging or doing some fun writing. Got an idea for another little short that might get a laugh or two.

Beege Welborn at Hot Air has a good post on some recent Russian deaths. Add to that the number of mysterious fires at various locations that also just happen to produce (or possibly store) military items and it indicates an interesting time.

Others have said it, and I agree: all the deaths can’t be directly attributed to Vladimir. Quite a few, yes. Public disagreement with Vladimir has never been particularly healthy. That said, the GRU most likely did not do them all.

I keep harping on the fact that Russia is a very different culture, with very different mores, and a very different way of thinking about things. Business is something of a blood sport, and one rarely rises to oligarch without figurative or even literal blood on your hands. Hiring retired members of GRU 29155 is highly prized I hear. So, while I think Vladimir has indeed had some killed (Gazprom comes to mind), some (maybe even up to half) of the deaths are just a hazard of doing business in Russia. All in all, if I were an oligarch I would both hire a food taster and stay away from windows, roofs, and long stairways.

If you are traveling by air, good luck! I have at least one friend who is scheduled to fly Southwest this weekend, and is already looking into options. I like Southwest and have flown them many times. Back in the day, they allowed the flight attendants and others to have a sense of humor and otherwise make the flights as fun as possible. Hearing from multiple sources (one on WIBC Hammer and Nigel show yesterday was a retired pilot) that a lot of the problem is their scheduling system.

Short version: it has not been updated since the (early?) 90s and has no way to access via web, app, or anything else. It presumes you are where you are supposed to be, and has no real means of easily updating if that is not the case. Along with related ticketing and other systems, it’s a mess that should have been replaced 20 years ago. Such has been pointed out, multiple times it is reported, to senior management who did nothing.

In addition to whatever the Biden Regency does, expect to see a severe backlash from customers and investors. If there are not major changes in senior management, they may not be able to stay in business. Which would be a shame. I’d rather see a clean sweep at the top, needed upgrades made, and them stay in business myself.

More soon I hope. If anyone is inclined, hits to the fundraiser or other options very much appreciated.

One More Day Off

I hope that all of you had a Blessed and wonderful Christmas! Mine was good, though I eagerly await a return to the 50s after the storm. Thankfully, we did not get hit as bad as predicted though it has been cold and icy.

Which is why I’ve taken a few days off. The weather has done a job on my joints, and there was one morning I just went from bed into the shower for about 20 minutes to get the arms working. Getting my cookware from the top shelf of the cabinet has been interesting a couple of mornings.

Still no word from the SSA, which sadly doesn’t surprise me. Going to wait and see, really not expecting anything this week. The complaint I filed with the Indiana Attorney General about PayPal refusing to close my account got the attention of some people at PayPal. They swear there really is a technical issue, they are working on it, please be patient: I just want the account closed, now.

More soon, and if you are a Russian businessman or woman, don’t go near the windows.

I’m not optimistic for parts of 2023, but I also hope and pray that it is a good year (on some levels at least) for us all!

A Small Gift

It’s rough in many ways, but came to me in a dream this morning as a thing to share.

It was dark, though I was not sure if it was day or night.  It no longer mattered as we lay there in the light of the small tree decorated with care.  It was a tradition that had stood the test of time, as we put it up each year and hung the lights and the few special ornaments that made it our tree.  

The darkness grew in the room, even as the light spilled from the tree.  As that light grew, my breath caught as I recognized it and remembered the first time I ever saw it.  


The girl was an anomaly, and anomalies made me suspicious.  Even in this form.  I had already hunted and fed, as you pretty much had to do that after a change.  The old tales of changelings having bloody feasts was true, as changing either way was a huge energy sink that required complex amino acids, protein, and more.  So, first you ate and you weren’t particular about what or who you ate right after a change.  Bad fiction not withstanding, it wasn’t a fun type of eat either.  

Me?  I prepared food in advance and had it waiting.  Rare, not raw, and everything I would need to deal with the change.  Even in human form I liked my steaks rare.  In this case, I also laced everything with supplements, just to be safe.  

I had moved to the desert years back, so as to take myself and my curse away from normal, innocent humans.  The abandoned mine had been a great place to build a small home in front, with plenty of room (and exits) behind.  Here, I posed little risk to the innocent, had plenty of game to hunt at the change, and, even better, I had discovered prey worthy of my new form and skills. 

There were and are evil humans, and I did consider them fair game.  I also discovered there were other things, evil, that were not human.  Even in my cursed state I saw them as fair game and worked hard to rid the area around me of them all.  I even expanded my territory so as to remove them from being able to reach the little pockets of humanity that existed even in this remote area.  

She shouldn’t have been there.  Not even the human traffickers moved through this area anymore.  Yet, here she was and she was a puzzle.  

She stood as if waiting, and clearly knew I was there.  Yet, she had not pissed or shit herself, which was the usual reaction of a human to meeting such as me.  Her scent was a tangled mix of girl, maiden, and even a whiff of crone.  I circled carefully, sniffing and studying.  

I was not hungry, having eaten a number of snacks in the form of small animals along the way, so I was more intrigued than anything.  Her presence screamed “trap” in many ways, and something else in others.  I kept the trap in mind even as I circled closer and closer, searching for hidden things and forms and not finding them.  

In human terms, she was a petite thing.  Sitting on my haunches she barely could meet my eyes.  With canid directness, I leaned forward and sniffed her crotch.  When a dog, or wolf, does such it is because that sniff, and your scent, carries a lot of information about which no lie can hold.  Sex, age, health, and for females where you are in your cycle are just part of the complex information shared.  Yeah, you can get almost as much from the neck, but it’s more thorough and complete at the crotch, for all that humans consider it rude.  

This sniff, however, caused me to rock backwards onto my haunches.  I literally could not tell her age, beyond the fact that she was adult and moving towards peak fertility.  At the same time, there were elements of pre-pubescent youth and extreme age involved.  Her health was excellent, and her hygiene good to the point that it was clear she was quite fastidious.  Underneath it, however, was something else, something I had not felt in far too long.  

She spread her arms wide, clearly in welcome, and as I came forward towards her I heard her say 

“About time you silly old wolf” 

even as the light came blazing out of her.  As it did, I hit the ground hard, in pure genuflection.  Even as I did so, I caught a glimpse of the knight slightly behind her, who’s body was the purity of youth with eyes that were as old as the universe.  I noticed a slight smile on his lips as he nodded in approval at my prostration.  

The light was filled with fractals, almost like a kaleidoscope of my youth.  I caught glimpses of multiple things at the same time, birth, horrific death, and more before a thing of pure light shadowed them all.  I lowered my eyes to the ground as she approached, and felt a gentle hand touch the back of my head.  

What poured into me was love, and a data dump such that in a cartoon I would have been cross-eyed and had birds tweeting in a circle around my head for weeks.  I knew who she was, and in any form my lips are not worthy to form that name.  I howled and drifted into the light that flowed within me.  

When I awoke, the girl had made a nest in the fur of my belly in which to sleep.  I smiled, though many might not recognize it as a smile.  Oddly content and at peace, I leaned forward and kissed her as wolf should.  She stirred, and I heard the laughter behind her words as she said

“Ohhh, Ick, wolf germs!”  

I couldn’t help it, I laughed at the old, old joke, and she giggled into my chest.  My howls probably sounded ferocious, but were anything but.  We lay like that for a while, each content with the other and the situation.  Finally, she roused and moved out to look me in the eye.  

“We need to make a little trip before we go home.  There’s something we need to collect, since it’s not just you or me anymore.”  

I nodded to show I understood, and she leaned forward and kissed my head.  Her hand moved, and shortly after my leg began to move as she found the spot and sent me into canid nirvana.  When she stopped, she smiled again, a woman’s smile, and spoke again.

“There’s better than that to come.”  

She went over to where a small pack had appeared, and picked it up.  I swear it had not been there the night before.  Together, we walked as she led us both to a place I had not been before.  There, at her direction, I dug a bit and we found an old leather bag filled with gold coins.  She placed it in her pack, and we then headed towards my home.  

It really wasn’t much, but I was proud of it.  Thick walls enfolded a bedroom and bathroom, a living room, and a kitchen.  Despite the remoteness, I had electricity courtesy of a discrete tap on a power line a mile or so away,  The living room had a fireplace, which provided both light and heat at need.  Opening the door to the mine led to many things, including the library that I had built off of the books I brought with me.  I may have been cursed, but it did not stop me from learning, and hoping.  

Her smile was huge when she saw the small tree, already decorated.  I may have cast aside many things when cursed, but faith and tradition were not among them.  Every year, at this time, I found a small tree and brought it alive into my home.  I decorated it, fed it, and at the end of Christmas I took it outside and planted it.  Before too many more years passed, I would have a nice shield of evergreens around my home.  

She made herself right at home, to my amusement.  It wasn’t just the cleaning and re-arranging, but the fact that she would nest in my fur almost any time I lay down.  Though it was not in a church building, we had truly been wed and while a challenge on some fronts to my bachelor ways, it was also a thing I welcomed having been convinced that such was not for me.  

I admit she spoiled me.  She loved to cook, and I was sated every day in ways I had not known before.  Being in wolf form demanded a lot of nutrients, much less calories, and it was as if she knew everything I needed at any given time.  A week or so after we arrived home, I awoke to quite the breakfast, with meats and pastries and more.  Even as I ate, I had no need to sniff her directly to tell that she was both at peak fertility and quite aroused.  She blushed bright crimson as I simply looked at her, then once I was finished she led me back to bed.  

While it was never that same level of crimson, as the years went by she always blushed.  I loved that blush, and the sounds she made later that were as close to a howl as a human throat could form.  Afterwards, as always, she made a nest in my fur and slept.  

Yes, I did change back to human form a few times in those early days, for both our sakes.  Yet, it was not to be, and for reasons I can’t name it was intended, right, and fitting that I stay in my wolf form.  No, I will not call it cursed, not any more.  Not after that data dump.  A small bit of memory to share with you… 

“You know I haven’t killed anything that didn’t deserve it, other than that mouthy squirrel, since I met you.”  

“Hmmmph.  Any squirrel deserves it, and they are mouthy for a reason.  Whenever you catch yourself and stop yourself from saying something it has to go somewhere, so it goes to the squirrels to say.  It’s why they are such mouthy things.” 

I stopped and looked at her out of the corner of my eye as she mixed something in a bowl.  There were things that came out of her that clearly came from on high.  Then there were things like this.  A wise wolf learned to simply nod knowingly.  Which I did. 

The smile that crossed her face let me know she knew what I had done, and I smiled a bit too.  Not too much, for that could get a reaction I might not like, but…. 

Her face took on a more serious look. 

“He, and those that serve him, can’t create.  They can only warp, distort, or denigrate that which God has made.  The virus that made us what we are was something that was broken, warped, distorted to make it what it is today.  It was not created, just broken.”  

With a sniff of disdain, she went back to mixing and I slowly nodded towards the fire as I knew from that awful data dump that she was right.  It had indeed been broken, and creatures like me were the result.  The us part made me raise a mental eyebrow.  Only, for some of us, something held.  Some core remained in place and even at our worst we tried not to harm sentient beings.  

Which is why I hadn’t simply attacked that girl I found waiting for me in a small fold of the rocks years ago.  Why she, and the memories given to me, had to work together to truly take her as my wife.  That first union had resulted in twin sons.  

The nuns and monks had entered our lives right after that first union.  Some of the coins we had brought back changed hands, and our larder was filled.  Well, to me they smelled as nuns, though none of them wore the wimple.  They clearly were a religious order, though I had my doubts that the Church, any Church, was officially aware of them.  

Even after she began to swell, we enjoyed each other as she said we needed practice.  Some dim memory from being purely human reminded me that such made delivery easier, so, we practiced.  When her time drew near, the nuns returned, this time with a monk, and I held her as our children were born.  

The twins spent time oh her, on her skin, and then spent time on me.  They made contented sounds as they, like her, made nests in my fur.  As for me, that was the most contented time of my life, for all our children.  After she had nursed them for a couple of weeks, and they had spent as much time with us as possible, they were taken away.  I howled when they left, not so much in negation as a recognition of what must be, and as a way for them to find us later.  

Years meant so much to me in my human form, and not so much in wolf form.  It’s a rather different perspective on time, measured more as seasons and not years.  It was measured by litters, by births, rather than anything else.  I lost track of the years, though I never lost track of our children, and there were many in our time together.  

Over time, our children came back to us as members of whatever religious order it was that looked out for us.  They brought us our regular supplies, and tended us as she gave birth.  Now, they waited, knowing what was to come.  

My forays out to hunt and prune back any evil that dared raise it’s head nearby slowly dropped in distance and number, even as she clearly was slowing down.  She began fading before my eyes, though her eyes still danced with laughter and mischief.  A few days ago, I had known.  

So we lay together on the old, worn sofa, looking at our small tree decorated in light and love.  She had made a nest in my belly fur, and had not stirred from it.  A few days ago, she had quit eating, as had I.  As I lay there, watching both her and the tree, I was content.  Our children and various types of grandchildren were around us.  

Moved, I leaned down and kissed her, my tongue messing her hair.  Though her eyes never opened, a smile crossed her face and I heard faintly her little girl voice say 


“Silly old wolf” 

Even as I began to chuckle, the light suddenly grew.  As it overwhelmed me, I saw once again the fractals of details, not just of our world but many.  From that overwhelming image, She emerged.  As She took our hands, I saw once again the knight off to the side, but this time, he raised his sword in salute, and he nodded to me.  In the distance, I saw our children, who both showed what we had become and provided a line of defenders against the dark.  Who stood for creation, and not the degradations of it.  

Looking down to my side, I saw I was not alone.  Our forms were different, not at all like our Earthly shells but refined.  While what we had been was reflected in them, they were more.  Together we followed Her deeper into the light, hand in hand, and smiles upon our face.  

Merry Christmas!

May your day be Blessed, and filled with light, love, and laughter. May the warmth of the light and love that surround us all fill you, those around you, and your day.

To my friends, acquaintances, and readers who follow an older faith: Chag urim sameach!

To those who struggle this time of year, particularly this day: you are not alone. Please reach out at need, and know that there are others who share and understand. It can be the roughest time of year, but you are not alone.

May peace and love be upon you all, and if you have family cherish that time for it is not given to all.

Merry Christmas!

Cold Weather Preparedness & Survival

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving to the SW, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

You can write books on the topic, but for now, a few quick thoughts on preparing for the cold and surviving the experience. This morning, we hit somewhere close to -10 they say, with -8 and -9 seen around the lair. With winds staying above 10 mph and gusting up above 25 mph, it makes it a bit brisk. Thankfully, we are not among those who have lost power though it did flicker a bit around 0300 this morning.

You can survive being out and about in incredible cold, even worse that what just hit a good bit of the United States. If you are prepared and have the right gear, it doesn’t suck too bad. In fact, I’ve had fun out doing things even with -45 wind chills and significant snow. I’m still amused that wolves love that type of weather, and will just curl up and let the snow build up on them — it’s insulation for one thing. Got a nasty look one time for daring disturb a wolf who was asleep and had more than a foot of snow on top of them.

Let’s start with some basics. First up, a trick I wish I had known decades ago. Moisturize your skin. Seriously. Not going to add a huge amount of protection, but it helps and it helps with healing after you have been out. Trust me, if you are out in below-zero conditions, your skin is going to take a hit almost no matter what.

Second, don’t sweat. If you are out and so active that you are starting to sweat, slow down. I had read about it before, but experiencing it is something else. You sweat, it builds up in your clothing (hopefully wicked away a bit), turns to ice, and you have to sweat more to deal with it… It’s a vicious cycle that can take it out of you. Avoid it at all costs.

Third, layer. The best way to go is multiple thin to moderate layers. Give yourself the ability to add additional layers at need, and to remove layers at need. The thermal underwear of my youth has been replaced by some really good stuff that works much, much better. Make sure your outer layers are as wind-proof as possible. Also, insulated boots, mittens, face coverings, and similar are fantastic. Doesn’t matter if you are wearing tanker goggles or ski goggles, protect your eyes. When the temps are low, you want zero exposed skin.

Four, hydrate. Believe it or not, more people dehydrate under cold weather conditions than hot. Personally, I drink water as well as hot teas, ginger drink, etc. You want the water as caffeine will dehydrate you, which is one reason I go for the ginger drinks and teas. Trader Joe’s has a very good ginger drink that is wonderful served hot on a cold day. Any will work, just be sure you stay hydrated.

Now, let’s look at being out and about. When I first moved up to Indiana, I asked around and got pointed to Rural King where I found not only wonderful (and relatively inexpensive) insulated farm boots, but fleece and flannel lined jeans that I love. Along with one or more layers of modern long-johns, coat(s), and gloves, you are good to go.

Two things in regards hands and feet. For your hands, look at exam gloves under everything. They do help. For both hands and feet, look at hand and toe warmers. For working outside in below-zero for 8-12 hours, you want them. In fact, I have been know to put one hand warmer on top of my hand and one below, as it helped heat the blood slightly as it went out into my fingers. Every little bit helps.

Also, layer. For my feet, I go thin sock, regular sock, and then boot sock even with insulated boots and the use of toe warmers. For gloves, it is exam, thin, moderate, then seasonal. I’ve even had to top that with snow mittens on occasion. I’m also able to take off layers at need to answer calls, type in info, scan items, etc.

If you are law enforcement, military, or other and have an undercover vest, boy howdy are those the thing for extreme cold weather. They are warm, block the wind, and protect the core from thermal as well as ballistic threats. Highly recommended even in a non-ballistic environment.

You can pay as much as you want for gear, but if you want things that work even as you do real work, go to places like Rural King, Tractor Supply, or similar as farmers have to be out 24/7 365. You will find great gear at great prices at such stores.

Another good reason to avoid bulkiness if a male is that you do need to be able to get it out to urinate. If you are having to drop layers to do so, you need to look at how you are layering.

When it comes to head gear, I do have one advantage over most people: I have a genuine Russian fur hat. During the sadly brief time it was safe for me to visit, I grabbed a good one though I missed out on excellent because I mis-translated the price/exchange rate. No ermine, sigh. That said, have a great hat that I can’t wear unless it is near zero or below. Don’t skimp on the head gear and protect the ears. Ears can freeze (not just get frostbite) faster than your fingers and toes.

Layer your head gear too. Skull cap, something nicer, and then pull up the hood of your coat/parka/whatever. Throw in goggles and a face mask, and you are good. Also, if things are really bad, I have a pair of bib/overalls that are designed for snow and cold weather. I also have a couple of good coats as well as a leather trench coat that is great for windy conditions.

Now, let’s look at indoor survival if the power goes out. We’ve been lucky so far with just some flickering but no outage (knock on wood). I’m going to tell a tale on a friend, to spark some ideas.

A few decades back, one of those 20-50-year winter storms hit the southern Appalachian mountains, and tested the preparedness of a friend and her then husband. Since one is not supposed to say much if you can’t say something nice, I will try not to mention him at all. My friend, we will call her Strawberry, was more than a touch experienced with survival. Really do need to sing her song one day soon, but for now know that among other things she had been a big game hunter and guide, as well as a deep sea fisherman.

Well, this storm hit and it was a doozy. Power went out early, which wasn’t surprising given how remote she was. The home she had was not the best insulated and weather-tight, to be polite. Pro Tip: the more weather tight and energy efficient your home is, the better.

Thankfully, if I remember correctly, the stove was pre-safety-nazi/officious bureaucrat so they could light and run it at need. They also had a fireplace. Fire 24/7 for heat and some cooking, stove at need for cooking. Given how long power was out, the freezer was an issue until it was realized they could just open the door and it was so cold that everything re-froze. They could only open the refrigerator door for a set time, then had to close it so nothing did freeze.

Pro-tip: If you don’t open the door, a freezer can stay frozen for up to 48 hours with power off. A refrigerator will be good for 4-8 hours (maybe more). If you aren’t in an open-the-door situation, put the items in each into a cooler and put the coolers outside, porch or similar being preferable. Problem solved. I do recommend, strongly, NSF-grade thermometers for each. I also do the container/coin thing in my freezer as a backup. Watch your temps and act accordingly. Had some friends in Huntsville do this a few years back, and putting everything in a cooler on the balcony was just the ticket. In fact, he started keeping his beer out there all winter.

i shouldn’t laugh, but the most comical part of the incident was the death of Rocky the Flying Squirrel. Strawberry had a flying squirrel get in somehow, and it homed in on the toilet to get a drink. Porcelain is slick even without ice, and poor Rocky fell in. Sadly, he froze to death trying to climb back out of the toilet. Poor Strawberry had to get his frozen corpse out of the toilet, and he was sent out into the woods for a funeral.

For most people, the key is to pick a room and fort up. If you have a fireplace, that’s the room. If you have a kerosene or other heater, set it up (along with a CO detector) in your fort. Everyone into that room to maximize bodily warmth. If you have an alternate means of cooking (camp stove, etc.) set it up in there. Good time to use candles and such instead of battery lights as the candles will give off heat.

Forget beds, use sleeping bags and look at people sleeping together. Mommy and Daddy can share a bag, though caution is advised so that the family doesn’t increase in size in about nine months. Kids can share too within reason. Long johns are a good idea, and always put on dry socks before going to bed in situations like this. Add in all the blankets you have, and you can stay fairly snug and warm even in weather like this.

If the water goes out with the power, this is also a good time to teach the kids about yellow is mellow and how to be sure anything else goes down. Good way to test your preparedness levels all around. UPDATE: If the power is out and you do have water, DRIP YOUR FAUCETS! Keep that water moving so that the pipes don’t freeze. I’m dripping my shower right now because the pipes have to go down the outside wall, and that wall is cold!

For me right now, we have power though I have broken out the chef’s stove. Not sharing my mulled wine, so heating it in my room. The candles are ready, and I’m good to go. Hopefully, this has given you a few ideas on how to deal with the cold and the unexpected.

If there is something you would like me to expand upon, let me know. Meantime, be safe, be good, and may your day be filled with warmth internal if not external.

Weather Incoming

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving to the SW, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Cheerfully stolen from Twitter

As I noted earlier this week, we have a severe winter storm approaching. It is accompanied by several sides of hype (bomb, cyclone, historic) but if it doesn’t fizzle it is going to be an interesting few days. As in we are supposed to go today from near 40 to -8 in just a few hours.

The reason I think there is any chance of a fizzle is because of our dear mayor, Boss Hogsbreath (aka Photo-op Joe), who apparently has called it historic. Given his accuracy and track record with such pronouncements, there should now be a line in Vegas for betting that it turns into a bad rainstorm.

Meantime, I’m as prepared as I can be. I admit, if more money suddenly appeared in my account, or someone called the Total Wine and More up on the north side of Indianapolis and arranged a gift certificate, I would go out so long as I could be home by about noon. Really don’t see it getting bad before about 1500, but driving and traffic are both already atrocious and getting worse. Besides, want to see if I can talk the landlord into letting me salt the entire driveway after the rain stops so as to prevent icing.

Fantasy aside, my plans for the day include cooking my Christmas entree in case we do have power issues, and maybe doing some almond flour shortbread. Entree is a play off some rabbit I had in France years back, which was amazing. It was flattened and wrapped around a minced mushroom concoction that was absolutely delicious. No rabbit, so going to flatten some chicken and do the same thing with some truffled mushroom mix I found. Put it in a pan, crust with pesto, and put in a bit of a very nice pinot grigio, and bake. The pinot grigio is one I found for about $5 at Aldi. Same one as Thanksgiving, and remember: if you would not drink a wine, you don’t want to cook with it. Going to serve it over mash, know I should have a green of some type, but just couldn’t come up with anything I really wanted. Going to have a proper English Christmas pudding for desert. Not sure it qualifies as a figgy pudding, but it should be tasty. No, not on the diet, but don’t care.

Which reminds me, there was no posting yesterday as I went and did my shopping early. I really expect it to be horrible today, and it was not fun yesterday. Had to hit more stores than planned even on my reduced list given some of the things that were not in stock. Oddly, hardest thing to get was some star anise, which I only found at my (least favorite) Indian grocery. I went early, thank goodness, as it was picking up quite a bit after noon. By the time I hit my FI/broke point, I was probably twitching like Inspector Clouseau’s boss in the movies. Don’t like crowds at the best of times (esp. after Iraq), and rude crowds are not a delight. Things were getting rude there towards the end.

Did I get everything I wanted or needed? No, but I got enough to get by for several days at need. I have coffee, and thanks to a very kind person I have some Sambuca to go in that coffee on Christmas morning (or tomorrow morning if the power goes out overnight). The last bottle of red wine in the cellar is earmarked for mulling at some point this weekend. BTW, you want a fruity red to mull, not a dry red. Easy to do: 1T whole clove, 2 star anise, 2 cinnamon sticks, 2-4 oz brandy, orange peel, and about 1T of raw honey (to taste). DO NOT BOIL! Heat gently until steaming and don’t let it get past that point.

If I haven’t said it before, do take advantage of various store frequent customer programs. The one for The Fresh Market has been really good at lowering my bill with both discounts and various certificates. Next time I buy coffee, going to get it for almost half off. Yes, they can get a lot of info from you, but you can set limits. Also, rules can say what they want, but there is no law requiring information to be accurate or precise. I usually decline to answer a number of (so-called optional) questions and if not allowed to decline, well, if some store thinks I am really a 101-year-old lesbian who makes $500,000 a year, well, that’s their problem.

Depending on how energetic I feel, I may go ahead and put up some aluminum foil in strategic locations. My room has a decorative fireplace (really hope no one ever tried to use it because even before it was closed off it would have killed everyone in the house) that I’m lining so the multiple pillar candles in the holder in it can really get some light out. Otherwise, not much to do to prepare.

Have told the housemate that if he does go into work tonight (good odds they may close anyway), that I will loan him one of my assault rucks provided he puts blankets, extra clothing, food, and water in it as his drive is interesting. Not sure going into work would be bad, but thinking getting home tomorrow morning could be more than a little interesting. Have warned him about sweating in severe cold.

Speaking of which, would there be any interest in a post on cold-weather emergencies and survival? Just some high points, because provided you are dressed properly, you can work in some dangerously low temperatures. Been there, done that, -45 wind chills and all. Really do need to share the story of some friends who had to open the freezer up so things in it would stay frozen, and close the refrigerator periodically to keep the contents from freezing.

Sorry for the ramble, but I didn’t plot things out this morning. Just decided to wing it. If you are in the path of this storm, be prepared. If not, be glad. Be safe and take care of yourselves and those you love as we approach Christmas. May the stress and worst of the season avoid you, and you avoid it.

Bleep The RLF!

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving to the SW, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Back, sorta. Even with the new fiber optic modem, we’ve been having some issues with bandwidth and service. On Saturday, the problems increased and by Sunday morning we had no service at all. I’m able to do a bit by cell phone, but not a lot. Really need to set up at least some emergency posting on the site from the phone…

Yesterday, we had two different technicians out, and found out we were not the only people in the area who lost our fiber optic service. The culprits are well known to the company: the Rodent Liberation Front. Turns out that their shock troops, the squirrels, are well known to the company to be active in this area with the chewing of cables and terminals. On the latter, they chew or claw enough for water to get it, which then freezes, which takes out multiple households.

It was interesting watching the second technician back a bucket truck down the driveway (old and narrow) to get to the terminal, but he did it. Things are fixed, and it is nice to have full bandwidth back.

Posting may still be lite this week for a couple of reasons. First, the body and I have been having a series of disagreements. Part is weather, which is locking me up and making me very unhappy about the incoming winter storm. In fact, I’m having to change my plans and schedule in regards grocery shopping as my planned foray may not be able to take place. The other I’m not sure about but boy howdy has my body been cranky with me. Not a fun time at all.

Second, between the body being cranky and and some unexpecteds, I may be offline a bit. I really don’t have much family left, but will be reaching out to several and some friends over the next few days. If you have friends and family, do reach out. Remember, Christmas is a rough time of year for many, check in, check up, and reach out!

Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the RLF waited until the storm hit to send out a suicide squirrel to take out power to as many as possible. Be just their style.

Meantime, stock up and prepare, as it looks like winter weather is going to hit a large part of the U.S. here shortly. Be safe, be good, and survive with style no matter what the weather or the RLF try to do.

UPDATE: I saw something somewhere from someone letting me know my RSS feed may have issues. Thanks for letting me know, and I will be looking into that.

More soon.

The Reason Behind

The lite posting of late.

Back in September, I reluctantly made the decision to both apply for disability and to take early retirement. Theoretically you can do both at the same time. Sadly, theory rarely seems to work with the SSA. Once disability is filed, you lose the ability to file online for retirement, or do some other things apparently. Which means you have to go into a SSA office or work over the phone. However, they are still in full COVID mode and many offices are closed or appointment only, with a number of hurdles in place to get one.

I’ve been told multiple times now that nothing can be done in the office, it all has to be by phone, and the wait time for a phone appointment is now about three months. So, something that should have taken 15 minutes has dragged out since September. Thursday was supposed to be the day, and I sat ready on my end as the time came and went. Called Friday morning, finally got a person, and was told that when the office called my number, they were told can’t be completed as dialed.

Was advised to go to the downtown office and ask for the manager. Went to downtown office, and after an hour got sent to a window. Nonce on the other side grandly informed me that I should be glad a bureaucrat deigned to talk to me, and that waiting until Feb was a privilege and I should shut up and accept it. When I asked to speak to a manager per the instructions from the SSA person on the phone, boy did it get huffy. How dare I! I dared, and he (?) flounced off after grandly telling me they didn’t have managers, just supervisors.

I was also advised it would do no good and might make things worse. Go for it Scooter. After a while, he flounced back to his chair and grandly informed me to go to a certain spot where the supervisor would put me in my place in the fullness of time. Took a while, but supervisor came and was a nice, polite, and helpful person. We talked, he listened, and net result is that some things are getting corrected, he’s reaching out to the office that needs to be involved, and will be keeping me in the loop.

We tested my number, and for some reason they can’t call it. So, he has my email and such and will get me one way or another at need. I should be hearing from the people I need to hear from next week. If he does what he says, some or all of this could be resolved next week. We will see. Right now, still not a lot of faith but if he does what he says he will, I will have to admit that there is at least one good man in the SSA. That, and it pays to be a Karen and ask for the manager. Hopefully, this isn’t going to drag out into Feb. and Mar.

So, several hours of my time, $10 in parking (out of the grocery budget), and that is why I had a drink yesterday.

Lite Today

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving to the SW, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Have several appointments today, so posting may be a bit lite. Mostly non-medical, which is a nice change.

As for the ICBM the Russians put in a silo that seems to have a number of media panties in knots, don’t let yours join them. May do a fuller discussion tomorrow, but for now don’t see it as anything other than Vladimir tweaking noses.

If you are in one of the many areas experiencing, or getting ready to experience, winter or interesting weather, hope you are prepared and ready for it. Forget milk and bread, think bourbon and beef. Steaks, or a good beef stew, along with some wine or other spirits, that’s called surviving in style.

More soon.