Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Watch This Space For An Important Announcement.

If I have it correctly, shortly after the first of the year, my blog-mom extraordinaire Ith will be reorganizing things a bit around here... and my blog will be moving to a new home.

When I've had the occasional moment to breathe, I've done some work on creating the new site, and figuring out how I'm going to transfer the blog over to it. Apparently, I will be able to transfer all the old blog entries, but the comments will not come along for the ride.

As soon as I am ready to make the transfer and go live with the new blog, I will post an announcement here; and Ith will shortly thereafter blow away this site and post a redirect message. But never fear; you will be able to find me after the move. Trust me on that. Honestly. Really.

But if for some reason you anticipate not being able to find me... just be sure and jot down my e-mail address (that would be crankybeach at yahoo dot com) and drop me a line. Put something like "I can't find your new blog!" in the subject line so I'll be sure to notice it and not flush it down the spam filter.

Edited to add: Yes, I intend to update the blogroll and get rid of all the obsolete entries... but Blogrolling has been futzed up for a couple of months now, and until they get back online, there is no way to edit the blogroll without blowing it away and manually recoding it; and I axe ya, in just what copious spare time am I supposed to do THAT??


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

At Least The Floor Is Clean.

But a bathroom flood is not my usual choice for cleaning method.

Fortunately, I was home. Fortunately (if one chooses to see it that way) I have spent much of my adult life living and working in elderly buildings with elderly plumbing, so I have a passing acquaintance with shut-off valves and their brethren.

But it is quite astonishing just how much water can come out of a busted pipe under the Kohler fixture.* It's faster than a liberal politician diving into a pile of other people's money. The entire bathroom was flooded and the water was halfway down the hall before I could get to the valve.

Also fortunately, the landlord's son is home for the Christmas holidays, and he came rushing right over to fix the pipe.

Now just about every towel I own is soaked; but the floors are mostly dry. And quite clean.

* I lied. It's an American Standard.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Yep. Hankies.

In nearly 28 years of employment, my boss and I never had a picture taken together. It took me getting unemployed by him and a nice Christmas party thrown by one of the former nursing staff to do the job:



I will confess I nearly knocked him down when he walked in the door. I hadn't seen him in nearly 3 months, after all....

Bittersweet moment.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Going To Be A Three-Hanky Moment....

Just got the word that we ARE having one last office holiday blowout--the old office. One of the nurses is opening her home for a potluck, and my boss and his wife have sent in their acceptance.

Nothing short of unconsciousness or major natural disaster will keep me from that gathering. I shall take the camera--and plenty of tissue.

In other news, I got a nice surprise in the snail-mail yesterday. My new employer sent out a Christmas card, winner of the apparent annual contest in which children of employees design a card, a company recipe book, and a 1-gigabyte thumb drive with the company name on it.

They're not my old boss, but they are nice people. Very nice people.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Too Cute Not To Share

I've already posted this on the Moody Blues board (of course)... but I thought the rest of you unwashed non-fans might like to see what happens when an aging rock star knocks over his microphone stand:







The look on Julie's face is priceless. (She's the blonde keyboard player/singer in the background.) Immediately after that last shot, Norda (the dark-haired lady on the left, the flute player) bent over and picked up the microphone stand.

Also... on this trip I finally caught Graeme's tambourine in mid-air when he tossed it over his shoulder at the end of his goofy little cross-stage bum-shaking dance, during the song "Higher and Higher:"



Yes, I know you can hardly see it, but it's there. Blame whoever was running the smoke machine for the poor visibility.

(And for those who have NO idea who that man is... that is Graeme Edge, the original drummer for the Moody Blues, still going strong at age 67.)


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Apropos Of Absolutely Nothing

Gas was $1.46 in Oklahoma. I filled the tank of the big black pimpmobile* for about 20 bucks. Unbelievable. I can't remember the last time I filled a gas tank for such a tiny price.

Gas is $1.80 here today.

Discuss among yourselves. I have things to do.

*Why am I calling it a pimpmobile? Actually, Bonnie came up with that. See for yourself.





I rest my case.


This Makes Me Sad.

Those who have been paying attention might remember that the last time I checked the online maps with satellite views, this was what I came up with for the office where I used to work:



This shows a view of the vacant lot, and a later view of the office building under construction.

Today, I see this view. That white car is my boss's Toyota Avalon, all by itself in the upper parking lot, which indicates to me the image was taken on a weekend, when he was working all by himself:



And then there's the "street view." Once again, there's my boss's car, right in the center--but you can also see that the second building (to the right) is now under construction (I can't actually remember when they finished it, but it was within the last year). That's the contractor Danny's big ol' truck parked to the right there, and you can see some employee cars in the lower parking lot.



There was such a sense of excitement when we moved into that new building a few years back. And now it stands empty.

Anybody want to rent an office building? I know where there is one available. And I still have a key to it.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

How To Look Like A Dork

Long story a whole lot shorter... we stopped at where-the-heck-is-Thackerville on our way from Dallas to Tulsa to pick up our tickets for that show, and it was a good thing we did, because all tickets were will-call, and you should have seen the long lines the night of the concert. We breezed right past them 'cause we already had our tickets.

Anyway. The nice ladies at the box office said we could go in and look at the auditorium and see where our seats were. And then Bonnie went off on some of the more, um, fanatical fans who get up and do a sexy snake-dance in the front row. At least, they apparently think it's sexy. But we have it on good authority that the band is Not Amused.

I don't really have to explain the rest, do I? Janet isn't in the picture because she took it.




Friday, December 12, 2008

On The Road

Forgot to mention it... but I'm out in the wilds of the hind end of Oklahoma. You guessed it... the Moody Blues played Tulsa last night (and we were in the FRONT ROW, center). Tonight they play the Winstar Casino in where-the-heck-is-Thackerville. Tomorrow, we drive back to Dallas and fly home. We are having a blast--but I just drove here from Tulsa in a big pimpmobile rental car and I need a NAP. So nighty-night for now!




Friday, November 14, 2008

Read The Constitution. Please.

Today's letters to the editor page includes one from a woefully-uneducated pinhead. He suggests that George W. Bush should do the "right thing" and just leave office right now, and don't make Obama wait another 2 months and change to take office. We're done with Bush, and our anointed messiah needs to get busy and lead us all into hopeandchange right this minute, if not before. Or words to that effect.

Umm... we have this thing we call the United States Constitution.

If President Bush left office in any fashion at all before January 20, Vice President Dick (gasp) Cheney would become president--and would appoint a new vice-president to fill out the term. So there's no way Obama could legally step into the office before the constitutionally-appointed time.

Go read the thing. It's actually pretty short; won't take you that long.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Points For Creativity, Anyway...

I'm sure he's not the first guy to try this approach with his cardboard sign on the corner, but he was the first one I saw, and he made me laugh. His sign said:

WIFE HAD BETTER LAWYER
No, I didn't get a picture. Didn't have the camera with me; and besides, the light was green, so I was moving.


Monday, November 10, 2008

My First Bonus!

Just an off-hand remark on a medical transcription message board, and thereby I have "referred" a new employee to my new job. And I am eligible for a referral bonus. Of course, there are restrictions, as in, I don't actually get the bonus until they are quite, quite certain the new employee is actually going to work out... but hey, not bad for my first month on the job, eh?


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Over-Reaching According To Whom?

Various TV pundits more or less pooh-poohed the idea of a Republican revolution in 2010, a la 1994, after Clinton was first elected. These pundits explain that Clinton "over-reached" in his first 2 years, tried to change too many things too quickly, and the people, the great unwashed, rebelled. They suggest that Obama is smart enough to learn from this; and thus, no one should count their Republican revolution in 2010 before it is hatched.

This got me wondering. The evidence points overwhelmingly to Obama being so far to the left, any hopechanges he might attempt could look perfectly reasonable and centrist to him and his minions; but those of us who lean anywhere in the center-right spectrum could still find that he is over-reaching.

Make sense?


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Who Are These People Anyway?

The ones who have spent ALL FREAKING DAY down on the corner, bouncing up and down with 4 x 8 foot Obama/Biden signs, chanting and shouting? (With, alas, many honking horns from the passing traffic?)

Don't they have JOBS? Or school to go to?

Oh, nevermind. My bad. They must be those folks Obama is going to give my 401k to after he confiscates it. You know, the ones who won't have to worry about paying their mortgage or putting gas in their car, 'cause they helped him get elected, you know.

Grrrr.

In other news... in 45 minutes or so I will go pick up the pizza and head over to Ith's, where we will either celebrate or cry in our beer. And then we will get up and go to work tomorrow morning, as usual, because SOMEBODY has to work and pay the taxes to support those corner-warmers.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Some Things Defy Description.

But please, PLEASE, swallow your beverage first. You have been warned.

Ready?

Okay, click here.

(Hat tip: One of Rachel's commenters)


Friday, October 24, 2008

Out Of My Cold Dead Fingers

... shall they pry my 401k.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The New Job

First... I am not one to go around hunting for omens, portents or "signs from God" under every rock, but if this doesn't qualify, I don't know what does.

Last Friday my new supervisor called me. Long story a whole lot shorter... she used to work for the husband of a woman I met online through some of the most unbelievable circumstances you could imagine. (For those in the know, that woman is also known as Mrs. ex-Perp. The rest of you... don't sweat it.) No six degrees of separation going on here! And we're talking about opposite coasts... my new employer is headquartered in North Carolina.

Yesterday was my first full day on the job (and my head is still spinning, but that's to be expected). You know how "those in the know" talk about how you must be very, very circumspect and professional when using company e-mail? Well... yesterday morning, a whole series of e-mails started popping up, beginning with some concerns surrounding the fact that many of us (a) are new to the company and (b) are working on a brand-new account to boot, so there are some definite issues to iron out. In the midst of this, one woman made a reference to a "crabby old lady."

Well... y'all know me. I jumped in with "Crabby old lady? Did someone call my name?"

And after that it turned into a free-for-all--in which the supervisors were giving just as much fun to the party as us worker bees. Apparently, and I haven't learned otherwise yet, the corporate mentality is that we all need a sanity (insanity?) break once in a while, and group laughter (in the form of e-mails, anyway, since we're all working remotely) is to be encouraged.

And then, this morning, someone wrote in that now she knows why all the QA (quality assurance) people at her last job were grumpy... all of the ones who have a sense of humor work for OUR company!

Meanwhile... I am still getting used to their system, and there are some really, really difficult-to-understand ESL doctors whose dictation I have been unlucky enough to draw. But I cranked out marginally more work today than yesterday, so perhaps I am speeding up just a little. We shall see. I am meeting my first-week daily production quota so far, and hopefully will have sped up enough by week 2 to meet that quota, and so forth. I am still well under the normal production quota, though.... Oh well, this is what the training period is for!

Is it time for my nap yet?


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Watch This.

That is an order. CrankyBeach hath spoken.



(Hat tip: Baldilocks)


A Blast From The Past.

Literally.



The first time I heard this song on local radio I was driving home, pulled up at a stoplight, and the person in the next car looked over at me and quickly looked away again because I was laughing my pinkytoe off and the tears were rolling down my face.

In the next day or two I managed to tape-record the song from the radio; but at this point I have no idea where that tape might be hiding.

It had to be 1986, because unless my brain is completely gone (instead of just mostly gone) that was the year Clint ran for mayor and put Carmel on the map.

Brings back some crazy memories, that's for sure....

(Edited to add: That was a popular local band called The Medflys.)


Friday, October 3, 2008

Job-Hunting In the 21st Century

I have not mentioned this on the blog until now because I really don't enjoy bleeding all over the folks who come here hoping for a little entertainment and enlightenment.

But I've known since the middle of June, right after I got home from visiting Kerry in Wisconsin (and seeing the Moody Blues in Waukegan) that big changes were coming.

(This has turned into a very long post, so I am putting the rest of it below the fold.)

JR, the doctor who has been my employer, my doctor, my other adopted big brother and truly a member of my extended family for nearly 28 years decided, for various reasons, that it was time to close his practice and spend his remaining working years practicing medicine in the employ of someone else.
I have always known, in the back of my mind, that this day would come. After all, the man is 11 years older than I am, and it stood to reason he would retire long before I would be ready to pack it in, and I'd have to go to work for someone else. That was one of the major reasons I went back to college 10 years ago and finally finished my degree. (And JR gave the toast at my graduation party.)
I guess it's human nature that even when you know something will happen eventually... you are still stunned, gob-smacked, reeling from the two-by-four upside the head, when it actually happens. You just didn't expect it to happen NOW.
JR is not retiring just yet; he and his daughter NR who joined the practice about 4 years ago are going to work for another medical group. In July I sent my resume and a very polite and professional cover letter to the other medical group, more or less applying to keep my job.
But it was not to be; the other medical group has other solutions in mind to cover the medical transcription department (voice recognition among them, which I want to watch, because I have never actually seen a computer melt down in self-defense). JR went to bat for me, but he was not able to persuade them to bring me on board.
So I've been looking around, and asking around; but there's nothing local to be found. There is one job that's been advertised for at least a month and a half on the state employment site--but it would be an 80-mile round trip daily commute, plus the pay rate offered--well, I haven't worked for that low a rate since the Reagan administration, so I was not even tempted to apply. I'd have eaten up half my paycheck in gas alone.
Interestingly enough, the office where JR and NR will practice was advertising for a medical biller. In addition to being a transcriptionist, I am a recovering biller--but I have said I will clean toilets for a living before I will go back to being a biller. The entire medical reimbursement racket has turned into such a headache these days. When I started, all those years ago, it was so simple. The doctor saw a patient, you billed their insurance, you got paid. End of story. Nowadays, you have to call the insurance company practically every time the patient is seen, because what was true the last time you called very often is not true the following week. You call, you verify that they have coverage, you verify that the service you want to perform on the patient is a covered service under their plan, you request authorization to perform the service, you perform the service and you bill for it--and then you wait and wait and wait to be paid. The insurance company requests medical records and justification for performing a covered service that is the standard of care, because they've got some medical director sitting up there who probably hasn't actually had his hands on a real live patient since 1969, whose job it is to deny or stonewall.
I got tired of pushing that boulder uphill (seriously burned out is actually a better description) and left the billing department a year ago last July to come home and transcribe full time. And now my job has gone away.
With the technology these days, medical transcription can be done from anywhere (anywhere with an internet connection, that is) for a client located anywhere (also with an internet connection). There's no commute, no professional wardrobe to maintain, and no office politics. The downside is that with all the cost savings on both ends, the pay scales have dropped. Part of this is because there has been a lot of outsourcing overseas, and those folks overseas will work for a tiny fraction of American wages. But we're starting to see a trend for the jobs to come back onshore, because even if the initial wage is lower, when you have to proofread everything that comes back with a magnifying glass, where's the savings? Best to pay a bit more and have it done right in the first place. Plus... there's really no way to enforce the privacy laws when you're sending work overseas. There's a true story floating around about how a transcriptionist overseas sent an e-mail to a major hospital threatening to put their patients' medical records on the web, for all the world to see, if she did not get paid for her work. She attached some medical records to the e-mail to prove she actually had them, and could make good on her threat. This led the hospital to rewrite all their contracts with medical transcription services, prohibiting the services from subcontracting any of their work offshore.
I started job-hunting seriously about a month ago. And discovered that even with 36 years of experience under my belt, I am not qualified for at least half of the available jobs. Why? Because I have worked strictly in the doctor's office (clinical) setting, and never for a hospital (acute care), and no one would even let me try out for acute care. The only people eligible for those jobs are (a) those with at least 2 years of recent experience in it, and (b) recent graduates of the top medical transcription schools.
I even called one school, explained my dilemma, and asked if they had a crash course in acute care for someone like me. The recruiter sympathized, but said no they didn't, and did I want to enroll in their complete course (at least half of which I could teach in my sleep). I said no, thank you, and went on with my search.
Finally, in the last couple of weeks, I began to receive job offers; but these employers required me to commit to a 40-hour week in order to be eligible for benefits. Interestingly, within that 40-hour week, they require a per-day line quota, usually 1200 lines, and the pay is by the line, not by the hour. When I am doing familiar work, I can knock out 1200 lines in 4 or 5 hours--and my hands (and brain) can't go on much longer than that. So I needed to find a job where the quota was the thing, and not the hours.
A week ago I applied for one such job (1200 lines a day and they don't care what time you do it, or how long it does or does not take you, as long as it's done and back by midnight) and waited for the recruiter to call me back. And waited. Meanwhile, I kept applying.
And meanwhile, I did the last of NR's dictation (she moved over to the new place on the 19th) and I did not handle it well at all. Friday the 25th a bunch of the staff went out for unhappy hour, something we never did before, realizing this might be the only farewell party we would get. Monday the 29th was JR's last day of seeing patients in the old office. M, the manager who had been there even longer than me, told me to come over at lunch time. We had ourselves a little farewell pity party that involved bagels and doughnuts. Tuesday the 30th I did the last of JR's work--and handled that even less well.
Wednesday, I spent most of the day just scanning medical transcription bulletin boards, looking for names of companies that people were happy working for, hunting down websites, and sending in online applications. I also took several tests, at the sites that had tests available. In all, I applied for 13 jobs that day alone.
By the time I turned in my last test (and resume) of the day, it was about 4:30 in the afternoon, and I was really, really tired. I went off for a couple of hours to see some friends--and when I got home, I had a sizzling hot e-mail from the recruiter for the very last company I had applied to. She had marked up my test and sent it back to me (THAT was a first!) and really, really wanted to talk to me ASAP.
So I called her first thing in the morning. She said I had scored 98.6 percent on the test, and the bits that I missed, everyone misses. (She even missed them herself when she took the very same test.) She had three more positions to fill for a large hospital/clinic system that is coming online as a new client for their transcription company, she had already filled two of them, and when she saw my test and resume, she knew she had found her third person, if only I would agree. After learning all the particulars, I asked her if I could have a little time, since I had a couple more phone interviews actually scheduled for that morning. She said okay but that she really needed an answer ASAP because it was getting down to the wire. I told her I would let her know by the end of the day.
So I took the other two interviews--and in addition finally got a call back from that "dream job" I had applied for, the one that was strictly production-based and not hourly. Unfortunately, the "dream job" recruiter said she had several other interviews to conduct, and would not be able to make a hiring decision until next week, and of course there was no guarantee I would be chosen. I did get an immediate offer from one of the other interviews. After I ran the numbers and considered all the particulars, I decided to go with the first one. I called the recruiter back and accepted the job. I spent half of yesterday filling out and faxing back employment paperwork.
The new job actually starts at a slightly lower pay rate than the other offer--but there are production incentives, which I will have no trouble meeting, plus my share of cost for the health insurance premium is far less than for the other company. That alone was almost enough to make up for the pay differential.
But... there are other compensations. As soon as I have worked for them for 3 months, I will sit for the first certification exam--and they will reimburse me the cost of taking the exam. They offer free study groups for exam prep, and passing the exam bumps up the pay rate. I am, the recruiter said, over-qualified to take that first exam, because it is designed for newbies right out of school. The second certification (and second salary bump) has a prerequisite of 2 1/2 years of acute care experience.
Here's the thing that sealed the deal for me. Since I scored so high on the test, I am eligible for up-training into acute care. Yes, acute care, the discipline in which I haven't even been able to get arrested, the don't-call-us-and-we-won't-call-you thing. They'll start me, of course, on clinical work (what doctors and what specialties, I don't know yet) but as soon as I am eligible for that up-training, you can bet I will be right there. Acute care of course pays better than clinical.
None of the other companies that offered me jobs offered me up-training, or reimbursement for taking certification exams, or even study groups for exam prep. With all of those things to consider, it turned into a no-brainer.
The company supplies all the hardware. They're shipping me a Dell tower, a KVM switch, a network cable, a headset and a foot pedal first thing next week. Thursday morning, I will get a training call from the IT department, and they will walk me through setting up the computer. Later in the morning I will get another training call, for training on the online interface and transcription platform. (Somebody remind me to dig out that old hands-free headset telephone....)
Monday morning, October 13, the account goes live, and we will have work.
I may actually not start real work until Tuesday, because I have signed up for a Tuesday-Saturday, 6 a.m. to noon California time, work schedule. Yes, they do require at least 30 hours a week of seat time for benefits eligibility--but again, the entire pay scale is based on the production quota. So I will have 6 hours a day in which to get in a minimum of 1000 lines, or 10,000 lines per 2-week pay period. At 12,001 lines, there's a production incentive pay bump, in which not just the lines over 12,000 but the entire production for that pay period gets paid at the higher rate. There's another bump at 15,001 and on upwards. I shall have to see how well my hands (and my brain) hold up; but I know I can do the 1200 a day with no problems.
There are also bonuses for working holidays; if a holiday falls on one of your regular workdays, you get your regular pay but you also get PTO (paid time off) hours put into your bank. I don't know yet exactly which days are considered holidays in this company--but Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day all come on a Thursday this time around, and that is one of my regular work days, so I will rack up some PTO fairly quickly. Routine PTO does not start to be earned until after the first full year of employment. The health insurance kicks in after 90 days, and there is also a 401k available.
So... the whole proposition will constitute a rather substantial pay cut, but since no one local was hiring, I really didn't have much of a choice. And the compensations of working at home (the commute is a few feet down the hall, the professional wardrobe is pajamas, and there are no office politics) do count for a lot.
If you're still reading... thanks for listening! It's been quite a ride. I have a lot of training to get through, and the learning curve on the new platform alone will be steep; but hopefully, once I get used to it, my life will settle back down into its usual dull roar.
At least I won't be bored.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Six and a half percent.

That's the percentage my entire portfolio (retirement, savings, etc.) lost in the last one month.

How did you do?


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

No Comment Needed.




Saturday, September 20, 2008

I Told You He Was Psycho.

Geico, that is.

He's supposed to be nocturnal... but as of 1:30 this afternoon, he had still not gone to bed. Every time I walked past his cage, he would attack the side of the cage.

Ever since he bit me the first couple of times... I've kept a glove next to the cage, in case I want to handle him when he's acting sassy. So today I put on the glove and reached for him.





He actually hung onto my gloved finger while I went and got the camera, then took him into the kitchen where the light is best for shooting pictures.

After several minutes of trying to bite through my finger, he finally figured out he wasn't getting anywhere and tried to let go. Then he discovered that gecko teeth get caught on yarn:



Finally he got himself disentangled and slumped onto my hand for a well-deserved rest.



I put him back in his cage, and he didn't try anything else. I hope he has finally figured out that it's waaaay past his bedtime.

What a goofball.

Firefly snaps at the shadows when I walk past her cage, and she has snapped at my fingers a time or two... but as soon as she figures out what she's snapping at is not edible, she lets go immediately and does not try again. Geico... not so bright. I couldn't believe how long he hung onto my finger today!


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Let's Stuff This Ballot Box!

PBS is running a poll. Very simple question: Do you think Sarah Palin is qualified to be VP of the United States, yes or no?

When I voted, it was running about 60 percent no, 40 percent yes.

You know what to do.

(I have discovered that you can vote more than once.)

Hat tip: Wizbang


Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Best Image I've Seen Yet.

From the fine folks at Wizbang, at a McCain-Palin campaign rally 9-10-08:




Monday, September 8, 2008

In The E-Mail....

... I am now offered a pet nail clipper.

I doubt any of the lizards would sit still to have their nails clipped.

And one of the pet stores is offering a $5 off coupon on my next order.

Really? Gecko-goo costs $3.99. Does this mean they'll give me the gecko-goo and a dollar too? Uh huh. Sure. And I'm Hermione Granger. (I didn't even bother clicking through to see how much I'd have to really spend to get that $5 off.)

In other news... Samantha wants to know why I haven't blogged about Saracuda.

Mostly because practically everyone in my blogroll (that's the links in the right sidebar, for your flatlanders) has commented. Copiously, fervently and eloquently. Rachel has done a great job, as usual, amongst her other usual topics. If you haven't read her, go do so. Immediately. I'll still be here when you get back. I promise. And then click on all the other links in my blogroll.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

In The Headlines

Palin May Be Benefit or Bust for McCain's Campaign

Benefit or bust. Is there a third alternative here?

Wow. What insightful analysis. A real high risk prediction.

/sarcasm



Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Aaaak!

For reasons far too boring to explain... I happened to surf past the AOL home page. One news item caught my eye; the question of whether I could pass the U.S. citizenship test.

So I clicked over. Imagine my sheer annoyance to find that the linked page is almost entirely in Spanish--under a heading of "immigracion".

Apparently the fine fun folks over at AOL think anyone interested in this topic is a Spanish speaking immigrant.

At least the quiz itself is in English. Which makes me wonder what language the real live this-is-for-all-the-marbles citizenship test is administered in. Does anybody out there know?


Friday, August 22, 2008

Even More Unbelievable.

I found the "itemization" for the aforementioned hospital bill on the insurance company website.

Unfortunately for my curiosity, the itemization did not include procedure codes or descriptions or even categories of what each item belonged to. Just a list of dollar amounts:

























































227.00


230.00


109.00


378.00


117.00


288.00


210.00


162.00


2,730.00


2,745.00


103.00


1,152.00


70.00


234.80


243.00


258.40


________


9,257.20



Now here's the really scary part.

Keep in mind we are dealing with that infamous insurer, that denier-of-rightful-claims and canceler-of-policies that the press loves to hate: Blue F. Cross.

Well, guess what. Good ol' Blue F. Cross paid the above claim in full, at 100 percent. No deductions whatsoever. And no questioning of any items.

I guess I have a really, really good emergency care benefit.

And I wonder what the $70 was for. The cup of apple juice?


Friday, August 15, 2008

Holy Crap.

Literally.

I just logged onto my health insurance company's website to check up on the status of my medical claims--and saw a "pending" claim from the hospital, for last Saturday morning's four-hour extravaganza. Since the claim is pending I cannot view the itemized details, but the total amount billed?

$9,257.20.

Let's see... that would include four hours' rent on the gurney, a bevy of lab tests, one bag of IV fluid, one tablet of sublingual Zofran (anti-nausea), 1 milligram of IV Dilaudid (to make the runs stop), a CT scan, a brief examination by the ER doctor, and a cup of apple juice. The cup of coffee I had in the waiting room on the way out is not included in the bill. Neither, I expect, is the radiologist's fees for reading the CT scan.

As soon as the itemized version shows up I will post it. But gee... do you think I have finally met my annual deductible??


Monday, August 11, 2008

It Ain't Bragging If You Can Do It...

... but be sure you can do it before you brag, or you will end up looking very, very French.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, you haven't been watching the Olympics. Go look it up and figure it out for yourself. It's all over everybody else's blogs.

Picture stolen shamelessly from a certain television network's website. So there.

Go team USA!




Sunday, August 10, 2008

Not How I Wanted To Spend My Saturday.

Paul, if you're reading this... now you'll know why I wasn't home to take your phone call.

It started Friday night around midnight, and got progressively worse as the night went on. I'll spare you the gory details; just picture someone crawling up and down the hall all night long.

By 7:30 Saturday morning, when I had a long enough moment away from the porcelain fixtures, I was checking WebMD and it said that if I had these symptoms, I should call my doctor.

So I did, and he said go on up to the ER, and he'd meet me there in about 20 minutes. I got myself dressed, grabbed a handy piece of Tupperware (for emergencies) and got into the car. Fortunately, the hospital is less than 2 miles away.

Four hours, a large number of blood tests, a liter of IV fluids and a CT scan later, I had been ruled out for acute appendicitis and diagnosed with acute and severe viral gastroenteritis (that's the stomach flu, to you flatlanders). Sheer coincidence that the only part of my lower abdomen that actually hurt was the exact location of my appendix.

The ER doctor said appendicitis can sometimes fool you, and it was still possible I had very early appendicitis, so if I got worse instead of better, to come back in.

My own doctor, who is also my boss, concurred, and told me to call him late in the afternoon to let him know how I was doing.

The ER nurse who pulled my IV told me no driving. I didn't bother telling her I was going to disobey.

By now I was in the throes of a galloping caffeine-withdrawal headache, so on the way out, I drank a cup of the ER waiting room coffee. Might have been a mistake; but I didn't quite have to resort to the Tupperware on the way home. Once home, I sipped some tea, and went right to sleep. That was about noon. Around 4:30 I woke up long enough to call the boss and tell him I thought I was going to be okay, and the ER doctor had told me to come back and see him again Sunday morning, unless I was doing jumping-jacks. My boss said call me first.

After another long nap and some more tea, I knew I was going to be okay. I watched the Olympics and then went right back to sleep. This morning I feel like I've been run over by two trucks--but I don't feel sick. I called the boss and told him I'm better.

So I guess it wasn't the appendix after all. Thank heaven. Emergency surgery would have really ruined my weekend.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Some Things Require No Comment.



Hat tip: Wizbang, via Free Republic


Monday, July 28, 2008

My Little Predator

Did you know a lizard could scream? I didn't.

Since Firefly seemed to want to hunt, snapping at anything that moved for some weeks now, I finally got her some crickets the other day.

I also decided to let the other lizards have a chance at them before she gobbled them all. Captain Malcolm Reynolds, as usual, was not interested in the least. When I put The Spook into the bucket, he took a halfhearted swipe at one of the bugs but that was all. So I went and got Firefly.

The mistake I made was not getting The Spook out of the bucket before Firefly got within feet of it. She took a great leap off my hand and snapped at the first thing she saw moving--which happened to be The Spook's back toes.

And the poor little guy screamed.

Not very loud, because whatever vocal cords he has can't be very big--but a scream nonetheless.

I snatched him out of harm's way--and he huddled cowering in my hand, hanging on for dear life. This is the critter that usually leaps in any direction to escape being handled. But there he sat, perfectly still, while Firefly made short work of the crickets in the bucket. After I hand-fed The Spook some gecko-goo, he perked up enough to start doing his usual leaping-lizard routine.

I am very lucky he did not throw his tail when he thought he was in mortal danger. With this species of gecko, the tail drop is a single-use defense mechanism that does not grow back; in fact, most crested geckos in the wild are missing their tails.

Hopefully the poor little Spook has gotten over his traumatic experience by now. And Firefly won't be getting near him again.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Voldemort Votes Republican.

That's what the bumper sticker says.

I beg to differ.

First... the obvious. Voldemort is not a U.S. citizen; therefore he cannot vote here. Secondly, he's dead. (Which makes him eligible to vote in Chicago, and other traditionally Democrat strongholds.)

But... had Voldemort not assumed room temperature in the last book, and were he eligible to vote in the U.S., I would submit to you that he would not vote Republican.

Come to think of it, he wouldn't bother to vote at all. He'd just kill off all the candidates and declare himself absolute dictator of all, for all eternity.

But seriously... anyone who prefers their power concentrated in one place, be it Washington or one's own hands, is not real likely to vote Republican.

Discuss amongst yourselves. I have work to do.

But before I go... one final thought. Ever notice how Republicans think Democrats are misguided, whereas Democrats think Republicans are evil? A friend of Ith's summed it up best when she said, "How could you be a Republican? You're so nice!"


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Just For Perspective...

... this satellite view shows where I live in relation to the recent mountain lion sightings. I left in the yardage marker so you can see how relatively close it is:



One of my walking routes took me right past the park--and often into it, if I needed a drink of water.

For you locals... the mall is in the lower right corner, with the freeway running past it.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Oww.

Had a date with the squisher machine this afternoon. I am in pain. I expect there will be bruises.

The ladies in the crowd will understand exactly what I am talking about.

For those who have no idea... be glad. Be very glad.

And for those who consider this too much information?

Bite me. It's my blog and I'll whine if I want to.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Nope.

Okay, I know I said I love big kitties.

Let me re-phrase that. I love big kitties... when they're behind glass or behind bars. I do not love them up close and personal, thankyouverymuch.

Yesterday's newspaper announced that a mountain lion had been spotted in the gully next to the softball field of one of the city parks. And unlike the last mountain lion I saw, this one was very much alive.

That park is right along one of the routes I've been known to walk.

I don't believe I'll be walking that route again any time soon.

I think I'll go do my walking down at the mall....


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Awww-Inspiring

I love my lizards--but I also love kitties. Even big kitties.

Here is the true story of a lion cub who lived with a couple of guys in London for a while, but when he got too big, he was taken to Africa and rehabilitated into the wild by George Adamson.

A few years later, the guys went back to Africa to visit their pal one last time.

Amazingly, after not having been seen for 9 months, the lion showed up near the camp the night before the two guys showed up, and waited for them. Apparently lions have some mysterious ways of knowing things.The story includes video of the final reunion between the two guys and their former housemate.

Definitely a three-hanky moment.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Profound Wisdom

In a children's book first published 51 years ago, no less.

Anyone over a certain age probably remembers those paperback books we used to order from school for about 35 cents each. Between us my sister and I had quite a collection. (Click here for a trip down memory lane, if you're one of those long-ago readers.)

Something said by a character in "Follow My Leader" has stayed with me ever since I read the book long, long ago, and I have found myself quoting it more and more often these days.

The protagonist is an 11 year old boy who is blinded in a freak accident, and while at guide dog training school, he asks one of the instructors why a protruding sharp corner has not been padded, considering there are a lot of blind people around who could bump into it and get hurt.

The instructor's answer? (I may be paraphrasing; I don't have the book on hand to check the quote for accuracy.)

"You cannot expect the world to pad its corners for you."

Doesn't that just say it all?




Monday, June 30, 2008

Spam Sushi

You think I'm kidding, right?

Think again:



To explain... I signed up for a brief garde manger class at the community college. Most of my classmates are budding wanna-be chefs; I am the oldest person in the class and apparently the only one taking it strictly for my own amusement.

(Garde manger is fancy foodie-talk for cold food; salads, appetizers, that sort of thing. No, I never knew that until I signed up for this class.)

Last week we learned how to roll sushi. The chef/professor said spam sushi was surprisingly good--and he was right. I don't do seafood in any form, raw or cooked, so I went for the spam, which the chef fried up for our use in a process that involved a lot of uninvited fire. He nearly burned down the kitchen.... In all the excitement I forgot to ask him what he fried it in; but I believe if I do it myself at home, I'll use sesame oil. Good stuff.

My sushi included also cucumber, carrots and avocado slivers--and it's rolled in colorful soy covers instead of that seaweed stuff. Okay, they were a little lopsided... but not bad for a very first attempt ever, and they tasted pretty good.


I do not take credit for the fancy little vegetable garnishes; those were made by our youngest classmate, who is only 13 but loves to cook.

You can look here if you want to see some of the other classroom creations, as well as a picture of our 13 year old budding chef with her own sushi platter.

Tomorrow afternoon is the last class, and I expect I'll be posting a few more pictures then.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Does Firefly Need Glasses??

My poor little gecko. In the last couple of weeks, after I mist down her cage at night, she has started attacking the water droplets that run down the walls. She must think they're prey, because she dives right into the glass and bonks her poor little snout. And all she gets for her trouble is a drop of water. Explaining that if she wants water she can get it from her fountain without smacking herself in the face is useless, since she pretends not to understand English.

Memo to self: Got to get that poor girl some bugs to hunt.




Monday, June 16, 2008

Separated at birth??



We report, you decide.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Prayers, Please

UPDATE: Suzanne's home is safe for now. She says the fire was never closer than 6000 feet; but things were very, very smoky for a while there. Thanks for all your prayers and thoughts.

Good friend Suzanne's house is in the line of the latest fires. She says their bags are packed and they're ready to evacuate.

You know what to do.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Boo. Freaking. Hoo.

Russian Communist Party members condemned the new "Indiana Jones" film . . . as crude, anti-Soviet propaganda that distorts history and called for it to be banned from Russian screens.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Nope, No Fire Here

For those who may have heard that half of California is up in flames... the nearest fire is over 30 miles from me, and the wind is blowing the other way, so no chance that one's going to get me.

So far, 3000 acres have burned, and they have it only 15 percent contained. Several homes have been lost--but no injuries have been reported.

Good friends Caro and Suzanne are nowhere near the path of the fire, for those who might be wondering. To get to them, it would have to travel several more miles, take a sharp turn to the west, and jump across at least one major highway. So I think they'll be fine. At least, this time....

Earlier this evening I was at a dinner. The man sitting next to me took a phone call from his elderly mother, who lives 7 miles from where the fire began--upwind, thank heaven. She wanted to clear some brush around the house--but he had to admonish her not to try to start up the chainsaw on her own. In fact, he left the dinner early so he could go wrestle the chainsaw out of her hands.

Ah... life in rural America. Nothing quite like it.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Geekery Wins Out Every Time.

I'm a geek. I admit it. And I like gadgets.

Which is why it's a bit surprising that I bought my very first Palm Pilot (gasp) yesterday.

What finally pushed me over the edge?

Well... of all things, it was the search for an e-book reading device.

Just a few months ago I discovered that my local public library is plugged into a network of regional libraries with the capability of "checking out" e-books. For a while there, I had fun downloading and reading e-books on my laptop, lounging around in my bedroom. I can check out 8 books at a time, and they expire after 2 weeks, much like regular library books.

Then I got sick of schlepping the laptop around the house; plus, it gets HOT, so I kind of gave it up.

I did some research, and finally figured out my best (and cheapest!) bet for a reader would be a Palm Pilot Z22. It was in stock at the local Great Big Electronics Superstore, so I brought one home.

Then I found out that only one of the two e-book download formats available through the library would work--and that was, of course, the one with far fewer titles than the Adobe PDF versions. Supposedly, the latest (and allegedly greatest) version of Adobe Acrobat Reader (8.0) does not support transferring e-books to a Palm. Why, in heaven's name, I have no idea.

I got out my big shovel and after a whole lot of digging, found out that version 6.0 WILL support transferring to the Palm. The only catch is, you can no longer download version 6.0.

Here is where my famous pack-rat tendencies come in handy. I have gazillions of old files stashed on my computer... and among them, in my software download directory, is the install file for 6.0.

Since you can't run more than one version of Acrobat Reader at once... I uninstalled version 8.0, and then installed 6.0. Then I ordered it not to look for automatic updates.

And now I have two books in PDF format stashed on the Palm, as well as three in the Mobipocket Reader format. I'm partway through reading one book already. My only gripe is that the Adobe Reader on the Palm does not allow you to choose your screen colors so I am stuck with black text on a white background. In the other reader, I've got palest gray text on a black background, which is very easy to read and easy on the eyes.

And now, when I go traveling, I won't have to lug actual physical books with me. Yee haw!

Meanwhile... I have, of course, uploaded a Moody Blues concert photo into the Palm to serve as my "wallpaper." You knew I would. Admit it.

I have also figured out that I can actually make notes on the Palm much faster tapping the little on-screen keyboard than I can trying to use the Graffiti handwriting program. It's not bad but it's just a little fussier than I like, so it's the keyboard.

I also discovered it's really, really easy to misplace a black stylus when you set it down on your black computer keyboard, just above the function keys... so my stylus now sports two bands of magenta nail polish, and a white stripe made from wrapping a tiny sliver cut off the edge of a label. Now I can see the darn thing a lot easier.

It's been an expensive month so far, because only a week ago I brought home a new faux-pod to play with. The week before that, it was a new portable hard drive because traveling or not, the work never stops.

They talk about boys and their toys. What about girls and their toys??


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bungle In The Jungle-Updated

Question: What's it like living with a sexually confused (and frustrated) gecko?

Answer: You never know what you're going to get when you put your hand into his cage....

Poor Geico. He's not getting any, and it's highly unlikely he ever WILL get any, because my house is already too crowded with five cages, and I just don't have what it takes to add babies to the mix; even if I did raise them only to sell. They have to be housed in the meantime. Besides... my girls still are not big enough, by a long shot, to breed.

A few months back Geico got aggressive, but the best guess at the time was a territorial dispute. Back then, he bit me a couple of times, hard enough to actually draw blood.

In the last couple of weeks, he has shown an inordinate interest in my hand--complete with tiny little squeaking noises. The first time he started squeaking while I was holding him, he very gently latched onto the side of my finger.

Uh oh.

I sprayed him in the face to try to get him to let go, and he just looked at me as if to say, what do you think you're doing, I'm trying to get busy here and you're spraying me with water! So now, if he lets out the slightest little squeak, he doesn't get anywhere near my hand. I've explained to him over and over that I don't date outside my species, but he persists in pretending not to understand English.

This morning, because it's supposed to be very hot today, I went to mist all the cages an extra time. Geico was up and around, way past his bedtime (at 11 o'clock in the morning, no less), front feet in his food dish--and the squeaking started the moment I unzipped his cage.

Very, very confused. The poor boy.

Update: At 2:15 in the afternoon I did nothing more than walk past his cage--and he poked his head out of his hidey-hole, a glint in his eye, and started across the cage toward me.

I told him to go back to bed.

I wonder if they make teeth-proof girl gecko blow-up dolls??


Friday, May 9, 2008

Nice "Solution."

Some time back I blogged about a person of my acquaintance who used to send me every urban legend that made the rounds of the in-boxes. After numerous return e-mail spankings admonishing the person to for cryin' out loud CHECK on things before "sending this to everyone you know" I was informed I am now off the list, meaning the spamming would go on; I just would not receive it anymore. Thanks... I think.

Fast forward to today. This person is a musician, and I thought the Station Inn audio files might be interesting. So I sent off a message, explaining what the gig was all about, along with links to the files.

The e-mail bounced, with the message that this user is not accepting mail from my address.

So, because I am a compassionate CrankyBeach and wanted this person to have the opportunity to hear some great music, I re-sent it from another address, and it hasn't bounced yet.

What a total moron.

Meanwhile... if any of my faithful readers would like to hear the entire gig (and it's well worth it), links to the files are posted below. You want to RIGHT click on them and save the target/file on your computer. (Mac users, you're on your own.) Thanks to Bob in Texas, whose audio it is. I recorded it myself, but the quality of his recording is better, especially on the chit-chat parts, which are just as much fun to listen to as the music. In my not so humble opinion.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

And for good measure... a photo of Justin Hayward singing "Nights in White Satin" for the how-many-bazillionth time since 1967, and still pouring just as much passion into it as he did 40 years ago. Amazing.



And let's not forget his sidekick... the fabulous Norda Mullen!




Thursday, May 8, 2008

Share The Laughs!

No, I don't actually have permission to reproduce this here... but I rather doubt its author would mind. The author is someone known only as "Leslee." This appeared on a members-only board, and the discussion concerned Justin Hayward's desire to keep his private life private, and the fact that he has moved several times in the last few years.

Do swallow your beverage before reading further.

I'm here to report that Justin and Marie are well and good. Awhile back, as I was gazing through their kitchen window, Justin spotted me. I put my arms out, and said, "I'm an elm!" in the hopes he would mistake me for the landscaping. The Haywards closed the curtains after that, and moved in a couple days.

It took a week before I stalked out the new place. It had a chimney, so I slid down and watched when they weren't looking. They were fine here, too. Winter came around, and I'd occasionally shriek and go, "Oooo!" when they would light a fire. That was when Justin wrote, "Haunted." Fortunately for me, they moved before December rolled around.

I hid in the plumbing of their next flat. Yes, they were getting along famously here, too. I can report that the rumors that Justin does those foul human things that the rest of us do are totally untrue. In four months of hiding in the toilet, not a single time did anybody use it.

At another place, I hid under a coffee table. I put a skirt around the bottom so they couldn't see me, I sawed a hole in the top, and I put a hollowed-out TV over the hole so I could look through at them. I figured they would think I was a talking head. Clever, huh? Marie walked in, and I started my first political analysis. She ran for Justin, and they moved out in less than an hour.

Another place, I came in through the bathroom window protected by a silver spoon. Sunday was on the phone to Monday, Tuesday was on the phone to me. The little dog laughed to see such fun, and the dish ran away with the spoon. Eek! The Haywards were getting along swimmingly, though.

The list goes on and on. I'm not sure why they keep moving, but yes, they are well.



Saturday, April 26, 2008

Curious.

One week ago today, I rented a car at the Nashville airport and drove off to explore the countryside a little. Being of a pathologically Scottish bent all my life, I had requested the cheapest skateboard in the Avis stable of cars. (I chose Avis because they opened the earliest the next morning, and returning the car as soon as they opened gave me plenty of time to get checked in and make my flight home.) Apparently they had no skateboards available, so they gave me quite an upgrade (at no extra charge, of course) and I found myself tooling around Nashville in a silver Mitsubishi Eclipse. Fun little car, if you like climbing into what feels like a hole in the ground. You barely touch the gas and it takes off like a bat out of hell.

Anyone who has read this blog for a while knows I enjoy chasing wildflowers. Being in Tennessee (a new state for me) I took the opportunity to see what grew locally, and found my way to the lovely Radnor Lake, which is not far outside Nashville. The nice lady at the visitor center desk asked me how strenuous a hike I wanted to take, and when I admitted I had only had about two hours of sleep, she suggested the lake trail, which is a little over 2 miles and circumnavigates the lake on level ground.

I got a few good pictures, which I will post a bit later.

Now to the curious part. On the way back into town, I took all surface roads because one can drive on a freeway anywhere. A wide spot in the road on the outskirts of the city boasted a used bookstore, so I stopped, in search of a book about local wildflowers so I could identify what I'd seen. Go figure. The store owner was only able to find me a nice book of ... California wildflowers. I actually bought it because it has some nice pictures in it. She asked me how I was enjoying Nashville, and I said everyone in town is very friendly, but out on the hiking trails, nobody looks at you and nobody says hello. In California, it's the opposite. People are not terribly friendly in town; but on the trail, everyone says hi, beautiful day, enjoy your hike, etc.

Tomorrow is the Big Sur Marathon, and as usual the girls and I are doing the 10.6 mile walk. I'm meeting them in 10 minutes at the expo where we pick up our bib numbers, T-shirts and bus tickets, so I'd best dash on down the hill now.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Not A Dry Eye In The House

UPDATE: For some reason these videos were not available for a time; apparently their URLs changed. But they're back and good to go now. Watch. Do it.

Someone caught Emma's performance of "Voices in the Sky" and posted it on Youtube. A couple of times they pan the camera over to Justin. I believe the person with the video camera was leaning against the post just across the table from where I was sitting. When it was over, Justin said, "I hope somebody got that!" Indeed they did.

Watch this. You will not regret it. Do it now.



After Emma was finished and left the stage, Justin and Norda did "Nights in White Satin" for their closing number. Amazing. After 40+ years of performing that song, he still gives it his all.




Saturday, April 19, 2008

Adventures In Fandom

For those who care...

... the Nashville adventure is nearly over. All that's left is the plane trip home tomorrow.

It started off badly enough when my alarm went off at 4:30 Thursday morning. I looked at the clock, said a swear word, and then the phone rang. "Ma'am, your taxi is waiting downstairs." I had somehow set the alarm for the same time as I'd requested the taxi. "Tell him I'll be down in five minutes," I told the dispatcher--and I made it in seven minutes. That's got to be a record. Naturally I forgot a couple of things on the way out the door, but nothing fatal.

The next fun thing happened when the middle flight of the three was delayed--and by the time we landed in Charlotte, I had just 15 minutes to make my connection to Nashville. Lucky for me, the two gates were in the same concourse, albeit at opposite ends. I ran most of the way--and ran myself right into an allergy attack. As I huffed and puffed my way around the corner, the agents at the podium called me by name and said they were waiting for me. They just about shut the plane door on my heels, and we took off on time. I coughed uncontrollably most of the way to Nashville, and apologized to the soldier in the next seat; told him I wasn't sick, just allergic to something. I had some tea, and it finally calmed down.

I'd have been willing to bet money my checked suitcase wouldn't make the flight with me--and I was right. But it was actually a good thing, because I was going straight to a club from the airport, and that meant I had one less thing to haul with me.

Now, about that club thing... (Jill, if you're reading this, take a deep breath and put down your beverage.) I got a heads-up from an online friend (who has mysterious but impeccable sources) that Justin was going to be playing a small informal gig Thursday night at a club. In order to get there on time, I had to go straight from the airport, luggage and all. I met up with some of those online folks in the (short) line to get into the club. We got very good seats--I was maybe 8 feet from Norda, the flutist (who came along with Justin) and 10 feet from Justin himself. But before they went onstage... I bumped into them back near the restrooms. I asked Justin if I could shake his hand, and he said certainly, though he had just put cream on his hands. I said, oh, good, that means I get some too! He was very relaxed, personable, and put everyone at ease. Then Norda came along so I asked if I could shake her hand too. She freed up a hand and shook mine.

Some folks described this gig as a "jam" but it was more of a "round-robin" format, as I understand the term. Justin played a song, then the next guy in line played a song, and then a brother and sister duo played a song. And so forth. Justin and the next guy were joking around and trading mock-insults and banter. It was very entertaining. One of the highlights was when a couple of members of the "Moody Bluegrass" tribute band brought their 8 year old daughter onstage and accompanied her performance of "Voices in the Sky." I don't think there was a dry eye in the place. Even Justin (who wrote the song, for those of you heathens who don't know) wiped away a tear or two. This portion of the evening ended with Justin and Norda performing "Nights in White Satin."

After a break, another group went onstage to perform. Justin and Norda hung around to listen. During a lull I went by their table and thanked them for such a marvelous performance. Then Norda and I did a couple of minutes of flute-geek talk--right across Justin. He probably enjoyed the fact that for once, someone wasn't trying to get HIS attention. Norda is very friendly and down to earth. A little bit later I went back and got each of them to autograph one of the pictures I had come prepared with just in case. They both obliged and were very nice about it. Justin said, "Oh, I haven't seen this picture! Where's it from?" "San Francisco, opening night of this tour," I told him. Norda didn't think the picture of her was so great, but she signed it anyway. I told her I'd see her from the third row the following night.

The Ryman Auditorium seats are just like old wooden church pews. I was actually in the first row of regular seats, behind two rows of folding chairs in the "pit." So when it came time to rush the stage, as tradition demands, all I had to do was stand up. The show was fantastic, of course, as usual, and during both of the group bows (the ones before and after the "encore") I waved at Norda and she waved back and mouthed "thank you" at me. So that was pretty cool.

A bunch of other stuff happened, including Kerry flying down from Wisconsin to join me, a Maalox moment at the will-call ticket window when they had no idea who I was, and a trip this morning out to the countryside in a rental car to photograph a few wildflowers... but those things will have to wait. I'll try to report more later (and there may be pictures too) but I only manged about 2 hours of sleep last night, and I'm running on fumes. So I am going to take a nap. I have to be out of here at (gasp) 4:30 a.m. to get to the airport on time tomorrow. So ta-ta for now!


Friday, April 11, 2008

Call Off The Posse

No, I haven't been kidnapped by aliens.

I've just been working CRAZY hours, trying to get caught up with everything. Plus, one of our doctors just had her baby, so I needed to get all of her dictation caught up so when the other docs see her patients, they'll have all of her notes.

I'm not writing about politics because I am in total political fatigue--and it's only April. Many, many moons to go before they all SHUT UP.

Other than that... I've been watching an online "flame war" unfold with utter fascination. No, I'm not telling where it is or what it's about. But it has spilled across three bulletin boards and e-mail lists, and it's like watching a multi-car pile-up on a foggy freeway, in some ways. I have not publicly taken sides... but let's just say it's not too hard to see who's been drinking the nastyjuice for breakfast, and I have no time for nasty people.

In other news... long story a whole lot shorter, I actually won tickets to see (can you guess) the Moody Blues--in Nashville. So I'm using my frequent flyer miles to get there, and Kerry is flying in to meet me. We're meeting up with some other fans there, and should have a jolly good time. Kerry likes the Moody Blues but has never been to one of their concerts. She is for a treat.

And for any of you Moody fans who are watching... a few more pretty pictures. Enjoy!






















Friday, March 21, 2008

And The Car She Drove In With

It's been another expensive day.

Yesterday my desktop 'pooter had to go to the hospital because I had just ejected a CD, the phone rang, I yanked off my headset and went for the phone--and joggled the CD drawer with my elbow. And then it would not retract.

To fix it, they have to take the entire drive apart and tweak something inside of it.

Then, this morning my car went in for a minor servicing. Uh huh. Turned out my tires were within about a millimeter of killing me, plus the alignment was off. So by the time I got out of there, my credit card was bleeding profusely.

But I got into an interesting discussion with the service manager about the loaner car they gave me. The last two times, I've had a loaner with the keyless thingamajig where you simply have the remote nearby and push a button on the dash to start the car. When I saw them bringing over a genuine KEY, I was ecstatic. I explained that with a real key, you put it in the ignition and you have a nice convenient place to hang the rest of your keys. With the keyless thing, what are you supposed to do with your keys? The service manager said most people just put 'em in their pocket. Then he looked over at me, in my pocket-less sweat pants, and said, "Uh huh. Obviously when they designed it, they didn't think about a good percentage of the population not having pockets!" Then I cracked him up by saying I had left my keys sitting in my lap, and at the end of the trip when I went to get them, well, let's just say they had shifted position such that I looked like I was doing a Pee-Wee Herman to retrieve them.

Now me, my car and my computer are all safely back home, and I am going to try very, very hard not to spend any more money today.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Thank You, Justin Hayward

I went back and read the news archives at Justin's website. Here is part of what he said in September 2001. Emphasis mine:

As you know, the people of Great Britain and London, my home for most of my life so far, have experienced acts of terrorism many times in the last thirty years. But now nothing on the scale of the USA. I feel as if someone I love has been mortally wounded. But America will always be the greatest nation on Earth (and I've seen the rest of the World). I pray there can be peace on Earth.
Take note, you America-hating Americans. Even an old British rock 'n' roller recognizes the greatness of our country. So there.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Glory Be... The Man Can Smile!



Maaahvelous concert again last night. Here is part of the concert report I posted late last night on a couple of fan boards:

First off... I got busted at intermission for the camera, but the security guy was nice about it. He said put it away and we'll call it square. So I did. But then during "Question" there was no WAY a security person was going to see me, because everybody was up out of their seats, dancing, some in the aisles. So I ripped off a bunch more frames.

Something went haywire with the projector at the start of the second half, so there were no background pictures for the entire second half. I hope they get that fixed.

Justin smiled just a little more tonight than he did Tuesday. But he still looks a bit tired. Nonetheless... he did not "phone in" his performance. He was magnificent. As were the rest.

Graeme announced that it was Julie's birthday. He then went on to say they had recorded "higher and Higher" "before you were born, love." After he went back to his place at the drums after the song, I saw her flip him the bird!

Oh, and when I first sat down (in the 4th row) there was a guy one row ahead and a few seats over. I guess I must have said I'd gone to San Francisco--because he said, "Oh, are you CrankyBeach?" Geez! My reputation precedes me!
I actually took over 500 pictures last night, despite the alleged camera ban. Many are blurry, and most have problems such as microphones in front of faces, shadows on faces, waving arms between me and the stage... but I did get a few really decent ones. Here's a nice one of Justin and John rockin' out:



I'm still in Santa Rosa. I went skating this morning--the young lady in the rink box office was at the concert last night too--and planned to go wildflower-chasing this afternoon, but I was so tired I came back to the hotel and slept the afternoon away. And now it's time to chase down some dinner. I'll go chase flowers tomorrow, before I go home.



Sunday, March 9, 2008

Life Doesn't Get Any Better Than This!

Rolled into Santa Rosa about half an hour ago... now sipping a mocha at Bad Ass Coffee, which is literally right next door to tonight's concert venue. Saw the big equipment trucks parked behind the theatre as I came down the off-ramp.

Driving a Lexus through San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge on a warm day (!), windows down and sunroof open, blasting the Moody Blues as loud as I wanted--it doesn't get any better than this. Until showtime, that is, which is less than 6 hours away, woo-hoo!


Friday, March 7, 2008

Shocking.

How, I axe you, does somebody get to be our age, did not grow up in Outer Mongolia (or on another planet, for that matter) and NOT know, offhand, any of the music of the Moody Blues??

Had coffee today with old, old friend and frequent commenter Jeff--and it came up in conversation that he would not know a Moody Blues song if it slapped him upside the head.

Needless to say... the indoctrination has begun. I e-mailed him MP3s of a few of the best (and best-known) songs. I also told him if he does not recognize "Nights in White Satin" I will clean out his ears with a toilet plunger.

Speaking of "Nights..." the friend I dragged to the concert and I were discussing on the way back how many bazillion times Justin Hayward has sung that song in the last 40 years, and he still sings it with just as much "oomph" as he did on the original recording. Just amazing.

I just love it when John meanders over to Justin's side of the stage and the two of them get down and start rockin' out. Rock on, guys!



And keep on making those funny faces, Justin. You crack me up.




Wednesday, March 5, 2008

More Photographic Goodness

As I upload them, I've dumped my concert images into a slide show on Photobucket. More images will appear as I upload more pictures. Enjoy!

Update: The slide show is now complete with the 30 pictures allowed when you aren't a paid member of Photobucket. And the images are now in chronological order except for the very first one.






 
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