Tonight was a good night. I got together with Dorothy, Hai-Nhu, and Sandy for a girl's night in at Dorothy's new house. Now I'm the only one in the group who's not a homeowner :(. The four of us used to work together at IBM until I got laid off. Now I get to catch up on all the IBM gossip without having to slave all day to get it!
Kevin left some good links in my comments and I thought I would call them out to you.
If you want to hear what full-out beagle baying sounds like (and what Scout sounded like when she treed the cat), click here.
If you're bothered (as I am) by people who don't know how to use punctuation correctly, check out Bob the Angry Flower's "Quick Guide to the Apostrophe, You Idiots."
My friend Sherri sent me this Dilbert. Boy, does she know me or what???
Wonder what the cat does while you're away? Wonder no longer.
I was lying in bed this afternoon taking a nap when I hear Scout and Kevin go outside to the backyard. Suddenly there was this cacophony of noise. Scout was howling in a high pitched voice. She was baying! She rarely does that! I thought she was in pain or being attacked (and couldn't believe that Kevin wasn't doing anything about it) so I ran outside in my t-shirt and underwear (fortunately we have a privacy fence). By the time I got there, it was all over. Scout was looking intently up a tree with her paws stretched as high as they could go. Apparently she'd treed a cat and was calling for the rest of the pack (and the hunter--Dad, shoot it! Shoot it!). She's usually very placid, if not intimidated, around cats, and there are several who live in our neighborhood and climb into our yard. This is the first time I can ever remember her going after a cat with full voice. You go, brave little dog!
Speaking of neighborhood cats, one of them took revenge on the neighbors we don't like. Our daycare neighbors, of course. The other neighbors are as nice as can be. For the first 9 months or so that we lived here, the neighbors had an immoveable minivan parked in the street space in front of their house. This, of course, prevented them from parking in front of their own house with their giant Suburban, so they constantly parked it in front of our house forcing Kevin to park elsewhere on the street after work. Nice, hunh?
Well, some very convenient vandals took care of that problem. They smashed in the side windows of the minivan on the side facing the house. Suddenly there's room enough to park it in the driveway! Amazing! So now it's there windowless, and the giant Suburban is parked in front of their house, as it should be.
Even better, Kevin caught the organge cat (a regular fixture in our yard) about to hop into the van's windows. Apparently it's been sleeping in there. Awwww, how cuuuute! Looks like the neighbor realized it too because all of a sudden there are trash bags taped over the windows. Oh well. I get great personal satisfaction for the amount of time the cat did spend in there.
The neighbors are so strange too. Now that the van has moved to their driveway they are compulsive about washing it. Mind you they hadn't touched it in 9 months, to move or to wash it at all. But now they wash the thing weekly. And yes, they just let the water and soap dribble in through the open windows. How bizarre.
Today was a good day, spent mostly laying around and napping. This evening we headed out for our Big Shopping Trip. Okay, not really. We went to Target. The Target we went to is one of the ones that is housed in what used to be a department store. Two levels with a escalator, and my favorite, the cart escalator. I'm like a little kid when it comes to cart escalators.
After that we headed out to dinner to one of my favorite restaurants. Okay, it's Applebees. I know, I know, all those great independent restaurants and I choose to eat at Applebees??? It's their buffalo wings. I love buffalo wings beyond belief. They're my favorite food, next to a melt-in-your-mouth filet mignon. Anyway, Applebees makes great buffalo wings--nice and tangy and not too spicy. Chili's has good wings too (the ones with bones. I don't like the boneless ones). A guy I dated once said that Dennys had the best wings, but I don't know about that. The only thing I've ever ordered at Dennys is the Grand Slam. Anyway, Applebees and Chili's are my fav. buffalo wings places.
We got to Applebees just in time to catch the tail end of the Cal-USC game. Cal, Kevin's alma mater, beat #3 USC in triple overtime. It was very cool to see. Go Bears! Kevin also has bragging rights in my family--last weekend Cal beat Illinois, my dad's alma mater.
And speaking of sports, San Jose might get a WNBA team! I forgot about the WNBA in my discussion of professional sports below. I think the WNBA is the greatest. Good basketball, and good players you can admire. The summer I lived in Orange County (right before starting my job at IBM) my friend Sherri and I attended many Sparks games. At the time, my favorite player, Ukari Figgs, was on the Sparks (she has since moved on to Houston--booo, hiss!). Figgs helped lead Purdue to a national championship before moving on to professional play. The best thing about women's basketball, as opposed to men, is the team play. While there are stand-out players, there's no one person who steals the spotlight as you find in men's basketball. The women play as a team, passing and assisting constantly. The whole game is a team effort, which I think is a great role model for young girls. Plus it makes for a better game to watch. It's not just the pass-to-Kobe-Bryant, watch-him-score type of game. If you have a WNBA team in your area, I highly recommend a game.
Unfortunately, there's no Friday Five this week. SO, instead I'm doing a Saturday 8. I know, I'm a day early. What's worse, I'm using the questions from two weeks ago. Deal.
1. did you participate in competitive sports as a child?
I did, yes. I think sports are good for kids. Except for the out of control parents who shout at the coaches, the umpires, and their own kids if they're not winning.
2. if so, which one(s)? if not, why not?
I played soccer, baseball (T-ball), and softball. And I sucked at every single one of them. I also danced (jazz and tap) for a number of years and consider that a sport
3. did your high school have a 'good' football team?
We had one good player but as a team we sucked.
4. did you go to high school football games? why or why not?
I did, because they were fun, but mostly because I was in the band and so I was performing at all of the home games.
5. which was the best in your high school: the football team, the cheerleaders or the band?
Honestly they were all really lame.
6. in high school, were you a cheerleader, a football player or a band member? why or why not?
I was in the band as a flag twirler (what we called Tall Flags but what many schools call Colorguard). Our band was pretty bad, but our flag team was really bad.
7. did you participate in college sports? why or why not?
Ah, no. I have become even less coordinated as an adult than I was as a child. Plus I went to a Big Ten school (at least at first) where sports were a huge thing and most of the athletes were there on scholarship.
8. it's football season again. do you prefer college or NFL football?
College by far. I pretty much despise professional athletics as I find the players to be overhyped, overpaid, and very poor role models on the whole. College athletics I like, because only a few of them are going to become professional athletes and most of them play because they truly love the game. When I was at Purdue I was a big football and basketball fan. I still like college basketball a lot, but since I no longer watch television I don't really see any sports at all. Kevin and I are planning on going to the Cal/Stanford game this year, if we can.
Like the title says, today was Day 2 of German. *sigh* Frau Melas speaks rather quickly (well, at a normal speed, but too fast for me to keep up with it) and uses next-to-no English. I know this is the best way to learn, but I'm a little dismayed at only being able to understand about 25% of what she's saying. The woman who was in my class last year had her introduction today and yes, her German is worse than mine, so at least I'm not the lowest in the class :). She's really a very nice woman. I was able to say, "Und sie hat drei kinder, auch" (and she also has 3 children) so I was glad to be able to say something fluently.
But by far the best news of the day is that I finally got my hair cut!! It has been hanging in my eyes, which drives me NUTS, for over two weeks. My friend Jennifer (Faux salon in Campbell, 408-378-FAUX for you local readers) did a fantastic job as usual. Plus I got to catch up on the latest news about Sadie who turns one on Monday (where did the year go??). Sadie is walking now, and saying "Uh oh!" Very cute.
A true tragedy for readers of my generation, Encyclopedia Brown was found murdered in Idaville. If you've ever read an Encyclopedia Brown book (or loved them as I did) don't miss this satirical article in The Onion, the nation's premiere fake newspaper.
Dave Tepper at Interrobang?! had an interesting post today about transplants. Rather than leave an extended comment on his site, I thought I would blog about it on mine.
Dave pointed to this article which is about an HIV-positive man who has been denied a kidney transplant by his HMO, Kaiser.
As many of you know, transplant is a subject that is near and dear to my heart (uh, literally). Due to my recently diagnosed heart condition, I actually spent a lot of time very close to transplant and on the transplant list last year. Fortunately, thanks to modern medicine, my heart has made improvements enough to stave off transplant at least for the immediate future. So I believe I come to the transplant issue with a rather unique and personal perspective.
At first glance, this article seems blatantly unfair. Denied transplant just because of his HIV status? Those damn HMOs! Those cheap bastards! I think we need to move beyond these knee-jerk reactions to the core issues.
Update: This post got very long so I put it in the extended entry. Click on the link below to continue reading "Transplants." Thanks
First, one of the main things I learned about transplant is that transplant selection is not fair. There simply aren't enough organs to go around. In an ideal world, everyone would donate their viable organs and transplants would be a non-issue, but in the world we live in, too many people choose to throw their organs in the trash can instead of saving another life. Because there is this shortage of organs, decisions must be made as to who is eligible for the organ and who is not.
For example, in heart transplants, smokers are not eligible for transplant unless they have been nicotine-free (and agree to random urine tests) for at least 6 months prior to transplant. Is this discrimination against smokers? Sure. But smoking is one of the causes of heart disease. If a person is not committed to stopping smoking how can they be trusted with a heart? Is it fair for them to be given a heart when another person who would take care of a heart dies while waiting for another organ?
This (very long) article on the selection and treatment of heart transplant candidates has some good things to say. Transplants are restricted to: "heart transplantation to patients who are most disabled by heart failure and who are likely to derive the maximum benefit from transplantation." Note that the article said not only the sickest patients, but the patients most likely to derive the maximum benefits from a new heart. Transplants are not automatically given to the sickest person. If a person has one or more comorbid diseases that compromise the life of a patient beyond that of the condition for which the transplant is warranted, then that is taken into account in transplant eligibility.
Sure, we'd love to give everyone, aged 8 or 98 a new organ to give them a shot at life. But we can't. That's a simple fact. Doctors must make the decision as to who can best benefit from a new organ, who is most likely to survive, and who is the sickest. Not who deserves the organ the most. Everyone deserves a chance at recovery, but our present situation makes this impossible.
Organ transplant guidelines are set forth by the United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS. UNOS guidelines are made by a committee of doctors, transplant recipients, families of organ donors, and many others to get a well-balanced, as-fair-as-possible guidelines for transplant centers to follow. These are not just medical bureaucrats setting up imperatives. Each individual transplant center has their own guidelines as well for accepting or rejecting patients. I was accepted at the Stanford transplant center. Had I been rejected, I could have applied to the UCLA center and possibly been accepted there. Every potential transplant recipient has the option to go elsewhere to seek treatment.
Okay, now that we have a little background in transplant policy, let's turn to the article at hand. In this case, a man who is HIV positive has been turned down by his insurance company, Kaiser Permanente, for a kidney transplant.
First, what this "turned down" means is not that he's been denied a transplant. Only the transplant center can determine that. It most likely means that Kaiser won't pay for it. For many people, this is the equivalent of being turned down by the doctors, but it really isn't the same thing. He could privately fund his transplant if the transplant center accepted him. I feel that the article is misleading in that it implies that just because the insurance turned him down that means that he can't get a transplant at all. That is not true.
Second, there's the issue of his HIV status. A first reaction would be "of course he's too sick for a transplant--it wouldn't be viable in an HIV positive person." Yet the article states that research shows that: "HIV-positive people have high survival rates after organ transplants, similar to those of people who aren't infected with the AIDS virus. " So HIV status should NOT be a determining factor in the health-related realm of determining transplant eligibility.
So is this a case of an HMO denying an eligible man simply because they don't want to pay out, or is there more that we don't know? I suspect it's the latter. It doesn't seem that HIV status alone should disqualify him for a transplant, but there are many factors that are taken into account in a transplant decision, and none of those other factors are reported on in this article.
Has the transplant center turned him down, or just the insurance company? This is a crucial question. Surely if the insurance is the one who turned him down, and did it based on his HIV status despite research that shows that an HIV positive individual is just as viable as an HIV negative individual, then that is unfair and the insurance is to be condemned.
Still, I suspect there's far more to this story than the media is reporting. I think that they are playing upon people's sense of fairness and homophobia to make a news story here. Would this be a news story if the headline read "Alcoholic denied transplant?" I'm not a big fan of HMOs, certainly, but I think they may be getting a bad rap here. We just don't know. It's too easy to scream "this is unfair!" or "this is just!" Let's think more about these issues before issuing a judgement.
I'm a little slow on the uptake, but this is Banned Books Week. Here's a list of the top 100 most frequently challenged books of 1990-2000. Go read one because those people are idiots.
Is a, well, several adjectives come to mind. For months Kevin has been sending emails that say things like "hey, your beloved garden that you're forcing us to pay a gardener to take care of is looking pretty dead" and "I think there's something wrong with the drip irrigation system because the plants are looking kind of dead" and "dude, your plants are dying." Yes, yes, Jose says. I'll take care of it. Uh-hunh.
Then today I get a call "Is it okay if we come by to pick some lemons?" Sure. I won't even mention the fact that the end of September is HARDLY lemon season. So in he comes, picks lemons and, and comes back into the house. "The plants look kind of dead," he says. Really? You don't say. "How much are you paying Tomas [the gardener]?" I say "$40, twice a month" which we pay out of our OWN pocket in ADDITION to the rent simply because Jose wants HIS plants taken care of. "Oh," he says. "I think I'll talk to someone else about coming in for the same amount. Someone who knows more about plants." Darn right he's coming in for the same amount. Grrrrrrr. I say "So you'll tell Tomas not to come back?" Tomas speaks only Spanish, and I do not, and I'm imagining a nightmare situation trying to explain to him that we're going with someone else. "No, no," Jose says, "I'll talk to a new guy first and then talk to you." Well with Jose's remarkable track record of follow-through, we'll see if this ever happens.
Today was the first day of our new German class at De Anza community college. I started German last year at De Anza and completed 3 quarters--one academic year. Now I'm in the second year class, which is considered an upper level class, and since German is not a popular language all of the upper level classes are lumped together in one room. So we have German 4 students (like myself), German 5, German 6, and German Conversation which is the most advanced you can get at De Anza. Kevin is in the Conversation class, so we are able to carpool which is nice.
The disadvantage is that there is a wide variety of skill levels in the class. In German 1, 2, and 3 I could count on pretty much everyone being at my level. Well today in class it soon became clear that I was among the very least fluent. We had to interview a neighbor and introduce him or her to the rest of the class. My neighbor and I were the only ones who really stumbled our way through our introductions. Part of my downfall was that I just wrote down his answers to the questions rather than writing down a complete sentence that I would use to introduce him. So when it came time for me to speak, I had to construct sentences on the fly and got nervous and did worse than I could have.
The other part of the problem was that literally half of the students were saying things like "He is from Bosnia and was a refugee in Germany for 3 years..." and "She is from Russia and lived in Germany for 7 years..." and "He is Polish and studied German for 12 years..." I couldn't believe the number of foreign born students and ALL of them had either lived in Germany or had studied German in school for several years prior to the US. They all spoke a minimum of 3 languages. It was rather intimidating, really.
Our teacher is really nice though. Last year I had a different instructor because I was taking the night class, but this year I'm in the daytime class. Kevin took the day class last year and so has had Frau Melas before. When we had our break, Frau Melas came over to me and my partner to chat with us--I think the panicked look on our faces and the fact that we weren't conversing fluently in German gave us away. She encouraged us to stick with it and to not be intimidated, which was nice. I don't feel embarrassed about making mistakes in class even though I know I will be one of the slowest students.
Besides, there's a woman in the class who was in my class last year and I know for a fact that she's much less fluent than I am. So there :).
Well the very wise 9th circuit has restored the recall election, allowing us to get this freakin' thing over with as quickly as possible. For those of you who want the nitty gritty details (who wouldn't? Hahahahaha) this blog has an excellent summary with links to the actual decision and some commentary clearing things up. I skimmed it, which now makes me an expert. Go Forth and Vote, Ye Californians!
As many of you know, we use a crate for Scout. It's a metal wire cage that she goes into when we go out. Scout LOVES her crate. She considers it her little den and often goes in there on her own when she's feeling overwhelmed (too many people in the house, like a party of book club), or when she's feeling persecuted.
Well today she decided to go into her crate as Kevin left for work, and a few hours later I wandered into the kitchen to find her STILL in her crate, lying peacefully with her chin on the bolster of the crate pad. Why did she feel the need to stay in there? The door was wide open. She doesn't appear to be sick or in any distress. Weird dog.
I got a VERY official looking email from "Microsoft" today claiming that there was a new Windows Update to fix security problems and I just had to click on the attachment to install it. For a brief moment I thought "how nice of them to send me an email. I'll just click this little attachment and fix up my computer nice and good." Then I thought wait a minute--I don't think Microsoft sends updates by email, and I don't remember giving Microsoft my email address for previous Windows updates. And I thought you know, if I wanted to distribute a virus, this is exactly how I would do it.
So I deleted the message and went to Yahoo News to see if my instincts were correct. They were. This article explains more about the worm cloaked as an update and confirms that Microsoft does NOT send updates through email, as well as some other ways to spot this forgery.
As computer-savvy as I like to think I am, I almost fell for this. Don't do it! And if you did, get yourself a good anti-virus program right away.
It's not quite October yet, but it's time for Oktoberfest! Get yourself to Munich before the celebration ends on Oct. 5th (or as they say in Europe, 5 Oct.).
Well today has been a full day--two cultural festivals in one day!
The first was Silicon Valley's premiere dog culture festival, Bark in the Park. This is our third year of attending Bark in the Park and each year it's been HOT! Today was no exception. There were a ton of people there and we saw a respectable amount of beagles (the most noble dog breed, as we all know). Scout was pretty much uninterested in her breed brethren. In fact, the whole event was rather overwhelming to Scout. She was foaming at the mouth from panting in the heat, yet she was too distracted to drink much water. At one point we decided to take a rest in the shade. I spotted a clear area and we headed over. Of course, there's a reason why the area was clear. It was next to a trash bin, where a number of responsible dog owners deposited their dog waste. Pee-yew!
We visited each booth, including one selling Snoopy art which we considered buying. We also stopped by the Downtown Dogs booth, Scout's old daycare. They all remembered Scout and showered her with affection, even though it's been nearly 2 years since she went there. We miss Downtown Dogs as Scout loved it there, but since I'm home all the time it doesn't make sense to send her to daycare.
We tried to beat the heat by buying Scout some doggy ice cream, peanut butter flavor, but she turned up her nose at it. In fact, she barely gave it a sniff! We were surprised because she loves Frosty Paws, a doggy ice cream you can get in the store. But Scout was too distracted and hot to concentrate. We offered the ice cream to a nearby large dog who promptly lapped it up and loved every minute of it. At least someone enjoyed it!
After Bark in the Park we headed home for a rest before going over to our church's Japanese cultural festival, Aki Matsuri. Kevin was scheduled to work as a cook in the Yakisoba booth (yakisoba is fried noodles and vegetables--mmmm). In fact, he's there right now. I came home early because it was just too darned hot.
I can't believe this heat wave we've been having. It's nearly the end of September, yet our weather has been in the high 80s and 90s the past couple of days! It's supposed to get up to 92 tomorrow. Yikes!
Phew, I almost forgot this week! Here's the Friday Five:
1. Who is your favorite singer/musician? Why?
I'm torn between my old favorite, Indigo Girls, and my new favorite, Dar Williams. Both of them have awesome lyrics. Lyrics to me are very important. Both of them are very sing-along-able, which is also a must. The Indigo Girls do great harmony too.
2. What one singer/musician can you not stand? Why?
Rod Stewart, because his voice sucks AND he's NOT sexy.
3. If your favorite singer wasn't in the music business, do you think you would still like him/her as a person?
Yes for both of my favorite singers. Well, the three of them (there are two Indigo Girls). Dar Williams is very funny in her concerts and seems to be a really nice person. The Indigo Girls are very active in social causes (anti-death penalty, gay rights) and I really respect that.
4. Have you been to any concerts? If yes, who put on the best show?
I love concerts and have been to three this year alone (that I can think of). Dar puts on a great show, especially when she talks about the songs in between them, but my heart still belongs to the Indigo Girls when it comes to concerts. They're awesome, and the fans and audience participation is out of this world. Everyone sings along at the top of their lungs. Kevin jokes that they don't actually do any singing in concerts and just let the fans take over (which in some song is true for things like the chorus).
5. What are your thoughts on downloading free music online vs. purchasing albums? Do you feel the RIAA is right in its pursuit to stop people from dowloading free music?
Now there's a question. The short answer is no, I think the RIAA is wrong and suing 12 year olds is ridiculous. The long answer is this. I fully support artist's rights and feel they should definitely be adequately compensated for their songs. The problem is, when it comes to CD sales, out of your $20 only a tiny percentage of that goes to the artist themselves, and the rest goes to the big music companies. The big music companies and the companies who run the radio stations (like Clear Channel) are in cahoots to get a buddy-buddy system of mutual compensation at the expense of artists. Not to mention that they completely shut out the small, independent artists (like my beloved Dar Williams) who end up getting no air time. They have a monopoly on the system and are making ridiculous profits. Personally I would much rather send $20 directly to the artist and bypass the record companies all together. I don't feel bad about downloading music because it is this free air time that gets me to discover new artists and buy more albums. I don't see any difference between taping a song on the radio, which is free and which people have done legally for years, and downloading a song off of the Internet, which is also acquiring a song for free.
Plus I think in the long run you're not going to be able to beat the technology. People will continue to come up with new file sharing programs and they will always be able to download music. Look at all of the time and effort spent in shutting down Napster. What a waste! Now with Kazaa people are just as easily downloading music. I think suing people after the fact is just closing the barn door after the horse has escaped. What the industry needs to do is think outside the box and come up with new ways for everyone involved to be fairly compensated.
Ahoy mateys! Today be Talk Like A Pirate Day. Why? Because it be fun!
For all you land lubbers who t'ink talk like a pirate day be stupid, you be nothin' but scurvy bilge rats. Avast! For ye, a long walk on t'plank!
And don't ye be forgettin' t'most dangerous pirate of them all: The Dread Pirate Roberts!
I got the results of my most recent echocardiogram and am just elated by the news. My Ejection Fraction is 42%!!! This is a huge improvement for me, and means that not only am I stable on my medication, my heart is actually healing and improving! I'm feeling better too--a definite reduction in fatigue and the ability to walk farther. Maybe I'll give up my handicapped parking permit...Nah :).
The Ejection Fraction (EF) is the main measure doctors use to determine heart function. The EF is the percentage of blood that your heart is able to pump out. A normal EF is in the 55-60% range. When I was first diagnosed, my EF was 16% (well within the range for transplant). At my last echo in Feb. I had improved to 32%, so a result of 42% is a big step up not only from my initial level but from my last echo as well. I'm nearing normal levels! All from a heart that a year ago was hovering close to transplant and the doctors feared the heart damage was permanent and irreversible.
This medicine has truly been a miracle drug for me. I'm feeling so much better and this latest test says I really am making great strides towards healing. Even if I don't make anymore progress, I'm thrilled with these results. But the way things are going, it looks like I can still improve. Modern medicine is truly a godsend. 10 years ago my outlook would have been much more bleak. Now...the sky's the limit!
According to this article my preferred sleeping position says that I'm brash and gregarious. Comments open, whaddya think?
[via Shelby, who is also supposedly brash and gregarious (maybe it's the name)]
Where did the week go? I didn't spend it blogging, that's for sure.
In Shelby's Life and Whatnot news, I achieved my 100th comment! From an outside reader, even. See the comment from Shelby here.
In personal news, we've had a family tragedy. Actually TWO tragedies in one night! Two venerable dog toys bit the dust: the noble Dino (a part of our family for SIX years!) and the newer but still-beloved HarryDog. Here is my tribute to them *sniff*.
Dino (also known as Dino 2.0) was purchased at PetSmart in Springfield, MO as a replacement for Dino 1.0, a brontosaurus. Dino was a fleecy T-Rex with colorful felt down his back. Dino lasted longer than any dog toy we've ever had, with the exception of one Gumbone that Scout still refuses to chew. Dino was fatally wounded in two locations--one in the neck area and one in the lumbar/spine area. I'm afraid to say that he suffered some stuffing loss from the lumbar injury.
Our other loss was HarryDog. HarryDog was a gift from Kevin's brother Zach, and was so-named because he resembled Harry, Kevin's Mom's dog. The real Harry is a maltese. HarryDog was sort of a part teddy bear/part dog/part abominable snowman. The real Harry (also known as The White Menace) had previously attacked Scout in her own home, and Scout pretty much didn't stand up for herself. HarryDog was purchased so that Scout could get some practice for her next encounter with The White Menace. Well, it didn't work out too well with the real Harry, but HarryDog did become a well-liked toy. HarryDog's fatal injury was a partially removed ear.
Dino and HarryDog are survived by Hedgehog 5.0, ReindeerHead 2.0, Booda Guy, and assorted other toys.
They've postponed the CA recall election! Why? Because six counties still have punch-card voting systems in place and it would be unfair to use those again, as they are error-prone. No need to point out that these same punch-card systems were considered error-free enough to elect Gray Davis in the first place!
Interestingly, the six counties are:
Los Angeles (county, not the city. Yes, it's also a county. My parents live there)
Mendocino (a great place to visit! Click on the little picture below to see a larger picture of the Mendocino coast)
Sacramento (you know, the capitol? Like where Gray Davis lives?)
San Diego (everyone knows where that is)
Santa Clara (that would be us!)
Solano (in between San Francisco and Sacramento)
Of course, these six little counties represent 44% of the state's registered voters. Which leads me to say "Only 44%? Really? Where does the other 56% live? Probably 55% in San Francisco and 1% in Other."
I've been lax on reporting what I've been reading lately, so here goes:
I just finished Revenge by Stephen Fry. It tells the story of a privileged student in England who gets caught up in something much larger than himself and ends up kidnapped and hidden away for several years. He escapes, vowing revenge on all those who hurt him--and he gets it. The last third of the book requires a strong stomach, but the ending has a great ironic twist to it. I really liked it.
I also read two books by Ian McEwan: Amsterdam and The Innocent. Amsterdam, which won the Booker prize in 1998, is an excellent book of two friends and what happens when their friendship goes awry. It's short, a quick read, but worth your consideration.
The Innocent is a cold war thriller set in Berlin shortly after WWII. The innocent of the title is a British telephone technician recruited to participate in espionage. The climax of the novel is exciting and after the first half I could barely put it down. Classic McEwan ending as well.
Bennifer is no more! And my beloved People magazine has the scoop. Unfortunately, their online content is for subscribers and AOL members only. Or you can buy an issue and use a 1 week code. But anyway, let's all say it together now, "Gosh, I can't believe it! They were so in love!"
It felt like Palm Desert outside today. The temperature was near 100 degrees. Nice for the middle of September--HA! Yesterday was nearly as hot. It's supposed to cool down to the mid to upper 80s tomorrow but stay hot for a few more days. What is THAT about?
Kevin and I went to a Japanese stationery store looking for The Dog Club merchandise. They had some pencils but were sold out of the noble Beagle! I can understand that given the cuteness of the Beagle they would be the first to sell out, but you'd think they would order extras. Oh well. We got a nice Beagle sticker, but even the set of small stickers was sold out in the Beagle breed. Now we have to figure out what to do with our Beagle sticker. Kevin suggested we put it on his laptop. I suggested we put it on mine. Perhaps we should have gotten two.
Not much to report today except for the heat. Ugh. I had an echo yesterday but won't know the results for a few more days yet. Hopefully they'll show more improvement in heart function. I'll post the results as soon as I know them.
Another week, another Friday:
1. Is the name you have now the same name that's on your birth certificate? If not, what's changed?
No. My birth certificate says first: Shelby middle: Lynn last: Rosiak. When I got married I added Rosiak as a second middle name and Hogan as my last name. My new legal name is first: Shelby middle: Lynn Rosiak last: Hogan.
2. If you could change your name (first, middle and/or last), what would it be?
I would change my name to Bill Shovelshitski. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Sorry, old Polish joke there.
Seriously, I love my first name and find that it suits me well. Lynn is pretty innocuous but goes well with Shelby. I debated for a long time over whether to become a Hogan, but I finally decided Hoganism had 3 advantages: 1. Easier to pronounce and spell, 2. Moving up in the alphabet, and 3. I'll have the same last name as my future children.
Please don't ask when those children will appear. Later. When we're ready. Which would not be now.
3. Why were you named what you were? (Is there a story behind it? Who specifically was responsible for naming you?)
Supposedly I was named after an obscure singer named Shelby Flint. But I think my parents just liked the name. They also chose it because it couldn't be shortened to anything, which many of my friends completely undermine by calling me "Shelb."
4. Are there any names you really hate or love? What are they and why?
There are many names that I love--too many to list here. There are also many that I hate, mostly because of a bad experience with a person of that name. But I have to say, there are some names that should just be banned from all usage, and two of those are "Billie" and "Bobbie." Also, for some reason, the name "Naomi" really bugs me. I've never known a Naomi, but I think the name is just totally unattractive. I'm also not a big fan of "Britney" or however you want to spell it. See? You shouldn't have gotten me started.
5. Is the analysis of your name at kabalarians.com accurate? How or how isn't it?
The Kabalarians look like some sort of weird religion/cult thing based on name analysis. Their explanations are rather long, so click the link below to find out about me (with comments).
The name of Shelby brings opportunities for success in business and financial accumulation yeah, until I got laid off. It fires you with ambition and promotional ideas, ideas that are original yes, progressive yes, and large-scale yes.This is all true, and part of what got me into trouble at a workplace that does not really want original, progressive, and large-scale ideas. With this name, success to you is a foregone conclusion I'm gonna be an author! Hooray!, for you cannot conceive any reason for not reaching all your goals, as you have self-sufficiency, supreme confidence, boundless energy, and enthusiasm Mostly true although I do suffer from the occasional self-confidence issue.. As long as you have a sense of freedom from monotony and drudgery, and can see progress being made, you feel buoyant and optimistic Yes! That is SO me!. However, obstacles and frustration can give rise to feelings of impatience, intolerance, and depression. Right again The ever-present desire to progress does not allow you proper relaxation or the proper expression of the softer feminine qualities of sympathy, encouragement, and affection. Hmmm, I don't think so. Others see you as rather shrewd and calculating. They do? Nobody's ever told me!
Also interesting, on Kabalarians they have a link for "Health Weaknesses." Mine are: Your intense, restless nature can bring on tension true which affects the solar plexus which is what? and digestion yes, or the female organs. Hey, what about affecting my HEART? Idiots.
As so many others are doing, I shall record my September 11th story here. Michele Catalano of A Small Victory has a wonderful project called Voices. Go see more personal 9-11 stories there.
It started out as an ordinary day. I was sleeping in a little and like many on the West Coast, slept through most of the live events. Kevin had gotten up a bit earlier to do some work from home before heading in for the day. His first clue that something was wrong was when he noticed his stock ticker wasn't working. He then went to CNN.com and found a barebones page there. He came rushing into the bedroom, waking me up.
"They've bombed the World Trade Center!" he said. Groggy, I sat up and mumbled "Yes, but that was several years ago." "No, NOW!" he said and switched on the TV. Click on the link below to read the rest of the story...
We tuned in just in time to see the towers collapse. The news was a jumble. It seemed that nobody knew what was going on. A plane in Pennsylvania, a burning Pentagon, rumors of the White House and Capitol, the President being rushed to a secret location, the conspicuously absent Vice President...we sat in silence through it all. It was as though the only known facts the news could offer us was showing the clips over an over again--the burning towers, the people jumping, the second plane hitting, the collapse.
It felt so surreal. I could only feel shock. I suddenly felt very isolated in the house, just me and Kevin, and wondering if we were the only people seeing this. I called our friends Marc and Wendy, who didn't have a TV, and they'd heard it on the radio. Wendy, a pastor at our church, mentioned that the church would be open all day if we wanted to come in.
I couldn't decide whether to go in to work or not. I called the lab (IBM's Silicon Valley Lab) and the emergency line said that the buildings were open. I felt a need to be around other people, so I called my friend Hai-Nhu to see if she'd gone into work. No answer on her phone. I decided to go anyway. What was there to do at home, sit and watch the television? Kevin's decision was made much easier. Adobe, being among the tallest buildings in San Jose and directly in the landing path of the airport, was closed.
At work everyone was clustered around televisions in the hallways, watching the same clips over and over. It was good to be near my friends, but I was nervous too. Everyone was. Nobody knew if the attacks were over. Nobody knew if we were next. It seemed unlikely that terrorists would attack our dinky little lab, but then again we were IBM, a huge symbol of capitalist corporate America.
Security assured us that they were very vigilant. They outlined the extra measures they were taking to ensure our safety. But our managers soon told us that we were free to go home, if we didn't feel safe or if we wanted to be with our families or whatever. It seemed that everyone wanted the comfort of being in a group, but nobody wanted to be in a group so large it was a target. I sat at my computer and pretended to work, then abandoned the effort for the farce that it was. I went home.
I don't remember what I did for the rest of the day. I went into work on Wednesday and Thursday but took Friday off. It was too hard trying to work when we were getting the news in fits and starts. The evening of the 11th we had tickets to see Beauty and the Beast with Marc and Wendy, but the performance was cancelled. I didn't really cry or grieve until Friday when I finally let myself watch tv and the anguish set in.
After that I couldn't watch tv anymore. To this day we don't watch anything.
Well today was a gloomy day. It was sprinkling on and off and kind of a muggy, damp almost-heat that was just plain uncomfortable.
We had a great time at book club last night. Tim and Therese both liked the book--and Therese LOVED it! She was like "oh I really enjoyed it and couldn't wait to read more" and I totally thought she was being facetious but she wasn't. I'm glad some people got something out of the book. I certainly didn't. The next one sounds interesting though.
Kevin tried to gas us. We were all in the computer room with me on my computer and Kevin on his computer and Scout trying to get our attention by doing naughty things she knows she's not supposed to do. So she started chewing on a box (yes, we haven't unpacked everything yet--a year later) and Kevin grabs the bitter apple spray (a spray with a truly hideous flavor that you spray on things you don't want your dog to chew). Well he got a little overexcited with the spray and we both end up inhaling it and coughing. Nasty. And it's a hard taste to get out of your mouth too. Luckily I only got a light dose. I think Kevin was harder hit.
The neighbor children are having a screaming contest again. Wouldn't it be lovely if they did this every day? Oh wait, they do.
Book Club tonight at Jennifer and Tim's. This month's selection, Blues for Cannibals by Charles Bowden was, shall we say, less than inspiring. Okay, I hated it. Well, hated is not quite the right word. I disliked it. I found it pretentious and overwritten. And boring. And repetitive. And that was just in the first 100 pages (no, I didn't finish it). So tonight's discussion will be interesting. It's always nice to get together anyway, even if the book sucks. I wonder if anyone liked it? Kevin did manage to finish it but he felt much the same way I did. At least he finished it!
Nothing very exciting to report today. Kevin had to go into church way early because he'd agreed to run the sound board and video (slide show). The church, in its effort to be high tech, has a large screen behind the altar (in a Catholic church it's where the crucifix would be). On screen they show the words to hymns and the readings, and occasionally other slides if the pastor wants. Anyway, Kevin had agreed to it on Thursday and realized last night that no one had given him any material for the slides so he had to go in early to get it. He typed in the whole reading passage himself, but when it came to that part in the service, they had changed the reading. Oops!
Anyway, I decided to sleep in and go to the 11:30 service. The one we usually attend, the big one, is at 10:00 and is supposed to be an hour long. Well I got there at 11:25 and the church was still packed with 10:00 service. The late service didn't start until 12.
But the exciting news is that I walked to church! It's not terribly far, but this is testimony that I'm feeling much better. And it was actually nice to get out and walk too.
The street on our block is being repaved. Well, not entirely repaved, but they're patching giant rectangles of it. This involves a lot of noise from the heavy machinery. Personally I like it as it drowns out the screaming next door (did I tell you that the other day the kids decided to have a screaming contest in the morning? Fun for everyone!). But Scout, poor Scout is terrified.
This morning Kevin saw her sitting on the couch, which is right by the front door, and Scout was shaking. He tried to soothe her but she was still nervous. Then she came into my room where I was still sleeping. She tentatively scratched at the nightstand and I sat up and said "What do you want? Do you want to come up here?" In our family "come up here" is Scout's invitation to, well, come up here. So she hopped up and then nosed the covers. This is her signal that she wants to go underneath the covers. She crawled to the foot of the bed and curled up in a small ball against my feet. She used to do this all the time when it was cold, but she hasn't done it at all since we got the Cave Bed (here and here). But I guess when there's scary noises outside, sometimes you just need to go under the covers and curl up against Mommy. She did the same thing later when I took my afternoon nap too. It was very sweet.
And on time this week too! The Friday Five:
1. What housekeeping chore(s) do you hate doing the most?
All of them, but mostly dishes. I really miss our dishwasher.
2. Are there any that you like or don't mind doing?
Laundry isn't too bad.
3. Do you have a routine throughout the week or just clean as it's needed?
Unless I see something egregious (or it's laundry), then I pick choice C. Wait for the cleaning lady.
4. Do you have any odd cleaning/housekeeping quirks or rules?
I'm a very bad housewife. I've come to learn this about myself. I guess my quirk is that I like to keep the sink hair-free.
5. What was the last thing you cleaned?
I can't think of a single thing. Let me go clean something. Hang on.
Okay, I just cleaned the hair off of the bathroom sinks. Phew, that was a close one!
Even more evidence that he's an evil, evil man--he drops his dog!
The San Jose Mercury News has a very interesting article on ICDs and pacemakers today. An ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillater) is what I got in April of 2002. I'm still very fortunate that my ICD hasn't gone off (it's set to deliver a strong electric shock if my heart stops beating or if it's beating out of control). The technology is moving so fast that even my year-old device is old school. The article tells the story of one patient who has upgraded his ICD/pacemaker 4 times since 2001. Since mine is working just fine and I haven't needed to "use" it, I'm sure I won't be upgrading anytime soon. The battery lifetime is projected to be 7-8 years at which point I'll need a new one. By that time they'll probably be the size of a matchbook (mine is the size of a small pager).
The article says:
A smaller, lighter, more precisely targeted model was approved March 28. Luther's doctor at Stanford, Dr. Sung Chun, implanted it in April.
And that's the same Dr. Chun who is monitoring my ICD as well!
Read the article. It's very interesting.
I finally had a cardiology visit today. It went well. My doctor was glad that I'm feeling so good. He said, "Well THAT was a close call, heh heh heh" (meaning "We almost took your heart out!" which is what he said at my LAST visit) and I was like you know, it kind of freaks me out when you say that. Anyway, I need another echo to confirm that things are going well but he thinks it's going to be fine.
As I was checking out, the receptionist (CeeCee--they both know me by name. Melissa is the other one. She checked me in.) made my echo appointment which she does by calling the echo clinic. She looked up at me and said "Is September 11th all right?" At first I was like NO! That's a BAD day! Then I was like no, that WAS a bad day. Then I was like you know, it's a day. And if we stop everything, interrupting our normal lives, then the terrorists win. So I was like "Sure, the 11th would be fine." Of course, all of this took place in a fraction of a second inside my head.
Then later I thought what was I doing last Sept. 11th? Oh yeah, that's right, I was laying in the hospital watching tv and being miserable. So that made me realize how fortunate I am this year. I mean can you believe it's already September and I have spent NOT ONE day in the hospital this whole year? Amazing! I'm so glad.
For those of you who didn't grow up or go to school in, say, Indiana, Ohio, or Michigan, you may not be familiar with the card game Euchre (pronounced YOU-ker). If you're not, this post will be very boring for you and you might as well skip it. If you DO know how to play Euchre (not to mention having played it obsessively), click on the "Continue Reading Euchre, Euchre, Euchre" link below for the full story. You'll be shocked and appalled, as I was...
Still with me? Good.
Okay. When I heard the word "Euchre" at game night, I immediately perked up. What could be more fun than a game of the old euch? The Old Lady (hereafter known as OL) who was organizing the game is not someone I particularly like (and liked much less post-game), but I overlooked that and joined the game. It was me and OL and two women who had never played before. So that was cool. I'm always up for teaching someone the joy that is euchre.
The problem started when OL started explaining the rules. Everything was fine until she was explaining about the first round of calling the card up. She said "if the dealer's partner calls the card up, then she has to go alone." Excuse me? Thinking that she misspoke, I said no, you don't have to go alone unless you want to. And OL looked straight at me and said in a very condescending voice, "Well now you're trying to change the rules." Hunh? I said no (very politely), the way I learned it is that the dealer's partner can call up the card and she does not have to go alone. OL says "See, you're trying to change the rules. How can you play the game if you change the rules?" So I said (notice I'm giving her a save-face out here) "Well that's the way I learned it." Well she's still all huffy and she's like "You know, I tried to play euchre with two women in Florida and they said they knew the rules but they did the same thing and tried to change the rules. You can't just change the rules." and I'm like HELLO--maybe it's because your rule is WRONG!!
It wasn't so much that she wanted to play with a different rule as it was the way she was accusing me of trying to change the rule, presumably to my own advantage, and I was deliberately trying to sabotage the game. And she refused to accept that perhaps there were variations in rules. No--HER rules were the RIGHT rules and I was trying to CHANGE them. WhatEVER!
So I settled down for what was sure to be an interesting and less strategic game of euchre. And it was. Actually it wasn't interesting at all. OL had instilled the fear of God into the two new people so that they NEVER called up the face card as trump. And we weren't playing Screw the Dealer (which I might add is a VALID variant, to be agreed upon by all players before the game starts--believe me I didn't EVEN bring that one up), so more often than not, nobody would call trump and the dealer would pass the deal. We spent more time passing the deal than playing the frickin' game. And with her idiotic RULE, the dealer's partner COULDN'T call trump unless they went alone. And go alone hands, as you all know (if you've gotten this far) are pretty rare. Unless Chuck is dealing. But that's a different story.
Anyway, the game turned out to be painfully boring. Fortunately, we were saved by OL's scoring, which she did on a NAPKIN (I mean what are the 6s and 4s for anyway?!). In her version of the game, whoever got 3 tricks got 2 points, regardless of who called trump and whether or not there was a euch. What's the point of THAT? Well it made the game go faster, for one. Mercifully.
And I didn't even point out that she was dealing wrong (one card at a time).
Never again will I play Euchre with her. Obviously.
Kevin and I just returned from our church's Family Camp. It was a lovely weekend held at Camp Oski, a camp owned by the Berkeley Alumni Association. There were platform tents, but we stayed in the "hotel"--a lodge like building with bedrooms much like, well, a motel sans private bathroom. Everyone at church still thinks my health is much more fragile than it is, so we got assigned to the hotel along with the senior citizens including the woman whose 92nd birthday we celebrated at camp. Talk about an amazing woman--she still camps, walks around, is as sharp as a tack, and sings in the choir. But anyway...
Our camp days were lazy and relaxing. The main camp activity is fishing at a nearby lake, but since I don't like to fish and Kevin's not totally crazy about it either we skipped it. We also skipped the horseback riding as I pretty much wore out my horseback riding desires at Girl Scout camp (1991-1995). We did some arts and crafts and of course made lanyards. But I had a lanyard failure! I tried to start someone's lanyard and failed twice! After that I was able to start with ease, but it looks like I'm finally losing some of those hard-earned Girl Scout skills (she said sarcastically). And it only took 8 years for that to happen.
Each night we had a campfire (yes, I led some GS songs, of course) followed by marshmallow roasting and S'mores, and then games in the dining hall. The first night I played Scrabble, and was quickly reminded of why I hate Scrabble. It's boring! Someone plays a word, and then you wait and wait and wait and wait for the next person to think, and then they put down something like "Hi" and get their 3 points or whatever, and then the waiting, etc. And then there's the hard-core players, like the guy in my group, who came with his own copy of the Scrabble dictionary and proved that "Ay" is a word (interestingly, Kevin learned on his second game of Scrabble that "Bi" as a short version of "Bisexual" is an acceptable Scrabble word--who knew? The Scrabble Dictionary, that's who.). I came in second, beating Kevin and a 16 year old but losing to the hard-core player by over a hundred points. My big move of the night was adding an S to COMB and racking up 33 points on a triple word score square.
The next night I played an appalling game of Euchre, but I'll talk about that in another post for the Euchre fanatics so you won't all have to read about it.
We spent most of the days napping and reading and taking in the beauty of our surroundings. Camp Oski is located in the Sierras near Yosemite and is really very nice. It's tiny compared to Camp Scherman (my old GS haunt), but then again, every camp is tiny compared to Camp Scherman. The weather was beautiful--sunny but not too hot. And I only got 3 bug bites. That's a record low for me. Bugs love me.
At the last night's campfire, it was skit night. I abhor skit night. It almost always involves the same 4 skits recycled over and over again and none of them are funny. We were surprised by one skit which we'd never seen before. And then the same skit was performed by a second group of people. The second group was better and it was kind of funny. Still, skit night was agonizingly long.
So that pretty much covers our weekend at Family Camp!