Tuesday, 28 February 2006

This Blog Needs Some Colour

19 February. Me and my wonderful acquaintances (two of them pictures, one taking it) - Julien, myself, and Yves. I invited them over to meet my parents and see how we live. They live onsite at their work, so they are not seeing how it is to live here. My parents adore them and they seemed to have had a good time!
12 February. My birthday gift from my parents. I have yet to sharpen them, let alone to put pencil to paper and try them out. One hundred twenty-five gorgeous colours and all stored in this stunning dark cherry wood box!
24 January. Marin, the third acquaintance, sharing his Christmas with me. In turn, I shared my birthday with him.
13 February. An amazing ice/snow overhang that developed from the high winds. The icicles are all bent in, facing the window. It was impressive! Usually this side of the house is bare, but not this time!
22 January. I'm on the ladder removing my parents' Christmas decorations. My father has been rather lame lately, so I am doing the climbing and harder physical labour at their house.
28 January. Me napping with Matthew (also napping) on top of me. We were both quite tired!
Nothing like a few photos to add some colour to the blog!

Another Month Gone By!

Where did February go? Cough and you miss it!

Twenty-eight days is a good-sized chunk of time. It goes zooming by like a week even though in truth you had four weeks exactly in which to get things done. And it is not as though I got nothing done. Not so! I ran four payrolls. I ran a multitude of reports, did voluminous research, did more organising, got more bits and pieces of my life straightened out and somewhere in the midst of this, luck turned around and smiled with all her might upon me. (More on that later.)

But time is a fleeting thing and so I live each day as though it were my last. How do I know it won't be? I have no idea. I'm planning to live a goodly long time, but there might be a Number 7 bus with my name on it (oh, what irony that would be) or maybe I'll be run down by an ambulance - talk about something you love out to get you! Or stabbed by a pen, cut by paper, electrocuted by my PC or one of my MP3 players! Who knows?

Do I remember this month? Sure I do! I have a lot of pictures of February to tide me over. March, though, will see many more photos. The weather will begin to turn and spring means photos. New life, new buds, longer days, warmer weather - things one wants to capture on film (or in this case, megapixels!). Soon the trees will be growing their leaves again. Flowers will bloom with a riot of colour and there will I be, camera in hand!

So goodbye, February... hello, March!

Let The Insanity Continue: More of the XX Olympics!

Oh, did you think one post would cover it? Not a long shot. In fact, had I not been laid so low with the little evil bacteriophage and its friends, there would have been tons of postings going on ad nauseaum! Oh, yes -- much to say on this!
The Olympics is an ongoing source of amazement to me. The diversity, the fitness, the insanity of the participants is just... well... astounding! What kind of nut must one be to dress in a lycra suit, wear an enormous helmet and then run on ice, throw down a little tiny fiberglass sled that barely holds you and zip along at 85+ miles an hour? Head-first on your belly or feet first on your back - take your pick! And the accidents - some day I really WANT to be an EMT at the Olympics! The athletes took some spills that would make any EMT really put his or her training to the test! Not that I wish that on anyone, but if you have to crash into things, let me be one of those who assists you out of it!

So the insanity of the Olympics goes on. There're some new things... skiing across the country and then stopping to shoot a gun... what is that? And curling - I did not see that but enough people have described it to me that I don't feel any particular loss there. But hand over the flaky stuff - ski jumping, pairs skating (that is a sport - ice dancing is not), individual skating, skeleton, luge, bobsledding, and the amazing speed skating. I love to watch the speed skaters. They all start out as though they are taking a stroll in the park... la la la la, laaaaa laaa laaaaaaaaaa... and then as the race progresses, everyone becomes more and more cutthroat and vicious and the pack is all over each other to get in front. The skates themselves are more like weapons - the boot is streamlined and the blade - good gods that blade is 16" - 18" long! The ice skaters have heavier boots but the blades are much more proportionate to the boot.

Of course, the ice skater is a totally different animal than the speed skater. Ice skaters are dancers with modified shoes. Although I found I had little interest in the ice dancing (the music and the sameness of everything was just a yawner) but the pairs skating - yow! Nothing like tossing your partner about, twirling, jumping, spinning and then holding her up by the pubic bone - cringe, cringe - all looks terribly athletic to me! And having seen some of the spills that pairs skaters have taken... that is a sport! Ice dancing... not so much.
Speed skaters are not mistaken for ballerinas with dangerous footwear. The footwear is much more dangerous, yes, but the body types are completely different! Where an ice skater is streamlined and graceful, speed skaters have normal torsos until you reach the hips and buttocks and thighs and then suddenly it is all solid muscle and considerably overdeveloped. The thighs are huge. Their buttocks are very rounded and protruding quite a bit more than the average person. They are rather disproportionate in build - the upper body looks like anyone... but the bottom portion is Arnold Schwarzeneggar on steroids! Staggering.

I've still a week's worth of watching to do (it has all been recorded on the ReplayTV - love that technology!) so don't expect that this will be the last post. This is just the last post for this moment!

Monday, 27 February 2006

New Math But Some Wrong Answers

Subject: New Math

ROMANCE MATHEMATICS:
Smart man + smart woman = romance
Smart man + dumb woman = affair
Smart, discreet married man + Smart, discreet married woman = Purely physical affair that doesn't interfere with the marriages!
Dumb man + smart woman = marriage
Dumb man + dumb woman = pregnancy

OFFICE ARITHMETIC
Smart boss + smart employee = profit and happily earned
Smart boss + dumb employee = production
Dumb boss + smart employee = promotion
Dumb boss + dumb employee = overtime

SHOPPING MATH
A man will pay $20 for a $10 item he needs.
A woman will pay $10 for a $20 item that she doesn't need

GENERAL EQUATIONS & STATISTICS
A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.
A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.
A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.
A successful woman is one who can find such a man.

HAPPINESS
To be happy with a man, you must understand him a lot and love him a little.
To be happy with a woman, you must love her a lot and not try to understand her at all.

LONGEVITY
Married men live longer than single men do, but married men are a lot more willing to die.
Married women live longer than their mates... and hide the bodies better...

PROPENSITY TO CHANGE
A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.
A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, and she does.

DISCUSSION TECHNIQUE
A woman has the last word in any argument.
Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.

HOW TO STOP PEOPLE FROM BUGGING YOU ABOUT GETTING MARRIED
Old aunts used to come up to me at weddings, poking me in the ribs and cackling, telling me, "You're next." They stopped after I started doing the same thing to them at funerals.

Hmmmm. That would be me. My relatives often have an overdeveloped interest in bugging younger people to make huge life-changing decisions to push you into a life you were not all that keen to have. I know at one such family event I finally snapped and asked why our nuptial situation should be a such great interest to them. It was a mini-tirade, nothing really massive, but yikes... suddenly no one was asking any more, "So, what are you two awaiting?" Good - how many ways do I need to say, "Bugger off!"
Stay the way that makes you happy!

Friday, 24 February 2006

Several Severed Fingers!!

No, no, that was what we were dispatched for. The reality, while unique and my first severed item, was not quite that dramatic.
If you are looking at this and the post time is around 03h54, that is right. The hours on this job are not ideal! Still, this was so worth crawling out bed for, even though I'd only recently gotten to sleep...

But this is what EMTs live for. Do we want to see people hurt? No, of course not. But it is fascinating when someone is injured - these types of calls are the most educational and high-intensity and if you are in this service, well, it is the stuff that is discussed and mulled over and exciting to all of us.

Before you start with the faces and "Eeeeeiiiiwwww"s remember that an EMT that is upset or distressed by blood is not one you'd want on your emergency! So of course if it is not disgusting, it is interesting!

This certainly was. It was one digit that was cut diagonally all around the finger but with no visible bone or bone-related deformity (this is not to say that the bone might not have been severed - we could not see it). But the cut was totally around and the fingernail... well. I have never seen a fingernail facing me when the thumb is to me! That certainly wasn't right! So we took a good look at it and it was easy to see. The towel that someone had the forethought to wrap around the injured hand had soaked up most of the blood so that the view of the injured finger was unobscured (many, many times the trauma injuries are difficult to really discern due to the amount of blood [especially if the blood is heavy and starting to clot] and so it is not easy to really know what you are seeing). This was quite something. We did block the view for the patient (who, by the way, was very calm and really quite easily one of the best A&O trauma patients I've ever had), and examined it without his really seeing it. Usually patients are not into seeing injuries that they've sustained.

On scene, however, the person assisting our patient was a complete pain, so we pretty much chased that individual away, saying that we had to take over patient care. Thank the gods the pain did not come with us. That would have made us crazy. And the paramedics, once they checked our patient out, cleared the scene to us and we went to Motown.

So, no, it was not multiple severed fingers but it was still one of the best calls I've been on!

Monday, 20 February 2006

Where Does it End? Religion vs Freedom of Speech

This is an answer to Cogitatum's posting.

To Island: No one is unimportant. I disagree with that.

To Cogitatum: I live in a country founded on the principle of freedoms - of speech, of rights to live, etc. Unfortunately, when it comes to religion, it seems that all will sweep aside those rights to defend their beliefs as the only ones to be of any value. People die all the time in these skirmishes. I have no idea what the exact right answer is. In hindsight, I am sure someone at that first paper realises it was folly and an open invitation of disaster to print those cartoons. But where does it end? And why is it that religion is the one thing that pushes humanity not to its best, but clearly to its worst, behaviour?

I don't know. I do know why I am a poor believer in any religion - this seems to underscore that. I just can't help but feel that anything that causes this much turmoil in its own species is something that has lost its value.

It certainly seems good, doesn't it? It sounds great. Be a good person and there is a big reward when you die. I'd like to think so - even though I see death up close and personal, I still find the idea of not existing... well... discomfiting. But to kill another human being over this reward - which surely seems it will take away your opportunity of ever getting this reward! And where is the God of love that all religions espouse? How do we breed killers from a god who is supposed to represent all that is good in us? How does that happen?

I don't know. It is really a pity. All this bloodshed and for what? What has it accomplished aside from making one or more coroners busy?

Sunday, 19 February 2006

Thinking About Gender

OK. I watch a lot of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. I watch all three of them. I love them all (although David Caruso is terrible; he is the only one I don't care for). And they all make me think - how many television shows now make one think? Not just during the show - but after as well.

There is an episode in the fifth season of the original CSI (Las Vegas) that is called Ch-Ch-Changes, and it revolves around a murdered woman who was a man. She (and yes, it is appropriate to call her "she") had gender reassignment surgery and became a woman. I realise that this is telly and not necessarily reality, but in this case, people really do have gender reassignment surgery - if he or she is deemed mentally fit to do so. How anyone is truly qualified to know that is beyond me, but I understand that there is a long psychological process before the "corrective" surgery can take place.

Humans being the terrible creatures that they so often are do not understand this kind of thing and very often people who cross-dress, pass themselves off as the opposite gender or go the whole route and really do change - physically and mentally and aesthetically - their gender are enormously mistreated. I hate that. It is rather dismal that we are so motivated by fear as to lash out at others only because we don't understand them and are frightened by this.

I love being a woman. And as Greg Sanders said in this episode, "I, for one, like having a penis." I was going to title this "I Like Having a Vagina" but it seemed... uh... inappropriate (which is silly but I don't write this to be vulgar, but to mull things over. And I won't ever apologise for using words like penis and vagina - those are perfectly good words, and proper. Anyway, I do like having a vagina - sure, it took a little time to get accustomed to ( you know, the weird new things - like getting my menstrual cycle - when I did; growing hair; and that whole, you know, sex thing - it is not as easy to become used to as it must be for men), but on the whole, I really wouldn't want it any other way.

Imagine, if you can, and I won't be surprised if most of you cannot, being a stranger in your own body. What must it be like to be mentally wired as a man but be trapped in a woman's body? I understand that only one in four gender reassignments are female to male - it is much more common to want to be a woman. I wonder how that is? Still, back to original musing - I cannot imagine hating being my gender so much that I would take hormones and have things removed/attached to change it! It is just so foreign to me. It is outside the scope of my understanding. And what these men will go through! OK, sure, there are tons of hormones and other pharmaceuticals involved but let's look at the physical process.

I don't know a lot about the F to M process, but I know something about the M to F process (in very basic terms). First the testicles are removed and then the penis is inverted to form a vagina. Yikes. Tell me that doesn't sound painful. Yes, of course, the patient is sedated, but what about after? It takes five days for the neo-vagina to heal enough to remove the piano wire that is put in to anchor it in place. Ouch. None of that sounds... really great. But it sounds better than living as a person you don't want to be.

Still, I can't imagine that. I'm very glad to be female and even happier that I am happy to be female!

Saturday, 18 February 2006

HONK if You Love Me...

Well, I want to write more. But the energy just is not there. I will do this tomorrow.

It's tomorrow... in fact, it is over 24 hours since I put this post here (as a draft) so I would not forget to write it.

No, I don't mean you should honk if you love me. I mean Bob does. This is sort of an ode to Bob - Bob Heinzerling, my lieutenant.

He's the best. And I'm not saying that to suck up (I doubt anyone except one disgruntled crew person would say that about me) - he just is. We get along very well, always joking and having fun, even on-scene. That might sound inappropriate to you but trust me, patients find it reassuring - if he or she were in really dire straights, we wouldn't be busting each other's chops.
Bob in November at a friend's wedding. He hates having his photo taken, so this is the best one to pop in here!

And he is good to me - always giving me tips and tricks and things to know - I'm still extremely new to being an EMT - 300+ calls over three years (on 10 March) does not make me anything more than a novice and I know this. I may act like I am much more experienced but there is much more that I've not done than done.

I always try to be as good to Bob - there are times when I will miss several shifts but I always - ALWAYS - get coverage. He'd have to admit that, even if he's annoyed that I am not there. And the sweetest thing - and this I love - is that on nights that I am not on, he will always honk the air horn on the way out to a call and on the return. Right under my bedroom window! That might sound awful to you but he is telling me he misses me on that call. I miss him on the nights I can't ride too - I enjoy his company a lot.

So HONK to you, too, Bob!

Life is What Happens While You're Busy Making Other Plans - Part II

Yes, I've been sick again.


It wasn't something I ate this time, so in a way it's less stupid -- I did not actually do this to myself. Instead, some tiny little airborne germ that should have been eradicated long ago managed to leave its host... in search of me! And after over a year and a half of not getting any upper respiratory infections - WHAM! It found me and managed to break in, wreaking havoc on the immune system and my head and body...


As usual, my immune system started with my voice. A sure hint from the gods that I talk too much. The voice went and I hoped in vain that it was all that it would take. Occasionally I get laryngitis with no other side effects. Not this time. The voice disappeared late Monday night but around 09h00 Tuesday morning, the head began to ache (starting at the top and working its way into my face - definitely a sinus infection), the ears began to ache, my balance deteriorated (I almost walked into walls like a drunk so I began to minimize my trips about work), and the body began its litany of aches and pains. Aches and pains worry me. I am not prone to fever, but when I get it, I get it in a very severe, scary way. I wonder if it is due to my normal temperature running high. I am always registering around the low to mid-99 range. I rarely read anything below 99.1 degrees. So for me a fever is not 99.5 degrees, it is more like 100 and up. The last time I had a fever, it ran as high as 102, which was scary - that was horrifically uncomfortable.


And the worst thing is going to the bathroom. Let's be honest - that porcelain or plastic or whatever the material, is normally cool to the touch - room temperature or cooler. But when your body temp is elevated and your ass hits that frigid seat, you just want to scream!


This was a really unique infection, though, in that it just completely sapped away my energy. I came down with it on Tuesday, hung in there until around 14h00, then had to go home. Wednesday morning I felt the fever and knew there was no going to work (I will work with a common cold and well enough... I might be slow but I still get things done. I refuse to push myself with a fever. I will stay home and nurse myself until the fever has abated 24 hours. Then I will return to work. Pushing oneself with a fever is extremely unadvisable.


So I had a fever of 100.5 on Wednesday and stayed home, and mostly I slept. The mucus and headache and scratchy throat did not really bother me too much, but the aches and pains were quite difficult. And there is another thing - I won't medicate myself for the first three days of any infection. I allow my body to pull out all the stops and fight it on its own (and as a result I normally do get through illnesses better and faster than I would by trying to ameliorate all the symptoms. I read somewhere that your body will lose that ability to utilize its immune system if one continuously takes medication to make the process more comfortable. I believe it - your body is trying to make you rest to avoid that bad list symptoms and you are ignoring it!). After three days if it is not going away, then there is a serious problem and it is time to take it to the next level.

Anyway, on Wednesday I was sick but able to walk around the house and fix a little something to eat (not that I ate much for a change)... for the six or eight hours I was awake. When I awoke on Thursday, however, things got really ugly!


I woke up around 10h00 - not my normal MO - even Wednesday I was up around 08h00 to e-mail in to the masses that I was not coming in. But Thursday I was totally enervated. I got up, e-mail in sick, and went right back to bed. I did not crawl out of the bedroom until around 14h00, and then I managed to have some juice and lay on the couch to watch in a stupor the Olympics. (Those people are absolutely insane, but I will save that for another post...) I fell asleep on the couch on and off. I went to bed around 19h00 - truly an invigorating day, ha, ha!

Normally when I am sick, I can read and write - and I do make use of the time to catch up on my letter-writing. I managed some letter-writing on Wednesday (I have the most wonderful lap desk) but on Thursday and part of yesterday as well, I was so weak that I could not hold my pen without my hand shaking from the effort! What the hell is that?!

It was alarming. I was so weak Thursday and Friday morning that I could not sit upright, hold a pen, nothing! It was really quite scary. But after a nap yesterday I began to be somewhat functional again. I was not quite so exhausted.


This morning I got up, whenever - no alarm, thank you - got into the shower, managed to drive to work and managed about two days' of work in one long day - I got in around 09h00 and left at 17h15. The kitchen was very good to me and served me both breakfast and lunch, and extraordinarily delicious ones at that. (A million thanks to Greg for that absolutely wonderful breakfast in both taste and presentation! He really outdid himself!) I got a lot done but by 16h30, I could feel myself getting too tired and the fever slowly climbing. It was time to go home.


So home I came and I will be shuffling off to bed now. It was a productive day and totally draining. But I have my fifth season of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation on DVD to immerse myself in! But I had to post something before crashing. Here it is, dear reader.

Good night!

Wednesday, 15 February 2006

Wreaking Winter Havoc

My interns are always making fun of us dopey Americans. My pen friends make fun of me, too. I do a fair amount of whinging in the winter and why shouldn't I? It gets bloody cold here! It is annoying to get all kinds of snow. But my interns are from France (portions of which do get plenty of snow - French Alps, anyone?) and my pen friends hale from such frigid places as Keene, NH; Stavern, Norway; and Jilemnice, Czech Republic, at the foot of the Giant Mountains. I used to have a pen friend in Iceland, outside of Reykjavik. Oh, she would tell me how they were out in their tee shirts in the high 50s as that was a typically warm summer day! Yikes!

Clearly, there is no sympathy there.

Photo: Winter storm of 12 February 2006.

Not that I get much from those in southern climes, either. Several Australian pen friends were envious (?!) and my on-again-off-again pen friend in Malaysia wishes to see snow. He won't have to shovel it, and therein lies the difference. My British pen friends regard it as total evil but they are only slightly more prepared that Georgia or Florida, as normal winter weather does not usually mean snow for southern England. My friend in Manchester gets it a bit more often, but not much seems to phase him as a whole (not much does, though).

The issue for me, upon much careful reflection, is not that we get it (I have said before that I prefer four seasons and I maintain that), but rather the manor in which we get it. We don't really have a steady amount of non-stop snow the way that Daniela in Jilemnice or David in Baldwinsville, NY get it (his is lake-effect snow), but instead we will have days or weeks of mild weather and suddenly WHAM! out of the south comes some nasty bugger of a storm that hammers the Atlantic seaboard!

Photo: This is a snap from Jilemnice, Czech Republic - and look at all that snow! That is a huge - massive - mountain of snow and they put up with that every winter. I really need to stop whining about our winters!

And here is the real crapshoot - I just happen to live in a 10 - 15km swath that is the typical rain/snow line. Depending on the track of many storms I may get rain... or I may get snow. Or - the worst - ice or wintry mix! And we just never know which it will be - unless, like this last nor'easter - it is ALL snow, no opportunity for rain whatsoever!

And the kicker? Would you believe I prefer the snow? There is just no living with me!

The Revenge of the Chain E-mail...

...apparently, it is a bug. Yes, this teeny, weeny germ that I cannot hope to see and consequently slam something heavy down upon it, has me laid low and requires me to summon up more energy that is imaginable just to sit here, in a big comfortable chair, to type! Who'd have known? So. This is pretty bad, I suppose, since I have not been sick like this in a long time. Other that sucking on some Vitamin C and using an effervescent tablet called "Airborne" that has a funny but lemony taste, I am not medicating myself - no pills, no analgesics, no Cold-Eeze with the anti-histamines that might make me sleep three days. If, by the end of tomorrow I am not feeling better, then I will worry that this little bug is too much for me to kill on my own and then I will get out the big pharmaceutical guns. Until then, I am doing what anyone should do - let my body fight it.

Well, yes, I konw that the drug stores and the medication counters at the supermarket have all sorts of items on hand that you can swallow, shoot, snort, or rub into your belly - whatever floats your boat. However, all these drugs do is suppress all the bad things you are feeling. Sounds nice, doesn't it? Well, it really isn't. All those little annoyances such as mucus (runny or viscous), muscle aches, headache, runny eyes, fever (usually low-grade), weariness, not wanting to eat - those things are not your body's way of making you feel miserable - it is your body's way of fighting the infection off. That is the sole purpose of all of those lousy symptoms! It's your body waving its arms and screaming "YA, YELLOW KITTY, YA!!" at the germs or invaders that are doing this to you!

So my feeling is that the first three days of any cold/upper respiratory condition I will allow my body to pull out all the stops and do its thing. I will also go out of my way to make sure that it gets a lot of rest to do its dirty work. I am not a proponent of going into work sick. Yesterday on waking I felt a little run down and the very slight hint of the sore throat that I had had Monday night turned into a full-blown sore throat with laryngitis. But otherwise I felt fine and so did not feel that I could not go to work. Besides, it was Payroll day - that HAS to get done. No options there.
I have discovered that after a full day of nothing - no activity, no medications, I am almost completely over it with the exception of some residual mucus or a light cough. Or a sort of "hey-baby" Barry White sound to my voice. Otherwise I am back to normal. Let's hear it for NOT taking pharmaceuticals!

So today this is my first foray out of bed, and guess what... I am exhausted. Totally and utterly drained! It is time to go back to bed, or maybe brew some water for a hot cuppa... Later I will have a soak in the tub. All healthy things... that will suck every last bit of energy out of me!

A Word A Day - Parrhesia

Wednesday, 26 October 2005

This week's theme: There is a word for it.

parrhesia

(puh-REEZ-i-uh) noun

1. Boldness of speech.
2. The practice of asking forgiveness before speaking in this manner.

[From New Latin, from Greek, from para- (beyond) + rhesis (speech).]

From political leaders to business heads, very few like to face the truth. Some claim to want candor but follow the dictum of filmmaker Samuel Goldwyn who said, "I want everybody to tell me the truth, even if it costs them their jobs."

If you're not entirely sure about your boss, we recommend starting with parrhesia (sense 2), before giving in to parrhesia (sense 1). Preface your opinion of how pin-headed your supervisor's idea is, with: With all due respect... If I may be so bold...

Tuesday, 14 February 2006

A Word A Day - Vagitus

Tuesday, 26 October 2006

This week's theme: There is a word for it.

vagitus

(vuh-JI-tuhs) noun

The cry of a newborn.

[From Latin vagire (to wail).]

A newborn child's cry is called vagitus. Babies' cries have been heard even before their births. It's rare but vagitus uterinus has been observed on occasions when the membranes rupture, allowing air to enter the uterine cavity.

Monday, 13 February 2006

A Word A Day - Accismus

Monday, 25 October 2005

There is a Word for it.

With the largest vocabulary of any language, in English we have a word to describe almost everything. And when we can't find one, we're happy to borrow from another language (from German: schadenfreude, pleasure at others' misfortune), or just make one up (petrichor, the pleasant smell of rain after a dry spell).

Having said that, let's not gloat over how many words we have. English's poverty shows in many places, for example, when it comes to words to describe relations. How useful is it to introduce the woman with you as your sister-in-law when the term could mean any number of things?

This week we visit a few terms that make one say, "I didn't know there was a word for it!" We start with:

accismus

(ak-SIZ-muhs) noun

Feigning disinterest in something while actually desiring it.

[From Greek akkismos (coyness or affectation).]

If you've ever uttered something resembling any of these expressions, you've practiced the fine art of accismus:

"Oh, you shouldn't have done it." or "Thank you, but I'm not worthy of such an honor."

Accismus is showing disinterest in something while secretly wanting it. It's a form of irony where one pretends indifference and refuses something while actually wanting it. In Aesop's fable, the fox pretends he doesn't care for the grapes. Caesar, in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, is reported as not accepting the crown.

Happy Valentine's Day (Almost)

In my paycheck there were a couple of interesting facts:

Did You Know...
  • 73% of people who buy flowers for Valentine's Day are men, while only 27% are women
  • about 1,000,000,000 Valentine's Day cards are exchanged each year. That's the largest second card-sending occasion of the year, next to Christmas.
  • about 3% of pet owners will give Valentine's Day gifts to their pets
  • 15% of U.S. women send themselves flowers on Valentine's Day
OK. Let's examine these bullet points closely. I like Valentine's Day well enough. I even go through the effort to wear red and look feminine (not my normal M.O.). Granted that tomorrow I am off the hook for doing anything, really... My husband is in Georgia, so I can find something nice (and non-edible) during the week. Normally I would send him flowers and give him a heart-shaped box of chocolates. This year the flowers would be off (wrong day) and the chocolates would just be cruel. He is still eating so healthy and losing weight and it would be very thoughtless to get him something like candy.

Back to the bullet points. 73% of flowers are purchased by men... Why is it that the onus for gift-giving seems to fall upon the man? If a woman shows up empty-handed, it's OK. If a man shows up empty-handed, it is grounds for (in HR terms) immediate dismissal or possible physical termination. How did that happen? That seems rather unfair and a little lopsided. It is not unlike weddings - again showcasing the idea that women need to be the centre of the universe and the men, like the flowers and hors d'eouvres, are just a necessary accessory. Hmmm. Are women that self-centred? And how did we as a gender get to be this way?

I would classify that as a flaw - a really BIG flaw!

Apparently I am in that teeny little minority of 27% - I send Luis flowers. Not every year, but about every other year. He does a lot for me. Sending him something once in a while - and sometimes not on an "occasion" is a tiny thing to do for him.

Next bullet point: over a billion cards exchanged. Yikes. One or two people occasionally get Valentine's cards from me (usually pen friends, as my husband is not overly impressed by cards as far as I can tell), and not steadily at that. I only send funny ones, anyway, something that many people seem to frown upon. Personally, I would never ever send one of those hideous nicey-nice cards, except that not even Hallmark or Shoebox cards makes a funny one for weddings and funerals (and when more do you need to really laugh than when burying someone?)

Next bullet point. My cats have no need for more kitty toys, cat nip and there is not much else to do after that. But yet, people do this. Curious.

Last bullet point. 15% of women will send themselves flowers. Oh, oh, oh... this is the kind of thing that makes me embarrassed to be a woman! Is this how low your self-worth is to you? Are you so lacking that not having a man in your life does this to you? Where is your spine? Where is your id, your own value that you cannot be socially acceptable without a man in it or one who sends flowers? I am incensed. I have not always had a man around. Sure, now it is easy to say that but guess what - I said it back in between Joe and Tom and in between Tom and Luis and any other time I was single. It is not wonderful but I am still a whole person without a man in my life.

I met someone at the New York Renaissance Festival with whom I became really good friends. Eventually, however, the friendship went south. After listening to her for years whine endlessly about needing to be married and making it sound as though she would turn into a pumpkin at age 30 without a husband, I could not take it. We even ended up working at Miller Harness Company together - I got her a job in the Customer Service department there (I worked in Apparel Purchasing). So then every single day we had lunch together and it was always the same thing - discussing all her relationship difficulties. When we met she was with her long-time boyfriend, a truly awful looking and poorly behaved boor who wanted to be serviced with servicing her and then was out of bed like a shot to shower because he had an aversion to bodily fluids. I grant you, no one wants to sleep in the wet spot, but really, how insulting do you have to be?
She did break up with him and then developed a truly horrific crush on a very close friend of mine. The ensuing battles due to my friendship with this man were something out of a novel. It was beyond believable. And in the end, she went back to Mr. Boor. For their sakes' I hope they have both grown considerably but it scares me that they very likely have not... and may have even procreated - AAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

In sixteen years of living with Luis, I have been happier than most people I know. Most marriages have come and gone during our time. And I wonder...

... how many did so because the man did not kowtow to his wife's insufferable ego? Or vice-versa...

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, 12 February 2006

An Answer for Anonymous...

Someone sent me an anonymous comment to one of my blog postings, and while it took a long time to isolate what it was Anonymous was commenting on, I finally found it. And so here is the comment, and my answer to it.

Anonymous said...
"Most mentally disturbing for the kid? In what way? Since you're into science... do you have some evidence...not anecdotal or emotional?"

Anonymous, it turned out, was writing in response to my posting Just Because YOU find it Boring... dated 29 January 2006. I read it over and found the only reference to kids:

"Don't laugh - this is juicy stuff! This is the stuff of real life! Yes, I know, Angelina Jolie is pregnant with Brad Pitt's baby. No offence, but really - who cares? People have babies all the time - but volcanoes are not constantly spouting in the Cascades or in Alaska. Well, they really are - at least, worldwide - but still much more exciting than Angelina Jolie's impending doom - I mean, parenthood. All I want to know about Angelina and Brad's kid is that they don't name it after a fruit or a crime or any thing wacky that this poor kid will have to live with!

Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches, Apple, Coco, Phineas and Hazel, Stella, Emerson (for a girl, no less), Alchamy, Nico Blue, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily (could I make that up?!), Prince Michael (not that anyone expects normalcy from Michael Jackson, but the ego...), Steveanna Genevieve, Beauregard, Tallulah Pine, Moon Unit, Atticus, Banjo, Betty Kitten, Blue Angel (for shame, Edge!), Elijah Bob Patricus Guggi Q (worse shame, Bono! And I looked up to you!), Pilot Inspektor, Liberty, Scout, Speck Wildhorse, and my all-time favourite (and most mentally disturbing for the kid), Moxie Crimefighter. That is from Penn Jillette, another person I thought highly of and have had to revise downward to some degree. (And gods help me, she's pregnant again... what'll it be this time?)

Ouch. Now you see why I prefer volcanoes to celebrities and their baby names choices. (Although Gwyneth Paltrow is pregnant again and I wonder... will it be Grapefruit? Grape? Orange? Maybe too typical for them... Kumquat? Pomegranate? Acorn Squash? Oops - that is a veggie. Wrong food group..."

Well, Anonymous, do I have a study or some graph that shows that this is mentally cruel? No, I don't - at least, not directly on hand. I suspect that if I went on to Yahoo! or Google that I could find something some where that would corroborate that - just as much as I could find something that would refute that statement. The Internet is a known source of information and disinformation.

However, I was a kid and knew other kids and now I know people with kids. And children are, without exception, cruel. They are quick to find others' weaknesses and display them; they are fast to find that one thing that can be made fun of to the point of ridiculousness. Children are heartless and terrible to one another. And I cannot say that there were not times when I was just as heartless and cruel and did not do something in that category in an effort to deflect negative attention from myself or as a survival tactic, as school (especially middle and high school) is the worst kind of proving ground and home to all forms of child-to-child sadism (or masochism... I always confuse those).

So you might say, Anonymous, so what if I named my child "Apple" or "Moxie Crimefighter"? Ah, but there is the first thing - the very, very first thing - that any adversarial child will latch onto - the one thing you cannot hide - your name. My last name is Kellogg. I love my last name now and I did survive school - an amazing thing, I feel, as social situations were never my forte and definitely I stuck out like a sore thumb then. But when I was in school, my real last name and my current last name were burdens.

I need to explain the hard part of Kellogg. It is not what you think. That would be the obvious answer. "Rice Crispies", "Corn Flakes", blah, blah, blah, the list is endless. It was "Smellogg" that really bothered me. And there were other less pleasant variations of that. My first name has its pitfalls, too - "ass-in-a-sling", "ashhole"... you get the picture. Your name is what identifies you, what makes you you, escpecially as a child when it is a lot harder to know your self - kids don't have a strong conscious idea of their self as individuals. Adults usually do (although not all of them, which is really a pity), and so it becomes easier to shrug off the verbal slings and arrows of others.

However, my legal last name at the time was worse - Trebilcox, if you can imagine - so I never used it. Also, I have always been my step-father's daughter, not Harry Trebilcox' so I used Kellogg. I wrote it on my homework with Trebilcox on it the first couple of weeks in parenthesis and then I would drop it entirely. The teachers seemed to not care and the kids... well, they were fixated on Kellogg. Most if not none had no clue that there was another surname in there at all. Now, if you cannot figure out what would come out of Trebilcox, well, ask and I will tell.

So, Anonymous, you are completely and 100% right. I have no scientific empirical evidence that points to nomenclature being a point of cruelty to your child. One the other hand, what else is science but evidence seen first-hand and then tested? But you were child once. Maybe you were at the higher end of the food chain in school... but at some point, in some moment in time, you were tortured by your peers - everyone in the world experiences it at some point. Armed with what you know, would you not make every effort to make your child's journey through life - especially his or her childhood and all those visible and invisible rites of passage - easier? I know I would. And so "Banjo" and "Blue Angel" would come off the list.

I don't think famous people do this to be intentionally cruel to their offspring. Just like the rest of us with not a shred of fame on such a huge scale, famous people come in all sizes and shapes as parents. (I must admit that I would be the first to string up Britney Spears, who was kind enough to name her child Sean - a good Irish name - but ungodly thoughtless and stupid and criminally negligent to hold her unrestrained infant in her lap whilst in a moving vehicle - there is no - NO - excuse for that! And then there is Michael Jackson - okay, okay, don't let me get started!) And while I still really do hold Penn Gillette, Bono and the Edge in very high regard as people and for their opinions on things, I still would not be able to resist asking, "What were you thinking?" when it came to burdening their children with such names, because banal curiousity as well as scientific interest would prompt me to do so.

Well, Anonymous, I hope you come back and visit. And I hope you strike up another debate or discussion on something you agree or disagree with. I only ask one favour - just let me know which specific post you are responding to - it makes a little easier for me to respond in a timely fashion!

Good night, Anonymous and ponder well!

Saturday, 11 February 2006

Ya, Yellow Kitty, Yaaaa!

I went on the most distressing call that I have been on in a long time.

Thursday night is my night, and most Thursdays I am out there meeting people and doing something I really enjoy and that - surprisingly - is often fairly easy. Being an EMT means that the 99% of the calls that one has are very mild to somewhat serious and are all practice for the 1% that are bonafide, honest-to-the-gods emergencies and someone's life may be in the balance.

This Thursday night was surprisingly busy - two calls in two hours with a total of five patients. It is not as impressive as it sounds. The first call, occurring at approximately quarter to 19h00, was an MVC (motor vehicle collision) with three people. The one patient with his/her son was fine and refused any medical treatment. Both seemed to be fine and I went through all the steps and had them sign off on RMAs. The other participant needed to be boarded and collared (although some idiot woman who was a witness to the incident and told Bob that she was a doctor pulled our patient out of the car... One can get a Ph.D in many, many subjects so I was curious as to what she was a doctor of, but I never did find out. Clearly not a medical doctor!

Well, we took our patient to the hospital, placed the patient in Fast Track as we were instructed and got out of there. We were heading back to the squadhouse when the second call came out. It was for a person with a laceration from an animal attack. My immediate and first questions were what kind of animal and was it contained? We arrived on scene and Bob radioed dispatch... it was a house cat and no, as far as she knew it was not contained. Oh, OK.

We headed into the complex's square and walked the distance to the apartment. There was one person waiting for us and he was sporting some small lacerations - until I pulled his sleeve off and there were four parallel scratches down the length of his inner arm! Yikes... what is in there, a mountain lion?!

Well, the local constabulary made it - I am not sure of his name, but I find him very likeable... although I laughed at him when he suggested that maybe I would like to go in first. Not a chance, hot spur. You are paid the big bucks to do this... you go! He had to - our primary patient, as it turned out, was up there on the second story balcony, terrified and unwilling to go inside to go through the apartment to get downstairs for medical assistance. She was very obviously upset and kept saying that their house cat just snapped and attacked them.

The very nice officer got her down to us and we were immediately galvanised into fast action. The one person had lacerations that were clotting and looked far worse than they really were... but she was bleeding profusely from multiple deep lacerations on both arms, her right ear and her right leg. It was frightening to see scratches and bites like that made by a house cat... that must have been SOME cat... And scratches that deep... I thought it had to have been a mountain lion...!

Well, we did get them both to the hospital in fairly good shape. I don't know what happened with the cat... animal control was on its way to deal with that. I doubt its future was long or rosy. The two people... well, I know he was fine. Not sure she was, but I think it all turned out okay. I doubt she will gravitate to getting another cat for a long, long time!

Ya, yellow kitty, YA!

Let the Games Begin! The 2006 Winter Olympics

I never watch sporting events, live or televised. Welcome to never say never. What I should say is I never watch any regular sporting events live or televised with the exception of the Olympics. Any Olympics, winter or summer. Here is something where people from all over the world come together to compete in a healthy fashion (that is the idea, anyway) and then separate and return to normal life. These are amazing!

My grandparents were the ones who got me into this incredible display of prowess, physical fortitude and amazing drive that pushes these staggeringly dedicated people to show what they are made of, what they can do! It is an honor to watch this. What these individuals achieve is beyond just laudable.

I do not watch every waking moment and I do not watch every event. Especially with it televised mostly live and with it taking place half a world away, it is not possible to get it all. It is embarrassing to admit that tonight I watched some weird variation on skiing that a Canadian woman got the gold and a Norwegian woman (I think she was Norwegian but maybe she was Finnish - no, that was one of the judges. Pretty sure that this woman was Norwegian. She has the most incredible blue eyes. I wish I'd eyes like that.) The skiing competition was... interesting... but appallingly bad for the knees. As a person with one knee that had arthroscopic surgery and another that at some point will need it, I find that sports that go out of their way to create injuries that will haunt one forever are not sports I can really support. You cannot imagine the harm they were doing to their poor knees!

Another objectionable item is this sudden tendency to create all sorts of new "events" like snowboarding and such - more variations on a theme and why is this an Olympic event?! No, no, what is wrong with ice skating, luge, bobsledding and all the other oldies but goodies? I love the luge - that is one completely insane event... you really need to have a screw loose to want to do this! And bobsledding - not the safest thing in the world; I have seen people killed doing that. Ice skating - especially pair skating, where the man picks up and holds his partner by the pubic bone (whimper) is an event! Yow! But then throwing in all sorts of extras... that is just grandstanding and gouging the public for more money to see these things.

So I will watch the Olympics as I always do and weed through the stuff I don't like to see the things I do enjoy. I have scads of time on the two Replay TVs that we have (think a better TiVo) and can weed through the junk and ads very easily to see the good stuff - like the fascination of speed skaters, with those massive thighs!

Fascinating - as Spock would say...

What is it With Chain E-Mails?!

I always hated chain letters. When I was a kid, my cousin Renée and I would write letters to each other and she would send me chain letters. This was before the advent (and easy access) of photocopiers and my parents did not own a mimeograph (look it up, young people). I did do it once and then suddenly had an epiphany - no one cares, and the dire threats in the chain letter of whatever pestilence will strike one dead if all is not done never occurred. Nor did $10,000 magically appear at the door in small, non-sequential unmarked bills (not that the average 12-year-old really needs or would know what to do with $10,000).

Once is hopefully all it takes for me to learn most lessons. This was one such example.

I never got sucked into that again, and upon receiving the next one, I happily burned it in effigy and told my belovèd cousin that under no circumstances was she to send me these odious things any more.

Now, in the "enlightened and modern" age that we live in, no one receives chain letters. No, a much more odious, heinous, evil creature is now shipped from half the world away to one's Inbox in the blink of an eye - the horror-inspiring and oft-dreaded chain e-mail! And no matter how much I tell anyone that they are not to send me these egregious things, they all do. I have the devil's own time beating people out of this habit - I even give an option - one is permitted to send me these evil things so long as they edit out the portion that instructs one to gain love or threatens one to lose something ludicrous or asks that one contorts oneself into a knot and must send this thing along to 100 other hapless individuals who hopefully view these as the waste of time I do... then I will accept it. Otherwise - no more!

Is this enlightenment? No, rather this is proof that our walking upright and having/using opposable thumbs is a freakish fluke accident. It is amazing that we can walk and chew bubble gum simultaneously.

And so, awaiting me in my Inbox a couple of days ago was this bit of hideousness... My personal comments are added in red, following the foolishness included:

Lotus Touts: You have 6 minutes

There's some mighty fine advice in these words, even if you're not superstitious. A few of them, yes. There is a lot of garbage in here, too.

It has been sent around the world ten times so far. Do not keep this message. The Lotus Touts must leave your hands in 6 MINUTES. Otherwise you will get a very unpleasant surprise. This is true, even if you are not superstitious, agnostic, or otherwise faith impaired.

ONE. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully. People need to work to get and keep respect and those who have lost won't get it and not cheerfully. People need to be recognised on their own merits.

TWO. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other. I do agree with that. Sex is not enough.

THREE. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want. Did you know that you cannot regain sleep once you have lost it?

FOUR. When you say, "I love you," mean it. Yes.

FIVE. When you say, "I'm sorry," look the person in the eye. Again, yes.

SIX. Be engaged at least six months before you get married. Try two years and by the gods, live together first!

SEVEN. Believe in love at first sight. It's usually lust, but yes.

EIGHT. Never laugh at anyone's dreams. People who don't have dreams don't have much. True. Keep some private and for just you.

NINE. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely. I will never ague that.

TEN.. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling. Sometimes the value of a good name-calling cannot be denied...

ELEVEN. Don't judge people by their relatives. Gads, I hope not. Yeesh...

TWELVE. Talk slowly but think quickly. I can't do that. It just doesn't work that way.

THIRTEEN. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, "Why do you want to know?" No. Wrong. Look them in the eye, and tell that nosey individual that you are disinclined to acquiese to his or her request at this time.

FOURTEEN. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

FIFTEEN. Say "bless you" when you hear someone sneeze. I never say that. I say "gesundheit" or however it is spelled. I'm not religious that way.

SIXTEEN. When you lose, don't lose the lesson

SEVENTEEN. Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; and responsibility for all your actions.

EIGHTEEN. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

NINETEEN. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

TWENTY. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice. Especially good advice for job seekers!

TWENTY-ONE. Spend some time alone. I do and value it greatly.

Now, here's the FUN part! Send this to at least 5 people and your life will improve. Is this your idea of fun? It isn't mine!

1-4 people: Your life will improve slightly.

5-9 people: Your life will improve to your liking.

9-14 people: You will have at least 5 surprises in the next 3 weeks

15 and above: Your life will improve drastically and everything you ever dreamed of will begin to take shape. The first three were merely stupid but this one is ludicrous and remains so. Do you really buy that for a moment? Don't lie! You want to say to me that absolutely you do not believe any of this but you did send this odious thing out to at least 14 people in an effort to get the million dollars/pounds sterling, crowns, or whatever form of money is dearest to your heart or to get that perfect man (is that possible? No more than a perfect woman!), or to buy that house or car or dress or have that fairie tale wedding... Oh, stupid, stupid - you make your own luck.

I will or will not get the permanent position I want - predicated on what the current person in that position decides to do and trust me, this individual's decision will have nothing to do with this.


A true friend is someone who reaches for your hand and touches your heart. A true friend won't send these things to his/her friends. Or they would at least edit this part out.

Do not keep this message - not to worry - you could not pay me enough to do so.

Oh, did I mention that I got this message on Friday? Oops... [I'd like to add that shortly after this message came and I posted it here, I got the wonderful news that I have gotten - permanently - the position that I have been temping in for months and that my start date would be 13 March. Hmmm. Seems to me like ignoring chain mail as I do, wonderful things will come my way!]

Friday, 10 February 2006

A Word A Day - Nirvana

Friday, 10 February 2006

This week's theme: loanwords from Sanskrit.

nirvana

(nir-VAH-nuh) noun

1. Freedom from the endless cycle of birth and death and related suffering.
2. An idealized state or place free of pain, worries, etc.

[From Sanskrit nirvana (blowing out, extinguishing, extinction), from nis- (out) + vati (it blows). Ultimately from Indo-European root we- (to blow) that is also the source of wind, weather, ventilate, window and wing.]

Thursday, 9 February 2006

A Word A Day - Sutra

Thursday, 9 February 2006

This week's theme: loanwords from Sanskrit.

sutra

(SOO-truh) noun

A rule or formula; aphorism.

[From Sanskrit sutra (thread). Ultimately from Indo-European root syu- or su-(to bind or sew) that is also the source of sew, suture, couture, Kamasutra, and hymen.]

Wednesday, 8 February 2006

A Word A Day - Ahimsa

Wednesday, 8 February 2006

This week's theme: loanwords from Sanskrit.

ahimsa

(uh-HIM-sah, uh-HIN-sah) noun

The principle of refraining from harming any living being.

[From Sanskrit ahimsa, from a- (not) + hinsa (injury).]

Vanity Is Too Much Work

It really is... I cannot understand how people can waste their time so.

I have a few vanities. I love my hair (some days more than others...) enough to get it colour treated and keep the grey hair at bay. I won't over process it, though - it is colour treated and that is it. I may, on particularly humid days, use a tiny amount of Biolage to keep it from frizzing too severely but I do not use mousse, gel, hairspray, or any other gook. I also don't perm it (which would be ludicrous with naturally curly hair) or straighten it. There was a time when I did straighten it, but it never did become straight so why bother?

Photo: Christmas Day: plain old me, with my normal facial regiment... nothing! The colours and the oily sheen is all mine.

Make up is a plane of existence I never visit and don't care if I never got there again. I don't wear it; or so infrequently as to not matter. I don't mean that I put on a bit of blush each day and that is it - I really mean I don't wear it. At all. The closest I get to it is putting lip balm on and trust me, if my lips weren't prone to chapping in the winter, I'd not do that either.



Clothing is a funny area for me. I love having clothes, nice ones and casual ones, but at my current weight I rarely feel good about buying them. Especially when one is stuck shopping in the Lane Bryant stores or Dress Barn Woman - you don't really think us plus-sized women are actually fooled by that whole "plus size" or "woman" thing, do you? Granted it sounds more polite than "fat clothes for the fat woman" but never think that the whole world doesn't think that. I hate those stores. They are finally making better more in style clothing but at the same time, someone with my physique should absolutely NOT be wearing a belly shirt!

Me with Danny Weber, my beloved Captain. He looks wonderful except for an inability to really smile in photographs. I had on make-up... but who could tell? And did I look more alluring because of it... Hmmm. I think not.

It takes me twenty-five minutes from jumping in the shower to putting on my coat to leave to be ready to leave. On shaving days, it is closer to 45 minutes. I'm not one of these high-maintenance women that takes two hours to get ready like I'm preparing to go on stage. It's nice for Luis. He's waiting, but never for long.

Let's hear it for low maintenance!

Tuesday, 7 February 2006

A Word A Day - Mantra

Tuesday, 7 February 2006

This week's theme: loanwords from Sanskrit.

mantra

(MAN-truh) noun

1. A sound, word, or phrase that is repeated in prayer and is believed to have mystical powers. 2. An often repeated word or phrase that is closely associated with something; a slogan, byword, or a watchword.

[From Sanskrit mantra (thought, formula). Ultimately from Indo-European root men- (to think) which is the source of mind, mnemonic, mosaic, music, mentor, money, and mandarin.]

Monday, 6 February 2006

There's Nothing That Fur Can't Fix!

No, before the animal activists go nuts, I don't mean wearing a fur coat! I don't really mind fur coats, but on the other hand I would not seek one out. I also wouldn't toss red paint at it. I don't like fur coats but it has nothing to do with my sympathies to the animals... they are usually raised in animal farms specifically for that purpose. Is it nice? No... but it is regulated and meant solely for this purpose. I may not agree with wearing a useless fur coat, either. Seems pointless.

But this is nothing about fur coats. This is all about how the wonder of fur can brighten even the darkest day. I have two cats, Ariel and Chelsea. I love them to pieces. They are the closest I will ever willingly get to having children. They are happiness and joy and comfort and let's face it, the worst day in the world can be cheered by their fuzzy presences.

Both are 14 years old and both are showing their old age in different ways. But they still have basic behaviours that don't change. Chelsea is not one to often sleep with me, although she and Ariel will share the California king waterbed we have when Luis is away. Chelsea comes for what I call "nocturnal visits". Fortunately this is not a nightly thing or I would not get much sleep, but it is still very sweet none-the-less. She hops up onto the far corner (by Luis' feet), then zips over or around Luis' sleeping bulk to come walk on my chest. She will stay for just a few minutes and then CLUNK, she's off the bed. Once in a great while, I will wake up and find that Chelsea has fallen asleep right next to my head - I love that! Instant fur! Then I can just turn my head so that my ear is lightly against her side and listen to the happy purring within!

That's Chelsea. That's her MO.

Ariel is a little different. She spends a lot more of the night on the bed with us. Mostly it is on the top of the covers, near my knees or feet, but often enough she likes to slink under the covers and curl up against my side, my hip or behind my knees. Once in a while she will like my fingers or toes for a second, as if to let me know she's there. Her fur is the softest, silkiest fur and I love the feel of it against my skin or the vibrating of her happy purring body against my arm. And no matter how tired, or sick, or unhappy I may be feeling, all is right with the world again!

A Word A Day - Dharma

Monday, 6 February 2006

"One of the hardest things in life isn't solving complex algebraic equations, it's not coming up with creative campaigns for a new client, it's not conquering a mountain peak. It's to sit still and do nothing. I recently attended a ten-day meditation retreat. In this residential program one is secluded from the outside world for the first nine days: no email, no cell phones, no reading, no writing. And no talking. When one sits still and tries to focus, the mind becomes turbulent. It mounts its horse and starts galloping in all directions, north and south, into past and future, to places real and imaginary, and who knows where else. Gradually, though, it does begin to be reined in. There were calmer moments too.
The silence is relieved on the last day. I was one of the last ones to come out of the meditation hall. When I entered the dining area I expected little talk, a gradual easing into the world. What I encountered instead was a cacophony of talk. I felt I had returned to a world I didn't belong to. What was the normal conversation of a few dozen people sounded to me like the roar of a volcano. Before the departure for home, I overheard someone in the bathroom area say, "No one had the flow. I know everyone was faking it." For a moment I felt like telling him, "Looks like the program really worked for you. You can already read everyone's state of mind," but I didn't. Maybe he really could. Who was I to say?

This week we'll see a few loanwords from Sanskrit -- words from this ancient Indian language that are now part of English.

dharma

(DHAR-muh) noun

1. Duty; right behavior.
2. Law, especially the eternal law of the cosmos.
3. Religion.

[From Sanskrit dharma (law, custom, duty). Ultimately from Indo-European root dher- (to hold firmly or support) that is also the source of firm, affirm, confirm, farm, fermata, and firmament.]"

Sunday, 5 February 2006

More Musings About Law Enforcement-Related Things

I have a gazillion more questions for the people I know in law enforcement. And of course I thought of all of them while in the shower. I do an amazing amount of thinking in the shower as it is wasted mental time as a function (who doesn't shower on auto-pilot? Do you really need to think about something that you do daily and the same way for the most part? Really now...) I need to write things down while in the shower as once out, I usually forget half of what I thought of whilst there!

So back to the actual topic... I need to put down a synopsis of the different topics relating to this post as we are shortly going out... I thought a lot about the gun toting thing - remember how one person told me he had to carry a gun everywhere as he is considered to always be on duty? [See posting Guns - Why Do We Have Them dated 20 January 2006] Well, he is out of the country now... so what does that mean? And the Constitutional right to bear arms. And the criminals in the US having that right (not really, but they seem to have no issues getting them) and the criminals elsewhere and the strange code of conduct amongst the normal criminal... and also terrorists - no code of conduct whatsoever... and some other things that will undoubtedly come up during the course of this musing...

OK, I will return to this later.

I'm back. OK, first topic... if you are a policeman (police person? Is that the PC term?) do you have to take your gun all over the world as you are on duty 24/7? Or is this just within the 48 contiguous states, the other two states that are not contiguous and any satellite nations such as Puerto Rico? Do you have to regard the laws of others countries such as Canada, where they are most unforgiving of any of their regular citizenry carrying weapons, let alone visitors to their northern climes? Or can you show up with your badge and gun-carrying card and say, "I'm sorry about this but I'm a cop everywhere I go. Too bad about your laws..."

This particular person is in a third world country on boat. Does this make one exempt? Or is it an issue in a country that very likely uses its militia as its police force as well?

I just don't know.

What else? Oh, yes. The Constitutional right to bear arms. Let me see. A little research is in order here. Hold on... I found this:

Amendment II
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Goodness, is that it? Can't be... I guess it is - but I had thought that there was a little more to it than that. Well. What a vague and insufficient description of what exactly that means. I had thought that really only the militia could bear and keep arms but apparently any idiot can. That is egregious. It's just wrong. People are not really trustworthy enough as a whole to allow them to run around with any kind of dangerous weapon. The police are one thing but Joe Citizen who gets one and isn't trained to use it or is looking to lead a life of crime certainly should not be allowed to carry a gun!

I mostly like the United States and its Constitution and Bill of Rights but this is one of the things I disagree with wholeheartedly. Other countries have their issues with people carrying weaponry of this nature, but not on the scale that we have.

When I went to the British Isles and when my parents went to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, we were repeatedly warned to be cautious of pick pockets. That was really it. It came up often enough that I was quite careful with my pockets and anything I carried; my father was not so cautious and sure enough, someone stole his wallet. What part of "don't keep your wallet in your back pockets" don't you understand? At any rate, that was all that came up. Nothing about staying out of alleyways, nothing about muggers, nothing about this or that part of the city is really bad, like Alphabet City bad. Travelers come here and are likely to be unnerved by all the things that one must watch out for.

So in England, the police aren't typically armed with any kind of firearm. They are armed with something like a billy club but they can use it like a Ninja, practically. Our cops are trained to use a lot of things, but I don't know that they even carry close-range weapons like that. Tasers are better - not too deadly, unless you get someone with a pacemaker or some electrical issue with his or her heart. Guns are just bad. And the bullets are worse. You can get a Glock that fires a specific size bullet - but the options of bullets are unreal. Hollow-point bullets are meant to be lethal no matter what. Here:

"A hollow point bullet is a bullet that is designed to expand upon entering a target. The tip of the bullet has a pit, or hollowed out shape. When the bullet strikes a soft target the pressure created in the pit forces the lead around it to expand greatly into a mushroom-shape. This causes considerably more soft-tissue damage and energy transfer than if the nose had not been hollow. Most hollow points are partially "jacketed", that is, a portion of the lead bullet wrapped in a copper casing."

What about the more eggregious bullets? The possibly mythical "cop-killer" bullets and such like that? I disagree that these are myths - there are plenty of bullets capable of tearing through all different kinds of materials. Why not? As I understand it there bullets were developed by the armed forces for the armed forces and surprise - the public eventually was able to get its hand on this rather dangerous technology.

And then there are criminals and they have their own special weirdness. Most child molesters, for example, have a considerably reduced chance of surviving prison, if the other inmates catch wind of this. While serial killers do not operate under those more developed moral codes of what is acceptable and what isn't, almost all regular criminals consider it a huge crime to touch or hurt or abuse children.

Which brings us to terrorists, who have no moral code whatsoever, and instead focus all of their energy on the ideology that they or their group espouses. It is a frightening breed of people that become terrorists. For them there are no rules, no sacred cows, nothing but bringing their (often misguided) ideology to the light of day. Those are people that frighten me like no other. There is a piece of humanity missing from them.

Well. I believe I have mostly fulfilled my musings here... I have to ask the one person if he has ever been shot... [3/18/06 - he has. So have other friends of mine, and it is not nice. The wound (although long healed) is distinctive and quite ugly. Guns are ugly things and leave ugly reminders. Perhaps that is fitting...]

Saturday, 4 February 2006

This is My Life...

And the weirdness continues...

My mother woke up this morning around 0915, tested her blood sugar and discovered it to be 34. This is low - really, really low. Like "get the paramedics right now" low. So what does she do? You would guess that she would drink some orange juice; have a glass of milk; maybe a bowl of Cheerios to jack up the ol' blood sugar. You would be right to do that. So what did she do, you ask? She shot herself up with 60 or 70ml of insulin!

Ray called me up sounding a little panicked. Ma shot herself up with a blood sugar of 34. Now he's feeding her jelly beans... Yikes! Is she slurring her words or sound or move like she's drunk? No. Any headache, nausea or vomiting? No. Hmmm. Well, you should really take her to Morristown Memorial, get her checked out. Just to be safe. You know, before she passes out and you can't pick her up...

Fine. No, wait, she seems okay. We'll keep feeding her and see what happens... Not my advice, but people are usually reluctant to go to the hospital as it eats up so many hours that you'll never get back, not unlike losing sleep. But fine, we'll wait and he'll call me in a half-hour to update me.

A half hour later he calls and tells me she wants to go to the hospital. OK. I'll meet you there.

I made sure to wear my EMT jacket. Make no mistake - this was totally purposeful as you know, just as the sun rises and sets, you will get better treatment there with that bit of name-dropping or what ever it is called. Great! I don't mean better medical care or faster treatment, but the nurses and doctor are much more pleasant and take the time to explain things more and really do present a more "we're here to help" and less of a "why are you wasting my time" attitude. This isn't pointing the finger. ER doctors and nurses are notoriously overworked and like us, see more BS things than real emergencies. My mother commits atrocious acts of gross stupidity, and this would normally result in a very desultory attitude but well, I am an EMT and I am referring my family to this particular hospital, so let's be more courteous...

I have to admit, the doctor saw us in no time at all. We got Ma triaged and in the Yellow Zone and a nurse came in briefly and before you know it, there's the doctor. Yay! Maybe the EMT thing does get faster service!

The doctor and nurses made it very clear and in no uncertain terms that this was a very boneheaded thing to do and please stop medicating yourself this way and thank you for coming.

I do lead an interesting life. Too interesting...

Another Survey - 2006 Getting to Know You...

1. What time did you get up this morning? 0510

2. Diamonds or pearls? Garnets – I refuse to own any jewelry I have to insure

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Ummm. Not sure, it’s been that long. Maybe Harry Potter? The last one. Money wasted…

4. Favorite T.V. Show? C.S.I. (the Las Vegas one)

5. What did you have for breakfast? Hot tea and Triskets

6. What is your middle name? I don’t have one. When I changed my name I dropped it.

7. Favorite cuisine(s)? Tex-Mex (the kind IN Texas), Japanese

8. What foods do you dislike? Anything that looks disgusting… like cottage cheese – eeeeiiiiiuuuuu!

9. What is your favorite chip flavor? Chex Mix Hot (I can’t get it in Joisey!)

10. What is your favorite CD? Goodness, I have a thousand favourites. Right now, Coldplay’s “X&Y”.

11. What kind of car do you drive? My baby – a 2001 silver Acura CL Type S

12. Favorite sandwich? PB&J Or a wrap with ham and honey mustard with a zing…

13. What characteristic(s) do you despise? People who cannot admit when they are wrong or have made a mistake.

14. Favorite item of clothing? EMT pants/Wench garb (for the NYRF)

15. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? Iceland or Alaska

16. What color is your bathroom? My bathrooms are circa 1968. One is a mishmash of blues and greens the other is tan and brown. Awful. We’ll be renovating our bathrooms this year.

17. Favorite brand(s) of clothing? Huh? None. I don’t buy name brands. I just want to see that it looks nice and magically make me look fifty pounds slimmer!

18. To where would you retire? Palm Springs, California – no argument – no more humidity for me!

19. What was your most memorable birthday? They all are – good, bad or indifferent

20. Favorite sport(s) to watch? The ONLY sports I will ever deign to watch are certain events in the Olympics.

21. Furthest place you are sending this? Czech Republic

22. Who do you least expect to send this back to you? Um, most people. And I never make that a condition. I HATE chain mail (but I love surveys – go figure)

23. Person you expect to send it back first? Either the Bean in England or Daniela in the Czech Republic. Few others will. It may get a response on my blog.

24. Favorite DVD/movie(s)? Shakespeare in Love, Finding Nemo, The Full Monty, Hopscotch

25. When is your birthday? 26 January 1968

26. When is your anniversary (if you have one)? 22 March 1990

27. Are you a morning person or a night person? Oddly enough, I’m a daylight person. More useful in the summer, obviously!

28. What is your shoe size? 8 – the size that always runs out first.

29. Pets: Ariel and Chelsea, two American shorthair cats

30. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share? I’m never going to have kids! That’s always exciting and wonderful!

31. What did you want to be when you were little? Astronomer. You wouldn’t believe the math I’d’ve had to take!

32. How are you today? A little tired but my usual weird happy self!

33. What is your favorite candy? Changes… Skittles, Smarties, Starburst

34. What is/are your favorite flower? Hmmm. Hyacinth

35. What is a date on the calendar you are looking forward to? Today. Every day above ground is a good one. I’m not one to live in the future.

36. Where is the furthest you have ever been from home? To the east, the British Isles. To the west, Laguna Beach, California. South, Texas and North, Montreal.

37. A small thing you really enjoy? Writing letters to my wonderful pen friends all over the world.

Friday, 3 February 2006

Head Lights, SUVs, Morons with License to Drive

The life of a commuter is not an easy one. It is one fraught with danger and aggravation beyond imagining! Everytime I buckle myself into my car, I am well aware of the gauntlet that I am preparing to run. I am also a conscientious driver. I'm not saying I'm a great driver, but I am a defensive and more often polite driver than most, due to two big factors.

1. On 1 September 2001 at 20:22 I was struck by an SUV - on foot. It is no great leap to say that the irresponsible driver of that fiasco was not by any means driving safely. He was going well in excess of the speed limit, jumped a lane or two to get to the exit ramp that I was on (my car had run out of gas. My first and last time that that ever happened. I learned my lesson about how dangerous it is to run out of gas, ha, ha!) and locked up the brakes before striking the police car safely parked behind mine and then hitting my as I ran fast to get away from him. Had I remained where I was, he'd have struck me head on and killed me instantly (at least I hope it would have been instant...)

2. How many accidents have I been on as an EMT? I've lost count. Living in area that is incredibly densely populated and has several major arteries going through it, I have been on many, many motor vehicle collisions and they have ranged from the completely unmarked, zero-damage calls (a few) to the majority, minor to moderate damage, minor injuries to the "it happens but not as often as you might think" fatalities with the completely totaled vehicle. And the dead or dying people. I don't know what it does to others or how it affects other EMTs but it makes me a better driver. It is usually the stupidest things that make for these accidents - usually the driver is impaired but there are plenty of completely stone-cold sober drivers that tailgate and play musical lanes and just in general have horrendous driving practices.

So as a rule, I try to leave several car lengths between myself and the vehicle in front of me. I do not play musical lanes. I get to the lane I would like to be there and remain there until I need to think about departing that highway. I actually turn my head to look - really look and not rely on my rear and wing mirrors - to switch lanes, a habit that has saved my ass and my car more than I can count. It's also a habit bourne of driving the ambulance - there is no way to see out the back and the blind spots on the rigs are enormous!

Most other drivers could give a rat's behind about other drivers. They are looking out for the ol' number one and poorly at that.

That covers the morons with license to drive.

SUVs. Well, you can imagine that there is little good to say about those creatures. Clearly gas-guzzling and dangerous - but the fun of being taller than everyone else is there. However, it the price worth it? I don't mean the cost of the gas and the cost of the vehicle... if you are driving an SUV and get into an accident you will do a ton of damage to your opponent, especially if that individual is a standard size car. There is a much higher chance that you may fatally injure the other party. Then there is winter driving. Don't kid yourself and do NOT let those idiot manufacturers fool you into thinking that you will have better anything on the roads in snow. Most winter accidents that I have been on are SUV drivers that really thought his or her vehicle would not slide on snow-covered roads. Surprise! And ice? Forget that - ice is the great equalizer. Even our 14,000lb ambulance slides like a graceless elephant on ice. No one has anything that wins over frozen water.

I am always surprised (and laughing) when I see a little tiny 5'2" woman clamber down from the monster truck she owns/was driving. It looks absurd. And I think that it is crazy for someone that small to drive these bull-like creatures around because I know that their field of vision is not what it needs to be.

I also have theories on men with really big trucks. I believe that there is a direct and inverse relationship between a man's penis and the size (or speed or sportiness or price) of his vehicle. That's right. Shrek was right on when he gazed up and up and up at Farquaad's building and asked rhetorically, "D'ye think he's tryin' to compensate for sumpthin'?" The answer is yes. The middle aged bald man with the corvette, the idiot with a truck that requires a ladder to enter and exit... they are all compensating and you know for what.

And this brings us to head lights.

I find myself waiting to make a left onto Mountain Road from Shunpike or onto North Beverwyck from Vail and the person waiting to the same on the opposite side of the intersection is completely blinding me. In an SUV the damn things are right at my eye level and entirely too many people have trucks. In some annoying vehicles, the newer ones, it is equipped with these incandescent or fluorescent blue bulbs that would kill anyone's eyes. It is a horror. Or, like last night, some complete bloody ass had his high-beams on! AAAAAAAAAARRRRGGGGGHHHH!

Commuting: the nightmare of getting from Point A to Point B...

More Trouble with Weather...

When do we start worrying?

"ATLANTA - Climate experts on Thursday confirmed the start of a mild cooling of the tropical Pacific Ocean known as La Nina.

It's too early to tell how that will affect spring and summer weather, they said, but often La Nina conditions coincide with stronger and more numerous hurricanes, wet weather in the Pacific Northwest and dry conditions in the South.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center made the announcement at the American Meteorological Society's meeting in Atlanta, confirming the slight cooling of parts of the Pacific Ocean and changes in the jet stream.

Internationally, La Nina typically creates more rainfall across Indonesia and northern Australia and the Amazon basin, said Edward Alan O'Lenic, chief of the operations branch of the Climate Prediction Center.

La Nina is the opposite of the better known El Nino, a Pacific warming. The last La Nina was in 2000-2001."

Or there's this:

"Tornadoes early Thursday tore through New Orleans neighborhoods that were hit hard by Hurricane Katrina just five months earlier, collapsing at least one previously damaged house and battering the airport, authorities said. Roofs were ripped off and utility poles came down, but no serious injuries were reported. "Don't ever ask the question, `What else could happen?"' said Marcia Paul Leoni, a mortgage banker who was surveying the new damage to her Katrina-flooded home. She would go no farther than the front porch of her house Thursday morning. Windows were blown out, and the building appeared to be leaning. "I've been in the mortgage business for 20 years. I know when something's unsafe," she said.

Electricity was knocked out at Louis Armstrong International Airport, grounding passenger flights and leaving travelers to wait in a dimly lit terminal powered by generators. The storm also ripped off part of a concourse roof, slammed one jetway into another, and flipped motorized runway luggage carts. "There's more damage to the terminal than I saw during the hurricane," airport spokeswoman Michelle Duffourc said.

A line of severe thunderstorms moved across the area around 2:30 a.m. Tim Destri, of the National Weather Service, said it appeared the damage was caused by two tornadoes, one that hit the airport and another that moved into New Orleans. The storm collapsed at least one house in New Orleans' hurricane-ravaged lakefront, police said. "I cannot believe this. We were hit twice. It's not bad enough we got 11 feet of water," said Maria Kay Chetta, a city grants manager. While her own home was not badly damaged, one across the street lost its roof and another had heavy damage to its front. The wind also blew down a radio tower near a major thoroughfare, authorities said. The National Weather Service had yet not determined whether a tornado had hit. The thunderstorm topped 50 mph as it raced across the region before dawn."
Well, I don't about Ms. Leoni, but not only would I have ventured beyond my front porch, I'd've run out to get the latest on real estate elsewhere. Somewhere FAR, FAR away!