Friday, September 05, 2003

New Feature

I'm working with a "source" who teaches 2nd grade to bring all the news about public school to this site once a week. My source is a public school teacher who will share the reasons that she feels children aren't learning things properly. Here's a taste of week 1 at the local PS139:

School is okay. I think that tomorrow is the day I plan to turn into a bitch. My class thinks they are in charge & that they come to school to socialize. At the end of the year last year I walked into one first grade classroom. They were listening to a story on a tape & "following along in the book." There were two kids crawling on the floor, kids talking, kids drawing, & one even painting her fingernails. I have seven of those in my class this year.

The ones from the other classrooms are not much better.

The third grade teachers said their kids are really well behaved. Of course they are, they had my friend & I last year. I want to slap them. They were the kids from hell at the beginning of last year. They owe us a case of beer or something.

My friend's door says "Another Enchanting Year". She informed me yesterday she was changing it to "Another Shitty Year".

This is my grip day.

Mr. and Mrs. America, your kids are generally not well-behaved and the only persons unaware of this fact are you, the clueless parents.

Thought for the Day

You know when you're sitting on a chair and you lean back so you're just on two legs then you lean too far and you almost fall over but at the last second you catch yourself? I feel like that all the time.

The Good 'Ole Days

Germany plays ostrich during the war on terrorism and doesn't much like America. According to this article, deep in their hearts some of them are just longing for the good ole days:

"A third of people in eastern Germany regret that so much of daily life under their former communist regime has all but disappeared since the country was reunified, according to a survey. The poll found that a wave of nostalgia for the old days, highlighted by a series of recent films and television shows, is based on some reality."
Remember the smell of oppression in the morning?
As the phenomenon grows, so does the debate as to whether it is appropriate to be sentimental about life under a regime which shot those who tried to escape its clutches, and persecuted those who disagreed with its ideology.
Sorry, I'm just at a loss for words. I lived in fear of persecution or death, but _________________ makes me remember it all fondly. Fill in the blank yourself because the only word I can think of starts with in and ends in sanity.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

MaMa's Surprise

I thought the paper came out on Tuesday, but it comes out on Thursday. I've been waiting to see if she enjoyed it all week! I'll let gran take it from here:

Mom always looks at the paper from the back and usually the obits first....I happen to be there and I kept watching her to see when she would actually see the full page spread....then she said "Oh my gosh....where did you get that picture?" I told my sister that she would say something about the picture first....she is much prettier than her pictures. Anyway, she said she was looking across the page at the obits and looked across to her picture...My husband always ask she and Daddy why they read the obits first and they said "To see if we're there." Ha. Anyway, I think for a minute she thought she was...but she just laughed and said, "There is no telling how much that cost."
True woman of the depression, but still at 94, unhappy with the picture. I can relate, MaMa!

My cousin gave a moving eulogy for my PaPa's funeral, but I decided that I'd like MaMa to read it herself. Don't wait to tell people how much you love and respect them. Time's short.

Lots of interesting reading and tons of links at The Command Post - Dan's Iraq Briefing: Sept 4/03. Go have a look.

More quagmire talk this time from Ann Coulter:

President Lyndon Johnson's war on poverty turned out to be a bigger quagmire than Vietnam. Would that the Democrats would give the war in Iraq as much time to succeed as they are willing to give the "War on Poverty," now entering its 40th year.
Perhaps we should bring the U.N. in on this one.

Jed Babbin on Iraq in National Review Online votes no over the new U.N. talks:

In Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz confirmed that, "Among the hundreds of enemy that we have captured in the last months are more than 200 foreign terrorists who came to Iraq to kill Americans." Wolfowitz understands what Powell and Armitage don't: Iraq is now the central battle in the war against terrorism, and to give control of Iraq to the U.N. will result in our defeat in Iraq because the U.N. is not committed to the defeat of terrorism. Many terrorist states — Iran, Syria, Libya, and North Korea, among others — are members in good standing. They and their sympathizers are able to control U.N. action.
I am still wondering why we are trying to get U.N. support or approval. If we get it, we lose because we'll have to let them take over. If we don't get it, we've accomplished nothing more than draw negative attention to the occupation.

Update:Opinion Journal editoral disagrees:

This is not of course how Mr. Bush is portraying the move. White House spokesman Scott McClellan yesterday said that some countries, such as India, need a U.N. imprimatur before they dispatch troops to Iraq. Mr. Bush wants to provide that fig leaf--our words, not Mr. McClellan's--but the current coalition will retain civilian and military control in Baghdad.

If this is how it all works out, the inevitable U.N. wrangling may well be worth it. America's 140,000 troops in Iraq are clearly doing jobs of police work and guard duty that they weren't trained for and that leave them vulnerable to attack. With their discipline, firepower and mobility, they would be better deployed pursuing Saddam and his Baath Party remnants.

Thought For the Day

You read about all these terrorists -- most of them came here legally, but they hung around on these expired visas, some for as long as 10-15 years. Now, compare that to Blockbuster; you are two days late with a video and those people are all over you. Let's put Blockbuster in charge of immigration.
(Thanks to gran via email list of jokes)

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Must Read

Bill Steigerwald has an article on John Taylor Gatto and his views on public school:

"For instance, he says, 'School trains children to be employees and consumers,' so 'teach your own to be leaders and adventurers.' And 'School trains children to obey reflexively; teach your own to think critically and independently.'

Based on a long life and 30 years' teaching in New York City's best and worst public schools, Gatto thinks kids can accomplish almost anything if given the chance, and he believes 'genius is common as dirt.' "

Viagra and I read the Harpers article earlier in the week and have been discussing it ever since. This semester of college has been an eye-opening experience and he's starting to realize exactly how much he'd like to thank me. Excellent. Now if he'll only follow up the promise to get rich and buy me the 'vette.

How Rich Are You?

Global Rich List will allow you to calculate your wealth in proportion to the rest of the globe. Amazingly, I'm one of the wealthiest. How are you doing?

More Media Distortion on Iraq

This is facinating and written by a former peace protester now back in Iraq. Commentary: Letter from Baghdad:

"I have been shocked at the difference between the Baghdad I found on my return and all the bad news from the city. Despite the recent bombings, Baghdad looks dramatically different. The stores are full of supplies. The streets are crowded with people and cars. The buses are working and police are on the streets, directing traffic."
As they say, read the whole thing.

Looks like we're going back to the U.N. asking for help. ScrappleFace: U.N. Troops to Lead 'Operation Haughty Weasel' :

"The plan, dubbed Operation Haughty Weasel, will use U.N. troops to guard important facilities, and to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people."
Seriously, Winds of Change has some reasons why it's a bad idea:
First, and foremost, I'm unhappy because I think that the U.N. as presently constituted is damn unlikely to be a positive force in Iraq. The forces within Germany and France that traded oil for weapons with Saddam will see this as a way to avoid the scrutiny they deserve, and the dysfunctional U.N. will itself see this as a shot in the arm, keeping it from going through the changes it needs to become a truly effective and legitimate international organization, as opposed to what it is...a corrupt debating club, that is used to provide diplomatic cover for oligarchs, kleptocrats, and the corporate and political bureaucrats who serve them.

Sound of Silence

I added this comment feature and so far those who wanted it back have commented exactly once each. Come on in, the water's fine!

New Google Ads

Google has now changed the ads it places on my site from news of Iraqi sites to Smokydiva's, Long Dress Slip, and Turquoise Necklaces. The marketing of MaMa's dress-up box. Is this a diverse site or what?

Women in the Military Debate

Front Page Magazine has an interesting round table discussion with a military historian, a female officer, and two others.

Is it a good idea for us to put our women in combat? What did the recent experience in Iraq teach us on this score? Isn't the idea of endangering the female's body, with its gift to procreate, an obscene act? And in any case, aren't women clearly just unable to perform as well as men physically? Or are these notions just archaic beliefs that have no place in our modern society? After all, if some women are suited for combat and want to be in combat to defend our nation, shouldn't they be free to do so?
What do you think??

Best of the Web Today is a humorous read from start to finish. Go check it out!

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Nothing to See Folks, Move Along

Mom and I exchanged emails and phone calls over MaMa's birthday surprise. My sister, retaining a gigantic grudge over the peepee dress, edited my article before it went to press. I requested a copy before publication, but said copy has not arrived in the In-Box. That fact alone bodes ill since my sister, Henny, has an editor's streak a mile wide and also inherited MaMa's dry, sly wit.

Mr. G ordered a boat. We'll be skiing in October, but that's okay because I've heard lowering the body temperature also burns calories, so this can only enhance my diet plan. I'll be a size 5 by December or dead from exposure. On the plus side, I'll look thin, albeit blue, at the open casket funeral.

School started today and it was a nightmare. The printer cartridge died in the middle of copying timelines, the VCR ate my tape on Christopher Columbus, and we had to be at science and Spanish classes at 11. Valentine called from college to report her dog ate her Biology notes. Viagra was astonished that today's history class shut down when no one understood the concept of inflation.

On the plus side we labeled the continents, traced the spice trade on the world map, and grasp why Native Americans were mistakenly called Indians. Willard and Vision are in the junior high Life Science class with Mrs. Frizzle. I wasn't too worried about Vision, she's just a year behind the normally 7th grade curriculum. Willard, however, is in 4th grade and I was plenty worried. Balancing the worry was the horrible thought that he'd miss Mrs. Frizzle's last go-round through science since her youngest is in this class. If he can't keep up with this class, I'll have to teach it later. I'm really not sure who would hate that most, he or me? The Friz says he'll be fine after day one and here's my Willard quote for the day:

After a classmate, while reading a blurb describing an ostrich egg, accidentally gave it's length as 50 kilometers instead of 50 centimeters:

Willard: Whoa. That's huge. It's, like, Ostrazilla.

Willard also scored 3 touchdowns in the scrimmage tonight. He would've let the other kids score, but when they didn't, he just did it himself.

Sunday, August 31, 2003

The PeePee Dress

I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this was going to come up. Yes, I tried to dodge it in my dress-up commentary, but my sister immediately jumped on it with both feet. Sadly, I must introduce the peepee dress. I have a dark, smelly past. I'd hoped to avoid the stinky details, but was called to task and now must give a full accounting of myself. Brace yourselves, dear readers, it's an olfactory nightmare.

We had a box in MaMa's closet where we kept all our dress-up outfits and matching shoes. It included all manner of discarded dresses and slips. In a moment of excitement one day when I was very, very young, probably at Snicker time, I had a little "accident" in the button-front, brown plaid dress with accessorized, matching belt. Now those of you without sin cast the first stone, but in a moment of panic I stuffed it to the bottom of the box and remembered to forget the damp details.

My sister, having no idea this particular dress was questionable, wore it on several occasions after the bladder emergency incident. I never said a word. Hey, she was three years younger than I, irritating to the oldest sister in only the way a younger sister can be, and frankly, it got pretty funny. Feel free to throw rocks at will.

In my defense I must state that my sister only wore the peepee dress occasionally, preferring the white slip and turquoise heels, because MaMa had a killer turquoise necklace. Also, the red things were mine! My sister is the best dresser of the two of us to this day. In the win, show, or place category, I've been an also ran for my entire life. Sorry, that makes it even more hysterical!

She might look exceptional now, and she certainly does, but there was a time..........

Truly Blessed

After writing this story about MaMa, I realized that I could write a similar tribute to every single one of my grandparents. Though they were all very different, they were all wonderful and unique in their own ways. I thought about doing this one because I was already working on two separate pieces about my parents.

I was thinking about the book, "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood". The movie, to a large extent, made light of the subject matter in the book. If you've read the book, Vivi's childhood was traumatic and finally abusive. She marries, has kids, has problems, and finally has a nervous breakdown. The fascinating thing wasn't that she had a nervous breakdown, because she was certainly entitled to one. What's awe inspiring to me is that MaMa's childhood was just as bad, or worse, yet she didn't have a nervous breakdown.

I'd intended for Mom to print out my tribute and take it to MaMa on her birthday, so I didn't want it to be depressing for her to read. Since MaMa always reads the newspaper, Mom had a great idea and thought it would be fun to get the story published with MaMa's picture and surprise her when she opens the paper on Tuesday morning. Mom's now contacted all the family so they can place a small ad telling MaMa happy birthday. On Tuesday morning she will have a birthday greeting from her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren on every page of the paper. Is my family the absolute best, or what?

The fact is, I completely glossed over the stories that she actually did tell us. When her mother was having a spell, she was sometimes dangerous. She couldn't be left alone, probably for the sake of the children. She almost killed my aunt during one of her spells, because she held a rag of alcohol over my aunt's mouth during an asthma attack thinking it would help.

But MaMa's father had to work or they couldn't eat. So when she had a spell, out of necessity, he'd tie her to the bed or the plow so she wouldn't hurt herself or the kids. On top of the crushing responsibility of taking care of her siblings and running a house at such an incredibly young age, MaMa had to deal with that. If that doesn't give one pause, think about this. This is one of the childhood anecdotes that wasn't "too bad to tell".

In my opinion, her mother-in-law was down right evil. She was the bitter old woman MaMa never became. When MaMa was pregnant with her first child, she made blankets, clothes, and such for the new baby. A month or so before the baby was born, PaPa's sister had a baby and the mother-in-law took MaMa's baby things and gave them to her own daughter. She bought presents for the children that looked like PaPa, but none for those who resembled MaMa.

After moving to Texas, MaMa then went on to an exciting life raising children smack dab in the middle of the Great Depression. PaPa, desperately trying to feed everyone, worked as a day laborer. One day he went to town to find work and never came home. For weeks MaMa believed that he'd run away from his family and there she sat, in the grain silo, with now 2 or 3 small children. As it turned out, he'd been offered a job, but he had to leave that minute to take it, so he wasn't able to go back home and tell her. After he'd worked several weeks, he returned home with cash in his pocket, but concerned, needless to say.

I could literally sit here all night long and recount horrific events from MaMa's life. The point is she is amazing and rather than have a breakdown, she just lived, and continues to live, an exemplary life.

I also know why she made it. Back to the "Ya-Ya Sisterhood", they had awesome friends, but they didn't have God. God makes all the difference. I know that because way too many things in the book hit close to home for me. I cried throughout that book, not because I could relate to the bad home life memories, but because I could relate to the other traumas that Vivi went through. Without God, there is no way I would have made it.

Mom thought I should play down the stuff about MaMa's mother's spells and the detail, because it would embarrass MaMa. I agreed and took it out, but it reduces who she is and what she became despite all of it.

More Comments

Due to the avalanche of email (2) from Motherofeverythingbutthekitchensink and Gran, I've found another comment feature. Since I've slaved over this comment dilemma for at least 15 minutes, I expect a comment on every single post.

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