Archive for the ‘The Voyages of the USS Quelle Surprise’ Category

Oops! Distracted by something shiny…

December 7, 2008

So there I was, blogging and blethering around here on WordPress, checking out Carocat’s blog; and she was talking about taking part in National Novel Writing Month (aka “NaNoWriMo”), and so I cruised over to their website….and that was the pebble that started the landslide.

The deal with NaNoWriMo is that you start fresh on Nov. 1, and try to write 50,000 words of a new novel by November 30. If you succeed, you get 1) bragging rights, b) a PDF-file certificate suitable for printing, & the right to display a banner similar to this one: 

I Won! I Won! I Won!

I Won! I Won! I Won!

and iii) a 50,000-word draft of that novel you’ve been meaning to get around to writing one of these days. 

Well, I had been meaning to write a novel one of these days – well, about five novels I’ve been meaning to write – so I picked one* and jumped into NaNoWriMo feet-first, and before I knew it the waters had closed over my head.

(*A synopsis and excerpt await your perusal at my page on the NaNoWriMo site.)

I did make 50,0o0 words, and it feels darned good to have accomplished so much; but it was a tough slog and took a lot out of me, and led to my neglecting  this blog terribly.

If anyone asks, it’s all Carocat’s fault. :)

– the prodigal Evelyn

Wheeee!!! I’m freeee…..

October 7, 2008

[exuberant singsong]
I got my bills paid! :) :) :)
I got my bills paid! :) :) :)

I’m free of bill-paying for another 30 (well, 24, if I were going to be more prompt about it next month) days – wheeeeeee!!!

It’s not the money (well, sometimes it’s the money, but that’s a separate issue, and fortunately a more-or-less manageable one for now), it’s the physical act of paying the bills.

I just don’t wanna.

I really, really, really don’t want to do it.

Every month, it’s a monumental struggle to make myself gather up all the mail from wherever it’s dispersed itself to (this time was particularly bad), (open that mail), balance my checkbook, sort out which bills are from where and how much they’re for, w-r-i-t-e (this is the really hard part)  o-u-t (I have to force myself to just get it done)  t-h-e (it’s like pulling teeth)  c-h-e-c-k-s,  get the checks and payment coupons all into the correct envelopes with all the addresses showing properly in all the little windows, get stamps and return addresses onto them, and get them into the mailbox.

(I’m trying to make it easier on myself: out of the nine bills I have to pay each month, one is already automatically deducted from my checking account, three are currently being changed over to being automatically deducted last month,  and one I’ll try to get changed over this month. That leaves four that won’t work with auto-deduct for one reason or another, but four is less than half of nine . :)

And now I’m done with all that for the time being: I can feel the weight falling off my shoulders, the millstone and the albatross both lifting from around my neck, the clench relaxing away from my teeth…. …oh, boy.

I think I’m going to go whirl around the room in ecstatic euphoria for a moment, and then collapse into a great big detensioned heap.

Toilet Paper and the Credit Crunch

October 6, 2008
Don't Panic! 

 

Don't Panic!

Way back in the last century, in the late 1970’s, the US wasn’t doing so well.  The USSR was being ornery, OPEC was being tetchy, and that whole Vietnam thing hadn’t worked out quite like we’d hoped. The economy was troubled, too: jobs were scarce, prices were high, and inflation was ridiculous.

So then-President Jimmy Carter instituted a (wildly unpopular) series of price freezes on consumer goods. Now what happens if you hold the price of something artificially low? Sellers don’t want to sell, so they hold back as much as they can, limiting supply. Buyers do want to buy, though, and shortages are readily created.

And, if you hear that a price control is about to be put on something like bread, which means there might be a shortage, you might run out and buy a couple loaves – and if I do that, too, and that guy over there buys a couple loaves, and so do a couple hundred thousand of our closest friends – and lo and behold, now there is a bread shortage.

And what with people’s tendency to behave according to the laws of human nature, people reacted to the possibility of shortages by stocking up on whatever they thought there might be a shortage of, which only made any shortage that much worse.

Now, if stocking up on something is considered a wise and prudent thing to do, it’s called “stocking up.” If it’s considered a greedy and selfish thing to do, it’s called “hoarding.” President Carter and various other politicians, newsmen (they were almost all men in those days), and celebrities made announcements condemning hoarding; and assuring us that, if everybody just stayed calm, everything was going to be all right.

(As  words to the effect of “just stay calm and everything will be all right” were invariably the first piece of government-sanctioned advice regarding what to do in case of a massive nuclear attack (such an attack was considered a very real and uncomfortably immediate possibility), some people found that last part less soothing than was presumably intended.)

Now things were so primitive back then that, as our pet  dinosaurs curled up beside us on the bearskin sofas in the living room areas of our caves, we only had three (only 3!) channels to watch on our knapped-flint TV sets. But if it was 11:35 on a weeknight, that didn’t matter, because everybody was watching the same channel anyway. Johnny Carson didn’t quite invent late-night TV (or even “The Tonight Show”), but (begging the pardons of his predecessors, Steve Allen and Jack Paar) he might as well have.

So everybody who wasn’t already asleep was watching Johnny’s opening monologue when he made a joke about reported of toilet paper shortages, primly admonishing the audience not to hoard this vital commodity. (I happened to be watching, and I remember dismissing it as cheap bathroom humor and hoping that his next joke would be funny.)

And the next day, grocery stores across the nation were sold out of toilet paper, some well before noon. (The first thing on “The Tonight Show” that night was Johnny explaining that it had just been a silly  joke, and encouraging the American people to refrain from buying toilet paper unless they really, really, needed it.)

But it was, for me at least, an object lesson in self-fulfilling prophecy and the power of a single influential individual or idea. Johnny said there was a toilet paper shortage – et voila! – there was a toilet paper shortage.

I mention all this now because I think may partly explain the current global economic whatever-it-is. (Is it just me, or does “Credit Crunch” sounds like what financiers have as breakfast cereal?) One bank heard, rightly or wrongly, that some of the other banks weren’t going to be lending any money, so they stopped lending money. Then, once the other banks heard about that, they did stop lending money. Those banks that had been counting on borrowing a bunch of money, as they routinely did to cover some routine transaction or other, got caught with their coffers empty and went bankrupt. Any banks that had lent the bankrupt ones any money now weren’t going to be getting it back, causing some of them to go bankrupt, and all of them to be that much more unwilling to lend anyone any money.

Now, one thing I don’t understand about this is why everybody, not just banks but almost every business of any size, needs all this credit all the time – why can’t they just use their own damned money instead of incessantly borrowing from Peter to pay Paul? – but apparently they do. (Maybe it acts as the grease that lets the metaphoric wheels of finance and industry turn?)

But I understand that President Bush has just released a statement saying that, as long as everybody just stays calm, everything is going to be all right.

Wildy Ambiguous Old Great-Auntie Evelyn

September 26, 2008

Yesterday, I became a Great-Aunt. GreatNevvie was born at 3:30 this afternoon to my 17-yo YoungerNevvie and his 16-yo girlfriend. Mother and baby are both healthy and doing fine –

– and old Great-Auntie Ev is feeling very much ambiguous.

click here for further ambiguity