Bloomin’ incompetence.

My mother had a Christmas cactus. As a houseplant, it was pretty much as advertised — easy to care for, impervious to all but the most heinous abuse. And it bloomed like clockwork every year, only not at Christmas. My mom ignored it other than regular watering, and it rewarded her by blooming at Halloween. Fortunately, its blossoms were a sort of salmon/orange color, so it went with the general Halloween theme.

I bought a Christmas cactus last year, at Christmas. It bloomed through the holidays and then threatened to die, but I repotted it and it found a new reason to live. Encouraged, I hit the internet and downloaded a multi-page document detailing exactly how I should care for it to ensure another bloom at Christmas 2006. I can’t say I followed it religiously — there was something about both lowering the temperature and reducing the light by sticking it in a cool closet. All my closets are more or less room temperature, so I opted to just leave it outside until right before first frost. The night I brought it in, it had tiny blossoms forming.

Huh. I checked the multi-page document, which said the plant should be “developing buds” in October for a holiday bloom. It went into the front window, where the development hit the gas.

And now we’re right on track to be in full flower at… Halloween:


Oh, well. It’s still very pretty. I bought pink for a reason. One gets tired of all that red and green at the holidays.

If it isn’t quite Christmas on the calendar, it felt like it was closer than it is, today. Of course this was the day Alan elected to take the boat out of the water, because nothing says “winter’s coming” like taking waves from a stiff northwest wind over your starboard bow, eh? Fortunately I wasn’t there; I was on car duty. But we got Lush Life de-masted and hoisted from the water and her bottom power-washed. Soon she’ll be on her winter cradle and buttoned up for the duration. Fun fact: If you don’t wash off the bottom slime with a hose immediately upon removal from the water — that is, before it dries — you’ll be removing it with a chisel a day later. All the books tell you this, and it must be true, because that is, quite literally, the first thing the guys at the marina do, once the hull is clear of the surface. Why can’t this miraculous substance be harnessed for good?

Pardon me if I sound rather empty-headed today. I sat for an hour this morning trying to think of something to say about the upcoming elections and realized I was as empty as a cup. What else is there to say? Bush is really really really really really really bad? The Michigan governor’s race is really really really really really depressing? Everything else feels like piling on. I know who I’m voting for, and if the election were held tomorrow, I’d be really really really really really happy to get it over with.

Here in Michigan, and everywhere else I expect, the campaigns (and hence, the ads) have entered the “desperate” state. It’s the Week of the Undecided Woman, and both campaigns are pulling out the stops. Jennifer Granholm has an ad about abortion, and Dick DeVos has one featuring his very pretty daughters and their very pearly white smiles, saying “Vote for my dad.” Both are fairly lame, but DeVos’ is lamer, as I don’t care a whit what the third generation of Amway wealth thinks of anything. But. These are desperate times. DeVos is behind, facing a candidate who has little going for her other than telegenic good looks. I guess he figures: Fire with fire. We’ll see how it works.

Still empty. I guess it’s houseplant bloggin’ until the well refills, eh?

Update: Just went through the comment spam file. It’s the usual — comments loaded with links for pharma products, porn and the like. I don’t usually go through the comment spam, except that lately it’s been catching our own Mary, and sure enough, there she was. Again. I de-spammed her, reread the part on the page where it says de-spammed comments will be resubmitted to the filters, “so that it will learn,” and wondered when this learning might take place. Ah, well. I also like to take note of the different tacks spammers are using to penetrate the filter. This is a recent hit parader:

Interesting post. I came across this blog by accident, but it was a good accident. I have now bookmarked your blog for future use. Best wishes.

Man, that says “my native language isn’t English” as well as anything, don’t you think? There’s also a naked-celebrities site that uses come-ons like this:

Remember Bacon in Footloose and Quicksilver? Now those were some classics.


I am pretty surprised that Julia Roberts is getting all politcal! I read she is supporting raising taxes on oil. That’s gotta be a pretty unpopular opinion these days.

Thanks, jerk. Into the ether with you.

Posted at 9:22 am in Same ol' same ol' |

30 responses to “Bloomin’ incompetence.”

  1. Jennifer said on October 25, 2006 at 9:33 am

    I was given my great-grandmother’s Christmas cactus by my grandmother. She always told me to put it outside during the summer and then when the temp dipped into the low 50’s at night, move it to the attic or the garage, taking it back out in late November. You do indeed want dark and cold to keep them from blooming too soon. I put mine out this summer, but forgot to move it directly to the attic and now it too is a Halloween cactus.

    436 chars

  2. Jennifer said on October 25, 2006 at 9:48 am

    I forgot- yours looks beautiful. They’re pretty no matter what. One of our cacti also blooms more than once a year… I have no idea what’s going on there other than creative expression on the part of the cactus.

    212 chars

  3. nancy said on October 25, 2006 at 10:06 am

    Thanks. So the secret is chill AND dark, eh? There’s something counterintuitive about putting a plant in the dark, I don’t care what anyone says. And this one is a native of Mexico, where I doubt it ever gets inside-the-closet dark, no matter what. But OK, I’ll make a note for next year.

    I forgot to say: Succulents are the new ferns. Write it down.

    Plant books are always telling people to put their plants in the basement, “or another dark, cool place where the temperature is no higher than 55 degrees.” Wha-? My basement is heated, dude. How many people have root cellars anymore? I ask you.

    602 chars

  4. Jennifer said on October 25, 2006 at 10:14 am

    If succulents are the new ferns, will we have succulent bars popping up allover? 🙂

    83 chars

  5. brian stouder said on October 25, 2006 at 10:17 am

    I don’t usually go through the comment spam, except that lately it’s been catching our own Mary, and sure enough, there she was.

    Well, speaking just for my own selfish interests – whether or not you relegate your house plants to the quiet shadows of the nn.c basement – I hope you NEVER FAIL to rescue Mary from there, for pity sakes!

    349 chars

  6. mary said on October 25, 2006 at 10:59 am

    Gee, thanks, Brian.
    Just to be all California smug and all, my Christmas Cacti are outdoors, and they bloom around Christmas time. I have the big nopales cacti as well, forming a backstop for my fence, discouraging miscreants and brushfires. People come by and cut off the paddles for food, which is fine as long as they don’t get greedy and take the whole plant, which has happened to me in the past. My neighbor across the street has lots of the cacti that produce fruit. When son Tom was about 18 months old, he picked one up thinking it was a ball. His hands were immediately full of tiny spines and he was screaming. Off to the ER we went, and there learned the way to remove hundreds of hair-thin cactus stickers: scotch tape. Should you ever find yourself full of tiny spines, now you know.

    801 chars

  7. Jen said on October 25, 2006 at 12:56 pm

    Take a pliers when you go hiking near Tucson. That’s another important thing to know. Some of those spines won’t come out with Scotch tape. Seriously, people do this.

    169 chars

  8. Jason said on October 25, 2006 at 12:57 pm

    Ah, comment spam. I just Googled (or to quote the President, “used The Google”) the exact phrase in the “interesting post” and came up with some 19,000 results, all using the exact same language.

    I’m not sure what the appropriate punishment for comment spammers should be — but I think a crowded airplane full of yapping dogs and a CD of Mrs. Miller are both involved.

    373 chars

  9. Dorothy said on October 25, 2006 at 1:11 pm

    Thank God I wasn’t drinking anything when I read “used the Google.” Did he really say that?! Even his daughters must be making fun of him for that, the idiot.

    While we are (sort of) on the subject of how to remove unwanted items from your body, did you know if you notice a human hair wrapped around an infant boy’s pee-pee while changing his diaper, the best way to remove it is Nair? My friend Marilyn had this happen to her infant son, and the poor pee-pee was strangulating. She rushed him off to the ER, where they did the Nair trick to dissolve the hair. Later she said “Instead of the ER I could have just gone to the drugstore?!”

    645 chars

  10. mary said on October 25, 2006 at 2:35 pm

    Which member of Congress said that the internet was a network of tubes? I know the Daily Show had fun with that for weeks.

    I have to ask, Dorothy. How does a baby boy get a human hair wrapped around his pee pee? I’m trying to imagine the scenario.
    Another substance removal tip: to get damp sand off a kid you’re trying to dress at the beach, sprinkle baby powder on the sandy parts, and brush it off. Works great.

    423 chars

  11. ellent said on October 25, 2006 at 2:47 pm

    Maybe you’ve seen this, but if not, the NY Times catches Mitch Albom out…

    163 chars

  12. Dorothy said on October 25, 2006 at 3:24 pm

    Mary my friend had longish-hair, and a few of them probably fell out while she had changed his diaper before bedtime. In the morning when she went to change him, she found it red and swollen. Somehow a hair can just get wrapped around it and can’t work loose. Sounds freakish, but it can happen. The doctor told her they see cases like this sometimes. Shudder!! Sometimes their tiny fingers can be the unlucky culprit.

    424 chars

  13. nancy said on October 25, 2006 at 3:50 pm

    Excellent tippage, Ellen. Thanks.

    And in my admittedly brief experience with Nair, I recall it as being lethally rough on skin. I’d think it’d do damage to a baby’s weenis, but I defer to the best minds in medicine.

    219 chars

  14. mary said on October 25, 2006 at 4:11 pm

    Nair on the privates does sound bad. I imagine some of the male posters eyes are watering at the thought.

    105 chars

  15. mary said on October 25, 2006 at 4:31 pm

    I have to tell you about this nurse I hired today. She’s 28 years old, looks like Cheryl Tiegs, tall and blonde. She’s funny and smart and articulate. Unlike most nurses she has a bachelors degree, and it’s from a great school. After she graduated she joined the army. First she did a year at Walter Reed in DC. Then two years in Afghanistan, in a field surgical unit. Then another two years at Walter Reed. She’s a surgical nurse, and assisted on amputations, other horrors of war. She worked on Americans and Afghans. Her commanding officers describe her as “brilliant” and “magnificent” and “caring and brave.” She missed a competency exam at one point because of combat conditions. When she talks about what she’s done, she’s humble and shows some emotion. She was awarded a bronze star.
    I don’t support this war, but I have to have enormous respect for someone like this young woman. I’m so glad we have her working here now. I felt priveleged to be in her company.

    984 chars

  16. alex said on October 25, 2006 at 4:39 pm

    I’m surprised they’d put it on a baby’s privates, frankly. The packaging clearly warns against putting it on a grown man’s. Seriously.

    When I worked at legal publisher CCH many years ago, people used to pass around amusing product liability tort cases. One of the all-time faves in the office was the preadolescent who chopped off his weewee with a Eureka vacuum. The other was the guy who burned off his balls with Nair. Yes, I kid you not. (They didn’t actually burn off immediately. Rather, the scrotum sustained burns and the subsequent untreated infection — the guy was evidently too embarrassed to go to the ER — resulted in loss of the testicles.) This occurred in the 1970s; henceforth depilatory products expressly warn consumers not to use it there.

    So what on earth are M.D.s doing putting it on a baby, fer cryin’ out loud?

    843 chars

  17. nancy said on October 25, 2006 at 4:47 pm

    Perhaps a tiny dab of Nair, applied with a swab and closely watched, then removed as soon as the hair is dissolved, could be considered safe.

    I once saw a medical journal article about a man who was masturbating during his factory lunch hour by placing his unit against a fast-moving conveyor belt. The seam came around and caught him, and you really don’t want to know the rest.

    Although while we’re on the subject…

    In Columbus I was driving to an assignment with an old photographer, and we were discussing the injuries among several of the male reporters that day in the newsroom — they’d formed a “touch” football league that was taking a toll, and there was one guy limping and another with a broken blood vessel in his eye.

    The photog said he learned his lesson about touch football when he played as a young man. “I was rushing the punter and took the kick right in the nuts. Crushed a testicle. My scrotum got all swole up, ’bout as big as the football.”

    At this point I was close to leaping out of the car into traffic. And I don’t even HAVE testicles. Every time I saw him after that I had to think to myself, “And he only has one testicle.” Ugh.

    1176 chars

  18. brian stouder said on October 25, 2006 at 4:51 pm

    presumeably a small amount in the correct place can work quickly – followed by lots of warm soapy water.

    Alex – those stories DID make my eyes water! Didja see the story a few weeks back about the guy (an adult) who had a ‘personal sex toy’ in a tube in his carry-on baggage? TSA was quizzing him on what was in the can – and he didn’t want to admit what it was since his mom was travelling with him – so he said it was a bomb!!!

    Of course he was arrested – and his secret came out (so to speak) anyway – so a bad deal all around (note to self – pack personal sex toys in the checked baggage)

    606 chars

  19. alex said on October 25, 2006 at 8:30 pm

    Yes I saw that story, Brian!

    Actually, here’s the particulars. The guy was an Iraqi with U.S. citizenship. He was traveling to Iraq. And his sex toy was a penis pump. Evidently, the word “pump” sounded enough like “bomb” to the airport security folks — and he looked nervous as all hell — so they immediately tackled him and hauled him off for an interrogation.

    I saw him interviewed in the Sun-Times a few weeks ago. He’s not at all bitter, as he understands the exigencies of airport security under the current terrorist threat. And he reports that his mother remains blissfully ignorant as to what the thing was in his luggage.

    640 chars

  20. brian stouder said on October 25, 2006 at 9:40 pm

    Caught Nance’s 7th cousin once-removed on the Olbermann show – and she struck me as being very like Molly Ivins; plain-spoken, laconic, intelligent…in a word – serious.

    She’s fully aware that she’s not going to win, but she isn’t a joke; she ‘caught a bolt of lightening’ (pr-wise) and she is matter-of-factly taking advantage of it to address serious issues. I was frankly impressed – and Olbermann seemed to shift gears and ditch all the easy jokes very early on in their conversation.

    Also tonight, I watched ‘Souder the angry elf’ versus Hayhurst…and dog gone it, I think Dr Hayhurst just might beat that dufus! Souder occasionally rose above incoherence and achieved a certain scornfulness.

    He repeatedly decried all the “lies” being spread about him by phone-calls in the district[!!], and he bitterly denounced Hayhurst for ‘putting words in his mouth’….and then insisted on repeatedly putting words into Hayhurst’s mouth – such as “amnesty” (regarding illegal immigration) and “pro-abortion” – even after Hayhurst patiently explained his positions on those issues.

    All in all – gimme Loretta Nall

    1122 chars

  21. Marcia said on October 25, 2006 at 9:56 pm

    “Unlike most nurses she has a bachelors degree,”

    Mary, why would you want to say something like that? It’s offensive. I was involved in a full code last night with a practitioner who, like myself, does not have one.

    What we do have is a combined 40 years of experience, and you know what, if it was a member of my family needing care, experience trumps a piece of paper every fucking day.

    Don’t spread that prejudice. Please.

    439 chars

  22. Dorothy said on October 26, 2006 at 8:16 am

    I never dreamt this would turn into a slew of penis stories with the mention of my friend’s Nair/ER experience. And Nancy is correct – it was a tiny amount administered under a doctor’s care, and it was just enough to melt through the hair that was causing the pinch. Much safer than a pair of scissors or a scalpel in that area – cough cough.

    And Marcia I don’t presume to speak for Mary, but as a reader I have to put in my two cents – my impression is that Mary was merely stating a fact, not making a judgment about non-degreed nurses. This is another case of not being able to read tone or inflection in words on the screen. A few weeks ago Mary and I were lambasted when we said some things about animal rescue groups that was taken out of context. We all need to remember that we aren’t throwing stones at each other, just having intelligent discourse.

    867 chars

  23. MichaelG said on October 26, 2006 at 8:48 am

    Wow! Great comments. I knew there was a reason I’ve been starting my mornings with nn.c for the last several years. It’s great reading while waiting for the coffee to brew at 0545 here in pre-dawn California.

    211 chars

  24. mary said on October 26, 2006 at 11:02 am

    I really meant no offense. I know most nurses are ADNs and I would trust an experienced ADN over a new graduated nurse of any level of education any day. I think I was surprised by her bsn because she came from the military and was young. You know she could have walked into some fairly posh hospitals with a BSN and not gone into the military. BSNs get paid more to start, and there are positions open only to BSNs. She chose a tougher road. The BSNs with military experience that I’ve run into have picked up their degrees while in the service, not before. They go in with ADNs and use the assistance the military provides to get degrees.

    653 chars

  25. Marcia said on October 26, 2006 at 4:46 pm

    I’m sorry for reading things into your post, Mary. Can’t tell this is a hot button for me, can you?

    100 chars

  26. Danny said on October 26, 2006 at 6:12 pm

    You probably just misread it because you don’t have your BSN.

    JUST JOKING!!! 🙂

    83 chars

  27. mary said on October 26, 2006 at 7:51 pm

    It’s ok Marcia.
    We all wear badges here at the hospital with our names and titles, and I had a new hire nurse who wanted her name with BSN and MSN after it on the badge. Her manager said it was ok with her, and in fact she thought all the nurses should show their degrees on the badge. I told her all the employees should, since I know there are some MAs working as transporters, and at least one MFA recruiting nurses.
    Education should be like religion. Live it, don’t advertise it.

    490 chars

  28. nancy said on October 26, 2006 at 9:16 pm

    Do your nurses have their last names on their badges? I think it was a few years ago that I started noticing nurses (and only nurses) wearing tags that said “Moira�? or maybe Moira M.�? My friend the hospital administrator says for years it was standard practice for psych units and lately moved to the rest of the building. I guess everyone has a stalker or sex fantasy about a nurse, and they tend to get bugged in a way that phlebotomists, doctors and dietary aides don’t. Interesting.

    496 chars

  29. Marcia said on October 30, 2006 at 8:03 am

    Danny, ha.

    Nance, first name only on mine. (And no degrees.) You’re right, though, it’s a relatively new development. And yeah, I absolutely don’t mind if some of the low-lifes I’ve seen don’t know my last name.

    217 chars

  30. mary said on October 30, 2006 at 7:00 pm

    They have both names, but I think they can opt for only first. I haven’t had that request, but I don’t process all the badge authorization forms.
    Marcia, what kinds of crazies to you see in the NICU? I would guess by you get the occasional addict mom who has a preemie, but the idea of crazies in the NICU is very scary to me. The NICU scares me in general. Every time I go there I feel so grateful I had full term healthy babies. NICU is an entirely different kind of nursing from med/surg or critical care. I don’t know how you do it.

    543 chars