Saturday, August 04, 2012

Making Mistakes

I think it might be worse to watch somebody else make a mistake at work than to botch it myself.

Almost half of our tellers are new in June or July.  Two were on their own for the first time this week.  The person I was working with today is such a sweetie.  It was really busy.  And, as luck would have it, she ended up with her drawer being off.  She hadn't made a big error, but it was enough to trouble her.  I wanted so much to hug her and assure her.  I wanted to make it all better for her.  I remember those mistakes happening all-too-frequently when I was new.  I wished that things had gone differently during the morning; I wondered if there was something I could have done to be more helpful to her.  I feel awful that she was off, and it wasn't even my mistake.

When I was new, they kept telling me, "Everybody makes mistakes."  That didn't make it any better at the time.  But now that I've been there for a while, and I can see what the new girl is going through,  it's true: everybody does make mistakes when they're learning!

When I was new, they kept assuring me that I would learn from my mistakes.  I didn't like that.  I knew it was true.  But I hated it.  In fact, I still remember my second-grade teacher giving us a homework assignment to come up with a list of homonyms.  I of course, in overdrive, came up with a list of not 10 or 20, but nearly 100.  My list included "our" and "are" as homonyms.  It was wrong!  [gasp]  [By the way, Teacher didn't listen to how folks in that section of Illinois pronounced "are" and "our."]  I still remember being WRONG about that.  Of course, Mr Choir Director appreciates that because I make sure to sing "our" with the correct pronunciation.  And sometimes I edit his writing, correcting the same mistake (because he was raised amongst people with the same accent).  All because of my mortification that my second-grade teacher caught me being WRONG.

During my senior year when I was taking a programming class, my computer program didn't run as it was supposed to.  I couldn't figure out what was wrong.   I went to the prof.  He asked me what I'd done to debug the program.  "What?  What do you mean, 'debug the program'?"  He asked me what I'd done before, when my programs hadn't run properly.  I was stunned.  They'd never not-run before.  I was nearing the end of my computer-science major, and I had never debugged a program.  I'd always gotten it right from the get-go.  That's not actually a good way to learn to solve problems, eh?

I am still stunned by the parable of the lost sheep.  For decades I had wondered about how there is "more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 just persons who need no repentance."   God is not like me.  I would much rather have my kids obey me than to screw up and break things and be sassy and then ask for forgiveness.  I don't understand this verse: how can God delight in repentance more than He delights in so much obedience that there's no need for repentance?!  I mean, He certainly wants us to obey and do what is right!  But this verse -- there is more joy in heaven.... 

I don't like mistakes.
I like to be right.
I like to do things the right way so that there's no need to fix it.
I want so desperately to comfort those who are grieving
over their inability to do the job perfectly.
I know we learn from our mistakes.

I still don't like mistakes.

Maybe I'll get it straightened out in my mind before I die.

Proper-Fitting Bras

Heads-up to guys: This is a girls' topic.

About a decade ago, the doctor sent me for tests.  She was quite sure I didn't have cancer, but needed to eliminate that as a possibility before looking into more reasonable explanations for the pain I was experiencing.   The mammogram technician told me that she sees many women who are having problems with their undergarments.  She suggested trying an alternative-type undergarment, and that has been my only option for years.  It doesn't make a person look attractive, but it seemed the best choice given the circumstances.

Recently, a friend pointed out Breakout Bras and their advice on sizing and finding a proper fit.  Hey!  This is fantastic!  Nobody ever told me this before!

Y'know how They always told you to measure your rib cage and then add 4-5" to find your band size?  No!  That's wrong.  That's how I ended up with poor fit, pain, and straps that kept slipping off my shoulders.  Breakout Bras says to measure your rib cage, and then start shopping for the size that reflects that measurement.  And it works.  Awesome!

Friday, August 03, 2012

The Kids Pulled It Off!

We got stuck with a dentist appointment for Maggie on a day that I had to work.  But that was okay: Andrew could drive her.  Then Andrew had to go in to make arrangements for his new job (CNA work for at-home assistance for the elderly or disabled).  But Katie was willing to borrow our car and drive Maggie to the dentist (even when we forgot to switch car seats into the van, and she had to come chase them down).  I dropped off Andrew at his appointment.  Katie waited for Maggie, and then all the girls hit the beach while waiting for Andrew's appointment to conclude.  It took longer than it should have.  Many thanks to Katie for her help!!  Who needs Hermione's time-turner when Katie helps us out this way?!


Enough aloe, and the sunburn will soak in, turn to tan, and won't peel!

I thought I would have three days in a row off this week.  Since late May, I had been hoping to go visit Mom this week.  But somehow I ended up scheduled to work Wednesday afternoon.  As Murphy's Law would dictate, business was slow, and I stood around bored for most of the afternoon.  What a bummer!

But Maggie has been motivated to overcome the weeds.  The garden got SO out-of-control during June's vacation and symposium, and then with July's heat and our reluctance to go do garden work and give ourselves heat stroke.   :-)  So for the past week, we have been working together to make a dent in the jungle. 

The patch by the grapes and blueberries has been thoroughly weeded, mulch laid down, and a few small strips planted.  Cilantro, beets, lettuce -- because it will be cooling down pretty soon  -- right?

The strawberry patch and the asparagus patch have been thoroughly weeded.  Part of it is mulched.  We need to move a few straggler berry plants back into the proper rows, and then finish mulching.

The tomato patch (where live the cucumber, zucchini, basil, and peppers) is weeded and has mulch in all the places I want it.  We still need to till under the cilantro patch and plant something that will grow before snow & frost.

The blackberries are partly weeded.  And the raspberries need lots of attention: pruning and weeding and mulch.  

The patches that have been weeded are drying out so fast!  I know the weeds hog the nutrients and moisture, supposedly harming my plants.  But the weeds also provide ground cover so that the ground stays moist there.  I'm not entirely convinced at this point that we haven't done harm in this drought to have yanked the weeds.

Not enough blackberries to make a pie or a batch of jam.  But there are enough to graze for some treats.  The raspberries were even thinner than that.  The grapes, however, are looking nice.  The tomatoes are beginning to come in and taste oh-so-wonderful!  There are only a few pumpkins, but that will be okay.  I loved the romaine we grew in spring; I hope the heat now won't be too much for a fall crop.

The heat and lack of rain seems to have forestalled the pest damage from Japanese beetles.  It also seems to have significantly delayed the fungus problems everybody around here faces.  So I think most of the tomato crop may ripen before the plants succumb this year.  Woo hoo!

Thursday, August 02, 2012


Gary and I aren't in the habit of hanging around the house in our underwear.  Our kids have learned in the last couple of years that several of their friends' dads do.  (Come to think of it, we don't know about friends' moms.)

An argument arose yesterday.  Is the decency-standard different for girls and guys? I think in public it is.  But what about in the privacy of home?  I suspect that girls are less likely to wander the house in their underwear, but I may be wrong.  If the girl thinks all the guys are gone or asleep, and then is seen in her undies [gasp!] whose problem is it?  Should the female take greater care in modesty?  Or should the male realize that, if he can wander the house in his boxers, he shouldn't hold others to a higher standard?

What do you say?

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Avoiding a Traffic Ticket

You know that "Move Over" law?   If an emergency vehicle or tow truck is stopped on the side of the road, we are supposed to move over or slow down.  Well, "move over" doesn't just mean to move over; it means to change lanes completely.

I talked to someone who got a whoppin' fine and three points on her license today because she needed to be in the right lane to exit the highway, so she moved over to the middle of the road to give wide berth to the police car and the tow truck which were sitting on the shoulder.    But she did not change lanes so that her car was completely in the left lane.  That was the reason for the ticket.  When she explained to the policeman that she was exiting and had to be in the right lane, he told her that she should have stayed on the highway and proceeded to the next exit ramp. 

I also did not know until today that slowing down is not an option if you can change lanes.  But if you can't change lanes, how much must we slow down?  That's not clear either.

So there ya go.  Just sharing the warning.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Local Politics

Oh, the level of vitriol against a man who's just trying to look at some out-of-the-box options!  Not to enact them.  Just to ask if we should consider them.

I have been thankful for the leadership of our town chairman, Matt.  He doesn't want to play political games.  He's as fiscally conservative as I am.  He's got loads of common sense.  He's not a fool, to be taken advantage of.  He's good!  

The problem is that our township and the village within its borders have been fussing with each other for decades.  Town properties can be (and have been) annexed by other villages, depleting our tax base.  Our town doesn't have the authority to make plans for itself; we have to get approval from the neighboring villages and from the county.  We can protect ourselves and be more self-governing if we have village status.  Recently our township attempted to become incorporated into a village, but the village-within-our-borders thwarted the attempt (in violation of the current Border Agreement between the two entities). 

So now the question is: Shall we look into the possibility of a merger between the town and the village?  It would be a way to achieve village status.  It might be better than being "eaten up" slowly by neighboring villages because we'd go into the merger as equal partners.  But there would be some serious downsides too.  In a few weeks, we'll have an advisory referundum on whether we should even begin to look into this.  This is not a vote on whether to consolidate with the village.  It's merely a vote to determine whether we should explore the possibility.

Last night was the third town meeting on the subject.  It was the first non-Wednesday, and thus the first Gary and I were able to attend. Some of the folks from church made good points against looking into consoliation.  The county exec (who was speaking in favor of consolidation) made the strongest case to me to vote against consolidation.  (Bigger = better!  Progress!  Numbers!)   But the main things that I saw at last night's meeting:

a)  Grudges are powerful.  And long-lasting.  And they blind people.  There's a place for being cautious and wary when someone in the past has done dirt to you.  There's certainly a place for "trust but verify"!  But to say that we can never even talk about ending a feud?  Sad.

b)  I'm shocked at the anger against a man who's wanting to look at options for protecting the township he's in charge of.  I shouldn't be.  Gary said the same thing has happened to him.  When he would float ideas at his previous congregation for ways to reach out to the community, or point out repairs that needed to be made to the building, or suggest changes to the confirmation program, so often people refused to even consider it.  "We can't even discuss the pros and cons of what we have now and what I'm suggesting?"  Nope. 

I still don't know how I'll vote on the referendum.  Short of seeing into the future, there's no way to know what's the best course of action.  Both sides have really good arguments on how to save money, reduce government, ensure freedoms.  But we don't know what decisions will be made by neighboring villages, who will be sitting on town boards, and what kind of decisions will be made if/when we appeal the decision on last year's incorporation effort.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Is He Telling the Truth?

When one of my co-workers asked a few weeks ago, "So, did anybody try to get in while I was gone?" and "Did you see the bad guys anywhere in the neighborhood?" it sounded to me like he was joking.  But he persisted.  I was confused.  He then informed me that there had been a robbery at a bank in the area.  I didn't believe him.  I thought it was a stupid joke.  He insisted it was real.  I was skeptical.

So a little later, I asked the supervisor.  She confirmed that there had been a robbery at a nearby bank.  She was a bit confused that I didn't believe what I'd been told, and that I wanted to check on the story.  That's when I realized something kind of unsettling -- I no longer assume I'll be told the truth.  I've heard too many lies. 

That's sad.

By the way, for those in the metro area, the serial robber was caught.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Gimme Nouns!

Imagine a paragraph with 37 pronouns, 0 nouns, and 14 nondescript verbs (such as "have," "got," "was," and "did").  For some reason, I seldom understand tales told in that fashion.  I guess I'm just flawed that way.