Thursday, August 23, 2007

Did you ever know that you're my hero?

My husband is going through a rough patch at work. As some of you know, Mark left his reliable, white-bread job at Eli Lilly in April to work for a start-up company with a good friend. He has done some amazing work for them, and they have developed a viable and useful product, but the stars just haven't aligned in their favor yet. No one is giving up on the idea, but everyone is agreed that they need to seek additional employment until their company starts generating some revenue.

The situation (at least in our case) is far from dire, though. As of this writing, Mark has 3 different companies interested in his services, and he still gets daily hits from his resume posting. There's no doubt in my mind that he will land on his feet.

The main problem for him is - and always has been - the uncertainty of the whole situation. Mark is not an impulsive guy, and the idea of "flying by the seat of your pants" is quite foreign to him. Not knowing where he's going to hang his hat from one day to the next is extremely stressful for him. I wish I could do something to help him deal with all this, but other than being supportive, there's not much anyone else can do to help.

From my vantage point, I'm not anywhere near as stressed by this situation, and I don't think that's just because he's the one doing all the work (although I'm sure that doesn't help). It's because I know how talented he is, and what he can accomplish when he sets his mind to it. I know what an asset he will be to whoever is lucky enough to work with him in the future. And I know that his combination of mad skills, creativity and personability will ensure that he will always be in great demand.

So I just wanted to take out a few minutes to tell him how proud he has made me over the past few months. I am proud that he believed enough in himself and his abilities to leave what everyone around him considers to be "the most stable job in town" for a new and unproven firm. I am proud that he faced his fear of change and uncertainty in order to find something that will truly make him happy, not just pay the bills. I am proud of all the hard work he's done and the dedication he has shown since taking this position.

Whether or not this company becomes successful, Mark is already a success. He's been through lots of ups and downs since this started in April, but he has somehow managed to come out of it with a positive outlook on his future and a drive to succeed on his own terms, by doing what he loves to do. I admire and applaud that, and I couldn't possibly be more proud of anyone than I am of him at this moment.

I love you, honey. And you're gonna kick some ass, just you wait and see.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Cat tales

Here are a few fun facts about Annie & Blackie, the fairest felines in all the land:

  • Annie has a gigantic noggin. Her head is unwieldy and far too large for the rest of her body. You'd think this might mean she'd be extra smart, but it seems to be mostly made of face.

    I've noticed that she has learned to turn this attribute to her advantage, though. A number of times I've seen her wedge her head into a closing door - closed doors are her pet peeve. If she can cram her face in there, then there will be plenty of room for the rest of her to slide on through. Maybe that giant head does make her a little smarter...

  • Blackie actually has the opposite problem - her head seems tiny. In all fairness, this is less due to an unusually small head than it is to her extreme fatness. Her head and feet are normal sized, but the rest of her looks like an over-inflated parade balloon. It has been pointed out that when Blackie sits back on her haunches in classic upright cat posture, her silhouette resembles that of a Christmas tree - small at the top, widening toward the floor.

    This has the unfortunate consequence of making it impossible for her to jump any higher than our bed. Her front end can jump much further than that, but the huge rear end inevitably drags the rest of her back down to earth, like a big furry Slinky.

  • Annie is a pretty cool customer as far as cats go. She always seems in total control of any situation and is at ease in just about any environment.

    The only exception to this (besides the vet's office, which is upsetting to most animals) is the presence of dogs. She HATES dogs, regardless of size, breed or temperament. It doesn't even need to be a real dog - she freaks out at dogs on TV, too. It's more of a phobia than hatred, I guess, although you can just see the hate rays shooting out of her eyes. She doesn't just run and hide, as would be expected. Instead, she literally climbs the walls, looking for the highest possible perch from which to hate them. It would be funny if she didn't seem so pitiful.

  • Blackie is much more cuddly than her sister, and would like nothing more than to be wherever you are. This is fine, unless we decide to leave the upstairs. You see, Blackie has never voluntarily left the upper story of our home - not since she caught her first glimpse of Josie & Alfie, my parents' cats and her archnemeses.

    Occasionally Alfie will come upstairs looking for action (he enjoys letting Annie beat the hell out of him), but he is always summarily dismissed when Blackie is around. She thinks he is evil and is personally offended by his mere presence. This despite the fact that Alfie was here for 3 years before she was (and should therefore have dibs), and is much smaller than she is. In fact, at just 8 lbs. he is less than 1/3 of her size. Yeah, like I said before, she's a fat load.

    In general, the girls differ from each other completely in temperament. Annie is bold and assertive, fiercely independent, and fears almost nothing (except dogs, of course). Where most cats are tentative when entering a new room or area, Annie will bust into that joint at full speed, never stopping to check for possible danger until it is far too late. She's been flattened on more than one occasion for her impulsiveness, but she doesn't seem to mind.

    Blackie, on the other hand, is skittish and a bit shy, very needy and quite easily frightened. While no one in this house has ever raised a hand to her (despite her unfortunate tendency to be a bit bitey with me), she still cowers and runs away whenever anyone holds something in their hand above shoulder level, regardless of what the thing is. The easiest way to get Blackie to move is to hold a throw pillow up in the air over your head. Considering her substantial girth, she can get away pretty fast.

    Despite all these differences, the girls seem to get along swimmingly.

    Sure, they beat the tar out of each other at least once a day, but they both seem to enjoy it. If I had been the one to name them (they were already 5 years old when we got them, complete with names), I think I would have called them Yin and Yang. Or perhaps Ying and Yong. Or how about Ping and Pong?

Friday, August 17, 2007

This isn't just about News Corp (but they still suck)

I read an interesting article last night about expansion of domestic surveillance. Maybe later I will give some opinions on it, but right now something else is bothering me more.

I don't know how this story was covered nationwide, but in my local paper it was buried in the middle of the national section, 2 pages after the coverage of Elvis' 30th deathday party and 3 pages after the Michael Jackson custody article.

I would love to blame the editor, or the newspaper owner, but unfortunately I think this is a sad reflection on our society. There probably are more people who want to read about Lindsay Lohan's latest escapade or the results of this week's America's Fattest Fatties than there are people who care about the erosion of our civil liberties.

Of course, I don't absolve the media entirely. How are average people supposed to learn about current events that might actually affect their lives if no one reports them - or if they bury the stories under 20 pages of gossip and fluff? It was a fluke that I found the story myself, and I go out of my way to keep current with all the blogs and sites catering to progressive whack-jobs like me.

I can't fault the average American for not being outraged about policy decisions that get no media coverage. I blame the growing corporatization of our media, which has resulted in a handful of pasty white Republicans controlling the vast majority of national news outlets.

It's hard to defend yourself against a threat when you're not even aware it exists. And I think that's just the way they want it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

John Gibson is an assclown

I don't purposely subject myself to Fox News any more than I have to, and this is particularly true of their radio network. If I want to be nauseated, I can usually find much more enjoyable ways to do it.

Because of this, I only heard about this through my hero and secret boyfriend, Keith Olbermann. I trust him to keep me up to date on the latest Fox News atrocities, and so far he has never let me down.

I do realize, however, that despite all his good qualities, Keith is not exactly unbiased, particularly toward John Gibson. He despises the man. So I thought it behooved me to actually listen to the broadcast in question, just to make sure Keith wasn't exaggerating or misrepresenting anything. He wasn't - but judge for yourself:

Lucky for us all, Keith Olbermann - always at the ready - came to the defense of basic human decency:

(Special thanks to the Keith Olbermann Fans on MySpace for providing the links.)

In conclusion, John Gibson in a no-talent assclown. And Keith Olbermann is, once again, my hero.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

When the bloom is off the Turd Blossom...

So, at last the day has come. Karl "Wormtongue" Rove is leaving the White House. I'm not sure exactly how I feel about that.

Of course I am immensely pleased to see the back side of him (eww, not in that way!), and I'm all for getting rid as many neocons as possible. But I can't help but feel that he's getting away too easily.

We are all familiar with the saying about rats deserting a sinking ship. I just picture Karl as a sneaky little cockroach, scurrying for the best exit route to escape the light (or, in this case, the Congressional subpoena). And given his history, I have a feeling that, like a cockroach, it will be nearly impossible to find him and squash him once he escapes.

This is the architect of the Bush administration, the man responsible for death and destruction affecting millions of people worldwide and costing us billions of dollars. This is the man who has destroyed the careers and reputations of upstanding, decent people - civil servants and war veterans whose sole transgression was blocking his path to ultimate power. This is the man who set the tone of an administration gone wild, an executive branch with no regard for the rule of law and with no respect for the Constitution or the necessary limits it places on executive authority.

In light of all this, I have to admit that I am very glad to see Rove go. I just wish that his departure would have looked a little more like the above picture. At the press announcement today, Dubya said, when speaking of Rove moving on: "I'll be on the road behind you, here, in a little bit..."

We can only hope "a little bit" comes real soon.

Monday, August 13, 2007


So, I took a quiz to discover what superheroine I would be. I have to say, this one was a bit of a no-brainer...

Not entirely because I'm a known bad-ass. More because I have often been quoted as saying that I would watch Joss Whedon do his taxes or clean his bathroom, as long as he made it into an hour-long drama with lots of witty banter. I'm a whore for the banter.

So, without further ado, please meet my inner superheroine:

You Are Buffy the Vampire Slayer

"We saved the world. I say we have to party."

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Season Three, bitches!

Season Three of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia starts September 13th. And just to make sure you won't forget, here's something that will be stuck in your brain for months to come:

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I miss this...

I've spent a lot of time the past few weeks collecting digital photographs to use on my new blogs and MySpace page. It's been kinda fun looking back at everyone in younger days, myself included.

But I couldn't help but be a little sad when looking at some of the pictures of the kids. Don't get me wrong - it's not like we never see them. They are usually here about once a month or so, and we always get to spend lots of time visiting. It just struck me how big they're both getting.

Host unlimited photos at for FREE!

Host unlimited photos at for FREE!

I miss being able to pick them up for goodnight kisses. I miss onesies and cute little hats. God help me, I never would have thought that I'd miss Dora the Freakin' Explorer, but I do.

I don't miss the diapers, though... Potty training is one of the greatest inventions known to man. Potty training and tequila. Best when used together, I think.

I'm sure there will be memories I make with the kids in the future that will be just as sweet... We still play together all the time, and it's not like I'd be physically able to hold them now even if they were still small.

It just seems like maybe an era has passed without my noticing... Cue the "Cats In The Cradle".

The only solution I've been able to come up with is for Laura to pop out another baby for me. That would solve EVERYTHING! So, get going on that.

Friday, August 10, 2007

New Slideshow

This is a new slideshow I made of my niece and nephew. Some of these photos are in the family album on my profile, but a lot of them are not. I call it The Best of Alex and Jeannette:

Cat Handcuffs and Fibro Flares

So, today was the first time since I started blogging and setting up MySpace and Xanga pages over a month ago that I felt too crappy to get online at all. I decided to go analog and just use a legal pad and a pencil instead (it's a mechanical pencil - I'm not a total Luddite). I planned to enter it into my blog tomorrow, but I can't seem to sleep tonight, so I thought I'd give it a shot now.

I didn't even spend an inordinate amount of time online yesterday, or do any of the kinds of things that trigger my symptoms (cleaning, laundry, etc.) Sometimes the storm just hits with no warning or provocation, and I've come to terms with that. What does surprise me is how much I missed doing this, even for just a day. I guess I've become more attached to the internets (it's a series of tubes) than I had realized. Wow, Mark will find that hilarious, I'm sure.

As long as I take it easy with lots of breaks, I think that a project like this is good for my health issues. Since I can set my own pace, it's the perfect hobby for me, and it gives me a sense of accomplishment that I haven't had in a long time. Going for over a month without any really bad days (meaning days where I barely leave bed) is something that hasn't happened to me in several years. I think I have all of you to thank for that.

It's weird, however, that even though I can't usually pinpoint the cause of a flare or anticipate its arrival, my cats always know. Sometimes Annie will just sit across the room from me and stare at me with her head slightly cocked, waiting. Then, like clockwork, something starts to throb with pain (today it was my hips & my right arm). It's creepy! She's like that nursing home cat that predicts when the patients will die. Of course, she also entertains herself for hours by chasing her tail... Maybe she's a kitty savant.

The other one (Blackie) is much, much, much, much dumber, but even she knows when I'm feeling particularly punky. It's the only time she stops trying to push me out of my bed. She's quite good at it, actually - picture a 25 pound, self-propelling, furry medicine ball with pointy teeth. This Queen-of-the-Hill game is perpetuated by the fact that I spend the majority of my leisure time (when I'm not online, of course) lounging on the bed, for one very good reason: that's where our 56 in flatscreen is. But after being here for about 5 months, Blackie decided that she was annexing the bed, and that I had to follow her rules if I wanted to stay. Naturally I took umbrage to the Anschluss, and we've been at war ever since.

Blackie also has a habit of sneaking up (inasmuch as a 25 pound behemoth can sneak) and stealing my pencil while I'm writing with it. Not really on topic, I guess, but odd just the same. Someday I'm going to find a pile of slobbery mechanical pencils squirreled away somewhere - unless she's using them, or selling them at the flea market. Either way, I need a pair of cat handcuffs and I need them right now!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A Day in the Life - With Fibromyalgia

So I realized that I have been blogging for awhile now, and have yet to talk about my condition. I have no intention of turning this into a whine-fest, but sometimes it's awkward to ask about these things, and I don't think most people understand what fibromyalgia is like.

I'm not going to try to define fibromyalgia, or try to get technical about it. There are lots of medical web sites that can explain that stuff far better than I ever could. Instead I would like to just talk about how my condition affects me on a day-to-day basis.

Today was a good day. When I woke up, I was able to get out of bed on the first try, after only 10 minutes of slow leg stretches. Many mornings I have to make multiple attempts before I can stand, and even then it's a crapshoot as to whether I'll make it all 10 feet to the bathroom.

Apart from the stiffness, my usual complaint is pain, ranging from general tenderness to "I feel like I got hit by a truck". Today being a good day, it was just a moderate soreness. When I hit the shower after breakfast, a lot of this pain eases, at least for awhile.

Breakfast is always the first thing on my daily agenda, so I have some food in my stomach before I start taking my meds. Anti-inflammatories, pain pills, muscle relaxers, anti-emetics. I take about 10 pills each morning, and about double that before bed at night, with some more thrown in throughout the day as needed. Of course, I have to adjust all this if I need to drive anywhere, since some of these make me too drowsy to drive - assuming I'm not too dizzy or sore to drive in the first place. But I didn't have to go out today.

I spent the rest of the day alternating between watching TV and surfing the net. I can't do either for more than 30 minutes or so without moving around, or else I'll stiffen up and get really sore. I realize that having to take breaks between leisure activities is what you might call a "high class problem", so I'm not complaining. Believe me, I know how lucky I am that I don't have to try to trudge through a work day anymore, pretending that I'm not in pain or dizzy.

Most days, this would be my itinerary until Mark gets home from work, but as I said, today was a good day. I took advantage of it by getting some laundry done. I'm good for maybe 2 loads in a day - I've learned the hard way not to push this limit. The last time I did, I couldn't lift my arms for 3 days afterward.

Next, I unpacked my UPS package from NutriSystem. I've been trying to lose weight, but more importantly I get a month's worth of meals without having to go shopping or haul groceries. There have been times when this was not a luxury but a necessity. But not today - today was a good day.

This was a very productive day for me. I got a lot of maintenance done on my MySpace, Facebook and Friendster pages. I have just started these in the last month or so, after years of slowly losing touch with most of my friends. It's embarrassing to always turn down invitations or to have to cancel plans at the last minute, and it's often easier to just avoid the situation. Eventually the contact dwindles to just a card at Christmas, if that. I am now in a place where it's a bit easier to talk about my condition and my limitations, so I'm hoping to renew and repair these lost relationships - or maybe make some new ones.

Mark got home at about 9:30 - he visits his dad on Wednesdays, so those are always late days for him - and we settled in for the most recent episode of "The 4400" on TiVo. Then it's off to bed for working men. I'm usually up long past Mark, and tonight is no exception. I'll probably turn in after finishing this, which is actually a bit early for me. I have a doctor's appointment at 8:30am tomorrow, though, so I should try to get some sleep.

All in all, not a bad day. I have certainly had many more fun-filled days than this, but I've learned to appreciate just having a relatively pain-free day. I take each day as it comes, and try to set goals without having any expectations. I have days where I can play with my niece and nephew for hours, and I have days where I only make it out of bed to pee. I've had wonderful days on vacation with Mark, and I've had days where poor Mark has had to bathe and dress me. Some days will suck, but that just makes me appreciate the good days even more.

And today was a good day.

Find more videos like this on Illness-Disability-Healthcare-Caregiver Ministry Network