Friday, February 29, 2008

Greeeeen acres is the place to be....

Lord have mercy, what a crummy day at work. It was looking pretty good in the morning, but got progressively worse as the day wore on. I hope my coworkers who work this weekend don't have too bad a time of it, but it's sure not looking good for the weekend.

I was in a pretty foul mood when I got home, but Cousin Shane made my day. We haven't seen each other for a while, due mostly to work, so he decided to not wait any longer for a visit, and sent my Christmas present to me. I gave a little gasp of delight when I opened it--he got me a DVD of Mystery Science Theater 3000! When I lived in Indianapolis, he'd come down to visit, and one of the things we'd do is watch several episodes of MST3K. I remember times when we were just rolling on the floor with laughter! This has three movies on it, including my favorite MST3K take, "The Sidehackers," along with "shorts," usually movie newsreels from the '50's and '60's. Fun stuff, and I wrote to him that his present blew my foul mood right out of the water. Thanks, Cuz!

To put me in a better mood, I was planning on writing about something near and dear to my heart...Nutwood Junction! Not this journal, but the place. (For anyone new, that's what we call our little homestead.) This is prompted by Dr. Will's most recent entry, about being a native New Yorker and moving to Indiana. You can imagine what a culture shock that would be, and Dr. Will writes very eloquently about it. While he misses some things, he finds that the quieter pace is worth it (as long as he and his wife get to visit NYC once in a while).

I grew up in this area, and I was happy to leave small town life behind when I went off to college. After a few years, I ended up in Indianapolis, which is not huge, but still a good-sized city, with plenty to do and plenty going on. I spent 7 years there, and really enjoyed all the concerts I got to go to, and going out to eat or have drinks with my friends. I ended up moving back to this area, which is where my family still lives. I had a house in suburbia with a boyfriend, and after I left him (one of the best things I ever did for myself, by the way), my apartment was on the edge of town, overlooking a large pond. I was slowly but surely heading for the boondocks!

After Ken and I met and got married, we ended up here, at Nutwood. It's 11 acres in a rural area, part woods and part wetlands. It's not always easy--there's a lot of work to do, and there have been several times when I haven't been able to make it out of our driveway. But believe me, I wouldn't trade it for anything. We still enjoy our vacations and visits to large cities, including quick trips to Chicago and Dr. Will's hometown of New York City! It's always an exciting time, and there is so much to do and so much to see, but I'm always happy to return to my sanctuary.

The hustle and bustle of the city is always fun to experience, but living in the country has reminded me of what my parents taught me when I was growing up, about how to respect and appreciate the world around us. The peace and quiet of living in the country has given me a chance to reflect on what is important to me, and to find my own inner peace and quiet. When I'm out in the garden planting or harvesting--or more often, weeding!--or sitting on the deck reading, I sometimes just stop to listen to the sounds around me. There are often sounds of lawnmowers or chainsaws, but there are times when there's nothing but me and the voice of nature. A cardinal singing, a breeze rustling the leaves, the plop of a frog jumping into one of the gives me a deeper understanding of how connected we are to the earth, its creatures, and a higher power.

When we moved in at Nutwood, I remember telling my friend Jay that we were happy to find such a place, and wanted to be conscientious caretakers. We don't really own will still be here when we're gone, at least I hope so. But while we're here, we'll take good care of Nutwood and its inhabitants. It's the least we can do, because it certainly takes good care of us, body, mind, and soul.


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Thursday, February 28, 2008

One day closer to the weekend

As you can tell by the subject line, I'm off this weekend! I'm looking forward to it, too. Not only will it just be nice to relax, we have tickets for a comedy show Saturday evening, and before we go to that, we're going to a nice restaurant for dinner. It's probably the nicest restaurant in town, and we're going there courtesy of our contractor, who sent us a gift certificate at Christmas. Thanks, Dan!

I finished Duma Key! You're right, Lisa Jo, that was a VERY good one. Odd that I was recently writing about art, after our trip with the kids to the Dayton Art Institute, and this book was all about art! Hmm...perhaps I'm a little psychic? A touch of "the shining," as Stephen King would say? Or not. Anyhoo, I enjoyed the book a lot. Edgar and his friends are such likable characters, but then King has a knack for writing great characters--these are guys that you'd like to talk to, have a beer with, joke around with, and they are also brave when in desperate circumstances. I'm glad Ken is understanding and also loves to read, because we didn't eat dinner until about 8:30 last night, while I finished the book! I loved the book, and I'm always a little sad when I finish such a good one. We've probably got another year or so to wait for the next King book, but I'm sure I can find a book or two to keep me occupied! The next book for our book club (anyone can join!) is Sophie's Choice. I read this way back when I was in college, before the movie came out, and I'm looking forward to reading it again. It's a heartbreaker.

A while back, I wrote about the influenza outbreak. The CDC has now recommended that children from 6 months to 18 years of age receive the vaccine, which significantly expands the age range of previous recommendations. Studies have shown that the more kids who are immunized, the less the spread of the virus in the community. I had mentioned that my buddy Jim got it. Jim is not a little guy--he's probably 6'4" and over 200 pounds--and he's in very good health, but he was laid low by this bug. He was out for well over a week. If a big, healthy guy like Jim can become so ill due to influenza, think of what it could do to children, or to the elderly. The vaccine this past year didn't cover a strain that is going around, because the vaccine is made a year in advance. They do their best to predict which strains will be prevalent, but it's not 100%, which reinforces what I wrote about antigenic shift and drift. The vaccine will give you some protection against any strain, and may lessen the severity of the infection. I encourage everyone to get the flu vaccine for themselves and for their kids. We've all seen how devastating a flu outbreak can be in our workplaces and in our schools, and make no mistake...people DO die from influenza.

This has been a public service announcement. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

For anyone else who watches "American Idol," are you finding it kind of lame this year? Some of us were talking at work, and we're a little disappointed in what we've seen so far. There are definitely some good ones, but it seems like we're not seeing the caliber of talent we've seen in the past. I'm just not feeling engaged by any of them yet. Am I more interested in other things this year? Are they really not as good? Or am I sort of losing interest in "Idol"? I'm just not sure, but I think part of it is overexposure. I'll look forward to when it goes down to a couple of nights a week, because 3 nights a week is just too much for me.

Hope you're all staying warm and cozy. We got 2-3 more inches of snow last night, but I was able to get out of the driveway and get to work with no major problems. I think we're supposed to get a little more tonight, and this weekend? Rain! This is craziness!

Reading Duma Key almost bummed me out, at least as far as the weather goes. It's set on the Gulf Coast of Florida, and while I haven't been to the Gulf Coast for many years, we spend a week every year at our timeshare--which is right on the beach--on the Atlantic Coast. The way King described the sunsets and the warm breezes, the sound of the waves, and the rustle of palm fronds made me long for our little home-away-from-home. We're planning on going for a week in June, and I'm already getting excited about it! It's our week of pure relaxation. There's not a lot to do in New Smyrna Beach (and we kinda like that), so we just sit on the balcony and read, or take walks on the beach, or lay out in the sun for a little while and soak up the warmth. It's one of my favorite places to be. We're hoping to get a chance to see our friends Sven and Lisa this year--they live on the Gulf Coast, but we hope they can come and see us, or maybe we can meet halfway. They're a hoot. Sven (AKA Scott) sent Ken a picture last night and we just cracked up.

What a fisherman! Fry up that baby and some hush puppies, and you've got yourself a mini-fish fry--for one!

Here's a picture that might give you some idea of what it's like there...I love it.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

That didn't last long

Today, I'm going to go for a change of pace and talk about...politics!

Yes, I AM going to write about a couple of things, but I'm not all fired up at the moment, so it should be fairly low-key. Let's just hope I don't get on a roll....

First, there's talk radio host Bill Cunningham and his opening comments for a John McCain speech. I've never heard of the guy, but apparently he's influential in his little corner of the world, and has a show on Fox News (which I don't watch). I found his comments nothing more than posturing, and I tend not to pay attention to stuff like that, but I guess it came across as fairly offensive. (Obama's middle name is Hussein. This seems to be a big deal to some. So? There was a guy in my internship class named Hussein, and he was one of the kindest and sweetest people I've known.) Senator McCain showed his class and honor by apologizing for it, taking full responsibility for it, and assuring that it will not happen again. (Obama basically said, "Okay. We're cool," and that was the end of that.) And then what happened? Cunningham started attacking McCain for his apology! This was the guy whose rally he was just speaking at, and Cunningham turns around and starts badmouthing him. The guy's got balls, I'll give him that. But that's fitting, because he's a DICK.

On to the debate! We watched the whole thing, and it was pretty entertaining, but then I really like Brian Williams and Tim Russert. Was Russert dogpiling on Hillary? Yeah, probably. However, my opinion is that she brought it on herself with her strange and antagonistic behavior as of late. Everything stayed pretty civil, which was good, but I have to say that I found her tactics of speaking over people extremely irritating...because that is one of my pet peeves. I have a fairly quiet voice, and I find it so rude and irritating to be constantly interrupted. We all do it on occasion, myself included, but when it happens over and over, it drives me batty, and that's what she was doing last night. Grrrr! She just would not stop talking a few times, to the point where Brian Williams had to completely cut her off. I know that some probably saw her behavior as strong and aggressive, but I just saw it as rude. I also understand that she was trying to make up lost ground and throw a knockout punch in this debate, but I don't think she succeeded. Obama held his own, came across as calm and collected, and while there were no fireworks on either of their parts, I think his demeanor was a little more...presidential, shall we say?

So there you go! I think I did pretty good with keeping things civil, except for calling Cunningham a dick. But that was deserved, so I think I'm okay there.

Off to finish the Stephen King book! Bad things are happening right now on Duma Key....


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

No Spring for YOU!

I think there's a Spring Nazi somewhere laughing his head off.

I'd say we got about 6 inches of snow last night, with a couple more today, and a few more on the way tonight. The winds are really blowing right now, so we'll have some drifting. Ken had to take me to work this morning--they hadn't plowed our road yet--and he's out snow blowing the driveway right now. I've had just about enough of this nonsense, and I demand that it stop immediately!

Yeah, that'll work.

I'll just keep reminding myself that it is almost March, and while it's not unprecedented to have a heavy storm in March, it's rare around here. I'm hoping that once we get past this current snowy week, we'll be on our way to warmth.

I need to use up a half a loaf of bread and some milk, so tonight I'm going to make Creamed Dried Beef, or what my Dad calls "You-know-what on a Shingle." And he really does say "You-know-what"! Nah, he's been known to actually say the word, I think because he doesn't have much fondness for the dish, after eating a lot of it in the Army. Understandable. Every once in a while, I get a craving for it, and just have to have some. I'll make a nice big salad for us, too, so it's not like we're just eating bread with gravy on top. Although I ask you, who doesn't love biscuits and sausage gravy?!

Y'know, I read a comment on another blog recently that said they (the commenter) thought the blog was getting a little too political, and they were going to stop reading for a while. That made me think, because it's probably obvious that I'm quite excited about the current campaigns and very interested in what is going on. That's not going to change, but I promise to try not to get out of hand with what I write. This might surprise you all, but I have been known to be opinionated at times. <wink> I'll still have my opinions, and I'll still write about politics, but I'll do my best to not get too riled, okay? And if I have offended anyone with what I've written, that definitely wasn't my intention. Since I've been writing this journal, one thing I've come to realize is that everyone is entitled to their opinions, and people can write whatever they want on their blogs. I might not always agree with those opinions, but that doesn't mean I can or should fire back with my own. I believe that we can be engaged and interested in politics without being nasty or mean. Does that sound naive? I suppose so...but I also believe we all want what is best for our country and that we all love it. We may have differing opinions about what IS best, or how to go about it, but when it comes right down to it, our hearts are all in the same place. promise to you, the reader--do I sound like a politician yet?--is to keep it civil and keep it focused. That's not to say that I won't have moments of sarcasm--a leopard can't change her spots--but I'll do my best to play nice. Sound good? I think so.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Somebody stop me!

I have put the book down...for now. I suspect I'll be picking it up again soon. I keep thinking, "Okay, you finished that chapter, now is a good time to stop." And then I immediately start the next chapter. I've managed to squeeze in a couple hundred pages today, my head is swimming, my neck hurts, and my butt is numb. And it hurts so good! Ha!

Seriously, this is one heckuva read. (Duma Key, if you missed earlier entries.) I like Edgar more with every page, but my uneasiness also grows...I'm pretty sure something really really bad is going to happen. I hope not to Edgar. If you've read it, DON'T TELL ME! I seriously wish I could stay up all night and read.

Readin', recyclin', and roastin'

I am totally enjoying my day off, thanks! I'm actually getting some things done, so my lack of motivation didn't hold true for today. The third load of laundry is in the washer, I got the recycling out to the road, and the beef roast is cooking away in the crockpot. I still need to fill the bird feeders, but at the moment, I'm lost in Stephen King Land.

Specifically, his latest, Duma Key. Oh BOY, I am loving this. I like Edgar very much, and things are really getting...odd...for all involved. There have also been a couple of phrases that I loved so much, I marked them in the book (something I rarely do). First, this one, after Edgar sees an expression of "sweet delight" on someone's face, and would have liked to draw the expression: "I'm not sure we see the simplest emotions in our art, although we see them all around us, every day." I'm not sure why I liked that so much. Maybe because it's a reminder of the little things we see each day that can never be captured, whether in a drawing, a painting, or a photograph. We have to try to hold them in our minds and memories.

The other is this: "I guess it gets cold everywhere. I bet it even snows in hell, although I doubt if it sticks." Kind of a bleak sentiment, but with a touch of humor. Love it! That's especially apropos for today, because while it's supposed to get up to around 40° today and rain this afternoon--melting what little snow we have left on the ground--it is supposed to turn to snow tonight, and when the winter storm is all said and done tomorrow afternoon, they say we'll end up with 4-8 inches of the stuff. <sigh>

No Monday Blues here

I know for most people (including Ken), today is a return to the daily grind, but for me it's a much-needed day off. I got a couple of extra hours of sleep, not counting when I started nodding off during the movie last night. We were watching "Terminal," and I was enjoying it, but I just couldn't keep my eyes open. I told Ken he could finish watching it and I'd watch it later, but he said no, I never do that, and he'd wait and watch the rest of it with me. Aww, he's the best! We should be able to finish watching it tonight.

This is completely unrelated to anything, but it puzzled and amused me. In my spam folder yesterday, I had one with this subject line: Mr Wim van den Assem. ???? What the heck is that...or WHO the heck is that? I like to say it out loud, using the German pronunciation, so it sounds like Mr Vim fahn dain Ahssem. If I were ever to write a book, I swear I'd have character named Mr Wim van den Assem. It just makes me laugh!

More later!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hillary's HDSM?

Another good day at work, a sunny day, and I'm home with Hubby, feeling very relaxed, and very happy to have a day off tomorrow! Life is good!

We had a fun and interesting discussion at work today. We talked about Hillary's harangue. Jillian hadn't watched the news, but we had NPR on the radio, and she got to hear a couple of snippets of it. Jillian likes Clinton, but I think she was pretty disappointed in hearing the angry diatribe. We were all puzzled by how the gracious tone in Clinton's voice at the end of the debate this past Thursday--which she got kudos for--turned into the shrillness of yesterday's press conference. The profound change seems kind of unstable and weird to me.

At work, I mentioned reading Ellen Goodman's column in Saturday's paper. She wrote about how Obama is showing more of a feminine side (in his conciliatory attitude) than Hillary is able to, and that Obama may be benefiting more from the women's movement than is Clinton. I thought that was a really interesting perspective, and it made me think. We all had a good talk about how there really is a very fine line when it comes to women in powerful positions. If you are too strong, you come across as a bitch, but you can't risk being too weak, because then you won't be respected. Hillary gained voters when she showed a slightly vulnerable side, but how will this angry outburst play? I can't imagine that it will play well, because it really put me off, and apparently quite a few others. Pat's comment to her husband (who likes Hillary) was, "Oh, come on! She sounds like the teacher everyone hated when they were in 6th grade!" I said I thought this could be the death knell for Clinton.

They played the audio on NPR a few times in the morning, and Eugene (my coworker from Rwanda) said, "Oh, the fight continues." After hearing it for probably the third or fourth time, Eugene had the comment of the day. In his accented English (a sort of charming mix, with heavy French influences), he said, "This could be like the guy who did the...'AAHHHHHH!' What was his name?" We all cracked up, and I said, "You're right, Eugene! This could be Hillary's Howard Dean Scream Moment!" (Thus the subject line.)


I really don't know if it will play out that way, but her challenge to Obama to "Meet me in Ohio!" for a debate sounded ludicrous, considering that they just had a debate in Austin, and a debate in Ohio on the 26th has been scheduled for some time. Her speech in Rhode Island today was sarcastic, snarky, and mocking of not only Obama, but anyone who has been galvanized or inspired by his ideas, speeches, and detailed plans. Since when did challenging people to be more than they have been, and to be all that they can be, become something to ridicule? If you build it, they will come. If you raise the bar, they will respond. Nothing has ever been accomplished by lowering expectations, or believing the least of people. I have always believed, I still do, and I'm pretty sure that I always will, that if you expect the best of people and prove yourself to be a worthy example, you will also get THEIR best. I think I'll borrow a page from Hillary's "playbook" and say, "Shame on you, Hillary Clinton!"

And I'm sorry, but her angry rant struck me as nothing so much as planned theatrics...or maybe it was just a hissy fit.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A definition

I looked up the word "strident" in the dictionary, and look what I found!

Disclaimer: I have not visited and I do not endorse the web site provided at the end of the video.

Wow. I have to say I was rather offended by her scolding tone. "Shame on you, Barack Obama"? Seriously? What's next? Is she gonna make him cut a switch, take him out back behind the woodshed, and learn him a lesson?

Come on. Apparently these flyers have been out for at least several days now, and suddenly she is offended by them and ready to rumble. The whole thing smacks of theatrics to me.

sniff sniff sniff 

Do you smell that? It smells like desperation to me.

Battery recharged

Wow, I feel much better today! (Thanks everyone, for your encouraging comments. It helped a lot!) I felt like I slept really well last night, better than I have for the past few nights. I still wasn't thrilled about getting up this morning, and I felt really chilled, but once I got going I was okay. I did sort of dread going into work, because after the past few days, I was anticipating the worst. It turned out that we all had a really good day, the workload was lighter--quite a surprise, because Saturdays can be our worst day--and we got out of there at a decent time. And Indigo, I liked your suggestion about visualizing my countdown clock--I actually did that today, and guess what? It made me smile!

I haven't gotten to use my new can opener yet, darn it. I did look for a can in the recycling bin, but one wasn't readily available, and I didn't really want to dig too deep in there. I DO have my limits, believe it or not! Instead, I just played with it a bit, pressing down the lever once in a while. It's so quiet! I also demonstrated to Ken how you can remove the entire cutting assembly and put it in the dishwasher. He was fascinated, as I'm sure you can imagine! Ha!

A little political stuff, then I'm done (for today, at least!). Pat and I were talking a bit at work about the health care thing. She asked if Obama is the one who wants to fine people if they don't have insurance, and I said no, that's Clinton. She wants to mandate that everyone be required by law to have health insurance. Jillian felt that would be better than what we have now, but I disagree. I think it opens a big ol' can of worms, without saying exactly how the plan will be administered or enforced. (I was going to say "financed," also, but I'm assuming that Clinton has laid out how she will finance this.) To illustrate the point, in Indiana, we are required by law to have car insurance. After a quick check, I found out that 1 in 5 motorists does not have car insurance in Indiana. This is why the rest of us have to have uninsured/underinsured coverage on OUR policies. So 20% of the people do not care about that particular law and/or have found a way to circumvent it. Simply making a law does not mean that everyone is going to follow it. (Like I need to point this out?) I like the idea of really changing things, making health insurance more affordable, and holding doctors and hospitals and other providers accountable for their costs. I often see docs order duplicate cultures--two urine cultures on the same day, for example--which is unnecessary and a double charge to the patient and their insurance company. There is definitely room for improvement, and I say we make some actual changes rather than just allowing more money to be sucked into the healthcare black hole.

Just my opinion, as always!

I was going to write about getting our hi def satellite dish installed today, but Ken wrote a nice entry about his day today, including the installation of said dish. His entry made me smile, so you might want to take a look.

Since I got home at a decent time this afternoon, I think I'm going to have to read a bunch of Duma Key. Last evening, I passed my "tipping point" in the book--the spot where I go from being happily interested to totally sucked in. I was enjoying the first few chapters, I really like the main character (Edgar), and I love King's descriptions of the lushness of the Florida vegetation. But things are starting to get a little weird, and now I'm hooked. I know that some people (critics, for the most part, rather than us loyal readers) consider Stephen King a hack writer, but I say screw them. Yes, I said it! He's written some of the most likable characters, people you really sympathize with, and think, "I would like that person in real life." His tales never fail to draw me in, so I make no apologies whatsoever for loving Stephen King's books. He's been my favorite for years, and he's still my favorite. Off to hit the book!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Battery low

Criminy, I don't know what my deal is, but I just feel wiped! I'm not sick, and while I could stand to get more sleep, it's not like I'm staying up until two in the morning. I think it's just the recent stress at work. There's just a lot of work to do, and it's unnerving to feel like you just can't get it done. One of my coworkers has broken out in hives because of the stress, poor thing. I'm not sure if I can explain it well, but I'll try. I can usually handle a pretty high workload, and I can organize well, but if I get overtime, that means it's quite busy. That means a day of concentrating really hard, focusing all your energy on prioritizing your tasks, and our work isn't a matter of pushing a button and getting a result...we have to work through the appropriate way to handle a culture, we have to correlate all the results and make sure that the antibiotic susceptibility results make sense for the organism, we have to remember which clients want which antibiotics, all the while keeping in mind that we are dealing with patient care and it is our ethical duty to give them quality care. It all adds up to a bona fide brain drain.

Whew! I'm plum tuckered just thinking about it! Well, two more days, and then I have a day off. I hope I'll be a little more motivated than I was on my day off this week! And you might have noticed my little countdown clock to the left. Yahoooo!

So did everyone watch the debate last night? I'm thinking probably not. Some of us were talking about it at work, and my cousin (who also works there) said, "There was a debate last night?" Ha ha! It sounded like I was the only one there who watched it. Ken and I thought it was fairly even--no one made a major stumble, but no one scored any major points, either (which I guess makes Obama the winner, since he's the front runner). I'm also thinking that Clinton needs to drop the plagiarism junk, because she got booed for her "change you can xerox" comment. I don't think people are buying it. Speaking of xeroxing, we have printed out Obama's detailed plan from his web site, and I'll look over it when I have time. It's almost 60 pages, so I think the "all talk no substance" line doesn't really hold up.

The New York Times is catching plenty of flak for their McCain story. I'm afraid it's just too vague,and seems to be criticism without corroboration. Until they produce someone who actually saw something, or any kind of proof, it's a non-issue for me.

It looks like my new can opener is here, so I'm going to go check that out. I was planning on having leftovers tonight, so I don't have any cans to open, darn it! Hmm, maybe I can open the other end of a can from the recycling bin....

Have a great weekend, everyone! More tomorrow.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Great comments tonight!

Ziggy said: "I am not sure what you are referring to about this "pickle" that John McCain is in. Again I am behind in my current affairs. Perhaps there have been some rumours flying about a relationship in his past, but I am not sure. I think it is so sad when people start slinging mud and throwing around unproven accusations and pointing fingers. It just makes me want to say "let all those who are without sin cast the first stone". No doubt one would never get thrown. They really do need to concentrate on the job at hand and show how they can run your country. Everyone needs to work together. All of this petty stuff says more about the people saying it than it does about the person to whom the finger is being pointed. Only small, jealous, desperate people would stoop that low, so first one has to consider the source...which I see remains elusively anonymous. Small people and childish tactics."

Amen, Ziggy, especially your "elusively anonymous" remark, and the "childish tactics." Very well said.

Myra wrote: "When my FIL was home all he ever watched was infomercials, and he'd order every gadget imaginable, all in the name of making my job easier, as head cook and bottle washer. I have this "hot dog maker" thing. It has a basket (purple) for the weiners, and 4 steel rods on all four corners, that you wrap the bun around. When its turned on, the weiners steam, and the rods warm up the buns. It is unreal! This is the weirdest one, but we have a whole storage room of gadgets that I don't even know what they do! And they're not cheap!"

I cracked up over your elaborate hot dog cooker, Myra! When I was single and working evening shift, I would sometimes watch infomercials--they were always so insane and hilarious!

Lisa said: "i hate my can was not cheap and it still barely works. That steak toaster is cool......i also want to buy an ice tea maker sometime soon.
We are seeing brand new Clinton and Obama commercials here in Ohio since they want our votes. I have not seen one McCain ad."

I've ordered a West Bend can opener...I'll let you know how it works. It was kind of fun spending a night in Ohio and getting to see a political commercial or two. Our primary isn't until May 6th, so we have NO commercials airing here. It was neat to see a few political ads!

More tomorrow! I'm feeling pleasantly tired and looking forward to some quality snooze time. Everyone sleep tight tonight!

Gadget Heaven

Hmm, sounds like McCain is in a bit of a pickle. I'm very hesitant to totally believe these allegations of a "relationship" with a lobbyist, though, because it's all coming from anonymous sources, and I'm sure there are always people who have a bone to pick and/or an axe to grind. Until someone actually comes forward and claims to have witnessed something, I'm going to take it with a big ol' grain of salt. We have a thing called the right to confront your accuser, and if someone wants to just sit back and anonymously tell stories, I tend to not believe them. I'm also not a fan of people who make up stories, or twist things around to their own advantage, or delude themselves into believing that things happened a certain way...but that's just me. I've also read one of McCain's books, and my impression is that he's a decent guy.

Obama picked up more endorsements from trade unions today, and I hope to watch the debate tonight. I have a feeling the fur's going to fly! Clinton will be ready to fight, but Obama needs to keep his cool. Should be interesting!

To get away from politics for the moment--as much as I'm fascinated by it all, sometimes I need a break--and to the subject of this entry, does anyone else love kitchen gadgets? We have a small kitchen, so I can't have very many, but if we had a big kitchen, I'd probably have just about every kitchen doodad imaginable. (I just ordered a new can opener, and I'm quite excited about it.) I even love the non-electric ones, like cheese graters and silicone brushes, etc. I've also written several times here about the love I have for my meat mallet! I wish I had room for a toaster oven, but I already have several appliances in a cabinet downstairs, so I really don't have room for one. Anyhoo, I loves me my gadgets! Which brings me to this...I heard about it on Bob & Tom this morning:


Is that the coolest thing, or what?! Its official name is a SteakHouse Indoor Grill, made by Ariete, but it looks like a steak toaster to me. It looks like it has a little grill basket thing, and you put your steak in there, then load the basket into the steak toaster. Your steak is held vertically, and much of the fat drips down. You can also adjust the dial, just like a bread toaster, but instead of light or dark, you make it rare, medium, or well. What a great concept! However, at $220, I don't think we'll be getting a steak toaster any time soon. Drat it all.

Seeing the steak toaster gives me joy. Not just because it's so freakin' cool, but it tells me that if our world's scientists can come up with a steak toaster, they have the ability to do great things. Things like the development of alternative fuels, a cure for cancer, and maybe even a time machine. When I see the steak toaster, I don't just see a simple kitchen gadget designed to cook a single steak. I see hope for the world. <wink>


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I need a motivational speaker

Jeez, I'm finding it hard to get motivated today! I guess the past couple of days at work have sucked all the energy out of me, and as I mentioned, the weather has something to do with it, too. I've managed to get a few things done, but I feel generally lackadaisical.

I meant to cook a beef roast today, but I forgot to take it out of the freezer last night! (Ken and I both conked out on the couch and woke up around 12:30 AM. Then it was a matter of brushing teeth and crawling into bed.) And this is important: I forgot to write a note to myself to take a roast out of the freezer. Do you see why I have to make lists? I finally managed to decide what to make tonight. I'll go with a baked penne, and do some bread with roasted garlic, plus a nice salad. That'll work!

Is anyone else struggling with the winter blahs? Let's all sympathize with each other!

More breaking news on CNN! Wow, that's twice today. The Teamster's Union will be endorsing...Barack Obama. It seems like that's a pretty huge endorsement.

They had a story on here earlier about the "wordification" of Obama's name. It was actually pretty funny. All kinds of plays on words using his name. One of the most popular is Obamarama, but there's also Obamazon, an ardent female supporter, and Baracky-talkies, which are how campaign workers communicate. And of course, there's Barack Star, which is how many feel he is being treated. I don't know if this is on the list (it probably is), but how about Obamenon? It all seems a little silly, doesn't it? Who can come up with the most clever Obamicon? <grin> 

On a roll

That's right, Obama has won 10 in a row. In a parry to the increasing jabs about his "lack of experience," he had this to say:

"Hope is not blind optimism. It's as if the cynics are saying we need to season and stew him a little more and boil all the hope out of him," Barack Obama said after his victory in Wisconsin's Democratic primary Tuesday night.

Oh yeah, I should put in the disclaimer here.

Disclaimer: Nice things about Obama ahead

What a great line..."boil all the hope out of him." Ha! But the more important line is "hope is not blind optimism." I pondered that for a bit, and I believe I see the difference. To me, blind optimism is sitting back passively and expecting all the change to be done by others, and to come to you. Hope seems to me to be a little more involved. I can say "I hope" that things will be done, but realize that I may need to play a part in it, do something to make sure that whatever I'm hoping for actually happens.

His big win in Hawaii came as no surprise, but I was a bit surprised by his big win in Wisconsin, 58%-41%. Apparently he also did well among working class voters, which is pretty huge heading into Ohio and Pennsylvania. I also read that Clinton's negative ads lately really aren't sitting well with most people, so she could be in real trouble. Her campaign is saying that either or both Ohio and Texas are a must-win for her.

Oh my goodness, breaking news on CNN, from LaPorte, Indiana (which is not too far away from us). A 70-car pileup on the Indiana Toll Road. Oh, it looks awful. It's due to snowy conditions on the road. It's not that bad here at the moment, but we are supposed to be getting some snow today. I'm happy to be at home today!

This is around the time of year when the winter doldrums start setting in for me. We haven't had any huge storms lately, but it seems like almost every day we have a little bit of snow--an inch here, 3 inches there--and it all just wears me down. I want to yell, "Enough, already!" I just have to keep reminding myself that there's just a little over a week of February left, and as we head into March, we can expect to start seeing a bit of a warm up. It's! But spring still seems so far away.


Ahh, the pileup isn't as bad as first reported. First of all, it's on I-94, not the Toll Road, it involves 11 semis and 10-15 cars, and no serious injuries. There were white-out conditions at the time, and the road was slick. But thank goodness no one was seriously hurt!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Don't mess with Elvis

Yes, we watch "American Idol." (But we vote in our elections, too, so don't worry!) There are some great contestants this year--my favorites so far are the Australian guy who sang "Light My Fire," and the dreadlocked guy who sang "Daydream." Excellent!

But there were a couple of contestants that just made me want to go all Elvis on the TV. (Not really--I'd never harm you, Bigscreen! I love you, man!) In fact, these weenies tried to SING Elvis, and failed miserably. One attempted "Jailhouse Rock," and the other tried "Suspicious Minds." I told Ken that seeing those lame attempts only serve to show what a great performer Elvis was. I also said that tomorrow I'm going to have to play some Elvis to cleanse my palate of these horrid performances. I can forgive a bad performance, because not everyone can be excellent, but when the dork who sang "Jailhouse Rock" got all pouty and obnoxious, that was the last straw. Next!

We're watching "Jericho" at the moment. We liked it when we first started watching, then it got kind of lame, but they've come back big time. We read something about how they decided to get away from personal, romantic relationships, and refocus on life after a nuclear attack. Good choice, because it's taken a darker, more interesting turn. There's a new president (elected by who?), a new flag (chosen by who?), and the new "president" wants to write a new Constitution!


When I was driving home tonight, there was a story on NPR about GTD. It is an organizational system developed by a guy named David Allen, it stands for Getting Things Done, and apparently it's a very big thing right now. He's written a book, he does seminars, etc. After reading a bit about it, it does seem that it's fairly extensive, but what really struck me on the NPR story was that it talked about making lists. Here's what Wiki says about that:

Capture everything that is necessary to track, remember, or act on- in what Allen calls a bucket: a physical inbox, an email inbox, a tape recorder, a notebook, a PDA, or any combination of these. The idea here is to get everything out of one's head and into a collection device, ready for processing. All buckets should be emptied (processed) at least once per week.

Allen doesn't advocate any preferred collection method, leaving the choice to the individual. He only insists upon the importance of emptying the "buckets" regularly. Any storage space that is inspected regularly by the individual is acceptable.

I had to laugh, because I've been a list maker for years. As I write, I have my little notebook right by me, with my list of things to do tomorrow, my day off. How do I "empty my bucket?" I cross an item off my list when I've completed it. As I said, I'm sure there's much more to it, but I find it amusing when people come out with "systems" that consist of things like making lists. Doesn't everyone do that? Besides, instead of GTD by David Allen, I prefer TCB, like Elvis! <doing the Elvis "Hunh!"> Thank you. Thank you very much.

No results yet on today's primaries. The usual huggermugger is going on with little barbs and arrows flying around, the Clinton campaign is going negative, and I think it's obvious that things are heating up. Reader Ziggy left a great comment today about it all.

As for the Clinton - Obama campaigns, not much of a comment from me as I am sitting up north of the border looking down on all of this. It is good to see people get involved, have an opinion and be passionate about what they care about. It is good to see open debate on the issues. I just hope the momentum continues and everyone, regardless of age or political persuasion gets themselves out and exercises one of their most valuable democratic rights and votes. When more people vote for an American Idol than do an American President, others in the world take notice.

It IS great to see people involved, and I agree with Ziggy--I hope the momentum continues. And did you catch that last sentence? "When more people vote for an American Idol than do an American President, others in the world take notice." That's probably one of the best things I've read in some time, and it should serve as a wake up call to each and every one of us. This is such an important decision, and the apathy of American voters sends quite a message to the world, one that I don't think we want to be sending. Thanks, Ziggy.

Finally, adios, Fidel! I hope this results in more freedom for the Cuban people, and I hope it eventually leads to unrestricted travel to the island. I would LOVE to go there! We sailed past it on the cruise, and it looks gorgeous and lush, and I think it would be a very interesting place to visit. A little trivia: did you know that Desi Arnaz's grandfather was one of the original partners in the Bacardi Rum company? It's true!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Where did the weekend go?

Come back, little weekend, come back!

Man, that went by WAY too fast, and here we are at Monday. Today, I was the lucky one who got to do all the testing for Influenza, RSV, and Viral panels. I had over 50, but I actually did pretty well with organizing and multi-tasking, and was able to get out of there at a decent time. I just feel worn out, though, because you sit there doing all the processing, then you sit there and read all these slides at the microscope. You wouldn't think sitting could make you ache, but it does! After work, I ran over to Circuit City to buy some flash drives that were on sale. The kid who helped me said, "Wow, that's a good deal!" I said, "That's what I thought, too!" Of course, I couldn't get out of there with just that. I also got "Daughtry" (we liked him on American Idol, and have been meaning to get his CD for a while), "Rock n Roll Jesus," which is Kid Rock's new CD (thanks to Indigo, who wrote that the song "Amen"--which I love--is from this CD), and a DVD of "The Warriors" on sale. Does anyone else remember that movie? It has my favorite Eagles' song in it, "In the City."

Congratulations to fellow Hoosier and hometown boy Ryan Newman on winning the Daytona 500! They're talking to a bunch of his family members on the local news. We didn't watch the race, but how cool was it that Kurt Busch gave him a push?

Sen. Barack Obama said Monday that he doesn't think it's a big deal that he borrowed lines from his friend Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, although he probably should have given him credit.

Patrick said during his gubernatorial campaign a year and a half ago that words matter, like "I have a dream" and "all men are created equal." Obama used the same lines Saturday night in Wisconsin. Obama said that Patrick suggested he use the lines to respond to Hillary Rodham Clinton's suggestion that Obama is more of a talker than a doer.

Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson accused Obama of plagiarizing Patrick, and that's particularly troubling since Obama's appeal is based in large part on his rhetorical skills. "It raises questions about the premise of his candidacy," Wolfson told reporters in a conference call.

Obama, D-Ill., says that's going too far.

"Now hold on a second. Let's see - I've written two books, wrote most of my speeches," Obama told reporters at a news conference after touring a titanium plant. "I'm happy to give Deval credit, as I give credit to a lot people for spurring all kinds of ideas," he said. "But I think that it is fair to say that everything that we've been doing in generating excitement and the interest that people have in the election is based on the core belief in me that we need change in America."

Asked whether he wished he would have given him credit given the criticism he's facing, Obama responded: "I was on the stump, and he had suggested that we use these lines. I thought they were good lines. I'm sure I should have - didn't this time."

"I really don't think this is too big of a deal," he said. He said he's noticed Clinton using his phrases sometimes, like "it's time to turn the page" and "fired up, ready to go."

Senator Clinton...I really don't think you want to start calling Senator Obama a plagiarist. Apparently people at her speeches are chanting "Yes she can," which is just a tad reminiscent of the Obama crowds' chants of "Yes we can." I tend to like Obama's pronoun usage better--it had better be "we" instead of "he" or "she," if we really want to see a change. Obama had his friend's permission to use the phrases, so I don't believe that a plagiarism accusation is warranted. Best to back away from this one, Clinton campaign...I know you're in trouble, but it's a bad idea to start throwing around unwarranted charges such as the little plagiarism-that-wasn't.

Speaking of Obama, today I asked my supervisor what she thinks of him. She is from Chicago, and she is African-American, and she's one of the smartest people I know, so I was curious to see what she thinks. She said she was supporting Clinton until she saw her condescending behavior in a debate, and she started looking into Obama a little more. She said that people accuse him of having no substance, but when she found his web site, she said it's all laid out there in great detail. I said it's funny that she said that, because I saw an interview with him (Was it from "60 Minutes"? I think so.) where he said that when he started out, people said he was inspiring, but asked where the substance was. So he started giving details in his campaign speeches, and people started asking what happened to the inspiration! So he decided to put all the details on his web site and go back to getting people fired up. You can't win for losin', that's for sure! My supervisor said that her sister is a police sergeant in Chicago, and has met Obama and talked to people that see him walking around his neighborhood. I guess he's just like he comes across in interviews--calm, polite, funny, just a really decent, kind guy. That's always neat to hear. I got the impression that my supervisor is now a supporter. She said she thinks it's amazing to see how many people, especially young people, are getting involved, and if nothing else, this has served to get rid of some of the apathy in the country about politics. Agreed!

Oops, I guess I should have put up a disclaimer before I wrote that. "Warning: Nice comments about Barack Obama ahead." I'll be sure to use that next time!

I would like to address a comment from Ziggy. First of all, thanks for reading and commenting, Ziggy! Here's what you had to say:

Who is this Dr. Will person? I do not agree with him at all about the Dick Van Dyke Show. He tripped over the ottoman cause it is called humour. It makes people laugh. That is why they called it a comedy show. I prefer to think that I love shows like this cause they are fun and they make me laugh. I really can't see that there would be any hidden psychological meanings in any of it. Just pure entertainment and fun at face value. I could also add Lucy and Carol Burnett to this list. What fun those shows were. There is not nearly enough laughter in our livesthese days and I do not mean polite little "tee hees". I mean gut splitting belly laughter, laughing till there are tears in the eyes. What a gift.

Well, Ziggy, I definitely agree with you about classic comedy! You mentioned Lucy, and "I Love Lucy" remains my favorite show of all time. I still love watching it (I have all the episodes on DVD) and I still laugh until, as you put it, there are tears in my eyes! I can be having the worst day, but if I watch Lucy, she can still make me laugh. Again, like you said, what a gift!

As for Dr. Will, he wears many hats. You can always check out his web site (link is to the left) to learn more, but I'll just say here that he is a licensed and practicing psychologist, an ordained minister, an author, a corporate speaker, and here's a significant tidbit of information: he did standup comedy for many years! While he has plenty to say about real disorders and real problems, some of what he says in his analyses of classic TV shows in psychological terms can and should be taken to be a bit tongue in cheek. Things like Barney Fife probably suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or "Gilligan's Island" being a show about repressed rage over Gilligan's ineptitude. We can continue to enjoy classic sitcoms for the pure fun that they are, but it's kind of fun to hear an analysis of what disorders or anxieties the characters might have. I guess the concept of a goofy sitcom and a serious psychological evaluation of it just makes me laugh!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Speaking of art....

This time it's performance art. While I'm not a big fan of said art, Kimberley sent me a link to this video, and I just thought it was supercool and groovy. It's 5 minutes frozen in time, and the reactions of others are very interesting! What would YOU do if you were in this situation? I think I would just watch and see what happened. What do you think? Is this art, or is it an attempt to get publicity? Discuss amongst yourselves.


One book down, one to begin

I finished our latest book club venture, The Sheltering Sky. Wow, what a disturbing book. I loved it and thought it was excellent, but it was very disquieting. Next up is the latest Stephen King novel, Duma Key. Reader Lisa has already started it--no spoilers, Lisa! When you're done and I'm done, perhaps we'll discuss, but until then, let's keep it on the down-low.

For whatever reason, this past week I had a craving for taco salad, the cold kind. I like the hot kind, too, with melted cheese and all that good stuff, but sometimes I want the cold kind, with non-melted cheese, kidney beans, and Catalina dressing. Does anyone else eat this? I've seen recipes for it in various cookbooks, so it can't be too much of a local recipe!

This week, Dr. Will talked about one of my Top Five TV shows, "The Dick Van Dyke Show." I'll give you my take on it from a purely entertainment viewpoint, and then you can watch Dr. Will's psychological take on it. I love the show because there is SO much goofy humor in it. Dick Van Dyke was very much a physical comedian, but he had such a sweetness about him, too. I'm not sure why I'm speaking of him in the past tense--he's not dead. But you don't hear much about him lately, and his physical humor days are past him, I believe. Didn't you just love it when they would do a charity show, and everyone would get together at Rob and Laura's to rehearse? It was New York suburbia in the '60's, in the entertainment industry world. What fun stuff for a kid from the Midwest! As people in the entertainment industry, you'd expect a certain amount of sophistication, and while there was a little of that there, mostly they were just regular people with regular friends, and plenty of quirks. I still love watching the show when I happen to catch an episode, and it still makes me laugh. My favorite episode was the one where Laura's curiosity gets the better of her, and she opens a package--addressed to Rob--that contains an inflatable raft. It's a great show. And now, here's Dr. Will's wise words about the show, and what we can learn from it:


A very good morning to you all! It's 11:40 AM here, so I can still get away with saying "good morning."

So is everyone doing the Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend? The feeders are filled, the special treats are out, and despite the rainy weather, we've had a nice flurry of activity this morning. The wild turkeys even cooperated and made an appearance--I counted 45.

I'd like to wish my nephew Steve (the Marine) a very happy birthday today...wherever in the world he may be.

More later!


As I was counting birds this morning, I thought to myself, "No new ones...bummer." Last year, when I was doing this count, I saw a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker for the first time, so I guess I was hoping I'd see another new bird this year. A little later, I was looking at the finches on the thistle feeder, and noticed bright red spots on their heads. I thought, "Hey! Those aren't finches!" Well, cut of my legs and call me Shorty, if I didn't have a new bird sighting! They weren't even in my Indiana book--I had to get out the Audubon book. It seems that this is the southern tip of the winter habitat of my newest friend: the Common Redpoll. I saw two of them.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Outside looking in

Hey, we're back at Nutwood! As always, there's no place like home....

We drove down to the Dayton area last night, and spent this afternoon with Ken's kids (to protect their privacy, I'd rather not mention their names, but they're really great kids). Due to circumstances, it had been some time since we'd seen them, so it was great to talk and laugh with them again. We even made them laugh with our lame jokes! They were those eye-rolling kinds of laughs, but they still laughed. We were both so pleased to talk with both of them. We went to the Dayton Art Institute, which is small, but quite nice. They have a Monet, some Constables, a Warhol (he's one of my favorites), an Edward Hopper (another of my favorites) a de Kooning, a small Rothko, and many other fine objects. My stepdaughter's favorite part is the Asian room, and they really do have some beautiful objects and paintings. We all got a kick out of some of the modern art. The kids were puzzled as to how some of it is considered great art. I had no answer for them, because sometimes I wonder myself! I'm not one to find meaning in modern art. Some will look at it and see an indictment of our society, or man's inhumanity to man, or our isolation in the world. I'm more likely to look at it and say, "I don't know what it's supposed to mean, but I think the colors are nice." I just take it as something visual, and I either like the looks of it or I don't. That's why I like de Kooning--I see little to no meaning in it, but I like the visual impact. There was a dimensional work that was a large oval, with pictures of apples and other natural things, behind blobs of colored glass, alongside mirrored tiles, etc. It really had no meaning to me, but I thought it was striking, and I liked it very much. Some things can certainly make you feel a certain way. There was a painting of Pinocchio (I forget the artist), and it was sort of dark and disturbing...we all kind of shuddered when we looked at it. None of us cared for it, but it DID strike something visceral in all of us. Here's a de Kooning. I don't know why I like it, but I do.


So yeah, it was a fun afternoon! I'll start doing some research and finding other things in the Dayton area. Although the kids have been to the Wright-Patterson Air Force Museum before, we'll probably go there, but I do want to find some other things in the area. If any of you live around there, please pass along suggestions! Oh, and our friends from the cruise, Doug and Karen, also live in the area, so we're looking forward to arranging a visit with them. This was such a quick trip that we didn't have time to do that this weekend, but we liked them so much and enjoyed getting to know them, that we would love to get together in the coming months.

While we were in the hotel room last night, checking email, I got one from Indigo, the wonderful person who pens the beautifully-written Raven's Lament. If you're one of the few people here who haven't read her journal, you really should check it out. It can be painful to read sometimes, because she is quite adept at putting her pain into words. But through her journal, and her comments on both Ken's journal and mine, we've come to feel that she is a friend and a kindred spirit. She wanted to tell me that she was AOL's Magic Smoke (their journal about writing journals) Guest Editor this week. The guest editor is a fellow journaler who gives their picks for journals they like to read...and this little ol' journal was one that Indigo picked. You can read her entire Magic Smoke entry here.

Well...I was just flabbergasted, as my Mom would say! Indigo is such a talented writer that I'm very flattered that she even reads this, much less enjoys it! I really felt touched and honored, and it completely made my day. Thanks, Indy! One of the things she wrote was that "boredom doesn't exist in Beth's world." When I wrote to her to thank her, I told her that she probably has no idea what a compliment I find that to be. I remember that when the kids were little (and even now, actually), Ken would not let them say, "I'm bored." I don't know if he came up with this, but he would say, "Only boring people are bored." That word was pretty much banned in our home, unless we were talking about boring a hole, or wood-boring wasps or bees (and those subjects don't come up often). As I wrote to Indy, I've just never understood how anyone can be bored, when there is just so much to learn and do and read and's a vast world, with millennia worth of collected wisdom, and I don't believe I have it in me to be bored. Even when I'm sitting out on the deck, not physically doing a thing, I'm watching the birds, listening to the sounds around me, just enjoying the moment. That's not boring, that's LIFE, baby!


                                                           Night Windows, Edward Hopper

On our drive home tonight, after it got dark, I did one of my favorite things to do: I looked into the lighted windows of the houses we passed. Before you start calling me a Peeping Beth, remember that we're cruising by at 60-70 mph, so there's not a lot of time to see much of anything. Some time ago, I was talking to my Mom and mentioned that I do that. She said, "I do the same thing! And so did Bertha Jean!" (That was one of my Mom's sisters, Cousin Shane's Mom. It seems that it runs in the family.) No, I've never seen anything's merely a very brief glimpse of other people's lives. A lighted window, a wall hanging, a bit of curtain, a shelf with bottles sitting on it, a light fixture suspended above a kitchen table, an easy chair, a flickering TV. It's rare that I see an actual person, and then it's usually just the back of a head, or people in profile sitting at a table. Sometimes it's just a shadow.

It makes me wonder about what their home and their life is like. Is it a cozy home? Is it a happy home? Is it a newer home, or one that is a hundred years old? Are these people just starting out, or are they retired? Are they struggling to make ends meet, or are they doing pretty well? When they're sitting at the table, are they having coffee and talking, or are they playing board games? Or are they arguing? Some people draw their blinds and you can't see anything. Do they have a dark secret, or do they just not like to look out into the dark? Others have windows with no blinds or concealing curtains--that's how our front window is. Does that say something about us? Since I grew up in this area, some of the homes we pass used to belong to people I went to school with. Do their families still live there? If so, are their parents still alive? What are their lives like now? These people whose homes I look into for a split second...are they happy?

No...I don't think I'll ever get bored.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A quick trip

We're off soon for a quick out-of-town trip. We'll be back tomorrow night. I'm not sure if we'll take the laptop and hope for high speed, so just wanted to say I'll be back on her tomorrow night for sure! I'm looking forward to getting some reading time in while on the road, at least until it gets dark. I guess I should mention that Ken will be driving, not me!

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ain't nothing but a love thang

Hey, I hope everyone is having a lovely Valentine's Day! The big winner at our house was the birds--Ken bought them two new feeders! (The squirrels finally destroyed the one we'd had for a while.) He got me a beautiful card, a red rose (despite his recent entry about certified roses--but like he said, it was just one), and some candy hearts (a little joke for us, based on a Bob & Tom Show piece called "Candy Heart Wisdom). It was all very sweet, and I'm very happy with my Valentine, every single day!

We're having a little bit of a special dinner tonight. A couple of T-bones, a couple of potatoes the size of Nerfballs (okay, maybe not quite THAT big), and some blue cheese dressing for our salads. Oh, and a 2003 Cabernet. Blue cheese dressing is one of our treats for ourselves--even when I get the "light" kind, it still has a lot more fat than the dressings we usually eat. Jillian and I were talking today about how much we love our blue cheese dressing, and when you get it at a restaurant, it's not the light kind...full fat, baby! And oh man, is it ever good. That's why it's a rare treat for us, and I'm looking forward to having some tonight!

Work was a tad bit better today--only a half an hour of overtime instead of an hour and a half. See how sneaky they are? You work yourself into a whimpering little ball o' goo, and then when you don't work quite as hard, you think, "Hey, that wasn't so bad!" It's psychological torture, I tell you! Nah, today was a good day, and even though I was there a little longer than normal, I didn't feel quite as stressed as I have the past few days. It really was kind of a relief.

I got an email from my sister, and she said that yep, Steve was in Beirut and then Rwanda. She said we have ships everywhere in the world, within striking or helping distance of all locations, and we probably won't really know where Steve is at for much of the time. His wife has a MySpace page where she posts pictures of Hunter, so hopefully Steve is able to check it once in a while. <sigh>

Perhaps more later, but right now I need to finish filling out the termination forms to turn into my manager. Let's get this ball rollin'!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tonight's menu

A while back, pork tenderloin medallions were on sale, so tonight I'm making Pork Tenderloin Diane. I got to use my meat mallet again. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy using my meat mallet? After browning them, you deglaze the pan and make a sauce with Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and then add some Dijon mustard. I've made it once before, and we both liked it. I'm also making some wild rice, and for a veggie, peas.

Hey, I'm hungry.


Yep, it was good, and I'm as full as a tick. I'm getting pleasantly tired, and looking forward to a good night's sleep!

Ken and I are bummed--I heard today that "Vegas" has been canceled. It's one of our favorites! Several years ago, we also loved another Friday night show, "Third Watch." It got canceled, too. Seems that if we love a Friday night show, it's pretty much the death knell for it. But "Vegas"? Aww, man!

And later

We had a really neat moment at work today. I think we were talking about where Felicia's dad (a doctor) goes in Africa to assist in medical care. Her dad has gone to Tanzania in the past, but he has now gone to Uganda. One of our coworkers, Eugene, is from Rwanda. I pulled up a map of Africa on my computer, and zeroed in on Rwanda. (By the way, Eugene lost many family members in the genocide in Rwanda...but he is one of the kindest and best men I have ever met, and I admire him so much.) When I pulled up the map, I asked him what area he was from. He pointed out where he was born, where his wife is from, where his mother lives, then told us about how he drove his motorcycle all around the country (he said it's about the size of Maryland). From the map, it seemed that it was very mountainous, and I asked him about that--he said that it IS mountainous in the western part, but in the eastern part, it's more like lowlands. There is one active volcano in the north. It was pretty cool, because several of us were gathered around my computer as Eugene pointed out to us certain towns and cities, and then showed us the route he took when he took a road trip on his motorcycle. Working with people like Eugene (he was a student doing his internship a couple of years ago, and I liked him even then, as I worked with him in his training) makes me realize that we are very fortunate here. It was a really great moment when we were all looking at the map of Eugene's country, and he was telling us about it.

Oh...I'm done. I'm beyond tired. Sleep tight!

What next? A plague of locusts?

Flu season has hit here, and hit hard. It was delayed quite a bit, but it has descended with a vengeance. My pal Jim has been out for several days, and actually had to go to the ER, because he said he was starting to get scared. He spiked a temp of over 103°, which is extremely high for an adult. He got some IV fluids at the hospital, and when his fever started going down, they sent him home. He seems to be on the mend now, but he was deathly ill for a while there. I'm glad you're okay, Jimi!

We're also feeling it at work. We do a Direct Fluorescent Antibody test for Influenza, and in the fall and early winter, we averaged no more than 10 per day. We're up to over 60 most days now, and we're scrambling to rearrange things to distribute the work a little better. 60 DFA's are just more than one person can do in a reasonable shift. It reminds me of a few years ago when we had a really bad flu outbreak, and we were all working 10-hour days. And if we weren't already short-staffed and overworked enough, I got a letter today saying that I've been summoned for jury duty. Couldn't they have waited a couple of months, when I'm not working, to randomly choose me? Oh, the irony of it all....There is a spot for deferment based on "public necessity," and since I will have no work commitment in 2 months, I believe I will give it a try based on the flu outbreak. It also says that I'm in the jury pool as of today, but I didn't get the questionnaire until today!

I hope folks got their flu shots, because even if you aren't at risk for it, it can help stop the transmission of it. The young, elderly, and people with respiratory problems are at particular risk, and you could help keep them from getting the flu by getting a shot yourself. It's not too late to get a shot, but it's getting close. I don't know if my buddy got a flu shot, but I have heard rumors that there is a strain going around out there that was not included in the shot. There's not much you can do about that, but it does protect against the most prevalent strains.

Please bear with me while I write just a little about viruses, okay? You may ask yourself, "Self, why do I have to get a shot every year? If I have the flu once, won't I build up immunity to it?" Well, that particular strain. The thing about viruses is that they mutate like hell. There is always an antigenic drift, in which there is a slight change in the genetic makeup, but it can be enough to cause you to get sick all over again, although the severity of the infection can be less. Then there's an antigenic SHIFT, in which the virus changes significantly, and can infect different species, be transmitted differently, etc. An antigenic shift is what could cause a pandemic flu. I.e., it's essentially a completely new strain of virus, one to which no one has any real acquired immunity. So why get a flu shot if there's a strain going around that has had an antigenic shift? It may have enough genetic similarities that you will have some antibodies that can knock it back a bit. Send it reeling, if not exactly give it a knockout blow. It could be enough to save your life, and it could save the lives of loved ones...or a complete stranger, for that matter!

Think about the common cold. We've all had colds, over and over again. Why do we keep getting them, and why can't they develop a vaccine? There are so many strains of Rhinovirus (the virus that causes colds) that they can't get them all into one shot. And even if they did, viruses mutate so easily that the shot would be obsolete before they could even distribute it! Okay, that's today's lesson...class dismissed!

Wait, don't rush out--I'm not done! I have other things to write about! While I'm on the topic of work, I have something positive to write about. I mentioned that one of my coworkers didn't say anything to me about my resignation. Jillian told me today that on Monday, this person was cool about it, and said something to the effect of, "Good for her." So while she might not have said anything about it to me, I was happy to hear that she DID have something nice to say. My buddy Greg was really nice, too...he had a sad face on, and said, " you HAVE to?" I thought that was very sweet, and I was really touched.

As for Roger Clemens testifying before a Congressional committee...I don't have much to say at the moment. Someone is lying. I find it all extremely sordid, and it's time ALL sports cracked down on this and put an end to it.

And as for politics, Obama had another sweep yesterday. Clinton adopted a congratulatory tone, which she quickly abandoned,and vowed that she is not done. Which is true--there are more primaries coming up. But her shuffling of campaign managers makes me think that she's getting the idea that she IS in a spot o' trouble.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"Your honor, my client is an idiot!"

That's one of the Bob & Tom Show's catchphrases, and references those who represent themselves in court. The latest to attempt that is the ex-Mrs. Paul McCartney, Heather Mills. Not only does she have no talent, she's also greedy, hungry for fame, and apparently a dumbass to boot. She's going after one of the most beloved performers in musical history, she's trying to get her money-grubbing fingers into his pockets, and she expects that everyone will sympathize with HER. Have you had one of those exes where you think, "God, I wish I'd never met him." I bet Paul is thinking exactly that right now. One of the big sticking points in the settlement is apparently that she refuses to agree to STOP TALKING about the marriage and about Paul. Instead of going out with grace, she wants to completely trash the guy and attempt to make everyone believe that he's an awful person.

Because she is representing herself, the possibility exists that she could cross-examine Sir Paul. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in that courtroom! What she doesn't seem to understand in her infinite wisdom is that the harder she tries to portray Paul as a monster, the worse she makes herself look. She comes across as a gold-digging, vindictive bitch, and really, Heather, that's never attractive. Part of her brilliant courtroom strategy today was to show this "clever" little video that she put together, to illustrate how being married to Paul ruined her life. Hey, Einstein, you married a BEATLE, for God's sake...did you think there would ever be a day in your life when reporters weren't after you? What planet are you living on?

See...isn't that just so witty and clever? I especially like how she added music and everything. Has she no concept of how incredibly foolish she seems with these kinds of cutesy tactics? You're in a court of law, you silly woman, and there is no room for cutesy. Ugh. Hop off into the sunset and as you grow older, I'm sure you'll look back on your 15 minutes of fame with great fondness. But your 15 minutes are up. Next!

Well, my plan was to run by the store for a few things after work tonight, but the snow was quite a bit heavier than expected. It was pretty slow going for a while, and since there was nothing urgent I needed to get, I decided to head home, since it was still snowing fairly hard. I hope it lets up soon, because I don't want Ken to have to snow blow the driveway when he gets home.

Since I was off yesterday, I didn't get to hear the reaction to my retirement of some of my other coworkers that didn't work the weekend. Everyone was so nice...they said they'd really miss me, but they were also really happy for me. Except for one person. She wasn't mean or anything, but she didn't say a word about it to me--no congratulations, nothing. I understand that she really wants to retire, but isn't quite to that point yet, but what a shame that she couldn't bring herself to say something. I really couldn't even get mad about it...I just found it kind of sad. Someone even said something about how they were envious, wished it were them, etc., but they went on to say, "Good for you." Well, I've got a couple of months to go, so maybe she'll manage to choke out a "good luck" or something. Yeah...kinda sad.

Just waiting for the Potomac Primary results to start coming in! The polls don't close until 7 and 8 PM, so I don't expect anything real soon. Obama is expected to win them all, and Clinton has already moved on to Texas.