Thursday, July 31, 2008

Northern Rockies Folk Festival

If any of you plan to attend the Northern Rockies Folk Festival, please clap extra loud for Steelhead Redd, the band that opens on Friday night at 5:00.

That's my baby brother on the bass.

Clap for all the bands. Just, you know, be extra enthusiastic about Steelhead Redd. Buy the cd, too, but only if you have fantastic musical taste want to.

Thank you.


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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:26 PM | |

Ask Me Nicely First

Are your child's toys his/her very own? Do you allow your child to think that her toys belong to her?

Or are you just letting your child play with them while maintaining ownership yourself?

I am what might euphemistically be called "middle-aged" now, but there are some things that still bother me, a LOT.

I was the oldest of four kids, and nothing ever really belonged to me, even when I bought it with my own money. I was forced to share it all, and it didn't even matter if I was home. If a sibling wanted to play with it, or wear it, or eat it, the sibling got it.

Even as a child, I was very careful with "my" things. Santa brought me a doll every Christmas, and those dolls are, as I type, residing on the top shelf of my closet, as pristine as dolls that old could possibly be. Some of them, however, bear the marks of not-as-careful-as-I forced borrowings.

I still have my Tiny Thumbelina doll, but she stopped moving after less than a year because a visiting cousin, who threw a fit for her, was allowed by Mom to play with her. My cousin's idea of playing was far different than mine, and it didn't take her long to overwind the doll and therefore break her, forever. My opinion of that cousin is still colored by that example of her nature. I was a careful child, and I adored things with keys, such as music boxes. I was extremely careful with such things, and I dreaded having company who brought their kids, because my parents always made me bring out the very things that I loved best, and that were the most easily broken, and watch strange kids play with them roughly and usually break them. If I protested, or cried when it happened, Mom or Dad would give me the routine "Shame on you; don't be selfish!" speech, which didn't ring true even back then and still doesn't. If you know someone, whatever their age might be, is going to break it, why would you MAKE the owner of it just hand it over?

Unless, of course, the child isn't really the owner at all. That would only work if the PARENT actually owned the toy, wouldn't it. Aha!

I know that Mom didn't like it when our toys were mishandled by visiting kids, but her kind heart and generous nature wouldn't let her be anything but sharing, even when it was OUR things that were being shared.

Some adults are horrified when a child doesn't want to 'share' certain toys, but I'm not. Kids can usually sense when another kid is going to be careful or not, and frankly, it's only common sense to NOT allow a careless, rowdy kid to play with anything that's fragile or special, such as a beloved doll or other toy. Embarrassed parents who then FORCE a child to hand it over are not doing anybody any favors. Parents of careless kids who break everything they touch have no business expecting someone else's child to willingly hand over a favorite toy only to have it torn to pieces before their very eyes. "Well, they sure don't make 'em like they used to!" is NOT a good response when your kid breaks another kid's toy. "Oh, that's all right, don't worry about it!" is likewise not a good response when some kid breaks your kid's favorite toy.

It's wonderful to have a sharing, giving, generous nature, but a person can still have that while using common sense. No child should EVER be required to share beloved toys with another kid. Bring out the box of blocks, or the tinkertoys, or something that's usually shared anyway and that ISN'T precious and kept pristine and beloved. Unbreakables are good for sharing with an unknown quantity, or with a quantity you KNOW is going to be rough with it. I'm all for sharing, really, but I'm completely against REQUIRED sharing, and a child should get to choose which toys he/she wants to share and which ones are to be kept on the shelf when company comes.

I considered that my kids' toys belonged to THEM. If we had company with kids, I shut and locked my kids' bedroom doors, unless they were there, in person, to give or not give permission to enter. As long as the toys were put away, they did not belong to me. I had given them away to someone else - my children - and only the owners could say what happened to them. I had - and still have it - a huge box of sharing toys, and there is some pretty cool stuff in there. But my kids' most precious toys? Nobody touched them without permission from that child. They belonged to that child. I bought or made them, and then I gave them away. Once you "give" something, it then belongs to the one who received it. Once you "give" something, your rights over its use have been passed to someone else.

Of course, if, after several days' warning, those same toys were still on the floor, pieces scattered, they became mine again, and my kids didn't like what I did with them. But that was their own fault.

Perhaps it's because modern kids have so many toys, that the concept of a few precious toys has gone its merry way. But I'd bet money, if I had any, that even a modern kid has a toy or two that's extra-special, and that he/she would really prefer NOT to have to share with just anybody.

Sometimes, when I'm looking in my closet, I'll gaze at Tiny Thumbelina and remember the days when she still moved. And I know that if I hadn't been forced to hand her over to that wild, destructive cousin, she would still be alive moving today.

Kids desperately need things of their very own, that are undebatably THEIRS, that can not be touched without permission, EVER. I used to find my only respite in my school supplies, which lived in my desk in my classroom. At school, if you helped yourself to someone else's stuff, you were correctly labeled a thief. Now, of course, even at school there is no possibility to learn pride of possession, because in most classrooms the teacher makes everybody dump their school supplies in community buckets. This is catastrophically wrong. It would have finished me off for good, I think. A child with no absolute possessions can't understand the concept of other people's possessions, and this is the beginning of the end. I blogged about this once before and I haven't changed my mind about it. I never will. I sent my children to school with their supplies and I expected those supplies to reside in my child's desk. Anyone, including the teacher, who took my child's possessions without permission and against their wishes, was a thief.

A parent or sister or brother who helps themselves to your possessions is a thief, too. But don't call them that or you'll get grounded. And the injustice of THAT still burns, too.

I'm not selfish, and neither are my children. Almost anything we have, we are happy to let you use, too. Just don't ask to borrow those very, very few extra-precious things we have set apart from everything else, pristine, beloved, and our very own. And if you just waltz up and help yourself without permission, we'll by golly slap the daylights out of your reaching hand.

Nobody is entitled to whatever they want, without first jumping through some hoops. One of the jumps might be to pay for something in a store. Another jump might be asking permission to touch or use the property of someone else. But a person who just assumes that everything exists for his/her use is asking for trouble, and one of these days, he or she is going to try to help himself to something that isn't theirs and all hell will break loose, legally. If our children learn at a very early age that they are allowed free usage ONLY of their own things, and NEVER with someone else's, without permission, perhaps we'll populate the earth with adults who respect each other and each other's belongings, and who don't expect carte blanche to help themselves to anything and everything they want, without jumping through the proper hoop first.

To sum up: nice people of any age don't grab other people's things without permission. EVER.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:39 PM | |

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

No Heart/No Fart: This Explains a Lot

Today was the first day of Final Exams - every student's favorite day, naturally. My class today was up on the main campus, and the classes on the main campus have a far larger percentage of absenteeism than do the regional campuses. I have no idea why this is so, but it's so.

In this morning's class, three students didn't even show up to take the final exam. I predict that they will come to class on Wednesday and be all astounded and sputtery that the summer session is over and they can't take the final, when most of this kind of student didn't even know when the final WAS, or what it was about. It happens every semester, and it's scary. For the nation, I mean. SCARY. Sometimes, even at this level, a parent will call me at home to tell me why Junior was absent and to tell me that he'll be at the college on such and such a day to take the final which I will please hand-deliver to him at his convenience. To which I reply that I am not permitted by law to even acknowledge that I've ever heard of Junior and there is no way I would ever tell someone over the phone who is and who isn't in my classes. Then the parent will get all huffy and imperious and I'll start to snicker silently on my end, because after 26 years of having administration force me to kowtow and give in to this kind of parent, I am finally allowed to be sensible and professional about it, and simply hang up on the jerks. College administration will back me. If the parent tries to go over my head, it won't work. At least, it hasn't yet. Helicopter parents are a pathetic joke at any level, but if this attitude extends into a kid's college years, heaven help the universe!

Tomorrow, or, rather, later today (Holy cow, LOOK AT THE TIME!) I will give this same final exam to a group of students at a regional campus, and I'd bet money, if I had any, that every single student will be there, pencil sharpened, alert, and ready to take that test.

Most of the main campus students are just out of high school, and most of the regional students are older. Have work ethics changed much? Darn right they have. And not for the better, either. Sigh.

Dear Helicopter Parents of College Students: Your kid is raised. Stop raising him. If he's still an immature weenie, let life hand him/her some consequences. It's about time somebody did.
Love, Professor MeanJane P.S. Your kid is nineteen years old and still can't remember to bring a pencil to school. And no, he can't borrow mine. Suck it up. If he wants a grade on a test, he can go down to the bookstore and invest in a two-dollar collegiate-licensed pencil. Yes, they are too expensive and yes, it's ridiculous. At Target he can get a whole package for a dollar, but then he'd have to remember to bring one to class. You are not allowing your kid to grow up, and he doesn't have what it takes to do so himself. This is your fault. Back off. Let him struggle and fail, and then perhaps he will struggle and succeed. No, this is NOT being cruel. Cruelty is keeping your kid a kid too long, and doing all the work for him. Step back and don't give in when he comes crying to you about how hard life is.

This is one of many reasons why I am a firm believer in mixed-age classes. At this level, I'll have students from 17 to 80 in one room, and each has something invaluable to give to the other. The best thing of all? We don't really have many discipline problems, and if we do, the student is escorted out of the building immediately. As such students should be at ALL levels, so our nice hardworking kids might be able to climb higher and see farther and accomplish much more, without being constantly albatrossed by discipline problems that are allowed to get worse each year by spineless administrators and parents who can't see beyond their own child.

Remember Helen Keller, who had to be removed from her doting parents' home in order to be educated properly, because her parents were so sorry for her that they gave in to her every whim and turned her into a smelly obnoxious beast who demanded her own way and got it in every situation. Poor little Helen, let her have it; she's been denied so much! Annie Sullivan, however, knew better. Why can't modern parents and administrators see it?

After this week, the summer session will be over and I'll have two weeks of vacation before the VERY busy fall semester begins. I've peeked at the rosters and all of my classes, so far, are BIG! Of course, "big" at the college level means between 18 and 22, whereas "big" in the public school meant "over 40." And yes, I had several 8th grade classes of over 40, where kids had to sit on the floor and lean against the wall because no more desks could be crammed into the room.

Now, if the class grows too big, they lock the door and say "Sorry, try again next year." Much better!

I am a firm believer in playing my best with the hand I'm dealt, but that only works when there are 52 cards to be dealt. Add "just a few more," and the rules are changed, and it becomes a different game.

My roses are blooming and the petunias are beautiful and my upside-down tomatoes are doing well. The gerbera daisies are putting out new blooms and the salvia is purple and pretty. Come on over and smoke smell them.

Five years ago my life did a complete turnaround, and I wasn't sure if I would ever be able to adjust to it. Now? I'm happier than I've ever been in my life, and I know I am right where I am supposed to be. I know who my friends are, and who they aren't, and even though the blow was undeserved and terribly unfair, I'm glad now because I know that God led me through it and guided me straight to where I am now.

I wonder if we have any orange juice. . . . I still miss that BlogHer orange juice. And pretty much everything else about BlogHer, for that matter.

Life is good. Dig it.

And when life isn't good, dig it anyway. If you keep digging, you'll strike gold eventually.

Oh, and bring a pencil to class on test day. Them nasty ol' professors will show you no mercy; they can't, because they have no hearts. Nope.

They have no heart, and they never fart. That's why they're so mean all the time.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:57 AM | |

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Quotation Saturday

Coming home was both a downer and a relief. Does traveling affect anybody else like that? As I was changing the sheets and then mowing the lawn today, I was thinking things like "I love to make my home lovely and good-smelling, inside and out," whilst simultaneously thinking things like "If I lived in that hotel, I'd NEVER have to mow the lawn, someone else would change AND wash the sheets, and I'd get to sleep with Monty every night!" Because, of course, in my fantasy world, BlogHer is still going on and will never stop.

As are many other things in my many fantasy worlds. . . .

But now it's Quotation Saturday, and I do love me some wise and pithy quotations:

1. "It is not the shilling I give you that counts, but the warmth that it carries with it from my hand." --Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo

2. "We have no more right to put our discordant states of mind into the lives of those around us and rob them of their sunshine and brightness than we have to enter their houses and steal their silverware." --Julia Moss Seton

3. "Statistics are no substitute for judgment." --Henry Clay

4. "The slander of some people is as great a recommendation as the praise of others." --Henry Fielding

5. "A sense of shame is not a bad moral compass." --Colin Powell

6. "In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." --M.L. King

7. "Soft soap is always a sign that there's dirty water about." --John Dickson Carr

8. "Obstinacy and heat of opinion are the surest proof of stupidity. Is there anything so assured, resolved, disdainful, contemplative, solemn, and serious as the ass?" --Montaigne

9. "The man who insists on seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides." --Henri Fredric Amiel

10. "A day is a span of time no one is wealthy enough to waste." --Anon.

11. "Without deviation, progress is not possible." --Frank Zappa

12. "Dollars cannot buy yesterday." --Admiral Harold R. Stark

13. "Never let go of the fiery sadness called desire." --Patti Smith

14. "If people are made to do what they dislike, you must allow for a little ill-humour." --Lord Melbourne

15. "I don't want people who want to dance. I want people who HAVE to dance." --George Balanchine

16. "Men get to be a mixture of the charming mannerisms of the women they have known." --F.S. Fitzgerald

17. "A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

18. "Being a politician is like being a football coach: you have to be small enough to understand the game, but dumb enough to think it's important." --Eugene McCarthy

19. "Truthfulness is a cornerstone in character, and if it be not firmly laid in youth, there will ever after be a weak spot in the foundation." --Jefferson Davis

20. "Character is built out of circumstances. From exactly the same materials, one man builds palaces, while another builds hovels." --George Henry Lewes

21. "There is something that is much more scarce, something finer far, something rarer than ability. It is the ability to recognize ability." --Elbert Green Hubbard

22. "Faith in the ability of a leader is of slight service unless it be united with faith in his justice." --George Washington Goethels

23. "Administration not only has to be good but has also to be felt to be good by the people affected." --Nehru

24. "Art is running away without ever leaving home." --Twyla Tharp

25. "I'm tough, ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay." --Madonna

26. "Some men are like a clock on the roof; they are useful only to the neighbors." --Austin O'Malley

27. "People are so brainwashed by the rules that they don't know what really matters." --Mick Jagger

28. "The brain that doesn't feed itself, eats itself." --Gore Vidal

29. "On ships they call them barnacles; in business they attach themselves to desks and are called vice presidents." --Fred Allen

30. "Few people do business well who do nothing else." --Lord Chesterfield

31. "The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it." --George C. Scott

32. "No shirt is too young to be stuffed." --Larry Zolf

33. "If 'A' is a success in life, then 'A' equals 'X' plus 'Y' plus 'Z.' Work is 'X,' 'Y' is play, and 'Z' is keeping your mouth shut." --Einstein

34. "The less one thinks, the more one talks." --Old French Proverb

35. "Let him that would move the world, first move himself." --Socrates

36. "It is as expedient that a wicked man be punished as that a sick man be cured by a physicial; for all chastisement is a kind of medicine." --Plato

37. "The canary bird in the coal mine theory of the arts: artists should be treasured as alarm systems." --Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

38. "The artist brings something into the world that didn't exist before, and. . . he does it without destroying something else." --John Updike

39. "First to know, then to act, then to really know." --Bishop Hafifi

40. "Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind." --Seneca

41. "When it is not necessary to make a decision, it is necessary not to make a decision." --Lord Falkland

42. "The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are." --John Burroughs

43. "To spare oneself from grief at all cost can be achieved only at the price of total detachment, which excludes the ability to experience happiness." --Erich Fromm

44. "If we only knew the real value of a day." --Joseph Farrell

45. "If ever there was an aviary overstocked with jays it is that Yap-town-on-the-Hudson, called a bureaucracy." --O. Henry

46. "The aging process has got you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball." --Doug Larsen

47. "As a preventative to mental old age, a daily mile trot with your imagination cannot be equaled." --Roy Giles

48. "The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee. And I pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun." --J.D. Rockefeller

49. "Mum reckoned that getting lost and finding your way were just different sides of the same coin. You couldn't have one without the other." Fynn, from Mister God, This Is Anna

50. "There are thoughts which are prayers. There are moments when, whatever the posture of the body, the soul is on its knees." --Victor Hugo

We're having a huge bonfire here tonight, and finally getting rid of the absolutely humongous pile of limbs and brush that's been accumulating for YEARS. Come on over.

Seriously, stop by. We're setting off Mentos Geysers, and it's going to be, if you can stand one more quote. . . .

51. "Fierce!" -- Christian Siriano

There will be food. And blueberry cobbler.

And probably rain. But we've had mighty and majestic bonfires in the rain before.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:01 AM | |

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

One More BlogHer Perspective

. . . soooooo many posts about BlogHer! I LOVE THEM!!!

Strange as it may seem, since I am such an opinionated blowhard somewhat assertive on this blog, I am actually very shy in real life. It's difficult for me to walk into a room full of people and approach someone; I always assume that nobody would care to associate with a boring person like me. My panel went well, thanks to Shireen, Marilyn, and Monty; I knew that even if I flopped, they would carry on without me. They were so good.

At BlogHer, people spoke to me. People sat with me. People listened to me. Holy cow. I felt like SOMEBODY there.

Was it the other-side-of-the-continent atmosphere? Had I changed when I got off the plane? Are BlogHer people just nicer than other people? All of the above?

Possibly that last one.

Hanging out with Monty and Fausta and Kimberle did wonders for me, too. They are, all three of them, so very outstandingly wonderful!!! We traversed Chinatown and ate sushi and oysters and drank sake and took pictures of each other with dragons and in front of shop windows containing duck feet and beheaded waterfowl of various sorts, and tackled the crowds and the disco lights at Ruby Skye, and dodged all the Saving Grace misc, except for that one gigantic poster which we posed in front of and pretended we were part of. It was a marvelous lot of fun. I would kill to have Kim's hair. It's just simply gorgeous.

Food? There was food everywhere I turned, at BlogHer. I will have to say that the box lunches were not all that, novelty that they were, and for people on low carb diets, they were a disaster. Bread, bread, more bread, and pasta. They were all gone by the time I got to lunch on Friday, but as I'm too fat anyway, it wasn't a big deal. As for breakfast? For once in my life, I had all the orange juice I wanted. It was just so delicious, and so COLD. I do love me some ice cold, and I mean ICE COLD, orange juice. Room temp? Can't drink it. BlogHer orange juice was perfect. I couldn't eat the doughnuts, etc, because I'm diabetic, but I got by. Besides, we were accosted (the good kind) by hors d'oeuvres and wine everywhere we went, and the bottled water and diet Pepsi were abundant.

My ability to make a hardship out of the simplest things reared its ugly head at Sunday lunch, when I bit into my really delicious sandwich and speared my lower lip with a concealed toothpick. Seriously, it went all the way through my lower lip and out again. It still throbs, but now it's just funny. Who but me? I didn't know whether to just sit there and laugh at myself through the shock and tears, or run back to Chinatown and buy a lip ring. I mean, the piercing was already there and all . . . .

It's still there. How do you put medicine on the inside of your lip? I'm hoping the saliva will fix it, because I don't have any other options. I'm sure it will be fine.

Don't panic, Westin St. Francis. I'm not one of those people who sue. I'm a nice person. But after this, I'll be feeling up all my sandwiches before I plunge into them with my body parts. So to speak.

I learned so much over that weekend that I'm really kind of disoriented sitting here and trying to remember it all in ways that can be translated to the written page. I know for a fact that my brain had to have grown a new section to store it all.

One thing I'm very happy about: so many websites and conferences and literature and whatnot that welcome women of, how shall I put this, a 'certain age,' are very condescending even when they don't realize it. Yes, I'm over the hill forty (a LOT over), but I am not remotely interested in a website or conference that talks to me of Depends and AARP and declining vision and Alzheimer's and Ensure and velcro fasteners for my housedress and cell phones with one big button and ways to entertain the grandchildren and Big Band music and recipes for soft foods and electric grocery cart wheelchairs and great denture adhesives. I'm interested in writing and electronics and social media and marketing and books and makeup and purses and hanging out with friends and laughing out loud and eating in funky restaurants and navigating around Chinatown and computers, all about computers. BlogHer did so many things just exactly right, and one of them was that it treated all of us the same. There were people there from 18 to 80, and everybody did whatever she wanted most to do. Mixed groups? I'll say! Isn't that how the world really is?

As for the hotel itself, well, I was overwhelmed by its beauty, its accessibility, and its class. All the staff were gracious and helpful, the room was glorious, the shower was amazing, and nothing went wrong. Um, except for my credit card being declined and all, but that wasn't the hotel's fault.

Whoops, did I really confess that? My bad. It's fixed now.

I loved the sessions and the food and the people and the vendors and the loot and the vicinity and the sights and the parties.

Sunday was perhaps the best of all. Small and intimate and with handpicked topics. People still sat with me and my self-consciousness melted away. Of course, that's also when I pierced my lip with the toothpick. Sigh.

My adorable tiny pink computer was a real conversation-starter, too. Thank you, Asus Eee Pc! I love my little laptop - it does everything a big laptop can do, and it's light as a feather and fits in my purse.

I had no problems whatsoever at the airport, and the fact that I couldn't slow my brain down and get some sleep on the red-eye wasn't anybody's fault but my own. My daughter picked me up at the airport at 7:30 a.m. Monday morning and took me straight to the college, where I taught for several hours while trying desperately to stay awake. I could have used that toothpick for my eyelids!!! I am not a napper, but when I finally got home around 4:00, I gave in and took a four-hour nap. Then I got back up, wrote four articles, ate a sandwich (no toothpick), surfed the 'net, read a few posts about BlogHer, and went to bed for real around 2:30 a.m.

I had more than just a good time. It was more than a great time.

At BlogHer08, I found myself, and discovered that I'm not such a bad sort after all.

And oh, my BlogHer people, I can't WAIT to do it all again next year!!!


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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:59 PM | |

Saturday, July 19, 2008

I Went to BlogHer and All I Got Was This Bag Full of Swag and Two More Boxes I Had To Mail Home

BlogHer rocks. In more ways than I could ever describe.

But I'll try.

First of all, let me mention the swag. There's a lot of it. Everywhere I turn, there is someone giving something away. Not nonsensical cheap junk either: I'm accumulating some really sweet stuff. Of course, I love flash drives, and a person can never have too many.

Chocolates? Ohhhh, there's fine chocolate here, and it's free. FREE. DVD's. CD's. Shirts. All kinds of novelty items. So much stuff, Fausta and Monty and I had to walk down to Walgreen's and buy boxes to mail it home.

Oh cool, the Michelin Man just walked in. He looks a lot like me, naked.

Too much information?

So far I have had a wonderful time. The conference was well-planned and is being well-run, and the people here are just simply lovely.

The rooms are cold, but that's probably just me.

I'm learning tons of useful and interesting information, meeting wonderful people, and having loads of fun. What more could anyone ask?

Swag. I love me some fine swag. Must be my pirate legacy. Arrrrrh. I'm mailing the swag home in a box. Can't fit it in my suitcase.

P.S. To the gentleman who wondered if I was wearing underwear: the answer is, of course, "Maybe."

I love this place.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:18 PM | |

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Haiku? Gesundheit!

To learn the meaning
of life, just ask a blogger.
We know the answer.

As bloggers, we know
what "community" really
is, for we live there.

Blogosphere neighbors
might not know what you look like,
but we know enough.

Our lives are enhanced
by invisible friends who,
daily, sustain us.

Never feel that you're
alone; the blogosphere is
full of friends, waiting.

I'm taking my heart
to San Francisco, and I
just might leave it there.

Oh, my BlogHer friends,
I don't know you yet, but I
already love you.

I think that Heaven
might be a lot like BlogHer:
our best, in public.

Sight unseen, we get
to know "what" they really are,
and not merely "who."

Nobody really
cares who you were in high school.
Your blog is you, now.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Go ahead and laugh. I know corny when I see it, too. But the thing is, you see. . . sometimes I like a little corn. It's roughage. Good for the colon.

And can anybody tell me why it is that even though people chew the corn up pretty thoroughly, it still poops out in whole kernels?

Inquiring minds want to know.

P.S. The latest Carnival of Education is up now, over at Steve Spangler.com. Click over and become enlightened! Remember: if you don't keep yourself informed, you forfeit all whining rights. ALL WHINING RIGHTS BELONG ONLY TO THE INFORMED!

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 10:50 PM | |

Monday, July 14, 2008

Alive, Alive-O

My cockles itch. I need magic. Drugs ain't working.

Hey HEY! I leave for BlogHer in a few days, and I want to make a good impression on everyone there, so I thought that it might be nice, today, to work out in the yard; you know, mowing, weeding, standing around in tall grass, tearing grape vines out of shagbark hickory trees, and just generally tearing my hands to a bloody pulp and laying a buffet for the chiggers.

Let me put it another way: I'll be the fat chick covered with red spots the size of dimes, excusing herself every few minutes to go scratch where the sun don't shine.

I am miserable. The itch quotient is a number that would take too much space to type.

I'll be using the next couple of days learning to scratch myself with my toenails. I know it will be subtle and graceful; nobody will even notice.

I've been so stressed over this and that lately What with one thing and another, I forgot about Quotation Saturday. It warms the cockles of my heart that so many people missed the quotes, and emailed me to ask for a late edition. I always listen to my cockles, so here it is: Quotation Saturday Monday.

1. Music and art must have their prominent seats of honour, and not merely a tolerant nod of recognition. --Tagore

2. Still seems it strange that thou shouldst live forever? Is it less strange that thou shouldst live at all? This is a miracle, and that no more. --Edward Young

3. Learning teaches how to carry things in suspense, without prejudice, 'till you resolve. --Francis Bacon

4. It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something. --FDR

5. Like all weak men he laid an exaggerated stress on not changing one's mind. --W.S. Maugham

6. Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn. They teach you there's a boundary line to music. But, man, there's no boundary line to art. --Charlie Parker

7. Marriage is a wonderful invention, but then again, so is the bicycle repair kit. --Billy Connally

8. It's no good saying "Hold it!" to a moment of real life. --Lord Snowden

9. Each man's memory is his private literature. --Aldous Huxley

10. He has Van Gogh's ear for music. --Orson Welles

11. There is but one morality, as there is but one geometry. --Voltaire

12. Music is but a living application of mathematics. -- Gino Severini

13. Mediocrity finds safety in standardization. --Frederick Evan Crane

14. Men who never take back their words love themselves more than truth. --Joseph Joubert

15. A memorandum is written not to inform the reader but to protect the writer. --Dean Acheson

16. A jazzy musician is a juggler who uses harmonies instead of oranges. --Benny Green

17. Keep out of ruts; a rut is something which, if travelled in too much, becomes a ditch. --Arthur Guiterman

18. Your giving a reason for it will not make it right. You may have a reason why two and two should make five, but they will still make but four. --Samuel Johnson

19. The greatest reward for doing is the opportunity to do more. --Jonas Salk

20. Rumors always have been powerful. But, somehow, an internet rumor casts a spell. It's in writing, and it comes from the almighty machine. --Wyatt Andrews

21. Most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do. --James Harvey Robinson

22. . . . and though the tongue has no bones, it can sometimes break millions of them. --F.L. Lucas

23. Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. --Pablo Picasso

24. God gives sleep to the bad, in order that the good may be undisturbed. --Saadi

25. The best lightning rod for your protection is your own spine. --Emerson

26. Great numbers of moderately good people think it fine to talk scandal; they regard it as a sort of evidence of their own goodness. --Frederick William Faber

27. Our disputants put me in mind of the scuttlefish that, when he is unable to extricate himself, blackens the water about him till he becomes invisible. --Joseph Addison

28. He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts - for support rather than illumination. --Andrew Lang

29. Anyone can observe the Sabbath, but making it holy surely takes the rest of the week. --Alice Walker

30. There is nothing makes a man suspect much, more than to know little. --Francis Bacon

31. We are not punished for our sins, but by them. --Elbert Hubbard

32. The really serious things in life are earning one's living so as not to be a parasite, and loving one's neighbor. --W.H. Auden

33. I can't say I was ever lost, but I was bewildered once for three days. --Daniel Boone

34. Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around. --Thoreau

35. Things work out best for the people who make the best out of the way things work out. --Anon.

36. It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window. --Raymond Chandler

37. It serves me right for putting all my eggs in one bastard. --Dorothy Parker

38. The only time we should look down upon another man is when we are bending over to help him up. --Unknown

39. I not only use all the brains I have, but all I can borrow. --Woodrow Wilson

40. Bullies are always to be found where there are cowards. --Gandhi

41. Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; argument is an exchange of ignorance. --Robert Quillen

42. The devil is an optimist if he thinks he can make people meaner. --Karl Kraus

43. Democracy without education is hypocrisy without limitation. --Iskander Mirza

44. Nine out of ten juvenile delinquents are just inferior. --J.D. Tanguey

45. A man on a mission is far different from a drone on a deadline. --Rheta Grimsley Johnson

46. One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries. --A.A. Milne

47. Seize the day: it's the only one you can be sure you'll have. -- Unknown

48. Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind. --Einstein

49. To lead a symphony, you must occasionally turn your back on the crowd. --Unknown

50. Much can be achieved with a smile. Admittedly, much more can be achieved with a smile and a big stick. --Anon.

A friendly reminder - and remember, my cockles itch and I've got a big stick* - that the deadline for submitting your articles to this week's Carnival of Education is Tuesday evening, 6 p.m.

* Have at thee, Google.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:01 AM | |

Sunday, July 13, 2008

BlogHer, Oh My Darling BlogHer: Please Don't Notice My Fat

Today, I made some BlogHer business cards. All of the savvy, knowledgeable BlogHer women bring business cards to exchange. I'm one, right? I tried to think of some way to make mine cool, but after a while I gave up. My business cards are just like me: boring and nerdy. I suppose anything else would have been false advertising.

On Wednesday, I had my hair trimmed - it was the second time in over five years that I've been to a stylist. I did it for BlogHer; I didn't want all those stylish women to see me with the distinctive touch of a manicure scissors trim. It's so humid here, I've been twisting my hair up and sticking a clip through it anyway. I'm so "with it" when it comes to trendy hair, you know.

I've been going through my closet, wondering how even someone like me could possibly be wearing some of those ancient, hideous clothes. There has to be something in there that would help hide the real "me" in San Francisco.

Yesterday, I tunneled my way through the bathroom cabinet and weeded out all the hair gels and other products that did not live up to the miracles the marketers had promised. I feel somehow betrayed by my own persistence in believing the printed word. I do know better; I just haven't stopped hoping yet. . . .

As far as BlogHer shoes go, mine have never been so far away from home before. Unfortunately, they look it. I own moccasins and flip-flops. I am a walking definition of whatever the opposite of "elegant" is. I'd look it up in a thesaurus but I'm already feeling insecure enough.

If I were a movie, I'd be an alternate ending of "The Wizard of Oz." The credits might be rolling, and the reel might have switched back to black and white, but I still haven't found any courage or brains. The Wicked Witch of the West just grew larger and more wicked when I threw water on her, and she flipped that huge scary hourglass - the very one that traumatized me when I was a little kid - upside-down again. The winged monkeys are throwing dung at me, Glinda just looks like Topper's wife, and Toto not only bit me: his fleas did, too. I begin to wish Miss Crump had fastened her bicycle basket more securely.

Oh, and the Wizard betrayed me. He flew away and never came back for me. He never had any intention of coming back. The Wizard is a player. Eventually, everybody figures that out. It just took me longer than most people. I'm that way.

The only thing that really works is the heart. I had that all the time. I'm just afraid to use it. What if, when I get to San Francisco, nobody talks to me? What if nobody sees me? I'm mostly invisible, wherever I go, except when I make Ugly Betty seem subtle. But she turned out to be smart and creative: a problem-solver who specialized in saving the day.

What if it grows silent when I enter the room, and then little clusters of friends titter and begin to whisper? What if I'm the only person in the room wearing capris with a two-digit number on the label?

It's ironic, you know. I have no trouble whatsoever walking into a classroom full of strangers and taking charge. The difference there, however, is that when I'm on the job, those people NEED me. About my job, I am very knowledgeable and I know exactly what I'm doing and how to do it. I know that I'm good at it, and I know that my department head knows that and trusts me to do my job and do it well. I take that trust very seriously indeed, and I do my utmost to live up to it. And I'm talking exactly like Charlie Gordon in the novella version.

I very nearly worship the women in charge of BlogHer. They are trusting me to be on a panel, and I intend to do my very best for them. I have never done anything like this before. I've spoken before hundreds of people on my own terms, but I've never spoken about anything personal, or close to my heart. In just a few days, that's exactly what I shall be doing. What if I open up and nobody cares?

What if people nudge each other and snicker? What if they whisper to each other that they've NEVER felt like that and there must be something wrong with me? What if they leave the session wondering why I was even there?

In just a few days, I shall be in San Francisco at BlogHer. I went last year and it was wonderful. When the opportunity opened up that allowed me to go again this year, I was so ecstatic I stammered for weeks. I know that it will be even better this year. Events like this almost always get better and better with each passing year. Practice makes perfect, you know.

I hope I will be able to somehow add to the perfection, and not detract from it. I can't WAIT to meet everyone there. I just hope nobody is disillusioned when they actually see. . . me.

I'll be the large nerdy woman peeking wistfully out from behind the curtains. Would you, um, want to exchange business cards with me? It's okay if you'd rather save yours for the interesting people. Here, take one of mine anyway.

It's five o'clock in the morning, and I'm obviously still up. I'd go to bed but there are things on my mind.

You know, like whether or not Alex(is) Meade really keeps "it" in a glass of water. I think it would be kind of cool if she did.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 4:09 AM | |

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Carnival of Education, 179th Edition

Welcome to the 179th edition of the Carnival of Education. Our in-service will begin shortly.

Lalalalalalalala. . . . .

30 minutes later: still eating stale doughnuts, wishing somebody had a key to unlock the coke machine, and still waiting for the administrators, who arranged this in-service for us in the middle of our summer vacation, to show up and enlighten us. In the summertime, most teachers really don't like being required to hang around the ol' institution for nothing. When summertime meetings are called, teachers feel like the inmates and the administrators seem like our keepers. After all, we're not getting paid for this in-service, and the principals are. And did you hear how much our presenter is being paid? That's right. THAT'S how much.

Faint rumblings are heard in the distance.

Lalalalalalalala. . . . .

Distinct rumblings. . . .

Hmm, well, until the principal and his 47 assistants show up, we'll just play it by ear. After all, if all the boring presenters and administrators we've been subjected to were laid end to end, I wouldn't be a bit surprised. * What? Did I say that out loud? Oops. I'll try again. If all the programs and brochures from all the in-services all of us have endured attended over the years were laid end to end, we could walk to the moon and back on them.

. . . the inmates have now taken over the in-service. For once, we're going to have an in-service that's worth attending!!!!!

Let's start with "Ten Brain Tips To Teach. . . and Learn," by Laurie Bartels. Laurie is of the opinion that if our brains are meant for learning, then teachers need to know how to show students how to use those brains for that intended purpose.

Next up: "25 Teachers Who Drastically Changed the World," by Laura Milligan. We all have our favorite teachers, and I'm sure we all hope WE'RE somebody's favorite teacher. But wait, Laura's not finished with us quite yet: Here she is again with "100 Unbelievably Useful Reference Sites You've Never Heard Of." Guess again, though, Laura. I've actually used some of those sites!

I've been reading in many places about innovative teachers who are using the Wii in their classrooms as a teaching tool. Jessica Merritt gives us "50 Ways to Use Wii In Your Library."
According to Jessica, "Libraries are often looking for a way to get the community more involved in the library, and gaming is a great way to do that."

From Suzanne over at Adventures in Daily Living, we get a beautiful essay about how writing and gardening have so much in common, both in the choosing of our plants/words, and how we view a finished essay. Writing instructors (oops, occasionally guilty!) would all do well to heed her advice.

Arun has mixed emotions about what he calls a "safety net." Best of luck, Arun!

From Away We Go at "Where's The Sun," we are told about a threat called "The Axis of Evil in Education," and are reminded that "When you shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you land among the stars."

Bellringers is spending 5 days and 4 nights with 32 teenagers. Find out why by reading "Numbering 32, Summer Workshops, and Jack."

Are you ready for some genuine smiles? Master storyteller Laurie Kendrick has revved up an old chestnut to bring us an absolutely true comparison of modern schooldays to their former selves. The easily offended need not click. Everyone else, sit back and enjoy Laurie's post, "Education in 1958 vs. 2008."

"Tax Breaks for College Students"
gives us information that might be invaluable for those of us who have college-age kids, teach college or high school seniors, or are ourselves in need of some financial help in getting that degree.

John Tenny has put together a compilation of help to all teachers who have ever been or will be . . . "observed." Check out his post on "Self-Directed Professional Growth" at Data-Based Classroom Observations.

Whatever your personal views on diversifying classroom literature might be, we can all benefit from reading "Diversifying the Literary Canon" over at Onward and Upward.

From Education Notes Online comes a post called "Teach For America: The One That Got Away," and all of you should read it.

Seriously? I think all of us should read all of these posts. Whether we agree with everyone here or not, knowledge really is power.

Matthew Ladner, guest-posting on Jay P. Greene's blog, believes that robust reforms, rather than tinkering with the old ways, are what's best for our schools.

Heather Johnson
gives us 6 tips for motivating our students.

has a bone to pick with administrators who still practice social promotion, even when it's against the law.

Over at Horse Sense and Nonsense, Andy Hilbert wonders about whether or not teachers should follow directives they don't personally agree with. Just what constitutes "insubordination?"

Did you ever wonder ". . . How Long Does It Take To Get To Mars?"

Ryan, of I Thought A Think, was thrown out of his administration program, but decided to attend the AWSP/WASA meetings, anyway.

Just exactly what is multiplication, anyway? Is it really just repeated addition? Yes? No? Let's find out what Let's Play Math has to say about it!

Are we teachers who rock, or are we not? I think we are teachers who ROCK. That being the case, let's go visit It's Not All Flowers and Sausages, and get some Malibu rum. What's that? You've already been there? Well, that explains a lot!

So You Want To Teach tells us of his reaction when a comment on this post really got under his skin. Part-time job, indeed! Oh, and then someone made the mistake of telling Mr.Teacher at Learn Me Good that teaching was a part-time job.

This made Mr. Teacher wonder about something else: if David Grey's music is used to torture terrorists, what music should schools use for students in after-school detention?

Oh, and shouldn't your four-year-old be knowledgeable about condoms and lifestyles and the sex act by now? After all, she's almost five!

Mr. Teacher was really on a role today. He wants to know if we've heard the one about the student who was rewarded for using a lot #$%^&*)(*& language on an exam.

Are we ready for a break yet? No? You're taking notes and learning great things? Really? Hmm, maybe teachers need to run their own in-services ALL the time! Order pizza? Sure, why not? Everybody chip in a couple of bucks and we'll have it delivered. We should have thought of this long ago!

Moving right along, then. . . Becky, at Life Without School, wonders what the big deal is about labels. I've often wondered, myself.

NYC Educator reminisces about a student teacher who went a bit too far in promoting his own religious agenda in a classroom. I especially love the Swaggart poster.

Joanne Jacobs is wondering how "meaningful" a required community service project would be. Isn't "required volunteerism" an oxymoron?

At Scenes from the Battleground, Old Andrew deals with a Catch-22 with administrators and email. We've all been there!!!

Knowing how to talk to small children will not merely enrich your life and theirs, it will also give the children a genuine head start in life. Read what Elbows, Knees, Dreams has to say about talking and reading to small children.

Nancy Flanagan
, of Teacher in a Strange Land, wonders what kind of colleges have undergraduate education departments. . . .

Jo Scott-Coe doesn't have time to eat. She also wants to eat all the time. What's a person at the mercy of a bell, to do? Her post "Half-Hour Lunch" at Teaching at Point Blank is a good one.

at The Golden Apple wonders, "What should be the federal government's role in public education?" We've all wondered that, haven't we!

Bathroom break, anyone? More pizza? Coffee? Three Musketeers? Fritos? No?

Really? Keep moving along? And LOOK at all those notes everyone is taking!

Larry Ferlazzo gives us a list of good teacher resources for social justice issues. You never know when you might need something like that.

Over at The English Teacher, Scott Walker continues to dazzle us with his original cartoons. I really hope he puts them in a book soon; they're fabulous!

The Hall Monitor wants to know, who was YOUR favorite teacher, and why?

Melissa B. at The Scholastic Scribe finds more than a little humor when looking closely at an American flag, and advises us to ask Alanis Morissette about the irony of it all.

Bill Ferriter at The Tempered Radical wonders if you find great meaning in your school's mission statement? Because, HE does!

Christine, over at The Thinking Mother, has reviewed the book From Crayons to Condoms.

TweenTeacher.com's Heather Wolpert-Gawron can refute any reason you can try to give her about why schools need to clamp down tightly on students' access to the internet. Some of you might not like her reasons, but I love them.

Wendy Kopp, founder and president of Teach for America, gets a lot of media attention: some good, some not so good. Here is one more opinion about her, and her program.

At What It's Like on the Inside, the Science Goddess asks people to consider three questions: What happens? What matters? What matters most? And then she talks about pencils, pens, and the beauty of paper. I love it.

Ric Murray of Why Do You Ask posts about the qualities that make a person a good teacher. He's got some really good points.

Over at Successful Teaching, Pat reminds us that the journey really is more important than the destination.

Meanwhile, over at Steve Spangler's Blog, Steve is busy blasting the faces out of watermelons and stacking liquids on top of each other.

Now, to interrupt our in-service for the required scolding: This is, of course, NOT directed towards anybody at this meeting, but as it's traditional to scold the entire group for the doings of a handful, here we go.

I received a LOT of entries from people who were merely selling things. I did not include those posts. This surprised me, and frankly, it made me a little angry. You know, kind of like a salesman interrupting your class to try to get you to look at and sign up for a product? The kind who get past the office by giving samples and food to all the secretaries down there? I hate those guys. What nerve.

However, it was the repeated entries with links to places where a student might purchase essays, term papers, and the like, that really made me mad. I think I got almost a dozen entries, all under a different name, for a UK-based pre-written- paper mill. These are disgusting businesses, and they encourage our students to become thieves, because plagiarism is stealing, just as taking money out of the till is stealing. Shame on this business.

I'm not sure which makes me madder: that this business tried to con me into putting it on a list of genuine educational links, or that it thought I would fall for it!

Guess again, ya crooks.

Ahem. I think I hear footsteps coming down the hall, and they sound like they're being made by expensive shoes, so I think the administration is finally going to show up.

In thinking back on all the worthless in-services I've been forced to attend over the years, it sure would have been nice to have had even some of these wonderful teachers, parents, and concerned citizens in charge of them.

I leave you now with two special treats. Two wonderful posts were submitted tonight by people who forgot to send them as attachments and, instead, put them in the body of their e-mail.

However, they were both so good, I'm going to post them here so you can read them, too. They're too good to miss!

This first post is by the lovely Bonnie, who isn't blogging at present but we can always hope!!

My Experience with Home Education in a Nutshell - Pun Intended

Myriad philosophies and approaches surround homeschooling. I speak only from my personal experience of having educated 11 children at home. Although I consider myself a homeschool instructor, my children consider themselves self-taught; this makes me ecstatic. Our eldest is 27 and and our youngest is 9, so our experiment is still ongoing. My beloved husband and I decided to educate our children at home before they were born. He is a mathematician, engineer, and violinist. I am a professional cellist and certified yoga teacher.

Homeschooling a large family has many built-in advantages for parents/teachers and children/students. The family can enjoy studying many subjects together at different levels. Older children can teach their younger siblings, cementing knowledge more firmly into their own noggins while learning the art of patience. We appreciate our children's quirks and try to encourage them to use their gifts and to be disciplined. We like rituals. We dine together. We have tea together. We read together. We hike together. We sail together. We play together. Much learning takes place in our daily interactions.

I believe that less is more for children and that simplicity in a home makes for a better learning environment. Great books, lots of fresh air and exercise, important family responsibilities, the opportunity to help old folks and the needy, and close relationships with family and friends of all ages make for happy scholars. Chess, cribbage and other educational games teach important mathematical principles and good sportsmanship. Less is more regarding toys and screen time. We have no television and spend little time in front of the computer. We read the Bible as a family and think that Bible history is an important subject for any well-rounded scholar. We also think it is important to study other religions and to show respect toward people of other faiths.

I try to emulate my husband's organic, subtle teaching style. Basically, he does what he loves (sailing, hiking, golfing, gardening) or has to do (fixing our old Mercedes-Benzes, designing a sauna, building a fence, making biodiesel fuel) alongside the kiddos, sharing bits of information in a warm, conversational manner.

My place in the scheme of things is to make sure the little ones learn how to read well and know their basic math facts. I believe in letting them learn at their own pace. I read classic literature to them early and often. I include them in cooking, sewing, and cleaning. Even the little ones know how to sweep, wash dishes, make soups and sandwiches, and do laundry. Things move at a slower pace sometimes, but children eventually become competent and confident in these activities.

A well-kept secret among many homeschooling families is that children who read well and understand basic math concepts can teach themselves almost anything. We have a home library of great literature and nonfiction books and our children use self-teaching textbooks for 5th grade math through Pre-Calculus. We are regular visitors at our public library. We take advantage of whatever outside support is edifying and affordable. Presently, because all of my babies are grown, we attend a homeschool center for many wonderful supplementary classes, including Latin, Hands-on-Physics, Musical Theater, Wonderful Whales, and Chautauqua History (a class where the scholars study a famous person in history for an entire year and then dress up and give a presentation as that person). I teach Art History, Music History, Shakespeare for Children, Penmanship, Learning to Read with Tintin Comics, and Yoga at the center, so, when we go in, it is a fun day of learning for all of us! Private lessons are obtained for music study. My husband and I met in our high school string quartet so we try to manage music lessons for everyone.

Many people have concerns about homeschoolers and socialization. It is my opinion that children learn better social skills when they are around all ages and not limited to spending time with only their agemates. Our homeschool center allows different ages in classes. A student can take any math class into which he tests, for instance. Between classes, all ages play together. There are chess matches going on continually during breaks.

Proof in the Pudding:

Our eldest daughter works for a major consulting firm in NYC after a few years of serving as director of a non-profit French organization. She has degrees in French and International Business. She has traveled broadly and her company has sent her to NYU and Harvard Business School for graduate classes. She taught herself French and math until she attended university. She had a full scholarship to ballet school during her high school years and played the part of Clara in the Nutcracker Ballet with a professional company in a major city. She is a great diplomat. She adores her brothers and sisters and they savor her tenderhearted advice.

Our 2nd eldest daughter married an engineer and inventor. They are restoring an old farmhouse on a lake nearby. She didn't read until she was 9 years old. Her first books were
Tale of Two Cities and Little Women. She has a degree in Philosophy. She makes her own clothes and curtains and built her own chimney! She, like me, had her baby at home and is active in trying to keep homebirth a legal option for families.

Our eldest son just received his degree in Sports Management and is already managing a farm league baseball team in a thriving, Western city. This, in spite of the fact that we have never actively participated in organized sports. (We had our own teams covered and I refuse to live my life around a child's athletic pursuits!) Our son is very athletic and had great fun playing intramural sports in college.

Our 3rd eldest daughter works for the National Parks. She is presently in Alaska and loves restoring old lodges, building trails, and hiking. She is especially proud of her flood recovery work at Mt. Rainier. She is a professional singer and recorded Bible school songs and commercial jingles as a young child. When she visits, she regales us in the evenings with songs that my great-grandmother might have sung.

Our 4th eldest daughter entered college at 14 and earned a double degree in Piano Performance and Scandinavian Studies. She has visited Finland twice. Her paternal grandmother is Finnish and she is keen on knowing all she can about her heritage. She paid her way through school by playing the carillon bells, private teaching, and holding a teaching fellowship at a college preparatory music conservatory. She teaches music theory to young musicians in a winsome, engaging manner without patronizing them. You should hear her play Chopin!

Our 2nd eldes son is attending an art institute in the fall. He plays the bass guitar in a mellow and beautiful style. When we interviewed at the college, he was asked what he pictured himself doing in 20 years. He said, "I see myself sitting at a desk, doing work that I love and providing for my family, just like my dad."

Our 3rd eldest son is a scholar/athlete and hopes to play sports in college. He is the wrestling team captain and also letters in football on our local high school teams. He is a student government leader and has many close friends.

Homeschoolers in our area can participate in certain activities at their local public schools without being part of what I consider to be an unhealthy culture. (prison-like, adult-led learning, surrounded by negative peer pressure and involving poor curriculum)

Snapshots of our younger children at this moment: Our teenage daughter is practicing her jazz fiddle and independently making her way through a jazz theory book. She is patiently teaching me to improvise. She is attending college as an early entrance student in the fall. Our state pays for two years of community college to those that test into this program.

Our teenage son is mowing the neighbor's lawn. He is working through Algebra 2 this summer on his own. He reads every history book he can get his hands on and is a Greek and Roman scholar. His favorite artists are from the Hudson River School.

Our 11 year old wants to be a veterinarian. He has his own neighborhood pet-sitting business. Grownups love to talk with him and he enjoys visiting with old folks. He likes to study the periodic table and enjoys calling things by their main element. For instance, he calls bananas "K" because that is the symbol for potassium.

Our youngest daughter is illustrating her own book on Greek mythology this summer. She writes about the gods and goddesses and then draws beautiful pictures to accompany her words.

We think that vibrant learning can take place outside of a classroom setting. We are happy to always be learning new things. For instance, I learned how to hold a yoga headstand
in the middle of a room at the same time my grandson was learning to walk a few months ago.

Homeschooling is a great way to enjoy one's family and it is not as difficult as one might imagine. Take joy! Be open to learning your whole life long!

This last post is by Gene Maudlin - the wonderful and hilarious Hoss, who makes us laugh while he makes us think.

Where Does '(this) Go?

Once upon a time, somebody invented these things known as !@#$%^&*'()_+. Also: \|]}[{+__))(*&^%$#@! All very useful, if one could understand with which and what to do them with. Most spurious of the lot is the ', and where to put it.

("Where the sun don’t' shine!" I can hear you all, and your effort is appreciated.)

For instance: Banana's for Sale or Rent. One could assume that the purveyor has one (1) banana for sale. Or, one could assume that the apostrophe is unnecessary, in the event that there are more that one banana' for sale. In that case, the phrase "bananas" might work. Or not.

Naturally, there is always theirs'. Or maybe it is their's. It doesn't matter much, for it (') does not take much space.

The important thing is that it is understood to be singular and/or plural. Theirs', that is. Or their's. Or mine.

Is it "For Heavens sake, for Heavens' sake, or for heaven's sake"? Perhaps it is just sake (sah'-key)?

Eggs for Sale. Or maybe egg's ON sale. And/or egg's available.

Talk about your baby, or babies: Little ones. Little one's. Little ones' onesies.

Its a fright. Its a banana. Wronged on both cheeks.

Its a bad reading on the breathalyzer. Isn't its?'

An ' can be used as a warning that an "s" is about to show up, as in "I have hand grips'es for sale." "I like mayonnai'se."

Use the ' frequently. You are a's apt to get it right as' to get it wrong.


Next week's Carnival of Education will be hosted by Steve Spangler Science, which is one of my very favorite websites! You may send your posts directly to his office at jane@stevespangler.com, or via the handy Carnival of Education form. Oh, and by the way? Steve Spangler will be on "Ellen" this coming Thursday!

I think the principals are here now. Would someone please bolt the door? We're working in here!

Thank you for allowing me to host the esteemed Carnival of Education. It's been an honor. I hope I have included everyone who submitted an educational article. If I have left you out, please contact me at once and I'll make it right. I've been left out many times, and it hurts!

* Thank you, Dorothy Parker

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:25 AM | |

Monday, July 07, 2008

Marky Mark Is Old

During the break today, my students were discussing the upcoming movie version of "The Lovely Bones." I won't be watching it, because I read the book and it upset me terribly. It was well-written and excellent; it was the subject matter that disturbed me. I don't "do" the torture and murder of children, and I think all child molesters should be executed without a last meal. Oh, and I don't mind if it hurts them, either. In fact, I think it should, and I hope it does. (The link contains spoilers, so if you plan to read the book or watch the film and don't want to know how it ends, you've been warned.)

That being said, the subject matter of the movie wasn't actually what disturbed me today. Rather, it was overhearing this conversation:

Student 1: The mom is played by the mom in all those "Mummy" movies.
Student 2: The grandmother is played by the mom in "Little Women."
Student 3: Guess who's playing the dad: Mark Wahlberg!
Student 1: Yeah, Mark Wahlberg is pretty HOT - for an old guy.

Mark Wahlberg was born in 1971. My students consider him an old guy.

I was dragging when I got home, partly from the torrential rain and partly because so many students were absent today and partly because I didn't have any money for Diet Coke and mostly partly from the realization that if Mark Wahlberg is old, I must be. . . . never mind.

And then I read Jeff's post.

Cheered me right up, it did.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:47 PM | |

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Before You Flush, Send Me Your Contribution!

Every week, I recommend that all of you click over to the Carnival of Education, because if we don't keep up on what's going on in our schools, how can we form a viable opinion? This applies to pretty much everything, in fact: them what ain't in the know, needs to shut up. We must all stay in the know! And what better way to keep informed about our children's education, ie our nation's future, than to read what concerned educators and parents have to say?

Ahem. I am, therefore, more than proud to announce that this week, the Carnival of Education will be hosted right here at Scheiss Weekly. Did I mention that I am proud? I am sooo proud. I consider being allowed to host the Carnival of Education to be a great privilege and honor.

I would also like to invite you all to contribute a post to this week's Carnival of Education! Whether you are a public, private, post-grad, or homeschooling instructor, a citizen, a neighbor, a mean old coot who doesn't return the baseballs that fall into your yard, or a parent (and all parents are teachers!), I would love to feature as many articles as possible from all kinds of people everywhere.

Please get your contribution to me by Tuesday, July 8, at 6:00 p.m. The Carnival will be published early Wednesday morning, July 9. You can email your contribution to me, as an attachment, at: MamacitaG@gmail.com

I hope lots of you send me your articles! I look forward to getting them! Thank you all, in advance!

Now, back to writing and listening to a very interesting random playlist. . . .

1. Petra Berger - Lonely Without You
2. The Puppini Sisters - Heart of Glass
3. The King's Singers - Marry A Woman Uglier Than You
4. Michael Penn - High Time
5. Five For Fighting - Easy Tonight
6. Josh Radin - Don't Look Away
7. Norah Jones - Love Me Tender
8. Leah Andreone - Lamentation
9. Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah
10. Gomez - How We Operate
11. Ben Folds - Golden Slumbers
12. Cake - Frank Sinatra
13. Eva Cassidy - Autumn Leaves
14. A Night on Bald Mountain (Moussorgsky/Mussorgsky/pick one) - Tomita
15. Nick Drake - The Cello Song
16. Alessandro Safina - Luna
17. Savatage - Desiree (acoustic piano version)
18. James Taylor, Art Garfunkel, & Paul Simon - What A Wonderful World
19. Cowboy Bebop - Walk In The Rain
20. DaVinci's Notebook - Stray Cat Strut

I work better with music. I work best with an odd eclectic mix. I can't work at all in silence.

Word of advice: if your family has been feasting on freshly-picked blackberries and blueberries as if there were no tomorrow, don't look down into the bowl before you flush. It will just frighten you unnecessarily.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:30 PM | |

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Quotation Saturday

Will it ever stop raining in southern Indiana? I don't know yet.

The only thing I'm sure of at all right now is that it's another Quotation Saturday!

Here we go:

1. "Do not spoil what you have by desiring which you have not; but remember that what you have now was once among the things you only hoped for." --Epicurus

2. "Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved." --W.J. Bryan

3. "Lots of folks confuse bad management with destiny." --Kin Hubbard

4. "Free and fair discussion will ever be found the firmest friend to truth." --George Campbell

5. "The true test of character is. . . how we behave when we don't know what to do." --John Holt

6. "It takes as much courage to have tried and failed as it does to have tried and succeeded." --Anne Morrow Lindburgh

7. "Men like conventions because men make them." --G. B. Shaw

8. "There is truth in the high opinion that insofar as a man conforms, he ceases to exist." --Max Eastman

9. "Conventionality has slain the souls of more men and women than drink or immorality." G.B. Burgin

10. "Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead." --Aldous Huxley

11. "They have a right to censure that have a heart to help; the rest is cruelty, not justice." -- William Penn

12. "Coquetry is an art of the intellect; flirtation is a function of the senses." --Don Marquis

13. "I must have been an insufferable child; all children are." --G.B. Shaw

14. "Don't stay away from church because there are so my hypocrites. There's always room for one more." --A.R. Adams

15. "Children can stand vast amounts of sternness. They rather expect to be wrong and are quite used to being punished. It is injustice, inequity, and inconsistency that kill them." --Father Robert Capon

16. "A good discussion increases the dimensions of everyone who takes part." --Randolph Silliman Bourne

17. "A sound discretion is not so much indicated by never making a mistake, as by never repeating it." --Christian Nestell Bovie

18. "There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in." --Graham Greene

19. "My experience. . . has been that when things are non-controversial, beautifully coordinated, and all the rest, it must be that there is not much going on." --JFK

20. "Culture is what your butcher would have if he were a surgeon." --Mary Pettibone Poole

21. "He is a modest little man who has a good deal to be modest about." --Winston Churchill

22. "Every murderer is probably somebody's old friend." --Agatha Christie

23. "Men. . . love their martyrs and worship those whom they have tortured to death. . . ." --Dostoyevsky

24. "Grownups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them." --Antoine De Saint-Exupery

25. "One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man." --Elbert Hubbard

26. "A good man dies when a boy goes wrong." Boys' Ranch Roundup, 1966

27. "Money will buy a pretty good dog, but it won't buy the wag of his tail." --Josh Billings

28. "In life, as in chess, forethought wins." --Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton

29. "No man ever became great or good except through many and great mistakes." --William Gladstone

30. "In order for you to profit from your mistakes, you have to get out and make some." --Anon

31. "Laughter is much more important than applause. Applause is almost a duty. Laughter is a reward." --Carol Channing

32. "That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all of your life, but in a new way." --Doris Lessig

33. "Learning is the art of knowing how to use common sense to advantage." --Josh Billings

34. "The great use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts it." --William James

35. "To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it." --Mother Teresa

36. "Two persons who love each other are in a place more holy than the interior of a church." --William Lyon Phelps

37. "One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time." --Andre Gide

38. "Life isn't a matter of milestones but of moments." --Rose Kennedy

39. "The difference between liberty and liberties is as great as between God and gods." --Ludwig Bourne

40. "If your luck isn't what it should be, write a 'p' in front of it and try again." --Bob Edwards

41. "What loneliness is more lonely than distrust?" --George Eliot

42. "It is not the function of our Government to keep the citizens from falling into error; it is the function of the citizens to keep the Government from falling into error." --Robert N. Jackson

43. "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." --Margaret Mead

44. "The character that needs law to mend it, is hardly worth the tinkering." --Anon

45. "I can not and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions." --Lillian Hellman

46. "The first requisite of a good citizen in this republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his weight." --T. Roosevelt

47. "She was a town & country soprano of the kind often used for augmenting grief at a funeral." --George Ade

48. "Blaming the wolf would not help the sheep much. The sheep must learn not to fall into the clutches of the wolf." --Ghandi

49. "Stupidity is an elemental force for which no earthquake is a match." --Karl Kraus

50. "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am swept off my feet and rendered helpless by a witty turn of phrase. When I am finally able to get up again, I'm smarter, and nicer, and braver, and more. . . satisfied. . . than ever before. What do I mean by that? A lot of things. Including THAT.

The more words we know, the more we are able to understand, and the better our ability to communicate. When Malcolm X went to prison, he thought he was pretty smart. He was horrified to learn that he was merely street-smart, and that a simple book was beyond him because he didn't have the vocabulary to understand it. He obtained a dictionary, and painstakingly, because his writing skills were low, too, began to copy every single page, including the keys below, and the guide words above. He found that the excellent memory that had sustained him on the streets worked with words, as well. He dreamed of words at night. He thought of words while eating and working. He lay in his cell at night and thought about words. A couple of months after he had begun copying, he again picked up a book and attempted to understand it. This time, he could!

"In my slow, painstaking, ragged handwriting, I copied into my tablet everything printed on that first page, down to the punctuation marks. I believe it took me a day. Then aloud, I read back, to myself, everything I'd written on the tablet. . . . I woke up the next morning, thinking about those words — immensely proud to realize that not only had I written so much at one time, but I'd written words that I never knew were in the world. . . No university would ask any student to devour literature as I did when this new world opened to me, of being able to read and understand. . .Months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I had never been so truly free in my life." --Malcolm X

Oh, my dears, the WORDS, the magical, powerful words. . . . By choosing one over the other, we change our lives, and by changing our lives, we change the world.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:05 AM | |


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