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

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

From Right Wing Nation:

Look at the list of books below.
Bold the ones you’ve read.
Italicize the ones you want to read.
Strike out the ones that you aren’t interested in (or have never heard of).
If you are reading this, tag, you’re it!

* The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
* Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
* To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
* Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
* The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
* The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
* The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
* Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
* Outlander (Diana Gabaldon) - haven't read, will look into
* A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry) - ditto
* Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling) - haven't read any Potter books (I know, shocking) but probably will eventually
* Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
* Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling) - see above
* A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving) people keep telling me this is good
* Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden) - don't know, have seen mixed reviews
* Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling) - see above
* Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald) ?
* The Stand (Stephen King)
* Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling) - see above
* Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
* The Hobbit (Tolkien)
* The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
* Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
* The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
* Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
* The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) - might like; enjoyed the movie
* Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte) - bleah
* The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
* East of Eden (John Steinbeck) - does the Reader's Digest Condensed Version count?
* Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
* Dune (Frank Herbert)
* The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
* Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
* 1984 (Orwell)
* The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
* The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
* The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
* I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
* The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
* The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
* The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
* The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
* Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
* The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom) - I have this but haven't read it
* Bible
* Anna Karenina (Tolstoy) (reading it now)
* The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas) - one of F's faves
* Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
* The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck) - I saw a play based on the life of Woody Guthrie once and have done all the OK dust bowl I need to do
* She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
* The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
* A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
* Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
* Great Expectations (Dickens)
* The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
* The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
* Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling) - see above
* The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
* The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
* The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger) - lent to me by my SIL
* Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky) yuck
* The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
* War and Peace (Tolsoy)
* Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
* Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
* One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
* The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
* Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
* Les Miserables (Hugo)
* The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
* Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
* Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
* Shogun (James Clavell)
* The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
* The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
* The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
* A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
* The World According To Garp (John Irving) (wish I hadn't)
* The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
* Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
* Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
* Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
* Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
* Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
* Emma (Jane Austen)
* Watership Down (Richard Adams)
* Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
* The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
* Blindness (Jose Saramago)
* Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
* In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
* Lord of the Flies (Golding) (ugh)
* The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
* The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
* The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum) - I don't like Ludlum and don't know why I read his stuff - Forsyth is much better
* The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton) - F tells me it is very good.
* White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
* A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
* The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
* Ulysses (James Joyce) Not my bag. I just know it.
* The Sound and the Fury (William Faulkner)
* Absolom! Absolom! (William Faulkner)
* Light in August (William Faulkner)
* The Old Man and the Sea (Ernest Hemingway)
* The Sun Also Rises (Ernest Hemingway)
* Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov)
* Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad)
* The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne) - tried but couldn't do it.
* House of the Seven Gables (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
* Moby Dick (Herman Melville) - R has read this but I haven't.
* Animal Farm (George Orwell)

What would I add to the list? How about some Edith Wharton: Custom of the Country maybe. Henry James' Portrait of a Lady. George Eliot's Middlemarch.

And dang, where's the science fiction? Jules Verne? H.G. Wells? Heinlein? Asimov? Bradbury? Dune and Ender's Game to represent the whole genre? I don't think so. At the VERY LEAST I'd add The Martian Chronicles. Can't think how it didn't make the list. And all those different Harry Potters but only one Stephen King????
Things I like about my job.

I have the best group ever. Really. And outside my group there are some very nice people.

Learning a lot of new stuff and having to remember things I haven't used since college and thought I never would. Figuring out how to do the analyses and what the results mean, as opposed to being limited to official methods that might have been stupid but allowed for no deviation. Having to think - that's probably the best thing. Not having to do a lot of tedious checking of other people's stuff b/c they are too lackadaisical to care about getting it right; see sentence 2 above. Being able to implement my ideas about improving processes in the lab. Working on the instruments - at my last workplace we had a person whose job it was to do that and I never felt properly bonded with them.

My job entails more than managing the lab, though. I'm supposed to do quality for the plant too, and that's ... hm.

I wonder if I will ever have a 40- or even 45- hour workweek again. Ever. I have to admit that long hours and weekends get a little old. At least I don't have a child at home. We are having some process issues that must be solved. Maybe things will settle down before long.

Tomorrow I'll be going back to the previous workplace for a potluck lunch for my old boss, Jane, who is leaving for her new job in Wisconsin. (Making chicken salad finger sandwiches for it.) Jane and I both were offered relocation to Kalamazoo, and neither of us took that option. I was fortunate enough to find something here, and fortunate that it turned out to be something I appear to be fairly well suited for. Wisconsin will probably be quite a culture shock for Jane, who like me is a southern girl. I imagine the weather will be a bit of a shock, too.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Today on a whim R and I visited a different church. It's not a Baptist church (not that there would be anything wrong with that) but I heard a term I'd never heard before: "Particular Baptists". These are Baptists with a Calvinist streak, in that they believe in predestination: that is, that Jesus died to save only the elect. (Since a church member would not know whether or not another individual is a member of the elect, they are compelled to invite all to salvation.) In looking all this up, I ran across this list of all the different kinds of Baptists. I knew there were a bunch. I think of Baptists as arising from you're-not-the-boss-of-me Celts (although this may not be accurate) and that's why they tend to not have hierarchies. It's also why they have all these different subgroups. A very Baptist idea is "soul competence", that is, the ability of the believer to read and understand the Bible and not have to have a theologian explain it. So there are not set theological ideas handed down and dimly understood. I think that's a good thing, actually. Years and years ago I worked with an Egyptian Copt. He had some pamphlets written by an abbot in a Coptic monastery, which he lent to me because I was curious. One of them was about Christian unity. The writer said that it was a good thing that there are different kinds of churches, so that each believer can find one where he or she can most effectively worship, learn, and serve. He said that if people try to force unity they end up ignoring the things they have in common, which tend to be the important things, and focusing on the things they differ on, which are usually peripherals; and then if the groups get together, somebody had to compromise, which they may resent. Better for everybody to do his thing, so that at the proper time God can bring about real unity. That makes a lot of sense to me.

But the list of different kinds of Baptists reminds me of this: Our choir director told us that in one of his university music classes, they got partway into the semester and he told them he could list the students who grew up Baptist - and then he proceeded to do so. How did he know? They were the ones who always sang the repeats. And if you ever attended a Baptist church service and sang all 4,356 verses of "Just As I Am", you understand that. From my spot in the chancel on Sunday mornings I can look out and see the congregation. Once I saw a man who I knew to be a visitor, and I noticed that he was able to sing the hymns without referring to his hymnal; and that he seemed to know all the verses. "Oh, he's a Baptist," I thought. I told my mom about that later, and also that I noticed that as he sang he lifted one hand, palm up. "That's Free Will Baptist," she joked. And it might have been.

Friday, February 23, 2007

I'm not dead, really. I am just working a lot, and when I'm home I feel like my brain has been scrubbed out with a wire brush. I can make brief comments on other folks' blogs but the idea of INITIATING a post is just a bit much right now.

Having fun at work, mostly. Just intense.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Briton32 sez:

"I think that there are just as many racist black people as there are white."

People who know me tend to confide in me, oddly enough, and ask me to help them understand stuff. Years ago I worked with a black woman named Tonya. She came in to work one day hopping mad, I knew because I could hear the tone of her voice as she complained to our coworkers, and eventually she came into my office and told me her story.

Tonya had gone to see a new doctor - a cardiologist, maybe - and the minute she walked in the door the receptionist snapped, "We don't take TennCare."

"I don't have TennCare," Tonya said, "I have insurance on my job." (By the way, other black coworkers have told the same story at different times.)

So in my office, Tonya asked, "Why did she say that to me?"

In answer, I told Tonya that while I do not see racists behind every tree, and while I think in general people are better off giving other people the benefit of the doubt, in this case it seemed pretty clear that the receptionist saw a black woman walk into the waiting room and thought "welfare queen". Racism, Tonya. Sorry you had to experience that.

"But the receptionist was black!" Tonya objected.

Okay, I know there is a school of thought that black people cannot be racists. I do not subscribe to it. I think there are no vices and no virtues that white people are capable of, that black people are not also capable of. (The CF and I talked about this concept last weekend, in terms of men and women.) To say otherwise is to reduce black people to the level of children or animals.

I've been struggling to find a definition of racism that works for me. What I've come up with so far can also apply to sexism, ageism, etc.

1 - A group of people is identified. This can be an arbitrary group, like "old folks", or a well-defined group, like "people over 65". So far we are OK.
2 - Attributes are assigned to the group. Now we are not OK, because -
3 - These attributes are now assumed to apply to members of the group without checking to see if they are appropriate or not.

And the attributes do not have to be negative. It is not negative, for instance, to have a sense of rhythm. Tell a black person that you are not surprised he is a good dancer b/c black people have rhythm, and see where that gets you. No one likes to be pigeonholed.

You can also be that way about a group of which you are a member; either because you think you are an exception, or because you label yourself too.

The reason I'm not happy with this definition is this: my FIL had a few dizzy spells a while back, and I recommended that he check with his doctor about his blood pressure medication. Because I've seen some "old folks" actually pass out due to the fact that as they aged, the medication became too much. Sure enough, when he complained to the doctor about his dizzyness, the doctor cut back his BP meds. We know that people start needing a little help with close-up vision starting at around age 40. That's not "ageist" is it? Is it racist to say that black women need to care for their hair differently than white women do?

Having trouble coming up with something that encompasses benign racism like the rhythm thing, but also allows for common sense.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Had coffee this PM with the Class Factotum. She is the first virtual person I have met in real life. We yakked for 4 hours and agreed to do it again. Also sucked into the conversation a random person at whose table we had to sit because everybody and his puppydog decided to go to Starbuck's today. He thought it was cool that two women were having a Serious Conversation.

Also got some advice today regarding my two-day migraine. The CF suggests ditching OTC meds in favor of prescription stuff, which I will definitely discuss with my doctor. Joy at church wonders if I am approaching The Change. Hm. I'm 46, which may be a bit young, but on the other hand I suppose one could "approach" for several years, which is a really horrifying thought. R wonders if I am stressed. Well, that is a given and has been for several years. I expect to be un-stressed when I am dead.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

I didn't get pictures of the snow but The Class Factotum, who appears to live in Midtown, did.

It was pretty but it thawed by mid-day.

I slipped on ice at work and caught myself before I fell, but my neck started hurting right away. I thought I'd wrenched it. Took some ibuprofen and kept moving. It's fine today. Guess I dodged that bullet.

Thursday, February 01, 2007