This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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May 2005
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Scared Puppy

Last night there were thunder storms in our part of Florida. The kind with the big long rumbly thunder that seems to last minutes. And then more start. Princely was scared. Very scared. He does not like thunderstorms.

He had woken me up sometime int he middle of the night to let me know that he HAD to got out. Right then. So I let him out onto the tieout we have in the back. A little while later, when he called to be let in, after I let him off his tie, he SHOT back into the house, and immediately into the bedroom. He is not normally allowed into the bedroom due to my allergies… although unfortunately I have been becoming lax lately, and he no longer recognizes that he is not allowed there. He has snuck in too many times without being told he has to leave.

Anyway, it wasn’t really raining yet, but the thunder was starting up. I got back into bed. Princely paced for a few minutes and was sort of whining and whimpering. He was scared. Then, without even asking like he sometimes does, he jumped up onto the bed (not always easy for an old dog like him) and wiggled his way between Brandy and myself and buried his face in the pillow between us. He was all shaky and scared.

So, of course, we let him stay. There was just no saying no to a poor little 100+ pound scared puppy who was desperately looking for his parents to keep him safe. Nope. No saying no.

Several times over the course of the night when there was a particularly loud round of thunder, he would suddenly sit up and look around and look very worried. Then he would snuggle back down between us looking for protection.

By morning, the thunder had subsided, and Princely was all sleeping luxourously between us. As he twisted and turned to be comfortable though, Brandy got the “wrong end of the dog”. She didn’t seem to thrilled by that, but hey, at least it wans’t me. :-)

I think he did this once before during a particularly bad thunderstorm. He always prefers being near us when we sleep at night. But only during the really big thunderstorms does he insist on being not just near us, but WITH us.

He is cute, but for such a big dog, he sure is a scardy dog! :-)

Meanwhile, unbenounced to us until morning, Amy had also had the same idea. We found her in the morning not in her bed, but on the couch outside our bedroom, having moved sometime during the night to be closer to us. Luckily, she did not also try to climb into bed. Cause while three can fit (barely). Four can not. :-)

Of course, due to sleeping with the dog, I am all congested and blurry eyed and a little wheezy today. So hopefully we’ll be able to keep the thunderstorms for the daytime for the next few weeks at least, cause I like being able to breathe in the mornings.

Book: Wicked

imageAuthor: Gregory Maguire
Started: 15 May 2005
Finished: 30 May 2005
409 p / 16 d
26 p/d

I saw the musical of this a little over a year ago. It was great fun. Went with Brandy and Amy. Soon after I saw there was a book. I think I got copies as presents for a couple of people at one point or another. I knew that the book was darker and more political than the play, which while it had a few serious undertones if you looked for them, was basically a fun and lighthearted romp. One of the people I gave the book too was my teenage sister. I figured she’d like the political and animal rights bits… Oops, make that Animal rights. In any case, as I read the book the one thing I had NOT realized was different about the book was the sex. Yup, it has a bunch of sex. Including with Animals. And I gave it to my 14 year old (at the time) sister. Oops. She read it long before I did and sent an email saying it was “interesting”. :-)

Well, odd sexual bits aside, it definately was interesting. I like the whole idea of looking at a story from the side of one of the supporting characters. It is just a concept that gets my attention. First time I remember coming across that sort of thing was Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. We read the play in high school. I think I saw the actual play once. Never saw the movie I just linked to. Anyway, it got my attention right away. I don’t remember much of it, but I remember the concept.

It worked well with Bean in the second set of Ender books written from Bean’s perspective. (I haven’t read all of those yet though.)

Anyway, I like the concept. In this case, tell the life story of the Wicked Witch of the West. Who is she really? Why is she how she is? What leads up to the events we all know in the Wizard of Oz. I liked a lot of the excecution. It is much darker than the play, and I think in some ways TOO dark and serious and political. I like it darker and more serious, but at times I think it went a little too far than needed to make the point. I do like how it is all put together though, and was facinated by the investigation into the backstory.

The ending is of course COMPLETLY different from the play. The play’s ending was a little cheesy, but the book just hammers the negativity down and down and down… the witch just fails at everything utterly, and it ends as it did in the original Oz. Very tragic, very sad. Poor witch. I’m OK with the unhappy ending itself, but what drives me nuts is the number of loose ends left open. Question after question after questions are raised, but then they are all left open and unresolved.

Of course, I guess that is part of the point. Still frustrating though.

I did like it though. The author has apperantly done a couple more of these. One on Cinderella and one on Snow White. I am tempted, but not sure I’ll be jumping right on reading those. Maybe. I’ll think about it a bit.

I do recommend reading Wicked. But if given a choice between the book and the musical, in this case I’d pick the musical. (Although it is a shame that Kristin Chenowith has moved on to bigger and better things. She was an increadible Galinda!)

DC Excuses

OK, now those of you in the greater Washington, DC area no longer have any excuse not to visit some weekend this summer!

Delta adds D.C. flights
(Wayne Price, Florida Today)

Delta Air Lines will begin offering two daily nonstop flights from Melbourne International Airport to Washington, D.C., and back, beginning July 1.

Fifty-seat regional jets will fly from Melbourne International to Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Va., about 26 miles from downtown Washington.

Delta’s Web site is listing the round-trip fares from Melbourne to Washington in July at $176.90.

See you all soon!

Swimming Infinity

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One Ear

imageWhen I was up in Pittsburgh for the wedding, I felt a little bit of a lump in my throat, and when I swallowed I would feel it a little bit in my ear. Nothing big, but something. I did not think much of it. And then I flew home…

The decent into Orlando was very uncomfortable. The pressure bothered me a lot more than usual. And then once I was off the plane, it did not go away in my right ear. It continued to feel like it was under pressure, and it was hard to hear out of that ear.

As it turns out, Amy had a stomach flu that day, and as soon as I got home, Brandy and I traded off Amy, and my job was to take Amy to her new Doctor. (New cause Brandy now has new health insurance from work, so we found someone under her plan.) So, I took AMy into the doctor. But the whole time I was there, my ear was bothering me. And not just bothering me, but getting worse. So, as we were finishing up with Amy, I signed myself up to be seen next. (The doctor is in my plan too, and I may just switch… I like my old doctor, but this one is closer to home, and it might be good for the whole family to just go the same place.)

Anyway, one look in my ear and she says: “Oh yeah, you have an ear infection. It is very swollen in there.” And my throat wasn’t all that good off either. She said there was one spot in the membrane that was obviously weak and sticking out. She said it could break at any moment, and if it broke it would be right there.

Urgh! I had a friend who got an ear infection on a plane, and then ended up having to have many surgeries and losing his hearing in that ear. Ouch! But she assured me that the little nub where it would break if it broke was small, and would heal if it broke. So I have visions of a small hole breaking in my eardrum and pus squirting out of that ear at high velocity. Of course, it would most likely just ooze.

She basically said that if it broke, the pressure would suddenly be relieved, but then I wouldn’t be able to swim or anything until it heals (which takes a decent amount of time). On the other hand, if it did NOT break (which is actually better) then it might take weeks for the pressure to fully normalize, even with the antibiotics and such she was giving me.

Oh, joy.

I asked several times if it was safe to fly, and if I should be going on my trip to Connecticut, or if I should be seeing if I should cancel. She said I should be fine to fly. It might be uncomfortable, maybe quite so, but I should be fine.

Uh, goody.

Anyway, I of course traveled anyway.

Before leaving Tuesday, the pressure had gone down somewhat in the ear. It was not gone, but I could basically hear again.

The first leg of the flight (Orlando to Pittsburgh) was OK. Not that bad. More uncomfortable than usual, but not crazy. The second leg though (Pittsburgh to White Plains) was on a commuter jet, and when we came in for a landing I was miserable. I felt like the side of my head was about to explode. And when I got off the plane the pressure did not go away. It felt like I was wearing a plunger over that side of my head. I could barely hear on my right side, and it was quite uncomfortable.

So I don’t think there has been any popping yet.

Anyway, at my meetings with the client Wednesday, I tried to sit so the people I needed to ehar were on my left, but it diodn’t fully work. It sounded to me for the whole meeting like people were whispering. I feel for those with perminant hearing impairment, cause I’ve now had a glimpse.

As far as I can remember, I never had an ear infection before, even as a child where I know they are sometimes common. It ain’t fun, but still better than other kinds of sick you could have. I’d rather have this than a bad stomach flu or respritiory infection. But still. Annoying.

Once again last night the pressure has gone down a bit. Still there. But no longer so distracting I want to shove a pencil through my head.

In a few minutes I leave for the second round of meetings with our client. Then, this afternoon, two more plane flights. White Plains to Philly, then Philly to Orlando. I normally don’t mind flights at all. But the knowledge that my ear is going to be attacking me the whole way (especially on landings it seems) is making me think that perhaps I should just consider walking the 1161 miles home from here.

Nah. I’ll just do the “embrace the pain” thing instead.

Uh, and use the painkillers the doc gave me if it seems warrented. :-)

I Killed Them… I Killed Them ALL

imageOne of the tasks I had Tuesday before leaving home for a business trip (Connecticut this time) was to give the tadpoles more room. The plan I had been talking about for over a week was taking the tank they were in, pouring half of it into another container (along with half the tadpoles) and then adding water to both containers. End goal being to give all the tadpoles more room. They were growing very rapidly. Most over three quarters of an inch. Some maybe an inch including the tail. And while they did not have legs yet, they had froggy heads. They would definitely need more room, and more room soon.

I followed the plan. I filled the tanks back up from water from the hose.

Brandy had apparently tried to warn me, but I never understood what she was saying or why. She said we needed to clean out the pot we were going to use. And I did that, rinsing out the muck from the bottom. But she had meant more than that. I’m not sure what she said and how she said it, but I never got that there was more to it than that.

As it turns out, tap water, such as comes out of a hose, is apparently poison to most aquatic animals, including tadpoles. I knew not to use the water from the pool. I had no idea that I should not use the water from the hose.

I poured the water as planned from one container to the other. The tads just poured right out. It wasn’t quite even, but it was close enough. I thought about just leaving it like that, but the whole point had been to give them more room, and to do that water would have to be added. So, I turned on the hose…

A couple minutes later all the tadpoles were running around like crazy in both containers. I thought they were happily exploring their new environments and reveling in their newfound room to swim. They were not. They were in a horrible panic, trying to escape the poison I had put all around them.

A few minutes later, most of the tadpoles were still. Only a couple swam around when I came near. I thought they had done the things that frogs do when you catch them and they are nervous… tense up and get hard as a rock to be inconspicuous. They were not doing that. They were dying.

Right after filling the two pots, I had sent Brandy a happy email saying that the job was done and the froggies had plenty of room now. Right as just a few were still moving, I got an email back from Brandy saying essentially “Don’t use tap water!!”. But itr was too late. By the time I got back outside, they were all dead. All of them.

I called Brandy’s cellphone, distraught and bawling like a baby. But she was at work, and I only got her voice mail. So I emailed her. Later she called me back and tried to talk me down. But I was very very upset.

The tadpoles had been THRIVING. And HAPPY. They were growing rapidly, and not a single one had died. There were 30 some of them (I never did do an exact count). I had saved them from certain death…. Only to kill them with my own stupidity two weeks later.

I had been so proud of them. Proud that I had saved them, proud that they were doing well. And every day when I checked on them I was excited by their progress, and I was eagerly anticipating them slowly turning into frogs and then hopping away.

But I killed them.

IT has been almost two days since that happened. In the time since I have not really been able to stop thinking about it. On the way to the airport, on the planes on the way to Connecticut, during my business meetings during the day Wednesday. I was distracted and every once in awhile would just get very very sad. And the guilt is overwhelming.

Brandy keeps saying that I “tried” and that is what counts. But no, it is not. Ask the tadpoles. Oh, you can’t, cause they are DEAD. And I killed them. :-( Trying is a good thing, but what counts is succeeding. And what also counts on the other side is abject negligent failure. If I had killed 30 children, or even 30 puppies, maybe the reaction would be different. Just because they are frogs, it is somehow less important. But they were still innocent little things under my care, and I failed them.

I guess with the arrogance and inappropriateness of the title of my first post on the frogs, and my pride and superiority over saving them, I needed to be put in my place or something. And so I screw up majorly.

All I needed to do was listen to Brandy better (she says she tried to tell me, although she never made a big point of it, cause she assumed I knew I guess), or just wait to do it when she was home. Or if I had just decided I didn’t have time and had just left them alone until after my trip… any of these options and they would still be alive and happy.

I am still very sad. I was so happy that the tadpoles were doing well. And I thought I was helping them, but instead…

Poor little baby froggies.

I am so sorry. :-(

Two Eyes

imageOh, and of all the people who knew me who were at the wedding, everybody seemed to notice that I was “different”. Ivan commented on my shirt collar. Marilyn asked if I’d lost weight. Leslie noted my lack of facial hair and mentioned that she almost didn’t recognize me. Only Marilyn’s mother actually directly noted that I was wearing contacts instead of glasses. It was only the second time I’d actually worn contacts to an event where friends of mine were present (other than Brandy of course). And I think I’d worn them to work one additional time last year. The others may have noticed, but they did not actually SAY anything, at least not until after Marilyn’s mom said something in front of them.

I had them fitted for the first time a little over a year ago (going through several that didn’t work right before finding one that did), but after having worn the trial pair a handful of times, never actually filled the prescription until a few weeks ago. I seriously doubt I will wear them all the time. I *like* glasses. (Although the fact that I am back on an old spare pair after losing my newest pair in the ocean a few months ago lessens my love.) But I may try to start a few times a week. If only to make it so I can do it easily. The process of putting them on still takes me close to half an hour and I get very frustrated by it sometimes.

But hey, it was worth trying it just to see what it would be like.

And, um… When that picture was taken I was really tired too. But it is the only one I had with me right now of the contact version of me.

Our Turn?

Speaking of weddings, practically everybody at Kathy’s wedding that I knew asked me when it would be my turn, so I present here as well my standard answer:

Not yet, but it is just a matter of time. There are a few preliminaries that have to be dealt with first, for instance that Brandy is currently married to someone else, but hey, we can take care of those things. :-) Once that is taken care of, and the financial situation has fully stabilized after the upheavals of the last two years (bought a house, lost a job, gained a job, sold a house, moved to a new state, started supporting three instead of one, bought a house, paid a huge tax bill, gained a second income in the family) then we’ll start looking at what actual plans to make and when. For all intents and purposes Brandy and I already behave in a married fashion. We’ll take care of the legalities sooner or later.

Brandy and I pretty much agree though that it will not be an extravagant affair with lots of formalities and lots of guests. If and when we do it it will be very small. With just a few friends and family. Very informal. Very “lightweight”. I joke that the invitee list will be whoever happened to make my top ten list the month before and that will be IT. We shall see. Probably a little bit more than Ivan’s “Oh hey, I’m getting married tomorrow” but probably not by a huge amount. :-)

Kathy and Ryan

imageAnd of course, the reason I was in Pittsburgh was for Kathy’s wedding. She was marrying Ryan, who she’d been dating for a few years, and known for many years before that. I think I may have met him once, way back when, maybe, but before she was dating him, and I definitely could not place a specific memory. I’m just guessing he was one of the people around when I attended her graduation a few years back. I could be wrong.

I’d met Kathy several boyfriends ago, and heard on the phone of the ups and downs of several of those relationships. But Kathy and I were not talking as much by the time Ryan was in the picture, so I never heard much about him. Seems like a nice enough guy, and she seems quite happy. So that is excellent. Good job Kathy!

The wedding itself was in a big church, and on the formal side. Maybe not quite as formal as Al’s, but more formal than others I have attended. But it was nice. Marilyn read something. (Flubbed the lines a little bit, but close enough.) Leslie, who I also knew a bit was one of the wedding party too. Didn’t really know any of the others.

Then it was off to the reception. In a big country club. They had videos showing them as kids, and as Ryan’s gift to Kathy he had produced a song. It was rather funny. And sweet. And I know know that he can play the drums. Kathy and Ryan, please send a copy of the song. I’ll add it to my iTunes rotation.

There was the usual dancing and throwing of things. People were trying to get me to go up for the garter toss, but I declined, saying I wasn’t REALLY single any more. Guess I probably should have, I did at the last wedding I went to. But I was all comfy in my seat. My take was that if someone actively came and got me, or pulled me up there, I would do it, but I wasn’t running up just case the DJ said to.

Got to hang out with Ivan and Juana and Marilyn and Marilyn’s mom and watch Kathy looking happy. So all was good.

I wish Brandy and Amy had been able to come with me too, but that wasn’t possible.

Yes Virginia, there is a Mrs. Bou

image Sunday morning I flew to Pittsburgh for my friend Kathy’s wedding. But before the wedding, I met Ivan for lunch. And he brought with him his wife Juana. As far as I know, none of us old college friends had ever actually MET Juana. I could be wrong of course, I don’t talk to everybody as much as I used to. But we knew they had been dating off and on and heard the name. Occasionally there was a rare picture. Then a little while ago, we suddenly got word that they were doing a quickie wedding that weekend. And then that was done.

Well, I actually met both of them at lunch in Pittsburgh. And she seems real enough. Of course, in the initial conversation, Ivan asked some questions about what had been going on with me, my job, and other such things, and being me, I just blabbered on for most of lunch, not hearing much from Ivan, and even less from Juana. My bad. I’m sorry.

Did hear more from both of them later in the evening though. Everybody seems to be fine. Ivan is pretty much his old self. And him and I seem to have mostly put the little nastiness we had between us a few years ago to bed, which is good. :-) It was good to hang out with them.

Oh, and word is they will eventually actually have a ceremony where they invite everybody and all. It is looking like early 2006 at this time.