Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Tomorrow is Wednesday!

In case you were wondering, tomorrow is Wednesday. I know, because I've been waiting about a week for tomorrow. See, the weather report on the news out here has this really neat graph, which shows the 7-day forecast along with a linear representation of the normal average temperature for the day. While I've been told repeatedly how mild a winter this year's has been, it has nevertheless been below average most of the time since I've moved. So last week, I was watching the news and the infamous weather graph appeared. A nice line across the middle showed the average temperatues. And of course, as usual, the line for the predicted temperatures appeared generously below that line. Except, on Wednesday, it showed that we were FINALLY! going to peak above average!!! So, I've been watching, and no one has backed off of that prediction. I keep asking people if they know what Wednesday is... they seem surprised by my answer. "Wednesday is the day we go above average!," I tell them. Today, the clouds started to clear in time for a beautiful sunset. The temperatures started to warm and the sky was actually blue. Yes, indeed, tomorrow is Wednesday... finally!

Protest of the Week (March 28)

I'm not going to add to the plethora of opinions on the Schiavo case. It is enough to say that it is a sad situation for all involved, and for anyone else who has gone through or will go through the same thing. The most important thing to do is to let your wishes be known before it is too late. That being said, it IS the protest of the week:

Schiavo's Husband and Parents Now Battling Over Autopsy Plan
(per Washington Post, March 29, 2005)

PINELLAS PARK, Fla., March 28 -- The war over Terri Schiavo, once tightly focused on whether she would live or die, shifted at times Monday to arguments over how her body will be examined.

Her husband, Michael Schiavo, wants an autopsy in hopes of proving the severity of her brain damage. Her parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, want a medical examination to answer questions about their suspicions that Michael Schiavo may have broken her bones in what they say may have been an attack that caused her brain injury, an allegation that was previously made.

Michael Schiavo and his attorneys have vehemently denied the accusation, saying doctors believe Schiavo's brain injury was caused by a lack of oxygen after a heart attack.

The dueling plans for examining Terri Schiavo's body were announced Monday as protesters carried crucifixes into Lafayette Square across from the White House, then visited three congressional offices to pressure lawmakers to intervene again in the case.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Deer Crossing

One of the things I'm adjusting to is the abundence of wildlife in Maryland. We live near a forest-type park and there are always signs for deer. We have seen at least 12 deer in our neighborhood since moving in. When it snowed, we woke to deer tracks all over the backyard. And just 2 nights ago, we passed 7 deer between the supermarket and our house. In addition to the deer are the vultures, foxes (I haven't seen them, but only because I was the passenger and my eyes were shut), and raccoons (wow, that cat is walking weird... wait, that's not a cat!).

For an animal lover like myself, this is pretty neat stuff. However, along with deer comes deer crossings. We went to a friend's family for Easter, and they got on the subject of deer. I thought it bad enough when my realtor told me her boyfriend hit a deer, and at such a perfect angle that when they went back to inspect, the deer had just completely disintegrated. But we're sitting around a table with only 7 people, when all of a sudden they launch into their deer stories. One says he's hit a deer 3 times. Another chimes in that she's hit one, the other says her father hit one and it landed in the pickup bed, so they left it there because they didn't know what to do about it. One says their friend hit a deer on Halloween and it went through the windshield, spilling guts all over his passenger's costume. Now, I've heard they're overpopulated, but I was beginning to think this was just a wild group of young folk, when the mother (I'm guessing in her 60's) chimes in about the time she hit a deer... and asks her son if he remembers when she hit a deer 2 days after he did.

OUCH! So now I'm panicked. I do not want to hit a deer!!! But after a conversation like that, I was sure I was going to hit one on the way home. Their advice: Don't swerve, turn off your headlights, honk, and then (if unavoidable as it inevitably will be) just hit it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Pictures

Well, it took long enough to show you some pictures. If anyone out there is using Hello & Picasa to post pictures to a blog, please let me know how I can actually upload these to my blog in the middle of text and into existing entries, so that I don't keep adding a new entry for each individual picture. Much appreciated!


Our home in snow. Posted by Hello


Our home Posted by Hello

Protest of the Week (March 14)

This week's protest is sponsored by "The Answer Group," which is apparently an anti-war-in-Iraq group which is looking for answers as to why the hell we're there and when the hell we're getting out. I got this protest information second-hand from my law enforcement wife, since it hasn't been on the news. The news has been a little busy with our Pentagon and mail anthrax scares, as well as the recurring mercury spills at a local high school.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Cutting Edge Technology

I have never been an "early adapter" when it comes to technology. My philosophy is to wait until other people spend the big bucks to figure out what's the best, and then wait for the price to drop. Now that we've moved and our expenses are through the roof, coupled with my lack of employment, we decided to take a technological plunge into internet phone service. It's one of those new technologies that actually save you a lot of money right off the bat.

We've had a few quality issues, but there are many plusses, like the price and the unlimited calling to U.S. and Canada. However, and this is a BIG however, it's a pain in the rear to get started. Sure, it's easy enough. But it takes SO DARN LONG!!! Once the equipment arrived in the mail, we could make outgoing calls immediately. And the only big glitch so far was when we had a cable problem, which of course knocked out our internet, which of course knocked out our phone. But the biggest issue is INCOMING calls. We still don't receive them. The website says 3-5 business days. Our first call to the service center had them telling us it would take 5-7 business days. The next call they said 7-10 business days, promising incoming call service by today. Today's call had them telling me 10-15 business days before I nearly bit the woman's heads off. Now they tell me maybe by midnight, since the techs work until midnight. I know she was just blowing smoke.

So I apologize to those people who have been trying to call us. But we're test subjects for new cutting edge technology. And we're getting what we paid for. Please, keep trying...

Lights

Just a couple newly noted differences out here.

Lights. Lights on emergency vehicles are very blinky, spew in all directions, and generally could induce an epileptic fit in the hands of any surgeon. They are highly annoying and intrusive, which is great when they're speeding through an intersection, but not so great when they're at a traffic stop waking up half the neighborhood in the middle of the night. At least Los Angeles had the decency to fix their lights so they would only shine in the needed direction, at a nice pace, and with only the desired colors necessary for a particular occasion. And it's not just emergency vehicles with these strobe lights. It's also the tow trucks, construction vehicles, and school buses.

I think they have problems with lights in general out here. They have yet to perfect the timed street light. Perhaps this is to allow drivers a chance to stop from time to time to figure out where they are, since there are no street signs. But inevitably, on any given drive, you will be stopped for no apparent reason... and the stops are usually quite long. Someone really ought to get these folks some traffic sensors!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Retraction

Is it really fair to say one is acclimating simply because they have one 70 degree day? I mean, all it takes to really spoil that mood is another heavy snowfall... like the one I woke up to today. Yesterday 70, today 30, windy and heavy snow. Nope. Not acclimating at all.


*update as of 11:30pm: The news said it actually was only 26 degrees today, with wind up to 50 miles an hour, for a wind chill of 7 degrees in my area. Was it really 70 yesterday, or was I dreaming!?!?!?

Monday, March 07, 2005

Acclimating

Yesterday I stepped outside and commented that I was happy it was finally getting "warm"... turns out it was about 50 degrees. Today, I was downright "HOT!" at about 70 degrees. Guess that means I'm acclimating?

Friday, March 04, 2005

The Personality Test

Have you ever taken the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory test? (MBTI?) I've done it before, and today I did it again. I actually went on an interview where they provided the test to me. I always find it fascinating. Funny, they say people change over the years, and I've definitely felt some strong forces changing even in just the past 1 year, but my result was exactly the same as the last time. The interviewer even said she was surprised, not what she would have guessed from me based on our initial phone interview. I'm kind of right on the cusp of at least one category, and that can change the results a lot. But I'm amazed, despite this, how accurate it can be. I could have easily swayed to the other side in 3 of the 4 categories, upping my possible results to 8 of the possible 16. But the result I got fit. I read my summary, and in most all things it was pretty darn accurate. Apparently, the test is based on Carl Jung's theory of types, which I found particularly interesting since I just started reading about Jung recently. Very fascinating stuff. It's amazing his insight into people, and I would love to have a little more of that myself.


Now here's the kicker. Who can guess what personality type I am? And if so, who can guess what I felt it wasn't very accurate in? If you don't play, I won't say...

Protest of the Week (Feb. 28)

I haven't seen too many protests lately in DC... probably the weather has been too cold. Grrrrr..... But here's an interesting article a friend sent me about a protest in Uruguay:


Uruguay Is AskingWhy the Oscars Snubbed Jorge Drexler
Antonio Banderas Got to SingHis Award-Winning Song; National Pride Is at Stake
By KATY MCLAUGHLIN, Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
March 2, 2005; Page A1

Yesterday, the tiny South American nation of Uruguay inaugurated its first socialist president ever. Shops were shuttered, and people flooded the streets of the capital by the thousands to celebrate.
And what was the main headline in Uruguay's biggest newspaper? The scandal at the Oscars.
On Sunday night, an Uruguayan singer won the Oscar for best song. It's the first Academy Award ever won by an Uruguayan, and the first for a Spanish-language song. The song, from the soundtrack of "The Motorcycle Diaries," the movie about Che Guevara, was written -- words and music -- by Jorge Drexler, a popular recording artist from Montevideo, who sings it in the movie.
But Mr. Drexler wasn't invited to sing his song on the Oscar broadcast. The show's producers, preferring to book stars, tapped the actor Antonio Banderas to sing it and Carlos Santana to accompany him on guitar. Mr. Banderas was born in Spain, Mr. Santana in Mexico.
Musician Carlos Santana (left) and actor Antonio Banderas perform 'Al Otro Lado del Rio' during the Academy Awards.


Standing along the inaugural parade route yesterday in Montevideo, Leticia Talmon, 22 years old, was watching motorcades roll past. But her mind was on Mr. Drexler. "They think everyone who speaks Spanish is the same," she said, while her four friends -- some wearing red, blue and white flags sewn by their mothers for the occasion -- muttered about the unfairness of it all.
"I laughed when I saw Antonio Banderas's flamenco version," said Ms. Talmon, referring to his gestures, which evoked a Spanish musical style. "That has nothing to do with the culture here."
Mr. Drexler, meanwhile, is being widely praised in Uruguay for an act of rebellion that was probably lost on many Oscar viewers. When he accepted his award, he didn't thank his mother, his producers or his agent. He sang a cappella, a couple of stanzas from his song, "Al Otro Lado del Río" ("The Other Side of The River.")
That simple act has become an emblem of national pride. The Uruguayan press has dubbed it "the next Maracanazo," a reference to a legendary soccer match, played more than a half-century ago, in which the underdog Uruguayan team turned around a losing game and snatched the World Cup from soccer giant Brazil, on Brazil's home field, Maracanã stadium.
Newspapers praised his a cappella performance as an "act of revenge" and a "bofetada sin mano," an expression that translates literally "a slap without a hand." On yesterday's inauguration day, El País, the country's largest-circulation newspaper, put out a six-page special section dedicated to Mr. Drexler. All the coverage is justified, says Henry Segura, the paper's performing-arts editor. It's "the most significant thing to happen in Uruguay in many years," he says, adding: "It was a triumph of dignity."
Jorge Drexler


Uruguay is a country of about 3.3 million people, roughly the size of Oklahoma. Its low-key culture pales next to sultry Argentina's to the south. Its tiny economy is constantly battered by the wild financial swings of Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay's neighbor to the north.
Given Uruguay's relative lack of presence on the world stage, the country celebrates even its smallest contributions to pop culture. "We got excited when they mentioned the word 'Uruguay' on 'The Simpsons,' " says Daniel Drexler, Jorge's brother, "even though they pronounced it 'you are gay' and made a joke out of it."
Yesterday in Uruguay, newspapers, the TV news, radio shows and many Uruguayans were united in two things: Joy at Mr. Drexler's triumph, and outrage at the slight. News shows on Monday night led with a detailed analysis of the controversy. Radio Futura, a call-in talk and music radio station, took more than 100 calls on Monday about the award, mostly from people expressing pride that Mr. Drexler had burst into song on the Oscar show.
The Uruguayan public has been following Mr. Drexler's struggle for the past two weeks, ever since he and the producers of "The Motorcycle Diaries," learned that he wasn't being invited to sing on the telecast. Mr. Drexler himself called Gil Cates, the Oscar broadcast producer, and pleaded with him to reconsider.
It isn't uncommon for the Oscar show to bypass the original singers of nominated songs. This year Beyonce sang three of the nominated songs, and she didn't sing in any of the nominated films. Still, Mr. Drexler was unhappy not to be included. He says that in the end he faced facts and gave Mr. Banderas his blessing. Mr. Banderas, he says, acted "like a gentleman."
Mr. Cates said he understands why Mr. Drexler and other Uruguayans are upset. "I would be upset, too," he says. He explained that he chose Mr. Banderas simply because he was a bigger star, and the Oscar broadcast, in addition to being an award show, is also a variety show -- and the attraction to viewers is big-name stars. "This is show business," said Mr. Cates.
Mr. Drexler says he is delighted that his saga has been embraced by his countrymen. "It was like we were down nine men to 11, and we won anyway," he said on Monday, using a soccer metaphor to describe the comeback role he played on Oscar night. "I wanted to sing that song, and I did, and that made me happy."

--Vanessa Nichols in Montevideo, Uruguay, contributed to this article.