Monday, April 30, 2007

Maybe I should have skipped buying the brownies?

On my way home this evening, I decided to stop by the grocery store to pick up something for dinner. I was also in the mood for a little something from the sinful side of the carbohydrate spectrum. I was thinking that brownies would really hit the spot.

As I pulled into my parking space and shut off the engine, I got a startling and horrific vision from the car to the right of might. An overweight woman (probably not much more overweight than I was two years ago) was sitting in the drivers seat eating a birthday cake. The cake was one of those 8 or 9 inch round, multi-layered, things. She was about half way through the thing. And, she was eating it in hunks with her fingers.

I tried not to stare. However, it was quite shocking.

Note to self: Never give in to that much food craving!

... YIKES !!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Live Free and Drive

In early March of this year, New Hampshire lawmakers introduced a bill which would bar the use of handheld cellphones by drivers. After a similar proposal was struck down five years ago, the state did enact a negligent driving law. While police cannot pull someone over for using a cellphone, eating, or reading the newspaper, a driver can be ticketed for having engaged in a behavior that caused a collision or contributed to obvious reckless behavior. Fines start at $250.

While many feel that the compromise legislation is sufficient, Christine Dwyer of Portsmouth would disagree. Dwyer was badly injured when a 16-year-old girl hit her from behind while talking on a cellphone while driving. There are hundreds of similarly anecdotal stories about the dangers of cellphone use while driving. Cellphones offer several opportunities for distraction; there's dialing and texting as well as simply talking. In November 2006, Justin Contreras veered into oncoming traffic on Route 111 while merely reaching to pick up his ringing cellphone. His passenger and the driver of another vehicle were seriously injured. Contreras was charged with negligent driving and three counts of misdemeanor vehicular assault.

In April 2006, the National Highway Safety Administration released a study which monitored 100 drivers for more than a year with video cameras and sensors. While not the riskiest observed behavior, the study found that the most common distraction was cellphone use. More crashes were attributable to CD handling, reading, and applying makeup. However, such activities happened less frequently and were therefore responsible for fewer total crashes.

Ownership and use of cellular telephones grows every year. Therefore, the number of automobile accidents that will be caused by negligent use of a cellphones by distracted drivers is more-than-likely to increase. While I applaud New Hampshire for being one of only three states to have any sort of general 'distracted driver' law on the books, that law only penalizes a driver after the damage has been done. House Bill 795 could potentially prevent accidents by giving police leeway to cite drivers exhibiting poor cellphone use judgment. While the Bill addresses only one type of driver distraction, the sooner the growing use of cellphones by drivers is addressed, the more lives will be saved.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Some mistakes are hilarious

Many of you will recall the ill conceived publicity stunt a few months back for the movie: Aqua Teen Hunger Force. While most folks in the greater Boston area did not find the prank to be funny, I find the following title flub to be appropriately humorous:

The neat thing about the word "colon" is that it can be taken two ways. I like the anatomical meaning for this one myself.

Friday, April 13, 2007

An appropriate street name

I am often amused by street names. For example, we used to live on High Tor Hill. For those of you who don't know this, a "tor" is a type of hill. It would be like serving an entre at a restaurant called Scaly Salmon Fish. But this one (taken from the Nashua Telegraph), I find both appropriate and enjoyable:

"PSNH wins OK to expand substation
HUDSON – Public Service of New Hampshire is expanding its facility on Power Street to keep pace with increasing electricity demands in the area. The planning board on Wednesday voted to allow PSNH to build a second substation at its Hudson facility, doubling the amount of power the utility"

... assuming that the only thing on Power Street is the PSNH substation. (grin)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

A Christian Nation

Prepare for blasphemy and controvesy.

For the record: I am NOT a Christian (at least not in the traditional/accepted sense). I do not believe in a single "God" (with a capital "G") who is omniscient and concerned with the individual lives of 6 billion people. I especially do not believe that such a being placed "his" "son" on this planet to teach the rest of us how to live and then sacrificed himself to "save" humanity from its own sins.

Ultimately, I guess that I am an agnostic with potential animist leanings. As trite as it may sound, I'm more inclined to buy into the George Lucas view of "The Force" than anything else articulated in the last two thousand plus years. I kind of believe in Karma, only because I've seen both good and bad actions in my life come back to me.

So, let's get down to the title of today's theme. It is inescapable. We live in a Christian nation. Regardless of the placaters and the rallying of the leftists, Christianity might as well be the national religion in the United States of America.

Fine. Go ahead and keep the Fundies from having the Ten Commandments prominently displayed in front of court houses. But, dear friends, don't kid yourselves. We live in a nation which mightily acts and espouses on the Christian religion.

While the evidence surrounds us daily, there are a few "in-your-face" factors that bring it home for me. This country is blatantly driven by materialism and profit. However, virtually every retail outlet in the nation closes on both Christmas and Easter. Most close on Thanksgiving, which isn't a Christian holiday, but is embraced by the vast majority of Americans as a day to be 'thankful' in a spiritual sense (which is typically (at the very least) monotheistic in practice. Really, can you envision an Atheist bowing her head in 'thanks' to the universe for the past year's blessings?

I am not against observing Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving. I am not complaining about the lack of shopping options on said holidays either (after all, there is always the Internet). What I quibble with here is the delusion by my left-leanng brethren that the United States of America is not, and should not be, a Christian nation.

Folks, wake up and smell the coffee. Even if the constitution tried to protect the rights of individuals to practice their own religion, we are a Christian nation. The beauty of the Constitution is that it gives the freedom of its citizens to practice whateve religion they are inspired to follow. However, as a Nation, as a Culture, GET OVER IT:

The United States of America is a Christian Nation

Even if it's Constitution does not dictate or encourage the practice of that specific religion.

Believe me, it gives me no great joy to state this. However, I live with Christianity every day.

I have found that it is in my best interest to understand the basic tenets of Christianity, and to know when the major holidays are (whether they are observed by large organizations or not). I am also trying to familiarize myself with the Bible more deeply.

If I lived in a Muslim country, I would do no less. As an Agnostic (Unitarian Universalist, by label) I know that I am a faith-minority. In order to survive, and not be marginalized, it is always better to understand the beliefs and thinking of the majority. While this country is quite inclusive of all creeds (at this time), you never know when the situation might change.

So, I implore all those who are not followers of the core Christian faith: Honor your own traditions. However, learn as much as you can about theirs. They are the majority. At minimal, the knowledge may improve your stature with a few of them. Then again, you never know when that knowledge may help you understand and work with them, the majority of your fellow Americans.

[ Sorry, I hate discussing religion or politics, but it seemed unavoidable today when everything but the movie theaters were closed. It did remind me where I lived. ]

Friday, April 06, 2007

When exercise is bad, shoot me

Last weekend, I did something to my lower back that made it painful to walk. My right hip became inflamed. Normally, sitting has been my enemy. This week, standing and walking became my enemy.

I broke down and contacted a chiropractor friend of my husband's. I was looking for any kind of fast relief. And, after two visits, I was feeling a lot better. The pain was still there, but I could actually stand solely on my right leg without feeling like screaming. So, the real question arose: Should I go to the gym and do my normal routine on the eliptical machine. His answer was non-commital, encouraging me to do what I felt was best.

OK. Exercise has been my friend this last year. So, I opted to go for it. BAD MOVE!!! The hip and thigh pain are back. Mind you, they are not where they were on Monday, but we are not a happy camper right now.

After I got back from the gym, I had my dinner and my evening cocktail. Then, I got out the ice pack. Tomorrow morning will be the real tell. If it is painful to get out of bed, I'll really know what a bad idea going to the gym was and I won't go tomorrow. If I feel 'better' than I do right now, I may go for the recumbent bike, since that has not appeared to aggravate whatever injury I earned last weekend.

I have really enjoyed adding exercise to my life. Exercise has almost always made me feel better over the last year. Plus, it helps cover my food sins. My weight has been relatively stable over the last eight months. While I wish that I could lose another fifteen to twenty pounds, I know that I would have to give up WAY more than I could maintain in the long term. In the mean time, I really have been enjoying the jones that I get from my cardio workouts.

If this injury ruins that for me, even for just a couple of weeks, I will NOT be a happy campre.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Is it spring yet?

OK. I KNOW that I live in New England and that "spring" officially starts on Mother's Day weekend. However, I wasn't following the weather forecasts, so I was more than a bit peeved when I walked out of work this afternoon to blinding-heavy-wet snow. Apparently, we are destined for at least five inches before morning.


I am beyond tired of this crap. I think one of the major contributing factors is that my place of employment does not recognize snow days unless the city of Boston all but shuts down. So, if I do not feel comfortable driving into work, I have to take a vacation day. And, while I get a fair number of vacation days, I do not want to squander a bunch of them on precipitation. I have already used two days this winter for 'snow'. I am running kind of short on leave right now because I have actually taken a few days off for my own reasons and plan to take a few days off in April, and then again in June, with my family.

It's not really 'horrible' per se. Fortunately, my employer lets you go up to five days in the negative. And, come August, I will be earning vacation at the rate of four weeks a year. So, though I'll be in the hole going into July, I'll climb out of it relatively quickly.

I haven't mentioned this lately, but I think I may be hanging out at The Center for a while. While I still think my boss is a disorganized, self-promoting, witch, I kind of like what I'm doing and the overall environment at The Center. I still am not fond of my hour-long commute. However, I think I am growing used to the down time again, by listening to books.

Right now, I am listening to Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. So far, highly recommended.