Archive for Day to Day Blather

Consolidation Time

So, I’ve been keeping blog entries on the Mercer Rescue Walk site (walkertracker.com — a pretty cool site for those who will take any encouragement to walk a few extra steps a day) and at Ravelry (for Sock Madness 2011) and since the walkertracker site has been reset once already and I’ve lost everything, I figure it’s time to get things back where they belong.  I think I can backdate posts, so this might appear after I move the ones over from those other places.  We shall see.

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Christmas Music, Greek-style

Okay, so the elevators at our hotel in Athens have been playing Christmas music since we arrived Saturday.  This has been peculiar for a number of reasons.

  1. How do they know when to start playing Christmas music?  They don’t have Thanksgiving, so why was it already playing November 28?  Advent hadn’t started, nor had December.
  2. Why is it all in English?  Are there no Greek Christmas songs?
  3. Why is so much of it religious?  This is a fairly international hotel (at least half the entrees are vegetarian, for example and far fewer than half the guests are American), so you’d figure they’d be less likely to play religious music.  But no, lots of it is straight from the hymnal.
  4. And why is so much of it, well, peculiar?  It’s gotten so Charlie’s afraid to get in the elevator.  Of course, I love it.  A new personal favorite is “Never Do a Tango with an Eskimo.”

Yes, “Never do a Tango with an Eskimo.”  A fine piece of music, if you ask me.  (An abomination if you ask anyone else.)  If you haven’t heard it recently, or ever, take a listen at http://www.turnbacktogod.com/never-do-a-tango-with-an-eskimo-song/ .

Besides the joy of the song with a title like that, be sure to notice:

  • Don’t you wish Rankin/Bass (of the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer tv special) had found this instead?  I’ve been meaning to try out animation software though.  Maybe I’ve found my muse.  Appropriate, given my location…
  • The end sure sounds more like a cha cha than a tango to me.  But I like this song, so that tells you about my musical knowledge/taste.
  • The site is for born-again Christians.  Umm, and what do Eskimos have to do with that?  Or maybe it’s the tango?
  • But check the lyrics…there’s nothing about Christmas at all in them.  This should get the creative among you writing new verses.  How about:
When Jesus does a tango, he'd prefer to have a mango
In the fruit bowl that he eats from at the break.
But mangoes in the snow just don't have a chance to grow,
So Eskimos have none for goodness sake.

I guess this means I shouldn’t complain about Christmas music when I get home.  But I still will.

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Shaken to the Core

So, there are some things that we just know to be true.  One of my favorite things to run across on radio is rebroadcasts and new broadcasts of the show This I Believe.  And it’s just heartbreaking when you learn that one of those things just isn’t so any more.

I had that happen last week.  My shoe size is 8 1/2 W.  Always has been.  It’s gotten so when I need new shoes, I just stop at the SAS store on the way to or from Atlanta, go in, take a box of 8 1/2W off the shelf, and buy them.  The clerk always makes sure the shoes inside match the size on the box, so I don’t even have to do that.

Well, I needed new shoes.  My first great disappointment is the SAS store between my home and Atlanta is closed.  So I had to wait until a longer trip to go to one north of Atlanta.  (You didn’t really expect me to change brands now, did you?)  The clerk was quite outgoing and wanted to be helpful and my current shoes felt really big (but hey, they were old), so I let her measure me.

And I’m not an 8 1/2W any more.  In fact, I even bought a pair of 8 regular.  (Seems when you lose over 100 pounds, some of it comes off your feet.)  Things have felt a little off kilter ever since.

Now, I’m almost happy to say that the new shoes are a bit too tight and need to be broken in.  So I could probably still get buy with buying 8 1/2 Ws.  But where’s the growth in that?

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Every Damn New Year’s Cliche

So, I tried to avoid posting on New Year’s Day, even though I really was going to take this semester break as an opportunity to get caught up on many things in life, this blog among them.

But it struck me as I was going to WalMart to get workout pants, batteries for our heart monitors, and hand weights that I was living the New Year’s cliches.  Now, since I’m great at justifying, I did manage to justify it all by saying I’ve been losing weight since September 2007 (I’m hovering at the 110 pounds lost right now, but hey, I have hand weights, it should get better!).  I’ve exercised on and off for that long too, but have been at it seriously since September 2008.  I even hit 7 straight weeks on Wiifit this morning.

To keep things fresh, I got “My Fitness Trainer” for the Wii yesterday (yeah, more cliche!), thus the heart monitor batteries and hand weights.  And then, after getting all of that and blowing up a stability ball, Maya, My Fitness Trainer (your fitness trainer, everyone’s fitness trainer!) didn’t even use the silly things.  Although pumping up a stability ball should count as exercise in and of itself!

So, I’ve got diet and exercise down.  And I’m doing some little things about organization and time management.  Little.  But so far, manageable and not too scary.  We’ll see what happens when the semester starts.

And I think I’m gonna try the “100 skeins challenge”–can I finish off 100 skeins of yarn this year?  Now, getting 100 skeins is not a challenge (or, if it is, I think I’ve already met it).  But actually using the yarn I have?  At any rate, what really inspired this post was to try to keep track of the skeins I finish and since I finished 2 today, lemme log ’em.  I finished a skein of blue Lions Brand Suede that I’m making a prayer shawl with and a skein of tan Eskimo that I’m making a sweater with.  I thought about adding pictures (of the work in progress?  of the end of the skein?  of the empty label?) but decided against that since it would just get in the way of blogging about it.  Maybe I’ll do photos of things as I finish them?  I have a box of scarves going off to the Special Olympics this week.  They look pretty cool, all blue and white.  Sadly, none of them has finished a skein.

So, the skein total as of today is 2.  Oh boy!

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Travel Fun and Games

So, I am in New York for the Advanced Placement Development Committee meeting. I suppose I should just shut up and be happy to be here after the travel day I had yesterday getting here, but why would I have a blog if I shut up when I was supposed to?

So, New York is a great place that I really haven’t had time to enjoy during the meetings because they’re packed. So I decided to come early Saturday (fly out at 10 AM) so I could get to the fashion district and Mood Fabrics from Project Runway.

Looking back, this was a good idea, or I’d still be traveling. I got to the airport, went to my gate, at the end of the B terminal and was informed my flight was moved to the middle of the B terminal. Yeah, I’d passed the gate and then gone much further.

No problem, exercise is good. So I go to the new gate, but the plane there is going to Philly, not Newark. But the gate agent announces the Newark plane will be there (numerous times…lots of people are surprised like I am), so I sit and knit.

And, let me just say, I could have been real bitchy yesterday if I hadn’t had my knitting in my purse. But I decided to make each delay an opportunity to knit another row. Yeah, I went Pollyana on the problem. Not at all like me.

So, sooner or later the Philly plane leaves and ours comes and unloads and we get back on in pretty good time and of course the plane is full, but that’s okay, the flight is under an hour and a half.

And then the pilot makes an announcement. Over the next 5 hours I’m gonna learn to hate the pilot making an announcement, but for now, it’s interesting. Seem’s there’s a stop at Newark, so we can’t take off. And that’s all he knows.

Hey, I had meant to finish reviewing the multiple choice questions during the flight, so I take them out (and oooooh, out my tray table down!) and get to work. To Delta’s credit, the crew does their damndest to make the wait tolerable. The pilot invites families to come to the cockpit and take pictures of their kids in the pilot’s seat (something I’d never seen before in a post-9/11 world). The flight attendants bring out trays of water. And the passengers don’t riot or demand to be let out (although there is some grumbling by the skinny girls around me that they’re hungry). And we wait.

And I finish all the multiple choice.

And for some reason (the pilot explains all the intricacies of the flight controller in DC and his handler in Atlanta, but really, I don’t care why–I just want to know when) we taxi out to the end of a runway. (Okay, the stop was lifted, but we still don’t have a landing slot in Newark.) And we wait some more. A lot more.

And I finish writing up all the free response solutions and call my father and talk to Charlie and Fran (who has already arrived in New York and who I was supposed to be shopping with). So I start knitting again, which is good because I can knit standing up and the guy in the seat next to my aisle seat keeps getting up to go pace.

And, we finally take off at about 1 PM (just 3 hours late) and fly via the Indianapolis flight controller instead of the DC one so the flight is a bit longer but who cares because we’re flying! Since the flight was due in around noon, we’re not eating anything more than peanuts, but hey, it’s better than sitting on the tarmac.

And we land and luggage takes forever as usual, but there’s a train and it’s good and fast so we’ll get to Manhattan soon, except…

To get to Amtrak, you have to take the airport train. Fine. So we go until we can see the Amtrak station and come to a stop. And sit there. And wait, and wait, and watch the Amtrak pull in, and watch it pull out, and then we move.

So, normally there’s no problem, but since it’s a Saturday, it’s 50 minutes until the next flight. So I get some of the free response solutions entered and running.

And the train finally shows up and it’s packed–mostly very skinny kids who seat 2 to a seat made for big adults so they can play cards. Fortunately, they get off in a few stops and 3 very tired adults get their places and the trip continues without incident until I get to the hotel and there are a million or so people in the lobby. But after another wait (and I am getting good at knitting while waiting), I get a room and it’s okay if you ignore the toilet that doesn’t stop and the fact the bed looks like it was made by my cat and dog and one of the is still under the bedspread.

But I’m here and I finally eat and we see a play (Altar Boyz–great fun and not more concentration than I can deal with) and I get some sleep and a good strong shower this morning and then the straw breaks the camel’s back.

In dealing with the leaky toilet, I completely miss the fact there are no bath towels in the room. In fact, I miss that little fact until I get out of the shower. Fortunately, I have two hand towels (and yeah, I’ll admit it, sheets) so I’m up and washed and dried and ready to face the day.

Let’s hope it’s better than yesterday. But if it’s not, I still have my knitting.

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Surprising Productivitiy

So, maybe I am really getting over having cancer. I got my stitches out Monday and have been surprisingly productive over the last week or so. I’ve made lots of progress on some crocheting and knitting (pictures when I’m done!) and got syllabi and calendars ready for classes yesterday. In one of the classes, I even came up with page numbers from the text for almost every day. (And it’s a book I haven’t used before!)

I was at school over an hour before my first class and almost felt like I knew what was happening. Surprising!

Let’s see how long this happens.

Now, for the disgusting/dismaying/discouraging/just plain weird e-mail of the day…Ike (the cat) got email from Purina today. (Of course my cat has email.) And they were touting high-tech devices for your cat. Well, sure, a cat with email would be the prime target for this sort of advertising. Fortunately, I got to it before he went to this web page to start ordering…and you just know he would if he could. (But he’s more of a low tech cat and would have ordered yarn instead.)

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Sometimes, Always, Never

Remember the old “Sometimes, always, never” questions…parallel lines intersect never and the hypoteneus of a triangle is always its longest side?

Okay, so I’ve tried posting in this blog sometimes, when I was dealing with cancer. And I’ve tried posting never, like in the last few months, because, well, what’s worth posting and what is blather.

So, for a while at least, I’m gonna try posting always. Most of it will be blather. So, don’t blame me. You’ve been warned.

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Best gift ever?

With thanks to Paul Simon:

Yesterday it was my birthday,
I hung one more year on the line.
I should be depressed--
my life's a mess;
but I'm having a good time.

Okay, so Charlie has given some amazing gifts over the years. But the one I got tonight (for my 50th birthday yesterday, which I was quite happy to let go by uncommented upon, but everyone at work thought otherwise) was incredible.

I liked John Edwards as a presidential candidate. I liked him even before the newest info on Elizabeth’s health. I sent him money after Ann Coulter attacked him and he had the gumption to fight back, not just explain things away, on the heels of a great interview on Beliefnet. And, after sending “Coulter cash” and seeing how the Edwardses reacted to the news of Elizabeth’s cancer, I decided I really did like him.

When Charlie discovered that Edwards was going to be in town today for a fund raiser, just a day after my birthday, it seemed to be fate saying that he should give a bit more money and we could attend the fund raiser. But then, for just a bit more money, he found out we could be event hosts.

So, tonight we hosted the Edwards fund raiser in Macon (along with about 100 other hosts, from the size of the “host reception”). The reception was crowded and the real fund raiser was supposed to be outside, but the rain moved in early (Macon’s under a tornado watch right now), so moved into the hosts’ living room.

And Edwards spoke to the crowd. And along with my name in the invitation, a glass of (white!) wine, and a photo-opportunity in the rain, I got the real gift. I got to hope for America again.

Edwards spoke of his time since the last election and how he’s spend so much time out of the US. America used to be looked up to by folks overseas, but now they have real, valid questions about us. We know there’s genocide in Darfur and, well, there’s genocide in Darfur. He says we are different, special, the only county that can lead in so many of these areas. And today we can’t separate domestic policy from foreign policy.

He knows how important health care is and has plans to provide it for everyone. In front of a room of big donors (I went on a scavenger hunt to find people who weren’t lawyers there and it wasn’t easy!), he had the courage to say he’d roll back the Bush tax cuts for those making over $200,000.

And of course, he emphasized education and the importance of the American dream and how everyone should have the chance. Still, if you could work, you should. But something’s wrong if the top 350,000 earners in US make more than the bottom 150,000,000.

He had sense to know the room was crowded and leave out all the details. But he didn’t miss the dream.

Hope. What a cool gift.

Of course, Charlie said I now have to give him an Edwards presidency for his birthday. If only I could.

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The Agony of Victory

No,

This is not an entry on the BCC Championship or the Super Bowl.

I’d found a new game. Since I’d been receiving so much comment spam on this blog, I made it a game to see how quickly I could delete that spam. Just this evening, I deleted an entry 2 minutes after it was posted.

I thought I was doing everything I could from having it post, other than turning off all commenting. But I found another setting and it looks like I’ve got victory over blog spam.

Now, this means that I no longer have this game to play. And, like most, I do dislike spammers…I misplaced an important message this week due to spam filtering. I liked getting to wipe out comment spam numerous times a day. But no more. When you win the war, you don’t get any more battles!

Ike has also had problems with being too successful. Many of you know him as IkeGetDownFromThere, but as he approaches 15 pounds, he’s spent less time 10 feet high in the house. Don’t worry, he’s still very healthy; at his last vet check, the vet tech was dismayed by his weight, but the vet said it was all muscle. Wrestling dogs does make cats strong.

But Ike has a new trick. He knows how to close doors. He’s managed to lock the dog out of the bathroom in the morning, so thinks it’s a good thing. But when I came home Friday, Ike didn’t come out to greet me. Seems he’d locked himself in the bedroom. Now, this may have been intentional; it means Ike got the bed and didn’t have to share it with the dog. But he still seemed pleased to get out when I opened the door.

Of course, Ike still was closing doors this morning, so I don’t have to worry about him getting too smart.

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Staying up late

So, I finally got a test graded for my Concepts of Programming Languages class, very very late last night.

In a way this is good. Now, of course, the teacher in me says it’s good because I will be able to give feedback to my students in a timely manner and all that good teacher stuff. But most of them won’t read it. This test sorta gives me proof of that. Three questions came, almost completely verbatim, from the last test and the quiz the week before. And they still got those questions wrong. But I didn’t feel bad for them as I was grading it.

But no, this is good because it’s another sign of normalcy. I had a horrible habit of staying up late to get grading done before I got sick, and I’m back to it.

Of course, it’s bad also. It could be a sign that I haven’t learned a damn thing. (But really, I have; I saw my doctor this week for a physical and I’m doing everything right as far as preventative tests go.) And getting 4 or 5 hours sleep isn’t all that good either. (And I’m sitting in on an Honor Council hearing this evening and it doesn’t look good if the faculty advisor falls asleep, but the kids are so energetic, that won’t be a problem.)

But staying up late has other advantages. I walk Linus right before bedtime and by the time I got to bed last night, nature had reclaimed the neighborhood. Usually, this just means a neighbor cat is prowling our sidewalk (and Linus, watchdog that he is, almost never notices) or an armadillo is strolling around. But last night, it meant there were three deer grazing across the street. I kept Linus from running across the yard and we ended up at the corner, with me watching them and him sniffing things out, and both of us wondering why the other wasn’t fascinated by what we were observing. The deer watched us carefully, but weren’t scared by the small wolf I had on a leash, so didn’t run away.

It was a beautiful moment and almost worth the exhaustion that’s going to hit this afternoon.

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