Wednesday, December 31, 2008

This Year, and the Last

[original title was This Year and the Next, but I wasn't finished when midnight arrived...]

Quick wrap-up type thing...

10 best things about 2008:

1. Obama
2. General Assembly
3. Led an entire Sunday service and got some good feedback
4. This blog, Facebook, and other sites that introduced me to some great folks and broadened my outlook a bit
5. Positive general direction at work
6. Progressive politics and attitudes toward religion gaining ground worldwide, but especially in the west
7. Wally graduated from high school and started college
8. Got to read some great books
9. Took 4 short trips, all enjoyable
10. Slightly less monetary stress this year than last

10 worst things about '08:

1. Proposition 8
2. Ongoing misadventures of President Lameduck and his gang of idiots
3. Walking away from the neighborhood association -- it was that or a padded cell
4. Starting the year with a burglary and ending it with a sprained ankle
5. Carl's decision to change jobs, which turned out to be a bad one
6. Uncertainty about Wally's well-being and future
7. My 4-wheeled money pit
8. Lack of discretionary funds for things like a new fridge and landscaping
9. Dental issues
10. A general sense of weariness, of "been there, done that, nothing new under the sun."

I didn't like this year much at all, but making these lists does help to put many things into perspective. Looking at it objectively, it wasn't all that bad. Still felt like uphill all the way, though.

10 wishes/hopes/goals for 2009:

1. That Barack Obama lives up to his promises, in spirit if nothing else. I've become too accustomed to being disappointed by "leaders."
2. Find a way to enhance my income
3. That Carl will get his priorities in order
4. Ditto for Wally
5. That a slightly less hectic, less stressful schedule will free me to write more and better posts.
6. That we'll get one good, newsworthy snowfall down here in Dixie
7. That the church I'm in will prosper and grow
8. That Proposition 8 will be history by this time next year
9. That I'll find a good mechanic who won't rip me off
10. That the Cubs will win the World Series (this is for D.S., a good friend of mine) Click Here to Read More..

Got Your Calendar?

Tired of those "freebie" calendars you get in the mail from charities that nag you endlessly to pay for them?

Get what you really want at ... I just ordered this:

Click the Amazon box, upper right ... I get points!

Happy New Year! Click Here to Read More..

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I haven't done any kind of daily chronicle of my ankle injury, simply because I'm obviously not the first person ever to have had an ankle injury, and by comparison, it's a pretty minor injury. Boring, in fact. The 4-day Christmas weekend was stultifyingly boring because the most exciting thing I did was polish off most of a box of Cheezits in front of the tube (actually quite novel...I haven't pigged out like that in years). I also rearranged my home office space. That was almost anticlimactic.

But the ankle sprain itself has had little effect on me other than making me want to sleep a lot. And that's mainly what I did for 4 days. Carl worked every day except Christmas and people were considerate enough to refrain from calling me on the phone and waking me up.

I wasn't able to use the boots the clinic gave me because when they put them on me, I didn't pay proper attention so as to put them on right next time. I remedied that today when I went for the follow-up visit. Now I can look semi-fashionable. The ace bandages are already somewhat worn and stretched out of shape (they were originally Wally's). This morning my gait wasn't quite as stiff and slow as previous days. The pain is noticeably less severe. The bruising, however, will be with me for awhile. My entire ankle is this scary eggplant shade.

Given the variety of pain medication I have lying around the house, I've used relatively little of it.

It felt good to get back to work yesterday. People have been nice. There wasn't any awkwardness about it being a w/c claim; I think everybody is just extremely relieved that it wasn't anywhere near as bad as it could have been. It didn't even count as "lost time" (which would have deprived us all of our quarterly Wal-mart gift card, the universe forbid), since the manager adjusted the time clock to cover the time I spent getting checked out at the clinic), and I've already made up the extra half hour that my appointment today took up. The last few days have been productive and low-stress, since da boss is out for the week.

Still ... this year began on a sucky note (we were burglarized in January, before I started posting here full-time) and I won't be sorry to see it go. Click Here to Read More..

Saturday, December 27, 2008


If you haven't seen it yet, Infidelguy is showing it for free on his site...bring your own popcorn. Click Here to Read More..

Friday, December 26, 2008

234 and the year's not over yet

I created an Excel spreadsheet to include this blog, as well as three others I maintain on different sites, and charted my activity for the years I've been at this.

This year, Blogger wins hands down with 129. This doesn't count all posts, just days on which I posted.

August was my heaviest posting month this year, but my lightest in '07.

Between 2004 and 2005 I had a total of 3 posts -- here. Then zero activity on '06, then 65 in '07 -- none of them here.

I'm hoping to do more and better posting in 2009.

Maybe for next Halloween I'll dress up as The Mad Statistician.

Personally, this hasn't been the best year for me -- not the worst, but there were some significant bumps in the road that I could have lived without. My activity on this site, especially, and the people I've come to know here, have been one of the bright spots. So THANKS!

Expect a different theme/layout as of early January.

/v Click Here to Read More..

Thursday, December 25, 2008

My Lazy-Ass Plan for Tomorrow

Tomorrow Carl is taking the bus to work and I am taking myself to bed. Or the couch, maybe. I really need to lie down ALL DAY with my foot up in the air. It hurt today and I didn't do much...except wander around the house doing various piddly, unimportant things. I certainly have enough books and magazines to read and DVDs and TV shows to watch. Staying horizontal for a few hours can only help.

Oh, yeah, note to self: those painkillers they gave you won't help you if you don't take 'em. Click Here to Read More..

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sore and Wondering

Yesterday I mis-stepped on some stairs while at work and messed up my ankle. Not broken, probably not even technically sprained, but painful as hell. Though quite a few people warned me that it would hurt "a lot more the second and third day," I'm doing fine and hope to be walking normally again a week from now. The timing on the holiday is good, giving me a 4-day weekend to do little or nothing while it heals.

That's the "sore" part. What I'm wondering about is my mother.

In 1973, while in the midst of yet another beer-soaked battle, my father grabbed my mother by the ankles and pulled her off the bed and onto a bare floor. Her right hip didn't fracture initially, I don't think, because she walked on it for 2 or 3 more days. My grandfather died the day after this happened, so instead of seeking medical help, she traveled a few hundred miles and back to the funeral, self-medicated with whiskey on the way home, then sat down on the sofa and could not get back up again until the paramedics carried her out some 24 hours later.

I remember the wail of despair she let out when the doctor told her her hip was broken. She had steadfastly denied the possibility all that long day while she sat on the sofa. She suffered for years with that hip. Despite having pins put in to restore function, exercises and various types of medication, it never healed right and eventually, about 5 years later, she had surgery to correct the mistakes made the first time. The worst part, I think, was that she never regained the regal posture she'd always prided herself on. And the hostility between her and Dad never went away, even when she was getting around on a walker and then a cane. This terrible lifestyle change for my mother came at the age of 53.

Moreover, I can only imagine the financial hit we must have taken from this. Two weeks or so in the hospital, doctor visits...then a re-do on the first fracture. Dad made only $15K a year, max, and while Blue Cross is one of the top insurance companies, there's no way they would have covered all of this 100%. How my father managed to hold onto a house and pay bills when he was the sole earner is a mystery I will never know the answer to. I do know that we never received charity. If we had, it would have been the subject of the rantings and ravings that went on in our home every weekend.

What astonishes me now, as I deal with this relatively minor injury, making my way carefully from room to room at home, planning every movement and reviewing ways to prevent something like this from ever happening again, is the fact that after that first hip fracture, my mother went on to break her ankle a year and a half later and then her other hip a year and a half after that. The second hip fracture was just before I started college. Three major fractures in less than three years! Certainly, the first one was perpetrated by my father (though I doubt he really understood what the result would be of his mindless action -- actors in such plays rarely do), the ankle and second hip fracture came about when my mother was entirely alone in a room and my father was either out of the house or asleep. Both of those times, she was intoxicated. Mom claimed that the ankle fracture was the result of "a wet leaf on the bottom of her shoe," but still, she was drinking. And the other hip was broken when she attempted to get out of bed and her feet became tangled in the sheets. "It could happen to anyone," she later said, but when you've had so much to drink that you can't feel where the sheets end and your feet begin, how surprising is it to land on a hard floor when all you wanted to do was walk 20 feet to the bathroom?

I am not accident- or injury-prone. That's why, for me, this ankle injury is a revelation. I don't like it, not one little bit, and you can bet that I will never again carry an object with two hands down a flight of stairs, no matter how short. I will be even more careful walking than before, looking down, checking for obstacles, measuring curb heights, etc. I am hugely grateful that the accident took place while I was on the clock, even though the items I was carrying down the steps were intended for a holiday luncheon. So far as I am aware right now, this is worker's comp, so it's not going to drain me financially. And yes, you know the first order of business at the clinic was a drug screen for Volly. I'm immensely grateful that the screen will reveal nary a questionable substance of any kind, for I had not taken so much as an aspirin in the previous three days.

I will also think twice about consuming alcohol. Since Carl doesn't drive, I'm usually the one behind the wheel so I'm designated driver by default and that doesn't leave much room for imbibing. But even if I'm "just walking somewhere," I'm now much more aware of how easy it is to screw up while under the influence. This accident yesterday did not involve alcohol -- I think of how much more serious it could have been otherwise.

And so, my thoughts return once again to my mother. Three fractures in three years, and still she kept on drinking. I shake my head in disbelief that someone could be so cavalier, knowing what a bad fracture could mean, and then to carelessly let it happen twice more.

I've learned a lot from my accident. I'm still trying to figure out what, if anything, my mother learned from all of hers? Click Here to Read More..

Monday, December 22, 2008

RIP Jenny

I got a Christmas card from a second cousin, who told me that her sister Jenny died earlier this year. She'd had a host of health problems that were beyond the purview of 21st century medicine.

She and her husband Tony were married for about 43 years. I remember attending their wedding, thinking Jenny was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen.

Not too long after the wedding, I heard gossip exchanged between my mother and Jenny's ... Tony didn't treat her well; they were "having problems." Our families weren't extremely close; we saw each other about once a year at most. It wasn't our family's way to make a big production out of our problems, so the truth of most situations rarely came to light; it just hung like a murky cloud on the horizon and could be forgotten by just looking away.

I saw Jenny at her sister's wedding, and then at mine, but don't remember even a little bit of conversation. I think I may have had those vague, undefined "problems" of theirs in my head and was worried about saying the wrong thing. Again, that's how our family was -- my mother identified me early on as someone who suffered from chronic foot-in-mouth disease, so when in doubt, I kept a distance. I think I still do that.

And yet...just like my parents, who stayed together for 48 years until Mom's passing, this couple hung in there, too. They had no children.

Jenny, I hardly knew ye. Click Here to Read More..

Friday, December 19, 2008

Now I Wonder

I was reading yet another article about the trend wherein some doctors and pharmacists won't prescribe or fill prescriptions for contraceptives because of their religious beliefs. I guess I was idly thinking how glad I was never to have been victimized that way ... and then I remembered something.

Back in 2003 I went permanent as an employee at a large company that had excellent health benefits. We had insurance through a large company that offered prescriptions by mail at a discount.

My primary care physician gave me my first full physical in years and asked me a lot of questions. One of the things I answered yes to was breast pain. As a remedy, he recommended low-dose estrogen oral contraceptives.

I'd used the pill only once before that, during the year following childbirth by C-section and gallbladder surgery that came soon after. It seemed to me that getting pregnant would be particularly dangerous during that year, so I went on the pill, but gave it up after repeatedly forgetting to take it daily. Fortunately, I didn't get pregnant, but had not considered ever using it again. However, the breast pain was fairly severe, so I followed my doctor's recommendation.

I ordered the prescription through the insurer and stayed on it for about 2 years. I suppose it did help the breast pain to an extent; it didn't make much difference in my cycles, other than enabling me to know exactly when they would start each month.

But I ran into trouble repeatedly with the pharmacy-by-mail folks. I would send in my payment ahead of time, and then the medicine would not arrive. On at least 4 different occasions, I would have to get on the phone with the insurance company and explain that although I had paid for the prescription, the medicine was failing to arrive on time. Disrupting the 28-day cycle threw everything off and of course, I had to worry about becoming pregnant even with a backup method. Ultimately, I left that job and the benefits that went with it, and haven't bothered to go back on the pill. I'm 50 now and figure menopause is bound to hit sooner than later...

But it wasn't until this evening, reflecting on this news topic, that I began to wonder if my missing birth control pills were due to something more sinister than bureaucratic incompetence. Was someone deliberately "neglecting" to fill my prescription? Or were they perhaps setting my order aside or on the bottom of the pile, to give the impression that they were technically taking care of it but letting it lapse long enough to increase the chances of my becoming pregnant?

My current job has just begun offering pharmacy-by-mail, but with a different insurance company. I haven't considered going back on the pill -- my current doctor would probably discourage it simply because my pre-menopausal symptoms benefit more from topical progesterone than estrogen -- but if I ever did deal with one of these mail-order pharmacies again, I'd be much more aggressive in insisting that my order be fulfilled to my standards.

Click Here to Read More..

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Inspirational! Heart-rending! Phony as a 3-dollar bill!!!

Take heart, fellow victims of Urban Legend Bombardment!

You are not alone.

Sooner or later, this one will hit your in-box, so be prepared. Whether you want to fire back with "Check Snopes before you send me this crap, you idiot!" or just diplomatically delete it, this will perhaps save you a few mouse clicks.

It's not true, and wasn't true back in 1945.

Note: The urban legend may be preceded by some lovely photos of paintings rendered on feathers ... Snopes doesn't have anything to say about that. The photos could be 'shopped, or they could be real, but they're nice to look at. Too bad so much time and effort is spent promoting religious schmaltz rather than a talented artist. Click Here to Read More..

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Let's Go Sailing Down Denial River

So, I'm using a social-networking site to keep track of Wally. He obliges me by posting these cryptic little snippets, which I'm sure are intentionally designed to push every possible button. Things like "I don't like my new probation slip," and "I'm ready for an evening of underage drinking and intravenous drug use."

Now, I don't believe he does any intravenous drugs -- that really isn't his style. I believe that comment was sarcasm. The drinking, however, is another story. While he abstained after moving back into my home, mainly because he had no friends to hang with, he certainly did quite a bit while living with Doug between ages 13 and 16 -- his circle of friends was affluent and certain of their invincibility. Once he moved out to live on his own, the pattern reasserted itself.

Wally should not drink. No kid his age should drink, but especially someone whose maternal grandparents were both alcoholics, and whose paternal grandmother and uncle have shown a propensity toward substance abuse.

The most recent alarming post was that he had been kicked out of his dorm. This is finals week and he will soon be traveling back to Doug's neck of the woods for his winter break. I texted him with a brief question as to his circumstances; he called back and told me the whole sad story: Unruly behavior indoors, more unruly behavior out of doors, a window broken, police called, alcohol found on him, etc. There were a few "I messed up" comments, but most of what I heard from him was along the lines of:

  • "It's finals week -- can't they give us a break?"
  • "How can they throw us out into the street? Don't they realize we're thousands of miles from home?"
  • "This is just another way they rip us off -- I'll have to pay to get my dorm room back and probably have to take some stupid sobriety course."
  • "They were so NASTY to us!"
  • "So we were making a lot of noise -- couldn't someone just tell us that without calling the cops?"
  • "I hate having to tell Dad -- he'll freak out; he's known to be irrational."
  • "I don't drink anywhere near as much as some other dudes on campus."
  • "Dad says I need to quit drinking -- oh, like he doesn't? He's the world's biggest hypocrite."
After expressing a reasonable amount of sympathy for his immediate predicament, I took the liberty of reminding him (via text message) that it isn't THAT hard to make good decisions. His response? "K."

Within the last month or so, he's expressed the desire to leave the rather large university he's attending and return to the environment he's called "home" on and off since 2002. I asked him if "up and moving" is going to be his default response to any difficulty. True, he's been "up and moving" along with one parent figure or the other since he was five and a half, but his father lived in his childhood home until age 27 or so, and ditto for me until about age 22 -- for us, the frequent moves are a relatively recent phenomenon. No, this activity is much more typical of the stepfather he so loathes. When I pointed it out to him, it seemed to get through. But now I'm not sure. I fear that instability is the norm for him -- one mini-drama after another. He was in trouble with the law for petty vandalism at age 13; refused to settle down and abide by the rules when living with Doug and Judith, thereby getting himself kicked out and sent back to live with Carl and me; continually restless, oppositional and uncommunicative for the entire year and a half he was with us; one can only guess what sorts of scrapes he encountered once he moved out and was on his own before heading off to the university. I know about 3 traffic tickets, one of which I paid. He seems to have fallen into that pattern of continually craving "excitement" and risk, especially if it involves other people. I'm amazed at his level of extroversion -- this is someone who seems incapable of just relaxing by himself. Doug is like that to a degree, although for him it's more of a strong need for one partner. Wally doesn't seem satisfied without a throng.

It's sad; I have no idea what to do about him. This is not to say that the divorce and parent remarriages on both sides aren't at the root of it, because I'm sure they are ... but what to do? Divorce Carl? Have Doug divorce Judith and get back with me? Apologize for ruining Wally's childhood? I've done that already, to a limited extent. Wally's been in counseling with Doug, Judith and more than one practitioner. He is not a stupid person; he has the ability to look himself in the eye and decide to grow up.

Question is, will he? And when?

Edited to add: Reading over his remarks leads me to the conclusion that he's way out of control and headed in a far more grim direction. Time to tie up the raft... Click Here to Read More..

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Too good not to share

Haven't posted in awhile; didn't want anyone to think I was dead...


If you have sex with a prostitute against her will, is it considered rape or shoplifting?

Can you cry under water?

How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered?

Why do you have to 'put your two cents in'... but it's only a 'penny for your thoughts'? Where's that extra penny going to?

Why does a round pizza come in a square box?

What disease did cured ham actually have?

How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

Why is it that people say they 'slept like a baby' when babies wake up like every two hours?

If a deaf person has to go to court, is it still called a hearing?

Why are you IN a movie, but you're ON TV?

Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?

Why do doctors leave the room while you change? They're going to see you naked anyway.

Why is 'bra' singular and 'panties' plural?

Why do toasters always have a setting that burns the toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat?

If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a stupid song about him?

Can a hearse carrying a corpse drive in the carpool lane ?

If the professor on Gilligan's Island can make a radio out of a coconut, why can't he fix a hole in a boat?

Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains on all fours? They're both dogs!

If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME crap, why didn't he just buy dinner?

If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, what is baby oil made from?

If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?

Why do they call it an asteroid when it's outside the hemisphere, but call it a hemorrhoid when it's in your butt?

Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog's face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him for a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?
Click Here to Read More..

Friday, December 05, 2008

'Tis the Season to be Childish & Hypocritical

Some people need extra eggnog, methinks...

Why aren't they out shopping for gifts?

Or decorating?

Or feeding people at a nearby shelter?

Or filling the red kettles?

Have they nothing better to do than act out with no more maturity than a preschooler knocking down the other kid's Lego tower because it's better constructed and people come by to take a second look?

Gotta love it.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!! Click Here to Read More..

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A Meme for Grownups

Questions for the people who are a little older....
What bill do you hate paying the most?
Credit cards - reminders of past foolishness.

When's the last time someone cooked you a romantic dinner?
A couple of years ago -- some chef in a restaurant!

Whats the farthest you would drive to see someone?
So far, 850 miles is the most, but I'm not ruling out 1500 or so...

How many colleges did you attend?
2, not counting random "Continuing-Ed" stuff.

Why did you choose the shirt that you have on right now?
Um, it's cold enough for heavy cotton PJ's.

What are your thoughts on gas prices?
They made Thanksgiving affordable this year.

First thought when the alarm went off this morning?
Ha! It didn't go off 'cause today's a vacation day ... mwahahaha!

Last thought before going to sleep last night?
My feet are still cold. Wonder if I should put on sockzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....

Do you miss being a child?
Only if I could do it all over, knowing all I know now.

What errand/chore do you despise?
Cleaning the bathtub, 'cause no matter how much I scrub, it still comes out looking the same, except some of the enamel has come off. :(

Get up early or sleep in?
I'm cursed with morning-personitis.

Have you found real love yet?
Actually, yes!

Favorite lunch meat?
Olive loaf. Yeah, I know...

What do you get every time you go into Wal-Mart?
Quite often it's an OTC pain remedy.

Beach or lake?

What are you listening to?
Music in my head, currently "Wrapped Around Your Finger" by Sting.

Do you think marriage is an outdated ritual?

Do you own land?
Just what my house sits on.

Favorite movie you wouldn't want anyone to find out about?
"Hannibal." I hate the way the ending deviated from the book's, and yes I know the dinner scene was over-the-top gross, and Julianne Moore isn't Jodie Foster, but DAMN the cinematography and Hans Zimmer's score were incredible, and it's Hannibal Lecter, and that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Cowboys or Indians?
Cowboys, until they improve the makeup jobs on the Indians.

Cops or Robbers?
Depends on the movie.

Sopranos or Desperate Housewives?

Grey's or 'The Office?
I've only seen "Grey's."

What famous person would you like to have dinner with?
Benjamin Franklin.

Indoors or Outdoor?
Outdoors, even though I'm rarely there.

Have you ever crashed your vehicle?

Have you ever had to use a fire extinguisher for its intended purpose?

Do you have a teddy bear?
Bunch of them.

What does someone have to do to get your attention?
Speak in a clear, firm voice.

Do you go to church?

How old are you?

What do you need right now?

What's the last thing you ate?
Salad last night, coffee this morning.

Do you have any pets? kitty has adopted a new family.

Last thing you bought?
Gas & snack at a convenience store.

Are you going to work?
Not today! Not tomorrow! Not until Monday! Eat yer heart out! Click Here to Read More..

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

It Came Out...

A couple of months ago I took this picture from the front porch. Our sunsets are always spectacular, but once in awhile the morning sky shows off, too.

Here's the shot I was hoping for:

Click Here to Read More..