Saturday, June 30, 2007

Busy! Busy! Blister!

That's the homeowner's variation on Duck! Duck! Goose!, right?

My plan to get up early and be productive has worked swimmingly! I woke up at 6am, listened to Media Matters, then went outside about 7am to pull weeds. I managed to weed the entire south side of the house and along part of the deck in an hour. I also got a lovely blister measuring 1/2 by 1 inches across the side of my left index finger, hence the title of today's post.

Then I came inside for breakfast and e-mail. About the time CarTalk started, I trimmed the flowers in the front of the house. Having been persistent about deadheading the coreopsis and then saving the seed, I now have a *GALLON* of coreopsis seed. I'm not sure what variety it is, but here's a picture of them blooming. The plants are about 18 inches tall, but once they bloom, things get closer to 24-36 inches. If you know anybody who would like some seed, let me know and I'll mail you some.

Things to do later today: Start working on a new knitting project, mend some handknit socks, mow the stinking jungle known as my front yard before I have to invest in a machete and probably get out ye olde weed whacker too to trim the edges. Now that I type this, it occurs to me that taking a shower in the next ten minutes would be pretty silly since the weed whacker will leave me covered in grass clippings. I really need to scrub the pool cover too, especially since I need to move it to get the mower out. I'm going to have waaaaaay too much fun today, aren't I?

Oh, and if you are wondering why I didn't wear gloves to do the weeding, thus preventing the blister issue. The answer is this: I have managed to lose two pair of gloves in the past ten days. I have no earthly idea where I left them. I'm now using the new pair I bought last fall. I try to have two or three pair of working gloves and one new pair ready to replace a pair that gets destroyed. Right now I have the Poison Ivy gloves to only be used when messing with the poison ivy and the new gloves I just put into service. I used to have a pair of blue washable suede gloves (Smurf gloves) and a pair of plain leather gloves that were nicely broken in. Sigh.

Well, I'd better get moving. I'm sure it will rain if I don't get a move on.

Update:
So, I got the yardwork done. I got the pool steps weighted down too. While there is distant thunder. I started vacuuming the last of the stuff in the pool and sure enough it starts to sprinkle, so I go inside. I take a shower and figure I'll call it a day on the pool stuff. Apparently the sun came out while I was in the shower. It's back to being sunny and hot again. I'm debating going out there in a little bit to finish raking the leaves off the bottom.

Oh, and I forgot to put on sunscreen this morning, so my forearms got burned when I mowed the lawn. My hands are fine and the burn ends about 1/2 inch above my elbows. And here I was hoping that I'd be able to do away with the farmer tan.

But I was highly productive. I got the lawn mowed and then changed the oil in the mower and washed it. I also discovered that the mower should get its oil changed every 50 hours, not every 25. Well, better to change it more often than to change it less often. I also made sun tea, which I'm presently enjoying.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Quack!

Who knew that rubber duckies might be seaworthy? The ducks, along with turtles and frogs, washed overboard in the Pacific. They're now being found washing ashore all over the world, including the US, England and the Arctic.

Something Fishy...
Well, not fishy exactly, but definitely not quite right. I don't know what it is or where it is, but there is something in the kitchen or living room which has gone bad. I'll tear up the kitchen tomorrow and clean it from top to bottom. I dislike mysterious aromas in my house. Fortunately I have several audiobooks to keep me entertained while I work.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

It's a Pandemic!

Ok, so it's not really. It was just a tabletop exercise. I was apparently one of the few persons who had prepared to be a facilitator. Although I missed the planning meeting due to a communications breakdown, I did make a point of getting the information from the folks who are running the exercise. My co-workers attended the planning meeting, but most of them didn't have any idea that they were meant to be facilitators or evaluators. I don't know if they didn't pay attention when that information was given out or if it wasn't mentioned. I ended up with a list of evaluators/facilitators somehow.

Anyway, I actually read most of the regional pandemic influenza plan in the past two days, so I would know what most of the answers were to the exercise questions. I find that knowing what the heck is going on makes it easier to guide a discussion. So this morning, about ten minutes prior to leaving for the exercise, co-workers want to copy my answers to the questions. Given that they didn't know they were supposed to lead the discussion at their respective tables, I suppose it's good that they had some information to go by.

However, the entire exercise went very well, I thought. The logistics were handled superbly. There was plenty of coffee, juice, sodas and snacks (pastries, grapes, bananas, apples, bagels/cream cheese, muffins!) in the morning. Lunch was delivered and set up very quickly and quietly during one of our discussion periods (complete with signs on the tables specifying which kind of sandwiches were in each stack of boxed lunches). I had a yummy veggie and cheese samich on whole wheat bread. It had lettuce, cucumber, tomato, thinly sliced red onion and some sort of herbed cheese spread. The boxed lunch also included potato salad, chips and a cookie. Extra bags of chips and extra cookies were available in the kitchen area. For afternoon snacks the fruit plates were replenished and more chips, cookies and muffins were set out. Of course, this means I ate more than I really should have eaten. At the end of the day I was given a nearly full 2 liter bottle of root beer. All I need now is a little vanilla ice cream and a frosted mug!

The most important part of the exercise was not the food, however. The turnout was really good. The organizers said that 150 persons were invited and it looked like about 130 showed up. Invitees included health department directors, communicable disease/infection control personnel from hospitals, chamber of commerce staff, fire/EMS/law enforcement staff, civic and community organizations and school district administrators. The idea was to get persons from different agencies at each table so we could all learn from each other and come up with solutions that we might not have had before. It also provided the opportunity to discover areas in which information was lacking. Overall the attitude of everybody there was positive. Nobody got upset or defensive. I thought it went very well and was quite productive.

New Phone! New Phone!
My new phone is currently charging. I'll download some backup software later this evening, then move everything on the old phone to a memory card and move it all to the new phone in one simple step. Once I do a hard reset on the old phone to erase everything from it, I'll pop it into the pre-paid mailer for returning to the nice Asurion people. I can hardly wait to have a screen that is NOT broken. The blackened areas have slowly grown in the past week. It's been "interesting" to play "Guess what the obscured word in *this* message is", but I'll be happy to just read things like a normal person.

It's SHOCKING I tell you!! Shocking!!
I've gone ahead and thrown the shock chemicals into the pool. Technically, the pool isn't completely vacuumed yet, so I don't know how well this will work, but it will be a start to kill off the critters living in the pool and I will at least run the complete volume of the pool through the filter. I'll adjust the pH and continue chlorinating later in the week. Saturday morning during my now weekly cleaning swim, I'll get the vacuum to finish hitting the spots it's missed so far and get the silly pool steps weighed down properly.

In a fit of kindness, I also rescued a drowning horse fly. I'm hoping that it doesn't bite me later. :o)

Another of the great mysteries of life.....
Where do the flyswatters go at the end of the summer? I had *two* of them last summer. One was in the kitchen and one was in my bedroom. Do you think I can find either of them now? Do you think I can manage to get rid of flies in my house either? OF COURSE NOT! There is one runt fly which is just bugging the daylights out of me every time I am in the living room. Heck, it might be following me through the house. I keep telling myself (and the fly) that it'll die of old age in a day or two at the most, but apparently this particular fly does not understand that its lifespan is really quite short. Trust me to have flies that exceed normal lifespans. Freaking overachievers!!!

On the Job Front....
Well, the job surveillance front, that is. I have prepared a resume for the NYC Dept of Health. I need to get a cover letter written tonight or tomorrow. The job for which I would like to apply closes on Friday. The job is "Syndromic Surveillance Director". Given that I was hired into my current job to develop a syndromic surveillance program and I accomplished that successfully in about two weeks, I figure I might understand what's required. I suspect that much of the pay raise associated with this job would be eaten up by cost of living increases, particularly since the job requires residence in NYC. Methinks I won't be having a 1 acre yard, much less a 1 acre *back*yard. I won't be having 4 bedrooms either. At least not on my single salary, unless I win a big lottery jackpot. There would be some downsizing going on as well. I can't decide if living in NYC would be entirely too hectic and chaotic, thus driving me crazy(er) or if the chaos and hectic aspects would be soothing to the ADHD part of me. I certainly wouldn't be able to complain about not having anything to do with all the museums, shows, restaurants, shops, knitters, sporting events, concerts, parks and other activities.

The other job I'm preparing for at the moment is a response to a general ad for scientist from the Defense Intelligence Agency. They're looking for folks with an infectious disease background. It's a generic recruiting ad, but I could have a lot of fun with figuring out what sort of risks might develop with regard to homeland and military security and then how to identify and prevent any problems from developing. No doubt what will happen is that I'll end up with two offers. That's what happened just after I accepted my current job. I was offered a final interview with the US Navy regarding global pandemic influenza planning. The timing of things was just off by a week or two and I might be a DoD employee right now. Oh well....there's another adventure just around the corner. I've certainly learned a lot on this journey about myself and what I want and expect from a job.

Another of Life's Questions:
Why is it that I'm actually getting FLUFFIER since I started working out seriously every morning? I know that the scale isn't a good measure of making weight loss progress since muscle is denser than fat. The weight gain from building muscle can sometimes outstrip the losses from losing fat. I understand that. I mostly pay attention to how my clothes fit to gauge whether I'm going up or down. SO WHY ARE MY PANTS TIGHTER AND I HAD TO LOOSEN MY BELT! Argh. Time to start logging all my food intake again. That's the only way I can really get a handle on serving sizes and see where I'm going wrong. (Let's not talk about the extra cookie and bag of chips I had at lunch today. They had nothing to do with my pants being tight this *morning*.)

I haven't been running/walking in a while now, though I've been keeping up with some cardio and weight work. If I'm going to have a successful outcome in the marathon in October I need to get back to roadwork in the morning. I can always do indoor cardio and weights in the evenings. ("Successful outcome" is defined here as finishing the race, preferably in less than five hours and ideally in 4 to 4.5 hours.)

Vegetable-y Goodness
Here's the harvest for today. You can't really see the 1/2 quart of green beans I also picked. I could also pick a colander full of lettuces and chard, plus a cup or more of basil, but I thought I'd save that for tomorrow. I'm still not sure what I'll do with the chard. I don't know if I've ever eaten chard. It sure is pretty though.

I have nearly this many zucchini and cucumbers already in the refrigerator. Gotta get some recipes together. Soon. Probably make a zucchini chocolate cake this weekend. I wonder how well zucchini freezes....

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Work is the place where you do *work*

Unless you work where I work. Then work may be where you spend most of the day with another co-worker creating a scrapbook for a relative. It was bad enough last week and yesterday when nearly everybody was working on scrapbook pages for a retiring co-worker. That's at least sort of, kind of, work-related. But building an entire scrapbook for a relative? How is that related to work? Can I bring in my knitting next week because I'm trying to meet a deadline? It's for charity, not a relative, but homeless kids are a worthy cause, right? (Oh, and I got the "Gee, you're not talking much today." comment again today. I bit my tongue and did not say "Well, I do have work to do, don't you?")

Yes, indeedy. This is your tax dollars at work. And people wonder why government workers have such a bad reputation....

I do sometimes wonder if my co-workers will ever make the connection between not having enough time to get their work done and spending a lot of time goofing off. In the meantime, I will continue to work hard because that's what I do. It may be that nobody will ever notice the work getting done, but at least I have the satisfaction of doing the job right and doing it well.

More from the overheard conversation department:
If you pay all the bills for your child (rent, utilities, tuition, car expenses, etc) until they're in their mid-twenties and about to get married, do you really expect that child to ever learn how to be independent or to develop good judgment about financial matters? Aren't you instead fostering complete dependence? This might explain why said child's parental unit had to go to their job interview with them (that's what the parent said, at least). I can only hope that the parental unit didn't sit in on the interview. I'm hoping a college graduate isn't so completely inept and helpless that they can't manage a job interview on their own. I know I wouldn't be all that impressed with a job candidate if their Mommy or Daddy had to come with them. Wouldn't you want your offspring to become independent at some point? What sort of life can you have when someone does everything for you?

Another question: If you do run your child's life their entire life, you might not want to get all crabby about them making the "wrong" decision on occasion. Heck, even if you don't run your child's life the whole time, you might not want to do that. How did you learn that something else was the "right" answer? By trying it and by occasionally screwing up. I'm willing to bet that the parents screwed things up. Everybody screws things up. It's how we learn. Doing everything for me does not teach me the "right" answers. It teaches me to be dependent and helpless. Furthermore, the answer which was "right" for you and your life may not actually work for me and my life, just as what works for me may not work for you. Perhaps I'm just weird because I think parents should want to create independent and self-reliant kids. After all, the parents aren't going to be around said kid 24/7 for the entire duration of the kid's life. Sooner or later the kid will have to make a decision on their own. You might as well give them the tools to be able to make good choices.

Is it just me or is the Burger King king guy really creepy?
He's clearly related to the Oompa Loompas from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He sure doesn't make me want to eat at Burger King. Even if one of their burgers wasn't apparently going to cause me to sprout facial hair. (Well, that's what happens to everybody in the commercial who eats that burger.) Perhaps Burger King owns stock in companies selling razors, shaving cream or other depilatory products. In any event, the ad campaign really kills my appetite for burgers, if you must know.

Sunflowers!
The garden is now blooming. I'm still taller than most of the sunflowers though. For now.

My co-workers are absolutely amazed that I've been growing vegetables. You'd think I was an alchemist. I've tried to explain that zucchini and most other veggies are easy to grow. You simply plant them, weed them once or twice a season and water them once a week if needed. They're convinced that growing veggies must be amazingly difficult. I guess they've never tried it themselves. *shrugs*

Monday, June 25, 2007

Now, *why* would you do that?

I'll admit to having done this occasionally in the past, though not nearly to this level. Why on *earth* would you insist on re-hashing an event which was primarily an imagined insult for the apparent sole purpose of getting all worked up and exerting your self-righteousness? This has been going on for three days now and I imagine it was re-hashed over the weekend with other people. Remember that disaster drill last Thursday where several of my co-workers were asked to move from the middle of the hallway to the volunteer room to continue their conversation? This is now being described with great hostility as "being thrown out" and the offending staff members of the other department are completely ungrateful since we ran their exercise and we were only supposed to be observers.

Here are my observations:
If you want to be an observer and not a volunteer, do NOT offer to do the job of a volunteer. If you do volunteer to be a volunteer, do NOT get crabby if they take you up on that offer. Had it been my exercise and I was trying to keep things running late in the morning, I would have also asked a of individuals to move their conversation into the volunteer room, instead of being in the middle of the hallway where they might be a disruption. Had they gotten difficult or refused to move, I also would have asked for security to assist me. If I'm running an exercise or an actual POD, I am going to be unhappy about things getting in the way of the smooth running of the POD. That means removing impediments that I can control. In this case, it meant asking the volunteers to NOT stand around conversing in the hallway with the patients, but to move to the volunteer room, which is exactly the purpose for which that room was designed. Seems pretty reasonable, don't you think?

But no. This is clearly an intentional insult by an ungrateful bunch of jerks and retards who couldn't have run anything had my co-workers not done everything. I guess the other department didn't do enough bowing and scraping. Frankly, I thought we were all working toward the same goal on the same team. Apparently I was wrong. The attitude at work really sucks. I don't care if our department is the "best". This isn't a competition. We're *all* trying to improve the health of the people in this state, aren't we? Don't you think we can manage what most grade school kids can do and play nice together and work together cooperatively?

I am learning that my co-workers cannot do that. It seems to be an office full of princesses that have to be adored and adulated. Nobody else can do something as well as they can. If someone does do something well, it gets criticized. Compliments are rarely handed out outside the office. Life is not a zero sum game folks. Just because someone else succeeds doesn't mean that I fail. Tearing down someone's accomplishments doesn't build me up. It just brings us all to the lower common denominator.

For all that folks at work keep espousing all these great "Christian" things and activities, it's not what I would call particularly "Christian" behavior from what I recall of such things. It sure as hell isn't anything even remotely related to Buddhist behavior. On the other hand, I'm getting to practice letting it all go and not letting it affect me. Of course, I'm losing a lot of my respect for my co-workers in the process.

Anyway, it seems to me like a colossal waste of energy and it also seems rather idiotic to insist on fomenting such vehemence when there is no constructive purpose to it. There is no possibility of cooperative teamwork as long as this attitude is perpetuated. None. I have no doubt that if this situation contributes to a bad outcome there will be some serious Finger Pointing Olympics. *sigh*

Pool!!!
Ok, so I found the missing part of the pool vacuum. I even vacuumed a lot of it. It works very well. It would work even better if I had two people: one to direct the vacuum across the pool floor and one to backwash/rinse the filter as necessary. I can do this by myself from outside the pool by using the skimmer pole, but it would be easier to push it around from inside the pool. Anyway, most of the pool floor is cleaned up. The rain today even brought up the level of the water to the correct level. Tomorrow I'll try to finish up the vacuuming and get the shock chemicals into the pool. I've really got to get the backwash hose installed. I'm starting to make a puddle next to the pool and I don't want to compromise the structural integrity of the pool site by saturating the ground underneath part of it.

Working Out!
I actually got up at 5am today and worked out hard. I signed up for a workout buddy on the Internet, which helped with the motivation. I'll get up again tomorrow and hit it hard. Today was mostly cardio. Tomorrow will be weights. Yay!

Elsewhere On the Personal Front
I'm vaguely disgruntled with my life. Much of this has to do with my job being unsatisfying. I'm "data girl", which is fine, but it would be nice if I got to do the occasional investigation too, especially when my co-workers get lost or confused. I've tried to tell people that I can help them, but they apparently like floundering around saying they don't understand or don't believe I have anything useful to offer. That's fine. I'll find other things to keep me busy.

So, to do away with the disgruntlement, I have the following plan: get rid of the clutter in my life either through donating/selling possessions or throwing stuff out and stop wasting time. One of my complaints is that I haven't accomplished anything significant yet. So, it's time to figure out where I'd like to start and get moving. This week I'm going to log how I spend my time at home and identify how I can use my time more effectively to get my goals and priorities accomplished. I've got things to do and I'm on my way.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

More On the Waterfront

Only this time it's the real thing. I just happened to tune in to the middle of it this afternoon. It's hard to believe that this is the same Marlon Brando who ended up in The Godfather. Of course, I also have a hard time reconciling Orson Welles from the era of Citizen Kane and the Mercury Theater with the Orson Welles from the Ernest and Julio Gallo commercials.

Pool Progress
I actually had a bit of a swim this morning. I started out just cleaning the pool then decided it would be easier if I got in there. Finished cleaning things up and swam around a little. I ended my morning's entertainment with about an hour floating on the inflatable chaise. Getting on it was "interesting" and I'm really glad you can't easily see into my yard. I flipped the silly thing over half a dozen times, laughing all the way.

The pump hose is freshly glued and now curing. I should be able to power up the pump in about two hours. Pressure levels get to 40-50psi, so I want to give it plenty of time to set. After that I'll give it a good test. I need to get a hose clamp for the backwash hose. Right now there's no hose on the backwash outlet and the water just runs right back toward the pool and pump area. I'd rather divert it some where else. I already have a 25 foot long section of backwash hose ready to go.

Following a successful pump test, I'll see about assembling the pool vacuum and sucking up the scum off the floor of the pool. After that it'll be time to throw in a package of shock treatment and run the filter for several hours. With any luck that ought to get me in pretty good shape with respect to the chemistry and cleaning end of things. Right now the water is pretty clear and I've got nearly all of the large leaves out of the pool.

I really need to get a new swimsuit. The lining in the present suit has decided to no longer be elastic in nature. It's just all saggy now. A quick fix will be to just remove the lining. However, I'll still need to get a new suit some time this summer.

Pool Update: The pool vacuum is apparently missing some parts (and the directions say the pool should be clean before I use it, which seems like it would rather defeat the purpose of the pool vacuum). It'll cost me another $60 to get it working properly. The good news is that the pump hose is secured properly. I guess I'll just have to let the filter system work and hope that takes care of most of the problem. The pool vacuum will have to wait until the next paycheck. At this rate, it'll be time to close the pool by the time I get things figured out and working properly. :-P

Gardening Update
I've got a nice stockpile of zucchini and cucumbers in the refrigerator. I'm picking a lot of salad greens each week too. There are a lot of green tomatoes waiting to ripen. I need to pick the next round of blackberries today. The basil, dill and cilantro are nearly at their peak. I could make a batch of pesto this weekend if I felt like cooking some pasta to go with it. I really don't feel like doing much of anything. I need to get to the grocery store at some point, but probably not today.

On the ornamental front, I tore out a bunch of weeds from the glads in front of the bedroom windows. Then I transplanted some of the new coreopsis seedlings from this year to the backyard. We'll see how well they do. I watered them well. I don't think they will bloom this year, but they should grow nice and big by the end of the season. I should have some daisy seedlings to transplant later this summer. These are volunteer plants from seed that was dropped in early spring. At the rate of proliferation for the coreopsis, I should be able to replace large chunks of my yard with them by this fall.

Friday, June 22, 2007

On the Waterfront...

Ok, so technically it's poolfront. :o)

Anyway, I am slowly making progress toward getting the pool functioning properly. Today I got the new pump installed and got all the connections connected. It only took two visits to the pool store and one to Lowe's. Now I'm waiting for the pool to fill up a bit more so I can start filtering or vacuuming. At the moment the pump pushes water through the filter faster than the pool can fill the skimmer reservoir, so the pump tries to go dry. It's my understanding that running nothing but air through a pump isn't really a good idea. I hope the filter doesn't need to be re-built or have sand added to it. I don't really want to crack open the filter. I'll backwash it really thoroughly and see how well it works. At a minimum I need to get the pool vacuum up and running so I can get the silly scum and leaves off the floor, then shock it thoroughly.

Oh, and I got some weights for the steps. If the weights aren't heavy enough for the steps, I also had the bright idea to put the play sand already in the pool into the now empty chlorine tablet bucket. The bucket is plastic and will securely contain the sand, which is already in the pool.

Update: Should have glued the hose into the pump BEFORE I added more water to the pool. Now I have to go find the plugs for the skimmer and the outflow port so I can disconnect the pump, let things dry and *then* glue things together. *sigh* However, I did get the bins of pool stuff out of the garage. Only found one dead mouse in the bin. The pool vac is now out by the pool. I even found the directions for using the silly thing. Yay!!

A Plethora of Cucumbers
I must have a dozen of the beasties in the fridge. Must find some recipes. I think some nice gazpacho verde might be a good start, especially since it's been so hot outside. And now I'm craving green seedless grapes. *sigh*

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I Got Strafed!

Well, not exactly, but sort of. The cornfield about a mile to the west of me got sprayed by a crop duster today. He swooped up over the trees and flew over my house repeatedly. It was cool. I sat out on the deck and watched for half an hour. Then I decided that I ought to go inside since I could smell the pesticides.


The Aliens Have Landed!

Ok, so it's really hazmat techs in Level A suits being scrubbed down by a decon team in Level B coveralls. It was all part of a disaster exercise involving a simulated building collapse with hazmat contamination. We had about 100 patients with various injuries and the area county Emergency Management Agencies brought their toys out to play. Overall, I think the drill ran smoothly, but there were some hiccups as there always are. Nonetheless, it was a success, in my opinion.

Today's Disaster
Well, it wasn't really a disaster. Several people from the office went to observe a large metro health department simulate opening a POD (Point of Dispensing station). It was disorganized as these things always are. I took a lot of notes. They did some things well. Other things could have been done differently, but that's always the case with running live-scale exercises.

The day culminated with everybody from my office but me being escorted outside by security. I'm sure there were issues on both sides of that incident, but it certainly didn't go over well. Given that one of the persons escorted out was our new regional director, I'd say it's a safe bet that our department and their department won't be working well together any time soon. The director and the emergency planning coordinator were both livid. I missed the whole thing. I'm sure it will be re-hashed over and over again in the next week. I'll try to not let it affect my blood pressure.

OOPSIES!!!

I did a bad thing today. I forgot that my handy dandy smartphone was sitting in my lap on my fanny pack. So I stood up. Unfortunately the gravity bill was paid at that particular location, so my phone proceeded to introduce itself to the floor with some alacrity and force. This wouldn't have been such a bad thing if the floor had been carpeted or tiled. Alas, the floor was concrete. I'm not sure exactly how it landed, but I can tell you the phone didn't much care for it. Fortunately I believe in paying the monthly fee for phone replacement, so a new phone will be arriving next week. The phone insurance claim person, Clara, was incredibly helpful and very sympathetic. She said "Oh dear!" a lot and commiserated with me. I asked for her name and told her she was very helpful. I could hear her smile and possibly even blush. :o)

Another Interesting Overheard Conversation

Person 1: "Well, now you can see why there is such a high rate of STDs in XXX County."
Person 2: "You're right, there are a lot of black people there."

I hope my head didn't snap around in a noticeable manner. Person 1 did explain that that was not what they meant by their observation. I was shocked and even horrified that Person 2 seems to hold the belief that bad health outcomes are caused by being African-American. That would mean that there is no hope of actually improving the current health status of the county as long as the minority population resides there, which is a giant load of hooey.

Pool Progress!
Well, kinda. The good news is that the chemicals and pump that I ordered have arrived. The bad news is that the hose connections on the new pump aren't the same as the connections on the old pump. So I can't connect it to the filter. I'll have to go to the pool store tomorrow at lunch and see if I can get a hose with the proper connectors. Or get some sort of adaptor thingie. I really really wanted to get in the pool today or tomorrow too. It was a long week with the disaster drill. *pout!* (Knowing my luck, I'd get sunburned anyway, so maybe it's better this way. That's what I'm telling myself.)

IAP!!
I have been tasked with writing the incident action plans for the regional health operations center, should there be a disaster involving the health department. I also get to write the patient education presentations and other materials to be given out in the event of a disaster involving the health department. Cool!! It's good to have tasks.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Thou Shalt Not Drive Like a Maniac

It's true. The Vatican said so. Too bad most of the populace around me is Baptist. I don't think they're going to read the Vatican's teachings. Even if they did, I'm sure the majority of the population would think it applied to everybody else. Remember, 80% of drivers believe they have above average driving skills.

RIP
Nine firefighters in Charleston, SC died last night in the line of duty. The roof of the fully involved furniture warehouse collapsed while they were inside. It's been a while since that many people were added to the fallen firefighter's memorial in one incident.

Working Away
Well, the desktop computer at work disappeared today. Computer guy took it with him to fix. The amusing part is that computer *girl* fixed it. She blew an image of the main software packages onto the drive, added the stuff she hadn't imaged and will re-image it for me, just in case.

I actually made quite a bit of progress with the TB data entry. I have discovered some bothersome discrepancies in the paperwork. For example, Joe Smith (not a real name) is noted as stating that he has a history of positive TB tests. And right above this is documented that in December 2006 or January 2007 that the test was 0mm, which is negative. Mmmmmmmkay. Which is it? I'm not all that keen on trusting the word of the inmates. We know very well that they fib about test history to avoid having additional tests planted on them. My stack of "problem" paperwork is nearly as big as the stack of OK paperwork. I do NOT like this proportion of "problems". I can only hope that the non-positive test paperwork has a better error rate.

It's a Disaster!!

The three-day disaster drill started today. Tomorrow morning at 7am I'll go moulage up some "victims" for the hospital surge exercise. Thursday I'll observe a POD (Point of Dispensing) being set up. PODs are how medications will be given out during a bioterrorism event. My pager went off twice today telling me there was a HUGE earthquake and five hospitals were destroyed. It was kinda cool. I miss that sort of adrenaline rush at work.

Also tomorrow....
My new pool pump ought to be arriving in the next day or two. I still need to get a "gate" for the skimmer opening. Right now there isn't one. You know, that little flap that lets water out slowly into the filtration system, then pops back up. I believe the proper term is "weir gate" or something like that. I need to measure the opening so I can get the right size. When I went to the local pool store, there were a couple dozen sizes and shapes. Oops.

I think I'm going to be sore in the next day or two. I worked out tonight. Hard. Hard enough to get the "wobblies" in my arms and legs. I'll hit it again pretty hard tomorrow night, then rest on Thursday night since I'll be travelling that day anyway (and starting work at 6am). If I stretch really well tonight before bed, perhaps I can minimize the soreness a bit.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Quit Yer Whinging!

I have *no* sympathy for the US automotive industry whining that it cannot possibly make the "large cars that Americans have come to expect" and meet the fuel efficiency standards presently being proposed by Congress. First of all, Americans need to quit expecting to drive land yachts. We got away from driving them during the 1970s fuel shortages. We can get away from driving them now. Furthermore, the fuel efficiency requirements in Europe and China are much more stringent that those being proposed by Congress, yet the big three auto makers seem to be able to compete just fine in that market.

Here's a bit of trivia: China has better fuel efficiency requirements than the US, despite having not really having an automotive market until the past ten years. I find that embarassing. This little upstart country showing the US up like that. Too bad there isn't a way to shame the US auto makers into doing better.

Other Congress Critter news:
Bob Corker complained that the proposed rewards for renewable energy sources would penalize the south since they haven't got any renewable energy sources. Let's think about that, shall we? First, let's consider what some of the renewable energy sources are: biodiesel, ethanol (made from corn or switch grass), wind, solar energy, hydroelectricity, landfill gas. I can personally assure you that there is indeed wind and sun in Tennessee, despite what Mr. Corker says. I drive past several hundred acres of corn each day as well and I know for a fact that there are at least a few ethanol production plants in this state, though they primarily produce ethanol of the drinking variety. I wonder if those companies might be interested in multi-tasking should there be some profit involved.

Methinks Mr. Corker doth protest too much. I suspect that there is considerable special interest lobbying going on. There are a number of coal mines in this state and I imagine they aren't keen on seeing other energy industries being rewarded with tax breaks. Too bad they can't get their facts straight or at least get Mr. Corker to speak more accurately.

Vegetable Bounty
I'm being overrun with veggies. I have almost a dozen zucchini and half a dozen cucumbers now, plus two cups of green beans and two freezer bags full of lettuces. I'm very nearly self-sufficient with regard to lunch and dinner at the moment. All I lack are tomatoes and sweet peppers to make a killer salad.

As you can tell from the blossoms in the picture, I won't be running out of zucchini any time soon. I'll take some of the zucchini to work since some of my co-workers said they'd like some. I don't know that I'll be as generous with the tomatoes once they ripen. I know it's not nice, but I'm going to hoard them, with the exception of taking a couple of them in to Marsha since she asked very nicely if I could bring her a few tomatoes several months ago.

Today's driving lesson:
It is apparently against local custom to stop for the yellow left turn arrow, even if there is oncoming traffic entering the intersection. Or at least the driver behind me who honked repeatedly seemed to think it was a bad idea. This may explain why his SUV has dents in the side and my little car has none.

Fun at Work:
The decision was made today to reformat my computer at work. The Windows Updates aren't automatically installing themselves, so the computer guy decided that was the solution. It's a good thing that I have a laptop or I wouldn't be able to work at all. I'm going to laugh if the re-installation of the world doesn't actually fix the problem. I did make a complete backup of all the data I have prior to turning over the machine to computer guy.

A co-worker who is normally quite fashionable might have been featured as a Fashion Don't. The outfit included a pair of black leggings, white t-shirt and a short baby doll style dress. The impression I had was of a 1980s era hooker. I am positive that wasn't the look for which she was striving.

I think I tried applying logic to my co-workers again today. We need to file some paperwork on an infectious disease case, but we are missing some of the necessary information. Co-worker A called to request this information. She also indicated that she needed information on some other cases. She was told to make a list of everything that was needed and to send it along. Co-worker A spent almost an hour telling anybody who would listen that it was impossible to do the paperwork filing without the information she wanted and seemed shocked that she was told she would be given the information if she would only tell them what she wanted. I was really confused by her irritation. They told her they'd send her what she wanted if she'd tell them what it was. How is that *not* cooperating? I don't get it.

In other news, the Defense Intelligence Agency is looking for scientists with an infectious disease background again. :o)

Weather Blues
I hope it rains tonight. It's cooled off nicely. The high temps have been in the 90s lately and the humidity in the evenings has led me to keep the windows closed at night. We are presently experiencing the driest weather on record. I've been watering my flowers, the new shrubs and the veggies. The grass/weeds in the yard are on their own. The good news about not watering the lawn is that it's also not growing very much so the mowing frequency is once a week or less. I miss having the windows open at night.

A Musing on Men and Their Behavior
A few postings ago, I mentioned a conversation I had with a male friend after I had made a comment that he hadn't answered the phone because he'd been on a hot date. He called to tell me he couldn't have been on a hot date because he's got a fiancee and didn't I know that? In previous conversations in person he'd been extremely flirtatious and told me several times that I'm very attractive. Apparently since he was out of town (thus away from the fiance), he felt free to call me and to flirt. He also called me on my personal cell phone while he was traveling to chit-chat. I was mostly interested in getting to know him better and building a friendship since we have a number of interests in common. I suspect that I won't hear from him again now that he's back home. Question: If it's not acceptable behavior when you're home, why would it be acceptable behavior when you're traveling? Isn't it still bad/inappropriate behavior regardless of your current location and the proximity to your fiancee?

I find these discrepancies in behavior to be interesting, infuriating and confusing. When I was growing up, I was too unattractive for anybody to ask me out (or so I was told). Now I'm too attractive to be friends. Of course, I'm also too independent and intimidating to actually date. But the whole concept of "behave inappropriately around females while away from the significant other" is a strange one to me. If the behavior is inappropriate while the SO is right there, why would it be ok if s/he were never to find out about it? In my personal code of ethics, there is no difference. I should (and do) behave as though my SO were always there. If something I do would hurt my SO if they knew about it, why would I do it? I guess it's another example of how I think differently from other people.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Back to the Blog at Last....

I went out of town for the weekend in early June and just now got the laptop set up again. I could have blogged from my desktop machine, but that's not as convenient as sitting in my favorite comfy chair at the end of the day as I relax.

Trip Report:
I had a good trip. I took a day off work so I could have an extra day to visit friends and take my car to it's "home" dealership for some service (the nearest VW dealership to me normally is about a hundred miles away). The dealer fixed a factory recall issue for me, but claimed to be unable to find any leak in the trunk despite running my car through the carwash several times. I found this to be very interesting given that the carpet in the trunk was wet when they gave my car back to me. It appears I'll be fixing the leak myself.

I didn't have lunch with Carol, Cindy and Gary on Friday, but I did hang out at the police department for an hour catching up with them. However, we are going to have lunch when I go through town after the Chicago Marathon in October. So, for lunch I went to Zorba's and said hi to Matt. And ate a whole basket of fries all by myself.

The class I taught went well. There were ten people in the class. We had one guest speaker fail to show up, so we were a bit short on material. Most of the guys in the class worked for paid fire services, so the material didn't necessarily apply directly to them, but most of them participated in the discussion at some point or another. The course evaluations were favorable and I was asked to come back again next year for Fire College 2008. With any luck we'll have a bigger lineup of guest speakers. I've also decided to revamp the course.

I did get to have lunch with Tom, Leslie and Lindsay on Sunday. That was awesome. Tom has recently taken on being a shift supervisor at Pro. This has irritated a number of his former peers. Personally, I think he'll be an excellent supervisor. He's the most fair-minded guy I know and repeatedly puts what is best for the company ahead of what is most convenient for himself or others. This is annoying people. I also got to have dinner with some buddies from Pro. Not nearly enough time spent with friends, but it was all the time I had between my schedule and theirs.


Trip Photos:
The levee floodgate in Cairo
The Quad
Weekend excitement
I decided to open my pool this weekend. I got the job about half done. It would be all done if the pump motor hadn't seized. The next pump should arrive by Wednesday. I've already started adding chlorine since there isn't any detectable free chlorine in the water. Once the pump is installed, I'll throw in some shock and finish getting things cleaned up. I'll have to move the bin of pool tools out to the backyard or to the yard shed. I'm not going to dig through the garage every time I need to get the pool vac out.

Surprisingly, getting the cover off the pool wasn't the hardest part, though that did entail scooping up about 150 pounds of rotting leaves off the top before I could pull the cover off completely. That'll be a nice addition to the compost pile. The hardest part of the whole operation was getting the darned pool steps set up. You see, the steps float. That made it impossible for me to attach them to the pool ladder. So I had to drag my regular ladder out, then jump into the pool and attach things from inside. Now I need to get something heavy to weight down the steps. The previous owners used two bags of play sand, which probably worked fine, but at least one of the bags of sand has ruptured, which will make for an "interesting" cleaning task. I don't think the sand will be good for the pool vacuum.

Anyway, I got a nice workout for my shoulders and the beginnings of racer-back tan lines while scrubbing the pool floor and deploying the leaf rake. I will have to scrub the pool cover this week, let it dry, then fold it and store it. Right now it's spread out over the section of the lawn which has poison ivy in it. I figured I might be able to cook the poison ivy to death and kill two birds with one stone. (So far the only thing I have found to kill the poison ivy is undiluted RoundUp concentrate and I'm not entirely certain that completely kills the darned stuff.)

Garden Goodies!
You hate me. The blackberry bush is covered with ripening berries. I picked a quart of them yesterday. I might make a blueberry/blackberry cobbler later this week. Yum!

More philosophizing coming soon:
Despite a dearth of postings, I've got a list of things to ramble on about, including guys, eating, the garden and whatever else I have written down on my list carefully stored in the other room. In the meantime, I need to get to bed.