2.25.2009

I love Paul Krugman

I love Paul Krugman. Well, not in a "he's on my top 10 celebrities I'd sleep with list" but you know, more of a sometimes he makes me say "right on!" and stuff. Anyway, this is a long way around the point of he wrote an article on his blog today that hit the nail on the head about Jindal's rebuttal to the SOTU address last night. Read it all here.

I've heard of Jindal, in all his Indian American glory, but I'd never heard him speak until last night. He sounded like he was doing an impersonation of Carl Sagan. It was so strange. And like Krugman, I was totally perplexed by his picking on volcanic monitoring...especially since his state of Louisiana was rendered impotent by a different sort of natural disaster, but a natural disaster nonetheless. It's almost like saying, we don't believe in monitoring potential threats to the population, even though we (more than anyone) should know the danger in ignoring them.

Anyway, Krugman had my heart going pitty-pat with this little bit of magic:
Basically, the political philosophy of the GOP right now seems to consist of snickering at stuff that they think sounds funny. The party of ideas has become the party of Beavis and Butthead.
He said Butt. Hnn.Hnn.Hnn.

2.24.2009

Thoughts on the State of the Union

Just some thoughts I had as I listened to the SOTU address.

Reinvest in auto makers? Why are we continuing to invest in automobiles? Why aren't we reducing our commitment to a dinosaur on its way to extinction? I'd rather see big ideas on how to get Americans to drive less.

The education portion of the SOTU seemed to focus solely on a college education. Having stood in front of a college classroom, as many of you have, I know that most of those kids who show up aren't prepared to be there. If we are going to increase college graduation rates, we are going to have to address these problems. Which means, investing in public education. Maybe, just maybe....(are you listening Liv?)...we should consider teaching in high schools for some portion of our careers.

Health care. I didn't hear any ideas. Handy being president. You can just tell Congress to send you legislation when you don't know what to do. Hee.

Check's in the mail? Every family making under $250K gets a check back? Did I hear that right? Too many Mardi Gras pancakes, I think.

I hope he means what he says about taking care of veterans. They've had to struggle for too long to get what should have been given to them in gratitude.

Guantanamo Bay is closing! Did you guys hear that the "terrorist" from Britain was returned there and released after being detained briefly by British authorities today?

Sorry, not much more than that tonight. I have a bit of a headache.

Biting the Hand that Hosts Me


Blogger has an issue that prevents people from leaving comments on some blogs (but not all apparently) that use word verification to reduce spam in their comments. To rectify this problem on my end, I have turned off word verification temporarily. You should be able to leave comments now. This brings up a larger issue and that is that if you encounter problems in the use of the blogspot site, or with your hosted blog, there is no way for you to contact blogger/blogspot/google directly with your problem. You must go to the discussion boards for blogger and just leave a comment. No one seems entirely sure how or if blogger staff are actually monitoring these boards or not. Guess who is getting bent over in this deal? It's us. The users. I was reading an article the other day asking if Google was getting too big. Perhaps, it is.

But Google/Blogger isn't the only ones with these customer service issues. Just this morning, I had to contact my doctor to explain to them that I have already paid their bill, have the check receipt to prove it, have verification from my bank that it was cashed. What more can I do here?

Oh, perhaps I can call ESA to find out what happened with a grant I applied for in May 2008. No award winner was announced at ESA last year. I have received no letter indicating that someone else got the award, and I have emailed the contact for that award twice with no response. I have made two phone calls so far to ESA to try to find out what's going on. During the first, I was told that the person I needed to talk to was not in the office today. No offer was made to take a message or transfer me to voice mail. The second call this morning, I was told that the person I needed to talk to was out to lunch. I asked if I could leave a message since I had already called more than once. I was told that the person I wished to talk to didn't have voice mail. I felt like saying, "Hey! Miss Entitlement! I didn't ask to be put into voice mail. I asked to leave a message. You know. Like with you! While I know that you grew up in the digital age, the idea is you take out a piece of paper and a pencil and you write down my name and number and when so-and-so comes in from lunch, you hand it to her. It's called, taking a message."

Is it laziness? Incompetence? Employment for air heads? And for God's sake, this is the same bunch that puts on one of the industry's largest conventions each year and they don't have voice mail? Seriously?

OK. I realize that I walked uphill both ways to and from school and I'm pushing the limits of becoming my grandparents, but arrrrrrrrrrgh.

2.23.2009

Rogue horse in Paris



My French is rather rusty, but from what I can piece together of this title, it's something like "Rogue Horse Stopped by the Police", which would make sense, or maybe they actually mean "Rogue Horse Arrested by the Police", which would be cute. Well, as cute as a rogue horse running rampant through the Paris streets can be. These things are always amazing to me that no one gets hurt and the animal isn't struck by a car.

In any event, having been on the back of a horse once that decided to go "rogue", I can understand the helplessness that the police must have felt. However, the person leaning out the car window was probably extremely lucky that s/he wasn't able to get hold of the horse. I imagine it would have pulled him/her out of the car window and onto the street. I thought we were going to see a Darwin Award winner for sure!

It's Monday Morning

Are you ready to get your blood pressure pumping?


Take a trip over to US News and World Report and check this out. It's their latest poll.

If you had a choice of four daycare centers run separately by Michelle Obama, Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton, and Nancy Pelosi, which would you choose for your kids?

View Results
WTF?

Stay tuned tomorrow when the poll will be: If you had a choice of four Senators for your child to have a homosexual relationship with during their internship in Washington, D.C., which would you choose for your kids?

Oh, and btw, I think a Sarah Palin action figure is just about the scariest thing I have seen in months. h/t Feministing

2.22.2009

Birthdays and Birds


Last night, I went to a grad student b'day party. We played Trivial Pursuit. I haven't played Trivial Pursuit in at least 15 years. I used to enjoy it quite a bit. I figured I was going to be toast since I haven't kept up on things like music and TV and certainly not popular literature. But lo and behold, Bin and I took an early and commanding lead. Apparently, I was paying attention to the news over the years and that helped us quite a bit. In fact, I even think I impressed a few of the grad students who assumed I was old and out-of-touch. Yes, my team spanked those youngsters and a few of them vowed never to play Trivial Pursuit with me again. Hehe.

But the biggest congratulations goes to Bin who knew that there were capers in some sauce that I had never heard of. Of course, I knew the answer to the question about the America's Cup. NO ONE else even knew what the America's Cup was. However, I was disappointed that no one knew who Theodore Geisel was. So this morning, I have decided to describe the birds at my feeder in his honor.

Today I put out suet block
and seeds and fruit and veggies chopped
the birds took notice, oh yes indeed
they noticed all my lucious seed

They chirped and chatted and jumped about
at first I thought the cat was out
But in the cold they spread the word
Along their network just for birds

"Come one! Come all!" They seemed to shout.
"The lady put the birdseed out.
The good kind and some fat cake, too.
If you don't come, and quickly, too
There may not be much left for you!"

Before a finger you could snap
The birds desended flap, flap, flap
Yellow birds, red birds, grey and blue
The greasy, green-black grackles, too.

They flit and flapped and pushed and prodded,
The brimming, bursting feeders spotted.
They ate until their bellies full,
Sagged over their feet. It was cruel.

Their bellies full, their wings at rest,
They must have thought my seeds the best.
Sitting on the clothesline wire
They rested for their beaks were tired.

At last recovered, they flew away.
Oh, they'll be back another day.
As long as I have seed to give.
Lucious, wonderful seed to live.

2.21.2009

Becoming Environmentally Aware

So those of you who know me in my day-to-day life probably know that I have taken on a challenge this semester. I was given a gift by a professor. I was given freedom. I was told when given my teaching assignment to "do whatever you want." And I have.

The class is called Environmental Issues. The one-hour discussion lab used to require the students to purchase a book that had point-counter point essays on pressing and not-so-pressing environmental issues. Many of the essays assumed a higher level of understanding about politics, world issues, and general awareness than many of my students possess at their age. They were expected to read the text and come prepared to debate the issue. I think you can imagine what happened. The class arrived not having read the material. No one was able to make a meaningful point about the material they hadn't read and the lab instructor (me) had to lead them through it. Tiring for me. Dull for them. It wasn't anyone's favorite class.

I am of the firm opinion that the point of science education is to arm students, most of whom are not pursuing science careers, with the tools they need to adequately assess and process science information that they will encounter once they leave school. I decided that over-their-heads environmental debates was not the best way to achieve this. The only way to engage students is to make the subject matter exciting. If I'm not excited about the material, how can I expect them to be? I decided to do something radically different.

OK, in week one, they HAD to do an assignment on how to find scientific sources in the library and using internet resources for a term paper they were going to do. At least they didn't have to show up to that lab prepared.

But since then, I've asked them to inventory every electrical appliance in their homes and to analyze where their energy dollars are going. We used this cool "Kill A Watt" reader I purchased for the class to compare televisions, VCRs, lights, compters, microwaves and so forth. We did the math to demonstrate how much money they could save by switching all their light bulbs from incandescent to compact fluorescents and by switching from washing clothes in hot water to cold water. I defied them to fnd a difference. I made them determine their carbon footprint and to compare their lifestyle (in terms of energy use) to that of someone from a developing country. We talked about human population growth and then I gave them assignment to try to get some grasp of "what is a billion". I gave them assignment to spend a half an hour researching an environmental issue of their choosing (Kyoto Protocal, 2000 watt society, hybrid vs. internal combustion cars, etc.) and to write a page on what they learned and what they thought about it. Wow! Did that assignment work out well. I think they actually enjoyed it. This week, I'm requiring them to keep track of every single item they throw away and to analyze it and think about how they might reduce their waste generation. I'm doing this with them, and I have decided to take this one step further. I'm going to create a blog entry of sorts on an "environmental weekend". I'm going to talk about what I did, what I bought, what I threw away and then I'm going to consider the environmental impact of my actions. I'm going to detail the thought processes I went through in making those decisions. I'm going to share with them things that I could have done differently. Ultimately, I'm going to ask them for ideas on how I might lessen my own environmental impact.

I think this could be interesting. I'll likely share it with you.

I'm pretty psyched about the class. At least I can communicate my excitement about the material to them. Surely, that has to be something.

2.19.2009

Dating After 40: A Handbook for Men

You know I love the field. Sometimes I agree with him, sometimes I don't, but he usually never fails to make me think. On Valentine's Day, he posted Mrs. field's 10 rules of dating. In keeping with my experience of the field, some hit home, some missed the mark, and several just made me chuckle. So in Daktari's world of post-40 dating, I'd like to give the guys some advice. Oh, and this might come in handy for your fellows under 40, too.

Let's just say that I agree with Ms. field on two of her rules and will simply repeat them here verbatim.
1. Do not expect your date to pay a dime on your first five dates. After five, the conventional wisdom is that you will know each other well enough for her to offer to pick up a tip, pay the cab fare, or the cost of two movie tickets. And make sure you know what type of food she likes before you make those reservations. Might not be cool to take her to a sea food restaurant if she is allergic to sea food.

11. On your first date, remember, only a hug goodnight. No more. Brothers, I know it can be hard sometimes, but believe me, if your date went well, there will be lots more to come later. A sister knows the moment she lays eyes on you if she is going to give you some. It might take awhile, or not so long, but if she is going to give you some only you can ruin it for yourself.
On #1. I went on a date last Saturday. He picked me up and informed me he was hungry, why didn't we get a bite. He had no idea what he wanted to eat (strike 1), but he had a taste for pizza. Ok, I'm lactose intolerant and the last thing I want is to be unable to avoid cheese on a date. Can you say "bathroom disaster"? I was in an unfamiliar town and didn't know what they had in the way of restaurants so was unable to offer any meaningful suggestions. I suggested a fish restaurant only to learn that he doesn't eat fish. Not now. Not ever. He's never tried more than 3 kinds of fish in his life but all fish tastes "fishy". Well, d'uh. So we passed a Culver's (which is sort of upscale fast food) and I suggested we go in. And really, despite Ms. field saying no fast food on dates, I was okay with it. So in we go. As a courtesy, I offered to buy lunch. He accepted. In fact, he said, "I guess I can be submissive and let you buy me lunch." Ugh.

Ummmm. Helloooooooooooooo. Who asked who out here? So yeah, I'm sitting through the entire lunch thinking this guy is 1) a cheapskate mo fo, 2) a bucked tooth yokel, and 3) a submissive user. He's sitting through the entire lunch telling me how I spoil him. Trust me, baby. I know how to spoil a man, and lunch at Culver's ain't it. Let's just suffice it to say that Mr. Saturday Night is unlikely to earn that spoiling given his ineptitude at dating.

Ok, I can hear you now. "D. Seriously. If you didn't want to pay for lunch, why did you offer?" Don't look at me that way. You KNOW you have offered to do things that you never expected someone to actually take you up on. But I will give you two good reasons for why I did.

First, when it comes to moving a relationship from that "I have to watch my every move so as not to screw this thing up" phase (or as I like to call it the "I really want to impress this woman so she will lower her standards enough to sleep with me" phase), to the "I can relax and be myself around her" phase (alternatively, the "I can burp, fart, and scratch in front of this chick! How great is that? phase), men are notorious for preternaturally pushing the relationship into the second and seeking to shorten the first. You can't blame a woman for wanting to prolong Phase One before settling into Phase Two for the long-haul. When a woman offers to do something clearly in Phase Two during a time when she should expect to be in Phase One, it's a test fellas. It is the quickest way to get a feel for a man's plan for the future with you. Accept too early and it is clear he doesn't expect to have to spoil you for long. In fact, he's done already. What sort of impression do you think that Mr. Saturday Night made in accepting my offer?

Two. Any man who is willing to let a woman buy the meal before he has sealed the deal is also likely to come to expect things that should only be seen as extreme and generous gifts. I married a man who refused to keep a steady job and expected me to work, support his way of life, and not mention how tired I was of his lazy, ignorant ass. Trust me. I ain't going there again. I'm no man's sugar mama.

Oh, and then there's Three. You asked me on a date, you pay for the date. All of it. In it's entirety. End of discussion. And speaking of preternaturally jumping into Phase Two, Mr. Saturday Night actually talked with pride of his farts.

D-rule #3. Do not speak of your farts. Not in the beginning of the relationship. Not in the middle of the relationship. Not in the end of the relationship. Your farts are your business and the only thing you need to know about farts and your girlfriend/spouse is that if humanly possible, never the two should meet. Oh, a girl can handle the occassion slip up, but if you think that farting and holding her head under the covers is big fun, you should be dropped off on a deserted island and left there. If you think it is simply hilarious to let go of a SBD in the car in the winter and say nothing until the smell has permeated everyone's clothing, at the very least, should earn you a breakup/divorce. And ladies? Given a sympathetic jury pool, this behavior might even get you off for homicide. You know. If you have a working knowledge of the scoring of "fart contests", stop dating now. Don't even consider passing your genes on to another generation. You are an evolutionary dead end.

While I think this should be sufficient knowledge to understand why I will not see Mr. Saturday Night again, let us continue.

D-rule #4. Have a plan. Dates are not times to start driving around and thinking about what you want to do. Mr. Saturday Night pulled up next to a movie marquee and asked if I was interested in any of the movies. I was interested in one, which he had already seen. He was interested in another, but informed me that it would be available for illegal download soon, so he didn't want to pay to see it. Cheapskate mo-fo bucked-tooth yokel. Dayum.

D-rule #5. Do not volunteer information or perform actions that makes you look closed-minded, ridiculously childlike, or unworldly. While pride of your region is one thing, "I'm proud to say, I have never been outside of Missouri" is quite another. Think before you say something like, "I don't eat fish. It tastes fishy." Don't stick out your tongue and make "blech" noises when someone says something you don't like. Don't roll your eyes.

D-rule #5. Manners and courtesy matter. Don't let your date, who just bought you lunch that she shouldn't have paid for get up and refill her soda glass and yours, you cheapskate mo-fo, bucked tooth yokel.

D-rule #6. When the time comes for a little loving, adhere to the Boy Scout mantra. Be prepared. You should a) have condoms, b) be experienced in their use and operation, c) offer to use them without making her ask. No matter how sexy you find it, you should always, always, always roll your own (or more appropriately, unroll your own) the first five or ten times. Nuff said?

D-rule #7. When it comes to sex, realize that the first time isn't going to be great. You are nervous. She is nervous. You just want to get some. She has a world of body-image baggage that she has to unload right in front of you. She is waaaaaaaaaaay too worried about how her ass looks from that angle to worry about what feels good. Listen to me very carefully now felllas. If you are faced with a naked woman for the first time--and you want there to be a second and third time--what you do at this point is critical for the future of the relationship. Tell her she's beautiful. I don't care how hot you are or how steamy it is between you, at that moment, you can earn a lifetime of brownie points just by saying something incredibly nice. Nice is a sincere comment that she can repeat to all her girlfriends on the phone tomorrow. You want to be this guy:

"We took off our clothes and he looked at me so lovingly, then hugged me so tight and said "You are absolutely stunning. I'm the luckiest man alive." Girl, I thought I'd die right there in his arms."

You don't want to be this guy:

"Girl, he slipped my shirt over my head and grabbed both the girls, made a loud honking noise, and said "I hit the jackpot!"

And finally, gentlemen, don't be mad if it doesn't happen for her. We girls are as tired of faking orgasms as you are of learning many months later that we did. Oh, she didn't fake it with YOU. Un huh. You just keep thinking that, cowboy. Sometimes it takes a while to learn a woman's body. If you are in the right zip code, we're likely to give you another chance at hitting the lottery. But the "I'm not going to stop until you are satisfied" may sound charming and courteous in your head, we hear "I'm too big of a man to deal with failure so I'm not going to stop until you either have an orgasm or the ego-stroking apperance of an orgasm." And gentlemen, I can assure you, you are going to get the latter before the former.

D-rule #7. How you end the date is probably the most important part of all. Walk her to the door. At the very least, don't drive off until she's inside. Or in my case, don't drop me off at my car and drive away before I'm inside. Bucked tooth yokel whose mama didn't teach him common decency. In fact, you should offer to start my car and warm it up for me while we chat inside your already warm car. It's 5 minutes and it's an investment that goes a long way.

Sigh.

And the final rule for the night.

D-rule #8. If something goes wrong on your date for your date, don't take two steps back and act like "This ain't my problem, you deal with it." Unless of course, you don't give a flying fig whether you ever speak to this woman again, let alone see her again with the intention of dating. True first date story. A friend of mine got food poisoning on her first date and as they walked home from the restaurant, she began to throw up. The guy held her hair while she vomited in the bushes. They are married now. Sometimes, the date goes horribly, horribly wrong for one or both of you. Credit card is rejected. (Good luck getting a second date with that one, fellas. Might I suggest you always carry cash?) Movie is sold out. (Don't cuss and act like a child who can't get his way when you can't see Batman and have to see Marley and Me.) Myriad things can and will go wrong. Just make sure you handle them well and with regard for your date.

So I gather you got that Mr. Saturday Night is not my dream date. I'm not sure I'm not sure I'm up for teaching a nearly 50-year old man common courtesy and manners. I thought these rules went without saying, but since I had to say them...apparently not.

Hereafter a Name Change

I was bitching about how my name on a grant app is the kiss of death, so Sylvia, the departmental administrator, suggested that I simply change my name.

Compliments of Sylvia, I will henceforth be known as Yellowstone Saunders. Has a sort of Indiana Jones feel to it. And as Liv pointed out, I could abbreviate it Y. Saunders. So I'm also considering changing my middle name to Naught.

Oh, Sylvia also suggested I bleach my hair Billy-Idol blonde. You know, Yellowstone and all.

Heh.

Y. Naught Saunders. I'm kinda digging it.

2.17.2009

When Everything That Can Go Wrong Does

They say that bad news comes in threes. Mine has come in sixes and sevens.
  • Hit a deer. I guess the bright side is that my car is in the shop getting fixed. However, I did have to spend $120 out-of-pocket on a rental car.
  • Grant rejected. I quit counting how many grants I've had rejected after about 8. But suffice it to say that every grant I have submitted on my own behalf has been rejected. Now I'm just bringing everyone else down with me. My name on a grant is the kiss of death.
  • Insulted by faculty. Not one but two. Suffice it to say that I am not looking forward to my committee meeting this year.
  • Large plumbing bill for the city's problem. As if I have money to pay for someone else's issues. And yet, I have.
  • Water pipes frozen. Didn't cost me anything, but a hell of an inconvenience.
  • Oh, let's go back to when this all began. My dog died. Day after Thanksgiving while my sister was here to visit for the first time.
  • I've had a health issue that has plagued me since the first year I moved here.
And I've had one or two personal issues that are, in fact, simply too personal to publish here that have weighed on me for months now. In fact, the past decade hasn't been all that spiffy to me. My ex-husband tried to kill me. Twice. I had to leave my job, my home, my life for my own safety. I started over. I tried to have a good attitude about the whole thing. I created a new dream for my future. I lived with my mother for 2 years while I got a second bachelors. You try doing that when you are 39 years old. I moved here to get my masters...continued for my doctorate. Dog got wicked sick. I still plugged on, trying to maintain a positive attitude despite setback after setback. I had a dream and I thought nothing could keep me from it.

Until today. Today I see that whether or not I finish my doctorate is largely dependent on other people's whims. Oh, not a bunch of other people, just one or two. And right now, I'm not sure what those one or two people think of me. Just when I had it all in the palm of my hand...just when I thought my troubles were over it is possible that it will all be taken away. And I'll be honest. I got caught off guard on this one. This was my last hurrah. I don't really have a plan B. I'm sitting here this evening thinking about what I'm going to do when the student loans come due and I don't have the money. I wonder what they'll take and what they'll let me keep. I wonder where I'll find a job in this economy. I feel like I'm sleepwalking or living someone else's life. I wish this was someone else's life. I'm facing the blue screen of death.

After worrying and struggling and panicking in the night for nearly 4 years, I thought I had finally paid my dues and earned my moment in the sun. And in one day, the clouds returned and have settled in. I think they're here for the long haul. My luck hasn't been so good lately.

2.16.2009

Universal Charger: Brilliant!

Saw this little item tucked away over at Telecom Papers.
The European Commission plans to force mobile phone manufacturers to manufacture one mobile phone charger for all mobile phones, according the European Commissioner for Industry, Gunther Verheugen in an interview with the German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle. Verheugen said that his patience has been tested enough by the mobile phone industry, which was given several chances to develop one charger for all mobile phones, and he does not exclude severe measures to force the manufacturers to come with a solution. The main reason for his demand is trying to decrease the volume of electrical waste within Europe, which is become a major environmental problem. The current situation that requires users to purchase a new mobile charger with each new mobile phone has become unbearable according to Verheugen. In a reaction, the president of the European Information & Communications Technology Industry Association (EICTA), Tony Graziano, told Deutsche Welle that Verheugen's demand is legally and technically impossible to due differences in voltage and battery requirements within the European Union, although he acknowledged the increasing burden of mobile phone chargers on the environment. He also said that the industry is not likely to develop one charger for all brands. Verheugen also said that he rather sees the industry to develop such a charger voluntary, but warns that the EC has the legal and political means to force such development.

Let's hope that the US follows suite. Let's also hope that a universal charger will cross formats and include things like iPods, MP3 players, and other personal electronics.

2.15.2009

Welcome to the Newest Mettlinger



Welcome Baby Abagail. Born 2/15/09. Here's wishing you a lifetime of love, laughter, happiness, and at least one or twelve great dogs.

Congrats to dad, who may or may not be named Alex. Mom, who I'm pretty sure is Sus. Grandma Bonnie. Auntie O and cousin Jack.

2.09.2009

I love breakfast food

I have always loved breakfast food. Always have, always will. So if you can manage it, you might try to finagle an invitation to breakfast. If, of course, the occassion should ever come up.

Here's what you might enjoy.

Coffee.

MmmmMmmm. Coffee smells good in the morning.


French toast.

Is that sizzling in real butter? Why, yes it is. Why do you ask?


Can't forget the syrup and eggs.


Usually ends up like this.


I think it may be time for a nap.

With dreams of this.....


video

Welcome to all my gentle readers

Sorry for the bobble. Hope you'll stick with me at this new address. At present, my blog has restricted readership anyone can read my blog.

D

2.08.2009

Cuz E=mc Hammer


Source: xkcd

Things I Found Today


Butterflies on a log.



Orange stands out in a crowd.




Lichens that attract and hold water.



Cool snaky formations in rock.


Neat new place to hike.


A reasonably acceptable photograph of Jake.



Happy feet.



An animal with racing stripes, but not the fastest ride in town.


A big ol' moon.

An Homage to Jack the Magnificent

How might I describe Jack?


He's bright, but black as night.


Although Liv might think otherwise, he explores alone.




He's a free spirit. He just comes back to keep an eye on us. Humans are so stupid, after all.



He's manly enough to have his picture taken without making a fuss.



He's pretty fond of water, I think.

He also has a super stretchy tongue, but I don't have a picture of that.

2.06.2009

I'm a walking talking miracle from Vietnam


Ok, maybe not Vietnam, but from southern Illinois for sure. So I may have mentioned I hit a deer this week. What I did not mention was that I didn't see it. It was dark. There was a lot of traffic that night. You don't expect to see deer in the road, and I surely didn't. I didn't see it when I hit it. I didn't see it after I hit it. I didn't know what I hit. A driver coming in the opposite direction had on his/her bright lights and I was diverting my eyes to avoid being completely blinded by the lights. Just as I passed the oncoming car, I hit something. I didn't know what.






I stopped, walked around my car, saw the broken headlight with deer hair stuck in it and put two and two together.

This ain't rocket science. Right? Unfortunate, but these things happen. Especially on that road at night. I was okay. My car wasn't badly damaged. Although I did have a completely busted headlight (which was fixed yesterday) and felt badly about the deer, I was feeling pretty lucky about the whole incident. That was, until today.

Today, I went and got a car wash. You know, coin operated, high pressure wand and foaming brush kind. While I was washing the car, I noticed something I had missed before. Here's the car where the damage occurred. (Light now fixed.)

No, there was still only minor damage to the body of the car as you can see. When looking at this damage, I figured I had bumped the deer....ok, you don't actually bump a deer at 55 miles per hour, but I didn't think I hit the deer head-on or anything. I thought I hit the deer and it veered off to my right. I was sure this was right, otherwise I'd have seen the deer. Right?

The night of the accident, Paul pointed out some blood splatters on the car hood. I thought nothing of it. I figured the blood had just splattered up onto the hood. It still did not alter the scenario I had devised to explain the evidence. That was, until today when I saw this.

This is the driver's side windshield wiper. In case you don't see it, let's look closer.


This, my friends, is as they say, an entirely different ball of wax. This is evidence that in fact, blows my theory of what happened all to hell. This means, for those keeping score at home, that the deer in question did not bounce off to my right, but rather went over the hood of the car. This revelation was further supported by the evidence, now washed off, that there was blood splatters on the driver's side door. Honestly, I cannot for the life of me, explain that last bit.

As I figure it now, this must have been the trajectory of the deer across my car that night.


Perhaps this isn't freaking you out, but it is certainly freaking me out. Because, let's review the facts as I have explained them earlier. I NEVER SAW THE FREAKING DEER BEFORE I HIT IT, WHEN I HIT IT, OR AFTER I HIT IT. I got out of my car, looked back at the road and saw....nothing. The only reason I knew I hit a deer was because I saw the deer hair stuck in the broken headlamp.

How do you hit something, have it careen across the hood of your car, most certainly crossing your field of vision (even if only peripheral field of vision), come THIS CLOSE to getting killed, and NEVER SEE IT? I was not drinking, tired, or distracted. I had only looked down toward my instrument panel for seconds. How is this possible?

Curiously, we were talking today about the unreliability of eyewitness testimony. After this episode, I may never trust what I see (or don't see) again. The only explanation I have for what happened are speculative hypotheses, prioritized by subjective probability:

1. I looked down longer than I thought--for more than just a few seconds--and I had hit the deer and missed all of it.
2. It happened so fast that my brain never registered the action.
3. It was too dark to see the deer?

I was freaked out before all this about not seeing the deer. But now to have proof that the deer passed directly in front of my eyes and I never saw it? I may never drive at night again. Ok, except for tonight, but that's only because we're going to see Clint Eastwood and nothing bad can happen when you are going to see Clint Eastwood. Right?

Right?

2.04.2009

Things Change

So I saw one of those "When I was a kid" laments on Facebook today and I began to really think about how life has changed since I was a kid, for better or worse.

When I was a kid, we were a family of 6 and had one car. Dad took it to work. If you wanted to go somewhere, you had to wait until Dad got home. Usually you never asked to go anywhere. You didnt' need to go anywhere. You were a kid. Maybe you went to the grocery on Saturday. We all went to church on Sunday. As a family. All six of us.

Cars. My god how cars have changed. There were no car seats, no seat belts, and no padded dashboards. Dashboards were made of metal. When seat belts became popular, there were only lap belts and they had clunky metal connectors. The only thing remotely similar are the belts on airplanes. There were wing windows that you could open with a lever lock and push open. I miss those still. The bright lights button was on the floor and you engaged it with your left foot. I still think putting that on the column was a mistake. Oh, and you shifted gears on the column, not using a "stick shift" in the middle. Cars were only three speed. Door handles, inside and out, were made of metal. Outside, they were a push button and quite difficult to open. Inside was a chrome lever that had to be pulled up or out. Nothing was "electric". You had to roll down the windows using a handle, push down the door locks. There was no way to pop the trunk from the interior. You had to get out of the car and use a key to unlock it. We had a station wagon and you had to get out of the car and go to the back and use a metal handle to roll down the back window. There were no delay wipers. Wipers had two speeds: regular and wicked fast. Wipers were also chrome and single blade. You changed the blade, not the whole assembly. You didn't have electric or heated side-view mirrors. You had to roll down the window and adjust the mirror. The electric clocks never worked. There was no digital readout on the dash. There was only AM radio. No tape decks, no CD players, no MP3 players. Air conditioning was rare. You didn't have auto-dimming rear view mirrors. I don't think there was such a thing as rear window defoggers. Bumpers did not retract. You hit something with your bumper, you either broke it or broke your car. The bumpers were chrome and they rusted from the inside. There was no such thing as all wheel drive. You had to get out of the car and engage lock the hubs to get into 4-wheel drive. Your car weighed a ton because there was no plastic. The trunk was HUGE. And kids could sleep on the back deck. Man, cars have changed.

Speaking of cars, my Dad was big on going for "a drive", wherein we would all pile in the car and drive around with no particular destination in mind. Ahh, the days of cheap gas. I distinctly remember gas costing $0.26/gal. And gas stations used to give away free crap to get you to buy from their station. Like S&H Green stamps, or glassware. I went to a recycling joint in Chicago and saw shelf after shelf of what I called "green, bumpy, gas-station glassware". It was such a blast from the past.

There was no such thing as self-service gas stations. You pulled up to the pump, ran over a sensor that range a bell so the attendant knew you were there. He jogged out, usually dressed in a uniform of a crisp white shirt, sometimes he wore a bow tie, and blue or grey pants, washed your windshield, checked your oil and water and other fluids, filled your tank with gas, put air in your tires, took your money and made change. You never stepped foot out of your car. He also sold cigarettes. And you paid by cash or check or you put it on your tab. No one used credit cards. Mechanics were different than attendants and they wore blue pants and blue shirts with their names embroidered on the pocket.

Lots of places kept "tabs". The grocery store. Sometimes a family-owned clothing store. The feed store. The hardware store. Credit was extended and it was free.

All the appliances in our new house were avocado green. The green refrigerator replaced the white Frigidaire, which had a lever handle. You had to push against the door to close it. It didn't swing closed by itself. It also was impossible to open with one hand. This is why they used to take the doors off abandoned refrigerators. If you got inside one, you'd never get out by yourself. Even Houdini couldn't get out by himself.

I remember making hot dogs by actually boiling them in water and steaming the buns in a colander on top. I don't think I have boiled hot dogs since 1978 when we got a very large, Amana microwave oven. Up until that time, you had to plan dinner. Defrosting meat took hours and sometimes days and usually involved a lot of hot water.

We recycled things because we were poor, not because we were concerned about the environment. Jelly jars came with cartoon characters printed on them so they could be reused as juice glasses for kids. In fact, lots and lots of stuff came in glass jars with metal lids. And we reused them for food storage. Peanut butter for one.

Foods and medicines did not come with safety lids. Aspirin bottles were glass and had a screw-on tin lid. Cans were metal, not alumnium. Soda pop cans had a sharp pull tab that covered the ground around soda machines. In summer, there was a real danger of cutting your feet on them at the beach. There was no interior product liners. A friend of mine used to go into grocery stores and use his finger to draw smiley faces in the peanut butter, put the lid back on and return it to the shelf. Virtually all of the safety packaging you see today was a result of the Tylenol cyanide poisoning scare of 1982.

Plastic was rare. Things came in glass or cardboard. Milk came in two waxed paper cartons connected by a cardboard finger carrier. There were no plastic butter tubs, plastic grocery bags, or molded plastic packaging. Burgers came in either paper wrappers or styrofoam packaging. We did have plastic wrap and plastic baggies. The bags didn't have zip locks, they had a flap at the top that had to be tucked in. It actually worked fairly well.

We liked "space" stuff. There were Space Food Sticks, and Tang, and Carnation Instant Breakfast, and even Quisp cereal that had a space man on the box. We had dishes with nuclear symbols in them. We wanted to grow up to be astronauts. If it was about space, it was cool.

When I was a little, little kid, I went to a birthday party and we all wore party hats. The girls wore "teacher" and "nurse" hats and the boys wore "fireman" and "policeman" hats. No one (except me) seemed to think this was sexist. That said, I loved my family, because when I told them I wanted to be a veterinarian or a truck driver, no one said I couldn't do that because I was a girl.

Girls didn't play organized sports. We didn't play Little League baseball, Pee Wee football or anything else. We were expected to play with dolls and that was that. There weren't even softball leagues back then. The only sport I could get involved with was swimming and I signed up as soon as I heard about it. I was in the fourth grade.

You didn't own books. You borrowed them from the library. You received the paper on your doorstep every evening. There was home delivery of milk by a milkman, who left it in a metal cooler you kept on your front porch. The boxes always carried the name of the dairy.

Moms didn't work. No one went to day care. When you got in a fight with a friend, you had to work it out yourself. If you went home crying to mom, you lost street cred. If you did something wrong, your parents marched you down the street so you could apologize to the party you offended. Parents did not defend your bad behavior. I got my ass whipped. I got grounded. "Wait til your father gets home" was a threat we took very seriously.

We didn't have a lot of toys. We had green army men and sometimes those wind up cheap wood and rubber band airplanes, and occassionally a paddle board with an elastic string and rubber ball on it to play with. Otherwise, we had the best toy imaginable. We had an imagination.

We had bikes. If they had kick stands we didn't know it or just chose not to use them. You hopped off the bike and let it go. Sometimes, it would travel a while before it fell over in the grass.

What I remember most about my childhood was the tremendous freedom I had. I had no agenda on most summer days. I got up and did just about whatever I wanted from daylight to dusk. No one directed my days or filled them up with dance lessons or music lessons or sports activities. We ran. We climbed. We built forts. We rode bikes. And we didn't have to worry about pedophiles or kidnappings or cranky neighbors. I would hate to be a kid today.