Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I'm not being quiet. I'm *working*!

It seems to confuse my coworkers that I tend to stay in my cube 90% of the day and work, instead of standing around gossiping in the hallway. I limit my socializing to the first 15-20 minutes in the morning, perhaps another 10-15 minutes in the afternoon and sometimes at lunch. Normally I read a book at lunch and don't engage in the often snarky gossiping about people I don't actually know. Question: Just what is the point of spreading more negativity around the world? I don't understand that.

I am in this job to do work, not to stand around and gossip. I like to put in at least 7 hours a day of actual work while in my 7.5 hour day at work. Is that so difficult to understand? Two people said I was being too quiet. I didn't have any response to that. I was actually talking to myself while I was working, so it's not like I was completely silent. I just kept hammering away at the computer. Only two more days and then I leave town for the weekend. Tomorrow night I have to pack and get ready to go.

An interesting concept
I chatted with a friend of mine today. I had sent him e-mail letting him know that his phone wasn't accepting voicemail. In the e-mail I commented that either his phone was being difficult or he was out on a hot date and had the phone shut off. He seemed confused by the comment that he might be out on a hot date since he has a fiancee. Technically, I don't think that having a fiancee excludes one from having hot dates. It does rather limit the choice of persons with whom you go on a date, but then again you're pretty sure that the person is pretty likely to agree to go out with you. So it's not all bad, now is it?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Happy Star Wars Day!!!

Long, long ago in a theater not so very far away..... StarWars opened in theaters 30 years ago today. And the world of science fiction and special effects movies changed forever.

Ah, if only my school had actually offered computer courses when I was in high school. It's hard to teach yourself how to do stuff when there are very limited resources. The StarWars movies really got me thinking about what computers could do. Not that I could have done much with the Apple II+ and green screen monitor I had.... Alas, I learned BASIC and FORTRAN, but not much else at the programming end. Oh well, 'tis all water under the bridge now.

TB Resurgence
We picked up two more suspect cases this week and one last week. We're back to a total of seven or eight now. I am going to try and use the new software package on the two isolated cases, just to try and get the hang of the software and appease the powers that be to some extent. I did, after all, promise that we'd consider using the software in the future and the future appears to have arrived.

Holiday Weekend
I got nothing planned. My brain is fried. It's been a long week. I'm really glad that Monday isn't a work day. Mom and Becky are arriving in the morning. I should probably mow the lawn at some point and I'm debating having Mom help me install a ceiling fan in my bedroom. The mice in the attic apparently have returned, so I'm not all that keen on climbing around up there. (I did toss up more bait packets, so perhaps the mouse problem will be declining shortly.)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ummmmm.....

Today's Quote of the Day:
"The problem with science is that it's too 'science-y'."
I have no idea what that means. It's from the author of a new book bemoaning the fact that we aren't living in the high tech society described in the World's Fair predictions of the 1950s. We don't have household robotics. I guess there are other things he thought we should have so he's now unhappy. I guess because science hasn't moved quite fast enough, there's a problem. I think science probably hasn't moved as fast as expected in some areas and has moved an order of magnitude faster in other areas.

Weekend Progress:
I have watered the garden, baked cookies (peanut butter chocolate chip), paid the bills, washed half of a sheep's fleece, cleaned up my fiber room, started prepping a fleece for when my drum carder arrives on Monday and sorted through all the boxes of miscellaneous computer parts (anybody need a 56K modem? I have three of them). I'm now going through the six boxes of paperwork from my PhD. Oddly enough, I found a folder of research articles collected under the title "produce and foodborne outbreaks". Funny how the rest of the world is catching on to that just in the past couple of years. Today I'll start with doing laundry, get some housecleaning out of the way and get back to reducing the detritus.

Backyard Bug
I don't know what it is, but it's *huge*. It also had a lot of trouble walking through the grass. It was too big to actually get down to the ground surface and fit underneath or between the grass/weed stems. So it had to go over the lawn surface, which really is quite rough and seemed to be quite a struggle finding things to step on. I don't know if he's ordinarily a lawn bug or if he's usually found in other settings. I think he'd be better suited in a less vegetated environment.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Preakness Day

Let's hope this is not a sign of things to come..... Mending Fences was euthanized after breaking down in the Dixie Stakes, one of the undercard races at Pimlico today. His jockey and the jockey of Einstein, who stumbled over Mending Fences but didn't fall himself, are both uninjured.

On a much happier note, earlier today the first running of the Barbaro Stakes (formerly the Sir Barton Stakes) was won by Chelokee, who is trained by Michael Matz. Mr. Matz was also Barbaro's trainer. He was very emotional when talking about it. Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, Barbaro's owners, presented the winner's trophy.

Quote of the Day:
"This is the most greatest moment of my life."--Calvin Borel just minutes after winning the Kentucky Derby.

Mr. Borel received six hours notice that he would be attending a State Dinner with the President of the US and the Queen of England. He and his fiance were flown to DC. A local mall/clothing store was opened so his fiance could get a dress. White tie attire was obtained for Mr. Borel. His fiance read him a book on protocol and they both were given last minute instruction. He says it was the darndest thing he'd ever been to. I'd bet he never dreamed he'd ever attend a State Dinner.

Yesterday's horoscope:
"You're not the type to bob about in the sea. Don't worry. You'll find your anchor soon enough, though probably not before you've written the definitive "how-to" guide on floating."

*heh*

Preakness Stakes
Curlin outran Street Sense at the last few jumps. Once Street Sense got to the lead and was coming down the stretch, he backed off a bit. It could have been the noise of the crowd that got him put off a bit. Curlin sure dug back in after he got passed in the stretch. It's very rare for a horse that is passed to come back like that and end up winning the race. There's something to be said for a ticked off, stubborn horse. Some horses really HATE getting passed, but will just loaf along until someone else comes up alongside them. Once the challenge is there, they get all sorts of fired up.

Not Quite Black-Eyed Susans
(That's the flower associated with the Preakness Stakes)
But here's a picture of my coreopsis in bloom.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Since when is Friday Grumpy Day?

Apparently I missed the memo about being crabby at work today. We picked up a new TB case. Not a big deal. That brings us back up to 5 (at one point we had 9 confirmed or suspect cases). Then there was some confusion as to whether or not the patient was actually on 4 drug therapy (ethambutol, rifampin, PZA and isoniazid). The nurse handling the investigation got all kinds of bent when she got told he wasn't on drugs. I suggested she wait until Monday. She called around and found out he really was on meds, which made her even more aggravated since now we have to start the investigation. In any event, nothing was going to be done with the investigation today. I really don't understand why she decided to get cranky, then she grumbled because I was filing *her* paperwork in *her* filing cabinet. I guess I'll go in early on Monday and get it done before anybody else arrives or save it for when everybody goes to lunch.

Then in the afternoon, the office decided to take the last two hours off and just sit around gossiping since the boss was gone. I really don't understand that work ethic, especially since folks complain about not having time to get things done. Well, when you blow off 1/4 of the day once or twice a week, that will cut into one's productivity. I stayed in my cube, listening to my iPod and continuing to hammer through more data entry. If I'm going to get my job done without taking work home with me, I don't have any choice but to actually work pretty steadily at work. (With that said, I did spend 20 minutes this morning reading the NY Times and Washington Post. I suppose that could be counted as part of the two fifteen minute breaks the Dept of Labor says I'm entitled to have.)

Anyway, I'm tired of crabby people. Ugh. It takes waaaaay too much energy to be crabby and it never actually changes anything, so why bother?

Watching House....
I'm watching this show for about the third time. I really like House's sense of humor and stubborness. It reminds me of someone I know. I'm also a big fan of Hugh Laurie from watching the Bertie/Jeeves and Black Adder series.

Right now there's a vegan nutritionist (the girlfriend of a patient). She's wearing leather sandals. I'm surprised House hasn't mentioned that yet. Of course, he's just dosed a co-worker with amphetamines in his coffee. It was funny. Is it wrong that I revel in the mayhem generated by imaginary people tormenting other imaginary people? I wonder if that generates bad karma. If it does, surely it would be less bad karma than if I were tormenting people myself.

My Podcast Collection
I have become a podcast junkie. My hard drive is full. I went through the collection last night and eliminated the detritus. I now have only 900 episodes on my hard drive. I download about 30 episodes a week. I think I'll have to find a way to carry my iPod around the house and listen to the various lectures I've got downloaded, then delete them off the computer. I suppose I ought to go get that big HD again, even if I don't upgrade the rest of my machine this year. Otherwise I won't be able to keep stockpiling my fix of knowledge. For some reason I seem to only download educational podcasts.

Defense Contractors...
There's a Homeland Security gig in DC for which I am qualified. It's dealing with biosecurity and agriculture. It's a contract job, but there isn't any mention how long the contract is nor are moving expenses covered. I'm tempted to apply for it, just to see what happens. The NYC Dept of Health is looking for a Director of Syndromic Surveillance Programs. No moving expenses paid there either and residence in NYC is required. I'm not sure I'd like that. DC or NYC would either be way too crowded, hectic and busy or it would be soothingly chaotic, hectic and busy. I'm not sure the increase in pay would compensate for the increase in cost of living, however. Still, it might be interesting to live in either DC or NYC at least for a brief time, just to say I did it. I certainly wouldn't be able to complain that there wasn't anything to do.

Another Busy Weekend
Tomorrow is the Preakness Stakes. I haven't been keeping up with the Racing Form, so I don't know what the handicappers think of Street Sense this week. I really need to get those silly last four shrubs planted. Then move a couple of the plants in the poison ivy corner to better locations. Weed the vegetables. Get out the weed whacker to trim the edges of the lawn. Wash the car. Finish digging up the front flower bed. Weed the roses. Bake some bread and cookies. Do laundry. Clean the house. That should keep me from getting bored, don't you think? We'll see how far I get past the shrubs, the weeding and the baking. :o)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Today's Silly Quote

"It looks like he bled from the inside out."
I don't know about you, but I generally keep all of my blood on the inside, so if any bleeding at all occurs, it must be from the inside out or at least from the inside to the inside, in the case of an internal hemorrhage. I cannot, off the top of my head, think of any way in which a person could actually bleed from the outside to the inside. I think I'll skip the made-for-TV movie from which that quote came.

Gotta Get on the Exercise Wagon Again
Ok, so the past few mornings weren't really great ones. I was completely wiped out today. The funny thing is that I have no doubt that I would have felt better had I gotten up this morning and worked out. I did mow the lawn this evening and do some more weeding so it's not like I was a complete slacker. I think I will make a point of using my morning and afternoon breaks at work (which I don't normally take at all) and go for a walk. I'll get a mental and a physical break that way. It'll do a body and a brain good.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Oh, the things you hear.....

A sampling of the less than completely brilliant things I've heard recently:
"Oh, I didn't know postage was going up. I thought it was just stamps."
"I'll have to go check the label and see how many cc's are in 2 liters."

Green Growing Things...
My garden is growing quite nicely. So is the grass that is trying to take over. Fortunately the mole colony in the backyard is helping me by uprooting a lot of the grass. This is really making it a lot easier to rip out the bad stuff. So far everything is growing nicely with the exception of the cilantro and dill. To be honest, I'm not entirely certain that the seed I had was any good anyway. It was seed I'd harvested in 2005 from my garden.

The holly hedge is doing well. I still haven't got the last four shrubs in the ground. I should fertilize the plants this week. Mulch wouldn't hurt either, but that's a ways down on my priority list. The seedling Rose of Sharon plants will need to be moved to their final places soon. I think I will put them along the west side of the house. I have discovered the soil there is quite rocky, which makes digging anything difficult. If I have an extra plant or two, I will put them back in the poison ivy corner.

Speaking of the poison ivy corner, none of the hosta roots I planted in there have sprouted. Nor have the Lily of the Valley. My guess it that it's a combination of being too wet and the petroleum runoff from next door. Ick.

The coreopsis in front of the house (the plants I dug up and brought from Urbana) are in full bloom. They're quite tall and look very cheery. I hope to propagate more of them from seed so the whole front of the house can have coreopsis. By next spring, I ought to have the front of the house planted how I like it. I really need to finish the digging of the front bed and removing the sod.

The downside of all my grubbing about in the dirt is that my hands are getting quite chewed up and rough. I'll have to mix up some sugar scrub and buff them smooth. For that matter, I need to scrub my feet too. They're not much better than my hands, though they haven't had any trouble keeping the dirt/mud out from under their nails.

Silly Birds
On the way home from work, a goldfinch flew into the side of my car and got itself killed. That's two fatal goldfinch injuries in a month. Then later a hummingbird tried to land on me when I was watering some plants. I am fairly certain that I do not resemble a flower, but apparently this particular bird was confused. It was certainly a bit startling to have a hummingbird fly up to my face, then hover while it checked me out. It left as I was backing away from it.

Weather Woes
It was going to rain this evening. So I went to the grocery store instead of going straight home to weed the garden. It even sprinkled a bit on the drive home. But nothing that would qualify as "rain". The deck didn't even get wet. I really should water the garden, but it seems silly to do that when rain is expected. Murphy's Law will, of course, keep it from raining until I do water.

The Sanity of the iPod
I have been listening to my iPod almost daily at work. I rarely listen to music. I mostly listen to NPR programs or other news shows. The noise level at work has gotten to be quite distracting. It's the only way that I can concentrate and get anything done. Of course, it also means I tend to not participate in the idle chatter at work. I'm okay with that.

For starters, I have ethical issues with spending 1/4 to 1/3 of the work day gossiping. Heck, for that matter, I have ethical issues with gossiping in general. If the woman who runs the cafe on the corner is seeing someone ten years younger than she is, that's her business and hers alone. I also don't care to hear about how the woman at the bank has completely let herself go and really should have someone pick her clothes for her. What is the constructive purpose of talking negatively behind someone's back about things like that? Is it just to make you feel superior? It really just demonstrates insecurity and meanness.

Another reason I shy away from idle chatter like that is that idle chatter is one of the ten non-virtues in Buddhism, along with harsh speech. I figure most gossip fits into one or both of those categories. Both breed negativity in atmosphere and spirit. I don't think it's much of a goal to propagate such things. It certainly isn't much fun to participate in and I've decided to not participate in it any more. I expect my crabbiness at work and in life will start to decline within the week.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Food Safety News

Well, it would seem that the contaminated wheat gluten has now made it into fish food at fish hatcheries and farms in the US and Canada. Again, the stated risk to humans is low, but nobody knows what the risk actually is given that there aren't long-term tests in humans on the effects of melamine. So we've now got melamine in pork, chicken and fish, as well as pets. I had given some thought to roasting a chicken for dinner today, but methinks I'll stick to some rice and veggies.

There was also a sizeable beef recall this week due to E. coli contamination.

Being thin isn't good enough.

You can still have problems with internal fat stores. Squishing your heart, kidneys and pancreas with fat aren't a good thing. I'm willing to bet that a diet at about 10% fat, which is low enough to reduce atherosclerotic placque deposits in your arteries is probably also a low enough fat intake to help reduce the internal fat stores.

A Better School Lunch
Not surprisingly, school kids who eat a more healthy school lunch didn't gain excessive amounts of weight when compared to kids who ate the usual school lunch stuff. The healthier lunch involved more fresh fruits and lots of veggies. The kids on the "good" lunch gained 1/2 pound less than their "normal" lunch counterparts. 44% of these kids were considered overweight or at risk of becoming overweight at the start of the study. Weight gain was expected since they're all growing, but there's something to be said for healthy weight gain in a growing child and becoming obese. I hope this study and others like it cause some serious changes in the school lunch program. Yes, it will be more expensive to feed the kids better food, but let's think about that. You're going to grumble about money when the outcome is healthier kids? Ok. You do that. Then again, the folks who make these decisions also decided to cut out the physical education programs and now can't figure out why kids are fat and inactive. Hmmmmm....


Bad Brain!
For some reason my brain is deciding to be difficult today. I woke up at 5am with a headache, which lingered until just recently and hovered around the 5-7 severity scale. I broke down and put on the A/C since I was fussy and feeling crummy. Now I'm watching Mildred Pierce and trying to restrain myself from slapping Veda.

I like Mildred for the most part. She let Veda get away with far too much, but she was certainly ambitious, capable and driven. I'm not sure she ever had an end goal though and perhaps that is where she went wrong. If all you want is "more", you'll never be happy because there will always be "more" to get. Having a more specific goal and developing a plan to reach it, might have kept things from getting out of control. Then again, telling Veda "no" at least once would have helped. That little brat effectively ate up the proceeds of all the restaurants and became quite the social climber. Of course, she didn't understand a darned thing about the work that went into getting her any of those things she demanded that she get. Without that understanding, she placed very little value on any of it.

Mr. Toad!
I have found where the house toad lives. He's all dug in underneath one of the phlox plants. At first I thought he was dead since he didn't move at all when I uncovered him. He didn't blink and he didn't even appear to breathe. I poked him a bit and he still didn't move. Finally he twitched a bit. I covered him back up and left him be. I didn't ask him if he had had any wild rides. I'll keep him as the guard toad and he can pee on anybody who bothers me.

Thief!!
On Thursday, there was a loaf of bread in this container, awaiting a trip down to the compost bin. On Friday, there was no bread. There was, in fact, no evidence of the bread at all. Something came up, grabbed it and carted it off. I figure it was probably a raccoon, but it could have been a coyote.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I am *not* a suckup....

I'm not. Really. I didn't intend to go out to dinner with all the instructors tonight. I had actually managed to get my co-workers into the group with the instructors. Only then the instructors got side tracked by the full-scale copy of the Parthenon. And then the pond. And the goslings. At which point my co-workers wandered off to find dinner, which is completely understandable. Eventually the instructors and I went to dinner too. And listened in on Tim McGraw concert along the riverfront. And then hung out and listened to some live music at a bar. Then took the shuttle back to the hotel and had a round at the hotel bar. Just chatting about Life, the Universe, which Star Trek series was the best, and Everything. It was awesome.

I realized that I really miss having debates with people about politics and national/international events. Those subjects don't come up much in my world at the moment or at least not where differing opinions are respected. Several people had differing opinions tonight (lane splitting is evil and should be illegal vs. lane splitting is ok, but probaby stupid, plus the various social/political commentaries). As long as you had some reason for having your opinion (as opposed to saying "because I read it in the paper", that was cool. I haven't had a conversation like that in *ages*. I miss people who think critically about the information being thrown at them and who question it. I miss being around people who are not sheep and who are aware of the events in the world and who demand action be taken to change things, then go about changing the world instead of just complaining or expecting someone else to do it. My brain is happy. I had more fun tonight than I've had in a year.

Monday, May 07, 2007

On a Cheery Note....

The fire hydrant in front of my house has been freshly painted. It is now gleaming SILVER. Definitely an improvement over the rusty yellow it was. I don't know that I've seen silver hydrants before. The only colors I really remember seeing are red, yellow and orange. There might have been other colors, but I don't remember. I wonder how frequently hydrants need to be re-painted.

Can I Poke My Eye Out Now?

The day began with an apparently very serious discussion of what the "correct" size of an engagement ring is. It would appear that anything less than a 1 carat diamond solitaire indicates he's not serious enough about the relationship. There doesn't seem to be any accounting for the guy's actual ability to pay for said ring. The guy in question is only barely out of college, so I doubt he can afford a huge ring. Perhaps this is a radical concept, but it's not really the ring that's important, is it? Isn't it just a symbol? Does the size of the ring really have anything to do with the degree of commitment? I'd rather have an extra large degree of commitment and a small ring or even no ring.

Personal Responsibility Ranting
Most people bemoan the fact that drunk drivers kill people, yet they will have drinks after work or at dinner then drive home. I'm the "weird" one who doesn't drink if I'm driving myself home, which means I pretty much only drink at home. I guess the attitude is that it must be other people who drink and drive that hit things. Perhaps the new "Buzzed driving *is* drunk driving" ad campaign will sink in. Perhaps not. Just like it's other kids who drink in high school then get themselves killed while driving. "My kid knows better than to drink too much..." If high school kids knew how to drink responsibly, the drinking age wouldn't be 21. COLLEGE STUDENTS can't manage to drink responsibly. What makes you think a high school student can manage that? Heck, adults can't manage to drink responsibly.

How about this scenario: a guy is in jail after following his estranged wife to a restaurant, confronting said spouse and her significant other in the middle of the restaurant and then assaulted said significant other. Probably not acceptable behavior, right? What if it was a woman who did the stalking and assaulting? I overheard a group of women assert very strongly that this is completely acceptable and the wife was completely justified since the other woman "stole" the guy. It apparently shouldn't be allowed for charges to be pressed, because the assault was somehow "asked for". I don't know about every guy on the planet, but most guys don't stray unless they choose to do so, regardless of temptation. He still had to go along with it. If he's got that little disregard for me, he is more than welcome to leave. I may not like it, but I know I sure as heck deserve better. And I'm pretty sure having a psycho moment isn't going to change anything or make me feel better.

It's amazing how nobody is responsible for their actions if it is at all inconvenient or if they can find someone else to blame. It's not my fault I'm fat, it's because of my genetics or because my job won't let me exercise (said while downing about 1800 calories of pizza and chocolate for a single meal). It's not my fault I'm broke, there were too many cute things at the mall. See also blaming all the loan companies and credit card companies for US consumer debt problems. It's just easier to bitch, blame and sue than it is to have any self-discipline and change one's own behavior. Here's a thought: Just because you *can* do something, doesn't mean you *should* do it.

As a corollary, if you don't like a given situation, either change your behavior somehow or quit bitching. (Although it would appear that just bitching is a major sport now.) If you have had multiple dogs get hit by a car in the same place and the dogs run loose, you might consider either not letting the dogs run loose or training the dogs to not chase cars. If you want to lose weight for the long term, you might want to consider reducing your caloric intake (including snacks) and increasing your exercise time. If you do not choose to change your behavior, you cannot expect to lose weight, especially if that very behavior has in fact contributed to your weight gain in the first place.

Another Rant
Here's a question for you: what business does a person who makes $36K/year have in buying a house that costs <$250K? If your SALARY per month is around $3000, what makes you think you can handle a house payment of $3000/month? Yet this very scenario was described by a woman on the news decrying the evils of her mortgage company for not telling her anything. Methinks she didn't actually read the paperwork.) Newsflash: Just because someone gives you the chance to borrow a bucketload of money doesn't mean that you should BORROW ALL OF IT. It's a LOAN, they WILL be expecting that money back. And with interest.

Headed off for Training:

At least one co-worker already is acting like the next three days will be nothing but a colossal waste of time. I realize that people are busy and workshops aren't always scheduled at convenient times (remember, this particular bit of training is right in the middle of when I was going to be on a cruise), but aren't they supposed to help us do our jobs better? Isn't that desirable? Perhaps I just have a different attitude about learning things having been a college student for far too long. Me? I'm going there to learn. This particular training isn't likely to be happening again here any time soon.

Neighbors
The neighbor's dogs apparently like my yard. I have plants dug up and footprints all through my flower beds. I am not amused. I'm even less amused by the fact that my neighbors have been rinsing their digging/drilling equipment and that the resultant runoff is going right through my yard. I wouldn't care so much, but that water seems to be highly contaminated with petroleum products. The soil in the corner of my yard smells like diesel fuel. This explains why the plants I planted out there appear to be dying. Perhaps the dogs will dig up the contaminated soil and get sick. That would be convenient.

And in case you weren't sure...
YES I'M CRABBY THIS WEEK! /me goes back into the cave to hide, muttering to myself.....

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Customer Service Woes Continue....

I have cancelled my newspaper subscription. I had intended to do that after last week's four missed papers. This week I received a bill for the next month's subscription with a due date of April 29th. I got the bill on May 4th. They can't have possibly mailed it out prior to the 29th. What particularly irked me is that the bill announced that my subscription had already expired. That's interesting given that I had actually paid to receive the paper through today, May 5th. Now it would seem that it expired in late April. Oddly enough, the bill is for the subscription to start May 12th. I have no idea what's was supposed to happen in between. Perhaps that's when the delivery goes all bad. I'm also not going to hold my breath on receiving any of the four papers for which I had requested credit since delivery never happened.

And then there was the library....I owed the library a fine when I went in to pick up a book being held for me last week. I paid said fine. I went in today and was charged the exact same fine again. By the same clerk. I *knew* I should have asked for a receipt when I paid the fine. The one time previously that I had paid a fine I did get a receipt. From here on out, I will ask for one. I don't mind helping out the library, but it would be nice if the fines were cleared off my account when they got paid. I know they had computer problems a week ago, but twice in one week? Does NOBODY in this town bother with backups?!?!?!?

Speaking of Computer Woes...
Remember that the website I maintain in my spare time got moved from one host to another? I *still* don't have access to the site. There is no ETA on when that might happen. I also found how why the site transfer was so badly screwed up. The host insisted on doing all the work themselves and boy did they botch it up. There is certainly a vast disconnect between what they say they can do (based on their website) and what they actually do. I have also discovered that this hosting company does not believe in spam filtering for listservs and will not give us any ability to filter spam on our own. So I get 10-20+ error messages a day from the listserv when non-members (e.g. spammers) try to post something to the list. None of the traffic gets to the list, but with our previous host, none of that spam got to me either. The previous hosting company filtered it all out before it got to the server. It sure would be nice if the new hosting company managed to follow industry standard practice. I hope Steve, the site owner, is paying significantly less for the new company since the services and abilities are significantly reduced.

Things Around the House
I really need to mow the lawn. For that matter, I really need to change the oil in the mower. I probably should have remembered that when I was in town. I'll have to get the filter and oil next week. When I remember to take in the gas can to be filled. At least I remembered my library books before I got more than a mile from home. (I went back and got them.) I still haven't planted those last four shrubs. I really don't feel like messing with any of it today either. I just want to sit and do a whole lot of nothing. I'm really tired this week.

Quote of the Day:
"And there's the seven horse, plus a horse's butt..." uttered by one of the commentators (Kenny) on ESPN while they're loading up the horses in the La Troienne Stakes. He was about to say something about the seven horse when the camera view became *completely* obscured by a closeup of the side of someone'e hindquarters. The commentator didn't even lose a beat, just kept going. It was a very nicely muscled hip.

Calvin Borel won the race on SilverInYourPocket. He'll ride one of my Derby picks, Street Sense, later today. Calvin came from behind. He's pretty thoroughly covered in sand/mud. I *hate* that stuff. That was the one of the few things I couldn't stand about working at the track. Getting sand in my face, my shirt, my shoes, etc. It only ever happened when the track was wet. When things were dry it all bounced off, but with a bit of dampness it stuck like mad. I can see why some horses hate coming from behind especially in the wet. I hated behind behind other horses and getting sand in my face too and I could hide behind my horse.

Derby Commentary
This is the first time in about six years that I've had cable and watched the full Kentucky Derby coverage. Kenny on ESPN is hilarious. He just pointed out to an international audience that he had made a mistake prior to the last commercial break, but that the microphone was broken or off at the time, so nobody actually heard it, but he wanted to correct the error that nobody heard. He's clearly of the opinion that if a tree falls in the woods, but nobody is there, that it still makes a sound. Since he's got a sense of humor and a good ability to roll with the punches on air, I'm sure he won't be allowed to do this ever again, which is a shame.

The Queen of England has arrived at Churchill Downs for the racing today. (Kenny has already invited her over for a chat.) I wonder if she'll place any bets. On past visits to Kentucky, she's stayed at Lane's End Farm with the Farishes. Mr. Farish was once US Ambassador to England. I know the late Queen Mother used to place bets. Heck, she'd stop at pubs for pints of beer too. The security details in this country would go insane if that happened here. I suppose it helps that everybody seemed to like the Queen Mother. People here aren't nearly as fond of our own heads of state, politicians, etc.

Speaking of racing and royalty, I'll have to see if Dick Francis has written any books lately. He is a former steeplechase jockey who rode for the Queen Mother. He writes a pretty good mystery. I've read a number of his books, but then got out of the habit of reading mysteries. I'll have to have a look the next time I get back to the library or look at the downloadable audio books. Right now I'm listening to "The Body in the Library" by Agatha Christie.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Well, this could be interesting....

I was informed today that the presentation about our TB outbreak at a statewide meeting will be done as a skit. A *skit*. At a professional meeting. This might have something to do with why our office doesn't get taken seriously and why we don't get asked to make presentations like this very often. It is absolutely possible to make an entertaining, yet professional presentation. If this was a talent show or a social event, sure. Not at a professional meeting. I sincerely hope I just missed a joke somehow.

Whacking the Weeds
Why is it that a weed whacker manages to completely coat you with grass/weed trimmings? I don't even lift the silly trimmer head up. Somehow the act of using plastic string to cut the grass/weeds creates some sort of static electric field whereby the grass/weed bits are caused to affix themselves to your shoes and clothes with 100% affinity. I'm really curious how they manage to get in my clothes.

Should get some yard work finished up if it doesn't rain. The poison ivy is starting to sprout again so I'll mix up some more roundup and kill it off. Before I mow the yard and plant the last of the shrubbery. Maybe in a month or so I'll get the pool opened up. I'm tempted to leave it closed since I'm not much of a pool person, but I reckon that might do bad things to the pool.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

It's Derby Weekend!

And my former boss, Carl Nafzger, has his best chance in a long time to win again. His horse is Street Sense, which is presently 2nd favorite. His only Derby winner, Unbridled, was no where near being a favorite in 1990 when he started at 20-1. For the human interest pick of the year, I choose Storm in May. This horse is blind in one eye as the result of an accident when he was just a week old. One of his exercise riders says he's the stablest horse she's ever ridden.

Banging Out the Code
I spent about six hours trying to get a 15 line bit of computer program to do what I wanted it to do today. For three hours of that, I was manually concatenating the names while pondering the code in my back brain. I never did find the error in the initial bit of code, but I did find a workaround that did the trick. I did discover that the import wizard in SAS is now smart enough to figure out how long to make variable fields for you when you let it import an Excel file. That solved 1/2 my problem. I had initially tried to import a comma delimited file, which resulted in the fields being truncated at 8 chars. My attempts to expand the fields was unsuccessufl and resulted in "stealing" characters from the adjoining fields, which mean the name was combined with date of birth, etc. But in the end I got it fixed. Being a smart girl, I also saved my code for future adventures in concatenation. I save *all* my SAS code.

The next bit of code I'll need to write will be to flag those TB contacts who have had less than 56 days since their last exposure and their most recent TB skin test. Ideally, we'd like 70 days (10 weeks), but 8 week is acceptable. With a 4000 line database, I'd rather not do all those calculations by hand. I've already got the conditional statement written, just need to write the bits to pull the correct data and generate the output. Barring any silly coding errors, it may take less than an hour to write the code *and* execute it.

Working Out
Yeah. It's a nice idea, but I haven't been doing much of it this week. At least I've not done much running/walking. I've been pretty exhausted after work and not sleeping well either. I have done some strength work though, so that's better than nothing. I need to do more of that.

Eating Better
There was an interesting conversation at lunch the other day. One of the women was saying she really doesn't eat poorly, so doesn't understand why she weighs more now than she's ever weighed (>220 lbs). Mind you, she's saying this as she eats two large pieces of cheesy, meaty, greasy pizza and a quart of chocolate milk. She also said that since she can't power walk how she wants to at work (she'd get too sweaty and we have no shower facilities, which is a valid concern) that she just doesn't bother working out if she can't get in just exactly the right workout. I dunno. I figure *any* working out is better than sitting on the couch watching TV, even if it isn't exactly the workout I want to have.

As for how I'm eating, I've not been vegan lately. Dairy has been sneaking into things. I have, however, strictly avoided meat/poultry/fish and eggs. It's really hard to eat at a Mexican restaurant and not have cheese in something. Next week I have three more days of training. I don't think lunch is provided, so I ought to be able to do OK with the vegan plan. The hotel is right across the street from a big park, so I can walk or run in the morning before class. The hotel also has a small workout facility (treadmill, stair climber and stationary bike) and I'll take my workout DVDs with me. w00t!

Now, if only it would rain....
The weather forecast keeps threatening, but nothing ever happens. I need to get the last four hedge shrubs in the ground this weekend and mow the lawn (and whack the weeds). I hope things don't dry out too much while I'm gone. I'll definitely be watering the night I get back.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

An Odd Question

I just responded to a survey in which I was asked how important financial security is in the event of premature death. I don't know about you, but I figure I won't need financial security if I die early. BECAUSE I'D BE DEAD! I'm not planning on taking it with me when I go.

Bad Goldfinch
On Monday night, a goldfinch flew into my kitchen window. I went out there before it got dark to see if there was a dead bird to deal with, but saw nothing. Tuesday evening, I found a goldfinch with a broken wing huddled next to the steps to the deck. It hops really fast so I wasn't able to catch it or examine it. I just left some birdseed under the deck and a saucer of water. Dang it.

Hilarious Reading
I've been reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. The man pulls no punches when describing life slaving away in commercial kitchens. He describes the clashing personalities, the dubious practices (including why you shouldn't order seafood on Mondays) and what it really is like to be a professional chef. Mr. Bourdain is certainly opinionated, but he's also well-informed, more than willing to expose his own shortcomings/flaws and willing to try new things regardless of his reservations. To top it all off, he writes very well. I laughed my way through lunchtime reading.

Everybody is at Disney :o(
My sister and her family, plus my Mom are at Disney World this week. Mitch is in Anaheim for a Cyber Security conference and is supposed to visit Disney Land tomorrow night. Me? I'm bludgeoning my way through a 4800 line database removing duplicate records. Sigh.... I hope they all get "It's a Small World" stuck in their heads. :o)