Saturday, September 29, 2007

On the Road Again....

This is the view from the blog today. I'm hanging out on the south patio of the Illini Union this morning.

I can hear the announcer from the football game very clearly which is cool. We're playing Penn State. A little while ago, the Illini scored a touchdown off a 90 yard punt return. Hopefully they won't choke later in the game.

It is UI Foundation weekend in Champaign-Urbana. This morning as I parked my car and walked across campus, I decided that within the next ten years I am going to make and then donate enough money to the University that they'll invite me to Foundation Weekend. I've provided medical support at enough of their banquets and meetings, that it only seems fair that I would eventually get to be on the other side of the Foundation activities. I'm going to have to get those books written. I have a mental outline for two of them and ideas for a third. Time to stop putting off the actual writing. My favorite quote from James Thurber has been repeating itself in my head in the past few weeks...."Don't get it right, just get it written."

So, why is it that I feel the need to give more money to the University? Habit, I guess. I have spent 15 years paying tuition and fees to this silly place. I think it does a decent job of fostering intellectual pursuits. I think there are more things it could do. To my knowledge, the theater in Lincoln Hall *still* hasn't been renovated, despite half of the money being earmarked by the state legislature. I remember seeing pieces of paint and plaster fall from the ceiling during class. The seats were all lumpy. The plaster work was gorgeous, but definitley in disrepair. I think it really is time to fix that and keep up with some existing infrastructure updates instead of pushing all the big expenditures into new construction. Biotech is important, but the bread and butter of this institution is the provision of undergraduate education. Undergraduate tuition and fees are a tremendous boost to the bottom line. Let's not overlook the needs of that population and their right to decent facilities for educational purposes. Perhaps in addition to the 1% for art budgetary delineation with new construction, there should also be a 1% for existing infrastructure renovation movement. Now that "Chief Illiniwek" has been retired as a symbol of the University, I've got no aversion to giving back to the University.

What I Miss about C-U
The emphasis on academic pursuits and the de-emphasis on the accoutrements. Nobody here blinks an eye if you aren't wearing full makeup and hair. About a third of the adults are "birkenstock people". Recycling is normal, not freaky. Vegetarianism/veganism is normal, not a defect. There is no pressure to have status items and show everybody around you how much better/richer you are. That is not to say that there aren't some very rich people here, but there is most definitely not a society page in the local newspaper, much less an independent "Society Newspaper" as there is in Jackson. Conformity is absolutely ok here, but non-conformity is expected in a much larger proportion of the population. Nobody is particularly hidebound in their thinking. Critical thinking is expected and encouraged. Don't just question authority, question everything. Don't just be a blind follower of the herd, think about what the herd is doing, where it's going and why. If you don't think the herd is going in the right direction, saying something doesn't get met with hostility and strong opposition. The entire herd may not change direction, but there are usually a few who will try something new and you certainly won't be denigrated for trying or even failing. Cultural and ethnic minorities are accepted here. They aren't "dot-heads" or "rag heads" or other equally unkind and rude names. Quirky isn't something to be ridiculed. Diversity is not scary, nor is it a threat to the status quo. It's just different.

With regard to activities and things to do, I miss walking on campus. I miss the museums (Spurlock Museum, Natural History Museum, Krannert Art Museum--the 3rd largest art museum in the state after the Art Institute and the Museum of Contemporary Art). I miss the concerts and cultural events at the Krannert Center for Performing Arts. Over the years I have seen Yo-Yo Ma (three times), Jean-Pierre Rampal, Pinchas Zucherman, Midori, Kiri Te Kanawa, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Kodo, STOMP!, Cirque Eloize, the Berlin Ballet, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic, Bobby McFerrin, a Chinese acrobatic/circus group, several operas, several plays and performances by dance graduate students.

Believe it or not, the Yo-Yo Ma concert sold out within 30 minutes of the tickets going on sale. I have sat in the front row and seen him play with Emanuel Ax. (My friend Carol and I got winked at as he exited the stage). I have sat in the very back row of the balcony. Neither was a bad seat. The acoustics of the Foellinger Great Hall are incredible. Incredible enough that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has recorded here. This venue is apparently sufficiently desirable that when Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax did their first tour, they completely bypassed Chicago and St. Louis to play Champaign.

On the academic front, I have seen lectures by three Nobel Prize winners, one of whom was a current faculty member, the late Dr. Paul Lauterbur. Dr. Lauterbur is the father of the MRI and figured out how to excite a person's hydrogen atoms to generate useful imagery. I had lunch with a second Nobel Prize winner. I miss the public lectures as part of the Millercom Series and the other lectures offered through various departmental seminars and other University-sponsored presentations. I remember listening to a grandson of Mohandis Gandhi talk about growing up in India. I remember listening to Terry Waite talk about his captivity and how he learned "creative solitude" as a result of >1200 days in solitary confinement. There were many others, just in the Millercom Presentations.

Overheard conversation of the morning: the technical changes in guitar playing that led to the emergence of rock and roll from the blues genre and the eventual emergence of goth music and culture. The same two people then started discussing the impact of the London School of Economics on US economic policy in the past 40 years.

I definitely need to be living in a more liberal and more academically/culturally rich environment than the one in which I currently reside. Time to plan how I will overthrow the world and move on to an environment which is a better fit for me.

In the meantime, I'm headed off to knit with Matthew and the gang at Needleworks for a while before going to the Pro Ambulance 20th Anniversary Reception.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


I saw Eastern Promises earlier today. I highly recommend it. Yes, it's violent. Yes, there's a fight scene involving a naked Viggo Mortensen. It's still a darn good movie. Given that the plot centers around Russian organized crime culture in London and trafficking in humans, one might expect it to be somewhat violent. Given that Mr. Mortensen's character, Nikolai, happened to be in a steam room at the time he was attacked by two guys with knives, it might be expected that said character would attempt to fight for his life with both hands, not with just one hand while the other held up his towel. To be honest, I was more focused on the fight itself than on any nakedness. I did notice Mr. Mortensen's Lord of the Rings fellowship tattoo on his left deltoid and that he's in pretty good shape, but that's about it. It's not that I wasn't interested in looking, I just got caught up in the movie, which is a sure sign of a good film.

I was happy to see that Nikolai had some redeeming qualities in the end and wasn't nearly as creepy in the film as he was in the trailers. Now I won't have to struggle to reconcile the creepiness/violence of Nikolai with the inherent nobility and "goodness" of Aragorn. Frankly, as I sit here and watch Return of the King, I'm having a hard time seeing Nikolai at all when looking at Mr. Mortensen as Aragorn. He does such a great job of immersing himself in a given character, I think it's hard to picture him as other characters during any given film.

Tonight's Entertainment:

I need to workout. I really really do. I hardly got out of the house today. I didn't get to the lawn mowing part after the movie since it looked like rain was imminent. There will be time for that tomorrow, even if I have to mow in the rain. I finally got the laundry started, so will have to attend to that periodically. I am nearly done with the body of the Mystery Stole, but appear to have a bit of a boo-boo in one of the last rows of the border before the wing. I ought to pick that out tonight and fix it. A bit of diet Pepsi has fixed my headache for the evening.

So, do you have a moment of silence...

when a mime dies? Marcel Marceau died over the weekend. Alice Ghostley died earlier in the week. She was always delightful when she was on Bewitched and on Designing Women. I'll have to go back and look for her in the various films she did, To Kill a Mockingbird and With Six You Get Eggroll, to name two of them.

Today's Big Plan

Vacuum, do laundry (and maybe even fold it!), wash and put away the dishes, go see Eastern Promises and mow the lawn. I may or may not transplant some of the coreopsis to the poison ivy corner. I'll be gone part of the week, so won't be able to water them like they probably should be watered. I'd rather not move them if I'm just going to kill them by not watering them well.

I've been putting projects and yarns into the my Ravelry account but I don't know how much I'm going to use it. It seems like it would just cut into my knitting time and other fun time.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Balancing Productivity and Relaxation

I got off to a quick start this morning with an early breakfast, spraying the weeds in the backyard, repairing the pool filter and weeding/cleaning up one of the front flower beds. Then I got tired, returned some phone calls and caught up on e-mail. I took a couple of breaks, then patched the leaks in the pool (the water wasn't as cold as I thought it would be), fixed a bit of dinner and started the laundry. Tomorrow I'll mow the lawn (and get out the weed whacker) and maybe wash the car.

The car washing is a maybe since it's supposed to rain half of next week, but it really does need to be washed and waxed too. I'll probably just do it anyway. I know it's crazy, but waxing my car is relatively soothing as an activity and not a bad upper body workout. I have yet to be successful in not hearing "wax on, wax off" at some point in the process.

This evening, I'm watching Chaplin's Great Dictator and knitting. It's not quite 8pm and I'm ready to go to bed. It doesn't really seem like I did enough work to be this tired, but there you have it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

"Flaming Sinuses!"

Yes, that's my adaptation of "Flaming Death!" from A Bug's Life. You see, I got a new supply of wasabi peas last weekend when I was in Memphis. This batch is considerably zippier than the previous batch which I just finished on Monday. Silly me, I blithely grabbed half a dozen peas and dumped them in my mouth. About two crunches later the fumes entered my nasopharynx, burning away anything and everything that might have been growing up there, including at least some of the epithelial cells, from the feeling of things.

The nice thing about wasabi and wasabi peas is that the burning stops once you swallow. It's not like chili peppers where the burning mouth continues after you've swallowed or spit out the chili containing substances. Of course, the chili/hot pepper burn doesn't seem to produce fumes either, though it does cause more runny nose effects.

The other nice thing about wasabi peas is that for a crunchy afternoon snack, it's definitely something that nobody is likely to swipe off your desk if left unattended. Wasabi peas are rather unassuming little things, but not overly attractive or easily recognizable as something "good". Most folks won't touch them once you do tell them what they are either. So I can offer to share and rest assured that nobody will take me up on the offer. Which leaves more for ME ME ME ME ME!!! And my sinuses.

Professionalism? What's that?

I'm sorry, but announcing to the office that a co-worker is "getting fingered" at lunch (she's having a Pap test tomorrow) is about as far from professional as it gets. It was done for the sole purpose of embarrassing the daylights out of the co-worker going for the test. And done by the co-worker who complained about the clinic doc having a bad day earlier in the week because she thought *he* was being unprofessional by being grumpy. First, I found it unnecessary for co-worker 1 to announce co-worker 2's upcoming test. (Note to self: do not tell anybody at work if you're going to a medical appointment.) Second, this particular announcement was made in terms chosen for the sole purpose of causing embarrassment and discomfort to co-worker 2, which I find to be unpleasant entertainment.

Thank goodness for my iPod. It enables me to block out the extraneous stuff I don't want to hear. (On an amusing note, I caught the regional director listening to her new iPod nano the other day. I didn't think to ask her to what she was listening. There are four of us who are regularly listening to iPods/MP3 players. Two of the four are big fans of audiobooks. I either listen to audiobooks or podcasts, rarely music at work.)

Brain Dead
I'm just exhausted today. I think it was all the data cleaning. I have had a quick shower to loosen up some extra tight neck/shoulder muscles. I'm going to make a pot of hot tea and knit the rest of the evening. I haven't decided if I want to try working on the mystery stole or if I want to go for something simple like the beaded rib socks. Much less risk of making a boo-boo in the latter.

Today's Random Quote:
Immature love says: 'I love you because I need you.'
Mature love says 'I need you because I love you.'
--Erich Fromm

Corollary: If you decide to get involved with me because you think you can rescue me, you will endeavor, consciously or subconsciously, to keep me helpless in some way so that you can always "fix things" for me. This is unacceptable and unhealthy.

On the other hand, men seem to be intimidated by or put off by an independent woman who doesn't actually need a man to have a happy, fulfilling life. I wouldn't think a guy would want the pressure of being responsible for providing happiness and fulfillment to someone else, but it appears that might not be the case. Is it really that odd to only want a relationship for companionship and sharing experiences/interests, not for co-dependence? I'd rather not be in a relationship than be in a bad or unhealthy one.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"Everyone is Entitled to Our Opinion"

So reads the online version of the New York Times today. The opinions columns are now free and not restricted to paid subscribers. Yay!! Now I can read even more of the NYT every day. The powers that be in the land of "All the News that's Fit to Print" have decided to forgo the subscriber fees in exchange for free opinions which are advertiser sponsored. They have apparently discovered that advertisers pay more than subscribers.

Movies Coming Soon!
I really want to see Eastern Promises It looks like a very suspenseful, fast moving, well-crafted film. (and not just for the tattoos and naked Viggo Mortensen. It really looked like a good movie before I heard about the naked parts.) What intrigues me is that in the trailers, Mr. Mortensen's character is really really creepy and dark. He played a bad guy with a mob background in History of Violence, but didn't have quite the creepy edge to him. Nor did his character in A Perfect Murder. The character in Eastern Promises looks creepy and dark enough to make it hard to picture him again as Tolkein's eternal champion, Aragorn. So I'm really looking forward to seeing this movie. Except that it's NOT OPEN HERE. *pouts*

Ira and Abby isn't open here either. *pouts harder*

And the biggest pout of all?
Twitchh is NOT WORKING today (he just got back from a trip) and he is NOT talking to me. So I'm BOOOOOOOOOOOOORED and he says he's waiting to talk to the silly Dish Network guy. What*ever*!

(Hee hee. That was fun. And so completely not serious.)

Aggravating Science Tidbit for the Day:
On NPR this morning, there was a segment about the scanning cargo for radioactive emissions when it comes through the big seaports, like Long Beach, California. The segment mentioned trying to differentiate between serious radiation and the "benign substances which are naturally radioactive". I don't know what sort of benign substances they're talking about but people are naturally radioactive and I don't know that I'd classify humans as necessarily "benign". Frankly, just about everything is naturally radioactive, given that there are LOTS of elements which have radioactive isotopes. Bananas, for example, contain a lot of potassium, which means they also contain the radioactive isotopes of potassium. Presumably the segment was referring to other radioactive substances or else they're confused about what things in this universe are naturally radioactive.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Oh Good Grief...

The "scandal" of the day today? A male coworker closed his office door when he was talking with a male sales person. This immediately started gossip about the "poor dear" and how he "locked himself into his office with [the guy]" as though something either bad or pitiful or both is now happening. It cannot, of course, be related to the amount of noise in the hallway from the gossiping right outside his door. There has to be something tragic or fishy about it, apparently. I chose to take the high road and not say "Well, did you want them to have sex with the door *open*?!" Sheesh! Who the heck CARES if the doctor closes his office door when he talks to someone? What difference does it make to anybody? Absolutely none that I can identify. I guess it was a slow gossip day elsewhere in people's lives, so they had to start whispering about the closed door and what it could possibly mean. Folks, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Un/fortunately, I'm trying to remain on the Santa's "nice" list, so I restrained myself and didn't make the comment about sex with the door open. But it would have been hilarious to see the expressions on their faces.

Living Up or Down to Expectations
I realize that we don't get data as fast as we might like, but it does get here eventually. I have also found, in my experience, that people and organizations live up to the expectations made of them. If you expect people to fail or do a crappy job and tell them that, they will likely live up (or down) to that expectation. If you expect them to succeed and to do a good job, provide them with the goal/outcome you would like, they quite often do hit your target. And frankly, I find my life to be more pleasant if I expect positive things rather than spreading around negativity. The world is a negative enough place without focusing on all the shortcomings of the universe, griping about not always being everybody else's top priority, and threatening to break things that don't work right, instead of actually using them correctly in the first place. Remember, the computer and printer do what you tell them to do, not what you want them to do.

An Observation:
If you preface a conversation at lunch out at a restaurant with "I probably shouldn't talk about this at the dinner table", you probably shouldn't talk about it. If you do happen to go on to talk in detail about the bodily fluids you deposited on the toilet seat at home, then failed to clean up until after your middle school aged daughter said something about it, I think it's too late to go back to using euphemisms and talking about "unmentionables". You've already done mentioned it all in gory detail.

Another Observation:
Roads are not dangerous whether they are straight or curved. They will not randomly nor purposefully eject vehicles from their surfaces. Motor vehicle crashes are not caused by roads, but are instead caused by drivers. It is not the fault of the road that a driver failed to negotiate a curve successfully. Nor is it the fault of the road that a driver was ejected from a vehicle due to failure to use a seatbelt. Road conditions may contribute to an accident, but do not cause accidents unless the road does something unusual, like collapse in a sinkhole as you drive over it. It is absolutely possible to drive safely on icy, wet and snowy roads as well as dry roads. People have been managing that in northerly latitudes for decades. Snow doesn't shut down Buffalo, NY unless whiteout conditions are achieved and visibility is essentially nil.

What causes accidents is driver error/misjudgement. I regularly see people driving at 70+ mph on the Interstate with less than one vehicle length between vehicles. This works out very well as long as nothing goes wrong. If the front vehicle happens to blow a tire, have sudden mechanical difficulty or brake suddenly, the driver of the second vehicle has less than one second to react. That is just not enough time. There also appears to be a tendency to exceed the speed limit on surface roads and to overdrive the headlights at night. Overdriving headlights is when you are driving fast enough that you will not have sufficient time to react to/avoid objects that pop into the headlights as you drive. These objects could be debris in the road, pedestrians, deer, or curves in the road. You can indeed drive as fast or faster at night than in the day time, but there are possible negative consequences to this action.

I realize this isn't particularly comforting to those folks who are in crashes or have family/friends in crashes, but it's true. I've picked up the live (and dead) bodies of dozens of people at crashes. I have little sympathy for persons who fail to drive safely for the existing road conditions (including darkness) and for persons who decide to not use their seatbelt and suffer severe injuries after being ejected from the vehicle. It adds a few minutes more to the drive time to drive at a reasonable, prudent speed or to wear a seatbelt. It adds hours, weeks, months, years or even forever to your drive time if you end up in a crash. Wouldn't you rather get there late than not get there at all?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Bird Day

Apparently the party is on my deck today. There are blue jays, purple finches, cardinals, sparrows and doves. A woodpecker even stopped by to try the sunflower seeds. A hummingbird was hovering outside the window too. I don't know if the other food sources aren't as plentiful or if today was chosen to be the day to hang out at my house.

Speaking of being outside, I need to fix the pool filter and I ought to fix the hole in the pool. The "catch" is that to fix the pool leak I have to get in the water. At the moment, the temperature is 70 degrees. Methinks I'll wait until later this week when the air temp will approach 90 degrees before getting into the pool again. I will have to vacuum it pretty thoroughly in anticipation of closing things up anyway.

I have a new fertilizer spreader to assemble and fertilizer to apply. Grass seed too. Here's what needs to happen with the lawn: de-thatch it (except I forgot to pick up cinder blocks at Lowe's yesterday when on my $250 spending spree), fertilize it properly and overseed it. Actually, it probably needs mowing too. I suppose I could de-thatch it, then mow when I fertilize. I haven't decided if I'm going to overseed everything, or just pick a few sections, since I'll need to water the newly seeded sections. I could really use half a dozen bales of straw too, for covering the newly seeded sections and for tilling into the garden.

For the garden, I need to till under the garden and plant a cover crop like annual rye grass to be tilled under in the spring. I will be able to harvest basil again in another week or so. I already have a dozen "basil cubes" of frozen minced basil. I might dry some of the next harvest. There are peppers and tomatoes left in the garden and that's it for this year. I don't know that the tomatoes will ripen with the temperatures dropping, but I can eat green tomatoes too. The peppers ought to do okay though.

So, with all of this to do, I am hanging out in the comfy chair with very little motivation. I desperately need to fold the stack of clean clothes at the end of my bed, I need to cook for the week and I need to tidy up the detritus from the past week. There's nothing on TV and I still don't feel like getting up and doing anything. Of course, what I really need to do is just that. But first, I can watch how Peeps are made....

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Interesting Choice of Acronyms

At work we will, for some purposes, be replacing our VPN (virtual private network) connection for with new connection software that will allow concurrent network connections. This new software has a name. It's the Health Services Security Interface. HSSI. Pronounced "hissy". One of the IT guys tacked on "For Intelligent Technicians" to the end of the title. Now we'll forever remember it as HSSI-FIT.

Of course, the kvetching immediately began about how there's new software they won't train us on. It has been explained repeatedly that the actual application hasn't changed, just the way we access it. All this thing will do is ask them to login and provide a password on a website whose location has already been provided. If that requires formal training, I think a different job might be a better choice. I'm sorry, but the jobs we do require some rudimentary computer skills. It's not the responsibility of your employer to cause you to be qualified to do your job and, yes, sometimes the requirements of the job change WHILE you are in the job. I realize I'm in the minority in this belief as well as many others, but I believe in improving myself/my skills while in a job so that I can continue to do a spectacular job of it. Even if that means taking some initiative myself and pursuing training or (*gasp!*) reading/learning something on my own time.

Then again, I have chosen to have a career doing something I enjoy. Not something I just do to get a paycheck where I will put in the bare minimum and then cop an attitude when someone asks or expects me to do anything more. Yeah, yeah. I know. I'm a radical nutcase, but why do something you dislike when you can get paid to play at something you enjoy? :o)

Elsewhere at work....

PanBio units are NOT the same thing as antibody titers. Increasing 1-2 PanBio units is NOT necessarily the same as a 4-fold increase in antibody titer. Furthermore, when the case definition for a disease specifically states "4-fold increase in antibody titer", it means just that, not an increase of 1-2 PanBio units. When I discuss this matter with the central office and explain that the case you have just recently declared to be a confirmed case is actually NOT a confirmed case, do not get pissy with me because you were wrong. Heck, I was wrong about it too, until they explained it. It just means changing the classification. I am interested in having the reporting of diseases done correctly and accurately. I am not interested in pointing out that people are wrong. However, one of my job responsibilities is, in fact, quality assurance with regards to reporting. If there is an error, it's my job to correct it, even when *I* mess things up (and I do mess things up). It's nothing personal. I didn't tell you that *you* were stupid or wrong. I said the classification of the patient was wrong. It ain't that big a deal. It sure isn't anything to get upset or cranky about. Like I said, *I* goofed it up too and when it was explained to me I did feel stupid, but I got over it.

A Concert I'd Love to See
Led Zeppelin is playing a reunion concert in London this November. Of course, that's a wee bit outside my budget, unless I choose to be completely fiscally irresponsible, which would rather take the fun out of the whole experience. I will, instead, pick up some good beer and blast my Led Zep CDs that day/evening.

On that note, I'm going to brew me a nice cup of Sleepytime tea and knit myself silly.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

An Inauspicious Start to the Day....

Yes, that's my breakfast on the floor. I carefully pulled the bowl out of the microwave and promptly dropped it on the floor. Upside down, of course. But that wasn't enough. Nope. It happened to be BLUEBERRY oatmeal, rather than plain. It also happened to be rather watery oatmeal rather than thick/solid oatmeal. And I was running late. So I used my spatula (as seen in the picture) to scoop up the majority of the oatmeal, then wiped up the oozing, corralled the blueberries, dried the violated section of the floor and zoomed off to work.

Why do these things never happen on days when you're running early or even just on time? There is clearly a "lateness detector" somewhere that's tuned in to the Murphy's Law channel. However, I am happy to report that the Murphy's Law stuff apparently started and ended with the oatmeal dumping incident.

Unless you count the e-mail I got this afternoon telling me to clear my calendar tomorrow morning to meet with our Director. That's all it said. I'm 99.98% certain it's about the upcoming smoking cessation program, but you always wonder, don't you?. I *swear* I haven't done anything to get into trouble. Well, except for break the printer, but it's not my fault it doesn't like .pdf files that are longer than 5 pages!!

And to top of a fairly good day, I have done my weekly grocery shopping, planned healthy meals for the next week (without generating a plethora of leftovers), exercised and sprayed the weeds in the front and side yards.

About Leftovers
One of the things I *hate* about being single is leftovers. I love to cook. I really love to eat home-cooked, healthy, flavorful food. I don't even mind cleaning up my messes afterward too much, particularly since I now have a dishwasher.

What I hate is cooking a meal and then eating it twice a day, every day for a week. It takes the fun out of cooking to eat the same thing every day at dinner. It makes me grumpy and it takes the fun out of eating too. I've never been particularly driven to cut recipes down to make just 2-3 servings, but I'm on a mission now. I sat down at lunch with a healthy cookbook (that conveniently had menus in it) and planned out six days of meals. Looking at the servings each recipe made, I cut the recipe in half if it was going to make more than 4 servings. I want to eat something just two or three times in a week, not six or eight times. I suspect that by making fewer servings I might also end up with smaller serving sizes. I have a feeling that I have eaten more than I should just as an attempt to get rid of it so I could eat something new. I have always had a thing about wasting food. I feel horrible about having food spoil before I eat it and I definitely can't throw it away before it spoils either.

So my current mission is to curtail the excessive quantities of leftovers and to have fun cooking and eating healthy food. What will help with this is that I feel better when I eat good food, both physically and mentally. On top of the regular exercising I'm doing now, I could quite easily become the healthiest I've ever been. We'll see how I look and feel in December.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Patriot Day 2007

Six years ago, the US had a horrible wake-up call as the WTC towers and the Pentagon were hit by planes and a fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania. FDNY firefighters I had met briefly died that day. Others are now at very much increased risk of lung disease, cancer and other ailments due to prolonged exposure to a melange of carcinogens and toxins in the smoke and debris.

One of my favorite tributes to 9/11 can be found here: Clicky.
Yes, I know that it's a beer commercial. Bite me. I don't care. It's still good.

Two years ago, I rolled into the fire camp in Algiers to start a week of rescue work in New Orleans. We pulled in as the 9/11 memorial service, led by Pres. Bush started. Despite the losses they suffered in 2001, the largest single contingent of firefighters sent to New Orleans in response to Katrina and Rita was from FDNY. (With that said, they're also just about the largest FD in the country.) Because of the tremendous response that FDNY received after 9/11/01, they felt the need to pay some of that back by contributing time and equipment to New Orleans in its time of need. They brought a lot of attitude with them, but they also did a lot of work and gave several fire trucks to the city of New Orleans to replace apparatus that was destroyed.

On a lighter note, during that week in New Orleans, I taught a Baltimore SWAT officer how to knit and he knit a round on the sock I was working on at the time. He was roughly the size of a small car (and all muscle) and had a personality as big as the Pacific. He giggled the whole time and talked his way through it. "Teaching" him involved showing him two or three stitches, talking him through a couple as he did them and then letting him go. When he finished the round, he announced it to everybody in the area (about 30 law enforcement officers) and took a bow. I don't know his name, but I aspire to have that much fun doing anything.

More Foot Tapping

Another group of women at work is all up at arms about tapping one's feet in a public restroom. Now they're all worried that if they themselves tap their feet that someone will think they're gay or (*gasp!*) a gay man will hit upon them. (I refrained from asking 1) what a gay man would be doing in the women's restroom and 2) why on earth a gay man would hit on a woman.) There's no pointing out to them that the foot tapping in question doesn't occur in their own stall, but under the partition into the next stall so that it's a bit hard to misconstrue. It appears that they need(ed) a position of moral superiority from which to look down upon others and from which to pass judgment. Once again, though they were curious how gay men know where to go and how to communicate with each other, they ALL knew where in town the gay men go to troll for sex. (I refrained from pointing out that if straight women know how/where gay men in town communicate their intentions to each other, that the gay men might also have it figured out.)

What's sad about all of this is that there is an HIV clinic in our building 3 days a week. As you might expect, there are a number of homosexual male clients. The comments made about the patients while the staff are at lunch are revolting. (You'd think the clients chose to be gay just to disgust the clinic nurses.) Here's a thought: if you hate the people for whom you work, you really need to find another job. Surely the staff couldn't have been so naive when they signed up to work in the HIV clinic to not realize that there might be gay men coming to the clinic for treatment. And drug addicts. And prostitutes. And folks who have made poor or regrettable choices. Perhaps they decided to work at the clinic so they could feel superior to everybody. I only hope they don't have a "holier than thou" attitude while working with the patients.

Have I mentioned that intolerant and small-minded people drive me nuts? I don't mind that folks have their own opinions about things. In fact, I'd rather that everybody formed their own opinions through critical thinking, rather than just parroting someone else's opinion/thoughts. What I mind about opinions is having someone else's foisted on me as the one true way. You're welcome to your opinion, whether I agree with it or not. I get to have my own opinion too, even if you don't agree with it. Doesn't make it invalid or wrong. Different does not equal wrong or inferior.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Posted to an e-mail list I read semi-regularly:
"I just finished ranting elsewhere about my website software. Adobe has dropped yet ANOTHER near-perfect programme that had a huge learning curve (worth it) and replaced it with Dreamweaver, which they bought from Macromedia. SO NOW, if I am going to continue making websites, I have to buy and learn a whole new HIGH-LEARNING-CURVE software PLUS buy the whole "suite" since the NEW one won't interface with the previous "Photoshop" etc. Fortunately, I get the educational price, but I could still think of a LOT of wonderful things I could have done with that wad of money I just dropped on this [expletive deleted]."

Ok. Let's think about this a wee bit. Did you *have* to change from Adobe's old program to the new Dreamweaver suite because otherwise your webpages would stop working? No. Did you have to buy the suite instead of Dreamweaver on its own? No. Will your websites quit working because you used "old" software to create them? No.

Let me explain why. HTML is HTML. If it's written to the current specification (HTML 4.01), it will run on most web browsers (including Mozilla's Firefox, Opera, Safari and the evil IE). HTML doesn't care if it's written in OpenWysiwyg, Dreamweaver, MS Frontpage (ick), or any other WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) HTML editor or if it's coded by hand. I happen to own a copy of Dreamweaver 4. That puts me about 5 versions behind what's "current". It's on my list of things to learn. I don't use it. I hand code the websites I develop and edit. I have a core framework which is the basis of all the pages (as do most developers) and I dress it up differently for clients as requested. There is no need to continuously re-invent the wheel. And, yes, I do use CSS and PHP as well. Server-side includes make all sorts of fun things simple.

As far as editing/posting images goes, a .jpg is a .jpg and a .gif is a .gif. The web editors don't care what software you used to edit the photos with. Neither does your website. Just tell it where to find the image. You can do that in a WYSIWYG or by hand. If you need to edit photos, you can do that with a number of different products. I happen to like IrfanView. For starters it's open source and essentially free (they ask for a 10 Euro donation if you like the software). It also does everything I need it to do, including converting file types as necessary. I have yet to find any image editing need that IrfanView can't meet. That's not to say that I don't own a copy of Photoshop. I just don't use it. I like IrfanView.

So, to sum up. No you didn't *have* to drop your previous "near perfect" software to learn the new difficult Dreamweaver OR have to buy the entire Dreamweaver Suite. You chose to do that. Other alternatives do, in fact, exist. So quit yer ranting and get over it. The software company didn't make you do anything.

And please excuse me if I don't hold my breath waiting for my websites to fail since I didn't use the new software.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Why I Have No Style

It's not that I have *no* style, it's that I can't pick just one. This is true of clothes and hair as well as landscape and interior design. Part of the problem is that I'm afraid of making the wrong choice and being stuck with something bad. Part of the problem is also that too many things interest me and that what I like changes from week to week or month to month. With a limited budget for decorative things, I buy a piece or two here and a piece or two there. Couple that with an inability to throw away much of anything and the end result is an uncoordinated hodge podge of things.

Of course, I also select clothing on the basis of things being washable, comfortable and more classic than trendy. I don't have the clothing budget for trendy and I greatly dislike clothes shopping most of the time anyway.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


Number One:
Why is it that I only really want to do yard work on the days that it rains? I did get fertilizer spread over the bits of the yard around the deck, the south side of the house and the front yard before I ran out of fertilizer. I spread it by hand so it's probably not done evenly, but as crummy as the grass looks at the moment and since it's not been fertilized in a year, it'll have to do. Later today or tomorrow I'll go to Lowe's or Home Depot and pick up a fertilizer spreader and some more fertilizer. I've decided to go with a towing spreader rather than a push spreader so that I might actually treat the whole yard at some point. (Yes, I could use the exercise from a push spreader, but if you've ever tried to push a spreader over 1 1/2 of hilly yard you'll realize that it's not likely to happen very often.)

Then, since it started raining and there weren't any puddles to splash in, I fixed up a bucket of oily sand and cleaned the spades, spading fork, hoe and rakes, then oiled them so they won't rust.

Number Two:
And now I'm sitting in the comfy chair updating webpage information, having a conversation with my stomach about how it can stop hurting me at any time now thank you very much, and debating what to knit next. (though if I keep working on the webpages I'll end up spending my knitting time doing NO knitting whatsoever). I should do some laundry and my office is a mess. I'm not sure how that happened. I suppose that's another imponderable. How do you end up with a mess in your office when you weren't home? I *swear* the desk was neat and tidy when I went to the TB meeting in NashVegas last week.

Number Three:
While we're wondering how things work, just why is it that I cannot now find the website I was going to order pool filter parts from now that I'm ready to order the stinking parts? (Update: I did finally find where I'd put the note with the relevant part number and URL. The multiport valve unit is now ordered.)

Number Four:

I'll end with a classic imponderable: Just where *does* the color from the Kool-Aid go when you drink it? No matter what color it is when it goes in, it all comes out yellow.

I'll leave the imponderables at just four for today. I'm sure there will be more in the future.

On Spending Time
Time is the one thing in life of which everybody gets an equal amount. No matter how smart, rich, poor, healthy, sick or whatever else you are, you still get 24 hours in a day. The number of days you get and the amount of stuff you have to do is different, but the amount of time in each day is the same.

As I commented in Stefaneener's blog the other day, I have some time luxuries in that I am a single girl living alone. I don't have to juggle dealing with a spouse, kids or any of their schedules. On the other hand, I have nobody to share chores with. I am the only person who will be mowing my yard, painting my living room, rewiring the ceiling fixture, cooking dinner, doing dishes, washing/folding laundry, cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming the floors and taking out the trash. If I don't do it, it doesn't get done. Usually this is manageable. At other times this is overwhelming, like when the pool decides to turn lime green when I go on vacation or when it's been a long week at work and I'm tired. Or when I've let things go for a little while and suddenly all the little things start annoying me en masse.

It has taken me a long time to learn that even when my "work" isn't completely done, I still need to take time for myself and do fun stuff. When I was growing up, we had to get our chores and homework done before we could do fun stuff. This is not necessarily a bad thing since homework would definitely have fallen by the wayside most of the time, but sometimes exceptions should be made. I held onto this philosophy well into graduate school. This led to some problems. You see, when you're in grad school, the homework is *never* done until the degree is completed. There is *always* something hanging over your head needing some work. For that matter, the same thing is true about being a grown-up and running a household. There will always be something needing cleaning, mending, trimming, folding, cooking, etc. If all you ever do is the work and never have some of the fun, you get burned out and fried. In grad school, part of the reason that my PhD took as long as it did was that I was burned out from doing nothing but working on it, which made me work less effectively and take even longer to get done so I got more burned out, thus launching a never-ending cycle of misery.

Now I take time for myself every day. Part of that time is workout time. Part of that time is knitting time and blogging time and reading time. I might also cook, clean, edit webpages or pay bills, but I absolutely will spend some time just sitting around and doing whatever I darned well please, even when the "work" isn't finished. On occasion my mix of "fun" things to do gets a bit out of balance so I feel unsatisfied with my life. A little bit of introspection and adjusting things and I'm back to being reasonably happy and satisfied and to having good supply of "sorts". (As opposed to being out of sorts, which is not so happy.)

For a while my blog writing and blog reading time was cutting into my knitting time. I'd sit in the comfy chair and surf the internet. Suddenly it would be bedtime and I had completely missed knitting time (and sometimes also chore time). A couple of weeks doing that and the house got pretty untidy and I felt like I was always busy, but never getting anything done. Now I limit my blog reading and blog writing time to about 90 minutes a day. I also don't try to blog every single day. I have time to workout daily, keep up with housework and other life chores (usually kept to 2-3 days a week) and still read and knit daily. The relative proportions of these activities change from day to day, but they're usually there and at least some of the time it's not that much of a struggle to get it all in. And if I don't get it all in, that's ok too. I try to end most of my days feeling satisfied with myself, regardless of what I do.

A Bit of Wisdom Overheard from the TV:

"I cannot control how I am perceived. I can only control how I am presented."

A Picture in Words
From a blog I read regularly--the commentary of Anthony Bourdain on BravoTV's Top Chef. "I should point out, by the way, that I'm guest judging again next week. Which means I know what happens. And while I am precluded from discussing future broadcasts by a confidentiality agreement rivaling the NSA's in the severity of its penalties for unauthorized disclosure, I can reveal this: There will be a SlaughterFest of Horror, an Orgy of Bloodletting, Partial Nudity, Flammable Liquids, Unspeakable Misuse of Power Tools and Small Woodland Creatures, and the Plaintive Wailing of the Doomed. It will make Altamont look like Lilith Fair."

Now, does that not paint a vivid picture in your mind's eye? I'm particularly intrigued by the Misuse of Power Tools and the Plaintive Wailing. I might even have to watch the show. If it doesn't cut into my knitting time.

Today's Excitement:
I know. It's hard to believe that I could have excitement on a day that was largely spent in my comfy chair, but I managed to pull it off.You won't believe what I just did. Remember back when I got some sourdough starter from Carl's Sourdough? How I carefully nurtured it and occasionally neglected it, but kept it alive and even baked with it on occasion? Well, that has come to an end. This evening the starter had a wee bit of an accident. You see, I'd put the starter container in the oven where it was out of the way and a bit warm the last time I fed it. I wanted it to be a happy little growing starter.

When I bake, I don't usually bother pre-heating the oven. I turn it on and immediately throw in whatever I'm baking. Not today. Today I actually pre-heated the darned oven. And right about the time the oven beeped that it was at temperature I discerned an unusual smell emanating from the kitchen. When I opened the door to put the biscuits in the oven, I found this sight.

It took me a while to figure out what it was. It rather resembles a partially melted block of cheese. I debated trying to save some of it but the plastic from the container has probably melted icky things into the starter and, given that the oven reached 450 degrees, I'm not entirely certain that there is any live starter left to save.


I can definitely get another batch of starter. I don't think I will do that, however. I wasn't all that excited about the taste of this starter. I liked the history behind it, but without a good flavor to back it up there really isn't much point. Several places sell starter made from San Francisco starter cultures and I might try some of those in the future, but for now, my sourdough keeping days are over.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Today's Utterances from the DJs

"This generation is not like any other. They're being torn apart by racial things." The problem? The white kids are trying to be "black". You'd think that DJs who grew up in MEMPHIS in the 1960s would have seen a bit of "torn apart by racial things" and realized that simply listening to hip hop music and wearing hip hop clothes isn't exactly "torn apart". Alas, that doesn't seem to be the case and it would appear that the black folk are once again screwing up the universe. Grrrrrrrr. That crap annoys the heck out of me. It hadn't occurred to me prior to moving here that people would *still* think that minorities, especially of African descent, were somehow inherently bad or inferior. Or that they would seem somehow proud of having had two sets of bathrooms and drinking fountains in public buildings when they were kids (one for whites and one for "coloreds").

The other quote that got my blood pressure to spike this morning:
"It's a fatherless, godless generation and then it trickles over into the white kids."
Yep. It's been 40+ years since the civil rights movement was at its peak and it appears that at least some of the people in Memphis have forgotten the lesson from it (or else never learned anything from it. I'm sure the Hispanics in the area get their share of the blame for whatever horrible life that kids these days have now.

I realize that it's a horrible suggestion, but my personal opinion is that if your kids were raised well, it wouldn't matter whether there were "fatherless, godless" kids around, regardless of their color. And as long as we're on the subject of "horrible" suggestions, I have another one: We're Americans, regardless of color, race, ethnicity, religion, gender and sexual orientation and we are *all* equal. If you can't handle that concept, perhaps it's time for you to go find another country to call "home".

An Interesting Discussion at Work
Several women were trying to figure out how Sen. Craig from Idaho knew that tapping his foot in the men's room meant he was looking for a date. At least one of them had asked their husbands if they had ever tapped their foot in the bathroom and at least one husband reported that it was possible but they hadn't given any thought to it. I pointed out that the alleged foot tapping didn't occur in Sen. Craig's stall, but rather in the stall occupied by the undercover officer and that Sen. Craig also allegedly reached under the partition into the officer's stall. Boy, did they look surprised to hear that part. They still were curious how he would have known what to do. I asked them if any of them know where in our little metropolis the gay men go to pick up other men. At least two of them mentioned a particular city park and one of them even indicated that parking your car one way means you're looking and another way means you're not. I pointed out that if my co-workers (who are NOT gay men, but rather straight women), knew how things worked, it was quite likely that that information was also known by the gay male population. That appeared to make sense to them.

I still wish that it was possible to arrest pushy men who fail to take "No, thanks" as an answer to repeated, unwanted and lewd advances toward women. I don't care if he thinks he's the savior of woman kind. If I don't want to date him, for whatever reason, up to and including that I can't be bothered, "No, thanks" should be enough. Sadly, it usually is not. They want to know why or they want to argue about how I'm missing out. Guess what? I am not obligated to defend my decisions and I get increasingly aggravated when pressured to do so. Furthermore, the longer a man argues with me about why I should "just see how nice a guy he is just this once", the LESS likely I am to ever be persuaded to go out with him. If a man fails to respect my boundaries and wishes about whether or not I want to even go out with him, why would I expect him to respect my boundaries and wishes about anything else?

Tonight's Exciting Conclusion:
I'm gonna watch Tomb Raider and knit. I might make myself a cup of tea or I might make myself a cup of hot chocolate. It's raining outside right now and I got chilly at work. I'm pretty tired again, so will probably go to bed early, but I *did* finish all the TB skin test data entry for the inmates. That's one 7 inch stack of paper down. Another 8 inches to go....

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Yay! Busy!!

Of course, I'm also really tired now, but it's a good tired. A tired that comes from doing work, as opposed to tired from inactivity.

I chatted with the restaurant owner implicated in our GI disease outbreak. Nothing the owner described stuck out as being something that would cause a problem. The BBQ meat that the patients think is the culprit didn't come from a single pork shoulder, was kept hot at the restaurant and was pulled when the customer came to the store (rather than being pulled ahead of time and stored in a container). What makes the situation murky is that it's not clear what the path of the meat was between the restaurant and being warmed in the customer's oven. The pan of meat may not have gotten sufficiently hot all the way through or it may have been stored improperly prior to being heated for eating. None of the meat from the weekend was remaining at the store, so cannot be tested. All we'll be able to demonstrate from testing the meat and patient's stool specimens (if any are brought in) is that the same bug or toxin was in both, not when/where it was introduced into the food itself.

And we have a new TB suspect to investigate. This guy has had a sizable weight loss in the past month, hasn't been feeling well and a mass in his lung has been found on a chest x-ray. So far all the skin tests have been normal, but he did live in the housing unit where most of the other confirmed cases originated and his roommate has converted his skin test. To top it all off, he had an abnormal chest x-ray in May (infiltrates in left upper lobe). Could be cancer. Could be TB.

Throughout it all, I got a bunch of data put into the database. I should be able to produce a missing data report for the individuals on treatment for latent infections. The rest of the missing data will be harder to get pulled together, but I should be able to get a partial list done by the end of next week, barring any disasters.

Is it Wrong?
Is it wrong that working up the investigation about the barbecue place made me hungry? *sigh* It reminded me of the semester I took a meat science class as an undergrad. We were learning how to grade carcasses and one week a really nice, large beef carcass inspired some serious beef cravings.

Tired Thursday
I had every intention of working out tonight and I might yet. At the moment I'm just beat. If I pick up a bit of energy in the next hour I'll get on the bike. If I don't, I'll do another round of strength training. In the meantime, I'm going to knit.

Telemarketer Thursday
Thursday is the day I usually get the bulk mail junk. Today is apparently also the day the telemarketers have decided to work overtime. My answering machine has gone off about every 20 minutes since I got home from work. Most of the time there is no message left, but I did get a message from an insurance agent (not *my* insurance agent, but from the same insurance company) telling me that it was time for me to call their office and review my policies. Uh-huh. I don't think so. I don't do anything a cold call tells me to do. My favorite message of all time (and which gets left once or twice a week) is the one that begins "This is not a sales call...." Uh-huh. And I'm the Queen of Freedonia.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Things at Work, They Be A Changin'

First, I got asked to assist with an outbreak investigation today. Not just write the questionnaire, but actually make phone calls to the implicated restaurant and the health inspector. Yay!!!

Second, a co-worker is leaving us at the end of September. For some time she's not been happy and the stress of the job hasn't done her any good, healthwise. She told us today that she's taken another job with the state. I'll be sad to see her go. We worked well together. I didn't think she'd leave, but I knew that she wasn't completely happy too. I like the chaos and "disasters" when unexpected things happen. This is why I *loved* being an EMT. Not everybody likes to live that way though and that's OK. I hope she finds her niche in her new job. Fortunately the new job is just a mile or two away from the office, so having lunch with her will still be an option.

I didn't do cardio today. I started the strength training program published in a women's fitness magazine a year or two ago. It's short, but thorough. They claim visible results in four weeks with workouts every other day. The plan includes increasing the weight each week and also adjusting the reps/sets to go along with that. I figure I can give it a try and it'll be a nice break from the bike/cardio. I nearly went for a walk this morning, until I realized how dark it was at 6am. The sun doesn't even come up until 6:30 and it was so cloudy out this morning that it might as well have been 5am. I'd really like to go for an early morning walk outside. I suppose if I got an Illuminite vest it might be doable. At least then drivers should be able to see me, not run me over. (Not that there's all that much traffice in my sub-division.)

Lunch was a salad at Jason's Deli. I probably didn't need to put olives on it, but I did anyway. For dinner I had another grilled mushroom/eggplant sammich with tomato and lettuce. I've got one more mushroom left and three or four slices of eggplant. There are three ciabatta rolls left. I bet they'll be good with hummus, tomato, cucumber and lettuce sammiches too.

I'm currently reading A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez. The tagline is "A tale of vengeance, true love, and cannibalism." The witch is fairly inexperienced and is figuring out things as she goes. She inherited a familiar which is a demonic duck named Newt. She also has a troll named Gwurm. Poor Newt tries really hard to be helpful, but mostly his idea of help is to kill things or contribute to mayhem. On the other hand, he can be tricked into doing useful things if he thinks that they're bad. For example, he helped gather healing potion ingredients because the witch told him that they were to make potions which would cause boils and other bits of nastiness. The characters are full of detail and personality. If you don't mind the part about the witchcraft or the cannibalism (though by page 141, she's still trying to figure that part out herself and hasn't eaten anybody), it's a very entertaining book. I've caught myself laughing out loud several times while reading it.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

New Habits!

Ok, so today I'm starting a regular program of exercise and of paying more attention to what I eat. My goal for this week is to work out every day until Saturday. Tonight I spent 25 minutes on the bike. In a little while I'll stretch and do some push-ups and sit-ups.

On the food front, I think I eat the right stuff, just too much of it. I very rarely eat meat (maybe once a month, if that) and usually make low-fat food choices with the exception of peanut butter and cheese. For breakfast, I nearly always have oatmeal with or without raisins or blueberries. Lunch and dinner are a bit more tricky. Eating out usually results in my eating a larger than proper portion size and higher fat than I would eat at home or if I brought my lunch to work. I also have a tendency to not have a single dinner meal. It's not quite the hobbit schedule for meals, but it's not just three meals either. I'll have a snack when I get home from work that might be a PB&J sammich or just a yogurt. Later I'll have a something larger and occasionally I'll have another snack before bed. Mind you, the snacks aren't necessarily because I'm hungry, just bored or because it seems that I should eat something. I suspect a food diary would help me quit the extraneous eating. I might have to give that a shot next week. Right now I'm going to focus on the regular exercise, plus three meals a day (including vegetables at two of them) and two small snacks.

Yes, There is No Monday Night Football Tonight
Today a local DJ was bemoaning the fact that there will be NO Monday night football tonight. He was grumbling about this fact and wanted to know what the NFL thought it was doing having no MNF. is actually Tuesday, so I'm pretty sure it would be darned near impossible to have Monday night football today. Since it's Tuesday. Not Monday. Then again, I think the regular NFL season starts *next* weekend.

Today's Poor Use of Vocabulary:
The local YMCA has "incumbent bicycles". I'd never really thought of stationary bicycles as being an office to hold, but I guess it must be if there are incumbent bicycles. Unless, of course, what they really mean are *re*cumbent bicycles, which are the ones where you pedal with your feet out in front of you instead of below your center of mass.

My Fertilizer Spreader is Unhappy
It's a nice little secondhand drop spreader from my mom. It's also about 30 years old. And now it doesn't want to spread. The rotating bar in the bottom doesn't want to rotate. I hosed the ends of the bar and the wheel bearings with WD-40 so perhaps it'll break loose after a few hours of thinking about what it's done. If it persists in being on strike, I'll have to get a new one. Of course, it'll rain tonight since I was unable to fertilize the lawn. Had I successfully applied the fertilizer, there would, of course, be no rain. That is Murphy's Law as applied to lawn care.

Lightbulb Moment
While driving home this evening, I have figured out why I have very little style when it comes to decorating my house. More on that later.

Monday, September 03, 2007


It's a holiday today. I figured I'd go see a movie (War, if you're curious which one). Surprisingly, the movie theater opened at 5pm, not at the same time it opens on the weekend. In all the other places I've lived, the theaters open at the weekend time on minor holidays like Labor Day and Memorial Day. I guess the theater can do without the income from any ticket revenues they might have gained this afternoon. Given how busy the other theater in town was, I'd think they'd actually have done some pretty good business, but I could be wrong. In any event, I got all the way to the theater when it was pointed out to me by the guy washing the windows that the theater wasn't open. Poo.

Cleaning Up
With that entertainment plan dashed, I returned home to clean out the garage and vacuum the car. Yes, I know that sounds like a poor substitute for a fun movie, but it was actually pretty good. I moved a table from the side to the back of the garage, tucked the cross-country skis into the corner (not likely to be using them here in the mid-South and, frankly, I'm not sure where my ski boots are anyway), moved the coolers (three of them) out of the middle of the floor and swept up. Earlier in the day I cleaned out my closets and got rid of a bunch of clothes, including some items of clothing I have apparently never worn (the tags are still intact). There is a sizeable stack of clothing awaiting a ride to the Goodwill Store. A couple of sweaters, some dress pants, some dress shirts, a jacket or two, dresses and shoes. About the only thing I didn't put in the pile are belts, pajamas and t-shirts. I do have t-shirts to get rid of, but I didn't actually go through the dresser drawers this weekend. Perhaps next weekend. After I finish with the clothes, I'll go through the other stuff in my house that's been boxed up since I moved here a year ago. If I haven't used it in the past year and I don't remember what's in a box, I can probably do without it. Makes sense, doesn't it? Yet it's still incredibly hard to do.

Holiday Grilling
I fired up the grill again today. I have freshly grilled tomatoes, onions, eggplant and portabello mushroom caps. I made my usual mushroom sammich on toasted ciabatta roll with grilled onion, eggplant, mixed baby greens and ungrilled tomato slices. It was yummy. I have enough mushrooms and bread for five more sammiches. I know what I'm having for dinner the rest of the week. I've got hummus for lunch sammiches with baby greens and cucumbers. Add in some fresh fruit and yogurt and that's a fine lunch repast, don't you think?

Tomorrow's Plan
After work or at lunch, I'll stop by the pool store to get patch materials for the hole in the pool. From what I've read, it's possible to patch leaks underwater without draining the pool down below the level of the leak. That would be good since the leak is about 5 inches above the bottom of the pool. I'll see if they can order me the top of the filter unit and a pressure gauge too and how much that will cost. Hopefully the repairs will be simple to manage. Simple is good.

I don't know if I mentioned the fiasco with the ceiling light fixture in the computer room. I had to change a light bulb so I took the shade off the fixture. When I tried to put it back, I discovered that the threads on the spindle were damaged so the nut wouldn't screw back on. The shade has been sitting on the spare computer desk for several months now. I found replacement threaded spindles at Lowe's a couple of weeks ago. When I got home I discovered that the existing threaded spindle cannot be removed from the fixture. At least I can't manage to remove it. So I went back to Lowe's on Saturday to examine the spare light fixture parts section for another solution. What I found was a complete ceiling fixture, minus the glass shade. For the exorbitant price of about $4. Sure beats paying $30 for the complete fixture. Now I just have to cut the power to the room, get the old fixture removed and get the new fixture wired in. I am hoping I won't find any surprises in the ceiling when I get the old fixture down.

Gotta Love Infomercials

"The secret is the minerals because they're all natural, not like other concealers which are full of preservatives and other things which aren't good for you."

I hate it when natural is equated with safe or good for you. *Asbestos* is an all natural mineral but it's not exactly good for you. Other natural things which are not necessarily good for you: mercury, lead, radium and polonium. Some natural things are absolutely good in some settings but really bad in others. The first thing that comes to mind is water. You absolutely have to have it to live, yet thousands of people drown in it every year. Natural and safe are not necessarily synonymous.

Today's Plan
I found a couple of small evergreen trees/shrubs growing in the back yard. I'm going to move them to a different corner of the yard. They've managed to survive being mowed over repeatedly so I figure they can survive being moved too. I need to move the rose of sharon plants, but I'm not quite sure where I want to put them yet. They're doing very well in their temporary home on the south side of the house. I may leave one or two on the corner to anchor the end of the house. I think I'll put the rest along the fence at the north side of the lawn.

The extra coreopsis that grew up from seed this year can also be moved. They're going to go into the sunny part of the poison ivy corner and probably next season I'll put them in a bed on the back side of the house. I don't think the new daisy plants are big enough to take the shock of transplanting yet. That will be an early spring job.

Right now I can feel my brain be dumbed down as I watch "Sunset Tan". It's a "reality show" based in a West Hollywood tanning salon. The interactions between the staff are interesting.

RIP Ed McGaffigan
Dr. McGaffigan was one of the five commissioners of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the longest-serving of the bunch. He died recently of skin cancer. As his health was declining, he made a point of working despite being sick and appears to have kept an excellent attitude as well. From an interview he did earlier this year, there was one quote which really stuck with me: "There is a job to be done here. I'm good at it. And I'm good at it even when I'm tired, which I am."

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Holiday Weekend

Of course things at work got really busy starting at 3pm yesterday. I think I was able to contribute a bit by answering questions. I do need to find out what the triggers are for contacting the central office about disease events. I didn't see any evidence of that communication being made for any of the four incidents that blew up late Friday afternoon, but not knowing what the criteria are it would be that said criteria simply weren't being met.

My talk with my supervisor went well. She indicated that part of the problem was her leaving things unstructured and that she would talk with my daily boss rather than having me do it. I suggested that the three of us sit down to build some structure and figure out what it is that I can do with my skills. She does not agree that routine epidemiology work is not a good use of my skills and I am to bring any ideas for how things could be improved to her directly. I wonder if she and I could set up a regular meeting, perhaps every two weeks to discuss what we're working on and what goals need to be met.

What to do. What to do.
I am not having much luck figuring out what I'm going to do with myself for the next three days. I could do some yard work. I probably will till up the garden. The zucchini died while I was at the TB meeting. The tomatoes aren't looking very good either. The only thing that's still alive and doing well are the peppers and the basil. I actually did a major harvest of the basil last night. I should either freeze the leaves or make pesto today.

There will be obligatory grilling this weekend. I will make another batch of grilled portabello mushroom samiches on toasted ciabatta. I haven't decided if I'll get some goat cheese to go with it or not. I am leaning toward not again. I do have roasted red peppers that would be delicious however. (Which reminds me, I ought to roast/grill some of the peppers I've harvested from the garden and then freeze them.)

Mostly what I want to do today is sit around and not do anything. This attitude drives me crazy. I don't want to do anything except vegetate and recharge, but at the same time that seems like a tremendous waste of the days off. I do need to get to the library so I'll at least get in to town. And as long as I'm at the library I might as well go to the farmer's market and the vegetable store. Then hit Lowe's and/or Home Depot (It's Saturday, how can you NOT go to a home improvement store?) and the grocery store on the way home. Now I just need to get out of this chair....

Today's Quote:
"Why hate someone for the color of their skin when there are much better reasons to hate them." I don't know about better reasons, but certainly more justifiable, explainable and intelligent reasons. Seems pretty lame to have to rely on race/ethnicity. With a bit more effort and study, surely you could find something with more substance. Or not. You know, you might just find that with a bit more effort and study the folks you called "different" aren't really all that different from you at all.