Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bookfield, Debriefing

Guys from Parchment who were heading back to Nashville for the Sunday debriefing picked me up at the Sanders’. They had been further South in Georgia that summer. The ride was uneventful. Everyone was nervous about checking out. How much money would we get? We pulled up to Parchment Headquarters in the early afternoon. We piled out of the car with our sales cases and luggage and headed into the building. I went through the formalities of turning in my case, remitting final cash from deliveries and filing out forms at tables set up for the occasion. Then I was told to wait.

I hung around sitting on the floor with my forest green duffel bag and sometime later someone called my name. I went to the table. I had earned a profit of $3,000 that summer, about average for a first summer. My take home was $1,500, so I had spent about half during the summer and it was minus Chip’s cut. I was ready to go home now. Finally and at last, the summer was over. I had learned a lot about people and was hugely relieved that it was over. I had found oodles of confidence, enough to even survive summer at home. The ‘there’ part of it was over and it was time for the ‘back again’ part of the journey.

Robbie’s secretary came out and found me. “It’s time for your debriefing honey. Come with me.”

I didn’t realize that I would have to face Robbie again. I was despondent over this, but followed her with my duffle bag into Robbie’s office.

“Hi Sue. Good to see you back. Sit down.” I did. He continued, “Okay you made through the summer all in all pretty well. I see here that you had an average summer for a first year. Good job. There were some bumps, but that is to be expected.” He finished his mostly financial review in detail.

“Thanks Robbie. Can I go now?”

“Wait a sec Sue. What I would like to know is if you will come back next year as a sales manager.”

What a shock! It was as if a lightning bolt struck me. After the horrible struggle I had to make through this summer, it was inconceivable to come back. Thoughts of how unfair the bookfield tactics had been raced through my mind: the sexism, the brainwashing, the focus of my entire life on sales, the humiliation of sales meetings and that phone call from him. There was absolutely no way I would ever even consider coming back.

“No.” I answered calmly. Then I burst into tears. It was uncontrollable loud shaking sobs, tears racing down my face and dripping onto my jeans kind of crying. I could not stop. How could he think I would ever come back? “Never Robbie.” I managed between sobs.

He was stunned at how upset I was by his question. He added that when first timers had an average year, they were all asked to come back as managers, and besides, then I would make a percentage of my sales force’s profits. He raced over to calm me, but I did not want him to touch me at all. He then left to get his secretary. They came back together and I did not welcome either of them. They fussed, offering me water and such. I fended them off. He kept trying to guess what was wrong. He was so far off I knew that there was too wide a gulf between us to ever be bridged. It started on the first day at the sales training; when they leered at me in the hallway and compared me with my twin like we were slabs of meat, when they humiliated people at the training, the sloganeering, Chip and Gregg vying to score with me. It only got worse from then on. And so the gulf grew, unchecked. I had literally done only what was needed to reach my goal of staying on the whole summer. I achieved my goal, and only now was beginning to pay the full price.

“May I go now?” I asked again, the thought of going calming me somewhat.

“Yes Sue. If that helps, you may go.”

I got out of there as fast as I could with my duffle bag. ‘Free at last, free at last, thank almighty God, I’m free at last’ was my thought as I left.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Dogfight Part Deux

Me and the girls. Who'd a thought that tiny baby puppy would turn out to be so much trouble?

After the last dogfight, I began using the collars again and the dogs behaved. However, Sean did not. Well, recently he got his comeuppance.

On Monday, during my daily 2 hour nap, he was out near the garage with the woman from the Land Trust who is organizing the Bluebird Box Project transferring predator guards to her car. (We store bluebird box materials in our garage.) He was showing off how well Jenny fetches a stick and can catch them in midair. Then, Laila got the stick and began to taunt Jenny with it. Sean tried to get another stick for Jenny but it was too late. The dogs began to fight.

Sean commanded them to stop. No response. No control collars were in place to stop the fight, so fed up; Sean just pounced on top of the dogs. Sean weighs 200 pounds (90.9 kilograms: Laila is 74 lbs or 33.6 kgs, and Jenny is 67 lbs or 30.4 kgs). There was no effect on the fight. He tried to separate the dogs with no effect. Jenny had a solid purchase on Laila’s shoulder, so Sean put his hand in Jenny’s mouth, which he later told me he knew was a big mistake, and as you might imagine he was bitten by Jenny. Then, the dogs separated. Sean got up and the dogs began the fight again. Sean jumped onto them again and managed to separate them by pulling on their collars. He then lay on top of Laila and she stayed in place, accepting his protection, while Jenny circled angrily, breathing hard and juiced up on adrenaline. After some time, Jenny calmed down. Sean brought Jenny into the house. The Land Trust lady was freaking out (she is a cat person and has two Persian cats). Sean looked at his bitten middle finger and he had a couple of puncture wounds and two lacerations. We only had smallish band aids in the house and he used those to dress the wounds as he bled all over the place.

He went back outside and checked Laila for bleeding. Not finding any, he put her in the house and put Jenny in his car. He explained to the Land Trust lady that he needed to go to the Emergency Clinic for the bite. She understood, and wished him well. They both drove off.

Meanwhile, I arose from my nap. I found the bathroom full of bloody band aids and Laila had bled on the couch from a small shallow puncture wound on her shoulder. I just figured that a tick had dropped off of her and that Sean had cut his finger leaving a mess as usual. Men.

Sean arrived at the Emergency Clinic. He didn’t have to wait long before he was taken in. He saw a physician’s assistant and told him he was bitten by a dog. The PA told Sean that they would have to report the incident and could they have the name of the dog. Sean said that it was one of his dogs, but he wasn’t sure which one, but they both were up on their rabies shots. (Liar, liar, pants on fire! But, if he told them it was Jenny it would be two strikes against her since she has already done hard time for getting loose and scratching a little kid while playing.) They didn’t want to put stitches in because they like to keep small wounds open in case of infection. They cleaned the wounds, gave him a tetanus shot and discharged him with a prescription for a week of antibiotics. Sean went to the pharmacy to fill the prescription and while there also bought a sterile scrub for cleaning the wound, gauze, and tape. He ran into many people he knew there and told them the story of how he had done something really stupid and they told him how his wife was right and he should have listened to her.

Then, he came home to me and told me this whole charming tale. I could not believe the stupidity of putting one’s hand anywhere near a fighting dog’s mouth. But, he has learned the hard way. He is telling everyone that he was bit by a rare spotted shark while banding it off the coast of Borneo. It’s a tough and dangerous job, but someone has got to do it to save our environment for the children, or so he says. The Land Trust lady called later that evening to make sure he was okay.

So, guess who is using the control collars now?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Boat Shmoat, We're Going to Paris

As I have said, we did really well in 1996. So well, that in addition to our holiday in Grand Cayman, Sean and I decided to buy a used motor boat. We wanted something that he could dive off of and that we could do overnight trips on. So the boat we wanted would be about 30 feet at the water line. In the past we had been on sail boats, but they depended too heavily on the weather. Also, we wanted a fiberglass boat; wood was too much work. So, Sean began by searching on the web and we went to local places to look at boats for sale.

We saw many boats in our state and read about boats all over the country. On the boats we looked at either the aft portion was too small for diving or the interior was too cramped or the layout wasn’t right. There was always something that prevented Sean and I from saying, yes, this is the boat we want and we looked persistently for a couple of months.

One day in the fall, we were at the marina closest to our house standing looking at the moored boats and Sean pointed out to one of the boats and said, “That is the type of boat I want.”

We had no idea if it was even for sale. So we asked the marina owner and he said he would talk to the boat’s owner. It turned out that the boat’s owner was a truck driver whose wife had recently had major surgery and wasn’t getting around really well any more. They lived way upstate and had to drive over an hour to get to the boat. Since his wife’s medical problems they had not used the boat much at all that summer and he had not considered selling it. But, he agreed to come down and show it to us.

So, Frank, the truck driver, shows up to show us his boat, “Summer Camp”. We got out to her on a Zodiac and tied up at the floating dock she was moored to. Frank began to unsnap her navy blue canvas weather protective covering. What a beauty she was underneath it all. You could just tell by the way she was maintained that she was loved. She was a 1968 Pearson fiberglass motor boat with twin inboard 300 horse power v8 engines, 36 feet long at the water line and 12 feet wide, also known as the beam. She was far bigger than we were looking for, but it was love at first sight. Her interior decking was teak, the saloon was spacious and airy, she had a kitchen, head and a v-berth. She could sleep six. Frank made it clear that she would need work as time went by, but he and Sean had bonded over all things mechanical. Sean can fix just about anything, you see. Sean and I agreed that we had to have this boat. Frank’s asking price was extremely reasonable so we bought her that day and we were boat owners.

Summer Camp at her mooring

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sunday Comics - Oliver Frey's Midshipman

To see the entire drawing go to Pete of Finland's site here. Enjoy!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Friday Fantasy - The Groom

"M'Lady, would you like for me to saddle up your new chestnut Arabian mare, Coco, or your grey, Naihla for your ride today?"

"Ummmm. The chestnut, yes. No, grey. Oh, to heck with it! Get your sexy, sweaty body over here and let me lick it dry!"

"Anything my Lady asks..." He tosses the saddle aside and unzips his fly as he obediently walks over to me.

You, my readers, may imagine the rest...

Groom photo credit: Proceed at Your Own Risk

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bookfield, Delivery Week - Part 4

The next time I was at Evan’s place, I went up into the bedroom alone and searched the closets. The one on the right just had clothes hanging in it and I felt kind of silly going through Evan’s things. However, what I saw on the floor of the one on the left really stunned me. He had plastic trash bags with bales of marijuana in them.

He was a fucking supplier, just as Jeff had asserted. I felt let down. Now, the relationship could go nowhere. I was thinking of transferring credits to agricultural school at Georgia University to stay with Evan. I could not stay with a drug dealer. I decided that I would keep my cool, and keep the relationship just as it was, leave and never come back. I would never let Evan know what I had found. I had always kind of wondered how he paid for everything, the house, the furniture, the new truck and bike as an unemployed part time student. Family money can only go so far.

I felt betrayed. How could he be so loving and yet keep this big a secret from me? It just didn’t compute. He must have known that I would dump him in no time flat if I knew. And yet, I was not angry with him; just vastly disappointed with a life that was not to be.

Toward my last day of delivery, Evan came to say goodbye and met me outside the Sanders’ house. We talked on the driveway. He said, “I have a birthday gift for you.” I had turned twenty that week, as he held out a small box, like one you would put jewelry in.

I was a bit worried that it might be something like an engagement ring, but the box would have been velvet. I guess the thought showed on my face, as I took the box and opened it. It was a thin gold bracelet with round tiger eye gems every inch or so. “Oh Evan, I can’t accept this. It’s too expensive.”

“Yes you can, it cost nothing compared to how I feel about you. I love you.” He looked very concerned that I did not look happy and said, “Please just tell me it was not just sex. Our relationship, I mean.”

I replied truthfully, “No Evan, it was never just sex.” I had honestly begun to care for him, until I found out he sold pot, so I smiled earnestly to reflect my caring, put the bracelet on and that seemed to make him happy. We hugged again. To myself I thought that it was a shame that he did not trust me enough to tell me that he was a drug dealer and that I would never see him again.

“I was hoping that you could come down and visit me again sometime or transfer here to take Biology.” He never knew how close our thoughts were. “I know Brandy will miss you.” He smiled. He moved forward once more and hugged me tight. I closed my eyes and tears formed because we had had some really good times and I knew this really was goodbye forever.

I bid my roomies farewell too. I had decided not to keep in touch with them either as we just never really clicked. Their semesters began later than mine, so their delivery weeks would last later than mine did. I heard that Mary did have trouble delivering to her houses. That was predictable.

The Sanders wished me luck. They were sweet people and I will never forget them.

The rapist stabber was never apprehended. The total body count was 7 by the time I left Athens.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Spirit Journey & Manatees - Part 10, Finale

On the morning of our last day, we packed all of our stuff and piled it into the trunk of Phil’s caddy. We checked out of the Hungry Pelican, said good bye to the owner, and had our café Cubanos and drove north, leaving the keys.

This time the Cuban coffee kept me alert enough that we found the turn to head for Homestead for lunch. Homestead was lots of flat farmland separated by lines of shrubs or trees and not much of anything else. Apparently it was the country’s citrus belt.

We found the center of town which seemed to be modest one storey buildings.

It was only 10:30 am and we found a diner that was open and we went in. Sean ordered French toast, his favorite, and I ordered scrambled eggs with ham. We got to talking with our waitress and she reminisced about hurricane Andrew and how bad it was as Homestead had taken a direct hit.

Other locals chimed in too. They all recounted how there was a Publix that had to be torn down just right over there.

And how subdivisions were totally flooded.

This experience became part of our vacation too. Sharing the losses with these people was outside of our normal day. We departed about 2 hours later and headed across the Tamiami Trail for Estero Beach and Phil’s Condo. We didn’t get to see any gators on the way back either. Traffic was terrible heading up from Naples, but eventually we made it.

Wouldn’t you know it, Phil was sick as a dog with my sinusitis! We thanked him profusely for the use of his Cadillac. We all decided to have dinner at the Tampa Airport, since we had a late night flight back home. Phil took the wheel, and off we went to the airport. Maybe it was because Phil was ill, or they weren’t taking advantage of the experienced navigator in the back seat, but we got lost on the way there! Twice! Finally we got to the airport and only had time to grab something quick before our flight. But, you know, that’s all you really want sometimes at an airport. Sigh.

We both gave Phil a big hug, at least I did, and we boarded our flight. We took off, flew home, landed, and realized that it had snowed a couple of feet while we were gone. Shit! We caught our shuttle to the long term lot and couldn’t find the car under all of the snow. We couldn’t even tell what color the cars were. Nor were we appropriately dressed for the cold. At least a snowplow had been through. With my Blizzak tires on we could drive our way out of the snow pile in front of the car.

I had at least remembered the post I had parked near, and so we wiped bits of snow off of cars near there and finally found the GTI. Sean cleared off enough snow to get in and turn on the car to warm it up and put on the defrosters. Then he broke out the snow clearing equipment I keep in the car. The ice scraper, the snow brush, etc.. We both of us cleared the car as best we could, piled our bags into the hatchback, and then got in all shivering and wet through to our bones.

Sean gave me an, “are you ready?” kind of look, put my GTI in gear, and she sprang lightly from her snowy prison and took us safely home. Once we were warm in our very own bed together we fell into a deep and peaceful sleep as we were so tired from our wonderful vacation in Key Largo.


Sunday, November 19, 2006


Welcome to the Land of the Free and the Home of the Bush. Typically I don’t like to frighten my readers, but Sean and I received an AMERICAN COMMUNITY SURVEY (ACS) in the mail a few weeks ago and filed it with all of the other tremendously important items we get (circular file). Then we got another one. Followed by a phone call from a census taker saying that by law we had to complete the survey or a census taker would be sent to our house.

As are all Americans, we are accustomed to a visit once every ten years by a friendly neighborhood census taker, who blithely asks how many persons are living at our address and other such harmless questions. But, this survey is personally and financially intrusive. It would be as if Bush walked into your living room and asked you to bend over and show him the rash between your ass cheeks. We were still not sure it was not a hoax. So, we checked it out online. Sure enough, our nightmare is real. Here is the site and the form.

Sean asked me to complete the form since I like to do that sort of thing. I was appalled. First and second page asks for your name, address, date of birth, sex, then it asks for the relationship of the persons in the house. Simple for me; I am heterosexual and married. The other choices are husband or wife, son or daughter, brother or sister, father or mother, grandchild, in-law, other relative, roomer/boarder, housemate/roommate, unmarried partner, foster child, other nonrelative. Others of you may have issues with this question.

Page 3 is a bit more interesting. We finish with marital status and continue with race. In this admitted melting pot of ours, I’m glad don’t have to come up with this part of the survey. First it asks if are Spanish/Hispanic/Latino or not. If so, do you consider yourself Puerto Rican, Mexican, Mexican Am., Chicano, Cuban, or other Spanish/Hispanic/Latino print group? Or are you White, American Indian or Alaska Native – Print name of enrolled or principal tribe, Chinese, Native Hawaiian, Asian Indian, Samoan, Guamanian or Chamorro, Other Pacific Islander – Print race below, Japanese, Black or African American, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese, Other Asian –Print race.

Okay. So what if you are a mix of say African American and Filipino? What race do you put then? And whose fucking business is it anyhow?

The next three pages deal with housing and are as follows:

Do you live in a house, apartment, mobile home, van, RV, boat, etc.. What is the size of your home? When did you move there? When was it built? How many acres is your home on: less than 1, 1 to 9.9, more than 10? In the past 12 months, what were the actual sales of agricultural products from your property: None, $1 to $999, $1,000 to $2,499, $2,500 to $4,999, $5,000 to $9,999, $10,000 or more? Is there a business on your property? How many rooms, not counting bathrooms are in your house? How many bedrooms are in your house that you would list if it were for sale or rent? Is there telephone service available in this house, apartment, or mobile home from which you can both make and receive calls? Does this house, apartment, or mobile home have COMPLETE plumbing facilities; that is, 1) hot and cold piped water, 2) a flush toilet, and 3) a bathtub or shower? Does this house, apartment, or mobile home have COMPLETE kitchen facilities; that is, 1) a sink with piped water, 2) a stove or range, and 3) a refrigerator? How many automobiles, vans, and trucks of one-ton capacity or less are kept at home for use by members of this household?

I am including lots of detail so that you can get an idea of how much is being asked for on the new survey. So, why does George want to know about our plumbing? Is he planning a visit? Wants to make sure he can flush? Housing questions continue:

Which FUEL is used MOST for heating this house, apartment, or mobile home: 1) Gas: from underground pipes serving the neighborhood 2) Gas: bottled, tank, or LP 3) Electricity 4) Fuel oil, kerosene, etc. 5) Coal or coke 6) Wood 7) Solar energy 8) Other fuel 9) No fuel used? LAST MONTH, what was the cost of electricity for this house, apartment, or mobile home? Last month’s cost – Dollars OR Included in rent or condominium fee No charge or electricity not used. LAST MONTH, what was the cost of gas for this house, apartment, or mobile home? Last month’s cost – Dollars… got the gist of this yet? IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS, what was the cost of water and sewer for this house, apartment, or mobile home? If you have lived here less than 12 months, estimate the cost.

He wants to make sure the heat isn’t going to be shut off while he is there with his flashlight staring up your butt.

At any time DURING THE PAST 12 MONTHS, did anyone in this household receive Food Stamps? Past 12 months’ value – Dollars If Yes, what was the value of the Food Stamps received during the past 12 months? Is this house, apartment, or mobile home part of a condominium? Monthly amount – Dollars If yes, what is the monthly condominium fee? For renters, answer only if you pay the condominium fee in addition to your rent; otherwise, mark the "None" box. Is this house, apartment, or mobile home – owned by you or someone in this household with a mortgage or a loan Owned by you or someone in this household free and clear (without a mortgage or loan)? Rented for cash rent? Occupied without payment of cash rent? What is the monthly rent for this house, apartment or mobile home? Does the monthly rent include any meals?

Offended yet?

What is the value of this property; that is, how much do you think this house and lot, apartment, or mobile home and lot, would sell for if it were for sale? Less than $10,000; $10,000 to $14,999; $15,000 to $19,999; $20,000 to $24,999; $25,000 to $29,999; $30,000 to $34,999; $35,000 to $39,999; $40,000 to $49,999; $50,000 to $59,999; $60,000 to $69,999; $70,000 to $79,999; $80,000 to $89,999; $90,000 to $99,999; $100,000 to $124,999; $125,000 to $149,999; $150,000 to $174,999; $175,000 to $199,999; $200,000 to $249,999; $250,000 or more – Specify.

Notice how he is only interested in us poor folks. How about now? More on housing:

What are the annual real estate taxes on THIS property? What is the annual payment for fire, hazard, and flood insurance on THIS property? Do you or any member of this household have a mortgage, deed of trust, contract to purchase, or similar debt on THIS property? Yes, mortgage, deed of trust, or similar debt? Or contract to purchase? How much is the regular monthly mortgage payment on THIS property? Include payment only on FIRST mortgage or contract to purchase. OR No regular payment required. Does the regular monthly mortgage payment include payments for real estate taxes on THIS property? Yes, taxes included in mortgage payment No, taxes paid separately or taxes not required. Yes, insurance included in mortgage payment. Does the regular monthly mortgage payment include payments for fire, hazard, or flood insurance on THIS property? No, insurance paid separately or no insurance. Do you or any member of this household have a second mortgage or a home equity loan on THIS property? Yes, home equity loan. Yes, second mortgage. Yes, second mortgage and home equity loan. No. How much is the regular monthly payment on all second or junior mortgages and all home equity loans on THIS property? Monthly amount – Dollars OR No regular payment required. What are the total annual costs for personal property taxes, site rent, registration fees, and license fees on THIS mobile home and its site? Exclude real estate taxes.

Do you or any member of this household live or stay at this address year round? Yes or No? How many months a year do members of this household stay at this address? What is the main reason members of this household are staying at this address? This is their permanent address. This is their seasonal or vacation address. To be close to work. To attend school or college. Looking for permanent housing. Other reason(s)– Specify.

Well, that’s it for what the government wants to know about your housing (for now). Now, they want to know more about YOU. Now, now, don’t be shy. Actually it is against the law to be shy here. You must answer all the questions. So, if you are female, lay back and put your feet in the stirrups and scooch you butt down to the end of the table, and male, bend waaaay over and spread those legs 'cause away we go…

Please copy the name of Person 1 from the List of Residents on page 2, then continue answering questions below. Last Name, First Name. Where was this person born? In the United States – Print name of state. Outside the United States – Print name of foreign country, or Puerto Rico, Guam, etc. Born abroad of American parent or parents? No, not a citizen of the United States. U.S. citizen by naturalization? Is this person a CITIZEN of the United States? When did this person come to live in the United States? Year?

And now that we know whether or not you are a potential person of interest, we determine if you went to a terrorist camp…

At any time IN THE LAST 3 MONTHS, has this person attended regular school or college? Include only nursery or preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, and schooling which leads to a high school diploma or a college degree. No, has not attended in the last 3 months. Yes, public school, public college. Yes, private school, private college. What grade or level was this person attending? Nursery school, preschool, Kindergarten, Grade 1 to grade 4, Grade 5 to grade 8, Grade 9 to grade 12, College undergraduate years (freshman to senior), Graduate or professional school, (for example: medical, dental, or law school). What is the highest degree or level of school this person has COMPLETED? If currently enrolled, mark the previous grade or highest degree received. No schooling completed Nursery school to 4th grade, 5th grade or 6th grade7th grade or 8th grade, 9th grade, 10th grade, 11th grade, 12th grade – NO DIPLOMA, DIPLOMA or the equivalent (for example: GED), HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE – high school, Some college credit, but less than 1 year, 1 or more years of college, no degree, Associate degree (for example: AA, AS), Bachelor’s degree (for example: BA, AB, BS), Master’s degree (for example: MA, MS, MEng,MEd, MSW, MBA), Professional degree (for example: MD, DDS, DVM,LLB, JD), Doctorate degree (for example: PhD, EdD).

Okay, but now we need to discuss your ethnicity in greater detail because we didn’t cover that enough on page 3. Got that?

What is this person’s ancestry or ethnic origin? (For example: Italian, Jamaican, African Am., Cambodian, Cape Verdean, Norwegian, Dominican, French Canadian, Haitian, Korean, Lebanese, Polish, Nigerian, Mexican, Taiwanese, Ukrainian, and so on.)

So I am 25% French Canadian (why do they care?) and 25% English Canadian (so if they care about the French, why not about the English?) and 50% Austrian. But, who really gives a fuck and what the hell business is of theirs anyhow? Why don’t they just ask if I am a terrorist? The next question makes sense: Does this person speak a language other than English and if so what is it? Now at least they will know what kinds of translators they will need down at the agency to understand all of those phone calls of ours they are taping. They also want to know how well you speak English in case they have to bring you in for questioning later. See, all the bases are covered.

Next they want to know how long you have lived in the house or apartment and where you lived 1 year ago (please provide full address by the way including whether it was inside city limits or not). I ask, "Why?"

Just in case you didn’t think any of the questions were personal yet, here are some more to get you thinking.

Does this person have any of the following long-lasting conditions: a. Blindness, deafness, or a severe vision or hearing impairment? b. A condition that substantially limits one or more basic physical activities such as walking, climbing stairs, reaching, lifting, or carrying? Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition lasting 6 months or more, does this person have any difficulty in doing any of the following activities: a. Learning, remembering, or concentrating? b. Dressing, bathing, or getting around inside the home? Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition lasting 6 months or more, does this person have any difficulty in doing any of the following activities: a. Going outside the home alone to shop or visit a doctor’s office? b. Working at a job or business? [Bold added by FVS]

So what ever happened to a patient’s right to privacy and medical confidentiality? Was that all just lip service (and not the good kind)? As a disabled American this really has me pissed off! Offended yet? Ah, but there is more dear readers…

First we can upset new mothers: Has this person given birth to any children in the past 12 months?

Then we can upset Grandparents:

Does this person have any of his/her own grandchildren under the age of 18 living in this house or apartment? Is this grandparent currently responsible for most of the basic needs of any grandchild(ren) under the age of 18 who live(s) in this house or apartment? How long has this grandparent been responsible for the(se) grandchild(ren)? If the grandparent is financially responsible for more than one grandchild, answer the question for the grandchild for whom the grandparent has been responsible for the longest period of time. Less than 6 months, 6 to 11 months, 1 or 2 years, 3 or 4 years.

And next the military just because they have not already sacrificed enough…

Has this person ever served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, military Reserves, or National Guard? Active duty does not include training for the Reserves or National Guard, but DOES include activation, for example, for the Persian Gulf War. Yes, now on active duty. Yes, on active duty during the last 12 months, but not now. No, training for Reserves or National Guard only. No, never served in the military. Working at a job or business? Yes, on active duty in the past, but not during the last 12 months. When did this person serve on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces? Mark (X) a box for EACH period in which this person served, even if just for part of the period. September 2001 or later, August 1990 to August 2001 (including Persian Gulf War), September 1980 to July 1990, May 1975 to August 1980, Vietnam era (August 1964 to April 1975), March 1961 to July 1964, February 1955 to February 1961, Korean War (July 1950 to January 1955), January 1947 to June 1950, World War II (December 1941 to December 1946), November 1941 or earlier. In total, how many years of active-duty military service has this person had? Less than 2 years, 2 years or more.

Now, that we have all of that covered, let’s talk about your work ethic, you lazy bum. So, the prez wants to know if you got off your lazy ass and worked last week? But, he’s not going to settle for just knowing that he wants to know what time you got your lazy ass out of bed…

LAST WEEK, did this person do ANY work for either pay or profit? Mark the "Yes" box even if the person worked only 1 hour, or helped without pay in a family business or farm for 15 hours or more, or was on active duty in the Armed Forces. At what location did this person work LAST WEEK? If this person worked at more than one location, print where he or she worked most last week. a. Address (Number and street name) If the exact address is not known, give a description of the location such as the building name or the nearest street or intersection. b. Name of city, town, or post office c. Is the work location inside the limits of that city or town? Yes or No, outside the city/town limits d. Name of county e. Name of U.S. state or foreign country f. ZIP Code. How did this person usually get to work LAST WEEK? If this person usually used more than one method of transportation during the trip, mark the box of the one used for most of the distance. Car, truck, or van, Bus or trolley bus, Streetcar or trolley car, Subway or elevated Railroad, Ferryboat, Taxicab, Motorcycle, Bicycle, Walked, Worked at home. How many people, including this person, usually rode to work in the car, truck, or van LAST WEEK? What time did this person usually leave home to go to work LAST WEEK? (a.m. p.m. Hour Minute) How many minutes did it usually take this person to get from home to work LAST WEEK? Minutes. LAST WEEK, was this person on layoff from a job? LAST WEEK, was this person TEMPORARILY absent from a job or business? Yes, on vacation, temporary illness, labor dispute, etc. Has this person been informed that he or she will be recalled to work within the next 6 months OR been given a date to return to work?

Okay, so now that we’ve determined that you are a slacker and probably high all the time we continue to the next questions…

Has this person been looking for work during the last 4 weeks? LAST WEEK, could this person have started a job if offered one, or returned to work if recalled? Yes, could have gone to work, No, because of own temporary illness, No, because of all other reasons (in school, etc.). When did this person last work, even for a few days? Within the past 12 months, 1 to 5 years ago, Over 5 years ago or never worked. During the PAST 12 MONTHS, how many WEEKS did this person work? Count paid vacation, paid sick leave, and military service. During the PAST 12 MONTHS, in the WEEKS WORKED, how many hours did this person usually work each WEEK? Usual hours worked each WEEK.

So, let’s say that you are a hard working mother fucker and you sweat your ass off everyday paying Uncle Sam. Now, he wants to know just how you do that.

IF this person worked in the past 5 years... CURRENT OR MOST RECENT JOB ACTIVITY. Describe clearly this person’s chief job activity or business last week. If this person had more than one job, describe the one at which this person worked the most hours. If this person had no job or business last week, give information for his/her last job or business. Was this person – an employee of a PRIVATE FOR PROFIT company or business, or of an individual, for wages, salary, or commissions? an employee of a PRIVATE NOT FOR PROFIT, tax-exempt, or charitable organization? a local GOVERNMENT employee (city, county, etc.)? a state GOVERNMENT employee? a Federal GOVERNMENT employee? SELF-EMPLOYED in own NOT INCORPORATED business, professional practice, or farm? SELF-EMPLOYED in own INCORPORATED business, professional practice, or farm? working WITHOUT PAY in family business or farm? What kind of business or industry was this? Describe the activity at the location where employed. (For example: hospital, newspaper publishing, mail order house, auto engine manufacturing, bank) the business. For whom did this person work? If now on active duty in the Armed Forces, mark this box and print the branch of the Armed Forces. Name of company, business, or other employer. Is this mainly – manufacturing? wholesale trade? retail trade? other (agriculture, construction, service, government, etc.)? What kind of work was this person doing? (For example: registered nurse, personnel manager, supervisor of order department, secretary, accountant) What were this person’s most important activities or duties? (For example: patient care, directing hiring policies, supervising order clerks, typing and filing, reconciling financial records.)

Sean kept urging me to put stuff like managing terrorists on the form. I think not. Now we get to the nitty gritty. What are you worth? Income baby!!!

INCOME IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS. Mark the "Yes" box for each type of income this person received, and give your best estimate of the TOTAL AMOUNT during the PAST 12 MONTHS. (NOTE: The "past 12 months" is the period from today’s date one year ago up through today.) Mark the "No" box to show types of income NOT received. If net income was a loss, mark the "Loss" box to the right of the dollar amount. a. Wages, salary, commissions, bonuses, or tips from all jobs. Report amount before deductions for taxes, bonds, dues, or other items. For income received jointly, report the appropriate share for each person – or, if that’s not possible, report the whole amount for only one person and mark the "No" box for the other person. b. Self-employment income from own nonfarm businesses or farm businesses, including proprietorships and partnerships. Report NET income after business expenses. Loss c. Interest, dividends, net rental income, royalty income, or income from estates and trusts. Report even small amounts credited to an account. d. Social Security or Railroad Retirement. e. Supplemental Security Income (SSI). f. Any public assistance or welfare payments from the state or local welfare office. g. Retirement, survivor, or disability pensions. Do NOT include Social Security. h. Any other sources of income received regularly such as Veterans’ (VA) payments, unemployment compensation, child support or alimony. Do NOT include lump sum payments such as money from an inheritance or the sale of a home. What was this person’s total income during the PAST 12 MONTHS? Add entries in questions 41a to 41h; subtract any losses. If net income was a loss, enter the amount and mark (X) the "Loss" box next to the dollar amount. Continue with the questions for Person 2 on the next page.

So, you list all of those amounts and come up with a grand total and person 1 is complete. Yay! Now you only have to do all that for all the people in your house.

This all began in 2005 and the ACS is the future of the census and will be done ANUALLY by 2010. That’s right folks. All of us will have to do this every year. How the hell did this get passed and none of us knew about it? Where is the mainstream media? I guess the ACLU has some lawsuits going and some survivalist groups are up in arms. But WTF? It is not good when I side with the survivalists. I am typically not the paranoid type either.

Imagine the statistical power of all of this data. It boggles the mind. So much data, so little time. The ACS cost hundreds of millions to develop. What else could we have used those funds for? How did your representative vote on this? Some say that the questions are unconstitutional and fines of up to $100 are unenforceable and that we should contact our local newspaper, congressman and senator and hire a lawyer. Sounds like a plan. What do you think?

All this seriousity. I think you guys deserve a reward.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday Fantasy - The Happy Ending

Once upon a time, two princes met from far away lands. Both were devilishly handsome (of course) and the instant their eyes met, they fell for one another. It was kismet. They romped naked in the blond prince's realm and explored it and eachother.

But their time together was brief, and the brunette prince had to depart the blond prince's land for his own. After tearful goodbyes, he was gone.

After and what seemed an endless period of time, another meeting was planned in the brunette prince's realm. Many exciting events were planned by the one prince for the other. After the arduous journey, the blond prince arrived to a bouquet of red roses presented by his prince. It was true love! They swam naked together in the ocean, rode horses bareback and bathed in natural hot springs.

One more visit of the brunette prince to the blond prince's realm sealed the deal. Looking into each others eyes they both knew it had to be forever. The brunette prince swept the blond prince off his feet and took him to his realm where they lived happily for ever after.

Photo credit: Brenton

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bookfield, Delivery Week - Part 3

Suddenly, I felt an urgent desire to urinate. I turned to Evan and screamed over the music that I was going to the ladies room. He nodded and kept an eye on me as I headed for the back. I pushed my way through the crowd that seemed reluctant to move. I had to make body contact to force my way through. Finally I got to the ladies room, and I must have been lucky, because there was no line. I got right in and did my business, trying not to see how filthy the place was. I wiped myself with the tissue and noticed a blood stain on it. I was not having my period, so the blood was puzzling to me. Blood in my urine, I thought, why would that be? I began to feel alarmed because all I could think was that something that I didn’t understand was wrong with me. I pulled up my jeans and made my way quickly back to Evan. He looked very concerned as I told him quite frankly what the problem was. He took my hand and helped to lead me out of the bar.

When we were outside he said, “I think you might just have a bladder infection, but let me drive you to the hospital right now to get it taken care of. I’m sure it will be alright.”

I nodded thinking how secure it felt to have Evan there. He seemed to know what the problem was. I chose to believe him as we sped off to the emergency room.

It was around eleven o’clock by the time we go to the ER. I had never been to an ER before, but Evan was there and a great comfort. I don’t recall anyone else being in the waiting room, as it was late, and a week night. A nurse escorted me to a bathroom where I filled a cup with urine. There was no visible blood on the tissue this time, and, it’s just like me, I then worried that I had made a mistake and nothing was wrong.

Next the nurse took me to a separate examination room and asked me to wait. The room was completely white. White tiles on the walls, white linoleum flooring, and white ceiling. The cabinets were metal painted beige. I figured I was supposed to sit on the examining table, which was covered with a white paper sheet. There I sat. The room was cold and the fluorescent lights seemed extraordinarily bright glaring off of all the white surfaces. Time passed, and I had opportunity to worry anew. It wasn’t so much that I worried that I was deathly ill, but I worried about what painful procedure might be imposed on me.

After about a half an hour a male physician’s assistant came in. He was quite good looking.

“Hi, I’m Shawn. Could you please describe your symptoms?” he asked.

I did, and felt like maybe my story wasn’t good enough to merit being in the ER. But I had no doctor in Athens, and Evan suggested it, and seemed to know what was best.

He asked a few questions and then said, “I think we may need to do a pelvic exam.”

Suddenly, I felt suspicious because even my little bit of biology training led me to think that this exam was not needed. “Why?”

He looked flustered and quickly deferred from the pelvic. That sexist bastard just wanted to get into my pants. He told me that my urine sample was loaded with white blood cells and confirmed that I had a bladder infection. After some time he gave me the medications from the hospital pharmacy that I needed and described how I should take them. When I walked out to see Evan, he was a sight for sore eyes. It was comforting that he knew what was wrong. He took me home to the Sanders’. He kissed me sweetly good night.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Weird Dream & Reflections

I wrote this a few years ago...

Over ten years ago I had a dream. I dreamt that one day I woke up with a purple aura just over my skin. It was like a purple glow just above the surface and showed even through my clothes.
I showered, got dressed and went to work. Everyone at work who saw me shared with me the knowledge of what it meant. I was chosen to make a pilgrimage to determine if I would be one of the Dalai Lamas. On the chosen day, I left the US and flew to an Eastern land to make the pilgrimage. Many more people with purple auras were there. We all gathered at the foot of a huge snow covered mountain and knew our goal was to get to the top.

The passage was long and hard. Many faltered along the way in their hurry to get to the top first. I stopped to help those who met with various mishaps on their journey. Some fell into crevasses and/or were injured, others succumbed to exposure. All that I saw I helped to safety, even though it slowed my progress substantially. After many tortuous days, I made it to the top and was surprised to see that I stood there alone. A golden woman flew to me and held out her hand. She said, “You have helped all that you saw, and now you are a Dalai Lama”. I touched her hand and my aura changed from purple to saffron gold, as it the golden glow chased away the purple.
I hastily returned to work, golden glow and all. Things were different now. At the work day’s end people would line up at my office door for advice and blessings from a Dalai Lama. Sometimes, the other Dalai Lamas and I would travel via astral projection to distant lands to advise leaders about affairs of state and personal issues.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama has stated that pain and suffering is payment for one’s bad karma. I asked my husband about whether my recent trials resulted from my bad karma, and Sean laughed and said that if that were so, I have paid more than in full and definitely too much for my whole life. Also, the Dalai Lama has said that when one is suffering, one can imagine that they carry suffering for others, so that others may not suffer. I kind of hope that is true because it makes me feel strong. One thing that He said that I fully agree with is that suffering increases one’s capacity for empathy and compassion. Further, He has said that the goal of life is to be happy.

I had bought the traditional game of Tibet at our local Tibetan goods store for my niece. The game was solid brass and had a number of tigers and goats encased in the playing board.

Bagha Chal - Moving Tigers Game

My sister called me and said that the game was short by two goats. So, I returned to the store for the two goats. The owner told me that sometimes the pieces can get stuck inside the brass box and you need to give the box a good shake for them to fall out. But, he gave me the pieces anyhow.

Before I was to mail them to her, I called to verify that they were needed. My sister called to her daughter about the two goats and they had been found. I asked Evie if she had counted the goats herself and she told me she didn’t. So, with some irritation, I returned to the store to return the goats.

The owner, who is a friend of mine, nodded knowingly as I returned them and repeated that they are counted twice before sale. Then, I stopped and thought about that. My sister probably wanted to rely on her daughter’s count and not question it, as her daughter was 11 at the time. I looked up at the owner, and said that it must be hard to raise children as at a certain point you want to trust them and give them some independence, even if sometimes they will be wrong. He told me that I should be president, as I was so compassionate.

I thanked him profusely. However, I told him I was not interested in the job. I do not think that the American people want a compassionate president; too bad for them and for all of us.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Spirit Journey & Manatees - Part 9

The next morning dawned cloudy and drizzly. It was our last day in the keys and Sean really wanted to go out and snorkel one more time. So did I, but the weather was ominous. We did not have a charter arranged, so we would have to rent a boat ourselves. We decided to go to the John Pennekamp Park again to rent a boat. It surely wasn’t far. We probably would have walked if it weren’t for all of our gear.

The docks at John Pennekamp State Park

When we arrived, we bought a dive and navigation chart and planned our voyage. There was a shallow wreck straight out from the Park that we were sure we couldn’t miss and we decided to head for there. We walked out onto the docks to look at the boats that were available. I don’t specifically remember the sizes, but we picked one out that was affordable. The staff kind of gave each other looks, and upgraded us to a bigger boat for free because of the bad weather. The water was a bit rough with peaky waves, but not white caps.

This one was not for rent and too big.

We threw all of our gear into the boat and fired her up. Sean has lots of experience piloting boats, so he was fine with taking her out. She plowed nicely through the waves but I was glad he was doing the driving. I prefer ideal conditions. We were both fine on the way out and found the proper mooring without any problems. I caught up the mooring and we were tethered before we knew it.

This is what it looks like heading out of the park on a nice day.

This is about the size boat we got, but ours was an open whaler.

Then we began to feel the waves. Our little ship was tossed! We hurriedly got out of our warm dry clothes and donned our cold wetsuits. God, I felt so green in the cool breeze. Suddenly, Sean leaned over the side and tossed his cookies. That certainly did not help matters. I just had to get into the water. Sean got in before I did and said that it was really much better in the water. So, I got in and he was right. I did, however, throw up a bit in my mouth. The water felt warm and I could no longer feel the waves. I put my face in and with my snorkel mask there was an illusion of calm and the nausea went away. Thank god!

We set about trying to find the wreck. Sean spotted it first and directed me to it. It was really shallow and I could see it well. Even though it was kind of boring, I really wanted to stay in the water. I idly followed fish around to amuse myself. I certainly did not want to get back into that rocking boat and throw up my guts again.

Sean and I surfaced and we talked about it. He proposed that we could get on the boat and get going right away with our wetsuits still on and get changed when we got back to the park. My man is so smart sometimes. That is why I love him. So, that is what we did. Neither of us got sick again. It was great to be on dry land upon our return. The park staff eagerly asked if we had a good time, like they were expecting to hear horror stories, but instead we told them we did have a good time. We had an adventure together. We faced a challenge and together made it work out for the best.

Sunsets are best after storms.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Another New Link!

Jeff is the AmateurHunk. What intrests me most about his blog is that he does all of his own photography and explains how he accomplishes this. He certainly has an eye for composition and lighting. See for yourself.

It doesn't hurt that he is hot as Hades either! I mean, look at that body!

He also writes about his blog post's themes, lets his readers have input into the ideas behind his photos via polls and comments, and he writes about his life in general. It really is a very interactive blog. Check out his blog and see if it doesn't grow on you too. Adult content - use discretion.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday Fantasy - Friday Night Lights

The cast of Friday Night Lights (FNL)

Preview: This show makes me wet.

Friday Night Lights on NBC, Tuesdays at 8 PM, glitters with youth, energy and testosterone. It is my new guilty pleasure. The show is about the Dillon Panthers High School Football Team in rural Dillon, Texas that is contending for the state championships. The new coach, Coach Taylor, played by Kyle Chandler,

Oh God, I want him...

Oh, look, he's all concerned for a fallen player...

relies on his star quarterback Jason Street, played by Scott Porter.

Just your typical all American boy...

I’m drooling already. I mean look at these guys. Can you say hot? Of course the coach is married and always canoodling with his wife to the point to which his comely teenage daughter is grossed out. Oh yeah, but it is good for me! Of course the quarterback has a girl friend, who is predictably a cheerleader. Okay, I gotta stop typing and wipe the drool off my keyboard. Here is a photo of them kissing.

The inexperienced second string quarterback is Matt Saracen, played by Zach Gilford. Yum.

Ohhh. He's brooding. Is he worried that he'll lose? I could comfort him...

Gaius Charles plays running back “Smash” Williams (yummier),

Nice guns Gaius!

And former Abercrombie model Taylor Kitsch plays alcoholic, bad boy running back Tim Riggins, who is also Jason’s best friend (yummiest).

So Friday night rolls around and it is the big game. Everyone is charged up for the game. The exit door is painted, “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Loose!!!” which the whole team chants before hitting the field. The game stays close and in the 4th quarter when Dillon gets the ball back the coach puts his star quarterback in and oh! He takes a bad hit! That’s got to hurt, people. He’s down on the field. There he goes, off in an ambulance.

Coach Taylor looking concerned over his fallen QB.

So, Coach Taylor puts Saracen in. But, little Mattie goes blank. He can’t remember how to play ball. The coach takes him aside and says, “Matt, son, I know you can do this. I want you to call this play…” By hook and by crook, and with help from the Panthers Saracen wins the game. The whole team piles into the locker room victorious and it is announced that Jason is paralyzed.

I never would have thought that the energy of that opening show could have been continued, but it has. New issues now face the team and the novice Coach Taylor. Jason’s story is still followed as he learns to accept his new disability and almost loses his girlfriend to his best friend Tim (hot).

This was a particularly hot scene where he wanted to talk, but she said that they could talk about how he was cheating with his paralyzed best friend's girl friend.

Tim gets reamed by the Coach, and not in a good way.

Another gratuitous wet football player shot. Coach makes them all workout in the rain.

A new star quarterback now homeless due to Katrina comes to town to play for Dillon and that brings eligibility and loyalty problems as well as challenges for Matt. Matt begins to fall for the Coach’s daughter (never a good thing). Of course everybody has girlfriends (this is the football team) and some get swapped around. I guess if you had a teenager at home this show would give you a heart attack. The next episode is about homecoming. I can’t wait.

I think I will write to NBC and suggest that they introduce a gay character or two. That would certainly be timely and dramatic. Don’t you think?

Anyone for a fourgy?

But now the Coach has joined. So what does that make it?

So, this is how it goes at my house after that show airs:

Sue: Um Sean? Honey? Could you come here for a minute?

Sean: What?

Sue: Sweetheart, I need you.

Sean: Is it that damned show again? I’ll be right up.

And I know he will.

More photos here.