Friday, August 31, 2007

Why health insurance is over rated

When I was in high school I had a lot of spare time. It is one of the many joys of being home schooled that you have more time than you know what to do with.
Of course, being the incredibly ambitious person that I am, I spent it wisely improving my understanding or honing new skills...or I chatted on the internet every night from 10:00-2:00, while watching Star Trek and M*A*S*H reruns.

But the internet is an interesting place, especially for a kid who has lived in the same area for most of her life, around the same type of people. Now I could talk to people from all kinds of backgrounds and beat dead horses all night long.
Back then I was really on top of social/political issues...I had the time. Nowadays I get my news from radio soundbites or slices.

One thing that fascinated me though, was that my new friends all seemed to agree that trends apply only happen in the entertainment or fashion world. I mentioned some trend that was happening with science and was promptly told that things like science or health or technology don't have trends. These things are based on facts and therefore cannot be subject to the whims of people.

For a while this confused me, but then I realized that I was right and they were naive. Its amazing how often that turns out to be the case. Anyhow, there are trends in everything, but health trends are more changeable than even the fashion industry. One month it's pomegranates and rock climbing, this month it's interval walking and well, I don't know, but it'll be expensive and probably imported and the health world will spend all month in controversy over the best use of it and whether it really works. Then Oprah will champion it on her tv show and it'll be all over the place with a little Oprah seal of approval stamped on it.

Health seems like something that should stay that same. If interval walking is fabulous this month why is it that next month weight training will be the only real way to get in shape? I understand with fashion, the designers are creative people and need to be creating new things all the time. But health? People in the health field aren't creative. Imagine if our doctor's were creative, "Oh I don't know, we could do the standard proceedure, but what if we threw in a labotomy just for fun? I haven't done labotomy in a long time. You know what would be fun to bring back? Leeches. Let's rock it old school." Very disturbing very quickly. This is why doctor's make so much money. We pay them to not be creative.

The real reason why these things keep changing is that they don't really work. They just keep switching them out so we don't have time to notice. Now, you're thinking to yourself, "Oh well, those people that write the health column in Reader's Digest or Prevention, sure they're not on top of things, but actual scientists and doctor's have their facts straight."

This is a cute thought along the same lines as telling children that some sadist fairy wants to collect their teeth, but similarly false. This is why they tell you to get a second and third opinion. They figure that if three of them guess the same thing they're probably right.

Or they can split the cost of the malpractice suit.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Extreme Sports Meets Rock & Roll

A story from a teacher in S.C. explaining why bad education is not his fault:

So, we are reading this story about a young kid who has a father that works at a mountain climbing school. The kid's name is Axel. In the story, the kid's dog gets trapped on a ledge and the kid climbs up and saves him.That's the background info.

Today, a teacher got a letter from a parentstating the following:"I really don't understand why you are subjecting our children to extremesports. In a time when safety is stressed and parents can't even have theircellphones on at school, this story is highly inappropriate."

My favorite part: "Who names their child Axel? Is he the lead singer ofGuns and Roses? I don't want my daughter subjected to that."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

...looking for adventure...

Months ago I was shopping and saw a beautiful bed that doesn't go with any of my furniture, so I couldn't justify buying it (especially as somewhere I think I have a bed). On the other hand somebody should own the beautiful bed. So when I heard that Robin was looking for a bed I told her about it and she quickly placed her order.

Which is how I found myself trying to keep various boxes of iron rods and such from flying off/out of Robin's SUV. The long pieces were put through the windows so that a bit was sticking out each side and there was tape over the open end, which the salesperson had assured me was crap and probably would not hold up. One of the large flat boxes fit in the cargo area, but the other was tied to the roof with twine. Initially it seemed that we'd done a good job securing the roof box, but after a few minutes we each had an arm out our windows trying to keep it from flying away.

I think we might had looked a little bit silly.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Home on the Range

I love my drive home. Its so peaceful and pretty. The light only hits the fields that way twice a day and I love it.

Yesterday I pulled out of the parking lot behind a dump truck with some kind oddly hanging leather tarp attatched to a pole or something. It was practically falling off the truck and as the truck turned the corner I thought, "I wonder what that is, if I didn't know better I'd think - oh, sick.". Friends, the truck was full to the brim with dead cows. There was a lot of smoke pouring out of the truck so they were all gray, but they were very definitely cows.

I have no idea why there were so many dead cows or where the truck could possibly have been taking them. It was going the wrong direction for McDonald's. Normally I speed down the country roads like some kind of tidal wave is racing my car, but yesterday evening I was pretty sedate with 45 mph so that the massive carcus swaying on top of the load would go back to being some unidentiable gray object.

I thought that any second it would turn down a side road and I could be free of its gruesome presence, but I was wrong. I drove halfway home behind that thing before pulling into a gas station. I didn't need gas, I just needed something to do that would put a lot of traffic and many miles between my chevy and the bovine hearse.

Today we're finishing up a publication and needed pictures of school children playing on the playground so I went to a local school, signed in and started shooting (sounds awful even when you know you're talking about photos doesn't it?). One of the teachers stopped me and asked why I was there (even though I clearly had a vistor's badge!) I explained (our publications are well known around her and the schools pay us to put in pictures of the kids) and she detained me for several minutes asking what the requirements were.

Requirements? Um...that they be at the school? Oh, for us to use the picture? Um...none that I know of. Oh you have to have their parent sign something before you put it on the itnernet? Well maybe that's because its the internet. Finally she said she guessed it must be ok if I'd signed in. Ya think?

But the kids were adorable. One of the girl glares at me, "Who are you and what are you doing taking my picture?", "My name is Melody and I work for a magazine." Immediately I have about twelve girls screaming "A magazine! A magazine! I'm going to be in a magazine! Me! Me!" Hillarious. I really hope one of those pictures turned out well because the girls were so phsyched about it.

Another girl kinda followed me around shyly for a while. I never know what to do with the shy kids. They might want their picture taken, and be too shy to ask or they might be traumatized by the idea. You never know till you take the shot.

This little girl finally got up the nerve to ask me to take her photo and immediately had four friends who also wanted to be in the picture. I'm pretty sure they're backlit.
Then there were some Amish kids. Well, there were a lot of Amish kids, but Amish kids are even touchier than shy kids because they may well want their picture taken but do their parent's? A lot of the parent's do, but a lot the parents and the kids feel guilty about it because they're not supposed to want to have their picture taken.

If I'd taken them in a public setting I'd post them here, cuz I know I got some good shots, but give nthe whole teacher run-in and the fact that even though public schools are ~gasp~ public, they're amazingly closed...I'll just let you imagine the cuteness. Or you could pick up the September issue.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Waste of a Weekend

Its been a ridiculously frustrating weekend. So I guess its not really suprising that I have the patience of a two year old now that I’m back at work. Every little thing feels like a crisis so half of my morning has been spent thinking, "Actually, the world won’t fall apart if you computer doesn’t open that file in 0.2 seconds. Get. A. Grip." My self lectures aren’t really all that successful.

I missed out on something I really wanted to be at, mostly because I was angry and didn’t want to contact the person I needed to talk to in order to get the information I needed. I thought said person was just blowing me off after I’d already asked...but in reality e-mail failed me...and the fact that I’m too darn stubborn.

My ex launched yet another hidious tirade and a group of our friends/acquantences. He has a tendency to hate us...mostly for something one of his other ex’s did to him, which wasn’t pretty horrible, but isn’t our fault.

He’s furious because she had this high standard she wanted to live up to. Most days I just want to laugh in his face, because when we were dating he got angry at me because I didn’t have any list of things I’d change about him or something I thought he should improve. He gets so angry at people because he thinks they want him to be all perfect and proper...and to a certain degree that’s true. We have certain expectations about how grown men will act in general. But he thinks Christian women expect their significant other to be a sort of mini-christ. This, is simply infuriating because he has always acted as if having a girlfriend or wife will somehow transform his life into if it were salvation. When we dated he had all these things I needed to the name of honesty and truth he felt he had to tell me all my many flaws. I know he did it to the next girl he dated as well. I can’t say I have much sympathy for the fact that in his search for the perfect girl he found someone who has higher expectations than he did.

Of course when I’m not simply ready to slap him in the face with an iron skillet I think he’s finally lost his mind. He keeps going on about how God made him just so that the chosen people could walk all over him and use him as a learning experience so that their lives would be more perfect.

And the whole Link mutation...I know anyone who reads this blog already knows how I feel about that...except for maybe Alice...who cannot figure out what I’m whispering to her even when we’re sitting right next to each other ;)

On the plus side, I really just can’t convey how excited I am about moving. I’m dying to live in a city again. Near a mall (even if it is a tiny one) and with two Wal-marts and the Mejier. Its going to be such a relief. Country living is for organized people who don’t forget half the things on thier grocery list every time they go to the store. And a house, with a yard! That’s exciting.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Homoginize the World Mochachino Land

My youngest sister has an obsession with things being their proper place. Not in an organizational sense, but in a grand scheme of things, people, places, corporations should be aware of their place, personality, and purpose & be as true to them as possible.

The last time I visited my family we drove from our parents house in the middle of no-where into the nearest city. We passed a construction site on our way. A new CVS was being built & the tiny town pharmacy has closed, my sister explained with a frown. CVS, according to my sister, does not belong in a small town. People do not move away from everything to have a CVS on hand. They move so that they can buy their milk fresh off a farm and drive twenty minutes into town to make any major purchases.

I found this opinion amusing since my little sister loves the city. She nearly had a breakdown when our parents bought their large, wood bordered house. "There's nothing there!" she wailed, "People should be able to walk to buy groceries, they should be able to walk to the library! They probably don't even have a library!"

The library was our destination that day. There was one in the tiny town, it is one room of books and not worth the mention I'm giving it. So we cruised into the city, my sister maintaining the speed limit in the passing lane while hurried motorists passed us on the right, as we approached the historical district.

The houses, once the pride of America's 1940s bourgeois, are massive and decayed. They are owned primarily by large families with enough money to buy the house, but not to restore it, or landlords who divide the houses up into apartments and charge $450 a month for the agony of living there.

"And this," my sister said with disgust, motioning towards the ruined mansions and bemoaning the dirty slum our city, once a promising place, has given itself over to be. For my sister, and anyone who lives there, really, the fact that our hometown has neglected its commercial interests is a disgrace. Corporations, high-rises, and malls belong there. It should be the place growing, not the sleepy little town nearby, which would ideally continue its drowsy existence into eternity.

A few years ago I was flying to Paris and on the plane I read a travel magazine about shopping in foreign countries. They shared my sisters distress. What was the point in traveling if the shopping was the same in every country? Why would you leave America just to buy the same things at the same stores as you would have bought here?

I have to agree. I love the city as much as my sister. I love walking to my favorite stores. I love big corporations with slick advertising and well choreographed business plans. But it would be shame if that's all there was.

One of the massive houses that has been chopped up into apartments.Photo taken by Barb Hale. Used without permission.

Friday, August 24, 2007

After a rather disappointing evening of things that should have happened very distinctly not happening, Robin and I are back at her apartment watching "Annie". Its a good movie for when you're feeling kinda bummed.

Work was long today. One of my co-worker's father died last night and we found out exactly how much her presence is important to our work. So, long day. But it stormed right before I had to leave and driving home in the rain makes me happy.

Robin and I are also dying our hair tonight. Highlights for Robin, auburn for me.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Other Side...

A new book has come out with correspondence from Mother Teresa to various church peoples.

Through the notes a long period of doubt in God, lasting half a century, is followed.

Its quite depressing stuff, actually.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Stream of Consciousness

I’m trying to decide what I should do tonight. I should be packing, but I have to tell you that sounds pretty lame right now. On the other hand, the end of August is rapidly approaching. On the other hand, I work better under pressure.

Now, another possibility is calling someone up and asking them to hang out. This hinges on said person’s availabilty, but I think I have at least one friend that would be available to do nothing with me.

The final possibilty is to commandeer Robin’s living room (mine being absent furnishings) and polish off my, er, Robin’s chic-lit novel while watching television and drawing. And eating. Eating is probably an important part of any of these scenarios.

Oh, and I have to go to the grocery, because I didn’t go yesterday and I need to replace the food I ate out of Robin’s freezer (don’t worry Robin, just the Dijorno’s pizza, I’m doing you a favor, that thing was freezer-burnt to hell). Plus, I don’t have any food of my own (hence my theft of the pizza).

Quite frankly scenario three is probably going to win as I am feeling both lazy and anti-social.
I think the youth leader seminar/retreat is happening this weekend. I’m excited to have our college leaders back, they’re a lot of fun. I was really impressed with them last year...smarter than the average college freshman...more mature too.

Speaking of college, my youngest sister is back in school this year. I feel bad for Holly, but at least she has that killer job at Chase. My sister is the poster child for a good work ethic.

Bethy’s still trying to figure out how to make her dreams of having a school yearbook come true, now that she’s hurdled the obstical of actually being at school. I want to have her and a few friends over for a weekend or they can get away from campus, only one or two of them have family close by. And then Bethy can bake her own chocolate chip cookies!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Coffee Crisis

I read a story this morning about how a girl overdosed on caffeine . She'd had 14 double shots of espresso within four hours. Initially I was concerned, because most of my energy is caffeinated, but I usually go for two double shots on my way to work. Sometimes that makes me jittery, I'd never make it to 14.

But don't think I'm giving up on my Starbucks. Near the end of the article it states that coffee can protect against Parkinson's and simply going daft. tastes good.
In other odd news, we did a story on a new school principal. His name is Richard Cory. When I laughed about it at work my boss looked confused, so for the equally uncultured here is the poem you should have read in Lit. class :

Richard Cory
by Edwin Arlington Robinson
Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked,
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich--yes, richer than a king--
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.
You may also have heard the Simon & Garfunkel rendition. It's very catchy, but I don't really understand why they go on singing about how they wish they were Richard Cory after they've sung the bit about how Richard Cory killed himself. Oh well, A Poem On The Underground Wall doesn't make sense to me either.
One last bit of oddness, I was driving home last night and saw an Amish buggy, that had been fitted with captain chairs/bucket seats. Buy a car!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

On the rocks

In the movies, bars are always comfortably trendy. People sip their drinks at romantic bistro tables or while lounging in deep leather arm chairs. The lighting is soft and the music is never so loud as to inhibit thoughtful, but witty, conversations. Basically, they’re coffee houses, but with stemware.

Given the above, one never wonders why people would choose to hang out at a bar rather than the comfort of...anywhere else. Given an actual bar one has to wonder how anyone takes this imaginary bar seriously.

It isn’t as if I hang out at bars often, but when I do they are always deafeningly loud, crowded with groady people, and covered in dirt and spilled drinks. It’s like being charged five bucks to shop at Aldi, but without the possibility of buying food.

Saturday I went out with the girls. "Come on Melody, we’ll pay your cover and if it’s awful we’ll all just have some drinks and talk."

Now that it is over I am struck by the fact that 1) I’ve never known my friends to find a bar so awful they couldn’t dance and 2) we couldn’t have talked if they’d wanted to.

It was a Mexican bar, so I got asked to dance a lot. As far back as I can remember my friends have made fun of me because I don’t/can’t dance. I’d blame it on growing up in a conservative Christian home, but both my sisters dance well, though I’m pretty sure my brother couldn’t if his life depended on it. Its our one bond outside the realm of sci-fi.

The problem here is not so much that I was asked to dance, but that Mexican men seem to pay no attention at all to body language or facial expressions. Any other guy I can turn down with one look. Not that night.

Most of then men just held out their hand or stood real close. If I knew Spanish they might have been asking me to dance, but I don’t so I'll never know. Shaking my head and saying no was almost completely ineffectual. Nobody comes to a bar to not dance, so obviously I must be trying to say something else.

The only guy who asked me why I wouldn't dance with him looked completely horrified when I told him I don’t like it. If I’d told him I’d murdered his mother it probably would have been less of a shock to his system. When I finally convinced him that I really didn’t mean to dance he walked away and gave a sad glance back, the kind that might be bestowed upon an terminal cancer patient.

As soon as it was remotely close to time to leave I hurried my friends out of the establishment only for us to sit at the train tracks for the duration of half an hour and five different trains. But it could have worse, we could have been dancing.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

A Wedding Story

I drove home Thursday night. The three of us girls showed remarkable restraint in only talking till 1:30.

The next day we drove up to the wedding. We had to stop and have lunch on the way. We tried to eat at subway, but it was closed down. Steak 'n Shake had a note on the door apologizing for being closed. Taco Bell did have people going through the drive through, but with only twenty minutes till noon the doors were locked. McDonald's was naught but a pile of rubbish with a dark hood over the golden arches, probably signifying the death of the food industry in that town.

We did eventually find a town in which restaurants abounded.

The wedding itself was small but lovely. It turns out that the reason it was on Friday is because the maid of honor is a Messianic Jew and can't travel on Saturday.

My friend was completely beautiful. She walked up the isle with a smile that was practically a grimace, but she told us later that it was because she was trying not to cry...since her mascara would then run and that wouldn't be such a nice affect for the pictures.
She sounded completely different than I remembered her. All sweet and seraphic. But after the ceremony she was pretty much just as she's always been.

She was really glad to see me so I'm really glad I came. We didn't have any time to talk, but she gave me a huge hug and introduced me to Brock. I've been rather curious what Brock was like, Debbie and I haven't seen each other since I graduated high school and back then she tended to go for...well more edgy guys I suppose.

I spent most of the reception and the dinner afterwards talking pictures of everything. My siblings, the food, Debbie and Brock (thank-goodness for 10x zoom), which caused Holly to hum "Tune for the Paparazzi".

Instead of a big wedding cake they had a bajillion tiny wedding cakes. They were quite cute.

My youngest sister, Bethany, she hated all the pictures I took of her...except for this one.

Holly, in one the few moments she was not glaring at me for taking her picture.

My little brother who, after years of us girls complaining about the way he smiles in pictures, refuses to smile for the camera at all. When we particularly want him to smile normally for a picture we poke him in the ribs.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Avril's Atonement (or not)

I listened to Avril's latest cd in the car this morning and laughed the entire way to work.
I don't exactly know why, her songs are either bitter or sappy, but they all made me laugh. Part of the reason could be that I am completely wired, but I don't think I'd be able to make it through today if I wasn't. The other part of the reason is probably that Avril reminds me of my little sister with the long blonde hair, tons of eyeliner, and the "Yes I am the best thing in the world" attitude.

It took a while to happen, but I am now excited to go to my friend's wedding...or maybe just to get my nice pillow back from my parents, who knows...but that means that my productivity is going to be pretty much nil.
Fortunately, I have a fun, full color project that is interesting enough to hold my attention for at least ten minutes at a time. If I had to work on more black and white ads today I would probably spend the entire time shopping.
I just discovered, which has a lot of cute stuff. Expensive stuff, but cute. If I ever actually start producing t-shirts or stationary...that could defiantely be something to look into. The site is free, they charge 20 cents to per product posted and something like 3.15% of whatever you make. When you consider the value of being hooked up to a highly favored shopping site (where people pay exorbitant amounts for everything) that's not bad. at all.

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