Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A Song A Day

Well, it's been a while since I last posted here. I recently found out that people actually read this thing, so I guess I should put up some new content. And because I'm much too lazy at the moment to write anything more involved, here's a post inspired by my recent Facebook antics.

I thought it would be fun to post a song lyric for every day of the week. This is an idea I stole from my roommate, who was tinkering with the idea of having a seperate ring tone for each day of the week. I limited the selection to songs with the day in the title, so while "easy like Sunday morning" is a great lyric, the actual name of the song is just "Easy" and wouldn't work. It was a lot of fun picking out a song for each day and was neat to see which days had more songs associated with them. I think Monday had the most songs, followed closely by Tuesday. Wednesday surprised me with a wider selection than I initially thought.

And so, I give you my list of a song a day. I'd be interested in seeing your lists in the comments.

Monday - Rainy Days and Mondays - The Carpenters
"Nothing to do but frown. Rainy days and Mondays always get me down."

Monday probably had the widest variety to choose from. Runners up include Manic Monday by The Bangles, I Don't Like Mondays by The Boomtown Rats, and New Moon On Monday by Duran Duran.

Tuesday - Ruby Tuesday - Rolling Stones
"Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday. Who could hang a name on you?"

Tuesday is another day with lots to choose from. Runners up include Tuesday's Gone by Lynyrd Skynyrd and Tuesday Afternoon by The Moody Blues.

Wednesday - Waiting for Wednesday - Lisa Loeb
"I'm waiting for Wednesday to show you goodbye. I don't want to be here, to show you goodbye."

My other options were Wednesday Morning, 3AM, by Simon and Garfunkle and Wednesday Week by Elvis Costello.

Thursday - Thursday's Child - David Bowie
"Throw me tomorrow. Only for you I don't regret that I was Thursday's child."

There's not a lot to work with here. The only other song I could think of was Thursday Afternoon by Henry Rollins and I wasn't feeling that screamy.

Friday - Friday I'm in Love - The Cure
"I don't care if Monday's Blue, Tuesday's grey, and Wednesday, too. Thursday I don't care about you. It's Friday, I'm in love."

Runner up: Good Mourning/Black Friday by Megadeath. Again, I just wasn't feeling that angry.

Saturday - Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting) - Elton John
"Cause Saturday night's the night I like. Saturday night's alright, alright, alright"

Plenty to choose from here. Runners up include Saturday Night Special by Lynyrd Synyrd and Another Saturday Night by Jimmy Buffet. Note that the terrible S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y night! song by The Bay City Rollers isn't on here, because, well, because it's terrible. And obnoxious.

Sunday - Sunday, Monday or Always - Bing Crosby
"If you're satisfied I'll be at your side, Sunday, Monday, or always"

Runners up include Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2, Beautiful Sunday by Ted Nugent, and Gloomy Sunday, supposedly one of the most depressing songs in the world. There's been about a bazillion covers, but I like the Billie Holiday version.

And there you have it, my week in song. I'd love to see your lists in the comments.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Manos: The Hands of Fate

There is going to be a geek-tastic Halloween this year. After watching the MST3K episode featuring "Manos" The Hands of Fate (The gratuitous quotation marks are in the title. Seriously.), BlueMule commissioned me to create for him his very own Manos robe.
Here's the inspiration picture.

And here's my version, done in polar fleece. It should keep him nice and warm while taking the boy trick or treating.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Apple Of My Eye

How does everyone feel about a gratuitous baby post? My niece is nearly 10 months old and is possibly the cutest kid on the planet. She recently learned how to say "hi". Ain't she sweet?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Phrases I Fear

There are certain phrases people say that set of red flags and warning bells in my head.

When someone utters the words "I know it's not politically correct..." I know that what immediately follows is going to be offensive.

Beginning your argument with "Everyone knows", "Some say", or "It is suggested" tells me that what's about to come out of your mouth is so crazy, I not only need a tinfoil hat to understand it, but also a whole tinfoil suit.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thank You, Ladies

On August 26th, 1920, the 19th Amendment went into effect, giving women the right to vote in the United States. I think that it is amazing to think that less than 100 years ago, women did not have the right to vote in this country.

In 1878, following 4 days of testimony by Susan B. Anthony before Congress, a constitutional amendment was proposed that provided "The right of citizens to vote shall not be abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." This same amendment would be introduced in every session of Congress for the next 41 years, before finally passing in 1919.

After the passing in the 19th amendment, the long and arduous process of ratification by the states began. The amendment would need the the support of at least 36 states. By 1920, with a number of states adamantly opposed to the amendment, it all came down to Tennessee. It appeared that the amendment might fail by one vote in the Tennessee house, but twenty four year old Harry Burns surprised observers by casting the deciding vote for ratification. At the time of his vote, Burns had in his pocket a letter he had received from his mother urging him, "Don't forget to be a good boy" and "vote for suffrage."
The Equal Rights Amendment, which would eliminate any discrimination based on sex, was introduced in 1923. It finally passed in 1972, but was only ratified by 35 of the necessary 38 states.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Headline Fail

This is old, but still funny. An article in the LA Times from 1995 actually ran with this headline

It's not as bad as it seems. It turns out the councilwoman's name was actually Laura Chick. I wonder if any editors actually paused over that copy.

Another Reason Why I Loathe PETA

I like animals, I really do. And as a conscious carnivore, I understand where PETA is coming from. I just really abhor the way they go about spreading their message. It's like there's no filtering or editing at all when it comes to their PR department.

Let's see...we've had about a zillion versions of naked ladies in the 'I'd rather go naked then wear fur' ad campaign (never naked men, because we all know 'sex sells'), a banned Superbowl ad featuring naked ladies rubbing themselves with vegetables, naked ladies in cages, naked ladies wrapped in plastic (are you sensing a theme?), the relatively benign but ridiculous 'sea kittens', a Holocaust On Your Plate, an attempt to buy advertising on the border fence (the ad read "If the Border Patrol Doesn't Get You, the Chicken and Burgers Will — Go Vegan"), and, completing the racial insensitivity trifecta, dressing up in KKK costumes to protest a dog show. Oh, and, closer to home, we have the Ben and Jerry's breast milk debacle.

Now, PETA, in all it's wisdom, brings us this gem of a billboard in Jacksonville, FL.

I'll give you a minute to let the horror sink in.

It gets better. From PETA's press release:

“Trying to hide your thunder thighs and balloon belly is no day at the beach,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA has a free ‘Vegetarian Starter Kit’ for people who want to lose pounds while eating as much as they like.
Seriously. I don't have a lot of coherent thoughts about this, but I'll try. If I saw that ad, especially if I was on my way to the beach, I'd probably burst into tears. It's one thing to say 'maybe a lot of Americans should consider a healthier vegetarian diet as an alternative to consuming so much unhealthy industrial meat' and quite another thing to say 'fat people are whales!' My brother couldn't understand why when we spent the day at a water park, I walked around with my beach towel firmly wrapped around my waist as soon as I got out of the water. I'm mostly OK with my large body these days, but there is still the tormented, insecure, fat child inside of me that takes crap like this too personally.

So, yeah. Not only does vegetarian = thin and thin = healthy, but apparently, as long as it's vegetarian, you can eat anything you want and still be model thin. Deceiver compiled a wonderful list of vegetarian and vegan foods that definitely won't make you fat. Vegan options include french fries, onion rings, samosas, soy venti frappuccinos, soda, and beer. Non-vegan vegetarian options include ice cream, cupcakes, Twinkies, pizza (I've had some vegan pizza, so this could go on the vegan list, too), funnel cake, potato skins, nachos, and fettuccine alfredo.

Now, I understand that PETA deliberately makes these ads to 'create controversy' (good lord, I hate that phrase). It's always been an ends justify the means method of advertising with them. Their antics make people really dislike them, including most of the vegetarians/vegans that I know. It turns people off from animal rights and lumps animal rights activists in with these crazy but very vocal people.

I even feel some pangs of guilt just mentioning their ads, as it only gives them the attention that they want. You know, the whole all press is good press thing. It's a loosing situation, though, because if you talk about it, you're giving them what they want, but if you just ignore them, than you're giving them a pass on all the BS they produce in an attempt to garner attention.

The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that PETA might really be a front for the American Meat Institute or something. Nothing, and I mean nothing, makes people want to go out and eat a couple pounds of hamburger as much as PETA does. Or maybe that's just me.

UPDATE: I've been informed that I actually used the term 'animal rights' inappropriately. The definition of animal rights from Wikipedia:

Animal rights, also referred to as animal liberation, is the idea that the most basic interests of animals should be afforded the same consideration as the similar interests of human beings. Advocates approach the issue from different philosophical positions but agree that animals should be viewed as legal persons and members of the moral community, not property, and that they should not be used as food, clothing, research subjects, or entertainment.

The term I should have been using is 'animal welfare'. Animal welfare deals with improving the lives of animals, including things like supporting no-kill shelters and humane farming. Here is the definition of animal welfare, also from Wikipedia.

Animal welfare refers to the viewpoint that it is morally acceptable for humans to use nonhuman animals for food, in animal research, as clothing, and in entertainment, so long as unnecessary suffering is avoided. The position is contrasted with the animal rights position, which holds that other animals should not be used by, or regarded as the property of, humans.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Regina Benjamin or Why 'You're Ugly' Is Not A Political Argument

Regina Benjamin has been nominated by Barack Obama for Surgeon General. This is going to be a really important role to fill, given the current climate in health care and the expected surgence of the H1N1, or swine flu, virus next fall.

By all accounts, she is highly qualified to hold this post. She is a primary care physician, serving a population with a high poverty rate and little to no insurance that often cannot pay. She has gone without a paycheck in order to keep her health clinic running. A New York Times article states that she is owed about $300,000 in back salary. She is the first black woman to sit on the board of directors of the American Medical Association, and she is the first black woman to lead a state medical society, serving as president of the Alabama Medical Association.

So what's the problem? Regina is a bit heftier than some people would like. The argument against her is that, because she would be the figure head American health care, she needs to be the picture of perfect health. The logic then follows that since she is overweight, she is somehow promoting obesity and that she couldn't possibly do a good job as Surgeon General.

So what we have is a highly qualified primary care physician who also holds an MBA in business administration, has sat on the board of directors of the American Medical Association, has led the medical association for her home state of Alabama, and has dedicated her career to providing care for a low income/no insurance population. And the only thing people can talk about is her weight?

I will admit, as a woman, and especially as a fat woman myself, the attacks on Benjamin hit pretty close to home and I took this story more personally then I would otherwise. Bloggers and mainstream news shows speculated about her weight and dress size. It turned into some kind of carnival guess your weight game.

Here, Fox News interviews a douchebag in a 'No Chubbies' T-shirt about why Benjamin's weight is an issue at all.

Various analyses go on to speculate all kinds of things about overweight people. They're lazy. They have no self control. They don't take responsibility for their actions. They're unhealthy. They're somehow "promoting obesity" and won't someone please think of the children. Following that logic to its conclusion, should fat people be barred from any professional job, lest they be a poor role model for others, or should they only be barred from working in health care? On a similar note, would an overweight waitress be a bad thing, because it might send the message that it's ok to overeat?

It's insane. Yes, being overweight does put one at a higher risk for certain health problems - heart disease and diabetes to name a few. As a medical doctor, Regina Benjamin is well aware of the health risks of being overweight. It's impossible to tell from a picture exactly how healthy a person is. Benjamin is certainly a bit heavy, but I wouldn't call her obese. She looks healthy, but then again, you can't tell the state of her health from a picture. As for rest, with as many accomplishments as Dr. Benjamin has, she clearly isn't lazy.

As for providing a poor example of health, I think that she could be an excellent example. For instance, and this is just speculation, if she were to stand up there and say 'I struggle with my weight, too, but one of the cornerstones of being health is to eat a healthy, balanced diet and get plenty of exercise' I think that would be a wonderful role model. It's not a huge secret that eating less crap and moving around more is healthier for you.

Since these vicious news stories have started swirling around about Regina Benjamin, I have been thinking about the kind of bodily scrutiny female politicians are subject to and it's kind of coalesced some thoughts I've had for a while. Even though I am told that sexism doesn't exist anymore, there is still this intangible feeling that women in power get picked apart based on their physical appearance much, much more so than their male counterparts.

Hilary Clinton? Ice queen, fat ankles, old lady, pant suits. She couldn't win. If she wore a skirt, she had cankles. If she wore a pant suit, she was matronly. When she tried to wear a pant suit that wasn't deemed matronly, she was called vulgar. There was no winning. And let's not forget rumors that she and Bill are together for political reasons only, they have a loveless marriage, and she's really a lesbian. Oh, yeah, and she's a ball buster, too.

Remember this?
Chelsea Clinton, just 13 when her father became president, was constantly called ugly. Rush Limbaugh once quipped on his short lived tv show about the White House dog, holding up a picture of Chelsea.

Janet Reno, another Clinton era public figure, was not spared either. Our first female Attorney General was a large woman, being both taller and broader than the average woman. She was constantly called 'manish'. During her confirmation hearings, rumors started flying about her being a lesbian and using call girls, along with drunk driving. Reno denied the rumors and an FBI investigation found nothing to substantiate them, but the lesbian/transsexual rumors continued.

John McCain famously managed to tie all three of the above together as a tasteless joke he told at 1998 Republican fundraiser. "Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno." Just count the many, many ways that joke is wrong, without ever being actually funny. Got your check list out? Good. Let's see...picking on the physical appearance of Chelsea Clinton? Check. Janet Reno is really a man? Check. Hillary Clinton is a lesbian? You got it. Sigh.

It's not just woman on the left. Women on the right haven't fared much better. Ann Coulter, a far right pundit, is often called 'Mann Coulter'. Now, I personally loathe her hate filled work, but calling her 'Mann' is just fighting dirty. First, the insult infers that the most important thing about her is her physical appearance, then it throws in a heaping helping of homophobia. Come on, there are plenty of reasons to not like what Ann Coulter has to say. Her appearance is not one of them.

Being considered attractive leads to the same kind of scrutiny and is just the flip side of the 'you're ugly' coin. 'We still don't want to listen to what you have to say, but we do want to look at you'.

Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of State under George W. Bush, was viewed as a strong, sexy, dominatrix. Sarah Palin, a former beauty queen, was often referred to as 'Caribou Barbie'. There was plenty of 'sexy librarian' references and, to top it all off, Hustler released a porno titled "Who's Nailin' Paylin?", featuring a Sarah Palin lookalike (I'm not linking to the porn, you're going to have to find that one yourself). Again, women in high profile political careers reduced to their physical appearance.

I think a good part of my frustration is that so many people refuse to believe that women are treated differently than men. I challenge anyone to find me an example of a male politician that has gone through as much scrutiny of the physical appearance as these women have. And I don't mean an article here or there on the cost of their haircut (although it does say something about our society that men are not supposed to spend money on their appearance). George W. Bush was accused of a lot of things from deception to incompetence, but his physical appearance was never brought into the fray, one way or the other. Bill Clinton was impeached for lying under oath about his affair with Monica Lewinski, but it was Monica's appearance that was talked about.

There is no winning for women in politics. Either you are too ugly or just another pretty face. Women are told one of two things. Either 'shut up, you ugly bitch', or 'shut up and let me ogle you.' To not agree with someone's politics is one thing, but to just throw out 'you're ugly' is not an argument. It's intellectually lazy and it's something I would expect to hear on a grade school playground.

This Is What I Have To Put Up With

I am one of two people in my organization trained to do anesthesia machine maintenance. There are 26 hospitals in our 3 state region. Every 4 months we do scheduled maintenance on all of the machines. All of this means that there is an awful lot of traveling involved. Basically, 3 times a year I and another tech spend about a month on the road. We alternate weeks so that we're each gone for a week at a time, as opposed to a whole month.

The logistics of traveling to each site means that we need to be portable enough to load things easily in and out of a vehicle. The method that works well is to have 3 hard case tool boxes (they look like small suitcases), one each for test equipment, hand tools, and spare parts, loaded on a foldable rolling cart. I have become the keeper of the anesthesia tool kit. We're tight on space, so we have to be careful when packing things up. It's a bit like playing Tetris to get everything to fit, but if you put it all back neatly, you can easily access everything you need on a regular basis.

I share this tool kit with another tech. I do not know what he does when he's on site, but everytime the anesthesia kit comes back, it's a complete disaster area. I just picture him throwing things around the operating room like the Swedish Chef making a meal.

I talked with the tech the other day about putting things back neatly, especially the hand tools. The tools in question happen to be my own personal tools, and I get a little pissy when they walk away. Now, I asked nicely; I didn't chew him out or anything. I understand that it's late when he's done and he wants to go home, but asked him to please put everything back neatly, including any manuals he might take with him.

So, he says he'll put everything back in it's place when he's done and I send him off to do a repair. The next day, I walk into my office to find this.

Methinks he's messing with me. What you don't see in this picture is that the cart is also in the middle of my office, as opposed to the 3 feet to the right where it fits neatly out of the way against the wall by the cabinet.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

One Week and Counting

In exactly one week, I will be having my eyes burned out with laser beams, or, you know, having Lasik surgery. It will be pretty sweet to be able to role over in bed, look at the alarm clock, and actually be able to read the numbers without squinting.

I've decided that since the whol procedure sounds like the plot to a James Bond movie, when they strap me to the table and point the laser at my head, I'm going to have to ask just what their evil plan is.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Creeptastic Revelation of the Day

Alternate title: No, I Don't Want To Be Your Friend

Back when I had a MySpace account, one of my sister's ex-boyfriends tried to contact me. At the time, I thought it was a little weird, but didn't think too much of it. He had apparently tried to contact her as well, but she wanted none of it; the relationship ended very badly years ago. Also, she is quite happily married now.

I was a little surprised to see that the guy found me on Facebook and tried to contact me. No, dude, I don't want to be your friend. I never knew you very well to begin with. You dated my sister when I was twelve. We don't have old times to rehash. I'm not going to pass on any messages from you to the Sis, who wants nothing to do with you. What could we possibly talk about?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mind the Gap

Well, my quest to be kind to my body and not eat so much crap is starting to pay off. I noticed this morning when I got out of the shower that the towel wraps all the way around me. Yay! No more towel gap.

Ironically, I think I actually consuming more food throughout the day than I did previously. Before, my crappy eating habits led me to eat various crap snacks (like chips and other over processed stuff) and just one real meal a day, so that by the time I got around to eating dinner, I was ravenously hungry. This led me to eat huge amounts of food before bed. Now I'm eating a bowl of cereal in the morning, a small mid morning snack (which I've dubbed my 10am banana), a reasonably healthy lunch, a fairly healthy dinner that I'm still over-portioning, and some kind of sweet dessert at night. Cupcakes are still my downfall, in all their sugary frosting goodness.

Now, if I could just get the hang of that whole moving around more thing. There's just not enough hours in the day. I need to work on not making excuses and just make room in my schedule for a trip to the gym.

It's nice to see some actual results from making healthier choices. I'll resist the urge to celebrate with a cake.

Monday, July 20, 2009

One Small Step

On July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 successfully touched down on the surface of the moon and the world watched as Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. It remains one of our greatest technological achievements.

In honor of the 40th anniversary of the lunar landing, here is some footage from the event. The other astronaut seen in the video is Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot. Michael Collins was the third member of the crew and served as the command module pilot. He remained in orbit as Armstrong and Aldrin became the first humans to land on the moon.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Practice Safe Text

As I mentioned before, I'm trying the online dating thing. So far, it's not working very well. Prior to setting up my account, I sat down with a friend and we came up with a list of things that we need to have in our next relationships. You know, picky things like the guy needs to have a career and stuff like that.

So, after a little bit of the online dating thing, I'm going to add the ability to use proper grammar, capitalization, and punctuation. I never thought to add that quality before. Don't get me wrong, you don't need to be 100% correct all of the time (we all know that I'm not), but please at least make the effort.

Online dating is weird to begin with. The impression that you leave on the other person is left by the words that you type. For me, it's grating on my nerves and a huge turn off if your entire message is in all lower case, all capitals, or, even worse, contains RANDOM capitalization. Gah!

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Definition of Irony

Seen today: a late 70's Ford Pinto with flames airbrushed down the sides. How's that for irony?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

25 Random Things

There's been this thing going around Facebook for awhile where you list off 25 random things about yourself. My thought is why waste this on Facebook, when it will make a perfectly good blog post, where the entire world can read it.

And so, I give to you 25 random things you may or may not have known about me.

  1. I have long hair but I always wear it up.
  2. I absolutely love garlic. Almost too much, sometimes.
  3. My record for moving is 6 times in an 18 month span. I do not want to ever repeat that.
  4. I am not a big fan of onions, but I do like onion dip, onion bagels, leeks, scallions, chives, and other onion like vegetables, and Funyuns.
  5. My favorite snack is cheese and crackers.
  6. My favorite cheese is brie.
  7. By the time I finished all of the requirements for my engineering degree, I was one class short of a math minor, but I just couldn't bring myself to take linear algebra.
  8. While I was in college, my engineering friends would often accuse me of having serious liberal arts tendencies.
  9. I like music, but I am a horrible dancer.
  10. I can't stand discord in music.
  11. I will like almost any song in a minor key.
  12. I spent a big chunk of change on a memory foam bed and think it's one of the best investments that I have ever made.
  13. I shop at farmer's markets
  14. I try to support local businesses, but still find myself shopping at Walmart and other box stores.
  15. I will not date any guy who wears Axe body spray.
  16. I understand where PETA's coming from, but I abhor their advertising campaign.
  17. I am not fond of spiders.
  18. I like words and think that some just sound awesome. Panorama is very fun to say and I wish I could work it into more conversations.
  19. I consider myself a feminist. I don't think that feminist is a dirty word.
  20. I have voted for the Democratic candidate in every presidential election I have voted in.
  21. I love kitty cats but currently do not have one due to apartment living.
  22. I enjoy cooking and think that there is something cathartic about chopping vegetables.
  23. I am a big fan of tea, especially Chinese greens.
  24. I've recently come to terms with the color pink. Girls get pink overload growing up and I've never been terribly 'girly'. But it is a fact that pink looks better than white on people with pale skin.
  25. I rarely get sick. I think it comes from spending my working life in hospitals.


I'm beginning to come across more and more people who are 'proud non-readers'. These are people who read as little as possible and are proud of that fact. They'll say things like 'I haven't read a book since highschool!, usually while wearing a very large grin. I generally want to smack these people with a paperback.

I don't get the attitude. It's one thing to not enjoy reading; everyone has different interests and what I enjoy may not necesarily be what someone else enjoys. I don't see why someone would be proud to not read. I don't really enjoy, say, watching Nascar, but I don't consider myself a proud non-Nascar watcher.

Kanye West, ironically in an interview about the release of his new book, said the most assinine thing.

"Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed. I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book's autograph."

Really? Because I would totally want a book's autograph. That would be so cool, since books are inanimate objects and can't, you know, sign things. I bet a book's autograph would totally be worth more than, say, Kanye West's autograph on eBay. Also, I'm pretty sure books are supposed to be wordy. That's kind of the point.

So what is this masterpiece non-wordy, non-self absorbed literature that Mr. West has produced? It's called Thank You and You're Welcome and is currently selling on Amazon for 8 bucks (Read the reviews. They're priceless). Basically it's a 52 page spiral bound book with Kanye's 'words of wisdom'.

I haven't actually read the book, but from reading online accounts, I'm not missing much. Most of the pages contain a few words or a sentence, some pages are blank (WTF? Blank pages in the middle of the book?), and one two page section contains only "Life is 5% what happens and 95% how you react!", which just sounds to me like a slight modification to the old inspiration vs perspiration saying.

Nope. Definately not wordy. Or terribly meaningful. Does anyone else find it ironic and sad that this guy makes a living as a supposed word-smith in the hip hop word? The best part? For this intricate piece of literature, Kanye needed a ghost writer. Check out the cover. 'Kanye West presents Thank You and You're Welcome with J. Sakiya Sandifer'.

Ugh. His whole attitude makes me cringe and weep for future generations. After reading the interview, the only thing I could think of was a scene in Idiocracy. "Why you keep trying to read that word for? Are you a fag?"

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Freakin' Laser Beams

Well, guys, it's official. As of July 7, I will no longer be wearing glasses. Whoo hoo! I just got the all clear from the retina specialist and scheduled my LASIK surgery yesterday. I am very excited about being drugged up, tied down, and having laser beams shot at me. OK, I'm not really excited about that part, but I am excited to not have to wear glasses or contacts anymore.

Update: Bah! It turns out that there will be no one to cover for me at work in July, so I had to push the Lasik back until August.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Linguam Latinam Dico Similis Romano Antiquo

Well, not really. But I did manage to get a perfect grade on the midterm for my elementary Latin class. Lets see if I can keep it up. Just two more weeks to go.

Monday, June 01, 2009


I must be some kind of masochist, or something, because I am once again subjecting myself to an abbreviated summer course. It's basically an entire semester crammed into 4 weeks. It's brutal. This time around, I'm taking Latin. None of the classes I need for my masters are offered for the summer session, or the fall semester, for that matter. I figure the Latin will help with medical terminology. And because I like words. And because things sound cooler and philosophical when said in Latin.

It took nearly 6 hours (with a small break for dinner and an episode of Next Gen, so more like 5), but as of right now, I'm all caught up on my homework and I just submitted my midterm exam. Phew! Now I just need to take out the recycling and then collapse in bed, so I can get up tomorrow and do it again.

Friday, May 15, 2009

This Makes Me Glad I Bought a HP

I recently bought a new computer. Looking at was available in commercially available systems (I'm not up to the tech level of actually building my own system), my final choice came down to Dell or HP. I ended up going with the HP, mainly because of the price; a similarly configured Dell system ended up being a few hundred bucks more. Plus, HP had better tech support in the pre-purchase phase. I called several times with technical questions, since I was planning on replacing the stock video card.

Why do I bring this up? Before moving on, I wanted to point out that, even as a woman, when shopping for a computer, I take into account what I'll be using it for, the actual technical specifications, and price. I'd imagine that most people do, too.

With that said, computers, and technology products in general, have always been seen as guy things. Dell has launched a new site to try to cater to women, called Della. Seriously, they added an 'a' to the end of the name to make it feminine. The site is just insulting.

First, there is the overlying reference to all things cute. Because we all know that women would buy laptops by the dozen if only they were cuter. This isn't to say that buying a colored laptop is bad; it's, not. Although I'm more of a black and chrome kind of girl myself, I can see how others would like a pink or yellow computer. And some of the overlays really are cool looking. That's not the point, though.

The website has a weird June Cleaver meets Paris Hilton kind of vibe, as noted by Liliputing. The site is filled of pictures of women sitting in fields or surrounded by friends, all wearing outfits strangely color matched to their laptop. The best part is the Tech Tips, where you'll find an array of ways the netbook can improve your life, including tracking your diet, managing your exercise program, finding recipes, and shopping. Yep. It makes me wonder if anyone at Dell has actually talked to a woman.

There is also the assumption that women will only buy a laptop. Strike that, not quite a laptop, a netbook. While the netbook has its place (I'm actually considering getting one for convenience while traveling), why not other products? Are full size laptops too bulky for our quivering girl arms? Are desk tops to scary and testosterone filled for us to understand with our lady brains?

Compare the Della site with the netbook page on the actual Dell site. While it still has the design/choose a color aspect, it also offers much more information about the product. The Dell site has detailed technical specifications and a product comparison. The Della site has accessories.

I get the point of trying to market to people who aren't tech savvy. I also get the point of trying to market to women who might be intimidated by technology. Online tech forums are vicious towards women. I've seen women get ganged up on and basically called a stupid bitch for the crime of asking a question. Which is odd, since isn't that kind of the point of a tech forum? Men, or at least those with masculine screen names, are generally not subjected to that treatment. So, yeah, I can see how women would want a safe space and some women friendly advertising, and how Dell would want to market that.

The execution falls short. Dell manages to offend their female costumers. Even if we're not tech savvy, we're not stupid. Simultaneously, Dell also pigeon holes the netbook as chick tech, which also means that it's too feminine for guys to use. Wouldn't that cut off about half of their customer base?

Advertisement fail.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

At Least I won't Get Scurvy

I've been trying to be good to my body. Even though I've started drinking caffeine again, I'm keeping it at a minimum. Lately I've been on a water with lemon kick; just a little lemon juice in my water to give it a kick. This morning I was very heavy handed with the lemon juice. The end of my water bottle is making me pucker up a bit. At least I won't get scurvy. Arr!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Spam, Spam, Spam, and More Spam

Sometimes, the subject lines in spam messages are really amusing. For example, a little while ago spammers were using random word generators to create their subject lines and get around the current filters. These always brought a smile to my face, because they were always the strangest combination of random words just crammed together. I would see something like 'Banana elephant umbrella bridge' pop up in my inbox.

And of course, there were the badly phrased euphemisms, usually for "male enhancement products". My favorites so far: 'Enhance you love weasel!' and 'Make a pyramid in your pants!'. I won't get into a discussion about what this will do to the fit of your slacks, or the inference to a sarcophagus.

Today's spam message of the day is "Your bedroom doesn't smell like intimacy anymore?" Well, no, actually it doesn't, and I kind of like it that way. I'll admit that my bedroom doesn't see a lot of 'intimacy' to begin with, but even if it did, I wouldn't want the room to smell like it did. I mean, I do wash the sheets every so often.

I won't be clicking on whatever link is included, but I think it would be hilarious if this particular piece of spam was advertising scented candles or air freshener.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Freakin' Laser Beams

I am very seriously contemplating laser eye surgery. The thought of never having to wear glasses or contacts again makes me very happy. Unfortuantely, LASIK is still considered elective surgery and is not covered by my insurance, meaning that I will be paying for this out of pocket. Now that I've finally got someone to talk price with me, I'm looking at about $3K for the whole thing, including the pre-op exam, surgery for both eyes, and post-op follow up. That's a huge chunk of change, but I think I can scrape it up by the end of the summer. Actually, compared to the cost of a new pair of glasses, contact lenses, and eye exams, LASIK should pay for itself in a few years.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Sign of the Times

This morning, instead of warning about construction on Route 7, a local highway sign warned commuters of the coming zombie invasion. Colchester police are investigating.

Apparently, the sign cycled through 3 different message - "Eff Swine Flu", "Zombie Invasion!!!!!", and "Turn Back !!!!!"

Personally, I think it's freaking hilarious, although I'll have to take away some style points for excessive use of exclamation marks. I need to find someone who commutes that way to get their take.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Northern Girl's Take on Okra

Last night I tried okra for the first time. My roommate is from Texas and had mentioned that he hadn't had okra in a long time. In a serendipitous turn of events, I came across a recipe for 'oven fried' (ie breaded and baked) okra in one of my Cooking Light cookbooks, and then found fresh okra at the grocery store.

Okra is a strange little vegetable. It looks something like a cross between a pepper and a cucumber. And it's fuzzy. On the plus side, they're fairly small and easy to work with, similar in size, shape, and texture to a jalopeno pepper. Except they're fuzzy. That seems to be one of their defining characteristics.

I cut my okra into bite sized pieces, so basically halves and thirds for the size I was working with. The inside looks similar to a pepper as well, with the seeds around a central core. Okra is not hot and the seeds and core are soft enough that you don't need to take them out. When cut, okra oozes like an aloe plant, but not as sticky. I can see why this vegetable would turn slimy when boiled. I tried a piece raw and thought it was bitter. And fuzzy. Did I mention fuzzy?

The okra I made didn't come out very good. The cornmeal breading was too hard and the okra itself was a little dry and unflavorful. I think this happened because the okra finished before the rest of the meal and I was trying to keep it warm. I think I left it in the oven too long and dried it out. Cooked, okra is much less bitter and lacks the fuzzy texture.

Overall, I wasn't very impressed, although I think that the problem had more to do with my execution rather than the taste of the okra itself. I'd like to give okra another try, breading and frying it as it is more traditionally prepared. I'll postpone the verdict on okra until then.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fun With Vegetables

It's a known fact that I'm trying to eat healthier. I'm also trying to branch out, culinarily. I'm pretty confident that I've got the basics down, but there is a lot of stuff out there that I've never tried. My new mission is to cook and eat as many different types of produce as possible. You know, the vegetables that you see all the time in the grocery store, but walk right on by.

For the last few weeks I've been experimenting with the leafy greens. I like spinach, and I've used it as a jumping off point. So far I've tried chard, kale, broccoli rabe, and bok choy. While looking up recipes for these vegetables, I've noticed that they follow the same basic technique, blanching and then sauteing, preferably with garlic.

Tonight's meal was chicken with root vegetables. It was really cold and damp today, and this seemed like one of the last chances to try this recipe before next winter (I've always considered root vegetables to be a winter thing). I did a medley of onion, turnip, rutabaga, butternut squash, and parsnip. The recipe I used required everything to be peeled and cubed. That was a lot of prep. I wish to never chop a rutabaga ever again. It's big, and round, and really difficult to cut. It very nearly won the fight. The squash didn't want to cut, either. I think I may need to invest in a better knife set if I'm going to keep this up.

Aside from the prep, this meal came together really quickly. Just brown the chicken, saute the veggies, and then return the chicken to the veggies and let the whole thing simmer for twenty minutes. And bonus for only using one pan. It tasted good and looked pretty on the plate. The drawback is the excessively long prep time. However, I occasionally see cubed squash in the salad section at the grocery store. If some of the other veggies come in prepared form, this would be a good meal to put in the weekday line up. Or possibly if someone was better at cutting up veggies, the prep wouldn't take as long.

Next up to try is okra. The roommate is a Texan transplant and mentioned the other day that he was kind of craving okra, since it doesn't get served in Vermont very often. when I went shopping earlier, I happened to find some fresh okra. I'll let you know how it is.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Food Cravings

AS most of you know, I gave up chocolate as a New Year resolution. It's cut back on my sweets consumption some (Ferrero Rochers mock me at the check out stand), for the most part I've just shifted which sweets I eat. For example, instead of ice cream sandwiches, I now have orange creamsicles.

Last night was the first time in the 4 months that I've been chocolate free that I really wanted some. The roommate and I do laundry at a laundromat. While the clothes are in the drier, we walk across the street to the Friendly's and grab dinner. On the menu was a hot chocolate sundae - chocolate ice cream with whipped cream, mini marshmallows, and Swiss cocoa, all served in a mug, too. It sounded really, really good and I almost broke my chocolate fast. I am happy to report that I did triumph over temptation, with a little help from some maple walnut ice cream.

Today I am randomly craving peanut butter. Why? I have no idea.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Changing Taste

It's funny how tastes change over time. I haven't been eating out as much, for a variety of reasons, including wanting to eat a healthier diet and to improve my cooking skills. Since I've really gotten good (I think I'll pat my own back a little bit more) I've discovered that eating out isn't as exciting. Today, however, I just couldn't stand another day of leftovers from Easter dinner. I was going to make a ham sandwich for lunch this morning and I just couldn't. I grabbed a sandwich at the local deli instead. While I was there, I decided that the small bag of Cheetos sounded really good. I used to love Cheetos, in all their day-glo orange goodness. The first couple of bites were really good. And then...well, it just wasn't as good as I had remembered. Now I think they're way too salty and left me with a weird coated mouth feeling. Hmmm....must be too many vegetables in my diet, screwing up my taste for processed food.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

This Time I Definitely Cheated

On Saturday, Purple Girl had her birthday bash. I brought the cake. Two cakes to be exact; there were a lot of people. I got a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, since I didn't want to impose my chocolate ban on everybody else. I also brought a yellow cake with vanilla frosting, for people like me who didn't want chocolate. As I was cutting the cake, I got some of the chocolate frosting on my fingers. At that point, instinct kicked in, and without even thinking, the finger with the chocolate frosting blob was in my mouth. Oops. The roommate says it doesn't count, because it wasn't something I had done on purpose, it was a small amount of frosting, and it was more sugar than chocolate. I like that theory, and I'm going to run with it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

In Her Easter Best

I'm a proud aunt, and there has been a general lack of baby pics on this here blog. Here's some cuteness for your Monday. This is the niece in her cute little Easter dress. The bro picked it out himself. Unfortunately, bro and family couldn't make it to my place for Easter, so they sent pictures instead. Isn't she the cutest?

Happy Easter

Happy Easter everybody! I would say happy spring, but it snowed here yesterday. Luckily it didn't stick. Today is sunny but deceptively cool. I keep the faith that there will be warm weather eventually.

So, on to Easter weekend. Purple Girl had her 40th birthday bash on Saturday. She went all out, rented a hall (the local VFW) and hired a dj and everything. It was pretty snazzy. The roommate and I helped set up and made a lot of little sandwiches. A lot of people brought a dish to share; as it turned out, there was enough yummy food to feed a small army.

The birthday party was brought to you by the letter S. According to the invite, you were supposed to dress in a style that started with the letter S. It was a pretty broad category and people had fun with it. There was a scarecrow, a pair of Siamese twins, a sinner and a saint, a couple of people in stripes, and even Santa Claus. The roommate was a sharp dressed man, wearing his suit. I was had a harder time coming up with an idea (Satin shirt? Slacks? Shoes?). I ended up pulling the cool mandarin style dress that I never have an excuse to wear out of the closet. My theme was Shanghai. I think there were pictures taken and I'll post when I find them.

Sunday was Easter. I used it as a good excuse to make a big meal and use the fancy dishes. The roommate and I hosted Purple Girl, her roommate, and another friend. I was proud of my meal. I made the requisite Easter ham, glazed with pineapple and orange juice (and no, it was neither pressed, nor were there any moons over my hammy). I was going to get a ham from a local farm, since I'm trying to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, and support local farms. There were none available, so I went with the supermarket variety. It was still tasty. The meal was rounded out with mashed potatoes, asparagus, and green beans. I also made carrot soup as an appetizer (it's good, trust me). And we had left over birthday cake for dessert. Overall, the little dinner party went smoothly.

I've decided I like an excuse to cook a feast. We even got to use the new fancy plates that the roommate bought. We had napkin rings and everything. I felt very sophisticated. I must be turning domestic in my old age.

After everyone had left, and the kitchen was cleaned up (thanks for helping with the dishes, Purple Girl!) I sat on the couch and enjoyed the silence. It was nice. I like my friends (obviously) and I'm glad they came over. It was really nice to have silence after the happy chaos that comes from having a house full of people.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


Tonight's agenda includes eating pasta and watching Jeopardy. My life is exciting.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Something I Will Never Try

Watching TV last night, I same an ad for something called Kickbutt Energy Ballz. Yup. You read that right. The roommate and I just looked at each other and laughed. This is even better than the bottle of Screaming Energy that he bought. He hasn't taken it yet, though, because we're afraid that it will make him run screaming down the street.

I'm certain Kickbutt Energy Ballz is a product that I will never try. There are many reasons why, but here are the ones that jumped out at me.

  • First, it's another crappy energy product. Granted, it's in candy form as opposed to drink form, but I like my kidneys.
  • The name. I will not consume anything with both the words butt and balls in the title.
  • Misspelled word in the title. Calling the product energy balls would be bad enough. This thing is so crazy, that it's not just balls, it's ballz.
  • They're trying too hard to be edgy. Because their ballz have attitude. How is a product supposed to have attitude? Maybe they tried emo ballz, but they just made you sit around and mope.
  • Creatine is listed among its ingredients. Ever been around someone bulking up with creatine? It gives them some foul gas.
  • Looking at their website, they like to throw around the word 'ballz' a little too much. Try our ballz! Our ballz taste great! Would you like to sell our ballz? No. I don't want your ballz anywhere near me.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Glass is Half Full

After all the horrible news about the economy, who doesn't want some good news? Looking at the lighter side of unemployment, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis - St. Paul ran the headline "Lost jobs add up to speedier commute". Now that's some optimistic thinking.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Target Audience?

I recently got an account with eHarmony. Please don't laugh. So far it's not too bad. Internet dating sites are kind of weird anyway. There is one very disturbing part, and that is the advertising that pops up every time I log off. eHarmony apparently thinks that I'm fat and wrinkly. I see a lot of weight loss product and wrinkle cream ads. I wonder what the target audience is. Women who feel insecure because they're single? It's silly and a blow to the ego all at the same time. They occasionally throw in an ad for some self-help website that has articles titled 'How to catch and keep a guy'. I'm not sure about anyone else, but I don't really want to 'catch' a guy; I'd prefer it if he came willingly. I wonder if the guys are subjected to similar advertisements.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I May or May Not Have Cheated

It depends on what your definition of 'is' is.

But seriously, I may have cheated on my New Year's resolution to give up chocolate for a year. I have had red velvet cake on a two occasions now, in what I thought was a good alternative to a chocolate dessert. It turns out that depending on which recipe was used, red velvet cake may contain cocoa powder. So, just to be safe, no more red velveet cake. [Shakes fist] Foul temptress cake and your smooth, red deliciousness!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spectacle of Sin

As part of her birthday celebration, one of my friends wants to go to the Spectacle of Sin event at Higher Ground this Friday. The show features music from Amadis, a local metal band, so that's good, but it's also a fetish/BDSM dance party, which I think I would find slightly annoying. These days, I'm much more neurotic than I am erotic.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Vermont and Marriage Equality

In 2000, Vermont became the first state to allow civil unions. Today, the Vermont Senate voted to legalize same sex marriage. The vote passed with a 26-4 margin. The vote now moves on to the House, where it is also expected to pass. Governor Douglas has stated that he does not support the bill, but it is unclear whether or not he'll veto it. Even if he does veto, it's likely that the Senate will override.

I've heard several arguments against allowing same sex marriage, but I have yet to hear anything persuasive. I am open to a legitimate argument, however I think that this is a case where there is no real case for the opposition.

The most common argument, by far, is on religious grounds. 'It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve'. Sorry to break it to you guys, but the US is not a theocracy, no matter how much you may want it to be. I do not want to get into a theological argument (I do not want to dump on anyone's beliefs and also I would probably lose that argument anyway, me not being particularly religious). Just keep in mind that our laws are not supposed to be based on any religion.

The religious argument is often followed with 'but they have civil unions, why do they need marriage'. Because a civil union is not the same thing as marriage. Because separate really isn't equal. A case in point, I once tried to help a civil unioned couple do their taxes. It was a nightmare. They had to file their federal taxes as single, since the federal government does not recognize civil unions. Since the state tax return is based on the federal tax return, they then had to fill out a mock federal return as if they were married and use that to complete their state return. That is just one example of the many, many ways that denying the name 'marriage' puts civil unions on unequal ground.

Another common argument against same sex marriage is that it somehow makes a mockery of heterosexual marriage. I have never been told how. I don't think anyone knows. We are all just supposed to agree that a gay couple getting married somehow makes the loving marriage between a man and women somehow not as legitimate. I need to take a poll of people who were married prior to 2000, the year civil unions were passed in Vermont, followed by subsequent same sex marriage acts in a handful of other states. So, people who have been married 9 years or more, do you feel that your marriage took a hit when gays were allowed to marry? Is your marriage less special to you?

And then we come to the other argument against gay marriage: what about the children? The argument goes that men marrying men and women marrying women is just not natural. They're not going to produce children, so why are they bothering to get married? And then the argument devolves into something along the lines of 'you might as well marry a goat'. It's a silly argument. There are plenty of married heterosexual couples who do not have children for one reason or the other. My sister is child free by choice, and yet her marriage is still legitimate. My 58 year old widowed mother is now engaged to a man in his seventies. If they ever do get married, I don't think that they will be having any children. As for marrying animals, that's just silly. Animals, farm or otherwise, cannot consent to legal documents. Homosexual adults, on the other hand, can consent and do have legal rights.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Doing Financially Well During a Recession

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last year or so, the U.S. is in the middle of an economic crunch. Personally, I have fared pretty well so far. I would go so far as to say that I’m doing ‘good’. Certainly, I’m in the best financial shape of my life so far. I still want to improve this in the future, but for right now, I’m doing pretty good.

I understand that as I write these words, I am speaking from a position of privilege. Not everyone has had the opportunities that I have had, and not everyone has fared as well through the current economic crisis. Just bear with me, as I get out some thoughts that have been floating around my head for a couple of months.

Looking around at current news, it seems that it is assumed that everyone in this country is down on their luck. Thousands of people have lost their jobs and we’re hitting double digit unemployment rates. I am not one of those people. Should I feel guilty for doing well financially when it seems everyone else is having such a hard time? Intellectually, I know that the answer is no. I’m not living high on the hog by any means, but I still have a nagging voice in my head when I spend money on ‘luxury items’, such as blu-ray movies or the new computer that I just purchased.

As am example, I was talking with an acquaintance about the new computer. The question of games came up, and I admitted that while I’ll be using the new system for some actual work, I picked out components specifically geared towards playing games, which increased the price significantly. He than made the comment that it must be nice to have money to throw around. I mumbled something and ended the conversation.

My first reaction following that conversation was to second guess myself and try to figure out if I was flaunting my money. No, I wasn't. Somehow the conversation had turned to computers and I mentioned that I had just purchased a new one and that it hadn't arrived yet. The conversation progressed from there. So, yes, it is nice to have some money, but I fail to see why I should pretend to be hurt by the economic crunch when I am not.

Perhaps the theory is that we need to show solidarity with others who are less fortunate and are going through hard times. I find that to be complete bullsh*t. My pretending to struggle financially isn't going to do anyone any good and it probably won't make anyone feel any better, other than in a miserly loves company kind of way.

So why the everyone must be down on their luck attitude? I have come to the conclusion, and I may be completely off base here, that the people hardest hit by the economic downturn are people accustomed to a higher standard of living than I am. I also have a hunch that this is why it has been dominating the news so much. Things get silly when we try to put on struggling airs.

Magazines are filled with articles offering 'money saving tips'. Some of the tips are good, some are silly, and all are aimed at the middle to middle-upper class; people with less money have already learned how to make it stretch and have little else to cut from their budgets.

We now have the phrase 'staycation', meaning people can't afford to take a 'real' vacation and instead stay home during their time off. This, of course, assumes two things; first, that you have a job that allows you to take (assumedly paid) time off, and second, that you could previously afford a yearly trip. I have come to realize that most of my vacations have been 'staycations'.

To top things off, human interest stories abound, all showing previously well off people who have hit hard times. This usually involves a lovely family standing outside of the home that they can no longer afford, with a giant SUV in the driveway, talking about the impending foreclosure of their home. Now, it may be because I am currently very frustrated with my inability to afford my own home, but, seriously? It's never a struggling family that purchased a modest home. It's always a huge house in a lovely neighborhood.

I remember seeing a human interest story last summer on the local news. It involved boaters on Lake Champlain who could no longer afford to buy fuel for their gas guzzling boats. Instead, these poor people were forced to hang out in their boats at the marina, as opposed to tooling around the lake. The story was meant to garner sympathy, but it had the opposite reaction in me.

The thoughts that I'm struggling with are that I, personally, have not been hit by the recession, and for that fact I'm told that I should feel guilty. I also fail to see how pretending to be hurt financially will do anyone any good. Finally, I find it silly and pretentious who we point to as evidence of economic hard times.

I'm interested to hear other people's thoughts on this.

When Religion and Healthcare Collide

During his recent trip to Africa, Pope Benedict XVI made the statement that condoms may worsen the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

“You can't resolve it with the distribution of condoms," the pope told reporters aboard the Alitalia plane heading to Yaounde. "On the contrary, it increases the problem."

Instead, Benedict recommends abstinence and “a responsible and moral attitude toward sex” in order to combat the disease. That’s nice. Tell that to the 22 million people living in Africa with HIV.

I really wish that a spiritual leader, supposedly with the best of intentions, would think a little before making asinine comments. First, this wasn’t some offhand comment answering a question on the spot. The questions were submitted beforehand, so the answers were probably prepared as well. Second, not everyone has the ability to abstain from sex, women in particular. And lastly, if Benedict had simply stated his stance that Catholicism does not accept the use of contraceptives, I would have less of a problem with his statement. However, he goes on to say that condoms will increase the AIDS problem, despite all evidence to the contrary.

I have never understood the Catholic Church’s outright ban on contraceptives. I recall a vague reference to a story in Genesis (Genesis 38, to be exact. I just had to look it up). Onan’s brother has been slain by God for being ‘wicked’. Onan’s father than orders him to sleep with his brother’s wife widow in order to produce an heir. Instead of impregnating her, he pulls out and ‘spills his seed upon the ground’. God gets mad at the shenanigans and kills Onan, as well. The Catholic Church interprets the story as every sperm is sacred. I would interpret the story to be trying to tell you not to disobey God.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Everyone Pretend You're Irish Day

Break out the Jameson's, put on some green, and pour yourself a black and tan. It's St. Patrick's Day, the day when everyone pretends that they're Irish. I must admit, I have some fond memories of going downtown on St. Patrick's Days past. Of course, at that time of my life, I didn't really need much of an excuse to drink, either. Today I didn't wear a lick of green, but then again, I can't claim any Irish blood, either. I think that my Ipod must have remembered the day or something, because with the Ipod on random, one after the other, I heard Leahy, Dropkick Murphys, and Flogging Molly.

A Public Service Announcement

When someone looks you up on Facebook, it does not obligate you to accept their friend request.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Plus One to Baking Skill

This morning I awoke in a strange mood. I was in the mood to cook.

Ten days ago a friend had given me the starter for some Amish friendship bread and after a week of mushing the bag, today was the day that I was supposed to bake the bread. A quick look in the cupboard revealed that I needed to take a trip to the grocery store (How old is this baking powder? Maybe I should pick up a new can.) I also decided that since I was picking up eggs anyway, I might as well use them up and cook a big breakfast.

When I returned home, I discovered that one of my friends had called and invited me to breakfast. It was tempting, but I had just formed my grand plan for the day and was going to stick to it. I told her that she was welcome to come over for breakfast and hang out while I did some baking. She was a little dubious, considering the level of my baking skills, but showed up anyway.

After breakfast, I got the bread in the oven. After that I had the strange urge to bake some cookies. I had one lonely little egg left and found a good cookie recipe that would allow me to use it up. I ended up making peanut butter oatmeal cookies. I think that they're tasty, but the roommate is more indifferent; he doesn't really care for oatmeal cookies in general.

When all was done, I realized that I had spent most of the day cooking. Everything came out good. I feel a bit better about my baking skills than I did before, but I still feel like I need some practice. I was just happy that I managed to make cookies that didn't completely suck.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Capital Idea

After last week's rant on grammar, I've come to the conclusion that I am not, indeed, the world's worst speller. There are several people that I work with that far outshine me in that category. I've also discovered just how much blatantly improper grammar disturbs me. I've noticed two things that show up in emails that make them particularly difficult to read, both a lack of capitalization and proper punctuation.

Today let's talk about our friend, the capital letter. The capital letter, sometimes known as a big letter, should appear at the beginning of a sentence or a proper name. The word 'I', a pronoun referring to yourself, is always capitalized, and no, I do not know why. Please, for the sake of your reader's sanity, hit the shift key on the keyboard. It's not too hard.

The other issue is a lack of punctuation. The period, the little dot at the end of the sentence, lets you know that the thought is over. You would think that we're in the midst of a period shortage or something. Trust me, you won't use them all up. I should know. I like to use short, choppy sentences, yet I always manage to find enough periods to throw in my writing.

To illustrate my point, I've rewritten the above paragraphs, taking out the capital letters, punctuation, and line breaks. See how difficult it is to read.

after last week's rant on grammar i've come to the conclusion that i am not indeed the world's worst speller here are several people that i work with that far outshine me in that category i've also discovered just how much blatantly improper grammar disturbs me i've noticed two things that show up in emails that make them particularly difficult to read both a lack of capitalization and proper punctuation today let's talk about our friend the capital letter the capital letter sometimes known as a big letter should appear at the beginning of a sentence or a proper name the word 'i', a pronoun referring to yourself is always capitalized and no i do not know why please for the sake of your reader's sanity hit the shift key on the keyboard it's not too hard the other issue is a lack of punctuation the period the little dot at the end of the sentence lets you know that the thought is over you would think that we're in the midst of a period shortage or something trust me you won't use them all up i should know i like to use short choppy sentences yet i always manage to find enough periods to throw in my writing.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Back on the Road

My car is out of the shop and back home. Yay! All things considered, the entire repair process was relatively painless. Jon at The Autobahn was really helpful throughout the whole thing. He helped me with the insurance process, let me know about Vermont's no fault liability law, and took care of the rental as well. The repair took a couple of days longer than originally planned, but there was also more damage than they originally thought. The car looks sharp. It's back in its pristine shiny condidtion, so now any scratches that get put on are my fault.

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Change We Voted For

After just over a month in the White House, and with conseratives and liberals alike fretting about Obama not delivering on his campaign promises, Obama is quietly ushering in some much needed policy changes. In a move that made many doctors, researchers, and science minded people very happy, President Obama has lifted the ban on funding for stem cell research.

"Barack Obama, US president, on Monday made another decisive break from the Bush years by overturning a ban on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research and promising to remove all ideology from scientific studies.

In a landmark policy change that angered anti-abortion groups, Mr Obama signed an order to permit public money to be used for research that scientists hope will produce cures for a range of serious conditions such as Parkinson’s."

I like science. I think we should fund research that has such potential for doing so much good. I also think that it was complete and utter bull sh*t when then President Bush did a press conference surrounded by adorable children that had been born with the help of embryo implantation. It gave a scewed view of where stem cells come from. Yes, stem cells come from human embryos, but the embryos used are often 'left overs' from fertility clinics slated for destruction. It made sense to use these, but, instead, we got a wedge issue, painting an image of embryo farms and scientists murdering children. I am so glad that the ban has been lifted.

Friday, March 06, 2009

It's Alive!

I have managed to install the new video card. I'm now running a screaming fast nVidia GTX 260. Sweet!

Many thanks to Yomper, who very patiently helped me decide what to buy. Thanks also to the roommate, who gave me a hand even though he swore he wouldn't.

I think that the forecast for the weekend is WarHammer, with a chance of Left for Dead.

The Operation Was a Success

I'm feeling brave. I fix medical equipment for a living, so replacing some computer compentents should be a cinch, right? At least, that's the theory that I'm working on. I have never really worked on a computer before, with the exception of upgrading a sound card. My fear is that I'll fry out my new system. But electronics are electronics, and I swap boards all the time at work, so onward I go.

I have successfully replaced the stock power supply with the 650W model that I purchased. I'll need the power later when I install the video card. Ofcourse, 650W is overkill for what I'm going to be running, but it was on sale and ended up costing less than the 550W model that I was looking at. Now I have enough power left over to power a USB waffle iron or something.

Replacing the power supply wasn't too bad, really. The hardest part was taming the massive amount of cables that I didn't use. All systems seem to be functioning normally. Now let's tackle the video card.

A Shiny New Computer

My shiny new computer finally arrived today. I was a little disturbed by the excessively large size of the shipping box. It looked like I might have ordered a server by mistake or something. As it turns out, the computer just wanted some room to stretch out.

I have managed to install the new system and remove the crappy free software that HP insisted on suppling with the system. A little later, if I'm feeling brave, I might try installing the higher wattage power supply and new video card.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

English as a First Language

First off, I am a science and technology person, and we are not known for our writing abilities. Second, I am possibly the world's worst speller. With that said, let's talk about the proper use grammar, especially in a professional setting. While I am usually not a member of the grammar police, I can only sit on the sidelines for so long and watch the English language get butchered by its native speakers.

What spawned this tirade? I just read an email from a colleague and it was like trying to decipher an encrypted message. Seriously, think Charlie from Flowers for Algernon.

First up: spelling. Professional correspondence, and I do count work related emails as professional correspondence, should not contain spelling errors. It just looks sloppy. Spell check is your friend. Most email and word processing programs have a spell check function. Use it. However, don't forget that spell check is only a first line defense. Always proof read your writing before you hit send. Spell check will sometimes make some interesting changes. Keep a dictionary handy or use an online dictionary if you are unsure of how something is spelled.

My personal grammar related pet peeve is misplaced apostrophes. Learn the difference between plural and possessive. Hint: the possessive form uses the apostrophe. For example, the room has two computers, not the room has two computer's.

Homonyms. Use the correct form of the word. For example, to/too/two and their/there/they're. If you're (note that I didn't say 'your') not sure, look it up. Spell check won't fix this for you. The word is spelled correctly. Sometimes it's hard. I only recently figured out affect (verb) and effect (noun).

Also, let's not forget about our friend the paragraph. The paragraph helps you group thoughts and makes your writing so much easier to read. Remember, white space is a good thing.

So please, take the time to proof read, if not for yourself, than for the person who has to read and interpret what you're trying to communicate. I just had to read the sentence 'I no there computer's are to years old.'. This really made my brain hurt.

**Bonus Game**
Identify any spelling and grammar mistakes that I made in this post and let me know about them in the comments.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Just So You Know

Rice noodles make me really gassy for some reason. And now you know.

In Retrospect

I wrote earlier about my text book finally being published. That makes me incredibly happy. In looking through the final product, there are two things that I'm a little disappointed in.

First, and I'm fully aware that this is an ego thing, is that my name appears last in the list of authors. The other two authors are the director of my company, who wrote the introduction and the chapter on electrical safety, and the assistant director. I undersatnd that Fluke published the book with our names listed alphabetically, but I was the primary author of this thing, and I was the one who went without sleep in order to make the writing deadlines. I just wish that when the book gets referenced, the author would be listed as Quartermaster, et al instead of Director, et al.

The second issue is purely vanity. I needed to have my picture taken for my bio in the about the author section. The assistant director was going to snap a quick picture and send it off to the publisher. On the day that I was supposed to have my picture taken, I dressed up a little. I wore a suit, did my hair, and wore a little make up (it's rare, but it happens every now and again). Something came up and the picture didn't get taken that day. We then get busy and kind of forget about it, until one day Fluke asks about my picture. The assistant director takes a picture and that's taken care of. I'm not dressed as nice (not a big deal, it's a head shot anyway), my hair's kind of messy, and I'm not wearing makeup. So basically, it's a picture of me in my normal state. And I guess I'm bitching about not looking better than my normal state.

I'm an Author

And not just of this blog, either.

Let's back up a moment, shall we? In 2007 Fluke Biomedical commissioned by company to write a text book on testing and maintaining medical equipment. It's not as odd as it seems. First, I work for a university. Second, prior to being purchased by Fluke and moved to Nevada, Biotek was located in Winooski and our companies had a close working relationship.

There aren't a whole lot of text books for the biomedical equipment technician and there certainly are not a lot of field guides for maintenance programs. Fluke decided that they wanted a text book, geared toward using Fluke test equipment, of course, to use as part of their educational materials. It's kind of like when you get a recipe out of a magazine and it say to use 2 cups of Swanson chicken broth. In reality, any chicken broth will work for the recipe, but the recipe promotes Swanson chicken broth. That's kind of what my text book is like. The sample equipment used is all Fluke equipment.

Fluke will be using the book in its non-US markets; places that don't currently have an established set of regulations governing medical equipment. I think that's a good thing. The book was written with an eye towards US regulations (why we have them and why they are important) and also practicality. Really, it was to make people understand what they're trying to test for and how to go about it. The book has been translated into Spanish for the South American market and also into Chinese. There were also talks of doing translations into Japanese and a handful of the Arabic languages.

I actually finished writing in the fall of 2007. I was very proud that I made every one of my deadlines. Fluke had originally planned on publishing in December 2007. I'm not sure why there was so long of a delay.

Now I finally have a copy of Medical Equipment Quality Assurance: Inspection Program Development and Procedures. Not exactly the great American novel, but I'll run with it. I'm an author. And not just any author, but an international author.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Putting My Tax Refund to Good Use

Now that the car is taken care of, I can do something completely impractical and fun with my tax refund. I decided to buy a new computer, to replace my 6 year old system.

The roommate helped me pick out a nicely priced machine from HP. On that advise of Yomper, I'm upgrading the video card and the power supply. It kind of defeats the purpose of buying a pre-built system, but it should be a pretty sweet system when it's all together. I just received the new monitor from Newegg. Holy quick shipping Batman! The rest of the computer should be here Wednesday or Thursday next week. So right now, I have a ginormous LCD monitor hooked up to my old system. All things considered, it looks really good. And it even fits on desk.

The Bad and the Good

First, the bad.

While I was in Wisconsin, someone hit my parked car at home in Vermont. I had left the car in my apartment complex's upper lot in case it snowed while I was gone. We have opposite side parking here. When it snows, they plow one side of our street at 8am and then the other at 1. Usually I move my car on my lunch break, as I live across the street from my office. If you won't be available to move your car for plowing, you're supposed to park in the overflow lot behind the complex. That is exactly what I did.

Saturday after I returned home, I found a pretty big scrape all down the driver's side, along with some denting of the front door. The estimate I got from the body shop said it will cost about $1700 to get the whole thing fixed.

And now for the good.

Vermont is one of only two states (the other being Virginia, I believe) that has a no fault accident law. Usually, if the accident is not your fault, your insurance company will go after the other driver, or, more likely, the other driver's insurance, to get the money. In the case of an unknown driver, such as a hit and run on your parked car, you're out of luck. In this situation, Vermont's law forces your insurance company to waive your deductible and provide a rental car for you while your car is being repaired.

This is not something that the insurance company will advertise or even offer. I was tipped off about the law by the helpful people at Autonahn body shop (a big thank you to Jon, who helped me with the insurance process). I had to argue with Geico. The person who took my claim over the phone was not aware of the law and refused to waive the deductible. In speaking with the local insurance adjuster, who was familiar with Vermont's laws, everything was straightened out. My car goes in on Monday morning. Hopefully, she'll be good as new.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

More Wisconsin Root Beer

I got a chance to try some more local Wisconsin root beer. Tonight's travels took me to The Great Dane, a pub and brewery located in Downtown Madison. In addition to a large selection of beer, they have a pretty decent menu; I had the Dane Burger and it was tasty. I had never considered putting artichoke dip on a burger before. As for my choice of beverage, I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to try their root beer brewed in house.

The root beer came to me in a big frosty mug (yay for frosty mugs!), so I can't give you a run down of the ingredients. The root beer itself had just enough vanilla to make it smooth. It definitely had anise (yay for anise!). This root beer was spicy compared to others that I've tasted. There was a very strong taste of something that I couldn't put my finger on. The overall flavor was strong, without being over whelming. It was a nice change of pace; most of the root beers I've tried have been good but not exciting. This one was exciting. (Side note - for those of you keeping track at home, that's a total of two uses of the semicolon in this use. Let's here it for under used punctuation!)

Compared to the Sprecher's that I tried yesterday, Great Dane is by far the superior Wisconsin root beer. I will definitely have this again the next time I find myself in the area.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Midwestern Root Beer

I've been in Madison, Wisconsin all week for work. I'm taking a week long training class at the General Electric plant here. My class only runs until 4 in the afternoon and I've had my evenings free to explore the area.

In my travels this evening, I came across a locally brewed root beer. Yeah, you know I can't pass that up. (For those keeping track, I am still on my self-imposed caffeine fast. March will be one complete year).

That brings me to Sprecher root beer. It gets bonus points for coming in a full pint sized bottle. That's a whole 16 ounces, as opposed to the normal 12 ounces we're used to seeing in soda/beer bottles. It gets even more bonus points for using honey as a sweetener. However, it loses some of that bonus since it still uses high fructose corn syrup. In fact, the corn syrup is the second ingredient listed (meaning that it's the 2nd most abundant), right after carbonated water.

On the plus side, the root beer is very smooth and creamy. The honey adds a very subtle taste. It's well balanced. On the flip side, nothing really stands out, taste wise. This doesn't make it bad, just not as exciting as Maine Root or Harpoon.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Off Topic

And the award, for most assinine question asked of a world leader, goes to...... Michael Fletcher from the Washington Post, for asking about A-Rod's use of steroids.

A little background: Obama gave the first prime time press conference of his presidency. The topic, of course, was the horrendous state of the economy and what needs to be done to remedy the situation. He did a good job explaining the importance of the stimulous package and some of its nuances. But that is really not what I wanted to comment on.

Keep in mind that this is a press conference about the dire state of our economy. About thress quartes of the way through the question and answer period, Fletcher sees fit to ask the president, "What is your reaction to Alex Rodriguez's admission that he used steroids as a member of the Texas Rangers?" Seriously. It was one of those surreal WTF moments.

Obama's response should have been "What the f*ck does that have to do with anything?". You know he was thinking it.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

When Bakeries Know No Bounds

It's a well known fact that supermarket bakeries tend to stock yummy baked goods decorated for whatever is the most recent upcoming holiday/event. Think pink frosting and hearts for Valentine's or spider webs for Halloweeen. Our most recent event was the Super Bowl and there was a whole host of football themed sugary treatsd around.
I guess the bakers down at the PriceChopper got a little over excited and decorated everything they could get their hands on.

Yep. Those are loaves of bread, decorated to look like footballs. To the baker's credit, I'm pretty sure that it's not actually chocolate icing, but rather a darker dough on top of the lighter loaf.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Hey, I Really Do Have a Facebook Page

I've been getting emails from people asking to be my friend on Facebook. My reaction so far has been, huh? I don't recall ever signing up for a Facebook page. Out of curiosity, I searched for myself and did, indeed, come up with my own profile.

Judging by the 2 messages on the page, I'm guessing that I signed up at the request of one of my friends, as a way to keep in touch, of course, and then promptly forgot about it. Thinking hard I vaguely recall doing this.

And, so, that brings me to my dilemma. Do I simply delete the page and disappear in the ethos? Or do I actually put some content on the damn thing and get back in touch with people who took the time to look me up? Decisions, decisions.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lilly Ledbetter Becomes Law

After passing both the House and the Senate, President Obama has signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act into law. This makes me very happy.

The Ledbetter Act was discussed heatedly during the last presidential election. McCain opposed the bill on the grounds that it would open up lawsuits. Um....yeah...the bill's supposed to open up lawsuits to companies engaging in pay discrimination. Instead of equal pay protection, McCain felt that women needed more education and training and also stated that the he didn't think the Ledbetter Act would do anything to help the rights of women.

That line of reasoning seems to have stuck, because when discussing this issue with people, I've found that an instinctive fear of frivolous lawsuits and a lack of understanding of what the Ledbetter Act actually does. After explaining what the Ledbetter actually does, they tend to agree that it makes sense.

Prior to Ledbetter, workers had 180 days from the time of the first unequal paycheck to file a complaint for pay discrimination. The problem with the law as written was that companies just had to hide unfair pay practices for 6 months and then they could continue to do so with no legal recourse. In practice, employees tend to not discuss how much they are getting paid with one another, especially if they are new at a company, which would be when one would receive her first paycheck.

The Ledbetter Act says that workers have 180 days from each act of unequal pay to file a complaint, so basically 180 days from each discriminatory paycheck. It does not change the definition of what pay discrimination is, nor does it make it any easier to file a frivolous lawsuit. It simply changes the timeframe when someone can file a lawsuit, taking into account that you may not know about the pay discriminition for years.

President Obama, after signing the bill stated, "If we stay focused, as Lilly did, and keep standing for what's right, as Lilly did, we will close that pay gap and ensure that our daughters have the same rights, the same chances, and the same freedom to pursue their dreams as our sons."