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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ramble On

Ok, I've been pretty negligent on posting lately, so I figure I'm due for a catch-up, catch-all post. I'll probably "ramble on" a bit. *coughLedZeppelinisawesomecough*

As you may recall, things at work were insanely busy several weeks ago. Then they calmed down, and then I got lazy and didn't want to do anything but spend 5 hours watching Freaks and Geeks DVDs all Sunday afternoon... while drinking diet Pepsi, natch.

This week has been more even-keeled. Work has settled down, except for the training in preparation for Windows 7 conversion over the weekend. (Whoo!) We will soon have voicemail sent to our e-mail and (get this) translated into text! So we get to read or listen to our voicemail AND (the best part, in my opinion) automatically have an archived copy of each one! It really makes me wish I had this on my cell phone. I actually used to record my voicemails on an audio recorder, then save the files to my computer, just so I would have a record of them. Yes, I'm that OCD.

Anyway, other than work, I've gotten back into crocheting lately. I was gonna upload you a picture of my latest work-in-progress: a baby blanket for a friend of mine whose son is due to begin controlling their lives in like two weeks. But... once again laziness has overtaken my mind and body, so sorry, no picture for you. Maybe I'll take one when I finish it, before handing it over to a saliva-soaked fate with my friend's infant. Cuz you know babies love shoving yarn into their toothless gobs.

In other news, tomorrow is my grandpa's 80th birthday party. He actually turned 80 on Monday, but everyone was busy and really who wants to have a birthday party on a Monday night? No one, that's who. He's in pretty rockin' shape for a guy eight decades young. Today he and my grandma came over to help us set up a bed frame. It was a complete disaster (the mattress was two inches too wide and three inches too long for the frame), but there was my grandpa, drill in hand, screwing and unscrewing pieces of wood, trying to make it fit for his granddaughter. Yeah, he loves me a lot. And it shows more in his construction skills than anywhere else. I have at least five pieces of furniture he's made for me. My grandpa the awesome amateur carpenter. I'm just a wee bit proud of him.

So, that's it. Nothing monumental to report. No deep thoughts to ponder.

Ok, that's not entirely true. I did read this interesting article on Rob Bell and his orthodox-unfriendly new book, Love Wins. But I haven't done enough research to comment on that intelligently, so maybe a future post will be in order later.

Hey, good news: tomorrow's FRIDAY!! How was your week?

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Luke 15:4-7
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."

(Arriving in NYC, 1964. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons free images.)

Perhaps I should have had this dream on December 8. But I didn't. I had it last night.

I dreamt I met John Lennon before he died. And I hugged him tightly for a long time. And I cried.

But he was sick or something. I knew it immediately. He was so thin when I hugged him I could feel his ribs and shoulder blades. It was a familiar, heartbreaking look. "Cancer" was the word that came to mind, but I didn't say it. I didn't say much of anything except this:

"You don't know how much you mean to us.... to people of this generation. Well, I'm not really even a part of it, but I've always felt like I am. And you just... you just don't know how much we love you."

He was generous, although clearly this wasn't his first choice of where to be. Sort of like the way you try to be nice to the nurse at the doctor's office. You hate the whole visit, but you figure it isn't her fault she works there and you have to come against your will. I don't remember exactly why he was there—in the front room of my uncle's house—but I got the impression that whatever had compelled him, he was too weak to fight. Acquiescence is easier than battle, especially when you're already tired and sick and worn out.

I woke up happy, feeling privileged and honored by this ethereal glimpse (and touch) of a hero of a generation... my generation, as The Who would say. Of course, that same song included the line, "I hope I die before I get old." Poignant or prophetic?

Anyway, I felt happy and peaceful when I awoke... until I realized that I have no assurance of ever really meeting John in Heaven. I will not pretend to play God and discern his eternal destiny. In fact, it is a great comfort to me that God knows our hearts, all of us, and that His is the only opinion that will matter on Judgment Day. Still, it's hard to imagine anyone in Heaven who writes of desiring a world like this:
Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Are Strawberry Fields anything like Elysian Fields? Will I ever see John again?

It's times like these when I fervently wish I were Catholic, so I could pray for the souls of the dead and believe it might do them some good. As it is, I trust God feels my anguish and that His is greater still over all the lost sheep—including the one who imagines for a moment that there is no Good Shepherd searching for him.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Takin' care of business and workin' overtime

Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."

(Finger-flyin' transcription action... just like what I did all weekend!)

Yes, that has been my life the past few days. We received a large (read: MASSIVE) transcription project at work for an upcoming book. I work at a publishing company, and this is the fourth major transcription I've been involved with. Basically, the authors conduct interviews and send us the audio files. We then transcribe the material, and they use it as source material for writing the manuscript. Since this book is on a crash schedule, the transcription had to get done literally overnight.

On the positive side, being up til 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. the night of and following Daylight Savings Time really eases you into the adjustment. Not that I would recommend this approach....

I haven't totalled up my hours over the weekend yet, but I'm guessing it's somewhere around 20. The craziest part was that we had an emergency on Sunday night, which required that a coworker and I stay up all night to finish the job in time to make our deadline on Monday. Fortunately, I have an understanding  and appreciative boss, so I left work early on Monday and came in late today. All told, I think I slept 4 hours Sunday night/Monday morning and 11 hours Monday night/Tuesday morning. (Average: 7.5 hours, so I guess I made up my sleep debt.)

Conclusion: sleep is an amazing medication! I felt awful this morning when I tried (and failed) to get up at 7:00. But after another few hours of peaceful slumber, I felt like a new person. No more headache. No more nausea. No more "kill me now" look in my eyes as they hovered over ugly purple crescents. Yay for sleep!

One final word on the subject of working weekends: I'm really glad they're not a regular occurrence. I have come to realize that I need my social life, my downtime, my vacuuming and cleaning, my crocheting and cooking, my movie nights. Work is a blessing, and a job you enjoy is even better. But I am really, really happy this project is finally done and over with. The excitement of this rush job was fun for a while, but it's good to have things back to normal. Overtime is like California. It's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

How about you? Any stories of having to work overtime and/or ridiculous hours? Do tell! :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Book Review: The View from Lazy Point

I've been working overtime at my day job this week (thus the lack of recent blog posts—sorry). But the book review I wrote recently was just posted online at the Englewood Review of Books. So check it out and let me know what you think!

This book review contains my thoughts on The View from Lazy Point written by traveling ecological expert Carl Safina. If you are into conservation, being "green," or anything related to environmentalism, I'd recommend reading this book. Also, if you like biology or wonder whether there's anything to the whole "global climate change" thing, you'll find it interesting. It's extremely well written, engaging, and relatable, while still packed with hardcore science-a-plenty—for you science nerds out there. (You know who you are.) And yes, there's even illustrations, for those of you who were about to ask, "But does it have any pictures?"

It'll be a ridiculously busy weekend, so I'll probably post on Monday about how tired I am, how much rush transcription projects are equal parts exhilarating and exhausting, etc.

Until then, have a good weekend!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Doctor Who and My Hatred of Change

Luke 5:36-39
No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, "The old is better."

 (Christopher Eccleston: the only guy I can accept as Doctor Who, not because he was the best but simply because he was the first one I "met")

I recently experienced a traumatic event. I know what you're thinking. "What's one more? Haven't you toughened up enough by now to take it without whining and moaning?" One: no, I'm not that tough (yet). Two: I was being facetious about the trauma (kinda).

Let me set the scene for you. It's a quiet Saturday evening several weeks ago at my uncle's house. The fam got together (as we are wont to do) for dinner and quality time. After both sets of grandparents left, we broke out the Netflix so my cousin could continue showing me the awesome British scifi series "Doctor Who."

Everything was going great... until the season finale. So as not to ruin the surprise, nobody had warned me that the show's star, Doctor Who himself, one Christopher Eccleston, would soon be replaced. He literally changed from one person to another! Just like that! Sure, they wrote the story in such a way that kinda (in vague, scifi terms) explained the transition. So he's supposedly the same character "on the inside," even though he looks (read: IS) a completely different person, now played by David Tennant.

I later learned that Eccleston was actually the ninth actor to play Doctor Who. So he was no more or less original than Tennant. But that didn't make it any easier to see him leave. He was still the first one I ever knew... and the only one my mind would accept as the Doctor Who.

For you David Tennant fans out there (you know who you are), I have nothing against him as an actor or even as a Doctor Who. The problem is that I apparently bond too quickly/deeply to fictitious characters. This becomes problematic when said characters cease to be played by the same people, causing me to erupt in a fury of overly emotional grief and anger and disillusionment. Fun times...

This is the same reason I can't watch remakes of old movies. When Steve Carell (who is indisputably brilliant in "The Office") starred as Maxwell Smart in the movie version of the 1960s TV show, I was heartbroken. I refused to watch it. "You couldn't pay me enough to go see it," I said—and I meant it. Maxwell Smart is Don Adams and only Don Adams. As far as I'm concerned, anyone else is an imposter. This same thing has also happened with remakes of the A-Team, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which I saw but hated), and assorted other shows and movies.

Why does this happen? Why do I get so attached to one actor that it becomes impossible to imagine the role played by anyone else, even or especially if that new person is equally talented—or even better at the role? Amateur psychoanalysis aside, perhaps I'm too loyal. I've always (since I was a kid) said I hated change. Overall, that's still true. The original—the old—is always better to me than the new.

But c'mon, this is just a stupid TV show, right? Is it really worth getting upset over? "Yes," says my heart. "Yes, it is."

It's kind of embarrassing to admit, but I was actually close to tears when I had to say good-bye to my beloved "original" (at least to me) Doctor Who. If this were an isolated incident, that would be one thing. But it happens more than I care to admit.

So here's my question: Am I the only one who finds it really upsetting when I have to watch a character being played by someone new? Am I a ridiculous purist? Does anyone else have the same horrific aversion to change in fictional characters?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Where There's a Will...

2 Corinthians 12:14 "After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children."

(Cartoon courtesy of

If your week has been anything like mine, I don't have to explain my lack of recent posts... because you were too busy to notice!

First there was the Oscar party, which was AWESOME in many ways, especially the Best Supporting Actor Oscar going to my fav, Christian Bale. The ceremony itself... meh. Hathaway tried a little too hard to make up for Franco's "here but not here"/"too cool for the Academy Awards" attitude. Still, we had a splendid time at the party and ate gobs of delicious fattening foods and enjoyed the festivities.

That was just Sunday night. Then, the workweek began. Oh my... Too much to tell you here, so suffice it to say it was a loony week.

But, there were a few moments of sanity. Case in point: my husband and I finally "got around" to doing something we've been meaning to do since we got married last summer. We went to see a lawyer. "Isn't it a little late for a prenup?" you ask. "And a little early for a divorce?" Yes, on both counts. Not that we were (or are) planning on either. Ahem.

This week we went to see a laywer about getting our wills drawn up. Well, getting mine re-drawn and his drawn for the first time. Funny that I (by FAR the younger one) had a previous will and he did not. But, my best friend's parents just got theirs drawn up recently too, so I guess he's in good company. Procrastinators anonymous, anyone?

Let me take this opportunity to pull out my soapbox and strongly recommend that you:
  1. get your own will drawn up (by an actual lawyer, not by or somesuch dubious online "service")
  2. buy some term life insurance while you're still young enough to get the good rates
"But I'm not young anymore," you say. Oh yes, you are. At least compared to how old you'll be in five years. And those rates? Yeah, they go up with your age... exponentially. It pays to lock in a thirty-year fixed rate (kinda like a mortgage) as early in your life as possible.

If you're not sure where to start, check out Their exclusive function is to examine the life insurance rates among the top companies (ING, Fidelity, Prudential, etc.) and figure out which rate is best (cheapest!) for you. It varies based on your age, gender, health, finances, job, and about a million other tidbits that only life insurance companies care about. I used SelectQuote to buy my policy a few years ago, and they were great to work with. Very courteous and helpful.

Now, be prepared because there will be a required blood and urine test.... I'm not even kidding. But it makes sense, if you think about it. These companies are investing (potentially) a quarter to half a million dollars in the average policyholder. It only makes sense that they would want to know what they're investing in before taking the plunge. Wouldn't you check the Carfax report on a used car before buying it? Same thing.

Ok, so you e-mail SelectQuote, schedule the exam (they come to your house and it takes about an hour—super convenient, if you ask me), pick out your policy coverage ($100K? $200K? $1M? It's up to you...), and lock in that rate for as long as possible. If you're young (read: under 30) like I was when I applied, you can usually lock in a ridiculously low rate. I think mine is something like $275 a year, which breaks down to $23/month or 75 cents a day! Isn't your loved ones' protection and peace of mind worth three quarters a day?

Do I sound like a MetLife commercial yet? I don't care. This is IMPORTANT.

If you die (which is a stupid way to put it—how about when you die), someone will have to take care of your final affairs. This includes not only funeral and dispersion of your estate assets but also paying off anything you owe. And if you owe more than your net worth? Guess what. Your wife/husband, kids, family, etc. get NOTHING. And they probably get stuck with $7,000 to $10,000 in funeral bills. (That's not an exaggeration; that's average.) Life insurance is an easy way to raise your net worth in the event of an early/unexpected death. And a will is an easy way to make sure your money goes to the people you want it to go to.

It's called life insurance for a reason. You want to insure (i.e. protect) your family from these bills. You also want to make sure ole Uncle Sam don't get his greasy mitts on more than he deserves. And guess what? If you don't have a will, your estate—everything you own, or owe, or both—could get stuck in a legal purgatory known as "probate," where it could sit for months while lawyers debate who gets what. In the meantime, your family has to foot the bill for your final expenses. A fun little addition to the grief, huh?

Look, none of us are planning to die anytime soon. But accidents happen. Say you get hit by a bus tomorrow. What would happen to your family? your bills? your investments? your pets? If you don't know, how are your spouse/kids/parents going to figure all that out after you're gone?

Are you getting the idea? Granted, this is a ranty post, but I think it's one of the more practical rant-worthy topics that is NOT taught or addressed very often, either in schools, churches, or families (or the blogosphere). These two key things—your term life insurance and your last will and testament—go hand in hand. Why not commit to getting them both done this spring? I promise you it's more important than cleaning out the garage or catching up on your hobbies.

Please, for your family's sake, don't put it off. Don't assume you will have time later. As Walter Payton said, "Tomorrow is promised to no one."

Here's my final pitch: When you die, your family is going to be heartbroken. Devastated. Paralyzed by their grief. Don't put them in a position of having to deal with sticky legal issues on top of their sorrow. Make it easier for them by planning ahead. Think of it as one last gift you can give your loved ones. It's not as much fun as a Christmas present, but I promise you (speaking from experience) it will be greatly appreciated.

"But I don't have the money to get my will drawn up or to buy life insurance right now," you say. Yes, you do. You just have to decide it's important. Where there's a will, there's a way.