Monday, 30 June 2008

The Last Day of June

Somehow, everytime a landmark moment or time comes up, we find ourselves saying, "Whoa - how'd it get to be July already? Where'd the time go?"

Do you know where your time went?

I used to wonder where time went, as well. Now I value my time much more highly. I use a planner for work but still - without writing it down - have plenty of "me" time and "us" time for Luis and myself. I definitely parcel out my time well. I've gotten better at monitoring my time at work. When I was first at this job, I would struggle all day with the payroll. That was my Monday and sometimes, some of my Tuesday.

Now, I get in around 0600 - today I got in late (I set my alarm for 1630 instead of 0430 - oops) - and immediately go through a series of "start the day" items. Breakfast first; I have never been able to forego breakfast and today is no different. I made myself a slab of ham steak and ate. Then I set up the TO DO items for today and moved any items from last week that did not get done. After that, I arranged my paperwork to reflect the organiser's set up. This is my morning ritual.

Next I go collect my weekend mail (incuding any forms dropped off for me), get any voicemail off of the VM system, and then go through my e-mail to see what timekeeping changes I need to make. I then weed through the 175 or so hourly employees' electronic time cards to see what punches I'm missing. Some managers are excellent about the monitoring of this; others, not as much. They all do something, and make the effort at least. I can't always ask for more than that.

That takes about an hour, maybe a little less. I then begin getting the information I need (if I can) from the schedules (another fun area...), then from the managers themselves. I'm lucky in that when it comes to the biggest department, 1. the main crews are all on the same schedule and 2. the administrator in this department is really great at dealing with this. So I have excellent help there. But they are not the most difficult department to monitor for missed punches. It's the Dining Room department - and that is just the way life is. There are set schedules but they change frequently due to member needs/event needs and while their start times are consistent 90% of the time, their end times really cannot be so rigid.

That is no one's fault and I will publicly say that the poor guy stuck with the joys of scheduling this sticky wicket does an EXCELLENT job. This is the hardest schedule to do and anyone will tell you that NONE of them are easy to do! So don't think for a moment I am complaining about the way that department is for timekeeping. This is in better shape than when I started and it is running much more smoothly than it used to. But there are too many unknown quanitities to events and happy partying people.

Back to my Monday: By the time I've done my morning ablutions and have weeded through the GenPro program to see what is good (most of it) and what has question marks, I then log into Ceridian and enter any information that needs to go in there - such as direct deposit information, a new hire, setting up all the new enrollees into the 401(k) --

YAYYYYYAAAAAAAHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

I'm sorry, but that had to be done. It really did! I've had a dozen or so die-hard, I-won't-do-this employees who mistrust the 401(k) plan. I've spent one-on-one time with all of them and have slowly won them all over! Not all - but many more. The last list was 11 people who have been listed in the plan, plus the eight that are eligible to join now (for 1 July). Of the eight, only two forms are missing. One person I know really wants to be contributing; the other I just don't know. But of the 11 hold-outs, I have four of them coming to me to get into the plan! WAHOO!!

Oh, yes... I don't focus so well at this time of night. Back to my Monday...

By 0845 I'm ready to run the payroll and log in to the correct place. I upload the mecessary file and *poof*, just like that, all the employees hours and such showed up. Gotta love that. I had to enter this in once by manual methods - Shiver -never good.

By 0950, I have payroll completed and in the Controller's hands, along with the Driving Range reports. I also do the 401(k) upload, fill in 75% of the Scheduled vs Worked Hours report, finish updating the managemant time and the Benefits paid reports, as well as upload Pangburn's report.

I also distribute the hourly reports to each manager and file away my copies.

Tuesday is for normal work and then when the payroll arrives (usually late morning) I need about 90 minutes to complete the scheduled vs worked hours report, the Payroll Taxes report and the Kitchen comparison. First thing in the morning, however, I go through GenPro and perform weekly maintenance on it.

Saturday 9: In the Mood

1. Are you and your current lover (or most recent) always on the same page on sex?

Sometimes yes, sometimes not so much. We both are definitely looking for an orgasm! But the route taken is sometimes the disagreement.

2. If you had your way would you have sex more or less frequently?

More frequently! What else? I am a 40-year-old woman with no children! My body is my own worst enemy! It is pumping out 50,000,000 ppm of pheromones in an effort to get me into the procreational mode (thank you, Big Bad Pharmaceutical!). I want to get laid ALL THE TIME!

3. Have you ever been asked to do something sexually but refused?

Yes, anal sex. Some things are not meant to be, and this I know from experience. I also was asked by a very close friend if I wanted to sleep... with her. Much as I love my friends, I'm not even mildly curious about sexually encountering other women. It doesn't spark any reaction in me at all. So I apologised, said that this was certainly the highest compliment that I'd been paid, but I'm really strictly for men.

4. Have you ever asked a lover to do something sexually but they refused?

Oh, yes. Luis will not consent to a three-way - him, another guy and me. I have zero expectation of the guys doing anything at all to each other. None. But I want to be serviced by two men. You can imagine how well that went over.

5. How long do you wait when meeting some new to have sex?

That depends on the guy. And what my expectations are out of the relationship. I have had a one-night stand, which certainly serves a purpose. On the other hand, I feel friendship is more key to a good relationship of any kind, so usually there is a wait involved.

6. Have you ever engaged in a sexual act while driving an automobile?

Yes, but I have to say that as much fun as it was, it certainly wasn't safe. I also did something blatantly sexual to the driver (a couple of different drivers) and again, fun but not at all safe.

7. Have you regretted having sex with someone?

Sure. Doesn't everyone do that once?

Of course, this defies the imagination. This was a million years ago. I don't remember his name. But we had been out on a few dates, had a lot of fun, then got to the let's-sleep-together-stage. Oh, my goodness. When I first had sex, I was so tight, I could not understand how anyone found this to be fun. This guy was maybe my third sex partner. He was about 6'5" - definitely met the height requirement. But his penis - ye gods! It was tiny. Absolutely teeny. I never believed that size made a difference until then.

8. Are you and your current/most recent partner in the mood at the same time?

Most of the time, yes. But we negotiate when one is and one isn't.

9. When was the last time you had sex?

Saturday morning. We are overdue in my mind.

The Best and The Worst

1. What was the best thing that happened to you this week?

Sitting with my manager was the absolutely best thing that happened. Absolutely! (I have to use last week, as this week is only one day old!)

2. What was the worst thing that happened this week?

I'm thinking... I don't know. I can't think of anything really bad. That's good, right?

3. Describe an item of clothing that has definitely seen better days but that you refuse to dispose of and still wear. Why won't you toss it?

I have a dress with spaghetti straps, buttons down the front that flares out and looks great with a little shirt under it (otherwise the decolletage is too low). It's a little worn, but mostly the issue is one of size, not worn-ness. I love it. Once I get down to the right size, then I will wear it - all the time!

4. Have you ever lied about your age?

Never. I never drank so there was no reason to lie about it then. My grandmother used to say that she was "39 and holding" to everyone. Did she really think that none of us could guess at her true age? Once when I was 12 we had to give the hospital staff information on my grandfather and that inevitable means date of birth. She gave the administrator his day and month but not the year, so naturally the admin prompted her for the year of birth. My grandmother looked at me and back at her/him. Clearly the message was meaningless to the staff or they did not care, because I had no trouble discerning the whispered year. It did take me a while to do the math, however!

Long story short: lying about one's age is a stupid and pointless thing. I'm not deluded to my aging.

5. Would you rather be behind the scenes or in the spotlight?

Hard to give one definitive answer for this. Sometimes I am very happy to be behind the scenes and not be noticed at all and other times I absolutely want to be in the limelight! It is a situational thing, and so cannot be answered as a general question. At least, not by me!

6. Where was your first out-of-country trip? How was it?

My first and only out of country trip was to the British Isles. How was it? I'd max the space out on my blog if I tired to tell all about how unbelievably amazing it was!

7. Do you like surprises? If yes what kinds? If no, why not?

Again, situational. I do love surprise gifts. I don't know about other surprises. Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

8. Have you ever had sex with two different people on the same day?

Yes. Clean up is very important. And no, not at the same time.

9. Which do you prefer, the sunrise or the sunset?

Oh, sunrise, definitely. Both are beautiful. But the sunrise is a new start, a fresh beginning. We all need those.

Saturday 9: Out to Lunch

1. When you go to a restaurant do you tip better if the server is good-looking?

Not unless he knows service well. It doesn't matter if he looks like Richard Gere. If the service is terrible, that is the only matter in the table for discussion.

2. Have you ever asked anyone to turn off their cellphone in public because it bothered you?

Yes. I hate the bloody things.

3. Is your noon meal called "lunch" or "dinner?"

I always called it lunch but some people call it dinner. My grandmother called the Sunday midday meal "dinner" - usually around 1400, not 1200. I never understand that.

4. Do you generally make reservations first?

Not usually. Depends on the place. If it is a place where there is commonly a long wait, then yes. More often than not, we prefer to eat early.

5. Do you ask for a booth or a table?

Usually a booth, for better back and butt support. Those chairs are often designed by Torquemada.

6. Do you ask for a doggie bag?

If I need one, which is often the case. The funny thing is that I won't eat reheated food. I read too much, I know what grows on leftovers that is not visible to the naked eye.

7. Would you complain to the management if there were children crying nearby?

I haven't complained to the management. What the heck are they going to do? I do try to get seated away from small fry, however. I do admittedly shoot dirty glances at the parents. You can't pin this on the kid(s). Eating out is boring and usually difficult on many levels for children. But parents who don't parent make me completely crazy. At least make the effort!

8. Have you ever sent food back?

Yes. Twice. Believe me, I was right to do so.

9. Do you find servers singing "Happy Birthday" cute or annoying?

Annoying when places sing it in their own twisted way!

Saturday 9: Tattoo You

1. Have you ever had a tattoo?

I have only had henna, no tattoos. I've thought about it... so, if I were to have one...

2. Was it hidden or visible?

It would be on my shoulder. Small but not totally hidden.

3. Flowers or skulls?

Neither. I want an OM.

4. Do tattoos on other people bother you?

No, not at all.

5. Would you date someone with a tattoo?

Aboslutely. I have already.

6. Would you hire someone with a tattoo?

You do realise it is really considered illegal to use that as a consideration; however, it depends on the situation, too. I have no issue with hiring people tattooed, but they cannot be visible to the membership. We have had (and for all I know, have now) management with tattoos. At least one could not wear a short-sleeved shirt. It's a pity, too, as the artwork was really nice.

7. Would you read a blogger with a tattoo?

Yah, of course. Why not?

8. Fess up.....What does your tattoo look like?

I still haven't worked up the courage...! One of these days.

9. Does your mother have a tattoo?

No, and she's never even considered it.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

The Abuse of the Apostrophe

I have seen this time and again, from the management right on down. To finally see this addressed is a delight. See the AWAD Newsletter from this week:

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)Subject: apostrophe catastrophe
The apostrophe hit the nerve. It inspired some to poetry, others to vent their discomfort with this often-misplaced mark, and some declared it's time to retire the sign. Here's a selection of your responses:

Many years ago, my sister was regularly finding a small, black cat on her porch. The cat was friendly and affectionate so she assumed it was someone's pet. Inquiries around the neighbourhood, however, did not turn up an owner, just others who were also feeding the cat whenever it appeared. One rainy evening, my sister brought the cat in and decided she was going to keep it.
Holding the cat aloft and looking it in the eye she mused aloud, "What am I going to call you?"
Her husband responded. "Call it Apostrophe."
"Apostrophe!! Why?"
"'Cause it's small and black... and somebody left it out."
Princess Apostrophe (known as 'Triffy') became a much cherished member of the family.
-Nancy MacPhee (neansaioui aol.com)

The best yet is asparagu's in a store in Melbourne Australia called Rods Fruit & Veg. I guess he had an apostrophe left over from the business name and found a home for it among the asparagus. I sort of understood his logic -- Rod had one bunch of asparagus for $1.80 and three bunches of asparagu's for $4.
-Rob Lake (lake orex.com.au)

I had to laugh at today's entry on the misuse of the apostrophe. Biking to work recently I had a moment of scorn followed closely by self-doubt after seeing a bumper sticker that said "No Worry's". My first reaction was one of disdain over the fact that a bumper sticker could get through the concept, production, marketing, sale, and purchase phases of commerce without anyone's noticing and correcting this third-grade error. But then again, perhaps it was a subtle and clever jab at people like me who would get bent out of shape about this inappropriate use of the possessive?
-Cecilia Moens (cmoens fhcrc.org)

I'm a resident of Wilmington Delaware, home of the Minor League Baseball Blue Rocks. I hold my bladder as long as possible to avoid going into a room marked "MENS". I've threatened to bring in my own apostrophes but the signs don't look as if they'd accept editing.
-Van Olmstead (vandy olmstead.net)

I often see apostrophes inserted in ad copy in newspapers and flyers, and that's when my patience runs out. I made up a fake organization called the "American Association Against Apostrophe Abuse" (AAAA) and I send a "citation" letter to the abuser. Here is an example:
You are hereby cited for apostrophe abuse. This dangerous predilection to use apostrophes to make plural forms of singular common nouns and even proper names is rending asunder the very fabric of civilized American society. Unless we take a stand against these flagrant, senseless, and random acts of apostrophe insertion, our children will grow up to be ignorant of the power of words and the rule of grammatical law as we know it.
-Ken Bus (kenbus50 aol.com)

After reflexively correcting people who should know better that there is no apostrophe in the title of James Joyce's last novel, Finnegans Wake, I came up with this:
I am pedantically obligated to state
that there is no apostrophe in Finnegans Wake,
by Jame's Joyce, author of Dubliner's and Ulysse's.
-Tim Szeliga (timbabwe gmail.com)

This week's concern for the lost or misplaced apostrophe brought to mind a scene in the Newberry Medal book, The Higher Power of Lucky. The knot-obsessed Lincoln borrows Lucky's marker to add a colon to the sign,
SLOW
CHILDREN
AT
PLAY
"Wow," she said. "That is presidential." Such a good book. I wept just looking for this page.
-Sheridan Phillips (sheridan.phillips mac.com)

Many years ago while working at Whole Foods Market, I saw where a clerk had written a sign reading: "Bagel's 50 cents". I said to him, "You have 'Bagels' as a plural, not as a possessive. There shouldn't be an apostrophe!" To which he haughtily replied, "I went to a Catholic School. We didn't have bagels there."
-Nan Parati (nanparati aol.com)

This reminds me of this delightful website quotation-marks.blogspot.com dealing with another common (and humorous) punctuation problem.
-Pam Henager (phenager charter.net)

I'm conservative (grammatically) and what gives me fits isthe proliferation of apostrophesin plurals and itses.
-Mary Most (marymost msn.com)

Here in Australia there are there are no apostrophes in official place names. According to the website of The Committee for Geographical Names in Australia, this is to make it easier for emergency services to find place names in searchable databases. Where historically apostrophes have been used, they should be deleted, we are told. So we have, for example, Howes Valley, Kings Cross and Ladys Pass. Is this the case in other countries?I see no problem in omitting apostrophes: we don't pronounce them in speech, and that doesn't cause ambiguity or misunderstanding.
-Paul Dudley (paul.dudley bigpond.com.au)

Jeff Deck, founder of the Typo Elimination Advancement League, completed a coast-to-coast circuit of the US five weeks ago, correcting hundreds of misplaced apostrophes on public notices. You may like to read a story I wrote about his commendable crusade, published by the South Korean citizen reporters' journal OhmyNewsInternational
-Eric Shackle (eshackle ozemail.com.au)

My dad was an old-school grammarian who often lamented the misuse of punctuation among other abuses of the language. He would have loved the term "greengrocer's apostrophe" as shown by one of his favorite stories: Back in the days when grocery stores advertised their sales with large writing right on the store windows, he noticed with dismay a grocer's big sale of "DUCK'S! CHICKEN'S! TURKEY'S!" Another passerby, quite inebriated, had also taken note -- and offense! -- and, swaying and staring fixedly at the abomination, the man crossed the street, took out his handkerchief and carefully wiped off all the apostrophes. "I could have kissed him!" was the way my dad always ended the tale.
-Laurie Kaniarz (lauriszka chartermi.net)

I feel for the apostrophe. It has often been a problem for me. Computer systems of the '70s would not recognize it; those of today do. So I'm known as: Ray Oleary, Ray O. Leary, or Ray O'Leary. In some cases I get three times the normal junk mail.
-Ray O'Leary (roleary sandc.com)

As you can see, my name includes an apostrophe and it frequently creates problems for me. Computer programmers must either not like it or, like the greengrocer, not know how to use it. Most on-line forms will not accept it, spitting my name back and indicating there is an unknown symbol that must be corrected. Frequently instructions will ask you to leave it out. Leave it out? As my older brother says, computers are the new Ellis Island.
-Kathleen O'Connor (koconnor lasell.edu)

I live in St. Johns County, Florida, which is on the banks of the St. Johns River. People are constantly adding an apostrophe in our names, thinking they are doing a good deed in using the possessive form. But according to Flagler College History Professor Dr. Thomas Graham, the Department of the Interior's Board of Geographic Names stated in 1932 that in general, the genitive case would not be used.
"The rationale is that the Department of the Interior does not wish to raise the question of ownership implied with use of the possessive form of names, but simply to label geographic places," Dr. Graham said. "Presumably the federal government does not want to offer any encouragement for Saint John to return and claim riparian rights to his river." The only two exceptions are Ike's Creek, NJ and Martha's Vineyard, Mass.
-Patricia Ponder (gotlucky earthlink.net)

I'm not sure how long the term "greengrocer's apostrophe" has been in use, but I find it quite offensive, as its purpose is to make fun of less-educated people who don't know how to use apostrophes correctly. I say this as the proud granddaughter of an illiterate immigrant greengrocer who struggled with English and worked harder than I ever will to put five children through college. Eventually, his youngest daughter (my mother) taught him to write his own name. Without his determination, drive, and courage, I would not have had the privilege of going to college and becoming one of those people who use apostrophes correctly. I'm sure many of your readers have a similar person to thank for helping them get where they are today.
-Clare Cross (cdcross58 hotmail.com)

Among several apostrophe sites and blogs out there, this one apostropheabuse.com features photos of the mangled signage and other public notices out there with misplaced squiggles.
-Larry Ray (callball bellsouth.net)

The signs around here are not only missing an apostrophe, they read "Please drive careful" leaving me to wonder who "careful" is and why I should drive him or her anywhere!-Teresa Stephenson (stephenson.teresa gmail.com)

You mentioned "greengrocer's apostrophe". How about another all-too-common symbol crime, which could be called "merchant's decimal". When I see a sign saying, ".33c (cents sign) each," I'm tempted to plunk down a penny and say, "I'll take three. Keep the change."
-Pam Jones (pjkodi juno.com)

As a Grammar Grouch who is usually extremely compulsive about such issues, I have actually decided that we'd all be better off without the apostrophe. Too many people are ignorant of its proper use, and I'm sure we'd all understand this paragraph without it.
-Susan K. Morrow (smorrow wordsarewe.com)

I have been so annoyed about this that I have written a poem: (to the meter of "Trees, "with apologies to Joyce Kilmer)

I think that I shall never again see
a properly used apostrophe
The glyph that floats high in the air
falls to the word, but who knows where?

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God seems to know
how to use the apostrophe.
-Jan McConnell (treagle comcast.net)

Apostrophe abuse: surely the most irksome of all grammatical errors. I first became aware of it in South Africa, where I saw a second-hand car yard advertising "Cars's for sale". That was when I started photographing instances of abuse, just for fun. I had several hundred - until a computer crash. The most egregious of all -- and I watched this happen -- was made by an erstwhile manager, who was writing the name of a client on a planning board. The client was written up as Thoma's. No amount of persuasion was going to change the manager's mind. I left the job soon after.
-David Hatchuel (dayvon ihug.co.nz)

The same phenomenon exists in German, too. It occurrs in native German as well as English since many words and expressions in advertisements, banners etc. are (wrongly) taken over from English. There's a whole bunch of websites collecting photos of Deppenapostrophen (fool's apostrophes). Here's a meta-link deppenapostroph.de to the collections.
-Ulrich Schaefer (ulrich deppenapostroph.de)

Think of the ink we could save by using apostrophes as they were intended (to indicate omitted letters)! So how about extending this to silent letters? For example ni't for night, and tho't for thought? Pretty soon people would stop placing the apostrophes and we could have phonetic spelling -- or nits for nights.
-Carol Mone' (cemone humboldt1.com)

Imagine my horror when I realized I had married a man who, although very well read, absolutely could not grasp the proper use of an apostrophe. Not only that, but he assumed that a comma was interchangeable with an apostrophe. To make things worse, he often made the sale signs that his retail store used! It wasn't uncommon to see "carpet,s for sale". I always knew when he'd been on the job!
By the way, your emails have helped elevate the vocabularies of my unsuspecting coworkers here. For example, the ladies in my department are now proud to announce that they are not just bubbling over with enthusiasm (they sing a lot -- we work at a bank -- go figure), but they are "ebullient"!
-LaRonda Bourn (lbourn citizensmn.com)

The ramp to my exit of the turnpike splits into two lanes just before crossing under an overpass. The warning sign preceding the split instructed you to "use both lanes" which if you did, as opposed to using either lane, would cause you to crash into the wall holding up the overpass. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the sign is no longer there, but I still recall it fondly each time I exit the turnpike. Almost makes the toll worth it!
-Lisa Leff (lsgleff aol.com)

Why does that annoy me so: the plural 's and the possessive s? People think I'm pretty petty for caring about such things. And it's a linguistic rule that if something is improperly left out it will, as you point out, appear somewhere it doesn't belong.

Besides your example of the apostrophe s versus no apostrophe, John F. Kennedy used to say cah for car, and that mysterious r appeared in a surprise location. He said "Cuber ought" (to do such and such) instead of Cuba ought. It never fails.
-Ken Genest (ken.sharongenest sbcglobal.net)

Oh, speaking of the "greengrocer's apostrophe" I am not so sure that is so much incorrect as misinterpreted. If you replace the sign "Apple's $2/lb" with the sentence "The apple's price is two dollars per pound" it makes sense. And that is what the sign is really saying, after all. Though in that case "Apples' $2/lb" would probably be better. Either way is still looks clumsy to me.
-Skip Huffman (skip loraxhaven.net)

The misuse of the apostrophe has been a pet peeve for many years. In fact, while I was teaching in high school, I wrote my own epitaph:

Here lies Sue,
She didn't die from disease,
She died while teaching
The apostrophes!
-Susan Frank (sfrank2 cfl.rr.com)

I hope you will recognize that there is an effort to get away from using the possessive form of medical eponyms (e.g. Down syndrome, Tourette syndrome). While the possessive form remains acceptable, the AAMT (American Association for Medical Transcription) and the AMA (American Medical Association) as well as major medical dictionaries recommend omission of the apostrophe with eponyms. Note: when eponyms appear without a noun (such as disease or syndrome), it is recommended that the possessive be retained (e.g., The patient is seen for Alzheimer's).
-Davi-Ellen Chabner (meddavi aol.com), author, The Language of Medicine, 8th edition

Saturday 9: The Last Person

1. Who was the last person you spoke with?

Luis, my husband - he's right here.

2. Who was the last person you saw at work?

Danny Kilpatrick, who is always fun.

3. Who was the last person to comment on your blog?

Mary (CrystalChick). She is always commenting and it's always fun to see what she has to say!

4. Who was the last person that you wrote a post about?

Ummmm, I'm not sure. I've been answering a million memes.

5. Who was the last person that you emailed?

The last person I e-mailed was Mary.

6. Who was the last person that you phoned?

The last person I called was Ray.

7. Who was the last person to give you bad advice?

The last person to give me bad advice? Goodness... I'm not sure. I get a lot of it.

8. Who was the last person to give you good advice?

Nancy. She always has good advice.

9. Who was the last person that you kissed?

The last person I kissed was my father when I left to come home.

Saturday 9: I Had An Accident

1. Have you ever been in a serious accident? If not, how about any accident?

Yes, I was in one serious accident. I was struck by an SUV while on foot. I suspect that qualifies for anyone. I'm lucky to be alive and I know it.

2. Have you ever been ticketed for an accident and if so did you pay it or fight it?

No, I have never been ticketed for an accident and if I was and I was guilty, I would not fight it.

3. What kind of insurance do you have and would you recommend it to your friends?

I have State Farm. I don't know if I would recommend any of them... they are all bad news in this state. I have great insurance because I am: 1. 40 years old 2. have no accidents in my history 3. have no points or tickets 4. I'm CEVO certified.

4. Did the accident cause you to change the way you drive?

It made me a very nervous driver and passenger. I hate what that person took away from me.

5. Did you need a rental car? If so, did you get a better car or worse one than you had? If not, what did you do for transportation?

I did need a rental car and had one for a week or two. I had a loaner car for about two years from a friend who has a dealership. Then I got my car.

6. Have any of the mishaps you've experienced with your vehicles given you impressions of the quality or safety of certain vehicles?

Some vehicles are safer than others. All SUVs are dangerous and most SUV drivers are too stupid to be allowed to live. Actually most drivers in general are too stupid for words.

7. Have you had to hire an attorney due to an accident?

No.

8. When in an accident were you alone, with someone, with your children, etc. Did that make a difference in the situation?

I was not with any family, however, I was with a really adorable and wonderful police officer who is my hero. Did it make a difference? It did to me. I was scared shitless after the accident and that man was so helpful and so on the ball.

9. Finally, if you could drive any vehicle you wanted, what would it be?

Mine. I love my car. It is cool, it is sexy and it is very safe.

Saturday 9: A Movie, Telly, Music, Actors & Idol

1. What is the most recent movie you’ve watched with someone?

Luis and I saw Sex and the City the most recently in the movies. My father and I watched The Bucket List together last time (Friday).

2. What is currently your favorite TV show?

Boston Legal, Men in Trees and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation are my big three.

3. What CD by a new artist that is worth a listen?

A Thing A Week by Jonathan Coultan

4. Have you bought a CD recently by an “old favorite” artist, if yes, which one?

I have - Viva La Vida by Coldplay.

5. Who is your current favorite female actor?

Correct me if I'm wrong but they usually refer to female actors as "actresses", right? My favourite is Gwyneth Paltrow.

6.Who is your current favorite male actor?

Favourite actor: Tom Hanks.

7. Do you pay attention to “actors born on your birthday”?

I used to not, but now I'm 40, and there is one that I always remember: Paul Newman.

8. Who is your favorite artist left on American Idol?

I don't watch that.

9. Who will win American Idol?

Don't shoot me, but who cares?

A Food Meme

What is your first memory of baking/cooking on your own?

Mmmm. It has to be something with my grandmother, but I remember helping Ray make dinner in the apartment and he was swinging around a pot with brussel sprouts in it to show how centrifugal force will hold the sprouts in while twirling this pot upside down. I suggested doing it with water. He did and while the brussel sprouts stayed in, the water did not. Almost peed my pants!

Do you have an old photo as "evidence" of an early exposure to the culinary world and would you like to share it?

I probably do, but gods only know where it would be.

Who had the most influence on your cooking?

Uh, my mother. She doesn't cook - neither do I!

Mageiricophobia - do you suffer from any cooking phobia, a dish that makes your palms sweat?

Alllll of them?

What would be your most valued or used kitchen gadgets and/or what was the biggest letdown?

Anything that involves me touching raw food!

Name some funny or weird food combinations/dishes you really like - and probably no one else!

My grandmother fed me bologna and peanut butter. No bread... the bologna was the "sandwhich" outside and the peanut butter was the filling. It's really great!

What are three edibles or dishes you simply don't want to live without?

Hummus, Hawai'ian pizza and shrimp wraps!

Your favorite ice-cream:

Pistachio - with pistachios in it, not cashews!

You will probably never eat:

Tongue.

Your own signature dish:

Hot tea.

Any embarrassing eating habits?

Oh, many, undoubtedly. I'm likely not aware of most of them. I hate eating in fine restaurants because I understand nothing of appropriate eating etiquette. That is who I am!

I, I, I, I, I, I... Another Fun Meme

From Mary Says... blog: "Found this meme for the taking over at Hammer's page. Do one for yourself if you like."


I am: enjoying life and very happy.


I think: therefore I am.


I know: that I will be happy for most of my life.


I want: to see many more parts of the world.


I have: a charmed life.


I wish: for better abilities with money.


I hate: prejudiced people.


I miss: my grandfather.


I fear: very little.


I feel: perfectly wonderful!


I hear: music all the time.


I smell: my green tea Beanpod candles.


I crave: pizza bagels!


I search: for meaning in things that seemingly have none.


I wonder: if man will get to other planets and will we screw them up as well?


I regret: very, very little and will live with those few that I have, as they are part of what makes me me.


I love: this life I live.


I ache: for Ariel.


I am not: a totally heartless bitch.


I believe: in beauty and living in the world, not just on it.


I dance: all the time.


I sing: in my car, howling to whatever is on my iPod or CD!


I cry: during movies all the time. Drives Luis crazy!


I don't always: do what I should.


I fight: against close-minded people.


I write: to every one!


I win: at backgammon and cribbage.


I lose: myself in music.


I never: sugar coat things.


I always: love music and have it on.


I confuse: everyone I talk to!


I listen: to the music of the stars in their dance in the universe. And to the concert of the late night insects in late summer.


I can usually be found: in my office or in my head, which is a fun place to be!


I am scared: of spiders. Of not existing at all. Of not making a difference to others.


I need: love in many forms.


I am happy: all of the time. Life is good!


I imagine: myself as a petite green-eyed beauty.

Saturday 9: The Most Recent

1. Who called you most recently?

Um... I guess it was Tom.

2. What was the most recent sports game you watched?

I don't watch sports.

3. Who is your most recent friend?

My most recent friend is Lauryn. I don't make close friends that often.

4. What was the most recent TV show you watched?

The most recent telly show would be CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

5. What was the most recent music that you purchased?

Coldplay's Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends

6. What were the most recent clothes that you purchased?

Two pairs of pants for work and a couple of UnderArmour shirts.

7. Who most recently did you say “I love you” to?

My father.

8. Who did you most recently text?

Oh, puuuuleeeeze! Do I look 14? No. I don't do texting. At all. Ever.

9. Who did you most recently kiss?

My father.

Saturday 9: Family Ties

1. Where and when were you born?

I was born in Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan on 26 January at 10:39 EST.

2. Do you have siblings? If yes, tell us more.

Not a one.

3. What are your parents’ names?

Harry Gilbert Trebilcox and Wendy Elise Kellogg. My second father is Raymond Guy Kellogg.

4. Did you (or do you) know all four of your grandparents?

Almost - I knew my paternal grandparents, James NMI Trebilcox and Lydia Frances Anderson. I did mostly know my maternal grandmother, Ida Platt, but never met my maternal grandfather. He smoked heavily and died from brain cancer when my mother was 15.

5. Do have children? If yes, tell us about them. If no, do you want them?

Ye gods, no. I don't want children, not at any age or for any reason. I have cats - well, one of my beloved cats died. I have Chelsea.

6. Do you still live in the general area that you grew up in?

Yes. Close enough for jazz, anyway.

7. Do you have cousins? If yes, are you or have you been close?

I have three cousins on my mother's side. Of the three, I am very fond of and close to Renee Camus. And I love her husband, Alex, too. Henry (Renee's brother) is certainly not the same person he was when we were kids, but he's in Switzerland, so I rarely see him. Renee is 2.5 years my junior and Henry is about three months my senior. My other cousin is Justine, 10.5 years my junior and we are not close. She's fine, but we aren't really meant to be friends.

I have no cousins on Harry's side - he has no siblings.

I do have cousins on the Kellogg side. Ray's sister Phyllis has two kids, Dawn (20 days my senior) and David (2 years my junior). Dawn and I are closer; I like David and I think we'd be closer but he is not moving in the same circles as I and we don't seem to e-mail one another. But who knows what the future may bring.

8. How often does your family all get together?

Not often. That's fine. On my mother's side, we all see each other on Christmas Eve. I don't often see Ray's family. And Harry and I are it as far as the Trebilcox side.

9. Is your significant other close to your family?

Not terribly. He likes Ray and Harry, and puts up with my mother. That's fair. I can just barely put up with his father...

OK, I Like This!

You are a VAMPIRE

Truly a sexy undergod of the dead. You roam the night and seduce others to follow your will, your way, and your bloodlust. You enjoy truly sensual sex with a tinge of pain to compliment the eroticism. You are a natural leader, but often form alliances with like-minded individuals. You also are likely type O blood-type with a propensity to grow your fingernails long. You are the sexiest of all the monster types. Increase your vampire points by sharing your status with friends. Click the share button below to increase rank.

FaceBook has all different quizzes. Nothing as good as memes, but still fun. They could be a lot more indepth, though! I find just ten questions doesn't really net any true results. However, I have always been partial to vampires, so this will do just fine!

Saturday 9: What You Notice

1. What is the first thing you notice about a person (that you are attracted to) when you meet them?

Usually the eyes, but I will admit that I have a "thing" for chins! A good squared chin with a nice little cleft is a very sexy thing!

2. What has been your worst illness or injury?

Getting struck by an SUV whilst on foot was my worst trauma. Worst illness? Hands down: muscular dystrophy.





3. Have you ever had a secret crush and then told the person? If yes, how did it go?


Yes to both. I've a coworker who for whatever reason is very physically appealling to me. Must be pheremones...! I did tell that individual. It is always flattering to know that someone thinks you are attractive. And it is okay, because I'm clearly not in a position (in several ways) to pursue it. And the sexy creature is not interested in me.




4. What was the last drink that you ordered at a pub or a bar?


I actually had something to drink last night. A Fuzzy Navel with no ice. It was pretty good. Previous to that, the last drink I had was a Coors Light in Carlos, Texas at the Yankee Tavern for bikers. It was awful tasting but so much fun to be there, in a biker bar, having a beer! Best drink I have ever had! (Thanks a million, Craig!)




5. What car have you owned that was your favorite?


My current one, a 2001 Acura CL type S 3.2L. It is very sexy. Second favourite car was my first one: a black 1977 Chevy Camaro. All front engine, huge 8 cylinder that could go super fast! It was rear wheel drive, though, so it was terrible in any kind of weather. I do miss it, though.




6. What is your favorite holiday?


My favourite holiday is Beltaine, 1 May. It is a fertility holiday. Samhain is a very close second.




7. Have you ever had sex with someone that in retrospect was (and stayed) a stranger?


A total stranger? No. A guy at Ren Faire that I knew casually (very causally) when he was just engaged, yes. And he is still a mostly unknown person.




8. Who is your favorite female singer?


Hmmm. That is a tough one. I'd say Dar Williams.



9. How often do you read the newspaper?

I don't. I'm much happier that way!

Saturday 9: The One Song

1. Name the one song that reminds you of your most current or recent relationship.


Oh, boy. I guess... um... I love music - there are a gazillion songs. Fly Me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra.


2. Name the one song that was way overplayed and you hate.


Again, way too many to count. I have to think about it...


3. Name the one song it seems everyone loves but you don’t.


What, now? I don't listen to the radio!


4. Name the one song you think everyone hates but you love.




No idea. Back to that "I don't listen to the radio" thing.

5. Name the one song that is sung by someone you’d love to date.



Some one I would love to date? I'd love to have tea and a conversation with Jonathan Coulton, but I'm not really interested in dating any performers.


6. Name the one song this season that was sung best on American Idol.


I can't - I don't watch that stuff at all.


7. Name the one song that you think is the best love song of the 00s thus far.



Best song for the 2000s. Code Monkey by Jonathan Coulton.


8. Name the one song that you think was the best 90s song.



I will say Special by Garbage.


9. Name the one song from a TV theme that you like the best.


Grissom's Overture from CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

High School Part I

1. Who was your best friend?

Andreann Oster. She looked like a model. She was tiny and petite and cute with long, thick blonde hair. I looked like the freak from another planet. I wasn't tall, but next to her, I was. She had a mother who lived to over protect her. She tried drugs, slept around, did all the stuff I wouldn't consider. Studying? I was a brain surgeon.

2. Did you play any sports?

No, never.

3. What kind of car did you drive?

I didn't - I was afraid to drive!

4. It’s Friday night. Where were you?

Home.

5. Were you a party animal?

Not even a little bit.

6. Were you considered a flirt?

Not by the others, no.

7. Were you in the band, orchestra or choir?

None of the above.

8. Were you a nerd?

Yes. Everywhere I went I had a book.

9. Were you ever suspended or expelled?

No. I'm sure my guidance councellor thought I'd never amount to anything, though. Guess who is having the last laugh!

High School Part II

Everyone enjoyed last week's meme, so we will do just one more trip back!

Satuurday 9: Another High School Meme

1. Can you sing the fight song?

Good gods, no. Did we have one? I would not even know.

2. Who was your favorite teacher?

Mr. Denequolo was one, for his sarcasm. Mr. Yates, my art teacher, was the best.

3. What was your school mascot?

No idea. I am sure we had one, but I've no idea. Understand that I hated high school in a way that defies the imagine. This was not the world I moved in.

4. Did you go to the Prom?

Sadly, yes - I went to it when I was a junior. I did not go as a senior. One nightmare was enough.

5. If you could go back, would you?

Not even if I were offered an OUTRAGEOUS sum of money!

6. What do you remember most about graduation?

Nothing. I did not go. I don't regret it, either.

7. Where were you on Senior Skip Day?

Hmmm. I skipped classes more than full days. I don't remember what I did the one day I did skip school.

8. Did you have a job your senior year?

Yes. I worked in the Wayne Library.

9. Where did you go most often for lunch?

Across the street to the A&P strip mall. The school food was abyssmal.

Sharing Your Blog Habits Meme

Saturday 9: Sharing Your Blog Habit

1. How long have you been blogging?

Since August of 2005. In terms of time that is not long, but this is my 840th (roughly) posting.

2. How did you start?

I was in my doctor's office and read an article on blogs. Not long after, I read an article about real 40-year-old virgins who seemed to feel that they were contributing mightily to trhe world by not having sex. I was incensed and opened a Blogger account to write about it.

3. How often do you post on your blog?

Sometimes once in a couple of days, sometimes 6 or 7 times in one day. It depends on what has happened, any articles that look interesting or if something major has happened.

4. Have you made good blogging friends?

Yes, indeed, CrystalChick has definitely become a friend.

5. Have you talked to someone on the phone you met through blogging?

No, but then, I'm not a big phone person.

6. Have you met anyone from your blogging?

Not yet.

7. Have you had a crush on anyone you have not met?

Nope.

8. Have you had a romance with someone you have met?

No.

9. Do you suspect you get comments from someone interested in you?

Interested as in sexually? Not so far.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Saturday 9: Happy Father's Day Eve

My name is Samantha Winters, but my friends call me Crazy Sam! Welcome to Saturday: 9.

We describe our blog as Just A Silly Meme Every Saturday. What we've committed to our readers is that we will post 9 questions EVERY Saturday. Sometimes the post will have a theme, and at other times the questions will be totally unrelated. Those weeks we do "random questions," so-to-speak. We encourage you to visit other participants posts and leave a comment. Because we don't have any rules, it is your choice. We hate rules. We love memes, however, and here is today's meme!

We look at our fathers today. If your dad is no longer with us, feel free to alter the questions to discuss your dad. To dad's everywhere, especially Earl Winters, Happy Father's Day!"

Saturday 9: Happy Father's Day Eve

Ray's Questions

1. How long since you have been with your dad?

He was here yesterday afternoon.

2. How many siblings share your dad?

None! He's all mine.

3. Will you see your dad tomorrow?

Yes.

4. Do you give him gifts on Father’s Day?

Yes, sometimes something I find on my own; sometimes, something I find while with him. He is hard to buy gifts as he can get what he wants.

5. Have you ever had a tough time in your relationship with your father?

Sure, when I was 12 until around age 19. Magically, everything suddenly smoothed itself out.

6. What was the last thing that you did with your dad?

We watched The Bucket List together yesterday.

7. Growing up, was your dad tough on you?

No, but that doesn't mean that he wasn't what he needed to be when he needed to be.

8. Are you close to your father?

Extremely. He is my best friend.

9. How long since you have spoke to him?

Less than 30 hours.

Harry's Questions

1. How long since you have been with your dad?

I was with him on Saturday, 14 June.

2. How many siblings share your dad?

None! He's all mine.

3. Will you see your dad tomorrow?

No. He is two hours away.

4. Do you give him gifts on Father’s Day?

Yes. This year it was two very hard-to-find classical CDs that he really wanted.

5. Have you ever had a tough time in your relationship with your father?

Scary question. Yes, we did not have a good relationship when I was young and then had no relationship at all from age 19 to age 38, for me. In the early autumn of 2006, after watching The Sixth Sense, I wrote him a letter and he responded!

6. What was the last thing that you did with your dad?

We sat on the front deck and watched the thunderstorms roll through the Back Mountain area of the Poconos.

7. Growing up, was your dad tough on you?

He was not an active part of my life while I was growing up.

8. Are you close to your father?

Now, yes. And getting closer every time we visit.

9. How long since you have spoke to him?

We communicate mainly via e-mail. The last missive was written on Friday, 27 June.

Saturday 9: Summer Movies and Oil (6.21.08)

My name is Samantha Winters, but my friends call me Crazy Sam! First let me acknowledge that we changed our header to match the one that so many of you are all ready using. Let me know where it originated so I can credit our player! So, welcome to Saturday: 9.

We describe our blog as Just A Silly Meme Every Saturday. What we've committed to our readers is that we will post 9 questions EVERY Saturday. Sometimes the post will have a theme, and at other times the questions will be totally unrelated. Those weeks we do "random questions," so-to-speak. We encourage you to visit other participants posts and leave a comment. Because we don't have any rules, it is your choice. We hate rules. We love memes, however, and here is today's meme!

Saturday 9: Summer Movies and Oil

1. The other day I purchased gas for $3.96, which was less than the $4.37 my local station charges per gallon. What is the current gas price in your area for regular?

Normally for now, regular is $3.89. I have an Acura, and it only takes high-test, so the norm is $4.29 but Hess charges $4.17, so I go there. I am an EMT and the rigs all take diesel - $4.80/gallon. It is insane.

2. Will your vacation plans be altered by the price of gas?

Possibly, but not likely. I am not going to leave my job because of gas prices, so vacations, which I don't get many, will unlikely be affected that way.

3. Is there any movie this summer that you're looking forward to seeing?

Mmmm... I don't know. I already saw Iron Man. I suppose the latest Will Smith movie with him as a superhero.

4. Gas prices aside, what is your favorite vacation destination?

I have been to many great places. I would say my favourite vacation destination is the one I have not yet been to visit.

5. Will you watch more film on DVD than in theaters this summer?

Yes. There are few movies coming out that I wish to see.

6. Will you fly anywhere this summer?

This summer? I haven't any current plans to do so. I usually vacation in the autumn, but it is more often than not a road trip.

7. Guess: How high will a gallon of gas peak at?

Gads. Why do I want to do that? It is depressing!
I'm thinking around $5.00 a gallon.

8. Will gas prices effect who you vote for in this fall's election?

I don't know that it will. I am skeptical of both finalists and have little to no faith in anything they say or perport stand for.

9. How much will the price of home heating oil effect you?

The price of home heating oil will not directly effect me. We have gas service. However, the gas companies are unhappy that the oil companies are managing to charge the $4+ to people who have oil based heat. But they will all too soon be jumping on that band wagon. However, while we cannot do too much about this, we have just flipped the switch to our solar panels to generating electricity to bring our electric usage down and to be more "green".

Saturday 9: Tell Us About It Meme

I found this throught the meme site:

"Welcome to Saturday: 9.

What we've committed to our readers is that we will post 9 questions every Saturday.

Sometimes the post will have a theme, and at other times the questions will be totally unrelated. Those weeks we do "random questions," so-to-speak. We encourage you to visit other participants posts and leave a comment. Because we don't have any rules, it is your choice. We hate rules. We love memes, however, and here is today's meme!

Let's talk relationships! Pick a relationship. Either your current one, or a significant past one (You needn't be specific...)."
Saturday 9: Tell Us About It

1. How did you meet?

We met first in Sam Goodes music store, where I worked at the time. I was 20 and Luis was 22 or 23. He had on a big army green coloured coat and thinning hair, and a wide face. He was with Dave DeGil, whom I knew from the Renassaince Faire. I was chatting with Dave and completely ignored his friend.

We met again when Dave moved into a house in West Caldwell with three other guys: Tom Filliman, Drew Scelba and Luis Gomez. Every time I would call Dave, he'd say, "I'm too busy right now, why don't you talk to my friend, Luis?" We were speaking a lot.

2. Was it lust at first sight?

Not at all. I had been talking to Luis on the phone now for a couple of months and finally called one night for Dave, who could not come to my 22nd birthday party but here, why don't I ask Luis? I did, and he came to pick me up - a bald guy with a basketball round face and a mustache. It was friendship over the phone, a better friendship from that night on, and then slowly developed into love - and consequently, lust - over about three months.

3. Were they currently available?

Yes, he was.

4. How important is physical attraction?

Clearly it will work itself into things over time if that is where the relationship goes. He was at first a totally geeky looking guy but turned into a sexy looking guy. If he did not, the relationship would likely not have gone where it did. So the answer is physical attraction needs to be there, in some form. It is not the most important thing, but it needs to be present.

5. How important is intellectual attraction?

Very, very, very important. Luis could look like (and suddenly my mind is blank on a really, really hot actor) Antonio Banderas, but if he had zero intellect, then it would have been a few delicious sexual encounters and that would the end of it. Luis and I are both avid readers, interested in aspects of science, etc.

6. How long until you had sex?

Um... we became friends in October 1989, started hanging out in January 1990 and had sex for the first time on 22 March 1990. So, six months, I suppose.

7. Is this/was this the love of your life?

He is indeed the love of my life.

8. Were they faithful?

Yes, insofar as I know.

9. Were you faithful?

Well, understand that I see faithfulness in different way from most. But the fact is that this is an open-access blog. So the answer is no.

"Thanks so much for joining us again at Saturday: 9. As always, feel free to come back, see who has participated and comment on their posts. In fact sometimes, if you want to read & comment on everyone's responses, you might want to check back again tomorrow. But it is not a rule. We haven’t any rules here. Join us on next Saturday for another version of Saturday: 9, "Just A Silly Meme on a Saturday!"

Enjoy your weekend!"

The Daily Meme! Saturday Special

~Questions, Silly Questions~

1. Who is the last person you talked to?

Luis, my husband. On the phone, Tom Filliman, my friend. At work, Dan Kilpatrick.

2. What is your weather like right now?

It is medium hot, humid, and overcast. Rather disgusting, really. The temperature isn't bad but the humidity is terrible.

3. Where will you be this weekend?

In Parsippany, then tomorrow in Wayne.

4. What's for dinner tonight?

Italian food, I believe. We are going out to eat with Tom and Alayna and Matthew. Always an interesting time out when we have Matthew.

A Blog Post A Day...?

I can try but some days are better than others. Look at June - I posted the first time on 8 June and then did not put anything there until days later. So much so that I thought I might not get an average of one per day in (30 for the month, no matter how it happened). I began posting again around 15 days later and managed to get it back to a normal number (and then surpassed it) in a relatively short time.

I'm waiting for a friend of mine to come over to visit briefly today. He and his wife and their new daughter are up here from Southern New Jersey and on their way back they are stopping in. Should be nice. I'm not crazy about babies, but it is just one and not for long.

They are unusual in that their marriage was arranged. I've never been to an arranged wedding before theirs and none since, I might add. Unless I am invited to another one, which seems unlikely.

Friday, 27 June 2008

The Pleasure of Questions - Another Meme!

From Mary Says... blog: "Presented by Jules on a lovely silver platter over at Just Because..., here's another fun Meme! If you like, you may take it to your blog and do one for yourself and let me know so I can come by and read it!"

1. What does your name mean?

Aislinge is Gaelic and translates into "a vision or dream". Kellogg is Cornish for "butcher" - kill-hog. Isn't that something?

2. Where was your profile picture taken?

At the hairdresser's place.

3. What is your current relationship status?

POSSLQ - Person of Opposite Sex Sharing Same Living Quarters. I say married, though - 18 years together - whether or not New Jersey recognises common law marriage - is married. New Jersey does not, but I don't worry about such things. We've been together longer than more than half the weddings we've been to. There is a direct and inverse relationship between the amount of money spent and the size of a wedding to the length of the marriage.

4. Honestly, does your crush like you back?

My crush? Uh, I don't know :). My husband does, though!

5. What's your current mood?

Surprisingly, happy. I'm always a happy person, but this month was off to a poor start and it has taken me most of June to really recover and bounce back to myself from it.

6. What do you like to do the most?

That is never as easy as any one thing. I love my job. I love doing EMS. I love reading, blogging, take pictures, watching movies and listening to music.

7. What makes you happy?

That is a mighty long list. You might ask what doesn't. Or you might ask me this at all different moments and get all sorts of answers... Many things do. A sunrise. The Moon shining upon the earth. The beauty of everyday living. A great piece of music. Reading about Apollo 11's historic journey and landing on the Moon. Seeing a planet through my telescope. Great sex. The list is endless.

8. If you could go back and change something, would you?

No. Never. The experiences I have, the good, the bad, the painful and the joyous, are all what make me me. I need those memories, those experiences, to remain Aislinge Kellogg, to grow and develop and become a better me.

9. If you MUST be an animal for one day, what would you be?

Wow. Any animal? Hmmm. This requires some thought. I'll come back to this one.
OK. I would be a platypus. A male platypus. Weird, cute, fuzzy and unbelievably poisonous - the most poisonous mammal on the planet!

10. Something you do a lot?

Blog. Read. Listen to music.

11. What's the name of the song stuck in your head right now?

Coldplay's Viva La Vida. Lyrics are on this blog under that name. Excellent song!

12. Have you ever sung in front of a large audience?

Good gods, no. Why scar people for life? I've no singing voice.

13. Name someone with the same birthday as you.

1961 Wayne Gretzky (hockey player)
1958 Anita Baker (singer)
1958 Ellen DeGeneres (actress, comedienne)
1955 Eddie Van Halen (rock singer)
1953 Lucinda Williams (singer, songwriter)
1951 Calvin Jones (football)
1946 Gene Siskel (film critic)
1944 Angela Davis (activist, writer, teacher)
1942 Scott Glenn (actor)
1935 Bob Uecker (baseballer, announcer, joker)
1929 Jules Feiffer (cartoonist, playwright)

14. What's the first thing you notice about the opposite sex?

I love the opposite sex in all of its forms, but I would say immediately would be eyes - the windows to the soul.

15. What do you usually order from Starbucks?

Nothing. I prefer Dunkin' Donuts' hot white chocolate, but mostly I drink Crystal Light raspberry lemonade mix in water and Twinings Lady Grey decaf hot tea.

16. What is your favorite smell?

Oh, tricky and subjective question. The smell of Luis. It's intoxicating.

Natural Highs

1. Falling in love
2. Laughing so hard your face hurts
3. A hot shower
4. No lines at the supermarket
5. A special glance
6. Getting mail
7. Taking a drive on a pretty road
8. Hearing your favorite song on the radio
9. Lying in bed listening to the rain outside
10. Hot towels fresh out of the dryer
11. Chocolate milkshake (vanilla or strawberry)
12. A bubble bath
13. Giggling
15. The beach
16. Finding a 20 dollar bill in your coat from last winter
17. Laughing at yourself
18. Looking into their eyes and knowing they love you
19. Midnight phone calls that last for hours
20. Running through sprinklers
21. Laughing for absolutely no reason at all
22. Having someone tell you that you're beautiful
23. Laughing at an inside joke with FRIENDS
24. Accidentally overhearing someone say something nice about you
25. Waking up and realizing you still have a few hours left to sleep
26. Your first kiss (either the very first or with a new partner)
27. Making new friends or spending time with old ones
28. Playing with a new puppy
29. Having someone play with your hair
30. Sweet dreams
31. Hot chocolate
32. Road trips with friends
33. Swinging on swings
34. Making eye contact with a cute stranger
35. Making chocolate chip cookies
36. Having your friends send you homemade cookies
37. Holding hands with someone you care about
38. Running into an old friend and realizing that some things (good or bad) never change
39. Watching the expression on someone's face as they open a much desired present from you
40. Watching the sunrise
41. Getting out of bed every morning and being grateful for another beautiful day
42. Knowing that somebody misses you
43. Getting a hug from someone you care about deeply
44. Knowing you've done the right thing, no matter what other people think

The Mice Galaxies

NGC 4676, or the Mice Galaxies, are two spiral galaxies in the constellation Coma Berenices. About 290 million light-years away, they are presently in the process of colliding and merging. Their name refers to the long tails produced by tidal action — the relative difference between gravitational pulls on the near and far parts of each galaxy — known here as a galactic tide. Members of the Coma cluster, it is a possibility that both galaxies have experienced collision, and will continue colliding until they coalesce. The colors of the galaxy are peculiar. In the upper galaxy (NGC 4676A, to the right in the photo), a core with some dark markings is surrounded by a bluish white remnant of spiral arms. The tail is unusual, starting out blue and terminating in a more yellowish color, despite the fact that the beginning of each arm in virtually every spiral galaxy starts yellow and terminates in a bluish color. The lower galaxy (NGC 4676B, to the left) is closer to normal, with a yellowish core and two arcs; arm remnants underneath are bluish as well.

Another E-mail from the Pacific Hiking Trail

Hi everyone! I only have 30 minutes on the Independence library computer, so this'll be short and sweet... I stayed an extra day in Lone Pine to rest my knees, and it helped. I met a thruhiker in town who was only carrying an 18 lb pack, fully loaded. I was in awe of his ability to downsize, and only make do with a minimum of equipment.

He wasn't carrying any kind of bear-proof storage for his food, though... he said he was sleeping with his food by his head, upwind from the trail and far from any known campsites or water sources (where the animals tend to seek free food). His method has worked so far, but I wouldn't want to be him if a bear did try to swipe his food sack, only 1 foot from his head. Geez! I think I'm happy carrying my 2.5 lb bear canister. For now. Back on the trail Sunday afternoon, 6/22 (Day 7). Hiked 7.5 miles to beautiful Chicken Spring Lake, where I camped alone, listening to the orchestra of peeper frogs as I drifted off to sleep.

Monday, 7/23 (day 8) - hiked 16 miles from Chicken Spring Lake to Crabtree Meadow, with awesome views of Mt. Whitney as I walked down the switchbacks into Crabtree. All the thruhikers are planning to do a sidetrip to summit this 14,000+ ft peak, but I think I'll skip it. I didn't plan for it, and don't have the permit or the 2 extra days of food. Now that it's within reach, though, I wish I'd decided to do it. I cleaned up in the Crabtree Creek, and ate by the bear locker, threw my food and smellables inside and slept soundly, knowing that all my stuff was safe.

Tuesday, 7/24 (Day 9) - Hiked 12 miles from Crabtree Meadow to the lake before Forester Pass, which is the highest point on the PCT at 13,200ft. I went from 10,000 - 12,000 ft elevation by the end of the day, and I was trudging by the end. I stopped for the night in the middle of Sequoia canyon, with sheer granite slopes towering above me on 3 sides. I couldn't see where the trail continued on -- it seemed impossible that I would have to climb up over one of those walls. They were too steep! I camped up above treeline, in the middle of a rocky valley with plenty of snowmelt springs & small lakes.

Saw my first marmot, who sounded exactly like a chirping bird and looked like a groundhog with a bushy tail. I decided that there couldn't possibly be bears up this high, because there would be nothing for them to forage on. Still, I sleeping was a little hard because I kept waking up hyperventilating because of the high altitude.

Wednesday 7/25 (Day 10) - Hiked 11.5 miles up and over one of those crazy granite walls, over 13,000 ft Forester Pass and down into Kings Canyon. I really wanted to make it the 19 miles to the trailhead, but I pooped out at Bullfrog Lake, halfway down the side-trail to road. Today was a fantastic day of hiking, although probably some of the most difficult of the whole hike.

Climbing over the pass was an eye-opener for me. I've never hiked so high, and if you want to know what it felt like to carry a 40 lb pack up a mile of switchbacks at altitude, try running a mile while trying to breathe through a soda straw. I had to stop every 20 feet to catch my breath (and take pictures, of course!). It felt incredible to stand at the very top, looking down into both Sequoia Canyon and Kings Canyon stretching out 20 miles in either direction.

Coming down from the peak, I had to walk across 2 long, steep snowfields. I paid attention to every single step, making sure that I wouldn't slip or posthole down into the snow. I'd decided not to carry crampons or an ice ax, and on balance, it was probably the right decision...but I was grateful to have trekking poles, at least. Without those to balance with, I could easily have wound up sliding down the slope to the rocks below. Not a fun prospect, as I inched my way across the snowfield!

Down in Kings Canyon, the snow covered the trail in some sections, so I whipped out my map and compass and managed make my way down-canyon without getting too far off-trail. I passed a lot of people out for short trips over Forester Pass who weren't carrying hiking poles. Poor suckers.

Bullfrog Lake (where I tented for the night) was a beautiful little jewel of a lake. I washed out my muddy socks and took a quick bath. I heard voices up the side of the mountain, so I tried hiding behind a rock...but at this point, I was almost beyond caring if someone saw me. It was more important to get the dirt and sweat off. A curious buck grazed nearby while I ate my dinner. He was so close, I could see that fuzz on his antlers.

Thursday, 7/26 (Day 11) - Got up early and hiked the last 6 miles up and over Kearsarge Pass (11,700 ft), down to the Onion Valley Trailhead. I met 2 section hikers on the way down, and they kindly gave me a ride 15 miles down the mountain into Independence, CA. I found out that Independence's grocery store had closed 6 months ago, but the owner of the hotel I was staying at allowed me and a few other hikers to take her van into Bishop, which was 45 miles away, but had a full-on supermarket, outdoors store, etc. It's amazing to me how things always work out. The universe always provides. I got to talk to my husband today, which felt incredible. I miss him so much, especially when I get to a particularly beautiful spot or experience something I've never seen or felt before. I wish he were here to share it with me.

Friday, 7/27 (Day 12) - I'm looking forward to getting out on the trail this afternoon, but wanted to get this info sent out. It's hard to leave town, especially now that I've got 7 days of food in my pack. I sent a few item ahead to my next town stop, just so I wouldn't have to carry it in my pack. I traded in my Steripen/Nalgene setup for a 1oz Visine-bottle sized container of bleach. It saves 8 oz, which doesn't seem like much -- but when you add up the ounces, they equal pounds.

Talk to you in 7 days!

Ciao,
Dawn

A.W.A.D. - June's Whose What

There's a traffic sign at the end of the street where I live. It reads:

Please drive carefully,
for our childrens sake

It's an official sign of the Department of Transportation. I imagine there are thousands of these reflective blue signs around the state of Washington. These signs may not be necessary now. Children don't play outside anymore. There are more than enough Nintendos and Hanna Montanas and Facebooks these days to keep them busy. But that's not why I mentioned the sign.

We're missing something here. A little squiggly mark.

We may be missing an apostrophe here but, over all, the universe's apostrophe store stays in equilibrium. We don't put them where they belong, and we add them where they don't. Many a grocery store display signs such as:

Apple's $3 per pound
There's even a term for the gratuitous inclusion of these marks: greengrocer's apostrophe.

Sometimes we are not sure whether an apostrophe is needed, so we simply add one, as if considering pillars to support a roof. "Well, let's add one here; it may not be needed, but it's there if necessary, and in any case it's not hurting anything."
This week we feature terms that use apostrophes, terms that do need them. These selections answer: Whose What? And remember, it's not: Who's What?

deadman's hand
PRONUNCIATION:(DED-manz hand)
MEANING:noun: In a game of poker, a hand containing two aces and two eights.

ETYMOLOGY:After Wild Bill Hickok, nickname of James Butler Hickok (1837-1876). Hickock was a legendary figure in the American Wild West who worked variously as an army scout, lawman, and professional gambler. He was shot dead while playing poker, holding a hand that had two aces and two eights.

yeoman's service
PRONUNCIATION:(YO-muhnz SUHR-vis)
MEANING:noun: Efficient, useful, or loyal service.

ETYMOLOGY:From yeoman (servant or assistant), probably a blend of young + man, or from ga (region) + man.

bum's rush
PRONUNCIATION:(bumz rush)
MEANING:noun: A forcible ejection from a place.

ETYMOLOGY:From the allusion to a bum being swiftly kicked out of a place.

devil's advocate
PRONUNCIATION:(DEV-uhlz AD-vuh-kayt)
MEANING:noun: One who argues against something for the sake of argument, for example, to provoke discussion and subject a plan to thorough examination.

ETYMOLOGY:From Latin advocatus diaboli (devil's advocate). The Roman Catholic Church used to have a person appointed as a devil's advocate to argue against elevating someone to sainthood. The person arguing for the proposition was known as God's advocate (Latin advocatus dei).

widow's walk
PRONUNCIATION:(WID-oz wok)
MEANING:noun: A railed platform atop a roof, typically on a coastal house, that was used to look out for returning ships.

ETYMOLOGY:In the 18th and 19th centuries sailors' wives used such platforms to look for signs of their husbands returning home.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

What My Birthday Means

I took this quiz in FaceBook. What a stretch...

This quiz asked me a handful of questions, and based on my birthday falling on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, my being older than 30 (there were 4 options and I'm 40 - guess I'm one of the older people on FaceBook...), born between 0800 and 1600, and whatever else there was, this was the conclusion:

"Your birthday means that you love the sun and the beach.

Your best colors are red and yellow. You tend to have many friends and you are well-liked, possible because of your outgoing and sunny personality. You are a very positive and enthusiastic person. Shopping is likely something you enjoy very much, not just for yourself, but for other people as well. You shine at parties and get togethers, and you are definitely an extrovert."
Well... maybe. I love the sun, yes. I love the ocean a lot more than the beach.
I'm sunny and outgoing, but well-liked? I'm not so sure. I'm persona non-grata on my squad for the most part and likely because I don't care, I'm less so. I do a job that makes me popular and unpopular! Hard to say, really. But this is sheer screaming guesswork - your birthday doesn't dictate your personality.

A Wonderful Message

One of my friends sent me this message back not long after I put Ariel to sleep:

"Aislinge, I am in such a flurry over everything lately that I didn’t read you message last week. I saw gold cross and your address and missed your pain staring me in the face. I’m so sorry. Are you feeling any better? I believe God loves the animals, cares for each one. They are, by far the better servants (as compared to most humans). Grief is grief and it takes a while to overcome it. I will certainly pray for you."

This man is more than amazing. He's magical. And he is the sweetest person I have ever met. He's a very unique person and he is extremely empathetic. He's a reverend, and I would image that he is a really great one. I don't know anyone quite like him. He is what religion should be... and so rarely is.

A Great Trip to the Dentist!

As it happens, I do love my dentist, Dr. Berdj Feredjian, and his staff. He's a nut. He sings while doing dental work! And the rest of the staff are all fun, lovely and intelligent people. You can't ask for more than that... unless you want free dental work, but how likely is that?

It's easy to gripe about going to the dentist. I rarely hear people say, "Hey, I have my dental appointment today, how cool is that?" I don't think I have ever said that. I do tell people about my dentist and that he is great, but I do have to say that this is a strange choice of career. I wouldn't want to spend my days tiptoeing through peoples' mouths! Yuck.

However, I won't let anyone else tiptoe through mine. I don't say that about just anyone. And the gods know, he has the patience of a saint, being my dentist! I don't take good care of my teeth. This is not a mystery, folks, so don't be surprised. Some day I will reach a point where I take good enough care of them to get them bonded or something so that they aren't so awful to look upon. For now, however, I haven't reached that level.

The great news is that with my much-lowered sugar intake, I have not had a cavity in over a year! That is incredible. Sure, I know that sugar definitely contributes to tooth decay, but I never thought about it as I'm not good about the basics of toothcare anyway. But it is certainly a part of the equation. Pretty amazing. If I took good care of them, I'd have an indestructible mouth.

Well... probably not.

But it sounds good, right!

If you are wondering about his name, it is Armenian. Oh, yes, you know me - I asked!

An Amazing Day!

I had the best day... the best!

I can wallow in it and soak it up and grin until my teeth fall out tonight, and them tomorrow morning, I will be calm, cool and collected, focussed and dedicated. But tonight I'm just going to be a grinning idiot. And I'm not going to be focussed and I am going wallow in it. I'm going to enjoy the ride, just as Steve Gilliland said.

And since I can't really talk about the most wonderful thing in the world because it relates to work and isn't for public knowledge, that is all there is to say!
The thing is, I did this... I did it! The only person who can take responisibility for the changes and positives is me. And by the gods, it was hard. It was hard to do and it will still be challenging. But oh, how worth it!

Monday, 23 June 2008

Some Signs of Relief on Gasoline Prices

We'll see...

New York - Some of the long-term factors that have pushed oil prices to record levels are starting to change.

In large part because gasoline prices are over $4 a gallon, demand for fuel in the US is falling for the first time in 17 years. China is raising prices for gasoline and diesel – a move that might ultimately lower demand. And, on Sunday, there were signs supply might increase as Saudi Arabia's oil minister indicated that the country would increase production through the end of the year if needed. Iraq is also set to sign contracts with foreign companies to hike production.

"It's all a step in the right direction," says Phil Flynn, an oil analyst and trader at Alaron Trading in Chicago. "These are certainly signs to the market that prices can't just continue to go up."

However, some of the shorter-term factors are becoming worse.

On Friday, the energy markets were digesting news of an attack on a Royal Dutch Shell oil platform in Nigeria that shut down over 200,000 barrels of oil per day in production. Then energy traders fretted over news of an Israeli military exercise involving 100 planes, with some speculating that the aim of the exercise was to send a message about Iran's nuclear ambitions. And, it's not clear how badly the US corn crop, used to make ethanol, a gasoline additive, has been hurt by the flooding in the Midwest.

"These factors are keeping the price up for now," says Mike Fitzpatrick, vice president of energy risk management at MF Global, a commodities brokerage.

By the end of day Friday, the price of oil had closed at $134.62, down 24 cents for the week. Nationally, the price of gasoline is $4.07 a gallon, according to American Automobile Association, down 1 cent a gallon from the record high.

Short term tensionsThe attack on the Royal Dutch Shell platform occurred last Thursday, about 75 miles offshore. Although Nigerian rebels had attacked oil rigs before, this is the furthest from shore they have ventured. "When the manager saw the attack, he immediately shut down production of the oil and natural gas," says Rainer Winzenried, a spokesman for Shell in The Hague, Netherlands.

As of Sunday, the Shell platform was still shut down. Mr. Winzenried says Shell has declared force majeure, a legal move that frees the company from its obligation to deliver oil. "It can only put upward pressure on the prices," says Mr. Fitzpatrick.

The energy markets were also roiled by a news story in The New York Times that Israel had mounted a military exercise involving 100 F-15s and F-16s. The article linked the exercise to Iran's nuclear ambitions. "What are the Israelis thinking?" asks Fitzpatrick. "It lights up the whole area."

Over the short run, the energy markets are also watching for updated corn crop estimates given the flooding in the Farm Belt. On the futures market, the new crop corn is up about 25 percent in the first half of June. "One of the uncertainties is the ethanol situation in the Midwest," says Tancred Lidderdale, an energy analyst at the Energy Information Administration in Washington.
"A number of plants are shut down, there has been a disruption of the distribution process, and the railroads are flooded," he says. "We typically have gotten imports from Brazil, and they can increase their exports but I'm not sure they will."

With gasoline prices on the rise for months, consumers are now starting to cut back. According to the EIA, in the first quarter of the year, demand for gasoline fell about 100,000 barrels per day, or about 1.3 percent of daily consumption. For the year, EIA expects consumption to drop 0.7 percent over 2007. "This would be the first year over year decline in consumption since 1991," says Mr. Lidderdale.

The lower gasoline consumption is probably due largely to less driving. According to Department of Transportation statistics released last week, from November through April, Americans drove 30 billion fewer miles than the same period the prior year. "That's the sharpest drop in recorded history, some 66 years of collecting data," says Doug Hecox, a spokesman for the Federal Highway Administration in Washington, adding that "the drop took place before the price hit $4 a gallon."

China's price hikeInitially, oil prices fell after China announced it was raising the price of gasoline by 17 percent and the price of diesel by 18 percent. Some analysts thought it would cut demand, which grew by 7 to 8 percent on an annual basis in the first quarter. But, in the last three months, demand growth has slowed to 3 percent, partly because of shortages, says Paul Ting, an energy analyst.

Now, he says Chinese refiners, although they are still losing money, might increase production somewhat. "So, we have conflicting forces, higher prices which might have some marginal impact on demand and more product available from the refiners," he says. "I think the end result will be an increase in demand, but not back to the 8 percent growth rate."

Slowing demand may be met by an increase in supply. On Sunday, Saudi oil minister Ali el-Naimi, at a special meeting of oil consumers in Jeddah, said production might increase over the current 9.7 million barrels of oil per day if the market needs extra supplies.

The kingdom had already committed to produce an extra 200,000 barrels a day starting in July on top of an additional 300,000 produced in May.

The extra Saudi production comes at a time when Iraq is also talking about adding to its capacity. Last week, the Iraqi government said its production was up to 2.5 million barrels per day, about where it was prior to the coalition invasion. On Sunday, officials also said it was awarding additional oil contracts to 41 foreign companies in the hope of boosting exports by another 500,000 barrels per day. It will be the first time the global energy companies will be back in Iraq since Saddam Hussein kicked them out in 1972.