Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Timeliness

Just a couple of days ago, I wrote briefly about the sixties after watching a very far out episode of "Star Trek." While reading Time this morning, I came across this quote from John McCain:

"In case you missed it, a few days ago Senator Clinton tried to spend $1 million on the Woodstock concert museum. Now, my friends, I wasn't there. I'm sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event. I was tied up at the time."

Oh, Senator, you're showing signs of life again. What a brilliant comment! Regardless of how you feel about his politics, you have to allow that the guy has some major street cred. I like him. I read one of his books a while back and wrote to his office to thank him for his service to the country, both in the military and in the Senate. He was kind enough to write back. Of course, now I often get requests for money from his campaign, but that's not surprising. I just loved that quote.

I also love music, as my family and regular readers know, but you know what? I gotta draw the line at a federally funded Woodstock museum. C'mon, seriously. If someone wants to privately fund it, have at it. I suspect many of the revolutionaries of the time have crossed over and joined the Establishment, and some of 'em might even be The Man. I bet there's plenty of cash to be found there. Besides, isn't any Hard Rock Cafe you walk into essentially a Woodstock museum?

Dr. Will made me laugh today. He wrote about Sue Ann Nivens, the Happy Homemaker from "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." He wrote that her outwardly sweet demeanor hid a deep-seated rage:

What about you? Do you mask your volcanic rage behind the thin veneer of a false happy face? Trust me, others can feel your percolating fury. Think about getting help. Have a great day!

"Volcanic rage" and "percolating fury," followed by "Have a great day!" The guy just tickles me to no end. What's great about him, though, is that I always feel like I learn something. Yes, he writes in a way that makes me laugh, but he really is a psychologist, and it's obvious that he knows what he's talking about. I'm sure we've all known that person like Sue Ann, a sweet and sugary coating on the outside, but filled with a psychopathic center. The saying goes, "Don't believe everything you see." Man, that's the truth. Right on, Dr. Will!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"Nobody puts Baby in a corner."

Ken was told that I need to "grow up" and "realize my place."

Heee heeeeeee!

Anyone who knows me will get a chuckle out of that. "Realize my place," eh? Where might that be? Chained in the basement? I'm quite comfortable with my place, thank you very much. That would be as a responsible and productive member of society, as well as a full partner to my husband. Ken and I talk about things. We plan things together. And we make major decisions together. Maybe I missed something along the way, but I'm pretty sure that's one of the things that you strive for in a relationship. We've had a plan since before we got married. We've been working on that for six years now, and it's going swimmingly. That's how it goes when partners are of the same mind and work together to achieve their goals. Yeah...I kinda like "my place."

People who know me also know that I'm not a quiet little flower that sits in the corner. I'm a fairly calm person, but I'm not afraid to speak my mind when the occasion calls for it. And when it comes to protecting my family and friends, you'd better believe I am involved. I can't imagine being any other way.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A private joke

Please indulge me in this, for just a moment. It will make me happy.

Be advised that a copy of this post is being forwarded to my attorney, So-and-So in Anytown, Anystate, United States of America, North American continent, Western hemisphere, planet Earth, Solar system, Milky Way Galaxy, and Universe.

Ahhh. Thank you. I feel much better now!

Grooviness

As I've mentioned before, Ken and I have been watching all the original Star Trek episodes. We watched one the other night that had us giggling. Well, I was giggling, I can't say that Ken normally giggles. Anyhoo, the episode is called "The Way to Eden," and it's about what pretty much amounts to a bunch of space hippies. It would have aired in either '68 or '69, and it was definitely a product of its time. There's a messianic leader (who turns out to be insane, of course) and his band of followers, all looking for the lost Eden. They think they've found the planet where Eden exists, so they hijack the Enterprise. They all wear funky clothes, they go around singing and playing weird instruments, and they call everybody "brother." Or if someone is really bringin' them down and layin' a heavy trip on them, they call him "Herbert," as in "Don't be such a Herbert." At one point, Spock breaks out one of his Vulcan instruments and jams with one of the space hippy girls. Someone cleverly put this footage together with a fun song called "Music to Watch Space Girls By."

My journey to Old Fogeydom continues, because watching this episode I was both amused and appalled. I told Ken that in my college days, I was fascinated by the sixties, and felt like I'd been born about 10 years too late. I took to wearing headbands for a while, which makes me laugh now. (I still occasionally wear a bandana as a headband, but it's to catch the sweat when I'm working in the yard or garden!) I know that young adults feel the need to "question authority," but the whole sixties drug culture was a joke. How can a bunch of drug-addled cretins get anything accomplished? They can't, of course, which is why the whole Movement thing died a fairly quick death. It's one thing to question authority, but unless you have an alternate plan (one that goes beyond everyone just LOVING each other and just BEING), you're not really solving anything. Seems pretty simple to me.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Super Heroes

Yesterday I wrote about Super Bug (able to achieve antibiotic resistance with a single mutation!), which got me to thinking about Super Heroes, which in turn got me to thinking about REAL heroes (and mine are indeed super, to me). There are lots of people I admire, both relatives (Cousin Shane, Bro-in-Law Tom, Cousin Ron, et al) as well as public figures (Peyton Manning and Bill Gates spring immediately to mind). But true heroes are pretty rare for me. The definition of a hero in the context of which I'm writing is, "A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life." By this definition, I have three. But they're still alive, thank God!

First, my Mom and Dad. They grew up during the Depression, and their families were very poor. Mom had a pretty rough childhood (I won't go into details here), and was supporting herself by the time she was 16. She saved her money from working at a diner, and when she and Dad eventually got married, she had saved enough to buy, I think a refrigerator for them. A pretty remarkable accomplishment for that time! Mom is probably the kindest person I know. She has a way of striking up a conversation with a total stranger, who walks away feeling better for the encounter. I can't think of anything I'd rather aspire to than having everyone I meet walk away thinking, "I'm glad I met her." (I'm still working on that, believe me.)

My Dad is a WWII veteran, and as all members of the Greatest Generation (Mom included), talked very little about the war or about rough times. It wasn't until I was a young adult that Dad talked to me about some of his experiences in the war, and even then, he usually told me funny stories, not scary ones. It was my honor (along with the rest of our immediate family) to be there with him at the dedication of the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C. It's something I'll never forget, and I know it meant a lot to Dad, because he mentions it once in a while. Dad is similar to Mom in that people enjoy being around him. For me, he has always had a quiet strength that taught me how best to handle situations, and also taught me the kind of man I wanted my future husband to be (I finally got that one right).

The reasons they are my heroes are innumerable, but there are a few things that were always especially important to them (and are now to me). One was an appreciation and conservation of nature. They taught me that wonders are all around us, and it's up to us to see them, appreciate them, and care for them. Another was a love of reading. I was a bookworm from early on (I read an Isaac Asimov book about mythology in second grade), and it has always served me well. Books were always important in our house, and Mom and Dad still love to read. Yet another was a very good work ethic. I honestly don't think I'd be a responsible, hardworking citizen today if they hadn't given me these gifts.

And finally, Mom and Dad are heroes to me because they have been married for 60 years. That's right: SIXTY. They rarely gave me advice unless I asked for it, and it must have hurt them greatly to see some of the bonehead mistakes I made in my relationships. But their commitment to each other and their steadfast love for each other over the decades finally got through to me, and I'm so grateful that I had that kind of example in my life. Which brings me to my other hero. What a beautiful segue!

That would be my husband, who I've mentioned often here. Ken is such a hard worker, and honestly feels that it's his duty to his employer to do the best job he can do. He also has that quiet strength that I admire so much in my Dad. I'm usually fairly calm, but I can get riled up about things every so often--okay, fairly often--and Ken can really defuse my riled-up state! He's a rock that keeps me grounded. He also is very kind to others--I'm often wary of situations where someone might take advantage of my small stature, but when I'm with him, I don't feel as scared of situations like that. That has inspired me to do more and be kinder to people. When we were in Philadelphia for the Tutankhamen exhibit, Ken drove the rental a couple of blocks to the return site (this was while the city was still recovering from a nasty ice storm). He was going to walk back, and it seemed like a long time, and he wasn't back yet. I was starting to get a little worried, but when he showed up, he said that a couple of people were stuck along the street, and he helped them push their cars out. I was touched that he would do that for someone. (Although like we always say, no matter where we go, we are ambassadors for Indiana and for the U.S. We do our best.)  

He's also not afraid to tell it like it is. When our family was on the Washington trip for the WWII Memorial dedication, we were all at the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say it's almost a holy site for our country, and they ask for quiet and respect while viewing the documents. There was a group of school kids in there, and they were being kind of loud and rude, they dropped candy wrappers (ARGH!), and they kept bumping us from behind as we were trying to look at the documents. Ken finally had it, and he turned on 'em. He said, "This is what our country is all about. This is what gives you the right to choose whether or not you want to be here. If you don't want to be here, then leave. If you stay, then show some respect!" I still chuckle when I think about it! They shut up, too.

And finally (I know this is getting long), Ken is a hero to me because he brings out the best in me. I've been in some relationships that brought out the absolute worst in me, and believe me, it's such a relief and such a gift to be with someone who inspires me to be a decent person and do the right thing. I find that I want his admiration, and it makes me want to do my best to earn it. It goes back to that whole "raising the bar" attitude that I've written about--if you expect the worst of people, that's what you will get. If you inspire them to do their best, through your words but especially through your deeds, you will get it returned tenfold. Ken has raised the bar for me, and I couldn't be happier.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's...Super Bug!

Okay, everyone just take a deep breath and calm down. Do not panic. I repeat: do not panic.

I can't turn around these past few days without being bombarded with stories about the Super Bug. It's on our local news, in our newspapers, on the national news...it's everywhere! From what the media says, we're on the verge of an epidemic of rotting flesh, amputations, and mass casualties. They exaggerate, believe me.

See over there to the left, where I write that I'm a microbiologist? I've been doing this for over twenty years now, and this so-called Super Bug is nothing new. It is actually called Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus, or MRSA, and we've been seeing it for decades. Previously, we only saw it as a hospital-acquired infection, usually after surgery, and what is different now is that it is becoming prevalent in the community. I would say that about 40% of our Staph aureus isolates are resistant to methicillin, so it is neither new nor rare.

I'm not completely downplaying this: it is a very serious bacterial infection, and should not be ignored. You can protect yourself by some very simple measures. The most important thing is to wash your hands. A LOT. Don't share towels, and make sure your gym wipes down the equipment. If you get a cut or nick, clean it thoroughly, put some antibiotic ointment on it, and cover it loosely. If you notice it getting red and not healing, go to your local clinic and get antibiotics. Yes, it is a nasty bug, resistant to many antibiotics, but one antibiotic it is almost always susceptible to is Bactrim, and that's an inexpensive and easy-to-take antibiotic. If you treat it before it gets too bad, chances are good you will be just fine and in possession of all your limbs. Just use some common sense and again, wash your hands!

This has been a public service announcement. Now comes the part where I get cranky.

I can't tell you how many times a media sensation has resulted in a health care panic, with a resultant massive increase in our workload at the lab (and I'm sure at other labs throughout the country). First it was anthrax. Anytime someone found a little spilled coffee creamer at the office, or a flour bag leaking at the grocery store,we would get a call from the Fire Department and have to test the "suspicious powder" for anthrax. Then one year it was an influenza outbreak. It was so prevalent throughout the country and especially in our area that doctors were advised to assume that a patient with the appropriate symptoms had influenza, and if it were within the 48-hour time frame, to treat them with Tamiflu. No such luck--they wanted to have their patients tested, and they wanted it yesterday, and we'd spend well over 10 hours a day doing nothing but flu testing.

After that, it was a pertussis (AKA whooping cough) outbreak. Again, young kids with symptoms need to be treated right away, but every kid with any kind of a cough got a pertussis test (and often an influenza test, just to cover all the bases). I understand that the media has a responsibility to let the public know about outbreaks, but whenever we hear something like that on the news, a collective groan goes up at the lab. We know it will send our workload through the roof. I think it was a good thing that the media tried to inform the public about MRSA, but I wish to hell they didn't have to be so sensationalistic about it. It's not a matter of if you get it, you'll die! It's a tough bug, but it IS treatable, and we all bear a certain amount of responsibility to protect ourselves. I guess a story about "flesh-eating bacteria" is a little more exciting ("glamorous" would probably be stretching it) than a simple informational story about what it is and how frequent handwashing can help prevent it.

But as always, the media and sensationalism walk hand-in-hand. Thanks for the job security, Media. Please don't bother checking into other nasty bugs I deal with every day, because we've got plenty of work already.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's someone's birthdaaaaaay....

It's official. My little Nutwood Junction blog is one year old! They grow up so fast! <sniff> All I can think about right now is Stimpy singing, "Mem'ries...like the corners of my mind...." Interesting that I don't think of Barbra Streisand singing it, I think of Stimpy the Cat. (I like his version better.) Here's my very first entry. Blog virgin no longer! That cherry's been popped. I have to say that I really have fun doing this. It's no big deal to anyone but me, but it really should be, because before this, I used to vent to friends and family in sometimes lengthy emails. Now I can foist it all upon the world at large, for whoever happens to stumble by! O happy day!

All friends and family in southern California are accounted for, and all are safe. My niece and her family had to evacuate their condo, but they are safe and sound, and hope to return home soon. I know it's not connected to the Santa Ana winds, but it's extremely windy here today. Quite nippy, but it also blew most of the leaves off of the back deck. Thank you, Mother Nature! Now I only need to get 'em off of the front deck.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Small but mighty

No, not me. This guy:

That's Bob Sanders, safety for the Colts. They beat the Jaguars last night, and Bob had a couple of interceptions. He's a lot of fun to watch, because he's all of 5'8", 206 lbs, but he's FAST--like a marsupial! He's also gotta be one of the coolest guys on the planet--he's got the whole braid thing goin' on, the bicep tats, and the laidback cool. But his name is plain ol' Bob. That's cool in itself! (His given name is Demond or something like that.) He's also the guy who sparked the Colts defense last year going into the playoffs when he came off the injured list. The defense is playing at an even higher level this year. Good job, Colts, in getting this guy.

Speaking of cool guys, today is my awesome hubby's birthday. Happy Birthday, Sweetie! Oo, that reminds me, gotta wrap his present....

Later

Have I mentioned that I love Dr. Will? (See his site for the full version of this.)

"Watching the exciting American League Championship series won by the Boston Red Sox, there were several occasions when the managers decided to change pitchers. As the cameras focused on the huddle surrounding the outgoing pitcher while they all waited for the new man to come into the game, what I noticed was the amount of time every single player turned around and spit! In some cases they spewed every couple of seconds!

Why is that so many men, especially athletes, feel the need to expectorate in public on lawns, sidewalks, streets and parks?

Certainly some athletes are able to control this impulse. For example, I don’t remember ever seeing a basketball player hawk a lewie onto the court. I don’t think hockey players spit much, because of the danger of fouling the ice surface. Football players probably don’t spit a lot because of the risk of blow back into their own face mask.

The pointhere is that, in my judgment, spitting in public is a disgusting habit that we have tolerated far too long. We’ve spent too much time looking the other way and ignoring this grotesque anti-social habit. I don’t want to be exposed to your internal body fluids. With new strains of germs and super bugs out there, we can ill afford to have the infected saliva of millions of uncouth slobs strewn about the streets and sidewalks of America.

I say we pass a law that demands that men keep their liquids inside where they belong! If you continue to offend we can make you wear the spit mask that the police sometimes use. Until then, if you must expel some saliva, for the love of God use the restroom! "

Dr. Will, you are so right! I am honestly not a girly-girl, and my sense of humor can actually be fairly gross. A lot of the jokes that guys tell don't faze me. I like guys. But one thing I've never understood is their compulsion to spit. Sometimes when I'm walking into work from the parking lot, I see a loogie on the pavement, and THAT bugs me, because I really don't want to step in something like that. Dr. Will has an excellent point about exposure to disease and bacteria, and I think it's time we put a stop to this. Not only is it unhealthy, it's just plain gross.

I got a kick out of his comment about how football players don't spit because of the risk of blow back into their facemask. Ha!


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Monday, October 22, 2007

Yankee or Dixie?

Cousin Shane sent me this fun little quizzie [insert classic punchline here]. He took it, his Dad took it, I took it, and Ken took it. We all ended up at 43-44%, just barely into the Yankee range. (The quiz is just about terms and expressions and local usage, if you choose not to take it.)

I found this pretty fascinating (but then I used to read the dictionary when I was a kid and bored--I just love words and their origins), because it appears that northern Indiana is not all that Yankee is their speech. You'd think we'd be a little less southern-fried, but not so. My friend Jim took it, and he was 55% or something like that, into the Dixie side. I chalk it up to my Mom's side of the family, which comes from Kentucky. (I can't explain Jim's aberrant speech patterns. Ha! Love ya, Jimi.) We also have lots of relatives that live in Kentucky, Georgia, and Florida, so we've always picked up a bit on their accent. I still say "y'all."

Indiana itself is very different in accent when it comes to which area you live in. It's a rather long state, and once you get south of Indianapolis, the southern twang is very apparent. In my area, we're a little more "Chicaaaahgo." And don't get me started about the 5 years I spent in Nort' Dakohhhta.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Notre Dame makes me cry

I don't want to talk about it much, but it really hurts my heart to see the Irish play so poorly. I keep thinking it's GOT to get better, but what's really sad is that I'm not seeing a lot of improvement from week to week. I don't know what the answer is, but Weis had better stop being so full of himself and start asking some questions. There are a lot of resources affiliated with Notre Dame that he can go to for advice. A couple of names spring immediately to mind: Lou Holtz and this one guy named Ara Parseghian. Lock your ego in its cage for a little while, Charlie, and ask those guys "What should I be doing differently?" Do it now.

I cut out of work early today, because the work was done, and I just couldn't bear the thought of twiddling my thumbs there for an hour, when I could be twiddling them in the comfort of our home. Actually, I've gotten some stuff done, including a load of laundry. I'm glad I came home early, because I just had a new bird sighting! A Yellow Rumped Warbler, affectionately nicknamed Butter-butt. They have a very distinctive yellow spot on their butt. Very cute! They migrate through here on their way to their winter digs. I hope I see him again, but I got a really good look at him--he was sitting on the deck railing with his back turned to me, so I could see his butter-butt. Ha!

My folks dropped by yesterday and dropped some stuff off for us. They knew I'd be working, but when they stopped by, Ken was out running some errands. They brought us a jar of apple butter, from our yearly family apple butter get-together. It's been going on for a few years, and I haven't been able to make it there once. That will change soon. Our family makes apple butter the old-fashioned way: tons of apples and cider and sugar, cooked down in a big iron pot all day long over an open fire. It's some good stuff on a biscuit, let me tell you.

They also dropped off a big bag of potatoes. Mom said their friend called them and told them that a farmer's potato picker was broken, and all those potatoes were going to rot in the ground. When Mom and Dad got there, I guess the potato picker was going again, and Mom said it was funny because the potatoes were piling up in the truck and rolling off, then rolling down the road. She said anyone could have come along and got a bunch of potatoes just walking along the road. Anyhoo, they let Mom and Dad and some other people get in there and pick a few potatoes, and they said that every hill they dug into had 6 or 7 big potatoes. They said they actually had a lot of fun digging them out. It's been years since I dug for potatoes, but I remember that it IS fun. It's like digging for gold. Well, kinda. Okay, it's a potato. But it IS fun--and could I sound any more like some hick farm girl? I don't care. These are some awesome potatoes. Mom said they were big, but they're HUGE! I just pulled one out of the bag and measured it. It's five inches long, four inches wide, and two and a half inches deep. That's a big tater! They brought us a paper grocery bag full, so I need to find some recipes beyond mashed and fried, as well as make sure I find out how to store them best. I'm thinking in the basement, probably by the window where it will be coolest.

Speaking of the basement window, when I got up this morning, I went down to check mail. As I was sitting at the computer, something broke through my sleepiness. I sniffed, and thought, "That smells like skunk!" Then I saw Sheeba over by the window, looking like he was watching something. I turned on the outside light, and sure enough, there was our friend Pepe, chowing down on seeds dropped from the bird feeder overhead. I know a skunk isn't a critter you want to encounter, but they honestly are the cutest things. Their fur is so black and glossy, and their tails are incredibly bushy and lush. I think they're gorgeous animals. Amazing, though, that his odor was so strong it came through into the house! I was very careful when I walked out to the garage this morning...I can just see myself startling Pepe.

In reading up on skunks, though, they have a limited amount of "spray" available, and it takes them a couple of weeks to produce more. So apparently they give ample warning to critters (animal or human) before they spray. They're so distinctively colored that other animals learn quickly that a black critter with white stripes that has its tail straight up in the air is to be avoided at all costs. They can also spray for a distance of 10 to 12 feet.

Wow, don't mess with skunks, man. What an ingeniously designed animal.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Yikes! A twister!

And the wind took
The ground shook
And me and my baby traded one last look
The heavens squawled
Push come to shove
Ain't no escaping the tornado of love

from "Tornado of Love" by The Rainmakers

We got a pretty bad storm last night, with plenty of rain and lightning. There was also some "rotation" in this storm, so the local weather guys were on the air for a good couple of hours. We weren't too happy about that, because they made us miss "The Office." Grrrrr!

Sad to say, when I watched the news this morning, a tornado touched down last night in the nearby town of Nappanee. It looked like some pretty bad damage, and tonight they said on the news that 250 buildings, whether homes or businesses, were damaged, and 150 of them were severely damaged or completely destroyed. The good news? Although there were injuries, no one was badly hurt and no one died. The paper is reporting that it was possibly an EF3 (Extended Fujita). It's unusual to have a tornado in October, but it happened a few years ago, too. Just goes to show that severe weather can happen at any time!

I've written about our pair of red-breasted nuthatches. I asked my friend at work, Mary, to ask her husband if he sees them a lot. He's an avid birdwatcher, and I always pass along interesting sightings to him through Mary. Anyhoo, John told Mary that I'm really lucky to have them--usually they just migrate through here, but sometimes they stick around. And he's never seen one! I was really surprised by that, because he's seen so many, and also because they're a little more rare than I realized, at least around here. I was reading up on them, and a website mentioned that their call sounded like a "tiny tin horn." Mary and I got such a kick out of that!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thursday, Part Deux

I don't often watch "Oprah," but I turned it on today, and it's quite fascinating, even though it got me all riled up. This couple lives in California, and their spending (especially the wife's) is so out of control that they are on the verge of bankruptcy. Suze Orman was on to give them some rather harsh advice. Check out a partial transcript:

So how bad is Phil and Felice's situation really? Suze says she's spent hours poring over their financial records. "I've been doing this, as you know, for a long, long time. And I have never seen such disrespect for money as in this family here," she says. "I don't even think you have any idea how bad it is, and you don't."

Phil and Felice really have $135,000 in credit card debt. They also pay $1,700 a month for their three cars. Their two mortgages total $658,000. Because their mortgage is a negative amortized loan, Suze says that means their mortgage will increase by $20,000 every year. "There is no longer any equity in this home at all, and all you are paying is $1,800 a month on it and that is to adjust in a few months up to $3,300 a month," she says. They are also two weeks behind on their mortgage payment. "There is no money left in any bank accounts. All your credit limits are almost used up," Suze says. "And Felice is willing to say 'I am in trouble' because she can no longer get any cash advances to pay the bills."

So how bad is it on a scale of 1 to 10? "Maybe 1,000, and I don't say that lightly," Suze says. Suze says she catalogued the horrors of Felice and Phil's finances not to make them give up hope, but to make them understand just how important change is. "Nobody has a magic wand," she says. "All we have is the magic within our own souls to do that which we can do and deal with reality. You have now created a reality for yourself and your families that you are not going to be able to buy yourself out of."

First, Suze says Felice has to get a job immediately with an employer that will offer health insurance to her entire family. Suze suggests Starbucks®, because they offer health benefits to part-time workers.

Suze even has advice for Felice and Phil's friends and family. "If you see these two coming up anywhere, you are not to lend them money," she says. "Don't you [Felice] dare go to your parents and ask for help. This is not their problem. This is your problem. Stop asking others to save you. I want you to be a woman who can save yourself [italics mine]."

Wake up, America! Stop believing that the credit card companies are our friends. They feed like leeches off of our credit card debt, and the more you go into CC debt, the more their wallets are fattened. Yes, Ken and I have credit cards, but we use them prudently. I have two, and I pay them off in full every month. Since we've been married, Ken has been juggling and shuffling credit card debt from before we were married (and there was plenty, believe me), and we have worked together, as a team, to pay it down significantly. I believe that one of the biggest problems in our society is that everyone wants everything RIGHT NOW. It does not work that way, and we have to work for the things we want. That should be obvious, but apparently too many people just don't get it. You don't finish college and set yourself up in the cool digs you've always wanted--you start out in a modest place, you save your money, and you progress slowly.

And while I'm on a roll, let me say something else: Ken and I have worked hard for everything we've achieved. He got his Bachelor's in engineering and later got his Master's, I got my Bachelor's in Medical Technology (including a 12-month internship my senior year), we have both worked consistently since then, and we've both worked hard. There's not much that yanks my chain more than people who expect a handout without working for it, and all I can say is get your ass out there and get a job. That's how it works, folks. You work, you earn, you save, you spend, and in that order. It's that simple.

Beth's Music Moment - The Tubes

The Tubes have been around for years, and while I'd read about them way back in the seventies, I'll be the first to admit that I'm a Joni-Come-Lately fan. I didn't really get into them until they released "The Completion Backward Principle." It's an eighties classic, and everyone knows "Talk To Ya Later." The followup, "Outside Inside" was also some great stuff, and that was the album that gave us "She's A Beauty." I don't have the stats on that, but I believe that may have been their biggest hit.

If I had to sum up The Tubes in one word, it would be "schizoid." Their seventies concerts are the stuff of legend, with dancers, multiple costume changes, and a production that had to cost a chunk o' change. With the two aforementioned albums, they became a little more pop-oriented and mainstream, but they never lost their freakish edge. (That's a compliment, by the way.) One of the neatest songs on CBP is Bill Spooner's ballad "Don't Want to Wait Anymore," but every song on there is a winner, at least in my book. It's synth-laden, but be sure to pay attention to Prairie Prince's drumming--I think he's one of the best ever, but not all that well-known. He really shines on drum-heavy songs like "Wild Women of Wongo" and "Bora Bora 2000," and there's plenty of drums in "Sports Fans."

Here's a fun live video of "Out of the Business," which has such a great chorus. Imagine being in the audience and screaming along to "I got out of the business...and into...rock and ROLL!" Fee Waybill is nuts, and quite the showman. You can also see Vince Welnick on the keyboards (blond hair and beard). Sadly, Vince is no longer with us.

Speaking of Fee, a few years ago, Shane and I got to see The Tubes at a small local venue. They're still playing, but now it's at little places. That's really better, because we could get out and dance, and of course, the stage and the guys were right there. After the show, the bass player, Rick Anderson, came by our table and took my hand and kissed it. He didn't say anything, just kissed my hand. How cool, and I've never forgotten that. It was a very rock and roll moment. Ha ha! Anyhoo, they were all hanging out after the show, and I was able to get Fee to sign two of my CD's. Awesome!

While I'm putting up pictures, here's one of me and Shane at the show. It was such a fun time, and I still remember it fondly.

What a unique experience to see a legendary band in such an intimate venue. It was a small but enthusiastic crowd, and I still remember the one guy yelling "Toooooooobes!" all night long. That was okay, we were all fans and we all had a fabulous time!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

That time of year

The temperatures may still be mild (it's supposed to get up to 80° tomorrow!), but I start getting so draggy around this time. I think it must be a function of the amount of daylight. Cousin Shane and I both feel we have a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder. (My solution? Just recognize it, go with it, and know that you'll perk up in the spring. No need for a pill!) I'm glad it doesn't make me feel depressed or anything, it just makes me feel a lack of energy. Right now I feel sort of brain dead. I finally managed to make a decision to have fish for dinner tonight. Yay for me! I'm off tomorrow, so that will give me a chance feel more rested.

I wrote about Repairman Jack some time ago, but I'm a little too lazy right now to find that entry. I bring up Jack because I just started the new Repairman Jack novel, Bloodline. F. Paul Wilson is a fine writer, and I'm not very far into it, but it's already sucked me in. Jack is just such a neat character--he "fixes" things, but he only takes cases that are to help decent people. He never fixes situations for bad guys. He's mostly just a regular guy, but you really don't want to piss him off. He finds a way to hurt you, and it's usually rather inventive. He's also managed to get drawn into some rather supernatural situations, and sometimes bad things happen to Jack and to those he loves. This has to be my favorite ongoing character. Check out Repairman Jack!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tell it, brother!

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Benjamin Franklin (also attributed to Albert Einstein)

For the life of me, I don't think I'll ever understand how anyone can exhibit the same self-destructive behavior time and time again, and not learn anything from it. Wouldn't a reasonable, rational person start to see that there is a pattern in their life, and take steps to rectify the problem? Instead of improving, growing wiser as they grow older, they willfully ignore what is staring them in the face: the bad things that happen to them are a direct result of their own poor judgment and bad decisions. Anyone who goes through life this way must be a truly miserable person. Instead of bringing a positive atmosphere and environment into situations or relationships, they bring chaos and disorder. Bitterness and rancor are a way of life for them. For the scientist in me, it is highly illogical, and it's understandable that I get why Ben and/or Albert made such a comment.

For people who make a poor decision once or twice, I can feel compassion or pity. For those who do the same bonehead things again and again, I feel contempt.

Monday, October 15, 2007

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

So quoth Les Nessman in "WKRP In Cincinnati," one of my favorite shows from the '70's. (Season One is now available on DVD, by the way.)

Well, Les was actually right! Although I don't think they can fly very far, certainly not when dropped from a helicopter. Lately, I've been seeing a band of about 12 turkeys, but they're starting to join up for the winter, because tonight I saw about 20 in the back yard. I saw one fly up into a tree (that's where they sleep at night), and it reminded me of last year, when I was watching a bunch of 'em in the back yard. Something startled them, and almost all of them took off into the trees. It was amazing, because they are HUGE birds. They looked like little Stealth Bombers sailing over the yard.

We had turkey babies this year, so it will be interesting to see if our winter population is up. The most I've seen in our yard is between 50 and 55. There were actually too many to count, because they kept milling around. I really like them...I think their feathers are beautiful, and I like the way they make little clucking sounds.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction contest

I came across this while surfing. I've heard about this contest before--there's usually something on the news about the winning entry. I read through every one of these, and actually laughed out loud on many of them. Here's my favorite:

Ruthanne felt as though she was frozen in time, staring into Steve's eyes, deep turquoise pools of Tidy-Bowl blue, reflecting back the deep passionate love that Ruthanne felt in her heart because Steve certainly didn't feel anything, being in a coma as he was, so what Ruthanne had reflected back to herself was what she herself felt, bouncing off Steve's eyes, because there was absolutely zip going on behind those eyes.

Linda Morgan
Manassas, VA

"Pools of Tidy-Bowl blue!" Brilliant! Here is the complete list. It'll make you laugh, I guarantee.

It reminds me of several years ago, when Cousin Shane and Niece Jen and I did our own little Bad Poetry contest. I wish I still had those, but they are long gone. All I can remember is that Shane's poem (I believe we called them pomes, though) was titled "I Am Pea," and there was something about a lone pea rattling around a plate. Ha ha! Very existentialist. Uh-oh, I feel a bout of Bad Poetry coming on....

Later that morning

I got up really early this morning, so I thought I'd get all cozy on the couch, turn on the TV, and snooze. I made the mistake of turning on American Movie Classics, which just happened to be showing "Hoosiers," which is the best sports movie ever, in my opinion. (I understand that I'm a little biased, though.) I don't know how many times I've seen it, but I never tire of it (even though I know what happens at the end), and it never fails to make me cry like a child. When they're getting ready to go out for the big game, and they all clasp hands, and Coach Dale says quietly, "I love you guys." Aww, man! Gets me every time. Part of it is that I know very well how accurate the movie is as far as "Hoosier Hysteria." It really is that crazy. I found a nice writeup on the movie and the real team it was inspired by, the Milan Indians. It's worth a read if you love hoops and especially, hoops movies.

That afternoon

If you take a look at my favorite sites to the left, you'll see that I've added Dr. Will Miller. I wrote about this a while back, and here is Dr. Will's take on it. This is why I love Dr. Will!

On the Couch: Paris & Narcissistic Delusions

October 1st, 2007

Monday, Lafayette, Indiana

Paris Hilton made an appearance on the David Letterman Show Friday night and predictably he comedically peppered her with questions about going to jail. After tolerating it for a few minutes she began to get edgy and pushed him to change the subject. She said she was there not to talk about going to jail but about her new line of perfume and whatever. Huh?

It was revealing that Paris seems somewhat unaware of why she is famous and why she gets to be a guest on television show. It seems that she does not grasp that she is famous principally because she is a paparazzi icon. She is a young woman living a fantasy life whose unearned wealth, jet set partying, and nightlife antics are a curiosity to idle American citizens. It’s exactly because she went to jail that she has sustained media attention.

Signs that you are clueless

- Although your hearing is perfect, your first response to every question is "what?"

- You have never read a newspaper

- Most of the time you feel bored

- You life’s dream is to be on Project Runway, but not as a designer

- You can name every hot designer purse but cannot make change

- You don’t know how to vote

- Regardless of the occasion you always wear high heels

- You were "let go" by Burger King

- At least once a month you run out of gas

- You cannot name which states are next to yours

I commented about this on Dr. Will's site, and got a comment back:

Thanks for the comment - and YES that is a great observation - her swinging leg was hilarious! Hope you are enjoying the updates. Pass it on.

Will
Dr. Will Miller
 
Awesome! Dr. Will said I had a "great observation!" I just love him.
 
That evening

It was a nice day today, but the weather is getting cool enough that it was time to switch out my summer/winter clothes. It's actually kind of fun to do that, because I bring up stuff from the basement (and take summer stuff down there) and I usually end up saying, "Oh, I forgot about that! I miss that sweater." I'm sure that in the spring, I'll bring up the summer stuff and say, "Oh, I love that tank top!"

I had a nice call today from our friends Kim and Steve in California. They'd spent the weekend in Monterey, and went to the Aquarium. Steve is a science teacher, and he does a lot of work with his students at the Aquarium. We've been there, and it's an excellent one. My keychain sports a nifty penguin keychain from the Aquarium, a present from Kim and Steve. I had to laugh, because I believe that was the keychain that made it official: I have more keychains on my keychain than I have keys! Car key, house key--what else do I need to carry around with me? What am I, a custodian?

I'm feeling the urge for a Beth's Music Moment, but I've written so much already today. I should probably save it for tomorrow. I haven't decided yet who I'll write about, but I have a couple of bands in mind.

A while back, I made Texas Barbecue Brisket, with a homemade barbecue sauce. I had a bunch of sauce left over, so today I'm doing a chuck roast with that sauce. It smells so good, I can hardly stand it. I will pull the roast out of the crockpot and shred it, then put it back in the crockpot with the sauce, and voilĂ --shredded barbecue sammitches! Yummy-yum.

 

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

My name is Earl...er, I mean, My name is Beth

I'm not sure when I became such a believer in karma, but I've written about it before. Karma is a Hindu term (From the Koran: "Have you considered what you sow? [The Event 56.63]), but you can find the same concept in many societies. The Greeks called it Hubris and Nemesis (That's more of "pride goeth before a fall," but I think it applies here.), and the Bible talks about it in both the Old Testament ("...they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same." [Job 4:8]) and the New Testament ("...whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." [Galatians 6:7]), and the Roman statesman Marcus T. Cicero wrote, "As you have sown, so shall you reap," about 50 years before the birth of Christ.

In other words, it's not a new concept. It exists today in sayings such as "Like begets like," and "He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword." Around these parts, we mostly say, "What goes around comes around." Even Oprah is getting in on the act by endorsing The Secret, which talks about how our thoughts are magnetic, and whatever types of thoughts we have, we attract that type of behavior. That's simplistic, because there's no denying that sometimes bad things just happen. There's a certain element of chaos in life, and there's nothing you can do to control that.

However, I do believe that to a large extent, we affect our own lives by our behavior and attitudes. If we think positively, work hard, and make every effort to improve ourselves, whether it's through education or exercise or making wise choices, we significantly improve our chances of success. The opposite holds true, as well: if we let our anger and vindictiveness get the better of us, if we don't strive to be the best we can be (to borrow a phrase from the Army), and if we repeat these same patterns over and over, we sabotage our own lives. To use another cliche, that's called shooting yourself in the foot.

It's a choice, folks. There's always a choice. God gave us a brain and every ability necessary to make informed, wise decisions. It's like the guy who smokes two packs a day for 50 years, and as he's lying there dying of lung cancer, cries out, "Why me, God? Why me?" I bet God would like to say, "Why do you think, you ijit?" But, being God and all, He has to forgive, even if we don't use the brains He gave us. It's time our society stopped tolerating the Perpetual Victim. We bear so much responsibility for own happiness--or unhappiness, as the case may be. Make the right choice. I choose happiness every time.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Justice League!

Back from Chi-town. While it wasn't fun to have to be in court, I have to say that we feel that justice was done, and it turned out as well as or better than we had hoped. While we aren't experts, we spent a lot of time doing research and discussing the issues. We're just happy to have this behind us.

As for driving to Chicago, man, I'm glad I don't live in that kind of environment. I lived in Indianapolis for a few years, but the traffic was nothing like that in Chicago (that may have changed now, I don't know). I honestly can't imagine doing that kind of driving every day...I'd feel like there were so many other things I could be doing! I guess I'm spoiled with our light traffic in a smaller city. Twenty minutes, and I'm home, which is in a rural area. I like that. There are not many things that strike me as such a time-waster as the traffic crawl.

One thing we got a kick out of...we were in Waukegan, Illinois, and for whatever weird reason, it seems to be Laundromat Capitol of the World. They were everywhere! I have no explanation or theory for this. It just struck us as funny.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A quickie update

Not much time to write--we're off soon to Chicagoland. Unfortunately, it's not a trip for fun--Ken has to make a court appearance Friday morning. I'm sure everything will go well, but it's not how I wanted to burn a vacation day! Wish us luck....

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What a difference a day (or two) makes

On Monday, we had a record high of 88° or something like that. Yesterday, it was a lovely 74° or so. Today, it's 50° and drizzling. Yuck! I know it will get a lot worse, but it's still a shocker to have it feel so cool. And when it's raining, too, it makes it feel that much cooler. Sheeba is getting cuddlier, though. He's been standoffish the past few days, and I thought he might not be feeling well. Now he's climbing up on our laps, curling up on the bed...I think he feels fine!

There are two deer in the back yard right now, which reminds me of something funny I saw on Monday. I don't know if I've mentioned the squirrels lately, but they're very busy burying their nuts for the winter. They're running all over the yard, grabbing a nut, burying it, running for another nut, running to another spot--it wears me out just watching them, but like I told Ken, I'm impressed with their work ethic! Well, on Monday, there were a couple of them doing this, and they started chasing each other. They ran in circles for a moment, and I noticed a deer standing a few feet away, by the pond, and he was watching the squirrels. His expression just struck me so funny...he looked kind of puzzled, like "What the heck are you guys doing? You squirrels are crazy!" In the animal world, I wonder if squirrels are considered the hyperactive little kid that drives everyone crazy at family get-togethers?

Did you hear about George Clooney getting into an accident on his motorcycle? I guess he broke a rib or two, and his girlfriend broke her foot. I just read that a couple of dozen hospital workers were suspended for looking at his records, allegedly without authorization. I understand about patient confidentiality (it's a very big deal where I work), but they gave them four week suspensions. That seems awfully harsh to me. Here's what George had to say:

"This is the first I've heard of it," Clooney said in a statement Tuesday. "And while I very much believe in a patient's right to privacy, I would hope that this could be settled without suspending medical workers."


You know, what a decent guy. It seems that while he knows they probably shouldn't have done it, he also understands that he's very much in the public eye, and there were probably some people that couldn't resist. I'm not condoning it, but it seems that he's a lot more understanding than the administrators of that hospital! I bet he's fun to hang out with, and I don't mean that in a jump-his-bones kind of way (although, obviously, he's quite good looking). He just seems like he'd be fun and interesting to talk to!

Later

I just read a thing on AOL about online dating horror stories. Yikes! People moving overseas to find out their new mate was already married, people turning out to be stalkers, etc., etc. It makes me feel very fortunate, because Ken and I happened to meet via an online personal ad he'd placed. He works long hours and never had much of a chance to meet anyone, so he thought he'd try that. Me? I was a couple of months out of a stupid relationship and feeling ready to move on, so out of curiosity, I read some personal ads. At first, it was just for laughs, because some of the ads were so funny! I'll never forget the ad from a guy who wrote that he wanted to give a lady "a sensual shampoo." <snort> What the hell?!

I read Ken's ad, and something just made me think about it for a couple of days. I think it was because he sounded so normal! Finally, I thought what the heck, I'll send him an email. We started writing, and turned out we had quite a few things in common. (One of the things that I liked was that he could actually WRITE. Correct grammar and everything.) We agreed to talk on the phone, and our first conversation lasted a good couple of hours. It was during that conversation, by the way, that we found out that we both love Star Trek and Chris Isaak, among many other things. I think that was all she wrote. We met for lunch the next day, we were engaged 3 months later, and married 4 months after that...and we've lived happily ever after!

I know not everyone has such success. I'm not sure why I got so lucky to find such a great guy on my first try. Maybe the time was just right...I honestly don't know. The online dating horror stories? My advice would be to be very cautious. Listen to what your gut tells you--most people who do online dating have been at it for a while, so you should have enough experience to know what strikes you as a possible falsehood. Don't give out too much information at the beginning. I didn't give Ken my last name until we'd been writing for a little while, and I didn't give him my phone number. When we agreed to talk on the phone, I called the number he gave me. (By the way, when he answered the phone, he said, "Dominos Pizza." It gave me a couple of seconds' pause, but I realized he was being funny. Hardy har!) And when we agreed to meet, I made sure that Cousin Shane knew when and where we were meeting, and Ken's phone number, etc. If I sound like a paranoid freak, okay. Being cautious has served me well over the years.

But yeah...online dating can work. It's actually a pretty good way to meet someone, a little more civilized than meeting them in a bar. I know people have had success with subscriber dating services, but you can probably find something without paying for a subscription. (That's where I found Ken's ad.) Just trust your instincts as to whether or not to trust and believe someone. And be careful out there.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Beth's Music Moment

Before I get to that, the AOL journals editor (Joe) wrote about how to register with AOL to leave comments using an existing email address. You still have to go through a registration process, but it's not like actually signing up for AOL. If anyone is interested, you can read his entry here. He's been incredibly helpful with many of his entries, and everything I've tried has always worked! It's just a way for non-AOL users to leave comments if they so wish.

Now to today's Music Moment. No one has suggested a better name to me yet, but I'm willing to consider any and all comers. So for now, Music Moment it is. Today I'll write about The Rainmakers. They hail from Kansas City, Missouri, and they definitely have that "heartland" feel to their music. Straight-up rock and roll, and clever lyrics. (I'm sensing a theme here...one thing that always strikes me is clever lyrics.) I think I first encountered the Rainmakers through the "Downstream" video, which I will include later on. I loved their first album, which was self-titled, and even 20 years later, I bet I remember all the lyrics! All of the songs on that disc are good, but my favorites are "Downstream," "Let My People Go-Go," "Big Fat Blonde," (sooooo-weee!) and "Long Gone Long." Their second album was "Tornado." The songs "Snakedance," "One More Summer," and "I Talk With My Hands" are personal favorites. Their later albums ("The Good News and the Bad News" and "Skin") are also good, but for me, the first two are what drew me in and have stuck with me.

Here are the lyrics to "Long Gone Long." Discussion afterwards.

Older than I used to be, younger than I'm gonna be
Fewer things puzzle me than when I was young
But when my pace is falling slack
I catch myself thinking back
a certain night, a certain summer
Long gone long

August she was swinging low
Town of about a thousand-so
Out of school, ready to get out of here
Off to farm, off to State, each going our separate ways
Graduation message still sweet in our ears

Oh oh oh, clocks are slow
Hearts beat on
Long gone long

Got into a car thatnight
Drove out past the signal light
Past the city limits, guess it wasn't that far
Stopped out on a rural route
Gooch got out his .22
Shooting at a freight train that was hauling new cars

Drinking underneath the stars
Watching counting meteors
Robert said you know those fell a hundred years ago
The light is just now reaching earth
I said man for what it's worth
I think you are wrong and you really don't know

CHORUS

Is something going on, I tell you nothing's going on
Nothing's going on, going on, going on
Is something going on, I tell you nothing's going on
Nothing's going on, going on

Goodbye to the home team, goodbye to the rinky-dinks
Goodbye to a girl, down my street heading home
She stepped out from behind a tree, tears running down her cheeks
Goodbye to more than either of us could have known

This is another of those songs that can bring a tear to my eye. Something about it is just so heartbreaking, and for anyone who grew up in a small town, immediately reminiscent of our own childhood. "Past the city limits, guess it wasn't that far." Man, I hear ya, Bob! Another great line is from the song "Drinking on the Job": "The generation that would change the world is still looking for its car keys." I guess I should mention that this brilliance was written by frontman Bob Walkenhorst. Besides having a way with words, he used to have this crazy mop of hair that was just awesome (you'll see if you watch the videos). I was lucky enough to get to see the band in Grand Forks, North Dakota, of all places. They totally rocked! But it gets hot up there onstage, with all the lights and equipment, and Bob is pretty active onstage...so he was getting pretty sweaty. At one point, he leaned out over the audience and shook that hair, and the sweat flew for a good six feet. My friends said, "Ewwww, gross!" I said, "COOL!" Hey man, he was workin' up there, and I respect that. I expect my musicians to sweat.

I don't know if the band still plays together these days, but Bob is still in Kansas City and still making music. Here is the band's website and here is Bob's. There's nothing fancy about The Rainmakers, but who said good music has to be fancy? As Big Audio Dynamite says, "Just play that music."

Our first video is of the song with the lyrics above, "Long Gone Long." I hope it touches you the way it does me.

Our second video is "Downstream," and if this doesn't make you move, call the coroner, 'cause you're dead.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Chicago marathon

When I got online this morning, this was the headline I saw:

CHICAGO (Oct. 7) -- In scorching heat and high humidity, the Chicago Marathon took a deadly turn Sunday.

One runner died, another 250 people were taken to area hospitals because of heat-related ailments, and thousands were denied the chance to cross the finish line in the race long known for its brisk fall temperatures and flat terrain.

Kinda freaked me out, because my friend Felicia was running in the marathon. She was worried all week about it, that she wouldn't be able to finish, that it would be too hot, etc. She was right about the last one, that's for sure. Reading that got me to worrying, so I called work and talked to her. Not only is she okay, she said, "I finished!" She did really well, too, and beat everyone in her group. She said that they told her she could finish at 24 (if you recall, a marathon is 26 miles), but once you reached a certain point, they let you finish. She said that for whatever reason, she felt really good and was able to go the distance. Great job, Felicia! And yeah, we know she's crazy for running marathons, but we love her anyway. Ha!

Later

Criminy, it's hot. I took the recycling out, and it's terribly hot and humid. And to think people ran a marathon yesterday, in this kind of heat...it's no wonder there were multiple cases of heat exhaustion. Felicia has talked about doing an Iron Man triathlon. If she can finish a marathon in this kind of weather, I think she's off to a good start!

A very productive day so far! The roast is in the crockpot, the laundry is almost done (Four loads, mind you! I did sheets and towels, too.), talked to my folks (Mom is a little under the weather, so I hope she feels better soon), and ordered baby gifts for my nephew and his wife (and their baby-on-the-way, of course). I also thought I'd try a little widget from Technorati, a "cloud" of my top tags. Looks like the Irish are leading the pack! I also added links to my most recent entries--I don't know why I didn't have that up there before. A good wildlife day here at Nutwood, too. I saw the redbreasted nuthatch this morning, along with his spouse. Yep, we have a pair! Then there were 12 or so turkeys in the back yard, and I've seen a couple of deer off and on throughout the day. Currently, the back yard and trees are full of grackles. Every so often, a huge flock will descend on our place, and they put up quite a racket. It's also a little creepy, because it always reminds me of "The Birds."

And...later

I've mentioned my friend Jillian's online book club, which will be starting November 1st. I found a neat website today called Better World. They basically salvage library books, etc., make them available for purchase, and use the money to fund literacy programs. What a great idea! They also mention carbon offsetting, but don't get me started on that. If you read this regularly, you know I have my own bugaboos about that. However, books should always be recycled, whether by passing them along to a friend or donating them to a library. (I have to admit that I have actually thrown books in the garbage...but they were written by an ex-BF of sorts, and it was more of a purge than anything else. Sort of "Here's what I think of you AND your books!" I make no apologies for that.) I think this selling salvaged books is a great idea, and I may order some reasonably-priced books on our reading list from them. I'll check our local library first, but there might be some I want to buy.

Yeah, I get it...LATER

This is from the Seven Deadly Sins NFL blog. It made me laugh.

"Bucs head coach Jon Gruden on the opposing quarterback:

"That damn Peyton Manning, he really irritated me today."

That guy can be a real jerk with his, "I'm really good, I can make every throw, I'm a really smart quarterback, I don't make any mistakes, I turn negatives into positives" routine. It just gets old. It's so selfish of him."

Ha! I thought that was pretty funny.

When I talked with Dad today, we talked football, of course. While we're both pleased with the Notre Dame win, we realize they've got a ways to go. Dad also mentioned that he watched the Colts game and he said, "They were like a machine. Every formation, every pass that Peyton threw, every receiver, they were all right where they were supposed to be, doing what they were supposed to be doing. And they had several guys injured!" Dad speaks the truth. It kind of surprised even me, and I know how good they are. But from what I read, they are relentless in their practices, drills, and research, especially Peyton. I'm not trying to jinx them or anything--I know that anything can happen, and I'm not so foolish to believe that they're unbeatable. But they really are looking good, and dare I say it? Better than last year. I know that some don't care much for the precision of a team like the Colts--Ken says he likes smash-mouth football. I guess I'm a little different--I like the sheer elegance of a play executed well, and I like knowing that research and study can result in success. Considering that I'm not quite 5 feet tall, I think it's understandable that I like seeing brains triumph over brawn. I also like seeing a nice, decent guy like Tony Dungy succeed. What can I say? I loves me my Colts.

 

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Thank you, Touchdown Jesus!

Even though the ND-UCLA game was in Pasadena, Touchdown Jesus must've been looking out for us. A win, finally, a WIN, I tell you! This meant so much. I can't begin to tell you how rough this season has been so far. It just made me feel heartsick to see them keep losing, and to become the butt of jokes, and to know that they are decent kids who want to win. I hope this gives them a great morale boost, and they can build on things from here. They still have plenty of work to do, but I think we saw some positive things. I predict that Jimmy Clausen is going to be a great quarterback. Yep, I said it.

I'm watching the Colts-Buccaneers game right now (Hey, where's your Buccaneers? Under my buckin' hat. Sorry, it's a joke I have to do whenever I say or think Buccaneers.), and Dallas Clark just got hit really hard. Ouch...oh good, it looks like he's up and mobile. And now Dallas is back in the game. Good, but be careful, buddy!

Joe of Magic Smoke was kind enough to give me a "Friday blogplug." It's really nice, because it gets people I don't know to take a look at this blog, and it's always a treat to have someone new give it a read (and hopefully comment!). Joe wrote that he wasn't familiar with The Godfathers, which isn't totally surprising, because they never hit it really big in the States, and I don't think they could ever be considered "mainstream." That got me to thinking at work today about the music I like, and about how once I got into high school and college, I definitely shunned the mainstream. Cousin Shane is the same way, and we've always sought out new and interesting music. Way back when, we liked Tom Petty in the "Breakdown" days, Blondie pre-"Heart of Glass," and the fabulous B-52's long before they hit the Top 40 with "Love Shack." We used to joke that we should be A&R people for a record company!

I was listening to our MP3 player at work while I was thinking about this, and I have some great old stuff on there, some of it kind of obscure, or at least not well-known to most folks. I thought I'd write about some of my favorites every so often, and I bet I can find a video or two on YouTube! Maybe I can come up with a snappy little title (any suggestions, anyone?) for this, like Beth's Music Moment or something like that. That's not snappy, that's lame, but you get the idea. It might get some people to listen to some great bands that they've never heard of before, and that's always fun. Today I'll write about one of the bands I was listening to at work today, Big Audio Dynamite.

BAD was led by Mick Jones, the former guitarist and one of the singers for The Clash, so that gives him and any band he's in immediate credibility, in my book. BAD was not much like the Clash, though. They still had some crunchy guitar, but the other band members brought a definite reggae/dance/hip hop sound to the group. It's some very danceable stuff, but Mick also hung on to his punk sensibilities and wrote some clever and biting lyrics about social injustices and current topics. This is from one of my favorites, "Stone Thames," a song about AIDS. Remember, this was in the '80's, when AIDS was first recognized.

Heard the news about the scare in the underwear
Population's getting thin, forget the bomb, its carnal sin, yeah
Marriage up, divorce is down, who wants to fuck around
Save the rose, reject romance, Mickey Mouse don't drop his pants

Now to sexual relations better take a wife
Now that sex is death, better lead a boring life
No time for social kissing, you'll hardly raise a smile
When you think what you'll be missing, iron undies back in style

The tramp of time continues, en masse to wedding bells
But they haven't made no breakthrough to helper T white cells
Wholesale Hyper wipe out, technology against the pest
Put away those etchings, sorry baby no contest

Notches and phone numbers, collecting flesh as pelts
Stealing cancer's thunder, blows below the belt
Oh don't it make you wonder 'bout how the cards are dealt...holy cow

AIDS certainly changed behaviors. This wasn't a little bacterial infection that could be cleared up with antibiotics--this was a virus that could kill you. (Thank goodness there have been so many advances in treatment--when it first appeared, it was a death sentence. No longer.) So Mick and his bandmates were quite topical and clever with their lyrics. They were also one of the first bands that I know of who used sampling in their songs, with snippets from movies, radio broadcasts, etc. Fatboy Slim owes them a lot.

You can find more info at Amazon, including all their CD's, and listen to some of their songs. Some of my favorites are the aforementioned "Stone Thames," "Medicine Show," "The Bottom Line," "Limbo the Law," "The Big V," "James Brown," and "House Arrest." There are plenty of others I like, too, and this is the song that I first heard from them. I don't recall if it was in a movie, or if it was on MTV (Remember when they played music? That was cool.), but I loved it. Here is "E=mc²." Try to focus on the song and not Mick's teeth. Yikes.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Nine dollars well spent

After work today, I wanted to get a few things at the store, so I went to Walmart (which is on the way home). Note to myself: avoid Walmart on Saturday! Yikes!

Anyhoo, on my way into the store, there was a little kid standing there by a table--he was maybe 8 years old, and he was selling popcorn for his Boy Scout troop. He asked me if I'd like to buy some popcorn, and I was in a hurry and knew I didn't have enough cash on me, so I said, "I'm sorry, honey, I can't today." For the first time in my life, I think I actually saw someone look "crestfallen." As soon as I got in the store, I felt so sad and so bad about it, I knew I couldn't let it stand that way. After I got my stuff, I went out the same door, and luckily he was still there. I asked, "Will you take a check?" He said, "Sure!" then turned to his Mom and asked, "Can we take a check?" Awww! He showed me all the stuff they were selling, and even said, "If that's too expensive, we have this for a dollar." (It was an individual bag of microwave popcorn.) I said, "How about the caramel corn?" It was nine dollars. He said, "Okay!" and while I wrote out the check, he said, "I'll just put this in your cart, okay?" Bless his little heart. When I gave his Mom the check, she said to me, "Thank you so much...he was getting kind of discouraged." I said, "Yeah, I could see that on my way in, that's why I wanted to stop."

Sometimes it's the little things that can make a difference. Seeing his little face in my mind, I'm just so glad I stopped. I hope I brightened his day a little bit. I know there are a lot of school fundraisers going on right now, and we get bombarded at work with them, although my coworkers are very low-key about it. If it's something I will use, I usually try to get a little something (I just bought a cookbook from my friend Pat's daughter's class), but I know we have to draw the line at some point. However, if a little guy (or gal) is standing out in the hot sun, and he makes the effort to ask for your donation, take the time and help him out.

As for my Boy Scout, I think it might have brightened MY day even more than his.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Friday for you, Wednesday for me

Yep, I have to work this weekend, so today is my Hump Day. It shouldn't be too bad, though, because we had a good day today, which bodes well going into the weekend. The big bummer is that Ken has tomorrow off, so we won't get to have a day off together until next weekend. This too shall pass....

The Godfathers message board continues to get comments from members, and everyone is all a-quiver. I would say that most of the members are from England or Europe, so they probably have a much better chance of seeing them than any of us in the States do. I hope it works out that they play here, but if not, I'm sure the guys on the board will give extensive reviews, and there will also be a reissued CD with extra tracks! Actually, I probably have most of the extra tracks--I found some obscure stuff like BBC sessions, dance mixes, etc. But I'll buy it for the liner notes! I'll stay optimistic, though, because you never know what will happen! As you know if you read this regularly, I've been on a major Dandy Warhols kick, but to celebrate the news, I played The Godfathers at work today. I'm tellin' ya, it's some good stuff!

Oh my goodness! I was just looking out the window and watching the birds at the feeder. I saw one little guy, and thought, "Hey, he's kind of small for a nuthatch." I got the binocs for a close look, and while he IS a nuthatch, he's a red-breasted instead of a white-breasted! We've got white-breasteds galore, but I haven't seen the red-breasted for a few years now. How cool that they're still around! He's a cute little thing.

We're having a mini-heatwave here at Nutwood--it's getting up into the 80's this weekend (it's 82° here at the moment), which will probably set some records. The leaves are falling like crazy, so it LOOKS like autumn, but it feels like summer! I'm not complaining, I love the warm weather. The squirrels also know it's autumn, because they've been very busy burying walnuts and acorns. It seems that they're in the yard constantly, finding a spot, digging a little hole, sticking their nut in it, burying it, and then what cracks me up every time...they pat it down with their little paws. They look around, too, almost like they're saying, "What? There's no nut here. Move it along, nothing to see...." But then I tend to anthropomorphize our critters.

Ohhh, I got an email today from Mr. Baker of New Smyrna Beach. He wrote that the demolition of the Alba Court Inn started yesterday, and he sent along a few pictures. It was so nice of him to take the time to write, but it sure made me sad.

As she was:

And as she is (sniff):

 

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Breaking news from the music world

This just in, from The Godfathers Yahoo group:

London, October 3rd, 2007

Hi there, I'm The Godfathers' manager and here is some news you may be
interested in:

The Godfathers are reuniting their original line-up to reissue an
expanded 21st anniversary edition of their debut album Hit By Hit on
January 10th, which has been repackaged to include 19 extra tracks.
Selected headline shows and festival dates to promote this will
include their traditional Valentines Day Massacre concert at a major
London venue in 2008.

THE GODFATHERS are:

Peter Coyne - vocals
Chris Coyne - bass guitar & vocals
Mike Gibson - guitars & vocals
Kris Dollimore - guitars & vocals
George Mazur - drums, percussion & vocals

Needless to say, the message group is going crazy, clamoring for tour dates for places from Sweden to Detroit. (Martyn's comment was "F*** me!!!!!" Ha! I added my two cents with a request for a Chicago date.) Most folks probably aren't familiar with The Godfathers, but they're one of the finest bands to come out of the eighties/nineties. They had one fairly big hit in the States, the fabulous "Birth School Work Death," but they had plenty of other great songs. Kris Dollimore is a crazy-good guitarist, and Peter Coyne's voice is awesome. How cool that they're getting back together, and I hope a serious tour develops. I never got to see them "back in the day," but I'd definitely make a trip to Chicago for them. Ken? Shane? ROAD TRIP! Heck, I think I'd go to Detroit for them, for that matter (I doubt if they'll play Indy, but I'd go there too, of course). I also don't think they'll be charging some $250 per ticket, not to mention who would do that, POLICE.

This is very exciting. Wow, I can't believe they're reuniting (and it feels so good). I shouldn't be too surprised, though, because from what I've read, they've stayed in touch, and recently, Peter Coyne was managing Kris Dollimore for his solo CD (which is quite good and bluesy, and Kris was kind enough to sign it for me before he sent it off from England!), so they must have got to talking. COOL! Watch a little and see if they don't rock most totally awesomely. By the way, the original title of this blog was "Breathing Down the Line," a line from this song. I changed it not out of losing my love for The Godfathers, but just to reflect our place here a little more.

Later

More breaking news! I fired off an email to Kris and Peter via Kris's website:

Hi Kris and Peter,

Is it true? A reunion, plus concert dates? Are you coming to the States? Please come to the States! The message board is going crazy!

Beth

And got back a quick reply from Peter, with a little officialese after his reply:

Hi Beth

It is so! 100% fom the horse's mouth!!

Thought we'd personally let you know the breaking news - be good to see you on Saint Valentine's Day 2008. Official website www.godfathershq.com coming soon...

Peter Coyne Chris Coyne Kris Dollimore Mike Gibson George Mazur

_____________

Legendary English rock and roll band The Godfathers are reuniting their original line-up to reissue an expanded 21st anniversary edition of their debut album Hit By Hit on January 10th, which has been repackaged to include 19 extra tracks.

Selected headline shows and festival dates to promote this will include their traditional Valentine’s Day Massacre concert at a major London venue on February 14th 2008.

After 19 years away from the world’s stage the original classic line-up of The Godfathers are reforming to play some selected dates to promote the reissue of their seminal debut album ‘Hit By Hit’. The influential 80’s band were regarded as the finest exponents of Brit-based rock ‘n’ roll and were regularly hailed as one of the best live acts in the world.

The Hit By Hit album comprises all the single recordings from the band’s early career on their own independent label Corporate Image, augmented with studio and live extra tracks culled from international live shows and BBC Radio One Sessions.

A list of tracks followed, and I was intrigued by one in particular, a live version of "Blitzkrieg Bop." How cool is that?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Two presents

Another gorgeous day!

There wasn't much work at the lab today, so I took off an hour early. That was my first present, and what a treat THAT is! I knew I'd better enjoy it while I could, because Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are probably our busiest days in the ol' Micro lab. I don't think I'll be leaving early the next few days!

My second present was in the mailbox when I got home. Cousin Shane had told me he was sending me a birthday present, so I knew that's what it was. (My birthday was in August, but for various reasons, we just haven't been able to get together for a while.) When I opened it up, I was delighted and touched to see that he'd gotten me the DVD of "Elvis," better known as the "68 Comeback Special." I don't feel like finding the post in the archives, but I had raved about it a while back, and Shane, bless his heart, got that for me. He's such a cool cousin--I'm so lucky to have a great cousin like Shane! :)

From the Cruel Irony File: Every once in a while, Sheeba has a slight barfage problem. I don't know if he eats too much out of boredom while we're at work, or if he eats a bug, or what, but sometimes we'll have to do Barf Detail. Poor little guy, he barfed today--on the dresser, a little bit on one of my T-shirts laying there, and a whole bunch on--here's the cruel irony part--one of Ken's Notre Dame hats. I know I feel kind of sick watching the games lately, but gee Sheeba, isn't that a little much? Et tu, Sheeba?

We're gearing up for my pal Jillian's online book club! The two of us were practicing a bit with the Google group, so we can figure out the posting, etc. The reading doesn't commence until Nov. 1st, so I should have time to finish my current book before then. I'm reading American Mafia by Thomas Reppetto (it's nonfiction). Like most people, I have a bit of a fascination with the Mafia, but pretty much all I've read about them is their involvement in Vegas (which is no longer true, from what I've heard). I'm not very far into it yet, but already I'm learning that there are a lot of misconceptions about it. It's not some kind of ancient Sicilian brotherhood--it's actually fairly new, and the structure of the Families is a relatively American thing. Interesting stuff! They also include the picture of Bugsy Siegel's corpse, after he was hit for not being able to account for the bosses' money. I've seen it before, and it's not a pleasant picture. But then, it's not a pleasant organization!

Oh, I was talking about our book club. A lot of these should be really interesting--I was reading some synopses on Amazon yesterday. But I know the one I'm dreading the most: James Joyce's Ulysses, topping the charts at Number One with a bullet! I read a snippet, and I don't know if I'll be able to make any sense of the book at all. I have a feeling I'll be saying, "Why, exactly, is this one of the greatest novels of the 20th century?" It looks a little crazy. Okay, it looks a LOT crazy. I do read a lot, but I like my books to have some cohesiveness.