Sunday, 27 November 2005

Who is the Selfish One?

People tell me this all the time - I am selfish for not wanting children. Here is something I found and I like it - it is easy to see just who the selfish people really are...

And ironically, it is mostly those who had gotten pregnant by accident and shrugged it off and now they are mired in lives that would not have been of my choosing.

The misconception about remaining childfree that bothers many of us the most is that people who decide not to have children are SELFISH. Some data/facts on this issue:

In 1992, Rathus and Nevid (both psychologists) interviewed hundreds of couples on their reasons for having or not having children. They found couples with children had 9 common answers for their decision, and that couples without children had 13 common answers for their decision.

To summarize, they are:


1. Personal experience - to have the experience of being a parent
2. Personal pleasure - the fun and joy of raising children
3. Personal extension - carrying on the genetic heritage or family name
4. Relationship - the close bond which is shared with children
5. Personal status - culture affords some respect just for being a parent
6. Personal competence - gratification from facing the challenge of parenting
7. Personal responsibility - the opportunity to look out for the welfare and education of another
8. Personal power - some find the power they have over children gratifying
9. Moral worth - some feel it is a good and selfless act to put the life of another first, or that it is a moral obligation to have children

1. Time together - more time each other and for other interests

2. Freedom - more opportunity to pursue other areas of life

3. Other children - can enjoy other children, and can help children who are already here through foster parenting or charity work with children

4. Dual careers - both people may pursue careers full time, a person (woman) does not have to quit, and a child is not raised by day care

5. Financial security - more money to pursue other interests

6. Community welfare - greater opportunity to get involved in community organizations

7. Difficulty - parenthood is a demanding and difficult job which is not always enjoyable

8. Strain on environmental resources - the world is already overpopulated and is unable to support the people who are already here

9. Increase in overpopulation - having children geometrically increases this problem and all of the problems that come with it

10. Choice not mandate - parenthood has to be a choice, not everyone is meant to be a parent

11. Irrevocable decision - once the decision is made it cannot be changed, so people must be sure it is what they want

12. Failure - some people had unhappy or abusive childhoods and fear that they would not be a good parent

13. Danger - the world is a dangerous place and it is not right to bring a child into it

In our opinion, it seems that all of the 9 reasons given for having children are selfish; they are all about what the parent will gain for themselves (love, bonding, etc.). While only 5 of the 13 reasons for not having children are selfish, the other 8 involve concerns for the world, the community, and the child that would be born."

People just mindlessly jump into the procreation game mostly without a thought to finances. I have realised that people will give some considerations to having children but mostly they just go ahead and start pumping out babies without stopping to think that maybe from a fecundiary standpoint this is not the wisest course of action. It is a shock. Or (and I love this) they accidently become gravid and have the attitude that this must be meant to be and what the hell, I will have a child. A rather casual attitude about an undertaking that will follow you the rest of your life.

Not that people should not have them but a lot less should. Most are terrible parents. The population is staggeringly high and this planet cannot support it all. Just from a nature standpoint. The earth is 70% water. This leaves 30% of the surface as land. Of that chunk of land, only maybe 40% of it is truly arable land. The rest is waste, either under ice, snow, permafrost, desert or some other completely inhospitable condition. So now fill all that up with the 6 billion or so humans running around. Sounds like a recipe for disaster? You betcha!

I look at natural disasters as all part of nature's plan to 1. replenish the earth and 2. knock off some of the infestation that is the human race. And other animals/plants/insects that fall into the category of population control needed. It is sad that so many die in this or that catastrophy, but it is the course of nature. These hurricanes and tornadoes and volcanoes and floods and pestilence and earthquake issues were around long before we were and will continue long after we are gone.

So, who is the selfish one?

Saturday, 26 November 2005

Last One For Today... Maybe!

Actually, that depends on how much more I do with the music... I have been burning CDs like a madwoman for quite some time. I guess I started somewhere around 15:00... and it is now 23:27. This has not been ALL I have done, but it has been going on steadily for this time. Of course, now I need to start some laundry!

Here is the last questionnaire I filled out about a month ago (before the one just posted prior to this):

Fifteen years ago I:
- I was 22 years old
- was just moving in with Luis
- Did not ever want children
- Was happy- still didn't know what I was doing and wanted to do and hated it

Ten years ago, I:
- 27 years old
- Lived with Luis for 5 years and we bought our first house
- did not ever want children
- Was happy
- learned a lot but still didn't know what I wanted to do
- still didn't know what I was doing and hated it

Five years ago, I:
- Finally figured out what I wanted to be
- Learned to live with Luis' flaws and he with mine
- did not ever want children
- Worked out some issues with my mother
- Was happy
- Legally changed my name from Trebilcox to Kellogg (my [step]father's last name)
- still didn't know what I was doing but became much more comfortable with that

One year ago, I:
- I got my National and State EMT certification
- Moved into and maintained a better, beautiful house
- Did not ever want children
- Learned to live with Luis' father (not well, but I don't torture Luis for it any more)
- Finally had a solid full-time job in HR but with a company I HATED
- Saved at least one life
- Have a wonderful relationship with my father and a good one with my mother
- Was happy
- still didn't know what I was doing and am totally accepting of it

So far this year, I:
- Was laid off - twice
- Feel like the ultimate loser in the professional world (marketable but not employable)
- Still don't want children (I have a 40-year-old child already)
- Love being a volunteer (only) EMT
- Make it a mission to learn something new every day
- Was happier
- still don't know what I am doing (I will likely always feel that way)

Yesterday, I:
- Went on an interview
- Took a friend to an appointment
- Was grateful, after going to the store, that I don't have children
- Sat around the house feeling sorry for myself
- Had a good time doing rig check
- Told my husband how much I love him
- Still didn't know what I was doing and okay with it

Today, I:
- feel sad about our dog (he died two weeks ago)
- Went on two calls (one pronounced)
- Still feel great about not having children
- Might see Tom and Alayna and maybe their two week old son tonight
- still don't know what I'm doing and okay with it

Tomorrow, I:
- Will be at the New York Renaissance Festival for the last weekend
- Will be with my best friend there
- will still feel great about not having children
- Try to enjoy the day and smile
- Still won't know what I'm doing and still be okay with that

In one year, I will:
- still trust people first until proven wrong
- always be there for friends and family
- Will still feel great about not having children
- Put in as many calls but not during the weekdays
- Have a solid HR Generalist job close to home that may not pay well but will be good
- be happier

In five years, I will:
- Will be at the same wonderful company and love my work
- see Luis' father move away (far away - to Mars, maybe)
- Enjoy watching my friends' children grow up and never have any myself
- Be happy, like I usually am
- still won't know what I'm doing but will always be excited to see how it turns out!

Interesting E-Mail Questions...

Very often these days I receive an e-mail with "deep" personal questions, I suppose designed to make one think... I think entirely too much and am distressingly honest about myself. However, I like probing questions like those asked in these e-mails... however, I am militantly anti-chain mails of any kind so I always take out the verbiage about mailing the answers back to the originator and passing it on to the requisite number of friends. Then I send it out to those who really are close friends. No need to pass it on.

So here is the latest series...

1. When you look at yourself in the mirror, what's the first thing you look at?
Me. The whole thing, not any one part.

2. How much cash do you have on you?
Two dollars.

3. What's a word that rhymes with "TEST"?

4. Favorite plant?
Christmas tree - the pine scent is delightful.

5. Who is the 4th person on your missed call list on your cell phone?
I have no idea. I never look at that.

6. What is your main ring tone on your phone?
The default ring. I hate those stupid song rings.

7. What shirt are you wearing?
A very old, somewhat worn grey Victoria's Secret nightshirt.

8. Do you "label" yourself?
Absolutely. Everyone does in their own heads... and it is different depending on when you ask.

9. Name brand of shoes you're currently wearing?
I'm not wearing any shoes now. But the last pair I had on was my L.L. Bean hiking boots.

10. What do you think about the person who took this survey before you?
An amazingly knowledgeable EMT but someone who needs to be loved by someone who will do so without reserve.

11. Do you know what an 8-track is?
Sure I do. My cousin had an 8-track player when we were kids.

12. What were you doing at 9pm last night?
I was putting up strings of multi-coloured Christmas lights. Always the night after Thanksgiving!

13. What did your last text message say that you received on your cell?
A quickie message from LeRoy. He is the only person who sends me text messages. And I never use that feature.

14. Do you ever click on Pop-ups or banners?
Absolutely not! What do you take me for?

15. What's a saying that you say a lot?
Occam's Razor - Given two equally predictive theories, choose the simpler.

16. Who told you they loved you last?
Luis Ignacio Gomez, my husband.

17. Last furry thing you touched?
Ariel and Chelsea, my cats. They were both waiting for me when I got home from the Home Depot!

18. How many hours a week do you work?
In Human Resources, roughly 25 to 30 hours. As a volunteer EMT, about 18 hours a week.

19. How many rolls of film do you need to get developed?
Mmmm... maybe six or seven. I mostly use digital now.

20. Favorite age you have been so far?
Anywhere in my 30s.

21. Your worst enemy?
My own body. I have Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy and it is not fun. But I won't give in to it.

22. What is your current desktop picture?
A photo of the Maine coast with the sun sparkling on the Atlantic Ocean, taken by me about five weeks ago.

23. What was the last thing you said to someone?
Honey, it's time to do your manly duty and change the light bulbs!

24. If you had to choose between a million bucks or to be able to erase all of your regrets, what would you choose?
The million dollars. I need my regrets as surely as need my accomplishments. All that I am is all I have done; good, bad and indifferent. Without my regrets, I would be missing an integral part of myself.

Winter Doldrums - Almost

Sometimes just knowing that something is coming is all it takes.

Winter in New Jersey is not the worst thing in the world. There are plenty of other locations where I would not move to for the length of winter and the shortness of the days. Northern Canada is out, Alaska is out, as well as Siberia, Cape of Good Hope, Cape Horn, any of the Aleutian Islands... I am not a lover of winter.

Still, it is not all sunshine and roses here, either. It is lovely in the summer - the days are long, about 15 hours long, and the sun sets with great slowness and there are the long twilights. In that way, being a little more north might be nice... say, a 17 hour day... I could go to Maine or southern Canada and have that. But conversely the winters are only 9 hours of daylight - here - and so 18:00 feels much the same as midnight. I find it harder to stay awake to bedtime, let alone any later hour. And getting up is a misery when it is so deeply dark outside. But it is what it is. At least they make full-spectrum lighting now. With the right lights in the house, it won't matter that night falls at the heinous hour of 16:30.

I don't care for the bitter cold, either. It is terribly uncomfortable to be out on the highway at 02:30 because some idiot that could not bother to slow down in the snow crashed his or her vehicle. It is the kind of cold that seeps into your bones and no matter how much you drink tea and shiver under the covers it will not easily leave. And when it gets windy there is no warming up! And then there are the times we have been out in many inches of snow in the freezing cold wee hours. Yuck.

Well, I complain about it but the fact is I wouldn't live somewhere without four separate and distinct seasons. So there it is. Without the darkness and starkness of winter, I would not have the sultry warmth of summer, the burst of pastels of spring and the stunning fiery colours of that most gorgeous of seasons, autumn. And I would not trade autumn for the world!

Welcome, Winter!

Kids Are Best When Sautéed

(Unless They are Close Friends')

OK, I realise that my feelings about kids are fairly plain. I have never made a secret of it and never pulled my punches about how much other people's kids bother me. It is NOT a flaw thing or a blame thing (although the gods' know that there are plenty of poorly behaved kids thanks to lousy parents!). It is simply a matter of kids - normal kids - just getting on my nerves. I was a kid, too, and undoubtedly got on people's nerves and would absolutely have made me the adult just as crazy as any kid would! I just have zero ability to put up with perfectly normal, well-behaved kids. We'll touch on bad kids or poorly behaved kids later.

When my friends have children, as they are doing now, it is a wholly different thing. Sure, they still might annoy me but not nearly as much as just any kid that I don't know would. I enjoyed my pen friend’s son and daughter in New Hampshire and I love Matthew. Stephanos is special, too. I feel that way about the R&R Chief's kids, too. These are my close friends' children and that makes a world of difference.

With Flyboy and Quilt Queen, it is much more special that almost anyone, as we have been friends for years with Flyboy. His child is super-special to me. And at one point she had asked why I am taking such an interest in Matthew and I replied, "It's a completely different thing. I still don't care for kids, but Matthew isn't just any child, he's your child!"

If you are wondering why I make exceptions for a small select group of kids, this is it.

Now, as for poorly behaved kids... this is not the child's fault! Children need supervision and constant praise and rewarding for good behaviour and reinforcement and punishment for poor or naughty behaviour. If a parent is lax in doing this, the child is quick to take advantage of this. Who wouldn't? Adults will do it to - push the envelope as far as they can. Test the boundaries. Whatever you want to call it.

Certain behaviours are universally unacceptable:
1. Whining
2. Pinching/hitting/rough physical behaviour
3. Shouting
4. Cursing or poor use of language

However, certain sayings & forms of thinking are also (to me) unacceptable: (I will discuss below)
1. "Spare the rod, spoil the child" (I have an exceptional poor opinion of anyone striking their children in any fashion)
2. "Children should be seen and not heard" (if you believe that, you definitely shouldn't have kids)
3. Presenting a united front - not a saying but a thing that parents practice - bad idea
4. Others saying you should have children because fill in the blank. (The green section is devoted to just this.)
(I'm sure that there are other sayings & tidbits of bed thinking that I cannot think of that are just as odious as those above...)

1. There are plenty of perfectly terrible parents around - more than are good. I don't agree with ever hitting your kids. I know they'll make any adult crazy - fairly often, too - but my parents never ever struck me (no comments from the peanut gallery, please! [grin]). I wasn't a perfect kid and any0ne who tells you that they have a perfect child that never did anything wrong is absolutely lying through their pearly whites! But hitting would not have made me a better kid. My parents also made it very clear to my grandparents that corporal punishment would not be tolerated. Whatever low opinion my grandmother had of that rule, she was intelligent enough to know that one strike is all she would get before my mother pulled the plug on her seeing me.

2. Children should be seen and not heard. I guess in a perfect world infants, babies, toddlers and kids would not scream, cry, carry on, throw fits, and try out their voices. However, kids are by nature loud. Certainly infants and babies are. They have no other recourse but to cry - they can't communicate otherwise. No one's super-precocious 6-month-old can sit up and say, "Hey, there, Mummy, what is up with this diaper?" or "Listen, the tummy is a-rumbling, when's chow-time?" They can only cry. On the other hand, when they have just been fed, the diaper is clean and there is nothing else obviously wrong, put the kid down and let him or her cry it out.

3. The United Front form of Parenting: This is a big thing that many parents do but mine did not. If they disagreed on something, they would discuss it and sometimes I would be granted the request and other times not. Or sometimes I got a reprieve on something and sometimes I didn't. But it was nice that there was sometimes someone in my corner fighting for me instead of always forming that us against the kid thing. I hate that. And I don't know a kid in the world that did not wonder why the parents were always out to get him or her or against him or her.

4. You should have children because fill in the blank.
Are you ready for this, patient reader? Oh, yes, it is a lengthy list!

OK. Reason #1: You are not a "real" woman until you have children.
Would you believe my first HR manager told me this? I wouldn't... certainly not from someone who, in all other ways, was a very intelligent, earthy, caring person. But she actually told me that. I guess she was thinking that no matter what I thought about having kids then, I would change my mind and eventually become that real woman. I still find that my response today is the same as it was seven years ago... I looked down at my C-cup chest, looked up, and replied, "I am a real woman. This chest is the give-away."

Reason #2: Who will take care of you in your old age?
Considering the source of this infamous reason, I should have seen it coming when Luis Sr. moved in with us. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me! He used to say this all the time. And I always wondered why anyone has kids under this misguided thinking. I am not bringing lives into this world with the idea that they should "owe" me anything. Apparently, however, many people including Luis' father, feel that their progeny are, in fact, indentured servants of a sort. Terrible. Talk about the ultimate in self-serving, completely selfish behaviour. And now that Luis Sr. lives with us, he is discovering daily that we emphatically do not agree with his view of what life with his kids would be like. Surprise!

Reason #3: You need someone to carry on the family name/family line.
That would go along with the family genes: the heart failure history, the cancer history, the Alzheimer’s history. My mother seems to constantly be apologising for all the maladies that she knows has been passed on to me. This is not her fault - no one thinks of this when they have kids - but there you have it. I inherited a name that I legally changed - belonging to someone whose genetics I don't share but who loves me as a father should. And I inherited Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy, ADD, big wrist bones, a Jay Leno chin, a tendency to be fat, oh, the list is endless. I don't mind - none of the illnesses or maladies will kill me outright, so I am OK with it. In 1968, who knew what you might be passing on? But knowing what I know, in 2005, why under the sun would I knowingly pass this along?

Reason #4: It's what you do next.
Just like anything in life, it is programming... as a woman, you are programmed to go to school, go to college, get a good, solid job, land a man, get married, have babies (oh, yes, usually more than one), stop working and turn into a mindless automaton who raises kids and turns into a soccer mom and lives madly for those moments when she can foist her kids off on some other hapless mother to go grocery shopping alone! This is programming. My mother (who has had a huge and positive impact on my outlook and way of seeing things) never did any programming with me. I was not programmed into any religion, I was not programmed to wear skirts and be a girly-girl, I was not programmed to sew or knit or crochet or cook. I was programmed to believe that I can do anything I want. And that I had the same freedom to not do things. I love her more than can be imaged for that. So there was never any "this is the next step" training in my life.

Reason #5: Go forth and multiply (or "this is what God put us on Earth for").
Does anyone really buy this line of thinking any more? Sure. More brainwashed people. At the time that we were having twelve kids in the hopes that two would survive and go on to assist in populating the world, this was logical thinking. You needed to have a bunch of pregnancies... to ensure that some were live, viable births and that some made it through all the childhood maladies and adult maladies and weren't killed in accidents and tragedies and internecine wars and whatever else killed people by the scores. When survival was a rate thing, sure, breeding was a very important thing. But now that we overpopulate the earth like an infestation of the worst kind and kill off our resources mightn't it be a good idea to get away from misguided thinking like that?

Reason #6: I'll have more hands to help.
Refer to reason #2. Indentured servitude, anyone? Oh, wait, no, that would be slavery. Servitude is remuneration for a service performed by the employer.

Reason #7: The more children we have, the more they entertain one another.
Yikes. People scare me. Or maybe they have forgotten all the sibling rivalry and infighting that took place.

Reason #8: There is no occupation more rewarding than motherhood.
Hmmm. In some fashion that is true. There are undoubtedly rewards that come with seeing your kids turn into (you hope) responsible adults. However, from where I sit, the rewards do not include: a paycheck, a vacation/sick/personal time package, any health benefits, definitely no dental, lousy retirement package... did I forget anything? Oh, yes, the most unrecognised, unending, ceaseless job ever that mostly mothers have and fathers avoid. Let's look at those rewards, shall we? For myself, I will pass!

Reason #9: Parenthood is investing in eternity.
I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you are going to die anyway.

Reason #10: My children help me surrender the selfish desires of my flesh.
Well, this is certainly true enough. Any woman with kids will tell you that her sex drive has decreased dramatically with the arrival of the offspring. This is not a good thing. Let's talk to the philandering spouses who did not lose their interest in sex... Not that this happens to all women. I'm happy to say that my mother never suffered from that at all. She did not want to sleep with my biological father, but that had nothing to do with her loss of drive - it was due to his being a stupendous alcoholic!

Reason #11: Everyone else is having them/has them.
Oh, my. Sounds a lot like lemmings, doesn't it? Lemmings all commit suicide - probably because everyone else is doing it. Remember your parents saying to you, "If XYZ jumped off a bridge, you would, too?" Some how that gets left out when grown children tell their parents that they are expecting. But you get the idea. Is there a more senseless reason to have kids? (Well, I have a whole lot of senseless reasons to have kids, so maybe, just maybe, there are. Still, this rates pretty high on the stupidity list!

Reason #12: We are having a rough patch in our marriage so having a baby will fix that.
Don't laugh. It is positively staggering how many people - usually women - think that. This is as misguided as thinking that making your boyfriend/girlfriend jealous will produce any positive results. The answer is a resounding NO! Babies add a component of stress that nothing else in life can. People survive life-threatening diseases, fatal accidents, wandering spouses, but no floundering marriage survives the introduction of an infant into the already bad mix.

I think twelve reasons are plenty. Shall we discuss under what circumstances you SHOULD have children? Yes! There is actually a reason to take that plunge!

Reason to Have Children: There is only one good reason to have children - loving to do the vast majority of the things required of parents. Sure there are some things nobody is going to like, for example, changing diapers. But, if you are the kind of person who feels fulfilled getting up out of bed in the middle of the night to comfort an upset child and performing countless menial tasks for the semi-aware, then you and only you should seriously consider child rearing. There are people like that. I know that Quilt Queen and Flyboy fit into this category. They are really the ONLY people I know that I would describe that way. Pretty scary, isn't it, when you think of how many people have children and clearly are not that way.

I have had more friends confide in me and not want their spouse to know that if they had to do it all over again, they wouldn't. Guess what. My mother told me the same thing. I don't find that insulting or hurtful or anything of that nature. I was there - I know what I put them through. I know I created all sorts of hideous issues just in the normal process of growing up that no one thinks anyone else goes through. I won't say what I did do, it is our own private insanity, but I will tell you that I:

did not do drugs
did not drink alcohol
did not wreck their cars
did not burn down or seriously damage the house
did not tote a gun
did not have any out-of-wedlock babies

How many kids do these things listed above? Too many to count! And I did not do them and they still would not want to do it again! What does that tell you?

Anyone not 100% sure that kids are what they want? Go to this Web site. Try out the different Child Prep steps given. If you come out of that thinking that you may want children, go forth with my blessings and multiply!

Still not sure? Try this one: I'm not saying you may not be OK with that. But it is food for thought. Most people have absolutely no idea what they are in for when they decide on some arbitrary whim to have children. None of what I have read is untrue. It is not pretty, but it is the part that no one tells you about.

Parents who are spineless are the biggest offenders to me. If you are not prepared to parent (good and bad) then do the planet and your currently non-existent kids a favour and DON'T HAVE ANY! If you are not prepared to punish your child (without resorting to violence or any kind of physical force), then go without, please! Parents who allow their children to whine or throw things should be charged with criminal non-parenting! No one in the world wants to hear a whiney child. If you let them run around like hooligans in a restaurant or grocery store or doctor's waiting room, you need to be ticketed by the police. Kids need to run around and be hooligans - they have entirely too much energy and it needs to be expelled - but there are settings where it is never appropriate to do this. The above are a couple of them. There are more. But there are plenty of places and things to allow them the outlets they need.

I just hate it when the parents of the world try to use logic and reason on their two through five year old. I may be over shooting the age, but certain at age two and three you cannot sit there and tell your child, "Please don't upend the glass of water. This is not how good children behave." No. You firmly remove the glass from the child's hand and tell them, "No." in a firm, no-nonsense tone.

Food shopping is a bad thing. I feel for parents who have to bring their kids with them for the joys of grocery shopping listening to a chorus of "I want" and "Gimme", but if they turn into hooligans and start running up and down the aisles, put the cart to one side and tell them it is time to go. Or tell them it is time out for them for a half-hour when you get home, and see if this doesn't work.

Oops. My 40-year-old child is whining about dinner. Time out!

Working Again

It is really, really, completely wonderful to be working again. This is a totally different experience from all other places I have worked. I won't get into the total nitty gritty as usual - I have made it very clear from the get-go that there will be no details of the job that I am currently on, no discussion of anything that is confidential. No opinions, either. As stated previously, people have been terminated from jobs for less and I am not about to push that luck.

But generalised things are perfectly acceptable and this is mostly about how I feel about working, not about work or the people there. I will say that I am very happy - I really do enjoy the company of my coworkers a lot and find them to be intelligent, worthwhile people to know.

Most of my experience is in manufacturing. I love manufacturing - there is a lot to learn, not just the HR side (not that I don't know HR but how any given company likes to do things) but the technical side. I make it a high priority to get to know the business I am in - so I learned a lot about manufacturing memory modules (thank you, a million times, Osvaldo!), pharmaceuticals (thank you to the staff at PF Labs in Totowa) and the destruction side of the pharmaceutical business (thank you to Sue, Tina, John and Kris at USI, now SteriCycle). Now I am not in manufacturing and that is a whole new thing... this is a very different business, I guess you could say it is sort of the entertainment business, the dining/hotel business, and several other things - but totally new to me. And the people there are really very helpful in helping me acclimate to this - I am accustomed to a much more rigid way of handling things. This is not like any corporation I have ever worked for. Every day is a new adventure - and I love adventure!

I just love being Aislínge Kellogg, HR Manager (yes, quite the step up!) instead of Aislínge Kellogg, useless unemployed EMT who logs in a million calls and is a total whacker! I still log in more calls than I used to, say, a year ago. But I am not sitting around the house waiting for a call because I have nothing else to do.

It means the world to me!

Thank you, Elite Personnel - as always, you stand by me. And get me into great places!

Burning, Ripping & Playing Music

I love music.

After that, anything I say is really just gravy, me yakking away and filling up space. So if you are totally satisfied with the very core statement of "I love music" then this is where you can stop reading and ignore my ceaseless prattling...

But it is never that simple, and no half-decent author of any kind will stop there... books would never get beyond a few pages!

I don't love ALL music. Let me be perfectly clear about this! Certain genres are almost exempt in toto from my tastes - not totally - someone will always sneak in one or two good tunes in almost any genre, but for the most part, the genres I have zero interest in are as follows:

Gansta Rap
Country & Western
Top 40/Pop
Bubblegum Pop
Acid Metal

If I think of more I will add them. In the meantime, that does cover most of it.

Top 12 artists for me (not in order, as they all compete equally):
Depeche Mode
Barenaked Ladies
Led Zeppelin
Dead Can Dance
Siouxsie & The Banshees
Simple Minds

Top 12 Albums (again, no order):
Gordon (Barenaked Ladies)
Violator (Depeche Mode)
Riverdance (Bill Whelan)
The Black Stallion (Soundtrack)
October (U2)
Abbey Road (The Beatles)
Corrobee (Split Enz)
The Fifth Element (Soundtrack)
Ultra (Depeche Mode)
X&Y (Coldplay)
The Four Seasons (Vivaldi)
Stunt (Barenaked Ladies)

Top 12 Songs:
The Arrival & The Reunion (Dead Can Dance)
Gloria (U2)
Wrap Your Arms Around Me (Barenaked Ladies)
When I Fall (Barenaked Ladies)
Picasso Vista El Planeta de los Simios (Adam & The Ants)
Eligia (New Order)
Isabella (Mediæval Bæbes)
Clocks (Coldplay)
Special (Garbage)
Symphony No 7 - Allegretto (Beethoven)
Shadows & Tall Trees (U2)
Flower Duet (Sous Dome Epais) (excerpt from Lakme - Delibes)

I would love to say that I have always loved classical. I have always liked it well enough - my whole family - maternal and paternal - has a huge background in classical music. But the fact is that usually I was somewhat indifferent until it has been in a movie and had a profound affect in the show or scene or whatever. Take the last song, Sous Dome Epais from the opera Lakme. This is a simply gorgeous piece of music but what introduced me to it? The love scene between Catherine Denouve (spelling?) and Susan Sarandon in the movie The Hunger. Truly an amazing movie and there is not a man alive (no matter what his feelings on lesbian lovers) who wasn't completely turned on by that. Two stunning women... well I digress. But you get the idea. Same thing with Allegretto - Symphony No. 7 - that was in a very moving scene in the Richard Dreyfuss movie Mr. Holland's Opus, which I loved.

A lot of the more modern music has been in my repertoire for a very long time. I have been a U2 fan much longer than anyone hung up about his or her age would care to admit. Let me see. I have been listening to them since 1979, so almost 30 (ouch) years now. I would love to meet the band and thank them. Their music has seen me through sadness and joy and the lyrics and emotion in them is just... just... I could not find the right words to describe it. I love their music beyond imaging. The best song always is "Shadows & Tall Trees" - the lines "Do you feel in me/anything redeeming/any worthwhile feeling/is it a walking tightrope/hanging on my ceiling?". I remember those feelings as a teenager and I know that feeling now. And here is someone who put all those nebulous feelings and emotions that made no sense into words - for me.

Another brilliant group with regards to lyrics is Barenaked Ladies. How do I love them? Like U2, they touch on the bigger topics but unlike U2, they have a very off-beat sense of humour and that comes out too - such as in the track "The King of Bedside Manor" on Gordon. Lyrics like these:

"He says, 'Excuse me, I hope
you don't mind that I followed you into
this shop,
But I couldn't help but notice that
riding crop
Sticking out of your haversack,
Um, I wouldn't mind riding you
He's subtle on the dance floor and
he's suave around the bar.
He's a quickdraw with the lighter,
he's a pseudo movie star. You know he's quite a singer,
quite an actor, quite some time ago.
He had quite a famous program,
late night bedroom tv show."

OK, how many artists write such funny lyrics and put them to great tunes to boot? They were a find for me... Oddly enough, I never gave them any thought when my cousin Renée asked me for some CDs of theirs several Christmas' ago... I just thought what a weird name they had. But then I started hearing the song Pinch Me and I loved it. Now I have all their CDs and get every one that comes out immediately. Their latest, "Everything to Everyone", is very, very good. The tracks Upside Down and War on Drugs are excellent as always.

Now, Depeche Mode has been around for a very long time, too, and they are excellent as well. Again, they score high for lyrics and music and their most recent release, "Playing the Angel", is very much as their music of "Violator" - one of my all-time favourites. They have always put out great music but this is Depeche Mode at their best.

Luis found a song on one of his shows, Las Vegas, and I like it too - this is not my normal style of music but it is really quite energetic, great beat, excellent dance floor music. I hope the DJ at our squad installation dinner in March has this to play! It is a song called Ponce de Replay - I think - sometimes Windows Media Player does not get the names quite right. It is by a young woman named Rihanna - good Irish name! Well, Celtic, anyway. Nonetheless, while this is dance music, something that I usually only find good on a dance floor at a wedding or big party, this is fun to listen to anywhere.

There are, of course, always exceptions - I really have little use for Country and Western in any fashion, but The Devil Went Down to Georgia is undoubtedly one of those remarkable exceptions. It is fun and great to listen or dance to. Those songs are always exceptions.

I do like a fair amount of heavy metal, although not enough to own too much of it. I listen to a lot of punk, alternative, rock, classical, soundtracks and Irish/folk music. I also love Dead Can Dance, an Irish group that does a lot of Middle Eastern music. I love folk music from all over - we went to a friend's wedding that was Hindi - it was an amazing wedding - and I loved the music. I really should get Vineet to send me some of the music he had there. I loved it. This is one reason that I hate it when people say that any culture is all bad or whatever, or are just terribly prejudice. That is an entire culture that you are ignoring - the history, the music, the books, the knowledge, food, etcetera - the list of things that any culture contributes to the world is endless - it is a terrible thing to be so insular. And yet, so many cultures are totally insular. Certainly Americans epitomize this attitude. This is where I am not - NOT AT ALL - proud to be an American. I would not be happy to be a part of any group with that attitude. Mostly I like being an American and this is an amazing country to live in but not when it comes to the pervasive attitude that we are the living end and should not embrace any other culture but ours!

Again, another topic for another time, I guess.

Anyway, I love music.

And I have it - or try to have it - everywhere. I have a radio/MP3-CD player in my office at work, my computer in my home office (where I am right now, happily ripping and burning music at this very moment), in my car, and a wonderful little MP3/WMA player that Luis got me for Christmas last year. I have the Rio Carbon. I got Luis an iPod for his 40th birthday in June (back when I was rich, ha, ha) but I like my player much better. It holds as much as his iPod, but weighs quite a bit less. That iPod is a doorstop! I have a ZipConnect stereo system on my Christmas list this year, as my radio at work is starting to experience issues and I know it will eventually cease to work. Then what? I won't go in without something else! I don't think it will look good if I'm sitting there with headphones on.

So there it is - a nearly two hour dissertation on music!

And this brings us back to the original statement:

I love music!

Tuesday, 15 November 2005

Exempt From "Do Not Call" List

Clearly, as with everything, there are exceptions. When I signed up for the "Do Not Call" list, I honestly and stupidly thought this meant that ALL of the abuse would stop. The local yokels, my credit card, other credit cards, surveys, political messages, the list is endless.

Apparently, it is not quite that endless. The PBA and every scammer operating under that and other police orders I have never heard of can still ring you up during the dinner hour. Surveys are exempt from that as well. And in the aftermath of an election that included the Mayor of Parsippany, it is painfully clear that in the interest of really pushing candidates down the voters' throats, they are entirely too exempt. Had they limited them to one call per household per week, I could live with that. But between the political surveyors and the "get out an vote" squads each candidate employed, my phone was ringing off the hook.

I voted last Tuesday night. I did my civic duty and felt... well... ambiguous as always... none of the choices are all that good. But I was satisfied that I had gone out to cast in my ballot, throw in my opinion. And what happened then?

FOUR MORE groups called us to get us to go out and VOTE!

Friday, 11 November 2005

Much Too Long!

Well, it has been an age since I have posted to my blog! That's not good. I guess I wasn't doing this all 21 days - I read that it takes 21 days to form a habit. So why is it that takes minutes to break a good one?

I was watching a show called Bones and I had to laugh in shock and disbelief at something the lead character has said in last week's show - the one that aired on 11/01/2005 entitled "The Man in the Bear". At the end of the show, after they'd caught the killer who, it turned out, was a cannibal, she said, "But is he nuts because he got a brain disease from eating human flesh, or was he nuts the first time he ate flesh, or did he just lick his fingers after surgery?"


Who comes up with this? Not that it wasn't an amazingly effective line... it certainly got my attention. As someone whose hobby frequently allows me to be up to my elbows in blood, the idea of ingesting it is... well... truly horrifying. I mean, we avoid the most basic contact with the patient's blood - on our skin. Imagine if it gets into an orifice - any one! Ick. But it is an attention getter. I just had to laugh at that, as disgusting as it was!

A friend of mine went on a date with a woman he met online. Apparently she drilled him mercilessly about his medical history - asking if he had to use Viagra. Being in one's 50s does NOT mean one needs to use medication to get/maintain an erection! So he rejoined with a comment about her being close to menopause, and does she find that at night she "dries up"? I howled - absolutely was hysterical with laughter at that! Not that I should be surprised coming from the source! I have been known to say some outrageous things... but nothing quite like that, quite so scathing - and not on a date! Not that she wasn't deserving...

So I shall write more soon but for now, this is juicy enough!

Tuesday, 1 November 2005

I Fell Behind!

Spring forward, fall behind.

I fell behind.

I cannot get my ass out of bed on time at all these days. Once the clock goes back, that is it. Case closed. Not that I won't recover, but the first week at work is baaaaaddd news. Why should this week be any different. Next year I will have four weeks added to Daylight Saving Time and I cannot wait for that! It will make it easier I think. (I hope!)

Normally, I go to bed at 2030 or so and then get up around 0425. I get in the shower, get dressed and then drive into work around 0530, arriving at close to 0600. No worries. Somehow when the clocks go forward and when they go backward, even though I still go to bed under the new time (the clock reads 2030 but in my heart/body/brain, I know it is either 2130 or 1930), I cannot get up! Not for a half hour or so. It has to do directly with suddenly seeing or not seeing light. I don't explain it - I can't - I just tell it like it is.

I manage my time well. Regardless of how weird it is at night, I still make sure to go to bed at the right time. But even so, it still sucks to get up in the morning with the wrong light polarity (so to speak) and try not to feel it. And so far this week, I'm 0 for 2.

Good luck. It has not worked thus far...!