Wednesday, January 30, 2008

An example of why health care costs are so high

Over the last month or so, I have heard of a number of people who had come down with the same slow progressing miserable cold virus that I suffered through (which I am almost finally done with, after three weeks). Today, my husband was at work and he realized that he really couldn't concentrate and was starting to feel extremely exhausted. So, he called our doctor and made an appointment. (I usually don't call the doctor unless there's something terribly acute going on, or if I've had something for a while that I can't shake or it seems to be getting worse.) He stopped home for a nap before his appointment and relayed his situation to me before I went off for my job interview.

When I got home from my interview, he was back in bed again. I asked him how his appointment went. Our doctor told him that he wants my husband to see a neurologist and to have a CAT scan.


I could understand if my husband had been having these symptoms for a week or more, or if he was displaying other profound neurological symptoms (loss of coordination, tingling, uneven pupils, etc.), but he's not displaying any such thing. I'm no doctor, but I would not be surprised in the least if he's just showing the early signs of coming down with the slow onset virus that I had. I spend about four days been REALLY tired before I had any other truly tangible symptoms.

So, my husband is going to see a neurologist for, what is more than likely, a cold!

It's hard to imagine going to work tomorrow

I took today off to go to on a job interview. I was really stressed about it, but it went very well. It's not a slam dunk, since I don't have some of the certifications that they were looking for. However, the interview ran half an hour longer than they had scheduled, and could have gone longer had the interviewers not already been late for their next appointments. Good sign, I think.

So, I have a couple of meetings and a back log of work to face tomorrow. Wah! Me? Bad attitude? ... yup.

Monday, January 28, 2008

You can never be too rich or too thin

The last few months have been tough on my waistline. I have a tendency to eat (and drink) through stress. Regardless of my botched New Year's resolutions, I have yet to turn over a new leaf and get back on my cliched wagon. Hopefully, after my interview on Wednesday, I'll be able to get back in gear.

My blog friend, Dr Momentum has a great periodic feature on his blog called "Would you rather". In that vein, would you rather:

  • Be stupendously wealthy, such that you and yours would never have to even think about money for several generations to come, even if you just stuffed it all under the mattress and didn't bother trying to earn anything from investments, or

  • Be fabulously healthy while being able to eat whatever you wanted without having to worry about becoming overweight or out of shape

There are days when this is a tough call for me. I really do LOVE to eat. But, I think I'd have to take the cash. The stupendously wealthy can always waddle off to a fat farm for a few weeks if they've gone overboard.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Good ridance, and good bye

While this may not seem very charitable of me, this news made me smile and say "It's about time." Suharto is yet another example of a despot's rule being supported and extended by the West. While his wresting of power from his predecessor, Sukarno was seen as an improvement, neither man could be seen as a humanitarian in the treatment of his own people.

I haven't looked too closely to see how many evil rulers we are currently supporting in the name of "democracy" (read: capitalism). How much longer will we continue to support the likes of Pervez Musharraf, a man who took power in a coup d'etat and then suspended the constitution when the Pakistani Supreme Court challenged his reelection?

While the opposition may not be pro-United States, do we support leaders who support us, regardless of their own actions within their borders? Or, do we support the ideals that we say are so dear to us?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Assuage hunger by testing your vocabulary knowledge

Care to test your vocabulary knowledge while addressing the issue of world hunger? Visit For every word you get right the site will donate 20 grains of rice to hunger relief.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Who needs a writers' strike to watch reruns

I admit it, we watch far too much TV in our house. However, we don't watch a lot of major network television. Though we are beginning to go into withdraw over "Heroes". And, I'm already missing "Moonlight" and (yes, I like it:) "The Bionic Woman".

Some of the shows we watch are spring-summer start-ups: "Rescue Me" and "The 4400".

"ER" might have a couple of episodes left in the can for February sweeps. And, it looks like we'll be getting some "Lost" shortly as well, and maybe some "Battlestar Galactica". I wonder if "The Riches" will be back soon.

That said, we've decided to start watching "Monk" by renting the DVDs from season one. If we make it through the entire season, we may start watching "House" next.

Plus, we are fans of BBCA. You know, the British writers are not on strike. "Torchwood" episodes are showing up on my TiVo queue again. Maybe we'll get some "Robin Hood" and "Doctor Who" before summer as well.

Since we have digital cable from Comcast, we have a boatload of channels to surf and queue from for TiVo. (Food/Travel/History/Martial Arts) Plus we get at least a hundred of "on demand" movies to pick from, for free, each month. Then, we rent a movie from Blockbuster once a week or so.

TiVo also affords us the ability to record reruns of show episodes that we have seen before so we can watch them again. Recently I recorded and re-watched a couple episodes of "Friends".

Now, the truly dirty little secret... We own over 600, yes SIX HUNDRED, movies on DVD and VHS. And yes, we watch movies that we have seen numerous times, over, and over, again. ("Timeline", "The Stand", "Dante's Peak", "Snatch", "Better Off Dead", "Shawn of the Dead", "The Day After Tomorrow", and so on)

I TRULY sympathize with the writers. However, my entertainment patterns have really not changed much because of the strike. Sorry folks, but I guess I'm not really your demographic any way.

But, hey, guess what? When we went to the movie theater on Saturday night it was a lot more crowded than the quality of the movies should have warranted. So, I'm guessing that the movie distributors are probably benefiting a bit from the lack of new programming on the tube.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Making Lists

I am a (virtually) compulsive list maker. I have been making lists since I first learned how to write. My favorite, childhood, materialistic, list-making endeavor was making my Christmas wishlist. (I was in love with the Sears Wish Book, and eagerly awaited its arrival out our house each fall.)

Sometimes, I make the same lists twice in the same day, when I don't remember where I left the first version of the list.

I make lists in a vain attempt to organize my chaotic life. Making lists gives me a false sense of control. And, oh, how I like to be in control.

When I got to graduate school and discovered the wonders of databases, I fell in love with that technology. After all, databases are the perfect means for organizing lists (as are spreadsheets, and tables).

Sasha Cagen keeps a blog about her lists. The blog goes beyond the "To Do" aspect of its name. She recently published a book of her favorite lists. As part of her book promotion tour, she's holding List Slams which sound like Beatnick poetry readings for the list-obsessed. Makes me wish I lived in the SF area just to attend one.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

New comforter inspection

Our cat, Caboose, thinks that our king sized bed is his. My husband put a new comforter on the bed this morning, and Boose needed to give it a thorough inspection. Fortunately, it looks like it passes muster just fine.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More reasons to love the Lone Star State

Why does this not surprise me: Texas is the biggest carbon polluter.

I need to call my relatives and Texas and apologize for ragging on their home state. Maybe I can do some research and find some reasons to applaud the place?

Would an ELF really visit Texas?

If you were an extraterrestrial life form, and decided to explore Earth, where would you go? Apparently, Texas is the hot destination for traveling aliens.

I wonder what the attraction could be. Do they think Texas is representative of the rest of the planet? Maybe they're joyriding redneck-like aliens that feel some sort of kinship with the small Texas town they've been frequenting. Or maybe, they knew it would be the perfect town to buzz since the rest of the world would never believe the stories coming out of a small town in a state that gave us our current genius of a world leader. Generally, the folks who claim to have seen a UFO or claim to have been abducted by aliens are not well-respected intellectuals or authority figures. The aliens seem to prefer the other end of the human demographic spectrum. Guess they found a high concentration in Stephenville, Texas.

Here is my favorite quote from the story:
teve Allen, a 50-year-old pilot, was at a campfire with friends and says the object was a mile long and half a mile wide. "I don't know if it was a biblical experience or somebody from a different universe or whatever but it was definitely not from around these parts," Allen said.

... not from around these parts. Undoubtedly.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Where did you think you would be now when you were 25?

Continuing a meme from Barbie2be's site: Name five things in your life now that you would not have imagined when you were 25.

Where was my little brain 20 years ago, anyway?

  1. When I turned 25, I swore I saw no reason to be married. The following year I started dating my current husband. We just celebrated our 18th anniversary.

  2. I never would have imagined that I'd be happily living in NH. I'd just returned to the greater DC area after being exiled (IMO) to Philadelphia for graduate school. I couldn't wait to get back 'home'. There had been so much that I had missed about the area when I was gone. However, after we got married, my husband and I started weighing the benefits of the area against the frustrations. We decided to remake our life in NH. While not without its own frustrations, NH suits us on many important levels.

  3. Like Barbie2be, I never imagined that my mom wouldn't be around now. She passed away over ten years ago. I know she's annoyed that she was not able to fully enjoy the show of me parenting a teenager. I think she really wanted to sit back and see my misdeeds revisited back upon myself. (Mom: He's not as bad as I was ... yet)

  4. Again, like Barbie2be, I don't think I would have pictured myself as the perpetual student. After I earn my current (second) B.S. degree, I'm thinking of going for a second Masters degree (either in Public Health or Health Care Administration). Neither of which would have occurred to me at the age of 25.

  5. TiVo. While the technology is not that huge of a stretch beyond my VCR from 1987, I never envisioned the convenience and addictive nature of being able to 'shop' for TV shows, or 'subscribe' to them before they aired, so that I would have catalog of things to watch when I felt like watching them. Best invention in the last 25 years, IMO.

What's in YOUR life now that you would never have imagined when you were 25 years old?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Really, it's not the snow!

I've had a cold for the last few days. It came on very very slowly. I called in sick on Wednesday, but went in on Thursday and Friday though I felt worse. Now the dratted thing has sucked the life out of my weekend. I haven't left the house today, and don't plan to. I seriously doubt that I am miraculously going to feel well enough tomorrow morning to go to work. I have a few work-related things that I really want to accomplish tomorrow, which I can probably do from here. But mostly, I think I'll be doing a lot of resting.

That said, it is supposed to snow tonight and tomorrow. We're due for about eight inches I think. Since I live over thirty miles away from my office, when I call in sick tomorrow, everyone is going to assume it's because of the snow. I am a noted 'snow wuss'. Tough cookies. I really am miserably ill.

Hubby is out of town for the weekend. He's supposed to be flying into Boston tomorrow afternoon. Won't that be fun ... not.

Everyone take your vitamins and drive safely!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Too grumpy not to work

OK. I really wasn't THAT grumpy. With the amount of deliverables on my plate, I didn't feel like I could afford to call in sick again, though I was still exhausted, and my throat felt worse than yesterday. Oh well, c'est la vie.

Last Friday, I got my boss's boss to agree that more senior engineers needed to be trained on the product we are about to deploy before we go live. On Monday, I got and forwarded him a price quote for a local offering of the training. He responded by saying that we would talk about it on Tuesday. Since today was Thursday, and a conversation had not occurred, I cornered him about the topic. He said that he was in the midst of "having conversations" with the manager of the potential trainees; then, he said that these were conversations that he hadn't yet started.


OK. Apparently, I work for a student of George W. Bush Doublespeak.

So, we have a big project status meeting tomorrow, where I will be on the hot seat regarding the TEN issues I presented last week that my boss's boss glibly suggested would be resolved by tomorrow's meeting. And, he will probably still not have done a thing about expanding our support for this product beyond me, at that point. And, NO, of course I haven't resolved TEN issues in a week's time (particularly not after calling in sick yesterday, though that really wasn't a major factor.)

So, follow me for a tiny moment as I indulge in fantasy ... Um, I DO have an ACTUAL interview for the job I applied for on the 27th. Wouldn't it be awesome if that worked out! ... Not only would I be getting the career position that I really wanted, but I could leave with the warm glow of "I told you so" all over me, since no one else is in any position to support this mission-critical enterprise-impacting applicaiton.

Then again, the Fates love to toy with people. It would be so like Them to taunt me with exactly what I want at the most satisfying time to get it, and then to not let it work out. (Example, getting offered the job for a salary that I cannot possibly take, though I've already said I'd be willing to take a 20% cut on the change.)

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Too tired to work

I feel (a tiny bit) guilty. I called in sick today. The thing is, the last couple of days I've been waking up wicked tired. I've even had to fight to stay awake behind the wheel of my car. This morning, around 3:30 a.m., I woke not feeling so good. My throat was full of ... yuck ... I ended up finding some cough medicine to see if I could rid myself of the dreaded curse. Sadly, I had a hard time getting back to sleep afterwards. Just before 5 a.m., when my alarm would have gone off, I got up and wandered around the house for a few minutes. Finally, I checked the weather. The day was slated for overcast and rain. Great sleeping weather.

So, I fired up the new Blackberry and sent the notice: I was out sick.

I only let myself sleep until about 9. When I say 'only', what I mean is that I could have slept for several more hours easily. However, I did not want to give my joints a reason to rebel or add fuel to the insomnia fire come evening.

I answered several important work-related emails this afternoon, so I felt like I wasn't completely disconnected from 'the job'. Maybe I should have been.

The hospital job I applied for is very slowly panning out. They contacted me on Monday, looking for convenient interview times. I haven't heard back, which is (of course) making me nuts.

What does it say about my career and state of mind when I am ANXIOUS to take a job with a 20% pay cut?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Hermie says, "I'm In-de-pen-dent"

One of the great things about living in NH is how we treat party affiliations. If you are registered as an Independent, on Primary day you walk in and tell them which party's ballot you'd like to vote with. Today, as in most Primary elections, I requested a Democratic party ballot. After I turned my ballot in, I walked over to a table specifically set up for people like me. There, someone guided me to my name in the voter registration lists. I wrote down that I had voted Democrat today and then signed that I would like to go back to being an Independent. So, I was a registered Democrat for all of the two minutes it took me to vote and walk over to that table.

Of course, as a registered Independent I get calls from both Republican and Democratic candidates trying to garner my vote. It is a small price to pay for the liberty of switching parties during the Primaries. I have yet to do it since living in NH, but there were times before living here that I'd wished that I could (I really wanted to see John Anderson as the Republican nominee in 1980, but I got to vote for him anyway when he ran as an Independent.)

If I would have voted Republican this time, I would have gone for Guiliani. As it was, I had a tough call to make today on the Democratic ticket. Vote with my heart, or vote with my mind? Vote for someone who inspires the people but probably not the politicians they'd have to work with, or vote for someone who annoys people but knows how to work within the system? I'm unhappy with what I ended up doing, but it seemed the most logical thing to do. Hopefully, both my candidates will be forced to work together in the end and will create a strong ticket with true vision and power to turn this country around.

Yes, I voted for HER.

Odd combinations of things

A while back I noted the enjoyment I get from seeing the odd combinations of things that people are buying in the express checkout in the grocery store. Odd combinations really rev up my imagination. (A stand-up comedian got me interested in the concept with her observation of someone's imminent purchase of kitty litter and Vaseline.)

I recently started subscribing to the Nashua area's Freecycle mailing list. Today, someone posted with the following subject heading:

WANTED: Girls training bras size 30AA, Dog collar and leash

The imagination just runs wild with this, no?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Anxious citizen

Living in NH, I am REALLY looking forward to tomorrow. It is a privilege to be the first state to hold an actual, voting, Presidential primary every four years. The outcome of our primary often determines the course of the primary season overall.

That said, the REAL reason I am looking forward to tomorrow: PEACE!

This weekend, we had at least seven calls each day on Saturday and Sunday, and four this evening. In addition, we have actually had campaign workers knock on our door three times in the last three days.



Participatory democracy is a privilege. I KNOW! But, I really can't wait until Wednesday morning.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Death of a heroine

I missed posting a heroine last Sunday. And, since it's kind of late, this posting will be much shorter than I would like it to be.

I long admired Benazir Bhutto for her leadership of Pakistan during troubled times. She unsuccessfully attempted to improve the status of women in Pakistan. During her reign as Prime Minister of Pakistan, she and her husband were accused of corruption and were forced into exile. Perhaps the charges had some merit. However, I'm certain that Musharraf's government would fail similar scrutiny. Finally, she bravely returned to Pakistan several months ago to campaign for reform and a return to democracy, though her life was threatened. She escaped an assassination attempt in October, only to be killed by a suicidal extremist in late December.

Politicians are not saints. However, some do try to bring positive change to their countries regardless of who it angers.

In the Muslim world, such an outspoken woman is a hero in my book.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The unoffical end of the holidays

My sister-in-law and her family drove up today for a post-holiday visit. The kids got presents. Everyone snacked. We watched a couple of videos (mind-numbing background for the chaos of small children). It was relaxing.

We left our holiday tree up especially for their visit. Tomorrow, it comes down, which will unofficially mark the end of our holiday season.

On the other hand, I am still making holiday cards (in preparation for next year). And, I get my best gift of the season on the 16th: my boss's last day with our organization.

This past week was a bit stressful at work, so I already broke several New Year's resolutions. However, since the holidays 'unofficially' stretched through this weekend, I plan to re-commit myself to the resolutions tomorrow. After all, each day offers us another chance to start our lives anew, right???

Thursday, January 03, 2008

New episodes?

Either by happenstance, or frugal planning, several of our TV shows will be airing new episodes in the next two weeks (my TiVo subscription list lets me know these things). Tonight and next week, we get fresh ER (though this season has kind of sucked ... any port in a storm, I guess). Looks like we'll also be getting teen-oriented shows "Kyle XY" and "One Tree Hill". And ... "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles"

I sympathize with the writers 100%. There's plenty of stuff on television to entertain us, if we are truly bored. Also, we are big into movies. I keep hoping that as viewership drops off that the sponsors will pressure the studios to negotiate. As production companies find new ways to make a buck off their shows, why shouldn't the writers (the actual creative forces behind most shows) get a share from the new venues?

Rock on folks!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Shut up and drive

I ventured out this afternoon, after our latest minor snow storm, to run some errands. The sun had cleared the frost off most of my neighbors' car windows, though I had diligently cleaned my car earlier in the day. While stopped at a traffic light I noticed a car stopped coming from the other direction. The driver had scraped less than a third of the frost from her windshield. After the light changed, I took a quick glance towards the passing driving to see what someone that dumb looks like. I received further proof that you should never underestimate the power of human stupidity. The car was being driven by a twenty-something woman who was gabbing away on her cell phone as she pulled away from the traffic light (with less than one third visibility out her windshield).

Where, or where, are the police when you want them?

Well, I'll take solice in the fact that, according to a recently published study, she was probablydriving slower than the rest of the cars on the road.

Death TV

With the current writers' strike, perhaps this idea will catch on in the United States. Germany's new network, Etos TV, is devoted to death and old age, the brainchild of the country's Association of Funeral Directors. In a country where nearly 800,000 people die every year, and by 2020 a third of the population will be retired, perhaps the group saw the opportunity to cater to an underserved market.

The programming will include obituaries that celebrate the lives of the recently deceased, as well as informational pieces on services related to aging and death.

Maybe AARP ought to considering sponsoring such a channel here in the U.S.?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

This year's celebration and time for resolutions

On New Year's Day, we enjoy the last of our holiday food splurging. This year, we bought steamed lobsters. B got three one and a half to two pound crustaceans. The boys cut through theirs quickly. I started with the tough to reach enjoyment of the small legs and worked my way through all that to the tail and claws. It was wonderful. I actually ended up full, which almost never happens when eating a lobster. My salad is still sitting on the dining room table for whenever, if ever, I catch a second wind this evening. I also made dinner rolls, from scratch (you know ... with yeast and flour). I'm sure I've put on three to five pounds in the last week. Tomorrow, the payback begins!

While part of me finds New Year's resolutions to be trite and pointless, I am in the mood for some 'life improvement'. The following is my list of good intentions for the New Year:

  • Apply for a passport (No, I've never had one; and, my brother is moving to Paris for three years. So, now is the time.)
  • Write in my actual paper journal every day, even if the entry is perfunctory.
  • Eat yogurt every day.
  • Give up white (fiber-less/processed) carbohydrates.
  • Make every other day a near-vegan day (yogurt being the only animal product allowed).
  • Don't shovel snow unless there is no one else in the house and it is critical for you to go out.

And here's the toughest one of all:

  • Be kinder to myself. (I am my biggest critic.)

Let's see how long it takes me to break down on these.

Anyone else giving into the tradition of making a list of annoying directives governing one's own behavior?

Happy New Year, and wake me when it's spring

Tonight we attended our annual family event: The Manchester Monarchs (AHL) home game and indoor fireworks show. This year's Monarchs team kind of stink, but they made it close before thy lost it in the last 10 seconds of the game. The post-game show was well wroth the wait, and the price of admission.

I heard this evening that there is a good chance of snow tomorrow evening. We're supposed to get another 2-4 inches. This is on top of the 4-6 inches that we got last night, and the 2+ FEET we've already gotten in the month of December.

We moved to New England to escape the heat of the mid-Atlantic. I have been a pretty good sport about the cold and snow. However, this year's snow is just totally out of scope.

I would like to lodge a protest, please. Maybe there is an Office of Weather Management, that needs to be audited by the GAO for poor performance. Ask Colorado.