What i’m thankful for…

Mostly?  i’m thankful that i live an hour away from the Trailer Park.

i’m thankful that they think driving an hour is a hassle, and rarely visit me.

Having adult children provides absolution from many family events (ie: “Well, not sure what i’m doing for Christmas this year – it depends on what’s up with the kids”).  Not at the top of the list, but another reason i’m thankful for my children.

(sigh)

The saddest part?  i was genuinely looking forward to seeing them.  Hoping it would be a chance to play, relax, talk, listen to tunes and visit.  With no drama.  My brain is still scrambled, and i’m not having much luck sorting out what it was that really tripped my “Pissed Off” circuit breaker.  Some highlights… Continue reading

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Cold turkey

Filed again under “what the fuck was i thinking?”…

For the past 30 years a local village has a Thanksgiving Day “Turkey Trot”.  Five miles.  Not five “K”, but five “miles”.  Advertised as a “flat, fast course”, typically 6,000 people show up to run, walk, push strollers and drink coffee at 8:00 Thanksgiving morning.  Costume contest to get things rolling, and the mayor himself sings the national anthem… Folksy enough to make me want to wear plaid and buy firearms.

Last year i did it, without much pain and suffering.  i’d completed my first half-marathon just a month before, and with the best of intentions of continuing my training through the winter, i signed up for the five miler.  Right.  Other than a few training runs over the winter, and a clydesdale-esque performance at a Colon Run in March, i haven’t done much with it.  My ass turned to lead*.

Managed to maintain a reasonable degree of fitness over the summer with a regular biking program, but once again i’ve “lumped up” like so much leftover gravy.  Re-committing to a gentle training program a few weeks back, i decided to hit the Turkey Trot. 

At least it wasn’t raining.  But it was 24 F at 7:30 yesterday morning. Did i mention that this is filed under “what the fuck was i thinking?” 

These events drive home the painful point: some of us are truly built for comfort, rather than speed.  The “elite” runners (who start the race from the “Elite Runner Corral”) finished in about 30 minutes.  Yes.  That’s 5 minute miles.  Bastards.  We hate them.  Last year?  i used the “run/walk” technique – ran 4 minutes, walked 1 minute.  This year?  Swap that… and add 16 minutes to my overall time.  Ye-owch**. 

Following a 3 hour recovery nap, it was off to dinner with friends***.  i ate.  a lot.  Fortunately my dessert was a massive failure, or i’d have eaten more.  Dragged myself to the car like an engorged tick, came home and passed out… Leaving a slug-trail of gravy from the door all the way to my bed. 

So i try again.  Another re-commit.  Will attempt to stay with it… This time have adopted a couple of training buddies to help prod, poke and push me out from under the covers.  i’ll grow to hate them, no doubt.

Eat me

Eat me

sourced from www.worth1000.com

* “Ass to lead”?  Hmmm… if i could find an alchemist to convert the lead to gold i’d be set…

** There’s one less darvocet in the “emergency fund” arsenal…

*** Funny how a holiday spent with friends is SO MUCH LESS STRESSFUL than the ones i spend with extended family.  The Trailer Park arrives here on Saturday for a holiday gathering.  i am honestly looking forward to it, though.  But will likely need emergency therapy immediately after the event…

Buzz off…

The Girl is still in Beirut, doing well with her classes and enjoying intensive Arabic language study.  And the Beirut nightlife.  Hard to believe she’s been gone for two and a half months, and will back in just another month…

She calls every few weeks, and we exchange the occasional e-mail (and she reads the blog), so we’re staying connected.  i was a bit amused by this bit from her most recent e-mail update, about an “all night clubbing” event with friends – including a group of young European men also studying in the Middle East.

One of the guys who went out with us last night kept M and I entertained with a very.. um.. unique dance move.  He would put out his arms to either side in beat with the music, swoop behind one of us, and utter “bzzzzzzzzz” in our ears. The “bzzzz”ing was generally followed by an unwelcome grinding against the target. Wanted to smack the bastard like I would squish a fucking mosquito. And poor M. She was the target of most of the “bzzzzzz”ings. The deluded guy thought he had a chance. In your years of experience, have you come into contact with such a mosquito on the dance floor? Has this at any time been a “thing”? It got tiring after a little while, so we came up with an excuse to leave a bit early, ruining an otherwise decent time.

i’ve been on dance floors all over the world.  Danced with men of many nationalities, young and old.  i can honestly say, i’ve never been buzzed… Good thing.  There would have been bloodshed.  And not mine…

Keep your stinger in your pants, buddy!

Keep your stinger in your pants, buddy!

Rapture* Lite?

Saturday morning**, after a late Friday night… putzing around the Barbie Dream Condo.  Scratching my bits, straightening things up a bit from the night before***.  Finally getting around to the shower…

As i started the steaming water, the doorbell rang.  i grumpily grabbed a towel and shut off the water.  Figured it was one of The Boy’s friends returning for a leftover half can of warm, flat beer lost item… Since these guys are used to me knocking around in my boxers and bra, i decided it was no big deal to let him in while wearing a towel****.

The Mr. Pickles Rov-Alarm was going off full blast, as i stood behind the front door and cracked it open a few inches.  Ummm…. Nope.  Didn’t recognize the well-dressed young man on my front porch. 

daisyfae:  Hi!  Sorry – Ummm… i’m not dressed.  i was expecting someone else.  Can i help you?

disembodied voice of second young man not visible through cracked door:  We’re from…. from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church… just up the road… Uh… would you like a brochure?

daisyfae:  i’d love one!  Thanks, guys!  Have a great day!

The young man i could see was almost knocked over by the nearly airborne body of the other young man, traveling at warp-speed to get off my front porch as quickly as humanly possible.  He was a complete blur… Essentially vaporized before my eyes, after sliding a tri-fold brochure through the crack in the storm door.

Jeebus McGee… What’s the big deal?  i was wearing a towel, for fucksake!  Didn’t really get a good look at either of them – and probably wouldn’t recognize either of them if i passed them on the street.  But that look of terror on that well-scrubbed cherubic face?  Priceless.  It definitely rang a bell…. 

i’ve now got a great technique to get the God Squad off my front porch.  Certainly less messy than a flame thrower…

Saving your sorry heathen ass from hellfire and damnation!

Saving your sorry heathen ass from hellfire, damnation, and a hot shower on a Saturday morning!

* For the non-born again, The Rapture is a BIG DEAL to fundamentalist folk… when Jesus comes back, all of the “saved people” will be instantly vaporized, whisked miraculously to the Glory of Heaven.  The rest of us shall suffer seven years of tribulations… Favorite “rapture” nugget?  Occasionally, i’ll see a car with the bumper sticker – “Warning: Come The Rapture, this car will be driverless”.  Favorite bumper sticker rebuttal? “Come The Rapture: Can i have your car?”

** Technically, it was still morning.  11:00 am is morning…

*** How the fuck did my bra get up there?  Why is there a beer bottle in my shower?  An empty jello box?  Huh?

**** A good sized bath towel, not a wash cloth or hand towel or anything…

Has it really been five years?

We’ve all got ’em.  Those friends who serve as the concrete pillars in our spiritual foundation.  Sometimes they are entirely transient – showing up for a brief period in our life, moving on, and dropping out of touch.  Perhaps a Christmas card, joke via e-mail…

Or they are woven into the fabric of our souls.  And are always there, even when we’re distracted by life and the associated shrapnel.  Something happens – signal from the Dog Planet or something – and we’re suddenly picking at that particular thread.  Acutely aware of the history, the connection… wondering…. having imaginary conversations… distractedly looking for a phone number online, or trying to find an old e-mail address…

JK and i first crossed paths almost 20 years ago on a project at work.  He was known for being a stickler for details – a “by the book” project engineer, diligent and highly competent.  He was a tough customer.  Me? A young*, extroverted** and high-energy geek with a lot of passion for technology, and a “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-skirt” style. 

Needless to say, those who knew us were bracing for the impending train wreck. 

We certainly collided.  Him?  Speechless, turning red and choking Flustered by my brash, fearless “it’s good enough – let’s roll!” approach to the task at hand!  Me?  Frequently ready to strangle him frustrated because he’s gotten lost in the minutiae of the moment.  Crossing t’s and dotting i’s and pissing me the fuck off…

But we made a great team… him doing the actual work beating through details, and me garnering praise and glory working advocacy and customer connections.  And along the way?  Long conversations over beer… literature***, music, philosophy, theology, and art… discovered that this crispy, “tough customer” was pretty comfortable at an easel, with a messy stash of oils in front of him… 

Who would have guessed that inside that impenetrable exoskeleton of competency and functionality was a soft, squishy artist?

We’d work through project planning – and life – during our lunch hours, or on business trips.  He routinely kicked my ass sailing, or on roller blades.  Forcing me out of my physical comfort zone as well as my intellectual parking lot.

Imagine my delight when i got an e-mail from him two weeks ago?  And my further delight yesterday to stumble into our ‘usual’ lunching place , and have a chance to once again smother him with a big ol’ extrovert hug?   After 90 minutes of catching up – and we had LOTS of turf to cover since it had been 5 years since he retired – he noted that we’d perhaps covered 5%**** of the turf we need to cover…

i’m not letting another five years sneak past… It’s a good rule of thumb to hold tightly to these foundational people in your life…

_____

* i was mid-30’s, going through my “Barbie” phase – had starved myself down to a size 8, wore mini-skirts and stiletto heels to the office.  in an uptight engineering shop?  just a bit disruptive… but BIG DAMN FUN from my side of the desk!  just crossing my legs during a meeting could make the presenter stutter, if not choke…

** also a bit of an anomaly in my world.  There’s an old joke – Q: How do you spot the extroverted engineer?  A: He looks at your shoes when he’s talking, rather than his own…

*** he forced encouraged me to read Joseph Campbell, Thoreau and other good stuff while i shoved pulp crap in his hands and forced encouraged him to lighten the fuck up…. And other than his momentary lapse by handing me The Bridges of Madison County (i believe it was an accident), he didn’t lead me astray.

**** i’m sure he did the mental calculation as we lunched.  it was probably 5% , +/- 0.5% margin of error…

Con-text

While mucking about at home in a post-surgical narcotic-induced fuzzy place, i received a text from The Boy.  This exchange confirms, yet again, why i shall not win any Mother of the Year Awards…

The Boy:  I got a B on the paper i just turned in!

daisyfae: Cool!  i got darvocet for post-surgical pain!

The Boy: Those aren’t really that good.  You should try to get percocet.

daisyfae:  Darvocet works for me.  Guess i haven’t developed immunity…

The Boy: I have no immunity, but for actual pain they just don’t do it for me.

daisyfae: Well, i ain’t sharing anyway!

The Boy:  I would say you need it, but there’s no need to be selfish, now…

daisyfae: Suck it up and take a tylenol!*

The Boy:  I was just fucking around.  Glad you are blissfully doped up and that you are ok.  too bad, though, i had big plans for that money.

daisyfae: What’s retail?

The Boy:  if you aren’t opposed to selling to minors, you might get 3.50 each, but 2.00 is more likely

The Boy:  not that i would know.

daisyfae: just assessing market conditions.  economic downturn and all that…

The Boy: That’s true.  Those were prices from 3 years ago.  I don’t know current valuation.

daisyfae: Keep an ear to the ground.

The Boy:  i’ll put word out.

________________

* “Suck it up and take a Tylenol” was a frequently occuring “Mom-ism” in our household.  Especially when the kids were dealing with orthodontic pain.  Needless to say, after having my braces installed a few years ago, i made the mistake of complaining about the discomfort in front of the kids.  In stereo:  “Suck it up and take a Tylenol”, shouted with evil glee…

Behind the Powder Room Door

Once again i shall post a warning to any readers, male or otherwise, who simply do not care to look behind the Powder Room Door, under the estro-curtain, and peek under the sink into the musty warren of – female plumbing.

WARNING:  Some de-mystification of female hydro-genitalia may occur.  Proceed with caution.  You can’t un-read this after the fact…

Several months back i embarked on a pleasant gynecological holiday, into the inner-workings of my girly bits.  In a quest to keep my OEM hormone generation parts, avoiding primitive evisceration hysterectomy, i settled on an intermediate option to meet my needs*.  Endometrial ablation.

It’s pretty much what it sounds like.  Unlike an ultrasound, this probe doesn’t vibrate – it has a mesh heating element.  Doc pulls vacuum (10E-3 torr for any geeks still reading) on my uterus, turns on the juice, and it’s done.  In and out (so to speak) just like an Indy pit stop.  At the hospital at 6:00**, general anesthesia by 7:15, awake in recovery by 8:30, and on my way home by 9:00.  Total preparation time: 2 1/4 hour.  Bake time: 45 minutes.

Hey, Mom!  What’s For Supper!

placentahelper

Now with STEM CELLS!

Special treat tonight, kids!  It’s Uterus Helper***!

Pardon me.  Did i mention there are painkillers involved.  More on that shortly… 

As always, my way of dealing with hospitals and medical issues is pretty simple.  i behave like a 6 year old boy, telling jokes, being silly and trying to completely minimize the amount of hassle – for me, and anyone else involved. 

Had a friend drop me off.  He offered to stay and wait, but i encouraged him to kick me out at the curb and go to work – sort of a “Medical FedEx”.  He was nice, and stopped the car… After surgery, i called him when they pulled the IV.  Thought it would be fun to be picked up “drive-by” style.  Couldn’t get enough leverage from the wheelchair to dive in the open window…

The Anesthesiologist, and Nurse Anesthetist, were pretty sprightly considering the early hour.  They do get the best drugs…  They asked me to stick out my tongue, so of course i did so in the style of a small child, complete with both hands behind my ears, fingers splayed and wagging. 

i asked to see the menu, enquiring about something mildly hallucinogenic, with perhaps just a hint of nutmeg.  Rather than have amnesia upon recovery, i wanted funky animals and trippy colors.  Maybe space flight. 

And so it went.  We had fun.  When the Anesthetist said he’d give me something to relax me?  i winked at him and said “Confident young fella, ain’t ya?”.  The Anaesthesiologist suggested they also give me something to make the jokes better…

With the “instructions for discharge”****, there was some good news and some bad news.  The bad news?  No sex for three weeks.  My reaction: “WHAT?  Doc didn’t tell me THAT?!?!?”  He’s being a big stinkin’ baby.  Was probably afraid i’d hit him.  i’ll have to improvise.  Or get a silver bullet.  To bite. 

The good news?  Darvocet.  Oh, yeah… so maybe i won’t care that i’m not getting laid?

________

* My needs?  When i asked my doctor about options for ending my monthly annoyance, he assumed that it was primarily due to “usual” problems.  My reply: “Umm… not really.  I’m recently single, with a menopause time bomb hanging over my ovaries.  Won’t be able to use hormones due to breast cancer – so i’m not wasting a minute… Short answer, Doc?  i don’t like being on the bench one week a month”.  My nerdly little doctor turned various shades of bluish-purple, and hasn’t asked again… sort of averts his eyes and blushes whenever he sees me.  Poor dear…

** i had to have a pregnancy test.  yeah, i know, legalities and all.  but my tubes were cut, tied, cauterized, super-glued, clamped and duct-taped shut in 1999.  i told the nurse if i’m pregnant, we’re calling the little fucker “Houdini”.

*** Surprisingly, i couldn’t find an image for “Uterus Helper”.  But there was this yummy treat – from an old Saturday Night Live skit…  Mmmmmm, good!

**** discharge FROM THE HOSPITAL.  Ewww… you guys….  yuk….

Science Takes A Holiday

i had to know the truth.  See it, swirl it and experience it for myself.  While not the primary reason i jumped on the chance for a South American roadtrip, i can geekily say, it was a factor…

All my life, i believed that toilets flush in the opposite direction south of the equator.  And in my inner-nerdbrain, i just knew that AT the equator, they must flush STRAIGHT DOWN.  It made perfect sense.  And i had to seek the truth…

As an experimentalist*, not to mention a highly over-scheduled and disorganized woman, i had done no preparation before leaving the country.  Didn’t even have a chance to read up on my destinations, let alone prepare a scientific research plan.  My strategy?  Flush and photograph as many toilets as possible.  Do the “post-game analysis” later.

no additives

Before long, my travel mates, as well as the other members of our small tour group, got used to my odd behavior.  My first experimental discovery in a hotel room in Quito, Ecuador (just south of the equator)?  It’s really hard to photograph swirling toilet water.   But in Quito, Ecuador – the toilets all went counterclockwise.  Promising….  The opposite of my home toilet.  An encouraging first data point…

Knowing that the construction of the toilet, and angle of the jets would be a factor, i decided to try the sink for better accuracy.  Let the water reach a kinetic equilibrium and then drain it.  But it would still be hard to photograph.  This led to an experiment with additives**.  STILL counterclockwise. 

coffee grounds - sink water at equilibrium

When we arrived at the equator in the midst of a torrential rain storm?  i couldn’t wait and dashed right off for the toilets.  Fortunately, my travel mates knew the story, or they’d have assumed i’d had some bad cuy for lunch… The locals apparently have a sense of humor.  This was the sign outside the ladies room.  Remember, folks, this is the region of the world where true shrunken heads exist.  This sign was just a touch creepy…

boobies.  creepy boobies.

boobies. creepy boobies.

i excitedly lifted the lid, steadied my camera and hit the power flush.  STRONG counterclockwise swirl.  What?  Not straight down?  Hosed – mislead by pop-science and the media****.  Damn.

(sigh)  counterclockwise.  damn.

Now that i’d acquired a new hobby, however, i wasn’t done photographing toilets.  For giggles, i snapped a shot on the flight to St. Cristobal, Galapagos (about 1degree south of the equator) and even in my cabin on the Galapagos Explorer II.  Nope.  Nothing exciting.  Just some toilet pics at this point.  Although shipboard toilets were marginally “straight down”… but clearly due to construction of the porcelain.

don't play with the blue water, kids galapagos-toilet-mystery

So, what’s really going on?  Do toilets swirl in opposite directions above and below the equator?  Lots of good urban folklore says “Yessireebob!”  And, with a spiffy name, the Coriolis Effect***, you just gotta believe it’s true.  So after being back for a few weeks, i finally did some actual research.  OK.  Not research.  i googled it.  Same difference these days…

The way the water in a toilet spins has nothing to do with the Coriolis Effect, and everything to do with how the toilet is constructed.  That’s it.  Pop-scientists disagree on details, though.  Some sources get the direction wrong.  If the Coriolis force were the dominant factor, water would spin counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern.  And my northern-hemispherical commode goes clockwise… Poo…

It’s a myth.  Even if you constructed a toilet a few miles in diameter, it might not happen.  The Coriolis Effect determines weather patterns, not toilet water patterns.  One source suggested a carefully controlled experiment using a large (1m diameter) stationary body of water could demonstrate some Coriolis Effect – lending support to my “sink-based” approach.  A small geek victory in an otherwise disappointing scientific excursion.

The sad truth:  Toilets are simply too small to exhibit the Coriolis Effect.  A rather entertaining explanation can be found via the Discovery Channel “Skinny” link, which i found via the Toilet Musem FAQ.  Well, crap…

ADDENDUM FOR DOUBTING ALEX L SOUTH OF THE EQUATOR:

Clockwise, Baby!  Read it and weep!

Clockwise, Baby! Read it and weep!

* not to be confused with a “mentalist”. 

** coffee grounds in the sink.  geez.  do you really think i’d photograph poo?  that’s just sick… i really wonder about you folks sometimes…

*** Likely to be the name of a future Tom Clancy novel.  Which i won’t read, just like his last several dozen…

**** In what many consider to be one of the best episodes of The Simpson’s (Bart vs Australia), Bart is equally intrigued by this whole “toilet flushing” thing… and it leads to an indictment for fraud from the Australian government, among other things.  In my case, at least the US Embassy didn’t get involved.

 

Re-dorkulation

If it’s Wednesday? i’m in a conference room, surrounded by science people, trying to drink my weight in coffee to maintain consciousness…

Today’s event took me down a rather unexpected “character study” path… and i’m deeply perplexed. i’m hoping that both of my readers can help shed some light on a vexing phenomenon. i sure as hell can’t figure it out.

Let me start with a fundamental truth:  Humans are animals.  We are just as driven by the biological urges from our little dinosaur brains as any other animal.  This means that males of the species are driven to mate* – and as a result, will make an effort to be attractive to females of the species. 

So for the love of biology, please help me understand WHY an attractive man, a professor who is quite accomplished in his field, isn’t socially backward, and has a bright and engaging personality and a charming sense of humor would PURPOSEFULLY CHOOSE to wear a bow tie?!?!? 

No matter how attractive he is, how smart he may be, or how desperate i might get, there is no conceivable** circumstance where i would willingly exchange body fluids with a man who wears a bow tie with a suit.  To a meeting.  On purpose.   It just SCREAMS “I’ve got Mommy issues”… 

Deal breaker?  Oh, yeah…

Oh Dear, I've been RE-DORKULATED!

Oh Dear, I've been RE-DORKULATED!

* Women are equally driven to mate – despite how it may seem to some of you gents – but we are the “keepers of the egg supply”, and given that we are born with a finite number of eggs, we protect them.  Saving them for potential fertilization by men we perceive to be The Most Powerful Egg Protectors.  Yes.  i am a romantic.  Surprised?

** see what i did there?

Timing is everything

My father wasn’t a veteran.  He had great admiration for them, however, and it always bothered him that he’d been unable to serve during World War II.  His father?  Fought for the Italian army in World War I* – and isn’t it cool?  Posing with a cigarette…

What? Me? Drop a rifle?

What? Me? Drop a rifle?

At the beginning of the war, Dad was a freshman in the engineering program at Northeastern University.  His friends discussed the option of enlistment, and in general, the pack of first generation immigrants were ready to serve.  Dad decided to finish out the school year – although he spent lots of time playing, and his grades suffered as a result.

With terrible eyesight, he used his network of friends to get a copy of the eye-chart so he could memorize it in order to pass the physical.  As luck would have it, Dad flunked several classes Spring term – and also flunked the eye test.  They’d changed the chart.  So it was back to school…

Here’s to all who have served, and their families.  There is something powerful in the willingness to sign up to risk death for causes that may not be your own. 

_______

* One of Dad’s favorite jokes?  Q: How does the Italian Army do training maneuvers? A: [marched past with both hands on his head].  Second favorite joke? Q: How did the Italian Admiral review his navy?  A:  Glass-bottomed boat.