Friday, 30 May 2008

A.W.A.D - Archaic Words

Fashions come and go. One year it's bell-bottoms that are cool, another time it might be torn jeans. What is hip for one age is passé for another.

The same goes for words. Yesterday's street slang becomes respectable today, suitable for office memos and academic theses. Words once in everyday use may be labeled archaic a few hundred years later. As I see it, there's no reason to despatch any word to the attic of time.

Each word on our verbal palette -- whether new or old -- helps us bring outa nuance in conversation and in writing. The words featured here this week are considered archaic but are still in good shape. They're old but have not yet retired from the language. They still faithfully report for duty, as shown by some of the examples from newspapers.

garboil
(GAHR-boil) noun
Confusion; turmoil.

[Via French and Italian from Latin bullire (to boil).]

point-device
(point di-VYS) adverb
Completely; perfectly

adjective
Perfect; precise; meticulous

[From the phrase "at point devis" meaning "at a fixed point" or"to perfection".]

scrannel
(SKRAN-l) adjective
1. Thin
2. Unmelodious

[Of unknown origin.]

sweven
(SWEV-uhn) noun
Dream; vision

[From Old English swefn (sleep, dream, vision).]

ween
(ween) verb tr., intr.
To think, suppose, believe

[From Old English wenan (to expect), from the Indo-European root wen-(to desire or to strive for) that's also the source of wish, win, venerate, venison, Venus, and banya. It's the same word that shows up in "overweening".]

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

The Trip to Houston

It's always easier to post on the day of the events, but sometimes that just isn't possible. Vacations definitely make that harder. I did log in a few times, but never was able to really collect my thoughts and put them down - it was late at night and I was too tired. The days were packed and we had a great time. Who wants to blog with all of that going on?


We are back now, and that in itself was an adventure, but I am getting ahead of myself. Always better to begin with the first part.


We got to the airport after a rocky start with the driver and traffic. The driver talked too much, which was a little annoying, and the traffic on Route 24 East at 1630 was hideous - normal rush hour traffic combined with a zillion people getting an early start to their long weekend. We would have sat in it but the driver knew what to do to get around the mess. We made it to the airport at 1715 and checked our bags in, did the security, and then got onto the Terminal C concourse. We had a bite to eat and not too long after - around 1815 - we boarded the plane. The plane, however, for reasons passing understanding, did not take off until 1755. (It was an 1855 flight.)


The traffic was awful. Who knew that there would be so much traffic for the air. The planes were lined up to get out so it took forever. However, life sometimes gives one a gift... in the form of a good-looking guy with very blue eyes (you know me - a sucker for those striking eyes!) who sat in between Luis and me on our flight. Don't worry - the seating was selected that way. Luis prefers the aisle, I love the window.


I struck up a conversation with Larry and we chatted on and off throughout the flight. He lives in Texas and has travel to New Jersey fairly often; he is an engineer with Verizon. He comes up for training and various other things. He has a wife and two kids in Texas and doesn't like leaving them, but he seems to really like his line of work. Always a plus. At some point we did not have much conversation - Continental played a movie called 27 Dresses with what's-her-name from Grey's Anatomy. Luis said it was cute. I wasn't interested and read most of The Demon Lord of Karanda (thank you, David Eddings, for keeping me distracted!). The flight was uninteresting both in terms of the general flight and the view - it was cloudy, then dark. Sigh.


We had the usual cheeseburger on the flight, which assuaged my hunger for the latter part of the trip, but I will tell you that in one way, this was a terrible flight. I had some heartburn on and off during the day, and once in the air, it was quite bad. When we got in and got our luggage and was walking the long distance from Terminal E to the main area, I had to stop at one point. Not only did my chest hurt from the heartburn but my back was burning, too. It was not merely painful, it was excruciating. I was starting to get really scared. It did finally subside but not right away. I was thinking that I might need to call 9-1-1. Not just a little scary.

The rest of the night and the whole trip I had no problem with heartburn. I normally don't have heartburn, so this was rather notable.

We landed around 2245 local time (one hour behind my normal time) and were at the airport for a while - Bush International Airport is enormous. And what a heinous name... I think it is named for the Senior Bush, but I don't have any liking for either one of them. I have to say that the idiocy of the current Bush is so overwhelming that I really can't recall much of what the first Bush did in the Oval Office. That certainly says something.

Nothing positive.

We got our rental car (a very nice Saturn Aura) and headed out to Cypress via Mapquest directions. It wasn't too hard. We did find our way there just after midnight and pulled into the wrong driveway, then found the correct house just a couple houses up the street. We pulled in behind the white car as directed, then Luis went to the garage door and typed in the code - and nothing happened. He did it several times and nothing happened. I was starting to get worried - not so much that we had the wrong code or anything but more that some neighbour was going to take a leak in the middle of the night, look out the window and see us and call the local constabulary, thinking that we were casing the house!

Luis began to walk around the house, and I thought I would give the door a try. It opened the first time I did it. Hmmmm.

The house inside was gorgeous! And there was the occaisional furtive bark of a dog. Oh, good, fur!

We looked at our directions and they read upstairs, first door on the left. Okay. I took my onboard bag up the stairs and looked around. There was a far right door, another right next to it, two open doors, another closed door to the left and then one far left door. OK. That must be it. I quietly walked to that door, very lightly tapped on it and opened it and heard a youngish voice say, "Hello?"

Yikes!

I certainly wasn't expecting that and niether was the inhabitant. A tall, young guy came out of the darkness and introduced himself as Matt and smiled and welcomed us and I apologised profusely. I hated waking someone up at half-midnight! He was very sweet and showed me the right door and then Luis came up and we got our bags in.

I have to say that at first I was really surprised when I opened the door! There was not one but two beds - two single beds! - and I had to laugh. I'm not used to sleeping in the same room but not the same bed with Luis! However, in a rare first, the bed was very comfortable - I slept like a baby! Every time we travel I usually end up an invalid in the morning from excruciating back pain brought on by a torturous bed. This was a nice change!

I unpacked my bag into the one empty drawer and then crashed.

Welcome to Houston!

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Federal Legislative Alert!On Wednesday, May 21, President Bush signed into law the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). The new law, which has been called “the first civil rights law of the 21st Century,” would prohibit discrimination against individuals on the basis of their genetic information in both employment and health care. The employment provisions of GINA become effective in November 2009, or 18 months after the President signed the bill, and the provisions pertaining to group health plans become effective in May 2009, or one year after the date of enactment.
To watch the signing ceremony in the Oval Office, click <http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/05/20080521-7.wm.v.html> here: Relevant to HR professionals, the legislation contains the following provisions:

State Genetic law Preemption – GINA will allow state laws that are more stringent in the requirements, standards, or implementations than those contained in GINA to supersede the new federal law.

Nondiscrimination in Employment – GINA will prohibit an employer from discriminating against an individual in the hiring, firing, compensation, terms, or privileges of employment on the basis of genetic information of the individual or family member of the individual.

Definition of Family Member – GINA defines a family member as the:(1) spouse of the individual; (2) a dependent child of the individual, including a child who is born to or placed for adoption with the individual; or (3) parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent.

Restrictions on Collecting Genetic Information – GINA forbids an employer from requesting, requiring, or purchasing genetic information of the individual or family member except (1) where the employer inadvertently requests or requires the information, (2) for genetic services offered by the employer (including wellness programs), (3) for purposes of complying with the Family and Medical Leave Act, and (4) where the employer purchases documents that are commercially available.

Genetic Monitoring in the Workplace Exception – GINA does allow for genetic monitoring of biological effects of toxic substances in the workplace, but only if (1) the employer provides written notice of the monitoring to the employee; (2) the employee agrees to the monitoring in writing or the monitoring is required by federal, state, or local law; (3) the employee is informed of the results of the test; (4) the monitoring conforms to any federal or state law, including rules promulgated by OSHA; and (5) the employer receives the results of the tests in aggregate terms.

Health Care Coverage Protections – GINA will prohibit an insured or self-insured health care plan, from denying eligibility to enroll for healthcare coverage or from adjusting premium or contribution rates under a plan based on an individual or family member's genetic information. Health care plans would also be prevented from requiring a plan participant to undergo agenetic test to be eligible for coverage under a health care plan.

Exceptions for Genetic Testing for Health Care Treatment – GINA will allow ahealth care professional to request that a patient undergo a genetic test or advise a patient on the provision of genetic test or services through a wellness program.

Remedies for Violations of the Health Care Coverage Provisions – GINA will allow plan participants to receive injunctive relief under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and have health care coverage reinstated back to the date of loss of coverage. Plan administrators could be personally liable for discriminating in coverage decisions and be assessed a penalty of $100 per day for the period of noncompliance. Plans could be fined a minimum penalty of $2,500 to $15,000 for more than deminim is violations up to a total of $500,000 for multiple violations.

Confidentiality of Genetic Health Care Information – GINA requires that the disclosure of protected genetic health care information would be governed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The law would also provide participants with injunctive and equitable relief for violations of the confidentiality provisions of GINA. For violations ofthe privacy provisions of the law, civil monetary penalties of $100 per day up to $250,000 and 10 years in provision for egregious violations.

Yeah, Grandma!


Monday, 26 May 2008

Houston is AWESOME!



And I want a Harley!





More will follow after tomorrow's flight home!

A.W.A.D. - Eponyms - May 08

cicerone
(sis-uh-RO-nee) noun
A tour guide.

[After Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BCE), the Roman statesman, orator,and writer, who was known for his knowledge and eloquence. He's one of the rare people who have given two eponyms to the English language. Another word coined after his name is ciceronian, meaning marked by ornate language, expansive flow, and forcefulness of expression.]

"Proper names that have become improper and uncommonly common" is how Willard R. Espy described eponyms, and that is the theme for this week's words in AWAD: words coined after someone's name. In our quest for eponyms, we are going to visit ancient Greece and Rome, 17th and 19th century Paris, and even go back to biblical times.

Over the years we have featured hundreds of eponyms, but this week, as in any week, we'll review only five. If you want to have your fill of eponyms check out this eponym-infested story: http://newstatesman.com/200603200056

svengali
(sven-GAH-lee) noun
A person who manipulates and exercises excessive control over another for sinister purposes.

[After Svengali, a musician and hypnotist, in the novel Trilby written by George du Maurier (1834-1896). In the story, Trilby is an artist's model. She's tone-deaf, but Svengali transforms her into a singing sensation under his hypnotic spell.

Another eponym to come out of the novel is the word for a man's hat: trilby. A trilby was a soft felt hat with a narrow brim and an indented crown. The word arose because such a hat was won in the stage production of the novel.]

lucullan
(loo-KUHL-uhn) adjective
Lavish, luxurious.

[After a Roman general Lucius Licinius Lucullus (c. 110-57 BCE), who was known for his sumptuous banquets.]

jeremiah
(jer-uh-MY-uh) noun
A person who complains continually, has a gloomy attitude, or one who warns about a disastrous future.

[After Jeremiah, a Hebrew prophet during the seventh and sixth centuries BCE who prophesied the fall of the kingdom of Judah and whose writings are collected in the Book of Jeremiah and the Book of Lamentations.]

tartuffe
(tahr-TOOF) noun
A hypocrite who feigns virtue, especially in religious matters.

[After the main character in Tartuffe, a play by Molière, pen name of Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (1622-1673). As if to prove themselves, the religious authorities in Paris had the play banned soon after it was introduced.]

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

I Love the Constabulary/Meeting an Old Friend

I'd been thinking about this since Saturday night, but of course I'm just posting about it now.


While doing the standby at the Parsippany Carnival, I ran into an old friend. He's not old, about 35 or so, but one of the few people I've known since I was a teenager. That is something for me. I left school feeling very distanced from the others I went there with and did not feel nostalgic about being a kid. I still don't. Getting through school was torturous. It turns out that this person I met from hanging out with someone else in school, but he did not go to school with me. I think we met in a bowling alley... of course, this was about 25 years ago... so I could very easily be mistaken - my memory being what it isn't.


Brian did not at all like me at first - he was very jealous that I was taking his friend Kip away. Kip was a misfit in school, as was I. But in my junoir year I met Holly, and we became friends. She introduced me to Kip, who introduced me to Andy and Brian. And maybe a couple of others, too, but these were the main people. Kip was sweet on me, I can't imagine why, but he was - and I hooked up briefly with Andy. Mostly, though, we remained friends. Once I graduated, though, I lost touch with most people. Kip and I remained in touch for a fairly long time, through letters and the occasional visit (he had joined the Navy immediately after graduation).


Kip got married to a woman twice his age and easily five times his weight. He was never truly overweight but she was grossly overweight. Not that this is the worst thing... call it a combination of things. Uneducated, uncouth, and came to my house as though shopping at a bazaar. It was amazing. I reached the point where I informed him I was cutting off ties. I have to admit that sometimes I wonder what he's up to, but mostly I would say the decision had some merits. Still... I suppose were I to hear from him, I would accept an e-mail friendship.


However, I remember Brian well and spending time with him when we were a lot younger. Seeing him now is amazing. When we were kids, I was slender and he was a chubby kid. He was nice, though, and once the initial jealousy was done, we got on rather well. I even was invited to a couple of family events.


We ran into each other a long time ago again, maybe ten-fifteen years ago. He looked totally different, tall, fit, and confident. We were never that confident in our younger years. I couldn't get over it. And on and off at different things we ran into each other - mostly notably now at township things - he is on District 6 and I am with Car 66 so we sometimes see each other at events.


And there he was, talking to one of the cops by District 5's pumper.


I loved talking to him again. You don't always realise how much you miss someone until you see them again. We laughed and chatted about the past. He said that when he was younger (a lot younger) he had a crush on me! I have to admit, that on thinking about it, I remember suspecting it. However, there is nothing as flattering - in a very wonderful way - as hearing that. I was delighted. I love that. There is something very morale boosting about hearing that.


Brian is witty, intelligent and honest. And he was in the service and is now a Sergeant. It's hard not to brag about that, and of course, you know how much I love 1. cops and 2. men in uniform. I don't have designs on Brian. And the love of cops is not a sexual thing (I am not sure why people think that). The men in uniform has a sexual component but isn't only that. And so we come to the "I Love the Constabulary" part of this.


My parents - my mother and both fathers - installed a very strong feeling that the police are your friends and champions. That is as it should be. One should always feel that any kind of trouble can be ameliorated by the police. Any time you are in trouble, these are the people who can help you. Certainly the few times I'd spoken with police, I found that to be true. Even the police who've pulled me over have been good if not great. I've gotten tickets, but I've taken my lumps because they were right. Speeding is not really an arguable thing. And when I had my accident in 2001, I found out up close and personally how truly wonderful the police are. You can refer to my posting about it for that whole story. (You'd better love to read - it is LONG.)


The police were great. And now I work closely with them both in a professional (paid) capacity and as a volunteer. I have a lot of respect for the insanity that they deal with. Someone should - it seems like people often either take the police for granted or just consider them to be bad for their illegal lives (which is as it should be).

Monday, 19 May 2008

Happy 200th Posting of 2008!

Can you believe it? It is mid-May and this is posting #200 - rather prolific, isn't it? This year I need not worry about managing to get to 365 - well, 366 - postings by 31 December. It seems as though there is always fresh fodder for blogging - home, work, riding, musings on life in general. Some people live on the world, I live in it.


I would not have it any other way.


Hold on, I need to change the DVD...


Three days until our trip to Houston - talk about fodder for writing! This should provide a ton of material for me, for my mind, for this. And photos, of course. I'll take a zillion images. As always. I don't know what we will do there... but there is something I want to check.


OK, no active Renassaince Faires at this time but check this out:


Everything you've always wanted to know about Houston
Houston, at approximately 596 square miles, is the fourth largest city in America.
It is the largest city in Texas with a population approaching three million.
County seat of Harris County, the nation’s third largest county with more than 3.4 million citizens.
The City of Houston actually spreads over three counties: Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery.

Houston "Firsts"
"Houston" was the first word Astronaut Neil Armstrong spoke when he landed on the moon.
It’s home to the first major freeway in Texas.
America’s first public television station is located here.

Access
Two major airports: Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport.
Houston Airport System (HAS) is the fourth largest multi-airport system in the U.S., the seventh largest international gateway in the country.
Bush Intercontinental ranks third among U.S. airports for nonstop destinations.
METRORail, a 7.5-mile rail line connects downtown to the Museum District, Texas Medical Center and Reliant Park.
METRO operates more than 1,400 accessible buses.
The city has the nation’s third largest fleet of taxis and, across the board, up to four passengers can ride for the price of one.

Sports
MLB: 2005 National League Champion Houston Astros.
NBA: two-time World Champion Houston Rockets.
WNBA: four-time World Champion Houston Comets.
NFL: Houston Texans, the newest expansion team in the NFL.
AHL: Calder Cup Champion Houston Aeros.

Multicultural Houston
90 languages spoken throughout the area.
Diverse population - 37.4 percent Hispanic, 49.3 percent Caucasian, 29.3 percent African-American and 5.3 percent Asian.
83 consulates - the third largest consular corps in the nation.

Theater District
One of only five cities in the U.S. with resident companies in the four disciplines of the performing arts: Alley Theatre, Houston Ballet, Houston Symphony and Houston Grand Opera

Museum District
Home to 15 institutions, including The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the sixth largest museum in the country, and Houston Museum of Natural Science.
Theme Parks
Space Center Houston is the Official Visitors Center for NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
Others include SplashTown water park, Moody Gardens on Galveston Island, Kemah Boardwalk and Downtown Aquarium.

Outdoors
More than 165 public and private golf courses.
Located 50 miles from the Gulf of Mexico.
Located 30 minutes from Clear Lake, a 2,000-acre destination for boating enthusiasts.
Third-largest pleasure boat basin in the U.S.

Business in Houston
Texas Medical Center is home to 42+ nonprofit institutions, the largest medical center in the world.
U.S. energy headquarters with more than 5,000 energy-related businesses.
The Port of Houston, a $15-billion petrochemical complex, ranks number one in the nation in foreign tonnage and second in total tonnage.

Wow. It's a huge city, with over 165 golf course...! That is amazing. I'm not interested in going to see those (and why should I be? I work at the best one in the world!) but golf courses are not small areas of property.

The Houston Space Center - now we are talking about something! That is a must-see! And it looks like we are not too far from the ocean (well, the gulf - Texas is not on an ocean), and I've never been to the Gulf. I want to see Galveston if it is really only 50 miles from Houston. Luis' grandmother is "close by" (this from Luis) - one to two hours from Pat and Craig (how that is close is a total mystery). Since one reason for this trip is to visit his granmother, June, we are going to visit her. I love her, she's wonderful; but somehow I assumed that they lived close - like 20 minutes away, not 2 hours!

Well, back to this post, which is about 200 posts.
Think I can get in another 200 before, say, October 15th?

Sunday, 18 May 2008

The Weekend Reviewed

This was a good weekend!

Yesterday I was up around 0630, really got out of bed closer to 0800, had breakfast, then got in the shower, dressed and picked up my mother around 1230 to visit Ray. I had his shirts and had stopped at the store to get him some crackers the previous night. We left ten minutes later and got to the rehab place around 1245.

We took Ollie and went outside to a small area that they had for the "inmates", and Ma and I sat in the plastic chairs, and Ray sat on the wall. The chairs were too low - when one has hip surgery, one is supposed to sit higher than the level of their knees, but not lower. The chairs would be okay for someone 5'10" but not 6'4" with long legs, like Ray. He's not disproportionate like some men, with a long torso and not so long legs. Luis is a little more like that. Some guys have very long torsos, a look I don't like. Longer legs look better.

Anyway, we had a nice time sitting outside and talking and then at some point Ray's hip began to ache so we went back in. He moves really, really well, trucking up and down the hallway with his walker, which really just provides balance at this point. He is tackling stairs at the physical therapy sessions. He has his staples coming out tomorrow. Things are moving along very nicely and the progress, in two weeks, is absolutely incredible.

We left at 1510 and I stopped at the A&P for Ma to run in and pick up groceries. I stayed in the car with Ollie. She took 45 minutes and I was ready to shoot her. I dropped her and the groceries off and headed back, picked up some Afghani food and then headed to the squadhouse at 1750, only to find that the rigs had already gone to the St. Whatever's Carnival. Apparently we were supposed to be there at 1745. Luis took me over and I was there at 1805.

Nothing happened at the carnival itself by some miracle, but we did end up with the smoke condition call right next door at Baldwin Oaks. There was no fire, but definitely the acrid stench of burnt food was overwhelming. The woman who burned her food spoke not a word of English. Amusing. We could not even obtain a signature. We gave up and left. That was the extent of our calls for the night. I'm quite happy with that. At one point I heard Medics responding to someone, but it was just that, and nothing else.

I was up around 0700 this morning after not sleeping most of the night. That is just the way those 12 hour shifts are. I ate breakfast around 0800 and then got ready for the day. I did a little stuff on Facebook.
Then we headed out to see Iron Man, and to our surprise it was incredible! Robert Downey Jr looks nothing like he did in the teeny-bopper movies; been a long time! But he looked good, just surprisingly older (which is stupid, since that is what happens to people). Gwyneth Paltrow is always great and it was certainly an interesting role for Jeff Bridges - who definitely doesn't look like he did in Star Man. The whole cast was good, really. The plot line was good and despite the 2 hour, 6 minute running time, the movie did keep one's interest engaged and looking forward to things.
I also managed to stay completely focussed and details that normally escape me didn't. That is both a positive and a negative. It made the movie more predictable but more interesting, too. However, predictable or not, it was still very, very good!
Some little details... on the way to Rockaway to see Iron Man, we were driving on Route 80 West and there was a white van ahead of us, drifting in and out of the lane. I was at first wondering if the driver could have been getting an early start on his or her drinking or maybe was that hammered from the night before. However, I needn't have worried. Occam's Razor once again came to the fore: the simplest theory is most likely correct.
When we came abreast of the driver, who'd drifted and miraculously stayed in the right-most lane, was yakking on her cell phone. I wished I'd taken a couple of photos - first of her driving while on the cell phone; the second while shifting through a pile of papers - maybe invoices? - and finally, one of the license plate. Talk about a menace! This woman should have been arrested. It was criminal. This was a middle-aged woman with close-cropped grey hair and obviously too busy running a business to drive in anything resembling a safe manner.
The matinee movie cost (at 10:55) was $12. Beats the hell out of last weekend's movie, which after 1800 shot up to $21. Ouch. After noon it would have been $16. And the concessions? BYO. You don't want to pay more for the munchies than the entrance fee - the after 1800 entrance fee!
It was pouring when we got out. Wahoo. But we had a good time and a good day.

Life Math & Rules

ROMANCE MATHEMATICS

Smart man + smart woman = romance
Smart man + dumb woman = affair
Dumb man + smart woman = marriage
Dumb man + dumb woman = pregnancy

OFFICE ARITHMETIC

Smart boss + smart employee = profit
Smart boss + dumb employee = production
Dumb boss + smart employee = promotion
Dumb boss + dumb employee = overtime

SHOPPING MATH

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

GENERAL EQUATIONS &STATISTICS

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

HAPPINESS

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

LONGEVITY

Married men live longer than single men do, but married men are a lot more willing to die

PROPENSITY TO CHANGE

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

DISCUSSION TECHNIQUE

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

HOW TO STOP PEOPLE FROM BUGGING YOU ABOUT GETTING MARRIED

Old aunts used to come up to me at weddings, poking me in the ribs and cackling, telling me, "You're next." They stopped after I started doing the same thing to them at funerals.

A.W.A.D. - Words Related to Beards

Over the years we have featured weeks of words about words, we have had words about birds, and now it's time for, well, words about beards.

Are bearded people irritating? While some find a beard on a man attractive, it repels others. Like barbed wire, literally speaking. The words barb, barber, rebarbative, and beard are derived from the same root: Latin barba (beard). And though many bards have beards, there is no connection between the two words.

Though most men have only a fleeting interest in pogonotrophy (growing of abeard, from Greek pogon, beard + -trophy, nourishment or growth), growing it now, shaving it when the fancy strikes, for some, beards are a serious business. There's even a biannual championship event for the bearded: http://worldbeardchampionships.com/

This week we'll see five words having to do with facial hair. They are pure beard words as the week starts out, and like beards growing slender at the bottom, as the week ends the connection becomes slender too.

sideburns
(SYDE-burnz) plural noun
Hair grown on the sides of a man's face, when worn with an unbearded chin.

[After Ambrose Everett Burnside (1824-1881), who served as a general in theUnion Army in the American Civil War, and who earned more recognition for his side whiskers than for his military career. Eventually the term burnsides morphed into sideburns as such a facial pattern was on the sides of a face.]

dundrearies
(dun-DREER-eez) noun
Long flowing sideburns.

[After the bushy sideburns worn by actor Edward A. Sothern who played the part of Lord Dundreary in the play Our American Cousin (1858), written by Tom Taylor (1817-1880). This was the play being performed at Ford's Theatre in Washington DC during which Abraham Lincoln was shot.]

Vandyke or Van Dyke or vandyke
(van dyk) noun
A short, pointed beard.

[After painter Anthony Van Dyck or Vandyke (1599-1641) who painted portraits of people having these v-shaped beards.]

bluebeard
(BLOO-beerd) noun
A man who marries and kills one wife after another.

[After Bluebeard, the nickname of the main character Raoul in a fairy tale by Charles Perrault (1628-1703). In the story, Bluebeard's wife finds the bodies of his previous wives in a room she was forbidden to enter. Yes, he did have a blue beard.]

Jericho
(JER-i-ko) noun
A place out of the way; an unspecified place; a place of concealment. Often used in the phrase "go to Jericho".

[After Jericho, an ancient city of Palestine, northwest of the Dead Sea, where David had his servants wait until their beards had grown. As in Samuel, a book of the Bible, "And the king said, Tarry at Jericho until your beards be grown."]

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Ray's Recovery

Ray, my father, had his first of two hip surgeries on Monday, 5 May. I drove him to Hackensack Hospital at 0500, got there in time and he went in to surgery at 0720, or so. It took just under two hours for them to do the replacement! I could not believe it. It is staggering and amazing to me that such a huge surgery like that can only take a bit under two hours. They shaved the bone down, reshaped it and added a titanium part and a porcelain part, and got him all back together in that time. This is not a minor surgery.

And yet, it seems too good to be true. The next day, the hospital staff had him up and walking around - ten feet out from the bed, ten feet back, sit in the chair for a bit and then back to bed. He was totally drained and exhausted after that, and he was happy to get back in bed. He was in some pain but at that time, he was on a morphine drip. (We have mostly found that my parents are not appropriately reactive to morphine. It works well with me, but not them.)

The day after he was up and walking even farther, and no longer on morphine. He was then on two percocets every four hours. He was definitely effected by them. I was afraid that his tolerance to pain medication was way too high because he has been popping hydrocodone for the last three years for his hips. But the percocet was working and making him sound a little drunk to boot!

He was transported from Hackensack Hospital to Lakeview Subacute treatment center in Wayne on Thursday; they had told him he would move to Lakeview at 1200 and he went at 1230, which is an amazingly timely thing in the world of transports. (My lieutenant, whom I love dearly, does transport dispatch at St. Clares and tells me of the different issues that pop up on a regular basis.) Ray said that the ride was not bad at all! That's great. Ambulances are not known for their smooth rides...

We went to visit Ray on Thursday and again yesterday. He is making huge strides forward and is really working hard on the physical therapy to get released from there as soon as possible. I want that, too. He has extra incentive with the huge issue of the food there. It is an issue everywhere. Ray said he doesn't want to return there in November or December when he has to go in for the second surgery, but I suggested that now that he knows the system there, he should return there - he knows his way around the menu and guess what... you can fuck up scrambled eggs! Who knew? I wouldn't have guessed.

But Ray is up and walking, getting dressed (except for his socks) and gets around well. I'm delighted. Sometimes Ma is unhappy with his progress but I'm not - he had major reconstructive surgery just one week ago and he is up and mobile and it is amazing!

We helped by bringing Ollie over to see him and bringing other food that does have salt. He has mastered the stupid menu and made it clear that a no-sodium diet is not an option. Good for him. The thing that upsets him is that Susan, the Director there, told him that the food is excellent. I hate when people lie about stuff. Especially stuff like that. It's a bad policy to lie about something as major as that.

People-Watching

Some interesting tidbits found in The Institute for Bathroom Readers Uncle John's Legendary Lost Bathroom Reader:

"1. American friends touch will each other in conversation about twice

2. British friends generally won't touch each other at all

3. By comparison, the French can't keep their hands off each other, they average 110 touches an hour

4. But Puerto Ricans were the most tactile in the study, with about 180 "touches" in the same period"

This is something that I mention in orientation to my new hires: harassment is any percieved action considered to be unwelcome. One of those things is standing too close to another, but for each person and for each culture it is different. I've noticed that Greek and some Eastern Bloc nations denizens will stand very close and if you inch away, they'll follow you as you go. In their cultures, standing very close is percieved as showing an interest. OK... In our culture it is considered to be 18" that makes the distance between one person and another acceptable. In other cultures, 2 feet is more ideal. Hard to know where that line is.

I also know that when it comes to my Latin and South American employees, the ones that know me well are very tactile, which is fine. I happen to be a very tactile person, too, one of the qualities that makes me a good EMT - I'm not afraid to touch people. I went through the First Responder and then two EMT courses (the initial 120 hour course and one 24 hour refresher) and had no issues handling people but many of my classmates were very tentative in touching others. I suspect that is one of the more difficult aspects for a large percentage of people to get past, but for me, that wasn't one of my issues.

More interesting tidbits:

"--If you are a man, the farther you sit from the other person (within a range of 2 - 10 feet), the more willing you are to talk intimately about yourself

--If you'e a woman, the closer you sit together (within a range of 2 - 10 feet), the more willing you are to talk about intimate details about yourself

--Within a range of 2 - 10 feet (whether you're a man or a woman), you'll talk with a stranger longer and volunteer the most about intimate topics at a distance of 5 feet"

Now that is interesting... I would think that at 5 feet, too many others can clearly hear you from a better distance. Gods know, I'm not one to shy away from conversations regarding intimate details, but at 5 feet? That seems unwise...

"+ Want a long life? A recent study of about 2,700 individuals found lower death rates among those who volunteered their time to a favourite charity or cause

+ Another interesting study in behaviour had students watch a movie on Mother Theresa. The film depicted her administering to the needy and sick, bringing comfort and solace. Immediately following the fil, researchers found in the students a significant increase in immunoglobulin, an antibody that helps the body fight respiratory infections."

Wow. I wish I had watched that on Friday!

Ebay & Smokers

I'm not stupid but I wondered about the line on some ebay sellers items that read smoke-free home or smoke-free environment. Now I know.

I buy a lot of candles from one specific buyer. She's a wonderful seller, a great communicator and a very careful shipper - everything comes wrapped up and safely shipped without so much as a scratch. She's great. The funny thing is that the first several purchases were all perfect and then the last two or three came reeking of smoke. It was disgusting.

Fortunately it was the packing peanuts that reeked and not the glass (although glass would not be porous enough to hold the smell) but it was overwhelming when I opened the box. And this woman is so nice that part of me wants to write to her via e-mail or ebay that smoking kills and she's too nice to die. However, smokers never seem to appreciate people telling them that, no more than I appreciate hearing that I spend my money stupidly. (However, I know that already.)

A few of my Smurf purchases also showed up reeking of smoke, but my number one seller of Smurfs appears not to smoke, either. Good thing. I can't believe how awful that is. I always knew that cigarette smoke permeates many things, but I'm surprised at just how many things it really does soak into.

I suppose if I wrote smoke-free I'd be lying, but if I cigarette/cigar smoke free, I wouldn't be - I burn candles almost every day, so saying it is smoke free would be less than accurate. But no one would get anything from me that smelled that bad.

Cheated by Television Production

The writers' strike has created an interesting issue. They strike, production stops, and we the viewers get the short end of the stick. The writers' strike ended in mid- to late February, production began again, but most shows did not air until the end of March or mid-April. That is about four months without new viewing except for those few shows willing to air then - maybe second stringers who did not make the cut for the last season initially. Eli Stone might be one of those shows.

So now as we come into the mid-May time, season finales are beginning to air. Season finales? After leaving us high and dry from our favourite shows for three to four months they still get to go off the air in May? Oh, no, no, no, I don't agree with that at all. I think we are getting the shaft for something that is not our fault. How is that fair?

It isn't.

I'm re-watching CSI: Crime Scene Investigation now from Thursday, and it's great! In the opening scene, Grissom and David are looking over a body of a famous actress who is wretched. Well, was wretched. Anyway, they found a rubber chicken stuffed in her mouth, and when David pulled it out, he looked at Grissom and said, "What? Nothing to say? Like, 'It's foul play' or 'poultry evidence'?" Since Grissom always closes the opening scene of any episode that way, it was really funny.

Later on they are doing an autopsy, and determined that the COD was something other than strangulation or airway obstruction and when Doc Robbins asked Grissom why the chicken, Grissom replied, "I don't know... for a gag?" Badum-bum.

And then just to make it better, Doc Robbins was going over all of the other things that would have killed her slowly had she not been murdered, and David leaned over, looked really confused and said, "She has no lady parts." (This from a forensics scientist?) Doc Robbins said, "She had a hysterectomy," with scorn, and David asked, "then why is she using this?" and pulled out a jar with clear liquid and a very engorged tampon in it. Doc Robbins replied with a straight face, "For nostalgia?"

Ugh!

Too funny. And they are going to rob me of several episodes because the writers were unhappy and so was the guild that they were striking against? How is that right? I'm not ready to stop watching new episodes of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation yet. Not even close.

Sick Again

I'm doing nothing today, nothing at all, in the hopes that I will feel better tomorrow when it is time to go in to work.

I felt a little off yesterday morning when I woke up and thought it might be allergies, so I took an Allegra and headed off to the squadhouse for the drill. Yesterday afternoon I was crabby and tired and out of sorts, and then last night it was suddenly a full-blown cold, complete with a low-grade fever, cough, rapid-fire sneezing and a runny nose. What fun.

To add to the thrill, the decongestant gives me terrible heartburn. Wahoo.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

The First Drill of 2008

This morning was our first drill this year. I would say it was quite a success - we all worked on the different extrications, practiced with KEDding and rapid trauma takedowns, and in the process ripped to shreds an SUV that the Heavy Rescue guys got from the junk yard. The only downside was feeling a little out-of-sorts when I awoke, but I took an Allegra for allergies and ran across the street.

I've been on plenty of these drills but they are valuable every time. They are educational, fun, work, everything you would want a drill to be. The first set up was a patient in the driver's side, ran into a (what did our Captain say? A water buffalo? I forget. Something outrageous like that). I got right in as I do on all of our Thursday night crew accidents and did head stabilization. I know that I can do that easily, without lifting strain and I know I'm good with patients. One of the Thursday night crew came up on the drivers side and one of the former Tuesday night crew came to the passenger side. We got him on the KED and out of the vehicle.

The second drill was for all crew that did not assist on the first call, so I sat that one out.

The third drill we only had one crew for a two-patient accident, and I did head stabilization on the driver then assisted with the back seat passenger next to me. She did an act of shrieking that was rather impressive, when she wasn't yelling about suing. She really did shriek.

The fourth drill we had an unconsciencious patient in the front passenger side of the SUV, slumped seatbeltless on the dash. The situation was that the drivers side has a vehicle pinned against it and all of the accessible doors are stuck. I (if you can believe it and with a hoist from two big men) climbed into the back of the truck, which was littered with coffee, water, oil, broken glass, other debris. I fell over the back into the passenger back seat, got to the patient, called back that he has an airway and is slightly responsive to sound. I got the extrication blanket, covered the patient and then got in under it behind him. CRASH! and the back window was broken. CRASH! and the front side window was gone.

I waited with the patient under the heavy extrication blanket as they made all kinds of banging noises using the jaws of life to get the door off. I wasn't in there that long, but the blankets are heavy and designed to protect the people under it from flying glass. I was quite overheated when we were done.

We did a couple more drills and the party moved on to have lunch at the squadhouse, but I went home so that Luis and I could head off to collect Ma and see Ray at the rehabilitation facility.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Friends

Tips for the ladies in year 2008

1. Aspire to be Barbie - the bitch has everything
2. If the shoe fits - buy one in every colour
3. Take life with a pinch of salt... A wedge of lime, and a shot of tequila
4. In need of a support group? - Cocktail hour with the girls
5. Go on the 30 day diet. (I'm on it and so far I've lost 15 days)
6. When life gets you down - just put on your big girl panties and deal with it
7. Let your greatest fear be that there is no PMS and this is just your personality
8. I know I'm in my own little world, but it's ok. They know me here
9. Lead me not into temptation, I can find it myself
10. Don't get your knickers in a knot, it solves nothing; and makes you walk funny
11. When life gives you lemons in 2008 - turn it into lemonade then mix it with vodka
12. Remember every good-looking, sweet, single male is someone else's ex-boyfriend!

The Most Gorgeous Shot!

of Baton Rouge! This one is my favourite!


The First Cyclone of 2008

Cyclone Nargis (JTWC designation: 01B, also known as Very Severe Cyclonic Storm Nargis) was a strong tropical cyclone that made landfall in Burma (also known as Myanmar) on May 2, 2008, causing catastrophic destruction and at least 22,980 fatalities with a further 42,119 people still missing, and estimates on the final total of fatalities ranging up to 100,000. However, the Labutta Township alone was reported to have 80,000 dead and some have estimated the death toll may be well over 100,000, with the highest estimates reaching over 600,000.

It is the deadliest named cyclone in the North Indian Ocean Basin, as well as the second deadliest named cyclone of all time, behind Typhoon Nina. Including unnamed storms, Nargis is the 8th deadliest cyclone of all time. Nargis was the first tropical cyclone to strike the country since Cyclone Mala made landfall in 2006.

The first named storm of the 2008 North Indian Ocean cyclone season, Nargis developed on April 27 in the central Bay of Bengal. Initially it tracked slowly northwestward and, encountering favorable conditions, it quickly strengthened. Dry air weakened the cyclone on April 29, though after beginning a steady eastward motion Nargis rapidly intensified to attain peak winds of at least 165 km/h (105 mph) on May 2; the Joint Typhoon Warning Center assessed peak winds of 215 km/h (135 mph). The cyclone moved ashore in the Ayeyarwady Division of Burma near peak intensity and, after passing near the major city of Yangon (Rangoon), the storm gradually weakened until dissipating near the border of Burma and Thailand.
This will drive you nuts!

Make sure you read under the illusion, too.... If your eyes follow the movement of the rotating pink dot, the dots will remain only one color, pink.


However if you stare at the black "+" in the center, the moving dot turns to green.

Now, concentrate on the black "+" in the center of the picture. After a short period, all the pink dots will slowly disappear, and you will only see only a single green dot rotating.

It's amazing how our brain works. There really is no green dot, and the pink ones really don't disappear.

This should be proof enough, we don't always see what we think we see!

Borrow Your Dog?

A woman was leaving a 7-11 store with her morning coffee when she noticed amost unusual funeral procession approaching the nearby cemetery. A long black hearse was followed by a second long black hearse about 50 feet behind. Behind the second hearse was a solitary woman walking a pit bull on a leash. Behind her were 20 women walking single file.


The woman couldn't stand the curiosity. She respectfully approached the woman walking the dog and said "I am so sorry for your loss and I know now is a bad time to disturb you, but I've never seen a funeral like this. Whose funeral is it?"


The woman replied, "Well, that first hearse is for my husband."


"What happened to him?"


The woman replied "My dog attacked and killed him."


She inquired further, "Well, who is in the second hearse?"


The woman answered, "My mother-in-law. She was trying to help my husband when the dog turned on her."


A poignant and thoughtful moment of silence passes between the two women. "Could I borrow that dog?"


"Get in line."

Steve Gilliland - Measured Sucess

by Stephen Gilliland (son of author & professional speaker Steve Gilliland)

I remember growing up hearing my father say things like, "We are responsible for what happens to us, not anyone or anything else." I also have great memories of my father sitting on the deck in the early summer morning reading a book and me curious about what he was reading. The one thing I have never put out of my mind is the day he came home after hearing Charlie Tremendous Jones deliver a keynote speech at a meeting he attended. He was so excited that he showed me his notes and said, "Stephen, check this out!"

"You are the same today that you are going to be in five years from now except for two things: the people with whom you associate and the books you read."

That was the first time, and not the last, I would hear my father repeat Mr. Jones' influential remarks. Years later I now marvel at my father's accomplishments, the books he has written, and the lives he has impacted.

Maybe the most extra special thing about my father is that he has never stopped reading and learning. His library at his home is amazing and includes hundreds of books, cassette tapes, CDs, and DVDs. My father's success isn't measured by the quantity of books he has read, but rather his willingness and ability to use what he learned in the books. It's one thing to be taught something, and another thing to actually use it. If reading diet books made you thin, we'd be the thinnest people in the world.

In other words, measured success is exploiting the ideology you gain knowledge of.

A.W.A.D. - Eponyms

Have you ever read a novel so well-written that the characters came alive? This week's words are about those fictional men and women who have walked off the pages of their books and entered the dictionary. Perhaps it's a testament to the genius of the authors that their imaginary creations are now part of the living language. Let's meet five of these words, also known as eponyms, this week.

lilliputian
(lil-i-PYOO-shuhn) adjective
Very small.
noun
A very small person.

[After Lilliput, a fictional island nation in Jonathan Swift's satirical novel Gulliver's Travels. Everything was diminutive in Lilliput -- its inhabitants were six inches in height.]

pantagruelian
(pan-tuh-groo-EL-ee-uhn) adjective
1. Enormous
2. Displaying extravagant and coarse humor
[After Pantagruel, a giant king with an enormous appetite, depicted in a series of novels by François Rabelais (c. 1490-1553).]

Simon Legree
(SY-muhn li-GREE) noun
A harsh taskmaster

[After Simon Legree, a brutal slave dealer in the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896).]

gargantuan
(gar-GAN-choo-uhn) adjective
Gigantic

[After Gargantua, a voracious giant, the father of Pantagruel, in a series of novels by François Rabelais (c. 1490-1553).]

babbitt
(BAB-it) noun
A self-satisfied narrow-minded person who conforms to conventional ideals of business and material success.

[After the main character in Sinclair Lewis's 1922 novel Babbitt.]

Some Nights The Bear Gets You...

Last night the bear got us.

First call was at 1815; at 2155 we finished with our fourth call. Somewhere in between I ordered dinner, but it came while we were out on calls 3 & 4. All I can say is that it was totally madness. We went to Morristown twice, were presented with two different disgusting things in baggies (I cannot image what possesses people to do this...) and then on the fourth call I was the only one who could communicate at all with the patient. How amazing. No one at work calls on me for my Spanish skills! I'm always relying on others for this!

Well, on our crew (and probably most) I have the best Spanish vocabulary. How funny is that?

It was an interesting night!

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Cool Bumper Stickers

I saw one today that had me laughing out loud:


DON'T STEAL
The government hates competition


I love it! And it is so true. The government pays an outrageous sum of money for a screw driver, raises our taxes by whatever means necessary to pay for it, then doesn't pay the vendor appropriately. How is it that businesses shouldn't operate that way but the government can? It certainly does.


I don't know... if I owned a business and ran it that way, I'd be poor and out on the street. How is it that the government isn't out of business? And it continues to operate this way and seems to hang in there.

A Comment to "A Wake"

Someone that I probably know sent this anonymously:

"Many people miss him too, its a shame though, that now, many have something "nice" to say.. things that should have been said when the dead were living."

I don't know if I had vented about the person who died, but I offered my kidney to him. I don't how much more I could've said to convey my feelings about him. But, this is food for thought.

Ever notice that? Somehow, anytime someone dies, suddenly everyone says all kinds of wonderful things that clearly they did not feel while that party was alive. It is the most common thing and so weird. I see it at every wake and funeral I've been to. Honestly if I felt that way about someone, I would not go to the event - unless it's out of obligation to someone else (like Luis... amazing what we'll put up with for our mates).

What makes us do that? Why is it we were okay if not outright wretched to someone when they're alive but they are dead and what...? Suddenly making brownie points with God? Getting in good with others? Making yourself feel better? Assuaging a guilty conscience? Who knows?

But it happens all the time.

When this person and I were alone, I told him that I enjoyed spending time with him. When we were with others, he'd tease me and I dish it right back out. I'm pleasant to those I work with but don't particularly care for. I'll probably say nice things at their wakes/funerals too (I'd like to say I hope no one else dies but no way to guarantee that - and I'd be an idiot to do so). I don't think I would make up good things to say about them, but everyone - whether I like them or not - has good qualities. And at a wake and/or a funeral, that is really all that anyone says.

I certainly hope anyone who comes to my wake (no funeral please, and an Irish wake is a must!) will joke about my foibles, make fun of me as they did to my face (we all tease each other) and points out whatever good qualities in their eyes that I had!

And, smile when you do it. Or I'll nag you from the spirit world!

A Hoax? Or Just Not So Impressive?

I'M ONE OF THE 55 ARE YOU?

Don't even think about using spell check!

fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too. Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm.

Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod a s a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs forwrad it.
Hard to believe anyone had trouble reading it, myself included - your brain will work with you to make the words all legible, so to write. And I'm not sure that being in a group of 55 out of 100 is anything to write home about at all. If it were 5 out of 100, that would truly be saying something.
People are funny. E-mails are worse!

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

A Perfect Day!

I was up right when the alarm went off. I was showered, shaved, dried and happily ready to go to work right at 0542. I had a perfect drive in this morning, had a nice start to the day; and it just kept getting better and better! I did the Orientation in 45 minutes, half the time I normally Manage it. However, I fumbled and stumbled my way through it instead of being my usual confident self. A little awkward, but still good. And then I set up a new employee and finished the Wachovia stuff and well... the day just kept getting better!

I cam home on my perfect day, picked up some needed groceries across the street, put them away, and then sat in my swinging chair in my newly painted, newly decorated sunroom to finish reading The Clan of the Cave Bear. I wanted to begin reading The Valley of the Horses also by Jean M. Auel, but found only books 3 and 4 - The Mammoth Hunters and The Plains of Passage. Those books are no where near as well written as the first two. Once the main character, Ayla, gets to have sex, then it turns into a cheesy romance book and loses a lot of its value.

So I found The Guardians of the West, book one in a five-book trilogy called The Malloreon by David Eddings. Yes, I know full well what the term "trilogy" means. But he wrote it as a trilogy and it ended up with two more books. Same thing with the series The Belgariad, which started out as three books but ended up as five.

Piers Anthony did that, too. The Incarnations of Immortality series was supposed to be a five-book series: Deat, Time, Fate, War and Nature. He ended up writing two more, Evil and Good. Of them all, For Love of Evil is my favourite followed closely by On a Pale Horse and With a Tangled Skein. All very good books.

The Malloreon should keep me busy for a while, until I can locate The Valley of the Horses. Then I can finish that series.

All in all, though, a perfect day!

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Facebook - Still Trying to Get It

I have it but I still have trouble understanding the appeal of it.


I have something like 20 friends. They are all people that I know, but I don't know if they are all friends the way I look at it. Maybe that is just me. I have some close friends, and many acquaintances, but I would not classify so many people as friends. Some are coworkers, some are from the same school (very few) and some are just people I know. But friends... well, that is different.

Still, it is an interesting concept.

I go on it but other than updating a few things and responding to a couple of e-mails, I don't spend much time on it and still don't really see the immediate value of it.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

A Trip to Lucy's

Lucy is my hair dresser/hair removal technician (how'd ya like that? Technician instead of hairdresser).

I went there at 1100; she got to me at 1120. I sat in the usual chair; she began putting colour in - I asked for darker colour, but she put in a red colour (I like a darker look like burgundy, not red-red). Then she did the streaking and they are not as blonde as last time but they came out rather light. She did darken them. Good thing. It took a little getting used to the last time. I did not want to go through shock again.

Lucy is not merely a hairdresser. She is a virtuoso and clearly loves what she does. She also is a unique person in that she lives a rich fantasy life. But ignoring that, she is fun, upbeat and definitely knows hair - not just cutting it, colouring it but how it functions, grows and the removal of the unwanted hair.

So yesterday was the colouring of my head hair (which I should have had my eyebrows coloured as well... the red in my hair does not match my normally-dark brows (at least I'm not blonde with black brows - that looks perfectly awful). But anyway, she dyed my hair and while the strips of hair were being bleached to streak (add highlightes) to the front, we went into the small waxing room. The legs are funny - certain parts are more sensitive than others. The mid-thigh area and front of the lower legs are sensitive - but the backs of the legs are okay. However, the bikini line - YOW! Stars. It lasts a split second, otherwise no one'd do it more than once. But that split second is really an eye opener! Or maybe an eye-squeezer.

The armpits have gotten easier and easier this was only my third time getting them waxed. I imgine that that area will continue to get easier.

The eyebrows are a funny thing. They can be easy, but the reaction is instinctive and I can't really control it. Lucy reacts as one would to a child that has to get a shot - which is nice - but it really isn't that bad. It's just a natural reaction to flinch immediately following the ghastly feeling of the hair and wax ripping off. She feels bad, as though she is inflicting terrible pain. But it really isn't that so much as - I think - the proximity to my eyes which is very disturbing to anyone. Like trying to pet a strange cat's belly.

This eyebrow waxing wasn't as good as last time - shape-wise. They are more trim but not as well shaped as last time. But my armpits and legs feel great. Smooooooooth! Delightful. I will tell you right now that seven weeks is way too long to wait.

I'm going back on 31 May. I imagine that I will be fairly hairless in Houston. That works for me. I'm hoping we will go swimming. It will likely be hot enough.

Anyway, we shall see. At any rate, I think better time management is in order... four hours at Lucy's was too long.

Describe Me in One Word - Part 2

One friend sent me this:

"Beautiful!"

Beloved Bean, thank you. That one word means more to me than all the others put together. I cried when I read that. One word reduced me to tears. One lovely word.

This Scares Me

OK. I want to be more open-minded, I really do. I'd like to say that Christians are okay in my book. It seems that while there are many who are okay in my book, there are many - like this image evidences - that aren't.



Not for nothing... but when is the last time you saw a bumper sticker raving about Judaism? How about a bumper sticker that boasts "my Allah is better than yours"? Wiccans, by way of contrast to other religions, but similar to Christians, have a multitude of bumper stickers. Wicca is the closest I get to being religious at all but the fact is that I'm never going to be permanently aligned to any religious group. I feel too strongly that people screw up the best part of religion and turn it into an agenda - for whatever reason.

So this isn't me. And as much as I smile and am amused by Wiccan bumper stickers (my favourite is my other vehicle is a broom) I suddenly find, thinking on it, that if Christian bumper stickers scare me, all religiously tilted bumper stickers should have the same effect.

It's true: no Jewish stickers, no Buddhist, Muslim, Zoroasters or Hindi stickers abound on any vehicles. Makes me wonder. It makes me wonder if any religion where there is a need to market it has intrinsic issues. Serious intrinsic issues. The Catholic church bothers me due to the power it wields. I happen to enormous believe that church and state need to be terribly separate. And I'm not the only one. Even my paranoid father-outlaw feels strongly that church and state should be very separate. Imagine if they ceased to be that way. I don't want the Catholic church dictating how I should live - legally. No thank you.

And since most religious people I've met firmly believe that theirs is the only right religion I will continue to feel as I do. Somehow it is staggering how in a world of 3,000 practiced religions, most will only consider their own as right.

Catholics bombing places that perform abortions
Mormons marrying children to beget more children
Muslims killing others to get the 77 virgins in heaven (or wherever they go)
Jewish people wanting to hunt down ex-Nazis
Nazis - at all - existing
Three major religions fighting over a parcel of land in the middle East

The whole thing about Jeruselem is disturbing. Beyond all belief it is. How can all these people who have very similar belief systems all fight and kill each other over a bit of wind-dusted land that is the Holy Land. Somehow I don't think any God/Allah/Jehovah is happy about this and egging on one group saying, "Go get 'em!"

And if you do, think this through more.

Intelligence is not a matter of knowing what E=MC2 means - I know what it means (energy = mass celeritas [speed of light in a vacuum] - betcha didn't think I knew that, eh?). So what? All of that is not worth a hill of beans. Intelligence is one's ability to learn through thinking and extrapolation of data. I liked Wiccan bumper stickers up until 15 mintues ago. And I hated Christian ones. Now I know better - it is all bad news.

Bumper stickers against Bush, well, I'll always support those. Bumper stickers that tell others that they love dogs, cats, mice, rainbows, bands, sunshine, their country of origin (without knocking another's), or slogans reading, "Life is good" are great! Load them up! My car has a few stickers: two for work (which I am very proud of having), one that reads "RUS", one that reads "IRE", one that has NJEMT, one with Car 66, and my license plate frame reads "my other vehicle is an ambulance". I just bought a new one today: "life is good".

Life is good. And not because people read the Bible or the Talmud or anything. It is what you make it - not what God makes it for you. God doesn't work that way; that tie that binds us together is based on free will. You have to face your problems. You have to face your fears. And you have to be the one who thinks and realises that what you've thought has been wrong and then make that change to the better, the more positive.

People are wonderful and not because they are or are not Christian, Wiccan, Jewish, Muslim, Ubantu, Africaans, Pilgrims, Amish, whatever - country of origin, religion, this is not what makes me me. I have that control. I make me the best me that I can be.

Can This Be May?

I'm not entirely sold...

I'm a little bit worried, but not unduly so, about Ray. I know that hip surgery is a very common procedure. I know that the hospital he is going to is one of the best around. I know they will make every effort.

Any way you slice it, one of my best friends, and my father, is going in for major surgery.

Harry is my father and I love him dearly. But Ray has been in my life for all of it, not just a part of my childhood and the last two years of my adult life. The relationship is different. It's deeper and we spend time together every weekend. We go out to eat together and we run our errands together. He is the only person who has ever gotten me to watch a televised sporting event. I hugged him today impulsively. I'll hug him again when I take him to Hackensack Hospital where I will be waiting for him get out of recovery and into his room. He can be a little flaky when he comes out of anethesia, so it may be weird; been there and done that. I must have posted about this in November 2006 when he had the emergency knee surgery.

Well. I still have tomorrow to spend with Ray. And I'll see him around 0500 on Monday until 0730 or so when he goes into surgery. As usual, I'll ask to see the surgery and they'll say no, but then I will ask them to take pictures and they probably will. Life... is good. Someday I will get some doctor to let me see a procedure happen! I keep asking - someone's gotta say yes!

The life of the EMT - so close but so far away!

I told Ray that after he gets the other hip done, this is it. No more medical... anything! No more.

Guess we will see.

And by the way, what is up with this perfectly abysmal weather? The springtime gods loved us last week and hate us this one. There were a few golden moments of sunshine, but mostly it has been rainy and overcast and blimey, it's been cold. How is this May? March I might buy, but this can't be May.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Spring (Rammstein, not the Season)

This is a great song, and its mother language is German. But not to worry, I have the translation (as good or not as it may be) handy! And no, they are not singing about the season... not that it is anything to sing about now.

Auf einer Brücke ziemlich hoch
Hält ein Mann die Arme auf
Da steht er nun und zögert noch
Die Menschen strömen gleich zuhauf
Auch ich lass mir das nicht entgehen
Das will ich aus der Nähe sehen
Ich stell mich in die erste Reihe
und schreie

Der Mann will von der Brücke steigen
Die Menschen fangen an zu hassen
Bilden einen dichten Reigen
Und wollen ihn nicht nach unten lassen
So steigt er noch mal nach oben
Und der Mob fängt an zu toben
Sie wollen seine Innereien
Und schreien

Spring
Erlöse mich
Spring
Enttäusch mich nicht
Spring für mich
Spring ins Licht
Spring

Jetzt fängt der Mann zu weinen an
Heimlich schiebt sich eine Wolke
fragt sich Was hab ich getan
vor die Sonne es wird kalt
Ich wollte nur zur Aussicht gehen
die Menschen laufen aus den Reihen
und in den Abendhimmel sehen
Und sie schreien

Spring
Sie schreien
Spring
Erlöse mich
Spring

Enttäusch mich nicht
Spring für mich
Spring ins Licht
Spring

Heimlich schiebt sich eine Wolke
vor die Sonne es wird kalt
Doch tausend Sonnen brennen nur für dich
Ich schleich mich heimlich auf die Brücke
Tret ihm von hinten in den Rücken
Erlöse ihn von dieser Schmach
und schrei ihm nach

Spring
Spring
Erlöse dich
Spring
Enttäusch mich nicht
Spring für mich
Spring
Enttäusch mich nicht

The unofficial translation into English:

On a bridge, quite high
A man holds his arms open
There he stands and still hesitates
Right away the people swarm in droves
I won't miss out on it either
I want to see it up close
I get into the first row
And scream

The man wants to climb from the bridge
The people begin to hate
They form a dense crowd
And don't want to let him down
So he climbs back up
And the mob begins to rage
They want his innards
And scream

Jump
Redeem me
Jump
Don't disappoint me
Jump for me
Jump into the light
Jump

Now the man begins to cry
A cloud moves in secret
Asking himself what have I done
in front of the sun, it gets cold
I just wanted to see the view
the people break ranks
and look into the evening sky
And they scream

Jump
They scream
Jump
Redeem me
Jump
Don't disappoint me
Jump for me
Jump into the light
Jump

A cloud moves in secret
in front of the sun, it gets cold
But a thousand suns burn just for you
I creep onto the bridge in secret
and kick him in the back from behind
I redeem him from this shame
and I scream to him

Jump
Jump
Redeem yourself
Jump
Don't disappoint me
Jump for me
Jump
Don't disappoint me

A.W.A.D. - Words Derived from Names of Mythical Creatures

So many mythological animals live on in literature, in our minds, and in our imagination, that they would fill a virtual zoo.

Because these creatures are myths, they're not bound by biological rules. Sometimes they're part human, part animal. They could have a human head and an animal body, or vice versa.

These permutations and combinations of body parts make it look as though the gods were playing a mix-n-match game of combining parts to make composites. At times, one of these mythical animals had more than a single head.

Enjoy looking at the menagerie this week and feel free to use their attributes metaphorically in situations in your life.

chimera
(ki-MEER-uh, ky-) noun
1. A fanciful fabrication; illusion
2. An organism having genetically different tissues

[After Chimera, a fire-breathing female monster in Greek mythology who had a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail. From Greek khimaira (she-goat), ultimately from the Indo-European root ghei- (winter) that is the ancestor of words such as chimera (literally a female animal that is one winter, or one year old), hibernate, and the Himalayas, from Sanskrit him(snow) + alaya (abode).]

argus
(AHR-guhs) noun
An alert and observant person; a watchful guardian

[After Argus, a giant in Greek mythology who had 100 eyes and was sent to watch over Zeus's lover Io. He was killed by Hermes and after his death his eyes transformed into spots on the peacock's tail. Greek argos (bright).]

centaur
(SEN-tor) noun
1. An expert horse rider
2. An unnatural creation made of disparate entities

[After Centaur, a race of monsters having the torso of a human and lower body of a horse. Also, early Greek literature depicted Centaurs as a tribe from Thessaly whose members were skilled horse riders.]

sphinx
(sfingks) noun
A mysterious, inscrutable person

[After Sphinx, a winged monster in Greek mythology who had a woman's head and a lion's body. It killed anyone who was not able to answer its riddle. From Greek sphinx (literally, strangler), from sphingein (to bind tight), also the source of the word sphincter.]

harpy
(HAR-pee) noun
1. A predatory person
2. A bad-tempered woman

[After the Harpies, monsters in Greek mythology, who had a woman's head and a bird's body. The gods ordered them to snatch food from Phineus, a king who was punished for revealing secrets. From Greek harpazein (to snatch).]