What are we talking about today?

Normal topics suspended for the A to Z Challenge. It's all books from April 1-30.

If you're here from the A to Z Challenge hoping I'll comment back if you comment first: Sorry to disappoint, but that probably won't happen. I work full-time and I grad school full-time, so I can't give the time to blog commenting that I would like. I'll visit after the end of the semester, I hope.

28 April 2008

I'd have been surprised if he were preaching.

So at the beginning of church yesterday, I went to the powerpoint "area" to greet Sharlan and Ruth, as I normally do. I don't think I ever ended up greeting either of them, because there were so many people there to say hello to, including Charlie. So while I was standing about chitchatting, I noticed that Charlie was getting armed with a microphone, and I asked him, "Are you leading singing this morning?" (Just call me Captain Obvious.)

Now, I'm sure I've mentioned Charlie and Toni before (we spent Thanksgiving with them). They are among my favourite people on the entire planet. If I can be like Toni when (if) I grow up, I will consider my life's goals achieved. They are such amazing people, and if you haven't met them yet, that is so very sad for you.

In "real life", Charlie is the Lubbock Christian School band director. As such, songleading is not really much of a stretch for him. And since he is good at it, and he obviously enjoys it (either that, or he missed his true calling in life and should be an actor), it makes the whole song service that much more enjoyable for me. Generally speaking, I am not fussy about who is leading the singing; South Plains has a couple dozen songleaders, and I pretty much like them all equally well. But Charlie is a friend as well as being very musically talented, so if I ever get so bored as to rank the songleaders in order of preference, he'll be pretty near the top.

What is also nice is Charlie and Toni are front-row people, and since Chad and I are also front-row people, we sort of sat together yesterday morning. (They were at one end of the row, we were at the other; I didn't say we are flexible front-row people.)

Enough, already.

The general election is just over six months away (November 4 is freedom day), but since this presidential election cycle started the day after the 2004 general election, and really started to pick up steam after the midterms in 2006, I just don't think November 4th can come soon enough. Come on, people. Let's just get this over. I've always considered myself to be patriotic, but once this rigmarole is all finished with, I think I may move to Mexico. At least there I won't be able to understand when an election is even happening.

27 April 2008

Whose job was it to bring the milk?

So I went to a women's retreat on Friday.

It wasn't so much a retreat, really, since it was just an event that lasted from 6-10 PM and then we all went home. But that's what it was called.

Anyway! I'm generally opposed to women's events at church, because they tend to range from "a bit tedious" to "mind-crushingly dull", with strong hits of "girly", "frilly" and "emotionally taxing". I don't know why women's events have to be this way, and it is for this reason that I make every effort available to me to make sure my own women's event does not dissolve into cheap psychotherapy with lashings of tears and the decimation of several hundred boxes of Kleenex.

But this one wasn't one of those. For starters, we had four different speakers. Each of them was a woman who goes to South Plains (in other words, someone we already know). Not a one of them is known for her cheesy-ness, dullness, or crying fits. They were all excellent speakers, who made their points very well and then left the rest of us to talk about it. It was really, really good.

Of course, no evening with me would be complete without me really annoying as many people as possible; this time, I managed to do it anonymously. I made the suggestion several weeks ago that we do something about mixing everyone up, so that we didn't all end up sitting with the same people we sit with every time we have an event (you know, like Sunday morning worship service). The organisers took this suggestion to heart, and colour-coded the tables and nametags. This caused several women (grown women, mind you) to cause quite a stir when they arrived to discover they would be expected to sit a whole ten feet from their best friends for an entire four hours. Somehow, the woman in charge managed to convince them all to act their ages and make nice with people they already know anyway. (It is a bit disconcerting how many grown-up teenagers we have kicking around.) At the end, she (the woman in charge) explained that it was at the request of "some of the younger women" that we were all jumbled up in this way, but she didn't give away that it was me, so my secret identity is safe for now.

No boxes of Kleenex were harmed in the staging of this retreat. But I did have a cup of tea that wasn't very good.

26 April 2008

Where's my shirt?

You know, for all the people who have been harassing me to post more often, there has been curiously little activity in my comments. I suppose I haven't written much worth commenting about.

So, this is the final installment in my three-part series about my aim t-shirt. Previously on Life Of My Shirt, I mentioned that my aim t-shirt became a workout t-shirt in April of 2002, which it remains to this day. I've noticed at recent aim events that aim is now producing LOTS of workout shirts. They come in every colour imaginable, in various styles; you can get them in sign, in Greek, and in old aim logos. They might start to rival Nike and Reebok one of these days for their production of workout shirts.

Seriously, there seems to be no lack of things we can put aim logos on. Bible covers. Mugs (I have one of those; it sits on a shelf and I've never used it). There are probably some hat-and-scarf sets out there somewhere (or they are in the works). Backpacks. I wonder if they have a "newlywed" line yet whereby the young couple, in lieu of monogrammed towels and tablecloths, can have the aim logo put on them instead. You know that would be an instant hit.

I don't think this is a bad idea, although I've reached a point in my life where I would not use anything aim-logoed in my day-to-day life, apart from the infamous shirt. In fact, I distinctly remember, as a young aim student, suggesting to the aim secretary that we should put the aim logo on more things (specifically, I was talking about getting an aim watch).

I: Aim should make like, watches and stuff with our logo on it. We could put it on more things than just shirts and stationery.
Amy: Who would buy it?
I: Aim students, aim parents, ex-aimers, future aimers.
Amy: I don't think so, Susan.

For the record: Boy, was I right. (Sorry, Amy.)

I could still do with an aim watch.

23 April 2008

Missing in Action

So there is an episode of NCIS, previously mentioned, in which McGee wears an MIT t-shirt. During the filming of said episode, Sean Murray noticed in the mirror that his shirt spelled "Tim", which is his character's first name. Apparently, Sean Murray was quite excited about this.

I had a similar experience the first time I wore my brand-new AIM t-shirt; in the mirror, "AIM" spells "MIA", which, for the acronym-impaired, stands for missing in action. At the time, I laughed hysterically at how appropriate it was. And there has been nothing in the intervening 12 years to change my mind about that.

(For more of the exciting story of my AIM t-shirt, continue reading.)

It's the shirt

I have owned three AIM t-shirts; two of them were given to me as a student (one in each year). I never wore either of them after I left Lubbock, and I gave them both away long before I graduated from aim.

I got the third one my first weekend as an aim (can't be bothered capitalising every time) assistant. We were talking about the aim students' first day, Jason mentioned that we would all need to wear our aim t-shirts. Which prompted this conversation:

I: I don't have an aim t-shirt.
Aim Assistants (AAs): General gasp of shock.
Jason: What happened to your t-shirt?
I: I gave it away. Both of them, actually.
AAs: Repeat gasp of shock.
Benjy or Scott (don't remember which one, but it was certainly one of them): You gave it away?
I: Yeah.
B or S: Why?
I: My whole team did. We all gave them to people who were important to us.
AAs: Giving me a blank stare.
I: Look, I can tie my aim certificate around my neck if you want, because that's the only thing I own that says "Aim."
Jason (probably feels the conversation is straying from the purpose at hand): Okay, I'll get you another t-shirt Saturday morning.
I: Thanks.

And, the conversation only got better on Saturday:

Jason: Which size do you need?
I: Medium.
Jason: Are you sure?
I: Yeaaaah. (Adding a couple of syllables to the word, in a way that I hope indicates "Let's not have a conversation about what size I am, okay?")
Jason (gets it): Okay.

I still have the debated t-shirt; the day after my second aim class left for the field, it became a workout shirt. And as a result, the t-shirt has been a feature at two (at least) West Texas Running Club races. And it still fits just as well as it did eight years ago.

21 April 2008

It's a tough job, but...

So at work the other day, I was clearing out the "new" visits.

These are visits that we have in our system, waiting for charges to be put into them so they can then be billed to the insurance/patient/both. We get some that hang around for a while, though, because a patient didn't come in but wasn't removed from the schedule, or because I didn't know there was already a visit in place and created a new one when I billed the visit, or because I missed the visit altogether when billing out the charges for a particuar day. Whatever the reason, there are always visits hanging around that I have to go back and check on from time to time.

The first time I did the clearing-out, my supervisor explained it to me like this: "This is a job... (pause)."
I: That no one else wants to do?
She: No. Well, yes. But I was going to say it's something we have to do from time to time.
I: But no one wants to do it, so it hasn't been done in a while.
She: Right. I think there are a lot in there.


She was right; on that first venture, there were tons, some dating back a few years. But it didn't take me long to clear them out, and I've done it once a month ever since. My successor in this job had better appreciate that.


But really, I don't know why no one wanted to do it. It's fun for me. I get to look things up, figure things out, and wonder what on earth I thought I was doing on that particular day. I've never understood, not since that first time, why this is a job no one wants to do.

This is the price I pay for being anal.

20 April 2008

First Place

Here's the short version: We ran a 15 K yesterday (9.32 miles), our longest race distance to date, and I came home with a first-place medal. (Yes, I was the only one in my age group.)

So this race was actually a lot of fun. We've been training on hills for a few weeks specifically in preparation for this race, and it certainly paid off. The first hill tired me out, but then it was pretty early on-- not even mile 2-- and my legs weren't quite up to speed yet. There were two hills in the final two miles. I've spent the last couple of weeks dreading those two hills, but you know what? They weren't hard at all. All that needless worrying. :)

Long version (can't say you weren't warned):
So anyway, I must give full credit to my faithful iPod, which is what got me through the race and into a very satisfactory 11:11 pace (for a 1:44:06 finish). I stayed up later than I should have done on Friday night, getting all my favourite songs in order at the top of my playlist, because I knew I would need them. Unfortunately for Chad, this meant his race was punctuated with my saying, "I love this song!" every few minutes. (There's nothing stopping him from getting his own iPod to tune me out.) This also meant that I got up later than I probably should have done before the race, so I ended up eating a bowl of oatmeal only 30 minutes before race time. But, I learned the (unfortunately) hard way last month that skipping breakfast on race day is a bad, bad idea. Actually, apart from a short-lived side stitch, the oatmeal didn't bother me too much, so I was pretty happy about that.

So, here's the 15 K playlist:

Ready to Run (I'm not actually that wild about this song, but it seemed apt)
Wonderwall (I would not dare run a race without this song; it pulls me through long training runs, and gives me a boost in every race.)
Salt and Light (LCU's Best Friends version from a few years ago)
What if I Stumble (also seemed apt)
Super Trouper (gotta have my Abba)
Waterloo (ditto; also apt)
Driftwood (I just like this one)
There She Goes (made me smile around mile 5)
I Am Persuaded (Robin Mark makes everything easier)
Phoenix from the Flames (I'm really not sure why I put this one on, but it helped)

I actually had a lot more in the queue, but these got me from mile 2 to mile 6, and then I was ready to listen to my feet hit the pavement for a mile or two. Chad dropped off from my pace at about 7.5 miles, so I was running solo. That close to the finish, I needed some extra motivation (especially since I was looking at the afore-mentioned hills), so I put the earbuds back in, and started over with Wonderwall. Just before mile 8, I caught up with the woman who had been ahead of us the entire race. This is one of many reasons I could never be a serious competitive runner; I feel really bad passing someone who has been ahead of me for most of the race. It's like I feel they deserve to finish better than me because they've had a faster race overall. The fact that I've done it to several different people in just about every race we've run (all except for the one when I finished dead last) doesn't stop the pangs of guilt from coming over me every time. :)

Anyway! Waterloo started playing when I was a block from the finish, so the aptly-placed song became even more so. Coming in so late, there was a huge crowd at the finish line to cheer me in; the combination of the cheers, the song, a glimpse of my time, and the sight of a camera pointing at me for my finish-line photo was enough for me to smile as I crossed the line. (That doesn't guarantee a good picture; the last time I smiled for the camera, I just looked like I was in pain. Which I was.) Chad came in a minute later, chasing (and passing-- he doesn't have any guilt) the woman I had already passed, sprinting to the finish to the cheers of the assembled runners. It really was a brilliant finish-- and then he got some water and sat down, and didn't move again for about 10 minutes.

I have to admit I was gobsmacked when they called my name for a medal; I didn't look at the posted results to try to guess my place like I usually do, because I was busy getting water and an orange before the awards. I didn't feel like passing out this time around like I did last month; I felt really good at the end of the race. I still feel really good actually, even though I am ridiculously sore.

Yeah, okay, this is getting long enough for three posts. Hope you haven't fallen asleep reading it. If you made it this far, you deserve a medal; but you can't have mine!

17 April 2008

I love McGeek!

So we've been watching a lot of NCIS lately.

Chad likes to do this to me: he'll bombard me with excessive amounts of a TV show (past winners: The West Wing, Stargate, Scrubs, CSI) and then act all surprised when I get addicted. So this time, in advance, I'd like to tell the world that it is CHAD'S fault that I am now completely booked up on Tuesday nights at 7 for the next few weeks.

So, if you don't watch the show, that's just sad for you. If you do, you understand the title of my post. I would like, at this time, to clarify that I do not have a celebrity crush on Sean Murray. I do, however, love me some McGee. I moan when he is wrong (quite often) and cheer when he is right. I offer him my sympathy when Gibbs hits him on the head. (I celebrate when Gibbs hits DiNozzo.) I wish he'd stop carrying a torch for Abby, who is clearly not interested. I love that his MIT t-shirt spells "TIM" in the mirror. If McGee were a real-life person, I'd invite him over for dinner and try to set him up with my sister. So I suppose it's as well that he is not.

I like all the other characters, too. I love Ziva's idiom difficulties (because lots of things drive me up the hall). Tony the walking Blockbuster keeps me guessing as to what on earth he's talking about (being the non-movie buff that I am). Abby is just delightful-- I am thinking about trying black lipstick & nail polish myself. I would happily listen to Ducky ramble on about whatever he likes. Palmer (aka McGee Jr.) is just too cute to be believed. Jenny... okay, Jenny I'm not as into as everyone else. And let's not forget the late lamented Kate. And finally, Gibbs himself... I'm glad I don't work for him, but it's lots of fun to watch him boss other people around. And the more often he smacks Tony on the head, the happier it makes me. Although I still say his mother hated him already: who would name her child Leroy Jethro?

06 April 2008

New Mess

So I've been AWOL again (or UA, if you prefer, although I still haven't worked out what that stands for), with our packing and moving frenzy. We are now in the new apartment, with all of our stuff, although getting it all into order is proving problematic thus far. We gave away a TON of stuff before this move (a desk, a couch & chair, five bags to goodwill), and we still have far more things than two people could possibly need. Plus, some friends who moved before we did gave us some furniture. So we have no lack of places to put things, just an overabundance of things.

Anyway! So to go with my nice laptop, we now have wireless internet (comes free with the apartment). I have to say, it is pretty cool. I am certainly enjoying it thus far.

Unfortunately, I have nothing of much interest to share. Which is another reason that I haven't blogged recently-- I mean, who wants to hear all the details of packing and moving?

We have a race in two weeks, though. Always a crowd favourite. In the meantime, Chad and I are cycling to church this morning, so I'd better go wake him up.

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