Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Wonderbras are not for me

I hate buying bras. Bras are the bane of my clothes shopping trips. Seriously. You'd think that such a common thing as a comfortable brassiere would be easy to find.

Well, maybe if you're a stick-thin model who needs no more than a couple of bandaids to keep things in order, or someone for whom a training bra has been all they ever need.

Deifnitely not for anyone who is endowed with more than a gentle swell of bosom. I fall into the "generous" category, which makes things even more difficult, but even those who are perfectly proportioned often have problems buying a well-fitting bra. The most recent numbers that I've seen have said that up to 70% of women are wearing a bra that is the wrong size (Last year, Oprah has said 85%!) To small, too large, wrong shape, bad support, wrong type.

I can sympathize, having had all of these problems at least once (seriously, a sexy demi-bra is not something anyone over a B cup wants to try. I ended up looking like things were going to explode upwards and someone could have been lost in all that cleavage). The other end of the spectrum is handled by the serious industrial-strength "support bras" for larger sizes, which are anything but sexy and often make you feel as if you're wearing a straightjacket made of spandex (if you're lucky -- most of these serious "foundation garments" have little or no stretch at all). I suppose that voluptuous women could resort to sports bras, which keep everything in place but can result in the monoboob look, or simply resign themselves to sturdy white utilitarian numbers. But that seems very unfair.

It doesn't help that every manufacturer is different, that sizing is not consistent, that there are fourteen ways out there to determine the "perfect" bra size. Numbers and letters abound, and woe to anyone who isn't in the 32B range, unless you want to start spending mega-bucks on your underthings -- and even spending a hundred bucks or more doesn't guarantee that things will fit.

It's funny, really. Every single woman that I've met who is an A-cup or B-cups have waxed yearningly about having breast implants or being a D or DD cup. Every women who has natural D or DD cups (or larger) has sighed and said with feeling that they would rather be smaller. I haven't honestly had the chance to ask many women who have had implants if they are happy with them, or if they would rather have simply perked up what they had.

At any rate, why did this come up all of a sudden? Well, they stopped making the style of bra that I have been wearing for years. I really hate underwires, since I've never been able to find one that doesn' poke and jab, and this style is the only non-underwire bra that I've found that's comfortable and seems to fit well, and now that I need to replace the half-dozen that I have, I can't find them. (I seem to have bad luck with underthings. I find a style I like and they stop making it. Feh.)

Which all leads to the reason for this post -- to point women at HerRoom, which has an absolutely excellent site on bra-fitting. It's not enough to just take a few measurements, they say, there are more variables than that to get a good fit. I was pleasantly surprised to find it, and I've printed out the checklist for when I shop.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I have a note!

Well, this might put a crimp in the Superbowl festivities! Apparently, many of the 60,000 people who are treated each day with some form of radioactive isoptopes have enough residual radiation in their bodies to set of detectors. It's likely a few of them will be in attendance in Miami this weekend.
Nearly 60,000 people a day in the United States undergo treatment or tests that leave tiny amounts of radioactive material in their bodies, according to the Society of Nuclear Medicine. It is not enough to hurt them or anyone else, but it is enough to trigger radiation alarms for up to three months.

Six people set off alarms at the Christmas tree lighting ceremony last year in New York, and there are a few who are stopped at airports each month because the new sensors for "dirty bombs" are detecting trace amounts of radiation. The sensors are used in airports and other venues that have been identified as possible terrorist targets.

I wonder if a note from the doctor is going to be enough?

Monday, January 29, 2007


I really hate this idea of executive fiat. The president, regardless of who s/he is, really shoudln't be able to write laws disguised as policy and "interpretation". Signing statements, which Bush is inordinately fond of, executive orders, etc smack of an end-run around the proper process of legislation.

Some are pretty innocuous, of course, but others -- like the recent EO by Bush that puts politically appointed oversight over many government organizations -- bypass the "normal" process and don't allow the public a chance to even comment on the ramifications, much less have their representatives in congress decide on things.
NYT - January 30, 2007 President Bush has signed a directive that gives the White House much greater control over the rules and policy statements that the government develops to protect public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy. In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries.
The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president’s priorities. This strengthens the hand of the White House in shaping rules that have, in the past, often been generated by civil servants and scientific experts.
Shouldn't the priorities of the president be our priorities? I can even agree with the logic that there should be a test as to whether the government should interfere/set rules in any given situation -- there should be some check as to whether we really need a government agency sticking its nose in things. But this sort of rule shouldn't be dictated by fiat, and especially by an administration/president who has shown a remarkable disregard for science and proper process. I don't want a political appointee who may not have any particular expertise (and remember how fabulously effective those appointees have been in handling other government roles? Remember Katrina?) making decisions on what documents are published, what data is used to make decisions. Yeah, take that responsbility from the scientific community and put it in the hands of political appointees. This sounds like a good idea? Putting the beancounters in charge of policy?
Besides placing political appointees in charge of rule making, Mr. Bush said agencies must give the White House an opportunity to review “any significant guidance documents” before they are issued. ...
Nice. Censor data that is being used and disseminated by the departments in question. Don't like that the dept of Health and Human services has come out supporting condom use? Don't like that food regulations will impact corporate profits? Don't like the information about pollution? Want to further your own particular belief system? Regardless of what the intent was, this executive order just made it easier to supress that sort of information and make sure that any documents released by the government conform to the propaganda. Here's hoping congress addresses this soon.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

I Knew It!

A recent study published by the US Dept of Health and Human Services shows that moderate wine drinkers use Medicare less. The research was initially started to see if alcohol use was costing Medicare money -- and the results were a huge surprise.

They found that
"light and moderate wine drinkers on Medicare each save about $400 in health care costs each year."
During the five years of the study (which tracked over 4000 patients), those who drank wine moderately (1-2 glasses a day) had $2000 less in medical costs. Those who drank spirits also saved money, but not as much. Heavy drinkers had the same costs as nondrinkers. Moderate drinkers seek medical attention less often, and are hospitalized and treated less often.
"For us, the question was whether Medicare ought to be discouraging alcohol use more actively...and it appears probably not." Dr. Kenneth Mukamal.
We have already seen that a glass of red wine contains resveratrol, which is good for the heart, limits brain damage from strokes, helps you live longer, and may help prevent certain types of cancer. (details of the research can be found at WineSpectator). Having a glass a day may really be good for you -- and I, for one, will be following that prescription!

Sound Familiar?

Declaring "I'm the decision maker," President Bush yesterday challenged congressional efforts to formally condemn his Iraq plan

Decision maker, decider...when he doesn't like the opinions of others, he just starts telling us that it doesn't matter, since he gets to do whatever he wants, because he's the Decider, see. He decides. And it's hard work.

Somehow, I don't think it's going to fly this time. Defending a bad plan never works well.

Altitude Sickness

The weekend was lovely -- although I don't think my company is going to be holding any more all-company meetings at altitude. Quite a few of the Chicago folks were affected by altitude sickness, a few serious enough to make them very, very sick. A couple of people left early, and some didn't come to the dinner because they were ill.

It's a big enough issue for those of us from the foothills -- going from 5K to 10K makes most of us suck wind when we have to do anything remotely physical. Coming from sea level can be a serious problem if you don't have time to acclimate. It can also lead to very serious (even fatal) complications in a small percentage of people (1-2%). We think of it as something that affects climbers of Everest, but it can hit people at altitudes as low as 6000 feet. I remember it took weeks to get acclimated to Denver (5280ft) after living in Georgia (~ 0 ft).

We sent out a couple of email messages about how to deal with altitude sickness (drink lots of water, avoid alcohol and caffeine, take it easy) - but the sales group was here a day early and -- as sales groups are wont to do -- they apparently had a bit too much fun at the bar after the meetings, and most of them were quite ill. Alcohol hits you hard when you're at near 10K, you should drink less, and for every alcoholic drink make sure you also drink water. Otherwise, the hangover is super-bad. They sent out a reminder about altitude sickness after that.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Breakup? Reconciliation

A tiny bit of news from last week - Cingular Wireless decided after much market research that the AT&T wireless division that it bought out a few years ago actually has better consumer reputation and recognition. People like the AT&T name, and so they are changing back.

It's all very confusing, but Stephen Colbert, of the Colbert Report explains it all.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Mandatory Meeting

My company is flying everyone to Colorado this weekend for an all-company meeting -- to celebrate the fact that we had a stupendous year, made boatloads of money, and are poised to continue that trend. All well and good -- people from our Chicago office fly in tonight and we'll all have a meeting tomorrow morning to get the rah-rah speeches and then we'll meet again at dinner to have some time to socialize with everyone and their families.

Most of the Chicago people came, and while it was nice to see everyone, i can't help but feel that a weekend getaway trip to Keystone resort for skiing and winter fun is pinched a bit by a mandatory meeting. Especially when said meeting convenes at 7:30am on Saturday.
I can't fault the intentions -- we rarely get to see everyone in the company, and it was nice to see those faces again. We all had a good time, dinner was lovely, and the Friday get-together at the local pizza place (exclusively for our company) was fun. We're excited that we did well, but we knew that (or we wouldn't all be out skiing for the weekend). I never understood the need to do the rah-rah thing if you've already pitched the reward. Ah, well.

I'm sure we'll enjoy the weekend -- we'll meet friends for a nice dinner, the Adorable Husband will ski all day, and I'll get a facial and spa afternoon after the meeting. We'll get to see everyone at the big fondue dinner up on the mountain, and talk to all the people we normally only "see" through email. Fun!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Fuzzy Math

One one of the big "plans" put forward in the SOTU Tuesday was a tax deduction to cover the cost of health insurance for millions of uninsured American families. They'll pay less ($4500 less) in taxes, which they can use to pay for health insurance.

Sounds good, right? Well, it will only really benefit about 3 million families, because -- and here's the part that seems to have escaped our fearless leader and his cohort-- many people who are uninsured don't make enough money to pay any taxes, so an additional deduction isn't going to help them.

Those who get their insurance through their employer, even if they pay for most of the cost themselves, don't get this benefit. In fact, this tax cut is financed by taxing employee health plans and redistributing other funds that go to community health centers and hospitals that provide healthcare to uninsured patients. Isn't this stealing from Peter to pay Paul? He's not actually putting any new federal money into any of these programs -- he's just shuffling it around like a very expensive shell game.

Last night - the Colbert Report "translated" Bush's new Health care initiative:
Colbert: It's so simple. Most people who couldn’t afford health insurance
also are too poor to owe taxes. But...if you give them a deduction from their
taxes they don’t owe, they can use the money they're not getting back from what
they haven't given to buy the health care they can't afford.

See? It's so simple.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Dog Pet Peeves

A dog's top ten peeves about humans:

  1. Blaming your farts on me. Not Funny. Not funny at all.
  2. Yelling at me for barking. Hello? I'm a dog, you idiot!
  3. Taking me for a walk, then not letting me check stuff out. Exactly whose walk is this anyway?
  4. Any trick that involves balancing food on my nose. Stop it!
  5. Any haircut that involves bows or ribbons. Now you know why we chew your stuff when you're not home.
  6. The sleight of hand, fake fetch throw. You fooled a dog! Woo-hoo! What a proud moment for the top of the food chain.
  7. Taking me to the vet for the "big snip" and then acting surprised when I freak out every time we go back.
  8. Getting upset when I sniff the crotches of your guests. Sorry, I haven't quite mastered that handshake thing yet.
  9. Dog sweaters. Hello? Haven't you noticed the FUR?
  10. Acting disgusted when I lick myself. Look, we know the truth. You're just jealous.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

More Snow!

It's snowing again -- a lovely flurry of fluffy white flakes. On top of the snow that still buries everything since Christmas.

It's weird. We don't usually have snow that stays on the ground for more than a few days. Almost a month is unheard of. We still can't see the pavement in our culdesac, although most main roads are clear. The Adorable Husband was out snowblowing the entire culdesac again this morning.

I missed the storm in the midwest, and got home from Canton, OH with no problems. I actually had good travel juju, which is unusual for me. Teaching class actually went very well, and the client wants me to come back to teach a few other classes and do some consulting work -- specficially me, which is awfully flattering. It's always nice when you get good feedback. And considering that we squashed five days of class into three short days, and that I was sick the whole time, I'm glad it went off so well.

No other news on the homefront. Dogs are well, we are well, life is pretty good!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Truer Words

My sister is talking to a therapist (hoping to figure out how to handle the rather whacked dynamics in my family) -- who told her that "it might have been easier if you'd been raised by wolves".

It's really not funny, not really. But truer words have never been spoken.

We've been wrong all this time

"The constitution does not say that every citizen has the right to habeas


Alberto Gonzales, the Attorney General, has decided that it's not enough to reinterpret most statues and defend he's arguing that the rights enumerated in the Constitution are not really granted to people by default.

Apparently, he believes that the constitution doesn't actually GRANT any rights to people -- it only specifies when rights can be revoked. Uh -- in what world? Does this mean that the other rights given to citizen in the US by the constitution aren't really the default? Is the argument that you actually have to be explicitly granted these rights for them to be supported? Who grants them?

Gonzalez is, in one fell swoop, announcing that he (and by association, the current administration) believe that the rights we all take for granted as the basis of our legal system and society (freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc) do not actually exist.

Responding to questions from Sen. Arlen Specter at a Senate Judiciary Committee
hearing on Jan. 18, Gonzales argued that the Constitution doesn’t explicitly bestow habeas corpus rights; it merely says when the so-called Great Writ can be suspended.

“There is no expressed grant of habeas in the Constitution; there’s a prohibition against taking it away,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales’s remark left Specter, the committee’s ranking Republican, stammering.
“Wait a minute,” Specter interjected. “The Constitution says you can’t take it away
except in case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn’t that mean you have the right of habeas corpus unless there’s a rebellion or invasion?”

Gonzales continued, “The Constitution doesn’t say every individual in the United States or citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn’t say that. It simply says the right shall not be suspended” except in cases of rebellion or invasion.”

Neither of which is occuring today. But by his argument, we don't need to apply habeus corpus, a fundemental legal right, to everyone because they don't actually have it by default. That's a frightening -- and dangerous -- delusion.

I don't know why I'm surprised, but I certainly hope that the calls for his impeachment are heeded.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Off to the Hinterlands

I suppose I shoudln't call Cleveland/Canton OH the hinterlands. But I seriously don't want to travel this week. I'm still sick, and teaching is always so draining. Wah!

But, before I go: Courtesy of Sadly, No!:

THE PRESIDENT, in an interview given to 60 Minutes’ Scott Pelley, January 14, 2007:
The minute we found out they didn’t have weapons of mass destruction, I was the first to say so. Scott, all I can do is just tell the truth, tell people exactly what’s on my mind, which is what I do.

THE PRESIDENT (May 29, 2003):
We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They’re illegal. […] But for those who say we haven’t found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they’re wrong, we found them.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Mrs. and Mr Who?

The ACLU has taken up the cause of a couple married in California in 2005, because the husband wants to take his wife's last name, instead of the other way around. Instead of the simple process of filing a marriage application (which is all that is required for a woman to change her name upon her marriage), he was told he would have to go through the "normal" channels of a court order and public notification process to change his name legally.

Huh? Women can change their entire name and become whoever they want to simply by filling in the blank under "married name" on the marriage licence in most states. Why can't men do the same? There isn't any real reason, except "that's the way it's always been", and some not-so-subtle sexism in the law that implies that a man would never have reason to change his name at marriage.

Having had a serious issue with my name change when I got married (well, not then, but recently when I was an International Woman of Mystery, acccording to the Social Security Administration), I can sympathize with the frustration. It's supposed to be easy to change your name when you marry -- based on the assumption that at least the woman will change her name either to her husband's surname or to a hyphenated version of it. Some couples keep their own names, but most follow tradition to share a common name.

I personally think a couple should have the same last name, but I don't really care which one it is -- husband's, wife's, a new one they made up on the spot, I don't care. I've also never been a huge fan of the hyphenation thing (which is why my middle name is now my maiden name -- kept my original name intact, just didn't end up with a 30-letter last name), but a lot of people are choosing to do that nowadays. Perhaps it's because people are marrying later, and have well-established social ties with their "old" name, I don't know. I rarely see that the man takes the hyphenated name of his wife. So you have John Smith and Mary Jones-Smith, which looks vaguely like the last names you might expect if there was a Mr. Jones involved in their polygamous marriage.

One of the things I do wonder about the hyphenation crowd is: what name do your kids (if you have any) have? Are your kids Jones-Smith, or Smith, or Jones? If it's Jones-Smith, what if they marry someone with the last name Johnson-Butler? How many hyphens can you have? At what point do you give up and make up a new name?

Ok, maybe a bit of hyperbole there. It's not an unreasonable question, though, at least not in my mind. My SIL and her husband kept their own names, and the Adorable Husband and I had a rather odd conversation about what last name the twins have. My sister gave her son a long string of names to cover KidName MiddleName DadLastName LastName, since she is not married to his father, but wanted his name in there somewhere. She usually drops DadLastName when she writes out her son's name, but it is in there legally somewhere. Admittedly, it's less complicated than some of the traditional naming schemes (look at some of the scandinavian countries, where daughters and sons have different "last names" (Johnsson, Johnsdottir, for example), or names are a string of patrilineal names. Maybe.

In the meantime, maybe we just need to add spaces to all the lastname fields everywhere.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Hey, We're Smart!

We always laugh about how odd Boulder, CO is, but apparently we rank as #1 in the "Smartest Cities" in the US, followed by Bethesda, MD and Ann Arbor, MI.

The home of Apple, Google, Yahoo, and the rest of silicon valley (San Jose) falls in at tenth.

They base the ranking on the number of people with college degrees, which is obviously a fairly flawed way to determine intelligence (some of the best educated people are surprisingly stupid in real life), and it obviously favors college towns...but still, it's neat!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Catching Up

Oy! New years and vacation and flu -- I haven't even been at the computer in a few days. Here's the scoop:

1) Our housesitter's New Year's Eve Party went swimmingly (with continued apologies for assuming that we'd be out of town) and our house was immaculate after the twenty or so people left. We got back at 12:30am from a lovely dinner with friends and snuck upstairs. The party was over by 1:30 and we never heard them leave.

2) The family Disney Vacation was a qualified success. My mother decided not to come at the last minute (with much proclaiming of 'never speaking to us again') and we all had a brief moment of feeling bad about it. A bit of stress, since it's impossible to get everyone in my family pointed in the same direction for more than a few minutes at a time, but Disney was lovely (albeit HOT) and we had a blast on the new rides, and spent some fun time with my nephew. We stayed at the Polynesian Resort, which is a lovely place.

3) We got home on Saturday and I promptly succumbed to the Generic Sore Throat Ick that I'd been nursing for a few days. I don't actually remember Sunday, what with the sudafed and sleeping all day, and I'm still not up to par, but at least I can work from home in my jammies. No conference calls for me, though -- my voice comes and goes.

4) My sisters pug dog, Truman, won a first place ribbon and at least one second place ribbon at the dogshow on Saturday. And, he may be a featured puppy on the MilkBone dog biscuit boxes.

5) My dad's eye surgery for strabismus was a grand success -- no more double vision and he's back to feeling comfortable driving! I'm really happy; having problems seeing was really making him withdraw and disconnect from the people around him.

6) His wife, however, was in yesterday to have a cancerous lump removed from her breast. She's doing really well, waiting for the final pathology and next steps. She's very upbeat and feels good right now. Hopefully, they'll have a continued run of good luck. Cross your fingers.

7) Chemo for the dog was delayed again for a week --we're going to a four-week schedule, since he takes a long time to bounce back from the low white count.

8) I'll be in Canton, OH next week, teaching class. Apparently no one really goes to Canton, since I had the worst time finding an airline flight that didn't require me to be travelling for 7-8 hours. And the other instructor from my company told me in no uncertain terms, "Do not go walking in the client neighborhood. Keep your doors locked." And this from a guy who was raised in Jersey!

9) I have absolutely no idea what to do to solve the quagmire in Iraq, but I am absolutely certain that whatever Bush has decided to do will make it worse. And he'll blame the Democrats.

10) The Sony eBook Reader that the Adorable Husband got me for christmas is the Best. Christmas. Present. EVER. I absolutely love it and carry it everywhere. Having 80 books at my disposal is nirvana. I can't wait to get a memory chip for it so I can carry hundreds and hundreds!