Haunted houses, bureaucracy, and a Dem debate open thread

My time got eaten up by haunted nights and bureaucratic days. In the meantime, can I offer you a nice place to talk about tonight’s Democrat debate?

Today was going to be a great blogging day. I went to bed before 1 a.m. and planned to get up early. I had a couple of errands to run but otherwise, it was going to be a reading and writing day. So what’s that Yiddish expression? Der mentsh trakht un Got lakht. (Man plans and God laughs.) God laughed at me today.

An hour after I went to sleep, three things happened in quick succession: the front doorbell rang twice, my beloved touchless stationary vacuum suddenly started roaring, and the alarm system, which I hadn’t set, began to beep. Yikes! A careful search of the house from top to bottom revealed . . . nothing. The doors were still locked, the windows still closed and intact, the rooms and closets empty. There was no intruder in the house.

The only explanations I could come up with were that a rogue current had triggered those three things (doorbell, vacuum, and alarm) or that the house is haunted. I’m ruling out the first explanation on Thursday when an electrician comes. And no, I didn’t call the electrician just for my nighttime panic. I have some lights that don’t work, so it’s a multipurpose visit.

One of the things I’ve realized about myself is that I have a very specific form of paranoia. I don’t think Martians or government agencies are spying on me or anything like that. Instead, perhaps because my parents survived two wars and never had much money to speak of, my paranoia is the assumption that it’s a dangerous world out there. A lot of my efforts in life involve blunting the possibility of danger. I’m all about washing my hands, wearing seatbelts, locking doors, throwing foods away on their expiration dates, learning self-defense, sleeping with a cane or bat by my bed, etc., although I seem to be more obsessive about these things than other people.

The point of my little digression into paranoia is that, when things do portend danger, as was the case last night, my adrenalin goes crazy and then it stays crazy for a while. For that reason, I didn’t fall asleep until 5 a.m., when my system finally concluded that, if someone was hiding under a carpet or behind a painting, that person had probably gotten bored and gone home. I then dozed until 11 a.m., which put paid to my dream of an early and efficient day.

In the afternoon, I ran my errands. The plan was to go to the South Carolina DMV to get a new driver’s license and register my car. The reality was a 45-minute wait in a DMV line, only to learn that, while I could get my license, I needed to go to the county assessor to pay a tax on my car before I could register it. This is why no one likes dealing with bureaucracies.

Having said that, the DMV I went to was, for a government agency, a model of efficiency and everyone was friendly. After a lifetime dealing with DMVs in California, a 45-minute stint with smiling people was sooooo much nicer than 3 hours with grim bureaucrats. It was a reminder, though, that the less time we spend dealing with the government the better.

The county assessor’s office was also really nice — a clean facility, short lines, friendly people. Except that I had to stand in three separate short lines, taking papers and money from one window to another. Having paid my tax, I now need to go back to the DMV (long lines) to register my car.

Again, all of this was more pleasantly handled than in California, but it entailed a lot of waiting in line and a lot of traveling from here to there and then from there to here. So, once again, no blogging time.

Tomorrow afternoon, though, I’m trapped in my house waiting for the electrician. In other words, blog time!!!

I’m so, so sorry for being a blogging failure of late. I’ve just spent so much of the last two months dashed like a small raft on a rough ocean, dealing with movers, utilities, packing, unpacking, cleaning, etc., that I can’t find enough hours or energy in the day for my lovely hobbies of knitting and blogging. Switching metaphors, I promise you that, like a homing pigeon, no matter how the wind buffets me, I’m still heading steadily back to my blog.

Meanwhile, at least I can give you a nice open thread for tonight’s Bloombergian Democrat debate.

(The image at the top of this post is a lightly cropped version of a Creative Commons image by Brett Lider, showing lines out the door at a California DMV. As it happens, I know that DMV well, for I got my first driver’s license there, when I was 16. It’s not a pleasant place to hang around.)