Friday, 29 April 2011

Another One Bites the Dust! (LaToya Gone!)

Ye gods.

Normally, I don't want to post the whole thing each week when there is another two-hour episode of Celebrity Apprentice, but after this last one... well, wow. They both fell flat on their faces. Both teams did poorly and were eaten alive by the executives. They were chewed up and spit out. The mens' team had only three guys who were overworked (but still very relieved not to have Gary). But the little details, like leaving out any - ANY - kind of contact information, was a huge gaff. And while the men used to have the creative edge, they did not have it this time. They stuck to the tried and true methods of what high-end hospitality is.

And then there was the womens' team.

Ouch.

Star Jones was the team leader and as usual she glued herself to the laptop to put it all together. The concept was to create four images that showed how high-end Trump hotels are. Star visualised four different images and there were errors. Star also put together the pitch. It was terrible. Just terrible. Hope was wearing a towel while in the bathtub, it was visible. The champagne that Hope was supposed to be drinking was next to a closed (as in sealed) bottle of champagne. It looked like an ad for the Poconos.

The pitch, well, what a fiasco. Star did the bulk of the speaking and then the four other women had a one-word entrance (such as "elegant", "discreet") - with the notable exception of Marlee, the rest sounded bored and lackluster. I wouldn't characterise Marlee as anything like the rest, although she plays the game really well and is (just like the rest) reluctant to name one person to be fired. But she is several cuts above the rest.

Star pulled in LaToya Jackson and NeNe Leakes to the boardroom. It is amazing. LaToya is terrible. She is wussy and useless. No spine whatsoever. She never has a spine. Star has so much spine - along with NeNe - that LaToya can't go anywhere. She was right to roll her eyes about this task, but she did not stand up to Star at the meetings to say, "Hey, I disagree with your concepts." Her argument? "You can't say anything to Star." Well, you didn't even try.

NeNe is right, LaToya is not strong. But Star is too much. Somewhere there is a balance, but they can't find it. Anywhere. Donald oddly thinks LaToya is good, but recognised that the womens team really had no use for her. So her fired her just like that. It was a good change.

So another week marches on with now seven total players. I see Meatloaf, John Rich and Marlee as finalists. Star won't make it (too controlling, too pushy), Lil John probably won't make it (I can't pin down why specifically, but I can't see him exceeding John Rich or Meatloaf), and NeNe Leakes is really a follower rather than a leader. She is strong in that she won't keep anything to herself, but that doesn't make her good at her job (on this show).

She is here to win, but won't. I hope she outlasts Star, but after that I won't stand behind her.

My personal vote? Marlee Matlin. She's incredible.

The Royal Wedding (Just a Brief Post)

I left the telly on last night when I crashed and did not hear it until 0530. I woke up just in time to see Prince William entering the Westminster Abbey. He looked very nice. Of course, the fuss was all about Kate, who got into the Rolls Royce without really giving away any of what her dress looked like. She was veiled and waving enthusiastically the whole five-minute drive and then she extricated herself from the car.

She looked lovely.

The dress was beautiful - elegant, simple, lacey arms, maybe an 8-foot train, quite tasteful, not the puffy arms of Princess Di's dress with that unbelievably long train. And her sister Pippa had a simple sheath-like white satiny dress that looked comfortable as well. (Some where already talking about her wearing white, but so what? She hardly out did the bride. No one had any trouble discerning who was who. I find that sort of sniping to be pointless.)

The kids where well-behaved and the wedding went smoothly. I fell asleep right at the end of the ceremony, so I've nothing else to say about it, but I think Kate looked great - and they both seemed quite relaxed - so congratulations to both!

I Hate Presidential Elections

That doesn't sound promising but there it is.

I had thought for a while that I might vote for Donald Trump. But a few things I read and learned about him has made me rethink that poor decision. It seems that while he is still a million or billionaire, his properties have all turned into money pits and he is using 90% of the profit to put into other ventures. Doing stupid things with money is endemic I suppose, but that is worse when it is playing Russian Roulette with one's business finances.

Last night I read how Donald began harping on President Obama's birth certificate. I was floored. He sounds like a conspiracy theorist, now. How disheartening. I'm very disappointed in you, Donald. I thought (foolishly) that you had more integrity than that.

Mike Hucklebee is too scary for me. It will be a cold day in Hell before I vote for any bible-thumping maniac. These ultra-religious people all scare me - they will wade into this with the mindset of taking the separation of church and state out; overturning Roe v. Wade; the gods know what else. No, thank you. This one makes me think of McCain (yikes) and Palin (BBBBBR-R-R-R-R-R-R!). More scary religious people doesn't inspire me to vote for them.

Romey Something-or-Other doesn't particularly excite me either. I don't know enough about him to know what he is like or what he has as his official positions on this or that issue.

And then there is our current incumbent, President Obama. It took me ten minutes to figure out if I should vote for him or not when we went to the presidential election. He was the lesser of the evils presented and while I gave serious consideration to voting for Ralph Nader, I just figured I'd be wasting my voice on that. Clearly no one (or almost no one) was voting for him. I sucked it up and finally went with President Obama. I wouldn't call it a success.

And I won't vote for him again. However, I could care less where he was born.

So it seems I am back to square one on where my civic duty to vote and have a voice should take me. I hate this. Every four years I hate this. We are getting stuck more and more with people who purport to support one ideal while working for another. We listen to these politicians who speak in circles and try to figure out where they really stand. By the time we get to the smear campaigns, I'm sick of hearing from and about any of them. (The smear campaigns should be illegal.)

So already I am worrying about who the next horror will be even though this horror still has two years to go. Wonderful...

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The Royal Nuptials

I setup the TiVO to record the Royal Wedding. Why not? I watched a fair amount of the 1981 wedding of Di and Prince Charles, but there was no recording device then - At least we didn't have one then, so I was laying in bed listening to the cast of the wedding. England is five or six hours ahead of us, so I am not getting up at 0400 just to hear the people staffing E! speculating for an hour on what Kate Middleton will be wearing. (Little tip: she will be wearing a wedding dress. Anything else is just gravy.All this fuss because no one's seen the dress yet!)

I remember Di's dress, this unbelievably fluffy nightmare with something completely ridiculous like a 30-foot train. Why? I suspect she was dying to get out of that thing. I wouldn't have gotten in it, but it's tough to know if she was pushed to pick an over the top Disney Princess dress or if she really had such poor taste. I don't mean to knock her fashion sense - normally she looked very natty all the time.

Kate appears to have a good head on her shoulders when it comes to dressing. She always looks impeccable. I actually think she gave up dressing like a slouch after dating will for so long. It's a pity when you can't wear what you want, run out in sweats or cargo pants or (my favourite) jeans because you happen to be dating someone from the house of Windsor.

(Is that the Royal families' surname? I'm never sure how that works. How interesting. They had the title or surname of Saxon-Coburg & Gotha but during World WarI, the royal family wanted to cut all possible ties to Germany, so George V made this proclamation: "Now, therefore, We, out of Our Royal Will and Authority, do hereby declare and announce that as from the date of this Our Royal Proclamation Our House and Family shall be styled and known as the House and Family of Windsor, and that all the descendants in the male line of Our said Grandmother Queen Victoria who are subjects of these Realms, other than female descendants who may marry or may have married, shall bear the said Name of Windsor.")

Kate seems to be accustomed to the hype and bullshit that goes with dating one from the Windsor family. On the other hand, I wonder if the press will go crazy over watching her every second to see if she gets pregnant right away. I guess with Di, there was a huge interest due to Prince Charles' age and his not having produced an heir. I wonder if they have learned their lesson about getting past the perceived stigma of the divorced woman. Clearly they got past the marriage part - they did not stop Prince Charles from marrying Camilla Parker-Bowles. I was quite happy to see he married her. He was always madly in love with her and should have married her from the get-go. They would have bypassed a lot of bad press and emotional upheaval if they hadn't pushed Prince Charles to marry Princess Di.

I know King Edward VIII had step down and abdicate his throne, which he did before the year was out, leaving way for Prince Albert to become King George VI. Prince Edward married Wallace Simpson, a twice divorced woman, much to his family's horror.

At least Prince Charles is still the heir apparent. The Parliament and other countries still under the Windsors have gotten past that. Prince Charles made a mistake in not marrying Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, but I think he made up for a lot of the ignominies that followed the divorce of Diana by standing up to Parliament and insisting that the Royal family bring the body home, arrange and pay for the funeral, and as mother to the next heir apparent, give her a royal burial. His and Camilla's vows also included an apology for their behaviour during the marriage.

Quite a man, that Prince Charles. I'll be interested to see if he becomes Charles III or George VII when he ascends the throne. He'll be the oldest man to ascend the throne. Curiously enough, for a royal family, they seem remarkably long lived. The Queen Mother died at age 101, Just 8 days from 102nd birthday. Queen Elizabeth II, King GeorgeV and Elizabeth's daughter, ascended the throne in 1952 and she's 85 and in excellent health.

So Friday marks a new age for the Windsors. And I think that, like most people, this is a marriage that will last and be very sweet.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Article: Lindsay Lohan to Clean L.A. Morgue

Now, this is justice!

"As a result of being found in violation of probation, Lindsay Lohan will be collecting trash, emptying trash bins, mopping floors and cleaning windows and restrooms at the L.A. County Department of Coroner's facility.

"She won't be handling any dead bodies but she'll certainly see them,” Coroner Assistant Chief Ed Winter tells People of the actress, 24, who also has been ordered to complete 360 hours of service at the Downtown Women's Center, a homeless shelter located in L.A.'s Skid Row.

Lohan must enroll in the two programs within a week and has a year to complete them, according to People.

The actress – who previously completed a DUI morgue program following her second drunk-driving conviction 2007 – remains free on $75,000 bail (she was sentenced to 120 days behind bars Friday).

The trial in her grand theft charge begins June 3. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of an additional year in jail."

I know this couldn't have happened to a better person-- no, wait, I'm wrong. It could have - and should have - happened to the other idiot, Paris Hilton. Let's have them do it together!

I am bitter that the stars of the world (which is to say the rich and famous) get away with behaviour that we would immediately do time and/or community service. We may not be well known, but clearly the message is a simple one: if this your 15 minutes of fame, this is the time to be publicly drunk, beating your spouse, doing cocaine (and telling the arresting constabulary that this isn't your bag and you know that this stuff was gum), etc. Because you can do that and get away with it!

I guess Lindsay has been arrested SO many times that the "rich & famous" statute of limitations has actually run out!

I wonder if any of the bodies will educate her?

Saturday Six: #364

I am on the verge of hitting the 9,000th comment, and it’s likely that someone playing this week’s set of questions might be the one to post it. How cool is that?

Since yesterday was April Fools’ Day, I thought I’d post some joke-related questions. I hope you weren’t the victim of too many of them, or that if you were, you at least had a good sense of humor about it!

Thanks for playing!

  • Be sure to check back this week and click on the links of bloggers who play along in the comments below! It’s a great way to find blogs you may not have visited and to keep the conversation going!

Here are this week’s “Saturday Six” questions. Either answer the questions in a comment here, or put the answers in an entry on your blog… But don’t forget to leave a link to your blog so that everyone else can visit! Permission is not granted to copy the questions to message boards for the purpose of having members answer and play along there. Enjoy!

1. How many times have you forwarded an email only to discover the information in it was false?

A couple of times. Now I look into them to see if they are real or hoaxes.

2. Did you get any jokes played on you this April Fools’ Day?

Mmmm, yes. Someone told me that he has a degree in astrophysics and I completely believed him. Duh...

3. What’s the worst joke you recall being played on you?

A girl I used to hang out with when we were kids took my slice of pizza, lifted up the cheese and laced it with the hot bits (I'm sure you know what I mean) when she thought I wasn't looking. But something made me look (basic mistrust) and I saw her doing it. I got my drink, told her to get hers and switched the slices. She was so pissed off but that was the last time she tried to pull anything like that. Lesson learned.

4. Take the quiz: Are You Easily Fooled?

Not sure that this is correct:

You Are Not Easily Fooled

You may have been fooled in the past, but you won't get fooled again. You're wise to the ways of the world.
If something seems fishy, you stay far away from it. And if you're not sure, you investigate.

You know how to protect yourself. You know how to cut through the crap and see what someone's truly about.
You may come off as skeptical and doubting, but you've found that your skepticism is often warranted.

5. At your workplace, are you more likely to be the victim of a prank or the instigator?

I did Human Resources for a living. I was the hanging posse and glad of it. I have an incredibly low, low tolerance for practical jokes and think little of those who practice it.

6. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the greatest, how would you rate your boss’s sense of humor?

I would rank it very high. He's an amazing person. I have no idea if he is a practical joker - never at work, obviously. But I tend to doubt it. And I would not want to think he is.

Saturday Six #365

I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed doing these!

With this edition of the Saturday Six, I could say, numerically, that if this were a daily rather than a weekly meme, there would be enough editions to have run the course of a full year.

Since it’s weekly, though, we’re into year seven. This week’s edition is slightly different in that the off-site quiz I usually throw into the mix is of local origin: I am conducting a reader survey here at Patrick’s Place and I would really like to get your opinion on a few things. As surveys go, this one is particularly short, just 10 questions in all.

So I hope you’ll take the quick survey if you haven’t already, then answer the rest of the blog-related questions here.

Thanks for playing!

  • Be sure to check back this week and click on the links of bloggers who play along in the comments below! It’s a great way to find blogs you may not have visited and to keep the conversation going!

Here are this week’s “Saturday Six” questions. Either answer the questions in a comment here, or put the answers in an entry on your blog… But don’t forget to leave a link to your blog so that everyone else can visit! Permission is not granted to copy the questions to message boards for the purpose of having members answer and play along there. Enjoy!

1. Take the survey: The Patrck’s Place Survey.

2. When do you remember first becoming a reader of blogs online? (Not just this one, but blogs in general?)

In 2005, I saw my cousin's blog. It was a few months before I signedup with Blogger and I have been hooked since.

3. How many bloggers that you’ve read have you actually met in person?

Aside from my cousin? None.

4. Given the chance, would you attend a workshop on blogging and techniques to increase your audience?

Sure, why not? I'm retired now, got tons of time on my hands!

5. What is most annoying to you about the average blog you have read?

Well, blogs are like opinions or children - any idiot can have one, regardless of intelligence or inability to write. But I stay away from idiot-driven drivel.

6. If you had to pick one single subject you most enjoy reading about on a blog, which subject would it be?

Just one topic? I don't think I can limit my reading so much, anymore than I can with books.

Saturday Six #366

First, let me thank those who played last week and who took The Patrck’s Place Survey. I appreciate your input. If you haven’t taken it, please do so: it’s a short survey and it will help me continue to improve the blog and make sure it’s delivering what you want.

The big news late this week that ABC is killing two of the few remaining soap operas on the air is inspiring this week’s set of questions.

You don’t have to be a soap fan to play along, because the general theme is television rather than, specifically, soap operas!

So grab your remotes and get ready to answer six quick questions! Thanks for playing!

  • Be sure to check back this week and click on the links of bloggers who play along in the comments below! It’s a great way to find blogs you may not have visited and to keep the conversation going!

Here are this week’s “Saturday Six” questions. Either answer the questions in a comment here, or put the answers in an entry on your blog… But don’t forget to leave a link to your blog so that everyone else can visit! Permission is not granted to copy the questions to message boards for the purpose of having members answer and play along there. Enjoy!

1. What was the last show whose cancellation really surprised you?

Oh, wow... let me think. So many good shows have gone the way of the wild buffalo. My choice would be (at this moment) Reaper. That was a fun show and Ray Wise was just the bomb as the Devil.

2. Many believe that the soap opera genre is quickly dying. Which genre do you wish would drop dead tomorrow?

Oh, too easy - reality shows! Let's kill them all!

3. What show do you watch most often or with the most enthusiasm each week?

Oh, my... Bones, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Castle...

4. Which program that you watch regularly, if cancelled, would be the biggest blow to your weekly entertainment choices?

H'mmm... I think anyone of them. I really love intellectually stimulating television. So it is a disappointment when any of the handful of shows I watch gets the axe.

5. Which show do you wish would go away, never to be seen (or remade) again?

Again, too easy. Any show with "Jersey" in the title. The worst offender, naturally, is The Jersey Shore. Please, please, please do not represent 8 million people by the seven or eight sleaziest losers you could find - most of whom are not from New Jersey.

6. Which television personality would you most like to see banished to the world of cancellation?

Snookie. She's destined for hell, anyway. Getting her there a little faster would not be a loss to anyone.

Saturday Six #367

Hope you’re having a great Easter weekend! I definitely am, but I’ll go into more details on that in a later post.

Here’s another set of six questions…so get those thinking caps on! Thanks for stopping by and thanks for playing.

  • Be sure to check back this week and click on the links of bloggers who play along in the comments below! It’s a great way to find blogs you may not have visited and to keep the conversation going!

Here are this week’s “Saturday Six” questions. Either answer the questions in a comment here, or put the answers in an entry on your blog… But don’t forget to leave a link to your blog so that everyone else can visit! Permission is not granted to copy the questions to message boards for the purpose of having members answer and play along there. Enjoy!

1. Do you still have your tonsils? If not, how old were you when it was removed?

I have my tonsils, I hate to admit it... they scare me but nowadays, doctors are reluctant to take them out. In fact, I don't think they come out anymore unless it is really life-threatening.

2. Do you still have your appendix? If not, how old were you when it was removed?

I have that, too. If you think having tonsils makes me nervous, you should think about what EMTs think about having their appendix left - knowing what it is like when others have to go into surgery to remove it before it blows!

3. Do you still have your wisdom teeth? If not, how old were you when they were removed?

Those came in at age 17 and were out at age 19. They all grew in normally but abysmal tooth care and a love of candy ensured that they all came out early.

4. What’s the worst injury you remember receiving, and how old were you when it happened?

That is a long story. The short of it was I was 33 years old, ran out of gas and while waiting with an officer for fuel to show up, I was struck by a 1988 Nissan Pathfinder... while I was on foot. I had bruises and road rash all over and the worst part was I was still dressed as a wench coming home from the faire...!

5. Have you ever had to have surgery for any reason? Was the recovery worse than you expected, better or just as you expected?

I had athroscopic knee surgery on my right knee in 1996. It was fine. I recovered incredibly fast, having been laid up for 10 weeks prior to surgery. The doc woke me in the middle of the surgery to see it happening, just as I'd asked. Pretty cool!

6. If technology progressed to the point that you could literally change any one thing about yourself and money weren’t an object, what change would you make?

Where would I start? I used to have a whole wish list... blue or green eyes instead of brown; a long neck; perfect teeth; look like Michelle Pfeiffer... now my wish list is simple: healthy. I would give up the muscular dystrophy and be happy with my brown eyes, non-existent neck, icky teeth and my own face. Amazing how that changes, isn't it?

When Good Writers Stop Writing

I still have this link on my blog, and the last post was 2006. Still, I wish I'd written this:

Interplanetary whiskey on the rocks

Unfortunately very short on whiskey (some god or alien or something must have drunk it all a long time ago (Might explain a few things)), but there is absolutely no shortage on ice planets out there. At least if the suggestion put forth to the International Astronomical Union (Not an astronomical large union, just a group of astronomers deciding how big a piece of rock needs to be to be called a planet, and what the before mentioned planet is supposed to be called.) But first: How does the solar system look like today:

Well, smack in the middle you have a rather big yellow thingy, called the Sun. (You can see it during the day. It's the big yellow bright spot that appear to play hide and seek among the clouds up there... On occasion more hide than seek unfortunately.) (The Sun weighs 332950 times more than the Earth, for those that like numbers). Everything else that exist in the solar system orbits around this big yellow thingy. (With the exception of those rocks that orbit the rocks that orbit the Sun. Or the rocks that obit the rocks that orbit the rocks that orbits the Sun. Or the rocks that orbit the rocks that orbit the rocks that orbit the rocks that orbit the Sun. Or the... You get the idea). Now, the biggest of these rocks that orbit the Sun is called planets. (They are not made purely of rock though. Also ice and gasses of differing type can be found, sometimes in much larger quantities that rocks.) The planets in our solar system is divided into three types. Type one is made of stone and metals, and orbit rather close to the Sun. The names of these are Mercury (Freakishly warm), Venus (Even warmer), Earth (We live here) and Mars (Red sandy place, with a lot of small human-made metal boxes in orbit). Type two is the humongous gas giants. They too are made of stone and metals, but as their name suggests, the main ingredient in these are gas. The end result is that the surface of these planets are somewhat unsurfacey, or to but it bluntly: They have a significant lack of one. The names of these planets are: Jupiter (The biggest planet in the solar system, some 318 times more massive than the Earth), Saturn (the nice one with the rings), Uranus (Cold place, orbiting on its back), and Neptune (Even colder). Now, the third type of planets, a type I honestly think should not be called planets at all, is Pluto. (Not named after Mickey Mouse's dog.) The ninth planet in the solar system is called Pluto, and is made of ice (and some rocks thrown in for good measure).

Ok, that's all the planets. There are however other things in the solar system. A few hundred moons (That are the rocks that orbit the rocks that orbit the sun), asteroids (A bunch of small rocks that orbit mostly between Mars and Jupiter. Usually seen together with big headlines in the newspapers like: “This rock might hit us in 2235”, and then a blurry picture of something that look like a peanut , pea or some other consumable) and blocks of ice to name a few. These blocks of ice (Pluto is one of them), orbit the sun very far out, and are divided into Kuyper belt objects and Oort cloud objects. (Depending on how far out they are.) When these lumps of ice come close to the sun, we see them as comets. (There happens to be at least a few millions of these Oort cloud and Kuyper belt objects).

For those that have gotten this far, congratulations. Just remember that next week you might have to learn all this over again. You see, that is when The International Astronomical Union is going to discuss what a planet really is. The problem is simple: They found some lumps of ice that are bigger than Pluto. Should these new lumps of ice be called planets? Or should we do the simple thing and remove the planet status of Pluto? (I know where my vote goes...)

The way it looks now, they are going to decide that Pluto is a planet. Also the fabulously named ice cube 2003 UB313 (The name is going to change), which is around the same size as Pluto, is also going to be called a planet. So 10 planets then? No.. Charon, Pluto's moon is also going to be called a planet from now on. As is Ceres, the biggest of the asteroids in the asteroid belt. (Ceres is about 950 km across. The trip to my grandparents and back is longer...) So, 12 planets then? Yes, sort of. At least for a couple of months. The thing is, there is a lot of lumps of ice out there. As it is now, astronomers have a list with lumps of ice they think are bigger than the lower limit for planets (about 800 km if the Astronomical Union do what it looks they are going to do). So, 20 planets then? 30? Maybe.. At least for now.

However, as telescopes get better and better, we will probably find more and more lumps of ice that satisfy the demands. So if some grandchild of yours should happen to go to school in 2104 or thereabouts, I sure hope he will not have to learn all the names of all the planets. It's probably going to be a few thousand of them, if not more...

Anyway, more on this madness can be found here. Enjoy. (There are also something about the nice cuddly Plutons on that page...)

(Oh, and for those that wondered: Summer holiday is nice. Also, please excuse any lame jokes you might have read during the last few minutes.)

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Too Much Pain & Suffering


This week was the worst week in a long time.

I lost a good friend.

Over the weekend, Todd went fishing, had a great time, came home, played with his kids, went to bed and did not wake up. He had a severe cardiac arrest (not sure if it was classified as a massive myocardial infarction, but those are most often the silent killers when it comes to the heart). Any way you slice it, whatever you call it, a wonderful, warm, intense person died at age 42.

Death stinks. It isn't often as much for the deceased that we grieve as much as for the survivors: his wife, a sweet person who is suddenly bereft; their two kids, 5 years and 2 years; his parents and siblings; his coworkers and friends. We are all devastated and lost because someone we called friend is gone, irrevocably taken from us.

It is unfair, it is wrong, it is horrible. Nothing can be painted as positive in this save for the fact that his death was a peaceful as one could want. It came 40 years too soon, but other than that, he had a lovely weekend (I have this straight from the other fishing party), spent great time with his wife and kids, and went to bed a happy, contented man.

I went to the wake yesterday. There was a long line out the door and it was at a stop. Most of the Grounds guys were there, which was good - I know these guys and am always comfortable with them. Mark and Janet were there ahead in line as well. It was pleasant outside, so other than we were a quiet somber group, it was not an unpleasant wait.

As we slowly filed in to the funeral home, I could hear wailing. We were all upset, but his wife was completely undone - and understandably so. It's different when you are in your 70s or 80s and know that life is now something you have more of and that it may be that your time is coming up. But in your 40s, who plans, thinks about or discusses this? I don't mean that we don't plan things and see to our 401(k) plans and life insurance, but you are not usually actively thinking about you or your spouse not being alive the next day. Not when statistically speaking, this is only half of your life.

There is no way to be ready for this.

By the time we'd reached the front of the hall and could see photos of him, I was silently crying. When we made it to the casket, I was holding it in (mostly unsuccessfully). When I made it to his wife, we both cried like babies. I was looking for something to say, some magic words but all I could say was her name. But she said to me, "Todd loved you, too. He talked about you all the time. The things you did; all the changes you made." I fell completely apart. I told her we'd take care of her. And then it was time to move on.

I stayed only another ten minutes to join the guys from Grounds, hug Mark and chat with him (he was so upset), and then I couldn't take it anymore. I got to my car and cried most of the way home. It tore my guts out.

I cried on and off last night, told Luis about it. As usual, Luis is uncomfortable in huge displays of sadness but he tried his best to be reassuring. Still, what do you say? As much as I looked for words to make it hurt less and totally failed, so did he. There are no right words. Pain has to gone through. Not around, not over, not avoided but lived through. It's the only way to get through it and find some kind of peace.

This is too fresh, too terrible, too shocking - just four days later - to make sense of it. To move through it. It takes time, a long, long time. And we are all raw and hurting. I wish there was something more to do - but there is just time left.

Today was the funeral. I left the house at 0930, but there was a mess on Route 287 that must have been down in Morristown and I did not get to the huge church until 1035. I was embarrassed and parked on the street (parallel parking, if you can imagine and I actually did it!). I found my way into the back of the church, asked a woman for help and asked her if she could get me in unobtrusively. She was very nice, was sure no one would notice... and got me into the side of the huge chapel (I guess this is what it is called - I don't know my church terminology)... in the front! WHAT THE-- how unobtrusive was that?! I was uncomfortably aware that everyone could see me trying to sneak in.

That doesn't mean anyone did see me sneak in.

I am not one that is comfortable or at ease in this kind of situation. It's been a long time since I've been to a funeral and I rarely go to a church for anything. I find them to be beautiful, but I'm not religious. I am spiritual, but I feel this is something that is private and not to be shared so much. And I am not Christian. So a church is always so foreign to me. At some point, everyone says a prayer and as usual, I don't know where the words are, so I have nothing to say. I guess it is indoctrinated into even the most lapsed Catholic, but of course I never learned any of this, so I feel kind of self-conscious in this setting. I normally could care less but right there, as at weddings, I am lost and feel rather naked about it.

The topic of this being holy week came up, and I had totally forgotten about that. Good Friday always meant a day off for me. Easter doesn't mean anything, now. (It used to mean a ham dinner at my parents but holidays are too much for Ray and none of us are religious, so it only meant that.) And I was thinking what holiday is coming up this week? Yikes. The final insult about time having no meaning when one retires.

The service included stories about Todd and that was lovely but again, not a dry eye was to be found. By the time it was over, I was wrecked. Most people where. I did not want to talk to anyone, and except for a few guys from Grounds (who looked far better than I did but were great about not letting it show), I made it to my car in relative safety where I could use up several tissues blowing my nose heartily and trying to make my eyes look less red. I gave that up, but at least could clear my nose.

I got in line to process. It was a longer drive than I'd have thought (Summit is the size of a postage stamp. How long could it take to get to the cemetery?!) but it was at least sunny and clear. I have to admit that rain might have been more fitting to the mood but this was bad enough emotionally without adding that to it. And when we all parked and got out, the temperature suddenly dropped and it got windy - not breezy, like the weather report but windy! I was freezing my butt off. We all were suddenly cold.

It was an interesting ceremony at the graveside. We all got one flower to throw onto the casket or in the grave but first there were words said and then Todd's brother played a piece on a drum that was really very good. It reminded me of the Renaissance Faire and happier moments. I think the older crowd found it strange and in this kind of setting it certainly wasn't typical but the rest of us really liked it.

We did the flower thing and then I hugged Callie again and told her I loved her. Sometimes simple is best and I did not want to take up a lot of her time with so many others there and the wind still whipping through. We all processed back to our vehicles rather quickly and head to the club for the repast.

The repast - of course - was lovely and everyone there was so happy to see me. I was happy to see everyone, too. It was a good reunion, just unhappy circumstances. I was very happy to be distracted from the event that brought me there. I had a lot of good conversations. I sat with the Grounds guys again - we're all comfortable with each other and they know I can't be offended - and it was an enjoyable meal. One of the reps, Kevin from Storr, came to sit with us and tell amusing stories about his coming to BGC the first time, meeting Todd, etc. and it was very funny. He certainly described Todd perfectly!

Even so, by the time I left after 1600, I was exhausted and needed to go. I needed to be alone and cry some more. No doubt this will last a while, but losing a friend is a terrible business. Especially one meant to live so much longer.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Gary Busey Finally Voted Off the Island!

So to speak!

I won't miss him at all. Neither will Lil Jon, John Rich or Meatloaf, who normally an intelligent, verbose, well-spoken man was reduced to gibbering at several points when asked about the task, Gary's being the project manager and other topics. This poor guy has been destroyed each episode by Gary, who has long since lost his marbles, and while he rallies back each time, it's clearly taken his toll. For Meatloaf at most and the rest of his teammates, as well, they all must have slept like babies when Gary was fired!

The women, on the other hand, seemed unhappy, even distressed by this. Keep in mind that this is in the last few moments of the show, so we did not really get a feel for why, but if I had to guess, I'd say it is because no matter how much actual cat-fighting went on with their team, they always knew the men had the great Achilles' heal, Gary, who brought down the last three tasks. Now the men, while only numbering three, can make the very strong, cohesive team that they should have been before!

Now their flaws - most notably LaToya Jackson (shiver) and Star Jones - will be laid bare and this is where they will have to fight to sink or swim. The men's team was kicking their asses all over when there were enough team members to overtake and distract Gary (which was not difficult) from making a total ass of himself. Now they are well rid of him again.

LaToya should have lost the Australian Gold task due to her dithering and complete inability to make anything resembling an opinion. She was wussy and pusillanimous right through to the end. She ignored her teammates who, contrary to her opinion, were not trying to slit her throat as team manager, but trying to advise her so that they would win. She kept insisting it was a conspiracy to get her off the show. What an idiot. And have you ever heard her talk? Mew, mew, mew, too low, too soft, too spineless. Yikes! (This all, of course, supports my theory that she and Michael Jackson were one and the same person.)

Now, if you have been watching the show regularly, you will know why Star Jones is actually more of a liability than a help at this point. This situation has been slowly but clearly evolving over the whole show (I remember griping to Luis about it back in the second or third episode). The issues are two-fold; 1. the woman runs the show on almost every task. She did not pull that off with Marlee Matlin, who never, ever allow that, but with almost all the others she was the mouth, the frontispiece, the main spokesperson. That was not making her popular and Donald Trump Jr. finally commented on it the last time (with the Omaha Steaks task). The second problem is that Star does the same thing every time: the graphics. She does do great graphics; but that is all she does. And it takes all the live long day for her to do it. This I remember seeing almost immediately - she never waited for a task from the team leader; she just stated she'd do the graphics (because that's what she does).

NeNe Leaks (whom I'd never heard of prior to the show) is getting tired of Star and really, actively hates LaToya. Which if you have NeNe's personality, you would see why this is the case. Anyone as wussy as LaToya will get on everyone's nerves - most notably those of us with much stronger personalities but right on down to other wimpy people as well. On the other hand, NeNe is so unaccustomed to anyone attempting to boss her around that Star grates on her nerves as well. I would agree to that as well. I'd be gunning for LaToya first, although smart thinking dictates taking Star - the bigger competitor - out first. LaToya hasn't a prayer in hell of making it to the Celebrity Apprentice winner's circle, no road! Worry about the person who might actually win first.

My two picks for the winner are Marlee Matlin (hands down) and Meat Loaf, although I have to say I have been very impressed by John Rich and Lil Jon. I'd never heard of either of them, and they have not only put on a good showing, but have been excellent team leaders! Now I have to say that John Rich is as strong a contender as Meat Loaf and Marlee but I don't know if Lil Jon could beat them. For the rest, no way. While Hope and NeNe did do well as Project Managers, they did not come in as top contenders as Marlee and John Rich did. Meat Loaf does so well and with great cheer at any task given, he'd be an advantage no matter what.

The other contestants from the beginning: Dionne Warwick, Nikki Taylor, David Cassidy, José Conseco, Lisa Rinna, Richard Hatch and Mark McCarthy were a mixed bag.

Destined for failure was Richard Hatch, David Cassidy, Dionne Warwick and Lisa Rinna. They were not great people and not inspiring Project Managers (those who made it to PM). Nikki Taylor and Mark McCarthy could still be there (certainly Mark could be) had they not made the classic mistake of offering only themselves up for termination. Pity, too. Had Mark not done that, none of those guys would have gotten stuck with Busey yet AGAIN! They may have won the Omaha Steaks task as well.

I personally found José Conseco to be a very gently, pleasant, well-spoken man who had a temper that he kept under wraps well. He's also a huge, tall man with incredibly wide shoulders and a very masculine look. I liked him both physically and for his personality. And in the first episode, he and Richard Hatch, who has the worst people skills ever, hated each other. Richard is a fairly big guy, too; but he was smart enough to keep a physical distance from José. He did, however, get mildly physical with David Cassidy, who was really a pygmy - in general and definitely next to Richard. José witnessed a lot of this, and it was an effort for him not to jump in to defend David.

It did, however, come up with all those who heard and/or saw it in the boardroom. It was even more clear by the glowering look on José' face that he'd have loved nothing more than to beat the ever-lovin' crap out of Richard. Quite frankly, we'd have cheered him on. Richard pissed off everyone.

So it has been a good season so far. I'm enjoying it rather more than usual, and I normally like it.

There are Good Days... and Then There are Bad Days...

Yesterday was a very, very bad day.

I find out yesterday morning that a former coworker of mine from my last job, died Monday morning of no apparent cause. (I can make a terribly educated guess, but it won't change the facts or bring the dead back to life.) I feel awful. I'm going to the wake today from 1600 to 2000 and then the funeral tomorrow at 1000. His wife, who spoke to me frequently, must be a wreck. When I looked at them each year together, I knew I was looking at two people madly in love. I know I would be destroyed by losing Luis.

I also went to the pharmacy and discovered that my major medical insurance was terminated! WHAT the hell?! I realise this is an error of (to me) epic proportions, but there are few errors in the world that cannot be fixed.

The free trial acupressure session I had at 1600 did help a lot, as it followed all the bad news but I still need to move through the first (as is always the case with great sadness) and try like mad to be patient until the second is fixed (I kept wondering where my medication was and thinking that they must have run into a snag refilling it. Duh). I suppose the one silver lining is that there is a check with my name on it awaiting me.

This means I need to stop in at the BGC to pick that up and drop stuff off (like 12 People Magazine issues for Nancy), say hello to Joe and the Accounting Department and then head to Summit to say goodbye to -- well. Happiness first, sadness second.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Spring? What Spring?

Remember on 13 March I posted about looking forward to spring? Big mistake!

What friggin' spring? It has been rainy and raw. Saturday we had a monsoon and now we have flooding - again. As if the first time five weeks ago wasn't enough. And then the week before last it rained five out of seven days. This week was unique - and great for me - in that between Monday and yesterday, there were eight thunderstorms! I love thunderstorms. Bring 'em on!

I don't know what it was like outside today - I seem to feel poorly on Mondays more often than other days, and today was that. (For reasons passing understanding, if I eat at night - you know, night-night, after I've taken meds to go to sleep, if I eat anything, I end up vomiting. Yuck. Last night I made the huge mistake of eating around 0100. At 0130, everything came up, including and most especially the meds that keep me from being in agony. I couldn't eat or take anything until around 1100. I was a mess. And the worst thing is after the first time, there is nothing but bile to come up and that is painful.) Stupid me.

Let's see what this week holds for the weather... Shocking... rain all week except for Thursday. How charming. And a flood warning is on. Just delightful.

I have in my hot little hands my new hammock and I can't wait to lay in it. However, except for last Monday, when it was 80 plus degrees out, it's been too cold out. (I'm sorry, but 50 - 60 degrees is not warm enough. Not even close.) So no hammock for me. I haven't put it out yet, either. I want to get some kind of cover so that the ropes don't go south after a whole season of being outside. (I take the cover in and out, but not the actual hammock. That's too hard to do every day. I have enough trouble getting it outside and on the metal thing as it is.

I winder how things are going on the course. Too much rain keeps them at a run. And this is too much rain!

I miss working. I don't cry over it anymore, but it still gets me down. I do love somethings, though. I'm reading a book in two days instead of ten. I sleep like a baby (usually). I can take a nap in the middle of the day, which helps a lot. And I see Ray three days a week and help him run errands. I can go to my doc appointments in the morning instead of attempting the impossible - leaving work on time and racing to get there. I love spending more time with the kitties. I work on my jigsaw puzzle. (The current one is 3,000 pieces.)

But I miss working.

This is probably strange to most people, but I loved my job. I loved working. I loved the interaction. I loved the whole process. And I've been working 30 years. I'm used to it. It is weird to not get up at 0500. I get up around 0800. I have breakfast, do things around the house then take a nap. The afternoon is mine to do as I like. When the weather is better I'll get out and about more often. But I'm not unhappy. And I watch even less television than before. And I'm helping another person get through their EMT classes, which is nice. I like helping people. And at least I can still do that. I remember going through those classes.

The best part was the ER time. Heh, heh, heh!

So I am getting used to it. I'm not used to no income (which is temporary but still annoying) but it has certainly curbed my rampant spending. Sigh... Still, it didn't inspire me to do my taxes until today (at 1900). I so hate doing my taxes. I get a refund as usual, but just hate doing it so much that I avoid it at all costs. Good thing it was postponed until today. I didn't want to do it Friday. (I had both Luis and Ray nagging me to do it, though.)

So that is the spring in a nutshell...

New Jersey Hospital Ratings

I went to the hairdresser (finally) and completely forgot to bring a book, something I never do. I was bent out of shape - it takes about 45 minutes for the dye to soak in, which is all downtime - and I usually don't care to join the aimless twitters of the other customers. Ever notice that? It's usually women in there, and they just yak, yak, yak about mindless things. Or their children, which is where I totally lose interest instead of merely being bored. So I read.

However, without a book, I had to begin weeding through the proffered magazines. Most were perfectly dreadful - Redbook, Home [whatever], Cosmopolitan (I remember my mother read that incessantly, and I never could get into it. It's a terribly stupid publication), etc. And then I came across Inside Jersey, which I might normally have bypassed, but emblazoned on the cover is the phrase "TOP HOSPITALS". Okay! This I want to read.

It's a huge article, and then it breaks down into top rated hospitals (more than 350 beds) and top rated (under 350 beds). Then it broke it down further into categories:

Doctors Surveys
Top hospitals overall
Top breast cancer treatment
Top prostate cancer treatment
Top pediatric treatment
Top coronary surgery
Top hip & knee surgery
Top heart failure treatment
Top stroke treatment
Top high-risk pregnancy treatment
Top neurological disorder treatment

Patient surveys (post-release)
Top rated hospitals overall
Top room & bathroom clean rated hospitals
Top hospitals with doctors who always communicated well
Top hospitals with registered nurses who always communicated well

That is a comprehensive survey. The problem I have with it was that the doctors did most of the rating. Not exactly the best barometer. It's understandable, but they might have wanted to put in a section of surveys by EMTs/Paramedics.

I would have not rated St. Barnabas as number 9 under "Top room & bathroom clean rated hospitals" (and that is 9 out of 10, not exactly a stellar rating) - we've had major complaints when we have brought in patients. The room was disgusting - food remains all over, bed not made with messy sheets on it, just awful. And when we found the nurse for the ER, she dished out a boatload of venomous comments and was slow as hell in having someone come and clean the room. It isn't enough that we are out of service for an hour when we have to hike our cookies and patient to St. Barnabas (who loves to tell us they are on divert because they don't want - anymore patients as opposed to actually being overloaded - and oh, little tip: ERs can't be on divert for overall patients, only specific areas), but then we are abused by the staff because they are behind in cleaning. Let me be clear: THAT IS NOT OUR JOB.

We need to be released as soon as possible. Our job is simple: get the patient to the hospital alive. Sometimes we can't manage that, but that only happens a tiny percentage of the time. Mostly the patients are not all that emergent. But regardless, we can't guarantee a back-up crew to take calls when we are out and we cannot ditch the current patient for another until we transfer care to the hospital or obtain a sign off. So we need to get our butts out of the hospitals as fast as possible.

St Barnabas could care less.

I rate Mo'town the highest for everything except doctors communicating well. That is a bit of torture. St Clares Denville is OK. Mountainside is immaculate and Hackensack is great for hip & knee surgery and also immaculate. They also were great communicators. Overlook is not a great hospital, but I've only been there as a patient. I hate St. Joe's in Wayne (formerly Wayne General) and Chilton. They so badly mishandled my mother that I was pissed off all the time she was at both hospitals. (Bob hates Chilton, too. He won't take anyone there.) Mo'town improved dramatically after I yelled at the idiot that put her on a sugar drip for an upcoming test. (You don't ever put a diabetic patient on a sugar drip!)

(The idiot was a doctor, but he really did take it well - after all, her chart has "Diabetic" written all over it.)

I've been to Mo'town so many times as both patient and EMT that it is beyond count. We go to St. Clares more often, but I'm not crazy about religious hospitals (and I know a few things that I won't post that convinced me I never want to go as a patient). Luis went there for something and his room had a crucifix... BBBRRRRR.

I'm delighted that Morristown (or as we call it, Mo'town) is the highest rated hospital overall. I agree completely. Number 2 is Hackensack University Medical Center and 3 is Valley Hospital. I haven't been to Valley but I have heard all great things about them. St. Barnabas was rated 6 but that is too nice. UMDNJ is 10.

Ah, well. Time for bed.