Archive for March, 2006

“It’s Different With Your Own Dog”

Back in the days where I was very much troubled by emetophobia (fear of vomit), I would wonder with a sinking heart how I would handle a sick child.  I once fled my grandmother's hospital room when she threw up.  I ran away!  I didn't return to the room the rest of the night– even after a nice nurse assured me, "It's safe now." 

In that particular case, my mother was there to help my grandmother and comfort her.  So there was no harm in my flight.  However, can you imagine a poor child under the same distress watching its own grown mother trip over items as she rushes out of the room? 

Back in the day, mothers I knew would reassure me, "Oh it's completely different when it's your own child that is sick."  They sounded very credible, but without personal experience it was a theory I had to take with faith.

Well this morning, I witnessed an occurence that supports the speculations of all those reassuring mothers.  Sean and I are watching a friend's dog.  In the wee hours of the morning, I awoke to hear that dog getting sick.  Now– having two dogs of my own (nine and six), I am quite immune to dog vomit.  I've seen and cleaned up the works– pumpkin seeds, tin foil, oatmeal explosions, candy bar wrappers, even pieces of dead animals.  Once I even had the honor of working with "self-cleaning vomit".  The beagle ingested and regurgitated a bar of soap.  As I scrubbed– it lathered!  Anyway, the point is– I have plenty of experience with dog vomit.

This morning, though, I could barely look at that other dog's present, without feeling the urge to gag!  I got it cleaned up, but it was definitely a very different, and more disgusting, experience.

Science has set a precedent of drawing theories about humans based on experiments on animals.  In that same time-honored tradition, I declare those mothers are right!  It is different with your own child… because it is certainly different with your own dog!

March 28, 2006 at 9:23 pm 4 comments

A Mini-Lesson from a Mini-Dump

The beagle, Henry, has a bad habit.  Well, one of many.  Overnight, while every living being in the house (even the picky cat) is asleep, Henry likes to sneak in one room and force tiny, tiny bits of poo from his bowels.  Looking at the volume it is quite obvious Henry was not in discomfort and the urge he felt was far from pressing.  He does it because he can.  Sean and I call this phenomenon “minidumps”

Well this morning I had the day off work, so I got to sleep in.  Instead of a kiss, Sean’s farewell was “Bye!  Have fun with the mini dumps!”

Sure enough, when I finally arose there were presents waiting for me.  But– it’s my day off, so I left the task till later.   Hours went by and I get a phone call from a friend.

“Hey, where are you?” she said.

“I’m home!” I declared proudly.

“Open your front door!”

There she was— right outside my front door!  And from there… Henry’s minidumps were sitting in plain sight!

So the moral of this story is very similiar to what Christians teach about judgement day:

Be prompt in cleaning up your messes because you never know when they will be on display.

P.S. Luckily this friend is very understanding about dogs— so if anyone had to witness Henry’s work, I’m glad it was her.

P.S.S. Apparently, I haven’t absorbed my own lesson quite yet– the minidumps are still waiting to be disposed of!

March 20, 2006 at 5:05 pm 4 comments

Threat Level Red for Local Salons

I had heard the recent news regarding sports arenas being desirable terrorist targets, but I have to admit I was unaware of pending threat to small hair salons.  Excerpt from my journal entry dated March 12, 2006:

Last night I got my hair cut.  Apparently I just missed some drama.  One of the stylists had a confrontation with a demanding customer.

“She wanted me to jump just because she said so,” the stylist told me later, “But I’m not a dog.”

The aggrivated stylist was the one assigned the ambigious tasks of cutting my hair (I’m never quite sure what I want to get done).

From what I could gather, the customer’s main infraction was bypassing the reception area and coming directly to the stylist to inquire about a haircut.  It didn’t sound like there was anyone at the receptionist desk (they were all eating) — so that is an offense I personally may have been able to forgive.

It does sound like the customer had an attitude.  All the stylists spelled out “B-I-T-C-H” when describing her in my presence.

So it was understandable the stylist shared a lot of griping.  It was very targeted griping until she said, “Asians and those towelheads are the worst!”

“Huh?” I said and looked at her blurry reflection in the mirror (my glasses were in my hand).

“The Asians and those towelheads, you know, the ones from India.  They always come up right to you – they never wait at the desk.”

I like how they feel the need to spell out a word that is commonly allowed on network television, but they felt completely at ease at uttering a racial slur.

“Oh.” I said.

“And those towelheads — I can’t STAND them.  The women, they cover their faces and they don’t want the men to see them, you know?  So when they come to get their haircut– they don’t want to be out here where someone can see them.  They want you to take them in the back to cut their hair.  I don’t want to take them back there– it’s a pain in the A-S-S.  I have to set up a whole chair back there [and what if they fall down back there and break a leg]?”

“Oh,” I said.  So far I thought those were legitimate concerns for a business.

“There was this one who wanted to go back there and she didn’t even have that dot on her head.  And I told her ‘No.’  I wouldn’t take her ’cause I don’t trust them.”

“Who’s that?” Another stylist said.

“Those freaking towelheads!” my stylist said.

“Oh yeah- I don’t trust them either.  They could do anything to you back there.  They could have a bomb in their purse!  I refuse to take them.”

[“Where do they go then?” I asked.

“Not here,” my stylist said, “They probably go around and ask the other salons in the mall to see if they will take them.  I bet no one takes them.”]

The conversation soon drifted back to the B-I-T-C-H but they kept coming back to the notion that one of those poor women who are merely looking to retain their dignity and get a haircut is going to attack them with a bomb in their purse.

I definitely wanted to say something but I had to choose my words wisely.  Afterall this woman I wanted to reprimand was holding sharp scissors– and the future of my hair in her hands.

So I settled on saying, “Well the way I think of it is a bomb is an awful lot of trouble to take out one hair salon.  There are much better targets.”

My stylist didn’t even skip a beat.  “This mall does get really crowded, you know.”

I still maintain there is a vast difference between New River Valley mall and sports arenas, public transportation systems, federal buildings… and pretty much any other mall in America.

So I believe the stylists are all going to continue their fears and biases – no matter how silly they are.

Actually, I think I’m going to write the manager a letter.  Racial slurs have no business in a place of business.  It won’t change the the stylists’ souls by any means.  But at least they won’t believe their behavior to be acceptable by all.

Here’s another thing that surprised me.  After all the speculation on the “towelheads” my stylist returned her bitter lips to the earlier customer.

“It’s just as well [the customer stormed out],” she said, “I didn’t want to serve her anyway.  I’ve seen her in here before and she looks like a person who’d be prejudiced against me.”

I’ve read before that when a spouse starts getting really jealous and suspicious that his/her partner is cheating on them — that is often a sign that the spouse, not the partner, is the one cheating!

I guess the same thing may be true to those with prejudices.  They know what hatred lies in their own hearts so it is easy to suspect the same of others.



March 19, 2006 at 5:29 pm 9 comments

Word 2003 Header and Footer Field Refresh for Multiple Section Documents

In Word, you can insert a lot of properties information into the Headers and Footers.  Most commonly Page Numbers is used.  There are built in properties such as FILENAME.  In addition under File->Properties; Custom— you can add your own properties.  All of these can be inserted directly into the headers and footers.  In Word 97 and Word 2000 when you first opened the document, Word would automatically refresh that information for you.

In Word 2002 and Word 2003, that information is not automatically refreshed.  It will display old information until you:

1) Switch View mods under the View menu
2) Print the document
3) Right click on a field and select “Update Field

Microsoft documents this behavior in KB832897: The FILENAME field does not automatically update when you open a document in Word 2002 or Word 2003 (

In there they provide code for a macro that will run each time the document is opened and refresh all the fields in the headers and footers.  The macro works well— but if you have multiple sections in your document, only the first section is refreshed. 

Below is a modified macro that will handle documents with multiple sections.  Follow all the instructions in the Microsoft article, but use the following code instead:

Sub AutoOpen()
 Dim aStory As Range
 Dim aField As Field
 Dim aSection As Section
 Dim aHeaderFooter As HeaderFooter

 For Each aSection In ActiveDocument.Sections
     For Each aHeaderFooter In aSection.Headers
         Set aStory = aHeaderFooter.Range
         For Each aField In aStory.Fields
         Next aField
     Next aHeaderFooter
     For Each aHeaderFooter In aSection.Footers
         Set aStory = aHeaderFooter.Range
         For Each aField In aStory.Fields
         Next aField
     Next aHeaderFooter
 Next aSection
End Sub

March 16, 2006 at 9:07 pm 10 comments

Travel Journal: Newark, Notthinghamshire

Excerpts from my personal journals from a trip to Newark, Notthinghamshire in the United Kingdom.  This trip took place January of 2005.

January 22, 2005
U.S. Airways
Flight 4173

My fourth trip to Europe has begun.  Right now I’m flying from Roanoke, VA to Charlotte, NC.

That in itself is a victory.  We had snow yesterday & today & most flights in and out of Roanoke were cancelled.

I believe I flew in winter before– I remember Dad and I were at Buffalo, NY.  So we might have had winter weather when we flew– but I don’t remember it.

This is the first time I can recall flying in a snowstorm.  It was a weird feeling as we taxied down the runway and it was completely white.

Don’t worry, the meaningful runways were plowed and salted.  Actually I felt sorry for the snow plows.  They were constantly plowing a couple of runways.  All afternoon they plowed to make sure incremental accumulation was scurried away.  They were doing all that work for just three (from what I can tell) planes– two arrivals and one departure.

But I suppose I should not complain– it’s my safety being assured by their efforts.

When I traveled to Europe for work in 2001– I recall being surprised when I found myself missing Sean.  I didn’t expect to.

3-4 years makes a difference.  This time around I got a little melancoly – I had a lump in my throat and a couple of tears threatened to take over my eyes, just thinking about leaving Sean.

I have a scapegoat!  In a recent entry I discussed the phrase “cell” phone.  This might be a case there a mobile phone is a cell, a prison.

It’s that damn text messaging.  I’ve grown so accustomed to it.  My cell phone won’t work overseas – so I will not be able to make daily calls to Sean and even worse, I can’t text message!

I’ve had a handful of business trips in 2004 and Sean had at least one.  Each of those times, we were able to use text messaging to keep in touch.

Knowing I won’t have text ability on this trip leaves me feeling a little naked, a little alone.

Well, it’s not fully the cell phone’s fault (just like it’s not a gun’s fault someone got shot).

I remember I had that same feeling twice in 2001:

  1. When I left the internet cafe the first day

  2. When I finished up all my stationary.

This related to ANOTHER journal entry from a while back.  I proposed technology makes us lonely.  Even though it increased the ease and opportunities of communication it also significantly altered our expectations.  We expect things to be instant and immediately readable.  It’s caused us to have patience for little else.

These latest trips I’ve been taking — it feels like they aren’t real — they feel like a dream.  Why?  Because I have no anxiety.  It still doesn’t feel like a trip if I don’t have a horrid ado in my head for weeks beforehand.

Ah well, you know what?  I’d rather have the worry-free trips! 🙂

Man, after takeoff– Roanoke covered with snow was just so beautiful.  Absolutely beautiful.

I do not think God could look down at our snowy land and doubt his creation.  It is just so gorgeous.

Driving to the airport had its good views too.  I passed a mountain that contained bare trees – so you could see the snow covered ground and the contrasting dark bark.  But there were large patches of evergreens.  The evergreens’ boughs caught a lot of the snow- so those sections would appear more dense and white than the others.  It was just lovely.

Well we are 50 miles from Charlotte, I best be going.

23 Jan 2005
London King’s Cross
Rail Station

Today I spent most of the day with Jason Pitt.  We ate lunch at a Turkish restaurant and then we went geocaching at Greenwich Park.

Get this– one of the caches was right on 00 00.000 E – it was right on the Greenwich Mean Line!

Vicky at Greenwich Park

Jason Pitt was crucial to both finds.  The first one, I was ready to climb up a very thick bush to go after a piece of trash!  The second one, the GPS misled me.  I was searching the wrong bench, rubbish bin and leafy bush.  It was Jason who contradicted the GPS saying, “Well that spot is so much better.”  We took a look and sure enough there it was.

Most things in Europe are smaller than they are in the wasteful U.S.  Geocaches follow suit.  Both containers [we found] were too small for me to put our travel bug (a plastic hamburger) in.  So I will take it back to the U.S. with me.

It is not as cold here as I expected.  No snow – a tiny remnant in a field that we flew over is the only I’ve seen.  It’s all perspective though – Jason thought it was very cold.  Though there were some people who didn’t think it was even chilly.  Jason and I were passed by three runners in shorts.  I also saw some people playing tennis in short sleeves AND shorts.  It’s definitely not that warm!

Jason & I disagreed about a couple of other things.  As we drove through the city Jason would comment how ugly a certain section was – but I thought it was still pretty.

Jason Pitt, Chauffer 

We also disagreed on trains.  I commented on how much I love the trains here.

“Here?” Jason asked, “the British trains?!  You mean the European trains.”

I corrected him- I was talking about the British trains.

He told me to wait until I got a really old train that was late & such.

Well– he may have gotten his wish.  I was trying to make a 17:30 train.  I bought my ticket but could not find the train, so I asked someone.  It turns out some of the track is being engineered so they didn’t have the 17:30 departure anymore.  Instead I have to take a 19:00 – not only that but because of construction I have to get off at one station and take a bus to the next station, then recatch the train and continue on to Newark.  What fun!

I had a mini-geocache mishap.  Jason and I were trying to find one near the deer enclosure.  We got really close according to the GPS, but when we consulted a map, we saw we were exactly on the wrong corner of the park.  It turned out I never changed the coordinates from WEST to EAST.  Hehe- bad habit.  One thing that’s cool is this is one of the very few places in the world where that mistake would not be caught [sooner]!  If E & W were confused in the States, you’d know something was off when you looked at the distance.  But when you are around 00 00.000 – the distance looks reasonable.  The difference between 37.808 E and 37.808 W is a lot different than 00.413 E and 00.413 W.

They have rhododendrums here!  And one of them was blooming – in January!  I also saw what looked like early daffodils poking through the soil and I think I saw some chrysanthia blooming too.  There were a number of other pink, white and purple flowers blooming which I can’t identify.

Jason stopped at a bathroom in the park.  It was quite an ornate building.  The weather vane on top of the steeple had a little tiny brass sail ship on it.  I took a picture- it reminded me of [Becky and Vic].  Vic got a big sailship model for Christmas.  He said, “I’m going to put it on such and such shelf.”  To which Becky replied, “You most certainly will not!”


I’m surprised I’m still up and going.  I don’t think I got much sleep on the plane last night.  It’s hard to say– I had no access to a clock so I couldn’t tell how long I was snoozing.  It’s funny – I felt like I couldn’t tell if I had got enough sleep unless I had a watch.  Really it shouldn’t matter about time one bit.  We should let our bodies tell us if we got enough sleep, not our watches.

Turkish food is quite good– Very much like Greek food.  Jason and I got a mixture plate – where  they bring all sorts of dishes to [sample].  Some of the Greek-like items were stuffed grape leaves, falafel and hummus.  They also had a delicious potato salad, great “broad” beans and a pretty good chicken dish.  One more dish I didn’t adore or hate was some kind of chopped parsley.

Well hopefully I’m able to board my train shortly – I’m going to run to the TOILET (that’s what the sign says!) now.


March 15, 2006 at 10:50 pm 6 comments

Letter to Lansing City Council

So far in my young life, I’ve gotten to rollerblade in 12 different states.  My Michigan skate was probably one of the most meaningful.  Last July rollerbladed on Vincent Court in Lansing, Michigan– the street where young Malcolm Little (aka Malcolm X) grew up on.  The Little house no longer stands and there is a historic marker in its place.  I was most struck, however, how the marker stands on the corner of Vincent Court and….. Martin Luther King, Blvd.  This bothered me a bit and a couple of  months later I drafted a letter to the Lansing City Council.  Well, this week I finally mailed that letter.

I find myself regularly surprised about how misconceptions about Malcolm X are resilient to this day.  The Autobiography of Malcolm X  has sold millions of copies; there was the successful, widely distributed Malcolm X movie in 1992.  Yet still, so many people know very little about him. 

Case in point, when I returned from Lansing, Michigan and I was first voicing my disappointment in the street names a friend asked me, “So… you want to them to name a street after a terrorist?”

Malcolm X is no more a terrorist than the likes of Patrick Henry, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.  Think about this:

One of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the great struggle for independence.

-Charles A. Beard, 1935

So although this letter is a work I’m self conscious about (heck it took eight months to even mail), I’m sharing it here.  Certainly there is someone who’d have more convincing arguments or better articulation than I.  I’m including the City Council’s address– please send them a better letter!

Lansing City Council
124 West Michigan Ave., 10th floor
Lansing, Michigan 48915

Dear Mr. Leeman and colleagues,
            … In July, I had the opportunity to visit your city on a business trip.  At the beginning of my trip, I was quite fond of Lansing.  I especially enjoyed all the parks and the beautiful River Walk.  I am sad to report, however, that my visit was quickly overshadowed when I went to visit the childhood home of Malcolm X.
I was aware ahead of time that the home was gone, so I knew to expect a historical marker.  What really took me aback was the cross street to Vincent Court.  I was surprised that your city has an entire street named after Martin Luther King, Jr. when you have a comparable, if not better, local figure to honor.  Standing on Martin Luther King Blvd, looking at a measly marker, I could not help but be struck by how Lansing was snubbing one of its own. 
            In his autobiography, Malcolm X described aspiring to be lawyer as a child.  When he shared that inclination, it was a Lansing school teacher who instructed Malcolm to “be realistic” and to aim to be a carpenter instead.  Although much less direct, the corner of Martin Luther King and Vincent Ct. is sending a similar message to the city’s youth.  That message, paraphrased, is this:
 “You can correct mistakes of your youth, become well educated and articulate.  You can speak for the oppressed.  You can fight for those who can’t.  You can dedicate every ounce of your being to a meaningful cause.  You can risk death and bodily harm for a better world.  You can enlighten, you can convince, you can inspire.  Yet still– Lansing is going to search a thousand miles away for a hero.”
            One of the things I most admire about Malcolm X was the fortitude he showed revising his views after visiting Mecca.  He knew his new beliefs would infuriate his colleagues.  He knew it would alienate some of his admirers.  He even knew the more accepting approach would be the death of him.  He forged ahead nonetheless, demonstrating it is never too late to change your mind and make amends.
            It isn’t too late for Lansing either.  You have the opportunity to exercise your own fortitude.  Do something more than a historical marker.  Do something more than a school mural.  

Embrace Malcolm X.  

March 12, 2006 at 5:03 pm 5 comments

ORA-00942 on Data Moved with SQL Server Data Transformation Services

Here’s another little fun run-in with Oracle.  I used the Data Transformation Services in SQL Server Enterprise Manager (2000) using the Microsoft ODBC for Oracle as the driver for my transfer.  Everything ran successfully, however, when I logged into the database using the SQL*Plus tool and did a simple query:


I got the following error message:

ORA-00942: table or view does not exist

Now– when I queried the built-in All_Tables table (which by the way, that is a query I’ve found helpful on more than one occassion):

SELECT Table_Name, Tablespace_Name, Owner FROM All_Tables;

The results show me that my table is in the right tablespace and has the right ownership.  I confirmed the login I was using to SQL*Plus had view permissions to the table.  Everything seemed in order– what could be wrong?

Well, apparently there is something unique about the naming when SQL Server DTS writes tables to Oracle– quotes are around the table name (but not reflected in the All_Tables query).  Sure enough, if you run this query:

SELECT * FROM “MyTable”;

results are returned as expected.

The final solution is quite easy– just run a RENAME TABLE command from your SQL> prompt in SQL*Plus.

RENAME TABLE “MyTable” to MyTable;

And you are good to go.  Since I’m going to be migrating the same SQL database over on multiple occassions for testing purposes, I have a text file handy with all my rename calls.  I copy them in bulk to SQL*Plus and I’m off.

March 9, 2006 at 10:43 pm 1 comment

Gordon Parks

This morning, I came down the stairs and Sean was already sitting by the computer.

 “Gordon Parks died,” he said.

The name was familiar, but it took a second to place.  A flash of a little smiling boy flashed in my head.  The image was from the cover of American Legacy magazine.  Over the weekend, I had read a wonderful article on Gordon Parks called A Life Extraordinary.

It was amazingly touching and powerful article.  It would be hard not to be with the subject matter at hand.  Gordon Parks exercised great courage, great resolve and great creativity throughout his life.  I’m sure the AP writers can capture his contributions and achievements better than I:

I would highly recommend picking up a copy of American Legacy magazine and reading A Life Extraordinary or better yet, Parks has a new autobiography out called A Hungry Heart: A Memoir.  I haven’t read it yet, but based on the excerpts in the article, it should be a powerful read.

March 8, 2006 at 2:33 pm Leave a comment

Journal Excerpt: Clint Quotes from Beach Trip 2005

Going through my journals tonight, I ran into some Clint quotes from the beach (August 2005).

When discussing all the inadvertantly nudity this trip:

I had told Carolyn and Clint they could use my bathroom whenever.  Well Monday I showered and came out into my room, fished for some clothes, went back into the privacy of my bathroom to get dressed.

When I came back out I noticed the balcony door was left cracked, so I closed it and locked it.

Suddenly I heard knocking.  Clint was out there smoking – he had been there the whole time.  He very well could have seen me nude.

When I told Mom that tale she said, “Oh my, that would have been a disaster!”

“Well,” Clint said, “I wouldn’t say ‘disaster'”.  He had a sly grin on his face.

A dinner conversation:

This evening we had pizza for supper and great conversation as usual.  At one point Maria was sharing why Samantha wasn’t named “Melanie”

“Tim said the nickname for Melanie was ‘Smelly Melly'”

From there we discussed names and how they were made fun of.

Timmy shared that his middle name (“Colley”) got some negative attention on that front.

Then we migrated to the famed Seinfeld episode where Jerry forgot the name of his girlfriend.  He found out that her name rhymed with a female body part, so Jerry and George brainstormed what it could be.  “Mulva” was their front runner.  It was revealed at the end, her name was “Delores”

So as we reminisced the classic episode Mark asked, “What was her name?”

“Delores!” we all repeated.

“I don’t get it,” Mark said, “What female body part does that rhyme with?  I was never able to figure it out.”

This was still officially supper and we all shied away from revealing the answer.

“I nominate you to field this one, Denise,” I said to new Denise.

She declined to enlighten Mark at the dinner table.

Timmy came to the rescue.  “Have you met Carolyn’s husband?” he asked Mark

“Yes,” Mark said.

“What’s his name?” Tim asked.

Mark didn’t have to utter “Clint”  Suddenly the answer was clear.

We all laughed so hard, Julie in the other room later inquired what had us in such an uproar.

Anyway, I shared that story with Clint today.

“Cool,” he said, “I’ve never been the crux of explaining a Seinfeld episode before.”

March 5, 2006 at 6:13 am 1 comment

Dad Story: Hershey Kisses

One of the great joys of my life is my father and the humour he invariably brings to my days.  Below is one of such story that made me laugh.

Dad has an unpredictable sweet tooth.  Sometimes he seems indifferent to sweets- oblivious of the temptations they offer.  Then sometimes, their siren call reaches him and he will gobble down the treats while lying in bed and reading the daily paper.

One day Dad was enjoying a bag of Hershey Kisses in that manner.  The sugar rush apparently wasn’t very strong as Dad fell asleep. When he woke up, he immediately started gagging and making a big ruckus.  He had brown streaks all over his arms and chest.  He thought someone (or something) pooped on the bed and he rolled in it!

Turns out, he just fell asleep on top of that bag of Hershey Kisses and they melted on him!

On a side note, a few years ago, my husband woke up to find a little present from our beagle on the adjacent pillow.  My husband was, understandably, livid.  He found me to be less than supportive.  As he relayed the story to me, I could not stop laughing. 

Before I could even choke out my thought, my husband snapped, “YES!  I’m SURE it’s NOT Hershey Kisses!”

March 3, 2006 at 2:00 pm 5 comments

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