Thursday, August 31, 2006

Euphemisms: I agree with George

Ordinarily, I despise euphemisms.  I think the real ones weaken our language, and destroy both meaning and confidence in the user.  These, however, are hilarious.

For the real deal on euphemisms, though, you'll have to check out George Carlin's priceless rant which I have, totally without permission, posted at the bottom of this entry.

George Carlin rocks. 

These were sent to me by my cousin Mitzi, who always sends the best spams.  I know, I know, most of you have seen these a million times already, but I hadn't.

Blamestorming:  Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.

Seagull Manager:  A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.

Assmosis:  The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than by working hard.

Salmon Day:  The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed and die in the end.

Cube Farm:  An office filled with cubicles.

Prairie Dogging:  When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people's heads pop up over the walls to see what's going on.

Mouse Potato:  The online answer to the couch potato.

SITCOM:  Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage.  What yuppies turn into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids.

Starter Marriage:  A short-lived first marriage that ends in divorce with no kids, no property, and no regrets.

Stress Puppy:  A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny.

Swipeout:  An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because the magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.

Xerox Subsidy:  Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one's workplace.

Irritainment:  Entertainment and media spectacles that are annoying but you find yourself unable to stop watching them.  The O.J. trial was a prime example.  Bill Clinton's Grand Jury testimony is another. Anything about Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie, Britney Spears, Kevin Federline, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, or Tom Cruise also fits into this category.

Percussive Maintenance:  The fine art of whacking the heck out of an electronic device to get it to work again.

Vulcan Nerve Pinch:  The taxing hand position required to reach all the appropriate keys for some computer commands.

Adminisphere:  The rarefied organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file.  Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are often profoundly inapproporiate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve.

404:  Someone who's clueless.  From the World Wide Web ereror message "404 Not Found," meaning that the requested document could not be located.

Generica:  Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one is, such as fast food joints, strip malls, and subdivisions.

Ohnosecond:  That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you've just made a BIG mistake.

WOOFYS:  Well Off Older Folks

And now for the anti-euphemism King of the World, George Carlin.  Warning:  Political incorrectness and naughty words.

I don't like words that hide the truth. I don't words that conceal reality. I don't like euphemisms, or euphemistic language. And American English is loaded with euphemisms. Cause Americans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality. Americans have trouble facing the truth, so they invent the kind of a soft language to protest themselves from it, and it gets worse with every generation. For some reason, it just keeps getting worse. I'll give you an example of that. There's a condition in combat. Most people know about it. It's when a fighting person's nervous system has been stressed to it's absolute peak and maximum. Can't take anymore input. The nervous system has either (click) snapped or is about to snap. In the first world war, that condition was called shell shock. Simple, honest, direct language. Two syllables, shell shock. Almost sounds like the guns themselves. That was seventy years ago. Then a whole generation went by and the second world war came along and very same combat condition was called battle fatigue. Four syllables now. Takes a little longer to say. Doesn't seem to hurt as much. Fatigue is a nicer word than shock. Shell shock! Battle fatigue. Then we had the war in Korea, 1950. Madison avenue was riding high by that time, and the very same combat condition was called operational exhaustion. Hey, were up to eight syllables now! And the humanity has been squeezed completely out of the phrase. It's totally sterile now. Operational exhaustion. Sounds like something that might happen to your car. Then of course, came the war in Viet Nam, which has only been over for about sixteen or seventeen years, and thanks to the lies and deceits surrounding that war, I guess it's no surprise that the very same condition was called post-traumatic stress disorder. Still eight syllables, but we've added a hyphen! And the pain is completely buried under jargon. Post-traumatic stress disorder. I'll bet you if we'd of still been calling it shell shock, some of those Viet Nam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time. I'll betcha. I'll betcha.

But. But, it didn't happen, and one of the reasons. One of the reasons is because we were using that soft language. That language that takes the life out of life. And it is a function of time. It does keep getting worse. I'll give you another example. Sometime during my life. Sometime during my life, toilet paper became bathroom tissue. I wasn't notified of this. No one asked me if I agreed with it. It just happened. Toilet paper became bathroom tissue. Sneakers became running shoes. False teeth became dental appliances. Medicine became medication. Information became directory assistance. The dump became the landfill. Car crashes became automobile accidents. Partly cloudy bacame partly sunny. Motels became motor lodges. House trailers became mobile homes. Used cars became previously owned transportation. Room service became guest-room dining. And constipation became occasional irregularity. When I was a little kid, if I got sick they wanted me to go to the hospital and see a doctor. Now they want me to go to a health maintenance organization...or a wellness center to consult a healthcare delivery professional. Poor people used to live in slums. Now the economically disadvantaged occupy substandard housing in the inner cities. And they're broke! They're broke! They don't have a negative cash-flow position. They're fucking broke! Cause a lot of them were fired. You know, fired. management wanted to curtail redundancies in the human resources area, so many people are no longer viable members of the workforce.

Smug, greedy, well-fed white people have invented a language to conceal their sins. It's as simple as that. The CIA doesn't kill anybody anymore, they neutralize people...or they depopulate the area. The government doesn't lie, it engages in disinformation. The pentagon actually measures nuclear radiation in something they call sunshine units. Israeli murderers are called commandos. Arab commandos are called terrorists. Contra killers are called freedom fighters. Well, if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that part of it to us, do they? Never mention that part of it.

And...and some of this stuff is just silly, we all know that, like on the airlines, they say want to pre- board. Well, what the hell is pre-board, what does that mean? To get on before you get on? They say they're going to pre-board those passengers in need of special assistance. Cripples! Simple honest direct language. There is no shame attached to the word cripple that I can find in any dictionary. No shame attached to it, in fact it's a word used in bible translations. Jesus healed the cripples. Doesn't take seven words to describe that condition. But we don't have any cripples in this country anymore. We have The physically challenged. Is that a grotesque enough evasion for you? How about differently abled. I've heard them called that. Differently abled! You can't even call these people handicapped anymore. They'll say, "We're not handicapped. We're handicapable!" These poor people have been bullshitted by the system into believing that if you change the name of the condition, somehow you'll change the condition. Well, hey cousin, ppsssspptttttt. Doesn't happen. Doesn't happen.

We have no more deaf people in this country, hearing impaired. No ones blind anymore, partially sighted or visually impaired. We have no more stupid people. Everyone has a learning disorder...or he's minimally exceptional. How would you like to be told that about your child? "He's minimally exceptional." "Oohh, thank god for that." Psychologists actually have started calling ugly people, those with severe appearance deficits. It's getting so bad, that any day now I expect to hear a rape victim referred to as an unwilling sperm recipient.

And we have no more old people in this country. No more old people. We shipped them all away, and we brought in these senior citizens. Isn't that a typically American twentieth century phrase? Bloodless, lifeless, no pulse in one of them. A senior citizen. But I've accepted that one, I've come to terms with it. I know it's to stay. We'll never get rid of it. That's what they're going to be called, so I'll relax on that, but the one I do resist. The one I keep resisting is when they look at an old guy and they'll say, "Look at him Dan! He's ninety years young." Imagine the fear of aging that reveals. To not even be able to use the word "old" to describe somebody. To have to use an antonym. And fear of aging is natural. It's universal. Isn't it? We all have that. No one wants to get old. No one wants to die, but we do! So we bullshit ourselves. I started bullshitting myself when I got to my forties. As soon as I got into my forties I'd look in the mirror and I'd say, "well, I...I guess I'm getting...older." Older sounds a little better than old doesn't it? Sounds like it might even last a little longer. Bullshit, I'm getting old! And it's okay, because thanks to our fear of death in this country, I won't have to die...I'll pass away. Or I'll expire like a magazine subscription. If it happens in the hospital, they'll call it a terminal episode. The insurance company will refer to it as negative patient-care outcome. And if it's the result of malpractice, they'll say it was a therapeutic misadventure. I'm telling you, some of this language makes me want to vomit. Well, maybe not vomit. Makes me want to engage in an involuntary personal protein spill.

Me too, George.  Me, too.





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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 10:13 PM | |

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Letters of the Alphabet that Affect Me

I first saw this cartoon a few years ago when I was thin and I thought it was funny.

Of course, I didn't know then that it wasn't a cartoon at all, but an actual documented photo of evil recurring entities, plotting to destroy the self-esteem of a lady who looks a lot like me and who is really very nice unless you piss her off.

I gave in to them then out of pain and frustration and nasty medications that invited these entities to take up residence without even feeding them, but this time? I'm going to win.

Example: There were doughnuts in the lounge today at the college, but I didn't touch them.

Of course, I am not all that fond of doughnuts but even so.

Thank goodness there wasn't a big bowl of M&M's in the lounge. I'd be defeated instantly.

Plain or peanut: I'm not particular in my obsession for them.

Obsession, I'm telling you.

It's not my fault. I should be getting government money, in fact. It's a disability.

I have OCM&MD.*

I'd stop if I could. Don't let them near me. It's not my fault. Pay me.

*Obsessive/Compulsive M&M Disorder

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 10:25 PM | |

American Idols: Real Ones

Click on over to peruse the latest edition of The Carnival of Education.  It's only our nation's children, and it's merely how our schools are shaping them and aiming them towards the future.  The future wherein they will be choosing your nursing home and removing sections of your colon.  How many of you want a NCLB-detainee doing that?  Not me.  I want someone who passed the test the first time, doing that.  Keep current; we owe it to our kids.
If there are any mistakes in this posts, it isn't my fault.  My eyes are still a little moist, and it's all Sigmund, Carl, and Alfred's fault.  And Wes's fault.  Not mine.
These two are poles apart in political theory and opinion, but they are both highly intelligent, creative, talented, kind, loving men who are assets to the universe.  They are proof that there is hope for the human race.  They are. . . . peachy keen.  I love them.  I mean to say, I love them.  They made me cry and I love them.
Their poles-apart politics are well-thought-out, researched, and fraught with proofs and examples.  Neither uses the "it was good enough for my grandfather so it's good enough for me" argument, and neither expects us to, either.  In fact, neither even permits us to.  Why should they?  Intelligent people think for themselves; they don't argue by quoting someone else.
These two are probably the smartest people I've ever met.
They both expect us to be intelligent beings, so we are.  We are, because it's expected, and because we can.  They know we can, and that's why they expect it.
They don't mind if we disgree, even, as long as it's for intelligent REASONS, not just emotional quotations and the adult equivalent of 'because I said so.'
I feel smarter every time I go there.  So will you. 
So go there.  Daily.
Smart is good.  Nice is good.  Smart, kind, loving, talented, discerning, understanding, and educated are better.  Guess which Siggy and Wes are?
That's right.  Door number three. Standing together in their intellectual disagreements,  proud to be intelligent Americans, and refusing to budge an inch unless the argument is really, really good.
Now that's my kind of man.
(Sorry, girls, they're taken.)  <---just like John Lennon on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Thank you, dear Siggy and Wes. 
Looks like I'll be buying more Kleenex on payday. . . .
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 5:53 PM | |

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Quit shoving, you hogs

I think that if a classroom has so many students crowded into it that their elbows are touching and the teacher has no place to sit, that classroom is TOO crowded and somebody's got to go.
That somebody should not be the teacher.
P.S.  A sticker for identifying the title.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:03 PM | |

Monday, August 28, 2006

Beautiful plumage. . . . .

I admit: I often thought like this. I couldn't wait 'til I could go places without carrying half a department store with me. I watched in wonder as people bought movie tickets, conversed in restaurants, shopped for their own clothes and were able to actually try them on first, had nothing but groceries in their carts, opened the car door and just got in, and slept late on weekends and holidays.

Now I can do all of those things any time I want, as long as they don't cost any money. Do I miss having small children and babies? I sure do. Do I envy young parents when I see them in the mall, hobbled by bags full of Pampers and strollers the size of a Hummer and costing more than the rent on our first house? Actually, yes. And since I do get to go about unencumbered, stay up late, and sleep in on occasion, do I really enjoy those things as much as I thought I would?

Darn right.

What did you all THINK I was going to say? Really? Hahahahahahahaha. . . . .

Don't worry, exhausted friends. Your time will come, and when it does, you'll love it even while you're mourning a lifestyle lost forever.

If you think back hard enough you might remember mourning a lifestyle lost temporarily when you brought that first bundle home from the hospital. . . . .

Well, eventually it comes back, even if your first youth doesn't, and if you play your cards right and change the locks, you'll enter yet another phase of parenthood that they don't tell you about in those baby books you've memorized: enjoying your children when they grow up and move out, and learning how to disguise a wicked grin of satisfaction with a mature smile of understanding.

I'm still working on the 'mature' part.

I'm also still working on the 'I don't miss them, not really, because they've got their own lives to live now and I'm proud of the people they've grown into and I wouldn't call them back even if I could" thing. Because, you know, there are days when I'd turn them back into tiny little children in a whipstitch.

There are also days when, after staying up till sunrise and getting up at 2:00 p.m., that I think back and laugh out loud.

Anyhoo, if you need a little break, bring them on over. I'll put you in the guest room and when your kids wake up at dawn, just give them a little shove out into the hall and I'll take it from there. You just turn over and go back to sleep.

Yes, for you, I'll get up at dawn and take care of your babies while you get some sleep. I still have cute toddler dishes and little spoons and small cups (shut up) but I won't promise not to teach your child the Lumberjack Song and the Dead Parrot sketch and the wedding scene from 'The Princess Bride.'

I taught my own, after all. And they're 'all right.' Even though their childhood is 'no more.'

It's now a 'dweam wifin a dweam.' Sigh.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:32 PM | |

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Second star to the right, and straight on 'till morning

When I was in the third grade, I read "Peter Pan." It's not all the sugar-coated cuteness Disney would have you believe, my friends. It's a wonderful and fascinating and intimate look into the brain and psyche of children of various ages AND their parents. It's accurate and hilarious and downright scary.

It's full of analogies and symbols and beautiful mind-art that permits us to share the fantasies of other people.

It's a peek into how different good and evil are from one another, and how distressingly alike they can sometimes be, and how one will often present itself as the other.

Captain Hook stresses good form and lovely manners and the fine points of etiquette even while murdering children.

The mermaids are beautiful and their singing is lovely and they are mean, vicious bitches who try to kill Wendy.

The Indians are presented in what would, nowadays, be considered a disgracefully stereotypical way, but unlike many supposedly intelligent adults in these modern times, children still have a sense of the context of the times and can see through it to what it was meant to be.

I do not pretend to be a master of Pan interpretation, but I know what I see when I see it myself. I would never presume, unlike many book censors, to say ANYTHING about a book that I had not personally read. (Censors are Satan.)

I bring all of this up to introduce my most vivid memory of this book, in third grade, in Mrs. Emery's class. I had to sit by Tommy, who teased unmercifully and who was only inspired further by the usual shrugs and exasperated sighs that I knew how to defend myself with.

Then, inspiration hit me. Tinker Bell, who is a dirty uneducated uncultured servant-fairy and really quite cruel, had a saying she used whenever she was angry with Peter Pan. I felt sure I could use this statement on Tommy with success, so I tried it out.

"You silly ass."

He ratted on me to the teacher, and she reamed me out but good, in her gentle concerned way, reducing me to tears with but a few words.

I had no idea what I'd done. I had NO IDEA what I'd said that was so horrible that my teacher whom I loved and adored took me out in the hall and told me how disappointed she was in me and that my parents would have to be notified and that she would have to think about my punishment, as no child had ever done what I had done in her room before.

But what was it that I had done? Was quoting Tinker Bell a crime? And if so, why?

My parents did not curse or call names in our home and I had seen the word 'ass' only in its context as an animal, one of many at the manger when Our Lord was born. Was there something bad about the ass, too? Should it not have been there with the ox and the lamb? Was it a bad animal, and was that why Tinker Bell used its name when she was angry?

Mrs. Emery would not explain. She just kept saying that I knew perfectly well what I had done and since I had chosen to do it, I would have to pay for it.

Whatever she did to me later couldn't possibly be worse than what she was doing to me right then. I didn't know what I'd done. I had quoted Tinker Bell. From "Peter Pan." When Tinker Bell said it in the book, nothing terrible happened. It was her opinion at that moment of whoever was annoying or upsetting her. It seemed to work in the book.

It sure didn't work in third grade, though.

Of course, I knew, even at the time, that because Tinker Bell was low-class, dirty, unschooled, and that even the other fairies looked down on her for her crudeness, some of what she did and said wasn't quite what nice fairies or little girls would have done or said, but I still thought that if it were in a book it couldn't be wrong.

Tommy, you silly ass, why did you have to bother me so that I felt it was necessary to use Tinker Bell against you? If you had just behaved yourself, as I was trying to do, it never would have happened.

But the real silly ass here is Mrs. Emery. For one thing, she was an elementary teacher, a teacher of small children, a college graduate, but she did not recognize the quote even though it was from a famous novel and had been made into a children's movie, and for another, she did not believe a good little girl who tried to explain to her the quotation's source and why it had been used.

All she heard was that a student in HER ROOM had used the word "ass."

When I went home that day, in tears and in a cold dread of what my non-bad-word-using parents would say, I got a surprise.

Dad laughed until he was almost sick, and Mom, while she didn't laugh and I suspect didn't quite understand why Dad was laughing, she at least took my side. Together, they explained that even teachers didn't always read things they really should keep up on if they were going to teach children who read them, and that some children, like annoying Tommy, didn't know any other way to get someone's attention except by pestering them.

I decided on that day that people who pestered for attention weren't worth bothering with, and that if I were ever a teacher, I would stay up nights if that's what it took to keep up with what my students were reading.

Two of the few resolutions I have managed to keep.

Surprisingly, Mrs. Emery remains one of my favorite teachers. I think maybe that learning to 'see through her' so early in the year gave me the ability to understand her a little better. (She was well-meaning but clueless, and it's really not right when a child can figure that out) Certainly it gave me the courage to stand up for myself. It's sad, though, when an eight-year-old child feels maternal and protective toward an adult who is supposed to be in charge. All that year (well, until she got pregnant and was forced to quit because if we kids had seen her looking pregnant we would have known for sure that she'd had sex, not that I would have known what that meant either never having even heard of that word yet) I stayed after school and helped her clean the board, clap erasers (I bet some of you don't know what that means!) and put her files in alphabetical order because (gasp) some of the dimwits in that class didn't even know how to do that and it was supposed to be done at the end of each day and most of the kids would rather just leave their stuff in a mess for the teacher to put to rights so I just did it for her.

She also used to give me a dollar and send me across the VERY BUSY STREET to the gas station for a carton of Big Red pop twice a week. I loved doing that, especially; my parents never let me go inside when they stopped there for gas because it was 'rough.' I didn't know what they meant by that, but I did know that most of those men in there had read "Peter Pan" because they talked about my teacher's ass all the time.

If all you know about 'Peter Pan' is that insipid Disney movie, please check out the book. It's NOT just for children. It's awesome.

Watch out for the bad language, though. That horny slut Tinker Bell will do or say anything to get Peter Pan in her clutches. This includes murdering Wendy.

Sadly, it also forced me to learn a very important lesson: a college degree doesn't make someone a teacher.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:56 PM | |

Saturday, August 26, 2006

I used to jump on the furniture when I was younger but they don't make sofas like they used to. . . .

I was hanging out over on Peaches' blog and decided to click on over to the quiz she'd linked to.  Peaches did well so I figured I would, too.
Um. . . .
Okay, I really ought to be humiliated now, because on this quiz of recent current events, I only got two correct.  One was about Pluto and the other was about. . . . .Tom Cruise, whom I despise.  This is disgraceful.  Disgraceful.  An intelligent third grader would have scored higher than I did.
I know I don't watch any TV, or read the newspaper, or listen to the radio, and I know I use Google not only because it's fast and reliable and puts out better than the others but also because it doesn't annoy me with, um, news and stuff, but honestly, to only get two answers right on that whole quiz?  I should be ashamed of myself, and I am.  I should be thoroughly spanked.  Any takers?
It also really bothers me that I know that much about Tom Cruise.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:50 PM | |

Friday, August 25, 2006

Moody moody moody (not Alastair) Moody

I'm in one of those moods where I really don't care about much and I could say anything that pops into my head at any moment in time. It's dangerous, actually. It's almost as though I've been given truth serum and spent the afternoon downing jello shots, and now I'm just waiting for someone to email me with some personal questions which I will probably answer.

Danger, Will Robinson, Danger.

Ah, "Lost in Space," the favorite tv show of my childhood. Well, that and George Reeve's "Superman."

In real life I'm sort of built along the lines of the Robot these days, although I hope to be looking more like my childhood icon/idol Judy Robinson before next year's BlogHer. . . . I have my reasons.

I should probably just go to bed before I do something. . . .


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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 8:38 PM | |

Don't mess with Hades.

I don't care what 'they' are saying. Pluto is a planet. Even if it doesn't fit the legal scientific description, it's already been designated a planet and should be grandfathered in.

Stripping Pluto of its planet status is one of the stupidest pieces of action I've heard in a long time.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 2:00 AM | |

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Fire burn and cauldron bubble. That one witch is rambling again.

I hate to admit this, but this was my attitude about my kids' grades, kind of. . . .

Factor in individuality, talent, brains, work habits, etc, and you can't help but have a set of expectations, and expectations should be met.

I know that there are exceptions to this and most other things, but I honestly believe that every kid should do his/her best, because NOT to do so just isn't good enough, no-allowance-today-boy.

Of course, I also believe that a good parent knows what's going on in his/her kids' classrooms, too. That is, we should be aware that our kids, this grading period, are studying about the Revolutionary War, reading "The Giver," writing little newspapers about things that happened in 1774, making recipe books with directions for preparing foods that the Founding Fathers (and Mothers) might have eaten, researching which Nation was already here and where they were forced to relocate and how do you feel about that, studying 50 words and their unique rules and exceptions to those rules, learning all about Peer Gynt and how to at least hum a few of the more popular melodies, and how to deal with fractions in everyday life (see recipe book assignment, above.)

And now I wish I were back in the fourth grade, doing just such things. Sigh.

Of course, nowadays there isn't much time for creative assignments because the teachers are forced to use the time they might have utilized for such, to review and prepare for the almighty standardized test.

Personally? I believe that tests are sometimes necessary and occasionally important, but I also believe that the questions should pertain to "things every fourth-grader should know based on the available books and the creativity of the teachers," not "things that are being pounded into every fourth-grader's head starting three weeks before the Test because some old guys in the State Department who were influenced by a book salesman said so." In other words, give each child a test based on standard fourth-grade curriculum. It would better benefit the child, and it would also better tell which children were at grade level, not that grade level is even the real goal.

As a child, I was always six or seven grade levels above the rest in anything regarding reading, writing, spelling, grammar, history, etc, but down in the depths of second grade remediation in math.

Guess what. I didn't care then and I don't care now.

In ten years, whatever your child scores on that test won't mean anything, either.

What are those tests, anyway? They are tests put together by people who haven't been in a classroom for years, if ever. It's a test that is embraced by textbook publishers and salesmen, in hopes that the inevitable low scores will inspire schools to purchase THEIR books, because the new books all have individual State Standards written right in them and golly gee whiz, if the school buys OUR books, the students will do much better on those tests.

Eh, I'm rambling again. I really despise a school system that puts such emphasis on one test score that it ignores or neglects the really important part of a child's education, to wit, the learning of things that will enable the child to better take care of himself/herself and others as an adult, to appreciate and love the writings and pictures and history of those who came before, to understand and appreciate music and art, and to be a part of a little community in which every child has an important role. Our students these days don't understand how one vote can make or break an entire government. Some students don't even know anyone who votes.

For some of our students, the teachers are the only adults they know who work for a living.

Many homeschoolers are turning out children with superior educations and abilities, and many are simply teaching their children that isolation from 'other' people is better and that it's nobody's business if you are fifteen and still don't want to try to learn to read yet but be careful because if you raise the curtains, big government will SEE what we're doing, or not doing, and try to interfere and make you LEARN to read so you can be JUST LIKE ALL THE OTHER CLONES.

Sometimes it seems like a losing battle, and yet, these are our children, the hope of our nation, and we have to keep trying.

After a certain age, I do not believe that blaming one's shortcomings on one's background or family is a viable argument. Ultimately, each person must stand on his/her own feet and walk out into the sunshine and shadow of life and do it all alone. We must not send our children out there unprepared, and yet, what do we do when the families support their children in their desire to NOT work at it?

I keep saying this but here it is again: There are certain skills that intelligent persons simply must have, at certain ages. When one becomes a self-sustaining adult, (which status of course many 'adults' never attain because their families and they themselves allowed them to go through school without doing or learning anything!!!) (My SELF ESTEEM!!!!!!) a decent person will be armed with skills, marketable skills, with which to earn one's own living.

To allow any person to leave any kind of school without these skills is a crime. And a high school diploma given to any person without these skills is a joke.

If your child is 27 and still isn't interested in learning to read and is still playing video games all day and still hasn't learned to write and doesn't know how to spell or reason. . . . well, I guess you all know my opinion of your child. And of you. And yes, it does become my business after a certain point because my tax dollars will be supporting your bum kid.

I worry about us as a society, I really do.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:42 PM | |

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Tributes and Carnivals and Miracles, Oh My

I'm doing this. How about we ALL do it?

The new Carnival of Education is up. How about we all click here and go catch up on all the educational doings that so drastically affect our children's lives?

My new classes? So far, so good. My first impression is that I have lucked into six classes of lovely people. My youngest? 17. My oldest? 64.

On Monday afternoon, a lady handed me her assignment and said, with tears of pride in her eyes, "This is my first college class and this is my first piece of college work." She is in her early forties, and is taking classes while she's laid off from the factory job she's held since she was eighteen years old. She is worried that she's "not smart enough" to do it, but I am here to tell you that she most certainly IS smart enough. She will be a wonderful asset to the class.

Yesterday, a younger student asked, with a different sort of tears in her eyes, if she could wait inside the building until her ride drove up. She's being stalked by a man and is only just out of the hospital because last week, he caught up with her. She showed me her back and her neck. Her ride was late and she was frantic.

This young woman has also reinforced my belief in miracles.

All she did, really, was ask if she could use my cell phone to see why her ride was late.

I had turned my phone off because the battery was almost dead, and I told her that she could certainly try to use it but I wasn't sure there was enough power left to even turn the thing on. I also told her that cell phones didn't work inside the building and she'd probably have to walk halfway across the parking lot to get a signal. I told her that she was welcome to give it a try but I doubted there was enough power left in the phone even if she COULD get a signal inside.

The miracle? She was able to get a signal INSIDE THE BUILDING where nobody had ever been able to get a cell phone signal before, and there was just enough battery power left in the phone for her to make contact with her ride.

She thanked me and left to stand in the lobby.

I tried to call Hub on that phone and it went dead in my hand.

I know that a cell phone isn't what most people would think of when they think of a miracle, but miracles in modern times will concern modern things.

I believe that the dead battery in that phone worked for this girl because she needed that phone to work for her. I believe that this girl was able to get a signal inside the building because she needed to get a signal inside the building.

These two small things gave her security and reassurance, and her tears dried up.

I held that cheap little phone in my hands and stared at it in wonder.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:10 PM | |

Monday, August 21, 2006

Children are made of tough gristle.

One day, when I was in grade school, I was traumatized at school. I don't mean upset, or picked on, or worried, or busy, or bullied. . . . . I mean traumatized.

The principal did it, but not because she was a mean woman who liked to frighten little children. My elementary principal was extremely strict but she was a fair and kind woman, who loved kids and expected good things (and excellent behavior) from all of them. She was actually an old family friend; she lived across the street from my grandmother, and Dad and all his siblings had grown up knowing her quite well. I was never afraid of her, as many kids were, because I knew that whatever she did, she did for the good of her children. Even a little child knows.

That's why what she did to my sister and me that day frightened me so.

It began at morning recess. Yes, back then, kids had two big recesses: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I think that's one reason kids back then were better behaved; we had a chance to stretch and run and shout and get it all out of our systems, twice a day, and it better enabled us to then sit still and comprehend lessons. But I digress.

It was recess, and I was playing. Something made me look over toward the school, and we all saw the principal walking towards us. She seldom came out on the playground, and she looked incongruous in her pale blue suit amidst all the laughing little kids.

She came straight to me.

She held out her hand and I took it, and she said, 'Come with me, dear.'

I went with her.

She took me to her office, and told me to sit down in a comfy chair. Then she walked away, shut the door carefully, and left me there for several hours with no explanation whatsoever. Occasionally she looked in and smiled and asked me how I was, and I told her I was fine, because I was, but I was confused and very puzzled and beginning to be frightened out of my mind because of, well, I didn't know why. I only knew that on ordinary days, principals didn't walk across the playground, take a little child by the hand, walk with her to the Office, seat her in a chair in a little room, and leave.

It was the not knowing that scared me so badly. I wasn't afraid of the principal; I liked her. But I was becoming terribly afraid of Something. Something bad. Something BIG and bad. What had I done?

When it was time for lunch, she told me to go and get my lunchbox from my classroom, but not to talk to anyone. I couldn't understand what I had done, but it must have been something so bad that other children couldn't talk to me any more.

When I got back to my little room in the Office, my sister was there, too, with her lunchbox in hand. She didn't know what we'd done, either, but she was crying out of fear and I was having a hard time not crying.

After lunch, the Principal walked us to the restroom and walked us back.

Around 2:30, the next-door-neighbor lady walked into our little 'prison' and told us she would take us home. There was a lot of whispering between the Principal and the Neighbor Lady, but still nobody told Sis or me what was happening, why we had been removed and cut off and left alone for hours and hours.

The Neighbor Lady wouldn't tell us on the ride home, either. We huddled together in the back seat of her car and worried about things no child should ever worry about.

When we got home, we walked into the house and sat on the couch, and waited. We waited for a long time.

When my parents finally walked through the door, my mother was crying and my father was comforting her. I remember hearing him say, "It's a damn shame." My parents didn't talk that way ordinarily so I knew something horrible had happened, and Sis and I still thought it was somehow us who had so upset the family.

Aunts and Uncles began coming by. People were whispering. Sis and I sat on, frightened beyond even having to go to the bathroom.

My toddler brother played with his toys as usual, and my newborn Tumorless Sister cried, and slept, and pooped in her diapers as usual.

Other Sis and I sat on.

Finally, just before dark, we were told what had happened.

My grandfather, Mom's father, was the street commissioner for the county. He had been inspecting an old house that was being demolished, and while he was standing just inside the front door of it, the whole thing came crashing down on him. He was crushed instantly. He was 59 years old.

He had been somewhat of a local celebrity, and this news was all over the radio and scuttlebutt. The Principal had been afraid that Sis and I would hear the news out on the playground, or from a child who had come to school late, and be traumatized by it. That's why she secluded us. Her intentions were good, but her procedure was horrific. Out of the goodness of her heart, she kept us from hearing about Papaw in a way that might have been terrible, but out of sheer ignorance, she frightened us even worse.

Mom and Dad never knew what she had done until years later, and they were absolutely horrified.

I learned later that the Neighbor Lady's husband had heard about the accident at work and had phoned his wife to tell her to go to our house and keep an eye on Mom because Mom didn't know yet.

The Neighbor Lady didn't tell Mom, either. She knew that the phone call would come soon and she meant to be there with Mom when it did. She also knew that Mom had a toddler and a new baby and would need someone to help her.

When the phone finally rang, the Neighbor Lady said: "Let me hold the baby while you answer the phone." She was afraid that Mom might, in her shock at hearing about her father, drop the baby. Mom handed Baby Tumorless to the Neighbor Lady and answered the phone.

A few minutes later, Dad came home from work, and he and Mom left the house to see about things. Neighbor Lady took Baby Tumorless and Toddler Bro home with her and left them with an older daughter, and came to get Sis and me at school.

I don't tell the blogosphere about this to cast aspersions upon the Principal. She handled it terribly, of course, but she followed her instinct to protect us at any cost. She truly believed she was doing the right thing.

However, it would have been far better for us to be told about the accident, although perhaps not the death, so we wouldn't have had those many hours of sitting alone in a little closed-off room in the Principal's office, wondering what we'd done wrong.

Children are a lot tougher than some people suppose. We could have 'taken' the truth, but we were very nearly destroyed by the silence.

I think about this incident fairly frequently, especially when I hear adults say that children should be shielded from hard things. And I maintain that children can 'take it' if it's presented properly. To shield a child too much is disrespectful to the child, and a huge disservice to the child. We want to keep our children safe, but we musn't do so at the risk of frightening the child with supposition and too much silence. Even weeping is healthier than pretending nothing is wrong.

I've thought about this incident even more frequently since September 11, 2001. The traumas of that day were withheld from the students in my school, and the 'not knowing' was far worse than the 'knowing' could ever be. I have posted about that on 9/11 more than once, and I will do so again when that date come around again.

As it very soon will.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 10:12 PM | |

Sunday, August 20, 2006

No Time For Addictions Now

Addicted.  Must.  Stop.  At.  Once.
I am so addicted to this game! 
And I really must stop, because tomorrow is the first day of the fall semester and I have to get up at 5:30.
This is always a difficult transition, because that's about when I go to bed when I'm on vacation. 
Wish me luck, for I have a VERY full load and when there's a stack of almost a hundred two-page essays every week, that's gonna take a chunk out of my word-game-addiction-time.
Holy cow, is it almost ten already?
'Night, all.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:46 PM | |

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey.

"Great Scott!"

I watched one of my favorite cult films last night. I hadn't seen it in a long time, but last night? It was time again. It may come as a bit of a surprise to some of you, or maybe not, that when I was younger, I not only used to go to the midnight showing of this film at least once a month, but also that I went as the Domestic. I went with a deck of cards, a newspaper, a water gun, a baggie of rice, a party hat, a garter, and a noisemaker. I owned fishnet stockings. I still know every song by heart. I used to do the Time Warp. Years later, I used to teach my study hall students how to do the time warp.

"Hot patootie, bless my soul! I really love that rock n' roll!"

It's a dreadful movie, really. Silly, soft-pornish, ridiculous, terrible acting, stilted dancing, camp at its best worst. . . . And yet, for some reason, it's endeared itself to many people in spite of it all. I still love it.

"It's not easy having a good time! Even smiling makes my face ache!"

Susan Sarandon. Barry Bostwick. Tim Curry (when he was HOT) (He was still kind of hot in that horrid movie version of "Annie") (I loathe movie versions of good stage musicals; they always leave out the best songs and add stupid songs and even change the plotline). Richard O'Brien (who wrote it in the first place) (In "Ever After," he was the evil man who purchased Drew Barrymore from Anjelica Huston). Patricia Quinn. Nell Campbell. MEAT LOAF (the man can sing, people.) The two old guys. All those ridiculous dancers. Peter Hinwood, who played Rocky, and who, they say, is so mortified by his participation in this movie that he can't even talk about it.

"If only we were amongst friends... or sane persons!"

In context, the whole thing is so absurd it's, well, absurd. Taken out of context, some of the music is really good. This song, most of which was deleted from both the American and the British versions of the film, still has the power to make me pensive.

I've done a lot, God knows I've tried
To find the truth, I've even lied
But all I know is down inside
I'm bleeding.

And Super Heroes come to feast
To taste the flesh not yet deceased
And all I know is still the beast
is feeding.

And crawling on the planet's face
Some insects called the human race
Lost in time, and lost in space
And meaning.

This is not a movie for children; perish the thought. But it's a fun romp for adults. Learn to participate; it's fun. Don't forget the party hats.

Of course, if you don't have time to watch an entire movie, you can always check out the bunnies.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:47 PM | |

Friday, August 18, 2006

Hello Kitty and Diet Coke: A Natural Mathematical Progression

Personally, I don't see anything strange about a grown man eating Hello Kitty Meow-Berry Pop-Tarts for breakfast.

Besides, they were on sale at Marsh for $1.29. The big-boy Pop-Tarts were almost three bucks.

That's $1.71, math majors, and $1.71 is almost two bucks, and two bucks is two diet Cokes from the machine in the teacher's lounge at the college.

Two Diet Cokes. Helloooooo, Kitty.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 8:07 PM | |

More Mean Rants. Be Warned. She's MEAN.

Hub and I had supper at the Pizzaria tonight. We hadn't been there for a long time, and it's one of our favorite places, and we were really looking forward to it. We tried to have a conversation but the family across the room pretty much drowned out anything else. Thanks a lot, loud people. We finally just gave up trying to talk.

P.S. Your grandson was so cute climbing all over the booth behind you, and dancing in the middle of the room. And wasn't it nice of him to yell like that about the cheese for almost an hour; I was afraid the people in the next county over might not realize how funky pizza cheese is when it stretches like that. And when your pre-teen granddaughter joined in, and was equally loud, well, everyone in the restaurant was glad when they decided to WAIT FOR YOU OUTSIDE.

Don't you think maybe ten and thirteen are a little old to be doing that in public, though? At least, that loudly?

The funny thing was, you were all even louder after the kids went out. Laughing like hyenas, you all were. How nice that you were having such a good time. at the expense of everyone else in the restaurant

I thought at first that some of you might have been deaf hearing impaired.

No matter what the reason for your grandson's behavior, when it started disturbing everyone else, you should have packed him up and finished your pizza at home.

And no, as a matter of fact, you DON'T have a right to a night out if your child is going to ruin the night out for a lot of other people. Keep your children contained within your area, and don't allow them to climb all over things that do not belong to you or to them, especially when the restaurant is smallish and crowded. What if your kids had bumped a waiter and spilled something hot on him or on themselves? I bet you would have paid attention then, and probably sued the place. Litigious people tend to be unreasonable like that.

Yes, I'm really, really mean about this sort of thing. It's entirely out of hand these days.

There are standards of public behavior that everyone has an obligation to rise up to. Babies and toddlers who are too young to be accountable are one thing, but ten and thirteen-year-olds?

I think not.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 2:49 AM | |

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Everybody come and have a look.

The Carnival of Education is up, over on the Education Wonks' blog. I always click on the Carnival's every link, and this week is no different.

I did find an entry that brought back many memories: memories which now are funny but which were at the time truly excruciating moments in my life. Check out Median Sib's post.

Last Monday when I had my wisdom tooth removed, the nurse who assisted the surgeon was a former student. She was smart, competent, gentle, very good at her job, and had been a nurse for many years. To me, however, she was a thirteen-year-old girl who bawled uncontrollably at every sad story or film, had a hard time telling the difference between fantasy and reality, and she was putting her fingers in my mouth.

Because of the history of one of my sisters, I get a mammogram every year. Not as much fun as a candygram, but the end results are more useful. Both ladies who are in charge of the mammograms in one of our two-giant-hospitals-in-spite-of-the-fact-that-it's-just-a-small-town are former students. One of them couldn't spell 'cat' on the best day of her life, and the other was playing touchie-feelie with the little boys whenever my back was turned. Both of them put their fingers on my, um, mammogramable items.

I see former students all over the place. Usually I love it. I taught middle school for 26 years and I can close my eyes and see them all, in my classroom, in their assigned seats, looking just as they looked when they were twelve, and thirteen, and fourteen.

I think that's why it's so discombobulating when I am thrust into a position wherein THEY are in charge of ME.

One night I was walking down the stone steps of the school and I slipped on a wet leaf and went crashing all the way to the pavement. Two of my little boys carried me to the gym, like Miss Dove on her way to the Hospital, and deposited me in my ticket-selling chair. After the basketball game was over, I went to the emergency room and discovered that my ankle was broken. Was that dedication? I don't know. I only knew that if I had left early, there would have been no one to take care of things, money-wise, and a lot of kids would be disappointed. Whenever a former student takes care of me now, I get that same sensation of disorientation that I got, sitting on the crossed arms of those two sweet boys, all those years ago.

I think the worst was just after Belle was born, and I was in my hospital bed awaiting whatever indignity was next on the list. I didn't have to wait very long.

Four little girls young women came into my room, called me by my maiden name, and struck up a conversation. We laughed over the fun times they'd had in my study hall only a few years before, and we laughed over the fun time I'd had putting them in detention from time to time because of that very thing. All of us were in stitches. And that was very appropriate, because after we'd all calmed down, they told me they had come to check my stitches.

I'm not going to tell you what they put their fingers on.

(Blogger hasn't let me post any pictures for several days now; so to get the general idea, click HERE.)

Definitely, so far, that one was the worst.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:04 PM | |

I Want Pictures.

I do love a personal message. You know, like this one:
"Stoner, cummer this stiffining  long and far high, single tab will knok you and partning over bedtope, underside dwelers will protest thro celing with sticking brome; most for sure will want u-tube for site.  Will work for petting over humangs plus house and farmside mermals.  You will pay ot not much cashes for genrwing miracls of pasions.  You also and oters but you with tab over all, for long long and mercifuly hard thirt leg of the donger."
I'd correct it and send it back, but I don't want him to know I understood it.  At least, I think I understand it. 
This also bothers me. 
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 2:02 AM | |

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

She's A Little Girl By Day, But At Night She Steals Away. . . .

Blogger won't let me post a picture tonight, so I linked to it. It's not the same, but it will have to do.

I don't ordinarily do these things, but this one looked interesting. Please try not to laugh when you realize that the one being described is snarky ol' me. I would never have supposed I'd be an Angel, because I kind of identified with the Faeries. Don't tell, but when I was a child, I searched for faeries everywhere I went. I knew they were "at the bottom of the garden" because the poem told me so, but I also looked for them in places I would have lingered had I been a faerie. You know, like. . . . inside the shoes? Inside the vases? On the other side of the mirrors? In the birds' nests? Peeking out among the columbines? Riding on the fireflies? Hanging onto dandelion clocks, blowing in the wind and bearing wishes?

Now you're laughing. Oh well. I'm laughing too, and it makes me sad, because I really believed that someday, if I could just be there at the right moment, I would see one.

Um, I still kind of believe it.

You scored as Angel. Angel: Angels are the guardians of all things, from the smallest ant to the tallest tree. They give inspiration, love, hope, and positive emotion. They live among humans without being seen. They are the good in all things, and if you feel alone, don't fear. They are always watching. Often times they merely stand by, whispering into the ears of those who feel lost. They would love nothing more then to reveal themselves, but in today's society, this would bring havoc and many unneeded questions. Give thanks to all things beautiful, for you are an Angel.













What Mythological Creature are you? (Cool Pics!)
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 8:35 PM | |

The Whole Cob of Corn Wouldn't Have Fit In The Lunchbox

My daughter is mad at me right now, but when I try to be mad at her right back, I can't. Whenever I think of her at all, it's just a blur of wonder that this fantastic and beautiful and interesting person is MY daughter, and that all the other mothers in the world are jealous of me because she's mine and not theirs.

She was talking in complete sentences before she was a year old(as many geniuses often do) (brag). In this picture, she had just interrupted my daily singing of "Wash the babeeeeee" (sung to the tune of "Kill the Wabbit") to tell me that she was a baby dish.

"Why are you a baby dish?" I asked her.

"I'm in the dish sink," she replied, and gave me that look she still gives me when I ask a stupid question.

"Would Daddy be a Big Dish if he took a bath in the sink?" I have a real talent for asking stupid questions.

She had a giggle-fit at that, looked at me with something like pity in her eyes, and said "Daddy not fit in this sink."

Belle has always loved to be center-stage. When she was a little girl, she was so waif-thin that total strangers were concerned and gave me advice on the streets. Relatives were always trying to trick her into eating, but she outsmarted them all. She ate when SHE wanted to eat, and not because of any arbitrary absurdity like 'lunchtime' or 'family reunion.' We celebrated each bite she took like the Fourth of July.

That is probably why she figured the whole universe would be interested in her eating habits. One Sunday evening, when she was about five years old, the entire extended family went to church to see and hear her sing in the Bible School choir. Before the last note had stopped resonating, she stepped forward and announced to the congregation that "I ate a whole cob of corn!" Then she curtsied, stepped back into the choir, and marched off the stage with them, leaving a church full of people who were stifling giggles most unsuccessfully.

Her hair is red now, like her brother's, but when she was a child, she was a curly-haired Goldilocks. I am not all that good with hair, euphemistically speaking, and she usually wore a curly ponytail to school. I considered it fancy if she had a ribbon around it. Sometimes I gave her two ponytails, but I was also afflicted with the total inability to make a straight part, so from the back she often appeared to be leaning to one side, or zig-zagging dizzily. She learned early on that if she wanted cool hair, she would have to learn to do it herself, and she did.

I am crazy about her.

I really miss shopping for school supplies, particularly for the all-important lunchbox. I miss packing two lunches every morning. Neither of my children cared for sandwiches so finding a fairly nutritious lunch was something of an adventure. It's a good thing there were no peanut butter rules in their school, or Belle would have eaten nothing all day long. (Don't get me started on those peanut butter rules; it's unfair to forbid all children from bringing a certain food just because one child has allergies and can't keep his fingers away from other children's lunches.) (And yes, I understand about the breathing it thing, too. Let the allergic kids eat somewhere else.) (Why no, I don't mind saying that in the least. Other mothers didn't mind asking my child to give up her lunch entirely, did they?) Peanut butter on crackers, because she didn't eat sandwiches. Sliced dill pickles. Barbecue potato chips. Fruit, or fruit rollup. Carrot sticks.

Today is the first day of school here. Maybe that's why I'm waxing nostalgic about lunchboxes and carrot sticks. Or, in Zappa's lunch, a can of tuna, red-hot cheese stix, an apple, and a miniature pizza, baked and wrapped in foil to keep it warm. That works, by the way.

Not the typical lunches for either of them, I know. My kids were never typical. But I seldom made them eat the school lunch. For one thing, those lunches are TERRIBLE, and for another, I didn't have the money.

Mainly, I figured, and still figure, that if anyone doesn't like what the school cafeteria is serving, that person should bring his/her lunch from home. And if someone is getting their lunch for free, that person should say 'thank you' and shut the hell up.

Weird lunches, weird kids, weird mom. Yeah, whatever. I packed what my kids would eat, and I tried to balance it out a little bit with nutritional goodness. One of my degrees is in human nutrition, but I obviously never used it much. Heh.

Speaking of which, the ice cream was delicious. I say 'was' because its existence is in the past tense now.

And so it officially begins.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:33 PM | |


If you are a bibliophile like me, please click HERE and read the absolutely beautiful words that my precious and wonderful friend Michele has posted tonight.  She always gets it exactly right.  Even if you are not a prolific reader and lover of books, click anyway.  What she has written should be posted in every school and library and place of business in the world.
Michele is not easily summed up with mere words, but if I had to try, I think those words might be:  elegance, kindness, grace, and intelligence.  Perhaps I should add 'humility,' too, because I don't think Michele has any idea of how important she is to all of us who read her blog regularly.
All of her posts are good, but her summation of her love of books has hit me right in the heart, and my heart is all the better for reading it.
Thank you, dear Michele.  Among your many, many gifts is the ability to not only get it right every time, but to get it right in such a way that all of us who read your blog come away a little wiser, and with the feeling that we have been privileged to share a little bit of YOUR heart.
Go quickly, dear readers, and read this post.  And while you are there, read some more posts.  Then put Michele on your blogroll, if you have not already done so, and read her daily.
It will make you a better person.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:53 AM | |

Monday, August 14, 2006

Less Wisdom, Less Me.

I'm back from the oral surgeon. It wasn't as bad as I remembered; I'd gotten two wisdom teeth pulled back in college and it was gross, but this time? Not so much. This oral surgeon was fantastic. He was funny and friendly and he did it in less than five minutes. (oh, hush, I'm not talking about THAT.) His assistant was a former student, and that was a little weird but she was a lovely girl and I trusted her completely. With anything 'dental,' the anticipation is always worse than the reality. It's not like Christmas, where the anticipation is the best part.

My face still feels like a beach ball and I'm starting to feel a twinge, but other than that, and the fact that I can't eat anything for 24 hours, I'm fine.

I think it's a good time to go on a diet.

There, I've said it in public so now I HAVE to do it.

I'm going to BlogHer next year in Chicago, and no way do I want any of those people I admire so much to see me as I look right now. Heck, I don't even like to see me looking like this.

Therefore, consider the diet begun. I'd tell you my goal but then you'd know how huge I actually am, and some things are best left unknown.

I know I can do it; I've done it before. And I'm going to do it again.

No food today or tonight. And tomorrow, as soon as I finish off the caramel-chocolate-pecan ice cream hidden in the freezer I begin my new regime. Expect some crankiness at first.

Heh, like you've never seen THAT before.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 5:19 PM | |

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Lovenox: The Reality Show

"The Irascible Professor" is one of my favorite reads 'most any time, but this week? Guess who's there!!? Seriously, this website is awesome, and the commentary by its webmaster, Dr. Shapiro, is always enlightening.

My kids came down today to do their laundry and eat all our food visit their beloved parents. Hub and I had gone to Wendy's for supper and then on to (okay, so I'm not perfect after all. . . .) WalMart. More about that later.

So, we came home to find the kids there waiting for us. While the clothes swished, I fed them and gave them each half of my Vegas winnings. Sigh. Easy come, easy go.

While we were visiting in the living room, Zappa suddenly stood up and asked me to cut his hair.

Now, my son's hair has been, at times, as long as his waist, or nearly so, and when he said this tonight, his hair was a little below his shoulders. I am not the best of hair-cutters; I cut my own only because I can't afford to pay someone else to do it. But I figured I could give him a trim, sure.

His hair is now approximately earlobe-length. Well, in places. It's not exactly even, but hopefully he won't inspect the back too closely.

Hair is not a big deal in this house. It's not worth arguing about, or forbidding, or forcing, or anything else that would involve the hair of someone who is not me. There are other issues that are far more important than hair. You didn't ask for my advice but here it is anyway: ignore the hair. Your kids will have some wild ideas, most of them just to (they hope) make you sing and dance and give them a show. Don't do it. Hair is just not worth it. Let them shave their heads, or dye their hair pink. Laugh at it. But please, don't ever FORBID it. Save the heavy stuff for heavier issues.

Heck, hair is so NOT a big deal here, that Hub even stopped growing any. And mine looks like Stevie Wonder took the pinking shears to it. We just don't care.

Wendy's? Never again. I don't think Wendy's has EVER gotten our order right the first time. Tonight, the cashier had a backache and just couldn't concentrate on anything except moaning and complaining about how hard she had to work. They left out half of our order. They got what they did give us, wrong. And Moaning Myrtle at the register there was moving about as fast as a snail. Sorry, Wendy's. As good as your food would be if you ever got our order right, we've given up on you.

Our WalMart is being replaced by a Super WalMart. Everything in the old WalMart is marked down to almost nothing. If you live in this area and need to buy school supplies or clothing for your children, get down there NOW. There's not much left but what's still there is really cheap right now.

I am not a big fan of WalMart, but here in this town there really isn't anyplace else to buy most things. Well, there's K-Mart, and I like K-Mart, but it doesn't have much more merchandise on a regular basis, than WalMart has left right before their closing.

Hub goes back to school on Monday. I go back the NEXT Monday. Before you think "Oh, cool, Jane has a week of vacation left!" I will also tell you that I have an appointment with an oral surgeon on Monday. Looking at the clock, I guess that's tomorrow.

For most people, this would be no big deal. For me, it kind of is.

I am a Coumadin patient. This means, that if any kind of procedure is done on me that might produce blood, there are things that must be done well in advance to prevent me from bleeding to death. These 'things' must begin several days before the actual slicing and dicing of me begins.

That is why I have to give myself a hypodermic of Lovenox twice a day. It's no fun, and I now have severe bruising all around my middle. I will have to say, though, that I've never seen so sharp a needle before. I'm glad, too, because if that needle had met with any kind of 'resistance' at all, I would probably panic and either pull it out and throw it across the room or push it in all the way and have to pull it out with the pliers.

Every time I see the word "Lovenox" on the box of hypodermic needles, I giggle and start thinking that it really should be the name of something else.

It's not serious; I'm just having a wisdom tooth pulled. But the oral surgeon wouldn't touch me without the Lovenox. Heh. Don't get me started.

Hub says that he will no longer grieve for Bambi's mother; the deer have devoured all of his tomatoes and most of the vines that bore them. If any of you would like to come over and hunt during the season, just ask us first and we'll probably say 'yes.' In fact, you can hunt here by just sitting on our deck and waiting for the herds to thunder past. We don't hunt, but we'll let you if you want.

Of course, if you don't ask us first, and we see/hear you in our woods, we'll call the cops. Be warned.

I thought the blackberries were long past, but we went to Appleacres yesterday and people were still picking! So we've got a big basket of fresh peaches, AND a big basket of blackberries.

Tomorrow? Cobblers and jam.

We're cooking out again, too. Come on over.

We're fun, funky people with weird hair. And I shoot up with Lovenox twice a day.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:32 AM | |

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I am the Neville Longbottom of any group.

I've been without my Blog for almost a week! Days and days without blogging! Oh, the horror, the HORROR. . .

Oh pooh.

Yes, I've missed it terribly. This blog is such a part of me that to NOT blog daily is like not breathing.

However, I've been to Las Vegas with my sisters and my SIL and I've had a wonderful time and somehow a computer wasn't associated with any of it at all, unless we assume that a penny slot machine is in fact a kind of computer and it refused to give me thousands of dollars for my penny because it knew I had in a way abandoned my home computer and being that computers are all conjoined in the brain it wreaked revenge on said abandonment by denying me my picture on the wall of a casino holding a huge check with $1,000,000 on it to thus inspire other people who come to Vegas with ten bucks to gamble with, to invest it in the penny slots.

I went to Vegas with ten budgeted gamble-bucks, and I tripled it. Now, most people wouldn't call thirty-four bucks much of a win, but when you consider that I expected to lose it all, and that I didn't play anything but the penny and nickel slots, it's not bad, not bad at all.

My favorite is really blackjack, but New York New York didn't have any cheap tables and I wanted to make it last as long as possible.

We took a cab to Fremont Street specifically for two things: the light show, and the heavily advertised two-dollar blackjack tables.

The light show rocked, but the "two-dollar tables" ads should rightly have read "two-dollar table." We did find one casino there with a two-dollar table, but only one casino and only one table. That one table had a huge crowd around it, watching and waiting their turn, so we gave up and went back to the Strip. Truth in advertising, huh. Those guys will miss OUR big money, that's a fact. Fifty bucks ain't to be sneezed at.

Well, not by us, all combined. Casino owners use hundred dollar bills to sneeze on, so our small amount won't be missed. Too bad, too; if there had been the advertised tableS, I would have posted something more flattering and perhaps mentioned the Four Queens anonymous casino by name, and lots of other po' folks might have flocked there.

But then, they don't need me for anything.

We stayed at New York New York and it was fantastic. Gorgeous and clean and friendly. It wasn't overly crowded, either. I will have to say that I don't think small children belong in Vegas, but if parents want their kids exposed to drunken adults and scantily clad women and alcoholic beverages and smokers wherever you look, well, values differ, don't they. Personally, I don't think adults who bring little kids to Vegas could possibly have as much fun as adults who come unencumbered. And my usual opinion about public behavior for people of all ages still holds, whether the people are in Vegas, or Disneyland, or WalMart. Or on an airplane, but that rant will come later.

Something I did miss was the 'ding ding ding' and then the rush of coins when someone won at the slots. That's all been replaced by silent machines and a strip of bar-coded payout paper. A casino without those sounds just seemed odd.

We walked all over the Strip. My SIL and I saw "Mamma Mia" at Mandalay Bay, and after that we went through the Shark Reef. Awesome.

We had delicious crepes at the Creperie, in Paris. We walked through the shopping malls of Aladddin, and Paris, and the Wynn, and the Stratosphere (the sisters went up to the top, but SIL and I stayed in the shopping area cuz we're too cheap to pay the toll), the Venetian, and Harrah's, and Bally's, and Mandalay Bay, and Caesar's Palace, and Excalibur. Others whose names I can't recall at the moment, too. Oh, and the Bellagio.

The Wynn was just simply gorgeous. Their highly advertised waterfall was beautiful, but the waterfall show was, once again not to mince words, really stupid. If you go to Vegas without your kids, and don't care to run into anyone else with kids, this is the place to stay. No strollers allowed, and nobody under 18 without an accompanying adult. If you have kids, don't go to the Wynn. It ain't rocket science.

The Bellagio was magical, in my mind and memory. I've never stayed there, but I always loved the elegance of it. I loved the beautiful flowers, and that curving staircase, and the fountain show, the best.

Well, the light show is still there. The beautiful glass flowers still cover the lobby ceiling. But where were the flower arrangements? Where was the staircase? They were gone, and in their place was a tacky display of electric trains and little buildings that looked like a sixth grade second place science project, or something you'd see in a state park nature center. The flower arrangements beside each hotel check-in clerk looked like. . . well, to quote my Tumorless Sister, the arrangements she used to make for the Special Adult Students' dances were classier. We're talking a row of sunflowers, a foot of stem, and a row of little petunias at the bottom. All that was missing were dandelions in a paper Dixie cup. What's up with that? Is this some kind of folk art I don't know about? Because it was, not to mince words, butt-ugly.

Bellagio, my Bellagio, what happened to you? And why were you playing country music while your fountain tried to dance the ballet?

Our flights just barely missed the panic that is now a part of airport life right now, too. I had scoured the house for change, so I'd have enough money to participate a little, and all that change made a big dark spot when my purse went through the x-ray. They pulled it aside, pulled me aside, and methodically went through my purse, whilst wearing latex gloves just in case. I've often thought, myself, that rubber gloves would be a good thing for going through the contents of my purse. Sometimes there are strange and messy things in there.

Quickly ascertaining that nothing was being hidden behind the nickels except some pennies, they gave me back my purse and let me go through security with no more hassles. On the return trip, I set off the alarm when I walked through the security thing. Why? I have no idea. But they patted me down and let me walk through again and this time no bells rang.

Why is it always me? I am the Neville Longbottom of any group.

Some screaming teenaged girls played Slapjack on the folding tray behind my Tumorless Sister all the way to Denver. People can be so incredibly thoughtless and stupid at times.

I do not think that airplane seats in the cheap section should lean back. People who lean back are thoughtless; don't they realize that when they lean back, the person behind them can not use his/her tray, or even hold a magazine? Rude, rude, rude.

And if your baby poops, please take it to the restroom to change it. Immediately, please. Airplane air is very old and doesn't circulate or disperse odors very well; try not to add to it. Thank you very much.

The usual screaming toddler was there, of course, as was his sister, the singer. One of them screamed solidly for the entire flight, and the other one sang the same two songs over and over, as loudly as possible, for the entire flight. The resulting counterpoint was not pleasant.

If you are extremely fat and your gut will completely cover the control panel on the arm, please don't sit by me. I know you people ask beforehand where I am sitting, just so you can be by the window right beside me. It can't always be a coincidence. And when I have to lean to the left because you take up all of your own space plus half of mine, and I have no space in front of me because the rude cow in that seat was leaning back, it makes for a really long ride.

Wouldn't it be far more reasonable if each traveler had to pay for the amount of room he/she took up, than to make somebody who paid for a full seat also accommodate pieces of a person who should have paid for a seat and a half?

Otherwise, the flights were great. I love to fly, and I seldom get a chance to.

And now that I've slept with my SIL, I feel that I know her much better than before. Heh.

Seriously, she's a fantastic person, and I love her dearly. I just wish I could see her more often; it's a long way from Idaho to Indiana. And any time spent with my Tumorless Sister is time well spent. My Other Sister? I love her dearly, and I'd do anything for her, but I don't understand her and I never have. Now that we are this old, I don't know if I ever will. But it's always good to see her, anyway.

Oh good grief, people, she wanted to order an egg salad sandwich in a fancy restaurant!!!!!! In VEGAS!!!! EGG SALAD!!!!! I laughed and said 'oh, let her if that's what she really wants" but Tumorless and SIL wouldn't have it.

It was a wonderful trip, and I loved every minute of it except for the Reclining Cow and the Globules of Fat intruding into my personal paid-for space.

We had layovers both times in Denver, and I had planned to call some precious and wonderful and awesome friends in that area but the planes got in late and there wasn't time.

It was also good to come home again. But then, coming home is also part of any journey, and sometimes, it is the best part.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:11 PM | |

Saturday, August 05, 2006

I Belong to the Rat Pack

About a month or so ago, my sisters and SIL decided to have a girly-sib reunion. Awesome. But then they decided they wanted to have it in Las Vegas.

I love Vegas. I mean to say, I LOVE Vegas. But we don't even have enough money to fully cover our bills each month, so there was no way I could go. I couldn't even afford BlogHer. It was out of the question.

Guess what; I'm going.

My mom loaned me the money and I can go. She forbade me to use it for bills and ordered me to go to Las Vegas with the rest of the sisters. Old as I am, I am in the habit of obeying my mother, so my bag is packed and I'm ready to go, and I'm leaving on a jet plane, as John Denver wrote and everyone else under the sun has sung.

We're staying right on the Strip, in New York New York. I'm so excited, my earlobes itch.

I love you, Mom. Oh, and Happy Birthday!!!!!!!!

This is my mom, at fifteen. I think she was beautiful.

I think she's still beautiful.

Thank you, Mom.

I won't be seeing any shows or gambling, but it's enough just to walk around and gawk at things like the country gee-haw that I am.

I don't like to admit that but it's true.

I don't care for country music and I do love the opera and ALMOST all classical music and I'm obsessed with the musical theatre and I read everything I can get my hands on, but honestly? I've really never been anywhere

That's not quite true. I've been devouring books since before I started kindergarten, so I've actually been all over this world, and lots of other worlds, in my head, and in my heart. My imagination overflows with fantasy and characters and plots and settings and points of view and irony and parody and metaphors and similes and analogies and comedy and tragedy and everything the Nine Muses represent. Thalia and Melpomene are my icons.

I guess I have been everywhere then. Johnny Cash and me. Or rather, Mike Ford and me, because I love Ford's version of that song the best.

Mmm, Mike Ford and me. Sigh.

Two of my favorite novels, "A Lantern in Her Hand," by Bess Streeter Aldrich, and its sequel "A White Bird Flying," talk about this, this ability to travel without really going far from one's home. I highly recommend both books, but be sure you read them in order.

In "A Lantern in Her Hand," Grace is upset with her mother, Abbie, because Abbie can't go to Europe with her. Grace tells her mother that a person who doesn't travel can't be very broad-minded. Conveniently forgetting that Abbie sacrified her youth for her children, just to keep body and soul together, Grace really lets Abbie have it, about travel being broadening and about people who don't travel being narrow.

Abbie tells Grace that she HAS traveled, in her books, and vicariously when her children traveled and wrote to her about it. She tells Grace that not everyone who travels is broad, and not everyone who stays home is narrow.

Oh, I can't tell you enough how very, very much I love these two books.

I am on my way to becoming less narrow this weekend, although when I look in the mirror, I think I'm already plenty broad enough.

The timing couldn't have been better. The slings and arrows are really getting to me.

Carry on.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 4:24 PM | |

Friday, August 04, 2006

MixMania 9/11

Listen up, music lovers, because Patriside has posted the new MixMania theme and it's yet another stroke of his amazing genius.

September 11, 2001. Where were you? What were you doing? Who were you with? Where were you going? Were you at home? At work? On your way to work? Were your children with you, or already at school/daycare?

When you heard the news, what were your first thoughts? Even now, five years later, what do you think of when you are reminded of what happened?

What we want for this MixMania is a soundtrack of your mind, heart, and soul, based on your 'take' of 9/11.

This can take many forms, of course. Maybe you'll pick some music that was popular during that time. Or music you were listening to, or music you made yourself, or music with lyrics about love, and loss, and remembrance. Maybe a mix of patriotic music would be your personal take on this theme. Or a roaring hard rockin' blood-thumpin' mix, that makes you stand up and shout. Perhaps a mix of heart-rending sadness is what you hear, when you remember 9/11.

Whatever your personal take, go over to Patriside's blog and sign up. This could be the biggest turnout yet, and we've had some awesome turnouts!

Free music, friends. Sign up now.

And please: if you sign up, it's a promise. Those who don't follow through are cheating someone out of their music. Sign up, keep your promise, burn your mix, send it out to your 'match' you'll be given, and watch the mail for your own. It's a lot of fun, and you'll get to own some great music that you might not otherwise have ever experienced. Shame on those people who sign up, get their music, and send out nothing themselves. It doesn't happen very often, but it has happened. We want everyone to play, but we expect everyone to keep their word, too.

There's nothing in this post that would offend anyone, is there? I mean, nobody's going to throw a lot of hate-mail and CAPITAL LETTERS at me, are they?

Please don't.

A little note for those who are throwing the poison darts: if you take the trouble to look in my archives, you will discover that my opinion of most standardized testing is probably lower even than yours is. My opinion of the public school system in general is pretty low, too. We have more in common than you think.

The difference might be that everything I have and think is out on the table and I really don't care who sees it.

My grandmother was from the hills of Kentucky; she got married at fourteen and spent the rest of her life pushing out and raising children. She never learned to read or write, except for her signature. And she was awesome.

Because of her own childhood, she wanted better things for her own kids. Sending all of them to school was an act almost of defiance against her own parents, who made her stay at home and learn only those things 'women' did back then. That all of her children managed to graduate from high school in spite of the terrible poverty of their lives was a source of immense pride both for her and for each child.

My friend Jay, the Zero Boss, summed it up best:

The fact is, my kids have done well both in and out of school. I don’t see one choice as superior to the other, out of context. Homeschooling works because it’s driven by involved, caring parents; kids who excel in public schools usually have the same backing. All the debate in the world won’t solve the Schooling issue, because it’s not about schooling; it’s about shitty parenting.

Thank you, Jay. In my book, you are not the Zero Boss; you are the Infinity Boss.

This blog has not represented "me" very well lately. I think I need to stop focusing on school for a while and start focusing on things that won't make large groups of probably otherwise very nice people throw big rocks at me.

I can't agree about the cursive thing, though. I think it's an art, like any kind of ideas put on paper, and no amount of computer keyboarding can take its place. A person with beautiful handwriting is an artist, and cursive is an art anybody can have if they try.

I do expect a cursive signature on an application or form. Even bad cursive is better than none at all, even in today's computer age. It's art. ART.

And no, I do not accept papers written in cursive OR printed out by hand, thankyouverymuch.

Yes, even at MY college.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:48 PM | |


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