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Bridge fall down go boom
Thursday, August 31, 2006 - 04:35 p.m.

Even though I'm horrifically busy at work, I took the morning off to go see them drop the middle span of the C.C. Clay bridge.

After all, nothing says stress relief like explosive demolition.

Heh. It was cool.

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Monday, August 28, 2006 - 02:34 p.m

Early Saturday morning my grandmother had a stroke. My sister called me a little after 8:00 with the news. A few hours later, I was sitting in the waiting room with my parents and grandfather, waiting for the neurosurgeon to come and talk to us. He showed up not long after with the good news that he had removed all the blood and that the swelling in her brain had already gone down. A few minutes later, we slipped into the ICU to hold her hands and to stroke her face so she would know we were there and that she is loved, then I took my mother home so we could prepare for the coming onslaught of uncles, aunts, and cousins.

Yesterday, she was semi-awake and talking a little. She recognized us all and even joked a little. Her head was still completely covered in bandages, but that's probably a good thing because she's going to be so mad when she realizes they shaved off all her hair. She wanted to go home; my grandfather had to explain to her that she wasn't well enough to leave. She nodded off while I was there, so I kissed her cheek and told her I'd see her on Friday. She woke up just enough to tell me goodbye.

I am so lucky to have all four of my grandparents. But while I know intellectually that they cannot live forever, I can't begin to imagine this world without them. This weekend wasn't as bad as it could have been, but it was plenty close enough, and I can't help but be afraid.

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Oxidizers and LRPs and lead filters, oh my!
Friday, August 25, 2006 - 08:33 p.m.

Wow, nearly 10 days without a post. I know some of you were starting to get your hopes up that maybe I'd been devoured by wild hyenas or gotten run over by a train, but no. It's just been an absolutely crazy week at work.

The majority of my work deals with permitting stormwater discharge from construction sites or industrial facilities. I have about 25 sites in all, and every one requires at least one inspection per month. More, when it rains a lot. I'm always working up a management plan or a permit, or conducting inspections, or sampling, or something. And half the time it's on short notice. I enjoy the work, but it gets a little overwhelming at times.

In addition to getting hit with a bunch of inspections and permits (as well as a resistivity test in freakin' Bolivar, Tennessee), my system at my UST site was FINALLY brought online this week.

Well, here it is. One of the biggest, baddest Dual-Phase Extraction systems in Northern Alabama.

This pump is a badass. Take my word for it.

These DPE systems are tricksy to begin with. Add a catalytic oxidizer to the equation and it gets even more finicky. This system seems to be working fairly well, although not without a few hiccups here and there. Still, overall, it was a smooth startup. The only real concern is that the neighbor's grandbrat thinks our setup would make a great fort. The last thing I need is to come in one day and find little Timmy fried to the oxidizer stack.

ADEM requires us to monitor a new system every day for seven days after startup, so this weekend I'll be out there taking readings and collecting air samples. Woot.

I just wanted to share what it is that has consumed my life these last few days. Given how busy I've been, that's pretty much all I have to talk about anyway.

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Clearly not on the same page
Wednesday, August 16, 2006 - 02:53 p.m.

One thing that I have really been trying to avoid lately is saying anything along the lines of "When I'm a parent, I will never _________." See, I know that's just setting myself up for trouble when we actually do reproduce. But after browsing through the Shutterfly Childhood Adventures Photo Contest, I think I am ready to make a declaration:

When I'm a parent, I will NEVER feed my toddler spaghetti.

Further, if anyone happens to feed my child spaghetti when I am not present, they had better not take pictures of the event, because, my god, the sight of a small child covered head to toe in chewed spaghetti debris is revolting beyond words.

I suspect my marinaraphobia has an awful lot to do with the time I projectile-vomited an entire meal's worth of homemade spaghetti over the walls of our downstairs bathroom. Let me tell you, that will scar a person (just ask my poor mother, who wound up with cleaning duty that fateful night). Even now, I carry the horror of that image with me. So, the only way I can see myself feeding a toddler spaghetti is if I get to pressure-wash the child every 30 seconds or so. I certainly don't find myself cooing over the image of someone else's spawn reveling in the amount of marinara they can rub in between their toes, you know? Blerhk.

Oh, and I also declare that I will never name my child Mhasyn. Because, WTF are you thinking when you name your child something that sounds like the result of drunken Scrabble?

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It's a contest!
Tuesday, August 15, 2006 - 12:54 p.m.

Today I discovered that Shutterfly has photo contests. And apparently, every shmuck with a camera feels like their photos ought to be shared with others, regardless of quality. Obviously, Im not really an exception to this, although I at least understand that a date stamp detracts from the overall artistic impact of a picture.

The worst are the kids photos contests. Not only are the majority of the pictures lousy, they all seem to have captions like this:

"Here is my GORGEOUS baby playing in our back yard!"

And what you get is a blurry picture of a deformed monkey eating grass.

Anyway, after browsing through loads of crappy photos, I decided I wanted to see where Id rank in of it, so I entered the Flowers and Gardens contest. Dont get me wrong, there are some awesome photos on there. I dont expect to win anything, but Im curious to see how Ill come out overall.

It took me a while to decide which picture of mine to add to the pot, because you only get one entry. It was a toss-up between this picture or this one. I think the lily one is better, but I decided to go with color in the end. Besides, I took the lily picture when my dad was having surgery last year and it's not a happy photo for me, you know? And I like happy.

So, my photo entry is found he-

Eh, wait a minute. I know you people. Never mind. Uhm, wish me luck.

P.S. Holy crap, I just typed "because" as "ebacsue." That makes me QUEEN OF ALL TYPOS!

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A Cat Haiku
Tuesday, August 15, 2006 - 10:04 a.m.

Banfield Pet Clinic
Why did you shave my cat's neck?
Now she looks stupid

Stitch says: "Look, bitch, put down the camera and stop making fun of my neck, or I'll drop a turd on your pillow."

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The Itsy Bitsy Spider(s)
Monday, August 14, 2006 - 11:32 a.m.

Last Thursday evening, after a round of Alabama's finest severe weather, Todd and I arrived home to find that we had no power. Since there was a huge power outage on our side of town, it wasn't unexpected. But as the sun began to set, it quickly became obvious that only two houses in the entire neighborhood were without power: us and our neighbors. We went outside, saw the problem on the transformer, and called Huntsville Utilities. We explained that it was only our little nub of a street without power and they agreed to send someone out. Then we waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, we called them back.

"Oh, your work order was deleted because the guys drove by and saw that you had power in your neighborhood."

Thank you, Huntsville Utilities. Because why go to the address of a call when you can just do a drive-by half a mile away?

Friday evening, Todd left for Atlanta. I stayed home to finish up some work and to get things ready for Jessica to come and stay with us this week. So I was completely and utterly alone when I walked into the kitchen that night and discovered a LIVING NIGHTMARE. Baby spiders, covering the kitchen floor, crawling, escaping into tiny crevices around my home where they will live and grow and BREED and unleash a hairy spider army to destroy civilization as we know it AND OH SWEET GOD IN HEAVEN, THEY'RE EVERYWHERE, DIE YOU TINY MINIONS OF SATAN, DIE!

Those of you who know me know that the sight of hundreds, if not thousands, of baby spiders in a room is more than enough to make me completely and totally lose my shit. It's not that I'm scared of baby spiders, it's just that they inevitably grow up into giant, hairy, creepy spiders that sneak up on you and crawl and - okay, I just can't think about this. Brrrack.

All I can say is that it's a good thing I was already planning on cleaning, because by the time I got done, our entire kitchen floor was a sea of toxic chemicals. If it hadn't been for the calming voices of my parents, I believe I'd have emptied the entire can of spider killer. And then I'd probably have hurled the empty can at a spider corpse or two. You know, just in case.

The only answer is that during our prolonged power outage, the spiders crept into our home under cover of darkness. Yes, they snuck in specifically to unleash their unholy brood where it would cause me the most psychological damage possible. They had to have, because there is no way my brain can accept the idea that they might have been there all along.

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Coming back to haunt me
Wednesday, August 9, 2006 - 03:55 p.m.

You know, it wasn't until I was actually halfway through the Pilates class that I realized the last time I attended was before I got married. As in, at least one year and three months ago. This was pathetically evident as I struggled to keep my legs and arms in position, while my eyes crossed and I forgot to breathe, and "Jesus H. Christ, lady, I'm dying here and you want me to do WHAT?" As the class wore on, I began to worry that at any second my abs were going to go SPROING and snap right out of my torso, possibly taking out a classmate or two. I was also afraid that, given how feebly spastic my movements had become, the teacher was going to think I was having a grand mal seizure and attempt to administer first aid of an unnecessary and invasive sort. Maybe it was just her way of saying "welcome back, slacker," but it honestly seemed as if she deliberately selected all the difficult exercises in an effort to torture me in the most efficient manner possible. I somehow made it through everything, but by the end of class I was officially toast.

I swear, it wasn't this hard last time I started these classes, so let this be an object lesson of what fifteen months of laziness will do to a person.

On a totally unrelated note, this cracked me up:

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Now I'm the crazy one
Monday, August 7, 2006 - 03:04 p.m.

As much as I hate to wish time away, I can't wait for August to be over and done with. Out of all the months of the year, this one is my least favorite. I still have a special hatred for February, but at least it has the decency to limit itself to 28 days. August seems to never end.

It's hot here in Alabama. So hot that lately I just haven't been able to bring myself to do anything outside. Unless, of course, I'm being paid for it. Yard work, exercising, everything has been dropped until I can tolerate being outside for longer than it takes to get to my car.

As a result, I think I'm starting to develop a serious case of cabin fever. Lately it seems like I'm bored with everything. I can't figure out what it is I want to do, but I'm constantly feeling like I should be doing something else. This weekend, all I knew was that I didn't want to sit at home and watch movies. But did I have an alternative? No. I only knew what I didn't want to do, and that's not really helpful at all. In fact, it makes me downright irritable. Such a joy to be around.

My partial solution to this restlessness is to start attending pilates classes again. I really enjoyed them, but when work started overlapping the schedule, I had to quit. My hours finally settled down, but I wasn't motivated to go back. Now I'm ready to give it a shot and see if it keeps me sane.

Because if this doesn't work, I'm telling you, by September I'll be bouncing off my very own set of padded walls. That, or Todd might send me to Russia.

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The crazies are always good for a laugh
Friday, August 4, 2006 - 01:46 p.m.

As if we needed any more proof that conservative Americans are batshit insane, we have this article from Yahoo News about the negative reactions of some 5,000+ subscribers of babytalk magazine to a cover image of a baby being breastfed. My favorite quote: "Another reader said she was "horrified" when she received the magazine and hoped that her husband hadn't laid eyes on it." Hee!

But the mother of a four-month old who said the picture was "gross" is almost as funny. I mean, what do these people think boobs are FOR anyway?

Silly little wingnuts.


My office is on the less-populated side of the building where there's a nice, long hallway. Based on my observations from the last few days, this hallway is perfect for the following activities:

If this keeps up, I'll have to start wearing a helmet and shoulder pads to go the copy room. Seriously.


This weekend Jackie is coming to visit. We'd contemplated going camping down at his lake lot, but decided that when it's 97 degrees at 7:00 in the evening, there's nothing fun about camping. I think to just survive the weekend outdoors, we'd pretty much have to spend every moment up to our necks in the water like a small herd of hippos.

We'd also discussed a canoe trip down the Flint River, but determined that would suck even more than camping, heat-wise. I have no idea what we'll do instead. All our other options seem to be some variant of "sit around and be lazy." Which actually doesn't sound all that bad, now that I think on it...

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I guess I'm stuck with him
Wednesday, August 2, 2006 - 04:52 p.m.

Today I received the happy news that now Todd is NOT (NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT!) going to Russia for three months. Most likely not, anyway. I mean, they could always decide to send him tomorrow or something. But for now, NOT! On one hand, I'm deliriously happy. The place he ISN'T going is the Shchuchye Chemical Weapons Arsenal, about 975 miles east of Moscow. About 10,482,047,560.41 miles from Huntsville, Alabama. From me.

On the other hand, I know he really wanted to go and it would have been pretty cool (for him). Lots of new things to do and new people to meet, and a really interesting job. It sounded like an awesome opportunity, so I'm honestly disappointed for him.

In other, totally unrelated news, it wasn't until I started watching the local news in the mornings that I realized just how many pedestrians in Northern Alabama are getting whacked by cars. And it's always because they're doing something stupid like trying to cross 10 lanes of Memorial Parkway AT NIGHT or pushing their infant child in a stroller down a busy highway...AT NIGHT. Its like your daily dose of Darwin. I'm telling you, these people must be related to possums.

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Deportable or Other?
Tuesday, August 1, 2006 - 02:47 p.m.

The email reads:

"Were continuing our efforts to compile a complete picture of our members with a new component for race-ethnicity data on the ASCE profile. Compiling this information allows us to strengthen our member base and enhance or create products and services to meet the needs of our diverse membership."

The actual profile options are these:

What they mean:

"Were continuing our efforts to root out illegal civil engineering immigrants with a new component for giving yourself up to INS on the ASCE profile. Compiling this information allows us to inform the government of the enemies among us and enhance or create products and services to deport our suspiciously brown membership."

Seriously, WTF? Why the sudden selective interest?

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