Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Ship of Ghouls

Last night I toured The Ship of Ghouls, here's a blurb on it:

"Don't miss this spectacular attraction, The Ship of Ghouls! Prepare for a haunted tour unlike any you have ever experienced. The Ship of Ghouls is The William A. Irvin transformed from an ore carrier to a floating ghost ship. The haunting of the Irvin is put on by professional actors with the accompaniment of special effects. The Ship of Ghouls is open for tours mid-October through October 31."

It was fun, scary and a good workout. The tour says that it's not handicapped accessible--no kidding! There were tiny, slippery, metal stairs almost vertical that we went up and down throughout the entire tour--and in the dark! That alone would quality as being pretty scary but throw in strobe and black lights, creatures that leap out at you and spooky music and it was pretty fun. Many people (especially those with younger children, which was not recommended) turned back almost right at the beginning. I think it was because of those first stairs. I thought, "Well, I got down those OK." but it was only the beginning of MUCH upping and downing of those blasted little stairs.

I had some teenaged girls behind me who were so scared that they kept hanging on to my back. Or maybe they were just afraid of falling down those steep stairs, me too. Once we'd gotten back out again, it was fun to stay and watch the others come out again. The weather down by the lake was windy and cold. We'd waited in line for about 45 minutes and I was glad I'd worn my new leather jacket and some gloves! We were all warmed up after we came back out again, though. They have The Ship of Ghouls every year but I've never gone on it before.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Back to work

It's Monday and I'm facing work after a long weekend. It seems like I'm moving in slow motion! It wasn't a fun long weekend, at least not at first as I was sick on Friday. I seldom call in sick to work but usually go in and try to tough it out. Normally it works, and after a while I feel better. On Friday, though, I had what I call "the dizzies" which may sound funny or cute, certainly isn't! It started with an icepick-like headache in the back of my head and then I couldn't walk a straight line. My stomach gets upset from it and so I was sick in that way too. I maybe could have taken the bus, sure couldn't drive like that! Anyway, I woke up at 4:00 a.m. still sick (had started on Thursday night) called into work and slept until 2:00 p.m. when I dragged myself to the living room couch.

I've always thought "the dizzies" were a weird type of flu but I'd just had that flu shot, so maybe not. There are some bad things that could cause symptoms like that, especially at my age so I suppose I should ask my doctor when I next go in. She will just tell me that it was a reaction to the flu shot or something. She tends to pooh pooh any symptoms that I tell her and then I feel like I'm being a big baby--even though I only go in to see the doctor once a year. For example, last year (when I was still with VMan) she laughed at me when I asked her about taking precautions against becoming pregnant. Well, there have been women my age who have gotten pregnant--and I wouldn't want to be one of them! Wish I had my old doctor back, I really liked her but she switched into Oncology. Our health plan doesn't allow us to change around but maybe I should check if there's some way to see another doctor instead. I think if I switched clinics I could do it.

Anyway, the weekend got a lot better! I received the big box of flower bulbs I'd ordered and planted them all on Sunday. Sunday was a warm, beautiful day, perfect to be outside in the fresh air.

Even though we had the change back from Daylight Savings Time to regular time so we have another hour, the time is slipping away from me. I need to finish getting ready for work. Next time I'll try to read your blog, I miss all of you!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Wheels of the Jeep Stay Round and Round

Yes, I certainly hope the tire formerly know as "Flat" stays round. If not I'll be taking the bus again today. Not that that's so bad. Have a great day!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Scorpio time

I found a great new (for me) blog last night: ElsaElsa.com
About yesterday she said:
"And I mention this today because of the extreme situation in the sky. Six planets are clustered in Scorpio today. Think about that. Up above, all the planets are stacked up against one another. Don’t you think that matters?"

Yes, it certainly did. How was your day yesterday? Mine was, um, a bit more exciting and frustrating than normal. Oh it started off OK, I got up and got ready for work, started up the car and scraped the ice off of the windows. The early bus zipped by. It was still pitch black outside, I got in the car and drove out into the main street.

There was first a pulling and then it was like the jeep leaned to one side. Good thing I only drove a block, turned around and came back. I had a really flat front left tire! The early bus had already gone by so I took the bus schedule out of my jacket pocket. The street light was too dim to read it. I hurried back into the house (had to unlock two doors) and found out I had picked up the wrong bus schedule when I had ridden last time!

At least I could grab some gloves while back in the house, as I'd forgotten them. I could have gone online to check the bus schedule or called them up but I didn't dare for fear of missing the next bus. The morning buses come pretty close together, so I thought. Well, it turns out that they really don't, and I stood out there for nearly a half hour waiting. By that time the price, 60 cents, had gone up to peak price of $1.25--and I was hoping I had enough change in my pocket! I got to work six mimutes late but that was still OK as I'd been putting in extra time for weeks now.

Once at work I called a nearby (to home) tire place. They said they were open until 5:30 and to call back and they'd try to fit me in to come out and fix it. I was working on some bills when a co-worker and his wife came by my desk. "Are you going down for flu shots?" he asked. I was hoping I didn't have my medical card with me, so couldn't get one. Unfortunately I did have the card so went down to get the shot.

I should pause and mention that I'm deathly afraid of needles. Yes, I know NOBODY likes to get shots but I'm phobic about needles. In fact it's why I can understand the feelings of people who are deathly afraid of spiders, or snakes, or whatever, even though I'm not afraid of bugs or creatures. There's a blind, unreasoning terror that comes up! Also, I wasn't dressed properly to have to pull up my sleeve. Good thing they gave the shots in a private office as I had to practically strip to get it. It was only the third flu shot that I've ever received. The first was painless, the second very painful and this one somewhere inbetween. When I was younger I never got flu shots and didn't get the flu, either. But the last couple of years I figured maybe I should get it too.

So the day went by, I caught the bus and went home. When I called up the tire place they told me they didn't do road service. But the guy I'd talked to this morning had said they could come out! After a few tears of frustration and anger at being treated like an idiot (and feeling like one, but that's what the guy had told me) I settled down to a fairly normal evening. How was yours?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Minimum means, little or less

Do you have a minimum wage where you are? I just read (and copied) an interesting article about the minimum wage in the US. Below are some excerpts from the article:

Scraping By: Minimum Wage Across America
The minimum wage has been stuck at $5.15 an hour for over nine years, making it the second-longest freeze in wage growth since the establishment of the U.S. minimum wage in 1938. The cost of living has risen 26 percent, but the minimum rate of compensation hasn't seen a value this low since 1955, and Senate recently rejected a proposal that would have raised the rate to $7.25 by 2008.

The 2005 Current Population Survey, compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reported West Virginia and Oklahoma as having the highest number of workers earning hourly wages at or below $5.15. In contrast, the states of California, Alaska and Washington reported the lowest population of residents earning minimum wage or less.

According to combined data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, individual state labeor departments and the EPI, here are the most current findings for minimum wages rates as of August 2006:

Alabama: No state minimum wage law.
Alaska: $7.15. Rate automatically adjusts to remain at least $1.00 above the federal minimum wage in the event of a federal change.
Arizona: No state minimum wage law.
Arkansas: $5.15. Increasing to $6.25 as of Oct. 1, 2006.
California: $6.75. Increasing to $7.50 as of Jan. 1, 2007, and $8.00 as of Jan. 1, 2008. Beyond that, the minimum wage will be evaluated yearly. The rate is $8.82 in San Francisco. Companies that do business with the City of Los Angeles must pay workers at least $9.08 per hour with health benefits, or $10.33 without.
Colorado: $5.15.
Connecticut: $7.40. Increasing to $7.65 as of Jan. 1, 2007.
Delaware: $6.15. Increasing to $6.65 in 2007, and $7.15 in 2008.
District of Columbia: $7.00.
Florida: $6.40 (adjusting annually with inflation).
Georgia: $5.15.
Hawaii: $6.75. Increasing to $7.25 as of Jan. 1, 2007.
Idaho: $5.15.
Illinois: $6.50. $6.00 for employees under the age of 18.
Indiana: $5.15.
Iowa: $5.15.
Kansas: $2.65. Applies only when the federal Fair Labor Standards Act does not.
Kentucky: $5.15.
Louisiana: No state minimum wage law.
Maine: $6.50. Increasing to $6.75 as of Oct. 2006, and $7.00 as of Oct., 2007.
Maryland: $6.15.
Massachusetts: $6.75. Increasing to $7.50 as of Jan. 1, 2007, and $8.00 as of Jan. 1, 2008.
Michigan: $5.15. Increasing to $6.95 as of Oct. 1, 2006, $7.15 as of July 1, 2007 and to $7.40 as of July 1, 2008.
Minnesota: $6.15.
Mississippi: No state minimum wage law.
Missouri: $5.15.
Montana: $5.15.
Nebraska: $5.15.
Nevada: $5.15. A 2004 amendment, proposing an increase minimum wage to $6.15 starting in 2007, and adjusted yearly, requires re-approval in 2006 to become law.
New Hampshire: $5.15.
New Jersey: $6.15. Increases to $7.15 as of Oct. 2006.
New Mexico: $5.15. $9.50 in Santa Fe, as of 2006.
New York: $6.75. Increasing to $7.15 as of Jan. 1, 2007.
North Carolina: $5.15. Increasing to $6.15 as of Jan. 1, 2007.
North Dakota: $5.15.
Ohio: $5.15.
Oklahoma: $5.15, and $2.00 for work not covered by the federal minimum wage.
Oregon: $7.50 (adjusting annually with inflation).
Pennsylvania: $5.15. Increasing to $6.25 as of Jan. 1, 2007, and to $7.15 as of July 1, 2007. For companies with 10 or fewer employees: $5.65 as of Jan. 1, 2007; $6.65 as of July 1, 2007; and $7.15 as of July 1, 2008.
Rhode Island: $7.10. Increasing to $7.40 as of 2007.
South Carolina: $5.15.
South Dakota: $5.15.
Tennessee: No state minimum wage law.
Texas: $5.15.
Utah: $5.15.
Vermont: $7.25 (adjusted annually with inflation).
Virginia: $5.15.
Washington: $7.63 (adjusted annually with inflation).
West Virginia: $5.15.
Wisconsin: $6.50.
Wyoming: $5.15.

Candace Corner is a writer for CareerBuilder.com.
Copyright 2006 CareerBuilder.com.

A rough calculation of yearly income is to double the hourly wage, therefore a minimum wage of $5.15 is only around $10,300 or so per year, certainly not enough for even a single person to live comfortably. Which is exactly why those with a minimum wage job need to work several of them just to get by. Well, at least I moved to a state with a higher minimum wage! Have a good Tuesday.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Frozen garden sand

I planted the flowering bulbs yesterday. The garden sand had a crust on it(frozen) meaning that it's getting down to the wire for planting bulbs! It was early in the morning, so the little neighborhood boys wouldn't bother me and dig up the bulbs the moment I went back into the house. My hair was still wet and it was probably about 30F degrees. This is getting to be a theme, I think, running around with wet hair and no coat out in the cold. Acclimatization, maybe.

But I put on my leather jacket to walk to get the Sunday paper. Yes--a leather jacket! I'd been wanting one for years and finally purchased it a week or two ago. My last leather jacket was really a coat, ankle length and heavy, it even had a hood. We always joked that you could lie down in a snow bank with it on and stay warm! I had given it to SLA in the late 1990's, who gave it to her son.

Then it was getting groceries, doing laundry, burying the compost and household chores. I did get time to finish "Plain Truth" by Jodi Picoult, my new favorite author. It's about an Amish girl (and her family) who is accused of killing her newborn baby. The girl's convoluted story and how her story kept changing frustrated her non-Amish lawyer, a distant relative. And wow, Picoult's endings pack quite a punch!

Yawn, it's Monday. Have a good one!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Fizzy’s meme

This is Fizzy’s meme. She invented this cool meme!

1. Tell me 1 piece of information about yourself that I really should never know:
I used to laugh in my sleep at funny dreams. It freaked my (then) husband out!

2. Tell me 2 colors that you would never ever ever wear:
Hmmm never ever is a long time. I don’t very often wear yellow or mud brown.

3. Tell me 3 things that you love to eat:
Apples are my favorite food. I also really like peanut butter (of course!) and oatmeal.

4. Tell me 4 things that you would never ever serve to a guest at your dinner table:
Raccoon, squirrel, fox or beaver even though we ate a lot of game when I was a child.

5. Tell me 5 things that you keep forgetting to buy from the supermarket:
Light bulbs, face lotion, batteries, orange juice and onions.

6. Tell me 6 things about the Autumn that you love:
The sound of crunching leaves, the beautiful blue autumn sky, the leaves turning color, putting the gardens to bed for the winter, that it means back to school (I loved school) and the beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

7. Tell me 7 things that you value about your family:
Their humor, wit, intelligence, knowledge, independence, manners and common sense.

8. Tell me 8 things that you like to watch on TV:
The Office, Earl, Ugly Betty, Wife Swap, public TV shows like POV, local news, national and international news, garden shows.

9. Tell me 9 things that you loved about school:
Learning new things, books, the desks, the blackboards, seeing and playing with other kids, sports, the bus ride, the meals (yes, much better than at home!) and attention from the teachers.

10. Tell me 10 of the little things that you love about life:
Waking up on a weekend and not having to leap out of bed to get ready for work, walking, hanging out with friends, looking for books in the library, reading, writing, enjoying my house, working in the garden, talking with my son or Mom, a nice hot shower in the morning.

I bought some flower bulbs yesterday, with my Mom (she didn't buy any but wanted to see the feed store) and will probably plant them today. I put up some Halloween decorations yesterday too--and found out I didn't buy or make nearly enough to decorate the house adequately! We've had two nice big pumpkins in the living room for over a week already, though. Have a great Sunday and the rest of your weekend!

Friday, October 20, 2006

The "Old People Survey"

Here's a meme that I had saved up and was planning to write for today. Sorry, but I can't remember where I swiped it from, it was at the same time I found the "Magic Meme". Also, I have no idea why it's called the "Old People" Survey.

"Old People" Survey

1. Do you have a college degree? Yes, I do. Got it on the second go-around after the first education attempt was interrupted by an unfortunate marriage.

2. What was the amount of your last electric bill? All my utility bills are figured in together so I’m not sure what the electricity cost.

3. Do you have life insurance? Yes, for my son if something should happen to me.

4. How many hours per week do you work? Officially only 40, but the reality is that it’s closer to 45-50. But that’s still better than when I had two jobs and was working 60-80 hours per week.

5. Favorite place to attend Happy Hour? At the bar/restaurant/laundramat thingy, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been there with friends.

6. How many miles is your commute to work each day (one way)? Much, much shorter since I moved into town. Now it’s practically just over the interstate bridge.

7. What time do you get up every morning for work? 4:30 or 5:00 a.m.

8. What is your definition of sleeping in late? 7:00 or 8:00 on weekends is sleeping in late for me.

9. Do you check your cholesterol on a yearly basis? No.

10. How large was your first cellular phone? I've never owned a cell phone but use one for work. It’s little.

11. Does your employer provide good health insurance? Yes, compared to most anyway. It’s one of the reasons I hang on to my job.

13. Did you use the internet to write a research paper? Nope, I finished school in the olden days. Hey, maybe that's why it's called the "Old People Survey"?

14. Have you attended a high school reunion? Never, and I have no desire to start.

15. How many jobs have you held in your professional career? Too many to count. Oh, you said “professional career” actually I’ve only had two jobs that used the skills that I learned in school.

16. Have you ever been fired or laid off from a job? Yes, I’ve been laid off a couple of times. It was not called “fired” as around here that term is only used for wrongdoing.

17. What is your favorite drink? Coffee, of course. But I’m also very fond of plain water and always carry bottled water.

18. What is the most expensive bottle of wine that you have in your residence? I don’t get into buying wine, except for gifts so probably $12 or so.

19. Have you been divorced? Yes, twice. Not planning to get married again.

20. How old were you when you stopped getting ID'd for alcohol? I still was getting ID’d occasionally in my 30’s.

21. Favorite casino? Haven’t been to enough of them to know, since I’m not into gambling and think it’s boring.

22. Are you happier now than you were in high school? No comparison, I couldn’t wait to get old enough to move away from home!

23. Did you ever have Hypercolor shirts? What IS that? So, I guess not…

24. Do you remember when Michael Jackson was black and attracted to older people? Yes, when the grown-ups said he was so cute. I liked the “Thriller” video too.

25. Do you remember when MTV actually played music videos? I haven’t had cable TV for years and years, but have heard rumors about that. What’s on MTV now, then?

26. Have you had a will made? Yes, back when I was a single-parent and had cancer. My son was still a minor. Everything has turned out OK so far though.

27. What music was in your cd / cassette player when you were 16? I came from a very strict family and never even had my own radio, let alone a cassette player or TV when I lived at home.

28. Favorite fancy / upscale restaurant? There are several nice ones in this area.

29. How long has it been since you attended a kegger? When I went back to school I GAVE one in the winter when I lived on the beach. It’s become legendary: dragging in the firewood, the daring rescue from the floating ice, the jumping over the bonfire (SLA’s burned boot), the giant slumber party for 20-30 people, cooking the mammoth breakfast the morning after, and other stories that are still bandied about today. But that was in the olden days ;)

Well, that was more than enough for one day. It does feel like I've done this meme before (and with the same answers). I'll get to your cool meme in a couple of days, Fizzy. Have a good day and a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The mouse is re-powered

It's cold in here this morning. And I finally got some batteries for the mouse so I can use the computer again. We have a drawerful of batteries and none were the right type. The good part is that I pretty much got caught up on sleep, finally.

I've been driving to work, not taking the bus. Only did that once, last Friday, to see how it works. It was just too easy for a normal workday. I missed the crisp (because of the weather) walk to work in the morning. Didn't really miss the walk uphill to my car at the end of the day, though. I'll bus when the weather is really really bad and I don't feel like digging out my car from the snow at 5:30 in the morning and getting it to run!

What is today, Thursday? Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It's in a book

I just finished and brought back to the library last night:
Bachelor Girl: The Secret History of Single Women in the Twentieth Century by Betsy Israel. It's an interesting book about the flappers and the Gibson Girl, but it seemed to sort of end in the ‘60’s, not too much about modern bachelor women. And she seemed to focus on white women from NYC mostly. Still, I enjoyed reading the book.

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich who took jobs as a motel maid, food waitress, and at Wart Mart. It was also interesting but I feel that she “cheated” by starting off with money and by having a car. It was heartbreaking to read about people working hard, managing money wisely and still not making it in our economy. I’m not too far removed from my poverty days and well remember being just too tired from the logistics of pure survival to worry much about the future. And maybe that was just as well, as the future does not look very bright for most people in that situation. The work is hard, they lose their health but cannot afford medicine or healthy food.

It’s a sad and sobering book even though she kind of bombs out in wrapping up her story in the last chapter. One reviewer at Amazon said:
She discovered that while no job is truly "unskilled," the low wage jobs that she got made physical demands, some of which could be damaging if performed month after month--even for a physically fit person. She found few no rewards for heroic performance, that "the trick lies in figuring out how to budget your energy so there'll be some left over for the next day" (p. 195). She found that it is nearly impossible to earn enough money to survive on with just a single job, even during the tight labor market of 1999:

"Something is wrong, very wrong, when a single person in good health, a person who in addition possesses a working car, can barely support herself by the sweat of her brow. You don't need a degree in economics to see that wages are too low and rents too high" (p. 199).

She examines the pressures exerted on workers to keep them subservient and from asserting their power. She challenges the idea that we are a democracy if large numbers of citizens spend half their waking hours in what amounts to a "dictatorship" in the workplace. She also speculates on the depressive effects of the disempowerment to which the "working poor" must submit.

Also, needless to say, there were many appalled reviewers of this book who insisted that the poor could rise above it with more education, better job skills, a better work ethic, etc. The word "bleeding liberal" or some such was bandied about. Even though finishing my degree was exactly how I escaped poverty and did so when my son wasn’t even school age yet and we had no car, I was lucky. Many or most of the poor don’t have the time or energy (or credit to get student loans) to go back to school when they have no car and small children. I had a friend who tried to do the same thing and the college would not enroll her because of her grades in high school. Most don’t have a two-year start like I did, either.

Someday I’ll write about the joys of dragging a (well-bundled) child on a sled through the snow to get groceries or go to the laundromat. Or the wonderful walk uphill to the daycare, and then several miles more to work in all types of weather, working a hard day of nine hours at work (eight plus an unpaid lunch), and then walking uphill to the daycare and then home again to cook dinner totally from scratch and do domestic chores! I averaged walking eight miles per day and wore out my shoes. Had to wear a couple pair of socks in them to keep warm in the winter because of the holes. My poor son was in daycare for almost ten hours per day. It’s a tough way to live. Maybe I won’t write about it after all. I’d rather just forget it like many things in my past, they just make me sad, or angry. And life goes on.

Along that same topic, here’s a book I want to find and read:
Christopher Hyatt reflects on the methods of modern slavery in Who Owns the Planet Earth:
"While most humans agree that slavery is evil - that the ownership of one human by another is immoral - few humans equate slavery with enforced education, welfare, health, and the idea of a perfect orderly universe. Slavery is usually associated with power over others and with the ability to enforce one's will on another without the fear of retaliation.

OK, once again I’ve gone on far too long. Have a good Tuesday!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Testing, one…two…

The civil service test I took on Saturday was not the typical test. It had fuzzy black and white drawings of various parts of office machines to identify, like the collator of a copy machine! It also went into detailed questions about Excel and Access, and even though I use both at work, there were a couple of questions where I had to guess.

The accounting portions (2) would have been a cinch had I brought (and known that I could use) a calculator. As it was, we had to figure out a payroll for nine people, the hours for each person and day of the week spread across the page, with hourly rates like $12.583, 11.627 and $15.049. We had to compute who earned the most, the least, the mean and the median wage earned for the week--and then the test went into cost of living percentages increase and taxes! Need I say that it was pretty brutal calculating all of that by hand and that I used up my scratch paper and dulled my pencils. Yikes.

My son burned me the new Evanesence CD. My favorite songs on it are “Like You” and “Lose Control” but the whole thing is good even the unnamed five tracks at the end.

Have a Monday!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Testing, one...

Well, I rode the bus to and from work on Friday. Almost missed the bus back home, although there would have been another one in a half-hour or 45-minutes or so because it was (what passes for) rush hour in the city where I work. I barely threw everything in drawers and locked up (now I have to do that since I work at the front desk) and ran down the street without even time to put on my coat. The bus had already pulled away from the stop, but the bus driver nicely stopped for me. "Our business is people!" he said cheerily and waited while I dug through my pants pockets for the fare. Luckily, as my fellow passengers were getting impatient, I found enough change. Getting to work had been far easier and cheaper, too since the fare that early in the morning was off-peak.

Saturday morning I had to get up almost as early as during the week to take a civil service test. It was the weirdest test and test proctoring I've ever seen, and I've taken a few during my working years. Anyone who read the short blurb and downloaded the applications could show up for the test, so they had no idea of how many people were coming. It's almost needless to say that they did not have enough test copies and for a brief moment my two table buddies and I thought we might have to duke it out for a test copy.

One of the two proctors disappeared to make the needed copies and the entire room relaxed and began to talk among themselves. I had a sociable hour talking with the woman and the guy at my table, none of us had met before. Finally the copies appeared and the proctors began to hand them out, "You may begin." they said. The test was timed and the room was full. We estimated that we had a ten-minute handicap by sitting in the back of the room because we couldn't start until we received a test copy! Those in the front were diligently working on their test long before we received our booklet, yet we had to stop at the same time.

A few of my fellow test-takers began to whip out calculators. Apparently they had called the listed phone number, "If you have any questions..." and were told that calculators were permitted at the test. The also calculator-less guy to the right of me said, "Hope you're good at math, I'm not." and he begged for a stack of scratch paper on which to do the calculations, and gave me half. I needed the paper, and was kicking myself for not having a calculator in my bag. I used to carry one but had taken it out when it kept having difficulties with the lint in the bottom of my bag. I had had no reason to call the "If you have any questions" phone number and thought it was quite unfair that only the pesty people had found out about the calculators. That was the beginning of the civil service test.

Hope you're having a great weekend!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Brrrr it's cold inside and out

We've had snow here for the last couple of days. Gotta find my gloves and winter stuff soon, this walking for blocks with a thin jacket, no hat or gloves and wet hair is not doing me any good. But I've been too busy at work to notice whether I'm sick or not. I did notice that it's a Friday today and a weekend coming up.

The wind is whistling and howling (what a duet) outside and I don't feel like driving over the windy interstate bridge today to get to work. So I may take the bus although I haven't ridden on the bus for years and years. They have this new, complicated system with tokens, cards, cash, coins all going into various different slots of a machine in the front. Not to be unkind, but considering the variety of people who ride the bus, I think I can figure it out. I'll let you know. Have a great weekend! Or, should I say, have a weekend!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Life tricks

That meme should have been enough blog writing for the entire week! I was thinking of going back, dividing it into fifths and writing in Monday, etc. Or, still dividing it into fifths, re-post a section every day. I doubt few people read through every bit of it. But then again, was it really worth the time?

Anyway, I was at the library last night returning books and sat down with two magazines. They both have rather expensive subscriptions, so I read them for free at the library.

"Wired" had an intriguing article about Urawaza, a word I'd heard before from gamers. But this article told more about life-tricks and such. Hope this link works as I've not tried to put a link in my posts for a long time. It seldom works despite much checking and rechecking to see if I've written it correctly.

If the link doesn't work, just go (google) to the "Wired" site and find the article. It's worth it, who doesn't want to learn how to run faster or write on a T-shirt?

Boost Your Life the Urawaza Way from "Wired"

(I think I need a Urawaza for putting in links...) This just won't work and, speaking of, it's getting late and I need to leave for work.

Here's the article, which may make you want to see the tricks:

Martha Stewart might be able to show you how to make the perfect centerpiece, but let's see her school you in using a rubber band to run faster. For that, try Ito-ke no shokutaku (The Ito Family Dinner Table), Japan's weekly how-to TV show that combines the spirit of productivity blog Lifehacker with the manic energy of Deal or No Deal. Cohosted by P-ko, an anime PC, the show challenges contestants to top one another with urawaza, or "secret tricks," a concept that became popular in the '80s with gamers swapping tips for beating Super Mario Brothers. One minute, someone is demonstrating a way to improve your bowling score; the next, a guest is showing a technique for keeping Band-Aids on your finger. Ito-ke is in its ninth season on Nippon Television – having spawned an entire industry of recipe books and practical guides – and is gaining a US following thanks to YouTube. The urawaza may seem unbelievable, but all have been proven effective in front of a live audience. Here are a few of our favorite tricks.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Magic Meme

Here's a long meme from Stacy the PQ, Grant, and maybe others:

1. You can press a button that will make any one person explode. Who would you blow up?
-Mean people. But blowing them up would also be pretty mean, now wouldn’t it?

2. You can flip a switch that will wipe any band or musical artist out of existence. Which one will it be?
-Mariah Carey. I hate her. Will it be a painful death?

3. Who would you really like to just punch in the face?
-A couple of my co-workers!

4. What is your favorite cheese?
-What a weird question. I like Swiss cheese, I guess. Or does it mean “cheesy”? Then it would have to be some of the sad reality shows I like to watch.

5. You can only have one kind of sandwich. Every sandwich ingredient known to humankind is at your immediate disposal. What kind will you make?
-My totem sandwich, of course, peanutbutter (no jelly).

6. You have the opportunity to sleep with the movie celebrity of your choice. We are talking no-strings-attached sex and it can only happen once. Who is the lucky celebrity of your choice?
-Dermot Mulroney, but if I thought a bit more I could come up with another or two.

7. You have the opportunity to sleep with the music-celebrity of your choice. Who do you pick?
-Chris Cornell, I guess. This one would take more thought too.

8. Now that you've slept with two different people in a row, you seem to be having an excellent day because you just came across a hundred-dollar bill on the sidewalk. Holy crap, a hundred bucks! How are you gonna spend it?
-Treat my friends to a really good dinner. That much money would cover 4-5 people in a nice eating place around here.

9. You just got a free plane ticket to anywhere. You have to depart right now. Where are you gonna go?

10. Upon arrival to the aforementioned location, you get off the plane and discover another hundred-dollar bill. Now that you are in the new location, what are you gonna do?
-Go to even more attractions or buy more souvenirs to bring home.

11. A demon rises out of Hell and offers you a lifetime supply of the alcoholic beverage of your choice. It is...?
-Point beer.

12. Rufus appears out of nowhere with a time-traveling phone booth. You can go anytime in the PAST. What time are you traveling to and what are you going to do when you get there?
-There’s nowhere in the past that I’d like to go. Can I go to the future, instead?

13. You discover a beautiful island upon which you may build your own society. You make the rules. What is the first rule you put into place?
-The old “do unto others” except it would be enforced on my island.

14. You have been given the opportunity to create the half-hour TV show of your own design. What is it called and what's the premise?
-"How to be a good person" nobody would watch it, though. But it would be a popular butt-of-jokes on late night talk shows.

15. What is your favorite curse word?
-Outside of work I use “f’k it in a bucket!” at work I would say “fricken’” or something like that instead.

16. One night you wake up because you heard a noise. You turn on the light to find that you are surrounded by MUMMIES. The mummies aren't really doing anything, they're just standing around your bed. What do you do?
-I’d think that maybe they want the Mummy suckers that I bought for Halloween and get them some from my closet.

17. Your house is on fire! You have just enough time to run in there and grab ONE inanimate object. Don't worry, your loved ones and pets have already made it out safely. So what's the item?
-My notebook journals.

18. The Angel of Death has descended upon you. Fortunately, the Angel of Death is pretty cool and in a good mood, and it offers you a half-hour to do whatever you want before you bite it. Whatcha gonna do in that half-hour?
-Either sleep and hope for some great dreams, or blog.

19. You accidentally eat some radioactive vegetables. They were good, and what's even cooler is that they endow you with the super-power of your choice! What's it gonna be?
-The ability to fly.

20. You can re-live any point of time in your life. The time-span can only be a half-hour, though. What half-hour of your past would you like to experience again?
-None, I never want to go back to re-live any of my past life.

21. You can erase any horrible experience from your past. What will it be?
-My childhood. Oh, maybe my marriages too while we’re at it.

22. You got kicked out of the country for being a time-traveling heathen who sleeps with celebrities and has super-powers. But check out this cool stuff... you can move to anywhere else in the world! Bitchin'! What country are you going to live in now?
-Mexico or Guatemala.

23. This question still counts, even for those of you who are under age. Check it out. You have been eternally banned from every single bar in the world except for ONE. Which one is it gonna be?
-The cheesy restaurant/bar/laundramat in my old neighborhood.

24. Hopefully you didn't mention this in the super-powers question.... If you did, then we'll just expand on that. Check it out... Suddenly, you have gained the ability to FLOAT!!! Whose house are you going to float to first, and be like "Dude, check it out... I can FLOAT!"?
-I wouldn’t go to anybody’s house but would float over the water, then maybe over the bridge and cause traffic accidents. (Floating is NOT the same as flying.)

25. The constant absorption of magical moonbeams mixed with the radioactive vegetables you consumed earlier has given you the ability to resurrect the dead famous-person of your choice. So which celebrity will you bring back to life?
-Can’t think of any.

26. The Gates of Hell have opened, and Death appears. As it turns out, Death is actually a pretty cool entity, and happens to be in a fantastic mood. Death offers to return the friend/family-member/person, etc. of your choice to the living world. Who will you bring back?
-My favorite aunt who died young.

27. What's your theme song?
-“Dream weaver” has always been a favorite, lyric-wise. I even named my dog kennel (when I was raising dogs) after it. It’s not my favorite song, though, that’s a different question.

Whew, that was too much of a brain workout when it's not even 5:00 a.m. quite yet and I haven't had my coffee! Have a Monday!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Happy 85th Birthday to my Aunt!

Mom and I went to a birthday party yesterday for my Aunt. Only, she's not really my aunt and she just turned 85 years old. She's my Dad's half-brother's daughter, which would really make her my Dad's niece and my cousin. But because she's only four years younger than my Dad we have always called her "aunt" which caused me a lot of confusion when growing up. We seldom saw them or other relatives but I was always puzzled about how she could be my aunt when she wasn't my Dad's sister and I didn't know she was his half-brother's (whom I'd never met) daughter. I have a lot of puzzling relatives like that. I don't know them and don't know how, exactly, they are related to me.

Anyway, it was good to see these people, however related for the first time in about 30 years! My Aunt (she will always be that to me in my mind) looked very good, better than my Mom, in fact, in some ways. But my Mom still drives and has her own apartment, so I guess really, Mom is doing better despite outside appearances. I talked with my three cousins (really my second-cousins) for a while and had a pretty good time.

I recognized my favorite cousin of the three, who is my age, right away, and his two sisters too. They did not recognize me. My relatives seldom do. I was invisible in my family and in the extended family too. Of course, as I've said, we did not see them much. Still, I recognized my three cousins immediately, out of a crowd of people. My favorite cousin is balding and has grown a bit portly but he hasn't changed a bit, neither had his two sisters. A poignant moment was when I was leaving to pull up the car for my Mom and he stopped me.

"I just have to know..." he said, and I, distracted by my hurry could not imagine what he was going to ask.

"I just have to ask if you are still in contact with Susan Geary?" I stopped my hurry to get the car and really stopped to look at him.

Susan (not her real name) was my best friend, and a neighbor while I was growing up. We both went off to school together after we graduated from high school. My cousin had met and fallen madly in love with her. They dated for awhile but Susan had spurned him saying, "He wants to put me in a cozy house with a white picket fence." and went off to Mexico to dig in some ancient ruins.

He was wondering about her still, so I told him a couple of things I knew. But I haven't seen her in 12-15 years, either. I told him that "Susan was still Susan." meaning she was the free, whimsical spirit that she used to be, plus a husband and two kids.

Later, after I'd dropped Mom off at her apartment and had gone home I couldn't quit thinking of my cousin and Susan. Details came to my mind that I wish I'd told him, like she had been living very close in a neighboring city to him and his wife, she'd grown her hair out again long enough to sit on, like when he'd dated her, she still was a tiny, petite woman, and that she'd also asked about him.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Wanted: A few good spiders

Where have all the spiders gone? Gee, that could be a song. My house has had a sudden and unsavory influx of flies. And not a spider to be found, and they are so efficient at keeping flies and plant bugs at bay. My plants have never had bugs. When we first moved here we had the most beautiful golden spiders, but they were outside on the two decks. I had never seen spiders of that strange, beige color, and there were many of them in different sizes. I had a favorite one who lived on a (outside) window in the living room. I could watch him while sitting on the couch. But now that it's gotten colder, there's not a spider to be seen; the flies have come instead.

Isn't it only country houses that get flies at certain times of the year? But I have to admit it's been fun to stalk and swat them. I especially like to dim the lights and try to make out their shapes in the semi-darkness. It helps for sneaking up on them too, as they quickly got wise about avoiding anyone with a fly swatter. Do you think a large spider shape (just in time for Halloween!) would scare them off? Something that would work like a scare crow or an owl shape to scare birds from the garden.

Speaking of Halloween, a few days ago I received our shipment of candy. There are gummi-ghosts, oozing eyeballs, sweet-tart bones, mummy lollipops and other shapes. My son's girlfriend wants to help me hand out candy. The trouble is we don't know how many kids come treat-or-treating in this neighborhood. I need to ask one of my neighbors but nobody has been outside much in all the cold rain we have been going lately. I hope some kids come, as it's fun to see the costumes and then they can enjoy an oozing eyeball--which are very tasty.

Are you ready for Halloween yet, do you give out candy and how much do you need to buy?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Not very deep

Hey, hope you had a good weekend. I did. It was kind of a media weekend, saw two movies, the first was "School for Scoundrels". Although it was really good, very funny, like many comedies, it sort of had a moral and some lessons in it too. I like movies like that and so often the reviewers don't seem to notice (or mention, anyway) that in their critique of a comedy. It's like comedy = throw away entertainment, which is usually not true in the comedies I've seen. I don't think that funny necessarily means that it's worthless. It's sort of like happy poetry is considered not very "deep" compared to the pain and suffering-type poetry.

The second movie was really sad, Jet Li's "Fearless" and I had to dash to the bathroom after to make sure I didn't have mascara down to my chin! This movie definitely had a moral, in fact, several of them. It was really good and reminded me a bit of "Gladiator" but that may only have been because of a certain part in it.

And then, last night I finished "My Sister's Keeper" wow, what a book! I'm certainly going to hunt up that author, Jodi Picoult at the library. It's about a family where the little daughter gets leukemia and the first child, a boy, is not a good match so they specifically have another baby engineered to be her perfect match. This child and the older son are pretty much ignored while the family centers on saving the girl with leukemia. When the engineered daughter is 13 years old, she gets tired of being a donor for her sister and the case goes to court. It might sound like I just gave too much of the book away, but oh no, that's just the beginning; there are twists and turns and nuances involved. It's a great book about moral and ethical dilemmas and a good read besides!

Yeah, it's Monday but have a great day!