Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Even mice can hear voices in their heads

Look out Tom and Sylvester, MIT has engineered a schizophrenic mouse. Apparently one percent of the human population carries a gene that can lead to schizophrenia. Researchers were able to replicate the gene in mice. The brains of these mice appear to be lacking the enzyme calcineurin. The study will now look at how to treat the mice who are missing the enzyme in hopes of developing more effective treatments for humans who suffer the same condition.

Perhaps instead of engineering schizophrenic mice, MIT could have started with gerbils. Every time I've been in a pet store that had a tank full of gerbils, there was at least one who was maniacally trying to dig his way out of through the corner of the enclosure. Perhaps the 'voices' tell them to do this. (wink)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Faulty ATM could cause legal issues for beneficiaries

An ATM in Louisiana that gave out too much money could cost the beneficiaries an encounter with law enforcement. Apparently, the machine spewed out twenty dollar bills in place of five dollar bills for a few days before being reported and fixed. The ATM company plans to track down the beneficiaries and demand the overage back. Darn those electronic records!

None of the beneficiaries of the windfall reported the boon. Someone who worked at the truck stop where the machine was placed noticed all the happy commentary among some of the lucky.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

"Rock Snot", it's serious business

Some genius decided that a new breed of algae infiltrating several New England waterways shall be referred to as Rock Snot.

OK. I understand that this stuff is nasty and that it threatens ecosystems. And, I know that the authorities wanted to make sure they got people's attention and that the warnings about cross contamination from infested waters to uninfested waters needs to be taken seriously. Maybe they figured that giving Didymosphenia geminata a memorable nickname would help. But, Geesh! Rock snot?

Wonder if the person who came up with that had a PhD.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

U.S. fundraiser to feature machine guns

I don't know which way to chime in on this one: U.S. fundraiser to feature machine guns

While I personally think it would be a hoot to pay $25 for the privilege of firing an Uzi for a spell, the laxity of gun control in NH does give cause for pause. Not too long ago I blogged about a tripple homicide that took place at a military surplus store in Conway, NH. Isn't it somehow ironic that an employee and patrons of a military surplus store are gunned down in a state that has virtually no gun control laws?

Here's a telling quote from the Yahoo article on the gun-fun fundraiser: "The state does not require buyers to obtain a handgun license or undergo safety training before buying a handgun."

I am not against gun ownership. However, I do believe in some form of gun control. To me, it's right up there with requiring people to get a driver's license. If you want to own and operate something that has the power to take away the life of another human being, you must prove to society that you understand how to operate that something in a responsible manner. And, just like there are people who are not allowed to drive through their disrespect of the driving laws, or due to a physical or mental issue that would prevent them from operating a motor vehicle in a safe and responsible manner, I believe that society has the right to judge if someone is fit to own a gun.

Not a difficult concept.

Still. $25 for the opportunity to go shoot an Uzi? (hee hee ... too bad there'd be so many Republicans there. I'd be uncomfortable, and I'd have a gun. Bad combination. JOKING!!!)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tech sector boom?

I've been hearing a lot lately about a supposed boom in the technology sector. Since I am definitely in the market for a new gig, I would welcome this situation if it were the case.

While there do appear to be a fair number of positions for MS Windows wonks, the pickings for jobs which I am qualified remain slim. It kind of makes me feel like I don't have any relevant skills. However, I read the IT Security feeds and can see that my skills are definitely needed. Apparently, opportunities north of Boston in the field are still kind of thin.

I saw a few postings in the last several days that I wanted to apply for. Unfortunately, both had specific product-based experience requirements that I did not meet.

Time and again, I keep running up against this type of thinking. I have been a hiring manager. And, while it is great to find someone who knows how to administer a particular vendor's product (which you have invested in), I have been much happier hiring an adaptive generalist who have shown great aptitude for learning on the fly and delivering. Just because you have Product X in place today doesn't mean that you will still be using it eighteen months down the road. If you hire someone who is primarily and expert in Product X, what are you going to do with them when you ditch Product X for Product W?

Trust me. It happens all the time. And, more often than not, the expert in Product X is very narrowly skilled in said product.

I am also not a huge fan of candidates with certifications on their resumes. Great. You know how to take a test. But, can you solve a problem that you've never heard of before? How are you at devising a solution with dissimilar technologies in a heterogenous network?

*Sigh* I shouldn't fret too much over this stuff. Eventually, the right job comes along to rescue me from the one I've developed issues with.

Right now my issues are that my direct boss is a poorly organized, power hungry, ass covering, pathetic communicator, with sociopathic tendencies, compounded by an hour long commute that is destroying my back, and an organization with no integrated project management or strategic planning (to speak of). So, me? Feeling productive? I think not.

Repeat after me: Lottery tickets. pointless? of course. but ... until the tech sector boom rolls my way, I think it's close to all that I have to hold on to.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

career dilemma

So. I stumbled on another one of those 'pefect' carreer announcements this weekend. The position is in NH, albeit 65 minutes from my house. It is in health care. However, they seem to want someone who is focused on regulatory compliance, and keeping up with that shifting beast. Also, they're REAL keen on someone who has certificiations in the computing security area.

I am an in-the-trenches security perspective individual. Could I give them what they need: Probably. Do apply?

The commute is a bit longer, albeit that it IS in NH and I'd no longer have to deal with MA taxes.

THe lottery tikcets did not pan out thisweekend. Guess I need to entertain the option.

Reading marathon exhaustion

Our Harry Potter books arrived yesterday afternoon. We got two copies. One copy for me and one for my son ... my husband knew that we'd finish quickly and he'd get one of them before the weekend was out. As of ten minutes ago, he could take ownership of either. My son finished before lunch time. I was the slow one.

I am so sore. With my various chronic pain issues, I don't do well staying in one position for very long. However, I refused to let pain get in the way of finishing this book. I stayed up until 1 a.m. I got up at 8 a.m. I took minor breaks for meals, hygiene, a few odd household chores, and seven hours of sleep. Otherwise, I've pretty much had my nose in the book for the last twenty four hours.

No spoilers here. There were a lot of sad parts, but some happy parts as well. By the end I really felt like crying, not just over plot points, but that it's over. Do I regret rushing through the experience? No. I couldn't have slowed down if I tried. And now I am SO tired.

Thank you J.K. Rowling for ten years of magic, wonder, and drama. And thank you for making reading popular. In it's first 24 hours, the book sold 8.3 million copies according to Scholastic. And, here's a really startling figure: the book generated more revenue this weekend than the Order of the Phoenix did in its opening weekend in the movie theater.


Friday, July 20, 2007

From the files of "Be Careful of What You Wish For"

Ever since last week's run in with the psycho boss, I have been contemplating taking a mental health day. I had myself talked into it several nights. Then, I would wake up the next morning and decide that I really had too much to do to stay home and that I really should only stay home when I felt truly miserable.

Well, apparently, the Mental Health Fairies (um... Goblins?) were listening. This morning I woke up with a raging headache, plus my left hip was in truly excruciating pain. The message that I left for my boss probably sounded pained and confused, a fair reflection of my state of mind this morning.

After driving my son to his camp, I discovered that he had left his lunch on the kitchen counter. I briefly entertained the notion of driving it over there. Then I thought better of it, and went back to bed. He used someone's cell phone to call me at eleven, to beg for his lunch. I was a bit better at the time, so I dressed for the gym and took him his lunch. The workout was nice. The soak in the hot tub was nicer. About twenty minutes after getting back home, the headache came back with a vengeance.

So, my so-called Mental Health Day has turned into a true day of discomfort. Hopefully, I'll bounce back overnight so I can at least enjoy my Saturday ... and my anticipated delivery, by the U.S.P.S., of my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Side note: We watched an episode of Doctor Who this evening which made mention of the Harry Potter books. The Doctor even jokingly mentioned the final book, "Wait till you read book seven!" Especially cool since the episode was produced about a year ago in the U.K.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


The latest thinking on my back issues from my physical therapist is that I am apparently A Duck. (grin)

My external rotation far exceeds my internal rotation (at my hips). This is why I find crossing my legs, sitting Indian style, and tucking my foot under my butt on a chair, to be more comfortable than putting my feet flat on the floor. I also have a tendency to stand with my toes pointing out. quack

He is encouraging me to do some different exercises. But, my primary homework for this week is to try to stand with my feet less splayed outward. He doesn't want me to try to stand with my feet absolutely parallel at this point. He thinks it would cause my body to rebel. Plus, he doesn't think that I could actually pull it off for very long.

Maybe my duckishness partly explains my propensity for waddling when I walk. Or maybe that's just my oversized bum? (hee. hee.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

We only hurt the ones we love

I love books. The last time we moved, we had over one hundred and thirty boxes of books. That was after we donated about twenty boxes.

I have recently begun playing with a new (for me) art form: Altered Books. The primary basis of this art form is to take a hard cover book and rip at least half the pages out, glue the remaining pages together in chunks of three or four. And then, to use paint, paste, and other collage-like techniques to express yourself.

I tried this for the first time this weekend at a workshop run by a friend from church. After I got over my initial reluctance, ripping pages out of the book was kind of fun. So was the gluing and the painting of the combined pages. I'm not sure where this is going, but the journey is enjoyable all the same.

UPDATE> Another link to explain the art form: Altered Book Artists

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Iraqi prime minister says U.S. troops can leave any time

While running errands yesterday, I accidentally caught a portion of The President's speech about the state of The Surge in Iraq. I agreed with his assessment that a pullout of troops now would lead to a humanitarian disaster. However, I see this as nearly unavoidable in any circumstance.

We contributed to the mess in Iraq. Yes, we toppled a totalitarian regime. However, we did not take into account the festering sectarianism that was being kept in check by that regime. Sadly, one group was mercilessly ruling the others. Then again, there are at least a dozen other countries on the planet living under similar circumstance.

We have tried to remake the country in an image of our choosing. The Iraqi's, including the government we helped to put into power, are frustrated with us. The prime minister recently remarked that U.S. troops can leave anytime they want.

My favorite, and most telling, quote on how the Iraqi's feel about us comes from Shiite lawmaker Hassan al-Suneid, "the situation looks as if it is an experiment in an American laboratory [judging] whether we succeed or fail."

Do I feel like I have the answers to this mess? NO! Do I feel for the Iraqi people? Yes. Do I think Al Qaeda has a leg up in Iraq? Yes. Do I think we have a chance at eliminating that edge by staying in Iraq several more years? NO!

While I think we could make some progress in eliminating some Al Qaeda cells in Iraq over the next six months, I think that staying much beyond that will be counter productive both to the Iraqi government and to us. If the Iraqi government cannot stand on it's own by this time next year, they will be seen as nothing more than a puppet of the U.S. (some already see them that way). In addition, the longer we stay, the more hated we become by the common Iraqi and by the rest of the world.

How can we claim to be proponents of freedom and democracy if we won't stand aside and let a sovereign nation run it's own affairs? If we don't think they're capable of running their own affairs, who are we to step in and say that it is our job to bolster their government for years? Is that really what democracy is about?

Here's an idea: Hold a special election in Iraq, a one question popular referendum: "Do you want U.S. troops out of your country by Summer 2009, regardless of your own government's ability to deliver democratic institutions or it's own ability to protect your safety?" Yes or No?

Ask the Iraqi people what they want. Let democracy decide. If we don't support that, then we don't support democracy.

UPDATE: The Iraqi prime minister's office now says his remarks were misconstrued. Sure they were. And I'm sure that no one from our Administration visited him or (diplomatically) threatened him in any way either. Geesh.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Just for Internet Geeks

This past week, Mozilla announced a security vulnerability in Firefox (ok, they say that the flaw is with Internet Explorer). The basics of the flaw are this: If you use Internet Explorer to go to an Interent site which is infected with the exploit, and you have Firefox installed, Internet Explorer will use a vulnerability in Firefox to exploit your computer. OK. While technically it is Firefox that exploits your computer, it cannot be done without Internet Explorer (Thank you, Microsoft).

All that said, here is the REAL humor in the situation. The head of security for Mozilla has an intriguing name: Window Snyder.

Seems to me that Window is working for the wrong company, huh? But, wait. Window USED TO work for Microsoft. How amusing THAT must have been, no?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Candy from the strange

Yesterday, I was joking around with some guys at work. They were trying to convince me that if I really wanted them to help me that I should bribe them with cookies occasionally. One of them remarked that my boss sometimes brings them cookies. Without missing a beat, I countered, "Did you learn nothing from Hansel and Gretel?"

Since my boss's reputation as a psycho preceded my joining the organization, I was rewarded with the sound of many sputtering giggles.

From the files of "Do as I say not as I do"

I think the headline says it most succinctly: Liquor official resigns after arrest for DUI

Not quite as bad as a Fundy minister being caught in a motel room with a cross-dressing prostitute, but ...

Want to build a dirty bomb?

Do like the GAO did. Form a bogus company and get the NRC to give you a license to buy nuclear materials. The process to build the dirty bomb would contaminate you personally, most likely resulting in your death. However, if you're a terrorist, you probably won't care. Second, the purchase would be expensive and would only likely contaminate an area the size of a city block. An NRC official argued that it would be cheaper and more effective to blow up a train containing chlorine or other contaminants.

Maybe. But the psychological and economic damage that could be caused by detonating a dirty bomb in certain locations would be devastating. Think evacuation. Think quarantine and decontamination. Think about areas where lots of people gather or areas people have to pass through to get to work. I don't have to go too far here. I'll let your imagination do the rest. Besides, I don't need the FBI knocking on my door for suggesting where terrorists could place such a bomb. After all, most terrorists are uneducated morons with low intellect and couldn't figure such things out on their own. ... except for maybe the ones who are doctors.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bad days at work lead to irrational thoughts

Everyone has had one of those days at the office where they fantasized about THE exit. Sometimes THE exit involves winning the lottery and telling your supervisor to go screw herself. Sometimes THE exit involves stumbling on that perfect job that is ten minutes from your house, getting it, and THEN telling your boss to go screw herself. Sometimes the fantasy isn't about THE exit at all. Sometimes it's about seeing your pain-in-the-butt boss finally getting called on the carpet for all of her egocentric dysfunctional disorganized non-productive behavior, and getting the demotion she royally deserves. Sometimes you merely have this fantasy of restless natives kidnapping your boss and boiling her in oil while offering you appetizers.

Sadly, I had one of those REALLY crappy days, and none of those fantasies occurred. My psycho boss, who has been behaving herself for months, chastised me in front of seven other people today for not doing my job (um ... inaccurate) while whining about how much stress she is under (unprofessional). She then later mentioned to me that if she seemed stressed over the next few weeks and said things that seemed harsh that I shouldn't take them personally.

Heh. Yeah. Sure. (I didn't say it. But I thought it: "Bite me")

I bought liquor and lottery tickets on the way home. Go figure.

Here's what should happen to that Certegy employee

Consultant Sentenced To 5 Years In Prison For Stealing Customer Information Not only because I'm vindictive, but it seems like a parallel situation.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Your data will be compromised

Over the last year, I have read at least a dozen stories of lost or stolen personal data. Data that could be used to steal people's identities, ruining people's credit and causing tremendous grief. Most of these stories started with the physical loss or theft of a laptop or a hard disk. Sometimes, the cause was an electronic break-in (as in the case of TJ Maxx). And, in a few cases, the culprit was an insider who willfully stole or misused the data.

Yesterday, I received a letter from Certegy informing me that I was one of 2.3 MILLION people whose financial data was compromised by one of their employees. The employee sold the data, which included name, address, telephone number, account number, expiration date (in the case of credit/debit cards) and possibly transactional data and birth date. Per the letter I received, "The data was sold to a data broker who in turn sold a subset of that data to a limited number of direct marketing organizations."

Also per the letter I received, "Certegy provides check authorization services to U.S. retail merchants and also provides certain credit-card related services to the gaming industry." For me, it turns out that it was my checking account information.

Certegy urged me to monitor my account and credit report for any unusual activity. They suggested that I put a Fraud Alert on my report, which the three major credit services offer for free for 90 days. This would alert me if anyone were trying to open an account in my name. They also offered that I may want to put a Credit Freeze on my account which would prohibit the agencies from sharing my credit information with anyone without my consent. The alert lasts for 90 days, but Certegy suggests that I closely monitor my accounts for two years. Lovely.

The company has said that it has filed a civil suit against the employee and has authorized the seizure of computing equipment from the data broker. They claim to be in the process of reclaiming the data from the other companies it was subsequently sold to.

Yeah. Good luck with that. A marketing firm's relationship with a mailing list is like a toddler's relationship with a cold virus. By now, the data has probably been sold and resold at least a dozen times. It's part of the way these firms make money is by reselling their contact lists.

As they suggested, I have put a fraud alert on my credit report. And, I suppose I will be more watchful of my accounts.

As I noted all the stories coming out in the last year, it never occurred to me that I would be one of the unlucky victims in one of these stories. However, we live in an age where our data is everywhere. Someone is bound to lose it, sell it, or steal it, at some point.

Get ready for it. It WILL eventually happen to you. Maybe it already has, and you just haven't gotten your fateful letter yet. After all, it just did happen to 2.3 million people.

Monday, July 09, 2007

They still think the law doesn't apply to them

Bush denies Congress access to aides. In doing so, the White House invoked "executive privelege", though they offered to allow the two aides to testify, unrecorded, in a private setting. Huh? So that anything they say could not be used to subpeona anyone else or to prosecute anyone?

Yeah. I do forsee a "Contempt of Congress" coming out of this exercise. Maybe those impeachment articles won't be far behind. I do believe "obstruction of justice" is grounds.

Man Charged With Robbery Disguised As Tree - Yahoo! News

While the news can often be depressing, it can also be hilarious: Man Charged With Robbery Disguised As Tree - Yahoo! News

A man trying to disguise his identity by dressing as a tree rob a branch of Citizens Bank in Manchester. Due to an anonymous tip, the police quickly got to the root of the problem. The police tried unsucessfully to utilize a K-9 unit (hoping the dog would 'mark' the suspect once it found him or merely bark). Eventually, they found him at home. I wonder if they followed a trail of leaves.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Murderers: Live Free. Victims: Die.

I have always been a social liberal with tendencies towards fiscal moderateness. However, I've always been kind of a hard liner on Capital Punishment. So, the fact that Michael Woodbury killed three people while attempting to rob an Army surplus store in North Conway has no chance of getting him the death penalty, has me a litle peeved. See: Union Leader - Capital offenses: Seeking justice in Conway - Sunday, Jul. 8, 2007 The worse this yokel is going to get is life in prison, on the taxpayers dime, while his victims families are constantly tormented with their loved-one's killer's continued existence.

I can understand the accidental shooting death of one person during a robbery. However, in my book, if you blow away multiple unarmed people to cover up your crime, you had time to think.

NH has had death penalty back on the books since 2001. No one has received the punishment since then, and there is no one in death row waiting to receive the punishment.

In NH, it's Criminals "Live Free" and victims "Die".

Postal ills and solutions

Over the last several years, there have been numerous proposals to restructure or totally reinvent our country's postal system. Our future postal system will probably be vastly different from the system that we have today. Read Will the postal system as we know it be stamped out?

I would postulate that majority of the mail that is handled by the U.S. Postal Service falls into two categories: advertisements and periodicals. At least that's what it seems like by reviewing the snail mail that arrives at our house. Most of what arrives in people's mail boxes ends up in their trash cans in less than a week's time (if not on the same day it arrives). What about the fuel used to deliver the mail? What is this doing to our environment? What is the production and disposal of so much paper doing to our Earth?

With the costs of delivering mail continuing to rise due to growth of delivery points and increasing fuel costs, a number of solutions have been offered to keep costs in check. Privatizing the entire system or outsourcing portions of it may both seem viable solutions, neither directly addresses those two factors or the coincidental environmental issues (more paper in the system and more fuel burned to deliver it).

Here are some of the solutions that I like:

  1. Stop offering "bulk mail" rates. The "bulk" is killing us. If businesses put a lot of mail into the system, they should pay at least what it actually costs to deliver it.
  2. Allow addressees to "Return to Sender" any unwanted unopened mail, and charge the original sender for the full cost of return postage. This would financially inspire businesses to remove addresses from their mailing lists. Official government mail would be exempt.
  3. Stop delivering regular U.S.P.S. mail for free. Everyone would have to pick up their mail at centralized locations (the local post office or p.o. box location). These locations would provide convenient recycling bins, as well as "Return to Sender" drop boxes (see #2 above). Anyone wanting their mail delivered to their door would pay a periodic fee for the privilege (and the fuel and personnel cost) of having their mail delivered to their door. The elderly, disabled, and certain lower-income groups would be have their home delivery subsidized.
  4. Treat periodicals as third class mail. Deliver it as low priority and charge its delivery by weight. If a publisher wants their product delivered more quickly, they would pay first class postage, including being charged by weight.
  5. Charge appropriately for first class mail delivery. The .41 we pay now does not cover the cost of delivering a piece of mail to your door. The Federal Government is subsidizing the Postal Service. (If you don't believe me consider the recent bill to bail out the U.S.P.S. health care fund.) Privatizing the Service would put an end to that, but so would treating the Service as a fully self-funded self-sustaining enterprise within the Federal Government infrastructure.
  6. Continue to offer subsidized mail rates to non-profits. However, they too should be subject to the full costs of the "Return to Sender" service I postulated in #2 above. This would encourage non-profits to carefully vet their mailing lists too.
  7. End Saturday delivery as a free service of the U.S.P.S. Post offices could still be open on Saturday mornings for pick-ups and counter service. However, mail should only be delivered on Saturdays as a premium service that the sender pays for.

While businesses and non-profits would argue that some of the above solutions would cause them great difficulty and expense, I believe they all need to be considered. Would these 'solutions' increase the incidence of unwanted electronic communications (spam) and the nuisance of telemarketing? Yes. But, as a nation, we are also in the process of addressing these issues. Businesses spend a great deal of money on mass advertising that usually has a low return. Perhaps it is time for all those folks with Marketing degrees to show how useful their degrees can be. I'm sure there are a number of bright stars in the field that can offer creative ways to reach fertile target audiences for specific product and service offerings.

In addition, the above policies would encourage businesses and consumers to utilize electronic and automated payment to a much higher degree.

We live in a great country. Our postal system is one of the best in the world. However, we can still have a great postal system without fiscal and environmental waste. We need to stop driving the postal equivalent of a Mercedes SUV and start driving a hybrid.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Much of US favors Bush impeachment

Much of US favors Bush impeachment: poll - Yahoo! News

Considering my previous two posts this evening, this one definitely has my vote. However, I don't think the House has enough backbone to do this right now. Besides, it would just be for show. W needs to screw up publically big time again. Then, maybe, the Senate will be the ones who take action. And, and impeachment by them means he'd be done. On the other hand, they need to get rid of The Angler first. No one wants him to be president if W is booted.

Think Progress � Bush Administration To ‘Skim Off Border Patrol Agents’ For Duty In Iraq

Think Progress � Bush Administration To ‘Skim Off Border Patrol Agents’ For Duty In Iraq

The left side of W's face doesn't know what the right side is saying. Illegal immigration is a huge issue for his administration. Securing our borders is another huge issue. Both issues are so huge that we have to spend megabucks building a pointless fence across a fraction of our border with Mexico. However, W is willing to pull the old "Rob Peter to pay Paul" ploy by gutting our domestic Border Patrol to secure Iraq's borders with it's neighbors.

Special, no?

Court rejects ACLU domestic spying suit

This ruling just encourages the administration in its blatant disregard for the law and its totally toddler-like misconception that the world should and will bend to it's egocentric whims: Court rejects ACLU domestic spying suit - Yahoo! News

I think I'm going to be sick.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

It's not just me

My teenage son is spending a couple of weeks with his aunt's family and his paternal grandparents. This is our arrangement every summer for at least a few weeks. As his parents, we simply ask that he call us each evening to check in. In the past this has been an issue. After the last few calls, I almost feel like telling him not to call. He sounds totally bored and put-upon for having to make the call.

When I related my sadness over his demeanor to my sister-in-law via email today, she made me feel much better. Typically, my son is very pleasant and ingratiatingly helpful to other adults. She mentioned in one email about the good impression he was leaving on the neighbors:

He was a big help last night over at our neighbors house -- where we went for dessert (K and G'ma made brownies and angel food cake yesterday). K played downstairs with neighbor-kid-G and cousin-M while the adults were on the porch eating our dessert and drinking wine to stay warm. Our neighbors love K -- saying he is the nicest kid......I heard your voice saying to me, "he is nice to everyone else...." and I had to smile.

However, here is snippet from an email she sent to me later today that comforted me (in a sort of sick and twisted way):

I had to keep on him yesterday to put his shoes near the door instead of in the living room where M (the 1 yr old) could lick them (ick!). He finally remembered (so I thought) towards the end of the day. When I said thank you for doing this, he said he just didn't want to hear me yell at him from across the room to put his shoes in the right place...so he did it right without being told. He said there was really no incentive to do things right in the first place, but he wanted to avoid having to get up from playing his video game to go and do this....go figure!

Thanks, Sis, for reminding me to enjoy my teenage-free time!!!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Unmitigated gaul!

Yesterday, President George W. Bush showed everyone that he truly believes that his administration is above the law. While he did not pardon Scooter Libby for his role in the CIA leak, he erased his sentence. Libby will not have to spend even a single day in prison for his conviction.

The message here is pretty clear: The George W. Bush Administration is above the law.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Back from vacation

I know that it's been over a week since I last posted. I neglected to note that I would be in western Virginia (as opposed to West Virginia) from 6/24 thru 6/29. I have been totally flat out the last couple of weeks getting ready for this trip, dealing with my class work, and a frenetic pace at my job.

School is now over. I should be getting an "A" in the class. However, the mercurial poorly communicating witch, who is my instructor, may figure out a way to screw me out of it. The worse she could get away with is a "B", but that would be JUST WRONG. (I'll get over it. See "I could live with a B".

Prepping for vacation was stressful because it was my in-law's 50th wedding anniversary and we were making a huge commemorative scrapbook for them as a surprise present. It was my idea to do it. Unfortunately, I didn't come up with the idea until about four weeks before the trip. Also, since it was my idea and I had the most scrapbooking experience, I was appointed 'project manager'. (grin) We all did what we could before the trip. I made several layouts and shared them with the other families so they knew the direction we were probably headed in. Then, we spent each evening working on the scrapbook, presenting it to the Happy Couple on the last night that everyone was going to still be around. I spent several of the days gathering items for the book as well. So, basically, I had very little actual vacation.

We did go to a water park one day, which was very pleasant. I even got on some water slides, that I was nervous about considering my chronic back issues. I loved the water slides. I could have moved into the water park (particularly since it had three separate hot tubs). The final celebratory night, we had great BBQ from the local smoke house. We also were treated to 80 minutes of home movies covering the early years of my in-laws relationship and marriage. It was kind of interesting. However, my back doesn't like staying in one spot for too long and I was kind of keyed up to see how they were going to like the scrapbook. No worries. They loved it.

Now that we're home, I've been unpacking and finally organizing all my craft supplies in my new craft space down in the basement (See "Spring cleaning is very liberating"). Sadly, I felt compelled to shop for some craft-related supplies yesterday. However, last night I had a blast painting a chipboard storage container that I bought to organize some of my supplies. Today, I went to the Dollar Tree and went nuts buying really cheap creative edging scissors, cheap letter stickers, and some cheap buckets for paint storage. Since we have two cats, I have to make sure that all my supplies are in covered containers, or else they could disappear. One of my younger cat's nicknames is The Thief of Baghdad (He particularly likes to steal things that were left out in convenient-to-carry Ziploc bags.)

Today, our son left for a two week trip down to his Aunt's house. He'll be an assistant camp counselor. The big bonus for him is he'll be out from under our thumb for two weeks. The big bonus for us is that we won't have to monitor and nag him for two weeks. Everybody wins!

The only stress that has not really abated is work. I get to revisit that nut house tomorrow. I'm in the midst of a high profile, high stress, project for the next five to six weeks. ... Yay?!?!

Oh, and as an added stress, remember my ever-present back issues? Well, I have a 'procedure' on the horizon to deal with a portion of the issue. I'm supposed to be getting a deep tissue injection into my piriformis (aka, my butt) to deal with some tenderness and issues with my right leg. The procedure is performed under local anesthetic with the assistance of an x-ray. It supposedly smarts, big time. Yup. Really looking forward to having a very long needle jammed in my arse while medical professionals look on and discuss where said needle is in relation to some of my inflammation. July 10th, if you're wondering. No sleep without chemical assistance on July 9th.

So, I'm guessing I have posted more than enough to make up for ten days of absence. Think happy thoughts. I may have to spend a lot of time in my basement this summer to keep up my sanity.