Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Minor school rant

OK. I do not expect anyone to comment on this, I just feel the need to vent a little.

I am taking a class this semester: "Legal Issues in Business and Management". I am actually interested in the content. (I like rules, after all.) Unfortunately, since there are over twenty of us signed up for the online course, the instructor decided that we needed to do our discussions in groups that she assigned. We have five, two week, modules throughout the term. For each module, each group is expected to come to a consensus and post to a main forum and comment, as a group, on another group's posting. Modules begin on a Saturday and end 14 days later on a Friday.

Thus far, my group has posted its consensus first, by the mid-point of the module. We felt that it was only fair, in order to give other groups ample opportunity to comment on our postings. However, the other groups feel that it is acceptable to post their stuff on Wednesday (or even Thursday), thus giving the other groups about 48 hours to come to a consensus and respond.

All groups can see the other groups' discussions. My group is the busiest, most prolific discussion board. We also utilize the chat facility to schedule a time to come to a consensus on our posts.

This evening, our intrepid instructor posted a general note saying how well we were ALL doing. Um???? EXCUSE ME!!! One group is working its butt off while the others are doing the minimum. How the heck is that a good job?


It really doesn't take much to succeed in this world, does it?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Religious persecution verses child protection

I don't know that I can bring myself to say much about the FDLS issue in Texas. If fully grown adult women have such a low opinion of themselves that they are willing to commit themselves to second-class citizenhood in a polygamous marriage, so be it.

Why do we NEVER hear of polygamist situations that involve multiple men married to one woman? Simply put: Polygamy is mostly about power. Traditionally women have had less power then men (at least on the surface). Therefore, historically, polygamy is a situation where one man has multiple wives. Some women would say that having 'sisters in marriage' is a good thing, in that it gives them a rest from the lout they were all foolish enough to commit to.

What I can say something about the treatment of children in the FDLS. I typically stand by parents' rights to raise their children as they see fit, so long as they do not physically or mentally abuse their children. Some would say that taking the FDLS kids into Texas state custody interfered with parent rights. Let's think on that as we read on.

It was announced today that 31 out of 53 teenaged FDLS girls were either mothers already or pregnant at the time they were taken into custody. The definition of 'teenaged girls' here is 14 to 17 years old. Encouraging, or possibly forcing/coercing, 14 to 17 year old girls into 'marriage' and parenthood is right up there with physical and psychological abuse in my book. Even by Texas standards, this is intolerable.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday night blahs

Sorry, all. I'm a bit whiny and exhausted. Late last week I picked up a spring cold. I called in sick on Friday, but I feel somewhat compelled to drag myself in for at least part of the day tomorrow.

I haven't been getting enough sleep, being all snuffly and achy. I'm not even all that sleepy right now. But, I know that I am tired. I walked past a mirror earlier this evening and I look like a creature from a George Romero movie (re: "Night of the Living Dead"). I have HUGE dark circles under my eyes.

Work is very stressful right now. A project that I have been working on for almost a year is about to implode. Apparently, the person who put the requirements together was smoking crack, big time. The product we bought to go into production with just isn't going to cut the mustard at this point. On one level I know that it is not my fault. On the other hand, I feel like I should have recognized the issue long ago.

Maybe my body is wallowing in this illness as a means of avoidance. I need to communicate the issue with management, but I REALLY don't want to. A lot was riding on the successful completion of this project. Now, it's kind of a bust. Throwing more money at it might save the situation. However, the person who initially started this project has left the organization, and management was glad to see her go. They'll probably chalk this failure up to her more than me. On the other hand, a lot of people were counting on this project/product being delivered. We needed the tools that it would have given us to improve a lot of processes. Now, we'll probably have to continue to limp by with the inadequate tools we're currently using for at least another six to nine months while we wait for new budget allocations and a project refresh.

At least I'm getting a little chuckle right now as I can clearly hear Han Solo in my head, "It's not my fault!" I just hope my upper management agrees (after the initial knee jerk explosion that usually comes with the presentation of bad news).

Why, oh why, doesn't night time cold medicine make me drowsy?

The most sophisticated piece of technology...

You really have to love when a company doesn't take itself too seriously.

Last night, we were watching junk television (I think it was E!) when this totally stunning commercial hit us from out of the blue. Well, out of the Clear Blue Easy, that is.

I still can't believe that some ad man pitched this line and the company bought it: "It is the most sophisticated piece of technology you will ever pee on."

And, come on, do we REALLY need digital pregnancy tests? Don't we have enough throwaway crap as it is? Did someone really need to come up with a "sophisticated piece of technology" that gets urinated on and tossed in the waste basket that quickly? Aren't we throwing away enough high tech junk quickly enough?

On the other hand, we just couldn't stop laughing about the tag line for hours afterwards. B knew I would have to blog about it. And, he was right.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A blog name, my "K"ingdom for a blog name!

Some of us try not to advertise our full identities on our blogs. In addition, we try to protect our family's privacy by not divulging too much about them, especially not their full names. So, when I refer to my husband I will usually refer to him as "B" or "my husband". And, when I refer to my son I will usually refer to him as "K" or "my son". However, my good friend Briwei has challenged me to come up with a blog name for my son. I think it is probably appropriate, since I DO seem to blog about the woes of parenting him so frequently. (grin)

So, here are some ideas I have. Let me know if there are any that you particularly like:

  1. Special K

  2. Kid K

  3. The Kid

  4. Dobbie (see previous post

  5. The King

  6. Albatross

  7. Grendel

  8. The Wall

  9. My Apathetic Greasey-headed Early-Onset Alzheimer's Curmudgeon (too long, I know)

  10. Borgin (the greasy-haired forgetful dark arts proprietor of Borgin and Burkes from Harry Potter)

  11. ???

So, who is this "K" of which I speak?

This week was K's fifteenth birthday, as hard as that is to believe. We got him "Rock Band" for the Xbox360. His other relatives sent him some much appreciated cash. He is about to go away for the weekend with his youth group. When he gets back, we promised to take him out for a belated birthday dinner at a restaurant he has wanted to try out. Oh, and school vacation is next week as well. However, he's volunteering at the YMCA (sort of a required servitude for kids who want to get into the camp counselor program).

He's on the tennis team while trying to keep his grades at B's and better. He's also pretty into his guitar lessons. He also likes skateboarding, and has a wild affinity for the sloppy slacker clothes that skateboarders wear. He likes to waste time on the Internet (particularly chat, myspace, and facebook - though he is currently banned from chat due to some school work concerns). He has several TV shows he likes to watch, some of which we also like to watch - though he prefers to watch them without us.

He can be a pretty humorous kid at times. Though, he is also forgetful, argumentative, and sullen. I guess being a teen is tough. But, so is parenting one.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Gushing over grousing

I'm having a REALLY crappy week at work, which I may choose to grouse about later. However, I have decided to gush instead of grouse.

On the way home from work this evening, I popped in Green Day's American Idiot CD. It really is some fine work, IMO. When I got to "Holiday" I got all warm and goose pimply.

A few weeks ago, we went to an event at our church put on by my son's youth group. It was a 'coffee house' (read: dinner with amateur performances). The theme was "Harry Potter". All the youth and their advisers dressed in costume. My son was Dobbie the house elf. He wore a large pillow case with shoe lace straps. Everyone loved calling for his aid, "Oh, Dobbie!!!" To which he eagerly came running prepared to be helpful. (Note to self: Maybe if we make him wear the costume around the house he will be pleasantly helpful? Not!)

Towards the end of the evening, my son and a friend of his got up on stage to perform. He plays guitar and she plays bass, and did the vocals to the songs they performed. The first song they did was "Baby, I'm an anarchist." It was an amusing song that they did a fine job with.

Next, they did Green Day's "Holiday". Not only did they do a bang up job with the song, but other members of the youth group shouted out at all the appropriate places in the song, quite boisterously. The camaraderie among the group was amazing. I was both proud and stunned. The experience made me see that my son has a very rich life and a great group of friends that he values very much (if I threaten not to let him go to a youth group event I can't get him to do almost ANYTHING I want him to do.)

So, every time I hear "Holiday" now, it reminds me that there is hope for my son. That he has talent and goodness in him. For the length of the song, at least, I can forget what a pain it is to live with a teenager.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Travel lite ... or pay big time

Beginning next month, most major airlines will charge for a second checked bag. The cost is $25 a pop each way. And, if any of your bags weighs more than 50 pounds, you could be hit another $100 each way. And some are charging a $100 for checking a third bag ($25 for the second, still). These are domestic rates. International will probably be higher.

So, next year, when we're flying to Europe for eight days, I will DEFINITELY have to master the whole 'lite packing' concept.

Patriots Day

Patriots Day
One of the few benefits of working Massachusetts is the Patriots Day holiday. And, what a day to have off from work. The weather is beautiful!

It's been a pretty good day thus far. I slept in. I went to the post office. I bought an overly big lunch, which I ate while watching part of a pretty cool documentary ("King Corn"). And soon, I think I'll take a lovely nap.

On the other hand, I'm also trying to get ahead in my school work for my "Legal Issues in Business" class. Because the class is totally online, our instructor set us up in groups, and she has us discussing particular issues and then posting a consensus of our opinion to a main discussion board. Then, we have to post a response to at least one other group's posting. This too has to be a consensus-based posting.

For starters, let's just say that I hate group work. We managed to get the first module stuff done on time, posting it late Friday night. We have two weeks for each module in the course, each module ends on a Friday. I was the first one to post anything to my group's module two discussion last night (Sunday). So far, not another peep out of anyone. Again, let me say: I HATE GROUP WORK.

The other irritant of the day: Blockbuster. We've had a membership to Blockbuster Online for a couple of years now. One of the main reasons we went with Blockbuster over Netflix was that we could exchange movie mailers for more movies at an actual Blockbuster store. Yesterday, we discovered that our local store had gone out of business.

Today, I got an email from Blockbuster saying that they were having problems charging my membership fee to my debit card. I do have a new card, so I thought maybe I entered the number incorrectly last week. I tried re-entering the card number about six times. The message on the screen suggested that I call my bank. I seriously doubted that there was an actual problem with the card, since I had used it to buy lunch just and hour before. But, I called the bank anyway to see if they were actually rejected the charge attempts from Blockbuster. The customer service representative thoroughly checked their records. My card was fine, and they had no record of denying any charge requests to Blockbuster.

So, I sent Blockbuster a nastygram and told them if they could not get my card to work, that they were more than welcome to cancel my account. I mentioned the closing of the local store as well. Another thing I complained about in my message was how slow and bloated their web site is. I also noted that if my account was canceled that I would happily take my business to Netflix.

Supposedly they respond to most messages within four business hours. I'll update this post if and when they reply.

Fine. Blockbuster apologized for the issue with my credit card. But, I was already annoyed with them anyway. So, I quit and signed up with Netflix. Oddly enough, they couldn't process my credit card either. Same card that I used all over town today. Must be some payment processor that's having the issue. I gave Netflix another payment method that they were content with. So, life is good on the DVD rental front again.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Rules, guidelines, order, and logic - minor examples

Some would say that I have a heightened attention to detail. Still others would uncharitably call my anal retentive. My own husband teases me about my 'rules'. Apparently, I have rules for a number of things, in his opinion.

I don't know if they are all 'rules'. Some precepts are just guidelines, which I cannot fathom why others don't appreciate the logic of.

Let's take a minor situational example. Virtually every work day, I go to the gym at lunch time. The women's locker room is a a series of alcoves. There are plenty of lockers, and there are storage areas under the lockers for shoes and gym bags that might not easily fit within the lockers themselves.

Guideline #1: Do not leave your belongings strewn about the floor or on the bench when there is plenty of room underneath the lockers to stash your stuff. Leaving your belongings on the floor or on the bench inconveniences other patrons of the locker room.

Guideline #2: If there are two paths to get to your spot in the alcove, and both paths are obstructed by other patrons, take the path that inconveniences the 'more clothed' patron. It is highly inconsiderate to try to brush past a nearly naked person in order to get to your spot, when you could have brushed past a nearly clothed individual.

Guideline #3: Do not engage in a cell phone conversation in the midst of other patrons who are in various states of undress and are in a hurry to either get to their workout or get back to their duties. Having a conversation in the midst of disinterested naked people is second only to have a cell phone conversation in a toilet stall next to some one else in a toilet stall who is trying to take care of their own delicate business as privately as possible.

Guideline #4: Do not 'shower' yourself in highly scented lotions or perfumes in close proximity to others. They may not share your appreciation of the scent you have chosen to drown yourself in, and they cannot easily escape its 'charms'.

Guideline #5: Do not engage in any loud conversation in the presence of other partially dressed patrons that you are not willing to have them join in. If you are willing to have a conversation in front of their semi-nakedness, you are obviously willing to allow them to participate in the conversation. Semi-nakedness is a vulnerable state. Engaging in a conversation in front of someone in such a state is an admission of intimacy you may not intend. If you do not intend to become more intimate with your semi-naked fellow patrons, keep your conversations brief and uninviting.

Guideline #6: If people are in various states of undress, do not engage in conversation with them unless you know them very well. If you do find yourself engaged in conversation with someone who is getting undressed or dressed, make sure to either avert your eyes or only look at their eyes, not the rest of their semi (or completely un-) dressed form.

Guideline #7: DUH! Pick up after yourself. Leave the area at least as orderly as you found it. Pick up your towels. Close your locker when you are done. Through your trash away. ... Grow up!

These are just a few of the guidelines that I live with and by each day. Perhaps I'll share more of my anal retentive wisdom as situations arise that remind me how many humans could use a refresher course on manners and proper interpersonal behavior.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Mochi is yucky

A friend at work told me that her family loves mochi. It's a Japanese food made with brown rice. It's a kind of dough that you bake.

Since it's made from brown rice I figured that maybe I could eat it as a low-guilt treat. Plus, since it's Japanese, I thought my husband would approve.

Well ... I followed the directions and baked some this evening. The plain unsweetened variety was pretty awful. I put a little honey on it, which made it somewhat tolerable. However, THAT kind of defeats the virtuosity of the experience. Plus, even with the honey it was not all that interesting.

Experiment: FAILED.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Travel plans and dreams

In response to the questions to my last post...

The reason I applied for a passport was my brother's impending move to Paris for the next three years. We plan to visit him, with a side trip to London, in April 2009.

My husband and I will be celebrating our twentieth anniversary in September 2009. As a means of marking the event, we've decided to do a Caribbean cruise, probably in February 2010.

My son has expressed a desire to go to Italy at some point. So, we have a tentative plan to visit Rome and Venice in April 2011.

I've never been a huge fan of travel, at least not the process of getting somewhere else. However, I have long had a desire to see distant places. Now that I have a passport and plans to go at least a few places, maybe I will be able to fulfill some of those dreams. Here are some additional foreign places that I thought I might like to travel to:

  • Iceland
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Scottland
  • Wales
  • Switzerland
  • Amsterdam
  • Do an inland cruise (or two) along one of Europe's rivers
  • The Canadian maritimes (Nova Scotia, PEI, etc.)
  • Montreal
  • England (Lincoln, York, and Hadrian's wall).
  • See the pyramids in Egypt.
  • See the great statues on Easter Island.
  • Visit the Galapogos Islands
  • Antarctica
  • Sleep in a huge stone castle in somewhere in Europe
  • Attend the World Science Fiction Convention in a foreign country

There are also a bunch of U.S. trips that I've been contemplating:

  • New Orleans
  • Stay in a penthouse suite in a hotel in Manhatten for at least a weekend.
  • Attend the St Patrick's Day parade in Jackson, Mississippi and meet Jill Conner Browne.
  • Attend the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in Madison Square Garden
  • Visit Washington D.C. during the Cherry Blossum Festival
  • See the ponies run on Assateague Island in Maryland
  • Visit Mammoth Cave in TN.
  • Visit Legoland in California and then in Denmark.
  • Cross the U.S. in one of those scenic-view trains.
  • Cruise the Mississippi on a riverboat.
  • Visit Niagra Falls.
  • Visit the Grand Canyon.
  • Visit Yellowstone National Park.
  • Spend a week on a house boat on Lake Powell.

I doubt that I'll ever get to see all those places unless we hit the lottery, especially with the soaring price of fossil fuels (and the declining dollar - though that can't last forever, can it?). However, it's nice to dream.

Monday, April 07, 2008

I can finally travel the world!

Just over a week after applying for my passport it arrived in my mailbox! I was worried that my application might have been rejected because of a mistake on my birth certificate (my mother's married name was listed instead of her maiden name). But, apparently, the mere fact that I had a birth certificate and had a corroborating official photo identification at the time of my application was sufficient to garner me the precious document. I am now well on the road to become a world traveler!