Two madmen, and two dreams

When I came home, the water was running in the kitchen sink, full blast, but the kitchen was empty. The sink was empty, too, except for a single plate and fork.

Cranky Old Fart

Oct. 18, 2022
My baseline assumption is that my flatmates are grownups, so I ignored it. There are plausible reasons a person might turn the faucet on and leave the kitchen, so I walked past the sink and into my bedroom, and closed the door.

When I came out of my room an hour later, the faucet was still going, full blast. Still nobody around, and it was hot water running. I was surprised that the hot water could run for an hour without running out of hot water, but since I was about to take a shower and wanted some hot water myself, I turned the faucet off.

Undoubtedly it was Dean who'd left the sink running. A pound of raw hamburger was on the counter, forgotten, and that's the proof. Robert never cooks anything but potatoes, and L never cooks at all. It had to be Dean.

If I was a nice guy, a caring neighbor, maybe I'd mention it to him next time I see him. Next time I see him, though, like every time I see him, he's going to want to talk to me for longer than I want to be talked at. Anything I say would be an encouragement for longer talk-time from Dean, so I'm not saying anything to him about it.

Ranting madman at the transit center: "It's a butcher, man. A butcher! Do you know what a butcher does to you? It haunts me. It scares me. It ought to scare you too, man."

He'd been quiet before he started to rant. After he'd said what he said, he repeated the above several times, loudly, with only slight variations. The way he spoke, it sounded like he was talking to someone, but there was no-one nearby. And then he was quiet again, and finally he walked away.

Ranting madmen are why so many people are afraid to ride public transit. It's understandably scary. I know what the solution is, but I've said it before and won't bore you with it today.

Most people just want to have such ranting madmen arrested, as if that solves the problem, but it only solves the symptom. There'll be a different ranting madman in an hour.

Arrest him too, and there'll be another. The American way — bootstrap yourself, constantly cut aid programs and make sure they're difficult to access — manufactures ranting madmen.

This must be said, though: My whole long life, I've frequently gone where I'm going on public transit. For many years, I didn't even have a car. In thousands of bus, train, streetcar, trolley, subway, and cable car rides, only twice has any ranting madman physically assaulted me.

Once it was while we were riding a bus, and once while I was waiting at a bus stop. Both times I fought back, of course, with nothing but fists, and I'm a complete weakling. Me throwing a punch is a joke, not a fight, but both times I held my own and wasn't injured. 

From this I conclude, scientifically, that most ranting madmen, and most homeless people, are wimps, and nothing to be afraid of.

I was going to San Francisco's famous cleaners at the top of the hill, and as everyone knows, the hill is steep, so they've installed moving stairs for the foot traffic. It's not an escalator, but stairs that you stand on, push a button with your foot, the step rises a yard or so, and then you step onto the next step, push that step's button with your toe, and that step rises by a yard or so. With a few hundred rising steps, eventually you get to the top of the hill.

There was a long line of people carrying their laundry to the cleaner, so we were all going up by just one step at a time. I'd been in line for ten minutes, riding up one step at a time, and then finally when I'd reached the top of the hill and the door to the cleaners, some guy inside hung a 'closed' sign on the door. 

That wasn't even frustrating, though. I was the only person on all the stairs who didn't have a sack of laundry with me, because I've never gone to a cleaner in my life. I'm a coin-op laundromat guy. 

I was only on the hill to ride the cool moving stairs, and then cross the street to ride down the hill on the six block-long slides going down. You slide down one block at a time, then cross the street and slide down the next slide. It's not quite as cool as the moving steps going up, but still pretty cool.

Oh man, sometimes I miss San Francisco. It's a city of hills, but none are as steep as the hill in my dream, and none of them have moving stairs going up or a slide going down.

Cool dream, though. Thanks, mugwort pillow.

Another dream from last night: At work, we'd completed some long-term project, so the company bought a case of champagne and bubbly was flowing in the office, like in the locker room when a ball club wins the pennant.

I was in my normal cubicle, the seat I always try for in any office, way at the back of the room. I prefer the distance, but this time it was working against me — everyone was pouring themselves champagne, and by the time a bottle was passed all the way to me in the back, it was empty. Next bottle, too. Every bottle worked its way through the office toward me, but every bottle was empty when it reached me.

The idea of getting up and getting myself a plastic glass of champagne never occurred to me in the dream, and I woke up thirsty. Thanks again, mugwort pillow.

68-year-old school board member gets 30 days in jail for dropping four legal ballots into drop-off bin 

If you click just one link on this page, this is the link to click.

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Rent too damn high? Blame YieldStar, a secret algorithm from housing hell 

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Café in England charges different prices, depending on how rude or polite a customer is  

One-word newscast, because it's the same news every time...

Climate change isn't 'coming', it's underway. It'll kill billions, and we're not doing squat about it.

All cops are bastards, or they know who the bastard cops are and do nothing about it, which is the same thing.

Republicans are the enemy of common sense, common decency, simple truth, and democracy.

Where in the world was Anthony Bourdain? 

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The wisdom of Mark Borchardt 

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The miracle of 1511 

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London beer floor 

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Mystery links
"Like life itself, there's no knowing where you're going"

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The End

Frank Drake
Nikki Finke
Bruce Sutter
Jeanne Terry


Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.
Tip 'o the hat to Linden Arden, ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, Captain Hampockets, CaptCreate's Log, John the Basket, LiarTownUSA, Meme City, National Zero, Ran Prieur, Voenix Rising, and anyone else whose work I've stolen without saying thanks.
Extra special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S, Wynn Bruce, and always Stephanie...


  1. Just buy a 50-foot length of garden hose. Every time Dean leaves the water running, attach one end of the hose to the faucet, and slip the other end under his door.

    1. The guy obviously has incipient dementia. Endless conversations and short-term memory loss are the first two symptoms. I've been around dementia too much, and it only gets worse. So far, he's playing with water, not fire, but people get hurt when dementia patients start doing the latter.

      You're moving soon anyway, right Doug? Might want to speed that along. You can't help him. There are less than 10% of the memory care facilities we need, and the only ones that are being built now are "high end". So if you're rich and have dementia, you're covered, although you won't remember.


    2. I'd never heard of nonstop talking as a symptom of dementia, and lots of nonstop talkers have their wits about them, but yeah, I am seeing more and more evidence that Dean has dementia.

      Still, since he went back to work, I'm liking the dumpy old house more, and in no rush to move. I'll relocate if I get a job that's an inconvenient bus commute, but I might be here for years if there's good bus luck.

      Believe it or not, he's *less* annoying than when I moved in.

      And I've only found the water running.... uh, three times, I think. More often it's the burners roaring on the stove.

  2. Doug, thanks for the Frank Drake memorial link. Dr. Drake jotted down the basic Drake Equation in less than an hour (it was subsequently expanded at the conference for which he was creating it) and it changed the way we think about ourselves in the context of the cosmos. He made other important contributions to astrophysics, particularly about solar planetary properties. But it is the equation which bears his name for which he will be remembered as long as humans remain curious; right now, that looks like a couple of months, but he did the best he could.


    1. We were just discussing dementia elsewhere, and there I go, giving Frank Drake a second obituary. It's us talking about it that reminded me, I ran an obit on Sir Frank a few weeks ago, too.

      He deserves two, I reckon. He's one of my favorite heavy thinkers.

    2. Hell, I must have read it and I forgot it entirely. We could start a club, buy nobody would remember where the meetings were or when or, when it comes right down to it, why the hell we were meeting in the first place. Dementia is not a subject to joke about -- the problem is nobody's ever found a better way to discuss it.

      I just finished two autobiographies/biographies (it's complicated) by/about Richard Feynman, my favorite physicist. He didn't figure out why the Challenger exploded: that was Sally Ride and a few brave NASA engineers. But he figured out how to explain it to the American people on national TV. Feynman was the best explainer I ever heard or read. So astrophysics and SETI have been on my mind, and I guess I was ready for Frank Drake.

      Feynman died too young in 1988, so I guess it's almost time for your site to announce his departure.

      People who challenge us to think, and to think more clearly, are heroes in my book. I just haven't written my book yet.


    3. >I ran an obit on Sir Frank a few weeks ago, too.

      The man deserved two obits: one for his designs of the Pioneer plaques, the Voyager Golden Record, and the Arecibo message, which will one day separately or together provide intelligent creatures from far away a roadmap to the third stone from the Sun, an overheated, lifeless sphere (they can decide whether it was murder or suicide); and one for the Drake equation.

      Talk about a mind that saw the Big Picture.


    4. As for "Sir Frank", Drake would have been ineligible for a British knighthood being an American, but I believe Princess Ozma knighted Dr. Drake as a result of his lifelong search for intelligence in space and on Earth.


    5. My granny had dementia. No laughing matter indeed, but we laughed about it. She was nuts before, and even nuttier during, then dead after. Gotta laugh at stuff like that.

      Feynman did physics good. Hella better explainer than that guy in the wheelchair. Uh, Hawking (sorry, had to google wheelchair physicist) I read one of his books and came away dumber.

      My very favorite physicist would be Brian May, but only because who doesn't love Queen?

    6. Right, or, put another way, who doesn't admire a man of 60 with all the money in the world going back and getting a doctorate, not an easy thing to do, and making astronomy accessible to his many fans?

      And I always felt slightly guilty liking Queen, but those guys could rock.

      If you're into astronomy at all, it's worth following Brian. He looks so much like Isaac Newton it's kinda scary, but he's much more charming and a little funnier.


    7. No such thing as guilty pleasures, only pleasures. Queen is a pleasure.

      Am I interested in astronomy? Not really, but I like smart people, and you're right, his website looks interesting. I've added it to my regular surf cycle.

  3. Song of the Week --

    I Put a Spell On You by Screamin' Jay Hawkins

    A talented singer with a four or five octave range and a trained voice ends up performing his most famous song (he is the songwriter here) from a casket (it cost him $850 in 1957). This performance is transitional, after he got rid of the casket, but before he was performing without any props. It's a lovely song, and Jay (short for Jalacy) is somewhat restrained, but still gets the audience's attention.



    1. "Somewhat restrained," indeed. Maybe for him.

      And here's another coincidence. For the last five hours or so I've been watching Stranger than Paradise, which features this song prominently.

      The song is sort of insane, disturbing, and his persona was also insane, disturbed. Always sorta wondered whether he was really nuts or only on stage.

      Frickin' awesome song.

    2. He wrote the song after a girlfriend dumped him. It was a straight blues number, which he recorded -- but nobody would buy it. Then about 15 people recorded it and managed to sell a few records. He was just about starving and, out of desperation, used his operatic voice and a few props to get people's attention when he performed it. He rented a casket and emerged on stage singing the song. The audience loved it, but the National Association of Funeral Directors thought it was in bad taste and wouldn't rent him a casket anymore. That's when he bought one and started the bizarre performances. He always said he just wanted to be a normal singer, but, like 99% of people who try to make a living in showbiz, it just didn't work out.

      I know these things because I've also been reading "Unsung Heroes of Rock 'n' Roll" by Nick Tosches. I'll write a comment about the book soon. It should be on the virtual bookshelf of anybody roughly our age.


    3. As usual, I did not know any of that, and now I do. Listening to some other Hawkins songs now, and looking forward to a book review.

      SJH was a one-hit wonder, I guess, but he deserved more.


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