poisonwood's Diaryland Diary

Date: Jan. 12, 2008 . Time: 12:04 p.m.

moon and Mars anyone Entry:

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moon and Mars anyone

Sarah posted a link to Oba*ma's vision for space. What is the conspicuously absent is discussion of human expeditions to the Moon or Mars. The word "Moon" doesn't appear anywhere, and "Mars" only appears under "unmanned" missions.

12:04 p.m. - Jan. 12, 2008

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secret vote

It does not surprise me at all that Clinton did better in a closed-door election than she did in Iowa, especially with women voters. I suspect there are a lot of women who were borderline and might decide not to vote for Hillary if their husbands are standing beside them.

11:09 p.m. - Jan. 08, 2008

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working mothers

One person's opinion. Apparently there is a lot more female-bashing vitriol on the net (by a factor of 3 or so) than racist bashing of Obama. I don't frequent areas where either shows up. In fact, I have been pleasantly surprised to hear no racist comments about Obama and no overtly sexist comments about Hill*ary. Anyway, I always imagined this country to be more racist than sexist simply because most men are married, and a lot of prejudice stems from not understanding or associating with the subject of the prejudice. It seems like it must be hard for most prejudiced men to avoid women, whereas it would be relatively trivial for many people to have little or no contact with Black people, and no real relationships.

Nevertheless, while I don't bring up politics around most people, I am even more careful NEVER to bring up Hillary in front of certain conservatives (mostly the family type that don't worry about being PC) because I know they will say things I find offensive - most of which can be indirectly traced back to her gender.

I was a little surprised at Christ*mas to find that both of my parents seem to trace most of the country's problems to lack of stay-at-home parents, which really means working mothers. Sometimes, keeping quiet is the best thing.

8:50 a.m. - Jan. 08, 2008

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resolutions and review

I've gone through my old Diary*land entries, and if I made New Year's Resolutions last year, I obviously didn't write them down here.

I only have a few this year.

Running

1.) Run half marathon and beat my previous time (1:51)
2.) Break 21:30 in the 5K
3.) Run at least 20 miles every month

Food

4.) No more soda, except on planes or if socially necessary
5.) Keep fast food to bare minimum (no more than 2x per month?)
6.) Cut down on processed foods and eat more healthy stuff

Life

7.) Decide if I want to stay where I am and take action if not! Take concrete action to consider alternatives to aerospace.
8.) Take a real vacation
9.) Stop biting my nails

Now for my reviews . . . the best books I read this year, in no particular order, were:

1.) The Omnivore's Dilemma
2.) Three Cups of Tea
3.) Suite Francaise
4.) Atonement

The best movies I saw this year, in no particular order:

1.) The Blood Diamond
2.) The Bourne Ultimatum
3.) Children of Men

Not much happened this year. Last year, I thought not much happened, but I bought a house and we had a vehicle first flight. This year, as I kept saying when people asked what I was up to, I just kept "plugging along." I guess the real question is what kind of milestones I want to have in the next year. A new job or changes in my current job? Changes in my relationship? A marathon? I guess this is a good time to think about it.

4:23 p.m. - Jan. 05, 2008

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caucus

I was waiting on the edge of my seat for the Iowa results. I was disappointed that Hill*ary did not win; ever since I read her autobiography, I've been a big supporter of hers. She and Obama say many of the same things, but she's made a few less frightening comments than he has. That is likely due to political experience rather than different beliefs. He may be less divisive than she. I, of course, would love to see a woman president.

Huck*abee scares me. A lot. However, 60% of the Repu*blicans who voted in the Iowa caucus apparently identified themselves as evangelical Christ*ians. I don't think that describes the country at large - though it likely does describe S. Carolina - so we shall see how that goes. If I were Repub*lican, I would vote for Romney.

The major feeling I was left with yesterday evening when 90% of the returns were in and I headed out for my run was, why do these frikking Iowans get to have so much influence on who our next president is? They do not represent me! For instance, in all the pictures of Iowans caucusing, I saw nary a young woman. They underrepresent all of "my" categories - urbanites, 20-something professionals, young women, etc. I understand the logic of giving candidates two smaller states to campaign in, but it really drives me crazy.

8:50 a.m. - Jan. 04, 2008

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mugs

I am not the most organized person in the world, and I found this article rather interesting. In particulary, "Ms. Johnson explains that some people look at a shelf stacked with coffee mugs and see only mugs. But people with serious disorganization problems might see each one as a unique item a souvenir from Yellowstone or a treasured gift from Grandma." I definitely would see the mugs as unique items. Hmmm. I thought everyone was like that.

8:15 a.m. - Jan. 03, 2008

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always an adventure

I think Roa*noke Airport should get a new slogan: "Flying Through Roa*noke: Always an Adventure! (TM)." On the way home, all indications were go. Weather in Roa*noke: Good. Weather in DC: Good. Weather in Seattle: Good. Flight status on the internet: On time.

Then, we got to the airport and discovered our plane was coming in from Chic*ago and was, of course, late. (I can never seem to escape Chic*ago.) The lady working at the counter informed us that if we didn't go out today, the earliest we could get out was the following evening (through Philly). In addition, if we went to IAD and tried to make our connection and missed it, there were no flights today OR tomorrow. B just about had a meltdown. I was more calm, having heard this type of thing many a time. Nevertheless, I was not pleased at the time. We discussed driving to DC (too long, we'd miss the flight) and looked at hotels in DC (the airline wouldn't help due to weather).

B got out his laptop and found that there were no less than 3 flights (2 with 2 connections) that left tomorrow morning and got to Seattle, all with seats. Laptop in hand, we returned to the counter. This time, we had a guy. We told him our situation again, and he started hemming. B was ready to go on the warpath before the guy told him he was trying to find us a flight leaving today. This guy was great and found us a flight on a different airline through Philly. We ended up getting in 5 hours later than planned, but no big deal. We were happy to get in the same day. Finally, we got home around 12:30 am only to find my gas had been stopped (due to some problem with the meter) and my house was 47 degrees with no hot water! Supposedly, it will be fixed today.

As I said, Always An Adventure.

9:23 a.m. - Jan. 02, 2008

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bhutto

I was shocked and horrified to hear about Bhutto today. [A friend] had told me some bad things about her regarding corruption which had always caused me to take her with a grain of salt. I had always been a little amazed at how positive the media coverage of her over here was. Nevertheless, assassination is just unbelievable, incredibly sad and I would bad news for the country and even for Musharraf, despite the fact she opposed him. It's unbelievable. Who are these people who do this? I suppose we may find out soon enough who was responsible for this particular incident - or maybe not.

4:00 p.m. - Dec. 27, 2007

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no space suits in size small

I always get mad because at road races, there are never enough T-shirts in Small and XSmall (something that strikes me as absurd since runners tend to be small - which is of course why they run out. XXLarge isn't much good to me.) However, this is really frikking ridiculous. Aerospace is such a boy's club.

3:26 p.m. - Dec. 27, 2007

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28th birthday

The joys of travelling to the 'Noke! This year was another adventure - one of the worst in recent memory. I was reading Eat, Pr*ay, Love until I became too nauseous to continue, and fantisizing about moving to It*aly, but my unhappiness dealing with my current predicament shut down those ideas.

Travel began with an uneventful red-eye from Sea*ttle to Dulles, in keeping with my policy of not flying through Chic*ago. I don't really sleep on planes, but that was OK, because I'd be in Roa*noke by 9:30 AM and could catch up on sleep then if desired. Somehow, I ended up in Eco*nomy plus, and the movie was a bit silly, but entertaining. We were a tad late, but I hustled and made it to my gate with just enough time to use the bathroom and stroll onto the Canad*air 100/200 and claim my seat in the front row.

The flight was choppy, very choppy. Nevertheless, it was also scheduled to be 35 minutes and choppy for 35 minutes I can definitely take. Nevertheless, I was relieved when the pilot announced we were beginning our final descent and would be on the ground in 15 minutes. 5 minutes later a heard the landing gear go down. The ride was becoming rougher and rougher. Finally, we dropped rather abruptly, and then started climbing, climbing, climbing. Time passed. Lots of time. For the entire flight, we had been in a virtual white-out, and I'd yet to see ground or sky; I had no idea where we were. But, they had said we were landing, had they not? Surely more than 15 minutes had passed, or maybe I was losing my mind. I couldn't tell whether we were going up or down, only that I was continuing to get shaken to bits, and I wanted it to stop. Maybe the landing gear didn't come down? Or maybe discomfort was affecting my ability to estimate the passage of time and we'd be on the ground shortly.

Finally, I saw the single flight attendant pick up the phone. A word on the flight attendant - she was the least professional I've had in recent memory. She let slip later that this was her first flight in years. Anyway, I saw her smile on the phone with the pilot, so I figured that landing gear was not the problem. A few minutes later she announced that we'd been diverted from Roa*noke to Knox*ville because the weather was too rough. It would be another 30 minute flight. Normally, this would be no big deal, but I was beginning to feel like I was going to puke. The woman beside me was clutching her barf bag. 20 minutes later or so, the pilot came on again and said we would land in the Tri Cities Air*port which was a better choice because the weather was better and it was closer to Roanoke (and closer to us). This sounded good to me. (The pilot failed to mention that we were also running low on fuel. Later I overheard him tell the co-pilot that weather in Knoxville was rough and based on fuel levels, if we'd tried for that airport and failed, we might have had a hard time reaching a different airport.)

Tri-cities sounded great to me. The United flight map, which I later found out was out of date, showed it fairly near Roa*noke; I estimated a 2 or 3 hour drive. I figured if worst came to worst, the 'rents could pick me up.

Still shaking and bumping along, the pilot announced the final descent. He also chose this time to announce that Uni*ted didn't service this airport anymore, so we would be landing in an airport without Uni*ted customer service or terminals, and that we wouldn't be able to get off the plane. It sounded bad, but I just wanted to be on the ground. Finally, we landed and sat there, awaiting further instructions.

The temperature in the plane started to creep up and it quickly became unpleasantly hot, and I continued to feel very sick. Finally, the flight attendant opened the door to the cabin and I got up and stuck my head out, which helped. We were told we could not get off the plane. One passenger started getting "belligerent" and "behaving like an asshole" - the flight attendant's words to the pilot. (In the front row of a small plane, you can hear everything. This is how I also heard the fuel thing.) While I was standing at the door, I asked the pilot what altitude we got down to. (5000 feet). He informed me that it was better that we went to Tri-cities rather than trying to land or "no one would have gotten home for Christmas" - ie, we all would have died. I find it a little amusing that he said this to a passenger.

First, they were looking for a bus to get us home. Then, they were going to wait until the afternoon, when the weather would clear. The plan, apparently, was for us to sit on the plane for the next 5 hours until that happened. The clamoring to get off the plane increased, and people started asking about rental car availability. The pilot explained that because United didn't operate out of Tri-cities, we weren't allowed to get off the plane and get back on due to insurance issues.

Now, a word about Tri-cities. It is basically lots of cow fields with an airstrip stuck in there. Why an airport is needed there is beyond me, but I guess it's lucky for us that it was there. I took this opportunity to call my parents, who were uncharacteristically completely unhelpful. They basically said - We can't get your brother's fever to come down. We might need to take him to the emergency room. Tri-cities is a 5 hour drive from Roa*noke. Stay on the plane! Don't drive. You're too tired.

What they were saying might seem to make sense, except that the plane was a furnace - a very small and cramped furnace - and I was continuing to feel awful.

Finally, the pilot announced the bottom line.

-- You can get off the plane - but if you get off, United washes their hands of you. We have no customer service in this airport, and it might be days before you can get another flight because it's Christmas. They do have a rental car terminal. You CANNOT get off the plane and get back on.

I and about 2/3 of the people on the plane grabbed our stuff and got off. Clearly I wasn't the only one desparate to get off the plane. We all made a beeline for the rental car agencies. Obviously, one-way rentals with no advance reservation do not tend to be cheap. At counter #1, I overheard $175 quoted, so I moved on. At counter #2, I stood in line. The woman in front of me looked friendly, so I asked her if she'd like to split a car. She said OK if her husband was amenable, which he turned out to be. They were smart and had called from the plane on their cell phone, so we got a reasonable deal - $130, including tax or $65 apiece plus gas money.

The drive turned out to be 2.5 hours, not 5. It was miserable for me because I still felt sick, but 100 times better than sitting on the plane. We stopped for lunch and took our time, and got back to Roa*noke by 2 PM. It was pretty unpleasant for me because my stomach would not settle, but it ended soon enough. I just felt bad because I would have liked to get to know the couple better, but I just wasn't up for it.

They dropped me off at the airport. I checked the screen, and the flight from Tri-cities was just scheduled to leave at about 2 PM. If everything went smoothly (a big if because the Roa*noke airport was a zoo due to the earlier bad weather), they would get back before 3 PM. In other words, those who stayed would have sat in the plane for about 5 hours.

Basically, this would have been annoying regardless, but it was extremely unpleasant because of my weak stomach. The flight didn't seem that rough - I've been on much worse- , but others also said they felt pretty bad as well, so some characteristic of the turbulence must have been nausea-inducing. All-in-all, it was a pretty miserable way to spend my birthday.

12:00 p.m. - Dec. 24, 2007

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this year_s raise

For those pondering their raises this year, you should divide the amount of your raise by 4.3%. That is, if your raise was 3%, your real salary decreased by 1.25%. If your raise was 5%, your real raise was 0.67%. If your raise was 7%, your real raise was 2.6%.

2:38 p.m. - Dec. 21, 2007

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bad design

It is too bad that Jamie Spe*ars got pregnant. I didn't know she existed until I saw the news on good old CNN this morning.

Many of the pro-contraceptive / anti-abstinence only crowd is using this as an opportunity to preach about how all this could have been avoided is Spe*ars had used birth control.

Now, I'm all for birth control and I think abstinence only education is silly and potentially dangerous. However, this may not be a great counterexample.

We don't know that she wasn't using birth control. Was she using the pill and forgot to take it one day? Easy to do, especially for a 16-year-old. Was she using a condom and it broke?

The problem with being 16 is that you're unbelievably fertile. I've read that fertility peaks at around age 15. If you have unprotected sex at the right time of month when you're that age, your chance of getting pregnant is (I think) between 60 and 70%. Put another way, if you have sex and the condom breaks at the wrong time of month, you're most likely going to get pregnant.

Blame the abstinence people, but blame God too. Peak fertility at 15 seems like a bad design to me.

4:41 p.m. - Dec. 20, 2007

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the first 4 years

Interesting study. (It's being reported on BBC and Slate.) Scroll to page 4 for the summary.

9:02 a.m. - Dec. 20, 2007

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texans

I was reading some comments on the Chicago marathon debacle, and I stumbled upon this, " I live and run in Texas, so I am somewhat familiar with running in warm weather." I had to laugh. I suspect most Texans are more than *somewhat* familiar with running in warm weather.

9:13 a.m. - Dec. 19, 2007

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