In The News

Last night, the president gave his annual State of the Union address. I watched it. I also watched the Republican response. Tonight, I may well watch The Daily Show, if I can stay up that late; I haven’t been able to, lately. I have my opinion of each. If you watched, I’m sure you do, too.

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Getting kinda tired of this stuff.

There’s other news in the world. For instance, Atlanta came to a screeching halt when a couple of inches of snow fell. Now, to those who live a few hours to the north, or up in the Appalachians, a couple inches is not enough to shut down an entire major city. Why? Because we get that stuff every year. That means our cities have a store of road salt or other effective ice treatment, they have snow plows, and they even have a snow-removal budget. The roads are treated every year, and even with all the rain and sun, and all the cars driving along, some of that stays in the roads, so a light snow just makes a slick spot here and there.

They don’t have that in Atlanta. Or the bulk of the southeast, for that matter. That means when the road is slick, it’s slick, and there’s not a whole lot they can do about it. Not to mention, if the roads are just warm enough, and the air cold enough, anything that hits the streets melts, then freezes again, adding a lovely layer of ice. I’ve had to have that conversation with Clevelanders more than once, who complained how quickly our schools closed. Again, it’s what you’re used to. And we’re used to freezing rain and ice, and we know that you can’t really drive in that. Not to mention, unlike Chicago, it’s not flat, here; we’re in the foothills of the Appalachians. We have major streets so steep, automatics roll back.

Anyway, Alabama is shut down. Chunks of North Carolina are shut down. Children are sleeping at school because the roads are impassible for people who don’t drive in that, on roads that are almost never treated with a deicer of some sort. It’s kind of a big deal. Do I have to bring up the heatwave in Chicago nearly 20 years ago? Those temperatures were ridiculous, yes, but for cities that get that on a relatively regular basis, it wouldn’t have caused so many deaths. We have cool centers already set up, for instance, and all sorts of programs available for those who don’t have any other way to cool themselves. We know that shutting up a house without air conditioning is like putting yourself in an oven. And that’s just here, a few degrees south in latitude. Head to Phoenix, and that’s just Tuesday. It’s all about what you’re used to, so back off, m’kay?

Don't blink...
Don’t blink…

The Grammys happened Sunday. I only watched the first hour – Downton Abbey and Sherlock were on that night, so… I hear there were some cool moments here and there. I’m not sure I’d have been able to stay up for the whole thing anyway; I didn’t make it more than ten minutes into Sherlock before I was out cold. Not really sure what happened.

No, I take that back. Sunday morning, sang in church, which included a total of about half an hour, 45 minutes standing on stone, then I came home and shoveled, since it was finally above ten degrees – it was almost 50; practically summery. Snow was melting. Still, there was enough that it would have had to stay that warm for about a week before it made any real difference. So I shoveled my walk, and I cleared the slush from around my car. I did that because that evening, it would drop into the single digits, and whatever had melted was going to re-freeze. I went to a gas station and paid a dollar to properly inflate my tires, because with the bitter cold, I lost enough tire pressure to affect the way my car drove. I went to Home Depot and bought a new roll of duct tape and some natural-light bulbs, to see if that would help with the winter blues. This is the first time in a long time I’ve had a winter this cold and dark. Kinda getting to me. Then I came home and made chili. By the time I went to bed, I could barely walk. Years of wearing ill-fitting shoes, cheap sneakers with no support, and heels at least three inches high, along with jobs that had me on my feet for several hours at a time, and a pelvis that makes me walk funny (when I’m really tired, anyway), led to a problem with plantar fasciitis. Hurts. A lot. Better now, though. Not great, but better. I can walk in the mornings without wanting to scream, at least.

There’s other stuff in the news, of course, stuff that has nothing to do with politics or weather. But it’s Wednesday, and it’s taking all I have to stay even remotely on task. Besides, Psych is on…

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Save It

It’s snowing again. Starting to feel like I’m in that hotel where Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duvall were trapped in that novel, that I can never read again. If nothing else, this is serving as a reminder of why I didn’t move to Chicago. They may be used to this, but I’m not. Not even after living in Colorado for a decade, no. I didn’t live in the mountains, so I didn’t have to deal with much snow. I did have to deal with snow in May and June, and if I went into the mountains, July, but not much.

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The Stanley (merged) in Estes Park, Colorado

I’ve already written about winter’s crush, though, so I won’t do that again. I’ve also written about sunnier places, where I wish I were now, basking in the warmth, the sun kissing (and then burning, but whatever) my skin, my hair all fuzzy in the humidity. People complain about how hot it is, how they can’t wait until winter, but not me; no, I prefer the summer. Always have.

So I’m at a loss, now, about what to write. Things have happened in the world, interesting things and ridiculous things – where does Justin Bieber get off comparing himself to Michael Jackson? He’s as deluded as Kanye – and it snows. We’re getting all the snow that should have fallen in California. A good chunk of that state is going to burst into flame this year, and that is going to really suck.

I suppose there’s only one choice left – writing prompts.

Ault Park
Countdown to spring, my favorite season

Writing Prompt 64 – List 10 – 15 things worth saving, then choose one of those things and write about it

  1. Money
  2. Time
  3. Water
  4. Health
  5. Food
  6. Historic sites
  7. Archaeological finds
  8. Forests – temperate, rain
  9. Fauna we’ve endangered
  10. Flora we’ve endangered
  11. Union Terminal
  12. Original OTR architecture

I couldn’t think of anything to write, so I had to resort to the writing prompts. Sometimes that’s enough to get something started. Sometimes. This list was hard to write for some reason. There are plenty of things that need saving, but it’s not as black and white as it seems. For instance, saving your soul, that’s important for some, and a joke for others who don’t believe we have souls.

Saving life is a big one, a really big one, and even that isn’t so simple. First, you have to define life. Life is a being capable of breathing on its own, surviving on its own, or someone who can be brought to that state. Me personally, I support legal and safe (the two are not mutually exclusive) abortion. I also support sex education, and an emphasis on prevention through abstinence or birth control. I’d much rather see a woman not have to make that choice, or give birth to a baby than to see it terminated; no one is pro-abortion. Not anyone who values life, anyway. I know others believe in their hearts that this is murder, for whatever reason, usually religious. It’s a medical procedure that, depending on your view, does or does not result in a death. It’s a medical procedure that can save a life, too, either directly or indirectly. If the mother’s life is in danger, especially if the fetus is going to go with her, why would you want to make her suffer, knowing that not only is she going to die, but the child she was carrying will too? Then there’s the other end, death as punishment and assisted suicide. Both are, in the long run, choices, usually, but the death penalty is less-so, and sometimes it’s handed out unevenly.

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Water and a child. It had to happen.

This wasn’t supposed to turn into a controversial post. I try to keep this as peaceful as possible, saving my personal politics for relevant conversations. I’m not interested in changing someone’s mind. Well no, that’s not true, I am, but that’s not my purpose in sharing things like that; I provide information, and trust people to use their brains. Doesn’t mean they’ll agree with me. Nor do I necessarily want them to; I just want them to think. Changing a belief that is part of your being is hard. Really hard.

Even saving fauna (animals) is a tricky thing – evolution happens. Sometimes, an animal dies out because the niche it filled no longer exists. Sometimes, it dies out because of something we did. So how do we know, with some of the endangered species, if they’re dying out is our fault, or just evolution? Well, killing alligators and buffalo, elephants and tigers, wolves, that’s us, putting those animals on the endangered species list. With the buffalo, there’s the added benefit of them being able to interbreed with cattle, a creature that was introduced here by settlers. There are insects and animals that are dying out because rainforests are being destroyed. Bears and lions being killed because humans have continued to encroach on their land. That’s not all of them, of course, there really are species that have died out because they serve no more purpose. I’m baffled by pandas – they don’t seem particularly interested in continuing their species. They’re losing their environment, too, so that’s not helping.

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Summer morning on the beach

There’s also the climate. The earth has gone through cycles since the beginning, sometimes trending toward warming, others toward cooling. These are normal and natural. Currently, the planet is in a transition where it is warming. How much of that, though, is the natural cycle, and how much of that is human intervention? That’s the real question. Those who hold up this current winter as evidence the globe isn’t on a warming trend should probably spend a little more time in a science class. Warmer air holds more moisture. Moisture, when it freezes, becomes sleet or snow, or my personal favorite, freezing rain. There’s also a matter of scale. From far away, a glacier looks smooth, almost flat; up close, it’s obviously not flat or smooth. Globally, the temperature is going up. Locally, there are good seasons and bad seasons, although the trend is still toward warming.

Once again, not intending to create controversy, it’s just what happens sometimes.

Well, it’s January, and it’s cold. Less cold than yesterday – we’re in the double digits! – but still cold. I’m wrapped up in my Snuggie (actually warm), a sweatshirt, a t-shirt, sweat pants and thermals. Oh, and socks and fuzzy slippers. And a hat. A pretty red one that looks like an elf hat, that my father made. And I’m watching Freaks and Geeks, so concentration isn’t the best right now. Incredible how nearly all of the main characters have had a career after this show. A big one.

En Hiver

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Andre FLanagan, along W Elm in Over-the-Rhine

I missed Saturday. I know. I didn’t have time. I’ve not really been able to get to sleep at a decent hour unless I’m completely exhausted. That might happen tonight. It doesn’t matter what time I put my head down, either; I just can’t really sleep. This time of year is always a little on the tough side for me, between weather and other events. I spend a lot of energy just working on doing what needs to be done. I washed my dishes today, so I was pretty excited about that. Even the really big ones, the stock pot and the 13″ casserole dish. Over my three-day weekend, I had other plans, things I was going to do. I did one of those things I planned. Fortunately, that one thing was wash dishes. I did another thing I planned that I forgot I planned, though – went out shooting† with a friend.

I wasn’t sure what was actually going to happen Saturday morning when I left for work that Friday. I just knew I was looking forward to not having to get up. Again, rough time of year. I made a date, though, and frankly, I really needed to leave the house and spend time with another human being. Best to do that with a human being you actually want to spend time with, don’t you think?

Saturday dawns, and I rise a couple hours after that, something not all that common for me, actually.  I’m usually up before eight on Saturday mornings. Sunday mornings, might go all the way to 8:30 if I’m tired. This past Saturday, it was almost 9:30. That’s practically the middle of the morning! Which is kinda weird to say, actually, when I remember that I’m not really a morning person; not sure when that changed. Before I remembered my plans for that day, I intended to stay in bed and only get out to use the bathroom and eat.‡ Instead, I had to bathe and eat and put on clothes suitable for wearing in public. In January. One of the coldest Januarys in decades. And I was going to be spending hours outside. In the cold. I don’t like being cold. I’m cold right now, and I’m not too thrilled with it. I’ll live.

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Since 1852

When the temperature reached the double-digits a little after eleven, and after I ran a couple errands, my friend picked me up, and off we went. We started off with a place I’ve never been, a place I should have been years before, as a Cincinnati native, but never had – Findlay Market. An important landmark in town, this is where the Reds Opening Day Parade begins. It’s where people came with their parents and grandparents, and got special cookies or had lunch with freshly-sliced ham, spent the day browsing the different stalls inside and out in the spring and summer, meeting up with friends for years. My mother was from Indiana, so it wasn’t part of her childhood, therefore it wasn’t part of mine. I was an adult before I ever had goetta, for crying out loud! At least that I remember.

Anyway, I put on my four layers (wait, lemme count again – five layers), and off we went. It took a minute or two to find a place to park, until we just parked in a lot. Walking down West Elm, to the western entrance of the market, we paused to visit with Andre Flanagan. He’s a fixture there every Saturday and Sunday, he said, out there singing for his supper. The cup in front of him helps him get by. It’s not much, but it could make the difference. He’s not begging, though; when we got out of the car, a little better than a block away, I could hear his voice echoing between the buildings. It was hard to miss. Not trained, but that doesn’t matter – it’s a good voice, and it’s a voice that believes what it sings. Andre will perform any number of hymns for you. And if you want, he’ll even give you a little sermon. In my brief visit with him, there was nothing but love in his conversation. Maybe I didn’t completely agree with everything he said, but he did have something to say, and he charmed nearly everyone walking by.

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Colonel De Gourmet Herbs & Spices

Once I’d lost feeling in my fingers, we walked into the market proper. Well, eventually; had to stand outside and take a few pictures from there, too, just to get the lay of the land. Remember, I’d never been there before. The first thing I noticed was the crowd. I figured there would be a lot of people, but maybe not so many, since it was so cold. And honestly, for the time of day, maybe it wasn’t that crowded. I really didn’t know what to expect. To the right, a little gelato stand, with a line. This is Ohio – it’s never too cold for ice cream. To the left, a spice merchant, with a counter covered with jars full of various exotic aromas. A little further in, there were butchers and bakers. The candlestick makers were in a different part of the market, one of the outer inside stalls. I walked up and down the main building, trying to remember not to stop in the middle of the narrow aisle, or at least, get out of the way. I didn’t buy much while I was there, I was there to look. I was thirsty, so I got a bottle of water, and there was a honey stall where I bought ten honey straws. Some were flavored with fruit, others were flavored by where the bees got the nectar. I couldn’t help myself, either – I bought a teeny honey bear with wild flower honey. Very good, I’ve never had anything like it. The honey straws didn’t last the night. Three of them were gone before we got back to the car.

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Future magnolia blossoms

We left the market after not quite two hours – since that was all we had at the lot – and headed for somewhere else. I suggested Eden Park, since I wanted to see what I could do with snow pictures. It was cold, so the snow we got hadn’t melted, but it was also overcast – more snow was due. We did wander a little bit, get some shots of the gazebo by mirror lake, and made our way to the magnolia garden. I thought we might try the overlook, but we needed to go back to the car and drive. The walk back from there would have been exhausting. Unfortunately, Krohn Conservatory was open, so parking along the street was non-existent, and the road around the twin lakes was closed. Not sure why, but it probably was because of the recent weather. It was cold and I was tired and sore, and we were hungry, so we went out to have a bite to eat. IHOP. One with a good soundtrack.

Not bad.

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†You should know by now, I’m shooting with a camera
‡Did that Sunday

You Have Your Health

Initially, I considered writing about the show I saw last Sunday, The Book of Mormon – the touring cast, of course. Then I realized there just wasn’t a whole heckuva lot to say about it, other than if you are easily offended, or think South Park is stupid, don’t waste your money; this is not a show for the sensitive. Really not. If, however, you’ve watched South Park, and noticed how they stick little messages in the shows more often than not, you were entertained by that, and you’re not offended easily, then see this when you get the chance. If I could afford it, I’d go again. No characters from the TV show appear in this. Still has a very definite South Park flavor. So, okay, what else to write about?

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Sunset above Cincinnati – November 2013

Y’know when people complain about life, then talk themselves down by saying things like “well, at least I have my health.”? Yeah, I don’t. I mean, I do, mostly, but I don’t. My immune system isn’t as strong as the average person my age with my lifestyle, so I catch viruses I never used to catch. Seriously, I rarely got sick at all. Now I’ve already taken two days off for being ill, and it’s only the 15th of January. That does not make me happy. Today, I had a follow-up CT scan for yesterday. Really not that big a deal†, and it’s something I should have in my record anyway.

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Ornamental grass early afternoon November 2013

As I was leaving the hospital‡, I couldn’t help but think about that gigantic magnetic doughnut, about the little green face that lit up when it was okay to breathe normally, and the little orange face – complete with countdown – to tell me when to hold my breath. I suppose it’s there to help people understand when to do what, but I’m not sure the graphics are all that clear without the words to tell you what they are. Then I thought about the fact that I was standing at the elevator, waiting for the doors to open, so I could ride down the single floor to where my car was parked. Why the elevator instead of the stairs? Plantar fasciitis. Years of cheap shoes that didn’t fit, with no support, on a body that already has an awkward gait. I haven’t been able to comfortably walk down stairs for months. I can usually walk up, just not down. Sometimes, I can’t walk up because the faciitis is too bad, like right now. Other times, it’s because of my knee, my right knee, that has been in three different braces since I was sixteen, so not exactly a surprise it’s now so touchy. In fact, if the kneecap is tapped ever-so-slightly right in the middle, it just goes out. That’s special, and all kinds of fun.

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Eastern bend in the Ohio – January 2014

My scan was late enough in the afternoon that it just didn’t make sense to go back to work. It had been snowing off and on all day; since it had been warm recently, because this is January, it wasn’t sticking. The official temperature was 32, so not even the grass had much on it. While I was composing this in my head, trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to say, I started thinking about the weather, and the time of day. Big fat flakes drifting down made for an interesting scene. For the first time in two months, I wondered if it was a good time to go out shooting with my camera. I’ve taken pictures since November, but just for Christmas Eve, a weather report, and a photo scavenger hunt I’m in. Sort of goes back to the health thing, but it also goes with an energy thing, which is partially health-related, but mostly stress related.

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View from upper level of Alms Park pavilion January 2014

So I went home, I grabbed my camera, and I headed out. Then I stopped at the grocery store, because I was out of eggs, and we’re doing a soup thing at work on Friday. I needed stuff for chili; like ground chuck, fresh garlic, fresh onion, stuff like that. Smells really good in here right now. Figured I couldn’t do this tomorrow, because of choir rehearsal – I’m hoping this time that I actually make it church to sing. It’ll be the first time since before Christmas Eve.

Right, so I took pictures for fun, for the first time since November. My feet hurt, I’m making chili – it’ll taste better after 24 hours anyway – and it’s already after 9:30. I realized that writing a whole post was just not going to happen. Decided to just do a photo post instead.

C’mon now, this is shorter than the average post. By maybe two hundred words, but that’s shorter…

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†No, really, not a big deal. Just ruling out kidney stones; not all that uncommon. My health has not changed.

‡My scan was originally scheduled for 1:30 at an office nearby, but their machine went down. So, scheduled for later, further away, in the actual hospital. That’s being remodeled. Like, parking garage being moved remodeled. So that was fun.

Crab Bucket

“She reached down and picked a crab out of a bucket. A it came up it turned out that three more were hanging on to it. […] that’s why you can keep [crabs] in a bucket without a lid. Any that tries to get out gets pulled back…'”
– “Unseen Academicals” Terry Pratchett

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A painful downward spiral…

Last Sunday, after my hopeful, optimistic post about my favorite football team, The Game happened. It didn’t start off that well; the Bengals managed to rally and went into halftime with a lead. It was an exciting time to be a Bengals fan; this might be the year, when we finally win a post-season game! Then the second half began. Now, I don’t want to take away from the Chargers’ efforts, but the Bengals lost that game. Many rants erupted† discussions appeared on Facebook; they pretty much boiled down to this – the Bengals currently do not come from a culture of winning.

This is not intended as an excuse, just an explanation. Nor is it being presented as fact; it’s an opinion that happens to be shared by others. More, oh, food for thought.

Today, that thought connected with another I’ve had from time to time. In general, I do like where I work. I like many of the companies policies as it relates to the greater community, and I’ve seen that they do tend to promote from within whenever possible. Moving from hourly to salary isn’t impossible, either.

I had a decent public-school education; I even went on to college with an academic scholarship. Nearly every kid on my street went on to college, which didn’t seem quite typical for my neighborhood. At least, not the parts I most-often frequented.ˆ It was a good school, and a good education. I look around and I see others who are about my age, who also graduated from my college, who are in the offices along the windows or in jobs that require suits on a fairly regular basis. Me, I’m an hourly grunt at a relatively low-level position (pay’s not bad, though – certainly not when compared to what I used to make doing the same thing). What happened?

There are choices made, of course, but what factors led me to some of them? There’s the soul-crushing anti-support I got at home (working on overcoming that), but that’s not all.

The Center for Performing Arts - my second home on campus.
The Center for Performing Arts – my second home on campus.

Unlike those others, I didn’t graduate with a business degree; I graduated with a music one. That doesn’t change the fact that I still had to take several academic courses, even after I’d declared my major. Take an advanced music theory class and tell me that’s not academic. That’s math, b*chz!‡ I could have gone the academic route; not completely sure what kept me from doing it, but I think the whole ‘soul-crushing anti-support’ I mentioned may be at least partially to blame for even that choice. Being a music teacher sounded more likely to result in a job than being a professional economist. There’s more than that, though.

What sticks out most to me about my early college years is the cultural thing. My first semester in college was a nightmare. Aside from the unfortunate dearth of diversity of any sort (racial, economic, political) – it has improved – the predominant culture was one I’d really only ever seen on television.§ An awful lot of these kids had a mindset that was completely foreign to me. I actually overheard a conversation where a girl was complaining to her friend that she was running out of money, so she’d need to call her father and have him put more into her account; she was down to $1,500 (about $2,900 when adjusted for inflation) – I’d been following her long enough to know that wasn’t for tuition or book money.

I didn’t grow up poor; we had two cars, cable, went on vacations around the contiguous 48, were never hungry, never without what we needed, and even a few luxuries. The power and the phone got shut off from time to time, but it always got turned back on. Mom worked a couple of jobs to make ends meet in some years. I worked at one with her for a while. But we weren’t poor.

Just the same, those people who grew up in the upper-middle-class grew up with special privileges, whether they recognize it or not. They knew what could be lost. More importantly, they knew it could be regained. They knew that if they persevered, they would get bad jobs, and work their way up from those bad jobs to better jobs, eventually reaching the top at whatever mountain they were climbing. They’ve not been told that this is impossible, only that it is difficult. They’ve had regular exposure to a better life and people who were able to overcome odds to get it – people who looked like them.

The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. Had brunch there once.
The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. Had brunch there once.

Going the other direction, there’s a culture of not standing out, not making waves, not causing trouble, because if you did, you got singled out, and if you got singled out, you got hurt. From the bottom, what you see is the wealthy get their way, and the poor get burnt. It seems to me that the less power you have, the more this becomes your attitude.

What about the kids who maybe didn’t have so much but did go to the better public or private schools in the area? This is where the initial quote and the title come in.

Every cultural group has a crab-bucket mentality to a degree. For some, it’s not such a problem; perhaps part of their culture includes challenging the status quo, so going against the wishes of your group is no big deal. It’s more common the higher up you go, but it’s not exclusive to the well-off.

Others are not so lucky; given an opportunity to improve, those around them won’t help, or even take it a step further and sabotage any progress, any way they can. There are behaviors that affect the attitudes of those on the lower rungs of our society, regardless of race or political affiliation.

This is the antithesis of  a culture of success and growth.

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Get out of the bucket, or get eaten by a pelican
– Stephen Covey~

There are those who never had anything who reached the pinnacle of wherever they were going, and those who lost everything, but came back from the brink. They’re great stories, very inspirational. The stories I see (or perhaps just notice) most often are the ones where someone was the poorest in their upper-middle-class neighborhood, or some life situation or choice dropped them down an economic class or three. I see them complaining, unsympathetic to those who don’t succeed the way they did, railing against anyone who has a story different from their own. What a lot of them don’t understand – at times are unwilling to understand – is the difference in culture, that it’s not just purely economic or racial or even educational. Again, not an excuse, just a socio-economic exercise, if you will.

There’s so much more swirling around in my head, words that are jumbled and crashing into one another, anxious to be heard; they’re still a bit of a mess, though, so I really can’t get all that in-depth, much as I would like to. This could easily turn into a short story.

As I mentioned, there are those who claw their way from the bottom to the top, who break out of that cycle and don’t look back; there are those who don’t forget where they started, who work to make a difference in a community that needs a hand, help others pull themselves up, give them an opportunity for a life they never thought they’d have. What’s different about them? It’s not just money, or support of your family, not just education or immediate environment. How did they get out of the crab bucket?

Me, I’m still in it; most of the crabs are ghosts, though they still have quite a bit of power.

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† I sorta borrowed this idea…couldn’t help myself, Sarah, it’s so useful.
ˆ College graduates are not superior to those who didn’t go to or finish college. That piece of paper – especially if you’ve specialized – can help you get paid more, and it’s a cool experience, but it does not make someone superior to anyone else.
‡ Sorry, I don’t actually talk like that all that much, so it feels kinda weird. Doesn’t mean I won’t use those words – sometimes the best word for the job is a “four-letter” one…
§ The same could be true of them and the culture I came from, which was actually very diverse, thanks to the magnet program I was in.
~ Really not a Stephen Covey quote

New

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Ponce Inlet Lighthouse museum

So I was off work from the 25th, Christmas, through the 1st, New Year’s Day. Went back on the 2nd. I shouldn’t have, but after a long vacation or a holiday, you don’t call off sick unless you’re calling from the doctor’s office or hospital. There’s a nasty cold or two going around, as well as the flu. I’ve had my flu shot, so that was less likely, assuming they chose the right strain. Not to mention I didn’t have some of the key flu symptoms, like chills and eyelash pain. Fever isn’t always present. Learned that one last year, when I had everything but. No, this is definitely a cold, though it is really vicious. Started Sunday night when I felt a bit tired, and my throat was a little raw. Well, I was still recovering from that football game one week prior – my throat had been sore off and on for days. Before I fell asleep, though, I had to find myself some mentholated rub so I could breathe. Woke up Monday to that wonderful, post-nasal-drip-through-the-night feeling. Swallowing was excruciating, talking very unpleasant. It was bad enough that I even tried the lidocane gel I had from a strep throat scare earlier this year. That stuff tastes awful! Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to eat or drink, though, so it was necessary. Got the nose sorted so that wouldn’t happen again, but I did go through an awful lot of tissues. Tuesday morning, even worse. No New Year’s celebrations for me. I did manage to stay up past midnight. Had absolutely nothing to do with the fireworks outside making the neighborhood dogs – including the incredibly loud one next door – bark for a while.

New Year’s Day, I felt a little better, like I was going to be alright Thursday. Wrong. I did go to work; as I mentioned, you don’t call off the day after a vacation or holiday unless you’re calling from the ER. Regretted it almost immediately. Went through several more tissues, coughed up small bits of lung, and spent the bulk of the day debating whether I should go home early. Friday, because of my normal cycle (get sick, rest, feel better than I did, go to work too early, relapse), I felt miserable. I caved – I called off. Spent the entire day in bed, except for trips to the bathroom or kitchen. Got creative with some chicken broth and cous cous for lunch. It was…interesting. Yeah, interesting is the right word. Felt good on my throat and through my chest, I will say that.

2014-01-02 Fluffy 027a
Like this, only more

Feeling much better today, but I’m trying to remind myself not to go crazy on getting stuff done. It’s difficult, though, because we’re expecting WINTER STORM ION. That’s right, we’re up to the letter I in the winter-storm-naming that The Weather Channel has taken upon themselves to perpetrate. We are actually supposed to get dumped on, then temperatures bottom out. We’re lucky – our high on Monday should be -2F. It’s much worse just a few miles to the north. I have toilet paper and bread – I just need milk and beer. I don’t tend to keep those on hand because I drink neither milk nor beer, but it’s required when a massive snow storm is predicted.

Two winters ago, it was so mild, flowers bloomed a month early. Last winter saw a bit of snow, but nothing particularly dramatic – not for lack of predicting it, mind. That awful, dangerous storm we were supposed to get in March left us all reeling. Must have been an eighth of an inch of snow on the ground; city nearly came to a screeching halt. So now we’re being reminded what winter can be. Of course, being where we are in the country, the bitter cold was preceded by near 60 degree temps, by, say, 24 – 36 hours? Seemed that way, anyway.

There is one benefit to the weather – see, I am a bit of a football fan. Just a bit, mind. I’m certainly not one of those who gives a play-by-play the entire game, filling up everyone’s Facebook newsfeeds with non-sequitur congratulations and screams of rage.‡ My team, the Cincinnati Bengals, has, for the third year in a row, made it to the post-season. This time, we even got home-field adavatage. We haven’t gotten past the first game in the post-season since 1990, against the Houston Oilers. This year, though, no one is saying we got lucky, that everyone else collapsed, giving us our chance. We *earned* this spot.†

Still mourning the loss of my Who Dey hanky - had that since 1988.
Still mourning the loss of my Who Dey hanky – had that since 1988.

Anyway, this game tomorrow has a bit of an interesting twist – in January of 1982, the year of our first Super Bowl appearance, we had a few games to play. We made it to the AFC Championship series, and we got to play at home. Winters in Cincinnati can be…challenging. Three days before Christmas, it was over 60 degrees, Fahrenheit. Christmas Day topped out at 28 – no snow, of course. Record high in 1982 was 65. The record low of -8 was set in 1983, 365 days later. On Sunday the 29th, before I really felt sick, the temperature topped out at 64.

New Year’s Day in 1982 had a bit of fog, but that was it; the temperature was within the typical range at 44, and precipitation was zero. According to records, it was mid-50s on the 6th. Two days later, the bottom dropped out. From a high of 54 to a low of 12 is a bit of a shock. On the 9th, the low was only 2 (that’s -17 C for those playing along in the rest of the world). Cold, sure, but still football weather.

January 10th, 1982, the day of the AFC Championship game; the official temperature according to the site I’m using is -11 F (-24 C). Original reports claim a windchill of -59 F (-51 C). That’s North Dakota cold.

Two teams faced one another on the gridiron – the Cincinnati Bengals, and the San Diego Chargers. Now just a few years before, it was so cold that the Ohio River froze. That was the 2nd year in a row – 1977 and 1978. There were people crazy enough to try driving across. They made it, but they were lucky. I say that to point out that the Bengals have dealt with harsh cold like that on a far more regular basis than the San Diego Chargers. That game – which the Bengals won, by the way – went down in football history as The Freezer Bowl.

This year – tomorrow, in fact – the Bengals are hosting a 1st round Wildcard game – against the San Diego Chargers. We are currently under a winter storm warning, too. Most of it isn’t supposed to hit until after the game, but weather can be unpredictable; one can hope…

Who Dey, baby!

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‡I’m so totally that person
†Yeah, I said ‘we,’ what of it? Even when the Bengals lose, it’s still ‘we,’ so nyah!