Sunday, December 30, 2007

The current best reason to have caller ID in NH

We live in New Hampshire: the first primary state. Yes, Iowa has their caucuses before we have our primary, but that just means we get to share the attention with them.

Over the last several weeks, we have gotten more and more phone calls from various and sundry political campaigns and survey organizations. We pretty much don't answer the telephone any more. We have a great phone system in our house. Not only does it have caller ID, but it has a voice announcement of the ID. So, we can be sitting in the living room watching television when the phone rings. We merely pause whatever we're watching (even live TV, since we have TiVo), and listen to the ID of who is calling. If we don't recognize the name we return to our 'regularly scheduled programming'.

This afternoon, we have gotten three calls in less than two hours. The first two were announced as "number available", which means there is no name associated with the numbers. The last one was "private caller". The first two got me to peak at the display and then walk away chuckling. The last one was a complete no-brainer. None of our friends block caller ID.

We still have a little over a week until the primary. I wonder how many more calls we're going to get. Maybe I should start a pool?

Enjoying a small vacation

I'm on day two of a mini five day break from work. My office is closed both Monday and Tuesday, and I decided to take Wednesday off (since I was one of the few who worked after Christmas last week).

Dropping my class for this semester bummed me out, but I think it helped relax me somewhat. Yesterday, we ran a few errands. While we were out, I splurged on some holiday-related crafting supplies since there were some sales going on. We were home for less than half an hour, then my husband and I went out to see "Alien verses Predator: Requieum" When we tried to see it Christmas night, it was sold out. This time there were less than thirty people in the theater by the time the film started. It was a pretty good flick, for what it intended to be.

Today, I caught up with some bill paying (slightly depressing), and played around at my craft table (painting some suggestion boxes for my church, and toying with designs for next year's holiday cards). I'm about to go back to bed for a lazy mid-morning nap. Later, I need to run a few errands.

Our son is going to Vermont for the day with a friend to break in the snowboard he got for Christmas. He's never been boarding before, so this should be interesting. We do, conveniently, already own a set of crutches. (hee hee)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Riding the knife's edge

It's been a while since I've really vented here. Since last summer, I've tried to stay away from pure ranting. So, my apologies, in advance, to the Power of Positive Thinking Princess (if she happens to check in).

For the last couple of months, I have been trying to lead a huge project at work which involves replacing an organically homegrown, undocumented, critical application server with a commercially supported appliance. Lots of things that 'just work' on the homegrown system are proving to be problematic on the new system. It wouldn't be so bad if I was leading an actual team who were accountable for the success of this transition. As it stands, my 'team members' seem to view any effort that they put forth on this project as (more or less) helping me out. They come to meetings when they feel like it. They address their assigned tasks when it's convenient. Our upper management (two levels up from me) began calling these meetings in July when I was making no progress on 'my project'.

The eight other people who were 'invited' to these meetings seem to feel that the meetings are there for me to report MY progress. Sometimes, someone will volunteer to help me with a task. Sometimes, they'll actually deliver on their offer. Tasks that obviously can only be accomplished by someone, other than me, are never delivered in a timely fashion. And, our management (who attend these meetings) never call these folks on the carpet for their lack of contribution.

There are a ton of issues getting our applications to work through the new appliance. I do not understand how most of them were configured to work through the old, homegrown, server. The folks who administer that server never documented what they did to get the stuff working. And, now, they don't seem real anxious to assist in getting the stuff to work through the new appliance.

When, and if, this project ever goes live, these folks will no longer have to support a MAJOR application server that impacts everyone in our VERY large organization. You'd think that they'd be more than forthcoming in order to get rid of this albatross!

Speaking of albatrosses, once we cut over to the new appliance, I'll be the sole support for the new appliance. Someone else on my team went to the same training that I did. HOWEVER, the woman has only been out of college for a little over a year and is relatively incapable of troubleshooting the appliance if an application doesn't work through it. So, while the homegrown server is antiquated, there's a team of about 3 or 4 guys who, more-or-less, can troubleshoot an issue if push came to shove, since most of them are experienced server administrators.

So, folks, in a nutshell: I'm EXTREMELY stressed right now.

That said, I had registered for a class that starts in a few days. Tonight was the last night that I had to pay for the class before my registration would have been canceled. As much as I really wanted to take the class, I feel like I've been riding the knife's edge the last few months. As 'my project' gets closer and closer to going into production, I could not envision taking on the additional stress of a rigorous class right now. So, instead of paying for the class, I logged onto the registration system and canceled my registration for the upcoming term. I'm bummed, but I don't feel like I had any other choice. (And, crap, I already bought the really expensive text book!)

Afterwards, I decided to surf a few of the local hospitals' job sites. The Fates must have felt my pain! The first site I hit had a job ad for an Information Security Engineer position just 25 minutes from my house. So, of course, I applied.

Wish my luck! (Man, wouldn't that turn my frown WAY upside down?!?!?!)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

What does this say about us?

On Christmas night, my husband and I decided to go out to see the new "Alien verses Predator" flick. Unfortunately, for us, we waited until just before the movie started. The theater parking lot was FULL. We waited in line for about five minutes. When we got to the front we were informed that the 7:30 show was sold out.

OK. We were part of the problem, but what does this say about our society? It's Christmas night. There's nothing open ... except for the movie theaters. So, of course their packed!

Are we compelled to go out and about? Can we not sit at home and merely enjoy the company of our families, for just one night a year?

I was fully prepared to turn around and go home. My husband suggested that we see one of the other flicks that hadn't (yet) sold out. I vetoed that in favor of finally watching our family's twisted holiday classic: "The Ref"

Now THAT'S family bonding.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Ordinary miracles

I have attended a Unitarian Universalist church for about six years now. Their focus is on community and spirituality, and not dogma. This proved to be the best spiritual home for an agnostic looking to bring community and spirituality to her child.

That said, I have a lot of anti-Christian baggage. Mind you, I have nothing against Christian beliefs. At the core, the teachings are very akin to how I think the world should work. However, traditional organized Christian institutions rub me like sand paper, particularly evangelical churches.

I have attended several Christmas and Easter-themed services at my church over the years. Our services have a tendency to deal with these holidays with a broad brush. This evening's Christmas Eve ceremony was no different. Tonight the them was what I'll refer to as 'ordinary miracles'. The point being that we are all called on to make today the first day of a new, better, world. We are all usually too caught up in our own lives to hear the angels calling to us. For many UU's these 'angels' are metaphorical.

The message boils down to this: "Experience the world. Look for opportunities to see love and miracles. Spread the word, literally or through your own actions, that love and understanding are ordinary miracles we can all experience and create."

When I came home, I read a story on Yahoo News about an ordinary miracle. A soldier adopted an Iraqi child with cerebral palsy. This one really pulls at your heart strings. Combine this story with the story of the war dog adopted by a fallen Marine's family and you can really begin to appreciate the love that ordinary people are capable of.

Do I have issues with our presence in Iraq? YUP. Do I think we need to change course? YUP. Do I think that a horrible situation has given ordinary people the opportunity to display extraordinary courage and love for their fellow man? YUP.

Every day, hundreds of horrible things happen in Iraq. We all need to continue to pressure our government to find a way out for us, and hopefully for the Iraqi people. However, I think we all need to soak up these stories of ordinary miracles to remind us of how good humans can be. I think we certainly get enough reminders on a daily basis of the negative side of humanity. If people in such horrific conditions can find the strength and where-with-all to perform compassionate acts, maybe there is hope for the human race after all.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Heroine of the highways

Muriel Gladwin of Hereford, England, taught herself to drive at the age of 12. Eighty two years later, Muriel has driven an estimated 600,000 miles and hasn't gotten a single ticket. At the age of 94, she has decided to give up her keys and let others drive her where she needs to go.

As most of us know, as we age our vision and reflexes begin to diminish. Time and again, I have encountered older drivers on the highway going under the speed limit, impeding the flow of traffic. Sometimes they are aware enough of their differing operating principles to at least ride in the right hand lane of the highway, and to try to avoid rush hour traffic.

My husband told me a story about fifteen years ago that is probably an exceptional situation, but still makes one wonder 'how old is too old to drive?'? He was coming off a major highway onto a pretty long exit ramp. Coming the wrong way down the exit ramp was a quite venerable woman in a very large older vehicle. The woman was going about fifteen miles and hour and could barely see about the steering wheel. My husband honked her horn several times and then pulled to one side, not knowing quite how to handle the situation. Fortunately, a police car quickly pulled up behind the wrong-way driver with lights flashing and pulled her over. My husband assumed that he got the driver turned around in the proper direction. He also hoped that he gave her a 'must appear' ticket so that a judge could discuss her driving future.

As much as driving represents freedom, it is a dangerous privilege that should only be granted to those capable of comporting themselves in a safe and serious manner on the roads. When I am no longer sharp enough to react quickly to the changing situations one encounters on the highways, I hope I have Muriel Gladwin's sense to know when it's time to retire from behind the wheel.

For more information on safe driving in your Golden Years check out AARP's driver safety program, which used to go by the name "55 Alive".

Sunday, December 16, 2007

This week's heroine(s): Miss Navajo

This weekend, I watched the documentary film, Miss Navajo on PBS's Independent Lense. The film follows a young Native American woman, Crystal Frazier, as she prepares to compete in the Miss Navajo Nation contest.

The first time the title was awarded was in 1952 at the Navajo Nation Fair. Initially, the crown was awarded to the most popular contestant among fair attendees. Over the years, the contest evolved. The winner represents the Navajo people to the rest of the world, acting as a kind of ambassador of good will. Contestants must demonstrate skill in traditional Navajo ways, including fluency in the Navajo language. This particular talent has become a difficult hurdle for many, since most Navajo families now speak English at home and English has been the dominant language in the public schools attended by the Navajo.

Some of the other skills that contestants must demonstrate include rug weaving, fry bread making, and sheep butchering. This last bit is very grueling, for the contestant as well as the animal. Contestants are questioned on their knowledge of Navajo culture and history by a panel, typically in the Navajo language.

The winner of this pageant exemplifies a beauty of cultural spirit. Since Native cultures and traditions are threatened by modernization and more than a century's worth of subversive intentional assimilation, I applaud the intent of this contest. Wouldn't it be fantastic if other pageants encouraged contestants to embody certain spiritual, cultural, or intellectual ideals? While many Miss America contestants pay lip service to social ideals, how many actually do anything to further those ideals in more than just a mock fashion?

So, Hooray for Miss Navajo, and all the runners up who try to live up to the spirit of the contest.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Snow wuss: the day after

I left work just before 7:30 p.m. last night. The roads were frightening, and my insane/stupid fellow drivers just made it more so. With at least an inch of snow covering the road in most places, a prudent driver would keep their speed down and give themselves a huge buffer zone around their vehicle.

My top speed hit about 40, on a portion of the road where I occasionally saw pavement interspersed with white stuff. Mostly, I was going about 25. I made sure to keep at least six car lengths between myself and the rare driver in front of me. If I miraculously found myself going faster than someone else on the highway, I made sure that we had at least twenty or so feet between us when I passed them. This must epitomize my "snow wuss" mentality.

I encountered dozens of drivers who were going over 40 (some over 50). Folks who thought it was fine to get as close as two car lengths behind me. And, folks who passed me with less than five feet of space between me and them.

Lesson learned. The next time there's a threat of snow, I am not leaving my house. People are supreme jerks.

On the bright side, it took me just over an hour and a half to get home. My poor coworkers (with similar distance commutes) who left at 1:15 didn't see their houses for four and a half hours.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The snow wuss

This morning, I considered taking a mental health day. I haven't been sleeping very well and I've been under a lot of stress regarding my 'big project'. But, I have this silly work ethic thing, so I came in.

I planned on leaving around 2pm, because I had an appointment after work and I had heard that we were supposed to get some snow this afternoon. Then, at 12:30, the word went out that we were closing at 2pm because of the coming storm. I managed to leave at 1:15, but almost immediately regretted it. It took me twenty minutes to get out of the parking garage. It then took me another twenty to resign myself to the fact that it would take me at least another hour to get to the actual road. I spent another twenty minutes getting to a place where I could pull into one of our parking lots.

Many of my coworkers never bothered trying to leave. They knew how horrible it could be trying to get anywhere when Boston declared a snow emergency during the workday. Most of those with reasonable sense started leaving around 4pm. It's after 5pm, and I'm still sitting here in the office.

The problem is: my back. I can take about 60 minutes in the car before my back starts to seize up on me. Current estimates for highway traffic from my location to the NH state line are about 120 minutes (a 30 minute trip during non-rush hour, a 50 minute trip during 'normal' rush hour). Plus, it'd probably take me at least 20 minutes to get to the highway right now.

I typically take alternate routes anyway, which normally costs me about 30 minutes during rush hour. If the multiplier is the same for the alternate routes as the highways, it's probably a 75-90 minute trip on the alternate roads ... if they are safe and passable.

Once I hit the state line, it's usually another 20 minutes to my house. I'm guessing that it's 35-45 minutes from the state line to my house from the traffic reports I am reading for the highway conditions at the state line.

So, optimistically, if I leave right now and take the alternate route, it's at least 110 minutes. (Assuming the back roads are in fair condition.) For the highway route, it's probably about 160 minutes.

Therefore, I sit here and wait. My back is already stressed and spasming slightly. No need to rush into a situation that I can't dive out of easily (very few places to pull over to and take a break on either route).

I think less than 1% of our staff are still in the building right now. Minorities rule!?!?!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Is it warm in here, or is it just me?

Oh, ok. It IS just me.

It really is amazing that more violent crimes aren't committed by women. From puberty until menopause, PMS can make a woman virtually homicidal. Then, with menopause, you have different inspirations for losing your cool (total pun intended). Once this phase is over with, I wonder what else is in store for me physically.

Is it wrong to want to turn the AC on in December (especially when its freezing outside)?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bah humbug?

I have finished my holiday shopping. Hooray! I haven't dealt with the holiday cards yet, though I keep meaning to. (Remember, I wanted to hand make a bunch of them... fool that I am).

Our tree isn't up and isn't even on my radar to go up. Since I am the driving force for such things in our house, it may not go up. I really can't be bothered this year. If the boys want to put it up, they are welcome to it. I have different priorities this year ... like surviving through the first week in January when my big work project launches.

I did listen to some holiday music today while I baked cookies for a function my son was going to this afternoon. And, I am looking forward to some holiday video traditions that we have at our house: the original "Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer" and Denis Leary's "The Ref". We may also watch "Home Alone 3" and "The Santa Clause".

If someone finds my holiday spirit, could you mail it to me, maybe C.O.D.?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Heroine for the season ... if you like champagne

While I do enjoy a glass or two of bubbly, several months ago I was quite taken with the story of Nicole-Barbe Ponsardin (1777-1866), who later became Madame Clicquot (upon her marriage to Fran├žois Clicquot, son of a prominent French businessman). Upon the death of her husband she took over his company and focused all her attention on improving their production of champagne. Prior to her influence, the beverage was often cloudy and not so highly regarded as it is today. The brand Veuve (french for widow) Clicquot is often associated with royalty.

So, as you celebrate this holiday season, raise your glass of bubbly in honor of Nicole-Barbe Ponsardin, aka Madame Clicquot for the sparkling goodness she gave to the world during a time when most women had little direct influence on the affairs of the world.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Delayed stress, but I won't look a gifthorse in the mouth

My big project at work was scheduled to go into production next Saturday (the 15th). But, of course, several gotchas came up at the 11th hour. So, in our team meeting yesterday I proposed, and everyone accepted, that we delay our launch until the first Saturday in January. I still have a boatload to do (hence the reason for the delay), however, I now feel that I may be able to address most of the issues that have come up before we launch. I'm sure that our user population will still find issues that we haven't found in testing when we finally do launch. However, I couldn't go forward when there were known issues staring us in the face.

One thing that we did agree to that should be interesting: Any known issues that we have when we launch will be documented on an internal Wiki server. So, basically, our response to unresolved issues will be: "Yeah, we know about it. We'll fix it when we can. Get over it." So, as long as we 'advertise' that we know there are problems, we should be fine, right? I guess it is the nature of technology. Nothing's perfect. But, if we admit that we know about it, maybe the user community will get that warm fuzzy feeling that we care and plan on addressing the issue at our earliest convenience.

All things being equal, I was SEVERELY stressed this week, and my back is revolting in ways that it hasn't done in many months. Fortunately, I have a massage scheduled for today. Hope it helps!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The "duh" of physical therapy

I'm having a pretty stressful time at work right now. The huge project I am in charge of is about to be cut over, and all 3000+ staff will be forced to use it. No pressure not to F it up, or anything. Today, a mere week before launch, a major gotcha came to light. I plan on recommending that we delay launch for another three weeks while we address it appropriately, and not slam together some half-baked response that will merely cause more issues. (Foolish of me, I know.)

This evening I had a physical therapy appointment. My PT, who I've been working with for over a year, postulated that stress could be a contributing factor in the myriad muscular pains I suffer from. I nearly laughed myself off the table. Then I sarcastically tapped my head and said, "Hmmmm.... Stress might be a factor in the multitudes of seemingly unrelated pains throughout my body? (pause) Wow! (pause) I NEVER considered that before!" He and I have a great relationship, so we had a good time with the whole thing.

Did you know that oranges are often times orange?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Getting too old for concerts?

My husband picked up tickets for the Evanescence concert this evening. While I like the band well enough, I have a tough time enjoying a mid-week night out. I typically rise at 5 a.m. So staying out past 10 p.m. is a bit tiresome. On top of that basic math, I do have chronic insomnia, and the last couple of days have been pretty brutal on that front.

The concert was pretty good, though we left before the end by mutual agreement. My back was bothering me a lot, along with being exhausted. The food at the arena was crap. And the music was a wee bit loud (fortunately, I did have ear plugs).

Looking around at the crowd, I was more than a bit amused. A lot of the crowd were Goths. Most of the younger girls who weren't Goths were wearing their pants tight and virtually falling off their butts, which looked unflattering even on the most well proportioned of them. Then there was a whole cadre of girls wearing outlandishly short skirts with obscenely high heels or boots.

Boy do I sound like an old fuddy duddy.

We may go to another concert in March. This one appeals to old people like me: Van Hanlen. Maybe their show will be over by 10. After all, they're old like us.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Book list meme

Thanks Barbie2be for yet another horrible meme that I couldn't resist. It's a lot of work unless you really like the stuff of the bait, which I do: Books!

Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you've read. Italicize the ones you want to read. Don't alter the ones that you aren't interested in.

  1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)

  2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

  3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee).

  4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)

  5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)

  6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)

  7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)

  8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)

  9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)

  10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)

  11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)

  12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)

  13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)

  14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)

  15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)

  16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Rowling)

  17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)

  18. The Stand (Stephen King)

  19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)

  20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)

  21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)

  22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)

  23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

  24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)

  25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)

  26. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)

  27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)

  28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)

  29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)

  30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)

  31. Dune (Frank Herbert)

  32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)

  33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)

  34. 1984 (Orwell)

  35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)

  36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)

  37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)

  38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)

  39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)

  40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)

  41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)

  42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)

  43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)

  44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)

  45. Bible

  46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)

  47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)

  48. Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt)

  49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)

  50. She's Come Undone (Wally Lamb)

  51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)

  52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)

  53. Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card)

  54. Great Expectations (Dickens)

  55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)

  56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)

  57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)

  58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)

  59. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)

  60. The Time Traveller's Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)

  61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

  62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)

  63. War and Peace (Tolsoy)

  64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)

  65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)

  66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

  67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)

  68. Catch 22 - Heller

  69. Les Miserables (Hugo)

  70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

  71. Bridget Jones's Diary (Fielding)

  72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)

  73. Shogun (James Clavell)

  74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)

  75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)

  76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)

  77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)

  78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)

  79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)

  80. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)

  81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)

  82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)

  83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)

  84. Wizard's First Rule (Terry Goodkind)

  85. Emma (Jane Austen)

  86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)

  87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)

  88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)

  89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)

  90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)

  91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)

  92. Lord of the Flies (Golding) -

  93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)

  94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)

  95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)

  96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)

  97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)

  98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)

  99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)

  100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Monday, December 03, 2007

There's nothing like a snow day make me really hate snow.

The last few days have been increasingly painful for me, back-wise. Since I had heard that we were due for an overnight snow storm (and I hadn't gotten my snow tires on my car yet), I figured that I would probably call in 'unwell' today. Sadly, I knew that I had a boatload of crap to get done this week, so I really couldn't afford to blow an entire day off.

I should have. I REALLY should have.

My home office is not as ergonomically friendly as my work office. The longer I sit at my home desk, the more I regret it. I probably worked at least 75% of the day. And, what do I have to show for it? Well, I did accomplish some of what I needed to today. However, my body is in twice as much pain as it was twenty four hours ago.

Since I was going to be home, I kind of got it in my head that there were some much-neglected home tasks that I might try to accomplish today. Now, of course, I'm pissed at myself for not getting to those either.

Maybe I'll call in sick tomorrow, and mean it.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

(Primary) Politics = Ridiculous (Doh!)

As most of you know, I live in NH. We traditionally hold the first primaries in the country for Presidential elections. Politicians favor us with an inordinate amount of attention, relative to the size of our population (41st according to Infoplease), since our primaries influence the rest of the primary elections.

This week, the Democratic Party ruled that all Michigan forfeited of its delegates by moving the date of its primary ahead of the official February 5th start date of the primary season. New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina have traditionally held early primaries/caucuses, and were thereby exempt from the wrath of the Party.

Look, I (somewhat) enjoy all the attention that the candidates pay to NH. I like that they visit my small (by populuation standards) us a great deal in the months leading up to the primaries. Though I do wish they'd stop calling my house. However, this 'race to be first' has gotten out of hand.

All state-residency-loyalty aside, here's how I see it. Wyoming is actually the least populated in the country. Let's let them hold their primaries/caucuses on January 2nd. Let's make everyone else hold theirs at least one week out after that. Currently, Wyoming waits until May to hold a convention to determine their selections. If they would like to continue to do that, perhaps they could offer to sell their slot!

Any state that would like to take on Wyoming's slot, could bid for the privilege. Wyoming is not a wealthy state. Imagine the benefit to them to selling off their preeminent position in the primaries. As the least populated state in the union, they could garner some financial benefit to their position (once every four years) by auctioning off their preeminent primary slot every fourth year in (say) October.

What do you think?

I promise to do a weekly hero post tomorrow. This one was just too annoying to pass off today.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

All quiet on the blogsphere front

Now that NaBloPoMo is over, many a blog has gone silent. It's not surprising. Committing to posting everyday for 30 days is hard work, even if some posts are just "I know this is a lame post". It was still a commitment to say something, anything, every day.

All of us had days where we were exhausted from our lives, where we couldn't even think of dragging ourselves to the computer, much less actually stringing a few coherent words together for the blogsphere.

So, allow me to applaud everyone who kept their commitment every day, even if some days ' posts were not earth shattering. Life is like that. Many days are unremarkable. But, each day we get up and persevere.

Friday, November 30, 2007

NH makes the national news for an election-related event

This seems like a lame and shallow way to end the month. However, I felt compelled to comment on this ridiculous turn of events.

A NH man took several people hostage in a Rochester, NH, office for the Hilary Clinton campaign. I was impressed by the fact that the Clinton campaign had an office in a town of 30,000 people. But, hey, it's New Hampshire. When it comes to Presidential elections we rate. Every baby worth kissing in this state has chapped cheeks come election day.

For a relatively small (by population) state, I know for a fact that we harbor quite a few unstable folks. So, it was no surprise that the AP said:
"A law enforcement official confirmed to The Associated Press earlier that the suspect's name was Leeland Eisenberg, and said Eisenberg was an older man known around the town to be mentally unstable."

After all, we were the same state that harbored the income tax rebels who held off the Feds for months hold up in their home.

Bet you thought only Montana harbored right wing militia-minded types. The only reason you don't hear about us as much is that we're loners. Militia-minded folks tend to be joiners, of a sort.

I'm quite grateful that election day is January 8th. After that, I can get some peace. The campaign folks from both parties call our house almost every night at this point.

It's grand to be relevant.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Freaky magic

We love the Amazing Johnathan in our house. Someone mentioned that some clips from his shows were available on While there, I stumbled on this incredibly freaky clip of someone else's illusion. Awesome:

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A foody "would you rather"

I applaud Dr Momentum's semi-regular postings on Would you rather. I find them rather enjoyable and usually thought provoking. My readership is MUCH smaller than his. However, I hope to hit closer to home hear for many of you.

I am an admitted Foody! The width of my butt is testament to that fact. However, currently, I'm trying to conform to the straight and (cringe) narrow. That said, let us indulge in one of my favorite fantasies...

If you were granted the ability to eat one of the following, forever, without suffering any negative consequences (long term health or short term jean size), but you would have to give up the other completely to reap the benefits, which would you choose:

  • salty foods or sugary foods

  • 'white death' carbs (rice, bread, potatoes, cake, cookies) or dairy (ice cream, cheese, milk shakes)
  • fast food (McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Chinese take out, etc.) or home made fatty foods (mac & cheese, fried chicken, REAL mashed potatoes, bacon, etc.)
  • salty foods (from pickles to potato chips) or alcoholic beverages (from beer to wine to cognac to martinis)
  • meat in all its wondrous varieties or fruits and vegetables in all their wondrous varieties.

I'll post my own preferences in a comment for the pairs.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Good, but suffering from blog envy

OK. So, you have to be pretty educated to comprehend most of my blather:
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But, my friend Barbie2be's readers have to be actual geniuses!

Congrats Barbie2be. I am officially jealous.

What would improve the state of Indian health care?

In a comment to my previous post, Briwei asked what I thought would fix the Indian Health Service. Instead of just responding in a comment, I thought it was worth posting my opinion on this.

The first thing that would really help is if Congress reauthorized the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. From two and a half decades, the Act provided both a framework and a philosophical cornerstone of priorities for Indian health care. Initially passed in 1976 and renewed several times since, the Act expired in 2001. Coincidentally, health disparities between Indians and non-Indians grew in several areas right after that.

Several attempts have been made since 2001 to reauthorize the Act, but this administration has not been receptive to it. The biggest hurdle, no doubt, is money. See it's perfectly acceptable to spend twice as much per capita on the health care of Federal prisoners as we do on American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Another area where Congress could help would be creating some sort of cooperative bridge between the three disparate delivery systems that exist currently: the Federally run Indian Health Service, the Tribally run programs under the umbrella of the Indian Health Service, and the NGO-run urban Indian health programs (who traditionally have received at least some funding from IHS, though this minimal funding has been threatened time and again by the current administration). Since Tribes gained the ability to contract/compact with IHS to manage their own health care delivery systems, competition for funding between Tribes for health care funds has grown. This competition is not always conducive to cooperation in other areas, such as shared priorities, research, and information sharing. In order to truly make strides in the health status of American Indians and Alaska Natives, all Indian health programs need to work together.

Those two things would go along way to improving the situation, as would just a basic overall increase in funding. The per capita spending data is just horrific. In addition, the system has been so neglected that many of the facilities, and much of the equipment within those facilities, are crumbling and outdated. There should be a special initiative to bring facilities and equipment, if not up-to-date, at least into this century.

I don't claim to be an expert. All of this is just my opinion based on a couple of months of passion-driven research. I hope to leverage that material into my next research project for the next health care management class that requires one. The Universe knows that I have a pile of data to work with that can be analyzed from many different angles.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Happy Dance of Relief

OK. I know that I already posted today. Some would say "Save it for tomorrow", but I just can't!

Tonight was my last class of the semester. I emailed my final paper in on Sunday (OK, I mailed it in on Saturday and then sent him a revision on Sunday). Tonight we had to give presentations on our papers. I was a little nervous. Though I know the material like the back of my hand, I don't like 'speaking' plus I was unsure how my conclusion was going to go over.

It turns out that I obsessed for no reason, yet again. First off, there are only three other students in my class. It was very informal and nearly even fun (though I went last when everyone was exhausted and wanted to go home). I focused on my most copacetic classmate and directed my presentation towards her. That helped immensely since she's always been very interested in my topic. While I got a rough start, I am VERY passionate about my topic. Towards the end I got to present the data points that piss me off the most about Indian health care. When I was done the group threw several questions at me that I had no problem answering. And, my conclusion was well received by all.

The basic premise of my paper was: "Is the Indian Healthcare System a good model for universal health care for the U.S. as a whole?" My conclusion was: "IHS is WAY broken and most of the U.S. would not put up with the rationing and health status that American Indian/Alaska Natives have had to put up with. In my paper I also had to discuss what would fix the system. ... Like I know. However, I took a stab at a few things and we discussed them after my presentation. The instructor and class liked what I said.

So, I have to say, I'm pretty sure I got that "A" that I usually obsess about when I take a class. Woot!

January 5th, I can start obsessing about the next class.

This week's heroine

I should have posted this yesterday, since I wanted to do my "Heroines on Sunday" as a regular thing. However, this weekend was way irregular.

Though surrounded by a bit of controversy, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is another heroine in my book. Her recent book Infidel is on my short list of non-fiction 'must reads'. Ali has received numerous awards for her human rights work. She has drawn a lot of attention to the treatment of women in much of the Islamic world. Currently, she lives in hiding after receiving numerous death threats for her outspokenness.

I was reminded of her by a recent news piece out of Saudi Arabia. A woman has been sentenced to prison and lashing after being gang raped. Apparently, the newly-married 19 year old woman and her lover were caught partially clothed in the man's car by two men. They were forced to drive to a secluded location where other men were waiting. The couple were both raped. The woman was charged with adultery and sentenced to 90 lashes and six months in prison. After her lawyer appealed, the new judge increased her sentence to 200 lashes. While the rapists were convicted, one of the judges said that the woman invited the attack by being partially undressed in public with a man who was not her husband.

This is the kind of thing that Ayaan Hirsi Ali rails against, and why her life has been threatened. Her own history is not spotless. She has admitted to falsifying information to attain asylum in her current country, The Netherlands. I cannot fault her for her actions (she was trying to avoid a marriage arranged by her family). No one is perfect. However, the good she does outweighs what little indiscretions she may have committed, in my eyes.

I hope her enemies never find her or tire of looking for her.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Not as productive as I would have liked, but ...

I really had a great five days off from work. Yes, I obsessed WAY too much about my paper, which I have to present tomorrow night. While I worked my butt off on the research, I am started to doubt myself in the thesis/analysis at this point. I'll probably do just fine since my instructor is a pretty easy going guy.

While I made ZERO headway in cleaning anything this weekend, I did finally get around to installing an external DVD burner on my old workstation. I bought the burner on Halloween and it's been sitting in my office in the box it shipped in since then. Though, I'm still futzing around with the software that came with it so I can burn some CDs from

We went out to see "No Country for Old Men" last night. I recommend it though it is a rather dark weird movie. I kind of want to read the book now to see if it gives any answers where the movie left only gaping questions. When the film ended, several people yelled out things like "You're kidding me, right?"

Since we watched a couple of horror movies this week, I felt the need for fluff tonight. We rented Jennifer Garner's "Catch and Release". Kevin Smith is in it as a secondary character, so it'll have at least THAT as a redeeming characteristic. We also watched "The Holiday" this week, which I recommend when you are in the mood for humorous romantic fluff. Sometimes 'fluff' is just what you need, and not all 'fluff' is created equal.

We're anxiously awaiting the weekend of 12/14, so we can see "I Am Legend". It'll be perfect timing. As it stands now, I have to work on a major project cut over on the morning of the 15th. A nice apocalyptic action movie will be just what the doctor ordered coming evening.

As to the mess that is my room ... better luck next weekend?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Let the weekend begin

I spent part of Wednesday and most of Friday working on my paper. I am (mostly) finished writing it. There is one section that I want to reword a bit. Plus, I need to reformat my citations and update my slides. However, the grunt work is done.

Now, the real weekend can begin. I really need to clean my office. It looks like a paper factory blew up in there. Some other parts of the house are also whining for my attention.

Plus, I want to start making holiday cards. Yes, I said 'making'. Those of you who get actual cards from me this year will find them laughably hand made. I thought it would be fun. Plus, it'll have a personal touch that a box of Hallmarks just won't have. If they're a little messy looking it'll just add to their charm, right?

Friday, November 23, 2007

The holiday shopping season has officially begun

I refused to go near a major shopping establishment today. I was busy writing my paper, for one. Two, I get paid monthly, so I have 'budgeted' my holiday money to come out of the check I'll get on the 30th. I did go out to buy gas and lottery tickets this afternoon, mostly as a mental break from the paper.

Anyway, I order my son a magazine subscription tonight. He probably won't see the first issue until mid-January. However, the vendor promised a postcard by xmoose. So, I have officially purchased one gift as of Black Friday.

Don't just recycle: Freecycle

We all know that we should be recycling, but to kick your environmentalism up a notch consider freecycling. What is that? Well freecycling is when you have some tangible good that is still functional but you no longer want it, so you offer it up to the community of freecyclers instead of tossing it out.

I had heard about freecycling, but wasn't inspired to try it until today. My son has a fish tank that he ignores. The only reason we kept it this long is because our younger cat likes to watch the fish. However, I have been growing weary of nagging my son to take care of the fish, or doing it myself. So, today, I offered the tank, fish, and all the accoutrements on my local Yahoo-based freecycle list. Within 30 minutes I had two people willing to come and take it. Within two hours, I'd picked up another half a dozen inquiries.

The fish tank will be gone in another couple of hours. However, my freecycling days are just beginning. This could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The definition of optimism

One of my favorite public radio programs is The Splendid Table. At the end of this week's show the host quoted someone as saying that, "the definition of optimism is beginning a diet on Thanksgiving Day." This made me chuckle since I must be an optimist.

Since last Thanksgiving, I put on about fifteen pounds. The three primary contributors to this gain were stress, a longer commute, and allowing 'white death' foods back into my diet.

Disgusted with myself, I signed up for my gym's holiday challenge. Basically, you put up $10 and get weighed a week before Thanksgiving. You get weighed once a week until the week after New Year's Day. As long as you've gained no more than three pounds, you get your $10 back. If you have lost more weight than other participants, but not more than twenty pounds - which is considered an unhealthy loss, you get any money forfeited by other participants.

I've already dropped four pounds since my initial weigh in. Though, I'm not going to fool myself into thinking that I won't gain weight today while chowing down at my sister-in-law's house. However, it was good to start the day with a little (flabby) wiggle room.

Here are some of the things that I am doing to help improve my chances of losing weight:

  • take my vitamins - I have been really bad about that this last year

  • drink tea, especially green tea (chemicals in tea help reduce appetite - and it's not just the caffeine

  • eat at least half a cup of whole grains every day (fiber makes you feel full longer, helps you release carbs more slowly, and helps you eliminate toxins

  • eat a cup of yogurt or a chunk of cheese every day (calcium supposedly helps with weight loss)

So, here's wishing all of us the best of luck with our collective 'battle of the bulge' as we kick off the holiday eating season today.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

In my happy place

It's been a good day. I had things to accomplish on this, Thanksgiving Eve, which I (mostly) was able to accomplish. The big things: picked up a pie, picked up a bottle of wine, and baked a pie from absolute scratch. The big test will be tomorrow to see how said 'scratch' pie turned out.

Sadly, I think that I may have over done it with the libations. I'm currently power driving my water consumption. It may be a weird feeling, which may be linked to hangovers, which may be ranked similarly.

Everyone be safe tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Work vs. A Day Off

I have been really looking forward to this holiday, especially since I decided to take Wednesday off as well. I initially had planned to bake a pie and work on my final project for school. Now, I also have to deal with a plumber, who is putting in our new garbage disposal. And, I am going to pick up a second pie that I pre-ordered, because I knew I wasn't going to feel like baking two. Plus, I kind of want to go to the big liquor store and pick up a nice bottle of wine. I have a feeling that I am going to be more exhausted than if I had gone to work.

I had a boatload to get done today at work. And, amazingly, I got most of it all done. As a matter of fact, I was kind of feeling like I was in a productive groove. If I hadn't had an appointment I needed to leave for, I probably would have worked late. I am feeling a bit stressed by my big project, which is scheduled for cut over to production on Saturday, December 15. On the other hand, I have been doing a pretty good job at tackling the hurdles that have come down the pike on this thing, and THAT has been noticed by upper management.

Life really is a balance.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Winding down and winding up

Tonight was the last lecture for my class this semester. Next week we present our research papers. There are only four of us. At the end of tonight's class our instructor asked us to pick the order of our presentations. One of my fellow students, M, opined that she did not want to go after me. After a few more thrashing abouts by my fellow students, I crossed my arms and sat back in my chair and said "I'll go last if you want. No problem."

It's not that I feel incredibly cocky, really. I just really know the material I've been researching. After all, as I explained to my instructor in an email a week ago, I have enough notes (REALLY) to write a text book.

My paper is on the Indian Health Service and whether it makes a good model for universal health care in the United States. In short, when it was founded in 1955 it certainly had a lot going for it. The organization took a holistic approach towards the health of its service population. The focus went far beyond hospital beds. A lot of attention was given towards improved sanitation and prevention of communicable diseases. Sadly, the Service has been underfunded in the face of the rising costs of medical care and the increase in size of the service population (1.9%/year). And, while the health status of American Indians and Alaska Natives has improved over the last fifty years, this minority population is still one of the poorest and sickest populations in the nation.

The system has been forced to resort to virtual rationing for non-emergent services, a situation not very different from many countries with various flavors of universal health care. Since the conditions of health care delivery within the IHS are not something the general U.S. population would tolerate, at this time, I do not think it is a good model for potential use as a universal health care system in the U.S.

Here's an amusing and shame-inducing fact: We spend less per capita on Indian health care than we do on health care for inmates of the Federal prison system (and less than health insurance for Federal employees, or Medicare/Medicaid recipients). As a theoretically comprehensive health care system, to spend so little per person is appalling. However the morbidity and mortality statistics reflect our investment in the system. For starters, American Indians and Alaska Natives have a life expectancy of approximately six years shorter than the general U.S. population. (Go figure.)

Most of my class mates have heard me drone on about the situation, and two have admitted that it really depresses them. Heck, it depresses me. I am 1/16 American Indian, which is virtually negligible. However, it offends me how poorly we treat the native population of this country. We leveraged vast swaths of land and resources from their hands, tried to stamp out their ancestral languages and cultures, and treat them like retarded step children who can't be expected to care for themselves or to succeed without massive hand-holding on our part.

Pardon me, this is an old annoyance that never loses its ability to get me riled up.

Wish me luck with my presentation. While there are only three other students and an instructor to inculcate with my thinking on this topic, maybe they'll spread the word on how horridly the U.S. government has treated this population, at the very least in regards to health care.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Heroines on Sunday

On Monday nights, we record Heroes, so we can watch it at our leisure as a family on Tuesday. It's a great show ("Save the cheerleader, save the world.")

I'm not one of those women who have any feelings one way, or the other, about the verb "to man" or the nouns with feminine versions such as actor/actress and hero/heroine. As a matter of fact, one of my current favorite popular songs is "Hero/Heroine" by Boys Like Girls.

That said, I am always interested in inspiring women. So, I think I'm going to start a blog theme: Heroines on Sunday. This week's candidate: Andree De Jongh.

Born in Belgium in 1916, the Countess De Jongh was a very active member of the French resistance during World War II. She helped found the Comet Line, a route used by over 800 Allied soldiers to escape the Nazis. She personally escorted 118 of those soldiers. After the execution of her father by the Nazis in 1943, she too was arrested. Under tortuous interrogation she admitted to being a key figure in the resistance and the organizer of the escape route. The Nazis did not believe that a woman could have such a key role, so they merely imprissoned her. Eventually she ended up in Ravensbr├╝ck concentration camp and then Mauthausen. She survived in the camps until her liberation by advancing Allied troops in April 1945.

In her later life she worked in leper hospitals in both the Congo and Ethiopia, but eventually retired to Belgium as her health began to fail her. In 1985, she was made a Belgian Countess. Andree De Jongh passed from this world in October at the age of 90.

I don't have a daughter, but if I did I'd take this opportunity to encourage her with such examples. While much more trivial, I did stumble across a cool book for girls The Daring Book for Girls which is produced by the same folks who gave us The Dangerous Book for Boys. While both books are supposedly for kids, they look like fun reads for adults as well.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

One door (may) close, while another one reopens

Last month, I posted about my son's plans to not play tennis any longer. He took lessons for several years with the goal of going out for the high school tennis team. Now, when he's in high school and a few months shy of going out for the team he's thinking about giving up on it.

Well, things changed slightly. His game improved after that announcement. So, he started vacillating on his decision. But, since he's still not sure how he feels about it, we were unwilling to continue to throw large amounts of money at tennis lessons. Then, an opportunity came up to play on a junior winter league. The money investment is less than half of the lesson fees, plus he'll get some structured competition experience. He's still unsure if he wants to go out for the team, so this will help him decide since the experience will be similar, if slightly less rigorous than the high school team schedule. Winter League matches are once a week, with no practices. The high school team has practices or matches Monday through Friday.

When K was in elementary school, he took guitar lessons for five years. He eventually gave that up when he (and we) got tired of the rigors of practicing and being nagged at by his parents to practice. In the last month or so, out of the blue, he started fiddling around with his guitar again.

When he stopped lessons, his instructor said to us that he might pick it back up again when he got to high school, since a lot of kids think that its cool to start their own band and the like. I think he hit that prediction spot on. K's church youth group puts on a 'coffee house' each February, featuring amateur performers from the church community. K really wants to participate (probably to impress his friends). So, he asked if he could go back to guitar lessons!

We made him think about it for several weeks. Plus, we watched that he was really getting back into enjoying playing his guitar. We really don't feel like reestablishing the practice-nagging routine we had going years ago.

So, here we are. Tomorrow is his last tennis lesson in almost three years. Monday evening K has his first guitar lesson in over three years. Winter Junior Team Tennis starts in the beginning of January.

Life is never boring with a teenager in the house.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mobil Digital Funeral Planning

There are a number of web sites out there that will help you plan your own funeral. I recently stumbled on some software for your PC to help you plan your final party. I think the best thing about this application is that there is a version that will run on your Palm Pilot. Digital Funeral Planner has the following features:

  • Comprehensive planning tool for funerals and end-of-life issues
  • PC and PDA formats (Windows and Palm OS®)
  • Ability to plan multiple funerals
  • Ability to print detailed funeral plan reports
  • Printable planning worksheets
  • Copy records to the clipboard and paste into word processors
  • Open-ended data entry fields for maximum flexibility
  • Resource Guide with helpful information
  • Free updates and upgrades
  • Free email tech support

Wow, it allows you to plan multiple funerals. This must come in handy if you think you'll need to have multiple services since not all of those who want to come to your funeral would want the same things out of a funeral or might actively dislike each other. It's also handy if you would like to plan funerals for other loved ones, say rich Uncle Bob. Who knows, maybe this is THE perfect software for you to embark on your new career as a funeral planner.

I may have to look into that last bit, definitely has potential.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Silly list time

1. Name one person who made you laugh last night?
My cat, Caboose. And, yes, in our house he is considered a person.

2. What were you doing at 0800?
It's not 0800 yet. Yesterday at 0800 I was reading email at my desk.

3. What were you doing 30 minutes ago?

4. What happened to you in 2006?
I got a new job which is professionally perfect, but the commute stinks.

5. What was the last thing you said out loud?
"Good night" to my son.

6. How many beverages did you have today?
nada. just woke up.

7. What color is your hairbrush?
don't really use one. My bathroom comb is purple.

8. What was the last thing you paid for?
Two scrambled eggs for breakfast yesterday morning.

9. Where were you last night?
Home, watching TiVo with my family.

10. What colour is your front door?
Sea green.

11. Where do you keep your change?
In the change portion of my wallet

12. What’s the weather like today?
Rainy and somewhat warm.

13. What’s the best ice-cream flavour?
Butter Brickle

14. What excites you?
Depends on the day. Right now, I'm looking forward to "I am Legend" in a big way.

15. Do you want to cut your hair?
No. Just got a cut last weekend.

16. Are you over the age of 25?
Sadly, yes.

17. Do you talk a lot?

18. Do you watch the O.C.?

19. Do you know anyone named Steven?
My boss's boss is called Steve, and so is another coworker, and my chiropractor.

20. Do you make up your own words?
It's been a while since I've come up with any good ones, but yes.

21. Are you a jealous person?
A bit.

22. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘A’
Anne B., from church.

23. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘K’
my sister-in-law is a K

24. Who’s the first person on your received call list?
My son

25. What does the last text message you received say
Haven't received one in months, and I like it that way.

26. Do you chew on your straw?

27. Do you have curly hair?

28. Where’s the next place you’re going to?

29. Who’s the rudest person in your life?
me. I sometimes get so excited with a thought that I interrupt other people. Also, I sometimes say the first thing that comes into my head without running it through the social acceptability filters.

30. What was the last thing you ate?
coconut sorbet

31. Will you get married in the future?
if I end up single again, I doubt it.

32. What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the past 2 weeks?
30 Days of Night

33. Is there anyone you like right now?
I have a minor crush on Gerard Butler, and also on Katee Sackhoff

34. When was the last time you did the dishes?
this morning

35. Are you currently depressed?

36. Did you cry today?
No. Haven't really cried in a few months.

37. Why did you answer and post this?
Liked Barbie2Be's answers, so I decided to play along.

38. Tag 5 people you want to do this survey.
Nah. Play if you want as a comment here or on your own blog.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tropical fish live for months out of the water

Scientists recently discovered that one species of tropical fish can live months out of the water. This article reminded me of a couple of things.

My son has a fish tank in his room. We initially got him an aquarium as a way of having a night light without admitting that he was afraid of the dark. A year or two ago, he stopped really needing to have a night light. However, our younger cat LOVES the fish tank. The only reason that my son pays any attention to the tank at all is because the cat likes it.

Sadly, my son doesn't really pay much attention to the tank at all. We keep looking for someone to take the tank off our hands since I feel bad for the neglected fish. My son leaves the light on all the time, which causes massive algae blooms. And, he only feeds the poor fish about once a week. I think he keeps hoping that the fish will die of neglect. There are only two left at this point in the twenty gallon tank.

My son's neglect of the fish tank reminded me of the aquarium Change Junkie kept one year when we were in college. It got pretty green in there sometimes. Once it got so bad that you couldn't even see the fish. One of her roommates, E, decided to take matters into his own hands. He cleaned the tank one weekend. Change Junkie was both amused and horrified. She mockingly protested that E had ruined her experiment in evolution. She said she was purposefully not cleaning the tank to see if the fish would evolve, sprout legs, and walk out. I think there was some sort of evolutionary thing going on there. After E cleaned the tank, the fish died. I think they'd grown used to the pollution. Then again, who knows what E used to clean the tank.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How much goofing off is acceptable in the work place?

Everyone goofs off a little bit in the work place, especially when there is access to the Internet. However, most professionally-minded people try to keep the ratio of work-time to goof-off-time in favor of productive work.

Enter my office mate, V. V is very young. This is her first full time job out of college. When you ask V to do something, she takes on the task without complaint and usually delivers great results in a timely fashion. However, without direction V is easily distracted and prone to massive amounts of goof-off-time.

I appreciate that she is young. I also appreciate that she usually meets requests in a timely fashion, and sometimes offers up solutions to issues that no one else considered. That said, last week V nearly became a stain on our office carpet.

V is habitually late since she doesn't have a car and must rely on public transportation. She also doesn't make up the time at the end of the day, because she needs to work around the schedule of said public transportation. She is basically in the building for just over eight hours most days, but thinks nothing of taking an hour for lunch.

Last week, V decided that she was tired of being a slave to public transportation and began shopping for a car. Her enthusiasm for this endeavor amounted to her utilizing most of the work day on both Thursday and Friday in pursuit of a vehicle. I tried not to let this bother me too much, since ultimately her new car would eliminate her excuse for working abbreviated days as a slave to public transportation.

However, since V has never had to purchase a car on her own and there were so many ins-and-outs involved in the purchase of the car, she felt the need to constantly interrupt me both days to ask for my input, opinion, and advice. She was even late to (and poorly prepared for) a meeting because she was busy showing car pictures to a friend from another group. I even tried to point out that she was going to be late and that she needed to read through a document before the meeting.

Friday afternoon, the two of us got out of a meeting around 4:30. I needed to write up the notes from the meeting before leaving for a three day weekend, so I could go home. However, V picked right back up with her vehicle drama as soon as we got back to our office. It took every ounce of my will power not to scream at her to "Shut the F**k up so I can finish up and go home." As it was, I wasn't really able to finish up my notes until after she left to catch her bus.

She left that meeting with an action item, which she still hasn't begun as of COB today. I guess I will have to nudge her tomorrow.

While I am supposed to be acting as a 'mentor' of sorts to V, sometimes it is difficult. I am not her supervisor, and I am definitely not her mother. So, how does one tactfully encourage a peer to refocus their energies on actual work in the work place?

Monday, November 12, 2007

In honor of Veterans Day

My gym had a sign posted this week that amused me: "We will be closed on Monday, November 12, in memory of our Veterans". Um, ok. "In memory of" is usually reserved for the dead. Veterans' Day is meant to honor service personnel, living and dead, but primarily living. Memorial Day is the one where you are supposed to honor the memory of the dead.

I know, in this day and age, I shouldn't let a little thing like inaccurate semantics bother me. In the age of computer-enabled high speed communication, people often misspell or poorly state their ideas. However, if you're going to post a notice I hope you put a little more consideration into it than you do an email to a friend. Especially when the audience is full of people with advanced college degrees (the clientele at my gym are highly over-educated).

Such things are good for a chuckle. Fellow blogger Change Junkie has a link to a great site for such things:

Enjoy! And, have a peaceful Veterans' Day.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Evanescence: kind of like Enya does metal

My step-brother, J, is a music distributor. He lives an enviable life working out of his home and occasionally traveling to Europe to put on shows and meet with bands, to potentially distribute their music in the U.S. J has been pretty good at not pushing his bands on me. However, I have been keeping an ear out for the types of music he deals with.

I just bought the current CD by Evanescence, and it totally rocks. While he doesn't distribute exclusively for Evanescence, he handles some bands that are very similar. If you like strong female lead singers, mixed with a wide variety of metal stylings, try his web site. They recently posted an interview with the lead singer, Amy Lee.

Now, I just have to figure out how to wrestle the Evanescence CD out of my husband's car and back into my purview.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

They're kidding, right?

I subscribe to The Week, a weekly news magazine for people, like me, who like their news delivered in short little (but informative) bursts. I have more than happy with their digest of all the other news sources out there. However, I recently got a mailing encouraging me to buy a gift subscript for a friend, or two. Check out the envelope blurb:

Really? He's more informed than I am? Notice that the return address is in Florida. Coincidence? I think not.

Since I disagree with their assessment of his level of knowledge, maybe I should get HIM a subscription.

Friday, November 09, 2007

And the results are finally in

Isn't medical science grand. It seems like they either catch something, too little too late, or get you all worked up for no good reason.

Back in September, my Gyn office freaked me out a bit by telling me that I had endometrial cells in my pap smear, and that I should have a histosonogram to rule out anything unusual. Even though there was a low percentage of negative outcomes in this scenario, I was a bit concerned.

For the last two months, I pretty much blocked the entire procedure from my mind. Thursday was finally THE day.

Let me just say this about the procedure: Totally uncomfortable (Really, you can't decide whether you want to urinate or deficate, or if you are having really bad cramps from your period). It's in every woman's favorite stirrup-based position. And, afterwards, you get to waddle to the bathroom with a giant diaper between your legs because you are leaking fluids like mad.

The end result? Nothing. Nada. Bupkiss.

Everything looks fine. But, at your age, we had to check.

At my age? OK. Now, I really want to crawl into a hole.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Moved by a really old tragedy

With the advent of the Internet, I periodically find myself googling people from my past to see what they might be up to now. I did this last night, and I kind of wish I hadn't.

In high school I had an on-again-off-again relationship with a somewhat troubled guy. He was a twin. I ended up becoming friends with his brother's wife. The last time I heard from her was a year or two after I got married. She sent me some candid family photos. In my book, she and her husband were good people. She had endured a rough first marriage to an alcoholic but managed to extricate herself and her children to start anew with someone who, in my experience, worshiped her.

Last night, I went searching for my ex. When I couldn't find any references to him, I searched for his brother, and then his brother's wife. That's when I found the article. Just a year or two after she sent me those photos, she and her husband had an argument on 12/31/92. He stabbed her. When she tried to use the phone to call for help, he ripped the phone off the wall. She and her mother fled the house. For some reason, the mother and a neighbor came back to the house. The husband shot them both and then himself.

I was stunned to learn of these events. First, I could not reconcile the events with the people I had known. Secondly, I had a hard time believing that something so horrible had happened to people I knew, and I didn't find out about it until almost fifteen years later. On that front, I guess it's easy to understand since we had few friends in common by the time of the incident. And, while the article did appear in my local paper, I wasn't a huge newspaper reader. However, my mother was, and she was alive at the time. Maybe she missed that article. Or maybe her mind didn't link the names to the names of people she only slightly new through me.

Maybe it shouldn't bother me this much. After all, it's been nearly fifteen years. Plus, we weren't close friends at that point, and hadn't been for a few years. Still, it does.

From some other information I found on the Internet, I think the wife now lives in another state. I hope she is at peace after all these years. Part of me thought of dropping her a note, but I think that would be cruel of me at this point considering our primary connection was through her ill-fated marriage. I will just have to hope that the universe is finally taking better care of her now.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I guess I'm not a perfectionist

According to my score, I'm only 71% of the way there, which is (of course) unacceptable.

You Are 71% Perfectionist

You are a true perfectionist. You are both demanding of yourself and others.
While it's great to have goals and standards, they don't need to be sky high!

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

A NH town reported that a grave was dug up on Halloween and the body stolen. A town police officer initially stated that they believed that the theft was related to a ritual. According to their research (maybe, holding a stolen skull at midnight on Halloween grants the bearer special powers.

I suppose they didn’t want to go on record as to which special powers you’d be granted. Otherwise, everyone would be digging up bodies. No?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Looking forward to more school

Last spring I took a course with an instructor who really irritated me. I got an A in the course, but I could not wait for it to be over. I was thrilled to take the Summer off from school. I don't like taking classes in the summer any way, but I definitely needed a mental break after dealing with her.

This semester is very different. I enjoy my instructor. He is very knowledgeable, but he also values our opinions and ideas. We only have four students in our face-to-face class, which leads to vibrant discussions, at times. Even though I was pretty comfortable with most of the material before the class even started, I have enjoyed the experience. And, while writing a research paper is a pain in the neck when you have a full time life that has nothing to do with school, I am enjoying what I am learning in the process of doing the research.

Normally, I take a class every other semester (Fall on, Winter off, Spring on, Summer off). However, my school is not offering all the classes I need to get my degree in the next two years, and some of the ones that they are offering they are only offering once or twice. So, I need to take a course next semester.

What's really amazing to me right now is that I am actually looking forward to taking next semester's class. My current instructor has stoked my desire to learn and not squelched it. Plus, I found out last night, next semester's course is being taught by an instructor I had two years ago. Like my current instructor, the man is knowledgeable but also respects the input of his students.

These are the type of people we need in education. We definitely don't need people who are so full of themselves that they think that there is only one way to answer a question: their way. Everyone brings something of value to a discussion, even if they don't have a PhD.

I've learned a little of that lesson myself this semester. Of the three other students in my class, one is a VERY sharp, good natured, experienced managing RN, another works in admissions in a hospice setting, and the third used to be a LNA but is now a paper pusher for the National Guard. The first two women are my age or older. The third woman isn't yet thirty.

I brought a lot of prejudices into the classroom, based on education and experience. While I had the utmost respect for the RN, I didn't give the other two students much credit. The hospice worker was constantly having computer problems that I smiled at, uncharitably. The Guard girl always had some story to tell about the drama of her life, and some excuse as to why she didn't get her homework turned in before class.

Over time, I learned that the hospice worker came back into the work force a few years ago after a divorce. She's trying to get her degree to improve her career opportunities in health care. While she and her computer are not best friends, she's no idiot either. She even turned her final exam in before me this weekend (and I turned mine in more than a week before it was due).

The Guard girl really tries hard. And, a lot of her stories are kind of funny. She too is trying to get her degree to improve her career opportunities. She's doing this while raising a preschooler on her own. That earns her points in my book. She does still kind of irk me when she blows off any contribution I make to the discussion by saying stuff like, "Well, we can't all have M.B.A.'s" I think that it bothers her that I already have a Master's degree (not an MBA, mind you) and yet I'm back in school for another B.S. It's not easy for me either. I just have more years and experience under my belt, so I make it look easier than it is.

See, everyone could benefit by taking a step back and giving everyone a chance to prove themselves without someone else's assumptions getting in the way.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Enjoy the Kosher Vegetarian taste of bacon

We don’t buy bacon (or ham) very often in our household. I try to avoid it because of all the salt, additives, and fat. But I really do like bacon. If someone else cooked it for me, I could easily put away a one pound package (uncooked weight) by myself. While Bacon Salt doesn’t eliminate all the sins of eating bacon, it drops a bunch of the fat calories. Also, you can make all sorts of things taste like bacon without having to mess up your kitchen cooking the wonderful/horrible stuff. Plus, for vegetarians who sometimes secretly pine for their lost nitrate-laden fat slices, Bacon Salt is vegetarian. Also, for those eating Kosher who haven’t always eaten so ‘purely’, the product is also Kosher. In both cases, the ‘pure of intent’ folks might shy away from something that mimics something they really don’t want to eat.

But, for me, I think I will give it a try. Bacon popcorn anyone?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Falling back

I think I have finally gotten all the clocks changed to reflect the overnight time change. While I appreciate the extra hour this weekend, I will grumble about the lost hour in the spring.

I vote we just stop this entire nonsense. Most countries on the planet do not jump through these hoops. Why do we have to make things so hard?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Hurricane season

Much of the country has been experience drought conditions this year. New England is no different. We haven't been as hard hit as many parts of the country, but we also haven't had tons of rain this year either (minor spring flooding aside). So, I really was not too put out when the rain rolled in this afternoon. Then, I noticed that it seemed a bit windy as well.

Apparently, this big wet blow is the remnants of late-season hurricane, Noel. I didn't realize that hurricane season in the north Atlantic runs from June 1 to November 30, with a statistical peak around September 10. My in-laws always talked about having their boat out of hurricane-prone waters between May and October. Maybe that's the insurance companies version of hurricane season (insurance issues being my in-laws' concern).

I was even a bit surprised that we had made it down to the letter "N" with hurricane names this year. I guess I just wasn't paying attention. It turns out that of the named storms this year, only five have turned into full blown hurricanes so far. Last year had only five full blown hurricanes as well, but we only got up to the letter "I" in names. Both years are in barely noticeable in contrast to the 2005 hurricane season when we had fourteen full fledged hurricanes, and we had six storms beyond the letter "Z".

But remember folks, global warming is just a sensationalistic scandal perpetrated by left wing scientists who want to distract you from more important issues, like how important it is to help our economically strapped oil industry.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Who knew I'd like a party with mostly strangers?

Today was a VERY long day. Actually, most of my days are pretty long. I typically get up at 5, leave for work by 6:30, get to work at 7:30, go to the gym at lunch time, leave work at 4:30, get home around 5:30, have dinner, get ready for the next day, relax a little, and get into bed by 9:30.

Most of us have this type of routine, with minor monkey wrenches thrown in like evening commitments that wear us out more. This week I had one of those every night, except for Halloween, where I spent most of the evening answering the doorbell.

Earlier in the week, a friend asked if I was coming to her party on Friday night or not. I had said "maybe" on eVite, because I knew I was overbooked this week, and I didn't think I'd have the energy for it. But, my husband agreed to go with me (even though it was a Pampered Chef-themed party, and there would be mostly women there). My other trepidation about going to the party was that I only knew the hostess, who is a close friend of my husbands and more of a passing acquaintance of mine. I wanted to go in order to get to know her better, and to ogle the Pampered Chef merchandise.

I was particularly exhausted when I got home tonight, so I drank a diet soda to get me through the evening. (I usually don't drink soda after lunch time, since it can make getting to sleep problematic.) When we left for the party, I figured that we'd stay an hour or two, in order to be polite, and then we'd come home and fall asleep.

Silly, silly, woman! It was a really fun party. The hostess and the Pampered Chef representative worked their butts off making sure there was lots of food and beverage to be had, and that the salesmanship was kept to a bare minimum. My husband ended up being the only male there, but he didn't seem to mind. He gave me a tour of the house and introduced me to the hostess's three cats. He also ordered me a new chef's knife that I had been coveting for quite some time. Isn't he wonderful!

Then we ended up meeting two women (sisters) who we had a fantastic conversation with. The party went on around the four of us. People kept excusing themselves walking through our conversation. People gradually started leaving while others cleaned up. Finally, it was just the four of us and the hostess. The five of us then retired to the living room and continued to talk and laugh (a lot!) for another hour.

When we got home, I was asleep within 15 minutes of walking through the door. Considering some of my regular issues with sleep, maybe I should go to more parties!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I couldn't just post that, now could I?

OK. I knew that today would have at least a NaBloPoMo posting, however I feel that it would be bad form (and far from the spirit of the commitment) if that was all I posted today.

So, what are the 'hot topics' of my life that I could delve into this month, if the ridiculousness of the news were not inspiration enough?

Things that have my interest right now, for one reason or another:

  • School
  • Upcoming holidays
  • Upcoming election
  • Card making for the holidays (as soon as school is over, right before Turkey Day)
  • Books I am reading, or have recently read
  • My brothers and the entre they could each provide me to Europe.
  • How cool my brothers are and my unique relationship with each of them.
  • The future of my career
  • Odes to friends that I don't see enough

Things I could whine about, but refuse to give into for very long:

  1. My back
  2. My weight (up 10 pounds since this time last year)
  3. My crappy commute

There's no positive direction that I could take any of those topics, right now. So, I think I'll leave them alone unless something starts looking up on one of those fronts.

But, as you can see, I think I have plenty of fodder. It should be a mentally invigorating month.

Today is the first day of the rest of my month

In case you hadn't noticed the badge over to the right, I am participating in National Blog Posting Month. I have been posting (almost) every day for quite a while. Now, of course, I am COMMITTED to posting. Nothing like a little commitment to drive you crazy, eh?

Do not expect every posting to be deep, stimulating, or humorous. I am sure that some of them will be shallow and boring. But, hey, that's the variety of life!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Here's a new take on the Administration

Dennis Kucinich is a pretty liberal Democratic candidate for President. If I were twenty years younger I would applaud his idealism and I'd be voting for him. Sadly, I am now 45, and my political sensibilities tend towards realistic compromise. I fully subscribe to the political philosophy often mistakenly attributed to Winston Churchill, summarized thusly: if you are young and not liberal you have no heart, if you are mature and not conservative you have no brain. While still a Democrat (more or less) I am a right-leaning one (is that really possible)? But in my current home state of NH, I might as well be a Communist! (hee, hee)

Mr Kucinich recently questioned President Bush's sanity after Bush linked Iran's ability to manufacture nuclear weapons with an inevitable World War III. While some would say that the President's comments could be considered hyperbole, I think the guy takes everything he says in public totally seriously. (Plus, I don't know that he could pronounce the word if his speech writers gave it to him.)

Dennis, I concur with your assessment that The President should consider his remarks more carefully before making them. However, I think you give him too much credit. There are many highly intelligent people out there who suffer from mental disturbance. I do not think our President suffers from a mental disturbance, I just happen to think that he is deeply stupid.

He does not have to be insane to not "... understand his words have real impact". He could be merely ill-advised or his words could be ill-considered. Neither makes him mentally 'ill'.

I would like to chalk up some of the ridiculous actions of this Administration as the product of insanity. Sadly, most were well-calculated acts of disregard for the law of the land and the will of The People perpetrated by an oligarchy of right wingers appointed by a low-talent man who owed a lot of favors after barely getting into office the first go around. And some, were just the ill-conceived words and acts of ... well ... from all evidence ... a moron.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

How dumb is too dumb?

I stumbled on this article on Monday: How dumb is too dumb to operate a computer?

After years of being a geek, I have often thought that operating a computer should require some sort of license, much like operating a car. While the effects of poor operation are not as obvious, in today's interconnected world one user's poor computer skills really do bring down the neighborhood.

Typically, the most attacked ports on the Internet are being attacked by computers whose primary operators are unaware that their computers are participating in any sort of attack.

I guess it might be like allowing all sorts of people to buy guns, to defend their homes (of course) and having other people come in and borrow those guns, without their knowlege, who in turn shoot up the neighborhood.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Congratulations Red Sox Nation

While I do not consider myself a fan, I know that today will be a great day at work as all the Red Sox fans bask in the glory of their team as they stumble bleary eyed through their day. The Sox beat the Rockies last night to win the World Series in four straight games. Two of them were crushing defeats, while the other two were close.

Now I just have to listen to the Patriots fan jabbering for a few months. I look forward to February when the sports fans in Boston are relatively quiet. No one is all that frothing about the Celtics or the Bruins.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday

OK. Not so much. But, I like the song.

This morning started off quite strange. My son and I have the same model atomic alarm clock. Both of our clocks decided that Daylight Saving Time happened last night. A week early, but probably correct for DST prior to the ridiculous change in the laws regarding DST last year. I don't think we had this issue back in the spring. Then again, I really don't remember.

We realized that all the other clocks in the house, including the cable boxes, were still an hour later than our two lowly clocks. The atomic clock/indoor-outdoor thermometer clock in the kitchen was still right. How many clocks does one household need, any way? So, we realized that our two clocks must have been hard programmed with the old dates for changing the time.

I kept hoping that sometime today the stupid things would sync up with the atomic mother ship, and get things straight. No such luck. So, I manually changed them... clocks that are always supposed to know the correct time, even after the power goes out, because they talk to the atomic mother ship.

Fabulous. Maybe I should just keep some wind-up job and call it a day.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The latest vampire movie

When October comes along I have a tendency to read and watch horror. Because of school commitments, I have kind of fallen down on the job in the reading department. Also, as I've gotten older, I've grown a lot pickier about what kind of horror I'm willing to subject myself to.

My mature sensibilities (ha ha) require that the horror have some sort of supernatural aspect to it. I am not interested in psychos or serial killers or anything entirely plausible to the scientific/logical mind. Real life can be disturbing enough, and I don't need to dwell on something that actually could occur. This still leaves a great deal on the table.

This weekend we rented "White Noise", simply because we'd seen a commercial for "White Noise 2" which intrigued us. We figured we'd better watch the first one before committing to the second one. The first one stars Michael Keaton as a recently widowed man who is still seriously grieving his wife after six months. He discovers a means of seeing the dead through the 'white noise' of off-air radio or television stations. It was interesting and a little bit creepy. Recommended if you like horror.

Tonight, we went to see "30 Days of Night," the latest in vampire flicks. I LOVE vampire flicks and books. This one took a slight step off the path, which was refreshing. The setting is a little town in the way north of Alaska where the sun disappears for 30 days (every vampire's fantasy). Just prior to the setting of the sun for the month, the majority of residents bug-out. And, at the eleventh hour, some odd things start catching the attention of the local sheriff (Josh Hartnett). He and his deputy find a huge pile of cell phones melted on a roadside just outside of town. Then, all the sled dogs in town are killed. Finally, the satellite/telephone substation is destroyed and the caretaker decapitated. Sadly, this last bit happens after the last airplane leaves the airstrip out of town. With 153 residents left in town for the dark month, it's a virtual vampiric buffet.

Overall, "30 Days of Night" is a pretty good horror flick. The vampires are not sympathetic in any way. They don't even speak English, so we get all of their lines in subtitles. My only real quibble with the movie is during the transition from human to vampire, the teeth of a new vampire are pretty different from the human form and there is no spitting out of the useless flat-edged human teeth. Suddenly, they're just this mouthful of fierce canine-like weapons (which is pretty cool - these are not your grandma's vampires).

If you are into horror, particularly vampire stuff, I totally recommend this indulgence.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Can't we just like women for the way they are?

In a new twist a beauty queen is being told to gain weight. Apparently, Miss England has been asked to put some pounds onto her size 4 frame to increase her curve-appeal. While part of me is glad that, for once, a woman is not being told to lose weight to be acceptable, I don't think I like this turn of events either.

Women should be accepted for who they are naturally. I realize that the cosmetic and fashion industries would cease to exist under such circumstances. However, isn't it more important to appreciate a person for who they are on the inside and to encourage self worth by accepting people for how they look naturally? No diets. No surgery. No obscenely high heels. No laser hair removal (like my office mate has been undergoing for the last year).

What a culture we have.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Celebrity justice

When it comes to justice, our children learn that if you are a celebrity, or if you are just plain rich, the system is nicer to you than it is to the rest of the population. Today's evidence: Britney Spears avoids hit-and-run trial. Because the pop princess finally got around to paying for the other driver's damages she doesn't have to deal with the hit and run charge, but they are holding her accountable for driving without a valid license at the time.

Excuse me? Since she has since gotten a license, why don't they let her off on that too?

When I was young and stupid, I bumped a car in the parking lot of my job and didn't get out to look. I did a total of $130 worth of damage to the other car (26 years ago). The next day, the police were standing beside my car in the lot talking to the driver of the other car. I went out and apologized for what I had done. The driver said she only called the police in order to determine who to contact about the damages. I gave her my info, but the police wrote me up with a mandatory court appearance. The other driver offered to appear in my defense, saying how cooperative I was after the fact. Also, I presented the judge with my stellar school history and my previously clean driving record (at the ripe age on 19). I ended up with a lenient $150 fine and four points on my license. And, I DESERVED it.

What positive things does the pop princess have to offer in her defense? Is she a good mother? Does she have a clean and community oriented public persona? Has she complied with the law under other circumstances (hrm... What about oversleeping through drug test appoitments?) Does she have any positive redeeming social value?

*sigh* I don't know why I let this crap bother me, other than the fact that I don't like the message that it sends to our kids. Celebrity and wealth should not exempt you from justice. Neither should political office, but that's a whole BUNCH of other blog posts.