Thursday, January 31, 2008



Here are some pictures for you.




This is the baby blanket I just finished that I mentioned before. Seriously, if anyone wants it, let me know. It is free, and the shipping is free.



This is the fantastic sunset as seen from my office window - I was too lazy to go downstairs and outside.

So far at work today I have

  • filed my taxes
  • bought a photograph on line
  • paid my student loan
  • watched a ton of YouTube videos of the Animaniacs
  • paid for a couple of ebay purchases, including some alpaca wool yarn
  • listened to it rain
  • watched a fantastic sunset

I have not, however, accomplished any actual work. The proposal from hell will hopefully be killed, and I don't want to do too much rearranging and crying unless I have to.

The carhop at Sonic broke my sideview mirror this morning. She leaned on it and it broke. I had to physically hold it on while I drove to work this morning. I'll tape it before I drive home.

The sunset tryly is spectacular, though. I should go take some pictures.

Your Political Education for Today

courtesy of the Animaniacs:


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Haiku

Two work hours remain.
 
I may not live to the end.
 
Bored and Frustrated.

This is the blanket I made for co-workers baby (his wife had their baby on Friday). It looks weird because I cropped the baby out.


If anyone out there would like a handmade baby blanket, I just finished another one last night. I'm on a roll. This one is multi-colored in bright colors and about 36x38 inches, give or take an inch or two. I'll post a picture tonight. I have another one in progress that is very similar to the one above except that it is blue.
Oh, it's totally free if you are interested. I just like to crochet because it keeps me busy at night and lets me avoid working on the Great American Novel and the Greater American Novel. And baby blankets are more interesting than scarves and take less time than full-sized afghans.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Can cats have post-partum depression? Because I think Gray Cat has it.

She was always the more aloof one, hesitant to approach people, but grateful for the food. But since she had her babies (which I have now seen with my own eyes - they are adorable), she has been much friendlier with people.

Lately, though, she has been really needy. Every time I step outside, she's rubbing on my legs. She even lets me pet her now. Then yesterday, she was scratching madly on my window despite the fact that I put out plenty of food and water. I got up to see what the problem was, but there wasn't one. She didn't even try to get in when I opened the door. She just wanted me to watch her walk around, lay down, and eventually go over and eat some food. So I did for a few minutes, then I went back in. She was content from then on out.

Then when I left this morning, I petted her for a minute, but then I had to leave for work. She sat there looking up at me with sad eyes, and kind of trilled at me (I don't know cats, so I didn't know this sound. It wasn't a meow, though, and it wasn't a purr or a cry. I don't have a better description than trilling). I felt bad.

That's when I decided that she must be depressed. And since she had babies, and they are apparently weaned now (they have been eating the food the neighbor puts out, which means that Gray Cat and Brown Cat have been eating the food that I put out like there is no tomorrow), she must have post-partum depression.

She really is a sweet little cat. I might try to own her for real if I wasn't allergic.

Brown Cat, on the other hand, makes me nervous. She looks like she is one step away from deciding to rip your throat out in your sleep. And she is quite demanding, too.

Monday, January 28, 2008

So I'm watching the State of the Union Address because...well, because I don't have cable, really.

The president wants to provide over $300 Million in "Pell Grants for Kids" for private school tuition.

I have a problem with that.

Here in Baton Rouge, our public schools are literally falling down around the students. That is not exaggeration. At the elementary school my church sponsors, the men in the congregation volunteer all summer long to do necessary maintenance because the school district won't pay for it. We're talking about things like fixing leaking plumbing, replacing ceiling tiles, and repairing broken floor tiles, not just things like painting.

Yet the private schools are thriving, and building brand new buildings, even the ones in the inner city.

Yet our fearless leader wants to give them more federal tax money, instead of giving it to our "failing public schools" (those are his words, by the way).

What is wrong with this picture?

Now, I'm not against the government giving money to private and faith-based organizations. In fact, for social services, I think they should, providing those organizations don't proseltyze or discriminate. Those organizations can frequently do a better job of providing social services at a much better rate than the government.

But when our free public schools are not able to educate our children effectively because they just don't have the money for things like maintenance and books, taking money away from them and giving to to private schools is not the answer.

Thank God we have less than 12 months left of that man. Of course, I'm afraid of what might come next.

Stupid Modern Medicine

So, after upping my dosage of thyroid medicine, I had my TSH level checked last week. My doctor called today, and my level has now moved into slightly hyperthyroid on my current dosage of thyroid replacement medicine. She asked me if I was feeling jittery or if my heart was racing or anything, and I told her I feel the best I've felt since my surgery. Despite that, she decided to lower my dosage, and "we'll see how [I] feel in May and go from there."

Shouldn't there be a better way to determine these things than trial and error?

huh

Well, today we were awarded a project I wrote the proposal for, one I was totally expecting us not to win. I'm pretty damned proud of me.

Of course, the proposal I'm currently working on is utter crap and has no chance to be anything but utter crap.

You win some, you lose some, I guess.

Next apartment I have will have washer/dryer hookups, or even, dare I dream, a washer and dryer in the unit.

Three out of the eight washer in the laundry room in my building are out of order. One will only let you use hot water, one has the coin slot jammed, and one stopped working before the rinse cycle - the water drained from the wash, and that was it. I went to put my laundry in the dryer, and it was sopping wet and covered with suds. Thank goodness I took extra coins with me.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

An Open Letter

To the woman with red hair at Whole Foods this afternoon:

First of all, I'm really glad you have enough confidence in yourself and your body to wear clingy purple velvet minidress, fishnet stockings, and knee-high, spike heel leather boots to the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon. It takes guts to do that when you are in your mid-40's.

But a word of advice from one woman to another? When you drop something and have to pick it up, don't spread your legs and bend over at the waist to do it, thus showing everyone standing behind you that you chose to wear baby blue granny panties underneath your fishnets, and that you don't believe in waxing your bikini area.

Otherwise, carry on.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Your Score: Older Futhark


You scored



Language of the Norse, Older Futhark! Thirty symbols, all told. And no hardier, more warrior-like tongue has ever graced the longships of the Viki or left the Celts and Saxons in such quivering fear. There's only one drawback, that being you died 800 years ago.

Link: The Which Ancient Language Are You Test written by imipak on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test
View My Profile(imipak)

Friday, January 25, 2008

I'm having one of those weeks at work where I am essentially in a holding pattern. The proposal I'm working on will be written one way if we decide to do one thing and another way if we don't, and I can't do my parts until that decision is made. Plus, it's a really frustrating proposal either way.

So, I think I have surfed out the known internet. I have completely run out of my usual suspects for reading when things get bored. Either people aren't updating, or there is nothing interesting out there, or whatever. It makes for a very long day.

So, World, here is your opportunity to share some of your favorite spots on the web with me, and by extension, everyone else because I'll post a list. My interests are huge and varied, and I'm willing to try something new (within reason).

Post your links in my comments, and I'll compile them for the world at large (after I check them out, of course - nothing obscene or NSFW, please).

Stupid Dilemma

I'm trying to decide if I should buy a heavier coat. A catalog I order form sometimes has all their coats on clearance right now, and there are some nice ones at good prices. The problem is that it is really only cold enough here to require something heavier than my sweatshirt about..15-20 days out of the year. I don't plan to travel north in the winter...well...ever. But when it gets cold here, it is really cold, and it's a damp, biting kind of cold.

Sigh. What a stupid thing to be worrying about.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Class Meme

This one came from LutherPunk, though I've seen it elsewhere, too.

Bold the ones that are true.

1. Father went to college

He went two years on the GI Bill, but they were pushing him to major in business, which he hated, so he quit and went to work tending bar.

2. Father finished college

3. Mother went to college

4. Mother finished college

I'm the only one on my mom's side to have even attended college, let alone finished

5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor

two cousins who are attorneys

6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers.

7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.

One thing my parents never skimped on

8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home.

9. Were read children’s books by a parent

By both parents, actually. That's one of my favorite early memories.

10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18

Had one year of classical guitar before we came to the realization that if I still couldn't tune my own guitar after a year, I was never going to be able to play very well. My parents paid for lessons partially in trade (mom cleaned the teacher's studio)

11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18

12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed postively

13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18

14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs

15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs

My parents couldn't afford to do much more than give me a little spending money every now and then. The federal government, state government, private scholarships, Gannon grants and scholarships, and lots and lots of loans paid for my college costs.

16. Went to a private high school

17. Went to summer camp.

Girl Scout camp the summer before 5th grade for one week

18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18

No, but I tutored other kids to pick up a little extra cash

19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels

I vaguely recall one vacation to Sea World in Cleveland when I was around 4 where we stayed in a motel for at least a couple days of the trip (we stayed with relatives for the rest), and I have pictures of a trip we took to Hersheypark when I was probably about 2 - I assume that involved a motel, too. But since we didn't take any vacations at all after I was 5 or 6, I'm not bolding this one.

20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18

21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them

22. There was original art in your house when you were a child

If you count my uncle's paint-by-numbers, which I do. They were huge paintings, and they had to take him a good long while to complete.

23. You and your family lived in a single-family house

Yes, if you count a townhouse. They bought it (thanks to the VA) when I was 18 months old.

24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home

If you count two mortgages as owning

25. You had your own room as a child

Benefit of being an only

26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18

27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course

28. Had your own TV in your room in high school

29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college

I'm lucky I had a savings account!

30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16.

First time I flew I was 23. I went with my mother to Milwaukee for her surgery.

31. Went on a cruise with your family

Does the Gateway Clipper county? No?

32. Went on more than one cruise with your family

33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up

Yep. The advantage of living in Andrew Carnegie's city - a fantastic natural history and art museum he founded that had low cost admission.

34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family

I knew how much we paid on the budget plan for gas every month, and I knew why there were afghans and blankets all over the house in the winter.


11/34 - 32%.


Not sure what the significance of this is. I can tell you that we always struggled with money. I got free lunches in high school. I was only able to go to a Catholic elementary school because my parents were able to pay part of the tuition in trade (and because the pastor gave them a break even beyond that). I wore hand-me-downs (getting uniforms in 7th grade was the best thing that ever happened to me). I didn't even get my drivers license in high school, and I rode the bus everywhere.

But, at the same time, by parents cherished me and made sacrifices for me. I had books as a kid, though most came from library sales and second-hand shops. My parents read to me and with me for as long as I can remember. I went to pre-K, which studies are showing now is important for future academic success (and it was another place that I had a Presbyterian influence in my life). I played sports (badly) and had guitar lessons (sooo not a success). I took summer classes in things I was interested in at Buhl Planetarium (now Carnegie Science Center) and the Community College of Allegheny County (paid for in part by the principal and pastor from my elementary school - which I didn't know until much later). Ever since I started reading on my own when I was around 4, it was just assumed that I'd go to college and that we'd figure out how to make that work when the time came. And that's what we did.

Here's what I think. How much money your family does or doesn't have doesn't matter a whole lot. What matters is what you do with what you have. We couldn't go on overnight vacation, but my parents took me to every historical site, museum, etc. that was within day trip distance and wasn't too expensive. I saw symphonies, operas, and plays by getting free tickets to dress rehersals. I watched the news with my parents and we discussed it. Heck, one of my first memories of politics was reading about the 1976 presidental elections with my dad. I think I was the only kid in my kindergarten class who even knew what an election was, let alone who was running and what their platforms were. We made liberal use of Mr. Carnegie's libraries.

Now, would I have been better off if my parents had had the money to pay for me to go on school trips, learn to play violin, and wear clothes that didn't get me teased? Maybe. But if I had to sacrifice any of my parents' love, atttention, and even discipline to get those things, I wouldn't do it. I even think I would have said that back when I was a kid, when I didn't have a TV or a phone in my room, or a car, or tickets to every concert that came to town.

I guess my point is that what matters the most is what parents' give of their time, and love, and attention, not what they give of their wallets.

I'll explain ths in the AM

If I remember anything about the dream this is about.

To see opened doors in your dream, symbolizes your receptiveness and willingness to accept new ideas/concepts. In particular, to see a light behind it suggests that you are moving toward greater enlightenment/spirituality.

To see a cat in your dream, signifies much misfortune, treachery, and bad luck. However, for the cat lover, cats signifies an independent spirit, feminine sexuality, creativity, and power. If the cat is aggressive, then it suggests that you are having problems with the feminine aspect of yourself. If you see a cat with no tail, then it signifies a lost of independence and lack of autonomy.

Dream doors can have several meanings: An open door means a new opportunity while walking through a door means you will take it. A choice of many doorways represents a difficult decision you must make in real life. A locked door means someone is hiding things or is stopping you from doing something you want, especially if you were locked out of someplace. If you are locked in, you might have a change of location in your life.

Cats represent power, freedom and the animal self, especially for females. To dream of being a cat means you will triumph in an upcoming conflict. If you don't like cats, or you have an unpleasant experience with them in your dream, you are uncomfortable in some way with the more feminine side of your personality.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

We had a "daddy shower" today for a co-worker who is expecting his first child on Friday (his wife is being induced). We all chipped in and managed to get a boatload of stuff for them, and to buy a flock of chicks for a family in a developing country from Heifer.org in honor of his baby boy.

I went to that big, bricks and morter bookstore last night, the one that doesn't rhyme with orders, to get this book for him (the reason, by the way, is a very long story). I ended up buy two more books for him, too, and a stuffed tiger (or maybe tiger-striped cat - who knows?). One of the books I bought caught my eye because it was on the Valentine table in the children's section, and because the cover illustration is adorable. I looked for a daddy themed book so I could be balanced, but couldn't find one. Anyway, if you are a mother, or if you have a mother, or if you are married to a mother, go buy this book. It made me cry in that big book store that doesn't rhyme with orders. Of course, the fact that I am PMSing probably has something to do with that, but still. It is beautiful, and touching, and beautiful.

Don't you want this breed of dog?

I wonder if the name is indicative of its habits.

People, stop trying to make designer dogs and stop trying to come up with cute little names for them.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Interesting...

I didn't manipulate this at all, because I don't know that I know enough about where these various theologians stand to be able to do that (plus, there are some here I've never heard of).

I shouldn't be surprised, I guess. I've always identified with and admired Luther (yes despite my Roman Catholic upbringing and education), Anselm's influence is obvious with the academic theology angle (again, Catholic education) and Calvin...well, I've hung out with Presbyterians my whole life (Girl Scouts, Vacation Bible School, Youth Group, Kirk House). Something had to rub off.





Which theologian are you?
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Martin Luther

The daddy of the Reformation. You are opposed to any Catholic ideas of works-salvation and see the scriptures as being primarily authoritative.


Martin Luther


73%

Anselm


67%

John Calvin


67%

Friedrich Schleiermacher


47%

Augustine


40%

Karl Barth


40%

J├╝rgen Moltmann


33%

Jonathan Edwards


20%

Paul Tillich


20%

Charles Finney


7%


I just spelled the word "ember" out of partially eaten pretzels.

My parents would have been so proud.

The finally turned whatever it was that was making noise off at 8 o'clock this morning. Just in time for me to have to get up.

Sigh.

There is something wrong with the pool...thing in my complex. I don't know exactly what part of the pool it is, except that it is housed in a little shed right outside my door. It has been making a high-pitched sound all...night...long. I've gotten just a couple hours of sleep tonight, and that was interrupted. There are other lights on on my side of the building as well. I want $17 off my rent for next month for not being able to enjoy my apartment tonight.

Oh, and I spent an hour at Babies R Us tonight shopping for baby gifts for a coworker. An hour in that place cured me of ever wanting to have a baby ever. Well, at least until the next time I am feeling hormonal and old.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

It makes me sad that someone out there is using his or her English degree to write drivel like this.

This blog-having, sweatpants wearing, boring tale is going to bed now.

Election Report

I know, I know. I said I wouldn't get political much here. And this isn't about politics as much as it is about elections.

So far, in all the elections and caucuses (except for Iowa), the voter turn out for young voters has been less than 20%. That makes me angry.

I remember in the 1988 election, I was sooo angry that I missed being able to vote in the general election by 6 months. I couldn't wait to take part in the democratic process, no matter how flawed it may be. And then, for the next primary (which in non-presidential years is in May in PA), I was so excited that I got to vote. My birthday was a week before the elections. I don't think I've ever had a prouder moment than I did when I pulled those levers for the first time. John Heinz was the first person I voted for for US Senate.

This country is facing so many challenges. It's more important now even than it was 19 years ago to educate yourself about the issues and vote. Yet young people are staying away from the primary in droves. It's sad, really. And it makes me worry about the future of our country and our world.

Let me just say that the high today was 52. Tomorrow it is supposed to be 53. Monday 59. Tuesday? 72 freaking degrees!

I think that is what I dislike most about Baton Rouge. I don't mind that the temperatures are in the 90's from April until November. But give me one or two consistent months out of the year where the temperature stays below 70. I can't take all the shifting. I hate having the heat on one day and the A/C the next.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I Hate Hormones...

...and the way them make me feel in the middle of my cycle. I'm going to be useless most of the day, and I can't afford that today - I have a deadline.

Also, the $12 I spent for an electric kettle on ebay is the best money I have ever spent in my whole life.

That is all.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

In Other News...

The church was packed again today. Either people are keeping up with New Year's resolutions, church shopping to keep up with new years resolutions, and/or something good and positive is happening in my congregation. I choose to believe that it is a combination of all of those things. That makes me happy.

What doesn't make me happy is that family I've written about before. They used to sit closer to the front of the church, but either they are embarrassed by their children (unlikely, and I'll say why in a moment), or someone up there said something to them. I can't figure out why they come every week, and why they drag their kids every week. Maybe they are just biding time until the youngest gets confirmed (I think that's another couple years. The middle one is being confirmed next year). Regardless, I get the feeling every week that they would rather be somewhere else.

Today, for instance, the mother talked with the son (the oldest) about random things all through the entrance hymn. That really bothered me. It's one thing with the little kids, like the two sitting in front of me (first grade and probably 4 years old). But with a teenager? And the boy was in and out of the pew constantly during the service. Honestly, the girls sitting next to me, who are from a program for kids on the verge of being "troubled youth" are better behaved than this family's kids. And those girls only have the example of their counselor - their family lives are totally screwed up.

The middle girl, who will be confirmed in the next class, was serving as an acolyte today. She did everything she possibly could to draw attention to herself. That bothered me, too. When I was a kid, I would have given my right arm to serve at the altar, and she obviously doesn't want to and is just doing it because it is the easiest "service to the church" she can do for her confirmation requirement.

I know, I know. It isn't fair for me to judge. And I feel incredibly guilty for doing so. But I really, really don't know what to do. It is so hard for me to concentrate on the liturgy with the constant talking, moving, and text messaging going on behind me. I could sit elsewhere, but I like sitting in the back. I'm friends with the counselor from the youth program, and I like talking with those girls before and after services. And I like sitting right next to the choir because it is a little easier for me to find the right key that way (though some of those hymns are in such a high key, I'll never find it).

Part of me wants to say something, because maybe the don't realize how loud they are being, or that I can hear the kids' hitting their cell phone keys when they text their friends. But I don't think that would be a good thing. I don't want to offend them or drive them away, because maybe they are trying to get something out of worship. I don't know.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On the completely opposite end of the spectrum, I have to thank God for smacking me upside the head today.

I went to the grocery store tonight, and there was a guy outside begging. I initially ignored him. There are a lot of people begging in my neighborhood. I never give money, but I usually offer to buy them food. Even as I walked in the store, something in the back of my mind was saying to go ask him if I could buy him dinner. I ignored that something, did my shopping, and left. I ignored him again.

I was driving home when that voice inside my head said, "How can you sing about bearing Christ's name in church in the morning, and ignore one if His suffering children at night?" So I went back to the store, asked the guy if I could buy him some chicken, and when he said yes, I bought him some chicken (it was 8 pieces for $3.99 today, and it's cold enough outside that it'll keep for the night at least), some potato salad, and two bottles of water. It cost me the last few dollars in my checking account, but it was worth it to hear how much he appreciated being treated as human and respected, and it was worth it knowing I did the right thing, especially seeing that the guy was old, and obviously had some mental issues

I didn't write about this to boast to the world at large. I wrote about it to remind myself next time I get all self-involved that there is more going on in the world than my stupid problems. And to remind myself that if I am going to call myself a Christian, I had better do more than just saying I believe in justice for the poor, or saying that I need to reflect the light of Christ into the world. I need to actually do something about it.

Dear Baton Rouge Drivers,

I've ranted and railed about you before. I've even called you the worst drivers in the country. I've made my peace with that, however. I no longer expect you to stop at red lights or stop signs. I stopped looking for turn signals long ago. And I always drive now as though someone is going to cut me off or turn right in front of me when I have the right of way. I've even stopped expecting you to go the right direction in parking lots. I've embraced your horrible driving as just another endearing trait, like overt racism and valuing just about everything over your schools.

However, I have notice a terribly disturbing trend in recent weeks: rude parking.

What is rude parking? Well, it can take many forms. It might mean parking straight on in an angled parking space or vice versa, thus taking up two spaces. It might mean parking on or just over the line between spaces, thus taking up two spaces. It might mean not pulling far enough into a parking space and interfering with the driving lanes. Or parking in places that are clearly marked with yellow or red lines. Or using your grandpa's handicapped hanger thingy to park in a handicapped space, even though you are a perfectly able-bodied 18 year old. Or parking your Ford Behemoth pick up in a space that is clearly meant for normal sized cars, so that your back end blocks a driving lane completely, then leaving your monstrosity there for a week straight and counting. Or, in a new one one me, parking such that the intersection of four parking spaces is directly in the center of your car, thus taking up FOUR parking spaces (I witnessed this today at church).

But then there is my personal favorite: Parking so that your passenger side door is practically touching the driver side door of the car next to you, forcing the owner of that car to put it in neutral and push it out of the parking space because the owner of that car is not a tiny, little gymnast woman and cannot possibly climb over the center consol to get in through the passenger side because of the way her car is built. Then the owner of that car has to figure out how to let go in the front of the car and run around to the driver side to get in before the car rolls back into the space (thank you construction guys).

Ahem.

Folks, no one is asking you to give up your bad driving habits. Run red lights to your hearts' content (well, except at the intersections that have cameras now). Forget that you even have turn signals. That's fine. But folks, have some consideration for those of us who need to share parking lots with you. I know you worry about your baby having its paint scratched. But you know what? If you park right in between the yellow lines, and the cars on either side of you park right in between the yellow lines, no one's paint will get scratched.

Or maybe you are in a hurry. But you know what? The person who could have parked in that space next to you is in a hurry to. They also have a meeting they are running late for, and they don't want their boss to yell at them either.

Maybe you just have bad perspective. Get your eyes checked and get your astigmatism fixed.

I'm not asking for the world. I'm just asking us all to be considerate of each other, so we can take care of the very limited parking in our apartment buildings, office buildings, and shopping areas. We all know the city has grown. There are somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 more people here than there were eight years ago. There are growing pains that go along with that, and we all have to adjust.

Let's all make an effort in this one area, huh? Who know where it will lead? Maybe someone will use a turn signal every fourth or fifth turn.

Nah.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Heinous Historical Meme

OK. Here is the response to the Meme LP tagged me for. The thing that makes this so hard is that a "historical figure" could literally be anyone from my great grandfather to Julius Caesar. And I don't really have a favorite one. I thought about writing about St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and Roberto Clemente, and Joan of Arc. Instead, I've chosen to write about someone more modern that most of you probably haven't heard of.

But first the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. List 7 random/weird things about your favorite historical figure
3. Tag 7 more people at the end of your blog and link to theirs
4. Let the person know they have been tagged.

OK. Ready?

My person is Sr. Thea Bowman. I first encountered this woman in my Women in the Christian Tradition class in college (The only good thing to come out of that class is that I got to read about some remarkable women). I later encountered her again in this book of poetry, reflections, artwork and prayers about women in the Catholic church. The book was a little too...PC for my tastes (things like feminine references to the first person of the Trinity and the Holy Spirit, etc. I'm generally not a traditionalist when it comes to these things, but I like my references to God either masculine or neutral, and the Holy Spirit just neutral.), but the artwork was great and some of the biographical stuff was really interesting.

So seven things (not really random or weird)

1. Sr. Thea was born in Yazoo, MS, raised Methodist, and became a Roman Catholic at the age of 9 after her parents sent her to Catholic school because, after 5 years in the public school system, she still couldn't read (remember, segregated schools were still a reality in the South, and the schools for African Americans got virtually no funding or attention).

2. At the age of 15, she entered the convent for the order of the Sisters of Saint Francis of Perpetual Adoration. After a 16 year teaching career, the Bishop of Jackson, MS asked her to join his staff as a consultant for Intercultural Awareness.

3. Sister Thea spoke throughout the world on the subject of cultural sensitivity, religion, and faith. She was not an assimilationist, but rather believed that we should embrace our differences and learn from each other. In 1990, as she was approaching the end of her life, Sr. Thea was invited to speak at the U.S. Catholic Bishop's conference on Black Catholics. She challeged the Bishops to do more to celebrate the unique gifts and culture of African American Catholics. By the end of her talk, many of the Bishops and other clergy present were moved to tears.

4. In 1984, Sister Thea was diagnosed with breast cancer, that eventually spread into her bones. She prayed to, "to live until I die—to live fully," and she did, continuing to speak all over the world from a wheelchair (including at the aforementioned Bishops conference).

5. Sr. Thea had a special relationship with Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They met in 1985 at Viterbo College (now University), where both were receiving the Pope John XXIII award for Distinguished Service. They became fast friends, and as Sr. Thea's condition deteriorated, it was Rooney who have her her wheelchair, which she cristened her "Steeler-Mobile."

6. Sr. Thea was the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in Theology from Boston College. She was a strong advocate for education, and there are schools named in her honor throughout the country, especially in the South and in poor, inner city neighborhoods. There are also scholarship funds established in her name at Catholic Universities and diocese throughout the country designed to help young, struggling, African American students to continue their education.

Sister Thea also had a Ph. D. in English Literature, and her area of specialization was the works of William Faulkner.

7. The epitaph on her tombstone reads, "Sr. Thea, 1937-1990, She Tried."

There is currently a fairly active movement within the U.S. to advance her cause for Sainthood. I don't know where that is going at the moment, since Pope Benedict the (I can't remember his number) seems not as...enthusiastic about beatifying and canonizing as Pope John Paul II did.

If you want to read more about Sr. Thea, her order has several pages devoted to her here. And for LP, because I know you appreciate icons, here is an icon of her that one of the sisters in her order wrote.

As far as tagging goes...well, I'd sure like to see TG's, Amy's and Tim's answers.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

HA!

This is funny only for the very last line. And it is wrong, by the way - I'm a type O


Your Inner Blood Type is Type A

You seem cool and collected, though a bit shy.
You are highly driven and a perfectionist, but that's a side you keep to yourself.
Creative and artistic, you are a very unique person who doesn't quite fit in.
People accept you more than you realize, seeing you as trustworthy and loyal.

You are most compatible with: A and AB

Famous Type A's: Britney Spears and Hilter

Meme Time

OK. LP tagged me for a truly heinous meme that I am not going to do at this time since it involves actual thought and research. Instead, I am going to do the year in review meme that is floating around everywhere. For this one, you write the first line of the first post for each month of the preceding year. So here goes.

January:
Before you start wondering, I haven't forgotten my promised campaign post. (2008 Note - Yeah, I've abandoned my presidential campaign. Feel free to write me in, though, if you don't like any of the candidates left when your state's primary rolls around.)

February:
Well, if the fact that all I want to do is eat chocolate is any indication, the medicine to the...ahem...female things...going again is working. (2008 Note - UGH!)

March:
Hello, faithful readers. (2008 Note - Well, that's generic)

April:
This is one of the saddest things I have read in a long time. (2008 Note - there was a link there, but I don't know if it still works)

May:
I feel like crap, but I'm alive and home. (2008 Note - written one day after surgery)

June:
On my last post, LP asked what Eat'n Park was, and if it was similar to Sonic. (2008 Note - If you are wondering, it's not, anymore)

July:
Sigh. I've said it before and I'll say it again - my church really needs to move services to 11:05 instead of 11. (2008 Note - I still think this.)

August:
Can I just announce that I just got a 10% raise? (2008 Note - My paycheck still seems to vanish just as fast.)

September:
So, I never quite made it out of my jammies today. (2008 Note - I love those days!)

October:
Every blogger I read regularly is either having a baby or sending a kid off to kindergarten or college. (2008 Note - Change that to every person I know. Sigh. It's our own 21st Century Baby Boom!)

November:
Word to the wise: When you take a medication that acts on insulin and blood sugar (even when you don't take if for diabetes - I take it to keep my insulin levels under control and to keep my female hormones doing what they are supposed to do), it is a really, really bad idea to take it in the morning and not eat breakfast. (2008 Note - Still a bad idea.)

December:
My head is full of mucous, and I have so much fluid in my ears that I get dizzy when I turn my head. (2008 Note - Eeww)

Monday, January 07, 2008

I Guess I Spoke Too Soon...

Go Tigers!
Sorry Ohioans!

Ohio State Just Scored

It could be a long night.

I am never...

...going to a car dealership again. Ever. I mean it. I'll drive my little Plymouth until I can't drive it anymore and then I'll walk everywhere, or learn to ride a bike.

First of all, the salesman was fine, though he had me start signing papers before I was ready to sign papers. I loved the test drive - the Honda Fit is an awesome car for a little car.

Then I had to go talk to the finance lady. That's where everything went downhill. First of all, I'm pretty sure she included a bunch of stuff in the financing that I don't want, but she wouldn't show me an exact financed amount and how it broke out. She kept talking about extended warranties, and credit protection, and gap insurance. And while I definitely want gap insurance, I don't necessarily want it from Honda. What if my insurance company can give me a better rate? And I don't want the extended warranty. After 3 years, I'd rather take my chances, or purchase an extended warranty then.

So the numbers I was seeing were a whole lot more than I was anticipating, and I based that on a much higher interest rate than what was showing there (we're talking about $100 more a month). I could technically afford that payment, but I don't want to commit to something that is going to stretch me to the financial breaking point without some serious thought and consideration. I told the woman (and I use that term to be polite - I'd like to use something stronger), that I wasn't going to sign any finance papers today, that I really need to think about whether or not I can take on that much additional debt and still be secure enough to live. It's not like I was buying a cheeseburger at McDonald's, after all.

Well, that's when she started pressuring me. She started saying things like "What difference will a few more days make to your decision" and "What will change if you walk out of here with nothing and think about it" and "Look, you know you need a car - your's is useless. This is the best you are going to do. Just sign."

Well, I don't do well, when I am being pressured. I told her that I didn't appreciate the hard sell and that I was planning to go somewhere else. I also kinda started crying involuntarily. She left and went to get the salesman, who said that they didn't mean to pressure me, and that of course I could take some time to make a decision.

I felt so condescended to with the financing lady. I know I have blemishes on my credit report. That's what happens when you have medical bills and make $9 an hour. And I know I've never financed a car before. But that is no reason to treat me like I am stupid or a child. I am an adult. It is my money and my life. If I need time to make a decision that big, I need time. And frankly, if they want me to ever be a customer, they need to respect that.

I swear, I'd rather just keep putting the money in my piece of crap that to do that again. It was miserable, and I hated every second of it.

And I hate myself for being so weak as to cry in there because I felt pressured. This is why I should never do anything ever.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

This is Hilarious...

84% Chris Dodd
84% Dennis Kucinich
83% Mike Gravel
82% Barack Obama
80% John Edwards
80% Hillary Clinton
79% Joe Biden
69% Bill Richardson
43% Rudy Giuliani
31% John McCain
27% Ron Paul
23% Mike Huckabee
23% Tom Tancredo
21% Mitt Romney
12% Fred Thompson

2008 Presidential Candidate Matching Quiz

Oh, and I discovered why Louisiana didn't move it's primary up to Super Tuesday - this year, that falls on Mardi Gras. We love our politics, but we love our parties more!

So Far...

...I'm 1-for-1 with making it to church in 2008. Not bad, considerng I woke up at 10:15, services are at 11, and it takes right around 15 minutes to drive there.

Not much to say about that, though I have to observe again that we Germans love the Epiphany. The church was even more packed than it was at Christmas - even at the early service. I'm pretty sure I've never seen it that full before, except at Easter. There wer a lot of new faces, too, including a couple of African American families. That makes me happy. I always wanted to belong to a diverse and integrated congregation, like the one my friend Amy belongs to in Pittsburgh. That little congregation looks and feels nothing like a typical Presbyterian congregation, which in my opinion is a good thing (sorry to my Presbyterian brothers and sisters - I would say the samething about most mainline denominations).

Anyhow, what I wanted to talk about today was Respect Life Month (which is this month, for those who aren't aware). Now, I think this is a good idea in theory, but in practice, it sucks.

When I worked at St. Al's CCC, I always had parents encouraging me to take the teens to the Respect Life Rosary walk at the Catholic Life Center (the diocesan offices here in BR). I politely declined to make it a youth group event, but suggested that they go as a family if they felt that strongly about it. Why did I suggest that?

We'll first of all, I really don't like group rosaries. I have less of a problem with the rosary than I once did (maybe I'll write about that later), but to me, it always has been and should remain a private devotion.

But more importantly, it wasn't really praying for an increase in respect for all life as the gift from God that it is. Instead, it was a prayer to end legalized abortion only. They have one of those displays set up with the little white crosses, each one of which represents a certain number of aborted fetuses.

My question is, where are the crosses for the people who died because they couldn't afford adequate medical care? Where are the crosses of the women who have been killed by abusive partners? Where are the crosses for people who have been issued the death penalty? Where are the crosses for the people who have been killed by genocidal regimes? Where are the crosses for the women who died getting illegal, backroom abortions, for that matter? What about the people in third world countries who are working in sweatshops for wages that could not be considered "living wages" on anybody's scale? Or the people in this country trying to support families on minimum wage?

See, that was always my big issue with the Respect Life movement in the Catholic Church, I'm glad they are anti-abortion (I am too, though I think that it might mean something different to me. I am in favor of the existance of legal abortions. I just think we should spend more money and effort on sex education - and not abstinance only. Fewer unplanned preganancies will mean fewer abortions). But what about all the other Respect Life issues? People claim that they are important too, but they barely even get paid lip service. It frustrates me to no end.

OK. That's enough of a rant for today. I need to go clean my car out before tomorrow's adventures.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Word to the Wise...

If you happen to be at the grocery store and you see Velveeta Shells and Cheese with 2% milk cheese, and you think to yourself, "Maybe I'll try this. It has much, much less fat that the other kind." - don't do it. Yes, it has less fat, but it also tastes much, much less good.

Just more proof that fat makes stuff taste good.

Saturday

I don't actually have a lot to say, but I realized that I was 4 for 4 on blogging in the new year, so why ruin that?

I'm stressing over the whole car thing. I'm afraid of buying a new car. Really afraid. I was really hoping that I could get a few more things cleared up before I took on a brand new debt.

Maybe I'll just go on with the test drive and tell the guy that I'm not quite ready to buy, then work on it for May.

But I'm afraid of doing that, and I'm afraid I won't be able to do that. People scare me, a lot. And I hate the idea of offending someone and making them think I wasted their time.

Yes, I know that is stupid and illogical, especially when talking about car salesmen.

Sigh.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Let me just say that during his Quantum Leap years, Scott Bakula had the biggest cojones in history. How many men would dress up in women's clothing multiple times over the course of a series run? And how many, in one episode, would wear an evening gown, a poodle skirt, a Scarlett O'Hara gown, a Carmen Miranda getup, and a swimsuit?

I love Quantum Leap!

It's a wonder...

...that Louisiana as a state is even marginally functional.

I've spent all day trying to tie up loose ends related to my car. First stop was the OMV. I had to replace my title, clear up a flag on my registration (I'll explain that in a minute), and replace my registration.

The title part was easy, though it turns out I didn't have to pay the notary $10 to notarize the form because I had to sign a whole new one there.

The next thing I had to do was clear the flag on my registration so I could get a copy of my registration card. I let my insurance lapse when I wasn't working, and in Louisiana, you have to pay a pretty stiff fee to the state when you do that ($50 if it is less than 30 days, $100 if it is 30-90 days, and $225 if it was over 90 days. That's where I was). So I waited in that line to pay that fee, and it turns out they don't take checks for that. But they would take a credit or debit card over the phone. They actually have phones set up for that at the OMV. How inefficient is that? Wouldn't it be easier and cheaper for the state to have a credit card reader at the cashiers' office at the OMV? Plus, they charge you a five dollar fee for a credit card transaction. Almost pure profit for the state. Those transactions cost about $0.02.

So I went and paid the fee over the phone, but then the guy couldn't clear the flag on my registration. So then I had to go back to the person who sent me to the phone to clear the flag. Only, she couldn't do that either. Because it turns out Louisiana can't process a transaction to pay a fee and a transaction to clear a flag on the same day. That's ridiculous, especially if you aren't paying by check. The lady had to go to her supervisor, who had to go to her supervisor to get the flag to clear.

When that finally happened, I had to go wait in yet another line to get a copy of my registration. Of course, they wouldn't just give me a copy of my current registration (which costs $8) because policy is that when your current registration is within a month of expiring (mine expired at the end of February), they have to process a renewal, which cost $20.

But my day didn't end there. I wanted to pay the ticket I got for an expired inspection sticker. I just want to have all my ducks in a row in case I end up getting a new car. I tried to pay it on line and over the phone, but it didn't work. So I had to go to the city courthouse. Well, it took me forever to find it because there is no actual sign indicating "Courthouse is here" because that would make sense. I finally found it and discovered that there is no parking lot anywhere near the building. There are meters, but they were all full. So I drove around the block several times waiting for a place to open up. That was an adventure in and of itself because downtown Baton Rouge is a mess. I finally gave up, left for a while and went to get gas.

When I came back, I only had to go around the block once when a space opened. So I parked, fed the meter, and went into the courthouse. I waited in yet another line. When I got up to that counter, the woman said that the reason I couldn't pay my ticket on line was that it wasn't in the system yet. I got the ticket on November 17. The city didn't receive it until December 14th. And they still hadn't put it in the system for payment. It had to be paid by February 18th.

What kind of stupid system is that? In Pittsburgh, if you got a ticket, you had 45 days to pay it, and I promise you, it was in the computer system within 5 days. It's inefficient, makes people angry, and probably costs the city parish money. This is the freaking 21st century for crying out loud. Cops should be carrying handheld computers and issuing tickets electronically.

Anyway, I had to wait about 15 minutes for them to put the ticket into the payment system. Then I went to pay with a credit card. They charge a 5% fee on credit card transactions. Again, pure profit for the city.

I want to say right now that any merchant, government, or anyone else who charges a "convenience fee" for electronic transactions of any kind is absolutely full of shit. Yes, I cursed. That's how angry it makes me. Electronic transactions are not only less expensive than check transactions, they are more secure than either checks or cash. It costs them less, and is better for the consumer. But most consumers don't realize that is costs less to process that kind of transaction, so they go along with the fee. Those fees are absolute pure profit for the companies involved.

So that was my day. I will never understand why government is so reluctant to embrace technology that may be expensive in the intial outlay, but will save so much money in the long run.

Stupid bureaucracy.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

To the person who found me by searching the phrase: "I lost my job today"....

If you did lose your job, I'm sorry. That's one of the worst feelings in the world. I'm living proof, though, that things can get better, and that sometimes things happen for a reason. Although it was a struggle I'm still getting over in some respects (especially as they relate to my car), it really was the best thing to ever happen to me.

I don't know who you are, but I will be praying for you.

Car Update

Well, according to Auto Zone, I have a misfire in my 4th cylinder. Since I have a 4 cylinder car, no wonder it feels like it is dragging.

Thing is, I just had a tune up last year, right before my transmission went out (because before the transmission gave, the only problem the computer recorded were misfires). This makes me think it is something more than a spark plug. In fact, I know it is. That is the cylinder where they mechanic guy said it was seeping oil into the spark plug...place. I never got that fixed, because it would cost a couple hundred dollars, and the mechanic said I'd be OK without it.

So here is the current plan. I'm going to call my trusty chain mechanic (Tire Kingdom, if you are interested - they do a great job) to see if they will replace the one spark plug to see if that'll turn off the check engine light. If they will, that'll be one of my stops tomorrow. I'm also going to the OMV (that's the DMV, for those of you who are someplace else) to see if I can get a duplicate title for my current car. I'm hoping that physically going there will expidite the process. This weekend, I'll be giving my car as thorough a cleaning out as I can. On Monday, I am test driving a new car (yes, the Honda Fit). If I like it, and if they can work out financing I can afford, I'm getting a new car.

I had planned to wait so that I'd have some time to save a down payment, but I'm afraid of what's next. Plus, I really hate the fact that my heat and A/C don't really work, and getting a new compressor installed will be about $600. That isn't happening.

So, if they can give me $1000 in trade, and work out the financing so that I don't have a completely crazy interest rate, I can afford it now.

The thought scares me, though. In my mind, a car note makes you a real grown-up (though not as much of a grown up as a house note), and I've never had a car note. Weird.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Looks Like

I may be getting a new car sooner rather than later. My check engine light came on on the way into work today. I'm going to go at lunch time to Auto Zone to get them to use their little diagnostic thingy. I think it is either the fuel pump on the verge of dying or the water pump on the verge of dying. Or, it could be the transmission again. The car doesn't accelerate well or smoothly when I first step on the gas, though once it gets going it is fine. If it is the transmission, this is definitely the end. If it is the fuel pump, it is most likely the end. If it is the water pump, well, I may get that fixed. If it is something else entirely, who knows?

Sigh. Happy New Year to me!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Thoughts on Old and New

So here we are in a brand new year.

2008.

I've written before about how, in 1080, the year I turned 9, I thought 2000 was forever a way, and that 29 was older than dirt.

This year I'll be 37. Officially in my late 30's.

29 looks so good now.

2007 was an interesting year. I had surgery for the first time ever. I grew into my job. I got myself off of the anti-depressants. I went through some angst after going off the anti-depressants.

I fell behind on my own writing because work took up so much of my time. I've had a bit of a...down slide in my spiritual life, partially because of work and illness, partially because of...something else.

I got into the habit of eating out an awful lot. My thyroid fluctuated an awful lot, as did other hormone levels. I craved food that was horribly bad for me when my hormones were off. I had food poisoning for the first time, thanks to the company Christmas party.

So, what am I looking forward to in 2008? First, I want to cook at home more often. It is healthier and less expensive.

I want to work more on The Great American Novel, and the The Greater American Novel, especially the first. It's been on my mind a lot lately.

I want to try to make it church on a more regular basis, even when I'm not feeling up to it (mentally, I mean - not physically; I won't get other people sick.).

I plan to feed myself more intellectually and spiritually. I realized after the post I made last week sometime that for me, itellect and faith are directly connected. I think that's why I grew so much in terms of my faith during my college years, when I was learning so much about it intellectually. I will write more about this stuff later. But I will say, that, thanks to LP's suggestion, I found some online, credit classes I can take without being in a degree program, and that I can afford. I'm hoping that if I can learn some theology from the Lutheran perspective, I'll be less intimidated about getting involved in ministries in my congregation, which is something that scares me right now. (I know, I know - it isn't logical. I'll write more about where that insanity comes from later.).

I want to find homes for the two semi-feral cats I seem to have adopted some how, despite the fact that I am allergic to cats and can't actually give them any attention beyond food, before my building is torn down. I don't think these cats can hunt on their own, at least not for more than lizards and bugs, and I'd hate to think of them dying as a result. I guess they can go mooch off of the rich folks in the overpriced condos that are going up next door, though.

I want to get over my fear of car dealerships and get a new car as soon as possible, but not until at least March. More likely May.

I want to introduce some bill in some legislature that gives some kind of advantage to single people. While I believe in the importance of families, single people get really screwed on a lot of fronts, especially taxes. I also want to move forward with my plan to make President's Day the single people's holiday. We give up time off around Thanksgivng and Christmas, but by golly, we should get to take extra time off around President's Day to...to...sit around our homes and watch daytime TV!

I would say that I want to make higher payments on my student loan, but if I have to buy a car, that isn't going to happen.

I want to team up with TG and mount a challenge to the official spelling bee people on behalf of everyone, everywhere who has been cheated out of a spelling bee win because of bad pronunciation, foreign slang words, and other injustices. I don't quite know what good it will do, but I want to do it anyway.

I guess this is all I have to say. These aren't resolutions, really, because I don't believe in them. They are just things I'd like to see happen in the coming 364 days.

Have a happy January.