Saturday, November 25, 2006

And I'm not done yet

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It all started...

...because a judge didn't like the idea of a woman in combat. Having once upon a time wanted to be a combat pilot, I found the judge's attitude ignorant and interesting. The conversation that came after made me think.

I got into a discussion about the freedom of choice and totalitarian governments. I realized that no one can take your freedom of choice away no matter what they do. A government can clamp down on freedom and limit everything you say and do but the government cannot take away your right to ignore their laws and restrictions. There are always options.

For instance, the American government makes flying anywhere an exercise in frustration with their metal detectors and strip searches, etc. Having flown to New Jersey nearly two years ago I experienced it first hand, including having everything I had with me pawed through by security guards and being forced to take off a good portion of my clothing. I submitted because I had to get to New Jersey to go through orientation for my new job, and because if I didn't get there I would not have had a job and a paycheck. I'd been without a paycheck long enough.

Most of us are so used to following the rules that we do little more than complain while we submit. We do have options and we never think of them because we worry about the consequences of not complying.

Laws are agreed upon societal guidelines that set down what is permissible and the penalties of disobedience or going contrary to the guidelines. When you get right down to where the rubber meets the road, laws are for honest and decent people. Society says this is where the line is drawn and the majority of people will never cross the line or even get near it. However, there are people who are unwilling to live their lives according to society's guidelines. These people exercise their freedom to choose not to obey the law. Some are caught but more often than not most people get away with their disobedience and continue to get away with their "crimes". Some of those people are legislators and officers of the law.

Even in a dictatorship there are those who will ignore the strictures set down and choose to follow a contrary path. Most of them are in power, but a few are considered freedom fighters by their peers and the rest of the sheep who follow the herd. Those freedom fighters are labeled anarchists by the government.

Whether or not a government allows its people the freedom to read a book or travel without hassle or even dress a certain way, everyone is still free to choose whether or not to follow the laws. How many people though are willing to risk censure, punishment or even death to exercise their freedom of choice?

Laws are like burglar alarm systems, a mirage of safety that keeps honest people honest and do little to deter those determined to follow the left-hand path. Think about it.

That is all. Disperse.

Friday, November 24, 2006

After turkey blues and greens and skunk

I'm not happy about it but I'll do it. Work, that is. I over slept this morning and am getting a late start but I think it's a good thing. The landlady came back early today and her daughter's dogs got skunked again. She had to take a shower and wash her clothes because she smells like skunk. That is one scent I don't think I can take early in the morning, especially not on a morning when I have to work. She'll go back out to her daughter's house in Black Forest for the weekend and Pastor and I will roam around the area for the weekend. We may even take a walk out to Garden of the Gods for a while to clear my head and get some exercise. The landlady said even her purse smells of skunk and she has clients today; that is why she came back to town.

I probably over slept because Mark called late last night to thank me for my Thanksgiving day card and to see if I would give in and give him what he wanted--a little titillation over the phone. The answer is still no, but thanks for playing. I have to give him credit. He is persistent and that persistence is what finally got him a permanent job so that he is back to work now. He's been working temporary jobs, doing consulting work and helping build houses for Habitat for Humanity since he was laid off four years ago. He's glad to get back to work finally but a little nervous. I know the feeling. It's hard to give up having lots of free time to come and go as you please and get back into the 9-5 grind. He was also bemoaning the fact that he was planning to come back out and visit for a few days and now he has to wait for six months because of the new job. I have mixed feelings about it. I'd like to see him again but I'm not anxious to explain that since I now have a couch that is where he will be sleeping. My heart (and body) belongs to another. I guess I'm more Charlotte than Samantha, despite what you might have heard.

I have about ten minutes to get dressed and get some breakfast before another day of work. It's not so bad, I guess, since I'll get paid when I work and I wouldn't get paid if I took the day off. I have a four-day weekend for the next holiday and that is something to look forward to enjoying. At least this year I'll be paid for the holiday and there will be a bonus at the end of the year, so two things to look forward to enjoying instead of one. At this rate, things are bound to get better.

That is all. Disperse.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

I woke up at 2:30 AM and couldn't get back to sleep right away. Not a problem; I have a computer and books. I read and went through email and did my usual early morning routine after heeding and obeying the call of nature and then I fell back to sleep only to wake an hour later from the midst of a dream where I was going to the bathroom. I made it to the bathroom with seconds to spare. My warm and cozy bed called softly to me but I have company this weekend, my favorite fella--Pastor. He had to go out.

Eyes still partially veiled with sleep, I worked my feet into my still tied trainers and made my way downstairs to wake Pastor and take a cold blast of autumn morning air in the face while Pastor ambled out into the yard to yawn and stretch and stretch and yawn and... "Do your business, Pastor," I called with hope in my heart and body wracked with chills. "Hurry up, boy," I begged as he yawned and stretched some more, sniffing here and there to find just the right spot.

Why can't dogs go in the same spot all the time? Humans do. Okay, so we have a bowl of water with an opened ringed seat and the debris doesn't sink into the water table or dry out while flies feast and lay their maggoty eggs. Yuck! Where was I? Oh, right...

"Please, Pastor," I begged silently as he stretched and yawned and hovered in prime position at last. I didn't hear the usual splash and forcible spray onto the crunchy dead leaves and he didn't stay there long. He milled around stretching and yawning some more but something in my look--probably the abject pleading frozen on my numb face--caught his attention and he ambled back to the porch and inside, stopping long enough to butt me with his head and push me into the cold pallid morning light in my T-shirt and trainers.

I shut and locked the door and followed him into the landlady's apartment and into the kitchen to give him fresh water, prepare his meds and add them to his food, patted him on the head and he dove nose first into his warm breakfast and trudged back into the hall and up the stairs to go back to bed. I'm in bed but sleep did not follow so I'm back on the Internet cruising for an information fix before I slide back beneath the covers and find that warm and cozy spot where I can drift back into sleep to find the three hours I lost this morning when nature raised the alarm at 2:30 AM.

At least dinner will be quick and easy to prepare: turkey, baked yams, dilled cucumbers and fresh fruit. (I did the cucumbers last night and the fruit is already ready)

I had planned to be in Missouri for a very long weekend until lack of funds and the jolting shock of being told by my boss she didn't schedule me off tomorrow as I had requested and she had agreed nine long months ago. Instead, with my one remaining personal day, I am taking off Dec. 22nd so I will have a four-day weekend with Xmas.

I got it in writing.

That is all. Disperse.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I started to write about snakes because a column I read about snakes reminded me of the snakes I collected and kept as a child. Then something happened that drove the snakes out of my head. A friend is in a deep depression.

My friend doesn't have a lot of friends and keeps pretty much to himself, cut off from emotional and outside support. His family is nearly all gone; only a few cousins remain. He shares his wife's family because he has none of his own. His friends are important to him, especially the other two musketeers who share his hobbies and his passions. Now he feels alone. One of his friends, a some time bully, has hurt him deeply and reminded him of something in his own past when he hurt someone in the same way. He has fallen into the abyss and cannot get himself out. Work holds no interest for him. He wishes his wife and family would leave him alone. Even his projects no longer fill him with excitement--and he is alone.

Or so he thinks.

His past has come back to bite him in his tender parts. He is reminded of something mean and petty he did to someone who trusted and cared about him. He is in the Slough of Despond.

He needn't be. No one needs to be.

It is doubtful there are more than a handful of people who, at one time or another, have not hurt someone they loved or cared about, betrayed a friend, or been mean and small and petty. We have all made mistakes. That's part of being human. It doesn't mean we need to wallow in our failures and mistakes but it is doubtful we are ready to listen when anyone tells us to forget the past and learn from our mistakes. It's easy to stand outside and tell someone else there's nothing to fear. It's different to be the one inside afflicted with fear of going out into the wide world. It feels nearly impossible that the huge towering sky and the cacophony and clamor of voices and sounds ready to thunder down will pause and give you time to get used to them, trickle in rather than flood your mind and your senses. It's hard to get control when you feel out of control and have no experience with what it feels like to be in control. But someday, some time, some way there will be a moment when you are ready to take that leap of faith and venture out and you needn't be alone. This is for when that time comes for my friend.

Whenever you need to talk, I'm here to listen. Whenever you're ready to venture out again, I'll walk by your side and take your hand. Whenever you need a friend, I'll always be here because I never left.

On the darkest days when the clouds are closing in, the sun still shines; you can count on that. You can also count on the moon coming back to full when it seems to have disappeared from the sky. And you can count on me.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Chilly November

This is one of those mornings I woke from a sound, undisturbed sleep, something that doesn't often happen. I was a little stiff from lying in the same position for so may hours but I also didn't dream and I feel refreshed instead of like I need to crawl back under the covers and sleep for another eight hours. I usually want to sleep more but I get up and work and write and do all the things I need to do before it's time to climb onto the torture chair for another 8-12 hours of slave wages. That's life--or at least that's my life right now.

It's a clear cold morning and the sun glances off the bare branches striking silver and golden sparks beneath a cold pale blue sky full of drifting banks and islands of clouds. I smell snow on the breeze sneaking through the window I left open just a crack, a sharp, clean scent of moisture. There's a slight heaviness in the air, an anticipation like a held breath or an caught sigh. The buses labor through the streets outside the windows and cars whoosh by but here inside it's quiet and calm and full of golden light. Now I know why Feng Shui says the head of the bed should lie on a west wall--to see the dawn.

I haven't used an alarm clock in ages and I don't really need one most of the time. My windows are bare and the morning sun nudges me softly every morning, waking me slowly like a lover's kiss. There is no jangling bell, burst of raucous laughter or music or insistent buzz, just the slow tiptoe creep of the sun on the horizon getting slowly brighter and brighter welcoming me from the underworld of sleep and dreams and calling me back from my wanderings to another day.

The weekend was busy. Can you tell?
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
65,698 / 50,000

And I'm not done yet.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A note to doctors

It is my job to make sense out of your dictations so I have a few pointers for you.


1. Every time you race through a dictation and garble test results and technically difficult surgeries you waste my time and yours. I have to take extra time to figure out what you're saying while you eat your meals, speak at twice the speed of sound or fumble through technical jargon with an accent thick enough to cut peasant bread. When I leave blanks because I cannot decipher what it is you're saying then someone else has to take time away from their job to fill in the blanks. Most of the time they cannot figure out what you said either and must send the report back to you to fill in the blanks. You have wasted my time, their time and your time. If you would talk clearly and succinctly and spell out the difficult or unfamiliar words (not the easy ones since I know how to spell CT scan and radiograph already) you would save all of us a great deal of time.

2. Dictate your reports within a day or two so you don't have to waste my time while you leaf through the patient's file to figure out what you did two or three years ago and so you don't have to race through 500 reports in the space of 20 minutes (see above).

3. If English is your second language speak slowly and clearly and do it in a quiet environment, not at home with your kids screaming and running around so that you have to tell them to go to their mother or leave the room, not in your car on your cell phone with the windows down and the music on, and preferably in an area where cell phone coverage is clear and doesn't have dead zones. I cannot transcribe static into anything coherent. You waste my time and yours because you will inevitably have to dictate the report again, so please do it right the first time.

4. Read the patient's case file before you dictate and not while you're dictating. A 2-minute report should not have 15-30 minutes of dead air while you leaf through the report to familiarize yourself with the patient.

5. If you dictate the same operations over and over, please dictate a template and indicate changes where necessary. This saves us both a lot of time and you won't have to race through your dictations or dictate while you are eating, driving, bawling out your children, commenting on having sex with nurses and coworkers, or sneezing, coughing, and sniffling in my ear for 10 minutes while you dictate one page of copy.

6. If the patient broke his hand or had a table fall on his foot, of course there is no head trauma or loss of consciousness.

If you follow my suggestions we will all be happy. You will get clean and error-free reports that you will not have to go back and fix. I realize you have a difficult job and that you see a lot of patients, but remember these are people and you and I are responsible for making sure the report is accurate. I don't have to worry about malpractice, but you do. Keep that in mind when you dictate. I'm sure your insurance company will thank you, too. I certainly do.


That is all. Disperse.

Happy dance

I knew the ice truck killer was still at large and the guy they picked up, a taxidermist, living in an old trailer, with a genius IQ and a desire for immortality, was a dud. The ice truck killer would have definitely have not had a lame hobby like taxidermy when he practices his art on humans, and I don't mean to demean taxidermists. They have their art, too, but it's like equating Picasso or Michaelangelo with a kid in high school art class who can draw stick figures. No contest.

Anyway, I was right about the identity of the ice truck killer. i knew I was right two weeks ago and today I got confirmation.

Don't know who I'm talking about? Check out Dexter. If you haven't seen it on Showtime at least check it out the available episodes on the web, and definitely make a trip to the library and check out Jeff Lindsay's Dexter books. They're both worth the time and effort and you'll be amazed. This is how truly creative minds work.

That is all. Disperse.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Two truths

There are two things I realized today. Popcorn made with Crisco is not nearly as good as popcorn made with olive oil. I can't believe that's the way I used to eat it until I ran out of Crisco and used olive oil more than 10 years ago. The popcorn had a fruity taste and scent to it that was very different and the popcorn was very light. (Yes, I still make popcorn the old fashioned way because I can't stand the smell of the microwave kind). I'm the frugal sort so I will choke it down and go to the store on Tuesday and buy some more olive oil. A 20-gallon drum ought to do it.

So many people I know complain that they don't understand why people who lie, cheat and steal get everything they want. I've been one of those people. Not any more. I know why now.

While we might have the moral high ground the liars, cheaters and thieves own fertile ground at the bottom of the hill. While good and decent people are getting shafted left and right and focusing on doing the right thing the liars, cheats and thieves are focusing on getting what they want by any means necessary. Those kinds of people leave no stone unturned, no trick unplayed and allow nothing and no one to get in their way to getting what they want. What they have is focus and drive. They are single-minded and think of nothing but their wants, their needs and their success. If someone gets hurt or loses money, property or love to them, so what? Those moral people should be willing to risk everything to get what they want. There is no middle ground. You either focus on getting what you want anyway you can or you end up eating the dust of those who will.

Moral people focus on what the immoral people are doing wrong and crying into their beer, coffee or tea instead of focusing on doing their jobs and making success come to them instead of waiting for it to happen in God's, goddess's, gods', fate's, the Universe's or Karma's time.

Whatever you think of an immoral person's lack of ethics one thing you cannot deny. They get the job done. Maybe it's time to take a lesson. Politely ask someone to move out of your way before you have to run over them, but get where you're going. Keep your eyes on the prize and you will get it. Time to stop whining and asking why, hitch up your pants and damn the torpedoes.

That is all. Disperse.