Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
So I decided that my obligation just went from giving the Red Cross money to Giving the Red Cross Money and Posting about it on the Internet so that Maybe Other People Will Give Them Money, Too. Here is the link to donate to the Disaster Relief Fund.
- Dental insurance does not work the same way as health insurance. You are going to pay more out of pocket for treatment.
- Employers place a much lower priority on stellar dental coverage because they are worried about how to maintain the health insurance.
- This is particularly true regarding orthodontics. At my office, the philosophy is that orthodontics are something you can plan for save money ahead of time. We would rather spend the benefits dollars on the health insurance program.
Dental insurance is not the same as health insurance. But here was something that I didn't know:
"Although dental insurance premiums have remained relatively steady over the last decade, especially when compared to skyrocketing medical-insurance premiums, between 1998 and 2008 the increase in the cost of dental services exceeded that of medical care and far exceeded the overall rate of inflation."
I wonder if that statistic will outlast the recession.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Marcus talks about how Amazon was staffed with an editorial department filled with bookworms and writers, charged with writing what he calls the “haiku” of book reviews. The cool thing was that they were not told to make it all positive, so as to sell more books. They wrote what they thought. Over the five years that he worked there, editors were slowly replaced with customer reviews and auto recommendations. Finally, Marcus took his stock options and ran.
And speaking of those stock options..there is some mention of the ride of the “accidental millionaires”, cashing in the shares and buying new cars. Until one day it all crashed.
Of course, we all know that Amazon survived. And it seems that James Marcus grew up to be a real writer.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Did CBS make a spontaneous switch, mid-game to the more interesting event? That would be new. And kinda cool.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
A lady went in for IVF. An embryo that she had previously frozen was implanted and she became pregnant. Then she found out that the embryo actually belonged to another couple. The clinic made a mistake.
The lady, Carolyn Savage, carried the baby, gave birth on Thursday and delivered him to his natural parents. No fights, no lawsuits. No discussions of abortion or custody.
I saw the story below on the Today Show this morning. The legal and moral issues are dumbfounding, but it is so nice to see someone do the (incredibly) magnanimous thing first and worry about suing the clinic later.
But will you please, please set up some more templates? I get tired of looking at mine, then I go to change it. And decide I don't like the change but I can't seem to go back to what I had before because I spent hours on the color scheme and have no idea what it was that I did.
Now I have a lame one, but don't have the time or patience right this second to do anything about it. I would appreciate your help.
Scholastic book - I have the Darth Vader one and I rather enjoyed it. Sixteen bucks. I put it down. Then I remembered that I have a BN coupon sitting in my inbox, so I wnt home and got online. Those who know bn.com know that the minimum for free shipping is $25. So when I picked up my $16 book for $11.51 I had to "fill out the order".
I looked at DVDs for five minutes, then remembered that I don't have time for them and don't want to spend the money on a TV season right now, anyway. Music.
You know what I found? Trans Siberian Orchestra has an album coming out the end of next month. I loved Beethoven's Last Night in a Stranded on an Island way - easily in the Top 10. (Thank you to my friend Rich who doesn't even remember that I first heard it at his old apartment in Crystal Lake.) I didn't look to see what this album is, but I pre-ordered it. I am expecting a rock opera of some sort. Of the not-Christmas variety. Wait - Night Castle. Does that suggest Halloween? I going to go back to look.
This is why I should check in at Barnes & Noble more often.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Force. Of. Habit. Because I make this trip so often.
I forgot to go to the ATM last weekend, so I had $25 on me during this trip. I realized it Monday afternoon, when I was buying lunch. Then it became a game. Can I travel on plastic alone? Even if I forgot my Metro card in my other carry on?
The answer is yes. I went out with $25 in cash and came back with $10. For everything else, I used the credit card.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
In front of the television. Because there was NCIS on the USA Network.
The next night, I got on the Metro to go meet Holly and I had a moment. Normally, when I land in Washington, I grab my luggage and get on the Metro and as soon as I board the train I think something resembling:
"Yay! I'm in Washington!"
Tuesday night, I realized that I hadn't had that moment the day before. That felt sucky. I hope it was just because I didn't feel well.
Wednesday night, Joy and I had dinner at the boss' house. Because he is retiring and his wife rocks.
I came home to find that the bathroom isn't done, the dog has gone insane, I'm still behind on the homework and NCIS is still on the USA Network.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Students starting school this year may be part of the last generation for which "going to college" means packing up, getting a dorm room and listening to tenured professors. Undergraduate education is on the verge of a radical reordering. Colleges, like newspapers, will be torn apart by new ways of sharing information enabled by the Internet. The business model that sustained private U.S. colleges can't survive.
I gotta tell you: I love my online Masters program. But I can’t even picture..how much it would suck to miss the experience of going to college.
I chose to go to The American University as an undergrad because even while I was shooting for a business degree, I loved the atmosphere filled with political science and international service. Breathing the air with these kids that seriously thought that a life of some kind of public service was for them…watching election returns was like Super Bowl Sunday in the dorms. Oh, don’t get me started. Here is the point:
College taught me that I could leave Chicago, go somewhere else, start all the way over without knowing a single soul, be successful and have a great time. You don’t get that from an online program.
This article talks about the economic reality. Online courses are just less expensive to produce, and so many students say that money is the #1 barrier to completing a program. I know that isn’t the entire story, because I have also been reading a lot about people dropping out because they just can’t keep up. Oh, and may I add that my $680 per credit hour is not exactly a bargain.
Maybe this is the new reality. But if it is…what a damn shame.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Chase won some points back today when I logged on, checked my bank account and found a credit for a hundred bucks and change with the entry, "Chase Pays Your Bills Winner".
I seem to remember a commercial for that promotion, but I thought it was just for debit payments. I don't do debit payments, since I use credit cards for everything, but it looks like it works for online bill pay, too.
I am most pleased.
Friday, September 18, 2009
- Got up at 6:30 to give Kiwi her medicine and bring her up to my bedroom before the contractor got to the house.
- Got dressed and left shortly after the contractor arrived at 7am. Had breakfast at the Corner Bakery. I don't recommend the oatmeal.
- Walked a lap around Lake Glenview. The mind wandered to, "You know what would be really cool? An NCIS/X-Files crossover episode." Made a mental note to check into the fan fiction. Because I really have time for that.
- Got my allergy shot. Want to know a secret? I read trashy magazines at the doctor's office. I carry a tote bag around with me all day so that I am never without a book, but I insist on reading that garbage in the doctor's office. I am now all caught up on Ted Kennedy's funeral.
- Hit the Carson's Goodwill Sale. I really need new clothes. The Christmas trees are up already.
- Just made it to my 11am appointment for a mammogram. I was behind an old lady that told everyone and their dog that there were no paper towels in the ladies room. And each person responded by telling her that the hospital doesn't use paper towels in the ladies room anymore. Only air dryers. Did she serioisly think she was going to get a different answer after the third time?
- Had lunch at Noodles.
- Went to work. Because I forgot to do something and I am going to be in Washington next week.
- Went to Costco. I thought I could get some ice cream on the way out, but the line was snaked back for about ever.
- Got home to a cranky cat who has been locked up with the cranky bird. Turned on the Doors special on VH-1. And now I have to do some homework.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
People, I am serious about the anti-bacterial mouthwash. I remember once in college I commented that I had just run out and had to go to the drugstore and get some more right that second and my boyfriend laughed his head off. Keep laughing, Buddy. Knock on something, but I haven't taken an actual sick day since I was diagnosed with chronic sinusitis (due to allergies) in 2005. Here are my secrets:
- Wash your hands. A lot.
- Get enough sleep.
- Anti-bacterial mouthwash.
Anyway. While I was crazy busy at work, the techies informed me that an army of Trojan soldiers were sitting around somewhere in my system drinking coffee and they had to close the gates and hunt them down with BB guns and re-build the Great Wall of China or something so I couldn't log on for half a day.
My internet was down at home for two days. I was two days behind on my homework, but I am close to caught up.
And they are still working on my mother's bathroom, and Kiwi had been gone for 2.5 weeks so when I got to the rescue tonight I couldn't just leave her there so I borrowed the travel cage again and she will just have to be locked in my room all day eating banana chips and watching soap operas.
I'm going to bed now.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I came across Charles Barkley’s Who’s Afraid of a Large Black Man? at Half Price Books. I’ve always rather liked Barkley (except when he was playing the Bulls) and in this book, he interviews a whole bunch of people (Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton, Samuel L. Jackson, George Lopez)about race relations in the U.S. Yeah, I know. He’s kind of a blowhard, but he has a brain. Can he write? He doesn’t have to write; he hooked up with journalist Mike Wilbon to edit.
Then Senate-Candidate Barack Obama was interviewed (published in 2005, the interview happened during the campaign). Barkley did nod to the fact that Obama broke through in part because of a Republican sex scandal that didn’t even involve any sex. (As much as I like the President, I am still ticked at the Illinois Republican Party for being so stupid.) And this was after the speech at the Democratic National Convention. Interestingly enough, even while Barkley was saying that this guy could lead "our people", he also said that there would never be an African American president. Not "not in my lifetime". But never.
There were several themes in this book, and Obama hit a few of them. First, that while racism still exists in this country, the problems we have are much more about economics than about race. Second, that “white people” don’t “wish black folks ill”. They’re just taking care of their own business. Another variation of that was something like “white people are not thinking about black people as much as black people are thinking about white people”. Many of those interviewed talked about the idiocy of the concept of “acting white”. Pointing to something in the African American culture that thinks it is selling out to read books and educate one’s children. And then there were the discussions of Cosby.
Barkley didn’t actually interview Bill Cosby, but this was right around the time that Cosby began to talk, openly and loudly, about African Americans taking responsibility for their own families. His main points were about raising one’s children and getting an education. Barkley asked many people about it. Some said that Cosby is right on. Some said that he had a very good point, but could have communicated it better/more gently/in a different context. But no one said he was wrong.
One of my favorite interviews was with Jesse Jackson. I’ve never much liked the guy partly because to me, he has always been a politician. Barkley makes that point – that to younger people, that’s all he has been. But Barkley calls him “one of the last really prominent links to the civil rights movement”. But of all that Jackson said, the stuff about sports struck me the most. He said that the reason African Americans are successful in sports is that in that type of competition, the rules are clear. There is no subjectivity. (Well, of course there is subjectivity. But I like his point.) When the rules are clear, African Americans can compete.
Barkley took on this project in an attempt to start some dialogue. He said that the big takeaway for him is that people – successful people – are willing to talk about race issues in this country. It’s just that no one is asking them to talk.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
We did go on a lovely dinner cruise on Lake Washington. Like the Lake Michigan cruises, the food was lame but we had a great time. My boss was the guest of honor because he is retiring next month. In his speech, he declared that retirement dinners were "just this side of waterboarding". Before he got up to speak, a lady to whom I was just introduced demanded to know if I was going to cry. I gave her my honest answer, "Not unless they try to make me speak."
Then we saw Bill Gates' house. It was very pretty. I refused to take a picture; it seemed impolite.
Speaking of not looking like a tourist, I was asked directions while in town. Twice.
There were three coffee shops on every block and only one McDonald's in the entire downtown area. And check this out:
I had forgotten that half the world's Alaskan cruises leave from Seattle.
I had breakfast at The Crumpet Shop. Twice. That was good stuff, and the funny part was that their Happy Hour is something like 7-8:30 am, when the lattes are $1.80. I had skim milk with my crumpet, thank you.
So. I will be back in January and then again in April. I hope I will remember to take better pictures. At least I will be done with school by then. I hope.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
I am just beginning the heavy travel season again with a trip to Seattle for a pre-conference planning meeting. Here is the requisite photo from the hotel room window:
I have never been to the area before and I must say that my midwestern sensibilities are rather struck by the ...um... hippies.
I went down Pike Street to the market where I found a darling little book store. At least I thought it was darling until I saw the selection of books. There was an entire section for extreme feminist writing. One for sexuality. The people behind the counter were all face-pierced and the one other customer in the store was dreadlocked. It was not attractive. I looked for a section on local authors but was turned off before I found anything.
I did find the fish-throwing place. Wait, there must be a video somewhere...
There was quite a crowd when I went by. Then I picked up Jimmy John's and went back to my room to do my homework. I had to turn the heat on.
So then I was paranoid. But I was about due for an oil change, and my mother was leaving town for the weekend and I left for Seattle this morning so we took my car to the mechanic last Friday and I told him the story. He changed the oil, said he couldn't see anything going on under the pedals, but he was going to have someone go drive it to see if they could systematically prove that I am insane.
Not so much.
Something about a ball bearing and my tire could have fallen off and $600. Is $600 a good price for validation?
Monday, September 7, 2009
Played Wii Tennis
Read a book
Did my homework
So. Exactly what I would have done if I hadn't had the house to myself. Except that I was also responsible for giving the dog his pills.
I have only had Express Facials twice before. The idea, I think, is to clear the palette of your skin with none of the fancy stuff.
How convenient. I was just thinking that I had about..nevermind how many break outs that I can’t seem to get under control. My skin has been making me crazy this summer. The aesthetician said she could take me in an hour, so I made the appointment.
Gordon Salon & Spa is much more salon than spa. I think I only saw two treatment rooms, but they looked fine to me. I wasn’t terribly impressed with the bathroom, though.
Sitting in the allergist’s office, I read the list of services. The Express Facial is regularly $50, which is pretty darned expensive. The standard one is $80, which is comparable to Mario Tricoci.
At the appointed time, I arrived and the aesthetician was ready for me. She had me fill out the information form, which may be intended to get to know you better, and may be to have in writing what you had disclosed. Whatever. I told her about the mold and how I couldn’t seem to find a moisturizer with any SPF that my skin doesn’t hate. She looked at my skin and said that it was really very healthy, and suggested that my skin might be pissed at me because I keep changing up the products.
Hmm. I’ll have to think about that one.
She did everything right. The appointment was 45 minutes, which explains why it is more expensive. Also, they are with Aveda, which means the aromatherapy is a big deal. Would you believe that my blind pick for a scent was sandalwood? (The other choices involved cloves and tea tree oil, so perhaps not.) Nothing felt rushed and there was no hard sell on the products, which I appreciate. And three days later, my skin is much better. That’s what it’s all about, Charlie Brown.
I could go back.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
I had a Barnes & Noble gift card, so I found a copy of Things I Learned About My Dad (in therapy) from an Ohio library’s used book store. Heather Armstrong (aka Dooce) edited this series of essays from a variety of bloggers on the subject of fatherhood.
The themes were of understanding and forgiveness of the “Now I get it” variety. There were chuckly moments and teary moments. I liked Heather’s piece the best, but that is probably because I read her blog and know some back story about her old man. I would say that he is my favorite character in her blog but that might be revealing my own daddy issues. Again. Anyway, I really like Chuck the Dog best.
That was a funny piece, now that I am thinking about it. In Sarah Brown’s “The Best Man” she suggests that we all have daddy issues and hers is that she thinks her father is the most perfect man in the whole universe.
Overall, this was a pretty light read, and a pretty good mix of some of the better writers on the Internet. On this particular subject, anyway. How is it I have read Wheaton’s books yet?