Thursday, February 28, 2008


I'm tired, and grumpy (due in no small part to M's flights being jacked up and therefore him not returning home this evening as planned) and was starting to write a pathetic "poor me" diatribe here when I decided that not only was it shitty to write that, it would be even more shitty to make you all read it.

So, I'm stopping the shit. Right here. Right now. No more shit. It's henceforth a shit-free blog.

Wow. It's amazing what typing that out can do to your mindset. I'm instantly not as grumpy as I was.




Yeah, I'm runnin' out of things to type. At least tonight.

I got a massage today...that was nice. Except for the painful parts, because my therapist is desperately trying to fix two of my body parts: my left leg which was gimpy for over 7 weeks, and my neck/shoulders, which is where I carry all my tension.

I wish I could get a massage every week, but there isn't enough other stuff like the landline phone that I could cut that would make up that much money.

I suppose I'll get cracking on my accounting homework, which is blessedly the last freakin' assignment of this class. Wahoo. Right now I'm on Chapter 12, which is Managerial Accounting and Cost-Volume-Profit Relationships. Not exactly what I'd call the most interesting topic in the world, but something I apparently must learn to earn an MBA.

M and I had this discussion the other day:

A: This (accounting) sucks.
M: Yeah, well, there is a lot of math in an MBA.
A: Really? Then maybe I don't need one.
M: Oh yeah? Well, what are you going to get then?
A: Masters in Photography.
M: Really. (sarcasm dripping heavily)
A: Yes, then I'll go on to get my PhD.
M: In photography.
A: Yeah.
M: Good luck with that.

I remember seeing a degree option at Mizzou that was a Bachelors of Something or Other, Arts maybe, but the emphasis was "library studies." That intrigued me. I'm sure I'm just naive or something, but it seems to me that there isn't a whole, whole lot that goes into earning a library studies degree.

I suppose the first course is alphabetization (LIB 101: Alphabetical Assessment and Organizational Tactics?), and the second would cover maybe the Dewey Decimal System. You don't really have to learn how to type on the little cards for the card catalog anymore, but I guess you'd have to get familiar with a digital card catalog. Seems to me there's prolly software that handles most of that for you, though.

Maybe a semester on driving the book return cart safely and another one on shushing. A course on conflict resolution would be handy for those times one has to deal with habitual overdue book offenders (of which, I confess, I am one). I'm sure they also cover the horrific side of the job, too, like finding dog-eared pages and books that have been desecrated by handwriting. There's probably a psych component to deal with the stress.

Well, now I'm just being catty.

See what happens when I try to blog whilst grouchy, and not let my pissy attitude show through? Comes right out anyway, and I offend all the librarians in the world. Which is a shame, really, as I adore libraries and librarians (most of them, anyway, not the sourpuss shushy kind).

I'm gonna call it a night. Cost-Volume-Profit Relationships await.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

M = Meatloaf Maker

Grammy and Papa came for dinner last night, and were treated to some playtime in the library, dumping of clothes down the laundry chute, and the story of Corduroy.

They were also treated to some of M's delicious Meatloaf.

M really, really likes to stock the fridge before he goes out of town. He thinks that I can't cook or something. It's not that I can't cook, it's that I don't really like to cook. I'm happy with noodle and jar sauce most nights of the week, and am thrilled to find an excuse to order pizza. Steffi brought Chinese carry-out a couple weeks ago when M was gone...heaven! I don't mind nuking or popping something in the toaster oven, but if it involves any sort of pre-heating, more than one big plastic spoon, or multiple pots, count me out. I'd rather work on my accounting homework than cook. That should tell you something.

M knows this, and, being a good husband and father, worries about the nutritional intake of both his wife and his daughter. Before he goes out of town he typically goes on a cooking bender. That means every night for the week before he leaves, he makes all our meals two to three times larger than normal so I'll have healthy leftovers to get us by while he's gone. By the time he leaves, the fridge is packed with food, none of which I typically want to eat since, well, I just ate it. I'm also just not that into leftovers. Unless they're from a restaurant. I like those.

I used to sorta ignore his fridge-stocking antics, and then roll my eyes while listening to him spout off when he got home. "Did you eat any of this? What did you eat? Why did I make all this food if you weren't going to eat it?" I'd answer, "I don't know, you tell me!" Then I'd get a mini-lecture on eating right and not wasting food and blah blah blah. Then he'd go out of town again and I'd ignore the four baked chicken breasts in the fridge and eat noodles every night. I've even been known to make new noodles when there are leftover noodles in the fridge. Hmmm, fresh noodles versus rubbery left-over noodles...which would you choose?

Now that we have a child, though, I do feel mildly responsible for making sure she eats nutritious, wholesome food. Not Kraft Chicken Noodle Dinner every night (which personally I'd be happy to do). So we eat Daddy's leftovers most nights, and find an excuse to eat with either the grandparents or friends or someone else (anyone else!) the rest of the nights.

This week, though, M outdid himself. On Sunday he said, "I'm thinking about making meatloaf." I loves me some meatloaf, and we hadn't had it in awhile, so I was more than agreeable. He made his usual comment, "I'll make extra, so you'll have some to eat when I'm gone." Okay. Great. Thanks.

Little did I know, the boy made us a Four-Pound Meatloaf. A meatloaf of that size deserves capital letters, don't you think?

Now, I'm not sure how much he thinks Zozo and I eat on a nightly basis, but I can tell you that there's no way we're gonna eat a Four-Pound Meatloaf in a week. 1.) I don't think anyone should consume that much ground beef that many days in a row and 2.) while I loves me some meatloaf, I don't loves it eighteen days running.

So we called in the artillery last night; Grammy and Papa helped us put a pretty big dent in The Giant Meatloaf. It was very good Meatloaf, too, and stout, as Papa called it. Yes, of course it's thick. If M made it, it can withstand a tsunami, F4 tornado, hurricane-force winds, and a tremor of about 7 on the Richter scale. Probably all at once.

Anyway, although we put a hurtin' on The Meatloaf, we still have some left. Of course we do. There were four freakin' pounds to start. Zo and I have now each had two dinners and a lunch from it, and M, Grammy and Papa each had one dinner. And there is still. Some. Left.

Even the word "meatloaf" is sounding bad to me now. A loaf of what? Meat. Not real appetizing anymore, is it?

I think I'm going to make some noodles tonight for dinner. Noodles with a topping of delectable jar sauce. Side of yogurt. Some fresh fruit. Maybe a hard-boiled egg. Anything, really, but Meatloaf. If any of ya'all want some Meatloaf, I think I've got about a quarter pound left in there. It no longer takes a forklift to get it from the fridge, so transportation should be relatively easy.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Just another reason to be addicted to the BlackBerry

I called AT&T this morning and, after only 40 minutes and 34 seconds, succeeded in turning off the landline at our house. Actually it'll be off by 6 p.m. tonight, but since we haven't used it in a long time and have already disconnected all our phones and stored them (and by "storage" I mean shoving them in a plastic Target bag and throwing them downstairs), I consider it off effective now.

We lose internet access tomorrow (by 6), and will be marooned with no method of communication save our CrackBerries until next Monday, when internet access promises to be restored (and faster, no less!).

I am very excited about this, as my household budget just increased by 40 bucks a month (more mochas!) and it's one less thing we have to answer/check (caller ID, answering machine). Even though we haven't had the answering machine hooked up in weeks, I still find myself looking at that section of the counter every time I come home. Old habits are hard to break, I suppose. My kitchen counter looks even cleaner now, which gives me a little charge every time I see it (it's the small things). Nightstands have extra space, and there is one fewer cord in the library.

M has taken to carrying his cell clipped to the band of his sweatpants while we're at home. (We are both dorks, but he is my king.) I prefer the more casual approach of carrying the cell phone into the room I know I'll be for awhile (i.e. the dining room when studying, or the library while playing with Zozer), and other than that (like, while I'm cleaning the house) leaving it sit on the kitchen counter. There have been a few times I've had to go running for it, but I'm cultivating the mindset that I am indeed not a slave to the telephone, and that it's okay to let it go to voicemail. Returning calls when I'm less busy (like, mid-2010) is a suitable alternative to accepting every single call as it comes in. It's that whole "I'm in control of how I spend my time, versus relying on the whims of those who wish to chat with me" concept.

Not that I don't like to chat. I'm a chatter. I can chat with the best of 'em. I just no longer have a lifestyle conducive to chatting. I am pretty darn scheduled from about 5:45 a.m. to midnight or 1 a.m. every day. Not a whole lot of time in there for "Cold enough for ya?" conversations. I am in danger of becoming an automaton on the phone. "Hello. State your business." Actually, I could shave off a nanosecond by dropping the "Hello." Come to think of it, being a fan of pith, I should just answer, "What?" M used to answer his phone at work, "Yeah." I'm thinking he was on to something.

I don't want to be rude, though.

Anyway, if you want to reach us, call us on the cells. If you don't have our cells, send us an e-mail (although for the next week I'll get them only during business hours). If you don't have our e-mails, call/e-mail someone else we both know. If you still can't reach us, then we probably don't have time to talk to you anyway. Yeah. What?

Sunday, February 24, 2008


In my continuing quest to avoid any news pertaining to Britney, I frequently visit my regular favorite photo sites. One of these is, and I've become a fan of the News in Photography section. I clicked there tonight, and found that one of my fellow photo.netters had posted a link to this "news" story: Paparazzi admit pursuit of Britney has gone too far.

OMG. It's invading my beloved Is no place sacred?!

Thoroughly disgusted, I pulled up the site for our local art musuem, which I firmly believe really is sacred, and am fairly sure that Britney will never invade. Art as refuge takes on a whole new meaning, doesn't it? Anyway, I check every so often to see if they have any photography exhibits currently running. Don't get me wrong, I love all the art there (yes, M, even Spectrum II), but I do make a special effort to go see photography exhibits whenever they bring them in (which is few and far in between, in my book).

I found they do have a current photography exhibit running...yay!

And then, I read about it. And saw one of the images from it.

Let's just post a couple of the description lines here, shall we?

For Untitled, 2004 (1278 Antwerpen), Breuer renders stacked shipping containers as sculptural assemblages that are monumental yet unintentional and fleeting. Their crude physicality is tempered by the delicate planes of color that are arranged against a milky white sky.

I think this is marketing-speak for, "This guy's work is incredibly boring and doesn't really say much of anything, because it's showing freight containers in a shipping yard for Pete's sake, but I gotta say something so I can, you know, earn a paycheck."

Really, the image shown is literally a snapshot of a stack of shipping containers. The sky is blown out (hench a "milky white sky") and the paint is, well, standard shipping container paint (not to be confused with "delicate planes of color").

And don't get me started again on the idiocy of naming your work "Untitled." That's just laziness.

Shipping containers, though. Where do people get this stuff?

I continued reading:

He...has recently shifted his attention to aspects of the American landscape. He focuses on the ubiquitous utility poles that link the country together and bear witness to the ever-increasing demands for energy and data.

Really? The guy takes pictures of telephone poles and that's art?

It makes me wonder...what in the hell, exactly, am I doing?

M requested I call his father and let him know of the exhibit, which I declined as I made the mistake once of taking both of them to the art museum. Together. At the same time. I will never, ever do that again. Let's just say that they had more fun there than two monkeys in a barrel, and brought about the same maturity level to the outing. It got to the point where security guards were eyeing us suspiciously, and even, at one point, following us around.

So, while it's fine for me to critically disparage "art," it's not fine for them to get their yuks around it. Maybe it's because I know a little something about art and have developed an appreciation for it, whereas their idea of art is a fine equation or anything drawn with a t-square. Or, in M's case, anything that depicts grand vistas with weary travellers in the foreground. Anyway, I now know to not take them to the art museum together, and surely not to see photographic images of shipping containers and telephone poles.

You want to see them laugh sometime? Ask them, together, about going to the art museum. M will throw back his head and laugh and laugh, and my FIL will laugh so hard he'll turn red and have to remove his glasses to wipe the tears from his eyes.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hurricanes vs. Highlights

Having had the benefit of working for the American Red Cross for a number of years, I pride myself in knowing what constitutes a real disaster. What is a true emergency. What really calls for forceful language and can cause emotions to run high.

So, at my current job, it amazes me to see what other people consider an emergency.

One of the benefits of my current job is that when a tornado rips through Oklahoma, my life doesn't really change all that much. I watch the after-effects on the evening news (or I did, back when I had time to actually watch TV) and perhaps make a contribution. Then I go to bed, get up at the same time the next day, and go to work. While my job changes and evolves constantly (one of the perks of working for a relatively small company), it's not carried by the winds of disaster, natural or man-made.

I consider it a gift that I have my Red Cross background to keep things in perspective at my current job. There really aren't too many true disasters at a day spa.

We have a few clients, however, who beg to differ.

We closed the spas early yesterday due to the inclement weather. With ice and sleet raining down on the region and no end in sight, we determined that, for the safety of our clients and our employees, it was in our best interest to close early. This decision is not made lightly, as our revenues are obviously negatively impacted.

When we close the spa early, we have to do things like call the few clients remaining on the book (the sane ones have already called us and rescheduled) and ask them to reschedule.

Enter Disaster Client #1.

"What do you mean I can't come in for my massage at 8 p.m.? My children are coming home this weekend in this am I supposed to not worry about them and relax without a massage?"

An acknowledgement of the bad weather, and the dangers of travelling in it, along with the certainty that we as a spa should have utter disregard for our employees' safety so that she can have her freakin' massage.

Then, last night, an e-mail popped on my CrackBerry. I get all the spa's general e-mails off the web site, so it's not uncommon to get them at odd hours. Clients having questions about purchasing a gift certificate, or about certain services, that sort of thing. I forward them to the appropriate person for response and all is good. The e-mail I got last night was not good. It was from Disaster Client #2.

The subject was this (no, I am not making this up):
Anne OC NOT HAPPY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Uh oh.

I opened the e-mail and read this:
I called at 7:45pm Thurs night, Feb 20 and have been on hold for 18 minutes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am trying to get an appt for Friday for partial hair color. What is going on???????????????????????????????

Then she signed her name, which I will not do here because it'd be my luck that this woman is so self-absorbed she Googles herself every day and she'd find it and I'd get in trouble for posting disparaging comments about a client on my personal blog.

Anyway, I forwarded her e-mail along to the correct person for response, thanking my lucky stars it wasn't me who had to respond. Because the woman probably wouldn't have liked what I had to say.

What is wrong with people that, in the middle of an ice storm, they can't understand that a business might close early for safety reasons? I am blown away by this convoluted idea of what is really important in life.

As my sister once wisely told me, you can't fix stupid.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Can you hear me meow?

Funny story about M:

M left work today shortly before noon, to come work from home since the weather was awful and predicted to get worse. He's set to work from home as he's got his laptop and his cell phone, and he can dial into the system at work and it's just like being there except he doesn't have his buddies to get coffee with and put the decorative Christmas elves outside the employee cafeteria in compromising positions. He has fun there; I can understand why he makes such an effort to go in even when the weather is bad.

Anyway, so home he came today. He was on a conference call after lunch with about five other people, including his boss from RI and one of his fellow cube-farmers from here. For ease, he had placed the cell phone on speaker and was participating in the conversation with the phone resting on the dining room table.

This is when Tachikara decided to inject herself into the conference call.

Apparently she wandered up to M and started meowing. Rather loudly. Not so loudly that M bothered to do anything about it. As he tells it later, "I thought they couldn't hear her."

Well, apparently they could, because eventually one of the RI participants asked the entire conference, "Is that a cat? Am I hearing a cat somewhere?"

M said he froze, "Uh oh." He was debating in his head what to say when the local cube-farmer friend piped up and said, "Well, some of us are working from home due to the bad weather."

That's when M finally admitted, "That's my wife's cat." Which kills me because he's the one who named her, for Pete's sake.

I don't know why I think this is so funny, but every time I picture the scene in my head I crack up laughing.

Snow Day

Wahoooo! Snow day!

Only, I spent most of the day at work, and it was really ice, not snow, but whatever.

I did get to leave around 3:30, cruising into the driveway around 4, so it felt a little bit like a snow day.

I took my bonus hour (no work! child sleeping! homework done! exercise done for the day!) and finally dumped the images from Zoe's first sledding into the Mac. Got some good ones, I think.

Figure it's appropriate with white stuff on the ground again to go ahead and post them. Nevermind that the white stuff is really just little granules of solidified water that wreaks havoc with the roads and makes it a pain to scrape off your car, and not soft, fluffy snow that blankets the earth with peace, love and harmony.

Daddy bundled up Zozo in her adorable little snowsuit,
and he bundled up in his handy Halliburton snow suit.
I have to fight the urge to call him
"Mr. Cheney" when he's in that thing.

Here's my girl, on my old Radio Flyer.
How sweet is that?

Daddy and Zozo, ready to zoom down the hill.
And by "zoom" I mean that
Daddy grips Zoe with one hand
and pushes them both, inch by inch,
down the hill with the other.

Turns out Mommy's old Radio Flyer
isn't built for speed.
At least not any more.

As much as I love this photo, I can't help
but laugh at the fact that she has apparently lost her feet.

Good bye, and thank you for visiting Zoe's Winter Wonderland.
Come again soon!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How to shoot a lunar eclipse

  1. Dig out old 70-300 mm lens, which on your DSLR becomes a 105-450 mm lens. Sweet.
  2. Dust off the tripod.
  3. Attach lens to camera and camera to tripod. Place by door.
  4. Find warmest coat, gloves and red fleece hat with cute pompom on top (one must look cute when shooting an eclipse). Bundle up like you're the abominable snowman.
  5. Beat tripod against every part of the door frame trying to get out of the house with abominable snowman suit on.
  6. Trip motion detector light on way out. Curse light pollution.
  7. Set up tripod in driveway. Contemplate throwing rocks at big street lights that cause even more light pollution.
  8. Frame shot in viewfinder. Zoom in. Zoom out. Zoom in again. Adjust framing. Try to figure out how many stars you can get in the frame with the moon at it's largest. Answer: one. Damn.
  9. Try in vain to operate camera with gloves that, while warm, effectively turn your hands into Muppet hands, which are not so great when it comes to pushing small buttons and turning small dials on a DSLR. In the cold. At night. Curse again and remove one glove.
  10. Fire off a few test shots. Realize after chimping on your LCD you have no freakin' idea how to effectively shoot a lunar eclipse.
  11. Leave camera and tripod set up in driveway and come in to warm up. Remove gloves but leave rest of abominable snowman outfit on to sit at computer and search "lunar eclipse photography" on
  12. Read. Read some more. Click links. Find a chart. Estimate your best chance given your focal length and the brightness of the moon is to go with around a 2 sec. shutter speed.
  13. Go back out in the driveway and fire off some more shots.
  14. Invite tired, sick husband to come out, and oh by the way, bring the telescope and binoculars out, too.
  15. Watch for a few minutes. Contemplate one's tiny speck of insignificance in the grand scheme of the universe. Decide you're freezing your insignificant ass off and go back inside. With husband, tripod, camera, telescope and binoculars.

I'll be happy to post what I got here, if they aren't too bad once I get them in the Mac and take a good look-see. Can't do it tonight, though. Camera has to warm back up and I'm going to bed before it does. Tomorrow is my first day back to my 5:15 wake-up call to go exercise (yes, I'm going to call "power walking" exercise, at least until I can do more) and I need to get to bed at a decent hour.

Happy lunar eclipse!

Das Boot

is kaput!!!

Free at last, free at last. My left foot is no longer encased in something that looks like it's from the prop department of The Terminator.

It's very strange to walk normally again, having not walked without a limp for the last 8 weeks. I keep forgetting that it doesn't hurt anymore, and am still favoring it. So I end up doing this cockamamy gait down the long hall here at the spa. I start out normal, then fall into my limp, then remember that I don't have to limp, and start to walk normal again. It's a little Chaplinesque, but I'll take it.

Dr. Hottie said while I'm free to walk bootless now, I'm to stay out of heels for a couple weeks (booo!) and I can't run for at least two or three (double boooooo!). I am allowed to "power walk" at the gym, and work my way back up, slowly, to running. No PT, as he said, "You're athletic enough that you'll do just fine on your own. But don't overdo it!" *&$%@. At least two more weeks until running. Bah. At least I'm out of the boot!

Also, yesterday was completely Britney-free. It was a struggle, but I did it. Leaps and bounds, I'm making.

I've rediscovered that "real" news is just as goofy as celebrity news, since apparently later today we (the United States, that is) are going to try to shoot down a big piece of brand new space trash that happens to be loaded down with rocket fuel. It became space trash pretty quickly after launch, when something happened to cause the computer on board to shut down. They've been unable to re-start it, thereby rendering this multi-million dollar piece of technology nothing more than the equivalent of a cigarette butt on the side of the highway. Only it's filled with incredibly toxic and dangerous rocket fuel and is rapidly falling towards, you guessed it, Earth. M read aloud the article to me last night, which said that we're using a high-tech, state-of-the-art heat-seeking missile to target a vessle that effectively has absolutely no heat signature whatsoever.

Who needs Britney Spears when we have the federal government?!

Finished the Henri Cartier-Bresson DVD last night and started on his Scrapbook. It. Is. Fantastic. Much more deeply fulfilling than paparazzi garbage. Well, they say you have to hit rock bottom before you can start to recover.

Ah, today is just such a good day. We finished our accounting homework last night for the week, and I'll study and take my weekly quiz probably tonight. Quiet night with The Bug before that, and quiet night with Henri after that (M is probably dining with colleagues tonight), and tomorrow morning I'll lace up my beloved and much-missed Asics.

Ah, bliss!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

On the edge of relapse

I'm teetering right on the edge. I so want to get a Britney update right now.

No! NO! Fight it!

I thought that going on-line and checking in my on-line classroom for discussion forum updates would quench my thirst. Turns out accounting is no match for the allure of a celebrity trainwreck.

Although I was happy to discover that I am successfully enrolled in my next class, Applied Business Statistics. Stop it. Yawns are contagious.

I also quadruple-checked the edition of the required textbook. It's the fifth, thankyouverymuch. Let's avoid a repeat of this term's textbook purchase malfunction/hyperventilation episode, shall we?

In an effort to keep myself on the wagon, I have just deleted the "Posts from the Britney Spears Category" link out of my favorites. I am proud of this, as I had to essentially do it twice since Bill Gates thinks that every time I make a move on my computer it's necessary to ask, "Are you sure you want to send Britney Spears to the recycle bin?" Oh, you have no idea how much I'd like Britney to go to the recycle bin. And stay there.

M is stopping at Borders on the way home to pick up the new Cartier-Bresson book. He took the 40% off coupon with him this morning. I think he desperately hopes that this will help kick the Britney habit. You'd think that night after night of me having to shamefully reply to his query of "Whatcha doin'?" with "Lookin' up Britney" would have been enough to do it, but no. I'm a weak, weak woman.

Help me, Henri! You're my only hope! (Said in my best Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia impersonation voice.)

My 12-Step Program to Quit Britney

Okay, really, my fascination with all things Britney (and her trainwreck life) has devolved into a sad little abnormal obsession that involves periodic and regular checks of certain web sites to see what's developed in the last five minutes. "Gotta get my Britney fix!" I'd exclaim, before gleefully clicking my favorites to find out what idiotic thing the poor girl has done now. I cheered for her parents' much-needed return, and booed the antics of evil-incarnate Sam Lufti.

But, enough is enough.

Over the weekend I finished my accounting homework early enough to watch a DVD on James Nachtwey, one of my most favorite photojournalists. The guy's shots are incredible. The DVD was a documentary about his life (a little) and his work (a lot). He's a war photographer, and he's been everywhere. Although unfortunately there is always a war somewhere in the world, he also shoots humans in the poorest of conditions, famine, mass poverty, that sort of thing. Heavy stuff far, far removed from the glamour and glitz of Hooeywood and its so-called "news."

Nachtwey made a statement in one of his interviews about advertisers being concerned about their pretty pictures portraying inane mass consumer goods running side-by-side with his shots of starving children and war-torn countries. The advertisers are worried that if people see his images, they won't want to plunk down hard-earned cash for more unnecessary items, and will instead turn their rampant consumerism into something, oh, I don't know, worthwhile.

He talked about what's really news today, and mentioned that the celebrity beat most certainly is not.

And I hung my head in embarrassment.

Because I am one of those people who has been getting her news from TMZ instead of MSNBC. I'd click right past the news of human rights issues to read about Britney lifting a Bic lighter from a service station in Beverly Hills in front of a hundred photographers. Sure, maybe every once in awhile I'd check on some campaign news, but only if it was something major like Mitt dropping out or Hillary verbally whacking Barack for being inexperienced (again). Steve Fossett's legally-declared death sparked a bit of attention, but only for a moment.

So, since watching that DVD Sunday afternoon I've been battling my internal demons. "Don't check on Britney! Don't do it!" "Oh, something might have happened! Is her dad still a conservator? Has Sam been served yet?!" "Bad girl! You don't need Britney!" "One quick check! It'll only take a minute!"


Thankfully, something big happened today to help me with my little addiction problem. Thank you, Mr. Castro, for giving me something worthwhile to read and think about instead of Britney.

I may still cave tonight and check up on Brit-Brit, but I figure one step at a time is better than squandering my entire lunch break on TMZ. So, here's my 12-step program to quit Britney:
  1. Watch meaningful documentary on someone who is actually doing something worthwhile with his life (Nachtwey).
  2. Admit that you have a problem.
  3. Watch documentary on another respected and beloved photographer (Henri Cartier-Bresson), marvel at his talent, and remember that the only way to get to his level is to shoot, shoot, shoot (i.e. spending more time on real photography and less time on paparazzi web sites).
  4. Remember that fuzzy, grainy, on-the-run grab shots of celebuwrecks is not real photography. Look at real photography web sites for reinforcement.
  5. Pick up the dang camera and shoot.
  6. Have a major world leader cede power to his little brother. Review major world leader's life in pictures and recognize the impact photography has on telling The Story.
  7. Use 40% off coupon from Borders to get that long-wanted Cartier-Bresson book that's always been too expensive. Read book. Slobber over breathtaking images and ponder if you have the talent to discern the "decisive moment."
  8. Say to yourself, "Britney is not news." Repeat ad nauseum.
  9. Stop listening to Britney CD. Turn on NPR.
  10. Apologize to anyone you've bored with "Britney News" in the last month. Apologize again. Beg for forgiveness if needed.
  11. Dump photos from DSLR into Mac and work on them, instead of surfing for Brit Bits.
  12. Spend time writing for the blog (and posting images!). Recognize your blog slackerism, own it, apologize, and move on.

I can't say that I can quit Brit cold turkey, but I'm going to try. I must admit that Fidel is making it easier.

I've always wanted to visit Cuba and shoot (it's a target-rich environment for photographers down there)...maybe someday soon it'll be easier to get there (and back).

Down with Fidel! Down with Britney! Up with photography and the democratic process! Up with Photocracy!

(Seriously. How many bloggers do you know who can so definitively link Fidel Castro and Britney Spears in the same blog post? It takes God-given talent, people.)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Who wears the smartypants in our family?

Nothing says Valentine's Day romance like snuggling up with your loved one and a lovely accounting text book.

Yes, that's right my friends. We spent V-Day studying. Hey, at least we were studying together. We lit some candles...does that count for anything?

I logged on to the course site just to look around, see what the classmates were up to, that sort of thing. We took the mid-term last Friday and knew that our scores would be increased by one point, as one of the questions (the first one, actually) didn't have the correct answer displayed and the instructor promised to credit all of us for that. Being Anal-Retentive Student, I wanted to make sure that correction had been made.

I checked out the page that shows my overall grades and saw that my mid-term, which had been a 34/39 and should have been corrected to a 35/39, was now sitting at a 39/39. Huh? Not that I'm going to argue, but still, that's kind of strange. I mentioned it to M, who at this point hadn't started studying yet and was instead surfing for news. He looked quizically at me but didn't move off MSNBC. I flipped over to the graded test page and saw that yes, our instructor Charles had indeed corrected my test to give credit for the wonky question. Score on test page: 35/39. Score on assessment summary page: 39/39.

Totally confused at this point, I went to the discussion board, where I found this message:

I find I must apply a curve to the mid-term to make it equitable.


I read the post to M, and his face lit up. "If you got 39/39, and I missed one less than you...!!!!" I've never seen the boy's fingers move so fast over a keyboard, especially to log in to an on-line classroom.

Within 2 minutes he was up and dancing (literally, dancing...totally like a white guy, mind you, but dancing) around the dining room table. This was accompanied by a little song he wrote off-the-cuff that had a refrain of "I set the cuuuuuurve! I set the cuuuuuurve! Iiiiiiii seeeeeet the cuuuuuuurve!"

After finishing this display of joy and academic prowess, he plopped back down in his chair and began frantically typing again, first pulling up the spreadsheet he created (of course) to track our progress through the term. Finding out that he can basically get a 65% on the final and still get an A in the class (assuming our assignments and assessments stay on track) sent him into another paroxysm of glee.

I said, "Methinks it's obvious you've never set the curve before now."
He said, "Shut up."

Then he claimed that in one of his classes at Rolla he did really, really well. Machine Design or some such nonsense. I know it wasn't 20th Century Literature. He never came right out and said he set the curve though, so I'm still pretty sure this week was his first curve-setting achievement.

After all this, it became blindingly evident to him that it wasn't enough to share this news of his overwhelming intelligence with his wife. "I gotta call someone!" He called his dad (how cute is that?!).

After listening to his son tell him how he'd set the curve, and offering congratulations and a few "atta boys," Dad said, "Wow. I think you're so excited because you've never set the curve before."


M wanted me to do a screen-shot of his grade (40/39) and post it here with the question, "Who do you think achieved this? M or A?" I told him to get his own damn blog. His dad said, "Just wait until you get into the touchy-feely MBA classes. I think your wife is gonna clean your clock in those."

Until then, I must live with the fact that M's grade in the class is 100.32% while mine is a lowly 99.63%, and that he, at least currently, wears the smartypants in our family. Sigh. It's going to be a long four weeks until the term ends.

He tried to console me with, "our scores both round to the same number: 100%." I, being the competitive girl I am (which is why I think I fit so well into his family, a bunch of ultra-hyper-competitive freaks) told him to shove it. I'm going to push for our next class to be one of those touchy-feely ones Dad talked about.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Another hat!

167.5 hours until I get the boot off!

Not that I'm counting or anything.

Actually, in the grand scheme of things it hasn't been too bad. I'm bummed about not running, but maybe given all that I've had going on the past month (plus), it wasn't in the cards for me to get up even earlier and go run. That's what I'm telling myself, anyway.

I'm anxious to see what physical therapy entails, and how quickly I can get back on the treadmill.

Attended a board meeting last night for a group called IAS, or Infertility and Adoption Support. As many of you know, this is a cause incredibly close to my heart. When you start to struggle with something like infertility, you feel like you're the only person in the world who has this issue. Every other woman is either pregnant or has just given birth, or complains about how fertile she is. Then, you find resources like IAS, and you learn things like one in five couples in the United States is dealing with infertility. One in five. That's huge. It means that there's a very real chance that if you haven't coped with it yourself, you know someone who has.

Not that people go around shouting from the rooftops about it. It's just out there, latent. Women (and men) struggling with incredible amounts of emotional pain.

Which is where a group like IAS comes in. They provide resources and support for women (couples) who are dealing with infertility and adoption. The group of women I met last night are all fantastic, and completely committed to the cause of helping others. They inspire me to work alongside them in the quest for outreach about infertility.

So, I'm their newest volunteer, and have been appointed to their recently-created Professional Advisory Board, which is very cool. I'm also giving our Oasis Room at the spa to host the monthly board meetings.

Volunteering is about the most wonderful thing in the world to do. If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend it. It works best when it's a cause close to you, something maybe you've had personal experience with. But it could just be something that's downright cool, like the American Red Cross. Go on a ride-along with the Disaster Action Team some time. If you respond to a single or multi-family house fire and see first-hand the difference you can make in someone's life during a time of incredible stress and loss, you'll be hooked for life. I know I am. Red Cross can call me anytime, and if I can wedge it into my already-jammed schedule, I'm there.

I'm still waiting for the YWCA's Circle of Women committee work to kick off, to help victims (no, survivors) of abuse and rape. The woman who heads that program is even busier than I am, so she's a bit delayed in pulling together this core team to work on outreach. Hey, I know from busy, so she can take all the time she needs to get it rolling...I'll be here when she's ready.

So, along with the whole wife, mother, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, daughter and friend thing, plus worker bee and graduate student, I'll wear my volunteer hat. No one can ever say my life isn't full.

And what's not to love about that?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Dial R for Rip-Off

As many of you know, our phone service at the house went wonky about a month ago. Maybe it's been longer than that, I don't remember. Anyway, all I know is that for most of the past month we've been unable to make or receive calls. No dial tone. At all. The landline phone keypad doesn't even light up when plugged into the phone jack now. We disconnected all the cordless phones, even taking out their batteries. We let the phone line rest for a bit (per the instructions from the phone company). We looked in the phone box on the back of the house to plug in a landline there, to try to determine if the problem is inside the house, or outside the house. Since there isn't a jack in the box (ha ha), there is no way to test it. We did get phone service back, myseriously, for a few days in the middle, but now it's out again.

So, given that we've essentially been without phone service for a month and haven't missed it (although I am a little bummed that I, like others I know, haven't received personal calls from Barack, Hillary, Mitt or John's computers), we decided it's pretty stupid to keep paying for something we don't need.

Especially after I got out our bill and realized that while we pay $23.74 for monthly service plus caller ID, we also pay:
Federal Universal Service Fee
Federal Subscriber Line Charge
Special E911 Tax
Relay Missouri Surcharge
Missouri Universal Service Fund
Special Municipal Charge
Federal (Local Charges) (isn't that oxymoronic?)
Federal (Non-regulated & Toll Charges)
State and Local (Local Charges) (issued by the Redundant Department of Redundancy)
State and Local (Non-regulated & Toll Charges)
Long Distance II
Carrier Cost Recovery Fee
Federal Universal Service Fee (yes, it's in there again, one for local and one for LD, apparently)
Missouri Universal Service Fund (ditto)
Federal Tax
State and Local Taxes

The long distance stuff chaps my butt because we never, ever use the landline for long distance calls. Always use the cell. Free that way, you know. But here we are, paying for a service, again, that never gets used.

So while our basic phone line plus caller ID is $23.74, all the fees and taxes and garbage bumps it to $39.12. Forty smackers a month and we can't even call for pizza. Or for emergency services, for that matter, but that's another issue entirely.

I called AT&T. All I want to do is remove the phone service from my home, while keeping our internet access. Not a big deal, right?

I went through the automated response voice system, which involves an annoying robotic male voice asking me questions. Which means my officemates heard me yelling the following into my phone:

I want to disconnect my phone line!
Disconnect my phone line.
Oh for Pete's sake. (This is when I zero'd out.)

I finally got a woman on the phone who listened to me with half a brain (she must have been winking), and who, as soon as she heard me say "...and keep my internet access..." promptly transferred me to the DSL department. Who, of course, don't handle the disconnect of the main phone line.

I was transferred back, and the same annoying roboman came on and started asking me all the questions I had just answered. I zero'd out at the beginning this time, listened to some bad on-hold music, then was hung up on.


For them being, you know, the phone company, their phone system sucks.

Called back, zero'd out promptly, waited on hold, then got a woman who explained that she could easily remove my phone service today, thankyouverymuch, but my DSL would have to go down for five days before coming back up.

Oh no. No no no no no no no. We're in the middle of a class. Literally. This week is our mid-term exam. We are taking it on-line. We can't go without DSL for five freakin' days. She, of course, understood, and then tried to upsell me to a higher phone service that has unlimited long distance.

Lady, I can't get my phone to dial Imo's Pizza half a mile away. Why on earth would I upgrade to a more expensive option right now? Hey, $50/month (plus taxes, fees, surcharges and beer money for the phone company marketing department) for no dialtone, now that's a great deal.

I said, "Look, I've got no phone service now, as it is, so how about you just stop charging me for something I'm not receiving anyway." She said, "Okay, so your DSL will be down for about five days..."

I shall call back the week we're between classes, but I'm not talking to Roboman anymore.

A half-brained idea

Ornithologists concluded that migratory birds take hundreds of naps as they fly; they also practice unilateral eye closure, in which one eye closes, thereby permitting half the brain to sleep.


Do you know how much I could get done if I could close one eye and let half my brain rest for awhile?

There are plenty of things people do with half a brain. Like driving. Most of the people on my daily commute are already driving with half a brain, might as well get some rest on your way in (or your way out).

Some people I work with, I swear, come to work most days with half a brain.

If all those people can work with half a brain, I should be able to get along just fine. This would add about six hours to my day that are normally spent attempting to get my entire brain to sleep.

I love efficiency. I just have to work on my winking technique.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Smash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, which I forgot, as is evidenced by the fact that I had a buffalo chicken samich for lunch at Trainwreck. Oops.

Then M left me a voicemail, conveniently over lunch, reminding me that it's Ash Wednesday and that I'm not to eat meat, nor am I to snack between meals. I got the message after I returned from lunch, yummy buffalo chicken samich already consumed.

So I sent him an instant message and confessed, and he jokingly wrote back that ooooh, I'm a bad Catholic.

Which actually hit a lot closer to the target than he anticipated.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be Catholic, and I must admit I've got some confusion going on. Granted, it's not hard to get the clouds swirling in my addled brain, but a swirlin' they are.

See, there's this archbishop we've got here in the Lou, and to put it mildly, I disagree with darn near everything he chooses to open his pie-hole about. When it comes right down to it, I'm pretty sure I'd rather pray with all the folks he's thrown out of the Church than with him. Blasphemy, I'm sure, but there it is.

In the last couple weeks, though, he's really been buggin' me. After a local Catholic publicly stated his personal beliefs that are inconsistent with the Church's teachings, the archbishop said that it is "not possible to be a Catholic and hold those positions."

Personally, I believe a lot of things that aren't consistent with Catholic teachings. For instance, I think women should be allowed a stronger role in the leadership of the church. I think that if priests were allowed to marry and have children, we'd have a heck of a lot more priests. I also think that the help M and I received, the help I needed, to get our Zozo was not wrong. I'd do it again in a heartbeat, and after having sat through support group meeting after meeting and growing to love other women, sisters, who were struggling with the same thing I was, I refuse to believe that their attempts to bring a beloved child into this world were not wrong, either.

According to the archbishop, then, it's not possible for me to be Catholic. Which is really disheartening, given that I chose this religion.

I think to myself, okay, just ignore him. There are tons of really great Catholic priests who aren't like him. Only, that's difficult to do because, well, he's the freakin' archbishop. He must be doing something right in the Church to rise to that position.

So here I am on Ash Wednesday, feeling at odds with my church. Does my church still want me? Heck, given how much I disagree with the archbishop, do I still want it?

Which is quite a lot to be thinking about along with work, school, raising a child and being a wife/daughter/mother/sister/aunt/cousin/niece.

My brain is tired.