Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ringing In - and Out - the Year

In about 7 hours, the new year will be rung in in the Minneapolis area. I've been trying to think of something appropriately witty or erudite to put in here to wish you all a good 2010.

I stumbled across the following quote earlier today, and thought it would be a great way to look at the ending of one year and the starting of the next.

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wishing you all a spirited and unencumbered 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Don't Worry. I'm Okay. (?)

Remember how, when I took my car into the shop, they said that they were pretty sure that they figured out what was wrong and fixed that, even though they weren't 100% sure? Well, imagine that same basic story, but today put me into the role of the car.

After having a strange evening, yesterday, wondering what the kind of random ache near my belly button was, I went to work this morning and had some strange other achy feeling in the same area. Of course, being someone who works in front of a computer all day, I did some Googling and found two top possibilities for what pain near the belly button could be connected to: hernia or appendicitis. But, as with pretty much all online self-diagnosis, I figured I'd just take it all with a grain of salt and get back to work.

On the other hand, when I felt myself get a little flushed late in the morning, I decided that maybe it was time to see what my insurance is actually good for. (In case you don't know this, fever is frequently a direct result of the body trying to fight off an infection. You know, like a sinus infection, or an inflamed appendix...)

I made my excuses to leave work, then called my folks. Dad (have I mentioned that he's a pharmacist?) suggested an ulcer as another possibility. Definitely not the worst of the options, but still not fun. With Christopher's help, as well as a couple of mis-steps at hospitals whose Urgent Care departments are only open in the evening and overnight, I eventually found myself settled in at an Urgent Care that Christopher has gone to.

An hour or so later, I was being poked and prodded and probed by a very congenial doctor as he asked a bunch of questions. Basically, we spent our 10 minutes together taking things off of the list of possibilities. But, in the end, we never put anything into the definite column except the fact that we're 95% sure that I do still have an appendix (I honestly wasn't sure... long story).

So now I'm at home. With Christopher's insistence, I'm drinking lots of clear fluids and trying to rest. (Okay, so I cleared the sidewalks, again, after I got home today, but it was light, at least.) And I apparently did the absolutely wrong thing by eating popcorn for dinner (while trying to avoid anything "bad" in the kitchen, I thought it would be good to eat a dry, innocuous food... my dad has since informed me otherwise).

The doctor sent me home after suggesting that I just monitor my health for the next 48 hours or so. If it doesn't get worse, we're probably okay. If it doesn't get better, we'll have to re-assess. Oh. And if I find myself doubled over in pain and sweating profusely, he suggested that I go the Emergency Room. But... yeah... I think I had that one figured out on my own.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's NOT the End of the Decade!

Tonight, I rant.

I'm sure you've been hearing it on the radio, or on the TV news, or in the countdowns in newspapers, or wherever. People keep saying that we're at the end of the first decade of the 21st century.

Not to throw a wet blanket on all of the celebrations and retrospectives, but... No. We're not.

In the same way that the rollover from 1999 to 2000 was not the end of the 20th century, this is not the end of the first decade of the 21st century.

It's elementary, really. When a small child is taught to count, she starts with 1 and goes to 10. She doesn't start with 0 and go to 9.

So why is it that adults keep wanting to count from 0 to 9? Who knows.

But, as for me, I plan to keep counting this decade for another year. That means it has another 367 days (give or take) to shape up before it ships out.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Yes. It's Still Snowing...

I fully admit that there are times I do not know why I moved back to the middle of the country. I grew up in South Dakota, where I learned early on how to deal with large amounts of snow. I learned how to shovel it. I learned how to drive through it. I learned to detest it while dealing with it. Then I moved away.

For some reason I can't currently bring to mind, I moved back to this part of the world a few years ago. And although most of the winters have been fine, I'm noticing as time goes on -- and I get older -- that I'm not such a big fan of the winters. I don't mind the cold so much. It's the snow (and rain and sleet) that bugs the heck out of me. The past few days have re-proven that point for me.

We have had snow every day since last Wednesday. It came down heavy on Thursday and Friday, followed by temps in the upper 30s. That sounds like it would be a good combination -- since snow melts above 32 degrees -- but it means that the 8 or so inches of snow all started to soften and turn to slush. When the temps dropped on Friday night, everything froze.

Right now, our sidewalks are iced over. Luckily, since it was slush when it froze, the ice is "bumpy" which allows for traction. The same can basically be said for the sidestreets around here. The main roads (freeways and major streets) are pretty much completely clear. But the sidestreets will probably be rough and bumpy until March.

I spent a large part of this morning just trying to shovel out the end of the driveway, which had been filled by boulder-sized packed snow/slush/ice chunks. The snow shovel wouldn't actually dislodge the chunks. I went for an ice scraper/chopper, but split the handle in half when I tried to pop one of the chunks free. Finally, I went for the garden spade and worked my way through the top layer of the blockade.

After an interlude of warming up in the house, I was back outside for more chopping. Finally, I cleared out another layer using the snow blower. In the end, I was able to take the car out to go to the hardware store to get a new ice scraper, as well as some sand and ice melt for the sidewalks.

Now all I need is somewhere to go where I could buy an early spring.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Of Christmases Past...

The drive I take to get home from work these days is all surface streets. No highways. I started doing that a while ago, because the highways were always backed up. I probably take a little longer on the streets, but because I'm constantly moving (even at speeds maxing out around 25 mph), it feels better.

The past few weeks I've also been able to enjoy all of the Christmas lights on the drive. You see, I drive through some pretty high-end real estate on the way, and there are some massive -- yet mostly tasteful -- displays of lights. But there are also the less high-end homes with more heart in their lights which make me even happier.

One of the totally random lights that I love to drive past is a small (maybe 4-foot-tall) fiber optic Christmas tree which one house has alongside the driveway. It's the kind of tree that changes colors gradually. I slow down a little while I pass that one each night so that I can watch the blue shift to green and the yellow shift through orange to red.

Last night on my drive, I was looking at that tree (minding the road, of course), and started thinking of the odd variety Christmas "trees" that were around when I was growing up.

My paternal grandmother had a little green ceramic tree that was probably about 18" tall. It was painted to look like it had needles (well, in a "painted on ceramic under the glaze" sort of way), and had small colored glass pegs which were shaped like Christmas lights that went into holes on each of the "branches. There was a small lightbulb inside the base of the tree, and when it was turned on, all of the bulbs -- and the star on top -- would glow. I used to love rearranging the lights, just because.

Slightly stranger -- and, honestly, more vague in my memory -- was a little tree we used to put in the front window of our house when I was growing up. It was a hollow translucent white plastic tree shape, with kind of a glittery finish. I seem to remember that there was one of those rotating colored lights (the kind that had a four-color plastic disk which turned in front of a lightbulb), that we would aim at it. Although, I admit, I may be completely off on that. But I know there was the white plastic tree, at least.

At my dad's drugstore, we always hung decorations up above the aisles at this time of year. Tinsel garlands and, later, the fold-out foil stars and snowflakes. Of course, the front windows were always sprayed with "snow" decorations. Writing backward was a skill we all learned early, thanks to that. (And it probably helped that there's printing in my genes on my mom's side of the family -- a generation or two of people reading type backward and all.) The tree at the drugstore was always a snowy thing with dots for "balls" and snow stripes for garland.

At home we always had a big "live" tree. They figure in in Christmas photos for as long as I can remember. For years in the living room, and then in the family room (after the addition was built on) near the fireplace. The trees sometimes toppled due to cats, so we got good at tying the tree off to secure points (like a planter-hanging hook in the ceiling). A few ornaments bit the dust that way, but there are still boxes and boxes of surviving ornaments which are filled with history and love. To this day, I love to sit in the glow of the Christmas tree lights in the evening and just think about all that has come before.

I think I understand why the Ghost of Christmas Past got the most screen- (or, rather page-, or at least stage-) time in Dickens. After all, the past seems to be where we all spend a lot of time this time of year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Working for the Weekend

Okay, I'm going to tell you something, but you have to promise not to tell anyone else: I'm blogging from work.

Right now, it's the middle of the afternoon on Wednesday (December 23rd).

We've had our staff "Holiday party" (with delivered lunch from a local sub/pizza place). We've done the obligatory White Elephant Gift Exchange (with requisite shouting and "stealing" of gifts). And -- more importantly -- for the first time all week my inbox is actually pretty steadily slow. So, well, I'm caught up with work and have to kill a couple more hours.

On the plus side, it's nice to not be crazy busy before a long weekend. On the minus side, it's really really hard to be here with nothing to do when I could be home listening to Christmas music or watching a movie or sleeping.

And, yes, I admit that I'm really lucky that we're not open tomorrow through Sunday. That's really a nice feeling. I'm used to having to work right up until the end of Christmas Eve (lots of years in various forms of retail and customer service), so having the full day off on Christmas Eve is going to seem peaceful and calm.

I was in one of the malls last night, though (I met up with Kelly for a movie, but we ended up having dinner, instead), and was actually a little surprised at how busy it was. Especially since shopping last Sunday was pretty easy (except at Target where the parking lot was packed -- but I was shopping for groceries, and no one was in that section of the store). It's kind of fun to be done with everything and able to just stroll through while other people are having fits.

I guess this is the same reason why my folks say they like coming to visit for a couple of days before flying out to LA for Christmas. They say they like being all done with the pre-holiday chaos and having some time to just do nothing before the festivities start. That's how I'm looking at tonight and tomorrow. Christopher and I will probably have a quiet dinner tonight, and get up late tomorrow and just lounge about before heading out to his folks' in the afternoon.

But, that's tomorrow. For now, I've still got a couple of hours to go to get to that relaxation.

Here's hoping you're all about to that peaceful part of Christmastime, too.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Predictably Unpredictable

I've just finished watching the "early" evening news's weather. And -- no surprise to me -- the forecast for the coming week is just as vague as it was this morning.

I've talked with friends of mine about this situation plenty in the past. We joke about how it must be nice to work in a job where you can be mostly wrong about half the time and not lose your job. I mean... really... imagine if you were wrong that often in your own job. Would you still have a job?

That's probably part of why the forecast for this week lists a possibility of anywhere between 2 and 12 inches of snow. I guess that's one way to hedge your bets, isn't it? That's an awfully wide swath to aim for. Kind of like betting your favorite horse will run somewhere between 1st and 10th in a race that has 10 horses.

So, Christopher and I are taking the week as it comes at us. We're hoping for the best and starting to figure out how to prepare for the worst. I guess we're really lucky that our plans only include a one-hour car-ride. No planes. No day-long drives.

We'll be thinking of everyone we know who is out driving in all of it. Wishing them the best. And hoping that the forecasters who are calling for chaos are all wrong. Again.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

John Barrowman Sighting - As Robin Hood

I realized, recently, that it has been ages since there has been a John Barrowman sighting on my blog. And, as if by magic, that same day I stumbled across an online story about the "Panto" he is currently in.

For those who haven't experienced a Panto... well... it's kind of a strange theatrical event to describe. The name is derived from "pantomime," but there's not a single white-faced mime to be found in any of them that I know of. Instead, these are British family-friendly, over-acted, frequently-musical, melodramatic comedies.

Pantos are the kind of shows where everyone in the audience (young and old, alike) gets to cheer for the hero and boo the villain. They're frequently based in well-known stories (like "Cinderella" or... obviously... "Robin Hood"), but can be written and/or improvised for specific audiences. Mainly, they're just a lot of really good fun.

Last year, Barrowman played the lead in "Robin Hood: The Pantomime Adventure" to packed houses in Birmingham (the top image is from that), and this year he's apparently breaking sales records in Cardiff in the same show. (And, according to his website, tickets are already on sale for a version of "Aladdin" that he'll be in -- in December of 2010 -- in Glasgow!)

So, anyway...

There's the John Barrowman sighting of the moment. I now return you to your regularly-scheduled pre-Christmas chaos.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Car Story Wrap-up

Just a very quick post to make sure everyone who is paying attention knows that my car is back from the shop.

Apparently it just had some rattling parts due to its age. (Don't we all?) One piece replaced, another clamped in place, and a transmission flush later, I'm back in my own car.

AND I even had enough money left over to go out to dinner at Dairy Queen with Christopher on the way home!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

C Minus 8 Days And Counting...

Oh my gosh. Can you believe it's only 8 days until Christmas? (Or maybe 9, depending on how you do the math.) With that in mind, I'm going to bullet this blog posting, to save us all a little time.

- The story of the purse: The Lost and Found office is a little window in the wall on the Mezzanine level above the ticketing area. There's a magical box in the wall next to the window where packages can be passed through without the Lost and Found office ever being exposed to the world. It was nifty. And the purse is currently safe and sound at home with us.

- My Christmas shopping is done. That's really exciting. Although my car started making odd noises just as I got home. So it's at the shop tonight, and I hope to be told that it was an easy fix tomorrow when they call me. (I really hope.) Luckily, I currently have Mom and Dad's car as a back-up, at least.

- Last week Friday we took my folks to see the Valley Chamber Chorale's Christmas concert out in Stillwater. (Christopher's mom is one of their accompanists.) The concert was amazing, and Mom and Dad really enjoyed it. A very nice evening -- and we got to hang out with Christopher's folks for a while that afternoon/evening, too.

- Last Saturday we went to a Christmas party which was really nice. Good food, good wine, and we got to spend the evening hanging out and talking to friends -- and meeting the new son of some really good friends. Amazing how the Holidays are more and more about friends as we get older. Love that.

- Monday night Christopher and I went to the Galleria (it's a shopping center in Edina), and stumbled across a whole bunch of kids playing violins. Apparently it was a recital of some kind. It was nifty hearing the music playing, and then realizing that it was live.

And now -- having gotten home from a fun and convivial dinner with a couple of my cousins -- it's time for bed. One of the hazards of the Christmas season: it takes a lot of energy to be so energetic.

Monday, December 14, 2009

...Make That G22... or G18...

Just wanted to update you and let you all know that my folks made it out to Los Angeles. Of course, not until after they had to change gates at the last minute. (No. Really last minute. First class had already boarded.) This meant they had to go from the easy-to-get-to gate G2 all the way to the other end of the concourse.

I learned this last night while watching their flight not take off while staring at the screen for about an hour. I was okay with it when it was just a little delayed, but then it got really late and still just listed as "delayed." So I kept refreshing the screen and checking. Christopher went to bed. I finally joined him after I saw the "in flight" status show up.

Oh, but it got even more fun -- my mom's purse went missing in the shuffle. Luckily, she had her driver's license in her carry-on (for check-in and such), but that meant that her credit cards and cash were gone.

I found out the latter portions of this in an email from one of my sisters first thing this morning. They had reported the purse missing right away in LA, and -- I think, but I'm not sure -- they notified Minneapolis airport immediately last night, too. But they hadn't heard anything this morning, so they were all set to start cancelling cards.

I made a quick call to the Lost and Found office out at MSP this morning (between calls to my sister -- for details -- and Christopher -- to see if he could check in the cars), and was informed that they had Mom's purse right there at the airport. Still had its credit cards and cash in it. As far as we can tell, nothing is missing.

They said they could keep it for 30 days, but I'm going to head out there tomorrow morning to pick it up, just so we don't push our luck on Midwestern Holiday Goodwill.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Now Departing From Gate G2...

There's a long speech at the end of "Love, Actually" where the voiceover talks about how, if you need to know whether there is love in the world, you just need to go to the arrivals terminal at the airport.

I wonder what that means about watching people at the departures area?

I just got back home from dropping off my parents at the airport so that they could fly out to Los Angeles to spend Christmas with their grandkids (oh -- and my sisters and brothers-in-law, too). They've been staying with us in Minneapolis since Thursday evening (you can blame them for the 3 non-blog-posting days), as a kind of "stopover" on the way.

We've spent some quality time hanging out, seeing the holiday sights (including a Christmas concert by the Valley Chamber Chorale, and an afternoon screening of the British Television Ad Awards at the Walker Art Museum), and eating WAY too much. Yes. I even dragged them to the Hopkins Center for the Arts to see the photography exhibit I wrote about a few days ago.

But, tonight, after just over 3 full days of having them, here, I drove them to the airport. I parked the car and walked in with them, then watched their bags as they got all checked in. Finally, I hung out while they worked their way through security, then phoned my sisters to say that they were on the way, and headed home to Christopher and a more normal, but much emptier, house.

On the plus side, they'll be back in just about 2 weeks, spending one night with us before heading home. And, at least at that trip to the airport, I'll get to be one of the overly-happy people who are meeting friends or family at the arrivals gate.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow... Tree... Sleep...

In case you haven't seen it on the weather, the upper-middle section of the country got hit with snow this week. It's December, so that's not really out of the ordinary. But the shock was that we went from warm November with no snow on the ground to COLD December (high tomorrow predicted as 10 degrees), and about 5 inches of snow on the ground. Usually we kind of get eased into it. This was not "easing."

But I made it through last night's commute just fine, and got to work today taking only about an extra 5 minutes, and so I wasn't really minding the snow. Until I got home from work and couldn't get up the driveway to put my car in the garage. It's not a steep driveway. And I have All-Wheel Drive, so I really don't have trouble in snow. Unless, of course, the snow has drifted and the car starts to get high-centered on the packed snow in the middle of the driveway.

Before I'd even gotten "home" I was starting up the snow blower and clearing the driveway and the sidewalks. Of course, the reason Christopher bought the snow blower was because we live on a fairly large corner lot. Corner lot = lots of sidewalks. And these sidewalks are about 4 feet wide. Yeah. I was kind of chilly by the time I'd gotten everything cleared, pulled my car in, and come inside.

Once inside, though, I found Christopher playing Christmas music and getting out ornaments to put on the tree. So we spent the next hour decorating the tree and putting out a few more decorations around the house. We really don't go overboard -- just enough to let people know when they're here that we're in a festive mood. Right now I'm writing this by the light of the tree and the star lights that are on the opposite wall (okay... and the light of my monitor).

Sitting in the almost-dark like this is what really makes the Holidays for me. Smelling the oranges stuck with cloves, seeing the first of the Christmas cards sitting on the buffet. Yeah. Christmas time is upon us.

Which leads me to the last of the three things in the headline: Sleep. My folks are coming in to town tomorrow -- spending a little time, here, before flying out to LA to be with the rest of the family for Christmas -- and so I'll need the rest to help me get the house put together before they get here. Oh, and I probably need it for the day tomorrow, since I'm sure that tomorrow's commute will be worse than today's simply because more people will be out on the roads.

Ugh. Before I start thinking about that, I'm going to sign off, stare at the lights a little longer, and snuggle into bed. Stay warm.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Musical Monday

I know that Mondays are typically "Movie Mondays," but I gave myself an early Christmas gift this past weekend and went to see "In the Heights" as it toured through Minneapolis.

It's an interesting show -- probably one of the least-known Best Musical winners in the recent past. Here's the basic story, in case you don't have any idea about it: It takes place on the 3rd and 4th of July on a mostly Hispanic corner in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. It's a story of dreams lost and found. Of the families we are born into and the ones we choose. And of how money can change your life.

It's also one of the few shows on Broadway (or anywhere) that isn't totally and completely in English. In fact, there's quite a bit of it that is in Spanish. Which is not to say that someone (like me) who doesn't speak Spanish can't follow the story. It's incredibly easy to follow everything that's going on. It was even easy for the women behind me who commented, during intermission, that they couldn't understand all the speaking because -- they assumed -- of the accents. I guess a whole different language is about as strong an accent as you can get, right?

The whole show is alive with singing and dancing and emotion. The music is the kind of stuff that makes you want to dance in your seat. The voices on the stage were amazing -- and some of the unspoken moments were even more powerful than the spoken ones.

Now here's the strange thing about the show: It struck me, as I was leaving, that it was the perfect Christmas show. Sure, it takes place on the hottest day of the year, but the tale is all about family and friends and knowing where your home is. How much more perfect can you get for Christmas?

If the "In the Heights" tour comes to your area -- or if you can make it to Broadway to see it -- I'd definitely recommend it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas is Coming

We actually have our tree up in the living room. It's not decorated, but it is up and has lights on it. So far, it's looking pretty good.

And, you know, that's as far as we got in the house today, and that's all the further I'm going to get in this posting.

18 shopping (and decorating) days to go. Wish me luck.

Friday, December 4, 2009

One Nod. One Short Conversation.

Wow. In the past week, I've had both a nod (from a woman in the hallway), and a short conversation (from a guy in the stairwell), at work.

The nod was probably the bigger of the two surprises. The woman walked out of her office looking nervous and shy, then looked up and worriedly made tentative eye contact. When I smiled back and nodded at her, she actually smiled back and nodded in return. Amazing how much friendlier that made the hallway.

The stairwell conversation was brought about because of the logistics of the space. The stairwell is way too narrow for people to pass on the actual stairs. Instead, as you're walking, you have to pause at one of the corner landings and wait for the other person to pass. Today, as I was going up, a guy was coming down with his hands full of lunch and paperwork. When I stopped to wait for him to pass, he smiled, then commented that the only way to pass anyone was at the corners. Not exactly Algonquin Round Table conversation, but it was more than usual.

Who knows? Maybe it's the start of the Holiday season that has people making connections. Or maybe it's the fact that, when it's cold out, it's good to be warm to the people you're around. Either way, I'm hoping this is just the start of the thaw.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Open to Interpretation

No. That's not the way I'm feeling about my day. "Open to Interpretation" is the name of a Photography Exhibit by Clare O'Neill which is currently taking place at the Hopkins (MN) Center for the Arts. It's a nifty exhibit where the photographer has asked writers to give their interpretations of each of the images.
The writers were given the 12 images and simply asked to choose the pieces they wanted to write about and then do just that -- in 300 words or less. For the exhibit, she has mounted the photos with the write-ups and all are on display for the world to see.

Aside from the obvious fact that it's an interesting idea, why is it important to me? Because *I* am one of the writers who contributed and is featured! That's right. Now through the 10th of January, you can see two super-short stories that I wrote on display with all of the other pieces people contributed.

The exhibit, called "Open to Interpretation" (which uses the artwork, above, as it's "header"), had its "opening night" tonight. (No, I didn't actually write about any of those three images.)

Of course, vanity being what it is, I had to go to see it.

Christopher and Darci (remember her? The stunningly attractive blonde I've mentioned in the past?) and I went over to see it tonight. The exhibit is in the "Lobby Gallery" which makes it incredibly accessible, but also a bit odd at times when there are other events going on -- like tonight's 7 o'clock curtain for "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." Overall, though, it works because it's a big open space with plenty of room to walk up to or away from each piece.

The images themselves are amazing. From landscapes to intimate not-quite-portraits, each one is different and all are evocative. And with the added benefit of the written pieces... well... it's pretty darned cool. Granted, some of the writings struck us as better than others, and some of the pictures were more interesting to us than others, but that's what art does, isn't it?

Oh. One nifty thing about the exhibit: This was the first time I'd gotten to see the titles that Clare (the photographer) had given each of the pictures. You see, we wrote our short pieces without any input or leverage. Which makes it even more interesting to see how people wrote about them. Some stories were very similar (like the two about the white dress pictured above), some were opposite sides of the same coin (there are two where one talks of the road in the picture, while the other talks about the tree), and there are some that are just a bit odd. But it works.

And, if you're in the area, I'd really suggest going.

Not just because I'm in the exhibit -- although when I stopped to talk to Clare she introduced me to the two gentleman standing with her because they had both thought one of my pieces was the best in the exhibit -- but because it's really cool.

And really cool can go a long way to warm up a cold day/night!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World AIDS Day 2009

I've spent a lot of the past couple of days debating how to write about World AIDS Day in my blog. It's not that I wanted to pretend it wasn't there. It's not that I was afraid I'd offend anyone. So why was it that I didn't know what to write?

I think it's because it's one of those scary topics that is easier left in the dark. It's easier to whitewash it out of the way with some well-placed denial and not have to think about the 33.4 million people worldwide living with HIV and AIDS. It's easier to not think about the possible SEVEN THOUSAND new infections which happen on a daily basis worldwide. Or to think of the 25 million people who have died of AIDS since it was first named less than half a century ago.

I remember seeing the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt laid out on the National Mall in Washington, DC, in (I think) 1996. I remember the tears and the fear and the outrage that not enough was being done to stop the spread of the disease. And here we are nearly 15 years later, with new infections once again on the rise and AIDS ravaging portions of the world population.

Yes. Great strides have been made in the treatment of HIV and AIDS, and some people are living longer and longer with the help of those treatments. (I thank the powers above for that on a daily basis, because I have some great friends I do NOT want to lose any time soon.)

There are still fears and tears, but the outrage seems to have faded. Let's hope that the outrage has been replaced by work and diligence -- and not simply faded away because it was easier to move on.

I stumbled across a set of videos on YouTube, today, which was sponsored out of New York City. They are all videos addressing why people talk about HIV and AIDS. The "main" video is here at .

Please take the 2 minutes to watch it. It may not be easy, but that doesn't mean it's not worth doing.

Here's to a day in the future when World AIDS Day no longer has to exist.

** Scary Sidenote ** When I ran spell-check on this posting "HIV" and "AIDS" were both recognized terms in the dictionary. Wouldn't it be great if they didn't have to be? ** End Scary Sidenote **