Saturday, 31 July 2010

Me and My Monkey Mind

This is me all over (taken from Eat Pray Love):

"Like most humanoids, I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the "monkey mind"--the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl. From the the distant past to the unknowable future, my mind swings wildly through time, touching on dozens of idea a minute, unharnessed and undisciplined. This in itself is not necessarily a problem; the problem is the emotional attachment that goes along with the thinking. Happy thoughts make me happy, but--whoop!--how quickly I swing again into obsessive worry, blowing the mood; and then it's the remembrance of an angry moment and I start to get hot and pissed off all over again; and then my mind decides it might be a good time to start feeling sorry for itself, and loneliness follows promptly. You are, after all, what you think. Your emotions are slaves your thoughts, and you are slave to your emotions.

The other problem with all this swinging though the vines of thought is that you are never where you are. You are always digging in the past or poking at the future, but rarely do you rest in this moment. It's something like the habit of my dear friend Susan, who--whenever she sees a beautiful place--exclaims in near panic, 'It's so beautiful here! I want to come back here someday!' and it takes all of my persuasive powers to try to convince her that she is already here. If you're looking for a union with the divine, this kind of forward/backward whirling is a problem. There's a reason why the call God a presence--because God is right here, right now. In the present is the only place to find Him, and now is the only time."

That is very true of me and the monkey mind is what trips me up every time. It gets me when I wake up, when I'm trying to get things done... pretty much all of the time. But the second paragraph is very true as well. When I went on the first call where someone of 25 years of age died right there, that's when I realised there is a God. Maybe not what Catholics or Christians or Jews perceive to be God, but certainly something that in a million years one might never know or understand. It was not the introduction you'd wish for. But in that moment, in that now, I understood completely what she meant. I just did not realise until I read this part what exactly I knew.

When an 80-year-old person dies, the feeling, the experience is different. By the time one has reached 80, he or she has made her peace with the knowledge that this life has a finite time; that he or she will die. Those people don't need God's presence to pass from living to dead - they know what they need to do and do it. Someone who is still in his or her twenties is still immortal. I thought I was until I was 33 and had that accident. After that, I started to treasure each moment - but I still do the mental tree-swinging.

I'm surrounded, however, with people who don't. It gives a whole new meaning to be surrounded by overachievers...

Friday, 23 July 2010

The Hammock in an Approaching Storm

You would think that this would be a bit more wow! than you'd think.

I had gone out to my hammock around 15:40, only to see a brightly blue sky with not a single stray cloud anywhere. Okay, it must be OK, the forecast was off and there'd be no storm approaching. Well, alrighty then! I hooked up my ear covers, started up my iPod, and set up my beautiful hammock.

I lay in it and it swung from side to side gently, eventually stopping. The stopping was disappointing - once the hammock was in its normal spot, nothing moved. I mean nothing: not a single leaf twitched, not a blade of grass quivered, nothing. Not a breath of moving air. It was only 79°F but it was 84% humidity - disgusting.

So I lay in my hammock, and did not even read page... whatever page I was on! I lay there in the heat and humidity, sweating with my iPod playing, realising that this is very warm. But in moments I fell asleep. Sheesh.

I slept for a good long time, from 18:00 to 19:47. I would have remained sleeping, however, through the music, muted, was a strange sound... the sound of shelling in M*A*S*H. It was so odd. I managed to prop my eyes open enough to see the darkening skies right overhead! The distant sound of shelling resolved itself into the sharp sound of ongoing thunder.

H'mmmm. I decided hanging out in the hammock for this may easily expose me directly to lightning. I was up and outta that hammock as fast as possible. I cleared off the hammock and got the bedding and pillow inside, and then took myself as fast as I could to the front of the house to get my camera and attempt to get lightning. I succeeded. The storm did not. It passed over head and the wind whipped up and made it look like a real storm. All good things are not meant to last. The storm went off to the northeast and we had about twenty raindrops and the humidity is now ungodly high. Unreal!

Next time, I'm going to take my chances with the weather to make the rains come and maybe some lightning. We need the rain!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

The Restorative Power of a Hug

Most people don't want to hug me. Not at work, anyway. And to a large degree it makes sense. Not too many people feel comfortable hugging the Human Resources Manager. It's a daunting idea. What if it is not received well?

I get that. I'm most approachable and friendly and never hesitate to be touchy-feely with the people I know who are comfortable. It is a limiting feeling to not be so approachable on a more touchy feely basis.

But one person there is a just such a love, a great, good friend, with warmth and happiness that is best and most effectively given to others through a hug. So whenever we see each other, we hug each other. There is nothing inappropriate in it, there is nothing sexual in it, it is just a wonderful, warm reassuring hug that like looking at the stars and planets does for me, the hugs restore perspective.

I love that.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The ABSOLUTE Misery...

...of dealing with other drivers.

I'm not the perfect driver, but I'm a good driver. I am not a rabid speeder; my comfort zone is 70 miles an hour. I don't tailgait, which seems never to work in my favour since keeping a safe distance means more than a car length and everyone is determined to fill in any open spaces. I refuse to play musical lanes. Once I'm in the left lane, that is where I plan to stay until I am ready to exit. That is not generally a good tactic, but I find that once I learned about CEVO driving and ambulance operations, I prefer that style of driving. Get to the safety zone, then head to your destination, then worry about the getting off the road and getting to where I need to go.

There are no safety zones. Not in this misbegotten state!

Everyone is a bad driver. I'm not but I am fighting with an entire state's worth of truly worthless drivers. The short woman in a huge Suburban truck who clearly needed to be reminded about her turn signal and when it is appropriate to use it. Or how about the fifth car who stopped enough to look around for a cop before running the red light, very much on purpose? WHEN DID THIS BECOME HEALTHY AND SAFE?! WHEN DID IT BECOME ACCEPTABLE?!

Clearly I missed the memo that said one's driving is best served by causing accidents. So until I actually get a copy, I will continue to stop at stop signs and yellow lights and most especially, drive at 70mph in the hammer lane, where I am still breaking the law but in a way that no cop wants to pull me over. Whaddya think?

Sunday, 18 July 2010

2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season Could Run in Top Ten

The upcoming hurricane season could be a top 10 active year, a stark contrast from the relatively calm 2009 season. AccuWeather.com Chief Hurricane Meteorologist Joe Bastardi predicts a total of 16-18 storms this season. To put that in perspective, only eight years in the 160 years of records have had 16 or more storms in a season. The season should start early with one or two threats by early July, and stay late with additional threats extending well into October.

His forecast team expects at least six storms to impact the United States coastline--slightly more than one out of every three. In a normal year, one out of every five named storms (20 percent) in the Atlantic basin impacts the United States. In the 2005 season, 36 percent of the storms affected the United States, while 50 percent impacted the United States in 1998 and 2008.

"From the standpoint of number of storm threats from the tropics to the United States coastline, we will at least rival 2008, and in the extreme case, this season could end up in a category only exceeded by 2005," Bastardi said. Bastardi observes a rapid warming of the Gulf of Mexico and the collapsing El Nino pattern, which were both characteristics of the 1998 and 2005 seasons.

Named storms moving through the Gulf of Mexico can cause major disruption to both oil and gas production. In 2008, shutdown of production caused a decline in production of 62 million barrels of oil and 408 billion cubic feet of gas. In the record-setting season of 2005, nearly three months of production time was lost.

According to Bastardi, the Atlantic basin looks "textbook" for a major season, with many long track storms that make their way from off the coast of Africa into the western Atlantic and Caribbean heading toward the United States coastline.

He adds that in the heart of the season, there will be a "congregation of tracks," or a concentrated area where many of the storm tracks will pass through. "I believe there will be a bunching of tracks in the area around the Antilles and into the Bahamas," he said.

Hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30.

For more information, be sure to visit the AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Penn & Teller's BULLSHIT: Area 51

Penn & Teller have asserted that this hubbub about Area 51 is bullshit.

I have to agree. Do I think the government has secrets and is guarding one (or more) in Area 51? Sure. All governments have secrets. And they probably all have them in areas that we know about, such as any base or place like Picatinny Arsenal, since those would be the obvious places. But I wouldn't expect any government to have all the information they have open to John Q. Public. Given how many stupid people there are, it's just as well.

Area 51 is known as the place with alien secrets. And you should see the winners on this show.

I believe there are aliens, and I'm sure they've stopped by to check us out. I'm also completely confident that they tuned into our channels, saw the wars, general violence and of course, nations' leaders speaking and looked at each other in horror and quickly put out the word that this planet needs to be avoided. Seriously avoided. They'll stop in around 2900 to see if we've finally blown each other to pieces or if we finally figured out how to coexist. Right now, I'd have to bet on the former...

And if they stopped in while President Bush was in office, they not only put out the word, they left shaking in their boots!

I always did when he spoke. I shook, I cringed and then I ripped his "English" to shreds, since it appears English is not his first language. I'm not sure it is his tenth language. And he went to college - well, I misspoke. His education was bought at a high-end college. Clearly the money was squandered. (Before you say it, the same is absolutely true of Dan Quayle, too.)

I am not a fan of President Obama, not anymore, but

ARTICLE: Seven Ways to Ruin Your Résumé

By Hillary Chura

In the time it takes you to read this paragraph, the average recruiter will have plowed through six resumes. (We know; we timed one.) Want to increase the chances of your resume making it to the next round? Then don’t do any of these seven things, which recruiters say — more than anything — make them want to push the “shred” button.

(For more resume tips, check out our interactive critique of an actual resume.)

1. Apply for a job for which you are not remotely qualified

Many candidates believe the job hunt is a numbers game — drop enough resumes, and you’re bound to land something. But shotguns are for hunting pheasant, not finding jobs. The reality is that recruiters hate wasting time on resumes from unqualified candidates. Morgan Miller, an executive recruiter at StaffMark, recalls the security guard who applied to be a financial risk manager (maybe Lehman should have hired him), while Scott Ragusa at Winter, Wyman talks of the aerial photographer who sought out a position as a tax specialist.

“Sorting through unqualified resumes is frustrating, unproductive and puts an extra burden on staff,” says Katherine Swift, Senior Account Director at KCSA Strategic Communications in Natick, Mass. “It also makes it much more challenging to find the right candidate.” So the next time you’re thinking of blasting out resumes to all 60 of the job listings on Monster.com that have the word “finance” in them , save your time (and that of the recruiters) and only apply for ones for which you’re qualified.

2. Include a lofty mission statement

More than ever, today’s savage job market is about the company, not the candidate. As such, mission or objective statements — particularly ones with an applicant’s hopes, dreams, and health insurance aspirations — will dispatch otherwise fine resumes to the circular file. Employers don’t care about how they can solve your problems — certainly not before they’ve met you and possibly not even after they’ve hired you. Instead, write an “objectives” statement that explains specifically how your skills and experience will help the company you’re applying to, not the other way around. And be very clear about what kind of job you’re seeking.

3. Use one generic resume for every job listing

To stand out amongst the sea of resumes that recruiters receive, yours must speak to each and every specific position, even recycling some of the language from the job description itself. Make it obvious that you will start solving problems even before you’ve recorded your outgoing voice mail message. Your CV or query letter should include a just touch of industry lingo — sufficient to prove you know your stuff but not so much that you sound like a robot. And it should speak to individual company issues and industry challenges, with specifics on how you have personally improved customer loyalty, efficiency, and profitability at past jobs, says workplace and performance consultant Jay Forte. Plus, each morsel should be on point.

“Think hard about how to best leverage each piece of information to your job search advantage,” says Wendy Enelow, a career consultant and trainer in Virginia. “Nothing in your resume should be arbitrary, from what you include in your job descriptions and achievement statements, to whether your education or experience comes first [recent grads may want to put education first] to how you format your contact information.”

4. Make recruiters or hiring managers guess how exactly you can help their client

Sourcing experts want to know — immediately — what someone can offer, and they won’t spend time noodling someone’s credentials. “Animal, vegetable or mineral? Doctor, lawyer or Indian chief? That’s what I’m wondering every time I open a resume. If it takes me more than a split second to figure this out, I feel frustrated,” says Mary O’Gorman, a veteran recruiter based in Brooklyn.

5. Don’t explain how past experience translates to a new position

Though candidates should avoid jobs where they have no experience, they absolutely should pursue new areas and positions if they can position their experience effectively. A high school English teacher applying for new jobs, for example, can cite expertise in human resource management, people skills, record keeping, writing, and training, says Anthony Pensabene, a professional writer who works with executives.

“Titles are just semantics; candidates need to relate their ‘actual’ skills and experiences to the job they’re applying for in their resume,” Pensabene says. An applicant who cannot be bothered to identify the parallels between the two likely won’t be bothered with interviews, either.

6. Don’t include a cover letter with your resume

A cover letter should always accompany a resume — even if it’s going to your best friend. And that doesn’t mean a lazy “I’m _____ and I’m looking for a job in New York; please see my attached resume.” Says Lindsay Olson, a partner at Manhattan’s Paradigm Staffing: “I’d like to know why you are contacting me (a particular position, referral, etc.), a short background about yourself, and a career highlight or two. It’s important to attempt to set yourself apart from the competition.”

7. Be careless with details

Reckless job hunters rarely make for conscientious workers. As such, even promising resumes must abide by age-old dictums: typo-free, proper organization, and no embellishment. Susan Whitcomb, author of Resume Magic: Trade Secrets of a Professional Resume Writer, says that almost 80 percent of HR managers she surveyed said they would dismiss otherwise qualified candidates who break these rules. She tells the story of one would-be employer who, when looking for an assistant, decided not to hire anyone because every resume she received contained typos.

“With a 6-to-1 ratio of job seekers-to-jobs in the current marketplace, you can’t afford to make mistakes with your resume,” Whitcomb says.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Fermented Tea Kombucha Vanishes on Alcohol Worries

NEW YORK (AP) -- It's a fermented, pungent tea, but it's the alcohol that can lurk inside of kombucha that's causing a stink.

Regulators and retailers are concerned that the ancient and trendy tea may need to be regulated as an alcoholic drink. That's because some bottles have more than 0.5 percent alcohol -- the legal limit for a drink not to be considered alcoholic.

The drink dates back thousands of years and across cultures, though its actual country of origin is unclear. But it has gained popularity in the past few years in the U.S., partly because of claimed health benefits, though there's little science behind them. And it doesn't hurt when stars like Lindsay Lohan are photographed drinking kombucha.

Since last month, the government has been testing kombucha to determine if it should be labeled like beer or wine. Distributors and retailers like Whole Foods Inc. have removed the most popular form, raw kombucha, from stores, saying they won't restock until they know more.

That's upsetting fans, who enjoy the sweet-but-sour taste and shell out more than $3 for a bottle. They're scouring stores, starting Facebook groups such as "Dude, where's my kombucha?" and lamenting online.

Anne Sommer misses drinking kombucha each day at 5 p.m., while her husband had wine. She can't find any at home on Bainbridge Island, Wash., about 30 minutes outside of Seattle and misses her "Booch."

"I've considered taking up wine. I just don't like how that feels," she said. "I just drink water and count the days."

Kombucha (pronounced com-BOOCH-a or com-BOOK-a) contains live bacteria and yeast, similar to yogurt. Many fans make it at home by acquiring a kombucha "mother," a cloudy mass of bacteria and yeast from another batch. But most prefer to buy it for convenience. Pasteurized versions -- where the yeast and bacteria are heated, much like milk -- are still for sale because the process kills the yeast, which make the alcohol. But fans tend to prefer the raw version.

Kombucha makers say it leaves production with almost no alcohol. But alcohol can develop over time in unpasteurized versions because the yeast is still alive, converting sugars to alcohol. The more sugar a drink has, the more alcohol can ferment. So each recipe might be different.

Gerry Khermouch, editor of Beverage Business Insights, estimates some kombucha brands might have 2 to 3 percent alcohol, based on reports from producers doing independent testing. Regular beer has about 4 to 5 percent alcohol.

Sales have been doubling each year for at least the past four years and are now worth more than $150 million a year at retail, according to Beverage Business Insights. That's still barely a drop compared to the $100 billion-a-year U.S. drinks market.

Big brands like Celestial Seasonings and Honest Tea have launched their own raw kombucha brands. Both have taken their products off shelves and are working on new versions.

Some fans aren't waiting. Macoe Swett drove 80 miles round-trip to snag 20 bottles based on a Facebook tip. The 37-year-old graphic designer will cut her thrice-weekly habit to once a week.

G.T. Dave, CEO of the company that makes category leaders GT's Kombucha and Synergy, said the products should return in weeks. His company plans to resume production with a new version that will keep alcohol levels under the limit, though he declined to say how the company would do that.

"We're hoping this month, but nothing is definitive," he said.

The federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which is testing samples of kombucha brands to determine how it should be labeled, said each brand will be treated differently, depending on its alcohol content. It's not clear how long the investigation will take because regulators don't know how many companies produce kombucha, spokesman Art Resnick said.

Neither Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods or United Natural Foods, kombucha's largest distributor, returned calls seeking comment.

Producers are weighing their options. They can change their formula or production methods to lessen the alcohol, pasteurize their drinks, or market their drinks as alcohol. But that would mean taxes and label approval and dealing with a maze of government regulations.

Katalyst Kombucha in Greenfield, Mass., will buy new equipment for $50,000 -- 10 percent of the sales he hoped to do this year -- to remove alcohol without heat, meaning the drink can remain unpasteurized. But owner Will Savitri doesn't know what this means for business.

"I think we're going to get through this one and hopefully on the other side it's going to be a little less tumultuous," he said.

Elaine Marshall wants her favorite drink back. The 41-year-old mother in Long Beach, Calif., relied on her morning kombucha for energy. But if there's too much alcohol, she'll think again.

"I'm going to be a little bit leery of drinking that with my breakfast."

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Article: 'Barefoot Bandit's 2-year Run from Law is Over

NASSAU, Bahamas – The teenage "Barefoot Bandit" who allegedly stole cars, boats and airplanes to dodge U.S. law enforcement was nabbed Sunday as he tried to make a water escape then brought handcuffed — and shoeless — to the capital to face justice, abruptly ending his two-year life on the lam.

Colton Harris-Moore was arrested before dawn in northern Eleuthera, said Sgt. Chrislyn Skippings, a spokeswoman for the Royal Bahamas Police Force. A contingent of high-ranking officers traveled to the island and took the suspect to Nassau, the country's capital, where he faces possible extradition to the United States.

True to his nickname, the 19-year-old suspect was barefoot as he stepped off the plane. He kept his head down and ignored questions shouted by reporters. Escorted by six police cars and SUVs, the teen had close-shorn hair and wore short camouflage cargo pants, a white long-sleeved shirt and a bulletproof vest. Police blocked traffic on the route to the Central Detective Unit where he was taken for processing.

Island police had been searching for the wily fugitive since he allegedly crash-landed a stolen plane a week ago on nearby Great Abaco Island, where he was blamed for a string of at least seven break-ins.

Authorities caught Harris-Moore on a boat near Harbour Island, a small tourist destination just off mainland Eleuthera, said a senior police official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case. He said Harris-Moore initially attempted to flee but police shot out the engine on his boat.

Harris-Moore, who has been running from American law enforcement since escaping from a Washington state halfway house in 2008, gained fame and thousands of fans who admired his ability to evade arrest. He is suspected of stealing cars, boats and at least five planes — including the aircraft he allegedly lifted in Indiana and flew more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) to the islands off Florida's coast, despite a lack of formal flight training.

The teen is a skilled outdoorsman who honed his abilities growing up in the woods of Camano Island in Puget Sound about 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Seattle.

Island police picked up his trail in Eleuthera after recovering a 44-foot (13-meter) power boat stolen from a marina on Abaco, 40 miles (65 kilometers) to the north.

Burglary victims in Eleuthera told The Associated Press on Saturday they had little doubt the lanky, 6-foot, 5-inch (1.9-meter) fugitive was on the island.

Ferry boat captain Freddie Grant said he was returning from Harbour Island on Wednesday evening when he saw a tall, white teenager bathing or swimming in an inlet near the ferry landing. Ferry service employee Stan Pennerman also said he saw Harris-Moore lurking in the woods the same day.

Neither man thought much of it until they noticed the next morning that somebody had damaged the ignition system on three of their boats.

A bar at the ferry landing was also burglarized Wednesday night by a thief who cut a screen to break in, dismantled a security light, and moved the television's remote controls, said Denaldo Bain, the 30-year-old manager of Coakley's International Sporting Lounge.

"He was watching television. He was just chilling," said Bain, who also said he saw the teenager in the inlet.

Sightings were later reported elsewhere in Eleuthera, including at a bar in Governor's Harbour, 50 miles (80 kilometers) to the south, where one witness said Harris-Moore bought drinks for a girl. Others claimed to see him driving a rental car around the island Saturday.

Harris-Moore's mother, Pam Kohler, has said that he had a troubled childhood. His first conviction, for possession of stolen property, came at age 12. Within a few months of turning 13, he had three more.

But Kohler also has publicly defended her son, saying the allegations against him are exaggerated. She has told the AP that she hoped he would flee to a country that doesn't have an extradition treaty with the United States.

Reached early Sunday at her home on Camano Island in Washington state, she said she'd heard the news about the arrest but had no comment.

Harris-Moore was sentenced to nearly four years in juvenile detention after being caught in an unoccupied home in 2007, but he did well enough there that he was transferred to a group home, where he sneaked out of a window more than two years ago.

He was dubbed the "Barefoot Bandit" for allegedly going shoeless during some crimes and once allegedly leaving behind chalk footprints as a calling card.

Harris-Moore has nearly 58,000 fans on Facebook, some of whom on Sunday posted disappointed messages or promoted T-Shirts and tote bags with the words "Free Colton!" and "Let Colton Fly!

I'm delighted that this kid is off the streets and will be extridited to the United States and will hopefully spend the rest of his natural life behind prison bars!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The End of a Long Weekend

It really was a long weekend.

Normally five days is a little too long, but for once I really needed it. I've been going at 124% since April and while that is an expectation through May, while the hiring is happening in bulk, that's fine but timing and events conspired to make the headaches be much more than just the norm. I was ready for the norm; no one is prepared for what isn't expected or on the radar.

At the same time, my weekend came with a price tag. I suppose there is the you can't have everything factor and this is it. (You can get the details on the 3 July post entitled Geriatrics and Pediatrics.) If there is not too much stress in this or that part of your life, then it will show up somewhere. I don't know if this is Fate's way of reminding us not to become complacent, but that is as good as any theory.

In the world of don't tempt fate, here's a tip: don't carry too many items in your arms while walking on hot sand in Crocs. At least it wasn't flip flops, which you know I hate. Still all shoes have a danger to them when it comes to sand.

One of the dental assistants where I have my dental work done was walking on the hot sand while juggling chairs, various items and a dog (I personally can see the chair and items; the dog would have had a free day at home. I'm not babysitting anything at the shore.) Anyway, the sand began building up in her crocs, so she lost her balance and fell... into cactus!

She now has the nickname Cactass or Porcupine, something that may stick with her forever, like being called Stinky!

And what did she do, upon extricating herself from the sand and cacti? She waited until they came home from the beach that night and went to St.Clares late into the night to get the needles removed from her arm and lower back and ass on the left side! I would have said, "We are going to the hospital right now, whatever is closest!" She's healing, but it can't be easy!

That is beyond tempting Fate; I would say it is is pissing Fate off!

(If anyone writes and says there are no cacti in New Jersey, wrong! There is cacti everywhere. I first encountered it in Montana (a place that gets winters that far exceed anything we get), and I posted an image of the cactus on Facebook with a comment about how odd that seemed and I had a lot of responses from friends about cactus that grows naturally in New Jersey. (This is why I love learning!)

Well, cactus aside, there are other charmers of the day.

The dentist, despite his protests that Novocaine would make it harder to put the crown on, got it on the first shot! See that. Gotta have faith! I think he finds my wussiness amusing.

It is 106F/44C degrees outside. This is too hot even for me. The humidity was down into the mid- to high 20s, but even so, it was disgustingly hot. The desert works for me when the humidity is in the single digits; at 27%, it is too high. However, we are grateful that it wasn't the humidity that is normal for us: 75%! That would have been far worse.

Tomorrow will be more of the same. How delightful.

I'm hoping that the heat will be dispelled by a screamer of a thunderstorm that won't actually cause destruction but will put on a show for me - huge, dramatic peals of thunder, bolt lightning that lights up the sky; and maybe some juicy hailstones. Or high winds. You know, the wrath of Mother Nature!

We'll see.

I did see the fireworks this time, and what a show! We sat by the high school's tennis courts and the experience was completely different from the one I usually have sitting on the back-up rig. Every year I've done this, the ambulance is parked on the other side of the field - by the back entrance diamond field. This time, we were "behind" the fireworks staging area, which is on the opposite side of the track area, way off in hte back. (I understand that the track usually takes a beating from the shells and side effects of being that close to the area where the fireworks are set off. I believe it.)

The percussion when the shells exploded was really amazing and the sound, even though it reverberated through my midsection, was a low enough register that it didn't bother me. When the sound reported off the surrounding hills, however, that drove my tinnitus completely insane and the ringing in my ears was amplified considerably after that. This was the only negative at all.

And now, dear readers, it is time for me to sign off from this fun thing (I'm doing this on the telly again. I find this is a lot of fun!) and head off for a rest in Morpheus' arms before returning to the normalcy of work!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Bicentennial Man

What makes a movie great?

Plot line, acting, music, visuals and ease of following the plot. For some, that last variable means a very convoluted story with a lot of details and small plots inclusive and for others, a more linear, easy to follow single plot.

Bicentennial Man offers all of that. The five main items that make a great movie are represented in this film. The opening scenes for the title and credits are interesting, with wonderful music. Watching Andrew find himself and subsequently others is a journey that is incredible. Seeing the android slowly morph into Robin Williams' character is great. It is a heartwarming movie.

Few movies make this kind of marks with me. It may not seem that way from what I write, but who wants to write about the lousy movies that are out there? And maybe it is a benefit to find many movies to be good, but Luis can sit through movies that in a million years I wouldn't watch. He just got back from seeing the latest Twilight movie, of which I've seen none. (I also find that current trends don't interest me. I've been reading books on vampires since I was a kid, long before the crowd that this line appeals to was born. I suspect that the purist in me feels that the vampire movies of today would not compare favourably to Anne Rice or other authors of my time.)

I've seen a lot of movies (not compared to Luis, but again, I'm okay with that); so few really do get the high marks. Almost any Pixar movie gets that and many other animated films do, too. I don't need to own all of them.

Some movies are predicated on actors, though very few fall into that category. Tom Hanks is one of the very few that are in the collection of movies I have.

And some are series - mostly television series, but some movies, too. The Shrek films are there; the Open Season movies; and the Star Trek films are there. The first three Star Wars movies are there but by that I mean numbers 4, 5, and 6 - I did not care at all for 1, 2, and 3. And others as well.

Some are science fiction and some are comedies - romantic and otherwise - and some are dramas. I have criteria for those beyond just the genre. Dramas cannot be too dark - humour has to be in it. Comedies cannot be dopey - I hated Something About Mary. Everyone else I know loved it (I can't image why). Science fiction and dramas can't be too gory. I don't mind most of the Grey's Anatomy shows; I have seen a few CSI: Crime Scene Investigation that I had to close my eyes or turn away, because a scene was too violent.

I can go out on the ambulance to see real horrors and blood and it is a wholly different thing from seeing movies with realistic gore.

I've run out the steam...

Saturday, 3 July 2010

More Unrealistic Goals

I've been setting myself up for failure. I want to have a post a day on my blog but I'm very erratic both by nature and by the job(s). My statistics are all over:

January: 10
February: 22
March: 16
April: 32
May: 33
June: 17

July's first post went up last night, but I keep forgetting that it is only 3 July.

So for the year I have put up 133 posts... so I need 50 more posts to catch up to the mid-year amount. No problem...

Geriatrics and Pediatrics

My mother is in Wayne General (now St. Joseph's) after throwing up what looks exactly like coffee grounds. The whole story:

Thursday night she had a seizure. She had a grand mal seizure, which is uglier than the little ones that are still disturbing to other people. Ray said that the post-dictal phase was too long and so he called 9-1-1 (this took years of training to get him to react the right way to emergencies, so no criticising!). They did a CAT scan of the brain (of which I don't know what was seen, having been on call for our own patients), then sent her home.

She vomited at 0800 and as much as I don't recall the conversation, I do remember him trying to describe the vomitus and asking if it looked like coffee grounds He immediately said yes, and I said hang up now and call the doctor. Tell him it looks like coffee grounds. He'll know what it means.

I know what it means. It means internal bleeding.

Internal bleeding can be ulcers or a major GI bleed or a whole host of things. But my mother has no history of ulcerations or GI issues (other than late-in-life self diagnosing herself with IBS, which really means nothing). She is taking Coumadin, a blood thinner that is like aspirin on crack. It's one of the worst drugs on the market. We hate it - this is the kind of drug that kills people in the field. It's not good if we can't stop the blood flow.

Well, I don;t know where the blood in her system is coming from specifically, but there is a tube down one nostril into her stomach. Her veins are all for shit, so they had to tap her in the top left part of her chest. (I missed that by moments, unfortunately. We don't see that in the field often), and she's not a compliant patient. She is the patient that rips IVs out of her hand or arm. I suppose we are fortunate that the right side of her is non-functional so it makes it much harder to rip tubes.

She did not seen to see us or really know where she was - although it is an argument that the fear in her eyes made me think that she knows this is serious. It is tough to know what she is thinking or feeling but I know fear. The look is unmistakable. I said the reassuring words but really, there is nothing good to say about internal bleeding and where this will go.

Welcome to aging parents.

The pediatrics side was simpler. One of our patients on Father's Day was 8 days old. Eight days old. This human life was so tiny, her head fit in my hand... my tiny hand. It was amazing. I still have no desire to be parent; but what an experience.

The balance of life. Old and young, they're all in diapers.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Playing with the Mac Mini (and Other Stuff)

Luis went onto Apple.com and after some vacillating, bought a Mac Mini. It's absolutely tiny! The keyboard and magic mouse arrived a few days ago. the actual unit, which is maybe 7" (15cm) across and front to back, came from China... the whole journey tracked by Luis, who wanted to know every minute where it was. He's been setting it up since he got home.

It's really quite amazing! The image is sharp, the computer allows the user to make the font as large or small as he or she would like it to be and the interface is easy to use. The 42" telly doesn't hurt, but any telly will handle this.

NetFlix was also a crisp, clear image and streamed in a much better fashion on the Mac Mini than ever before - through TiVO. The interface allows the user to set up a multitude of things - YouTube, NetFlix, Flex, the internet, Pandora, and iTunes, to name a few. This is the new toy in the house. I need to refamiliarise myself with Mac keys, using the Command key instead of control... and I have no idea how diacritical marks work... let's see... no, it's not "option"... not "control"... and not fn (function)‚ I tried what looked like the alt key, but that is not right either. I'll have to look it up. Still, I'm not too rusty after nearly twenty years of not touching a Mac computer.

It was a little expensive, over $1,000 but you know Luis - spare no expense when it comes to toys! He has a funny idea of what has value enough to spend money (underwear and socks have the lowest priority; furniture has low priority; household repairs that are not screaming necessities are low-medium priorities; green household expenses are high priorities and of course toys/entertainment top the charts.

My list is different and if I held onto my money for more than half a second, I could easily do most of the stuff. But my priority list is topped by small, seemingly valueless items - books, CDs, DVDs, crystals, candles, pens, organising tools, and other unique items.

I just finished a book called "Stuff", about hoarders.Maybe you don't know any, but I'm betting you do - it happens to around 5% of the population, which is a staggering number. I don't - or can't think of - anyone personally that I know who hoards, but as an emergency medical technician, I've come across it - more than once - in the field. I remember being pissed off at the scene... it is unrealistic to expect that I can wend my way with stretcher and jump kit in tow through a ten-inch wide aisle between the chest high stacks of newspapers, broken toys, kitchen implements in a kitchen that is unusable and get any weight patient out. But after the frustration of thw call (and finally ambulating the patient out because if we tried to touch anything, there was a major meltdown), it occurred to me that there was something psychological to this.

I get collecting - I don't get the piles. I have one room with stuff in it, but it is not a problem discarding as much as just never finding the time to go down there and clean it out. Ask Luis - he'll tell you it would be nice if I'd knock off the discarding stuff!

The book is fascinating and I highly recommend it. Certainly it gave me a new perspective on hoarding.

Ah, yes, it is 2 July - I hear rather large but unprofessional fireworks being set off not far from here. I agree with the stringent laws of New Jersey about fireworks (the average person is entirely too stupid to be allowed to play with explosives - but I do remember Ray getting them in New York or Pennsylvania and setting them off. I cannot tell you how fortunate we were not to take off a hand, burn the house down or start a brush fire in the backyard - and believe me, it was sheer screaming dumb luck that did it - but we never did harm ourselves or anyone else doing it.

When I was a kid in Pennsylvania, we would go over to the Hills' house and they set up a show that was as good as any professional show in larger towns. They had it all, and we had sparklers to play with (although I've never been a fan of sparklers - I was always afraid of setting my hand on fire. (That is me all over, even to this day.)

Well! This is really cool - I like having this set up on the telly! I love that I can do stuff on the Internet without havinf to turn on my laptop. Next stop (briefly), Facebook!