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Saturday night, I took the girls to Jazz night at Steak ‘n Ale, and to have dinner. We had some interesting conversation about the child-rearing practices of their aunts and uncles. They had spent the afternoon at a cousin’s birthday party and were shocked at the behavior of some of the cousins. I went to bed at 9:00 pm and read for a while. I’m reading HP4 in April as part of my “Re-read Harry Potter 1 through 6 before HP7 comes out in July” goal. At about 9:00 am I woke totally refreshed, a very unusual situation for me.
I plan to submit my writing to the WritersDigest 76th competition. The deadline is May 15th, but I’m going to submit on Sunday, the last day of my vacation. My goal in this competition isn’t to win; it’s just getting the nerve to submit my work. I watched Agatha Christie’s “Death on the Nile”, a Hercule Piorot movie, and finished reading HP4. At 2:00 pm, I start to get ready for the evening. My little black purse has gone missing. I stopped by JCPenney to buy a new one, and then off to my mom’s house to prepare her Avon.
At 6:00 pm my date arrived. He lives close to my mom and the banquet was close to my mom, so it didn’t make sense for him to drive to my house twice in one night. Surprisingly the music was good! We danced quite a bit. I think I managed to work off that sliver of chocolate cake I allowed myself. Monday evening I went for a long walk with a friend. Tuesday, I over-scheduled myself. There was my mom’s Avon order to submit, lunch with my best friend, and dinner/grocery shopping with my daughters. I slept well that night!
My youngest received an award at her 8th grade ceremony. She is editor-in-chief of the yearbook, and has worked very hard! After getting up early to attend that, I decadently took a nap. Thursday I received a very motivational email from a co-writer on 100words. It really raised my spirits. Today is my birthday, the main reason I took this week off. I am taking my daughters to dinner later, but other than that it should be a quiet day. I’m reading “Someplace to be Flying” by Charles de Lint, and watching Battlestar Galactica season one. Happy Birthday to me!
What a birthday! It started off wonderfully with a late morning sleep, followed by a totally relaxing day. Then I took my girls to dinner at a northern Italian place. Yum! My daughter’s got me an Ipod for my birthday. Now I have to download the software and start putting my music on it. The downside of the day is my dog Jazzie. He is slowly losing the use of his back legs. When I got home he was stuck under a chair and had made a mess. I had to clean the floor and bathe him at that hour.
Today I beat level four of Civilization IV! I’ve been working on that for weeks. I’ve a new friend who spent the entire day cooking, including a cake, to have my best friend and her husband over for dinner! We’re going to spend the afternoon listening to Jazz, and then have dinner at his place. No one’s ever gone this far out of their way for my birthday! I would say 2007 is definitely my best birthday year. My new IPod is still charging, but I did manage to download the software. It only took five and a half hours!
Sunday was a wonderful day! J invited Z and P to listen to jazz with us at Riverwalk, and the doggies came along. The music was great; it was sunny with a cool breeze. The plants were flowering; the butterflies flying and the water sparkling. Then we went back to his place and played darts. It’s the first time I’ve done that! J cooked dinner; shrimp skewers on the grill, wild rice and a healthy salad. It was very relaxing and enjoyable. I have to find something nice to do to thank him! I’m teaching his birds to say “Maria”.
On December 29th I went back on my diet in an attempt to lose those holiday pounds (and a few others I managed to acquire over the last few hurricanes). My diet of choice is WeightWatchers. In the past I've tried Atkins, which works great in the short-term (as long as you follow all the rules of the diet, not just the food rules), but in the long run you aren't changing your eating habits in a positive manner, so the weight comes right back on. Changing your eating habits is the key to successful weight loss, in my opinion!
With WeightWatchers, you’ll be on a food budget; with a certain number of “points” for the day plus there’s a bank of points that you can take from for the week. So, for example, I get 22 points a day, and there are 35 points for my use during the week (additional to the 22 a day). If I use them all, I will not lose. The number of points you get a day is determined by your current weight. The points drop as you lose weight. The idea being that your stomach slowly shrinks and you are less hungry.
The type of food is not limited in any way other than quantity. There are Community meetings, at-work meetings (if you want to organize one), and there’s the web-page which is what I am using now. I have been an at-work member in the past. It does work. After each of my kids I followed the diet and lost the weight. In the last few years I slowly gained a pound here and a pound there mostly during the six hurricanes that came through. It’s difficult to pick wisely when all you have are canned foods and peanut butter sandwiches.
You can eat a healthy diet and not be hungry as long as you don’t mind salads and veggies. There are many “free” veggies; vegetables that count as zero points. So you can have a salad with a low calorie dressing (watch out for “trans fat”!), which is about two points (unlimited lettuce, tomato, cucumber, mushroom, sprouts for example; but not unlimited dressing). Then have two or three veggies with a four ounce piece (four points for chicken or pork, two points for fish) of meat and a half cup of pasta (two points) with non-meat tomato sauce (also free).
They have four to six point Weight Watchers meals that are good when there’s a time crunch. Chocoholics can save a point for 2 chocolate kisses everyday! I like the webpage because I get to log everything online and they have a great database to search for point values, as well as, a large forum for communicating with other folks that are on the plan. But I would suggest, for the first 12 weeks at least, join a group so you get all the materials and hear the lectures once through. After that the webpage is enough, in my opinion.
There is at least one positive thing about being on-call... it prepares you for taking care of infants! Seriously changing diapers, feeding and comforting infants in your sleep are a snap after getting up to fix computer problems. Plus babies are much more fun to cuddle than a keyboard! They handed me a beeper at the ripe 'ole age of 20 when I could still stay up all night without feeling it. So I developed survival skills. For example, I learned to write all documentation so that I could follow it almost with my eyes closed and in the dark!
I also set-up tons of little scripts that monitor everything I could think of so that I would be notified by my servers when they were close to failing, instead of by a human after they failed. That improved my on-call experience a great deal. And I can fall asleep (and have done so) in the middle of an outage, and wake up again to continue when necessary. I was on a one year contract job in Albuquerque NM back "in the day". The computers were UNIVAC 1108s and the applications were from Bell Labs for premise and facilities data.
Bell customer service used the systems to create service tickets. They’d done a study concluding that they lost $100,000.00 for every hour the servers were down. Now I would find that incredibly stressful. At 23, it didn't faze me. I did my best to resolve the problem as soon as possible and that was it. One morning at the turn-over meeting, the third-shift operators reported a disk crash during the night; the recovery procedure had been followed and all was well. I was very impressed with the guy because he'd followed the documentation all by himself for the first time.
I congratulated him for following the procedure on his own; he informed that I'd been on the phone the entire time! There was a fresh hole in my sock when I woke up. I didn't realize that I stood in the kitchen and helped them for over an hour while my puppy chewed a hole in the sock I was wearing. Then I pushed the experience into the category of a dream. On-call problems are like video games to me, and I get paid for playing! If I didn't enjoy fixing those problems so much, I'd be really frustrated too!
I enjoyed “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen a great deal more than “Sense and Sensibility”. Elizabeth’s sense of humor made her a more interesting heroine. She and her father seemed to enjoy a love for the absurd, although her mother’s behavior did embarrass her. There are many parallels among the characters in the story: Elizabeth/Elinor, Lydia/Marianne, Jane/Mrs. Dashwood, and Wickham/Willoughby. It bothers me that all the women think about is finding a husband; that an “accomplished” woman “sang and played all day”, but I have to assume that was the world Jane herself was exposed to at the time.
You know that a family that size and all those dinner parties, there had to be some people working very hard in that household, but they are barely ever mentioned and then only in brief passing and only in their concern for the family. Fifty years after these novels were published we see books such as “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott depicting an American family. In this book the characters are much less one sided. Although some of the girls were still thinking primarily of finding husbands, they had to pitch in and help make the world around them.
Another fifty years later, “Anne of Green Gables” by L. M. Montgomery describes a young Canadian woman from a very different set of circumstances who puts the romantic side of life into perspective. She puts her education and responsibilities before romance. Both Jo and Anne are characters that I would encourage young girls to meet early in their lives. The Austen women in the books I’ve read so far, although they may be a study of women from a certain subsection of society in England at the time the novels are written, are not ones I’d place before my daughters.
A couple of years ago during a night in June, I sat in Barnes and Noble waiting for midnight. No it wasn't New Year's Eve; it was the release of Harry Potter 6. A friend of mine accompanied me out of curiosity, expecting to be entertained by the people in costume, and he was not disappointed. Coincidentally I had been on vacation those two weeks prior to the release of the book. I'd spent a great deal of that time on Barnes and Noble University's Harry Potter book club discussing the prior five books with people all over the world.
The discussion was lively and in some instances, confrontational! People had very strong feelings about Harry Potter. Who would have thought adults would get so heated up over a discussion of Harry and his escapades. The response to that book club was so monumental that the first book club session had to be extended to five! Two were added immediately and the other two were added when the book was released. Later on the book club was extended for three more months before it was retired completely. (It is back on now, of course, at Barnes and Noble Book Clubs.)
Back at B&N, we sat sipping our lattes in the café. We noticed an odd man approaching. He wore pajama bottoms, a white ribbed wife-beater and he had a cape around his shoulders with a bandana tied around his head. The guy looked scruffy and a bit scary. As we looked for the best escape route, the creature said our names. In astonishment we found that he was a co-worker in costume. He'd brought his family for the big event and decided to go all out a la World Quidditch Cup in .“…Goblet of Fire”. He'd done an excellent job!
Holding my ticket I waited patiently. The fact that I'd already paid for overnight delivery from Amazon didn't matter in the least! The fact that my daughters were at that very moment waiting by their grandmother's house in Punta Gorda for their copies, made no difference. Later that morning I fell asleep having read about half the book, and I finished the rest by the end of the day. After sleeping some more, I went back on the Barnes and Nobles online University HP book club and chatting with other folks all over the U.S. that had read the book.
Solipsism… This wonderful word struck my fancy and, as usually happens, I went off on a writing spree. According to Wikipedia, "Solipsism is the philosophical idea that "I am the only mind that exists" ... The external world and other minds cannot be known and may not exist." From observing children, I found that toddlers seem to believe the world around them sprang into existence with them, but as they grow older and approach the age of about three, their minds open to the fact that there is more out there. That is usually when fear enters a child’s life.
I have met people that kept that "innocence"; that live without thinking of others and without fear. They’re outraged when something happens that isn’t of their doing because in their "world-view" they make things happen. They appear incapable of looking ahead at possible outcomes because "the world" is limited to what exists inside their minds.
Is it better or worse to be a solipsist?
in a world of their making.
No worries have they
to plans gone astray.
But let the outside intrude
as it inevitably would
and the solipsist
on the blame, abnegating.
Jung’s collective unconscious is a variation on this’ all the minds that agree on a particular “world-view” are creating it. In a way, they/we are, if you consider the “spread of culture” through the exchange of art, writings, music, philosophy, etc. There is also the “create your day” idea of “What the Bleep Do We Know?” and "The Secret”. So are we all walking around within a bubble of personal reality? When two bubbles intersect, they either meld or they don’t? Does our acceptance or rejection of another person have something to do with this on a quantum physics level?
When we observe a particle, do we really change its behavior? This is a very interesting subject for me. I have often wondered what makes people act the way they do. I am sure we have all heard someone say “How could they do that? They must be living in their own world!” I wonder if maybe they are living in their own world and, if so, how does one get there? And is it unethical to just pop-on on them? Solipsism takes “I think, therefore I am” to the next level: “I think, therefore you are!” Are you real?
How many people outside political circles or the computer world have heard of the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005? In my mind I see a roomful of very bored people deciding to have some fun by changing something that is already totally unnecessary; thereby costing companies and municipalities all over the U. S. a great deal of money (tax payer's money in the case of government agencies.) Anything with a “real” clock, and automatic time zone change for Daylight Saving Time, will need some type of modification. All of which means that customers will have various disruptions of service.
While we, the support folks, work evenings and weekends to upgrade firmware, Operating systems and Java (Why does every package have embedded Java? Some of my servers have 20+ instances of Java installed! Ok, that's another subject.). Some "middle-ware" software also has a built-in time mechanism so each separate piece of software on every server has to be researched, patches downloaded, tested and then outages scheduled with customers before we take our personal time to do the actual work. I’m sure companies that pay overtime feel it, but for those of us that are not hourly they have no consideration.
DST changes affect YOUR personal computer! For Windows, the Windows Update has, or will have at some point before March 11th at 2:00am, the necessary patches. For non-windows software, check each vendor for their particular approach to dealing with this man-made “non-emergency” emergency. I do not know what Apple is doing for this. Apparently, the issue is not the one hour difference in time, but the change of time zone from, for example, EST to EDT. Client/Server software doesn't like situations where incorrect time zones are used. So we are looking at... no backups! No job scheduler! No client/server connections.
Years ago, the mainframe had been mistakenly left at GMT with the local time. My servers were set to the correct time. During an implementation, we were having one of those "bang-your-head-against-the-wall" moments when nothing made sense. Turned out that because the mainframe was "logically" in the GMT, the software was off by 5 hours from the client time! The maximum allowable time difference was 5 minutes! If you take all the money that’s being wasted on this effort, we could probably go a long way towards shoring up all the levies around the US that are ready to go!
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