Things that Make My Head Thump, Part 8

What’s on the iPod: The Last Time by Taylor Swift with Gary Lightbody

Yesterday was an exercise in getting absolutely nothing done. I tried. Plenty. However, I couldn’t get the internal engine going. The goal was to get the portfolio for the conference completed. I started it, but there was a lot of distraction.

The largest distraction was the publication of my latest article, which was then posted on a few LinkedIn groups. The topic — Is risk management obsolete? — appeared in a risk management magazine. The editor knew it would start conversations, but I think we’re all surprised just how much conversation.

There were just a few people who didn’t agree, and most got the point of the article, which was to point out the shortcomings of the profession and give pointers on how to get to a better place in the career. One person thought it was a “rehashing” of the same old thing. That would be true if they ever talked about it. I commented once and stayed out of it from that point.

Partly fueled by a rainy, miserable day and partly due to a number of things going on privately, I feel it’s time for a Things that Make My Head Thump post. Feel free to add your own peeves in the comments section.

Here are the things making my head hurt this week:

The double-standard view. I don’t give a flip about celebrities and who they’re dating/not dating, but I do care when I see a pile-on that makes no sense. It would seem Taylor Swift (see the link above) is dating around a lot. That’s a problem because…. well hell, you tell me why it’s a problem. The girl is 23. She dates. Apparently, that’s not just news, but it seems it’s heinous news. Let’s ask this — how often did Jack Nicholson take heat for dating the lines of women he’s been with? Never. It’s “Atta boy” for him. For a girl who’s probably the same age as those he’d date, it’s the chopping block. Lay off, people. She’s a kid. Let her have her fun and mind your own business.

News coverage thick with speculation. I get why you stay on the air for hours — there are people just turning on the tv or the radio, and things are developing quickly. But for the love of gawd, do not repeat unsubstantiated reports. Consider it nothing more than gossip until you have verification. And they wonder why journalism is dying…

People who skim and then comment like authorities. That article I wrote? At least one comment was so off-base from what was presented that I’m convinced the poster didn’t read the entire article. He couldn’t have or he’d have seen that it said exactly what he was saying it should say. Don’t denounce something or push your agenda until you have the facts.

Brownie cookies. Think of the taste of brownies but the consistency of a sugar cookie, made by the grocery store bakery. Now you know why I’ve increased my workout schedule. I bought them yesterday for the writers’ group meeting. I’m inches from throwing them out to avoid the temptation. Almost.

Hunger. Did you know 1.4 billion people worldwide live below the poverty line? That’s extreme poverty conditions. Now an organization is challenging you to live on what these people live on — $1.50 a day — for five days to understand just how poor this kind of poor is. Go to for more info and to take the challenge. Help them raise money and awareness, because this kind of poverty is sinful and we shouldn’t be putting up with it.

Things that Make My Heart Smile:

Ah yes, why not spread a little joy along with the headaches?

Resilience. As witnessed in Wednesday night’s Boston Bruins hockey game:

Dancing like no one’s watching–just 50,000 people (not including YouTube). This kid just couldn’t help himself:

What’s bugging you? What’s making you smile this week?

About the author




  • Devon Ellington April 19, 2013 at 11:51 am

    The journalism thing. The local news blathers on about the Boston Marathon bombings all day, not letting any other programs air. Not only do they simply repeat everything, much of it unverified information, but their tech people can't ever put in the right tape or switch to the right reporter or get the audio going properly. There's a reason these people don't work in NY — they couldn't last two minutes.

    When there is actual NEW information, let us know. Otherwise, STFU.

  • Paula April 19, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    One thing getting short shrift in the news, due to the endless coverage Devon described above, is the flooding here in Illinois and elsewhere in the Midwest. My town broke an all time record for rainfall in one 24-hour period – and we weren't hit nearly as badly as most areas. All fell on already soggy ground. (My sister's Albany Park neighborhood in Chicago, which flooded in 2008 was reworked to avoid such flooding and it's worse now than in 2008. I hope Gabriella's in a dry zone!)

    My 93-year old foundation leaks with excessive rains,so I expected a bit of water. I usually manage well with a wet vac, fans and towels. Water was already seeping in Wednesday night, and I cleaned some up, but I knew when I woke up Thursday I'd have a very wet basement. Instead, I woke at 3:50 AM to the sound of dripping. I have a brand new roof, so the roofer came out yesterday morning. He said my chimney needs tuck pointing. Heavy rains and strong wind forced water through those holes, and it made it under the flat roof, down a rafter and in through a bedroom ceiling. First chimney repair estimate? $350-$400.

    Wait. There's more. When I went to the basement there was 3" of standing water. Turns out the sewer was backed up, so the two floor drains didn't let the incoming rainwater out. That proved too much for me to handle alone. Luckily I managed to get a trusted plumber to squeeze me in – he was charging time and a half yesterday due to the emergencies he was handling, and who can fault him? It took nearly 4 hours for him to pump most of the water out of the basement. He couldn't rout the sewer pipe, so this morning Roto-Rooter came out and made quick work of that (they had to cut out part of a wall, but it's a basement). Luckily they had a $5 coupon and a deal with the local water reclamation place for a $25 discount for the sewer line clean out.

    Did you know when you have excessive water in the basement you should have the gas shut off to avoid an explosion should a pilot light go out and continue releasing gas? I did the right thing and had the gas shut off. Well, this morning it was snowing when I called to have the gas turned back on, and they THEN informed me I need to have all of the gas appliances inspected – and the basement completely dry – before they'll turn the gas back on. Until then, no hot water, no heat, no gas oven or stove. But at least I can use running water and flush the toilets again!

    Yep. Hidden costs are making my head go boom.

    Now I need to start wet-vaccing and cleaning. And I need to get a de-humidifier, too. And bleach. Lots of bleach. And heavy-duty trash bags. And a mop or two. And none of this is covered by homeowners insurance. Argh.

    That's all making my head go boom, but I'm taking comfort knowing that I don't have it nearly as bad as a lot of people. Water levels this morning were past windowshields of cars parked just a block or so from my sister's house. All houses there have basements completely full of water and have had to evacuate. Luckily my sister's house is just far enough to be dry.

    All of these unexpected expenses are making my head go boom. And making me wonder why writers don't demand payment immediately upon completion for everything we write.

    Thankfully the plumber let me pay a deposit and pay the rest in a couple weeks when a big check comes in. You know, the check I THOUGHT would give me a slight cushion after paying my May bills….

    I also need to finish an article today so I can get it invoiced – if I do that today I'll be paid by the first of the month. Talk about motivation!

  • Cathy Miller April 19, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    I loved the Boston hockey game footage. And how cool was it that the singer put aside his ego to let an act from the heart take center stage?

    My Mom is addicted to a certain station that will remain nameless, which drives me crazy anyway, but when something tragic like the Boston bombing, it makes it even worse. I turn off the TV, put on my headset and use my writing to soothe.

    Paula, you are so right about the stations ignoring the terrible flooding. If I did not have friends & family in Chicago, I never would have known.

    Okay, my head-exploding moments this week are a common theme – lousy customer service. I won't bore you with the details, but let me give you a hint – IRS & health insurance claims. Enough said.

    Except, to show there is a God, I actually got an extremely helpful insurance representative who made multiple calls to my providers on my behalf and followed up with me 3 times with updates. Wow.

    I followed up with her supervisor to let her know how much I appreciated it.

    Have a great weekend, all. Praying for a peaceful, safe & healing weekend.

  • Paula April 20, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    I have a good thing to add to my (very lengthy) series of headaches: When looking for someone to pump out the basement, I'd left a message a good friend who inherited the unwanted task of managing his family's rental properties. He always has a guy for everything.

    By the time he called back, I'd already found someone to pump out the basement, but by then I had the three inspections to get done before the gas company will turn the gas back on. He does! He said his go-to heating & cooling guy can do it. I called him around 5:30 yesterday and he'll be here at 9:00 AM. Better yet? He charges about $30 less to inspect all three appliances than the gas company's "unrelated" side company would charge for just one. Actually, more like $45 less than they'd charge for a weekend call.

    Yes, I woke to an indoor temperature of 50 degrees, but it's sunny today so the house might heat up a degree or two. I'm also going to pull the crock pot out and make some black bean soup. That should take off some of the chill.

    Never looked forward to a Monday as much as this one!

  • Lori April 20, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Devon, that's always been a peeve for me. I can't stand when so-called journalists don't check their facts. And I wouldn't be so sure the NY news gets it right — they've screwed up more times than enough, too. The problem is they try to scoop the other channels and end up looking idiotic.

    Paula, that's awful. I hope you're drying out. We just got a portion of your rain yesterday. Wild! Just an hour of it was enough.

    Cathy, that guy has been singing for them for over 35 years, I've read. How neat! You sound like me — I just couldn't take anynmore, so I turned it off. Too much bad news can't be good for anyone.

    Paula, that's COLD! I hope you're doing better today. Did everything get sorted?

  • Paula April 21, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    It'll be a while before everything is sorted for anyone who had even this level of basement flooding. At least my water was clean.

    A neighbor around the corner had even more water, and is also without gas. My sister's neighbor had much higher water – and sewage, ick! – in her basement and it's still not all pumped out. Her gas is off, too. And when I walked down to the store (partly to warm up – it's 48 and sunny out!) for more cleaning supplies, the checker said she'd been cleaning her basement, too, before heading to work, and the woman behind me in line was doing the same thing.

    My basement is almost dry. Most non-water-proof things were up high, but a few things will need to be tossed. My brother's going to be here next weekend and he said he'll help remove any bulky or heavy things that need to go. (One twin box spring and one chair will probably have to be pitched, the rest is probably just little things.)

    The scary part: We're on a hill, away from flood zones. Imagine what it's like closer to those low-lying areas.

    We had more rain in one day than we had throughout all of last summer…and we might have showers tonight and rain again Tuesday.

    Gonna change into the grubby clothes and head back down. I really only feel cold when sitting at the computer. The rest of the time I'm moving or under a big comfy afghan.

  • Jenn Mattern April 24, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Wow Paula. I'm so sorry to hear about your flooding nightmare. And here I've been freaked out about a water pipe bursting (which only flooded an empty unfinished part of the basement — could have been much worse). Way to put things in perspective!

    I hope you're soon back to normal up there, and that you didn't lose too much. And I hope your gas was able to be turned back on. It's been cooler than expected here the last few days, so I hope you had a chance to warm up instead of getting hit with a cold front on top of things. On the plus side, it's supposed to be a gorgeous 70+ degree day here. Hopefully you'll see something similar and get a bit of sun to dry things up. 🙂