Friday, November 30, 2007

LakeFieldRidgeFarmOceanView Estates

Been driving around a bit today, noticed some subdivision names.

They irk me. All these nature words rendered meaningless at best, and actually absurd in some cases ("Pine Woods Estates," which hasn't seen a full-grown tree since long before its first cookie-cutter "colonial" was slapped up.) The ones with "estates" tagged onto the name bug me especially. To my mind, a property (save those in probate) is not an "estate" unless it has more than one outbuilding, no visible neighbors, and a full-time staff.

I imagine developers must have a name generator sort of like the lottery draw machine -- big transparent spheres of swirling ping-pong balls with words on 'em that are or were vaguely relevant to the geographic setting about to be mowed down. They pop the first word out: Lake, Pine, Mountain, [somebody's name]'s, River, Bay, Ocean, Hill. Then the second word: Woods, Field, Farm, Ridge, Hills, View, Heights, Crest, Pines. Then they can pop out another word from the second word batch, either to make it a three-word name ("River View Heights") or to fix a combo that makes so little sense even the developer won't go for it ("Pine Pines" might have to be changed to "Pine Crest"). The final option is whether or not to tack "Estates" on the end. It appears this is only mandatory if the development is a trailer park.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What the?!

Here's a thing.

Rhode Island Hospital has just been fined $50K for its third "wrong site" surgery of the year. Last Friday, an 82 year-old person needed surgery on the left side of their brain. Incision was made on the right side, and whoa! You meant the other right! Patch that up and start over!

This has happened four times in the last six years -- all brain surgery patients. My God, these poor people. After the third time, the hospital hired a consultant to help them figure out how to prevent it happening again.

(Come again? Hire a consultant? To tell you how to drill the correct side of a patient's head? I'll take that job: YOU PAY REAL CLOSE GODDAMN ATTENTION TO THE PATIENT'S CHART. Thank you. That'll be [exorbitant fee here].)

Procedures were reviewed, policies were implemented, blah blah blah. Then: it happened again.

WHAT? How hard can it be? It's not brain sur... oh. It IS brain surgery. Be fucking careful, for God's sake!

Obviously the article in the Globe isn't the whole story, but what other side of the story could there be, to make this understandable?

Note to self: no intracranial bleeding in Rhode Island, ever.


So proclaims my Peanut to everyone she sees today. Including the Bean's school bus driver, a lovely man who greeted the news with appropriate joy. And the FedEx truck driver. And various people walking their doggies. And the doggies. She's going to be a riot at the grocery store.

Well, it is her first day. If she's still broadcasting this bulletin in the new year, I'll tell her to cut it out.

But about time, eh? She's three and a half. I was beginning to wonder if toilet training would ever hold more than passing interest for her. She didn't seem as motivated as the Bean was. Bean also started at three and a half, but once she decided to go for it, she was done within a week. She used to cling to me for dear life as she sat on the Big Potty, but she was so determined. Peanut? She didn't care so much. She's definitely happy about it, but she didn't have such intensity behind the effort. She'd be smiling and singing when she used the potty, smiling and singing when she didn't. Either way was fine with her for a few weeks. So the Road to Underpants has been a longer one.

Either way, you get there. Needless to say, I'm quite proud; but I'm also pleased by what the process shows of their personalities. The Bean, we've been saying since the day she was born, is "such a serious Bean!" Of course she's also a very funny Bean, but it's clear she's got focus and determination, and gets joy from the results. The Peanut is perhaps more flexible. She's definitely not going to let anything get her down for long.

It is so cool to see their personality traits developing and serving them well in these and other endeavors. Today the potty, tomorrow, who knows?


Hm. Best put a change of clothes in the car, just in case.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Brokeback Mountain

A few weeks ago I finally got to see Brokeback Mountain, the 2005 film directed by Ang Lee, and based on the terrific short story by Annie Proulx. It's the last story in Close Range, her book of short stories set in Wyoming. And hot damn, is it good.

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal give powerful performances as Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist, who meet when they take summer jobs herding sheep. One maintains the base camp, the other spends the night higher up Brokeback with the sheep, coming down to camp for breakfast and dinner.

One thing, as they say, leads to another, though Ang Lee doesn't rush things. They fall in love. And yes, there's the sex scene. Hot damn, again.

At the end of the summer they go their separate ways; Ennis to his wedding, Jack to the rodeo circuit and eventually south to Texas, where he too marries. Four years go by. Ennis and his wife have two daughters, Jack and his wife, a son. Jack sends Ennis a postcard -- how 'bout a visit? Ennis sends back: You bet. When Jack shows up, they are on fire for each other.

"Friend," said Jack. "We got us a fuckin situation here. Got a figure out what to do."

Well. It's a tragic story, really. And although it's a cliche to say that the location is itself a character in the story, the sense of place in this film is essential. Up the mountain it's so beautiful it hurts to look at; down, it's so bleak you can feel the dust in your own eyes. Or maybe that's my friends' new hi-def TV. In any case the symbolism is important. Up there be love. Down there be life.

Who knew Heath Ledger was this good? Gyllenhaal too. They're both amazing in these roles, as is the supporting cast in theirs. The screenplay is excellent. Not once was I mentally interrupted by a wrong note, as sometimes happens in dramas, something strikes me slightly off and it takes a moment to rationalize or forgive the flaw and get back into the film. Not in this movie; not once.

See it, if you haven't.

New. Improved?

Stop & Shop has recently installed a "self-scanning" system in most of its Cape Cod stores and probably elsewhere. Not the self-check out, which has been in place for years now, so we consumers are used to the idea of doing stuff for ourselves. This is the next step in fully automated, employee-free shopping: a scan-and-bag-as-you-go, pay-at-the-end system. No humans required.

Here's how it works, in theory: You enter the store, get a cart, scan your card at the stand, pick up a handheld scanner and some bags. Proceed through the store, scanning items as you put them in the bags. Done shopping? Head right to a self checkout, scan an "end of order" barcode posted there, scan your card again, pay the total, return the scanner, and scram, smiling at the time you saved bagging as you shopped, while the rest of the poor consumer schmoes shopped the conventional way and are now stuck staring blankly at the latest cover photos of Brangelina while they wait for a cashier to become available.

Here's how it works, in reality: You enter the store, get a cart, stop just inside the door with said cart while you get out your card. Wait for people ahead of you to pick up their scanners. Scan your card at the kiosk. It doesn't work. Try again. It doesn't work. Try again. It works. Pick up a handheld scanner. Get bags. Empty plastic bags don't stay open in the cart, so you use paper. Open up a few paper bags in the cart. Head to produce section for squash. Select a lovely squash, grown, oddly, without a bar code. How to scan it? Park squash in top of the cart (getting crowded up there with a scanner and a child and a squash), because you don't want to bag it till you've scanned it. Look around for a scale. Find one on the opposite side of the produce section. It doesn't work. Find one that works. Someone is using it. Wait till they're done. Put squash on scale, and key in the PLU code... um, there's no sticker on the squash. Look up the code on the handy chart over the scale... is it under b for butternut, or s for squash? Key in the code. Print out a bar code. Scan the bar code. Put squash in bag. Repeat for every item of produce you need. (I did learn to select all my produce first, pile it on top of the protesting child, then go to the scale to print labels all at once, but still, the idea that this is a timesaver? is just silly.) Proceed through other aisles. When bagging cans, rearrange produce items already bagged, so they won't get squished. Midway through shopping, run out of bags. Go back to scanner stand for more. Resume shopping. When finished, head to a self-check out. Scan card. Scan end of order bar code. Hear buzzing noise. Repeat. Hear buzzing noise. Scan end of order bar code first, then card. It works. Pay the total, return scanner and unused bags, and scram, wondering 1) if you really saved any time, or if you're the schmo, and 2) if Brangelina are still the picture of family bliss.

What I like about it:
  • When I'm shopping for just a few things, and without children in tow, and using my giant flat-bottomed tote bag instead of grocery bags... under those circumstances only, it is faster.
  • The no-humans required part. More than once a well-intentioned cashier or bagger has said strange things to my children, and/or touched them. This is not OK with me. Frankly, I don't mind not dealing with store employees for that and other reasons, especially in flu season.
  • The endless variety of bar codes is kind of fascinating. Yeah, I'm reaching here.
  • It's cool to save an extra few dollars for using it, but the "incentive" period is over soon.
What I don't like about it:
  • The scanner racks are located just inside the store entrance. They need to be more out of the way so as not to create a big clog of people and carts right where it's least convenient to block the way.
  • If I misjudge how many bags I need, even by one, it's a hassle. Too many and I have to return the extras, too few and I have to come back, against traffic flow, to get more, which may be not enough again or too many, so repeat that as needed. I know the store throws away plastic bags that are unused but not untouched. The potential for waste bothers me.
  • Picking up and putting down the scanner a thousand times is a pain in the ass. You can't hold the thing all the time and have your hands free, so you pick up an item, pick up the scanner, scan, put the scanner down, put the item in the bag, instead of just picking up an item, putting it in the cart, and moving on.
  • The scanner makes a "ka-CHING!" sound at you every few minutes to advertise a product you can get for 50 cents less if you're using the scanner. I don't want anything to make a "ka-CHING!" sound at me every few minutes unless it is going to start spitting out hundred dollar bills. There is no way to turn off the "ka-CHING!" sound.
  • I shop the store systematically, end-to-end: produce first, dairy and frozen products last. But I don't want my stuff bagged in that order. If I bag as I go, I have to either rearrange things periodically, or shop for heavy products first, stuff I don't want crushed, last. But neither logic nor the store layout (coincidence, I know) dictates shopping that way. People say it doesn't make sense to load your cart, unload it to pay for things, then load it again. But packing-wise, it makes very good sense. I take things out of the cart and put them on the belt in the order I want them bagged.
  • Not my problem, I guess, but this system strikes me as a loss-prevention nightmare. I guess Stop&Shop figures they'll make up the difference in cashiers not hired.

Now, I'm the first to admit I can be reluctant to change. I don't store music on my computer. I am a text message virgin. I even still write checks to pay bills. However, I am not going to become one of those elderly grouches who complains about newfangled this n' that and how everything was better in 1952. I well know that new does sometimes mean better. DVD is way better than VHS. My Dell is way better than my PowerMac. My husband is way better than my ex-husband.

But since my shopping habits are formed -- nay, honed -- deliberately and for good reasons, I'm not eager to change them to make things more convenient for the store. Because this new system is not proving to be more convenient for me, which I'm falsely (and straight-facedly!) told is supposed to be the point.

Which brings me to my last objection: At least in some stores, the scan-it-yourself system is being rather aggressively promoted. If you express any reservations whatever about it, you are either outright pooh-poohed as behind the times, or met with affected surprise -- "really? No one else has said that" with "obviously, you are some kind of dolt" clearly implicit -- which I find insulting, both when it happens to me and when I hear it happening to other customers.

We bond, those other customers and I. We are not falling for it.

And yes, most of them are older folks... sigh.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Right, so it's Thanksgiving on Thursday. We'll just be cooking for seven, not too daunting.

Our menu's pretty ordinary, which is to say, all good. If it were up to me I'd just do a turkey breast in the slow cooker, but Mr. Sandy wants a whole bird, so Mr. Sandy is going to roast a whole bird. He's also going to make a new stuffing recipe with wheat bread and dates. I'm bringing the Pepperidge Farm stuff as a fallback. Everyone knows the stuffing is the best part of the meal, and there's no sense taking a chance on not loving it. This is no time to live on the edge, if you ask me.

"Traditional" ingredients I will not use include marshmallows (really, what the!) and canned mushroom soup. I mean, come on.

We'll have:
roast turkey, stuffing and gravy
cranberry jelly (yes, out of the can with a "ploop" into a dish, sliced to make the can rings less visible, but not fooling anyone)
mashed Yukon Gold potatoes
butternut squash
green beans

What have I forgotten? Dinner rolls. Do we need rolls? I guess.

Also, this year the Peanut made some cranberry "relish." It was easy and she's crazy-proud of it. Put half a cup of whole cranberries, half a (peeled) clementine, a third cup of applesauce, 2 t. sugar, all in a blender, and, well, blend. Put some cream cheese on Wheat Thins and dab some of this stuff on top. It isn't really relish if you puree it -- shouldn't relish be chunkier? -- but it's good.

And pies! I'll make a pumpkin and an apple tomorrow.

How bout you? What's your Thanksgiving dinner? And can you explain the marshmallow thing?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Everybody talks about the weather...

Noted and Blogged interrupts your regular program to inform you:

It is snowing.

I used to live in western Massachusetts, which I truly loved, but snow before Thanksgiving was not why.

When I moved here, I thought with happy relief of the relatively snow-free Cape Cod winters everyone (except fishers*) talks about, which one could make a case, if one were so inclined, have not materialized in my almost-a-decade on this fair peninsula. One could.

On the upside, we have had some remarkably warm Decembers before the blizzards dumped down on us. And a good foot+ of snow once a year or so is fun.

And, as we say here in New England, if you don't like the weather, wait a minute. Now, for example, the sun is shining.

We return you to your regularly scheduled program.

*why aren't they called fishers? Hunters aren't called "huntermen," and fishers aren't all male. While we're at it, why is a fisher cat called that, if it has nothing to do with fish or cats? Something to do with the French. Mais oui.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

License Plates Again

So the other day I'm headed east on Route 6 (it's what passes for a highway on Cape Cod) and I came up behind this license plate, on an older Mercury Grand Marquis going about 40 mph:


and I thought, this'll be kind of funny if it's some ancient person driving around with 1 on their plate, like they got the very first one.

And it was. This veeerrrrry elderly couple was doing a convincing imitation of the first drivers ever.

Actually I think there's a lottery for low license plate numbers in Massachusetts, and it's supposed to be random, but an inordinate number of politically connected people end up with 'em.

You never can tell what some people will buy.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Ever had a cat that didn't wake you up to be fed in the morning? Lucky you.

(If I stole this video from your blog, please let me know so I can say thanks and link to you. I haven't the foggiest idea where I first saw it...)

Dark Times

It's 4:17 PM as I type, and the sun is well on its way down.

I can remember a time when I didn't mind the shorter days, but in recent years I have felt it dragging me down some. High-latitude readers, help me out. What do you do to fight the blahs?

Also, here come The Holidays (dum dum DUMMMMMMM!). Not to be a total downer -- and this is probably a rotten thing to say, as a parent -- but just between us grownups? Christmas has become something I don't particularly enjoy any more. There, I said it.

I know, it's Not About Me.

And I don't mean to whine. Just to say to other folks whose favorite time of year this isn't: I feel ya. I do.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Saving your ass.

I hardly ever watch television, largely because I'm not willing to subject myself to loud, obnoxious and unrelenting efforts to sell me crap I don't want, don't need, and probably think the world would be better off without.

But I have to say, television adverts in other countries are better.

Imagine the auditions for this one, which aired in Canada:

Monday, November 12, 2007

License Plates

I saw a rather horrid vanity plate here in Not So Far Away today. It said:


Now why would anyone want that on their car? Even if it's a joke or a spoof, it seems, I dunno, like bad karma (har!) to carry that label around. The car's windows were too darkly tinted (probably illegally so) for me to check out who might've thought that was a good idea. For whatever it's worth, the car was a white (Chrysler calls it "vanilla") Chrysler 300, which I actually sort of like, in a cool-but-not-my-style kind of way. Ironically, Chrysler's tag line for it on their web site is "Vanity plates would be redundant." Well. In this case, one hopes not.

The next one I saw: BOOK. Delightfully benign by comparison. Book, as in read a book? or as in bookin' down the highway? or, probably, the driver's name or nickname.

Plates I like, seen when I lived in California:

42N8 K9

I also remember seeing a plate that said "OVER IT," and thinking that nothing could more clearly broadcast that s/he isn't.

Unlike tattoos, I can imagine getting a vanity plate, if I ever thought of the right thing to put on one. Oh, and if it didn't cost anything. So, um, never. I guess I take it back. Maybe I am over it.

Ah well. Do you have a vanity plate? Would you get one, if they didn't cost anything?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Well. That was odd.

I am on a trip to Not So Far Away. When my plane landed yesterday, our chief flight attendant gave his little talk about how we should stay seated still until the plane reached the gate, be careful opening the overhead bins in case things fall out, etc. Standard air travel babble. Then he said, "we love you all, and now I'm going to sing you a song" and proceeded to perform a passable rendition of this familiar John Denver tune:

"You fill up my senses
Like a night in the forest
Like the mountains in springtime
Like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert
Like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses
Come fill me again"

And on one hand... geez, can't a person just deplane without some uninvited wackiness?

But on the other, it was an oddly lovely, funny thing.

Yes, it was Southwest Airlines.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Layer Cake

I've been meaning to post about Layer Cake (2004), in which Daniel Craig plays a drug dealer whose early retirement plans are seriously thwarted. (The title on the DVD is "L4yer Cake." Why the 4? I dunno. I know that there's a way to write in which numbers are substituted for some letters, but why it's used in this particular title, I have no idea, because the movie has nothing to do with computers or text messaging or anything like that. And now that I've yet again proved myself hopelessly unhip, please ask a teenager what it means -- or explain it yourself, but pretend you had to ask a teenager -- and get back to me.)

We never learn Craig's character's name; he is called "XXXX" in the credits. It's clear he's not your garden-variety thug. He considers himself purely a businessman -- dislikes violence, doesn't make enemies or snort the merchandise -- and having stashed away a boatload of money, now just wants out to live a comfortable life. Unfortunately the guy he works for wants one more job done, and wouldn't ya know it turns out not to be quite so simple. XXXX is supposed to buy and sell a bunch of stolen ecstacy, but the Serbs it was stolen from are both ruthless and really pissed off, and the jackass who stole it is in way over his head, a complete loose cannon. XXXX is also charged with finding the missing, drug addicted daughter of his boss's boss. He hates both assignments. These are the kinds of messy jobs he's specifically avoided, keeping his eye on a higher prize. But, whatcha gonna do.

Of course, complications upon complications ensue, and things spiral out of control. "Welcome to the layer cake," the boss's boss says in a pivotal scene. Whatever that means. Yeah, layers, social strata, I get that. But it still seemed a forced metaphor, and it distracted me. Mmmmm, caaaake.

Hm. That probably says more about me than about the movie.

In any event Craig is worth watching, natch -- you can see why Barbara Broccoli liked him for Bond -- and all in all, Layer Cake is pretty good, for a crime flick. The director, Matthew Vaughn, is the guy who produced the London underworld movies Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, directed by Guy Ritchie (aka Mr. Madonna, and isn't that marriage remarkably stable?). I personally preferred Ritchie's films overall (even though the accents are so thick we Yanks can't understand a third of what's said in 'em), because they have a kind of wackiness to them that Layer Cake seems deliberately to avoid.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

That's it, I'm finally dumping her.

I have had it up to HERE (OK, I'm short. But I've HAD it, I tell you!) with my doctor's office.

A regular prescription of mine has almost run out, and I need a few more doses to cover me until my appointment next week. A simple matter. The whole thing should take a total of maybe one person-hour, including my phoning it in, the receptionist taking the message, the nurse confirming and authorizing the scrip, the pharmacist filling it, and my going to get it.

I call at 9:30 AM. Get the answering service. The office isn't open yet (!). I leave a message.

Nobody calls back.

I call again at 1:50 PM. Get the answering service. The office is still closed for lunch (!!). I leave a message.

Nobody calls back.

I call again at 4:05 PM. Get the answering service. The office closed for the day at 4:00.

What the?!

Every time I call that office -- maybe three times a year? but it's enough -- something like this happens. Today's business is not a big deal. When I really hurt my back last winter (hoisting my large, elderly, drunk neighbor up off my front lawn -- next time I'll just call the EMTs and watch the show from my study window, thank you very much) that was a big deal. I vowed then to change doctors, and just never got around to it. But these things are best done before there's a crisis, and their unresponsiveness today is a reminder to get on it.

Much as I like my doctor on the rare (hypochondria post notwithstanding, I'm reasonably healthy) occasions I see her in person, this aggravation isn't worth it. Going to see her always means waiting at least an hour, even with a morning appointment booked weeks in advance. Which might be fine for docile and/or otherwise unoccupied retirees, but for us, it basically means Mr. Sandy has to take a whole day off work to allow for an appointment that shouldn't consume more than an hour of the day, including driving there and back. I definitely can't count on being out of there in time to meet the bus home from school, no matter how early the appointment is.


So I'm dumping her. I'll tell her why; I'll be calm, I'll be polite. I won't be apologetic, and I won't change my mind.

Oh, and irony: The prescription is for high blood pressure medicine. You can bet Nurse Stupid will advise me to "reduce stress in my life." Will do, lady. Will do.

Hear ye, hear ye!

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Hi, my name is Sandy, and I'm a Hypochondriac

A partial list of conditions -- just the ones I can think of at the moment -- that at one time or another I have been convinced or terrified I might have:

acid reflux
anxiety/panic disorder
attention deficit disorder
Barrett's esophagus
bipolar disorder
blood clot
brain tumor
cancer: brain, cervical, esophageal, ovarian, skin
chronic depression
chronic fatigue syndrome
deep vein thrombosis
heart attack
irritable bowel syndrome
Lyme disease
metabolic syndrome
multiple sclerosis
Parkinson's Disease

Of those, I actually have had:
acid reflux
pregnancy (No, not currently.)

So does this make me a hypochondriac? It does, doesn't it! Oh, my, God.

It's funny, but it also isn't. There's a low-level background anxiety (disorder? is it? IS IT???) to all this that I wish would just go away. Humor helps. If I have a bad headache, Mr. Sandy might ask if the brain tumor is acting up again, and the out loud ridiculousness of the question dispels any silly subconscious worry. Same when I tell him I can't sleep because the esophageal cancer is keeping me awake. I know I don't have these things. The possibility still pops into my head sometimes. Knowing it ain't so doesn't help.

And some of it isn't silly. Hypertension is in my family, and I got it. Just the cards I was dealt. So on some level I'm waiting for diabetes and glaucoma and colitis to follow, and I'm scared! These conditions do happen to people, and some of them (the conditions, not necessarily the people) are awful.

And there's the whole self-fulfilling prophesy factor to consider. If you dwell on something, mightn't it come true? Huh? HUH? Isn't there a whole school (maybe "school" is putting it kindly) of thought (maybe "thought" is putting it super-kindly) that says you can make yourself seriously ill by thinking like this?

When I'm feeling fine, I'm quite reasonable. Here's what I think: That the simplest explanation is almost always the likeliest; that yes, there are conditions to watch for and do my best to prevent, but that worrying doesn't help.

In the middle of the night, with a new ache or pain -- that's a different story.

Gaaah. I don't want to be such a worrier! It's not really me, y'know?
Unless I DO have anxiety disorder.

I'd better go update my will, or something.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Tagged! The Dream Meme.

Thank you to Bunny for tagging me to do the Dream Meme! We share two dreams, as it turns out. Guess which ones, then check hers to see.

Part of the reason it’s taken a while to get to this is that it taps into a Long, Serious, Navel-Gazing Post that’s been lurking in the back of my mind for a while, the theme of which is that I have a graduate degree in geology, but I’m not suited to, not especially good at, and don’t like the jobs I’ve had as a geologist, so I probably won’t get back into it when I’m looking for paid work again. That means a “second career,” which feeds into all the hackneyed crap that’s been written and said about re-entering the workforce as a middle-aged mother with no tangible qualifications. I’m not ready to face it yet.

But for now, good grief, it’s just a meme, so I should relax and type, already. Instructions are to “write five things you want to be when you grow up. Big dreams that seem like folly, but in your heart of hearts are very real and dear to you. Things that maybe you have forgotten about in the ebb and flow and toil of the everyday, but that never really leave your soul. What would you do if anything was possible?”

OK, in my heart of hearts, I'd like to be a(n):

1. Nutritionist. I love it when I read something like “pomegranate contains anthocyanins, compounds which protect tissues from free radicals, have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, lower risk of cardiovascular and neurological conditions, lower blood pressure, aid in oxidation of LDL cholesterol, and improve blood flow.” (Holy cow! I want pomegranates in my house right now! I want them to do the dishes and vacuum under the couch, too!) It makes me want to learn all about anthocyanins and how they do this stuff, and whether the hype is substance or hot air, and how much of it comes from the Association of Desperate Pomegranate Growers. I’ve also read that cinnamon has blood sugar-regulating properties -- that’s so cool! -- and a thousand other things about a thousand other mysterious compounds that we can get in good, whole, fresh foods. I want to know all that stuff -- I want to organize and store and relay and USE all that information instead of just reading it in Cooking Light and saying “huh. Nifty.”

2. Editor. This dream is a bit more than pie-in-the-sky. I do get to do some editing once in a while, and to my delight I’ve found that I’m very good at it. I can spot a typo, misspelled word or misplaced comma at two hundred yards, so that’s useful, but I’ve also got a very good ear for the right word, and a knack for questions of style, order, and consistency. I love this kind of work. You know how sometimes when you’re doing something that comes easily and seems kind of fun, like you might enjoy it for a hobby, or you can’t NOT do it, it’s hard to believe you’re being paid for it? No? Me neither. But this would be how an editing job would feel to me, some days.

3. From the sublime to the ridiculous: Rock star. Now of course you are thinking “but Sandy, as a geologist, aren’t you already a rock star? Ha! Ha!” But putting aside the fact that I wasn’t exactly stellar at geology, I mean rock star in the non-gooberish* sense. Specifically drummer, or bass guitarist. Do you ever hear a stretch of music that makes you put everything else down and just melt with it, become part of it? When that happens to me, I don’t mentally put myself on the lead guitar, or singing lead vocals. What makes me happiest is to get under the music -- find the bass line or the percussion, and groove with that while the other parts soar all around. I have some rhythm aptitude, potentially strong arms, and a definite need to bang on things, and I’ve heard enough stupid drummer jokes to know that this is all it takes to succeed in that business, right? So I think I’ll join a band and bang the bongos and be a rock star. Heh. That ain't workin'. That would, well, rock.

*I looked up goober, expecting to read "see: dork." But "goober" means "peanut." Who knew? Which brings me to:

4. Librarian. Really. Stay with me on this. Library Science is one of the academic Paths Not Taken that I’m kind of wistful about, and which I would consider even now if there were a local program. I love libraries, yes. (One of many reasons it was hard to get work done in college is that the dorm was too distracting, and the library was too tempting. I could wander the stacks for hours. Days. Probably weeks, with the occasional sandwich delivered by an unseen someone and cleverly left for me to discover next to a biography of the Earl of Sandwich! Hm. Too obvious, maybe.) But more importantly for a career choice, I’m drawn to the methodical, the systematic, the orderly (see my alphabetized spice rack? Right, well, maybe that’s a few blocks past “drawn to” and into “compulsive about,” so never mind). I’m jazzed by knowing how to dig up all kinds of information. I am delighted to discover a new reference. I think our nation’s libraries should be funded on the scale of, say, the space shuttle program. They should be hallowed halls, sacred places, repositories of learning both ancient and new. And they should be accessible and pleasant places, but that’d have to be someone else’s domain, because although I could love specialized or university library work, in a public setting I might be prone to becoming one of those don’t-touch-my-archives-till-you’ve-proven-you’re-worthy type librarians. Yikes.

5. Therapist. This has actually been suggested to me from time to time. I’m a perceptive, calm and thoughtful person, grounded, sometimes insightful, occasionally even wise. I listen effectively. I am supportive, open-minded, hard to shock. There isn’t much I haven’t heard. I don’t think there’s much I couldn’t help people through. In fact the only reason I don’t hang a shingle right now is for lack of honest credentials. Someone mail me some honest credentials, mkay?

In truth I think patience is my limiting factor here, and aside from the practical considerations of getting an appropriate degree and setting up shop, that’s what prevents me from pursuing this dream in real life. I wouldn’t be very good with addiction therapy, for instance, or with situations where people have more invested in complaining about the status quo than they’re willing to give up to make changes. I’m solution-oriented and not always very good at not seeing progress. Still, I know that I have a talent for listening to people and helping them with what’s on their minds, so it’s a possibility I never really let go.

So there it is. I know none of it (except the rock star part, and I even made that as uncool as possible) is particularly thrilling. It’s as if I get a chance to do a no-holds-barred dream list and all I can come up with is “um... so I’ve always secretly wanted to be an actuary...” But what I want, when the time comes, is a job that 1) taps my aptitudes 2) happens in a setting that suits my personality, and 3) adds some good to the world, for lack of a better way to say that.

Think how exciting your dreams will look by comparison! If you read this, and you want to do it, consider yourself tagged. Let me know where to find your list.