Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I was a terribly geeky teenager – as geeky as they come.  No social skills whatsoever, few  friends, no sense of personal style – you get the picture.  I tried my best to dress and look like everyone else around me, blending in (being invisible) as best as I could…it was hard.

I was in the high school band.  In those days, being in band was something popular kids did.  I joined band because I liked music.  Teens these days are shocked to even imagine band kids could ever be popular.  Anyway, during marching season, we were bussed to the football stadium across town to practice half time shows for the last two periods of every day.  During concert season, we had band 7th period of the day and students were excused 8th period and could go home.  

Across the street from our school was the city’s public library.  Usually, my girlfriend, also in band, and I went to the library for 8th period and did homework while we waited for her dad to pick us up when he got off work.  The library was oftentimes used by students who attended the community college.  One day, there was a college student/ man who was ever so dreamy sitting at a table across the room from us.  He was working hard and rarely looked up.  My imagination ran wild.  He was definitely my type – long blond hair down on his shoulders, and a beard and mustache.  Very, very, very cute.  I was around 16, with virtually no experience with boys.  My girlfriend saw me staring at him and commented that he was gorgeous (not in those words) but to forget about him because he was way out of our league.  Of course, I knew that but I liked watching him work.  He was perfect in every way.  

This mystery man started showing up on a regular basis.  We always sat at the same table and when we walked in, sometimes he was sitting closer to our table.  Weeks went by.  Pretty girls flirted with him and sat down to visit with him.  I lost all hope.    

One afternoon, we arrived at the library and there he was, sitting at the table not far from ours.  I tossed my books on the table and went to the restroom.  Coming back, I stopped in the stacks to browse.  My girlfriend came back to find me, “What the hell are you doing?  He asked about you.  He wanted to know your name and if you’re dating someone.  I think he’s going to ask you out.  Get back out here!”  Paralysis.  My brain went numb as my friend went back out to our table.  I dashed back into the restroom to check my hair and face…as if it even mattered at that point.  Freaking out totally, a million worries running through my mind – I (hideous geek) might have to talk to the magnificent guy.  He might say something to me.  He might figure out what a total nerdy geeky freak I am and regret speaking to me.  Etc. etc.

Adrenaline high and rubber legs, I hid and spied on the perfectly-beautiful goldilocks bearded Adonis boy/man for a few minutes.   Courage.  I sauntered out from the stacks trying to act like I didn’t have a clue anything was up.  I purposely looked in the opposite direction, away from Mr. Beautiful, as if I forgot he was there.  I have no idea what happened exactly, but somehow I tripped over my feet and fell flat.  KERTHUD - right in the middle of the library floor.  It didn’t hurt me but you can’t begin to imagine my embarrassment.  I jumped up, face flaming red, silent mental meltdown.  The librarian came running out from behind her desk, “OH MY GOD!  ARE YOU OK????”  Thanks for announcing to the world, lady, “yes.  I’m fine,” I muttered.  I died a thousand deaths in those moments, walked over to the table, and sat with my back to Mr. No-chance-now. 

My friend shook her head and hissed, “You’re really unbelievable.  You’re never going to get a husband.”  I knew it already and didn’t need to hear it from her.   But if you can believe in miracles, Mr. Beautiful waited 15 minutes or so and came over to our table.  He introduced himself, we talked a few minutes, and he asked for my phone number.  We dated for eight months or so until he transferred to a university and moved out of town.  He was a good friend, and it all ended well.  I have no idea where in the world he is, but I hope his life is good.   

Saturday, January 28, 2012

asleep at the wheel

It was a busy day until I crashed for a wee (3.5 hour) nap this afternoon.  Don’t you hate when that happens!  It's one thing to catnap at the keyboard - a 10-15 minute time-lapse of lost productivity.  What happened today was a total mind-slip nap.  I wandered into the living room and was lured by a blanket piled on the couch.  "Come to me," it said.  I obeyed.  My grandiose plans for completing the Chapter 1 rewrite vaporized with the perpetual passage of time.   

Baby Jack Damien

We are done with the renovations to our house.  Now it’s a matter of trying to maintain a decent level of cleanliness while restoring some semblance of order…while rewriting Chapter 1 and working a full time job.  Writing that sentence just made me want a big slug of caffeine.

The improvements to our house are wonderful, but now I see more work that should be done.  Perhaps if we just get rid of more junk…well, do that then decide what’s next.   
Today was a day of intense research, among other special events.  Tomorrow, I’m ready to write.  Attack at dawn!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

On the road

Tonight, I’m alone in a nice motel room in a small town in northwestern Ohio.  There’s a big meeting here tomorrow morning that I have to attend.  It’s not a bad gig, but a bit inconvenient for Someone when I have to go out of town.  He is left to deal with the kids.  Now that they’re older, it’s not too bad.  They can fend for themselves when it comes to food and laundry.  They are also pretty reliable about getting ready for school on time.  Pretty much, Someone only has to keep peace and battle any invading wildlife, such as spiders or moths.  Erin flips out when she sees a spider and Emily freaks at any bugs that fly.  I have no idea why my girls are so phobic about these little critters.    
Do they bite?
I kind of like having a nice motel room all to myself.  I control which bed to sleep in (two queen beds in corporate-rate rooms here), and which side of the bed I want to sleep on.  I own the TV remote.  It’s an awesome power, and best of all, I can set the temperature to 85 if I want to with no cares about the electric bill.  The car rental company brought me an ugly green minivan – a Dodge Caravan, no less.  It wasn’t as uncomfortable as the jeep I rented once, and it has satellite radio which I LOVE.  If I had tons of money, I’d subscribe to satellite radio.  The neatest feature of all about the Caravan is that it has a camera that displays what is behind you when the van is in reverse.  That is a great feature.  I wish my Odyssey had it.

My chairman finally gave me feedback on Chapter 2.  He says he marked the changes and it looks great – yeah, he changed a three-word phrase in the first paragraph and there’s nothing else marked.  Am I really that good?  I know better – the chapter is 45 pages long.  I doubt he read past the first paragraph.  I sent it to the committee member who has been most helpful.  I believe she will read it and bleed all over it…which is a good thing because then I’ll know how to improve it.  My committee lady says she needs 7 days.  Very reasonable.      

So, I guess I’d better review some stuff for the meeting in the morning.  The night is getting away from me and there’re some design specs and workflow I’m supposed to talk intelligently about.           

Friday, January 20, 2012


I was drafting an email to my academic advisor to ask the procedure for replacing my chairman.  I had given up all hope.  Tonight, my chairman redeemed himself.  He even suggested I should text him if I have questions and I know how to text.  Know how to text?  Does he think I’m a dinosaur?  He probably does; I’m at least 20 years older than him. 

The best news!  He approves of the instrument to measure safety voice.  No longer will I be looking at intentions to report near miss incidents.  No instrument exists and I have no time for developing an instrument.  Safety voice is conceptualized as including such things as speaking up when things are unsafe, reporting hazards, ratting out coworkers who violate safety procedures, and other such things.  Safety voice includes reporting near misses although the researchers who termed it did not specifically mention near misses.  By most definitions, near misses include not only no-harm incidents but also identification of hazardous conditions or unsafe actions.     

So anyway, I’m busy on a new section for Chapter 2, and I’ll have to go back through Chapters 1 and 3 to  restate research questions and hypotheses.  Fun, fun, and more fun.  I don’t care.  It’s progress and there hasn’t been enough of that lately!!!    

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I'm the moss

If you read my blog at all, you might have noticed that things have been kind of bad lately.  It’s me not dealing with stuff going on.  I can only put myself out for so long, then I have to crawl back and have some time to recoup.  I’m not the person I have to pretend to be – the expectation of somebody who is a go-getter, articulate, master of all things, drive for results, etc.  I’m really a silent jelly sloth.  It takes a lot of energy to be a rose bush, all thorny and vibrant, when really you are a bit of moss under the rocks. 

So I sat through a meeting today, invited as a subject matter expert (SME).  I was asked to give opinions on various crap.  I articulated as expected, used the right technical words as expected, the correct tone of authority as expected.  Inside, I’m thinking what the hell is he talking about?  How the hell should I know that?  What WILL we do about that issue?  Is this for real?  Some great SME I am.  With the meeting over, whew!  I felt like I was just pressed through the wringer of an old fashioned washing machine. 

My great grandmother actually had an old fashioned washing machine with a wringer.  It was sort of a giant white rusted tub on legs with wheels.  My great aunts and grandmother did laundry on the back porch and let the used water empty through the hose out into the yard and into the garden where it made a muddy mess.  They filled the tub with water from the cistern using buckets.  It really didn’t take much water to do laundry, but they did small loads in comparison to the super capacity washing machine I have now.  My job was to take the washed clothes and hang them up on the clothesline outside to dry, and also take them down when they were dry.  I hung dark colors in the shade and light colors in the sun, and was given explicit instructions about clothes pin placement on various items.  God forbid I should get it wrong.  They didn’t use fabric softener and the clothes always seemed stiff when they were dry.  In the wintertime, they took dirty clothes to the laundry mat in Vanceburg for washing.  Good old days?  Nope.  Modern conveniences are wonderful.                 

trying to be civil

I’ve started another 8-week session with my chairman today…honestly hoping my proposal is submitted by the end of the month.  That’s my plan.  He asked how it was going.  It?  Oh, you mean that little thing you’re supposed to be helping me with?  GRRRRRR…ok, after much gnashing my teeth and growling, I came up with a 3-paragraph reply that asked three questions and suggested if he would review what I sent him more than a month ago and give me some form of feedback, I’d be most appreciative.

I moved into my new workspace.  I couldn’t situate things the way I wanted them because my part of the room just isn’t big enough.  Still, it’s so much nicer than before.  I took this photo and HORRORS!!!  One of my girls had just been in to nag me about something and sat in that spare chair for a bit...and look at the photo – she violated my space!  She left her brochure on my desk and her bag of popcorn on my printer!  NEVERMORE!!  Fair warning to all who live in this house!!!  I ordered a bookshelf which should be arriving by the end of the week.  Then I’ll have a place to keep books and stuff.  I’m also still considering a floor lamp – the overhead lighting is not very pleasant.  A big area rug would be divine! 

I stopped wearing the bandage over my lip this week.  It looks a bit scary, but I don’t care so much anymore.  It’s not like I was ever all that beautiful.  If I were gorgeous to begin with, I’d be upset about this new flaw.  I always had a scar on my lip anyway – now it’s just a whole lot bigger.  The doctor said it will continue to heal and improve for about 4 more weeks.  We’ll see. 

Work is nuts.  Really nuts.  I want to finish this dissertation and get out of that place - the sooner the better.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


In a post a while ago, I wrote about watching my mother put on her make-up and how I thought she was beautiful.  I wanted to grow up, be sophisticated, wear high heels and make-up, and look elegant all the time (the way I judged her to look).  As it turned out, when I started my career and for about the first 20 years of it, I was expected to wear suits or dresses, panty-hose, and heels to work every day.  I hated having to dress up, and the first thing I did when I got home from work was change into jeans and comfy shoes.  

I remember once when Sarah was little, maybe three years old, she was sitting on my bed and watching me get ready for a date.  A friend had invited me to a party at a country club – a very fancy party so I wanted to look nice.  Sarah sat and watched, talking non-stop as I put make-up on, painted my nails,  and curled my hair.  She asked, “Don’t you think you’ll be the most beautiful lady there?”  Do you suppose all young children think their mothers are pretty?  I assured her that I wanted to look OK in comparison to the other ladies.  I stood to walk out of the room and Sarah stated loudly, “Oh poor Mommy, you teared your pretty dress!”  OH NO!  I turned and looked in the mirror, and only saw the short slit in the skirt back of my dress (it was supposed to be there).   I explained to her that it was a design feature called a slit or a pleat that makes a dress easier to sit and climb steps in.  Sarah said that the next time she got a new dress, she wanted one with a “slut” in the back.  It made me smile.  
Isn't she lovely?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

breaking point

I haven’t been in the mood to write lately.  Things pile up until it all becomes an incredible weight.  Living gives way to “making it through another day”.  It makes me wish I could stage my death and disappear, or be abducted by space aliens who will take me away to a peaceful, idyllic galaxy far from here.  Has life ever been simple?  I don’t remember my life ever being simple, but I do remember a time when it was easier than it is now. 

What makes life complicated?  I think it’s people.  People are always doing shit to each other that makes life complicated….I do shit that makes my own life complicated.  Maybe the real problem is me.  Maybe a good long vacation away from me and this planet would do a world of good.  I bet everyone is that way, or perhaps it’s just people on the lower end of the food chain (like me) who look for escape from it all.  God should have thought of that when he designed people.  Maybe that’s why He invented alcohol…or maybe people invented alcohol to overcome God’s design flaw.   

So, work has been nuts lately.  I did somebody a favor today - it was very easy for me and what I did at least gives him a fighting chance for success.  He’s been struggling with a project  that has no stakeholder support, and inadequate leader support.  He’s into the third year with it and still has no agreement among stakeholders about what to do.  He’s been asking the wrong people for help (but he didn’t know that).  He called me today and we chatted about what he thinks is causing delays in getting buy-in.  I listened – he is lost in the jungle and standing in quick sand.  I threw him a rope and volunteered to be his Sherpa.  Maybe today I just doubled my workload for the next year….if I’m there another year.

They say what goes around, comes around.  Could somebody please throw me a rope and a compass?            

Friday, January 6, 2012

cast a net

I cast a net a few days ago, hoping to pull in some help.  I’ve not found help but some amazing things happened this week.  I stirred up a conversation on a listserv that like ten different safety professionals from around the GLOBE chimed in on.  I talked to two government agency researchers on the phone.  It’s kind of awesome to talk to people who know what I’m talking about!    

It’s time to demand a phone conversation with my chairman.  We’ve never spoken – it’s been two years and he’s like the Great and Powerful OZ – steam and fire behind the sheet! 

It's going to be an interesting weekend.  Tomorrow - a day of interior painting, research, and taking down and putting away Christmas decorations.

Yes, DANG IT!!  Research and not writing Chapter 3.  A major snag....it could be a deal breaker too.  I'm about to give my topic a new twist.  I fear the present path is dead end.  Oh really, AGAIN???      


The clock is ticking.

The hour glass is getting bottom-heavy.

So am I.

Failure on the horizon,

laughing at this wretchedly poor excuse.

If I refuse to see the inevitable

will it go away?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New year

Today was sort of a different day.  This afternoon, I’ve been really looking hard at Chapter 2.  The draft is complete.  Dr. Chairman has not reviewed any of my pre-drafts – if he did, he has not made a single comment about any of them.  The first section was a disorganized wreck.  I added some accident severity ratio theory since this is important to my study; in fact, it’s really the rationale and foundation of my study.  After that was in, I’ve started adding the subheadings to the chapter.  I like to write and organize this way.  It seems to flow better…but that’s exactly what I’m doing now – making it flow better.  The second section.  Good…easily divided into three subs.  Third section – in progress.  I like what I’ve redone so far.  It’s much better.

I changed the top of my blog to a winter photo.  I hate it.  I don’t want the cold but it’s coming.  So happy new year to the world.  If it could be a happy year for everyone in the world, that would be the best ever.