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

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.

Friday, April 13, 2007

I want to talk about the word "mistake".

I'm very tired of hearing a person's bad behavior referred to as a "mistake".

A mistake is when you go to the store to get some canned peaches and you walk over to the canned fruit, find the peaches, reach out and get a can, buy it and take it home, and then find that you managed to pick up a can of pears instead.

Knowingly and willfully breaking the law is not a mistake. Repeatedly going against your doctor's orders to wear a mask so that you don't give people your multiple-drug-resistant and therefore virtually untreatable TB because you actually don't feel bad and think your doctor is overreacting, and therefore they have to lock you up to keep the populace safe, isn't a mistake. I know the people at that blog are tired of me running my mouth because I disagree with them about virtually everything but I just had to get that out of my system.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Working my BUTT off. I came home yesterday and had to turn around and go back, so didn't get home for the evening till 8:30, then had to go in before 6:00 AM today. I think I'm running on nervous energy. I'm trying to do some other things so that work doesn't subsume my life. This evening R and I went to dinner at Los Compadres and then to the mall to walk a couple of rounds.

Don't believe I mentioned that we hired a replacement for the lab person who got sucked into the plant. She has a degree in biology and one year of lab experience. Due to her mistake-less resume and her interview, I expected her to be sharp and a quick study, and have not been disappointed. She's curious, pays attention when you tell her something so you only have to tell her once, and otherwise looks like a good fit with the rest of the team, which is very important. They have taken on a lot of her training and seem to like her. I love the fact that she is unflappable. And that she had a sinus infection last week but came to work anyway, when she clearly didn't feel like it. I told her midafternoon on Friday that if she felt bad she could go on home; not that I was sending her home, but I didn't want her to think I would think she was a crybaby for leaving early her first week. Oh, no, she was OK; 4:30 was just around the corner. Great attitude.

I had an appt. today with the neurologist who helps me manage my tremor. He came into the room saying, "What's shakin', baby!" and we both cracked up. I want to ramp up or add to my meds for better control, and thought this would be a good opportunity to do something about the migraines, so we're trying a beta blocker that ought to do both. Topamax supposedly treats both, but I've read that it makes you stupid, and as I told the doc, I need every neuron I can scrape up. He denies that Topamax in the dosage he would give me would make me stupid, but it can cause weight loss which I do not need, he said.

I'm actually being kind of a guinea pig for F, whose migraines are horrible, and who has inherited my tremor. A week or two ago she told me that her lab partner sniped at her for not holding her test tube still, so it's probably time to do something. We'll probably visit my neurologist when she comes home for the summer and get something going. And of course there's a whole list of food that might be migraine triggers, so I am to keep track of what I've been eating when one hits, and I'll tell F to as well. "You're going to tell me not to eat chocolate," I told the doctor. No, he said, and he didn't. Maybe it won't turn out to be a trigger for me, but I have to say that even if it does I might just have to deal with it. I'll give up cheese and coffee if I have to but you can have my chocolate when you pry my cold dead fingers off of it.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

OK, in the Mickey Wright case, the DA has drawn us a picture, and I have to say I'm not impressed.

It seems that Mardis had told county employees that they were not to send a black code enforcer to his place of business. The DA's office thought they had a hate crime. Then at the last minute couple of black people showed up and said they and Mardis were friends; so, no hate crime. The case wasn't so juicy now, I guess, so they lost interest and let him plead no contest to 2nd degree murder.

OK, we need to drop this nonsense that because a person has black friends, or white friends, or whatever, then that proves he is not a racist. I've known terrible racists who made an exception for So-and-so. Then again, whether a person is a racist or not isn't anybody else's business unless he acts on it. It's the acting that's the problem.

That's where I think the whole hate-crime thing is counterproductive. This case should have been approached like the earlier case I mentioned, with the black teenagers who killed the white woman: they were murderous thugs. Period. So is Mardis. Lock him up forever. What's so hard about that?

Thaddeus Matthews has more to say about this issue, including some very disturbing information about the judge. I vaguely remember that but didn't realize that he was still on the bench, and that he was the judge in this case. It's at times like this that I suspect I need to be on blood pressure medication.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

This sucks. More here but you may have to register (it's free).

Back in 2001, a Shelby County code enforcer named Mickey Wright disappeared.

As I recall, he had phoned his wife to make a lunch date and then never showed up. She reported him missing sometime that afternoon, and a search was begun right away. Mr. Wright was an insulin-dependent diabetic, and that was an extra concern, of course. Days and weeks went by. Posters were put up. His family begged and pleaded for anyone who knew anything to come forward.

Eventually his burned-out truck was found (IIRC) and it was determined that he had been killed but his killer was not caught. Last year, I think, a new-broom sheriff's deputy reopened that case and kept on it until he found the killer: Dale Mardis, who owned some kind of business that Mr. Wright was in the act of applying county code to. From the article:

Mardis, 53, who was sentenced for second-degree murder, was required to tell prosecutors what he did with Wright’s body.

He said in a statement that Wright’s body was mostly burned and that any portions remaining were put into junked automobiles that were eventually crushed.

So he killed the man, which, because he was enforcing the law, was just as much a blow to law-and-order as killing a policeman is; did that to his body; and let his family suffer a very long time not knowing where he was or what had happened or was happening to him. He looked at those posters every day and never said a word. And he was allowed to plead no contest and sentenced to 15 years.

The family apparently acted out in the courtroom and I don't blame them.

I don't understand. I really don't. I would love to say this is not a race issue but it's really hard to explain otherwise, although in a city that's 2/3 black you'd think this kind of crap wouldn't be happening anymore. Because a few years ago when a white woman was carjacked at a Sonic in Collierville and driven away somewhere and killed, her black teenage killers got life without parole. That sentence was appropriate for them and it would have been even more so in this case. I Do Not Understand. I hope somebody with the DA's office draws us a picture.
In thinking about the whippersnapper I posted about below, I remember another young man I worked with at the job I just left. His name is Jason. Jason is about the same age, but was raised to be a Southern gentleman: courteous and soft-spoken, pleasant and respectful to everyone, while still very smart and hard-working.

Jason graduated from Ole Miss not necessarily knowing what he wanted to do, and applied to dental school. He didn't do a lot of preparation for the standardized test or the interview, and didn't do well on either. After this he decided he really did want to be a dentist, so he bought some practice books and re-took the test, and did very well. He also called to schedule a redo on the interview.

The person Jason talked to about the interview didn't want to schedule a redo because (without checking his notes) he was sure Jason did just fine. Jason tried to insist on redoing the interview but he didn't push hard enough or maybe the person he talked to dug his heels in, and the interview was not scheduled.

When Jason's "sorry you didn't make the cut letter" arrived, he asked and found out that it was because of that lackluster interview. He called the person who wouldn't schedule a redo and complained bitterly, but it was too late b/c the class had been filled. His dad, he said, was furious, but when your kid is grown you can't fix things like that. (Frequently you can't fix them when your kid isn't grown, but you can at least try.) Jason was manly about it but we all felt terrible for him. Another coworker planned a "Jason appreciation day" for which we all brought special snacks for the morning break and were extra-nice to him. He laughed about it but I think it really did make him feel better.

Shortly after it was announced that the company was closing, Jason came to me to give notice. It seemed that his mother had showed his resume around to some people she knew, and some of them took it a little farther, and then he had a job interview in Jackson, MS, I think, for a pharmaceutical company, and he got the job. From what he described it sounded like a fantastic opportunity and one he is well suited to.

When he left I heard yet another coworker remark enviously that Jason got all the luck. Everything just magically worked out for him. Whatever.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I'm seeing some things in the plant that fortunately I and my direct reports are not immediately involved in. All I do is observe, and judiciously offer advice in mostly an indirect, non-judgemental or pushy way. To you, my readers, I will spell a few things out.

When you're a 25-year-old whippersnapper, there are a few things you should not do.

1 - Don't order your boss around. I PROMISE you that will get on his nerves.

Me: [Boss's name], I need to talk to you when you get a minute, please.
Boss: I'll be right there.

Whippersnapper: [Boss's name], come to the control room.
Boss: [grrr.]

Actually, you should treat everyone with courtesy and respect, from the CEO to the person who sweeps the floor and cleans the toilet. Give it out and you get it back.

2 - When the boss has told other people to do things, don't contradict him and get them all confused about what they're supposed to do. If you think your boss is in error, you can call him at home and discuss the issue. He would actually like that. But don't go behind his back and change stuff he thought was happening after he leaves.

3 - Do not EVER give the impression that you think you are too good to do something. If your boss tells you to go out into the plant and take a sample, don't pick up your radio and call one of the operators or, for pete's sake, the shift supervisor who is twice your age, and tell them to do it, and then continue to stand there. The boss actually does what I do, which is to do those menial things himself when appropriate. He takes samples every day and does a whole lot of other stuff too. This can backfire if people take advantage of it, but then you know you have the wrong people in your group. My peeps know there is nothing I ask them to do that I don't or won't do myself. I have talked to the whippersnapper about this one when he complained to me about being a "glorified sampler" and he is unreceptive. He's going to hit the wall on this one.

4 - Most important: if you have a problem with your boss, and it's not a legal issue or some kind of gross unfairness, work it out with him, seek advice from someone you trust, put out your resume, but for heaven's sake, SHUT UP. Don't complain to the other employees. DO NOT GO OVER HIS HEAD AND COMPLAIN TO HIS BOSS. And if you do, DON'T TELL THE SHIFT WORKERS ABOUT IT because they'll commiserate with you to your face and then run straight and tell your boss about it. Which is how I know. And he is not pleased. This is people-knowledge 101. Anybody who went through middle school ought to know it.

The whipper-snapper will be a fine engineer one day but he has a lot of seasoning to get first.

My advice to the boss in the situation? Be the grownup.