Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Friday, October 31, 2003

Followup: Barbara Van Brimmer Endowment

For those interested in contributing to an endowment in memory of Barbara Van Brimmer, the OSU medical librarian who died earlier this month, you can either print out a donor card or follow these steps:

  1. Make gift cheque out to the The Ohio State University Foundation
  2. Indicate the purpose of the gift in the memo line of your cheque, 'Contribution for the Barb Van Brimmer Medical Heritage Endowment'
  3. Mail cheque to the Office of Medical Center Development & Alumni Affairs, 1375 Perry Street, Building 13, 5th Floor, Columbus, OH 43201.

Hogwarts Headaches...

or, the perils of escalating verbage:

Healthscout Articles

Yay! The Friday Five is back (and I'm #3!)

1. What was your first Halloween costume? A princess. I was really upset when a lady dressed like a witch gave me an apple. I knew the story. :)

2. What was your best costume and why? My current--Cthulhu. It's imaginative and unusual. Although that groupie from Rocky Horror in the paisley tuxedo was pretty decent. :)

3. Did you ever play a trick on someone who didn't give you a treat? No.

4. Do you have any Halloween traditions? (ie: Family pumpkin carving, special dinner before trick or treating, etc.) It's a religious holiday, so there are libations and offerings made in remembrance of loved ones who have died.

5. Share your favourite scarey story...real or legend When I was a kid, we were scared by a camp tell of a glowing, skeletal green axe murderer.

Thursday, October 30, 2003


Take one dowel rod, stick it in a Styrofoam ball, cover that with aluminum foil and a sea-green leaf of tissue paper (taping as you go). Add lots of long strips in front. Take two balls of aluminum foil and wrap in gold tissue paper so that you form an eye stalk. Tape generously. Take a contrasting green bit of tissue paper to add eye ridges. Build up the back of the head with excess tissue paper and cover with the sea-green paper.

Take a wire coat hanger and cut the bottom part in the middle and bend the wire out on each side to create 'shoulders'. Attach this to the dowel rod at the proper height.

Take two squares of aluminum foil wide enough to fit around the wrist with some left over and attach more strips of the tissue to the foil. These create 'tentacle' hands.

Take two more hangers and unwrap them out to form wings and cover with tissue paper. Leave the hook for attaching to the costume.

Add a long green robe that has a see-through panel in the 'chest' area, and presto! Cthulhu Ftagn!

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, Cthulhu is a giant, alien creature that in the stories of Howard Phillips Lovecraft slept in a sunken city under the sea. He is best known from the story 'Callof Cthulhu', which also gives its name to a horror role-playing game based on the mythos of Lovecraft and his admirers. Lovecraft, although he met little success during his life, had a profound effect on generations of writers that followed. His stories of corrupt family lines, crooked manses, and the unearthly beings whose mere existence unhinged the human mind are haunting. Even if you don't normally care for horror, you should check them out. By today's standards, it's really almost more supernatural thriller, with the true horror usually coming as a sort of punch-line that you have to wrap your mind around.

Happy Halloween

listening to: 'Fallen' by Sarah MacLachlan, 'It's Been Awhile' by Staind, 'I'm Still Here' by Vertical Horizon
feeling: Creative

For your Halloween viewing pleasure:
Monsters, Inc.'s Mike & Sully statues trick or treating

Speaking of monsters, I'm working on my costume tonight. I've got a styrofoam ball, a dowel rod, various shades of tissue paper, coat hangers, and a giant green robe, the key ingredients for fashioning a semblance of a 7-foot great Cthulhu. :) I'll try to get pictures made and post them here, and probably send one to Chaosium if it comes out nicely.

Go me!

Oh, how appropriate...

listening to: 'Unwell' by Matchbox Twenty
feeling: Refreshed

I've been paid and I've paid back the loan that kept me from being evicted, the court costs involved, and now I'm turning to the other bills. I even got my reimbursement cheque, finally. :) Between that and having three days off (and with a conference going on at work, it'll be slow during the part I am working), I'm doing a lot better. My stomach was still having some issues today, but not nearly as bad at it had been.

I just switched my utilities bills over to e-billing, meaning that instead of getting mail that I invariably wind up losing, it'll come to my e-mail box. That probably doesn't seem spectacular, but I have no trouble staying organised as long as it's on a computer; paper becomes clutter. Since I have a tendency to lose bills, I tend to pay them late, and that builds up a problem. One of the quirks of my particular form of obsessive-compulsive disorder is that I have trouble dealing with all the steps to send off a bill. It's a reminder that I have to deal with the world outside, and I tend to sort of build up this sort of nest of clutter to keep the world out, which means I then lose the physical bill or my chequebook or don't have the stamps--that sort of thing. I know it sounds stupid, but it's an anxiety thing; there's a reason I'm on Paxil, and it's helped immensely. I've gone from living in piles of stuff with little pathways wending their way around to some semblance of normalcy--a real home and not a hoard. What surprises people is that all the years this plagued me, I did okay at work. But at work, it's not really an issue, because I just make a requisition, and I do most of those using e-mailed forms, too, so it's just one step. Junk mail goes immediately into a shred box or a trash can that other people then come and empty, and most of my files are kept on the computer (and backed up regularly). Also, I'm not watching my own limited funds dwindle--as the balance at home goes down, I get more fearful, afraid that I won't have enough to live on, and then in the process I wind up with late fees and things that make it all worse. I'm careful with my work budget, but I'm not emotionally vested in it. Does that make sense? Probably not. I know it's irrational. That's the trouble with anxiety disorders--they are completely irrational, quirky brain chemistry starts and fits that mess with your life, although they're at least not the true craziness of psychosis, where you lose touch with reality itself. But irrational though it may be, I'm starting to understand that this is exactly what I'm doing. My anxiety causes me to obsess on failure, so I don't take action, which of course ensures the failure. And it causes me to compulsively build up obstacles. I'm tired of living my life like that, and the fact that things are even tighter now means I can't afford to do it at all. Fortunately the therapy, both aimed at my brain chemistry and my coping skills, have literally meant the difference between night and day for me. I have hope for the first time in a long while that I can handle life's curve balls head on.

I also set it up so I can pay all of bills online, since that option's available now. So...I won't have any excuses to procrastinate. That basically means that I can pay everything but my rent online. Yay. Now if I could just get all my income into direct deposit. :)

Drat...and a puzzle

Last night I wrote a very long post only to discover that Blogger was down for maintenance by the time I went to publish. Sooo...I'm not sure I'll be able to recreate the moment, it was mostly about health issues and feeling down. I feel much better today, so I'm not sure I want to try to revisit that. But one thing I did want to pass on, just in time for Halloween...a holiday crossword. Enjoy, and sorry it wound up posting later than I intended. :)

The Librarian, a movie

Okay, there may be some stereotypical nerd stuff involved, but as someone who is a librarian who's 36 and still working on degrees, I'm intrigued.... Check out: Fangoria - America's Horror Magazine for details. I want that job! :)

Proclaim your pride

Check out these Librarian Tees!

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Okay, RL fans...going, going...

No one has actually taken me up on the lucky #10000 reader contest. So I'm giving you a second chance. Just be the first to drop me a line mentioning the contest, and you'll win a nifty prize and a mention here on the blog. Got it? Simple, right? You don't even have to solve a puzzle.

I'm not used to it becoming dark so early...

although, of course, our system of time and daylight savings are purely artificial...but my mind was used to it getting dark between 7 and 8 and now its 6 and 7, so it's a mental adjustment. I'm sort of linked to the weather and changes anyway in terms of my mood. Today was rainy and cold and although I meant to take advantage of being off to do some stuff around the house, I tend to be up and all housework-happy on bright sunny days. So today was mostly getting rest, watching a little TV, and cuddling up with the animals. I have to admit, maybe that's what I needed.

I was also hoping I'd get my medical reimbursement in the mail today so I could get some groceries and some laundry done, but no such luck (having three cents in my account's a little nerve-wracking). But at least my rent is paid, my reimbursement and retirement cheques are on the way, and I get paid Thursday, and I've scraped interesting meals out of a fairly low larder, so things are looking up a bit.

I've felt a little like a slug today. But it's been a fairly calm and restful. and tomorrow I have my last day of vacation for the week, so there's still time to 'do stuff'. I needed today. Today was the first day in about a month where my insides weren't cramping or otherwise misbehaving from stress. I used to have an overscheduled life. Now I try to spend every other day or so at home and I haven't been doing that lately. I had to learn to enjoy spending time with myself again. I didn't quite get to the point of curling up with a book--my true happy thing to do--but watching old favourites like Murder, She Wrote and M*A*S*H, were nice, and I saw an older Charmed I hadn't seen before.

But it's dark now and I'm warm and cozy and part of me just wants to sleep for a little bit. So, I think I'm going to take a nap. I've had the luxury of sleeping in the last couple of days but tomorrow I have a doctor's appointment and work over at KET. And of course, Halloween is a busy time for me, NaNoWriMo is about to start, and then we run into the general holidays that tend to take up a lot of time, too. I guess I should enjoy a little rest while I have it. I think I'll go to bed for a little while, then get up and get some work done.

Hope your life isn't too stressful at the moment. Or, if it is, take a few minutes to just breathe.

Not a hoax, but not for me...

Well, I've scanned through the 'novel' that is the jumping point for the talent contest I mentioned the other day. Granted, I could be misjudging this project, but my intuition is to not bother. Between the interminal e-mails and attempt at hype and the first tangible item to read...well, this was the e-mail I sent back:

I have read through the novel and have decided that I do not want to particpate. Frankly, I'm not impressed by its quality, I would not in any way want to profit by the tragedies of 9.11, and I'm concerned by the ramifications in terms of promoting misunderstanding rather than peace. Please remove me from your list. Thank you.

Eilir Rowan

The project basically builds on a lot of the anti-Islamic anger post-9.11 and uses the attacks as a backdrop. I have no doubt that I could help breathe some life into the characters, but I'd rather not get in on this one. It's possible that they might be heading towards some sort of resolution through this, but it could go several ways. Maybe it would okay for someone else. But not me.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Tell Bush to recall himself

Not that I think it would be likely to happen, but I do agree that if you apply the arguments Republicans made for the recall of Gov. Gray Davis to President Bush, there's a strong case for it. So, I added my name to the petition. So, if you agree, tell Bush to recall himself. But more importantly, there's another election in 2004--and hopefully voters who disagree with how the current Administration has performed will come out in the numbers necessary to bring about change.

And for those of you who do agree with this Adminsitration's handling of things, come out and vote, too. I'd rather see someone in office with 'a clear mandate' than have it come down to hanging chads and court opinion. :)

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Figures that sometimes those general horoscopes are right:

listening to: 'End of the Beginning' by Ancient Future
feeling: Frazzled
Things start out on the wrong foot this morning and seem to go downhill from there. You're in some kind of slump and you might need some help pulling yourself up and out of it. You can't seem to find a group of people that you feel comfortable around, yet you don't really want to be by yourself either. Spending time with a pet or with children can help ease your pain and make you forget what's bothering you, even if it is just for a little while. If you don't have any kids or animals of your own, offer to baby-sit for someone close to you or spend time at an animal shelter.

My weekend has been its typical full schedule, but I have Monday through Wednesday off, so I'm hoping that will help pull me out of my slump. It couldn't hurt, anyway. :)

Pluses to this weekend:
  • I finally got my computer seated so it doesn't sound like it needs a muffler; it started sounding like it would take off a few days ago and needless to say concentration was not possible. Of course as I type that, it started up again. Sigh. A good hit to the top seems to tamp it back down and quiet again. If I can just keep it in this configuration...it's like trying to get a TV antenna JUST right. But it's liveable (and no, I can't find anything loose).
  • I've figured out how to finish the current Cthulhu adventure...I think.
  • I've decided what to go as for Halloween--Great Cthulhu himself. I have a putrid green robe that I think was part of a giant costume at some point--it has a viewable window for my head at about chest high for the robe. I can then take tissue paper and make a squid face and attach it to a stick like a sign. I'm not sure anyone will know what it is, but still...it ought to be fun.
  • Someone treated me to lunch today. Yummy Chinese food. :)

Minuses for the weekend:

Oh, there were several...but you know what, I really don't feel like enumerating those. They're all things I can surmount, anyway. So, I'm going to end on a postive note, no matter how tired and cranky I feel. In the meantime, I'm going to spend time with my animals and listen to soft New Age music and think calm, happy thoughts. I'm tired of being one big ball of nerves, and I'm on vacation. I ought to be enjoying myself, right?

I wish I could tell

whether I'm actually about to try out for an interesting experiment or if I'm getting my chain yanked through some sort of elaborate hoax or worse.

It began a month and a half ago with an advertisement on Blogger's ad at the top of this page for a web talent contest, a sort of interactive novel that brought different talents together in a mix of role-playing, writing, and production all at the same time. Obviously, my interest was piqued.

In the interim I've received several e-mails from one person full of all sorts of bizarre, mysterious hoops that are either designed to protect the product or to get me to help market an equally bizarre, mysterious something-or-other; whether propaganda, fraud, oh, who knows. So, I'm a little paranoid. So, I'd rather have info up front. I haven't' dropped out of the thing yet. But I'm waiting to get the mysterious download of the first part of the novel before I throw my full resources into the thing. Somehow I wouldn't be surprised if the 'Producers' as they keep being called read this and throw me out of the thing entirely, but really, if they purport to want people who can think, I'm demonstrating that right now. Unfortunately, the only references I've found online have been to the contest announcement, rather than anything about its veracity. And the new website at least has a list of other names that may, indeed, be the 'Producers', but again, I don't believe everything I read. I guess what gets me is there are a lot of odd steps, with the e-mailed instructions in direct opposition to the ones on the websites, with a bit of mockery in the e-mails towards anyone who doesn't want to run through the process.

Unfortunately, perhaps, this whole peculiar thing has raised my hackles in terms of sensing something 'off' but at the same time I'm just too damn curious to drop out now. Still, if anyone else has an idea of what's going on, let me know. If, as I continue, it turns out to be legitimate (or not), I'll follow up in a later post. (I've at least gotten a response from the latest hoop, so I should know something in a couple of days). I still wonder if at the end of everything I'll find that the wizard is just one small person behind the curtains. But we'll see.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Disturbing issues on the public health front in Africa

Nigerian Muslims Skeptical of Polio Plan: Certainly an individual is within his basic human rights to refuse immunisation for himself or his children. But when it comes to eradicating disease, these decisions put others at risk. Think of all those American mothers who, out of mistrust for the varicella vaccine, held 'chicken pox' parties--never mind that the disease has far more complications than the vaccine and can be deadly--especially for adults who have never had it. But in turn, I think it's fair for the state to say, fine, but if you want to go to school, enter the workplace, or even travel from place to place, you need to show proof of immunisation. Period. If the leaders of an area use fear and rumours to encourage people not to take life-saving vaccines, then they must deal with the problem of an populace susceptible to disease and unable to carry out the very things that will help their economic and political stability--and be liable for the resulting paralysis and deaths that occur. That seems fair. Some may choose to travel to another state to receive the medicine. Many, of course, will not be able to. But so long as there are those who can provide it without government interference, the choice is in the hand of the individual. If the government does interfere, I think the national government of Nigeria--which is already dealing with issues related to the recent move towards conservative Islam in the north such as the well-publicised adultery trials, with their sentences of stoning--may find ways to sanction the north for the greater good of Nigerians.

Our own government does this as well. Don't want to reduce your speed limit? Fine. But don't expect federal money. That sort of thing. There are ways to influence policy without directly opposing it or punish people directly just because their leaders would rather use religion for their own agenda.

I hope there is better cooperation in the attempt to eradicate polio and other diseases. Although I recognise the concern (certainly there are many Westerners who don't trust big companies or organisations either), there comes a time when leaders--those presumably with greater education or resources--must decide whether to choose on the side of personal or party power or on the side of the greater good that would have been advocated by any just faith.

This was part of my offbeat news...

but I think it's worthy of more. I applaud Mr Zaal and his quest to heal the hate that he grew up with and to use his perspective to help others understand that hate and prevent it. Check out his story at: Timothy Zaal, neo-nazi turned skinhead hunter

One last thing...want a prize?

Well, there's no Friday Five this week, since they're on hiatus. But in lieu of that, here's an offer for you. My counter is about to go over the 10,000 mark (yay!). The first person to e-mail me and mention this offer after it reaches 10,000 will get a prize. Sound cool? Hey, I may be broke, but I've got lots of nifty stuff lying around. :)

red ball:7

Happy Birthday, NaNa

One last thing. My grandmother, Frances Duncan Vanarsdall, was born on October 24, 1921. She's been gone for ten years now and I still miss her vivacity. NaNa was my most eccentric relative, and I didn't always understand her, but she was also one of the most supportive. She never batted an eye when I basically got into a relationship with a bisexual man and his male lover-she accepted them both because they were with me, without judgement, yet when I came to my senses and got out of the marriage, she was the one who helped me financially so I could get an apartment and start my life on my own. She may not have understood my non-practical academic interests, but she never questioned my love for them and supported me in their pursuit. She taught me to live every moment of life and find your own path in life. She had a life full of ups and downs and in retrospect, had some very real emotional issues that prevented her from being totally happy, I think. I think a big part of her felt that in order to be loved she had to go over the top to win people over. But she made a difference in so many people's lives, especially as a nurse. She was a frontier nurse, riding on horseback. She was an army nurse and veteran of World War II. She took care of her parents and a much older husband and worked, shuttling between three cities, and just when you thought she was free of those responsibilities, she came down with cancer. She fought that disease with tremendous dignity. I learnt a lot about dying from my grandmother, too.

I love you, NaNa, and I hope, wherever you are, that you are at peace and have found love.

Bone Dust, or My Strange, Strange Life

From the is-it-Halloween-yet-department.

Okay. Very little phases me in my interaction with friends; I just have known too many 'eccentric' people to bat an eye much anymore. But then something like this happens.

A friend gives me popcorn. It's not quite salty enough for me, so I head over to the stove for the salt. Now, I know there's the large-grained kosher salt in a ceramic mustard jar, but I want something finer for popcorn. I pick up the salt shaker and try a bit, knowing that it could just as easily be pepper as salt. Bingo. It's pepper. I pick up the other shaker and a few white grains come out, but not easily. The exchange went something like this:

Me: You know, the salt is usually in the shaker with the fewer holes.
Him: Really? That one has pepper.
Me: I see that.
Him: I thought you knew (and certainly I should, having been friends as long as I have). I wondered, but I thought, well, you might like pepper on your popcorn.
Me: Actually I do, a little. But no, I was going for salt. Then I tried the other shaker.
Him: The other shaker?
Me: Yeah (Demonstrating by shaking it again. A few grains spill out. His face takes on an interesting cast.)
Him: The salt is in...
Me: The mustard jar. Silly me. I thought there might be salt in the salt shaker. Is the salt in the mustard jar for any ritual use?
Him: Why do you ask?
Me: Because I'm on my period and I don't think touching your kosher salt would be good. Althought I guess since it's what you use to kosher things, you actually can't make it ritually impure, right?
Him: No, it's just salt. (I open up the jar and sprinkle some of the salt on the popcorn, then begin to eat).
Him: Did you use the other shaker?
Me: Yeah, why?
Him: Oh, don't worry about it. (A few seconds pass.) Let me know if you feel any different.
Me: Oh? (Looking up into keen eyes. I look over to the shaker.) Um...was was in the shaker? It won't hurt me, will it?
Him: Oh, I doubt it. Don't worry about it.

Our discussion continues on other topics but seems to come back to the shaker. At this point I've fed some popcorn to the dogs and given the cat a piece to kill, without protest. So...I'm pretty sure it's not poisonous. Surely he wouldn't keep an incense or one of the more unpleasant herbs to eat on his stove??? At some point he gets up and flings dried rice on the floor. Apparently he wants to see if I have a sudden urge to pick up the grains. No. Obviously there was something odd about that other shaker, so I press the point. Finally, I get my answer.

Him: Bone dust.
Me: Bone dust? Why the hell do you have bone dust on your stove? (Note, I didn't question why he has bone dust. As a pagan, I'm used to bizarre ritual ingredients, herbs, hell, I wouldn't be surprised by eye of newt. But he's also Jewish and it's a kosher kitchen, so I couldn't figure that one out). That's not very kosher!
Him: Well, it only breaks the kosher laws if there's heat to transfer it.
Me: It's on a stove!
Him: But that part doesn't get hot.
Me: It has ambient heat! Argh. (Sudden thought hits). It was animal, wasn't it? (No, I'm not friends with Hannibal the Cannibal. But graveyard dust is a common ingredient in some of the old recipes, and for all I know...oh, no.) Please tell me I didn't just break a Noachide law. (Obviously most people recognise a taboo against eating humans. Oddly enough, though, this was my first thought.)
Him: Why do you want to know?
Me: Because, if the Jews are right, I'd kind of like to get into heaven, you know. (Noachide laws are laws that, as long as a Gentile doesn't break, he or she can get into heaven. Jews, as the chosen of G-d, are expected to follow the other six hundred and something in the Bible. Noachide laws are pretty broad: No incest, no robbery, no murder, no eating from a living animal, having a justice system, that sort of thing. Oddly enough, afterwards I checked, and there actually is no prohibition for Gentiles in terms of eating another person. So, I guess that doesn't matter. Depending on the interpretation homosexual relations either count or don't count under 'immmoral sexual acts'. Fortunately, Judaism doesn't really recognise female homosexuality in the Torah, from what I can tell. :) Although I'm a pagan, I'm not an idolatrix. So, my main sticking point is one bounced cheque a year ago that did go on my record as 'theft by deception'--but I did pay everything plus the court costs, so that may make it okay, you think? Oh, well, so much for covering the bases...)
Him: Oh. Cattle bone.
Me: (Exasperated sound. Ah, bone meal, just like we used to put on the garden. But I never expected to eat it--I am, after all, vegetarian.) Promise me that if you ever see me about to eat bone dust or anything else from a person, you'll WARN me, okay? (Sigh.) Only you would keep bone dust in a salt shaker on the stove. What about your boyfriend?
Him: He doesn't salt things. (He turns to the various items on the shelf. The mustard jar (with salt) is next to the stove. Then there's the salt shaker (with bone dust), pepper shaker, pepper mill, nutmeg, and tea. He picks up the nutmeg jar.) This has paper clips.
Me (who was doing the dishes, lays my head down on the sink and begin to laugh mightedly): Okay. Bone dust I can handle. But the paper clips are too much. That just hurts my brain. (I didn't ask why he kept paper clips on the stove.)
Well, at least it wasn't very much bone dust...only a little came out.
Him: Yeah (he said, sadly). It clumps.

You know, sometimes, just sometimes, I think my life is normal. Then something like this happens.

I guess a breakdown was imminent eventually...

This morning I went to pay the second rent installment and told them I was borrowing the last bit and would have that tomorrow. The secretary checks her records and then informs me that it isn't $60 I owe--it's $172! That's because since they filed for the eviction, I have to pay the court costs. I asked her when that would have to be paid, and she said the day before court--Monday. Mind you...I get paid on Thursday.

It was too much. Just when I thought I'd had things worked out, this was a curve ball that hit me square in the face. Granted, I'd figured I would have to pay that amount--but I thought I could pay by the 30th and all would be well. I started to break down in the office, then signed the paper I needed to for them to take a partial payment and headed to work. By the time I got to Richmond Road, I was bawling uncontrollably. So much for stiff upper lip and not reacting like the world was going to end.

Halfway to work, I saw a white car pull around in a U-turn and come up. I knew it was Dwana. I got in without even easing up on the bawling. Dwana was on her phone, said she had to go, that she'd picked me up and I was crying. She asked me what was wrong and I told her. We headed back towards work. She was the comforting presence I needed. Unfortunately, she was on a rollercoaster emotionally, too, running on almost no sleep, because her sister-in-law had gone into labour, shot into pre-eclempsia, and she'd just gotten word that her blood pressure was sky-high and they were trying to slow down the labour so she wouldn't stroke out. Her family was in an uproar with the general chaos of birth plus this latest development. They were also trying to cancel a birthday party for the pregnant woman's mother on short notice and Dwana's poor husband, who's worked something like 20-30 hours in the last couple of days, had to be on hand for a haunted house at the nursing home where he works. So, chaos.

That helped put things into perspective for me. I went in, washed my face, and tried not to fall apart again. I had a message on my voice mail. It was Bobbie from the rental office. She'd talked to the manager and they'd agreed they'd go to court since they'd started the process and get the judgement, but that as long as I paid the full amount by the 30th, I wouldn't have to move out. Meanwhile, Dwana found out that her sister-in-law's blood pressure was coming down.

So, the day was improving. I also sent in a remibursement request for $65 and withdrew all $850 or so from my retirement due to economic hardship. The financial advisor was very supportive and reassured me that I'm at the age most people are starting their retirement anyway, so my lack of ability to contribute and now the withdrawal probably will not hurt me so long as I can find a job where I have the stability to start anew. That was helpful.

Then there was a reception at work and Dwana and I both won prizes. She got a gift basket that was nifty, and I got a bizarre but perfect prize...a pen that vibrates. It had the hospital's name on it. It's supposed to be a little mini-massager to relieve stress or be used on pressure points. One of the guys I can clown around with suggested it. I got out the pen and started reading the insert and started laughing so hard that the next few winners grabbed up the remaining pens. I haven't had so much fun with an insert since we read the Reality (TM) female condom one where they said 'if Reality slips, remove Reality and insert another Reality'.

Here's the text (verbatim...complete with errors...I guess it's of foreign manufacture):

Healing with your pen pal J-Mo.
J-Mo is user-friendly, you can have its companionship any time, any place.
J-Mo helps you to get rid of your headaches, sinus problems, ,backaches, nect pain etc and also relieves eyestrain tension due to stress.
J-Mo is your Buddy!

Important Notes

  • Continuous usage for more than 15 minutes is not advisable. Do not message the same area for more than 5 minutes.
  • Men with any abnormalities and women in pregnancy should consult doctor and seek approval on the usage.
  • Stop use immediately if you feel ill, itch and reddinging or bruising of the skin or any abnormal conditions arise.
  • Do not use the massage pen around the skin of the eyes or any other delicate areas.
  • After use be sure the top of the massage pen do not touch any object so as not to waste power.
  • Do not use or store the massage pen in the bathroom or any camp damp place.
  • The battery can last for 4 hours.
  • Draw the battery out if you have no intention to use the massage pen for a long while.

Mind you...this means I have a miniature vibrator on a pen inscribed with a children's hospital phone number, complete with a chart of pressure points. I have to admit, my neck has been very tense (for obvious reasons) and it does help. It was just such an odd contraption. And I'm still trying to figure out what abnormalities in men preclude its use. Freckles? Two heads? What?

It really helped me recover from this morning. :)

Dwana later got a message that the baby was starting to go into distress and that if they couldn't finish labour soon naturally, they'd do an emergency Caesarian section. She dropped me off and went on to the hospital. I checked my messages later and apparently little Madeline was born, safely, around 7 tonight. Yay! The couple had specifically chosen not to know the gender beforehand, so it was a nice surprise, and Dwana's thrilled at being an aunt.

So, all's well that end's well, I guess. Crazy day (and it gets weirder...check the next post). But I'm glad, for now, it's over.

red ball:6

Thursday, October 23, 2003


I thing things will be okay on the home front. I got my unemployment cheque and Dwana took me to Kroger to convert it into a money order. The guy at the desk accidentally gave me an extra $20, and despite how desperate I was getting (especially since the cheque was a little smaller due to my hours at KET, where I don't get paid until Nov. 15th), I pointed this out to him and handed him the extra money back. Turns out honesty pays. The machine didn't automatically deduct $5 for cashing the cheque (and he let me off without it, seeing as I'd just corrected a costly error). And it looks like I'll be able to borrow the remaining amount tomorrow. So...I feel better. Dwana and I went driving back behind the store to Bunnyland, where there were only two out today (there were hordes of them this summer).

I've been busy...I went through some receipts and found $65 worth to send in for my medical reimbursement. And I called our retirement rep to see about withdrawing some money out of my retirement. I only have about $1200 in it so far, since I've only managed to contribute a little. But because it's so small, it hopefully will be okay in terms of taxes, and I'd say this counts as hardship.

I keep getting requests to send money to the reservations where people only have peanut butter to eat. I'd contribute if I could, but I'm tempted to write back and explain that I'm in the same boat at this point.


Still, things seem to be improving. So, I'm going to go on to bed and wish you a good night.
red ball:5L

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

It should have been a bad day...

listening to: 'Stairway to Heaven' by Led Zeppelin; 'Silent All These Years' by Tori Amos
feeling: Oddly Okay

...but it wasn't. Surprisingly.

Please keep in mind that it's late, I'm tired, and I've been on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster today. So I hope the following makes some sense.

I came home today to find a notice on my door that my landlord had filed for a forcible detainer (read: eviction). Okay. A small bit of panic ensued. I guess it's understandable that I could feel torn between two extremes, since I just got a letter not about signing up for another year; talk about mixed messages! But you know, it's not the end of the world. You know that feeling when you get your first 'C' in school and you feel like a total failure? Well, after that you learn that a 'C' doesn't mean that everything's over. As you get older you start realising just how many of those things are not worth an emotional meltdown. It's best to save those for the important moments.

I've been through two rough situations in terms of apartments--once I reached an impasse with a landlord (unlike this place, a terribly run-down, rat-infested--yes, rat-infested--student slum property), withheld the rent to instigate repairs, and wound up leaving but getting the place condemned. Another landlord tried to get me to sign a fraudulent lease at a higher rate so he could get a better loan from the bank (but we'd sign another one right after for the real rate, wink, wink--I didn't play that game). Of course, both times I was on a moral high ground. The challenging thing this time is that they're in the right--I'm late. I've paid most of my rent for the month but still owe $212. Tomorrow I should be getting my unemployment cheque, so that leaves about $40 to scrape up. Hangs head. If I lived in an earlier era, I'd no doubt have either wound up in debtor's prison or been sent to the colonies over it. Fortunately that is (in theory, anyway) a thing of the past.

If I understand, though, the way this works is if I can pay the rent before it actually goes to court (which isn't until the 28th), I get to stay, but I have to pay court costs (something like $98). So I'm going to check and see what the requirements are for that--since I don't get paid again until the 30th. It's not the end of the world. It's just extra hoops to navigate. Now, if I get an actual eviction order, I'll start panicking, trust me. How many places do you know have utilities included (except for personal electric) and allow pets, especially four rather geriatric ones that I'm obviously not going to get rid of? I'd hate to see me and the cats and Cerys living in my Sentra that won't go anywhere. I guess they'd eventually tow us all away.

Well, at least I have my sense of humour, even if I don't have much in the way of money and may soon be homeless. Sigh. And, I'll be getting a little money for working at KET on the 30th as well and some from my medical reimbursement account. I checked the jobs in the state and there's one at Kentucky State showing up now, too, so it's time to shoot off another resume. I also need to check and see if I can draw on my retirement fund at all; it's the only savings I have, and I managed to put very little away before the whole layoff thing happened. The good news is when I have next to nothing I'm less likely to spend it on anything. The bad news is I was already behind when the layoff happened, so that's made things harder. Sigh.

Yesterday I was hit with an urge to clean out some of the junk in the house, do some housekeeping like vacuuming and going through an ever-growing pile of junkmail--basically things to help make things less cluttered and more restful. Today I concentrated on making someone else's life a little better, which wound up making me feel better, too. I also continued the mad housekeeping trend today, and really feel like I channelled my frustration productively. It's sort of frustrating, but sometimes the OCD makes me want to, well, just let things pile up in some sort of nesting hoard. My natural tendency when I'm feeling anxious or threatened is to stop doing all those little tasks that make our homes liveable. But occasionally it makes me want to do the exact opposite and rid myself of the clutter. It's almost like a binge and purge cycle. The medicine helps a lot to keep everything on a more even keel. Even so, I can tell I was heading towards depression, because I wasn't taking the time to put things back in their places, so I'm glad I revved up into cleaning mode.

Tomorrow I'll find out whether I need to pay the court costs on the court date (court is two days before I get paid, so hopefully not), put in some hours at both workplaces, and try to come up with that final deficit, and focus on doing what I can to improve my situation (like prep another round of resumes) and try not to worry about what I can't change. Wish me luck.
red ball:4

20 Great Google Secrets

PC Magazine discusses 20 Great Google Secrets, several of which I didn't know about, and I can usually coax just about anything out of Google (Calculator?! It comes with a calculator?)


LISNews.com | Project Gutenberg Publishes 10,000th Free eBook

The Librarian's Guide to Anime and Manga

Checkout The Librarian's Guide to Anime and Manga for everything you need to know about these Japanese genres (say that five times fast!)

Now if we can just get AOL to use them...

Worried about the waste of all those CDs floating around? Never fear...soon they could be made out of...corn. Um...that's going to be an interesting issue in conservation; most plastic discs aren't exactly archival, either, but biodegradeable discs are another can of worms altogether. Great for the environment, but what about libraries?

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Strange dreams

feeling: Rested

Two nights ago, I dreamt of vampires fighting in a world that was never day, always seemed to be raining, on streets where no one who could avoid being out would be. The night before last, I dreamt of nuclear armageddon, a group of mis-matched people trying to survive an attack in a series of connected warehouses that become a warren of hiding places far enough from the epicentre to have survived the immediate issues of radiation but without supplies, where roving bands of other survivors fight for what few resources remain. The dream seemed to last all night, in full cinematic experience, with children being born, only to find that at the end of 25 years or so a new world had been built above them that they never knew, and that it hadn't been a nuclear exchange but some other mysterious weapon, and at the end, the survivors managed to get into a balloon craft and sail away to a new life. I also remember a woman whose main goal was to preserve her collection of memorabilia of the royal family of Sweden. There was also a young man who had never seen the world outside.

As I've mentioned before, when I dream, my dreams are generally more coherent than fragmentary--they seem to play out all around the consciousness with a hyper-reality that seems like a combination of living real life and that intense feeling you have when you've let yourself become part of a movie or a book; there's just enough surreal quality to keep you from thinking you're just living life, especially since the perspective changes, as if going to different camera angles, sometimes with touch and scent as well as image and sound. I've never been aware of dreaming in anything but colour, although sometimes it's deliberately bleached, like in the Goth views of the vampire world. My mind is the director, and I'm usually either a participant (sometimes taking various roles in the same dream) or sometimes it's as if I'm watching unseen by the players. I wonder if that's a product of a more visual society, with our TV and movies? Or maybe it has something to do with how deep I can go into a movie or book, to the point of not noticing the world around me. Hmmm....

Last night I was having a series of shorter dreams, the type that are not so vivid, which actually tends to be a little more restful. I mean, how are you supposed to get rest if you're struggling and fighting for survival in your dreams all night? Maybe they're repressed fears and struggles coming out at night, after all, with the layoff, the price of acting rationally the rest of the time. I woke up at one point to find that the night had turned a little chill, with a wind shift blowing into the open windows. I went back to sleep and dreamt that I was on a bus with my ex and his boyfriend going to a Christian conference, which makes no sense, really. One, I don't have anything to do with them and haven't for years--they're both particularly nasty characters. Two, I'm pagan, the boyfriend is as well, and the ex is a framer of the Path of the Personal Divine. But we were going with a lot of others to a place that doesn't really exist on the river between Louisville and Cincinnati). They'd given everyone brown shirts with Jesus slogans on them. We got to the motel, and I found this ice cream that was Asian that was supposed to be sort of regular ice cream around a softer cream, and there was a slogan that compared it to a feeling of riding horses swiftly or a woman who has been raped to softeness. I know that makes no sense whatsoever. The point is, this latest statement infuriated me, and I refused to stay in a place that would sell this stuff. I confronted the management but they brushed me off, so after making a very public stink, I left to try to find either another place to stay or a way home. At some point, I found a woman having a large tattoo put on her back because her lover wanted her to do it. They had put an inscription and a woman's face, but there was still a lot to do, and she asked them to stop, and he pressured her to continue and she caved in. They finally finished I talked to her and she gave some excuse of 'so and so' wanted her to do it and he wouldn't think he loved her, and they'd said it wouldn't look right otherwise. I told her they'd been at a point where they could have just finished off the girl's hair and it would have looked fine, and that she should never let someone pressure her into anything she didn't want to do. I don't think it's coincidence that my ex was in that same dream. But I don't get why I'm dreaming this sort of stuff now. I feel much more like I did in the dream...the one who would not hesitate to do something because it is right rather than because someone wants me to. I used to be very much like that girl. It was an interesting juxtaposition of personality. But it's odd timing, and I haven't really been thinking of my past so much as my future lately. But for what it's worth, that's what percolated out of my subconscious.
red ball:3

Monday, October 20, 2003

Fall cleaning at its finest

I have never been a neat freak. As a child, the one on-going rebellion I had with my parents was over my room; it was especially a sore point with my dad, who once came in and just went through my drawers, etc., and threw away things that probably looked useless, but were important to me (like fossils). Strangely enough, though, I really don't remember it being that messy, and everything looks fine in the rare photographs I have of my room. But I tend to be a clutter magnet, and at my lowest tend to hoard things out of anxiety. That said, I do so much better when I have an uncluttered space. Nor do I mind doing housework, although I'm better at doing it for other people than for myself (Dwana and I thin we should start some sort of house exchange where people switch houses to work on).

And tonight, the mood actually struck. I got a lot of junk mail and general clutter out of the way. The living room looks much better, and I've finished part of the bathroom, too. I'm going to work my way over the the study which, face it, has become something of a 'junk room', especially since the computer is in the living room these days.

Anyway, I feel a sense of accomplishment, and now I'm just sleepy. So, having admired my handiwork, I'm going to bed, and tomorrow is, indeed, another day. No one said I had to do this all at once, after all. :)
red ball:2

Sunday, October 19, 2003

You know, I love Charmed,

but there's something I just don't get...they took the great love story between Piper and Leo and gave it yet another giant hurdle by having Leo take a position as Elder with Piper expected to go on in life as a single mom, but as near as I can tell, Leo seems to have plenty of time to shadow Chris (the new, mysterious Whitelighter from the future) to find out what he's up to or to babysit his own son. So, why not just let the unhappy couple get back together?

I'm still convinced that Chris is a Halliwell. The book seems to recognise him, he seems to display both the orbing of a Whitelighter and some of the telekinesis in the Halliwell line, and there's been some foreshadowing (Leo telling him he's not family, for instance). He seems to want to protect Wyatt and the sisters but at the same time he seems to have a shady side, so it's hard to figure him out. I originally thought he might be Wyatt, but he doesn't have Wyatt's healing gift. I'm wondering if he might be Paige's son? That would make him part Whitelighter, but maybe not as powerful. Or he could be Wyatt's--I'm not sure how far in the future he comes from, and that could explain his obsession (an almost personal one) with keeping Wyatt alive and well. Ha, it sure would freak Piper out if she found out Chris was her GRANDson. Or, he could be Wyatt's brother. Granted, Leo and Piper seem to be on the outs but they're obviously still in love... And he has a sort of adversarial relationship with Leo that just screams father-son. Hmm...I guess time will tell.

For those of you who haven't been drawn into this supernatural drama, you might want to check it out. It's not Shakespeare (although tonight's episode did have feuding families and tragick lovers) but it's a mixture of trying to save the world one apocalypse at a time (sound familiar), sisterly bonding, and decent character development. It's sort of Wicca run amok--what people wish witchcraft was, rather than what it really is, but it gets some stuff right and makes it clear that the rest is made up, anyway. I have to admit, of everything on the show, what it makes me wish I had was a sister. :) Because in the end, it's the family ties that matter more than vanquishing daemons.
red ball:1

Friday, October 17, 2003

Psychology lessons via bouncing rocks...

I'll stick with Paxil, thank you, because it works well for me (although different people respond better to different medicines, so keep trying if you are suffering from similar issues!) This little quiz pegged me right (although the OCD and panic disorder rock would have worked, too). It's a cute illustration, but somewhat misleading.

Personality disorders are actually something totally different (Axis II rather than Axis I, which most anxiety disorders fall under). I'm no psychologist, but I've had it explained to me like this: Axis I disorders (which include OCD, depression, panic disorder and social anxiety--all treatable by such medicines as Paxil or Zoloft, as well as schizophrenia, which can be treated by other classes of medicine) tend to be disorders where the brain chemistry is really off. Personality disorders, on the other hand, are pervasive ways of coping that may have a biological and environmental base--an abused child, for example, may be more likely to develop a personality disorder due to genetics, but the abuse causes coping methods to come to the forefront that may work during the abuse but may leave the person ill-equipped for dealing with normal situations. They can be very difficult to treat; often clinicians will focus on taking care of the Axis I issues a person may have with medication and Axis II disorders with therapy, such as cognitive-behavioural or dialetical behavioural therapy. If you look at all results, for example, the cutting/self-abusive rock is more in line with the Axis II borderline personality disorder.

Results...: "-pee-
You are the Social Anxiety disorder rock! :(

::Which rock personality disorder (from the Zoloft commercial) should you have? (Results contain pictures!)
brought to you by Quizilla"

PS, Funny, I never saw it as a rock. I always saw it just as a bouncy cartoon character who loved insects. Is this some hidden ink blot test? How do you see it?

Yay! It's Friday!

1. Name five things in your refrigerator. Salsa con queso, Amish butter, malt vinegar, Miracle Whip, mustard

2. Name five things in your freezer. Mint ice cream, bean and chees burrito, Boca burger, corn on the cob, Amy's frozen dinner

3. Name five things under your kitchen sink. Trash can, dishwashing liquid, empty glass wine bottle, trash bag, pipes

4. Name five things around your computer. Darius, Spock (both are cats), phone, mug, pen, book

5. Name five things in your medicine cabinet. Toothpicks, deodorant, contacts, cotton swabs, lavendar oil

Thursday, October 16, 2003

My complaints about SUVs aside...

they work marvelously for vet runs and other unwieldy projects. :) Thanks Dwana and Eric! Especially Eric, who forewent his normal vehicle and crammed a 6'7" frame into a much smaller car for the day. :)

Here's Your Weekly Crossword

listening to: 'Carnival' by Natalie Merchant
feeling: Is it Friday yet?

Here's your weekly puzzle--a little late, but I hope you enjoy it. It's about library jargon, so you library folks will have an edge, I'm afraid. Don't worry, I have Halloween and other more general ones coming up soon. :)

So, do you know your library jargon?

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Hope I won't disappoint...

...but I'm feeling a little under the weather today, so I'm not going to make my weekly crossword puzzle. I may tomorrow, but if not, check back next Wednesday instead. Thanks. :) I'm going back to bed now.


No Respect! Jobs with the Least Prestige

Well, librarians didn't make either greatest or least, and I in the case of the latter, I guess that's good--although teachers made it to #4 on the side of greatest and have made huge gains over the years, which is nice. Least prestige? Real estate broker. Now, what I don't get is that if you look at the ones with the worst prestige, a lot of them make a lot of money. Why don't we pay the ones we respect, like our teachers, our police, or our military, more?

Welcome to the club

China Becomes only Third Nation to Put Man in Space

Sci-fi geek that I am, I'm all for various countries (or even better, international cooperation) joining the move to explore space. It increases our chances as a species to go 'where no man has gone before' (not to mention put that whole 'did we or didn't we go to the moon' question to rest). Cheesy, yes. But true. :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Panera + IBS = :(

But all the same, at least the food was wonderful, even if I'm paying the price now, especially the broccoli cheddar soup. We ordered lunch today as a continued celebration for a co-worker's birthday. At lunch I also saw my former boss, Kathy, which was great. Later I went to visit a friend and then had a tiny nap.

I've also been reading First Test, volume I of the 'Protector of the Small' by Tamora Pierce. It isn't the finest phantasy I've ever read, but it's entertaining and I think I would particularly have identified with it when I was about 10 or 12. It does a nice job of showing the struggles of women in a man's world without getting too preachy. The heroines are not super-women; they're believable and have their own self-doubts. The characters are not as thoroughly developed as, say, Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books (which in turn can drive a person mad after so many books), but still very fun to read, and they do an excellent job of describing the fighting moves themselves--indeed, the author pays particular attention. Unlike Lackey's books, which have quite a bit of emoting, these tend to focus (at least the series I'm reading) on a more stoic stubborness. I'll be interested in how the other two series play out as well.

When I was a child, like many future librarians, I was a voracious reader. During summers I would read up to six books a day. Until recently, I never considered that I might have to force myself to read. But between suffering from depression for awhile and just dealing with the everyday issues of adult life, I slowly started going for longer periods without pleasure reading. Reading became something I did due to studies, and eventually I couldn't even do that. It's one reason that I like reading children's/young adult fiction. If I get to a point where I find I'm having trouble making time to read, I pull out Harry Potter--or any other quick, imaginative children's story that can draw me into its world quickly before I have a chance to blink and go back to other things. Lately I've been having trouble again...I started re-reading Terry Brooks' Sword of Shannara, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, and even though I love the story and have since I was about 15, I couldn't seem to get into it, especially as I was managing to only read during bus stop waits, etc. Since I've been actually eating lunch with people instead of reading during lunch, my reading time has largely diminished. But I'm making time, regardless. And the Pierce books helped get me on track. After a couple of hours on this volume, I'm ready to tackle volume II tomorrow. Yay. I hate feeling like I don't have time to read. You'd think with the layoff I would, but I've managed to fill my time pretty quickly, and if I'm bored, I'm more likely to play on the computer now than read, which is a little sad. So, I'm going to make an effort to not spend quite as much time online and more deep in a book. :) And the other nice thing is that as I read, I feel more like writing as well.

For now, though, having finished the book and watched Charmed, I think I'm going to head on to bed. 'Night.

It was a blustery day--

typical of fall, with the wind whipping your hair against your face and the leaves blowing in all their sunlit colours whilst the sky itself hovered in layered shades of grey. The type of day where you can feel the life around you ebbing towards sleep but at the same time the air seems full of a sort of spiritual tumult, it's power energizing, magical, glorious. The chill in the air hints of winter to come but the world bursts with the last fruits of harvest.

I love that kind of day. I feel one with the wind, like the crow, spreading my wings to fly, if only I knew how, watching for something bright amidst the grey and tan around me. Or like the goose, rising with my brethren to turn towards the south and warmer climes, our voices raised to mimic the Wild Hunt as we fly into the clouds, following the leader in a perfect 'v'.

On a day like this I can't help but sing the Libana round--'Autumn time, red leaves fall, while the weeping sky looks over all, Demeter sadly walks the land, the dying grasses in Her hand.'

"Repeal the USA PATRIOT Act" bumpersticker

Seen at LISNews.com:
eBay item 3631519705 (Ends Oct-19-03 08:34:48 PDT) - "Repeal the USA PATRIOT Act" bumpersticker

Hmmm...an interesting peer-to-peer concept for tracking government in action

Citizens strike back in intelligence war

The concept is interesting; the access to information in a non-centralised database designed to ferret out irregularities could be a benefit in a free society; the potential can of worms is, quite frankly, humongous. It should be interesting to see how it goes.


I've been saying this for years. Granted, some SUVs, particularly those built from the 'ground up' rather than being a glorified light truck with lower minimum standards, might be safer. Maybe the godawfully huge ones are. But as someone who frankly isn't likely to drive anything but a small car, I'm rather against SUVs. Not are they (generally) gas-guzzlers (although that's improving), they're hard to see around, tend to rollover and, in some cases aren't required to be as safe (say, in the side impact area, a weakness of light trucks, too). Not what I'd choose to put my child in. Give me a mini-van or a large car that has some actual steel in it. I just don't understand the appeal of SUVs. I mean, yeah, if you live in hilly country or for that matter out in the country, they make sense. But the giant spotless ones I see everyday don't.
My US Study Calls SUV Safety Into Question

Okay, I'm finished with my rant now. No offence, those of you who have an SUV. It's just a peeve of mine.

Happy Blog Birthday--it's this many!

I started writing 2 years ago today. It was right after the September 11th attacks and I felt like I was going crazy and that I needed an outlet for my feelings. I've tried to keep that but add news and other aspects of a big part of my life, being a librarian, because the thing is, I think I'm fairly typical as a librarian, but I'm not stereotypical. So, I thought it might be good to put a little bit of a real librarian out into cyberspace. If you take this site along with all the others out there, you'll see we're a varied lot, but we tend to have a few passions in common, like aiding access to information and education, helping people learn to evaluate information and thereby gain knowledge, fighting censorship, enabling literacy, that sort of thing. And a lot of us have not so predictable passions in common, too; every librarian I've known has been a collector of some sort, whether it be comic books, shoes, model trains, stamps, Harleys, or weird trivia. The truly eccentric catalogue them.

Anyway, thanks for reading these ravings. I hope to continue my mission of mixing news, humour, diary entries, etc. I suppose it's sort of a verbal webcam into my life. I'm not sure why anyone who doesn't know me would want to read it, but I'm glad you do. :)

And today is also my friend Tracy's birthday. Happy Birthday, Tracita! Hopefully she'll take time out from wedding plans, house setup, and Mars mission robotics and go have some fun. :)

Monday, October 13, 2003


listening to: 'Ironic' by Alanis Morissette
feeling: Optimistic

Sorry about the triple post...sometimes when I post from the Blog This! shortcut it runs away from me.

I'm feeling a little less morbid today, although still a little introspective. It's been a very social day. I went to work, then went to a candle party over at a co-worker's house and met a few new people. Then a few of us went out to a dollar movie and saw Bruce Almighty. One of the girls is about 6 months pregnant, it was her birthday and her husband had to go out of state for work, so we thought it might be nice to go out.

The movie was funny, and somewhere along the way it helped me appreciate what I have rather than mourn what I don't have. So, that was nice. I'm sitting here typing with a kitty sitting on the bookshelf with his two front paws on my legs. The animals have been fed (thankfully, Kroger cashes unemployment cheques, which was good, as the credit union was closed today for Columbus Day.

So, everyone's just sort of chilling out and seems happy. And yes, they're getting up in years, but you know, even with all the struggles I've had over the years, they've had lives full of love and protection, and they've enriched my life so much. So, yes, I know the next few years will be hard. Spock, my oldest, has quite a few lumps along his stomach and I can't tell it they're just little fatty deposits or tumours. Buns has his fur back, but still has skin issues which won't heal. Cerys has a little of both issues. Darius, the youngest, seems in good health, but even he is 12. But all I know is that I love them, and when the time comes, I hope it's peaceful and that they know I love them.

That's what really matters, don't you think? In the meantime, there's no use worrying about the future; planning, yes, improving yes, but living in the moment is the best way to make the most of the future, because if you lose touch with the here and now tomorrow becomes just a dream (or nightmare) rather than reality.

In remembrance for a fellow medical librarian

The Columbus Dispatch Obituaries:
Van BRIMMER Barbara Van Brimmer, age 55, of Columbus, died Thursday, October 9, 2003 after a short battle with cancer. Mrs. Van Brimmer was an Associate Professor and curator at the Medical Heritage Center, Prior Health Sciences Library, The Ohio State University. Barbara was a graduate of Miami University (OH) and received her Master's degree from the University of Mississippi. Friends may call 5-8 p.m. Monday at SCHOEDINGER WORTHINGTON CHAPEL, 6699 N. High Street (1/2 mile South of I-270.) Memorial service 11 a.m. Tuesday, October 14, 2003 at First Baptist Church, 101 N. Franklin St. Delaware, Ohio. Rev. Tim Chesser presiding. The family suggests contributions to the Barbara Van Brimmer Scholarship Fund to be established at the Prior Health Sciences Library.

Several other medical librarians who knew her wrote very warmly of her. She was described as 'hard-working, good-humoured, and imaginative'--I can think of no better praise, for those are traits essential to librarianship and to being a great human being as well. Although I didn't know her, I wanted to take a moment to note her death (and celebrate her life) and to pass on news of her death so that others might have the opportunity to express condolences or contribute to her scholarship fund. That's in process of being set up, but I'm sure you could contact the school or library for further details.

PS I left out the family details on purpose to respect their privacy, since after all, this is a completely public site. I do have an address for condolences, if any of you want me to pass it on to you, or I'm sure you could forward it in care of the medical library.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Pardon my morbidity

listening to: 'Gravedigger' by Dave Matthews
feeling: A little morbid, a little sad, very human, a lot mortal

It seemed today that there was a conspiracy of elements showing the twilight of life. It's autumn, after all, so I suppose it's timely, but still....

I went home today to Danville. My mom and John were both having a lot of back pain, so even though my mom had been off and was fairly rested, she didn't feel very good. But we went ahead with the visit, anyway, and it was pretty nice. On our way down to Danville we came across a wreck and were re-routed through the gas station at Rocky Top along 27. It had been a bad wreck--it looked like it was a head-on collision, with both air bags in the car deploying and a small pickup truck whose camper flew off in the impact. I haven't heard any details of injuries or deaths, but it's hard to believe anyone could make it out alive given the damage, and so that was sobering.

Danville is a mixture of familiarity (I did live there for several years) and alien (it's built up a lot since I left). Since John was driving, we went a different way than normal, up past the Kentucky School for the Deaf. Somewhere along there we talked about school...next year it will be 20 years since I graduated from Danville High. 20 years! Where did all those years go?

My grandmother gets a little frailer each time I come home. She does okay, but her mobility has suffered from a hip fracture several years ago and her diabetes is very brittle (i.e., her blood sugar rises and falls quickly). She has a little dog who keeps her company; he's hilarious--he looks like a tootsie roll with huge ears and a tail. But she talked a lot about Pa, who died almost four years ago (that doesn't seem right, but it is!) and about some of the others in the family. She talked about my animals, who at 12-15 years old are also getting up there. My mom at one point noticed some grey in my hair. I've had grey hairs since I was 6, but it must be getting more noticeable. We just can't seem to believe that we're 79, 56, and 36 respectively. I think of my mom as middle aged, but she said she qualifies for a senior citizen discount (John says he'll never use one; that would be admitting he was old). My oldest cousin is 40; my youngest one is nearing 30. When did we all get so old?

I don't feel old. But I am starting to feel, well, nearly middle-aged. That's disturbing. It seems like the moment I stepped temporarily from college and started working on my anxiety and actually started facing some of my fears, I aged. It's sort of like when I divorced--it's like the years jumped and I went from looking like a teen to my real age. Now I'm starting to feel my age, even though most people think I'm in my mid-late 20s. I'm not sure how long that's going to last. I'm not particularly vain, but it's a little disturbing to look in the mirror, especially if you've got only a little sleep, and you don't recognise the face in the mirror--an older version of yourself seems to look back. I have to wonder, when I'm in my 70s, am I going to feel that same way? Like a youthful spark falling apart on the outside? I'm actually more active and together now than I was in my youth. But the youth has definitely passed, and I guess I'm feeling a little more mortal than usual. And I wonder how much time my grandmother has...she seemed to be holding for a long while but now I'm not so sure, and I can't even imagine my mother as old, but she will be, eventually. We all seem to be dealing with some of the effects of ageing, and I guess that when I was younger it didn't seems so...imminent.

And I have to admit, although I made the choice not to rush out and find a man just to have children, and even though I usually tell myself that it's okay if I don't, and that even though I think I'm ready emotionally, I don't want to bring a child into this world so long as my finances are so unstable, I'm starting to feel like I've missed my chance. My family sort of treats it as a fargone conclusion that I won't have children, even though I'm probably 15 years away from menopause. I think they sometimes mean to be reassuring...why would anyone want to bring a child into such an uncertain world, or kids are a lot harder to raise these days...that sort of thing. That once you have a child your world is no longer your own. But I've had enough of a life centred around me. I want to give something back to the world. At the very least I'd like to adopt a child once I can provide for a family. So, I'm not giving up on the idea of raising children, even if no one (including, honestly, myself, seems to think I'll wind up in a relationship that will provide one.

I have to admit, too, that my dwindling family makes me realise that I'm liable to live out my life very alone, except for close friends, who are in some ways more important than family. But...I don't want to be the little old lady who's forgotten in the nursing home. I don't want to leave this life without leaving some legacy behind, even if it's just the lives I could touch. When I die, I hope someone remembers me, and cares that I'm gone, like I care about the ones I've lost.

So, I'm not depressed, not truly morbid or ruminating, but as autumn leaves fall and the nights become colder, I guess I wonder where I'll be at 56 or at 79. For all that I'm pretty self-sufficient, I hope I'm not alone. I don't fear it enough to settle for anything less than a good relationship. But I do fear it, I suppose, which is why I need to do more nurturing and reaching out to others, whether related or not, to build a bit of family where there otherwise wouldn't be any.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Insemination Math

I got back from Danville (a good visit, although Momma and John were both dealing with back pain and Ma wasn't feeling so hot, either) to find a message on my machine from a dear friend. Apparently all systems were go and they're doing the insemination today in hopes of having a child. She and her husband have been through a lot and I know she must be anxious...I hope everything goes well. I'm sending prayers, happy thoughts, and this by way of support--here's hoping the early sperm catches the egg!

sperm chasing egg smileys <--- Insemination
+ pregnant smiley <---Preggers
= --------------------------------
baby smiley <---Baby

Pregnant smiley © http://1000smilies.com, used with permission. Thanks!

Another bad idea in education

CNN.com - Parents: Special ed kids used as janitors - Oct. 10, 2003

I've served as a supervisor in our own community work experience programme from the local supervisor--in fact, most of my catalogue was entered into the computer by a student, and others helped me shelve books. I can't believe that there were no other options other than having a quarter of your students sorting through recyclables and dealing with trash in front of other students.

There's nothing wrong with janitorial work...we couldn't exist as a society without it. But some people see it as demeaning work they would not do. And it's true that some kids may go on to do such work. But teens are super-conscious of differences, and certainly students are going to be ridiculed if they are doing such tasks in front of the others. It's something you might find in detention. Actually, it's something parents would be up in arms about if their kids were made to do it for detention.

It sounds like at the best, there was a lot of miscommunication going on. Parents may have known that their kids were in the programme but not necessarily the tasks they were doing. I think the school system didn't see it as a problem. Maybe they should have asked a counselor on that one. Kids with differences, whether physical or learning, already feel outcast. Part of the goal with these programmes is to increase the confidence students have in their abilities so that they will be able to go out into the workforce and gain independence. This seems counter to that. Also, the idea is to leave the shelter of school for 'real world' experience. Instead it put them in the line for ridicule from students. Ironically, most doing the same skills out in the community would not have had that experience, and they would have learnt more about working with the challenges out there at off-school sites.

Stupid thing of the day

CNN.com - Muslim girl suspended for head scarf - Oct. 11, 2003

So basically a school system is choosing to institue--and enforce--a rule despite the fact that they're probably in violation of civil rights laws. But wait, it gets better...according to the story, federal education rules were changed in 1998 so that religious headgear such as the hijab or kipa (the Jewish skullcap men are expected to wear in Orthodox Judaism) may not be exempt from such policies.

Well, I can see where they want to be consistent. But if I were on the board I'd be asking for a revision. After all, a dress code is not law, it's policy. And policy can be changed with one meeting.

But I have to admit, I'm disappointed that they would choose to suspend a student in a slavish adherence to the code, and thereby interfering with her access to education, when there are more serious things to worry about in our schools.

One of the reasons I wouldn't last two weeks teaching in a school system.

This is a great example of how the web can be used for misinformation

One of my librarian lists was talking about sites that had been constructed to illustrate bad information that mimics good information. Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division was mentioned. Dihydrogen Monoxide, if you remember your high school chemistry, is, of course, water. :)

I particularly like this quote from their editorial page:
Most of these deaths are caused by accidental inhalation of DHMO, but the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide do not end there. Prolonged exposure to its solid form causes severe tissue damage. Symptoms of DHMO ingestion can include excessive sweating and urination, and possibly a bloated feeling, nausea, vomiting and body electrolyte imbalance. For those who have become dependent, DHMO withdrawal means certain death.

This parody illustrates a lot of the paranoia people have for chemical technospeak. I haven't seen anyone on the web taking it seriously (thankfully), but a lot of science websites link to it or have run with the idea. Someone has even put up a MSDS sheet for dihydrogen monoxide.

All's well that ends well

feeling: Sleepy

Dwana called me to tell me they were going to have to find a home for the puppy; it was a case where they really didn't feel like the dog was in a good situation, and she is terribly adorable, and their hearts sort of over-ran their heads. So today was spent finding a good home for the puppy, which was finally accomplished (and no...it's not with me...I actually kept a firm rein on my emotions on this one, despite holding her most of the afternoon). Fortunately she's with someone we both know so we'll still get to see her. She's lab/border collie mix, about 6 weeks old, and just precious. I think I finally know what Cerys looked like at that age. It was so difficult not to chime in with a 'I'll take her!' But really, with my hours cut, it's a lot of work just to keep my present household going, etc. Her new home is one where she has other animals for companions and humans who can provide round-the-clock care. So, that's good. It's also great that they were able to find a home for her so quickly; Dwana and her husband have a lot going on right now in terms of health and fertility, and a tiny puppy can mean stress, sleepless nights, etc. They made the right choice, and by finding her a good home, I think they feel better about not being able to keep her.

Having dropped off the puppy, I escaped back home. I saw an advertisement for a new Battlestar Galactica series starting in December. I am so going to have to watch it, no matter how geeky that makes me. It was one of my favourite shows when I was a kid.

Well, I'm sleepy (all that dog petting) and my mom and John are coming up tomorrow to take me to Danville for a visit, so I guess I'll head to bed.

PS I'm still chortling over a co-worker who squealed in delight at the sight of a baked potato bar after 2 1/2 weeks in her native Thailand. Nice to see potatoes as an exotic goodie someone would miss. She brought us back some great souvenirs--bamboo bookmarks with little peg people dressed according to the customs of various of the northern tribes of Thailand. I went for one with lots of neck rings--I've always been fascinated with that form of costuem (maybe due to my own lack of neck). Also, I introduced several people at the lunch table to pomegranate today. It's hard to cut open a pomegranate with a case knife without too much mess, but I managed. Yum! So, I guess you could say today was full of adventure.

Friday, October 10, 2003

I am such a freakin' idiot

Ever had one of those mornings where you can't remember where your clothes are? So, I'm running about trying to figure out where the shirt is (everything else was in the drawer) and I just can't find it anywhere...or any others that will go with cranberry pants. I was beginning to think maybe I'd left a load in the laundry room...then I suddenly flashed on the fact that one load was still damp when I finished and I hung them up in the closet. *hangs head*

I so hope this is a morning-without-caffeine-or-breakfast moment and not a senior one. And, in my defence, I use my closets to store books, not clothes in general, so I'm not used to checking there.

Sigh. Thank goodness it's Friday.

Drat...You mean I stayed up for a sports Friday Five?

But it was still interesting...

How ironic. In the store this evening, the cashier asked me if I were going to watch the game tonight:

Me: Um...no...I take it there's a game tonight? Who's playing?
Him: UK and South Carolina
Me: Why are they playing in the middle of the week? (See, at least I knew it was football season, and that's unusual, as opposed to basketball, when they do it more often.)
Him: ESPN. I guess they're playing then because ESPN gives them money.
Me: Oh. Okay. (sounding both clueless and disinterested). Well...I hope they do well. (I toddle off.)

1. Do you watch sports? If so, which ones? I do, but only rarely, usually figure skating, English Premiere football. I rather consider it a badge of honour that I am largely ignorant of anything you might see on ESPN--now, if Quidditch were televised....Oh, and the Olympics always get me, not because of the sports but because they're symbolic of peaceful world competition. Yeah. I know. I subscribe to propaganda and didn't get the scandal memos. But, hey, it's a nice idea. The secret actually is that if I'm in a place where sports is broadcast...say where fans are watching a basketball game, etc., I get sucked into it unless I have no idea how the game works, at which point I'm safe.

2. What/who are your favorite sports teams and/or favorite athletes? Hmmm...well there are several skaters I like--especially Elvis Stojko and Michelle Kwan, but I can't really say I have any 'teams' per se...when I watch the soccer games, it's generally has to do with how well they're all playing rather than one team over the other. I just like the fact that there's always action, unlike American football or baseball, and it's not all volleying like in tennis. Now, growing up, in my household anyone playing against the Dallas Cowboys was rooted for, and the Oakland Raiders were the team to root for. Beyond that I didn't really understand who was who. And of course, UK basketball is a religion here but I haven't kept up with the schedules since I'm no longer living by the arena and fighting for parking. I'm not sure which is more boring to watch--golf or bowling. That said, I actually like to play sports--I just am not a good athlete.

3. Are there any sports you hate? WWF-style wrestling (give me Greek-style wrestling any day over that).

4. Have you ever been to a sports event? I've been to 3 football games (college) and 3 baseball games (minor league), and actually enjoyed each one.

5. Do/did you play any sports (in school or other)? How long did you play? The only teams I've been on are for intramural volleyball in college. That was only for a year, but I'm actually not too bad at volleyball. I'm not good at spiking but so long as I adjust for what would otherwise be a wild serve by turning, I serve really, really well. We had a class in high school called 'life sports' that gave us a chance to play several different sports, including tennis and soccer, both of which I liked. In gym, througout my life, I had an unerring ability to get hit in the head by balls. My last day in California I was beamed by a softball. Oddly enough, however, my best sport was dodgeball or war...I guess I could see the big red balls better, and I wasn't afraid of getting hit, and oddly enough, I rarely did. It was the only sport where everyone wanted me on their team--which is one reason I'm upset that it's been phased out in many places as being too 'violent'. Hello, I'd rather them take out their frustrations out with s fairly soft rubber ball than with an automatic weapon, you know? After all, that's what sports are...substitutions for war and other real-life scenarios where you can compete with some chance of not getting killed. Don't believe me? How many people root for 'their' team like they were on the squad? Where do you think polo came from? It didn't used to be a ball, you know. It was originally played with animals...or even perhaps the heads of fallen warriors.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Odd day

listening to: 'Desert Rose' by Sting
'When Sting retires, will he change his name to Stung?'--Colin, from 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?'
feeling: Content

I overslept this morning, waking up about a half hour before work and scurried out in record time. But I've felt like I was running all day as a result. I'd been dreaming that I was part of a group of kids, teens, with mutant powers. Mine was a sort of telekinetic blast that could also be used to shield me and allow me to fly. We had been kidnapped off the streets by a madman with delusions of ruling the world. This was no Xavier Home for Gifted Students. No...they were using a sort of passive torture to get us to go along with them...not allowing us to sleep or eat for days on end so long as we refused to join up, with a sort of reinforced Stalag 17 kind of environment. I woke suddenly, probably because the phone rang, but apparently I'd turned my alarm off an hour before. Sometimes I do that...I dream so vividly, so deeply that it's hard to pull myself out of the story, even when I'm dreaming of escape.

Work at the hospital was very busy...no huge projects, but lots of little things needing attention, especially the computers. Dwana was having a test akin to something an alien abductee might endure--it involved needles, clamps, and radiation--so she wasn't there today. She did survive, though (I've talked to her on the phone) and she somehow netted a six-week-old Lab/Collie puppy named Oreo out of that, which I'm sure she'll blog about.

Then I was off to KET. I must confess, I had a little bit of a 'Family Ties' moment--me, working for public television! Okay, really, I'm working for the Commonwealth with a distance learning project at KET, but still. Today was productive; I edited a web page, checked out some facts, and then looked through a set of pages that need to be made more consistent in their presentation. I've got some ideas for adding some content, too. Not bad for a couple hours' work. One of the other assistants showed me around the place. I actually got to go inside a studio. :) Oh, gee, that's so geeky, I know, but it was exciting.

Then I headed home. It had taken longer than I thought to get there on the bus since I had to go over to Limestone to catch a UK bus to get over by the stadium. When I left work, I decided I might as well head down Cooper towards home. It's probably about a mile and a half, and Chevy Chase is a lovely neighbourhood. I went into the Kroger on Romany Road and captured some burritos, toilet paper, and cat food, then headed home. By now it was getting dark. I made the mistake of hanging a right at the cathedral down Providence. Providence gets you nowhere--it was a dead end. I thought that rather ironic. So, I doubled back. I eventually got to Chinoe and Fontaine and decided that the bus was coming in just a few minutes and even though I was only a few blocks from home at that point, I was tired of walking. But at least I got some exercise in!

So, I've been curled up with the animals watching documentaries on Discover and some improv comedy on 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?' (which I dearly love) and I'm pretty contented with how the day went. It wasn't stressful--just productive. And the nice thing is, tomorrow is Friday and with it the end of the workweek. :)

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

It's the middle of the week!

listening to: 'Heaven' by Live; 'White Flag' by Dido
feeling: Mellow

I'm instituting a (hopefully fun) new weekly feature for Wednesdays to help you get over the hump--an interactive crossword, courtesy of the freeware Eclipse Crossword. I designed one in celebration of National Medical Librarians' Month (October) with lots of medspeak, and decided it really wouldn't be fun. I mean, how many people can spell Papanicolaou off the tops of their heads? (I'm not one of them, actually, although if you want to try it, you can.) So...well, this one's a little self-centred, but if you're been reading, you should be able to get the answers--they can all be found in fairly recent blog entries, and it seemed to make sense to start with something fairly easy. So, here goes:

How well do you know the Rabid Librarian?


listening to: 'Harder to Breathe' by Maroon 5
feeling: Tired but triumphant

  • Good news: I got my unemployment cheque yesterday
  • Bad news: It was half what it was supposed to be; the system doubled my pay so it didn't think I qualified for that week
  • Good news: I went down to the unemployment office and fixed the problem in something like 10 minutes
  • Bad news: It'll be a couple of days until I get the remainder
  • Good news: I get to keep the cheque they did send rather than exchange it for a new one for the full amount
  • Bad news: I had to go on the bus to put it in the credit union and they're still not running peak schedule because they have several buses out for repairs
  • Good news: I got over there before the credit union closed and got it in without problems
  • Bad news: I've already spent all but about $25 of it
  • Good news: I got some groceries, including things that I could pack for lunch the next few days, and I got a discount for signing up for a Winn-Dixie customer card
  • Bad news: I have allergy issues with a lot that I got (wheat, eggs, milk products)--cheese, whole grain bagels, eggs, plain yoghurt, natural cheese puffs
  • Good news: I'd eat it anyway (those don't bother me too much), so I might as well pay less than I would at work or eating out, and this way I was able to get things without a lot of additives/sugar/salt but whole grains and I was able to get garlic and pomegranates ('tis the season for offerings)...and I found non-concentrate orange juice that had added calcium but lots of pulp :)
  • Bad news: I couldn't find bean and cheese burritos (my main staple)
  • Good news: I should be on The Price is Right...I spent all the money in my account within a few cents, without going over
  • Bad news: I had to take the bus back, which is never fun when you're juggling groceries
  • Good news: I got a fish combo meal and small dipped cone at Dairy Queen during my wait
  • Bad news: The bus took a very, very long time...once I went out, I waited nearly an hour...I went out on the 4:20 bus and came back on the 7:50 one!
  • Good news: I am home...I am fed...I am curled up with my animals...I have food for the week, and I should get the remainder cheque (and hence pay bills) in a couple of days.

Now that's a great window sign

Move over, beer...you can get your very own Bates Motel Sign with flashing Vacancy light for less than 30 bucks.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Committee Votes Against Health Benefits For Domestic Partners

Hmmm...I feel a little disappointed by this story, but I talked to one of the council members today and it sounds like the sticking point may not be so much the same-sex partner issue as concern over the costs when you include all the people who can legally marry but have not. It's not the end, by any means.

I know Mayor Isaac angered many over her initial introduction of the plan, but I do agree with her that in doing so she was upholding the city ordinance which prohibits discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation. Since same sex partners are not permitted by law to marry, allowing domestic partner benefits helps bring equity. Obviously there are some who don't see it that way.

It sort of strikes me as a situation akin to those who disagree with both abortion and contraception. Really, if you want to reduce abortions, contraception is the way to go. I realise that there are religious concerns in some groups regarding the interference with the semen or those that prevent the implantation of an embryo (such as the 'abortion pill'). But the birth control pill, morning after pill, and other forms of contraception that work by preventing ovulation are an entirely different matter.

Likewise, there are some who say, well, we shouldn't let gays marry because that is somehow (I've never understood how) a threat to the concept of marriage. They cite divorce statistics and the unravelling of the American family, as if there were not complex societal reasons for that completely unrelated to homosexuality. But, that said, they are also against the equity of rights that can be done without allowing marriage, but for the same reason--it threatens marriage because then anyone could choose not to get married. You know what? People are going to choose for and against marriage for all sorts of reasons. It's just a shame that there are people out there who would love to get married who cannot. They're not out for the benefits. They're out for the chance to solidify their bond in the same way any other two people in love might. It's also a shame, though, that unless they go through a lot of legal preparation, a same-sex couple can't automatically inherit, aren't necessarily allowed to adopt as a couple, can be prevented--in the extreme but real-life cases of someone in a coma or otherwise incapacitated--from ever seeing their loved one because the 'real family' doesn't agree. That's ludicrous, but even more so, it's wrong.

Okay, I promise, this will be my last political rant of the day.