Friday, November 30, 2007

December's knocking

It's almost December, and we've got a winter storm watch for the weekend. Doesn't sound like a horrible deal (unfortunately, I have to work this weekend), just messy, with rain, snow, freezing rain, then rain again. Yuck!

Well, if you didn't know it, November was NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month. The challenge was to post at least one entry every day, and with this entry, I have succeeded! Not only that, there were some days when I had more than one entry! Yes! It's alive! It's aliiiiiive! Bwah hah hah hah! Whoops, I slipped back into science fiction land there...or else "Better Off Dead," which is one of my favorite movies. "I want my two dollars!"

This morning, I was doing Vitek setup with Jillian and Nan (our manager). I mentioned that we watched the Republican debate the other night, and we ended up having a very good discussion. Jillian is a Democrat, Nan and I are Republicans, but we all are reasonable in our comments, and not rabid on either side of the fence. There's also a certain level of respect involved in not ridiculing anyone's ideas, at least as long as they also keep the exchange civil. If someone starts spouting rhetoric at me, I really don't want to listen any more, let alone try to discuss anything with them. At that point, it's nothing but a pissing contest, and not worth my time. But that wasn't the case this morning, and we had a good little talk! That's the thing that bothers me about extremists. What is wrong with having a nice discussion and exchange of ideas? Chances are, there are a lot of things we agree on if we take the time to find out. But if we're going to have an exchange, that means not shouting over me when I'm trying to make a comment, and I will do the same for you.

That reminds me of something that happened a few weeks ago. I was sitting at one bench, and three of my coworkers were sitting at the benches in front of me--four of us, all in a row. I can't even recall what we were talking about, but there was one point where I looked up, and every single one of them was looking at me and talking. I said, "Hold up! You're all talking at the same time--I can't stand it!" We all had a good laugh over that!

I'm wishing my stepdaughter a very happy birthday today, and sending her positive thoughts.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A productive day

Hey, I feel pretty good about today. I feel like I got a lot done, including three loads of laundry, vacuuming (even the stairs down to the basement!), getting the bird feeders filled, etc. I just made my second trip out to get the mail, but still nothing--I think our carrier is coming later now. Criminy, it's cold out! It finally got above freezing, but the wind is very brisk, so it's quite nippy. It feels pretty good inside.


Have you been reading about Kindle? (By the way, I don't think the link up there works, but if you go to Amazon, it's right there on the front page.) My sister Di was telling me about it at Thanksgiving. In some ways, it's sounds pretty cool:

Product Overview

Revolutionary electronic-paper display provides a sharp, high-resolution screen that looks and reads like real paper.

Simple to use: no computer, no cables, no syncing.

Wireless connectivity enables you to shop the Kindle Store directly from your Kindle—whether you’re in the back of a taxi, at the airport, or in bed.

Buy a book and it is auto-delivered wirelessly in less than one minute.

More than 90,000 books available, including 100 of 112 current New York Times® Best Sellers.

New York Times® Best Sellers and all New Releases $9.99, unless marked otherwise.

Lighter and thinner than a typical paperback; weighs only 10.3 ounces.

Holds over 200 titles.

Long battery life. Leave wireless on and recharge approximately every other day. Turn wireless off and read for a week or more before recharging. Fully recharges in 2 hours.

No monthly wireless bills, service plans, or commitments—we take care of the wireless delivery so you can simply click, buy, and read.

Includes free wireless access to the planet's most exhaustive and up-to-date encyclopedia—

Email your Word documents and pictures (.JPG, .GIF, .BMP, .PNG) to Kindle for easy on-the-go viewing.

I can see using this if you travel a lot. Wow, would that be handy, or what? But as someone who loves books, I'm not sure something like this can ever replace sitting down and holding a book in my hands and turning the pages.

That being said, I think this is an amazing thing. If they continue developing the technology and storage, you could have your entire library on the thing. However, in the event of a global holocaust, there won't be any way to charge the thing, unless they eventually come up with a solar cell or something. But then what if it's nuclear winter, and you don't see the sun for decades? A nuclear power source, perhaps? And how will anyone write a story about an ancient library and jeez, I'm stuck in science fiction land!

There's just something in me that balks at an electronic library. It would be very handy in some ways, but there's just something sacred about books.


A lesson to learn

Lesson one, just begun
Growing up, ain`t much fun
Grown up, out of school
Out of luck and out of rules
No one there to tell me how
A different world - teacher, teacher, teach me now

"Teacher Teacher" by Rockpile

I was talking to Mary at work the other day, and she was telling me about how things are so different from when we were in school. Her son loves to discuss things and debate various topics, but so many of the other kids are so apathetic that his teacher had to tell him to not join in on the discussion so that the other kids would speak up. I find that so sad...I understand why the teacher would say that, because she's trying to engage the other kids in the discussion, but how sad that she feels she has to tell one kid to be quiet, because the other kids just don't care to voice their opinion.

It got me to thinking about some of the teachers that I had through the years. Whether it was grade school, high school, or college, I was very fortunate to have some wonderful teachers, ones that I remember to this day. When I graduated from high school, my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Lineback, sent me a letter. She'd saved an essay I'd written in the fourth grade about what I wanted to be when I grew up. What a neat thing to do! In high school, there was Mr. Flatt, who taught English and writing. He had us all discussing Shakespeare, and actually being interested in it. He also was my instructor in Driver's Ed, and he kept his cool even when trying to teach me to parallel park. The man was a saint! Miss Spellman was my Chemistry teacher, and it's probably because of her that I went into healthcare. We took a field trip to a local hospital, and I was fascinated by the atmosphere. Mr. Cosner was my German teacher, as well as my World History teacher. He gave me a much-needed dose of self-confidence because he believed I could get past my shyness and be president of the German club. (He was right.) I went to a very small high school (there were about 100 people in my graduating class), so all of our teachers knew us well for several years, and we got plenty of personal attention.

In college, Dr. Warnes was my Bacteriology prof. He later became the chair of the Biology department, and recently stepped down. His knowledge inspired me to go into Microbiology after I got my degree in Medical Technology. Dr. Adalis was my Parasitology prof, and she had the same effect on me. It was because of the two of them that I ended up doing what I'm doing now.

Teaching is one of our most noble and important professions. A great teacher has the opportunity to influence lives in such profound ways. We should all be grateful to anyone who chooses that path because they care so much, since they will be shaping our future. Let's hear it for the teachers! Huzzah! Let's hear it for me getting to use the word "huzzah." Huzzah!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Ken and I got to talking tonight (and laughing, too) about how people eventually end up being like their parents. It seems that daughters usually become like their mothers, and sons like their fathers. It's certainly happening in our case. My Mom (bless her heart) is incredibly klutzy, and she'll be the first to admit it. She's always tripping over things, running into things, and unfortunately, there are times that she's really been hurt--we urge her to slow down and be careful, and she really does try, but somehow ends up getting bruised and sore no matter what. I take after her in that regard, no doubt about it. I also notice that Mom and I are agreeing on more and more things, and Mom has a compassion for others that I hope I'm on my way to realizing. (I also take after my Dad in a lot of ways, such as his logic and love of learning, so I managed to get the best of both worlds!)

Ken is the same way. I never got to meet his Dad, I'm sorry to say, but Ken says that he is so much like him. He went into engineering because that's what his Dad did. Ken works long hours and works hard, but he loves his time off and loves to travel and have fun, and Ken says that's exactly what his Dad was like. They both ran various side businesses during their careers, both were (and are) level-headed even during dire circumstances, and both did everything in their power to maintain a relationship with their children after divorce. Ken's Mom (who I have met, and love to pieces) has the same wicked sense of humor that Ken has. During our visits with his Mom (AKA Charlie), who like us readily admits her mistakes, we have all talked about these mistakes and the challenges we have experienced in our lives. Ken and his Mom, as well as my parents, have said that while as parents they may have their flaws, they believe that their children often get a few really good behavior traits from them. As a step-parent, I agree with that, and hope for the same.

In my younger (and more foolish) days, I remember that the last thing I wanted to be was like my parents. I suspect that Ken felt the same way. With a few years under our belts, I think we both have learned that they were a lot smarter and better people than we realized at the time. We're lucky that we both have such great role models and such great parents. If it is inevitable that we become our parents, we can only hope that they are decent and loving people, rather than bitter, angry, and unhappy. Ken and I are very fortunate in that regard.


I'm stunned

Bam! 'Emeril Live' is history

By Charlie McCollum
San Jose Mercury News

The Food Network confirmed today that after 10 seasons, "Emeril Live" - once the flagship of its prime-time schedule - will cease production of new episodes in mid-December.

The culinary cable channel says Chef Emeril Lagasse will continue to produce his other Food Network show, "Essence of Emeril." But the more elaborate "Emeril Live" - with its live audience and studio band - will tape its last episode on Dec. 11 at New York City's Chelsea Market. The show will live on in repeats (at 7 p.m. weekdays) for the foreseeable future.

There also appears to be some question on how long Lagasse will remain with the Food Network. His current five-year contract is up early next year and's 'FishBowlNY" is reporting that negotiations on a new deal have broken down in recent days.

I'm stunned, and I'm so sad. I love Emeril, and I love "Emeril Live." The band is so much fun to listen to, and Emeril is my favorite. We were even talking about going to NYC to visit our friend RaQuel, and while we were there, we wanted to go see a taping of the show! Even Ken has gotten to like watching the show sometimes. Awwww, man! I'm glad he'll still be doing "Essence of Emeril," at least for now, because I usually have the Food Network on when I have days off, and I like that show. Food Network had better try to keep him...the Food Network without Emeril? Perish the thought. That would be like cancelling "Iron Chef." Blasphemers!

Speaking of days off, I have one tomorrow. Ahhh. The usual day-off chores, but I don't think I ever have a bad day off! I was good, though, and brought home my ESBL stuff to review. This morning, Pat called me the "rock star" of the department because I did well on my test. Ha! That's the only way I'm ever going to be called a rock star, so thanks, Pat!

I wrote the other day about how I still find my job interesting after so many years because there's always something new to learn. One of the neatest things I've seen over the past few years is the development of Polymerase Chain Reaction testing for the commercial lab. It's some amazing stuff, and it's some of my favorite testing to do at the lab. Kary Mullis (A very interesting person, if you read his book...I would say he's definitely eccentric, almost a "mad scientist" type, but obviously brilliant.) won the Nobel prize for Chemistry for developing a way to make it work in a practical setting. There's some controversy about whether or not he "invented" PCR. Well, he didn't, not really. He built upon various pieces of research, including his own, but he was the one who could get it into workable form, rather than a time-consuming and esoteric test.

It's been a major breakthrough in providing excellent patient care. We can get results much faster, and we can detect even minute amounts of organism in a specimen, because PCR targets a particular section of the DNA strand and duplicates it over and over until there are millions of them, and then we run the detection portion. It's some amazing stuff. We're currently running PCR/Molecular assays for gonorrhea and Chlamydia, Group B Beta Strep, and our most recent addition is none other than "Super Bug!" (AKA MRSA) For MRSA, our cultures take 48 hours, but the PCR assay can be done in 3 hours or so. My lab rocks! Oh, and these are just the tests we do in Microbiology. In the rest of the lab, there are plenty of other Molecular assays done, including HIV, Hepatitis, Pertussis, Herpes...on and on. It's pretty cool, but the best thing is that it has a real impact on patient care, and it's always been gratifying to know that my coworkers and I do the best we can for our patients.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

And still they make us learn....

We had our weekly departmental meeting today, and it went a half an hour over because we talked about ESBL's for...a half an hour. Agghhh! Will the torture never end? According to my technical supervisor, NO. She says that this is the easy part, that there's much more to come, and she wants us to understand it all very well before we move onto the next step. She said she knows it's difficult information to absorb, but we need to understand the concept. I did well on my test, but she made me decide to go back and review everything again, just to make sure I'm solid with it. She told us that when doctors call, we need to help them understand why we're doing what we're doing. Apparently, "Uhhh... 'cause they told me to?" won't work. Ha!

I haven't had a Music Moment for a while, so here we go.

Beth's Music Moment: Los Straitjackets

Hey, is that a Hot Pocket he's eating?

Chances are you've never heard of Los Straitjackets, but chances are good you've heard their music. They do some background music for shows and movies. I first heard them as the background music when the local rock station I listen to was doing a programming break (I'm sure there's a technical name for that, but I don't know it). I thought it was so cool I wrote to the station, the DJ who fielded the email asked the DJ who played it, and I had my answer!

The band is from Nashville, and although I've never seen them live, I hear they really tear it up. Apparently they don't talk much onstage, but one of the guys will intro the songs in bastardized Spanish. (You might notice the Mexican wrestling masks--as far as I know, they always wear them. I saw a picture of them sitting on some rocks at Big Sur in their hoodies and jackets...and masks.) I would describe their music as modern surf. They don't sing, and didn't release a CD with vocals until a few years ago when they did a collaboration with various singers. They're great musicians, and that surf guitar sound is just a blast--I love the backbeat and the whammy. I love to put it on as background music--it's fun and energetic (with a rare ballad thrown in) but not overwhelming. Viva Los Straitjackets!

A tiny bit later

Ken reminded me to share this movie popcorn trick. Credit goes to Tom Griswold of the Bob & Tom Show. To butter your popcorn well (yes, it's faux butter, but it's still disgustingly yummy), grab a straw. Insert it into your bucket of popcorn, and let the golden goo flow through the straw into the depths of your popcorn. I do this a couple of times in different spots and depths. This insures that once you get past that top layer, you won't be faced with plain ol' dry popcorn. And the salt problem? Sprinkle some in a napkin and roll it up. Your popcorn will be greasy, salty, and delightfully heart attacky for the entire movie! Everyone's happy!


I have a request from a...what was your name? Ken? Okay. I have a request from Ken to put a Los Straitjackets video up here so you can hear what they sound like. Good request. This is a pretty fun video, too, a promo for the movie "Psycho Beach Party." Hey, why haven't I seen that?! Add it to the list. Check out the 45's and albums on the ceiling of the stage. And the chick is wearing some way cool boots! I have some like that, but mine are black.



Monday, November 26, 2007

Forgive me, Georgia

I feel like I may have hurt Georgia's feelings yesterday when I wrote about water usage. I love Georgia--I almost went to college at U of Georgia, and I spent my college summers up in the mountains (my parents had a house there at the time), and I still have relatives there. If Georgia really needed our help, I'm sure we would give them some water. We can't drain the Great Lakes, of course, but if it came down to a situation where cities couldn't function without more water, obviously we'd have to share. But there would have to be limits, because as I wrote, lower levels in the Great Lakes would cause a multitude of our own problems. Also, I stand behind what I said about making some changes in water usage laws. There are going to be times of drought (just ask poor Ohio--our friends Karen and Doug had a hard time of it this past year), so you can't use your resources like there is no end to them. There obviously is an end to them.

Does this (along with the water wars that have been going on in the Southwest for years now) make anyone else picture bands of marauders descending upon your town, demanding that you hand over the water? Don't be so quick to laugh at that. Think about how bad it is when your power goes out and you don't have water for a couple of days. (After an ice storm six years ago, when we couldn't stay in our place for four days, we bought a generator. You really don't want to be without power or water for four days in January around here.)

Arrgh, it's always so hard to go back to work after a few days off! What am I saying? It's hard to go back after one day off. No one felt like being there today, and there wasn't a lot of work. However, it was a good opportunity for everyone to work on a project we all have to do. I did well on my post-test and got the organisms subbed out so I can set them up tomorrow. Our pathologist and supervisor in Microbiology want us to really learn about and be familiar with a bacterial resistance mechanism called ESBL (Extended Spectrum Beta Lactamase). Can you believe they expect us to learn more stuff? Criminy, just crack the whip a little more, why don't you? Actually, one of the things I've always liked about my job and that has kept me interested over the years is that things are always changing, and there are always new things that we need to learn about. Our supervisor has said that we need to educate the doctors and pharmacists on stuff like this. Most doctors really don't know more than generalities about Microbiology, and they often call us with questions. We can't recommend treatments--we can only report our findings as to which antibiotics a bacterium is resistant or susceptible to--but we are expected to tell them that a particular antibiotic is ineffective for a certain organism, for example.

While we sometimes get frustrated with what seems to be a fairly bonehead question, we always appreciate a doc that reads up on things and calls to learn more about it. A while back, I took a phone call from one of the docs at our lab at Notre Dame. He asked, "Do you guys do the D test for Staph aureus there?" I said, "We sure do. We started that at least a year ago." He said, "I love you!" I cracked up and said, "We love you, too, Dr. M!" It's always nice to hear a doc tell us that he really appreciates our work, because I think one of the things we all take pride in is doing our best to keep up with new tests and technology, and give them good information.

Looks like we'll get a little more snow tonight. Nothing major, at least that's what they're saying.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Water World

Keeping our water here

Legislation calls for approval of compact on Great Lakes basin.

Tribune Staff Writer

We've got a lot of water around here. The Great Lakes account for 18 percent of the world's supply of fresh water. That makes folks who are short of water -- parts of the West and, this year, parts of the South -- start looking longingly this way.

That led governors of eight states and the premiers of two Canadian provinces to agree to a Great Lakes Compact several years ago. They were the governors of Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York and the premiers of Ontario and Quebec. The compact calls for water from the Great Lakes basin to stay in the Great Lakes basin.

Why it is needed

"Maintaining lake levels is important for economic reasons, shipping and transportation, use of harbors, beaches and public access areas," said John Goss, executive director of the Indiana Wildlife Federation. He said that if Great Lakes water levels are reduced substantially, the temperature of the water will go up, causing environmental problems.

Keeping water here

Anybody from outside the Great Lakes basin already has to get permission from the governors of all eight states and premiers of both provinces to take water out of the Great Lakes basin. Once the compact is approved by the legislatures of all the states, it will go to Congress for its approval. After states approve their plans to implement the compact, people inside the basin will have go to their local state to get permission to use Great Lakes basin water. Each state will have its own implementation plan.

It calls for those inside the basin to have to apply for a permit if they want to take more than 5 million gallons of water a day out of the Great Lakes themselves, 1 million gallons a day out of the ground or out of other lakes and rivers, or 100,000 gallons a day out of some lakes and streams, including the St. Joseph River and its tributaries.

That's right--the good people of the upper Midwest and southeastern Canada band together and say, "You'll get our water when you pry it out of our cold dead fingers!" This is actually a pretty serious deal. I certainly realize that there are areas that are truly feeling the drought and are in dire straits. However, sending them water from the Great Lakes is not solving the problem. It will create numerous problems in our own area. For example, the nuclear plant where Ken works uses water from Lake Michigan for cooling, with the water returning right back to the lake. Drop the water level, raise the water temp, and you've got a multi-million dollar problem. The poor usage and mismanagement of resources in the Atlanta area have led to their current water woes. Georgia needs to implement some strict guidelines about water usage, and needs to enforce them.

They are learning what my parents taught me when I was a kid: our natural resources are limited, so don't squander them. That includes water. If you want a perfectly green lawn, especially in the south or west, it takes a lot of water. I think it's time we got away from the manicured lawns and started harmonizing with nature a little more. Use grasses and plants native to your area--they thrive under the conditions. Find the balance. And leave our water alone.


Movie day

We don't go to the theater very often, but today seemed like a good day to go to the movies. We went to see "The Mist." I was pleasantly surprised. It was genuinely creepy, and fairly good. The monsters in the mist were mostly arachnoid, and there was definitely an ick factor there. There was one scene where I had to put my feet up on the chair. There was also some creepy psychological stuff, about what a group of people will do in extreme circumstances. The wonderful Frances Sternhagen was in it, too.

Unfortunately, I'm now paying for my buttered popcorn/Nestle bits binge, and I'm not feeling real great. I think a little couch time might be in order. On our way to theater, this came on the radio, and I sang along. We were cracking up!


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Wallowing in mediocrity

I have a really hard time understanding why anyone would relish being average.

Isn't it part of our makeup to strive to be above average, or to at least strive to better ourselves, no matter what our station in life? I think of my Mom and Dad. Neither of them went to college, but they are voracious readers, and they remain curious about what is happening in the world. I am wary of anyone who limits their worldview to the familiar and comfortable, and I tend to distrust anyone who has a mind so small that they can't understand that there are many other points of view. It's a big world out there.

As Hamlet said, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."


Question: When do you use an apostrophe?

apostrophe: The apostrophe has three uses:

1) to form possessives of nouns

2) to show the omission of letters

3) to indicate certain plurals of lowercase letters.

Apostrophes are NOT used for possessive pronouns or for noun plurals, including acronyms.

How to make a noun possessive: To see if you need to make a possessive, turn the phrase around and make it an "of the..." phrase. For example:

the boy's hat = the hat of the boy; three days' journey = journey of three days

Once you've determined whether you need to make a possessive, follow these rules to create one.

 --add 's to the singular form of the word (even if it ends in -s): the owner's car, James's hat

 --add 's to the plural forms that do not end in -s: the children's game, the geese's honking

 --add ' to the end of plural nouns that end in -s: houses' roofs, three friends' letters

 --add 's to the end of compound words: my brother-in-law's money

 --add 's to the last noun to show joint possession of an object: Todd and Anne's apartment

Don't use apostrophes for possessive pronouns or for noun plurals. Apostrophes should not be used with possessive pronouns because possessive pronouns already show possession -- they don't need an apostrophe. His, her, its, my, yours, ours are all possessive pronouns.


This is one of my buddy Greg's (note the apostrophe there, denoting possession) pet peeves, and it has also become one of mine. Specifically, "it's" means "it is." It is (or I could write "it's") not interchangeable with the possessive "its," as in "a leopard cannot change its spots." If you substitute "it's" in that sentence, the expanded contraction would read, "a leopard cannot change it is spots." It makes no sense.

For God's sake, learn how to use the word and the punctuation mark!


My sister Sue said that her son (my nephew Steve, who is a Marine) is still in the medical barracks, but he's doing better. I had written earlier about how he was supposed to ship out, but he had a temp of almost 105°. His commanding officer took one look at him and sent him to the hospital. He had an abscess, and spent a week or so in the hospital, on antibiotics. He's doing well, but it will take 6-8 weeks for him to heal completely. Thank goodness they caught this before he shipped out.

Football and Christmas cards

We're watching the ND/Stanford game, and as Ken just said, "What a sucky game." It really is awful. I'm pleased with Tom Zbikowski's game--I think he can make it as a pro--but all in all, it's just ugly. However, we're all hopeful about next year. better next year, Irish, okay? Please? We'll be watching the Kansas/Missouri game at 8 o'clock. We've already talked about college football withdrawal in a couple of months. We will make it through. Somehow, someway.

While watching the game, I got started on our Christmas cards. I got all the return labels on the envelopes, as well as greetings written in about half of the cards. This might not seem like a big deal, but we usually send out about a hundred cards--have I mentioned that I have a huge family? We went to the post office today to send packages to the kids. While at the PO, I picked up some address labels, so I'll print them out this year instead of addressing all those envelopes by hand. I really do like writing out the envelopes, but my hand just doesn't want to cooperate anymore. Years of pipetting in the lab have taken their toll.

Oh, shame on you, Jim Harbaugh. Your QB, Pritchard, had a concussion, but you put him in anyway. Shame, shame...

Irish win--again, no big deal, but I want to look forward to next season. I'm hopeful.

By the way, Cousin Shane suggests "Blogopolis." I think I like that most of all! Another possibility is Blogtropolis.

"It's quite breathtaking, you should try it."

For a couple of weeks, we've been saying we need to watch the Austin Powers movies again, so we started last night. We watched the first one, and I made it halfway through the second one. I was cracking up. I can't recall where I saw the first movie, whether it was in the theater or on video, but I remember thinking, "Shane will love this." He came over and we watched it and we had so much fun! I think we went to see "Goldmember" in the theater, and I'm pretty sure we embarrassed our companions. I know that I snorted at one point. While I love the Dr. Evil clip I'll be putting up here, my favorite scene is when Austin gets the electric car stuck sideways in the hallway. It never fails to make me laugh.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Blogosphere

I hate that word. I wish we could come up with something a little cooler. Blogtown? Blogiverse? Or how about if we just call it the blogging community, without trying to come up with cutesy names?

Anyhoo, whatever you want to call it, I've had fun exploring it today. I've been reading a few here and there, and I read a few more today. There are some truly clever and funny people out there, and I am very impressed. Today I read things that made me laugh and I read things that made me think. I love to think and I love to laugh, and sometimes I do both at the same time, so it's been fun. Any politicos or religiosos (I think I just made that word up) that think the general public is an ignorant lot need to wake up and realize that we're not all Zippy the Pinhead.

Of course, I've also read a few that pretty much reinforce the Zippy theory.


Wow, we just got done watching the Arkansas/LSU game. Razorbacks knock off the #1 team in triple OT! I have no problem with either team, it was just fun to see such an exciting game, and how can you not cheer for the underdog? It wasn't quite as much fun as seeing Illinois knock off Ohio State when OSU was #1, but it was still fun to watch.

"A marshmallow world"

If you don't know that song, immediately buy "Christmas with the Rat Pack." Seriously. Go to Amazon and order it now! Well, okay, when you get around to it, but it's my favorite Christmas CD. I thought of that line this morning, because when I looked outside, the snow had piled up on all the trees and was so pretty! I'm glad I didn't have to work today, so I didn't have to drive in it, but the first snow is always kind of fun to see, and this one was a beauty. It's that thick wet snow that clings to everything. The sun is out, and things will probably start melting soon, but I got some good pictures early.

Finally, here's one of Sheeba. I call it "A Cat and his Penguin."


It's been a nice, quiet indoor day. We thought about going up to the casino for a little blackjack and dinner, but I'm enjoying the peace and quiet, and Ken was able to do a little AEP work and work on our budget while I fiddled around on the computer. I got Christmas music loaded onto the MP3 player (No, I don't start listening to it this early, but it's ready to go for playing at work in a couple of weeks. Pam, I seriously do not want to hear the Chipmunks' Christmas album!), I got file sharing up and running with the desktop in the basement, and I got printer sharing going so that we can print from upstairs. I got my insurance enrollment at work taken care of, got a letter written to Ken's mom and stepdad, and just got some general puttering done. It's great to have some extra time to do all those things that tend to get pushed aside for another day.

By the way, Black Friday shopping was never even a consideration. I don't think I've ever gone shopping on this day, and I never will. Most of my shopping takes place long before this, and most of it is done online. For me, shopping at the mall is the equivalent of waterboarding.



Thursday, November 22, 2007

Not too stuffed

Back home again, and we had a fine time! It was great to see everyone and get caught up on what's going on with each other. Everyone seems to be doing well, and it was a nice time. My great-nephew and great-niece made personalized placemats for each of us, and they passed them out before dinner. It was too cute! Wow, they're getting really big....

All the food was very good, and my macaroni and cheese turned out just fine. My Mom said, "Beth Anne, you got a good do on your macaroni and cheese!" (A "good do" is a high compliment from Mom. Yay! An endorsement from Mom!) I had a plateful, and finished that, and I was done. I had a tiny piece of cheesecake, and that was it for me. Everything was great, but I can only eat so much, and I see no point in making myself miserable. Ken was the same way. However, we brought home a few leftovers, including a piece of pie each. After dinner, we had the usual discussion of how to solve the country's problems. We had some good ideas, and we'll be forwarding them to our elected officials. (Ha! Not really.)

My one sister, Diana, is the assistant director of her county museum. She had a neat task a while back. At her museum, they have a few things that belonged to Ambrose Bierce, the writer (The Devil's Dictionary--good stuff!), who lived in the area at one point. During the Civil War, he was a mapmaker, and they have one of the maps that he made (beautiful work, too). The Field Museum in Chicago is doing an exhibit of historic maps, including ones by Lincoln, Da Vinci, and other notables. They wanted to borrow the Bierce map for their exhibit! So Di got to take the map up there. I asked if she had a briefcase attached to her wrist with a cuff, like the Blues Brothers, and she laughed and said no, it wasn't quite that exciting! What WAS exciting is that her and Tom got to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Field Museum, and see all the different work areas, including sewing, carpentry, etc. She said it was very cool and amazing. They also got to see some things that aren't on display--they display only 1% of the collection they have. Wow!

I remember once when I went to visit Di at the museum, and spent the afternoon there. She let me into their archives, and I got to look at old county records and stuff like that. The neatest thing I got to look at was a Civil War diary written by a Union soldier...I actually got to hold it in my hands and read it. I love that kind of stuff!

But I'm rambling. It was a fun day with my family--they're the best! Oh, and we are indeed getting our first measurable snow of the season. It was coming down pretty hard for a while there, but it seems to have stopped for the moment. I'd say we have two to three inches, and it's the thick fluffy kind. Very pretty, but I'm happy to be warm and toasty inside! Hope everyone had a great day.


I called my folks to make sure they made it home okay. They did, but agreed that the snow was coming down pretty hard for a while. They live about 45 minutes south of us, and said that they ran out of it not too far past where we live, and it was dry by the time they got to where they live! I'm glad they made it home safe and sound. While talking to Dad, he mentioned something we talked about after dinner. I can't remember how the subject came up, but someone (a non-family member) made the comment that New Orleans shouldn't be rebuilt, that as far as he was concerned, it was a matter of God wiping the whole city off the map (I guess because of their sinful ways). Well....

Let me tell you. New Orleans is my favorite city that I've visited. We went there for our honeymoon, and we went back a month prior to Katrina and met up with Kim and Steve. I don't know if New Orleans is Ken's favorite city--I think that might be San Francisco, and yes, he just confirmed that--but he loves it, too. When I heard that comment, it was sort of like a wall descended around me, and I very calmly said, "There are a lot of good people there." The person also mentioned San Francisco, and Ken said, "I used to live there, and believe me, there are a lot of good people there, too." We quickly moved on to other topics.

When I was talking to Dad a little bit ago, he brought this up. He said, "You know, I was thinking about that on the way home. Both you and Ken spoke up and said, 'There are a lot of good people there.' That was a good lesson for me." He went on to say that while it's easy to make a general statement like that, it's not that simple, and there are good and bad people everywhere. How can you judge an entire city based on your perceptions of what is good or bad about the city? How can you judge a city's population on how you feel about the city itself? I love my Dad for realizing that the comment that was made was not fair, and I love him for respecting us for speaking up about it. I would never presume to think that I could ever "teach" my Dad anything, but what a nice thing to hear him say, "I learned something today from what you said." Being open-minded knows no age. Thanks, Dad.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Have a great Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone has a great day tomorrow with family and friends. We're going to one of my sister's, and we're eating fairly early, so we'll be home tomorrow evening. Good thing, because it sounds like we could get some significant snow tomorrow afternoon and evening. It looks like we'll catch the edge of it, but if the wind shifts a little blowing over Lake Michigan, we could get 8" or so of lake effect snow. (I'll have to try to remember to explain that later, because it's a big deal around here.)

Wishing you a wonderful day from Nutwood Junction!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Today's word is...


A mondegreen is the mishearing (usually accidental) of a phrase in such a way that it acquires a new meaning.

The word "mondegreen" is itself a mondegreen. The American writer Sylvia Wright coined it in an essay "The Death of Lady Mondegreen", which was published in Harper's Magazine in November 1954. She wrote:

When I was a child, my mother used to read aloud to me from Percy's Reliques. One of my favorite poems began, as I remember:

Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,

Oh, where hae ye been?

They hae slain the Earl Amurray, [sic]

And Lady Mondegreen.

The actual fourth line is "And laid him on the green", from the anonymous 17th century ballad "The Bonny Earl O' Murray".

I just love this word! I saw it on fellow blogger Paul's blog, and finally looked it up. It seems that it is usually applied to misheard song lyrics, and I've been a fan of those for a long time. Several years ago, I found the best website for that, and I'm happy to see it's still going strong. One of my personal favorites was from my friend Jackie. I can't recall if it was her or her husband who used to sing "One less bell to less pig to fry." I had one myself, with Elvis's "Stuck On You." I thought he was singing "I am the kitchen, I am the hall..." Shane cracked up and said, "No, it's HIDE in the kitchen, HIDE in the hall!" How fun to find out that there is an actual word for such a thing! If you've got any good mondegreens, please share them. They always make me laugh!

A much better day at work today--hopefully this continues for my coworkers who have to work on Thanksgiving this year. My good day was a little spoiled by some frustrating computer stuff at the end of the day, but it's over and done with, and I will not think about it again tonight. I've got a load of laundry going so I don't have to worry about it tomorrow evening, because that's when I'll be putting together my macaroni and cheese for Thursday (I got Mom's recipe the other day--thanks, Mom!). I think I will successfully manage to avoid the grocery store tomorrow after work--I've already gotten everything I need. It's been busy enough in the past week or so, I can imagine what Wednesday will be like! I hope you all are ready for the holiday!

Oh, and here's an oddity for you:

Beijing - Doctors treating a Chinese woman who complained of feeling weak discovered she had only half a brain.

The woman, 39, from Wuhan city, has lived a normal life and came to hospital complaining of feeling weak and stiff.

Zhang Linhong, director of the hospital's neural rehabilitation department, said: "On the MRI scans we were surprised to see that she has grey matter only on the right side."

Hey...I think I know that woman!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Bad day, good evening

Another crummy day at work--I'm not sure why we're so busy right now. It seems that things are slowing down at doctors' offices and clinics, but the hospital cultures (we do work for dozens) are just crazy at the moment. Here's hoping that everyone gets healthy for the holiday and can be home with their family and friends!

Despite the crummy day, things started looking up as soon as I left work. I ran by the grocery store so I wouldn't have to go again this week, and as I was checking out, the clerk (she was a little older, and I hadn't seen her before) actually carded me! She asked me, "Do I need to card you?" I laughed and said it was up to her, but there was no need. She said, "I'd better card you." And she did! I told her she made my day. (By the way, Shane, Martin's is having a really good sale on butter...I know that you love it so!)

Then on the way home, I saw another Mustang coming my way in the opposite lane. It was black with silver stripes--mine is grey with black stripes. The guy flashed his headlights and waved as we passed. It's always fun to cross paths with a fellow Mustang enthusiast!

Now I'm home and cozy, Ken just got home, and I'm looking forward to a nice evening. Oh, the other night we finished our "Star Trek" DVD's, and there really wasn't much on last night, so we started our "Sopranos" DVD's. The very first episode, and I was lovin' it. Ken said, "So do you see why I was hooked from the very beginning?" YES! What a show. I didn't start watching until Ken and I started dating, so I missed probably the first three seasons--I'm really looking forward to watching all the early episodes. Already I'm getting to see some people who were killed off before I started watching, like Big Pussy and Tony's mom. Tony Soprano has to be one of the most iconic figures in the history of entertainment. Have I mentioned that I love this show?

(By the way, as I was tagging this post, I was getting ready to tag it with Big Pussy. I decided that would probably be a bad idea.)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Our special day [insert sappy music here]

I'm sorry to say that I had to work today, because today is our anniversary! Six years and counting. It was a rough day at work, but when I got home, Ken had some roses waiting for me, as well as a beautiful card, shrimp cocktail, some scratch-off lottery tickets (he knows me so well!) and an eggplant. (It's a long--and non-perverted--story. Let's just say it made me laugh!) He's cooking dinner for me tonight--T-bones and asparagus and salad, with fresh pineapple for dessert. Yum! Because it's our anniversary, I thought it would be a good time to include the "Mate Meme," which I saw on Traci's blog. And by the way, it was only a couple of weeks ago that I learned that a meme is what these survey thingamabobs are. Good to know! Here you go....

The Mate Meme

1. Who is your mate?

2. How long have you been together?
We've been married 6 years.

3. How long dated?
About three months, then we got engaged, then got married about four months after that.

4. How old is your mate?
45, same as me (but I'm two months older)

5. Who eats more?
We're probably about even. I can really pack it away when I want to!

6. Who said "I love you" first?
He did.

7. Who is taller?
Considering I'm not quite 5', he is! A foot taller, actually.

8. Who sings better?
Him, definitely. I'm awful. I'm "American Idol" audition awful!

9. Who is smarter?
All in all, I'd say we're fairly close. He's great with math/engineering, I'm a microbiologist, and we both love to read. I'm probably a tiny bit better with writing.

* see footnote

10. Whose temper is worse?
I've never seen him really mad, because we've never had a fight. I've never gotten truly mad at him, either, but in the past, my temper has been scary when I finally get to the point where I lose it. I don't think I have the energy for that anymore, thank goodness.

11. Who does the laundry?
I do, but he will help fold and put things away, and will sometimes do a load or two when I'm working the weekend.

12. Who does the dishes?
Usually we load most things into the dishwasher--anything that needs to be washed by hand, we pretty much share.

13. Who sleeps on the right side of the bed?
He does. Even when we stay in hotels, we maintain our bed positions.

14. Who pays the bills?
He does. He's the master financial planner!

15. Who has bigger feet?
He does.

16. Who has longer hair?

I do.

17. Who is better with the computer?
I'd say we're even.

18. Who mows the lawn?
He does.

19. Who cooks dinner?
I do, except on the weekends when I have to work. Then he usually does.

20. Who drives when you are together?
He does.

21. Who pays when you go out?

He does.

22. Who is most stubborn?
I have to say it's me. I had a really hard time admitting that.

23. Who is the first to admit when they are wrong?
I think we both will admit it, but I'm usually wrong more than he is.

24. Whose parents do you see the most?
Mine, because his Mom lives quite a ways away. My folks live an hour away.

25. Who kissed who first?
I kissed him first.

26. Who asked who out?
It was a mutual decision, after emailing each other for a month, but he was the one who suggested we meet for lunch.

27. Who proposed?
He did, on the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier in Chicago. Very cool! We saw Brian Setzer at House of Blues the next night. A very memorable weekend.

28. Who is more sensitive?
Me--I get teary-eyed at the drop of a hat.

29. Who has more friends?
I would say we're even.

30. Who has more siblings?
I do--two sisters, he has one brother.

31. Who wears the pants in the family?
He does, but we make decisions together. We're partners, and I couldn't be happier. He's the best thing that ever happened to me. [replay sappy music here]

*In Traci's answers, she wrote, "a guy I went on one date with but were still friends with told me that water seeks its own level." That is excellent. I know that's the case with means a lot to come home and talk about your day with someone who can understand what you're talking about and to have someone with whom you can discuss things. Ken is my favorite person to hang with. Here's to you, hubby!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Way to go, Slugger!

The big sports news is that Barry Bonds was indicted for steroid use. I'm glad. I didn't feel one bit excited about him breaking the home run record, and taking the record away from Hank Aaron, because I think everyone knows that Bonds has been on the juice. Dr. Will had some great comments (as always) about it, essentially saying that Bonds was his own worst enemy when it came to garnering support against his accusers, because of his extremely unlikable personality:

"And today was the day of reckoning for the loathsome, narcissistic and friendless Barry Bonds.

The whole sordid episode is a reminder that regardless of what you accomplish, in the end your fate is determined as much by your social skills as your actions. Of course, there are those whose pathology features strong interpersonal ability as a mask and manipulation for their depraved intent. But such psychos are actually the minority. In general, engaging other people in a warm, open and transparent manner is the ideal approach to having your achievements recognized and your success endure."

Beyond that, I have to wonder why athletes feel they need to use steroids. Because they can't compete against those who do? That's a pretty lame excuse, but that fault lies with the leagues and commissioners. If you really want to stop this, start regular testing and come down hard on them. Give 'em three chances, and if they test positive for a third time, terminate their contract immediately, with the remaining amount forfeited. If you hit them in their wallet, they will take notice. I love sports, because I love the competition of it all, and I love seeing people work so hard to be the best. The Olympics has always been the ultimate in competition for me, with the cream of the crop representing their countries. To have Marion Jones stand in front of reporters and admit to using steroids was so disillusioning for me. (I applaud her for admitting to it, but that certainly doesn't make it right.) The IOC was considering taking the medals away from her teammates in the relay because they won under false pretenses. I don't think that's fair, because her teammates may not have known what she was doing, and it's not right to punish an entire team because of one individual's short-comings.

What a shame that we've fostered an atmosphere of "win at any cost." Everyone loves to see their team, their favorite player, or their country win, but I think most of us want to see those wins happen from hard work, both physical and mental, and the sheer desire of our athletes to compete and to be the best. Certainly not because they've been messing up their bodies with growth hormones and other injectables.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A good (but short) day

You'd think I'd be used to it by now, but I'm always surprised by how quickly a day off goes by! Got stuff done today, and the most important thing was defrosting the freezer, because Ken is picking up our side of beef on Saturday. I loaded up everything into bins and sat them outside while the freezer defrosted. In a moment, I'll get the pork roast into the crockpot and get that cooking.

On my way to the grocery store this morning, I was listening to NPR. They played a snippet of a feature they're running this weekend. First, Stevie Nicks was saying that if Tom had asked her, she would have left Fleetwood Mac to join Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Tom's comment to that? "Yeah...she brought that up several times, and I finally had to say hey...we don't have girls in the band." Oh Tom, you always were one of my favorites! I believe that girls can rock, too (if you don't think so, Chrissie Hynde will kick your ass), but not Stevie Nicks! Sorry, I was never a fan. I saw Fleetwood Mac in Indy several years ago, and she was so out of it and sounded so awful, it was just embarrassing. I hear she's cleaned up since then, but I was just never a fan of the whole mystic, Wiccan, flowing garments, and platform boots thing. I also found her voice fairly grating. So it made me laugh when I heard Tom Petty say that. He's so laidback, and his attitude was kind of like, "Yeah, I know about that....not gonna happen." Instead of a classic like "Refugee" or "Americal Girl" or my personal favorite, "Breakdown," I found this. Here's to you, Tom!

A little later

I have "Oprah" on, and I have to say, I'm disgusted. They're helping this older couple who are packrats--they've been piling stuff up for over 30 years. I don't pretend to be the best housekeeper in the world, and our home is far from pristine, but these people were just nuts. Entire rooms piled high with bags and boxes of stuff! When they started cleaning it out, the mice were everywhere, and there was so much black mold that they had to leave the house for several weeks. They were lucky they were still able to live in the house--sometimes black mold is so pervasive they can't clean it out. They had to take a lot of the drywall out because it was so moldy.

I honestly can't imagine how anyone can get so out of control. Well, I guess I can. There has to be some mental illness going on there, because a normal person would realize how bad it was. We've all encountered some pretty God-awful messes in homes we've visited--dirty dishes piled high, junk everywhere, not a clutter-free spot to be seen--but this is just crazy. They may have cleaned up this couple's home, but I hope they go beyond the cleanup and make sure that they get some professional help, because it is not normal to live your life that way. They are calling them "compulsive hoarders." It makes me want to go clean our closets.

Nahhh...that's for another day.

Picture Day

Fellow blogger Traci has left comments here. She has a nice blog (if you click on her name in the comments you can get to it) and she put up some lovely fall pictures. It reminded me that I had some pictures I hadn't edited yet, so here are a few good ones. (Thanks for motivating me, Traci!)

Sometimes in the summer, a flock of grackles will descend on our place. They'll be up in the trees, all over the yard, flying around, and creating a huge racket. It always reminds me of "The Birds."

I've mentioned our pair of Red-Breasted Nuthatches. It was hard to get a picture of these little guys, because they don't sit still for long.

Finally, we had a gorgeous sunset one evening, and I loved the way the trees looked against the sky.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

To my readers

For those of you who are friends or family, or have found my blog through various legitimate means, I appreciate that you read it and I welcome your comments. However, some of the comments I have recently received are clearly from an individual who we have recently blocked from sending us emails based on the increasing level of anger towards us. It is edging close to harassment. Anyone can read my blog--it's a public one--but derogatory comments are not welcome. Please keep in mind that any email address can be traced back to the source. I have left the comments on here, for now, because I think they speak volumes. But as my friend RaQuel likes to say, "Any comment can die at any time." 

Thanksgiving comes a week early

Hey, AOL Journals has a new look (not all that different, though) and new features. The one that I think is the best is the Google search bar at the top. You can search within the blog or on the Web. Nice!

Criminy (or as Kim says, "Great Googly-Moogly!"), it was busy at work today.  I had intended to go to the grocery store after work, but I just wanted to head home. My brain was fried. I'm off tomorrow, so I'll make a quick trip then. Since it was so busy, one of the things I was grateful for today (among the usual stuff--living, healthy, happy, sane) was that Sarah did a few things for me, and that really took the pressure off. She was scheduled as a float, so that's what she was supposed to do, but it was very much appreciated! Thanks, Sarah!

Another thing I was grateful for was that Alissa brought me a dozen eggs. She didn't just buy me eggs and give them to me as a present, of course. They have 12 chickens at their place, and they're ALL laying now. She said they're getting a dozen eggs a day, so she's bringing them in for everyone in the department. They're the prettiest brown eggs I think I've ever seen! I can't wait to try them--she said that they're really good, with much higher nutrition, because they're basically free-range chickens. She said her son Jake loves the chickens, has given them all names--my favorite is Sweet Cheeks--and he will catch grasshoppers and feed them to the chickens. So not only are they free-range, they're hand-fed! Those are some lucky chickens. Even luckier than they know, because now that Jake has named them all, there's no way they're ever going to eat any of them. Thanks, Alissa! (And thanks Jake, for taking such good care of Sweet Cheeks, Mr. Fasty, and the rest of the gang!)

Finally, I'm grateful to my friend Jim for giving me a good laugh. He also gets the award for Phrase of the Day. He read something I had sent him, and his comment was, "Jeez...kinda reads like the Unabomber Manifesto." Thanks Jimi!



Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Good news doubled

I mentioned a while back that Ken and I quit smoking. It's been one year, three months, and nine days. Neither of us has picked up a cigarette since we quit, and I can honestly say that I have no urge whatsoever to actually pick up a cigarette ever again. We've been in casinos surrounded by smoke, and never had a craving to actually have one. Not only that, the financial savings, based on a pack a day for each of us for over a year, results in over two thousand dollars a year. That's right--two grand a year. That's one heck of a vacation right there.

One side effect that I really didn't care for was that I put on about 10 pounds. But I expected that, and based on how much better I felt, a ten pound weight gain was no big deal. When I had my yearly appointment this summer, my doctor was so happy that I'd quit smoking, She told me that she had read that weight gain after quitting smoking was temporary, and that it usually evens out. I didn't think too much more about it, but I weighed myself the other day--it had been quite a while since I'd done so--and I was very surprised to see that I'd lost five pounds, without doing anything! I haven't been exercising at all, other than my usual walk into work from the parking lot, or going up and down the basement stairs here at home. I was fully prepared to accept a slight weight gain with quitting smoking, so what a cool thing to see it reverse itself. Ken has also managed to keep the weight off, but he actually works out--I can't say I'm to that point yet, but I'll get there.

I know that smoking is an addiction, and I smoked for well over 20 years--Ken smoked even longer than that. But neither of us had to use patches or drugs or anything like that. Ken came up with a plan to cut down gradually and then quit--we both stuck to the plan, and we quit, and we have quit for good. I think the main thing is having real willpower and the balls to stick with it. If you don't make up your mind that you're done,  you'll never be done. My Mom was after me for years to quit, and she always told me, "Beth Anne, I know you. You're a strong person, and I know that you're strong enough to stop this." She was right, but it had to be my decision and my resolve to stop. Hearing that I had the beginnings of emphysema was my wake-up call. Anyone who ignores an obvious sign such as that is an idiot.

A serious discussion

This just tickles me.

Sheeba was very curious about where the other cats were hiding in the computer!

I liked this story (except for the ending):

'Aggressive' Gator Kills Burglary Suspect
MICCOSUKEE TRIBE INDIAN RESERVATION, Fla. (Nov. 13) - A man who jumped into a lake to flee police was killed by an alligator more than 9-feet long, officials said Tuesday. The man, whose name has not been released, was allegedly burglarizing a vehicle in the parking lot of the Miccosukee Resort and Convention Center on Thursday. He ran when police arrived at the scene, said Dexter Lehtinen, one of the tribe's police legal advisors.

Tribal police divers searched for the man that night, then again Friday morning and afternoon. During the third dive, the body was recovered. It bore alligator teeth marks on the upper torso. The Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department said the cause of death was an alligator attack.

The alligator believed to be responsible for the death has been killed. A coroner was scheduled to examine the 9-foot-3 reptile Wednesday for human hair or skin, said Brian Wood, owner of All American Gator Products, which is storing the gator in a cooler for now. It will then be incinerated or buried, he said.
The only part I didn't like was that they killed the gator! That just doesn't seem fair. The guy ran into a lake clearly marked as containing live gators (that was in the rest of the article) while fleeing the authorities after committing a crime. But they kill the gator? It's just not right. (The guy probably died a pretty gruesome death, though. And at least the gator got a last meal.)
It reminds me of the stories you hear all the time about people teasing animals at a zoo and then falling into the pit and getting mauled. Invariably, the animals are put down. Hey, they're just being animals. The stupid humans who harass them are the real problem there, so I think that if you're dumb enough to try to take on a polar bear, you deserve whatever you get.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

And another one gone, another one gone....

A while back, I wrote about the loss of the Stardust Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

The oldest surviving casino on the Strip is no more. Good-bye, New Frontier. You can see the implosion here. But here is a promo for the resort, to remember another time, another place, and another era. I just hope they saved the sign, because it's a classic. It's no wonder we love downtown Vegas so much more than the Strip--they embrace the past, and restore the historic casinos, rather than just wiping them off the face of the earth.

On a different note, I also recently wrote about the "superbug" that the media is getting all panicky about (and sending the public into a panic while they're at it). I took a phone call at work yesterday that actually made me laugh out loud. The lab at one of our local hospitals called, and they said that one of the floors had called them because a doctor had gotten a report that one of his patients had MRSA, and he wanted them to find out if it was "the super MRSA, or the regular MRSA." Yes, I laughed, and the hospital lab person laughed, too. I told her to let them know that it's all the same, there's no difference, but if they have any questions, just give us a call. Sure enough, maybe five minutes later, the phone rang, and it was a nurse on the floor, wanting to know more about MRSA. She told me that the doctor told her to find out if it was "regular MRSA, or is it the the super MRSA, the one that's killing all these people." Oh, shame on you, whichever doctor you were, for not knowing more about it and buying into the media frenzy!

The nurse and I had a nice chat, and I explained that MRSA is MRSA--the only difference is that it used to be restricted to hospital and institutional settings, but now it has become prevalent in the community, and that's called Community-Acquired MRSA. I said that there was no difference in how they should handle their isolation procedures. She said that the family was worried, and wondering if they need to sterilize their home, etc. I said I didn't know what the current recommendations were, so for that, they'd need to contact the State Board of Health, or our County Health Department. She seemed to be happy to have the information, and I hope she contacted the CHD. We have no problem with taking phone calls like that at the lab--part of our job is to talk to people and educate them about some of this stuff--but I am just appalled that this doctor didn't know more about it! There are so many misconceptions--again, thank you, Media--that my advice would be to take the time to visit and find out more about it. You'll get much better information there than what you will get from the media or the newspaper.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The password is...


The word "covet" most famously appears in the Ten Commandments, as the ninth and tenth. "You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor." (Exodus 20:17) It's interesting to read that virtually all faiths have some version of the ten commandments, including these two commandments (which in some religions are combined into one). The Jewish interpretation is that "One is forbidden to desire and plan how one may obtain that which God has given to another." The Protestant faith "Enjoins contentment with our own condition, and a charitable attitude toward our neighbor and all that is his, being thankful for his sake that he has whatever is beneficial to him, as we are for those things that benefit us." It also "Forbids discontent or envy, prohibits any grief over the betterment of our neighbor's estate, and all inordinate desires to obtain for ourselves, or scheming to wrest for our benefit, anything that is his." The Mormons believe that "Coveting, or envying something that belongs to another, is damaging to the soul. It can consume our thoughts and plague us with constant unhappiness and dissatisfaction. It often leads to other sins and to financial indebtedness." The Koran states " not covet what we bestowed upon any other people. Such are temporary ornaments of this life, whereby we put them to the test. What your Lord provides for you is far better, and everlasting."

I'm not sure why some people seem to obsess over what others have. Keeping up with the Joneses is a foolish endeavor. We've all known people who buy a huge house in the best part of town, and then don't have the money to furnish it, or go into so much debt that they dig themselves a deeper and deeper credit hole. On the flipside, it's been my experience that those that protest the hardest about not really wanting anything are those that deep down crave it the most. Whether it's things, a home, property, education, or lifestyle in general, the more I hear "I don't need that," the more I really hear "You have that and I want it." Or worse yet, "You have that and I deserve it." It's also been my experience that when I went to church every Sunday as a kid, there were plenty of people like that there (not all, of course, but I encountered quite a few), and as the anonymous quote goes, "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car." More power to you if you have found a church that you love. But please forgive me--isn't that what true Christians do?--if I find your behavior outside of church most decidedly un-Christian.

Perhaps a better way to put it would be from the Sermon on the Mount: " their fruits ye shall know them." (Matthew 7:20) What kind of fruit are YOU bearing?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A chili day

A very low-key day today, and it felt good to stay inside. It seemed like the perfect day to make a pot o' chili, so it's cooking right now. We're also trying to clean out the freezer in the basement, because we've got a side of beef hanging, and Ken will pick it up next weekend. He gets it from a guy he works with, and it's all natural, with no hormones or anything like that. Two years ago, we got a side and split it with my Mom and Dad. Last year, we got a quarter. Because it's additive-free, it's so good and so tender--it melts in your mouth like butter. Mom and Dad agree that it's some of the best beef they've had. We went through the roasts and steaks fairly quickly, and now we're eating the rest of the hamburger.

I know they talk about limiting your intake of red meat, but I also think it makes a difference as to how it was raised. A while back, when we were in California, we went to dinner with Kim and Steve at a place called McClintock's. (I can't remember who treated who, but I think they treated us.) The beef is grass-fed, and I definitely noticed a difference. I don't know if this beef is quite that good, but it's pretty tasty.

Veteran's Day

On the day in their honor, I'll write a bit about some of the veterans in my life. I have several, including some uncles that have passed away, but I'll write about three in particular.

First, my cousin Greg. Greg is a couple of months younger than me, and we were always close as kids. After high school, he joined the Marines, and spent several years with them (although, once a Marine, always a Marine, right?). He did a tour of duty in the Phillipines, and while he was there, they experienced a terrible earthquake. He spent some time recovering bodies from the rubble, and he said it was something he will never forget. He went to Iraq for the first Gulf War, and that was the first time I ever saw extensive coverage on the news (I was too young during the Viet Nam War coverage). I spent quite a few nights staying up and watching CNN, hoping and praying that he'd be okay. He came home safe and sound, but has since experienced some health problems due to the fumes he inhaled when the oil fields were set on fire. I remember him talking about Humvees. I think that was the first time they were used by the military. He said they were amazing, and could go up an incline over 45°. However, he also said that he had to sleep in one for a couple of weeks, and if he never sat in another one, he'd be happy. Thank you, Greg.

Next is my brother-in-law, Tom, who is married to my oldest sister, Diana. Tom was also a Marine, and did a tour of duty in Viet Nam. He never speaks much about it, but once, several years ago when I lived in Indianapolis, we got to talking on the phone. He told me a few things, and I can't begin to tell you what respect and admiration I have for Tom. Tom was the radio operator, and he told me how the radios at that time had a whip antenna that was about 20 feet high. They'd have to stop, and he'd put up the antenna...and obviously, something that high was the first target. Knock out the radio operator, isolate the group, and pick 'em off. Tom made it through, mind and body intact, and he has two wonderful daughters, my nieces Heather and Jennifer. He recently became a grandfather. Tom is a peach, and one of my favorite people ever. Thank you, Tom. Semper fi.

Finally, my Dad. Dad is a WWII veteran. He enlisted in the Army right after high school, and spent time in North Africa and Italy. In his family, he was one of four brothers who were in the service during WWII. It still pains him to think about how much his mother suffered with that burden, but they all came home. I remember seeing "Saving Private Ryan" with my Dad at the theater, and holding his hand during the beach scene. And as I've written before, my family went to the dedication of the WWII Memorial a few years ago, and it was a very special thing for us all to be there for my Dad, as well as my Mom, because the weekend a was a tribute to the Greatest Generation. When we were at the Holocaust Museum, one of the tour guides saw Dad's WWII veteran cap and started crying. She said, "I'm sorry, but whenever I see one of you...thank you." We took the Metro everywhere, and at one point, a guy who was with his little daughter--she was maybe five or six--stopped Dad. He said to his daughter, "Honey, here's one of the guys I was telling you about. What do you say?" The little girl looked up at my Dad, shook his hand, and said, "Thank you." The guy then shook Dad's hand and thanked him, too. I will never forget that. Thank you, Dad, for so much.

And thank you to everyone who has served, whether during peacetime or war. You are all very much appreciated.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thanks, Shane!

Something fun from Cousin Shane, for everyone who has ever had a cat.

And this is just plain cute. Awwww!

Fightin' Illini

Yeah, ND lost. Not a surprise, but they did show some signs of life.

But what's really fun is that Ken's alma mater, U of Illinois, just beat the number one team in the country, the number one DEFENSE in the country, Ohio State. That's right, Fightin' Illini beat the Buckeyes. What a great game, and we're celebrating here at Nutwood! Great game, and very exciting!


Getting ready for dinner--pork chops, my Mom's homemade apple sauce, and roasted asparagus--and watching AMC. Right now, it's the last hour or so of "Psycho," one of my all-time favorites. Arbogast just got it. Anthony Perkins is just so perfect as Norman. At 8 PM, it's "Cool Hand Luke." We saw the previews last night, and we realized that neither of us had seen the movie all the way through. Time for us to see the whole thing.

"What we got a failure to communicate."

Even later

Did I mention that University of Illinois is Ken's alma mater? Just watched the local news, and the big story was Illinois knocking off the #1 team--at their house, no less. The local paper has been lackadaisical in their Big Ten coverage when it comes to Illinois. Perhaps this will make them take notice.

"Cool Hand Luke" was definitely cool. Paul Newman in his prime? Wow. And Strother Martin and his classic lines (like the one above about a failure to communicate) are unforgettable. "You'll spend the night in...the box."