holiday eccentricities

Even though my BMW wasn't repaired in time for December 25, the holidays turned out to be considerably better than expected. 

I met Daniel* earlier in the week as I had done his charitable shopping for him. When I brought him his angel tree gift, he surprised me with two gift cards worth $100. One for my birthday and one for Christmas. For a few seconds I felt rather bad as I hadn't bought him anything, but then I found myself extremely amused: an ex-boyfriend had spent more on me than the current models.

For the first time in three years, Ian* bought me some flowers. He had even asked me what sort of lingerie I'd like, but I told him I was abstaining from new lingerie purchases until I lost a little weight. The flowers were/are quite pretty.

Rachel* bought me a Frank Lloyd Wright calendar she had noticed me coveting at a book store. 

After a dinner at Buzzbrews Christmas Eve, Rachel noticed a lonely Fraser fir standing outside the local garden center with a FREE sign on it. So of course we snagged it. Now all I have to do is to find some ornaments for it.

We even managed a Christmas dinner that we all decided was much better than the usual turkey and stuffing drill. Since Rachel was driving Deepa (another friend, more about her later) to the airport, Deepa insisted we stop at a vegetarian Indian restaurant, Saravanaa Bhavan, a few miles from the airport. I confess I stuffed myself with pirotta and biryani. Even the madras/chicory coffee was superb. 

* See The Usual Suspects


who's naughty, who's nice

Not everything about the infamous Ashley Madison hack was negative. Some researchers decided to take a look at the users and come up with a typical AshMad user - here's the abstract:

Ashley Madison(.com) has earned several million dollars facilitating extramarital affairs online; however, the market determinants of online infidelity matchmaking have not been researched. The now-infamous customer data breach in 2015 provided a unique opportunity to analyze a large population of individuals (N=702,309) who paid to engage in extramarital affairs using Ashley Madison. Aggregating this sensitive data into spatial units, we measured the relationship between several theorized market determinants and Ashley Madison subscription and spending rates in major United States markets.

We found income is the leading market determinant for internet-facilitated infidelity, indicating the service behaves as a luxury good; further, several characteristics related to infidelity at the individual-level were also significant, including the negative relationship between religiosity and infidelity. Strong regression model performance suggests these results are robust insights into the market for online infidelity-matchmaking.

My only problem is that, since the site has so many more male members (pardon the pun) than women, the research only looks at the men. Clicky here to read the entire article. 


holiday gifting frustration

I generally don't make a big deal out of the holidays. There are some things I like about it: hearing from distant friends, eggnog latte, lots of slack time at work. The one thing that causes some uncertainty at times is the habit of exchanging gifts.

I sorted this out with Ian* years ago. He doesn't like the Christmas holidays, as when he was four, his parents disappeared on a four-day bender in mid-December. His grandmother found him eating berries in the back yard. He ended up with Child Protective Services and then to an awful foster home. So he doesn't like to do anything that reminds him of Christmas, and I haven't any problem going along with this. (He always remembers my birthday as well.)

Gift stuff for the immediate family is pretty easy as we don't spend a lot. I admit I still overspend on the nieces, but am unapologetic. And at least one brother usually remembers my birthday. 

Things get complicated in the office.  I don't give out cards or little gifts, but others do. So I try to compromise by bringing in food to share. 

Obviously I can't buy anything of substance for The Cub*. I was hoping to buy him dinner but his latest visit didn't allow for this. He came up for a visit two days ago and is headed home today.

Yesterday I mentioned that the 22nd was my birthday (I wanted to take the day off but too much fuss is being made at work). His reaction was to give me $60 so I could have my nails done. He also mentioned it was for "my birthday and Christmas". This grated when I was a child, and hearing it again after decades reminded me of this. But how was he to know?

I found myself not knowing how to respond. Yes, I was being hopelessly bourgeois, but the truth is that I had hoped he had picked out a small and inexpensive token of affection to present to me. I thanked him and decided not to violate the Illicit Relationship Paradigm.

But last night he began showing me some nice Finley shirts online and I began to wonder if he was going to perhaps buy me one, even though I'm 99% sure he was planning to buy one for his wife, not me. 

Perhaps I should concentrate on other things for a while.

* See The Usual Suspects at right.


a historical junking find

Last Sunday I went by to visit Rachel and other cat ladies at the Sunday adoption venue. We don't market these like we should, but then I've been able to update our Petfinder and other listings online, so that's helped the feline exodus.

The pet store is next to a large, smelly junk shop. It rarely has anything I want to buy, and is full of elderly, moth-eaten taxidermied creatures that creep me out. But sometimes I spot something interesting, like this picture.

Here's a close-up of the signature:

It took me a while to figure out the names, especially Sec. Miller as I initially thought this said Sue Miller. And was that Billy or Betty Wells? I put it on my Facebook page and a collective-obsessive friend promptly identified the artist and the subject.

The artist was/is Betty Wells, a well-known courtroom artist. I nosed around and found a book of her art at  

The Sec. Miller was/is a former Secretary of the Treasury, G. William Miller.

I still haven't had time to figure out why he's been drawn as being awakened by a phone call. I'll post if I do.


new debt, new temptation

Recently I realized I'd heard nothing from the hospital where Ian* had taken me during my awful vertigo attack. Since it had been several weeks, I was beginning to wonder if they'd lost my paperwork. But my insurance company sent me a bill earlier this week, so now I'm thinking the delay was because they were concocting a multi-page, itemized bill.  

Even with my insurance picking up 100% of some items, I still owe various bills that add up to just $1,100. Waah.

What really pissed me off, though, is after a three year absence, Agent Provocateur brought back the Whitney style I'd lusted after - only after they discontinued it. I never buy their stuff as it's overpriced, not that well-made, and only for skinny girls. But I really liked this style. Different, edgy, and with more than a bit of kink gene thrown in.

An email announcing the return of the Whitney collection arrived in my email yesterday. I'm not even going to look at the prices.


 * See The Usual Suspects.