Saturday, January 08, 2011

No time like the present.

I've started the transition to a different blog location, but am keeping this one up as an archive.

Come read about what my cat did.
Click Here to Read More..

Friday, January 07, 2011

Just Who Has Been Reading This Blog?!, via Google Reader, informs me of a new service being launched by Pitney Bowes, the postage-meter pioneer.

Described as "a free digital mailbox in 2011 that will allow customers to pay multiple bills online without remembering more than one password," it sounds like a winner.

But the name they came up for it?
Click Here to Read More..

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Why this was a good day

There's been stress from multiple directions throughout the last few months -- the usual challenges, as well as a sense of things unfinished, unaccomplished, and stalled.

Overtime (more on that later) is basically what keeps me afloat financially.  Some afternoons I simply cannot stand to be in the office one minute beyond clockout, but other times it's refreshingly peaceful to have the place to myself for a couple of hours, with the quiet necessary to think and finish tasks.

Wednesdays, I never work overtime.  This is mainly because the cleaning crew comes in and I just prefer to leave them to their business without making them feel like they have to chat with me.  I'd rather they didn't anyway -- I don't need any new friends -- so to make life easier all around, I just go.

Due to this early arrival home on Wednesdays, I've scheduled this as the one day when The Phone Folks can reach me.
Click Here to Read More..

Friday, December 31, 2010

A Happy New Year Wish

and word of appreciation to all my loyal Blogger friends who keep their Thinking Caps on Amid Life's Crises, even when Negativity is the Norm and you feel like a Bad-Tempered Zombie.

Raise your glass of Alpen Wasser!  Have A Taste of Ipecac if you're Pleading For Sanity!  Never turn off those Deep Thoughts or cease your Internal Monologue.  Whether you're a Clergy Guy or just an Everyday Unitarian, I hope the New Year finds you No Longer Quivering and free from Katastrophe.

May all the truly Stupid Evil Bastards in your life Swerve and Vanish -- let them be Forever in Hell, while the rest of us are just Laughing in Purgatory.  No matter how many Post-it Notes From Hades they try to stick on us, despite their Ramblings, we'll just say "Down With Tyranny!"

Let Me Be Frank:  It's All One Thing.

So, my fellow scribes and constant readers,

Namaste, For Today.

...and if you're not included here, my feeble brain just couldn't figure out where to work you in.  I appreciate you just as much!  :) Click Here to Read More..

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

PayPal, Part 3

This morning (why is it always first thing in the morning, before my first infusion of French Roast courage?!), I had an email from PayPal, saying my account had been "limited," and that I needed to change my password and security questions.

Well, okay.  I figured this had followed from the previous week's misadventures in electronic funds transfer.  During that crisis, I had changed my security settings with no prompting from the company.  They, in fact, seemed rather surprised that I had done this on my own, without them having to tell me to do it (or how to do it).

But it had been roughly a week, and since they were coming back to me with this little heads-up, I decided to cooperate and change the password and questions again.  Having recently learned some valuable techniques for creating really hard-to-crack passwords, I figured this would be sort of fun.
Click Here to Read More..

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Lifelong Bad Habit Blown Away By One Good Sneeze

An update on the unpleasant but extremely well-timed sinus infection.

It's mostly fine; I'll be back at work tomorrow (almost looking forward to it -- oh, what the hell, it's a 3-day week, what's not to look forward to!).  The weekend's been sublimely dull & boring; sleep caught up on, one good home-cooked meal successfully executed, assorted filing accomplished, cat spoiled extra-rotten, etc. etc.

I have this one habit that goes all the way back to childhood and I have no idea where it originated.  When I sneeze, I shut my mouth and pinch both nostrils closed. 

Yeah, I know.  Various well-meaning souls (Mom, Dad, both husbands, co-workers and complete strangers) have told me what a terrible habit this is.  "You'll kill yourself!" "You'll give yourself a hemorrhage!"  "You'll blow your brains out!" "You'll go deaf!"  "Your head will explode!"

Well, as should be quite obvious, not one of these predictions has come true.
Click Here to Read More..

Friday, December 24, 2010

(Almost) Robbed: Epilogue, Etc.

Well, the money is back home safe.  PayPal said it might take until the 29th to get it back into the bank, but after all the hoopla, they were probably watching as closely as I, because the transfer has already been completed.  I'd still like to know where this thing originated, though, and certainly hope it wasn't just some silly little glitch on their part.

It's the first day of a 4-day weekend, and I'm quite grateful to have it.  We had our typically laid-back obligatory group luncheon at work yesterday, and approximately two hours before it started, as I was doing my best to get done with anything I didn't want biting me next Tuesday, I noticed some discomfort at the corner of my left eye, near the bridge of the nose.  It felt enough like conjunctivitis for me to be worried, but other than the pain, my eye looked fine.  However, after lunch it got worse in a hurry; I practically ran out the door an hour before the usual clock-out time.  Got some sublime Chinese take-out (several employees brought spouses & kids along for the dinner, which meant virtually no leftovers to bring home).  After dinner, I felt even worse, like the whole left side of my face was puffed up.

"Does my face look weird?" I asked Carl.  That's the sort of question that generally makes him spew a drink all over himself, and it did.  He assured me I was my usual perfectly beautiful self (after the choking subsided).    I went to bed around 7, but woke up several times just moaning.  Blowing the nose didn't help a whole lot.  The only thing that helped was the reassuring presence of my kitty, who peered into my face and trilled at me every time I made a sound.  The pain was, and still is, excruciating.

So as of this morning I have a diagnosis of "acute sinus infection," a prescription for amoxicillin, some OTC suda non-Fed, saline nasal spray, extra Kleenex, and time to wait this sucker out.  Just hoping my face is back to normal by Sunday, since I've got somewhere to be.  Even Carl couldn't lie to me this morning: My face looks like Quasimodo's back.

Cheers, happy  holidays to all!


Click Here to Read More..

Monday, December 20, 2010

I Wuz (Almost) Robbed! Part 1

I slept late Saturday -- after 8 a.m.  Got up, fired up the old PC and started reading my email.

First thing that caught my eye was from PayPal.  "Your transaction is in process," it said.

What transaction?

I've been using PayPal for 7 or 8 years, ever since I first bought something on Ebay.  Lately my participation has been pretty scant, but PayPal is still handy for relatively hassle-free money transfer and charitable donations.  I've heard all sorts of horror stories about it, but have never had the least trouble with it.

Up until Saturday.

First of all, PayPal makes a huge deal about email.  Understandably so, I suppose.  But once you're clued in to the difference between a scam and the legitimate thing, it's fairly easy to tell them apart.  A couple of read-throughs just to be sure, and the next thing, I had logged onto my PayPal account.  Sure enough, there's a transaction "in process," whereby $20 or so is being transferred from my linked bank account into PayPal, with an estimated date of completion around the 22nd.

The problem is, I never authorized any such transaction.  And oh yes, I spent a fair amount of time thinking very carefully, just to make sure something hadn't slipped my increasingly slippery mind.

I will often wait until I amass a respectable sum in my PayPal account and then transfer it into the bank.  Or I will tell PayPal how much I want to send to someone, and they will draw the money from the bank and then send it on.  But I will never simply ask PayPal to transfer money out of my bank into PayPal for no particular reason.  So the "particular reason" became the urgent matter of the moment, with the deeper question, of course, being WHO set this up?   No one on this planet has authorized access to my PayPal account except me.  Not my husband, not my son, not my cat, and not my BFF.

So now that I was 100% up and my pulse was racing (while the coffee hadn't even finished brewing yet), I was on the phone, urgently trying to get hold of PayPal to find out WTF was going on.
Click Here to Read More..

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Two ?Radical Views on Education

Last week I encountered two interesting stories on education.

The first, from the New York Times, talks about a middle school in Minnesota that makes what seems to be a radical leap in policy.  They will evaluate students' academic achievements on the objective results of their tests.  In the process, the whole spectrum of what we call "school" for students is parsed out -- what they've learned, with their behavior and performance in an entirely different category.

Maybe you're thinking "Duh -- how obvious."  That's a natural initial reaction, I think.  It was mine, until I continued reading, and then that ol' lightbulb came on.

What is school about?  I remember my "brilliant" educational career.  Ask nearly any of my high school teachers what they thought of me, and with very few exceptions, they'd give me glowing reviews.  Why?  Because I knew how to, quoting this article, "do" school.

In any situation where my objective knowledge of a subject had to exceed my ability to "do school," I was in trouble.  I could usually find another student somewhere next to whom I looked better, either in terms of performance or personality, and this is what I comforted myself with.  I wasn't a total loser, wasn't at the bottom of the class.  But from this lofty place of middle-aged wisdom where I now stand, it's finally hit me straight on that my good grades did not come from academic achievement.  They came from knowing how to do school.  This is interesting, because I clearly remember how academic grades were shown separately from the "life skills" items (making good use of time, effort, following instructions, conduct, etc.).  But I know that in many cases, the higher grades came from having a good rapport with the teacher.

If the American educational system as a whole adopts these new standards, which separate actual learning from "acceptable behavior," then this is going to be great news for the kids who feel like square pegs -- who don't fit into an accepted social group, or who don't feel like schmoozing with Teach, or who dress funny or have bad attitudes, but who DO grasp the subject matter and can hold their own on tests.  It may also be a wakeup call for the students who are getting by on personality -- and even more so, for their parents.

The other story came from NPR, which had an update on the story of Central Falls High School in Rhode Island, where the teachers were nearly fired en masse, but then got to keep their jobs.  Now morale is low.  Some of the teachers who fought hardest against the firing spoke to the reporter about all they had done for the students - coming in early, staying late, buying glasses, paying rent, buying food.  They are resentful that these efforts don't count with the higher-ups who are pushing for educational reform.
Click Here to Read More..

Saturday, December 11, 2010

This week's USA TODAY news quiz (12/11/10)

No braggin' rights for me this time around.  Only got 5 out of 10.
...but at least I know how to find an exit ramp...

Here's the quiz. Click Here to Read More..

Friday, December 10, 2010


Steve Allen's book Dumbth devotes a lot of time to hours* he's wasted in conversation via telephone with people who just don't get it and never will.

I had such a conversation today.

Our office is participating in a program whereby employees are screened for common health conditions that can potentially raise insurance rates.  I am not here to go into the pros and cons of this plan -- I've heard enough grumbling from co-workers on the subject to last a lifetime.

Unfortunately, I'm in the position of coordinating this project, which will take place in late January.  Yesterday I retrieved a phone message from a young lady whose speech was full of hiccups and "up-talk" -- you know, when every statement is phrased as a question.  "My name is Jennifer Smith?  I'm calling to set up your screening?"
Click Here to Read More..

Saturday, December 04, 2010

This week's USA TODAY news quiz

I got 9 out of 10.

This is a good one.  Some news quizzes are lame, emphasizing numbers and statistics, such as "So N. So got drafted by the Yankees this week -- how much was his contract for?"

Who gives a flip?

Give me good ol' history/geography type questions -- who/what/when/where.

Maybe my addiction to NPR is starting to do me some good. Click Here to Read More..

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Milestones, or, Where the Gray Hair Comes From

It occurred to me a day or two ago that the last 20 years (soon to be 21) have been the toughest in my life!  First Mom died, right after the first of January 1990.  Then my marriage to Doug began to unravel (the unraveling took 5 years, but looking back, the signposts are very clear).  Then Dad died.  Then 2 years after that, we both gave up our jobs to start a business that fell flat on its ass.  Then the divorce.  Chicken pox, a car wreck.  Single parenthood.  Two ID thefts in 5 years.  Conflicts with Doug. 

My relationship with Carl was overall pretty positive, except for the fact that he turned out to be a lemon in the stepfather department.  So from there, I had to contend with trying to keep Wally, Carl and Doug happy.  Throw into the mix my own bumbling management of my life, and the sudden recognition of my own chronic cluelessness just before turning 40.  Depression.  More dumb decisions.  Lousy work habits that came back to bite me.  Moving, first to NY, then back to Atlanta.  Now here.  True, my inner life has changed very much for the better since moving here, but financially it's been a very tough uphill battle.  The year and a half that Wally spent with us certainly didn't help that.  My own "perfect" health also began to fail. 

So it's been tough.  But the best thing, I think, is finally being able to SEE that it's been tough.  Finding a pattern and consciously deciding what to do about it.  I can now focus on breaking this "jinx."  20 years ago I would have assumed that this would happen "if God willed it."  I'm truly grateful to now have as my motto, "If it is to be, it is up to me."
Click Here to Read More..

Friday, November 26, 2010

You Have (Probably) Not Been "Unfollowed." Just Moved.

If you keep assiduous track of who's following you, your count has probably dropped and I am among the missing.  This does not mean I'm not interested in your blog.  Quite the contrary.  I have simply moved about 100 blogs previously being "followed" onto my blog list to the right, so that anyone checking out this site will be more easily aware of yours, too.  My categories are: Atheist, Feminist, Political, Spiritual/Philosophy, Neurodiversity, and just general Favorites.

If you think your blog belongs in a category other than where it is now, let me know and I'll move you.

If you haven't posted in months & months, I've left you where you were for the time being.

Happy reading / writing. Click Here to Read More..

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Oldies But Goodies

I was hunting through an old journal (10 years) looking for something, and realized that some of the entries are hysterical.  Here are a few excerpts:

December 31, 1999

          Obviously, a special night: the last night of the 1990s.  Also, according to most normal folks, it’s the last night of the decade, the century and the millennium.  Some extremely anal-retentive, technical people will insist to the last breath that the new decade/century/millennium doesn’t really start for another year.  But we normal people are ignoring them.  Judging from what they’re showing on TV, there are millions upon millions of normal people, and many of them are celebrating in crowded public areas. 
          I’m currently at the office, having volunteered to do “Y2K watch.”   The concern over massive computer glitches kind of mutated into concern over mass anarchy, terrorism, Armageddon, etc. etc.  Some people are behaving the way they did in the ’50s and ’60s, building bomb shelters and stocking up on staple supplies like water and canned goods. 
          Carl’s niece Terry just had a baby.  One of her mother’s co-workers “warned” his sister that if Terry’s baby wasn’t born before midnight on 12/31, “God will just take it back and it will dissolve back into nothing inside her.”  These are people who actually run around loose and operate machinery!!

Thursday, January 06, 2000
          Things are looking up just the slightest bit.  Yesterday I got my pay stub and saw that it was $2 more than what I usually get.  First reaction:  “They made a mistake.”  Next reaction, “Oh, it’s more.”  Third reaction: “Oh, no, this is the new pay rate, my raise, and this is all I get??”
            I picked up Carl at work, and told him the good news/bad news.  Then awhile later, I showed him the pay stub.  He went over it, item by item, and asked me about my UNICEF donation of $25.  “Damn, baby, you send them $25 a month?”  I told him, no, it was just a one-time donation and……
          Then I realized that yes, it’s just a one-time donation, and it’s just for this pay period!  Which means my next check will be $25 more, $27 more than what I was getting in 1999, and $54 more per month.  Not a fortune, but not bad, either. 
           Wally went to school this morning in 30-degree weather, in shorts, multiple layers on top, and no hat.  I yelled at him and slammed doors and windows, waking Carl.  Then after Wally left the house, I went into his room and took all his shorts away.  He won’t be allowed to wear shorts unless the high temperature for the day is going to be at least 70 degrees, and it has to be at least 45 degrees in the morning when he leaves.  Enough is enough.  He stalls and delays as long as he can, so he knows I’ll be in a hurry to rush him out the door, and uses that tactic to wear clothes that I object to.  Jeez-Louise, we’ve been having this type of war since he was three!  I remember writing a journal entry where we argued about shorts (and woke up Doug…), back in 1994.  The little booger!

Friday, January 07, 2000
          A high-gear, frustrating sort of day.  The most recent example:  I was on the phone, dialing Brother Fax Machines, because our particular machine is malfunctioning.  I’ve been meaning to do this for days, but was delayed by other things.  The preparations for such a call include: making sure you’ve recently changed the toner, because they’ll accuse you of not doing that; getting the model & serial number written down; finding the sales receipt and warranty info; finding the correct, updated number to call; being ready to stay on hold interminably.  Well, I finally got all that in order, made the call, and wouldn’t you know it, some guy from HR calls with a request for some numbers, which I had.  I hung up from Brother, gave Mr. HR the information, and when I went to call Brother back, I got a busy signal, because their queues are full.  Shit.  It’s just that kind of day.  People are missing their paychecks, etc.
Later:  Der fax ist fixt.  The technician told me to put it on the table and whack it.  

Tuesday, March 07, 2000
          We just learned that Wally is:
§         Buying breakfast every day at school (even though I usually give him a pop tart or something for the bus)
§         Buying a full cafeteria lunch
§         Also buying ice cream
§         Eating the lunch I pack him (which includes lots of snacks because he says he’s “starving.”
§         Not bringing home the payment details from the cafeteria, so I now owe nearly $17 in back charges for my little eating machine, who swears up and down that he never eats the cafeteria lunch because he hates it.  The lunch lady read me an itemized list of everything he’s eaten lately:  corn dogs, hot dogs, pizza, chicken nuggets, chicken biscuits, sausage biscuits, cereal, waffles & french toast.  To quote her directly, "Honey, that child eats EVERYTHING."

Click Here to Read More..

Monday, November 22, 2010

Can We Help the ACLU?

I'm usually able to ignore the right-wing fundies who work for the same employer as me, but sometimes there's no dodging the whackadoodle emails that people insist on passing around.

Here's the one I got today.  In the immortal words of Dave Barry, I am NOT making this up:

Christmas cards VERY IMPORTANT!!!!!!
  Pass this on to your church, coworkers, family, and friends.  What do you have to lose but 44 cents, what do you have to gain ----------- more than you will ever know? 
What a clever idea!
Yes, Christmas cards. This is coming early so that you can get ready to include an important address to your list.
Want to have some fun this CHRISTMAS? Send the ACLU a CHRISTMAS CARD this year.  
As they are working so very hard to get rid of the CHRISTMAS part of this holiday, we should all send them a nice, card to brighten up their dark, sad, little world.  Make sure it says "Merry Christmas" on it.
Here's the address, just don't be rude or crude:
[Volly is leaving this out so as not to supply ammo to the wrong reader, TYVM]

Two tons of Christmas cards would freeze their operations because they wouldn't know if any were regular mail containing contributions. So spend 44 cents and tell the ACLU to leave Christmas alone. Also tell them that there is no such thing as a
"Holiday Tree."  It's always been called a CHRISTMAS TREE!
And pass this on to your email lists. We really want to communicate with the ACLU! They really DESERVE us!
For those of you who aren't aware of them, the ACLU, (the American Civil Liberties Union) is the one suing the US Government to take God, Christmas or anything religious away from us. They represent the atheists and others in this war. Help put Christ back in Christmas!

[end of whackadoodle email] there a way to help the ACLU, in case too many people take this crap seriously and send them "Christmas" cards in the hope of tying up their operations while they open the envelopes looking for donations?  
We need some creative ideas.  
Click Here to Read More..

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Always a Happy Ending

We need a little Christmas.  Right this very minute.  We need a little Christmas, now.

Here it is, November 7th, and although the stores have all their decorations up, the music barrage hasn't started yet, and best of all, the usual debates about the "war on Christmas" or lack thereof have yet to begin.

And it won't start here, either.

I'm just here to say that I'm looking forward to the all-too-familiar music, a sprinkling of snow, and the expectant atmosphere that accompanies December.  The anticipation has much to do with the end of the year.

In my journal, I provide a summing-up spot for each week (which for me ends on Fridays), and each month.  Around the 25th of every month, like clockwork, I jot something like "Ah, the end of the month approaches once again, and as always, I'm glad."  For most of my life, New Year's Day has been my favorite holiday.

Why am I always so glad to move on, turn the page, and bid farewell to the past?  I haven't yet gotten to the point where I look ahead to the future and see nothing but failure, but the feeling of defeat does tend to hit about halfway through the week, month, and year.  All of that is due to age and circumstance, and possibly brain chemistry as well.  I'm gradually turning into a pessimist.  One of those people who walk around sighing "What's the use?"  I get tired at the midpoint, thinking "Yeah, yeah, whatever, same-old, same-old, let's see if the new [day/week/month/year] brings any good surprises."  I don't know what it is I'm expecting, since it's finally gotten through to me that "good stuff" won't just come along and jump into my lap.  "If it is to be, it is up to me," as the saying goes.  But if I'm the engine that drives my life, I'm no longer saying "I think I can, I think I can."  Those hills are looking steeper and steeper as time goes by.

A lot of people I know looked forward to the beginning of this year with particular relish -- the last decade has sucked so very spectacularly.  The church I attend had a ceremony in which we wrote down regrets and resolutions.  The regrets were consigned to a burn-barrel out behind the church.  

There's no question that things "felt" better this year -- we all encouraged one another and the renewed vigor got most of us through the little dips and dings.

A lot of groundwork was laid this year and there's still a lot more energy and determination in the air than there was last fall.  The moments of soaring optimism tend to come in spurts nowadays.  I watch for them with the hope of a child scanning the skies for a shooting star. Click Here to Read More..

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Quick Ten Plus 3

Casting about for something worthwhile to write about, I discovered that I had not yet graced the world with a list of my ten favorite movies.  IMDB's Top 250 was a good memory-jogger, since the last few listed have been faves for a long time...I just forgot about 'em.

They are not in any particular order or rank beyond the first two.

  • Love, Actually  
    • Why is it on this list?  My son turned me on to this one.  It has an ensemble cast (Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant, Professors Snape and Trelawney, and one well-known American who wasn't allowed to bring his Sling Blade on the plane, hint hint), catchy tunes, ridiculously funny scenes, plenty of "Aw" moments, and situations everyone can relate to, at least half the time.  A very good first-date movie for the open-minded.
    • You Gotta Be Kidding Me factor:  Well, I know a couple of people who didn't appreciate this movie.  First, my husband, who doesn't like Hugh Grant.  Second, my cousin, who said it took her half the movie to figure out what was going on.  Though she said she liked it more by the time it ended, she didn't request a replay, so I take that as a "meh."  There's simulated sex (one of the couples meets while working as body-double in a movie that features nudity and simulated sex), so I would definitely caution you -- it's sweet and Christmasy, but absolutely NOT a family flick
Click Here to Read More..

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Get this book! Get some REAL inspiration!

Seriously,  Mitch Albom doesn't know doodly-squat about inspirational writing.  The late Mr. Buchwald did.  Afflicted with type 2 diabetes, he experienced loss of kidney function just after his 80th birthday.  This was followed by a medically necessary amputation of his lower leg.  But in order for the surgery to be performed, he had to go on dialysis, something he'd been resisting.  After 12 treatments, he said "Enough," and was accepted into a hospice facility.  No one expected him to survive beyond a month or so, with no kidney function.

Well, guess what? He was released from hospice care after 4 months, because he did not meet the criteria for a "deteriorating" medical condition.  In fact, his kidney started working again, all by itself. 

But while he was in hospice, Mr. Buchwald entertained a large array of prominent people from politics and media, and began collecting all the eulogies that had been prepared in his honor.  They appear in this awesome, wonderful book.

No spoilers here, other than to give away the fact that he did, indeed, pass away eventually.  How eventually can be learned on Wikipedia.  But you can't gain the full measure of his lovely heart and soul from a reference website.  Please read this book.

Naturally, I'll benefit if you click the handy link and order it via Amazon, but please get it any which way you can ... and celebrate. Click Here to Read More..

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Just keeping up the old post count...

...or something...

Still have that persistent feeling that nothing I write here is of significance or importance to annnnybody, but it's also interesting that my most mundane posts frequently attract the most comments, while the rare flashes of political and social insight are less likely to draw comments.  Who knows?  Just one of those mysteries.

But because I get tired of seeing the old subject header every time this page is opened, here's a random update.  My source is none other than the personal diary I keep offline as a Word document.

So here it is.  You asked for it.  Well, actually, no you didn't.  But here it is anyway:

9/1:  FG has friended me on Facebook.  He was, I guess, the first boy I ever kissed – in 9th grade on a music department trip to Washington DC.  I just wanted to try it out, a what-the-hell kind of thing.  Naturally he turned out to be one of the nerdiest kids in the whole school and thought we'd end up getting married or something.  He kept following me around.  I never had the slightest interest in him.  Fortunately, he got married ASAP, to some girl, less than 2 years out of high school.  But – the first thing he said to me on Facebook was how vividly he remembered the kiss.  Mama mia.  No one's gonna tell me my lips are, or ever were, that special!!


Very roller-coastery mood type of day!  I had the alarm set for 8am, but woke up at 6:02 and all I could think of was the neighborhood's executive committee meeting and how I hadn't 1. typed the minutes from last month's meeting; 2. typed an agenda for the president or 3. typed the minutes from the August general residents' meeting that Dorothy R. had recorded when I couldn’t make the meeting on Aug. 12th. [anxiety]
Click Here to Read More..

Monday, August 23, 2010

Virtual Vigilantes and "the Furious Mob Spirit"

I've been wanting to blog on this topic for awhile, so here goes.  And, I suppose, a warning for "graphic" language is in order, for those who don't care for violence.

Lately, there's been a lot of talk about anonymous comments posting on news sites -- how, more often than not, the sentiments expressed are negative, ugly and far from civilized.  The types of things no one would dare say face to face or under their own name.  Some news outlets are either doing away with them altogether or trying to adopt policies similar to what they have always used with regard to sending in a written letter to the editor.  Commenters would have to verify their own name, address and phone number.

I suppose with the internet, there's always a way around such a thing.  That's not the main point of this blog, though.  I've posted a few snarky things here and there that I'd certainly want to revise if my true identity were there and people could call me on my remarks.  But I haven't called for death, torture, maiming or "creative" punishments for wrongdoers, and that type of opinion is always what comes to mind when the topic of banning anonymous comments is discussed.
Click Here to Read More..

Saturday, August 21, 2010

What's New

That was supposed to be a question, actually.  The answer:  My transportation situation has improved.  I ditched the malfunctioning 1997 SUV.  It ditched me, if the truth is to be told.  This happened a couple of months ago -- right after I went to court and paid a fine for expired tag.  I poured a lot of money into the Ford, trying to get the Check Engine light to go out so I could pass inspection.  Not four days later, the radiator and the engine both blew.  The repairs would have run me about $1100 and I decided right then and there that it was not worth it, and I was going to have a newer and more fuel-efficient car, no matter what it took.

It took a lot.  But it worked out this past week.  I got very little for the "Exploder" and had to raid a retirement account.  I also have a monthly car payment where there was none before.  But it's all good.  The best part was not panicking or spiraling into depression or hopelessness.  In the end I bought a relatively new domestic model that is known for very little OTHER than its fuel efficiency.  It's fun to drive on the interstate and looks pretty in the driveway.

Next project to tackle:  A part-time evening/weekend job.  I've applied at a number of retailers, but they always want you to apply online...and then your application appears to disappear down a black hole.  What's the remedy?
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

More Orderly, Less Hoarderly

I absolutely love shows like Hoarders, Hoarding: Buried Alive and Clean House.  Not sure why, since I don't have bulging closets, narrow aisles of stuff throughout my house, or even a cluttered car.  I guess what intrigues me is the mindset that gets someone locked into that type of behavior.  My father had a bit of that tendency.  He got it into his head, in his early 60s, to start trying to recycle aluminum cans.  But since he worked full-time during the week and drank full-time on the weekends, he didn't have a lot of time for separating them from the rest of the trash.  And it is quite telling that no one came up with a better installing a "Recycle" bin for cans only, or having my mother or me take on the task of sorting out the cans.  The result was a growing pile of plastic garbage bags in the garage, which were eventually discovered by field mice.
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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Time is a River, or Some Such Cliche

My latest conversations with my son Wally have reminded me of the changes that time will bring.

Friday night he said that he is giving serious consideration to enlisting in the Navy.  His main motivation for this is the steady paycheck and the possibility of career enhancement.  I don't have strong feelings either way about the military.  Some of my in-laws are absolute fanatics on the subject -- every week they send me multi-page emails about the honor, glory and sacrifice of our uniformed services, to the point where it sounds like a fetish.  But at the same time, I feel no ideological hostility toward those who choose the military as a profession.  I do, however, believe these same well-meaning individuals are often very badly used by those who employ them.  If you're going to send someone into a life-threatening situation, you had BETTER not skimp on armor and other supplies, and you had DAMN WELL better not neglect their special physical and psychological circumstances when they return home.  Letting veterans languish with PTSD, or lie forgotten on a urine-soaked mattress in a mold-infested hospital unit is beyond unacceptable.
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Thursday, June 24, 2010


...I'm having to revert to moderated comments, due to some persistent character(s) who bestow spammy porn links on every post.

Wondering if my reminiscence on Bob had something to do with this -- pinged some search engine or other.

Well, at any rate, it's back to Captchaville for all you good folks and Bannedville for everybody else.

Here are a few new photos to compensate:
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Friday, June 18, 2010

Pictures & Words, instead of the usual vice versa

Having finally acquired a camera phone, I'm snapping and clicking at regular intervals throughout the day.  Taking photos, too, LOL.  Starting to think more in terms of the visual.

So, here's some of that.  Old and new.

Age 7, pre-first communion.  I vividly remember biting the insides of my cheeks as I walked up the church aisle, trying to keep from breaking out in a nervous grin.  
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Monday, May 31, 2010

Your Honor, I Plead Grumpy With an Explanation

A nice short post, I promise ya.

Some little-known facts:

1.  I enjoy reading Hannibal Lecter fanfiction, and have even been known to write some in my day.

2.  A current labor of love is resurrecting a Lecterfic archive from about a decade ago.

3.  Hannibal Lecter's amour, Clarice Starling, likes to drink Jack Daniel's.

4.  Jack Daniel's brand contains an apostrophe, because the guy who founded the distillery had the surname of Daniel.            NOT DANIELS.

5.  If I had a dime for every fucking apostrophe I had to edit back into the name, I'd be a wealthy woman indeed.

End of rant.  Hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend. Click Here to Read More..

Thursday, May 27, 2010

1991: My Summer of Death and Religious Craziness

It was the third of September.
A day I’ll always remember, yes I will.
‘Cause that was the day that my daddy died.

-Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, “Poppa Was a Rolling Stone”

My father could hardly have been described as a rolling stone, but he did happen to pass away on September 3rd.  He was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer the year before, but kept it a secret until he couldn’t anymore, in the spring of 1991.  If it had been up to him, he would have died alone, with no fanfare.  He was signed up for Meals on Wheels and Visiting Nurse services, and those kind people were the ones who found him helpless on the floor and called to let me know, over his strong objections.  While his oncologist predicted his death by early summer (and with good reason -- by the time I learned the truth, he weighed about 70 pounds and could be transferred from couch to bed by two slightly built women using a sheet as a sling), he hung on for another two and a half months.  He endured the indignity of having strangers in his house, his living room turned into a sickroom, and most of his personal autonomy taken away.  None of this could be helped -- he was too fragile to move to my home or even to a Hospice facility, and the heavy pain medications made it impossible for him to manage his finances or make decisions for himself.  He and I didn’t get along spectacularly well by that point, so it was awkward on both sides for me to be taking over the checkbook.  But there was nobody else.  Mom had died the year before, and I was the only child.  

It was an extremely stressful time.  Religion didn’t help things at all.

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Unplanned meme

Stolen from Dana.

1. What was the last thing about which you procrastinated? 

Currently, I'm procrastinating about switching over from satellite TV+DSL+local & LD service from the phone company to Fiberoptic TV+fiberoptic internet+fiberoptic VOIP.  There are a lot of reasons for this, mainly the work involved in doing price comparisons, but also just the basic hassle of changing anything having to do with technology.  My dear Luddite husband doesn't like change and will take awhile to adapt, even if the change is good and will save us money.

2. How long does it take you to fall asleep, and do you sleep through the night?
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Friday, May 14, 2010

The Oil Companies Can Go Bleep Themselves

A short post, but one I’ve wanted to write for awhile.

Anybody ancient enough to remember the old show from the 1970s, Barney Miller?  It starred Hal Linden as a police captain in Manhattan.  Steve Landesberg, Max Gail and Ron Glass were among the ensemble cast, and beyond the first season, the stage set was confined to the precinct room along with its barred holding cell.  

Along with The Odd Couple, another classic series that ran (also on ABC) during roughly the same time period, Barney Miller’s draw was its dry comedic approach to New York and its denizens.  The writing was almost impossibly crisp -- making Seinfeld’s plots and dialogue look downright clunky by comparison -- with an air of authority to it.  

I remember one episode, and would really love to hear from someone who can corroborate, because I know it’s not my imagination.  I’ve searched archives numerous times but come up with nothing.  So far.
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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Color Me Red. Again.

One of the best things about this horrible macroeconomic episode our country is facing is that so many more people can identify with one another's dilemmas -- too much month at the end of the money, being hit with the late fee from Peter so you can pay Paul, etc.  I especially enjoy news stories that show how many other people are waking up to the outrages committed by our banks.  The "overdraft protection" scam is a classic.  The bank allegedly does you a favor by letting an overdraft slide, but then they charge you for it.  Their thinking is, You, the customer, don't want your local merchant knowing you don't have sufficient funds.  You don't want the embarrassment of being turned we'll keep it between us...for a fee.  The trick, though, is that the bank will take their fee out BEFORE they post the withdrawal that puts you over.  They'll also post the highest amount that you've withdrawn at that point first.  It's a cascading effect.  It's happened to me numerous times -- I always hope the merchants are a half day slow in posting, especially at the end of a bad week, because my paycheck shows up at the stroke of midnight on Friday.  Often, a purchase on Thursday afternoon won't hit until after my check is in there.  It's been close many times.  Once or twice in the last year I've gotten slammed.  This week it happened again and the consequences were substantial.
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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Surveys and Dreams

Sorry for the looong absence -- just nothing worth writing about.  However, two worthy topics sprang to mind today:  Surveys and dreams.

I take a lot of online surveys, purely out of greed.  Periodically, I'll get a surge of ambition and sign myself up for anything and everything that promises an incentive.  I've been doing this for somewhere between 5 and 8 years and have done reasonably well with it.  If I spent more time and took more risks, there might be even more to brag about.
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Monday, March 29, 2010

54? She was a baby!

Excuse the long absence.  Nothing to write about.  Until this morning. do y'all feel when you hear of the death of a classmate or other contemporary?
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Sunday, March 07, 2010

Sunday Random 10 - Adult ADD Edition

These tunes come to you courtesy of

  1. Sunshine of Your Love - Cream
  2. Semi Sweet Hawaii - Nirvana
  3. Brazilian Girls - Don't Stop
  4. Something in Your Mouth - Nickelback
  5. Time Warp - Alvin and the Chipmunks
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Saturday, February 27, 2010

A double helping of random

First, here's my Saturday Random Ten:

  1. Billy - James Blunt
  2. I'd Die Without You - PM Dawn (is that a moldy oldie, or what??!)
  3. Teenage Confidential - The Flamin' Groovies
  4. Black Balloon (live) - The Goo Goo Dolls
  5. I Shall Believe - Sheryl Crow (I may leave Sheryl out of the mix next time)
  6. In Your Eyes - Peter Gabriel
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Friday, February 12, 2010

Listen to the Music

Barbara at Bad-Tempered Zombie has handed me a good writing prompt to save me from another week of nothing-much-going-on:  The Friday Random Ten.

The MO is to list the first ten songs that come up on your iPod.  Lacking an iPod, I'm letting a Pandora Quick Mix fill the bill, and it gives me:

  1. Detours - Sheryl Crow
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Monday, January 25, 2010

You have my permission to not offend me.

Having lived in the South for nearly 24 years, I've long since become acclimated to some of the social differences between here and New York.  The first difference I encountered was in the area of communication.

In New York (specifically, in the city), you can walk around all day spewing obscenities of varying degrees, and it will be taken like ordinary everyday speech.  My old classmate Pam would come for a visit and I'd make arrangements to get as many meals delivered to the house as possible to avoid taking her out in public.  Try as I might, I could not persuade her to clean up her mouth.  "What the f___ do I care what people think?  If they don't like it, they can go hump a tree!"  she would say loudly.
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Friday, January 22, 2010

Female Trouble

Warning:  Yes, I am about to blog in detail about THAT, so take your "TMI" complaints elsewhere.

Up until about four years ago, my cycles were so regular the Mayans could have constructed a calendar around them.  I went on low-dose estrogen birth control on my doctor's recommendation to deal with breast tenderness.  It did the job and also enabled me to schedule my cycles.  It didn't make them any lighter or less painful, but they were nice and predictable.

The paranoid part of me suspects that some religious-conservative type was working behind the scenes at the insurance company's mail-order pharmacy division, because on several occasions, my pills didn't arrive as expected, even though I'd paid for them.  This threw the cycle off repeatedly.  When I moved and changed jobs, the insurance coverage was gone anyway, so I gave up on oral contraceptives and went back to barrier methods. 
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Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Hour of Toad

Although my parents encouraged me heartily as a reader, and their efforts bore abundant fruit, their personal choices in which literature to send my way was not, as I've discovered, typical of a child of my age and gender.  They leaned heavily toward more contemporary material, such as a Little Golden Book called Make Way for the Throughway.  My mom also couldn't resist anything having to do with kittens.

If traditional fairy tales or bible stories found their way into the house, they were probably brought in by Dad.  His work took him to various gathering places in the Bronx and upper Manhattan; now and then someone would pass him a volume, which ended up in my hands.  Mom tended to turn her nose up at those.  Probably because they came from Dad, which made them instantly suspect.

What also didn't make the cut was the type of literature you will normally visualize in the hands of a soft-focus Thomas Kinkade-rendered little girl in a crinoline dress, seated by the fire.
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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Getting Paid for Doing Nothing

Snow day here, as in many other parts of the northern hemisphere.  An hour ago, it was coming down briskly and sticking eagerly to the grass and the sidewalks.  Now it's gone back to what I call "slow flurries."  They're predicting more, wetter, heavier snow tomorrow when I don't have the day off.  It will be interesting to see if my vehicle (which looks like an SUV but drives like a Schwinn bicycle) does an adequate job of getting me the 36 miles to work and back.
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Saturday, January 02, 2010

Honesty Requires That I Disclose This

Starting today, my posts will contain lots of Amazon links to things (mostly books, CDs or DVDs, but sometimes other items) related to the subject matter.

If you click on these and follow through by making a purchase, I will receive a commission.  The same is true for all the other ads that are sprinkled along the sidebars, etc.

Yes, I can use the money.  No, I'm not quite ready to install a PayPal link for donations.  We'll see what the situation is this time next year...

Volly Click Here to Read More..

Books I Borrowed Today...

Started off the New Year on a good foot with a visit to the local library.  Like many public libraries, ours is grappling with the problem of street people using it for temporary shelter.  People have been hanging out in libraries, spending the day dozing at the tables, probably as long as there have been public libraries.  But I'm not sure they've been urinating inside them, as is, sadly, the case in ours.  Kind of shocking.

I picked up a Books A Million page-per-day calendar at a rummage sale last year; saved each page as I tore it out and brought them to the library today.  Used it to make a short list of books to check out; got four:
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

The commandment that comes with an asterisk

Something occurs to me, reading headlines about teabag wingnuts and their consistently outrageous claims about President Obama.

These allegations are obviously lies. Sure, some of these people are truly around the bend -- especially those who have access to little more than a keyboard, and dutifully forward the wacky reforwarded e-mails they get from equally confused, pathetic people such as themselves. They sometimes don't know better, by virtue of insufficient education, low IQ, and/or social insulation. Sometimes they do know better, deep down, but it's easier to remain ignorant.

But then you have the people who promulgate this garbage.
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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bob, the Polish Porn Enthusiast

Bob was a friend-of-a-friend. The friend who introduced us was a co-worker of my ex-husband Doug. Let's call him PV. PV was a social engineer long before Facebook. He absolutely loved creating connections between people. "Oh, do you know so-and-so? Let me introduce you." I think PV envisioned his friends as a collection, all displayed together artfully on a shelf. The only problem was, many of PV's friends had strange quirks, and they didn't mix well together. PV was the sort of person who could subtly alter his personality to harmonize with whoever he was spending time with at the moment. Not everyone can do this. So PV's attempts to create little subsets of friends usually failed in the end. There was the added factor of PV's propensity toward gossip. If he could get friend A to move in with friend B, sooner or later he'd do his very best to get the "dirt" on friend A from friend B or vice versa.

Doug and I moved from New York to Atlanta in the mid-1980s, and PV followed a few months later, for the same reason we did: job changes and a lower cost of living. PV lived with us for a few months, then got his own place. After a few years, he met the lady he later married. She was an eminently level-headed and sensible person, but even she needed a few years to wean PV off his never-ending frat party, the mad social carousel.

PV came to like the south quite a bit and did his best to persuade his old NY friends to relocate. A few did, but most either declined, or they moved briefly to Georgia, found it very much not to their liking, and high-tailed it back to the frozen north. Bob the Polish Porn Enthusiast belonged in the latter category.

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