End-of-November Roundup

‘Tis the end of November, and all through the blog, not a text post was stirring, not even a blurb.

  1. Thanksgiving was pretty good. It was just my mother and I, and a curious but tasty “turkey roast.” We ate a delicious meal (I brought a pumpkin pie), watched Dante’s Peak, and pulled in her boxes of Christmas goodies. And I got to play with Gunner, her adorable German Shepherd puppy. Meanwhile, Ryan and the crumb crunchers went back to the east side of the state for the weekend.
  2. I learned that my dad needs major surgery soon. I have to give him a call.
  3. … And I, myself, have been not-so-hot. For a while now I haven’t felt all that good; I’ve been tired a lot, and increasingly unable to focus, I’ve been more moody than usual, and my weight has been creeping up again. Wondering if our old family demon, the wicked banshee Hypothyroidism, is rearing its ugly head. I’m setting an appointment tomorrow for a complete physical with full blood work.
  4. Evenings have been spent doing a fair amount of writing work for Demand Studios. On the upside, if I get into a rhythm, I can net the equivalent of $30 per hour churning out rebranded articles for ehow.com and answerbag.com. On the downside, I have to get into a rhythm or my effective hourly rate-of-return sinks to the $10 level. Ugh.
  5. Haven’t seen much of my friends since “bad musical” night – mostly because I’ve been too exhausted to set things up. Haven’t seen Tony in a while. I did set aside time to have coffee with Alejandro two weeks ago, and Charlie yesterday, and I had lunch last week with Kate, but that’s about it. My social motivation is at an all-time low.
  6. Life at the hospital has been interesting. My workgroup is undergoing massive restructuring. One of the damnable things about having a degree in political science, and hence exposure to political theory, is that I feel like Cassandra a lot: I understand the dynamics of things going on around me, but my warnings are often set aside for the easier fix that doesn’t require a change to the organizational culture. Yet the fix, because it doesn’t really correct the problem, is doomed to ultimate failure. And, of course, that failure reflects on me. Lovely.
  7. I signed up for a Netflix account a few weeks ago, and have been getting DVDs of the fouth and fifth seasons of Stargate Atlantis. I enjoyed that series; it’s too bad it ended after only five seasons. Like its sister program, Stargate SG1, Atlantis’s unique charm is in its humor. The little things amuse: In one scene, four leaders meet, three colonels and a lieutenant colonel. Each one greets the other by rank, so the dialogue was: “Colonel, colonel. Colonel, colonel. Colonel, colonel. Colonel, colonel.” And one civilian character stood there and rolled his eyes.
  8. Speaking of TV humor, I’ve decided that the most consistently funny man on television is Mike Rowe of Discovery’s Dirty Jobs. His deadpan approach to unpleasant situations, the faux-mocking tone he takes with some of the people he encounters, and the understated physicality of his work, make for an amusing hour of programming – more funny than any sit-com on network TV. Come to think of it, Discovery has been pretty good with humor. An episode of Man vs. Wild with Bear Grylls, set in the tundra of northern Sweden, had our affable host partnered with Will Ferrell. The episode showed a new, deliciously ironic side to Ferrell I didn’t appreciate, and the episode was so intensely funny that I was laughing out loud multiple times. Not an easy accomplishment.
  9. I installed the beta of Microsoft Office 2010 yesterday, and I am quite pleased. In fact, I am writing this blog post directly in Word 2010; it has a “sharing” option that allows direct placement to a file location, or Sharepoint site, or blog. And the new Outlook is almost orgasmic; it has the new ribbon (which, e.g., in Word, is much more logical than the Office 2007 versions), and better handling of RSS. I am thoroughly satisfied with Microsoft’s major apps lately. Windows 7 is a remarkable improvement upon Vista and Office 2010 looks like a worthy upgrade to Office 2007. And I use Bing as my default search engine because I like it better than Google. If only Microsoft would provide harmony for its online services (integrating Hotmail, Skydrive, and the like into something much more unified and cohesive). If MS would get multiprotocol support for Messenger, which integrates into Communicator, I’d be thrilled to tears.
  10. I recently finished Natan Sharansky’s The Case for Democracy. The first two-thirds were a fascinating insight into the political possibilities of linking human rights to public diplomacy. I can see why this book was so influential among the neocons during the Bush administration. Yet the final one-third disappointed; it was basically Sharansky saying, “Pfft, the morons didn’t listen to me and so the chance for Middle East peace was lost.” Nevertheless, it was a book worth reading and thinking about.

All for now.

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