Just a note for all of you who are wondering - I am alive and well. I decided it was time to decorate the place for Christmas, since we're not decorating around the condo (between going out of town and... well, not wanting to tempt the cats with new chew toys). This design was from last Christmas, but I'm still digging it.
I'm spending a lot of time these days on PaperBackSwap.com, especially in the games forum. There are some great folks in that book club - so generous with their books, their money and their concern. One of the members lives in Kentucky and her house was destroyed by one of those tornadoes several weeks ago. The outpouring of support for her and her family was astounding and heartwarming. If you're a book lover, please do drop by the site and consider joining. They've added some new features and have a large community of wonderful, caring folks with a huge selection of books. If you join, use me as a referral (songstress7), OK?
Otherwise, I'm reading a lot of books - we visited Hubby-head's mom for Thanksgiving, and as usual she blessed me with a couple of bags of paperbacks. Between her book selection and the stack of books I've ordered from PaperBackSwap, I have about 50 books on my "to be read" pile. There will be more soon - I'm in 2 "white elephant" type exchange games and participating in 3 book boxes that will be mailed around.
I haven't been reading a lot of blogs lately - still in a down phase for that hobby, but I try to drop in every now and then to my favorites on the blogroll. It doesn't help that the internet access I have at work is filtered and blocks pretty much all weblogs as part of the "message boards and personals" category. Sigh. Not that I'd spend all day reading blogs, but I used to be able to check in via bloglines on my lunch break.
Otherwise, more of the usual around here. I've been watching the Apprentice but haven't been as interested as in previous seasons. I've found some good recipes but haven't remembered to post them and enter in the Carnival of Recipes. I'm finding politics annoying at best and more often than not infuriating so I'm trying to avoid thinking about it for the time being. Life is speeding by and I can't believe it's already nearly halfway through December. How did this happen?
First off, apologies to those who have been wondering where I am. I'm here, just not feeling very bloggy. I haven't even been reading blogs for the last several days because I just haven't felt like it.
For those who have been following the Blogger Fit Club competition, I have been weighing myself weekly, I just haven't posted in a couple of weeks because I keep forgetting. Last week and this week were the same - 210 pounds. Hubby has also been stable; not losing, but not gaining either. We haven't been working out - mostly because we are night people and just haven't forced ourselves to go to bed early enough to make getting up before 5:00 AM remotely possible, much less palatable. Once I get out of the habit it is sooooo hard to get back into it. And early mornings are the only time that will work reasonably well for us, schedule-wise. Sigh.
Work is rolling right along, busy and at times chaotic. I am starting to feel very burned out, and was really looking forward to taking a full week off for Thanksgiving but my supervisor nixed that idea last week. I will be able to take an extra day off beyond the two holiday days we get for Thanksgiving, which will let us be on the road early Wednesday to visit mom-in-law in LA instead of having to drive at night on packed freeways, or roll out early on the morning of Thanksgiving to be there by lunchtime. My next scheduled vacation after that is for Christmas to fly out and see my mom in Illinois - that will be a nice long break, and I'm sure the boss would have cut that too if I hadn't already bought non-refundable airline tickets. My determination to get our finances squared away and quit working full-time grows on a daily basis. Right now I'm shooting for March 31st. If that doesn't work, June 30th is my backup date. One has to have goals, after all.
Something I've had on my mind for a couple of weeks, but kept forgetting to write about... A few weeks ago, Conan O'Brien had U2 as his guest on Late Night for the entire show - musical guest as well as interviews. Hubby and I taped the episode, because even as night people we can't usually stay up on weeknights to watch Conan. Yes, I said "taped". We are among the stone age people who do not yet have a DVR. We don't watch enough TV and don't care about enough programs to make it worth the expense. Anyway we watched the tape a week or so later, and were very impressed. We have both been huge U2 fans for years and years anyway, but this appearance was so very cool. A lot of people criticize Bono for being a "pretentious" rock star activist type. I didn't get pretentious from him at all. He came across as passionate, earnest, and non-critical. I love the fact that he refuses to bash President Bush or the United States in general for not doing everything some people think we should be doing for the rest of the world. He acclaims every little step as progress and acknowledges generosity wherever he sees it. He refuses to play politics with his campaign against poverty - he will meet with anyone of any political stripe who is willing to listen and help, including Senator Jesse Helms. He is well-spoken and thoughtful. And he makes darn good music.
Shortly after I started this blog, one of the bloggers I read was trying to help a blogger friend of hers to start a meme. It never really got off the ground as far as I could tell, but I thought it was a great idea. The premise was that you were going to have a dinner party and only 12 people could attend, yourself included... only one person could be someone you actually know, and all participants had to be alive today. Who would you invite and why? One of my picks was Bono. If I made my selections all over again today, he'd still be on the list. Go read my original post, and tell me - who would you choose?
Hubby and I have found ourselves, while flipping the channels some evenings, stopping on VH1's reality series "Celebrity Fit Club 2". Last night we saw the finale episode, where we found out how much weight all the celebrities lost in their 100-day encounter with diet, exercise, and a drill sergeant named Harvey.
The most was Phil, of some show or another that I've never watched, who dropped 41 pounds off his extra-beefy frame. Jacquee Harry lost 30-something. Gary Busey is looking pretty good, if still a bit deranged. What amazed me is how differently those women carry their extra weight than I do. Mine is mostly packed densely on my rear, hips and thighs. My waist is comparatively small, and let's not even discuss my lack of cleavage. It's hard to tell how much I weigh by looking at me.
F'rinstance, last time I weighed myself at the doctor's office, I weighed more than Wendy the Snapple Lady's final weigh-in. Hubby stared at me in astonishment when I mentioned this. No way do I look heavier than she does. Sissy, you've seen me in person - tell 'em!
Anyway, I made this comment to Hubby-head that most of them lost 30-some-odd pounds in 100 days - whereas I, in 9 weeks (63 days), lost 26 pounds last year and that was without any exercise whatsoever. I could kick most of their butts, I boasted. Now that I'm feeling 100% again (without having the IVP, or any further diagnosis), we're going to be heading back to the gym. And I'm making a concentrated effort to start abiding by the principles we learned in Weigh Down again (without hearing Gwen Shamblin and her excruciating drawl if I can help it). I wonder how much I could lose in 100 days, especially if I'm posting a weekly weigh-in to hold myself accountable?
And the prizes on that show! Most of these celebrities are obnoxiously wealthy (or at least extreeeeemely comfortable). The reward for the winning team? Cold hard cash - $10,000 for each member I think - plus diamond encrusted watches, two fabulous resort vacations, and then some.
We should have a "Blogger Fit Club", with weekly weigh-ins (on the honor system). But without the drill sergeant. Maybe someone will offer up a fabulous prize for the winner (like a blog ad or something).
Any other ideas? Anyone want to volunteer? Of course, 100 days from Monday would be December 20, so we'd have Halloween (the candy holiday) and Thanksgiving (the gluttony holiday) in there... Only those with true willpower would succeed! Ha!
It's like an insipid movie franchise that won't die: I Feel Like the Poop Episode III - Revenge of the Morning People. Yet again, I was compelled to be at work early (5:00 today) to attend a subcontractor meeting. And yet again, I did not even begin to get sleepy last night until something approaching 11:30. I was also engrossed in a book and close to the end, so it was closer to 12:30 when I finally turned out the light and tried to turn off my brain. Yes, I'm running on 3-1/2 hours of sleep. Caffeine is my friend today.
Oh, and as usual when this happens, I have hard hat hair. At least I was going for the "curly" look today, and the humidity that destroyed my original hairstyle made my bangs sort of curly instead of flat and crimped.
What I'm reading - in case you were curious: Terry Brooks' Heritage of Shannara series. I just finished up Book Two. I'd read the original Shannara series, but hadn't picked up any of the more recent books. Enjoying them. Sometimes the public library is a beautiful thing.
Jumping from a beautiful thing to a horrifying thing, have you seen Celebrity Fit Club 2 on VH1? Gah. We have flipped past it a couple of times and stopped to watch it, much like a nasty car accident on the highway. OK, I know the camera supposedly adds 10 pounds and all, but I weigh more than some of those women and I fervently hope that I don't look that fat.
Ugh. Let's think of something more pleasant, shall we?
What could be more pleasant than getting to meet nice people? Hubby and I had the opportunity on Saturday night to have dinner with Sissy. Now there's a sweetie. We had a lovely time - a bit limited due to her short stay and plans with her family, but what can you expect with a schedule like hers? Oy! I'm sure we talked her ear off... I'd intended to ask more questions and listen more, but sometimes I get started telling stories and one thing leads to another, and... Yeah. But apparently she didn't mind too much - her take on the encounter is here. *grin*
I did get to hear a few tidbits of what it's like to meet other members of the Bad Example Family. Someday I'm going to have to be the obnoxious neighbor (which I suppose is a little less disturbing than being the BE Family Stalker) and invite myself to a blogmeet - of course, being in Phoenix, it'll be a bit of a hassle to get there, but who knows, we could make it work.
You know, I'd be excited that I've been here for 7-1/2 hours at this point, but I have to stay until at least 3:00 today for an afternoon meeting anyway, so the day's not going to be over as early as I would have liked.
Is it naptime yet?
I called this "everything that's on my mind", but that's not quite the truth. I have to save some of the things that are on my mind right now for tomorrow's "Tuesday's Top 10" list.
I'll give you a hint. It involves chocolate.
Oooh, chocolate. That sounds like it'll perk me up for a few. I know one of the contractor-types in this office has a good-sized candy jar on the desk.
I wonder how many Reese's miniatures it would take to keep me awake until 3:00?
In my ramble yesterday, I completely forgot to mention that Hubby-head and I went to see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy last weekend. Very enjoyable. Non-fans of the book may be a bit lost and confused, and you pretty much have to have an odd sense of humor to be a fan of the book in the first place... A word of warning for those who haven't seen it - early in the movie and over the closing credits there is a song that will get thoroughly stuck in your head. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Tonight Hubby and I plan to join our friend Judy for the First Fridays Art Walk in downtown Phoenix. This is a cool little deal that Phoenix does the first Friday of every month, with free shuttle buses that run between dozens of downtown art venues. We went - scratch that, we TRIED to go - last month, and only managed to make it to three or four venues at one shuttle stop before the last bus run. That was because we decided to have dinner first... a very long story. I was going to post about it last month, but I was at a bit of a loss as to how to write it. Then I was going to frame my post around the photos I took, but there weren't that many, and I got busy and just plain forgot. We'll see if I can take more pictures tonight and post about it this time.
Sunday is Mother's Day. If you haven't bought your mother a sappy card or some flowers or something nice, you'd better get after it. Consider this my Public Service Announcement of the day.
Sunday is also my brother-in-law and sister-in-law/best friend's anniversary. They've been married for ELEVEN YEARS. Lordy, how time flies. Cherry is a guest-author here but hasn't posted in quite a while (check the Quotable category for her contributions). Bro-in-law Josh has actually started a blog, mostly for posting photos and updates for family. If I post a link to him, perhaps some of my readers will drop by and start harassing him. Hey, that sounds fun. Should I?
So yeah, Trump fired Craig last night - good move. Between Tana and Kendra, Hubby-head and I are leaning toward predicting a Kendra win, but I think both of them have a lot of strengths and either could pull it off, depending on how their final tasks go. And sheesh, did Trump and/or Mark Burnett go through the original teams and pull the most difficult and unpredictable personalities to assign to the final two or what? On one hand, Kendra has to deal with Danny (and imagine that, he started SINGING during a meeting with the client), Michael and Erin: The Useless Squad. Then again, Tana has Kristen (my boyfriend is a director so I am the best person to make a sucky commercial), Brian (we can't afford to replace the disgusting carpet in our motel rooms because I think all new toilets would be a reasonable expense) and Chris. Chris has some level of competency, if not emotional stability. Next week's finale should be most interesting.
Ugh, I need to go to a chiropractor. I've had two cases of whiplash - one about 8 years ago, and the other about 6 years ago. I had chiropractic treatment for about 3 months after each of them, and did pretty well with it after the first one... but since the second accident, every couple-few weeks my back or neck gets out of whack and causes headaches. Today, the middle of my back is tweaked, making my right arm tingle just a bit. Every time I turn my head I can feel my spine protest. The chiropractor I went to last has gone out of business, so now I get the fun of finding a new one that's covered on my insurance. If I look one up on the web and there's nothing there at all, should I find that a good sign or a bad sign? How about if there's a bunch of shameless self-promotional material?
Still planning to do a big ol' blogroll roundup post and some other bloggy stuff, probably tomorrow since there's very little that I absolutely have to get done tomorrow. We're also threatening to do a Lord of the Rings movie marathon with my big brother tomorrow, since we have all3films on extended edition DVD and my brother has only seen the first one.
*conspiratorial whisper* Shhh... I started writing this while my project manager was in a meeting and I had nothing to do... Gonna try e-mailing this post to my blog via Typepad's moblogging feature. Relevant links will be added and any required formatting changes or corrections done later when I can log in from home. Ciao for now, faithful readers!
UPDATE: Well, that didn't work... so I'm posting from the public li-berry after work while waiting for Judy. Hee.
I suppose you're wondering where I've been... Sometimes I wonder the same thing, actually. I'm here, just quiet.
If you're curious about the job situation, I'm still here also. The project I'd been working on for the last 3+ years has finished, or at least our involvement in it has ended, and I've been assigned full-time to another job. There are up sides and down sides to the new assignment.
On the down side, primarily it's that there is nobody else here to do the clerical work, so I get stuck with the "here, transmit this" and "here, copy that"... Thankfully there is very little filing space and the client has a good usable electronic document filing system, so when someone says "here, this needs to be filed" it usually means it goes in the stack of stuff to send in for scanning, but there are some things we keep on hand for quick reference.
On the up side, being full-time at a job site gets me out of the office politics, which just got more difficult to ignore a couple of weeks ago. This assignment also puts me back in downtown Phoenix, which makes me a happy camper. I worked for the City of Phoenix at the convention center for 4-1/2 years before I left to start work for my company. Most of the old gang is still there, and so every few days I run across someone I know. In fact, the other day I ran into Former CoWorkerA (you know, the one who quit with no notice last year). It was very strange. Going out for lunch is an adventure, you never know who you're going to see. Or whether you're going to be approached by raving lunatics, for that matter. (Steph, if you're still working downtown, we should do lunch!)
I can't decide whether this is a good thing or a not-so-good thing - our computer system is provided by the client, who has stripped off the games that come with Windows and has locked down access to several categories of websites... So I can't blog from work, I can't read my Bloglines subscriptions, and I can't take a solitaire break. I suppose that means I'm more productive during work hours, although there are some times when I run out of work and my project manager is in a meeting so I can't check with her to get another pile of assignments. I can e-mail myself text files to post on the blog from home... And I usually just check out the latest news on azcentral.com and Yahoo when I need a break. I've also been surfing the websites on the Fractal Artist's Ring and changing my wallpaper every few days. Heh.
Anyway, my blogging, blog-reading and commenting are limited to my home hours, which is also when I have to do dishes, laundry, eat dinner, and everything else that is not work-related. I'm also busy with church activities, especially this week, so posting and commenting has been even more limited.
Let's see... what else... So how 'bout them Suns, eh? We swept the Grizzlies in round 1, way to go fellas. My Diamondbacks are 1/2 game out of first place in the NL West - also very cool. It's early yet, but so far the season is shaping up to be muuuuuuch better than last year. Our pitching has improved more than I'd expected, frankly. I still miss Randy Johnson, but as evidenced by the Yankees' record so far, he alone cannot carry a team. Hubby-head is just about ready to take back all the criticism of Joe Garagiola Junior, but I'm reserving judgment a bit longer. He's got a long way to go to make up for some of his previous trades. Can we say Albie Lopez?
I'm still watching The Apprentice, I just haven't been writing about it. TNT is probably happy to see that Tana is still in the mix - although she made some mistakes last week, and has been pulling some attitude lately, she's definitely worthy of being in the final two. I think she and Kendra will fight it out. Craig has been really obnoxious lately, and I think his team has been winning in spite of him most of the time these last few tasks. Probably because of Kendra. Can't wait to see what Trump does with them tonight. Oh, yeah. Tonight we're supposed to be going to National Day of Prayer, but it's been such a long and exhausting week, I'm thinking a night in would be good for a change. Dinner at home, a little TV, and bed by 10. Sounds fabulous.
On the blog front, I've got a blogroll roundup coming... and then if I can get the graphic design juices flowing, a special surprise. No, I won't give you a hint. Except the "graphic design" part. But it's not what you think. OK, part of it is what you think. But there's more. Really. Oooh, I just got a fabulous idea. You're going to dig it.
Last night's episode was very interesting - good chunks of it were shown through the eyes of a 35-year-old woman who had suffered a stroke. Her mind was clear and her personality was shining through in her internal monologue, but she was unable to communicate with the doctors and she could not move the right side of her body. It was simply captivating - the voice of someone who was trying to speak but could not.
Ellie, played very capably by Cynthia Nixon, collapsed after ushering her children off to their after-school activities. Next thing she knew, she was in the ambulance and arriving at the ER, where she was horrified to realize that she was unable to speak aloud, unable to write, and unable to feel the right side of her body. The doctors discovered that she had no hemmorhage, but a blood clot was blocking one of the major vessels in her brain. When her husband arrived, he was presented with a very difficult choice: allow Ellie to remain in this condition indefinitely, with the unlikely chance that strenuous therapy may help partially rehabilitate her, or opt for a risky surgical treatment that could remove the blood clot, but if it failed could worsen her condition or even result in death. (I don't know how medically realistic this premise was, but in this instance removing the blood clot would reverse the effects of the stroke and she would regain her speech and the use of her right side.)
You could hear Ellie's voice inside her head as she overheard this conversation, crying out to her husband to allow her the surgery. She was willing to take the risk associated with the treatment - even if it meant death - instead of living indefinitely in an incapacitated state. Her husband's choice was agonizing, but he eventually agreed to the surgery, and everything turned out well for Ellie.
Michael Schiavo would have you think that his wife Terri, like Ellie, would rather die than live indefinitely as incapacitated - an assertion that was only raised after he received a substantial malpractice award to be used for her care, and one that he cannot prove. In fact, he would have you think that Terri is basically brain-dead, a vegetable, unable to communicate and interact with her environment.
See for yourself how incapacitated Terri is. Her nurses report that she struggles to speak. She is aware of her surroundings, she interacts with those around her. Her personality shines through - we cannot hear the voice inside her head, but she is clearly still in there. She has a chance, with the proper medical treatment and therapy, to regain the ability to communicate and to swallow for herself. Unlike Ellie's husband on ER, however, Terri's husband refuses to allow her the treatment she needs.
In the extended entry - a list of bloggers over 100 strong who are committed to this fight. There are four days left before Michael Schiavo intends to remove Terri's feeding tube. The time to act is now.
I am apparently one of the few folks out there (aside from the Television Without Pity reviewer who gets paid to recap it) who is still watching ER. Or at least, one of the few who admits to it. The quality of the show has gone downhill in recent years, true... But there are bright spots (like Parminder Nagra's acting), and there are occasionally good episodes with a minimum of things to nitpick. This week's episode was not one of them.
This week, Kerry finally meets her biological mother, who turns out to be a born-again Christian. You could see it coming wayyyyy out here - Kerry eventually admits she's a lesbian, and IntolerantFundieMom rejects her. Well... strange to say, I expected it to be portrayed worse than it was, but the picture that's left with the viewer - that's intended to be left with the viewer - is that most Christians are weak, closed-minded, intolerant, homophobic idiots.
Kerry's biological mother, Helen, is portrayed as a nice, sweet, simple, small-town woman raised in a God-fearing home in a less "enlightened" time. She found herself pregnant by her then-boyfriend at age 14, and was sent away to a home for wayward girls in another state to have the baby, and gave the infant up for adoption without even seeing her, in order to allow the child to have a better life than she would have been able to provide. Although abortion was apparently legal when this happened (which would make Kerry several years younger than I thought she was supposed to be), Helen would never have considered it. My one complaint about how they portrayed Helen has to do with her faith - as a crutch. She is played as a simple woman who has gone through some hard times, and turned to God and the Church to get her through it. She wouldn't think of questioning her faith - not because she knows that she knows that she knows who God is, and she believes the Truth, but because her faith has helped her get by during those hard times.
Nonetheless, I would have enjoyed this part of the story, but I knew what was coming. I knew there had to be a confrontation about Kerry's homosexuality. Kerry showed Helen a picture of herself, Sandy and baby Henry, and Helen made the logical assumption (given that Kerry only referred to "her son") that Sandy was her nanny. Yes, lesbians are more visible in society than they used to be, and lesbian couples parenting is less unheard-of, but homosexuals are still a very small percentage of the population, and why on earth would Helen be expected to assume Kerry is gay without being told? It's not like Kerry is all "butch" and you can pick up on the gay vibe the first time you meet her.
What bugs me about this storyline is that Kerry is portrayed as sort of victimized by (in general) Christianity's and society's perceptions of her - and her mother's in particular. Kerry has to go into the women's restroom and cry a little bit, work up her courage, and then go face her mother and boldly proclaim her homosexuality. She has apparently done something brave and wonderful, she has overcome. This turns into a preachy segment where Helen is obviously disturbed by the revelation and espouses the stereotypical Christian reaction of "homosexuality is a choice, it's a sin, etc." I've posted my thoughts on homosexuality previously, you can look it up if you wish. I'm not getting into that here... Kerry's response is to challenge Helen's faith - and her Faith - by claiming that God made her gay and how can she (and Christians in general) believe that she can be separated from God because of the people that she loves. She even quotes a scripture that Helen used earlier in the conversation to try to make her point. It was, in short, frustrating to watch that as a Christian and know that Hollywood is further entrenching the stereotypes and driving a deeper wedge between Christians and homosexuals, who already feel rejected by the Church.