Monday, December 31, 2007

Can't you see, this is the land of delusion?

Delusion arises from anger. The mind is bewildered by delusion. Reasoning is destroyed when the mind is bewildered. One falls down when reasoning is destroyed.

              --the Bhagavad Gita

In listening to some of the conversations overheard in various airports during our trip, it's amazing--and sad--to see the extent that some folks believe their own faulty logic. Check this out:

A delusion is an unshakable belief in something untrue. These irrational beliefs defy normal reasoning, and remain firm even when overwhelming proof is presented to dispute them. Delusions are often accompanied by hallucinations and/or feelings of paranoia, which act to strengthen confidence in the delusion. Delusions are distinct from culturally or religiously based beliefs that may be seen as untrue by outsiders.

Delusions are a common symptom of several mood and personality-related mental illnesses, including schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia, shared psychotic disorder, major depressive disorder, and bipolar disorder. They are also the major feature of delusional disorder. Individuals with delusional disorder suffer from long-term, complex delusions that fall into one of six categories: persecutory, grandiose, jealousy, erotomanic, somatic, or mixed.

From what I was hearing today, it was very much persecutory. I.e., it's "not MY fault," and "it's certainly not MY doing." Uh-huh.

Persecutory type:

*Patients believe that they are being persecuted and harmed (Fennig, 2005).

*In contrast to persecutory delusions of schizophrenia, the delusions are systematized, coherent, and defended with clear logic. No deterioration in social functioning and personality is observed (Manschreck, 2000).

*Patients are often involved in formal litigation against their perceived persecutors. Munro (1999) refers to an article by Freckelton who identifies the following characteristics of deluded litigants: determination to succeed against all odds, tendency to identify the barriers as conspiracies, endless drive to right a wrong, quarrelsome behaviors, and "saturating the field" with multiple complaints and suspiciousness (Munro, 1999).

*Patients often experience some degree of emotional distress such as irritability, anger, and resentment (Fennig, 2005). In extreme situations, they may resort to violence against those who they believe are hurting them (APA, 2000)

*The distinction between normality, overvalued ideas, and delusions is difficult to make in some of the cases (Fennig, 2005).

*Individuals with persecutory delusional disorder are plagued by feelings of paranoia and an irrational yet unshakable belief that someone is plotting against them, or out to harm them.

Psychiatric definition

Although non-specific concepts of madness have been around for several thousand years, the psychiatrist and philosopher Karl Jaspers was the first to define the three main criteria for a belief to be considered delusional in his book General Psychopathology. These criteria are:

*certainty (held with absolute conviction)

*incorrigibility (not changeable by compelling counterargument or proof to the contrary)

*impossibility or falsity of content (implausible, bizarre or patently untrue)

In the most recent DSM, a delusion is defined as "A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everybody else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary. The belief is not one ordinarily accepted by other members of the person's culture or subculture (e.g., it is not an article of religious faith)."

Some serious stuff. Such persecutorial delusions are the stuff of true mental disturbances, if not outright mental illness. Stories of false recollections are rampant. There have been many stories of false memories of sexual abuse and/or humiliation--often instigated by unscrupulous psychologists or psychiatrists--as well as incorrect memories or illusions of what constitutes the reality of things. Sometimes it's merely a matter of people lying to further their own agenda, maybe because they actually believe their own rhetoric. Either way, it's a seriously warped view of reality. I find it quite creepy.

Back home Indiana!

Hey, it's great to be back home! Sheeba also seems happy--he's curled up on my lap as I type!

We spent a few days in Springfield, Missouri with Ken's mom and step dad. We had a really nice time with family. They both have had some past health problems, and some ongoing ones, so it was good to spend some time with them. I also got to meet Ken's stepsister and her husband, and I liked them very much. I'll get a picture or two up before too long. Ken's mom has a cat named Scamper, and I'll get a pic of him up, too. He's one of the fattest, funniest, and sweetest cats I've met! He's not as fat as Shane's lovable Peanut, but he looks bigger because he has long hair. And a big thanks to Uncle Shane for taking care of his "nephew." Thanks, Shane!

One of the places we went was the original BassPro store. Holy moley! The place is huge. I'd only been to the one in Gurnee Mills, Illinois. The whole hunting culture bothers me--I don't have a huge problem with people who hunt and do it honestly, but after living in close proximity to lots of wildlife, I really can't see how anyone can kill an animal for sport. (Forgive me, Ted Nugent.) I could do it if I were starving, but Seeing all the mounted deer heads and stuffed critters kind of bugged me, and apparently it bugs Ken's mom, too. But like she said, if you can get past that, it's an interesting place. We had a beer in the lounge, and they have a huge aquarium behind the bar--we enjoyed watching the different types of (live) fish. They were beautiful! It was also fun to look at the boats, especially the pontoon boats. I can totally see us floating lazily along, enjoying the sun and the outdoors. However, due to a bit of a dearth of lakes close by, we agreed we'd be better off looking at a small travel trailer to use for road trips. One day, we the not-too-distant future!

Speaking of road trips, Route 66 goes through Springfield. Most of the original road in the city is obliterated now, but I think some stretches survive as frontage roads. We didn't have time to explore any of that, but I was excited to see several houses with great examples of stone siding, like this one place on Route 66--I can't remember if it's a motel or a gas station, but it has the flat stone siding. I saw quite a few houses like that. Some had white mortar, but I saw at least one with black mortar. In fact, Ken's stepsister and her husband have a really neat house that is a combination of this stone and wood. I wonder if it's a uniquely Missouri design, or if it appears in other areas? (In Indiana, we have lots of limestone houses, because there are huge quarries in southern Indiana. The house where my family lived when I was born is Indiana limestone.) I wish I could have gotten some pictures of the houses we saw in Missouri, but here's one I found on

I don't know if they still build them, but they look early- to mid-20th century to me. I think they look really cool and old-fashioned, like a little cottage in a little village. It's a hobbit house!

Another thing we did was watch a fun movie. Ken's mom had mentioned that they like the "Die Hard" movies, and wanted to see the new one. We got it and watched it Saturday afternoon--what a blast! We all really enjoyed it, and it made us decide to buy the boxed set of all the Die Hard movies. Bruce Willis can still kick some ass! I give the movie a definite must-see.


I forgot to mention that I have a whole bunch of new recipes to try. One of the things that Ken's mom and I have in common is a mutual love of cookbooks. She says she finds it so relaxing to page through a cookbook and think about whether or not she'd like to make that. I do the same thing! I went through a bunch of her cookbooks and found some things that I want to try. I look for recipes that don't have tons of ingredients, and use things that I'm likely to have on hand. I'm also wary of any recipe that calls for marinating steaks. There are some cuts that do well with a marinade, but T-bones, Porterhouses, and other such cuts need nothing extra. We bought some beautiful T-bones to take over to Ken's stepsister's, and had a great cookout. No marinating required! It makes my Dad crazy when he sees people put ketchup on steak. Ground beef is one thing, but ketchup on steak? Blasphemy!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I could get used to this....

For the third day in a row, I was able to leave early. Ken said, "I hope you aren't getting too used to these early days!" I said, "I think I already am!"

I was talking to Jillian about it today (she's worked the past three days, too), and I told Ken what I told her: there's something about working on Christmas that seems to get to me psychologically. I leave for work at 6:15 AM, and there are very few cars on the road at that time--on Christmas morning, it seems like a ghost town. Almost everyone is with their families, and it makes me sad to work on stuff from people who are in the hospital--I wish they could be with their families. I knew that Ken was here at home, and I wished I could be here with him and Sheeba. It all conspired to make me feel like I just had to get out of there as soon as possible! I have plenty of vacation time, so it was no big deal to take a few hours this week. Now I'm actually ON vacation, so it will give me time to recuperate.

Surprisingly warm again today--our thermometer reads 46°. It doesn't sound like we're supposed to get much snow in the next few days, either. It's certainly been a strange December.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

An early Christmas present

Today was so quiet at work that I was able to be home by noon! I appreciate the holiday pay and all, but if there's no work to be done, I'd just as soon be home. Ken and I will make a few phone calls soon, then open our presents. We had a great time with my family last night, and Dad showed the slides, so it was fun to see all the old pictures. A couple of people were unable to make it because they didn't feel well, so here's hoping they feel better soon.

I hope everyone is enjoying the day, and all your blessings.

And later, after Christmas presents....

I'm listening to the Nutcracker while Ken naps. Lots of fun stuff--I went heavy on the DVD's and CD's for Ken, along with a book or two (one of them is Barack Obama's first book, one is about the Pacific Coast Highway, which we've traveled together a couple of times), and I got some cool Lucy shirts, and the prettiest, softest pink robe, with Lucy hearts on the front and on the rear's so cute and so pretty! I might have to get some white sunglasses to wear with it around the house! Other cool presents, like my I Love Lucy cap...Ken knows me very well!

I also got some great kitchen gadgets. I know that's the last thing some people want, but I LOVE kitchen gadgets. I got a chocolate melter thingie--I foresee chocolate dipped strawberries in our future! I also got a cooker that can be used as a deep fryer/steamer/slow cooker. I think I'll mostly use it for a deep fryer, because I don't have one. I foresee Crab Rangoon in our future! My other gadget is an electric garlic baker. Yahoo! We're currently using a little terra cotta garlic baker that works well (especially when you remember to turn on the oven!), but this will be much easier to clean, and it will also do THREE HEADS of garlic instead of one. I foresee roasted garlic dressing and mashed potatoes and bruschetta--and anything else you can think of with roasted garlic--in our future!

I got a beautiful book from Kim and Steve--an Audubon Life List Journal, where you write about when and where you saw various birds. It's just gorgeous, and I'm looking forward to writing about my bird sightings!

We're listening to Chris Isaak's Christmas CD now--it's one of our favorites. Mele Kilikimaka!

One of the silliest presents from today was one of the stocking presents I got for Ken. It was just a joke present, but it turned out to be kind of cool! It's a USB glitter light. Just plug it into your computer and let it do its thing. I find my eyes drawn to it a little too colors....

Hope you all had a great Christmas!

A little later

Now we're listening to Harry Connick, Jr., and the song that is playing is "This Christmas." I love this one. We saw Harry a few years ago, and he's one of our favorites. Now it's his New Awlins version of "Silent Night," and this makes me makes me hope and pray that New Orleans will heal...soon. We'd like to go down for a visit next year.

Speaking of music, I forgot to mention that Ken got me DVD's of most of Elvis's movies. I asked him, "Do you realize how bad some of these are? And that you're going to be watching them with me?" Ha! But they are so cool and so cheesy! I love 'em! One that isn't in the collection is "Viva Las Vegas," and we'll get that one soon.

My sis Diana made us all egg and sausage casseroles for today--thanks Di! It's warming in the oven, and what a nice thing to not have to worry about cooking today!


Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas cheer

We'll be heading down to my folks' house soon to spend the evening with my family, so I'll take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful holiday!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Nothin' says Christmas like a creepy movie....

Okay...I know we're way behind on our must-see horror movies. I can't believe we haven't watched this one before now, but tonight's movie was "American Psycho."

Holy crap. This was utterly creepy and wonderful, in a very sick way. Christian Bale...whoa. It gave me the heebie-jeebies in a big way, but there's no denying that it was very well done, because it really chilled me. Excellent--I loved it.

Windy City South

The wind has continued all day, and the local news says that wind gusts tonight will be 50-70 mph. I told Ken, "We'll lose a tree or two, if that really happens." Keep your fingers crossed for us--and our trees--tonight!

Colts won, and the Bears got a big victory over the Packers. I'm not sure about the impact of either of these games--Colts had already clinched the division, and I think the Packers did, too--and Colts already had a bye week for the first round. Ken says the Bears' win over the Packers was more of a symbolic thing, because they're big rivals.

Hard to believe it's just two days before Christmas! This month just flew by. After I get off work tomorrow, we'll head down to my folks' place and have Christmas with my family. After I get off work on Christmas day, Ken and I will celebrate our Christmas and open our presents. We'll spend time later in the week with some of Ken's family. Although things didn't work out as we'd hoped, we have adjusted, and as I told Ken, "Sometimes things happen for a reason." More to come, I'm sure!

The wind is just crazy right now. It's almost scary, but it's good to be inside.

This just might bring a tear to your eye

No intro or commentary...just enjoy.

I'm as happy as a little girl

I feel like I'm addicted to these quizzes right now--some of them are stupid, but it's still a lot of fun! How about this one?

Your Life is Better Than 87% of All People
You really lucked out. Your life is ideal and practically perfect.
You shouldn't have a care or worry in the world...
And make sure you remember that when something little gets you down.
Most people would kill for your life. So be happy that you're the one living it!

Blow me down!

Last week, we had a snowstorm that gave us about 8" of snow. Yesterday, it got up to 50°, and almost all of the snow is gone--there are just a few spots out in the marshy area behind our yard. Today the winds are howling. It was so loud that it woke me up around 3 AM, and I half expected to hear a tree going down. So far everything is intact, but the winds are still crazy. We're getting a little dusting of snow, but nothing major so far. What a good day to stay inside!

Shane and I had a good laugh the other day. He sent me a YouTube video of "Zoom," a kids' show that aired in the '70's on PBS. I told him it was a total flashback to watch that! We wrote about how it woud be almost impossible to explain to a kid today about how we had only four channels, and one of them was PBS. We were excited when a fifth channel was added--it was a religious channel, but sometimes they showed old sitcoms. How many channels do we have now with satellite? And how many times do we find ourselves saying, "There's nothing on!" Anyway, it got me to thinking about another show from my youth: a homegrown show called "Beyond Our Control" which was done by a Junior Achievement group of high school kids. If I recall, it aired on Sunday afternoons, and I was a faithful viewer. It aired in the '60's and '70's, and while it seems primitive by today's standards, it was actually quite innovative for its time. With plenty of focus on pop culture and commercials, I would say it was the teenage progenitor of ensemble/skit shows like "Saturday Night Live" and "Fridays." There are several videos on YouTube, and it was fun to watch them. For a sampling, I present to you "Toast-R-Soup":

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Santa, please don't make me wrap anymore....

It is done!

Yes, I believe both Ken and I have finished wrapping presents. What a relief--I feel like a burden has been lifted! We enjoy giving presents, we really do, but I can't say that we enjoy wrapping them. However, I have to admit that handing someone an unwrapped present and saying, "Here you go" just doesn't have the same appeal, no matter how cool the present. And here's a question for you: do you wrap stocking presents? We do. That means lots of small presents to wrap. It's a lot of fun to open each little stocking present, though!

A very productive day--we got all of our errands done early, and I got home before noon! I was driving Blacky (Ken's Mustang), and Ken was driving the truck, so he took the opportunity to get me some stocking presents. I think we're actually done. YES! I told Ken today that one of the best presents he's ever given me is the urge to do Christmas shopping early--I've been buying online for some time now, and it's so great to have it done early and not have to worry about going out to shop! I honestly can't comprehend anyone who waits until the last minute, and goes to the mall to shop on Christmas Eve. That's some mighty strange behavior.

So...Hubby took the Keirsey test, and looks like he's the same as me: The Inspector. Looks like Ken and Shane and I are all very similar in our thoughts and personality! Hm!

Hope you all had a good day!


We were both quite chilled last night, and when we got up this morning, I said that I'd bring up the down comforter today. It sounded pretty good at the time, but our thermometer currently reads 49.8°. That's right--it's December 22 in northern Indiana, and it's almost 50°. Freakish. I did bring up the comforter from the basement, but it is currently on the floor in one of the spare bedrooms.


I've got Wessonality! Err...PERsonality!

I've been posting all these little tests on here in the past couple of days. They're just fun and silly, and I think most people like to answer a few questions and get a little snippet of information. One that I re-encountered, though, is a little more "meaty." It's the Keirsey Temperament sorter.

It's similar to the Myers-Briggs test. I think a lot of people have taken this--it's the one that tells you if you're INFJ, ESTJ, etc. I had run across it on the Web several years ago, and one day I was talking to my friend Alissa at work, and the subject came up. Turns out she was really interested in it already, had the book, and had shared it with a few others--it was quite a hot topic at work for a while! When I took the test then, I was The Counselor (I forget what the letter combination was for it). I took it again yesterday, and in the intervening years (at least five, probably more like seven), it seems that I've turned into The Inspector (ISTJ). At first I wondered about that, but I took a couple of different versions, and both came back with the same results. This isn't an all-encompassing personality test like the MMPI, and after I thought about it, it makes sense that circumstances and experience over several years might change your outlook somewhat.

While any results from a test like this should be taken with a grain of salt, I think it's a fun exercise and a way to think about your attitude and outlook on life. For example, my change from The Counselor to The Inspector shows me that I need to be careful about not losing my empathy for others, not to let myself become too blunt in my comments, and to not completely ignore my intuition by focusing only on the facts. Take it yourself! One version of the test can be found here, or take the official Keirsey site test. Find a summary of the different Keirsey types here. Are you an Architect like Thomas Jefferson? A Promoter like Franklin D. Roosevelt? Or an Inspector like Warren Buffet--and me? In the meantime, here's me: The Inspector.

The Portait of the Inspector (ISTJ)

Inspector Guardians look carefully and thoroughly at the people and institutions around them. Making up perhaps as much as ten percent of the general population, Inspectors are characterized by decisiveness in practical affairs, are the guardians of institutions, and if only one adjective could be selected, "superdependable" would best describe them. Whether at home or at work, Inspectors are nothing if not dependable, particularly when it comes to examining the people and products they are responsible for--quietly seeing to it that uniform quality is maintained, and that those around them uphold certain standards of attitude and conduct.

These quiet, no-nonsense Guardians have a distaste for and distrust of fanciness in speech, dress, and living space. Their words tend to be simple and down-to-earth, not showy or high-flown; their clothes are often homespun and conservative rather than of the latest fashion; and their home and work environments are usually neat, orderly, and traditional, rather than up-to-date or luxurious. In their choice of personal property (cars, furnishings, jewelry, and so on) price and durability are just as important as comfort or appearance. Classics, antiques, and heirlooms are especially valued, having achieved a certain time-honored status--Inspectors prefer the old-fashioned to the newfangled every time. Even on vacation, Inspectors tend not to be attracted by exotic foods, beverages, or locales.

Their thoroughness and orderliness, combined with their interest in legality and standardization, leads Inspectors to a number of occupations that call for the careful administration of goods and services. Inspectors feel right at home with difficult, detailed forms and columns of figures, and thus they make excellent bank examiners, auditors, accountants, and tax attorneys. Managing investments in securities is likely to interest this type, particularly investments in municipal bonds and blue-chip securities. Inspectors are not likely to take chances either with their own or others' money, and the thought of a bankrupt nation, state, institution, or family gives them more than a little uneasiness. The idea of dishonoring a contract also bothers an Inspector--their word is their bond--and they naturally communicate a message of trustworthiness and stability, which can make them successful in business. With their eye for detail, Inspectors make good business men and women, librarians, dentists, optometrists, legal secretaries, and law researchers. High school and college teachers of business administration, home economics, physical education, civics, and history tend to be Inspectors, as do quartermaster officers in the military.

Queen Elizabeth II, Harry S Truman, Warren Buffet, Queen Victoria, James K. Polk, and J.D. Rockefeller are examples of Inspector Guardians.

ISTJs are very loyal, faithful, and dependable. They place great importance on honesty and integrity. They are "good citizens" who can be depended on to do the right thing for their families and communities. While they generally take things very seriously, they also usually have an offbeat sense of humor and can be a lot of fun - especially at family or work-related gatherings.

ISTJs have tremendous respect for facts. They hold a tremendous store of facts within themselves, which they have gathered through their Sensing preference. They may have difficulty understanding a theory or idea which is different from their own perspective. However, if they are shown the importance or relevance of the idea to someone who they respect or care about, the idea becomes a fact, which the ISTJ will internalize and support. Once the ISTJ supports a cause or idea, he or she will stop at no lengths to ensure that they are doing their duty of giving support where support is needed.

In general, the ISTJ has a tremendous amount of potential. Capable, logical, reasonable, and effective individuals with a deeply driven desire to promote security and peaceful living, the ISTJ has what it takes to be highly effective at achieving their chosen goals--whatever they may be.

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Foggy Mountain Breakdown

A very foggy morning here at Nutwood. The bare trees look mysterious and spooky against the fog. The snow is melting, because at 8:00 AM, it's already in the low 40's. The rain is supposed to start this afternoon and turn to snow tonight and into tomorrow. I'm glad we're done with Christmas shopping, but we do need to run some errands this morning: Blacky needs an oil change; a stop at Lowe's to pick up a salt spreader and some birdseed; and a stock-up run at the discount grocery store. I should be able to finish wrapping things this afternoon, then we can just relax and watch some football. More later! Oh, and here's another quiz--this one is for my fellow book lovers!

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Literate Good Citizen
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Friday, December 21, 2007

Here's another one

I had a feeling this is what I'd be. I used to love reading Greek and Roman mythology, and I always thought Artemis/Diana was the coolest.

You Are Artemis!
Brave, and a natural born leader.
You're willing to fight for what you believe in...
And willing to make tough decisions.
Don't forget - the people around you have ideas too!

A nice surprise

We got a Christmas card today from Dan, owner of Dewey Construction. He's the one who did our garage this summer, and did such a great job on it! I thought it was really nice of him to send us a card (and now that I have his home address, we'll start sending him one, too), and when I opened it, he'd written "To the best customers ever. Thank you!" Awww! There was another envelope in the card, and when I opened it, I think I actually gave a little gasp of delight. He sent us a $50 gift card to what is probably the nicest restaurant in town! What a nice thing to do, and it totally made my day. What a great guy.

We had a great day at work today, with everyone finishing up early. That bodes well for the weekend, as well as Christmas eve and Christmas day (I have to work both). My family always has its Christmas on Christmas eve, so we'll be heading down to my folks' place shortly after I get home. We decided we'd all like to see our family photos again, so Dad is breaking out the projector and we'll watch some slides. I don't think Ken has ever seen these, so I hope he won't be too bored! Last time we did this, we had a lot of fun, and I know we'll have fun this year, too.

I'm so glad it's the weekend!


Fun little quizzies galore! Here's one I just took (and remember, these things are just for fun):

Your Dominant Thinking Style: Modifying
Super logical and rational, you consider every fact available to you.
You don't make rash decisions and are rarely moved by emotion.

You prefer what's known and proven - to the new and untested.
You tend to ground those around you and add stability.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

One thing nice, one thing funny

I was happy our UPS guy caught me at home tonight. Poor guy, it was almost 6 PM, and he said, "Whew, long day!" I signed for the package, and asked if he can accept gift cards. He said sure, so I handed him a gift card for our local grocery store. He thanked me, and I said, "You deliver so many packages to us, and we really appreciate it!" He seemed genuinely happy about it, so I'm glad I caught him. He's really a nice guy--he even knows now to watch out for Sheeba, who is liable to dart out the door.

Speaking of Sheeba, the funny thing has to do with him. He was getting kind of crazy, running around and yowling a bit. He managed to run into some of the packages under the tree, and after that, a couple of them started buzzing and moving. I was already cracking up, and Sheeba was VERY intrigued. I found the culprit under a gift from Ken to me. It was a gift from Baxter (Kim and Steve's cat) to Sheeba. I couldn't figure out how to stop the buzzing through the gift wrap, so I had to close myself in the bathroom to keep Sheeba out, and was able to just unwrap part of it and turn it off. I won't spill the beans in case Sheeba reads this while we're at work, but I think he will enjoy it very much! I hope he doesn't run into it again while we're at work--I can imagine what it would look like in here when I got home!

Vegas in the air

When we were decorating the tree the other day, Ken hung an ornament I'd gotten for him in Vegas. It made us both go, "Ooo...Vegas." No trips anytime soon, but we'll get back there before too long.

At work today, Teresa was talking about taking a trip to the Vegas area, for a visit to a spa, possibly a spin around the Vegas track (she loves NASCAR), and just some general fun. She's single and rarely travels, so we all encouraged her to do something like that. She said she knew that I had a blast in Vegas, and she thinks it might be a place she'd like to visit. She says she's not much of a gambler, but there are so many other things to do there!

I just read fellow blogger Jimmy's Journal, and he wrote about funny things that flight attendants have said. It reminded me of our memorable flight to Las Vegas in '07. There was a guy a couple of rows ahead of us who had obviously had too much to drink. Everyone was all buckled in and the plane was ready to start taxiing when the guy decided he had to use the bathroom. The flight attendant told him he'd have to wait until we got in the air, but he was insistent, and would not sit down. She finally said, "If you don't sit down by the time I count to ten, I'll call the captain. One...two...." She actually started a countdown! But he sat down before she got to three. We got in the air, and a little bit later, we heard a commotion coming from where the guy was sitting. I thought, "Oh man, what's he doing now?" I fully expected we'd have to land soon so they could get the guy off the plane. I heard muttering from the people in front of us: "Awww, man...he puked!"

Sure enough, another flight attendant (this one male) came and got the guy and escorted him to the bathroom. The guy had puked down the front of his shirt. It was disgusting. The flight attendant got the guy's carryon bag, and they kept him at the back of the plane for most of the rest of the flight, while the flight attendant cleaned up his seat. We were all kind of snickering about it, and the FA told us, "He's wearing whatever he had in his bag, so don't laugh at him when he comes back, okay?" Well, when the guy came back, he was wearing shorts and a T-shirt--it looked like what he'd sleep in--and shower flip-flops. No one said anything...except for the flight attendant, who under his breath said, "Nice shoes." Hee heeee!

I don't blame the guy. I'd be pretty pissed, too, if I had to clean up the drunk guy's barfage.

The moral of this story is: whether flying to Las Vegas or any other destination, do not drink too much. Not only will you end up ruining a shirt, your fellow passengers and even the flight attendants will laugh at you. That's no fun!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A cool video

Our friend Bill (AKA Coach) sent Ken this video, and I thought it was so neat. We're all aging, and I think this points out quite nicely that we cannot afford to ignore our elders. Before I put up the video, that reminds me of a "Sopranos" episode the other night. Tony was talking about how all the older relatives and family members were dying, so Tony and his bunch are the elders now. That gave me quite a shiver, because the same thing is happening in my family...many of my elderly relatives--my aunts and uncles that were so much a part of my childhood--are no longer with us, and it's pretty sobering to think that I am an "elder" to so many of my young cousins, second- and third-removed. Weird...I don't feel  like an elder! Okay, here's the video (the tribute to The Who is obvious, but can you spot The Beatles reference?):

A quote: discuss amongst yourselves

"A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything. Jealousy is invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity."

                                                                                           Lazarus Long, a Robert A. Heinlein character

A healthy dose of self-confidence is exactly that: healthy. As a shy person, it took me quite a while to reach that point, and I'll admit to an extreme loathing of public speaking. But on the rare occasion when I have to do it, once I get going, I'm fine.

Sometimes I encounter people who are very unsure of themselves. They second-guess their decisions, and they often feel as if they are doing the wrong thing. Self-confidence is a natural outcome of competency. My feeling is that I will do the best I can, and when I make a decision, it will be an informed one based on my experience and education. If I'm correct, then I've built my confidence. If I'm incorrect, I learn from my mistake and do it right--or at the very least, better--the next time. We have to give ourselves permission to feel confident about things. If we have properly prepared, whether for a test, a job interview, or for life in general, I believe it is a positive thing to enter into it knowing that we know the material, we know our strengths, and we know how to live our life as a decent and kind person.

Insecurities and a constant need for reassurance are never attractive traits. When I was single, it was my experience that most guys found self-confidence an attractive trait. I'm pretty sure Ken found it so, although I won't speak for him. It's something that goes both ways, too. I dated guys that constantly needed attention, and believe me, it was very draining, and eventually, extremely irritating. The above quote states that "jealousy is...a symptom of neurotic insecurity." This certainly applies in our life together, because neither of us is "jealous" of each other's solitude or time alone. We are both content to read our books, work on whatever we're working on, or in Ken's case, play an occasional round of golf on the weekend. I'm quite happy to do my own thing here at home, and I am not jealous of the time he spends on the golf course. Why? Because I'm confident and secure, and have many interests and many things to keep me occupied. (I'll start golfing next summer...I'm sure I won't feel quite so confident about that!)

So please...feel free to let your self-confidence show. I find it much more appealing than the alternative. Seems pretty simple to me.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It's a big world out there

I've been doing a little surfing, and it really is amazing what you can find. I found a blog written by a foodie guy in Australia, and read about his friends and their Bite Club, where they fix elaborate meals for each other. I read a blog by a guy in Texas, also a foodie (both blogs had lots of recipes that looked really yummy). I read a blog by a woman in Canada who is a writer, and working on a book. All were incredibly well-written and interesting. I followed a few links and found some cool sites, too! One that I will definitely use is ideas and questions for blog topics, instead of just writing about things around here every day (although I'll still do that most of the time).

We've all read some blogs that are not very good, and not very well-written.  Some are downright nutty. But if you keep looking, you'll find some amazing stuff--for every crummy one, you can find ten good ones. Unless it's just my surfing habits that tend to lead me to the good ones...if I read one that I think is good or that piques my interest, I'm more likely to follow their links to blogs THEY enjoy reading, and so on. There is just so much out there, and so many diverse interests to explore! It makes you remember how many fun and interesting people are in our world. And chances are, you've got plenty of them in your own back yard! Not literally, of course. That would be creepy.

So in the spirit of discovering new things, I'll choose one of the aforementioned blog questions and write about it. we go! I had one picked out, but then found a Christmas-related one. I have to go with that one! "Which Christmas song is your favorite and why?"

I choose "O Holy Night." It starts out slowly and quietly, and there's a slight minor key in parts of it that I think really adds to the impact of the song. It builds to a big finish when you hit the "oh niiiiight, diVIIIIIINE" part, and it always gives me chills. My current favorite version is Brian Setzer's. He's got such a great voice, and he does a wonderful job with the song.

There. That was a simple one. I'll tackle a tougher one soon, I promise.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Baze-eh-ball been bery bery all of us

I haven't written yet about the Mitchell Report concerning steroid usage in baseball. I wrote about Barry Bonds' indictment the other day, but I just haven't had the gumption to write much about this until now, mostly because of a deep-seated feeling of disgust.

I'm a fan of Charles Barkley, partly because he once said that he wasn't a role model for kids--their parents are supposed to be the role models. While I like Sir Charles' sentiment, I'm afraid it's not that simple. People DO look up to professional athletes. Even as adults, we look up to athletes. Ken and I both admire Tiger Woods, I really admire Peyton Manning, and who could NOT love someone like Walter Payton? (RIP, Sweetness) That makes the Mitchell Report all the more dismaying.

I love sports. I love the competition of it, I love seeing athletes working hard and trying to do their best. Athletes like Larry Bird and Reggie Miller (I know there are many others, but those are two of my favorites) practiced for hours on end to perfect their shooting and their game. And it's pretty obvious that neither of those guys took steroids! Tiger and Peyton are known for their commitment to bettering their play--they study for hours on end, and they work hard to strive to be the best. THAT is why I love sports.

Using steroids is cheating. That's all there is to it. It is using drugs to enhance performance. There are many to blame for this shameful time in professional athletics: the players themselves for using the drugs and sullying the profession; the owners and managers who have turned a blind eye to this problem; the doctors and trainers who give the players the drugs, then take the money and run; and the fans who want a win or a championship at any cost, whether it's to the good name of athletes and sports in general, or to the health of the players. In my opinion, however, the greatest responsibility lies with the commissioner. This has been an obvious problem for many years, and while the NFL and the NBA have cracked down and required serious testing, the baseball higher-ups have dragged their feet and let the problem get so out of control that it caused a major investigation.

Mandatory testing is not perfect. Marion Jones managed to make it through the stringent IOC testing requirements. But at least the Olympics are obviously serious about not allowing doping, and the NFL and NBA have made great strides. It's time for baseball to step up and realize that the majority of fans want to see great games, great teams, and great players, but they don't want to see it happen through questionable and dishonest means.

For the love of sports, clean up your act, Baseball.

Speaking of sports, I think Rory Sabbatini needs to shut his trap.

Tell me how this is possible

Our thermometer says it's 28° here now. I just got in from taking out the recycling, and there was a slight wind, so it felt even colder. I actually worked up a sweat! I had to make four trips to carry it all out to the road (I kept repeating, "Recycling is good. Recycling is good."), and apparently it was a bit of a workout. Only my feet are cold right now.

Some might think that this entry is merely a way of procrastinating about the next thing on my list. But they'd be wrong. I LOVE to wrap presents. It's one of my favorite things to do. You know that song, "My Favorite Things"? If I had written that, it would go "raindrops on roses and giftwrapping presents." Heck, sometimes I'll wrap an empty box in the summertime, just so I can remember how much I love wrapping.


This has nothing to do with any of this, but it makes me laugh. Well, I guess the torture aspect is there. "Have you got all the stuffing at one end?"


Okay, I stopped procrastinating and got going. I'm taking a break from Round One--got the kids' stuff wrapped and packed in a box, ready to ship. Round Two will be Ken's presents, and I'm starting to think that I may be able to get it done today! It helps to listen to some Christmas music. First was "Christmas with the Rat Pack," and now it's one of my favorites: "Tis the Season for Los Straitjackets." Much like the fabulous Ventures' Christmas album, they start the songs with a riff from a surf music classic, then go into a Christmas song. It's fun stuff, and it really does put me in a good mood!

And...I'm spent

From the "You Know You're Getting Older When..." File: After wrapping presents for a few hours, you feel like you've been hit by a truck. Okay, I exaggerate. I only feel like I've been hit by a Mini-Cooper.Part of it is my own fault, because I like to sit cross-legged on the floor when I wrap. My legs don't like it quite as much. The good news? Ken's presents are wrapped! YES! I haven't wrapped the stocking presents yet, and I have a few non-Ken presents to wrap, but I can do that this weekend. All his main presents are wrapped, though. What a relief to have that done! I also got everything done on my list. Who rocks? I rock, that's who.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A picture or three

Ken put up the tree last night, but something seemed a little off....

What a difference a day makes! This looks much better.

And Christmas Sheeba sends you all season's greetings. (Note the red and green eyes.)

Ken got a good picture of our snowy back yard.

Hope you're all safe and warm tonight!



Snow more

It's only mid-December, and I'm ready for spring! This was our first BIG storm of the year. It snowed all last night, and when I got up to get ready for work, it looked like about 6 inches on the deck, and it was still snowing. I knew I wouldn't make it out of the driveway, so Ken took me in (thanks, Honey!). It seems to have stopped now, although I believe we're supposed to get a little more lake effect snow yet today. The winds are howling, too, so we've got significant drifting on our rural road. (I'm glad I'm off tomorrow!) But of course I have to admit that it IS very pretty, and it always makes me feel cozy to see the snow swirling off the roof and to know that I'm safe and warm in the house. It's pretty to look at, but MAN, I hate to drive in it!

We'll decorate the tree tonight. I'll write more later.


We haven't done the tree yet, but just got off the phone with Kim and Steve from California. Actually, Ken is still talking to Kim. A fun chat, discussing holiday plans, weather, etc. They're doing well, Steve is on Christmas break from his classes, and Kim is almost done. I was cleaning out my picture files and came across a nice picture from when they visited this past March. Here's to ya, guys! Miss you!

Wow...not to mention any names, but SOME people are overly tall, and really love to show it. Sheesh.

We had a little bit of snow then, but nothing like we have now! I don't know if they'd like this or not...for some folks from warmer climes, it's a novelty and it's fun, but for some, it's a cold hell on earth. They got a kick out of us grilling when there was a some snow on the deck, so I'm sure they'd be fascinated by this storm.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A good day at work

We all had a good day today and finished up on time. That's always a plus! Especially today, because it started snowing late in the afternoon, and it sounds like we could get up to 8 inches by the time it's done tomorrow afternoon. The whole area is under a winter storm warning. I'm happy to be warm and cozy inside.

We also had some good news. We signed the contract on Wednesday with the local hospital (the one that tried to start their own lab this past summer). They'll resume sending us their Microbiology work first (we're hearing Feb. 1st) and other work will follow. What is extra nice is hearing the response from the doctors. Dr. Schroeder called (He's so nice, and always says, "Hi, this is Art Schroeder.") and he told my coworker, "It's really nice to talk to you guys again!" This morning was the real kicker. I answered the phone, and it was Dr. Hunt. I know this means nothing to anyone who doesn't work in the lab. Dr. Hunt is an Infectious Disease doc and is known for being quite demanding and often cranky. However, if I had a dangerous infection, I'd want him to treat me! Before he said anything else, he said, "THANK GOD you guys are gonna be the only Micro lab I deal with now!" When I told my coworkers about that, we all did a little end zone dance! Hearing Dr. Hunt, of all people, say that was incredibly vindicating, and it meant a lot.

I have a sad thing to write about, then I'll be happy again. We've been getting Christmas cards, and today I got one from a lady I worked with in Grand Forks, North Dakota. I still keep in touch with a few of the folks up there, and it's nice to be fondly remembered. I had a card today from Carole, and she included a handwritten note on her computer letter. She told me that Gordon, who was the PhD in charge of Micro when I was there--and one of the main reasons I'm doing Microbiology today--has severe Alzheimer's, and is in an Alzheimer's unit there. Apparently, he recognizes no one. I cried when I read that...he was such a brilliant man, and such a great guy. His wife was going to see him every day, but she died a couple of weeks ago due to complications from a pacemaker insertion. Carole said they're all terribly sad at the lab. I believe it, because it makes me terribly sad, too. In honor of Gordon, I'll write about my favorite memory of him. One of the tests we did was a fluorescent stain for Chlamydia. We would fix the slides using 100% ethanol...and the cheapest and easiest way to get 100% ethanol was to buy Everclear. Gordon would go a few times a year and pick up big jugs of the stuff...we always laughed about what the people at the liquor store must have thought of this guy buying mass quantities of Everclear! Hard core, that's for sure! Ah, man. Here's to ya, Gordon.

Okay, back to the happy stuff. When I opened my locker this morning, I had a little present in there, in a cute little penguin bag. It was from my cousin Erica, who works in my department. She'd gotten everyone little gifties, and since she knows that I love penguins and collect figurines, she got me this:

Isn't that cute? It's also a musical ornament, and plays "Joy to the World." Bless her heart! I love him, he's very handsome, and I don't have one like him. Thanks, Erica!

While I was editing that picture, I edited a couple that I took of Sheeba. Sometimes Ken and I have the laptops up on the table (his is his work laptop), and Sheeba found a nice, warm spot in between the "dueling laptops."

Finally, Sheeba gets really comfy, with a little help from a pillow.

Well, the snow is really coming down at the moment. Ken has been given a heads-up that I'm going to need a ride to work tomorrow morning. I hate to do that, but he was already planning on getting up early to do some work,so I won't feel too bad. We're having breakfast for dinner tonight (Do you ever do that? Sometimes, doesn't it just hit the spot?), bacon, eggs, toast, and some home fries. Yum, very tasty for a snowy night!


Friday, December 14, 2007


I had a comment on an entry about Andy and Barney the other day that was interesting. I wrote to Dr. Will about it (after all, the person commenting was calling his words a "load of crap"), and I had a nice email from him this morning! Among other things, Dr. Will wrote, "I can assure you that I am able to keep up with media and pop culture and also have a productive life. Perhaps they are unable to multitask." Thanks, Dr. Will! I just love that guy.

Christmas cards are done! Yahooo! Well, except for one, to Ken's brother in San Diego. Ken will get Mike a gift card this weekend, then we'll mail them both in one card early next week. We didn't send out quite as many as we did last year--I'm sad to say that I've had a few relatives die this year. I'd say we're sending out about 75. I always try to start on them early, at least getting the return labels on them, or signatures done on some, because doing that many all at once just isn't an option!

One of the things on my list for today is archiving my journal. I've recently started a Google reader feed, which puts all of my entries together, but I really should go back and save the older stuff, comments and all. I've read too many things about people losing all of their entries due to a server problem, and they all recommend backing it up. Also, if you decide to move to another server, you'll have all of your old entries. I think I'm procrastinating on this a bit, because I've been writing for over a year now, and it's a daunting task. I should at least get started, though. <sigh>

I'm going to try a new recipe for dinner tonight: Mozzarella Chicken Rollups. Cheese? Good. Chicken breasts? Good. Cheese stuffed inside chicken breasts? VERY good. It's topped with marinara sauce and...more cheese. I really don't know how it will taste, but it sure sounded yummy. Ken thought so, too, so I'll give it a try. Besides, you have to flatten the chicken breasts, and I always have fun whenever I have to get out my meat mallet and beat the hell out of whatever meat I'm using.


<whimper> Please don't make me archive anymore!

Good God. I've managed to make it through Jan. 1, 2007. This means that I have an entire year to go, and I found that as I got going with my blog, I started writing more. It's incredibly tedious to copy and paste all of this. But at least I got started on it, and now that I see how tedious it is, I'll try and do a little bit every day. At least I managed to not attempt to read all of the entries and comments--just skimmed them. Thank God I don't have ADD...

Hey, look! A quarter! (Thanks, Sean Morey, for "The ADD Song!")


That thing I do

A few days ago, I wrote about one of our local hospitals starting up their own lab, and that now it looks like they are not going to continue that. Nothing is finalized yet, but we are hearing from reliable sources that it's likely that they will once again use us to do their lab work. This led to a discussion in the lab about our profession, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I write in my "About Me" section that I'm a microbiologist. That's only part of the picture. I'm actually a Medical Technologist, with a Bachelor's in Medical Technology, which means that I'm qualified and registered to work in all areas of the clinical laboratory. I went to college at Ball State University, and the MT program there was essentially the same as pre-Med (our program lacked one Physics course that pre-Med students had to take). Many MT's go on to med school, and I briefly thought about it, but I just didn't want to be a doctor! When I was doing my internship, when I did my Microbiology rotation I knew that was what I wanted to do full-time. After working a couple of years as a generalist, the manager of Micro asked me if I wanted to start training in that department, and that's where I ended up.

I won't write extensively about Medical Technology, but I've included a Wikipedia link that explains it all pretty well. Sometimes you have to be careful about what you find on Wiki, but this is actually quite accurate. One thing that is different in my experience is that the article says that internships are usually 20-26 weeks. That's true now, but when I went to school, my internship was a full 12 months. Also, most MT's don't do phlebotomy now, but my first job was in a smaller hospital, and I had to do morning phlebotomy rounds. (I'm glad I got that experience, but I wouldn't want to do it now.) I'm registered with ASCP, and while I don't believe it's a requirement to have your registration, most places won't allow you to do full MT duties or give you full pay if you haven't taken the national registry exam. Some states also require a state license. Some MT's are also registered with NCA.

One of the things in the article that is very true is that there is a national shortage. A lot of programs have closed or downsized, and the number of techs, especially with experience, is shrinking at an alarming rate. We're sort of the "secret" healthcare workers, because we don't have much patient contact, so people really don't know much about our profession. Our low profile and a low compensation rate (at least compared to other healthcare workers) considering our education and training have led to a serious shortage. Those of us that are of the baby boomer era will be retiring in the coming years, and the shortage will only get worse. We're fortunate in that our lab is still affiliated with a local university to provide internships, so some of those students stay on to work in our lab, and we've definitely got some great newer techs in our department and in the lab.

I think the most interesting thing in the article is this: "Laboratory results are 80% of a doctor's diagnosis." My coworkers and fellow techs don't get much recognition, but I think we can all be proud of the part we play in patient care.

Beth, MT(ASCP)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Don't be a brainsucker

I was listening to NPR at work today, and they had a segment about finding medical information on the Net. It really caught my ear, and I found it very interesting. They interviewed a doctor who had written a piece on You can find the article there, or find a link on I'm reproducing it in its entirety, however, because I think it has some very good points. Discussion will follow.

When the Patient Is a Googler

Thursday, Nov. 08, 2007 By Scott Haig

We had never met, but as we talked on the phone I knew she was Googling me. The way she drew out her conjunctions, just a little, that was the tip off — stalling for time as new pages loaded. It was barely audible, but the soft click-click of the keyboard in the background confirmed it. Oh, well, it's the information age. Normally, she'd have to go through my staff first, but I gave her an appointment.

Susan was well spoken and in good shape, an attractive woman in her mid-40s. She had brought her three-year-old to my office, but was ignoring the little monster as he ripped up magazines, threw fish crackers and Cheerios, and stomped them into my rug. I tried to ignore him too, which was hard as he dribbled chocolate milk from his sippy cup all over my upholstered chairs. Eventually his screeching made conversation impossible.

"This is not an acceptable form of behavior, not acceptable at all," was Susan's excruciatingly well-enunciated and perfunctory response to Junior's screaming. The toddler's defiant delight signaled that he understood just enough to ignore her back. Meanwhile, Mom launched into me with a barrage of excruciatingly well-informed questions. I soon felt like throwing Cheerios at her too.

Susan had chosen me because she had researched my education, read a paper I had written, determined my university affiliation and knew where I lived. It was a little too much — as if she knew how stinky and snorey I was last Sunday morning. Yes, she was simply researching important aspects of her own health care. Yes, who your surgeon is certainly affects what your surgeon does. But I was unnerved by how she brandished her information, too personal and just too rude on our first meeting.

Every doctor knows patients like this. They're called "brainsuckers." By the time they come in, they've visited many other docs already — somehow unable to stick with any of them. They have many complaints, which rarely translate to hard findings on any objective tests. They talk a lot. I often wonder, while waiting for them to pause, if there are patients like this in poor, war-torn countries where the need for doctors is more dire.

Susan got me thinking about patients. Nurses are my favorites — they know our language and they're used to putting their trust in doctors. And they laugh at my jokes. But engineers, as a class, are possibly the best patients. They're logical and they're accustomed to the concept of consultation — they're interested in how the doctor thinks about their problem. They know how to use experts. If your orthopedist thinks about arthritis, for instance, in terms of friction between roughened joint surfaces, you should try to think about it, generally, in the same way. There is little use coming to him or her for help if you insist your arthritis is due to an imbalance between yin and yang, an interruption of some imaginary force field or a dietary deficiency of molybdenum. There's so much information (as well as misinformation) in medicine — and, yes, a lot of it can be Googled — that one major responsibility of an expert is to know what to ignore.

Susan had neither the trust of a nurse nor the teachability of an engineer. She would ignore no theory of any culture or any quack, regarding her very common brand of knee pain. On and on she went as I retreated further within. I marveled, sitting there silenced by her diatribe. Hers was such a fully orbed and vigorous self-concern that it possessed virtue in its own right. Her complete and utter selfishness was nearly a thing of beauty.

When to punt is not a topic taught in medical school. There is but one observation that I can offer: Patients like Susan, as self-absorbed as they are, know it immediately. They can tell when you're about to punt.

I knew full well what was wrong with this woman, and I could treat her, probably as well as anyone. But treating her condition, which was chronic patellofemoral pain, would test the mettle of patient and surgeon. What we have doesn't work very well nor very quickly. The swelling takes months to go down, the muscles take even longer to strengthen. Good patients often complain, "It was better before we started," in desperation or anger, before they see improvement. But with plenty of therapy, braces, exercises and one or two operations, this knee does improve. It's often tough going, though,and patients have to stick with you. I like to be straight — "It gets worse before it gets better" is what I tell them. Susan's style, her history and, somehow, most telling, the way she treated her son said she was not going to make it through this. Not with me, anyway.

A seasoned doc gets good at sizing up what kind of patient he's got and how to adjust his communicative style accordingly. Some patients are non-compliant Bozos who won't read anything longer than a headline. They don't want to know what's wrong with them, they don't know what medicines they're taking, they don't even seem to care what kind of operation you're planning to do on them. "Just get me better, doc," is all they say.

At the other end of our spectrum are patients like Susan: They're often suspicious and distrustful, their pressured sentences burst with misused, mispronounced words and half-baked ideas. Unfortunately, both types of patients get sick with roughly the same frequency.

I knew Susan was a Googler — queen, perhaps, of all Googlers. But I couldn't dance with this one. I couldn't even get a word in edgewise. So, I cut her off. I punted. I told her there was nothing I could do differently than her last three orthopedists, but I could refer her to another who might be able to help. A certain Dr. Brown, whom I'd known as a resident, had been particularly interested in her type of knee problem.

Disappointed and annoyed, Susan stopped for a beat.

"You mean Larry Brown on Central Avenue?"

"Uh, yes —" I started.

"I have an appointment with him on Friday. And, Dr. Haig?" she said, pulling Junior by the arm out my office door, "Watch out on your drive home tonight. There was an accident near your exit."

Dr. Scott Haig is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He has a private practice in the New York City area.

Dr. Haig sounds like a bit of a hardass, but it also sounds like he's developed a pretty good instinct for patients over the years. I find that most doctors are fairly perceptive, and I know my doctor responds well to my questions because I work in healthcare. I also think most doctors appreciate a well-informed patient, and I urge everyone to be exactly that. However, it also seems that doctors don't appreciate being grilled or spied upon, or a patient who gives the impression that they know more than the doctor. A little Net research does not an expert make, and education and experience are why you go to a doctor in the first place, right? Righty-o.

On a musical note (Ha! Get it?), congratulations to one of Indiana's native sons, John Mellencamp, for his acceptance into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Well-deserved!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The little ice storm that wasn't, et cetera

We narrowly escaped the ice storm that hit Oklahoma and a few other Midwest states so hard. It just poured yesterday, but it never got quite cold enough to really freeze on the trees or power lines. They were calling for some snow last night, but we didn't get any, and the roads were in great shape this morning. I know that weather forecasting involves much uncertainty, but I kind of wish they'd just 'fess up and say, "We really don't know if this is going to happen." It seems that they're wrong more often than they're right. I'm not really complaining about our weather people--they generally do a fine job and help us plan things. But could you just admit that it's inexact?

I wondered the other day if there is a song called "Christmas Rap." Well, almost! Comedian Tim Cavanaugh has a song called "Christmas Wrap," and it's about a guy working at a kiosk in the mall wrapping Christmas presents. My favorite line goes something like, "I use a tape, its name is Skee-otch!" Ha!

Have you heard the reviews of the Led Zeppelin reunion show in London? Unbelievable. I was never a huge Zep fan, but I had a few albums and listened to them quite a bit when I was in college. I've heard clips of the show, and they really did sound incredible. Jason Bonham got raves for his drumming, and the whole band sounded great, Plant's vocals included. I'd be willing to bet that based on the great reviews, they'll decide to tour. Would I want to go see them? Nah, probably not, unless I won tickets--I'm sure it will be a pricey ticket, like another band that I won't mention (Police). Like I said, I was never that into them. I've seen the Stones, and that was probably the ultimate for me. (It's the only concert where I ever screamed like a girl when they ran out onstage. I can't explain was just such a cool moment, and I love those guys.) 

I've mentioned that my friend Jillian from work started an online book club, and we're reading the Modern Library's top 100 novels of the 20th century. I asked her permission today to put up a link, so if anyone is interested in checking it out, here is the Tiptop 100 book club forum. You have to sign up to be a member to post, but take a look, read the comments, and see if you might be interested. We're currently on #99, The Ginger Man by J. P. Donleavy, and it's pretty rough going. We're all struggling with it a little, mostly because we find the characters pretty abhorrent. For a while, I wondered if I was going to be able to finish it, but Ken gave me a little pep talk and kept me going, and I'm far enough along now that I know I'll be able to finish it.

We got our shelf hung above the TV, and I put stuff up on it last night. We had a really nice (large) picture hung there, but when we got the big TV, it covered up half of the picture. When Kim and Steve were out here last March, I asked her opinion of what I should do with that spot (she teaches design at a college in central Cal). I said I was thinking of a shelf, and she agreed that would look good. I found a cherry shelf at Penney's, Ken hung it this weekend, and I loaded it with these huge pine cones from the golf course by our timeshare in Florida (a nice reminder of our home-away-from-home) and some framed feathers that I put together this summer. I may tweak it a little bit, but I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out! It's at just the right height, and the stuff I put on the shelf isn't too tall or too's juuuust right! Ha!

At the risk of sounding like HGTV, the shelf makes me think of one of Ken's great ideas. To hang shelves or pictures, he puts a dab of toothpaste on the holes or hooks on the back of the picture (I use Closeup toothpaste, which is red, so it works great), then holds it up to the wall and asks me where it looks best (and for the shelf we used a level). When he finds the spot, he presses it against the wall, and the toothpaste shows exactly where to put the nails. Brilliant!