Thursday, February 28, 2008

Whose Genius Idea was This?

I caught a blurb on TV regarding some finance show that was coming on. They were going to discuss the terrible state of consumer credit debt, followed by the spectacular sea cruises that you really shouldn't miss. Hmmmm.... An interesting mixed message there. Either the producers are completely clueless or they've got a splendid sense of humor.

This Week's Weather
Yesterday it snowed. It started Tuesday afternoon but the ground wasn't cold enough for it to really stick to the roads. I don't know if it snowed all night or not. It must have snowed some because there was more snow on the ground when I got up, including a nice fluffy layer on the deck. It continued to snow yesterday during the morning. Fairly big fluffy flakes, but no accumulation to speak of on the ground. Not even enough for a golf ball-sized snowball. Today the temperature was in the 50s and sunny.

Neighborhood Clean-Up
The fire station is completely gone now. All the debris has been hauled away. Tree crews have cut up and hauled away nearly all of the damaged trees. I have gotten several flyers about fixing storm damage to my roof, siding and gutters. Of course I don't actually have any damage to my roof, siding and gutters, but there are plenty of houses in the neighborhood which are missing shingles. Oddly enough, many of these houses were missing shingles when I moved in over eighteen months ago. It amazes me that the homeowners haven't gotten them fixed. It would drive me nuts to be missing shingles for even just a few weeks without having them repaired.

Quote for the Day
Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.
-- Eleanor Roosevelt

Note: if you need to have a "Nasty Jar" where you put money every time you say something nasty or unkind about someone, you may fit in the "small" category. Someone may do something stupid or wrong or something that you disagree with or something that you merely do not like, but that doesn't make the person stupid or bad. I can dislike what someone does without disliking the person and disagree with someone without finding them disagreeable as a person. There are many people in this world for whom I have a great deal of respect, but who do things I think are idiotic or wrong or simply not to my taste. Degrading someone and turning their mistakes into personal attributes reflects badly upon you, not them. Now, I'm not going to say that I don't ever gripe about someone's apparent stupidity, but I try to keep it at a minimum and I make every attempt to not label someone with their shortcomings. I hate it when that sort of thing happens to me, so I really try to avoid doing it to other people. I guess the rule of thumb I use is either whether or not I'd want to be treated that way coupled with whether or not whatever comments I have are serving a positive, constructive purpose. If the answer to either set of conditions is no, then I probably shouldn't be saying it.

The TV Avoidance Experiment
I did successfully not watch TV on Saturday, except for when I watched a DVD with a friend who was having a rough day. On Sunday I watched part of the Red Carpet parade for the Oscars and then the awards ceremony itself. For all that I have very little sense of style myself, it can be very entertaining to watch what the stars wear to big events like the Oscars. Nothing terribly outrageous this year. I thought Anne Hathaway was probably the most stunningly gorgeous. Her red gown set off her pale skin and dark hair beautifully. It was just the right shade of red for her. I wasn't sure I liked the gown Tilda Swinton wore, though I do admire her for not submitting to the mega hair/make-up drill. She does have gorgeous red hair and the short cut suits her features. Renee Zellweger's new short haircut apparently annoyed her and didn't look very good on her either. I don't know if it was the wrong length or the wrong shape or both. Colin Farrell brought his mother to the awards as his "date" and Viggo Mortensen brought his (early teenage?) niece. I thought that was very kind of each of them. They all looked like they had fun.

The Oscar award show itself was mediocre, for all that it was the 80th anniversary. I really expected something a bit more gala and with a bit more emphasis on what has gone before. The show didn't drag on as much as it has in the past and the thank yous were fairly short, but the monologues weren't as humorous as they have been. I don't know if that's a feature of the recent writers strike and having to pull things together at the last minute or if it was just an off year. I don't think Jon Stewart did a particularly bad job. I was highly amused by Colin Farrell's running slide up to the podium after he found a slick spot on the stage. I love watching grown-ups turn into little kids. Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) did a great job of introducing the special effects awards and did a convincing job of telling us that a certain 8 year old really thought the face melting scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark was REAL, though he has since gotten over it.

TV avoidance will resume again Friday evening and be rescinded Sunday evening. The only exception will be possibly watching a DVD. (I don't think DVDs are quite like television since I get to select the programming and there are no commercials.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Who Knew?!

Did you know that it takes over 48 hours for a parcel with a particular parcel delivery service (not UPS) to travel approximately 300 miles between two major cities? Then, that said package would languish in the 2nd city for over 24 hours? Mind you, this package was being sent by "next day" service. It had also been flagged to be held for pick-up since a signature is required and I work all day. Needless to say, despite the fact that even the tracking website clearly states in ALL CAPS that it is to be held for pick-up, a delivery attempt was made at 1pm today. So I called the parcel delivery service and inquired as to what was going on. I was advised that I should expect a phone call within the hour as to what time I should go to the delivery service's local office. When I didn't get a phone call after two hours. I called them back and was advised that I did indeed have a voice mail left for me which stated I could pick it up after 5pm. I guess my work voice mail system hates me and is stealing my messages.

On arrival at the parcel service office, I was informed by the cheerful man behind the counter that my delivery person rarely gets back to the station before 5:45pm, but he did go out into the warehouse to double check just to make sure. He also told me that the people I called about what was going on are not actually local to me, but in a city that is 90 minutes away so they are sometimes wrong about how things work. He did assure me that he would keep my delivery person from leaving with my package in the morning so that I could pick it up at the counter. Then he had to let me out of the office because they have a trick doorknob that only opens if you turn it just right.

For all that I was aggravated about not getting my cell phone today, when it should have arrived YESTERDAY, the cheerful, prompt and polite customer service really brightened my day and made me a whole lot less cranky about the whole thing. With that said, I'll be leaving rather unpleasant comments for the delivery service's overall performance and make sure the cell phone replacement company knows how crummy the delivery service works, given that they paid for next day delivery and it's really arriving via 2nd to 3rd day delivery.

On a lighter note....
it was snowing this evening as I was leaving work. Had I not been tired and in need of some food, I'd have gone for a walk in the snow. The neighbors haven't seen me do anything crazy in weeks.

I did have some absolutely delicious barley-vegetable soup for lunch today. I made it last weekend, but didn't get around to eating any of it last week. I think I was worried it would taste awful. I am quite pleased that I was wrong about that. I'll end up eating it for lunch the rest of the week with either a salad or some frozen veggies on the side.

This evening, I did something silly. I was feeling rather braindead, so I figured I'd try watching network television. Wow. I thought I was braindead earlier. I still felt my intelligence being sucked out my eyeballs. It's bad when the most interesting part of watching network TV is that occasionally the commercials are entertaining. Between "reality" shows and the completely uninteresting characters on the regular fictitious shows, it's just a giant waste of electrons. I should have just climbed into bed early and read. Or blown things up on the computer.

A Thought
This morning on the radio, one of the DJs was decrying the state of today's youth--their lack of a work ethic, their behavior, etc. He wanted to know where these kids learned this [bad] stuff and why aren't they more like he/his generation was at the same age. Well, I'm guessing they learned this stuff from watching those people around them, be they real people or on television/in movies. Here's a novel idea: if you want kids to learn something, try *teaching* them what you want them to do or at least set them a *good* example to follow. Don't just expect them to automagically figure out what you expect and then disparage them when they aren't perfect. Don't screw up or goof off and then wonder why those who follow you are doing the same thing. Why not try teaching them either directly or by example, instead of just complaining about them and tearing them down? If you know how they're supposed to behave and what they're supposed to do, why not share your enormous wisdom?

Alas, it's easier to just blame the younger generation and/or their "idiot" parents, who, oddly enough, tend to be the same generation as the complainers. It makes me wonder what the kids of the complainers are like and whether or not they behave "properly".

I suppose that rather sums up my approach to a lot of negative things in the world. Why complain about it when you could spend just as much time working on fixing the problem and actually end up making a positive difference? Hmmm....

Friday, February 22, 2008

About that Back-Up....

Remember when I recently wrote about my current (Feb 16-29) horoscope? Among other things, it said "Make sure you back up everything you do on a computer or other technological device." I decided I needed to heed that warning. This was a good thing. Today I dropped my smartphone and cracked the screen. Again. It's pretty much completely unusable if I need to use the screen at all. I have to say that I'm a tremendous fan of the Asurion replacement policy. By this afternoon, the replacement unit had already been shipped via DHL overnight. I'll go pick it up Monday morning.

Needless to say, I'm backing up my computers. Again. Now.

The Weekend Plan
I made a good bit of progress last weekend in a serious bit of spring cleaning/decluttering. I'm going to continue with that this weekend. I discovered that I have 52 days and 22 minutes of podcasts, plus at least 4 days of audiobooks. That should keep me entertained while I weed things out.

I read an interesting NY Times article today about vacationing in a little cabin in the woods. No electricity. No running water. Lots of peace and quiet. I'm going to try an experiment. I'm going to not watch television between midnight tonight and at least 5pm Sunday. It's not like I don't have plenty of things to entertain myself or to do. I predict a much more productive weekend than I usually have. Depending upon how well it goes, this might just turn into a regular event.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Shaking Things Up

Well, it would seem that the horoscope predictions for this year are so far working out as predicted. Things be a changing....

I had a new project dropped on me yesterday by the unit director. Uber Boss and another colleague had identified a problem at getting some data to spit out the information they need. What makes this cool is that Uber Boss immediately thought of me when trying to figure out how to get said information out of said data. *blushes*

Today I was asked to join the editorial board of a statewide newsletter. I'll get to write and edit articles on various topics (who determines topics is unclear at the moment). The production and layout end of things will be done by other folks, which is absolutely fine by me. I'd rather write/edit than fiddle and make things look pretty.

Yesterday I also received notice from the US Navy that I am indeed qualified for the position I applied for a few weeks ago. No word yet about any further progression in the job evaluation process, just that my resume/transcript has been vetted and found to apparently be sufficient. Interesting....

Body Part Update:

The shoulder appears to be getting a whole lot better. I've done some tentative lifting of various things lately (the oatmeal box back to the top of the fridge) and haven't had any twinges. I'm not going to push it, but ye olde shoulder appears to be on the mend.

The knee is also cooperating. It never hurt, but it was swollen and felt tight. I gave it about 20 minutes on the trainer tonight followed by about 20 squats and didn't have any problems at all. I'll have a couple ibuprofen tonight to keep any inflammation down, but I think it's good too. Mind you, the knee grinds and crunches like mad when I do squats and probably also when I bicycle, but it doesn't hurt.

Eating Well
I'm back on the vegetarian bandwagon again, even before the latest meat recall. I've known for years that the food inspection system is broken and ineffective. So has much of industry. I'm surprised that nobody has really mentioned the conflict of interest inherent in the US Department of Agriculture. The same agency is responsible for promoting agriculture/agricultural products, for promoting/publishing human nutrition guidelines, and for inspecting the meat, dairy and egg products we eat. (FDA handles inspection for the other food stuff.)

Lunches are again big salads with frozen vegetables and fruit. Dinner is soup with whole grain bread. Breakfast is the usual oatmeal. For snacks I have my favorite Berries GoMega Odwalla bars, wasabi peas and more fruit. I'll be phasing out my daily Diet Pepsi too and replacing it with hot tea.

And now I'm off to watch the eclipse, assuming the clouds cooperate.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Oh My Goodness!

The movie Duel in the Sun not only begins with a musical prelude but said prelude is followed by a musical overture and a narrative. HURRY UP AND START THE MOVIE!!! Some of us have to work tomorrow!!! I *hate* it when the world forgets the it revolves around me. Methinks I'll just call it a night.

I watched Gone with the Wind last night. I really don't much care for this movie very much. Scarlett O'Hara has few redeeming qualities, though she does have a few good lines. She seems to be just about everything I dislike in people all rolled up into a single person. Everyone else in the world exists merely to serve her or be used by her. I hate that in people. Rhett Butler is little better. Although he realizes what she is, he still seems to think somehow that he can change her. Obviously he's not as smart as he seems. It reminds me of the story of the scorpion and the frog crossing the river.

And for tomorrow night's excitement, I'm going to watch the lunar eclipse. The period of totality should start about 9pm. At the moment, the weather folks are predicting about 90% cloud cover. :-( This is the last complete lunar eclipse until 2010. pooh.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cleaning Up Would Be a LOT Easier if...

the power would stop cutting out on me. It is very windy here today (20-30 mph winds gusting to 40+) and at least 8 times today, the electricity went out. Most of the time it was out for just a few seconds, but the last time it was out for 20 minutes and I decided to quit cleaning for the day. It was nearly time for dinner anyway.

Progress Report

I have a pot of vegetable-barley soup simmering on the stove, which will be dinner for tonight and tomorrow. Last night I tidied up the fiber room a bit and even started in on the computer room. What I'm avoiding doing is cleaning off my desks. My desks (there are three of them) and an end of the kitchen counter tend to accumulate detritus. The daily debris that need further attention, but that I don't have the time or mental energy to handle at the time, so it piles up. Once it reaches a certain level I try to avoid it, which really just causes it to grow more in an attempt to gain my attention. By the time I do get to it, it's a big deal and takes hours, which isn't any fun. You'd think I'd learn and handle it a little bit at a time each week or a couple times a week. But no. I'm the same way about folding laundry.

One thing which is likely to help me with the cleaning up process is the lack of any good movies on TV. TCM is showing an assortment of John Wayne westerns today. While I think Mr. Wayne is an excellent actor and several of his westerns are fine films, I'm just not a huge fan of them, though I do enjoy some of his WWII movies. In his westerns, he plays one of three different characters: the cavalryman, the rancher or the lawman. Most of them are opinionated curmudgeons, usually with a heart of gold, but they have little depth. Inevitably they drag, hit or kiss the leading lady into submission. (She did, of course, hate him completely until being sufficiently dragged, hit or kissed, whereupon she is now utterly head over heels in love with him forever. Caveman romance at its best!) With that said, there are some John Wayne westerns that I do like. Rooster Cogburn is pretty entertaining and The Cowboys is an early version of City Slickers. I must also say that Mr. Wayne does sit a horse well and doesn't appear to take himself too seriously most of the time. I think my biggest complaint is that too many of his movies are rather formulaic. It would have been interesting to see him play a bad guy.

For what it's worth, I also don't care much for Jimmy Cagney.

On that note, I'm going to start clearing out desk drawers in the big desk.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Loooooong Weekend!

But first, I must mention that it snowed this week. It was actually snowing during my drive to work, though this is all the accumulation that actually occurred and once I got into town, there wasn't even that much. I did not make any snow angels or even catch snowflakes on my tong

Another holiday weekend is starting out. This is the last scheduled three-day weekend until Good Friday, whenever that happens to be. (This is the first place I've ever lived where Good Friday is an official state holiday.)

So, to celebrate the extra day to accomplish stuff this weekend, I started out by getting a fairly slow start on the day. I had to head in to town to pick up a knitting needle and a few grocery odds and ends. I was successful in getting a size 4 circular needle and then decided to get some thin flannel fabric to use as a protective sheet between my laptop screen and keyboard. I killed some time wandering through a sporting goods store in search of a pair of light hiking shoes and then wandered through the bookstore a bit too. I got to the grocery store just about lunch time. This timing isn't always considered a good thing, but being hungry makes me shop faster and stick to my list because I'm in a hurry to get home and get something to eat.

My plan was to come home, throw open a couple of windows and start some serious spring cleaning. This isn't quite what happened. I did clean up the kitchen and vacuum, but didn't get my desks cleared off or my computers backed up. (On the backup front, is it a bad thing when your *horoscope* tells you to back things up this week?) I also sprayed some of the weeds in the backyard, cut the dead stuff out of the rosemary topiary and put all of this year's big gardening tasks onto my wall calendar. Now I'll have no excuse for forgetting to fertilize the lawn or prune the shrubs at the appropriate times. In a little while, I'll go fix dinner.

The big cleaning event will either start after dinner or wait until tomorrow morning. I'm finally going to get rid of the stuff that I've been meaning to use "real soon now", though "real soon now" has been coming soon for years. This includes art/craft supplies, books, magazines and even yarn. I will either start with the computer room or the living room. The bookshelves might not be a bad starting place either. The hard part will be staying focused on clearing things out, not getting sucked into what I could do with whatever objects I'm handling at the moment. I've thought about trying to limit myself to 30 minute blocks, but I think I would rapidly become frustrated by the slow overall rate of progress. Some stuff I might try to sell, but most of it will either be thrown out or taken to Goodwill. Hopefully I won't just end up cluttering up the living room with the piles of outgoing stuff and not actually finish the job.

More Tornado Damage Photos
The last bit of the fire station was knocked down on Friday. There's a dumpster in front of it to collect scrap metal as a fund raiser to re-build the station.

These powerlines were torn down when the tornado came through. They lead from the main TVA power distribution station, which I understand also had wind damage.

A couple of hurt houses. Someone was cutting up a fallen tree to the right of the first house. The wing at the back of the house looked to be undamaged, so perhaps the residents haven't been displaced. The piles of debris in the second photo used to be a two-story wooden house. I don't know how badly it was damaged prior to being pushed into a pile.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Meme! Meme! Meme!

Ok, a while back, Gecko tagged me for a meme. I'm finally getting around to responding. Here's the deal: Once you are tagged, link back to the person who tagged you.Post the rules on your blog. Post 7 random or weird facts about yourself on your blog. Tag 7 people and link to them. Comment on their blog to let them know they have been tagged. Now, I don't like to just tag random folks, so I'll let those of you who read my blog(s) tag yourselves and, should you choose to play along, post your 7 random things wherever you'd like.

Morenna's 7 Random Things:
  • I dislike chocolate, but I just made a batch of dark chocolate truffles and a batch of mint truffles to give away at work.
  • I've been an EMT for >14 years.
  • At some point in my life, I broke my right ankle, though it wasn't diagnosed until much later (thanks to a bad sprain when snowboarding). The ankle works just fine although I sometimes "click" when I walk.
  • I own two bicycles, two motorcycles and five computers.
  • In the winter, I preheat my bed with my electric blanket.
  • I once got lost in one of the Smithsonian museums. My hypothesis is that my parents were going too slowly, so I wandered ahead. (Note to grown-ups: 3 year olds don't stay to read the signs.) I also got lost at Disneyland, but in that case I stayed in the same place, watching Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day over and over again while the GROWN-UPS wandered off. I figure that makes us even. :-)
  • Until I went to college, I had never lived in a single place more than 3 years.
The Book Meme
I didn't actually get tagged for this one, but it sounded cool, so I'm playing along anyway. You open a book you're currently reading to page 161, and copy out sentence five. Here are my sentences:
  • "Let me tell you about paranoid," Shaftoe says, and he does, not forgetting to mention Lieutenant Ethridge and his wastebaskets. From Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson.
  • Because while change is not always growth, growth is always rooted in change. From The Orc King by R.A. Salvatore.
  • I watched them ferrying equipment up and down the stairs and decided that the most effective way to take over a country was not to bomb them at all, but to send Reality TV crews. From (Not That You Asked) by Steve Almond.
  • Return to your text editor and the sidebar.html file. From CSS the Missing Manual by David Sawyer McFarland.
  • gs -dNOBIND (it's a computer command) From Linux in a Nutshell by Siever, et al.
  • "However, there was also a dragon, who offered to trade that name for his own, to be rid of me; and I have thought that, where mages argue, dragons may be wise." From A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin.
So that's all I got for today. I did get in a pretty good workout though, so that's good. Now I think I'll go crawl into my preheated bed and read one of my books. I need to dig up my rant notes from the past week and get them organized.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Idiot Alert!

First, if you are driving and using one hand to talk on the cell phone, then choose to use the other hand to fluff your hair and pick your teeth, just what body part are you using to steer your vehicle? And please tell me that you are at least occasionally watching the road and not yourself in the rearview mirror. All I can say is that she must have looked at the road at least once because she didn't rear-end me, but I was expecting to be hit based on how much she was swerving in the lane behind me.

Second, if you have a travel mug that is still 1/3 full of coffee, please be advised that it may leak if you put it in your backpack and then lay your backpack flat. Fortunately I didn't put my travel mug in the part of my backpack with my library book and very little coffee actually spilled, but it could have been bad.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It's Tuesday, therefore the weather must suck!

Last week it was thunderstorms, wind and a tornado. This week it's freezing rain and sleet. The high temperature today was 63 degrees at midnight. When I left work at 4:30 it was 29 degrees. And raining lightly so as to more carefully glaze the roads. I scurried my little self home carefully and started downing large amounts of hot beverages to stay warm. Now I just need to pick the DVD or book for the evening.

Overheard conversation of the day:
I don't remember it exactly, but the gist of it was that people who decide to not have children should think about all the people who cannot have children and reconsider having children.

I am hoping I zoned out on part of this statement. Those of us who don't have kids are some how being offensive? Women are somehow obligated to have offspring or we're being rude? I have a reproductive tract, therefore I must use it? Hey, I don't want a kid, but I'll just pop one out so as to not offend someone. Gee, wouldn't you want to be *that* child. Ugh.

What made this conversation even more absurd was that the next discussion was to blast the women who "pop out kids all the time". Apparently women are obligated to reproduce but only within certain pre-determined parameters. There was no mention regarding the "proper" number of offspring a woman is supposed to have or when they are supposed to be produced, although disparaging noises were made when one of the conversants mentioned that they knew a woman who had a baby at the age of 43, so I'm guessing that is "too old".

Recent reading:
I just finished "The Good Eater" by Ron Saxen. It's a memoir/autobiography of a guy who was a binge eater. Given that the vast majority of persons with eating disorders are women, I think it's an important book. It was interesting to read about his disordered relationship with food and the events in his life that contributed to that relationship. The good news is that he eventually worked his way out of it, though precisely how that happened was a bit nebulous. The end of the book got a bit thin on details and seemed rushed.

I'm also reading (Not That You Asked) by Steve Almond. It's a collection of essays. The first one is a series of letters he "wrote" to Oprah. Very cynical sense of humor. Good bedtime or lunchtime reading. I'm partway through the second essay, which focuses on Kurt Vonnegut and the author's attempts to score an interview.

My lunchtime reading is about John Snow, cholera, water quality and public health. I can't remember the name of it though and the book is still at work.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Storm Damage Photos

The fire station located just down the road used to look like this:

It's a simple 3-bay, cinder block fire station.

After Tuesday night, it now looks like this:

These trees were just south of the fire station.

This used to be a house. A brick house. It is located about 1/4 mile northeast of the fire station. One car is still located where the garage used to be. Another car is half in the back yard.

This was part of the debris field Wednesday morning, looking north of the fire station. Some of the debris used to *be* the fire station. Notice that there are no cables at all on the utility pole.

Wednesday night when I got home from work, power crews were trying to restore power. If you look closely, there is a cherry picker basket up at the top of each of the three poles (the third pole is straight ahead of the red pickup truck). Power was restored at my house by about 6:30pm. I must give a big round of applause to the utility crews. These guys worked round the clock putting things back together. The weather Wednesday was cold, rainy and windy. Wednesday night the low temp was in the upper 20s.

Thursday night, the utility crews were stringing cable. You can see the cable hung temporarily across the road. I had internet service back by the end of Friday night (and cable TV, but that's minor relative to electricity and the internet, as far as I'm concerned).

Friday morning, I stopped by the Sheriff's Department Mobile Command Vehicle to drop off a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies and thank them for their work during the past week. The two men staffing the command post said they would find something to do with the cookies and thanked me. We all observed that it takes a whole lot longer to put things back together after Mother Nature knocks it down.

By Saturday morning, you can see all the cables are neatly strung again. I had a couple disruptions of power service today, but nothing that lasted more than 30 minutes.

This is the pile of discarded and damaged cables and transformers left at the base of one pole.

All in all, it wasn't a terribly bad experience for me. I lost power just before 7pm, either when the main power feed to the region from TVA was severed or when the substation was damaged. I waited the storm out in my hallway, listening to my weather radio. I had my shoes on, plus had my rain jacket and work gloves to hand, along with about six flashlights and two more battery-powered radios. Once the worst of the storm blew through, I sat in my car to charge my phone while I updated family. I didn't have too much trouble getting through with the cell phone. Ideally, I wanted to watch the radar returns during the storm, but I wasn't able to reliably access the internet via my cell phone. I did later get radar updates from a friend after the first two lines went through. By just after midnight, the last of the storm lines had moved through the area, so I felt pretty comfortable going to bed. Fortunately I have a gas water heater so I got to take a hot shower in the morning, even if I couldn't dry my hair afterward.

Sitting in the hallway wasn't too stressful. I figured the tornado would either hit the house or miss the house. There wasn't anything I was going to be able to do to change the path it chose, not that I didn't beam a mental barrier around my property when I got home from work. I later mentally told the storm to pass to the north of my house, but it decided to go south instead. I don't think the tornado should get any points off for confusing north and south. It missed. That's all I care about.

The storm sirens did go off well in advance of when the tornado arrived and before the power went out. The siren is actually located across the street from the fire station. When I heard the siren, I flipped the TV on to the local network TV affiliate and watched the hook return on the radar (the thing that indicates tornado location) pass over the interstate and continue heading northeast. Of course, the projected path put it on direct line to my house, so I put my shoes back on, and started gathering up important stuff (identification, gloves, radio, money and flashlights) in case I ended up out of my house. I believe in being prepared. It may seem like I over did things, but it's always easier to put things away after they aren't needed than to try and find them after the house is spread across the neighborhood.

During the peak of the storm, I could hear the wind roaring, but there wasn't any hail. The local news radio station was doing a good job of announcing where the radar showed the cells tracking. People would also call in and say when the tornado passed their location. Given the number of people who were apparently outside watching the tornado, it's a wonder more people weren't hurt or killed by flying debris. I won't even stand by a window to look and see if it's coming. In fact, I closed all the bedroom doors so that flying glass wouldn't enter the hallway.

I don't know that I care to repeat the experience any time soon, but it wasn't a bad time. It was exciting and kinda cool, but it does rather make a mess of things. This is the second F4 tornado that passed within a stone's throw of where I lived. (The previous one was over ten years ago in Urbana.) Because the storm damage was primarily inside Madison County, our regional emergency ops center wasn't activated and I didn't end up getting called into work for disaster stuff. We are going to have a meeting next week to discuss how things would have worked had we needed to mobilize and set up shelters.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Hooray! The Intartoobz are back!

My internet service was restored today. Yay! I was worried I'd be stuck having to actually clean my house this weekend, instead of catching up on e-mail, blogging, reading my favorite comics and surfing the internet.

I'll post pictures of the storm damage tomorrow. I've been exhausted the past few evenings, going to bed between 8 and 9pm. Last night I'm not even sure I made it to 8pm. Woke up at 1:30am, but only took about 20 minutes to go back to sleep. This morning I was actually fairly rested, so that was good. I got through the whole day without being tired at all, until I got home and the clock hit about 6pm. Then I got exhausted again.

Drive-by Cookie-ing!
I have been trying for three days to give homemade chocolate chip cookies to the utility crews and law enforcement folks at the command post a mile from my house. The traffic was either too heavy and there wasn't a place to pull off safely or there wasn't anybody standing around who appeared to be a good candidate to receive a bag of chocolate chip cookies. Until this morning. Of course there wasn't really anybody there at 7:30 this morning but the sheriff's department mobile command center. The two guys inside thought they could manage to put the cookies to good use and thanked me. I thanked them for staffing the command post since Tuesday night and for doing the job they do.

I still have one bag of cookies left and I'll drop them off at the power company office on Monday. The power at my house was restored on Wednesday night and I suspect the power crews worked all night. Thursday night the staging corner was overrun by AT&T trucks. Tonight it was power trucks everywhere and one cable truck. If I had to guess, I'd say the power guys were running "real" cables to replace the splices.

I really want to drive through the neighborhood and check out the local damage, but the only chance I've really had to do that has been after work, when traffic and utility crews have been at their peak, making rubbernecking a bad idea. Perhaps in the morning when I head in to buy groceries, the traffic will cooperate more. The two grocery stores I would frequent happen to each be on the edge of disaster areas, so either way I end up getting into it there too. I'd rather avoid the clean-up zones but it looks like I won't really be able to miss it.

In the meantime, I think I'll go to bed.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

tornado news

yes, an F4 tornado hit here. no, it did not damage my house. it did however destroy the cinder block fire station a mile from here. I still don't have power but it is still 70 degrees in my house and I have a gas-powered water heater, so that's ok.

i'm presently posting from my handy dandy smartphone so won't say much for now.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Giants Win!!!

And it was a darn good game. Pretty close to the end. I was very glad to see the Giants pull it off. Eli Manning was able to deliver long passes when his team needed it most.

I was particularly entertained by the Bud Light commercial featuring "Hank" and by the Coca-cola commercial with the Underdog, Stu and Charlie Brown inflatable figures. Both the Pepsi commercial with Justin Timberlake and the Doritos ad were very funny as well.

Today I discovered that I've been tagged for a meme. I'll get back to it tomorrow. I'm already up past my bedtime working on a job application. I've got two essays/rants written up as well. My Sunday morning pancake breakfast was very productive this week, even if I didn't actually fire up the laptop.

Friday, February 01, 2008

No Snow To Speak Of :-(

Well, this is all the "accumulation" I was able to find. There wasn't any visible snow on the grass or roads or in the ditches. Just on my deck. Pooh.

I know I'm supposed to like warm, snowless winters better. But I don't. I miss snow. It's kind of hard to have snowball fights, snow angels and successful cross-country skiing without it.

Plausible Deniability
I hearby attest that I had absolutely NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with the accidental severing of an underwater Internet backbone cable. In the past, I may have had some passing association with the catastrophic failure of various webservers, but I really really really didn't do this one. I promise I was at work in the mainland US, not cavorting around in the Mediterranean breaking cables. I wasn't even on the internet at the time of the breakage, so my mere web presence wasn't even the problem as has been asserted in the past with the aforementioned crashed webservers. So *there*!

SuperBowl Weekend
My tremendously exciting weekend will involve baking bread (the usual Oatmeal Toasting Bread from FarmGirl Fare), doing the usual chores around the house and then making pizza before watching the big game (or rather watching the commercials and mostly ignoring the game). Rumor has it that the weather might get into the 60s by Sunday, so I might have to get my motorcycle out for a spin. It could use the exercise.

What is it with Celebrities?
Why are people so obsessed with what "celebrities" do? When standing in the checkout line at the grocery store last night, it would seem that the major topics this week are what Heath Ledger may or may not have done in the weeks, months and years prior to his death and whether or not Angelina Jolie is pregnant and/or carrying twins. WHO CARES?!

So what if Heath Ledger was found with prescription sleeping medication "nearby". (If "nearby" includes the category "in the nightstand", then I suspect there are many people in the US alone who have been found deceased or asleep with prescription medications "nearby.) Sometimes young men die. I'm not saying it isn't/wasn't tragic, but in 2005, there were 10,323 deaths per 100,000 white males aged 25-29 years. So what if he may have used marijuana or cocaine in his life. That's not necessarily a rare occurrence in some circles, including politics, sports and the entertainment industry.

So, A
ngie and Brad may be reproducing. I'm happy for them if it's true, but I don't particularly care and frankly don't think it's anybody's business but theirs. It's not like they don't have the resources to care for their current kids and then some. Don't get me wrong, I like them and I think they're very talented actors who have made a point of using their influence and resources to benefit others, but they're also entitled to a private life.

I really don't understand the gossip/tabloid industry. Obviously there is a large market for these publications. Are people's lives so incredibly pathetic and boring that they must live vicariously through others? Are they so insecure that they must exploit the misfortunes of others to feel better about themselves and gloat about their superiority? Can you imagine how different the world could be if people took the time and money spent on the gossip stuff and put it to something to better themselves? Reading a book. Going for a walk. Heck, *writing* a book. Volunteering somewhere. *Doing* something, instead of relying on someone else to live for them. I really wish people would stop watching imaginary people live fake lives on television and would actually live themselves (or at least significantly reduce TV watching from an average 4.5 hours per day). The US population would be a whole lot healthier and probably a lot smarter and more productive as well.