June 29, 2003
Tour de Cure
Today I rode Tour de Cure for the St. Louis area with a bevy of my coworkers. There were three mapped routes - 20, 50, and 100 miles - all with full support should something go awry.
The event took place in Illinois, which seems to be an amazingly friendly bike state (trails AND roads) - at least it is in all of the areas in Illinois in which I have ridden.
I was slated to ride 20, thinking it was 25 up until the moment I received the map. The savvy gentlemen from work with whom I rode decided 20 was really too much of a cakewalk, so we proceeded up the 50 mile map until about the 16 mile point, and then we turned around - ride totalling about 32 miles.
I really like this bike thing. The weather was perfect (that is, it was perfect if one does not mind reapplying sunscreen three times) and only mildly windy. The whole experience was quite pleasant except for the lovely man in the pick-up truck who could express himself no better than to flip me off. Thank you, Mr. Asshat (thanks, Rachel, for the term) lazy-brained-finger-wagging imbecile. I wonder how you'd fare on a 32-mile ride. Probably not as well as I.
This was good training for the MS150, which I'll be riding in the Columbia, MO area in early September (6th and 7th, to be exact). If ever there was a time to beg for money for sponsorship, this is it. MS150 is a fairly large event, and it's quite a formadable thing to accomplish for a new cyclist.
Marathon -> Snickers With a Large Price Tag and Small Nutrition
I think that pretty much says it all. Show me the nutrition info, and maybe I'll buy one. After all, who doesn't like chocolate, peanuts, and caramel?
Here's the link, courtesy of my friendly hometown newspaper.
June 27, 2003
Linking to Others to Avoid Writing Contest
Here's what I read worthy of note today:
The Great Debate by BigArmWoman
If they can be stupid... - phobia.com and its addendum by my esteemed spouse.
Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota lyrics - just because it came on the MP3 player.
A helpful guide to the Democratic presidential hopefuls.
Change Vending - I don't even remember my high school sporting vending machines with junk.
Sentencing: The Jury is Kinder than Heather
No boiling blood for Chante Mallard. Instead, suddenly remorseful now that there are RAMIFICATIONS for her actions, a snivelling Ms. Mallard is sentenced to 50 years for the more serious of her offenses.
I am pleased about many things. First, the jury took nearly no time to deliberate. Second, this stands as very visible proof that, indeed, there are consequences for evil doings.
So much for "extraordinary circumstances."
June 25, 2003
An Extreme Example: Please Take Responsibility for Your Actions
Everyone who knows me knows about this. I expressed frothing outrage when first I learned of the news, and I will do so again at a particular statement made by the defense attorney:
To Mallard's lawyer, "that doesn't amount to murder ... She didn't want
her parents to learn what she had done, and she didn't want to go to
- Drove a car while under intoxicating/drugged influence.
- Struck a man while driving said car in said condition.
- Struck this man with such force that he remained embedded in her car,
specifically the windshield.
Stop right here. If Mallard contacts the authorities and seeks aid for the man she has struck, she's done the best that can be expected of civic duty given that point one violates civic duty. But no.
- She drives home with the man still in the windshield.
- She puts the car (hence, the man) into the garage.
- She has the audacity to APOLOGIZE to the man but not seek help for him.
- The man dies. Mallard seeks help in disposing the body.
Disgusting. Thoroughly disgusting. I propose Circle 7, Round 1. Submerged in hot blood.
June 22, 2003
A Challenge from The Master
I'm too brain drained to tackle these this evening, but I thought perhaps some of you might wish to do so.
PETA - People for Evil Taping of Animals
Wow, this is the top story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch today. I guess news is a bit thin around here (for which we should not complain). I read the whole thing (in paper form), and I shook my head.
I consider myself an animal activist (low level). I do what I can, typically volunteer time to raise money to help with controlling the feral cat population. PETA makes animal activists look like left-wing insano nut jobs. It saddens me.
The "spy," in my opinion, didn't find much. I felt a twinge in my heart for the dog with the hurt paw, but the other bullet-point facts in this article caused me to utter a few audible "so?"s.
Gotta fisk it!
The videotape — mostly of Iams, Menu Foods and Isto study-related animals —
was whittled down to snippets of riveting scenes:
- A beagle clawing maniacally at the metal bars of its cage; a dog circling wildly in its cage, another cowering quietly in back; and a meowing cat pacing back and forth inside its cage. PETA claims these are signs of distressed and bored animals.
- A group of at least 10 beagles, slowly awakening from anesthesia, lined up on the floor of an exam room after having their bone density measured by an X-ray densitometer. PETA claims such unsterile conditions are unsafe. Bouchard said that the floor was clean and that beagles were placed close together to conserve body heat.
- A dog, asleep from anesthesia, strapped on its back during an X-ray. "When the dog is done, make sure they're breathing," an off-camera worker says, moving his hand over the prone animal's stomach. "When you see they've stopped breathing, give them (this)," the worker says, pantomiming a slap at the dog.
- A pig in distress, convulsing on its side in a cage. A worker tells the spy that the pig almost died, perhaps from the position of a heart catheter, but they managed to resuscitate the animal.
- Employees discussing their work with sheep, saying that surgeries were rushed and that there were problems with the medical equipment.
- Dogs walking gingerly on metal-slotted cage floors, the bars too narrow for their paws. In one scene, a beagle has its leg stuck in the slotted bottom. The dog is obviously in pain and can't move. Another dog is later shown after being rescued from having its leg caught. As the animal holds its left hind leg off the ground because of the pain, the camera zooms in on a severe red and green wound.
But that's as good as it gets, baby. Riveting? Hardly. I was more offended by the fact that a cat yesterday that was hit (and killed) by a car remained in the road (and was likely hit by many other cars post mortem) was not removed by my municipality or a kind citizen.
The article was worth reading, and it carried the story around the allegations, so it held my interest, but, in the end, in all good conscience, I really have to stop using those PETA address labels they send while soliciting (ignored) donations.
Sigh, driven to that.
Why No New Posts Since Thursday (Blame Super Metroid)
It's been a busy weekend in the Noggle household. Friday, I was faced with the I-have-time-off-but-not-much funk, which, for some reason, is sometimes more difficult to parse into something productive than a workday.
I solved this by digging out my Super Nintendo and casting myself in Samus Aran's shoes in Super Metroid. Ooh, ahh - Brinstar, Norfair, Maradia! The Wrecked Ship. Yes, good idea indeed. But it spelled no blog for Friday. (Wouldja look at the shoulders on that chick???)
Saturday was chore day, with anticipation of Sunday being a shot day with my plans to do the short route on the Watermelon Ride. Also, we had some social time with some friends - lunch at South City Diner. I spent a couple of hours digging in the dirt and placing about 60 flowering plants. And then, of course, I finished the chore list at about 8 p.m., and Super Metroid called my name louder than the blog, so, well, you can guess the outcome of that.
And today until now? More chores, more, ahem, Super Metroid, and that little Watermelon Ride thingee, that actually took 2/3 of my day. It's somewhat strange to drive 37.2 miles to ride 22.6 and the 37.2 miles back again. Guess I'll have to ride more to justify it.
That being said, the Watermelon Ride was my first organized ride, and I am pleased to report that I seem to be getting the hang of this bike thing, but I'm still behind where I want to be. About 8 miles of this ride was against some ugly wind (though, thankfully, no hills on this point), so my average speed for the whole ride was probably only about 10 mph. Ugh - that must improve. I'm doing Tour de Cure next Sunday. (No, this isn't a shameless attempt to raise more money - really, um, no, really, um, okay), just the 25 mile, and then I have to start seriously increasing the mileage in preparation for the MS150, held in Columbia, MO in early September.
So, am I forgiven? I got all personal - it ought to be worth something.
Oh, and I have about 10 things in my inbox with a subject of "Blog", so there'll be more...
June 19, 2003
Be Wary, Potential Time Travellers!
It's always good to be wary of spam. It's even better to have twisted fun with it.
Ask and ye shall receive
I feel safe again thanks to Frank J's post about monkey pox.
June 18, 2003
Benton Harbor, MI
Benton Harbor is a mostly black American city located in Michigan. It's not an especially large city, possessing a population of 11,182. Situated very near is St. Joseph, a predominantly white (and affluent) community of 22,984. Race issues have raged between the two for longer than I have been alive.
My father was born and raised in Benton Harbor. My grandfather worked his career for Whirlpool, which maintained headquarters there. My grandmother spent her days at Bendix. My mother relocated to Benton Harbor in the late 60's to teach at Hull School, an educational facility already sporting metal detectors in attempts to curb violent school-based acts committed with metal objects.
So, when I read this post on CNN, (how does Benton Harbor grab CNN's news attention in 2003?) I had to stop and sigh and get more of the story.
Here is Benton Harbor's Herald-Palladium with its take on the events.
The riots. We are a violent nation. Sometimes the microcosm - this community as a good example - serves as a good reminder of unchecked, uncivilized human nature. Though race appears to not be at the forefront of these riots, you can rest assured it resides sure and true somewhere as a supporting cast. In 30 plus years, this event in this area serves as a throwback, at least I hope, to the ailments of bigotry and lawlessness. Obviously, I'm not talking about Los Angeles. How does a community of 11,000 people chronicle such a storied history of violence and hate?
I leave you with these documented acts of violence and woe for the community of Benton Harbor.
1. A book, The Other Side of the River: A Story of Two Towns, a Death, and America's Dilemma, written by Alex Kotlowitz in 1999.
2. "The war I didn't worry about" - an account by William Newmiller.
3. A look at Benton Harbor and St. Joseph (and their disparities).
Lazy me, I didn't blog this yesterday when it was fresh news, but...here we have the CNN article about Intelligent Seats in passenger airplanes.
Since it's not wise to take things at face value, here's how I see the things really being used in 10 years.
1) You're a nervous flyer, so that auto injection of liquid Valium dispensed to only medicate you through the remainder of the flight - godsend.
2) Person in seat 14A forgot his deodorant. Oh, no hassle for the Smart Seat. Genitalia sensor will ensure the stinky ladies are dispensed a feminine scent and the men receive a masculine version to mask the offense.
3) Flight crews dispense electric shocks for malicious entertainment on long flights and create "personal turbulence."
4) The top two sensors, at brain level, read your every thought and record it on a CD for your personal flight memoir (and sell it to you for $19.99).
5) Real terrorist threats and immediately isolated by bulletproof glass. The rest of the cabin is properly pressurized, and purported threat is ejected through the bottom of the plane. If it's a domestic flight, the seat is equipped with a parachute. International, well...
Careful of those blood clots, too. Don't sit too long.
June 16, 2003
Fat: A New Vice
Hey, check out these silly Brits.
Hamburgers, soft drinks and cakes could be hit with a "fat-tax" in a bid to
combat Britain's growing levels of obesity, doctors said Monday.
But Breach said the tax would hit food manufacturers hard and have little
effect on the poor.
"A fat-tax will remove food manufacturers' incentive to pump food full of fat. Instead they will fill processed foods with healthier ingredients and better selections of meat," he said.
"Fat is a cheap by-product of the meat processing industry -- they have mountains of the stuff and are desperate to use it, so they use it as cheap padding in foodstuffs," he added.
Problem is: we all have to eat. We don't all have to drink, and we certainly don't have to smoke.
So, British government, perhaps I should send you a nice big package of Oreos. Your people still have free will, and if they, like many Americans, want to eat their way into larger sizes, there really is precious little you can (read: should) do. Oh, you could borrow a page from tobacco control and refuse to sell food to minors.
Perhaps you should move all your citizens to Colorado? Knock 'em down (er, or, up) to the rest of the states' level.
June 15, 2003
A Tribute to My Father, James A. Igert
It's Father's Day, 2003. I last had occasion to gift-give on Father's Day in 2000, of course not realizing that this would be the case. We humans don't know these things. I gave him a fishing-themed remote control apparatus, and I learned that he did indeed enjoy it.
Our parents impart so much knowledge to us, but with my father's special way of providing guidance, I really didn't see too much of him in me until I was a few years into adulthood. Every time I curb my type A personality and tell it to take a rest, that's my father speaking. And he does so gently, usually in a silent and reserved fashion, at least that's the behavior of his visage in my head.
My father was a peacemaker and a simple but honest person. He preferred the outdoors and tried to teach me so many of the things I would like to know now but didn't have the patience for at earlier ages. My gardening stint of late is descended from my father's experience and success with gardens when I was younger. He planted a lot of corn, tomatoes for my mother and me, green and wax beans (which he peppered every night with generic pepper because he swore this kept the rabbits at bay), watermelon, and piles and piles of strawberries. I remember blisters from preparing these strawberries every late May.
When I was a child in Michigan, my father would construct an ice rink in our back yard every winter. And he'd use it, too. There would be dad and daughter, twirling on skates on our rink, radio rigged outside to pipe in the music of the day. He'd build sled runs out of snow and ice them down with the water hose to provide that extra sledding thrill.
And in the summers, there was softball, something he always encouraged. Any skill I have I can attribute to his working with me.
It's hard to synthesize the general memories into a short blog post. The only gift I could think to give would be another long, long day fishing, maybe 13 years ago.
June 14, 2003
Today is an anniversary. On 6/14/1989, I commenced employment with KFC (my first job), then always known as Kentucky Fried Chicken, where I would stay for nearly five years.
And I have been working ever since. There have been three short hiatuses (hiati?) - one of about six weeks while recovering from treatment for a serious illness; one for about 8 weeks to try to adjust to returning to college after said illness; and one for two-and-a-half weeks between the KFC job and a job at American National Property and Casualty (ANPAC), where I would serve as a low-paid, fast-typing transcriptionist.
That's 14 years, folks. Fourteen solid years of working - through the end of high school, through college. Through grad school. I am 30 years old, and already I have amassed enough "quarters" to qualify for a social security payout (should said system continue to exist (ha) when I am 62).
So, this last week and a half that I have not been working (vacation, so relax - I'm not about to refute myself), I have taken some time to reflect on the items that grace my resume and be thankful that I can stake such a claim in a time of tech sector upheaval and uncertainty.
I remember my first night of work very well. I made biscuits for three hours. This duty required that one empty biscuit mix, milk, and a big blue tube of shortening into a big-ass bowl. Then, turn on the mixer (which was against company policy - you had to be 18). Let it mix its allotted time. Flour the board during the mixing time, and ensure that you have a scraper and a good biscuit cutter and white plastic rolling pin on hand. Line four to six trays with baking sheets (paper). After the mixer has completed its task, move the bowl (quite heavy) to the biscuit-assembly table. Flour hands. Grab gob of dough. Place gob on board (which has an upraised rim of about 1/4 inch - so clever). Roll dough. Flour biscuit cutter, and commence cutting. Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.
I wasn't so fast on my first night, favoring perfection and cleanliness to efficiency. Not so wise in the restaurant business on a busy Friday night. When you're manning the biscuit station, you also need to bake the biscuits on command. Never forget to set the timer, either. Customers prefer biscuits to hockey pucks. I was blamed my first night of work for failing to set the timer, though, honestly, I believe this was someone else's mistake. Still, difficult to forget the outcome and the scowl of the Shift Manager.
There are so many things to be learned in the restaurant business. I can multitask while cooking with the best of them, sometimes to the point that I have the table set, salads made, a main dish, and one or two side dishes ready at the same time (oh, and I've cleaned up all of the dishes from preparation, too). And I'm a fiend at cookie baking time around the holidays. I made something like 62 dozen this year - took pictures and everything. If anyone wants a cooking time management seminar, I'm your gal.
I eventually moved into management with KFC. Actually, this happened about as early as it could - shortly after I turned 18, my freshman year of college. In my desire to avoid my college roommates (mostly because of their abhorrent housekeeping), I often would work more than one really should on a "school night." Grades were always good, though, because I valued that. In Springfield, MO, there were 6 KFCs. I worked in all of them, usually as a fill-in manager. There were two stores in not-so-good parts of town, and there was one that was borderline. I knew all the crews and the secret to making it all work. And this applies everywhere, I believe (not that I've been management since the KFC days) - jump in and do every bit as much work as the workers beside you, and then do your work.
My thing was always mopping. And this was cool because just about everyone else HATED mopping, but it was a have-to daily chore. The kitchen equivalent was scrub brushing the back floor. This too, is something in which I took great pleasure and would help out if the cook was behind. I also always put away the stock when it came in - some heavy box toting if I ever saw any.
I only had to fire one person. Said person walked out on me - can't remember why, and, well, obviously, you can't allow that to happen. I know I threatened, and when he made his choice (because all choices need to have consequences, good or bad), I immediately made sure I had my boss' backing. Fired dude did not return.
I'll stop now so I don't take you through the travails of transcription and legal secretaryhood. But, after those positions, I hopped into HR and then into IT, where I remain gainfully employed and typing faster than a human should.
I'll never starve, though, with all o' those skillz.
June 10, 2003
Brian and I picked a really good time NOT to be in Chicago.
Today, June 10th, marked an unhappy day for walk-out basement owners in the St. Louis metropolitan area.
I was playing the happy housewife (which is QUITE demanding, I have learned), as I have for the majority of the past two days. Dinner was cooking, and I had some spare time to work in an abdominal workout downstairs. It was about 5:30 p.m., a gentle beginning to a good end of a productive day. Sarah Brightman was telling me that it's "Time to Say Goodbye," and gentle thunder was crackling, highlighting the slyly torrential, but yet seemingly calm, steady rain.
As I finished, I stretched and stood, facing the door, I noticed a dark streak that looked suspiciously like liquid emanating from near said glass door. Upon further, harried inspection, my fears were confirmed. Instant backyard pool in a bad, baaaaaaaaaad, bad place.
Now, this has happened before. This, actually, has happened three times previously. We have taken many steps to ensure that said nasty occurrence does not grace our property again, but, alas, the storm was so sudden and strong enough that even our safeguards of multiple grates were circumvented by the deities of rain.
Get husband. Shriek appropriately. Husband enters the great outdoors and wades into the foot deep (I kid you not) water awaiting its turn to join the swirling masses of the sewer. Husband bales the water and clears the drain. Wife re-enters the home, gathers all towels in the cabinet, and begins indoor water removal. The toilet becomes a critical stopgap in saving the Muscle & Fitness Hers magazine (new this month!) strewn carelessly on the bathroom floor from immediate drowning.
Ten minutes earlier, we could have stopped the whole thing. Ten minutes later, we'd have a bona fide mess. Three days earlier - I shudder to think, as we were out of town.
As far as heart-rate-raising calamities go, not so bad.
The two trees that flank the back of the house - soon to be ancient history. Gentlemen, start your chainsaws. We've learned this lesson one too many times.
June 05, 2003
Drooling Fools, Indeeed, Muhahahah Stay
Stay out of it, Hans!
June 04, 2003
Brian, I'd like to remind you that Jewel rhymes with drool and fool. Jewel - forever after to be known as Jool.
Off-road Road Bike
Off-road Road Bike
(Subtitled: "Uh oh.")
Vacation is such a good thing. The alarm rings at 5 a.m. I shun it. My poor spouse, who has opted to take vacation a day later than I, scuttles off to work. I awaken at 7 and begin my day.
I putz, I putter, and then I decide to get real things done (because dish-doing, laundry, and bed making are just normal, everyday chores). I take the bike out and hook it onto the bike rack contraption on my car, and off I go to the trail.
The weather is gorgeous. It feels much more like October than June (which is great when it's not rainy). I set out to do 10 or so miles at the local trail, which is twice around. I figure this will be amazingly easy compared to some of my earlier outings - weekends and holidays. And, indeed, the trail is quite empty. The only thing standing between me and a nice soothing (but sweaty) ride is a healthy, gusty, occasional wind.
Oh, and two innocent, slow-moving, widely spaced Islamic-looking women who decide to span the entire breadth of the trail.
Of course, the point at which they do this is right before the bridge, which is a small incline to cross over the lake itself. I try to be polite and go around, but there's just no room, and I veer off a bit too much to the left, having already braked. Oops, on the grass. Clip out right foot and lean right. Nope. Clip out left foot, and lean left, yep. Brake. Lean HARD left. Gently stop self with tree. Still in one piece; not on ground. Whee. That was fun.
All this within the first two miles? What else does my day hold? What quest awaits?
June 02, 2003
Tobacco Furor (rant rant info
Tobacco Furor (rant rant info rant)
Today is obviously an ammunition-rich day for tobacco opponents.
First, we have this.
Next, my opinion on smoking. I'm proud of myself that I've abstained from presenting this until now.
1) If this were MY world, it wouldn't exist.
2) It's not allowed in my home, my car, and, if possible, anything I would define as my personal space.
3) When asked a smoking preference at a restaurant, I say "eradication." (No one seems to understand that, btw. So fun).
4) I completely miss the point of smoking. It's supposedly pleasurable. So are very many things in life that do not gradually and continually damage one's own body willingly (and irritate/exacerbate/cause lung disease/etc. in others). Everyday smokers are some pretty jumpy people, too, so I question some common sense about "smoking calms me down" when, in effect, the whole habit is probably what makes you jumpy in the first place. The smell (and residue) are revolting. Out of context (read: the non-smoking world) this all seems very, very strange.
HOWEVER. Currently, smoking is legal, and individual property owners (bars, restaurants, homeowners) dictate whether the activity can be conducted on their owned property. There's the whole big ever-changing debate on the effect of smoking on public health. It's so nebulous, really. Firm X pays for this study, Firm Y for this. They cancel each other out. Who's really to know? Personally, I believe most of the "smoking is bad for x because of y." reports, and, I have physical ramifications from breathing the stuff, so I try to avoid it in all possible circumstances.
A quote from this CNN article is obnoxious, though.
American Cancer Society CEO John Seffrin called tobacco "the only weapon of
mass destruction used against people all over the world."
Moving right along to something with a little more protein, we have this article I stumbled across when it was 12 seconds old. Nicotine is some nasty noxious stuff - so this isn't terribly surprising. In short:
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Smoking during pregnancy appears to affect a
newborn's behavior in ways similar to infants whose mothers used heroin or
other illegal drugs, new study findings suggest.
Smoking between 6 and 7 cigarettes per day -- less than half a pack -- throughout pregnancy was associated with infants that were more excitable, less consolable and more rigid, according to the report published in the journal Pediatrics.
June 01, 2003
So Long, Charter Communications
For the past several years, Brian and I have been cable TV customers, receiving the service mostly for St. Louis Blues hockey coverage, and, more recently, the digital music package which contains a really good Big Band channel.
St. Louis previously sported two major cable companies, AT & T and Charter. Most of the city and the county were serviced by Charter, but the Maryland Heights area where we reside was covered by AT & T. Charter acquired the territory some time ago. Somehow, with Charter, we were grandfathered into a package that contained an obscene number of channels but cost only $40 or so a month. Eventually, this package was raised to the $56.83 a month that we've been paying for about a year now. I actually called to see if we could get our package reduced to only the channels we used, and the customer service representative with whom I spoke laughed and said it would cost more to get what we wanted and that our package was normally priced quite a bit higher.
Well, yesterday, I got the news from Charter that continuing coverage at this level would require a $90 payment from the Noggles to the cable company each month. No way. Brian and I discussed the service and decided to drop it altogether. First, my focus on hockey has diminished for my own after-work pursuits in the athletic direction. So, no longer is there an every-night desire to follow puck and stick across ice on the television. Also, we have a lovely 100 CD changer in the room with the television; we can supply our own varied Big Band music to our hearts' content. So, bye bye cable. Cable TV shouldn't cost more than electricity.
Also, the gym has cable. Hockey game = 3 hours of cardio. Our favorite sports bar has cable = 3 hours of cocktails and fries.
These. Are. Amazing.
Chocolate Soy Nuts, brought to my home by Genisoy.
In Search of Sit Bones
"Sit Bones" is terminology I had not heard until recently, but it's cyclist nomenclature for the proper way to position oneself on a bicycle in preparation for a lengthy ride. Finding your Sit Bones is supposed to mean riding proves less offensive to one's genitalia.
I gave my Sit Bones a call today, but I got only the answering machine. So, upon returning home, I asked friendly Google for some advice.