Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Personally, after 3 days of constant media attention I'm ready for the Swine Flu to become a "regular kid" so to speak. In fact I was so desperate for a non-Swine flu related news article yesterday that I resorted to reading about how Hugh Hefner is pining away for his one true love. A part of me wonders how we would all be reacting were it not for the media and its ability to over dramaticize [which is even more dramatic than 'over dramatize'] everything. So instead of getting swept away in the frenzy, I've decided to educate myself with the facts - just the facts - and then I'll determine whether or not I'm going to order a designer face mask.
Fact: Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus. Basically pigs get the flu just like people do.
Fact: There are multiple strains of the swine flu virus. Just as there are multiple strains of human influenza.
Fact: Swine can contract human flu from people. Humans can contract swine flu from swine. Swine can contract avian flu from birds. But only when they fly. (Ba duh dum!)
Fact: The swine flu virus does not normally infect humans. In the situations when it does occur though, the virus can be transmitted person-to-person just as our good friend, the human flu, is transmitted.
Fact: Sudden oinking is not a symptom of swine flu. That's a symptom of weirdness.
Fact: Symptoms of swine flu in people are very similar to the symptoms of human flu - fever, cough, sore throat, aches, chills, etc. Some folks have needed Pepto as well though when suffering from swine flu. Ugh. Because of the similar symptoms, this leads me to wonder about how many people have been walking around with it [and are recovering from it] thinking that it was just the regular old flu. I'm willing to wager that there are many, but now that we've got a new name and know that it originates from dirty, stinky pigs everybody is suddenly on high alert. We don't seem to mind those dirty, stinky pigs so badly though when we're eating our breakfast specials at the local IHOP.
Fact: Humans cannot contract swine flu from eating pork. So please enjoy your breakfast special at the local IHOP this weekend without reservation. Unless of course you're worried about high cholesterol, clogged arteries, and heart disease.
Fact: 36,000 people die in the United States each year from the flu. Some flu seasons have been more severe than others. We just had a pretty severe one a couple of years back.
Fact: Common sense goes a long way in terms of prevention. Remember all of those basic things we learned about hygiene back when we were learning how to read and properly feed ourselves with a fork? Do them. In the event that you were raised in a barn and shared a sty with the pigs, please look here for a quick 10 step lesson.
Fact: The word "Pandemic" can result in pandemonium if we're not careful. Unsure of what pandemic means? I was too. Until I read this.
Fact: Panicking is of no benefit to anyone. In fact, I believe that 300,000 pigs are losing their lives today because of panic.
So those are the facts that I've gathered. Sure, it's a little disconcerting when it's all you see on the news and read about in the headlines. When it's so prevalent everywhere you look, people begin to experience psychosomatic symptoms [for you non-psychology majors out there that means "it's all in your head"] themselves. Let's try not to do that folks because when you rush off to the doctor [prematurely] the insurance companies win. Or something like that.
Why are we so worried about this? Because it's running rampant in Mexico and coming this way. Even though the disparities are great which is really quite sad, we have to remember the differences between our quality of life and the quality of life down there. It's new. We live in a society of instant gratification and we like to fix things. So when we can't fix something quickly (i.e., developing a vaccine against it) we don't react well.
If you are so inclined to learn more, I would recommend sticking with pretty reliable and non-biased sources. Like the CDC, for example. This website gives you current data and information about what states cases have been confirmed in and all of that jazz.
Please remember as you are reading this that I am by no means a medical professional. This fact is true despite the countless hours I have sat in front of the television watching General Hospital, House, and Grey's Anatomy. However I do live in a town that emphasizes the importance of Pandemic Flu readiness. Everywhere. You. Go.
This has been a public service announcement by Just Me...HP.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Our first stop upon arriving in Nashville was the "Health and Fitness Expo" at the Convention Center. Otherwise known as "the place I have to go to pick up my number and race shirt". It was a zoo. So much so that after driving around the parking deck for no less than 25 minutes I stooped to standing in a parking space until Katie could drive to it and park the car. Has anyone ever been to a big expo like this? They are quite interesting. You've got the people there who are obviously runners. It's what they enjoy. They look the part and they are good at it. Then you've got those people there who are trying very hard to look like the aforementioned group. They are there all decked out in their best running outfit which is a little confusing to me since I've never known of any actual running to occur at an expo. Good thing because I would have been absolutely unprepared on Friday had that been the case considering I was in my khaki skirt and flip flops. Which brings me to the people like me. I fall into the group of "it's something to do and it keeps me healthy but I'll never start in Corral #3 and I'm ok with that." However it is at events such as this that if ever I'm in doubt of my own athletic abilities, I simply look around and take comfort in the fact that there is no way that I will finish last. Because surely I will finish before all the people carrying their numbers and shirts walking outside with cigarette in hand ready to light up as soon as they cross the threshold. No kidding. I always really appreciate it too when there are spectators smoking on the sidelines all along the course because there is nothing like a little secondhand smoke inhalation to give me just the boost I need to keep running. But I'll save my public service announcement for another day.
After the expo, Katie and I walked around town a little bit while we waited for our college pal, KP, to finish up with work for the day. It's been years since I've seen her and I was super excited to be able to meet for dinner and catch up. Not only is she funny and oh so fun, she's kind of a big deal in Nashville meaning she knows people so it was fun to hear about famous Nashvillains from a firsthand perspective. After what seemed like just a short time of visiting, we realized it was almost 10:30 which really felt like 11:30 for us Georgia girls. Not good news when you've got to be up and ready to run before the rooster even enters the REM stage of sleep. After saying our goodbyes, Katie and I headed towards the hotel where upon our arrival we discovered that this was happening... As luck would have it, the 8th Annual Tattoo and Horrors Festival was taking place in the same hotel we were staying at. Now I'll be honest - this discovery would have been much less frightening in the daylight hours. We drove up and there were motorcycles everywhere, and I have never in my life seen so much ink. I think the quantity present would put a Bic factory to shame. Talk about an interesting subculture of folks to observe. Too bad I'm not a sociologist. I think that the word "horrors" is used very loosely here. It seemed to be a family affair for some as we saw parents walking in with their children on Saturday afternoon. It appears that someone even brought an infant to the festivities.I hope that their insurance plan includes therapy because I'm afraid the poor kid is going to need it after looking at a skeleton bobblehead for the first 12 months of her life. Enough of the tattoo talk. Let's move on to the purpose of this little trip to Nashville anyway: the Country Music Half-Marathon. Here is Katie at Centennial Park pre-race...By the time we made it here, it had already been a long morning and this was taken at approximately 6:40 a.m. [Who knew that the sun rose so early in Tennessee?] And here's me just as I was reminiscing about the "Crayon Parthenon" that I constructed for my project in Art History during college...
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Even though I'm all about it, I fear that my newly discovered fitness fun may result in a bit of a problem for my immediate future. This is because my feet are a little sore from Zumba overkill. It turns out that I'm really going to need these feet to take a 13.1 mile stroll through Nashville on Saturday morning. Back in December at Mag's 30th when Katie and I decided to celebrate [read: remain in denial over] our shared 30th birthday by running the Country Music Half-Marathon in April it seemed like the best idea I've ever had. Now I blame the sugar from the cake and ice cream for impairing my ability to make a wise decision. I should have considered the fact that I would choose to stay at home and watch reruns of Two and a Half Men instead of running during those long winter months. But really it's not going to be about how quickly I complete my paid walking tour of Nashville where I'm given water and Cytomax [which sounds like Ecto-cooler's 3rd cousin if you ask me] all along the way. It's about the fun that I'm about to have with one of my favorite friends. In a fun town. With other fun people we know. And all the fun famous people we're bound to run into along the way.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
And even now 10 years later it's still a nice feeling. On Sunday night, Suz called to chat on her way into Athens as Mike was out of town and Grandma's boxes needed to be unpacked in her new house. Of course I tried to convince her to come over then, but there was a baby to put to bed and it would have been really late by the time she finally made it over from her parents' house. ["Really late" for 30 year olds="early" for 20 year olds] But last night after she put Caroline to bed, she did come over for a visit and what fun we had. Well, she probably would have had more fun had my dog also been sleeping peacefully like her baby was. It was a great chance for us to catch up and laugh and discuss important matters like the pronunciation of my World Vision baby's name, what fitness classes she was going to take at the Y, and the price of tea in china. At one point I thought to myself, "gee, all that's missing is the cookie dough and this would be just like old times." And then what happened next is what happens only when you have been friends with someone long enough that they are essentially family. Suzanna reached into her bag and said "How much would you make fun of me if I pulled out my emergency Cadbury Egg and ate it?" Partially hydrogenated oil. Check. After falling apart into a fit of giggles and making note of exactly what she had said in her question for future blogging purposes, I said "none at all" as I pulled out a fruit roll up from the cabinet. High fructose corn syrup. Check check.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Tonight I was all set to discuss what is seemingly the downfall of country music. Yesterday as I was restoring order and balance to my apartment, closet, and email inbox, I had the CMT Top 20 countdown on as background noise. [Because otherwise I would have gotten sucked into the vortex that is SoapNet's back-to-back episodes of 90210.] I'm a sucker for a countdown show though, and I especially love it that the VH1 weekly countdown goes off just as the CMT countdown is coming on because nothing screams an exciting Saturday morning of having nowhere to go and nothing to do like 4.5 hours of music videos does. So a few minutes into the show I heard an old familiar voice that belongs to none other than the pride of Tennessee...Dolly Parton. I'm here to report that she has the #17 song on the video charts this week with her new song, Backwoods Barbie. I wish that I was making this stuff up. [For further entertainment, please google search the lyrics of this song.] Quite possibly the only people in this world who should be excited that Dolly Parton is belting out chart toppers are the members of Foreigner. A source close to the Foreigner camp has informed me that the jukebox heroes are coming out with a new album [Should I stop referring to them as albums now that we have entered the year 2009? Probably.] and if Dolly is still making it, then these guys are guaranteed a number 1 spot on the VH1 countdown in my opinion. Provided they make a video, that is. I wish that I could say that Backwoods Barbie was the darkest spot in the entire show, but unfortunately it was not. I believe that the low point was Trace Adkins' inspiring song: Marry for Money. The upside would be if Trace did take his own advice then perhaps his new sugar momma would foot the bill for him to get a hair cut. The bright spots in the midst of Darius Rucker, formerly known as Hootie, twanging sad country songs and Taylor Swift belting out songs containing subject matter that I think she is far too young to be singing about which is concerning since she writes her songs based on "life experience" were Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban, and Carrie Underwood. Lady Antebellum is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. I love their new song, I Run to You so much. Maybe I'll see them in Nashville this coming weekend. Maybe that will be the song that is playing when the EMTs come running towards me with the defibrillator.
At the beginning of this nonsensical ramble, I indicated that I set out originally to discuss the day that country music almost died. But then I realized that the Miss USA pageant was on TV. Live from the fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. Now when I was in Vegas earlier this year, the Miss America pageant was in town [hence the reason I was there in the first place] so at first I was a little confused and thought that it was being shown again for some reason. Then I remembered that they are two very different pageants and Miss USA is in fact the least scholarly of the "scholarship competitions" as some like to refer to them as. One question regarding the whole event that is really on my mind is what qualifies Kenan Thompson to be a judge for such a competition? Please think on that and get back to me with your answer. Speaking of answers, I'm pretty sure that the reason why Miss California did not win the whole deal is because she answered Perez Hilton's question on same-sex marriage in a politically incorrect manner. As in she said that she believes marriage should be between a man and a woman. Good job, Miss Cali. Please forgive me for wondering about the authenticity of your very full smile. The good news is she is ready and willing to serve in the event that Miss NC is not able to fulfill her duties as Miss USA. I wonder what would prevent her from fulfilling her duties? Breaking her ankle? It would definitely prevent her from walking with grace and poise across the stage in the upcoming Miss Universe pageant. Oh speaking of walking across the stage, poor Miss West Virginia was uncomfortable walking out there in her swimsuit and high heels. She was probably thinking the same thing I would be "All the old ladies and deacons from church are watching this right now with my grandparents." I really enjoyed getting the little information on the side of the screen as the contestants were walking that shared fun facts with us like where they were in college at, interests, hobbies, height, hometown, etc. My favorite interests included: BAKING CUPCAKES and online shopping. I'm pretty sure none of those girls have eaten a cupcake since their 8th birthday party so Miss Tennessee should at least get the humanitarian award for putting herself through the torture of baking such delectable sweets while never allowing the first drop of buttercream icing to reach her taste buds. Speaking of online shopping, I think there's a sale at Pottery Barn.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
While Emily and I share similar views about many things...music, TV shows, politics, books, people, etc., we have different interests as well. And therein lies my problem with creating a list of blogs that she should be following. So what I'm going to do is share with you all some of my favorite blogs along with why I love them and why I think that Emily would love them. Note: I don't know these people from Adam's house cat other than the fact that I stumbled across their blogs one day because they were linked to one of my friends' blog or through some crazy succession of blog hopping from link to link. At first I thought that it was weird to read blogs of people that I don't know, but then I realized that everybody was doing it so it must be ok. [It's what I told my mom back in high school when I followed a group of kids off of a bridge too.] Without further ado...
Big Mama. I love this blog because Big Mama herself is so funny. I laugh and laugh some more in most of her posts. We share the same humor which means that she is equally as sophisticated as I am. Speaking of sophisticated, she offers free fashion advice every Friday that is useful. I recently gave my own friends a tutorial on scarf tying based on what I learned from her blog. Plus quite often she'll share some stories that make me think and encourages me. In addition, I believe that Emily will enjoy this blog because she's a die hard football fan, loves Friday Night Lights, and takes an interest in politics. Or something like that. [Dear Big Mama - if for some reason you've arrived here in order to find out who the freak is that has linked multiple of your blog postings to this blog, your friend Annie can vouch for me that I'm not really a freak at all.] Speaking of Annie...
Annie Blogs. Well, I knew that this blog was great the first time that I read it. I could relate to her in a sense because she had up and left all that was familiar for a new city and so had I. Except she was there because that is where God led her and I went begrudgingly to Athens because I just knew that I had to get the heck out of Dahlonega and it was my only choice. And she's going to be a famous author one day and well...I'm not. But that's ok because I begin far too many of my sentences with conjunctions and end far too many with prepositions. I would be an editor's worst nightmare. And we grew up in neighboring counties so that is automatic justification to be Facebook friends...which we are. One reason that Emily is going to like this blog because she makes this soup.
David Molnar Photography. I discovered this blog after a girl who I went to college with had the link to her brother-in-law's wedding pictures on her blog. It just so happens that this was the photographer. The thing that I noticed in the pictures is that the photographer has the ability to capture the reverence of a wedding ceremony and all that encompasses the entire day from the bride getting ready to the toss of the garter at the reception without the pictures being "typical wedding pictures". The reason why Emily would enjoy this blog is because she loves weddings and good scenery [they travel all over to shoot weddings] and you find both here. [Dear David Molnar Photography - I might need a discount one day. Please remember this endorsement when I call you because like 3 people read my blog on a daily basis so you will get all sorts of business as a result of this mention of your company. Thanks.]
My Charming Kids. Ok, the name of this blog alone will probably prevent Emily from ever reading it, but I still do [see prior reference about our differences]. Granted, the thought of having 4 small children so close in age like MckMama does kind of makes me hyperventilate but the reason why I read this blog is because her youngest baby boy is very, very sick. In a heartbreaking sort of way because someone must be devoted to this baby's care at all times. Baby Stellan and MckMama are now in Boston while the rest the family remains in the Midwest. The whole story is an absolute miracle in the making and MckMama is a gifted writer so this blog has been read by millions over the past few weeks, and so many prayers are being prayed for this family. But what it also reminds me of is that there are so many more little babies and kiddos out there who are sick and in need of our prayers also. One of the reasons why Emily will like this blog I think is because of the photo gallery which is one of my favorite parts too. Stellan [well, really his name] has been all over the world and even in the hands of a former president and he's not even a year old.
BooMama. She's from the South. She's sassy. And she loves The Office. I seriously look forward to her recaps from The Office and American Idol every week. Incidentally Emily loves both The Office and American Idol too so perhaps she will find some enjoyment in said show reviews.
Obviously I enjoy reading life blogs more than other types of blogs. Yes, there are multiple classifications and types of blogs out there to be read. Like cooking blogs. Traveling blogs. Sports blogs. Political blogs. Blah Blah Blagh. What I find to be quite fascinating about the blogs that I regularly read is that I have learned something valuable from each one of them while being entertained in the process. It's like watching public television. But much better.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
I prefer the pirates who live in Never, Neverland and the Caribbean. The whole matter of piracy in the Gulf of Aden has always been a little intriguing to me since I first learned about it a few months ago. Of course it became a little more personal when a US ship was seized last week and all of the networks were abuzz about it. How incredible is Richard Phillips? [That's the captain of the ship who allowed the pirates to take him in order to spare his crew for those of you who prefer to remain detached from world affairs.] I see a made for TV movie in his future.
Bo knows the Oval Office. We are in a recession. Wars are being fought. Natural disasters abound. And there are people debating whether or not the new First Dog is truly a "rescue"? Come on people, if the Commander-in-Chief is going to break a campaign promise I prefer that it's this one. They are a family. The little girls just want a dog. Let Ted Kennedy pick it out for them in peace.
Since when does Washington control Detroit? [I never claimed to be reporting the most current news.] I'm sure there are all sorts of sides to this story that I'm far too tired to debate, but if Wagoner really was asked to resign then I think this is why I was a little hesitant about this whole big bail-out rescue business in the first place. I've heard of lands that operate in a similar manner.
A wolf in sheep's clothing. This story absolutely breaks my heart. I will never in my life understand how someone could do something so terrible and unthinkable to a child. But I don't think that we are meant to understand these kinds of acts.
"I knew he was getting serious when he asked to see my high school yearbooks." Really? What about the poor kids who had train tracks all over their pearly whites and were self-conscious of it so they didn't smile? Does this automatically put them at a disadvantage for happily ever after? One would think that their chances would actually be greater given the eventual straight teeth and all. What will those crazy social psychologists think of next?
I just thought that I was a grand winner.
You stay classy, blogosphere.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Six Hours. That's the number of hours I worked on Friday. In that period of time I managed to let some kids into college, talk to at least a dozen parents on the phone, answer some emails, catch up on the status of the ship captain out in the Indian Ocean, and properly hydrate for the 90 minute Zumbathon that was to take place later that afternoon at the gym.
Six Hours. That's the number of hours that Jesus spent on the cross. Hum. I deliberately used "spent" instead of "hung" in my previous sentence because initially I thought that it sounded too harsh for the blogosphere. But you know, it was harsh. And it was real.
It's so easy to become somewhat detached from the whole thing. It was years ago. On another continent. In another culture. And it's something that we now just read about in a big book with flimsy pages. Yet this year I've really been thinking about that specific day in which Jesus gave his own life so that I would one day live forever. He had a mama who loved and raised him. And friends who could carry on a conversation with him in the same manner that you and I converse with our friends. On the day that he died, they had to go through the pain of losing him. Just like you and I grieve when we lose someone we love. And you know, it's really easy for me to think "but look at how it turned out...it's what was supposed to happen...surely, they were ok with it...certainly, they didn't feel the pain like we feel pain when tragedy strikes." But do you think that it was really all that "good" for them on that Friday? I don't. On that 3rd day though...that's when things started to get a little better even then some of his disciples still doubted at first. Which leads me to wonder when Good Friday became good.
I think that we all have similar experiences. Something terrible happens. It is not good. We cannot see how it will ever be good. But then in time, it is and we begin to see it. And maybe we even gain a little bit of understanding and through that we are comforted. I love the story of Easter. I love that the human side of Jesus emerges in this story because for me it's really easy to think of him as some invincible being who never struggled with anything. But when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, he didn't want to die. Can you much blame him? He had done nothing wrong. Yet he surrendered to God's will. And though he suffered, he did it for the good that was to come from it. And you know what...It was good. It is good. It will be good.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
A couple of weeks ago, the series at church that just ended today was announced. As soon as I saw the title, I immediately got "church anxiety". You know...like I knew that I had to go and listen, but I was pretty sure I wouldn't really like what I was going to hear. The message series is entitled Boulevard of Broken Dreams and since Andy Stanley is a much better speaker about these kinds of things than I am [there's just something about divine inspiration], I would highly encourage you to click on the hyperlink and check it out for yourself.
Basically it is about what we, as believers, do when our dreams don't come true. How do we respond to that? Personally, I don't respond very well. Neither did David once upon a time. [And by David I mean King David. You know the one...He killed a giant with a stone and a slingshot, became the King of Israel, had an encounter with Bathsheba, had some misbehaved and misguided children.] Last week's message though was not about the stories that I am most familiar with in which David is the star. It was about when pre-King David was fleeing King Saul's army because he wanted David dead. What would you do if it had been prophesied that you would one day become King of Israel which at the time seemed like a complete long shot, but then over time things fall into place for it to actually happen and all of the sudden the current king wants you out? Essentially David took control of his own circumstances which only made things much much worse. I'm notorious for doing the very same thing myself. This week, the scriptural basis of the message was centered around Absalom's (David's son) attempt to overthrow him and become the next King of Israel. David's response was very interesting. Almost the exact opposite of how one might expect a powerful King to react even. Yet it's the very way that God wants us to react today when things don't go our way.
And this is where I'm having problem maintaining a balance of sort. All too often my faith in God is wrapped around my own hopes and dreams. If things are going my way, then God is good and it's easy to keep that faith. Yet when things do not go my way, my faith plummets. The reality is, nowhere do we receive any guarantee that all of our dreams will come true. Not even if Pedro is elected president. It's hard for me to come to terms with the fact that I could possibly sign my checks the way that I do right now until I'm 83. I might not ever understand the pain and joy of motherhood. But it's true. However it's impossible for me to lose that hope that one day I will. See the quandary that I'm caught up in? It isn't easy to maintain that balance between the free will that God has given us and abiding by God's will for our lives. I hope to be able to do it one day.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Yes, I realize that there is enough bone in my floor to reconstruct some sort of large animal. Perhaps a T-Rex even. What you don't see is the part of the floor to my right and left and behind me. More bone. More plastic bag debris. More tennis balls. More red blanket fragments. More plastic bottles. And today, I did not have the wherewithal to even try to maintain order. In fact it was all I could do to hide the Benadryl tablets in the peanut butter well enough so that Cash would never even now that I was slipping a little sleepy time into his evening snack. That was 2 hours ago. Too bad the picture doesn't show him running in circles. Even now. As I type.