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 Ravensbrück 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!