Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Why do lawyers make things so bloody difficult to read? I'm working my way through a pile of newsletters on my desk at work and am being reminded why I put these off as long as possible. Granted, that only serves to torture me even more when I try to read several in a row but... I never said I always did things is the best possible way. LOL These darn things make my eyes cross and when I'm already tired, make it really difficult to stay alert.

(BTW I'm so worn out today because I was awoken at 3:30 this morning in a very strange way. All of a sudden, I noticed my bed was quite literally soaking wet. I don't mean damp, I mean drenched! I woke up because the waist of my pajama pants and my whole camisole top were sopping wet due to a huge ring of water. And no I don't have a water bed that sprung a leak. It's like someone took a 5 gal bucket of water and dumped it in the middle of the bed. The other half of my bed, where I don't sleep, was even worse! I don't know what happened or how, but it was the strangest thing. So when I get home from work I have the joys of washing the sheets, stripping the mattress pad and cover off and washing those since I haven't a clue what happened.)

Anyhow, after my aside of why I'm tired today, back to the subject at hand. Here is an example of just one segment of one of these newsletters... "After promulgation of the final regulations for boilers and process heaters, the administrator received petitions for reconsideration of certain provisions in the final rule. EPA is initiating the reconsideration of some of those provisions by requesting comment on certain provisions of the approach used to demonstrate eligibility for health-based compliance alternatives, as outlined in appendix A of the final rule, and on the provisions establishing a health-based compliance alternative for total selected metals. EPA is not requesting comment on any other provisions of the final rule or granting petitioners' request that EPA stay the effectiveness of the health-based compliance provisions of the final rule, pending this reconsideration action."

Ok can anyone tell me what I just read? LOL if I wrote a paragraph like this in one of my book reviews, I'd be told to toss it and start all over. I'm highlighting certain repetitive phrases to show just how confusing this darned thing is! This is a total of only THREE sentences and every repetitive expression was used at least three times. And this tells me nothing except something about provisions on a final rule on health based alternatives, yet I have no clue what exactly I'm supposed to be concerned about here. And all of the segments in the newsletter are exactly like this. Yes folks, a day in the life of my job.

Monday, September 26, 2005

hurricanes and dinner parties

Well we lucked out with Rita. The hurricane turned eastward before landfall so hit around Port Arthur, TX as a Cat 3 around 3 or 4 AM Saturday. Because of the eastward turn before hitting, DFW was spared effects. Where we had been told to expect possible severe thunderstorms, high winds, flash flooding, maybe a random tornado, we got nothing. Not even a cold front as a result. I was hoping we'd at least get some rain as it's been a much drier summer then seems to be usual down here, and definitely drier since I moved here in '03.

It was windier Friday night and Saturday and the sky did cloud up as if it was going to rain, but most of the DFW area got not even a few drops of rain. As I understand, Houston and Galveston were spared severe effects, just getting lots of rain. But the area where it did hit was slammed with rain and such. I haven't watched the news over the weekend so I don't know how bad it was along the coast, and especially in the New Orleans area. I know NO was already flooding Friday morning, I just don't know how severe.

As for dinner parties, I had one Sunday night. I was supposed to last weekend, just a small one, about 4 or 5 people counting me but a few couldn't make it in the end so we didn't do it. Well the recipes I had pulled out to make sounded really good so I decided I was going to make them this weekend anyhow. LOL turns out we had my little dinner party last night instead.

I made this new kind of chicken I'd found a recipe online for. It was grilled chicken with a chili sauce/vinegar marinade, among other ingredients. I also had this different spinach salad recipe I'd found online that sounded good too. It was spinach, oranges, red onions and walnuts (I left out the walnuts though) with a sherry vinaigrette dressing. I couldn't find sherry vinegar anywhere though so I just used red wine vinegar instead. I was worried how it would turn out, especially since the chicken wouldn't thaw for anything and I was afraid I'd be starting cooking and it would be half raw from not thawing right. That happened with some salmon I made a few weeks ago.

Well my fears were for nothing as except for the marinade on the top of the chicken burning some. I cooked it a little longer then I was supposed to, just in case the meat didn't thaw completely. But it turned out really good, not dried out at all, and everyone absolutely loved it. The marinade wasn't as spicy as I'd expected, but it was still really good. Susan, my one neighbor, who is a self declared finicky eater, even loved it! Everyone wanted the recipe and Bill, my one neighbor must have had three helpings of salad as he really loved that too. I offered him some of the left overs to take, but he said no. One of my other neighbors, warren, brought biscuits and brownies with him so we had a nice full meal as a result. I had some frozen rolls in the freezer I was going to pull out, but since it turned out biscuits were coming, I didn't have to.

I'm not one for cooking and actually avoid it at all costs as a rule, but every once in a while I get it in my head to cook something different or special and this weekend was one of those. Usually my domestic mode kicks in on the weekends and I make a nicer Sunday dinner, as a result of years of always having a bigger dinner then usual on Sundays at home. Sometimes my attempts come out dreadful, other times, like this weekend, they turn out really well.

I also was in cleaning mode this weekend, cleaning the living room top to bottom (only thing I ran out of time for was taking the vacuum to the ceiling fans and door frames which are quite dusty. Cat hair does that... It collects on every flat surface it can find. LOL) I also cleaned the one bathroom. I also started packing up all my summery candle holders and pulled out the fall seasonal stuff. I didn't get it all put away and pulled out, but I got most of it. If I hadn't decided to cook last night, I would have gotten it all done.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

gearing up...

Rita is supposed to hit the Galveston, TX area early Saturday morning. We've spent the last few days contacting all our people at the facilities down there in coastal TX and LA to make sure they have emergency plans in effect and have everything secured and locked down tight. Talk is Rita is the strongest storm in recorded history to ever hit TX. We're expecting very severe thunderstorms, flash flooding, and potential tornadoes as far north as Dallas/Ft. Worth. So I've been spending my morning today trying to contact all my facilities to make sure they have everything secured and emergency plans in effect in case of the severe weather we may get. Storms are expected to start hitting here Saturday night.

The stories of people trying to evacuate are unbelievable with how hard it is to get out. Highways are gridlocked, even worse since they made the decision to evacuate Houston as well. One of the guys I work with has friends down where the storm is supposed to reach land and they left at noon yesterday. A drive to a nearby town that normally takes an hour, they are STILL sitting south of that town this morning, almost 24 hours later! He said the wife of his friend called him this morning in tears. they couldn't get off the highway and they can't get to gas stations, bathrooms, food, anything. They did finally get off the highway about an hour ago to get gas but now all the on ramps to the highway are blocked so they are stuck, watching all the people on the highway moving. They closed down the southbound side of THE major interstate in and out of Houston, I-45 at 9 AM this morning and now have it reopened for evacuees heading north.

My supervisor here in the office told Debbie and I to go fill up our gas tanks about an hour ago. After the storm hits in the Galveston area, they are predicting gas prices to increase to as much as $4/gallon. Even bigger is the worry of completely running out of gas, with all the people evacuating coming here to Dallas. I still had half a tank but I filled up. Tonight I'm going grocery shopping. i was going to wait till the weekend, but I figure I better go tonight, before it gets crazy and bad weather starts showing its face.

Mom called me last night. apparently one of my aunts in NY called her yesterday, worried about me and wanting to know if i was going to be affected. Mom called me to see what was happening here and what they were predicting for us. I told Mom"well this give me no excuse to put off COMPLETELY cleaning my apartment" top to bottom this weekend. LOL

And in GOOD news... Tommy and Tanya are officially engaged! Last night was the base ball game. Tommy's been planning this for months! He bought the ring, set up at the ball park for Tanya to throw out the first pitch last night and Tommy to catch it. So she threw out the pitch, Tommy caught it and brought it back to her at the pitcher's mound. He pulled out a styrofoam box in the shape of a baseball and had the ring inside. The Pirates announcer almost beat Tommy to it. they put on the big screens that he had an important question to ask so he got up to the mound and just said real quick "Marry me." So he could get it in before the announcers did. Tanya threw her arms around him, and the announcers said "Well it looks like she said yes." or something to that effect. Dave filmed the whole thing on Dad's camera since he had a clearer view of it all. the Pirates camera men also filmed the whole thing and are going to give a copy of it to Tommy and Tanya. Mom, Dad, Susan, Amy Dave, and Joey were all there for it. no date has been set yet but I had to share the exciting news. I figure with all the bad news about the hurricanes... Katrina and Rita, that we needed some good news too.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Labor Day weekend part two

After I got home, I went and changed in to my swim suit to go spend a few hours at the pool. Susan was already there as were some other neighbors I know. I asked Susan if she had Labor Day plans and she didn't so I suggested we do a cook out for us and whatever of the neighbors we know who want to participate. She loved that idea so we started planning it. We called it the "whatever is in the pantry" party since we're all between checks so not having much to go buy a lot for the party. Plus we've both been donating what we could to Katrina relief efforts so that affected our budgets. While we were discussing the plans, a couple more neighbors came over and we ended up doing a spur of the moment cook out Sunday night too. All we had was meat and potatoes, no veggies, but that was what we had available. There was about 5 of us and I had pork chops thawed so I put those in to the pot for available food for dinner. So last minute we threw a BBQ together and we all hung out at Susan's watching TV, playing cards and talking until dinner was ready. After we ate I had to head back though to make the salad I was bringing for the Labor Day party.

Yesterday we all met at the pool about 1:00 or so and Susan brought her grill over for the meat. We all hung out at the pool, just like the day before and the guys did the grilling. We had munchies early on and then we had some sausage to hold us over till the spare ribs were done. There was also an ice cream party the apartment complex was holding so we all had our sundaes for dessert before we even ate dinner. We ate early, about 3:30 or 4:00 and everyone brought something to eat. We had a ball just relaxing together. And we had so much fun one of the neighbors wants to do a burger grill out this Saturday. Which means the next round of hosting is my turn. LOL

So a weekend of no plans ahead of time turned in to a really nice fun one. I'm glad I'm getting to know more of the neighbors enough that we can do spur of the moment stuff like that.

I'm slacking

Haven't made an entry in quite a while. Either I've been so busy I keep forgetting or I've had nothing exciting enough to talk about. And I can't really think of anything to write about right now either. Had a pretty laid back Labor Day weekend. I STILL haven't written my column for Fresh Fiction that is way overdue. I have to at some point this weekend. I'm way behind on book reviews still though I am catching up a little bit. Now I only have about 6 to write instead of 15. LOL

I spent most of my weekend at the pool. Friday I was off work but I was busy running around and doing the typical errand thing for the week. Saturday I spent a few hours at the pool reading my book and chatting with some of my neighbors. Sunday I went to Church, which I haven't done since Christmas. I've been thinking for a while I need to start going again but I've become so disillusioned by the religion I was raised in that I've been resistant to going. I wanted to find a non-denominational Church to go to. I also was hesitant because I don't like the idea of spending two or three hours at Church. But I went this weekend and it was an experience. It was non-denom and was a culture shock! To me, church has always been more ritualistic, with certain prayers and readings done at set times, with a formal laid out ceremony that never really changes except the readings and the songs. Everyone is very subdued and quiet and dressed to the nines. And non on ever comes in late or leaves early. Well, maybe some do, but its frowned on.

Well this Church was absolutely NOTHING like anything I've ever been to before. They have a live band, made up of Church members that play music and sing for an hour or so. I swear, it was like a rock concert. People jumping up and down, dancing around the Church, belting out the lyrics at the top of their lungs, going up to other members to talk and all. That was a shocker to me. Then after that, they have the "testimonials" where people come up to the microphone to say prayers, share stories, or talk about people they've brought in to the fold of Christianity. Then after that there was the typical preaching part where one of the pastors goes up to the pulpit, tells what part of the Bible they are going to read and talk about. But I of course had no Bible with me. I've never been to a Church where you had to bring your own so I had no idea it was necessary. And as I'm looking around, people have hand written notes all over their Bibles, passages highlighted and the like. That was shocking to me too because to me, the Bible was something you read and learn from but you never ever write in it or highlight it. Also, people had notebooks with them to take notes about what the pastor talked about for the day. Other then the writing in the Bibles and taking notes, this third part of the service was what I was expecting it to be like. The second part was somewhat expected too. But there were people coming in and out the entire time, going around and talking to others and the like. That was a surprise to me also.

And I didn't mind those parts at all. Someone was nice enough to lend me their spare Bible for the readings so even though I'd heard them before, I was able to read along. People were extremely friendly too. I had many people coming up to me asking my name, if this was my first time there, what I thought of the Church, etc etc. Complete strangers coming up to carry on conversations. My church back home people who know each other will chat before or after, but they don't really talk to anyone they don't know. These people here were so excited to see a new face and everything. I liked that part too.

But the whole concert type performance at the beginning blew my mind. I wasn't jumping up and down or dancing and signing, but I did find I was singing under my breath to the refrains of the songs and my foot was tapping to the beat. I was dreadfully uncomfortable for that part though. I asked a few people I know if this was typical of a non-denom church and apparently this is pretty normal. So I guess I just need to get used to it. But the whole thing was SO long. It was like 2 1/2-3 hours. I didn't like that part at all. Though I heard some people saying this was longer then usual. They were talking a lot about Katrina and what they are doing to help out and looking for volunteers to help, etc.

I haven't decided if I'll go again this weekend or not, but if I do, I''m going to have to find my Bible that I've had for years and pull it out to take with me so I don't need to borrow someone else's again. I met a couple of the pastors though as they were walking around talking to people and a couple came and introduced themselves to me and asked about me and all that. I was surprised at the attire too. The most of the people were dressed up somewhat, But there were people in jeans and t-shirts, shorts, bare feet etc. Though I think the bare feet was a result of taking the shoes off to dance.

Anyhow the whole thing was very informal, very open and friendly and not anything like I've ever experienced before for Church. I think if I give myself a chance to get used to it that I'd like it though. The funny thing? If you can call it that anyhow... I've been reading the Left behind books in audio and am up to book 6 now. The funny thing is that this service I went to was very much like the descriptions of the services of everyone who was "Left Behind" in the books and converted to Christianity. I felt like I was in a scene in the book.

But enough about that. On to the rest of the weekend...