To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Monday, December 31, 2007

I have to say that I do not get this blog post at all.

Dave, who is in a wheelchair, has been traveling. He's had to deal with a lot of inconveniences and he's happy to be home where he's been able to arrange things more or less to his comfort. And he wrote an earlier post to that effect. Really, anyone who has traveled has been relieved to get home, right? But one of the disabled people who read his blog didn't care for that post and has called him on the carpet for not realizing how privileged he is; she does not have a shower stall, and so forth, so apparently he should not mention his comforts and should not take pleasure in them. I'm sure I completely misunderstand this because I really do not get it.

I started reading the infertility blogs a few years ago, wondering as I did so why because I easily had the one kid I wanted. (I think it was because I missed her so much when she went off to college and I had to work through that. No one has empty-nest blogs; apparently everyone else is happy to get rid of their children or is much more stiff-upper-lip than I am.) There I learned about something called the "pain olympics". How dare you complain about your five miscarriages, I have had eight, and so forth. (To their credit, the bloggers recognize the poison there and try to avoid it.) And that some people seem to feel that others need to hide their happiness at pregnancy and childbirth because it makes them feel bad; even infertile people who have struggled for years to have a baby, report feeling guilty about telling their infertile friends that their struggles have finally borne fruit and try to push down their happiness so that they don't cause pain to someone else.

One understands that one must be sensitive to others who are in pain, of course, and refrain from hurting them needlessly. But life goes on and we make the best of it, and take our pleasure where we can. Right? Finding small pleasures and enjoying them is one of the things that make life worth living. And when others find a moment's satisfaction in some thing they have or do, we rejoice with them, right? Dave's extra wheelchair in the bathroom is not taking anything away from anybody else. I wish he did not feel the need to explain that it was given to him by someone who couldn't use it anymore.
We saw pelicans yesterday at one of the pretty lakes downtown.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

What we did today

Don't laugh. It's hard to take a picture of your own feet.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The articles that have been appearing about the tiger at the zoo getting out and killing a person are upsetting to me.

Primarily, of course, because of what happened.

But then because there was unwarranted speculation that the victims somehow caused this to happen. If they were strolling around the zoo minding their own business, this truly is insult to injury. Can't we wait a day or two to find out before we slam dead and unconscious people?

Then there's this: "Their names were provided by hospital and law enforcement sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because the family had not yet given permission to release their names." Said names reported in the article, of course. First, the people who spoke on condition of anonymity need to be identified and then fired, at the very least. Second, every venue that reported those names needs to do some soul-searching. You knew you were not supposed to have this information. Why did you report it? What news value did this have? Are you just automatically forced to blurt out every speck of information you get?

On a completely trivial note, the initial articles said that after a zookeeper was mauled by this tiger before, a feeding "shoot" was installed. Later articles had the word corrected to "chute". Perhaps when the reporters and editors have finished searching their consciences over the necessity of printing information they are not supposed to have and that informs no one of anything they need to know, they can review the concept of homonyms.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Shoes of doom

Also, we had to grab the camera when we opened the garage door this morning and saw this across the street:

Click to enlarge. There were 19 of them, hard to get in one picture.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

I hope everyone has had a nice Christmas.

We went to church yesterday and just stayed in today. The weather is really nice but R and I both seem to have colds. Had blueberry pancakes for breakfast and homemade chicken soup for lunch, and opened presents. Last week F spotted some shoes at a department store that she had a fit about. Tried on the display model and assured me that they felt great. I told her to put them back, she didn't have anything to go with them. After we got home, of course, I doubled back and bought those shoes, together with a skirt and a couple of blouses she can wear them with. She is THRILLED, sang "I got shoes" at random moments, and couldn't stop looking at them. They are kind of a teal/dark gray/offwhite plaid, if you can imagine, and looked quite fetching with her pink pajama pants. When she gets her toenails freshly polished I'll get a picture.

The cats, as always, had a blast getting into empty boxes and playing with ribbon and crumpled wrapping paper. Even the grumpy old tomcat had to mess with F, arthritically clambering into one of her boxes as soon as she had the lid off and before she'd even seen what was in it.

Back to work tomorrow.

Monday, December 24, 2007

What Child is this, who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Fourth Sunday of Advent

There's a star in the East on Christmas morn,
Rise up, shepherd, and follow
It'll lead to the place where the Savior's born,
Rise up, shepherd, and follow

Leave your sheep and leave your lambs
Rise up, shepherd, and follow
Leave your ewes and leave your rams
Rise up, shepherd, and follow
Follow, follow
Rise up, shepherd, and follow
Follow the star of Bethlehem
Rise up, shepherd, and follow

If you take good heed of the angel's words
Rise up, shepherd, and follow
You'll forget your flocks, you'll forget your herds
Rise up, shepherd, and follow

Leave your sheep and leave your lambs
Rise up, shepherd, and follow
Leave your ewes and leave your rams
Rise up, shepherd, and follow
Follow, follow
Rise up, shepherd, and follow
Follow the star of Bethlehem
Rise up, shepherd, and follow

- Spiritual. You'll hear it sung "Rise up shepherd and foller" on occasion.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Why I need to stop reading the comment threads on newspapers:

A Woman With Down Syndrome Defies Expectations

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Third Sunday of Advent

I wonder as I wander
Out under the sky
How Jesus the Savior
Did come for to die
For poor on'ry people
Like you and like I
I wonder as I wander
Out under the sky

When Mary birthed Jesus,
'Twas in a cow's stall
With wise men and farmers
And shepherds and all
But high from God's heaven,
A star's light did fall
And the promise of ages
It then did recall

If Jesus had wanted
For any wee thing
A star in the sky
Or a bird on the wing
Or all of God's angels
In heav'n for to sing
He surely could have it,
'Cause He was the King

- Traditional Appalachian carol

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Company Christmas party tonight. It will just be a dinner at a restaurant. We had to hurry up and do something PDQ because our boss will be out of state for a couple of months, starting next week, to do cancer treatment. Yes, this was just a bit sudden.

The home office has decided not to sell us in the near future, instead running the part of the plant that has me and a handful of other people employed. So for right now we look like staying in sunny Florida, which we are very happy about. Short-sleeve weather, while a lot of the country is suffering from ice storms. Been there, done that, don't need to do it again.

I have to say that I enjoy being in the lab by myself. The operators come over every now and then to bring samples and so forth, but other than that it's just me. If I make a mess I'm not inconveniencing anyone else. I don't have to fret about who used the beakers I just washed. I don't have to put up with somebody else's dadgum radio. Eventually I'll get lonely, I suppose. For now it's kind of nice.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Ken at has a gospel-song quiz going. Me and some other people got some of them but there are some left over. I have six to offer my readers. Don't be shy. They're really too easy.

1 - In sorrow he's my comfort, in trouble he's my stay - what else is he?

2 - I'm going to cast down my burden, and put on my long white robe: where, and what will I not do anymore?

3 - He will hear my faintest cry and answer bye and bye, when I have what?

4 - I know he watches me - why?

5 - When he walks and talks with me, where am I?

6 - After a few more weary steps, what will I do?

Bonus - what song has the line "Everybody talkin' 'bout heaven ain't going there"?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Second Sunday of Advent

Gabriel, fram heven-king, sent to the maide sweete
Broute hir blisful tiding and fair he gan hir greete:
"Hail be thu, ful of grace aright!
For Godes son, this heven-light,
For mannes love
wil man bicome
and take
Fles of thee, maide bright,
Manken free for to make
Of sen and devles might."

Monday, December 03, 2007

F is preparing for finals. Her comp teacher has said the final will be an essay to be written in class ... but he said F is not to write a book review, or anything "intellectual", b/c this is supposed to be easy.

For F, a book review is easy. She reads a lot and she thinks about what she reads.

And God forbid that anybody do anything "intellectual" in college.


I am flying to Tupelo on Thursday, to see family and take care of some stuff Friday and Saturday, and then flying back to Florida with F on Sunday for her winter break. We look forward to having her with us again. I miss having a young'un around, although the cats do the best they can to fill that gap.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

First Sunday in Advent

Come, thou long-expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.

Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art:
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child, and yet a king,
born to reign in us for ever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.

By thine own eternal Spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all-sufficient merit
raise us to thy glorious throne.

Words: Charles Wesley (1707-1788), 1744

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Looking around on Careerbuilder et al to look for jobs and also just to see what industries there are in this area.

How come "entry level" jobs require experience? Hm? Unclear on the concept. Except I bet the concept is "we have high expectations and pay squat".

Sunday, November 25, 2007

From my mother (quoted with her permission):

Be not the first by whom the new are tried, Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.

The other day I was trying to figure out how to find the origin of this quote but was not sure enough of the wording to google it. This morning I was purging my favorites list and ran across this link: Alexander Pope Quotes. There it was!

For some reason, my brain is suddenly picking up moments from my life, mostly pleasant, such as the moment Mammaw and I were working in the garden, discussing fads, etc., the pros and cons of fads, and that some people seemed to be the first in the community to have the newest fad in shoes, clothes, etc. Mama quoted the above to me. I think she was trying to get across that if one lets someone else try out something first, it will be more tried and true than to just jump in and get "taken." But, she said, don't be a die-hard and be the last to do something. I guess there was really something deep in that that I am not fully describing, but I have never forgotten all these years.

Now, the question is: When did this farm woman find time to learn quotes from literature, whether poetry or not? I think her (and her peers) only intellectual outlet was reading. What are we missing today, those who are not reading? Then, what are we reading?

My Mama was a wise woman. She left me with some good stuff, and I think I fall far short in measuring up to her!

My mother's mother grew up in a tiny farming community in Mississippi. She had a sad childhood - her mother died in childbirth when she was only six, and the kids were farmed out to relatives - but eventually her father remarried and he and her kind stepmother brought the kids back home. When she wanted to go to school past 8th grade she had to leave her community and board somewhere - ? because the school there didn't go any further. Ma, you need to write all this down. I thought I knew it.

Then she got married, settled down on a farm with no indoor plumbing or electricity (those came much later) and had 8 kids, including a pair of twins. One died of diphtheria as a toddler but the others grew up, some left the farm life and others really didn't. Making a living on a farm, especially before all the modern farm equipment, was gruelling labor and everyone had to work hard just to put food on the table. Leisure time was very scarce. They were poor as far as material possessions went but poor obviously doesn't mean uncultured or stupid. My mother remembers reading - was it The Fall of the House of Usher? one rainy day when she was a kid and having to put it down and go find her mother b/c it was so creepy.

I remember my gentle grandmother and I regret that she did not live to see F, having died shortly before F came along. She would have loved her and been proud of her.

Friday, November 23, 2007

When F was a little kindergartner I was driving her to school one day, she was looking out the window, and she asked:

"What are those strings for?"

"What strings, honey?"

"The strings between those, those - those bird-standers."

She was talking about the power lines. Wondering what they were doing, stuck to the poles that kind people put up so that tired birds could rest on their way from point A to point B.

Naturally, 15 years later we are still spotting bird-standers. Florida has quite a few.

I'm told these are ibises, and they are everywhere. You see them marching through the neighborhood in groups of 15 or more, searching for bugs I guess.

And then there are your garden-variety ducks.

Here's a closer look:

Water cold? Scared of alligators? Just like bunching up? Don't know.

We spotted this bird-stander when we went to Clearwater last weekend. Yes, the sunset really was that gorgeous, and more.

And finally, some birds just stand on the ground. Do not ask me what this is. I do not know.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Feel like I ought to refer to another post from the blogger I just mentioned, since I read his entire blog and only had a negative thing to say. This rings true to me. I hate that whole can't-inconvenience-a-total-stranger thing. Sometimes other people need to just freaking wait a minute. Now it's true that people who hold up the line b/c of their inattention irritate me, but that's totally different.

And I say this although I've found myself at the grocery store on what seemed to be International Old Folks Go to the Grocery Store Day (actually stepped outside once and saw the Wesley Senior Services van, so yes, it was.) I go to my Zen place as they snap and snarl at each other - "It's rice! It's just rice! They're all alike! If you want it put it in the basket and go on!" and "She wants you to pay now! Get your checkbook!" "What?" and have endless, endless patience. But once I MANAGED to get my shopping done and my stuff paid for, and was actually headed out the door, when somebody shoved her cart right across in front of me - God knows why - while she paid for her stuff. There I stood until a store employee saw me and shoved it back. It was all I could do not to say, "THAT'S ALL RIGHT, TAKE YOUR TIME. I'M GOING TO BE OLD SOME DAY AND I'LL BE TEDIOUS AS HELL - IT'LL BE MY TURN." But I didn't say it. Because it's probably true.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My mother laid this one on me about what the preacher said this AM:

He was telling a tale to illustrate something and this had to do with a young female teacher who was putting her skills as a reading teacher to the test. There was this young student who was being slow to learn. The teacher was wanting to get across how to relate what we know to sounding out words. They were studying about Thanksgiving and ran across the word "thank." The kid was not putting it together. Gently, the teacher was "hinting" by suggesting "thank." "Thank." "Thank." The frustrated kid came back with "I AM thanking!"

Reminds me of the state trooper who pulled over the Tennessee boy and said, "Got any ID?" The boy said, "'Bout what?"

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

Interesting blog post here.

The blog author works with and for disabled people. He and his partner were making fun of the way people in the mall were dressed, until he started making fun of one person and his partner told him to stop, because that person was disabled. Then the blog author wondered if he was right to stop, because the disabled person deserved to be made fun of too. I am probably not telling this right.

Because it seems to me that it's wrong to make fun of other people's appearance, period. I assume that everyone is doing the best he or she can. God knows that if the blog author ran across me when I had to go somewhere right after work he would have some things to say. As I've said before, you don't dress like a beauty queen to work in a laboratory, and sometimes it's just too hot to wear that lab coat. And my hair is floppy by the end of the day, no matter what I do, and it seems that the makeup slides right off my face. So go for it.

But it reminded me of something kind of funny. I irritate R and others when I answer their questions before they finish asking them. Some people repeat themselves and others keep adding qualifiers, and I KNOW what I'm going to answer, and I sometimes don't want to take the time for them to wind down before I do. Sometimes I answer the question three or four times before the questioner hears me b/c I think they're done, and while I am answering they are tacking more words onto the question and not actually changing the answer at all. I will say that under many circumstances I am an extremely patient person. Usually I am less patient with smart people b/c I think they ought to be able to express themselves clearly and succinctly.

Anyway, I used to work with a man who had a profound stutter. I know that you do not jump in and finish sentences for people who have stutters. (Of course, it's always rude to do that anyway, she said guiltily.) So this guy would call me at my desk to ask a question. I'd answer the phone, he would start the complicated process of greeting me and telling me who he was, and I would wait for him to manage to get his name out before I'd say, "Oh, hi, Bob," like I didn't know who he was. All of our conversations continued to go that way. I tend to think while it's right to be patient with a person who has a speech problem, I should actually be patient with everyone. But now it appears that my stuttering coworker deserved for me to be rude to him like I (sadly) am to others. Is that right?
The continuing soggy ...

Last week I flew to Wisconsin. Yes, I did. I had a job interview.

The interview went very well indeed ... but I was shocked at how I was homesick for Central Florida while I was there. I've only been here since July 21 and I've bonded to the area like a piece of sticky tape. Palm trees and weird birds. And highs in the mid-80's, in November. Lakes with ducks and swans. We just really like it here.

The job has a lot of promise. Actually, it looked pretty cool. I got an offer today and I turned it down. We are going to try to stick it out here. Dang, I hope the sale goes through.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Monnie has a post about Bill Cosby's new book. The statistics about black people and violence bother her, as they do every right-thinking person.

When I was still in Memphis, my last job was in a very bad part of town. (Actually, the one before that had razor wire around the parking lot, and the one before that ... well, anyway.) The lab was down in the plant, with the parking lot a short distance away. If I left work at or after sundown and any of the operators saw me come out of the building, he would drop what he was doing to walk me to my car. All of the plant operators were black. Once another operator was just coming into the plant when we got to the parking lot, and he said, "How come you don't ever walk me to my truck?" "Cause ain't nothing gonna get you!" my escort replied, laughing. But that reminded me that statistically, those guys were at greater risk than I was. I started telling them when I thanked them that I appreciated their care and concern, and that they actually needed to employ the buddy system among themselves after hours. They didn't take me seriously, though. I think those statistics aren't generally known and understood.

One of the things that bothered the crap out of me, when I was in Memphis, was the amount of focus and effort and attention on things like sports arenas and fancy boat docks, and how much money the city needed to spend on those things (money we didn't have; besides there were always, always cost overruns and the inevitable discovery of somebody's hand in the cookie jar later on.) I wanted so badly to run across Mayor Herenton out on the sidewalk somewhere and to grab some random black kid - preferably a teenage boy with the khaki pants dragged down so that the crotch was between his knees and he had to duck-walk, you know how that is - and say "Look at this, Mayor Herenton - THIS is Memphis! This is the future of Memphis! Not the FedEx Forum, not Beale Street Landing - but this kid right here! How are we investing in this kid?" And to turn to the kid and ask him in what way the City of Memphis expresses to him that it cares whether he lives or dies. The park program is underfunded - public swimming pools not kept up - summer jobs programs cut - no community centers - nothing that is not privately funded or run by the churches. But by golly, we will have plenty of public funding for entertaining rich folks.

So the kids are neglected and have nothing to do, they see all the attention given to things that are and will forever be out of their reach, then we wonder why they feel disaffected and why they drop out of school and why the crime rate is so high. And it beats heck out of me why the politicians with those entertain-the-rich-folks attitudes and the hand in the cookie jar have so much popular support.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I don't generally like dogs but I'd have to make an exception for this one.

My cats are pretty ferocious around the lizards.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Maybe there's two people who haven't seen this yet ...
it's so funny I can't resist putting it here.

Love how the bird screams along with the vocals.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Since I last posted, I have had a birthday. I am now 47 years old. Well, age is just a number. Right? Right?

I'm back full-time again. What a roller-coaster. I have a job interview coming up in the frozen North ... don't want to go but I have to have a Plan B in case this thing doesn't work out.

R is here now and looking for work. We are sharing a vehicle because his lay down and died in Memphis (actually en route between Memphis and F's school, and wasn't that convenient) which relieved him of the necessity of making that goshawful drive again. He'll get another car or truck when he finds a job.

Things I like about central Florida:

- The weather. It's much, much nicer than I'd been led to expect.
- The proximity to the coasts. When F was here for fall break we drove to Cocoa Beach (reminds us dinosaurs of "I Dream of Jeannie") and I started out to wade in the water ... ended up pretty well immersed, fully clothed (shorts/t-shirt) to R's amusement and F's disapproval. Lots of fun.
- Publix grocery stores. Clean, bright, lots of nice stuff, good prices, workers with good attitudes.
- Did I mention I saw the space shuttle go up?
- Lots of stuff to do. I'm really looking forward to Sea World.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Things are looking up, maybe, or maybe I'm just kind of a delusional idiot.

The sale of the business is still being held up. In the meantime, the owners, who had decided to shut us right down, found that they still needed some money coming in, so they are running a portion of the plant with a skeleton crew. On that crew is me. (And some other folks.) My pay is less, but so are my hours. I'm spending virtually all my work time in the lab, which is where all the fun is anyway. And supposedly this keeps the health insurance in place, and so forth. The hypothetical buyers relayed a request for me to be working on the quality program during my truncated workweek. I find that very encouraging.

R and I decided to go through with selling the house in Memphis. It closed yesterday. We got a little money out of it, not a whole bunch, but I'm thrilled to get that done because ...

... yesterday the Memphis newspaper, the Commercial Appeal, reported that the Memphis metro area now leads the nation in violent crime. I can just imagine everybody's property values plummeting in the wake of that report. I called my former boss in Memphis this afternoon and told him I was not coming back. It feels a little strange to do that with my job in question here and R between jobs himself, but I actually have a sense of freedom now. If this thing in Florida doesn't work out there is an entire continent for me to look for a job in. I will always wish Memphis the best and look for every hopeful sign, but it's going to take some time for that city to turn around and it will have to do it without me and my family.

What else. Ummm ... Bonnie (cat) found a chameleon in the yard the other day. I've never seen one change colors before and wasn't totally sure that they really do. But I saw it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Way, waaay overdue for an update.

I have internet access at home now, finally.


The home office in Boston has decided to shut down the plant where I work. Yes, really. Really. Why? I've heard several explanations, none of which make a lick of sense. We found out about all this last Tuesday.

They had an offer to buy. The hypothetical new owners came down and let us all re-apply for our jobs. My interview was Thursday. I am the only person who has been told that I definitely have a job with them ... IF the sale goes through. There have been some last-minute problems and the sale looks like not going through. Hopefully I'll know something by the end of the week.

In the meantime, my former employers in Memphis want me back. They have been so sweet about it. I don't want to go back there, but I need a paycheck, y'all.

Also, in preparation for my re-interview I had called a person I worked with before I went to this last job in Memphis ... the place I left b/c I didn't want to relocate to Kalamazoo. Got an email from her this evening to call someone I know very well at that business. May be something doing in K after all, or possibly Iowa.

We did get an offer on our house, were supposed to close last Friday; R and I talked about that in view of this sudden news and we decided to go through with it. But the sellers had some problem and so we're supposed to close next Friday.

I cannot stand the suspense.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

OK, I'm not dead.

I don't have internet at home yet, for various reasons, and I don't want to do frivolous things at work even at off-hours. So I'm at the library.

We drove to our new home on July 20 and 21. Packed a U-Haul with stuff, and if we had it to do over we'd have given ourselves a lot more time to do that. We wanted to pack the stuff ourselves b/c having been at that house for 17 years, we had a lot of stuff, and I didn't want to bring old crap to Florida. Wanted to choose everything that went. That part was OK, but physically packing the truck took forever.

The drive was mostly OK. The cats started out in their carriers but F let them out to roam the car after a bit and they were fine except for wanting to get under my feet, which I could not allow. We had a small-dog carrier for the tomcat and a medium-size for the girls to share, so that they had room to move around. Riding in a car is a bit different from being shipped, so it wasn't necessary to keep them very still, only confined. At one point Molly was ready for a nap and she crawled into her and Bonnie's carrier and sacked out. Bonnie chose that moment to try to get under my feet (again) and I fished her out and threw her over into the back seat. F shoved her in the carrier with Molly. She didn't want to go but wasn't given a choice. Himself was in the passenger side foot area (can't think what to call that) and felt that he wanted a change of scenery so he clambered arthritically over into the back seat, bypassed his carrier, and crawled in with the girls. F tucked Molly's dangling leg in and closed the door and we had peace for a while.

They were very good in the motel. Freaked, but no barfing, meowing, or peeing on the carpet.

I'm skipping over a lot of stuff.

We got to our rental house in the evening, put the cats' things out, went over some stuff with the landlord, and were starving and snapping at each other and couldn't agree on what to eat for supper. I made an executive decision, pulled into a grocery store, and went to the deli and bought roast beef sandwiches, chips, and drinks. We sat on the fireplace ledge and ate and became human.

Returned the U-Haul on the morning of the 22nd, and took R to the airport to fly back to Memphis.

He said it was traumatic, coming home to that empty house. There was a bit of furniture left, b/c he had to stay there, after all, and F before she went back to school, but it looked like it had been ransacked.

F stayed with me until last Saturday, when she flew back to Memphis by herself (new experience for her) and was moved down to school by her dad on Tuesday. She went back early b/c she'd signed up for Welcome Week and had to get trained.

So it's just me and the cats, until R gets the house sold and can join me.

What other adventures can I report?

My boss and I went to Boston on the 25th and 26th, to meet the folks at the home office. The office is right on the harbor, at the USS Constitution. My boss and I walked out in the morning to look at the boats and all, saw about a million jellyfish (very cool) and were there to see the cannon they fire every morning at 8:00 and their flag ceremony, Star Spangled Banner and all.

And I saw the space shuttle go up the other night - when was that? It's all running together. I stayed at work a bit late and pulled up to see the countdown, waited until about 30 seconds to launch, and walked out into the parking lot and looked to the northeast. Because the sun was behind me, it glinted very nicely on the shuttle and I saw it move slowly up into the clouds. I'm saving that memory for "why am I here" moments.

Because I am having them, and I anticipated that I would. I gave this move a lot of thought, and R and I discussed it at length, but that doesn't keep me from questioning myself at odd moments. I miss him a lot. If the house doesn't sell PDQ we may button it up and let the realtor handle showing it and all, and he can come on and join me. There's a lot of exploring that I want to do on the weekends when I have time, and I don't want to do it alone.

The job is - well, I'll save that for another time. Everyone is being very nice.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Quick update.

F and I went to FL Thursday and came home Friday. Total jackass in line at the Dollar rental car counter - they should have told him to take a hike. Those people can never be placated and it's pointless to try. Drove around a lot, got lost repeatedly (which is useful for ultimately finding your way around and knowing where stuff is) but had maps. Looked at 6 houses for rent, picked one. Nice-looking neighborhood, house OK; orange tree, bird-of-paradise tree, palm tree in yard. Applications put in. Met new boss for lunch at Mexican restaurant, had a nice time. Speeding ticket on the way back to the airport.

Now we are packing and planning to make the trek on Friday. Busy as hell. I'll update more when things get settled.

Monday, July 09, 2007

I used to sew.

This is a chiffon bolero I made for F when she was in elementary school. There was a princess-line dress that went with. Maybe when things settle down I'll have time to sew again.
Okay, so Thursday my group had a little cake and ice cream for me, and a $25 gift certificate, which I thought was really nice. I told them I'd buy a nice blouse with it and think of them when I wore it. (And for those who wonder how you can buy a "nice" blouse with $25, in the context of what you would wear to work in a laboratory, you wouldn't spend more than that, and most of the time a lot less.) Some of the plant people partook of the cake and ice cream, of course, and my boss, and the owners. I will say that I've been very disappointed in the way the owners have acted about me leaving. People always have the right to better their circumstances if they can. It's up to the employer who realizes he has a valuable employee, to see to it that she will want to stay. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

But they did tell me that I can still change my mind, and even come back if I don't like Florida.

So I'm unemployed for the next couple of weeks. Weird feeling. I have a LOT to do during this time. Finish getting the house sorted out, find a place to live in Florida - F and I are going there later this week to do that - and work out the logistics of me moving now and R following after he gets F off to college and the house sold.

We took a walk in our pretty historic-district neighborhood after dinner the other day. We've lived here 17 years and have a lot of memories of those walks after dinner, F on her tricycle and then her skates, and so forth. But on one of the gaslight-inspired lamposts we found, for the first time, gang graffiti. If I'd had any lingering doubt about the rightness of moving away, it's gone.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I have a little catching up to do.

Yesterday was R's and my 25th wedding anniversary. Yes, 25th. We have coexisted in close proximity for a quarter of a century without killing one another, and in fact actually still liking each other, which is something.

To celebrate, we and F had dinner at Paulette's. This is a Memphis landmark I will miss, even though I can't afford to go very often. The popovers alone are to die for.

My parents sent flowers.

They're lovely and they smell very nice, hence their being put on the mantel because the cats wanted to eat them.

And F gave us some very nice Godiva chocolate, which she ordered several weeks ago to be delivered for the occasion.

Today we were going to visit family in Mississippi but F elected to get a virus instead (kidding, I'm sorry she was sick) and I actually needed to be doing some stuff here in the house instead anyway. Got through a lot of cleaning, sorting, and readying to be packed. I continue to discover that cabinets and closets I'm going through were actually gone through not too long ago so doing this stuff is not as hair-raising as I had feared.

Friday they are having a final farewell lunch at my previous workplace (although the division I was in won't be leaving till the end of August) and I've been invited. But that's also my last day where I am, my coworkers may want to take me to lunch or something, and it would be churlish of me to go to the previous place for lunch if that's the case.

F and I will probably go to Florida next week to look at some places to live. We found some nice-looking rental property on the net and will line up appointments.

So that's it. I hope everybody had a nice 4th.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I have an informal list of things I won't miss about Memphis. Wendi Thomas is muscling her way onto it with her dang column today, which I won't even link to, in which she bemoans the SC decision to end the assignment of kids to school by race. Even though she admits that in Memphis, where white kids make up 9% of the student population and many schools have fewer than 3 white students or no white students at all, it can't make any difference. Even though she admits that when Bush was elected she predicted that she'd be picking cotton on a plantation by the time he's out of office and now realizes that won't happen - does she realize how extremely offensive that is to those of us who voted for Bush? Does she realize what she's calling us?

From the article: "But there's got to be some mixing for the black student not to buy into the stereotypes he'll hear about white kids, and vice versa. Especially vice versa."

Why "especially", Wendi? Why?

I am SO READY to be out of here.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Trying to wrap things up at work and home. I had to ask the CEO to quit calling me a traitor. "Are you going to be mean to me for the next two weeks?" I asked. No, was the answer. But he's kind of mad. I'm having to talk to him to get things properly buttoned up, and he doesn't want to look at me. It's the mindset of the owner of a mom-and-pop, which I swore I'd never work for again, that employees are to be viewed and to view themselves as faithful family retainers. Forget that crap.

My boss and I had lunch out today. There was a woman in the restaurant with a stethoscope around her neck (either pretentious, or she forgot she had it) and her white coat with name tag, etc. OK, I kind of draw the line there. If she's a doctor, then the stethoscope indicates she's been with patients, most likely sick folks. Perhaps they have coughed on her. She had to wear the coat into a restaurant where people were eating? Isn't the purpose of the coat to keep germs and bodily fluids off the doctor's person so they can be left behind at the workplace?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Okay, I won't keep you all in suspense any longer.

I was out of town on a trip with the two owners earlier this week. Got a call from the Chattanooga folks, with an offer. The money wasn't quite as much as the Florida job, which I wanted more anyway, so that made it easy.

What wasn't easy was that at this conference there were people with the company I am going to. I was introduced to them as "the best lab manager anybody has, anywhere, ever" or something like that. Felt like a worm.

After getting home, I talked with R and F, we thought about it, and determined that our minds are made up. That is, R's and my minds are made up, and F has committed to the program. So I emailed the Chattanooga folks thanking them for their generous offer and telling them that I am going elsewhere, and called the Florida people to say that I am coming. They are thrilled. Unthrilled is my boss, who knew this was in the works. I gave him a signed letter today. And I called the CEO and told him. He's not thrilled either. R's boss is so unthrilled that he's trying very hard to find me another job here in town - isn't that sweet?

So that's that. I have 2 weeks to work, and 2 weeks unemployed to try to prepare for leaving this place. R will stay to sell the house, but I need to do a lot of stuff. We've been here 17 years, after all. My future boss says he doesn't think that will give me enough time, so we'll be flexible about my start date, if need be.

In other news, F had an MRI yesterday in support of her attempt to conquer her migraines. She had a sedative, which the neurologist had prescribed to get her through it, but I still ended up holding her hands throughout. She's been taking Imitrex and other meds in an attempt to see what will knock these things out. So far no dice, except for one that did knock her headache out for a while but it knocked her out too. F woke up this morning with a really outstanding aura and tried yet another med. She says she could feel the headache trying to happen but didn't have to take a second dose for 12 hours. This could be the one. I'm also eyeing her diet - she wanted a Sonic corndog for lunch yesterday after her MRI, and R got her a salad for dinner with ham on it, so processed meat could be a trigger. We'll try to avoid that for a while.

She is on Nadolol, which is definitely helping me.

And so it goes.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

I need to do some laundry, but ...

Friday, June 15, 2007

So I had told the Florida person that I would let him know *something* by the end of the week, after I had gone to Chattanooga. I called today to tell him that I neither *had* to have the Chattanooga job, nor hated it, that I'm leaning toward the Florida job, but I want just a bit more time. He was very nice and said that they will all be disappointed if I don't come to Florida because apparently no one else will do.
: )
The folks in Chattanooga knew about the Florida thing and so they will not drag their feet, I told him. I'll give him a definite "yes" or "no" by the end of the next week.

Immediately afterward, the Chattanooga person called to say they were all definitely interested and thought I would be a great fit, and that he will be talking to his corporate people and calling me back with an offer early next week.

So I will have a decision to make. It's a good feeling. I told R that if I'm what you want, then you want me. "You" just probably aren't going to be in Memphis. And I have to say that I'm tired of having a lush for a state senator, a paranoid megalomaniac for a mayor, and city councilpeople who can't figure out how to pay their own utility bills but have the spending of my tax dollars. Maybe wherever I go I should just make it a point to not read any newspapers for a while.

My gut kind of says "Florida", not sure why. If they offer me bookoos of money in C then that will make a difference. You can fly nonstop one-way from Orlando to Memphis for $100. How about that.

Edited to add: In putting together references, I got hold of my former boss, Jane, who left the company we worked for rather than go to Kalamazoo, and moved to Madison, WI to work for a competitor. She asked several times if I didn't want to move to Madison. Uh, no. But thanks for asking.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

"Lend an ear and listen to my version
Of a really solid Tennessee excursion!"

We left for Chattanooga yesterday morning shortly after 7:00. Like an idiot, I planned to spend the night the day OF my interview. Uneventful trip, but I didn't get there till around 2:00 so didn't get to finish. So I went back and finished up this morning.

We wanted to do a little sightseeing. Lots of stuff to see and do in Chattanooga. But F was stricken with a migraine, among other things, so we scaled way back. (She has an appt with my neurologist tomorrow to do something about those.) We ended up just going to the military park on Lookout Mountain. There are lots of nice views and a fairly easy trail in the woods. We also stopped at the place where they do the Incline (didn't ride it) and were shocked at the smog. Man, it stank. It must be like that all the time b/c there's a sign to say that by city ordinance you cannot idle your car. Strange to think of ever-present smog high up on that pretty mountain.

And pretty it is. One thing Chattanooga has going for it is absolutely stunning vistas. We drove on I-24, which has some heavy duty traffic (R says they don't play and he's right) and even as we were dodging big trucks and trying not to get creamed while we found our way, we couldn't help noticing the breathtaking view, right into the city.

The job would be quite different. The job in Florida isn't too much different from what I do now. This one involves instrumentation I've never used and a lot of inorganic chemistry, not my strong point. I am not averse to learning new things, of course. I asked a million questions and I think they liked me. They are aware of the other offer and so know not to stretch this thing out too far.

So which job do I want (assuming I am offered this one)? Hard question. Yogi Berra said "if you come to a fork in the road, take it." That doesn't help me. I'm trying to kind of draw a decision tree with the pro's and con's of moving to each city, and of each job. R favors Florida (OK either way, tho) and F favors Chattanooga. Ultimately, whatever we do will work out. Of course, the Chattanooga folks may make it easy for me and not offer the job!

Monday, June 11, 2007

I have to pause in my preparations for our trip to Chattanooga tomorrow, where I will be interviewing for a job, to say ...

... the people in Florida have offered me a position! An increase in pay, and moving expenses of course.

They interviewed some other people, all of whom were technically qualified - some overqualified - but they didn't think those people would be a good fit.

So I'll talk to the people in Chattanooga, and then I'll have a decision to make.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Interesting article about tuberculosis:

Return of the White Plague

For those of you who consider tuberculosis a thing of the distant past, let me tell you a story. As a young man in 1913, Eugene O'Neill, the future playwright and winner of the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes, was confined for five months to a TB sanatorium. His family considered the initial diagnosis practically a death sentence. They had a point: Tuberculosis was then the leading cause of death for Americans ages 20 to 45. But by living under an enforced regimen of rest, fresh air and exercise, and by eating a diet rich in fat and protein, O'Neill recovered. A young woman he met and fell in love with in the sanatorium was not nearly so fortunate. Emaciated, pale and weak, she entered her last bloody round of violent coughing 18 months later. Writing about her death, O'Neill described tuberculosis as a cruel game of drawing straws, with more short straws than long ones.

I read a book, and then lent it out and didn't get it back, about the tuberculosis pandemic of the 19th century. Besides killing real-life people - the article lists a few - the disease figures in literature of the day. Anna Karenina and Portrait of a Lady come to mind. It appears that just about everyone had some degree of infection at that time. If you were lucky, your immune system stayed on top of it. The sanatoria were for people who got run down and the disease got the upper hand - they were made to rest and eat so they could knock their infections back down. It was something to be managed, like diabetes is today. Really bad cases might be treated with surgery, but remember that they didn't have the imaging we have now - no x-ray, no MRI, no CT. They could only listen with a stethoscope and try to figure out where the infection probably was. It's amazing that the human race survived.

People tend to get blase about diseases because they are treatable. Jim Henson, the Muppet guy, died of pneumonia because he wouldn't go to the doctor until he was too sick to be saved. It's rare for an otherwise healthy person to die of pneumonia these days - used to be fairly frequent before antibiotics came along. But if you don't go to the doctor when you're sick, it might as well be 1850 instead of 2007.

And don't get me started on people who think that vaccinations are worse than the diseases they prevent - yes, there are people who say that. Shocking ignorance of even recent history. My brother-in-law's girlfriend asked me once if I thought AIDS was a government experiment gone bad. I told her no, I thought we were spoiled. I turned to my MIL and invited her to tell this woman about the polio epidemic that swept through when my FIL was off in the military and she was home with two little boys and no way to go anywhere except on the city bus - and you were supposed to avoid crowds. Every time one of them sneezed she was terrified. The pediatrician would stop by her apartment on his way in to the office to check them out and tell her they did not have polio. My mother's little brother died of diphtheria as a toddler. We get immunized now and don't have to think about these things, but fear of disease used to be a way of life. It's not outside the realm of possibility that it will be again.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Just flew in from Orlando - and boy are my arms tired!

(Sorry about that. Sorry. Couldn't resist.)

I worked until lunchtime on Wednesday and then came home and packed real quick, and R took me to the airport.

Apparently something about my purse looked funny to the x-ray person b/c he called somebody over. But he pushed the tub toward me a bit and said with mock sternness, "Here are your shoes, young lady!" so I didn't feel like I was treated like a criminal. The person who came over pawed through my purse and didn't find anything scary so on I went.

Turbulence as we approached Orlando through a thunderstorm. As long as there's nothing to run into and you don't get dashed to the ground, that's really OK. (I think.) No point in fretting, anyway. Then I acquired my rental car and drove out of Orlando in a blinding cloudburst. Unfamiliar highway with about 17 lanes (exaggerating here), a rental car, and almost zero visibility. I kept thinking - where's my headache? I really think the nadolol is doing a terrific job.

I found my hotel w/o incident. All the hotels were full or close to, and I ended up in a handicap-accessible room. Apparently people in wheelchairs do not have anything they have to put down in the bathroom ... toothbrushes ... combs .... makeup. There was NOWHERE TO PUT MY STUFF except on the edge of the sink, which was narrow and not flat, and everything kept falling onto the floor. I thought that if I were in a wheelchair I would be very frustrated with this.

Spent the day from 8:00 AM to 2:30 PM grilling and being grilled. I'm pretty sure they are going to make me an offer.

Then back to Orlando to find the rental car return; funny how this was not nearly as convenient as renting the thing in the first place; and back into the airport. Security level orange, or something. I hadn't had a chance to change out of my interview suit and got barked at for not putting my jacket on the bin. Just didn't think to do it. The person who barked was apologetic immediately after and kept explaining himself. Maybe I had a look on my face. I saw TSA people everywhere, looking grim. As we boarded they pulled aside several people with carry-ons that had already gone through the security check and pawed through them again.

Then my seatmate asked a couple of questions about where I'd been and why. When I told him I'd interviewed for a job as a quality manager, he responded that he had done quality for the last 30 years. We had a very satisfying chat for the 1.5 hours back to Memphis. I have his card and am to e-mail him. Never talk to strangers, ha ha. I break that rule all the time. It used to appall F.

More turbulence as we descended into Memphis. Some of the folks in the plane were kind of verbal about it. You know, I'm too claustrophobic ever to go in a submarine and caves make me nervous, but flying just does not bother me.

So in the AM I have a dr. appt. and then I will be going in to work. I am tired as a dog.

And my boss knows where I went. He'll be wondering how it was, and I will tell him that he'll probably get a call asking about me.

Friday, June 01, 2007

I have a j. i. in Florida next week. The thought of Florida was strange at first but the idea has grown on us. The area where my job would be has an extremely low crime rate, which is a huge consideration. And we love the idea of being able to day-trip to the beach.

Naturally, I have to think about clothes once again. I have a nice navy suit but it's a skirted suit, and I don't think I want to wear a skirt and heels all day long schlepping around the plant and so forth. Business casual it will be, but I don't want to dress like a Target employee, not that there's anything wrong with working for Target; it's an honorable paying job.

R and I went to the mall today and I found absolutely zilch. It's hard to express exactly what I want. Don't want black or white. Nothing fussy. Nothing old-looking. Serious but not grim. Not overly tailored. It will have to pack well, because I'm flying in the night before. I suppose I'll hit Talbot's and such tomorrow. Also have an appt for a haircut in the morning and I'll have to think about what I want.

All of this, of course, is totally beside the point of the actual interview, in which I will view the company and think what my job would be like there and whether I would like it. And if I do, how to express to them that they must hire me.

: )

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Kerry's Regrets About John Edwards

Edwards had told Kerry he was going to share a story with him that he'd never told anyone else—that after his son Wade had been killed, he climbed onto the slab at the funeral home, laid there and hugged his body, and promised that he'd do all he could to make life better for people, to live up to Wade's ideals of service. Kerry was stunned, not moved, because, as he told me later, Edwards had recounted the same exact story to him, almost in the exact same words, a year or two before—and with the same preface, that he'd never shared the memory with anyone else. Kerry said he found it chilling....

A facile liar. Nice.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Job search, again. I've talked to people in various places ... Florida ... Kansas ... elsewhere in Tennessee.

Why can't I stay where I am? Well, when you want to take X material and turn it into Y, and sell it, you pretty much have to have a supply of X material. If you expect to sell vast quantities of Y, so that you must run your process nonstop at a high rate, then you need a steady stream of X coming in. That is not happening. I don't see any prospect of it happening. Apparently it isn't just us, either, it's others in the industry. And I needs my paycheck.

Leaving Memphis is definitely a consideration. I like my house but I can't pick it up and plunk it elsewhere. Yes, we could move out to Cordova or somewhere, but crime is increasing there too; and my job would still be in a notoriously high-crime area.

So there it is.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on."

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me:
As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

- Julia Ward Howe, Feb. 1862

Saturday, May 26, 2007

I have not dropped off the face of the Earth.

Been working hard of course, that's a given. Had a very nice visit with the Class Factotum again. It's funny to feel like you've known somebody forever when you've only met F2F twice - I guess that's what reading blogs gets you.

Then a little virus, not too bad but enough to keep me home a day or two, resting, which I clearly needed. And now we are embarking upon home improvement projects, again, because we need to and because we may be pulling up stakes before too long. Because I don't have much confidence in my job continuing, or in finding anything else in Memphis, and I'm not sure we want to stay here anyway. I feel funny leaving F at home during the day, with the doors locked and all, and that's just wrong. Can't live that way.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

There was an attack in Memphis this past week. A woman was bringing her 12-yr-old son home from school when she was met in the driveway by a couple of men who went into her house with her and raped her. One man called someone on his cell phone and bragged about the rape as it was occurring. That cell phone call is what helped find the perps.

There's a lot of outrage, rallies and meetings and so forth, because the rape occurred in one of the wealthiest, if not the wealthiest, part of the city. The populist(?) in me wonders if that makes it worse than the rapes that happen every day elsewhere, including to little girls in their homes and neighborhoods. But just because X group of people is apparently willing to put up with something doesn't mean Y should be, right? (And let me add that the SCLC has had signs up for quite some time trying to get people to think about not attacking each other - I drive past one every day going to work.)

There's an article in the paper today with this stupid quote from our governor, who I thought I liked:

"Ultimately we have got to get these kids out of high school, we've got to get them into college and we've got to get them good jobs," the governor said. "That in the long run is going to do as much about crime as build more jail cells."

1 - Every single person doesn't need to go to college. College isn't the new high school. Or is it?

2 - More to the point, not going to college doesn't make a person a violent thug. I went to college and I don't remember that being a turning point in my life preventing me from being a person of violence. Not having a good job also doesn't make a person a violent thug. Everybody doesn't need to go to college, but every able-bodied adult ought to be able to support himself or herself. But what in the world does that have to do with breaking into a woman's home and raping her? What?

3 - He's talking about "ultimately" and "in the long run". Ultimately, Memphis is going to consist of whoever is left after people who can have fled the city with its violent crime. What can we do in the short run, Mr. Governor?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

It seems that Lemoyne-Owen, the historically-black college here in Memphis, will get 3 million dollars from the city over the next 3 years.

I'm cool with that, really.

What I'm not cool with is this from Councilman Rickey Peete:

"I hope that my colleagues will look beyond race and petty politics and vote for this resolution," he said.

If his colleagues were truly "looking beyond race" then a HBCU would be no different from any other school. That's not what he meant. He meant, stop being the racist and the petty politician you are every single day, for a few seconds, so you can vote for this resolution. I swear, some of the verbiage that I read about the white council people having to take would give me a stroke. Like Edmund Ford saying "sometimes you just have to bring out the sheet." I would have gotten up and walked out. Don't know how they do it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Saturday in the park ...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

This is Bonnie ... don't believe I've put up a picture of her.

(We have a new camera.)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

F thought of a couple more poems: The Highwayman and Lochinvar. And I bet Paul Revere's Ride is on that list.

A poem that I bet is not on that list is WWI poet Wilfred Owen's Dulce et Decorum Est. It would make an interesting contrast to "Charge of the Light Brigade" though.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Thursday, May 03, 2007

We retrieved F from school today. Because of having to drag all her stuff home from the dorm, we took both my car and R's pickup, so I have driven for 6 hours and I'm tired.

I think that's my mantra lately: I'm-tired. The new medication the neurologist has me on has a possible side effect of fatigue. I don't think my fatigue is a side effect of the medication, though, I think it's a side effect of being tired. (I like the new stuff. The tremor is definitely knocked back down. Not sure about helping the migraines, although a few times I've found myself thinking "I'm tired and mad, where's my headache?" so perhaps it is.)

It's raining, which complicates the business of getting her things in. We thought we'd wait it out, but it looks like it will never stop.

So I'm going to write a few thoughts about poetry. I read recently about a book for boys that apparently lists 5 poems every boy should know. I don't know what those 5 poems are, but I tried to come up with some myself, although I'm not big on sexism. I thought of Kipling's If, of course, and Tennyson's Charge of the Light Brigade. The latter, by the way, would be a good jumping-off point for a conversation about when to follow the rules and when to break them. There is an absolutely terrific book, The Reason Why, which tells the background story of that famous charge, and also explains how the Crimean War marked a turning point in British military history.

F thought Casey at the Bat, and of course she's right. It's a fun poem and it makes a good point about hubris. And another, serious poem about hubris is The Convergence of the Twain, Thomas Hardy's poem about the Titanic. To F's surprise, I had never run across this poem before. It's really quite something. I wonder if Hardy got hate mail about it.

And then we thought about Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky too.

There was another poem I thought about, and I'll put it in here after I tell this story.

When F was a senior in high school, I worked with the mother of one of her classmates. This coworker told me one day that her daughter had called her, crying, because a boy had died the day before. When I got home I found F on her bed with a look on her face.

"Are you OK?"


"Did you know that boy?"

And F started crying. Yes, she knew that boy. His name was Okechi Womeodu and he was in her math class and her study hall. Okechi was in the very tough and challenging magnet school program that F was in, and in addition he missed a good bit of school to play tennis. One day Okechi had been playing tennis in the morning, and in the afternoon he had a soccer game. He didn't feel well, so the coach had him on the bench. During the game, Okechi suddenly tumbled over. His mother, a physician, ran to him; the paramedics were called, CPR was started, but he couldn't be saved. Apparently he had a heart defect; if he hadn't been an athlete, or if it had been caught and corrected, it might not have been a problem. As it was, it was a very tragic one-of-those-things.

The kids didn't know till after Okechi died that he was a nationally ranked tennis player. What they did know was that he had a smile that would light up a room. It made you feel good, F said, just to be around him. F said he was kind of a klass klown, except that he never carried it too far. If his teachers told him to be quiet, they were laughing too. In the days after his death, F told me that the kids and the teachers all were crying. The math teacher rearranged the seats, because even though Okechi's desk was empty when he was playing tennis, it was too painful to look at it and know he was never coming back. The study hall teacher, who had previously spoken to the kids only to tell them to be quiet and get their books out, talked to them at length about Okechi, and then talked to them about themselves, asked questions about their plans, and so forth; and he kept this up the rest of the semester.

At some point later on F and I were talking about the poetry of A.E. Housman, and she remarked that for her, "To an Athlete Dying Young" would be forever linked to Okechi. She said that again today. That's the thing about poetry: like all art, it's a repository for ideas and feelings to be expressed and shared and understood. It connects us to each other and to the universality of the human experience.

To An Athlete Dying Young

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay,
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl's.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Because I am an analytical person, things that defy analysis irritate me.

We laugh at home about feng shui, and talk about it seriously too, even though neither of us really knows what it is. And we'd probably scoff if anyone tried to explain it. For example: Last year we needed to replace the hood over the stove. Also, I'd been concerned about the safety of our 24-year-old microwave. (Yes, really. They don't make them like they used to.) So we ended up buying a combination hood and microwave that goes over the stove, freeing up space and so on. The new microwave is white, the old hood was that weird yellow color they used to use (goldenrod?) and the old microwave was black and chrome. Somehow the end of the kitchen is dark to me now and it's off-putting to walk up to the counter. We'll do something about it ... as soon as we can figure out what to do.

In the course of the housework/nesting things I've been doing this morning, I've gone through and identified a bunch of clothes that need to go to Goodwill or somewhere. This is also irritating because I find things that I bought because I liked them, but somehow they never get worn. When I've put them on, I've taken them off again for some reason. I still approve of them in theory, which is why it's irritating to let them go.

Sometimes my offbeat purchases work, though. I bought a skirt a couple of years ago at the MIFA shop. It's a very nice skirt and probably ended up there because it got separated from its jacket. Kind of a spring green, longish, with a slit/kick pleat over the left shin. I tried pairing it with a couple of blouses - yuck. Couldn't wear it. Then I bought a blouse for a totally different skirt, wore them together once and saw right away that that wouldn't do. So then I put the blouse with the spring green skirt - voila! Very cute outfit. I've worn it many times and gotten compliments every single time. I'll have to take a picture of it and post it. So I'm not totally unable to shop.

But the can't-analyze-it thing also extends to clothes that I have, that I look at and am not thrilled with, but that I wear over and over. Because they fit just so, or they feel just so, or they are just right in a certain temperature. I ran across a top like this, while I was going through things, that I had been looking for because I wanted it last winter. This is the antithesis of "why are you keeping things that you don't ever wear." This is "why do you wear this so much when you don't necessarily really even like it." Ha ha.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Home this morning. I probably won't go in till close to noon, because of having to stay late. At least there may not be any more 14-hour days for a while. Can't do that.

Now I would like to address the issue of our buying food material from a country that doesn't allow FDA inspections. Apparently some chickens have eaten melamine-tainted food. Did anybody think this would stop with dogs and cats? I didn't.

And stuff like this raises the hair on my neck.

The agencies also said there was a “low-risk” to humans and no food recalls were expected at this time. They are uncertain how many chickens were involved, how many entered the food supply or where they went.

“We haven’t completed counting yet,” said USDA spokesman Keith Williams.

They don't know yet how many chickens ate the stuff, or where those chickens ended up, so there is NO WAY they can state that there is a "low risk" to humans. No way. Maybe there is low risk, maybe there isn't, but they can't possibly know that until they complete their investigation, so they have no business making such a statement. And define "low risk" while you're at it. This smells strongly of "placate the stupid public".

Once again: FDA inspects food producers in this country and are quite stringent in applying regulations. Why are we importing materials that enter the food chain from countries that do not allow FDA inspections?

Friday, April 27, 2007

This is me. (Via Cuteoverload.)

My mom says I have to make some changes, and she's right. Long workdays plus weekends, it's too much. No prospect that my hours will change, really. They tell me things will settle down this summer but I don't know why they would. I don't see plans being made even two days ahead, let alone two months. It kills me to do it, but I'm looking around. I like my job but I have to have a life.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Record breakers, according to NOAA:


HIGH MAXIMUM 80(TIE) 3/14 80 IN 1967
HIGH MAXIMUM 86 3/29 84 IN 1963


LOW MAXIMUM 45 4/07 47 IN 1939
LOW MINIMUM 30 4/07 31 IN 1990
LOW MINIMUM 28 4/08 33 IN 1990

So, global warming or new ice age: which is it to be? Can't decide ....

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Oops, I did it again.

In other news, I had a ridiculously long workday yesterday due to poor decision-making on other people's part. I can't keep doing this.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I saw F this weekend. Spent the night on the floor in her dorm room. (She offered her bed, but she has the top bunk and I didn't want to risk having to climb over her roommate if I had to go to the bathroom in the night.) We had a good visit. She's really looking forward to the semester being over and coming home the first week of May.

We talked about the Virginia Tech thing, of course. F said there was a lot of discussion about it on campus. I had sent this article (via Lady-Light) and she had passed it around to her friends, and they to theirs.

And I reminded F of a study that was done some time ago, don't remember where. Some people volunteered for this thing. They were walked down a hallway past a maintenance worker on a ladder, into a classroom, and put in front of a computer to take a test. The computer test wasn't the study, though. While they were taking the test, they heard a sound as of someone falling from a ladder, and then a single cry for help. The subject of the study was to see how they reacted to this.

The people who were alone in the room when they heard the sound looked up - the camera caught a blank look on their faces as they internally processed the sounds they had heard and the probable cause - and then they abandoned their computer tests and went out into the hall to check on the maintenance man. But the people who were put into the room with others, who were in on the real subject of the study and had been instructed to go on with the test as if nothing had happened, looked at those other people and saw that they did not react, so they went on with their tests too.

I could see how all that would happen, and I made up my mind right then that I would not be a sheep.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

In Seoul, more than 1,000 people sang hymns and prayed for Cho’s victims at a special service at Myeongdong Cathedral, some fighting back tears. White flowers, candles and a U.S. flag adorned a small table in the center of the chapel.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Your Life Path Number is 22

Your purpose in life is to use your power for good

Of all the life paths, yours has the most innate power.
Your power lies in your vision, and you must recruit others to help you in this vision.
You are able to be a great idealist, but you still have the practicality to get things done.

In love, you tend to be a big romantic - but you also tend to keep your distance.

You have a lot of potential, and it's sometimes hard to live up to.
Sometimes you just feel like slipping into obscurity and doing nothing.
You tend to be prone to dramatic emotions, until you step back and look at things honestly.
My watch.

Trying not to think too much about the VA Tech thing. I've looked at some pictures of some of the kids and profs and I've been sittin here crying.

So I'll post a little more about that other blog and what has irritated me about it. CF, I saw your comment on the quarantine post. Some things are just no-brainers, you'd think, and then you run across people who appear to have no brains.

So I saw an argument put forth by a person who is getting her master's in bioethics. The conversation was about abortion. After careful thought and consideration, I have determined that I am pro-life. I realize that some people will not agree with me, and that's cool. They don't have to. I don't have to agree with them, either. But some arguments are just dumb. Here's one: "We have de-linked sex and procreation."

Okay, it's true that with adequate birth control scrupulously applied, it's (mostly) possible to have sex without getting pregnant. It's also possible with IVF to get pregnant without having sex, although as many women know it's not always easy or ultimately possible for them. But the vast, overwhelming majority of people on this planet were conceived and gestated the old-fashioned way. The exceptions are a vanishingly small fraction of the population. And this will be true for the foreseeable future. If we had to depend on IVF and cloning to continue the species, we might as well just lie down and let the bears take over.

So you'd think that a person would realize the absurdity of that statement before it left her fingertips. I try not to talk down to people. It's rude and disrespectful, and it doesn't get me anywhere. But I would like to tell this person she needs to ramp up her BS detector so that when she hears claptrap like this in her bioethics classes she can recognize it for what it is.

Another person told me that the sex-love link is stronger than the sex-procreation link. Uh, try again.

The actual fact is that some of us (I don't want to say "we" because I hate those broad-brush mea culpas) have elevated the sex-gratification link over everything. And some of us think that we should be able to do whatever we want with no consequences - to us, at least; if there are consequences to other people - unborn people, for instance, or people who innocently go to the store and don't expect to be coughed on by an XDR-TB patient - well, that's their problem. It's usually children and immature teenagers that one would expect to think that they need to be able to do whatever they want, and that unwanted consequences are just not fair. Yet you see grown people saying that opposition to abortion is sexist because men don't get pregnant. Eventually most of us internalize the fact that we have to live in the world as it is.

Last week I read about a new strain of gonorrhea that is multiple-drug-resistant and that the doctors are having trouble figuring out how to treat. So the sex-STD link is strong and getting stronger.

Monday, April 16, 2007

I am horrified, like everyone else, about what's happened at VA Tech. That they haven't confirmed that there was only one gunman doesn't fill me with confidence.

They didn't lock down the campus after the first shooting because they thought the gunman had left. They assumed this without knowing who he was or where he was and without having him in custody. That decision will come back to haunt the administrators. I'm sure they would give anything to be able to go back and handle this differently, but really, it's hard to believe that they ... well.

I told R that if I was in a building where the gunman was going door-to-door killing people I would rush him, throw a chair, anything. I would assume that I was as good as dead and I would rather die fighting than lined up against the wall. I would also rather die than live the rest of my life wondering why I didn't at least try. He said he didn't know what he would do but he knew that I would do what I just said ... because, he said, I would be that p'-d off.

Edit 4/17: I realize that at least one person, and probably more, did just that; an engineering professor (and holocaust survivor) blocked the doorway with his body so that his students would have time to jump out the window. He died but all of them were saved. I'm sure more things like that happened.