Something to Think About

"I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Aftermath of Hurricane Irene

So, then! Turns out Hurricane Irene had more of an affect - or rather, a different affect - than we thought it would in our neck of the woods!
We were told to expect winds of 20-25 mph and heavy rains! We were told to expect flash floods and regular flooding as the ground was saturated.
In reality we got much less rain than was expected and the winds were greater than we had been anticipating!
In our area there were countless tree limbs down causing power-outages, cable interruptions, roads to be closed and ultimately causing the first day of school - Monday - to be cancelled in our school district. In fact, the one elementary school didn't have the power back on Tuesday but they held classes anyway. I'm told the power is back on as of last evening so all should be back to normal there.
In our house, our cable - which supplies our internet service and phone service - went out around 2AM Sunday morning and was restored some time during the day yesterday. (I know what time as my daughter was Skyping with her boyfriend who lives near Philly when it went out)
Our electric flickered on and off during the early Sunday morning hours - apparently due to a power line up on the main street which was arcing - and finally went out for good some time after 10:00 AM Sunday morning. It came back on about 2 1/2 hours later so it was no big problem. We simply didn't open the fridge or freezer while it was out so we were sure all the food items were fine.
So, all in all, we had some clean-up to do in our yard and the alley next to our house as our big tree dropped quite a few branches, twigs and leaves during the storm but that was the extent of our problems. Being without internet was a bit of a pain, but not a life-threatening situation and we all have cell phones so living without a phone line wasn't too bad.
I'm glad that everything is now back to normal but I'm keeping a wary eye on Tropical Storm Katia now. You never know what these storms are going to do so it is best to be prepared!
photo courtesy of NASA

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sunday Seven - August 28, 2011


Name seven animals you think would belong on your own totem pole.
Well... I tried to follow the guidelines on the page Patrick directed us to as if I seriously wanted to choose my totems. I started with animals that I felt drawn to. Here's what I came up with:

Cat - Guardianship, detachment, sensuality, mystery,

magic and independence.
I've always liked cats. I'm not sure any of the characteristics associated with this animal are appropriate for me - though I suppose some might say I'm a little mysterious.

Panther - Protection, hidden emotions, introspection, caution, careful decisions. Panthers are a particular member of the cat family that I admire.

Spider - Balance, wisdom, creativity, communication. I've always been fascinated by spiders so this was a no-brainer.

Wolf - Loyalty, perseverance, success, intuition and spirit. Likewise, I've always been attracted to wolves. Another obvious choice for me.

The last 3 took a while to come up with as I didn't feel particularly drawn to any of the remaining animals. I instead looked at the characteristics associated with them and chose them that way.

Deer - Compassion, peace, intellectual, gentle, caring, kind, subtlety, gracefulness, femininity, gentleness, innocence, seller of adventure. I chose this because I like to think that I'm compassionate, gentle, kind and caring. I'm not, however, particularly graceful - nor feminine

for that matter.

Dolphin - Kind, salvation, wisdom, happiness, playfulness, prudent, capable

of deep emotion and happy.
I chose this one because of the phrase "capable of deep emotion." I think sometimes that I must feel things more deeply than most others but perhaps I'm mistaken and I just don't hide my emotions as well as others do.

Ostrich - Grounded, practical. That's me, I suppose. I'm not prone to flights of fancy. My feet are firmly on the ground. It's boring, but true!

This is this week's Sunday Seven from Patrick's Place! It's a bit late because I don't have internet at home due to the aftermath of Irene so I worked on this while on break at work.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saturday Six! - August 27, 2011

1. Where is the last place you visited that involved a flight? It's been quite a while since I've flown anywhere... Perhaps when I flew down to Florida to take a cruise to the Bahamas years ago.

2. If given a choice and all prices are the same, which airline would you most be likely to choose for your own travel? I don't think I have a preference.

3. With which airline have you had the most negative experiences? I've really never had a bad experience. *knocks on wood*

4. You come to the security checkpoint and you find a new full-body scanner: would you voluntarily be scanned? um... ugh. I guess so as it's better than the alternative.

5. Security agents tell you that the scanner is being calibrated and that it would take 30 minutes before you could pass through security unless you allow them to do a full putdown. If waiting 30 minutes won’t endanger the chance of you getting to your gate on time, would you wait or agree to the patdown? Oh, dear. I think I'd honestly prefer to wait.

6. Which airline fee bothers you the most and why? The fee for luggage irritates me. It's already annoying enough if you have to check luggage and wait for it but seems absurd to pay for the privilege.

These are the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Alphabe-Thursday! The letter S!!

S is for seashells!

She sells sea shells by the sea shore! (sorry... just had to!!)

I realized when I chose seashells for this week's post that I really didn't know how they are formed! So... I Googled it! (as I often point out to folks, Google is your friend. Learn how to phrase your search correctly and you can find practically anything through Google)

Here's what I found out:
  • Mollusks - the creatures who live inside a seashell - are invertebrate animals who use the shells to protect themselves from predators.
  • Mollusks ingest salt and chemicals and excrete calcium carbonate which hardens into a shell.
  • The shell is not part of the living animal. It is not made of cells, but minerals.
  • Different colors in the shells are due to the mollusk's diet! Mollusks living in tropical climates have more of a variety in their diet so their shells are more colorful than mollusks who live in colder climates with fewer food choices.
  • Lines and patterns in the shell are due to varying rates of secretion of the calcium carbonate.
Who knew there were so many interesting things to learn about seashells? Hope you enjoyed learning about them, as well!

Jenny Matlock

photo by wildxplorer

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

{one} what's your guilty pleasure tv show?
Big Brother.
This is the first year I'm watching it and it might be my last. Not sure I have the stomach to watch much more of this!

{two} ear piercings on men: yes or no?
Um... no. I used to like this but now? meh...

{three} do you have dish or comcast?
No. We have DirecTv.

{four} what's your favorite current fashion trend?
LOLOL!! I've no idea what any of the current fashion trends are! I just like comfortable!

{five} if you could learn to do anything, money not being an issue, what would it be?
Hmm... Play the violin, maybe - not that money is an issue there. Maybe that doesn't count. How about get a degree in philosophy. Just because.

{six} red or white wine?
Red - preferably a merlot.

{seven} what type of food is your favorite (ex. italian, mexican, etc.)
Um... I like chinese. And italian. And mexican. and...oh, hell. I like food.

{eight} hp or mac?
I have an Asus!

{nine} what color is your bedroom?
How embarrassing... Remember back in the 70s when they had different color paneling? I'm not talking different wood tones - I mean green or blue or pink - but with a wood grain. Yeah. It's blue paneling and it is horrid and I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR IT! It was here when we moved in!

{ten} what's your favorite form of exercise?
Walking on the treadmill or hiking in the woods.

Labor Day - in reality

Labor Day is coming up soon - September 5th, in fact. Less than two weeks from now, many of us will have a 3-day weekend. I am looking forward to my upcoming 3-day weekend. In fact, K and I are going camping as I explained in my last post.

Imagine my reaction when I received a phone call telling me that I need to work on September 3rd.

No. I did not swear. I very calmly explained that I will not be working that day and they'll have to work something out. I will not be here. I'll be upstate in the woods - preferably out of cell phone range.

See, next week I am doing another woman's job because she is on vacation. She occasionally has to work on a Saturday because she works when production works and sometimes they are forced to work on a Saturday. (note: I work in a poultry-processing plant) Due to setbacks we've been having with some new equipment not working as it should, we are faced with birds that need to be processed as they are getting too old (and therefore too big - which is a problem as our equipment does not work well with larger than average birds) So... management is packing as many production hours in as they can to alleviate the problem and decided to run a shift next Saturday.

Now, management is working with me on this problem - as I normally don't have to work when production does - but it got me to thinking... What about the people who do work in production? What about all those folks who were planning on a 3-day weekend - for Labor Day of all reasons?!?

Yes. Labor day. The day set aside as a tribute to the contributions workers make throughout the year. Here is an excerpt from the US DOL website about Labor Day:

U.S. Department Of Labor - The History of Labor Day: "Labor Day: How it Came About; What it Means
Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."

'via Blog this'

So... at my workplace, the message is a little different: "We are giving you a day off for Labor Day to thank you for what you do but you'll have to work Saturday to make up for it." Um... yeah. Sounds like someone really doesn't quite comprehend the idea behind this federal holiday.

Yes. I understand the situation. I really do. What I don't understand is why they are not looking at other options: Such as running a shift this Saturday instead or selling some live birds, if need be. It has to be expensive to run a shift. Maybe selling off some of the excess birds would be the most economical choice. Besides... what about people who will be away over the weekend like I will be? What will happen to them? They'll get points on their record and they won't be paid for Monday if they don't show up on Saturday. If they happen to have too many points on their record, they'll be fired.

Happy Labor Day, folks! This is how we show you how much we appreciate you...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The ABCs of me

I've seen this meme a couple of places so I thought I'd try it... Here goes!

A - Wow. Stuck already... Adorable? Ha-Ha! No... Airhead? Only sometimes... Ah! American! There we go.
B - Brooke, my dog! Isn't she adorable?

C - Coffee! I'm a real bear without my morning caffeine!
D - I'm a registered Democrat - and an unashamed tree-hugging liberal!
E- Engaged. My marital status for the last... 10 years or so. And it's likely to stay that way. *shrugs* Don't fix it if it isn't broken, I always say!
F- French. I took french in middle and high school. I don't recall most of it but it occasionally comes in handy.
G- Gray! My eye color. (not my hair color. Those are silver highlights, by the way. Silver, I tell you!)
H- I enjoy hiking in the woods.
I-Homemade ice cream! We had one of those hand-cranked ice cream makers when I was growing up and we'd make ice cream on special occasions! My sister has our old one and we still use it when the family gets together sometimes. There is nothing like homemade ice cream!
J- Jelly doughnuts are probably my least favorite doughnut - and it has to be bad for me not to love...
K- My fiance's name begins with a K so I call him K on here! I know... I'm so original... :-P
L- Lilacs are my favorite flower! We had two lilac bushes in our backyard when I was young - one purple, one white. When the lilacs would bloom, there would be bouquets of lilacs throughout the house! I loved the smell!
M-Music. My taste in music is rather eclectic as I like almost all kinds of music with a notable exception of most country music and most rap/hip-hop music. I just can't stand those, for the most part.
N- I'm a bit of a "nut" for nuts! Almonds are my favorite, but I'll eat almost any nut - pecan, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, etc! I even spread almond butter on my toast in the morning!
O- Olives are one of my favorite treats - both black and green! Yum!
P- I was born, raised and still live in Pennsylvania! (though I do like to visit other places!)
Q- I'm quiet until I get to know people. I find it much easier to be outgoing on the internet than it is in person. So much so that people have a hard time believing that I'm really quite the introvert in person!
R- Reading! One of my favorite activities!
S- I love storms! I still remember sitting on the porch, watching the clouds roll in and listening to the thunder and watching the lightning with my father. :-)
T- Tent camping. I love camping - in a tent - without electric (although I do appreciate a water source nearby and a proper bathroom... so not really roughing it)
U-The UK is top on my list of places I want to visit. Now I have to either figure out how to drug K and get him on a plane or find a traveling companion.
V- I've always wanted to learn to play the violin! I know... it's "never too late" but I really don't have the time. I've satisfied myself by teaching myself how to play the ukulele instead! (well - I'm still learning, but still... it's a much easier instrument!)
W- I'm much happier if our vacation takes us to the woods rather than the beach. I prefer the mountains to the sea!
X- I get eXcited over NFL football! It is my favorite sport and when it isn't football season I'm not sure what to do with myself on Sunday afternoons and Monday nights! (and yes. This is cheating a little but I don't get excited over xylophones or anything else I can think of that begins with an X.)
Y-Yep! Almost done with the list! Go me!
Z- My zodiac sign is Scorpio.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Seven - August 21, 2011


Name seven “classic” sitcoms you’d schedule in an all-day cable network comedy schedule.

This sounded simple, at first, but then I got to thinking a little and I realized that some of my first choices were aired so much that I think everyone has seen them- like All in the Family or I Love Lucy. I decided to create a list of shows I enjoyed that aren't as common to see in syndication now days.
I've listed the shows from older to newer (as best as I can figure out).

1. The Dick Van Dyke Show - No... I'm not old enough to have watched this when it first aired but I did get to watch reruns years later and it was hilarious!

2. Get Smart - Another oldie but goodie! I remember this show's reruns aired right after school one year and I would hurry home to watch it before dinner!
3. Bewitched - Another classic and one I didn't watch the first time around either!
4. The Odd Couple - Tony Randall's Felix was delightful to watch react to Jack Klugman's character's antics!
5. The Partridge Family - Yes. I include this mostly because I had a crush on Keith Partridge (played by David Cassidy) but also because I'm nostalgic for the music. I don't know if the show will have aged well, but I'd be curious to see if I find it watchable today. This is the first show in my list that I would have watched when it first aired.
6. Soap - This was a parody of soap operas and I enjoyed it immensely.
7. WKRP in Cincinnati - This show had me crowing with laughter at times! Remember the turkey drop?

You can play along, too! Visit Patrick's Place every Sunday for a new question!
K and I are finally taking a small vacation in early September. We've often discussed taking a camping trip the past couple of years but we just haven't done it.

We're planning a camping trip up near the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon (aka Pine Creek Gorge). It's about 2 1/2 hours away from home and we're doing an extended Labor Day weekend trip. It should be a good time of year for the trip.

K and I like to tent camp but we've noticed that many campsites seem to be tailored to RV campers rather than tent campers. When there are tent sites, many campgrounds will lay down gravel on the site. How is a person to sleep well on a gravel bed? Not everyone has an air mattress!

To be honest, though, I've used an air mattress for years. I just got to the point that I was unable to sleep well without one! I've gone through 2 of them and I decided to purchase something different this time: a self-inflating sleeping bag pad. It's about 1 1/2 inches thick and has a foam pad inside so it's sort of a combo between an air mattress and foam pad. I can't wait to try it out! I'm not sure about the "self-inflating" part, though. We had to blow the air into them when we opened them for the first time- and the directions told us we might have to do this - but I have my doubts about whether or not they will self-inflate next time we open them up.

Now I have to start planning meals and double check our camping supplies to be sure we will have everything we need. It's been years since we have been camping! I really can't wait.

photo by Brian Wright

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday Six! - August 20, 2011

1. You feel a sniffle coming on: what’s the first thing you do to avoid a cold?
I don't think you can avoid anything at the stage you feel it coming on, but I'll try to do what I can to recover quickly: Get enough rest and eat well.

2. Once the cold hits for real, what over-the-counter medicine are you most likely to turn to? I'm prone to sinus infections so I'll usually take Tylenol Sinus or something like that. If it's a bad cold with a cough that keeps me up, I'll take NyQuil at night.

3. How often will you just suffer through a cold without any medicine? Not very often. As I mentioned, I'm prone to sinus infections so I need to keep them running at the very least.

4. What does it take to persuade you to finally go to the doctor for a bad cold? I can't remember going to the doctor for a cold - at least not in recent years. I suppose it would have to be pretty bad!

5. Are you more likely to go to the doctor or call in sick for a day at your workplace? I'm more likely to call in sick. I have to be able to think clearly at my job and sometimes I realize that isn't going to be a possibility so I'll call off. This doesn't happen often, though.

6. Which medicine has the absolute worst taste you’ve ever encountered? Hmm... Well, NyQuil is pretty bad but I've learned to put up with it. I tried some Theraflu stuff several years ago - a powder added to hot water - and I thought that was nasty.

These are this week's questions for the Saturday Six over at Patrick's Place! You can play along, too!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Alphabe-Thursday! The letter R!


If you look for myths about redheads you certainly find a lot of them! Some of them contradict each other within the same culture! For example, in ancient Egypt, many of the pharaohs were redheads - including Ramses! Despite this fact, redheads were considered unlucky and women with red hair were sometimes burned to death to prevent spreading the hair color to another generation!

The Greeks reportedly thought that redheads turned into vampires after they died. I'm not sure what they did to prevent this, though. It would seem a bit counter-intuitive to kill them if you believed this. Perhaps they did their best to keep them alive, instead!

During the Spanish Inquisition, red hair was a sign that you were to be burnt as a witch!

The stories go on and on. Thank goodness now days we don't put redheads to death or fear them - though there are rumors of a redhead's temper!

Photo by Sunny Ripert (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Jenny Matlock

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Last Saturday K and I went shopping at a Wegman's store. We don't go often as it is too far to travel every week just for groceries - even though we really like the store.

One of the more unusual things about the store is that they are able to sell beer. Pennsylvania law doesn't allow the sale of beer in most places except for bars and beer distributors and a few stores dedicated to selling beer. Yes. We do live in the dark ages here... Anyhoo - a couple locations of Wegmans are allowed to sell 6-packs and the one we go to is one of them.

K and I decided to each pick out a 6 pack of beer to buy as they have a nice selection of different types. K chose Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy and I went with Bell's Amber Ale.

Saturday evening, K decides to drink some of his beer and ends up drinking the entire 6-pack. I asked for a taste but I wasn't impressed so I only took a sip. I drank one of my beers. (and discovered that it is a really delicious beer! So good, I want to savor them.)

Sunday I had 2 more of my beers and K asked if he could have one. I pointed out that he could still have some of his left it he hadn't drank it all but allowed him to drink one of mine.

Last night I had one of the last 2 and went to bed early. I'm working a different job at work and I have to arrive at 5AM so 8:00 is my bedtime this week.

Just now, I went to pull out my last beer and... it's gone. Yeah. He drank my last beer -without asking. Worse, he's not the least bit sorry.

I am livid.

Perhaps I'm over-reacting. I haven't been sleeping well and my temper might be a bit quick but... I am not a happy camper.

What do you folks think? Am I over-reacting?

photo by Phil Parker

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Seven - August 14, 2011

Name seven gifts you’d really like to receive if tomorrow were Christmas morning.

I'm going to resist the urge to list abstract wishes for peace or ridiculous and unrealistic items. I want to try to list 7 items that it would be practical for me to receive. I wonder why it is that I find this really difficult to do. Here goes.

  1. An iPad. Yes. I know. I really, truly did not want to like these but... I really find that I want to own one the more I see them in use. I won't purchase one for myself, however.
  2. A Zen alarm clock. Yes, they are pricey, but I love the idea of waking up gradually instead of startling awake.
  3. A weather station. I'm not entirely sure why, but I am totally fascinated with the idea of being able to view the wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, barometric pressure and track the amount of rain fall in my little corner of the world. Perhaps I missed my calling and I should have gone into meteorology or something but the mere thought of owning something like the item I linked makes me giddy. The total lack of practicality combined with no real reason that I would need to own one prevents me from purchasing one nor even asking for one.
  4. Books. I have an Amazon wish list full of them. Lots of books. ;-)
  5. Shoes. Impractical ones, at that! As much as I love heels, I don't dress up enough to wear them often so it is really rather ridiculous for me to want to own more. This doesn't stop me from looking at them when I pass a shoe store, though.
  6. A GPS device for my car. I like the idea of having one of these when I am travelling alone. I hate having to follow written directions from Google Maps or such while I'm driving! It's dangerous, too!
  7. A gym membership that includes working with a trainer. I really need to lose weight and I have a severe lack of motivation. A trainer could probably get me going in the right direction and help out a great deal.
I answered the Sunday Seven question from Patrick's Place. You can join in, too!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Saturday Six! - August 13, 2011

1. Other than your computer or anything connected to it, what object is closest to you now? a tablet and a pen

2. Extend your right arm all the way to the side: what object is your hand closest to at that moment? the telephone

3. Same exercise with your left arm: what object is your left hand closest to at that moment? my dog, Brooke

4. What book is closest to you now? I'm not going to count the phone book as a book - even though it technically is one. The next closest book is "The Snowball - Warren Buffett and the Business of Life" by Alice Schroeder

5. Other than your computer, what electronic gadget is closest to you now? Hmm... the satellite (TV) box.

6. And now, an old-school writing question: how many pencils and pens are within reaching distance of you right this minute? 3 pens. No pencils because I hide my good mechanical pencils so no one walks off with them. ;-)

These are my answers to Patrick's Saturday Six! Pop on over and join in! Anyone can do this! :)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Blog Hop!!

Click the button below and join the hop! :)

Lots of Lovin' Weekend Blog Hop

Friday Fill-Ins!

I've found another Friday meme that I'm going to try this week: Friday Fill-Ins we go!

1. The only question is why not?

2. Not enough hours in one day.

3. Three things on my desk: coffee cup, box of tissues, a small stuff chicken that crows when you squeeze its wing.

4. Finish up work is the one thing I HAVE to do today!

5. I love playing with my granddaughter!

6. The detergent/fabric softener isle at the grocery store overwhelms the senses.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to watching football, tomorrow my plans include housework and grocery shopping and Sunday, I want to watch Big Brother! (It's my weakness. It's the only show I watch on TV right now!)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Alphabe-Thursday! The letter Q!

Quicksilver - otherwise known as mercury - is an amazing element!
On the periodic table, it's symbol is HG. (for hydrargyrum which is Greek for water silver)

I've been fascinated by mercury ever since I broke a mercury thermometer when I was young. (I was trying to shake down the mercury to take my temperature and I accidentally dropped it. It shattered on our hardwood floor and I remember corralling the beads of mercury into one large bead before my mother caught me playing with it.)

Some facts about mercury:
  • A compound containing mercury was used by hat makers from the mid-18th century until the mid-19th century to separate the fur from a pelt. The expression "mad as a hatter" came about because of the psychological symptoms of mercury poisoning which many hatters suffered from due to the toxic vapors they inhaled!
  • Lewis and Clark took liberal doses of a laxative called Dr. Rush's Billious Pills - which were about 50% mercury - on their travels. To this day, one can follow their trail by following the um... heavy metal deposits left behind.
  • Mercury was named after the Roman god of the same name.
Of course, mercury is highly toxic so one must be careful when handling it!

photo by p. Gordon

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I've been following coverage of the riots in the UK this week. (note: There is a photo journal here that I found particularly poignant) It has me thinking of the reasons that people riot in the first place.

One of my online friends lives in England - but thankfully not in a city affected by the riots - and he states that the rioting has absolutely nothing to do with the initial shooting of a young man by the police. Most commentators seem to agree.

I've read an article from an Irish paper where possible reasons for the riots are discussed. It points out that the rioters are mostly young people, then lists possible reasons for them to riot:
  • The rioters feel as if they are not a part of the community
  • A general feeling of malcontent
  • The widening gap between rich and poor
  • Racial inequality
That fact that these situations also exist here in the US has me wondering if - with the proper instigation - it could happen here in the US!

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

So... my daughter and I received a revised statement from the school where she is enrolled and planning to start in the fall. (October, actually. Her school has an odd schedule.)

Due to the changes in how much financial aid is available, I will have to get a loan of over $20,000 to cover the tuition not paid by grants and student loans. That's twice what we were looking at originally.

I don't know how I'm going to swing this. I really don't.

I'm not sure what to do, either. I don't want to tell my daughter that she cannot pursue her dreams.

The initial estimate was around $9000 total that I'd have to worry about. That didn't seem bad. We're now looking at twice that much and... while I'm sure I can get a loan to cover it, I'm concerned about how it is going to get paid off.

See - I grew up in a family of 5. My parents knew they could not afford to pay for college for us and let us know that it was our responsibility to do so if we wanted to seek higher education. That was before the prices went sky high, of course. Student loans covered my tuition back then. Now days they don't cover very much.

As a single mother of 3, I let my girls know that I would help them out as much as possible but that their education was something that they were ultimately responsible for paying for.

My oldest daughter waited until she was married, then went to night school to become a nursing assistant. My middle daughter is attending a state university to get a degree in education. She attended a local community college for her first two years to cut down on expenses and is living at home and commuting to the state university. Now we come to my youngest. She wants a degree in film editing and multimedia. We found a school that seemed perfect but it is expensive. They did a financial rundown and told us upfront that there was $9000 not covered by grants and loans. I figured it was worth it. It really is an excellent school. Then both the federal government and our state government slashed the funding to grants and student loans and... we're looking at $20000.

And all I can think is how the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer. It's going to get to the point that the only people who can afford higher education are the rich. Something has got to change, people.

photo by David Beyer

Monday, August 8, 2011

I do not sleep well. I generally do not have a problem falling asleep, but I often wake during the night and find myself unable to get back to sleep right away.

I should clarify this. I do not have this happen every night. I do seem to go through cycles of sleeplessness, though. They can last up to a week or so, then will pass and come back after another week. I'm not sure if this is enough to make me a chronic insomnia sufferer or not. It isn't often enough to make me mention it to my doctor. I have, however, looked online for helpful tips.

Here are several tips I've found online:
  1. Keep a regular sleep schedule. You should go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  2. Make sure you are getting enough sleep. Adults need between 7 and 9 hours a night.
  3. Use your bedroom only for sleeping and sex. Do not work in the bedroom or watch TV.
  4. Pay attention to what you eat or drink. Limit caffeine, especially later in the day. Don't eat right before bedtime but don't go to bed hungry. Don't drink alcohol before bedtime. It can make it easier to fall asleep but can cause you to awaken during the night.
  5. Make sure your bedroom is comfortable! It should be cool and dark and your bed, itself, should be comfortable.
  6. Try to establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Maybe a warm bath followed by 1/2 hour of reading. If your mind tends to race when you're trying to get to sleep, try sitting down and writing what is on your mind 20 minutes before bed. Then set it aside and tell yourself that you are ready to sleep - then go to bed.
I try to follow these but have a rough time with number one. I do tend to want to sleep in on the weekends and stay up a bit later. I might be working against myself with that. I think I will mention something to my doctor next time I go in for a check-up. She might have some more helpful ideas.

photo by twob

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Seven - August 7, 2011

This week's Sunday Seven question is: Name seven topics that tend to bring the most comments to your blog.

Well... I have two blogs, actually. One (this one) I use to respond to memes. The other I touch on different topics or things going on in my life. I'll answer this question using my experiences from both new blogs and what I recall from my years of blogging on Xanga.

1. Politics. I think, generally speaking, when I talk about politics or the government I will get comments. I love when we can get a respectful dialogue going in the comments with people from different points of view chiming in.
2. Pets. People love to hear funny stories about my dog and they many times will respond with a comment or a story about their own animal.
3. Anecdotes about work/co-workers. Most people can relate to some extent to these and have their own stories to tell, as well.
4. Children/grandchildren. People love to hear about children from the cute things they do or say to their accomplishments.
5. Gardening. Oddly enough even non-gardeners have a lot to add when I discuss my vegetable or flower gardens.
6. Vacations/traveling. I recall this from my previous blog. People loved to hear all about places we visited and talk about their experiences, as well.
7. Internet memes. I do get a lot of comments when I participate in internet memes. Most of these memes do not require people to visit others who participate (though some do) but it is a good way to meet different people. I find that if I comment on another blog, I'll generally get a visit from the owner and many times will get a comment.

Sunday Stealing: The Nasty 31 Meme, Part One

1. What has been you longest love relationship? My current relationship, I guess. We've been together 13 years.

2. What was the last gift that you received? Good question. I guess it was last Christmas. My girls bought me a DVD.

3. What do you spend your extra cash on? Extra cash? *chuckles* Well, when there is extra cash, I guess I'd sooner spend it on books than anything else! I have bought some music from iTunes on occasion, too!

4. If you could live anywhere would you live? I'm not sure! I really, truly love Vermont but I'm not sure I'd like the winters there. I'm totally enamored with the UK but I don't know if I'd like to live there!

5. Who's your cell provider? AT&T

6. What's your favorite mall store? It used to be Borders but they went out of business and there is no other bookstore in the mall. How about Bath and Body Works?

7. What's the longest job that you've had? (No parenting does not count!) My present job. I've been with this company for 14 years in various positions.

8. If you won the lottery, who'd you call first? Hmm... My mother? I don't really know...

9. If you won, how would you spend your money after investments? I'd travel. And I'd probably buy a small cabin in the mountains for a vacation home.

10. When was the last time you went to church (or a religious house)? Just a couple weeks ago. Our family reunion was held in the Fellowship Hall of the church I grew up going to.

11. What's the biggest lie that you've heard? I'm not even sure how to answer this one.

12. When you go out with your friends, where do you go? We generally go out to eat or to a show or movie.

13. When was the last time that you cried? Earlier today. I'm still mourning the death of a friend and I was reminded how much I miss him this morning.

14. What food do you hate? I don't think I hate any food. I'm not very fond of brussel sprouts, though.

15. What do you like best about yourself? My ability to get along with a wide range of people.

This is the Sunday Stealing meme this week. Feel free to steal it from me and have fun!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Saturday 9: I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight

1. Have you ever lost a lover and spent way too much time wondering what they were doing? Hmm... Oddly enough, though you'd think it'd be human nature, no. I don't think I have.

2. What was your favorite vacation ever? This is easy. It was our camping trip to Vermont several years ago! We had such a good time and I love how beautiful it is up there!

3. Do you like surprises? If yes, what kinds? Or are you one of those people who absolutely has to know what's going on before it happens? Well... I guess I like surprises alright. I don't like when I find out ahead of time, though, because I hate having to act surprised. This happens more often than not, I'm afraid. I just think folks around me aren't very good at keeping secrets!

4. Have you ever written a poem? Feel free to share one. Or even a dirty limerick is OK. Um.. no. Other than the poetry we had to write in school, I've not written poetry. (Nor am I likely to!)

5. Did anything interesting show up in your mail lately besides the bills? Interesting? No. I'm afraid not. Just "junk" and that is rarely interesting.

6. How many of your friendships have lasted more than ten years? Which of your current friends do you feel will still be important to you ten years from now? Family members don't count. Well... I have several online friends I've known for over 10 years.

7. Do you own a pet? If so, do you buy them presents for holidays? Do you consider your pet(s) spoiled? If you don't own one, do you think you will one day? We have a dog named Brooke. She is spoiled rotten thought we don't tend to buy her gifts for different occasions. We're more likely just to stop and buy her something when we feel like it.

8. It's Friday afternoon and you're planning your weekend. What's on your agenda on a hot August night? I had no real plans for this weekend. We had my fiance's parents and his aunt and uncle over for dinner today but that is it.

9. What's your worst nervous habit? I don't think I really have one that I can think of...

This is the Saturday 9 from this site!
K's cousin's son is getting married and we received an invitation in the mail this past week.

No, the invitation is not to the wedding. It is to the open house reception. The invitation was on a post card and there is nothing about an RSVP. We are not, I guess, invited to the ceremony itself.

I'm not sure whether to be insulted or not.

Perhaps this is the "latest thing" in weddings but it just seems a little tacky to have an open house reception. I've just never heard of such a thing. I don't believe this is an attempt to save money, by the way, as the reception is being held at the country club - and that is not a cheap venue.

I guess we'll be expected to give the couple a gift. :-/

Does anyone have any idea what would be expected in this situation? I'm sort of baffled!

photo by in_pastel

Saturday Six! - August 6, 2011

1. How many social media networks do you belong to at the moment? I was unsure how to define "social media" so I'm using this definition:
The term social media refers to the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.
Alright, then. I'll say 4. Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Xanga - though I really don't blog there any more but I do go there to interact with people. I'm not including Blogger as I think of it as a blogging platform but it really doesn't do much to encourage interaction between the users. (unless I'm using it wrong...)

2. How many social media networks have you joined, then stopped using because you didn’t care for their setup or operation? There are two that I can think of: LiveJournal and MySpace.

3. Which social media network do you use the most? I'm on Facebook almost all day - but Google + is starting to gain more of my attention. I tweet sporadically.

4. ?Take the quiz: Are You Facebook, MySpace or Twitter? Results: You are Facebook.

You are interested in your friends' lives, and you enjoy adding your opinion to the mix.
While you enjoy sharing online, you don't want everyone to know your business.
You value your privacy. Your life is an open book to those you know but not to strangers.

5. How do you feel about geotagging networks like FourSquare, where users can post their current locations: cool idea or security risk? They can be a security risk - if you post your results on Twitter or Facebook and aren't careful about who can view those things. I have joined FourSquare and I use it occasionally when I go out and have a couple of friends who do, too. It's sort of neat to see where your friends are and let them know where to find you.

6. If you know a company that you do a lot of business with is on a social network that you belong to, are you more likely to “friend” or “like” them? Um, maybe. It depends on the network and how I think I come off on that network.

These are my answers to this week's Saturday Six over at Patrick's Place.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday's Fave Five

I came across this at Living to Tell the Story and I thought I'd participate this week! We are to list 5 favorite things from our past week. Here goes!

1. A "real" day off. I have a vacation day from work today and I've made no real plans! They'll be no running around and just a tiny bit of housework but I the rest of the time I'll do as I please! Just a nice, lazy day to catch up with friends online and maybe write a letter or two if I take the time.

2. First corn-on-the-cob of the season. We found some delicious ears of salt and pepper corn at a local store this week. We soaked it in water and cooked it on the grill in the husks. It tasted like summer!

3. Not so hot days. I'm so glad that the heat died down just a bit this week! It's been over 90 degrees and humid for weeks with little or no rain. This week saw some days in the 80s and some rain! My grass is starting to look a little healthier and if this keeps up, we'll have to mow it soon!

4. The groundhog under the shed. Yes. This is an odd addition. Let me explain: We have a dog named Brooke who is probably the worst couch potato you've ever seen! She's not overweight as we're very careful about that but... she's not very active and I worry about this. Earlier this week, I let her outside to "do her business" and she spotted a groundhog down near the shed. Well! She took off running toward it and it turned around and disappeared under the shed! Ever since she spotted that groundhog, my Brooke runs outside and races down to inspect the area around the shed every time we let her out. I'm sure the groundhog is long gone (K looked and could find no sign of it) but Brooke is on the job! She spends a lot of time racing from one side of the shed to the other so she is certainly getting her exercise!

5. Meeting new online friends. I've been getting to know some new people online recently - most through participating in memes like this one! It's wonderful to get to know people from all over the world online and I'm grateful for all my friends - new and old.
Earlier this week K came home and asked me to help him go online to apply for a full-time job at the location where he now works.

[Background: K works as a temporary worker at a local company. When a company hires temp workers, there is a contract signed which tells them how long they must wait to hire the person full-time if they wish to do so. The employee is not actually employed by the company where he or she works, but employed by the temp agency.* K has worked through the temp agency for quite some time and long enough that he was asked to apply to work full-time.]

He came home yesterday to tell me that the company has told him that he is now hired. I rejoiced! Finally he can have medical insurance! "Not so fast", I was told. It seems he was hired by the company as a "seasonal employee". Now this is not the type of job that one would traditionally call seasonal so I was confused. It seems that, back in January when K was hired as a temp worker at this place, the company also hired some employees who they called "seasonal". Those "seasonal" workers - the ones who worked out - are now being hired full-time. There are now "seasonal" positions open so that is what K and some others are being hired as.

The company is probably not paying any more than they were for these workers when they were temp workers - though K will be making $1 more an hour - because the company still doesn't have to provide benefits for "seasonal" employees.

Yeah. Sounds like there is some sort of poorly-worded legislation which allows companies like this to take advantage of people, doesn't it? I'm sure it's entirely "legal" but it sure seems unethical to me! As it stands, I will be checking into the PA labor laws because I smell a rat here and it wouldn't hurt to check!

I had really hoped that K could finally get some health insurance but it looks like this won't be happening for at least another 6 months until he is hired full-time. The worst part is there is absolutely nothing we can do about it except continue to hope that he stays well and uninjured!

*Some companies like to hire temp workers because if they don't like a worker - for any reason at all - they can tell the temp agency not to send that person back. There are some other obvious benefits, too, such as not having to pay for benefits for these workers and such. Of course the worker can request to be placed on another job if he or she wishes so there are some cons, as well, though I really believe the company makes out better in this situation.

photo by Jakes_World

Thursday, August 4, 2011

So, I mentioned that K and I went to a shopping mall the other evening. I noticed something while I was there and I wonder if this is something that just I have experienced or if others have had this happen, as well.
While walking through the mall - or into a store - there is often a salesperson who is looking for someone to engage in conversation. They want to squirt a free sample of lotion on your hands or have you sample something. You know what I mean.

Well, in the past, I would avoid these people by not making eye contact with them. If I didn't look at them, they'd leave me alone. Well. Somewhere along the way it appears that the rules have changed! Twice while I was walking down the mall a person from one of the kiosks in the middle approached me and tried to get my attention. The first one screamed to me about have I ever tried straightening my hair and the second one tried to squirt some sort of lotion onto my hand!

I was flabbergasted!

What happened to the unspoken rule that if I do not make eye contact with you, you leave me alone?!? Can't I walk in the mall without being accosted by salespeople? I realize I don't get out much but could someone please tell me when did the rules change and why wasn't I told?!?

This is yet another reason to avoid the mall!

Alphabe-Thursday! The letter P!

I am participating in Alphabe-Thursday from Jenny Matlock this week and the letter is P! One of my favorite summer flowers is the petunia. I am particularly fond of the striped ones - as shown in the picture.

I generally have a lot of decorative containers hanging on my porch or setting around the porch or patio. I also have a flower garden. So, I've lots of opportunities to use petunias as a summer decoration.

This year we had a horribly wet spring up here in Pennsylvania so I really didn't plant anything in my garden. I've allowed the perennials to take over and it really doesn't look as bad as you'd think. The containers are a different matter, however. Most of them never were brought out of the basement after the winter was over but there are several larger containers which stay out over the winter and those are embarrassing bare.

I have to admit that I'm a little ashamed that I didn't hop to it and get things planted once I was able to this year - even if it wasn't until mid-June before I could. It is too late to worry about this now, however! I will simply have to try to do better next year. I miss the splashes of summer color that usually decorate my front porch!

Photo by Lewis Collard.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I was not surprised when Congress passed the bill to increase the debt limit yesterday. I was displeased that it was drawn out as long as it was. I was disappointed with the bill they ended up passing. I was discouraged by the negative vote on the bill by one of my Senators. I was not, however, surprised by any of this. I figured something would be passed at the last minute.

I was not surprised, either, that - despite all the talk from our Senators and Representatives about how important jobs are in this economy and despite pleas from the administration that they act and despite the fact that this is going to cause a loss of $1.2 billion in tax revenue - that the Congress failed to extend FAA funding before heading home yesterday.

I am not surprised because Congress is consistently inconsistent.

Now, to be fair, I get that our representatives are worn out from the last minute haggling and deal-making concerning the debt limit. I really do. But seriously. Do these people think that their jobs are supposed to be stress-free? Of course they aren't. That is why they are paid decently to do their jobs.

So, in short: I'm disgusted but not the least bit surprised. Sounds like Congress is operating their business as usual to me.

photo by Sean MacEntee

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

How many of me?

This is fun! I used my actual first name, not the nickname people generally use for me and got this result:
LogoThere are
people with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

There are 1882 if I use my nickname for my first name.

I use my iPod as my alarm clock. Why I do so is another story for another day.

Yesterday when it went off I found that the touch screen would not respond to my touch. I went online and tried everything they suggested to fix this but nothing worked. The only alternative was to contact support.

I mentioned the problem to K after work yesterday and he suggested that we go to the Apple Store. The closest Apple Store is 30 miles away and it was a work night but if you know K, you know that we had to go right then!! So... yeah. *rolls her eyes* Off we went.

Upon arrival at the store, one of the employees tried a couple things that I had already tried, but... I know. They have to go through the process. Then they reinstalled my software. It was not a software problem. After asking me twenty times if I got it wet (I did not get it wet) and peering inside the with a light to determine that I did not get it wet (*sighs*) they told me that they would set me up with an appointment with someone from the Genius bar.

In an hour. Yeah.

So... we walked around the shopping center. K bought a new pair of slippers. I got blisters on my feet. Finally we returned to the store for our appointment.

In short, since my iPod was less than a year old, I now have a new iPod - free of charge. I still need to sync it with my computer to get everything back on it, but yeah. I have a new one.

Don't get me wrong. I'm happy I have a new iPod. I really am. Overjoyed, even. I felt like someone chopped off my arm without it! I did not appreciate losing my entire evening to the process of obtaining a new one, though. But yeah. No biggie.

Monday, August 1, 2011

So, I had the day off last Friday. Before I left Thursday, I made sure that all my work was caught up. My desk was neat and tidy and the only paperwork left were for issues that I was unable to resolve until this week.

I arrived at the office today to discover a couple piles on the blotter in front of my monitor, a couple papers on top of my calculator and some mail in my in-box.

What I cannot understand is why all the paperwork was not placed in my in-box. Do people think that I won't see it there? Are they under the impression that the paperwork they are giving me is more important and needs to be the first thing I see on my arrival? Seriously! What gives?

Ah, well... I suppose no system is perfect. Perhaps next time I am off a day, I'll make a new label for my in-box to ensure that it is obvious what it's purpose is.