Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Steve Spangler: AWESOMEMy latest internet obsession is Steve Spangler, the science guy who introduced that awesome Mentos/Diet Coke geyser experiment to the world. I am also seriously addicted to internet contests, and over on Steve Spangler Science, there is a fun contest going on.
Those of you with children - get over there RIGHT NOW and click on every single link. Sign up for the "Experiment of the Week" - it's FREE. Make a comment and enter the contest!
I am so all over the "free." All OVER it, I'm telling you.
When I was a little kid, I used to mix together all kinds of things in the kitchen, just to see what would happen. I was particularly fond of anything that had to do with baking powder and food coloring.
Steve Spangler has hundreds of experiments that
Kids love to make messes, blow things up, pop things across a room, stick their hands up to the elbows in goopy, swirly glow-in-the-dark goo, and make loud noises. Here's your chance to encourage just such conduct, only with educational objectives as your goal.
Ah, obsessions. Steve Spangler, won't you be mine? Sigh.
Check him out. He's fantastic.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 8:31 PM | |
Monday, April 28, 2008
Bad Grammar and a Couple of Naughty Words, All Justified
Oh, good! Jeff's blogging again! High time, cuz.
Hoosiers, don't forget to take your ID's with you to the polls. Indiana people don't want no corpses or people too stupid to get an ID voting in OUR state. Real people only, please.
Color me cruel - it won't be the first time - but I think ALL states should require a legal ID for anyone who tries to cast a vote. A valid, non-expired, legal ID with a picture on it that looks like you, thass right, you done heard me. If the pollworker is your mother, she should still ask to see your ID. No exceptions; that ain't fair.
I need a legal ID to write a check at Domino's, and voting is a lot more important than buying a pizza.
I do not consider requiring all voters to have identification to be any kind of infringement on my rights. I DO consider it an infringement on my rights if people who are too damn stupid to piss in a boot are allowed to vote with no questions asked.
That's how a lot of these guys get into office, you know. Yup, that's how they getcha.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:46 PM | |
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Butter and Standardized TestsI ran into a former middle school student in a store yesterday. I recognized him right away, in spite of the beard, the wife, and the three little kids, but for the first time, I couldn't remember a student's name. This concerns me.
My mind's eye could see him with the years stripped away, and I could remember where he sat and who sat on either side of him. I could remember things he did and said in class, and I could remember his handwriting and where he liked to sit in the cafeteria. I couldn't, however, remember his name.
He said to me, "I bet you don't remember me!" And I replied, "Of COURSE I remember you." Because I did, even if his name was gone from my brain.
He said to me, "I will always remember that one thing we did in your class."
I replied, "And which thing is that?"
"Remember when you read that olden-days book to us and they were always eating and making stuff from scratch, and you taught us how to make stuff? What I remember most was the butter. My kids and I love to make butter, just like you showed us in 8th grade."
The book was Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy. It was perfect for a low-ability class of 37 14-to-17 year old students, all boys, who hated reading and honestly couldn't see any connection between something in a book and the outdoors/ hunting/farming/mechanic/taxidermy/4H/cattle-raising lives most of them were already considered experts in.
It was English class, but we cooked, and we whittled (GASP, how politically INCORRECT!) and we made sourdough starter and later we made bread with it, and we made pies and jerky and boiled candy (it's just fudge or taffy) and jam. And about once a week, we made butter to go with our bread. I had a glass churn, but that was too complicated so we poured the cream into a big Tupperware thing and passed it all around the class and the boys shook it while listening to me read. I would read until the butter 'came,' and then the boys sprang into action. They poured off the buttermilk and squeezed the butter until it stopped weeping. They sprinkled just a little salt into the butter and kneaded it in. Then they all washed their hands and whoever's turn it was that day sliced the bread and they all put napkins in their shirt collars and tucked in. We used KNIVES to slice the bread and to spread the butter. Heavens to BETSY.
I know that many of them were enthusiastic about this book because of the food, and they loved the food because all teenage boys love food, and also because these particular teenage boys were seriously hungry.
I loved those Laura Ingalls Wilder units. Other teachers criticized them because watching sourdough rise, and making butter, weren't proper English lessons.
I maintained, and I still maintain, that anything we as teachers or parents do that makes learning come alive is a proper English lesson. Science lesson. History lesson. Math lesson. Life lesson.
I was sad when the principal forbade me to do this kind of thing any more. There really wasn't time, anyway, what with all the ISTEP prep the boys needed to do. That was more important in the long run, right?
I ran into a grown man in a store yesterday who remembered those lessons and did them with his own children.
I'm sure he remembers and does the lessons required for ISTEP, too.
But I know for a fact that he remembers the butter.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:44 PM | |
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Two Things, Both AwesomeThe new Carnival of Education is up, over at the fabulous Education Wonks. Go check it out. If you don't, you won't know what's happening in the world of education, and if you don't keep up, you forfeit all whining rights. It's like voting. If you choose not to participate, shut up.
I don't know how many of you are familiar with Young@Heart, but those of you who are already know how wonderful they are, and those of you who are seeing them here for the first time will know in a few minutes.
They have affected me. Their effect is, that they have affected me. Is it because they're so good, or because they're so old and it's almost a novelty act, or is it because I'm almost there myself? I don't know. I only know that I'd sell a kidney to be this cool when I'm that old, and that I have been affected.
Affected how, exactly? I don't know.
I only know that I love to watch them, and they have changed me somehow.
And finally. . . .
I bet you've been affected, too.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 4:03 PM | |
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Baby, You Can Drive My CarI envy people who can just jump into the car and go somewhere complicated * without breaking out in a cold sweat of horror at the thought of trying to read road signs and maps and remembering where to turn and comprehending that there is a stop sign or a red light or a one-way street or a stopped vehicle directly in front of me, etc. etc. etc.
Let's just say that I am not a navigator. We might also say that I am not a happy driver. My vision is so bad I can't read the signs until it's too late, and the panic factor sets in and handicaps me even in the few driving skills I do have.
Nope. See my name on all those passenger seats? That's where I like to sit. It's not because I'm lazy, or that I like to see YOU do all the work. It's because when I get behind the wheel in an unfamiliar place and am required to navigate, I die a little inside, and would almost rather just pull into the first parking lot I see and sit there, in the car, for the rest of my life, rather than take to the road again.
If you are passing by a parking lot any time soon, and happen to notice a car parked a good foot from the curb, or
* When I say "somewhere complicated," what I am really saying is "anyplace I don't already know by heart."
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 10:55 PM | |
Monday, April 21, 2008
You Kids Sit Still and BehaveWhen I was a kid, my family used to drive down to Alabama almost every summer. We had relatives down there, and there would be canvas army cots all over the place at night. My Alabama cousins were many years older, and I thought they were adults, I really did. Cool, stylish, trendy adults. I think the cousin closest in years to me might have been twelve.
It is the trip itself that I want to talk about tonight. Or, rather, this morning. And traveling peripherals.
This was before the time of the interstate highway, and the drive took us through every little town, middle-sized town, and city in southern Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and half of Alabama. We stopped at the occasional little local restaurant, because this was also before the day of the big chain restaurants. This meant, of course, that most of the time the food was actually good. Our car did not have air conditioning, which meant that we rode with all the windows down. It also meant that Dad had a very sunburned left arm.
There was no such thing as carseats for babies or toddlers, unless you counted those little canvas seats that hooked over the back of the front seat, and when we were on vacation, the car was too full for one of those. There were no seatbelts, either. Two parents, four kids, and a grandmother in one '59 Chevy made a pretty full load.
There was no stereo in the car, either. Not even a radio.
Dad was in charge, and we stopped when HE wanted to stop. And if we needed him to stop, it was of vital importance that we never tell him we needed to stop. It made him mad, and he would drive even farther just to demonstrate that he was in charge. This never bothered me, because I could, even as a small child, "hold it" for hours on end, but it pretty much killed my Other Sister, who generally needed to pee every twenty minutes. Fifteen minutes from our house and she was not only asking if we were there yet, she was already asking to go to the bathroom.
Hub and I could never afford to take our children on a real vacation until the summer between their 3rd and 5th grade. That year, we borrowed my parents' van, mortgaged our financial future for NINE YEARS with a new Discover Card, and went to Disney World.
That's right; it took nine years to pay off Discover. NEVER USE THIS CARD. It has the highest interest in the universe. But I digress.
My point is, all my father and mother had to do to maintain almost perfect order in a vehicle was to turn around and say "You kids sit still and behave." And we did. We weren't buckled in, so sitting still took some real effort, but disobeying our parents was far worse than sitting still. We looked out the windows, and counted cows, and sang, and played word games, and napped. We ate only when Dad stopped at a restaurant, although we did travel with a bushel of fresh peaches; we loved to watch dad toss the pits out of his window.
On that trip to Disney World with my own kids, all we had to do was say "Sit still and behave." and they behaved. We didn't travel with toys, or vcr's. We looked out the windows and counted cows and sang and played games. Sometimes, the kids napped. Really, the only differences between our trip and my parents' trip were the seat belts, the cooler of fruit, and the fact that we usually stopped when the children said they needed to stop.
Here is what I do not understand at all, not one single little tiny bit: why do modern parents supply their vehicles - and thus their children - with all the comforts of home? Why do families need movies, and toys, and a constant supply of snacks, for a road trip? Why do parents nowadays allow their children to dictate when they stop and where? Why don't parents tell their kids to look out the windows, count the cows, play word games, and sing?
My parents talked to us when we were on the road. A lot of modern parents couldn't talk to their kids if they wanted to, because the kids are watching Disney in the back of the minivan.
Modern kids couldn't tell you about the scenery because they never look at it. They demand the same comforts of a vehicle that they demand at home: television, toys, food, drinks, and their own way.
A lot of modern parents would gasp in horror if they heard another parent say "You kids sit still and behave yourselves."
When did it happen that road trips became such a big deal? Tons of toys. Baskets and boxes of juiceboxes and graham crackers and cheese and bottled water. Always with the water. I don't think most people these days have ever been really thirsty because they're never without a bottle of water.
We never had drinks in the car. We drank when we stopped. We knew what it felt like to be genuinely thirsty and we appreciated those rare drinks very much. There were no sticky spills and no crumbs or wrappers in my parents' car.
When we stopped to eat, we parked and went inside. No food or drinks came back outside with us. We ate and drank in the restaurant. And we appreciated it, for we were hungry. After we ate, we weren't hungry and didn't need any snacks or drinks "for the road."
What's the matter with people these days? Let your kids get thirsty. Let them get hungry. Don't anticipate EVERYTHING because when you do, they don't appreciate what they get when they get it.
If they cry or scream for food or toys, etc, tell them to look out the window, and count the cows, and see who can be first to find a blue house. You might also practice turning around and saying, "You kids sit still and behave."
And if they don't obey you, you've got a far bigger problem than you might think.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:30 AM | |
Sunday, April 20, 2008
He that is good for making excuses, is seldom good for anything else. --Benjamin FranklinDear Parents, Siblings, Friends, Neighbors, Spouses, Fiancees, and Ex-Fiancees of my students:
While I appreciate the concern all of you feel, from time to time, about the grades, attendance, and overall class status of the students in question, please allow me to remind you that the law prohibits me from giving you the slightest detail of his/her standing in my class.
No, I cannot tell you whether or not a student was present on any given day.
No, I cannot tell you whether or not a student is passing or failing.
No, I cannot tell you what assignments a student is missing, and even if I could it wouldn't matter because at the college level, there are no make-ups.
No, I cannot give you the assignment due next Monday.
I can give this information only to the student himself/herself, and I never do that over the phone because how, then, would I know it's not YOU instead of the student?
Thanks for asking.
P.S. Yes, I understand that you are paying all of this student's fees, tuition, and books, but I still can't tell you.
P. P.S. I work really hard to make my lessons as interesting and memorable as I possibly can, but if a student is not there, how can he/she benefit from it? Yes, we covered Chapter 28, but we did far, far more than that. I guess you had to be there. . . .
80% of success is showing up. --Woody Allen (not that he is anybody to imitate!) (Ick factor: 99.9%)
Chance is always powerful. Let your hook be always cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish. -Ovid
Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. --Einstein
You can buy people's time; you can buy their physical presence at a given place; you can even buy a measured number of their skilled muscular motions per hour. But you cannot buy enthusiasm. You cannot buy loyalty. You cannot buy the devotion of hearts, minds, or souls. You must earn these. --Clarence Francis
Apparently a new galaxy is being formed or something. But what it is, they have discovered a huge cloud of dust there. And scientists believe if they could look and see under the dust, they would find an enormous exercise bicycle. --Bill Maher
It is the essence of our educational system that whatever part of the institution is not run by the inmates is reserved for the parents of the inmates. --Murray Kempton
We create our fate every day. . . most of the ills we suffer from are directly traceable to our own behavior. --Henry Miller
Your future depends on many things, but mostly on you. --Frank Tyger
I can't choose how I feel, but I can choose what I do about it. --Andy Rooney
Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other, and scarce in that; for it is true: we may give advice, but we cannot give conduct. --Benjamin Franklin
He that is good for making excuses, is seldom good for anything else. --Benjamin Franklin
It is a wretched taste to be gratified with mediocrity when the excellence lies before us. --Isaac D'Israeli
A fool has no dialogue within himself; the first thought carries him without the reply of a second. --Lord Halifax
There are more fools than knaves int he world, else the knaves would not have enough to live upon. --Samuel Butler
Facing it - always facing it - that's the way to get through. Face it! --Joseph Conrad
The reason most people fail instead of succeed is that they trade what they want most for what they want at the moment. --Anon.
The world can never nail down genius, but it can crucify it. --Puzant Kevork Thomajan
When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign: that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. --Jonathan Swift
Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped. --Elbert Hubbard
Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius. -- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
No generalization is wholly true, not even this one. --Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
There is no self-made man. You will reach your goals only with the help of others. --George Shinn
Good and bad men are each less so than they seem. --Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Though we speak with the tongues of men and angels, and give our bodies to be burned. . . if we are irritable or hard to live with, it all counts for nothing. --Anon
People with limited imaginations find it hard to imagine that anyone else has an imagination. Therefore, they must think that everything they read in some way happened. --John Irving
In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different. --Coco Chanel
Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon. --Susan Ertz
To do easily what's difficult for others is the mark of talent. To do what is impossible for talent is the mark of genius. --Frederic Amiel
Genius ain't anything more than elegant common sense. --Josh Billings.
The greatest sin in the world is ignorance in motion. --Jan Aird
Help us, God, and give us light so that we don't stand in our own way; let us do from morning till night what should be done; and give us clear ideas of the consequences of our actions. --Goethe
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 4:17 PM | |
Friday, April 18, 2008
Rooney Ain't The Only One Sh, Sh, Shakin'I didn't need an alarm clock to wake me up this morning.
How coincidental that I lectured my students on the New Madrid Fault Line just last week, and emphasized to them for the five billionth time that nothing important exists only within the four walls of a classroom, after which a young man scoffed at this "useless information" and asked me, for the seventy-billionth time in my career, why he had to learn all this stupid stuff.
I just KNOW that his first thought this morning was
We're all okay here, and thank you all so much for asking. I appreciate your concern, and I hope all of you are okay, too.
P.S. The title? It's a song; didn't you know? ". . . it's not normal, but what is normal. . . ?"
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:23 AM | |
Thursday, April 17, 2008
I Wish I Had Known My Grandmother
This is my maternal grandmother, holding my mother's older sister, who is my Cousin C's mother.
Mom told me that Mamaw was visiting one of her sisters in Indianapolis, and they took her to a studio to have the baby's picture taken. When the photographer saw how young the baby was, he told Mamaw that she would have to hold her.
Mamaw protested that she wasn't dressed or groomed to have her picture taken, but finally gave in and did it.
None of us cousins ever knew our grandmother, not really. She had a stroke when she was in her forties and after that, she was, well, perhaps "barking mad" is a bit extreme, but she certainly wasn't herself. The strong, smart woman she really was, was gone: the woman who refused to allow her militant dictatorial mother-in-law to name HER babies as the old woman had all her other grandchildren; the resourceful, creative woman who took her children berry-picking and "let" them eat cobbler for dinner when in fact she was at desperation's door because there was no food in the house and the berry-picking was the only way to get some kind of food; the determined, hardworking woman who took care of four kids all by herself during the week and saw her railroading husband (no, not THAT kind of railroading!) only on weekends; the laughing, intelligent woman who could recite all kinds of poetry; and, a little after the stroke, with one of her last few lucid moments, the brave woman who told my father to take my mother out of the house and marry her before mom sacrificed herself and stayed single to take care of her little brothers because it was obvious that Mamaw's stroke had taken her intellect and social graces and flushed them down the toilet. . . this is the part of Mamaw none of us cousins ever knew.
However, the woman who managed to say whatever she wanted to say, no matter how bizarre her grammar had become, who managed to hold herself and her house together when her husband was crushed by a falling house, and who could recite the alphabet backwards to make her grandchildren laugh, the funny woman who almost choked to death laughing whenever she heard Mahalia Jackson sing when Channel Four signed off at midnight (many apologies to Mahalia Jackson fans; to Mamaw, her singing just seemed funny.) the kind woman who asked C and me every Saturday morning, "Carol, Janie, breakfast what?" and then fixed it for us. . . we knew this woman well. We stayed with her every weekend we could, mostly because we were largely unsupervised and could do anything we wanted, and partly because I think we knew, even in our unbridled running around the neighborhood and staying up after midnight, and watching forbidden scary movies, and fixing french fries for every meal, and poking fun at Mamaw's O/C compulsions to walk around and touch everything in a room, that if push came to shove, Mamaw would somehow take care of us in spite of that stroke. The woman she really was, was still in there somewhere.
I think she looks beautiful in that picture. I wish I could have known that woman. Everybody says she was fantastic.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:08 PM | |
Oh Dear. That Might Be My Nasty Side Showing Again.I am feeling very petty today. No, not pretty, PETTY.
This will be a very petty rant. I recognize it for its inherent pettiness and I am still upset enough to go ahead and let my pettiness show.
Bear with me, for I am very, very petty today.
I fully understand that I do not own my name; millions of other parents gave their daughters the same name; they did so before I was born and they're still doing so because I have, if I may say so, a pretty cool name. Nobody is responsible for the name on his/her birth certificate. That name was not our choice.
Other names, in our lives, ARE chosen. And when one chooses a name to be known by, one should be careful.
When one wishes to have an online identity, one tends to be rather possessive of the name one CHOOSES to be known as. Our online, internet, blog-names are choices we make, and as with all choices, care should be taken.
In the beginning, the Blogosphere was sparsely populated, and any name one chose was probably the ONLY name of that kind "out there." However, the Blogosphere has now Big Banged, and there are lots of us "out there," and in order for the Blogosphere to maintain individual identity for its inhabitants, it's extremely important for the new neighbors to. . . DO A LITTLE RESEARCH BEFORE CHOOSING AN IDENTIFYING INTERNET NAME, BECAUSE WHEN YOU DON'T CHECK IT OUT FIRST, YOU MIGHT CHOOSE A NAME FOR YOURSELF THAT SOMEONE ELSE HAS ALREADY ESTABLISHED HIMSELF/HERSELF WITH . . . and that creates confusion and hard feelings.
Did I mention the hard feelings?
Yes, you can choose any name you want, to sign your posts with. Sigh. Use Dooce's name, or Michele's, or Siggy's, or MommaK's, or Hoss's, or Monty's, or Fausta's, or Suburban Turmoil's, Kenju's, or Muzik's, or Cary Grant's, or Popeye's, or Little Lulu's, or Herman the Hermit's, . . . but you can bet people won't appreciate it, and you can also bet that your neighbors in the Blogosphere will think you're a complete and total tool for A. not doing your homework first and discovering that HELLO, these names are already in use! and B. not realizing that such things are simply NOT DONE. At least, they're not done by the established Blogosphere.
Please, Newbies, before you start posting and commenting using names that someone else has already built a following with, do some simple research first. Google it. If it comes up, choose something else. Please.
It's not pleasant when one starts to get email and Google Alerts, etc, for posts one hasn't made and knows nothing about. It's also extremely unpleasant when I see my Blogosphere Name in the comments of other blogs, because until one clicks the link, it would appear to be MY comment. Yes, I capitalize "Blogosphere Name." It's that important to me.
Because it's my name in this neighborhood. You newbies, with your brand-new blogs*, who decided you wanted to blog under the name "Mamacita," there's no law against it. There's nothing I can do. It's a generic word. It's up for grabs. It's not copyrighted, nor can it be, because it's just a word, like "mother" or "auntie" or "sister" or "papa-san" or "sweet petunia" or "amazing lack of credibility or creativity." Pick any name you like. There's nothing anybody can do about it. There's nothing I can do about it.
Except maybe give you these few pieces of advice, the main one being, "Get your own damn blog- name and don't use someone else's!"
People work hard to establish themselves under a certain name. It's not nice to elbow oneself in and try to blog using a name that someone else is already associated with.
I do not for one moment believe that any of the recent Mamacitas chose this name out of malice or anything remotely such. I think they all just didn't know any better. They liked the sound of it, or that's what they're called at home, or it just seemed cool, whatever.
But I do believe that the days of assuming that on the internet, one can choose to be whatever or whoever one wishes to be, are over; there are far too many of us living here now, and we prefer not to get someone else's email, or to be mistaken for someone else because that someone else has chosen to use an already-established name.
I have blogged about this issue before, back when it was still kind of funny; but after getting that last batch of Google Alerts about "myself," I'm not laughing any more. I'm actually really pissed.
How pissed am I? You really don't want to know.
Let's just say that when my students try to claim or pass off something as their own when in fact it is actually associated with someone else, I fail them.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
*By "brand-new blog" I am referring to any blog less than four years old.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:15 PM | |
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
I Don't Want To Fall Asleep. I Don't Want To Miss A Thing.When my Other Sister and I were about fourteen and fifteen years old, more or less, Mom and Dad took us all to the Cincinnati Zoo. We stayed in a downtown hotel, and Other and I had our own room. My brother and Tumorless stayed in the room with Mom and Dad.
That afternoon, Dad gave O.S. and me TEN DOLLARS APIECE and turned us loose in downtown Cincinnati. I can't speak for my sister, but I was so surprised at the permission and so blown away by that much money that I was almost in shock as we began walking around the city, looking in the big windows and gawking like the small-town tourist-girls that we so sadly were. I don't remember if I bought anything, but I remember watching my sister try on culotte-dresses, which were all the rage back then. I remember looking at her and thinking how pretty she was, and how nice she looked in the white culotte dress she finally chose. I can remember thinking - possibly for the first time, because I was a strange and moody kid and usually so lost in books that real life annoyed me - that she wasn't merely a slightly younger sister whose sole purpose on this earth was to bother me, but that she was a person in her own right, and she was beautiful and smart and was going to make a positive difference in the world. I watched her turn in the many-faceted mirror and every view of her was beautiful.
When we got home, I took her picture, as she stood in front of our house wearing her white dress. I'd post it here, but O.S. values her privacy.
I'm still cleaning up Mom's old photographs; this picture was one of them, tonight. It brought back a lot of memories. All of the pictures are bringing back memories, but the picture of my Other Sister, so young and pretty and smiling, in her new white dress that was purchased in the Big City while two young teens were on their own for a few hours and trusted with what was, to us, an incredible amount of money, made me smile, and wish she lived closer.
This trip was also the only time in my entire life that I've had my own hotel room. Well, shared with someone other than a parent or husband, that is. It's also the only time I've ever explored a city without an adult pretty much holding my hand and telling me when it's okay to cross the street. Seriously, you all have NO IDEA how provincial and small-town and backward I really am. I can face rooms full of needy students and I can give them what for and I can lecture to huge groups, and discuss, and I can stand my ground with nonsense and entitlement issues, and I can bustle around in a kitchen full of people and I can go to conventions and seminars and give demonstrations and talk to total strangers, and I pretty much know exactly what to do when people NEED me, but when I'm faced with meeting people I'm not working with. . . people who don't really need me. . . . people I can't do anything for, work-wise. . . people I hope will, well, um, love me and want to hang out and be friends. . . I'm at a total loss sometimes.
I'm looking forward to BlogHer for many reasons, and one of them is that while I am there, I'll be working - and it's so easy to relax and meet and talk to people when I'm working because, um, they HAVE to talk to me because they will need me - and while I am there, I'll also be on a panel - and it's so much easier to talk and relax when I have a defined purpose - but most of all? Most of all?
I love BlogHer because so many people I've read and loved and, okay, yes, KNOWN, for several years now will be there, and I'm going to try to stand up straight, take a deep breath, and approach them without melting into a bubbly mass of insecurity.
I've made two good starts. I'm going to Chinatown with Fausta, and I'm sleeping with Monty.
That's right. We're going to be ROOMIES in SAN FRANCISCO in a big fancy HOTEL without responsible adults to watch over us!
And then the three of us will hit Chinatown and who knows what else because I've had experience walking around a big city, by golly, and we're going to paint the town.
That ten dollars is sounding pretty good right now, too.
I think all of you should sign up for BlogHer. It's the most fun I've ever had in all my entire life, that didn't involve a theme park pass or nudity.
Then again, there are theme parks in California, and who am I to dictate to people what to wear?
Blogroll. . . Google Reader. . . I want to see you in person, and I want pictures.
And when I get to BlogHer, I don't want to miss a thing. Alert Steven Tyler.
Can't wait. CAN'T WAIT. But I try to be mature about it.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 10:28 PM | |
This is my mother's senior picture. I can remember looking at this picture as a small child and thinking, "My mommy is as beautiful as a movie star."
I hadn't seen this picture in at least thirty years, but it's one of the pictures that I scanned to put on her new digital picture frame.
My opinion hasn't changed, either.
My mommy is still as beautiful as a movie star.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:48 AM | |
Saturday, April 12, 2008
And monie a canty day, John, we've had wi' ane anither. . . .It's Saturday, and I could have slept in. Sleeping in is the very essence of "weekend" to me, and I usually make use of every opportunity that comes my way. I am a night person to the extreme, and I am at my most alert in the wee sma's. I would have been an excellent vampire; the hours are ideal, and the thought of being empowered to suck the very lifeblood out of anybody who wronged me is most appealing.
It worries me, those thoughts. I'd stop having them if I could, but since
It's not my fault that I have a condition. I should be monetarily compensated for having a condition. Gone are the days when vampires were labeled "monsters" and sold in plastic pieces by Aurora Models along with Frankenstein (which is NOT the monster's name) Wolfman, and the Mummy.
Whatever. I couldn't sleep in this morning, and it's my mother's fault. I gave her a Kodak S510 digital picture frame for Mother's Day (I'm early, but I couldn't wait to give it to her) (If you search carefully, you can find one for under forty bucks now!) and she let me take her old photo albums home to scan the best pictures so I can put them on the digital frame. (Digital picture frames are AWESOME. And wireless digital picture frames are even better!) (Mine has its own email address; let me know if you'd like to send me some pics.) (Seriously, I absolutely adore my beautiful, wonderful wireless picture frame.) (I'd love to get pictures from you!)
So, until almost 5 a.m., I was turning pages, scanning old photographs (some taken with a Brownie Starmite; some were taken with a little square brown plastic camera my mother had in high school; there were even a few tintypes!) People I've known all my life danced through those photo albums. My parents, aunts, uncles, neighbors. . . people I thought were OLD when they were actually in their twenties and thirties. . . and they were all so beautiful. My siblings, from birth to yesterday, changing so subtly year after year until finally they looked as they look today. The house where we all grew up: it was so TINY! I never noticed until last night just how small that house really was. My mother and father, interacting with us, in color and in black-and-white. . . somehow, the black-and-white photographs were far more beautiful and telling.
I finished scanning the stack of albums, but haven't trimmed and cleaned up all the pictures yet. And when I take this stack of albums back, I'll take home yet another stack.
It's a good thing I bought a 2-gig flash drive last night; the 512MB drive that's in her frame now would never be able to handle this kind of picture load. The new drive is a Lexar and it's only about an inch long. If you have a digital picture frame and want to use a flash drive with it, I highly recommend this tiny Lexar. It doesn't even show when it's plugged into the frame!
Buy it at WalMart or K-Mart, though. It's wayyyy cheaper there. Considerably. Isn't technology amazing? Who could ever imagine that something an inch long could hold thousands of pictures?
Anyway, back to my original point: I couldn't sleep in this morning because my dreams kept waking me up. Where did all of these young, beautiful people go?
Then I looked in the mirror and thought, "Yes, where indeed?" Sigh.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:45 AM | |
Friday, April 11, 2008
All Alone and Laughing Out LoudWell, wouldn't you?
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:04 PM | |
Thursday, April 10, 2008
All In Good Time, My DearFor the past several years, my teaching schedule has been very full. I'm paid by the course, so the more courses the better!
This semester, however, three of my scheduled classes were canceled at the last minute, leaving me with a VERY short schedule and even less money than usual. At first I was actually despondent, wondering WHY and what were we going to do? I was trembling with fear of the unknown, and since I've never had much free time in my whole life, I really wondered how I would make it through this very difficult time. I cried, and I prayed, and I despaired (always a waste of time and energy) and I asked the universe what was going on. What was this for? Why? How will we pay our bills? Was I going to lose my last excuse for not doing housework?
But mostly just WHY?
But now I think I know why.
If I had my usual extremely full schedule, there would be nobody to take my MIL to her radiation treatments. With my very abbreviated schedule, I am able to do that for her.
So I have changed my attitude from "What are we going to do? My schedule has been cut and we're poorer than ever!" to "Thank goodness my schedule has been cut! Now I can take my MIL to her clinic every day!"
Maybe things really do happen for a reason. I have a list of happenings that are still upsetting and puzzling me, but even those helped make it possible for me to help my MIL.
When we are despondent and cry to the heavens "WHY?" maybe "You'll find out" is a viable answer. Because, you know, sometimes we really do find out. Later, or in due time, or after while, or eventually, but we really do find out.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:28 AM | |
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Mothers-in-law Are People, TooBefore I go to the college, I've been taking my MIL to the cancer clinic every morning for radiation treatment. She's a newspaper reporter: a scrappy little fighter whose lifelong faith enables her to not fear death, but she has chosen to delay it as long as possible because she's simply not finished living yet.
Today is the only day I won't be taking her, because I'm, like, on the radio and stuff, but Belle took the morning off work to come down and take her grandmother for the treatment.
Everyone at the cancer clinic has been extraordinarily kind, and has treated my MIL like a queen when she is there. Someone is standing in the lobby waiting for her when we walk through the doors, and every step of each procedure has been explained to her thoroughly and patiently. She has never once been treated in any kind of brusque, clinical, hurried, or condescending manner.
The facility isn't bone-chillingly cold, as hospitals so often are, and the magazines in the waiting room are up-to-date. Imagine!
She was desperately frightened, and naturally so, but now, much of the fright has gone and while it's not something to look forward to at all, it's at least lost its teeth and claws and can be faced calmly, know that this, too, shall pass.
After her treatment, she usually feels perky enough to spring for lunch, even. Bless her heart.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 10:11 AM | |
Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring BananaphoneHonest to boo, I think my phone started ringing around six this evening and only just now stopped.
It never does that unless I'm buried alive in work. When I've got an evening free and would welcome some conversation, the phone is silent. Most evenings, I'm free. Call me! Please! Just, not tonight. Sigh.
I'd turn it off when I'm swamped, but I've got kids who live out of town, and an elderly mother and MIL who occasionally need me for something important. I will be here when people need me.
If you've got an hour to spare on Tuesday at 10: a.m., come on over to Fausta's Podcast. I'll be there, trying to pretend I'm as smart as Fausta and Siggy. Call in. Comment.
There's the phone again. Honestly. Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring. . .
(Don't watch the video if dreadful songs tend to
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:25 AM | |
Sunday, April 06, 2008
An Oven Full Of Quotatious Pie
On a beautiful sunny Sunday such as today, one's thoughts really ought to be turning to proper, serious, classical things, such as opera, or political debate, or baking a pecan pie for our visiting children, or religion, or ballet. . .
Speaking of which:
The pecan pie is in the oven as I type, and I did think some serious political thoughts for a few minutes. They were about how one candidate always seems to be having a bad hair day, and how another seems to have his very own Rasputin, and how another might be a viable choice if not for his truly horrible morning radio show, but I still call them "political thoughts."
Also? I don't care for pecan pie, myself. I make them for other people.
I don't really like any kind of pie. I just like to make them.
Where brains are what you need, force will not succeed. - Yiddish proverb
Whom the gods would make bigots, they first deprive of humor. --James M. Gilles
To destroy the Western tradition of independent thought, it is not necessary to burn the books. All we have to do is to leave them unread for a couple of generations. --Robert Maynard Hutchins
Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man. --Thomas Paine
Behavior is a mirror in which everyone displays his image. ---Goethe
Well, my husband and I would have enjoyed being Southern Baptists, but we decided we just weren't physically equal to it. --Anon.
I am inclined to judge a belief quite differently, according to whether it asks the right to be one or insists on being the only one. --Jean Rostand
From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it. --Groucho Marx
The illusions of childhood are necessary experiences. A child should not be denied a balloon because an adult knows that sooner or later it will break. --Marceline Cox
Do not wait for extraordinary circumstances to do good; try to use ordinary circumstances. -Jean Paul Richter
Reporter: Mr. Ghandi, what do you think of Western civilization?
Ghandi: I think it would be a very good idea.
If you see a snake, just kill it - don't appoing a committee on snakes. --Ross Perot
I love cats because I enjoy my home, and little by little, they become its visible soul. --Jean Cocteau
A bird is a bird, a dog is a dog, but a cat is a person. -- Mugsy Peabody
The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. --Michael Redgrave
You can't use tact with a congressman. A congressman is a hog. You must take a stick and hit him on the snout. --Henry Adams
Our character is but the stamp on our souls of the free choices of good and evil we have made through life. --John Cunningham Geikie
The best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person. --Andy Rooney
He and I once had an office so tiny that an inch smaller and it would have been adultery.
The artist brings something into the world that didn't exist before, and he does it without destroying something else. --John Updike
A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence. --Stowkowski
There is no education like adversity. --Walt Disney
How old would you be if you didn't know how old you was? --Satchel Paige
Pat: He was an Anglo-Irishman.
Meg: In the blessed name of God, what's that?
Pat: A Protestant with a horse.
An administrator is a legless man who teaches running. --Anon
If you look at life one way, there is always cause for alarm. --Elizabeth Bowen
When the free market rules in the world of art, you don't get Beethoven and Bach, you get Beavis and Butthead. --Pieter Breitner
Don't be afraid to be amazing. --Andy Offute Irwin
We are each other's angels; we meet when it is time. --Chuck Brodsky
Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority. --Thomas Henry Huxley
It does not require many words to speak the truth. --Chief Joseph
In seeking truth, you have to get both sides of a story. --Walter Cronkite
The teenagers aren't all bad. I love'em if nobody else does. there ain't nothing wrong with young people. Jus' quit lyin' to 'em. --Jackie "Moms" Mabley
I do love a good quotation! Did you know?
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 2:49 PM | |
Saturday, April 05, 2008
. . . wherein I again speak about Lays. I'm all for them.As a child, I was a terribly picky eater. It didn't do any good to mention it, though, because I couldn't leave the table until I'd eaten what my mother told me to eat.
Now, unfortunately, I'm not quite as picky with most foods. I'll try pretty much anything, and I love to go to fun restaurants and experiment.
HOWEVER. Once I've experimented, I might add something to my "Intense Hatred List" of foods for all time. That list isn't very long, but what few things are on there, are genuinely detested and I'll thank the fates that be not to EVER put them on my plate again.
Sauerkraut. Boiled spinach. Extremely spicily hot foods. There are others, but those might head the list.
I'm not likely to encounter most of my detested foods in any kind of ordinary situation, but when it comes to snack foods, or "foods I'm most likely to have for lunch when nobody's home but me," I've had some nasty surprises.
I do not like flavored potato chips. I've tried them all and I don't like them. I'd rather have none, than a flavored chip.
I do not like flavored colas, unless they are fresh from the fountain. (you young things might have to look up "fountain drinks") I once took a sip of a lime-flavored diet coke and almost rose up out of my chair in outrage.
Plain Lay's potato chips. Plain diet coke.
Beyond that, I'm good to go just about anywhere.
I won't, however, order sauerkraut, and I prefer my spinach fresh, thankyouverymuch.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 5:07 PM | |
Naked PeopleThere is something about trees in winter that makes me think of good a cappella. Without the accompanying leaves and instrumentals, I can see the actual shape of the tree, or the song.
I suppose this analogy could also be used for people, but honestly? I have a list of people I'd like to see naked and most of the universe isn't on it.
Some of it is, though. :)
As for that title. . . go crazy, Google!
It was entirely coincidental. I would NEVER* do something like that on purpose.
*Unless you caught me in a mood.**
**I am occasionally in a mood.***
***This is not to be confused with "In THE mood."****
****I am occasionally in THE mood, too.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 2:14 AM | |
Friday, April 04, 2008
I Put Ketchup On My Steak. Live With It.
I have been an adult for a long time now, but I still like to dip my steak in ketchup. I like french fries dipped in ketchup, too - but only if they're fat fries. Little salty skinny fries are good without ketchup. Roast beef? Ketchup. Meat loaf? Ketchup in it and on it. Not just a sissy little dollop of ketchup, either; I need a pile. You know, for dipping purposes.
When I was a child, I put ketchup on mashed potatoes and French toast, so I guess you could say I'm improving somewhat.
Do I care? No. I like ketchup on my steak. And besides a few additional spices, how is that any different from putting A-1 on your steak?
The only thing I really look back in horror on is the French toast. That was pretty disgusting.
P.S. The steak has to be cooked "medium." I like for the inside to match the ketchup.
P.P.S. If you want to spell it "catsup" that's fine with me, too.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:37 PM | |
Thursday, April 03, 2008
I Do Love A Good QuotationI have been collecting quotations since
Words have power. When we know a lot of words, we have power. When we can string the words we know together, and weave a thought into a coherent sentence - and what is a coherent sentence but a thought given bodily substance - we join those in whose hands a pen is a wand capable of moving mountains.
I keep my quotes on file cards, one quote to a card. I used to file the cards in alphabetical order, according to theme, but as I use my quote cards in my classes so much, any logical order they may once have been in has long since disintegrated. I like it better this way, actually; thoughts coming at me randomly force me to use brain cells that may never have been used before. Whether this delays or speeds up the inevitable day when I'll be able to hide my own Easter eggs, I know not. But I do know that I loves me some wisdom, some wit, some whimsy, some rancor, some love, some heartbreak, some hatred, some sarcasm, some disgust, some clever whining, some intellectual "wow's," and some evil incarnate, as long as it's all put together in some mighty and majestic turn-of-phrase.
"Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome." --Samuel Johnson
"Do not think of knocking out another person's brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago." --Horace Mann
"Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love truth." -- Joseph Joubert
"To force opinion is like pushing the magnetized needle round by brute strength until it points to where we wish the North Star stood, rather than to where it really is." - Dorothy Canfield Fisher
"Consistancy requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." --Bernard Berenson
"The people who are always hankering loudest for some golden yesteryear usually drive new cars." - Russell Baker
"Adversity is the trial of principle. Without it, a man hardly knows whether he is honest or not." --Henry Fielding
"If you are losing a tug-of-war with a tiger, give him the rope before he gets to your arm. You can always buy a new rope." --Max Gunther
"Every job is a self-portrait of the person who does it. Autograph your work with excellence." --Unknown
"You have to pay dearly for being an imaginative person. You see a great deal and feel a great deal, but there is ugliness to see and feel as well as beauty, and in yourself as well as in others." --Sherwood Anderson
"We are all here and it is now. Further than that, all human knowledge is moonshine." --H.L. Mencken
"Many a man who would not dream of putting too much pressure in his automobile tires, lays a constant overstrain on his heart and arteries." --Bruce Barton
"A dining room table with children's eager, hungry faces around it, ceases to be a mere dining room table, and becomes an altar." --Simeon Strunsky
"I think we're all heroes if you catch us at the right time." --Andy Garcia
"How many fancy they have experience simply because they have grown old." - Stanislas I
"He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really co-operating with it." - ML King, Jr.
"If you're going through hell, keep going." - Winston Churchill
"Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists." --FDR
"Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives." --Charles William Dement
"If boys and girls do not learn discipline in their school days, money and time spent on their education is so much national loss." --Ghandi
"It is not the facts which guide the conduct of men, but their opinions about facts, which may be entirely wrong. We can only make them right by discussion." --Sir Normal Angele
"The character that needs law to mend it, is hardly worth the tinkering." --Unknown
"Logical consequences are the scarecrows of fools and the beacons of wise men." -T.H. Huxley
"He that is not open to conviction, is not qualified for discussion." --Richard Whately
"Democracy is based upon the conviction that there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people." --Harry Emerson Fosdick
"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen, and thinking what nobody has thought." - Albert Szent-Gyorgi
. . . to be continued, here and there, now and then, as the mood overtakes me, and it will.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:27 PM | |
Not One Of My Better Ideas, Pt. 2I once bought quart-size bottles of glitter - all colors - and gave my sixth graders carte blanche to make creative castle/dragon/princess/knight posters for my unabridged fairy tale unit.
Three years later the carpet was still twinkling and the janitor was still mad.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:45 PM | |
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Bill Clinton Spoke HereBill Clinton was supposed to speak in one of our middle schools' gymnasiums at 12:30 today. (The mid-town one, naturally; nobody ever presents anything at either of the two rural middle schools) I was supposed to pick up my sweet MIL from the newspaper office (she is a reporter) at 11:10, and take her to a doctor's appointment. As I was trying to get there, around 11:00, many of the streets in the middle of town were already blocked and guarded by police cars and fire trucks, and the crowds were thick.
I managed to get to her office and pick her up, and with just a little maneuvering and a few detours we made it to the doctor's office in time.
After her appointment, we stopped for a quick lunch and then I took her back to work. Bill still hadn't shown up, but the streets were still blocked and the crowds were even bigger.
I had no desire to see Bill Clinton or anyone he might be still married to as I type, so I came back home. I was interested in his visit from a historical standpoint, however, so every once in a while I checked them pesky internets to see what he was speaking about, but at 2:00 he still hadn't shown up. I started to wonder what the middle school was going to do about getting all those kids on their respective buses pretty soon. The streets were completely congested and I was betting to myself that there would be no way the guards would allow all those school buses in there.
I finally got an email from my Cousin C; she'd been standing up for over four hours but felt it was worthwhile because when Bill finally did show up, he put on a good show.
Of course, he's always been good at putting on a good show. (insert unkind smirk here)
I had a brief fantasy about being there and having him come up to me, shake my hand, and ask me if I was planning to vote for Hilary. He would use that smooth tone of voice - the one he always used when he told lies - and his charismatic wink, and I, still holding his hand, would smile at him and say sweetly, into the camera, "Oh HELL to the no. "
What, you have other kinds of fantasies? These days, mine are usually scenarios of some kind.
Maybe that kind, maybe. But mostly, this kind. Sigh.
Bill was supposed to speak at Assembly Hall at IU at 2:00. He was late for that gig, too. I have a feeling it won't matter as much up there, though, because Bill's visit was maybe just a tiny tad shown up by the Hoosiers hiring a new basketball coach.
Down here, people think basketball is important. More important than academics, more important than culture, more important than integrity, more important than good behavior, and definitely more important than politics.
Welcome to Indiana, Clintons.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:24 PM | |
Skate Keys and Sidewalk Cracks
When I was a little kid, I was on wheels all the time. Either I was riding my bike, or I was wearing my skates. I was seldom still. The few times I wasn't on wheels, I was up in the neighbor's apple tree, reading, or hiding from my siblings. I had to go SOMEWHERE for privacy and I didn't have any at home. My siblings laugh, even now, at my desperate need for something and some place of my own, but the fact was - and still is - I have to have it or something in me perishes completely. People who don't have that need don't understand, and never will.
Those skates. The clamps bit into my tennis shoes and made little blisters and then little cuts on the sizes of my toes, but I didn't care. On those skates, I could fly. The soles of my feet had the cracks on our sidewalks completely and thoroughly memorized. I knew instinctively when to let my foot "yield" just a little bit so the cracks and the large mounds of moss in them wouldn't trip me. Even now, I think I would remember the pattern of the sidewalk cracks with my feet.
And how did we tighten those clamps around our poor little toes? With our skate key, of course.
I wore mine on a string around my neck. If I ever lost my skate key, I would lose my ability to fly up and down the sidewalk around our house.
Sure, we fell down sometimes and cut ourselves up pretty thoroughly. Back then, that was called "Duh, I was PLAYING." That's what band-aids were for.
As for kneepads and helmets, we would have laughed at any kid whose mommy made him wear something like that just to play outside. We were kids, and we played outside. We weren't fat and we ate pretty much whatever was put on our plates because all that activity made us genuinely hungry, and because Mom told us to. We only watched TV on Saturday mornings and sometimes a half-hour or so in the evening, and we were in bed by nine thirty.
And if we didn't WANT to go to bed then, we did anyway. We were not the bosses in our house and we knew it. If we fussed and carried on, there would be consequences and we knew what those would be and we chose to behave ourselves and obey.
I still have my skate key. It's in my jewelry box. I keep it there because, to me, it's a jewel.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:06 AM | |