Saturday, August 22, 2009

Irony Curtain

I recently watched video of a town hall meeting in Tampa, Florida.

Apparently, the meeting place held only a few hundred people, but several hundred showed up. Those who were in the hall, unable to fit into the room, began shouting over the speaker. They chanted, "Hear our voice! Hear our voice!" (It probably should have been voiceS, plural, but we'll let that slide.) Because they were disrupting the meeting, security officials came over and closed the doors. This really enraged the people in the hall, and they began to beat on the doors. "Let us in!" When security came back out and told them that they were keeping the doors closed, the room was over-capacity, and they were disrupting the meeting, you could hear several comments. "This is a public meeting!" "Why can't we come in?!" And then a plaintive....

"We only want to hear what is going on!"

Protester Maybe I'm missing something here, but how can you hear what is going on when you and several dozen other yahoos are shouting so loudly that you are drowning out the person who is speaking? I just love that poor pitiful me attitude, where these folks stomp on others' right to speak their minds and then get all pissy when they get called on their own rude behavior. These people squawk about their First Amendment rights being violated after violating that same right of others so thoroughly that the poor First Amendment has to take the morning-after Walk of Shame, hungover, with smeared mascara, its panties stuffed in its purse.

I don't consider going to town hall meetings and making your voice heard to be un-American. On the contrary, I think it is our right as well as a privilege, and I also feel it is our civic duty as concerned citizens. However, I consider shouting down your opponent to be rude and uncivilized. For God's sake, it reminds me of shouting matches with an ex, in which no one was listening, no one was being heard, and things didn't stop until someone was physically pushed, or locked themselves away in another room, or took off in their car just to get the hell away from that toxic atmosphere and all the freakin' shouting. Health care is too important an issue to just shout at the opposition until they can't take it anymore and want to hop in the car and speed away. It is no longer discussion, it is not civil discourse, it is not is intimidation, pure and simple, designed to silence the opposition, to shout them into submission.

Add to that the distinct lack of accurate information, a high level of paranoia, and a missing compassion gene, and you've got a pretty nasty stew. Just out of curiosity, I'd love to know how many of the most vociferous anti-health care reform protesters have health insurance of their own. Hmmm.

I applaud Congressman Barney Frank for saying “Enough is enough” and giving it right back to a woman who, at a recent town hall meeting, played the Nazi card…to a man who is both a homosexual and a Jew. Way to go, lady, and thank you, Congressman Frank, for the spectacular smackdown. It made my day, and I hope I get to use your phrase “arguing with you would be like arguing with a dining room table” at some point in my life.

Fair warning: I'm not done with the health care thing yet, not by a long shot. And it’s starting to make me very very angry….

Life on Mars

Friday, August 21, 2009

I always wanted to be…a lumberjack!

Nutwood Early June3 My worries the other night about Ken cutting off his leg with the chainsaw or the tree falling and bashing my brains in were all for naught!

The power company was right on time, and came out to where Ken was with the ladder to assess the situation. When the company told me on the phone that they would "drop the line," I thought it just meant that they'd cut power. No, they actually disconnect the line and lay it down on the ground while the tree cutting takes place. However, this is up to the discretion of the crew, and they said it would be easier for them to take care of the trimming, rather than drop the line, go do something else, then come back to reconnect. How cool of them, and what a couple of nice guys! (I'm sure it didn't hurt that Ken works for the same company, and they were able to talk a little business and mutual acquaintances...but they really seemed to be just nice guys, willing to help out and take care of it.) They got their trimmer, along with one of those nifty chainsaws-on-a-stick (I foresee a purchase in our future), and Kengineer helped them find the best spot and angle to cut. They didn't have to cut the power, and after they trimmed the branches on the line, they cut the limb of the living tree that was holding up the dead one, and bada-bing, bada-boom, the tree was down.

Thanks, guys, nice job, and I was really impressed!

Mystery plant I had a dentist appointment, so had to run out for that (turns out Cousin Shane was there one patient before me!), and when I got back, Ken had revved up the chainsaw and pulled up the tractor and cart. I didn't get to do any actual lumberjacking, just picked up the logs and loaded them into the cart as he cut them. (Beth + Chainsaw = Very Bad Idea.) We had two loads of wood, and he drove around to the woodpile in back (sure wish we had a fireplace!) and we unloaded. It was a solid couple of hours of work, and we've both taken some preemptive Advil. We were completely done by noon! Nice to get that taken care of and to not have to worry about that particular "falling sword." It was also fun to be out there working together, and it was a nice reminder of what people can accomplish together when they put their minds to it. We didn't move mountains, but we moved a big tree! (Are you listening, Washington? You can accomplish more if you work together.)

Happily, there were no injuries, although the jury is out on poison ivy exposure. The downed tree had a big vine of ivy running up it, but I think we were able to deal with it without getting it on us. Ken is a lot more susceptible to it than I am, but we both showered promptly after we came in.

Off to do some reading, both book and blogs. Coming soon...some thoughts on the disruption of town hall meetings. And yes, Lucy, I promise to tell it like it least the way I see it!

In honor of our morning's work, here's one of my favorites from Monty Python.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Flattery will get you everywhere

I hope everyone is enjoying their day! After morning rain here, it cleared up nicely, and it really cooled off! I'll probably have to put on socks soon, because my toes are getting cold!

Award Honest Scrap I was very flattered to get a couple of awards from fellow bloggers. As I do with most awards, I pass them along to anyone I read, and who believe it applies to them. First was Lucy of What is Left of a Whole New Life, who gave me the Honest Scrap award. She says I "say it like it is." I try, Lucy, and believe me, not everyone likes it as much as you do! I do tend to get a little...passionate...about things, and I freely admit that.

It still makes me laugh to think of when we met our blogger friend Mark in Detroit. As we were having breakfast, we talked about how people are often so much like the way they write. (People have told me that in the past, because of my letters, and I think it’s been true so far when it comes to bloggers we’ve met.)

Mark: [pointing to Ken] write about a lot of technical stuff, and you're always really laid back, and that's just how you are in real life.

[Ken and I nod]

Mark: [pointing to me] And you are...

[At this point he starts laughing]

Me: Not?

[we all laugh]

Me: I'm laid back, too!

[Mark and Ken laugh]

Me: I really am! What's so funny? [I'm laughing now, too.] Okay, I'm laid back until I get fired up about something.

I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Award Superior Scribbler Second was the Superior Scribbler award from Deb at Write on Target. Deb is an honest-to-God writer, working on her second book, so you know it means a lot to me to get this from her! I love reading her blog, because not only is she a fantastic writer, she has plenty of tips and thoughts about writing and pimping shopping out your book. She's also got a great sense of humor, and I suspect we could stir up a little trouble together. I hope I get a chance to find out one day!

I thank both of you, and appreciate the kindness very much. I don't know anyone who doesn't love a little ego-stroking now and then!


It's no secret that I spend a lot of time on the computer. (I manage to get other things done, and yes, I ironed today!) Sometimes it still strikes me, though, what an amazing thing this is. This afternoon, I spent a little over an hour watching an online health care forum conducted by the President. It still astounds me to see the level of effort the campaign, and now the Administration and other organizations like MoveOn, have put into the Web in order to get their message out. It really is a linked-in society now (and I'm not even on LinkedIn!), and it's really cool to share this in real-time with others online, who are often hundreds of miles away.

Tea Bag sign Of course, it's a double-edged sword, since so much of the current misinformation has spread via the Web. The other day, a fellow blogger forwarded an email to me concerning all the terrible things that health care reform was going to do to us. (It stopped short of saying that it would induce painful acne flare-ups and cause embarrassing halitosis, but it was a close thing.) The person wanted my opinion, and I can't tell you how much I appreciated that. I don't have all the answers, and don't pretend to, but I can do some research, and I did so, providing several links for information, and refuting some of the ridiculous claims in the original email. I love it when someone doesn't take a forwarded email as factual and tries to learn the truth, and I've gotten increasingly likely to check into the fact or truth of things forwarded to me, and send them back with a link that provides the "rest of the story." Snopes and Factcheck are our friends, people! It should go without saying to not believe everything you read, but too many seem to think that if it's circulating on the Web, it must be true. It often is not.

I would say that the likelihood of my factchecking something and sending it back to the sender is directly proportional to my frustration with those who have blind faith and automatic belief in anything. What really perplexes me, though, is that so many simply refuse to accept proof. Whether it's Obama's birth certificate or the exact page and line that says nothing about "death panels" or specifies that illegal aliens will not be covered under this health care bill, they just will not accept it. "I don't believe you," they say. I wrote to a friend today that I wondered if that would work at the doctor's office.

Doctor: I have bad news. You have cancer.

Patient: I don't believe you.

Doctor: No,'s the X-ray.

Patient: I don't believe you.

Doctor: LOOK. Look at this X-ray. See this thing? It's your lung. See this big white thing down here at the bottom? That's a tumor. You have cancer.

Patient: You're making it up.

[Please note that I am not making fun of cancer. I've had several loved ones have it, and it is not a laughing matter. I'm just trying to illustrate my point.]

I just don't get it. How does written, notarized proof not provide irrefutable evidence? It seems to me to be a level of paranoia that is astonishing. Frankly, I find it a little creepy, too.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Sword of Damocles

The Sword of Damocles Are you all familiar with the story of the sword of Damocles? It's a good one in which Damocles is a complete suckup to King Dionysius, constantly going on about how great it must be to be the King, blah di blah blah. King Dionysius gets sick of hearing it, so he decides to teach Damocles a little lesson in politics. He provides him a lavish dinner of all the food and drink he wants, as well as any pleasures of the flesh he desires. Pretty cool night, huh? Except at some point, Damocles happens to look up, and sees a sword suspended over his head, hanging by a single hair. That kind of killed the evening for Damocles. The King successfully illustrated why fame and power isn't all it's cracked up to be, that there are constant worries for the head that wears the crown. (The painting is by artist Richard Westall, 1812.)

Today, it's also a phrase used to indicate any sort of possible peril that is hanging over your life. Our tree on the power line is apparently my sword of Damocles, because I woke up last night with a sense of dread and anxiety, of which the tree was only the tip of the iceberg (I think I'm mixing metaphors). Do you ever have those nights when your mind starts racing and tries to tell you about the worst things that could happen? I'm a very optimistic person, but I do have a worrisome side to me which I try to keep locked in its cage. Sometimes it gets out, and that's what happened last night.

It began with thinking "What ifs," like "What if the chainsaw slips when Ken is cutting the tree?" "What if I'm holding the ladder and the tree falls and crushes my head?" I saw what was happening and began trying to combat it. I used imagery, imagining that I was packing these worries into a wicker basket, leaving it on someone's doorstep, ringing the bell, and then running like hell. I felt bad for leaving my worries on someone's doorstep, so that didn't work. Then I started trying to think of good things to combat the worries, but my overactive imagination was having none of it. "You've got great parents who love you very much." [Yeah, but what if something happens to them? What if one of them falls and conks their head, or breaks a hip?] "You're very lucky that you and Ken found each other." [Sure, but what if he gets in an accident on the way to work? What if you get a call that he's in the hospital?] "The twin fawns are so beautiful and so much fun to watch." [What if the coyote gets them and eats them?] "Sheeba is a great cat, and it's so sweet when he curls up on your lap." [Cats don't live forever, you know. Sheeba is already over 8 years old. That makes him middle-aged in cat years.] I tried using rational thinking and logic. "These are all things that could happen, but chances are they won't. You know this. Why do you keep thinking like this?" What if, what if, what if?

Sleep You get the idea. It was a couple of hours of worst-case scenario thinking, and although I knew I was in a loop, I couldn't break out of it. I'm not sure what triggered it, but it might have been because we watched the movie "Monster" the other night, one of the bleakest movies I've seen in a while. (It's about serial killer Aileen Wuornos, played by Charlize Theron in a role that won her an Oscar. Fantastic job.) Although I'm a big fan of actual monster movies--the cheesier and creepier the better--I find that movies about real monsters disturb me and leave me mentally reeling. Encountering real evil is much more disturbing than watching or reading about imaginary evils, and maybe some evil and/or unbalanced behavior I've encountered recently (people carrying "Kill Obama" signs, hatefulness, deliberate deception, et al) contributed to such negative thinking, which is highly unlike me.

I believe that such behavior only results in more negativity. Our behavior has an impact on others, and it also has consequences. It is entirely up to us whether the consequences will be good or bad. Karma, baby. Believe it.

What finally broke the spell? I got up to use the bathroom, and gave Ken a hug before he left for work. A little human contact does wonders. Then when I laid back down, a cardinal started singing as dawn broke, and he was joined by a few other birds here and there. It was a comforting sound to me, and made me know that the birds of Nutwood greet each morning with a song in their heart, and so would I. That's exactly what happened. The sound of the birds sent me off to Snoozeville, I slept like a rock for two hours, and when I woke up, the sun was shining. I had a nice chat with my Mom and Dad, a woman came by to pick up the computer desk we had on Craigslist, I arranged a time for the power company to come by on Friday (so we can remove the sword of Damocles in our yard!), and I did a load of laundry. [Sidebar: Let me just say how much I love our "new" washer and dryer! Ken's Mom gave us theirs for helping them move, because they couldn't use their own appliances in the place we found for them. It's got a higher capacity than our old one, so I have to do maybe one load of laundry a week now, when before I usually did two. It may seem like a little thing, but I think it is totally awesome. Tomorrow I'll tackle the ironing...not my favorite task, but I can handle three shirts!]

The saying is that the darkest hour is just before dawn. If you can get past that, you're golden.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

AWOL Brain

Brain I just walked out to get the mail, and when I got to the road, I remembered that I'd already picked it up when I came home from the grocery store this morning.

If anyone finds my brain, please return it to me. I miss it.

Remember when I wrote about my Mom finding raisin bread at the store for 50 cents, so she bought twelve loaves? I am my Mother's daughter. One of my favorite things at our local store is stopping at the area where they have a couple of carts filled with clearance or discontinued items. I've gotten bottles of wine for four dollars, cans of carrots for 40 cents, and other good bargains. I scored big today with Campbell's Chunky soup, the chunky sirloin burger kind...50 cents a can! Wow! That stuff is usually over two dollars a can! So I bought ten. Haha! I think there was one more can, but I wanted an even number. It was the healthy kind, with less fat and sodium, but I can doctor it up with plenty of salt, and throw some lard in there. I'm kidding--I try to get stuff with less salt when possible, and we put some on as needed. I save stuff like that for the winter, when we've been out and I don't have time for a "real" dinner--I serve it over rice. Aren't those little sirloin burgers just the cutest?

I get my stocking up tendencies from my Mom, obviously. I don't mind taking after my Mom in a lot of things--she's a very kind and sweet person, and that's much better than...the alternative!

One of the rare disadvantages to having a wooded property is the limbs that can come down in a storm. After yesterday's intense thunderstorm (we got over two and a half inches of rain in our area, more in neighboring areas), we had lots of small branches and a couple of big ones down. I walked around today and picked up the small stuff, but the big problem was in the front yard. Those branches didn't look as big when viewing them from the house! One was as big around as my arm, and I was able to pick that one up and toss it into the woods, but the other was more the size of my leg, and that one wasn't budging. I was able to move it a little bit so it wasn't against one of our little pine trees, but there was no way I could pick it up.

Front yard Even worse, there's a good-sized tree that is leaning over, and will eventually fall. It's been shedding bark for some time, so I think it's been in distress for a while. The storm yesterday finally did it in. It hasn't fallen, but it's leaning over the power line that goes from the pole to our house. I called the power company, and unfortunately, they can't do anything if it's not on the line. I suppose I could have said, "Oh look! It just moved and is on the line!" but that would be dishonest, wouldn't it? Bummer. Ken will have to take a look at it when he gets home. Maybe he can saw off the smaller branches at the top so it won't take out the line if it falls further, at least until he can get to the main part of it.

I'd much rather have a place out in the country with trees, though, than a place in town or in a subdivision. I don't like neighbors being too close, and I love being hidden back here (the foliage is especially thick in the summer). When we started looking for a house a few months after we got married, we agreed immediately that we wanted something away from town and not in a subdivision. We've both done the subdivision life, and didn't want to go back to that. We were just talking the other day about how fortunate we were to find this place. It's been seven years, and I still feel that way every day.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Serpentine, Sheldon, serpentine!

In-laws Early this afternoon, I mentioned on Crackbook Facebook that I was going over to visit my in-laws. How could I not think of one of my all-time favorite movies, "The In-Laws"? I'm talking the original with Peter Falk and Alan Arkin, not the lame-o remake with Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks. Sometimes you just don't mess with perfection, and that remake never should have been made. If you've never seen "The In-Laws," put it on your list as a somewhat obscure cult favorite. "General, that's a hell of an act." HA! It still cracks me up!

I had a really nice visit with Ken's Mom and stepdad. We even talked about how we're similar in that neither of us are "initiators," and somewhat hermit-like. We understand each other, and that's a very good thing. She wants to take me out to lunch for my birthday, and I think that's very sweet. She loves Mexican food, so I think we'll try one that Cousin Shane recommends, Mazatlan. We talked politics, and dished a bit about a thing or two, including the week that she spent here when Ken and I got married. Ken got quite a few phone calls that week from someone, and his Mom was there to hear them. We still laugh about some of those calls. "Are you sure you want to do this?" I think that was the call the day before our wedding. Jeez, just a tad desperate? I won't speak for Ken, but I know I have no regrets!

I'm sure glad I watered all my new flowers and the garden yesterday and almost went into heat exhaustion because of it...because it freakin' poured last night and this morning, and shortly after I got home this afternoon, the skies really opened up. It was getting scary enough that I almost went down to the basement, but it slowly let up. There are a few small limbs down in the yard, and I'll get those picked up tomorrow. At least it served to take some of the humidity out of the air, and it's fairly pleasant tonight.

A more substantive post tomorrow, I promise!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The girl’s got a mouth on her

Snow White Yeah, I'm talking about myself. I admit it, and I've written about my foul mouth before.

I don't make many apologies for it. As I wrote in the linked entry, I don't go around spouting profanities, I rarely cuss in front of my parents (a rare S-word), and I never once did so in front of Ken's kids, and Ken didn't, either. Any potential or actual inclinations there can't be blamed on us.

However, with like-minded friends, I'll let it fly. Fair warning when it comes to my blog--there will be times here that I drop an F-bomb, and if you are offended by that, I won't be offended if you choose to move along and not read anymore. I feel that I generally make a fairly compelling argument on any issue without using profanity, or at least I try, but there are times when a well-placed profanity just seems to fit perfectly.

It's interesting to hear the take on profanity from other seems that we have a bit more of a hangup about a lot of words than others do. I do try to remain respectful and I accept the fact that there are a lot of people that are offended by such words, so I watch what I say in public, or around those that I think might be offended. But around here, when it's just me and Ken, or with people that I know won't be offended, I'll let it rip. Even when I'm out in the yard by myself, if I twist my ankle on a rock or a root, or if I smash a blood-filled mosquito on my person, it's likely that the first word out of my mouth will be a bad one.

On my blog, I am happy to exercise my right to free speech, and if I feel like cussing, I will do so with a smile on my face.

Well behaved women For anyone who thinks that their kids don't use such language, I'd say that they probably just don't use it around you. I won't generalize, because I'm certain that there are some kids who really don't use profanity, and more power to them. But don't be so sure and don't be so smug about thinking that your kids just don't go there. About thirty years ago, I remember sitting around the table at my parents' house with a couple of girlfriends, playing cards. The three of us were all in the top ten percent of our high school class, all in the National Honor Society, all on the college track, all known as "brains," and all perceived as "good girls." We sat at that table and let the foul words fly, and the saltiest sailor and foulest-mouthed deadbeat had nothin' on us. I'm not sure what prompted it, but we laughed like hell and had fun. It was almost a challenge to see who could come up with the worst, and if I recall correctly, I won.

Profanity is mostly harmless. It should go without saying to watch it around kids or around those that might find it offensive, and there really isn't a need for every other word to be one that might offend. Personally, I find racial or sexual epithets to be much more offensive than an occasional F-word. There are probably bigger issues at hand than worrying about a fucking profanity.

Is Hell humid? Or is it a dry heat?

Heat wave We did pretty good with getting an earlier start today. Ken got out around 11 AM to mow, and I headed out at 11:30 to plant. I got everything planted and watered except the asters, which I think I'll put in the whiskey barrels that Ken is planning on moving to a new spot. I'll see how everything does and if the new plants survive, but I think I'm probably about done with planting that flower bed. It's a nice mix of mostly whites and blues, with a little hot pink thrown in here and there, and three coreopsis for some yellow oomph. That spot gets plenty of sun, so I try to get very hardy, drought-resistant plants. And darn it, I thought I'd gotten two balloonflower plants, but one was a bellflower, which didn't survive out there last time I planted one. [drat] I planted it close by one of the daisy plants, so maybe they will shelter it a little bit from the intense sun.

After I planted, I went back to water the garden. Things are coming along, and I should be getting zucchini and tomatoes soon, and I picked a banana pepper today! (I planted late, remember.) Unfortunately, the mosquitoes attacked en masse, and I had to spray myself down real quick. They still got me in several spots, including my ear, under my eye, and in the armpit. Little bastards! I watered quickly and didn't linger.

That was a good thing, because I was also getting overheated by this point. The thermometer is reading 88° at the moment, so it was probably 85° out there at the time, which isn't all that bad. But good grief, is it ever humid! I can always tell when I need to stop, because my face gets really hot and I can tell that it's red. Sure enough, when I came in, I was very flushed. I drank some water, splashed my face with cool water, and sat under the ceiling fan for a few minutes. That helped, and then I took a cool shower, which helped even more--although my face was still really hot. I'm finally starting to cool down now. I don't know what my deal is, and it’s not like I was doing really strenuous work, but I seem to have a hard time regulating my body temperature. In the winter, I'm overly sensitive to the cold, and in the summer, I get easily overheated. Someone told me once that it's because I have very little body fat, but I can assure you, I have enough. Maybe I'm part reptile. [doing my lizard impersonation]

It got me to thinking about the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and from, here is some information.

Heat exhaustion symptoms

  • Often pale with cool, moist skin
  • Sweating profusely
  • Muscle cramps or pains
  • Feels faint or dizzy
  • May complain of headache, weakness, thirst, and nausea
  • Core (rectal) temperature elevated-usually more than 100°F-and the pulse rate increased

Heat stroke symptoms

  • Unconscious or has a markedly abnormal mental status (dizziness, confusion, hallucinations, or coma)
  • Flushed, hot, and dry skin (although it may be moist initially from previous sweating or from attempts to cool the person with water)
  • May have slightly elevated blood pressure at first that falls later
  • May be hyperventilating
  • Rectal (core) temperature of 105°F or more

For heat exhaustion, a person should go to the hospital if any of the following are present:

  • Loss of consciousness, confusion, or delirium
  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Inability to drink fluids
  • Continuous vomiting
  • Temperature more than 104°F
  • Temperature that is rising despite attempts to cool the person
  • Any person with other serious ongoing medical problems

Suspected heat stroke is a true, life-threatening medical emergency. Call for an ambulance and request information as to what to do until the ambulance arrives. A person with suspected heat stroke should always go to the hospital (or call for an ambulance) at once.

To treat mild cases of heat exhaustion:

  • Rest in a cool, shaded area
  • Give cool fluids such as water or sports drinks (that will replace the salt that has been lost). Salty snacks are appropriate as tolerated
  • Loosen or remove clothing
  • Apply cool water to skin
  • Do not use an alcohol rub
  • Do not give any beverages containing alcohol or caffeine

Heat stroke (do not attempt to treat a case of heat stroke at home, but you can help while waiting for medical assistance to arrive.)

  • Call 911 immediately
  • Move the person to a cooler environment, or place him or her in a cool bath of water (as long as he or she is conscious and can be attended continuously)
  • Alternatively, moisten the skin with lukewarm water and use a fan to blow cool air across the skin
  • Give cool beverages by mouth only if the person has a normal mental state and can tolerate it

This has been a public service announcement from Nutwood Junction. Everyone take it easy and stay safe! And always, ALWAYS, stay cool!