Saturday, January 31, 2009

Calculating Woman


I just finished doing my taxes. I like being able to do the whole process online, and then checking my bank account balance in a couple of weeks to find that Uncle Sam has made a deposit. If there are no snafus, this year's refund will hit the books just days before my car insurance payment is due. Again, *phew*!

In a former life, I worked at an accounting firm and during tax time I got a fair idea of how much different professions paid. I also saw that, other than during the months of January through April, the CPA's in the office did relatively little work, and thus briefly entertained the idea of pursuing that career. Three weeks into Accounting 101, however, I changed my mind. I am more the creative sort, anyway -- and we've all seen how trouble can befall financial professionals who express their creative sides.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

You Can't Pet a Fish

Public Service Announcement: The economic hard times are not just affecting us naked apes. Four-legged critters are falling on hard times, too. Pet shelters need extra help now, and so Pedigree is donating a bowl of food for every one of their "Maybe You Should Get a Dog" videos watched at their website (you can get a look at their SuperBowl ad, too). Click here to help out.

Now, back to my regularly scheduled blog...

It turns out that The Wailers' show last evening was sold out . . . and anyway, intellikid said I couldn't stay out late on a school night. It's probably for the best, since my entertainment budget these days is practically nil, and since I wasn't up late last night, I was able to stay alert during class this evening.

Obviously not everyone in my class was alert, however. A few slackers didn't have the online homework assignment done; nevertheless, the professor went over the answers in class. After I got home and checked e-mail, I saw that two of the students completed the assignment after class. I was able to see their responses to the questions -- and they both got one of the answers, basically a multiple-choice reply, WRONG.

And in case you were wondering, neither of them are former president Bush.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

RES 5000 vs. RASTA 2009

Posting may be more intermittent now that I am back in class. This semester it's RES 5000, Research Methods. As with the previous graduate classes I've taken, the biggest challenge I find is staying awake while reading the course materials.

And speaking of staying awake, The Wailers (yes, THOSE Wailers) are performing on campus tomorrow night. I am sorely tempted to grab a six pack of Red Stripe and go dance my ass off! Problem is, the show doesn't start until 10 pm. Well, maybe if I steer clear of my textbook, I'll be able to stay awake that late.

It's no fun being a college student if I can't . . . be a college student!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Don't Look Back

Last night I watched Dr. Who, the episode where a fortune-teller forces Donna Noble to go back and "turn right," thereby not making the choice that led her to meet the Doctor and, consequently, save the world(s) many times over. Long story short, Donna was able to reverse the reversal of her decision, and thus the series continues on.

Every now and then I let my mind wander into that "what if" realm, when I question the wisdom of choices I've made . I can honestly say I have no regrets (except perhaps the purchase of that used Volvo 960), and that everything has worked out pretty well.

I have always hated that perennial job interview/performance review question:"Where do you see yourself five years from now?" If I weren't prone to answer honestly I don't suppose it would pose that much of a dilemma, but I have the worst time with that question. Is it because I have poor planning skills? Relucance to commit to a goal? Fear of jinxing other outcomes? Know the feeling of having the rug pulled out from under me all too often?

My honest answer -- "Que serĂ¡, serĂ¡" -- tends not to go over well with managers. Nor does expressing the vision that one sees oneself winning the PowerBall Jackpot, thereby being eternally free from having to answer such inane queries.

Five years from now, however, I might have a completely different answer.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thank Odin it's Friday!

I woke up this morning thinking that it was Saturday, but realized soon enough that I had one more day of work to get through. What a disappointment.

Speaking of disappointments, our department's graduate assistant has become my "project," and today I had to confront the lad about his habitual YouTube and Facebook surfing. I wasn't sure how to handle the situation, but after catching him in the act one time too many (yes, I saw the web site before you clicked the browser closed, ninny!) I had a few words with him and, at least for the rest of the day, the problem was resolved.

It didn't help that this week there was yet another news story of a graduate student run amok. I don't think that our G.A. poses any danger to anyone, but one never knows . . . .

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

History Happens

President Obama. Doesn't it sound good?

I know the new guy has yet to prove himself, but what gives me optimism is not the fact that President Obama will be an agent for change, but the fact that he has inspired many, many Americans to see themselves as such.

We are the deciders.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Daily Routines

The Web site Daily Routines is a compendium of "how writers, artists, and other interesting people organize their days." It is at once inspiring (Franz Kafka was an inveterate procrastinator) and discouraging (Toni Morrison, John Grisham, and countless other writers manage to be their most productive in the early morning hours, those hours when I have difficulty producing anything but coffee stains on my robe).

Even on weekends, holidays, and vacations, I do have a routine to which I must adhere. I need to drink at least one cup of coffee before I even consider doing anything else. I have even pondered placing a coffee maker in my bedroom, so that I don't have to negotiate the long trek downstairs and to the kitchen in an uncaffeinated state. So far I have resisted indulging that whim, but the day may yet come . . . .

Sometimes I manage to scribble a word or two while the coffee starts circulating in my system. More often, I spend that first cup trying to remember what day of the week it is. In spite of my morning sluggishness, however, I do consider myself a "morning person." I like having a block of "dawdling time" during which I can pretend that my day is my own.

What sort of daily routine do you have?

And stop looking at my boobs.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Frigorific Friday

It's cold. Inside and outside.

Even with "modern" heating systems installed, it's not easy to keep a 100+ year-old house warm when the temperatures get into the single digits. My sleepwear in this weather definitely includes socks, although I do try to color-coordinate them to my pajamas for fashion's sake. (No, I will not get footie pjs, even though, for some reason, they are made in adult sizes.)

On the bright side, my car has heated front seats. So I almost won't mind driving to work today.

I am also grateful that I won't have to deplane into a frigid Hudson River -- wow!
(As I was typing that last sentence, the power shut off for about half a minute. If I'd been using JournalSpace, I'd have to start all over again . . . how cool!) (No pun intended -- this time.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Kids These Days

My daughter's boyfriend is here. Both "kids" are 18, neither one has a drivers' license (boyfriend's mom works an odd shift & picks him up at 9), and I think this is the first "serious" relationship for each of them.

Our house is fairly large, but it seems to shrink considerably when the boyfriend is over. Sunday he was here, too, and I busied myself doing laundry so that it wouldn't seem that I was trying to keep an eye on them.

As I walked upstairs with a basketful of clothes to put away, I couldn't believe my ears. Coming from the TV room was the unmistakable sound of . . .

Legos. They were playing with Legos.

I guess it's time for a talk.

What I Think . . .

Journalspace is . . . back?

I'm not in so much of a hurry to repatriate. One thing that bothers me is the new administrators' feeble grasp of the English language. That in and of itself doesn't mean that the site was purchased by the Russian Mafia. But it doesn't mean that it wasn't, either.

As a former employee of a "Russian Gift Importer," I know how this works. The RM (Russian Mafia) provides funding for new companies, then uses the businesses as fronts for money laundering -- or worse. (I will tell you about the Boston Borscht Party one day.)

The "new" JS is pretty bare-bones, and although the new admin promises more features soon, I'm in no hurry to hand over any personal info -- or cash -- to these folks.

Das vedanya, JournalSpace.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sew what?

More "spiffy" fashion pics for my friend jadedj, who enjoyed my get-up last weekend.

If I raise the hem on this skirt a couple inches, I'll have enough fabric to make a matching vest and booties for my doxie.

Yep, I am of the generation whose mothers taught them to sew. This talent has come in handy more than once - most memorably when a male co-worker on whom I had a terrific crush asked if I could mend his leather jacket. I shan't describe how he expressed his gratitutde . . .

I also was one of the unfortunates who had to wear a mostly homemade wardrobe, and it was no small humiliation that when I declared I wanted to have blue jeans, like the other students in my junior high class, my mother's answer was to make me a pair of red, white, and blue striped denim bell-bottomed trousers.

And yes, I had a matching (bolero) vest.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

clean coal my @$$

While campaigning in the region last fall, Obama the candidate vowed to pursue "clean coal technology" as a means to reduce US dependence on "foreign oil." That was one of the statements that clued me in to the fact that my definition of the word "change" didn't have much in common with his definition of the word.

Coal is dirty business, folks. What is even dirtier is the TVA's attempts to, er, whitewash the disastrous coal ash spill that occurred in Harriman, TN three weeks ago. In what it calls its haste to react to the disaster, the TVA grossly underestimated not only the amount of ash released, but also the potential environmental and health hazards that would ensue. I'm amazed that this environmental nightmare is getting minimal news coverage not just nationally, but even here, just a couple hundred miles from the site.

Early today, another toxic leak occurred at a TVA-operated plant in Alabama. Once again, the utility is denying any negative impact on the environment or water supplies. WTF???

Watch this video from a sampling trip taken by local environmentalists. And let our new president know that there is no such thing as clean coal.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Did You Know . . .?

The hawk moth has a 6-inch tongue! is better to be happy
for a moment
and be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time
and be bored all the while . . .
it is better to be a part of beauty
for one instant and then cease to
exist than to exist forever
and never be a part of beauty...

from: the lesson of the moth
by don marquis

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Word of Mouth

I can't tell for sure, but I think a molar has cracked.

In recent years, I have come to view dentists much the same as car salesmen: They both try to sell you something you don't need so they can have a bigger bottom line. You don't, however, get to test drive a new crown to see if you like the gold or the porcelain better. If you don't need cavities filled or other repairs, then your teeth probably need to be whitened a shade or two. Or it's time for braces. I don't have dental insurance, so this is going to be an unpleasant experience in more ways than one.

Good-bye, income tax refund . . . .

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Punching the Clock

That's what I felt like doing to the alarm clock yesterday morning. Today, too, as a matter of fact. I didn't have to go to the office for the past two weeks, and found it quite easy to stay in bed until the sun -- or the neighbor without a muffler on his truck -- woke me up. This week, getting out of bed while it's still dark out just seems inhumane.

Another thing that makes it difficult to get motivated for the workday is the fact that it's now a year since I got promoted to my current position, which coincided with the state adopting a new classification scheme for its employees; as a consequence, I have yet to receive the accompanying salary increase for the job. The economy being what it is, things don't look good for that happening any time soon. The economy being what it is, there aren't other, better-paying jobs to apply for, either.

Anybody need a freelance wench?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Soup du Journal

Although I enjoyed the break from KP duty during my travels, it's good to be back in my own kitchen, where the food is of known vintage.

It's a rainy Sunday - soup day, methinks. Maybe we'll bake some cookies, too. I developed an irrational craving for snickerdoodles during the drive home last evening.

Speaking of food, I wrote a post in my old journal about Tennessee's "Road Kill Bill," which legalizes the consumption of vehicularly-harvested meat. It seems the citizens of the state are indeed exercising their rights to "food hot of the grille" -- I did not see a single deer carcass along the several hundred miles of Interstates 81 and 40 that we traveled. (In contrast, on my recent road trip to NY and MA, there were Bambicide victims galore on the highway shoulders.)

It's only a matter of time before they invent some gadget, akin to sonar fish-finders, that allows motorists to search for their next meal of venison the way some travelers use their Garmins to locate restaurants.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Bad Thai

Ooh. Either I went a little heavy on the pepper sauce at dinner last evening, or there was something not quite Kosher in the Yum Seafood salad I (mostly) enjoyed. This morning I do not feel particularly Yum. I expect that, while daughter dear is reuniting with her buddies, I will find a cup of tea and a comfy chair at Barnes & Noble. From there I will be able to continue observing the interesting denizens of this place.

In spite of the fact that I do travel a bit for work and pleasure, I really don't get out much. That is, I don't "do" malls and other sorts of venues that presumably are a part of "normal" American life. Coming here is like an anthropological expedition for me -- our hotel is in a strip of bars, restaurants, theaters, shops, and more hotels, all catering to the people who have come here because Nashville is home to the country's Country Music industry. It just amazes me what people will spend money on, the sorts of things that are valued.

Maybe that's what's making me feel ill.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Road Tripping

Speaking of getting out of my comfort zone, today is a travel day. Off to Nashville with my daughter, who has a reunion with her Governor's School class at a place called Dave & Buster's, which I presume is the "grown-up" equivalent of Chuck-E-Cheese, from the looks of their TV ads.
The drive is about 5-hours each way, a bit much for a day trip, so we're staying overnight and may or may not have the opportunity to take in something besides the Opry Mills Mall and environs.
For example, the Parthenon is in Nashville. My daughter was mortified when a fellow student in her 8th grade Western Civ class asked if Greece's Parthenon was modeled after the one in Nashville.
I guess not everyone has a grandma who gives National Geographic subscriptions at Christmas.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


There is no real trick to being successful at any new endeavor. All it takes is a willingness to haul your ass off the sofa of complacency and, Goldilocks-like, venture into the woods in search of a new place to park your rump.

Then the cycle can begin anew.