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

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I noticed something today.

I have an art calendar on my office wall: it's this Reading Woman thing and all of the pictures are very pretty.

The maintenance manager and the production manager both have calendars with pix of women, too, but they aren't quite the same genre, somehow.

How come none of us have calendars with pix of men?

...Well, I had a Star Trek calendar at work once. Maybe twice.

Monday, May 25, 2009

On Memorial Day it's right to remember and be thankful for our fallen soldiers. We can do that, and still hate war, wish it was never necessary, and grieve for what it does to people. I think that if we observe Memorial Day we can't just glorify sacrifice in the abstract - we have to count the cost.


Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

- Wilfred Owen
8 October 1917 - March, 1918

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Been a few days since I posted.

The girls and I went to Coquina Beach last weekend. It's a little south of Bradenton. Different from Clearwater - different sea, different sand, different people. The ocean was several beautiful shades of green. F made a little sand sculpture of a sleeping cat, and suddenly was surrounded by three or four tiny girls "helping" her with it.

I'd like to go to either Clearwater or maybe Cocoa this weekend, but we've entered the rainy season (as in it rains EVERY DAY) so we'll have to see.

... And F is weighing ... a job offer. Yes. She got a call from a headhunter before she even graduated, and had an interview just about as quick as we could get back here. They were really looking for someone with experience, so the fact that she got an offer must mean she blew their socks off. The hours aren't ideal and the pay, while not abysmal, isn't astronomical either. But it's in her field, it's NOT A MOM-AND-POP, and she'd get some specific experience (GMP, HACCP) that would be really good for her resume. Whether she accepts or not is her decision. I'll support her either way. It's still cool that now, with the job market as it is, she got this offer.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Funny thing at work. They've hired a couple of men to come in and paint the buildings. I stopped to chit-chat yesterday and after just a short exchange the older man said, "Where are you from?"

Clearly I am not from here.

"Memphis," I said.

He shook his head.

"Well, originally I'm from Mississippi," I admitted. I moved to Memphis in 1982.

"Uh-huh," he said, nodding and smiling. "I'm from Jackson."

Is that not funny? He parsed my accent and pinned down my origin after just a few sentences. Are we reminded of Henry Higgins?

His name is Homer, which puts me in mind of "O Brother Where Art Thou". Mississippi has a weird relationship with literature and Classic culture. Only God knows why.

Monday, May 11, 2009

OK, we got back last night, and as Mrs. Who says, it is a treat to have our daughter back home.

We rented a Toyota Tundra with unlimited miles (good thing, b/c we ended up putting 1700 miles on that sucker). It handles nicely and was very comfortable, but since we weren't used to it, parking was just a bit stressful. But it was fine, we didn't dent it or anybody else's vehicle or tear up any trees or anything.

We drove up through Florida and into Georgia on Hwy 75, took 82 through Georgia and Alabama to Birmingham, then 78 into Mississippi. Apparently we blew through Jasper several hours before a tornado struck and did some damage. That is a strange feeling.

Nice visit with my parents on Wednesday. Thursday we drove up to Memphis and visited R's folks. Friday we drove to Columbus to see F for the first time after her finals and all. R started looking at her stuff and thinking how to pack it all in that truck. (Roommate came back with us too, but she only has clothes and such - if she and F find jobs and get an apartment together as planned, her parents will bring the rest of her things.)

We went to the Star Trek movie (and I have a funny story to tell here) and then I visited with my parents, who'd come down to Columbus to spend the night so they'd be there for the Magnolia Chain at 8:00. R and F went back to the dorm and spent quite some time studying her things with tape measure and wrinkled brow, figuring out exactly how things were going to fit together in the truck bed.

We spent the night in the motel and then arrived at campus the next morning for the Mag Chain. I'll probably have some pictures and maybe some short video clips to put up. Graduation was next. My parents were there, and my sister and her husband and two boys, and my SIL with her husband and their four kids, and my other SIL. So F had a good turnout of supportive family to see her graduate with honors, which was nice. Then F's roommate and I went for takeout lunch while F and R started putting her stuff in the truck.

It took 2.5 hours and was a work of genius. If you saw what all had to go, or saw it after it came out, you would have said there was no way in hell all that stuff could travel in that truck. But it did, and R lashed a tarp over it and there we were. F and her roommie went on to the motel and got their room and lay down for a bit.

The Memphis folks had to leave right after the ceremony. R and I visited with my folks a little longer and then they had to go too, but my sister's family and the four of us went to the Little Dooey and had dinner, and a fun time laughing and visiting before they had to leave too.

Then back to the motel for an early bedtime, but of course another tremendous storm system came through with lots of rain and scary wind, and battered heck out of that truck with all of F's stuff in it. Her daddy stood at the window and fretted, but there was nothing to be done - he'd put the tarp on with sufficient care or not, and that was it. It turned out that the tarp held and her stuff did not get blown around or wet at all.

We got started later than I wanted on Sunday but that was kind of inevitable. R and I were in the truck, and F and her roommate L in L's car. We decided to go back by a different route because there were still storm chances all through that area. We took 45 down to Mobile, then 10 across that bit of Alabama and then the Florida panhandle until it ran across 75, then 75 south to home. At some point still on 10 the girls got sleepy, so F got in the truck with R and I drove L's car the rest of the way. Got in late last night. The cats were mad but they've gotten over it.

Offloaded the truck this morning and took it back to the rental place. R tried to clean the lovebugs off of it but it re-acquired mashed bugs between home and there anyway. Then we tried to watch the shuttle launch but clouds, alas. Now we've got some things to do and I have to try to put myself in mind for work tomorrow.

Funny Star Trek movie story: F changed into the vintage Star Trek t-shirt her dad had bought as a teenager when the original series was airing. We didn't see anybody in Spock ears or anything for that particular showing - I think the trekkies must have picked out a different one to go to. Anyway, she sat between her dad and me. There were about 20 minutes of tedious and repetitive commercials and previews before the movie (and after the scheduled start time) and after a while R and I started complaining audibly. I asked F if we were embarrassing her.

"I'm at a Star Trek movie with my parents," she said. "I can't be embarrassed."

I laughed about that through the entire movie - which was very good, by the way. We'll probably see it again, and take L this time.

So that was that. Glad to get the kid through school, glad to be home with the girls and all their stuff intact, ready for the next thing.

Monday, May 04, 2009

We're getting ready for a Trip Out Of Town.

We've rented a large pickup truck. We will hit the road very early tomorrow, traveling up through Florida, across Georgia and Alabama, and into Mississippi. (Mister Sippi, as F said when she was little and we were on our way to visit my folks. "Who is Mister Sippi?")

We'll visit my family, and R's family, while F finishes her finals and so forth, and then go to her college town on Friday. The plan is to see the new Star Trek movie, get all her stuff packed up, and spend the night in a hotel there. Saturday is her leavetaking of school - the magnolia chain in the morning (I remember that very well) and then graduation. "Friends" will be sung. I will cry, yes, really. F hates that song and I probably did too at her age.

We'll spend the night again, and Sunday morning begin the trek back home.

I have Monday off from work, of course. I've told people I have a migraine penciled in for that day, and I'm only partly kidding.

The plan is that we are bringing F's roommate back with us, too. The girls will look for work and when they find it, get an apartment together. Things can always change last-minute, but the guest room is ready for L this time.

My coworker and her daughter will be coming over every day to check on the cats, top off their food and water, deal with the litter, and talk to them a bit so they won't be forlorn.

And so it goes.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Here's an article, one of many, about Souter's replacement on the SC.

When Women Rule, It Makes a Difference

Who might take Souter's place? We're already being introduced to Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Pamela Karlan -- all very accomplished individuals who happen to possess the one qualification that many commentators and court-watchers seem to agree is the most important this time around: They are women.

More blah-blah, right? But wait:

[W]e found that female judges are approximately 10 percent more likely to rule in favor of the party bringing the discrimination claim. We also found that the presence of a female judge causes male judges to vote differently. When male and female judges serve together to decide a sex discrimination case, the male judges are nearly 15 percent more likely to rule in favor of the party alleging discrimination than when they sit with male judges only.

This holds true even after we account for judges' ideological leanings.

[emphasis added]

It appears that men are more likely to see discrimination if they are considering it while in the presence of women. So are the men being bullied and pushed around just by having estrogen in the room? I've seen some mighty pitiful commenters lately complaining about how evil women are ruining men's lives just by drawing breath - apparently the fragile male ego wasn't a hoax of the 1970's after all, at least for them.

Or is it that the men are taking a second look, and looking harder, if women are present? I used to have a boss who told me more than once that I was his conscience. I left that job. Develop your own damn conscience. It's not too much to ask.

If the men are being bullied into favoring discrimination suits because women are present, dare I suggest that they man up. But if they're looking harder and taking it more seriously when women are present, then justice seems to demand that women be in the mix when these things are looked at; and this probably doesn't extend only to the SC.

Either way, I don't like what this says about human nature.