Sunday, November 30, 2008

Just One More...

The only thing wrong with 5 days off from school is that I can always use JUST ONE MORE. I've accomplished so much today, but there are always a multitude of other things that are just as pressing. And we didn't win the lottery AGAIN. Sigh.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I was raised not just Baptist, but Southern Baptist. That meant I got the message that I should be good, read the Bible, go to church twice on Sunday and once on Wednesday, not smoke or drink, tithe 10%, witness to others both near and afar, and after doing all of that I would probably go to hell anyway.

Maybe that's not the message I was supposed to get, but it's the one I went away with.

I have a nephew who converted to Catholicism, one who is a Jehovah's Witness, my mother attends a Methodist church, my sister goes to the Church of the Nazarene (I think?), and we have a whole host of heathens.

I am officially a Presbyterian, a denomination I found extremely comforting after my years as a can't-quite-get-there Baptist. I actually started attending the Presbyterian church when Sweet Girl was about four years old because it was the closest one to where I lived in a previous wifetime. Then their piano player resigned, and I took that job. It meant leading the choir (8 members strong on a GOOD day) and leading the congregation in singing the hymns. All while playing the piano. After our minister moved away it also meant that I was responsible for choosing the hymns, which meant I could pick the ones I knew how to play well. Then I also inherited the job of typing, copying, and folding the church bulletins every Sunday. And I taught Sunday School.

No wonder I joined the legions of heathens. When I was working on my doctorate, I needed Sundays to study and write. And do statistics. So I resigned from playing the piano in church. Sorry, God. And although it's been more than 4 years since I graduated for the FINAL time, I haven't gone back to attending church regularly.

There are so many religions out there. And devout members of every single one of them are convinced.... CONVINCED..... that their beliefs are the correct ones. Who is to say that one set of beliefs is better than another? I used to voice that question aloud in the adult Sunday School class. I wasn't very popular there. No wonder they asked me to go teach the teenagers. But think about it..... if a person is born and is exposed to one set of beliefs only, grows up practicing those beliefs piously, and dies sixty or seventy years later without adopting the "right" set of beliefs, is that person destined for the fires of hell? Whose fault is it?

I think that's what I hated most about being a Baptist. The message was that if we didn't go out and save the masses, they were doomed to the eternal fires. What if I missed one? What if I knocked on a door and no one answered and I turned away and it turned out that they were just in the shower after all, and they wound up going to hell because I didn't get the chance to tell them about their one shot at salvation? Oh, the pressure!

All this is to say that I have created my own religion. Anyone can join, and the rules are really easy.

  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Be kind to other people.
  • Be kind to animals.
  • Treat the earth with reverence and leave it a better place than you found it.
  • Enjoy nature, music, art, books, and people.
  • Believe in a superior being if you want, and allow others their own beliefs without criticism, persecution, or condemnation.
If you want to worship with me, just show up at my house any Sunday. Or Saturday. Or Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday. We may go for a bike ride.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Saddest Christmas Tree Ever...

After much internal debate, I put up our Christmas tree today. It has become a tradition for me, putting the tree up the day after Thanksgiving. I used to insist on a live tree, but a couple of years ago I found one of those pre-lit ones on sale right after Christmas, and I haven't looked back. Talk about easy...

I never debated before about having a tree. It was always just assumed that we would have one. Four years ago, when Sweet Girl was in the Persian Gulf the FIRST time, I had a really hard time at Christmas. I didn't feel much like celebrating anything. I did put the Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving, but my heart wasn't in it. Especially when I was sliding it into place and it tipped over. The only ornaments that broke were Sweet Girl's collectible Hallmark ones. I sat down and sobbed.

This year she's not in the Persian Gulf, but she's not coming home for Christmas. She has duty on Christmas Day, and she said it's too far to come for so little time. I can understand her point, but still.... She has her own place now, and she's excited about being in her condo for the first time at Christmas. Last year she had just bought her place when she went out to the Gulf again. Those deployments always seem to include being away for Christmas.

One thing that finally convinced me to put the tree up this year was that NOT putting it up would be way too much like my mother. She always said she hated Christmas, and I can kind of understand, since she was a single mom with 5 kids to try to make happy. But she didn't have to hate it enough for the rest of us. She resisted putting up a tree, even if we were having Christmas dinner at her house. One year she took the tree down WHILE WE WERE STILL EATING DINNER. Another year she didn't put up a tree at all; she just hung a couple of ornaments on a plant.

I'll bet you thought I would never get around to telling you about the saddest Christmas tree ever....

When Sweet Girl was two and a half, my divorce from her dad was final on December 23rd. I don't guess there is a GOOD time for a divorce to be final, but Christmas time seemed the worst of all. She and I were living in a single-wide trailer that seemed perpetually cold to me. Literally and emotionally. I was in my first year of teaching, I was teaching middle school, and the pressures of the impending holiday only added to my stress. I kept putting off getting a Christmas tree, mainly because I didn't know how to go about it. And I was stubborn about asking for help. Or something.

Finally I went to the nearby Piggly Wiggly and bought one of the last trees they had, something along the lines of Charlie Brown's tree. I drove a very small car, so this is what getting the tree home entailed: I drove to Mom's office and borrowed the company van, switching the car seat, then I went to the Pig and bought the tree, then I took it home, then I drove back to the office and retrieved my car, switching the car seat again. Hauling a sleepy toddler with me the whole time.

I may have purchased a tree stand, or I may have managed to retain custody of one from the marriage. But the tree I bought wouldn't fit in the stand. The base of the tree was too fat. And I DID NOT retain custody of any tools from the marriage. I had no saw, no hatchet, nothing with which to make that tree fit into the stand. All I had was a very large butcher knife, with which I furiously set about chopping off enough of the base of that tree to make it fit. Furious being the key word. The harder I chopped, the harder I cried. And I accomplished nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Usually I'm not one to admit defeat, but there was nothing else I could do. I could have called my ex and asked him to come help, but I'd have died and gone to hell first. So in the end I stood the tree up in a corner, with not the first ornament on it, and that was our Christmas tree. Sweet Girl thought it was very cool that we had a tree in the house. She didn't know it was supposed to have stuff on it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Things to be Thankful for...

  • I won't have to put any toys together for Christmas
  • Sweet Girl is NOT in the Persian Gulf this year
  • I don't have to be disappointed that hubby didn't get tickets to the SEC Championship game this year
  • We don't have a mortgage
  • Our Spring Break trip is already paid for
  • We don't have to go into debt to buy Christmas gifts
  • College gymnastics will start soon
  • Only 1282 days until I retire
  • Only 431 days until hubby retires
  • Billy Joel is going on tour again next year with Elton John
  • Reruns of Newhart are still funny
  • Cloris Leachman probably will NOT be on Dancing with the Stars next season
  • Advertisements for the run-off elections can only last 5 more days
  • Families are still the cheapest form of entertainment

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Has anyone else out there been Googled? Did you get that combination feeling of being slightly flattered and slightly creeped out?

I got an email a couple of years ago from a guy I dated in college. Seriously dated. As in talked about getting married. Which was not a topic to be taken lightly, since it involved my converting to Judaism and all.

He found my school email address through the college alumni directory, which I have no recollection of submitting my personal information to, but apparently I did because it's there. I gave him my personal email address because I felt guilty about conducting personal business via county-provided email resources. I have since abandoned such scruples, but whatever.

He sang in the Men's Glee Club in college, and I sang in the Women's Glee Club. There were three couples from the two groups, and I swear I am not making this up: Joni and Tony; Cheryl and Ferrell; and............ Michael and Dena. Whatever. Neither of us majored in music, but we both enjoyed singing and performing with our respective groups. The two glee clubs went on an out-of-town trip to sing Verdi's Requiem with the Savannah Symphony Orchestra. We had sung the same two-hour piece (all in Latin) at a concert at our university, but with an intermission, and we were allowed to sit down during the lengthy solo section in the middle. Not so in Savannah. The conductor there was........ shall we say....... temperamental, and he refused both luxuries during that performance. I thought I would die from standing in heels for the entire performance. And because I'm short, I was always on the front row. I couldn't even afford to pass out. But I digress.

Michael and I started dating after that trip, and we were pretty much in each other's hip pocket all the time. I hung out at his fraternity house (NOT one of the cool ones), he made the trek out to where I still lived at home. Until I got an apartment in town, when he pretty much stayed at my place all the time. Much to the chagrin of his roommate, who was also his younger brother, who felt obligated to tattle about how many nights Michael didn't come home. But we were THIS CLOSE to getting married, for Pete's sake. Surely that made it slightly less sinful. I did have enough morals to be slightly embarrassed when we waited together at the bus stop right outside my apartment building in the mornings. Not enough morals not to spend the night together; just enough to be embarrassed that everyone else at the bus stop knew we had done so.

We went to football games together, home and away. He and I were at the famous game when Georgia beat Florida with about a minute left to maintain a perfect record and eventually go on to win the National Championship. The winning play was an 86-yard touchdown pass from Buck Belue to Lindsay Scott. Michael and I had on matching UGA jerseys; he wore Belue's #8 and I wore Scott's #24. Please just shoot me now.

Michael took me to my first Braves game, too. That was back before the dynasty years, when you could go to the stadium and sit pretty much anywhere you wanted to. They were just happy for all seventeen of us fans to show up before first pitch.

His family also had tickets to the Masters (he was from Augusta), and that is pretty much unheard of. The only way even to get on the WAITING LIST for Masters tickets is for someone to die. We went to the Saturday round in 1980 (I think), and we followed Jack Nicklaus around Augusta National. He was playing with a relatively unknown golfer from Australia whom I thought kind of cute. His name was Greg Norman. Word.

I'm sure Michael had some outstanding qualities. Other than the Masters tickets, I mean. But we eventually went our separate ways, and it was painful because although I knew it was for the best, I wanted it to be MY idea. Not his mother's.

When he Googled me, I felt slightly flattered and slightly creeped out, as I mentioned before. I sent him a picture of me and Sweet Girl at her graduation from basic training, because I thought it was an excellent picture for showing how much we look alike. He sent pictures of his four (four!) children, ranging in age from 6 to 20, or something like that. I hoped that I had aged better than he had. Okay, I also chose the picture from basic training because I thought it showed a youthful portrait of me. Full disclosure here.

We exchanged a few more emails. I sent him an ecard on his birthday, and he was impressed that I remembered. But I specialize in random dates and pieces of useless numerical information, remember? It was also part of his email address. Big old bag of duh.

After a couple of weeks of trading emails, he suddenly said we had to stop communicating because his wife of 20 years wouldn't like it. [You looked ME up, you dolt, do you not remember that?] He was always prone to melodrama and mushiness, and he closed his final email with something along the lines of, "Like an old Barry Manilow song says, 'some day our paths may cross again.'" Now I'm no Barry Manilow expert, regardless of how many of his albums I still have on my shelf, but I don't remember that line from any of his songs. Feel free to correct me if you know otherwise. Who the hell quotes Barry Manilow anyway?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gotta Love a Two-Day Week....

My favorite kind of work week: a Monday and a Friday. Well, not really, but it seemed like it. We even got to wear jeans today, since it was the last day before the long Thanksgiving weekend. We didn't actually get permission to wear jeans, but we did and we're still employed, so there.

I am definitely NOT a day-after-Thanksgiving shopper. I just saw a commercial on television that I could have saved $50 on the GPS I got for Sweet Girl's Christmas present (don't worry, even though she has the link, she wouldn't be caught dead reading her mom's blog) if only I were willing to show up at 5:00 AM Friday morning. That ain't happening. Oh I don't mind getting up that early. I frequently get up earlier than I have to on days when I don't have to go to school. Last Friday, when I played hooky? I was up at 5:45.

And Friday I will be in a state of high excitement, looking forward to the wealth of college football games from which to choose over the weekend. But I am not going to battle the traffic, the crowds, and the crazies just to save $50. Or $100. I apologize if I just called you a crazy. I'm just sayin'.

I don't have any more refills on my blood pressure medicine, so it's time for my twice-yearly visit to my friendly GP, whom I like a lot even if she DOES appear to be about 12 years old. And she keeps going on maternity leave, which means I have to see the doctor in that practice whom hubby is fond of but I CAN'T STAND. I called the office today for an appointment, expecting to make an appointment for early in December. The friendly receptionist asked if I could come in on November 28th at 11:40. Glancing at my calendar, I realized I wouldn't be in school that day, so that would be perfect.

Only after I hung up did I realize what I had done. Scheduled a doctor's appointment for the day after Thanksgiving. The day when I try very hard not to leave the house. I usually put up the Christmas tree and decorate it while I overdose on college football. Hubby either works or plays golf (or both, he's extremely talented that way), so the day is mine. I don't have to put on a bra or make-up or anything other than sweats.


A doctor's appointment the day after Thanksgiving. What was I thinking? Hop right up here on this scale, lady.

Monday, November 24, 2008

If I Only Had a Brain.....

Actually, if my brain only worked like a computer.

I was signing a student's agenda for permission to go to the bathroom/office/water fountain today (see, I can't remember THAT, but..... that inability will become important here in just a moment or two) when I realized today was my ex's birthday.

I don't NEED that information.

Why can't I just delete random facts I no longer need? I don't EVER intend to send him another card. I DO NOT wish him a happy birthday. I only wish he would STOP HAVING birthdays. Okay, maybe that's a little harsh. Unless, of course, you know him. (He is not my baby daddy, so it's okay for me to feel that way.)

I can recite random zip codes of towns all over Georgia. Mom used to own a mailing service (they specialized in junk mail, but I'm not allowed to use that term), and I've been addressing envelopes and typing addresses all my life. So it used to come in quite handy to be able to spout off zip codes without having to look them up.

I don't NEED that information anymore.

It can be quite embarrassing. A few years ago, on a bike ride (of course), I met a man who said he was from Perry, Georgia. Before I could stop myself, I said "31069." He picked up his cafeteria tray and moved to another table, if I recall correctly.

A co-worker came into my classroom the other day asking about pizza deliveries in our town, and I reeled off the phone number of not one but two of them. Okay, one of them has our home phone number but with the digits in reverse order, but the other one I haven't had a reason to call in probably 15 years. And they stopped delivering years ago.

I don't NEED that information.

I remember license plate numbers of people I was in high school with. Cheryl (DAU555) and Ronnie (CAC500) and Amanda (ENG300) stopped driving those cars thirty years ago. They've probably been crushed and melted. So why am I cluttering up my brain with useless information?

If only our brains could be like computers. With the click of a mouse, we could delete unwanted files, defrag the hard drive, and make more room in our brains for stuff we really need. Like where I might have put that $30 and grocery store receipt from a couple of weeks ago.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Best thing in the world to improve my disposition: a chilly bike ride. That's bicycle, not motorcycle. I feel compelled to clarify that.

The temps weren't too bad at the beginning. In fact, I debated whether or not I needed my fleece vest in addition to the long-sleeved t-shirt and long-sleeved jersey I already had on. After all, the sun was shining, temperatures were SUPPOSED to approach 60, and we WERE creating a lot of our own heat.

Boy, am I glad I put that vest on. And my full-finger gloves. We planned to ride 30 miles or so, but we got a later start than we intended. We wanted to be home in time to see the Falcons play at 4:15, so we originally planned for our ride to end at 3:00.

We stopped at a store at 3:00, and we had only ridden 12 miles. We all agreed that we shouldn't ride 30 miles after all. So we rode 35. That's just the way it often happens in cycling, especially when we didn't start out with a definite route. We rode in considerably heavy traffic most of the time, and I left home without my mirror. Grrrr....

If you're interested in seeing the route we took, you can see it here. We averaged 13.1 miles per hour, lower than my friends' averages usually are (thanks for hanging back with me, girls!), but pretty good for me lately. I'd like to improve on that before next spring.

Maybe by spring my feet will be warm.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Habla Espanol?...........

We stopped at Wally-World tonight on the way home to pick up a few things. Cat food mainly, because Big Brutus questions us unmercifully anytime we come home from the store.

Big Brutus: Meow?



We proceeded to the self check-out, in spite of the fact that the machine talks way too loudly, and we usually have something go wrong with the scanner, and everyone in three counties knows it. I don't know why such a seemingly simple machine should stump us so often, but it does. Plus we were buying beer, which automatically meant the self check-out checker person would have to come over and verify that we were over the legal age to buy alcohol.

For some reason that remains unclear to me, hubby pressed the button for Espanol instead of English. So the loud mechanical female voice informed everyone in three counties IN SPANISH that we didn't know what we were doing.

The pictures would have helped. Except I was laughing too hysterically to see them.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Playing Hooky.....

I didn't go to school today, and I'm feeling pretty guilty about it. I needed the mental health day, but since we are a small school and there are NEVER substitutes available on any given Friday, that meant my colleagues had to absorb my classes for the day. I usually take my three personal days during the school year for bicycling trips, and I know about them well enough in advance to schedule a substitute. I have only taken 4 sick days in the 4 years our school has been open. Five counting today. And two of those were to see Sweet Girl's ship return from a seven-month deployment to the Persian Gulf. Those shouldn't even count.

And I wasn't sick today. I was just angry. I was angry at...... Never mind, I can't remember if I gave the person I'm mad at the link to my blog when I first started it. Not that she won't know. If she can get her head out of her rear end long enough to think about it. But it's probably better not to put it in writing. Yet.

When I called in this morning, I talked to the only person who is there at that time of morning. I didn't mind her knowing the true non-reason for my absence. I told her my attitude had a bad rash and my disposition was plumb swole up. (That's country Southern for "swollen," if you're reading from another part of the country/world.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What a Dork....

I have long been of the opinion that if I share the really dorky things that I do with the entire world, then maybe they won't appear so dorky after all. Or maybe it's a cathartic effect, but I've always felt compelled to share my idiocy with anyone who will listen. And if they won't listen, I chase them down the hallway and make them.

I had a department meeting for my part-time virtual teaching job tonight, and we have to wear headsets so we can talk/listen to the presentation. And other people's stupid questions. Because they don't listen the first time. Or they may be like me, and they minimize the presentation and go off to grade assignments or something, because it's very hard just to sit there and listen to stupid questions.

Anyway, the meeting mercifully ended after only three and a half hours (really it was only an hour, but it FELT longer), so I clicked out and resumed my grading and reading discussion postings and answering emails and reading blogs and finally went to my own blog to write tonight's post. Only after I had started typing did I realize that I still had on my headset. What a dork.

Which reminded me of one time on BRAG when Katydid and I were sitting around our campsite after a long day on the bicycle, drinking beer with our brother, who doesn't ride a bicycle and only went along for the entertainment factor. And to be another person who would perpetually keep Mom pissed off. But I digress. We were sitting there in the small patch of shade, just enjoying life and people-watching. Please get this mental picture, or you won't understand how funny this is. And you'll think I'm JUST a dork.

This motor home drove by our campsite, obviously carrying some BRAG riders (some folks aren't in to the whole riding a bicycle 60 miles and then sleeping in a tent with 2000 other folks nearby in the 90-degree Georgia heat, the wimps) with a sort of old dude driving it. He was still wearing his bicycle helmet.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Monk Moment #1..........

If you have ever watched the television series Monk, you will totally understand what I'm talking about. I always knew I had a few of Monk's characteristics in me, but I didn't know what to call them. Except idiosyncrasies. Emphasis on idio. After I started watching recorded episodes of the series (starting at the beginning and proceeding in order, of course), I started NOTICING more and more how many little things I have in common with Monk. I'm not a germophobe, of course, but there are some things that I fixate on and can't seem to let them go. I have determined lately that the degree of control I have over whatever is bothering me determines whether or not I can let go of it. If I can fix it, generally I HAVE to fix it. If it's something I CAN'T fix, then I don't let it bother me.

For example, on the last bike ride that Katydid and I did (that sounds stupid, doesn't it?), we rode by the same building twice a day three days in a row. In the front window of this building, the blinds were askew. You know what I mean, one slat out of line and therefore showing a gap. Someone on the INSIDE of that building really should have fixed that blind. But since it was the weekend, and the building was closed, I couldn't fix the blind myself. So I shrugged it off and forgot about it. [Side note: If it had been a weekday, and that window had been in a public room, and I had been able to get in there, I probably would have fixed it.]

Monday night we went to a seminar about laser vision surgery. There was a whiteboard on which the presentation was to be displayed. There were Expo markers and an eraser in the marker-and-eraser-holder underneath the whiteboard. I'm sure it has a real name; in the old days it would have been the chalk tray, but who uses chalk anymore?

The eraser in the tray was dead center relative to the whiteboard. So far so good. There were twelve markers, an even number. Getting better. There were six markers on one side of the eraser and six markers on the other. Nearly perfect. ONE OF THE MARKERS ON THE RIGHT WAS FACING THE WRONG WAY. I looked at that marker; looked at hubby; looked at that marker; looked at hubby. Hubby looked puzzled. I whispered, "I'm having a Monk moment." Just as I was about to get up and turn the marker around, the doctor came in to start the seminar. I think hubby was relieved.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Test Post.........

I'm testing whether or not I can post from my Crackberry, as my students call it. My entire decision of whether or not to go on RAGBRAI next summer might hinge on this. Oh yeah....and a potential divorce.


Well it worked, but I'm not sure I want to do a post of any great length using only my thumbs.

I first rode in RAGBRAI in 2004, and I explained to hubby that it was like him playing golf at Pebble Beach. RAGBRAI is the granddaddy of all bicycle rides, and I couldn't turn down a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Well, maybe twice-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Because I went back in 2006. RAGBRAI is a week-long bicycle ride across Iowa, but from Georgia it turns into a 10-day trip. Hubby doesn't like for me to be away from home that long. Isn't that sweet? Or maybe he just runs out of laundry. And food. My world's-last-perfect-man's only flaw is that he doesn't cook. But I don't either, much, so maybe that isn't it. Whatever.

On the last trip to Iowa, I called hubby from some semi-remote spot in the middle of Iowa and said, and I quote myself, "If I ever mention RAGBRAI again, I hope you pop me right in the mouth." It wasn't that I didn't love Iowa; it's just a long, arduous, complex event very much unlike BRAG, our own cross-state ride. He agreed that I had accomplished it twice, and I ride across Georgia every summer, so I didn't need to do it anymore. (We won't mention the number of times he has played our local golf course, and many more throughout the state, but he continues to make that a weekly, twice-weekly, sometimes thrice-weekly activity.) Plus this is the way I felt many days on RAGBRAI:

Not really, I was just hamming for the camera.

But now the RAGBRAI bug has bitten again. There will be a BRAG contingent to Iowa next July, and I've been invited to go. **Come on, Rozmo, you know you want to go too.** Katydid, also known as my stoker, has indicated she might not be able to ride BRAG next summer because it possibly conflicts with the vacation time of a co-worker. So I proposed to her that we ride RAGBRAI instead. I think every cyclist should experience RAGBRAI at least once in his/her lifetime. It's something she and I have dreamed of ever since we started cycling back in 1992. Iowa isn't flat, but we can keep our fingers crossed that it won't be a killer on the tandem.

Now I know that I can post to my blog while we're out there. If I can only figure out a way to mention it to hubby before next July..........

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday Funnies....

Two equally hilarious things I've heard in the past two days, sort of connected but sort of not.

My mother is toying with the idea of moving back to a retirement community that she just moved OUT of a few years ago because she hated it there. She pretty much hates people. Toying my foot...she's probably writing them a check even as we speak. And when she moves back in there, she's going to have internet access again, and it's only a matter of time before she finds this blog, and then she's going to beat me with the butcher knife again. But I digress.

She called me yesterday to ask me what she should do. But not really. She wants someone to blame for a decision that ultimately will be wrong. If she stays where she is (living on the edge of my brother's property in the middle-of-freakin-nowhere) she will be miserable. If she moves back to this retirement community where there are lots of old people she will be broke AND miserable.

I met her there tonight to see the apartment that she's possibly going to get (well not really, because they haven't quite finished moving the woman's things out who apparently just died on Saturday, and they called Mom offering the apartment on Sunday--what a morbid business), but one just like it. She doesn't like the layout of it, and the bedroom looks like it should be a closet or something. Mamaneena could use it for her office. I told Mom to put the bed in the living room, which is large. Damn, I have digressed again.

When Mom called me yesterday, she said she didn't know what to do. I kept telling her to consider the pros and cons of both situations and decide where she would be LEAST unhappy. At my brother's she's alone all the time, because my brother works out of town. And Mom is Mom. Nuff said. At the old folks place, I mean retirement village, there are all those people. People bother Mom. They get on her nerves big time. And they ride their scooters.

At the end of our conversation, Mom said she would just have to pray about it. (This praying business is coming from the same woman who beats children with a butcher knife, mind you.)

"But," she said, "while I'm praying about it, I'm going to start packing."

And the other sort-of-but-not-directly-connected funny that I heard today came from a young co-worker. He used to work at a funeral home, and he was the one who answered the phone one day when someone from this same retirement community called.

"One of our residents has expired," the voice said.

He thought to himself, "Why are you calling us? Can't you just renew them?" He thought they were talking about a lease or something.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Friend Peter....

I met Peter through cycling. I had seen him a few times on BRAG, but one year on our Spring Tune-Up ride, he carried my luggage to my tent for me. Normally that wouldn't be noteworthy, even in these days of chivalry's terminal condition. Peter, however, has cerebral palsy, and physical tasks aren't easy for him. But he cheerfully carried my bag to my tent, chattering the whole way. Peter chatters a LOT. He doesn't let his condition keep him from cycling as much as he can. He sets a mileage goal every year (or at least he has for the past two years), and he keeps me updated on how much progress he has made. I haven't made much progress on my own goal this year, and I don't even have a debilitating condition that I can blame. Unless they have documented laziness as a condition and I'm not aware of it. If so, I know a LOT of people who will be signing up for disability pretty soon.

Peter is cheerful, and he has a wicked sense of humor. He rides with a wide variety of silly adornments on his bike helmet. When he isn't physically capable of riding the long distances associated with BRAG, he rides as much as he can and spends the rest of the time just "hanging out." He loves the camaraderie of the ride even when he can't finish the day's mileage.

Last summer on BRAG Peter entered the talent show, and his "talent" was a testimonial of his recent health challenges. He went on for quite some time, but no one in the audience even stirred. I don't think there was a dry eye in the house. His doctor had told him after a surgical procedure that it would be a long time before he was able to ride his bike again. Peter was determined to prove him wrong, and he got on his bike much sooner than the doctor had said would be possible. That's just Peter. He lives mostly on his own, and his condition hasn't kept him from cycling, going to school, and making friends all over the state. Last summer he told me he was writing a book about his experiences with CP.

Peter doesn't let a BIG thing keep him down. I have to remind myself of that when I'm tempted to let LITTLE things bother me.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Wrong Place at Definitely the Wrong Time....

Tonight hubby and I stopped at our new, friendly package store that just opened about a mile from our house. Hubby had been there before and showed the proprietor how to open his Pepsi machine, so he's already a preferred customer. He'll probably build up a lot of frequent shopper points there. As we were leaving, hubby told the man behind the counter, "Don't ever let her come in here alone."

Which reminded me of another story from my senior year of high school. This one also involved my BFF Jason, who was sort of indirectly responsible for my not getting to go to Homecoming my senior year.

We were going to see a friend of ours, and he asked Jason to pick up a bottle of vodka for him. Now this is back when the drinking age in our state was 18, but Jason wouldn't be 18 for three more months. And I wasn't even 17 yet. But there was one liquor store in the next town (we lived in a dry county, for heaven's sake) that would sell to minors with no questions asked. It was called Bubber's. Not Bubba's, which would have been Southern enough, but Bubber's. Bubber himself was on duty on this particular night, but there weren't many other customers. We were always happier when it was a little busier, just in case Bubber wanted to relieve his boredom by checking id's and busting underage customers.

We were headed to the counter with our purchase when I heard a man's voice behind me say my name. With a question mark at the end. Now keep in mind that A) I have an unusual name, so it wasn't likely he was speaking to anyone else; B) we were NOT in our hometown; and C) even if we HAD been in our own town, I shouldn't be hearing someone call my name in the liquor store.

I turned around slowly, and I almost fainted when I saw my step-brother sitting there. Out of uniform. Because not only was he my step-brother, he was a police officer in the town we were in. I hadn't seen him in a couple of months, ever since his father/my step-father died.

"Jimmy!" I said, with all the suave sophistication you would expect from a 16-year-old in a liquor store who has just been busted by her police-officer-step-brother. "What are you doing here?"

He cocked an eye at me. "Funny, I was just about to ask you the same thing."

"Uh........this isn't for us." Wow, this sophistication thing was getting to be really easy. I was a natural at it. I even waved the bottle at him for emphasis.

"Uh huh," he replied sarcastically. He wasn't usually sarcastic with me. "I didn't see you here, did I?"

"NO!" I almost screamed it.

"And I'm NOT going to see you here again, am I?"

"Um, no, absolutely not."

I didn't know why he let us off so easily. Maybe he thought Jason was old enough. Or maybe he was showing his appreciation for how much Jason had done for the family during my step-father's illness and death. Whatever the reason, we hightailed it out of there (vodka bottle in hand).

The next day was Sunday, and Jason and I were off together again, as usual. He took me home, planning to stay awhile. When we drove up, Jimmy's car was in the driveway.

CRAP!!!!! Why did he let us buy the vodka if he was just gonna bust us the next day?

We went in the carport door and scooted on past the living room, barely even acknowledging that anyone was there. We went straight to my room and shut the door, planning what we would say when Mother descended with all her wrath. And boy did she have a lot of wrath. This is the same woman who once spanked me with a butcher knife, but that's a story for another post.

Jason and I cowered in my room when we heard Jimmy's car departing. I have to hand it to Jason, because if the situation had been reversed, I would have dumped him at the curb and skedaddled out of there quick like a bunny.

Mother's voice shrieked through the house when she called my name. Determined to put up a front to the very end, I opened my bedroom door.

"Yes m'am?"

"I just wanted to let you know Jimmy and Kathy were gone. Y'all can watch the Super Bowl now."


Friday, November 14, 2008

Musical Connections.....

Being an English teacher, I appreciate complete circles, fulfilled plots, things that have a beginning and an ending, connections.

I especially enjoy connections that occur in fields other than literature. I'm silly enough to think sometimes that I'm the only one who notices these subtle relationships.

Take, for example, two songs by Queen, "Bicycle Race" and "Fat-Bottomed Girls." I am not a huge Queen fan, so I don't know their lyrics inside and out, upside-down, through and through. I don't even know if these two songs originally occurred on the same album. [Okay, in looking for the album cover, I discovered they WERE released together, and in fact one was the "B" side of the other single.] Anyway, in "Bicycle Race" there is a reference to the fact that "fat bottomed girls are riding today..." and at the end of "Fat-Bottomed Girls" there is a line that says "Get on your bikes and ride!" I just think it's cool that those two songs relate to each other. Even if they WERE released back-to-back on the same single, they didn't HAVE to refer to one another.

And then there are two songs by Billy Joel, whose music I DO know inside and out, upside-down, through and through. I haven't missed a Billy Joel concert in Atlanta since 1978. I don't know whether that's cool or sad. Probably obsessive at the very least. I even celebrate Billy Joel's birthday on May 9th. He's touring with Elton John again next year, by the way, and I'm surmising it's in celebration of his 60th birthday.

These two songs both appear on the CD The Nylon Curtain. One of them is "Allentown," which got quite a bit of airplay if for no other reason than its political statement. The other, however, is a ballad probably known only by the true Billy Joel devotees, and I'd venture to guess that many of THEM couldn't sing the first two lines. It's called "Where's the Orchestra?" and is the last song on the CD. At the very end of the song, it has a reprise of the melody line from "Allentown." That one IS very subtle, and I smile with smug satisfaction every time I listen to it, because I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who has noticed it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Advertising sometimes annoys me. Sometimes it's clever, like during the Super Bowl when companies spend enough money to run a small country for a decade or two just for a 30-second spot, but a lot of the time advertising is downright insulting.

I knew back in the 70's or 80's or whenever they changed the law to allow lawyers to advertise that it was a bad idea. If I see one more "if you've been hurt in a car wreck" commercial, I may sue THEM for hurting my feelings. No wonder we have to pay such astronomical rates for insurance. We have to foot the bill for get-rich schemes for deadbeats and their lawyers. Now before you get all huffy, I realize that there are some legitimate claims and cases in which someone NEEDS to pay and get paid. For every one of those cases, however, there are ten that are frivolous and/or possibly downright fraudulent. But I digress. This really wasn't intended to be an anti-lawyer/anti-lawsuit post.

I realize that the whole purpose of advertising is to convince us to buy a particular product or service over another. And I've been just as guilty as the next person of falling for advertising. We took a trip to Aruba one year based solely on their advertisements. And the fact that no one I knew had been there.

Some things, however, make me just scratch my head and say, sometimes out loud, "WTF?" The other day I was on my way to school and I heard an advertisement on the radio for a new hysterectomy procedure. Because clearly there is a good chance that many women, driving to work at that particular moment, hear that advertisement and say, "Well, there's an idea that hadn't occurred to me. I think I'll get a hysterectomy."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I have always been very picky about people's names, particularly students. I am obsessive about spelling them correctly, and it gets on my nerves when other people continue to misspell their names. I mean it's not like we're teaching middle school, where girls change the spellings of their names every other week and decide that the only way to dot an "i" is with a little heart. Blecccccchhh!

Once at another school I was returning papers, and I noticed that a young man had written his name differently on his paper from the way I spelled it.

"Darrel, does your name have one L or two?"

"It don't matter."

Yes it does matter! It's your name, for God's sake!

Maybe I'm picky about names because I resented my own name for most of my life. I'm pretty much over it now (most of the time), but I HATED it when I was younger. I couldn't understand why I had to have the weird name. My mother named her children Jane, Bobby, Kay, and Jack. Nice, simple, easy-to-spell, can't-mistake-the-pronunciation names. And then she got to me. D-E-N-A. Also simple. No wasted letters.

And people can't get it. They can't pronounce it when they see it, and they damn sure can't spell it when they hear it. How much easier can it get? I get called "Dana" (long "a" vowel sound), "Denna" (like when they ring the denna bell to call the cowboys to eat on westerns), and "Dee-anna." For God's sake, how do you get three syllables out of D-E-N-A? It doesn't help that I have a niece whose name IS Deanna.

I was named after my great-aunt Dena and her first husband, Joe. Hence my name is Dena Jo, and you just can't get much more Southern than THAT. I had a third grade teacher who insisted on using both names when I was in trouble. I heard "Dena Jo" a LOT. Mom, however, never called me by both names that I remember. It was usually "Dena Dammit." "Stop, dammit." "Shut up, dammit." I distinctly remember bursting into tears when I was about six years old and saying, "My name's not dammit!"

Aunt Dena apparently hated the name too. All of my life she was called "Aunt Dean." She just reversed the "n" and the "a." Then when she was in her 70's, I think, she reverted back to Dena. Personally I think that's a little old to have to learn a new way to sign checks.

I used to teach in a somewhat inner-city school, and calling roll on the first day of school was always..... something of a ....... challenge. Once I was about midway through the list, making notes about how to pronounce names and whether a student went by first or middle name. I got to a name on the list and stopped. Zhenbgrratitopwrest. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but it started with a "Z" and it had that many letters. As I opened my mouth to attempt it, I heard a quiet (male) voice from the back of the room say, "I go by Bushay."

Before I could stop myself, I said, "You don't know how happy that makes me."

One of the computer systems we used at the beginning of my teaching career would print out a list of students' first, middle, and last names, as well as what they went by. I was going over my class roster before the first day of school, and I took my list to my department chair.

"I don't care what this roster says, I refuse to call a child 'Cheesebox.'"

On the same list was a child named Jeffery. Okay, that's cool. Only he went by "Big Sam." He was a sixth grader, for God's sake, how big could he be? He was Jeffery in my class.

In my class last year, a student and I got on the subject of names and whether we liked our names or not. I said the main thing I disliked about my name was that I could never find those cute little key chains, zipper pulls, and other personalized items. (I still look for them in every tourist shop I go into.)

Another student overheard our conversation and agreed with me. "Me too! I can never find my name either. What's up with that?"

I paused. And said slowly, "I'm....not....sure...........Letexias."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans' Day......

Happy Veterans' Day to my favorite veterans...

Hubby served in the Army Reserves in the Vietnam era. He didn't actually have to go overseas, but he missed out on his chance to be a state trooper. He had submitted his application, but the notice to come take the test came while he was in basic training. When he got back, he never pursued it again.

My brother Bobby was only 18 when he went to Vietnam. He enlisted in the Marines right out of high school. It was all he wanted to do. We found out much, much later that he had actually taken the SAT and had made an ASTRONOMICAL score (for that time). But he wanted to serve.I apologize for the poor quality of the picture. It's been in a photo album of mine since high school, and I'm afraid it hasn't always been taken care of. I know Mom has a better one somewhere.

Bobby had a kidney disease, and he was afraid he wouldn't be accepted into the Marines. So he had a friend give his urine specimen for him. (Just try that THESE days.) Bobby went to Vietnam willingly, and he came back safely, only to be killed in a motorcycle accident a year later. I was only 11 when he died, and I think of him often.

And of course my Sweet Girl, the least likely of almost anybody I know to go into the military.
She's been in for five and a half years, and I'm very proud of her.
They are all in aviation, and they want the world to know that they are AIRMEN. Don't confuse them with just any old sailors.

Monday, November 10, 2008

If You Don't Like the Weather...

.....just wait 5 minutes and it will change.

Old and cliche, but especially true here in the South.

We turn on the heat in the morning and the air conditioner in the afternoon.

At our house, we like to heat mostly with the wood stove. Unfortunately, that's something you can't just turn on when you need it. So in order for the house to be warm tomorrow morning, we have to have a fire all the time. Presently it's approximately 127 degrees in the house. But I know I will appreciate it tomorrow morning. Hubby scolds me if I don't put another log on the fire before I go to bed. But it's hard to do with sweat dripping off the end of my nose.

Little Brutus, however, loves it. She would put wood in the stove herself if she had opposable thumbs.

It's pleasant to ride the motorcycle in the afternoons, but it's painfully cold to ride it in the morning. I COULD bundle up, but then I have way too many clothes to bring home in the afternoon. Dilemmas, dilemmas.

For the record, I do not complain when it's 98 degrees with 85% humidity in July and August. I reserve all my bitching rights for the winter.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I Love Sundays....

Maybe I'm just loving THIS Sunday, but I think I love Sundays in general. I'm feeling good today because I got so much done yesterday, and that always perks me up. I also had plenty of "me" time, so I'm feeling recharged and ready for the coming week.

Hubby works every Sunday, and that's the only day I really sleep in. He gets up at 5:00 AM; I don't. This morning it was 7:40 before I rolled out, and for me that's LATE. I figure I have earned it, since in the summer, when I could sleep in EVERY DAY, I got up at 5:00 AM when he did. I actually enjoy getting up that early, knowing I don't HAVE to get ready, I don't to go anywhere, I don't HAVE to do anything except on my own schedule. I taught summer school online, and while it was fairly demanding, I didn't have a set schedule.

Hubby's work day on Sunday isn't very long, however, so we have time to do things together when he isn't playing golf. Since he has played four days in a row this week, he's taking today off. I'm not sure if he's doing that to keep from getting in trouble, but I'll take it. We may go see a movie, or we may just sit around and watch football. I'd like to squeeze in a walk in the park somewhere, because after all, I exercised yesterday, and this would be two in a row! And these pictures are of what we typically get to see when we walk in the park, which is just across the road from where we live.

I love this time of year. The air is crisp, the colors are beautiful, the weight of the holiday season isn't here yet, most of our hard football games are behind us, and it's almost time for college gymnastics. If we can just keep our gymnastics coach out of the hospital...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

All or Nothing.......

I tend to have an "all or nothing" attitude about several things, and it causes me trouble.

I think to myself, "I don't have time to clean the house completely from top to bottom, so I won't do anything at all." If I would just do several small things every day, I wouldn't have such a problem. Even when I DO have time to clean from top to bottom, it seems I never get finished. There's always something to do.

"I haven't exercised all this week, so why bother now?" Well that's obviously a self-defeating statement from the beginning. I've got to start somewhere. Actually, I did start somewhere today. I went to aerobics at the "Y" for the first time in months. But if I miss a day, I have this attitude that I've blown my consecutive days record (who exactly is counting, I wonder?) and I give up.

"I can't possibly grade everything I need to grade. So I'll just play a computer game instead." Sigh. No wonder I stay so far behind.

When I AM in the zone, I tend to be obsessive. I once lost 50 pounds on the Weight Watchers program, and it was because I. Did. Not. Deviate. In those days I counted every point, every bite, every calorie. And I exercised twice a day on many days. But it was hard to sustain, and naturally I gained the weight back. I kept if off for about 3 years, but it started creeping back up.

It DID work for smoking. I put cigarettes down and never touched them again. If only I could do food that way.

I can't attest to how obsessive I am about house work, because it's never happened.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Faint or Flight.....

I have a new twist on the old "fight or flight" reaction. Mine is "faint or flight."

I went to give blood again today, just like I do like clockwork every eight weeks. At least this time I was successful at donating a whole pint, unlike the last time. However, I had to go to time-out when I was finished.

I knew it was coming toward the end of my donation. I was getting very irritated with the technician who took my blood. He was just silly, and I had no tolerance for silly at that particular moment. The worse I felt, the more he got on my nerves. [Side note: It wasn't just me, either. Right before I left, the shift supervisor had him in the corner, and she was reaming him a new one.] For those of you who have been through childbirth [okay, I realize EVERYONE has been through childbirth, but I meant the ones who have actually GIVEN birth], it was sort of like that transition period when you get close to delivering, where you hate everyone in sight, including the person who made you pregnant. Maybe ESPECIALLY the person who made you pregnant.

Right after I decided I may have to kill this young man before I left, I started yawning. I didn't know it until a couple of years ago, but yawning is a bad sign when you're giving blood. I think it indicates the brain isn't getting enough oxygen, and that means you're going to faint. The nurse who told me that said it's quite common for people to yawn right before they die. Thanks for that.

Anyway, the dude who was already getting on my last nerve was speeding me toward the juice-and-cookie table, and I had to ask him to lean my chair back (they usually do that automatically) and let me rest for a minute. Then I felt well enough to go get some snacks, but after sitting at the table for a few minutes the edges started to go black. And voices were coming from a great distance. I finally interrupted a conversation to ask someone to help me lie down.

It's so embarrassing. I give blood six times a year, and this only happens about every four or five years, so I guess that's not too bad a record. But it makes me feel STUPID. I'm afraid people think I get woozy at the sight of blood, and that's not it at all.

Oddly enough, when the feeling first hits me, initially all I can think about is, "I've got to get out of here." I get the feeling that I can outrun this dizziness, this weakness, this embarrassing lack of stamina. Whatever.

The first time I ever gave blood, years ago, I had just started working at the veterinary school on campus. I was sitting in the canteen area feeling so proud of myself, when everything started to get fuzzy and dark. I thought to myself, "I don't know any of these people. I don't want to faint in front of all of these people." So I left and staggered down the hall to my office, where I fainted all by myself. Smart, huh.

Today at least I didn't run away. The volunteers there helped me to a reclining chair and put a wet cloth on my neck. And thank God, they now have a screen that they put up around the weak and infirm so the other donors don't sit there and gawk. Or perhaps get scared and back out of their own donations.

I don't have enough medical knowledge to understand why this happens only sometimes. My theory is that the faster I give a pint of blood, the more likely I am to faint. Today my donation took 4 minutes and 45 seconds. But how do you slow down your blood flow? Hmmmmm...

I also don't understand that urge to flee. And I'm glad that when it hit I wasn't on my Harley.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Definition of Insanity....

I know the definition of insanity is supposed to be doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

If that's a law, I have a corollary to it.

Insanity is wearing a pair of pants to school that you KNOW won't stay snapped. I was just so proud that I could snap them in the first place that I completely ignored the fact that they have a tendency to become UNsnapped.

Further proof of insanity is wearing said pants on a day when you don't have a chance to go home after school because one of your students is participating in the annual chili cook-off, and it's your job to coordinate/supervise/support, and therefore you will be wearing the offending pants for roughly thirteen hours. That equates to approximately nine thousand four hundred eighty-six resnappings. Because even though I had on a loose blouse that completely covered the part-that-is-supposed-to-snap, I just couldn't get comfortable with the fact that I was walking around with my pants undone. I felt like Frank on Everybody Loves Raymond after he's had a big meal.

Even further proof is having to run home during set-up for the chili cook-off because you forgot bowls and having the opportunity to change into comfortable jeans. And shoes. AND THEN NOT DOING IT.

And our chili didn't even win. Hubby said it was the best out of all of them, and he wouldn't lie. Even if he IS a man.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

That's NOT What We Were Talking About......

It was one of those conversations that you can never explain your way out of, particularly if during the explaining your face is beet red and you're laughing so hard you can't talk anyway.

One of my students brought me her agenda today and asked to go to the restroom. When I signed it, I noticed she had written on today's date "pay credit card bill." [Side note: Since when do 16-year-olds have credit card bills?]

I chuckled and said, "Don't forget to pay that credit card bill."

As she left the room, she tossed back over her shoulder, "I won''s a monthly thing."

I laughed. "I know what you mean. I have one too."

At which point I looked up to see two MALE students looking at each other with horrified expressions. They didn't hear the whole credit card exchange. They probably don't understand that I grew up in a time when girls didn't MENTION their cycles. We wouldn't be caught dead admitting they happened at all, much less that it was happening at any given moment. Now girls talk about their cramps as openly as they discuss fixing their hair. And it isn't at all unusual for one to come into my room and ask the room at large, "Anyone got a tampon?" I've seen them sauntering down the hallways carrying their "personal supplies" to the bathroom just like they carry their notebooks to class.

So the guys probably weren't shocked to hear a girl talking about it. What horrified them was to hear their teacher (they thought) bantering about HERS.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Finally, It's Safe to Answer the Phone Again...

...and open the mailbox. And click on an email. And turn on the television. And listen to the radio.

No more being forced to read emails bashing this candidate or making fun of that one or wondering what it is about me that makes someone think I want to read that stuff. I voted last week, I voted for the candidate I think would be best for the country, and I kept my mouth shut about it. Not even hubby asked whom I voted for, and I won't ask him.

No more answering the phone to hear the governor's mother's sister's niece's boyfriend's aunt's baby-sitter endorsing one candidate or the other. I think the final straw was today when there was a message on the answering machine from Gretchen Wilson endorsing a presidential candidate. Now there's a rousing endorsement if ever I heard one. Gretchen-for-God's-sake-Wilson. On my answering machine. Because clearly she's so knowledgeable about all things political just because she has had a hit song or two. Whatever. If I were running for office and she endorsed me, I think I would go to whatever redneck gathering she's ruling over at the moment and punch her in the face. Word.

No more sifting through the mail and HOPING there's a bill tucked away in there somewhere, because for God's sake I can't stand ANOTHER POLITICAL FLIER. I throw them in the wood heater, but most of them don't even burn well. They're not even good for THAT.

No more worrying about opening my mouth when someone starts a political conversation, knowing that I'm bound to offend SOMEONE if not EVERYONE. I try to just let my eyes glaze over and say "ummm hummmm" a lot, but I'm sure that's insulting also.

Please, folks, let's just go back to talking about the economy, global warming, war in general, teen pregnancy, drugs, steroids in sports, Chinese gymnasts, thugs disguised as professional football players, missing aviators, the latest cool technology, year-round school, home schooling, the failure of schools, baggy britches, Britney Spears, Hollywood break-ups, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, nuclear weapons, the mortgage crisis, the Delta-Southwestern merger, drought, hurricanes, Mars Rovers, the Hubble telescope, obesity, health care, Social Security, digital television, pollution, racism, classism, elitism, rheumatism.

Monday, November 3, 2008

My 100th Post...

This is my 100th post since I've been blogging. I'm relatively new to the blogging world, and sometimes I struggle to come up with a topic. When I started, I didn't want it to be a "this-is-what-I-did-today" blog. Neither did I want it to be deep and serious, mainly because it's a struggle for me EVER to be deep and serious. I also can't be witty all the time. So for me it's been a combination of all of those.

In honor of my 100th post, I'm going to list my 5 favorite blog entries, in no particular order. If you asked me tomorrow, I'd probably have 5 totally different favorites.

My Father's Obituary

I Swear it was a Project for Class

8 Seconds from Certain Death
My $300 Pedicure

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Cool? Or Unethical.......

I read a newspaper article the other day about a school where I used to teach. It's a very small, nontraditional high school aimed at drop out prevention. Just like the school where I teach now, the focus is on self-paced learning using a computerized curriculum. Their students tend to be somewhat older than the typical high school student, many of them having dropped out already and made the decision to return to school and earn their high school diplomas. After they have been out in the world, they often realize just how relevant and necessary a high school diploma (or more) is.

The article, though, highlighted the fact that the school had taken a group of these students to the polls to vote in their first presidential elections. In balloon-filled limousines. For which the teachers ponied up about $100 each. And then they took them out to lunch.

My first reaction was, "Well, isn't that cool?" But by the time I finished reading the article, I wondered about the ethics of it all. The article stated that the teachers had been having "conversations" with the students about the candidates and their stance on the issues, etc. It makes me wonder just what form those conversations took. Don't get me wrong -- I don't think the teachers would deliberately do anything inappropriate. But as human beings, how possible is it to keep our opinions out of any discussions about things we feel passionate about?

I don't think their county was holding any major local elections, but one of their teachers is also a county commissioner. What if he had been up for re-election and had chipped in money to take the students to vote? What side of right and wrong would that be on? I happen to think he's a wonderful teacher and a sensible commissioner, and if I lived in that county I'd vote for him too. I'm just sayin'.

This might be a better topic for Debateur Debates, because she's a pro at handling issues like this.

Don't get me wrong. I understand their motivation. They want to instill the habit of voting in these students early in their lives and hope they continue to exercise their civil rights. Maybe they can even extend the lesson to include the fact that once a person is convicted of certain crimes, his/her right to vote may be revoked. (This school is also in a high crime area.) I don't know if voting might be important enough to a potential thug to keep him (or her) from turning to a life of crime, but it couldn't hurt, I guess.

Something about it just bothers me.......


On a completely different note, it is November 2nd, and I have already heard the "give-a-give-a-give-a-give-a-Garmin" commercial jingle twice today. Arrrrrggggghhhh!!!!! I was going to buy Sweet Girl a Garmin for her new car for Christmas, but I may have to get a Magellan or a Tom-Tom in protest of A) annoying commercials; and B) barely-disguised Christmas commercials two days after Halloween.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

It Wasn't Enough......

I did everything I could. I wore my favorite UGA sweater. The one that's so ostentatious I can't really wear it except to special games. In cooler weather. And my UGA socks. And earrings. And bracelet and necklace. And sunglasses. I had tattoos on my face. I even wore my red underwear. But it wasn't enough. We still lost. And we lost badly. I said my heart couldn't take a close game, and the other team ... I can't even say their name ... obliged.

We'll be back next year.