Monday, June 30, 2008


There are a lot of things that make me cringe.

My 7-year old one-arming a half-full pot of coffee 'cause Dad talked him into getting him a refill (SOO not gonna happen again; I've BEEN in burn units...).

Singing the words to Nickelback's "Animals." Out loud. Even without the kids in the car!

Listening to my kids sing all the words to "Rock Star." (mom of the year, I tell ya!)

Stepping on the bathroom scale.

Being buzzed by one of our local nasty big-ass-wasps, the Cicada Killer:

**shiver** I know they're "docile," but still...

Anyway, in my frequent travels of late, I have encountered two separate cringeworthy moments that that are similar enough to be addressed in one category: the morbidly obese person trying to squeeze into a small seat.

Truthfully, I don't know what makes me cringe more, thinking about what must be going through the mind of the person trying to squeeze in, or trying to imagine what it must be like to have to tell this person to give it up.

I was on a flight recently where the woman who checked in at the ticket counter before me had requested an exit-row seat. I know her motivation: exit row seats often have more legroom. Unfortunately, they do not have anymore width. In a perfect world, the ticketing agent would have kindly had the woman review the specs of exit-row seat responsibilities, which specifically include that the exit-row passenger must not present an obstacle to the accessibility of the exit. This woman, at around 5'4" and 375#, clearly presented an obstacle. Yet I am sure that she was just thinking of her own comfort when requesting this seat assignment.

We boarded the flight, and the woman tried heroically to wedge herself into the seat AND fasten her seatbelt. The flight attendant came along and gave the customary "do you accept the responsibilities of the exit row assignment and are you willing to help others in case of emergency?" All replied in the affirmative.

Here, I am compelled to digress. Briefly. I sit in exit rows frequently. I answer "yes" to the above questions. I lie. If there is a need to actually use the exit rows, I will be plowing over everyone I can to save my own ass. 'Cause I don't like flying. And I especially don't like flying under dubious or dangerous conditions. Use of the emergency exit assumes that dubious or dangerous conditions have occurred or are imminent. 'Nuff said.

So anyhow, I overheard the flight attendants having a whisper-argument. The one who lost (presumably) approached the woman and tried to discreetly explain to her that she was, in fact, and obstacle, and would have to be reseated. The woman pried herself out of her seat and switched places with a thin passenger, and kept her dignity as best she could. Inside, I was cringing for her. And the flight attendant.

Similarly, I was recently at the local amusement park and watched a woman of comparable dimensions (as above) try to ride a rollercoaster with her daughter of about 8. Rollercoaster rides are simply not for large people, unless they are the type where you sit on a bicycle-type seat and are held in by an over-the-shoulder harness. Our local amusement park is not that fancy. We have traditional trains-on-tracks coasters, which require the riders to fit into seats that are made for non-childbearing hips. Men, kids, and skinny bitches.

Did I say that?

The point is, my hips squeeze uncomfortably into most of these rides. I am not fat. Maybe a little fluffy, and I have had two children, but seriously. These rides make me feel sort of like a foot in a shoe that could stand to be about half a size bigger. This poor woman was more comparable to a pair of DD's trying to fit into one of those cute C-cup bras.

Ya. So not gonna happen. I speak from firsthand experience.

Gotta give it to her, she was persistent. She was able to somehow feign that she had managed to maneuver more than one buttock into the space provided, but seatbelts and lap-bars don't lie. Or forgive. The ride attendant had to inform her that not only could she not ride, but that her child was too short to ride without an adult. The poor kid was taken out of the seat and placed in a car with a single adult rider (read: stranger). If it had been me as a kid, I would have freaked. This child looked irritated, yet strangely nonplussed. I suppose it wasn't the first time. Which is cringeworthy in and of itself.

At any rate, this is not an opinion piece. Please don't be offended. I see both sides, which is really why I cringe in the first place.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ark, Anyone?



Wow, what a whirlwind few weeks! I live in one of the Midwest towns that has had all-time record flooding in the past couple of weeks. Praise God and heaven above...I live on a hill. Away from the river that cuts through our town. I was fortunate. I only lost internet service. Oh yeah, it sucked. But I'm a big-picture girl: being without internet is "unscathed" compared to what others have gone through and are STILL going through.

Back in 1993 when I moved to CollegeVille, I arrived in town as the cleanup from the summer flooding (record flooding, then) was winding down. I began working at a local restaurant that had been particularly hard-hit, ironically just after the owner had opened his business! Water had been up to the bar. So you can imagine, about 4 ft deep or so. This business is a good 500 ft or more from the river bank. It seemed crazy to think about.

Now I have seen it first hand. The water has receded, and the flood plain looks (in Plato's words) "like a desert." Mostly because it's covered with mud. All the landscaping is toast. And the waterline at my old workplace? Just above the doorframe. So about 7-8'. A full 3 ft above the previous record. It would be incomprehensible if I hadn't seen the evidence myself.

(Here's George Dubbya flying *probably* right over my house to get this view. I'm that close to all this!)

JeepMan's boss lives on the river in Collegeville. In the first area that floods if the river comes up at all. Back in '93, she and her husband had the house raised about 4 feet as the water had reached their first floor. This time, even with the floor-raise, the first floor was underwater. They are checking into a FEMA buyout. It just isn't worth it.

So I'm back online, and traveling every week for the next 4 weeks to help open a new account. I'm considering relocating, just because I'm actually busy here and there are 2-3 more accounts set to open in the near future. The area is nice, and the people are great. It's a lot like CollegeVille, just a bit further from "home." We'll see. I tend to start making plans waaay before I need to. I'm so NOT spontaneous.

More later. Thanks to everyone who is sticking with me. And sorry I haven't been around your blogs either. Kinda goes both ways. I'll try to play catch up soon!

Here's the Apartment I lived in in College. There's an entire first floor beelow the water level!

Here's a final Before & After of a city in the area. Notice the 3 bridges in the before that are nearly invisible in the after. These bridges are about 24' above normal river level. Wow.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Brain-Bending Flick

Last night JeepMan and I took advantage of the kids being at MIL's for the weekend....Now, now, get your mind out of the gutter.

We rented actual grown-up movies and watched them without distraction or interruption.

The first one was SweenyTodd, staring the always-gorgeous Johnny Depp. Except, actually, he managed to be entirely non-gorgeous in this movie. The flick is pure Tim Burton, from the hollow-eyed characters (Depp and Helena Bonham Carter), to the smoggy setting, to the technicolor blood. I kept from JeepMan until the movie was actually in the DVD player the fact that this was a musical. He doesn't generally go for musicals. JM indulged me, however, and the movie was pretty good. I've never seen the stage version or read the book (is there a book?), so I had no idea what to expect. In the end I was left numb to the copious gore but satisfied wth the ending. Not a bad way to spend a couple hours with your hubs and no kidlets.

Then we decided to see the other I had picked out. Against my gut, I had chosen "Gone, Baby, Gone." Directed by Ben Affleck (or Matt Damon, I get them confused). I didn't know if I could handle it because it was about a kidnapping and had multiple twists. The film was engaging, and they didn't let us get to know the child too much before she was kidnapped...actually the bulk of the film revolved around her exceptionally dysfunctional family - crackhead mother, squalorous living conditions, etc. The film came to a sad conclusion, or so I thought. Then it kept going. Switched gears completely, which left me wondering what the point was of taking a hard left when the movie seemed to be essentially over. Turns out this veer uncovers a few twists to the original plot, and we are eventually back to almost where we left off.


So, the ending of the movie left me uneasy and conflicted. Essentially, the lead detective (engaged, no kids) uncovers a scheme that involves a crooked cop, the mother's brother, and the Chief of Police (Morgan Freeman), whose past includes the kidnapping and murder of his only daughter at the age of 12. The brother found out that his sister was a drug mule who had ended up with $130K after a police raid. The brother saw that he could expose his sister for the unfit mother she was, snag the money, and put the child into better hands all with a kidnapping scheme. The crooked cop saw an easy way to make money and do some good for humanity as well, and the Chief saw a way to rescue/raise a beautiful little girl, filling the void in the life of both he and his wife, and giving the child the kind of chance she would never get while in her mother's care.

We see the girl with her new "parents," she is clean, rosy-cheeked, well-dressed, and full of affection, kissing her "mother" and cuddling with her "father" on the porch rocker. She exudes a vivaciousness that we have not seen in any of the pictures her mother keeps. The chief's wife looks like any new mother, beaming at the child and lavishing her with attention. But somewhere across town lives the woman who carried and birthed this child, a mother who has already held a funeral for her and grieved as any mother, even a drug-addled derelict, would.

The detective has to make the decision on whether to do what he feels is morally "right," to return the child to her mother and expose the corruption in the police force, OR to do what his fiancee feels is ethically right, leaving the child with the doting, wealthy couple and just quietly walk away and leave well enough alone. What's more, his fiancee informs him that if he sends the girl back to her biological mother, she will leave him, as she feels that a moral/ethical rift of this magnitude is simply insurmountable.

What did he do? Ahhh, dear reader, I shall leave that for another post. You may actually want to see the movie and find out for yourself. The ending did not leave me easy. I am still thinking on it, unsure. If you can handle the intensity and unsavory subject matter, I would highly recommend this movie.

What I want to know now is, what would YOU do? And, what is RIGHT? (they may not be the same...)

Until next time...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Happy Harry's and a Meme

Okay, first the meme. This is an easy one, and a copout 'cause I don't really have a lot of inspiration right now. The assignment is to show everyone your workspace, i.e. where you blog. Here's mine:

You'll notice the empty cereal bowl and the extra-comfy chocolate leather chair. And my "pile system" of organization.

To the left of this organized mess is JeepMan's desk. Here's a pic of it:

Much cleaner than mine, but the chair's not as comfy. Frequently I find he has annexed my chair and I have to reclaim it.

What's that you say? There's a monkey in that chair? Sleeping?

Why, my word! The chair must be comfy after all. I'll have to tell JeepMan that. Lulu likes to get up after she goes to bed and come snuggle me. Usually I'm in my bed, but this night I was up late working. She didn't even ask to get up in my lap, just crawled into JM's chair and fell asleep. What a darn cutie.

So on to the first part of my title.

I'm having problems with my phone. I keep getting voicemails, and the freakin' thing never rings. Not good since it's my business phone and it's sort of important to be available to my accounts. I'll be having a chat with Verizon soon to see if we can work something out.

In the meantime I'm on voicemail patrol. Today I got a weird one. It was an automated message, and as is often the case, only the tail-end gets recorded. This one was a robot woman saying, "....and as always, we thank you for choosing Happy Harry's for all your pharmacy needs."

Uhm. Meh? What the heck was that? My first thought was, "ok, who's stolen my credit card number and buying male enhancement pills?" So I quickly checked my credit card websites, and no pharmaceutical purchases. Then I got to thinking, what kind of voicemail spam is this? I tentatively googled "Happy Harry's" on my (work) computer, dreading the onslaught of questionable sites that were sure to pop up (ha!). To my surprise, the first page of hits were an actual pharmacy in Delaware (the ph# matched and everything), which has been absorbed by the giant Walgreen's. Check it out: Happy Harry's.