Thursday, December 28, 2006

2006 in review

This won't be a year that I'll be sad to see go. It's been a drama-filled year, full of twists and turns not unlike an old, rickety, wooden roller coaster.

Sandra has challenged her readers to list 10 things they've learned this year, and I'm going to see if I can't rise to that challenge -- and then some.

  1. Hating the sin but loving the sinner is difficult. No matter how much we want to kid ourselves into believing that we still love the sinner, it's still an enormous stretch to hold firmly to that belief. Human nature would dictate that we hate the sinners, on some level, BECAUSE of the sin.
  2. Leaving the door open, without restrictions, continually invites them to step through and, eventually, they do.
  3. While I will never be ready for my son to leave home, I realize it's time for him to go out on his own and make his own way.
  4. While it may seem that leopards can, in fact, change their spots, it's an illusion -- a fancy bit of camouflage.
  5. Charmin Ultra does not fit on the toilet paper roller.
  6. No matter how much you want to, you can't make someone happy who is so immersed in their own unhappiness as to make it a way of life. Do not tolerate or otherwise enable their negativity and unhappiness -- like laughter, anger and negativity are infectious.
  7. Artichokes aren't so bad after all.
  8. Shit floats to the top. Just take a look around.
  9. It's not foolish to consider your pets to be of the same caliber friend or family member as their human counterparts and the loss of those pets is no less than the loss of their human counterparts. We miss you terribly, Tig.
  10. Just because some people are users, not everyone is. For everyone out there that will use you and make you feel bad, there are dozens more that will treat you with dignity, respect, and human compassion.
  11. Family is important -- even the uncles that nobody likes to talk about (or brothers...or parents...or...).
  12. The quality of my life improves exponentially with each day that I have Lisa in it. I like the person I am with her love. But my life doesn't just stop there, and each day that a new person enters into my life, whether I choose to believe it or not, they shape my future and affect how I see the world and the people in it.
  13. Knapp Jammin' Strawberry wine tastes like ass and, even when mixed as a "spritzer," it tastes like an ass spritzer.
  14. Pot holders and oven mitts are not meant to merely accessorize the colors in a kitchen.
  15. Children are a lot tougher than we give them credit for and every adult could take a lesson in toughness from a 5-year-old.
  16. Old comfortable sneakers eventually stop providing support. Sometimes, no matter how much we love them, we have to step out of them and into a new pair.
  17. Menopause sucks, but will eventually end.
  18. Even though this year will finally end, it's impact and lessons will live on.

I've had a wonderful period of time off and am looking forward to eleven more days yet. I have had the privilege of having Lisa at home with me for five of the last seven days and, when my 16 days off end, I'll have had the privilege of having her home with me for eleven of them.

Hope your final days of the year are peaceful and joyous, and that the new year brings peace, prosperity, and a host of new (good) lessons.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

After today, only one more day to go, and I'm done for sixteen, yes SIXTEEN wonderful days to myself. Out of those sixteen days, I get Lisa for five of them, consecutively over Christmas, and 4 or 5 over New Years as well. I'm psyched. I adore time off with her. While we get a LOT of "us" time, I never seem to get tired of it.

Michelle and the girls will be up on Christmas Eve day, and will spend the night. Since Michelle and Doug have split, and are maintaining separate households, and Michelle JUST got a job (after having spent the last two years going to college), Christmas wasn't viable for them. Michelle had her power turned off because she couldn't pay the bill. I told her she had to bring the kids up and we'd make sure they had a good Christmas.

This is what happens when you get your Christmas shopping done early and gloat about it!

I promised steak for dinner Christmas Eve, and Lisa wants to do cookies with the girls (not sure who the biggest kid is there...) We have some Christmas DVDs that might be fun to set up with the fireplace going later after dinner. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is Lisa's absolute favorite. The guy at the left, Yukin Cornelius, is her "hero." Him being a redhead and all, I suppose is why she loves him so. I cannot truly articulate how childlike she is about Christmas. She brings the fun and magic back somewhat.




Then there's Polar Express, that came out last year or so. We ordered it on Pay-per-view and just loved it, and I'm now in the hunt for it for Christmas Eve. I think the kids (big and small) will thoroughly enjoy it. View the trailer -- it's awesome.
Finally, you've probably seen this already, but I never get tired of seeing this Christmas light show -- I think the music is by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I just think it's very cool.


I'm not sure, but this could be my last entry for the year, depending on what I get into (or don't) while on vacation. Have the best of times with your friends and family, and have a wonderful holiday season.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sugar Hangover

I woke up yesterday morning with what can only be a sugar hangover.

We drove down to PA Friday afternoon and went out to dinner with Lisa's parents just shortly after we got there. We had a pleasant evening and helped Lisa's mother pack some stuff in their motor home, as they were going to leave for Florida Sunday morning.

Saturday we helped pack some more and, around noontime, Lisa's mother ordered steak and cheese subs for lunch. We each had a half-sub and I think I had a Squirt or some sort of lemon-lime drink. Then we went over to Lisa's grandparents' to say hello and, by 5:00 were at Lisa's sister's house to help set up for the Christmas gathering. It was to be a "dessert" gathering, since it was agreed that putting on a dinner was just too much work. I was starting to feel a little hungry, since I'd only had that half sub, but pressed on with the preparations.

Family began arriving about 6:30, and the table began to fill with cheesecakes, "ultimate" chocolate cake, brownies, pretzels, cookies, M&Ms, carrot cake, and even a "fruit pizza." A chocolate fountain was running, with cookies, fruit, and other items surrounding it. Fruit punch, pop and some sort of fruit chai was also available. A veritable cornucopia of sugar.

And I knew better, I really did.

But, I was starving and, even though I didn't eat all that much, my subconscious told me that this was as close to a meal as I was going to get that night.

I had a cupcake sized mini-cherry-cheesecake. I had a piece of carrot cake but didn't eat the too-rich cream cheese frosting. I had a handful of pretzels, dipped in that chocolate fountain. A handful of M&Ms with peanuts (needed protein, right?). Some milanos (cookies). Some fruit punch. Some fresh strawberries. Some pineapple. A couple of slices of apple. A cup of coffee.

I felt queasy by the time we fell into bed at a little after 1:30 AM.

Lisa's father came and woke us up yesterday morning at 7:00, asking Lisa to help her mother with the packing/loading. Lisa poured us coffee -- fully caffeinated. We usually only drink half-caffeinated. My head was raging. I felt disoriented. My eyes hurt. My head felt like a helium balloon. My heart was racing. I felt flush.

At 10:00, as Lisa's parents pulled out of the driveway in their motor home, on their way to Florida, I told Lisa "I have to have some REAL food, and soon." We went back into the house and Lisa called her sister to tell her that Mom and Dad had left, and Diane invited us over for breakfast. Ten minutes later, Lisa was fixing fried egg, cheese and English muffin sandwiches for us. I ate mine very slowly, at Lisa's insistence. She was concerned.

Our plan for the day was to go and see Lisa's grandparents (always a highlight of our trip). So, she called them to see when they were going to go for their weekly Sunday lunch at a local restaurant. They had been waiting to hear from us to see when we were going to come see them, and invited us to have lunch with them. Twenty minutes later, we were ordering lunch, having just had breakfast forty minutes earlier. I had a BLT wrap -- didn't want anything heavy.

We said goodbye to Lisa's grandparents around 2:00 and set off for home. I was still a tad disoriented, but was feeling a whole lot better, having had as much protein as I did. We stopped off to see my Aunt Wanda and Uncle Bob on the way back, at around 4:00, and were home by 6:30 -- just in time to watch the tail end of the day's late football games.

I'm tellin' ya -- I've never done anything like that before and I'm positive I'm never going to do anything like that again. My system has spent the day today sort of flushing itself out. I don't mind saying that I feel like I've been shot at and missed, and shit at and hit.

Anyway, we had a great time with Lisa's family but it's always good to be back home.

We fell into bed last night and that's the last thing I knew before the alarm went off this morning.

I have just this week to work, then we're shut down for the week after Christmas, and I'm taking the first week of January off.

Michelle and the kids will be up Sunday night to spend Christmas Eve with us. It's sort of unexpected (they're spending the night) so we have to scramble around and get some "santa" stuff for the kids, but it'll be fun.

Heavy work week -- final exams and final grades to get done. Then it comes to a screeching, grinding halt until classes start back up the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. day.

Hopefully I'll be up for air from time to time.

As long as there's no sugar in it...


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Help me, I'm drowning!

It's the end of the semester, next week is final exam week AND final grades week, I'm flying solo, and everyone needs shit done NOW!

I continue to work with the "8 to 4 and out the door" mentality as I cannot bring myself to care enough to stay until things get done. If they don't get done, they don't get done. The Division VP and his cronies made the decision to leave my staff position out front vacant, without giving me the benefit of consultation, and having done so behind closed doors. I've been flying solo for nearly two years now.

I refuse to stay one minute past quitting time, which has left some of the faculty with knots in their knickers but I continue to suggest to them that they call and complain -- not to me, but to the decision makers.

I'm frustrated and just can't get myself to give two shits about anything other than when I'm taking the next day off, or how close the weekend is. While I'd like to kid myself into believing that, as long as I'm here, I'm giving 100%, I think the reality is that, if you're not happy with your job, you sure as hell aren't giving 100%.

Lisa has similar frustrations at work and, while I'm pretty much locked into my job, she's not with hers. She applied at the Home Depot (three stores) night before last. We did the math and, if she doesn't have to drive halfway across the county to work, she can make $2/hour less than she does right now, and still break even. It's a good incentive to aggressively pursue other employment.

I say I'm locked into my job because I figure I'm officially at the age where I'm too old to get a new job and be able to expect any sort of meaningful retirement benefit from it. While the mandatory participation in the state retirement program ended this month for me, my employer still contributes to my retirement. Hard(er) to walk away from than someone in Lisa's position, making hourly wages just above what my son makes at the garden center, no raises in 5 years, health benefits cut in half, and no contributions to her profit sharing plan in the past 5 years. If she walks away, she's 100% vested in just over $3000 for eight years' worth of loyal dedication. That's not even enough to pay off her truck, so it's negligible.

We leave tommorrow for Pennsylvania for the weekend. Lisa's family has Christmas the Saturday before the actual holiday, so everyone is free to do what they want on the actual holiday, with less stressors regarding who wants their time and where. Leaving at lunch time, and will get there around dinner time.

After that, it's just next week, then that's it until after the first of the year -- I'm taking the first week in January off, too. Hopefully I'll be able to get that darned blanket finished up, once and for all! I won't likely post much during that time, as I try to make it a point to not be on the computer so much at home, but I'll still be reading your blogs and commenting, from time to time.

Sorry everyone's having such a hard time with comments on the beta version. Second biggest mistake of my life, switching over to the beta version. If I didn't have so much time and "stuff" invested here, I'd seriously consider moving to another provider.

And may still........

Monday, December 11, 2006

Devil-Man Speak With Forked Tongue

It would seem that yet another Republican hypocrite has been "outed." Oh, I don't mean "outed" as in discovering he's gay, I mean "outed" as in having said one thing to garner support from a specific voter base, and then done another.

In 1994, while opposing Senator Kennedy in Massachusetts for a seat in the Senate, now-outgoing Mass. governor Mitt Romney apparently showed quite another side where same-sex couples, and the GLBT community is concerned.

You may (or may not) remember that just after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ordered same-sex marriages to begin in Mass., Romney dusted off and invoked an old 1913 law that had not been used in almost 100 years to prevent same-sex couples from outside the state from getting married. He has consistently, at every turn, fought against any positive strides the GBLT community has made toward equality. Most recently, he has asked the state's highest court to order the legislature back into session to vote on an anti-gay-marriage measure that, if passed, would be put to the voters in 2008. It seems Mr. Romney was pissed off that they adjourned without addressing the issue, even though they're technically still in session until the first of January.

Now, it has come out that in a 1994 interview with a Boston gay publication, Bay Window, Mr. Romney said,

"People of integrity don't force their beliefs on others, they make sure that others can live by different beliefs they may have," Romney told Bay Windows a dozen years ago when the paper interviewed him on LGBT civil rights."

In more remarks in that interview:

He told Bay Windows that he opposed "extremists" who were trying to impose their positions on the Republican Party and that he believed marriage was a state issue.

He tied his willingness to advocate for the rights of gay people, Bay Windows reports, to the Mormon concept of “free agency”.

When I speak of free agency, I don’t just mean that each person can do what they want to do, I mean that our society should allow people to make their own choices and live by their own beliefs,” he told the paper.

In the 1994 interview he said that supported then President Bill Clinton’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy but said that “I believe that there will be change over time as the military establishment and the rank and file become more comfortable with the realities of sexual orientation in the military.”

Romney went on to say “I will support progress being made in that area as time progresses and the military and society becomes more accepting.”
Of course, now that he's making a Presidential run and trying to gain favor with the ultra conservative Republican base, he presents a different front with regards to same-sex marriage and GLBT rights.

Last year, as he was beginning to seek support for a presidential bid he delivered a speech to a GOP audience in South Carolina that not only opposed gay marriage but also civil unions "from day one.''

"Today, same-sex couples are marrying under the law in Massachusetts,'' Romney told the crowd. "Some are actually having children born to them,'' he continued.

"It's not right on paper. It's not right in fact. Every child has the right to have a mother and a father.''

Once this interview had been republished by Bay Window, the Log Cabin Republicans released a letter written to them by Mr. Romney in his campaign for Senate in 1994.

The 1994 letter was written to the Log Cabin Club of Massachusetts, a gay Republican group, when Romney was courting gay voters during his unsuccessful campaign against Kennedy.

Citing Kennedy's record of advocacy for gays and lesbians, Romney wrote, ''For some voters, it might be enough to simply match my opponent's record in this area. But I believe we can and must do better. If we are to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern.''

I think these revelations beg the question of which Mitt Romney people would be voting for, f they were inclined to do so -- the one that says what they want to hear, or the one who makes a name for himself by what he does? While there is no way in Hell I would have thought (then OR now) that Al Gore would have made an effective President, it galls me that conservatives such as Romney used the terms "flip-flop, waffle," an other terms to describe what appeared to be Gore's inability to stand firm on an issue.

One conservative, from the Free Congress Foundation points out:

"Unless he comes out with an abject repudiation of this, I think it makes him out to be a hypocrite,” Weyrich said. "And if he totally repudiates this, you have to ask, on what grounds?”


Indeed. And I think that is a question that absolutely MUST be answered.

In an op-ed piece in the Salt Lake Tribune, Romney is exposed as a right wing panderer, willing to sell his soul to the devil in order to win the ultimate prize.

It's like turning a ballerina into a right-leaning elephant.


Romney, who is a staunch opponent of illegal immigration, claims he was unaware that several of the workers employed by Community Lawn Service with a Heart to take care of the grounds at his suburban home were illegal immigrants. While I can certainly understand being caught off guard under NORMAL circumstances in this type of situation, it would seem that someone so staunchly against illegal immigration would insure, beyond any doubts, that a company with predominantly Hispanic workers, would be on the up-and-up as far as immigration law. If you're going to go public against something, as a public figure, you mke sure that little details like this are checked out.

Let's hope that the Republican party can see through this guy (and if they can't, they're in some real trouble) and show him the door before too many tax dollars are spent in a fruitless campaign for this putz.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

More fun stuff

Took this quiz this morning -- the thing is, I learned most of the stuff on the quiz AFTER school (which was when I paid attention more).


You paid attention during 74% of high school!

68-84% Pretty good, you know that there are libraries and newspapers, and you remember what you've read. You were a child that wasn't left behind!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz







This one explains a lot about some of my previous relationships...


What type of person do you attract?
Your Result: You attract unstable people!

Congrats, you are an 'insane' magnet, and you probably have no idea why. Something about your mix of styles, how you walk not just 'one' lifestyle, but appear to have a foot in them all. To the insane, you appear to be a beacon of hope and they will flock to you, like it or not. But, they ARE insane. Lucky for you, the insane tend to be the best sexual lovers, just the rest of the package deal may not be for you.

You attract artsy people!
You attract rednecks!
You attract geeks!
You attract models!
You attract Yuppies!
What type of person do you attract?
Quizzes for MySpace







I ♥ my books!

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Literate Good Citizen

You read to inform or entertain yourself, but you're not nerdy about it. You've read most major classics (in school) and you have a favorite genre or two.

Dedicated Reader
Book Snob
Fad Reader
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Non-Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz




Hmmmm..........


Your score on this personality test was 59%

Others see you as fresh, lively, charming, amusing, practical, and always interesting; someone who's constantly in the center of attention, but sufficiently well-balanced not to let it go to their head. They also see you as kind, considerate, and understanding; someone who'll always cheer them up and help them out.

Personality Quiz
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz





Don't ever get this drunk...







How's this for flexibility? I'm thinking this could come in handy in the...er..."private" room.



Finally...and they say women are the "weaker" sex.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Dyke the Halls extra

As promised, here's the video of the rockin' reindeer.



If clicking on the video doesn't work, try clicking here.



This is a picture of the Christmas tree skirt I bought as well. The picture doesn't really do it justice, but hopefully you can get a good idea of just how whimsical it is.

I brought stuff in to work today to decorate the office.

I'll tell you a secret -- Lisa's childlike love of Christmas is contagious...



Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Caught Simba grooming the little one last night -- they're the best of buddies and it's just so cute to see them this way. When she's ready to settle down for a nap and he's already laying down, she snuggles right up with him, he grooms her, and they both nap.

Finally, a Christmas meme from sassyfemme:

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot chocolate. Egg nog is...........EWWW!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Depends on the size. Larger items sit under the tree unwrapped, smaller items get wrapped.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? Mostly colored. But some inside decorating is with just white lights.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? Nope.

5. When do you put your decorations up? Sometime after the first of December.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Whatever is on my plate at the moment -- which explains the rather large derriere I sit on.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child: Going to my grandparents' house. Even now, 25 years after losing them, Christmas just doesn't seem the same. But, I try to make Christmas for my own grandchildren just as special a tradition as my own grandmother did.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? My mother, in a fit of anger one day, told us. I was devastated.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Even as a kid, we were allowed to open one gift Christmas Eve. It's a tradition I've held over with my own kids.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? Our tree is a sort of family history. There are all sorts of things that the kids made over the years in school, along with new priceless works of art from the grandkids. There are blue "blobs," paper doilies with school pictures pasted inside, glass unicorns received one year for Christmas, Buffalo Bills ornaments, wooden craft figures hand painted or decorated during Christmas camp, all sorts of wonderful memorabilia. And they're beautiful! Also, since Lisa and I have been together, we've gotten into the practice of buying an ornament each year that best represents the theme of the year.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? UGH! Hate shoveling it. Hate driving in it. Hate cleaning it off the car. BUT, I love the looks of it after a fresh snowfall, clinging to the trees and ground and with the sun sparkling off it.

12. Can you ice skate? *I* can, it's my feet that can't.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? My Thumbelina doll when I was five.

14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Family.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? See response to #6.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? The youngest member of the family present when the tree goes up puts the tree topper on. These days, Uncle Joe has to lift one of the little ones up to reach it. We always play Christmas music and light the fireplace when the tree goes up

17. What tops your tree? A popsicle stick star, with little poofy balls at the end of each stick -- made some 20 years ago by my little boy.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? I really enjoy giving gifts to other people. I've always felt a bit self-conscious about receiving gifts, always afraid I'm not going to react appropriately for the gift-giver.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? O Holy Night.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Dyke the Halls

It's started.

That Christmas spirit is creeping in.

Saturday morning we stayed in bed until after 10:00, just snuggling, dozing, chatting softly. We talked about how nice it would be to have a tree upstairs where we sit and watch television.

We got up, relaxed over coffee, then made the decision to go look for a smallish, slim, artificial tree. There were some other things we needed/wanted to pick up as well, so it was a good time to just get out and go.

We checked out the Big K near our house but didn't find anything that floated our boats. We did, however, find some cute stuff for my newest grandson and I picked up a couple of nice sweaters for myself. We thought maybe Big Lots was a good place to look for something inexpensive and, while we were right about inexpensive, everything they had was pre-lit with white lights. I like the colors, and want no part of a pre-lit tree.

We went over to the Home Depot and found a nice 7½ foot slim tree, not pre-lit. We also found one of those "One Touch" adjustable wrenches for my Uncle Bob. I got one for Lisa a couple of months ago and was really psyched to find the one for my Uncle.

We got home and unloaded the stuff from my RAV4 and got some lunch. Lisa got out the pieces and parts to the tree and said to me "Why don't you go down to KMart and get some decorations and lights and garlands -- you know what we want."

So, off I went, unsupervised, to KMart.

Let's just say I spent more for the decorations and stuff than we did on the tree itself.

But I have to make a confession -- I fell for something so whimsical and dorky, it'll surprise anyone that knows me.

I was walking up and down the aisles, perusing the ornaments and garlands and bows and candles, and found this cute little stuffed reindeer sitting in a rocking chair. It was about 15-18" high. By itself, it was adorable and I thought "This would look cute under the tree just as a decoration." Upon closer inspection, I saw the telltale "press me" pad on his paw, so I set it on the floor and obliged.

The reindeer shifted forward in the rocker, then back, making it rock and the familiar chorus of "Grandma got run over by a reindeer" filled the aisle. I howled. I laughed so hard people began to look at me oddly -- but I couldn't help it, lost in the moment, I just laughed and laughed and laughed. A woman came upon me and said "Someone is having fun," and all I could do was laugh and point at the object of my amusement. Soon, the two of us were standing there sharing raucous laughter at the reindeer throwing itself forward and backward in that rocking chair.

Yes. I bought it.

I also found a nice, whimsical tree skirt that I just cannot describe, but also can't upload a picture for (as blogger doesn't seem to have that feature enabled today).

When I arrived home with my purchases, I excitedly told Lisa "You have to see this!" and placed that rocking reindeer on the laminate floor and pressed his paw. He began his song and his rocking, eliciting more peals of laughter from me, while Lisa rolled her eyes, shook her head, and looked at me sadly as I recounted my trip to the store. As the reindeer rocked and sang, the cats circled cautiously around it, tentatively walked toward it with their noses out, and then backed away -- much to my continued amusement and laughter.

We got the tree trimmed and are quite pleased with its appearance. And yes, the rockin' reindeer has a place under the lower bows.

And I'll take a video of the reindeer and a picture of the tree and the skirt, as soon as I can figure out why there's no photo upload links displaying here. (Anyone else have this problem?)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Random

Today is payday and my check is just shy of $100 heavier.

When our union agreed with our employer on a new contract last year, the agreement contained language that would collect our "voluntary" deductions over 24 pay periods instead of our typical bi-weekly (or 26) time frame. Since this month had 5 Thursdays in it, this was the month that we didn't have that money collected. It's nice, since it's so close to the holidays.

I was also informed by Payroll that this will be the last check that the mandatory state retirement contribution will be collected. It's mandatory for 10 years and I've been in the plan 10 years next pay period (I've been here at the college for 12½ years, though). That will be another $50 (minus taxes) I'll be getting, too. It's like getting a pay raise.

We had record high temperatures yesterday, near record highs on Tuesday, and will have near record highs today as well. It got up to 69 yesterday and, as I write this at 9:00 AM, it's 65 degrees.

I went grocery shopping last night and saw that they already have their Christmas hams on "sale" for $1.99/lb. It's too early, isn't it? Maybe not.

I've had a bit of Christmas music in the stereo to mix with the regular music. We have a 60-CD changer and put it on shuffle all the time. It's nice to have the Christmas music only occasionally. One of the pieces that I particularly love is Kenny G's Auld Lang Syne, Millenium Edition. I also love the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas albums. And, of course, Yanni's Snowfall.

Did you ever have moods where you only want to hear specific types of music? I have a Time Life collection of 70s singers and songwriters and lately, it seems that's all I want to hear. Jim Croce, John Denver, Joan Baez, The Moody Blues, Anne Murray, Carole King. It sure takes me back quite a way, but to a time when I was self-destructive and unhappy with myself and my life. I've come a long way -- perhaps the music is a reminder of that.

I'm suffering from a bit of anxiety over my father. While he remains in prison, he's receiving virtually no medical care that is adequate or appropriate. When he was taken to a regional medical center for a vascular consultation, he saw an anesthesiologist student/intern. His blood pressure has ranged from dangerously low to dangerously high and his blood pressure meds are administered inconsistently, at best. He was told in mid-September that an order for an MRI on his aorta had been placed, yet nothing has come from that order. In the meantime, his foot grows worse and worse, without any treatment at all. His becoming more and more alarmed by the fact that he had been told that, if it gets bad enough, they'll amputate it. He's afraid that the mindset is that letting it get bad to the point of needing amputation is cost effective for the department of corrections. I'm lost as to what I can do, if anything.

Like I said -- no New Year Resolution, just a New Year wish. One year, no drama.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Interesting Meme

Here's an interesting meme from Sandra.

Here's a list of the top 100 banned books. I'm not convinced this list is correct, though – why on earth would anyone have banned Little House On The Prairie??? Anyway, bold the ones you've read. Italicize the ones you've read part of. Underline the ones you want to read. Read more. Convince others to read some. Tell me if I've missed out by not reading some of these.

#1 The Bible
#2 Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
#3 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
#4 The Koran
#5 Arabian Nights
#6 Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
#7 Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
#8 Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
#9 Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
#10 Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
#11 The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
#12 Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
#13 Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
#14 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
#15 Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
#16 Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
#17 Dracula by Bram Stoker
#18 Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
#19 Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
#20 Essays by Michel de Montaigne
#21 Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
#22 History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by EdwardGibbon
#23 Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
#24 Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
#25 Ulysses by James Joyce
#26 Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
#27 Animal Farm by George Orwell
#28 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
#29 Candide by Voltaire
#30 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
#31 Analects by Confucius
#32 Dubliners by James Joyce
#33 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
#34 Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
#35 Red and the Black by Stendhal
#36 Das Capital by Karl Marx
#37 Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
#38 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
#39 Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
#40 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
#41 Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
#42 Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
#43 Jungle by Upton Sinclair
#44 All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
#45 Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
#46 Lord of the Flies by William Golding
#47 Diary by Samuel Pepys
#48 Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
#49 Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
#50 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
#51 Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
#52 Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
#53 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
#54 Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
#55 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
#56 Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
#57 Color Purple by Alice Walker
#58 Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
#59 Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
#60 Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
#61 Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
#62 One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#63 East of Eden by John Steinbeck
#64 Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
#65 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
#66 Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#67 Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais
#68 Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
#69 The Talmud
#70 Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#71 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
#72 Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
#73 American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
#74 Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
#75 Separate Peace by John Knowles
#76 Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
#77 Red Pony by John Steinbeck
#78 Popol Vuh
#79 Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
#80 Satyricon by Petronius
#81 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
#82 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
#83 Black Boy by Richard Wright
#84 Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
#85 Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
#86 Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
#87 Metaphysics by Aristotle
#88 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#89 Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
#90 Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
#91 Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
#92 Sanctuary by William Faulkner
#93 As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
#94 Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
#95 Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
#96 Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
#97 General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
#98 Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
#99 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown
#100 Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

OK, so, how about you?

Post-Thanksgiving Post

I quit my job at Joann Fabrics. My first day of work was a Sunday and I spent the 5 hours unloading boxes, putting the product in bins on carts, and taking the carts out to other team members who stocked the shelves. I had a great time, it was good physical activity, and was exactly what I'd wanted to do. The next day, when I reported to work, I was told I'd be trained on the registers because that was where they needed me most. As I explained in an earlier post, I had signed on to do stock. Not registers. Not taking shit from 90 year old ladies who think the item should have rung up on sale when it didn't. I do enough of that at my full time job that pays nearly four times as much. I told the store manager I didn't sign on to do registers, and she insisted that this was what she wanted me to do. I told her I neither needed the job nor the money and that I really wasn't up for being snookered into doing something I didn't want to do. And at minimum wage, no less. So, I quit.

We really had a great holiday weekend. Michelle and Doug and the kids came up (they drove separately, as they're separated). Cher was finally able to eat after her accident more than 6 weeks ago, and that little girl ate and ate and ate. Annie did too! We were amazed at how much those two little munchkins ate. Of course, Michelle informs me that Annie lost her Thanksgiving dinner later that night. No huge surprise there.

My aunt and uncle came up as well. It was a nice, manageable 10 people, counting the three kids. We put on soft background music like Yanni, Enya, Mannheim Steamroller, Celtic Moods, etc. and put on a DVD of a fire in a fireplace. Yes, I'm a dork. But, in a 36" television with the music and soft lighting, it really did create a nice ambience.

Friday, like I promised myself and Lisa, I sat and knitted and watched television. I got ten rows done on little Brandon's blanket. While that may not sound like much, it is when you consider that each row is 296 stitches. I watched a few shows that we had on the DVR and the Terminator Trilogy. Lisa went to the Home Depot and got mouldings and other supplies that she needed to finish off the mouldings in the living room and the trim around the fireplace. Once that's done, the upstairs will be completely finished. We tend to take a long time to get things accomplished, as we wait until we have the cash to do it rather than run up debt. This causes Lisa a bit of stress and anxiety but she likes that we're not in debt doing this stuff.

Once we get the upstairs done, we'll tackle the downstairs family room, but that won't happen until after the holidays are over. We still have a lot of paint left over from when we did the entryway and decided that it would transition beautifully into the downstairs family room, so we won't have to fret over colors and cost. There's more than enough there to get that room and the ceiling done.

Saturday we went down to one of my staff member's house to help them finish putting the roof on a shed they'd bought, but were unable to complete. Of course, we were there as GoldMar Enterprises, not Pat and Lisa. It took us just a couple of hours to complete the task and we decided to swing by the mall as it was only noon and we had some things we wanted to look for. We knew we were taking a huge chance, but ended up being amazed at the lack of traffic and crowds. I kept looking around in the mall asking Lisa "Where is everyone?"

After the mall, we went across the street to a new furniture store that just opened up. We've been browsing a bit, without much intent to buy -- we're not ready for that yet. However, we came across a china hutch that Lisa just fell in love with. I have to admit that I was very taken with it as well. We gingerly looked at the price and found that, while it certainly was a lot of money, it was still reasonably priced enough that I began to do the math in my head. Lisa just kept looking at it, and oohing and aahing and I told her "We can get it if you want it." We left without it, but she kept talking about it. She really was very taken with it -- moreso than I've ever seen her with any other piece of furniture.

We got home and did some light housework, fixed an early dinner of leftovers, and settled in for some relaxation.

Sunday Lisa putzed around some more with cutting and staining more mouldings while I worked on the books for our business. At one-o'clock, I was sitting in front of the four televisions watching football, knitting in my lap, Idgie at my side.

All in all, it was a nice, long weekend. Good food. Family. Relaxation.

Yesterday after work, I went back to the furniture store and bought the china hutch. It is on back order and not due in before mid-January, but that's okay with me because that gives Lisa ample time to get the finishing touches put in on the flooring and mouldings. I put $1000 down on the hutch and got the remainder "financed" at zero percent for one year. (Note to self -- be sure to thank that putz ex-husband of yours for that nice, lump sump payment of child support arrears.) I knew there was no way I was going to "surprise" Lisa at Christmas with this hutch, and didn't want it to be HER Christmas present -- I wanted it to be OURS (I'm selfish that way). So, when she got home, I showed her the sales contract.

Let me tell you, I have never, ever seen Lisa dance like a little kid with excitement the way she did last night. She was just beyond ecstatic and kept grabbing me and hugging me and kissing me. She can get her grandmother's china out of the box it's been stored in now -- and it's big enough to hold that and my china and crystal as well.

This is the first piece of furniture that WE have purchased. The first of many, I hope.

Can I just tell you how much I love my life? I lack for absolutely nothing.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Culture Club

I guess it's been a day or two since I posted anything, eh?

The search for my half-uncle turned up nothing new, as we suspected. We went to the State Police barracks to let them know that we'd be on the property searching and were told by one of the troopers that they planned to take dogs up there the next day. We limited our search to the creeks and creek beds that surround the property, none more than 300 yards from the house. It was a beautiful fall day, sunny and mild with temperatures in the low 60s. The following day, when the dogs were supposed to be taken in, was to be cold and drizzling rain. Not sure how the dogs can track much after 3 months worth of heat, torrential rain at times, and being IN the rain. With hunting season rapidly approaching, it's possible that he'll be found someplace in the woods behind his property.

We didn't have any work for our company that weekend, so we stayed home and got some much needed housework done. Lisa got some floor trim and mouldings cut and stained and put some polyurethane on them. I got the whole house cleaned and dusted. On Sunday, we just sat and vegetated -- it felt good to not have anything hanging over our heads.

Thursday, around 8:00 we were sitting and talking about how we needed to get groceries for the coming week, as well as for Thanksgiving. Lisa said "You want to go now?" and off we went. Food shopping at the grocery store at 8:00 in the evening is great -- hardly anyone there. We got our 23 lb. turkey and everything we need for Thanksgiving dinner, along with routine groceries, and got out of there just at $250. Not so bad, really, considering it's been two weeks since we last shopped.

Friday we went out to the Christmas Tree Shoppes, AC Moore, and Bed Bath and Beyond to look for some nice table cloths for Thanksgiving. We hate the gaggy turkey decorated things and really just want something with a nice "harvest" color theme. We didn't find anything for the table, but did find some cute Christmas decorations. After we shopped, we stopped by the restaurant where Joe tends bar and had a glass of wine. I think he was pleased to see us because it was a bit slow at that time. He told me last night that on Saturday, when he showed up at 5:30, the place was locked up. Apparently all the cooks and a couple of the servers took a "break," and didn't come back until almost 8:00. Not real sure what that was all about but it sounds to me like there's trouble brewing at San Jose's.

We slept in yesterday morning until almost 11:00. I can't remember when the last time was that I slept past 9:00, let alone that late. We got up and had some coffee, putzed around a bit and before we knew it, it was 2:30. I went in and took a long, hot shower, then spent a bit of extra time drying and styling my hair. We got dressed and were off to the Memorial Art Gallery to see the Color and Conservation exhibit of the late Georgia O'Keeffe. The exhibit not only contains original works by the artist, but is accompanied by a host of black and white photographs of the woman, her hands, and sometimes Georgia and her husband Alfred Stieglitz .

The works were brilliant, and were pieces that I was totally unfamiliar with. One, in particular, Abstraction, Seaweed and Water, Maine 1920 caught my eye and I'm now on a mission to get a print of that work. I can't find it anywhere and have searched the web exhaustively. It's possible, I suppose, that prints of it don't exist.


I did, however, buy a print of this work and will take it to get it framed.



Of course, while the print is beautiful, it does not do justice to the original work. The closer you stand to this piece, the more intricate the details become and you find yourself drawn to the lines and curves and colors and highlights. She had said, about this flower, that if she could paint it large enough, everyone would love the flower. She was right. This work is titled Cup of Silver Ginger.



Some time back, a lover of mine bought me this O'Keeffe print. I kept it, not for any sentimental reasons but because it's just beautiful. Lisa loves it, too and after we painted the upstairs, we made the decision to hang it over the fireplace.















I also own these two:




















After the museum, we went to dinner at Edibles, billed as a "hip, urban eatery."

On their menu they have such items as Hog Wings, Caramelized walnut salad, Coconut Crusted Alaskan Cod, Lobster Ravioli, Salmon Baked with a Sour Cherry Glaze and Vegetable Strudel. We enjoyed wine with our appetizer plate, which consisted of some of the Vegetable Strudel, a roast duck pizza, goat cheeze puff, and scallions in a lime sauce. It was amazing! Our entrees were served and we ordered another glass of wine each and enjoyed our dinner. For dessert, we had the Apple Pie Cheesecake.

All told, we had a wonderful weekend. No frantic schedules, lots of rest, and a bit of self-indulgence.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Time Passages


Wow, where'd the last week or so go?

I've had a full dance card during that time and full plates always make time fly by.

Wednesday I took the day off to take Joe downtown to see a lawyer about his third speeding ticket this year. Under NY State law, three speeds in an 18 month period causes revocation of the license. So, we met with the lawyer (the same one that's handling my lawsuit), and then went to DMV so Joe could get an abstract of his license and I could turn in the plates to my father's vehicle that's been sitting in my driveway since June.

We got home around 1:30, not bad for all the running we had to do. So, we fixed ourselves some lunch and I sat down to knit for a little while.

At 4:30 I had a four-hour orientation for the part-time job I took at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Superstore. Yeah, me, a part-time job. It's not that I need the money or that I need more on my plate these days, I just thought a little bit of extra money during the holiday season might be nice. I took the job understanding that I'd be stocking shelves and "receiving." Minimum wage, of course.

Friday I took the day off and went down to my aunt's house. We'd planned the day a couple of weeks prior to that. Now that the leaves and vegetation of summer have died back, we thought we'd go to my half-uncle's property and see if we could find him. He's been missing since July. Because he's got psychiatric difficulties as well as the fact that he's an alcoholic, we pretty much are all of the mind that they'll find him dead somewhere in the woods behind his house. We spent the day walking the creeks and creekbeds in about a 300 yard radius. According to my father, my half-uncle is/was too lazy to go much farther than about 100 yards away. The state police were going to be bringing in some dogs the next day, so we didn't go beyond that 300 yard area.

Saturday we worked for our own business, arriving at the job site around 10:30 and getting home around 4:00.

Sunday morning I was up and out the door to be at Joann's by 7:00 AM, where I worked until noon receiving product, unpacking it, and sending it out to the floor to be put on the shelves. I hit the floor running at 7:00 and went non-stop (except for a 15 minute break) until quitting time -- and I was home before the opening kickoff of the early football games. I was a hurtin' pup by the time I got home, since I did all that bending, twisting, pivoting, stooping, lifting and climbing. I took a hot shower and applied some Blue Stop to the really sore areas and sat in my spot with my knitting and watched football. Applied some Blue Stop before bed and got up this morning feeling pretty darned good except for a couple of minor muscle aches where I didn't apply any Blue Stop. Not bad for an old heiffer.

I work from 5:00 to 10:30 tonight and tomorrow, too.

The store manager insists that they need me most on the registers and, like I told Lisa, since I don't want to work the registers and I'm only getting minimum wage AND I don't need the money, I'm not going to get sucked into doing anything other than what I signed up to do. I guess that's the beauty of not needing the money, I don't need to worry about keeping the job. Oh, sure, I get a 15% discount at the store as an employee but, again, nothing I really need. Just something that's nice to have.

Somewhere in between all that, I've been at my full-time job as well. I had one (brand new) computer go down, the network printer shit the bed, and the guy who fixes the printers won't be in for two weeks. The Computer and Network Services folks brought up a loaner that keeps jamming, won't feed legal sized paper, and is so full of paper dust that it probably will only come clean by sand-blasting it.

The end of the semester is also looming on the horizon and, with that, Christmas will be here -- in just six short weeks. After that, I get about 11 days off and I'm really looking forward to hunkering down without the stressors of work and the holidays hanging over my head. I really love that time because it's always cold outside and I wear sweats around the house, fall asleep watching television curled up on the couch with a cat and an old afghan, do light housework or catch up on projects with the stereo blaring away. Lisa usually takes a couple of days during that time too -- I adore time off with Lisa.

We're working diligently to get a good resume put together for her these days. She's very disenchanted with her job and was alarmed recently when she suddenly realized that she really doesn't care any more. It's time to move on. Frankly, I don't care much these days at my job, either, but I only have 9 years left before I can retire permanently and, unless something better (pay-wise) comes along, I'll stick it out here until then. Lisa, on the other hand, still has about 25 working years ahead of her and still has a chance to get into something that has a good future for her. But, she can't let too much time slip away or, before she knows it, she'll be "too old" to be starting over, too, like some of her co-workers.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Post Election

Lots of excitement this week, eh?

Like every other household in America, our phone rang off the hook Monday and Tuesday evenings with final pushes for candidates up for election. Because none of the three of us are registered in any specific party, we got calls from all sides. We didn't bother to answer the phone, letting the messages go to the answering machine. In our local paper, we found this article:

Bad word of mouth?
Perhaps not surprisingly, this campaign season produced some charges of robocall abuse. Democrats in several northeastern states, including New York, said that national Republicans funded deceptive robocalls. The calls opened with a phrase that suggested the call was from a Democratic candidate. If the person called didn't hang up, the message went on to point out the candidate's alleged faults. The message did end by saying it was from the Republican Party. If the voter hung up upon hearing the candidate's name, the robocall automatically redialed, further annoying the voter.

I'm glad the elections are over. I get really, really, REALLY tired of seeing commercials telling me why not to vote for someone, but without telling me why I should vote for the person whose campaign sponsored the negative ad.

Here in New York, the Democratic party had a field day and, with that, same-sex New Yorkers have a brighter flicker of hope.

Former Attorney General Eliot Spitzer was elected governor, earning 69% of the vote. In March of 2004 Mr. Spitzer issued an informal opinion in which he indicated that legal same-sex unions that originate in jurisdictions outside of New York State should be recognized in New York (whether they be Canadian marriages or Vermont civil unions).

Andrew Cuomo, the son of former NY Governor Mario Cuomo, was elected to fill the Attorney General vacancy left by Eliot Spitzer. Mr. Cuomo served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for four years under former President Clinton. Mr. Cuomo took 57% of the votes cast.

Also raking in 67% of the vote, Senator Hillary Clinton easily won her bid for re-election and, as this blog is being written, is taking a sort of "victory lap" around New York state to thank her constituents.

New Yorkers showed by their votes that they are not easily influenced by recent events or scandals that mar candidates. Republican Tom Reynolds was re-elected to Congress, following a lot of hooplah regarding the House page scandal involving Tom Foley (now stepped down). State Comptroller Alan Hevesi was also re-elected (soundly), following the disclosure that he had used a state-paid employee to chauffer his ailing wife around town to medical appointments. Hevesi stroked a check for $83,000 back to the state to make restitution but to some Republicans, this wasn't enough. An inquiry was launched and, while the inquiry came back in just days before the election, it brought back the conclusion that, while there were grounds to have Hevesi removed from office, there was nothing illegal or criminal about what he did. One of Mr. Hevesi's responsibilities is the administration of the state retirement system, the one that I belong to. Mr. Hevesi released a statement a couple of years ago that assured the partners in same-sex relationships that their relationships would be honored the same as a heterosexual married couple when it came to these state pensions. Hevesi also raised eyebrows as well as ire when he remarked at a commencement ceremony that "...Senator Charles Schumer was so tough he would "put a bullet between the president's eyes if he could get away with it." Perhaps the voters' numbers in the state indicate that they think it might be a good idea?

What's interesting about the Hevesi situation right now is that, while Eliot Spitzer withdrew his endorsement of Hevesi just prior to the elections, the fact remains that the people have spoken and re-elected the man, giving him 57% of the votes. This situation perplexes current Governor George Pataki, along with other state officials looking into the possibility of removing Mr. Hevesi from office. How do they override the people's voice?

Susan V. John was re-elected to the State Assembly again as well. A few years ago, as the Chair of the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Committee, Ms. John was arrested for DWI and petulantly told reporters that it was her private business. Apparently that one "aw shit" did NOT outweigh all the "attaboys" she's earned in Albany.

Local incumbent Republican Congressional candidates all won their bids for re-election, but only by razor thin margins. Walsh took 51% of the votes, Reynolds 52%, and Kuhl 51.5% -- again, another indicator that the Republican party has garnered disfavor in New York State.

Nationally, the Republican party lost their stranglehold on the American people in both the House and the Senate, with Virginia weighing in today with the news that a source in George Allen's camp has indicated that Mr. Allen will concede to Jim Webb today, giving Democrats the weakest of leads over the Republicans in the Senate. Otherwise, if a recount is demanded and the results show Allen winning, the Senate would be evenly split, with VP Dick Cheney being the deciding vote in anything that would require a simple majority.

In Florida, voter-scandal queen Katherine Harris was squashed by Bill Nelson, with Nelson getting 68% of the votes.

By a slim margin, Arizona voters defeated a proposal to write discrimination into their constitution while, oddly enough, haning on to their Republican leadership. It would appear that Arizona voters support Republican ideals and values while at the same time rejecting the notion that a group of people should be discriminated against because of who they are. Interesting folks, those Arizonians. Seven other states didn't see things that way, though, and voted to amend their state constitutions to ban same-sex couples from marrying.

Along with New York State, several other states changed state leadership from Republican to Democrat.

So. What does it all mean? Besides the obvious, of course? What does it mean for ALL Americans, across the country, regardless of income level, sexual orientation, religious beliefs (or lack thereof), age or gender?

If you ask my son's girlfriend (a STAUNCH Republican mindset and a huge Dubya fan), it's the end of this great country -- a sentiment many of us expressed in 2000 and then again in 2004.

Personally, I think it means that this country is going to get back to being OF the people and BY the people, as opposed to OF the government BY the government. We need to stay in Iraq and clean up Dubya's mess but we need to have an exit plan -- a viable one, devised by knowledgeable and experienced people, not politicians and businessmen.

I think it means that the middle class will no longer support the upper class as well as the lower class. And workers will be able to work at a liveable wage (barely). Our government will no longer be bogged down in the House and Senate voting on symbolic measures (that are sure NOT to pass) designed to bring the favor of special interest groups and to disenfranchise groups of Americans.

I think it means that we'll get back to the things that really are important to the nation as a whole. Education. Health Care. Economy. Services. Hope.

I'm reminded of the closing lines from the movie The Shawshank Redemption:

I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head.

I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border.

I hope to see my friend, and shake his hand.

I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams.

I hope.



Monday, November 06, 2006

What's in a word?

Have you ever heard words that piss you off, even if they're used right?

The word woken does that to me. There's the Sleep Numbers Bed commercial where the guy says "I have not woken up..." In fact, that expression irks me so bad, I actually went to the dictionary and found that, while it's not necessarily grammatically incorrect, it's not necessarily grammatically correct, either.

According to Webster, it's a "...past part of wake" and that's all that's said about the word. It doesn't show it as a verb, noun, adjective, adverb or any other element of speech. Just that it's there.

So, how does that guy in the commercial fix what he says? "I haven't awakened..."

A person I know is one of those types of folks who likes to use $10 words but only has a dollar store brain to use them with. When she's indignant about some atrocity in the world, she says "I can't phantom why someone would do that." Let me see if I've got this straight -- you can't spirit/ghost/spectral figure why someone would do something?

Our neighbor is another one with a bad word habit that annoys me. "The hofstras in the front of the house have started to bloom." You actually have flowering colleges in your front yard?

How about some of those commonly misspelled words we see so much of? "I don't wan't to loose my job." Do you say "GOOZ" when you see the word goose? And, it's definitely, not definately.

Even my own beloved Lisa has a couple of mispronunciations that grate on my nerves. Hon, it's asphalt not ASHphalt. And, there's only one "t" in the little flowers called impatiens. Those flowers don't need to be patient, nor do they lack patience. And, I thought I was going to cough up a hairball when she came inside after spending a couple of hours weeding the gardens and announced "I wed all the beds on the side and front of the house." Honey, we are fighting for marriage equality, but to each OTHER. She protests that it's a Pennsylvania dialect thing, like another Pennsylvanian's "dippy eggs." I'm thinking it's not the eggs that are dippy. We put flowers in a thing that rhymes with the word face not with the place Dorothy and Toto traveled to, even if we are millionaires.

Irregardless really chaps my behind, too. According to Mirriam Webster "Irregardless originated in dialectal American speech in the early 20th century. Its fairly widespread use in speech called it to the attention of usage commentators as early as 1927. The most frequently repeated remark about it is that "there is no such word." There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose. Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance. Use regardless instead. " Yes, please use regardless!

When did bad come to mean good? How is it that a litter of kittens is awfully cute? Is that band's newly released song really wicked cool? When I instant message my son and ask if he'll be home for dinner and he responds with "prolly," does that mean yes?

There are people in this country who advocate speaking one language only -- English. They are arrogant enough to think that speaking and teaching in one language only will save taxpayers money, and will heighten the educational outcomes of our schools. The problem, as I see it, is that even those of us who speak English as a primary language can't speak it correctly so how are we going to reasonably convince those that speak English as a second language that it's in their best interest?

Here in New York, I can go to McDonald's and order a chocolate milkshake. In Massachusetts I would order a frap. That fizzy drink with orange flavor? In some places it's called pop, some places it's called soda, and some places it's called soda pop. If his beer sat around long enough that it wasn't cold any more, my ex-husband used to say it was hot. I never saw any steam coming out of the can, nor did it ever burn my hand when I picked it up.

Footlong sandwiches can be heroes, submarine sandwiches, hoagies, or torpedoes, depending on where you live. If you stand in front of a crowd and want to get their attention in the North, you say "May I have your attention please?" In the south it's "Can y'all give a listen here?" In the military, it's simply "LISTEN UP!"

We've gotten in such a hurry that we don't even use words sometimes. We can watch programming on HDTV, DVD, VHS or an LCD TV. We listen to music on an MP3 player or an iPod. We talk to each other using AOL IM.

On the other extreme, we have a lot of redundancy. We take cash out of an ATM machine (automated teller machine machine). When we do that, we have to enter our PIN number (personal identification number number). After we get our cash out of that ATM machine we go to the DMV to register our new car and they ask for the VIN number on the car (vehicle identification number number). Finally, we get home to find that the hot water heater isn't working properly. I'm wondering why I need to heat hot water anyway. Isn't it already hot?

Finally, let's teach our little ones to speak properly. It's a blanket, not a binkie. It's a train, not a toot-toot. If they're old enough to say "pacifier," (or woobie or pookie or whatever else they call them), they're too old to have the damned thing stuck in their mouths.

Maybe I just need more coffee...or java...or joe.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Take this job and shove it...

I have a worker's comp review today. In March 2005 I fell and busted my sizeable ass outside work on the sidewalk after a snowstorm. I had been fussin' at the Director of Facilities all winter long about the fact that the sidewalk where most of the students and staff come in is rarely treated -- that morning was no different.

When I say I busted my ass, I mean, I busted my ass. There wasn't a spot on the right cheek of my tookas that wasn't bruised and my hip and back were thrown out of alignment pretty badly. I've been under the care of a chiropractor ever since, initially at three times per week, then down to two, and now one. I've had these reviews two other times now. The first one, about a year ago, the chiropractor that examined me concluded that would benefit from exactly six more treatments. The one I saw six months ago said I would benefit from exactly ten more. Interesting, because I didn't see a dart board in either one of their offices. I mean, they have to be using a dartboard to come up with the numbers, right? It's really more of an aggravation than anything else. I don't worry about them because, what happens, happens. It's just an ass-ache.

We had quite a few kids on Halloween. Of course we did, I only bought three bags of candy! In the past two years, I'd purchased 6-8 bags and only went through one so I couldn't see the sense in getting much more than I did. We ran out of candy in the first half hour. Then I started giving out Kashi granola bars. Then we went to microwave popcorn. I was looking in the cupboards for something, anything, that might go in a Halloween bag and spotted the large container of large, soft boullion cubes. We got laughing, the three of us, hootin' and guffawing about how funny it would be to put those big ol' cubes in the kids' bags, them thinking they were caramels, and their mother going through their bag and saying with incredulity, "You got boullion cubes?"

Tell me again how lucky I am to work here...I keep forgetting

I've been drowning in work and finally got caught up to the point where I could breathe again. Like I said to Lisa, I guess I don't hate my job, I hate the position they've put me in for staffing. We have two offices, that used to be staffed by two people each. After I lost an employee two years ago, they decided not to replace her, instead, the asshole that sold me down the river on not replacing the vacancy, managed to get a new position in his own office. He now has more secretaries on his staff in ONE office than I do people in my ENTIRE department, to staff TWO offices.

It really makes it hard to give a shit and I've gotten to where I don't give a shit about coverage for the offices any more. If they don't care, there's no point in me getting myself wound up over whether there's ample coverage for both offices. Last Friday one employee was off and the other called in sick. The other office was closed for the day. That happened a couple of weeks earlier, too. And, while the faculty complains to me about office closures, I merely tell them that complaining to me won't solve the problem, they have to pick up the phone and complain to the people who made the decision and, if they can't be bothered to make that call, I don't want to hear it. Pretty simple.

Lisa has also had some issues at work. She's lost her passion for her job and keeps saying that if the President of the company can't seem to care, it's hard for her to dredge up the sincerity to care as well. I think that if she thought she could get another job quickly, she'd resign today, without something lined up.

Got an email from my lawyer yesterday. It seems that the Assistant Attorney General's office called him, having "gotten wind of" the decision against us this past summer in our lawsuit against my employer. They asked if we're appealing, and if we want them to file an amicus brief on our behalf for the appeal.

For those of you that don't know what an amicus is, here's the legal definition:

Amicus Curiae

Definition: Latin term meaning "friend of the court". The name for a brief filed with the court by someone who is not a party to the case.

"... a phrase that literally means "friend of the court" -- someone who is not a party to the litigation, but who believes that the court's decision may affect its interest." William H. Rehnquist, The Supreme Court, page 89.

Amicus Curiae briefs are filed in many Supreme Court matters, both at the Petition for Writ of Certiorari stage, and when the Court is deciding a case on its merits. Some studies have shown a positive correlation between number of amicus briefs filed in support of granting certiorari, and the Court's decision to grant certiorari. Some friend of the court briefs provide valuable information about legal arguments, or how a case might affect people other than the parties to the case. Some organizations file friend of the court briefs in an attempt to "lobby" the Supreme Court, obtain media attention, or impress members.

"An amicus curiae brief that brings to the attention of the Court relevant matter not already brought to its attention by the parties may be of considerable help to the Court. An amicus curiae brief that does not serve this purpose burdens the Court, and its filing is not favored." Rule 37(1), Rules of the Supreme Court of the U.S.

"FRAP 29. BRIEF OF AN AMICUS CURIAE A brief of an amicus curiae may be filed only if accompanied by written consent of all parties, or by leave of court granted on motion or at the request of the court, except that consent or leave shall not be required when the brief is presented by the United States or an officer or agency thereof, or by a State, Territory or Commonwealth. The brief may be conditionally filed with the motion for leave. A motion for leave shall identify the interest of the applicant and shall state the reasons why a brief of an amicus curiae is desirable. Save as all parties otherwise consent, any amicus curiae shall file its brief within the time allowed the party whose position as to affirmance or reversal the amicus brief will support unless the court for cause shown shall grant leave for a later filing, in which event it shall specify within what period an opposing party may answer. A motion of an amicus curiae to participate in the oral argument will be granted only for extraordinary reasons." Rule 29. Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.


It would seem to me that this would be a real score for us, with it coming from the Attorney General's office. In addition, they will reference the opinion released by AG Eliot Spitzer in March of 2004 regarding same-sex marriages that originate outside the jurisdiction of NY State.

There's an interesting op-ed in the NY Times today about elitism in BOTH parties and how the rich and famous rarely send their children to war any more. It's a great read.


I'm off tomorrow. I've been taking the first Friday of each month off since I've been flying solo -- sort of a "recharge" day for me. My plan is to try to get at least 10 rows of knitting done (and with 296 stitches per row, that's a lot) .
Lisa's sister and niece are coming up from Pennsylvania tomorrow to spend the weekend with us. We're planning on going to the mall on the east side of the city (it's really big and just so much better than the ones nearer us). I'm putting on some "white chili" in the crock pot, and some Hawaiian sweet bread in the breadmaker for Saturday. Lisa's really jazzed about her sister coming up, as it'll be the first time she's been up since Lisa moved in with me six years ago.
Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Monster Mash


*snicker* Welcome to MY world!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Wrapping up the week


An interesting piece of news coming out of the notoriously anti-gay state, Virginia, indicates that polls show that, even though the majority of voters support a ban on same-sex marriages, it is not by a wide margin at all, as previously thought. Only 52 percent of voters surveyed said they support the amendment. While that may prove to have little comfort value for the GLBT community living in Virginia if the amendment passes, I think it clearly shows them that they're not completely alone in that state.

Of course, if the ballot measure had been written to exclude same-sex marriage ONLY, I suspect it would pass by a landslide. However, the framers of the measure were short-sighted enough to believe that a measure that would ban partnerships of any kind between non-married people, regardless of gender mixes, would pass.

I have long said that ballot measure votes should not be passed by a simple majority because in many areas of the country, the majority is often defined by people who belong to a specific group, whether it be race, religion, or something else.

For example, let's say that 51% of the people that live in Utah are Mormon and the remaining 49% are not. (I'm just using random numbers here, so don't get all cranked about it, okay?). They're given a ballot measure to make Mormonism the state religion and, in so doing, all government will be run according to Mormon beliefs.

If all of the Mormons vote for the measure, based on their religious beliefs, then the minority has no chance at all even though they may have all voted against the measure.

Ballot measures should pass only by a 2/3 majority or a margin percentage or some other measuring stick, not unlike the way the Senate votes. The democratic process is flawed in the simple "majority rules" concept. It's not democratic, it's the majority oppressing the minority in some instances. This is why it's important to have larger gaps dictate the passage or failure of these sorts of ballot measures.

If this sort of system was in place, I would wager that Virginia would see this measure defeated and some of the states that have already passed amendments to their constitution would not have been able to do so.


In our sue-happy or I-can-get-some-big-money-out-of-this society, I can only shake my head as I read this article about a woman who went to a Kansas City Royals game and was struck by a foul ball and now wants the team to pay her medical bills. To me, this is the same mentality as that which was displayed by the two men a few years back who decided to use a lawn mower to trim shrubs. They rigged the safety mechanism so the mower wouldn't stop when they let go of it and they both picked the running lawnmower up by the deck, and lost their fingertips. They sued the manufacturer of the lawnmower, alleging that nothing in the equipment's instructions told them not to pick it up that way. When you go to a baseball game, and sit up front near the third base line, you have to expect foul balls and exercise a certain amount of awareness of your surroundings. I might be silly but I honestly think that personal safety is an individual responsibility first. I'm not saying that she didn't protect herself, not at all. But I am saying that, by buying the ticket and sitting in the seat, you assume a certain level of risk and, as long as the team isn't negligent, it just sucks to be you if you're hit by a stray ball.


I could make MYSELF gag with this! LOL!


You Are Not Scary

Everyone loves you. Isn't that sweet?



Have a great weekend!