Spiders. Why did it have to be spiders?
Thursday, May 25, 2006 ~ 1:32 p.m.

I rushed into the office this morning, an hour late for our Safety Meeting (I was on a jobsite and forgot). Just as I was settling into the couch in the back, my coworker turns to me and hisses, "There was a black widow in our truck yesterday!" My oh-please-tell-me-you're-shitting-me squeak resounded throughout the conference room, effectively bringing the discussion at hand to a halt. Normally, I would be ashamed, but we're talking about an effing black widow here, all right?

I spent the rest of the safety meeting curled up into a ball in the corner, keening softly as my skin tried to crawl off my body. Afterwards, we went outside to look at the remains and sure enough, while unloading our sampling equipment from the bed of the truck, she squashed a giant black widow. This was the same equipment we'd stuffed into the cab of our truck Tuesday evening, and which I'd been carrying around all day yesterday. The same equipment which, in my mind, cannot be considered safe until every scrap of it has been BURNED and the ashes fired into space, preferably on a trajectory that will send them plunging into the sun.

Our new safety policy includes a provision that, under no circumstances, should anything ever again be stored under the stairs in our basement. I voted for the use of napalm, but instead they opted to call the exterminator to eradicate the eight-legged menace.

Of course, this whole episode lead the meeting around to the topic of safety during sampling. See, several of our jobs have large 2x2 well vaults. They're dark, cool, moist, and black widows LOVE them. So, here you are, heaving a heavy cast iron 2x2 cover off a vault, and just as you're turning it over, you see the vault's resident mere inches away from your thinly gloved hand. This, people, is why we wear steel-toed boots. There ain't a one of us man (or woman) enough to hang onto that cover when they see her. And you can't spray the spiders, because it'll throw off your samples. So we just have to "watch out" which in my case means "get someone else to stick their hand in there."

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In place of an actual post...
Thursday, May 18, 2006 ~ 04:57 p.m.

Holy crap, it seems like forever since I've been home. Our five days in DC were awesome. The two days at the UST Conference in Montgomery, eh, not so much. Actually, those two days were nothing short of pure torture (oh god, the Power Point, make it stop!) But anyway, DC was great.

Sadly, after being away for a week, my workload has crossed into the realm of "scary beyond all reason" and I don't actually have time to post. Instead, I'll distract you with a few pictures.

I have to post a picture of at least one recognizable landmark, just to prove we really went to DC.

We got to go on a tour of the White House, and honestly, who can resist getting their picture taken at The Podium? Of course, once up there, I felt a terrible urge to refuse to comment on the ongoing investigation.

Whilst crossing the ellipse, we stopped to turn around for a look at the White House and were pounced upon by a cop who was very unhappy that we might actually want to view a national landmark at a distance of several thousand feet. Moments later, Marine One buzzed the area where we had been standing and landed on the South Lawn. I reckon if that cop hadn't run us all away, someone might have whipped a rocket launcher from its carefully concealed hiding place in their ass and caused a ruckus.

I have a thing for stonework and DC is just chock full of beautiful carvings. This was on some random office building between our hotel and the Mall.

And of course, the obligatory picture under the seal at the West Wing.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006 ~ 03:52 p.m.

Bush Backs Brother Jeb for White House

Thank you, Yahoo News, for nearly sending me into cardiac arrest (as you no doubt intended) with your poorly worded headline.

Jeb Bush running for President. I can't imagine anything more frightening. You know, except for Cheney. Besides, even if Jeb ran, he'd never be elected.


....Hold me.

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Mountain Climbing
Wednesday, May 10, 2006 ~ 03:22 p.m.

This past weekend Todd and I drove up to Chattanooga so Todd could (willingly!) participate in what can only be described as an Official Day of Pain. This little piece of voluntary hell is called the 3 State 3 Mountain Challenge and it involves riding ONE HUNDRED miles on a BICYCLE over THREE mountains. Crap, I get tired just typing that. I think I need to rest a moment.

Whew. So anyway, the profile looks something like this:

Except that doesn't really convey just how high these mountains are or the sheer amount of guts and self-control it takes to get up them.

Todd's mom and I followed him around for 8 hours while he and over a thousand other cyclists pushed themselves to the absolute limit. The entire time I was just in awe of all the riders, because me, I'm a car kind of gal. There were even KIDS doing this thing, which just blew my mind. The last climb was so unspeakably difficult and you could see pain on just about every face as they crept by. They were all having fun doing something they love, but even though I was cheering them on, I still couldn't quite comprehend WHY they were doing it.

But even though I don't understand why Todd likes to to torture himself so, I sure as hell am proud of him.

We leave for DC tomorrow. Let the picture-taking commence!

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Watching the bar drop
Tuesday, May 9, 2006 ~ 04:36 p.m.

This kind of thing just blows my mind.

From this article:

"A judge said Monday he is likely to prohibit the state from requiring that high school seniors pass an exit exam to graduate, siding with attorneys who say the test discriminates against the poor."

Yes, that's right. The poor have no right to a decent education. It's acceptable that "schools in large cities" are substandard. All that matters is getting the right percentage of bodies out the door.

How do they not see that kind of thinking is actually encouraging poverty?

And how stupid do you have to be to think that the EXAM is the problem? "wel we would have a hi graduashun rate eksept for dis here test and hoo needs to no how to ad numbers and spel wurds anyway!!!!!"

Actually, I highly suspect the real motivation here is these people are afraid that if their kids are forced to stick around and get a decent education, they'll soon be the only idiots left.

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I'm a traditionalist
Thursday, May 4, 2006 ~ 03:08 p.m.

Just in case you were under the impression that I am not a total geek, I freely admit that I squealed when I read this:

This September: Original Unaltered Trilogy on DVD

Oh yeah, I'm a nerd.

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Mind over matter
Thursday, May 4, 2006 ~ 12:19 p.m.

Today was my third day of getting up and running before work, and apparently, despite three years of working out for the canoe team, I'd forgotten just how much running sucks. Don't get me wrong, I love how I feel afterwards. It's just the part while I'm actually running is so indescribably miserable that I can't believe I'm doing it of my own free will, and not, say, because I'm being chased by a pack of ravenous hyenas.

Even back when I was in shape, I hated running. Now, I argue with myself every time.

"Self, this is so totally within your scope. You can do this!"
"Yeah, but I don't WANT to."
"But you'll feel great later!"
"But I feel like shit now."
"Just think, you're banishing the office ass at this very moment!"
"And my lungs are about to leap free of my chest cavity and set out to find a new, simpler life, free of crushing pain and exertion."
"If you keep doing this, it'll get easier."
"And if I stop now, things will drastically and immediately improve."
"Uhm, good point."
"No kidding."
"Wait! I know! Pride! There's always pride. As in, stop with the whining, you effing pansy, and keep going!"

So, I've been running. And I hate it (HATE!). But when I come to work, I'm more awake. I have more energy all day. My back is feeling 100% better. I'm not worried about office ass. I know I'm healthier. Blah blah blah happy bunnies sunshine blah blah blah. Even though it sucks, the side effects are great.

But I still have to say, all you people out there who run for fun? You people are batshit CRAZY.

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They do it just to screw with me
Tuesday, May 2, 2006 ~ 08:34 a.m.

Email password, blog password, insurance passwords, cell phone password, work password, client password, ASCE password, bank password. Too many damn passwords for my already crowded mind.

For security reasons, my bank makes you reset your password every month. Even worse, it won't let you re-use passwords. And apparently, last time I changed it, I had used all my usual password combinations and had to make up a new one. Now, I CAN'T REMEMBER IT. I recall the last five, but not the current one.

Okay, that's aggravating, but no biggie, they have a "Forgot Your Password?" link. So I clicked on it and, lo and behold, to get my password, I had to complete three questions. But I NEVER GAVE THEM THE ANSWERS. And even though I know my grandmother's middle name and all that crap, the bank doesn't. So it locked down my account, because OBVIOUSLY some criminal mastermind was trying to guess their way in.

I'm letting the cursing die down before I call Customer Service. And from now on, if any of you want to break into any of my accounts, all you'll need to do is liberate the password list I'm going to start keeping. I just thought you'd like to know.

In other news, I got my lazy ass up and ran this morning. Go me!

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Monday, May 1, 2006 ~ 01:48 p.m.

This weekend, Todd and I went all domestic and hosted a small get-together with our new neighbors and some friends. In preparation, we scrubbed, scraped, vacuumed, dusted, and de-junked the entire house. Todd also mowed the yard and we finally fixed up one of the flower beds that's been neglected for the past three years. So, I'd just like to register that right now, our house looks awesome.

Of course, I'm sure the cats are rectifying that situation as I type. Lilo and Tiki are likely dancing down the hallway merrily dispersing wads of fur and cat litter, while Nala knocks over lamps and Stitch pukes in the center of the living room. Later, the dogs will conspire to track the better part of our back yard through the kitchen and dining room, while the cats turn their attention to shedding on the sofa. And everything will be back to normal. I should have gotten pictures.

I had every intention of getting up this morning to start running again. I did. But I think if I have to get up at 5 AM, I'll need to start going to bed at around, say, 8 PM. As for today, I certaintly wasn't jumping out of bed and running out the door. Hell, I'm not sure I was even breathing at 5 AM. But since I've re-discovered a fondness for pound cake and brownies, it's in my best interest to haul my ass up out of bed tomorrow morning. Yeah, we'll see how that goes.

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