Sunday, November 19, 2006

One Rant For Tall Women Everywhere

Imagine you have been out running errands all day. It's cold - bitterly cold - outside. The wind has been slicing through every seam in your coat it could find, and your feet feel like you've been trudging through the icy, slush-filled puddles of the arctic.

You go home, get a nice hot bath, and when you put on your favorite pair of flannel PJs, you notice (with horror) that your pants are 2 inches too short. You pull them off, rummage through your pajama drawer, pull out another pair and... they're 2 inches too short, too.

"Nuts," you think. "I'll find my long underwear and wear those until I'm warm." Except, the lovely silk long underwear pants you bought are, alas, 3 inches too short as well. You frantically pull item after item out of your dressers, closets, even your dirty clothes hamper, only to discover that EVERYTHING is too short - the pants, the shirt-sleeves, even the shirts are all belly shirts (and while one or two would be fine, you didn't want to have an entire wardrobe of them). You reach for your winter coat, and - ACKKKK! It's too short, too!!

Welcome to my world.

Everywhere I look, lots and lots of lovely warm flannel items, pajama pants, etc., all with inseams of 28 inches. Sometimes I get lucky, and I can find them with a 32" inseam, but when your inseam is 35", well, it just doesn't feel so freakin' lucky! I'm tired of looking like a refugee from Revenge of the Nerds camp.

Thanks to Lee, I have jeans that fit. They are comfortable, long enough (until I wash them, after which I am afraid they might no longer be...longer), and they don't sit so low on my torso that I look like a plumber when I sit down. Or stand up. Or do anything except pose like a manequin in a clothing store. Unfortunately, the Lee people don't make sleepwear, or long underwear, or corduroy pants, or sweaters or anything else I could wear to work. And they're about the only ones.

Eddie Bauer used to be my friend, but alas. He got caught up in the mistaken belief that women stopped having hips and thighs. The pants he makes now are for women with no butts and pencil-thin thighs who apparently do nothing but stand in one place for hours without moving. Same at Land's End. (Don't get me started on L.L. Bean - that's a tale for another day).

Let me say it in simple words that even a clothing designer might understand: real women have hips. We have curvy thighs. We have waists. We do not like clothing designers who think we are stick figures and make clothes for said stick figures. We do not all wear a size 4. You're supposed to be talented designers - here's a challenge: design clothing that real women can wear. Yes, I know it will be difficult. You will have to make clothing that actually fits a woman's body, not a scrawny 11-year-old boy's body, but I think you can do it if you put your mind to it.

Please keep in mind that tall clothing for women is not just regular sized clothing with longer sleeves and legs, although those are helpful. Tall women can have longer rises, which means that pants and swimsuits and other things that have to fit properly "down there" need to be longer from the "down there" point to the waist to avoid injury or embarrassment. That doesn't mean "make 'Mom' pants and sell them as tall clothing." No. That means make clothing that fits those with longer rises.

Tall women also - and you should like this part - can have larger breasts and still be a size 6 or 8 or 10 in the body. In my younger days, I actually had a size 6 waist, even though I was a 32DD. Try to find clothes that fit and don't make you look like a linebacker with that profile..... In order for things to fit in the chesticle area, I had to go up, like, 2 or 3 sizes (because of the shoulders, too), only the waist part was blousing around me like a parachute because the bottom of the shirt/blouse wasn't quite long enough to stay tucked into the waist of my slacks or skirt or whatever I was wearing.

While I'm on that subject, there should be more items of clothing for tall women than just pants with longer inseams and jackets with longer arms. Tall women may have slightly wider shoulders (duh - bigger frames!), and no, going up a size is not the answer! If you think that works, try wearing a jacket that fits in the shoulders but is 2 sizes bigger everywhere else, and then look in a mirror. "Frankensuit" is the word you're looking for to describe what you see, and it is NOT pretty!

The other important thing to remember is that the waist in a dress for a tall woman is going to be in a different spot than a waist in a dress for a shorter woman. If you don't believe me, go to the petite section and find a dress. Then go to the misses' department and find the same dress. The "waist" of the dress will be in a different spot for the different sizes, right?

THEN WHAT IN BLUE BLAZES makes you think that just making the hem longer will make it a "tall" dress???????

Santa, here is what I want for Christmas. Every item in the L.L. Bean, Eddie Bauer, Land's End, Brooks Brothers and other catalogs/stores that sell reasonably-priced, work-worthy clothing to be also available in "real" tall sizes.

And while you're at it, could I please have some nice flannel jammies that are long enough?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What's new, pussycat?

This isn't new, but I heard this on the radio this morning and almost choked - Tom Jones sings "Kiss":

[Video removed from YouTube due to a copyright claim by Universal Music Publishing Group].

After seeing the video clip, I remember seeing something about it at the time, but OMG! How funny is it to listen to a white guy from Wales singing ... well, Prince? :)

Enjoy the cheese!!

Friday, September 29, 2006

McDreamy vs McVet

Boy! Some people have the toughest lives! Here the rest of us are, working, paying bills, dealing with personal issues, and poor Meredith Grey: she has to choose between Patrick Dempsey and Chris O'Donnell!! Which one will she choose?

I really don't care that much about the Meredith Grey character (I like the Izzy character better), but I do envy her romantic options! I also loved how she presented both gentlemen with the opportunity to date her. That was classy! I wish more single women thought of that option instead of staying with whomever they're sleeping with until/unless something better comes along.

Of course, now that I think about it, I'm not sure which is the better choice: McDreamy is, of course, McDreamy. He has a personality that suggests confidence with women, he's a doctor, he's, well, totally McDreamy, and he seems to be fairly decisive and committed about his relationships: he "flung" with Grey after he found his wife in bed with his best friend. Having realized that he has fallen in love with Meredith, he ended his marriage (albeit after trying to patch up his marriage once his wife moved to Seattle to follow him).

But, McVet has something to offer, too. For one thing, he is a widower - death of a spouse scores higher (at least in my book) than a divorce, because he kept his vows: 'Til death us do part. For another, he has "plans" - he has a future in mind that isn't just a series of sleepovers. He has that boyish charm thing going for him, he's compassionate with animals - he's a veterinary doctor, besides, which is still a member of the medical profession, and he's not giving up without a fight.

I don't know. It's going to be an interesting season. I have to say, though: while I'm pulling for Finn (and hey, if anyone knows someone like Finn who happens to be single, at least 6'2" and 40-something years old, feel free to give him my email address!!), he'd be easier to write out of the show than McDreamy would. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What Dreams May Come

Dreams are funny things. Most of the time, I don't remember mine. Occasionally, I'll remember something about one or two, but for the most part, they don't stick in my conscious memory long enough to make any lasting impression. When I do tend to remember, it's usually because the dream comes in the morning, when I'm really supposed to be getting up and getting ready for work or whatever.

This morning was one of those mornings, though, when I didn't want to get up. I dreamed about seeing my grandparents, who have been dead for years, at a picnic. Only they didn't look like they did the last times I saw them; they looked like themselves only I don't remember ever seeing them like that - my grandfather was 58 years old when I was born, and my grandmother was 57 years old. I've seen pictures of them, although not very many, but what I remember of the pictures was not what they looked like in my dream.

The other thing was, my grandfather on my dad's side was there, too, and I've never met him. He died when my dad was 8 years old, but I saw him. Other people were there that I knew were family and old friends, although I don't have a sense of who they were. It was just weird - good weird, but weird.

If I had to draw a conclusion about the dream, I would say that it felt like a reunion, only a reunion in the hereafter. I don't normally dream of heaven - I know it's there, and I know I will be there and I know that members of my family who knew the Lord will be there. And honestly, this didn't feel like a dream of heaven, in the sense that the place wasn't the focus - the focus was the people.

The best part about it was that my grandma hugged me. When I woke up, I could still feel where her cheek had pressed against mine. It was so tangible and real that I tried to go back to sleep to find her, only I couldn't.

I've been trying to figure out why I would have a dream like that now, and while there is probably a certain amount of "cell-memory" at work in the sense that the dates of birthdays and anniversaries tend to bring up memories of those events whether you're conscious of them or not, the other side of that is that everyone will die. Where they spend eternity depends on the answer to one question: what did you do with Jesus?

I took this from Billy Graham's website because I think he explains it well. If you've never heard this before, please take some time to read it now.

Step 1: God's Purpose: Peace and Life

God loves you and wants you to experience peace and life—abundant and eternal.

The Bible says ...

"We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." —Romans 5:1 (NIV)

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." —John 3:16 (NIV)

"I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." —John 10:10 (NIV)

Why don't most people have this peace and abundant life that God planned for us to have?

Step 2: The Problem: Our Separation
God created us in His own image to have an abundant life. He did not make us as robots to automatically love and obey Him. God gave us a will and a freedom of choice.
We chose to disobey God and go our own willful way. We still make this choice today. This results in separation from God

The Bible says ...

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." —Romans 3:23 (NIV)

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." —Romans 6:23 (NIV)

Our Attempts to Reach God

People have tried in many ways to bridge this gap between themselves and God ...

The Bible says ...

"There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." —Proverbs 14:12 (NIV)

"But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear." —Isaiah 59:2 (NIV)

No bridge reaches God ... except one.

Step 3: God's Bridge: The Cross

Jesus Christ died on the Cross and rose from the grave. He paid the penalty for our sin and bridged the gap between God and people.

The Bible says ...

"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ."
—1 Timothy 2:5 (NIV)

"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God."
—1 Peter 3:18 (NIV)

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
—Romans 5:8 (NIV)

God has provided the only way. Each person must make a choice.

Step 4: Our Response: Receive Christ

We must trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and receive Him by personal invitation.

The Bible says ...

"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will
come in and eat with him, and he with me."
—Revelation 3:20 (NIV)

"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to
become children of God."
—John 1:12 (NIV)

"That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised
Him from the dead, you will be saved."
—Romans 10:9 (NIV)
Where are you?

Will you receive Jesus Christ right now?

Here is how you can receive Christ:
1. Admit your need (I am a sinner).
2. Be willing to turn from your sins (repent).
3. Believe that Jesus Christ died for you on the Cross and rose from the grave.
4. Through prayer, invite Jesus Christ to come in and control your life through the Holy Spirit.
(Receive Him as Lord and Savior.)

For more information, please visit:

Monday, September 25, 2006

No offense....

Why is it that people feel perfectly comfortable saying the most horrid things, so long as they follow it with "no offense," or "if I'm mistaken, I apologize?"

1) At the very end of a deposition last week, the other attorney asked to make a statement for the record, during which he stated that a document that had been produced appeared to have been "doctored." Turned out, he had the wrong document, and had he acted like a human being and asked about it without being accusatory, he would have resolved his question without the drama. Instead, he had to make a court record out of his mistaken assumption, only to follow with "if my recollection is incorrect, I apologize."

2) After I won a motion (also last week but in a different case), the other attorney decided to backstop his argument by seeking testimony from an expert - which is not only smart but should have been done before the evidentiary hearing. When the results of that test call my witness's credibility into question, he sends me a copy with a request to "call me." When I do, he proceeds to suggest that I was complicit in the witness's testimony about the timing of certain events, and that he wouldn't want to suggest that I had done anything improper. The hell he didn't! A) I wasn't complicit in the witness's testimony, because B) the witness offered what was a logical explanation - he had had open heart surgery. The Court recognized the explanation as a valid one for a time delay, and it ruled in my client's favor appropriately. But he didn't mean to "imply" that I had done anything wrong.... Yeah, right.

The next time someone says something like that and follows it with some nonsense that is supposed to negate the effect of what they just said, I'm going to have to have something to say. I don't know what it is yet, but I'm going to think of something good to come back with that should (hopefully) either shut them up (if they're just insensitive) or point them out as the sniping bullies they really are.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Fall is really here

The weather this summer has not been that bad. Really. It could have been a lot worse. I still am overjoyed that the cooler temperatures and brisker breezes have finally arrived in southeast Michigan. I went to Frankenmuth yesterday with some friends, and it was almost perfect. I'm planning to go back, because as great as it was yesterday, it would've been even better if the leaves had turned, but we haven't had enough cold yet - I think that's what makes the leaves change.

Anyway, if you're ever in Michigan, Frankenmuth is a must-see stop on your travels. It's an interesting village, and while the tourist attractions have attempted to swallow the original place, I found this bit of history from the website (yes, they have a website! - this is an edited excerpt):

Wilhelm Loehe, pastor of a country church in Neuendettelsau, Mittelfranken, in the Kingdom of Bavaria, organized a mission society, which is still in operation today, to train teachers and pastors for work in the United States. His idea was an experiment to send a mission congregation with a dual purpose: to give spiritual comfort to the German pioneers in the Midwest, specifically the Saginaw Valley, and to show the native Indians in the area "Wie gut und schön es ist Jesus zu sehen" (how good and wonderful it is to see Jesus).

The pastor of a Swabian settlement in Michigan recommended a location along the Cass River in Michigan, and Loehe approved it, naming it "Frankenmuth," from the German word "Franken" (representing the Province of Franconia in the Kingdom of Bavaria), and the German word "Muth" (meaning courage). The city name Frankenmuth means "courage of the Franconians."

Thirteen people, mostly farmers from the area around Neuendettelsau (eight were from Rosstal) volunteered to form the colony. Loehe selected Pastor August Craemer, a graduate of Erlangen University who was, in 1844, teaching German at Oxford, England, to train to be the mission colony's pastor and leader.

Loehe also started three other German colonies in Michigan. His purpose was not to start another mission colony, but to cluster German Lutherans together in Michigan.
Farms were set up in long, narrow strips along one road so that all the houses could be built close to each other, more like a German "dorf." A fourth colony, started in 1850, had a different purpose: to help poor and/or unmarried Germans to lead new and better lives.

Immigration continued through the end of the 19th century as friends and relatives of settlers joined them in Michigan. Many were craftsmen and businessmen who continued their same trades here. Frankenmuth established a reputation for its flour, saw and woolen mills. They also produced beer, cheese, and sausage. A half dozen hotels served travelers. Agricultural and self-sustaining businesses were the norm.

Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland open in 1945. If you've never been to (or heard of) Bronner's, it is a destination adventure in itself - it's always Christmas there, no matter what day of the year it is, and their selection of Christmas ornaments and other things is remarkable.

After World War II, the development of interstate highways led the community into the visitor industry and the town capitalized its assets. In 1958/59, the Zehnder family redecorated the Fischer Hotel in an "Alpine-style" architecture, renaming it the Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn. The Bavarian Inn Grand Opening was held in 1959, and the celebration was later developed into annual Bavarian Festival.

The expansion and development of the area into a Michigan tourist destination has continued apace - I was kind of surprised at how commercial much of the shopping outside the city proper has become even since I was there last, but it was still a lot of fun to go to the shops, and they seem to find things I haven't seen anywhere else.

Good way to open Fall!! :)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Back to our regularly scheduled programming.....

Yikes. It's amazing how time flies - I only wish it flew because I was having fun, but alas, that was not entirely the case.

The quick rundown:

After I posted my 9/11 tribute, I kind of gave it some space - some air time, so to speak - where it would be at the top of the blog. For one thing, my programming skills are still somewhat non-existent, and for another, I was kind of overcome by so many of the other tributes that people wrote. I know it's been 5 years, but still.

During that week, I was trying to get caught up on work, only the phone kept ringing!! My parents were coming to town, too, so I also was busy getting my house ready for their visit. They arrived in the evening on Friday the 15th, and my mom and I stayed up until about 1:00 a.m. that night/morning just yakking.

Saturday the 16th, one of my dear friends from work met my mom, my dad and I for brunch. Then, we went home and hung out until we left to go to my aunt's and uncle's for dinner (this is my mom's sister and her husband). Then, my dad and I left there and went to the Tigers game - which was fortunate, because it's the last game they've won in the past few days! - and we had a good time. We got home before my mom, who stayed and hung out with her sister, so that was good.

Sunday, my dad went to his former church's 20th anniversary (he'd been the pastor there for 10 of those 20 years, so he participated in the service), and my mom and I played hooky! We hung out, talked, went to the bookstore and the library to look up stuff, and just had a nice day. My mom was thrilled that my local library was actually open on Sundays, since the one by their house isn't. Plus, it's a great library, so we were able to find what she was looking for.

By Monday morning, I had to be someplace extra early, so I left the house at about 7:00 a.m. They left later and got home OK, and the time between now and then is a bit of a blur. I had a bankruptcy court hearing Monday afternoon that lasted until after 6:00 p.m.!! I won, but it was really late. Yesterday, I had a hearing in the late morning that didn't go because a witness was unavailable, so we had to adjourn that, and today, I had another thing that just got over with around 1:00 p.m. I have things tomorrow and I don't think I get a break in the action until Friday.....

So that's why I've been away! :) Aren't you glad you know? Hope things are well with you, and I will try to think of good things to write about between now and the next time.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Dreaming big dreams

I'm in a motivational rut right now. It's partly because our company announced yesterday that it was hiring someone I have worked with in the past and found to be difficult to get along with - her father is a judge, and she had the entitlement attitude you would expect. In our last co-employment situation, I had her fired.

It's also partly because I'm at "that age" where I feel like should be in a different place than I am. Yes, I've bought my own place. Yes, I've been in this job for longer than I've ever had a job in my life. Yes, I'm at a point where I can actually visualize paying off my student loans sometime before I die (it's still a ways off, but it's a lot more realistic now than it was 3 years ago).

The thing is, I don't really know what to do next. I didn't think I wanted to be a partner in my firm - partners are generally very nice people, but I have little concept of how my life would change if I got there, and the evidence I've seen is that those changes would require more of what I already don't have enough of: time, energy, focus, money, business, etc.

On the other hand, though, if I don't have something to shoot for, I know I will not maintain any acceptable (to me) level of productivity and "moving forward" in my career or in my life. I don't know what my childhood visions of what my life would be like were, but I'm pretty sure they weren't this.

And that's part of the question: what do I want my life to be like? I don't want to have the big house on the lake, or the power boat, or the country club membership where everybody knows me. Those things all come with strings: the house on the lake costs more in taxes and insurance, plus upkeep; the boat is subject to rapid depreciation, plus you have the same issues with taxes/insurance/upkeep; and, the country club membership is hugely expensive just to get in the door, never mind the cost of keeping up appearances so that you aren't the weakest link in the social chain.

Aside from which, unless one has a substantial bank account (which I don't), the money needed to fund that lifestyle just requires more time working - either actually putting in time that gets billed out to the clients, or bringing in business (which again requires a certain level of capital investment).

What I really want is a job that pays me enough to take care of my mortgage, my insurance, and my basic living expenses (including student loans), and leaves me something over and above those things to go out to dinner once in a while, maybe see a movie, go visit my family a couple of times a year, and put something away for the future.

The more I think about it, the more I think I might need to do some serious re-training, because nursing (while not the glamour and glitz one would expect from 10 seasons of "E.R.") seems to offer pretty much that life: you work (at a pretty decent hourly wage, sometimes with shift-differential and overtime), they pay you, you get benefits (that usually can include 401K, etc., just like I have now), and you don't have all of the same patients waiting for you plus the new ones that came in if you aren't there for a couple of days.

Plus, think of the different reactions at parties: "I'm a nurse" versus "I'm a lawyer." Dating options would certainly be different - caring female nurturer persona versus killer shark. Hm. Why did I not think of this sooner?

I talked to my mom about this. She was a nurse for over 30 years and left for health reasons, but she still thinks of going back to it. I talked to her this afternoon about my idea - it's a back-up plan in case things with this new addition to our professional staff go sideways, but the more I talked to her and the more I thought about it, the more I wonder whether this isn't such a bad thing to pursue regardless.

She was making $80,000 a year as a nurse working 3-4 days a week, 12-hour shifts, plus shift-differential and weekend pay/overtime. Granted, she was working in coronary intensive care, and the educational upgrades were a little intimidating at times, but the reality was, she was good at it - she just couldn't cope with the stress of their financial situation on top of the job pressures. She said that there would be no reason I couldn't make the same money after about 3 years or so if I wanted to just be a nurse, but I could make considerably more than that with my degree.

I have to admit: the idea of changing careers and going into something that I would have at least one built-in mentor (my mom's sister-in-law is also a nurse with unmatched administrative experience), plus my mom's brother is a doctor. That would be better than continuing to flounder in a profession where, yes I've accomplished a lot by doing what I've been doing, but where I've had to feel my way along with minimal mentoring and guidance.

Most lawyers, God bless them, are too busy to do the mentoring that people need to be truly successful in their profession. As an example of the difference it can make, my sister, who is a major in the U.S. Army with almost 20 years in, gets regular mentoring from someone in the Army - not just in the career decisions she makes, but also in the financial aspects of maximizing her income.

As a result, she has the option of taking a civilian position in the same department doing essentially the same type of work she's doing now, and after about 5 years she won't have to work. Ever. Because she will have a pension and benefits that, coupled with her investments, will provide her with a level of income that will support her for the rest of her life.

To be sure, there is a certain amount of pique on my part because her pension, although deserved for her service in Desert Storm and since, will be at my (taxpayer) expense, but still: that's what I would like to have had in my profession and career, and it's not there. It's not there for most people working in most jobs anymore - the days of the company pension where you spend your life working for a corporation and they provide a retirement for you when you reach a certain amount of time in or a certain age are gone.

Yes, it's a bit of an entitlement attitude - and yes, I can see the irony - but the opportunities to effectively manage the alternatives are few and far between. You'd have to have bought your own home outright (no mortgage) with sufficient land to eventually produce vegetables, maybe a few chickens or goats for eggs, milk and cheese (unless you wanted to keep a cow or two), and even then, you'd have to be able to generate enough income to keep up the place plus pay taxes on it every year. Probably, you would want to keep a cow & chickens so that you had fresh manure to renourish the soil so your vegetables would give you more than just something to eat, too.

God forbid you get sick or need to be hospitalized for anything, because the medical expenses could wipe you out, unless you were in a community where the doctor didn't depend so heavily on actual money coming in that he (or she) could either barter or outright give you medical care or treatment.

When was the last time you talked to anyone who could say those things about their lives?

Anyway, something to think about.

It matters to this one

There is a story told to young trial lawyers about this classic opening statement for a personal injury trial:

A man walking along a beach spies a child picking up starfish, one at a time, and throwing them back into the sea. He ask the child, "Why are you wasting your time at this? They just come back after you throw them in, and look how many there are! You'll never get them all back into the water."

The child answers, "But it matters to this one, and to this one, and to this one...."

The people who died on September 11, 2001, had families. When I thought about whether it would matter if I or anyone else posted a tribute to any of those who lost their lives in that attack, I thought of this story. It matters to this one. It matters to the families to know that people remember their loss, their grief, their anger, their pain.

And as much as it matters to the families, it matters to us, too. Whether we agree with the choices made in the wake of the 9/11 attack, our lives have been irrevocably changed, much like the lives of our parents or grandparents were changed after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and possibly like the lives of those families who survived the Holocaust were changed.

The balance to tragedy, war and grief is remembrance. Remember the ones who were lost. Talk about them, what they might be like, what their favorite flavor of ice cream was, whether they followed the Mets or the Yankees, the Cubs or the Sox.

My person is Edward T. Fergus, age 40, of Wilton, Connecticut. I did a little checking online, and I found that he was a husband, a father of two children, a "junior", an employee of Cantor Fitzgerald, and a boating enthusiast. He graduated from St. Michael's College in 1983.

I cannot imagine the loss his family feels because he is not at the table for celebrations. He will miss his children's graduations and weddings, his parents' anniversaries, his wife's birthdays. He will miss family vacations and the time to sit and reflect on the ups and downs of business, life, and love. There is a beautiful tribute to his memory on here.

According to The Hartford Courant, he enjoyed the outdoors and spending time working on his lawn and home (from neighbor Lisa Crosby). Fergus, his wife, Linda, and their children moved from Norwalk to Wilton a year before the Courant article ran. As a family they hiked, skied and enjoyed boating.

His family will miss his presence and his influence - his children will need someone else to whom to take their troubles, their questions about decisions they have to make, their stories and their laughter. He will not see their weddings. He will not see his grandchildren, and his grandchildren will never know their grandfather. His wife will not have her husband's hand to hold during each of those moments, and if he has a daughter, she will not have her father to walk her down the aisle. If he has a son, his son will not be able to ask his dad about what it means to be a father. There are skills he had, family traditions he held and memories he knew that are lost forever because of that day.

What will this tribute matter, really, to anyone? It will matter to this one - his family, his friends, his colleagues - to know that somewhere, people remember him and the impact he had on those he loved.

This is supposed to be a tribute, and I hope I've succeeded in that effort. However, I would like to make it a little more than that. I'd like to make it a bit of an exhortation to those of us who remain among the living: whatever it is you've been meaning to do, do it now. Write the letters, make the phone calls, mend the wounds, reach out to those you love but haven't had time for in a while. Understand that you can't fix everything - not in a moment, not in a day, not (maybe) in a lifetime, but that you can take one step toward a different future. Because some day, it will matter to someone.

Friday, September 8, 2006

Sharing violation

The biggest and most important lesson of childhood (after potty training and "please" and "thank you") is how to share. You learn to share toys, snacks, clothes, shoes, Barbies (distinguished from actual toys because they're, well, Barbies), and ... parents.

As the oldest of four, I had to learn to share mommy and daddy early - before I was a year old - because my sister was born 13 months and 1 day after I was. Supposedly, I had that whole first year to myself, but the reality was, I had about 4-6 months before my mom started getting morning sickness and hormone fluctuations that accompanied her pregnancies.

By the time my oldest brother was born, I was 7 (and a half!), so I knew the drill pretty well; my sister was not so astute. Her nose got out of joint at no longer being the baby, and it's still a bit out of joint to this very day. My youngest brother's birth when I was almost 10 completed the tribe. While my sister felt some solidarity with him (he was the baby boy, but she was still the baby girl), she and my oldest brother are still somewhat competitive.

Flash-forward 42 years, and we have learned a little better to share. Not much better but a little better. :) Thus, I can say with complete honesty that I am totally digging the fact that I am getting SO much more parent time this year than my siblings!! Granted, my brother lives the closest and as a result, his kids get to spend time with their Nana whenever possible, but that's only because of proximity.

My folks are coming for a visit next weekend, my dad and I are going to a Tigers game (go Tigers!!), and my mom and I are already planning how we're going to handle the Sunday portion of the weekend (there is a 20th anniversary of a church my dad pastored for about 10 years, and she doesn't want to go.... We're working on that...) There may be a little hooky involved. We won't go into details.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Home again, home again

I hope you all had a good labor day weekend. I had a really good time in Alabama visiting my family. My parents are finally getting their second wind after their visit to Venezuela in July & August. My brother (a marine policeman in the Cullman area) and his family are doing fine. I got to see their place, and it looks nice: my sister in law is really good at choosing home decor; no matter what she starts with, she has a way of making things look really "together" and cozy, and I SO wish I had that gene!!

My mom & I spent Saturday afternoon cleaning out the garage. My sister in law and her three girls came over to see us Saturday morning about 10:30-11:00 a.m. - and my mom and I were still sleeping, because it had been a long drive for me the day before, and of course, we didn't go to bed until late because we were up all evening talking! :)

Anyway, we got up, had something to eat/drink, and spent a little time with her and the girls before they left to go to their little cousin's third birthday party. That was when my mom and I ended up cleaning out part of the garage. After that, we walked around their yard - they have 2 or 3 acres, I think. It's hard to tell because of the shape of the lot and because a chunk of it in back is sort of overgrown. Plus, they have a garage, two outbuildings/sheds, and a playhouse on the property in addition to the house, so it's size is deceptive.

My mom wants to do all this gardening and planning for a nice yard, and they have the room to do it, but it's a lot to keep up, and her back and legs won't let her do the things she did 20-30 years ago. My dad's physical condition is worse, so between the two of them, they have a hard time doing things when the weather is hot, which is 5-6 months out of the year, so sometimes, things get away from them a bit. That was why I worked on the garage. At least this time, I didn't end up with a massive spider bite!! :)

Sunday was church, and Monday was kind of a lay low and relax day. We left for Cullman at about 1:30 p.m., because my brother wouldn't get off work until later, and it takes an hour and a half to get there. We wound up leaving their house at about 8:30, but it worked out fine. I'm trying to get them to come up to Michigan for a visit - just them and their kids - and I hope they can come.

Tuesday was the day I'd reserved to drive home, and let me tell you, I am really glad I did that. My right front tire blew out right around Dayton, and I was so thankful that there were kind people to stop and help me set the jack and to direct me to the right tire place where I could get a new tire. This nice man stopped because he thought it wouldn't be safe for a woman to change a tire out on the highway alone, and while we were changing the tire, the freeway patrol stopped and made sure everything was OK - actually watched to make sure I got back on the road safely, which was nice.

Then, as I realized I wouldn't be able to drive from Dayton to Detroit on my little donut spare, I pulled off where I saw a Goodyear tire place. They didn't have the right size tire, but they directed me back to this other place - Cooper Tires, right off of I-75 - where Kim (bless her heart) checked her stock to see if she had a tire that would fit my car. When she didn't have it, she called the Tires Unlimited place down the road (all of these places were within about 2 blocks of each other), and they had what I needed. She told me where to go to get there, told me who to ask for, and was so nice about it!

Then, the Tires Unlimited people were nice enough to sell me the right size tire for what I could pay for it - I had told them I only had about $40 to spend, and they found something new that fit - and they put the tire on and sorted everything out. It was fortuitous (yeah, right!! :) ) that all of this happened where/when it did, because the tire place closed at 6:30-7:00 p.m., and I could have been stranded overnight.

Puppy-boy and I were tired when we got home, but thankfully, we got home in one piece - and we slept in this morning!! :) My folks are coming up for a visit in a couple of weeks to attend my dad's former church's 20th anniversary, so they will be here before we know it. There's nothing like having family around, and I am so glad I had the time to spend with mine this weekend. However, there is nothing quite like being in your own house with your own bed and your own pillow..... (Sigh!) There really is no place like home.

BTW: Not to brag, but my little Honda Civic got about 31 MPG for the trip. 1335 miles round trip, 12-gallon tank, about 1 gallon left at each end, 4 tanks of gas. All things considered, that's pretty good. Also, gas was cheaper in central & southern Ohio than it was in Alabama or in Michigan. Go figure.....

Monday, May 1, 2006

It's not you, it's me.

If you're single, here's today's question: what if the reason we're single is us?

I read today's "Dating & Relating" column after checking my email (and deleting the spam), and it was actually quite helpful in its recitation of the things to watch for when seeking a mate. I've copied just the list here - please visit their website to read the rest of the column *, which was interesting:

10 signs your date’s a keeper
By Karen Salmansohn

1. Is your date kind, respectful and appropriately generous to waiters/waitresses, bus drivers, sales clerks, etc?

2. Has your sweetie confessed to any immoral behavior: Cheating, stealing, lying, inappropriate aggression? If so, how much reflection on this and desire to change has this person shown since then?

3. Does the person you’re dating have any addictions: Drinking, gambling, shopping? Does he or she want to change—and is he or she working to make change happen?

4. Does your honey have a lot of lasting friendships—or hardly any?

5. Does your date always tell stories about bad dynamics he or she experiences with other people? Or does he or she seem to get along easily, even swimmingly, with others?

6. Does your sweetie comment on news stories with a sense of empathy and awareness, or is he or she low on expressing compassion for all that is going on in this world?

7. Have you witnessed your date doing small acts of kindness (leaving a very big tip for no apparent reason, helping someone with his or her shopping bags)?

8. Does this person donate time, money and energy to good causes/charity?

9. Does your honey value self-growth—and show this by being open to hearing your grievances, accepting responsibility for problems when merited, and sharing with you how much he or she values learning lessons in life?

10. Does your sweetie truly value open communication and know how to listen? When you’re upset or need nurturing, does this person deal with the problem at the speed of life... or shut down/stonewall/attack/condescend? Basically a relationship will survive not based on how well you get along, but by how well you don’t get along. A couple is only as “strong” as how well the two individuals can deal with their weakest moments together.

I read through this list thinking, this is pretty good - I can watch for this stuff. Then it dawned on me: the guys I've been interested in and with whom I've shared at least a meal or two exhibit the good traits; they just don't exhibit them with me. And it makes me wonder: how do we learn to attract good people to us, and more importantly, what makes them stick around?

It's not just being a good person yourself, no matter what the lists tell you, because (this blog to the contrary), I actually do behave kindly, respectfully and appropriately generously with waiters/waitresses, bus drivers, sales clerks, etc. My life is not characterized by stealing, lying, cheating or too much aggression, and I'm not addicted to anything that I know of (although chocolate was not on the list).

I don't have a lot of lasting relationships, but I attribute that to lack of experience rather than other reasons, and I don't spend a lot of time talking with others about bad relationship dynamics - that's what blogs are for! ;) I mean, when you moved around as much as I did, anything beyond about 2 years is virgin territory - sometimes, it's easier to repeat the same patterns because they're familiar than to take the risks (and make the mistakes) associated with learning new ones.

After all, when everyone else learns all this stuff in their youth (i.e., between the ages of 10 and 15), they see someone in her 40s and think she should already know, without bothering to find out whether that's an accurate assumption. Just like with money, it's easier to learn when the stakes are lower - how much easier to mess up when you're talking about a skateboard or ice skates, instead of mortgages and car payments!

As far as the rest of the list goes, I do leave good tips (not just occasionally - I know how hard those waiters and waitresses work), and I have the other stuff covered, too. I also know that part of the issue is trust: if you don't trust other people, then you're not as open, and therefore, getting to know you is a lot more work, but the flip side of that is the old poem "Children Learn What They Live."

Perhaps the point is going to have to remain that in order to develop good relationships, we still have to sow the seeds, water, weed out the bad plants, and wait for the harvest. That's about it. Hope, patience, a positive attitude are all good ways to get through the waiting, but there is still waiting to be done. We'll see.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

New reading material

For no reason I can fathom, I started reading Francis Schaeffer's "Back to Freedom and Dignity" again. Finished it, actually, a couple of times (it's a small pamphlet - maybe 30 pages, tops).

The weird part is, after I finished it, I felt like something in my soul just "woke up." If you've ever almost killed a plant by neglect, and then you decide to water it (just in case), you know how some plants can revive almost visibly when they get that water: that transformation from an almost lifeless, shrivelled, dry twig to lush greenery (captured and displayed in time-lapse photography!) is what it felt like.

Of course, there may be a bit more to it than that - I got an idea for a novel as a result, and the combination of the ideas presented in the booklet and the possibility of a prospective research/writing project was probably the juice that got my motor going again.

The other side of the experience was the realization that as much as I love to read and love to discuss what I read with other people, I am nowhere nearly as widely or deeply read as I wish I were, and the only person I have to thank for that is myself.

So, I am going to start a reading list - not of what I am reading, but of what I would like to read (or think I should read), in addition to those things I read "just for the halibut."

It's almost like my body and my mind are finally on the same page: both flabby and both tired of it. We'll see how long this lasts...... :)

Saturday, April 22, 2006


I know it's no longer New Year's - it is, in fact, almost 5 months past New Year's. I'm still in the mood for resolutions, and I've narrowed it to the following:

1. Lose the 40 pounds I've put on in the past 2 years by:

a. Getting more and more regular exercise (including renewing my running program, going to the gym, and taking time to stretch)
b. Eating healthier things - snacks are going to have to be part of the program, but I will buy healthier options than Pop-Tarts and chocolate chips.
c. Getting more and more regular sleep - falling asleep on the couch at 1:00 a.m. after watching yet another couple of "Sex and the City" re-runs on UPN does not cut it.

2. Simplify and organize my living space

3. Make time in my schedule to spend time with family and friends - they are too important to me to just give them the leftovers.

4. Make and keep the commitment to regularly attend church.

That's it. I have to say that I really appreciate the new friends I've met online through their blogs, and I totally enjoy rummaging around online, but I have to make time for other things in my life to avoid turning into that 800-pound single woman who has to be lifted out of her house with a crane.

To a certain extent, this came about because I thought about going back to school for a Ph.D. The fact that it would take 12 semesters at 9 credit hours each, plus a year to defend the doctoral dissertation I would have to figure out how and about what to write, led me to the conclusion that at this point in my life, that wasn't a great idea, but it also prompted me to look at my schedule (as I was trying to figure out when I would have time for this).

I realized that the only person forcing me to spend so much time alone was me. Yes, I work long hours, and I go home to my dog and the TV, but I can make other choices that will get me out of the house (even with the dog) and involved in other people's lives, too.

It's harder to socialize when you're single, unless you like going to bars or you have the time and money to go to other places (most of which don't allow pets) to meet other people. I realized that as I thought about ways I could improve my practice - getting new clients, strengthening relationships with existing clients, etec.

The skills one uses to build client relationships are socialization and social skills - skills I've let get rusty because I really hate moving out of my comfort zone. I realized that even though I don't know and have never met any of the characters in the various TV shows I watch (which lately hasn't been that many, but that's beside the point), I stick to those habits because they are familiar.

I know Carrie's sense of humor, I cringe when Ray Barrone and his wife jab at each other, I silently encourage the guys on CSI (any city) or NCIS to get bad guys - it's all familiar and comforting in its reliability. As long as I hold the remote, those characters are going to be there as scheduled. None of them will make unrealistic demands, and none of them will leave (unless the station messes with the schedule).

It's just not enough - it was fun for a time, as I got somewhat settled into a new environment, and adjusted to different responsibilities, but I think I'm ready to move on. Hence the resolutions!

If you've made any mid-year resolutions yourself, tell me about them. Maybe we can encourage each other in our respective pursuits and go from there!! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

6 Things Meme

6 weird facts/things/habits about myself:

1. I sometimes start lists and don't finish them because I get bogged down in the subdivisions between items.
a. This includes projects
2. When I buy ice cream, I buy it in the smallest possible packages because once it's open, it's gone.
3. I don't make my bed.
4. I occasionally cut my own hair instead of going to the hairdresser because I decide I hate it at times when the beauty shops are closed.
5. I have cataract lens implants in both eyes (and I'm not over the age of 65).
6. When I was a kid, I wanted to be on Merv Griffen.

As for tagging 6 more people, I'm not sure I even know 6 people (who haven't already been tagged), so I will leave it up for volunteers. If you do, I would like to read about your 6 things, too. Enjoy!

(One of these days, I'm going to look up the definition of "meme" and memorize it!)

Recipe for Change

As you know, Alcoholics Anonymous has a wonderful program to assist anyone who wants to recover from alcohol addiction. The program has been modified appropriately to treat other addictions such as drugs, food and sex.

It dawned on me this morning as I shut the alarm clock off for the eleventy-first time that I need is a workaholics anonymous program, but the difficulty is that I can't just go waltzing in to the office and say "I'm going to have to restrict my working hours because I just can't keep this up."

A) First, they would laugh in my face, and then B) they would then point to the total number of hours they all work and remind me that I'm getting paid to work those same hours. Finally, C) they would tell me that I have a choice whether to work there or not, but if I choose to do so, I need to work the hours they tell me to work. [Except for the hours I work part, this is all true - I actually did relax a little over the last couple of weeks, but it was because I was ill].

The alternative to committing career suicide came to me this morning: I need to set some boundaries, and take care of my own needs so that I can give the 110% I need to give during work. As I thought about that prospect (lovely though it might be in principle), I realized that I had no earthly idea what that meant.

Doing everything you want is not paradise - really. It sounds good when you're 10 or so, and you want to do so many things that you are just not allowed to do (for a number of really good reasons you don't understand until you're older). The trouble is, I really have a life in which I can do pretty much anything I want, and I don't like it.

I remember reading somewhere that we are defined by the promises we make and keep - to ourselves and to others - and I think that it is better to be an active part of a larger whole than to be totally independent and autonomous. If the only promises we keep are those we make to ourselves (and let's be honest: most of those are abandoned by consent after we talk ourselves out of keeping them - who hasn't promised to eat better only to succumb to a REALLY lovely pastry "just this once"?), we lose the benefit of making and keeping promises to other people such that we become interdependent (not co-dependent) with the result that we lead richer and fuller lives.

The thing is, it's great to say "OK, I want to do this" and make the decision, but it requires the cooperation of others to accomplish it. What happens if you don't make friends easily? What happens if you just don't find people with whom you have enough in common to build those bridges? What happens if you've never had time to just listen to the little inner voice telling you what you really enjoy, as opposed to just joining things and staying so busy that leisure becomes as binding as work?

The recipe for change is going to have to start with basics: getting enough sleep, getting proper nutrition, and getting enough exercise. Those three things have to form the foundation for any real change - right? If you start with the premise that 8 hours is the guideline, everything else has to occur in the remaining 16 hours, including those pre-sleeping and post-waking moments that allow you to transition from sleep to wakefulness and back. Let's say, 9 hours total (including a half hour on either end for prep time). That leaves 15 hours.

Out of those remaining 15 hours per day, I have to take care of my dog (feeding, watering and taking outside to be good puppy), clean my teeth, maintain a reasonable grooming regimen (which currently consists of bare necessity to get out the door without being too scruffy - VERY bad!!), eat a nutritious meal, dress and go to work. That's the morning routine, and on a good day, it takes about an hour; on a bad day, it takes an hour and a half, so I should have to be up by 6:00 a.m. to be at work by 8:00 (because of transition time, traffic and getting a coffee & checking email when I arrive at work).

Backing up 8.5 hours from that means I have to be on my way to bed by no later than 9:30 p.m., which can allow the transition time for brushing teeth and letting the dog outside. The point is to get into a routine so that I can get to sleep - not that I sleep the minute my head hits the pillow.

That's insane, though. I didn't get home from work last night until after 8:00 p.m., and my normal arrival time is between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. When I get home, I have to take the dog outside, I have to fix something for dinner, and I haven't even discussed exercise. When do people do these things?

It's a recipe worth working out, though, and I'm committed (or I will be if this doesn't work out).

Monday, April 17, 2006

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

I spent Saturday digging in the dirt and planting. Yes, it's a bit early, but I wanted something to replace the beautiful bed of weeds I was growing next to my porch.

Considering that I have a black thumb (i.e., usually, whatever I plant dies), gardening involves a significant amount of hope. I try to plant hardy things - stuff that generally won't die of neglect - but sometimes I try new stuff just because I want things that look planned and pretty.

This weekend, I planted peonies and snapdragons. This will be my first time planting peonies, and I usually don't like them because of those little tiny ants you always see on the flowers, but I've heard from 2 reliable sources that those little ants are necessary to help the flowers open all the way. As long as they don't decide they'd rather live indoors, they can stay.

The snapdragons were just an impulse purchase - I've never grown them before, and I don't know why I decided on them this spring (other than that they were the only flowers available that looked like flowers instead of weeds), but I found yellow and red/pink ones.

Yesterday, I bought pansies, which are my favorites, and I also saw some impatiens (which I am going to wait on - it still seems a bit too cold here for impatiens). I have one area that I'm still deciding what to do with, since a) it's right in front of one of those basement egress windows and b) it currently has a mixture of weeds, hyacinths and hostas (which I also dislike - they're just leafy plants that take over everything!!).

My inclination is to cover everything over with newspaper, hay and bricks until the whole area is dead, and then put new topsoil (Miracle Gro Organic is my first preference), and plant annuals, and then put one of those cedar-y looking tall bushes (grows up to about 4 feet tall - can't think of the name) over to one side so that there is a "framing", if you will, of the "landscaped area."

My other option is to just put herbacide on everything and then cover it with rocks. I'm not sure which would be preferable, but I don't want any excessive vegetation blocking the fire exit from the basement egress window. Plus, if I plant things over there, I have to weed, water and otherwise keep up with whatever I plant....

Decisions, decisions, decisions....

I'll let you know.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Favorite TV Ads

I have a confession to make:

I am starting to really like that new Subway ad with Jon Lovetts doing a much more G-rated version of his old SNL gig. The latest one I've seen is the one where a guy and a girl are at their desks working, and the guy is mentally rehearsing how he's going to invite the girl out on a date. Enter guy #2 who just brings her a sandwich, whereupon she thanks him profusely, grabs his tie and kisses him. Jon Lovetts says "The blonde boy's a LOSER!" in that fake-British accent he used (so it sounds like "LU-zah"), and it's just ... funny. I like this ad SO much better than the Jared ads!

Unfortunately, I have not seen my previous favorite (discussed in an earlier post), which was for some cell phone company offering a deal on this newer, slimmer Razr model (why is it that slimmer is presumed to be better, even with a phone?). That's the one that ended with the line: "Because it's LAAAAMMMMMEEEEE!!!"

I also kind of like the Dove ads - showing real women and making them look good without making them look like someone else to do it is a good thing in concept. I found myself fuming, though, whenever I saw one of their ads and it finally dawned on me that I was not fuming at the ads or the company, but that it took so flippin' long for an advertiser to recognize and implement the concept!! Hats off to Dove!!

I haven't been watching a lot of TV lately, however, because I've been trying to read more. I finished as many Quilter books (Jennifer Chiaverini) as I could get ahold of, and then I ran out of good new material. I picked up three by the same author on my last trip to the library, plus another one or two that looked interesting. I finished one of them already, and it wasn't that good, but nothing ventured nothing gained.

Monday, April 10, 2006

How soon we forget......

In light of current media discussions regarding what (if anything) to do with illegal immigrants, and general handling of matters foreign and domestic by the current administration, I was reminded of the perfect joke that I finally found (at least one version of it):

Jimmy Carter is near the end of his presidency, sitting in the Oval Office when the ghost of Theodore Roosevelt appears.

"What's wrong," says Roosevelt, "you look gloomy."

"Well, I haven't had a very good four years. The economy is in shambles, and the Soviets are making advancements around the world. Now they're in Afghanistan too."

Roosevelt replies assuredly, "Russians in Afghanistan? What did you do? Did you send the Marines?"

"No" replied Carter, "but we did voice a very strong protest at the United Nations. And did I tell you, the Iranians are holding 53 American hostages."

"Oh no," Roosevelt replied. "In this case I'm sure you sent in the Marines... and the Navy, Army and Air Force."

Carter replies: "No, but we did voice a very strong protest at the United Nations."

Roosevelt is fuming at this point at the lack of Carter's backbone. Roosevelt quips back: "Isn't that great, I suppose you gave away the Panama Canal too!"

Carter: Well.......

Friday, April 7, 2006

When Geeks Compete

My sister is a math geek - admittedly. Honestly, I am quite proud of her. She went through ROTC in college, got her commission into the Army, went to the Gulf War in the early 90s, went to Cuba to deal with whatever was going on there at the time, and has since been all over the world, in addition to getting a master's degree in mathematics at Georgia Tech. The only down side to all of this is that she thinks her big sister is ... not unintelligent, but not capable of understanding anything she does. I think it's a math/engineering thing, really, but it's resulted in a revival of our sibling rivalry.

She sent me this email (not original - I don't know who authored it, but I'd seen it before - and she didn't claim authorship only sufficient appreciation for it to recognize the humor and pass it along). The funny thing was, I think she thought I wouldn't get it:

New element discovered. The new element has been named *Governmentium*. Governmentium (Gv) has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected,because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction which would normally take less than a second to take over four days to complete. Governmentium has a normal half-life of 4 years; it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as Critical Morass. When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium - an element which radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

Being a genetic smart-ass myself (and having a whopping insecurity complex of my own to deal with), I wrote back:

That sounds an awful lot like Bureaucratium (Bu), although I don't believe the atomic mass has been identified yet. The number of neutrons necessary to maintain stasis varies so much, we may never know. However, it, too, is held together by morons surrounded by vast quantities of peons, and is also inert. Similarly, it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact, albeit not to the same degree as Gv.

Bu is much more dependent for its existence on money; in fact, without money, the neurons split with cataclysmic force, the morons follow whichever neuron had the most access to begin with, and the peons evaporate.The big problem with Bureaucratium is that its half-life is unstable. It goes through cyclical periods of decay and regeneration, while maintaining the same basic particles as long as money is added. Generally, the morons tend to remain, while the peons are used up and evaporate.

The moron retention characteristic of Bureaucratium does not, in most cases, result in development into Governmentium, unless there is sufficient contact with Governmentium that the central neurons attract sufficient morons and peons to split and form their own individual units centering around a single neuron. Bureaucratium tends to become weighty with morons as money is added, but its tendency is to exhaust the existing peon supply before replenishing with only enough peons to keep the morons from collapsing under their own weight. If the influx of money cannot support the number of neurons per unit of Bu, it divides and forms another unit of multiple neurons.

She got it but had to say, "We think that these elements have something to do with string theory." I wrote back "open or closed?" I haven't heard anything since.

Yes, it would be nice if we could actually share and bond like normal sisters. (Sigh). Until we both grow up a bit more, I don't think it's going to happen.

Thursday, April 6, 2006


I talked yesterday about how things matter to me, and that it's important to make sure that my feelings and opinions don't get lost. [At least, that was the point - admittedly, it might have gotten lost in the general wallowing].

It also matters how I look at things. It matters what I conclude from what I observe around me. It matters not only to me but to those around me, because I have an impact on other people. However, what if my perspective is skewed or warped? Where is the reality check?

I ask those questions because without balance, the whole thing falls apart. My perspective is important, but it is not the only factor in assessing and acting on what goes on around me. Where I've been most confused and aggravated lately is where I've based my actions on my perspective without the "reality check" provided by time, hormone adjustments, input from someone else, etc. It's easy to react without taking other information into account - the average 3-year-old does that regularly. Maturity requires not reacting on the basis of just my own perspective but also taking into account other people's needs.

What happens if the two (or more) perspectives are mutually exclusive?

I'm still working through some of that, in part because I was taught that self-sacrifice was "the way to go" when it came to interpersonal issues. The other thing that persists, though, is the perception that if someone else points something out, they probably have a reason, and that reason should be considered as valid until proven otherwise.

As a result, I'm not good at just blowing off stuff that shouldn't bother me - things stick, sit under the surface and fester a bit until I get rid of it. Sometimes that process is fairly quick and painless; other times, it's long and drawn-out and wicked horrible. Where it gets really annoying is when the person is someone I know and (to a point) trust as an objective voice, but for whatever reason, I either think they're way off base, or I know they're operating from their own perspective, and (here's the part that bugs me) THEY DON'T CARE WHAT MY OPINION OR PERSPECTIVE IS because it doesn't matter in the overall outcome.

I suspect the next several days will be consumed with "anger issues." Hopefully, those won't find their way here, since it's been a somewhat dismal couple of weeks.....

On a lighter note, I just finished reading a really great book from another Irish writer. My usual favorite is Maeve Binchy, although I've read almost all of her books by this point and so haven't picked up anything of hers in a while. This one is by Sharon Owens, and it is called "The Tavern on Maple Street." Very easy to read, good character development, and a way with a story. Perfect escapist fiction! :)

I started another one this afternoon - it's set in Alaska in 1915 or so. I'll let you know how it goes.

Fractured lyrics

Singing songs is fun. Singing songs when someone else mixes up the lyrics can be even more fun - even if you're the one who doesn't know the words! :) There are a couple that come to mind when I think of fractured lyrics:

"Jose, can you see...", instead of "Oh say can you see..." (Star Spangled Banner)

"Through the night with the light from a bulb", instead of "Through the night with the light from above." (God Bless America)

My most recent was from a Dan Fogelberg song "Part of the Plan" - in trying to be encouraging, I only a) missed the opportunity to be truly encouraging, and b) mis-quoted the lyrics to the song!

While I hope my efforts accomplished their ultimate purpose, here are the real lyrics (with apologies to the Dan):

Love when you can
Cry when you have to
Be who you must
that's a part of the plan
Await your arrival with simple survival
and one day we'll all understand.

Had I gotten it right, I would have realized first of all that the real encouragement in the song is in the first verse, not so much in the chorus:

I have these moments all steady and strong
I'm feeling so holy and humble
The next thing I know I'm all worried and weak
and I feel myself starting to crumble
The meanings get lost and the teachings get tossed
and you don't know what you're going to do next
You wait for the sun but it never quite comes
Some kind of message comes through to you
Some kind of message comes through....

Anyway, the weird part is, he's right:

Your conscience awakes and you see your mistakes
and you wish someone would buy your confession
The days miss their mark and the nights get so dark
And some kind of message comes through to you
Some kind of message shoots through
And it says to you

Love when you can
Cry when you have to
Be who you must
that's a part of the plan
Await your arrival with simple survival
and one day we'll all understand.

Of course, he blows it at the end, but to that point, it's a pretty good song. Exegesis of popular music was not my strong suit, raised as I was on gospel quartets, the Carpenters, Pat Boone and folkies, but I know a good lyric when I misquote it! :)

To my friend, hope you feel better soon. Really.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Sometimes, it SHOULD be about you

I don't know who coined the phrase "it's not always about you," but it seems that the least expression of any emotion from remotely personal perspective draws the exasperated question, "why does everything always have to be about you?"

While I agree that a totally self-involved perspective with no appreciation for anyone else's feelings is deplorable, what exactly is wrong with taking one's own emotions into account when addressing an experience or situation? Acknowledging what's going on inside your own soul and mind when something comes up and, indeed, broaching the subject once in a while with your friends seems to be how people become friends to start with.

That's all I'm saying - sometimes, it's OK if it's about you. Not to spoil someone else's joy or intrude on someone else's sorrow, but to express your own. To be part of the same group that laughs and cries and shares in each other's lives. There is so much focus on babies and weddings, but there isn't the same attention to a single woman who buys her own house, for example. Actually, let's face it: that's pretty much it, isn't it. If you're a single woman with no children, about the only milestones you have are birthdays ending in "0" and buying your first house.

What brought this up, as you might have suspected, is that I noticed a colleague who is looking a little, shall we say, "bumpish" in the abdominal area this morning. First thought in my head, I swear, was "is she pregnant?" Second thought was "NOT ANOTHER ONE!!" Assuming I could be deemed to be acting appropriately by even raising the question with someone who knows her better (which I wouldn't because if she's just put on a little winter weight, it would be a terribly rude thing to ask), if the answer is "yes," the follow-up will be "...and we're planning a shower for her. Do you want to come?" I can't take it anymore.

I don't want to be a downer on someone else's parade. Babies and children are such blessings, and I am honestly happy for people who have them. It's just that I wanted babies, too. I wanted a wedding with bridesmaids in ugly dresses (OK, maybe just my sister) and a multi-tiered cake and a honeymoon with all of the trials and adventures that went along with the whole circus.

I wanted a little boy with blonde hair and green eyes who would look like his daddy and who would grow up getting into everything and playing with trucks and trains and who would blow up my kitchen with some experiment or another. (I'm sorry - I really didn't want girls; having raised my brothers when they were younger and already kind of knowing what to do, I would just rather have had boys).

It's a day-to-day thing lately - don't look at the happy mothers with babies, don't look at the soccer moms with pre-teen kids dressed for whatever activity is on the agenda that day, don't look at the prom ads or graduation reminders of children growing to adulthood. Remind yourself daily of the difficulties of raising children, and think about the colleague who had to deal with a toddler with stomach flu and change the sheets at 3:00 a.m. before dragging herself into work the next morning with no sleep. Don't think about how great it would be to have a husband and a family. Not today.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

A bit of history

With all of the babies being born around me (for which I take absolutely no credit*), I thought it might be a valuable tip for those parents to point out an author that I just recently located - again.

Susan Wise Bauer, a former classmate at Liberty University, has written "The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child" (a three-volume set) for use in homeschooling children. While I have not read the books, there is a reasonable treatment of them on As with anything, investigate, draw your own conclusions, and make choices that will suit you, but I intend to locate and at least read "The Well-Trained Mind" (written for adults) in support of an old friend. She has another book coming out in 2007 which I will watch for as well.

It's wonderful to read about old college friends and to learn that they are doing well in their fields. I've toyed with the idea of reaching out to former classmates, and in fact have actually made contact with a couple, albeit with mixed results. However, that's something probably best left for another day (and possibly professional analysis!). Otherwise, I would just be engaged in more grousing and complaining, of which I do enough as it is.

[*The point of this is simply that it's amazing that - as a single, never-married mother of a cocker spaniel - I seem to be around a veritable breeding ground for babies. Since I started working in my current job, there have been 6 births (one of which involved twins), and there are now 2 pregnancies both due at around the same time (again, one of which involves twins). 8 babies in less than 3 years is a lot of baby showers! Plus, my youngest brother and his wife had a baby girl at the end of October 2005, so that's 1 baby about every 4 months. On one hand, it's cool to be so close to the miracle of birth. On the other hand, it's a regular reminder that I don't have children, don't have a husband, and at my current age, am not likely to have either. I actually boycotted a baby shower this last weekend because I just couldn't do it. Yes, I know this makes me a horrid friend.]

Saturday, April 1, 2006

New books

I've gotten back into reading since my double cataract surgery last year. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to read as much because of the implants, even though they have eliminated my previously lifelong need for glasses and contacts for just about everything. I've found that reading glasses, while a bit of an annoyance, have made a huge difference, and I can not only read stuff I need to read for work, I don't have to rely on large-print books for pleasure reading.

I stumbled onto Jennifer Chiaverini's "Elm Creek Quilters" series a few weeks ago, and I'm hooked. I love the stories about each of the individual quilters, and I've fallen in love with the house itself. Escapist? Yes, but no more so than the incessant reruns of "Everybody [Hates] Raymond" I was watching before. I'm so thankful that my condo is less than a mile away from the library! It would be even nicer if they allowed dogs, because then I could take my puppy boy on treks to the library and back (which would be good for both of us).

Borders bookstore in Ann Arbor allows dogs. Really. They took over the former Jacobson's store space and have a two-level store that is phenomenal in its breadth and depth. Music, gift items, catalogs and the now-requisite coffee bar take up some of the space, but they still have the best book selection I've ever seen, and they've been around forever. But they allow people to bring their dogs into the store, which is awesome. The dogs I saw in the store were not running wild or barking and slobbering over anyone or anything they passed; for the most part, they just sat on the floor next to their humans and waited. It was very cool.

If I ever had the money to leave the practice of law, I would open a bookstore just like that (only smaller).

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

"If you're paranoid-delusional, we know where you are and what you want..."

I am going to have to look for the rest of that joke - it's one of my favorites, particularly when I need to press a button for something or someone!!

So much for staying on top of things. I haven’t done any of the things I planned to do, and I’ve gotten into more trouble than I would have liked, but otherwise, it has not been too terrible.
I won my trial last week (yay!), but I did not do any of the house-cleaning I wanted to do because I got stressed out about something at work that did NOT get done - technically not my fault, as it was mostly because of someone else's complete failure to do her job, but I should have followed up on it.

Fortunately, it doesn’t appear that it was a fatal error, but I’m not going to relax until next January’s review. I bet one of the guys I work with $50 that I hear about it at my review. It would not be a bet I’d be sorry to lose, but I don’t think I’m going to lose.

Probably also in part as a consequence of the previous week's events, I did two somewhat foolish things today: I stopped at the Eddie Bauer store at Great Lakes Crossing on my way home from court this morning(no, I did not bill the client for my shopping time!), where I found a totally fabulous comforter cover, dust ruffle and 2 pillow shams for my bed and a nice sweater and tank set to wear to work all for the unbelievably low price of $106.00 (yes, I spent over $100 on stuff I could have done without); and, I … emailed that stupid boy*.

NCIS has a kind of running gag now where Gibbs smacks the offending party in his crew (usually one of the guys – I’ve never seen him smack either of the girls) on the back of the head for doing something stupid. That’s what I should be doing to myself right now, only I’m typing. Maybe one of these days, I will fill in some of the blanks about who that stupid boy is, or what the deal is about sending him an email. If I ever make any sense of it, I will, but don't hold your breath.

Here's the rest of the joke:

Hello, welcome to the Psychiatric Hotline.
If you are compulsive, please press 1 repeatedly.
If you are co-dependent, then please ask someone to press 2.
If you have multiple personalities, please press 3, 4, 5 and 6.
If you are paranoid-delusional, we know who you are and what you want. Just stay on the line so we can trace the call.
If you are a schizophrenic, listen carefully and a little voice will tell you which number to press.
If you are a manic-depressive, it doesn't matter which number you press. No-one will answer.

*"Emailed" in this case means I sent an Abbott and Costello joke - sort of an old family thing. About why that might be a problem? Another day, and lots of margaritas.......

Crazy: The Musical

I haven’t seen “Menopause: The Musical” or whatever it is that’s been playing on off-off-Broadway (or wherever), but as I started thinking about why women “go through the change” the way they do, I imagined it as if our bodies were factories and they plug along, working on getting the eggs ready to go out the door, only nothing happens with the product. Nobody picks it up, so the factory line starts all over again. (For some women, that is. I realize that there are women out there who WISH they had that problem, and others who wish that the factory shut down entirely.)

By the time peri-menopause hits, I think it’s just that the factory workers are figuring, hey, nothing’s happening and we’re getting to the end of our supply, so why not kick back and have a beer or two? If enough time goes by with no product development, they start a conga line, break out the rum and make daiquiris. In full-blown menopause, the workers have shut down production entirely, and they’re all in the bar whooping it up and doing tequila shooters until they’re under the table or passed out on the bar.

OK, it’s maybe a little bit crazy, but it works for me….

Monday, March 13, 2006

Happiness is a warm puppy

Thunderstorms are best experienced from the safety of one's bed, snuggled with a warm puppy. It's more comforting if he snores.

Puppy snores are at once the cutest and strangest sounds I've ever heard. I suppose dogs snore in the same mechanical way that people do, but for some reason, people snores aren't cute. At least grown up people snores aren't.

My dog doesn't have "window-rattling" snores, either. Just soft kind of snuffly ones that make me want to rub his ears.

I decided to stay home this morning - partly because of the rain and partly because I did something to my upper back. I think I just slept on it wrong, but it hurt and with everything else that has been going on lately, I figured "the heck with it" and called in. That lasted about 4 hours before a couple of forgotten deadlines dragged me out of bed and into the shower.

My dog was a little puzzled. At first, the whole concept of mama staying home was wonderful (except that he had to go outside and it was raining). Then, when mama got up and had to go to work, he got a little ... sad.

If I ever won the lottery, I can tell you exactly what I would do with the rest of my life: stay home with my dog and spoil him rotten. Good thing I don't have children, huh? :)

Monday, March 6, 2006

Passing along

I have to confess: I copied this entire section from a 700 Club blurb about a new book by Dr. Laura Schlessinger because I found it immensely practical. With due apologies to Pat Robertson and his staff, here are 10 tips to survive your rotten childhood:

To come to a good life, the struggle is against forces internal – they are yourself. Dr. Laura offers ten qualities that make it possible to liberate yourself from victimhood, and change your life from victim to victor.

1) A look in the mirror means facing the truth and deciding not to be a victim any longer.

2) Enduring the pain means stop waiting for the pain of your past to go away – it never will. Eventually the pain will have so many wonderful interruptions that it will become more readily tolerated and a less powerful force in your life.

3) Acceptance doesn’t mean you embrace your bad experiences or that you like it or agree with it. It is now your turn to decide what you’re going to do with it – or in spite of it.

4) Letting go means not allowing your bad thoughts, memories, and feelings from your bad childhood to squeeze out any joy you could enjoy in a good life.

5) Replacing bad habits like negativity or always being suspicious of the motives of others. You cannot treat the world as though it was an instant replay of your childhood.

6) Reaching out means “filling up” the empty spots in your life with healthy, kind, encouraging, and supportive people. Although risky and sometimes scary, it is important and necessary.

7) Spirituality means opening outward. Living for something or someone outside of yourself is the primary means by which you find purpose and value in your life.

8) Perspective means getting the focus off yourself. Get involved in volunteer work, charitable causes, etc.

9) Hobbies are a good distraction to move your mind away from somber issues into a positive area for growth and change.

10) A positive Attitude always makes your circumstances look better.

I think this would be a good book to read - there have to be practical suggestions on how to do some of those things when you don't have the tools to figure it out for yourself. I'm not saying I had a "bad" childhood - I know there were things my parents just didn't know how to do, and that for the most part, they did the best they could. I also know that at their worst, they are lazy and self-centered people (as I am wont to be), and that there certainly were decisions they could have made differently.

Where I tend to get bogged down is in the area of figuring out how to work past those issues - for example, how does one plan meals around a budget? How does one maintain relationships with people who don't always behave well themselves? How does one recognize "healthy, kind, encouraging, and supportive people?" How does one remove dog urp from a light tan carpet? (OK, I figured that last one out...) How does one stop saying "how does one" without banging one's head against the desk?? :) It's one thing to know what is right; it's a totally different thing to recognize that you don't have a clue how to do it, but that if you don't, you're going to regret it for the rest of your life.

OK, here's the thing: I'm still thinking about that stupid boy..... He's seeing someone - "a great gal", according to his mother. Why she sent me a Christmas card is beyond me...... But she did. I answered (because I was brought up right), but it certainly took the lid off of something I thought I'd packed away pretty well and forgotten about: my crush since I was 13 years old.... (Sigh!)

Rule #1: We will no longer try to cure this illness (for illness it is) with M & M peanut candies. Rule #2: In obeying Rule #1, we will not substitute other forms of "comfort food" for the aforementioned M & M peanut candies. Although they are tasty, they go straight to my behind and stay. Rule #3: Instead of treating the symptoms with food, we will focus on what is going well right now and on keeping it (whatever it might be) going well. Rule #4: We will give thanks for every single person God has brought into our lives because they mean that we have a future.

Maybe I will think of more rules tomorrow. I hope they won't all be phrased in the royal "we....."

Weekend Update

If my weekend were an Oscar movie, which movie would it be? Certainly not "Brokeback Mountain" (and honestly, were they really surprised they didn't win best picture?), but not "Crash", either. No, I'd have to go with "Good Night, and Good Luck."

The first guy was nice - kind of shy, and clearly not comfortable with the whole dating thing. Probably used to a lot of rejection, since he didn't smile easily or well, and he made several excuses for a lot of his past experiences, but he was nice. Unfortunately, he lives a lot further away than either of us could probably deal with, but it was nice to meet him. Told me a little more about his family dynamics and health issues than I was prepared to deal with on a first meeting, but that's OK.

The second guy ... suffered because I was a little burned out from the first guy. I have to say, as ego-boosting as it was to have 2 dates in one weekend with two different guys, I don't know how people do it! It's exhausting getting ready for meeting two totally different guys. This one was more polished, a little more ... expectant, perhaps, is a good word, and he lived a little closer, but still not a long-term prospect. Nice to chat with over coffee, but that was it. Which was OK. It was better than "so, you're not going to ask me back to your place" guy from a couple of weeks ago!! :)

Regardless of the outcome, though, going through the motions was a good idea. You never know when doing things like that will lead you into something you really want unless you get out there and start trying. I find that I am particularly bad at that - I want to keep doing the same things, but I want something totally different to happen when I do. If I remember right, that's a definition of insanity someplace: doing the same thing and expecting a different result.