Wednesday, 31 October 2007

A Daily Look at October's Weather

Based on my posting of 21 September in the wee hours of the morning called "Ember Days", it was noted by me that Wednesday following the Feast of St. Lucia's Cross (this past Wednesday, for you pagans, who, like me, have zero concept of the lesser-known Roman Catholic/Anglican church feast days), that the weather was perfect this first Ember Day of September - sunny, a cloudless, clear cerulean blue sky, temperature of around 78 degrees, the slightest zephyr of a breeze. A perfectly delightful autumn day.

This log will start on Monday, 1 October and will be faithfully maintained through Wednesday, 31 October. I will be curious to see how these days stack up individually and on an overall basis during the month (my absolute favourite month) against such a foretelling method.

Of course, today is the Ember Day that portents November's weather... so far, at 0220, it is lovely. The temperature has not dropped to a frigid 40s temp, and the sky appears clear, although last night's moon (20 September) had a halo, usually a sign of less-than-ideal (precipitative) weather to come within 24 to 48 hours.

The newest Old Farmer's Almanac I bought (dated 1979) read that every October 19 days are beautiful. We'll see...

Monday, 1 October: The first day of October was cool, which is not unusual for this time of year, but it was so warm over the weekend that it felt shocking. The sky was mostly cloudy in the morning, but cleared up intermittently, then clouded up again at night.

Tuesday, 2 October: The morning was mostly cloudy, but with just an occasional pocket that allowed me to see Venus twice and the waning Moon on the ride in. There were one or two stars visible when I got to work at about 10 to 0600. The day continued cloudy and cool. Now the clouds are heavy and lowering, looking rather threatening.

Wednesday, 3 October: Can you picture a day with nearly every kind of weather? It started out foggy; it cleared up and became sunny but was humid; then it rained, but drizzle and then downpour. Then the weather cleared again and it was rather pleasant. The only weather form we did not get it thunder and lightning.

Thursday, 4 October: The same as Wednesday, if you can imagine.

Friday, 5 October: Foggy in the morning, warm, got into the 80s, muggy, sometimes sunny, sometimes not.

Saturday, 6 October: More fog - shocking. We'll see what happens. OK, it is now 2314. It was sunny and warm, in the low 80s, a little humid, but nothing terrible. As the night came, the air became increasingly humid. It has been a week of the same pattern: heavy fog in the morning, sunny and hot through the day, humidity increasing at night.

Sunday, 7 October: This morning was surprisingly clear and while there were some very high cirrus clouds, they fortunately waited until shortly before sunrise to occlude the crescent moon and Venus. And I was up early enough to see the conjunction of the Moon, Venus, Regulus and Saturn. Today was sunny and mostly clear, although at one point the sky was overcast. Humidity was not too high. Temperature was well over average for early October. Tonight it is getting increasingly humid again and we'll likely see fog again tomorrow.


Monday, 8 October: A little hazy this morning, very humid and well above normal temperature. Felt much more like August than October, which I don't care for... I prefer autumn temperatures and less humid conditions.


Tuesday, 9 October: The day dawned with mostly cloudy skies that became thicker with clouds as we approached the later morning hours. The temperature prior to dawn was a thick, heavy 74 F (22 C). Around 1045 the temperature was still high - close to 80 F, but a wind was beginning to blow. When I returned from my appointment, an hour later, the wind was more steady and there was a definite drop in temperature. Quite amazing. When I left around 1545 it was cold to me, at 66 F. Certainly it was no where near the 80 F that it had been. Around 1635 it began to rain - hard - on Route 24, then gave way to a bit of the westering sun, before darker, more ominous clouds filled up the sky. Approximately 1910 the first distant roll of thunder presaged the coming thunderstorm, which raged until almost 2100.


Wednesday, 10 October: The day dawned dark (yes, I know...). No stars, no sliver of Moon. It was also sprinkling. It was cool. The day continued cold and a little windy, and I froze my butt off under the heavy lowering clouds heading down in a speeding golf cart (it really wasn't speeding, but I made it to the Grounds Administration building prior to the masses heading out for a shotgun start. Not bad for a cart that does a maximum speed of 14 miles per hour! While I was down there the sun came with Mark and when I drove back it was a mid-May day with bright sun and warm air. And it remained that way. Now, at 2058, the skies are clouding over. The temperature has dropped quite a bit again. But more rain wouldn't be bad!


Thursday, 11 October: Well, more rain we got - by the bucketload. The day started out extraordinarily cloudy; it was not warm, but not freezing, around 63F. At some point, around 0930 it warmed up and even became sunny. It was nice. Then by 1145 it was quite dark and getting windy. And then at around 1330 I hear the lightning detection system go off. It was a while before I heard the all-clear, but it wasn't long before it deployed again. About an hour and a half later (after a multitude of booming thunder peals and unbelievable rain), I heard the all-clear. I looked out the window, saw lightning and immediately the ambulance siren sound went off -- gee, wow, more lightning. Shocking. (Literally!) It stormed all afternoon and was finally winding down around 1700. I left at 1730. I'd had a long enough day. It's still cloudy and a possibility of more storms. Wahoo!


Friday, 12 October: Today began with a storm - I always love 0430 storms. Any early morning storm, really. There is something about those off-shedule storms that is delightful and usually stronger than the more typical late afternoon storms. This one started out very quiet and worked its way into a perfectly respectable storm. The weather was clearing by 0900 and when I went to physical therapy it was beautiful and sunny and cool. It's clear and cool and quite windy still.


Saturday, 13 October: Beautiful, sunny, no clouds in the morning, some clouds in the afternoon and evening. Clear and cold (for us now) at night. Daytime temps in the mid-60s, a breeze. Gorgeous!


Sunday, 14 October: More gorgeous, more beautiful. When the sun is out, the temperature is perfect. A nice breeze, not constant. No clouds this morning; now partly cloudy. Thick full clouds at the lower latitudes; no horsetail clouds. Means no rain in the next 24 hours. In the mid- or low 60s. Delightful!


Monday, 15 October: Coolish temps, a little overcast in the morning, then bright and sunny later. It warmed up to the 70s. Clear skies all day long.


Tuesday, 16 October: The official Womens Golf Closing Day! Warm temps, above the normal October averages, a little humid, but sunny and pleasant.


Wednesday, 17 October: The official Mens Golf Closing Day! Very warm (low 80s), sunny after an overcast morning, good day. A little humid again.


Thursday, 18 October: Another odd start but was intermittently cloudy and sunny. Humid again and in the low 80s, not at all what mid-October should be like.


Friday, 19 October: Heavy, grey clouds were everywhere and there was a very strong line of showers coming up the coast. I drove through New Jersey (one 12 mile long squall of pouring rain), Delaware (a shorter squall of rain), and Maryland (three different squalls from just over the state line until 20 or 25 minutes into the journey. Now I'm in Adelphi, Maryland and it is pouring at night. Torrential rains. No thunder and lightning, though. Sigh.


Saturday, 20 October (Adelphi): Sunny and beautiful. No idea what the temp is, I have not been outside. Last night's forecast read mid-70s. Sounds great to me!


Sunday, 21 October (Adelphi): Sunny, beautiful, and quite warm - in the direct sun, I was quite uncomfortable but the Ren Faire in Maryland is mostly wooded, shady areas and so very comfortable. Low if no humidity. Quite nice!


Monday, 22 October (Adelphi): It is lovely. A repeat of yesterday.


Tuesday, 23 October (Crofton, MD): It started out well and was getting a little overcast, then remained mostly sunny as I drove home. I made the trip in 3.5 hours, excellent time. The sky presaged bad weather for the morrow, however.


Wednesday, 24 October (Parsippany, Back Mountain/Dallas, PA, Parsippany): Overcast and rainy, clear until the top of the Poconos, then extreme fog and reduced visibility. Made the trip in 1.45 hours. It rained on and off all day. The drive home was minus fog (which was a good thing) but the trip was not easy; the truck drivers were everywhere and driving like total maniacs! Got home by 2330, about 1.30 hours. Excellent, but hair raising...


Thursday, 25 October: Overcast most of the day but little rain. Went to the pumpkin patch in the afternoon after getting my eyelid on the right side fixed (I had a couple of "millia" removed). It was cooler out than it had been most of October.


Friday, 26 October: Drizzled and cool all day. Rainy overnight. Not pleasant weather.


Saturday, 27 October: Rained all morning into the mid-afternoon. Very unpleasant but quite warm, high 60s. Cleared up around 1530, then mostly overcast and now clear skies at night. Should be nice tomorrow.


Sunday, 28 October: It is lovely out. The temperature is late-October normal (yay - what relief), cool and dry. The sky is blue. A lovely day. Looks like it will be lovely all week!


Monday, 29 October: Another beautiful day and cool - well, cold - in the morning, and then warmer in the day.

Tuesday, 30 October: A repeat of the past two days. I'm loving it. It's been a treat after so many days of rain.

Wednesday, 31 October: Can you believe another lovely day? Cold in the morning, not cold during the day. It was quite nice.

There is October in a nutshell. (By the way, the Old Farmer's Almanac from 1879 lied. Not every 19 October is beautiful - this last one certainly wasn't!

Monday, 29 October 2007

The Struggles of Eating Right & Weight Loss

I'm weighing in at 188.5. Constantly for the last four days. I'm not happy.

All this cutting out sugar is a weird thing. It's the best thing to do but it is hard and amazing how much has sugar in it. And it is not an all day struggle. It is an at home struggle. I can fairly easily handle the whole dieting and eating right thing at work; I did it nearly effortlessly on vacation. At home, I fight with it like crazy.

Today I had Cheerios in the morning, about half what I normally eat. For lunch I had chicken. That's it, folks, just chicken. I came home, did my yoga and ate three small slices of pizza with fresh garlic. I did not, to my credit, eat anything else. And yet, despite all that, I'm still holding at 188.5. Not exactly encouraging. A plateau this early on seems very disheartening.

Last night at Tara and Derek's wedding I had a little alcohol, a couple of hors d'whatever (I hate spelling that word, believe it or not) - nothing fried, a few bites of the chicken entree (how is that the stuff served in the cocktail buffet are incredible but every wedding mainline meal is dust? How does that work?!), and a sampling of dessert - all of which was worked off with an inordinate amount of dancing! My blood sugar measured 124 when we got home. Tonight it was 132. Hmmmm... not good. Luis said it was fine, but he doesn't know as much about diabetes as I do. 132 compared to some patients who have had readings in the 300, 400 and 500 range is low. However, it is not the 120 I'd like it to be.

Well, I'll just keep on struggling until it bloody well works!

Too Much Blogging?

There is no such thing.

On the other hand, there is getting too relaxed with it, so I have undertaken the rather onerous task of going through it and sort of giving it a cleansing. It needed it and apparently there are enough readers (who'd've thought?) that I need to be... more circumspect. I'm OK with that and this is the right thing to do.

So I have weeded through what little I posted in 2005 and all of 2006 - no easy task. That is well over 300 postings! But I went through all that and got it looking nice and tidy. I have 2007 to look over and check them. It was satisfying to do this and I guess I can get it done fairly quickly. Not super-quickly, but fairly quickly.

I can have this all done by Wednesday night. If not by then, by Thursday. Not bad!

Sunday, 28 October 2007

List 5 Things...

...that you consider an accomplishment but might be considered lame by others:

(I found this on Mary's blog, Mary Says... Daily Blog, and I thought I would give this a shot, as I really like the things that make me think.)

1. Getting my EMT certification. I am terrible at testing and usually not as dedicated to studying as I can be. But I did this with fervor and did nothing but work, sit through all the lectures and practicals (even when sick - I did not miss ANY lectures at all!) all day Saturday and Sunday, work on the volumnious amounts of homework and practice with friends and ride my Wednesday shift every week. I made it through and passed every module test except one on the first shot (and all my scores were 88 and higher. However, the peds one I got a 67 the first time and a 77 the second. Easily my lowest score. The peds stuff is hard - all the numbers are different for stats. I took my state boards and scored a 77 and then on the National Registry test (which is no longer required... grumble, grumble) I scored a 79 - I have no idea how. Anyway, it was an excellent exprience and very helpful to have that certification.

2. Succeeding at my current job. I haven't always been successful and when I have, I haven't been happy. Where I am now, I am happy and I am successful. It is not easy, by any means, and I am by no means perfect at what I do. But I work hard and I bust my butt and this year I managed with great skills all the things - at least most of the things - that last year were a problem for me. I'm doing so much better than I did the year before. That is very, very important to me.

3. Being able to touch my toes. Yeah, that sounds really lame but trust me when I tell you it is not that simple. Because I am afflicted with Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy, I cannot lift anything over 25lbs. I just can't. I could work out with weights until the cows come home, and nothing will happen. Not a single thing. The reason for this is that with MD, the enzyme(s) that should be in muscles improving its memory and allowing me to strengthen my muscles (or at least keeping them at their current strength) is/are not in my muscles, doing their jobs, but are floating loose in my bloodstream, not knowing what to do. So my muscles slowly lose mass and there is not a workout in the world that will allow me to gain what I don't have. And a few years ago, I couldn't stretch, either and I couldn't touch my toes. Well. I started taking yoga and after about a year, not only can I touch my toes, but I can lift a little bit more than I could, I can better keep my balance and I can almost put my palms on the floor. My ability to stretch and keep fit that way has dramatically improved. I can do things I wasn't able to do five years ago.

4. Getting my drivers license. When I was 16 and a half, I had to sit through the drivers education classes that the high school had. They showed movies with accidents from drunk drivers and truckers who fell asleep and they were graphic. I am not kidding, they were very disgusting. When I saw that, I was violently ill and scared shitless. Look at that. They want me to learn how to operate something that can do that kind of damage and loss of life. I realised that this was a huge responsibility and one I did not want. So my 17th birthday came and went and so did my 18th and I was perfectly happy not to drive. My parents, however, were not perfectly happy to have to take me places. When I was 19 they made me take driving lessons with a school. When I was 19.5 I got my license. Now I not only drive my own vehicle but an ambulance, too!

5. Eating shrimp. It's not that simple, but more eating a lot of things. Everyone I know now thinks I'm a fussy eater and they are correct. What they don't know is that I was far, far worse as a kid than I am now. When I was a kid, myabe up until I was nine or ten, I did not eat anything aside from hot dogs. Yes, that's right. I liked cereals and fruits but no vegetables, not many meats. I could live with hamburger but did not really like it. I ate hot dogs everywhere and with no toppings. I did discover pizza around nine or ten years old. But now I eat a lot of salads, chciken, shrimp, some beef (but very, very infrequently), veal (also very infrequently), lamb, turkey, and other things. Pasta, too, but who needs more bready foods in their diet? I also eat rice. Saying I eat "chicken" doesn't mean much, but I eat a lot of different types of prepared chicken: Italian, Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, Morrocan, Turkish, etc. I like most foriegn foods over American cuisine, which runs more to unhealthy fried foods. I don't like fried foods, maple syrup, whipped cream, powdered sugar, etc - so there are some American things that I never developed taste for - which is good.

What I'm working on now is losing weight and cutting sugar way back. I have successfully managed to excise over 50% of my sugar intake. Some days I am down 50% of my normal sugar intake, some days 90% but mostly I keep 3/4 successfully out. Not bad at all! Hopefully I will lose the excess weight and be able to say that losing 45lbs was my success of late!
I guess the first two items may not qualify in that they are not really viewed by others as lame. The latter three, however, are likely high candidates for both criteria. I enjoyed filling this out.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Interview with Will Frank & Rebecca Nichols

Friday, October 12, 2007

Beauty & The Geek's Ultimate Revenge of the Geek
by Aimee Deeken


When competitors deemed Rebecca Nichols' canoodling with the season's male beauty, Sam, as rude and uncomfortable and perceived her teammate Will Frank an arrogant "King Geek," the peasants of the manor on Beauty and the Geek (Tuesdays, 8 pm, the CW) planned a revolt. To everyone's surprise, Nicole, the musicology geek, played them like a fiddle. When the pair spoke with TVGuide.com, they were eager to explain themselves and apologize profusely.

TVGuide.com: You were a strong team and won several challenges, but you two made a lot of enemies, too, from nominating other teams for elimination. Do you think that was ultimately what led to your downfall?
Will Frank: Absolutely. Choosing people to go to the elimination room was the part of the game that was so difficult.
Rebecca Nichols: You got enemies [from that] no matter what.

TVGuide.com: Do you regret nominating Jesse and Erin the week before?
Will: We chose an option from a whole list of options — all of which sucked, and surprise, surprise this sucked, too. I don’t think it was the wrong decision, because there was no right decision.

TVGuide.com: Erin seemed convinced that you, Will, only apologized to her after Jesse had won the last challenge.
Will: Honestly, that was the first chance I had. I'm sorry that I sent her there, sorry to have sent anyone there. I'm sorry I hurt her, absolutely.

TVGuide.com: Rebecca, at one point you said you felt like Jesse and Erin nominating you was not fair.
Rebecca: Well, I knew in my head that it was revenge for the previous week. But I would have done the same thing; it was part of the game. I have seen Erin since: We decided to go on the [local] news together. When I saw her, the first thing I said was there were no hard feelings.

TVGuide.com: Will, did you realize that a lot of people in the house thought you were being arrogant?
Will: I was completely oblivious as to how people were seeing me. Oh, god, I was mortified at the way I looked. I'm sorry I did things that made me look arrogant. That certainly wasn't the intent. I didn't want to lord anything over anybody. But at the same time, I look at what I did — the actual actions, not the interpretation — and at least I stayed true to myself.

TVGuide.com: Rebecca, do you regret your relationship with Sam?
Rebecca: No, I couldn't help what I was feeling. Just because I liked someone who was another beauty, that doesn't mean I couldn't change and become a smarter person.
Will: And if I found out that she was upset at herself for letting herself have feelings, I tried to slap some sense into her.

TVGuide.com: So it didn't bother you?
Will: Far from it. Sam struck me as a genuinely good guy. When Rebecca said, "Oh, I have to stop this," I'm the one who said, "Look, touch passion when it comes around your way; you don't know if it's coming back."

TVGuide.com: So, Will, what did you think of Sam — did you have much interaction?
Will: Well, not as much interaction as Rebecca! [Laughs] I found him to be not at all the cold jock I expected, so I was quite surprised and pleased.

TVGuide.com: How did you feel toward Sam when he nominated another strong team, Jen and William, to compete against you for elimination?
Rebecca: When we [lost and] went home, I had a lot of anger toward Sam at first, [thinking] that he'd stayed close [to] trick me into thinking I wouldn't eliminate him but he'd eliminate me. I started thinking maybe I did make the wrong decision [to pursue that relationship].

TVGuide.com: When you watched the episode on Tuesday, was that the first time you realized that Nicole actually instigated everything?!
Rebecca: Oh, yeah, I had no idea. Smart, but also very evil.
Will: That was a complete shock! She played Sam and Rebecca and me like a virtuoso. I was disappointed, but at the same time I was really impressed.

TVGuide.com: But then, no hard feelings toward Sam, right, Rebecca?
Rebecca: No, not as of yet. [Laughs] I'm really curious to see what happens on the show... and a little scared. I hope he didn't do the same thing to any of the other girls as he did to me.

TVGuide.com: You don't feel used, do you?
Rebecca: No, I don't.... You just never know.

TVGuide.com: Did you talk to Nicole before leaving the house about the awkward night that she had to sleep in another room?
Rebecca: I apologized to her, and she accepted it and seemed OK. Little did I know she was actually planning revenge and wanted me out. We may have come across as being arrogant, bad people, but we're not mean, we're not out to get anybody. If anyone else was in the same situation as us, they probably would have been looked down on as well.
I met Mr. Will Frank and the honest guy you read about here is the same man I met. I was impressed right down to my toes. And I would happily talk to him again. He had a lot of interesting insight to being on Beauty & The Geek. It was very enlightening. I don't think he told me anything inapppriate, anything that isn't public knowledge. He had mentioned the make-over episode, which I hadn't seen, but it had already aired the previous Tuesday and I just hadn't the time to see it yet. We had a charming conversation and I met someone who is really himself, on and off the air. A nice experience, undoubtedly!

Friday, 26 October 2007

A.W.A.D. - "There Is a Word For It"

A reader wrote:

"Dear Anu,

Some time ago I wrote to ask if there was a word in any language for a parent who has lost a child. My husband and I lost our son in the insane war in Iraq. You sent me a kind reply saying no. I am submitting this Pennsylvania-Dutch word, zeitlang, I found in the paper: http://ap.lancasteronline.com/4/pa_exchange_amish_shooting

I shared it with some other Gold Star families who liked the word and description. Yesterday was Gold Star Mothers Day*. I hate it. Everyone in the family is suffering, not just the mother. I like the sound of this Pennsylvania-Dutch word, perhaps because of my German heritage. So my family, my brothers and sisters in sorrow and I remain forever zeitlangers.

Sincerely,

Diane Davis Santoriello
Proud mother of 1st Lt. Neil A. Santoriello KIA 9-13-04 (dianesantoriello@hotmail.com)"

The English language has the largest vocabulary of any language but there are moments when all those hundreds of thousands of words in a dictionary might as well be random scribblings with little meaning. We can't find asingle word to describe what tugs at our hearts.

Pennsylvania Dutch is a dialect of German spoken by 17/18th century migrants from south Germany and Switzerland who had settled in Pennsylvania. The word Dutch here is a variant spelling of Deutsch (German language). Zeitlang in German means "while" (from Zeit: time + lang: long). The sense mentioned in the newspaper article is not found in German, but that doesn't mean onecan't extend it. After all, that's one of the ways a language grows. And what good is a language if it can't give voice to our deepest sorrows and joys?

This week we'll see a few words that do exist, words that make us say, "I didn't know there was a word for it."

* Last Sunday in September: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold_Star_Mothers_Club

famulus
(FAM-yuh-luhs) noun
An assistant, especially to a magician or a scholar.

[From Latin famulus (servant).]

caruncle
(KAR-ung-kuhl) noun
A fleshy growth, such as a rooster's comb.

[From Latin caruncula (small piece of flesh), diminutive of caro (flesh). Ultimately from the Indo-European root sker- (to cut) that's also the source of skirt, curt, screw, shard, shears, carnage, carnivorous, carnation, sharp, and scrape.]

lexiphanes
(lex-SIF-uh-neez) noun
One who uses words pretentiously.

[From Greek lexiphanes (phrase monger), from lexis (word or phrase) + -phaneia (to show).]

dewclaw
(DOO-klaw, DYOO-) noun
A small claw not reaching the ground, on the foot of some animals.

[Origin uncertain, perhaps from the fact that other claws touch the ground, but a dewclaw only brushes the dew on the grass. A related term is dewlap, a loose fold of skin hanging under the neck of an animal such as a cow.]

nosism
(NO-siz-em) noun
The use of 'we' in referring to oneself.

[From Latin nos (we).]

Thursday, 25 October 2007

A Study in Contrasts

During my trip to Maryland I stayed with two cousins: Renee Camus, my maternal cousin and Dawn Fredericks, my paternal [step]cousin. You need to understand that for me, the Kellogg family is not merely my stepfamily, they are my family just as much as any blood family. So it is just to spare you, dear reader, confusion while reading this, that I ever refer to Ray or any Kellogg (or Frederick or any other name) as "step" anything.



For the first three days I was with Renee and her husband Alex Bradley in Adelphi, Maryland. Renee was a very good friend to me when we were kids and put up with a lot more than anyone else probably would. And in the end the test of time won out. She's still my beloved cousin and friend, and even though I still kind of drove her nuts a little, the friendship and closeness and childhood memories are there. And like any good 12-stepper (I'm not, but the analogy is good), I made my apologies for the bad behaviour and bad things that I did when we were kids.

Renee is two and a half years my junior. She is taller - about 5'8" - and more slender than I. She has a funny look, though, from slouching, something she's done all our childhood. She's still a great dancer, though, and at any given moment with a standing position she'll began to dance. Her musical, dance and movie/telly acumen is incredible. She's more apt to watch the telly than I am, which is funny (I thought I watched a lot and Luis was outrageous, but it is more prevalent than I realised to watch a lot of television. Goodness knows, the telly folks make it appealing to a huge audience so there really is something for everyone.

Renee still does a lot of "baby talk" but oddly enough, she feels as I do: this is not good for babies. I, however, have a much lower tolerance for any baby talk than most, and she liked to talk to her cats and Alex that way. He doesn't seem to mind and the cats aren't learning to speak so why it should grate so on me is just my hang-up. It is meant to be cute and endearing. But I always thought that she'd grow out of it. However, she's happy and that is all the matters. She doesn't need to put up with my dislike of it, and, to her credit, she told me more than once in her own way to bugger off about it. I applaud that. Always stand up for yourself.

When we were kids she did not stand up for herself very much and of course me being me, I ran all over her with cleats on. That is not nice, but there it is. She was a much more passive person and I am an aggressive person, so the dynamics of the relationship were very different. I'm happy that she no longer takes my shit; she won't take other people's shit, either, and that is never a bad thing.

One observation that really stood out to me each and everyday was how much Renee and Alex clearly love each other. I mean, really, clearly, are in love. They've been together a pretty long time and married in 2004 (it was a beautiful glorious wedding). But just watching how they were when we went out and did the Faire and hanging with their friends, John, Tom, Gina and Izolda, I was delighted! I'm so happy that they are so happy. They have demanding jobs and work hard but they relax and play hard too and they are so very happy with each other.

I can't ask for more than that for my wonderful cousin.

Alex is a delight. He has a great sense of humour and likes a lot of the same things I do; jigsaw puzzles, games (they both love games - I should find out where they get them), some of the same shows I like. He is very intelligent but to be frank about it, none of us would be with anyone not fully up to par intelligence wise! I may not always like my family but we are intelligent - a big plus! Alex is more than just qualified. He's an excellent addition to the family. God knows he's a saint to put up with us! And he even put up with me as a passenger and that is asking a lot. I'm a horrendous passenger.

On Monday night, I travelled 35 miles to Crofton, Maryland to visit with Dawn Fredericks, Phyllis' daughter. She is 20 days older than me. She is tall also, but looks tall; she is very athletic and holds herself up very straight and has a long muscular yet lean figure. (She doesn't think so and I know what she means, but she is too hard on herself about it - she looks very fit!) She has very long, straight, thick brown hair and those light eyes that are a hallmark of the Kellogg gene pool. When she laughs, I laugh, too - the reknowned Kellogg laugh is in her as well her mother and Ray. As far I can recall, David (my younger cousin by two years, I think), has that same laugh. It is delightful and infectious.

Dawn is an athletic trainer, but in her past laugh did graphics art design. Ironically, we all have - Alex does it currently, I did it in the mid-90s for Miller Harness and also a little for Meta4 Digital Design, and Dawn did it while living in southern California. Strange, isn't it? Now she is about to embark on being a regional Aquatics Manager for Bally's in Maryland. She went through some difficulties earlier this month and we spent a lot of time just talking. I always thought that when we were kids we could have been good friends but distance and the difficulty of my childhood got in the way. I made my apologies for that, too.

I think that this was the beginning of much closer relationship than ever before and I am very much looking forward to it. I'm hoping she will be staying over one night just after Thanksgiving.

Very opposite people, but both my family and both my friends.

Googling & Finding Myself

An e-mail blast from the past came to my Inbox, so I Googled myself to see what I showed up as under that system. Amazingly, on the second option, there I was - under Weather.com! So here it is:

May 25, 2006

"HERE IT COMES!
Dr. Steve Lyons, Tropical Weather Expert

Here comes hurricane season 2006. So what should we expect for the Atlantic basin? Or more likely your question may be, "what do we expect for the U.S.," or maybe, "will my town/city get hit by a hurricane this year?" Well those are popular questions these days, but unfortunately none are easy to answer!

Let me start with the first and easiest question, namely overall Atlantic basin activity. Some seasonal forecasters have been doing this for many years and the "father" of seasonal tropical cyclone forecasting is Dr. Bill Gray. The Weather Channel usually reports on his forecasts as he updates them into the peak of Atlantic hurricane season. His skill in forecasting above or below activity has been well beyond guessing or random chance. The latest forecast by Dr. Gray and his colleague Phil Klotzbach, which was issued in April (an update is coming next week), was for 17 named storms, including 9 hurricanes and 5 major (Category 3+) hurricanes.

NOAA's outlook, which came out a few days ago, is similar, for 13 to 16 storms, with 8 to 10 becoming hurricanes, of which 4 to 6 could become major hurricanes.

Much of this might be gleaned from inspection of averages for the past 11 Atlantic hurricane seasons starting in 1995 that began an active tropical cyclone era. As an example, averages for the past eleven years are: 15 named storms, 8 1/2 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes. This compares to the long-term average of 10 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes. Hence we have "averaged" about 150% of the long term average the past 11 years. With no strong El Nino in sight (strong El Ninos are typically associated with suppressed hurricane activity in the Atlantic) one might decide a good starting point for this season would therefore be 15, 9 and 4.

With a large portion of the tropical Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico warmer than average (though not quite as warm as a portion of it was at this time last year), that might spur a seasonal forecaster to tweak their numbers a little. But no model or person will forecast 28 storms (27 tropical, one subtropical) as we had last year; extremes tend to be outliers, and are routinely out of the range of statistical forecast techniques. As an example Dr. Gray's forecast at this time last year was for 15 named storms. Regardless, though, it appears we are in for another busy hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin.

But that doesn't necessarily equate to an active U.S. landfall season. For example let's compare two of the recent active years, namely 2004 and 2001. There were 15 storms in 2001, the same (counting one subtropical storm) in 2004, with 9 hurricanes in each year. However there were no U.S. hurricanes and no U.S. major hurricane landfalls in 2001, but there were 5 U.S. hurricane landfalls (plus a direct hit by Alex) and 3 U.S. major hurricane landfalls in 2004!

The bottom line, it is not how many we get in the Atlantic Basin that should be of interest to you, rather how many that make landfall, where they hit and how strong they are when they make landfall. One other note: in the first 9 of the last 11 active years the U.S. was more fortunate than average with hurricane and major hurricane strikes. That changed in 2004 and 2005.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?
I see you -- there you sit on the coast nervously waiting for hurricane season and "hoping" you won't get hit. But it only takes one, so do not fret over these seasonal forecasts. Instead do something about it.

If I were the great fortune teller of hurricanes and was never wrong, and I told you your city would be hit by a Category 3 hurricane on August 1, what would/could you do? Well, you could try to sell your home and move away, but buyers would have heard about the great fortune teller's forecast too, so good luck selling!

You would make sure you were safely out of town on August 1st. But that still leaves your home.
So if you were smart you would immediately beef up your home's ability to withstand high winds. That would include window shutters/coverings or hurricane windows; reinforcing the garage door; adding very strong roof/wall/floor tie-downs; trimming the trees near your roof; strengthening walls that might not hold up in that Category 3; and making sure roof shingles/tiles are all well intact. If you built on the beach you might even consider raising your home on hurricane-proof piles so it sits well above surge and wave threats. You would probably make copies all your irreplaceable items and put those copies in waterproof containers and send them to Aunt Martha's house in Iowa for safe keeping in case you lose the originals in that hurricane.

That is about all you could do: MITIGATE against the onslaught of the impending hurricane!
Unfortunately, I do not have a crystal ball, nor does anyone else! So what are you waiting for? If you live on or near a hurricane-prone coastline, you should know you have the potential to be struck by one in ANY year. Forget worrying about these seasonal forecasts, and get busy preparing for the worst. Fortunately most years will be false alarms, and you will be just fine in your particular location. But you will be ready when your fortune runs out!

The Weather Channel says BE PREPARED EQUALLY WELL AT THE START OF EVERY HURRICANE SEASON!"

My response to his Blog Posting:
"Thank you for your forecast of thia year's upcoming hurricane season. It will be interesting to see what the actual outcome will be. As a resident of northern New Jersey and an EMT, I am curious to know if there are any possible models that show a hurricane making it as far north as we are... It is not as rare as people tend to think, having seen the devastation of both Gloria (c. 1980) and Floyd in September 1999. What can we as volunteer EMTs do to be prepared for just such an eventuality? Any light that you might shed on this will certainly be appreciated!" Aislínge"

Posted by Aislinge Kellogg June 6, 2006

I might point out that this article really did not impart any truly useful information, nor the pompous author actually answer my query. Clearly not interested in anything his posting generated. Curious...

I did find that amusing.

The top thing that came up was an article in today's New York Times with a quote from 29-year-old Aislinge Kellogg. I'm the 39-year-old Aislínge Kellogg (my name has the diacritical over the second "i") so it is clearly not me.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Day 3 of October Vacation

The day began at 0700, with me in the shower and dressed and ready (even fed) by 0835. Renee was not so quick (she is more of a night person, not an early morning person). We managed to leave by 0900, but had to go back to get the ticket for me that was in her bag all along. But they needed a couple of other things, so it was not a trip in vain. We were back on the road quite quickly, chatting the whole way.

The weather was gorgeous, just lovely. It was beautifully clear, sunny, a nice breeze, just so gorgeous. We parted at the gate, and I made my way to the front and Renee and Alex went into the faire to be prepared at the Maypole for the dances that she would be calling out. The actors were of good character and cheer and did their parts well. The royal procession was gorgeous and had many beautiful horses in it. The royalty looked like royalty. The cast at the NYRF still has dresses from when I was first working there. These people looked much more like the real thing. I loved it.

They started off with a huge *BOOM* as a cannon went off just outside of the walled grounds. The area inside was nothing like the huge open farmland-type area outside of the walled area, but inside was a lovely woodsy area and on a graded grounds - gorgeous. The structures there are much more amazing than ours and much nicer. The areas wend about the large scale grounds and they have many shows and musical performances going on all about the grounds. It was incredible.

Alex had on this enormous hat and when he took it off his hair was up and out all over the place. Alex has a well-structured face and is good looking, and very expressive, like most artists - even I - who hasn't drawn a thing in YEARS - I still have the typical very easily read artist's face. There is no mistaking what I mean. Anyway, when he took off the hat, with the funny spikey hair, he'd make a face - very funny!

I really am delighted for Renee and I love Alex very much. He is wonderful - wonderfully intelligent and wonderfully sweet and wonderful to my beloved cousin, Renee. They very obviously love each other and were a lot of fun to watch. And it made me wistful. I wish Luis was as emoting as Alex and Renee. I know Luis loves me but there is something so endearing about watching Alex and Renee dancing together in the woods. It was beautiful. Renee did have some good guys in her life but no one like her husband. I will never worry about them as a couple or as individuals.
Almost immediately I found Catskill Mountain Moccassins and ordered my fourth and final pair of "fairy boots", as Greg likes to call them. This is the all out pair, the best ones yet. They are the nine button high ones, in dark brown bull hide, with green and white trim along the edge with green oak leaves. They'll have brown tabs and green and brown entwined laces. The tops will be done with natural edge flaps with an oak leaf applique on the back. The buttons will be deer antler, natural edge. They will be incredible. They will also have the new hiking boot sole. I can't wait. I put about a quarter of the full amount down and will pay out the rest slowly. I hope to have them half paid off by late December or early January to begin the production process and the rest paid off by June or July to get them before the 2008 faire. I doubt I will be working it but I will undoubtedly go up there to visit if nothing else.

Alex and Renee waited for me to get the boot fitting and then we were off and wandering around. She had a good couple of hours to kill before needing to return to the Maypole for more dancing call-outs. She's very good at dancing. I'm a dancing enthusiast but not talented. She's both. Very different.

That day was Opposite Day, or something like that (I have forgotten what it was really called). There were men in wench drag, and this specimen in vinyl and a gas mask... he was a very tall and thin kid (he really was [compared to me] a kid). He was shaking when we had our picture taken together. I don't know why. It wasn't cold and he'd not have felt it anyway...

I went to meet Izolde and have a tarot reading, which was very good and very satisfying. It was really positive, with many interesting insights and revelations. I enjoyed the interaction with Izolde. She is a really unique individual. There is something very open and friendly about her but also intriguing. I don't know how else to describe her. I like her a lot.

Then we went to hang out in the woodsy area where the Aerial Angels hang out (they weren't there at the time, though). We hung out, chatting, until Izolde returned to doing readings. Renee, Alex and I walked around looking at the various vendors and goods, and also got lunch and listened to the Rogues playing bagpipes and bohrans and pipes. The music was great and I bought three of their CDs and burned the songs from Renee's collection onto my laptop. I love Scottish music. I went on to listen to Cercamon as well and bought three of their CDs as well. Renee burned mine and I also burned her O'Danny girls one and got copies of the lyrics - really ribald stuff! I can't wait to listen to it.

I met so many amazing people, the members of the Rogues, where I became stupid and gushy as I do with adorable men who play wonderful instruments and treat me not only to great music but to meeting them as well. I loved meeting E.J. (to the left), and the Rogues' drummer Jon. I also met all of Cercamon and had them sign one of my CDs and also get a photo with me and them. (And at the end off the public grounds they turned out to not have any accents (they were French out there) - very funny to hear them sound just like me or my cousin. But I love meeting musicians, even though I get gushy and say stupid things! And E.J. was very huggy and sweet - and I wished I'd apologised. I said something about other people not liking bagpipes and realised after the comment came out that I had put my foot in my mouth. I hate when I do that. So not me...
The most amazing thing happened. We were talking with the musicians that Renee performs with in the dances, and there was a man hanging out by a tree with dark, reflective sunglasses on and a strange tee shirt. I kept looking at him and with the sunglasses on, I wasn't sure if he was looking at me or not. I had the nagging feeling that I knew him. Finally I couldn't take it any more and approached him. I told him that I could help but think I knew him from somewhere and maybe it was work or at the NYRF or as an EMT... we ran through the whole gamut. Finally he said, "Well, maybe... do you watch any television?"
Sure. Of course I do. I said I do watch some telly, why? He asked if I watched any reality television. Welll... not so much but one or two things... He asked me if I ever saw "Beauty and the Geek"? Oh, MY GODS...
It's Will! Will (I don't remember his last name) was on this season's "Beauty and the Geek" and was "voted off the island", as I called it, just the week before my vacation. Or maybe two weeks prior. Anyway, I really, really liked him as a person on the show and went I met the real deal, the very warm and fuzzy and delightfully geeky Will in person, he was the exact likable guy I'd found on the show. He was perfectly wonderful, kissed my hand several times, which I found just absolute charming and said I was the first person on the street (so to speak) to recognise him from the show! How funny is that? We talked for a good twenty or twenty-five minutes. I really loved meeting him and wished I'd given him my e-mail address to keep in touch. Well, here I am with him... Maybe he will see this, read it and e-mail me!

We stayed there until 1630 and finally left around 1700. Good thing - it took Izolde hours to get out of there when she left at 1900. We ate at a restaurant called the Round Robin or something like that... no, Red Robin, maybe. Anyway, it was good. We stayed until Izolde called to say she'd be really late and finally left around 2030. We headed home and watched the telly until Izolde showed up with dinner around 2200. She was knackered, we all were. Sitting in that traffic had to have been the most unbelievably frustrating thing. She headed home close to midnight and I went right to bed.

It was a long but wonderful day!

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Day 2 of October Vacation

OK, it is now 2025 and we are sitting in front of their giant telly watching Surf's Up, a delightful movie about a young surfing penguin. I saw it in the theater and loved it and it's only just come out on DVD. I had to have it. So, naturally I have it!

We all had a leisurely day. I woke up initially at 0444, petted the cat for a bit, then fell back to sleep. I slept right through until 0900, exactly. I woke up drenched in sweat. I have no idea why. I hadn't been having a nightmare and the cat was no longer sleeping on my chest. I don't know why I was so overheated. But I felt okay otherwise, and got up to check on my e-mail and post about yesterday. Around 1045 I heard the first stirrings of life and then got in the shower around 1100. I had a nice shower then came upstairs and we decided to go to IHOP for breakfast.

We went out onto the roads, which are truly adventurous around here. We are a lot closer to Washington, DC than I thought. The traffic here is incredible. I'm so accustomed to going places where there is hardly any traffic and the natives think that three cars at a red light is a traffic jam and I'm suddenly in place where the commute home is far more frustrating than anything I put up with. We have bad messes only when there is a serious accident or extremely adverse weather conditions but here, on a Saturday, there is still massive amounts of traffic. More than I see in months.

We ended up going to the Silver something, a diner. The food was good. It wasn't quite like the Pancake House but the French toast was made of Challah bread, which is delicious. It was loaded with normal, unsyrupy or sugared strawberries. I loved it. The tea was good, too. We went to the mall, which is not quite that local, about a half-hour from where we were. It is massive, enormous mall, though, with a googleplex theater, several restaurants, and various other buildings. We went to Best Buy, the puzzle store, and several others. I stayed out of all the candy stores (there were three, if you can imagine), which was no easy feat. I love sugar, it's so hard to avoid it and there were three stores loaded with my favourite thing! And I stayed OUT of them.

But the puzzle store was incredible. I loved it. And I bought a puzzle for myself. A 9,000 piece jigsaw puzzle! It is huge - 193cm x 139cm. It's my father's height and over 4' wide. It is gorgeous. And it will take me a lifetime to put it together. Ray is going build me a tray sort of thing for me to make it in, in two pieces that can be put together and act as a frame. The plan I have is to take down the track lighting that is along that wall and we never use it. That wall needs to be painted anyway. The whole room does. It is a light blue colour and a want it to be a light happy yellow. Like a kitchen should be and isn't. That wall is big - really big - and can hold that monstrous puzzle up. I will tell you now: once I put it together I am NOT taking it apart!

The biggest puzzle I have ever put together is 3,000 pieces and that was ambitious enough. It takes me several days to put it together, which meant I was working on it to the exclusion of all else. That isn't a requirement, but it is something I tend to do: I hyper-focus on it and can't stop. It is a little scary, the kind of intensity with which I put together puzzles. There is just something about jigsaw puzzles that I find so addictive.

So $100 later I had my monster puzzle. It is by no means the largest. They have a 24,000 - yes, that is correct - piece puzzle with four different really sharp looking cartography pieces (old maps) and it is absolutely ENORMOUS - far beyond anything I can manage. And where the hell would I put it? No thanks. I did not even look at it or the cost. My mondo puzzle at 9,210 pieces is more than enough.

They did have it with cartography but I have a 2,500 and 3,000 piece puzzle in that look. The one I got is astrology, but it is a really sharp picture. I'll post it so you can see. It is gorgeous. Black background with symbols in a wheel, and stars and other things... I'm not looking at it right now. Anyway, it is amazing.

So we hung out there and I got a couple of DVDs and then we went to a Mexican place and had dinner. After that we went home and watched Surf's Up - I loved that movie in the theater and I still love it. We had a good time hanging out. As it was wrapping up, some of Renee and Alex's friends came over: John and Gina, Tom and... and... that was it. Right. They brought over a game called Poison, and we had a lot of fun playing it.

Their friends are really fun and extremely pleasant. They all love games and music. Good people!

They stayed up a little longer, but I crashed right at midnight. The cat stayed with me again, which was really nice. He loves Renee the most but gave up that to keep me company for the three nights I was there. How sweet is that? I hope my cats would do the same for a guest here!

Day 1 of October Vacation

Well, my vacation has gotten off to a good start!

The trip down was both great and bad. I picked the worst weather (short of snow) to come down in - I left work at 1107, and under lowering grey skies headed down the Garden State Parkway. Around mile marker 67 it began to pour - I'm not exaggerating, it was horrifying. After that 12 mile squall, I ran through four more: one in Delaware, three in Maryland. Delaware is a "blink and you've missed it state". I loved going over the Delaware bridge (and the toll - what abject greed -was $4!) but other than the bridge, there was nothing much to say about that state.
When it wasn't pouring and the visibility was good, it was a fine trip. The weather certainly was odd. I would be driving through a squall with thick heavy ominously dark clouds and suddenly the clouds got much lighter in colour only and it would still be raining and then the steam coming off the roads combined with suddenly bright light and mixed rain and steam made visibility treacherous. Maryland clearly does not require its citizenry to put on their headlights when driving, so often I had trouble seeing the car in front of me. It was not an enjoyable ride, nor the leisurely trip I'd wanted to make.

I certainly made good time - I got here at 1445.

My cousin has this monstrous house with three levels. I need to take pictures of it. It has a ballroom instead of a garage, which was why they wanted it. The colours are amazing. Everything has a very European feel to it, with dark colours and such. It really is very nice. It does need a little TLC, though. They don't take good care of it. And it is in a strange area. The other streets are remeniscent of Newark and then suddenly it is a very expensive area... The traffic in this area is far worse than anything we put up with in Joisey, and we put up with a lot. I would not live this close to Washington, DC. I maybe as close as 15 minutes away. I also would not live in this general area. It looks very crappy and run down except for this and the street before.

I love Renee and Alex, however, they are both into watching a lot of stuff on the telly - far more than I do. They also love to watch movies and have an absolutely staggering collection of DVDs. I have maybe 40 DVDs. They have... I don't know... two or three hundred DVDs! [10/22/07 - Turns out the true number is closer over 500. We estimated them today to be approximately 480, not counting all the telly serious/seasons and that wasily brings the number to 500 if not well over.] None-the-less, it is nice to see them. Renee and I had a good time catching up and I like Alex, although we don't see each other enough to really be completely at ease with each other. He's very intelligent and witty and sees the satirical humour in things much as I do. I find him very likeable. Of course in our family, we do not gravitate to less than intelligent people. We are all of a piece that way.

They think they might like to have kids. I don't see it happening, to be honest. I hope not. I don't think Renee would be happy having to raise kids. That is just a guess, but I suspect I'm right.

Yesterday I had to stop in a rest stop to get something to eat. I got a box of Honey teddy grahams, sort of graham crackers for kids. They had the highest amount of fiber, the lowest sugar and I ate them very slowly, so that I'd not eat myself silly. It worked out well. I had about one serving. I stopped at Applebees when I got here and was really pissed off with the service, so much so that I left a dollar tip. The server should be greatful I did not talk to the manager. There I had a griled chicken salad and lemonade. We did have pizza last night, but I had two very small slices.

That was it! Not bad!

I am happy that my cousin Renee has two cats, and they both spent last night with me! In fact at one point Tiger was on my chest! That is like being home. I really enjoy her cats, although she might be disappointed that they did not sleep with her and Alex. I loved it, though. The hardest part of traveling is being away from Ariel and Chelsea!

We did not go to bed until close to 2300, which was hard. I am unaccustomed to staying up after travelling, which is not always easy for me. We did have a good time, though. The bed was fine, and I did get a good night's sleep.

Friday, 19 October 2007

A.W.A.D. - Words for Bosses, Leaders & Officials

How would you describe someone who has risen up and become a manager? Embossed!

The word boss has its origins in Dutch (from baas: master, foreman), but there are several homonyms of the word. Is your boss a timid manager, or a bungler, or ... ? Depending on how your boss runs the show, you apply one of these alternative meanings:

1. boss : a calf or a cow. That's where Bossy, a familiar name for a cow, comes from. (From English dialect borse/boss/buss: a six-months-old calf)

2. boss: a protuberance or swelling on the body of an animal or plant. This is where the word emboss comes from. (From Old French boce)

3. boss-eyed, adjective: cross-eyed or squint-eyed. (origin uncertain)

4. boss, verb: to bungle. (origin uncertain)

Why refer to your supervisor just as a plain old boss? On National Boss Day (October 16), why not use a more colorful word from this week's selection?

archon
(AHR-kon) noun
A high official or ruler.

[From Latin archon, from Greek arkhon (magistrate), from arkhein (to befirst, to rule). An archon was one of the nine principal magistrates in ancient Athens.]

pasha
(PA-shuh, PASH-uh, puh-SHAH) noun
A person of high rank or importance.

[From Turkish pasa, from Persian padshah, from pati (master) + shah (king). Pasha was used as a title of high-ranking officials in the Ottoman Empire.]

fugleman
(FYOO-guhl-muhn) noun
One who leads a group, company, or party.

[From German Flügelmann (flank man), from Flügel (wing) + Mann (man). A fugleman was once a soldier placed usually on a flank during drills to serve as a guide for his company.]

vizier
(vi-ZEER, VIZ-yuhr) noun
A high official.

[From Turkish vezir, from Arabic wazir (minister).]

hierarch
(HY-uh-rark) noun
A high-ranking person.

[From Latin hierarcha, from Greek hierarkhes (high priest), from hieros (sacred) + arkhes (ruling), from arkhein (to be first, to rule).]

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Scottish Humour

The Englishman's wife steps up to the tee and, as she bends over to place her ball, a gust of wind blows her skirt up and reveals her lack of underwear.

"Good God, woman! Why aren't you wearing any knickers?" her husband demanded.

"Well, you don't give me enough housekeeping money to afford any." The Englishman immediately reaches into his pocket and says, "For the sake of decency, here's £50. Go and buy yourself some underwear."

Next, the Irishman's wife bends over to set her ball on the tee. Her skirt also blows up to show that she, too, is wearing no undies.

"Blessed Virgin Mary, woman! You've no knickers. Why not?"

She replies, "I can't afford any on the money you give me."

He reaches into his pocket and says, "For the sake of decency, here's £30. Go and buy yourself some underwear!"

Lastly, the Scotsman's wife bends over. The wind also takes her skirt over her head to reveal that she, too, is naked under it. "Sweet mudder of Jaysus, Aggie! Where the frig are yer drawers?"

She too explains, "You dinna give me enough money ta be able ta affarrd any."
The Scotsman reaches into his pocket and says, "Well, fer the love o'decency, here's a comb..... Tidy yerself up a wee bit."

More Humour - Unzipped

In a crowded city at a crowded bus stop a beautiful young woman was waiting for the bus.

Dressed up for work, she was wearing a very tight mini skirt. As the bus rolled up and it became her turn to get on the bus she became aware that her skirt was too tight to allow her leg to come up to the height of the bus' first step. So slightly embarrassed and with a quick smile to the bus driver she reached behind her and unzipped her skirt a little thinking that this would give her enough slack to raise her leg.

Again she tried to make the step onto the bus to discover she still could not make the step. So, a little more embarrassed she once again reached behind her and unzipped her skirt a little more. And for a second time she attempted the step and once again, much to her disgust she could not raise her leg because of the tight skirt.

So with a coy little smile to the driver she again unzipped the offending skirt to give a little more slack and again was unable to make the step.

About this time the big Texan that was behind her in the line picked her up easily from the waist and placed her lightly on the step of the bus. Well, she went ballistic and turned on the would-be hero, screeching at him "How dare you touch my body!! I don't even know who you are!!"

At this the Texan drawled, "Well ma'am, normally I would agree with you but after you unzipped my fly three times, I kinda figured we was friends."

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Not Just Stupid Contestants...

Apparently the contestants of "Beauty & the Geek" are not the only stupid people. The guys are mostly not stupid, except for where they get sucked into the created drama. The women are abysmally stupid and the one token good-looking, non-geeky guy is right in that category. So, it turns out, is the one not-stunning, very intelligent woman. She completely exposed a person who only cares about herself.

However, the portions where the contestants are whispering to each other quietly exposed some idoit - probably several - on the show in the background. Two of them were whispering about Will and his partner winning and how they come across as the "cross they have to bare."

Bare. As in naked. Not "bear" as in carry!

WHAT?!

OK, so someone didn't know (a writer? I certainly hope not) or made a mistake typing up the whispered comments (which were clearly audible, anyway). I ask you, how did someone miss that in proofreading this?! Helllllloooooo! That was just unbelievable. I could not believe that. And no one caught this?

It's staggering to me that these women are so dishearteningly stupid. Not ignorant; stupid. There is a huge difference. One contestant, when faced with the prospect of building and launching a rocket said that she didn't know anything about rockets or astrology, really. Yikes...

I know I am not attractive by any means... my teeth are terrible, I'm overwieght and have a Jay Leno chin, and I'm just not a pretty woman. But as much as I would love to wake up one morning to look like Michelle Pfeiffer, I'd really not be willing to give up my brain. I love having a brain.

NOAA Reports U.S. Likely to Have Above-Average Winter Temperatures

NOAA forecasters are calling for above-average temperatures over most of the country and a continuation of drier-than-average conditions across already drought-stricken parts of the Southwest and Southeast in its winter outlook for the United States, announced at the 2007-2008 Winter Fuels Outlook Conference in Washington, D.C., today.
“La Niña is here, with a weak-to-moderate event likely to persist through the winter,” said Michael Halpert, head of forecast operations and acting deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “The big concern this winter may be the persistence of drought across large parts of the already parched South. And while December through February is likely to be another milder-than-average winter for much of the country, people should still expect some bouts of winter weather.”

For the 2007-2008 U.S. winter, from December through February, NOAA seasonal forecasters predict:

In the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic,temperatures are expected to be above average in response to the long-term warming trend. Snowfall for the region will depend on other climate factors, which are difficult to anticipate more than one-to-two weeks in advance.

The drought-plagued Southeast is likely to remain drier-than-average due to La Niña, while temperatures are expected to be above average. In the Great Lakes and Tennessee Valley, temperatures and precipitation should be above average.

The south-central Plains should see drier-than-average conditions and warmer-than-average temperatures. Above-average temperatures are also expected in the central Plains. The northern Plains has equal chances of above-, near-, or below-average temperature and precipitation.

In the Northwest, there are equal chances for above-, near-, or below-average temperatures. Precipitation should be above average in much of the region due to La Niña.

Drought conditions are expected to persist in the Southwest due to La Niña, and temperatures are likely to be above average.

Northern Alaska is expect to be milder–than-average, while the rest of Alaska has equal chances of above-, near-, or below-average temperatures and precipitation. In Hawaii, temperatures and precipitation are expected to be above average.

This winter is predicted to be warmer than the 30-year norm. For the country as a whole, NOAA's heating degree day forecast for December through February projects a 2.8 percent warmer winter than the 30-year normal, but a 1.3 percent cooler winter than last year.

The U.S. winter outlook is produced by a team of scientists at the Climate Prediction Center in association with NOAA-funded partners. Scientists base this forecast on long-term climate trends and a variety of forecast tools from statistical techniques to extremely complex dynamical ocean-atmosphere coupled models and composites. The outlook will be updated on Oct. 18 and again on Nov. 15 at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 70 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Kiss Me

Kiss me out of the bearded barley
Nightly, beside the green, green grass
Swing, swing, swing the spinning step
You wear those shoes and I will wear that dress.


Oh, kiss me beneath the milky twilight
Lead me out on the moonlit floor
Lift your open hand
Strike up the band and make the fireflies dance
Silver moon's sparkling
So kiss me


Kiss me down by the broken tree house
Swing me upon its hanging tire
Bring, bring, bring your flowered hat
We'll take the trail marked on your father's map


Kiss me beneath the milky twilight
Lead me out on the moonlit floor
Lift your open hand
Strike up the band and make the fireflies dance
Silver moon's sparkling
So kiss me
So kiss me
So kiss me
So kiss me

The Trees Grow High

The trees they grow high,
the leaves they do grow green
Many is the time my true love I've seen
Many an hour I have watched him all alone
He's young,but he's daily growing

Father, dear father,
you've done me great wrong
You have married me to a boy who is too young
I'm twice twelve and he is but fourteen
He's young, but he's daily growing

Daughter, dear daughter,
I've done you no wrong
I have married you to a great lord's son
He'll be a man for you when I am dead and gone
He's young, but he's daily growing

Father, dear father, if you see fit
We'll send him to college for another year yet
I'll tie blue ribbons all around his head
To let the maidens know that he's married

One day I was looking o'er my father's castle wall
I spied all the boys aplaying at the ball
My own true love was the flower of them all
He's young, but he's daily growing

And so early in the morning
at the dawning of the day
They went out into the hayfield to have some sport and play;
And what they did there,
she never would declare
But she ne'er more complained of his growing.

At the age of fourteen, he was a married man
At the age of fifteen, the father of a son
At the age of sixteen, his grave the grass was green
Have gone, to be wasted in battle.
And death had put an end to his growing

I'll buy my love some flannel
and I will make a shroud
With every stitch I put in it,
the tears they will pour down
With every stitch I put in it,
how the tears will flow
Cruel fate has put an end to his growing

Various Things

Sometimes there is so much going through my mind, it seems as though it may explode. Is everyone like that, or goes through times like that? Or is it just me? People do and think so much that they do not admit to - all those little idiosyncrasies, ticks and foibles, the things that make us all unique but terribly uncomfortable. My mind is always bouncing around. I mostly don't mind... but the blogging is a big help with this. When my mind has too much in it, I can sort of empty it out into this.


Which doesn't necessarily mean it is over and done with but is more of a starting point... A point of departure, as Rush has sung. I love music for that reason, too. Sometimes music says what I can't (not that there isn't much that I can't say). That's why in November I like to post a song a day. All those songs that make me feel whole, alive, have captivating lyrics... they all go up here. I enjoy sharing lyrics. There is so much richness brought to life in music.


I'm missing Luis, and it is 1849 and he still isn't home, which is a little worrying. He usually isn't gone this long on a weekend trip.

Something Funny, Yet Hopeful

One of the staff, who delights regaling me with humourous vignettes and tawdry jokes, gave me this to read. I loved it, so I copied it and here it is:

A U.S. Marine squad was marching north of Fallujah when they came upon an Iraqi terrorist, bady injured and unconscious.

On the opposite side of the road was an American Marine in a similar but less serious state. The Marine was conscious and alert and as first aid was given to both men, the squad leader asked the injured Marine what had happened.

The Marine reported, "I was heavly armed and moving north along the highway here, and coming south was a heavily armed insurgent. We saw each other and both took cover in the ditches along the road. I yelled to him that Saddam Hussein was a miserable, low-life scumbag who got what he deserved, and he yelled back that Ted Kennedy was a fat, good-for-nothing, left wing liberal drunk who doesn't know how to drive. So, I said that Osama bin Laden dresses and acts like a frigid, mean-spirited lebian! He retaliated by yelling , 'Oh, yeah? Well, so does Hillary Clinton!' And, there we were, in the middle of the road, shaking hands, when a truck hit us."

He loved the look on my face when I got to the bottom. And I loved it. But more than that, it's what should happen. Morons like George Bush put all the young people in a place that is full of horror an bloodshed and make it sound as though Iraqis are evil people. Most of them are just like most of us: they put their pants on one leg at a time; breath, eat, sleep, have sex, have families, work just as we do; they make fun of their leaders like we make fun of ours. They have news and publications with misinformation; we have that too. Two men shaking hands in the street. That's as it should be.

It doesn't matter where you are from on Earth, you are still both human beings.

I Feel GREAT!

I do! I feel incredible!

I've been exercising, cutting back dramatically on my sugar intake, living a healthier life in general. My back is getting better day by day. My body feels good and I've lost almost ten pounds. That is no small thing, for me!
The sun is shining, the trees are becoming more and more colourful every day. We had three days with thunderstorms in them in a row, a perfect way to close the storm season. Now it's in the low to mid-60s, dry and clear, some clouds in the afternoon, but mostly open blue skies! What more can one ask?

The house is in good shape, the laundry is done (except for the whites but that can wait for Luis to get home. That is the only missing piece to my happiness and domestic bliss at this moment: Luis. I'm patiently (sort of) awaiting his return from Troy, Michigan. I thought he might be home soon, but not yet. Maybe in the next hour or so?

I don't mind when he travels, but I love when he comes home. It's like a honeymoon. Life is even better. Absence to a degree does make the heart grow fonder. I'd be unhappy if he left for a long time, like off to a war. It's no mystery why marriages don't last if the partners are far away for a really long time. But the longest Luis has ever gone in one stretch was ten days. That was a little longer than I like but mostly, I'm happy when he travels. And happier when he returns.

So here I await his return!

Friday, 12 October 2007

The Fight Against Breast Cancer

I don't what my deal is, but there are way too many who do know about this:

Favour to ask, it only takes a minute....

Please tell ten friends to tell ten today! The Breast Cancer site is having trouble getting enough people to click on their site daily to meet their quota of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman. It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on "donating a mammogram" for free (pink window in the middle). This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate mammogram in exchange for advertising.

Here's the web site! Pass it along to people you know. http://www.thebreastcancersite.com

AGAIN, PLEASE TELL 10 FRIENDS TO TELL 10 Come on everyone of us knows someone just do it!!!

True Story...?

I got this in an e-mail:

This is a true story about a recent wedding that took place at Clemson University. It was in the local newspaper and even Jay Leno mentioned it.

It was a huge wedding with about 300 guests.

After the wedding, at the reception, the groom got up on stage with a microphone to talk to the crowd. He said he wanted to thank everyone for coming, many from long distances, to support them at their wedding. He especially wanted to thank the bride's family and his family and to thank his new father-in-law for providing such a lavish reception.

As a token of his deep appreciation he said he wanted to give everyone a special gift just from him. So taped to the bottom of everyone's chair, including the wedding party was an envelope.

He said this was his gift to everyone, and asked them to open his or her envelope.

Inside each manila envelope was an 8x10 glossy of his bride having sex with the best man. The groom had gotten suspicious of them weeks earlier and had hired a private detective to tail them. After just standing there, just watching the guests' reactions for a couple of minutes, he turned to the best man and said, "F--- you!"Then he turned to his bride and said, "F--- you!"

Then he turned to the dumbfounded crowd and said, "I'm outta here." He had the marriage annulled first thing in the morning.

While most people would have cancelled the wedding immediately after finding out about the affair, this guy goes through with the charade, as if nothing were wrong.

His revenge--making the bride's parents pay over $132,000 for a 300 guest wedding and reception, and best of all, trashing the bride's and best man's reputations in front of 300 friends and family members. This guy has balls the size of church bells.

Do you think we might get a MasterCard "priceless" commercial out of this?

Elegant wedding reception for 300 family members and friends: $132,000.
Wedding photographs commemorating the Occasion: $3,000.
Deluxe two week honeymoon accommodations in Maui: $8,500.

The look on everyone's face when they see the 8x10 glossy of the bride humping the best man: Priceless.

There are some things money can't buy, for everything else there's MASTERCARD.

"Life isn't like a bowl of cherries or peaches, it's more like a jar of Jalapenos--what you do today, might burn your ass tomorrow.."

A.W.A.D. - Terms from the World of Law

My maternal grandfather was a lawyer. When he and my grandmother had a little tiff, she would sometimes say, "Go tell your lies in court." They would soon make up, but a statement like that is perhaps an occupational hazard to any married lawyer.

A lawyer's reputation for fine analysis of words is well-deserved. The outcome of a case often depends on the precise meaning of a single word. No wonder lawyers are deeply interested in words. Almost all the staff members of some law offices are AWAD subscribers. Many lawyers are well-known novelists and authors of books on language usage.

This week we look at terms from the world of law.

gravamen
(gra-VAY-muhn) noun
[plural gravamens or gravamina (-VAM-uh-nuh)]
The essence or the most serious part of an accusation.

[From Latin gravamen (trouble, grievance), from gravare (to burden or to weigh upon).]

force majeure
(fors ma-ZHOOR) noun
1. An unforeseeable and uncontrollable event (for example, a war or a strike) that exempts a party from a contract
2. Superior force.

[From French, literally superior force.]

per stirpes
(pur-STUR-peez) noun
A method of dividing an estate in which each branch of the descendants of a deceased person receives an equal share.

[From Latin, literally "by roots" or "by stocks".]

venireman
(vi-NY-ree-muhn) noun
A person summoned as a prospective juror.

[From Latin venire (to come), truncation of the term venire facias ("you should cause to come", directing a sheriff to summon people to serve as jurors) + man.]

stare decisis
(STAYR-ee di-SY-sis) noun
The legal principle of following precedents in deciding a case, the idea that future decisions of a court should follow the example set by the prior decisions.

[Latin for "let the decision stand".]

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Fully Deserving Vacation

It seems like the same time that I am careening toward my week-long vacation, three million things happen as well, putting all kinds of roadblocks and snags that need to be figured out before I leave.


Even worse, inevitably, something goes really, really wrong. I return from my lovely time off, I'm tired, but happy, looking to see how much extra abuse is awaiting me from a ten day vacation (there are two weekends in there, you know). Somehow, something always manages to go hideously wrong while I'm away. Amazing. Last year it was the dental plan; that was the biggie. And then I let the two H-2B Visa programs languish until I came back, which was a mistake, especially since I came back with a delightful (ha, ha) case of the flu. Typical - I always get something in the autumn (sadly), but I'm thinking this year I got it already and so now I'm done.

It's mid-October, you know what that means... I need to go get my flu shot. Groan. I am not thrilled with the idea. I need to do it, though, as an EMT, and even though I'm still benched (WAAAAH), I will get it done to make sure that when I am cleared to return to full active duty on the squad, I will be ready for it. And all the patients that will (hopefully) have the flu that is in the category of the 60% I'll be innoculated against. (Somehow it seems that inevitably, I come in contact with one of the 40% I am not inonoculated against. How is that?

Well. It is time for bed and I am fading fast...

Thirty Years of Old Farmer's Almanacs...

...in one box!

I'm missing 1960, 1965 and 1969, but I have the rest of that decade, plus the 70s and the 80s. I always had the 1990s and this part of this century, but I was missing 1990. Now I have that, too. Life is good!

Besides beefing up the last five (almost) decades, I have a few others: 1858, 1879, 1883, 1890, 1902, 1903, 1910, 1916, 1938, 1946, 1958. I think... I'm not looking at all of them. Had I not gone on ebay I would be $300 richer but as it is, I am very, very happy with my purchases and apparently, the sellers are happy with me.

I find it completely amazing that I have held in my hands (and own) almanacs that my forebears before me may have held. Maybe someone related to me in 1883 was relying on this almanac for his or her farming needs. Tell me that is not incredible...

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Fall Foliage Explained

Every autumn we revel in the beauty of the fall colors. The mixture of red, purple, orange and yellow is the result of chemical processes that take place in the tree as the seasons change from summer to winter.



During the spring and summer the leaves have served as factories where most of the foods necessary for the tree's growth are manufactured. This food-making process takes place in the leaf in numerous cells containing chlorophyll, which gives the leaf its green color. This extraordinary chemical absorbs from sunlight the energy that is used in transforming carbon dioxide and water to carbohydrates, such as sugars and starch.


Along with the green pigment are yellow to orange pigments, carotenes and xanthophyll pigments which, for example, give the orange color to a carrot. Most of the year these colors are masked by great amounts of green coloring.


Chlorophyll Breaks Down
But in the fall, because of changes in the length of daylight and changes in temperature, the leaves stop their food-making process. The chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears, and the yellow to orange colors become visible and give the leaves part of their fall splendor.

At the same time, other chemical changes may occur, which form additional colors through the development of red anthocyanin pigments. Some mixtures give rise to the reddish and purplish fall colors of trees such as dogwoods and sumacs, while others give the sugar maple its brilliant orange.


The autumn foliage of some trees shows only yellow colors. Others, like many oaks, display mostly browns. All these colors are due to the mixing of varying amounts of the chlorophyll residue and other pigments in the leaf during the fall season.


Other Changes Take Place
As the fall colors appear, other changes are taking place. At the point where the stem of the leaf is attached to the tree, a special layer of cells develops and gradually severs the tissues that support the leaf. At the same time, the tree seals the cut, so that when the leaf is finally blown off by the wind or falls from its own weight, it leaves behind a leaf scar.


Most of the broad-leaved trees in the North shed their leaves in the fall. However, the dead brown leaves of the oaks and a few other species may stay on the tree until growth starts again in the spring. In the South, where the winters are mild, some of the broad-leaved trees are evergreen; that is, the leaves stay on the trees during winter and keep their green color.


Only Some Trees Lose Leaves
Most of the conifers -- pines, spruces, firs, hemlocks, cedars, etc. -- are evergreen in both the North and South. The needle- or scale-like leaves remain green or greenish the year round, and individual leaves may stay on for two to four years or more.


Weather Affects Color Intensity
Temperature, light, and water supply have an influence on the degree and the duration of fall color. Low temperatures above freezing will favor anthocyanin formation, producing bright reds in maples. However, early frost will weaken the brilliant red color. Rainy and/or overcast days tend to increase the intensity of fall colors. The best time to enjoy the autumn color would be on a clear, dry and cool (not freezing) day.


Enjoy the color; it only occurs for a brief period each fall.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Rumours

Five years on this sqaud, and not much really drives me crazy. I'm accustomed to the bullshit, the lying, the rumour mill, etc. But then one person told everyone that she had a bird's eye view of my husband's penis. That is completely rediculous, so for once, I actually addressed the rumour mill instead of letting it go:

"One of the most stupid and unbelievable things is how much people love to have dirt. In the absence of real dirt, they'll make it up.

One of my squadmates was kind enough to drop off the meeting attendance notes and I very much appreciate that; however, I do not appreciate the subsequent tall tales circulating about my husband's state of dress. He threw on pants and opened the door. He is very, very private and would not ever appear without zipping up his pants. He also did not parade in front of the picture window naked as he was not naked to begin with.

It is a public fact that I like to be in my own house naked. We never use our living room (it has no telly) and the picture window has furniture in front of it. You guys are welcome to say all the things you wish about me; that's fine and I don't care. (And it's almost all been said before, anyway!) Do NOT make up vitriolic lies concerning my family because you cannot find anything better to discuss.

If you weren't the one who said this to all, then just ignore it. If you are, learn from it. Rumours are hurtful to other people and unkind to those you work with in a "family" such as ours. Don't say anything. You'll be the better for it.

This is not a federal case. I don't care who the lying party is. This is an end to it.

Thank you."

One of my other mates wrote me back:

TOUCHE!!!!

Doris is wonderful and always supportive, and I really like her. She's stood up for me before on other issues and I find that admirable. I'm not super-popular within the squad, which again, is fine. I'm an odd duck. But you know something, I do not contribute to the rumour pool. I don't have anything to do with it. I know who the person is who did this. I honest believe that this individual doesn't think s/he had done anything out-of-bounds, or that someone else might be affected by this. But I hate that. If you want to pick on me "behind my back", have at it. Picking on my husband (in a manner of speaking) is not acceptable. I know it wasn't meant to hurt, it was meant to give this person a higher standing in the squad (very often rumours are used as a way of ingratiating one's self with others). That still does not make it right.

This person is not a bad person (although hearing every personal medical problem is a bit annoying. No one should use his or her own problems and his or her family's medical problems as a tool for... what? Popularity? One-upping? Whatever it is. (I'm not expressing myself right... s/he's not doing this on a conscious level. It is something ingrained. I guess it is a way of establishing importance... no, that's not quite right either.) But you know what I mean...
It's worth it.