Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Tag! You're it!

I've been tagged by Beth, who was in turn tagged by Dr. Sardonicus, in a book-themed meme. Say *that* ten times, fast!

The rules are simple:

1. Find the nearest book.
2. Name the book.
3. Name the author.
4. Turn to page 123.
5. Go to the fifth sentence on the page.
6. Copy the next three sentences and post to your blog.
7. Tag three more lucky souls.

The nearest book to me at this moment is Clinical Anatomy and Physiology for the Angry Healthcare Professional by Joseph Stewart, MD. [Yes, I am at work. What of it? I've done all my work for the day and it isn't time to go home yet.] Turning to page 123, fifth sentence, I quote:

"The subclavian artery becomes the axillary artery at the clavicle. Near the head of the humerus, the axillary artery becomes the brachial artery. Importance: the brachial artery is the main blood-pressure taking artery."

A thrilling read, no? It is better if you can see the illustrations. This might have been more interesting at home with my collection of science fiction. On the bright side, at least the nearest book wasn't one of my physics books!

Now that I've done my part, it is time to spread the love. I tag NYPinTA, Lord Loser, and trinamick.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Good times.

I'm off work for the next four days, I got my Camry back, almost all of the holiday prep work is done so now I can enjoy the fun stuff, and I'll be spending time with the people I love. I'm looking forward to eating too much, multiple desserts with each meal, the new bottle of single malt scotch we will purchase later today, watching everyone open their gifts, long winters naps, snuggling with PDM and the cats, watching holiday movies (The Ref is one of my favorites), reading, or doing nothing at all.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Winter Solstice

Some random thoughts about the winter solstice:

I've always thought "solstice" was a pretty word. It sounds quiet and peaceful.

The actual time and date of the solstices shifts from year to year.

A Winter's Solstice was the first "new age" music I ever purchased. It is the kind of holiday music that I enjoy. My other favorite is Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas . It is a welcome change of pace from all the stuff they play on the radio and in stores.

When I moved to Massachusetts back in December of 1992, I was extremely dismayed to discover that at the winter solstice, the sun sets at 4:20pm and it is dark before 5:00pm. Gack! I hated this worse than the bone-chilling cold. There are two reasons why the sun sets so much earlier there than in Atlanta. The northerly latitude (42 N) makes the day about 45 minutes shorter on winter solstice and longer on summer solstice. But the main culprit is the longitude. Massachusetts is situated on the eastern side of the eastern time zone, while Atlanta is on the far western edge of it. Local noon is around 11:45am in Southbridge, MA, but occurs at 12:35pm here in Atlanta.

In Atlanta, (latitude 34 N) the sun will set today at 5:32pm and twilight will end at 6:00pm. The sun rose at 7:38am. Length of day = 9 hours and 53 minutes. I can live with that. And that is the worst it will be. For the next six months, every day will be a little longer and lighter!

Wishing you all a happy, peaceful, and warm winter solstice.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

An early Christmas gift?

I was feeling pretty negative about Georgia Tech's chances in the Gator Bowl until tonight, when I heard the "good" news. Our starting quarterback, who is a senior and would have been playing his last college game, has been ruled academically ineligible to play in the bowl game. So he's already played his last college game. And in the last two games, he was 15-for-51 with four interceptions and no touchdowns. So you can understand why I am happy to see our backup quarterback get a chance to shine, and Calvin Johnson (who is the best wide receiver in college football) has a chance to have an outstanding game. Johnson is a junior, but realistically is probably playing his last college game. He would go very high in the draft and no one would think poorly of him for taking advantage of it. He is an incredible athlete. Another positive is that there will not be much tape of Bennett (the new QB) for West Virginia to use for preparation.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I miss my Camry :-(

I finally took my car to the bodyshop to get the bumper damage repaired. It was rear-ended more than a month ago. [See, I'm trying to whittle down my list of stuff I procrastinated on.] I hope they can fix it quickly, because my rental car completely sucks. It is a Ford Taurus, and if this is the kind of crap they're churning out to compete with Camrys and Altimas, it is no wonder they are losing market share. In Ford's defense, their trucks are pretty good. PDM has a Ford truck and is happy with it. But their mid-sized passenger cars need some work.

First of all, the gas pedal is so far back that I had to pull the seat nearly all the way up to reach it. So now the steering wheel is almost in my lap and I am way too close to the dashboard. I don't think it has an airbag, which is a good thing because if it went off at that distance the bag would probably kill me itself. The brake pedal is way higher than the gas, so switching my foot between them is awkward and I keep hitting the side of my foot on the side of the brake pedal. Sure hope I don't need to brake fast, because in addition to not being able to get to the pedal quickly, the brakes have much more resistance than I am used to and I feel like I have to really stomp on them to make the car slow down. And another thing... the seat is too hard. And the steering wheel material is kind of rubbery/sticky, which makes me want to break out a can of lysol seeing how this is a rental car and god-knows-who has had their mitts on it.

It is a real shame that Ford didn't update the Taurus design to keep it competitive. I remember when it was a very popular car and people seemed to like it. I rented one on a business trip years ago and didn't have any problems with it. The Ford plant in Hapeville (just south of Atlanta) used to make the Taurus. Now it is shut down and the Taurus has been discontinued. Ford should try making a comfortable car with good gas mileage and better ergonomics. I bet it wouldn't suck.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Party On, Or Not.

PDM and I are going to a holiday party tonight. We'll be dining at one of Atlanta's best restaurants and we like the people who will be there, so there was no need to weasel out of it. But if you've been invited to one too many parties this season, you might find this site handy: Holiday Party Excuse Generator.

UPDATE: Good times! Marty had beef filet, and I had the lobster & green chili soft taco. The appetizers and sides were top notch, as was the wine and scotch. Other than the horrible tangle of traffic we faced before arriving, the evening was nothing but fun.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Having trouble leaving comments here?

I switched to Beta Blogger and this seems to be the root of the problem. I don't think this issue is fixed, but Blogger posted a suggestion that may help here. I hope to see y'all back on the comments soon!

Panties on the Sidewalk.

I drug myself out of bed relatively early this fine Saturday morning in order to finish Christmas shopping, because it had to be done. The stuff's gotta be mailed on Monday. A few exhausting hours and hundreds of dollars later, PDM and I were done and treated ourselves to lunch at Thai Spice. All of this occurred in an outdoor mall. It was a great day to be outside - clear, sunny and unseasonably warm, even for Atlanta. On the way back to the car, we noticed a pair of black silk panties lying on the sidewalk. This was the weirdest thing I can recall seeing on a sidewalk, well, ever. How did they get there, and why? Did someone buy a new pair and decide to wear them out of the store (something that Jeff Foxworthy claims is very common among rednecks - buying something and wearing it out of the store)? Perhaps the lady was simply too hot in our balmy 70 degree weather and decided to shed some unnecessary clothing. Or lost a bet. I suspect there was some naughtiness involved. Someone is going to get a lump of coal in their fishnet stockings this Christmas. Santa is still watching, you know.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

At first it was cute...

...but now not so much. Moxy continues to climb into the Christmas tree and we have not figured out an effective method of stopping her from doing it. We stuffed some other greenery in and around the lower branches, but this only made it more challenging and fun for her. The middle branches of the formerly very pretty tree now have a decidedly downward slant, causing a gap between those branches and the next highest set that is getting larger by the day. Not a good look for said tree. If she was doing it when we were home, we could use a squirt gun or something to scare her off. Unfortunately all we see is the evidence that it is happening during the day. Anyone have any suggestions that don't involve felinicide?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Don't Panic!

I need a Hitchhiker's Guide to Christmas shopping. Every time I think about it my blood pressure rises another notch or two. Having to mail some of the stuff out just adds to the pressure. We're rapidly approaching the time when it gets more and more expensive to ship stuff every day, until finally it becomes impossible to get it there on time. I hate crowds and traffic, which is what malls are surrounded by on weekends and weeknights, so I keep not going shopping. I've been ultra wishy-washy about online purchases, and can't even come up with a hint for PDM about what I want for myself. Every year I tell myself that I will start earlier the next year and not go through this, and every year I end up doing half of it at the last minute.

All this holiday procrastination amplifies the guilt I feel for my ordinary, run-of-the-mill procrastination. Here is a partial list of stuff I keep putting off, in no particular order.

1. Get my notebook computer fixed. It's had a hardware problem for almost two years now that makes it a real pain in the ass to use.

2. Get a new cell phone, get a local number, and tell them my last name is different now. I moved and changed my name in July 2004. I'm just a bit behind on tying up the loose ends.

3. Order window treatments for the new house. Been there nearly a year, but the neighbors can still look straight into our kitchen and living room any time day or night.

4. Update my address books (on- and off-line). Again, more than a year behind with moves, births and deaths. I have the info scattered on little bits of paper all over the house. I can never find them when I need one.

5. Close those two Massachusetts bank accounts that have about $50 each in them. I haven't used them in over two years. Oh yeah, and they're still under my old last name.

6. Go to the dentist for teeth cleaning. Two years behind. Nothing hurts, so why bother? Ditto for the eye doctor. Except I know I need new glasses and have for at least a year.

7. Mail birthday cards and presents. I'm usually at least three or four weeks behind at all times.

8. Housecleaning. Usually done in a panic just before guests arrive.

9. Wash and wax car. Too cold, wait for spring...

10. Order and plant spring-blooming bulbs. Too late, wait for next year.

11. Christmas cards. Should have been working on them by now, but haven't even bought any yet. Gulp.

And so it goes. Ordinarily my long list of stuff to do that is late doesn't bother me at all, but now I have gift panic and feel completely behind in everything.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

More Holiday CatBlogging

Bad Cat edition.

This is Moxy, halfway up the tree, just hanging out. Unbelievably, she didn't break anything. (Yet.) Hmmm, does the ten-year warranty on the tree cover cat damage?

Moxy isn't the only cat who is interested in Christmas trees. It's a rather common affliction. At least she didn't do as much damage as these cats.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Lonely Hearts, British Style

I heard about this book on NPR on my way home today. Good timing -- I needed a good laugh. I might have to put this one on my Christmas list. The Brits have a special way with language, and polite candor. These personals are very different from the kind you'd read in the states.

"They call me Naughty Lola. Run of the mill beardy physicist - Male, 46."

"Most vegetarians complain about missing the taste of bacon. Not me, I complain about my liver disease. And rural postal services. Man, 40."

"Love is strange -- wait 'til you see my feet. F, 34, wide-fitting Scholl's."

More samples can be read here . Enjoy!

Cover Image

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Too slow.

This has been a long week. It seems like it ought to be Friday already. I think part of the problem is that our software has been running very slow at work. I'm always two or three steps ahead of it, impatiently tapping my pen on the desk waiting for it to frelling catch up. At my alternate work location, this is mostly because the computer doesn't have enough memory to run all the stuff I need to have open simultaneously. But today I was at the main location, with a good computer, and the software was dragging its feet all day. Frustrating.

PDM and I are still coughing a lot, which is getting old. So is feeling tired and sick. And we're still bummed out about the little cat, Squeaky. So much for holiday cheer. I'm hoping things get better soon.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sad news...

The rescued cat had a lot of stuff wrong with her, including feline leukemia, so we decided it was best to have her put to sleep. She was in pretty bad shape due to her lack of care. We were calling her "Squeaky" because of her squeaky little meow. I feel horrible about it, but at least she had one weekend of being warm and fed and cared for and loved.

Update: The person who rescued her just called - she found out this cat was 2 years old. She was so tiny, I thought she was just a kitten. So did the vet. They probably never got her any vaccines for anything, dammit. You shouldn't get a pet if you can't take care of it properly. There was no need for this sweet little cat to have contracted FELV. Such a waste. It makes me mad just thinking about it.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Settling in.

New kitty is feeling more at home now. We even got her to play just a little bit. She's spending less time under the bed, too. I think she has cat lice, so I went out and paid retail (!) for a box of Frontline Plus because I needed it right away, and treated all three cats. My wallet still hurts. She still needs to see the vet, pronto. Her breath stinks and she sort of drools a bit - could be an abcess or something going on in her mouth. I hope it isn't anything worse than that. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Got three cats, and an albino leech.

We took the cat.

I know, I know. What can you do? The poor little thing didn't deserve being abandoned after its owner moved out. I think the vet and I have some work to do to rehabilitate the little guy/girl (still can't tell, but if it is male it has been neutered - definitely there are no visible testicles), but the cat has potential to be healthy and happy. All it wants to do is to be cuddled and petted. We can't get it to play, or do anything other than beg for affection. Poor thing. I suspect it may have worms or some other sort of intestinal parasite, because it is very skinny. I think it is pretty young - maybe 4 months or so. There may be an abcess in its mouth (bad breath and it drools a bit). But all of that is fixable. We gave it a bath today. The cat's coat looks and smells much better. That is a start.

I had a bad morning, however. Since the glass turntable in the microwave is broken, I reheated a cup of tea by putting a plastic container in there upside down and put my teacup on top of that. Well, apparently the handle was in some sort of microwave focal point, because it was about 4000 degrees when I reached in and pulled it out. Never mind that I've reheated a half cup of tea for 30 seconds several hundred times with no ill effects. This time, the handle burned my ring finger on my right hand as bad as I've ever been burned before, and I have been burned many a time. I now have a blister that is over an inch long and about a quarter inch wide, and jammed full of fluid just waiting to pop at the wrong moment. Talk about painful! Yowee! It looks like there is an albino leech sucking on my finger. This blister is huge. That really put a crimp into my weekend plans of doing lots of yardwork and housework. Kind of tough to do anything when you can't fully use your dominant hand. And I know this big-ass blister will pop soon and then I'll have to guard against infection. Nice. And I still need to do some machine tests at work on Monday. It will be just swell having to do all this with a bum finger.

Also, my football team managed to lose yet again. Thanks, guys. Very disappointing once again. Congratulations to Wake Forest for a great season and winning the ACC championship. Way to tough it out! I can't hate them for that - they played better than our team and had coaches that made better decisions than ours did. And they did it without multiple starters. And they graduate 96% of their athletes, which kicks butt! I hope Wake does well in the Orange Bowl. We'll be going to the Gator Bowl, which by the way, doesn't want us but is obligated to take us. I pin the last two losses squarely on our offense. The defense has been playing great, but the offense has been disappointing over the last two games. We've got the best wide receiver in college football, and somehow can't find a way to take advantage of that. Pitiful. And extremely disappointing. But it is almost over, and our basketball team, which is full of freshmen, is doing very well. Moving on...

Friday, December 01, 2006

New kitty? Maybe...

My neighbor stopped by this evening with a kitten she rescued from a condo for sale. The owner moved out and left his cat. The cat looks young, and is skinny, and his/her coat is not in good shape. I couldn't tell if it was male or female in the dim twilight. But the cat was very tame and friendly. I said no, we couldn't take him. We'd just got Moxy this June and had our hands full.

But all this evening, the memory of this poor cat has been working on me. Such a sweet thing, and in needlessly poor condition. He'd be so much better off with us. PDM and I talked about it over dinner. He didn't say no. I think we may be getting another cat. Stay tuned...

Holiday CatBlogging

We bought our Christmas tree this week. I'm excited. I haven't, for one reason or another, put up a tree in 5-6 years. It used to be because I lived in Massachusetts and came home to Georgia for Christmas, so I wouldn't bother doing the tree up there. Then I moved back to Georgia and lived in an apartment, and there just wasn't enough room to do it. Last Christmas, we were in the process of buying a house. Now we finally have space and time, and will be home to enjoy it. I scouted the ads and we finally found a very pretty and sort of realistic looking pre-lit tree that was for sale at a massive discount and we bought it. Now there is only one potential problem: Moxy.

As you know, Moxy has a thing for boxes. She didn't waste any time nibbling on a corner of the big tree box and then laying claim to it. Here she is napping on it. No doubt she is dreaming of the countless hours of fun she'll have destroying this box little by little. Except we are planning on reusing the box to store the tree, so we had to put the kibosh on that idea.

The next potential problem is not knowing what a six month old kitten will do to the tree. Zima, who is an old lady cat, just ignores it. Moxy showed a lot of interest in it before we even took it out of the box. She was a pest while we were putting it together, and it didn't take her five minutes to extract a bulb from one of the lower lights. We're going to wait a few more days before making the tree a more attractive target. Step one is to make sure she won't knock it over. Step two is to make sure she isn't chewing on any of it. Step three will be to see what she'll do when there are ornaments to go after. I have some cat-friendly ones to put near the bottom, and I'll probably save some of the more delicate or antique ones for later (or maybe even next year).

She passed the first test. We came home from work and the tree was still standing. It didn't look like she'd messed with it while we were at work. She really likes hanging out underneath the tree when it is lit. But since the ten year warranty is not likely to include repair of cat damage, I'll pick up some Bitter Apple to spray on the lower branches to make it taste bad, just in case.