Tuesday, 31 July 2007

A Concert in Two Days

Once again, equilibrium will be restored to my life and sense of self will recover, and I will have gotten this week's payroll stuff done... And then on Thursdy night, we have our Parsippany Veteren's Park concert. We will be there, Car 65 will be there and Car 69 will be there. I will be there with camera and flavoured water.
I'm not sure who will be playing... Maybe I can find out on the Parsippany Web site... Stil no new date - that was 40s swing that they were suposed to play that Thursday that we were cancelled! I hope they have them back - I love Swing music!

Well, I should be feeling great in two evenings from now! I can't wait to go!

Foods and Flavours

I'm watching the last few minutes of 60 Minutes, an informative show that I never watch, except for Andrew Rooney's five minutes. He is always worth watching.

In a rare case, I actually disagree with most of what he is saying. He doesn't mix flavours. I mix all kinds of strange flavours and oddly enough that works for me. It is amusing that I'm one of the fussiest eaters alive and I mix peanut butter with bologna. How does that work? I have no idea. My grandmother used to spread peanut butter between two slices of Oscar Meyers bologna and I loved it!

Don't worry, most people have that reaction...

Andrew Rooney is right, though - everything has flavours in it. I'm okay with that, especially in water - water is boring, terribly boring. I love sugar in the worst way and I suppose I'm a total victim of that. I love juice, I can take soda (only clear soda, like Sprite or Fresca), or tea. Lemonade is great, and I have even begun to enjoy iced tea. But drinks need flavour. Water has none and I find it impossible to get into drinking it. Now that they have flavoured water, which has no sugar and no other ingredients (other than water), I like it a lot more. It is not as rich as juice or iced tea, but it is good. I should stock up before our standby at the concert this Thursday.

He did point out that when he gets coffee, they have hazelnut coffee - and a gizillion other strange flavours - that he wondered what is wrong with coffee-flavoured coffee. I wonder myself, but as someone who has never had coffee, I can't really know. I guess for some, flavoured coffee seems amazing. But my father only wants coffee-coffee. If Pop-pop were alive today, he would probably only want coffee-flavoured coffee.

I love lemonade, but lemonade with raspberry or strawberry or mango is phenomenal. Same thing with iced tea - it's pretty good as iced tea, but it is much better as peach iced tea! Why have no flavour or mild flavour when you can have lots of flavours - and different ones at that.

Marketers love people like me. I'm not a smart consumer, but I'm a consumer that knows what I like. And I buy whatever I like, not thinking of the cost. So if something flavourful comes out I want it and enjoy it.

Let's hear it for flavours!

Monday, 30 July 2007

A.W.A.D. - Words with Double Connections

What do you call a town full of twins? DupliCity! And what do you ask twin witches? "Which witch is which?" Well, there'll be no witches in an Ohio town named Twinsburg next week, but if you happen to be there, you'll think you're suffering from an acute case of diplopia.

Every August, thousands of twins -- from infants to octogenarians -- converge there to celebrate Twins Days Festival http://www.twinsdays.org/. To mark the occasion, this week we'll feature words with double connections.

(di-PLO-pee-uh) noun
Double vision.

[From Greek diplo- (double) + -opia (vision).]

(DID-uh-muhs) adjective
Occurring in pairs; twin.

[From Greek didymos (twin). Ultimately from the Indo-European root dwo- (two) that also gave us dual, double, dubious, doubt, diploma, twin, and between.]

(MAK-uhl) noun
A blur, as from a double impression in printing.

verb tr., intr.
To blur.

[From Latin macula (spot or stain).]

double entendre
(DUB-uhl ahn-TAHN-druh) noun
A word or phrase used in a manner that it can be interpreted in two ways, especially when one of the meanings is risque.

[From obsolete French, literally double meaning.]

Words covering the week of 30 July - 3 August

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

The Old & The New

I'm watching "9 to 5", filmed in 1980 with Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Dabney Coleman. I really find it staggering - they had no computers, not even the basic ones with monochromatic monitors. They did have electric typewriters, a copier the size of a cow, and as noisy as any unbelievable machinery in a factory. The sorter is this enormously long thing attached to the back of the machine. A nightmare. Now you can have a single tray copier that sits on your desktop.

I knew that technology had made leaps and bounds, but wow... Time clocks with key punch, typewriters, no computers, dictaphones, those enormous phones, the hair--- aaaaaaaa! Absolutely a nightmare. What a horror. And ye gods... harassment was unreal!

I realise Dabney Coleman is supposed to be a totally oversexed bigoted ass, but this sort of thing was not unknown or unheard of and even commonplace. He hit on his secretary all the time, spread rumours that he was sleeping with her. She wasn't sleeping with him but the office staff certainly. He also took his workers' ideas and sold them to upper management as his. He wouldn't promote women.


No Human Resources department there, clearly. Comments like, "He has a family to support" and "clients just like to deal with men for figures". My gods! Who does this?!

What an improvement the world has made to business!

Monday, 23 July 2007

A.W.A.D. - Quotation Words

Guest Wordsmith Fred Shapiro (fred.shapiro yale.edu) writes:

My recently published book, The Yale Book of Quotations (Yale University Press), is intended to supplant Bartlett's Familiar Quotations and the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations as the most authoritative quotation dictionary. It is the first major quotation book to emphasize modern sources, including popular culture, children's literature, sports, computers, politics, and law. The Yale Book of Quotations is also the first quotation book of any sort to use state-of-the-art research methods to comprehensively collect famous quotations and to trace quotations to their accurate origins. The Yale Book of Quotations includes hundreds of very famous and popular quotations omitted from other quotation dictionaries, and corrects the standard accounts of how many important quotations originated.

(This week's Guest Wordsmith Fred Shapiro is a librarian and lecturer at the Yale Law School. Anu Garg is traveling.)

(an-ik-DO-tij) noun
1. The telling of anecdotes.
2. Anecdotes collectively.

[From Greek anekdota (things unpublished), from an- (not) + ekdidonai (to publish). Originally applied by the Greek historian Procopius to his unpublished memoirs of the Emperor Justinian and his consort Theodora.]

3. Old age characterized by excessive telling of anecdotes.

[Humorous blend of anecdote and dotage, from dote (to be foolish).]

(sur-kuhm-AM-byuh-layt) verb tr., intr.
To walk around, especially ritually.

[From Latin circum- (around) + ambulate (to walk about), from ambulare (to walk).]

(dik-TAY-tres) noun
A female dictator.

[From Latin dictator, from dictare (to dictate), frequentative of dicere (to say). Ultimately from the Indo-European root deik- (to show, to pronounce solemnly) that is also the source of other words such as judge, verdict, vendetta, revenge, indicate, dictate, and paradigm.]

(GLAD-suhm) adjective
Causing or showing joy.

[From Old English gloed. Ultimately from the Indo-European root ghel-(to shine) that is also the source of words such as yellow, gold, glimmer, glimpse, glass, arsenic, melancholy, and cholera.]

Words covering 23 - 27 July 2007

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Another Action-Packed Weekend!

What an amazing weekend this was! It was fun-filled, action-packed and educational. And the weather is PERFECT.

Yesterday we were up around 0630. I had breakfast and we showered, dressed and I talked Luis into coming with me to my parents' house. He did and fixed their computer (again) and then did some other stuff to it while Ray and I went to the Costco to get paper goods. We picked up toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo and Jelly Bellies (a very important part of a well-balanced diet). We also stopped at Willowbrook and grabbed a bite to eat. We did not tell Luis about that part of our trip out.

We came back home and Luis still was doing things to their computer so Ray and I were talking while playing with the dogs - they had the two pugs, Skippy and Harley. Skippy is pretty young, maybe two years old, but Harley is quite old and deaf, but a very sweet dog none-the-less. I really like dogs, in general, but my favourite breeds are dachsunds and pugs. They are much more special and something about them really appeals to me. And they know it.

We spent a little more time there and left around 1330. We came home and I cleaned up the house, while Luis hung out with the computer and the telly. We headed out to the Club then and picked up Carlos, Daniel and Eric.

What an uncomfortable thing that started out... Luis wouldn't speak Spanich and their English is not that good, not nearly good enough to manage a conversation on their own with me. He was being obstinate and then fell asleep on the ride back. When we got to the house, I took them over to see the ambulances and they were really amazed and happy to see them. The conversation actually got to be an ongoing thing! Carlos' father was with a volunteer rescue group in the mountains of Mexico, near Mexico City. He has seen some amazing things, things like I've seen. It's always nice to talk to someone who has been through what you have.

While we were there, Jack Reed was in the squad house and came out to see what was going on. While there, two guys pulled up and asked if we needed a driver. I didn't even hear the call go out. Without tones, I would not have... but Jack said he had and I asked if he could take it with me, so we went - a woman having a diabetic problem. We raced out to Dafrac and on the way, on North Beverwyck, a kid ran across the street in front of us. We were both really pissed off - this kid was a young teenager and he could have easily gotten killed or killed us and others had we been forced to swerve to avoid hitting him. The light was in our favour.

We showed up at the call and an enormous woman was face down on the ground. We walked right over to her and Jack started to shake her back and call out to see if she was conscious. There were a lot of people standing around her and they all called out, "No!" when we did that. She wasn't having a diabetic moment, she'd tripped coming out of her house and then fell on her face. She was howling about both her arms being broken when we were trying to log-roll her onto the back board. We did finally get her on and then got her strapped up and onto the stretcher. She was a big woman, around 400lbs. And a heavy smoker. She yowled and fussed the whole way up to the hospital - annoying. We got here there and make it back here in an hour and two minutes. Fast...

This broke a lot of the discomfort. Luis had to speak to them as I left. When I came home, they were in the sunroom with drinks and were looking at the telly. They were all watching and listening to 80s music.

They were here until 2115. We had pizza, looked at Mexico and the United States in the atlas, chatted in English and Spanish throughout. We talked about life in the US and life in Mexico - the government and the system is so completely corrupt. The police can all be bought, the votes are bought... not that it may not work like that here, but it is not so above-board here. I don't doubt that a certain amount of corruption exists at every level in every government, but I was aghast hearing what they had to say. Carlos was an armoured truck driver and at one point was shot in the head by one of the perps. He was under arrest and monitored by the police at the hospital - for being a victim! There seems to the general mindset that every one is a criminal there. What a horrendous life that has to be.

These guys could work 14 hours a day doing back-breaking labour and get paid a whole $40 or 400 pesos a week. A week! Then rent on a small apartment was $150 or 1500 pesos - more than your work would pay. This is not a good situation. So working here is an amazing thing - they put in the 40 hours at regular pay and then anything over that at the overtime rate (time and a half) - so most of it goes home. Understandable. This allows them a great life in Mexico but here would still be a struggle to live on.

Carlos is here with his wife and two children, ages eight years and three years, home in Apecapeca just outside of Mexico City. He loves them but this is too good an opportunity to pass up. His truck driving job has a pension that does not pay nearly enough to support his wife and kids. The two guys, Eric and Daniel, are single and don't have children. I was relieved to hear that. Most of the people I encounter here have lots of kids on either side of the blanket.

They do use and have access to birth control there, called anticoncepcion, interestingly enough. They don't promote it as a contraceptive but rather as disease prevention. Who cares how they sell it if it works? That is all I care about. It needs to work to keep people from having a million kids, and if they need to say it is all about disease management, I can live with that. As a result Carlos has two kids, clearly wanted and Eric and Daniel have none. I don't think any of them are so young or innocent that they've not had sex.

We joked about women drivers, talked about the prevalence of alcohol and drugs in both of our cultures. It was an amazing experience. Carlos said that I'd be welcome anytime in their houses and hearts and were very happy to have been invited over. I was delighted to have them here.

We took them back to the Club and I imagine I will see them at some point this week. I usually do see them at some point during the week... they'll be coming from the cart barn and I will see them as I'm walking to my car. We managed such a good conversation last Thursday, that I impulsively invited them over. It turned out really well.

And I love learning.

We came home from the Club, and I wanted to look at the sky for a bit in the hammock. Luis came with me and we looked at the sky with its pinpoints of light, Polaris and Venus and Saturn, watched as the clouds moved from north to south (unusual but it does happen). We began fooling around in the hammock and then Luis made a lewd suggestion - I would have liked to have done that in the hammock (we have in the past) but he wanted to go inside to do this. So we came in, I blew out the candles, turned out the lights and came to bed. The sex was great!

At 0559 the alarm went off. I got up, got my plektron and returned to bed. I fell right back to sleep until 0800 when I was blasted out of bed for an old man with difficulty breathing. I ran across the street and got the rig out, waiting for Chris to come. He'd forgotten that I was on with him, I guess - he called looking for a driver but I was there and ready to go. I drove us to the scene. We responded to Baldwin Oaks and met up with David and another medic. I've been on calls with both, but David is my favourite and the other guy is not. He has no people skills. So I was happy to see David. And the patient - he was the cutest little old man! He was very happy, very sweet and we enjoyed taking him to the hospital. He was too funny, and so was David.

We got home from that after nine and I came home and ate. I needed to eat big time. I also needed to wash my hair which I did manage to do. (I looked like Medusa on the first call.) I washed it and had it up in a towel when we got a call for a woman who drank too much and was vomiting. Yuck. I managed to get my hair looking mostly presentable and ran across, where a young man showed up as well. His name is Shaun and he is with District Four and can do the driving. Chris and Eileen radioed that they would meet us on scene so we ran to the apartments, Troy Hills Village. The patient was not vomiting, thanks the gods, but she was toasted in a big way. She was very obviously intoxicated. It was disturbing. When we got her onboard, I started asking her questions and asked her when she began drinking. She responded that she started two days ago. And the drink of choice? Brandy. Is that flavoured brandy? Or plain? Plain, oh, and with Budweiser. I told her jokingly that this was disappointing. The brandy seems like very good taste but then to mix it with Budweiser?! Ye gods...

We took her up to St. Clares, too.

I'm delighted to say that nothing happened after that. Since then I'm just hanging out. I wrote a letter to Harry and I've started one to Molly. I did some stuff online and watched some telly. I also cleaned the house. The cleaning people are coming tomorrow, after all!

Friday, 20 July 2007

The Stupider They Are...

...the harder they fall!

Paris Hilton is an idiot. She actually got what she deserved (and not all of it, at that) and she talked about the experience as though she'd been locked up in solitary in a high-security prison. She wasn't hurt, the food wasn't great but so what? Most places don't feed their inmates or army personnel fine cuisine. Somehow it seems like she had a very light prison experience.

Somehow she supposedly got God, is into learning, wants to help people. Why do I not believe her? Maybe she seems incredibly insincere to me. And she is still a professional partier and still as dumb as a week-old box of rocks! I can't imagine that anyone is actually fooled by any of this.

I just find all of this amazing. I can't say that I have never used something to my advantage. That would be lying, and who'd believe it, anyway? I had gotten pulled over two years ago, out of state, and "accidently" gave the cop my blue light permit. Oops. I got off on the speeding ticket and was given a failure to wear a seatbelt ticket - a zero point, $37 offense instead of the four-point, $300+ ticket that doing 84 mph on Route 84 is... I can live with that. I suppose you could sell the idea that I was endangering myself and others by driving that fast (and I won't argue that), but it was me driving otherwise safely and carefully, not tailgaiting, not playing musical lanes, etc. Paris Hilton was pulled over yet again for driving while under the influence of alcohol, something I consider a hanging offense. How on any planet, in any circumstance, is this acceptable?!

So because this wasted person is allowed to seriously endanger other people because she is the daughter of richer-than-God people or because she is famous but if one of us regular people does it, then we are incarcerated, fine up the yin-yang and lose our licenses. I'm okay with people who do such a dangerous thing losing their licenses, getting points, paying hefty fines and being incarcerated! But I'm not okay with anyone getting preferencial treatment for something like that. I don't care who it is. What makes you or anyone think that letting someone off easy for such a thing is acceptable? Or will make them change their ways? The more Paris got away with this, the more likely she was to kill someone and end up really doing time.

Or would she have been given just a slap on the wrist for that, too?

Who knows. I doubt she has really leared anything of value and she certainly has not grown up from this. She went to jail for a very short period of time, and like most famous people, it was not jail that the rest of us would go to. And then to come across as though she were a victim in all this? Oh, come now. Does anyone believe this? Is anyone fooled by this?

She is still an idiot. She will likely always be an idiot. I hope she proves me wrong, but I haven't any faith...

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Summer Concert Madness Begins!

This year there are four summer series concerts happening.

Nevermind. They cancelled it at noon - unbelievable. There were a couple of black clouds but that was it. I was really bent out of shape that they cancelled it. How stupid. It's humid out but it is normally like that in July! Now I have to wait until 2 August for the next one - unless they move this one to next week. Right now it is listed as "to be determined".

Well. What a bummer.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Quiz - Annoying Coworker?

Quiz: Are You the Annoying Co-Worker?
Kate Lorenz, CareerBuilder.com

Every office has at least one jerk, pest or loudmouth who drives the rest of the workers crazy. Could it be you? Take this quiz to find out how annoying you might be:

How many of these statements describe you?
1) You make provocative statements to "foster dialogue" or needle others.
2) You often find yourself delivering a discourse consisting solely of buzzwords and catch phrases.

3) You make up nicknames for all of your co-workers and refer to them only by these names. (e.g. "Good job, Chachi!"; "I'm going to have to disagree with you there, T-bone!")

4) Your office is completely decorated in your children's pictures and artwork.
5) You have plastered your cubicle with photos of yourself taken with famous people.
6) It is your trademark to recite rhyming or other cutesy messages as your voice mail greeting.7) The questions you ask at meetings are preceded by long monologues of your views and accomplishments.8) You routinely eat odiferous lunches at your desk.
9) You bring in dishes that you tried to cook, but didn't turn out quite right as "special treats" for your co-workers.

10) People seem tense -- even panic-stricken -- when they see you coming their way.

11) Others back away from you as you speak.

12) You send flurries of e-mails to the rest of the company telling them what you are doing. (e.g. "If anyone needs me, I'll be in the bathroom.")

13) You vigorously chew or pop your gum.

14) You wear strong perfume or cologne.

15) You assume your co-workers are fascinated by your personal problems and exploits.

16) You interrupt others while they are speaking or are deep in conversation.

17) You are moody and don't care who knows it.

18) You often give others assignments as they're walking out the door for lunch or to catch the train home.

19) You borrow staplers, scissors and tape from others' desks and forget to return them

20) Your dialogue with others often end with the other person shouting "You are so annoying!"
If you only counted one or two, not to worry, you can quickly make changes before you're labeled a pest.

If your actions match three to five of these statements, take heed. You are on your way to becoming the source of many an eye roll.

If you do six or more of these on a regular basis, chances are you are already on the office watch list and have been anointed by your co-workers as annoying. It's time to do a reality check and make some changes.

Ask your boss and colleagues for feedback, and be ready to listen. If what you hear doesn't fit your self-image, ask them to help you understand what they are saying by giving examples. You might say: "Tell me more about what I do that leads you to believe that." Then listen, without arguing, defending or justifying your actions.

Remember, there are countless ways to aggravate co-workers -- you can even annoy them by trying too hard to please or being too nice! As long as you avoid the aforementioned behaviors, use your energy for the good of the organization, and treat others as you would like to be treated, you should be all right. And remember, it's perfectly okay to annoy others sparingly. It reminds them that you still exist!
A coworker sent me that, so here is my response:
Well, let's see... (I love quizzes!)

1. Hard to say. I do needle you but our relationship is more along the lines of "if you dish it you take it", so that wouldn't count. As a matter of general policy I do "open" friendly dialogues but only joke with those I know I can.

2. I'm not big on buzzwords and catchphrases. That would be like hanging Successory pictures - nauseating!

3. I do call certain people Sunshine as you well know - but only specific people like you!

4. Very little artwork, definitely no children's photos (yikes). But toys and fun things and some of my gem collection to add colour. Pictures are on the file cabinets but never on the desk, ever. Desk is strictly work space.

5. No famous people. Don't know any!

6. No cutesy voicemail. Nauseating. Cheerful and open but no catchy slogans!

7. Not really. I usually clam up in meetings with more than three or four people!

8. Odiferous lunches? No. Good lunches? Yes.

9. I would never try to poison my coworkers by attempting to cook!

10. Not usually. Maybe a little odd, but I dress odd and that is usually an eye catcher.

11. I have not had that happen. I never fire people standing up or in front of them, brush my teeth after eating garlic or onions and I don't yell at people.

12. I send a fair amount of e-mail but not to announce bodily functions.

13. Don't chew gum at all. If I did, I would pop bubbles - why else chew it?

14. Never. I've had too many people kill me in the interviewing process wearing boatloads of perfume, cologne, aftershave, smoke smell, coffee breath, you name it. Also in the summer cologne attracts bees, something I'm allergic to.

15. I only assume others are fascinated with my "exploits" if they ask!

16. Yes, I do interrupt. That I am completely guilty of!

17. I'm usually quite happy but make no effort to hide my general state of mind if it is different - it's not healthy to bottle up emotions.

18. I don't do that but I notice you do!

19. Everything I borrow I return!

20. Possibly Luis may have told me I'm so annoying but after 16 years together that is the least incendiary thing he might say! I know you tell me I'm annoying, but I have told you that countless times, and look - you are STILL annoying!

So I guess that makes me guilty of... let's see... four items. And yet, I know - KNOW - I am much more annoying than just that. But as long as I get the job done, I can live with it.

How'd you answer this quiz?

The Joys of Commuting!

I was up at 0430, showered and dressed by 0530, and out the door at 0540. I should have gotten work at 0600.

One itty-bitty problem... those thunderstorms that would be before noon where well before noon. It was not yet 0545, and the sky was nighttime black, lightning occuring off to the south, thunder rumbling. The moment I got onto Route 80 West, the sky opened up and it poured. It poured like crazy. The visibility was so bad I had to slow down considerably. I thought about pulling over but I have never felt safe doing that. If the visibility is that bad, another car might slam into me. So I was down to 40 miles per hour, but I'm okay with that. Other people didn't like it but hey, too bad. My safety comes first.

So I got into work but it was still pouring out, so I had to retrieve my umbrella from the trunk (yes, I'm an idiot). I managed to get it out, but by then the rain and humidity has undone my hair. I worked very hard on blow drying it so it would look nice and it was ratty then. Hmmmph.

I heard the all-clear sound on the course, but not long after, I heard the siren go off. About fifteen to twenty minutes later the all-clear sounded again. It was a dark and stormy day. Like Snoopy would write, but it's actually the opening line of Madeliene L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. It is a wonderful book, like all of her books. I love her books. Anyway, I was in a meeting with Eric when I heard the rain pouring again. We wrapped it up and sure enough, a good, steady rain was coming down.

Oddly enough, despite leaving work at 1650, I was able to turn right out of the Club drive, onto Shunpike, and I made it out to Morris Avenue with no trouble. Except for the sky opening up again on the trip down Whippany Road, I had no trouble at all with traffic. It was incredible!

It's getting to be near August!

I so love commuting this time of year. Everyone is taking vacation, and the roads are more and more empty. It's not at all like normal New Jersey traffic. It's really great. New Jersey is a great state and I'm completely happy living here, but the traffic does get old. I normally keep the positive attitude that this is part of life and getting upset about sitting in traffic is pointless. (It is... why stress over that which you have no control?) Even I run out of the positive stuff sometimes and need to have a break. Mid-Juoly through the first week or two in September is that break.

It's obligatory vacation month, as I call it. The "I-must-take-my-wife-and-kids-on-vacation-or-she'll-kill-me" month. Business men (especially) spend an inordinate amount of time at the office to escape the small kids thing. By the time the kids are older, the habit is so well-ingrained that it is just life. I can get that, a lot of people do this and kids are annoying. But that is sticking the wife with the onus of dealing with kids all the time. So this is the time of year when men atone for this. They don't realise it and I'm sure that the wives are no more conscious of this than the husbands, although they must get really frustrated that they're not home to help out.

None-the-less, they have to go take them on vacation, or it is divorce city for them. And traffic-free weeks of driving for me!

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Lists: Books, Movies, Telly, Songs, etc.

Lists, lists and more lists: Many, many of my favourite things!
Disclaimer: These lists are not in order. The top item is not my all-time favourite. Also the lists are subject to change.

Top Ten Groups:
Barenaked Ladies
Depeche Mode
Myleene Klass
The Beatles
Led Zeppelin
Adam & The Ants
Spit Enz

Top Ten Songs:
Hallelujia - Jeff Buckley
Hotel California - The Eagles
Flying Horses - Doc's Rythm Cats
Kiss Me - Sixpence the Richer
Bank Job - Barenaked Ladies
Every Little Thing She Does is Magic - The Police
Shadows & Tall Trees - U2
Rave On - Boddy Holly and the Crickets
Clocks - Coldplay
9 Crimes - Damien Rice

Honourable Mention:
How We Operate - Gomez
Nights in White Satin - The Moody Blues
Grissom's Overture - John Keane
Between A Man and A Woman - U2
She's So Heavy - The Beatles
Shiver - Coldplay
Don't Panic - Coldplay
Is Your Love Strong Enough - Bryan Ferry

Top Ten Albums:
The Wall - Pink Floyd
X & Y - Coldplay
Gordon - Barenaked Ladies
Ghost in the Machine - The Police
Boy - U2
The Four Season - Antonio Vivaldi
Moving On - Mylene Klass
Misplaced Childhood - Marillion
Abbey Road - The Beatles
Days of Future Passed - The Moody Blues
I Love Little Girls - Oingo Boingo

Top Ten Soundtracks:
The Black Stallion - Carmine Coppola
The Fifth Element - Eric Serra

Finding Nemo - Thomas Newman
Pleasantville - Randy Newman
The Horse Whisperer - Thomas Newman
Highlander - Queen
The Full Monty - Assorted
The Hunt for Red October - Basil Poledouris
The Mission - Enrico Morricone
Mr. Holland's Opus - Assorted

Top Ten Authors:

Madeliene L'Engle
Anne McCaffrey
Leo Frankowski
David Eddings
John Grisham
Dava Sobel
Tom Clancy
Elizabeth Scarborough
Diane Duane
Courtway Jones

Top Ten Books:
The Planets by Dava Sobel
Logitude by Dava Sobel
A Severed Wasp by Madeliene L'Engle
Out of My Mind by Andrew Rooney
British History for Dummies by Sean Lang
Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
Debt of Honor by Tom Clancy
The Cross-Time Engineer by Leo Frankowski
My Enemy, My Ally by Diane Duane
Spock's World by Diane Duane

Top Ten Series:
The Belgariad - David Eddings
The Malloreon - David Eddings
Dragonriders of Pern - Anne McCaffery
The Cross-Time Engineer - Leo Frankowski
The Austin Timeline - Madeliene L'Engle
The Murray Timeline - Madeliene L'Engle
Dragon's Heirs - Courtway Jones
Myth Series - Robert L. Asprin
The Children of Earth - Jean M. Auel
The Incarnations of Immortality - Piers Anthony

Top Five Comics:
For Better or For Worse by Lynn Johnston
Peanuts by Charles M. Schultz
Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson
Dilbert by Scott Adams
Mother Goose & Grimm by Mike Peters

The Fifth Element
Monsters, Inc
The Sixth Sense
The Black Stallion
Ever After
Erin Brokovich
The Full Monty
Finding Nemo
Shakespeare in Love

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Dead Like Me
Boston Legal
Sex and the City
Penn & Teller's BullShit!
Ugly Betty

Made in Sheffield

If you are thinking I 'm talking about metal working, I'm not.

Sheffield in Great Britain was the birthplace of many bands - Cabaret Voltaire, The Human League, ABC, Comsat Angels, Pulp, Artery, Kraftwerk, ClockDVA, Def Leppard, 2.3, Heaven 17, Vice Versa, The Extras, I'm So Hollow, to name a few. A lot more came out of that city than most realise.

I loved this kind of music when it came out in the late 70s. I hated the music of the time - the Disco stuff (I still do; it is useless and not worthy of the label "music") - I loved The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Van Morrison. But the radios had all gone over to Disco music and it was dreadful. The music, the clothes, nothing very good came of that decade. But music suddenly got a slap in the face when the Sex Pistols came along.

I like the Sex Pistols and I certainly appreciate what they've done for music as a whole. But I did not love them. Their music was a little too hard for me. They paved the way, however, for tons of new genre of music to come out and reach many people all over the world. So many bands, songs, kinds of music were set free as a result of the Sex Pistols. That is something incredible and something wonderful.

Sheffield was ripe for an explosion of some kind. It was well-known for the metal working but little else, and kids mostly grew up in a dirty, musty place with only this industry happening. How many generations can grow up with looking forward to one vocation? There were more and more disaffected younger people there and they needed something new. And so Cabaret Voltaire formed.

From them, so many other bands came to be as well. It took time to make it onto the charts but eventually some of them did. Sometimes the most adverse conditions make for wonderful things. Writing, music, art comes more from adversity than it does from a staid life of doing what your parents and grandparents did.

Good thing! Imagine how dull a race we'd be and how far behind from our current society we would be if no one had the imagination to do something else, something new? Too dull - it's bad enough that we are still savages but to not have moved forward...

Thank you, Sex Pistols!

Monday, 16 July 2007

A.W.A.D. - Creative Legal Language

Guest Wordsmith Judge Bruce M. Selya (honorable_bruce_selya ca1.uscourts.gov) writes:

My love of language can be traced directly to the Providence public schools and, particularly, to Classical High School -- where four years of study in Latin was compulsory and some study of Greek was encouraged. I became fascinated with the origin and evolution of words, and the flames of my interest were fanned during my years at Harvard.

When I was fortunate enough to receive an appointment to the federal bench, I saw an opportunity to attempt to change the drabness of the prose in which judicial opinions historically have been couched. "Legal language" tends to be both stiff and prosaic, not to mention dense. Thus, if court opinions can be thought of as word pictures, many opinions over the years can be characterized as word pictures painted in various shades of gray. I thought then -- and still believe -- that interesting language and sound jurisprudence are not mutually exclusive.

My opinions, therefore, tend to be word pictures painted in less somber colors -- sometimes even pastels or an occasional touch of puce. My love of language and my approach to judicial opinion writing is controversial in some circles. Judges, by nature and by training, rarely tend to be free spirits, and I have encountered from time to time an undercurrent of anti-lexiphanicism. But like Job, I persevere. Language is the lifeblood of our culture, and it would be a shame not to use it to its fullest.

(This week's Guest Wordsmith, Bruce M. Selya, is a senior federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Anu Garg is traveling.)

(ap-uh-suh-MAT-ik) adjective
Serving as a warning or alarm.

[From Greek apo- (away, off) + sematic (serving as a sign of danger), from sema (sign). The term is especially used in case of insects, referring to features such as bright colors or markings to warn a predator that they may be poisonous.]

(plee-uh-KRO-ik) adjective
Showing different colors when viewed from different directions.

[From Greek pleo- (more) + -chroic (having a color).]

(pa-STEESH) noun
1. An artistic piece, for example a literary, musical, or dramatic work, that imitates works of other artists.
2. A hodgepodge of incongruous parts taken from various sources.

[From French, from Italian pasticcio (pastiche), from Vulgar Latin pasticium (pasty), from Late Latin pasta (dough).]

(huh-BOOB) noun
A violent dust storm or sandstorm, especially in Sudan

[From Arabic habub (strong wind).]

COvers week of 16 - 20 July 2007

Watches - by Andrew Rooney

I am always telling employees that one should never feel uncomfortable about correcting others (nicely, politely) on the pronounciation or preference of one's name. I hate it when people call me "Ashley". My name is Aislinge, not Ashley, and while I do allow people to call me "Ash", I will always correct those who call me Ashley. Aislinge doesn't translate that way. (Don't even think of asking what is does translate to from Gaelic to English. Not happening. Some wiseass will call me that.

Now, that is not the focus of this post. The focus is watches - a topic that Andrew Rooney talked about in one of his monologues. The same one I was watching about DNA testing. He pointed out that too many people have too many watches. He is not wrong. It's just funny that he had a whole five-minute piece on this.

I have several watches. Most of them are not actively being used. I have mostly digital watches but I so have a couple of regular face watches - I guess they'd be called analogue watches, eh? Of course. Some of them still work, others need a battery and some may not work at all. But I still have them all. I currently have a watch that has numbers, a glow-in-the-dark second hand, and a small window at the bottom that shows the digital time. The digital hand allows me to tell time; the second hand allows me to check pulse rates. It does it all. It's perfect.

It's my second one like it.

For me, unfortunately, the watch face is not the problem. The problem is my teeny-tiny ineffectual little hands and wrists. All watch bands are too big for me. All of them. I suppose I could get the kid-sized bands but those are not made in leather or anything other than cheesy colourful plastic and they are two small for my adult-sized watches. This has been an ongoing fight for a long time.

And I was pleased to see that Andrew wears his watch face down - I don't know if that is really what that is called, but I wear my watch on my inner wrist, not the outside. No one can see the watch face but me. I forget how I got into wearing them that way.

60 Minutes

I'm actually watching 60 Minutes. The show, the story part, not just Andrew Rooney. I'm crazy about him and the more I read his book, the more I like him and find him enjoyable. He looks at life a lot like I do.

But back to this. On this 60 Minutes, they are discussing the DNA process. Apparently, too many people come up with partial matches. So many alleles in common, and it is not a direct match, but it indicates a direct relationship. Twenty alleles out of 26 in common is a first line relative - parent, sibling, child. Some of the problem is "genetic surveillance" - if you get a close partial match, then the whole family will be scrutinised. Now, take the DNA database... most of the people in it are criminals. Let's face it, it makes sense that the citizenry most likely to be in the AFIS and DNA databases are people who have been through the criminal system. If you look at the largest group in prisons, it is African Americans. If this DNA thing gets out and police or criminalists begin using the information to look into entire families, this will make the disparity bigger between pinpointed African Americans and Caucasoid people.
I don't think that more African Americans do crimes than do Caucasoid people. I think that this country has long had a poor history with minority groups and that this long history (coupled with much less effective criminal forensics) has allowed society to jail African Americans or Hispanic people or anyone else labeled a "minority" more than us pristine, non-crime committing white folks.
You don't really think that having less pigmentation makes you less likely to commit a crime, do you? If you do, yikes! How stupid are you!?
So I don't know if this makes a compelling argument against allowing crime labs to search databases for common or partial hits. It certainly doesn't to me.

Who thinks of this and makes this amazing new way of catching criminals into a bad thing? DNA matching is a beautiful thing. This guy Darryl Hunt spent 19 years in jail for a rape/murder he did not commit. The real guy was caught when a partial match came up for a guy in another jail. The state of North Carolina allows searches through the database on partial hits. They checked it out. 20 of the 26 aliles came up as a hit. That would be a full-blood sibling.

The guy who came up as a partial has 11 siblings, six of whom were dead. One older brother was in another prison. They gave him a cigarette in an interview, took the smoked butt back to the lab and got a full hit. All 30 alleles, all 26 loci matched. That is 13 whatevers in common. And you wouldn't allow this testing?! Why not? If it is so effective in solving crimes, then by all means, use it!

Sometimes the complexity people put into a simple situation just amazes me.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

A Fun Day

Yesterday was an enjoyable day.

We went out for breakfast, the four of us - me, Luis, his father and his uncle, Iggy, who is here visiting from California. He's similar to Luis' father but he's normal (no schizophrenia) and funny and does not need to tell endlessly long, boring stories and be the only one talking. This is a refreshing change from Luis' father.

After breakfast we went to see the 3,000-year-old petroglyphic rocks, one of my favourite things to see in Parsippany. Most people have no idea that these are here, just off of Park Road, tucked in some small woods to one side of a house on a dead end road. I've known about them for maybe three years now and I love to go see them once each season. The rocks don't change but the woods do, the leaves turn colours, drop off and snow comes, then buds will adorn the trees in mid-Spring. And before you know it, we have come full circle to the green, leafy canopy over the boulders again.

Luis and Iggy climbed up the top of the rocks there to get a better view of things. I wasn't wearing the right shoes to get up there and I'm not sure I could've gotten up there anyway - or down. Luis' father probably couldn't manage it, either. That is not the easiest trip. But it was fun to see the two of them up there and we had a good time looking at the rocks and the leaves and the tree growing out of the rocks. It was a perfect day, too, maybe 82 degrees at that point. There was little to no humidity and perfect blue skies with no clouds at all. The weather was a delight.

After that, we took them to see the 300 stone steps on Watnong Mountain, on the other side of town. Up route 10, onto Powder Mill Road, over to the park and there are the steps on the Beacon Hill hiking trail. It's a beautiful hike and the steps are really neat. They were carved by George Washington's engineers to make getting up to the top of Watnong easier. They had the top of the mountain razed to see if the British were on the move and to light beacon fires (hence the name Beacon Hill - Watnong is what the locals of the time called it); now all that remains are the younger trees and the 300 steps. In the off-season when there are no leaves and no ground brush, the steps are obvious and visible from almost any angle. This time of year they are hidden until you are lined up with the bottom of the steps. The ground brush and canopy of leaves obscure the path and the steps so that they are not readily found.

We did not go up the whole 300 steps (and there are no longer 300 of them anyway), having been up them already and not wanting to subject the two older men to such a climb. We went up maybe 20 of the steps and they really came into focus. It's really neat. There are benefits to laving in the third state in the original thirteen colonies. The rampant history that is left from the original British who came here and lived here and the ones who came to enforce Britain's home rule... they left a great many things behind. Sometimes there is a benefit to having a short history. Everything the colonists left are fairly visible and obvious.

We came home after that and then went to visit Vicki and Mike and Stephen. He's growing into a little boy, although I was wrong about his age. He will be four in August - I think it is 22 August - but he was a very big boy at birth and he's still a very big boy. He looks five, but his vocabulary is that of a four-year-old boy. He is the opposite of Matthew, who is too small for his age.

I have mixed feelings about my visit there. Vicki is not happy to be pregnant with the second boy. But at this point, she is 19 weeks along, exactly half way through her pregnancy. (Yes, the normal gestational period for humans is ten months; 40 weeks.) I guess there is no getting out of it. To do something for another person that makes you unhappy is... well... just so wrong. And this is bringing a child into the world. Under these circumstances? It is the wrong thing to do.

But I love Vicki. I'll keep visiting her and spending time with her, if only so that she has some sanity in her life.

I came home to find the kitchen in a state that was unforgettable. Apparently Luis went shopping and really managed to damage the place! There was stuff everywhere. I was horrified. My parents were coming over in 45 minutes and the place looked as though it had been trashed. I cleaned up the kitchen as best as I could and got the food put away. I also managed to consolidate the huge box and various other bits that Luis' new $4,000 computer came in. He got it on Friday and was dying to set it up and play with it. I will admit his office is much cooler now.

It has 12 fans...

My parents came at 1800 and Luis began cooking. We had barbequed shrimp, beef and chicken and corn on the cob and barbequed veggies. It was a great meal and everyone loved it. The food was excellent. Luis does an amazing job with cooking.

It was a really good day!

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Where Fools Rush In...

How is it that people put in time and effort to think about buying a car, purchasing a house but just just blindly go into procreating? They even have mixed feelings or are generally uninterested in having children, but find themselves in the unique - ha, ha - experience of being pregnant. Ignoring for the moment the value of being a little more careful when it comes to having sex, how about still being rather callous about what is - or should be - a major life-changing decision?

I'm very close friends with Tom and Alayna, who have Matthew, their almost two-year old son who started out on the wrong end of the 8-ball but who is really turning out to be quite a kid! Alayna had a difficult pregnancy after a snafu happened (which can't be discussed). They were married on 11 September 2004; they were pregnant by March 2005, and parents by 7 September 2005 - they were 39-years-old, knew from the get-go that they wanted children, so the condoms or whartever birth control they were using was out the window the same day as their nuptials.

There was no surprise, the conversations had all taken place, budgets created and tweaked to perfection, all the pieces in place. They thought and worked it all out and gave it not just fleeting thought, but the full workup from financial, emotional and physical standpoints. A lot of effort went into Matthew - every consideration.

Matthew came into the world weighing in at one pound, thirteen ounces. That is an extraordinarily low birthweight. But he was a fighter from the beginning and he has parents who, as hard as this is, are making every effort to deal with everything that comes up with him, not hiding from issues or ignoring them, but making full use of every program that they can to assure his positive development. This is an ongoing thing and likely will be.

They'd really like to have a second child. They are holding off until things with Matthew become more clear, more known. A wise choice... and not fair that a couple who is so interested and so eager and so thorough in deciding to have kids can't just move forward and have more kids.

By way of contrast, my other friends, Vicki and Mike have a four-year-old boy, Stephen, whom Vicki was not planning to have, and not super-eager to have. She was pregnant during the planning of their wedding, and she was rather ambivalent about having him. But she did it, and Stephen, who is a normal kid and born in August 2003, has really given her a run for her money. She has worked part-time, had a hell of a time getting him to take a nap, and potty training was ugly. She has finally gotten him into preschool, opening the way to work fulltime at some point down the road and now she is pregnant with their second child.

I was shocked. And when I asked how this happened when she was really eager to get Stephen into school, she said that Stephen was asking for a baby sister and then Mike become interested in the idea. So why not... she got pregnant. Talk about ambivalence...

I went across the street for my CPR recert and the instructor, who has a four-year-old girl and a (I'm guessing) nine-month-old baby, is pregnant and due in December with her third child. She is not super-happily married and not working. Somehow this doesn't sound like an ideal situation in which to bring another child into the world.

Maybe it is just me. I wonder what parents of small children are thinking when I drive a sports car, fill up my time with a paid job that I love and an unpaid job that I love. I burn candles and incense, I can go out or stay in or do whatever I wish with my free time. I no longer struggle with money because I've only to worry about mine and some household bills.

Who is the more thoughless person here?

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

A Big Storm

And we missed it!

Lauryn and I went to Rockaway Mall and had a lovely time chatting, shopping and having an Indian dinner that was so good, it was practically criminal! Spicy, delicious, good food, great company - what more could one ask for?

How about the monstrous thunderstorm that rolled in as we were arriving?

It was beautiful - we heard the thunder crashing in FYE as plain as day - that is a big building to hear thunder clearly reverberating. But while we were both sorry to miss it, we were having too much fun to leave.

Having Lauryn to talk to has made a huge difference. Seeing things through her eyes is interesting; she has a lot of history about the squad and her own years of experience with riding, the socio-political set-up, the bullshit that people go through... She knows a lot about it, having done it so long. She has a lot of insight to things there. And who else to talk to about that and the calls and the thrill of being an EMT?

We had a really amazing call on Sunday, an 11-year-old drowning victim. The patient was out of the water taking agonal breathes, but not getting any perfusion. We tubed the patient and the vomiting began and we had to wait for it all to come up. The patient began screaming like a banshee, a very positive sign. I felt great - and the transport to Morristown was uneventful and went fine. This kid is alive (as far as I know, anyway) and a living kid is so much better than a dead one.

What a high.

Lauryn understands the high and the low of being in EMS. It's nice - it's great - to have someone to share this with. Luis doesn't understand that at all. My parents are interested, but don't really know what it feels like. Talking to someone else who does understand is a great feeling!

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

An Afternoon of Pain

I love my dentist. He's bright, he's funny, he's very good at what he does.

This is my fourth crown and I can't say that the crown experience is all that and a bag of chips. But he does a stellar job and he doesn't do a shaddy job at all. But I was unprepaired for the amount of pain that this afternoon brought.

He has numbed my mouth for all of my crowns. When I went in today, he was ready to dig in and I shut my mouth. Where's the novacaine?! He seemed shocked that I'd want it, and told me this would be better if I could feel the bite. There were a lot of adjustments to make and every time he popped the temporary cap off and on and off, the pain was something. It was unbelievably sensitive when it came off and then zinged like crazy when it went on. And then finally all the adjusting was done. He put in the adhesive and popped the new crown on and YOW!

Fucking YOW! It was unreal.

Tears in my eyes. Sensitive or discomfort does not come close. It was agonising. I finally took two aspirin and then ate. I suspect tomorrow I will need aspirin again. After the appointment I was still in pain and irritable to boot. I took the aspirin and once the pain abated, I felt drained. I still do. It is amazing how stressful pain can be.

The Heat of New Jersey

It is over 100 degrees outside.

For those of you working in the Celsius system, it is over 37 degrees - ouch. It is brutal outside and that is not even with full humidity. At 50% humidity it is really disgusting. Yesterday was not a breezy, easy day. Sunday was hot, but it took a back seat to this. At least the humidity was even lower and there was a lovely breeze to boot.

It is cloudy out now. It won't do anything, at least that is what my body is telling me, but then again, one never knows. And while the weather for tomorrow is not exciting, it is better than it was this morning, which was supposed be in the 90s - now it is expected to be 86 degrees. 30% chance of precipitation tonight; 60% tomorrow and tomorrow night.

We'll see. I have become very jaded in my years. The weather is an unstable and constantly changing creature, just like language. It's nice to have someone make an attempt to figure out the weather and what we are in for in the next few days, but the truth is that the weather more than 2 days ahead is a total cipher and not for us to really know.

You can argue that the forecasting process has improved dramatically and you would be right. The computer age has made better and more accurate forecasting much better than it was. But it cannot be completely improved upon. There are still entirely too many variables for that.

On the other hand, they do predict bigger weather systems rather well. Tornadoes are too localised to really be categorised that way, but hurricanes are seen coming - more than ever. I will say, though, that the season predictions are not all that good. While 2005 was foreseen to some degree, but they have been saying that 2006 and 2007 would be bad too. Granted, we are only into month number two of the 2007 hurricane season... but what have we had, so far? Let's see...

We've had two tropical storms and they fizzled out rather quickly. Not exactly a screaming indictment of what a scary season lies ahead. And I maybe laughing too soon - there are still 142 days, five hours and 7 minutes of the season remaining, a lot of time for storms to occur and pile heaps of damage upon us. Or the southern states, who take far more abuse at a hurricane's hands than we do up here. However, we are overdue for a big one, so I should not tempt fate.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire. I'm looking forward to the autumn!


The English language is a beautiful and rich language, and it was long before today's youth showed up to butcher it. Oddly enough, the language, like a living thing, changes and evolves as time moves along. Sometimes it seems to move in a good direction, and sometimes, not so much. But it changes whether we will it or not.

What kills me, though, are euphemisms. You have to love a language where a sexual organ or money qualifies for an inordinate amount of euphemistic words and phrases to describe it. And there is a clear relationship between the importance of the word and how many euphemisms it rates. Money, vaginas, penises and breasts are absolutely at the top of the list of words with the most euphesims.

Let's keep it clean; terms for money:

bean (as in bean counter)
boffo (abbreviation of box office, referring to money collected at theatres)
case note
dead presidents
peso (which is not a euphemism in Mexico)

Denomination-specific euphemisms:
Two bits (25 cents)
Big One

That is not a taggering list. There are many, many more but I cannot think of them off of the top of my head.

Monday, 9 July 2007

A.W.A.D. - Words of Diplomacy

If you've ever wondered whether a diplomat had anything to do with a diploma, the answer is yes. The word diplomacy comes from diploma (from Greek diplo- double), which is, literally speaking, a document folded in double, those documents being the letters of international relations. And that's how a diplomat is related to diplodocus, the dinosaur. The name of those herbivorous giants of the Jurassic era literally means two beams: a long neck and a long tail (Greek dokos: beam).

That's the joy of words. Begin with an ordinary word and you don't know where it might lead you to and what connections it might show. This week we feature words related to diplomacy. Enhance your savoir-fairein any diplomatic circle with these words from the world of international relations, treaties, and agreements.

(day-TANT) noun
An easing of tension between rivals.

[From French détente (loosening, relaxation). Ultimately from theIndo-European root ten- (to stretch) that's also the source of tense, tendon, tenor, pretend, extend, tenure, tetanus, and hypotenuse.]

(plen-uh-puh-TEN-shee-er-ee, -shuh-ree) noun
A person, such as a diplomatic agent, fully authorized to represent a government.

Invested with full power.

[From Latin plenipotentiarius, from plenum (full) + potent (powerful).]

(ek-struh-ter-i-tor-ee-AL-i-tee) noun
Exemption from the jurisdiction of local law, granted to foreign diplomats.

[From Latin extra- (outside) + territorium (land around a town), from terra (land).]

(day-MARSH) noun
A course of action, especially a diplomatic petition or protest.

[From French démarche (gait). Ultimately from the Indo-European root merg-(border) that's also the source of marquee, margin, march, mark, and remark.]

(eye-DEN-tik) adjective
1. Relating to a diplomatic action in which two or more governments agree to follow the same course in relations with another government.
2. Identical.

[From Latin identicus (identical).]

Covers 9 - 13 July 2007

Thursday, 5 July 2007

A Good Day

Some days are good. Today was one of them.

There were no calls last night for the four hours I was on - as it turned out, there were no calls anyway. I suppose that this is fairly standard for Independence Day. I think most people go away, and the ones remaining, while stupid enough to purchase and set off fireworks aren't quite stupid enough to burn off a hand or face. Just as well.

Around 0300, I headed to bed. As I was walking to the bedroom, a flash of bright white-blue light lit up the floor outside of my office... ooooooooo... I stopped, looked at the window of the room, waiting... sure enough, the not-so-distant rumble of thunder sounded soon after. Another moment or two of waiting and more bright lightning lit up the sky outside, outlining the trees. I went to bed and read for a bit, listening to the thunder. It was a good storm. It was not as incredible as most early-morning storms are... many of them are very fiery and loud, boiterous affairs that shake the windows and crash about the house. This was not one of those.

However, it made things even more humid than they already were. Groan.

We got up around 0900, showered and went out to breakfast at The Original Pancake House, my favourite place to eat. I had cherry kiafa French toast, a newer option for me. I loved it. I love eating there anyway, but having another choice is always good.

We headed to the Garden State Plaza for a bit of shopping. We lucked out and there is an AMC theater there, that is newer - they have the stadium seating and roomy areas, and they had a 1230 showing of "Ratatoullie", the latest Pixar offering. We got there at 1219 - perfect timing. We got our boatloads of junk - popcorn, Twizzlers and two sodas - and went into the theater. The previews were not very promising, but then Pixar had a cute short to start with and then the movie. Well! I loved it! What an adorable, happy, cheerful, delightful movie this was! I love the rat, the main characters, all of them! It was an excellent movie and I highly, highly recommend it.

After the movie, it was time to shop. I really like the tea place there, called Teavana, and I was delighted. I got a pound of loose Lady Grey tea (oddly it is called "Mrs. Grey" but it is the same bergamot tea that Twinings calls Lady Grey. It was not decaf, but loose tea is a beautiful thing. And I got a little tea pot for loose tea. These pots are really great, the strainer is very thorough. No loose tea bits floating in my cup. Very important.

That was a $72 purchase. Luis was rather surprised at how expensive this was.

We stopped at the White Barn Candle Company. I love candles - you just can't have enough candles. So I found a couple of good candles, some replacement scent things for my plugin at work and off we went to the next place, which was Borders. Ah, books... there is no way one can ever have enough books. I found a couple of books to buy, and we finally headed out to leave.

We were on North Beverwyck Road and we came to an accident involving two cars. I wanted to stop and see if anyone needed help, but Luis said we could call it in through the Onstar thing in his car. OK. I pressed the button and while the call wasn't clear, the operator could hear me and he connected us to the police. Apparently we were the first to call it in.

I went on at 1800 and we had a call just after 1900 for a man with back spasms - I know the patient. Not well, or anything, but I had his drunk friend twice - yes, the Gin guzzling 83-year-old woman. She is now in an assisted living home that is not in Parsippany, so I never have to worry about seeing her again. This guy is really sweet. He was an EMT years and years ago. So we took him up to St. Clares.

We had another call around 2120, for a male with Alzheimers and having an "episode". We were there and idling when Don got there and then we were cancelled just a moment after that. Cancelled. Well, short calls are good ones. So I came home.

Now it is 2249, and five hours of my shift are over. Who knows what the next seven hours will bring... Except for maybe a really big thunderstorm. The weather report is reading 60% chance of thunderstorms. I hope we get another one. Personally, I hope it comes through and sucks some of the unbelievable humidity with it on its journey. I doubt that this will happen, but it is nice to dream.

Time for bed...

Good Stress/Bad Stress

I don't mind telling people when I am stressed out, but that does not always mean that this is a bad thing. There are plenty of stresses that are good stresses. Going out on a call is high-stress, and that is a good kind of stress, the kind that makes you think of what you'll need to do. Being on calls with patients that are challenging is a good stress. It is a matter of what makes you think, act, not just knee-jerk reactions.

Work offers a lot of stress. More so than many jobs. But mostly that is good stress, too. I love learning, I love talking to employees, I love getting problems that I can sink my teeth into. Some of the work stresses are not good, like when I made that error on the figures for one of the H-2B visa programs. That was not good stress. But mostly, I find that the stress I have is the kind that invigorates me and makes me feel good, strong!

Hence, good stress/bad stress!

Happy 5th of July!

Today - such as it is at 0216 - is my parents' 32nd wedding anniversary. And I'm so proud of mine and Luis' 17+ years together! When compared to that (yes, comparisons are odious, as so many people said, but it is the human condition to do so), seventeen years is rather insignifigant. But I am not worried that we will not make it to the number of 32. We have a good life together.

How Ray and my mother are still together is kind of a mystery to me, but I'm happy that they are. I know marriage is not at all easy, but why do people think that it is? I find that to be mystifying that people don't think that a relationship isn't work. Sure it is. The pay is different and the benefits are a completely different kind than major medical and dental (oh, and 401(k) - very important). But there is still a great payscale if you work hard and the benefits are huge. So worth it.

Sometimes it is hard to find that, or it is difficult to get along. It is amazing how many people have trouble with the relationship side of life. It is not easy, by any means, but it is not the struggle for me that it is for others. Not that I haven't things that I struggle with, this just happens to not be one of the trouble areas for me. I guess that is good.

It is worth it.

The Truth About Cats & Dogs

That's me. I can be so confident and I love my work. But I have so many issues about the way I look. How many friendships was I the short, dark, not cute and blonde creature? Actually, I wasn't short - I was tallish and gawky and not cute and petite and pretty and perky. Happiness and confidence in anything came later. I was good close friends with a would-be model named Andreann. She was Greek. She had long blonde hair that turned to spun gold in the sun. She had a cute, pretty face and about five or six inches less than I. But when we did homework, I shone. When we walked down the street, I was invisible.

A strange thing happened.

She married young and as far as I know she is still married to this guy. We hated one another. I was her best friend and he was competition. So was I to him. And I was ten times more intelligent than he probably ever was. But that wasn't his interest, any more than mine was to be a model. But that doesn't mean I didn't want to be pretty.

I normally wouldn't give up the brain and personality I have to be beautiful. And there is inner beauty. I have that. At least, other people tell me that. I have, physically, the worst smile. I have tea-stained and naturally not-white teeth, with a gap in the front ones, with strips across them as a monument to my years of wearing braces. And yet, people actually comment to me that I have a beautiful smile. It clearly has nothing to do with my actual physical appearance. It has to do with my happy demeanor and genuine smile. I smile because I'm a happy, content person who loves being me. I live a charmed life.

On Tuesday, I was down on the Play Deck and I heard one of the caddies remark to his friends that I was "cute". I loved it. I just loved it. I may be a total wackjob, but I'm cute.

It's fun to be me!

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

A Very Wet 4th of July

Happy Independence Day!

I wonder what the Founding Fathers were really thinking on the 4th of July. I suspect that sneaking fireworks out of the neighbouring state, which doesn't allow its residents set them off but encourages New Jersey residents to purchase, transport over state lines and set off their fireworks, and getting arrested for having M-80 like explosives was not what they had in mind.

Well, despite the weather tonight, there were plenty of people firing the illegal goods and keeping the police at a run. We heard them all over town looking for this or that fireworks going off. They even called out District Four for "smoke conditions" over North Beverwyck and Lake Shore. We had seen the puffs of smoke over that direction with the light detonation sounds of explosives going off.

Remember the old days when people had sparklers?

The rain started around 1730 and then turned into a surly drizzle that continued on and off (mostly off) until around 2145, when the sky opened up and it was suddenly pouring. It was rather ugly all day, but nothing happened until right before my four-hour shift began. And then right at the end, too. Fortunately, nothing happened. But there was a lot of noise and some actually visible fireworks around the outline of the park.

We will be trying again on Friday night, although the weather might still not cooperate. Hopefully it will. I like the fireworks.

Monday, 2 July 2007

July is Off to a Good Start

Of course, July is only two days old. So that may not be saying much. But it really is. Even if the rest of the month is mediocre or long or stupid or whatever, it's still good to have the first two days be pleasant. I want to try to post something every day or close to it. Communication is very important.

The first thing I need to do is write to Molly. I miss her like crazy and I haven't written anything to her in a while. Not good. Not worth it. I sometimes let life get in the way of normal... well.. living. In this case, I really have to step back from all the things that are getting in the way of normal life, and make this up to her. I miss her. A lot. More than I'd realised.

Few people in my life have made the difference that Molly has. And she's put up with me writing endlessly about emergency calls, situations at work... all the weird and wacky shit that so often comprises my day-to-day living.

I love the EMT thing and will be doing a lot of it this month: JULY

Wed, 4 July Fourth of July fireworks standby 1800 - 2200 duty rig

Thur, 5 July Normal night, full shift 1800 - 0600 duty rig

Sat, 7 July Full shift, Sunday crew, Saturday rotation 1800 - 0600 duty rig

Sun, 8 July Normal shift 1800 - 2200 duty rig

Thur, 12 July Normal shift 1800 - 0000 duty rig

Fri, 13 July CPR Training - Shanwee Tsach, squadhouse 1900 - 2100

Sun, 15 July Normal shift, 1800 - 2200 duty rig

Thur, 19 July Normal Shift, Summer Concert Series 1800 - 0000 duty rig

Sun, 22 July DAY SHIFT - primary crew 0600 - 1800 duty rig

Wed, 25 July Night shift w/Danny 1800 - 2200 duty rig


Thur, 2 August Normal shift: Summer Concert Series 1800 - 0000 duty rig

Sat, 4 August Normal Thursday nite rotation 1800 - 0600 duty rig

Fri, 10 August Normal shift: twelve hours 1800 - 0600 duty rig

Thur, 16 August Normal Shift: Summer Concert Series 1800 - 0000 duty rig

Fri, 17 August Normal shift: twelve hours 1800 - 0600 duty rig

Sat, 18 August Normal Sunday night rotation 1800 - 0600 duty rig

Wed, 29 August Back-up crew for Summer Concert Series 1800 - 2200 duty rig

I think in September I will return to a more normal existance. Not taking so many shifts, not riding all the time. I'll actually get to have some of the summer to myself and not be at the New York Renaissance Fair all August and Spetember. And then there is October. My magical month.

I love riding... but I will admit that this will add some strain to things here. Luis wants me around and I almost always tied up with squad or work stuff. But we'll make it work. We always do!

Anyway, yesterday was pleasant. We went to see Jerry and Kelly and Tjurra. Tjurra's kids were there, but they mostly ignored us and we did not pay much attention to them. The only surprise was how much older they'd gotten. Anastasia looks like a 16-year-old and she is only 11-years-old. Her fraternal twin, Cameron, clearly gave up most of the genetics and height and learning abilities. He's a very small boy despite their being the same age.

Tjurra is fun to spend time with, and I do like talking to her. Jerry and Kelly are as usual completely wonderful. We really love them. Spending time with them is always worthwhile.

A very good start.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

A Day On The Course!

Well. I like to live and I like to do all kinds of things and so I finally took Mark’s offer to work on the Grounds for a morning. I came in to work today through the Grounds entrance at 0550 and met Reta, one of our turfgrass interns there. We got the equipment we needed to change cups on the course and headed out to the first green, Lower course. I knew that this would be work. But I had no idea that this would be that hard! Yikes. It was an enormous effort.

There is an apparatus like a wide jack hammer and it takes a nice big round chunk of the green out, leaving a perfect hole. Put the cup in, step on it, twist and turn, voila, it’s done. That was easy enough, putting the cup in. Taking the chunk out and then filling the original hole – that was the effort part. And now… I am so PAYING for it. My back is killing me. But guess what. I loved it! I loved it and I learned even more. I even noticed a fungus on the greens and that impressed Reta. I love learning. I loved working outside (not that the weather wasn’t lovely – I’d never have survived this Tuesday or Wednesday). I loved doing this work, making a physical difference. I loved that the other employees were smiling and supportive and I think they really liked seeing me put in the time and effort to do what they do.

I’ve done this everywhere that I have worked – gotten involved in doing what the largest group of employees do. I feel strongly that this makes me a better HR manager. A more understanding HR manager. I certainly see how much work and effort that these guys and women put in, it is really amazing. I think it is very easy to assume that because people have purely physical jobs, doing manual labour, makes them stupid or worthless or easily replaced. It is not the case. These guys have their issues, they aren’t perfect and they do drive me and Janet (the Grounds Office Administrator) crazy. But they are out there in the best and worst conditions, heat, humidity, driving rain, winds, you name it. That is not a small thing. And they break their backs to do it.

During the morning out there, I did everything along with Reta, helped with the thing we used to get the dirt out, put in the cups, helped marry the replaced dirt into the green, and even watered one green. While I was doing it I felt great. After four hours, I was ready to go and did not even consider stopping in the office. I came home, ate and crashed – hard. I took a nap, and began to feel stiff. Now my back hurts, although the moist heat is helping a lot. I’ll feel it today and maybe tomorrow too (it is 0115, so it is Sunday now) but I’ll be fine. This is typical – pushing myself too far to prove I won’t let limb girdle muscular dystrophy or anything else keep me from living life to the fullest. I’d rather feel pain and know I’m alive and doing everything that I get a chance to than not take any chances at all.
It means a lot to me. So did my morning on the course.