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Wow, just wow

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For the past 10 years or so, I lived in Athens, GA, a college town where they know how to party. I have never had to call the cops on a party or the remnants of a party. I have never been kept awake, even when I lived on campus, one block from the stadium, until 3am because people would not shut up.

But, there’s a first time for everything. Welcome to another first in Raleigh.

Our neighbors threw a party tonight (not the sorority girls next door, who are usually the ones who wake us up–briefly–coming home late at night). Their guests did not leave. Instead, they stood outside our townhouse/under our windows and talked. And shouted at people–across the parking lot–and screamed and laughed and carried on. I went to bed at midnight. They were STILL DOING THIS AT 2:45 am. Reed, the polite one, had asked them to be quiet about 3 times, and they would be for about 10 minutes. And then they would be shouting again. After Reed’s last warning–during which, I stood at the top of our stairs and screamed “Shut up! Shut…UP!!!!!!” like a maniac–I figured they had 15 minutes before I called the police.

At 2:51am, they began shouting again. Reed was out the door the moment he heard my feet hit the floor upstairs, telling them that they need to leave and his wife was calling the cops (not for the first time). That’s about the time I burst out the front door, yelling, “COME INSIDE, REED. YOU HAVE WARNED THEM ENOUGH. YOU HAVE WARNED THEM ENOUGH.” I called the police, who were apparently tired of hearing about it because after I said my address, they asked if it was about the loud party. Yes.

Well, apparently, the appearance of a stark raving mad girl in her pajamas, dragging her husband back inside the townhouse, and declaring that the warnings were over is the straw that broke the camel’s back. Because by the time I finished my phone call to the police, they were GONE. If I’d only known that earlier!

Of course, the police got there at precisely the time the last person left. They listened to one of our neighbors (wearing a bunny–think Playboy–costume) who had called the police several times, starting at 2 am, tell them what had been going on. The rest of us were in our robes and pajamas–it was like a pajama party in the parking lot. Then they went and talked to the people who lived in the house with the party. I kind of feel bad for them, because they weren’t the ones outside acting like hoodlums.

So, now I’m awake. And coming down from the furious adrenaline! And really, really glad that I have Reed, because he is so much more diplomatic and patient than I am. At 3 in the morning, my method of diplomacy is of the baseball bat to the knees variety.

I will say that the hoodlum neighbor kid that lived next door in our duplex may have keyed my car and smoked right outside our door, and he might have even played his stupid music with so much bass that I thought the washing machine was going to dance around in the laundry room–but I never had to call the cops on him because he was driving me crazy at 3am. And he brought Isabelle home whenever she escaped.

Schenck Memorial Forest

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This afternoon, Reed and I decided to have a little adventure. I have a book about trails in NC, and I’ve made a list of all the places with trails in Wake County. Reed agreed to go for a walk, so we set out to see something new!

We ended up going to the Schenck Memorial Forest, which is the teaching forest for NC State. It was a great choice. We walked on the Frances Liles Interpretative Trail, which has signs about forest succession and different types of harvesting. The trail was a little confusing, and I’m pretty sure we walked for more than the listed 1.2 miles. But it was a good place for wildlife–the different stages of forest make for great bird watching and we saw two deer! Probably the most interesting part of our adventure was the pine grafting area. Trees had been grafted onto stumps–and it was neat to see where the trees had come together and see the obvious differences in the bark where two completely different trees had been joined. (There is a picture of this on NC State’s Forestry Dept. website.)

I think we might go back and walk on the other trail someday–it is 6 miles long, but maybe I can convince Reed it will be fun!

8.7/365

Adventure 40

We went to the State Fair tonight, and it was marvelous! We walked all over the place and still didn’t see the horses or the grist mill or the forestry section. We paid an exorbitant amount of money to ride the Ferris Wheel and walk through a hall of mirrors.

The exhibits were the best part of the evening. There was the prize-winning giant pumpkin, beautiful quilts and clothes, bees and honey, a cow worth $25,000, and a baby mule! We saw all sorts of breeds of chickens, including our new favorite, the Buff Cochins. These chickens are almost knee high and so fluffy! And bunnies! Flemish Giants and dark, soft, chocolaty ones, and teensy buff ones. Mama cows and calves, a big sow with little baby piglets

We were walking through the exhibits, looking at the needlework and quilts, and I said, “Next year, I’m going to enter something in the fair!” Reed kind of said, “Yeah, right.” But when we got to the art section, with the photography, I think he might have been bitten by the state fair bug, too!

The highlight of the night for me was the chance to mark something off the adventure list. I haven’t got the adventure list up on a page anywhere anymore, so I will have to tell you that number 40 is–Milk a cow. Yep, I did it! The ag club was there with about five cows in all, two of whom were in milking stalls. I paid my $2 and milked a Holstein! Well, I milked the cow a little bit, but enough so that I can mark this off my list!

We had a great time, although my legs are worn out from all the walking we did! Next year, we’re going to have to go earlier in the day so we can see even more!

With respect to the 30x30 goals, I have four down and 26 to go. Twenty-six and a half months left to go!

I am a sucker for quizzes. Today, I stumbled upon a site about happiness and took some quizzes about happiness and personality. One of them was about your top strengths. According to the Signature Strengths quiz, my top strengths are:

1. Love of Learning: You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.

2. Capacity to love and be loved: You value close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated. The people to whom you feel most close are the same people who feel most close to you.

3. Curiosity and interest in the world: You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.

4. Humor and playfulness: You like to laugh and tease. Bringing smiles to other people is important to you. You try to see the light side of all situations.

5. Zest, enthusiasm, and energy: Regardless of what you do, you approach it with excitement and energy. You never do anything halfway or halfheartedly. For you, life is an adventure.

Not too shabby, hmm? Of course, modesty and humility are my lowest-ranked traits, so I would be proud to share what I think of as fabulous character traits with the world via my blog. Bwhaha.

Of course, I also took their quiz about vengefulness and am in the 90th percentile of most vengeful. So, don’t get on my bad side! haha.

Oh NOOooooo!

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Apparently eating a jalapeno covered hamburger and two donuts afterwards is a recipe for really vivid dreams/nightmares. I had THE spookiest dream ever last night.

First there was a run-in with bike-riding hoodlums, who had an encounter with the donkey. One of them said, “I’ll grab that donkey by the heart!” and because I knew he could do this, I was really worried when Blackjack charged up the hill and ran at him. It ended in a really terrible scene, and Blackjack’s head went through the top strand of wire on the fence and I ran off. (Sorry, Blackjack.)

Well, I ran off to get my brother (parents are not at home) and during this time it becomes night. So, I find him, tell him that a guy is attacking Blackjack and we need to stop it. Eventually in dream time, he is carrying a paint tray full of water/paint? from the front yard to the back and we’re going to go help Blackjack. Anyway, as we’re leaving, there is a person in our back yard, and I yell at him to go away and we don’t have time for him. This man is a family friend in my dream, but I don’t think he actually exists in real life (especially because he kept changing what he looked like in the dream, none of the looks being actual people I know). He said, “Don’t go out there, can’t you hear that?”

So, counter-intuitively, we walked out there, to the fence in the pasture where the barn is (but didn’t exist in the dream) and where Blackjack was, and it is a full moon. Despite the fact that it is a full moon, the man has a flashlight. I tell him to shine it over where I last saw Blackjack, and he does–Blackjack is standing by the fence, but he is looking down at the bottom of the hill (where the targets used to be) and not moving. The man swings his flashlight out over to where Blackjack is looking and the pasture is filled with sheep, who are all looking at the same thing and not moving. (It sounds really lame, but we don’t have sheep and it was incredibly creepy to see them in the dream.) And then we saw eyes glinting back at us from the bottom of the hill.

Turn it off, turn it off! is what I said to the man, and he turned the flashlight off. Then he said, “Can’t you hear that?” And it was like thousands of people chanting, in the next pasture behind the pine trees. And I wondered what it could be, but I KNEW it was zombies. Then I realized there was someone walking down the road in the moonlight.

At this point, I woke up, thank goodness. Reed had fallen asleep on the couch, and I went and got him. He didn’t want to hear about the zombie dream in the very early morning. I also had a dream about winning a huge law school award and a professor demanding that I take a job she would get me in Pennsylvania, which was strange and confusing. But at least no zombies.

I wish I could say that this means I won’t eat the dream inducing diet again, but that would be a lie. Jalepeno-covered hamburgers are worth zombie dreams.

Second mini-adventure

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I went back to Yates Mill this evening, hoping to identify the little bird I saw yesterday. Guess what was the first bird I saw? A black-throated blue warbler, which is what I thought I saw yesterday! He was flying around about near the park building, back and forth between the fence, a berry bush, and a few trees. Much easier to see today! Of course, my guide book says that this is not his range at all. In North Carolina, they shouldn’t be this far from the mountains. My guess is that he is migrating through on the way to Central/South America for the winter, although I think he is a little late at this point. I don’t know much about migration times, though, and there were several other types of warblers in the park (I couldn’t identify them tonight–not too good with warblers). Maybe there is still time for them to make it, although I am pretty sure we’re on the tail end of the time frame.

Besides the warblers, I saw a woodpecker (not up close), some kingfishers, a cardinal (of course), two Carolina wrens, and a flock of grackles. I also heard a flock of Canadian geese, although they seem to prefer the pond in the field across the street than the mill pond. A good evening for birds. I’m going to start republishing my life list as I add to it, instead of keeping it stuck in February of whatever year it is in. If I can figure out how to make it post after this post, I will, so it is not too confusing.

In other adventure news, Reed and I had a great evening out tonight! We went to a burger/bar place called MoJoe’s at the corner of Peace and Glenwood. It’s not The Grill, but the toppings on the burgers make what could be just an ok burger a really good one. I had their Inferno, with grilled onions, grilled jalepenos, and pepper jack, and Reed built his own with bacon, mushrooms, and provolone. They also had hot, tasty fries. Also, they have their own parking lot, which is uncommon for Glenwood, but it seems to fill up fast. (Someone begged for our spot as we were leaving.)

After that, Reed took us down Peace…why? As he said, “Isn’t there an adventure we’ve been meaning to have down Peace Street?” If you didn’t know, that is where the Krispy Kr3m3 is!! And the sign was lit!! Woohoo! So we got some HOT, fresh donuts for dessert. SO. DELISH. We brought some home, which was probably a bad idea, but it’s practically impossible not to. I’m going to have another one in a little bit, while they are still warm.

All in all, a pretty great Friday. The State Fair opened tonight, and so we are going to go one evening next week. I can’t wait! Also, today we got cyborg cats! Precious and Isabelle went to the vet and now they have microchips. Precious also had her ears cleaned out, which was the funniest thing to watch EVER. I’m not sure that Reed and I will ever attempt that on our own.

Gah!

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So, I stopped reading Villette because I got tired of missing so much because of the French. The narrator is an Englishwoman in France, and the other characters speak to her in French–which she understands, but often declines to translate. I’ve just given up on it, especially because I’m not interested enough in the story to try to puzzle through all of that.

Anyway, I switched to The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy. Where the main characters live in the border area near Mexico, and half the time the characters speak in Spanish and there is no translation.

I apparently need some help in picking books that are written entirely in English. At least I can read Spanish well enough that it doesn’t bother me–I’m generally only bothered by the fact that I should know what some of the words are and I’ve forgotten them. GRRR!

I’m only having to read the rest of McCarthy’s trilogy because I’m waiting for his latest book, The Road to be available at the library.

A mini adventure

Since I was too lazy to get up and walk/run this morning, I decided that part of my reward for completing the really time-consuming and mostly irrelevant state application would be a walk in the park! (The other part of the reward was making banana nut oat muffins out of the overripe bananas, if you must know. They are delicious and most of them are in the freezer for future snacks.) So, once that packet was in the mail, I bought some nuts at the Food Tiger and made muffins. Yum! Then, I decided to walk at the park nearby. It’s 2.6 miles away, and I should really get on my bike and ride out there sometime soon.

Yates Mill is my favorite park in the area so far. It has a historic mill and a good-sized mill pond, and three trails each over a mile long. Also, there are just the right amount of people. I saw about six other people there, none of whom were on the trail with me. I like it that way, because I can stand in the middle of the trail with my binoculars glued to my face and my guidebook held between my knees. I guess I could do that anywhere, but even I have some limits. The trail that Reed and I usually walk on is the one around the millpond, which is only a mile. It appears that people tend to stop there on their way home from work and walk around the loop before going home, or at least that is what most of the other people were doing.

If I had been more prepared, I would even have a new bird to report today. Unfortunately, I saw this little black-blueish(?) bird briefly and decided to try to look it up in my guidebook before getting a better look at it. Sounds a little backward, but I wanted to make sure that when I did look at it, I would know what to look for to tell what it could be. Of course, once I found the page I was looking for, I couldn’t get a better look at the little bird. Sigh.

When I told Reed I was going out for a walk, I had decided to walk two laps around the pond. Once there, I only did one. Why? It is cold! Well, not freezing or snowy, but surprisingly fall-like. I needed a jacket, so I just came back home. I’ll walk more another day.

I promised pictures, but I didn’t take any today! I had to pick between my binoculars and the camera, and the binoculars won.

6.5/365 (I know, I only walked one mile today, but I didn’t count the last time we walked there or the Flytrap trail!)

S-CHIP

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There is an article in the NYTimes this week about a family whose son delivered the Democrats’ response to Bush’s weekly radio program, and the conservative firestorm that resulted. Basically, a family in Maryland benefited from the S-CHIP program when their children suffered severe injuries in a car crash, and they allowed their 12-year-old son to deliver the radio response for the Democrats about Bush’s veto of the increased funding for the children’s healthcare program. In response, conservative bloggers and commentators attacked the family, trying to drag them through the mud and implying that they didn’t deserve to be part of the program.

The father is self-employed as a woodworker and welder and the mother works part-time, they own a home which is valued at about $160,000 and they own a commercial property worth about that much, which provides rental income. Conservatives complained that they were too wealthy to get government help, and that the program should basically look at a family’s net worth instead of its income. Let’s think about this for just one minute. Suppose we have a supplemental child healthcare program that is designed to help people who aren’t completely poverty-stricken but who aren’t in a position to buy healthcare for their children. Would it be better if the limit were income or asset based?

In this case, if the family’s real estate assets were considered, they would have $320,000 in real estate and their income (if we pretend that they make the max for a family of six in Maryland that qualifies for S-CHIP) is $55, 219. So, pretending that these are their only assets and that they don’t have savings, etc, that gives them less than $400,000. Is that a lot of money? I wouldn’t turn it down. How much do you think it costs to have a child in the hospital for five and a half months? Physical therapy for months for your nine-year-old who can’t walk? And that is for the child whose injuries were less severe. (You can read a transcript of Graeme Frost’s speech here.) It probably costs a pretty penny. It might even cost $400,000 or more.

Ok, so the family might have been able to pay cash for all or more of their children’s healthcare. That cash comes from liquidating their assets–their home and a major income stream. (We’ll pretend that we’re not in a housing downturn and you can sell your house for what it is worth in reasonable time.) Now, they’ve paid for their healthcare, but they are likely to be dependent on the government for help with housing, food, and additional income. Why? Because they make, at most, $55, 219 (reduced by the rental income they lost) and some of that is going to the healthcare black hole. And their lives have become even less stable, which probably affects their overall wellness, the children’s ability to learn at school, their emotional stability, etc.

In any event, most assets are not easily and immediately liquidated. Many people are having a hard time selling their homes, especially in larger cities. I do not think that including assets like real estate would be all that helpful in creating eligibility requirements for government programs like S-CHIP. There might be some people who would depress their wage so that they qualify, but in reality there are very few people who would want to make much less–after all, if they could make more they might be able to qualify for health insurance for the adults and children in their family. Only families who might not qualify for insurance at reasonable rates, because of pre-existing conditions, and have a very sick child might make that decision–which is sad, and there should be other solutions to that problem.

In other news, I hope to go out and have adventures later this week–with pictures! I am falling behind on the adventure list, because things aren’t working out the way I hoped. Oh, well. We shall see what happens!

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