Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Friday, October 29, 2004

I like how our ballots look

Sample Ballot for Cove Lake Precinct, Lexington/Fayette County

We've had electronic voting for years, but it's not on a screen. Rather, a putty-coloured board has the above printed on it, making it easy to read. You press the box next to the candidate you choose, and a red light lights up to show that you have made your choice. You can change votes easily by pressing another toggle box. When you're finished, you press a big button to register the votes and that's it. :) Mine is very straightforward this year...I still need to find out about the Board of Education race, and that's it. Otherwise, I know my votes.

If you're in Kentucky and want to see a sample ballot for your own precinct, go to http://sos.ky.gov/electionballots/

Timely and fun

Who would Dracula vote for? This is a Flash animation illustrating that 1) Kerry and Bush are 9th cousins, twice removed, and that 2) they both descend (11th generation) from Vlad the Impaler.

Check here for more, including other relatives, such as both Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

Guess this makes reunions a pain :)

Bush Relatives for Kerry

Is it any wonder some of us are sick and tired with such 'leaders'?

Guardian Unlimited | US elections 2004 | Oh, Oklahoma!

I love seeing what outsiders think of the US, and this article from Britain highlights some of the wackiness of our senate races, including one in Kentucky. By the way, several Republicans are now playing a game against Dr Dan by calling him limp-wristed and making other insinuations that he's gay (and I haven't heard anything within the gay community along that lines and have no reason to think he's a closeted politician) but then saying that it's not wrong because, after all, there's nothing wrong with being gay. Of course there isn't. But when you're spreading spurious rumours about someone that you know will harm them amongst conservative voters, it's still a smear campaign, and it just shows that the incumbent, Jim Bunning, is so weak on issues that there's nothing left to do other than coat-ride on Bush or attack the opponent personally. (Bunning also said Mongiardo, whose family was Italian, looked like one of Saddam Hussein's sons...wacky.)

That's the theme around here these days. Meanwhile, they're running ads against Nick Clooney (father of George), calling him 'Looney Clooney' and running down a list of things he supports that are out of touch with Kentuckians...things I happen to agree with. It's not one of my races, and it does bother me that he is for marriage to remain between a woman and a man, but hey, you can't have everything from every candidate.

The Republicans seem to be making the most blunders, but an ad against a proposed amendment in Kentucky that would make marriage strictly between a man and woman and prevent any civil unions or basic rights for gay couples was yanked from several television stations as a result of some misleading information in terms of some statements by the governor, Ernie Fletcher (whose brother is running for a race in which his main schtick has been, 'hey, I have Sunday dinner with the governor every week'...please). They're trying to appeal to women, saying that the amendment will hurt those unmarried women who seek emergency protective orders, etc. I'm not sure about that; I haven't seen the full amendment and do plan to before I vote, although obviously I'm for gay marriage and against yanking even the possibility of civil unions away from people, which is why many do not support the amendment. Even if they don't like the idea of same sex marriage, they don't want to leave them totally without rights.

I don't know whether politicians think we're all stupid, or if they are all stupid, or what. But I'll be very glad when the whole debacle is over. I'm off at my state job on Tuesday and I'm going to take off at the hospital, too. I'm also taking Monday off from both jobs...it was a good opportunity to get a little R&R, but I'm definitely going to go vote, then friends and I are going to have dinner and come back and watch the returns. Kentucky closes its polls quite early, 6 pm I think, so we get results sooner than many. Who knows if we'll even know who's president, though, that night?

Oh, and it looks like the tax referendum to support our bus system has a lot more support than anyone--even its proponents--thought possible. A recent poll put supporters ahead by 17 points. That's great. Lextran has been struggling and its services have been a joke. No one can rely on the system in this town, and having spent many a four-hour grocery run, I'd like to see it get some stable funding. Mind you, I don't own property, so it doesn't effect me as of yet, but I would certainly pay property taxes to fund public transportation. I at least have used it regularly and I'll probably never use the Fayette county school system. But some thing you just help pay for out of civic duty. Those two are examples.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Well, at least I got a glimpse

I took Cerys out a little before midnight last night and got to see the lunar eclipse at nearly full coverage for just a few moments when the clouds parted. I enjoyed it, of course, from a scientific and religious point of view. Sports fans probably see it as an omen, given the Boston Red Sox win in the World Series for the first time since 1918. I have a co-worker from Boston whose comment was that it was wonderful. 'I've waited for this all my life.' I'm glad they won. Even though I'm not much into sports (mainly figure skating and soccer, of all things), I like any sort of comeback story like that one.

Last night right before I rang off at the phone bank, I got a 102-year-old lady who'd been a speech teacher. She proceeded to lecture me about going too fast (she had lost her hearing in one ear and had trouble with the other) and about my enunciation. Y is just thrilled; he's been lecturing me on mumbling for years now. I tend to think faster than I talk, and I get all jumbled up. If I slow down, I sound, well, defective. He thinks I just wasn't socialised well. The thing is, they're both right. I do 'clutter' (it's a defect sort of like stuttering, but where you repeat words) and often can't seem to find the right word, because I just hit an impasse. I never realised I occasionally stutter until I worked as a telephone surveyer, because you get feedback when you listen to yourself more. It's amazing what things come out on the phone. Anyway, I'll take her admonition to heart...although she went on to lecture me about the proper way to draw my eyebrows on when I get older, too. :) She was a delightful, zany character. I hope I'm just as difficult at that age.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Oh, this is too nifty for words

Remains of New Species of Hobbit-Sized Human Found

Mind you, considering the stories of small human-like creatures that abound in that area, you have to ask...do they (or did they until recently) continue to exist, giving rise to the legends, or are oral traditions just that remarkably old, and if so, what does that mean for other such stories that are dismissed as pure poppycock?

Today's Blogsticker: Lying

listening to: WEKU
feeling: Tired

I'm sorry for the dearth of posts lately. In addition to the standard lack of immediate access through most of the day, I've been busy with both the regular jobs (I finished one project for distance learning, and I've finally got to a bit of breathing room at the library) and at the new temp job. We had training on Wednesday and Thursday, then hit the phones Monday, which, since I worked all three jobs, was an 11-hour-day for me. Monday I only got $65 in pledges, but last night was $301! It starts out slowly because we call the people who have lapsed the longest first. But considering on Monday many of my leads had moved, or worse, died, yesterday was definitely better, and it's set up to improve as we go along. Tonight I suspece many people will be watching the World Series, so hopefully they won't be too enthralled to speak to us. At least we're not political pollsters. I think people are sick of getting things in the mail and getting phonecalls and visits. I have to admit, I will be happy once the election is over myself.

It's nice to be working full-time again, even if it's at three jobs and somewhat variable pay. The phone-a-thon at least has an opportunity to make quite a bit in the six weeks we're working. Plus, there's another in March to look forward to.

My hands have been causing me more pain lately, especially when I first wake up in the morning...they just clench in spasm. Warm water, massage, and pain relievers help, though, and I haven't been impaired in my work, although I'm finding it harder to give massages or do some fine motor skills. I'm hoping we can get this taken care of soon.

Otherwise I'm doing pretty well. I'm reading PD James' Adam Dalgliesh mysteries, and I'm on the third one in a 3-in-volume. I'm looking forward to an 11-day break from taxi duty (not that I mind it, but it makes for a late night when you pick someone up from work at midnight), so I'm hoping to get to bed earlier and catch up on some sleep. I've been going to bed between 2 and 4 for awhile.

I guess that's all for now. I miss being able to wind down online at night...I think that's one reason I'm having trouble sleeping. Maybe I can eventually get back on. A phone at home will certainly help with my job search! But for now, despite being tired, I'm finding something much more important...I feel useful again. I didn't realise how much my self-image had eroded after the job cut. I mean, I know it wasn't because of my work or anything, but it is always a blow when your job falls out from under you. Working full-time is actually helping me feel more capable again.

The classical music and gloomy day are making me feel sleepy. Time to go do something to keep me awake and ready for what lies ahead today. Ciao.

I have to agree with this

User Education Is Not the Answer to Security Problems

The best way to attack a problem is not to blame the users, but change the system to make users less vulnerable. It's the same thing we do in the business world for safety...why don't we in the tech world, too?

Friday, October 22, 2004

Here's another survey that helps 'match' you with a candidate

AOL Presidential Match Main

On this one, I came out Kerry 88%, Bush 8%

Today's Blogsticker: President

listening to: 'Once More, with Feeling' from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the Musical)
feeling: Okay considering I just spilt Diet Coke over a good part of my desk!

I received an e-mail of late-night campaign humour and found this gem from Jay Leno:
In an interview in USA Today, Teresa Heinz Kerry said she didn't think Laura Bush, who was a public school librarian for nine years, had ever held a 'real job.' Let me tell you something, if you're a librarian married to George W. Bush, there is no harder job on earth.

So right!

Autumn is in full swing in Kentucky...the leaves are changing, I can see the wetlands behind my apartment clearer because the treeline has shed many of them. Some of the fruit trees are having that 'second-burst' of flowers here and there that missed out on spring. My allergies are their normal fall impediment. Election day will soon be here and gone, and life as channelled through the media can return to normal for a bit.

I'm enjoying the new job, although Monday is the first night we'll be on the phones, so that will truly tell if I'm any good at 'selling' public television to people. One great thing about being a state employee is that I get paid for holidays, even as a part-timer (I'm not sure that's true for the telemarketing gig, which is contract work, but it is for my distance learning position). That includes Election Day, Veteran's Day, and two days for Thanksgiving next month. I think I'm going to take the first couple of days of November off from the hospital and have a nice, long weekend. For one, it's my main religious holiday (Samhain). For another, a friend who's very politic-oriented is taking some time off to campaign and recover from the aftermath of the election, and his birthday is that weekend but we'll probably have to celebrate it a little later because he'll be visiting family. So that will give us a chance to do something.

Then on the 3rd I learn my fate in terms of setting up surgery for the carpal tunnel. I'm hoping that I can have the left hand done sometime by late November (maybe just before Thanksgiving?) and then the right after the phone gig ends mid-December, for recovery during the holidays. I have plenty of extended illness time and personal time off if I need it, but I don't think I have to be off much. One woman I knew went back to work the next day, but others have taken off a week, especially with the dominant hand. But if I can do that, it'll be great for work and I could be recovered by the time 2005 swings into action. I can't believe this, but I'm looking forward to the surgery, and more importantly, feeling my hands and ending the pain I've been having. I've been functioning, of course...I gave up sewing years ago but of course still keyboard, shelve books, all the things I have to do, it's just causing me quite a bit of pain now, and once I have the surgery that should improve quickly, and it's rare for it to recur again.

Well, that's all for now. Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Today's Blogsticker: Elections

Couldn't resist...I have fond memories of my great-grandfather (a lifelong, nearly religious old Southern Democrat) making phone calls during election season, and complaining the last year that he was actually putting a Republican into office because the Democrat had done him wrong. I never knew whether he just campaigned or bought candidates, but hey, there's a reason they call Kentucky counties 'little kingdoms'. My great-grandmother, on the other hand, was born into a world without a woman's right to vote, but only used it once in her life--to vote for a candidate her father wanted her to. Times have certainly changed.

Some of us were discussing our choices, and I came up with this:

I re-did the quiz from the SelectSmart website, because they sometimes change the issues (and they have recently, with more regarding Iraq or 9/11 security issues). I came out:

72% John Kerry (Democrat)
70% David Cobb (Green)
70% Ralph Nader (Independent)
61% Walt Brown (Socialist) [This is a friend's favourite]

so, really, I have a whole plethora of candidates to pick from. I have a lot of respect for Nader's consumer protection career, but I 1) do think his candidacy contributed to Bush's win in 2000 2) given how close the race is, I don't want to go independent in this election. I have to admit given the way things played out in 2000 and the closeness of this election, I'm a little ticked at Nader/ites, but then, it's his right to run, and their right to vote. But the closeness of the race was my main reason for not voting for Nader/Green last time, and it's still valid. I actually matched Dennis Kucinich much more than Kerry in the early part of the race, but it's unlikely he'll ever get elected, as he's too far on the Progressive Democrat side. (He was the one who wanted to establish a Department of Peace).

Unsurprisingly, I matched up with Bush only 24%.

Of course, the most important thing is to get out and vote, rather than who's voting for whom. And remember, if you have children, that taking them to vote with you can instil a positive sense of civic duty early on.

What I always have trouble with is finding information on the local and state elections, which have more impact on our daily lives. Here are a couple of links where you can check out platforms, etc.

Project Vote Smart (this one has a questionnaire that you can take where several candidates have also completed one and you can compare your answers with theirs--except that neither Bush nor Kerry filled one out)
The League of Women Voters' DemocracyNet (It allows you to put in your address and it gives you everything down to the state level)
Declare Yourself
and for Kentucky, KET's Election Coverage/Voter Education page

For local council races, there's some information in this article, but usually the Herald-Leader does a comparison right before the election (like maybe the Sunday paper before?)

And if you want a bit of humour, check out this candidate from the National Barking Spider Resurgence party. Yes. Really. And there's a list of the sheer numbers of people running for president/vice-president. Only 6 candidates are on our ballot, though.

Ever thought about running for a local office? Check out 'Taking the Plunge', a guide from the Kentucky League of Cities.

But regardless of how you feel about the various candidates, be sure to get out and vote and let your voice be heard. Remember, if you don't vote, you can't complain later. :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Too much excitement

This evening I:

  • was rear-ended by a guy who might have insurance, probably doesn't have a driver's licence, and most likely is not in this country legally. Good news: no one was hurt, and the car just has a tiny scrape near the licence plate. But it left me late for
  • an appointment where a friend and I were going, but we were still able to get in, and then I dropped the friend off and went to
  • a new temporary job I have, running through December 16th. Like the distance learning gig, it's with our public television station, but in fund-raising. I'm basically going to call former members and ask them to renew. I have telephone survey experience, but not telemarketing, although it's very soft sell, it's for a non-profit, and it's a worthy cause, so I don't think it'll be a problem. Plus, since we're in-house, their donations are actually going to the programming rather than some third-party company. The good thing is I get paid a minimum for just breathing, but I get an additional amount based on the donations, plus bonuses. A friend who did it last year averaged about $13-$18/hour when all was said and done, and since I'll be doing it 16 hours a week (in the evenings), that will really help. So far we're just training, but we get snacks, it seems like a great bunch, and I think it'll actually be fun and profitable. :) Yay!

That's all for now.

It's a week for surveys

Last night I answered a short phone survey on politics. Today I received a request from Daniel Sciboz on how I relate to people of other cultures. Here are my replies:


---Please type your answers

1. Cultural background (country of origin, nationality, ethnicity): USA; Anglo/Celtic/Amerindian

2. Native language(s): English

3. Age: 37

4. Gender: Female

5. Education (field or type of study / apprenticeship): Master's level/Library Science, History

6. Profession/ occupation: Librarian

7. Do you already have an experience interacting/working with people with a different cultural/ethnic background from yours? Yes

If yes, what kind? I was raised in the American South, with children of African descent. I grew up in the military and knew children of other races and who had parents from other countries (i.e., Italy, Korea, Germany, and VietNam). I have worked with international students in college, especially those from Malaysia and India. I encounter clients with other languages and cultural backgrounds (especially Spanish speakers and Amish). I have many Jewish acquaintances, and a few Christians and Muslims from Israel and Iran.

8. Do you speak any foreign language(s)? Yes.

If yes, which one(s)? German, Spanish, and Hebrew. I can read French.

---Please take a few moments to read the following statements. You may write the number corresponding to the degree of agreement or disagreement (as displayed in the scale below) at the end of each statement.

3 = strongly agree
2 = moderately agree
1 = slightly agree
0 = partially agree
and partially disagree
-1 = slightly disagree
-2 = moderately disagree
-3 = strongly disagree

9. Establishing an interpersonal relationship with individuals with a different cultural background is easy. (2)

10. Dealing with cultural uncertainties is troublesome.

11. I (would) feel stressed working with people having a different cultural background.

12. In a workgroup, a greater amount of new ideas can be generated, if individuals with different cultural backgrounds are present. (3)

13. In a workgroup with colleagues having different cultural backgrounds, there are greater chances for an incurable conflict, than in a homogeneous group. (1)

14. Hearing an individual speaking my native language incorrectly confuses me. (-2)

15. When in a different country from my own, I (would) look forward to meeting my fellow citizens. (2)

16. I tend to develop closer relationships with people having a similar cultural background than with people having different cultural backgrounds. (1)

17. Due to cultural similarities, my fellow citizens are more likely to understand me.(-1)

18. I can deal with whatever difficult feelings or frustrations I might experience in a new culture. (3)

19. Information sharing in a team decreases, if individuals with different cultural backgrounds are present. (-2)

20. I do not feel I am a member of any particular culture; I feel I am something else.

---Please choose one of the three options a, b, or c:

21. In which environment (would) do you prefer to work? (b)

(a) with people having a similar cultural background
(b) with people having a different cultural background
(c) it does not matter whom I work with

---Please type your answers

22. If you would had the choice, from which country/region or countries/regions would you choose colleagues? I don't really have a preference; it would be easier to bond with other English speakers, because I haven not been able to use my German and Spanish enough to maintain fluency. But I am interested in all cultures.

23. If you had the choice, from which country/region or countries/regions would you avoid choosing colleagues? I know people from my same culture who are narrower-minded than I could find in the most fundamentally narrow culture half-way around the world. I think attitude matters more than where a person comes from, and each individual should be judged on his or her own merit than on the basis of cultural background.

Strange takes on Pokemon

Japan for the Uninvited: Pokemon

By the way, this site Japan for the Uninvited is an interesting look at Japanese pop culture.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Kudos to this site

Two librarians I know, Winn Theirl of UK and Susan Byars of Hospice of the Bluegrass, are spearheading Project InSITE to serve as a resource on suicide and the issues surrounding it.

Today's Blogsticker: Dragons

listening to: Duke Ellington, 'In a Sentimental Mood'
feeling: Happy

Well, I have a third job officially, although only two employers. I'm going to help out during the fall membership drive at the public TV station where I work. It's four evenings a week, base pay of $5.15/hour, but with commissions can go up to $18 or $20, plus bonuses. I start tomorrow and it runs through mid-December, so it should help my money woes. Yay!

Things have been busy, both at work and during my 'free time', too, so I haven't had much chance to play on the computer. But just to let you know, things are going better for me. I'm enjoying a (mostly) flealess household. I'm thinking about going back to the gym and maybe doing the once-monthly Scrabble club that meets in Lexington, depending on how things go with the new hours.

I got the results of my MRI from my primary doctor (so I don't have to go back to the neurologist who thought $10 was much more important than providing quality health care). It came out 'unremarkable' which is good, although it sounds terribly boring. I guess everyone has a dancing chicken in their head (long story in some other post in August or September, if you're interested.)

I've been plotting out a story for yet another attempt at National Novel Writing Month. This time I'll write it into a blog; I think it'll make it easier for me.

Welll, it's time to go to lunch. Talk at you later.

PS I looked down at the date. October 19th. 19 years to the day since I met my ex; 13 years to the day since I had sex with him. A little over a month later I left and started divorce proceedings. Where did the time go?

Ah, the joy that was the Cold War

MSNBC - Scientists seek lost H-bomb off Georgia

Another librarian suggested this as a good resource for those wanting to show

how 'bad' information can look terribly official and trustworthy online.

It's also quite hilarious, and I'm sure there are those out there who have swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.

POP! The First Human Male Pregnancy - Mr. Lee Mingwei

Monday, October 18, 2004

As a mediaeval historian, I recognise that the Church, in its various incarnations, is quite political

Still...shouldn't the Church's actions be based more on whether something is the right thing to do rather than to promote accord with opposing factions within it?

Anglicans Criticize US Church on Gays

It's unlikely that people over varying cultural backgrounds are going to 100% agree with one another. But in American society, more and more people are realising that gender is not nearly so important in making a committed relationship so much as the love two people have for one another, and the Episcopal Church in the US is reflecting that cultural change. Many, including me, view it as no different than promoting a black bishop in areas where slavery once flourished. I'm sure there was opposition based on long-standing cultural prejudices there, too. It was still the right thing to do. I can only hope that one day people will care less about race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender than the personality and drive of the person considered, and the devotion he or she has to such a calling.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Just a quick note before heading to points south

Well, not that far...Danville is about 35 miles from Lexington, and Lebanon is a bit further. I stopped by the library to check my mail to get directions from the nice lady who's going to give me houseplants. I very nearly broke down and bought a purple passion plant at the grocery last night from lack of greenery (or purpery, in this case, since they're covered in purple fuzz), but fiscal responsibility reared up instead, so for now I am plantless.

I still really need to catch up on some sleep, but I'm at least refreshed up for the drive. The weather is this funky half-rain, half sun (it looks like the clouds are a giant Yin Yang over the city).

I'm sitting in the library and it feels so great...bustling yet welcoming. I really want to work here, and there's a position open at this branch right now that they're reviewing résumés.

Well, I'd better go if I want to get there before Ma starts fussing about dinner. When you have as many diabetics in our family as we do (5 at last count), you don't want to delay eating very long.

Today's Blogsticker: Cataloguers

Friday, October 15, 2004

Thing to do on a Friday

Got this in an e-mail today

While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.

Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand.

Your foot will change direction and there's nothing you can do about it.

I can do it if I think about it consciously, but unconsciouly it changes direction. Nifty.

Today's Blogsticker: Thinking

listening to: Silence of a Friday afternoon. Quiet. Nice.
feeling: Content

Being terribly sleep deprived (2 hours night before last, 7 last night, don't you love insomnia?) I thougth I might as well poke fun at my somewhat eccentric short-term memory/ability to form rational English speech (Lisaspeak being my first language), which has been even fuzzier the last couple of days.

What I've been up to:

  1. Having flashbacks of being beaten as a child that floored me. A friend and I were play fighting and it just came out of nowhere, with all the shock of ice water being thrown onto me. It's one thing I've always held on to...yes, there was emotional abuse. Yes there was sexual abuse. But no one ever really hit me, so I'm just a big wuss who can't stand anyone touching her, right? Of course, that fails to take in the fact that most of my childhood (with the exception of a few times when I was playing with friends and I felt safe) is a giant blank to me. With a lot of my issues, I've had to put things together like a jigsaw...where you start with the straight borders and work your way in, and you do as much by what's missing or by the pieces around it than anything else. I have been reluctant to 'own' surviving some things because whilst I suspect them and have vague memories, there wasn't anything I could be sure of. No, this was very clear, of being punched and dragged, and I know exactly who did it and, I suspect, why. I was a child who adults felt that as long as my physical needs were met, everything was fine, and there was no sense in being emotionally or culturally nourishing. I was really bright, and should have been encouraged in several areas where I had talent, but instead I was resented, partly because my birth had changed everything...marriage, military service, etc. were all brought on by my existenct, and partly because it couldn't be tolerated to have a child who was too smart. I remember how when I got my IQ test scores and I was 2 points above this person--trifling on a test with margins of error--and was resented for it. The same person single-handedly killed my love of math, although he didn't manage to put down my love of learning. I went from being a 5-year-old interested in 3rd and 4th grade math to being berated for every little thing when he tried to teach me algebra at age 9 and I learned to absolutely hate logic. I wound up someone whose self-esteem was linked to her smarts (because I got positive feedback in school) but who would unconsciously say or do the stupidest things to get a negative form of attention, who was afraid to give an answer because it might not be 'right', who tended to have idiosyncratic definitions of words because I learned most of them on my own, as an early reader. And now I think I finally understand, and I'm coming to issues with the fact that I grew up in an environment where my brains were not merely discouraged but punished.
  2. On a brighter note...payday means...

    • Groceries! Nummiest: Limited edition pumpkin ice cream that tastes like pumpkin cheese cake, but colder.
    • Cat litter and air freshener and laundry money/clean clothes make for a nicer environment at home.
    • The animals finally have Frontline and fleas are dying in droves. Last night I slept better than I had in months because no one was scratching.
    • I went to the doctor and he gave me 2 1/2 months of free samples for my meds, set up an appointment with the hand practice for the carpal tunnel surgery, and verified my weight loss, nearly 30 lbs total, about 20 in three months since I last went to him.
    • I now have a glucose metre that works with both fingerprick testing and on the arm, and my insurance will cover part of the cost on the strips, and I can get reimbursed for what I did have to spend so then I can funnel the money into some more meds for the animals (eating fleas=tapeworms).

What can I say, it's the little things in life. There are some new job openings, too, and I've been doing a lot of networking with the other librarians in the system and getting a lot done at work. I also watched the funniest 'Angel' I'd ever seen yesterday...Angel as a puppet. Literally. A brooding, frowning vampire puppet who nearly gets to be a werwolf's chew toy. I love Joss Whedon's sense of humour.

Now if I can just get some sleep. Oh, and I'm driving home to Danville tomorrow and on to Lebanon (next county over, Kentucky having many (120) smallish counties) to pick up some houseplants offered through FreeCycle.

Okay, that's all for today, folks. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Every person with mental illness needs an advocate

And here's one reason why:

System fails mentally ill woman who starved herself to death

The idea that a caseworker dutifully documented an illness over months but failed to do anything to help it is terrible. The idea that no one ever was brought to account for the failure is criminal.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Today's Blogsticker: Killing

Governments who kill their citizens in the name of progress are just wrong, no matter what the situation.

And, despite the fact that I think the Bush Administration bungled this whole war, I really hope Saddam Hussein and his cronies get their comeuppance for things like this:

Killing Field of Kurdish Women & Children found in Iraq

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Today's Blogsticker: Growth

Doesn't really have anything to do with what I'm thinking today; but I found it the other day and thought it was hilarious.

A little ignorance, a little stupidity, and a little good fortune

Ignorance: Let me say in my defence that I was raised by wolves, as one friend puts it. By that, I mean I wasn't really exposed to much art and high culture before, say, the age of 18. When I was really little I went with my mom to the drive-in, but the only times I even stepped into a movie theatre before my teens was a birthday party where another parent took us (to see a Bad News Bears double feature) and the movie 1776 through a school trip. I even missed out on Disney movies, seeing only Dumbo on the 'Magical World of Disney' or B-movies on TV.

School saved me to some degree, with two short months at Rusheon Junior High's Gifted & Talented programme, which was unfortunately cut short when we moved to California. For the first time I was getting to go to museums, and I even got to go to an operetta, El Capitan, by Sousa. My only exposure to Carmen or Shakespeare for that matter was an episode of 'Gilligan's Island'. The only Classical music we had in the house was an album of The Nutcracker and the theme to The Empire Strikes Back, both of which my father tended to play to headphones. What I'm saying is that my parents didn't have time or inclination to 'expose' me to high culture. I wasn't allowed to take piano lessons, I wasn't encouraged artistically, etc.

When I hit adulthood and was in a fairly large city for the first time in my life, I started exploring that world. But it was a mentor who came into my life in my 20s who really began to expose me to everything from Disney to musicals to art to fine food. And although I've come pretty far from such unsophistication, some things fell through the cracks.

So yesterday I'm driving to my second job, listening to public radio, and Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata comes on, and they're talking about how it tends to make people happy, and I realise I have just the opposite response, mainly because I had a flashback to the first time I'd ever heard its haunting tones. I was watching the film Koyaanisqatsi, a movie by Francis Ford Coppola without dialogue, where music and images show the dichotomy between the natural world revered by the indigenous tribes and the 'life out of balance' that our modern world has become. The sonata was played within the city, with crowded streets and faces worn down with gravitas, and it touched me deeper than any other part of the film, partly because I have strong emotional responses to music.

Today on my way to work they announced a piece by Mozart and I realised it was the same tune as 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star' or 'The Alphabet Song'. It was not necessarily composed by Mozart (the tune is that of a French children's song, 'Ah! Vous dirais-je, Maman' and was incorporated as a starting pointing into Mozart's Variations of that song. But it certainly popularised it to the rest of the world...and so every time we teach a child her ABCs, we're giving her a bit of Mozart.

I have always loved learning, and I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't know these two things. I'm still learning the actual titles of quite a few Classical pieces that I recognise but don't necessarily know. I love how each day brings something new, even something that for others is probably terribly obvious.

Now for the stupidity...I dropped a friend off last night after midnight and a woman came up to him in clear distress. Her grandfather had called her; he'd just been diagnosed with diabetes and his sugar was bottoming out. She asked my friend for a ride and he referred her to me. I know it was probably stupid--she was a stranger, could have had a gun, etc., etc., but my instinct told me she needed help. She just needed a ride up the street several blocks. I let her in and we proceeded. She'd just gotten off work and had had a couple of drinks and gone to bed when he'd called. She'd left her boyfriend and 6-month-old baby at home and gone out in a state, not driving because of the alcohol. She wasn't drunk, made sense, etc., but she was worried about her grandfather. I asked her if she knew what to do for him (since I have diabetes, I know how scary this can all be, and wanted to make sure she could handle it). She had a cigarette and asked if I minded if she smoked; I said yes, actually, I couldn't handle it due to asthma, and she tossed it away. She was actually quite nice. But of course, I'd just watched two hours of forensics shows...it could just have easily not worked out. But sometimes you just have to trust your gut and hope all will be well. After all, she was walking into a rough area of town. I didn't want her getting raped or murdered, either.

When I got home, I called to let them know I was home safe and sound and got a very deserved chewing out by another friend, who thought I was crazy. But at least things did work out.

In terms of good fortune, I got my flu shot yesterday, which is reassuring since the asthma puts me at risk and the last time I had the flu I was very sick for over a week. One good thing about working at a small hospital in the interest of infection control, they give you free vaccines, and there aren't that many doses needed, so it wouldn't do any good for public health authorities to yank the supply for some other group. The nurse must have a sprained thumb by now, though...she'd given dozens of shots before I came in. I suspect our entire supply will go quickly, but at least we'll be protected. I never intended to work in healthcare, but I certainly appreciate the added benefit of free vaccines. (When I started working in a hospital, I was able to get a Hepatitis B vaccine, too, and they checked my childhood immunity and found I was highly immune to measles, which was reassuring, since I'd been in an age group that had a questionable vaccine and there were a series of epidemics on college campuses when I was younger and we had a devil of a time verifying what type I'd received). Anyway, since I was miserable and missed work the last time I had the flu, I'm hoping it keeps that from happening again.

Well, I guess that's all for now. I'll try not to waste that dose by running any other people around the red light district at night. ;)

JibJab's done it again

A new parody of the Bush/Kerry race, this time to the tune of Dixie, called 'Good to Be in DC'

Monday, October 11, 2004

Happy Coming Out Day

October 11th is National Coming Out Day, a day devoted to helping people feel comfortable with safely coming to terms with their sexual orientation and encouraging them to talk to their loved ones and others about their lives.

In a way, my sexual orientation is rather moot, since I haven't dated in over a decade, and I don't really consider it to be a major part of who I am. But when I'm talking to people and the issue comes up, I believe it's best to be up front and say well, I'm bisexual, or if I see a guy or a girl and I think he or she is cute, I'll say so. But it's kind of weird because even my gay friends find that strange. In essence, I don't think the person's gender matters to me nearly as much as the personality, and although I recognise that there is chemistry between myself and other women or between myself and men, I haven't really found anyone who I just fell for, and I mostly see myself as fairly asexual. But I'd hate to think that if I had a girlfriend people would judge me differently for keeping her picture at the office or taking her to functions than if I had a boyfriend. And I have friends who are far more committed and loving than anything I ever experienced in my own short-lived marriage, and it bothers me that they can't profess their love for one another, enjoy legal protections and benefits of marriage, and very well might be attacked by some homophobic louts. I wish people could let go of hate and ignorance, especially those who have family members who come out as gay. I think it's incredibly sad when a parent disowns a child for an accident of birth. I can't imagine doing that to my own child, but I've seen it time and time again. I think most parents could be helped by groups like PFLAG to deal with the emotions it brings on, but many never seek that sort of help.

If you know people who are gay today, why don't you give them a small gesture of support? And if you know someone you suspect is gay, just saying something that shows you're not in the rabid homophobe camp can do a lot to help with the fear and in many cases self-hate people have who have always been told that being different is not acceptable.

Blogging crosses a milestone: Jeopardy

Thousand Robots: Jeopardy category: Blogs

Heard about this at lunch. Sad.

Christopher Reeve, actor and activist, died on Sunday

Blog of Death's entry

Today's Blogsticker: Hide and Seek

listening to: WEKU (Classical Music)
feeling: Happy

Okay, slighly irreverent. I'm in a puckish mood, I guess. I'm no longer attempting to keep th fa¸ade that I have any link to the Internet on the weekends, so I'm afraid you'll have radio silence two days a week unless I happen to go to the library, and weekends are usually too busy to do that.

It was a good weekend. I got some rest. I got more books put up on shelves so it's starting to look like a living room rather than a book dump now (mind you, I moved in MAY), but hey. Yesterday, in anticipation of having a little money, I was looking through the grocery circulars and other advertisements in a friend's paper and found a window sheer for my bedroom on sale that matches the two in the living room, which would be nice for privacy and only about $10. This morning I nicked an abandoned doormat (one of my neighbours moved in August and no one's there, but the mat remained). It's got leaves and wild roses on it, happily earthy like the curtains (also wild roses). That, along with a Bridget's Cross that Tracita made several Imbolcs ago hanging on the door cheers up the entrance.

Yesterday was the game, where we went up againt evil animated dolls, toy soldiers, mannikins, and marionettes who had shards of a Kryptonite-like meteor (well, except it was controlling the dollmaker). One of my characters succeeding in throwing a knife and taking down the rock's minion, only to be controlled herself. She was a moment away from taking an innocent's head (50 points of damage!), which by using her enchanted sword to kill an innocent, would have resulted in a double-damage backlash against her (hence death), when an NPC (non-player character, for those who aren't gaming geeks) managed to hit her with an empathic mind storm and drop her into a catatonic state. We hope we can put her back together, but at least she didn't kill the innocent. :) Ah, you've got to love gaming in the horror/sci-fi genre.

I missed Charmed last night because the game ran late (but it's on again on Tuesday). Then I stayed over and watched the second instalment of PD James' Death in Holy Orders on Mystery! Very nice.

Today is sunny, beautiful outside. And I remembered to bring my lunch, several bits of nummy Indian food. So, I'm going to go nuke them and take a quick lunch. Ta.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Today's Blogsticker: Things

Need a pick me up?

These billboards are hilarious (J sent me quite a few via e-mail. That and lunch really perked up my day.) :)

Hope you all are having a good end-of-the-week. I started my day out in a state of, well, bitchiness. I'm mid-cycle, didn't have much sleep, and haven't been eating much more than peanut butter and bread lately, which is apparently a recipe for grouchiness. Today a friend from work treated me to tater tots, a tuna sandwich, and salad, and another bought me a Diet Coke. So, maybe the lack of caffeine has been an issue, too.

I had a long talk today with someone about some issues that have really been disturbing to me and I feel a lot better. It helped me step back and separate myself from the situation emotionally and analyse my options. I hadn't realised how close I was to a breaking point, and just needed to allow myself to really feel what I'd been repressing. As a result, I'm hoping I'll be in a better position to be supportive to others. I've got to learn to let go of what I can't control, and help in the ways I can, which sound like common sense, but when it comes to a situation involving mental illness, it's hard sometimes to keep that perspective.

I've dealt with mental health issues myself and in various people I love. It's the most difficult, frustrating, and yet educational thing anyone can go through, whether it's anxiety, depression, alcoholism/addiction, personality disorders, or psychosis. Nothing is ever easy. Nothing is ever set in stone. You never know where you stand. It can tear people apart, and it can bring people together. You know the saying 'that which does not kill you makes you strong?' I think many of us are survivors of various forms of mental illness. A lot (in fact, I suspect nearly all) of the most devastating forms have a real, physical basis which goes unnoticed by many. But because of how it is expressed, it carries a terrible stigma, and that only makes it harder to seek help. It also tends to have a far more devastating effect on the whole family, because it effects the very relationships of the people involved, and often others can't really understand what a person is suffering. It's akin, I think, to a chronic disorder such as autism, Alzheimer's or cerebral palsy, where the entire family is changed by what one person has. And one of the biggest rules for a caregiver, whether due to a physical condition or a mental illness, is to take time to nourish his or her self, and working in concert with others is the best plan. I've tried to keep that in mind, but it still takes a toll on everyone, and that can't be avoided. But in the end, I think it's so worth it, because it reaffirms the love that we each have with one another, it helps maintain the quality of life for those in need, and to repay the similar actions others may have taken in the past. It helps us keep hope, hope for a cure, hope for a better life.

There are some times, say in a marriage where addiction or depression lead to violence or abuse, that one party has to have courage to leave. There are other situations, just as difficult where there is a stronger bond and where the person's life is not in danger, that it takes courage to stay. I once left a situation similar to the first, and I have had someone else have the force of will to stand by me (ironically by drawing a line at where things would end) to force me to get help for my own issues. I don't know if it's so much brave to try to be there for those drowning inside their own heads, but in the end, it's sometimes the best thing you can do for those you love, even if you can't make anything else better for them.

And I have to admit, as stressful as life has been lately, it's helped put my priorities in order. There is nothing more important to me than the ones I love. Money issues, job hunts, etc., pale in comparison with that. And I've been fortunate to know people--patients, people online, people in my life--who deal every day with issues of such depth of gravity I can only dream of. People sometimes accuse me of morbidly seeking out the sad, the suffering, but in fact, it reminds me that the universe does not revolve around any of us; misfortune has no discrimination. Good people suffer, bad people live the high life, and in the end the only thing we can do is take responsibility for our own lives, try to make good decisions, and try to stay connected to those around us, whether friends, family, acquaintances, or on the level of other humans trying to make the best of life. The alternative is to slip into a sort of unreality that then colours all of our interaction with the world. And we can also just try to hold on to hope, and love, and if we believe in a greater Power, trust that the universe makes sense, and that we are somehow playing a part in that design.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Well, it was an interesting ride, at least

Cambodian monarch abdicates the throne for the second time. The 'mercurial monarch' has outlasted years of conflict within Cambodia, and has been partly blamed for opening the door to the Khmer Rouge and its genocidal practices, but has also manoevred for political survival in a way Bill Clinton could only dream of.

Flip-floppy politics

I don't believe with all the points to this commentary, but I do with most of them.

Bush must have a mojo hand

Here we go again

Flu snafu illustrates systemic problems

Need Microsoft Office help? Try the Crabby Office Lady :)

Microsoft Office Online: Crabby Office Lady columns from Office Online

Ah, this modern life

Vioxx Recall Leads to Worldwide Spam Reduction

What a weird world we live in

Vioxx Recall Leads to Worldwide Spam Reduction

Googling your way to buying a book

Google opens a new chapter

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


I found out a little while ago that when my stepdad has sustained damage to his heart following the heart atttack he had last month which may seriously muck with his ability to work, etc. The sad thing is, it was probably preventable, but the signs were apparently dismissed and he didn't receive the best treatment.

Here's hoping he's feeling better soon. He's a great guy, and he's only in his mid-fifties, and that's pretty young to be having to contemplate retirement. :(

Today's Blogsticker: Religion vs. Spirituality

As a reminder to myself, I need to put a little bit more spirituality into my life rather than commiserating about the stupid things.

No, I didn't fall off the planet

But I haven't been around an Internet connexion in four days. I took off a couple of days from work to help a friend and it's been a busy and weird long weekend. I'd hoped to take a bit of a breather on the side, but no dice. This morning I overslept, realised I'd forgotten to drop off my rent payment, and then my car wouldn't start (I suspect I'm out of gas again, which is annoying, because I thought I'd be okay until tonight, and a friend offered to put a couple of dollars in last night. I should have let him.) I also forgot to bring my lunch. So, I am a class-A ditz today. But, a neighbour helped me push the car back into place and gave me a ride and overall I'm feeling pretty good today, so it just seems like a Monday, and so I didn't get upset and decided to just plough forward and do what I can to make the day work.

News from the front while I was out:

I went with a friend to the Democratic Party headquarters to pick up a yard sign for him for Dr Dan Mongiardo, who's running for Senate and a Kerry-Edwards bumpersticker for me. Unfortunately (or fortunately, I suppose, since that means 38,000 people have gotten them already), they were out of the bumper stickers, but I did get a smaller sticker to put on my car. My friend is taking off some time around the election and doing walking and phone campaigning.

I didn't get any of the part-time jobs at the public library, but I am in the application pool for a full-time one which would be right in my neighbourhood. There's also a hospital library position I've applied to, but it's only an assistant librarian and actually pays a little less, so it would be a step down career-wise, but at least it's full time. Meanwhile I may see about doing some fundraising work for the public television station I work at. One of my coworkers did that last year and since you make a commission, it averages out to be a pretty decent hourly rate. I so just need something to bring some money into the equation.

Fortunately when I get paid next week I should be able to take care of some of the things I haven't been able to, like the fleas (now in Aegyptian-plague proportions), groceries, cat litter, that kind of thing. But right now it sort of sucks to be making just enough that you're not eligible for assistance but not enough to keep basic necessities like food, medicine, and electricity going. Still, it could be much worse. I have no doubt that things will improve, and really time passes pretty quickly. I'm at least to the point of not going 'oh, it's a whole week until I can get groceries' but rather, 'well, a week will go by quickly'.

One good thing about this...I've lost about 28 lbs since July, so I feel better in terms of not carrying around so much. I think my weight does impact the whole job search thing, for one, although I think the main trouble is too many librarians around our library school and too few jobs for someone who wants to stay in this area. I could leave, but I'd have to leave very good friendships and really, that's something no amount of money can buy, right? I'm much richer in some ways by sticking around. This has really become home, and for someone who grew up moving every few months, that's special. I'd still like to travel--but with a home base. I just have to keep hope that I can make it here somehow, and explore all the various opportunities that come along.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Ooh, all the twists of a good thriller

Library's medieval crime-buster

Today's Blogsticker: Freedom


CNN.com - Spain moves closer on gay marriage - Oct 1, 2004

I didn't expect this from a predominantly Roman Catholic country. Good for them!


Surveillance provision in the PATRIOT act ruled unconstitutional

This pretty much sums up my take on the debate

Daily Kos :: Political Analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation.

I think Kerry came off as intelligent, dealing with issues, and thinking about strategies. Bush came off as a rather over-ripe squashed tomato who whined and avoided giving real answers to questions. Even at the most basic--their stances and appearance--Kerry looked confident, Bush hunched and constipated. One friend and I decided that the makeup artists--each candidate had his own, as per their negotiation--did a much better job with Kerry. We decided Kerry probably had the gay makeup artist and Bush had a woman named Nadine from a trailer park in Texas.

Okay, maybe that's a little harsh. Still, that was the impression, and it didn't seem to improve as things came (or rather didn't at times) come from his mouth. I loved that he got Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein mixed up. Yep. Debates, like running the country, are hard for dear W.

The thing is, I think Bush will still win. I think that people will probably see what they want in the debates, or rather, ignore them and go with what they 'feel' makes a better candidate, than truth or rationality. I know I was already biased against Bush. I'm sure those biased against Kerry were probably not ready to go vote for him. But maybe for some undecideds, the debate helped clear up some things.

My favourite aspect about the debate was that a lot of the criticisms that I have against our president were voiced there up on stage for all the world to hear, and he had to stand by and take it, and have his chance to respond. And what did he do? He squirmed. I think that says a lot about our leader right there. For whatever the outcome, at least we have that.