Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Quote of the Day

From the spam folder:
"It's not pollution that's damaging the environment. It's the contaminants in the air and water."

Um....yeah. I'd never make it as a spammer. I'd be fixing the grammatical and factual errors in the stupid messages I had to send out.


Traveling
I was nominated the group driver today. That's ok. I like driving. Of course this cuts right into the knitting time while in the back seat. I am knitting this evening in my hotel room though, so that's good. I'm also watching Lord of the Rings on DVD since there isn't much on TV.

You'd Think I'd Learn...
Steph is away this month. She clearly stated so on her blog. And I still go there about twice a week before I remember that there aren't new postings this month. Sigh.

Odd Dreams
For once I actually remembered a dream when I woke up. Usually I don't remember. I don't, of course, remember any of it now either, but I do remember explaining something to some guy. I recall it being an unusual setting and circumstances, but that's about it. I wonder what the show will be this evening....

Monday, August 27, 2007

I'm bummed....

I ordered new running shoes off the Internet last week. They aren't here yet. And I'll won't be here to pick them up until Thursday. That's TWO DAYS in which I could be wearing new running shoes, but won't actually be able to do so. DANG IT!!!

I'm hoping these shoes will actually fit properly. If they don't, I'll have to break down and find the local Foot Locker or whatever the equivalent is here. The shoes I already have are in need of retirement prior to the race.

Tired
I managed to stay awake last night until after 1am. It wasn't intentional. I don't know if I had too much caffeine or if it was just a bad night. In any event, I'm really tired now. As soon as I am packed, I'm going to bed.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Yummy!

In a fit of efficiency, I ran my errands early yesterday morning. I actually got to the post office before it opened. I could have sworn that the post office opened at 8:30 on Saturdays, but that's apparently only Monday thru Friday. On Saturdays that particular branch opens at 9am. Conveniently I wanted to cruise through the grocery store that's half a block away and check out the produce section anyway so that worked out fine.

Ordinarily I buy groceries at Wal-Mart because it's convenient and the prices are often better. However, I'm not impressed by the produce section at my local store. I figured I'd reward myself for an early start to the day by finding something yummy at the Kroger produce section. I found several yummy things. For starters I got a bunch of red leaf lettuce and some baby portobello mushrooms. Then I found a tub of organic baby greens. I've been looking for baby greens for salads since I moved here. In C-U, the grocery store closest to home stocked locally baby lettuce mix. Now it seems that I have a very good substitute, even if it's not a local product. I used to complain about the price of the baby lettuces until I thought about what I pay for a salad made from the same baby lettuce at a restaurant. I can get a week's worth of lettuce from the grocery store for the same price as a single restaurant salad. And I've got homemade herb croutons to go on top. I also picked up a loaf of ciabatta bread and some couscous.

Anyway, here's where the "Yummy!" comes in...

I marinated the mushroom caps in balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil with minced onion, garlic, jalapeno and salt/pepper. Grilled them until they were juicy and tender. I toasted the split bread, rubbed the bread with a bit of garlic, added a slice of ripe tomato, a handful of baby greens dressed with the leftover marinade and topped it with a warm mushroom cap. Delicious!! A bit of chevre spread over the bread or some Parmesan would have been good, but I didn't have any available. I ate two samiches last night and have enough mushrooms for four more.


I've reserved the mushroom stems. I thought about making an omelet with them, but I think I'll saute them and put them in a risotto or pasta sauce.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

This Week's Spam

I'm always amused by the various things that are sent to me.

First, I'm supposed to be *downloading* MS Office at an incredibly good price from an unknown vendor. Aside from the fact that it's likely to be something besides MS Office that I'd be downloading and/or a pirated copy of the software, do you have any idea how LONG it would take to download all of MS Office on anything other than a screaming fast network connection?

Second, I have again had distant relatives I have never heard of die in foreign lands and leave me millions of dollars in cash. The "catch" of course, is that I must give all the relevant account numbers and other identifying information PLUS sacrifice 55% of the money to the guy who has been trying diligently for two years to find little old me. In the best lolcat speech, this scam is summed up thusly: i can haz rich ded relative. *mai* ded relative. legal dood can gets hiz own ded relative. stoopid legal dood.

Third, my wife apparently won't perform sexual favors for me. This is particularly interesting given that I have no wife and the sexual favors she won't perform aren't actually possible with the anatomy we have.

Fourth, I apparently have been playing the lottery in foreign countries with some success. Now, if I could only find the ticket I didn't buy....

It's a wonder I don't develop an inferiority complex with all the physical shortcomings I apparently have, based on the messages I am sent. Of course, most of the shortcomings seem to be related to male anatomy and sexual prowess, which is amusing given that I'm female....

I have noticed that the spammers are starting to include usernames in their subject lines, so it appears that the message is actually being directed at me. It will be worth watching to see if they apply this tactic to messages sent to multiple addresses. Thinking about spam makes me very curious how complicated the filtering algorithms are for spam filters. I wonder if I can find an example algorithm on the internet somewhere. Have to look for that the next time I get bored.

Tidying up the Hard Drive
I got another error message in iTunes today. Downloading podcasts was suspended because my HD was getting full. I had about 11 MB free. So I started deleting junk files and then I went through the 1198 podcast episodes I had downloaded and threw away the ones I won't listen to or the old ones for the various series. Now I'm down to <800 podcasts and picked up another 10GB of free space. Of course, I still need to order a new internal HD. No matter what I delete, I'll be running out of space on the existing 80 GB drive before long.

Laundry Oops....
I have pink bath towels now. It would seem that the red placemats are still bleeding dye even though they've been washed before. I have pink bath towels now. They used to be fluffy white towels. Now they're fluffy pink towels. I also have a pink t-shirt that I won't be wearing to work any more. Fortunately nothing else was affected. I imagine the dye will wash out in a couple of weeks. I could bleach the towels but I don't know that I am that upset about it.

Street Sense Takes the Travers

And jockey Calvin Borel is talking to himself on the ride back to the winner's circle, hooting and hollering and generally being very happy. I suspect he has no idea that the microphone is still on and everybody watching ESPN can hear him.

It was a pretty close finish. Grasshopper, one of the longshots, failed to fade quickly in the stretch after Street Sense made his move. Robbie Albarado kept him on the lead and forced Mr. Borel to squeeze out every last bit of speed from Street Sense. Street Sense pulled it off by a head. Just after the two horses passed the wire, Mr. Borel reached over and tapped knuckles with Mr. Albarado. They have apparently known each other for years and have a friendly rivalry. It was nice to see a show of good sportsmanship and respect between athletes at the end of a heated competition.

Harvesting Corn
It's corn harvesting season here. One field had the stalks baled. I'm hoping they aren't going to feed the baled stalks directly, but perhaps there's a use for them than livestock feed. It seems too early in the season for harvesting corn, but then again they planted earlier here too.


I don't remember when the cotton harvest starts, but I think it's October some time. I suspect the crop isn't doing very well with the complete lack of rain.

No Amphibicows
I am sad to report there are no amphibicows this year. The pond they used to cool themselves in is completely dry this summer. The farmer took the opportunity to re-grade the bottom of the pond, which I thought was pretty smart. Maybe we'll get enough rain to fill the pond before it gets cold and there will be amphibicows yet this year.

Yard Work Day
I have managed to weed whack most of the weeds needing whacking. I also had to reload the cutting line (the whack) in the whacker. Later when the line jammed and I had to take the spool out to clear the jam I managed to drop the silly thing on the ground so it unwound on me. I didn't do a very good job of rewinding it so it kept jamming and I finally quit whacking. I also mowed what parts of the lawn needed it. Most of the backyard is dead, except where I've been running the waste water from the pool.

I ended up spending about 3 1/2 hours outside working on the lawn. I started early so it never seemed like it got too hot. I even mowed off the part of the garden where the radishes and lettuces were growing. I'll water it a bit to soften things up, then till that section under next weekend so I can plant a fall crop. About all that's growing right now is the basil, peppers, tomatoes and zucchini. The acorn squash and cucumber vines are dead. I've got about a dozen squash for the fall/winter.

Local Wildlife
The spider in the front flower bed.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Home Smelly Home

My house is smelly this evening. (It wasn't smelly this morning that I noticed.) It's a combination of sweaty socks, dirty diapers and rotting produce and seems to be strongest in the kitchen and living room. I have been unable to identify the source of the smell. There isn't any abandoned food in the living room. The trash doesn't smell. The sink drains don't smell. There isn't any spoiled food in the kitchen that I can find. I don't know where it's coming from. I guess I'll be pulling the furniture away from the walls and looking, then cleaning behind it while making a concerted effort to find the source of the smellies. I should probably go up in the attic and look for holes in the A/C duct work too, just in case a mouse got into a duct and died.

Why Gossiping Bothers Me
For starters, I think it serves no constructive purpose to talk about other people in a non-positive way or to spread rumors. The other reason is that it's meddling in other people's lives. If Coworker B wanted boss lady to know that she was in the hospital this week, Coworker B could have called her and told her. If Coworker M wanted the entire building to know that his wife was cheating on him, with whom she was sleeping and all the other gory details, he can tell the building himself. I am of the opinion that information like that should be relayed ONLY by the persons it directly involves, unless explicitly stated otherwise. I am NOT a fan of people taking it upon themselves to repeat anything and everything that they overhear.

Instead there was a steady stream of people coming to speak with Miss Judgmental and/or Coworker D to find out the latest gossip about who M was calling with regard to his divorce and what he was saying. Miss Judgmental actually took to standing outside M's office door to find out who he was talking with and about what, which was immediately followed by repeating everything to other people and then adding a running commentary on what should really be done. I really don't get it. Perhaps she just needs to be the center of attention and chose to get there by disrespecting M's privacy and being generally disrespectful of him by declaring where he'd gone wrong in his marriage and why Mrs. M was a bad choice too. I'm beginning to think Miss J is virtually incapable of NOT speaking ill of everyone around her as she is of not using her Lord's name in vain. (Every time something she doesn't like happens, it's "Jesus" this and "Jesus" that.) I find these two traits to be rather contradictory to her assertion that she's a good and devout Christian, but I am absolutely certain that her deity of choice will sort that out with her when they meet.

Since she was told to not call boss lady, Miss Judgemental was hoping to force a phone call *from* boss lady by having me send an office photo to boss lady's cell phone. Unfortunately there was a "network failure" in this plan. Miss J ended up calling boss lady toward the end of the day. I imagine the phone accidentally dialed the number. She claims to have told boss lady that all of us wanted to keep all the information from boss lady and she was the only one who wanted to tell boss lady anything. Miss Judgmental is now gloating that she's the only one not in trouble and the rest of us are going to "get a beating". Coworker A and I agree that we'd do exactly the same thing again and that boss lady will get over it. Everybody but Miss Judgmental shares that opinion, actually. I figure boss lady can just worry double time to make up for the days she missed. I stand by the opinion that worrying about something you cannot change does NOTHING productive or constructive, especially when you are trying to relax on vacation. Divorces and medical problems will continue on at their own pace regardless of worrying. Boss lady had enough stress over the previous two weeks without having stuff from work dropped on her. Furthermore, if she really wanted to know how things were going here, she's fully capable of calling and finding out.

This incident has, however, caused me to realize why, after living here for exactly one year, I have no friends in this area and have no particular interest in being friends with anybody I have met. It's a matter of trust. I cannot trust anybody to not repeat anything and everything I say. I am also fairly certain that since I moved 700+ miles *away* from my family, do not share all the details of my life outside of work, am not married, and do not view getting married and having children to be the only way my life can be fulfilling that I'm considered something of a misfit. I know there are probably rumors going round about me and my lifestyle as an independent single woman without a social life. I really don't care, as long as people do not use rumors to compromise my career. Fortunately most of the persons in any sort of power over me are not the petty type who would do that. Unfortunately there is one I do not trust in that regard, but I'm aware of the situation and keeping an eye on things. Sooner or later this person's bad behavior will bite them in the behind. Karma has a habit of taking care of itself.

On Behavior
On the radio this morning I heard that a grade school boy somewhere was suspended from school for using a chicken strip as a gun and making shooting motions/noises at his fellow schoolmates. The DJs commented that this was absurd because you can't keep kids from playing shooting games and related a story about his kids not having toy guns but still shooting each other with brooms, fingers, etc. I think the problem is not necessarily that the kids were playing at shooting each other, but that they were doing it IN the school. There are many behaviors which are perfectly acceptable in some settings but completely inappropriate in others. It's relatively normal for baseball and football players to adjust their genitalia while playing their respective games. This would be considered inappropriate in public in most non-sports settings. Having sex on my kitchen table in the privacy of my own home is acceptable. Having sex on the same table in the middle of a busy restaurant would probably get us arrested. My beating the snot out of someone on the street is likely to also get me arrested. Beating someone up in the confines of a boxing ring is perfectly acceptable. It's all a matter of choosing the right setting for the right behavior. With the history of school shootings, I would expect most school staff to not be particularly happy about even simulated shooting with a chicken strip.

I wonder how hard it is to teach the critical thinking to get kids to think about their behaviors and where they perform them. Are kids learning *why* something might be a less optimal choice or are they just being told to do or not do it? Do they just get punished for the wrong behavior or do they also get an explanation of how/why things were wrong and why they're being punished? Of course thinking critically is harder to do than blind following, but its an immensely valuable skill that is useful for many more things than keeping oneself out of detention. Mind you, critical thinking can also get you in trouble when you question how/why things are done. Lots of folks dislike discovering they have no idea why X is the method of choice when you ask them why or when you present them with evidence that Y is a better method. The latter seems to imply to them that they've been "screwing up" for as long as they've done X, which may not actually be true. On the other hand, I do get to humor my inner three year old by continuing to ask "why?" nearly every day of my life and I have learned many many things by looking for answers.

Heating Up
It was 100+ again today. It will be 100+ tomorrow. Football season started for the high schools tonight. I hope they don't kill anybody. The health commissioner issued a press release about heat emergencies and staying safe during the heat wave. It doesn't appear that the state high school sports association has a written rule to suspend games or practice during periods of extreme heat. I believe there is a rule regarding the scheduling of practice to avoid the hottest parts of the day, but in today's conference call for PIOs it sounded like things were mostly left up to "the good judgment of the coaches and school staff", which leads me to believe the person who wrote the guidelines has little experience with high school football coaches. These folks are absolutely RABID about their game and season. Remember, when we were in high school, it was always 100+ degrees and we didn't' have air conditioning AND we had to walk 10 miles uphill both ways just to get to practice on a hard, rocky field with no grass and no water. :o)

Staying Cool
I'm presently drinking a big bottle of water and watching The Fellowship of the Ring on TNT. I dislike watching the edited version of the Lord of the Rings movies and dislike watching the full screen version even more, so I will shortly get up and throw in the DVD to get the full effect. I'm also going to haul out the Mystery Stole and see if I can add an inch or two this evening. I should plan out tomorrow's errands while I'm at it. I have to make a trip to the post office. I've been successfully selling off books on Amazon this past week, including some rather pricey textbooks and some other books I'd always meant to read but have never gotten around to starting or finishing. Today I sold my copy of Mallory's Tales of King Arthur. I was supposed to have read it in 7th grade for an Arthurian Legend summer course. I don't think I ever finished it. Given that I haven't even opened it in at least ten years, I think it's safe to sell it even if I do keep saying I'm going to read it "real soon now".

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Aggravation

Aggravation Number 1: The workout
My two a day workout plan has a hiccup. For starters my seat bones are a bit too sore for that much cycling, though I expect that to pass soon. I've also been too exhausted either in the morning or in the evening to workout, but at least I've managed a single workout most days. In any event, I don't think I'm working quite hard enough. I'd like to feel like I've worked out for at least an hour or two afterward. That's just not happening. I'd like to think that's because I'm in better shape than I think I'm in, but the realist in me suspects I'm just not working hard enough or long enough. Tomorrow I'll get out the workout DVDs and give the old seat bones a break.

I was reminded today that I do have time to workout daily if I would just *make* the time for it. If being fit is truly a priority, I will find a way to make it fit and I need to stop worrying about what the neighbors might think if/when I haul my not-so-fit body out onto the road for a walk or run. I can find time to check e-mail before and after work, I can find time to blog, I can find time to hit the snooze button, etc. If I can find time for those things, I can find time to workout. People find time for the things which are important to them. A year from now I would much rather be able to talk about the improvements in my fitness level than about the extra time I spent in front of the TV or on the computer. Certainly there will be time for watching TV when I am no longer physically able to run around and do fun stuff. Besides, TV is all about living vicariously. I'd rather live in reality. It may not be glamorous and it may be full of outtakes, but it's real life.

Aggravation Number 2: The Leaky Christmas Present
When I was in New Orleans last month I picked up a jar of olive salad for muffaletta samiches. It wasn't the olive dressing from Central Grocery, but it was a comparable product safely packaged in a glass jar. The clerk at the shop carefully wrapped the jar in paper for traveling and I was able to transport it back to my house without incident. I stored the jar in the spare bedroom where the presents for this year are slowly gathering. (Conveniently this is also the bedroom where the gift boxes and wrapping paper are stored.) Last night I discovered that the jar had been stored on its side and had leaked olive oil into the paper wrapping the jar. Fortunately the bag the jar was in was plastic so the leakage was contained. I took the jar to the kitchen to clean it up and that was when I noticed the bulge. Not my bulge, thank you very much, but the bulge in the jar lid. Just an ever so slight doming to the lid. I wasn't even completely convinced it was even there, so I opened the jar and was greeted with a burst of pressure from *within* the jar. This is not good behavior for a jar of food.

I had already concluded that the seal to the jar must have been compromised somehow since the olive oil had oozed out. Now it appears that there may be some sort of microbial activity in the jar that resulted in increased pressure in the jar. There are a few things which would cause this, the most notable of which is botulism. Given that the olive salad is stored in olive oil, which makes a lovely anaerobic environment, botulism would make some sense. I could take some to the lab at work, but I don't know that it would yield anything useful. There probably wouldn't have been a problem if I hadn't stored the jar on its side and the seal hadn't become compromised. That jar has been at room temperature for a month growing whatever it wanted. Right now it's sitting in the refrigerator, but I'm definitely not going to be eating anything from it.

Dang it. Now I'm back to ZERO Christmas presents figured out. And I was really looking forward to having a sammich with the olive salad too.

Aggravation Number 3: Gossip Runs Amok
Yesterday, one of my few male coworkers announced that he's getting a divorce. Coworker M(ale)'s wife apparently has been unfaithful for some time. The result at the office is that all the female coworkers have how made M and his estranged wife the only subject of conversation. I could understand if they were expressing concern about M and how he's coping. They're not. They're doing the Monday morning quarterbacking and deciding what he should be doing now, how the marriage should have been run all along and how they all knew that something was going on for years. They knew this because a) there had been rumors for some time, b) all rumors are mostly true and c) nobody would ever spread a rumor that wasn't true. Riiiiiight. And everything printed in People, In Touch and the other tabloids is true. What I find particularly aggravating is that these same coworkers are all kinds of upset about people elsewhere in their lives spreading rumors and gossip about them, but seem to be unable to notice they are doing the same thing. It really makes me want to start a rumor about myself and a fictitious girlfriend in New York, with perhaps a boyfriend somewhere else. Just to see what they do and say, except that it wouldn't be nice or particularly ethical to use them (the coworkers, not the imaginary significant others) for my entertainment purposes.

Personally, I think it's A) nobody's business how someone's marriage is being run but the persons IN that marriage and B) just flat out disrespectful to gossip about people. If the people in the marriage are ok with it, what other opinion matters? Everybody else needs to get their head out of it and focus on their own crap instead of being judgmental about someone else's life. If a non-standard, non-traditional marriage works for a couple, isn't that *their* business? Why must marriage fit a single strict definition and who chooses that definition anyway? Frankly I don't know what sort of marriage that M and Mrs. M had and I really don't care. What matters is that it's over now and M is having to deal with going through a divorce. This is going to be stressful for him no matter what. I think it would be nice if the response at the office wasn't telling him that Mrs. M is a bad person or other negative things. Let's remember, while you, I and everybody else may think that Mrs. M is the worst person on the planet, M himself did, until this week pledge himself to her and had a very different opinion. If everybody else tells him that she's horrible, wouldn't that indicate that he was stupid for choosing her in the first place? I know I never found such commentary particular supportive or comforting or helpful.

Since the boss lady is away this week, the lunch hour has been turned into 90 minutes by most of my co-workers: one hour out at lunch followed by 30 minutes of sitting in the break room. I don't mean to be anti-social, but I don't care to join in the gossiping and sitting in there during lunch just ticks me off, which isn't good for anybody. So I have my lunch quickly and quietly in the corner of the break room, avoiding conversation as much as possible, and returning to my desk as soon as my meal is finished or I eat in the car in the parking lot or while out and about. I don't care to participate in the gossiping and I don't particularly care to be present when gossiping is taking place either. It serves no constructive purpose and certainly isn't being supportive in any way. It makes me crabby to hear it, so I just avoid it as much as possible. They can talk about whatever they want. I just don't have to listen to it.

Hmmmmm....
The Glad Company (makers of Glad Wrap, etc) now makes microwave wrap or microwave bags. So you can easily and quickly steam things in the microwave. I only watched a commercial about this product, but I cannot think of a single thing this product does that I cannot accomplish with a lidded glass bowl and a bit of water. Well, nothing other than perhaps surviving being dropped on the floor without breaking and getting glass all over. That is a very desirable feature, but is not my first consideration in cooking vegetables in the microwave.

Crockpot Soup Mix
I found some crockpot soup mixes at the store today. For three to four dollars, I can make 5-6 servings of soup with very little effort over 8-10 hours. The mixes appeared to be the dried beans and seasoning packets. Various other ingredients are added at the beginning or end of the cooking process. I cannot, of course, remember the exact titles, but there was something which was cajun and some regular bean soup. There might have been a chili mix too. It's not the same brand that I'm used to seeing, but it looks good and isn't particularly high in sodium. Rather than being in the soup aisle, I found this stuff in with the Hamburger Helper and other packaged meals. I might get a package this fall once the weather turns cool. It seems like it would be easy enough to duplicate the soups at a much lower cost, but I may try it anyway.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Sweating All Over

Sweating All Over
And not just because of the heat!! I got my bahookie up on my bicycle today for a 35 minute workout. I believe I have discovered the key to staying motivated on the trainer. Tonight I set a timer for 40 minutes and got to pedalling. I also flipped the TV to Turner Classic Movies, which has no commercials, so I couldn't really tell how quickly or slowly time was passing. It was good. I'll do it again tomorrow. Surprisingly my seat bones didn't complain a bit until the end. I'll do it again tomorrow. I'm at a point now where I think it's time for two-a-day workouts. It might be cool enough in the mornings now for walking/running. Then I can get in some extra work on the trainer at night. And *still* have time to knit too!

Squash! Squash! Squash!
I'm slowly accumulating acorn squash for the fall/winter. I might have enough to eat one a week for the whole winter! I'll have to start looking up recipes. Right now about all I know to do with winter squash is roast it and then either eat it in chunks or puree it. I'm sure there's more to do with it than that.

I Feel Bad About My Neck
Actually, I don't, but Nora Ephron feels bad about hers. This book is a collection of essays on various subjects including fashion, real estate and cooking. I am greatly amused by her sense of humor. It's a rather cynical and dry approach that is reminiscent of Dave Barry, Andy Rooney and myself. There's a good bit of philosophy in the book too that I'll have to write down and ponder. I'm also inspired to write a bit more since, after all, it's all narrative.

Where Have the Hats Gone?
I've been watching 1940s and 1950s era films lately. Women used to have a vast assortment of hats apparently. I can't imagine the size of the storage area necessary to store a hat wardrobe. I thought I didn't have enough closet space and I haven't got any hats, other than some baseball caps. Just why did hats go out of style anyway? Was it because the closet space became taken up by other things? If everything that was one in style comes back at some point, how did hats miss their turn? They certainly haven't been in style since I was born, though plenty of other less attractive things have come back around. I'm not sure I could manage a hat myself. I have a hard enough time managing my hair and I don't do a terribly good job of it most of the time. Of course, at the moment I really need a haircut, which makes it even more difficult to manage.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

RAIN!!!!

It finally got around to raining tonight. Rain the temperature of bathwater. Just barely enough to wet the deck surface and now the deck is nearly dry again. Hopefully it will soak into the ground overnight so that the air won't be super humidified. We might get lucky and have the temperature drop a bit too. We cheered last week when the temperature was down to only 95 degrees. Today the temperature was up to 108 again with a heat index approaching 115.

No Shoe Joy
I bought new shoes last week. I needed a new pair of light hikers, which I wear to work most of the year and everywhere else. I also got a new pair of running shoes so I could get them broken in before the race in October. This was an excellent plan and I got a fantastic price. I loved the shoes too. Except that they were both too small. Just walking up and down the hallway got the toes of my right foot up against the end of my shoe. Definitely not going to be a shoe I can wear in the race. I'd lose my toenail before the end of the race.

Quote of the Day
From the TV show Army Wives, "Did we all lose the directions to the 'high road'?" referring to some of the Army wives with respect to their spiteful gossiping. It's just the perfect thing to say when there is a group of people behaving badly. I'll add it to my list.

It Really Doesn't Work That Way
I don't know what the show is, but they just defibrillated some girl on the SciFi channel. She'd been pronounced dead when she reached out and grabbed a guy's arm. So he tells the doctor to shock her while she's holding onto his arm. Nobody checks her pulse at all first. As often happens, she's shocked three times and miraculously regains consciousness. And the dude doesn't get shocked at all. I know two medical staff who have been in physical contact with a patient who got shocked and they really recommend NOT doing that for two reasons: It hurts and there's a risk of goofing up the electrical activity in your heart too.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Miscellaneous Rantings

Remember the Utah mine collapse workers who were reassigned after expressing concerns about the safety of the rescue workers due to mine instability? Guess what! They were right. There was a collapse overnight that killed three of the rescue workers and injured six others. Perhaps the rescue operation from inside the mine will be re-thought.

Jose Padilla was convicted of conspiracy to commit terrorism overseas. This is being trumpeted as a triumph of the Justice Department because "an acquittal would have been a profound embarrassment". I suppose there is some truth in that. It would have been incredibly embarrassing had the Justice Department been incapable of winning after stacking the deck in their favor. Despite having Constitutional rights, Mr. Padilla was held without charge for over three years and was not given access to legal representation even during questioning. His statements that he was abused and interrogated unlawfully were ignored. Apparently he doesn't have sufficiently rich and powerful friends for his rights to be upheld. Alas he is but a former gang member who converted to Islam and traveled to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq and Pakistan to further his Islamic studies.

He has been labeled a "known terrorist" by Attorney General John Ashcroft. (Presumably there is a Petersen's Guide to Identifying Terrorists or some other way to specify which humans are terrorists.) I even saw somewhere that Padilla a significant threat to national security because of his alleged funding of terrorist activity. What?! A guy without a college education or a regular job is posing a significant threat because of his ability to fund terrorist activity? Perhaps he won the lottery and is using the proceeds for that purpose. Even if the guy made $100K/year, do you really think that would be a significant contribution to the detriment of national security, upon which billions of dollars of tax money is being spent? Is our national security that insecure that Mr. Padilla is able to threaten it that easily? If that is truly the case, I think someone needs to be asking for a refund.

What ticks me off about the Padilla conviction is that the feds want to twist the military and civilian legal systems together and take only the pieces which are convenient and useful to them. They want to be able to hold someone as an enemy combatant so they can prevent legal representation and not have to charge detainees. Heck, they even tried to block the transfer to civilian court initially then decided that they wanted to try him in civilian court all along after the US Supreme Court stepped in. To me it's a bad precedent for handling persons that are embarrassing and/or can be used as scapegoats to justify Federal actions. Supposedly this individual posed a major threat to national security but the evidence against him has been described as "thin" and "deficient". Surely if this individual was known to be a major threat there would be some basis for that other than having lived in the middle east and being of the Islamic faith. It strikes me as being not completely unlike the McCarthy assaults on "communists" only now the enemy is "terrorists".

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Stupid Stupid Stupid!

What the h*ll would make a person think that setting off a Roman Candle underneath someone's door is a good idea? I'd like to think that college students were not complete morons, but I may be wrong. Of course alcohol was involved. The state's attorney has charged the surviving students with arson, not murder, though they say they could have charged the three with murder in the death of their roommate and fellow student after their house burned down. The reason for the lesser charge was that the SA's office doesn't believe they did it on purpose. Isn't that what the charge of manslaughter is for or the lesser murder charges? Instead they're going to "be nice" and let the kids get away with killing someone. Brilliant. I hope the parents of the deceased student bring civil charges.

Speaking of stupid legal proceedings, Judge "These Are Not My Pants" is appealing the decision against his $54 million lawsuit. Paperwork was filed at the beginning of the week. I hope they laugh at him and tell him to get over it and go buy more pants. He's definitely securing a spot for himself in the category of "More money than sense". People on power trips really bug me especially when the sole purpose for the power trip seems to be to make the lives of other people miserable. I can only imagine what sort of judge he is, given the current apparent lack of judgement. It does appear that he's at risk of losing his job now, so someone has been paying attention.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Which is Worse?

The fact that our current President has an advisor known as "Bush's Brain" and that presumably he's not smart enough on his own OR that even *with* "Bush's Brain" he manages to do remarkably unintelligent things, thus indicating that Mr. Rove isn't particularly effective in the role of Presidential Brain. Is it worse to have a brainless president or to have the president's hired brain be not-so-smart too. Surely you'd think the president's handlers could have hired someone better in for that job. Then again, the smart ones would either never accept the job or be too difficult to handle, being capable of independent thought, etc.

This is Gonna Irk Me
Rescuers digging for the buried miners have observed that the operation is not completely safe. They have pointed this situation out. So the mining company reassigns them to jobs elsewhere in the company and the dig goes on unchanged. This is gonna bite the mining company in the behind if they have another collapse in the face of ongoing seismic activity. Perhaps it's my background with EMS work, but you do NOT put the rescuers in danger trying to save people. What is the purpose in generating more victims? Not to mention the fact that it completely distracts the rescuers from the job at hand thus increasing their risk of injury and decreasing their effectiveness.

Oh, and there was a collapse in this same mine recently and that section was supposed to have been abandoned. Except that it's right next to the currently collapsed area and there's some question if the mining practices being used (mining the coal from the support pillars in anticipation of closing that area) should have been done in a potentially unstable zone.

Staff Meeting Today
This could be interesting. It's the first meeting with the new director. I'm waiting to see how she handles telling folks that I'm going to be the public information officer (PIO) for the smoking cessation program that is the state health commissioner's pet project. I also got handed a document yesterday on "Provisional Metrics for the Operational Definitions for Local Health Departments". It didn't actually have the metrics in it, but it did have the standards for the definitions. It looks like we'll be standardizing things across the state to meet an accreditation standard. Whatcha wanna bet I get to write a lot of the documentation? It's not exactly what I expected to do in this job and I don't have a lot of experience in it, but at least *someone* at my job understands that I am capable of doing more than data entry and is willing to let me do more.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Squash the Squash Bugs!

Well, I didn't squash any on purpose. I did, however, spray them heavily with insecticidal soap. I'm hoping they'll just decide to go hang out somewhere else. The zucchini plants are putting out more blossoms now. I'm hoping that the squash bugs will go away long enough that there will be another explosion of zucchini in a few weeks. Yummy!

The cucumbers, on the other hand, are just about finished. I may rip them up this weekend. I also need to mow down the lettuce and harvest more basil. I just had an idea to make basil-parmesan crackers. I have no recipe for this, but I'm sure I can find one that would work.

Owie!
The back of my head is sore today. It took me a while to figure out why. It's because I sat on my deck for two and a half hours last night resting my head on the top of the chair. Final score: a couple dozen meteors (including a big green one at the end), four planes and three satellites (might have been the same satellite two of those times). I think the street light out front probably obliterated at least some of the meteorites, but it was a whole lot more meteorite action that I've seen in the past several years.

The propping up of the head might also have contributed to my headache this morning. The half-caffeinated pot of coffee helped it go away.

Hotel Preston
I'm headed to a meeting at the Hotel Preston at the end of the month. At check-in, you can request one of the following: milk and cookies, an art kit, a lava lamp, a rubber duckie or a pet fish. I think I'll like this place. And I think I'll ask for a fish. Except for the lava lamp, I already have everything else.

More Tile Damage
Once again ice or debris has fallen off the shuttle during launch and damaged the tiles on the bottom of the orbiter. The crew was headed out for a look today. They may or may not have to fix the damage. This ongoing problem has me quite curious. Why is it that only in the past five years or so has there been a problem with ice falling off the external tank? Surely the tank was cold before that, being filled with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. Presumably it's no more humid in Florida, so the degree of condensation freezing on the tank should be the same. Why is it that only recently things have started falling off? What has changed? Why is ice/debris damage an issue on every launch now?

Of course, I'm also curious about possible alternatives for the heat shield other than ceramics. I understand the thermal qualities of ceramics make them wonderful for this application, but it's becoming apparent that the inherent fragility of at least the ceramic being used in the tiles is a problem. Perhaps the nice people from Corelle could be talked into paving the bottom of the orbiter with dinner plates. Or some sort of shield could be put on the orbiter's belly during launch and then removed/jettisoned in space, like NASA bubble wrap. The ISS residents could then pass the time by popping the bubbles.

One of Life's Mysteries....
What is the physiology behind the Brain Freeze from eating too much ice cream or other frozen goodies? I don't know. I'm sure I could look it up.

Three Bags Full Update
Remember the mystery I was reading? The one where the shepherd gets killed and the flock is going to solve the mystery? The sheep are putting the fear of God/Devil into "God" (the local priest) and the butcher. The sheep are a bit confused about a few things, but they're pretty on target for most things. Miss Maple is named Miss Maple because she would sneak up to the shepherd's trailer and lick the maple syrup off his toast, leaving just enough that he wouldn't notice he was missing some and being careful to not leave tongue marks. Of course there was one day when the coffee maker worked faster than expected and she got caught. He laughed and named her Miss Maple. Then there's Mopple the Whale. He's a very large ram. He's also the memory sheep. He remembers things. But he is not to be confused with Pudge who is a fish. He controls the weather.

The next book I'm going to read is A Book Addict's Treasury.

Shoo Fly, Quit Bothering Me
There is a fly buzzing my head in the living room. He's flying laps around the room and swerving to whiff my hair and face. I'm sure he's intentionally being annoying. Unlike the bat what whooshed past my face last night in the dark. Then again the fly doesn't carry rabies.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

An unfortunate quote from New Mexico Governor (and presidential candidate) Bill Richardson:
"You know I don't like to categorize people. I don't like to, like, answer definitions like that that, you know, perhaps are grounded in science or something else that I don't understand."

I'd like to think Gov. Richardson actually understands science, given that he was once Secretary of Energy, IIRC, but perhaps not. He did indicate that homosexuality is a choice rather than a matter of biology. Then again, perhaps he just didn't understand....

Something to do this weekend:
Watch the Perseid meteor shower. Conveniently, there is a new moon this weekend so the meteors will be even more visible. w00t! I got a big kick out of watching the launch of the space shuttle Endeavor the other day. There was some concern when expected computer errors did not appear. Finally everybody agreed it was ok and the countdown continued. I have decided that I will spend a day at the Kennedy Space Center next summer when I'm in Orlando for the RAD conference. Don't tell anybody, but I think it's almost more fun than going to Disneyworld.

Other weekend plans....

Frankly it's going to be too hot to do much outside. I might get in a swim in the morning. It's too hot to really workout outdoors other than to swim. Tonight is Vincent Price Night on Turner Classic Movies and features Edgar Allan Poe-derived movies, so I'll *have* to watch that. Tomorrow is Doris Day Day which is a nice foil to the darkness of tonight's line-up. Beyond that I really need to finish the revisions on two websites and get cracking on some knitting. Clue 6 for Mystery Stole 3 came out today and I'm only just starting Clue 2.

Given the recent extreme heat, I've not been doing much (read any) running outdoors. This is not good. I do think I will start putting in more time on my bicycle indoors since it's up on the trainer. If nothing else, that will help with my leg strength and cardiovascular capacity, even if it's not running. It's certainly better than nothing! I see no reason why I can't put in an hour on the bike a day, plus a bit of strength training on some of the days.

Yummy!
I am not the biggest fan of basil, though I always grow it when I have a garden. However, there's not much that brightens up some store-bought marinara sauce like chopped fresh basil. If only I had a bit of fresh oregano too... Perhaps next summer I'll have an herb garden next to the back door.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Apparently I am not the only one

who has taken a serious dislike to the vicious and violent tendencies on the message board I posted about yesterday. Today the owner of the board indicated that such behavior will not be tolerated any longer and that permanent bans *will* be handed out. This was precipitated by one board member making yet another threat to shoot, beat or kill anybody who disagreed with him. Someone else observed that such a reaction seemed a bit out of proportion. I commented that lately the board seemed to be particularly vitriolic and violent in tendencies. Several other people agreed. This was followed by the owner of the board stating that the attitudes would be changing. Of course, the primary purveyor of the violence later stated that he wasn't going to let anybody take control of the board. He also made a point of claiming ownership to the unborn child of a board member and threatened to use a Masai spear on her if she didn't hurry up and give birth. I don't care what sort of sense of humor you have--that's beyond distasteful.

Said jerk has now been warned for continued violent postings. (He had threatened to kick a guy's ass because the guy said he doesn't carry condoms at all times since he doesn't engage in random sex/hook-ups. This apparently was an unacceptable answer and the jerk MUST control everybody/everything, which he accomplishes by threatening everybody. I can only assume that he's horribly insecure.) My personal prediction is that jerk will be permanently banned by the end of tomorrow because he'll be completely unable to not threaten someone with death for failing to tie their shoes in the "correct" way.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Today's Complaint About Women

There was another discussion of how women are jerks on one of the boards I read today. Today the complaint is that women aren't nice enough when guys randomly hit on them. What I (and another person) wanted to know was why we're even expected to be available and interested in being hit upon? I do not personally own a shirt or a sign that reads "Hit on me now. I cannot stand to be alone." I do not go out to be hit on. In fact, I generally avoid going out because I don't care to have to deal with guys like that.

Here's another idea: if every time you approach a woman she shuts you down BEFORE you say anything to her, it's probably a safe bet that something you're doing is putting her off. We may just be idiot bitches, but we do notice if guys are making the circuit of the room hitting on all the females. That will land you in the creep/jerk category which, despite common belief of some males, is NOT desirable.

Furthermore, if a woman tells you "no" when you hit on her, this is NOT an invitation to enter into a debate with me while you attempt to prove that you are indeed the greatest thing in the world and a really nice guy. Note: If you insist on trying to persuade me to change my mind instead of respecting my decision, you are, by definition, a jerk and I *still* don't want to go out with you contrary to your theory that women only date jerks.

If you bitch about women judging all men based on the stupid actions of a few, use care when labelling all women idiots and bitches because a few of them do choose jerks and didn't choose you. I don't know about anybody else, but that seems a bit like judging all women based upon the actions of a few. And if you really dislike all women that much, why the heck are you continuing to hit on us and annoy us? Do you really need something to complain about that badly?

I've decided to quit reading the board. Several of the men on the board are a bunch of chauvinistic, sexist pigs. At least some of them believe that women cannot simply decline to have sex with their significant other, but must discuss it with the significant other and apparently make sure it's ok first. One individual went so far as to say that the woman can't refuse to have sex in a relationship because the relationship is about sex and if she won't have sex then the relationship is over. I refrained from speculating that this individual doesn't want a girlfriend, he wants a hooker. I can only wonder what sort of relationship he does have with his girlfriend. Given the temper he has demonstrated and threats of bodily harm to others, I wouldn't be surprised if coercion was involved. In any event, the women who attempt to point out that the repeated failures of "all" men are not because all women are just jerks aren't taken seriously. If you demand to be treated well, you might consider treating women well too. You might think you're a nice guy, but you are at least on the board behaving like a complete jerk and a misogynist, despite your claims to the contrary.

Guys who think they're somehow "entitled" to a chance with me just because I'm a woman and they're a man piss me off.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Resume Away!

I was a good girl and sent my resume off for the ORISE jobs last night. Yay! Next will be to fill out the CDC application for their Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) program. The application is due 9/15. I'll e-mail out the requests for letters of recommendation tomorrow. I mentioned that I'm applying for an EIS job to our state's most recent EIS officer. He thought it was a great idea that I am applying and told me to call if I needed anything in the process.

Tonight's Movie
Bullitt. It's not too far along yet. I haven't missed the fabulous car chase yet in which the little VW beetle gets passed about six times and in which one of the vehicles loses five hubcaps.

Food Fun!
I've got a sink full of basil leaves from the garden. Literally. I'm soaking them at the moment to float off the bugs. Then I'll blot them dry and turn a third of them into pesto and freeze the rest.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Outbreak! Outbreak! Outbreak!

There are two botulism issues now. Canned green beans were recalled last week due to improper processing which may have resulted in a risk of botulism. So far there have been no cases of disease attributed to the green beans. Previously there were recalls of chili sauce and other products which have been associated with at least four human cases of botulism.

The third outbreak is the re-appearance of foot and mouth disease in the UK. Many agricultural exports from the UK have been cut off in hopes of preventing the spread of disease. Right now the cases seem to be restricted to a single farm and to cattle. Last time it spread across the country due to the movement of sheep to grazing pasture. Hopefully there won't be the need for the wholesale slaughter of thousands of animals this time.

Tonight's Movie
The Bridge on the River Kwai. Alec Guinness was a handsome man and William Holden isn't anything to sneeze at either.

Leaky Pool Fixed!

The hose itself wasn't leaking after all. Rather it seems that the hose had slipped enough that the connection was leaking. I put the hose back together properly and re-tightened the hose clamp. Now the water level is back to where it should be and I've given the floor a good vacuum.

Speaking of pool things...one of the chemistry measurements I take is total alkalinity. If the alkalinity falls too low, the pH will fluctuate rapidly with the addition of chemicals. With sufficient alkalinity, the pH changes are buffered. Alkalinity is increased through the addition of sodium bicarbonate or baking soda. I can buy "Alkalinity Increaser", which is 100% bicarb for about $4/pound. I can buy baking soda, which is 100% bicarb, for $0.43/pound. Guess which one I bought. :o) Had a nice float around in the pool today too.

New Website Management Gig

I was sent a link to the Antique Pattern Library in a message from one of the knitting lists. I noticed that several of the links in their website are broken, so I joined the Yahoogroup associated with the library to get access to an e-mail address to report the problems. I happened to mention that I could actually fix the errors for them if they needed the assistance. Sure enough, Judith said they were rather desperate for an HTML person and asked if she could send me the files. I'll fix the broken/wrong links right away and then look at re-designing the site to make it more user friendly and better organized. W00t! Which reminds me, I really need to get the website for my web development company built....

Friday, August 03, 2007

WEEKEND!!!

It wasn't a particularly bad week, but it sure feels good to be at the weekend.

Where is the water going?!
I know, I know!! There's a leak in the hose that runs from the skimmer to the pump. So the pool drains itself to the level of the bottom of the skimmer opening. I'll tear that apart tomorrow. I don't know if the connection is leaky or if there's a hole in the hose. In any event, ain't no point in trying to put more water in the pool if it won't stay there.

The Usual Suspects
It's another fun packed errand weekend! I'll mow the front yard and really will get the weed whacker out this time. I did get the flower beds weeded and watered tonight. I even cut back the coreopsis. I've got a hundred baby daisy plants coming up in the north bed. I'll have to transplant them in a couple of weeks. They're too small right now. There are plenty of coreopsis to move too. I wonder if they'd live in the poison ivy corner. Nothing else seems to do very well there.

I'm good on groceries this week, but I'll have the normal amount of laundry and cleaning. I've also decided to start documenting expenditures in QUicken. I had started that before I moved, but got sidetracked and then put it off for a while. Now I'll just call August 1st the start of my fiscal year and start anew, instead of trying to fill in the past 12 months.

For a reward, I'll probably go see a movie on Sunday. I don't know which one, but something. The Goodwill store is having a 50% off sale this weekend too so I might have to stop by and see what they've got.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Newsflash!!!

The collapse of the Interstate Highway bridge in Minneapolis was due to (insert drumroll here).....
"structural failure". Gee. Really? I'd have never guessed. I'm sure Godzilla is pleased to know this won't be pinned on him.

It sounds like there are 20-30 persons still missing. Divers got called off today because the current was too strong and shifting debris was putting rescuers in danger. Not good.

There was some confusion about how many persons died. I heard up to 9 deaths. This morning the official count was brought down to 4 as the coroner only had 4 sets of remains. Apparently the various agencies working at the scene ended up double counting and the incorrectly inflated figures were reported. No doubt the number will rise as the recovery continues.

A difficult question:
How bad does something have to be before it gets fixed? This bridge was documented as being "structurally deficient" some time ago, but wasn't slated for replacement until 2020. I'm guessing that there will be a dramatic overhaul of the system shortly. Once again, a reactionary approach to things. I would like to see the government become proactive about some things, but I'm not sure that will ever happen. I guess it's just not cool enough or sexy enough to fix things before they're broken.

Another difficult question:
If the feds can miraculously come up with millions of dollars to fix everything, can they shuffle $100K to me to pay off most of my student loans? It's probably not a large enough sum of money for the feds to bother. I could tack on my mortgage and other debt, but that would be greedy. I find it interesting that there isn't money for repairing or maintaining infrastructure or for higher education or other useful programs, but if there's a disaster (or a war or both) there is miraculously money available and in large amounts. We're shooting ourselves in the foot folks. Trying to fix things after they've already broken is a losing proposition. It's not nearly as glamorous to just keep up with the maintenance. New building projects are much more visible and have more naming options available. The bridge that collapsed was 40 years old. The steam tunnel that burst in New York City a few weeks ago was closer to 100 years old. How old are the pipes carrying your tap water? Do they contain lead? Do they allow substances to leach into the water on the way to your house? How many other bridges need repair? Just how does the magic money system work? I'm really curious about that. I'm not begrudging the distribution of federal money in the case of disaster or emergency, just that there's never any money for the regular every day stuff.

Reduced Productivity
My little list of productive things to do last night didn't happen. I discovered that I made a boo-boo in my knitting. Two or three rows ago. So I have to rip it back one stitch at a time. Sigh. I might be back to where I was yesterday by the end of the night.

I also didn't get my updated resume sent off, though I did compose the update on my current job in my head. I need to go over the projects which are available and get that sent in. I also need to get my CDC EIS application underway.

On the other hand, I did get my meals planned for the next two weeks. I don't even need to buy groceries, just a few odds and ends. I like that!!!