Friday, August 25, 2006

Guess Who's Teething?

And it's not my little boy!

I went to the dentist this morning--when I was on vacation, my perfect mug of clam chowder contained a bit of sand and I chomped it. Chomped it good. I was afraid I might have cracked a back molar, but I didn't feel any pain, so I filed it away as one of things to take care of when I got home.

A few nights since getting back, I've woken myself up by biting something hard, but not finding anything in my mouth. I thought it might be parts of a tooth. This week, I realized I had a dull ache on the left side of my face (same side I thought I'd cracked), and when it started getting worse yesterday I called my dentist.

OK, so I went to the dentist this morning prepared for the worst. I was thinking cracked tooth, exposed root, and root canal time! I brought two books and my mini-disc player just in case (no, I haven't gotten an iPod--I love my outdated years ago Christmas present of a mini-disc player even though it's today's equivalent to Betamax). During the x-rays, we found a surprise--a wisdom tooth!

Three years ago, I had full mouth x-rays that showed I had no wisdom teeth. I also found out I still have two baby teeth (and if I lose those, the Tooth Fairy better pay me handsomely for 30 years of care without cavities!). Anyway, the wisdom teeth must have been too far up to see, since today, I could clearly see one against my molar, coming up and in at an angle and pressing against the root of the molar as it makes its way above the surface of the gum. Turns out the pain I'm feeling is the attempted eruption.

Curious, we took some more x-rays, and found two more wisdom teeth in similar positions, about to erupt. The soreness in my right bottom gum, which I thought was from chewing too much on that side, is the from the gum trying to open to let the tooth through.

31 years old, and I'm teething! I'm way too old for this!

The good news is that my molar is just fine, no crack, no worries. And since I had my cleaning done, my dentist was able to identify a minor gum infection along my front crown work from three years ago. I say minor, but I have referrals to an endodontrist and periodontist to check all that out to make sure if doesn't get worse and I don't lose the crowns. And also, I'm going to get fitted occlusion guards to wear at night--that way, if I grind my teeth, I won't cause any more wear than I've already done. I had a root canal seven years ago after breaking a molar from grinding in my sleep--I don't want to go through that again.

And an unrelated note, I got my car back this week. The warranty company approved all the repair and I picked my car up this Wednesday morning. I can feel the difference in the steering and I kick myself for not noticing it before. But, now it's fixed and I should have another good year of driving, barring any unforeseen problems. I think if something else goes wrong, it may be time for a trade in.

On another note, because I'm proud of the work we did--this Tuesday I participated in a delivery project to give students at an impoverished school all the supplies they need for the year. My company does this every year, and this was the first time I got to see the students' reactions. Oh, my, what fun! So many smiles and thank yous, and the efforts from my company were outstanding! Thanks to our school supply drive, we provided enough supplies for 5000 students! We were able to cover two schools here in the Valley, and the rest went to the Governor's back to school program to be distributed throughout the state to similar poor schools.

Last year, we helped over 2000 students, including children who came to Phoenix after Hurricane Katrina, setting a record. This year, we broke that record. I can't wait to see what we're able to do next year!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Misquoting Paul?

CNN reported that a woman has been dismissed from teaching Sunday school--after 54 years--because her church adopted a literal interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:11-15:

Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman
to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam
was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but Eve was deceived and
became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing,
provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

I recently read Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman, and this story jumped out at me since this interpretation is directly dealt with in Ehrman's text. It is his assertion, based on a examination of the style difference of this passage and the contradiction it presents to Paul's claim that there are no male or female in Christ, that Paul did NOT write this passage. There is evidence that Paul was joined in his ministry by women, and would not have felt that women could not teach within the church. I find it really odd that this church is choosing THIS passage, since it's dissected pretty thoroughly in a book available to laypeople, not just Biblical scholars.

Apparently, women of the first centuries after Christ's death found His message quie popular--it offered a different role than that seen in the community and promoted a sense of community within the church that brought more responsibility and encouraged leadership roles in the church. The opinion is that monks, looking to preserve the subservient roles of women in some cultures, inserted this text as social comment. This revision would have happened long ago, before the concept of a canon or official copies. There are other comments discussed in the book that may have been inserted into Paul's letters to serve a similar purpose.

And now you see one of the reasons why I have not gone to a church in over a decade (this past May excluded). When it comes to the organization of religion, the organization is performed by man, and when man is involved, imperfection is the only certain factor. Some differences may be subtle (like the old joke about Methodists taking showers while Baptists prefer baths) and have little bearing over proclaimations of a true faith or honest practice of what is believed to be right. Other differences, like this situation, are more profound and have a distinct, powerful effect on the congregation that follows those differences.

Is this woman any more or any less Godly than the reverend making the decision? I don't think so, since she's likely been teaching since before the reverend was born. But because he is in the position of power, he decides the church doctrine. The result is a congregation following not the Word of God, but the word of a man. To me, that seems awfully misguided.

I'm not anti-Christian or an athiest. Agnostic, maybe. Lazy? Certainly. But I have an inner sense that tells me what is right and good and what I should and shouldn't do. That inner sense tells me that this decision is not right, and not something I would want to follow.

While My Used Car Gently Weeps

I took my car in on Friday for scheduled maintenance. I asked for the 15K service since I'm about to hit 75,000 miles, check of the brake pads since I thought they'd need replacing, and a check of my tires to confirm the tread since I'm completely paranoid after my blowout in Tom's car. I left the car, caught the shuttle home, and waited for a phone call with the price (which I had already ballparked in my head).

Friday afternoon, I get a call from the service manager--I do need new brake pads and a flush of the brake fluid, and my tires are only in need of alignment. Sounds fine until the manager says, "But we found a few other things upon closer inspection." I brace myself and ask what the problems are.

Leaking rach and pinion steering. Leaking power steering hose. Collapsed front engine mount and collapsed transmission mount.


I pick my jaw up off the floor, and remember to ask if my warranty will cover the work. I bought the car used 3 years ago, certified pre-owned, and bought the 4year/48K mile warranty after a disastrous repair relationship with my previous car.

I'm only 5000 miles from warranty expiration. I drive a lot--my daily commute is 80 miles.

The service manager called me later Friday afternoon--because of the overall cost of the repairs, they want to send an insurance adjustor out to inspect the car before giving the approval, and the adjustor won't be out until Monday.

Luckily, I got a call this afternoon--the warranty company will pay for all repair (as they should! I have the maintenance records!) but I won't get my car back till tomorrow. Maybe.

So today I worked from home, and tomorrow, I'm carpooling with a coworker to our volunteer activity--distributing school supplies to children at an impovrished elementary school. Tomorrow afternoon, I hope to have the car back.

I told my boss today that between the toll on my car from the commute and the prospect of oil at $100 a barrel, he may want to buy a webcam if he wants to see me. If oil gets that high, I won't be able to afford to drive to work.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Call Off the Search Parties

Boy, a gal gets busy with work and the next thing you know, the hounds are baying! No, I didn't hurt myself getting down from my soapbox. I just have a huge project report due on 9/1 and have been in meeting after meeting nailing down the information I need to get the report done. Then I can breathe for a couple weeks, and it starts all over with the next phase of the project. Typical stuff for me, and I won't bore you with details.

I did talk to a certain someone on the phone briefly today, though, and I'll recap--I'm fine.

Tom and I have been working on nesting. Odd, I know, since I'm not pregnant and have no plans to become so. We've just decided that our house isn't like a home, and we're trying to turn that around. I can see the floor of our den for the first time since we moved in. Also, Jay's sister went to college, and I used the opportunity to unload some clothes, a futon, two endtables, a folding bookcase, and a TV/Stereo stand that were taking up space in the house. I supposed I could have asked for cash in exchange, but since she and her brother drove out to my house in the burbs to load everything into their truck on a hot July day, just getting rid of it was payment enough.

The past few weekends have been spent brainstorming what the house should look like--getting organized, mainly, since I'm a packrat with little use for structure but under a great need to straighten things out. Work is stressful enough--my house doesn't need to stress me more, and things like filing bills and updating the car registration are not things that should slip. We have a full list of what we'd like to get, ideas on designing our den and CJ's room (CJ is ready for big boy furniture now), and some projects already underway. I've got one project done already! Took me a few weekends, but I cleaned out my kitchen and made it workable--I created one space for baking/prep work, another space for cooking and serving, and a smaller space for dirty dishes and washing them (instead of having pots and pans spread across my whole counter). I got smal but servicable cart for additional counter space when needed, and put up a dry-erase calendar and board and a cute bulletin board for noting groceries, to-do items, important dates, etc. I even hung up a few chrome baskets for pizza coupons, other papers, CJ's artwork from daycare, and whatever else I need handy. So far it's working very well, and it's made dinnertime much easier. Now, I have to clean out and reorganize my fridge and freezer--the freezer is bursting at the seams!

So we are deeply into the nesting. The idea is to spend a good deal of time making storage space, setting up systems, making things nice and comfortable, and then on weekends it shouldn't take too long to tidy up. Then we can relax and maybe even do stuff as a family! This is a good time for it, too, since it's too darned hot to go outside. Poor CJ, he wants to play outside almost every day, but he can't--not when it's still 100 degrees in the backyard and the patio blocks are hot enough to steam veggies.

Speaking of CJ, he started a new routine that has us completely baffled, but rather happy. Instead of kicking and screaming at bedtime each night, he now TELLS us, "Nigh-nigh!" and wanders off to his room. We make sure he has his blanket and his monkey and a book and a small toy, and put him in his crib. Then he'll tell us, "Bye!" and that's our cue to turn out the light and shut the door. He'll play for a bit, then falls asleep on his own. Unbelievable! I think part of it must be something he picked up at daycare. Another part could be that we got the futon and a couple odds and ends out of his room, so he can actually play in there. The biggest part, I think, is the feedback loop--we're finally getting to a point where he understands a good deal of what we say, and he's forming words to get across what he means. He knows "Nigh-Nigh" means bedtime--probably from us saying Goodnight or Night-night when we put him to bed. He's also learned how to get across that he wants more milk and how to let me know he's asking for something--"Mom? Moe?" while holding his cup out.

He can also quack like a duck and meow.

CJ started another new room at daycare this week, just zipping through the lower levels. He's now with several pre-2yos who are very active and working on potty training. The room is bigger than his previous rooms, with a climbing slide set inside and a larger toddler playset outside. There's also a huge pillow on the floor, perfect for running and making a good dive! He was a bit hesitant about the new room Monday morning--he held onto my shirt while I crouched next to him. One little girl who's been in every room with him since infancy came over to say hi, play with my work badge, and pat my hair. Then another little blonde girl I didn't know came over and handed CJ a giant stuffed fish. At that point, CJ didn't need me anymore. He had two cute blondes and big fish; what more could any little boy need?

I think that's about it for now. I'm sure as soon as I post I'll think of something highly amusing and kick myself and then promptly forget whatever it was, but oh, well. At least I've bought myself a small respite from the baying.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Got Some Things to Talk About Here Beside the Rising Tide

  1. Ned Lamont trounces Joe Lieberman fairly strongly in the Connecticut primary, sending a clear message from the "rabid venom-spewing lambs" in the blogosphere that change is afoot regarding the war in Iraq.
  2. Lieberman mulls over the idea of running as an Independent, and Harry Reid announces he would seek to strip Lieberman of his committee appointments if that happens.
  3. Yesterday, British and US agents uncover a terrorist plot and declare a red status for Homeland Security--a status that Press Security Tony Snow said the president had approved the day before.
  4. Lieberman announces his intention to run as an Independent to little fanfare as the current White House Administration rally behind the idea of attacking Iran and renewing the vigor behind the war on terror.

As the Church Lady might say, "How conVENient!"

I've no doubt that there are people out there hell-bent on destroying the United States, and the current Bush agenda gives ample kindling to that fire. But why wait till these people are on planes to swoop in and arrest them? Why not make the arrests once the plot was uncovered rather than risk lives by waiting so long? Why start making your case to invade another country when an exit strategy (hell, a measurement of success) hasn't been drafted for the war you're currently in?

Why? Because it's an election year, my friends, and this year the House seats and a third of the Senate seats are up for grabs. The Connecticut primary is just the start--the litmus test of how the warmongers will fare this year, and they failed. They failed big time. If a 3-time incumbent loses the race in his home state and faces an unlikely prospect of winning a 4th term AND that incumbent was once the Vice-Presidential nominee for the DEMOCRATIC party, what chance will the Republicans have?

Very little. And the Republicans know it. And they're scared. So they're pulling out all the stops:

  • Iran is now the "single threat" to democracy in the Middle East and to the United States. Let's forget that we were dealing with Iran in the 1980s to undermine Saddam Hussein and sowing seeds to invade them in the 1990s. Or that a member of the Office of Special Plans under Douglas Feith was indicted for sharing state secrets with Iranian officials to drive the country into war with Iraq. Suddenly, Iran is a threat.
  • Lebanon and Israel have erupted again into war over control, hostages, and military prisoners, while Israel continues to deal militarily with Hamas over questions of legitimacy and land borders in Gaza. The U.S. vetoed a resolution from the United Nations condemning the Gaza actions, and states that Israel has a right to defend itself against the Palestinians—despite the fact that the current Gaza conflict began when Israel seized two Palestinians.
  • It is interesting to note that Hezbollah is supported by Iran and Syria—the two countries Bush has been focusing on this year to broaden democracy in the Middle East.
  • Oh, did you know we’re supporting Israel with jet fuel and bombs in our quest to solidify peace? Yeah, I thought you might not. Those New York Times reports in July slipped through the cracks in our mainstream media.

Given what we know now about the PNAC’s desire for upheaval in the Middle East dating back to 2000 and their need for a catastrophe EXACTLY like 9/11 to rally support, and what we know about the manipulation of intelligence by our own officers to support an attack on Iraq, is it any wonder that I have to question the timing of our current terror alert with the general election coming up in November? The Republicans have already dusted off the ultra-conservative aces in the hole--flag burning, estate tax, and gay marriage—yet Bush’s approval rating continues to sink, Republican support continues to fracture, and Lieberman lost his bid for reelection in the Connecticut primary. The death knell for partisan, war-supporting, deficit-spending, big money politics has sounded, and the people of this country are awakening to the corrupt stink of what’s been left behind.

So don’t forget to put your deodorant in your checked baggage, don’t forget to whisper a quick prayer to God or whomever to protect you and your family and your country, and don’t forget about the troops in Iraq who would love to take a break from the oppressive heat and see their families again as soon as someone can figure out how to make it happen.

Most importantly, this November (or earlier for the primaries), don’t forget to VOTE!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

If I were a bell, I'd be ringing.

OK, I think I can finally take a break and begin writing about the vacation. The longer I wait, the more I forget, and that just can’t happen.

We stayed in Brewster, which is near the elbow of the Cape on the bay side. The house (owned by my brother-in-law and occupied by my mother-in-law) is intended as a getaway for the whole family and a place where we can all get together on occasion. Unfortunately, some of the family couldn’t join us, but we did have a nice weekend with my BIL, his wife, and their two kids. The house has deeded rights to a private beach a quarter mile away where it’s nice and flat and one can walk out quite a ways at low tide. At high tide, the water depth is only about 10 feet and nice and clear. The flats are also a clam bed, which means low tide stinks to high heaven. There are markets and restaurants and little shops within walking distance, so we did a lot of walking. People on Cape Cod are almost disgustingly healthy with all the walking and biking.

The Friday before my birthday, Tom and his brother surprised me very well. They had gone golfing and planned dinner. Mom got swordfish, per BIL, and Tom stopped for a Boston Cream Pie. My BIL had brought up a bottle of sparkling Riesling from an old office celebration that he had been saving for a special occasion. After dinner, they surprised me by bringing out the pie with candles and popping the cork!

My BIL told me he had asked Tom how old I was turning, since he thought I was in my 30s somewhere. Tom immediately answered, “29,” so my BIL knew I was turning at least 30. I got a good man, though—at least he tried!

The next day, we went to the ocean beach where Tom tried boogie boarding and CJ and I played in the sand. The water was cold and rough, so we didn’t go in. That night, Mom babysat CJ while Tom and I went out to dinner, alone, for the first time in over a year.

That’s right. Over a year. We have to find a babysitter.

I had clam chowder and split my Oscar Sirloin (sirloin with crab and béarnaise sauce) with Tom to sample his Salmon Steak with Hollandaise sauce. We had a bottle of Pinot Grigio with dinner and coffee after, and took a nice long walk through some back roads to get home.

On Monday (my birthday), Tom and I went to this harbor café that was cute and scenic, but the food sucked. My fish and chips were an oil slick, the fries weren’t fresh cut, and Tom’s fried oysters were too big and still cold in the middle. Plus the cole slaw was bland. At least we can say we went. That night, we walked to the Woodshed, this old bar a mile down the road where we listened to a band called the Slackers (three middle-aged white men with cool covers) and drank Sam Adams Summer Ale. I had four. The band played Land Down Under and one of the guys played flute and it rocked! We left during the second set while they were playing and I stumbled down the rock singing Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard, openly wondering just what it was that Mamma saw. Tom just kept replying, “Whatever it was, it was against the law!” and we giggled like kids, shushing ourselves as we got to the house. Mom had locked us out, accidentally, but woke from the living room sofa to let us in while Tom and I did the universal pee dance on the porch—after all, we did drink four beers apiece.

My MIL did a lot of babysitting—she insisted on it, since she doesn’t have much opportunity. CJ loved playing in the kitchen with her old-school copper measuring cups, old Tupperware, and wooden spoons, making up his own one-man band. Tom and I plinked around on the piano, and I picked out Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star while CJ joined me to sing it (oh wa oh wa oh wa oh, ah wa wa, ah wa wa). The kid picked up the notes and key immediately—this kid will be gifted at music, I say it now.

We took several walks to the beach and the organic market where I think the girl behind the counter kind of liked me. We walked to the bookstore where I picked up a book of Sudoku and got obsessive about it, finishing half the book and working my way up to blue belt. We let CJ play in the surf until his hands and feet were all pruney and he still howled like a banshee when it was time to leave and we picked him out of the water. We all got tans. I drove to Chatham one day and had the best mug of clam chowder I have ever had at this café called Anytime Café, eating the chowder while studying the funky physics mural on the wall.

Tom and I went to see Guys and Dolls at the Cape Playhouse in Dennis. I mentioned earlier that it’s in its 80th season, and the show was phenomenal! The sets were minimalist and designed in blue and white; painted flats wheeled in and out of the wings by the actors as the scene changed without dropping the curtains. The men’s dancing was exquisite, unbelievably liquid, which completely made the show. The sewer backdrop, flown down from above the lights, was rather Seussical in design, and the designer, in a nod to the era and Al Hirschfeld, incorporated the name, “Ally” everywhere—traffic light glass pattern, the bunching of a tablecloth at the Hot Box, the curtains’ billows at the Hot Box, in the grid of the trashcans and the crosshatching of shadows on the flats. I fell in love with the design instantly, especially since the stage was very small. Somehow, I missed this musical in my training so it was a real treat, and I finally understood why Susan would look at Andy Connerly so wistfully and regret having done Guys and Dolls before our freshman year.

I guess that was about it. Lots of fun, lots of family time, and beautiful weather even when it rained. Not you can see why I wish I were still there.