What's on my mind.

28 January 2009

Six Isn't Bad.

Silver Fox tagged me so here it is: The 25 most visited places in the US. (I've been to the bolded ones).

1. Times Square, New York City, NY - 35 million

2. The Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas, NV - 31 million

3. National Mall and Memorial Parks, Washington DC - 24 million

4. Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, MA

5. Disney World's Magic Kingdom, Lake Buena Vista, FL - 17.1 million

6. Disneyland Park, Anaheim, CA - 14.9 million

7. Fisherman's Wharf/Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco, CA - 14 million

8. Niagara Falls, NY - 12 million

9. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN/NC - 9.4 million

10 Navy Pier, Chicago, IL - 8.6 million

11. Lake Mead National Recreation Area, AZ/NV - 7.6 million

12. Universal Studios/ Islands of Adventure, Orlando, FL - 6.2 million

13. SeaWorld Florida, Orlando, FL - 6 million

14. San Antonio River Walk, TX - 5.1 million

15. Temple Square, Salt Lake City, UT - 5 million

16. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, PA/NJ - 4.8 million

17. Universal Studios Hollywood, CA - 4.7 million

18. Metropolitan Museum, New York City, NY - 4.5 million

18. Waikiki Beach, Oahu, HI - 4.5 million

20. Grand Canyon, AZ - 4.41 million

21. Busch Gardens Africa, Tampa Bay, FL - 4.4 million

22. Cape Cod National Seashore, MA - 4.35 million

23. Sea World San Diego, CA - 4.26 million

24. American Museum of Natural History, New York City, NY - 4 million

25. Atlantic City Boardwalk, NJ - 4 million

Six out of 25 for sure. I've been to the DC a LOT, the Smokies several times (including a very rainy camping trip), went to Cape Cod NS last summer and the Grand Canyon when I was 6, Disney World (3 times!); Universal Studios was part of a band/orchestra trip to Orlando. The two New York museums, I'm not sure of. Is the Met the spiral? If so we walked in, saw how expensive it was and left. I just can't remember if we went to AMNH on that trip or not. I'm fairly sure didn't go to Time Square. I think I went to Sea World when my family went to Disney World but I'm not sure, it was 2/3 of a life ago. I was outside Temple Square once, but it was Sunday and church was letting out; I thought it might be rude to go be a tourist right then. I didn't get another chance to wander in SLC that week.

I've been to Las Vegas, NM (cute little town, btw) but not THE Las Vegas. Haven't been to Lake Mead, but we did Lake Powell on the Great West Trip. I'm not sure I've ever set foot in Delaware and the only parts of New Jersey I've been in were stops on the turnpike and Weehawken (where we stayed on our NYC trip). I've been to Chicago several times but no Navy Pier. I've never seen the Pacific, something I hope to rectify one day.

I could go on and on about which of these I want to visit and which I couldn't care less about but I should do some work before lunch.;)

27 January 2009

A map of my childhood

With long winded explanation.

Chad has a post asking about how far we were allowed to roam as kids. HP (comment #40) suggested you look up your old neighborhood, because he over estimated how far he actually went from home. I over estimated how far away the library was by a little bit - Google says it's 1.7 miles driven miles. The house I grew up in is the blue thumb-tack.

View Larger Map

The library was the farthest place I routinely went without my folks but my brother, some friends, and I would sometimes ride the bike trail a couple of miles out just for the heck of it. One time we rode out to the West Falls Church Metro Station*.

We lived on the corner, while the street we faced (Polly ST) was quiet, Wolftrap RD was a little busy. When I was little (pre-k) Mom would walk me to Christie's house (other side of Wolftrap). Later she'd walk me to across from her road and Mrs. Patrick and Christie would walk to the other side to "meet" us. Sometime around kindergarten or 1st grade Mom started letting me go on my own. Our school bus stop moved over the years but in Kindergarten it was at the end of Christie's street; after the first day, Pat (then a 4th grader) walked me.

As far as playing went, we would usually play in any of several yards (usually back yards). There weren't that many kids on our block so there were only so many places I could have been. I guess Mom knew which house we were at most of the time. Mike's mom would sometimes call our house and tell Mom if she saw him to tell him to put on his shoes. So maybe our mother's didn't always know.

I'm not sure when I started riding my bike places. Certainly by 10, I was riding to the library, 7-11, and drug store. I can remember being sent to People's Drug to tell Pat it was time to come home on a Saturday or in the summer. People's had several video games and he'd spend all afternoon there. I'd also go to the stationery store in the shopping center across the street from there, or the fabric store (more rarely). But, oh, the library - being able to ride their myself = many many happy hours.

In the summer, I'd ride my walk bike to the pool and meet Caroline or go with Pat. Once I joined the swim team, Dad would drive me to practice (@ 7:30am) and then I'd walk home. The summer between 6th and 7th grades, after practice I'd either read or go to the library for most of the day. One summer I babysat a girl (6ish) from around the corner in the mornings. The younger kids practiced at 8:30, so I'd shower and dress at the pool then Lizzie and I would walk to my house.

I used to spend lots of time at the little park on the other side of OLGC (named "Town Park" on Google). In elementary school I organized my friends once to map the stream that ran through it. I sucked at naming things even then. The best name (and only one I can remember now) we came up with was "BR tree". It was pretty big around, easy to hide behind, even if not standing up. Our Irish Setter got a lot of nice long walks in the woods all summer long. I'd walk in the stream sometimes (man the stone bruises I used get!) other times we'd stay on the path then follow the stream up to Echols St and walk home that way. I was always careful to walk really close to the stream so no one would be upset I was in their yard.

Another place we would sometimes wander around were the undeveloped lots at the industrial park. (Mom almost certainly didn't know about that.) A few times in the summer Pat and I went to the playground at Vienna Elementary (near the community center and library) and played tag or had water gun fights on the "play structure". In tag if you touched the gravel you automatically became it; the water gun fights would have to have ceasefires so we could go across the street to Town Hall and refill from the water fountain. There were never as many parents at the park as there were kids. In 8th and 9th grade I sometimes ride up to visit my 6th grade teacher, Rick Wormeli after school.

I marked the pond at the country club because we skated there a few times one winter. Until a guy came by and told us the pond had been deepened the last summer from 4 feet to 10 feet. Suddenly we could all her our mothers calling. The idea of falling into 4 feet of water didn't seem nearly as scary as falling through into 10 feet of ice cold water. Who knows if it was true but it got gone.

I often wish Nettie didn't live some far out and on a busy-ish road. Our road is too narrow, windy, and crazy drive filled for her to even ride her bike on it and there's only one kid her age in walking distance (directly across the street, actually). Another of her friends may move out our way, her family's looked at a couple of houses with in a mile of M&D's. Maybe Nettie will become a little more brave about walking along the road if she has somewhere to go.

*By the time we got back to where we got on the roads (about a mile from home) I didn't think I'd make it but Pat pointed out that I kind of had to. When we got home I was hot, thirsty, and exhausted. I poured a glass of kool-aid, sat down, drank it down, and promptly vomited it back up on the family room rug. The first and last time I made that mistake!

23 January 2009

Other less depressing news

Knitting practice and a project:
Stripes and Intarsia:

Circular practice:

More circular practice that started with I-cord practice on a short scrap piece of yarn:

I decided I HAD to learn circular knitting right NOW because of a project I saw in this book. Felted bowls! I think part of the reason I like it is the example picture is of one in this awesome fuchsia and it's something you can give people without them saying 'oh, a(nother) scarf'. Because how many scarves and sweaters can a person give their loved ones, anyway? Speaking of which:

Not perfect but I wore it this week. It's a smallish, kind of, worsted weight yarn (acrylic) on size 15 needles. The same needles I was working the intarsia on. I wanted it to be a really airy looking knit. I didn't worry about the curling, obviously, otherwise I would have done some kind of border. The size 15 needles didn't look quite as much like vampire stakes as the needles I remember Anna using to make Kate's scarf (besides both sets were aluminum).

I got the interchangeable circular needles (I can't remember the brand), since I'm doing well with the aluminum needles I think I'll like that system. You can put any size points on cords of three different lengths. (I, of course, got a set of double pointed needles in the same size as the points I got.) One question (because I've been too lazy to look it up in my how-to book) - when knitting with DPNs, do the three (or more) hold the stitches (like the left needle) and you use the fourth to knit the new ones (as the right needle)? I started out having to use all fourhold stitches, so it was a moot question, but when I dropped to three I tried to just use those three but it was hard/awkward. So was the 4th needle suppose to go in the basket or was I suppose to cycle the needles through, which is what I did after a row or so.

Completely unrelated to knitting:
This bird has got to find another spot to sleep, or not arrive until much later at night. He's perched by my backdoor.

*I loved the way this turned out it looks like a bit like the feather dusters/maids in Beauty and the Beast, except orange. I remembered that I had some really cheap yarn for plastic canvas needlepoint (and the full skeins are not colors I would use for real projects), so why not use that for practice?

My Week

Tuesday: Mom had an appointment with her surgeon in B'ham so I picked Nettie up from school, brought her back to my office, then took her home and fed her.

Wednesday: Dad calls me at about 4:30 and says Mom's blood O2 sat is low and he's taking her to the ED, can I pick Nettie up after work? I pick her up, take her home (mine), feed her, and make her do her homework. Then I take her home (M&D&hers) so she can go to bed. Dad calls about the time she starts to almost settle in and asks if I can take Nettie to school in the morning because they are admitting Mom overnight for observation. Nettie and I return to my house and go to bed.

Thursday: I get Nettie up to shower; I shower; We both dress; I hurry her breakfest; get gas; drop Nettie at school; drive to work; and am only slightly later than what's been usual lately.

Dad calls mid-morning to say that Mom's had a small heart attack but is now doing fine. She'll go to the cath lab at 5. Can I take TR to her 1 o'clock appointment and then pick up Nettie? "Sure, I guess I'll just leave work at noon." Later he calls to say they decided to go ahead with the catherterization, he'll call when she gets out.

Around noon I leave work. I pick up some lunch, drive to Moundville to get TR, drive to town to drop her at Maude Whatley clinic, wait an hour, drive to Englewood to get Nettie, drive back to MWC, wait half an hour, drive TR to Moundville to her pharmacy, wait 40 minutes, drive her home, drive to the hospital with a breif stop to get food, finally get to see Mom. While driving to MWC the first time Dad calls and says Mom had 3 small blockages in the front of her heart all stinted now, she looked good heading to her room. About 5:15 Nettie and I get to the hospital.

My two older (half) brothers are there and a SIL. Bro1 and SIL leave (only suppose to be 2 visitors in the room), Bro1 might come back later. We sit with Mom, talk a little, I eat my Zalad. Bro2 decides later he's going to head home. He might make it back this weekend - being an accoutant (in B'ham) this is iffy in tax season, but he'll try (and his wife). Bro3, who is extranged from the 'rents, was called but didn't show. Nettie and I leave about 7. I drive her to her house she packs for two nights and days (she's spending the night at a freinds tonight) and we go to my house to sleep. I was exhausted. (If you've been keeping score that's 4 round trips to town for a total of around 100 miles.)

Friday: Woke Nettie up; woke myself up; both showered and dressed; hurried her breakfest; dropped her at school; almost forgot to write note saying she could go home with her friend; drove to work and was only normally (of late) late. I'm now at my desk trying to look like I'm doing work and hoping the day will just hurry up and end, because all I really want to do is go home, watch TV (not even read, really) and eat fattening comfort food.

Oh, and Mom's surgery scheduled for Monday may or may not be post-poned. The docs were going to decide that today.


Upate: Mom's spending another night.

21 January 2009

Random bits

1. Why can I change my password but not get sent my login name, DishNetwork??? (Which is apparently 1 letter short of the one I usually use)

2. Irish was all like "Mom, what are you doing? I don't want to be way up - oh, food.":)

3. Wow, does Ed's car look bad. And weird since it's been a while since I was somewhere with salted roads, or even close enough to such a place that I saw cars covered in road salt occasionally.

4. "Don't eat pork, don't eat bats, don't eat beetles, bugs, or gnats...Put four tassels on your cloak...A message from the Lord."

5. I can be a little anal about maps, precision, and accuracy; this can sometimes make my job unnecessarily difficult. But not as anal as the Kentucky Survey they report well locations as DD.xxxxxxxxxx0! (That's to less than a millimeter.)

6. My parent's are OLD.

7. (related to 6) Mom's surgery is Monday. They'll be doing it vaginally so at least the recovery shouldn't be too bad or long. Except for the anesthesia which will take about 6 months to completely clear her system if past experiences are repeated. Nettie gets to spend Sunday night with me.

8. At this rate I'll be back at Circuit City hoping they have an even better deal on Season 5 of Buffy. (Season 4 started $5 less than at B&N plus 10% off. The cashier had to enter the discounted prices manually!)

9. I should really get back to work.

10. If I start digging here I end up in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Danke, Maple Leaf.

15 January 2009

Wha? 2.0

We're having a retirement luncheon this afternoon for a couple who retired the end of the year (she worked for GSA, he for OGB). The luncheon is at the Methodist student center. We just got an email reminding us that parking is limited and we "may want to comsider carpooling". (We might also find parking at the hotel next door.) Or we might just consider WALKING.

View Larger Map

People it's 0.2 miles and above freezing. There is no reason to drive there! What has this world come to?!?! (I'm willing to make exceptions for any infirm members staff, like Rashmi with broncitis or Scott & David with their walking difficulties.)

P.S. I'm so shocked by this that I had to post it in English and German.

13 January 2009

Great Flood of Jan. 2009

I didn' t have my camera with me last week but apparently my brother did:

(pictures by Patrick)

These were taken at River Road Park (east end, at "new" Hackberry RD and Jack Warner PKWY (aka River RD). It's a lovely sunset - I really like the lampposts in the middle of the river. I'm afraid the view of across the river isn't great but those houses are usually ~10 feet above river level.

When my boss and his wife were house hunting their realtor tried to convince them that that neighborhood was above the 100-yr flood plain. It may be, on the flood maps, but River RD has been underwater in the not too distant past and those houses are lower than the road. Never mind that they are CLEARLY on the flood plain - there is no natural levee there. Luckily for the home owners, the Black Warrior River has swampy banks that can be flooded down stream.

This is the best picture I have right this second of what that usually looks like.

I'll try and take some pictures this week of the flood photos to show the difference.

Warm spot

Last night it was kind of chilly here in west central Alabama. The dog went out about 11:30 and I woke up at 2:30 (or 3:30?) with her asking to come in. So, being a nice doggy mommy, I went down and let her in. She bolts (as usual) up the stairs and hops up in MY warm spot. Obviously thinking to herself "Oooo, warm spot!" She politely hopped over to the middle of the bed when I got there. (This is not what she does at bed time when she takes her half out of the middle, or even on my side of the middle, of the bed and will not move. Under her own power anyway.) I get back in bed and discover that her feet weren't clean. Yay. (This isn't as bad a a week or so ago when her paws were wet when she hopped up into my warm spot.) Then she snuggles up against me and buries her nose in the pillows. It was cute, if I ignore the grit under my shoulders. She moved a little bit this morning - when I got out of the shower she was curled up facing the other direction. She'd apparently decided that it was too cold to go out for a morning pee.

Lesson learned: don't leave the covers thrown back when letting the dog in.

09 January 2009

Where I've been

These are all the states I've visited.

visited 27 states (54%)

These are all the states I've been in (as best I can tell):

visited 33 states (66%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or try another Douwe Osinga project

Apparently I've been avoiding Kentuck. I may get to add Oregon this year, if I can come up with a paper/poster. I'm not going to do a countries I've visited map because it would be embarrassing (US, Canada, England (ok, Heathrow Airport), and Scotland).

08 January 2009


Random religious/theological rambling brought on by a documentary I watched (most of) last week and Travel with Rick Steves, a flash on a scene from Godspell (specifically my high school's production) and talking to myself while driving to work:

How do evangelical Christians* reconcile their often very public professions of faith with Jesus' preaching against this(Luke 18:9-14)? I suppose Jesus wasn't preaching against honest public faith/religiousness only false shows and following the letter of the law, not the spirit of it. It still seems, to me, that randomly (to everyone else) walking up to someone and handing them a tract isn't what He calls us to do.

*Not all, everyone is different, YMMV, exceptions to prove the rule, simplification/generalization...

07 January 2009

Buffyverse - friend or foe?

A month or two ago Honu-Girl suggested I try watching/listening to Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Hulu, as it was fluffy enough to make it a good distraction while doing boring work. (I was more productive while watching than not, until the IT guy caught me chewing up huge amounts of bandwidth.) I'd watched the first two seasons at work and then Honu-Girl got me the 3rd season for Christmas (delivered in a very pretty box she got from Sarah, so it was like a present from Sarah, too!), so I'm up to episode 8 or 9 now ("Helpless"). I have a question for Buffy fans: What's up with Synder?

He shows up as a principal with a grudge against Buffy. At first he just seems to be a hard ass. Then we learn that he knows about the vampires, etc. in Sunnydale* and I started to wonder which side he's on - does he think Buffy's on the vamp side or does he suspect she's the Slayer (or at least on the human's side) and why doesn't he like her/what does his dislike potentially say about where he stands. He clearly has connections in local politics and the police chief and the mayor are in on the Home of the Hellmouth bit. The mayor clearly has no particular problem with the local demon population (as long as he keeps his job - "Band Candy") but we don't know about the police chief (very minor character, "School Hard" I think). Now, after "Band Candy"**, he knows for sure she's the Slayer but I hadn't seen him since.

So, is he pro- or anti- demon? Is he pro- or anti-Slayer?
(I'm ok with minor spoilers)

* Was the name a ploy by the founders to hide the demonic presence?
**Seeing your Mom and Watcher make out - ewww, as bad as realizing your parents have sex.


I did a whole 25 minutes of light to moderate stretching last night! (i.e. yoga, not nearly as intense as the classes I've taken) Maybe next week I'll add in light weight training. (I only have 8lb weights and my own body weight.)

But, hey, it's more than I've been doing.

02 January 2009

Curse the Darkness

Some thing I saw of TV the other night got me thinking about “curse” words. I understand the religious prohibition on blasphemy. Not necessarily the specifics – was stoning really necessary for speaking the secret name of God? – but the general rule I can deal with and vaguely understand. I can understand not using ‘damn’ as a general swear word unless you really mean you think that thing/person/rule/whatever should be sent to hell. I have even, unsuccessfully, toyed with not damning things lightly. What I don’t get is why other ‘four-letter words’ that have no religious connotations are also usually considered wrong to use by the religious and culturally are less polite than the religious ones (in the US at least). Now ‘fuck’, ‘shit’, and ‘ass’ are generally considered impolite ways to refer to sexual intercourse, feces, and one’s backside* and their derivatives, which may or may not have anything to do with the original meaning, are equally vulgar. One should certainly be mindful of one’s company when using these words. But, why do the religious care about them? They aren’t blasphemy – no taking of God’s name in vain, no casual damning of innocent inanimate objects.

The seven words you can’t say on TV are becoming more and more socially acceptable. One day you may even be able to say them on mainstream TV, at least in fleeting usages or, of course, in culturally appropriate situations^.As the “younger” generations work their way up into positions of power in the FCC things will change, slowly, if we can ever get the religious fanatics to shut up long enough to understand the difference between blasphemy and vulgarity.

This leads me to a tangent**: You may recall the wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl half-time a few years ago. Shortly after this, and the resulting kerfuffle, I heard a father commenting (a letter to Morning Edition perhaps?) that the SB is family entertainment and he didn’t appreciate his young sons being exposed to a nipple. I’d been watching that half-time show. Personally, if I were going to be offended by a brief flash of female bits I would have been doubly offended by the half-time show. Based on the comment of that father, dry-humping one another while wearing little more than a bikini is OK but the human body is bad. (I may be mixing my half-times up. The scantily clad, practically stripping dancers may have been another year.) Consistency anyone?

*Ass is perfectly acceptable if referring to a donkey, even in church.
^ This is why it’s OK that ‘fuck’ appears in every other sentence in Saving Private Ryan but it has to be beeped out of an Emmy acceptance speech.
**This is not particularly timely, I know.But we will be subjected to dubious singing and dancing during the Super Bowl half-time again soon.