Sunday, July 31, 2005


This was the best weekend in a while, for purely selfish reasons. During the week, I rarely get as much sleep as I'd like. The same has been true for weekends recently.

This weekend, Byrne came out to help us move more stuff from the other house and bring an antique secretary to the furniture restorer. He came out Friday night, after dinner and stayed over, helping us all day Saturday.

I had to be up earlier than I'd have liked on Saturday, since we were expecting an air conditioning company service call. Today, however, I slept most of the morning. Then, when Marc wanted to take a mid-afternoon nap, I joined him. All in all, I probably got about 12 hours of sleep, and I feel great!

I know one large quantity of sleep doesn't make up for many nights of not getting enough, but I sure feel good.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

A night out with the boys

Yesterday, after work, I killed some time by walking about six blocks to a store in the Village that was giving discounts to employees of my hospital. They sold bath and body products. I found a nice eucalyptus bubble bath there. After that, I started walking back to the train. I stopped at Condomania on Bleecker Street and bought a new lube that I thought Marc might like.

After that, I went to Penn Station to get another pair of shoes polished. Then I got back on the subway--the 8th Avenue local this time (as opposed to my usual 7th Avenue express)--and headed for dinner. Michael had two friends in town (I was shocked to find that he even had two friends outside of our usual group). ;)

These two guys, Jeff and Bruce, were very nice. It was Jeff's 30th birthday. Being the sweet guy Michael really is (despite my teasing comments), he decided to set up a dinner for him/them. So he invited a bunch of his local friends (even me!) to join them. At dinner were Patrick & Greg, formerly famous-for-fifteen-minutes Jase, James and ... um... oh, crap... come on, brain... we know his name... stupid, unreliable brain... come on!... rats... okay, Michael, leave a comment with his name!... so, continuing where my senility left off... Byrne and elusive, handsome RN Anthony (also known as Michael's partner).

The restaurant was small and warm (not in the nice, cozy sense), but the food was very good. So I guess that evened out. Oh, and I was feeling sufficiently frisky (okay, so it's my usual state) to grope Patrick a few times. That's always a treat. (Hey, we each married someone else, but he's one of my dearest friends, and what are friends for if they can't be fresh with each other?) :)

It was nice to see everyone. The only negative is that we got home later than usual and then stayed up even later. We have a service call scheduled this morning with the air conditioning company. So, in order to get our central air conditioning serviced, we had to be up at 8am. They're supposed to be here between 8am and 1pm. Too bad. Even though 8am is much later than I get up on a workday, I really could have used to sleep later. Maybe I'll manage it tomorrow.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Too good to pass up

I thought Victor Borge (btw, as far as I know (and if you care), his last name was properly pronounced Bor-Guh... or close to that) was terrific. He was both a talented pianist and a very funny man. While looking at The Quotations Page, I saw this from the late Mr. Borge: "The difference between a violin and a viola is that a viola burns longer." This immediately brought back some fond memories.

In a performance of his, years ago, he delivered another line that had me rolling. Speaking of his childhood, he said, "One day, my father came home to find me in our living room in front of a roaring fire. This made him very angry... because we didn't have a fireplace."

His delivery was wonderful. Actually, I just checked Netflix, and I see that there are several Victor Borge DVDs. Since such things are at the mercy of editors who may or may not be good at editing such work, I don't know if these collections are any good. Still, if you haven't seen his work, it's worth checking out. He truly was wonderful.

Three bucks?

For the first time in almost two months as a commuter to Manhattan, I managed to leave enough time to stop in Penn Station before getting on the train to visit one of the shoeshine stands/shops in the station.

There's now a shine on my shoes so high that they almost could be used as mirrors. And the price? Three dollars! Can't beat that! (Well, five dollars, I guess, since I gave a two dollar tip, but it's still a bargain.)

I love this. A great shine on my shoes, and I don't have black polish under my fingernails! :) If I have the time tomorrow, I'll have to stop and get another pair done (I have more than one pair, so I can alternate day-to-day; they hold up better that way, since they get to dry off and have their shoe trees in on their off days).

Yes, I live an exciting life, don't I? ;)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


My Mom would have turned 70 today. She was taken from us far too soon.

In her honor--city kid that she was--I'll share some New York City trivia. Specifically, a little bit about the subways.

For anyone who has wondered about the maintenance of the subways in New York, and why it's so tough to keep things looking good, I share the following. The NYC subway system has 468 stations, 660 miles of tracks on 27 different lines and carries 4.5 million passengers a day.

I hope that was at least slightly enlightening. Writing something that even began to do justice to my Mom would take ages, so I'll just leave you with some useless trivia instead.

(I miss you, Mom!)

Not that I would ever applaud the death of another human being, but...

A spammer beaten to death? I have to say that I've felt the urge to beat any number of them to death myself. The Russian police seem to think it's unrelated to his spamming, but it still makes one wonder.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Space Shuttle Discovery Pinto

Were the shuttles made by Ford after they stopped churning out the Pinto? I certainly hope for the best, and I'd hate to see another tragedy. This, however, does not fill me with confidence.

NASA thinks they saw debris falling off this shuttle, too? Are these things made of balsa wood? I understand that there are huge stresses on the shuttle when it takes off (and re-enters), but that's what it's supposed to be made for.

Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne made NASA look silly. I realize that it doesn't have the size or capacity of the Shuttle. Also, it didn't go as far into space. Still, something really needs to change at NASA and fast.

Yes, the Shuttle is what we have for now, and we need to service the International Space Station. Still, I haven't had the feeling that NASA (or the Congress which, of course, controls funding) is in any rush to make newer, better and safer ways to get to space. I support the space program and realize that it has led to many great scientific breakthroughs, but there has to be a better approach for NASA. We can't let our government programs get passed by Virgin Atlantic!

Monday, July 25, 2005

People are idiots

In Penn Station this evening, a cop was checking bags of people getting on one LIRR train. He was posted at the top of the steps leading down to the track. Okay, fine. It's nearly useless, but I can handle that. What I can't handle, as I was walking past this track entrance (heading for a different train), was the woman in front of me who saw the searches and stopped in her tracks. She then stood and stared, as if she'd never seen anything so fascinating in her whole life. I had to detour around a board to get past her. What's the deal with people? It's bad enough when people rubberneck a highway accident, but this was ridiculous!

In other idiocy, I caught sight of an article being read by the person next to me on the train. I'm getting pretty good at reading articles in the newspapers of neighboring commuters. Apparently, the DVD of the film Alexander has further reduced reference to Alexander the Great's homosexuality. Oliver Stone was quoted as saying, "You cannot associate homosexuality with the military in this country . . . Audiences want their war films straight. From the day we opened, we did not do business in the South." I never liked Oliver Stone, and this really seals the deal for me. Nice going, Ollie. Just twist history (not that you've ever hesitated to do that) so you can make more money. Bastard.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Hate crimes

There's an interesting article in the Metro Section of today's New York Times. Just taking a quick look at the statistics for the five years 2000-2004, an interesting thing jumps right out.

35% of all hate crimes are Anti-Semitic, with the next most prevalent being Anti-Gay crimes at 16%. However, under "Physical Hate Crimes", Anti-Semitic crimes are only 7% of the crimes, while Anti-Gay crimes are by far the largest number at 38%.

So, apparently, the hate-filled among us who commit crimes of violence prefer to beat up gays. Now, before we all rush out and take martial arts courses, we're still talking about a very small number of such crimes, taking all categories into account (especially in a city of 8 million).

Still, what is it about homosexuality that makes the stupid and hate-filled among us tend toward violence? Not that this was meant to be politically focused, but, as I close this entry, I can't help but think that the Republican Party and their friends around the country haven't helped things. In fact, it would be hard to argue that they've done anything but fuel more hatred.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The slippery slope

I've thought it over, and I know what's bothering me. Yesterday, with the start of bag searches on the subway (as I mentioned in my last post), I felt a bit of discomfort.

For the most part, I liked it, but it bothered me a bit, too. While I was about 90% in favor of this step, something in my brain was sounding an alarm bell.

Sure, you didn't have to submit to the search. You could just leave the station. In New York City, not having access to mass transit is no minor thing. Even so, let's say this is no big deal. We'll live with this, as everyone to whom I spoke yesterday said they're willing to do.

So what happens when the NYPD says, "a terrorist who sets off a bomb on one of our crowded streets could kill lots of people, so we're going to randomly search the bags of people on the streets"? So we collectively decided that subjecting people to searches if they want to enter the subway with their bags isn't an unreasonable search. Will we say the same thing on the street? At what point will we have to cower in our homes if we want to preserve our right to privacy? Or will that even work? Maybe homes are next.

Yes, I know I'm (probably) overreacting, but history is replete with little infringements blossoming into massive systemic repression. Fine, let the NYPD search some bags (oh, by the way, they weren't doing it at any of the other stations I was in yesterday, so I guess they told the terrorists to stick to Penn Station), but let's all be careful. I love my country--one of the reasons I love it is because my rights are respected and protected. If we're to be patriots, we must remain certain that everyone's rights are protected, even in (perhaps especially in) these trying times.

Terrorists? Yeah, we know. *yawn*

After the latest events in London, the police here decided to step up security. When I got on my train yesterday morning, the seats were covered with these:

At Penn Station, the police were stopping people with bags before they got on the subway. They had set up a table and were having people open their bags there. Of course, this cunning move would force a terrorist to blow up half a dozen police officers and all of the people crowded near the table, instead of blowing up the people on a subway car, and that's the goal, since those subway cars are expensive! *sigh*

Anyhow, with all of this going on, one might think the newspapers would be able to write something like, "the tension is palpable on New York's subways." Instead looking around during my subway ride to work, I was struck by another thought: "The indifference is palpable." Really, you've never seen a more indifferent looking group of people.

I don't want to suggest that the view of New Yorkers as cold or heartless is correct. People were wonderful to each other after 9/11, and I see regular day-to-day kindnesses. It's just that New Yorkers have managed to use their toughness to become immune to many of these scares of modern life, and I suppose that's a good thing.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Back to the old routine

Well, my beloved is sound asleep as I type this. It's back to my usual routine--so I can't even try to get some this morning. Oh well, there are other things to do for relief (although they're not as much fun!).

Waking up wasn't as easy as usual. I went to Barrage last night with Michael, Patrick, Jase, Rob and non-blogger Wayne. We celebrated my new job (well, it's not so new now, since I've been there a month and a half, but we still celebrated).

I didn't have a lot to drink, really, but I wound up getting home late, so I'm a little short on sleep at the moment. It was fun, so I guess it all evens out. Now I have to go get ready for my day--it's likely to be a long day, but that's another story. I'm so glad the weekend is upon us (even though that just means work at the other house, it's still a nice break).

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Nice to have a little extra time

This morning, I don't have to be in as early as usual. I have a 9:30am meeting away from the hospital. So Marc's just going to drop me at the train on his way to work, and I was able to sleep later than usual (to a luxurious 6:30am).

This also allows me the time to be romantic...

Me (when we woke up): "Let's play firehouse."

Marc: "Firehouse?"

Me: "Yeah. You get to be a fireman and slide down my pole."


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Nice choice, smirking chimp

So now we know whom W will nominate to the Supreme Court. Judge John Roberts, Jr., of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals was far enough to the right to be bottled up in the Senate when he was up for his current post.

Before his successful nomination in 2003, he'd been nominated on two other occasions, only to have the nomination die in the Senate each time.

Granted, I know very little about this man. He's supposed to be very smart, but he's also supposed to be just to the right of Attila the Hun. Sadly, it looks like the President didn't pick a moderate jurist whose views reflect the average American. Instead, he went with someone who will please his far right friends.

I suppose this isn't surprising, but it's sad and disappointing.

Monday, July 18, 2005

An idiot and unrelated ego boosts

This is what passes for a United States Congressman in/for/from Colorado? If terrorists attack our cities with nuclear weapons, we should attack Mecca and other Muslim holy sites? I have no idea what an appropriate response would be, but I don't think that's it. In any event, nothing good comes of saying, "Well, what if you said something like -- if this happens in the United States, and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, you know, you could take out their holy sites," no matter how much backpedaling his spokesman tried to do later. Nothing like making many more people hate us and giving our enemies proof of our evil intent. To the Muslim people of the world, please ignore this asshole. Average Americans (even the ones who voted for W) aren't like this assclown.

On happier news, I got two ego boosts today, at the start and the end of the day. I needed them, given what a hectic day it was! :) At the beginning of the day, my boss reminded me that if one of the hospital VPs stuck his nose into my work, I should remember that he doesn't outrank me. "He's a hospital VP, but you're a corporate Director. So he's on the same level as you." Well, that felt nice.

Then, this evening as I was leaving work, I ran into the network's head of nursing. This is a highly respected person in the hospital and the network. She introduced me to her new second in command. She said I was the hospital's VP of HR. I gently corrected her, saying I was a Director. Without missing a beat, she said, "Well, he should be a VP." Wasn't that nice?

Sunday, July 17, 2005

10th anniversary planning & other weekend things

We did lots of cleaning of the old house. One of these days (hopefully, very soon), it will come to an end. Other than that, we had some fun and did some work-related stuff (related to Marc's work). We began our morning with a 5K run. No, we didn't run, but, considering how slow some of the runners were, I might have done okay if I had. Marc's credit union was a main sponsor, so he was there for business, and I went as his volunteer photographer.

For a presumably athletic group of people, this was one of the least attractive groups of folks I've seen in quite a while. Actually, lots of runners (at least around here) aren't much to look at. I still haven't completely worked that out. Maybe it's all of the road dirt getting kicked up at them. Also, many of them are either skinny as a rail (those are the really fast runners) or look just moments from a massive coronary.

The icing on the cake was that, as I did my best to be a good photographer--going blocks away from any shelter to get good shots of the runners in the early part of the race--I got poured on. The weather was gray, humid and nasty all morning (in fact, when I first took the lens cap off this morning, the front filter immediately fogged over, having been at the temperature of the air conditioned vehicle we'd been riding in), but I can deal with that personally--I'll dry out. What I don't like is my expensive camera equipment getting soaked. Happily, it seems none the worse for wear.

On a happier note, we're finally getting around to inviting folks for a party on August 20th. August 17th is both Marc's birthday and the 10th anniversary of this young man dropping into his life...

Ah, how young I was... not to mention trim and with a fair amount of hair left on my head.

August 17th is a weekday this year. So we're going to have a little party at our home on the nearest Saturday, that being August 20th. At the suggestion of this young man, our dear friend Mr. PatCHy, we're going to make it a "pot luck" event. That way, we have a fair chance of keeping Marc from working in the kitchen. No guarantee, but it might work.

So watch your e-mail, kids. It's sure to be the party of the year. ;)

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Various things

Here's a glimpse into what Marc has to live with every day. This morning, we went past a new credit union branch he's involved in opening, then on to get our hair cut. On the way, Marc commented that a local church had apparently opened a coffee shop next to the church (seriously!) called "Holy Grounds".

Not being helpful at all, I said, "well, Jesus turned water into wine." Marc's used to me being this way. He replied, "that was at a wedding. It wasn't his vocation." Not to be deterred, I continued, "well, maybe he'd have made lattes, if he were here today."

In other news, the week ended with some excitement. Things have been tense at work. One of the issues has revolved around an employee whose termination we (HR) refused to back. The VP over that area was bent out of shape, but I know we were right. The employee is a bad apple, but we just don't have the proof in this case.

During an unrelated meeting yesterday, one of the department heads started telling other department heads how HR wouldn't allow the termination of an employee who had done x, y & z. I jumped in and corrected her, saying that we wouldn't allow it, because they couldn't prove it, so we were keeping it from blowing up in everyone's faces at arbitration. Well, this person kept at it.

What this really meant was that her VP--the aforementioned bent-out-of-shape VP--was talking trash about us. Later in the day, my boss and I were talking about the case. I filled him in on the conversation. In my opinion, he needed to know that we were being undermined. This is no small thing. If a VP--or a department head--is going around the hospital telling people that we won't back them up, where does that leave us? Bad enough we have to tangle with the union, but this is ridiculous.

Not the shy type, my boss (a Senior VP) called the VP. He wasn't available. Next, my boss called the department head in question and tore her a new one. Her next step? To call me and bitch. Fun things like, "I want you to know I'm going to watch what I say around you from now on."

Whatever. If she thinks I'm going to sit quietly as she trashes our work, she's mistaken. It really pisses me off. The easiest thing for me to do is let the departments do whatever they want. When an arbitrator reverses it, I could make pained noises and blame the arbitrator. Then the department has to deal with an employee with a chip on his shoulder who feels empowered by his beating us at arbitration.

But that's not the right way to do my job. Easier, yes, but not right. So I wasn't in the mood to have someone who wasn't even involved in the case trashing me, my department and my boss over it. So now I have some folks pissed at me. Oh well, that's life. I'll survive.

On a lighter note, I saw a cute ad in the subway. Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus apparently is coming back to town (a regular enough event). Any subway rider (particularly on the newer cars, where it's pre-recorded) has heard, "Stand clear of the closing doors, please." On the circus ad is a picture of a Bengal tiger, emblazoned with the words, "Stand clear of the closing jaws." It brought a needed smile to my face.

On the way home, the LIRR train was packed, so I stood by the door. Across from me stood a brand-new police recruit. I could tell this, because he had put on the floor a large stack of documents, including the NYPD "Patrol Guide", and he had an empty badge/ID holder hanging from his neck. Also, he confirmed my observation later when he was on his cell phone and spoke about the other places the NYPD wanted him to go on Monday. While standing there, I noticed this...

What's that? That's the boy's sleeve. He was wearing a new suit, and he hadn't removed a label that the "designer" (and that's a term I use loosely--it wasn't an expensive suit) had sewed to the end of the sleeve.

I stood there, wondering if I should say anything. He looked like a friendly kid (it was too soon for the NYPD to beat that out of him), but he might be embarrassed. So what was I to do? I decided to tell the kid but cast the blame elsewhere.

I leaned a little closer to him and said, sotto voce, "the place where you bought your suit didn't take off one of the labels." So there it was. You left a label on your suit, silly boy, but we'll blame someone else.

He smiled shyly and said, "I don't normally wear suits." So he still felt silly, the poor kid, but at least he now knows it needs to come off. Just as well, before some police supervisor abuses him over it, just to toughen him up. So then he looked at it and was trying to figure out how to remove it. I showed him the it was attached with a small amount of thread at each corner and that he could remove it by carefully cutting the threads. I suggested that he do it from the inside of the sleeve, so that he wouldn't risk damaging the outer fabric of the sleeve.

I suppose you're wondering if he was cute. Eh, he was okay. He was very young (maybe 22) and not bad looking but not a knockout. He had the look of a skinny Irish kid. Reddish hair and pale green eyes. Hopefully, they'll put some muscle on his frame before they let the kid on the street.

So there you have it. The highlights, such as they are, of my last 36 hours. I know, it's all so exciting that you wish you could trade places with me. :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Well, I guess the commute could have been worse, after all

I caught the 6:05pm express train home. Shortly after coming out of the tunnel that goes under the East River to get us to Long Island, there was a *pop* sound, an electrical flash I could see outside the train, a car or two further down, and then the train drifted to a stop.

After a few minutes, the conductor announced that it was a problem with the tracks that was being worked on remotely and that the train was fine. Shortly after that, the power came back on (the lights and a/c having cut out, too), and we were on our way. A little while later, we had some more problems (or so it seemed--there was no announcement this time). When we got to Jamaica, they slowly rolled us through, as someone there looked at the underside of the train.

With that, they brought us to a stop and announced that we had to back into Jamaica, as they were wrong earlier--our train was broken. So we backed in and had to leave the train.

A short time later, another train arrived. This train already was pretty full, but it was going our way, so we all crowded in. I've seen packed trains, but this was ridiculous. Two rush hour trains worth of passengers in one train. It was just lovely.

I figured it couldn't get worse. Then I got to the station and realized there was a way it could have been worse. Imagine being the owner of this Jeep and getting off the train to find it looking like this...

Okay, at least my SUV wasn't burned to a crisp. That puts things in perspective!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Pity paper

In New York, one of the free morning papers is called amNewYork. There's a guy at the Bellmore LIRR station who gives them out, offering them with "am in the AM?" (I don't know if he actually would capitalize that second "AM", but allow me some latitude. His presentation is strictly verbal.) :)

When I started commuting, I took it some days and passed on others. I already have the "newspaper of record" with me every day, but I sometimes took a look anyhow. After several weeks of seeing this man, I find myself taking his paper more and more often.

I do this to myself. I started thinking, "look at how happy he is when someone takes one," or "He looks like he's lived a hard life. How does it hurt me to just take one?"

Actually, he does look like life has been rough. He has that look of someone who has seen a rough 70 years but is only 50 years old.

amNewYork isn't too bad, but it's hardly worth carrying with me when I already have the Times. Besides, they use cheap ink that rubs off all over my fingers. But I just feel so guilty, if I say "no, thanks" to this poor man.

Am I silly or what?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Is it going to help anything?

At the Bellmore LIRR station, there was a Nassau County Police Officer. At Merrick, two of them. Of course, Penn Station is teeming with cops, soldiers, etc.

What I think at seeing all of them is, will this help? The terrorists are vicious, rabid animals, but are they stupid enough to strike a prime target like New York now? I doubt it. I would expect them to wait or to strike at some lower profile place, maybe somewhere in the Midwest. There are plenty of "softer" targets that, sadly, would still offer a high body count.

I suppose no one wants to be held accountable for not stepping things up here (and in other high-profile locations), in case something happens, but is it doing any good or could this vast expense be better used? I don't have an answer, and I don't know if anyone can answer that. I just wonder.

On top of all that, they put the more seasoned cops out there when these things happen. I suppose their experience is reassuring, but the younger ones are cuter. ;)

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Nice day for a garage sale

We got up at 6am. It's Sunday, so you can believe we meant business. We went to McDonald's for terribly nutritious steak, egg & cheese bagels. Then we headed to the "old" house and set up for the garage sale. It really was a lovely day, even if it was a little hot to be spending it outside for hours running a garage sale.

After breakfast, Jeff and I drove around the neighborhood putting up signs. I would drive to a strategically located telephone pole and stop, Jeff would hand me one of the signs and the staple-gun, and I'd jump out and post the sign. Then we go on to find another good location. Meanwhile, Marc continued to set up at the house.

I brought the camera to the garage sale, so I could get some photos of the festivities. Here are some shots from when we first set up and Marc & Jeff were putting price tags on the items:

This was my table saw. Pretty butch, huh?

The table saw was, by far, the most expensive item in the sale. We put a $50 price tag on it. A guy who lived nearby took a look at the excellent shape it was still in and didn't even haggle. He just handed me the money (as opposed to most other items which were sold below the already-low listed price). Then he asked us to put it aside, which we did, and he came back later with a wheelbarrow. Yes, a wheelbarrow! He put it up in it and walked it back home that way. This thing was not light! Talk about butch! :)

Other items were priced for just a few dollars. Some of the larger items, like the chairs, had higher prices. They were both tagged at $30, but we wound up giving one away to a neighbor.

We actually gave away several items. A girl of about 10 who lives across the street really liked this item, so Marc just gave it to her (isn't he sweet?):

The point of today's exercise was to find new homes for all of this stuff (rather than having it go to waste), but we made a few bucks, too. I used some of mine to buy these flowers for Marc:

By the way, if you're wondering, these send the following message: "I love you and spent eight bucks on you for these at Trader Joe's, so let's screw."

Yeah, my picture's next to the word "romantic" in the dictionary. ;)

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Half the fun

Today, we (Marc, the ever-reliable Jeff and I) prepared for a garage sale at the "old" house. We have a contract to sell it and hope to own it for only a few weeks more. So we're going to sell some things that we don't need to bring with us.

We went to a barbecue this evening, and now we're back home where Marc and Jeff are in the kitchen making signs to put up tomorrow for the sale. It's so funny to listen to and watch.

Marc's drawing the signs and then critiquing them. Jeff, smart man that he is, just said something like, "That's the best looking garage sale sign I've ever seen."

Well, it's soon time for bed. We want to be awake around 6am (on a Sunday! Ick!), so we can be set up over there early. The garage sale nuts kooks crazies aficionados are out early, so we need to be ready for them.

I can't wait until we own just one house!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Turning that frown upside down

During the day today, I heard that there was a "Book of Condolence" at the British Consulate here in New York. So I decided to go sign it. Looking up the address online, I found that it was nowhere near work. Even so, I figured out which trains to take and went for it at the end of the day.

I hopped the L over to Union Square, then made my way to the 6 train to head north. Remember the poetry on the Statue of Liberty? "Give me... the wretched refuse of your teeming shore"? Well, if you're looking for them, they're on the 6 train. :)

After a lovely ride, I arrived at the station at Lexington and 51st, just a block or so from the consulate. I climbed the steps out of the station, opened my umbrella and walked over to the consulate. After an overly crowded, overly long time in the New York City subway system, I was happy to be arriving at my destination, intent upon paying my respects to the British people and expressing my condolences over the tragic deaths that occurred in London yesterday.

Interesting thing--the British Consulate doesn't have its own building. Instead, it's on the tenth floor of an office building on Third Avenue.

So I walked into the office building (in front of which there were a couple of New York City Police Officers) and went to the desk.

The man there said, "yes sir, how may I help you?"
Me: "I want to sign the condolence book at the British Consulate."
Him: "They're closed."
Me (truly surprised): "Closed? How can they be closed?"
Him: "They're open from 10 to 4."
Me: "Hmmm. Okay." (What was I going to say?)

So after hearing about this thing on the news, enduring a hot, nasty trip to get there, walking through the rain and then getting turned away, I was not a happy camper. Having been turned away by a consulate that apparently keeps banker's hours (aren't they supposed to be open in case I'm a British national in need of help?), I went to catch the E train to go to Penn Station where I was to meet Jeff. He's staying over and helping us again with stuff at the old house.

The E train was very crowded, which might have accounted for some greater-than-normal contact with the bodies of my fellow passengers. It was not, however, what accounted for what happened during that ride. The man next to me (tall, curly dark hair, hazel eyes) had his hand on the same pole I did. It didn't occur to me until later that it was my failure to pull my hand away when his hand (inadvertently?) slid down and touched mine that gave him the green light for what happened next.

His hand moved back up the pole and then his crotch made a very definite connection. He smiled at me and I, quite nervously, smiled back. After getting over my shock, it was quite a lovely thrill. Even when the crowd thinned out a little bit--certainly enough to put a few inches between us--he stayed there and rubbed into me.

I have my man to come home to, so I don't need a date, but it was still a fun several minutes. Now why didn't stuff like this happen when I was single? I was sure in better shape back then, but this happens now. People really are a mystery to me, but I'm not complaining! Oh, and my bad mood from the closed consulate was completely gone.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

It lives in the basement

In one of the quieter moments of my very long workday, I went for a tour of the Pharmacy. I'm trying to learn the various parts of the hospital, so this was the latest stop.

While the Pharmacy Director was giving me the tour, we passed an area where I heard a sound keep repeating. *whoosh* *whoosh* *whoosh*

I had to ask what the sound was. "That's our robot." Sure enough, down there in the basement of the hospital lurks a large, fast-moving robot. It resides in its own room and quickly fills prescription after prescription. It's driven by orders entered into the computer system that it then matches to plastic boxes coded to make their way to the right floor, unit, room and patient.

While some other hospitals now have such beasts lurking within, I learned that we were the first in New York City to have one. It can't do everything, but it sure helps speed things along and minimize mistakes.

Oh, by the way, today marked one month at the new job. It went fast, and, despite some organizational concerns, it seems to be going well.


It can't be healthy to be awake (and doing a blog entry) at this hour! ;)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A busy day, and tomorrow starts early

My aunt's funeral took place this morning. These things are hard. My uncle Lou (my great uncle, technically) was there. This was his sister who we were burying.

I adore Lou, and it's hard seeing the years catch up with him. He's had troubles for years (he's well into his 80s), but he's always been the type who won't let ailments slow him down. Today, I could see that he was noticeably stooped. Knowing him, he must really be hurting. His other half, Ann, said he wasn't going to be able to stand for the service (it was to be graveside, and we don't usually sit for such things--we stand with the Rabbi). In other words, they were thinking he'd have to sit nearby in their car and not be right at the graveside.

I said to Ann, "so he'll sit for the service." In our traditions, health comes first, but I think they felt somewhat unsure of how to handle things. Oh, and to make things tougher, the people at the cemetery didn't have a single folding chair to offer.

So I got a box from the funeral director (a "shiva box"--another story, but it did the trick). Then everyone was concerned that: 1) it was unstable on the grass, and 2) it would be hard for him to get up from it since it was so low to the ground.

So I said, "Fine, so I'll stand behind him and he'll lean on me, and I'll help him up when it's over."

For heaven's sake, this man has always been there when people needed him, be it his family or his country (for what it's worth, he's a World War II veteran, having served as a "Tin Can Sailor" on destroyers in the Pacific theater). Focusing more on the part where he was there for his family, how could I not do this minor thing for him? My family is comprised of pretty good folks overall, but I couldn't understand how they all spaced out on this wonderful man's need for help this morning.

Anyhow, as I made clear that he wasn't going to be kept from paying his respects to his sister, I glanced over and saw tears in Ann's eyes. She then came rushing over and hugged me. As great as that made me feel, it really wasn't a big deal for me to do this.

When the funeral was over, Ann hugged and kissed me and said, "thank you for being you." Like my ego wasn't big enough already. ;) But it really made me feel good.

Oh, and the fun at work today? We're going to seek the protection of the bankruptcy court. Despite issues this creates, it should be good overall. It will help the network survive and will protect my hospital. Some of the smaller pieces of the network have been losing huge amounts of money. So this may be just what we need to get the ship on an even keel.

Tomorrow, my first meeting is at 7am. To get there in time, that means I have to be up around 4:30am. Needless to say, it will be a long day.

Quite a day

So, it's about 8am, and I'm still at home. This hasn't been the case on a workday since I started the new job. Normally, I'm at the office by now.

Today is different. My aunt--actually my great aunt (she was my Mom's aunt)--died this weekend. So I have to attend her funeral this morning.

In the meantime, I'm trying to keep control of work things by remote control. I have to go to the funeral, of course, but this isn't a great day to be away from the office. There is a major announcement coming. It will upset a lot of people at work, and I want to be there to do damage control.

It shouldn't be a threat to my job, but it will shake the place up. I'd tell you more now, but I can't say anything yet. Soon enough!

On a positive note (although a minor one, compared to the rest of this), one more finishing touch on the new house is occurring today. We're getting new concrete poured. We're replacing some cracked/broken slabs, as well as putting in a new walk in the back. So that's good.

On that note, I need to go make myself some breakfast. I hope everyone has a great day!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Happy July 3rd!

It's a little known fact that the Founding Fathers went out for some heavy drinking on July 3, 1776. It makes sense, if you think about it. If you were going to essentially invite a war from the most powerful monarch on earth, you'd probably go get trashed, too.

So Jefferson, Adams and the rest of the boys had a big barbecue, invited their friends and drank to excess. In that spirit, we celebrate July 3rd, Independence Day Eve. :)

Jeff and Marc start the marinated skirt steaks

The boys pose for a shot

We know how to be true patriots, so Jeff mixed up sour apple martinis as I got the grill fired up. While you see Jeff and Marc in these photos, I'm actually the grillmaster around here, so I took over once I was done taking a couple of photos.

To go with the steaks, Marc made corn on the cob and sauteed string beans. We also had some lovely french bread, and I had a delicious Stewart's Diet Orange Cream soda to go with my meal. Marc picked some up today, and it's delicious. We'll definitely be getting more.

More drinks and some dessert are coming. It's a fun evening.

So Happy July Third, everyone! I hope you're all having fun this weekend!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

A pretty good couple of days

Yesterday, we (that being all of us at my new place of employment) finished our visit from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO, an acronym that we in the business pronounce "Jay-co"). I am happy to say that we were fully accredited (the alternatives being "Conditional Accreditation" which requires a follow-up visit) or failure (which I've never actually seen happen at a hospital around here).

So that's done, and my department came through without a scratch. While I can't take much credit for this, since I've only been there for four weeks and most of the prep was done before I arrived, it's still "my" department and, as such, I'm happy we didn't have any problems.

With that behind us, I felt like this long weekend would be nice and relaxing. So far, it has turned out to be just that. It's only Saturday morning, but I've already had a nice weekend. Marc made us pancakes for breakfast which I ate in the sunroom. Then we opened up the Times and sat out there, with some music coming from the Bose system, reading the paper.

After a couple of hours of that, we're going to start the rest of our day. I've had some indication that a little playtime may be heading my way (always a nice thing), after which we will go do some errands. Exciting things like a trip to the upholsterer's and Petco await us.

Jeff may come to visit us tomorrow afternoon. Also, a certain Pony is somewhere in the area. I know this, because I felt a disturbance in the force. Also, he told me he would be. :) I've left him a couple of messages but haven't heard back yet. If I do, we may get to meat meet him.

This weekend is looking good. Even the weather is nice. I hope everyone has a great weekend! And do be sure to say hi if you're in the neighborhood! :)