Linda's blog

AKRON: 13 April 03

I have a confession.
I'm not quite sure how to word it, but, I am - well, no, not OCD. That's still a diagnostic term, and it's been inaccurately used to the point of stupidity. Not anal-rententive, either. That sounds... unpleasant. And dated.

My confession, then, is this: I am a fussbudget.
Not, I have to say, about everything. Certainly not housekeeping, but that's a whole other confession. More specifically, I am a fussbudget about labeling.

One of the first things I did once I settled into my position here was to go over the desk and bulletin board and pull down everything, rearrange it, and in most cases, redo it on the computer for posting purposes. I combined and condensed notes, discarded outdated information, reformatted and realigned lines of text, and changed fonts to make notes more distinctive. I also relabelled all the file folders in a nice clean font (Felix Titling, for the font geeks).

Next - replacing the handwritten inserts in the fleet vehicles' key tags with a tidy (if unimaginative) Times New Roman. Clean, clear, uniform, and legible - what's not to love?

More recently, I relabeled the hooks and holders for the fleet vehicles' keys and mileage paperwork. I had to. They were labeled with the punch-style label tape. They were old, battered, hard to read, and not even all the same colour, so I made nice signs for each. I got a few comments and compliments on the fact that it was now so easy to tell which clear acrylic holder was designated for which vehicle.

Today, though, was my moment of realization that I was, indeed, a labeling fussbudget. I took down all the labeling for the fleet vehicles that I had so carefully created a month or six weeks ago... and I replaced it with larger, colour-coded signs. Yes. It's true - blue paper for the blue vehicle, white for one of the white ones, goldenrod for the gold one, grey for silver, and orchid for the second white one. Not only is the holder labeled (a decently-sized 4x4", with 55pt Arial (bolded) for the vehicle names), but so is the hook space, and the fact that the vehicle has a toll road transponder. I have even redone the key tag inserts in the same colour. I draw the line, though, at confessing how much time I spent trying to get the keys to hang so that the coloured insert in the tag would be visible.

And now I'm sitting at my desk, noticing a few squares of paper with handwritten notes on them, a sign that explains a procedure that is no longer followed, a chart that is missing some information I need with some regularity, a phone list that needs updating...

Fussbudget. What can I say?

Akron: 13 March 11: What's that bright thing in the sky?

This weekend, we had sunshine.

This is a big deal. It's been grey and hazy pretty much continuously for the last month, but on Saturday and Sunday, we had sunshine. The sky was blue, the sun was bright and warm, and I wandered around Lancaster Central Market with my jacket unzipped.

Yes, we were in Lancaster on Saturday morning, checking out some of the downtown sights. Lancaster Central Market is an indoor farmer's market. It has food stands, delis, produce, and a couple of craft-type places. And, lest I forget, one stall that sells only fresh celery. Nothing else - just celery. Best celery available worldwide, according to its fans, but still... celery? as a viable business plan? I am once again amazed at how much one can specialize in this neck of the woods. There were a variety of small shops - antiques and various specialties - that we visited as well. Didn't buy anything except a couple of packs of Beeman's gum, but I expect to be going back again ere long to purchase some teas that are not available in Manitoba for various family members. (incidentally, there are official Middle Earth/Hobbit teas, and they are products of Lancaster County.)

Yesterday, more sun and a trip to Philadelphia. After we dropped some people off at the airport, we went to see the Liberty Bell, wandered around downtown for a bit, then out to Passyunk Avenue for cheesesteaks. We tried a cheesesteak by the upstart contender for the title of Best Philly Cheesesteak, Geno's Steaks. We're back in Philly this coming weekend, so we'll try out the original then, at Pat's Steaks. Contrary to what you might think, the steak is not a solid chunk of meat - it's shaved and fried, and served in a hoagie bun with onions and cheese. Rather tasty, too, but Pat's and Geno's owe at least some of their popularity - and both of them had twenty or more people in line at 3:30 on a Sunday afternoon - to the hype surrounding the rivalry, as well as to the quality of the product. Geno's was unquestionably efficient, though - we waited less than ten minutes, closer to five, to get to the head of the line, and less than a minute from placing the order to getting our food.

But the sunshine - that was the best part of the weekend. On Saturday, we dragged chairs out onto our miniature deck and sat in shirtsleeves, feet bare, basking in the sun and eating crackers, cheese, and olives. It was glorious.

What I'm reading now: 13 March 07

Well, the knitting project is finished as of last night (with the help of an NCIS:LA marathon), and will be brought to work tomorrow to be shown off. After that, it will be carefully packaged and sent by InLaw Express to its proper destination... but everything in good time.

I did, in the meantime, find time to read something: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecc Skloot. A lot of scientific research, particularly in human biology and pathology, relies on studying the reactions of cells grown in petri dishes to various substances and conditions. An overwhelming number of those cells are from what's known as the HeLa line. He La is derived from Henrietta Lacks, a black woman who died of an incredibly aggressive cancer in the 1950's, but whose cells continue to live and multiply. Author Rebecca Skloot has researched not just the start of this line of research - one of the first lines of cells to stay alive in laboratory conditions - but also Henrietta's life, and the lives of the family she left behind - none of whom knew anything about HeLa for twenty years. It's a fascinating story, thoroughly researched, and written with clarity and sympathy toward a woman and a family who continue to feel left out of their own family's history. 

Akron: 13 February 23: Furry Things

For the first few months here, we saw squirrels everywhere. There are a lot of them, mostly fat'n'sassy types who are cautious of humans, but not overly paranoid. For a while, it seemed like every walk between the apartment and the office was punctuated at least once by one of the other of us abruptly pointing and saying "Squirrel!" (Well, to be strictly accurate, it was more like "SQURL!!") They're not as much in evidence right now, which I attribute to the chill in the air, but we'll see what happens when it warms up next month.

There are also rabbits around here. We don't see them as often as we do squirrels, but it's not uncommon to see a rabbit crouching on the lawn as we pass by in the dark. They're short-eared, brown, and very cute - and quite shy.

Cats, on the other hand, we see very seldom. Apparently a local bylaw prohibits allowing your pet cat to roam free - which probably explains the plethora of SQURL!!s and bunnies. It makes seeing a cat all the more welcome when it happens, as it did last night at choir practice, when two of them were crossing the parking lot. Neither was inclined to stay and chat or be admired, but it was lovely to see them. (Can you tell I miss my Tailsome Twosome?)