Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Saturday, May 31, 2003


The Buffy Musical song I am is I've Got a Theory/Bunnies/If We're Together!
You are the Buffy the Musical song "I've Got a
Theory/Bunnies/If We're Together"!

Which Buffy the Musical Song Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Friday, May 30, 2003

Oh, how I wish I had a car...

...if only so I could put a Cthulhu antenna ball on it. You can buy them through Chaosium's catalogue too, including making PayPal payments. I had this idea myself some time ago; glad someone took the trouble to make one. Still, viewing the images...unsettles one. Perhaps they truly are channeling Cthulhu from the deep. Definitely time to get some sleep. 'Night.

Here goes. Happy Friday!

1. What do you most want to be remembered for? My ability to love and my loyalty to those I love.

2. What quotation best fits your outlook on life?
from A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson, published in 1992, as quoted by Nelson Mandela in his 1994 inaugural speech:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be – brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?"
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so small that others won't feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in us, it's in everyone.
As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

3. What single achievement are you most proud of in the past year? Getting my life back together after basically having a breakdown.

4. What about the past ten years? Learning to trust and love myself. It took most of that time to get it.

5. If you were asked to give a child a single piece of advice to guide them through life, what would you say? Live fully in the moment and love deeply.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Okay, I'm back

Sorry, I've crashed each of the last two days--yesterday I was asleep by 6pm and didn't wake up until 3am, then went back to sleep and still managed to sleep through my alarm until 9am. Fortunately I don't have to be to work until 9:30. :)

What I'm listening to tonight: Once More, with Feeling (Buffy: the Musical)
Here's an excerpt "Bunnies aren't just cute like everybody supposes - They got them hoppy legs and twitchy little noses - And what's with all the carrots - What do they need such good eyesight for anyway". Okay, maybe you have to be a Buffy fan. Obviously that's an Anya song. :)
What I'm reading: The June issue of Victoria magazine.

The CD is courtesy of a gift certificate to Joseph-Beth that I received for serving as president of our local library consortium last year. I got that, Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis, and Teach Yourself Hieroglyphs. (Can you tell I was afraid I'd lose the certificate?) Then I took the change and stopped by Cold Stone Creamery. Gee guys, that's waaaaaaaaayyy so much better than a plaque! :) Let's see, $50 at your favourite bookstore or something to gather dust on a wall. No contest. :) And it's helping with the Buffy withdrawl.

Before I crashed yesterday things had gone well. We'd had our library meeting, with an excellent catered lunch (fettucine alfredo with broccoli, salad, yummy rolls that tasted like my grandma's, and carrot cake). Come to think of it, maybe that's why I crashed later. Our continuing education topic was electronic journals, and much of the afternoon involved negotiating software licences. For the record, I now more than anyone without a Juris Doctor has a right to on this subject. Fortunately the speakers were both animated and enjoyable. The truly frightening thing is that occasionally I feel like going to law school (after all, I have a history degree--that's one of the best preparations, right?) I wouldn't be a criminal lawyer--no Perry Mason drama for me. I'd be one of those people who help the disabled get their social security or do civil rights challenges, etc. Meaning I'd have yet another job that wouldn't pay well. Sometimes it's kind of bad to be an idealist. I mean, I'm right in that bracket that's making such headlines for not getting any tax relief (over minimum wage but less than $25,000 a year) already. All I need is more student loans and less ability to make a living. :)

Today's my grandmother's 79th birthday. I still haven't found anything suitable for her (but then I haven't found anything for
Zabet yet, and hers was a month ago! I did call Ma, though, to wish her a happy birthday. I'm going home to Danville on Saturday, too. Next weekend I'm attending our company picnic/minor league baseball game, which, while fun, sort of sucks because my aunt and uncle are apparently stopping by on their way back to San Antonio from an Ohio visit that weekend. :( Maybe they could stop by when they drive through Lexington. :)

One profound thing today: I was reading the latest National Geographic's article on the status of the Dalit (aka Untouchables) of India. It was very moving. You can check out some of the information on the online article, but the most disturbing and sobering image is in the print version--a photo of two young men who were attacked by higher caste villagers for fishing in a pond. These so-called "superior people" threw acid on the men. One in particular looks like he would be quite handsome, except that three-quarters of his face and a good portion of his neck and chest have literally melted into a twisted form he'll carry for the rest of his life. I'd say he's blind in one eye, as well. If the theory is that a person is only born into the lowest caste due to some horrendous thing in the past, then anyone who would do such a thing to another human (or any living thing, for that matter) surely should fall to the bottom next go around. But it'd be better if they were prosecuted in this lifetime, don't you think? If you want to learn more about the Dalit and their cause, you may want to check out Ambedkar.org, which is named for the Dalit's greatest champion and includes up-to-date news.

Seeing this reminds me how, as an American with not merely basic freedoms but a pretty decent scope of rights, where money and fame may make a difference but the inherent dignity of all people is guaranteed by our constitution, I just can't understand the cultural reasons behind something like the caste system. And for once, I'm glad that I will never understand. I just wish they could all come here and make new lives.

Well, that's enough ranting for tonight. If you have a chance, check out the magazine. Well, I'll probably post the F5 in a few minutes and then bid a good night. :)

Monday, May 26, 2003

Day #4 of Holiday--tired, but it's a good sort of tired...

Had trouble going to sleep last night and wound up getting to bed around 4:30 am only to woken up an hour later by the phone. Then got up this morning at 10am and made final plans to see the movie. Enjoyed The Matrix: Reloaded immensely, then went to the game and used the adrenaline rush to finish up an adventure. Now I'm home, and I'm pooped, but it's more like when you play a really good game of ball, or put in a garden, etc.--it's the good kind of tired, with a sense of accomplishment. I'm definitely looking forward to the last installment of the Matrix trilogy; the second ends very suddenly, and I'm glad I was forewarned. And I still like Agent Smith better as an elf. :)

So this is the end of my holiday. Patrick said the Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, French, etc. he met in New Zealand were shocked by how little vacation time Americans have. I feel that way too, sometimes. But I'm ready to go back. When you're the only librarian in the workplace it's a little harder to take off much time. I'm am fighting off what I hope are allergies rather than the aha!-you-stood-still cold you sometimes get when you finally have time off. But generally I got some rest, spent time with assorted friends, and had a much needed break--at least enough to get me to the Fourth of July. :)

Parting Shots

Came across this commentary on why Charmed is better than Buffy.

Although I'm a fan of both, I have to agree with Robert Black. Charmed is more consistent; even with the major hurdle of having to replace a main character (Shannen Doherty's Prue) mid-show they did an excellent job. Charmed is a little more like the game I was talking about before--except the game is even more complex. But still, hmm....

Speaking of things that make you go hmmm, I watched The Matrix tonight while I was over at Zabet's in preparation for seeing The Matrix: Reloaded, tomorrow. I don't think I've seen it since it was originally in the theatres, and I needed a refresher. I forgot how much the movie dealt with the philosophy of reality. I'm looking forward to seeing the sequel and hope they've continued to question what is possible.

Talk to you tomorrow (hopefully). 'Night.

Sunday, May 25, 2003


Just so you don't think that I'm totally unaware of the reason for the holiday, I just don't care for this, 'let's move Memorial Day' and every other holiday to Monday and we'll have more time off. Memorial Day (or Decoration Day as it's still often called here) is the 30th. That's Friday. That's like saying, 'gee, we'll celebrate September 11th (celebrate?) on the nearest Monday, and oh, by the way, how about a cookout?' See what I mean? Okay, that may be harsh, but a lot of folks out there agree with me. And it's not like all the 'national' holidays are like that. Look at Christmas and Thanksgiving. Actually, I've never understood why Christmas is a national holiday, given the whole separation of church and state thing, but that's a tangent for another time. I once came across a website (but can't seem to find it now) where they were calling for a return of Memorial Day observance to the traditional date, precisely because putting it into a long weekend encourages us to goof off and kick off the summer with barbeques rather than to remember the lives lost in war.

I'm going home to Danville next weekend, and we'll probably decorate and visit the graves then. If I can, I plan to take a recording of "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes with me. It was the only thing my grandfather requested for his funeral, and my mom and grandmother told the funeral parlour that, but they played it on some sort of bell chime thing. Not bagpipes. You can't fool Scots. :) I wish I knew where to track a girl I used to know named Cammie down. She's the only person I know who plays the pipes, and I don't even know her last name. Bill, if you read this, do you have any ideas? Or if any of you see a girl playing the bagpipes with a black Labrador companion animal in tow, send me an e-mail. :)

I wish I could get up to Owenton and take care of the graves there. Another good reason to get a reliable car. My cousins are the only other ones in the area, and I don't know if they're keeping the gravesite up. It was always my grandmother's job until she died--she passed it on to me. It's a tradition here for a daughter, usually the oldest of the survivors, to keep the graves up. I promised Nana I would, but with my transportation woes, I haven't been able to do it. My great-grandparents, Joe and Carmen Duncan, and two of their children are buried there--my great-uncle Joedy and my grandmother, Frances. If anyone in Owenton reads this, would you mind stopping by a checking on them for me. I'll light a candle for them instead.

We've always celebrated the holiday by tending all graves, not just the war dead or veterans. But everyone of my grandparents who are entombed now were veterans; even Nana was an army nurse. But tending all the graves means I've been to some of the smaller cemeterys like the Reardon plot outside Mitchellsburg, etc. It's on a hill way up at a steep angle. I'm not sure my grandmother can get up that one, but my mom and I might stop by.

In the meantime, we get off Monday from work automatically, and there's no sense in me being there with no one else there. So I'll be gaming, etc. tomorrow and visiting the graves at the end of the week.

Day#3 of Holiday...Change in Plan

With about a half-hour until I expected to go to the game, we totally re-worked our plans. Turns out one person has a cookout tonight, so we're all going to get together tomorrow for The Matrix: Reloaded, followed by the game. It works out better for all of us. One person I called (the one who was supposed to be picking me up in a half an hour :) was asleep, but her husband thought that would work for her. Another was halfway asleep as it was. And it's begun to rain, after having two wonderful days to dry out. Not that the rain matters in terms of the game, I think it makes us all sleepier.

I blog about this a lot, I know, and you're probably wondering what the hell I'm talking about. Our game started, pretty much on a weekly basis, in July of 1991. Yup. Nearly twelve years ago. I'd just gotten married, which was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. The gamemaster and I are the only ones of the original crew left, but the storyline and characters have been developing ever since that time. A total of thirteen people have played at some point, although never more than about five or six at a time. Oddly enough, we've generally found women do better at the game. I don't know if it's because it takes a certain amount of altruism (it's deeper than just blowing things up, you're trying to save humanity). Male gamers have a tendency to play out like it's some video or war game. Women gamers tend to emote a lot and focus on their appearance. I don't know if we're just a more balanced bunch or what, but we can easily go from a stunning dinner party to kicking monster butt.

For those of you not familiar with role-playing games, you create a character using guidelines from a book and rolling various-sided dice to randomly determine certain physical and mental traits, depending on the system used. Our basic system is that of Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu, which is based on the fiction of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. Over time, though, several other systems have been incorporated. Our gamemaster is very creative and manages to streamline all sorts of things. The ones incorporated that I know of are Ars Magica, G.U.R.P.s, RIFTS, Harn, all the various White Wolf World of Darkness titles, In Nomine, Ninjas and Superspies, Trinity, Conspiracy, and Witchcraft--and those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head! In addition, we have a couple of "alternative" games, one drawing heavily on Aeon Trinity, and another from Brave New World. In the latter, all the characters from the orginal game were assigned superpowers randomly according to when they entered original play and matching that with the power packages from BNW. In the former, there are eight characters representing the eight classes on psions; we each have a gift needed to help save the world. :)

Game mechanics aside, the idea of the game is that we are specially trained in the martial arts, weaponry, and mystical arts to fight against transdimensional, extraterrestrial incursions as envisioned by Lovecraft. We basically belong to a secret order and have take oaths to protect humanity. We are not allowed to kill humans (except in self-defence), and never with our blessed swords. (The results are hazardous to the character's health). We live in modern society, based in Arkham, Massachusetts (the creation of Lovecraft, near real-life Salem). Our "cover" so to speak is an investigating agency, Arkham Paranormal Investigations, Inc. Think a mixture of detectives, ghostbusters, etc. Our jobs are to track down cultists, try to save the world from yet another apocalypse (which, I think, is one reason we can all relate to Buffy). Usually there's a lot of investigation, but when the action starts, its usually spectacular. It's much more riveting than a book or movie--for one thing, it's interactive--your actions and decisions, along with those of your fellow gamers, make the story happen. There's nothing quite like it--and I've never found a game that was as satisfying as this one. Most don't last for so long, for one. People lose interest or move away. People get tired of playing. That really hasn't happened with this. There have been times when we felt like we'd never finish a campaign, but we keep coming back for more. I guess we're just gluttons for punishment. But it's a nice, healthy way to let off steam while still interacting with others (how many wives do you know who curse the Playstation?), and it's been very good for me in terms of learning how to deal with people and situations. This game has been better therapy for me than any other, and whenever I go to a seminar and have to role-play, they always go--"you're a natural at this". Not really. It's just that I've been playing several parts for several years in an impromtu play, if you like. Pretty decent for someone who used to be so shy she wouldn't even take her nose out of a book. And it's been one of the biggest creative outlets of my life; I have nearly a dozen of my own characters that I've developed over time; many of the other players' are as near and dear to me as my own. It's been great to see them take a life of their own--and each one tells something about the person playing it. They're not alter egos; they're not real in the material sense, but they are both masques and aspects of ourselves we usually don't let people see. One of these days I'd like to get together with some of the others and write up some of this; part of the problem is the scenarios are often copyrighted, of course. It's always been agreed that characters stay in the game mythos, so to speak, regardless of whether the player continues, so that's not so much a problem--the past player characters become non-player characters and are run by the gamemaster, etc. But I'm not sure if we could ever do a website for Arkham Paranormal, even so, although I'd love to.

So, the next time you hear someone saying that roleplaying is dead in this computer age, or someone talking about the evils of roleplaying games, think of this. Sure, there are some people who probably are too obsessive or never quite get the balance between reality and fantasy. They're usually mentally ill to begin with, and usually no one wants to game with them because they can't follow simple rules. They're the minority. Gee, I think I've ranted enough--you might think I was a gaming geek, hmmm? Sorry, I guess I was geared up for the game and now I'll have to channel all that enthusiasm into housework. :) Or maybe take a nap.

Day #2 of Holiday

Just got in (it's nearly midnight, and I've been running around since about 10:45 this morning!)

  • Installed Seti@Home. It never worked right when I tried before; I don't know if they've updated or if Windows XP likes it better, but it's doing fine, now. Yipee! It's busily analysing as we speak. (Yes I know I'm such a geek, but really, my stepdad built a wonderful computer that's overclocked at a gigahertz. Shouldn't I put that to a good use, like, for all humanity?)
  • Went to the Rusty Scabbard, a gaming store. Met up with my friend Dee and we made plans for the game tomorrow. She's coming back after being off during the semester for school (which worked out well--she got a 3.5 GPA) and a trip to Vermont (to see an old friend get hitched--okay, maybe not married, but I think hitched works--in the only state that recognises gay unions). She's going to give me a ride, which means I can take Cerys with me. Everyone misses seeing her (I have never found a way to smuggle a 45 lb. dog on the bus. She's too small to say she's a companion animal and too big to fit in a bag). So I'm looking forward to that and hoping all the animals get along.
  • Stopped by Turfland Mall and ate at Subway. I tried their Southwester Chipotle sauce with a Veggie Delight and it was very nummy.
  • Did much transcription of some rules for the game in easily indexed bits. Let me just say for the record that White Wolf's Werewolf tribe Black Spiral Dancers is just sick, sick and wrong. Don't these people ever do happy stuff? Oh, that's right, happy isn't tragick enough. :)
  • Home at last..to find that Zabet and I continue to play phone tag. She must have called about 15 minutes after I left. I never heard from her yesterday (our usual day to get together). Don't know what happened, but at least I know she didn't fall off the face of the planet. :) I was beginning to worry. So, I'll call tomorrow and see if we can finally connect.
  • Heard from Dwana, who was on her way to her in-laws for the day. She's feeling better, which is good. When I talked to her yesterday she was dealing with some pain and generally not feeling too well.

On another note, I've jumped on and off a lot of buses over the last 24 hours, and it's definitely interesting to watch people and listen to some of the oddest things. I am, however, seeing the wisdom of keeping my own mouth shut and looking for terribly interesting things out the windows. One lady totally went off with a lot of profanity the other day at the transit centre. The only thing I could figure is that someone got too close to her space. You see such a variety of people on the bus. Some are mentally ill, physically disabled, or elderly. Some are students, or just the working poor like me. There are some real characters, both in terms of passengers and bus drivers. It's always an adventure, but since I have a degree in sociology, sometimes it just seems like some sort of crazy experiment that I've been sucked into. :) Well, that's it. I think I'll play Word Mojo for awhile and then totter off to bed. 'Night.

PS How can a seven-pound cat chew his food so loudly he sounds like a 100-ft crunch monster? I don't know how Buns does it, but damn, it's unnerving. It sounds like if you took a 50-ft woman and stuck her in corduroys, making sure her thighs rubbed together!

Saturday, May 24, 2003


I was listening to a new age music show, and suddenly recognised Margie Adam's 'Something About Us'. Somehow it's a little different listening to music when you've been onstage with the artist. A few years ago I sang with a women's chorus and Margie was our guest artist. It was a wonderful experience. Listening took me right back to that moment.

I miss chorus. It's on Sunday evenings and in a part of town that it's difficult for me to get to, given my reliance on public transport. I needed a break while I got my life together and I was w-a-y too overstretched for awhile. But it was a place I was accepted for who I am--and they're always appreciative of first sopranos, which are somewhat uncommon, especially since most of the women in the chorus were in their 40s or above. If I get another car (that's actually reliable), I'd like to go back and sing.

When I was a kid, I could sing with my mom to the car radio, but singing in front of others terrified me. I have some mixed up memories of being 8 and singing in a talent show and feeling like they were all laughing at me, but I don't really think they did. Of course it didn't help that I chose a sappy 70s song outside my range. My mom always thought I was a contralto. It wasn't till I took a voice for non-music majors class that I found out I was soprano. The first time I sang for the class I clenched my fists, turned red, and nearly passed out. :) The students were very encouraging at least, and there were a couple of others who had problems with staying on pitch, etc., so I wasn't the problem child. In their defence, one was a girl from Bangladesh who had not spent much time listening to western music, and one was a guy from eastern Kentucky who had the typical never-open-your-mouth problem (think the one guy on "King of the Hill" who you can barely understand). They both got it by the end of the class, and I got to where I was starting to relax. I didn't sing in the chorus until someone dragged me to a concert, then plopped me in front of a couple of the women and said, 'she's a soprano and likes to sing--think you could take her under your wing?!'

I tend to sing on the bus, walking, in the halls, just about anywhere _so long as I think no one's listening_.The thing is, I know I have a nice voice and if I could just get over the stage fright I'd be okay. I've had people come up to me and tell me I had a beautiful voice. It only makes me embarrassed. There was one concert with the chorus that I really, really wanted the solo to 'You Can't Hurry Love'--I knew the words by heart; it's one of my favourites. So I tried out. They were great--said I'd do well if I had enough time to work on my volume but there was only a short time before the conference. I couldn't get my volume out because I couldn't relax enough to really sing. Well, and because I had asthma but didn't know it. I've got the latter under control, and I'm hoping that my shyness/stage fright issues are being helped by my anti-anxiety medicine. I wonder if I went back if I could sing by myself without fainting? :)

Friday, May 23, 2003

Day #1 of Holiday (in a sort of stream of consciousness, with a vague attempt at chronology)

  • Slept until 10:30 am. Heaven!
  • Watched a movie, Final Descent, one of those aircraft disaster flicks. Interesting (although improbable) solution to having the plane stuck in an upward climb 1) Send all the weight you can forward, 2) Have a military chopper fire holes through the elevators--causing a fire in the galley which thank goodness an oil rigger is nearby to use a fire extinguisher because the flight attendant can't remember to pull and sweep due to her panic, 3) Have a military tanker full of water pull alongside, blow your escape hatch in the cockpit, run arctic suits and a hose through, then fill the oxygen bay with water, nearly drowning your engineer, nearly freezing your co-pilot (and love of your life) and somehow managing to get the nose down and land without a computer. Thank the Gods for creative writers. After awhile it became the 'what will they think of next?' movie.
  • Took a deliciously wonderful bath. I used a new product called Totally Juicy Apple Hot Sugar Scrub that leaves my skin very soft. I have this thing that's always been a little annoying called keratosis pilaris. Depending on the area of the world, up to 50% of the people have it. You see it a lot in Celts, for example, although it shows up worse in darker-complected people. It's hereditary, and if you have it, you have at least a 50-50 chance of passing it on. When the skin renews little plugs of keratin (which is in the top layer of skin, hair, and nails) get stuck in the hair follicules. This usually happens on the arms, thighs, and buttocks, sometimes on the face. This can make pores reddish or dark, or give you little bumps all over. In my family we just saw it as a sort of childhood acne, but it isn't. (Do a search on childhood acne and you won't get KP. I didn't have luck until a paediatrician I work with mentioned something that's characterised as 'goosebumps' in childhood.) But the bumps have little bits of dead skin, and it makes it more likely for the hair to get ingrown, even though it's usually not infected like acne. I can remember my mom picking my bumps when I was 5 or 6. It has been a compulsive thing with me, too, and so that's led to some scarring. Think of how annoying acne was when you were a teen and imagine having it all your life. Of course, it does get a little better as you age. And it's one of the most benign inherited problems you can have. But I'm a little self-conscious of it, even though most people probably wouldn't even notice it. (Someone I had known for fifteen years touched my arm once and say 'your arm is bumpy' in surprise.) This sugar scrub gently exfoliates without causing problems with the sensitive skin. It has sugar, apple, vitamin A, vitamin C, grape seed oil, bergamot oil, orange oil, sweet almond oil, kelp exctract, algae, safflower oil, grapefruit, apricot kernel oil, evening primrose oil, macademia seed oil, sesame seed oil, and jojoba. Very nice. And it's 'tested on friends and family, not animals' and contains no animal ingredients. :) I guess it's not great for someone with a nut allergy, though.
  • Went to the co-op. That took awhile--four hours; it's always an adventure on the bus. Also, I grabbed a sandwich at their little coffee shop But with the exception of a tragick Cheetos Naturals accident, we all returned intact.

So now I'm sitting at the computer, catching up on my e-mail, etc., enjoying a soda. One of my co-workers lent me the video Office Space and I'm contemplating watching it. But I'm almost too pooped. Maybe I'll just rest. :)

I'm going to see The Matrix: Reloaded on Monday, I think. I still have one free pass left, and I have it on good authority that it's a "killer movie". So it looks like it's a weekend for movies. Which is great compared to last year, where some medicine made me sleep all but four hours of the entire holiday. :) And of course, barring cancellations, Sunday is the Cthulhu game, which is sort of movie-like in its own way.

I just remembered the weird dream I had last night. It started out with hobbits, who were basically running about an arena that was sort of a 3D version of the old video game 'Gauntlet'--lots of holes down to the next level, various booty, thing chasing you, etc. Then at some point they crashed into a munchkin review onstage. It was a little odder than my normal dreams, which are strange in their own right. I dream cinematically--it usually has a contained story, sometimes several with not much to do with one another, but almost always vivid, in narrative--not those fleeting things you usually think of. I don't know if that's normal or not, but it is for me.

Well, that's a lot of typing. I figured I hadn't written since Tuesday. Oh, and of course, I'll have to include a Friday Five! Here goes:

1. What brand of toothpaste do you use?
I don't have a 'set' brand. I usually use Tom's Natural anise toothpaste, although I just bought Doctor Burt's Lavender Mint toothpaste. Sometimes it's nice to get something that doesn't just taste like gum. The oddest I've tried is Colgate's Herbal Toothpaste from our local Indian grocery--it's sold there but usually not here. It's good but it's an acquired taste. It has tulsi (cloves) and also pudina, laung, and neem. I'm not sure what those are.

2. What brand of toilet paper do you prefer?
Seventh Generation when I can afford it, Cottonelle when I can't.

3. What brand(s) of shoes do you wear?
Whatever fits.

4. What brand of soda do you drink?
Diet Pepsi.

5. What brand of gum do you chew?
None. I swallow anyway, so what's the point?

I'm not really a brand afficianado. I prefer Pepsi products for colas, Heinz for catsup, etc., but other than that, I open to trying most alternatives. I have to admit, I prefer what I think of as regular peanut butter, although I'll eat the 'natural' type--but then I have to add honey or something like that to make it sweeter.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Oh, Buffy-qua!

And so a legend ends. At least for now. I won't write about who lived and who died, because at last word Zabet, who reads this, was going to probably wait the indeterminable time it takes to put Buffy episodes onto DVD since she and Hubby are still behind on their viewing. But a few comments:

  • Thank you, guys, for letting the show go out with a bang, in all the Buffy-licious glory we've come to expect. You kept us guessing who was going to die, who would survive, how things would happen with the First--everything up to the last minute.
  • Thank you for that that last "Grrr...Arrgh" with the little monster turning its head towards the audience.
  • Thank you for coming up with a story (and I think Joss Whedon did this one) that not only was satisfying, but literally gave us unlimited possibilities for new series, movies, and it will even make the Buffy: The Role-playing Game imminently more fun to play.
  • Thank you for making me cry, blubber, and laugh all within the last ten minutes of the show.
  • Thank you for seven years of fun that kept us on our toes and made us want to be scoobies.
  • Thank you for showing us happy snuggling relationships between lesbians, and the pain of losing someone you love regardless of their gender and how the relationship can be just as "valid", especially when accepted by your friends.
  • Thank you for understanding just what sort of hell high school is.
  • Thank you for showing us strong females who can kick butt and sensitive guys who can save the world with a hug.
  • Thank you for the line: "I used to be a highly respected Watcher. Now I'm a wounded dwarf with the mystical power of a doily".
  • Thank you to all who helped create the Buffyverse.

Lastly, if you can't stand the fact that the show is ending, check out their auction. My favourite (which is still available) is the remote-controlled Buffybot, which last I checked was at a bargain $600 and change. But I figure they've got something planned, because the best stuff (i.e., the mummy hand) wasn't on the auction block just yet. There have been rumours of a new series. :) Here's to future slayage! And if none of this makes sense, check out reruns of the show--it really is worth the effort. :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Got this in e-mail and loved it--and for you guys out there, some of us females are okay with these rules...or at least I am--although if we get lost, I'll get out and ask directions, okay?

> The Rules....this time by Men.
> We always hear "the rules" from the female side. Now here are the
> rules from the male side. These are our rules! Please note ... these
> are all numbered "1" ON PURPOSE!
> 1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it
> down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us
> bitching about you leaving it down.
> 1. Birthdays, Valentines, and Anniversaries are not quests to see if we can
> find the perfect present yet again!
> 1. Sometimes we are not thinking about you. Live with it.
> 1. Sunday = sports. It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides.
> Let it be.
> 1. Don't cut your hair. Ever. Long hair is always more attractive than short
> hair. One of the big reasons guys fear getting married is that married women
> always cut their hair, and by then you're stuck with her.
> 1. Shopping is NOT a sport. And no, we are never going to think of it that
> way.
> 1. Crying is blackmail.
> 1. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtle hints do not
> work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!
> 1. We don't remember dates. Mark birthdays and anniversaries on a calendar.
> Remind us frequently beforehand.
> 1. Most guys own three pairs of shoes -- tops. What makes you think we'd be
> any good at choosing which pair, out of thirty, would look good
> with your dress?
> 1. Yes, and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.
> 1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what
> we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.
> 1. A headache that lasts for 17 months is a problem. See a doctor.
> 1. Check your oil! Please.
> 1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact,
> all comments become null and void after 7 days.
> 1. If you won't dress like the Victoria's Secret girls, don't expect us to
> act like soap opera guys.
> 1. If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us. We refuse to
> answer.
> 1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways, and one of the
> ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.
> 1. Let us ogle. We are going to look anyway; it's genetic.
> 1. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done.
> Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.
> 1. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during
> commercials.
> 1. Christopher Columbus did not need directions, and neither do we.
> 1. The relationship is never going to be like it was the first two months we
> were going out. Get over it. And quit whining to your girlfriends.
> 1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for
> example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea
> what mauve is.
> 1. If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.
> 1. We are not mind readers and we never will be. Our lack of mind-reading
> ability is not proof of how little we care about you.
> 1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," we will act like nothing's
> wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.
> 1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect an answer you
> don't want to hear.
> 1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine.
> Really.
> 1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss
> cars, sports, or music .
> 1. You have enough clothes.
> 1. You have too many shoes.
> 1. Foreign films are best left to foreigners. (Unless it's Bruce Lee or some
> war flick where it doesn't really matter what the hell they're saying
> anyway.)
> 1. It is neither in your best interest or ours to take the quiz together.
> No, it doesn't matter which quiz.
> 1. BEER is as exciting for us as handbags are for you.
> 1. I'm in shape. ROUND is a shape.
> Thank you for reading this; Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch
> tonight, but did you know we really don't mind that, it's like camping.

Had to do this quiz, being a long-time semi-gaming geek

Which RPG system are you?

by Mr. Vimes

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Brain. Hurt.

Today I have:

  • Analysed the linguistic differences between sheep and goats--'baa vs. maa' (both sounds being made with the lips, both voiced, with the goats nasalising their sounds). Gee, is it any wonder people think I'm weird?
  • Typed dictation for three hours and at one point demonstrated that I can read, speak, and type at the same time, although a bit slower than doing just two at the same time.
  • Listened to a Spanish conversation on the bus that, barring a few words that I couldn't quite make out, I generally understood.

The language parts of my brain have just worked too much today. Dare I play Literati?

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Listening to Saturday Night Live

A couple of quotes from the opening sketch (a Chris Matthews take-off interviewing various politicians):

"Is it just me, or is the Bush administration starting to seem like an episode of 'Walker, Texas Ranger'?"
"Not even Jesus Christ would run against George Bush. The Bible clearly states that Jesus was a Republican."

Yeah. I'm glad that SNL and I have the same views of the political mess in America today. :)

Well, I'm going to go watch it. Dan Ackroyd and Jim Belushi are singing "Time Won't Let Me". :)

Ooh, this horsey-girly girl is hoping for a Triple Crown...

Funny Cide, the gelding who won the Kentucky Derby, won the Preakness today. Whenever this happens, you've pretty much got to be rooting for a Triple Crown winner, and of course, that would be history in the making, since a gelding has never won all three. People in our area are hoping that a Triple Crown win, along with the upcoming movie Seabiscuit, starring Tobey Maguire, will help renew interest in the horse industry. When the movie comes out, one of the early screenings will be here in Lexington, because part of the film was made here at Keeneland with lots of extras who showed up in the rain. Personally I have a lot of mixed feelings about any kind of animal racing, but it's such an important part of our history here in the Bluegrass. A lot of people in our area depend on thoroughbred industry. Only a couple of years after the disaster of Mare Reproductive Loss hitting the Bluegrass, anything that could give it a boost would probably help our oeconomy. The fact that Funny Cide is New York bred, notwithstanding, it could really help.

Central Kentucky is a little odd in that our biggest employers are Toyota, Lexmark, and the University of Kentucky. There aren't a lot of traditional factories belching out smoke, etc. Many smaller communities have small factories where people sew clothing, etc. We're still largely agricultural. The common joke, of course, is that Kentucky gets it's money from vices--horse racing, bourbon and other distilling, tobacco, and our largest cash crop, marijuana. :) Then there's coal and timber, which are both environmental hot potatoes. This in an area that is firmly Bible belt in nature. We also have a lot of horse farms, Angus (beef), and people are exploring alternatives to tobacco like soy and organic vegetables. Most people have gotten out of dairy, but there are some. It's also perfect sheep country, especially once you get to the hills, although I don't know how many people actually raise it. Our family did in Owen county, I know. When you have lots of mineral-rich grass, grazing is a big commodity. Years ago, this area was a favourite of buffalo. I have to admit, I can understand why my ancestors came here. It's very much like Britain and Ireland. We even have karst topography (lots of limestone caves, sinkholes, etc.). My geology professor at UK was Irish, because that was his specialty. (I spent a lot of time in class just listening to his lilt). One of Central Kentucky's most charming features are the limestone fences reminiscent of Ireland. This time of year it's especially lush and beautiful (although full of allergens!) If you've never been, you might want to visit. There's a lot of history. Practically anyone who went west went through Kentucky--it's important in genealogy searches. We have Mammoth Cave, Natural Bridge (a stone arch), the Red River Gorge, etc., etc.

Gosh, I'm sounding like an ad. Let's just say I think of Kentucky as home, and I love it. It gets a lot of ribbing for being backwards (some of it undeserved, some of it deserved). But I like it with all its good and bad points.

Oh, gee, it's amazing the permutations of SARS...

SARS is causing foreign adoptions of Chinese children to be suspended indefinitely. That's got to be heartbreaking. I watched someone go through the trials and pain of adoption from within this country. I can't imagine the problems involved with international adoptions, and this is one more wrench in the process.

There was a time when our society believed technology would solve all our woes. I never believed that; I can remember my father explaining to me when I was pretty young that the purpose of war and disease was to check human population. At the time I thought he was pretty callous, but really, he was right. But it still sucks, doesn't it?

I'm back

And absolutely drenched. Not in rain--it hasn't done that yet. No, the humidity is such that just the little bit of walking I did and then a bit of gardening has left me feeling very wilted. I'm very tempted to put the air conditioning on, but I know as soon as it rains (and we're under a tornado watch, so I expect it soon), it'll cool down. I may just curl up with the animals and a fan.

Things I've learnt over the past day or so:

  • When building a Sims sacred grove, do not locate your bonfires too close to the sacred birches. A conflagaration may ensue, engulfing all your nice, expensive trees as well as your worshippers. (And no, I didn't do that one, but I'm not going to tell you who did or she might kill me. I'm really more the destroy your Sims through toaster oven type.)
  • Rottweilers are probably the best dogs to cuddle with. They are big babies who just want to be touched, preferably full body, on top of you, and give big, soft doggie kisses.
  • One of the biggest detractions of the Rottweiler, besides the drool, is the way they go bongy, bongy on your breast (or face) when leaping to see who is at the door.
  • Never let stability lure you to complacency. Nothing is ever 100% stable. Certainly never accept less than you're worth in exchange for not taking risks.
  • Gothic is an extremely weird and unsettling movie that makes one question if you really got a bargain DVD for a buck fifty. Actually, it wasn't that bad, just...well...let's just say it could be shown to teenagers to illustrate the danger of drugs. It's a shame Julian Sands couldn't have inched up just a little in the bath. I've always loved the Romantic era (except the women's dresses, which frankly few women can wear well), and while certainly the poets Byron and Shelley were often seen as depraved--well, I think I'm going to go back and do some research and see if Mary Shelley's sister was really stark raving, etc. It may very well be an accurate depiction, but I still wouldn't invite any of them over for tea. I've always had a thing for Byron, even though I do realise Shelley was probably the better poet. (Shelley's funeral, I think, always grabbed me more than the man. I mean death at sea, a beach cremation, then Byron fishing out the heart that refused to burn to take it back to Mother England to bury under Westminster--how could you resist the romance in that? I think it was about the time I studied that in school that I decided I wanted to be cremated.) There was a time when I thought if I had ever been anyone of note in a past life, it would have been his half-sister Augusta (yeah, I know, sick...) but if I were alive then I was probably one of the infatuated cast-offs. :) At least it left me in good stead--I never cared much for poetry when I was younger except for the Romantics and Dylan Thomas. I love poetry now, of course, but then I was more into Arthurian legend, Shakespeare--plays, not sonnets, Dickens, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Funny how I've learnt to love Homer, Plato, and all sorts of things I didn't care much for at 17, but I'm still no fan of Hemingway. I guess some things don't change. "He looked at the fish. He looked at his hand." Grrr. Of course, to be fair, I've never read anything except the Old Man and the Sea.
  • One of the great things about Dwana's husband (although it probably causes a bit of confusion now and again) is that no matter how you play down a call he will almost always call her with your message immediately--no "just tell her I called" for him--he takes his message stewardship seriously, although sometimes it's like playing the game "operator" as a kid--you once it's filtered through two or three poeple it takes on a life of its own. This, however, seems infinitely better than someone never getting your message. :)
  • There is usually more effort expended in worrying about something than doing something about it. (Actually, I already knew that one, but it bears repeating.)

Not bad for 24 hours, hmmm?

Today's kind of odd...

Most people I know are out of town or doing stuff with their families, or both. With the exception of one bill I had to pay (which I've already done) and one other errand (which I'm getting ready to do), I pretty much have the day to myself. :)

Last night I went over to Zabet's, who is, quite frankly, pining for her Hubby, who will be back from New Zealand Monday. It's cute, although she'd probably growl at me for saying so. I think this is the longest they've been apart since they got married. Oh, and he's actually "bored" enough to be playing Jenga and Scrabble with his roomates. Patrick has to be pretty darned bored to play Scrabble. Zabet and I are constantly dragging him to games.

I'm getting my Scrabble fix by playing Literati on Yahoo!Games. It's interesting to play with different people you don't know. I'm apparently a very fast player (I'm usually plotting my moves while they're having their turns). I also downloaded a version of Senat (the Aegyptian board game) for the PDA and beamed it to Zabet last night, so I think she'll have something to occupy her until Patrick gets back. :) She was playing furiously in the car after she dropped me off. ("I'll just finish this game before I drive back".)

Oops. Must go catch a bus. I'm sure I'll blog later. :)


Three days before our primary, one of the Democratic candidates for governor, Bruce Lunsford, dropped out of the race, citing negative campaigning on the part of his main rival, Ben Chandler. Here's the thing: Lunsford is a businessman whose put $6 million of his own money in the campaign, tried to characterise himself as an outsider who'll change the way the state is run, etc., etc. But he's one more big business guy who just foundered in the political arena.

I wasn't planning on voting for Lunsford because two of my friends were employees of his, and so a family member. I've seen how upside-down their lives became with state investigations, media fallout, shut-downs, etc. It isn't a matter of minor problems in the system. There were deep problems that led to shuffling residents to other nursing homes, financial loss to investors and employees, harrassing tactics, fines, and yes, charges of abuse. Given that Lunsford started the negative campaigning and nothing the Chandler-Owen campaign ran was counter to the experiences of people I've talked to, my opinion is that if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. And that's what he did. I'm also not a fan of his plan to bring in casinos and use that to fund local and state programmes. The last governor to bring in gambling (the lottery) ostensibly for education, was Wallace Wilkinson, who was terribly unpopular and whose last years of life were dominated by bankruptcy and questionable business practices. I'm not saying Lunsford is another Wilkinson, but that's one thing that bothered me. I also disliked one of the first campaign ads he ran to the tune of the "Beverly Hillbillies", which seemed stupid at a time when Appalachian groups are up in arms over a proposed Beverly Hillbillies-style reality show. A millionaire saying he's just a "regular guy" setting out for the big city of Frankfort just doesn't wash, especially since he's not from the East and it just seems condescending. Personally I'd fire the guy who came up with that one.

I am kind of annoyed with this seeming trend of wealthy businessmen who seem to want to buy their way into government. Our last mayoral election had a similar case of a popular businessmen who ran up to a point, then dropped out before the election, much to the disappointment of those who backed him. Generally, I think if you're not going to see the race out, you shouldn't run. Granted, I'm glad he did drop out, because there was a very conservative candidate I really didn't want to win, and the three-way split might have made that happen; the one I supported eventually did--although I'm a little disappointed in her service so far [she inherited a budget shortage and I don't think she's interacting well with the council or urban county employees]. I have to admit, I also kind of wish Nader had dropped out of the 2000 election, since I really rather blame the present Republican control of the presidency on him and those who voted for him. Well, and the electoral college. Some day I envision a world where technology is omnipresent, freely accessible, and capable of eliminating the electoral college in favour of a pure democracy. I know it's a pipe dream, but still.

Speaking of the Greens, I was checking out as much as I could gather online about the election candidates, and I found one site listing Wendell Berry (poet, conservationist, champion of farmers) as a candidate for the Green party here in Kentucky. I couldn't find any official listing, on any state or Green party site, but I did find one person discussing that the Green party had been using Berry's name to raise campaign funds and a Berry family member had expressed both denial that he was running and annoyance at those techniques. I'm not sure what the truth is, yet. The Greens don't have a primary, for one thing, so I'm sure all will become more clear in November. But if that is true, I'm awfully disappointed, especially as it's the party that matches my beliefs most. I'll have to find that one website that had the denial on it, so I can post a link here.

Well, that's a lot of politics in one shot. It should be interesting to see how things turn out on Tuesday. I just hope people get out and vote.

Friday, May 16, 2003

Oops, I did it again...

Last night I laid down around 7:30, ostensibly for an hour (I wanted to see the CSI season finale), and went into hibernation mode again. Which is okay, I guess. I've spent a lot of time away from home lately, and I usually try to alternate a day out, a day in. So, I really think I needed it. I woke up briefly during the eclipse but didn't have the sense to go outside and see if the sky was clear enough to watch it, then slipped right back into dreamland. So now I'm up earlier than usual, doing a load of laundry so I have something to wear today at work, and contemplating breakfast (especially with that Friday Five :). When I went out at 7 there was an eerie fog everywhere; geese flew by and it took me awhile to place where they were, exactly. It reminded me of that summer years ago when I camped out at Pennsic War in the SCA. Funny how when you're out in tents it's ever so much easier to wake up with the sun, and the cookfires and the fact we were down in a valley made just that sort of magical fog.

Everything has that brand-new washed look to it outside. Yesterday we got some very strong storms through, with hail and a lot of lightning. It's as if the birds are more lively, and everything's just bursting. My roses look absolutely beautiful, and everything's coming up well. The hospital's lawn looks lush, which is good, because its annual open house is coming up this weekend. Hope it doesn't rain for them--there's a craft fair, book sale, etc., too. I'm not going (it's Cthulhu Sunday, and large crowds push the envelope of my anxiety issues), but there's usually nearly 2000 people there! I am tempted to stop by the craft fair, but I don't have any extra money at the moment, so why rub it in? :) Okay, time to get something to eat and then check the dryer. Have a good weekend.

You guessed it--it's Friday

1. What drinking water do you prefer -- tap, bottle, purifier, etc.? Highbridge Springs, a local brand from an underground spring I actually know the location of and have seen the operation.

2. What is your favourite flavour of chips? Natural--although there is a brand out there with nummy lavendar, rosemary, and sea salt out there. But generally, I just like my chips to taste, well, like chips. No sour cream, no barbeque, nothing like that.

3. Of all the things you can cook, what dish do you like the most? Pumpkin cheese cake.

4. How do you have your eggs? Scrambled, with milk added, maybe some cheese, and salt and pepper (no catsup). Alternatively, an omelet. Hard-boiled are okay, too. I absoluteluy hate fried eggs with the gooey centres.

5. Who was the last person who cooked you a meal? How did it turn out? Zabet, who always does an excellent job, unless she's under holiday pressure and even then, we think her cooking's great, even if she doesn't think so.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Zabet often calls me morbid, but I feel a need to mention this...(see, I don't just rant about the evil people do to animals)

I often think of myself as unflappable when it comes to the truly horrendous things one person can do to another. But sometimes even I can be surprised. Last week a young woman (18 years old) was found in a dormitory room at Western Kentucky University. She had been stabbed and set on fire, sustaining third degree burns. Her roomate was not home at the time and no one else was hurt in the fire. She later died of her wounds. They have made an arrest in the case, a young man whose family is apparently quite prominent in the region. Tuesday's paper told of a witness who says he saw this person rape, stab, spray hairspray on the woman, and set her on fire. I remember thinking, "how could anyone have witnessed it and not stopped it, or at the very least alerted the authorities?" Today a second arrest was made--I guess the police agreed.

I think I could understand a rape and even, in theory, murder. I could even understand setting a body on fire to hide the evidence. But to torch another human being who was very much alive--I just can't wrap my mind around it. Which is good, I suppose. But sometimes it's just a crazy world. As an older man at Walgreens said, honey, there's some real sickos out there. Having had my share of sickos in my life (although as far as I know, they weren't murderous), I hope I can avoid them in the future.

Oh, and by the way, a thumbs down to the media who printed the tidbit about the girl having started recently at a strip club as a dancer. 1) That may have absolutely nothing to do with the case, and will only tarnish her reputation in the minds of some and 2) I don't care what she did for a living no one, and I do mean no one, deserves to be treated like that. And I fear there are some who in their minds would rather think she did.

Fifteen years. Wow.

Fifteen years ago a bus carrying kids from a church youth group and their chaperones back from the amusement park Kings Island were hit by a drunken driver near Carrollton, Ky. Several of the people on board died. Others survived, bearing scars from the burns. I remember a couple of the spouses of those killed eventually married, partly because they understood each other's pain. It remains one of the worst school bus accidents/drunk driving accidents in the country. Laws were enacted in response to it; M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and S.A.D.D. (Students Against Drunk Driving) groups popped up everywhere. The driver spent 9 1/2 years in prison. I think he turned his life around, but at a terrible cost. I can't imagine living every day knowing I was responsible for something like that.

I remember that day, mainly because I'd been at Kings Island, too. It had been a long and horrible day. A security guard had threatened to throw the two guys I was with out of the park for holding hands. No one else had been singled out, even a long line of high school kids who blocked everyone walking down the causeway, with about ten linked arm and arm, and not everyone boy-girl. We'd only ridden about three rides, but at that point the fun evaporated. We stayed for awhile but had driven back to Lexington early feeling that we'd been cheated. I called to complain and was told that no one was allowed to hold hands in the park--even if I were a mother with a child I would be in violation of the rules. For years I wouldn't set foot in the park. I finally went with friends later only because Paramount had bought it and I'd called ahead and was assured that there was no longer any such policy.

Somehow, though, that all paled when we watched the news of the bus crash. I know it's silly, but it seemed more real because we'd travelled much the same route. My dad's family is from Northern Kentucky. Carrollton's not that far away from Owenton. I once took a wrong turn onto the Interstate and passed the sign commemorating the crash. People around here felt, in some small way, a little like the nation did after September 11th. Innocence was lost. People were left wondering what meaning could be found in so many senseless deaths.

I admire what the survivors have done with their lives. Some are outspoken against drunken driving and the need for safety regulations and laws. Several of the survivors are commorating this anniversary in Washington to discuss these very things. This is all the remarkable because several had severe burns, including on their faces. I am not sure if there is anything more socially crippling than a facial difference. I admire their fortitude. But mostly, I think they've just gone on with their lives, with all its ups and downs. Sometimes, that's the hardest thing of all, but it's the most important, don't you think?

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Okay, I think Hell is starting to frost over...

After years of hearing about how our company doesn't pay that well, but it's rock solid in terms of weathering a bad oeconomy, I found it interesting that our administration is having to make budget cuts only five months into the fiscal year. Knowing that there were some rumbling clouds on the horizon, I had turned in a budget for this year that was at about 94% of last, even with a request for travel to an annual medical library conference, when we were allowed to go 3% above last year. I probably screwed myself royally, because not only was the trip not allowed, they'll still want to cut some of the budget. My boss told me today that no one will probably get raises next year. I'm not really that surprised, but I think many who have been around for awhile are in shock. We've always been told that there's enough money in the system to run things for 20 years, even if another penny never went to the mix. We could usually count on raises between 3-4% a year--not anything like those seen at private companies, but I'm not sure if anyone's ever had to take a pay cut. There will be a series of "town hall meetings" to address concerns. One of the hospitals in another area of the country may be closing soon, and I think people are antsy.

Given that sort of climate, the natural thing is to check out jobs out there. There's usually huge competition for library positions in this area due to the library school nearby. And some places have been on hiring freezes most of the past year. Things must be improving, though, because there was not merely one but seven jobs in the area--five at universities and two at public libraries. I'm a little shocked, but gleeful. It's time to put those job hunting skills in action. Most start at about $36,000 a year--only one is less than $30,000 (and involves driving, so I doubt I'll go for that one). The university positions are faculty appointments, and you're expected to participate in organisations and conferences, whereas I had to really educate people where I work that I don't sit around reading and sshhhing people all day and couldn't get taken seriously in terms of going to a national conference. :) For someone who's struggled over the last 6 years with a so-called professional job that started at $9.02 an hour and even now barely breaks into the lower 20s in terms of annual income when the hourly wage adds up, that's a godsend. I've learnt a lot in the past few years, but I think I've reached a ceiling for what I can do. I feel stronger and better than I have in years, and I think I'm ready for something new. Ooooohhh. Please keep your fingers crossed for me. :)

One thing I'll have to add to my CV is that I apparently have won an award from the Hospital Libraries section of the Medical Library Association. It's a Scroll for Exemplary Service, and it's one of about 125 awarded throughout the country. One of the librarians on the committee called me and let me know the other day. Nifty. :) My counterpart in Chicago put in the nomination as a way to help get me to a national conference one of these days, I think. :) Well, that's enough for now. Have a good night.

Good morning...

I just woke up from 12 hours' sleep and I feel SO much better. All that staying up to instant message friends and play Literati with little old ladies from Iowa was taking its toll. I came in, called my grandmother and mother to wish them a belated mother's day (I meant to call on Sunday evening, but I had a gee-can-I-just-hold-my-head-together-until-it-explodes kind of horrible headache on Sunday, and once it subsided I realised that I had not called, and that it was too late to.) Having done my filial duty (and thanked my mother for being the one mom I know who has NEVER used guilt as a weapon--from what I can tell, that is just so rare, something her mom does well but she dispensed with entirely), I crashed. I really meant to sleep for just an hour. At 06:45 I woke up and decided I'd better set my alarm so I could get to work okay. Never heard it, but I still woke up on time, at least. My dreams had turned from interesting to the ones where you're going to be late or you're stuck at work because your blood sugar's bottoming out and you're too spacey to deal. Don't have dreams like that? Lucky dog. But, they work well to get someone up. Speaking of which, if I want to get to work on time, I'd better hustle to the shower. :)

Monday, May 12, 2003

Gee. Let's hope this doesn't cross over to humans...

A librarian on a list requested information for something that sounded very much like an urban legend, but is apparently true after all. Scientists report a new venereal disease hitting baboons in Africa that attacks the genitals and makes the penis basically rot and fall off. Ew. If it did make it to humans, I don't think we'd have trouble raising money for research on that one--every guy in the world would donate. I'm assuming females aren't safe, either, just in case any of you were getting ready to gloat.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

My weekend so far...

has been pretty nice. Yesterday I went to see X2:X-Men United yesterday with friends. It was great. Now that the first movie has had a chance to introduce the characters (or at least their version of them) to a general audience who may not have read the comics, the story was able to proceed at a better pace. More development this time was put into some of the younger members. And even though my favourite character (Gambit) was not on camera, his name (Remy LeBeau) flashed by. And Dee was happy to see a couple of glimpses of Hank McCoy (Beast). There's lots of little details that are meaningful for people who read the comics (admittedly, while I helped run a comic store, I didn't read X-Men as a kid and when I was working there were just so many X titles to keep up with, so I got some tips from longtime fans that made a lot of what was happening to Jean Grey make more sense. If you don't know about the Phoenix saga, grab a comic geek and get him or her to spill the beans.

Last night I had several very strange dreams. One involved my grandmother. I keep having these dreams where 1) the farm is still in the family, but there are subtle changes in the house and grounds, 2) no one thinks it should still be ours, 3) there's a zoo in Owenton. Later there was a dream with people from 'Jackie Chan Adventures' and Phoebe and Piper from 'Charmed' who were running a small boutique but got shrunk down to the size of Barbie (tm) dolls right before Christmas. Too much television this week, I'm sure. And then, because I'd watched two movies in one day (I followed up with George of the Jungle just for fun) I wound up having a bizarre dream which would make a great musical. Two men are brothers. One is quiet, serious, and has had a series of failed relationships with women. One is quite flamboyantly gay. The first discovers he has feelings for another man, and they fall for one another. The second is jealous, because he is both because he likes the the other man and he feels his brother is encroaching on his world. The Lexington Men's Chorus appears in it. At one point they're out on High Street singing a very odd rendition of 'My Way'. I woke up after this and decided I better blog about it before I lost the memory of it.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Checking in...

what i'm reading today

The latest issue of Archaeology magazine

what i'm listening to today

Ophelia, by Natalie Merchant

I've decided to move such things as what I'm reading, etc. to posts since those change so rapidly. Hope you won't mind. Besides, I'd kind of like to look back and see what I did when.

Friday, May 09, 2003

Something you just don't want to hear from the physical plant people...

"There have been several complaints about the taste and color of the domestic water in the [building]. Kentucky American Water company has been contacted and stated that water problems are due to the fact that they pumped water from the Richmond road reservoir into the water system.

Even though the water is a little colored and tastes like dirt, they assured us that is safe for consumption. Water hydrants are going to be flushed in the area to remedy the problem. It may last for a couple of days. During this period, you may want to drink bottled water."

And yes, that's the same reservoir that the creek with the chemical spill empties into. The reservoir got so full the other day Richmond Road flooded. Maybe that's part of the reason.

One more thing...

Before I go to bed, just wanted to mention a couple of things. I saw Zabet for the first time yesterday since she got back from New Zealand. She brought very nice presents--a mineral mud masque and lavender honey. Patrick will bring back the rock I requested when he gets back. Yeah, I know, I'm a dork. I collect rocks, have since I was a kid, and I love having a bit of a place visited. I have a Welsh rock and I'm looking forward to one from the other side of the planet.

As a bit of a bummer, I got news today that the guy I went out on a date with Sunday may be moving to out of state, which is a shame, because I think we clicked pretty well. :( I don't think it's a done deal yet. In the meantime I hope we can get together, at least with our mutual friends, before he leaves. We have a lot of interests in common and would do well at least as friends and I'd like to get to know him better and then maybe we could stay in touch with e-mail if he does go away. I get the idea that he wasn't ready to date (still getting over a relationship that ended six months ago, which is understandable--it took me ten years to get over mine) and this latest complication maybe made things even more awkward. But that's okay. I'm a pretty patient person, and it's not like I've been burning up the dating circuit the last few years. If it were somehow meant to be more, then it will work out eventually, and if not, maybe I can make a friend. In the meantime, one of the best things about going on the date was that I did okay. I was nervous beforehand--who wouldn't be?--but I genuinely liked the guy, I liked talking to him, and after a little bit I forgot to stay self-conscious. Maybe dating again could work after all, if not with him, then with someone else. I think of it as scary and a lot of work, but really, it's not like I'm wanting to latch onto someone like a leech or something. I believe in knowing up front what you're getting, and it was nice to be myself and that was okay. I'm not looking for "the one", although if that comes to pass, it's a special bonus. I just want to meet new people and learn how to interact. I'm afraid I'm a little dating retarded, and not having gone out on a date since...um...1985 (and I didn't realise at first that I was dating even then) leaves you rusty. And I am willing to work with a partner if a relationship does develop. [And, no, I'm not writing this just because I know you read my blog :) Yes, you get an honourable mention. Don't worry, I don't identify people on my blog unless I know it's okay. But really, I'm just talking through some of my feelings, and trying to sort them out.]

Oh, by the way, Dwana's got her blog going again. Check it out.

Well, it's definitely time to get some sleep. 'Night.

Out of masks and scared of SARS? Try a bra.

Men in China are getting a taste of underwire, no doubt. Granted, SARS itself isn't funny, but the idea of all these people running around with a C-cup on their faces is just hillarious. And it's a much better story than yesterday's weird news with a guy committing suicide by running into the local grocery and throwing himself on a meat saw (that was in Africa) and another man in Germany running around town with a wild-eyed look and a decapitated head swinging in his hands. Give me people with bras on their faces over that any day. :) On a happier note, a woman with two uteri gave birth to fraternal twins, one from each uterus. That sounds like fodder for the tabloids. Hmmm...I've heard of bicornate uteri but never two separate ones. I wonder how everything links up--one cervix or two. etc. Periods must be a bitch for this poor woman, because that's twice the lining.

One last bit of news that made it into the weird...West Hollywood, California, has become the first city in the nation to ban cat declawing. This controversial process severs part of each toe and tendons in the cat's feet. On the one hand, I believe that declawing cats is generally wrong. My own cats have all their claws and are subject to frequent trimmings. Of course, I do have a rather beaten-down couch as a result. I have one friend, Zabet, who agonised over whether to get a cat who was living in her mother's house and was still basically feral declawed. It took them three days and many endured and pretty deep cuts to finally get Aggie to the vet. She decided declawing was the only way they could safely prevent injury to the cat or themselves should an emergency arise. I agree. Later they got a kitten who was much more acclimated to human contact and especially good about having her feet touched (being a six-toed cat, she'd been handled since she was tiny), so they use nail caps on her. But I would call Aggie's a medically necessary declawing. How odd that in West Hollywood that would mean in order to do it they'd have had to travel out of the city to another vet for that. It's a little like forcing someone to go to another city for an abortion, but on two sides of the political spectrum. I find most people, when they realise just what's involved with a declawing, are less likely to do it. Maybe education and informed choices, rather than blanket legislation, is the answer.

I don't get some people

I came home this evening and took Cerys, my dog, out. She went out into the courtyard about six feet from my patio and three feet from someone else's (the apartments are nice, but they're apartments, and I'm on a corner, so we're very close together). She pees. Suddenly I hear a blood-curdling screech from inside the other person's apartment and "does anyone know who's dog that is?!" at which point I move into view and say "she's mine, is there a problem". "My kids play there!" Um...well, yes, of course. Does she think the ground is sterile? Does she not realise that virtually every space in the city that is not enclosed (and much that is) has been urinated on at some point by a dog? Granted, I think that--I don't say that. I tell her, "she only peed" to reassure her, since she may have thought otherwise. Obviously one does not want a child to play in dog poop. Does she not see the baggie I carry for that? She goes, "well, I'll have to clean my carpet". Excuse me? She's not peeing on your damn carpet. She's peeing on the God-given earth as dogs were meant to, on a patch that could only cause problems for the carpet because it's already muddy and likely to be more so, given the storm clouds approaching. I shake my head and lead Cerys away from the crazy woman, who slams her door and closes her curtains. I consider if I have somehow commtted a faux pas of some sort, but after careful review I think it comes down to the fact that she's just a crazy bitch.

Less than an hour later a huge downpour causes about three inches of water to temporarily pool up in our part of the courtyard, surely to goodness washing the last trace of the terrible dog pee away before the precious darlings can be contaminated.

Maybe I would feel different if I were a mom, but really, kids are going to eat dirt. Dirt is going to be dirty. If your'e not comfortable with that, you might as well vacuum-seal them away from the beginning. Some doctors today say that our love affair with sterile environments are partly to blame for the upswing in childhood asthma and allergies. Somehow, with all the things that can hurt a child out there, I think dog pee is the least of our worries. If a person's going to be uptight about it, then it would be better to get a house or at least have an apartment in a place that doesn't allow pets. I'm careful about a lot of things that matter. I clean scoop poop. I've never put in the barrel water garden I've always wanted because a child can drown in a bucket of water. I don't plant pretty things like castor beans or monkshood because they could kill a child dead. I just didn't expect caterwauling over dog pee. Silly me.

1. Would you consider yourself an organised person? Why or why not?
Ha! For someone who makes a living by organising things so they're accessible to others (and I was trained as a cataloguer), I am piss-poor at organising my own life. It's like it all gets thrown into one pile and things might surface to the top. An old boss is the same way. She said she was too busy organising other people's lives to deal with her own.

2. Do you keep some type of planner, organiser, calendar, etc. with you, and do you use it regularly?
I keep a handheld device--a Handspring Visor. Give me a planner and I use it a few times and it gets lost in the mound of stuff on my desk. Give me a computer and I'm okay, especially with backups. I used to say that at least I couldn't lose a computer on my desk. The handheld would be easy to misplace, but it backups each time I sync and I have a special pocket in my satchel for it. :)

3. Would you say that your desk is organised right now?
Actually, it is. I straighten up everything on a quarterly basis, and we're going into our big open house, so I'm trying to get the library looking nice. Usually I just get to a point where I can't take it anymore and sit down and organise.

4. Do you alphabetize CDs, books, and DVDs, or does it not matter?
Yes. Of course, what sort of librarian do you take me for? Actually, they are grouped by subject--so cookbooks are further divided into say, vegetarian, diabetes, Italian cooking, etc. History books are arranged chronologically. Fiction is by genre, followed by author's name. At least I've never put shelf labels on them.

5. What's the hardest thing you've ever had to organise?
Without fail, people. I've headed several committees and organisations, and unlike books, people just are too dynamic and resistant to attempts to keep them in order. They tend to wander off even more frequently when you're not looking.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Salam is back!

For an Iraqi perspective on the war and its aftermath, check out Salam Pax' blog, now updated with the what happened since March.

I'm going to sign off; we have a bad thunderstorm but I promised Dwana I'd post the address tonight. Catch you later. And welcome back, Salam.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

My cat looks very silly...but hopefully for a good reason

I have a 12-year-old cat (Buns) that has about as many allergies as I do, but he has the extra problem of licking himself when he itches. Just in case you're not a cat person, let me explain that cats have very rough tongues. We've changed litter, food, given him steroid shots, etc. But he still has trouble, and it causes open wounds that are pretty big in relation to a fairly small (7-8lb) cat. What's really a shame is that's he's normally absolutely gorgeous--a spotted brown calico with white stockings, which is very rare in males. We've done what we can to alleviate his actual itching but he still worries his skin--at this point it's a little dry but not inflamed, and I think he may be doing it more out of habit than anything now. Every time his wound tries to scab, he licks it raw again. So, I've put a triple-layer non-stick pad on with some hurt-free (read latex-free tape) that sticks to itself pretty firmly, and placed over that...a large sock with the toes cut out. Yup. He looks like he has a diaper around his middle. But I'm hoping it will help. I checked with a variety of people and it should help the wound. One of my coworkers who works with animals a lot suggested a very tiny dose of Benadryl to cut down on the last of the itching. Zabet even offered to knit some white cotton "Buns cozies", which is good, ,because the sock is way too short. Since he tends to get cold easily (he's always warm around the trunk but has cold paws, so his circulation is mucked up), that may help. And I checked, the sock isn't too tight. He doesn't like it, of course. He ate and now he's licking it--but he's not pulling at it, so I'm hoping I don't have to add an Elizabethan collar to the mix. Which I may, because he's really not liking this. He hates it when the 'thumbs'--people--get crafty.

May is National Mental Health Month

(My thanks to Cecile Douglas of SAMHSA for this information)
It is a fact! Good mental health is essential to the personal well-being of everyone. Good mental health enhances our ability to lead healthy, balanced, and productive lives. Mental health problems can affect anyone, and the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) is diligent in its efforts to address mental health issues in children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly.

May is National Mental Health Month, and SAMHSA’s National Mental Health Information Center is pleased to include this annual health observance among its special web page features this month. The theme for this year is “Mental Health Matters Every Day.”

Located at http://www.mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/highlights/May2003/mentalhealth/, this web page provides details about activities and programs developed by CMHS and other private sector organizations to improve services to individuals with mental illnesses and to help consumers consistently maintain good mental health.

Other related features for May, available to you and your readers on SAMHSA’s National Mental Health Information Center web site, include:

  • The National Suicide Awareness Week web page at http://www.mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/highlights/May2003/suicide/, which highlights this celebration taking place May 4-11. The event sponsor, the American Association of Suicidology (AAS), and its partners use this opportunity each year to disseminate information and resources on risk factors for suicide and emphasize prevention strategies.

  • Childhood Depression Awareness Day, which is observed May 6. Celebrated by the National Mental Health Association and its affiliates since 1997, this observance is designed to bring attention to childhood mental illness, a condition that is becoming increasingly more common. Recent SAMHSA research finds that one out of every 33 children may have depression. Go to http://www.mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/highlights/May2003/depression/ to learn about the signs and symptoms of this mood disorder and find out what parents and caregivers can do.

  • The CMHS Program Spotlight, featuring the Survey and Analysis Branch. This CMHS Branch collects, analyzes, and reports national statistical information on mental health services and the people served. Visit this special feature page at http://www.mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/highlights/May2003/spotlight/ to learn more about the program’s operations and projects.

All the featured sites referred to here link users to publications, related topics, and a select list of links to organizations that offer additional information on each topic. These resources are available for free to you and your audiences. You are invited to link to this information on your web site, post the content to your site with a link to the National Mental Health Information Center’s web site as your source, or use it in whatever way is most convenient for you.
The National Mental Health Information Center (http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/) is a service of SAMHSA, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Call 1-800-789-2647 for bilingual information services; (TDD) 866-889-2647.

More trouble for the Cuban independent library movement...

You probably don't picture librarians as dissidents, but the truth is librarians often consider themselves defenders of freedom--for good reasons. The press release below illustrates that point well; check out their website for more information.

May 1, 2003

Worldwide indignation is growing over the wave of repression being unleashed against Cuba's dissident movement. The Friends of Cuban Libraries have learned that the ten independent librarians tried in Cuba on vague charges of "undermining Cuba's national sovereignty" have been sentenced, after one-day trials, to a total of 196 YEARS in prison. Details are being posted on our website: (www.friendsofcubanlibraries.org).

In other news, Encuento en la Red (www.cubaencuentro.com) announced today that American intellectuals are now joining in the worldwide protests against the current crackdown in Cuba. Today's edition of Encuentro reports that Noam Chomsky, Cornel West and Ariel Dorfman (who has long been a supporter of Cuba's independent librarians) have signed an open letter protesting the mass arrests of Cuban dissidents. Earlier signers of similar petitions include Charles Faulhaber, the director of the Bancroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley and Jon Juaristi, the former director of the National Library of Spain.

In a turnaround, numerous European and Latin American intellectuals who until now have staunchly supported the Castro government have now repudiated the regime. Among these prominent persons are Jose Saramago, Eduardo Galeano and Carlos Fuentes.

For additional details, please refer to our website.

(Latebreaking News: On April 25, for the first time, President Fidel Castro denounced the independent libraries in a speech responding to the growing worldwide outcry against Cuba's repression of dissidents.)

In Solidarity,

The Friends of Cuban Libraries

Monday, May 05, 2003

Happy Birthday, Ma, wherever you are

I just realised today is the 5th. (Yeah, I was stuck on the Monday part.) Today would have been my great-grandmother's 100th birthday (she died in 1991). I miss her and hope she's well. She had a wonderful, feisty spirit, even though Alzheimer's robbed her of so much of her declining years.

You know a chaperoned blind date went well when:

1. No one ran screaming from the building at first meeting.
2. The main fidgeter was one of the matchmakers, not the two parties who had never met.
3. Everyone had a good time.
4. Everyone relaxed after the first few minutes.
5. Everyone had a free-for-all at the dollar book table at the end. Oh. Maybe that's not your ideal ending to a date. But it worked for me. ;)

I'll write more later.

Monday humour from one of those random e-mails

Subject: Crazy Newspaper Ads Actually Taken From Classified Ads In Newspapers:






1 MAN, 7 WOMAN HOT TUB -- $850/offer


1 5-finger, 1 3-finger, PAIR: $15









FOR SALE BY OWNER: Complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica
45 volumes. Excellent condition. $1,000.00 or best offer. No longer needed. Got married last weekend. Wife knows everything

Saturday, May 03, 2003

I wonder what Tom would say?

Genealogy can be very controversial, and of course private associations have total control over their membership, but I rather thought this was over the top. The wife of the head of the Monticello Association (which is made up of [paying] lineal descendants of Thomas Jefferson and controls the cemetary in which Jefferson lies) apparently went onto a Yahoo!Groups message board and pretended to be a black descendant (through a mistress who was a black slave named Sally Hemings). She adopted a persona of an older lady with emphysema. The Hemings clan have been formally excluded from membership in the association. Members of the association have in the past invited members of the Hemings family to the annual reunion, however. With this reunion looming, new rules were being put into place to limit their participation--rules that evolved as the Hemings discussed ways to get more people in. This seems the direct result of this woman's participation.

Many of the association believe the Hemings should be allowed in. DNA points that a Jefferson male (although it cannot definitely say it was Thomas) fathered at least the youngest child of Hemings. From what I can tell, to be a full member in the association you have to be a lineal descendant (but somehow I don't think DNA is used to figure that out!) and spouses and stepchildren, etc., can become associate members. They claim to be investigating the matter of how to determine membership eligibility thoroughly (and have been since 1999).

Okay, I know a private association can pick and choose whom the let in, but...well, last I checked a descendant was a descendant--whether they're black, white, or purple, legitimate or not. If someone produced a child by so-and-so, they're a descendant. Granted, it's probably harder to prove it through standard genealogy than through legitimate lines due to the lack of proper paperwork. But there does seem to be a great deal of evidence on the Hemings' side. So the Monticello Association comes off as a bunch of bigots protecting their idea of Jefferson--and even if her actions were not condoned, it's a public relations nightmare--even though many agree the Hemings should be welcomed in and are just as appalled by these revelations as the Hemings. Still, it seems to me it would be better for all involved to worth through the matter a little quicker so they don't undermine the whole reason for their group. If I were in charge, the wife, if she were an associate member, would be out on her butt quicker than you can say "Thomas Jefferson". And I'd invite a Heming in her place. But that's me. :)