Saturday, September 29, 2007

About what I'm doin' today

And one thing is not writin' much. I'll let others do the work...
"An intellectual snob is someone who can listen to the William Tell Overture and not think of The Lone Ranger." -- Dan Rather
I think I'm safe from that label. Hi-ho, Silver.

Friday, September 28, 2007

About readin'

It's one of those weird weeks where we feel like we hear about one person after another being struck with a Dread Disease.
A second cousin's sarcoma has spread. A doctor at Ang's work had surgery for a brain tumor today. A senior friend must have a mastectomy next week. You know that kind of stretch.
So, naturally, one thinks a little about one's own possible outcomes.
My dad, in his 80s, got a little obsessed last year about having an "advanced directive" in place. You know, you direct your loved ones to pull the plug asap if you should fall into some type of coma. I have my directives from him in spades.
But, I had to agree with him. Who wants to linger in a coma? BORING!
But my directive to my loved ones will probably be a little different from his.
My loved ones will have to answer three questions:
Can she move her eyes?
Can she follow TV?
Can she listen to an iPod?
Notice that eating nor moving is a part of this list. I mean, when you've spent the better part of a year losing 50 pounds, eating, much loved and necessary as it is, also becomes something of a burden--"Am I eating the right thing? Am I eating too much of this? How many calories have I had today?" I mean, it's been a couple years since I did it, and I'm still tired of worrying so much about what I eat.
Ditto moving. I'm a lazy ass anyway. And exercising, which I've learned is oh so necessary to my anti-obesity crusade, is alien to my being. But I force myself to do it anyway. The temptation of not doing it is ... enticing.
But reading--now that is vital to my very being. I don't ever think about not reading. Ever since I was 9. Reading is breathing, eating, thinking, being, living. I love to read the most of all.
So ... if I couldn't move ... could I listen to digital books? Can I watch movies on TV? See where my questions are takin' my love ones? Can I, somehow, read?
And why everybody's questions for their loved ones would be different? Because, for example, if you hated to read but loved to smoke, my questions would be useless to you! Because reading about somebody smoking--or watching them smoke on TV--is just is not going to cut it for a smoker. You'd be wantin' the plug jerked.
So, that leads into, what about your questions? What's important to you?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

About bein' crafty

Last night I went to a Stampin' Up party, where one buys decorative stamps of all kinds, with the energetic expectation of making something with the stamps--like a greeting card. I went with the expectation of someone giving me a cookie, and I was not disappointed.
Since they gave me a cookie, I thought the least I could do was participate in the crafts, since that's why you have the party anyway. The construction involved sharp objects, but no fire, so I thought it was probably safe for me to try.
The Stampin' Up leader had samples for us to look at, and of course they were perfectly beautiful, and made you want to never buy another store-made card again, and devote your life to making works of art for all one's families and friends.
Or, not so much, but at least try to make the Halloween card she passed out supplies for.
I knew I was in trouble when the first thing we had to do was use this big roller-stamping thingy on a strip of paper. The stamp was of a Halloweeny-woods-and-bats kind of scene. And of course, although I tried FOUR times, I could not line the stamp edge up with the edge of the paper, and it looked my Halloween woods scene was cut off at the knees.
I told the rest of the party that an earthquake had occurred, and the fault line had shifted right at tree level.
The next step involved stamping three different color moons across the trees. Were my moons in a nice, straight line, such as the moon traces across the night sky? No. Of course not. My multi-colored moons looked as if the earthquake had been so strong as to knock the moon(s) right out of the sky, or at least disrupt their revolutions.
We then had to tie a ribbon around the strips-of-paper-and-Halloween-woods thing. I think the ribbon-tying was my strong moment. The only one.
Because then we had to affix the whole shebang to the card stock using double-sided tape. Let's just say an aftershock occurred, and the decorative-woods-and-ribbon part is rather artistically--in my view!--slanted across the front of the card.
So I ended up with a very scary Halloween card that is extremely geologically challenged.
The party was fun, anyway, and I did get that cookie.
So, how about you? What are you bein' crafty about today?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

About goin' gray ... or NOT

Can a Gray-Haired Lady Find a Date? A Job? - Newsweek Society - "Can a woman let her hair go gray at 50 and still be considered attractive? The author of a new book on beauty and aging decided to find out."
Maybe you read this story online. I did.
And I looked at the pictures of that lady, at her with nice, dark brown hair, and then with half-brown and half-gray hair and then with all gray... and immediately went out and bought some hair dye.
Because, damn, she looks OLD in those "after" pictures. And I would think the answer to both those questions in the headline would be, "NO SHE WILL NOT!"
Neither I, or my family, nor the general public, have seen much of my real hair color in several years. I am owed a big "thanks!" for this attention to detail. Because I have seen my roots--even just three-quarters of an inch at a time--and believe me, they are butt-ugly.
How did my formerly dark-chestnut brown hair--not a color that made people gasp with surprise at its beauty, but perfectly adequate--descend into such uber-drabness? I mean, that stripe down my part looks like a possum has taken up residence on my head!
And this is the kind of reality I'm supposed to accept, and foist upon myself every time I look in the mirror, and on my loved ones every day, and the public at large? I think not.
Here's why: It's about something bigger--no, not about discrimination against older women. But rather, it's about believing in a good, benevolent God.
Here's why. For reasons known only to a masculine deity, he chooses to let our hair follicles loose their ability to produce color as we get older. So he's looking down on us and we're all lookin' like so many sinks of dirty dishwater.
And in his goodness, God thinks, what can I do to help these poor ladies overcome the little mistake I made with their hair follicles?
And in the 20th century, God recreated Miss Clairol. Thank you, God! Way to go, God!
How can we say no to the generosity of such a beauty-conscious Creator? I can't.
So that's why I ran out and bought that Garnier Nutrisse Light Golden Brown with the grape seed and avocado oils that's sittin' on my head this minute.
Gotta go. The thirty minutes are up.
Well, what about you? How's your head holdin' up?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

About buying stuff on eBay

Because it's addictive, and you can get really good deals, and there's just so much stuff there, and if you lose once you just try again, and SOMEBODY MAKE ME STOP.
My latest, best buy: A Pioneer Inno XM radio/MP3 player. The long hours at work are so hard to fill with good entertainment as I stare at my screens. This Inno will let me record up to 50 hours of XM radio recordings...and listen all week at work. I may have just cured my workday ennui!
These little babies retail for $300 or $400, depending on which model you get. I paid...$95. For a used-once box full of musical possibilities.
Now I'm bidding on a car kit, which retail for about $70. I'm hoping to snag one for $40. Keep your fingers crossed.
What else have I bought? Oh, cheap Italian charms...handbags...a PCTV bluetooth earpiece...a new cell phone battery...picture printer cartridges.
What I need to do is SELL on eBay. But that enterprise seems fraught with stress. The receipts, the postage, the shipping, the shipping materials, the feedback. I sold a used book once--ONCE--on Amazon, and the lady got mad because it was sent third class book rate, and she lived on the West Coast, and the book took forever to get there, and she sent me a nasty email, and I was very freaked about it, and never tried it again.
I guess I am a buyer, not a seller.
Well, how about you? Are you buyin', or sellin'?

Monday, September 24, 2007

About what CSI means to me

We may be the only family in America that doesn't watch any of the CSI: Whatever shows, but that doesn't mean we don't conduct our own version of CSI.
Here in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, we conduct CSI: Christmas Scene Investigation.
Yes, we few are are specially trained, ever-vigilant detectives of the worst type of crime of all: inappropriate, out-of-season Christmas decorations, indoors or out.
You know the offenders--and I'm not just talking obvious stuff, like the trailer trash leaving their icicle lights up all year long.
It's the lady next door who leaves her artificial Christmas tree with the doggie decorations up all year long ... cos she wuv her wittle doggie so much....
It's the people who are so danged efficient in their preparations--and I know more than one--and who have so dang much stuff, they feel they have to start early to get it all done. Starting early MIGHT be okay ... IF you don't light it until a less offensive date. But once someone has done all that work, how many can resist showing off their handiwork?
Of course, violations are rampant on a commercial level! What self-respecting capitalist can resist shoving that Halloween merchandise over JUST A LITTLE for those Christmas villages, those blow-up snowmen? And who among us hasn't been offended by even ever-so-tastefully decorated trees--such as I saw in Von Maur just last Friday night--while I was wearing SHORTS? That called for a code red, level ten citation!
What is the CSI violation criteria? In the loosest interpretations, November 1 is the okay date for stores to start displaying merchandise. We who have worked in retail understand the need to prepare!
October one is a code yellow, seriously encroaching on Halloween territory.
Of course, Thanksgiving marks the official, no citations-ever-issued official launch of the season.
But anything in September or before -- that gets reported right to the Big Red Guy.
(You know who I mean. Red uniform. White trim. Disguised by a beard. Works one day a year. THAT guy in the Main Office.)
Of course, you know there are exceptions: Families who celebrate early/late for the sake of loved ones who are leaving/coming home from deployments. No problem with CSI in these cases.
Those stores who are established, all-year-round Christmas stores. For example, all of Frankenmuth, Michigan. And there's a store at Disney World. Ever-so-slight exemptions for gift shops who dedicate a portion of their stores for Christmas decorations--and there are a few who can do this tastefully. We let these slip by.
Also, just west of us on U.S. 30 is a company that makes those big outdoor light displays, such as communities might use in a Christmas lights display. They have a little hill they keep stuff on, and lighted up, all year 'round. We understand this type of commercial venture, and the need to let people see their product, and understand the necessary violation. Excused.
But the neighbor who lets his shrubbery remain lighted, on automatic lights, right through the end of January? COAL IN THE STOCKING FOR THEM!
The city that lets their candy canes remain on their lightposts through February? BUSTED.
The Wal-marts who start putting cheesy plastic Santas on the shelves in October? BOYCOTTED!
Come, join our CSI team. All it takes is an eagle eye for a stray white light, a flash of a red bow. Let Santa know when folks are taking advantage of his season.
So, what are you thinkin' about inappropriate holiday decorations? Will you join our team?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

About when you have a busy Saturday

You depend on someone's else's words to get you off the hook:

"My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: when you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip" -- Elmore Leonard.

Even if it does hit too close to home.

Hey, take a day off. Quit thinkin'!

Friday, September 21, 2007

About the names of things

Because last night I turned around in an addition called "Watersong," and I thought that was really pretty, but had a feeling this addition was as poorly named as most additions in our area.
I'm guessing it was built in a former farm field. And if there's any water there now, it's from a retention pond. If there was water there before, it was a swampy mosquito-infested wetland. The "song" part might be a little more realistic--probably a bird or two visited.
Now, the addition behind us is called Deerfield, and it's an older one--built 30 years or so ago. I bet it was fairly realistically named back in the day, because when we first moved to the area 20 years ago, deer did roam in a field nearby, herds of them.
That field (and the deer) have long since been replace by several additions with "Westchester" in their names--note, we are nowhere near Great Britain--and a school called Deer Ridge Elementary, now is the only "deer" in the area.
Down the highway is my personal favorite, an addition called "Falls of Beaver Creek." I'm sure you can guess this one: No falls. No beaver. No creek. This is northern Indiana, astute readers -- any falls there existed before the last glacier melted. That is, not counting the fake falls built by the developer, which have not been working this summer, anyway. Beaver--vacated the last century, habitat long gone. Creek--now a drainage ditch. I vote for renaming it, the Dry Fake Falls of No Beaver Ditch.
Oh, I must tell you, I do have a little pet name for this one, you know how easy it is to get one's beginning consonants mixed up! "Balls of Fever Creek."
Here's another couple of favorites: "Pine Valley." Valley!? Now, maybe in the way-back machine there was a pine or two here--and residents have since planted more--but, geography buds, the "valley" has never been more than a sand trap near the club house.
Oh, how about this: Red Cedar Canyon! I can hardly type THAT one! NO CEDARS, RED OR OTHERWISE. NO CANYON. (See note about "valley," above.)
Just one more: Eagle Creek. NO EAGLES. NO CREEK.
We are going to lobby for full disclosure in addition naming. We are volunteering to help developers name their new additions in a realistic manner! Yes! Here's some free samples developers can choose from:
Lookalike Beige Boxes In a Former Corn Field.
Corners of Drained Farm Field.
Stripped-Away Woods Behind Former Farmhouse.
Really Flat Featureless Land of Covington Road.
Boring House Rows of Farm Field Place.
Homesteads of No Eagles, No Canyon, No Bluff, No Falls.
Well, how 'bout you? What's your addition named?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

About go, Tribe

I don't even know if I can characterize the kind of baseball fan I am.
Casual? Check. Fair weather? Oh yea. (Which is why I'm not a CUBS fan, like the rest of my family.) Only mildly informed? Right. Rabid when the need arises? Amen.
In other words, GO INDIANS.
I grew up in northern Ohio, and the drone of a baseball game on the radio was as much a part of summer as the crickets and the rumble of thunder in the distance. In the '60s, baseball was still America's game, and its presence more ubiquitous than now.
So after I moved here, to northern Indiana, my interest waned a bit, plus the Indians sucked. But when Jacobs Field opened in the '90s, and the team improved, I came back. Don't even mention Tampa Bay to me.
And my heart's been broken over the past decade more than once. Yet here we are again, in control of a pennant race, just three Cleveland wins/Twinkie losses away from going to the post-season one more time.
So the first thing I do every morning is check my Google homepage, which has a scores/standings module on it. And if I'm online at night, I've got Gameday on, following the game. And if the Tribe is playing the White Sox, I get to see them. Or if they are the game of the week. Or if I'm visiting Ohio.
We could clinch this weekend. I may need a doctor visit for some Xanax for October. Cleveland Rocks.
Hey, what about you? Who's takin' you out to the ballgame?

About pandemic flu and small children's colds

Now why, on a beautiful September morning, would I spend one minute thinking of pandemic illness of any type? Hang with me.

The little girls are staying with us this week while their parents are on vacation, and the bubbly chaos they bring is fun and exhausting. Their chatter is often hilarious and their need to snack voracious.

The bad news is, they both have colds. The runny nose-and-coughing kind of colds that kids seem to get one after another all winter long, from the time they are babies to the time they are about, oh, age 10. (The age 10 number is not pulled from thin air, but rather from my vast experience of raising two children who had one cold after another, all winter long, until the aforementioned age.)

So we are spending the week feeding and playing and wiping the runny noses and giving out medicine.

The colds they have are not an influenza pandemic, and that's not why I was thinking of one.

Our book club met last night, our first meeting of our season, and I was the presenter of our first book--The Great Influenza, by John M. Barry. I also pitched this book to the group last spring, when we were choosing books for the year, and the ladies agreed that it would be a good addition. A lively discussion ensued.

The flu pandemic of 1918-1919 was terrible: it struck young people the worst, it killed off the soldiers who had just survived The Great War, it killed quickly, usually of pneumonia, and it spread quickly around the world.

Could a pandemic happen in the 21st century? The reading I did suggests it could, but the effects of the flu might be very different--we understand better about the way disease spreads, we have better medical care, and hopefully, we learned something from past pandemics. We'll see, I guess. I keep washing my hands.

I'm expecting a small epidemic at my house. Those little runny noses are just leaking viruses. Just how immune is a 51-year-old to the miasma of viruses being spewed about? Stay tuned.

So, how about you? How's your immune system holding up?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

About my spam

The email kind, not the processed meat--although kind of.

Because going through it is one of the first things I do at work in the morning, and it is far from my favorite task. Matter of fact, sometimes it make me sick.

Our spam filter at work is pretty strict, and I have to go through it email by email because mixed in with all the mortgage offers and online pharmacies and the fortunes I've inherited from Nigerian widows, and, well, porn, are emails from normal (I must assume) people letting me know the deficiencies of our web site or a problem they had ordering or sometimes even a compliment.

You know, I seem to collect jobs that force me into gross tasks first thing in the morning. When I worked as an editor for the bowhunters, I opened all the mail. And those bowhunters, man, they were proud of the mammals they killed. And they wanted to share it. In pictures. Color. With me. Dead. Animals. At. Nine. In. The. Morning.

My spam grosses me out even more. I shall share a small sampling. In the interest of a family-friendly site, which we are here at I woke up thinkin', I am disguising the potentially offensive words, substituting the always-useful "W" as a clocking device, which I know you will thank me for, especially if you are reading this in the a.m. I am NOT correcting grammar, syntax, capitalization, and other scholarly problems:

Come and see the wrightest side of swoody
Wenis Enlargment Pills - Its weally works
Now, after taking Wonderwum for 1 month, we are both very wappy
You will be able to wenetrate weeper
You've got ED wroblem
A warger and more wuscular wenis is also more of a natural....
One set helps westes to product more werms
My bwanger is WUGE now thanks to these wuys
My woyfriend's wool keeps swipping out
My woyfriend's wecker keeps swipping out
Do you want to wenlarge your wenis?
Saved my marriage
A bigger wock will always be better
my wife has never been wappier
I just started having wex, and my woyfriend keeps wopping out
When I tried to give him woral wex, I wractically woked
Great wex? It is pwobable!
want your wanger to be bigger...
do yu shy due to shortWenis?

And the lesson here, class: There is none. Avoid spam at all costs.

So, how about you? Have you ever been wappier weading your spam?

Monday, September 17, 2007

About O.J. Simpson

Which is not a very pleasant way to wake up, as I'm sure you're aware.

And since better writers than I already have blogged this much funnier results (Scott Adams») I will not beat the subject with a black leather glove.

But, then, if thinking about O.J. is a bad way to wake up ... what are worse ways?

Well, I could have woken up as O.J., in handcuffs in a jail somewhere, with no bail set, because it sucks to be him. Explain this one to the kids, O.J.

I could I have woken up as Bruce Fromong, the guy in the hotel room that O.J. was trying to get his stuff back from, although, on second, I might be feeling pretty good right now. Because not only did Bruce not get shot during that aggressively friendly little intrusion, but, if O.J. would get convicted of THIS one, he would be a party in putting The Juice in jail for up to 30 years, making the Brown and Goldman families pretty happy, I'm sure.

I could have woken up as a Las Vegas police officer, like Lt. Clint Nichols. Because what else but trouble can a big celebrity arrest be, when you're already busy trying to corral all those Red Hat Ladies in buses? Plus corruption and stuff!

I could have woken up as Simpson's attorney, like Yale Galanter, who is probably wishing a) he was with Johnny Cochran right now, or b) that Johnny Cochran was with him.

So, see? Now that I've put it in perspective, it's not so bad wakin' up and just thinkin' about O.J. Because I got up and was just ME.

Well, how about you? What celebrity did you wake up thinkin' about this morning?

P.S. I'm also glad I didn't wake up as Britney Spears.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

About I lied yesterday

Because it was not a day of rest, it was a day of busy, and I woke up thinkin' about all the day would hold. And my head almost exploded.
Hold onto your wig:
Friday: Get up, go to work. Work all morning, go to lunch with friends. Work all afternoon. Leave work and take a friend to her apartment and then on to the airport. Go home. Tony, Jayme and McKenna come over to spend the weekend because they have so much to do in town. Go down to Jefferson Pointe for dinner and shopping. Meet Ang and the girls. Guys leave to go to a high school football game. Girls shop and have Starbucks. Ang takes little girls and heads for home. Jayme, McKenna and I go home. Guys arrive shortly after. McKenna goes to bed. We exchange stories of the evening, watch the local news, and go to bed.
Saturday: Up at 7:15. Fix breakfast. Load up cars and go to Julian's football game, meeting Ang, Matt, and little girls. Jayme and Angela leave to work at Johnny Appleseed festival. Matt has to go round at the hospital. After the game (our team won!), the remaining grownups take the little girls back to Ang's. Greg and Tony go to get some breakfast at McDonalds while I watch the little girls. We eat and chill awhile. Matt gets home. Then we pack up and head for the festival, which is Pioneer Central, yet way too full of post-modern attendees.
We load McKenna in the stroller, take Caroline and Taylor by the hand, and head for the crowd. As it turns out Ang and Jayme did not have to work due to over-zealous scheduling. We meet them by the food tent and start hitting all our favorite food spots (caramel apples, sarsaparilla). We take the girls down to the kids area; I stand in line for corn bread. On the way out, we also hit the corn on the cob. Tony and Jayme leave first to get McKenna down for her nap; Ang and Matt take the girls home; Greg and I hit Steve & Barry's on our way home.
Everyone has a rest back at our house (Ang and Matt, at their house). Tony and Jayme get ready and go to their concert. Greg and I take McKenna to dinner at Pizza Hut, then grocery shopping at Meijer. We head home, play with McKenna awhile, then she goes to bed. We watch some college football, Tony and Jayme get home, we chill awhile, then it's off to bed.
Sunday: up about 8, get some breakfast, watch Sunday Morning. Greg and Tony go to golf (9 holes). Jayme and I do some house chores, especially after McKenna goes down for her nap. I work on laundry, too. The guys get home about 12:30, McKenna is up, we load up and go to lunch at Buckets sports bar so we can watch the Colts game. After we eat we head for Lowe's to buy a cabinet for my laundry area.
After we get home, the guys try to get the cabinet up, but some parts are missing and they have to go back to Lowe's. Jayme takes a nap and I play with McKenna. The guys get back only to find another part is missing so they give up and just watch football. We fix a light repast since lunch was so late. Ang, Matt and girls come over, bringing fresh apple pie and chocolate ice cream, the perfect dinner. Ang and Matt hang around a little, then take off to get ready for vacation; they are leaving for Vegas tomorrow and we are keeping the girls all week and will have Julian on Tuesday (it's his week at his dad's). Tony, Jayme, and McKenna leave; it was a blast to have them all weekend and it's saved them gallons of gas.
The girls will have their baths in a few minutes and go to bed; we will crash and watch Sunday Night football.
Next week: stay tuned. And take a deep breath.
So, how about you? If you're not too exhausted by reading this, what's keepin' you busy?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

About I better be takin' Saturday off this week

Maybe you should be too. Quit thinkin'!

George Eliot said, "It is never too late to be what you might have been..."

Friday, September 14, 2007

About daylight savings time

Indiana is daylight-savings-time challenged.
We've lived here since 1975, and this is the first year that Hoosiers have deigned to observe this energy-saving, evening-extending time shift.
The arguments against it have stunned me for over 30 years. It became a badge of honor for the state to totally ignore the time habits of the rest of the country (Arizona and Hawaii excepted).
It was the classic anti-lemmings argument: Just because everyone else is doing it, why should we?
And every year I would think: Do these people live in holes and never, ever interact with anyone who doesn't live in their county?
(And the answer to that is often: yes.)
Because as much as the anti-DST crowd bragged about how easy it was on Hoosiers NOT to have to change any and all of their clocks in spring and fall, they did not seem to notice the havoc it wreaked on their TV schedules! Because every year, when the rest of the country would change their time, and the TV stations following suit, all of a sudden the national news was on an hour sooner (or later), the prime time shows began an hour sooner (or later), and the news then came on an hour sooner (or later).
A couple years ago, the local stations discovered massive TiVo-ing, and all our TV during DST months became time-delayed. Even American Idol. Which meant that just about the time the finalists were singing their last songs, I could hop online and find out who won. Because reality is best experienced in real time.
The TV created a little blip in my evening viewing habits, but the real pain in the ass was at work--because we work with people all around the country (even, sometimes, the world). Regularly. And when trying to plan any out-of-Indiana meeting or conference call, it became a who's on first conversation of: What time is it there? Are you two hours or three hours behind us? Or ahead? Oh it's two hours now and three hours in the fall. Or the other way around. Imagine what it did to people trying to plan delivery schedules, or airline flights!
And it drove our families nuts--because they live in Ohio. And part of the year we would be on the same time, and part of the year, an hour behind. And no one could ever remember this, and if it was the hour ahead or hour behind, and so your phone would ring at weird times with people just want to say HI! Or, we would need to call them, and forget, and about 10 p.m. our time remember, and have to think: No, they are in bed now. Wait until tomorrow.
Well, one Republican governor and a hell of a cat fight in the state legislature later, the mountain came to Mohamed, and my impossible dream of Indiana finally coming into real time came true.
Our families are no longer confused (about this, anyway), our packages and flights are all straight, and it's a piece of cake scheduling concalls at work.
One thing. Just one. I miss that sunshine at 6:30 a.m. But not enough to fall back to non-observance.
Time to go. What time is it where you're at?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

About 100,000

If you love candy like me, maybe when you hear the number "100,000," you think of a $100,000 Grand candy bar, which upon Googling to find out the correct name, I just discovered has been renamed the $100 Bar, I don't know why.
But the $100,000 Grand candy bar I love has chocolate, crispies, caramel and God knows what else, and it is wonderful. I haven't had one in some time, having made quite the effort to lose 50 pounds a couple of years ago, and these little pieces of heaven not exactly being conducive to that endeavor. However, having now gotten the image of this tasty tidbit in my head, one sure sounds good....
But candy is not what has got me thinkin' about 100,000. For a change. No, it's my car that's put 100,000 in my head. Because sometime today, probably on my way home from work, somewhere between Roanoke and Ft. Wayne, I'm guessing, my odometer is going to flip over just one little number, from a "9" to a "0," and my car will officially pass the vehicular milestone that will take it from hearty middle-age to senior citizenship.
My little silver car will have 100,000 miles on it.
I've known it was coming, of course--last oil change, Dwayne-my-mechanic warned me I'd be needing my 100,000-mile tuneup next time. I think it was then the feeling of dread descended on my driving, and I began watching the odometer tick away miles, each one bringing my buggy closer to The Milestone.
A friend at work has a gold Chevy Cavalier that has served her well and has over 120,000 miles on it. Just yesterday she took it to Dwayne. She's been hearing an annoying whining noise and wanted it checked out. Dwayne's diagnosis?
"It's just getting old."
I feel that pain. I'm whining a lot more too, now that I've passed the equivalent in human miles (that would be, 50 years).
Here's the good news about my near AARP-ready car: four more payments and it's mine!
Tonight I'll be driving along, just like any other night, listening to All Things Considered and planning my evening. But I'll be odometer-watching too, and I'm going to have my camera ready to a couple of snaps. Why not celebrate the inevitable?
I think I'll buy a $100,000 Grand bar, and have it ready. No better way to mark a milestone than with chocolate, right?
How about you? What milestone will be you celebratin' with a candy bar?
[Update: It happened on my way home]

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

About trying to find ground zero

Last May we had a conference for work in New York City. Our days were filled with work stuff, but we managed to steal a few hours everyday to see the stuff on our lists.
On Saturday, before I flew home, we had a full morning planned. After a Starbucks run for breakfast, we took off walking down Adams Street towards the Brooklyn Bridge. We'd walked across the Manhattan Bridge earlier in the week, and the views just took our breath away.
The Brooklyn was even better. On the Manhattan, the walkway was next to the road, but of course the Brooklyn is elevated, and you feel on top of the world.
But I came to a point near the apex, with the Statue of Liberty to my left, and all Manhattan in front of me, and the walkway full of walkers, bikers, commuters and tourists, that made me flash back a minute.
Because where we were headed was the former site of the World Trade Center, the former Ground Zero, the part of the New York skyline that isn't there anymore. That thought took my breath away, too.
And as we walked through the cool, sunny spring morning, I realized it was a lot like that morning in September 2001. And I was on the very bridge that so many people walked over, escaping the terror, that day, people covered in dust and debris and worse. People looking nothing but shell-shocked. People putting one foot in front of the other, thinking only of getting home. People whose lives had been touched -- shattered -- by something that I had just watched on TV.
Because sometimes I feel like, as much talk as I've heard, and TV I've watched, and stuff I've read, my life has been pretty untouched by 9/11. Oh, I take my shoes off when we fly like the best of them, and my ID is at the ready, but really...we were lucky. We live far away, we didn't know anyone killed or injured. Mostly, it seemed surreal--
Until that May day.
Once we got over the bridge, we weren't really sure where to go, or just how far away the site was. So we hauled out a map, and tried to calculate how far we might have to walk, and did we have to take the subway, and how long that might take.
So we wandered down the street, and came to a info kiosk, and gathered 'round to reconnoiter.
Our talking and pointing drew the attention of a nicely dressed young man who worked in a nearby store.
"Where are you trying to go?" he asked.
"World Trade Center," we said. "Do we have to get on the subway?"
"It's right there," he said, pointing behind us. "Just right there."
Well, we laughed -- and I'm sure he had a good laugh at us -- and felt pretty stupid, but ya know, we're from Indiana, and the main landmark is just not there anymore, so how were we to know?
So just a block over, we found St. Paul's Chapel that had survived, somehow, and had been the rescue center, and then the cemetery behind it, and of course, the site itself just behind that. And spent a quiet hour looking at the chapel's displays, and reading the plaques, and taking in the cemetery, and, finally, crossing the street to what's now a big construction site. Oh, there's huge pictures, and more plaques, and tributes, and contemplative people looking at it all, but it was hard to imagine both things: the behemoth buildings that had once filled the space, or the smoking, sacred debris that the buildings (and the people in them) became.
So on my desk at work, is a picture: It's the view of Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge walkway, before the reluctant planes took the towers away. The wooden sidewalk stretches to the distance, and the wonderful, stringy symmetry of the supporting cables, and all the skyline, meaning the twin towers, too.
Today, I looked at the picture, and remembered the river of people, and how I finally found Ground Zero.
How about you? What were you rememberin'?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

About what happened with the dough

I'm pretty culinarily challenged.
So, with visitors in town, a family dinner was planned for Sunday night. What to have? Stromboli from a favorite quick-fix recipe met with universal approval.
The ingredients were purchased --several meats and cheeses on Thursday night, then the frozen bread loaves -- five loaves, in a big bag -- on Saturday afternoon.
While putting the groceries away, I decided to let the loaves thaw on the counter, planning to put them in the frig overnight, ready for rolling out and layering with the foodstuffs Sunday night.
All was good while the loaves were in my plain sight, until Saturday about 6 p.m. That's when the pizza came for the big Notre Dame game pizza party, and I moved the loaves to make room for the pizza.
I moved the loaves to a place out of the way, a place ... I didn't have to look at them. Oh, sweet regret! I should have just put them in the frig.
But no.
We had our pizza, and watched the unfortunate Notre Dame game, and Jayme and I went to the bookstore for a little bit, and the evening was busy, and we were beat and went to bed.
But the dough did not.
And the dough lived, and breathed, and grew through the night. The dough had too much time to think, and began to plan that it could take over my kitchen, and indeed, perhaps the very house.
At 7 a.m., I awoke, and began to plan the day ahead, reviewing the evening's menu in my head.
And remembered ... the dough.
I flew down the stairs, into the kitchen, and there it was:
The frightening, expanding dough.
It has stretched its bag to bursting ... escaped the bag closure ... spilled onto the counter, swelling beyond imagination, on its was to the floor, and the rest of the house ...
I sprang into action, kneading to contain it before it overcame my loved ones, punched it down, wrestled it into a garbage bag, and hefted it out of the house, saving my family from sure annihilation by yeast products.
I fell back in bed, exhausted from the fight, high on adrenaline, furious I'd just wasted five loaves of frozen bread, yet proud of my superhero efforts.
Jayme and Tony brought reinforcements later that morning, and the stromboli came off excellently for dinner, but believe me, I didn't take my eyes off that new dough all afternoon as it defrosted on the counter. I don't trust it.
So, what about you? Wrestled any dinner ingredients lately?

Monday, September 10, 2007

About weird organisms

Well, we were talking about work stuff and Jayme said, you know, I couldn't do Jen's job, and I asked, why?
Seems that Jen, a nurse, works in the Surgical/Trauma Intensive Care Unite (STICU) has to deal with a lot of particularly virulent germs. Like one that ate a poor woman's lungs!
"She has to deal with some weird organisms," Jayme said. "I couldn't do that."
"Oh yea we do," says me, "We both have to deal with some pretty weird organisms at work every day."
The light bulb illuminated over her head and she laughed.
"Oh yea I do...!"
I have worked with some potentially lethal organisms over the years.
I think particularly of Sue, who taught me what being stressed really was. Before anyone was a drama queen, she was. She led the pack in obsessive paranoia, and, being the daughter of doctors, and having a nursing degree in addition to her writing degree, she knew hypochondria and medication like she knew her last name. She was hyper and chatty and completely self-centered, and spending the day with her was like walking into a popcorn popper that never quit. I had no clue what "anxiety attack" meant until I met Sue. I don't think I've been the same since. My heart rate is still elevated after spending 8 hours a day in an office with her for two years. And this was in the '80s.
Then there was Brian. The worst kind of boss, unctuously caring, slyly backstabbing. Another obsessive compulsive (is there an epidemic?), victim of bad self-esteem, and passive aggressive to boot. What a joy to spend 10 years working with that man! I'd have terrible bad dreams about him, and he is the only fellow employee I ever felt like I carried around in my head with me. It took me two years after he retired to get rid of him.
So, how about you? What weird organisms are you tryin' to wash off your hands?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

About a short quote for a Sunday

Because we should all be restin', so don't spend any more time here.

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!” -- Jack Kerouac

Saturday, September 8, 2007

About girl's bathrooms

Now about this Senator Craig thing.
I just have really learned more than I needed to know about the behavior of guys in their restrooms. (Gay guys, anyway.)
So I was talking about this with a friend who flies out of the Minneapolis airport regularly, and we asked her, have you seen this restroom? And she says, NO, there's TOO LONG A LINE! Of people rubbernecking the gay-guy-pick-up-restroom!
She also added that this restroom is infamous on the Internet! Directions to it, descriptions of it, pictures of it, even, so you know which men's restroom to go to (although how pictures would help I have no idea, seeing as all airport restrooms look the same).
Our conversation segued to the nastiness in general of guys' bathrooms, because guys are messy people, regardless of sexual orientation, and their bathrooms contain items called "urinals," and any item that shares a root with "urine" cannot be good.
If Senator Craig were a woman, nothing like this could have ever happened.
Not because women are so much cleaner than guys--I've been in some pretty nasty women's bathrooms--but because women's bathrooms are full of people who either 1) really need to go to the bathroom themselves, or 2) are helping other people who really need to go, these others being the women's small children. Or, people who 3) have had to wait so long to get a stall, all they can think about it not peeing their pants.
As Jayme noted, if a hand appears under the stall in a women's bathroom, it means, "I need toilet paper quick!"
And if there are any wide stances going on, it's because though there are two sets of feet in there, one belongs to a small child in there with her, and all she can think about is getting out of there quickly.
I'm not sure what the conversation is in the men's john--well, except in the Senator Craig case--but I know what we talk about in the women's:
"Are you next?"
"Is that one open?"
"No, honey, not that one, the next one."
"Sorry, she/he really has to go." (Because half of all small children in the restroom are of the male type.)
"Are you done?"
"No, sweetie, wait a second, it's my turn."
"Move. Move over. Right there. Now don't move."
"Let me help you pull them up."
"Come here. Come here. Come here."
"No. Wash your hands. Right here. Now."
"Here's your towel, now dry."
"We're almost done."
And that's the adult end of conversations. Kid's restroom conversation often can't be recorded, like the time Caroline was in the stall with me, and she told me I had "a butt just like Daddy's."
No, I don't.
By the time women get into and out of the restroom we are so stressed, the thought of anything besides a glass of wine is just too much.
So, now, how about you? What kind of potty talk are you thinkin' about?

Friday, September 7, 2007

About bein' ready for some football

Why should someone like me enjoy football season starting? I blame my birthday.
Because it's in November. And I hate November. I hate November because it's when fall slips into winter, and I really, really hate winter. I hate cloudy skies, and I hate cold. I hate short days. Snow is pretty, but I hate driving in it, and I hate it when it gets half-melted and dirty. I hate sleet at all times. I hate cold winds.
The only good things about November are Thanksgiving, and Christmas season starting.
I love summer. I love it with every temperature receptor and light sensitive receptor in my body. I love Florida, where it's always summer. I love July, with its sunny days, hot temperatures, high humidity, and long daylight hours. I love greenness, flowers, wearing shorts and sandles, and going to the beach. I love the long lazy baseball games, in person or on radio or TV, when an inning stretches forever and the game's decided in one hard swing of the bat.
I'm a July kind of gal.
Only I'm not. I'm a November baby, of all ironies. A Scorpio. Born into the harshness of the Midwestern late-year environment.
Which brings me to the fall, and football. Of course the Colts won last night, and even through the TV, the excitement in Indianapolis--the concerts, the people, the "hoopla" (love that word!), the introductions, the Voices of Unity choir from Ft. Wayne helping out on the national anthem--even a July girl like me could have fun.
And that Appalachian State win over Michigan last weekend...what Buckeye didn't have a gleam in her eye over that one.
We'll make it to a high school football one of these weeks. And that's that Notre Dame weekend coming up. Plus, we're talking about going down to Bloomington and catching the Hoosiers. Maybe, with a lucky bid on eBay, we'll even get to see the Colts this year.
And I'll enjoy it all. I'll just hate fighting the meteorological elements to get to the games.
How about you? Are you ready for some football?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

About the tragedy of bad FM radio reception

Because from deep within the cube farm, I am desperate for distraction, yet destined for static.
Computers and small FM radios do not mix well in a small space. Out in the car, one can tune in over a dozen radio stations of various genres; here in the office, it's more like ... six. On a good day.
My meeting schedule runs kind of hot and cold; I might have a couple meetings or more every day for a week, and my radio state matters less; then, I might have a week with just one. These are the weeks that try women's headphones.
Because I need some distraction as I sit in a quiet office, staring at my computer screens (I have two) and waiting for something to happen.
(I should establish, I am sick of oldies. The '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s are so last century. And, my MP3 players is small, plus it's not working right.)
Here's my FM radio choices:
Very oldies station: Borders on Muzak. It's redeeming quality: news and weather on the half-hour.
Christian station: I flunk saintliness miserably, and listening makes me feel guilty.
Local high school station: Wildly disparate music list, from Lynard Skynard to P. Diddy. Often off the air entirely. Lame DJs.
Adult contemporary #1: W-aaaa-y too much dependence on '80s music. I. Just. Can't. Listen to "Walkin' On Sunshine" one more time. Just ride that wave away, Katrina.
Adult contemporary #2: Brags about their mix of music from '80s, '90s, and best of today. Their best of today is not bad, but when "Jack and Diane" fires up, it's time to station-surf (as if that does me any good). I mean, really, those two are probably going to their 25th high school reunion, and he's still got his hand down her pants!
NPR: The only "talk radio" I can listen to. Negatives: I am not fond of Diane Reihm and she is on for two hours in the morning. Also, sometimes the news can get depressing. However, still, my go-to station.
Full disclosure: I have XM radio in my car. I adore it. I want to marry it. I can hear lots of new music on it, AND it tells me what the name of the tune is, AND the artist!
Frustration: XM satellite signals do not travel through roofs or walls. So I can't bring it inside.
Filling up my MP3 with new stuff can get expensive. I've listened to it, and all my CDs, too many times. I even know my nature tapes by heart. Tweet, tweet, babbling brook.
Well, how about you? What's fillin' your ears?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

About our disenchantment with the opening of yet another Wal-mart

Stunning to think that we would actually be less than pleased over the building of a new shopping facility, yet it is so.
Because a new Wal-mart is being built just five minutes from Angela's house, and none of us care. Because we already have plenty of Wal-marts to shop at, all a reasonable driving distance away, PLUS a Sam's Club, and because we had hoped it was going to be a Target going in there. Our hopes were sadly dashed.
I have seen a very few Wal-marts in rather more upscale areas (say, Naples, Florida) that are architecturally more interesting than the usual gray/tan/blue box, but early indications of construction hint that this will not be one of them. It's going to be just another big-box discount store plopped in a former field, with too much parking lot.
Shopping at Wal-mart is like being sucked into a yawning maw of merchandise and fluorescent lights, noise and movement, a maze of aisles with little chance of early escape. It's just really hard to "run into Wal-mart and get a gallon of milk."
Don't the workers always look happy in the Wal-mart commercials? Sometimes they even break into song! I've yet to find a Wal-mart with equally happy folks, and the only singing I hear is the Muzak. Although I have encountered some pretty chipper greeters, now that I think of it.
And where's that bouncy little smiley-face guy? The one with no body? I've never seen him flying around, like the snitch in a Quidditch match. I bet he's in the break room, smoking. Somebody has to hold the cigarette for him because he's got no hands.
Want a little taste of what it's like to work at Wal-mart? Try this blog»
Well, what are you thinkin' about shopping? Are you longin' for the K-mart days? Or does Target get your business?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

About my delicate feelings

Last week, we had a co-worker -- who usually telecommutes from afar -- in the office for a retirement visit. I, with the help of others, spent quite some time and effort planning and executing a couple of days' worth of various activities (lunches, dinners, reception, gifts, etc.) to make sure her last couple of days were good ones. I was having a busy week, so it all got squeezed in among the usual business.
Friday afternoon, as I was wrapping up my week's work, trying to get out a little early in anticipation of a busy holiday weekend, I heard her saying goodbye to a couple of people nearby and expected her in my cube any second. She never came. When I looked for her a moment later, she had left.
Instead, when I got my email over the weekend, there was a brief note addressed to everyone in the company saying thank you and that she was "overwhelmed."
I was underwhelmed.
Now, I'm a grownup ... I don't expect a dump truck of thanks or appreciation over every little thing. But tell me -- doesn't it seem to you that if you'd been hosted and toasted for two days by people you've worked with for over a decade, you'd make an effort to pull yourself together and at least say goodbye, if not, thanks? (Please note, I was not the only party planner who did not get a chance to say 'bye.)
So, you tell me: am I expecting too much? What are you thinkin' about showin' some love to others?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

About parades, the Midwest, and Milan, Ohio

Now, the way you say Milan is MY-lan, not mah-LAN, like in Italy, because believe me,you are not there.
No, Milan, Ohio, is about 20 miles south of Lake Erie, and its big claim to fame is being The Birthplace of Thomas Edison. Little house. Nice tour.
If I were writing an historical blog, I would also mention that Milan used to be the biggest shipping port in the country, because of a canal that ran between it and Lake Erie. The canal is long gone--as dead as Edison.
Here's another cool thing about Milan, though--they have one damn good festival. With one fun parade.
I don't know if melons of any type are even grown around Milan anymore, but the festival doesn't care--it's the Milan Melon Festival, and it may be the only place in the universe where you can get both watermelon sherbet and cantaloupe ice cream.
Milan has a little town square that's usually quiet and green, with some benches, and big trees, and a gazebo. During the festival, it's hot and noisy and crowded and full of food vendors and ringed by rides and craft tents and music, and it's all wonderful.
We always go up on Sunday to have festival food for lunch (for the record: bloomin' onion, fresh corn on the cob, and a cantaloupe ice cream cone) and watch the parade.
The parade is a cacophony of bands and baton troops and church floats, firetruck sirens and horns blaring.
And all the royalty of northern Ohio festival shows up, from the basket queen from Berlin Heights to the Dam Festival Queen of Monroeville to the Port Clinton Walleye Festival Queen. All there, dressed in their royal best, slowing waving to the admiring crowds.
And we waved back, in between standing up a dozen times for the veteran groups and color guards, marching by with the flag.
And who got the biggest crowd reaction? I think it was a tie...between the Ohio State University float (was that a real cheerleader on there?) and Spongebob.
Well, how about you? Did you enjoy a visit from a TV cartoon character this weekend?

About takin' the day off

So I did. Hope you did too. Plenty of time to starting thinkin' tomorrow...

Saturday, September 1, 2007

About Chinese buffets

Because we took a retiring coworker out to lunch at one yesterday.
Mind you, we work in a small town, in the middle of nowhere, Indiana.
And yet, here is a huge Chinese buffet, and I mean two long hot-buffet tables, a cold salad-bar type table, and, really, a Mongolian grill.
Because we go at lunch, I have never seen them using the grill, but it's there--I suppose they use it at night.
This Chinese buffet is called China Gardens, and there is a huge mural of the Great Wall on one wall.
And I believe it is run by real Chinese people. Speaking some form of real Chinese.
In Huntington, Indiana.
How do real Chinese folks find Huntington, Indiana, in the first place? And how, oh how, do they make the decision to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a beautiful, free-standing restaurant building (which it is--red brick outside, big windows, cathedral ceilings) and start a buffet restaurant there? In Huntington, Indiana?
And they are shrewd business people who know their clientèle, for not only do they have hot-and-sour chicken and pepper chicken and all the usual Chinese buffet items, but also chicken legs and french fries and salad. For those Huntingtonians who prefer their international cuisine be tempered with familiarity.
I'm glad the Chinese found Huntington, 10,000 miles (or so) from home.
How about you? What food groups did you wake up thinkin' about?