Joys of Home Ownership, Cont.

And now the backup in my basement is gone! Smelly stuff is still on the floor though. Yuck

The downstairs toilet bubbled and overflowed. The basement puddle grew, then rapidly drained. Now the toilet is empty of all water! But the cause is fixed and no more smelly water in my basement (or, I assume, the neighbor’s).

Waiting on Belfor. Though at this point I could clean it up myself.

Except for that smell….

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Joys of Home Ownership, 1 Month Before Selling…

Came home around 8:15pm, started putting the girls to bed. Wondered how big of a BM Amber had to make that smell in the bathroom. Minutes later wondered why the same smell was in Amber’s bedroom….

After finishing bedtime routines, I went outside to bring in the bins and get the mail. Walked back into the house: why am I smelling that bathroom smell here now too? It smells like… sewer…. OH NO!

Open the basement door: stronger smell. Dash down to the basement. Yup. Drain beneath the water heater and furnace is backed up in a big ‘ole puddle! Smells NASTY.

9pm. Check with neighbors. Immediate next door has same problem. They already have a plumber on site who says he can’t fix it. Call city. Man who answers the phone sends Water Treatment Guy.

We spent a long time trying to find the manhole cover for the problematic sewer, but it was found. Water Treatment Guy gives us each a paper slip saying the City of Ann Arbor will pay for cleanup of our basements and to call Belfor. Water Treatment Guy says we’ll know when the city is fixing the problem when we see a big @$$ yellow truck.

Called Belfor right about 10:30pm. Said a cleanup crew will be here within an hour.

Heard it before I saw it. The big @$$ yellow truck is here.

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Today’s thought

I don’t need a man. I need a plow. The driver’s gender is irrelevant.

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I didn’t go to the store for this purpose, but…

We have milk and Hostess cupcakes. I think we’re ready for this storm.

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Music

Someone please proof read! This is for a scholarship application due before midnight tonight!

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Music is core to my being. It echoes my feelings, resonates with my thoughts, and soothes my soul.

I can’t help but sing when I’m feeling good. It bursts out of me when I have high energy, and slips out like casual conversation when I’m distracted doing other things. When I lose my singing voice to sickness, a layer of sadness blankets my world making everything feel heavier.

About 20 years ago the question floated around: If you had to choose, would you prefer to be blind or deaf? Most people said deaf. I, hands down, no hesitation, would choose blind. I couldn’t stand not being able to hear music. Not being able to hear myself sing, the beautiful music of rain falling, the wonderful sound of my youngest singing, the lovely sound of my oldest playing the piano, nor any of my favorite songs or good new songs, would be death to my inner self.

I use music to guide my feelings. As with most people, when I need to cry I listen to sad music. When I need more energy, I play upbeat dance tunes. But I discovered long ago how to use music to change my mood. When I am sad but don’t want to be, I start out listening to slow neutral subject songs and step by step move towards lyrical music that normally makes me smile. I have a De-stress play list I use that starts out with high energy fake happiness of “Christmas at Ground Zero” by Weird Al to help me physically and sarcastically burn off the stress energy, and then song by song changes slightly until it gets to low energy songs about letting go like “I’m Walking Away” by Craig David, and eventually becomes calm music that I associate with my sense of self. It’s still amazing to me how effective music is in controlling my emotions.

Not being able to sing is the worst. No amount of music seems to help then, because I can’t sing along with it. I so much prefer to lose my speaking voice than my singing one. And it’s not even about communication to me. It’s about expression. Music coveys so much more than words alone. That’s what I need.

I can use music to corral my thoughts too. When I need to focus on a task, I tell people “I’m going into my headphones.” I play it just loud enough to drown out the thoughts of the second track that near-constantly runs in my mind, but not so loud my main attention can’t concentrate. If I want to remember an event or person, I can simply play or sing the song I associate with them. The longer I’ve known someone and the more important they are in my life, the more likely I have multiple songs associated to them. Which is even better, because then I can pick the song that both reminds me of the person and more closely matches the feelings I want to experience at the moment. For those people most central to my being, I’ve most likely even written lyrics about them set to songs I know.

One example is the “Emily, and I am me” song I made up for my long time best friend and I, set to “Ebony and Ivory” by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder. Another, better, example this song which I wrote for my daughter when she was 2 ½, to the tune of “Save the Best for Last” by Vanessa Williams:

I watch you growing ev’ry day
Sometimes I wish you wouldn’t change
Then you accomplish something new
And we are both so proud of you

But there was a time I thought that I was as
Happy as I could be
You were so small, and fun to hold and love
And so in need of me

I watch you growing ev’ry day
Sometimes I wish you wouldn’t change
But as you grow I see it’s true
I was so blessed when I had you

And now you’re talking ev’ryday
Ever-y thing in ev’ry way
It’s so much fun to speak with you
And hear all the things you say you do

And I so look forward to the day
You sing along with me
And we dance around and bike ride outside
How much fun all that will be

And now you’re talking ev’ryday
Ever-y thing in ev’ry way
The more you talk I hear it’s true
I was so blessed when I had you

I’m not good at creating music to go with my songs. I mostly just alter the words of existing compositions. But I can make up a ditty on the spot when I need to. Just a little up – down – up – down type thing, or da – da – da – DA – da – daaa. Enough that I was able to fake some tunes each time we came across the lyrics of an old song I never learned while reading the Little House on the Prairie series to my daughter.

However, I’m great at on the spot altering known songs for things I’m currently thinking or talking about. My absolute favorite time recently was two Winters ago when I was trying to leave daycare with both my children. My oldest was playing too much to want to go. So I picked up my youngest and simply started walking down the hall away from the room my oldest was in. She called after me to wait and not leave without her. To which I responded by singing to the tune of “Winter Wonderland”:

You-know that I’d-never leave without you.
I’m-m not that kind o-of Mama.

From her office, the then current daycare center director said to me: “I love how you sing everything. It makes me happy.” And that made me happy!

I get occasional comments like that when I’m out and about, especially at the grocery store when I’m singing along to the overhead music. Once, long before my kids were born, a woman stopped me and asked where I worked, where did I sing? I told her I wasn’t a singer, but a computer programmer. She replied it was a pity, that I’d just be singing to my babies.

The funniest part of it all is that as a child I was a very poor singer! I still can vividly hear in my ear my mother telling me, “You can’t carry a tune in a handbag!” I loved singing so much, despite my apparent tone-deafness, that I resolved to prove her wrong. It took some time, but I worked and worked at it with the radio, and then with my knockoff Walkman. When I got kind of good enough, I joined the church choir as a young teen. That helped a lot. I listened to the women who sang the best, and tried to copy their techniques and vocal sounds. I learned how to sing in my chest, in my throat like normal, and in my nose / head. But most importantly, I learned how to breathe while singing! In college I joined the university named chorus for the first two years, and then an acapella group for the last two years. Those helped immensely too!

Long ago I thought about trying to become a professional singer. Once I made steps in that direction, but I wasn’t willing to live the minimalist, part time jobs, scrounging life of “paying dues” while I established myself. Music isn’t a love of my life: It is a constant in my life. It’s not something I create, it’s part of who I am, how I am. I love to dance because it is an expression of the music. I don’t just love to sing, I have to sing. Yes I love music, because I am music. But it doesn’t fulfill me. It is a part of me.

As such, music has helped me all along my life. It’s been my constant companion. It’s kept me company when I was lonely at home after school. It’s filled my time in my room as I played the same song over and over to memorize the lyrics or work out dance moves. It’s kept me calmed or entertained while I did my homework, or later while I worked at my college job cleaning bathrooms or dorms. It’s given me starting points for writing spells or journals for live action roleplaying games I’ve participated in. It’s walked, hopped, skipped, and even danced with me as I moved between classes, or between home and bus, and bus and work. It’s helped me soothe my babies, or entertain them, or kept my baby awake longer, or just kept me calm enough to continue walking around in the middle of the night with my baby crying in my ear.

As I now move towards my purposeful life of being a doctor, music is of course still here. While studying for the MCATs, I made up two songs to help me remember the required amino acids. One to the tune of “Daughters of Triton” from Disney’s the Little Mermaid, because that was my oldest child’s favorite movie at the time, and one to the refrain from “Brick House” by The Commodores because the shape of the ring when the chemical formula is diagramed looks like a house! “It’s shaped like a house”.

And I know music will be with me until the end. I expect some song will pop into my head in my final moments. Hopefully it will be a meaningful or helpful one as I transition.

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The Near Future of Internet Security

I was listening to my brother and a family friend, both of whom are software developers, on New Year’s day talk about the digital security aspects and policies of their companies. It was enlightening, and a bit frightening.

They spoke about how when a severe data security breech occurs, there is a bunch of scrambling to plug to security hole, there may an attempt at data recovery, and whomever is the Director or head of Security loses their job. Someone is promoted into that position, and immediately no longer has job security. They talked about how and why the Directory, VP, or head of Security at tech companies do not last long in their positions, which was why my brother did NOT want to be promoted to it. My brother cited the Ashley Madison data breech of 2015. The two concluded the results of that, while harmful to the site’s users whose accounts had been compromised, did not significantly impact the company. People still continue to use it now, and other sites like it. Those who signed up after the breech do not seem concerned about the site’s security or it’s obviously negative security track record. I asked about the Equifax data breech from last Fall. Same type of response. Though in this case the fact that there isn’t a choice but to use Equifax sometimes could be part of the equation.

My brother and our family friend came to the conclusion that the internet using population at large does not care about internet security breaches. An individual person may care, and may even sue, but that’s just a blip in the company history. A company simply fires the head of its security department and offers a public apology, perhaps makes a payout from a pre-funded legal fund for such things, then continues on with business as usual, and people continue to use the company or sign up new accounts!

Since the general population does not act concerned about internet security breaches, I expect the internet security landscape is not going to change at all in the next 5 years. Based on the response to the Equifax breach, I think internet security could even get worse instead of better. Why would companies invest in advancing their data security when they could just set aside some money in case of a breach requiring litigation, and instead focus their efforts on their actual products?

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Fireball

Tentatively, yes that was a meteor. If so, it was actually bright enough to be considered a fireball.

It might also have been a bolide, which is a fireball that explodes in the sky. The reason that is being considered is that many people are reporting hearing an explosion after seeing the light.

A little after 8:05pm EST, I was inside my house sitting by the front door on the stairs with my children catching up on my eldest’s day. A super bright white light flashed twice right at the house. My first thought was lightning, but there was no thunder (nor storm). My second thought was someone had pointed their car at my house and flashed those new LED headlights at us. But by the time I got to the door’s side window and looked out, I saw nothing.

A minute or two later I heard a large crash type sound. I thought a truck out on Scio Church or I-94 had an accident.

200 reports and counting of whatever this was. More info at:

https://www.amsmeteors.org/members/imo_view/event/2018/168

If you saw it, report it!

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It’s Official

It’s official! AHHHHHHH! :D :D

“Dear Jennifer,

Congratulations! We would be delighted to have you join MEDPREP at the University of Michigan.”

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Why is your foot in my ear?

Filed under questions you never thought you would ever ask, but then you had kids: “Why is your foot in my ear?”
- Me, last night, while sitting in a chair

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End of Year Cards Being Sent

It’s made me very happy to be getting holiday / New Year’s cards after the new year! Two so far!

Why? Because I only just finished up my own holiday / New Year’s letters!

The pictures were printed at the end of Nov. Cards were bought right after Christmas. The letter was written at the end of Dec. The address labels and letters were printed last week (early Jan). Cards have been put away for next year as they are Christmas specific. I dated pictures, signed letters, and assembled most of them all last night. I hope to have them in the mail today!

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