Friday, June 26, 2009

Taking a break

Heading north to Michigan after lunch today. Posting will be sporadic for awhile.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Pulitzer Project: So Big


This one's a keeper. That didn't come as a surprise -- anyone who could crank out as many best sellers as Edna Ferber did had to be capable of at least telling a decent story. She could do more that, though. Danielle Steele tells stories; Edna Ferber could actually write. I was vaguely familiar with Ferber's work before I started So Big, the novel that won her the Pulitzer in 1925. I doubt there's a person on the planet who hasn't seen Showboat (there have been four movie adaptations to date) or Giant (Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean!), and I'd felt obligated to read Come and Get It because I graduated from high school in the town (Hurley, Wisconsin) that allegedly served as the model for the rowdy brothels and bars community Ferber so colorfully describes. I'd never gotten around to reading So Big, though.

So Big is set on the outskirts of Chicago at the end of the 19th century. Ferber takes some familiar conventions and twists them in intriguing ways. She has the plucky heroine, so well-loved in fiction for generations, who is suddenly orphaned, finds herself almost penniless, and is forced to make her own way in the world. She goes off to teach at a country school, and then is swept off her feet by a handsome Dutch farmer. This is the point where most stories would end -- the traditional happy ending.

Except it's not a happy ending, of course. The handsome Dutch farmer turns out to be both stubborn and stupid, totally oblivious to the fact his schoolteacher wife isn't just more literate than he is, she's also a heck of a lot smarter. He really loves his wife, but the bottom line is he's basically an unimaginative lout, a good-natured idiot totally incapable of entertaining any new ideas. Still, Selina perseveres and manages to find beauty and happiness despite the frustrations, and eventually Pervus DeJong has the good grace to die. Widowed and with a young son to raise, Selina turns it into one of the most profitable truck farms supplying high quality vegetables to the Chicago markets.

When a person looks at the plot outline -- gambler's daughter marries farmer, waits for him to die, and then lives reasonably contentedly ever after -- it really doesn't look like the book would be worth reading. But it is. Ferber had a true gift both for descriptions and for characters. There is nothing flat in the book. You can almost feel the muck rising up around Selina's ankles in the farmyard, and see the bafflement in her son's eyes when she's trying to explain to him the difference between actually living and merely existing. Dirk doesn't get it, but at least when the book ends you get the impression he wants to understand, so maybe eventually he will.

In the introduction to the book, Maria K. Mootry (whoever she might be; I don't have a clue) speculates that one reason Ferber tends to be overlooked and/or forgotten today is she was too successful. Her books don't count as "literature" because they sold too well. I'm not sure they are forgotten or overlooked -- this was the first book in this "project" that was easy to get. The DeKalb library system has multiple copies, and the one I checked out looks to be extremely well-read. It's been rebound at least once already, and it's a 1995 edition.

I was amused to discover as the book progressed that young Dirk DeJong lived on the same street in Chicago that I did briefly. He rented rooms in a boarding house on Deming Place. Ferber doesn't do much neighborhood description, but it was a great place to be during the summer I spent there as a mother's helper, spitting distance from the North Pond in Lincoln Park and an easy walk to the Fullerton Avenue Beach.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Purely rhetorical question

Are there any married Republicans left out there who aren't screwing around on their wives?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I want this guy's job

I came home for lunch and saw this van. My first thought, naturally, was gas or plumbing? I was wrong. This is what's getting checked:
I heard the dude say it's going to probably take him "another 3 or 4 hours" to do a really thorough check. Any job where the "uniform" consists of swim trunks and flip flops can't be too shabby. And for sure I can think of far worse ways to spend a hot summer day in Atlanta than being paid to dip in and out of a swimming pool.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

One for Ranger Bob

Check out the postmark. Is this or is this not really cool railroading ephemera?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Trip down Nostalgia Lane

It's that time of year when people are heading to reunions. I have no desire to attend one myself, but after reading Lisa's pre-reunion posts and her mention of Cindy Lauper, I started thinking about oldies. . . and this is what was number one on the Billboard charts the week I graduated from high school.



I really am older than dirt.

More health care musings

I've been reading the article about health care costs in the New Yorker that's been referenced a number of times in various discussions, both in the MSM and in the blogosphere, and it's pretty interesting. The author, a surgeon, went to McAllen, Texas, an area with the highest per capita medical expenses in the country. He wanted to find out what was going on there that made it different from a place like Rochester, Minnesota, home of the world-famous Mayo Clinic. Per capita costs in Rochester average about 60% what they do in McAllen.

It's an intriguing article. The first thing the author discovers is that the clinicians and health care administrators in the area had no idea they ranked first in the country for patient costs. As far as they all could tell, no one was going out of his or her way to push treatments that weren't needed. So they posit that perhaps the problem is that McAllen just has a higher than average percentage of unhealthy people. It is, after all, a poor area with an extremely low average household income, which in turn suggests lousy diets, obesity, and clogged arteries.

Well, that theory gets blown out of the water pretty quickly. Turns out that the while the local populace looks like they'd be key candidates for things like heart disease and its attendant high dollar procedures (echocardiograms, angioplasties, by-passes, etc.) the average number of procedures done in McAllen isn't noticeably higher than any some parts of the country and is actually lower than cardiac procedure rates in regions that have lower overall costs.

What it comes down in the end turns out to be pretty predictable: physicians, hospitals, and other providers who have come to see patients as a revenue stream. No one thought that he or she individually was pushing unnecessary procedures, but it turned out the overall culture with its emphasis on profits and revenue streams encouraged doctors to do just that. McAllen has high medical costs per capita because the system, both private insurance and public programs like Medicare, incentivize high dollar procedures. The more procedures that get done, the more patients that cycle in and out of waiting rooms, the more money the doctors make. (In contrast, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester removes the financial incentive by putting physicians on straight salary; there's no linkage between number of patients seen and the size of their paychecks.) In McAllen no one is seeing the system as a whole -- they're just viewing each patient, each procedure, as a unique cash transaction in itself. Ironically, despite having all this high dollar medicine available, the overall morbidity and mortality rates for McAllen aren't so hot. Turns out that as clinicians focus on revenue streams, they lose sight of prevention. So the elderly in McAllen get a lot of colonoscopies (over $3000 a pop) and echocardiograms ($1400) and not enough flu shots ($20 at the local Walgreen's?).

Plus, of course, the fact that a procedure can be done doesn't necessarily mean it should be done. Every invasive procedure introduces the risk of infection or other complications, every "routine" surgery carries with it the possibility of an allergic reaction to anesthesia, wounds that refuse to heal, blood clots, you name it. So between the de-emphasis on preventive health and the excessive ordering of various procedures, the folks in McAllens end up dying sooner than the American average.

I must say that conclusion floored me. At the very least, one would expect that if clinicians are ordering all sorts of tests and things there'd be a pay-off of some sort for the patient: better quality of life, increased longevity, whatever. Nope. No such luck.

The author basically comes to the conclusion that what the American health care system needs isn't a change in who's paying for what because switching who signs the checks isn't going to address many of the fundamental problems in the system now. What the system needs is to go back to being patient-centered. Unfortunately, in a culture that prizes profits above all else, that isn't likely to happen any time soon.

I did learn one interesting thing. In addition to the Rochester, Minnesota, area, there are some other parts of the country that stand out for putting patients first in the health care equation. One is Grand Junction, Colorado. It ranks really high in terms of both quality of care and patient satisfaction. That's were my mom lives. No wonder she never has anything bad to say about her doctors or Medicare.

Friday, June 19, 2009

First they came for the peanut butter. . .

And now this:

Food maker Nestle USA on Friday voluntarily recalled its Toll House refrigerated cookie dough products after a number of illnesses were reported by those who ate the dough raw.

The company said the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control are investigating reported E. coli illnesses that might be related to the ingestion of raw cookie dough.

[Photo of e. coli bacterium from the CDC's Public Health Images Library.]

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Another reason to miss the S.O.

Since the S.O. left for the tundra, I've been planning meals and doing the grocery shopping with all the intelligence of a slightly brain-damaged teenage boy. When the S.O. is around, I may have an occasional odd craving but I have the good sense not to indulge it. But today I found myself at Target on my lunch break, and this actually jumped into the cart. Along with a Dr. Pepper, a bag of Cheetos, and a package of Australian licorice. Even worse, I'm sitting here actually eating the stuff.

Maybe I should just take comfort in helping to support the economy of northern Wisconsin* and not think too hard about the way jerky looks like road kill. (I also think their Sasquatch ads go so far beyond stupid the only possible explanation is that everyone at the ad agency grew up huffing Aqua Net hair spray, but that's a topic for another time.)

(*I've actually been to Minong, but did not dine at Grandma Link's Restaurant, although I hear the food's not bad, nor did I browse the cars on the lot at Link's Ford, or look at campers at Link's RV Sales -- who'd a thunk that Link was an actual family name and not something made up by a corporate shill?)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pultizer Project: The Able McLaughlins

Well, I'm up to 1924. Margaret Wilson's The Able McLaughlins marks the seventh one* I've read since starting this project, and I'm beginning to think that Pulitzer winners are like Star Trek movies -- only every other one is actually worth spending time with.

The Able McLaughlins is a post-Civil War novel, sort of. The war doesn't actually enter into the story much beyond the fact one of the main characters serves in the Union army. The hero, Wully McLaughlin, is a hard-working Iowa farm boy, one of the older sons of a humongous family of Scottish immigrants who are establishing farms on the prairie, and grows up surrounded by a zillion aunts, uncles, and cousins. Apparently where one McLaughlin went, several hundred soon followed, so when one McLaughlin left Scotland to start farming in the midwest, he wasn't alone very long. The McLauglins are a lot of things -- honest, devout, incredibly fertile -- but communicative doesn't make the list. They do a lot of thinking and brooding, but actual conversations don't seem to happen very often.

Wully, for example, comes home from the war briefly, on an unofficial leave (he was captured by Confederates and escaped, and decided to come home to rest up for awhile before reporting back to the Union army), and while at home falls in love with the girl next door. As far as I could tell from the book, their interpersonal communications consist basically of them staring at each other, being instantly smitten by love at first sight when they both suddenly realize they're no longer children, and then Wully goes back to the military having decided that Chirstie (and, yes, I know all the names look like typos; I think it was part of the author's misguided attempts to add some folksy and/or ethnic charm to the tale) is his One True Love. A few months later the war is over, Wully comes home for good, and is dismayed to find Chirstie giving him the cold shoulder.

There are Reasons, of course, and a low-life villainous cousin lurking in the shadows. Once Wully blunders upon the truth he insists that Chirstie marry him immediately. His parents are puzzled and shamed by the sudden marriage (they believe Wully has been less than honorable), but eventually the facts emerge and his mother is able to be quietly proud of him again. Long before that point, though, the Reader finds herself losing patience with the incapable-of-speech McLaughlins and thinking dark thoughts about authors who persist in creating characters whose only function seems to be inspiring irritation in the audience.

Good points about The Able McLaughlins: it's easy reading, definitely much, much lighter than the first five winners were, and one of the minor characters (Chirstie's stepmother) does add some comic relief.

Negatives? It's not very good.

*I read Gilead (2004 winner) way out of order; otherwise I'm working my way up the list from oldest to most recent.

Internet addiction

As usual, click on cartoon to see full image. (One of these days I'm going to figure out how to size the thing so it fits the space available.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Still brooding about health care

It's a good thing the S.O. isn't here. He might have had heart failure this morning. The idiots on C-SPAN and the morning news shows had me feeling so frustrated and pissed off that I resorted to doing actual housework in order to burn it off. You know I'm feeling frustrated when I'm on my hands and knees mopping the kitchen floor the old-fashioned way, with a scrub brush and a rag.

I think the one thing that had me wanting to reach right through the screen and strangle someone was the repetition of a flatout lie, over and over, that the problem with Medicare and Medicaid is the horrendous paperwork, just how incredibly inefficient the government is at processing claims. The Medicare program spends less than 5% of its budget on administrative costs, i.e., the paper shuffling, while the private insurance companies are spending well over 30% on administration.

Of course, there is one huge difference between Medicare and Aetna et al: the person running the Medicare program works for us. No multi-million dollar CEO salaries driving up administrative costs. Medicare is part of Health and Human Services. People may bitch about bloated government bureaucracies, but you can get an awful of lot of GS-5 clerks for the price of one private sector executive. Yes, the chief administrator for Medicare is making 6 figures, but not dramatically so. The senior executive service tops out at under $200,000 annually, although there would be locality pay adjustments on top of the base salary. Compare that with the over $15 million that the CEO for Travelers carried home in 2006.

Nonetheless, Medicare is derided for being expensive, cumbersome, and poorly managed. No wonder I felt like scrubbing floors -- the alternative was brain bleach, and that's hard to come by.

(The other thing that drives me right up a wall, of course, is hearing over and over that we don't want government bureaucrats making decisions about which medical procedures are necessary. Given that the first words out of my doctor's mouth every time he's contemplating ordering a lab test or prescribing a different drug are "I'm not sure your insurance covers this, let me check first," that argument doesn't have much traction with me.)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

What kind of fuckery is this?

I'm seeing news reports that one way Obama is proposing tackling runaway health care costs is by reducing the amounts Medicare and Medicaid currently pay out to doctors and hospitals. WTF?! There are doctors now who refuse to treat patients covered by those plans because the reimbursement rates are set so low. I need to do more reading, but for sure this does not sound like a particularly bright idea.
Here's a different idea -- how about going after the insurance companies and basically getting rid of them?

Right now over 1/3 of the health care costs racked up in this country go to pay for the papershuffling done by Blue Cross, Aetna, Travelers, et al. Maybe if we went to single payer and simplified the administrative processes by doing so, we wouldn't need to punish actual clinicians and the patients they're trying to serve.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Health care

Why I support a universal single payer system, a case comparison based on personal experiences:

Patient A: 30-something woman with a husband and young daughter is diagnosed with breast cancer. Despite receiving first class care, the cancer metastasizes and becomes systemic. After approximately five years, she dies.

Patient B: slightly older woman, single mother with a teenage daughter, is diagnosed with breast cancer. Her cancer progresses in much the same manner as Patient A, and approximately 5 years after the initial diagnosis, she dies.

So what's the difference? First, Patient A never had to argue with her doctors about whether or not her insurance would pay for a particular treatment, never had to worry about her own co-pays and deductibles, and did not leave her family holding a stack of medical bills several feet high. She and her family went through hell, but the one thing they never had to deal with was the possibility of her not being treated because she couldn't afford it.

Patient B, despite being a public school teacher with a supposedly comprehensive health insurance plan through her employer, wound up relying on loans from relatives, spaghetti dinners, bake sales, and other fund raisers, worried constantly about money, exhausted her sick leave so found herself with no income, and died many thousands of dollars in debt. Given the debilitating effects of stress on the human body, a person can't help but wonder what impact worrying about money had on her disease.

And why the different financial scenarios? Patient A lived in Sweden; Patient B lived in Michigan. When we live in a country where people who are employed full-time at what are supposedly decent, middle-class jobs and have what are supposedly good health insurance benefits find themselves relying on charity to pay for their prescriptions, something is seriously wrong.

My friend Tracy frets occasionally about end of life issues, like being maintained on life support when she really wouldn't want to be. I always tell her, hey, you want to make sure no one tries any heroic measures? Just show up at the Emergency Room of most hospitals without insurance.

On a related note, in terms of how a universal system might actually work, Utah Savage had a good post on the realities of living with Medicare a day or two ago. It's worth looking at.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Missing the S.O.

This is where I'm spending a good chunk of the afternoon: I know there are other and much better reasons to miss the S.O. while he's off cavorting in Upper Michigan, but the nifty way he took care of the boring chores like laundry while I was at work is nonetheless fairly high on the list. Really makes a person understand why men are so fond of the concept of the stay-at-home wife. Last year a few weeks before he left for the summer it occurred to me that I had never actually seen the laundry room in this complex. I'd had no reason to. I made the mistake of saying so out loud. The following day I came home to this slide show:

Turn by turn directions, starting just outside our front door, looking up hill:

Follow the sidewalk up hill to the left turn:

Keep following the sidewalk:

Around another corner:

The Door:

And you've already seen the interior. Not exactly one of the posher laundry rooms I've seen, but it's clean, the cost is reasonable, and the machines work.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Graduation season

Found this in a folder while cleaning out the filing cabinet yesterday. It's from the Virginia Tech student paper from 16 years ago. When it comes to the job market for recent grads, I guess this might be proof that the economy really is cyclical.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Woman Behind the New Deal, a book review


I just finished reading The Woman Behind the New Deal, a biography of Frances Perkins written by Kirstin Downey. Perkins was the first woman ever appointed to a presidential cabinet position, when Franklin Roosevelt tapped her to head the Labor Department in 1933. Perkins was attacked nonstop through her entire tenure, assailed for Communist sympathies, for being too pro-business, for being too pro-labor, for doing too much and for not doing enough. Her press coverage was horrible -- she never learned how to cultivate reporters the way other high profile women of her time, like Eleanor Roosevelt, managed to. Nonetheless, she was one of the few persons appointed by FDR at the start of his first term who was still there when he died in 1945.

Perkins is also, according to Downey, one of those people who has faded into obscurity instead of receiving the credit she is due for her contributions to many New Deal programs, such as the Social Security system. I'm not sure I agree with Downey, at least not in the sense she means it. The reality is most Americans have very short memories, especially when it comes to public officials who actually do their jobs without a whole lot of fanfare. Unless someone manages to be either so venal or so incompetent that they make headlines repeatedly, or they manage to say something so colossally stupid it goes viral, Cabinet officers fade from public consciousness pretty fast. I don't think the average person could name more than two or three of President Obama's cabinet now, and he just appointed them.

Perkins did lead an interesting life, and she was pivotal in many of the decisions that led to programs, like national minimum wage and hour laws, that had a profound effect on workers. She also led a very contradictory, secretive life -- she managed to keep her private life private in a way that would be impossible today. She was married to an economist, Paul Wilson, but few people knew it. Her name wasn't actually Frances -- it was Fannie; she started using Frances after graduating from college and moving to Chicago. She was two years older than her stated age -- she shaved the two years off when she first began working with FDR when he became governor of New York so she would appear to be younger than he was.

She was also manipulative, gifted both at landing on her feet and on cultivating connections, both political and personal, that could help her. She had a number of wealthy female friends, for example, who basically picked up the tab for her living expenses. Perkins herself was always strapped for cash -- in addition to having to pay her husband's medical expenses, she raised her only daughter as though she was the social and economic equal of the wealthy New York upper crust, spoiling her outrageously in the process, and then suffered the heartbreak of seeing the daughter develop the same mental illness (probably bipolar disorder) that incapacitated Perkins' husband for most of his adult life. Even worse, the Freudian therapist treating Susanna convinced her Perkins' poor mothering skills were to blame for Susanna's problems, leading to an estrangement between the two that lasted until Perkins' death.

Her invalid husband and her unstable, spoiled daughter were in fact the reasons Perkins kept working long after she could have legitimately retired. When Harry Truman took office in April 1945, Perkins resigned from her position in the Cabinet. Instead of returning to private life, she negotiated, calling in various political favors, for an appointment to another government agency. She needed the money. She then served on the Civil Service Commission until Dwight Eisenhower took office in 1953. By then she was 73 years old, and should have been able to go back to her New York apartment and relax. Instead she found herself hustling for contracts for short term lectureships, serving as adjunct faculty at various colleges around the country. At 77 she got lucky and got a permanent contract at Cornell, but it was still not as full-time faculty, so money was still tight -- and her daughter was still broke, still draining Perkins' wallet.

The bizarre part is the way Perkins managed to keep her private family drama so thoroughly under wraps that her friends and colleagues never realized there were any problems. A few long-time acquaintances knew about her husband's numerous sanitarium stays because they had known him before his illness made him too unstable to work, but as time passed fewer and fewer people remembered. Wilson had been seen as a rising star in New York politics, had served as an assistant to the mayor of New York, and was expected to do great things -- and then he had a breakdown. One of the things that dogged Perkins throughout her life was, in fact, the tendency of some people to blame her for that breakdown because she had allowed her own ambitions to come before being a good wife. As Downey makes clear, the opposite was true -- if Paul Wilson had been able to pursue his career, Perkins would have cheerfully accepted the role of political spouse, serving on charity boards and generally fitting right into the stereotypical Junior League role she had in fact been living since her marriage.

I'm not really sure what to think about either Perkins or the book in general. I have a hunch the author was having the same difficulties when it came to Perkins. On the one hand, Perkins was in the right place at the right time, she obviously believed deeply in almost everything Roosevelt did, and she did leave a paper trail documenting those beliefs. On the other, she was apparently so gifted at getting the men in power to believe that whatever they were doing was their own idea that it's hard to know just how much credit to give her. Was she actually, as Downey claims in the subtitle, Franklin's moral conscience or was she simply in the right place at the right time?

I also found it really hard to believe that, as Downey claims, FDR and Perkins were good friends. Downey documents way too many examples of FDR either tossing Perkins under the bus when it was politically expedient for him to do so or of him discounting and ignoring her objections when key pieces of legislation were being eviscerated. I'm not sure what was going on with the author when it came to her descriptions of FDR vis a vis Perkins. Most historians say that the one area where FDR was consistently supportive was the Labor Department and Frances Perkins; the consensus is that he rarely disagreed with her. Downey, however, gives example after example of FDR either ignoring her advice or deliberately leaving her high and dry to take the heat from congressional committees and the press. I know Downey made extensive use of Perkins' papers and letters that survive in various archives; maybe she should have expanded her source material and done a little more research at how some of the events appeared from other angles. If she had done so, maybe Perkins wouldn't come across as quite so much of a martyr.

One interesting side note, a bit of historical trivia, something that over at Shakesville they'd probably refer to as a teaspoon, that kind of highlights good things can happen in small steps. When Perkins arrived in DC in 1933 she discovered they had a major cockroach problem in the Labor Department offices. She investigated, and learned it was due in part to the African American staff carrying bagged lunches. The department cafeteria was whites only, so were most of the restaurants in the area right around the government buildings, so black workers had to carry their lunches and eat at their desks. She ordered that the cafeteria be integrated, and it was, apparently without much of a fuss. The Labor Department cafeteria then got used over and over in other discussions of integration in government offices and programs as an illustration that segregation was irrational.

So, bottom line: do I recommend this book? Yes, if you like history, have any interest in FDR and the New Deal, and can tolerate mild hagiography. It was a decent read and brought out aspects of both FDR and Eleanor I'd never seen before. As for Perkins herself, I think I'm going to do more reading before I make up my mind about her.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Not what most people want to be remembered for

Grasshopper, grasshopper. . . we're all so disappointed in you. . . although as soon as I'd heard that he'd died in Thailand I knew we were going to be reading something like this:

Thai police officers investigating the death of David Carradine, the American actor who made his name in the "Kung Fu" television series in the 1970s, say he most likely died of asphyxiation, possibly when an autoerotic sex game went wrong.

Carradine, 72, was found naked in a closet in an upscale Bangkok hotel on Thursday with cords around his neck and his genitals. The police are checking DNA found on the cords, but say they found no signs of a struggle, suggesting that Carradine might have either tied himself up or submitted voluntarily to his incapacitation.

And you know, I'm not sure which is worse -- the fact the dude was stupid enough to do something like this to himself, or the rather appalling mental image of a naked 72-year-old has-been celebrity.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Inspired by Attentive Aphorist and lifted from Pharyngula.

TGIF

I've been feeling brain dead all week. Maybe it's the effect of having to edit and then proof galleys for an article on mad cow disease -- or a variation on mad cow.

The research itself sounded like it fell into the mad scientist category, strange experiments involving transgenic mice created so they have pig proteins in them (I kept thinking, wow, those would be the world's smallest pork chops), and then was written up with a zillion technical terms and bizarre acronyms. Not nearly as much fun to edit as the giant anteaters with influenza report was.

I am, nonetheless, feeling quite comfortable in the current cubicle. Still don't know if I'll be in it permanently (or what counts as permanently here at Large Nameless Agency), but I've noticed more and more of my stuff seems to be showing up: calendars, plants, family photos, souvenir coffee cups. Definite nest building activity. There had been some talk of an actual office with a door, but after two months in this space, I'm thinking why bother? Obviously the ambient noise doesn't bother me, so why go through the hassle?

And now. . . back to proofing galleys, as I move on to chlamydia, gene typing, and ompA*, which of course always makes me think of this:

I'm definitely ready for the weekend.
[*outer membrane protein A]

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Stuff I never thought I'd see in my mailbox

I got home from work and found this waiting for me:I never, ever thought I'd get summoned for jury duty. We've lived all over the country, the S.O. has gotten notices, the Younger Daughter has gotten notices, but never ever yours truly.

I won't make it on to an actual jury, of course. That would be too much to hope for. In fact, odds are that when I call the night before I'll discover the closest I'm getting to the courthouse is mailing the questionnaire back.

(My team lead is going to be thrilled by this news, I say sarcastically. July 13 is the day I'm supposed to be back in the office following a 2-week vacation. She just signed off on the leave request yesterday. I think I'll wait awhile to share this news with her.)

Monday, June 1, 2009

What I'm thinking

It's always nice to discover that when words fail me, other people are out there still capable of true eloquence:

From the Rude Pundit:
The Rude Pundit wants this fucker put into detention at Gitmo, no motherfuckin' questions asked. Yeah, that's right. He wants the guy who assassinated Dr. George Tiller fuckin' hooded, chained, put on a cargo plane with fuckin' headphones on so he can't hear shit, and flown across that little bit of ocean to Cuba, man, our little colony on the bay. And when that cocksucker gets there, the Rude Pundit wants him interrogated, interrogated like a terrorist oughta be interrogated, strippin' off his clothes and pointing and laughing at his scared, tiny cock, slammin' him up against a fake wall over and over and over, slapped in just the prescribed places. Fear up that motherfucker. And who knows what plots he's involved in? Who knows how many radical fascist Christianist sleeper cells are waiting to blow away more abortion providing doctors, destroy their hospitals, attack the mothers themselves? How can you be sure? Because the authorities asked him? Because he said he was acting alone? You trust the killer?

Fuck that. Lay that backwards ass, shack-dwelling mule fucker out. Tie him down and tilt him back. It's time for the cloth and the water, 20 seconds at a time, oh, fuck yeah, 83, 100, 150 times, he'll talk. Shit, he'll tell you how much he's fucked his sister by the time you're done with him. Then put him in solitary, toss his Bible in the john when he pisses you off, slap him around some more.
There's more. Go check it out.