March 6, 2015

That’s what I call working overtime

by Janie Jones

According to Strange, your body is creating and killing 15 million red blood cells per second.  And, in case that tidbit leads to you wonder, as it did me, Wikipedia says adults have about 20-30 trillion red blood cells at any given moment.



March 5, 2015

Thursday Quote Du Jour: There’s something in the water

by Janie Jones

In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria.
-Benjamin Franklin


Hmmm,  yes.  But in wine and beer there is fungus poop.

March 4, 2015

Ooooh, that hurt

by Janie Jones

So, last night after a somewhat late training meeting at work, I was getting into the car, happy the meeting got done early and eager to get home and into bed.  As I called goodbye over my shoulder to a coworker, I pulled the car door open, an activity I’ve done thousands upon thousands of times in my car driving years.

For some reason, this time was different.

As I turned back to the car, suddenly something pointy smacked right into my left cheekbone.  I might have cried out, I’m not really sure.  It happened very fast and I was taken completely by surprise.

Through the haze of shock, pain and wonder, I  realized it was the one sharp point on the whole door.   I had managed to simultaneously turn into it as I pulled the door open.  Then, all I could do was laugh.  Well, it was either that or cry; it hurt really badly.

The coworker, who didn’t actually see what happened was very alarmed and came running over asking what happened.  I gave a somewhat hysterical and jumbled explanation while gasping from laughter over my stupidity and unusual level of clumsiness.  And she reassured me I wasn’t bleeding, but even in the dim light of the parking lot she could see a bruise already forming.

Feeling like an idiot I said, “Now people will think I’ve been in a bar fight.  They will have a whole different opinion of me now.”

She laughed with me and asked if I was going to be okay.  As I wasn’t bleeding, I had to presume I was, or would be, once I got over the embarrassment and affront to my dignity.  But, I tell you what, that really smarted.  All the way home.  Back at the house, and then I finally feel asleep to the stinging throb of my poor face.

Last night there was a roughly quarter-sized red welt with few ruptured capillaries visible.  I applied my favorite all purpose topical cream, Preparation H, to keep the hemorrhaging down and hopefully help numb the pain.  And, let me tell you, that stung, boys and girls.

This morning the welt is a little angrier looking, but still mostly red.  No black and blue.  And, it now it mostly feels tight from the swelling, as long as I don’t bump or touch the area.  I tried to take a photo, but the light washes out the ugliness, so you will just have to imagine me with a big red bump under my eye.

I don’t really know whether or not to be glad it’s not black and blue, as it is, now it sort of resembles a giant, headless zit.

March 3, 2015

Tuesday Titters: Can’t resist a good joke about ohms.

by Janie Jones
Q: What is the name of the first electricity detective?

A: Sherlock Ohms

March 2, 2015

Before I caught the plague…

by Janie Jones

Hello all.

I am feeling much better, and even though I’m still clearing out the congestion, overall I consider myself over the cold.  Thanks to everyone for the well wishes, I was miserable, and it was nice to have some kind words.

But, before I became ill I had been meaning to share a book referral with you.  You see, the Friday before I became so dreadfully sick, I stumbled upon a book.  The campus often has these clearance book sales where you can find new books for next to nothing.  So, passing by one day I stopped for a quick browse to see what was on offer.  And this is what I found:

“A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life” by John Kralik

I don’t know why it caught my eye, except perhaps because I am a thank you letter writer.  I always write thank you letters when people send me gifts, and I make my daughter do so, too.  Despite my habit, I get very few thank you letters.  I remember being a kid and being made to write thank you letters, but the expectation was you only had to write if you weren’t actually handed the present face to face.  It was implied you didn’t need a thank you letter if you thanked the person when they handed you the gift.  However, as I got older, some times I felt compelled to send thank you notes for things given when it wasn’t my birthday or holiday, regardless of whether I was handed the gift in person.  Sometimes I do get angry when I send people things and I don’t get a thank you or any acknowledgement of the receipt of what I sent.

So, it seems in our society today there is a distinct lack of the need or even the duty to say thank you.  And, seeing that title perhaps I was curious to know what Mr. Kralik had to say on the subject.  I bought the book, which was on sale for less than I pay for a soda at the school store, and read straight through it that Friday night.  I found it touching and thoroughly engaging.

Apparently Mr. Kralik’s story has motivated lots of other people to enter a campaign to write a thank you note every day.  While I think it is a little extreme perhaps to write a thank you note to the Starbuck’s clerks, it does bring up the subject of just really recognizing how you affect the world around you.  If you notice people and their actions, just maybe they will start paying more attention to you.

Even though I am a very private person and don’t much enjoy living in a crush of other humans with constant companionship every hour of the day (I don’t have Facebook, or Twitter, and most days I don’t bother to turn off the sound on my phone because it’s pretty unusually I get an unexpected call or text) I do still think it is important to have a community of people who you belong to, and who you can count on.  As my life has changed over the years I have always felt frustrated that I didn’t feel I fit into the communities I found myself immersed in, and what I think I’m realizing is that there are a lot of phoney people out there.  They want you to dote on them but they have absolutely no interest in you or gratitude for your thoughtfulness, or even any knowledge of how much it might cost you emotionally, mentally or spiritually to be there for them.

Sure, I don’t always thank everyone every day.  But the communities of people who I do care about most I try to acknowledge their support and what they mean to me as often as I can.  Perhaps I should work harder at doing that.  But, I might be more inclined if they reciprocated.

Of all the communities I belong to, I have to say the blog community has been one of the most important in my life these last several years.  You come back to read my drivel, you leave uplifting comments, and you seem to care for no other reason than you care.  And for this I am so grateful and honored.

Perhaps though it is easier to be humbled and grateful to blog friends, people who only see the true self.  In my day to day life I end up wearing only certain faces.  I build walls to protect myself.  I portray qualities and beliefs that will smooth my interactions and limit confrontation and chaos.  So, people I see in school see the organized, intelligent, striving, scholarly self, most times masking the panicked, neurotic one-step-away-from-nervous-breakdown self.  Closer friends see mostly the panicked, neurotic one-step-away-from-nervous-breakdown self and the fun-loving, snarky, self-confident Janie has been withering away.  Or some times I just pull away so they see nothing and there is no pity or disgust over how I’ve changed, because even people you love sometimes get tired of your drama.  And, let’s face it, a lot of times that is what dominates the blog as well.  But, I can also share more intimate feelings and somehow know even if they aren’t fully understood, I won’t be abandoned or judged.

Well, in any event, there’s some serious food for thought.  Writing thank you notes should be a duty, but, what I think we can take away from Mr. Kralik is that if you put just a little effort into going beyond the duty and thinking about that person, thinking about what it means to have people in your life that do actually contribute to your happiness, your health and your well fare, then you should pause and acknowledge that.  And, when you do tell someone thank you, even for a little thing, it can mean a whole lot to everyone.  When people sense you value them, sometimes that makes people want to continue to feel valued and respected and so they value you back.  It can be a wonderful catch 22.

I think there are a lot of things to be grateful for.  Although, somewhat shamefully, I must admit, I lose track of them every day, because let’s face it, life is hard.  Life is not fair.  Life is full of those unexpected events you can’t always be prepared for.  But when you have a community around you that notices you and how hard you work, even on the simple things that everyone expects, well, it makes some of those trials just a little easier to face, and it can definitely make the ordinary a little more extraordinary.

So, if you have the opportunity to pick up this book, I would recommend it.  It’s a quick read, and a slog through Mr. Kralik’s personal dramas, but as I said above I found it riveting and felt that there was something refreshing in his honesty about his failings and his effort to better himself.

And now my friends, I have to go to school.  May you have a good Monday.

Thanks for reading.

March 1, 2015

Laundromats, generous gentleman, random albino ferret, lost stocking, co-op membership, and mimosas-and all for naught

by Janie Jones

A strange combination of events led to a surprisingly pleasant Saturday.

As there was the need to wash laundry and a lack of functioning washing machines in my life last week, I decided to try and make the best of the situation.  I called my visually impaired friend Peggy who’s back living in the Big City and also has no washing machines at her disposal.  I suggested if she had some laundry in need of washing we make an outing of it.  Seeing as she can’t drive, a trip to the laundromat involves either walking all her clothes and supplies a dozen blocks down the street to the nearest laundromat or taking a bus, she readily agreed to the free ride and companionship.  We decided to meet at 9:30am yesterday and we planned to get brunch afterward.

The weirdness then commenced, but in the most surprisingly pleasant way.  Normally I loathe laundromats.  They seem counter-intuitive.  Every one I’ve ever been in has either been filthy dirty or just so run down you wonder how any clothes actually get clean.  And then, the cross-section of Americana I’ve seen there tends to provide little to re-assure me.

As Peggy has lived in the Big City for something like 7 years, most of which she was laundromat dependent, I asked her where she thought best to go, and followed her lead.  But first she asked if we could stop at the Co-op because she needed laundry detergent and she preferred to buy the ecologically friendly kind sold there.  I certainly had no problem with this pit stop, especially as we had to drive right past to get to the laundromat anyway.

While Peggy made her purchase, I stopped to ask about getting my own membership and found that it was surprisingly affordable and would give me more benefits than just membership there.  Apparently there’s many other businesses in the Big City which give you discounts if you show your Co-op membership, several of which are places I already frequent. On top of that, being as I’m certifiably poor, I get an additional discount by flashing my poor person credentials.  So, I happily bought a bunch of organic produce and left quite pleased.

We finally arrived at the laundromat, and while it was a little cleaner and in better repair than most laundromats of my previous experience, it didn’t take long for the host of weirdos to descend.  As they began swapping stories of recent jail time and drug related charges, I distracted myself from their stench of illegal smoking substances and barely intelligible conversation by having a heart attack at the prices to wash and dry clothes.

I was going to do a white and a dark load of clothes, which would have cost $8.00, and drying would have been extra, at $2.25 for 45 minutes of drying time.  I had bought a roll of quarters thinking one roll should be plenty, as the last time I had to use a laundromat it was $1 to wash and $0.75 to dry per load.  Now I was worried I wouldn’t have enough.  Peggy told me they had an exchange machine where I could always buy tokens for the laundry machines, but being a cheapskate and having just plunked down some cash for Co-op membership and knowing there was brunch to follow, my pocket book could be heard quietly whimpering in my handbag.  So I combined my two loads, the horror of mingling together whites and darks be damned.  It still cost $7.50 all told to do my one week’s worth of clothing and two towels.  But, my one roll of quarters held the day with a few to spare.

Peggy and I took seats on the opposite end of the ‘mat from the weirdos so we’d have some privacy and I would be able to avoid staring at the appearance of an albino ferret on some woman’s shoulder, and settled in for a cozy girl chat while our laundry suds-ed, spun and tumbled dry.  Near the end of our adventure, a normal-looking older gentleman began hovering next to us and looking right at us while we gabbed.  So I stopped talking and looked at him.  He continued to look back and I cautiously smiled.

He then said in somewhat of an embarrassed rush, “I’m not trying to hit on you, but do you come here often?  Hahaha.  I don’t, and last time I came I had a bunch of extra laundry tokens I bought out of the machine and I didn’t need all my tokens so I’ve had a bunch left from last time weighing down my pockets.  I still have one left after today and I thought if you come here often you might be able to make better use of it.”

Peggy made a comment about not generally coming here very often and I said I’d never been before, but he already was trying to hand me a token.  So, almost automatically, I took it from him.  I noticed it said $1.  So I said, “Oh, my, is this a dollar token?”

“Yes, but I don’t think I’ll be back and I don’t want to carry it around.”

“Well, I don’t usually have to use the laundromat myself, but my laundry machine just broke at home so I may need to come back after all.”

“Good then.”   He said, “You’ll make use of it.  I wasn’t trying to hit on you really.”

I smiled and laughed and said, “Oh, I understand.  But we sure all got a good laugh out of it didn’t we?  Thanks for the token.  You have a great day.”  And he laughed and said good bye.

Peggy and I looked at each other, and I stuck the token in my pocket book, and said, “Well, that was nice.  A little strange, but nice.”  It did occur to me that this was a pretty pleasant laundromat experience after all.  I mean how often do you see albino ferrets and sweet old men give you dollar laundry tokens?  He could have easily given it to the group of weirdos who looked more in need of charity than me and Peggy.  Then again, I wouldn’t approach the weirdos if I could help it, either, no matter how charitable I felt.

By then our clothes were done and we began to pack up.  That’s when I realized one of my socks had gone MIA.  I checked all around the inside of the dryer, and the floor and the washer, but I think one of the weirdos had used the washer while our clothes were drying, so they might have ended up with a rogue sock.  But, I was already thinking of brunch, besides, what could I do?  It was just a sock, and if I wasn’t willing to approach the weirdos and offer them a free laundry token, I certainly wasn’t about to ask if they found my missing sock.  Maybe I got that laundry token as compensation.  Karma is funny that way.

So Peggy and I went off for brunch and on a lark we both decided to order Mimosas.  They were a little stronger than I expected, but tasty.  I got this delicious pecan pancake with maple Marscapone cream and a side of heavenly bacon.  The place was a little busy so we had a while to wait for our food, but that was okay because we had Mimosas.  We lingered a while after our food, too.  Just because it was really relaxing and well, did I mention we had Mimosas?

After sitting there about an hour and a half the waitress came and asked if we’d like another Mimosa.  I, having to be able to drive, declined, but I did say to Peggy that if I had to continue to do the laundromat thing for a while, I could get used to making a girls-day-out thing out of it.  I mean, everything seems better through a gentle Mimosa haze.

When I felt I’d eaten enough and sat long enough to wear off any potentially compromising champagne, I took Peggy home.  Then it was back to the place in town where I have my room, and that’s when I found out that the washing machine there was fixed.  Apparently it was just that the socket had a surge protector fuze thing and it had been tripped.  Once the handy roommate figured that out and reset the fuze in the outlet the machine was back in business.

So my expensive excursion to the Co-op, laundromat and brunch was pretty much for naught.  Although I can’t complain because it was one of the most enjoyable Saturday mornings I’ve spent in quite a long while.  And I now have a nifty $1 laundromat coin as a souvenir and I have a Co-op membership that will save me money going forward.

I guess if you look at it from a silver lining perspective, I should actually be grateful to the Universe for the twist of fate that caused both laundry machines to be out of order last week.  Otherwise, I’d have never had such a wonderful day or such a bizarre and convoluted story to share.

February 27, 2015

So far, this is all Friday has going for it

by Janie Jones

So the universe apparently doesn’t want me to have clean clothes.  The washing machine at the farm broke down on me last Saturday, as you may recall.  Yesterday I went to do some laundry in the machines in the house I’m living in in town.  And, lo and behold, the washing machine here wouldn’t run at all.

So, I had some soup, and decided to call it a day early again, in hopes I could wake up this morning returned to my pre-cold vim and vigor.  Or at least be regularly worn out and not sick and worn out.

But the room mate who likes to have guests stay in the extra basement room decided again to have company last night without giving me any notice.  I won’t go into the details, but it interrupted my night and when I did finally fall back to sleep, I slept fitfully dreaming of people barging in on me in all sorts of ways and situations until my alarm went off.

So I am quite glad it’s Friday for Friday’s sake, as I have the weekend off and I can try to rest some more and catch up on the ever present mountain of homework.

But, if we are trying very hard to find silver linings, I can also be glad that today I finished the two boxes of nasty breakfast cereal I bought on sale and have been choking down every morning for the last couple weeks.

See, I don’t always have to complain.  I can find things to be happy about even with a headache, disrespectful roommates, and being broke.

Happy Friday to you, in what ever ways it turns out to be special.