Saturday, November 17, 2007

Dogs policing wolves

I just can't let this one go. Many other haunting dreams I have shouldered through the day, a moment reminds me of an emotion in the dream and I'm back in, but bit by bit those have dissipated. Last night's though -- I might be able to use it in a plot.

Dogs were like people, walking upright, talking (English, no less!), and interacting as equals with people. Now, as this dream went on, I was variable characters. So at the beginning, I was a hunting dog, which is like the police, looking for the wolves on this huge university campus to exterminate them. The wolves had not become like people. They "chose" to remain animals, and would kill anything they could, whether for food or not.

Sometimes, I was myself, and friends with the hunting dog. So the hunting dog must be my dog Shiloh. Whenever I walked into a room, all the clocks in that room would automatically adjust to another time. In the beginning, it was quite annoying, but other things began to take my attention. I can't remember them well right now. Seems I was captured by a wolf, but Shiloh saved me. Other times, I was the wolf, thinking "they can't do this to me" kind of thoughts. "I'll get them back."

There was a debate or movie being filmed on campus. Only instead of the actors needing to know their lines, they were going to take video of the parts of the lines the actors had said and piece them together to make their lines. The magic of Hollywood only one step farther.

As they were filming, I met a girl who'd fallen in love with a wolf. We were going to look for the wolf, but there was some kind of force field zipping across the path we needed to take. We started to run through, but I chickened out, or maybe I got zapped. It was like I got hit in the head. The other girl got farther in. But I just lay down on the ground and either pretended I was dead (as in acting) or I rested.

"Connie!" I heard a voice. "What are you doing here?" It was Donna, my old office mate. She pulled at me to get me up out of the ditch, and I offered her an arm (I was thinking it would take people lifting with both my arms and both my legs to get me out of here.) But somehow, Donna got me out, and we went to breakfast in the cafeteria.

Breakfast was some kind of sausage rice soup, very unappetizing. As we ate, Donna said, "I tell the students they need breakfast, go eat breakfast, but this stuff is crap. We'll have to get with the cafeteria staff and educate them on better nutrition."

Below me, at the foot of my stool (which seemed a mile high) was a guy who seemed taken with me. He kept circling my stool. He was in good shape, but I wasn't really interested. Then I thought of something. Here's this wolf-dog-world and yet Donna and Robin and Alex and the others we were eating with were acting like we were in our normal world.

"Robin," I said. "Can you see the guy below my stool?" She didn't know what I was talking about. I looked around and picked out a very distinctly Grayhound gentleman who was entering the cafeteria. "Can you see that guy coming in just now?" None of my friends could see him. Then I realized. I was in two dimensions at the same time. There was nothing to do for it, but just go along and see what happens.

Toward the end, I went into a library to do research. While I was at the front desk, asking the librarian if she could identify some curios I had with me, a lady behind me said, "It's 4:20."

"No, it's not," the librarian said. "It's 9:30. I just checked." Then she looked at the clock behind her and it said "4:20." All the other clocks said "4:20" as well. People started filing out of the other rooms because 4:30 was closing time. The librarian looked at me as if I had done that, and dumped all my curios in the trash. (She had originally said they were trash.)

As we left the library, an acquaintance carrying a huge mock up of the book I made from these adventures starting telling me he wouldn't buy my book. I didn't care. The book looked like a sword & sorcery type book -- the title even seemed like it -- but I was satisfied that it was actually more science fiction (the only "magic" being the dimensional doubling and the evolution of dogs to people-like status.)

There's more, but I'll let it come as it will.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Long time no see

Okay, if you haven't heard from me in awhile, it's because I am writing! Writing, writing, writing! I've finished revising my book Spirit Reader. Then I put all my creative effort into creating a couple of Powerpoint presentations for a convention (at least 80 hours) and when that was done, I threw myself into preparing for the Fall term at CNM. Whew!

I have two online classes (fortunately, both are using the same shell) but on a new program -- Blackboard -- which ate up WebCT. AND because of the conference (MERLOT -- which has nothing to do with wine; it's Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online Teaching) I'm working on setting up a wiki for my face-to-face classes to use for group work, and I'm trying out Survey Monkey -- a free survey site my students can use for their research. By the way, why don't you pop on over and take my short survey?

Okay, gotta go. My puppy's at my knees, chomping on tennis ball, asking me to play fetch.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Another Dream

I, a young girl, found in a hotel I could fly and do all sorts of wonderful things, but mostly fly. I met a young man about my age who could do the same. At first we hid our truths from each other, but eventually we discovered them and we felt we were made for each other.

Our church group was going on a huge boat ride in a theme park. The boy and I found we could jump out of the boat and explore things at our luxury while the boat moved on. Usually, we'd catch up by flying back. But once, we lingered too long (the boy bought for me some bracelets and a bowl of chocolate) and we didn't know where the boat was. It was apparently on the other side of a small hill.

I couldn't carry everything and fly, so I gave the bracelets to the boy to carry while I had the bowl. The boy threw a bracelet into the air to help us fly higher -- we could "follow" the bracelet with our minds -- but the bracelet didn't even go as high as the ridge blocking the boat from our view. It would immediately fall back into the water. "We have to do something else," I said.

One of the denizens on the shore (strange looking creatures) suggested we ask Elmer. We said, "Who's Elmer?" Elmer was a skunk-looking mechanical creature who said to go down the stairs in the back of the Jack-in-the-Box store.

My friend the boy was carrying a blood-creature he had bought for himself -- it looked like a green mat that filled the shallow box and had six eyes on top.

We went down the stairs and found it to be a shortcut to where the boat was.

In a quiet moment, I asked the boy, "So tell me about yourself." He told me (without speaking -- I just knew) about the abuse he'd suffered as a boy, about the chaos of his family -- just like in mine. My heart grew really tender toward him and I hugged him. He was, I felt, my good friend.

Monday, June 4, 2007

The Guy who Played Jesus

I spent a good part of my night riding around the streets of a town on a minimal bicycle, which was little more than wheels, pole, and pedals. Good workout.

Then I was with a friend, and I got a wild idea. We went up the steps of a Catholic church, and plucked down the man who was playing the part of Jesus, dragged him into the church, upsetting a couple of priests. I spread the man out on the altar and began to pray, "Thank you, God, for sending your Son Jesus, whom this guy represents." It just felt so real. The reality of God's sacrifice. The priests were anxious, yelling, and then trying to bargain with me (We'll give you a special dispensation, they said. They were afraid I was going to actually sacrifice this guy. I'm not Catholic, I said. But my friend took the paperwork just to appease the priests.) Then we left before the police could get there.

After that, I was sort of on the run. I went to other churches, and actually saw the guy who had played Jesus there, but I hoped he didn't recognize me in my Sunday-going-to-church clothes. I couldn't stand the services, so I ended up leaving early, even walking by the guy who played Jesus, sitting on a big, beautiful, fat, sassy horse. (See, this guy was rich.) I thought, Jesus wouldn't be sitting on such a horse, since Jesus wasn't rich. His horse would be lean like he was. Yet, this man was lean.

Off to the side from the sidewalk, I saw varicolored leaves (red, yellow, green, purple) on the ground under a large grove of trees. There was a bit of snow and ice on top of the leaves, but their colors were showing through. I started digging my hands through the snow and ice to get to the leaves. I was on my hands and knees, moving from space to space, clearing the leaves with my passage of the snow and ice, just enjoying the nature.

When I came out on the other side, the man on the horse was talking to some other people (reporters?) and he said, "I won't ever play Jesus again." Not because of the danger from people like me, I gathered, but rather from the fact that I truly used him as a representative of Jesus, and he felt how wrong that was.

I pulled out my minimal bicycle and rode on.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Work Out

I need to work out more. When I go to bed after having spent much of the day at the computer, my legs want to stretch and I can't get comfortable.

I feel like I have worked out. During the day, in my writings, I jump from a cliff into a raging river, I travel miles across a desert, I go to a regular work out class (for assassins), I save lives, I run and hide . . . I feel like I've had a work out! But my mind's still running and working out when I go to bed and my legs stretch and stretch.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Coat

It all started with a swim meet, and a team from Iowa that traveled in a huge bus down to southern New Mexico. At first, I was a mom accompanying the team. The meet was over and I had a chance to swim.

So I jumped in and swam and swam and swam -- not wanting to end it. The other two swimmers (members of the team) were much faster and adept than I, but it didn't matter; I still had fun. (It occurred to me that I was so much better than I had ever been before. But still, why am I so slow? Oh, then I'd remember to kick my feet.) Then it was time to get ready to leave. The swimming pool was on a level at the top of a spire, and the next level down was wider and had more swimming pools. We looked over the edge and could see a kiddie pool filled with playing children. The girl swimmer next to me said something I couldn't catch, but at the end it sounded like "weenie." I bent down to pick up a piece of glass at our bare feet; the girl bent down as if to pick up a pebble, said it again, "This hotel is so sweeny," and jumped -- dived -- headfirst down into the kiddie pool. I thought she'd died -- I heard and felt two booms -- when she hit the water and when she hit the bottom.

Someone took a picture of it and posted it on the Internet and everyone knew about the stupid thing this girl did. But she was alive! And apparently unharmed. I told her I thought she was dead, and she spread her arms as if offering me to look -- not even a bruise. I retorted, "That doesn't mean anything. You can really deep bruises that don't show up for hours." Then we had to inform the coach, who was perhaps the ONLY person in the hotel who didn't know what happened. The girl was in trouble.

But she told everyone she had slipped or someone had pushed her. I kept my mouth closed, but had to decide whether I would lie with her or tell the truth -- what I saw -- when the time came. Surely they would ask me. But I liked the girl. Still I decided if and when the officials asked me I'd tell the truth. I figured the girl would be banned from any more swim meets, but oh well. She was a senior and this had been her last swim meet, anyway. Oh, and maybe she wouldn't be awarded the medals for her performance this meet.

So we all piled into the bus, which was more like a private RV. The guy driving was the owner, one of the dads. I was in the back, so I couldn't see the road signs as they came up. But I was able to point out things I like about New Mexico to the women and kids around me. At one point, we were sitting at a perfect vantage point to see the Sandias looming above us. I pointed out La Luz trail, told how high the mountain was in altitude, how high from the valley floor, etc. (The kids were listening with interest! Well, I guess if they were from Iowa . . .)

At some point, I realize that I'm seeing signs for some car dealership, and the signs look like regular highway signage. I go to the front and ask, "Are we lost?" No, says the navigating wife. No, says the driver. "Do we have a map?" I'm always needing to check a map. I love maps and rely on them. We don't have one.

Well, I don't think this is right. We're going into mountains, but the road is too wide, the curves too broad, for the type of road I expected for going over the pass. Sure enough, this "highway" is a dead end, luring unsuspecting travelers to a car dealership (Geo and Chevrolet). We stop at the end and work to turn the huge RV around. Everyone's disgusted with the deceit and without saying anything to the dealer, who's trying to get us to stay for awhile, we show our disgust with our expressions. So now we're going back the way we came. And I'm thinking of the correct road ahead and getting scared.

"I don't know," I tell the driver. "Maybe we need to reconsider this going over the pass." The road I know has hairpin turns -- ones I'm not sure this monster would be able to negotiate. I try to get the driver to take the long way around, using the freeways, but the driver assures me this baby can handle the turns. Well, okay. So we pick another road that seems like it. We go higher and higher in elevation and the road becomes dirt, then mud, and narrower and narrower, and I'm getting really scared, but there's no going back and no where to turn around.

We take a break next to railroad tracks. One of the women, the wife of the driver, has a bag of rails and for some reason she's shaking it, and the rails fall out, all over the tracks in the ground. And there's a train coming and we don't have time to pick up the rails, and we know it's going to cause the train to derail. We just barely have time to pile back into the RV.

A MAN comes to get us. No, that's not quite right. HE is going to come get us. In the meantime, we are to dress like we dress normally (actually, we gathered this meant with an entire outfit, including coats, gloves, etc.) And HE will tell us what we have to give up (in payment for causing the train's derailment?)

Now I left out the disjointed conversations going on in the back during our trip -- what was going to happen to the girl who dived into the kiddie pool, whether we should disguise ourselves (everyone was wearing a t-shirt with the team name on it) in case the whole world knows of this girl's stupidity and cover up our team name with jackets, etc. I had put aside my own jacket and another dad (a grandfather riding with us) had folded it and tied all the ties in firm knots.

Already, people are being called out, one by one. What they have to "give up" is usually little -- even as small as a thread -- and they place it on a flat open space at the front of the bus. But I have no idea of the significance of these things to the person having to give them up. They could be really, really important.

I am fumble-fingered at getting the knots on my folded jacket undone. And when I put on my glasses, they fall apart, and I'm having to put them on, piece by piece -- first the frames, oops, no, put the nose cushions on the frames first (people help me find those, and find a girl's lost earring in the process), and then pop the lenses in, and now I can see to untie the knots on my jacket.

I am acutely aware of the time passing, and my turn is coming up. What if I don't have my jacket on in time? What if I present myself not as I normally am? I am afraid. (Although the MAN is a shadowy figure like the Wizard of Oz was behind the curtain, it feels like HE is God and can do anything to us.)

Then it happens. Boone, my son, refuses to put his coat on. "I made him wear that for killing Olade," my husband says. I am aghast. But not completely in denial. Boone goes before the MAN without his coat on -- exposed. And I hear, like a whisper in the wind, I forgive him the sin. It felt like Boone was rejecting the identity that wearing the coat would mean. And because he rejected it and opened himself up even more, he received more than any of the rest of us.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Big Pepsi Machine Incident

Note -- apparently the ampersand (that little symbol above the 7 on your keyboard) is not allowed. So I am using the plus sign instead. Sorry, A+S professors.

I'm taking Reading 100 online as a student in preparation for teaching it online. One of the assignments is to find 10 vocabulary words that I don't know or am not sure about and look up their definitions and use them in my own sentences. Ehrenreich's 221-page book netted me a total of eleven words I didn't know the definition of for sure. Some of the words were ones that I had seen before but just never really looked up (like "chartreuse" and "apotheosis") but there were some I had NEVER seen before -- words like "postprandial," "cineast," and "hortatory." All this looking up the words reminds me of the Big Pepsi Machine Incident.

First you gotta know the situation at work. I work for the Division of Educational and Career Advancement at CNM (Central New Mexico Community College). ECA is only the third name for where I work. It used to be call "Prep," because the classes taught there are preparatory to college. Then when I was hired, it was called Developmental Education, in contrast to the Adult Ed Dept. that taught Basic Literacy, GED Prep and ESL. Then the two departments were merged to form the Department of Adult and Developmental Education, or DADE. So at the time of the Pepsi Machine Incident, we had teachers who taught everything from the alphabet to high-school-level math and English. Our full-timers' offices occupied the south wing of the fifth floor of Max Salazar.

On the other side of the building, in the north wing, were the Arts and Sciences professors' offices. The A+S professors tend to think they are better educated than we (not true) and more intellectual than we (may be true). In the center of the building was a teachers' lounge, with tables to sit at, microwaves, refrigerators and sink -- in essence, a breakroom.

One day, a huge Pepsi machine appeared in the teachers' lounge. Oh, boy, was the reaction of my colleagues in DADE. Now we don't have to go down to the soda machines on the third floor.
But just as quickly, email complaints -- addressed to ALL DADE and ALL A+S -- spread like wildfire through the ether.

How crass! the emails complained. How commercial. The teachers' lounge was our refuge from the crass and commercial world, and now we can't get away from it. It's just so, so . . . intrusive. (These emails, by the way, seemed to come mostly from the A+S teachers.) It ruins the decor of the breakroom. (Decor?)

We laughed and shot emails back, at first trying to point out the positive, explaining that the machine's proximity is at least a nice thing for all the secretaries of our two departmental offices -- now they can run for a soda without taking a whole break. And now we wouldn't be dependent on the machines downstairs that tend to run out about mid-morning. And besides, isn't it a material world?

In response to each positive email, someone else added their own negative perspective, and the complaints built in passion and fury. Finally someone on our side wrote, "Sheesh. Take a Prozac." Someone else responded, "That's not funny." And he went on to describe his son who's depressed and has to take Prozac just to stay on an even keel. And we laughed. Not at his son, but at the all the professorial solipsism that seemed to say, Everything we do is important; how we feel is important; why won't anyone listen?

And we laughed.

But the pinnacle of this email exchange occurred with the English chair of A+S writing about this "corybantic moil." I don't even know what that means! my colleagues laughed. So we got out the dictionary and looked it up. So there you have it. A+S professors are better than we DADE teachers because we don't understand the words they use. That was the last time I looked up the definition of some vocabulary in the dictionary (short of thesaurus sorties for my writing) until this Reading 100 class. (But I tell you what -- I don't think I'll ever use "corybantic moil" in honest discourse.) And if you want to know what it means, look it up!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Nickel and Dimed

I've been reading Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed for awhile lately. (The subtitle is On (Not) Getting By in America.) My big question when I started it was how did she continue to work at minimum wage (I'd understood she'd tried this experiment of working for minimum wage for a whole year)? Did she quit as soon as she was offered a raise? Did she do a half-assed job so she wouldn't be given a raise?

On the back of the book, Studs Terkel (whoever he is) crows ". . . Nickel and Dimed is a stiff punch in the nose to those righteous apostles of 'welfare reform.' . . ." Well, I guess I'm one of those righteous apostles of "welfare reform." Having grown up in the South Valley, where there are many wonderful people, but also a great number of generational welfare recipients, I could easily see how welfare, as it was, quenched any self-reliance spirit in people.

I'm almost done with her third and final location. Haven't gotten into the evaluation, but I can see how things are going. If you go into something with an attitude, you're going to find all kinds of things to reinforce that attitude. For example, my husband is a "the glass is half empty" kind of guy, while I'm more "the glass is half full." Each of us constantly find things to reinforce our stances and miss the things that go against our attitudes (even when we are both looking at the exact same thing!) So yeah, Ehrenreich is finding all kinds of obstacles against her success, seeing the filth and negative about her without seeing the positive.

In her first location, she worked one partial day at the motel housekeeping job she'd been trying to get and when her other job (waitressing) had "the perfect storm" (which does happen) she'd had enough and walked out. I can't blame her for that, but the chapter says nothing more about her housekeeping job. We just know that her first day was also her last day. In a footnote, she mentions the motel later advertising the housekeeping work as paying $9.00 an hour, she checked it out and found out they were paying per room instead of $6.00 per hour as before. The per hour arrangement encouraged people to work more slowly to take more time and make more money. People making $9.00/hour were busting butt to get more done in less time (which is really the enterprising way).

So she made some bad decisions. If she HAD truly been "poor," she could have maybe learned from them and used what she learned to improve her lot. She couldn't live off of a waitress's $2.15/hour plus tips, during the off season in Florida, so she had to get another job. She got a second job that paid $6.00/hour. But fatigue (in trying to handle both jobs) got in the way of her ability to deal with the more stressful job. So she walks out on BOTH OF THEM? What if she had stayed with that housekeeping job, started making the same amount, but in less time? Then she would have had more time to look for a better job. Instead, this was the abrupt end of that particular experiment.

In her second location in Maine, she was working for a maid service and seemed to be doing okay financially. What was getting to her was the downtrodden state of her coworkers. It didn't so much bother them as it bothered her. She hated that they wanted to please their boss and do a good job. And the juxtapositioning of "servant poor" with "master rich" bugged her royally.

I have never had a maid clean my house although at some point, my husband wanted us to hire out that work. The thing is I would clean my house for my maid to come clean. I relate too much with the working poor. They are my roots; I am a part of them. And nothing is wrong with getting your hands dirty cleaning up your own messes.

But this is what gets me. Ehrenreich saw everything in terms of economic class. I did help a friend clean some houses. The people whose houses I cleaned had much nicer houses than mine. Sure, they were richer than I (I guess.) But I didn't see them as being in a different class. They just had more money than I. But Ehrenreich was always aware of herself as "actually a highly educated person, a PhD, in fact" who was pretending to be lower class. She always wondered if anyone would blow her cover -- like you can recognize a PhD by her carriage. And when at the end of this episode, she "came out," it was anticlimactic. It seems she expected everyone to react as if she had managed to cross the demilitarization zone in the night and spied on the "other side." The ladies just saw her as another person. (They should have realized she wasn't one; she was just pretending to be one.)

Interestingly enough, she got a raise while working in the service. So yeah, she quit right after getting the raise.

Just a note: I really enjoy Ehrenreich's writing. She has a nice style with just enough hard words to challenge me -- about one every 20-30 pages. (Hmm, guess I'm not PhD material.) But as you can tell, I don't agree with her politics, nor with her cynical outlook on life and the world. I feel sorry for her.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Danger, Danger!

Where, I ask you, is the absolute worst place a dog can lift his leg and direct his pee?

You might think into someone's food, and yeah, that's pretty bad, but I'm talking worst, as in potential for damage.

How about a live outlet?

This morning I'm just getting started on my computer work, and I hear a hissing sound behind me. I turn to see Tanker lifting his leg against our entertainment center. The pee is falling directly on a multiple outlet "surge protector" plugged into our TV, VCR, and game system. I yell at Tank, he runs, I dash over to the surge protector and it's humming. Oh, oh. Quick, I push the switch (oooh, pee). Then I feel safe enough to unplug it, unplug all the cords, clean it, plugs, floor, cabinet, and spray them with enzyme stuff, so the dogs don't smell urine and have to put their own mark down. Now I have the surge protector upside down, draining.

Of course when I yelled at him, Tanker ran, and I made him go outside. But I have no idea why all of a sudden he would do that. And there! I just thank God I was here when it happened.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

We've got DSL!! Da-da-d-dah-dah. (Doing the DSL dance.) Da-da-d-dah-dah.

You know how slow dialup can be? Well, supposedly it runs 56.8 kps through the line at a time. Except in my situation where we have a split phone line so that we can have two computers online at the same time, or a computer and the phone. (There are four computers in my household.) So whatever I get is being fed to my computer at 28.4 kps. That's why I don't ever open up photos friends send me, or funny videos, or anything intensive like that at home. I save it for work, which isn't a guarantee. I swear our computers at work were slower than my dialup last week!

During my break, I was working on a self-paced online class to learn our new WebCT. It's real fortunate it was self-paced. I'd click on a page and go get me some coffee or go brush my teeth while it loaded. The benefit was I had a good idea of how my own classes come across for those of my students who have dialup. But I think I got the idea now.

My son is a gamer and has been frustrated with our dialup situation. First, he definitely can't play any real time games online. Second, we were always battling for line time. You could hear the plaintive cry "Are you online?" at any time of the day or night -- Mike asking Boone, Shelli asking me, Boone asking Shelli, Mike asking Shelli, Boone asking me, me asking Mike . . . Last week, Boone brought up the possibility of getting hi-speed Internet, for the umpteenth time. Short of getting an expensive satellite setup, we couldn't, we explained (for the umpteenth time). The DSL access stopped just short of our road.

"No, we do have access," Boone said. "I just checked." Come to find out, this was the DAY after access to our road was opened up. It took about a week for all the kinks to be worked out, but what a difference. I don't have to worry about who's online! I don't have to time my online time so that our satellite can have the phoneline for downloading the programming information. Whoo-hoo!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

My To Do List

Here are the "jobs" I want to accomplish today.
1. Burn the paper trash.
2. Wash a load of darks.
3. Wash dishes.
4. Clean the bathrooms.
5. Create a "Syllabus Search" exercise for my two classes tomorrow.
If I have more time, I'd like to
6. Vacuum the living room and bathroom.
7. Sweep the kitchen.
8. Mop the kitchen and sections of the great room.

Now this looks like an innocuous little list, but let me tell you what some of those jobs involve. 2. Washing the load of dark clothes means that I pour the five five-gallon buckets full of rinse water into the washing machine before adding the detergent and clothes. In addition, it means draining bucket by bucket of wash water from the washing machine when it's finished with the wash cycle, and carrying those buckets to the bathroom to pour into the larger bucket. Then when that water is drained, it means pouring 12 to 16 gallons of water from gallon jugs, two by two, into the washing machine for the rinse cycle. Then draining that water, bucket by bucket, and pouring it into the five five-gallon buckets to save for the next load of clothes. Then the rest of the process (drying and folding) is the normal process.

3. Wash dishes means I pour 2 to 3 gallons of water into a stock pot from the gallon jugs and heat it up on the stove. Then I pour that water into the sink tubs, make suds, and hand wash the dishes, letting them drain in the dishwasher. The leftover dishwashing water gets used for flushing the toilet.

So I guess I'd better get started.

My Mother's Day

Mom is getting married tomorrow! And she's giddy as a school girl. Well, no, I'm giddy as a school girl.

She laughed when she told me over the phone that he's younger than she is -- by a few months. So they will both be 72 this year when their birthdays roll around. I'm so happy for her.

To be fully honest, after the shock of Dad's death wore off, I was happy for her. I love my dad, who really was my stepdad, but he raised me and my sister like we were his own children, but after we kids had left the nest, he became so dependent on my mom. He didn't want her to have a job; instead, he wanted her to ride around with him on his jobs. He resisted her getting into any interest of her own. She wanted to join the Sweet Adelines, a chorus group, for example. At that time, my dad had the excuse that the younger kids still needed her to be home in the evenings (but I think it was he who needed her.) After awhile, she just gave up trying to have a life of her own.

When she worked, she had a life separate from home. She had friends at work. But her needing to work to help pay the bills really hurt Dad in the ego, I think. And when they had to move, Dad made sure she didn't get another job. Dad was 12 years older than Mom, and as people tend to do when they get older, became more and more opinionated and narrow-minded. Mom wasn't there yet.

Once Mike and I visited Mom and Dad in their Silver City home. Mom and I had gone to spend the day with "the aunts" in Cliff, and Mom had left fixings for lunch in the refrigerator. Mike said the hour got late and he was hungry, but Dad just said, "Wanda will take care of that when she gets home." Finally, Mike pulled out the sandwich fixings and made himself (and Dad) some sandwiches. He was laughing about it when he told me about it. Funny thing is that Mike will do the same thing nowadays.

If I'm not home (for example, when I'm at a conference) Mike will forget to make himself a lunch and he'll go hungry all day. He just gets into the habit of relying on me. It's not that he can't cook for himself, but because I'm the one who buys the groceries and does most of the cooking, Mike doesn't even know what we have to cook with. (What gets me is he'd rather wait for me to get home than go into the various storage containers containing leftovers in the refrigerator.)

Back to Mom. Tomorrow, in a small ceremony, she'll marry Don Landmire (I hope I got that name right). Too bad it wasn't like a week ago. This last week I had "free." But tomorrow is the first day of our summer term classes. Oh, well, I'll be thinking of her and at least celebrating mentally for her.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Weird Weather

The grass was high enough that I had to mow (again). But first, I did a little work on the pond. As I worked, the clouds gathered and darkened. And by the time I was ready to mow the grass with my little push mower, it was snowing! I just stayed out there in my t-shirt and sweatpants for awhile and mowed anyway. So I was mowing while it was snowing.

Then it stopped snowing and the clouds cleared away. Then it started snowing again -- in the sunlight! It's spit snow off and on all day. But it's not cold! Just, at the worst, about 45 degrees. And everything's green outside. I love it.

Plastic People

"Oh, I wanna be a plastic person!" I exclaimed.

I won't tell you what all led up to this part of my dream. Suffice it to say, it was a travel dream. I had gotten together with one of my students and we had made a flying trip somewhere north and back again. Since we had one extra day, we decided to drive down to Socorro for a seminar that would pay her (she was trying to make extra money or get a better job.) The trips for me were both fun and instructive.

Somehow we met up with some of her friends who wanted to go to Socorro, too. We were taking my car, but she was driving. My friend was wearing an earthy hippy-ish top with little red tassels. Then her friends were a beautiful black girl and a guy (I think he was white). Not knowing their names, we're just going to have to go with those distinguishing phrases when I refer to them.

We were looking for the nearest Loewe's for something before we got out of town, and we were in a part of town I didn't know. (None of us knew.) It was on the southern edge of the city. We were driving on what seemed like the "Loop" around Lubbock, TX, and from that high way I saw a new theme park (which I had seen before -- in my dreams?) Anyway, it was early in the morning and huge "plastic" people were walking out to their stations.

The biggest feature of this theme park was a huge loop-de-loop of "slide" -- except it wasn't to slide on. Instead, the slide was more level and these plastic people arranged themselves in settings. There were two kinds of plastic people -- those that were all white -- covered with a coating of white so that every part of them is white (kinda like the Blue Man Group being plasticized in blue) -- and those that are in regular color but their clothes have the sheen of being plastic like they are huge toys. The white ones get into statuesque-in-the-park positions.

So anyway, these people are walking all around us -- knights, kings, queens, kids blowing bubbles, etc. to get to their positions. One all-white guy practically climbs over the hood of my little car. I blurt out, "Oh, I wanna be a plastic person!" but knew that was ridiculous. We drive a bit more and realize that we are actually on a plastic slide and now we need to decide where to go (turn left, turn right? how to get out of here? either direction had people we could mow down) because we are facing a woman who needs to be where we are. That's when we realize that somehow we had driven onto the feature. At the same instant, the people in charge of the display realized they had a car out there.

A (not-plastic) man with a clipboard ran out to us and made us get out of the car. Then they decided, since there wasn't time to get the car down, they'd use the car as part of their display. It was small; it would work.

"What are they going to do with us?" we whispered to each other. We were in an internal hallway, waiting for our "punishment." As we wait, I look out the huge south-facing windows and in the sky, I see a replica of my friend's blouse being made in plastic. It's just like the blouse appeared bit by bit and a huge hand squeezed it out.

A woman came breezing up and said, "I'm so sorry. This all was my fault. I was late." I gathered from that that we had come upon the feature just as the gates were open and we had taken her place and the gate didn't know any different, so it allowed us in. "I'll be in the next batch," she said and settled down to wait with us.

My friends were wondering what the plastic people did and I told them it was like manikin modeling, where you dress up in clothes a store wants to sell and stand in the window like a manikin, unblinking. These people get into poses and hold them while the crowd surges around them.

"I did manikin modeling, once," I bragged. "It's funny. The people walking by often don't even know you're real. The kids usually realize it and try to make you blink."

"Yeah, no blinking."

"I managed for five minutes."

"This is for fifty minutes."

Oh, my goodness! Not to move for fifty minutes? Not even blink? I didn't know it was even possible. Surely, they'd blink surreptitiously.

Thinking of the plastic blouse version of the blouse my friend was wearing, I said, "I think they're going to use us."

"Be an exaggerated version of yourself," we were told. "Aging and worried? Let the wrinkles show. . . ." I took that last to mean me.

I bet we'd get paid a lot, which was good for my friend and her friends. (They had all been needed some kind of job to help with the finances.)

Sure enough, my friend was escorted one direction and the remaining three of us followed the late woman to the "showers" where we stood and turned to be sprayed with a plastic covering. It made my joints harder to move so I walked Frankenstein-like. I briefly saw my friend in her plastic clothes. Her cheeks were painted red and the way they put up her hair, she looked like a doll, a huge life-sized doll.

I was trying to figure out what my pose would be when I looked up and saw, flying through the sky, as if he had been launched from the theme park, a huge fat baby with a blanket. I could see where the baby ended up (he didn't "land" -- he still hovered facing the theme park, cross-legged in the sky above some buildings) and he took out a cigarette and started smoking it. He looked pissed. I thought he must have lost his job and we replaced him.

They gave us a meal, but I was too nervous to be hungry. Besides, I worried that sitting down to eat would wipe some of that plastic off my backside, and how would that look? They assured me the plastic was dry now, but I still didn't eat.

When I woke up, I was still worrying about whether I could stay still and unblinking for fifty minutes, what my pose would be, and what the man pretending to be a baby would do.

The part about the manikin modeling that I did was really true. I did a five-minute stint at a little boutique in a mall. At that time I wore hard contact lenses and in the five minutes, they dried out. I had to be very careful closing my eyes for my first blink so they wouldn't pop out. Now, since I've had lasik surgery, I think it would be a bit easier. But it was a challenge and lots of fun to see the kids point out to their parents that we were "real" and the parents look more closely and jump when they realized it was true.

Friday, May 4, 2007

The Worst Job in the World

I think I've just discovered the worst job in the world. Hair transplant surgeon. Here's what happens (as described by John Stossel in Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity) -- a hole is dug in the bald area of the scalp, then a patch of skin is taken from a hairy part of the head (sides, back) and "planted" into the spot. Imagine! Hair by hair! Operation after operation. Stossel describes a woman who's getting ready to go back for another round. She already has 240 hairs transplanted. Stossel says it looks like a tree farm.

So now imagine what the doctor feels like in the tedium of transplanting hair follicles, one at a time. Ick.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Meaning of a Name

Wow, it's been awhile (almost a whole month) that I haven't posted. Does knowing that I've been --
1. finishing up my spring term, with finals, grading (all-day portfolio exchange grading), paperwork, cleaning up my office;
2. then planning for my classes next term, "migrating" my online classes to a new software (WebCT has become Blackboard), planning for a new teacher class for the Fall;
3. then the usual house-cleaning that gets neglected close to the end of every term, plus springtime gardening (I'm digging/building a pond -- but then I've been doing that for seven years, now);
4. and getting started back on revising my first book and writing my second novel
-- excuse my neglect? I guess I'm lucky I got back here at all!

You may have noticed that while the title of my blog site is Tijeras Snow, my address is tijeras-snowcuts. I'd like to explain that. I might have gotten away with tijeras-snow and it would have been easier to remember, but here's the deal. I really wanted "snowcuts." That's because I cut snowflakes that have silhouettes in them. While "Tijeras" is where my post office abides (I actually live many miles south of Tijeras, in a subdivision called Tranquilo Pines, near a village named Yrisarri) the word "tijeras" also means "scissors" in Spanish. Pretty handy, huh?

Since people have discovered my snowflakes, I've been asked to make snowflakes of Jazzercise, buffalo, field hockey (for a lady whose daughter played field hockey), flowers, and swans. I take a request as a challenge.

Anyway, I'm posting a couple of my snowflakes, so you know what I mean. The blue-backed snowflake was one I did of "ratites," which are flightless birds, for a woman who writes for a ratite magazine. This flake, containing ostriches (the largest figure), emus, and kiwis, was the most difficult I've done.


This is one of my favorites, birds decorating a Christmas tree.


And finally, here's a spider on a web that I did for Halloween.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

An Easter Collage


The grave is empty!
May you have a beautiful (if snowy) Easter.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Stupid Commercials

I am amazed at how stupid commercials can be. Or maybe they think we are that stupid? Like the one for Boniva. Sally Fields says, "My friend tells me she has to set aside time once a week to take her [bone strengthening medicine.]" (I put the brackets because I don't remember her exact words at that point, but that was the meaning.)

And I think, oh my goodness! How much time does it take to pop a pill?

Of course, Boniva's draw is that you only have to take it once a month. Let me tell you, I'm so impressed by the benefit of having to take a pill once a month rather than once a week. I could save at least four minutes. Enough time to . . . oh, I don't know, hang up my jacket -- which I haven't been able to do for months, because the truth is, I have to set aside time every day to take my vitamins. Wow, if I had Boniva, my jacket wouldn't have all this cat hair on it. Think I'll go to my doctor and ask for this wonderful medicine.

But what really gets me is how much this commercial probably cost. It was clearly professionally done, and with Sally Fields -- well, sure, as an aging star, she's available, but I doubt she's cheap -- the commercial probably cost several thousand dollars to create. And then how much it costs to run on cable/satellite shows is -- wow, I just don't know. But I do know that Sally Fields gets paid royalty every time it shows on TV.

With that much money put into it, you would think the creators would make something much more clever and creative, and you would think the executives of the company that sells Boniva wouldn't sign off on this drivel. It's no Superbowl commercial.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Wow, what a week -- what a couple of weeks

I woke up singing God's praises. Wish I could remember the song -- I did for a bit, but it dissipated as I did my morning routine. I remember the dream but it's way too complicated to put down in words. To simplify a bit, a very prominent artist owned an island and drew young people to it where they could engage in any kind of immoral act they wanted. Then the artist "got religion" -- accepted Christ, and continued to draw young people to his island where they praised God. As I woke up, I was walking down the path from the house, and spontaneously singing God's praises (like one of those old musicals where someone breaks out into song.)

Mike's back!

My husband is back in the evenings. That's the good news. The bad news is he lost his second job.

His boss accused him of stealing about $200-worth of gasoline from him. The boss show him the bill and asked why there were extra purchases on the gas card that Mike hadn't accounted for in the company vehicle. Mike -- who pretty much didn't like the boss to start with and was really tired and out of patience from the weeks before -- just shrugged his shoulders and said, "I didn't do it." Because he didn't try to explain anything (what's there to explain? He had no way of knowing why those charges showed up on the bill), he got fired.

Later Mike remembered when he lost the card assigned to him. He had searched the truck, couldn't find it, so called his company immediately (as expected.) They had canceled the card and gave him another one. He did find the original card, but that one had been canceled.

So yesterday when he had all day to fume over being fired, he remember that when the company gave him the new card, they said it was a copy and it was sometimes used by the in-town drivers to fill up their vehicles. They were going to get him a card dedicated to him, but they never did. Mystery solved. Mike's still out of a job. He's not even sure he's going to mention the solution to the mystery to his previous employers.

Since he's been home, I've been there to listen to him. Boy, he had a lot to say last night. But that means less blogging!

So here I was praying that God would somehow help us with our temporary money situation. In planning to go to Seattle next week, I overspent my grocery budget by about $50. (My trip is the end part of the pay week. Since I won't be here to buy whatever we run out of, I tried to make sure that we wouldn't run out of anything.) Then we had two vehicles break down and had to pay for repairs last weekend. So I canceled my appointment with Larry Marrich, my chiropractor, because we didn't have the money. (I felt okay, so thought the last adjustment could last awhile. But I'm still hoping I can get in to him before my trip.) Then Mike had an appointment to get his teeth cleaned (which he hated because he had to take leave from his second job, so he lost the money he would have been paid without taking leave) and had to have a tooth pulled. The visit cost him $75. And then I'm going to need money for the trip. Of course, I'll get reimbursed for much of it, but we gotta have it to start with.

My praying God would help us with our money situation didn't seem to help. Then when Mike lost his second job, I wondered if there was a message in there somewhere. We can slow down on paying off our bills. I had been worried about Mike's health and emotions -- the stress on him. Now he can slow down a bit. Now he has some socialization (with me). Now he has a chance to get some stuff done at home that he's been needing to do.

I became worried when two weeks ago, Shelli had an accident. She rear-ended a woman who was stopped in a merging lane around a curve in Santa Fe. It wasn't a big deal -- just basically a fender-bender, but Shelli jammed one of her toes (she'd been wearing flip-flops and one slipped off when she hit the brakes) and wasn't sure if it was broken. She drove herself to the hospital, and Mike who was just about finished with his second route was willing to take over her route for her while she dealt with red-tape, etc.

Mike (Shelli) had a deadline at the airport. By 9:00 p.m., he had to be there to deliver some package from some bank up in Los Alamos. He was proud of himself that he made it there on time (just barely) but then he realized that he had forgotten to stop at the bank (it was a once a week stop that he had forgotten)! So he had to drive all the way back to Los Alamos (his 4th? time that day) and pick up the package. He made it home about 2:00 and, of course, had to get up at 4:00 for his own route.

Being sleep deprived has a domino effect on couriers. Mistakes on the route means backtracking, which means tighter time schedules and more chances of mistakes. The next morning as Mike was headed to work, he ran a red light. (It was 5:30 in the morning, there was no traffic, the light was green for people going straight on, but Mike wanted to turn left, and the left turn signal had a red arrow.) He went anyway, and then when strobes flashed behind him, he realized this was one of those red-light cameras. It carries a $100 fine. Then he got two speeding tickets, which Mike turns into $$$. And of course, being stopped and issued the citations eats up the time a courier has.

It took Mike several days to shake off the effects of being sleep deprived. In the meantime, he had hours of alone time to think, and being tired, he fell into old thought habits, mentally chewing on the things that bugged him.

So I was worried. Now Mike can slow down. Maybe he can get as much rest as he needs and deserves. Maybe we can get some work done at home. Shelli is also concerned. The number of miles she puts in (750 to 1000 miles a week) means that her chances of getting into an accident are extremely high. She wants another job because she doesn't want to take the chance of dying in an accident.

Money's still an issue, but I'm so glad Mike's home in the evenings.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Twenty-three Hour Day

I need a 23-hour day. I'm really better off with 7 to 7 1/2 hours of sleep than 8 hours. (It's in that last 30 minutes that I have all the dreams, so I'm really ready to wake up.) When I go to bed at 7 or 7:30, I am ready to wake up around 2:30-3:00. I have my alarm set for 3:30, so I usually make myself stay in bed for the last half hour.

Why not just get up and get things done, you ask? (Yeah, right.) Most people would actually ask why don't you just go to bed later? The answer for both questions is the same. Because I'm so d---n tired in the evening that I'm just waiting around to go to bed. I try. I tell myself if I can just make it to 8:00 (for example) on a Friday night, I can watch the new episode of Monk. And I've actually stayed up that late (!) but couldn't last through Monk (much as I like the show.)

Of course, the fact that I am virtually alone most evenings (no one but my cats and dogs around) doesn't help. I can't think well enough to write -- my mind is just all anumb. I tried getting on here and writing my blog last night, but just didn't feel like writing. And if I can't think well enough to write, you bet I can't grade papers. I straighten up the kitchen, but don't do any heavy labor. I feed and water the cats and dogs and clean up any messes. And that's about it.

So there I am -- half interested in whatever show is on, unable to get myself interested in reading a book at this point, just waiting to go to bed! I hate waiting.

As a kid, I hated Sunday afternoons. Those were when all the adults took a nap, and we kids had to be quiet. (We were supposed to be taking a nap, too, but whether we actually slept or not was up to us.) It was just wait and bide my time. Wait and wait and wait.

I've had many episodes in my life like that. I remember counting the slats on the side of my grandparents' car port in Mesa, Arizona. My sister and I lived with our grandparents at the time. But at their house, a kid couldn't really play. My grandma had plastic covering her living room furniture, for Pete's sake! And we could sit on it only on Sundays. Even outside, the grass was neatly manicured and the flower beds leaf perfect. Granny had some snapdragons and I snapped them until they lost their snap and just dangled. So finally, I divised this "game" of counting the slats. I'd walk along and touch each one as I counted. And when I got to the end, I'd turn around and keep counting, going back and forth for hours.

The point is sleep became my sweet relief. The evenings here aren't nearly as bad as my childhood, but that's because I'm an adult and can do what I want! And often what I want is to just go to bed. So I did last night -- BEFORE 7:00! And darn it, I was ready to go this morning at 2:50. This is just weird.

It makes parties difficult to go to -- or anything in the evenings. But then I'm not much of a party person, so -- oh well.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Crossing the Cliff

I didn't want to wake up. It was only the crashing of Shiloh against my bedroom door as she chased the cats that got me out of bed. And of course, I had three piles of poop to clean up because I had slept so late. All because I wanted the dream to continue.

It started with my sister and I driving in a small car on a mountain trail (and I mean trail, not road) along the side of a cliff. My sister was driving too fast and lost control of the car. We fell out and some rocks landed on my sister's arm. The car, thankfully, didn't fall into the water below the cliff. It landed on another trail that was girdling the cliff lower down.

While I was taking the rocks off my sister's arm, some other cars happened by on the trail below. The first car just went by ours. But the people in the second car stopped and got out. Their plan was to push it over the edge and later come back to salvage it. But someone stopped them from doing that, and we were able to reclaim our car. My sister drove more carefully after that, although we were in some sort of competition with the people in the other cars and the sooner we could get across the cliff without falling into the water, we would win. After awhile, though, our efforts were more geared toward just getting to the finish line.

Because I actually woke up, turned over, then fell back into the dream, the transitions are spotty. So bear with me.

I had been through several of these competitions. I could see the cliff like a map in my mind, with my path marked in red, zigzagging across that cliff, up, then down, across, then down, then up. Then another path in green, and another path . . . many attempts.

At one point, my dad was driving us (the family?) in an SUV. We were driving cross country, and the highway was so crowded with other vehicles, motorcycles, trucks, cars, even runners! We had to go our speed without hitting anyone.

We moved from mountainous highway to wide open valley road, in the land of my mother's parents. My mother told us about the last time she was here, she actually got us ahead in the race by using an airplane.

"Where did you take off from?" I asked, thinking there were no airports out here.

She said, "Down highway XXX a few miles, then turn right. There's a big abandoned warehouse/dairy. I radioed I would be taking off from the road that leads to it."

So I imagined my mom piloting the small airplane, it dragging our SUV behind it, and finally getting enough power to lift off with the SUV. . . our getting high over the valley and crossing the highway filled with travelers. I wished we could do it again, but this time, we didn't have an airplane. So there we were dodging the cyclists, runners, other vehicles, and rush, rush, rushing.

Then I was alone and back at the cliff. I'd ditched the car and was just working my way across by rock climbing, using my arm strength most of the time. And apparently, I'd done very well for myself. I had several certificates of winning with me.

Now I was at a new cliff (farther downriver?). I paddled around in the water below the cliff. There was another competition, but this one was for children.

"Ladies and gentlemen," I heard the announcer say, "We have some experienced competitors." Apparently, they had already started the event. The order the competitors normally left in was more experienced to less experienced so that the slower ones wouldn't be run over by the faster ones. But they thought all the competitors were new to the event, and they'd already started it when they discovered this problem.

But come to find out, the two little kids HAD been in such a competition before, but not the same event. They had competed with something like little motor scooters, similar to the adults' using cars, but their scooters had broken down and they had been unable to even finish the course. When the referees found this out, they figured the kids were not experienced, and were fine going second.

Across from me, on the cliff was a grid of something like grocery carts on hinges. Inside each was the certificates of the competitors. Upon each pair of competitors' starting the race, the announcer would read the certificates and announce the competitors.

I was next to these two kids' mom, who stood anxiously waiting for the referees to get their stuff together and start her kids on their race.

Actually, I wanted to go find a race for myself, but I was curious how these two little boys would do. They were about seven years old, and quite cute. So I swam around, up and down the river, waiting for the kids to complete their course. When they were started on the race, I was amazed at the helicopters and aircraft that kept pace with each team. It's for safety, I realized, but we adults didn't have anywhere near the same thing.

At one point, I swam back and asked the mom how the kids were doing. She said she didn't know yet, but she did want me to hang around for the awards. She had seen my certificates and thought I deserved to be introduced to the crowd because I was a winner in a similar event. I didn't mind the recognition.

There was a little stage with a curtain, and the kids were put on the stage to get their awards. After the kids got their awards, I was asked to wait behind the curtain, but the MC couldn't get the curtains velcroed together apart, so I went around to the front and was introduced to the crowd. The two little kids whose race I'd followed suddenly got a look of awe on their faces and hero worship.

I took a moment with them and told them, "Make peace with the water. Out there, you're alone with Everything -- water, rock, and air. Enjoy it." Then I swam downriver looking for another competition I could enter.

Even while I was dreaming this dream, I was aware that the water meant my spiritual life. But it seems the cliff, and being high up on the cliff -- as in the air -- has some symbolism as well.

The pathway or roadway is the path of life. And I guess I do take it as a competition. Not so much to WIN, but just to accomplish. Like my therapist once said, I'm a human doing, rather than a human being. I'm not satisfied with paddling around in the river. I've got to be trying for the finish line. Going too fast, however, will get me in trouble.

I don't know what it all means, or if it means anything, but I sure felt comfortable with myself.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Singing My Praises

I've been going through a spell of doing nothing. Other than work (which I admit tends to be substantial since I'm teaching an overload and one of my classes is a time-intensive online class) I've been doing very little. Every evening when I get home, I'd just sit and watch TV for my two or three hours before bedtime. Even when I'd get up after eight or nine hours of sleep, I'd feel tired.

Then on the weekends, I'd take a couple of naps each day and watch TV (around my required shopping and dish-washing and meal-cooking.) I'd blame my laziness on my back. I'd try to take walks, but my lower back and left hip would ache and ping so that I'd finally give up and limp home. But it also seemed the more I lay around, the worse my back hurt.

Then toward the end of 2006, in trying to use up my medical account (I'd miscalculated what we would need, and we still had a couple of thousand dollars to use up) I went to the doctor for my back.

"Why didn't you say anything about your back before?" he asked. After all, I had been there a couple of times in the preceeding months for other complaints, and I had just told him I'd been having this problem with my back for about a year. I explained that my pain wasn't constant, and I always thought that I'd just pulled my back, that all I had to do was figure out what I'd done to reinjure it and avoid that activity. (Of course, lifting and carrying five-gallon buckets full of water didn't help.) But as time went on, it seemed like I could do nothing -- just take a step -- and reinjure it. And the pain lasted longer, shooting down my leg at times, and keeping me awake. I told him I thought my sciatica was pinched.

Well, you know how doctors are. They don't want to hear your diagnosis. They want to hear the symptoms and then tell you their diagnosis (which often is the exact same thing you thought!) "IF your sciatica is pinched, we can do something about that," he said, in a tone that implied, "You should have told me earlier." So he sent me to get an MRI on my lower spine and left hip. Getting that done took several weeks, and they told me it'd take awhile to get the results back to my doctor. So I waited for the call from my doctor for me to make an appointment and do whatever it is he can do. With no call forthcoming, I finally called the doctor's office.

"Oh, yes," said the receptionist. "Your results came back on that MRI, and they are normal. You don't need another appointment."

"What?!" I practically started crying. "Why am I in so much pain then?" After settling down a little bit, I thought I need to go to my chiropractor. In fact, I'd gone for this very problem before, but Larry Marrich was a bit hesitant to do much until I'd gotten X-rays to make sure I didn't have any badly ruptured disks. Perhaps the MRI would serve, I thought.

As it turned out, I still needed X-rays. Together with the MRI report and the X-rays, Dr. Marrich started working on me. He said there was a little bit of extruding disk, which could cause pressure on the sciatica nerve, but it wasn't more than an average woman my age could expect. (In other words, the pain was real, it just wasn't really obvious, and that's why it wasn't constant.) Three times a week, then two times a week, then once a week, he'd treat my lower back. Now we're down to once every two weeks.

Now get this. Last Tuesday, I found a couple of workout videos on TV that run from 5:00 to 6:00 a.m., my "free" or discretionary time. I worked out about 40 minutes EVERY morning, Tuesday to Friday. In the evenings, I haven't been watching TV. Instead, I've been cleaning, vacuuming, training Shiloh, sewing, ironing -- just whatever I feel like, but all good stuff.

And this weekend: not counting the hours I spent driving into town to drop off and pick up my husband's truck at the shop, I have patched the 1 ft. by 1 ft. hole under the sink in one bathroom, a similar hole in the other bathroom, washed two loads of clothes, trimmed my leggy plants (mostly geraniums) transplanting the cuttings, rearranged the outside "furniture" so that Shiloh can't climb up to the cat-window, dropped off some donations to a thrift store, done my shopping at two stores, changed out all the cat boxes, changed the sheets on my bed, cooked the meals for next week. Okay, that's about it. I'm still proud of myself. Those patches in the wall have needed to be done for more than a year. The cats have gotten to where they pull the cabinet doors open, and go into the wall to look for mice, which, of course, they bring back alive and put in the bathtub. And the mice have been coming into the house on their own and eating Shiloh's food (I've seen the evidence.)

It's amazing how much I can do at home -- especially when I have papers to grade!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Boone's Drink Choices

Lest anyone think my son, Boone, is a health nut because of his interest in various teas (as I described in an earlier blog) I've got to say this.

I went with Boone to Ta-Lin International Supermarket yesterday. I just followed him as he wandered through the aisles and picked up this and that. When we got into Boone's pickup, I had the groceries in my lap. Boone was already opening up one of the drinks he'd gotten. He was so excited about it because it required a strange method to open. You separate one part of the lid from another part, reverse it, and push down on the marble embedded in the bottom part of the lid, thus popping the marble into the bottle and opening it. The bottle was pinched a few inches down from the neck (it reminded me of those melted and stretched bottles that my grandma used to make.)

I laughed at him and asked the obvious question -- what's the flavor? He didn't know, didn't care. So I checked out the ingredients: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, and citric flavoring.

That got me to checking out the other drinks Boone had bought -- a nice variety of energy drinks (he was thinking ahead to that night when he would have to work through the night.) They all had sugar and caffeine along with pretty much the same combinations of chemicals and preservatives, and all were made in Thailand (but marketed in various countries). One of the drinks had "titanium somethingide" and then "no artificial colors." Boone said, "I certainly wouldn't want any artificial colors with my titanium somethingide."

The brand names and packaging made it clear these were for extreme energy. The word SHARK had teeth, the M150 drink (sounds like a bomb to me) was dressed in red and yellow, "Lacosade" a huge bottle shaped like an orange missle -- all growled with barely contained masculine power. . . and then there was a can of chrysanthemum drink. WHAT?

Seriously. Chrysanthemum drink. Not a soda. Not an energy drink. Not a tea. Just a drink made from chrysanthemums! That's my son for you. He likes to try new things!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Incriminating Evidence

Because Shiloh and Tanker tend to get into trouble (chewing everything in sight) when left alone in the house all day long, we have been leaving them outside. Last Monday, Presidents' Day, was a holiday for me, so I was the last person to leave the house. I had a chiropractor appointment in the late afternoon. Because it was going to be a light day of work, Shelli had taken Tanker with her. I knew Shiloh wasn't going to like being left outside alone, but I figured it would only be a couple of hours and I'd be home.

Well, it turned out that I was more like four hours getting back home. I called and called for Shiloh before going inside. Then as I walked inside, she greeted me from the living room!

Oh, my gosh, I thought. Someone had come back home and let Shiloh back in and left. But calling Boone and Shelli, I found that neither of them had been home. And certainly Mike, who has two jobs, hadn't gotten home yet.

How could she have gotten in? She could have made such a fuss with her barking, I thought, that our neighbors came over and let her in. Eh, not likely. One of Boone's friends had left his cell phone charger here the night before. Maybe he had come over and just picked up the charger and, in the process, let Shiloh in. That, too, not likely.

I'd left the "cat door" open for the cats to be able to go out and come in. But the cat door is in the kitchen window above the sink. The cats have to leap to a huge stump we have placed on a box to be able to reach the window. Maybe Shiloh got in that way. But I didn't think it was likely. She didn't climb a lot and was afraid to jump down from my chair seat!

Well, today, Shelli caught her in the act. Look at these pictures.



Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Conservative Rant on Liberal Rants

Is it the tie-dye t-shirts I like to wear? Is it the fact that I'm a bit unorthodox in my music choice? Is it my willingness to be tolerant of others? What makes people think I'm a liberal?

At least that's the conclusion I have arrived at. Perhaps because I am a teacher at a school of higher ed, all my colleagues that don't know any better assume I'm liberal. That MUST be why they don't give a second thought to speaking their mind. Sometimes it's praising a previous member of the Weathermen Underground for his part in the Vietnam protests, and saying how admirable he is for having done what he did (regardless of how out of line the WU behavior got). Sometimes it's spewing hatred for our present president (he who can do no right.) Sometimes it's bragging that "our" generation was the one that didn't respect the rules; that "we" protested.

And when I try to -- in a diplomatic way -- say not all of us felt that way or feel that way, people look at me like some kind of grotesque insect pinned under their magnifying glass.

There are very few strong liberals that I can have a decent conversation with. One of them is my previous office mate, Donna Swanson. Another is Cecilia Pacheco. Both can ask me questions that strive to understand why I think the way I think. And they can accept that I might have a different set of priorities (that is, after all, the defining difference. No one WANTS war; no one WANTS women to get abortions; no one WANTS the poor to sink more deeply into poverty; no one WANTS the government to raise taxes. It's all a matter of what's more important than what, or maybe what seems to have a greater urgency.) Both of these friends of mine are considerate of diverging thought and don't publicly rant.

On the other hand, there are people who, as soon as they mention something political, I pack up my lunch and move to my office where I can eat in peace.

Last night, at the Star Trek party, I was in a situation that I couldn't exactly move away from. And besides, it wasn't a long-lived rant. But I was uncomfortable during it. The friend of ours who had been in the Weathermen Underground was retiring and had had an "anti-roast" retirement party. Two other friends, these two very active members of CNM's Star Trek group had put together a video for his party and they wanted to show it at the Star Trek party. It was well-made, very nice. I enjoyed it. But the retiring man's claim to fame set one woman -- (dare I call her an aging hippy?) -- to bragging about how she'd gone to Washington, DC as a teen and saw this man giving a speech. Then she began talking about how the National Guard came . . ., and about that point I just tuned her out as a liberal ranting. (Wouldn't it be a shame if she was really saying something worthwhile? But I've been bitten too many times by liberal rants. So I don't listen.)

My daughter even text-messaged her conservative friend who had wanted to come to the Star Trek party that if it made him feel better, he was missing some liberal rants! And I doubt that this woman had any idea not everyone at the party feels the same way she does. On the other hand, maybe she knows and doesn't care. How "tolerant" is that? Isn't tolerance a liberal catch-phrase?

Fortunately, we returned to watching The Next Generation.

Connie

Saturday, February 17, 2007

On "An Inconvenient Truth"

I think the thing that peeves me the most about Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, is that Al Gore is making political currency off of it. Without that, he would have faded away like many previous vice presidents. And the issue of climactic change should really be a scientific issue, not a political one.

It's like when I'm trying to train Shiloh, who has ADD, and Tanker comes up and tries to get noticed. Tanker's being around muddies the waters of Shiloh's training. When global warming became a political stand, it muddied the waters of the true issue.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Traveling the Path of Life

Most of my travel dreams I'm in a car, on a train, on a bicycle or motorcycle, or even sometimes in an airplane. But last night, believe it or not we -- I, my husband, and our daughter, who along the way gave birth to a baby boy -- walked thousands of miles. I even was singing in my mind, "I will walk five thousand miles. . ." as we marched along in the sun, rain, dark, etc.

At some point, someone wanted to take our daughter's baby away from her, saying she wasn't fit to be his mom because she was walking. But when they tested the baby, he was so healthy and intelligent and happy, they couldn't rightfully take him away.

So then we were staying in someone else's house without their knowing. And they were due back soon, so we were worried that they'd get mad at us. So we had to get ready and leave quickly. There we were back on the road.

This morning, I shoveled snow for almost an hour. My shoulders and back muscles are sore, which reminds me of how I felt in my dream -- tired and sore, but somehow triumphant.

I wonder why I dreamed I was walking? Has my life slowed down?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

More about Global Warming

Chaos theory (at least how I understand it) shows how scientific facts have been established based on limited (ie. inaccurate) research. One of the scientific "facts" that is blown away by chaos theory is the idea that something small causes small results (that's why scientists feel it's okay to deal with significant figures). It takes something large to cause large results. Chaos theory demonstrates that something small CAN cause a large result (it's called the "butterfly effect" -- the idea that a butterfly flapping its wings in Indonesia can cause a hurricane in the Caribbean).

This says more than that the weather cannot be predicted. One of the favorite arguments of conservatives against the idea that mankind has caused this global warming is "man is so puny; it's a bit arrogant to think we can affect the weather so drastically. We can't cause global warming; we can't stop it. We can't cause an ice age to happen. And we can't stop an ice age from happening." Well, the butterfly effect implies that it doesn't matter how puny man is; one tiny change in the mix can make all the difference. (My fart could have just made the difference!)

So I'll admit it may be us -- mankind -- causing the climate change. I have my most serious of doubts, though, that we are going to be able to identify for sure what has caused things the way they're going or how to "fix" things.

For that matter, who says they need fixing? Here's how man is arrogant. We seem to think things are best the way they are right now (or the way they were when our parents were growing up). We try to keep things from changing. We run around trying to save this or that species from extinction. And if we're successful? It's only through the extinction of species that other species dominate. We're creating an unbalanced eco-system because of our partial understanding of life and our need to keep things as they ARE.

Change is natural. God set it up that way. (In Jurassic Park, the chaostician didn't explain chaos theory very well, but he had a quote I think is classic: "Nature will have its way.") He's right. Nature will have its way.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Dreams

I'm entering a phase about ready to write. I even decided to turn off the TV. It's just getting in my way. And sure enough, for the last two days, when I got home I didn't turn on the TV. I did stuff as I felt, got some stuff done, and even took a nap once. I didn't get much writing done, but I'm opening the way for my muse. And today -- well, a big snowstorm hit last night. We've gotten a foot so far. And it's been snowing all day in Albuquerque, so the first time that I can remember, CNM has closed.

One of the things that makes me think I'm getting to my writing phase is my dreams. Two nights ago I dreamed all night. (At least it felt like that.) At one point, I woke up thinking, Wow, this could be a kid's story. I could sell it. I had it there, all laid out. I thought about writing it down, but I was too comfortable and absolutely sure that I would remember it. So I fell back asleep.

Then I dreamed this dream about my dad (who's dead now, but was alive in the dream). I dreamed that we were traveling along together -- were we on a motorcycle? Going to some destination for me. But at some point, we took a different route. I gathered that Dad wanted to make this side trip for some reason and was sure we'd be on our way soon.

We got to a point where the road was blocked. We were on one side (of a gulch?) and could see where we wanted to be -- over there, on the other side of the gulch -- but there was no road to cross over. So we turned back to our original road, and I thought we were on our way again. But instead, we took a longabout route to get where Dad wanted to go. As it turns out, he wanted to go because it was a family gathering. His mother's funeral (?) and he wanted to honor her. So we hung around with all the people we didn't know and did what we were supposed to. It was outdoors in a piney woods, on a very steep hill. When everything had been done, Dad came and found us and we started on our trip again. Other people were leaving, too, so there was quite a bit of traffic.

The road was icy and slippery, and at some point, we ended up BELOW the road encased in the ice, and we were struggling to get out (stretching out the ice) when I woke up. What stuck with me about this dream was the feeling that my dad wanted to honor his mother.

Early in the morning, I remembered that I had dreamed another dream, a child's story, but I couldn't remember it. All day, I couldn't remember it. Then late in the evening, something snapped, and I remembered it, or at least something about it.

I remember thinking to myself that there was no option, I was just going to have to tell Mom. Up until this point, we (my friends, three other girls, who lived next door and I) were supposedly going swimming at the city swimming pool, but instead, we were really going to a pond. A magical pond that on one edge (and down deep into the water) had a kind of fancy building -- a castle? And we had to hold our breath to try to see everything under the water. There were fish -- colorful, magical fish, like some kind of fancy seahorse-mermaids. We hadn't explored everything we wanted to, and somehow we discovered that the city was going to fill in the pond and put something else there. We didn't know how to stop the city, but I figured my mother could do it. She'd be disappointed that we had lied to her, but she would help.

I told my friends as we spent the night in a tent equally distant from our three houses. It was like a little cul-de-sac in our own little neighborhood (although there were houses not ours -- boys lived in those) -- then I wondered if the boys would be interested in helping us.

That was my dream.

For some interpretation -- I have found that bodies of water (and how I get into them) have to do with my spirituality. The traveling, of course, is going along the path of life. There's something significant about the steep hill (and in other dreams, bleachers) but I haven't figured that out, yet.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Junk Science revisited

One of my major complaints with "An Inconvenient Truth" is the title. I know (or rather, assume) that the film is an attempt to encourage people to be more responsible stewards of the resources God has given us (an attitude I completely agree with). I truly try not to be wasteful.

I buy many food items and household supplies in bulk, trying to get less packaging. I buy #10 cans of tomatoes and freeze them once I've opened the can. I buy huge plastic containers of mustard and transfer it, yellow, muddy mess, to smaller containers which I then freeze until we need them. Same for ketchup. This is just a few examples.

EVERYTHING that I trash is sorted into one of five bins: aluminum, plastics/tin, glass, and paper -- all for recycling -- and whatever's left is trash. Anything compostable I take to our compost pile. (And I use that compost for gardening.) Anything else that's edible is eaten by our dogs. My kids periodically try to get by without sorting, and often I end up doing the sorting for them.

We mend our clothes and wear them until they are completely worn out. (Once my husband tried putting flattened aluminum cans in the soles of his shoes so he wouldn't have to buy another pair, but I think that's going too far.) When something breaks, we repair it if possible. I just had to get a second microwave after our first one that had lasted us 20 years gave up the ghost. Same with our vacuum cleaner. By the end, it had a different plug attached to the cord, which wouldn't retract, was duct taped on the bottom and much of the hose. Most of our stuff is too worn out to go to a thrift store. But when I need something, that's the first place I go. I've gone through several coffee makers, having bought them used at thrift stores. Blankets, clothes, dishes, books. They're all good. And again, it's recycling.

My goal with my little Chevy Metro (made the last year Chevy made Metros in the US -- 2000) is to make it last 200,000 miles. This is with a "throw-away" Susuki engine that's usually lucky to last 100,000 miles. One reason I like it is -- even as old as it is -- I still get 45 mpg. Try doing that even with a hybrid! I think only a motorcycle could break that.

Even so, to save gas, I combine errands for my trips into town. If I'm going into town anyway, I find several other things I need to do in town and do them, as well. I will sometimes walk from Sams the city block to Wal-Mart (if I have little enough to get that I can carry it all) just to save gas.

Now the pinnacle of my (our) conservation is how we reuse and recycle our water. We flush our toilets with 3-gallon buckets of water saved from washing clothes or washing dishes. I wash the next load of clothes in the rinse water from the last load of clothes. The water is cold (because I'm putting it into the washing machine by hand, gallon-jug by gallon-jug) so we save energy on heating. We take showers that use 2-3 gallons of water, no more, by turning the water off when soaping up.

None of this is merely "inconvenient." It's damn hard work. I think if our well hadn't run out of water, I probably wouldn't have been conserving the water so carefully, but I'm proud to do so now.

My question is how put-out is Al Gore making himself to be a good steward of the land? I seriously doubt he's putting himself to any inconvenience. (Now here's I'm going to reveal one of my biases . . .) People who are rich often don't know what it's like to sacrifice. To them, sacrificing is doing without a chef or making do with a 15-room house or eating New York steaks instead of filet mignons. (On no! I don't have any Grey Poupon! I might have to eat yellow mustard!) Okay. Okay. I admit, this is a stereotype and as such is likely to be wrong. But, seriously, I don't think it is in Al Gore's case.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

My Dream

Just a sprinkling of rain this morning. Not the snow we expected.

I've got to get a handle on this blog thing. When I write on here, I try to write well (which is counterproductive to creativity.) And when I go back and read my blogs, I edit them to try to improve them (that one on global warming and chaos theory is a mess. I didn't make my point clear at all.) And then I get discouraged because who's going to read this? No one is. This is making writing work and for no good reason, and I don't need more of that.

So I'm thinking I need to take it like my journal of yore. When I used to just get up and write whatever was on my mind (hee, knowing no one is gonna read it anyway). The only problem with that is I get up at 3:30, make coffee, feed the cats, feed Shiloh, get dressed, and then I have ten minutes before waking Mike up. (Hmm, ten minutes might be just enough.)

One important thing is that I need to NOT be online at 4:30, which is when Direct TV satellite downloads its programming. Maybe I could get Boone to change it to 3:00.

I slept late this morning, had one-two hours more sleep than I really needed. When that happens, I'm dreaming like crazy. Last night's dream:

I stroll through the grounds of a Buddhist-like monastery, just checking things out, learning about stuff. I see a grassy square mound in the ground before me, and several people are gathered on top of the mound. They are going through some kind of trial. I knew the woman who was on trial. So I go up to try to testify on her behalf. As I start to go up, I hesitate. I am not *Buddhist. I worship God who became human in the form of His Son and sacrificed himself for our salvation. Am I betraying God at all by going up onto this *Buddhist mound? I checked with a little prayer and got nothing, so went on up.

The person judging the trial was the prince of this land. He resented my intrusion. I prayed constantly for the right words, and it became a debate between religions. Strangely enough, I knew I could fight the woman's guards and get her free. I could and did visualize the flying side kick and spinning back axe kick I could do to each of them. But they were women, too, and I felt it would be wrong. So I talked about God. What I said did not persuade anyone, I knew, and the woman was condemned.

Feeling defeated, I went on my way. Then I was in another country, this one very physical. In fact, I was in a huge, gymnasium with multiple arenas for various sports, each arena with its attendant locker rooms and showers. They were getting ready for a big football game. The XXX's against the Bears (which was my team.) I sat down in the bleachers to watch the pageantry a moment. A man sat down beside me (the stadium was crowded and that was the only free seat) but his legs were long and he had to use my space. I might have protested, but he looked big and dangerous. Then the people around me started talking about what happened in the neighboring country. I looked around and recognized the royalty of this country. They were talking about the death of the prince I had just left. I knew that eventually, they would ask me, the only stranger there, if I had done it. So I left. (Oh, I figured out from what they were saying that soon after I had left the Buddhist mound, a flash of lightening struck the mound, killing all the people on it.)

At this point, my dream became a bit jumbled. Maybe I woke up or half woke up. I remember starting down some outside stairs of the huge gym, and some guards coming up to get me. I fight, but there are law officers below me on the stairs and law officers above me on the stairs.

Since I had been wandering from country to country, and apparently I had magical powers and was protected by God, the royalty of this country condemned me to ride in a train from country to country all my life, with no company but the driver (who would be busy).

So I was on the train watching it eat up the rail-miles. Then we came to my country. The driver had to stop the train so he could sleep. I slipped my bonds, told the sleeping driver I'd be back, and went home. There I saw my sisters and told them my adventures, and then my boyfriend, who wanted me to stay, but I said I couldn't. I had an obligation to fulfill. So my sisters, their arms laden with gifts, and my boyfriend, his arms wrapped around me, went back to the train with me. The driver had woken up and was looking very worried for having lost me. He would have quickly been put to death for it.

"I told you I'd be back," I said. Then my sisters and I said tearful good-byes. My boyfriend wrapped me in an intense hug that for a moment said, I won't let you go, but then he said, "I love you," and let me go.

As we pulled out from the station, my friends and family ran ahead to the place I loved best, where the river passed under the tracks, hit a big rock and cascaded over it. From there, they waved good-bye to me.

At this point, there were many passengers in the train with me. And it seemed to my friends I was not condemned at all, but having a merry time. I can't explain this. I thought perhaps the extra passengers were taking advantage of the train for some transportation, but also they were -- if not heads of state -- at least seconds in command, the very people I was to talk to.

If they were to look at the train in the months preceeding and afterwards, they would see me sitting alone, my hair growing long and curly and twining like vines about the window frame while the driver worked at the front of the train.

War was brewing. A world war. As we crossed over into the next country, I saw groups of people on all sides of the train protesting (some of them protesting my treatment), and soldiers hewing them down. And overhead, I saw an airplane drawing a banner across the sky that said, "Beat the Bears." (Was the war to be in actuality a football game? I doubted it. Perhaps the game would set off the war.)

Then we were stopped or sidelined for a bit. It looked like the end of the line to me. The driver wasn't there. I climb off the train, and since there wasn't a landing, I had to climb down between the tracks, down the trestle, where the driver was being held prisoner and tortured. (I knew) the executioner of this country carried out his duty with an unholy zeal. He was going to kill me too, if he could manage it. He actually held the power of the country; the king and queen of this country were just a front for him.

That's about all I remember of the dream. But now, how can I use it? My character for my angels story could have the same sort of drive that she can say good-bye to a loving boyfriend and family. Would she confront the heads of state? I had thought her power would be against the certain evil that leaked into the world; but perhaps the evil which seeks power begins to reside within the heads of state. A thought.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Shiloh



My puppy Shiloh is so funny. I've been training her to "sit." Now she'll just run up to me and sit and look at me expectantly. So I've had to go to great lengths to make sure and give her the command when I want to, and not when she's already sitting.

When Tanker is chewing on something, Shiloh will drape herself over his head and try to take away whatever he's chewing on from above! And Tanker just goes right on chewing with Shiloh on top of his head, kind of like a Shiloh-hat. I'll try to get a picture of it.

Now that she's gotten really leggy, she's figured out she can put her front legs up on tables and get things. Yesterday, she stripped two plants down to the soil. That wasn't so funny.

When she runs, her ears flop. She's all puppy. She's almost four months old, so will be all puppy for awhile.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Junk Science

The other day my office mate, who teaches chemistry and biology, decided she was going to show her copy of An Inconvenient Truth to her class. I was surprised and fell into a somewhat offensive position. I told her I thought the film was based on "junk science."

"How can you say that?" she exclaimed with fervor. "I know the science, and this is what it says." (Or something like that.)

Thinking about it later, I realized that I was way out of line calling it "junk science." I'd just heard someone apply that phrase to the theory that global warming has been caused by man, and the phrase pretty much expressed my attitude.

There are several things going on with this little problem I have with the film. For now, let me deal with the "junk" science aspect.

A meteorologist once used a computer to create a limited environment for weather, programming into it only eight variables. Then he let it run. He figured that eventually, with only eight variables, there would be replicable patterns. In other words, if our weather had only eight variables, then eventually, with enough data, we'd be able to predict the weather.

At some point (and I don't remember why) the meteorologist stopped the program and restarted it midway back, putting in all the numbers for the variables at that point in time. When it ran this time, within days, the "weather" was varying wildly from the first time. Completely different.

"What happened?" the meteorologist wondered. It should have run exactly the way it did the first time. He went back and checked and realized that rather than input the exact numbers (to the ten-thousandths place), he put in only the "significant" numbers. Basically, he left off .00021. This tiniest of fractions created -- within days -- extremely wild variations.

Thus was born the theory of chaos.

Before computers, there was no way scientists could deal with dividing the tiniest of fractions that their calculations spit out or the exact numbers when counting the number of atoms in a compound, for example. So they developed a system to decide how much rounding off can be done and went with rounded off numbers.

It was a satisfactory system. After all, when you are in the ballpark as far as results go, you CAN replicate the results. It also became a tradition.

It's only when you crunch the numbers to the nth degree, that provable theories get blown away. The idea that little changes make little differences in the results doesn't apply any more. If you were to use the entire number in your data, you get entirely different results from what someone else got. In other words, nothing has ever been PROVED, because nothing can be replicated exactly. In spite of that fact, scientists still insist on using significant figures in their research.

Perhaps it sounds like I'm picking on the scientists. Like I'm being a jerk for complaining about paying a whole cent when my loan payment is really a percentage of a cent. (Or like when tax is .057%, and on an item that costs $2.00, I end up paying 12 cents instead of 11.4 cents. Whatever happened to the remaining .6 cent?)

Look, I don't care how people round off when it doesn't matter. But I do care when political policy is developed based on science which is based on rounded off numbers.

Chaos theory (and yes, it's a theory, not proof of anything) does present a good argument to support the idea that you just cannot predict the weather, and that the cause of climate change cannot be determined. And there are many high level scientists who disagree with the views presented in An Inconvenient Truth. I even heard about one meteorologist who served as a resource for the Weather Channel, but he was "black-listed" by the Weather Channel because he disagreed with the party line (ie. the accepted view). The Weather Channel is showing a very unscientific attitude. Isn't that a little like the Galileo being shunned because he thought something different from all the other researchers?

Okay so, Susan, I apologize for calling it junk science. It is, after all, science as we know it. And that was inflammatory language. Especially since I hadn't even seen the film! I'm sorry. I'm sure you have found some very good points the film makes, or you wouldn't like it. I'll just watch my mouth in the future. I really would like to sit down and discuss the topic with you some time (when I'm not being reactive.)