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Not a great party trick
Thursday, May 31, 2007 - 02:31 p.m.


I have now seen four physical therapists over five visits and if they can't agree on a treatment, they can at least all agree on one thing: my foot is WEIRD. Every appointment begins with, "Okay...uhm, you shouldn't be able to bend your foot like that," or "Hmm, I've never felt that part of an ankle joint before," or my favorite, "Hey, look! It's like The Exorcist! Except it's your foot."

After three weeks of therapy, I can't say my ankle hurts less, because it's hard to tell after de Sade & Co. get done with me, but it certainly seems stronger. Today found me balancing on the one foot, tossing a four-pound ball back and forth with the therapist, and I totally kicked ass at it, so that's something. I have a reevaluation in a week or so, and I guess that's when they decide if it's getting better or if amputation is the best option or what. If nothing else, my ankle continues to be a unending source of amusement for the therapists.

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This tounge-twister has been stuck in my head all day, so I guess I'll pass it on to you so we can all be walking around muttering it together.

I'm not the pheasant plucker, I'm the pheasant plucker's mate,
And I'm only plucking pheasants 'cause the pheasant plucker's late.
I'm not the pheasant plucker, I'm the pheasant plucker's son,
And I'm only plucking pheasants till the pheasant pluckers come.

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Recap
Wednesday, May 30, 2007 - 05:29 p.m.

We got home last night and there was nothing to do. IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL.

The weekend was fun and even a little relaxing. We ended up camping out Friday and Saturday night at Smith Lake. It would have been great (and in fact most of it was), except that Saturday night we were kept awake by a group of rednecks who showed up at 10:30 PM to party. For hours there was shouting and cursing. There was a boat they decided to take out after drinking for a couple hours (god, how I wanted them to drown). There was cranking of a diesel truck around 100,000 times. I fell asleep fantasizing about how I'd pull the 4-Runner right up beside their tent the next morning and lay on the horn, cackling madly and shouting, "RISE AND SHINE, MY LITTLE INCONSIDERATE ASSHOLES!" But instead they were up first and woke ME by cranking that damn diesel RIGHT NEXT TO MY EAR for the 100,001st time. I haven't yet read about them dying in a horrific accident, and until I do, I'll have trouble believing there is a God.

Anyway, Sunday we went up to the public tour of Three Caves. I have to say that although it was mildly interesting, it's much more fun to explore the quarry on your own time. (Uhm, not that I would know because certainly I would never disobey the rules like that. Ever.) But despite being slightly lame, the tour was still an interesting diversion. If you get the chance, check it out, but don't expect a professional guide or anything.

The weekend ended with Todd and I driving up to Hendersonville to drop Emily back off with her family. In the process we were able to sit down for dinner with my parents and enjoy a few hours with them. We also stopped by the nursing home to see my grandmother and on the way out were serenaded by a little old lady who'd borrowed my cousin's guitar. She played a couple songs first, then sang us one she wrote back during World War II about her love who'd been killed overseas. I had my tape recorder out in the car, but I didn't think to go get it. Stupid, I know. Maybe one day she and her daughter will record something for Story Corps.

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It's been rough
Wednesday, May 23, 2007 - 12:39 p.m.

Ya'll, you need to go and give Todd a hug and maybe even a cookie, because he is a good man...and he is married to a batshit crazy woman.

These last few weeks have been consumed by all the projects we've had going at the house. Painting, organizing, painting, cleaning, painting, installing blinds, painting, painting, and oh god the painting. I've also been fretting over my cousin coming to stay with us because, well, I am teh krazee when it comes to guests. The house must be perfect, the guest must be happy, fret fret fret. And, in general, I don't do well when the house isn't in order. It GRATES on me. Every unpainted patch of wall, every pile of stuff to sort, every wad of cat hair I haven't had time to vacuum, they all stick in my head until I feel like I can't possibly sit down until everything is done, over, fin. Then you add in my job and how I'm kind of not liking it much lately, and the resulting combination makes me progressively more irritable and moody and tired and whiny, until one night Todd finds himself standing in the kitchen, torn between putting the plastic Target bag over my head or his own.

(To be fair, I'm not sure this ever actually crossed his mind. But if I were him, I'd totally smother me...if only to stop the griping.)

Last night we finally (mostly) finished our bedroom. We cut in the remaining trim, finished rolling the walls, and installed our new blinds. There is still some touching-up to do, but it's safe to say that, for all intents and purposes, we're DONE. And as the clutter and home-improvement projects have dwindled, my sanity has slowly returned.

Now, we're taking a break. No more projects for a while. We're going to have a fun weekend with Emily and we're going to enjoy the next month. All our ideas can just wait. Besides, it'll be a while before I can even think of painting a room without sobbing.

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It will never happen again
Friday, May 18, 2007 - 04:37 p.m.

There is nothing better than suddenly realizing at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon that you have uneaten brownies in your lunchbox. Especially when those brownies are under-baked (and therefore still gooey) butterscotch chewies.

I'm not sure what got into me yesterday evening. I was dragging all day at work, but the moment I got home BING I felt like working. I mulched the front flower beds, trimmed the roses, swept the front porch, moved furniture, vacuumed, organized some of the stuff sitting on the guest room bed, did some laundry, and then, for good measure, decided to bake some butterscotch chewies. I know.

And the crazy part is, I actually want to do housework again tonight. On a FRIDAY. Someone, please call a doctor.

(Even though I am 25 years old, I have to say my favorite part of making brownies is still licking the bowl.)

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Camera Advice
Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - 01:11 p.m.

I just realized that it was three years ago yesterday that my parents gave me my Olympus C750 Ultra Zoom (AKA The Precious). Since then, it has gone with me nearly everywhere. I have no idea how many pictures I've taken during that time, but there are more than 7,000 stored on my computer alone. I've also become totally addicted to Shutterfly, as evidenced by the four photo albums I've filled up in the last few years. What can I say? I love taking pictures.

For being three years old, my camera is in great shape. It has a few small dings and scrapes, but the lens is in good condition and is not scratched. The viewfinder has a small problem where it occasionally stops working, typically after I've tried to photograph something very bright, but that's not been a real problem. It's only 4 megapixels, but it has a 10X optical zoom, so I only need to crop when I've done a poor job framing the shot. I really love this camera and I have neither the desire nor the money to purchase an entirely new one.

BUT....the built-in flash is lousy. The good news is that the C750 has a hot shoe for an external flash. Behold the Olympus FL-36!

Here's where I need your advice.

1) Is this the type of flash you'd recommend?

2) Is it worth it to pay $240 for a flash for my particular camera? Or should I wait until I have the money to buy both buy fancy camera toys AND a new camera?

Keep in mind, I'm not a serious photographer (although one day, when I grow up, I'd like to take some classes) and I can't afford (nor do I need) any of the high-end models like the Nikon D80 or the Canon EOS.

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Officially Getting Old
Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - 04:12 p.m.

Today was my first visit with the Physical Therapist. I was hoping for a "Why are you here? You're healthy. Now go away." Instead, I got nothing but bad news. Namely, that they're not sure my ankle problems have a real solution.

As a result of genetics combined with 14 years of ballet, my feet and ankles are incredibly flexible. The therapist was halfway between impressed and horrified at their range of motion. Apparently, one shouldn't be able to rotate one's foot inward past 35 degrees, yet mine go to 45 without much fuss. Outward was pretty much the same. And she really had a fit at how much my foot flexes when I point it.

Back when I was still dancing, all this was great. In addition to looking good in a pointe shoe, my feet and ankles were also nice and strong. But when I decided to just jump back into dance (even a beginner's class) after taking seven years off, I just didn't have the muscle strength to compensate for my loose ligaments. Instead, she thinks the ankle joint itself has been taking most of the strain. Hence the swelling and pressure and pain I've had since January.

Right now, the therapist wants me to stop dancing and running and start working on a series of exercises to strengthen my ankle. Then we're going to look at some orthotics that will keep my heel from doing its freaky rotation thing, which should keep me from straining my ankle so much. She's hoping that I'll be able to gain enough strength to prevent damage to the ankle bones. She wasn't so encouraging about getting back into dance, even if I take the summer off. She's not sure if things are just stretched or if something really is torn, and she's not sure if I can compensate for the lack of stability at this late date.

I have to say, even though I expected to be told to quit dance, I'm still depressed about it. I don't like worrying if my ankle is going to explode, but I don't want to stop going to class. Common sense says take a break, but...I don't want to!

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Two years ago today
Monday, May 14, 2007 - 12:17 p.m.

Granted, it's only been two years, so the data available for study is limited, but overall, I'd say our level of happiness is directly proportional to the length of our marriage. I can even draw a graph if you'd like. No? Okay.

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Go big or go home
Friday, May 11, 2007 - 10:37 a.m.

Speaking of gun violence, this story in today's news is actually kind of funny.

A Valley man is behind bars this morning after police say he shot his father with an AK-47.

For four hours, 24-year-old Christopher David Shipp led police on a manhunt. Police say around 5:00 he forced his way into his father's apartment off Grandview Drive near Zierdt Road.

They say Shipp pulled an assault rifle and shot his father in the foot. He was taken to Huntsville Hospital for injuries.

Witnesses say Shipp then left armed with the AK-47 and a .45 caliber pistol. Police evacuated the area and shut down Zierdt Road for hours.

Eventually, a tip led police to the Wal-Mart on highway 20 where they were able to negotiate with him by cell phone.

Shipp surrendered around 9:00 last night. Police say charges are pending this morning.

An AK-47? Really? And he shot the guy in the foot? How much overkill is that? I mean, I'm glad he didn't kill him, sure, but...an AK-47 to shoot a guy in the foot?

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Although Cows with Buns is not nearly so funny
Thursday, May 10, 2007 - 04:39 p.m.

Sweet leaping pork chops, people. I know that when I was twenty years old, I too was convinced that I alone could use my brain, so I'm cutting this kid some slack, but...damn. I guess this is my karmic payback for being so annoying back then. (I'm getting better, shut up.)

Maybe I just wrote my original post poorly (I was trying to keep it short-ish), but he really missed the point.

My favorite quote in his reply: "...your bias prevents you from seeing that the far majority of gun owners use their guns responsibly"

A swing and a miss! Apparently this dude has no idea that I live in Alabama. Hee!

Ooh, and another one that tickled me: "You also act as if suicide is somehow expedited by guns." Man, that's a lot to read out of a simple quoted number. I didn't offer an opinion one way or the other (except that it's kind of ironic). He just ran with that one. Actually, come to think of it, he kind of did that the whole way through.

But hey, that's better than the responses I used to get. "UR STUPID U DONT KNOW ABOUT GUNS I HAVE GUNS AND IM GLAD U HIPPY LIBRALS ARENT IN CHARGE!!!1!!" Oh, wacky illiterate fun. I kind of miss those guys.

Anyway, to reiterate my point for those who might have misunderstood: 1) Guns have one purpose - to kill people. 2) Guns kill people a lot. 3) Gun control doesn't work. 4) Why don't we ban them? 5) I KNOW we won't, geez. 6) But we probably should. So what if it doesn't stop ALL gun violence. If it stops even just thirty percent, isn't it worth it?

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In other news, the Drinking Water Festival was actually kind of fun. Enough fun, in fact, that I'm planning on volunteering again next year, possibly as a presenter. Herding 4th graders was not as difficult as I'd imagined. They were less like cats, and more like loud, shrieking sheep.

I particularly enjoyed the watershed class. They had a neat little model of a watershed, and the instructor sprinkled different colors of KoolAid at various locations around the model to represent different pollutants. Then he hosed it down with a spray bottle to show the kids how pollutants are transported. Next, the students got to make their own watershed using some Styrofoam and some aluminum foil. Since a lot of my job deals with runoff, I figured that class is right up my alley. Then again, maybe I'll come to my senses sometime in the next twelve months.

"Okay, who can tell me what a watershed is?"

"A shed that stores water!"

Man, I love kids.

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Now I have the theme song stuck in my head
Tuesday, May 8, 2007 - 04:51 p.m.

Nothing breaks up the monotony of a Tuesday afternoon like watching an episode of COPS unfold in your office parking lot. 3 police cars + 1 arrest + 1 crackpipe + 2 very large knives + 1 exceedingly cute cop = LOW OFFICE PRODUCTIVITY. Oh, this neighborhood and its wacky hijinks.

Yesterday I got conned into helping out at the Madison County Drinking Water Festival. I'll spend tomorrow helping guide 4th graders around the UAH campus to various water-related activities. They're running a little short on volunteers too, so it's entirely possible I'll be managing my group alone. Without cattle prods. I know! What are they thinking?

I am proud to report that Sunday night, I actually ran an entire mile. I even managed to run the whole thing without violently expelling a lung. Although maybe run isn't the right word. Jog, perhaps, or shuffle. Anyway, it was exercise, and I'm trying to make it a habit because we're going to the beach in June and my office ass isn't invited.

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Relay for Life
Monday, May 7, 2007 - 10:46 a.m.

Thank you so much to everyone who donated to the American Cancer Society on our behalf. When it comes to fundraising, the Relay for Life in White House was a definite success! Thanks to all of you, our little team was able to raise $1,240 online alone.

The event itself wasn't very well organized, and when the rain started pouring, I'm sorry to say that nearly everyone left. Our team kept walking until around 2:30, a long time after everyone else had stopped, and we were the last team to leave. Next year, we're planning on attending the Hendersonville Relay, which is much closer to my parents' house and appears to be much more organized.

Throughout the fundraising process, I think what really amazed me was how many of you knew someone, a friend or a family member, who has or had cancer. I heard so many stories from people about their experiences. Cancer seems to have touched everyone in one way or another. I can't thank you all enough for your contributions and support, and I hope our small efforts in White House, Tennessee make a difference for all of you and your loved ones.

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Debate Time
Friday, May 4, 2007 - 11:31 a.m.

When it comes to guns, I find myself firmly against American civilians owning and possessing firearms.

I wasn't always. My father taught me how to shoot and I've even contemplated buying a gun of my own at one time or another. But as I've gotten older, I just can't seem to see the sense in it. Logically, it just doesn't add up.

ďMy gun is for self-defense.Ē

In my experience, this is the most common argument made for owning a gun. Self-defense sounds fairly reasonable (and oh so satisfying), and sometimes it even happens. According to the US Department of Justice, between 1987 and 1992, an average of 22,000 victims (including police officers) per year defended themselves against a criminal who also had a firearm. Another 61,000 per year defended themselves against offenders who were either unarmed or armed with weapons other than firearms. Thatís 83,000 people per year who successfully or unsuccessfully used their gun in an attempt defend themselves, their family, and/or their property. (Stats)

But the number of gun owners in the United States of America is estimated at around 80 million. So, by the USDOJ statistics, only 0.1% or so of gun owners have actually employed their firearm for defense.

Another consideration is, who is being hurt most by gun ownership? Between 1999 1991* and 2001, the USDOJ reports that 161,569 were intentionally killed by guns (homicide). In that same time period, 196,113 people committed suicide using a firearm. People possessing guns were killing themselves more than they were killing other people. This, of course, doesnít include accidental deaths. (Stats)

*1999 was a typo, pointed out by a reader. I've fixed the date, but it makes the numbers no less ironic.

To be sure, Iíll fight anyone who ever threatens me or mine (Iím no pacifist), but the likelihood of me ever needing to use a gun is low. The likelihood of getting to wherever it is stored (whether loaded or unloaded) in time to any good is lower. The possible pros donít come close to outweighing the cons.

ďIf you outlaw guns, the only people who will have them will be the criminals!Ē

Maybe, but currently most violence is carried out without a weapon. Between 1993 and 2001, 65.9% of non-lethal violence and 26.6 % of lethal violence was carried out without a weapon of any kind. By comparison, only 9.5% of non-lethal and 3.8% of lethal violence was carried out using a gun. Thatís 5,863,750 crimes committed without a weapon of any sort, as compared to 846,950 committed by gun-wielding criminals. If guns were only available illegally, itís hard to believe that number would go up. (Stats)

ďGuns donít kill people. People kill people.Ē

I couldnít agree more. But I donít understand fighting for the right for people to kill other people faster and more efficiently. When was the last time someone burst into an office or a school and bludgeoned thirty people to death in ten minutes with a baseball bat? Outlawing guns might not do a lot for one-on-one violence, but it would significantly reduce the number of casualties in crowd situations. Today, if you want to kill a lot of people, you go home, get your guns, drive down to the mall/office/school and open fire. Without guns, people would still find ways to kill large numbers of other people, but why give them the option of a firearm? Why make it easy for them?

ďGuns are fun!Ē

Yes, they are. I think it has to do with our reverence of violence. Thereís just something about firing a gun that makes you feel good. But there are a lot of fun activities out there that donít involve pretending to KILL things. Maybe we should focus on those instead?

ďHunting is fun!Ē

You know I worry about a culture where we feel compelled to watch things die. I worry about a culture where killing things is thought to be fun. Hunting isnít a necessity, itís a hobby, and really, killing things should never be a hobby.

ďYou donít need to worry about the law-abiding citizens.Ē

My friend killed his wife, their friend, and then himself using his legally purchased firearm, a gun he bought for self-defense. When he bought his gun, he wasnít crazy, he wasnít a criminal, he wasnít someone the system would have caught. The idea that gun control works is laughable, because how can you know when someone might be pushed past their breaking point? How can you know whether or not your law-abiding citizen (or their child) will do something unlawful? There is no way the law can do anything but react after someone commits a crime. Thereís no legal gun violence prevention aside from banning guns entirely. (Article)

I know outlawing guns isnít an option, but Iím not sure why that is. It seems obvious that the pros of guns are far outweighed by the cons. So why, as a nation, are we so enamored with them? The sole purpose of a firearm is to kill something. Why do we want to keep them? Is it because, as a culture, we LIKE death? Is it because, as a country, we want the option of killing our neighbors open to us? Why?

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Is that even codeable?
Thursday, May 3, 2007 - 10:20 a.m.

The doctor's official diagnosis on my ankle: "Bleh! It's all squishy!"

So now begins the fun. This morning I went for an X-ray. She's pretty sure it's all ligament damage, but she wanted to make sure that there aren't any bones doing anything funny. She's planning on sending me for an MRI next week. I'm also supposed to start PT, which ought to be interesting to schedule.

Last night Todd and I stayed up late to get a large portion of the bedroom painted. The fumes forced us to sleep in the guest room, which totally freaked out the cats. This morning after a short and not-so-restful sleep (complete with unsettled cats and paint fume-fueled dreams), Todd finished cutting in the areas around the trim on all the important walls while I hauled the rest of our old furniture into the other guest room. So, we're ready for the new furniture, although there's still a lot of work to do. I'm excited to see what it looks like when I get home today!

Changing focus entirely, we finally finished watching the last 45 minutes of the Democratic presidential debate last night and I have to say, listening to Bill Richardson is PAINFUL. He needs to just go away. As for Gravel, he's mostly comic relief, although there is a lot of truth in his raving. The rest, well, they did all right (I'm still a big fan of Obama, but he didn't perform as well as I expected). I think everyone can agree that it's between Obama, Clinton, and Biden. Tonight we're recording the Republican presidential debate. I'll be interested to see who performs the best there, although I know it's going to be difficult to sit through the whole thing without vomiting at least once.

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The Fun Begins
Wednesday, May 2, 2007 - 10:19 a.m.

A week and a half ago, we finally ordered some "grown up" furniture for our bedroom. The plan was to paint the bedroom and install the new blinds PRIOR to delivery of said furniture, but we got the call Monday that it would be at our house on Thursday. So, last night found us frantically spackling, cleaning, moving furniture, removing old ugly-ass window shades, and generally preparing the room for painting. Tonight the real fun begins. The goal is to finish at least the walls that will have large, heavy objects placed in front of them. It's kind of a nightmare right now, but hopefully the end result will be worth it.

I have an appointment today to go see my doctor about a problem I've been having with my right ankle. It started back when I began dancing again, and I kind of thought it would get better. I figured it was just the result of stretching everything back out after seven years off and that it would work itself out. Well, it hasn't, it's gotten worse. But honestly, I really don't want to go to the doctor. Why? Because I have a horrible fear that she will tell me not to dance anymore. Unlikely, I know, but what if she does? I love the class Iím in. I love that Iím actually seeing progress. I love to dance. And the last thing I want to hear is STOP.

Oh yeah, about that show, Drive. Remember back when I said Fox would probably cancel it just as it got good? Uhm, yeah. Three episodes and pffft. Gone. Dead. Done. Apparently, I only like TV that sucks.

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