Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year('s Eve).........

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions, because I think most of the time they just set people up for failure. Besides, I'm already PERFECT the way I am, so why do anything different?

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

This year I'm going to make a small New Year's resolution, but I'm sort of hedging my bets.

Here's my resolution: I'm going to be BETTER at housekeeping.

See, that's not very difficult because it won't take much to be better. I don't mean to give the impression that we live in a slovenly mess, but housekeeping isn't high on my list of things to do in my spare time. I keep the laundry done, I never leave dishes overnight, and I try to keep the kitchen swept and mopped in spite of the fact that it's white tile and debris starts showing up even before I have put the mop away. I keep the toilet and sink in the hall bathroom relatively clean (Hubby's bathroom is his own territory, and I leave it to him to clean it. Or not.) because that's the one guests have to use when they are here. The floor in the hall bathroom is absolutely unmanageable. It has 40-year-old tile, and the grout was stained with red mud even before Hubby moved into the house. If I win the lottery tonight, that bathroom is first on my list of things to redo. Oh wait.... I'll probably get a new house.

So there's my New Year's resolution. I'm going to be a better housekeeper. I'm not going to be perfect, you will NEVER be able to eat off my floors, and Better Homes and Gardens will never schedule a photo shoot here. My mother will never visit without pursing her lips and shaking her head. But I'm going to do better. And I won't even mind, because the extra time it will take will be harvested from my NOT having a part-time online teaching job in addition to my regular one. I am so looking forward to coming home and NOT having to jump on the computer immediately to grade assignments. What a relief.

As I look back on 2010, again this year I have chosen a favorite blog from each month. They aren't necessarily the most frequently commented-on blogs, perhaps not the wittiest, certainly not the most fraught with deep meaning, but they're the ones I chose as I reviewed the entire year. If you've already read them once, don't feel obligated to read them again.

January - The Ghost of 615
February - Couples Skinny Dipping (Don't worry - no pictures!)

March - Hypothetically Speaking

April - From the "Is This Really Necessary?" Department

May - I've Created a Texting Monster

June - My BRAG Peeps

July - Happy Endings

August - Some of My Proudest Moments as a Parent

September - Typo? Or Freudian Slip?

October - My Imaginary Friend

November - Musings About Cycling in Mississippi

December - Dear Gym Dogs

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I Got an "F" in Feminism 101.......

Before I get blasted for this post, let me be clear: I DO believe in equal rights for women, equal pay for equal work, all that jazz. Obviously I believe women ought to be able to serve in the military (duh), and if they are capable and willing to fight on the front lines, more power to them. I cheered for Sally Ride (although I was extremely jealous). I said I was going to wear a tuxedo to my senior prom (I didn't).

All that being said, I fail miserably at being a true feminist.

First of all, what's the deal with the toilet seat debate?

He needs it up; he has to put it up. (And I'm glad he does.)

I need it down; I put it down. I don't see why one person should ALWAYS be responsible for leaving it in a convenient state for the other person.

I understand the argument from women who have fallen into the toilet in the dark of night because they didn't realize the seat was still up.

Really, shouldn't ONCE be enough for that to happen? Hubby and I don't typically share a toilet at home (I just heard a resounding "AHA! No wonder she doesn't understand!" from the masses), but when we are out of town we do. When we were in Jamaica last week (can it really be that long ago already?), it was pitch black in our room. When I had to go to the bathroom in the night or early morning, I knew to FEEL for the seat to make sure it wasn't still up. I am proud to say I didn't fall into the toilet a single time.

Personally, I'd rather save my energy for arguing about things that really matter. Like whether or not to tear out a wall, move our bedroom, and do major renovation on our house just to accommodate a USED bedroom suit that Hubby decided he had to have.

The college football bowl season has earned me another failing grade in feminism.

I don't like women announcers for football games.

It's not that I don't believe women are intelligent enough to understand the game of football. It's like I challenged a man on a bike ride one time when he remarked that I "know a lot about football .... for a woman." I asked him what body part it takes to understand football, a brain? or a penis? I think it embarrassed Katydid, but at least the man got up and left us to watch the football game in peace.

I don't mind the women sideline reporters too much, even though they ask some of the dumbest questions I've ever heard.

Holly: Coach, what does your team need to do in the second half to win this game?

If I were the coach, I would respond: Oh, I don't know, Holly. Maybe score more points? Keep them from scoring points? Just where DID you go to college? (I was going to insert a few choice sarcastic schools here, but I don't want to risk offending any of my loyal readers.)

Of all the sideline reporters, Erin Andrews is my absolute favorite. She was my favorite long before she became a household name because some psycho stalker secretly videotaped her naked in her hotel room. Still, I don't think I could stand to hear her call an entire football game.

I don't think it's even a matter of gender. I just hate their voices. They are often whiny, and they become piercing when they get a little excited. They can't help it; their voices just go up a few octaves.

Please don't leave me hate comments. I realize I am an embarrassment to my gender.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hand Me Ups............

When I was young I wasn't one of those who had to "suffer" through wearing hand-me-downs. It had a lot to do with the fact that my sisters were SO MUCH OLDER than I was. (I could have resisted that cheap shot, but I chose not to. Sorry, sisters!) It had even more to do with the fact that one of them was tall and thin, and the other one was short and REALLY thin. (And I still love both of them. Imagine that.)

There was one exception, which has almost nothing to do with this blog post. When I became a cheerleader in the eighth grade, I dug out some old saddle shoes that Katydid wore when SHE was a cheerleader. They had cost Mom a fortune, but I guess in the end it was worth it, since we were cheerleaders about eight years apart and we both wore them. The "saddle" part of the shoes had been dyed blue, because our school colors were blue and white. Man, I wish I still had those shoes. I would so wear them to school now.

Having a daughter, however, has provided me with the opportunity to have hand-me-ups. I have inherited several articles of clothing after she stopped wearing them for one reason or another.

This is one of three pairs of jeans I acquired that way.

Sweet Girl shops almost exclusively at one of those hip teen-type mall stores. I'm afraid to go in there because not only am I too old for most of the clothes, the music drives me crazy.

I love the jeans, though. It may be because by the time I get them, they are broken in very well and they have the genuine faded look, not the one that some jeans pretend to have when you buy them brand new. They are soft and comfortable, and they make me think (briefly) that I COULD wear clothes meant for this younger generation if I were so inclined. I have one pair that I leave in the RV for weekend trips. They have a hole high up on the inside part of the thigh, so they aren't decent for wearing to school anymore. It's a very small hole, so they are fine for camping or for wearing around home, but I wouldn't want to wear them to school.

Sweet Girl has even given me a pair of jeans the next size DOWN for when I get there. I love her faith in me (among many other things).

I can see Sweet Girl rolling her eyes from 350 miles away when she sees the picture below.

I don't remember her buying this shirt, but it had to be when she was in the 8th or 9th grade. By the end of her 9th grade year, she was already over it. In fact, I had to go to an administrator and have him open her locker when school ended so I could retrieve this shirt.

I love the shirt because it's flannel, so it's very warm. It also zips up, which is a whole lot less aggravating than buttons. I usually wear it as a light jacket. It must remind me of a lumberjack, because back when Hubby and I used to go get our own firewood, I would wear this shirt. (Not that we chopped it or anything, but still. Now we have it delivered.) The shirt is very loose and comfortable, and it's soft and has that "used" feeling also. It SHOULD have that used feeling, since it's at least 10 years old.

I don't think Sweet Girl GAVE me the shoes below so much as she left them behind back when she used to come home for the weekend. (**Sniff, sniff**) They are genuine Navy-issue steel-toed boots that she had to wear on the flight deck, and I guess the flight line too when they are not at sea.

I haven't ever worn these boots, and I'm not sure why. There were a couple of occasions when I intended to send them to goodwill with my other clothing donations, but I never could bring myself to do it. For one thing, I was afraid they had some sort of secret military microchip and the Navy would come get me for discarding something they had paid for. Call me paranoid. I was also hesitant to get rid of them because they belonged to Sweet Girl. Call me sentimental.

I THINK she gave them to me because I needed some sturdy boots when I took my motorcycle safety course. I was afraid they wouldn't allow me to shift gears effectively, though, because the steel toe makes them so thick. I have allowed them to languish in my closet, and I had the idea that they were too small for me. I tried them on when I got them out for this post, though, and they fit perfectly. I will wear them the next time the weather is warm enough for me to ride the Harley.

It may seem silly, but I feel closer to my daughter when I wear these things. (And I hope by saying that I haven't guaranteed that she will NEVER give me another piece of hand-me-up clothing.) Keep 'em coming, Sweet Girl!

Unfortunately, while digging through my closet looking for the boots, I was faced with the grim reality of a sad necessity - The Great Shoe Purge. Sorry, Maggie! That will be a blog post sometime in the next few days.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Status Update.........

I'm trying desperately NOT to chase away any of my readers with frequent updates about my attempt to lose weight.

It's slow, but it's still happening.

As of this morning, I have lost 20 pounds. I would LIKE to lose another 30, but I will settle for an additional 20. I'm not sure 30 more is feasible at my age.

I think I'm having more success this time around because I am NOT following a program. I'm not counting points, calories, fat grams, or carbs. I am simply trying to practice portion control and cut down on junk.

I am still off chocolate and beer for the most part, and honestly I don't miss either one. I'm also determined not to be one of those people who sits around and moans about what she can't have. Occasionally (VERY occasionally) I will have a beer, and I don't beat myself up about it. I approach it kind of like I did when I quit smoking. If I had said at the beginning, "I'm never going to have another cigarette in my life," I think it would have been overwhelming. So when I first quit, I said, "I'm not going to have another cigarette today." Then the next morning I said, "I won't have a cigarette until I get out of school." By the time 24 hours had passed without a cigarette, I felt like I had it licked. It's the same way with some of the foods I crave. I don't kid myself and say I will never eat another piece of chocolate. I just say, "No, I don't need those calories today. Maybe tomorrow when I've had a chance to exercise." And the craving passes. Most of the time.

When we were in Jamaica I had a few (okay, more than a few) mixed drinks. It was an all-inclusive resort, after all, and I didn't want to feel like I had wasted my money. We didn't go crazy at meal times either.

One of the things that has helped me the most is a line that I heard about a year ago, and I made fun of it on my blog when I read it. Someone said, "Don't eat until you're full. Eat until you're not hungry anymore." I think I said something along the lines of, "If I could do THAT I wouldn't HAVE this little problem." But I keep that thought in the back of my mind. First of all I have to get rid of the "eat until it's gone" syndrome. I have a tendency to eat everything that's on my plate (and then some). I asked my mother once if she had made us clean our plates when we were little (because ultimately don't we blame EVERYTHING on our mothers?). She laughed and said, "From the time you could sit up I had to PUSH you away from the table." I distinctly remember going around the table and eating scraps off family members' plates after they had finished. I wasn't hungry; I just didn't think anything should be left. My eldest brother called me the "human garbage disposal." That could also be why his last words to me were, "See ya, Fats." (I was eleven.)

I'm glad I started this weight-loss campaign back in the fall. I hate it at this time of year when it seems that everyone decides to lose weight, and the motivation doesn't last. So far (**knock on wood**) my new eating habits feel like just that -- habits -- and I don't have to work very hard at it. (Please, Karma, don't kick me in the teeth just because I said that.) I don't have to make a New Year's Resolution to try to lose weight and exercise; I just have to continue what I've been doing already.

Rereading this, it sounds to me as if I'm tooting my own horn, and I assure you that's not the case. If I write occasional blog posts about my efforts, that makes me more determined to stick with it. I don't want to have to write in a few months, "I gained all 20 pounds back, and then some." I hope to have the nerve to post some before-and-after pictures when I get to my preferred weight.

I have to remind myself periodically (like every day) that slow weight loss is better in the long run than quick weight loss. Still, it's frustrating to see the scale stay in the same place day after day. I did get into a new number set on Christmas morning though. That was the best present Santa could have brought me! I stepped off and on the scale three times to make sure it wasn't a fluke. That means I actually LOST weight on our trip to Jamaica. I'm sure it had something to do with the almost-six-mile bike ride.

I'm going into cycling withdrawal too. My exercise in general hasn't been what it should be lately, due to the extremely cold temperatures and the fact that my elliptical is sick. (Yes, I do have a membership to the YMCA, but I haven't been since our line dance teacher left. Maybe THAT needs to be on my New Year's Resolution list.) But I'm missing cycling most of all. I walked past my (brand new) bicycle today in the basement, and I patted the seat lovingly. I can't wait to get back out there and ride. I just don't do cold.

Another status update: I am making progress on my list of 50 new things to do next year, when I will turn 50. I am up to 31, and I have only cheated a couple of times, putting things on my list that I knew I was going to do anyway (like the cross-state kayak trip). I am still taking suggestions for additions to my list.

I would also love to hear any of your successes and suggestions related to eating/nutrition/weight loss.

Thanks for stopping by. You are the best!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Doors were Not My Friends.....

Back when Sweet Girl was just a young 'un, she and I went to Italy to see my niece and her then-husband, who was in the Army and stationed there. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I am grateful that we had the chance to go. We went up into Germany and camped at an army post there, stopping in Innsbruck along the way.

[Side note: In a parent-teacher conference that fall, Sweet Girl's teacher, fairly new to the profession, smiled at me sympathetically and said, "Sweet Girl told her little classmates that she went to Italy this summer." She was more than a little embarrassed when I confirmed the "tale" as true.]

There are a gazillion things about that trip I can write about, even today. Watching my niece's husband almost arrest someone. The city we built out of tarps on our rainy camping trip. The Austrian people staring at the stupid Americans who were wearing shorts and t-shirts on a rainy July day when temperatures were somewhere in the 40's. [We couldn't help it. It was SUMMER when we left Italy that morning!]

What I often remember when I think about that trip, however, are the three occasions on which I became trapped.

My niece and her husband lived in army housing for married folks. They didn't have children at the time, so Sweet Girl and I stayed in their spare bedroom. The first morning I woke up there, I had no idea what time it was. I didn't have my watch, it was before the days of the cellphone-attached-to-one's-hip, and the bedroom didn't have a clock in it. I had no idea if it were a decent hour to get up or not, but I desperately needed to go to the bathroom. I went to the door and tried to open it quietly.

The doorknob came off in my hand.

I had a dilemma. Because I didn't know what time it was, I didn't want to shout and wake anyone up. If I ignored my bladder and went back to bed, I knew my niece wouldn't wake us up because of the long flight and the time difference.

Because I had a young child on a transatlantic voyage, I had plenty of writing/drawing supplies in our luggage. I found a piece of paper and a crayon and wrote something about being trapped in that room. There was a huge fan blowing in the hall, so I couldn't just slip the note under the door without it being blown away. I found some quarters in my purse and used them as weights, then I slid the whole contraption under the door. I didn't have to worry about knowing if my niece had found it or not - in just a little while I heard her burst out laughing, and she came to rescue me. I don't think I closed that door again for the rest of our stay.

We took the train down to Pisa and Florence. Because Sweet Girl wasn't old enough to appreciate culture and the museums and my niece had already seen them, they went to the beach while my niece's husband and I went on to Florence. When we got there, for some reason we couldn't open the door of the train. We could open the one on the OTHER side, but the jump was about six feet. And we would have been on the wrong side of the tracks. Literally. A conductor finally came and rescued us, and I realize this story has nowhere near the flavor of the first one. Sorry about that.

In one of the museums, I went to the restroom. It was a unisex facility, and amazingly enough there wasn't a line for it. I went in and did what one normally does in a restroom, and I started out. The door wouldn't open. I turned it to the right. It wouldn't budge. I turned it to the left. Same result. Back and forth. Back and forth. The walls began to close in on me, and that restroom was suddenly a very small, dimly lit, airless place. I began to panic, sweat pouring down my back. Click. Click. I'm trapped in a bathroom in a museum in Florence in Italy in Europe. Click. Click. I knew only two words in Italian, "ciao" and "birra." Neither one of them would help me get sprung from a bathroom.

Finally I heard a voice speaking through the door, the familiar voice of my niece's husband.

"Turn it to the left," he said.

"I did!"

"Turn it to the left AGAIN."

Oh. I didn't realize that was how their doors locked. Turn it once to close it; turn it further in the same direction to lock it. Or double lock it. Or something.

My relief turned to humiliation when I walked out of the bathroom and discovered that NOW there WAS a line for that bathroom. Every single one of them waiting for me to be rescued. They may have applauded when I walked out, I'm not sure. I just know I wanted to crawl under the Statue of David and die.

Never mind a language barrier. I couldn't even handle the doors.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday Randomness........

It's possible .... not probable, but possible .... that I have become too electronic. Right now my iPhone, iPad, Kindle, and Nintendo DS are all charging.

Tonight's football game between Minnesota and Philadelphia has been postponed until Tuesday because of dangerously cold weather. Has the weather become that much more extreme in my lifetime, or have we become a nation of softies? I remember a time when professional football would be played in whatever weather there was. I'm not saying it's a BAD thing that officials are being more cautious these days. I'm just saying it's noteworthy.

As of two and a half hours ago, I have a new great-nephew. Plans were for him to arrive by Caesarean section on Tuesday, but we all know how well babies adhere to plans. Instead he came on a snowy day-after-Christmas, all 10 pounds and 9 ounces of him.

Even though we have leash laws in our county, there are three dogs in our neighborhood that roam freely. They aren't nuisances for the most part, but one of them has taken to jumping the fence INTO our yard. Not only does that make Libby bark furiously (but not furiously enough to scare him off, mind you), but he also helps himself to Libby's food. Just what we needed - another mouth to feed. Luckily he also knows how to jump back over.

For someone who hates to cook, I also have an aversion to the microwave. I will use it to thaw out frozen soup, for example, and then pour the soup into a saucepan to heat it up. Somehow I have the idea that it tastes different or something.

If you're planning a trip to Jamaica anytime soon, stick to shopping in the duty-free shops. I found a receipt from the Harley-Davidson store, and that was the first time I realized the sales tax was 17.5%.

Christmas isn't the same if you don't have small children. No wonder people keep having babies.

Another (unwelcome) sign of middle age: I can't remember the last time I managed to sleep through the night. Even over-the-counter sleep aids aren't helping.

In four days' time I went from lying on a beach with a frozen drink in my hand to scraping snow off my car. Guess which one I prefer?

For Hubby's birthday (New Year's Day), I bought him a new propane heater for the golf cart. He has a cover for the cart, and the heater makes it pretty comfy on a cold day. He called me from the golf course the other day to ask if I still had the receipt, because it wouldn't work. (I didn't. I don't think.) Then he called back to say it needed a battery. "Yes," I said, "it's right here with the owner's manual." I took both to the golf course.

The buddy that Hubby texts back and forth with all the time (and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth) texted him today to say that his 4-year-old had received some new clothes as part of his Christmas present from his grandparents. His son announced to everyone, "I'm not very happy about this."

I have to go to the doctor's office first thing in the morning, before the frozen snow will have had a chance to melt. I'm not very happy about this.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris.....

Tim Farnsworth is an attorney, husband, and father. He suffers from an affliction that is baffling and frustrating because its very existence cannot be confirmed or refuted by medical professionals of any kind. His affliction is a strange compulsion to walk, and when it strikes, Tim is incapable of controlling himself. He takes off on  walks of many, many miles, not able even to take the time to grab warm clothing. (The book is set in New York.) He therefore also suffers from frostbite (I found the scene in which he pulled off his sock and found his little toe rolling around "like a raisin" particularly disturbing) and other ailments associated with long periods of exposure to the elements. Tim cannot choose his destination or even his path, for the most part, and at the end of a long walk, he collapses into a deep sleep. When he awakens he calls his wife, Jane, who dutifully comes to get him. No book would be complete without a surly teenager, of course. The daughter is only vaguely described as being overweight and wearing dreadlocks. At one point in the novel Jane hires her daughter to follow her father in the event he goes on one of his walks, and when he does, she tearfully tells him, "I'm sorry I didn't believe you."

I was mesmerized by Tim's strange condition and curious to see how it would play out. However, I grew a little bored and impatient at those times in the book when the narration took on a stream of consciousness feel. It became uncomfortable to read at those times; I wanted to skip forward and see what HAPPENED. Other parts of the book were frustrating to me as well. Tim is hospitalized on a few occasions, and he never has identification on him. Yet he routinely goes to ATMs and withdraws seemingly large sums of money.

While it became tedious at times and the resolution not what I would have hoped for (don't read this book if you're curious about the etiology of this strange affliction - it ain't there), I didn't consider reading it a waste of time. It did provoke some reflection and consideration about the nature of illnesses and how people react to them.

When Tim lies and says his wife has cancer in an effort to explain his absences from his law firm, he is treated with sympathy and understanding. When he makes an attempt to explain his own condition, however, he is met with scorn and condescension.

Which leads me to wonder about the nature of medicine and science in society. If a disease is unnamed and untreatable, the sufferer is assumed to be afflicted with some sort of MENTAL illness, and Lord knows that isn't dealt with in our society very well. In this book Tim Farnsworth ultimately relies on medicines used to treat psychosis, but it reminds me of the chicken-and-the-egg question. Was his illness psychotic in nature from the beginning, and it manifested itself in a strange compulsion to take off walking (even in the middle of a courtroom hearing)? Or did the strangeness of the illness, coupled with the lack of understanding even from those closest to him, make him BECOME psychotic? Did his craziness make him start walking, or did the walking drive him crazy?

It makes me wonder about the large number of people we tend to lump together into one group as if they were a single population, the mentally ill. I'm guessing there are as many different mental illnesses as there are physical ones. How many of those mental illnesses are classified as such only because we lack the inability to diagnose or even recognize the physical symptoms?

I apologize for the very un-Christmasy topic tonight. I just finished the book a couple of days ago and wanted to write about it before I forget.

On a completely unrelated note: Can you still call it a white Christmas if it didn't happen until about 5:00 PM? If so, we are experiencing the first white Christmas I can remember in my lifetime.

Y'all can have your snow back if you want it.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

My Excellent Jamaican Cycling Adventure.....

Having spent a great deal of time and energy in last night's post grousing about how our trip to Jamaica ended, I would like to use tonight's blog post to tell about a wonderful experience I had on the trip. On several of our trips I have wanted to ride a bicycle, and I was excited to read that the resort offered a bicycle tour as one of its daily activities.

I wanted Hubby to do it with me, and I really thought I might be able to guilt him into it. What kind of man allows his wife to go off cycling alone in a foreign country? (Okay, there were 17 of us, but still.) He expressed some doubts about his ability to do a long ride. I think that was his pride speaking. He was probably picturing a ride of 20 miles or more, and he's never done a ride of that length. He had rather stay at the resort than take off on a bicycle ride he was afraid he couldn't finish, when he KNEW I would be able to do it. Male ego. What a nuisance.

When I figured out that he really didn't intend to go, I almost didn't go myself. But how do you like THIS logic? I knew if I didn't go, I would blame it on him, and I didn't want to waste part of my vacation being mad about not getting to do something I really wanted to do. So I went without him.

And I enjoyed it thoroughly.

I feel compelled to admit something, though, that reveals something mildly disturbing about my personality. I had the bicycle GPS in the laptop case, but I wasn't absolutely certain it would work outside the continental United States. If it hadn't worked..... I wouldn't have gone. Because if you can't PROVE the miles you rode on a bike, they don't count. At least in my mind.

The route wound up being only 5.91 miles, and at least a half mile of that was achieved by riding round and round a parking lot at the Mega Mart.

Please do not be alarmed that the ride appears to begin and end in the middle of Montego Bay. I can't explain that. I didn't say the GPS worked WELL.

The first part of the "adventure" stems from the fact that in Jamaica they drive on the wrong side of the road. Well, as they put it, "Left is right, and right is suicide." I'm accustomed to having cars whiz by me on the road. Just not on the right side.

We had two employees of the resort accompanying us on the ride, one at the front of the pack and one at the back. Every now and then we had to go through an intersection (many with round-abouts, which I'm not accustomed to), and one of the guys would ride his bike into the intersection and stop, holding up his hand to stop the cars. No one blew the horn, and no one seemed to mind waiting for all 17 of us to get through the intersection. Not even the time we weren't actually AT an intersection but were crossing a 4-lane highway.

The picture above was at the Mega Mart. I didn't go in, because I didn't like the idea of being in there alone, and I didn't want to tag along with anyone else and be a nuisance.

I wanted to get a good picture of this guy and tell Hubby he looked like a Jamaican version of my ex. But short of going up to him and putting the camera in his face, I didn't know how to accomplish it.

The picture above doesn't show it very well, but this was actually a very nice sports complex. The roughness of it comes from the fact that they are doing construction, adding additional spectator areas. Our guide was very proud of this stadium, where they play "futbol" and cricket.

We rode a little bit more and stopped at a little place called "Jerkey's." Just like everywhere else we went, the people were very nice. I had no idea about the relationship of Jamaican dollars to American ones. I ordered a Red Stripe beer and a bottle of water, and the cute little waitress (pictured below) said, "Four dollars." I gave her a ten, and she said she would have to give me change in Jamaican dollars.

I got back $480 in Jamaican dollars. If you click on the picture above (and you may have to enlarge it as well), you can see that 6 chicken wings cost $300. I later saw the exchange rate posted in the casino. Each American dollar is worth $83 Jamaican. I brought back $450 in Jamaican bills, and it looks like a lot of money. Hubby is going to use it to trick his golfing buddies into believing he won so much money in the casino that he didn't even cash in $450. I doubt they'll fall for it.

The picture below was taken at our final stop, one of the ubiquitous souvenir shops. Prices are outrageous and you are expected to bargain (I don't do that very well), but I suspect that tourism is the major industry all over the island, so I played along.  Some of the tactics might be classified as aggressive, but you just had to be firm. Or tell them, as I did on a couple of occasions, that I just spent my very last dollar, and they were pretty quick at that point to leave me alone.

Several people left as soon as they had completed their purchases and headed on back to the resort. I was aghast, not only at the idea of riding unescorted in a foreign country, but at the fact that they KNEW where the resort was. (Have I mentioned lately that I'm directionally challenged?) I had the GPS with me, but still. I was willing to wait patiently until everyone else was finished. We weren't far from the resort as it turned out, but what if I lost my mind and forgot to ride ON THE LEFT?

I was pleased that not only did they have helmets for us to wear, they also provided the attractive (**ahem**) safety vests. 

I was very glad that I went along on the ride. The 5.91 miles didn't put a dent in my December cycling goal, and it looks now like I won't make my overall goal of 2010 miles in 2010. I have reconciled myself to missing the goal, and I have reminded myself numerous times that if I wait until October to make a dedicated effort to reach the goal, the likelihood of reaching it is slim. Still, I'm only missing it by 192 miles, and I may be able to log some more miles if the temperatures ever get back above 50 in the next 7 days. 

Or I could just go back to Jamaica. Now there's a thought.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Nightmare that is Airport Security......

Let me go on record here by saying that I believe fervently in the necessity for heightened airport security. Thanks to the damn terrorists and the alarming number of psychotic people out there, the variety of ways in which travelers can be harmed has grown exponentially. Not to mention the fact that they are assisted by well-meaning news reports illustrating the latest and greatest means of terrorizing air travelers. I can just picture a terrorist with the remote control in his (because they are all men, you know) hand, surfing the channels and landing on CNN. He listens for a moment while the cheery anchor lists the different ways terror can be accomplished on an airplane, and he says to himself, "Huh. Hadn't thought of THAT one."

That being said, I think airport security procedures fall into two distinct categories.

Category 1: Overly vigilant but sadly necessary.

Category 2: Ridiculous and logic-defying.

I got to experience both on an up-close and personal level yesterday on our flight back from Jamaica.

Apparently I fail miserably at choosing winning lottery numbers, but my passport number has some secret code embedded which says I must be pulled out of the line AS WE ARE BOARDING THE AIRCRAFT, having already passed safely through security, and subjected to additional screening.

I didn't complain. I just said jokingly to Hubby as he went on his merry way, "Save me a seat." I suffered silently the additional pat down. A thorough pat down. I thought I was through, but they also had to search both bags I was carrying. The nice lady (and she was VERY nice, as was every single person we met in Jamaica) took every. single. item. out of my laptop case. Have I mentioned how much crap I carry in there? Nintendo DS, GPS for the bicycle, headphones, MP3 player, and several flash drives, along with every conceivable cord known to man for charging all of the above. I had to remove the laptop from the case and OPEN IT. I seriously thought I was going to have to boot it up and show her my wallpaper. (Imagine how embarrassing THAT would have been, since my computer wallpaper sports NOT a picture of my own offspring, but a picture of a member of the UGA gymnastics team. I can't help it - it is an awesome picture of her sitting on her haunches as she waited to mount the bars, and I took it myself from a significant distance.)

Where was I?

Oh yeah. The additional security screening.

There was a kid behind me (looked like a high school student but was wearing several pieces of clothing with the logo of the University of Iowa on them, and I realize that proves absolutely nothing) complaining about the indignity of the experience, since, according to his whiny voice, "Everyone else in my group just sailed right on through." He groused, "Why does this happen to me?" I snapped at him, "Luck of the draw." He continued to complain, and I couldn't help myself. I said to him, "If this is the worst thing that ever happens to you in your whole life, you've had a pretty good life." Then he remembered that he failed his final exam last week, and he mercifully shut up.

The nice lady inspecting my bags then asked that I direct my attention to what she was doing, because it is required that I OBSERVE her inspecting my bags.

That represents Category 1: Overly vigilant but sadly necessary. I have no idea how I would have procured a bomb, a knife, a gun, or anything else in the airport after I had already been through one security screening (and pat down), but I guess some terrorists are clever enough to accomplish it. While it was a tad aggravating, the plane did NOT leave without me, and the overhead bins weren't full when I was finally allowed to board the plane. I continued to smile throughout the entire ordeal, determined NOT to behave as my mother would have, and it didn't last nearly as long as the ten hours it felt like while it was happening.

Then there's Category 2: Ridiculous and logic-defying.

When we arrived at the Customs area of the Atlanta airport, we joined approximately 800 of our closest friends. I'm sure they didn't schedule all international flights to land at the same time. Probably. The lines snaked around and snaked around, so I pulled out my Kindle and continued reading the book I had started on the plane. I'm surprised I wasn't accosted for violating some kind of security rule against reading while in line. Never mind the two people I saw/heard talking on their cell phones, oblivious of (or ignoring?) the signs posted everywhere that using cell phones and cameras in that area was forbidden.

We made it through Customs after about 35 minutes, then we proceeded to Baggage Claim.

Here's the ridiculous and logic-defying part: After we claimed our checked bag, we had to walk about 100 yards, around a corner, and CHECK IT AGAIN. Never mind that Atlanta was our final destination. All checked bags on international flights have to be claimed in Customs, rechecked, and then claimed AGAIN at Baggage Claim upstairs. Apparently that rule is unique to the airports in Atlanta and Memphis. (Memphis?)

AND WE HAD TO GO THROUGH SECURITY AGAIN. TO GET OUT OF THE AIRPORT.  Complete with removing the shoes, taking the laptop out of the case, emptying the pockets, and (in Hubby's case) a full-body scan with one of those nifty machines that everybody has been raising hell about.


Usually I can determine why a certain rule is necessary, but this one has me stumped. If I made it through security at the originating airport (with an additional screening and pat down, I remind you), and I have been within the confined of the airport for the entire journey from the plane to Customs, how in the world could I have procured anything dangerous or illegal? Hell, how could I have procured anything LEGAL?

Once we were on the ground in Atlanta, it took as much time to get out of the airport as it took for the ENTIRE FLIGHT BACK FROM JAMAICA.

Combine all these events with the fact that Hubby's blood sugar was probably tanking, and you would be correct if you guessed that he was quite the grumpy traveler by the time we got to our car.

I'm making a list of things we will do differently the next time we travel out of the country. But I've got to give Hubby time to forget this one first.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

We're Back........

Just a quick blog post to let you know we made it home from Jamaica. The trip was wonderful, and I'll have lots to blog about in coming days, including my Jamaican bicycle adventure.

When I wrote my blog entries ahead of time and scheduled them to post while we were gone, I didn't plan one for tonight. I thought with a flight that landed at 7:00 PM, and living only an hour away from the airport, that I would have plenty of time to write a coherent (if not fraught with witty reflections on our trip) blog post at my regular time tonight.

I forgot all about going through Customs and the nightmare that is airport security. My experiences with security on both ends of the return flight home will be an entire blog post all by themselves.

I also hope to have some decent pictures from the trip. I read a few blogs on the plane (Delta was offering free wi-fi for the holidays - yay!), but it will take me a few days to get caught up completely.

It's always good to come home, but I seriously wish I were still in a place where the low temperature for the night was 72 degrees.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Grown-Up Christmas List.....

Dear Santa:

I haven't been very good this year.... or any year, for that matter. So I'm going to go ahead and get ridiculous here. Because I KNOW I'm not going to get any of this junk.

Especially since I have once again stolen my blog topic from my dear friend Neena.



I would like one of these because my friend Rozmo has a convertible Mercedes and I want to be just like her when I grow up.

I would like to go back to Venice and see this again:

I'm not really a bling-bling girl, but it IS my birthstone after all.

I'd like one of these, please. 

And one of these to go with it:

(By the way, do you REALIZE what you get when you Google images for a maid? What are these people THINKING?)

I'd like one of these, along with the smaller craft AND the helicopter. Oh, and I'll need people who know how to drive/fly/sail (?) these things.

I wouldn't mind having a newer, bigger, shinier one of these. With saddlebags so I can take my laptop when I ride it.

That's all. As you can plainly see, it is a very short list. I'll be waiting up for you on Christmas Eve. If you could deliver any or all of the above, you better believe there will be something more substantial than cookies and milk waiting for you.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Georgia License Plates......

A few years ago I heard some news report saying that the Georgia legislature was going to try to minimize the number of specialty license plates issued for cars in our state because they preferred a more uniform look. Apparently someone shot that idea down, however, because now we have about a gazillion different specialty plates, and more of them pop up every day it seems.

I never really wanted a specialty plate, mainly because there have been few times in my life when I could afford to shell out an ADDITIONAL $35 on top of the regular fee. I thought briefly about getting a UGA plate, but I must have been in one of my bitter periods and decided I had given those b***ards enough of my money already.

When the "Share the Road" plates became available, however, I discovered I wanted to proclaim myself a cyclist, and the BRAG sticker on the back of my car wasn't nearly enough. The extra money generated from the specialty plate fees (allegedly) goes to supporting bicycling safety initiatives all over the state, so I thought that was a worthwhile cause.

When Hubby went to get the plates for me because he is a man and doesn't listen very well, he thought I wanted one of the plates designating a Georgia educator. The lady at the desk told him I would have to come in a produce my teacher i.d. badge before I could get that plate. I'm glad she told him that, because otherwise I would be driving around all bitter and stuff because I would have the wrong plate on my car.

Yes, I just used the word "bitter" twice in one blog post. I'm in Jamaica, so be bitter about THAT.

That got me wondering, though, about the requirements for having a specialty tag on one's car. Suppose I weren't an educator, but I just wanted to support education by paying the extra fee every year and sport the license plate on the back of my car? They wouldn't LET me?

Side note: I am proud to be an educator, and I would gladly have paid the fee for that plate, but I don't agree with where the extra money goes. It goes into a fund to compensate teachers and their families who are injured while on the job. I agree wholeheartedly that those families should be compensated, but how often does that happen? I thought the funds could be better used to serve a larger group of teachers. For example, they could fund extra sick days for teachers who use all their sick leave up taking care of a chronically ill family member.

Whew, I think I just sprained my ankle jumping off that soapbox. Sorry.

Funny, though, about having to prove I was a teacher. When I went to get my Share the Road tag, they didn't ask to see my bicycle. What if I didn't really have one? What if I didn't even really believe in sharing the road? 

Anyway, as I started noticing the other specialty plates out there, I wondered how those people proved their devotion to their causes.

If Hubby wanted one of these, would he have to show them a scorecard? Demonstrate his swing in the parking lot? Take his golf clubs in when he went to purchase the plate?

I can understand some of the requirements. My mother-in-law, for example, has one of these.


I will defend to the death the right of officials to ask for documentation so that only the truly disabled can have these tags. 

These two are to show support for the idea that dogs and cats should be spayed and neutered.

I guess we COULD get Gus and Libby to go into the tag office with us, but I'm not sure they have the same views on that subject. They might not be good spokesdogs.

Likewise Missy (aka Little Brutus) and Olive (aka Big Brutus). First of all they aren't going to like being on a leash, and the tag office people are not going to like hearing what the Brutuses have to say about being spayed and neutered, respectively.

The plate below is to show support for wildlife in Georgia, specifically the bobwhite quail. I'm pretty sure there's a law against taking those into the tag office, even if you COULD get the quail to cooperate.


You can get the antique/hobby vehicle tag for your vehicle if it is more than 25 years old. Hubby was excited when his '69 Ford pickup qualified. (He bought it brand new, and it lives in our basement. I'm not kidding.)


For some reason, though, when it came time to renew the plates last week, he became spectacularly UNEXCITED when he discovered that he's been paying an extra $35 every year for the license plate on a truck that lives in our basement. He came home with a plain old regular tag. And $35 extra in his pocket.

 I could have used the one below for my bicycle.


I have never, ever seen one of those on the road. Who has those? 
Let's just say you COULD talk the bobwhite quail into going to the tag office with you. What about THIS fellow?

I can't even get a decent PICTURE of a hummingbird, much less get one in the car with me.
I'm pretty sure THIS one would be illegal.

 Here's a real challenge.

Yeah, let me know how that turns out, getting that dolphin in the car with you. I have to say, though, that SOMEONE in the state government has a sense of humor. You can't tell it by most of these samples, but the first two letters generally have something to do with whatever the cause being supported is. The plate for spaying and neutering starts with DC (dogs and cats), the Share the Road one starts with RD, the one supporting the University of Alabama starts with RT (Roll Tide). The one above? The one for protecting wild dolphins? The license starts with EE. EE! EE!!!!! That is hilarious. Sorry, that may just be my sense of humor. EE. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

If you support the Georgia Aquarium, do you have to take one of each of the animals/fish?

 A ticket stub? A picture? A receipt for some concessions that cost more than my first semester's tuition at UGA?

This has both the sea turtle and Jekyll Island on it. Do you have to support both?

I guess this guy could hitch a ride with the dolphin.

There was a time when no one in his right mind would sport the license plate below on a vehicle. That was back in the days when there were bumper stickers all over Georgia that read: "Go Falcons! And take the Braves with you!" I guess it's a different story when the team is 11-2 (perhaps 12-2 by the time you read this post) and leading the NFC.

Now believe me when I saw that I am NOT making fun of the cause on the license plate below. I believe fervently in the need to raise money for breast cancer (and all cancers, actually) research. But if you want this tag, do you have to have breasts? Or do you just have to like them?

I won't even go into how I feel about the specialty tags below. I respect each fan's right to show his or her support for any team they want to. I just believe they should move to those states.

The Florida one (naturally) really gets my goat. Some Georgia legislators tried to pass a motion a couple of years ago that if Florida would not reciprocate and allow a tag in their state for UGA alumni, then the UF license plate could not be renewed in Georgia. I stood and applauded and cheered and vowed undying devotion for every single one of those crooked politicians UGA-loving souls. Then there was a public outcry about their wasting valuable tax dollars debating such meaningless (MEANINGLESS? ARE THEY KIDDING ME?) issues under the gold dome, and the matter was dropped. Now we are forced to avert our eyes every time we spot a car with the UF license plate on the back. The "F" can stand for something other than Florida in my mind if I want it to.


By the way, I was going to use photos of actual license plates for this post, and I started months ago, taking pictures of cars in parking lots when I went to the mall, the "Y", ballgames, etc. Then I decided that in this crazy post-911 world, taking photos of people's license plates wasn't a very safe thing to do. I was going to blur out the actual numbers, but I may not have had time to explain myself, particularly if someone's car sported this license plate.


When I went to find a sample of this license plate, I found another link that allows you to CHOOSE WHICH SPECIFIC DRIVER you want your plate to show.

Double seriously?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Confusing Counties in Georgia.....

Because I'm actually in Jamaica when you are reading this, I'm not even going to apologize for wasting your time with the silliness of this post. I'm also not going to apologize for being in Jamaica. Sorry. You can't reach me down here.

This is further proof that I either have way too much time on my hands or....... I just have way too much time on my hands.

Georgia has more counties than any other state except Texas. Like many states, Georgia has many counties and towns that are named after people. Mostly dead people. I guess actually they are ALL dead.

What I have never understood, though, is the fact that Georgia has a whole host of towns and counties that share the same name. But MOST OF THEM are NOT IN THOSE COUNTIES. I don't know if that's just a Georgia thing or if the same thing happens in other states.

Bear with me here.

First of all, I would like to commend the well-behaved towns that are placed in what I consider the appropriate counties.

  • Franklin Springs is in Franklin County. (That sounds funny...."Franklin Springs IS.....")
  • Dooling is in Dooly County.
  • Douglasville is in Douglas County.
  • Dawsonville is in Dawson County.
  • Fayetteville is in Fayette County.
  • Lincolnton is in Lincoln County.
  • Irwinville is in Irwin County (but Irwinton is NOT, as you will discover should you actually continue reading this blog post).
  • Leesburg is in Lee County.
  • Tifton is in Tift County.
  • Talbotton is in Talbot County,
  • Greensboro is in Greene County (but Greenville is NOT).
  • Elberton is in Elbert County (the county where my mother and brother live).
  • Warrenton is in Warren County.
  • Carrollton is in Carroll County (which is where I think my mother SHOULD live, since her name is Carol Carroll).
  • Hartwell is in Hart County.
  • Thomasville is in Thomas County (but Thomaston is NOT).

Many of our towns and counties are not so well-behaved, though. Some are just plain out of place. I offer the following as evidence:

  • Lumpkin is NOT in Lumpkin County. It's in Stewart County.
  • Fort Stewart is NOT in Stewart County, it's in Liberty County. (Ha ha ha ha ha ha - It's an Army base, and it's in Liberty County. Isn't that a scream? I'm hilarious.)
  • Forsyth is NOT in Forsyth County, it's in Monroe County.
  • Monroe is NOT in Monroe County, it's in Walton County.
  • Clayton is NEITHER in Clay County nor Clayton County, but instead in Rabun County.
  • Neither Clarkston nor Clarkesville is in Clarke County. Clarkston is in DeKalb County, and Clarkesville is in Habersham County.
  • Madison is NOT in Madison County, it's in Morgan County,
  • Morgan is NOT in Morgan County, it's in Calhoun County.
  • Calhoun is NOT in Calhoun County, it's in Gordon County.
  • Gordon is NOT in Gordon County, it's in Wilkinson County.
  • Greenville is NOT in Greene County, it's in Meriwether County.
  • Neither White nor Whitesburg is in White County. White is in Bartow County, Whitesburg is in Catoosa County.
  • Bartow is NOT in Bartow County, it's in Jefferson County.
  • Neither Jeffersonville nor Jefferson is in Jefferson County. Jeffersonville is in Twiggs County; Jefferson is in Jackson County.
  • Jackson is NOT in Jackson County, it's in Butts County. (Hee hee.... "Butts County" .... am I in middle school or what?)
  • Marion is NOT in Marion County, it's in Twiggs County.
  • Stephens is NOT in Stephens County, it's in Oglethorpe County.
  • Fort Oglethorpe is NOT in Oglethorpe County, it's in Catoosa County.
  • Oglethorpe is also NOT in Oglethorpe County, it's in Macon County.
  • Macon is NOT in Macon County, it's in Bibb County.
  • Toomsboro is NOT in Toombs County (possibly because they aren't even spelled the same and I'm stretching things here), it's in Wilkinson County.
  • Screven is NOT in Screven County, it's in Wayne County.
  • Neither Waynesville nor Waynesboro is in Wayne County. Waynesville is in unincorporated Brantley County (and possibly doesn't even count, but it's my blog) and Waynesboro is in Burke County.
  • Neither Thomaston nor Thomson (which many Georgia residents insist upon pronouncing "ThomPson") is in Thomas County. Thomaston is in Upson County, and Thomson is in McDuffie County.
  • Worth is NOT in Worth County, it's in Turner County.
  • Dawson is NOT in Dawson County, it's in Terrell County. 
  • Neither Crawfordville nor Crawford is in Crawford County. Crawfordville is in Taliaferro County (which is pronounced "Toliver," like "Oliver" with a "T" in front of it. No, I don't have any idea either.), and Crawford is in Oglethorpe County.
  • Harrisburg is NOT in Harris County, it's in Baldwin County.
  • Baldwin is NOT in Baldwin County, it's in Banks and Habersham. I know this town, and believe me, it ain't big enough to warrant two counties.
  • Oconee is NOT in Oconee County (where I grew up, thank you very much), but in Washington County.
  • Washington is NOT in Washington County, but in Wilkes County. 
  • Jasper is NOT in Jasper County, it's in Pickens County.
  • Mitchell is NOT in Mitchell County, it's in Glascock County. (Glass cock.... tee hee.... middle school again)
  • Douglas is NOT in Douglas County, it's in Coffee County. (And Coffee County is right next to Bacon County, and the fact that I find that hilarious is just one teeny tiny step above middle school.)
  • Montgomery is NOT in Montgomery County, it's in Chatham County.
  • Lanier is NOT in Lanier County, it's in Bryan County.
  • Atkinson is NOT in Atkinson County, it's in Brantley County.
  • Newton is NOT in Newton County, it's in Baker County.
  • Colquitt is NOT in Colquitt County, it's in Miller County.
  • Murrayville is NOT in Murray County, it's in Hall County. (We used to tailgate with the former mayor of Murrayville. You have absolutely zero need for that information, just like the rest of this blog post.)
  • Brooks is NOT in Brooks County, it's in Fayette County.
  • Glennville is NOT in Glynn County (another stretch here, but it's still my blog), it's in Tattnall County.
  • Irwinton is NOT in Irwin County, it's in Wilkinson County.
  • Columbus is NOT in Columbia County, it's in Muscogee County.
  • Decatur is NOT in Decatur County, it's in DeKalb County.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled lives. Goodbye from Jamaica.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dear Gym Dogs........

Dear Gym Dogs:

It’s the day of your Sneak Peek, our first (but probably unrealistic) glimpse of what the 2011 gymnastics season will look like. As a result of some poor planning, I find myself in Jamaica on this date and unable to attend the Sneak Peek. I apologize for the error, but I’m sure you understand.

As we (meaning YOU the team and ME, possibly your most devoted [obsessed?] fan) embark on the new season, I would like to offer a few pointers and suggestions. Feel free to ignore them, but they are heartfelt. And don’t worry - they are NOWHERE NEAR as scathing as the remarks offered up by Aunt Joyce on his blog. He is ruthless in his criticism. Yet as devoted (obsessed?) a fan as I am, I have never been able to argue realistically with anything he has said. I probably wouldn’t SAY them, but I can’t argue with them. He’s brutally honest. Emphasis on brutal.

#1 - Let’s reconsider the introductory video. When you unveiled this one 

at last year’s first home meet, I shuddered. I felt the eyes of Karma bearing down on all of us in Stegeman Coliseum. Her eyes were little slits, and I smelled trouble from the beginning. If you come out and proclaim yourselves “unstoppable,” one of two things is bound to happen. You’re going to A) kick some serious gymnastic arse and PROVE yourselves unstoppable; or B) you’re going to invite other teams to kick THEMSELVES into a higher gear and prove you aren’t. Unstoppable, that is. Remember which one happened last year? The five-time defending NCAA champions did not win. a. single. meet. on. the. road. And for the first time in oh about 27 years, you watched the NCAA championships from the spectator seats, just like I did. Yeah, because I ordered national championship tickets along with my season tickets. Because we’ve been just that sure for years and years that you would be there. I guess I learned my lesson about doing THAT. I guess you did too, since the option to purchase national championship tickets was not on this year’s season ticket application. Back to the introductory video. It wasn’t just the choice of song. I even downloaded it onto my iPhone, and I like to listen to it when I’m riding my bike. I would also like to think I AM unstoppable. In the video, though, your facial expressions and your body language made you look like..... I hate to say it, but I must..... You looked kinda like thugs. You even appeared to be flashing gang signs. Waving your national championship rings at the camera. Reminded me of those old commercials when Robert Conrad would dare viewers to knock the battery off his shoulder. Yes, I realize you are all too young to have any idea what I’m talking about.

#2 - Maybe it’s just me, but the floor music last year was ….. underwhelming. Some of it grew on me by the end of the season, but I remember thinking at the beginning, “Blah.” I realize you can’t have something like Tiffany Tolnay’s “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” or “Bad to the Bone” EVERY year, but come on! At least have something that gets the crowd involved. No need to go overboard, though. That shotgun blast that comes at the beginning of EVERY SINGLE floor routine of West Virginia, and the wolf howl that comes before EVERY SINGLE floor routine of N.C. State, those won’t be necessary. Not that either of those would be appropriate for UGA, but I’m just sayin’.

#3 - Let’s talk beam music. I realize it’s the only time you get to choose music that has lyrics, and you want beam music that reveals something about you. It was incredibly sweet two years ago when Paige Burns used Jimmy Buffett’s “Little Miss Magic” because that is the song she and her dad decided they would dance to when she gets married. It is cool that Hilary Mauro used “She Comes from Boston” and Noel Couch used “Jersey Girl” to represent their hometowns. And I think when Kat Ding chose “I Run to You,” she chose the song for its message about avoiding hate and prejudice and how wonderful it is to have someone else to turn to in times of conflict and uncertainty. It’s probably just a coincidence that five out of the eight times she performed on beam last year, when she got to the word “disaster” in the chorus of that song, she fell off the beam. Can we say “self-fulfilling prophecy”? Let’s not take any chances that it was NOT coincidence, shall we? Let’s find some beam music with words like “soar” and “fly” and “leap” and “punch front” and “double back in the pike position” and “gainer off the side with a full twist.” Okay, perhaps those last ones might be asking for a bit much. Maybe.

As I write this (admittedly NOT from Jamaica, but posted in advance), the videos I’ve seen of intrasquads and practice look amazing. Some of you returned this fall in much, much, much better shape than last year (**ahem, I’m looking at YOU, Cassidy, and you look AMAZING**), and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the injuries that hounded some of you last year are completely healed. (Why was Kat even warming up on beam last April at regionals in the first place? It wasn’t like she was going to compete on it.....) Except for Calamity-You-Know-Who, who will ALWAYS be injured. I know practically nothing about the freshmen except that one is a local girl who won’t even join the team until January because she’s still in high school, but I do know they are going to have to PRODUCE. You lost some superstars last year (and the year before), but there are always new superstars to be produced.

So I’ll see you all at the “Meet the Team” event in 24 days, and for the first home meet in 7 weeks. I’ll be watching online when you have your first meet of the season in Denver. Because I’m a devoted (obsessed?) fan that way.

And I’ll see you at the NCAA Championships in Cleveland in April.

Go Gym Dogs!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Another Semester Gone.....

Today was our last day of school before Christmas Break. It's a little strange teaching where I do now, because we don't have the same end-of-the-semester finality that we had in the traditional school. If our students finish their course(s) early, they go ahead and take their cumulative exams (which has generated so many wrong pronunciations that we should have kept track of them). If they finish EVERYTHING early, they don't have to come anymore. If they DON'T finish but are close, they just finish up when we get back from Christmas. But we threaten them with dismissal if they don't earn enough credits, so several today were begging to be allowed to work over Christmas Break. Go ahead, kiddies, but don't expect to find ME on there.

Students never cease to amaze me with the energy they will expend (at great risk) to avoid doing their work. This week we discovered (sadly, almost by accident) that two students were logging in as each other. One was doing the other's biology work, and in exchange he was doing his Spanish (his parents are native speakers, and Spanish is spoken in the home). We decided to catch them at it, and sure enough, the next morning, one kid was logged in and working BEFORE HE EVEN ARRIVED AT SCHOOL!!!! When he ambled in to my classroom, I pulled his screen up on mine and watched as he logged in with another student's name. Took a snapshot of it on the computer and submitted that with the discipline referral.

Neither of those young men will be back with us next semester. They didn't earn enough credits to retain their seats, particularly after credit for those two courses was denied for academic dishonesty. And the REST of their courses are in question as far as I'm concerned. One of them, when he was informed that he would not be coming back to us next semester but could return to his traditional school, stormed out, saying WE had f***ed up his life. (He won't be able to graduate this year without those credits.) Then he went back to the classroom and destroyed a keyboard. Oddly enough, his twin brother IS coming back next semester.

We don't have the rush to grade final exams and submit grades before we leave for Christmas Break. Even though we are on the block semester system, we only submit grades at the end of the school year. Kids don't fail if they don't finish, and they don't start over the next semester. Of course if they have courses left over from the previous semester, they run the risk of not earning enough credits over the whole year to retain their seats for the next year.

I guess what I'm saying is that today was too CALM to be the last day before Christmas Break. I didn't have to clean out my refrigerator or unplug the microwave, since the b****rds won't let us have those in our classrooms anymore. The kids weren't wild, because MOST of the ones who were there were feeling the pinch and working like crazy. We had a couple who stayed until 2:00 and 3:00, even though students were technically dismissed at noon. (Not one girl, though, who said she couldn't take her cumulative exam because her mom needed her to do something at home. How about THOSE priorities?)

Our little team went to a local restaurant for drinks/snacks after school. Except for the staff member who said he had to leave early today and missed all the afternoon interviews of prospective students. His malady? He was sleepy. Oh, and the boss didn't come to our gathering. Again. At least this time she didn't CLAIM she wasn't invited.

Thankfully, even if it didn't FEEL like Christmas Break, it really is. Two blessed weeks away from school.

As of today, 269 school days to retirement. Unless they give us some more furlough days, in which case it's less than that.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Further Proof that Educated Doesn't Necessarily Mean Smart.....

One day last week I got a text message from Hubby late in the day. All it said was:

"Fats Domino today"?

I puzzled over it, but only for a moment. Then the light went on, and I thought to myself, "How did he know I was planning to have pizza for dinner?"

I texted back "Shoot yeah." Because I don't like to use profanity in text messages when I'm sending them from school. I have a few morals. Okay, one. Moral.

Never mind that what I had in mind for dinner was a FROZEN pizza. A $2.99 versus a $10.75 one. (Side note: The pizza that we have ordered for almost all of the 14 years we have cohabited has gone DOWN in price by about two dollars. I can't help but be suspicious.)

(Another side note: I just learned that "cohabitated" is not a word.)

Never mind that when we DO order a pizza, it isn't from Domino's. We feel obligated to order from another pizza join in town just because we spend part of every weekend, particular Super Bowl Sunday, and many rainy nights answering the phone for this pizza joint.

I felt so clever for figuring out Hubby's cryptic message.

It reminded me of when Sweet Girl was in the Persian Gulf. She couldn't tell me where they were GOING, but she could tell me when they got there. So she would email me messages that I couldn't figure out for the life of me, but Hubby got them right away. Like the time she emailed "we saw the big rock at Stone Mountain today." I was very confused, since Stone Mountain is in Georgia and Sweet Girl was on the other side of the world, and Stone Mountain couldn't be seen from the deck of a ship anyway, but Hubby immediately said, "They went by the Rock of Gibraltar." When they were headed back from the Gulf, she didn't know where they were going, but there were several choices. When she found out their destination, she still couldn't tell me where they were going. So she emailed me this message: "Diana wants to see my mouse pad." No terrorist could ever figure that one out, and neither could I. Turns out they were going to England. Sweet Girl was fascinated by Princess Diana, and my mother had brought back a mouse pad with some London reference on it when she was there. I would make a terrible code breaker.

Back to the present. Or at least the not-so-distant past.

When I got home from school that day, excited for YET ANOTHER dinner I didn't have to cook (frozen pizza doesn't qualify as cooking, not even in my world), I asked Hubby, "Are we going to walk today?"

He gave me a blank look.

I gave him a blank look right back.

"Didn't you get my email?" (He often says email when he means text message, and I don't nitpick. Because I want to be precise, though, I'm telling you what he really said and what he really meant. I apologize for the preceding two sentences.)

Turns out that his Fats Domino reference wasn't about pizza at all. He was referring to this song.

And I was so proud of myself for figuring out that he wanted pizza for dinner.

We still had pizza.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Conversations with Hubby......

Here's a conversation I had with Hubby last night:

Me:     What would you like for dinner? BLT or cheesy chicken?

Hubby:     BLT.

Me:     Did you say "BLT" because you know I'm exhausted and I don't really feel like cooking anything? That's really sweet.

Hubby:    No, I said "BLT" because I don't really care for cheesy chicken.


Here's a conversation we had tonight.

Hubby:     What's for dinner, cheesy chicken?

Me:     Yes, sorry. It's either that or chili.

Hubby:     That's okay, I've had enough chili for a while.

Me:     Reckon you'll be over that by tomorrow night?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Letters to Some People......

Dear Neena:

Thank you for using this format in one of your own blog posts, thus allowing me to steal it. But I TOLD you I was going to steal it, so is it still stealing?

Still bowing down to you,



Dear Newspaper Carrier:

Thank you for having the newspaper here when I got up every day this week, including Sunday when I inexplicably got up at 4:41 AM. There is nothing more aggravating than trudging all the way out to the paper box in 20-degree temperatures, only to find it still empty. Let me refresh your memory - that happened TWICE last week.

Loving the improvement,



Dear Gus:

When it's 17 degrees outside, MUST you find EXACTLY the right spot in which to pee? Seriously, won't any old blade of grass do? Just scratch on the door when you're ready to come in, K? I'm damned if I'm going to stand out in the cold with you. I've got coffee waiting.

Still the woman who feeds you,



Dear Fatty:

Thank you for the blanket invitation to join your little weight-loss contest, with prizes available to anyone who succeeded in losing 10 pounds between the start of the contest and Christmas. I get that you are trying to counter the typical holiday weight gain by preposterously suggesting that we might even LOSE weight. It's not that I'm giving in to the temptation to chuck it all in honor of the holidays. It's that I happen to be FEMALE, and losing 10 pounds in 4 weeks is damn near impossible. Have fun with the rest of your testosterone-laden winners. Losers. Whatever.

Your faithful follower but pissed off about the whole weight thing,



Dear Cray-Cray:

Thank you, thank you, thank you for withdrawing from our little school. I am sorry it didn't work out for you here, and I wish you success in whatever you and your cray-cray mama decide is best for you. Feel free to email us and update us on your endeavors. Just don't drop by to visit. Please.

Your former English teacher,

Dr. Bragger


Dear Pioneer Woman:

Thank you for allowing me NOT to be chosen as a winner for yet another of your contests. I didn't need a damn camera anyway, and I probably wouldn't have known how to use it. I realize your winners are chosen by a random number generator and my entry was #37512 or some such. But it's hard to be bitter toward a random number generator, so you're it.

Trying to find a reason to hate you,



Dear Sisters:

It has been much too long since we had a Sisters' Saturday, and I'm going into withdrawal. MUST we wait until gymnastics season starts? I realize it's only a month away (okay, 32 days until the first home meet, to be exact), but still.

Still the baby sister,



Dear Sister-in-Law on Hubby's side:

You BETTER hope I don't run into you in a dark alley somewhere. You seriously are CHARGING your own mother, who is 81 years old, to clean her house? SERIOUSLY? There's a special place in Hell for you.

Wielding several different weapons,



Dear Co-Worker Who Shall Remain Nameless but Everyone Knows Who You Are:

Please. Shut. Up. Just. Shut. Up. I'm looking at YOU.

Seriously about to throttle you,

Bragger. That's Dr. Bragger to you.


Dear Big Brutus:

If you insist on going outside at 8:00 PM in the freezing cold just ONE MORE TIME, I'm going to leave your large arse out there. I know you want to sit on the bank next to the swimming pool and stare at the spot where you THINK a mole might appear. Let me remind you that you don't HAVE ANY CLAWS and you couldn't do anything about it if a mole DID come out. I'm tired of coming out there and carrying you inside because you're too stupid to know it's going to get down below freezing. Again. I think I wrenched my back carrying your lard butt inside night before last.

Wishing beds came in something larger than king-sized,



Dear Sleep Goddess:

Whatever I've done in a previously lifetime for which the penance is losing hours of sleep each night, I'M SORRY! Can we just call it a draw? Oh hell, never mind. I WILL LET YOU WIN! I hereby declare you the winner. You've won. I'm defeated. You're victorious. You rule. Now please, please, please let me sleep all night long. Please.