Friday, October 28, 2011


When Sarah and I lived in our house on Brentwood, we used the spare bedroom as a playroom for her.  We kept her toys in there and this is where she played most of the time when we were home. 

One day when she was around five years old, I was in my room tidying up and she came running in with a look on her face like she’d seen a ghost. “What’s wrong?” I asked. Horrified, she shook her head as if the words wouldn’t come out. She grabbed my hand, pulled me into the playroom, and blurted, “Space aliens.” I’m thinking…space aliens? I looked around the room and saw nothing unusual. I ask, “Where?” She said, “They were all over, but now they’re gone.” I asked her where she was when she saw them. She walked over to the dolls in the floor and sat down. “I was just playing with my dolls like this and they sparkled all around me.” “Well, looks like they’re gone now.” I said, unable to imagine what she could have seen that reminded her of sparkling space aliens. Sarah reached for her doll and exclaimed, “There they are!!!” She leapt up, ran to me, and clung tightly.

For a brief second, I saw what she was talking about. She was wearing a bracelet that reflected the sunlight coming through the window. It made patterns of bright light on the ceiling and walls. The poor little girl was terrified by this phenomenon. I smiled at her, took her bracelet, and showed her what she was seeing. We experimented with my ring and watch to make more sparkles on the walls and ceiling. It's nature to fear the unknown. It must be TV and movies that make little children imagine scary creatures from outer space.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I started to write a vile, nasty post yesterday. It was an articulation of the worst possible mood….with lots of the F word. I know nobody cares what the hell I say here. Still, this is public space and I don’t want to F myself out of a job someday. Some HR rep will Google me, find my web site, and decide he/she can’t hire a foul-mouthed fleabag like me.

What set me off was bad news. After all that shit I did to my face, I’m going to have to be cut on anyway. That pisses me off. The dermatologist was ready to pull out the chainsaw right on the spot (not really, he said the initial biopsy will require a needle and scalpel)…might as well do it right from the start and just cut off my whole face with a chainsaw.

I was the doc’s last victim of the day ( 4:30 appt – he walked into the torture chamber at 7:30 - punctuality is not his thing). He shook my hand, told me he was exhausted from the long day and running two 10K’s over the weekend. I didn’t feel good about him cutting on my face in that state – I prefer him to be no more than the usual state of tired if he’s putting a knife into my face. I suggested we put it off a month. That gives me plenty of time to stew and worry over it, and who knows, maybe something horrific will happen before then and having my face mutilated will be the least of my worries. (I always try to look on the bright side of things). As I left, he told me I can’t wish it away. He also told me he survived melanoma on his leg at age 36 and 5 years ago he had a radical prostatectomy. Hmmmmm…. should I have congratulated him?…but I just remarked that he’s a lucky man who’s been through a lot. What do you say to something like that? His point was that I'm a whiney puss, suck it up, and deal with it. Yeah – I’ll do that next month.

Everything else that has me in a shitty mood involves my chronic disorganization and procrastination in every facet of my life. I never learn. I don’t want a gravestone, but if I had one, my epitaph should state “She never learned shit”. I want to be cremated and have my ashes thrown somewhere…I don’t care where as long as it isn’t on concrete or pavement. And don’t put my ashes in a F’ing urn - I want to be free and loose.

When things get bad at work, I reflect on Erin’s picture; it hangs beside my phone. She drew it when she was 5 or 6 years old. As shitty as things are lately, they could be much worse (remind myself). Maybe in some cases, the lady is better off letting go of the rope.

Drawn by Erin long ago

Friday, October 21, 2011

my secret box

When I was young, I had a metal box that locked with a small key. I stored my most valuable treasures in the box and kept it hidden from everyone. I found the box in the neighbor’s trash with the key sticking out of the lock. It was rusty and dented which is probably why it was discarded. Usually I kept it in my closet, but when I thought my brother was looking for it, I hid it in the basement, or garage, or outside somewhere. I always hid the key separate from the box just to be extra sure my valuables were safe.

In my box were rhinestones, gumball machine trinkets, Cracker Jack toys, bits of colored broken glass, pretty rocks, beads, buckeyes, tiny pinecones, acorns, and Indian arrow heads. I had feathers from blue jays, cardinals, gold finch, and pigeons. There were a few dead butterflies, some sea shells, and a pressed four-leaf clover. I kept two little dogs and a fish that I carved from sticks. Also, I’d saved some Canadian coins, a Japanese coin with a hole in the middle, and some pennies that trains ran over and flattened. I hid my matches and some candles in the box too.

My most valued treasure in the box was a used tissue. I was about seven years old one of the times my mother visited. I stood beside her and watched in awe as she meticulously transformed herself in front of the bathroom mirror with a bag of cosmetics – face cream, foundation, powder, blush, eye liner, eye shadow, mascara, eyelash curler, brow powder, and lipstick. I thought she looked like a princess or movie star with her make-up on. My mother painted her lipstick on with a small brush and blotted her lips with a tissue forming a perfect pink kiss print. She dropped it into the trash and left the room. When she had gone downstairs and I was sure nobody would see me, I took the tissue and hid it in my box. Sometimes when I missed my mother very much, I pressed the tissue against my cheek and imagined she was giving me a kiss.

Mother's father holding me, and Mother

Thursday, October 20, 2011

bad dog / good dog

She had a rough start. She wound up in the animal shelter – one of a bunch of pups abandoned…mama dead on the highway. She was different from the rest. The others looked like white wired hair terriers and were adopted out quickly. Our Gracie is a German shepherd \ blonde Labrador retriever \Shar pei mix and different from her littermates. *sighing deeply*

Gracie was a very bad dog today. She breached the barrier between upstairs and downstairs this afternoon while she was home alone. She went up into Erin’s room, and got into her jewelry box – Erin left the bottom drawer open. Gracie only destroyed old rubber bracelets, but these happened to be the ones with sentimental value. Gracie is high on Erin’s shit list!

Yesterday afternoon, Gracie chewed into a box of my grandmother’s old dishes. She chewed a glass bowl that was at least 250 years old and it broke into three pieces. It didn’t seem to cut her – I checked her mouth. Later that evening, I glanced over and she had a streak of bright red on her leg. I gasped thinking it was blood. Turns out, it was bright red paint. She’d somehow found a small bottle of red craft paint and chewed it up. We now have red paint on the carpet that we are replacing soon.

Gracie and I came to an understanding. I’m the alpha in this house and she’d better walk the walk or she’s going to be an outside dog. She has figured out the electric fence. She knows the pain and collar that produces it. She’s going to enjoy some of the aspects of outside dog life – more interactions with diverse creatures, diverse scenery, more space to roam, falling asleep in the sun.  She has learned to stay well inside the white flags.  We want her to be outside when we’re gone, and inside when we’re home. Outside means access to the garage.  She was well behaved this evening after our meeting of the minds. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

tragedy in China

Have you read the story about the little girl in China who was hit by a car and people just ignored her until she was run over again? Unbelievable!! I feel sick when I accidentally squash a squirrel or hit a bird…..I can’t imagine striking a child and driving away. What is this world coming to? Does something like this happen in China because they have so many people that a single life has no meaning?

I found this picture of me – if it was taken in August of ’62, I am not yet five years old. My hair has no natural curl at all, so apparently this was taken after my mother visited. My mother insisted on perming my hair when she visited. She came about once or twice a year…it got to the point where I stayed under the bed when she came and refused to come out. I hated perms! I’m sitting on the picket fence in front of my great grandparents’ house in St. Paul, Kentucky. My feet are against one of the many, very large maple trees in the front yard. We used to put pennies on the railroad tracks and let the trains run over them and flatten them.

I spent a lot of time under beds when I was growing up.  I was a climber  – climbed like a monkey before ever trying to walk and I wouldn’t stay in my baby bed.  I was not quite a year old when my baby brother came along.  They gave him the baby bed and put me to sleep in bed with my older brother (18 months older than me).  Apparently I didn’t like sleeping with him either and they found me just about every morning under the bed (my grandfather told me this story).  It was my favorite place to play as well, until I was too old for playing.  When under a bed, nobody can sneak up on you…and sometimes nobody knows you’re there.      

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Flight of Fear

We took the girls and two pals to King’s Island yesterday – a big amusement park just north of Cincinnati. It’s not a bad drive, taking a little less than three hours to get there. The park was packed because this time of year, in addition to the rides they have themed haunted attractions to walk through. Someone and the girls love these, but I’m pretty much wiped out after 8 hours of standing in line for rides all day. By the time the haunts open, I’m tired and not in the mood to have people dressed up jump out and scare me time and again. I can appreciate the elaborateness of it all and the pains the actors go to so that they look realistic…but you go into these expecting the unexpected.

At the front gate, I snapped a few photos of the girls, and off they went never to be seen again until midnight, our intended time to leave.

Someone and I had the day to kill. We started with a smaller roller coaster because the line was relatively short (30 minute wait). Next we got in line for Flight of Fear. That was a 60 minute wait. We rode it last year and I remember it was fun. Someone didn’t remember it – I told him it was just like Space Mountain (at Disney World…which he loves). The ride has a space theme – you are launched into darkness – the signs warn you to keep your head back on the headrest during launch. Good advice. We entered the black hole and immediately went upside down which caused me to remember…oh yeah, this is nothing like Space Mountain. That’s what the girls told me last year to get me to go on it. It was fun, but I don’t like being fastened down like that….although I appreciate being fastened down securely rather than taking the risk of being flung out of the seat into the darkness. Jerry loved it and wanted to go again, but the wait when we came back around to enter was over 120 minutes.

Next, we rode FireHawk – it is out in the open, so I knew what we were in store for. It’s a roller coaster where you ride laying down on your back, moving head first. It’s another one where you are fastened tightly into your seat, and yes…it’s not so great for us claustrophobes, but security is necessary and good in this situation. You sit in a seat, buckle in, and at the very start (before take off) the seats tip back until your head is slightly past parallel. Not a good feeling. In the video, you get an accurate perspective. I was not one with my hands out – I had a death grip on the bars. It was so much fun, we waited 120+ minutes to ride it a second time.

We had an uneventful trek home. We travel a rural highway and must be wary for deer, raccoons, and possums in the road. We saw all of those but fortunately didn’t hit any. I caught a nasty cold yesterday so today I’m staying away from everyone and laying low. I didn’t do any work on my dissertation all weekend. NOT GOOD. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

morning morosity

Time is a face on the water – Stephen King (still my favorite author).

What is the meaning of time? Conceptually, it’s a form of measurement. Personally, it has always been an enemy and a source of frustration. It always seems to pass too fast or too slow, and there’s no way to control it. I’ve spent a lifetime watching a calendar and clock, planning and waiting impatiently.

Control is always temporary and illusive – it’s an imposter! Trying to get control of things is frustrating. Do any of us have real control of anything in our lives? All we really have is here and now, and if we’re lucky, we can have hope for the future. If I lived alone on this planet, would time and control be less important? If we had no means to measure time, would it be less important?

We were rushing out the door this morning – the girls and me off to school and work. I stepped out on the porch and the moon grabbed my attention – I set my crap down, pulled out my shitty phone camera and snapped this photo. It just doesn’t do it justice – the silver white moon seemed huge peeking through the yellow gold leaves of the tulip tree. I asked the girls if they saw the moon – none of them noticed it at all. How did they miss it?

I’ve spent over four hours on the phone with HP the past two evenings – my PC is having power issues…not good.  The only way the damn thing will boot after it’s cold is to remove the battery and plug it into AC.   Last night, they had me run 40 minutes of diagnostics and determined the machine has no hardware/mechanical/integrity errors.  OK, so what’s the next step?  They say if the problem persists, we’ll reimage the hard drive and restore factory settings.  Lovely….another 4-6 hours lost productivity.   Not only that, being a disorganized person, I’ll have to go on a scavenger hunt to find all my install DVDs for all the software I’ve loaded.  I’m not a happy HP customer these days - they are wasting TOO much of my time.  I believe my laptop does have a hardware/mechanical/integrity error when it’s cold.  I hate when shit doesn’t work like it’s supposed to!     

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mother Nature has a sense of humor

I was hard at work revamping Chapter One this weekend when Someone came in from outside and insisted I had to go check out the pile of sawdust where we had a tree cut down a year ago or so. Why? I know him all so well after all these years. I knew it had to be something naughty by the look on his face. I picked up my camera and stepped out back to find these growing. Yes of course. The big question in my mind is whether I’m married to Beavis or Butthead – who is more mature? It doesn’t matter, either are more mature than Someone. He just cackled at these toadstools…and I admit they made me smile because he got such a big kick out of them. Mother Nature has a sense of humor sometimes.
Interesting Toadstools

Chapter One is coming along. I’m pleased to report it could be possible that I’ve reached saturation regarding the literature. That means there’s nothing else in the library to include….it’s an expression one of my professors used a while ago. I was looking for further evidence on four points tonight and there was nothing new to include. How about that!

My goal is to submit a draft of Chapter One to my chairman Monday night. The challenge will be to do this while spending all day Saturday at King’s Island. We promised the girls all year we’d take them to FearFest. We did this last year (I had a blog post about it here). The entire family knows I will not be getting back on the Diamond Back this year. Someone will have to ride solo or find some other idiot to ride with him. I’m not into that huge vertical drop again. After the first drop, it wasn’t bad, but it’s not like you can skip the beginning. I hope the weather is perfect.

Friday, October 7, 2011


I’m planning to use the MLQ-5X for my study. I’ve spent the entire evening trying to understand how the survey works exactly. It’s 45 questions….a lot of questions in comparison to the servant leader survey that only has 23 questions. Perhaps it’s because the MLQ-5X ranges multiple styles from transactional leader to transformational leader, whereas with the servant leader survey, the participant is tested to be/not be a servant leader.

Chatted with my sweet Sarah tonight :) She remarked that she thinks my little-girl pictures look like hers. I don’t see it, but I found one of her where she is early-two years old. Does this beautiful little girl look anything like me? Other than hair…I don’t see it. She is her father’s face to me.

Sarah, age 2+
Anyway….we are having a fence installed for Gracie next week…the underground electric sort where the dog wears a lovely shock collar and learns discipline the hard-core human way!  It makes me want to don black leather, hip boots, and whip something (no, not really) – only in my imagination!  Lot’s of things are much better left in one’s imagination.   
Speaking of black leather….I was a motorcycle mama for a while in my youth. Not a trashy one though. I was never tempted to get a tattoo…I don’t mind tattoos…I just don’t want one on me. Some are quite amazing though. I never went bra-less or smoked cigarettes (in public…wait maybe I did) or never-ever cussed somebody out in public. I had a black leather jacket (one of Woody’s old castoff’s). Leather is perfect because the dead bugs wipe off easier. I wore a helmet with a windshield – two reasons – I wear contacts and I don’t like bugs planting into my face. He had a Harley Sportster that would fly.
We had adventures on that bike. Woody’s rule – never go 20 miles without a pack of tools strapped onto the back. The engine vibrated miserably. Every time we stopped, he tightened bolts. Sometimes he stopped on purpose to tighten bolts. There was a covered bridge, perhaps the one over Cabin Creek in Mason County that was fairly high over a deep-wooded ravine. We would always take a break there. We’d sit out on the outside of the covered bridge, legs dangling off the concrete supports Stock Bower added when he restored the bridge…and drink some beers, he’d\we’d smoke, and take in the lush beauty of the place. Quiet, the rustle of deer, squirrels, woodpeckers, yeah…the good life! In hot, dry Augusts, lots of times there’d be snakes swimming across the creek all afternoon. Woody had a 22-semi automatic pistol. We would take turns shooting snakes. ooh, to think back about it….it seems so brutal. But it was exhilarating at the same time……UGH, I did that!!! I killed those poor snakes….and I hate snakes. I feel like that two-headed monster again.

Sarah gave me an interesting idea tonight!

Outer Limits

I have a little photo album with old black and white pictures in it.  I’ve been scanning them because some look to be fading.  When I left home, I took a handful of photos that I didn’t think anyone would miss.  They had shoeboxes of photos, but I don't know what happened to them.  

dad & me, 1963

I found this one of my dad and me; it was probably taken by my grandfather.  It was developed in March of ’63 according to the date on the back.  I would have been 5.  Obviously we had already moved to Portsmouth because this photo is taken in Mound Park.  It looks like he is putting a balsa wood airplane together.  On one corner of the park, there was a little store that sold ice cream, pop, candy, airplanes, and kites.  Sometimes my brothers and I would scour the alleys picking up empty bottles.  We’d pick up a couple of grocery sacks of them and take them into the store for the refunds.  On a good day, we’d have enough for a plane and pack of baseball cards.  Actually, my brothers liked baseball cards.  I liked Outer Limits cards.  Same idea, but the cards had monsters on them from the Outer Limits TV series.  I loved having them, but they gave me nightmares! 
Outer Limits cards

Dad used to drive down and visit us every few months when we were young.  We had fun when he visited.  We did stuff with him my grandmother would have never let us do…like ride our bikes in the street, take a drag off his cigarette, and play with his lighter (I was especially fond of anything fire related).  He drove a Mustang for a while and I remember him taking us for a ride in it.  He drove very fast…so fast it scared me. He laughed at us for being afraid and told us we were worry-warts like our grandmother.  I really don’t remember much about him other than that.  My grandmother always said my older brother was just like him.   


Thursday, October 6, 2011

rest in peace, Steve Jobs

In 2005, following the bout with cancer, Jobs delivered Stanford University's commencement speech.

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life," he said. "Because almost everything -- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure -- these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important."

Read more:

It makes me sad that Steve Jobs passed away yesterday. Evidently he knew the end was near six weeks ago when he gave up his position with Apple. I have read that he could be a real asshole to work with at times, but who isn’t an asshole when he is trying to realize a vision? His passion drove him to clear away obstacles – whoever or whatever they were. The world has lost a dreamer and a great mind.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

reality check

I went into work this morning, all inspired to volunteer for a crazy project doomed for failure. Why? I can make the difference. I like the project leader and I hate to see him fail so miserably. I docked my laptop, plopped down into my chair and all enthusiasm left when I saw how many emails were waiting. How can I volunteer for more when I can’t begin to juggle all I have now? STUPID!

My boss sent me an urgent notice to schedule a meeting with him today. Ok then – our calendars showed the only overlapping free time was noon and I wanted to take Gracie to get her stitches out today (she was spayed 10 days ago), and I know my boss likes to work out at lunch every day. I rescheduled two meetings to fit us together this afternoon. I called him expecting something Important and all he asked me about was something I’ve been telling him about in the past 6 project status updates and two prior monthly progress letters I’ve sent him (not to mention I invited him to the demo a few weeks ago and providing him a summary of meetings about this thing he asked me about). Why do I have to waste my time writing all this crap for him when obviously he doesn’t read it. Retirement is looking better every day.

So here’s another photo I found of my brothers and me. It’s kind of neat to see that ice creams bars were nine cents back in those days. I haven’t bought one forever….have no idea what they cost now. Probably they are smaller, and cost at least 90 cents. I might go visit my brother this weekend…I haven’t seen him in a while. We talked on the phone last week; nothing has changed...other than he is sicker and more desperate.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

permanent insanity

I worked out of town today and was offline from wake-up (6:15 AM) until now. I must be an Internet junkie. Not only that, I had my cell off almost all day. ugh…….*need oxygen*. My neuro system craves electronic stimulation…apparently.

So today I had a “training” course in the morning that I hoped would be was OK, BUT…but I didn’t learn much. The guy gave a lecture on influencing organizational culture. He didn’ t tell me anything I didn’t already know, and I thought his conceptualizations of culture and climate were conflicting and even confusing.  He was an awesome entertainer though. He took a potentially boring topic and made it interesting….and gave me some brilliant ideas! That makes it worth it to me personally. He was also quite nice to look at. He had curly dark hair *giggle*

Oh dear God…I’ve been hitting the whiskey tonight. I’m about to make a dreadful confession and post it for the world. *breathe* I’m going to volunteer for a project team in the morning. Actually, I want to unite some project coalitions. It’s going to be exciting!! The meeting this afternoon was fascinating, a strategy meeting. It’s a risky project, but potentially monumental. I’m insane!

Monday, October 3, 2011


I am officially done!!! DONE!!! The last assignments and team paper for the last class are submitted. Now, just the dissertation. I’m taking a few days off and then it’s do or die. With the last couple of classes I learned a different method that makes me a more efficient writer. Why did it take three years to figure it out?? No matter, I need to see what’s been published in the past six months that’s relevant. Also, there’s some new motivation in the news lately – several severe industrial accidents at a steel mill and a chemical plant in our area.

My girls went to their high school homecoming dance last Saturday night. Such a big deal for them! They both said they had a good time and I’m happy for them. They got to pretend to be princesses again (only it’s a lot more expensive at 15 than when they were five).
Before the dance

It’s hard to get excited over school dances.  I couldn’t buy a date back then, so school dances served only to remind me about what a loser I was.  I was so homely and geeky, no people skills at all…nothing going for me.  So, oh well, there was never any danger of me turning up with teenage pregnancy or STDs. Nowadays, every dance is like a prom.  Fancy clothes, flowers, dinner before, entertainment after, etc.  Girls get their hair, makeup, and nails professionally done.  Some even go to the tanning bed.  Ridiculous!!  Too much money and focus on appearances for one night.  It's cost prohibitive for kids whose families don't have that kind of money to throw away.   

Saturday, October 1, 2011


The witching hour approaches. Tomorrow is the homecoming dance at our high school. PLANS….of course the girls have BIG plans. I have been focused on my laptop this afternoon and evening. The girl voices jibber-jabbered in one ear / out the other. The tone was BIG PLANS. A house-full of kids coming over after the dance. We are so close to the high school…we’re convenient. That’s good and bad! Someone has agreed to do the bulk of the running (to the mall, hair salon, tennis, grocery store, etc. ad nauseum tomorrow). What a trooper!

So we had an interesting Discussion Question #2 due tonight. I was supposed to pose a discussion topic to the class. My question is what are the legal and ethical implications of capturing and using data collected on minors without parental consent? Business is become more invasive with their marketing tactics – RFIDs, contextual awareness, and pervasive computing. It’s very interesting to imagine all the ways our privacy could be invaded.

Winding down from this class…not yet. I submitted my most significant part of the team paper today (thanks to ½ vacation day from work). It was about my IT leadership model – dimensions were communication, relationship management, and authority. I proposed and supported it. Thanks very much, Mr. Team Lead. I was damn grateful you offered to take charge! I mean that most sincerely!!!

Work! I have opportunity in my hands. It’s good!!!

Photo – souvenirs from last Thursday’s walk around the lake. Signs of fall. My coworker and I escape some afternoons….a brisk 15 minute walk around the lake. A breath of sanity!