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Farewell, LiveJournal!

May. 16th, 2007 | 06:08 pm

Dear readers:

fugues + distractions has moved from LiveJournal to WordPress.  All entries have been imported to the new blog at WP.  This is the last entry you will see at LJ.

The new address is: rubenoid.wordpress.com.

See you there!

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Two different worlds

May. 10th, 2007 | 08:39 am

Sometimes I think my two jobs couldn't be more different.

Here I sit today in my business casual attire (black linen shirt, grey pinstripe pants, square-toe shoes) throwing around words like process, billable, distributed authorship, knowledge management, enterprise, infrastructure, blah blah blah.  I'm bored and uncomfortable.  I'm wearing an ID badge on a cord around my neck.  I'm surrounded by a fuzzy mauve cubicle, and overhead the fluorescent lights are buzzing.  People are carrying Treos and Blackberrys and leather briefcases and coffee in styrofoam cups. 

(This week is also my two-year anniversary at this job.)

Contrast this to yesterday.  I wore a short-sleeve shirt (untucked!), cargo shorts, and sandals.  At one point, I needed to walk the grounds to find a suitable spot for a pagan ritual.  Since my new djembe arrived via UPS from Mali, I decided to play it while walking around.  Then I sent out an email to the community soliciting volunteers to sing in my large choir for Pridefest.

Two totally different worlds ...

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Volta

May. 9th, 2007 | 01:25 pm

Björk's latest CD, Volta, was released in the U.S. yesterday.  I was surprised to find that Target was selling it, so I didn't have to make a separate trip to get it.

I love this CD.  Of course, I love Björk, so this shouldn't come as too big a surprise; but, her studio releases of the past several years have been met with mixed reviews by me.  I liked several songs on Vespertine, but there were just as many that I didn't care for.  There were also a few songs on Medulla that I liked, but overall the CD is generally too challenging for me to listen to in one sitting.  Not that I'm not up for a good challenge.  Maybe I just didn't get it.

Volta forges new ground, as Björk always does, and it's fun to hear tinges of her earlier solo work, and even a hint of the Sugarcubes from time to time.  I love the collaborators on this CD: the sublime duet with Antony Johnson is reason enough to buy it, the Timbaland-produced tracks are a fabulous fit, and -- even though I don't think they are the best players in the world -- I am overcome by delight with the curiosity and quirky orchestration of an all-female Icelandic brass band.  There's also an avant garde virtuoso pipa player which sends me into paroxysms of unbridled ecstasy.

Björk
, Volta: A

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Ear update

Apr. 27th, 2007 | 03:03 pm

A couple of weeks ago I had a hearing test at the audiologist's office.  She said I have the hearing nerves of an 18-year old Navy Seal.  Sounds like a good thing.  My hearing in general is good otherwise, leaning ever so slightly to minor hearing loss.

Any loss is alarming to me.  I scheduled my follow-up appointment with the ENT less than a week later.  He confirmed her findings, and told me the best option right now is a myringotomy.  I've had this procedure done before (tube in the eardrum) so I agreed to it and set up the surgery date without any reservations.

This past Monday I went to the clinic in the morning for my surgery.  The ENT told me my eardrum looked like Saran Wrap over my hearing bones.  He swabbed my eardrum (loud) with the numbing solution and left me to wait for 20 minutes.  When he came back in I got on the table and he brought the microscope to my head.

Now, I don't know what took so long, but I do know that whatever he was doing I was feeling every minute of it.  It was quite painful.  Somehow he was able to make the incision without me noticing too much.  Then he took the suction tube and cleared out the residual numbing solution (super loud) and discovered that I had quite a lot of mucus behind my eardrum which he was able to extrude too.  Gross, but good I guess!

OK, so we're about 45 minutes into this thing by now and my body hurts from near-constant tension.  Sharp things and the anticipation of them in my ears causes me to clench my entire body, apparently.  I tried doing pranayama breathing and other relaxation techniques, but it hurt and I was scared.  Now comes the part where he tries to insert the tube.

I'm not having any of it.  It registers a 10 out of 10 on the pain scale and I tell him I need to stop.  He applies another dosage of the numbing solution and leaves me to wait another 20 minutes.  When he comes back in to finish the procedure, same story.  The anesthetic isn't working.  I grit my teeth and tell him to forge onward, but seconds later I just have to stop.  I get up from the table physically weak and emotionally traumatized.

Why did this surgery fail?  I've had it done before without any problems.  Hell, thousands of people have it done every day, especially children.  Something went wrong though ...

Now I'm quite sure the incision has healed itself already, which defeats the whole purpose of the surgery.  My ear is ringing louder than ever, and I'm feeling some pressure, and anxiety.

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Bread

Apr. 14th, 2007 | 03:29 pm

Hey, remember that band called Bread from the early 70s?

Yeah, me neither.  But, in the last two days I've heard their song "Everything I Own" twice.  I've heard this song here and there over the years.  It's one of those songs that you hear once every couple of years and dismiss. 

Yesterday when it was on the radio I was horrified to find myself humming along to it, but then I had the creepy realization that I was actually enjoying it.  By the end of the song I was a convert.  The song really is quite lovely: it has a very pretty melody and the singer's voice has a very pleasant quality to it.  I found myself wanting to hear the song again.  Little did I know that I'd only have to wait 24 hours.

"Everything I Own" reached #5 on the Billboard chart the year before I was born, but it does not sound very dated to me.  In fact, it had me thinking it sounded more than a little like some of the unabashedly romantic songs you might hear by today's top 40 male balladeers, and not the bad ones like James Blunt or Five For Fighting.

I would give anything I own,
Give up me life, my heart, my home.
I would give everything I own,
Just to have you back again.

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Latest LS mix CD

Apr. 2nd, 2007 | 08:13 am

1. Against All Odds -- Phil Collins
2. Separate Lives -- Phil Collins & Marilyn Martin
3. Looking Through the Eyes of Love (Theme from Ice Castles) -- Melissa Manchester
4. You Should Hear How She Talks About You  -- Melissa Manchester
5. Don't Cry Out Loud -- Melissa Manchester
6. Just You and I -- Melissa Manchester
7. In the Sweet By and By -- Loretta Lynn
8. Lipstick on Your Collar -- Connie Francis
9. I Don't Wanna Play House -- Tammy Wynette
10. Mu Mu Land -- The KLF and Tammy Wynette
11. Justify My Love -- Madonna

LS has, indeed, rediscovered the great passionate torch singer Melissa Manchester who knows when to sprinkle on the sass.  YSHHSTAY is truly one of the great songs just waiting for a renaissance.  I remember loving this song when I was in elementary school, and it is as fabulous now as it was then.  The line from Don't Cry Out Loud -- "Just keep it inside / learn how to hide your feelings" -- reminds me in some ways of the line from a song from another of LS's mix CDs, The Coward of the County by Kenny Rogers, which I blogged previously -- "Walk away from troubles if you can / now it don't mean you're weak if you turn the other cheek...."  Melissa speaks of a traditional masculinity of hiding feelings, while Kenny is more in touch with his feminine side when he suggests avoiding aggression.

"Take a good look at me now .... now there's just an empty space ...." this line from Phil Collins snapped me back to 6th or 7th grade and those awful middle school dances.  Many thanks for *that* pleasant walk down memory road!  <snide>  However, after my first cynical listening to these songs, I started to question the derision directed toward the oft-maligned Mr. Collins.  I believe LS has been able to see past the critics who think it is cheesy, melodramatic, and poorly-sung dreck.  It may, very well, be all of those things, but for what it is, it does it well.  I had a similar revelation the other day when "In The Air Tonight" was on the radio.  My first reaction was to cover my ears and lunge for the dial; however, my initial reaction was quickly replaced with a new and odd appreciation for its stark and unashamed presence.  Phil Collins does not have a pretty (or even pleasant) voice to listen to, and these songs exploit it in order to lend another layer of unpleasantness to his usual negative song lyrics from this time period.

I'm pleased that LS took my suggestion of exploring the oeuvre of Tammy Wynette.  IDWPH is a classic, and was a perfect fit for my fatalistic morning mood.  Next listening suggestion: D-I-V-O-R-C-E ... another classic from Country & Western's queen immemorial of the domestic tragedy.

All-in-all, an excellent mix of songs, and it's particularly nice to have a small sampling of MM songs in my collection now.

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JRP has it so much worse than you

Mar. 29th, 2007 | 10:37 am

That's what I think I'm going to rename this blog.  I have become the cliche of moaning incessantly about my health problems.  The last thing you want to say to me is "How are you?", really, because I will tell you.

Last week I injured my back because I lifted a 25 pound bag of kitty litter out of the trunk, arm outstretched.  Really.  My back is injured and that's the story I have to tell.  Sad!

I know, it was stupid of me to lift that way.  I had to miss work and it's a good thing MKW was still unemployed because he drove me to the doctor's office where I saw the nurse practioner and the onsite chiropractor.

The nurse practitioner gave me prescriptions for cyclobenzaprine (muscle relaxant), hydrocodone (generic Vicodin, for pain), and naproxen (anti-inflammatory).  She wrote the prescription for 50 pills of hydrocodone, PLUS TWO REFILLS ... she must have thought I was really messed up, but I've only taken three of them so far!

Since then I've had another appointment with the chiropractor.  Until now, I had never been to a chiropractor and I have found the experience to be odd and interesting.  Except for the part where he tries to push me through the table, I rather like it.

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The latest news on my ear

Mar. 29th, 2007 | 10:29 am

I had another appointment at the otorhinolaryngologist (ear-nose-throat specialistt) the other day and the news was somewhat troubling.

Although I have recovered some (most? at this point I can't even tell) of my hearing, my eardrum is still locked into this sucked-in position.  I am to continue overdosing on nasal steroids to see if it will force air into my eustachian tube, but these things tend to make my nose bleed so I'll probably die first from blood loss.

I've got a hearing test scheduled in a couple of weeks (oh joy! oh rapture! one more thing to add to the list!) and then a follow-up with the ENT at the end of April.  He said if the eardrum is still distended he will have to do something like feed a tube up my nose to do something.  I don't really know because I stopped listening after he said "feed a tube up your nose".

My ear is still ringing and buzzing, although fainter now.  I feel like I'm hearing better.  Whenever I yawn, and many times when I swallow, I hear crackling and popping, which is a good sign.

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The next two weeks

Mar. 29th, 2007 | 10:16 am

You know, I've got a seriously busy two weeks ahead of me, and, for once, it's not because I have an insane working schedule ...

Close on house, refinish floors, buy appliances, move
Rehearse with the WCC Chorus, have dress rehearsal and concert
Get my taxes to the accountant (no small feat, this, especially in the midst of moving chaos)
Prepare for my annual evaluation at church
Squeeze in a few chiropractor appointments

... and probably a bunch of other smaller things that are escaping me at the moment ...

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Tomorrow ... the closing

Mar. 29th, 2007 | 10:07 am

Tomorrow it will be official.  I am going in at 1:00 p.m. to sign my name on the dotted line and then the house is ours!

Yesterday we drove by the house, as we have done practically every day for the past month, and noticed that the owner built another hand railing on the stairs leading up to the porch.  Now it's iron on one side and wood on the other.  That's a little ghetto, and I'm wondering why he even did it in the first place.  Strange, but now it gives a good excuse to get rid of the ugly iron one.

Tomorrow is also MKW's uncle's funeral.  I'm feeling totally uncompassionate because all I want to do is get into the house and start working instead of going to a 4-hour Catholic mass for somebody I'd only met once.  Of course, I'm going to the funeral to support MKW, but I think I have been successful in talking him out of going to the dinner that follows.  We need to get in that house and start cleaning and working on the floors.

MKW thinks that we can have all the carpeting in the living room, dining room, and lower two bedrooms taken up, as well as the ceramic tile in the kitchen, AND have the wood floors underneath sanded, stained, sealed, and cured by the time we do our major move next weekend.  I think he is being -- as usual -- overly optimistic, but this would be a good time for his ADD/hyperfocus to kick in.  And maybe I am just being -- as usual -- overly pessimistic.

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MKW at EC

Mar. 27th, 2007 | 08:07 am

Today is MKW's first day of work at Evil Corporation.  He was joking that he is now a member of the Five-Timers Club, as he has been on assignment here four times already.  This job is a four-month assignment, but it looks promising that it will become a permanent hire, so we're hoping that will happen.

It's funny and strange to think that we are working at the same company (not for the same company, but at the same company -- ah, the silliness of modern staffing practices <with apologies to MMS>!).

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Coats of arms: Poland and Finland

Mar. 20th, 2007 | 08:17 am



POLAND (from Wikipedia)

The coat of arms of Poland consists of a white eagle on a red shield. In Poland, the coat of arms is usually called simply White Eagle (Orzeł Biały), always capitalized. The eagle is sometimes thought to be the white-tailed eagle, although the highly stylized depiction does not connect the insignia with any specific species of eagle. Another interpretation is that it is form of a "heraldic eagle", based on the Golden Eagle.

The White Eagle is said to have originated when Poland’s legendary founder Lech saw a white eagle’s nest. When he looked at the bird, a ray of sunshine from the red setting sun fell on its wings, so they appeared tipped with gold, the rest of the eagle was pure white.

Some historians consider the origins of the insignia to be the coat of arms insignia of either the Roman or Holy Roman Empire. The latter was mostly a black eagle, but a number of imperial places, such as Frankfurt am Main and Schweinfurt are represented with a White Eagle.

A white eagle is first known from coins made during king Boleslaus’s reign, initially as the Piast family’s personal coat of arms.

Przemysł II introduced the White Eagle as a national symbol.

The current version of the insignia was introduced by an amendment to the Polish Constitution in 1927. In 1945, the new communist regime removed the crown from the eagle's head and replaced (perhaps accidentally) the rosettes, which resemble stars, on its wings with stars. The crown was seen as a symbol of the monarchy. After the end of the communist regime, the crown was reintroduced in 1990, and the current version is basically the same as that of 1927, with minor cosmetic changes.

FINLAND (from Virtual Finland)

After ascending the Swedish throne, King John III adopted the title of "Grand Duke of Finland and Karelia" in the year 1581. It was probably at this time or a little later that Finland received a coat of arms, which is somewhat like the present one. This coat of arms is generally thought to have been modelled on a shield sculpted for the tombstone of King Gustav I at the Uppsala Cathedral (completed 1591). This monument was designed during the reign of John's elder brother, Erik XIV, who was king from 1560 to 1568, but it was only completed some thirty years later during John's reign. The shield was probably designed by the Dutch artist Willem Boyen, who served under both Gustav I and Erik XIV.

There is no way to know whether Finland's coat of arms was purely the product of Willem Boyen's own imagination or whether it was based on Erik XIV's wishes or some other unknown historical tradition.

The general consensus has been that the symbol of the lion is derived from the arms of the Folkung family, which are included in the royal arms of Sweden. The two swords were borrowed from the Karelian coat of arms, which was publicly displayed for the first known time on a banner at the funeral of King Gustav I in 1560.

The curved Russian sabre beneath the lion's paws is undoubtedly a reflection of the political situation at this time. Sweden and Russia were almost constantly at war, and the Swedes made use of this propaganda device to imply that they had the upper hand over their enemies. The nine roses are decorative, although they have falsely been interpreted as referring to Finland's nine historical provinces.

When Finland gained independence in 1917, the "lions arms" became the coat of arms of the new nation. Before this it had served as the common symbol for all the Swedish territory to the east of the Gulf of Bothnia; and from 1809 to 1917 it served as the coat of arms for the Grand Duchy of Finland, which was under Russian rule during this period.

The Finnish coat of arms appears on the state flag, official seals, coins, banknotes and postage stamps. On the President's car it takes the place of an ordinary registration plate.

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Personality disorders?

Mar. 17th, 2007 | 03:04 pm


This is JRP...

You May Be a Bit Borderline...

Your mood swings make a roller coaster look tame!
When you're up, you're a little bit crazy...
And when you're down, your whole world is crashing
Scary thing is, these moods can change by the minute!



This is MKW...

You May Be a Bit Dependent...

You're more than a little preoccupied with being abandoned.
You need a lot of support in your life, at all times.
It's difficult for you to survive on your own...
And you don't reallly think you ever could.

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Thread count envy

Mar. 17th, 2007 | 02:58 pm

LS just bought 600 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets.

I'm jealous.

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INFP Drag Queens

Mar. 15th, 2007 | 09:18 am

Your Personality is Very Rare (INFP)

Your personality type is dreamy, romantic, elegant, and expressive.

Only about 5% of all people have your personality, including 6% of all women and 4% of all men
You are Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Perceiving.


Your Drag Queen Name Is:

Mama Mammaries

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Neologisms and other wordplay

Mar. 15th, 2007 | 08:54 am

The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its yearly neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.

Coffee: the person upon whom one coughs

Flabbergasted: appalled over how much weight you have gained

Abdicate: to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach

Esplanade: to attempt an explanation while drunk

Willy-nilly: impotent

Negligent: describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown

Lymph: to walk with a lisp

Gargoyle: olive-flavored mouthwash

Flatulence: emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller

Balderdash: a rapidly receding hairline

Testicle: a humorous question on an exam

Rectitude: the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists

Pokemon: a Rastafarian proctologist

Oyster: a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms

Circumvent: an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by some men



The Washington Post's Style Invitational also asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Bozone: The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating

Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid

Cashtration: The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period

Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high

Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it

Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late

Hipatitis: Terminal coolness

Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease

Decafalon: The gruelling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you

Glibido: All talk and no action

Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly

Arachnoleptic fit: The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web

Beelzebug: Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out

Caterpallor: The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating

Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole

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My sad Eustachian tube

Mar. 15th, 2007 | 08:25 am

I went to see Dr. R. on Tuesday to try to get to the bottom of this ear problem.  Dr. R. did MKW's rhinoplasty.  I met him at that point in December and found him to be very friendly and compassionate.  To my surprise, he remembered me.

He did a much more thorough exam than the quack Dr. K. did last week.  He determined that on my return flight from California two weeks ago my Eustachian tube went haywire from the pressure, which, in turn, sucked my eardrum into the middle ear where it is pulled inward and taut instead of vertical and relaxed as it should be.  This combination is causing my hearing loss, which he said will more than likely (99%) not be permanent.

The solution to this problem is to pump my body full of steroids.  I'm on my second prescription of prednisone since the beginning of the year, and I am to increase my steroidal nasal spray to four puffs a day, with an Afrin chaser.  After the first day of treatment yesterday, my ear was beginning to crackle and pop lightly by the evening.  It's still completely blocked, but I am encouraged by the movement.

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Guerrilla recruiting

Mar. 13th, 2007 | 09:43 am

I get calls and emails here and there from IT recruiters trying to tempt me with offers of six-month contract job positions.  Usually, the recruiter makes one or two attempts to reach me.  When I don't return their calls, they stop trying to reach me.

One recruiter has been particularly tenacious in her attempts to get a hold of me.  I have been getting phone calls from a recruiter at a company called Impact Solutions for about a year and a half now. Every few months or so the same person calls and leaves a message saying that she wants to discuss opportunities with me.

I think it's funny because I'm sure she's getting my resume from Monster and Dice and Hotjobs, etc … but I haven't updated my resume on any of these sites in over two years.  Lately she's ramped up her efforts in trying to contact me, calling me three times in as many weeks.  On the last message she left a little more information than usual, saying that she had some direct hire opportunities she wanted to share with me.

I've been happy with my company (not necessarily the job itself, but the company is great) and haven't really considered changing jobs until now.  I guess it wouldn't hurt to see what's out there.  If I can find something that matches my current job in terms of flexibility, salary, part-time status, and have those things as a permanent employee then I might think about it ...

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Antibiotics and a rude doctor

Mar. 6th, 2007 | 08:07 am

Am I possibly the unhealthiest man ever to have walked the face of this planet?

I'm back on Augmentin for my double ear infection.  And why can't my infections ever be single?  In January I had a double respiratory infection.  Augmentin knocked them out of the park early on last time, so I'm hoping for similar results this time.

My appointment yesterday was scheduled for 1:40 at the doctor's office on 86th and Capitol.  I had to leave work early to get there.  The receptionist was chilly and rude and I had to fill out several pieces of paperwork, all of which asked for the same information.  I waited, and then waited some more, before I was led to the examination room where I waited for another half hour.  The room was sweltering and the fluorescent lights were oppressive.  When the doctor came in (an HOUR after my scheduled time!) she barely made eye contact with me, cut off my sentences, and was obviously put-off when I asked about possible other treatment options than ear drops.  My concern for my hearing as a musician didn't register at all.  When the examination was over (under 5 minutes) she didn't even say goodbye to me.  The receptionist barely acknowledged my presence while she printed my prescription.

What kind of professional treatment is this?  I'm sorry, but this doctor is a fucking ear-nose-throat doctor.  She's not an emergency room surgeon and there's no excuse for her to have been running so far behind.  And there's no excuse for treating her customers that way.  That is what I consider myself -- her customer, not her patient.  I had to leave my job early to drive all the way to the goddamn northwest side, wait in uncomfortable circumstances, and then be made to feel like it was a bother that I was even there in the first place?

When people are so wrapped up in a sense of entitlement that they forget who is paying their bills, they will no longer have me as their customer.  I scheduled a follow-up appointment with her, but I'm taking my business elsewhere instead, and she will probably be the lucky recipient of an eviscerating letter from me.

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Liberal ranting provoked by house buying

Mar. 6th, 2007 | 08:05 am

We met with the mortgage broker last week.  I'm 95% sure she is the wife of the guy who sits in the opposite quadrant cubicle from me.  They have the same last name, and from his loud obnoxious telephone calls I've unwittingly come to learn a lot about his family; when she spoke of her family I was reasonably sure of it.  I don't speak to this guy ... I find it bothersome to try to talk to most people in my corporate world, even those who sit in my immediate vicinity.  Only a few people on my team have chipped through the ice castle that I have built up around me (*cue Theme from Ice Castles*).

It was a dizzying array of mountains of paperwork.  Too much information and stimulation, and I went into lockdown mode and started indiscriminately signing every piece of paper I could see.  I was probably signing things that weren't even part of my mortgage application ... her desk calendar, napkins, the sign on the door, etc ... 

For some reason I had to sign something about Homeland Security.  Even though I found this to be a rather grievously unnecessary bureaucratic inquiry that surely violated my civil liberties in some way, I felt it best to just sign it because, really, what choice did I have?  Refuse to sign on the basis of righteous indignation, or suck it up and complete the application?  Whatever.  I did what I had to do, and I'm sure most people don't even give it a second thought.

The broker, though, was very serious about presenting it as a Critical Piece of Information that lenders need to know.  I'm not even sure what this paper was ...  Did I really just sign an affadavit stating that I am not a terrorist?  Was I being racially profiled and made to sign this paper because my unusual (ergo, suspicious) last name sent up a red flag?  What, exactly, was the point of filling out this form when I'm just trying to buy a house?  Why don't I have to fill out this form when I buy other things?  Why weren't there forms for other random issues like my musical tastes or my picks for the NFL draft?  Actually, I'm lucky there wasn't a form for this, because I would immediately have been disqualified.

Then, the broker made a joke when she came to the section where one can voluntarily submit their race and gender "for statistical purposes," as if she thought that was the really unnecessary bureaucratic nonsensical part of the application.  I look like a white male, and therefore, as a privileged member of the majority, must also think this is silly.  But, I do not think it is silly at all.  There are plenty of people who look like me who do not identify as white or male for any number of reasons.  It's assumptions like these that really get my liberal hackles up.  I suppose it may be all for the best, though, as this information is used presumably to assist people who are not as privileged as I am ... or, is it?  Maybe it's just job security for someone who collects meaningless demographic statistics ... maybe it's used in some way to further validate white male "superiority" ... or maybe it really is used, in fact, to identify people who are not as privileged as me -- but only for the purpose of meeting (but, surely not exceeding) quotas ... 

This becomes guilt-inducing circular thinking for me.  Some people would call me a bleeding-heart liberal (for my views on freedom of self-identification and self-expression), or a communist (for my views on social equality), or a libertarian (or, god forbid, even a Republican -- in the purest sense of the word -- for my indignation at intrusive government).  But, guilt-inducing though it may be, it continues a very important internal dialogue, writing mental Post-It Notes that I shouldn't assume anything about anyone -- and that I need to continue trying to practice compassion -- extending it especially to those people that annoy me.

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More ear woes

Mar. 5th, 2007 | 09:05 am

My ear problem got worse over the weekend.  Yesterday when I was directing the choir I literally couldn't hear a thing, and then I tried singing later and my head nearly exploded from all the resonance that never made it out of my head.

The left ear is nearly deaf, and the right one is having intermittent issues.  My throat is getting sore today, no doubt a related problem.

I have an appointment today with an otorhinolaryngologist (ear-nose-throat doctor).  There is a lot of fluid behind my eardrum, and I'm thinking I might need to have a tube put into it.

Yesterday one of the choir members taught me a variation on the Valsalva maneuver.  This technique always scares the bejeezus out of me and people laugh when I tell them so.  This is what he recommended: instead of just plugging the nose and trying to force air out of it, he said a surgeon friend of his said also to create a vacuum in your ears at the same time by plugging them as well.  I think I'm afraid my head really is going to explode if I do it!

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Wendy's in Columbus

Mar. 3rd, 2007 | 10:36 am

In Columbus, Ohio, the Wendy's restaurant chain is ubiquitous, since it was founded there in the 60s by Dave Thomas, who passed away in 2002.  I lived there at the time and his funeral in Upper Arlington was that of a dignitary's.

Now I read that the original Wendy's restaurant in downtown Columbus is closing due to poor profits.  It doesn't surprise me since there is no reason for anybody to go to downtown Columbus after the workday is through.  There are no points of interest, no places to shop, and nothing to do.

It is kind of sad in a way, though, because it was such an iconic fixture for so many years.

In an odd but related story, I used to work at a store in Columbus called Terra Cotta.  This store was for the very rich who had an interest in having beautiful outdoor garden accents and expensive home interior urns, pottery, and other extravagances.  Terra Cotta carried a wide array of indoor fountains, from wall-mounted to free-standing 6-foot tall granite fountains.  One of these fountains was a contemporary large stainless steel fountain with water that ran down the front of the fountain covered by a metal grate.  The woman who purchased it said it was a gift for her father, Dave; and her name was Wendy Thomas.  I always wondered if I sold a fountain to the famous Wendy!

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In memory of Bluffton College students

Mar. 3rd, 2007 | 10:29 am

The fatal bus crash that killed several college students and drivers in Georgia the other day were from Bluffton College, a small school in Ohio where I was an adjunct instructor of music in the late 90s.

Many students at Bluffton are Mennonite, a religion that teaches peace above all else.  So, rest in peace, dear ones, and peace to those who are grieving your passing.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070303/ap_on_re_us/georgia_bus_wreck

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I hate flying

Mar. 2nd, 2007 | 07:51 am

On my recent trip back from San Diego (perhaps another post in the near future) my ears never popped on the final descent.  This always happens whenever I am on a plane, and I am left with painful pressure in my head for several days afterwards.

Yesterday the pain was so intense that I couldn't move my face, even to speak, and I could have sworn I had a major ear infection.  Since then I've kept myself hopped up on ibuprofen, so I can't really tell.

I think I'll try this steam method that I've read about on several websites.  You place a napkin in the bottom of a cup, saturate it with boiling water, and then pour the water out.  You then place your ear over the cup for an "ear sauna" ... this is supposed to relieve the pressure.

*** Gives self ear sauna ***

5 minutes later ... well, my hearing seems to have improved a little bit.  I still feel some pressure, and my hearing is still muffled.  Maybe I'll try it again later.

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A visit to the mortgage broker

Mar. 1st, 2007 | 09:21 am

Last night MKW and I had our appointment with the mortgage broker.  We're going with a plan where the pre-paid costs and mortgage insurance are rolled into the amount of the loan.  This equals a much lower amount of money due at closing, which is a good thing.  The interest rate is a little higher than the best rates right now, but it's all tax-deductible so I'm not too concerned about it.  Plus, we will have the option to refinance in the future if we decide it's not the best plan, but it has a very reasonable monthly payment, and I think that's what we need to focus on for the first year at least.

Other than that, the entire meeting was a blur of words and concepts with which I really should begin to familiarize myself, not to mention MKW and I had a fight on the way there about his ambiguity surrounding the withdrawal of funds from his Roth IRA.

Good news came yesterday, too, in the form of a letter from TransUnion showing that the mistake on my credit report has been fixed.  The broker had my most current scores, which were at least 50 points higher than they were before the mistake was cleared up, so that looks good for me too!

Now it's another waiting game while she attempts to secure the loan.  She said everything looked good, so I'm going to take that as a sign not to worry too much!

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