Monday, November 28, 2011

I Feel Better About My Job

I think most of us know, for all the ups and downs, there are worse job than ours.  (Heck there are TV shows about it.)  But, in case you needed a reminder why you are not a firefighter (in addition to that whole firefighter risk - and PS. if you are a firefighter, go you!) the London fire brigade has compiled a year's worth of emergency calls include the time ten firefighters had to assist in the removal of a penis ring.  Another man became stuck in a child's toy car (I really want to know if the kid was at home or if this was a chance to regress or what). 
Now their point here was to ask the public to consider that there might be better things that firefighters could be doing with their time (like say, fighting fires) so if people could work on not needing such assistance they would appreciate it. 
And, to end on a happy note, I shall link to firefighters rescuing a kitten trapped in a pipe.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Straight Turkey

It is my fondest wish to get to the age where when you say certain things it is cute.  (This, as far as I can tell, runs from about 3-6, and then pauses til about seventy).  So, I adore Margaret and Helen, two real life grandmas whose grandkids find them hilarious, so started a blog for them.  They are not shy, not about family or politics, so it's not for everyone, but I adore them.  And in particular, the annual Thanksgiving letter which has been posted. Small sample:
"We lost your Grandpa this year and suddenly everyone wants to be together for the holidays.   Well isn't that just the shit.   I hope you all learned your lesson.  Treasure your family while they are still here – not after they are gone.  Life is a series of lessons.  Pay attention.

Now about Thanksgiving… Your Aunt Trudy thinks that just because Thanksgiving dinner is at her house this year, I am not in charge.  Well bless her heart.
The rest is here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Just the Headline

Note: Contains reference to a racist sports team name.

I spotted this DCist headline and paused.  I wanted to know the rest of the story, but I also wanted to take time to ponder the possibilities. 
The headline in question: "In Which Marion Barry Compares The Redskins To Christ".  Now the possibilities that occurred to me look something like this:
-Both dead but many are hoping for a comeback.
-Revered by some, not so much others.
-You either get it or you don't.
-Unfairly treated by those they were supposed to be able to trust.  (In the case of the team, I may possibly be referring to an owner.)
-People pay a lot of attention to them part of the year, and ignore them the rest.
-Hoping for long term rewards for support. 
-Fandom can be expensive and heart-wrenching.
And then I clicked.  Not sure if it's good or terribly scary, that I am able to channel Marion Barry like that.  I'm going to call it years of study and move on. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Long Ago on Thanksgiving

My high school chorus participated in America Sings for several years. The basic idea was for various choral groups to join together and raise money for charity.  As part of this we had the opportunity to sing in some cool places. One of them was the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  (You know, back when there were Macy's.) So, that year the folks from my chorus who had gotten permission to spend turkey day away from their family headed up to New York.  We rehearsed with the other groups in a hotel conference room.  We discovered flesh tone sparkly lycra tights at a drug store which was a huge coup, because our outfits for this were strictly regulated. 
The guys had to wear white pants, white turtleneck, red sweatshirt (with America Sings logo) and a Santa hat. Us girls got to wear white skirt, white turtleneck, red sweatshirt (with logo) and a Santa hat.  Same, same, right?  No.  The guys were allowed to wear any white pair of pants.  Corduroys, cargo, chinos.  Plus, due to the nature of pants, they could put long underwear or all manner of layers underneath, as long as it didn't show.  The girls were issued a shiny polyester circle skirt (it did twirl really well) that was just sheer enough to display anything not flesh toned that might be beneath it.  So, sure, I had an extra layer for under the turtleneck, but my bottom half was still going to be less covered. So the lycra stocking were excellent, and I layered a pair of pantyhose over the top. 
During rehearsals we were split into two groups.  One group was going to dance on or about the float that ran the length of the parade.  The rest of us would hang out (outside, did I mention it was a particularly chilly Thanksgiving) and join the group for the Herald Square dance number.  For part of our Herald Square number we were being joined by Clifton Davis (who Wikipedia tells me I share a birthday with, man, we could have bonded over that) who was at the time starring in "Amen".  So, we teens lined up in rows with a path down the center and Clifton sang and danced his way down the middle stopping in little clusters that magically appeared (or were carefully rehearsed).  So, the nice girl next to me in line and I got selected to be the end points of one of these clusters, to lean forward and smile and keep singing along.  Then in the second day of rehearsal they changed the location of the clusters.  But halfway through the day, they hated that and moved it back to us.  Yay, our fifteen seconds of fame. 
I did not tell my family this little tidbit, they had planned their gathering for the year around the parade, so were going to be watching together. So, the day dawned and those of us who were non-floaters, waited on a side street with other folks.  It was cold.  We were up ridiculously early, I guess in case the previous 22 acts all didn't show up, and we needed to go on early.  (Or because it was easier for us all to be there at the start.  I suppose that's possible.) 
Our turn came and we headed out on the square and the music began.  And when the time came for my group for form our magic cluster, the girl on the other side of me shoved me out of the way so that she could stand next to Clifton Davis.  (My aunt assures me that the shoving made it on TV.)  So, my family did catch a few glimpses of me, including the time that girl shoved me out of the way.  And all in all, it was a fun time.  And I still remember that song.  (It was a Thanksgiving-ified version of "On a Wonderful Day Like Today" with a little Christmas rap thrown in.)  But I have new respect for the performers and how cold some of their outfits must be. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

I Know He's Not Dead, But

I worked at a job for several years in my twenties that was about fifteen minutes away, and I was expected at 9:30.  So, I got up, watched morning TV, including the first fifteen minutes of "Regis and Kathie Lee" and then went to work.  I quit that job and the next job I got started earlier, but on days off, I watched it.  And when my job changed to telecommuting, I watched it every morning.  (I experimented with watching TV all day, but strangely found I was less productive.) But the morning TV worked and provided some noise of other people that you miss when telecommuting.  On balance, I've probably missed more episodes than I've seen, but it's been a staple that I was glad to know was there.  Certainly record setting shows don't come along very often, and I know the show will continue on, as will Mr. Philbin (who keeps saying he's not retiring, he's moving on). 
But thanks very much for helping me wake up each morning. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Where We Get Serious

I don't want to spend too much time on the whole Penn State thing, because it's being covered extensively, because it's still unfolding, and because it's depressing.  But as someone who works with teen children, and in that role has been through quite a few sessions on appropriate behavior there are a few things I feel compelled to say. 
1.  Much like serial killers don't often look insane, otherwise we could just keep a better eye on the crazy looking folks, pedophiles often don't exude a creepy vibe, they seem really cool and awesome (you know, until they don't.)  There's a post over on ALOTT5MA about the "cool" teacher at another school. 
2. Also, pedophiles don't usually abuse all kids.  Experienced pedophiles will often develop a sense for kids who are more likely to tell and avoid them. 
3. It is absolutely, positively never too late to tell on someone who has abused you.  It may be too late for the police to collect evidence, but it is important information for the police, and that persons employers to have so they can do their best to make sure no further abuse occurs. 
4.  Reporting abuse to your boss is a great first step.  However, if you actually witnessed abuse, you should also go to the police.  If your boss tells you they will notify the police and the police don't come talk to you, call the police yourself. 
5. Also, it would be nice if you intervened on said abuse when it is occurring in your presence, but I will allow that shock or disbelief might have thrown you a bit. 
6. Saying hey there, could you just not bring the kids your abusing here is not an acceptable answer.  (Just in case you weren't sure.) 
7.  There are tons of resources if you have been abused or exploited or think you may have witnessed inappropriate behavior.  RAINN has a list by state, in addition to their own resources. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

How Fast?

I have heard tales of the inaccuracies of speed cameras, including the story of the tree that was clocked going 80. But imagine you were on your bicycle. Now certainly, bicycles making use of the street are bound by the traffic laws (all of them, people) but one generally imagines without the aid of serious downhill momentum, speed is not something your average cyclist has to worry to much about exceeding.
So, now imagine your town has installed speed cameras. People grumbled, as they do. People complained that they were sure they had not been going that fast, as they do. Now imagine the speed camera clocked a cyclist going 57. (Cheverly has stopped the program now. As the article helpfully points out, that speed is over the current land speed record for cycling on a flat surface.)

h/t to DCist for the link

Monday, November 07, 2011

7 Things: Writers Google

Being a writer means googling weird things sometimes. Here's a small sample. (Not all for the same story.)
1. CPR.  I knew they had changed it, but couldn't quite remember how.  Hilariously, the Wikipedia entry includes the warning that while you can perform it on animals, you should probably only do it on unconscious animals lest they bite you.  (It's a good tip.)
2. Effects of date rape drugs.  (This one I was very careful in my phrasing.  My character was a victim not a criminal.)
3. Honor council proceedings.
4. College chemistry syllabus. 
5. Hiking tips for Hawaii.
6. Mythology. 
7. Famous people born in DC.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Fifty Years

In third grade my school's handbook was adorned with the school's "It's Academic" team, who had been triumphant winners that year.  School legend had it that someone had said that a team from a girls school could never win, so it was particularly sweet, even if my closest contact with those seniors and juniors was that picture. 
On entering high school, we often gathered to head to the local NBC station (which, fortunately for me, was fairly close to my house) to attend tapings and cheer for the team.  One year a member of our team was dating a member of a rival school's team, upping the drama quotient.  Attending a taping was a strange thing, the set looks a little shabbier in person.  It seems impossible that it hasn't been touched up over the years, and yet in person, it looks like maybe it hasn't. (I'm sure it has, at some point.) 
The host, Mac McGarry looks exactly like he does on TV.  It's a little eerie.
But it is a neat thing, that as this reflection on "It's Academic" points out, that there is this long running show where cheerleaders, dance teams and marching bands, along with other fellow students and teachers and parents come out to cheer for smart kids.  (I know other areas have their versions of such a thing, I'm simply pleased that there is one here.)
The show has been running since 1961, and Mac McGarry has been the host all this time.  However, he has now retired due to health reasons.  So, thanks, Mr. McGarry for fifty years of hosting.  You will be missed. 

h/t to DCist for the link.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

7 Things, the Linkety Link Edition

In honor of day 2 of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I present seven weird, strange or unusual stories.  In case you are either casting about for ideas, or tired of reading about people casting about for ideas. 
1. A man attempts to fake his own death to try and avoid his probation hearing.   (He will now be serving time for falsifying a distress signal.)
2. A student runs a banned book library from her locker.
3. A woman loses a day after having sex.  Not due to fatigue, but because she experiences amnesia, unable to remember the twenty four hours following orgasm.
4. Okay, this one is Wikipedia, not a story, but I am fascinated to discover that there is a term for those folks on the street trying to get you to give money for their charity - chuggers, a combo of charity and muggers.  (I had been calling them clipboard people, but this is way more fun.)
5. A man spends two and a half hours on DC public transit (no, that's not the amazing part) and arrives at church where folks notice that he has been shot
6. Five things people have used to try and smuggle drugs through the airport.  Including legwarmers.
7. What do you wear to interview a student who ran onto the football field during a game in a banana suit?  Apparently a grape outfit