A couple of thoughts
Wednesday, December 29, 2004 ~ 01:33 p.m.

I guess it's Nature's prerogative to step up and remind us all who's really in charge of this planet. Sometimes, we forget.

Now they're estimating over 80,000 people dead. At a thousand, it was already pretty horrific. 80,000 is mind-boggling. But with all the dead, one interesting thing stands out...no dead animals.

Kind of makes you wonder at what point we humans lost touch with the world around us. I mean, if a rabbit can figure out that something bad is coming, it makes sense that we would be able to too. But obviously not many people, if any, had any warning. So where along the way did we lose the ability to detect these things?

On a somewhat bitter note, isn't it funny how no one yet has said anything about it being disrespectful to show pictures of the dead tsunami victims? It's interesting that it's acceptable to show pictures of the bloated corpses of non-Americans, but not our dead soldiers. It occurs to me that the world is somewhat overpopulated with hypocritical assholes.

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An Almost White Christmas
Tuesday, December 28, 2004 ~ 12:04 p.m.

The drive up to Nashville Friday morning was beautiful. I waited a little while to leave, so the sun would have time melt some of the ice on the roadways. The interstate, it turned out, was mostly clear except for the shoulders - TDOT put out so much salt that the roads still looked like snow. But if the roads were clear, everything else was coated in ice. With the sun at my back, every branch of every tree glittered. In several places it had snowed on top of the ice, and the effect was gorgeous. I'd have stopped to take a few pictures, if I could have found a spot to pull over.

It was all very nice and scenic until I got to Hendersonville and discovered that no effort had been made to clear the side roads. I slipped and slid my way home, then barely made it up the driveway. Of course, later that day most of the roads thawed out, although the snow and ice on the ground and trees held on through Sunday. It wasn't exactly a white Christmas - more of a greeny-brown with patches of white, really - but it made it feel more in season.

I had a great time at home. Friday I made it out to see JoAnna and Kimberly and exchange gifts with them. My grandparents didn't get to leave town on time, so I even got to see them briefly. Despite the icy church parking lot, we made it to the late Christmas Eve service. Saturday, we wound up with two additional people at our Christmas dinner - a coworker of my dad's who was gassed out of her apartment by the water treatment plant and her friend. Still, there was plenty of food and a good time was had by all.

I got some great gifts, too. Among them: a nice fuzzy jacket, some really great kitchen stuff, pretty decorations, and the first season of 24 (AKA The Best Show on Earth). Only now that he's bought it for me does Todd understand the addictive power of 24. :-D

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Change of Plans
Thursday, December 23, 2004 ~ 03:15 p.m.

Apparently the roads between here and Hendersonville are iced. As a result, my parents and Todd have asked me not to leave until tomorrow morning. Since I have no desire to spend my Christmas trapped in a ditch along I-65, I'll be heeding their advice. I guess that means that tonight the cats and I wrap presents.

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In a less angry vein...
Wednesday, December 22, 2004 ~ 02:46 p.m.

Happy Birthday to my Mother!
I wish I could be there to celebrate it tonight. :-)

And in other news:

This is just funny: Planned Parenthood has a program where you can pledge $0.25 or $1 per protestor. So, they earn money with every picketer, assuming no one has a bomb or an assault rifle or something. Isn't that just beautiful? I mean, regardless of your feelings on abortion, you have to admit that's clever.

Today we had our office Christmas party. Let me tell you...they're not a lively bunch. But I did manage to score another Cobie-creation in the Dirty Santa game. It's a cedar candlebox with a snowman carved in it. Very pretty, and it smells wonderful. It's also approximately ten thousand times better than the saxophone-playing, gyrating Santa doll I almost got stuck with. *shudder*

I leave for Hendersonville tomorrow night and I still haven't completed my Christmas shopping. Five gifts left to buy (and my sister's birthday present). The plan is to finish it up tomorrow at lunch, but we'll see what happens. It may be that my dad and I make the traditional Christmas Eve run to Opry Mills for some frantic last-minute shopping. In that event, procrastination just might be the death of me.

I can't believe it's almost Christmas!

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'Tis the season for...lawsuits?
Wednesday, December 22, 2004 ~ 09:46 a.m.

Iím cool with people wishing me Happy Holidays. It doesnít bother me at all. Iím also okay with being wished a Happy Chanukah/Kwanza/Christmas/Yule/other (circle one). If you get mad over being wished a merry holiday-you-donít-celebrate, then youíre obviously missing the point. And if you correct that person, youíre just being annoying. Me, I smile and say thanks. Personally, Iíd like to have a happy Chanukah or whatever else. I like to be happy.

What does piss me off is the deliberate exclusion of Christianity from holiday celebrations. Lately, it seems Iíve been reading lots of articles about fights over decorations or music referencing Christ being excluded, even from displays where other holidays are being celebrated. Letís think about thisÖif itís okay to mention a ďholidayĒ that was manufactured in the 1960s by people who apparently had too much free time on their hands (*cough*kwanza*cough*), how is it not okay to reference the 2000-year-old religion that the majority of this countryís citizens belong to?

Itís kind of like the whole Ten Commandments issue. I didnít have a problem with them being on display in front of Roy Mooreís courthouse. Stuff like that only becomes a problem when you donít let other groups put up monuments of their own. Iím all about including religions and holidays, instead of just banning them out of hand. Even if I think theyíre dumb (*cough*kwanza*cough*).

So all the people who get offended when Silent Night comes on the radio need to take a step back and think about the true meaning of freedom of religion. It goes both ways.

After all, nowhere in our Constitution do you have the right to never be offended.

And so, Merry Christmas!

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I'll be home for Christmas...
Tuesday, December 21, 2004 ~ 10:49 a.m.

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Stupidity Abounds
Monday, December 20, 2004 ~ 03:13 p.m.

1. The University of Georgia is changing their admissions policy BACK to race-based criteria. Apparently, racial discrimination is only bad if it DOESN'T screw the white man.

2. Today George W. Bush was declared Man of the Year by Time magazine for "reshaping the rules of politics to fit his 10-gallon-hat leadership style" and "for reframing reality to match his design, for gambling his fortunes ó and ours ó on his faith in the power of leadership."

3. I think I should add that the President then goes on to deride people for calling Afghanistan a quagmire. Call me crazy, but I believe that was said about Iraq. The man STILL can't keep the two countries straight...which is probably why Saddam is sitting in Osama's cell.

4. Then there's this article that reads like my worst nightmare.

5. Oh, and now we're pissed off about Donald Rumsfeld rubber-stamping condolence letters. We're not mad that so many letters have to be written because of Rumsfeld's fuck-ups. We're just mad that he won't sign them himself.

Is it just me, or does America get stupider every day?

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Because it was too good not to post...
Friday, December 17, 2004 ~ 03:58 p.m.

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Good for her!
Thursday, December 16, 2004 ~ 09:25 a.m.

I've never read the Earthsea books, but I was slightly interested in the SciFi miniseries. Still, remembering what they did to Children of Dune, I figured they'd probably screw it up. Then I heard they were using the same guy who adapted Mists of Avalon for TV.

No thank you.

Turns out, I was right not to watch it. Ursula K. Le Guin herself was offended enough by what they did to her books that she decided to write about it. You can read her opinion here.

Maybe I'll read the books someday.

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But you get the idea...
Wednesday, December 15, 2004 ~ 04:53 p.m.

My day began with copious amounts of cat vomit and ended with stepping in dog poo while surveying elevations at Monte Sano Terrace. The time in between was only marginally better. No detail is necessary.

On the upside, I'll be eating lunch with Ken and Laurie next Monday. I haven't really talked to either of them in over a year, although I saw Laurie at Jamos a couple weeks ago. It'll be nice to catch up with them.

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The most recent joys of owning cats
Tuesday, December 14, 2004 ~ 01:48 p.m.

While rushing to leave for my grandparentsí house on time during third massive power outage in 8 days, Tiki crawled inside my desk, behind an opened drawer. When I shut the drawer, she was trapped. It took me 40 minutes to find her and I tore the house apart in the process.

Only eight hours earlier, I had followed her desperate meows and found her trapped in Toddís closet. A few days before, she spent the entire night in the guest room, then escaped only to be locked in the hall closet. Apparently she doesn't pay attention to clichťs.

Possibly in retaliation, one of the cats chewed through a wire for the Christmas tree lights while we were gone. Fortunately, the lights were unplugged, so we didnít have to scrape cat remains off the ceiling. We repaired the wire, but itís officially a fire hazard now.

They also ate Toddís favorite ornament from Pike's Peak. We still haven't found all the pieces. Previously, they tore down and molested one of the ornaments made for me the year I was born. Both ornaments were located approximately five feet up the tree. I have this mental image of all three cats standing on each other's shoulders to reach them. "I can...almost...reach...it...."

Then to top it all off, yesterday morning Tiki decided to bite the hand that feeds her. Todd is much the worse for wear, although in the end it was mostly a draw.

The largest member of the Yeldell-Watts Triumvirate of Feline Evil only weighs 14 pounds. How do they cause this much trouble?

The nearest Chinese restaurant is only three miles away...

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Just another day in the swamp
Thursday, December 9, 2004 ~ 03:38 p.m.

The carpet under my desk is soaking wet, as is the carpet in the server room next door. Actually, pretty much every office has a leak in it, and so the entire second floor smells like mildew. Surprisingly, the first floor doesn't appear to have any leaks at all. Go figure.

Thanks to the rain today, I'll be out of the office on Monday sampling for the environmental department. I'm actually pretty happy with that. It might be miserable work, but it's out of the office. It's also good billable time, which keeps the higher-ups happy with me.

So I wanted to stop by a store tonight to look at bridesmaid dresses. Turns out they're open from 9 to 5. WTF? Who is going to go look at bridesmaid dresses between 9 and 5? People who don't work I guess. This is truly getting to be ridiculous.

On the upside, I got two more Christmas gifts knocked out today! Go me!

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"The raccoon did not survive."
Tuesday, December 7, 2004 ~ 02:26 p.m.

You just have to love NPR's reporting style sometimes. Utterly solemn, especially when chronicling the unfortunate fate of the raccoon who sacrificed his life at a Huntsville substation so that I and 43,999 others might all go home from work two hours early yesterday.

I'll be in Adairville, Kentucky tomorrow. Yay.

In other news, this report on the errors and distortions in some federally-funded abstinence-only programs is utterly horrifying. I want to believe it's exaggerated, that's how bad it looks. Maybe FactCheck.org will weigh in on it?

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Getting into the Christmas Spirit
Monday, December 6, 2004 ~ 09:48 a.m.

There is nothing more likely to destroy my feelings of peace and goodwill to men than Christmas shopping.

Don't get me wrong. I love to buy presents for people. It's just that I am a chronic procrastinator. My motto is "Why do today what you can put off indefinitely?" This isn't good when applied to a lot of things...especially Christmas shopping. Every year, I pledge to follow in the steps of my mother and finish my Christmas shopping around, say, February. But every year, I put it off until I'm stuck in the same predicament I am now.

So, faced with a mounting pile of presents under the tree (Toddís efficiency shames me) and a growing sense of panic, I decided to brave the new mall here in Huntsville on Saturday afternoon. Todd was kind enough to come along as a buffer between me people I might want to beat with a full shopping bag. Anyone who knows me, knows that that I have very little crowd tolerance. As soon as you stick me in a seething mass of noisy and inconsiderate "humanity," I start to tense up. I don't usually enjoy shopping in general; Christmas shopping, where I have absolutely no idea what I want to buy and am therefore forced to wander until I do find something, is tantamount to Sarah torture and, like dwarf-tossing, should probably be outlawed by the UN.

The trip started out with a lesson from Todd: "You have to try to stay calm. Try to enjoy the season. Now put on this muzzle and we'll go inside." To my credit, I did manage to squash most of my usual frustration with crowds and navigate the malls without my blood pressure jumping through the roof. That's mostly because it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be people-wise, although I wouldn't have put it past Todd to have slipped some valium into my drink at lunch. I still didn't find much in the way of gifts, though. It seems like there is an inordinate amount of pure crap for sale this year, and not much else. I'm thinking that most of my subsequent shopping will be done at Kohl's.

After spending most of last week drilling out at UNA in Florence, I'm glad to be back in the office for today. It looks like I'll be back in Adairville, KY tomorrow to re-run the resistivity test Jackie and I did back in October. Nothing like driving six hours round trip for an hour's worth of work.

Chsitmas shopping aside, this past weekend was really nice. Todd and I threw a little Christmas get-together Friday night that turned out to be a lot of fun. Also, between the two turkeys, the ham, and all the food everyone else brought, we've been eating leftovers all weekend. Saturday we made it to the hockey game and Sunday we visited a church I really liked. Not much else got done Saturday and Sunday, although I did get a little more unpacked and, of course, started my Christmas shopping. Oh and we've made good progress on the much-harder-than-it-looks puzzle Mo and Elizabeth brought for their gift.

Also, for those who have asked, my wishlist is posted at Whishlist.com.

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