Saturday, February 28, 2009

Friday Nights....

As I was getting ready for bed last night, I realized just how far my weekends have come in the years since college.

Back then I couldn't wait to get off work or out of class so I could start getting ready for a night on the town.

All my nights on the town looked the same. I had the same circle of friends, and we went to the same bars every weekend.

I drank the same thing every weekend.

Usually too many of them.

I slept late on Saturday and usually went to the Burger King across the street from my apartment to get a greasy cheeseburger and fries to cure my headache.

Sometimes I did it again on Saturday night. Sunday afternoon I spent giving a cursory glance to the homework I had been putting off all weekend. Probably explains my GPA.

I'm so glad my Friday nights have changed. Life is so much less complicated, and a darn sight less painful. Not to mention cheaper. This was how LAST night went:

Hubby and I went out to dinner at a Ruby Tuesday that is two miles from our house. [My cycling friend Larry, who is VERY easy on the eye, once pointed out to me that it is Ruby Tuesday, not Ruby Tuesdays as most everyone says.]

I had one beer, a salad, and a sirloin. I don't usually eat steak; I was having a wild streak I guess.

I came home, wrote my blog post, and went to bed.

It was 7:30.

Friday, February 27, 2009

At My Most Irreverent.....

Maybe it's the kind of week we've had at school, or maybe I just tend toward irreverence in general.

When my great-nephew was baptized, I thought our family was going to be the first one ever thrown out of a baptism. In a small church that desperately needed our numbers. We just can't help ourselves when we get together. Someone says something irreverent (and funny), and someone starts shaking with silent laughter, then the next person wants to know what's funny, and we pass it down the pew, and before you know it, the entire pew is shaking. And the regular worshipers are glaring at us over their shoulders.

Today I had just attended the funeral for a 22-year-old, and I was driving home late this afternoon. My day began at 4:15 this morning, when I awoke in a panic, gasping in my head, thinking, "Oh my God, we have five classes of students and three teachers today." One teacher is the step-mother of the aforementioned young man; another is the only male on our staff who happens to be getting married tomorrow.

It wasn't really that bad a day at school. It certainly wasn't worthy of getting up at 4:15 in a tizzy. I went from classroom to classroom, sometimes helping with geometry or algebra (I really should have been a math teacher; it actually makes sense), sometimes just threatening. I guess I really made an impression on one student -- after first period he got in his truck and left. I think I may have actually taught an English lesson or two. At any rate, we dismissed at noon so staff members could attend the funeral, so there wasn't time for the students to realize they outnumbered us and could easily take over.

I was on the way home, and a truck pulled up next to me with one of those decals memorializing someone who has died. Now I'm just irreverent enough to find that a little bit..... different.... okay, it's strange.... to begin with, but this one went a little further.

It said. "In memory of First Name Last Name. Birth Year - Death Year. One Good Electrician."

At first I laughed just because it was funny.

Then I had to ask myself, "If he was so good, why is he dead?"

Then I couldn't STOP laughing.

You have to admit that I warned you with the title of this post.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

OMG......ROFLMAO......NOT.......

Maybe it's the English teacher in me, but I suspect I was this way a long time before I became an English teacher.

I abhor abbreviations. And I love using words like abhor. I especially enjoy using it around teenagers because they have NO idea what it means, and they usually have to look at one another and I know they want to ask each other, "WHAT did she just say?" But I digress.

I can't stand abbreviations. One of the blogs I follow makes me cringe and want to throw up at the same time because her posts are fraught with abbreviations. And I also love using words like fraught.

It's one lol, omg, lmao, roflmao after another.

Come on, really? Can anything really be that funny? And if it is, isn't it worth real words?

Take lol, for example. If something is funny enough to merit an lol, isn't it worthy of a "haha"? It's just one more character. Two if you put a space in there.

I use "ha ha" a lot in my writing. I can add as many "ha's" as necessary to indicate just how funny I think it was supposed to be. Or sometimes I add a bunch of them just to irritate the person to whom I'm writing.

If I find something really funny (or I just want to be extra irritating), I might follow something I've written with something like this:

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

That didn't take much time at all. It accomplishes the same purpose, and no r on the f was required.

I can't even bring myself to abbreviate when I'm texting. I spell the whole word out, even if it's something like antidisestablishmentarianism. Not that the occasion has ever arisen that I needed to type antidisestablishmentarianism in a text message. I guess it helps that I have a Blackberry and every letter actually has its own key.

Another thing that I don't like much but I can't tear myself away from is the ubiquitous smiley face. And I love using words like ubiquitous too, but I'll bet you saw that coming.

I still use smiley faces in my writing occasionally, but I'll bet I erase five of them for every one I let stand. Every time I use a smiley face, I remember reading something in a book by one of those true crime writers. She said that using smiley faces in writing was a common characteristic of women who were incarcerated.

I don't want to get used to it, like it might be bad karma or something.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Maybe it was a Bloody Mary Day AFTER All......

I stopped at our favorite package store on the way home today to buy our favorite bloody mary mix. Not because it was necessarily a bloody mary type of day, but just because I knew we were out of mix. You just never can tell when the need for a bloody mary is going to arise, and it would be tragic to be completely out of mix. Because nothing makes a bloody mary quite like Zing Zang mix does. Mmmmm mmmmm mmmmmm.

Maybe I should have had one after all.

Not that my day turned tragic after arriving home or anything. After all, I didn't even have to make dinner for Hubby. He filled up on nachos and dip, and dinner was unnecessary. And I am completely caught up on grading my online students' assignments, something I can't boast very often.

I don't know why I insist on sharing with the world (okay, the 3 other people who read this blog) when I do totally stupid things. But I feel compelled to do so.

I was on the phone with Sweet Girl when I got a beep that I had another call coming in. It was a dear friend from school, but I didn't click over because I am of the belief that call waiting is evil and rude. It tells the first person you might be talking to, "Oh wait, someone much more interesting and important might be on the other line. Hold on....." If I'm ever talking to you on the phone and you put me on hold to take another call, chances are you won't find me there when you click back. I'm just sayin'.

My friend left a message, and she prefaced it with the statement that I didn't need to call her back.

That's when things went sour.

Because I listened to her message about a church sign that she had seen on her way home, and I agreed with her that it wouldn't entice ME to come in the front doors.

I agreed with her.

Out loud.

I was talking to a voicemail.

Responding to a recording.

Maybe I'll go have a bloody mary after all.......

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Heart Hurts....

My heart hurts tonight for one of my co-workers, whose step-son was killed in an automobile accident this morning.

There are only 6 of us on our staff, so when something happens to one of us, it happens to all of us.

He was only 22 years old.

I know bad things happen to everybody, but she's had more than her fair share in the past few years. She doesn't deserve the heartache she's had lately.

I just don't know how any parent buries a child.

It's just not right.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Once Upon a Time.....

There was a puppy.


He was just a ball of fluff, and we didn't know what to name him.


It was often hard to get him to look at the camera.
He was a Daddy's boy. We finally decided to name him Gus.

Occasionally he had to have a bath.

He was often very sleepy.

Then he grew up and his hair got long and silky, not a fluff ball anymore.

Occasionally his hair would get TOO long, and we would have to take him to be groomed.


Occasionally the groomer would get carried away and Gus would be too embarrassed even to look at the camera.

To make matters worse, we would sometimes do embarrassing things like make him wear UGA football jerseys for bowl games. Then he would put on his Exorcist eyes and stare right at the camera.


He learned to dance. For C-H-E-E-S-E.

And he talked to us and laughed at our jokes. Or maybe he was just laughing at US.


And we all lived happily ever after.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dancing Dude...

Rozmo will remember this.....

A couple of years ago on BRAG, we sat and made fun of people dancing. Not really....at that point we didn't know each other well enough to know that we could make fun of people. If this had happened more recently, we would have had a field day with it.

As it was, the next afternoon our cycling friend Larry asked us, "Did y'all go to the dance last night? Did you see..."

At which point both Rozmo and I shouted, "Yes!"

Larry: "You don't even know what I was going to say."

Bragger and Rozmo: "You were going to ask if we saw that dude dancing, weren't you?"

We have had a lot of fun with this poor guy. I would like to attribute his dancing prowesslessness (don't you love THAT word I just made up?) to the fact that he had (probably) ridden his bicycle 60 miles or so that day.

But I don't really think that's it.


video

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mothers.....

It recently occurred to me that we women spend the first 10-12 years of our lives wanting to be EXACTLY like our mothers.

We spend the next 20-25 years wanting to be ANYTHING BUT exactly like our mothers.

And then we give up and accept the fact that we are destined to BECOME our mothers, and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.

By that time, for most of us, it's too late to stop the cycle, because we've already reproduced.

Further proof that God has a sense of humor.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sure-fire Weight Loss Tips.....

After working out on the elliptical for 30 minutes (on a FRIDAY, no less), get in the car to go out to eat.

Have Hubby snap at you (probably due to a sucky day on the golf course) as you back out of the driveway.

Put the car back in drive and say, "You know, I'm not really that hungry."

Allow Hubby to get out of the car and go back in the house.

Put the car BACK in reverse and leave to drive around for 2 hours, never eating dinner.

Come home only because the gymnastics meet is on the internet and you didn't think you would need your laptop at dinner when you first left.

Eat crackers and peanut butter between events, then go to sleep on the couch.

Save a bunch of calories.

Do NOT check blood pressure.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wearing My Heart on My....


........Bumper?

It occurred to me one day when I glanced at the back of my car that a casual observer would have no trouble identifying where my (many) allegiances lie.

This magnet is unique because it not only says "SAILORS" instead of the usual "SOLDIERS," but it also has the nickname of Sweet Girl's former squadron. This was a fundraiser for her squadron's welcome home party following the first deployment she was on. Mine got washed off in the car wash once, and I went back and insisted the young attendant go find it. He first brought me back a generic red, white, and blue one, and then I marched right back down to the car wash bay with him and found the one that was mine. He didn't understand what the big deal was about having THAT magnet.


This is my newest decal, and I don't know if Hubby has noticed it yet or not. Not only do I think he secretly harbors some motorcycle envy because he ONLY rides a Honda, but he's also fundamentally against decals and bumper stickers in general. He thinks they attract too much attention and might cause a nice policeman to write me a ticket who otherwise might not have noticed that I was going 85 mph on the interstate except for the screaming messages on the back of my car. Whatever. He once removed three bumper stickers from my car BEFORE WE WERE EVEN MARRIED because he said they might get me in trouble. He may have a point, however. Years ago I was headed home from school, and a policeman got behind me. I was in town, so I wasn't speeding, and I knew I hadn't broken any laws or anything. I changed lanes, he changed lanes. I pulled into the convenience store parking lot, he pulled into the convenience store parking lot. I got out of my car, he got out of his car. He walked up to me and said, "Do you mean to tell me you actually jump out of perfectly good airplanes?" He had noticed my skydiving bumper sticker that I was so proud of at that time. I think he wanted to write me a ticket for stupidity.


Kind of ironic, then, that Hubby was the one who put this decal on my back window as soon as we brought the SUV home with us. It's quite faded and peeling off a little bit, but it will have to do until we find another one. I neglected to take pictures of another decal that's inside the back window. It proclaims that I am an alum of the University of Georgia, not JUST some random fan. I think I'll put three of those suckers in the back window, one for each degree. But then I might actually feel guilty enough to join the alumni association, which so far hasn't happened.



Just in case someone misses the Bulldog decal, this is my trailer hitch cover. On the advice of my good friend Wilson, it has a lock on it. Apparently a common activity among tailgaters is to steal each other's trailer hitch covers. The things drunks will do to pass the time before kickoff. I've never pulled a trailer in my life, and it would be dangerous for me to do so, but I do have to remove it when we put the tandem rack in the hitch. Getting the lock off this hitch cover is a real bitch.




This isn't technically an example of wearing my heart on my bumper, since it's on the front of the car. My same good friend Wilson told me not to buy the mirrored tag because it was "ghetto." But even he had to admit that the letters matched my SUV perfectly, and it looked good. It's so shiny, you can see my Native American moccasins in the reflection.



This decal is actually two in one. Not only does it identify me as a cyclist who rides in BRAG, but it also depicts a tandem bicycle. That's Katydid on the back. Doesn't it look just like us? I keep telling her she's going to have to take her turn as captain one of these days. She can shift gears and brake just as well as I can. And she probably won't take the chances I do, so we'll automatically be safer. She would probably never have to hear me scream from the back, "If you ride across that ditch, I'm going to KILL you!"



This one is another two-fer. The frame around the plate identifies me as a Navy mom. I'm hoping that may come in handy someday if I ever DO get stopped by some patriotic patrolman. Maybe he'll even be a veteran. I also bought one of the specialty plates honoring cyclists in our state. God knows we don't get much honor when we're actually ON the road ON our bikes. Hubby thought I was going to buy the specialty plate for teachers in Georgia. I would have, but I didn't agree with where the money goes. The extra funds generated by the educator specialty plates go toward teachers who have been injured (presumably by acts of violence, I guess) in the course of their jobs. Not that I disagree with those teachers receiving extra compensation beyond what they would normally get, but I think it just helps such a small population. I'd rather see that money go into a pool to pay for sick leave for teachers who experience catastrophic illnesses or injuries, either to them or their family members. Many teachers have to exhaust their sick leave caring for parents, children, etc., and then they can't actually afford to be sick themselves.

I think this one almost sent Hubby into apoplexy. Not because it's Georgia Gymnastics, because he has accepted that as a relatively harmless obsession of mine. And it rarely has to involve him. I only drag him to one meet a year, and he insists on taking a flask into THAT. No, what nearly sent him over the edge was the fact that this was on the painted part of the car. It looks like a decal, but it's actually a magnet. When it had been on the car for a couple of days, I said to him, "By the way, that's a magnet on the back of my car, not a sticker." He replied, "Oh, I know. I already checked it out."

Men are just weird.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fluffy and Sunshine......

I used to be quite silly about saving things. In my teens and early adult years, I kept every little memento that I had. I used to have every ticket stub from the Billy Joel concerts I had attended. Man, what I wouldn't give to have those now. I'd love to frame them.

I saved ridiculous stuff. The strangest things I can remember trying to save were the stitches from my forehead. I had gashed my head open on a church mission trip to West Virginia, and Nurse Jane (see I TOLD you she was a nurse long before she was an RN) took the stitches out for me after I returned home. I was going to save the stitches and put them in my scrapbook. But I proudly held them in the palm of my hand and showed them to Jack, who took one look and said, "Yeah. Nice." And then blew them out of my hand. Into the carpet. Which was salt-and-pepper shag. If you don't remember shag carpeting, please shut up.

I always said I was saving stuff for my scrapbook........only I never really did have a scrapbook. When scrapbooking became popular a few years ago, I dabbled in it long enough to become a Creative Memories consultant and buy about $1500 worth of supplies, including a scrapbooking table and a rolling cart to hold all the embellishments, until I figured out that my step-daughter and I were my only customers and we couldn't keep my "business" afloat. Hey, at least I lasted longer at that than I did my Mary Kay career. Or being an assistant softball coach, which lasted all of one afternoon practice. Or being a volleyball coach, which lasted almost all the way through a conversation with the outgoing coach, during which I learned that I didn't even know all the terminology, much less how to coach.

None of this has anything to do with Fluffy and Sunshine, and I don't care. At least I'm less foggy than this time last night.

By the time I had moved two or three or ten or twelve times between college and my marriage(s), I was pretty much over the keeping of everything stage. Besides, one of my (much) older and (much) wiser sisters pointed out to me once that getting rid of the junk didn't mean the memories never happened. Perhaps she had helped me pack and move one too many times.

So now I hold on to the memories and throw all the crap out. When Hubby isn't looking, I throw his crap out too. He's not sentimental; he's cheap. We replaced our kitchen faucets a few years ago, and I swear to you, I'm not making this up, the old one is hanging on the wall in our basement. Just in case we ever need it. Let me see......why did we get rid of it? Oh yeah.....we didn't like it. But one day we may succumb to malaria and wake up in a fever to go back to the old kitchen faucet, and look at the money we will have saved by hanging on to it.

One of these days I'm going to do a blog post about what is in our basement. But you see, there's a TRUCK in there, and it's kind of hard to get around to take the necessary pictures.

Sweet Girl somehow inherited this pack-rat gene, but I think she honestly got it from her father's side. They keep everything. EVERYTHING. And they take it all out and cry over it at regular intervals.

When Sweet Girl first left home, I didn't mind her leaving her junk behind. She was off to the Navy, after all, and living in the barracks, she didn't have any storage space. None. Zilch. So I didn't mind the old answering machine that no one uses anymore (it still uses TAPES to record, for God's sake), the old telephone that no one uses anymore, the bazillion collectible Barbie dolls, her college French books, assorted dance costumes, two prom dresses, roller skates, a Super Nintendo which apparently isn't super anymore, or the forty-two thousand Disney movies. In VHS format.

But now she has a place of her own, and I'd like for her to A) throw out what she really doesn't need, which is most of it; and/or B) take the junk to HER place in Florida. I don't have the heart to throw it out myself. Not yet. But it may come to that.

That being said, I did decide a few days ago to clean out an old armoire that she has had for so long that it's covered with stickers dating back to second grade. And those suckers won't come off. The armoire itself is a rather cheap piece of furniture and not worth a whole lot, but it will serve as storage for some off-season clothes. Or scrapbooking supplies. So I started going through it, and honestly most of it went straight into the trash. Toy megaphones from high school football games. About a million Pepsi Star Wars stickers. Toy footballs from high school football games.

I boxed up her Magic Attic Club dolls and accessories, but I honestly don't know what she would do with them either. If she ever has a daughter, God willing said daughter will turn HER nose up at anything that once belonged to her mother. Karma.

Jumping Jacky was one of her favorite books.

But then I came across Fluffy and Sunshine, and I had to stop and sit down. And smell them. I think Katydid gave her one or the other (probably Fluffy) for her first Easter in 1985, before she turned a year old. Sunshine was from the same time period, but she may have been a birthday present. I'm not sure.

Out of the bazillion stuffed animals and dolls she had over the years, Fluffy and Sunshine have prevailed. They have both been washed numerous times, and Sweet Girl at some point drew a new smile on Sunshine's face when the original one faded off.



I smiled when I found them, but I clutched them to my face and tried not to cry. The smile was bittersweet. These two little toys are tangible reminders that I don't have a little girl anymore.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Blog Fog.....

Usually I have a stash of blog topics in my head (or on my Blackberry) that I can pull out and write about on a night like tonight when nothing earth-shattering or even mildly interesting has happened in my world.

But tonight I'm drawing a blank. I have several topics in mind, but they are too detailed and time-consuming for this time of night. I should make a point to write my Tuesday blogs early in the evening, because that's my night for teaching online and I'm tired and just want to go to bed when it's done. But who am I kidding? The very last moments leading up to my 7:30 online session are usually spent scrambling for whatever lesson I'm teaching that night. I did manage to get tonight's lesson planned with enough time left over to wash the dishes before time to start.

I could bore you senseless with the details of my 30-minute elliptical session this morning AND a brisk (because I was with Hubby) 45-minute walk in the park this afternoon.

I could write about how I'm still struggling to get through the book Wicked even though it's like work to read, and I'm determined to finish it. I don't know why I'm determined; as far as I know, there will NOT be a test at the end.

I could regale you with stories about Gus and his shenanigans, but that would require pictures, and I'm too tired to search for cute pictures of Gus tonight. I have many of them.

I could tell you about the time when Sweet Girl was about 7 years old and we were riding bicycles on the dirt road where we lived then. She had a wreck and went sliding to the point that her ARMPIT was all scratched up.

But I think I'll just go to bed instead. Maybe I'll be slightly less foggy tomorrow night.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Wordles.........

Because last night's post was just one looooooooooooooooooooong complaint, I decided to post early today and share something fun/quirky/cool that I discovered while taking an online Web 2.0 course earlier in the school year.

A Wordle is sort of like a word cloud, only you can make it as fun/quirky/cool as you want it.

All you have to do is go to the Wordle website, join for free, and create your own Wordle. You can enter the text of a poem, random words, or even the web address of any site with an Atom or RSS feed. I have no idea what those mean, but I typed in the address of my own personal blog and it worked.

http://www.wordle.net

The size of the word is determined by the number of times the word appears. Just for fun, I typed in the blog address of my friend MamaNeena, and the word "trash" was the largest word. Hmmmmm.......

I'm going to try song lyrics next. A friend at school used the names of the people in her family and printed the Wordle to be framed.

If you already knew about Wordle, please shut up. It seems I always find fun/quirky/cool things years (or decades) after everyone else has found them.

I have to warn you, this site can suck hours and hours of time away if you tend to be like me and experiment with fonts, colors, positioning of words, etc.

Read the FAQ section for additional tips, like how to do a screen capture of your Wordle as opposed to inserting the code for your Wordle, which makes it appear kind of small in your blog.

Happy Wordling!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Post This Was Supposed to Be.....

This blog post isn't going to be what it was supposed to be. I eagerly anticipated writing tonight about our first hot air balloon ride today. I knew I would have some decent pictures (gorgeous ones if I got lucky), and I thought I might even be able to post some video.

Riding in a hot air balloon has always been a dream of mine. I mean since childhood. I don't remember when my fascination (obsession?) with heights began, but as long as I can remember I wanted to be UP THERE. In a tree. On the house. In the sky. Standing on the edge of a cliff.

A couple of years ago we stumbled across a website advertising hot air balloon rides not too far from where we live. We put our names on the list for a standby flight, because that was significant cheaper than making a regular reservation.

It took several months, but the guy finally called us and scheduled a ride. Then thunderstorms moved in late in the day and he had to cancel. That was Labor Day. We're not sure which year, but it wasn't 2008 (Sweet Girl was home to go to the first UGA game), it wasn't 2007 (I was at Sweet Girl's, moving her into her new condo), so it had to be as long ago as 2006 or even longer.

Not long ago Hubby mentioned the balloon guy and we agreed that he had probably lost our contact information.

Then out of the blue (pun sort of not intended) last Monday, I got an email with "fly" in the subject line, and the guy said he had an opening for this weekend if we wanted a Valentine balloon ride.

First of all, I find it kind of hard to believe that he hasn't had an opening or a cancellation or a chicken-out in the last three years.

I immediately let him know that we were indeed interested in flying Sunday afternoon, and we were eagerly looking forward to it.

I didn't hear any more from him all week. Yesterday morning I sent him an email asking if we were still on for today, since I hadn't heard from him. He said, "Yes, I think so. I'm checking on one more thing. I'll get back with you later today." I told Hubby I hoped the thing he was checking on wasn't a great big rip in the balloon.

Then nothing. All day long. I checked my email repeatedly, and I never heard from him. Hubby went to work as usual this morning, and when he got home he asked me if I had heard from balloon guy. Whose name is actually Brigham (that's his first name), but I sort of enjoy referring to him as balloon guy. And not capitalizing it.

I could tell Hubby really wanted to play golf if we weren't going flying, and I didn't blame him. I sent him off to the golf course with my blessings, sort of miffed that I never heard from balloon guy. I knew if Hubby stayed home and we didn't go flying, and he didn't get to play golf, he would be one disappointed puppy. Plus he would be here underfoot all afternoon. Plus there was no point in BOTH of us being miffed.

And almost as soon as he left the driveway, balloon guy called. He said of course we were still on, and he sounded confused as to why I thought otherwise. Keep in mind this is the first verbal contact we'd had. And he had my number all the time. He said all we had to do was drive TWO HOURS to the launch site (NOT where he told us the last time, which was much closer to home). So when he called, we basically had two hours' notice. We've waited three years (that we know of), and he gives us two hours' notice.

I called Hubby on his cell phone, and he hadn't teed off yet. If I had insisted, he would have come home and we would now be $400 poorer. But I didn't, he didn't, and we aren't.

So I'll have to wait again for my first hot air balloon ride. Maybe this time we won't have to wait three years. At least I hope not.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I Don't Get It....

In general, I don't get the whole concept of tattooing one's body. I'm not judgmental of those who HAVE tattoos or anything, I just don't understand the concept. There is not one inch on my body that I want to draw extra attention to by putting a piece of decorative (?) art there. That may be redundant; so sue me. I'm not even confident enough that a tattoo would draw attention AWAY from parts of my body, otherwise I may consider it.

That's one thing I don't get, but that's not really what this post is about.

The other day a lady who works at my school as a parapro asked me if A) I had seen her new tattoo and B) if I wanted to see it. Actually the answer to both of those questions was "No!" but I couldn't figure out a way out of it, since she was already pulling her shirt up.

In the front office. Of a school. In a building that houses the district's alternative school. And a precinct of the sheriff's office.

Now I'm the last person in the world who should be critical of anyone's size or weight or figure or whatever, but this lady is....umm.....large. When she pulled up her shirt and showed me her back, she was displaying quite a lot of skin. And her bra. And she was completely oblivious. Pity the poor 26-year-old on our staff (the only male in our half of the building) who walked into the office, completely unaware of what was going on. All he saw was this woman who takes up lunch orders and attendance every day with her shirt up and her bra showing. Too bad it wasn't one of the deputies. They have guns. I might have turned one of those on myself at the very least.

I only gave a cursory glance because I was embarrassed FOR her and embarrassed that she was NOT embarrassed. I think it was a skull and crossbones and she pointed out that it included her name and I know it was in color. Someone who got a better look than I did said it had something to do with Pirates of the Caribbean. And it covered her entire back. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalllll of it. When I questioned why anyone would want to do that to herself, her reply was "I like pain."

I don't get that.

While I sort of like the pain that comes with a 100-mile bicycle ride or an hour aerobics class with Dana or forty-five minutes on the elliptical, I just can't equate it with the pain of getting a full-color tattoo across my back. Or my ankle. Or my breast or buttocks or neck or shoulder or wrist or anything else that is covered with skin.

I can't say this next part WITHOUT sounding judgmental, so I'll just have to take the risk.

This same lady lost her house because she's a single mom and has a low-paying job. She moved in with her sister, who then lost HER house. I think they are in the process of moving into the basement of another relative's house. I understand many people are facing tough economic times, and I don't fault them for doing what they have to do in order to take care of their children.

But tattoos aren't cheap, are they? Especially the full-color ones that cover one's entire lower back? And include a detailed drawing of something piratey?

I really don't get that.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Must Be Friday the 13th.....

Not that I'm superstitious or anything.

But tonight has been sort of freaky. In a technology-related, pissing-me-off sort of way. Sorry. I don't really like that expression. But sometimes "It's annoying me" isn't quite enough. Nor is "It's irksome." Or even "It's getting on my nerves."

First my Blackberry sort of died. Sort of because it still evidently gets email, it "beep-beeps" when a text message comes in, it even rings.

But none of the buttons work. Including the "off" button. I've removed the battery three times and put it back, to no avail. I can scroll through all the menus, but when I push the track ball, nothing happens. When it rings it tells me who's calling, but I can't answer it.

I was going to write a blog post about Gus, whom we consider our other child. Hubby and I were just talking the other day about how it's hard to believe that you can love an animal that much. Anytime we go out of town, it's a race to see who can get to Granny's first and see Gus. Don't tell Granny; she thinks we're that happy to see her.

But almost all of my pictures of Gus are on Hubby's computer, and my network won't let me retrieve them. When I click on the network, it just sits there and spins and spins, and I'm pretty sure I heard it laughing at me. I'm too stubborn to give up and walk aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll the way across the living room and use Hubby's computer. Oh no -- I want to WIN.

Yet when I stopped long enough to take a phone call, the screen saver on my laptop came on. It started scrolling through my pictures.......that are stored on the network.

I give up. Maybe since tomorrow is Valentine's Day, technology will decide it loves me.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Another Milestone Post.......

As I prepared to write this post, I noticed that it is my 200th blog entry. For those of you who have been around for all 200 of them......God love you.

In celebration of this mini-milestone, I decided to indulge in a rare meme post. I don't tag other bloggers to do these; it's just one of the many rules I refuse to follow.

What is your favorite color? Bright, sunshine, eye-stabbing yellow. No wimpy pastels for me.

What is the last movie you saw in a theater? Gran Torino. I think my father might have had a Gran Torino at one point. Not that that has anything to do with this post.

What are you wearing right now? Blue jeans and a UGA Gym Dogs t-shirt. And Indian moccasins. Which I just realized I can't spell without the assistance of Word. And forgive me, I meant Native American moccasins.

Have you ever had any type of surgery? Yes, I had a septorhinoplasty in 1982. Which basically means I had plastic surgery on my nose. And no, I'm not that vain.

What is your least favorite food? Brussel sprouts. Cooked green leafy things. Beets.

Who was the last person you Googled? Lucky Beach, my boyfriend in the 4th grade. I shared him with another girl. We took turns holding his jacket during recess. Whoever wasn't holding his jacket got to sit on the monkey bars with him. When I Googled him, I got every beach resort in the free world. I can't remember his real name.

What was the worst Christmas gift you ever received? My ex didn't give me a Christmas gift at all one year; he gave me a New Year's gift. It was a pistol. Because they were on sale that day.

How will you and your significant other celebrate Valentines' Day? We will probably go out to dinner, but only because it falls on our usual Saturday night date night. No cards, no gifts. It's not a special day; every day is Valentines' Day at our house.

What is a unique fact about you? Well, I was a post-vasectomy baby. And I manage to work that into a conversation at least once a week. I figure God knew what he was doing.

What is the first part of your body that you wash in the tub or shower? My left forearm.

What is your least favorite household chore? All of them.

What is something you've done while slightly tipsy, because I KNOW you've never been intoxicated? Once I managed to play a song on the piano that I had struggled with for years and not been able to play. And another time I told my friend Amanda that I COULD TOO say my ABC's, and I recited them perfectly........backward.

What is something you like about February? That we occasionally have 70-degree days here in the South. And payday comes a couple of days earlier than usual.

What is something you hate about Feburary? All the days that aren't 70-degree days. And all the days that aren't payday.

What is the most interesting memento on that bookshelf in your living room that needs to be dusted? A Pepsi can and a Mountain Dew can, with the drink names written in Arabic. Sweet Girl sent them from the Persian Gulf.

Can you curl your tongue? No, but my daughter can. And that's weird because it's supposed to be genetic. And I COULD do it when I was young. Maybe my tongue just got too fat.

How many pets do you have? Four. Two dogs, two cats. One male and one female of each. We believe in symmetry around here.

What is the closest you think you have ever come to death? The time I jumped out of an airplane and couldn't find my ripcord.

Have you ever changed clothes in a moving car? Yes. And I was driving.

What is the farthest you have ever been from your birthplace? Italy. Or Germany. Or Austria. Whichever one is farthest.

If you could have a $10,000 shopping spree, what store would you want to shop in? Best Buy. I love gadgets.

Do you know how to sew? I can sew on a button, but I'd rather not. I can hem, but I'd rather pay someone to do it for me.

What is the best book you ever read? I can't name just one. Lonesome Dove, Life of Pi, Where the Heart Is, and Skipping Christmas are all favorites.

What musical group would you NOT go out on the front lawn to hear if they were performing across the street? The Rolling Stones.

Did someone really ask you these questions, or did you make them up yourself? I'm not telling.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Words that Almost Got my Face Slapped....


When I was about 15 years old, self-serve gas stations had just begun cropping up everywhere. If you are so young that you didn't know that most gas stations used to have an attendant who actually pumped the gas into your car FOR you, please shut up.

Gas was cheaper if you pumped it yourself, and because my mother had been a single mom most of her adult life and always had to scrimp and save every penny, she was all about saving however many cents off every gallon of gas.

She always had ME pump the gas, though, and I desperately H.A.T.E.D. that chore. I guess I felt like it wasn't fair to have to pump gas when I wasn't old enough to drive.

One of the last stations around town that still pumped gas for you and had reasonable prices was the Hess station. I always hoped and prayed she would go there so I wouldn't have to pump the gas. I don't really know what I hated about it; I just did. I got over it at some point in my life, because I don't mind so much anymore. Except for this past summer, when it cost $84 to fill up my SUV.

One day we were headed home from I don't know where and Mom said she was going to stop at the convenience store and "let" me pump gas for her.

OH NOW I THINK I REMEMBER.....

If you put gas into her car, not only did you have to pump it (and go inside and pay for it), but you also had to write in her little book the date, the odometer reading, how many miles were on that tank of gas (which you had to subtract because it was before many cars had trip odometers on them), and figure the miles per gallon. She still keeps one of those little books in her car to this day. I refuse to write the information in it.

Anyway, back to the story at hand.

On that day, just like any other day, I didn't WANT to pump the damn gas. I didn't see the need to subject me to that misery just to save a few cents when there was a perfectly good full-service station RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET.

When she said she was going to the convenience store, I said (no, I whined), "Mama, just go to Hess!"

You'd have to know Mom to realize the enormity of that statement. She had a mean backhand, and I almost felt the wrath of it before the final hiss of the s's got out of my mouth. There was a moment's stunned silence as she thought about what she THOUGHT I had been about to say, and then we both became hysterical, as only the women in our family can.

"Go to Hess" became one of our catch phrases. It can still make her laugh to this day.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

If I Won the Lottery.......

Things I would do if I won the lottery:

  • Buy a super-duper motor home and hire a driver who would just drive. Because we would both like to travel extensively, but we'd miss the animals too much to stay gone much without them. If we had a motor home, we could take them with us.
  • Go on the 42-day cruise to China and Japan that I saw advertised in a brochure yesterday. And book the Royal Owners Suite on the front of the ship (the one with the baby grand piano in it, because clearly if you take a cruise somewhere you're all about playing the piano in your room) and thumb my nose at all the "regular" passengers.
  • Put in a retractable roof over the swimming pool so I could still swim in the winter.
  • Build a 30,000 square foot closet and attach it to our bedroom.
  • Follow Billy Joel to every city on his tour with Elton John this year until he either issued an invitation to come meet him backstage or had me arrested for stalking.
  • Contribute enough money to UGA to score one of the luxury AIR-CONDITIONED booths in Sanford Stadium.
  • Go to New York to see a play once a week for a year. Or two.
  • Pay for Hubby to play golf at Pebble Beach. With Phil Mickelson. I believe he could take him, the way Phil has been playing recently.
  • Have all my moles removed.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Another Continent Heard From.....

Finally, I have a little dot on Africa.

I have periodically checked the Visitors' Locations map in the lower right hand corner of my blog, and there were no visitors from Africa. I checked every day for a while, mainly because I am awed and amazed and humbled that anyone ANYWHERE would want to read my ramblings. Then I went on to obsess about other things and forgot the map was even there.

Today I noticed there was a tiny little blip on the continent of Africa. It's up on the northwestern corner, presumably in Morocco. And I saw in the legend of country totals in my ClustrMap (a legend that I didn't even know was there until today) that I have had a visitor from Morocco, so that must be the blip.

I find this whole technology thing pretty amazing. And I'm holding out for Antarctica.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Pavement Ends...

Pavement Ends....

Just about the two most hateful words in the English language when it comes to bicycling. (Well, maybe "big dogs" ranks right up there also.) They aren't much fun when motorcycling either, but at least I'm not as irritated with the prospect of turning around and doing extra mileage when I'm on my motorcycle. Dirt and/or gravel roads just pose a particular danger to bicyclists and motorcyclists. With my apologies to George Orwell, "Four wheels good, two wheels baaaaaaaaaaad."

That's the danger of creating a new route on a computer website. I really like the site, and I've created dozens of new cycling routes on it, but twice now I've ventured off the beaten path and wound up on a dirt road. Dirt roads and my skinny tires that are inflated to 100psi just don't mix.

I had a bail-out route just in case this nice little country road turned out to be dirt, but it wasn't. Not. At. First. I had ridden about a mile and a half on it before the wretched "Pavement Ends" sign appeared. I was too ticked off even to stop and take a picture of the sign, KNOWING that would be tonight's blog topic.

I didn't opt to turn around and head for the bail-out route, probably due only to stubbornness. For once my stubbornness was actually a good thing -- seems the bail-out route was a dirt road too. Where did these dirt roads come from? They were right between two major highways. I appreciated the lack of traffic, but the loose surface was treacherous. I was gingerly making my way downhill (the one time I do NOT like to go fast on my bicycle), trying not to ride the brakes and skid, but also trying not to get up too much speed, when a truck stopped beside me.

"Excuse me," the lady said between puffs of her cigarette. Thanks for poisoning my lungs too. "I'm sorry to bother you, but do you know where Drowning Creek Road is?" She motioned that I should keep riding while trying to explain it to her. She didn't know I was already multi-tasking on a level that I should never attempt, especially on my bicycle.

Drowning Creek Road. Now isn't that a lovely name for a road?

"I've never been on this road before," I replied. "But I'm looking for Drowning Creek Road too. This road should come out on it, but the last intersection I passed didn't have a sign."

They were nice enough people. I hope they found their way. They would have taken a giant leap forward in raising my overall view of human beings if they had come back to tell me where the road was when they found it. Instead of leaving me in intertwined clouds of cigarette smoke and dust. Perhaps they could have told me that I should turn LEFT on Drowning Creek Road instead of RIGHT. Because when I did find the road and turned right, the next two hateful words I saw (they also rank right up there on the hateful list) were "Dead End."

This would probably not be a good time to point out that I also have a GPS on my bicycle. Not one that tells me to turn right or left, but one that shows me where I've been.

So now I know not to use that particular route again, or at least not the part that connected to Drowning Creek Road. It was a beautiful day for a ride, and I will post the link to my map at the end of this post just in case anybody out there gives a rip.

I feel obligated to point out that the temperature here this afternoon was 70. I feel a little guilty, considering I was just whining a few posts ago about how cold it was. You gotta love winter in the South. 70 degrees -- yay.

If only it would stay this way, but I know the cold will come back with a vengeance. At least I got my 30 miles in today.

Drowning Creek Loop

Saturday, February 7, 2009

New Form of Torture.....

Since my treadmill bit the dust (and unfortunately it couldn't be resurrected like the dishwasher), I've been going to the "Y" for my workouts.

I like having something at home, though, that I can use in the morning WHILE I get my Robin Meade fix and before I have to get ready for school.

So we bought an elliptical last night, and Hubby picked it up this morning. I've already used it once, this afternoon, for 30 minutes, and I really like it.

I fully expect to be skinny by Tuesday afternoon.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Dear Random Charitable Organization....

Dear Random Charitable Organization:

Enough with the return-address labels already. We don't write letters, we email. We don't mail bills, we pay them online. We don't send Christmas cards, we blog about why we AREN'T sending them. We don't send cheery little family updates, we post anything relevant to the family website.

I know you are trying to guilt me into sending you a check. If you are one of the organizations I deem worthy of my money, I ALREADY send you a regular donation. And I do it online. With a credit card, whose bill I also pay online.

The last packet of return-address labels I received had a nickel in the envelope. There was something on the outside about what a nickel can do for a blah blah blah, but I didn't read it. I almost threw the whole thing in the trash, but I felt guilty about knowingly (and LITERALLY) throwing away real money.

So I ripped open the envelope, peeled the nickel off the letter and dropped it into our Pepsi-bottle-shaped piggy bank, and then threw the address labels away.

How many of your donated dollars are you spending on those labels, anyway? And to mail them out? And to pay someone to glue a nickel to a bazillion letters? Why don't you just take ORDERS for the labels that people actually want, if they can't figure out how to print their own like I do on the RARE occasion that I need an address label?

Sometimes I keep the labels, but I honestly can't remember which ones go with which organization, so it's not like your attempt to remind me every time I use one that I owe you some money is working or anything.

The last batch was the worst. I know you probably meant well using our official titles, but you didn't have to take a swipe at hubby's manhood when you were printing the labels.

You didn't have to put "Dr. My Name" FIRST and "Mr. Hubby's Name" UNDERNEATH that. Jeez, can't you let a man have a little pride? Do you honestly think I'm going to put those labels on ANYTHING? I didn't even want them in the house.

How tacky.

Sincerely,

Bragger
(That's DR. Bragger to you)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

What Do You Know? vs. What Did You Do?

As a teacher, I constantly question myself when it comes time to award grades and credits. This is particularly true in our non-traditional setting, where students sometimes go through a course very quickly, and I feel a little guilt associated with that old, traditional, 180-school-days-to-get-it mentality.

We have a student who came to us because he would like to graduate a year early. We don't encourage that, and the other two county high schools discourage the practice, because they don't want a mad rush of students coming to our school just so they can graduate early. This young man, however, is college material, driven, ambitious, hard-working, and very smart. Except for one thing. He got his girlfriend pregnant.

So he's working 30 hours a week, taking college entrance tests, trying to earn 8 units in a school day that normally accommodates 5 subjects, coming in early and staying late, and he does it all with a smile on his face. He says, "You gotta do what you gotta do" instead of "It isn't my fault and why did this happen to me?"

Then I get a report yesterday that says he failed AP Government at his home high school. AP. As in college-level course. He was genuinely shocked and said, "She told me if I passed the final exam, I would pass the course." He made an 80 on the final exam. AP final exam. As in college-level final exam.

I emailed the teacher to make sure the information I had was correct, and I received a VERY curt reply that of course it was.

This young man summoned all his courage and went by to see the old bit... the teacher.... yesterday afternoon. She was rude to him and said that he had failed because he turned in a project late, and she gave him a 50 on it. That was the difference in passing or failing the course.

That's not the part that made me the most angry, however. As he was leaving, he said to her, "Well I guess I'll see you at graduation."

Her reply: "I doubt that."

It. Is. On.

I'm damned determined he'll graduate. Short of doing his work for him (and he may be smarter than I am), I will do whatever it takes to help him get those 8...no 9....credits to graduate early.

Which leads me to the question about schools and teachers. What is our ultimate goal? What do we grade students on? How much they know? Or how much they do?

If this young man learned 80% of the material he needed in an AP Government course, why should it matter whether or not he did the required project? What lesson are we teaching him?

I know that in addition to teaching subject matter we are supposed to teach them work ethics and responsibility and fulfilling commitments and all that, but COME ON! I believe this young man could run circles around many a grown-up in every single one of those departments.

I'm guessing that many teachers out there would say, "Well it's not fair to give him the same credit as other students who actually DID all of their work."

Yes, actually, it is.

Because "fair" does not mean "equal." It is FAIR to this young man to give him the unit of credit he started working on before he learned that oh by the way, you're going to be a daddy. It is also FAIR to the other students who earn their own credits. I just don't think there has to be a comparison.

It reminds me of a Bible story, Matthew 20:1-16. And those of you who know me are probably sitting there with your jaws slack and your mouths gaping open. Relax -- I didn't know where the story was, I Googled it. Then I looked it up in my (dusty) Bible to make sure. And I'll be back in my regular seat at Happy Hour tomorrow afternoon.

Basically the story is about a vineyard owner who pays some men to work for him. Some men were hired to work all day and agreed on a fair wage. There's that word again: fair. Some other men showed up later and were paid the same amount of money even though they only worked one hour. When the first dudes got pissed off about that (okay, so that word is NOT in the Bible), the vineyard owner told them if they were satisfied with what THEY got, then what anyone else got was NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS.

That's my point. If the other students are happy with the credit they earned, it shouldn't bother them at all if my guy gets a credit for doing less than they did. I wonder how many of THEM made an 80 on the final exam? I'm not suggesting we just start handing out credits willy-nilly, don't get me wrong. There has to be some basis for assessment and some accountability. But I just think that anyone who can get an 80 on an AP final exam from a teacher who was obviously a B-I-T-C-H and made life hell for her students anyway deserves a break. Possibly two.



This rant has been brought to you today by the letters N and W and by the number 7.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

It Just Ain't Right.....

The "high" temperature here today was still below the freezing point. That's just wrong. God did not put me in the South so I could endure temperatures below freezing. It was 60 in Billings, Montana today, for Pete's sake! (Who exactly is Pete, and why does he have his own sake?)

I was actually forced to take a coat with me today. But I left it in the car. I figure as long as I can make it from the car to the door.....

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Resurrection......

If you'll forgive the blatant sacrilege, I am celebrating the resurrection of the dishwasher I wasted a whole blog entry lamenting over last night. But I guess one way to look at it is that she provided me with TWO nights of blog entries instead of just one.

Hubby, being A) the world's last perfect man; and B) ONE of the world's cheapest men, repaired the dishwasher himself. We thought something was wrong with the drain, and the dirty water couldn't get OUT. Or the motor was going. Do you realize how hard it is to ascertain whether or not a dishwasher is actually producing water? It's sort of like trying to see if the refrigerator light goes off when you shut the door. I did discover that you can make a dishwasher run with the door open if you strategically place a butter knife in the mechanism on the door. I also discovered that it helps to have some towels and/or a mop handy.

Seems that actually the hose that was responsible for bringing water INTO the dishwasher was hopelessly clogged and that's why the dishes were dirtier than when they went in, if that's possible. That hose is now clear and free and is on house arrest for the next two weeks for causing me to have to wash dishes by hand for two or three days in a row.

I was so grateful to have the dishwasher back that guess how I rewarded Hubby?

(Get your minds OUT of the gutter, please. Thank you.)

Dinner tonight was ham and cheese sandwiches on paper plates.

*****************************************************************************

Oh, and Hubby's not really cheap. He's just like me in the sense that he'd just rather spend money on toys than something that is a necessity but not really fun, like a dishwasher. After hearing me slam dishes in and out of the sink for a few nights, he decided maybe it wasn't a luxury after all.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Mourning the Loss.....

She passed so quickly. And unexpectedly. And although she wasn't very old, I suppose she had a hard life. She fought to the very end, still carrying on gamely and never complaining. She sounded like her old self, but her heart just couldn't keep pumping her life's juices through her anymore. A bottle of the clear blue liquid should have helped, but the effects were negligible. A procedure to clean out the old pipes, if you'll forgive me, was likewise ineffective. Her cycles just didn't...... cycle anymore. I feel terrible that I used her and, yes, probably abused her, and I never told her just how much I loved her. How she was as necessary to me as air. I never expressed the feeling that I didn't know what life was like before she came into mine. I will miss her musical roar and her stately silence. I will miss her steamy breath and her sweet smell. I will miss the fact that she was willing to work as many times a day as I asked her to, even when we asked her to do her work after we went to bed so we wouldn't be disturbed.

I miss my dishwasher.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

My Six-Word Memoir.....


I heard about the concept of Six-Word Memoirs and became fascinated by the book Not Quite What I Was Planning. Some people attribute the fad to a contemporary folk story that Earnest Hemingway was challenged to write a short story in only six words (or as few words as possible, according to the source). His response: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

While neither has it been established that the challenge actually occurred OR that Hemingway wrote those words, the concept is an interesting one. The book Not Quite What I Was Planning has a wonderful mix of memoirs, from the poignant to the hilarious.

Here's mine:

I don't "please wait" very well.