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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Boo Hoo -- It's Hallowed Weenie !!

Today marks Halloween. The last day of October. It was one year ago today that I marched myself with glamour and glitz down to the 24 Hour Fitness near our home. A nice gym, busier than you know what, and signed up for our monthly corporate fitness rate. I was an animal all winter long. Yoga numerous times a week along with the free weights, treadmill, and floor/core who-hah. Then the nicer weather of late spring and summer arrived and my staring-at-the-handsome-men-in-the-gym-time went to nearly zero. I've been giving a ton of thought to the ins and outs of motivation. What motivates each of us in different ways. The internal versus external motivational factors. What makes one person totally get into going to the gym and what makes others never step a foot into a gym in their entire lives. I have no conclusion here. I enjoyed my time there. A lot. But where is the motivation? What happens inside me that short-circuits my actually getting there. I suppose it's precisely the same as my advice to alcoholics: "Put down the bottle." It's that simple, really. "Get thee in the Camry and drive the 1.3 miles to the gym," is what will solve my not going...right? But, wait, there's a big giant "I'd rather stay home" Monster between me and the gym...........

Two weeks ago we saw Company. A Sondheim musical. Honestly, we've been together 12 years and have seen very little live theater. And that's weird because we both love it. We've never even made time to see the Oregon Symphony which is something we'd love to do. Company starred our longtime friend Andrew. He was amazing. Perfect. And I was able to add Company to my list of things I've done in my life.

Since we live in a condo building where the trick-or-treater component is absolute zero, we decided to go and see Portland's version of The Beggar's Opera tonight. Another good friend Stephen is the director of it. I know next to nothing about opera. I've seen exactly, precisely, one opera in my life -- Mozart's The Magic Flute in Prague....in the very theater that The Magic Flute was performed at in the late 1700s. And the very theater that Mozart himself directed it in. A very very exciting night, to say the least. And, so, tonight.....Portland's Beggar's Opera.

MIL continues to be fine, not great, but at least functioning alone semi-well. You see, in spite of whatever physical issues she has going, her emotional instability plays into the physical easily, quickly, smoothly. She has been prescribed both antianxiety and antidepression medications. But she doesn't take them....well, "unless I need them." She allows her emotions, high-highs and low-lows to take over her body and drag her physical self right down the tubes. She cries wolf. She doesn't ask for what she needs but, instead, makes up little stories and plays games so that everything is a watered-down, clear-as-mud mess when it comes to figuring out exactly what she is saying and needing. The connection between one's emotion/head games and physical ailments is closely knit. A minimal physical ailment can be turned into a full-blown hospital stay within hours......And it's hard to for this type-A guy to play into that crap.

Lover Boy just ordered me The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen after I saw him on the Oprah show. "Delicious meatless recipes that will change the way you eat," is his claim to fame on the front of the book. I glanced through it last night and fell in love. Although I do have to say (and this would be as good of time to do so as any), that as a nearly-vegetarian guy, I am not overly in love with a couple of the foods that typically find themselves into vegetarian recipes: Tofu and Mushrooms. I mean, they're okay....but they are not my favorites. And it seems that they are in a high percentage of veggie recipes. So, I'm going to dive in to the book and see what happens (well, not actually dive into the book....but you know what I mean.....don't you????).

Also, as a side note, it will be four years ago tomorrow (November 1) that we embarked on one of our favorite vacations with our good friends. We flew from Portland-Chicago-Krakow, Poland. We visited Auschwitz and fell in love with this perfectly old and beautiful Eastern European city. We took the train from Krakow to Prague where we saw the The Magic Flute (mentioned above) along with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. We left Prague on the train for Dresden, Germany, and had a ball in this city that was nearly totally destroyed in one single bombing raid during WW2. So, in spite of the fact that it looks old today, it actually isn't -- it's been rebuilt to visually look old. Weird.

This crap's gone on long enough for today folks. I've got a bad Halloween attitude to deal with......gotta run (and, please Mary!, could there be any more links in this post.....for god's sake, give it up with the links............)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pride, Arrogance and High Powered Attitudes

Woops....that's about the only way I can describe this picture. You can't see it overly well...but you can see that the route went to the right (east) of MSP before it made a few turns and headed back. It's the flight plan for Northwest/Delta flight 188 last Wednesday, October 21, when it was supposed to have landed at Minneapolis but, instead, decided to burn up a little more fuel before it made its way back to MSP. The pilots were, apparently, in a heated discussion about their company's pilot scheduling component. And, having heard such discussions many times in my 15 years in the airline business, I can only imagine that it was, as they said, "heated." Airline employees in general, and especially pilots and flight attendants, are quite passionate about their jobs, their schedules, their seniority, and what they believe they "should have" and what they "shouldn't have." It's nearly always a constant battle between union and company -- employee and management.
I love my job, don't get me wrong. And I've got a long list of very valuable friends in every single position in the industry from management to front-line customer service personnel. They are people typically given to good times, laughter, and enjoy their jobs. But not always. The recent turbulent history of the airline industry has lent itself to a growing dissatisfaction of pilots and other with their jobs. They don't like their salaries, their management, their hours, their meals, their hotels, their schedules.....oh yes, their schedules! And that's where this particular story takes us. Apparently they were discussing their schedules. Remember that Delta and Northwest Airlines have merged. Northwest, as we've always known it, will go away. It will become Delta. And these were two Northwest pilots -- they are going to be merged into the Delta airlines pilot seniority list somehow -- no guarantees, they may actually lose seniority, may have to start over at a place that they aren't today....it may not be pretty. The first part of next year, there will actually be combination crews of former Northwest and former Delta pilots and flight attendants on board. And their schedules may definitely be affected. Remember, these are folks who have typically devoted a giant chunk of their time to having been educated and trained to be in charge of a multi-million dollar airliner with the lives of passengers at stake every day. It's tough -- very much so.
You must understand that the pilot in command (PIC) has complete authority of any given flight. If he doesn't feel right about any particular portion of the fight (unruly passengers, freight, weight and balance, safety issues, fuel, cabin customer service components such as lights, etc.), he has the total authority to say "No, I'm not going." He or she can, single handedly, do essentially what they want. They may have to answer for it but rarely so; but in this industry, anything blamed on "safety" will rarely be questioned. And, anything can be blamed on safety, believe me. Anything. Pilots have no direct report....no direct supervision or person to whom they report. Pilots, and flight attendants for that matter, can get a little crazy sometimes with the freedom that they have. They can come across as police enforcers. They can make decisions, or statements, that will not always be questioned. They have giant latitude in making decisions on their own. And that freedom of authority can, occasionally, get out of hand. And, believe me, I'm not pointing fingers -- I've been there and done that myself, sadly.
I've seen some of the best pilots in the world. And I've seen some of the worst. I've questioned pilots when I genuinely believe that I've needed to. But when that happens, I'd better be prepared with a damned good excuse for asking. In fact, I recently questioned a pilot about why in the world he failed to notify the flight attendants about an inflight mechanical failure of a nonessential component that resulted in an eight-hour delay for us. He wasn't happy and we got into a bit of a tiff about it. The delay isn't the issue. The failure to communicate is. His response? He claims that I was acting unprofessionally by questioning his authority and judgment. And he claims that since it was nothing that concerned me, that he chose not to say anything. I call those sorts of judgments errors. Big errors. It's the sort of thinking that got Northwest/Delta 188 in trouble. Thinking they know it all. In fact, just this morning, I overheard three pilots chatting about this little issue on the employee bus as we made our way from the employee parking lot to the airport terminal. Guess what? They justified the pilot's actions! If there hadn't been three of them on the bus this morning, I'd have spoken up -- I'm not known for being a wallflower or overly demure.
There are pilots that are pleasant, friendly and always speak to me. And there are those who will never say a word. (And, to be fair, there are flight attendants who do the same.) It's much like a doctor -- they are GOD. They hate to be questioned or asked to explain their decisions. They have the ability to make your flight, your day, your life, as easy as pie. Or like total hell. It's like any other job in the world.....we get so used to doing what we do that we lose touch with the harsh reality that today is a new day, new faces, new opportunities -- and that we still have to be diligent to pay attention, double check all that we need to, and make it the safest flight possible. Pride, arrogance, and high powered attitudes don't count. Especially in this industry, that remains essential. This isn't a "bash the pilot" post. It is, however, a reminder to all of us to remain engaged and active in our jobs, our lives, our families and responsibilities.
So, when I hear about pilots who accidentally go 150 miles beyond where they are supposed to because they were having a heated discussion about their management and their scheduling, I am concerned. I don't care what they were doing in the flight deck. It matters not whether they were eating, sleeping, on their laptops, giving head to each other, or reading a newspaper. I don't care if they like their jobs, were happy, or hated their management. What does matter, unequivocally so, is that they failed at being the pilots in command of a flight. They failed at receiving and responding to radio and text calls. They were not coherent or in control. A coherent person would have not only heard the radio call, but actually responded to it as required. They failed at being in charge of their flight. And it took a flight attendant's interphone call to remedy that. And for that, my friends, they should be fired.

Friday, October 23, 2009

(De)Fragmented Friday Fineries

Momma in law is home as of yesterday afternoon. We had her entire apartment cleaned as best we could and rearranged so she could move easily with her walker without tripping. Her refrigerator and freezer are stocked so full you wouldn't believe it. She seems to be in good spirits now that she's out of the place she hated so much. I have one thing to say: If I ever end up in a hospital or rehabilitation center, I hope that I treat other people pleasantly and appreciate others for what they do for me without griping, complaining, and flying off the handle at them. Enough said.

I miss my hubby this morning. For the second time in the recent weeks, he's found his way out of bed in the middle of the night because of an inability to sleep. It's been very stressful being the sole caregivers for the aforementioned MIL -- No other family members here to run errands and take her to appointments and no family helping reimburse us for the mounting costs of helping her maintain her life. We've had little time together, no gym time, and a busy work schedule. And we've had very little Mason and home time. So, neither of us have been sleeping well. We've been trying to find time for a trip to the Oregon Coast -- it's only 1 1/2 hours away and we haven't been there in more than two years. But, there's no time. And I need a trip to Boise to see my mom and sis.....and there's no time for that either. So, all of that to say that we need to get better sleep and regain some sense of normality.

Did you know that most (all?) schools nowadays have a zero-tolerance drug policy -- and I mean no aspirin, Tylenol, no nothing. So, one of my family members in 8th grade found that out the hard way. She found some sort of pill underneath a school desk and split it with a classmate. (I know, I know....very very silly.) She's a bright, educated, smart, intelligent and beautiful young lady and it surprised me more than you can imagine. So, another classmate watched them do this, turned them in to the school officials, and they were both suspended immediately for a minimum of five days while the school Board sorted out the issue. That's how it works. No questions, no nothing .... you get expelled .... no matter the drug, the story behind it, nothing. She went to the ER and had a drug test which showed no narcotics in her system. Then she is required to go before the School Board and plead her case, just like in court. The fine for actually being the "distributor" of the drug? The remainder of the semester off....until January! Fortunately for her, the School Board believed her story and allowed her to return to school with a requirement to attend some sort of drug classes. So, be warned, zero tolerance means exactly that.

My increasingly slow Sony Vaio laptop is bugging the hell out of me. I do all of my regular scans for viruses, run the defragmenter, clear the cookies, and all of that.....but it's not all that much better. I mean, I click on something and it's like I don't even know if it's registered the click or not...I wait, and wait. Dial-up speed (remember the OLD days??). Nothing appears to be wrong, and I can't find a definitive answer. So, I'm not sure what to do. It's just one more thing to add to my list of life's annoyances right now. So, after we climb into bed last night, hubby appears to be asleep when I see his eyes closed but his mouth say, "Aaaapppplllleeee." And then, "Maaccc Booooookkkkkkk." And then pretends to be snoring. I rolled him over and pry his eyes open to look at me. He said, "Just make sure they save one more for me because I want one too." I guess we both have a hankering for a Macbook. He tells me that he won't be surprised to see one on my desk when he returns from Seattle today.

And one more little teeny tiny thing: The Northwest Airline's pilots that accidently overflew their destination a few days back? You know, the ones that went 1:20 without radio contact? The ones that said they were having a heated discussion about company policy in the flight deck and were distracted? Fire 'em. Now.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Brutal Harshness of My Frail Humanity

I'm not quite sure where this is going. But I do know it's going to be honest. You've been warned. If you're the type of person who can't deal with straightforwardness, I'd suggest grabbing the Sunday comic section from last weekend's paper. I've had it. And not just today. It seems to be happening on a day-to-day basis. I keep on saying to myself and my partner, "I've had it." I'm edgy, irritated, upset, and angry and the slightest, oh say, driver who doesn't signal or people who stop at the bottom of escalators in spite of the fact there are a hundred more folks coming right behind them. Even taking the dog for a walk is getting on my nerves. Those are the sorts of things that are like pouring gasoline on a small fire.

As you well know, my MIL has been in the hospital and now in a rehabilitation center for two weeks. She's a horrible patient with even worse patience. It's always like dealing with a child in an adult's clothing. Yeah, okay, so I can sort through that on my better days -- I've known her long enough. But what I can't deal with is the effect that her actions, words, and thought processes continue to have on me, us, both of us. She has officially set "Wednesday as the day I'm going home." Oh, really? No doctors have been consulted, no social workers have advised, no home care has been arranged, and she can't even walk more than around 20 feet at a time. At home she's got an aging dog with breathing difficulties, has to cook and clean for herself, and her apartment is filled with so much furniture that you wouldn't believe it -- all things that we've tried to get rid of for years in an effort to simplify but are all things that she just has to have. She lives in a senior apartment without assistance or care. By herself. I told her yesterday that her going home has a giant mental heaviness that sits on my head because we are the only two responsible for her -- that I'm concerned for her being by herself and that it's us that have to deal with her continued issues. It's like talking to a doorknob. She doesn't care. "I can do it -- I just have to get out of here," she says with that wild-eyed, throw-caution-to-the-wind sort of look in her eyes. Um, yeah....okay, we'll see how that goes. And all of this from a woman who, in a fit of rage and anger, told me several years ago to "Get the hell out of my house and don't ever darken my doorway again." Makes it really tough to even want to help out. And it's not like I don't think she doesn't appreciate our caring....it's simply that I don't think it just doesn't make any real difference many times. It's never quite good enough. (Note to self: Remember this paragraph when we get a phone call in the middle of the night......)

I'm the sole driver in our family -- neither she nor my partner drive. And her other two sons don't live here and have minimal involvement on any sort of productive, essential level in her day-to-day care. Remember, you never know exactly who is going to be wiping your ass at any given point in your life. And if you're looking for a "thank you" from those that you should be receiving a "thank you" from, good luck with that. Caregiving is a real bitch sometimes. And I've honestly really had to sort through that in my mind for years now. And at times like this, I don't do a very good job at it and realize the brutal harshness that is my frail humanity. The pressure's on and there a lot of extra things that have to be done right now. I am solely responsible for anything that requires driving -- her trips to the grocery store, to get her prescriptions, to take her to doctor's visits, to get dog food when she runs out, and and and and........ and, again, I've reached my limit. I don't have the luxury of saying, "No." Occasionally I do. But I feel badly for knowing that I've denied an elderly person their sense of well being and that I'm not being nice. But I just have to draw the lines sometimes. I just cannot do it all.

Whiner? Perhaps. I'm not above confessing and sorting through my shortcomings. Just serve me a nice Brie with the whine, would you please? And a glass of chilled pinot gris would be lovely as well. I do it rarely but I'm afraid that I'm about to be doing it more and more often. These are issues that started long ago and battles that I've waged in my own head and soul for many years. And the feelings have not been resolved. And it's these pressure cooker sort of times that bring out either the best or the worst in folks, you know. I'm an organized, straightforward, logical, common sense thinker sort of guy. I get things done. A mover-and-shaker sort of dweeb. I do not do well at playing games, living with drama and the same old tired stories that I've heard for years. And that doesn't play out well in the land of Oz -- where fantasy, dreams, wishes, and hopes rarely come true.

I wish I were more like my own Mother sometimes. She's quite the woman -- always putting herself second and others first. I consider her and my long-passed grandmother frequently. They both had that innate quality of beauty, consideration for others always, and the gift of providing for others at all costs without complaint or the bad attitudes that pervade me today. I wonder if I can buy, purchase or even steal a better attitude? Either that or somebody's going to strangle somebody.....I swear it. I'm looking for duct tape, bed sheets, and razor blades as we speak.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Whose Going to Wipe Your Ass ?

Seriously. Whose going to wipe it? When you can't. When you are too old to do it, or your hands can't get down there the way they are supposed to. Have you thought about it? Probably not. But if you're demented like I am and try to do now what you're supposed to be so that your future years have as few problems as necessary, maybe you have considered it.

My mother in law has been in the hospital and now a rehabilitation center for nearly two weeks now. She lives alone since my father in law passed away more than a year ago. It's not the first time I've given this ass-wiping ceremony some thought. I've had more than my share of illnesses in my family. But who in your life right now, today!, will be by your side to clean up after you, cook for you, buy your groceries for you, take you to your doctor's appointments when you can't drive, pay your bills for you when you are living on straight Social Security and can't afford them, and yes, wipe up your bottom properly? Will it be your children? If you have none like me, then you can shoot that idea right out the window (maybe I should adopt a handsome young 18-year-old for these purposes??). Maybe a neighbor will help out. Or a friend. Or someone in your church, club, or little group. Or, perhaps, a combination of all of the above. I do know that you can't truly depend on anyone in particular -- children move away and have nothing to do with their parent's day-to-day care any longer except for an occasional obligatory phone call ..... husbands and wives and partners die or move or divorce ..... friends and family come and go. I'm not sure that anyone can truly be counted on for those end-of-life years that really look better on paper than in real life.

So, go ahead, push that call button that's been clipped onto your sheets -- push it and just wait....wait and see how long it takes for someone to show up to help you get onto the toilet. Or who shows up. I wonder who it will be. Let's see now, where is that call button........

Friday, October 16, 2009

Um Hum.....

Um hum.....this is my kind of morning. I love weather, all kinds of weather, sunrises, sunsets, snow and rain, gray and blue. This is what we had to endure this morning.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Vacation? Holiday?

Or shall we call it a holiday? Either way, it's been interesting. And I've got a bad attitude. So, go ahead, point fingers at me and call me bad names. I'll still have one.

Sean and Jeffrey didn't come to Portland at the very last minute....something about a little bowel obstruction, tubes down his throat, a lengthy hospital stay, and possible impending surgery. But, nonetheless, we have hospitals here.....(kidding, so don't start the hate mail). Needless to say, I was very disappointed.

My Mother in law fell and injured her leg. She's just finished six days in the hospital and is now in a rehabilitation facility. She's cranky and a very bad patient with a bad attitude. And she's gone way down hill. I'm hoping for a speedy recovery but, I have to say, when you take an 80 year old and stick 'em in bed, it's not a good idea. Our days have been filled with talk of Living Wills and Powers of Attorneys. Fingers crossed.

I've been sick and have felt like doing absolutely nothing -- but, instead, I've been doing everything...... Congested, head cold, bit of a sore throat. That always makes things better, doesn't it?

We had a giant party here on Sunday evening (to remember Sean and Jeffrey who were not able to join us, celebrate National Coming Out Day and the Equality March, and Christopher Columbus too). Lots of good friends, drinks, and food.....but it probably wasn't the best time for a party.....in spite of what you'll see in this picture.

Holiday? Vacation? Not so much.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Holy Hump Day !

I can't quite find the time to formulate any beautiful, white-picket-fence-laden thoughts, I'm afraid. In between bouts of having to work (it's a money thing), we're getting ready for the arrival of our good buddies Sean and Jeffrey tomorrow. You'll recall this post outlining the festivities! I can't believe that they are almost here......yippee! There are toilets to scrub (well, just one, actually), doggies to bathe (well, just one, actually), and floors to clean. Oh, I guess I'll wash their sheets as well, just out of my good-natured heart. And, by the way, if you're in the Portland area and would like to stop in this coming Sunday afternoon, October 11, at 4pm, you're more than welcome to -- we're having a little get together to introduce all of our Portland friends to Sean and Jeffrey -- email me for details if you'd like.

In addition, my MIL took a fall when her legs became tangled in a dog's leash yesterday. Not good when you're more than 80 and already have a hard time walking. So, 911-ambulance-ER = No broken bones. ....whew. But, I do have to admit, that sitting in the ER waiting room for numerous hours provided me with enough fodder for six year's worth of blog posts. Let me put it this way: Wal Mart has NOTHING over the ER that I sat in last night. Nothing. There was a young lady cornered by two hospital security guards and asked about her reason for being in the hospital, who she was, what she was doing, etc. They told her they'd be right back with her. And what did she do? Made a bee-line for me....ME! She came right over and sat next to me in her winter coat with the hood pulled up and her little cutsie pajama bottoms and slippers. I should have offered her a cocktail.

So, today is going to be spent sorting out MIL's condition, whether she can go home and function alone or not. And to top it off, she has a really bad attitude about hospitals and doctors. She is agitated, upset, irritated, and angry. It's not pleasant. I can hardly wait.

The weather has been more than perfect. Cold nights, fantastic fall days. I love it. In fact, I love weather....all kinds. So, that's a good thing.

Oh, by the way, do you all have your orders placed with Amazon for Going Rogue, Sarah Palin's latest and, perhaps, greatest? Hehehehe. Smooches.

Friday, October 02, 2009

One Year Ago Today -----

One year ago this morning....5:30am Pacific time....my father in law passed away. As we all here frequently about many things, I can't believe it's been a year. Seriously, it feel like it's been maybe six months or something....but a year? Nah, it just couldn't have been. And today, I'm in Chicago, and tomorrow I go to Anchorage -- I'm away from home and feeling like I really should be at home to stick close by my amazing man and his mom on this day. I remember writing about him a year ago. I must say, my dear husband and his mom have both been real troopers this year. They've picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and carried on just the way he would have wanted. So, to my lover, I commend you -- for the choices you've made, the advances you've taken, and for the times you've not felt like doing the right thing but have anyway. I hate being away from him today. So, today, we remember.......and we learn, and we carry on -- hopefully better people than we were yesterday.

A week from today, Sean and Jeffrey will grace us with their presence in our villa. Small villa, but villa nonetheless. Sean has done a superb job of spelling things out for us all. Honestly, I haven't been this excited for a while about much -- I love enjoying brand new experience with people. It's friends like these that make the world a better place. We can hardly wait boys! And, by the way, if you're in Portland, you are more than welcome to join us at our condominium on Sunday, October 11, at 4pm for a get-together....bring a snack and share it with some of the world's greatest people.

I finished a 24-hour layover in Los Angeles yesterday and had the chance to meet two more amazing bloggers that I'd only known online until yesterday. Jim from Jim's Notes picked me up at my hotel and took me to Hermosa Beach where we sat up on the second floor over looking the Pacific Ocean on a beautiful sunny day. Jim and I snarked ourselves up and down the streets trying to find the main drag to take us where we wanted to go. We practiced the latest in cuss words, made fun of people, cruised handsome California beach boys (well, I did....he was wondering why my head kept snapping in every direction), and walked out to the end of the Hermosa Beach Pier and watched the fisherman. What a day. And then, I coerced Wil from WAT Central into coming ALL of the way in traffic at dinner time to my hotel after his long day at work. We enjoyed snacks and a yummy Amaretto Sour in the hotel's restaurant. We bantered about life, relationships, fake people and why they have such a hard time existing in relationships, his family history and his job. He's a honest guy and, like me, will always tell you the truth in a matter-of-fact sort of way. Many, many thanks to both of my newfound in-person friends for making time for me. I really appreciated our time together.

And to continue the "meeting new people whirlwind," I had the chance to meet, laugh and giggle with Derek of The Thoughts of a Princessa of Mexico. We live in the same city, we Facebook together daily, and yet we'd never met in person....but that's all changed now. Derek is fun-loving, happy, pleasant, and positive to be around -- he leaves you feeling good about life. Derek, you're a doll and the pleasure was all mine.

And now, for more exciting fashion news, my hair is longer than it's been for a very long time. I'm not quite sure why or how long it's going to get or exactly what the style is supposed to actually be or look like....but I've decided that I'd like to have it a little longer, a little shaggy sort of look maybe. So, we'll see. It's sort of like starting out on a cross-country road trip without a road map. But, hey, that's all a part of the goodness of life...right?