Saturday, May 31, 2008
Anonymous responded with this comment,
That brings back memories! My siblings and I had our own version of "Personal Jinx." "Jinx" meant you couldn't talk at all until someone said your name. "Personal Jinx" meant that it could only be undone by the person who jinxed you. If we said "jinx" at the same time, we would rush to be the first to say "double jinx!" (that meant your name had to be said twice). Then there was the ultimate jinx: "Double Personal Jinx!", said with much pride and excitement at being able to utter such a rare and powerful curse. (Of course, this led to some intense arguing if a person refused to comply.)
To which I replied,
Yeah, I still don't get that whole, "...refused to comply." I just never knew that anyone could break from that kind of authority and snub the jinx.
I'm too rigid in my thinking, clearly. Some of you people can see outside of the box and therefore think outside of the box and ultimately BE outside of the box.
I'm just glad I now realize there is a box!
Maybe I'm not being completely fair with myself. I mean I homeschool my kids, and while not as fringey and strange as that once was, people can still look askance as their wheels are turning in their heads at the thought...I had homebirths with my two kids. They were two wonderful, awesome, amazing, powerful births that gave us our healthy, beautiful babies. We had a family bed until the kids were ready to sleep on their own in their own beds. I can only recommend a King size if you plan on fitting two adults, two little kids and two cats all aboard. We have a king size. A lot of kids sleep with their parents and aside from comfort issues people either feel OK with that and enjoy the normalcy of its naturalness, or they feel guilty and want to get their kids independent as soon as possible by making them sleep alone at night because that's what you're supposed to do. Well, we don't do what you're supposed to do because we do what we do! There are other natural, non-typical ways to live that we have adopted and it all works for us.
Maybe we're not in the little boxes that I think we're in. Maybe my recognizing the jinx is just a vestige from the literal thinking I had (and sometimes still have) when I was a kid. There's a black and white thinking there that is hard to shake unless you look totally beyond the boundaries.
I think a lot of people are still stuck in that thinking. If this is white, than this must be black. If that country is that way, then we must be this way. If there's a problem, there must only be one solution...well no. No to all of that. There are all sorts of realities and ideas and suggestions that may be contrary to one another and yet all still be true. There may be shades of differences rather than exact opposites.
Radical thinking, eh?--especially in this age of lapel pin criticism. How about passing a G.I. bill that supports the troops and their service as a means of showing patriotism? Might that also be a patriotic act? Might that show love of country?
Any way, I am glad that I know there are boxes, and other than the jinx, I think I've broken out of them in a lot of ways. But, I think jinxing someone is fun, and my kids do too. I don't mind staying in that little box with my kids, just don't try to put me in any other little boxes...
Friday, May 30, 2008
In the first one, you'll see an epic story, one that has oft been told through the ages. Man vs. Nature--who will win? The second one is a more subtle story with a human scale. A story of triumph, and then defeat. There are no Disney endings here. No, not at all. These have more of a European feel to them--life is hard sometimes and grim like a Swedish film.
Enjoy, and let the disquiet work on you--don't be afraid of the feelings evoked by these two films--embrace it. Powerful feelings are good, even those of the most disturbing nature.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
We're watching some videos with the kids that my husband just got from the library. They just finished watching Shlessinger Science Library DVD, Space Science for Children--All About Stars which explained a lot about our star, the sun. It says it's for grades K-4 and both of my kids got a lot out of it. My daughter would be in 1st and my son would be in 4th grade if they were going to school. My son just asked to make sure, and we all agreed that he's in 4th grade. As homeschoolers, the kids' grades just don't come up and we have to think about it for a minute to remember when it does come up. Mostly, grade levels are a way to identify age, so we really should all have them on the tips of our tongues for when people ask. I can see how it would seem freaky to them if we don't know. "1st and 4th grades kids. Remember that!"
The kids were going to watch the next video, Space Science in Action--Moon, and I asked my daughter if she remembers how the moon was formed. It came up a couple of years ago, and I had explained to the kids how a giant meteorite had hit the earth (the thinking is probably where the Pacific is) and the impact radiated the material, the matter, the massive mass of earth out where the fragments then orbited the earth and then eventually coalesced to form the moon.
My daughter just told me all of that, using her 7 1/2 year old words, but with all of the same meaning as I just expressed here and I said to her, "Wow. That's great that you remember all of that! How do you remember that?" She confidently and simply answered, "Because I have a great mind."
You know, kids are brilliant if we allow them to be.
It seems there must be enough people also thinking about NOT buying things to warrant helpful hints on how to achieve a blissful state of non-purchasing. Just how do you NOT buy new things? Are there tricks to that? Are there ways of thinking that can help you NOT buy? Is there something you can do instead of going to the mall? Yes!! Yes there is. Yes, there are other things you can do!
Just as there is Wkipedia, there is also Wikihow. It is a helpful manual that we can edit, just like Wikipedia, and it is where I found a handy article on NOT buying.
Here is the article:
- Examine your spending habits. Are your buying decisions motivated by your own values or by advertisements? Don't be influenced by consumerism and an obsession with spending.
- Stay home. If you don't need to shop, don't go shopping simply because you are bored. Don't use shopping as a recreation or amusement.
- Leave the money at home. The easiest way to not buy anything is simply not to take any cash, checks, debit cards, or credit cards with you when you go out. At most, take a small amount of cash with you for emergencies.
- Avoid plastic. Try putting your credit card in a container with some water and freezing it. That way you have it for holidays and emergencies but not just to go buy stuff.
- Buy used. If you really need something and haven't been able to beg, borrow, or dumpster-dive it, go to a thrift shop and get one for pennies on the dollar. Online auctions and yard sales are also good, although there is still the temptation to buy "stuff" you don't really need.
- Pay cash. Studies show the average person spends less when paying with cash and much more when paying with credit, possibly because when you use a credit card it feels as though you are not parting with "real" money.
- Make a budget and stick to it. Don't treat your budget like a New Year's resolution. While creating and sticking to a budget requires self-control, it's a really good way to get your finances under control and avoid accumulating a pile of crippling debts and a bunch of worthless crap in the process of destroying your self-respect.
- Make a list and stick to it. Make purchasing decisions at home, where your needs are apparent, instead of in stores where shelves full of other products will distract and entice you. A list can also help you postpone and consider purchases and consolidate trips out.
- Ask yourself some questions. Will I use this every day? Will I use it enough for it to be worth buying? How many hours did I have to work to pay for this? Employ the 3-month forecast. Ask yourself if you'll still be using the product regularly in 3 months. If you have lived this long without it, do you really need it? If you move frequently, contemplate whether this purchase is really worth hauling around each time you move. If you don't, ask yourself if it's worth sacrificing some of your precious living space to own it.
- Repair, don't replace. If you shopped carefully and got good service out of something, don't assume you have to replace it when it breaks. A good repair shop might be able to restore it to "near-new" condition for less than the cost of a replacement, and you won't be adding to the landfill problem.
- Try to get things you need or want for free. In a surprising number of cases you can get whatever you need without spending a dime.
- Check local "free sales". Visit websites such as freecycle, Freesharing,Sharing is Givingor craigslist. These sites are so useful precisely because so many people buy things they don't need or replace perfectly good things with similar but newer things. You can decide to be smarter than that.
- Borrow. If you need a product for just a short time, why not borrow someone else's? There's no shame in borrowing as long as you are willing to reciprocate when someone needs to borrow something of yours.
- Try bartering. Your past extravagances have probably left you with a lot of things you no longer need, but which other people may want. Experience some of the gains from trade that economists are always talking about.
- Use the buddy system. If you go out with friends, you may find that you enjoy yourselves so much that you don't even feel like buying anything. You could all make a pact to prevent purchases. It's kind of like a 12-step program to escape the consumer culture.
- Avoid unnecessary upgrades. Yes, that new toaster has a little chime and can toast eight slices at once, but seriously, how often do you need eight slices of toast at once? Our consumer culture pressures people to replace perfectly good products with newer products for silly reasons, like fashion. Remember, an avocado-colored oven works just as well as one that's mango-colored.
- Buy for durability. If you decide to purchase something, choose something that won't wear out, or won't wear out quickly. Also avoid purchasing items that will go out of fashion. Think through how you will use the item and how your choice will meet your needs for as long as possible. Thinking in the long term, a more durable item costing 30% more up front will still save you money if you can use it twice as long.
- Buy for easy compatibility. If you really like an item, think carefully about how well it will work with what you have already. Maybe a clothing item is fresh and flattering, but if it doesn't coordinate well with at least two or three pieces you own, you'll either get limited use out of it, or worse, you may 'need' to buy more to use it at all.
- Use the "Rule of 7." If something you want is over 7 dollars, wait 7 days and ask 7 trusted people whether this is a good purchase. Then buy it if you still think it is a good idea. This rule will curtail impulse buying. As you get more financially secure and have a larger disposable income, you can gradually increase the threshold upward from 7 dollars.
- Make gifts for people. Use your own skills (or learn a new skill) to make gifts that people will remember long after they've forgotten store-bought presents. Don't forget that gifts needn't be wrapped. You can make a gift of time or skills, too. Remember the lesson of The Gift of the Magi: it really is the thought that counts. Money can't buy you happiness or self-respect or any friends worth having.
- Tax yourself. Every time you make a purchase over $10 (or $50 or whatever limit you choose), take 10% of the price and put it into your savings or your investments. This way, you discourage yourself from buying something just because the item is "marked down" or "a bargain" and boost your financial security every time you make a significant purchase. If you use a debit card or a credit card, try using one that has a savings program, American Express offers a card with a savings account and Bank of America offers their "Keep The Change" program to automatically transfer money into your savings account.
- Grow your own food. If you have even a small garden, it's easy to grow your own food.
- Read books such as Why We Buy, so you understand retailer tactics that are used to get people to buy things they do not need. Get the books at the library; no need to buy them!
- If you have children, bring them with you when you shop. Ask them to remind you to think twice when you pick up an item. Have them say "Do we really need that?" or "Can we really afford that?" This tip helps you AND teaches your children the value of properly managing their spending. Use common sense. Young children, especially, could become scared if you ask them to regulate your behavior. Children can sense how stressful a topic money can be, and sometimes find it scary and confusing.
- Can't think of any place to hang out but the mall? Try visiting a friend, taking a walk on a nature trail, going to a free concert or event, or playing at the park. Your life will be richer in more ways than one if you eschew shopping malls.
- Instead of renting movies, check your local library. Many libraries offer a wide selection of movies for free. While you're there, check out their other offerings, too. Remember, libraries are nice places to hang out in and reading is free.
- If you're really weak-willed, freeze your credit cards in a coffee can full of water so you will have to thaw them out before you use them. Or if you have a trusted neighbor, put your credit cards in safekeeping with them, explaining to them you're trying to limit your spending. Chances are you won't be able to face them to ask for your cards if you don't have a compelling reason.
- "Buy Nothing Day" is November 23, 2007, in North America and November 24th elsewhere. Participate by not joining in the mad and often mindless holiday shopping rush on that day.
- Buy second hand! That way you'll save money and spare the environment by reducing waste, also more likely than not you'll support a charitable organization.
I must say, we've had an easier time than to have to freeze our credit cards so we won't use them. We just haven't used them. However, I can see how that might help a compulsive shopper, but then they probably have their number memorized, so they would still be able to buy online or over the phone. Shopaholics!
Also, I don't think you need to stay home in order to not shop--go for a walk in your walkable neighborhood (lucky!). Go walk through the park. Go play with your kids. Go to the library. Do some laundry. Do the dishes. Listen to some good music and dance like a maniac through the living room. Take a bath. Call your sister and talk for an hour about nothing and everything. Go out to eat at a wonderful restaurant--you still have to eat--it's allowed!
When you think about it, it really is easy to not buy, buy, buy all of the time. Use the tips in the article if it will help you and you want to consume a little less. It might be helpful.
Let me know if you stop yourself from purchasing, and what helped you put the brakes on.
Happy non shopping! Have a nice day!--if you want to. No pressure.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Before we went, my son had accumulated some of his favorite joke things.
It is this collection of hilarity with which my son planned to take down and regale his older girl cousin. My husband intervened and suggested to my son that perhaps his cousin wouldn't like that much hilarity in one sitting. Maybe she couldn't take it. Maybe she wasn't up to it. So, my son winnowed it down to just one item.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Here's an example,
Daughter: Mom, can I have some candy?
Me and Daughter at the same time: No.
Daughter: Personal jinx!
Personal jinx is my kids' spin on the whole thing. Just jinx is kind of for funsies--no one enforces it. It's just sort of a "gotcha" kind of situation. No repercussions. Personal jinx on the other hand, means you are not allowed to talk under any circumstances until someone says your name.
Sometimes my daughter goofs up which, as it turns out, is equally hilarious. As in,
Daughter: What? and at the same time Me: Yes?
Daughter: *peals of laughter and huge grins*
I'm glad that the jinx gene has continued in my offspring considering that their father didn't even recognize the jinx I put him in one time when we were dating. I was horrified. I hadn't ever heard of someone flouting the social convention that is the jinx. It's kind of unheard of. Who doesn't recognize jinx? This was wildly unchartered territory I was traveling on. Truth be told, the rebellious side of me kind of liked it...
Monday, May 26, 2008
I checked out other houses I've lived in and one was 45 and another was 66. Those are still considered not very walkable neighborhoods. So what's the criteria? Here's a bit from their site,
Picture a walkable neighborhood. You lose weight each time you walk to the grocery store. You stumble home from last call without waiting for a cab. You spend less money on your car—or you don't own a car. When you shop, you support your local economy. You talk to your neighbors.
What makes a neighborhood walkable?
Walkable communities tend to have the following characteristics:
- A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a discernable center, whether it's a shopping district, a main street, or a public space.
- Density: The neighborhood is dense enough for local businesses to flourish and for public transportation to be cost effective.
- Mixed income, mixed use: Housing is provided for everyone who works in the neighborhood: young and old, singles and families, rich and poor. Businesses and residences are located near each other.
- Parks and public space: There are plenty of public places to gather and play.
- Accessibility: The neighborhood is accessible to everyone and has wheelchair access, plenty of benches with shade, sidewalks on all streets, etc.
- Well connected, speed controlled streets: Streets form a connected grid that improves traffic by providing many routes to any destination. Streets are narrow to control speed, and shaded by trees to protect pedestrians.
- Pedestrian-centric design: Buildings are placed close to the street to cater to foot traffic, with parking lots relegated to the side or back.
- Close schools and workplaces: Schools and workplaces are close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.
One-Mile Walk in a Compact Neighborhood
A one-mile walk in Seattle's Phinney Ridge, takes you through a grid like street network with a mix of residences and businesses (shown in purple). Map courtesy of the Sightline Institute.
One-Mile Walk in a Sprawling Suburb
A one-mile walk in Bellevue, WA with cul-de-sacs and winding streets has few shops and services within walking distance. Map courtesy of the Sightline Institute.
Here's the scoring:
What does my score mean?
Your Walk Score is a number between 0 and 100. The walkability of an address depends on how far you are comfortable walking—after all, everything is within walking distance if you have the time. Here are general guidelines for interpreting your score:
- 90 - 100 = Walkers' Paradise: Most errands can be accomplished on foot and many people get by without owning a car.
- 70 - 90 = Very Walkable: It's possible to get by without owning a car.
- 50 - 70 = Some Walkable Locations: Some stores and amenities are within walking distance, but many everyday trips still require a bike, public transportation, or car.
- 25 - 50 = Not Walkable: Only a few destinations are within easy walking range. For most errands, driving or public transportation is a must.
- 0 - 25 = Driving Only: Virtually no neighborhood destinations within walking range. You can walk from your house to your car!
Darn these unnatural suburbs! They are completely car dependent--thanks 50s mentality. How's that going to work when gas costs $10 a gallon. (Does anyone think it won't get that high? Where's the freak out now that it's $4 a gallon? You know how to boil a frog, right?) You can't just pack up the ol' station wagon and load up the kids with fluffernutter sandwiches and go for a spin when it will cost all of the college savings to go across town.
Good thing my husband is into bikes as vehicles, not just as a means to exercise or a way to get some alone time. No. It's about getting around this town without depending on gas. I have a trickier time of it with the kids, because my daughter isn't that great at longer distances. She's a nervous rider. She and I will have to ride the tandem, and my son can ride his bike.
We've got to get off this gas dependency, and since our neighborhood isn't very walkable, we'll have to learn to ride more. What's your Walk Score? Do you have a bike...
Sunday, May 25, 2008
So, with that in mind--here's another ripped off youtube video!
This time we'll see Pete Seeger singing a song I've never heard before, but unfortunately is still quite apt. Too bad, but it exemplifies another reason why we're homeschooling. These are not the things my kids are learning. Not at all.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
When the mainstream media only reports things that make for an easy narrative that's going in a certain direction, you can be sure that you're not getting the whole story. I get that. I see where that idea comes from. The powers-that-be are all in cahootz together. GE owns NBC, and Murdoch owns everything else (kind of!) However, the mainstream media isn't a giant blog which can shape every story however they see fit. The mainstream media is supposed to be in the service of us--the people. Freedom of speech is one of the most highly regarded rights we have in this country. It allows me to say that Bush is a complete idiot who has fucked up a lot of lives. I get to say that if I want to. I can say it again if I want to--fucked up a lot of lives. There I said it again. I even italicized it to give it even more emphasis.
I would like more eloquent reporting than my measly little rants here. And, I would like the mainstream media to show the forces that are shaping all of our lives and they just don't. They don't most of the time. It did come out recently that almost all of the military "experts" that were interviewed in the run up to the war were being paid by the Pentagon, or had commercial interests that impinged on the Iraq war going a certain way. It was all PROPAGANDA. That's not supposed to happen here. It's illegal for that to happen here. There are anti covert propaganda laws. That's something nasty that we would have heard about Soviet Russia doing to its citizens. "Tsk, tsk, tsk. That's the kind of behavior you get from dictatorships and totalitarian governments", we would shake our heads and say. God bless America and our American freedoms--yeah except, we've been lied to in a huge way. We've been served a line and the media is not reporting that...cause they were a huge part of it themselves. Remember the whole show yourself in the best light possible thing? I get it. But, I don't send people to war to die. It's OK if I don't reveal everything. I'm not a Reporter.
After Hillary's wins in Kentucky and Pennsylvania we have heard the analysts say how her biggest support, her biggest demographic is uneducated, poor white people. Um. what does that mean exactly? How come just in Kentucky and Pennsylvania? Why not lily white Oregon? What's different between all of these places. How come Obama gets white support all over this country, but not in certain areas? You know why and so do I. The media doesn't want to report it and say it explicitly because how sticky would that be? What would the headlines look like?
Hillary Wins Racist Vote!
Illiterates Vote for Hillary, Reject Obama as Elitist!
"We Don't Want no Nigger Telling us Nothin'!" Hillary Wins Kentucky in a Landslide!
Messy, no? Yet that's what is going on here. Hillary saying that Obama can't win this in November is her saying that the racists won't vote for him--he's unelectable. But, I think he's going to win big because people are finally going to vote for their own interests instead of out of fear. As Obama says, Not this year, not this time. Well, except not the folks in the hills of Kentucky. They're going to vote their fears.
Who is fully exposing this? Al Jazeera, that's who. I'm sure they don't mind showing the U.S. in a bad light--we've been bullies around the world for a long time. So, although there may be a bias here, it doesn't take much to show all of our blemishes and our media doesn't show it, but they should. We need to know. I think we should see who the voters are who are going for Hillary in Kentucky.
This Al Jazeera youtube is so painful to watch. The people are so closed minded and angry. Their lives are very hard. They're going to auctions where coal miners are bidding on household items including a single can of Manwich for $1.10. They have not had a lot of success for generation after isolated generation. That's hard and that's their culture.
One coal miner realizes all of this in himself, in his own family and explains how his Grandfather would yell at the TV when black people were on it. I think that follows the mainstream narrative. Whites will vote for Hillary, blacks will vote for Obama. Feminists will vote for Hillary. Urban areas will vote for Obama. And so on. Except that's not exactly what has happened. Hillary had the black vote up to a certain point, then she lost it. Hillary had the feminist vote, and then many women realized she's a liar and it doesn't matter if she's a woman--we want decency especially after Bush. Whites are supposed to vote for her, but Oregon went for Obama. Except in Kentucky and why is that? That's what the media should spell out, because that's what's going on.
Look at this youtube video. These are Hillary's white Kentucky voters. Boy, does this look bad...
Thursday, May 22, 2008
We're going to share a ride to the museum with Mr. B and his daughter, and then when we come home later, the kids will settle down, have an early dinner and then go to a local theater for the end of their drama classes performances. My son has a monologue as King Arthur and my daughter is in a group number singing.
Enjoy your day.
Oh, and by the way, Obama won Oregon. With a majority white population. With hard working people. He lost Kentucky.
Oh, and I ended up not digging up dandelions the other day...I just posted about it. So, I'm sure I'll actually do it some time this week, er, weekend. Some time. Probably. Maybe. I might. No--I definitely will.
Let's enjoy some music together, shall we? What do you feel like hearing? I know! Listen to this:
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Pentel Arts is giving away one set of oil pastels per household. Here is the link and the promo code is SA2008.
You'll receive them in 6-8 weeks.
My Picasso/Manet/Klimt/Van Gogh/Monet/Cezanne children will especially appreciate these. I hope yours will too!
This is the kind of stuff that I think is wonderful partly because it is not wasteful or frivolous or transitory. My kids will use these pastels until they are smeary little nubs.
Enjoy creating your own Starry Nights, or Sunny Days if that's where the pastels take you...
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
I looked out of our bedroom window to the backyard below and saw 11 birds eating and visiting our yard. 3 golfinches, 2 housefinches, a cardinal couple (maybe the female came back...or, it's a totally new couple) a couple of sparrows and a couple or robins bobbing along trying to get worms out. I also looked over at the neighbors' yards on all sides and only saw a couple of stray dandelions and not a single bird. They would just swoop through and not land in those yards.
We may be weedy around here, but we are hospitable--pull up a chair birds, set a while!
Since our dishwasher broke a long time ago and more recently our drier, and we've decided to forgo fixing them for the time-being, my oldest sister laughed and said we should just put our house up on blocks...it's not that we can't fix these things. It's that we're trying to find a more simple way of doing things, which means slowing down and waiting an entire day for clothes to dry. It means doing a mound of dishes together, talking at the end of the day. It means not putting any poison on our lawn and letting dandelions sprout up all over the place.
So, now it means me going out there and weeding the sprouted up dandelions.
I'm reading a great book called Second Nature: A Gardener's Education, by Michael Pollan. Among other things, he makes points about how we make distinctions in gardening and want to separate out man's hand from Nature's own pure work. That's now difficult to do in our country. I just learned that: dandelions, Queen Anne's Lace, clover, and even tumbleweeds are all European imports, castaways on boots when the New World was conquered by the old. So, really a dandelion is not an indigenous weed, it's European, which is not a bad thing--I'm a European mix--but, it's not the innocent, wrongly maligned spot of sunshine that I thought it was. It was an opportunistic, scrappy hanger-on that made it here in a big way.
Good on ya, dandelion, but I don't feel the same way about you any more as I still do milkweed, for example. I don't think you're a scourge as my neighbors do, but, I don't feel guilt any more ripping you and your tenacious tap root out of the ground. And, I'm going to plant clover in your place. Yes, that's right, you heard me. Clover fixes nitrogen to the soil which helps the grass any way. Plus I also like the less showy but intoxicatingly perfumed white little blossoms. And now the bunnies will have a place to eat here too.
Welcome bunnies, pull up a chair and set a while! You just have to nudge the birds aside.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
It seems that an American soldier in Iraq used a Quran for target practice. The book was found 2 days later with a target on it, and riddled with bullet holes.
From the article,
Sheikh Hamadi al-Qirtani, in a speech on behalf of all tribal sheiks of Radhwaniya, called the incident "aggression against the entire Islamic world."
The idea that it's just the terrible mistake of one soldier just doesn't wash and it doesn't matter any more. After Abu Ghraib? After innocent people getting shot up at check points? After the U.S. being there for 5 years with no end in sight? It's just a piling on of injustices that happens day after day after day.
Again from the article,
The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq also condemned the shooter's actions and the U.S. military's belated acknowledgment of the incident."As the Association of Muslim Scholars condemns this heinous crime against God's holy book, the Constitution of this nation, a source of pride and dignity," the groups statement said, "they condemned the silence by all those who are part of the occupation's agenda and holds the occupation and the current government fully responsible for this violation and reminds everyone that God preserves his book and he [God] is a great avenger."
On this Sunday when lots of Christians are going to church and others of other faiths are enjoying the weekend with their families, maybe it would be good to reflect on the world and how we make our way through it. I don't know how I can possibly counter the actions of that idiot soldier in Iraq, but I can make sure I vote for people who will get us the hell out of there. I can make sure I teach my children that there are all sorts of ways to believe about the world and the universe and God, or Goddess, or Gods and Goddesses or Nature and that to all live together we better try to make it safe for everyone to have their beliefs, as they see them.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
I need some junk to watch...or, something really moving...or, something hilarious.
What movies do you like? What classics, what comedies, what documentaries, what foreign films, what dramas?
Help me out here with some wonderful movie suggestions.
So you have some idea of my taste, here are some movies that I like:
- Harold and Maude
- The Piano
- Bringing up Baby
- The Matrix
- Pride and Prejudice (Oh my God--Colin Firth...enough said)
- Gone With the Wind
- Love Actually
- Lost in Translation
- Raiders of the Lost Ark
- Close Encounters of the Third Kind
- Journey of Hope (One of the saddest movies of all time--absolutely tragic)
- Waiting for Guffman
- Being John Malkovich
- It Happened One Night
- To Have and Have Not
- Greaser's Palace
- Juliet of the Spirits
- Fannie and Alexander
- Swept Away (the original, not the crap from Madonna)
- Bicycle Thief
- Children of Heaven
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- Fahrenheit 911
- Breakfast at Tiffany's
- A Christmas Story
- The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming!
- The Flying Scotsman
- Babette's Feast
- Like Water for Chocolate
- Eat, Drink, Man, Woman
- Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
- Smokey and the Bandit, Part II (yeah, not really...my husband just thinks he's witty. Dry, isn't he?)
- Memento (I just added this to the list because my friend Unnamed reminded me at Park Day today that that's one of my favorite movies and I forgot to list it! Yes, and one of the big plot points of that movie is that the protagonist has severe memory loss and must write himself notes to keep track of his life...Irony strikes once again...)
Friday, May 16, 2008
At home, as we were getting ready for the day, I realized that I was cold yesterday morning. I had looked at the thermostat in the living room and had seen that the temperature was 62 degrees. Lately, we've had the furnace off and just deal with the temperature whatever it is. It's hot and it's cold and it goes back and forth every day and it's Spring in the Chicago area. But, I was cold this particular morning and I turned the thermostat all the way up to 68 degrees to stay on while I had my shower and then I'd come out and be toasty warm and get dressed. I instantly forgot all about the thermostat.
We were already running a little late when we had to run to the bank first, before we got on the highway to the zoo. My son had to run back into the house to get something before we set out, and I had to call A. and tell her we'd be a little late, and we were just in a hurry all the way around. So, I didn't notice that my son left the door open on his way out. Not only that, but we have our screen in now so we can get the fresh Spring air.
We were gone for about 5 hours. So, for 5 hours, our furnace was trying to heat our whole house and the outside world too.
I found out about this from my husband who came home from work, on his bike as usual, and saw that our front door was WIDE open. When I got home, he told me all about it and laughingly wondered aloud how much biking it might take to offset the furnace trying to heat Very-Republican-Town. I'm not sure, but I think it's probably a lot.
Below, you see an artist's depiction of my husband after he's done offsetting my carbon footprint goof of today...
Yeah. That looks about right.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
It seems that George W. Bush has been wrongly criticized about his level of sensitivity for the soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families here at home. He cares. He really does. Man, have we misread him. We got it sooooo wrong.
You know what Bush has done? Do you know the level of self-sacrifice he has reached?! I'll tell you , and you will not believe this--it's going to blow your mind! Ready?
He's given up GOLF! Yeah, I know!! Crazy, right?! God, what an amazing patriot! Really, to go to that extent during a war! It's like the Queen Mum during WW II and the Blitz,
Elizabeth publicly refused to leave London or send the children to Canada, even during the Blitz, when she was advised by the Cabinet to do so. She said, "The children won't go without me. I won't leave the King. And the King will never leave."
You know, these kind of people always make me smile, and shake my head in disbelief about how noble they are and how strong their spirit is and what steadfast resolute characters they have--it's so inspiring!
To give up golf? Wow...
Here's another perfect example. Check out how Bush and McCain celebrated McCain's birthday as Katrina was slamming into New Orleans and the levee was collapsing and Lake Pontchartrain was spilling into the 9th ward flooding the poor people out.
Do you see the sacrifice here? Yep, you saw it, it's not chocolate!
God Bless America!
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I guess it's OK that my kids speak in regular tones and with their own original thoughts...isn't it? My kids actually do teach each other things too--they don't just speak in a monotone with scripted words that they've memorized.
Hillary is the only one who thinks this means something substantial but, it doesn't. She can't catch up and she is not picking up many superdelegates. She's only gotten a few to Obama's many.
It must be lonely for her thinking this way. Even Carville recently said that Obama will probably be the nominee. Now she's the only one to think she has a chance. She's the only one.
Instead of going on and on about this, let's just listen to some music.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
What if someone thought you lean too much, or didn't concentrate properly and so insisted on you wearing a vibrator on your hip to "remind" you to concentrate on your work? Would that be OK with you? Would that be OK for you to wear for about 6 hours or so a day? Oh, and the vibrator would go off every 57 seconds (why not round off to a minute?). Would that be helpful, or profoundly distracting and extremely humiliating and uncomfortable?
The reason I'm asking all of this is to see if we all can agree that these ideas, someone telling you you're not allowed to talk, or someone making you wear a vibrator to "remind" you to work, are a violation. Are they still a violation if it's a teacher making kids be quiet and wear a vibrator? I think it is.
I just heard a woman's story about her son at our library homeschooling open house. In a meeting with the teacher and the principal she learned that her kindergarten son leans as he does his work, and it's not an issue generally, except during story time when he might touch someone else. Could they maybe help him move over a little and then he could lean all he wants? Wouldn't that work and not humiliate or stigmatize? Is leaning wrong? Is it a character flaw? Does it damage anybody else? Does it damage him? He leans. Oh my God! Are 5 or 6 year olds not supposed to lean? Physiologically, are they supposed to be still? Should healthy kids not move?
The mom also found out in that meeting that her little son is also easily distracted (some would maybe re-frame that to say that he is exceptionally observant, but I'm biased that way...). They put a vibrator on him to go off every 57 seconds or so to remind him to concentrate. Um. Not to put too fine a point on it but, isn't that completely screwed up?! Under what scenario would that ever be seen as a reasonable idea, a good idea, a helpful idea? If you buzz someone every 57 seconds how will they be able to concentrate on anything--ever? The mom also told me that the teacher had told her son that the vibrator would help him think clearly and would help him come up with ideas to write in his journal...so, every time the vibrator went off, the kid thought that it would literally give him an idea to write about. Unfortunately, the vibrator did not give him anything except confusion and discomfort and a sad mom. She has pulled him out of school and will be homeschooling him. Didn't they violate his person in making him wear something on his body, without his parents knowledge or approval?
I spoke with a couple of other moms who are both PTA parents who have met with the principal at their school about the lunch policy. You see, the kids, 5th graders, are to come in from recess for lunch and at the threshold are to gain full control of themselves to the point that they mustn't speak loudly or jostle each other, and if they do, the whole lunch room must then be silent and have a "silent lunch". They will not be allowed to talk with one another.
When I went to observe what would have been my son's kindergarten when I was researching homeschooling, I noticed that the only time the kids were allowed to talk with one another was at snack time--they didn't even have a recess for the half day kindergarten--otherwise, the talking kids would be reprimanded (gently, but still) and reminded that they could not talk, but they could raise their hands and maybe be called on. Those kids that are so bursting with enthusiasm or discomfort from a sock seam or just have the wiggles are seen as disruptive, or uncooperative. It quickly becomes apparent that they are "bad".
So these PTA moms are doing their research and are going to homeschool their kids in the Fall. If one of the uninformed arguments against homeschooling is that there are socialization issues, I would ask what happens when kids are not allowed to talk to each other freely in an entire school day? Their only time to commune with one another is at lunch and then that's taken away because people are not understanding the nature of kids and giving them time to transition from recess to inside lunch.
The PTA moms took their "silent lunch" concerns to the principal and he told them he already knew where they were going with this. He felt that some things need to be done for the common good. He felt that silent lunches every once in a while were a good thing for the kids.
Yeah, I don't think so and neither do they. They're pulling their kids out of school and are glad to be joining our homeschooling group in the Fall.
The PTA moms also were telling me about the ironic poster on the hallway wall right outside the principal's office. It says, "In order to get respect, you must give respect." unless you're busy violating little kids in all sorts of ways day in and day out. In that case, they're just expected to give you respect and not receive it in return.
Monday, May 12, 2008
So let's just turn our attention elsewhere, shall we? Check out this great poll from pollster.com.
The Oregon primary is on May 20th, a week away. Tomorrow is West Virginia---la la la la la la la la, I can't HEAR you, la la la la la la la ...
See the orange dots? That's Obama. See the blue dots? That's Hillary. See the numbers? They show Obama's projected win over Hillary when Oregonians will come out in full force and rally behind Obama and give him a gargantuan sized win over Hillary. I think we should all just stay positive about this thing, and realize that the voters in Oregon will put Obama over the top in the delegate count. The people will decide this for Obama.
If you want some real analysis and not just my hand over my ears singing la la la la la about West Virginia, I suggest you check out this post from Daily Kos. It makes the point that Appalachia may be the most homogeneous region in the United States and the most insular and uneducated and poor--you know, Hillary's demographic. They don't take too kindly to no outsiders there...
From the post:
The ethnic and cultural character of this part of the country has been more static since the 19th century than anyplace in America. Outside of some of the new growth areas north of Atlanta or Huntsville, or in some of the college towns, most of the people in Appalachia trace their heritage back to immigrants from the borderlands of Northern Britain who began settling the region over 200 years ago. Outside of the Northern part of Appalachia—Pennsylvania in particular—relatively few Eastern or Southern Europeans from the great waves of immigration that started in the 1880's have moved in to the area. It's the most homogeneous region in America. The region is home to few Catholics, and is heavily Baptist and Methodist.In the 19th century, migrants from Appalachia moved west. People from Appalachia settled and put their stamp on the Ozark region of Missouri and Arkansas, on Okalahoma and the southern Plains, on North Texas, and eventually they were a big part of the initial growth of Southern California.
West Virgina and Kentucky are right in the heart of Appalachia, so I don't think Obama will fare well there, but he has done very well with whites everywhere else, as is explained in the post.
Come on Oregon! Let's show West Virginia that there's nothing to fear, but fear itself! We can move forward! We can overcome our past divides!
Check out this post too from Daily Kos. It explains how and why West Virginia shouldn't be written off and the people forgotten there. Yes, they're voting for Hillary, but they are a swing state and can be persuaded to see things in a new light if they're not talked down to.
West Virginia, I can't hear you! *hands over ears* La la la la la la la la...but, I want to hear you. I think you should be heard. We all should.
Because, this land was made for you and me. This land is your land. And, this land is my land.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
As the littlest in a group of four siblings, it was my job to get reception. It meant that I would see the screen at an extreme angle, because I also had to not get my head in the way. For the longest time I didn't mind--it didn't occur to me to mind, because after all, how would we watch anything, unless I held the plastic dial just so? It was only reasonable. Poor kid. And yet, as we sometimes point out at family gatherings, I'm the only one who doesn't wear glasses--maybe that radiation wasn't so bad, eh? Maybe you SHOULD sit so close to the T.V.
When we would pile into our green Ford station wagon to go anywhere, my sister D. and I would be the ones in the back. There were no seat belts. Say what?! Yes, people-born-after-the-70s, there was a time when families would travel together and the kids would not be strapped in and neither would the parents. What were we thinking??? Really, let's just sprinkle everything with DDT, eat some red dye # whatever it was, and let the kids jump around in the very back of the station wagon! Not only that, but my Dad would smoke a big cigar, even on our cross country trip to Colorado. At home he would smoke cigars and pipes, depending on the mood and what he was reading at the time. My Dad would be in his chair in the living room reading and smoking and then would be the last up to bed, but meanwhile I was in my room reading with a towel blocking the bottom crack of the door to not let the light leak out and I would eventually go to sleep, book in hand.
One time, we all piled into the station wagon and went to the zoo. I was very little, maybe two or three years old. I had a teeny, tiny yellow vinyl purse. It was the kind of purse that a little girl would love to tell you about--how it was yellow and shiny and had a little snap to close the flap and I could have put flower petals in it or a piece of bark found in our backyard amid the violets and next to the pussy willow, or one of Barbie's shoes. I'm sure I would have liked to share that with nice people except that I was desperately shy. Maybe not desperately shy, but shy. I wouldn't start coming out of myself until second grade when I discovered that I could crack up a table of first graders at lunch time. Maybe talking wasn't such a bad thing.
I have dim, distant memories of the zoo trip. We were near a cage of crazed spider monkeys, or some other kind of screechy, jittery monkeys, and I was near the bars. One monkey darted out a little hand and snatched my yellow purse away from me. The monkeys had it! I cried. So, my mother lioness Mom just stuck her hand right in the cage and snatched it back! Ha! Now, that's a Mom.
In the 70s my Mom also rode her bike over to Art Hodes house and took lessons and learned to play a mean jazz piano from him. She has a wicked left hand, very elegant, and has played in a big band that she just retired from after 10 years. Now, she goes every week to a local hospital and plays piano in the lobby and has people come up and compliment her and has even gotten a gig to play at a wedding reception and at a restaurant on New Years Eve. Now, that's a woman.
I remember my Mom would dust the house listening to Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday. As a child I was exposed to all sorts of music--folk, big band, blues and mostly dixieland jazz. My kids are also now hearing all sorts of stuff. We all like it here.
I also remember that my Mom had her household much more organized than I ever have mine. She managed it. The were notes on the cabinets and a master list on the table and jots on the calendar and then scribbles over them as each day was marked off. Items were transferred from one list to another and this all took place in the kitchen. The kitchen that had the medium sized primary colored flowers scattered all over the wallpaper that reminded my Dad of Babar and the elephants' butts when they frightened the rhinos away by disguising them with wigs and paint to look like faces. The flowers did look a little like that, but it was cheery. On the counter was a can that held pencils and pens. There was a choice of writing implements.
My Mom, it should be understood, had a lot to manage. She had little league and ballet, and gymnastics and softball and tennis and tap and choir concerts to take us all to. She had to get herself to Art Hodes once a week for her lesson, there were three sets of orthodontist appointments (how come M. didn't need braces?), dentist appointments for all, cooking and cleaning up after 4 kids and her cigar/pipe smoking husband. She had a lot to keep track of. And she liked to use a certain pen to maintain it all in her notes and calendar.
It turns out that we all liked that pen and would walk it right out of the kitchen and use it for homework or writing down phone messages or for doodling. Mom would absolutely freak out if the pen went missing. She could have used another pen or a pencil, but she wanted her favorite pen and now I realize is that so much to ask for?! Is it?!
We kids, on the other hand, just thought she should lighten up. God--there's a whole can of pens or pencils! What's the big deal?! It didn't occur to any of us that we grabbed that pen in the same way that our Mom did--that pen ruled. It was a pleasure to use. Everyone chose that pen, it just felt right. If it was no big deal, then why didn't WE choose another pen or pencil?
It was not until adulthood that I realized the significance of that pen. That pen was my Mom's sanity. That was her tool to keep her family together. That pen helped her control an almost completely uncontrollable group of people and their time and all of their demands on HER!!! She needed that pen. She needed her notes.
One time, I was about 10 or so, and I took down every single note from the cabinets and hid them all and waited in mischievous delight. My Mom came in from outside, shrieked, in her gentle way, and demanded to know where they were right now! She laughed with me as I got them all for her.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom! Sorry about the whole pen thing. I get it now. Thanks for grabbing my purse back! I would do the same for my daughter, if I could.
Happy Mother's Day Mom--I love you!
Friday, May 9, 2008
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Here's the Oath of Office that the President must swear to as is prescribed by the Constitution in Article II, Section 1, Clause 8:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
The Constitution then is the highest law of the land and it is the foremost duty of the President to protect it. A President obviously must understand it and know what would be constitutional and what wouldn't. It's his job.
So does John McCain know that his good friend, Reverend Rod Parsley, thinks that the purpose of the United States is to destroy Islam?
That's unconstitutional, right? If the United States set out to destroy a religion, that would be against the First Amendment, wouldn't it? There's no way John McCain would align himself with such anti-American views as that, right? The Constitution is America. The freedoms outlined in it are what America is about and has been from the beginning.
Does John McCain know the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States? I don't think he does.
Maybe someone should tell him...
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Earlier today, my daughter and I were playing "Hairdresser". She doesn't quite know how to play it, having seldom experienced it--kind of like Mary and Laura playing "Town", but she gets some of the nuanced communication between Professional Aesthetician and Client.
She discovered that I homeschool. "Oh. Is it like school at home, or do you do lots of workbooks, or what?" she asked as she worked on my head. So I explained to the hairdresser that we're pretty low key around here and learn all year long in various ways.
My daughter noticed how smooth my hair was, after she brushed it, and complimented me on its shininess and what a good job I must've done yesterday brushing it myself for it to be so smooth today. I thought she should get the credit, and she said that that's how I compliment her after she brushes her hair--this was her chance to return the favor. I thanked her and said she was the best hairdresser I've ever known, and she pointed out, "for a blind person." You see, she was a blind hairdresser and could make my beautiful coif with just the touch of her ultra-sensitive fingers.
I'm reading the fifth book of the Laura Ingalls Wilder series out loud to the kids, By the Shores of Silver Lake, and in the first chapter we learn of Mary having come down with Scarlet Fever and then becoming blind. Both kids thought that was awful, but my son thought it would be cool to become someone's eyes for them, as Pa had instructed Laura to do for Mary.
And speaking of seeing, my son looked up from his Calvin and Hobbes book and noticed my growing streak of grey at the upper left of my forehead, as the hairdresser was performing her magic on my head with hair sticks and clips and barrettes and hair bands.
We talked a bit about how my hair has been getting more grey in it the last couple of years. My son asked why people go grey, and I didn't know for sure, but said that the part of the body that produces the pigment for the hair starts to shut down and it just comes out grey. Then my son explained what he thought about it all.
He bets that in cave men days, the people going grey would be the most powerful. They were the strongest because they'd lived longer and had the wisdom of experience and observation and would be seen as the wise elders. If you take Dumbledore, for example, he had glasses and a long grey beard and was very wise. I heartily agreed with my son's take on it all.
Around here, I can look like a crazy person with my hair sticking out in all sorts of ways from my hairdresser daughter and I'm seen as BEAUTIFUL! The fact that I have grey in my hair only means that I'm WISE to my son.
Beautiful and wise--what could be better?
I love my kids! They are beautiful and wise too, even without the crazy hairdo or grey hair.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Congratulations Mr. Obama. Well done on winning another big state. Well done on closing the gap in Indiana. We are all enjoying your victories and look forward to November when we can vote you the next president of the United States.
It feels like it's been a long, cold lonely winter. Hey! That puts me in mind of a song...
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Here is a quiz from Moveon.org. It poses a few questions to see if you can tell the difference between Bush and McCain. Your choices: Bush, McCain, Bush & McCain.
For the record, I got 4 out of the first 5 correct. I forgot what I got in the bonus rounds--I was too appalled to keep track!
Oh. Here's a little song from McCain.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Let's just turn our attention elsewhere, shall we? (My hands are over my ears and I'm going like this--lalalalalalalala, I can't hear you mainstream media, lalalalalala)
Do you guys know about Putumayo World Music? It's great collections of music from all over the world. They also have a kids division, and we have a couple of their CDs, including, World Playground.
A French performer, Manu Chao, has a great song called Bongo Bong and the kids and I like it a lot. OK I like it a lot, but they listen to it along with the other songs.
Here it is.
Good luck Obama!
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Yeah, I don't think so...but, my husband was just watching Mariah Carey on Saturday Night Live and he said in complete puzzlement,
"Doesn't she rock out?"
Me: Uh, no. She's a Pop queen.
Husband: But, doesn't she use an acoustic guitar?
Husband: Yeah, she plays an acoustic guitar.
Me: Are you thinking of Melissa Etheridge??
Husband: I don't know...they're all the same.
Me: What?! Mariah Carey is a Pop singer and goes up and down the scales and Melissa Etheridge plays guitar and had David Crosby father her babies with her lesbian ex-lover. How are they the same?!
Husband: I don't know--they look the same to me...
You make the call: Mariah Carey and Melissa Etheridge separated at birth?
What is this song about any way?
Are there songs that you like, but you don't know the words very well? In the 80s, when Z. Z. Top (who I don't really like) was "just looking for some tush" I always thought that they were singing that they were "just looking for some touch." I thought it was some kind of euphemism. My older sister thinks that's hilarious. Yeah, well. Fine.
OK. Let's all enjoy Procol Harum's Whiter Shade of Pale.
Also, what does Procol Harum mean?
Friday, May 2, 2008
I went over from the shelter area to all of our kids just to see how they were doing and see how they were playing. I saw a cute little boy who I didn't know, playing on the slide.
"Hi!" he said to me.
"Hi Anthony. I'm Laura."
"I'm 3 years old."
"I'm 42 years old."
"Oh. My name is Anthony and I'm 3 years old!"
One day, Anthony will be able to count to 42 and will know what I said. In the mean time, he's happy even though he can't count that high yet.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Someone said I should write whatever I want. Damn straight! And, 2 people voted for we trust your judgment, but really that was just part of the "Write whatever you want we trust your judgment implicitly, Laura!" option. If you write a poll choice and it's too long, it gets cut off by the incoming results numbers. So I realize the answer choices weren't completely clear.
In any case, no one voted for the "No fluff pieces ever." option.
OK, so only 4 people voted, and one of them was me...do you really want to make something of that?! Aren't there more important things to think and talk about? Or, are there?
Here's some fluff for you.