Friday, August 31, 2007


Thank you all for your support (and prayers!) during this past week's meltdown.

As I said - time. Time is what I need to get over stuff like this. I tend to be a very strong reactor - I'm the person who tends to break down wailing at the news of the death of someone I care about, I'm the person who tends to have their anger flare suddenly and violently when I see some injustice, I'm the person who can be totally set back by some kind of personal reversal and walk around for days thinking, "things will never be right again! I will never be happy again!"

But in the end, I am. I'm pretty resilient. (Sometimes I think that perhaps my tendency to react strongly to things at first is part of my resilience - it's kind of like getting a fever with a virus - you feel like hell when the fever's going on, but once it breaks, you're on the way to getting better). I've survived worse than this, and I'm sure I'll have worse to survive in the future.

I know I'm feeling better because I was singing as I got ready for work this morning. (I'm trying to remember what it was - probably something stupid. No, not "Something Stupid" - I think it was some old Mamas and Papas song or something.)

Anyway, whatever. Some other big thing will happen in town and that will be the source of gossip, rather than the youth group. It's not like people are always going to be looking at me and thinking "poor dear..."

(Actually, it's the potential for gossip that unsettles me most. There are a couple people who - I don't know if it's inadvertent or not - but everything is magnified by about 20 times when you hear it from them. So someone who's in the hospital for, say, a routine gall bladder surgery is ON DEATH'S DOOR and HAS HAD TO HAVE ALL THEIR INTESTINES PULLED OUT. That kind of thing. I've kind of learned to discount it... but it's different when you think people are saying that kind of stuff about you.)

But anyway. Whatever. It's Friday. I have a butternut squash in the fridge that I'm going to pull out and chop up and bake for dinner, and I think I'm going to make some biscuits to eat with it. It's cooler here and I actually SLEPT last night without waking up every two hours, sweating and with a pounding heart because of my asthma. (I had said to myself - if I didn't stop doing that in a few days, I was going to the doctor over it. Even if they put me on Prednisone again. Because it really sucks to feel like you can't breathe.)

I've planned my route for tomorrow. I don't feel too much like exploring totally new places (which sometimes disappoint) but there is an area about 1/2 hour from me that has copious antique shops (which I've not had time to browse in a long, long time). And there's a Hobby Lobby and a Jo-Ann Fabrics, which, if nothing else, are good for picking up the newest issues of craft magazines. The other bonus is there's a good grocery store in the general vicinity, so I can stock up on some things and get the supplies for Tuesday Lunch (which we've decided to revive in my department - once or twice a month we do a potluck lunch. This is partly so we can avoid frequent faculty meetings [it's easier to discuss minor issues quickly over a lunch than to have to discuss them at 4 pm on a Friday. There's a set number of meetings we're "supposed" to have but more often than not we can fulfill that obligation by having lunch and calling it a meeting] but also partly because there just aren't that many restaurants around, and often we don't get a chance to just sit down and socialize. It's a pretty collegial department [political differences notwithstanding] so it's nice to be able to just sit and shoot the bull with people. It certainly beats hunching over my little carton of yogurt at my desk like I usually do).

I just have to finish a bit of grading and I'm out of here. I've even decided to not worry about the "1 hour of research work per day" rule I have set for myself for today - I plan to come in on Monday (day off) and I can get more than 1 hour done then. And I can get Saturday's hour done then (wait, that's three hours...oh well. I can come in early and get it done.)

Mr. Yuck

Nightfly - the guy on the badge is the infamous "Mr. Yuck," which was proposed (in the 80s, I think) as a replacement for the old skull-and-crossbones on poisonous substances. The argument was that children didn't understand the skull and crossbones as being a symbol for "this could kill you," so they wanted to replace it with something kids were more likely to respond to.

I think it was mainly an effort east of the Mississippi - or maybe just in the Great Lakes states - I seem to remember it as originating in Pittsburgh?

It never really caught on.

However, now considering that the skull-and-crossbones is a fashion statement (without, apparently, any of the memento mori semiotics), perhaps we need to revive ol' Yuck. I'd hate to think of a child contemplating that drain cleaner was making a fashion statement.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Merit badge

Sometimes, you just need to award yourself a virtual merit badge for stuff.

Or, at least I do. I was a Brownie Scout and a Girl Scout (well, for a while - I quit when they started the strong-arm "You WILL sell x boxes of cookies" tactics). So merit badges have a certain meaning to me.

Oh, and I know - I've survived worse. I will probably face worse in my life. But still - the week is (as far as I'm concerned) over, so I'm giving myself a badge for having made it through with a minimum of tears (and those fairly private tears) and NO cussing anyone out. And no running screaming from the room.


That's what this is going to take, time.

Time for me to get past what happened
Time for the memories of what was said and done to fade.

Another thing I've decided is that maybe I've been looking at this a little bit the wrong way. Instead of expecting the other "grown ups" to act, well, grown up (or at least more grown up than me), I have to remember that people are all a little messed up in different ways (sometimes in ways you cannot see) and that sometimes something happens that pushes those messed up buttons. And probably that people are doing the best they can, but we all have blind spots, and when all of those blind spots collide, it's a big pile of - who is it that uses this term, Nightfly? - pferdkaese.

And I also am going to keep Hanlon's Razor in mind: never attribute to malice what stupidity can explain. (Or: I'm going to be nice here and say "poor communication" rather than "stupidity.")

So I'm going to remember the good advice of a sweet, old (and now gone on to her Reward) African-American member of my parents' church: Keep on keepin' on.

She used to say that to me when I was having difficulties, or (particularly) when I ran up against some obstacle in finishing my graduate work: Keep on keepin' on.

So, L. this is in part in your memory. I know you dealt with some bad crap (being, you know, black and all) during your life but you were never bitter or demanding or angry about what had happened in the past.

I'm gonna keep on keepin' on and I'm going to look towards the future and be hopeful. And I'm going to do my damnedest not to let this make me bitter, or make people want to "pay" in some stupid, passive-aggressive way (like suddenly being "busy" on a day when I had already volunteered to help with something)

I also think - this being Labor Day weekend and all, and I have 4 days "off" (as I don't teach Tuesdays and I get Monday off from class) that I need to get out and do something on Saturday. Either go to a town I've never been to before (that has something interesting going for it) or go somewhere I haven't been in a while. Go out and do some antiquing, and shop in some nice boutiques, and get lunch out somewhere. Because, as much as I love staying at home sometimes and sewing or knitting, I'm afraid that staying home this weekend may allow my mind to travel down some rather gloomy paths that it's been traveling of late.

The only bad thing is that gas has gone up 20 cents a gallon in, like, a week (what is causing this? There aren't any hurricanes in the area. I haven't heard that oil spiked up yet again. Is this because Total closed down a refinery? It's not just the Total places where gas is up). Then again - I'm telling myself that that extra cost of gas will still be cheaper than a therapist's bill if I really can't make myself snap out of this.

Of course, I also have the first volume of the "Animaniacs" set on dvd that I bought a while back with one of my Target "HSICBISSMSAYS*" discounts and haven't taken time to watch yet. That might help, too.

(*Holy (bleep) I can't believe I bought so much stuff at your store." With the Target Visa - which I use PURELY AS A CONVENIENCE and pay off in full every month, so I don't need a lecture about the rapacious interest of department-store credit cards - every time you rack up $1000, you get a card good for a 10% discount on anything you buy in one day. I think I've done this twice in the three or four years I've had the card.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Well kind of stunk. It started out okay, then the minister showed up to read the kids the riot act (after I had done it twice, my co-leader had done it, after several of the kids apologized).

I cried again after he left. I fought it as hard as I could but I couldn't help it.

I've done what I can to move us past this. Every time people bring it up again it's like a knife in my heart.

I've decided - if people keep bringing it up, if a month passes and people are still after me about it, I will conclude that that's a coded message for Youth Group - Do Not Want.

And I will bow out as gracefully as possible (maybe I'll try to drag things out until Christmas break, at least). I'll tell the kids that I'm extremely sorry but with lack of emotional or spiritual support from the other adults, I cannot keep going.

And then - if the church ever wants to start a youth program up again (to get the "right" kinds of kids, and good freakin' luck with that), it will be without me. Because I will be done. I will have taken the way I was treated as a vote of no confidence.

I e-mailed the pastor to let him know that I felt my co-leader and I had done what we could, that the kids were appropriately repentant, and that I just want to move on. I told him that having people keep bringing it up is incredibly painful for me. (I used lots of "I feel" statements, just like the pop-psych types teach us: don't complain, don't accuse, just say "I feel" and list what the problem is).

So we'll see. I have a feeling part of this is because of some little interpersonal conflict bubbling away somewhere that I have absolutely no part in, but have gotten caught in the crossfire of. That'll teach me to want to be everyone's friend. (sigh.)

So whatever. At least it's over for this week. I think I'm going to try to find something mindless and funny on television (well, Mythbusters is nearly over but maybe I can find a cartoon or something, and get in my jammies, and grab one of my teddy bears [yes, it's a terrible dark secret - I still have a few of my childhood stuffed animals around] and sit on the couch and hold the teddy bear and try to make myself feel better.)

not much to say

Thank you all so much for your good thoughts and prayers. It helps to know that there are people who give a bleep about me even though they have never met me.

I'm still kind of sad and kind of stressed. I recognize this because I cannot watch the news without either screaming at the television set or starting to cry. I cannot watch "Law and Order" or any of the other crime dramas I normally enjoy because they just seem proof of how evil and screwed-up people are. I can't even read mystery novels right now, because - well, someone gets killed in them. I get like this sometimes - it's like all the individual difficulties of humanity build up and threaten to crush me. And I look around and go, you know, why shouldn't the human race be wiped out and intelligent life on this earth be started over with, I don't know, the capybaras or something?

Maggie, especially - thanks. I think part of the reason this hurts so much is that these are people who OTHERWISE don't seem to have those blind spots. They do an awful lot of outreach for "not the right sort" of people. But because it's kids - or because they're right there in the church - or because there's an interpersonal conflict between one particular person and my co-leader, it just all blows up in my face.

Sadly, I often find myself thrust in the role of "peacemaker" between two people who really don't WANT "peace," or I find myself tugged between two people, both of whom want my loyalty, only NOT to that other person. (It happened in 5th grade between my two best friends. They hated each other and each didn't want me to be friends with the other. It was truly horrible. Now that I think of it, that was probably the beginning of my disillusionment with the concept of "BFF." I love the idea of BFF in the abstract, but it's just not something I can do, concretely. Because people change too much and are too unpredictable, and "forever" really doesn't mean "forever, especially when you're a 10-year-old girl.)

I don't know. Right now I'm just very down on humanity. (Didn't Linus van Pelt once say, "I love humanity, it's people I can't stand"?) It's the reverse with me. There are very specific individuals that I love to death and would fight to the death for if I had to. But humanity as a whole big puling mass just gets me down - the wants, the needs, the infighting, the self-absorption, all of it. It makes me want to run away from everyone and go live as a hermit somewhere.

I have youth group tonight. I'm prepared. One of the things that was said in the meeting was the realization that I needed more help. So I'm sort of dreading that fifteen people will show up tonight wanting to "help," and it will be more "help" than I can possibly stand. (Actually, I suspect that it will be a "let George do it" situation and no one will show up, thinking everyone else is doing it.)

I don't know. I don't want intermittent help. I want someone, the same person, every single week to come and help. Or two people the same. I've found that having people drift in and out almost makes it worse, and it's a lot of stress on me to wonder who, if anyone, is going to show up in a given week.

I also don't know what to do to get back into people's "good graces," if such a thing is possible. I contemplated going in and writing a check for the time the custodian had to spend cleaning things up, but somehow I don't think that would help. It doesn't undo what was done. I don't think my writing a letter of apology will help one bit. I'm not sure forcing the kids to write letters of apology will help.

It's like something got broken, and I'm afraid it's permanently broken.

I just hate dealing with people. I mean, dealing with them face-to-face. Everything's screwed up, everything's broken, it's like no one is really capable of either understanding others or making themselves understood. Maybe the capybaras really would do a better job of it than us.

Part of the problems I have is that I probably give TOO much of a damn about things - I care far too much about the success of things I'm involved with, I care too much about what people think of me.

Every time I have ever let myself care about something or someone, I've wound up getting hurt. If I could just learn how to not give a damn...maybe then I'd not have these periodic issues with the human race.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


I just had someone TOTALLY FLAKE on me about something very very important (something unrelated to my other tsuris). This was someone I talked to YESTERDAY about this item, and they assured me they were good to go. THIS is why I have a hard time delegating and trusting people! Because so often when I do, they flake on me!

If one more thing happens that involves more work or more anguish for me, I am going to lose my sh*t and run screaming from the room. I. Can. Not. Take. Anything. More.

Why is it that all of the little, irritating, needles-under-the-fingernails crap has to happen all at once, and has to happen when it's eleventy-bazillion degrees outside, 98% humidity, and the air-conditioning in my office building isn't working? It's almost as if everything's ganging up to drive me bananas.


Thank you, Jill, Joel, Nightfly, for your comments. One of the problems I have is that I have so few "IRL" people that I feel like I can bounce ideas off of (I haven't even told my parents about this, and I tell them EVERYTHING...I just can't bring myself to go through the whole sad story with them again) that sometimes I wonder if my perception of a situation is all messed up.

Anyway (deep breath) I have a request.

Would those of you who pray, please pray for the youth program (and for me?) I've come to the conclusion that I am doing the best I can, and the only thing at this point that will help the kids resist the temptation to behave badly (and change the hearts and minds of the adults who are opposed to the program) is a big bunch of Divine assistance. That this isn't gonna get "fixed" unless "The Man Upstairs" fixes it. 'Cause I don't have it in my power to "fix" it, that's for sure.

Oh, I'm praying about it myself, believe me. I even "yelled at" God yesterday during my workout. (When I'm really upset about something, I yell at God. I figure that's preferable to curling up into a little ball and going all snivelly and claiming I'm being "punished" for something.) I told God, "YOU need to take this over. There are all these problems and I can't see any way they can be overcome outside of YOU doing something to change the people involved. YOU need to [heh, yeah, I hate it when people use that locution with me. Sorry.] help the kids resist the temptation to do stupid stuff, the adults need to have their minds changed so they don't see the kids as "just riff-raff." Something needs to happen because I'm at the end of my rope emotionally and there's nothing more I can do to fix things."

(And yes. I realize perhaps this is one of those situations not unlike the one the comic described, where he said, "If you have a bumper sticker that says 'God is my co-pilot,' you need to change seats." I'm bad about things that way - trying to do it all on my own, believing that I can "fix" things and I don't need to "bother" God with my problems.)

So anyway - like Bart Simpson once said when he feared that his soul had been sold to some "weirdo," I need some of that good stuff right now.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

People (and things) who can Bug Off

Yeah, I know, I've got logorrhea tonight but I feel like I need to work off a lot of bad energy.

I didn't really say much on the FFOT this week, but there have been enough things that have ticked me off in the past few days that I'm going to give my "little list" (as in The Mikado) right here.

So, these are my thoughts on people and things that can bug off for the coming week.

1. Lindsay Lohan can bug off.

2. Those stupid financial-services ads aimed at self-indulgent baby boomers with Dennis Hopper or what's his butt on them, where he's talking about "you don't hand your dreams over to THE MAN when you turn 60!" Please. Do you realize that people of ALL OTHER GENERATIONS are groaning, rolling their eyes, changing the channel, and swearing never to use that company? Also: many of us in Generation X are looking at the Baby Boomers as "the reason we will never get to retire." I mean - I guess I should be proud of some people taking financial responsibility for themselves so they don't suck Social Security dry QUITE so fast...but I'm still depending on my IRA, my TIAA-CREF, and my stock investments, and considering the money that's going to Social Security (and yes, even though I pay into a state pension fund as well, Social Security is taken out of my check) as basically falling down a rathole. (I also feel that way about the state pension fund money. I will just be happy if they can still provide some level of health care coverage when I retire.)

3. Nancy Grace can bug off. Please use less eye-makeup, thanks.

4. Every reality show that ever there was (with the possible exception of American Idol, which I don't get personally, but which I know a lot of people like) can bug off. We do not need three karaoke-based reality shows. We don't need two "wife swap" themed shows. We don't need shows where dysfunctional families call in some self-styled arbitrator to "fix" things. We don't need more sad-sacks on television. What we need is people we can look up to. And I don't see a heck of a lot of that on.

5. Billy Mays can bug off. I don't need people screaming at me about oxygenated bleach.

6. The intermittent power outages we've been having can bug off. I'm getting heartily tired of having to go and re-set my air conditioner every time some brownout shuts it off.

7. Ozone alert orange and above can bug off. "I can has breathing?" Or maybe that's "Oxygen: not yours." Seriously - it's even HARDER to cope with the crap I'm having to cope with when my chest hurts and is tight and my heart is racing because there's not enough oxygen making it into my lungs.

8. Crappy weather everywhere in the country can bug off. Either people are being flooded out, baked to death, choked by humidity, or threatened by wildfires.

9. People who pull the "better than you" bit can really seriously bug off. Yeah, yeah, I'm SOOO proud of you that you never buy kids' toys made in China (so what do you do, give them pots and pans to play with?). I'm soooooo proud that you bike or walk everywhere even though it's eleventy bazillion degrees outside. I'm SOOOOOO proud of you that you "eat local." However, there are certain things that it's not possible for me to do, and I'm fed up six and a half feet deep (and I am 5' 8") with the guilt-trip you are trying to lay on me because I don't worry intensely about the same things you do, and constrain myself to the same narrow circuit.

10. People in general (with the exception of my Invisible Internet Friends) can bug off. I'd really love a week off where I could just stay home and not talk to anyone; I feel like I've used up my quota of being able to deal with people for the week in today alone.

Actually, I have to say: I love my Invisible Internet Friends. I can log on whenever I feel like it and read what they have to say. If I don't feel up to interaction, I don't have to log on. I don't have to deal with tones of voice (there are a few people in my life who, although I may love them, have nails-on-the-chalkboard voices). There's also the comfortable distance - most of you don't even know my full name or who I really am.

When I was a kid I dreamed of having friends who would always be there when I wanted them to entertain me, but who wouldn't be there bugging me when I wanted to be alone. While I recognize that's a pretty selfish desire as an adult, my Invisible Internet Friends actually pretty much realize that childhood desire. It's almost like having imaginary friends (which I had a lot of as a kid) who actually happen to be real. (Well, yeah, none of you have wings or are six-foot-tall pink camels, but still.)

Oh, and I forgot 11:

All of the hype, all of the hoopla, all of the conspiracy-theory-filled fauxumentaries memorializing the tenth anniversary of Princess Di's death can totally bug off. I do not understand the cultlike mania that people seem to express over her. Yeah, she was pretty. Yeah, she died tragically. Yeah, it was sad. But, you know - there's a whole world of ALIVE people out there who might benefit from your attention.

(I wonder if that's part of it - it's easier to be all weepy over a "dead Princess" than it is to buckle down and try to deal with your own living relatives or with people in your town, or, for that matter, the person working at the counter of the grocery store. Because you KNOW some of the people who are Diana-venerators are the same people who look at the lady working the checkstand at the Publix as somehow sub-human and not worthy of recognition).

Oh, and speaking of people who died roughly 10 years ago, here's 12:

Those in the media who are crowing over Mother Teresa's "doubts" as if they are PROOF, PROOF! that God is dead and those who believe in a supernatural being are at best deluded fools and at worst some kind of twisted fetishist can completely, totally, and utterly nihilistically bug off. I'm so done with you. This whole thing is just total proof to me that you report what you want to report, and spin it how you want to spin it. It's not something to be gleeful over. I'm not even sure it's news, outside of a religious-perspective show, like one of the ones on EWTN or "Faith and Religion weekly" or whatever PBS' nod to religion is called.

to clarify

Since Jill asked:

What I really want to do is continue with the youth group. Yes, some of the kids have problems. But there are also times when I see insight, and caring, and "good stuff" in general. I think some of the kids see the Wednesday night meetings as a "safe place" - somewhere where they can come and talk and where people will listen to them.

I think it is the right thing to continue the program. I have seen improvement in the behavior of some of the kids, I've seen them learn. I don't think it's right to say, "oh, let's just write THESE kids off and see if we can try again with some "better" kids from wealthier, more-likely-to-be-intact families." (Which is what "better" implies in this case.)

I would like a little more assistance; some weeks (most weeks) it is me and my co-leader. I would also like for the folks who are complaining to...I don't know, I'd like them, I guess, to be able to see the kids as I see them, maybe they wouldn't complain so much then.

I really don't want to end the program. But if more than half of the other adults are in favor of ending it, I will - I can't work while feeling people are against what I'm doing. I can't work surrounded by people who feel that what I'm doing is either a lost cause or is somehow harmful to the church.

If that happens? I'll be sad and hurt and it will probably be a while before I willingly volunteer for something again. But I'll abide by it.

serious and sad

I have to be serious today. Part of this is to vent but part of it is just asking advice, or maybe support, or I don't know what.

Some of you know that I'm a co-leader of the Youth Group at my church. This is kind of a challenge because I don't have kids, have never worked with kids, and a lot of the time feel like I'm making it up as I go along.

I thought I was doing pretty well - lots of people were telling me that I was doing a good job, that the kids were learning a lot. We even had a Youth Sunday last fall where the kids did all the serving and that was well-received.

Well, somehow, things have changed. I don't know if this is some kind of resentment or frustration or something a few people had that has been coming to the fore (because this is the first I've heard of problems), or if there's an agitator somewhere, or what.

I am also an Elder in the church, and there was a "special" meeting called for this afternoon after church. I wondered about it at first, then figured it had to do with the plans to start some kind of adult version of a pastor's class, as we've had a lot of adults join the church in the recent months.

I was wrong. And I really wish someone had given me a heads-up.

The meeting was, "What shall we do about the youth group?"

A couple weeks ago, there were some minor acts of vandalism (they were repairable - unnecessary but repairable) and were committed mainly by someone who has been disinvited back.

But the feeling I got was two-fold:

First: should we just give up on this and start again in a few years

and second, and strongest: "We don't have kids of sufficient quality in the youth group."

And I don't know how to respond to that. Yes, we have a lot of kids from broken homes. We have kids from tough family situations. We have one kid who's on fairly heavy-duty meds. And I thought we were doing reasonably well with them.

But I guess they're not the "kind" of people that some members think will make "good" future members, or something. That's the sense I got.

And you know? I'm not looking towards, "will these kids grow up and join our congregation?" In fact, I'm expecting at least some of them won't - they'll move away for jobs or college or because they go into the military. What I'm trying to do is introduce them to God and God's teachings now, so whereever they end up in the future, they'll have that as a base.

But I guess a lot of people have been complaining to the minister. And, in the name of shielding me, he never passed on those complaints until they got severe.

And so now I'm faced with an unattractive prospect - either dump the program (and doubtless have some people believe I quit in a fit of pique or some other bad reason) or keep going, knowing that there are at least some people who think it would be wiser to pull the plug.

I cried a lot during the meeting. I could not help it. Part of it is that I feel like I am doing my absolute damnedest to make this work, and I've frankly done pretty well (some of the complaints have been about things like, "Their athletic shoes leave black scuff marks on the tile that have to be rubbed out. Can't you ask them to wear other shoes?" Considering that some of these kids might have but one pair of shoes, no. And even if they aren't in that situation, I'm not going to micromanage to that degree. I will admit there have been weeks after hearing that complaint where I ran around with a dry sponge after youth group and tried to clean up all the scuffs).

But now I feel like I've reached the point where there's enough non-support that I don't know what to do. I pointed out that it was me and one other woman running the group - every other helper we've had has either flaked out on us, or has had a change at work where they can no longer come and work. And oftentimes the largest complainers are the ones who never set foot in the church outside of Sunday morning.

And part of it is, frankly, stuff that's my own "stuff." I'm a perfectionist. When I hear less than a perfect report, I assume it's some kind of a failure on my part - if the kids respected me more, this wouldn't have happened. If my lessons were more interesting, things would be different. If I had more of a charismatic personality, maybe I'd attract some of the "right" kids. I don't know.

And on the other hand, I'm frustrated with the perception of "we want the 'right' kind of kids." Isn't the church more a hospital of sinners than a museum of saints? That's my objection right there. It's NOT the "good" kids that need us so much as the kids in tough circumstances, who maybe have been given up on at home or at school - and dammit, I'm NOT willing to give up on these kids. I'm not willing to write them off as "bad." Sure, they have problems - but I've also seen flashes of insight and real love and kindness come from them.

And that's really what I object to about the idea of pulling the plug. Because it's all tied up, in part, with the sense that I've failed...that I've failed to control things well enough, that I've failed the kids. But I also think if we end the program, it sends the message: here's another group of people who's giving up on you, who says you're not worthy.

Oh, I've read the kids the riot act. My co-leader and I really laid it down last week. (In fact, one of the kids I suspected of the vandalism - the other suspect was not there and he may not be returning - came and apologized to us afterwards). We told the kids that we need to be twice as good as people expect us to be, because many people seem to think we're only half as good as we actually are.

So after trying to deal with it - and feeling that I HAD "dealt with it" last week, it hurt to have it brought up again. Especially hurt in the middle of a group of people where I'm by far the junior, where I sometimes feel like I have to be extra-good to gain the same level of respect.

I was actually begging them for a "probationary period." Like I had done something wrong. Actually, I do feel like I've done something wrong, I just don't know what.

So I don't know. I just don't know what to do. On the one hand, people are telling me how much they appreciate my work. But...and there's always that little "but" - the kids aren't the "right kind" of kids.

I'm not quite brave enough to argue (even though I think I'd be right) that Jesus hung out with people who were not the "right kind" of people.

But I'm very sad and very conflicted right now. I work my tail off, I have almost no support, I keep being paid this lip-service about how everything's so wonderful, and then I hear that all these people have been coming to the pastor with complaints (which in itself bugs me - it feels like they're going over my head, like they're maybe trying to get me in trouble or persuade the pastor to suspend the youth program without my input).

So I don't know. If I were a different sort of person, I would have resigned right then and there...told them that if that was how they felt, they could find someone else. But like so many things that would feel satisfying at first, I would feel terrible later - because it would be the kids I screwed over, not the people making the complaints.

So I don't know what to do. This is 100% volunteer work, done after my longest day of teaching. I used to love it - I felt it was one way I could give back, one way I could minister to people. But I don't like the feeling that others think I'm ministering to the "wrong sort" of people and that something needs to be done to change the group's composition.

It's going to take a few weeks at least before I can start to feel joy in doing this again, I think. (And I don't even want to think about how to present it to my co-leader: it was proposed that she was part of the problem because it was thought she recruited some of the "bad" kids.

One of the problems, of course, is a lot of the "good" or "desirable" kids already are going to church somewhere. Thanks to the church split of a couple years ago, we lost most of the youth group and have been having to rebuild from scratch.)

But I really don't know. I'm hurt, I'm sad, I'm kind of angry (both at the kids who have brought all this onto the youth group by their foolish actions and also at the adults who can't be bothered to come and help me, but who can condemn the kids and complain to the minister about the program while still telling me I'm doing a good job.)

(Actually, I think that's what bothers me the worst - people telling ME I'm doing a good job and then coming and voicing their complaints to the minister. It feels like talking-behind-my-back. It reminds me too much of the girls in high school who were all simpery and nice to my face, and then said horrible things about me behind my back. I realize it's not the same thing, really, but it feels like it).

I suggested maybe a "real" youth minister - someone with training and someone who would be paid - be hired, but they said that there wasn't money, and besides, none of them had ever had a good experience with having a "professional" youth minister.

(And I will never take pay for the position, even were it offered. Because that sets up even a greater level of expectation. And obviously the group isn't living up to the level of expectation some people have for an all-volunteer organization)

So, I don't know. I suppose I keep the "nuclear option" open - tell the kids up front, "This is what people are thinking" and tell them that if they don't shape up and police themselves, we won't have a youth group any more. Or I suggest another form of "nuclear option" - if I don't get more good, consistent, shows-up-when-they-say-they-will help, I will resign and there will be no more youth group.

I don't know. I'm running on and on here. But I'm really in a lot of pain right now and I don't know what to do.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


In the town where I live, people frequently write things on car windows (I don't know if they use white shoe-polish or if there's a product specifically for that purpose). Usually it's someone ELSE writing embarrassing things on a friend's car, like "This driver is SEXXXY!!" or "Linda N Dan 4-Evah!"

But I saw one today that I am guessing the owner of the car wrote, and it made me laugh out loud. Written on the back window of a car not unlike Garth Elgar's Mirth-mobile was the phrase:


Hahahahahahahaha! I love it. And it immediately made me start thinking of potential campaign slogans. I came up with two:

Ozzy: because, sadly, we COULD do worse

Ozzy: why NOT a foul-mouthed, drug-addled rocker, for a change?

But you all are such a creative lot I'm sure you can do better. Please, please, if you come up with a slogan, drop it in the comments. If I get a bunch I'll do a later post listing them all.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Saw this at CalTechGirl's:

You Are 27% Bitchy

You're a pretty sweet person, and you're definitely not prone to bitchy outbursts.
Sometimes, though, you can't help thinking mean thoughts about people. But at least you don't act on them!

Hrm. My mother sometimes said, regretfully, that she "raised [my brother and me] to be "too nice."" We were kind of the kids who got rolled over by the meaner kids at school. I've toughened up SOME (hence, the 27% rating), but I'm probably still nicer than is maybe good for my own self-preservation sometimes.

I'm challenging the guys to take this quiz, just to see if a guy taking a "bitchiness quiz" will cause the universe to collapse in upon itself.

SO wrong...

I don't know if you get commercials for the Jack-in-the-Box fast food chain where you live. But I do, and one they're currently running is deeply disturbing to me.

The commercials features the exploits of "Jack," who is supposedly the CEO or something of the chain. Jack is...well, let's just say he's "differently appearanced" (a picture is here). He has this freakish giant ping-pong-ball head, with painted-on features. (How he actually sees, hears, and speaks is a bit of a mystery - I suppose it is like Hello Kitty being able to eat even though she has no mouth).

Jack has a wife - a hot, blonde, normal-human wife.

Some of the ads feature their child - who looks like a mini version of Jack. (I don't even want to think about his birth. Or maybe the hot, blonde wife is Jack's second, "trophy" wife, acquired after he made CEO, and the mother of his child is a ping-pong-ball head like he is).

But that's neither here nor there. The disturbing ad doesn't feature the child.

No, Jack and his wife are in a hot tub. There's a very-70s couple in there with them (guy with a huge 'stash and chest hair, woman with blue eyeshadow. The woman isn't that attractive - well, actually, neither of the "70s couple" is a prize). The woman asks Jack and his wife if they're "into trying new things." (Dear God, NO.)

Jack and his wife express some mild interest, and Jack plugs some sandwich or other (apparently, that's how he interprets "trying new things.") The wife of the other couple leers lustfully and says, "Then...let's make a Jack sandwich."

Aaaauuugh! Get the brain-bleach! That's not an image I want! Do not want!

Oh, yes, I know the chain would argue that what she's asking for is for Jack to get out of the tub and go slap together some greasy pastrami delight (or whatever they call the new sandwich), but you'd have to be awfully innocent not to have your mind go to "the other place" with that statement - especially since the couple with Jack and his wife couldn't be any more 70s without them both wearing coke spoons on little chains around their necks.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


This is going to be sad and maybe a little whiny. You've been warned. Skip if you want to.

I'm going through the last bits of some data related to my dissertation project - mostly, looking up some information about the different research sites. This is in hopes of getting the second paper out of my dissertation and maybe someday getting it published. (I defended the thing in 1999. The first paper came out last year. Academic publishing is Hell.)

But it makes me horribly homesick, which seems strange to me. I mean, I've lived HERE for eight years now, almost as long as I lived in the place I'm homesick for.

I suppose part of it was, like youth being wasted on the young, I didn't realize how carefree my grad-school days were until now. Now, when I'm responsible for teaching 13 credit-hours, and getting research done, and guiding students through their research, and running the Youth Group (and we had some minor vandalism last week, caused by a child who WILL NOT BE COMING BACK until he can prove he's mature enough to handle it, but I still got in trouble for his actions), and serving on committees, and and and. It's like there's always someone "needing" me for something.

And it wasn't that way in grad school. Oh, I taught - I was a TA. But I had a wonderful (I realized it then but appreciate it even more now) professor I worked for - any crap from the students, his blanket policy was, "If they don't want to listen to you, send them to me and I will back you up." (I think I've shared here the story of how a student basically TOLD me I was going to accept a paper of his 3 weeks late, I sent him over to the prof's office to see what the prof said, and I had the delight of hearing the prof's "HELL NO!" echo down the hall).

I mean, not like it's any great insight or anything but: being a responsible person is hard. And it's tiring. And it's also often thankless. But, God help me, I cannot do otherwise.

And part of it is just the weather. I remember the first year I was here, about this time, I looked at the calendar and calculated how long it was likely to be before it cooled down, and then I just closed my office door, put my head down on my desk, and had a little cry. It's so HOT here. And so HUMID. And it doesn't seem to change. It's kind of like the movie Groundhog Day, but without being about to drink 37 milkshakes without suffering any ill effects, and without the eventual redemption scene.

And it's ragweed season. One thing I've discovered about allergies - Claritin and the desensitization shots help with most of the physical symptoms, but they don't touch the exhaustion and dysphoria I feel when the pollen's thick. It's just something that has to be lived through, but it makes me miserable every August. (I've also been waking up at 3 am and not being able to back to sleep. Even if I go to bed at 9 pm and fall asleep right away - unlikely for me - that's only 6 hours of sleep, which is not enough.)

So I'm sure part of this is kind of out of my control. But knowing WHY I'm sad doesn't help much to undo it.

But anyway: I was relatively carefree. I didn't have as many ugly confrontations with the entitled side of human nature. I was also living with my parents, so instead of having to keep a whole house and yard, I only had a comparatively few things I had to do, pitching-in-wise. It's a lot easier to clean house when you have one or two other people working alongside you. So there were a lot of good things I probably didn't fully appreciate at the time that are now gone forever.

But, the other thing is just the whole idea of the locations - most of these sites I had visited myself or at least knew where they were. The names are familiar to me. I can picture being out there, in the field, on a nice summer day (to think, in those days I complained about 80 degrees being "hot." It didn't even get down below 80 for the low last night here). I knew what I was doing, I was pretty good at it, I could just go and work and get stuff done. And it was satisfying. I had one goal, one directive: complete the research and finish the dissertation.

I miss having single big goals.

I also miss the people I worked with. I called in just about every favor I was owed that summer to get field hands - I promised to teach people the different plants, if they just would come and help carry equipment for me. I took people out to lunch (which I loved doing ANYWAY) in return for help. All of my officemates helped me on various occasions. My advisor's wife went out and helped me. The guy I was dating went out and helped me.

(And right now, that's what's hardest - I'm working through the sites he and I visited together. And I remember that time - how I honestly and seriously and naively thought that I was going to marry him. It was the one time in my life when I can truly say I was in love. He made me feel like I was beautiful and it was endlessly interesting to talk to him - we could talk for four hours about "nothing."

Needless to say, since I am still single now, it did not work out between us. But I think of the hope I had that summer, how the future seemed golden, how I'd get my Ph.D. and marry this guy and we'd find jobs together at some little college and we'd buy a house together and and and....)

Being a grown-up is very different from how I envisioned it when I was a child. And being out in the work-force, being a "full grown-up" is very different from how I envisioned it would be that summer.

Oh, don't get me wrong - I'm not dissatisfied. Most of the time I'm pretty happy. I'm grateful to have the job I do, I'm grateful to live somewhere where I can afford a house as a single woman. But reading the old names of the towns and the preserves where I worked brings up the old pictures from that summer in my head and it kind of makes me wish I had enjoyed it more while it was happening. And it kind of makes me wish I could go back to those places - and this time take the time to stop at that little cafe for a piece of pie, or bring a change of clothes so that when fieldwork was done, I wouldn't think I was too grubby to go into that bookstore. And most of all, to be able to bask in what would turn out to be my last summer before the yoke of responsibility dropped onto my neck.

"My good people, enjoy being 20 years old; you have it but once in your life." - Edith Piaf

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

two quick thoughts:

1. I was thinking this morning: you know how people (sort of jokingly) complain about how "we were all told the future would have flying cars" and we don't? And how they really want their flying car?

Well, I, for one, am grateful we don't have them. Can you imagine someone trying to fly a flying car while talking on a cell phone?

2. First instance of a sense of entitlement spotted this semester:

Recently, they changed the parking regs on my campus. Two of the lots (which were originally designated "faculty only," but that rule was never ever enforced), have gone "faculty-staff PERMIT only," meaning you need to buy an extra parking permit to be able to park there (faculty and staff who don't want to buy the permit can park elsewhere on campus for free).

(And the permit's pretty cheap, especially considering that they only sold as many as there were parking places - what it means, then, is you essentially have a guaranteed parking spot)

Well, I was explaining this to my students - because we've been promised that it will be enforced, now, to the tune of a $100 fine. I told them not to park in the permit lots, that those were for faculty and staff who had bought the permits.

And one young lady in the class puts her hand up and says, "Can WE buy a permit?"

And I politely explained that, no, permits were not being offered to students because there are a lot of "open" lots on campus close to most of the classroom buildings; many of the faculty and staff (particularly staff) come in before it's light and don't leave until after it's dark, etc., etc. (It is only two of the smaller lots that are permit-only)

She seemed to think that was unfair, that she should be allowed to buy a permit to park any-dang-where she pleases.

I don't know - maybe I'm totally out of line on this. But every other campus I've been on has had designated faculty lots and designated student lots. And in several places, the student lots are far less convenient than ours are.

And the reason we're doing this is because (apparently) just about everyone who lives in a dormitory has a car, and they HAVE to park that car right on campus, and so there's a shortage of spots. (One campus I was on in the past, they had a "distant lot" where dormitory students were REQUIRED to park. There was a twice-daily shuttle bus to take people out to the lot (or it was possible to walk to it - it was less than a mile from campus).

(Some of the dorm dwellers even DRIVE from the dorms to the classroom buildings - a distance of not more than three football fields. And I'm NOT talking about the disabled students - I'm talking about people who drive to class, and then drive to the gym after class so they can work out so they won't get "fat.")

I don't know. I feel like it's not too much to ask that I be allowed to park close to the building where I have my office, considering that I'm here for 10 to 12 hours a day, and I often carry heavy loads of books. And I don't think it's too much to ask that I have a reasonable expectation of finding a place if I have to come back after leaving campus (like, for a dentist appointment).

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Guess they didn't read it out loud first...

The radio station I listen to (online; there are approximately zero radio stations that I can pick up that play the kind of music I prefer) at work is running these ads for this fiber supplement stuff.

Apparently, the Pencil Shavings Manufacturers of America have found a way to market their product: persuade health-obsessed mommies to sneak it into their family's meals. (I have big issues with food-being-sneaked-in-to dishes - as someone with very specific food intolerances, eating a dish that, say, they've sneaked (snuck?) bananas into will leave me miserable [think lactose intolerance's results] for hours. And for someone with an actual food allergy, the outcome could be even worse.)

The idea behind the ad is that fiber transforms things, but in a way that's barely noticeable (until, I suppose, it's time to visit the loo). So they're describing all of the foods it can be put into, and re-naming those foods by substituting an "f" for one of the first letters.

Except, I guess, no one bothered to read the ad copy out loud before recording it.

One of the foods that can potentially be altered with the addition of fiber is spaghetti and meatballs.

Which, they now call "spaghetti and f-eatballs." Except it SOUNDS like "Spaghetti and FEETballs." Which isn't appetizing at all, even if you try to imagine pork hocks as the "feet" that's going into them. Most people, I suspect, don't like the thought of eating feet.

The chirpy announcer also suggests finishing the meal with a "frozen fogurt!"

Um, no thanks.

Maybe time for Caller ID?

I hate it when people call and beg for money.

I am a graduate of three different institutions that could do this - my prep school, my undergrad school, my graduate school.

My prep school has never called me. They have sometimes sent requests in the mail, which a person can ignore or choose to respond to as they will. I think that's a classier way to go. And I do send them some money, earmarked for different things, because I received a good education there and I'd like to think I'm helping other people to receive a good education there, now.

I also send money to the Biology department of my graduate school. I have happy memories of the program, and I also received good instruction and guidance. They HAVE called me, but it's always very low key, none of the smarmy back-room salesman high-pressure tactics.

I have NEVER sent money to my undergrad institution. First of all, I don't think they do a good job shepherding the money they have - they tend to spend it on "discretionary funds" for administrators with weird political motivations. Or they use it to chase that ever-elusive unicorn called "diversity." Often that was done by offering scholarships to people who fit whatever was the fashionable group du jour.

I was also put off by how little guidance and help your average undergrad received - basically, course-counseling consisted of handing me a sheet of paper listing what I needed to take, and wishing me "good luck!"

(Where I teach now, we are expected to sit down with students for at least 15 minutes and discuss with them - what are their strengths, what are their weaknesses. We need to look at their transcripts to see if they really are as good in math as they claim to be. We talk to them about whether early morning classes are okay, and what their work schedule is like, and what they want to do when they get out of school. That doesn't mean that someone NEVER gets a bad schedule or winds up in a class that they're not ready for, but I think it happens less than at my big undergraduate institution).

So, I've never given money to the school.

(I'm also put off by their tactics - they call up and ask for the moon, and then gradually let you "argue them down" it gets to a point where they're like, "$50? Can't you give $50, you cheapskate?" And I hate that.

Also, once, when I was in grad school, they called me up asking for $1000 for the "dean's discretionary fund." I laughed out loud in the guy's ear. And then I said: "Man, I am in GRADUATE SCHOOL. I am a TEACHING ASSISTANT. $1000 is an ENTIRE MONTH'S salary for me." I didn't go into my objection to basically giving this dean a slush fund to spend on whatever pet project she desired.)

So anyway: I've never given them money. But they keep trying.

Last night, the phone rang about 8:30. I was just gearing up to do my nightly yoga workout (but hadn't started yet).

On the other end, there was that brief silence. I should have recognized that and hung up right away.

Then, some chipper, probably-19-year-old voice comes on, asks me to "verify" all of my information for the alumni association.

And she keeps chatting me up. I hate being chatted up by someone that I know is going to ask me for money. She asks me what I do, then says, "Oh, I'm thinking of becoming a professor! Do you have any advice for me?" I didn't give any, partly because I was starting to become irritated but partly because I felt that she was probably reading off of some script.

Then, she drops the bomb: would you like to give $250?

No, I say. I can't do that.

She goes through some jazz about their "federal and state" funding having been cut 50% (first off - can that be true? We haven't experienced any federal cuts. And second off - cry me a river. We've got more "deferred maintenance" on my campus than you can shake a crescent wrench at. And we currently don't have a regular custodian in my building - dust bunnies roll down the halls like tumbleweeds)

I'm sorry, I explain. I've already earmarked all the money I can give this year. (Not strictly true - if there's a major natural disaster or bad event somewhere, I'd be able to scrape together something to give to Mercy Corps or the Salvation Army, but I've already designated all the money I PLAN to give).

She continues about how important "private support" is.

I explain to her that (as per the questions she asked before), I wasn't entirely satisfied with my time at her school, and I don't feel like giving them money.

SHE WOULD NOT TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER. It was incredibly frustrating. Obviously, they're paid by the hour and not on commission, or else she'd have hung up as soon as she realized she wasn't going to get anything out of me.

So finally, I hung up the phone on her.

And immediately after, felt incredibly bad - I know about that job. I saw people do it when I went to school there. The campus newspaper used to advertise for it. It's basically minimum wage, you sit in a basement and cold-call alumni to ask them for money. It's telemarketing, but telemarketing putting a brave face on itself because it's "fundraising."

And I felt bad the rest of the evening - did I hang up too hard? Did I hurt her ear? Was she kvetching about me to the girl next to her, and rolling her eyes about me (not that I should care). Was her supervisor going to call me to ask me why I hung up on her?

I wound up unplugging the phone, just in case.

I was so rattled that I wound up having to go through the "centering" practice three times before starting the yoga workout, and I was never totally at ease in it.

But, dammit! I pay a lot of money for my landline. (I can't go to JUST cell phone, cell phone reception is iffy enough where I live that I can't do that). I'm on the federal no-call list so telemarketers can't call me, but charities can. I almost NEVER give to ANY group that calls me on the phone, but they still do. And I hate the pressure tactics that some of them use - like the nameless university I'm talking about here. No, I am NOT ever going to give $100 or more to some fund that calls me on the phone asking. No, I don't want to go through some kind of crazy Dutch auction to have someone try to argue me down to a level where they think I'll fork out money. I especially don't want to have to explain THREE SEPARATE WAYS that I am not giving any money.

I should write a letter to the alumni association and complain. (Except, I'm technically not a member, because I don't pay the dues). But - is it too much to ask not to have one's evening interrupted by some little chit of a thing begging me to send money so it can be spent on, I don't know, researching the extramarital habits of kids living in co-ed dorms?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Book Tag

Saw this at Sheila's:

What are you reading right now?

Mostly "Gulliver's Travels" (also am reading a mystery for when I need something that doesn't require concentration and decoding of the 1700s spellings).

Most of the "novels" I read are Victorian-era, so it's kind of refreshing, after all the talk of "limbs" and very delicate euphemistic references to someone's "confinement" and such, to read about a guy who puts out a fire by peeing on it. Or who remarks about the Lilliputian soldiers looking up through the rents in his breeches and finding something for....what was the statement? Amazement and jocularity? (I do think I need the Cliff's Notes or some other "guide to the symbolism," I don't think I'm getting all of what Swift intended, because of my lack of experience of early 1700s British/European society and politics).

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?

I don't know. I have a book on Britain in WWII that I might read next. (It's called something like "Mass Observation: Britain in WWII." Folio Press book.

What magazines do you have in your bathroom right now?

I don't really spend enough time in the bathroom to get involved with reading, unless I'm reading in the tub, and then, magazines aren't the best choice, the edges dip in and get all pulpy....

What’s the worst thing you were ever forced to read?

"Worst," I don't know. Thing I hated the most? Kate Chopin's "The Awakening." Please, Edna, just drown yourself already....

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?

Depends on the person but I've pressed "Middlemarch" on some people, and Connie Willis' "Doomsday Book" (and I claim to be an anti-fan of sci-fi.) I've also encouraged people to read "The Dancing Wu Li Masters" and "A Sand County Almanac" and "Bird by Bird."

How's that for diverse?

Admit it, the librarians at your library know you on a first name basis, don’t they?

Yeah, the university librarians. But that's partly because I'm on the Library Committee. Like Sheila, I'm much more of a book-buyer than a book-borrower.

Is there a book you absolutely love, but for some reason, people never think it sounds interesting, or maybe they read it and don’t like it at all?

I've had a few people give a cool reception to my suggestion of "Doomsday Book" but I can't say that there's any book that's met with disapproval across the board.

Do you read books while you eat? While you bathe? While you watch movies or TV? While you listen to music? While you’re on the computer? While you’re having sex? While you’re driving?

Let's see: "yes," "sometimes," "sometimes," "yes," "sometimes," "that's a rather extremely personal question and I honestly can't quite figure out how it would be DONE anyway, I mean the mechanics of it [and NO, don't tell me]" and "good heavens, no."

When you were little, did other children tease you about your reading habits?

Oh, hell, I was teased for EVERYTHING when I was little. Reading was no different.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?

I hate to say it, but I don't remember. Sleep is very important to me - even more so than reading.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

adulthood and reality

Something I've been thinking about for a couple of days...

Ann Althouse commented on a New York Times story about career women who are wives and mothers, and how the story is yet another one of those "I tried to 'have it all' and my life still isn't perfect" stories that makes you wonder (or makes ME wonder, at least) why on earth they run such a thing.

I mean - I can see how someone in some other part of the world (like, say, one of our soldiers fighting in Iraq) might see it: rich American woman with healthy family, living in safety, even has a housekeeper, can't be happy because her house isn't as clean as she'd like it to be or because she's not a famous researcher.

And yeah, I get the idea of dysphoria and depression. I get that some people, outwardly "should" be happy and they aren't. And it's hard for their families and hard for them. But it's not a newsworthy thing - not in the sense of "this is some big sociological problem in the U.S." If anything, it's more a story of a personal, or, perhaps, medical nature - it may well be some of the discontented women have some kind of underlying neurotransmitter imbalance that could be improved by meds or talk-therapy. Or, hell, if they're so dissatisfied, they can make a change. This isn't Saudi Arabia or the Sudan - if you're a woman and you're not happy in your marriage you can get out. Or if you're not happy staying at home all day you can get a job. Or if you hate your job, you can try for a different one. Or start making art. Or something. Just sitting around and complaining to a reporter doesn't really solve much.

Heh. One of the commenters there talked about "finding the cloud around the silver lining." And yeah, I've had my share of days when I've walked around going, "I have every reason to be happy but I'm just not feeling it." But to me, that's not a usual state of being. (And if it were - I'd be seeking some kind of professional help.)

But, you know? Not having everything just exactly the way you want it to be? That's pretty much the state of being a grown-up, isn't it? (Probably also the state of being a child, but I'm talking not of children vs. grown-ups here, but of people who are stuck in an adolescent ideology vs. people who are more grown up). Complaining that everything isn't super-extra-wonderful-perfect is kind of an adolescent trait; shrugging, saying "sometimes things are just that way" and getting down to work seems to me to be more of an adult trait.

Work isn't always wonderful and happy.
Families aren't always harmonious.
The house isn't always clean.
There isn't always time to pursue interests or hobbies.
Stuff you try out doesn't always succeed.

That's just the way it is. Sure, it sucks, but it's how life is. That's why we call this existence "life," and not "Heaven."

There are a lot of things I'd love to have - I'd like, for example, to be a more well-known researcher than I am. (I have a few small articles published, mostly in not-very-widely-circulated journals). I'd love to have more of a social life (despite the rather shallow dating pool here). I'd love to have really nicely done gardens and landscaping.

Hell, I'd love to have an adoring husband and wonderful children. But I don't. Just because I want something doesn't mean I get it, or even that I deserve it.

So you do what you can with what you have.

But. You can't maximize everything.

I'm an ecologist, and one of the first principles of ecology is that life consists of a series of trade-offs. For example: imagine you are designing a bird species. This bird will have, most years, a set amount of energy it can give to laying eggs. Do you have it lay one big egg, with lots of nourishment for the developing chick, or many small eggs, with less nourishment in each? Depending on the situation, the one-big-egg might do better, but in other situations (like, if survival of the chicks once they leave the nest is kind of up to chance), the many-small-eggs might be a better strategy.

However, the bird canNOT have many large eggs - there just are not available resources.

It is the same with people and time.

I realized a long time ago I could be a more gung-ho researcher than I am, but I'd have to give something up - I'd either have to neglect my teaching, which feels wrong to me (but I know many in academia use that as the path to follow). I am paid to teach. It is my calling. So slacking on the teaching is not an option.

I could also be more of a go-getter if I was willing to work on research nights and weekends - if I gave up what little social life I have, if I stopped reading books and knitting and making quilts and all of that other stuff (and I will admit, when I'm in one of those "I suck" modes of thinking, that's what I think: "You are wasting your time by having all those dumb hobbies. You should give away all your supplies and do only research in your free time." Except, I know that that would make me a less-happy and less well-rounded person in the long run. And also, you know? Life is short. There's something to be said for doing things that make us happy once in a while, even if they don't earn us any material gain or fleeting fame.)

What does get slacked on a bit is housecleaning and yardwork. Oh, I could have a perfect pristine lawn, if I gave up my other hobbies. Or if I hired someone (but, then again - hiring people to work and actually getting them to work in this town can itself constitute another time-drain not unlike having an additional hobby).

So I do what I can when I can. Every couple of weeks I do an intensive cleaning, but between times I just take a couple minutes here and there and sweep or wash countertops as needed and try not to worry too much. (And I've perfected the art of getting my living room, dining room, and kitchen - the three rooms that most people coming over see - presentable within 20 minutes, just in case someone calls and says, "oh, hey, can I drop by for a moment.") My house is hygienic, it's just not operating-room-sterile. And there may be more paper and clutter around than some people like. Eh. I'd rather have the time to read and a slightly messy house.

I do think some people - particularly the (apparently) "society" women that are described in the article need to relax a little about housecleaning. (Especially in light of recent research that says that kids that grow up in TOO clean and sterile of an environment may be more prone to developing allergies or asthma - because, apparently, their immune systems don't learn to tell "safe dirt" from "dangerous dirt," because there's never any dirt around)

The complaint that they're tired and they've had to sacrifice - really, how is that different from anyone else who's a responsible grown-up? I'm tired an awful lot of the time. There are many evenings when I'm out doing volunteer work when I'd really and truly honestly rather be tucked up on my sofa with a good book or something on the telly.

My students are tired an awful lot of the time. I have students who are single parents of young children. I have students whose spouses are deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan, meaning that not only are they essentially "single" parents, they have that added level of worry. I have students who are caring for an elderly parent or a severely disabled sibling. I'm sure all of them would wish that things were other than they are.

But - they soldier on. I've seen some pretty amazing stories of people dealing with adversity. The secret is instead of feeling put-upon about it, you kind of straighten your shoulders and do the old stiff-upper-lip thing, and you just go. You just do it.

(Honestly - some days I wonder how we'd survive another WWII situation - where there was rationing and limits and deprivations. Or, even worse, like Battle of Britain WWII where people were in real, mortal danger, and things happened like children being shipped off into the countryside without their parents to keep them [hopefully] safer from harm. I tend to think that most of Generation X - and I don't say this lightly because it's the generation to which I belong - would lie down and die if faced with that kind of situation.)

I don't know. I don't want to come off as TOTALLY unsympathetic - I do ascribe to the old Plato maxim about being kind because everyone is shouldering a heavier load - but it just seems to me that there's plenty of misery to go 'round, and that what the women quoted in the article are experiencing is either not all that unusual, or, in some cases, largely a product of their own unrealistic expectations.

(And incidentally: the whole tenure-track thing the woman was complaining about? Not sure how it fits in. Yeah, tenure is nice but it's not like some kind of magic key that makes your life super-wonderful. And yeah, it's more work - you have to be sure to get research out there and give presentations and serve on committees and stuff, but - the husbands do that. I mean, it's hard - but it's not IMPOSSIBLE hard, and I don't think it's harder for a woman than it is for a man. I know plenty women with kids (some with babies even) who got tenure. I think her complaint is kind of a red herring there. Tenure really isn't the prestige-thing it's made off to be. Basically, it's a vote of confidence, a "you're doing okay, now keep going the same way." It's not like some kind of super-Ph.D.

And frankly - I work harder after getting tenure than I did before. More is expected of tenured faculty. That's probably the way it should be, but I honestly think for that one woman, tenure is not the solution to her problems that she seems to think it is.)

So anyway. I realize the irony of my just spilling I-don't-want-to-count-how-many words of personal blather commenting about the seemingly empty complaints of some woman who appears to "have it all" but still thinks she could have more. And I admit I do my fare share of complaining about stuff, but I also try to keep in mind that there's good stuff, too.

You know? My life is far from perfect. But it's a lot better than it could be. Maybe it just comes down to looking at the glass and going, well, you could say it's half empty or half full, so I'll say it's half full. Or accepting that it's half empty, but not feeling the need to have a newspaper article written about that state.

(Of course, you are an engineer, you would simply say that too large of a container was chosen for the liquid involved in the project.)

Friday, August 17, 2007

quick things

* It occurs to me (after reading Maggie May's and Kate P.'s comments) that I should maybe retitle the packing a lunch post (where I rant about unwanted additions), "Crouching spinach, hidden mayo."

* Ken, I figured there'd been some kind of legislation requiring the labels for California (gas pumps here have them too). It does seem strange that Californians get special treatment or are singled out for special fear. Except that it's California, where it seems lots of excessive legislation can get passed.

* Today is the Day of All Meetings - the run up to the start of school. On one hand, I'm sorry to see my free time end, but on the other - I just got back from going out to lunch with a bunch of my colleagues (some of whom I hadn't seen for most of the summer) and I realized, dammit, I MISSED these people. I get a little crazy if I don't have regular human contact and sitting in my office analyzing data when I'm the only one in doesn't bring it.

* Does anyone have a "dead pool" of sorts up on what Chinese product is going to be recalled next? I'm going to say running shoes - either because of lead in the rubber or because the innersole air pockets tend to blow out unexpectedly.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

look for the warning label...

I linked to A Big Victory's post earlier - the one about the mother whose child choked on a popcorn kernel, and is now calling for mandatory labeling of movie theater popcorn.

I don't know. I recognize that when something bad happens to your kid, it's a tragedy, and you just want to do what you can to prevent anyone else from having the same problem.

But I'm getting kind of frustrated at warning labels.

Today, I noticed my front-door lock was sticking badly - it took me five minutes of jiggling and twisting my key to get it to open at lunchtime. So I ran down to the friendly local hardware store and bought a tube of that graphite stuff.

As I was getting ready to spray it in the lock, I noticed this on the side of the tube:

"Warning: this product contains substances known to cause cancer in the state of California"

(To paraphrase the old joke about the hillbilly kid and the Thermos bottle: "How do it KNOW?")

Poor grammar aside (I think that phrase should be "...known in the state of California to cause cancer" or, better "...SUSPECTED in the state of California to cause cancer"), it made me wonder: how often are people (outside of manufacturing it, where I'd hope there'd be proper controls) exposed to powdered graphite? I've lived in my house five years and this is the first time I've had to hit the locks...and I have never yet had to do my car locks, but I know my dad would sometimes have to put graphite in some of his car locks every couple years or so.

But why the scare tactics? Is it corporate CYA, or did someone who got some horrific lung cancer from snorting powdered graphite sue them? And why California? (no, I know, you don't need to answer that question)

And on my chocolate now they're doing it. I bought a big big bag of those little squares of the fancy Hershey's "Cacao Reserve" chocolate. And what was on the bag? A little warning that goes something like this:

"Like any indulgent treat, please enjoy Cacao Reserve in moderation."

The hell you say. No, I thought I'd just sit down and eat the whole two-pound bag in one sitting. After all, they're saying chocolate is "health food" now.

Honestly? Little nannying warnings like that actually make me want to eat a bigger portion at a time than I might otherwise, you know, just to stick it to "the man."

Oh, and the last time (like, about 4 months ago) I bought a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup out of the vending machine here? It actually said on the package:

"Please enjoy responsibly"

Yeah - just like it says on the Captain Morgan ads, or those ones with that creepy Tony Sinclair guy.

I'm not even sure what the Reese's people MEANT by 'responsibly.' Don't eat eighteen of them at once? Don't throw the wrapper on the ground when you're done with it? Don't taunt your little brother with it: 'ha, ha, I have a peanut butter cup and you don't'? Don't eat them if you're peanut-allergic? What?

Vague warning statements only serve to tick me off. Almost as much as nannying warning statements.

Look, Hershey's - I know chocolate can make me fat. Probably at least 5 pounds of the extra avoirdupois I'm carrying around (heck, 10 pounds, probably) comes from my consumption of chocolate from the time I was about 10 on. It's my problem. I'm not gonna sue you over it. You didn't make me fat - the fact that I like chocolate, dislike jogging, and have a slow metabolism combined to do that.

Don't ruin my tiny little enjoyment of my tiny little square of chocolate by shaking a finger in my face and telling me to "enjoy, but responsibly." There are a lot of things I could metaphorically relate that to, but most of them aren't "family friendly," so I won't go there. Suffice it to say - "enjoy, but responsibly" is kind of like fixing a bubble bath but waiting to get in until all the bubbles collapse, lest you get soap in your eyes.

And Graphite Manufacturers of America - don't worry me as I'm trying to figure out how to fix my lock so it won't take 10 minutes for me to get in my house on the first 40-degree, horizontal-rain day of the year but talking to me about cancer and how Californians are worried about it. There are some things I really probably don't need to know.

packing a lunch

Well, that little silly quiz thing got quite a bit of response (and no, I don't think Club Sandwiches are necessarily my mortal enemy - it's just funny, I think, because PB&J is the classic "kid" sandwich, and club sandwiches are, in my mind at least, about as grown-up as a sandwich can get).

Soon it will be time for me to start carrying lunches to school again.

I was trying to think about what I took as a school kid - I know I always packed a lunch and never bought - the olive-green steam-table green beans that were a regular 'vegetable' in the "bought" lunch scared me, as did the super-rubbery jello (I don't know of anyone actually EATING the jello cubes; they were mostly used as toys.) I remember once sitting at my table (we had little tables-of-four in junior high school) talking with my friends (or rather, the three other people who would deign to sit with me at lunch - my former BFF having recently been accepted into the "popular" clique and not wanting to be seen with me any more. And yes, I'm still kind of bitter about that - and it's probably why I never ever had someone I regarded as a "best friend" ever again), when a cube of red jello came flying out of nowhere, bounced off the center of our table, and made it to the center of the table next to us.

And they put soy - or something that had hulls in it anyway - in the hamburger patties.

So I carried my lunch from home. I think I kind of alternated between a couple different things - peanut butter, cream cheese sandwiches (yeah, I was kind of a weird kid), and sometimes something in a "cold pack" - either cottage cheese or cottage cheese and fruit (again: weird kid. I don't know too many people who willingly ate cottage cheese at 12).

My brother was even worse: for a couple years all he wanted was jelly sandwiches. And not just any jelly; my mother's homemade apple-mint jelly. (Oh, I'm sure he had other things in his lunch - he wasn't malnourished or anything).

I remember lunchboxes. They were cool until, I guess, about 4th or 5th grade. First, I had Disney, then I had Peanuts, then I had a plain tartan lunchbox. Then I carried my lunch in a paper sack. It seems like metal lunchboxes - after years of being declared a Dangerous! Hazard! are coming back, at least as kitsch pieces for generation Xers (I saw some for sale at, of all places, the Books A Million recently. It didn't explicitly say on them NOT FOR CHILDREN'S USE so maybe they are being offered again for kids). I never cared too much for plastic lunchboxes.

(If I were about 10 years younger and about four times cooler than I am, I would have bought one and used it for my lunches. But I don't think I can get away with that kind of club-kid, "I'm self-consciously being immature!" thing any more.)

I carry a lunch pretty much every day to work, now. It's cheaper than eating out, probably healthier (most of the restaurants here in town, you order at by speaking into a large fiberglass advertising-character head), and I don't lose my parking space.

But - you know, it's kind of boring. And sometimes kind of depressing: oh, here I am at my desk again, eating lunch number 45 of 180 for this year.

I don't put a lot of thought into my lunches. Which is probably why they're kind of boring. The typical, rarely-deviated-from pattern is this:

some kind of fruit or salad in a little tub
granola bar
maybe a bit of cheese, or a hardboiled egg if I happen to have one on hand
maybe some crackers
a tiny square of chocolate or a cookie.

Not very much, and yeah, I'm usually hungry when I get home around 4 or so. But - I'm packing my lunch at 6:30 am, I've already been up an hour and a half and done my workout and gotten cleaned up and dressed, and taking the time to pack an elaborate lunch just feels - I don't know, it just feels like yet another chore so early in the morning when I still have the real chores of the day ahead of me. (And as for packing the night before - I've tried it; it doesn't work. Sandwiches, even when refrigerated, become gluey and unappealing after an overnight plus six hour stay. And some nights I don't get home until 9 pm - so it would be yet another chore at the end of the day).

I have discovered a few things that make lunch a little happier.

Like those tiny triangular "Laughing Cow" cheeses. They taste fairly good, they seem to keep okay even without refrigeration (one of my colleagues has a little refrigerator in her lab but I'm always competing for space - of course she needs room for her lunches and little bottle of milk, but one of my other colleagues also fills it up with the weird natural-foods-store soft drinks he likes.)

And dried fruit. Not just raisins - figs (which freak people out for some reason; they're all, WTF is that? WTF are you eating?). Prunes (yeah, you can make jokes, but they're sweet, they have nutrients, and they don't get squished in a lunch kit). Dates (extremely sweet but a couple go a long way)

And those "100 calorie" packs of stuff. Yeah, I know - as someone who rolls her eyes at the increasing nannydom of our food, who rants about things (actually, I haven't yet, but will) like Hershey's "disclaimer" about "enjoy this in moderation only!" on their chocolate products, I still like them. Why? Because, number 1, they're easy. I can have a bunch of the boxes lined up on the shelf, and I can just reach in and grab whatever thing I feel like that day - cheet-os "asteroids" (uh-huh, huh, huh, huh) or little cookies, or goldfish - whatever. And I don't have to portion it out and pack it and wrap it and all that. And that's a good thing, first thing in the morning.

Yeah, yeah, I know - I should buy the "bulk" bag of something and some kind of reusable washable plastic container and do it the environmentally-friendly way. Except the problem is, the "bulk" bag and the container sit on the shelf because I don't have the energy at 6:30 am to weigh out all of my foodstuffs for the day. So I'll drive less, or something, to make up. Bite me, Gaia.

One of my colleagues brings those "healthy" frozen dinners (there is a freezer in the breakroom fridge but it's across the building from me). But. meh. I don't want broccoli from the Ice Age with my lunch. And usually I'm actually not hungry enough to want "Chicken Divan made Light!" or whatever.

And I'm just not that big on sandwiches. Part of it is the "eww, it's been sitting six hours!" sense. But part of it that I'm just not crazy about cold cuts. I will take a peanut butter sandwich from time to time (especially if I have good whole-wheat bread on hand), or if I have egg salad on hand (sorry, Ann Althouse, but I love the stuff) and a good shot at getting space in the fridge, I'll take a little jar of egg salad and two pieces of toasted white bread

It occurs to me that I should give my fussy-eater rundown of what type of bread is acceptable with what type of sandwich.

Peanut butter is pretty much good on anything. It's best, IMHO, on a good whole wheat or on something like Anadama bread (the problem with Anadama bread is you have to bake it yourself, or find someone to bake it for you - it's not commercially available).

Peanut butter sandwiches that are intended to be eaten alongside of a bowl of chicken soup (which is actually a pretty good meal combination) should be on white bread. And always crunchy peanut butter for me.

Egg salad pretty much has to be on white bread, toasted. And it gets cut diagonally. (Peanut butter is cut up-and-down).

Cold cuts (which I don't really care for and rarely eat - once in a while I'll eat turkey or ham or maybe roast beef, but none of the "weird reprocessed" meats) are best on some kind of bread with character. Marbled rye is best, but it's hard to find good marbled rye here. And roast beef is best if there's a little steak sauce to put on it.

Pimiento cheese is best on very thin bread, either white or wheat. But it needs to be thin bread!

Grilled cheese can ONLY be made on white bread. It's kind of like pizza - you can't have a decent whole-wheat-crust pizza. (And I've tried. Oh, how I've tried. It's just not right. It's like whole wheat pasta - the health food types tell you it's just the same, it's just as good but it ISN'T. I'd rather eat pasta only once or twice a month and have the real, semolina, kind, instead of getting some kind of sandpapery imposter a couple times a week). And it should be JUST cheese - no tomatoes, no ham, no spinach (dear God - I once ordered a grilled cheese in a restaurant and they brought me a "grilled cheese Florentine" - it had all this pureed spinach crap on it. Now, don't get me wrong - spinach has its place - but that place is NOT on a grilled cheese sandwich, and ESPECIALLY when it says nowhere on the menu, "Your sandwich will come 'enhanced' with flabby cooked spinach in cream sauce.")

And NO MAYO! Can you believe that some people put mayo on a grilled cheese? I was traveling with my family (going to a family wedding) and we stopped at this fast-food chain place (Culvers, or somesuch) that's only found in the Upper Midwest. They had a "grilled cheese deluxe" on the menu. So I ordered it. It came with tomatoes (no biggie, I could pick those out), but the bread was slathered in mayonnaise. No! Wrong! Ick! At least WARN me first - if they have to put warning labels on frigging POPCORN, they should at least say somewhere on the menu: grilled cheese comes with bread soaked in mayo.

Not that I'm a total mayo-hater. It's good on turkey, it's a necessary component of egg salad, I've even been known to eat it on a hamburger. But it does not go with cheese. (Isn't there some kind of dietary law about that: "thou shalt not combine two sour dairy products in one sandwich"?)

But anyway. It was hot out, and I was starving (my family's travel MO is "drive until someone is near death from hunger/thirst/needing to pee, and THEN stop), and I will admit that even though I was in my 30s at the time, I did shed a few hot tears over the travesty that was that sandwich.

I was also once served a chili dog that had mustard on it. I consider that also to be deeply wrong. Fortunately, I was in a position to dump the dog and get something more edible in that case.

Yes, I am a profoundly picky eater.

So anyway. (And no - I am not "that" customer at the restaurant. I rarely if ever send things back. And I'm not the kind of person to make koo-koo special requests. All I ask is that I be told up front on the menu if there is some weird, unexpected ingredient that shouldn't be there. Like - if you're serving a grilled cheese sandwich with spinach on it, at the very LEAST call it "grilled cheese Florentine" on the menu, to cue your patrons in that they're in for a surprise.)

But back to packed lunches. Maybe yogurt's a little boring and predictable. And maybe the "100 calorie packs" are just the CYA of the processed food industry (or so some claim). But at least I can be sure of getting a mayonnaise-free and cooked-spinach-free lunch when I want one.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Utterly silly...

I saw the link to this over at The Anchoress:

You Are a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

You life your life in a free form, artistic style.
You are incredibly creative and at times, quite messy.
Deep down, you are a kid at heart. And you aren't afraid to express it.

Your best friend: The Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Your mortal enemy: The Club Sandwich

Hahahahahaha! I especially love the part where they say the Grilled Cheese Sandwich is my best friend, and the Club Sandwich is my mortal enemy!

(That said, I have to admit - I like grilled cheese a whole lot more than PB&J. And I like plain peanut butter better than PB&J. Or, even better: peanut butter and Nutella on toasted whole-wheat bread. Of course, that has about a million jillion calories so I can only eat it in the depths of winter when I need the extra energy to heat my body, or when I'm going out for a long hike in the cold.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I have no time for impatient people....

My car was almost rear-ended this morning.

The way I drive into work, I come up the north-south "main drag" in down, and then make a left-hand turn onto a small, sort of residential street, where my classroom and office building is located (we are some distance from the rest of campus).

Often, in the morning, there's a lot of oncoming traffic, and I've had to sit and wait to make my turn. No big deal.

(Incidentally, I should note: I'm a good driver. The discount I get on my car insurance bears this out, and also the fact that I've had people jump to ride with ME rather than with someone else who might be driving their car [when we're all caravaning somewhere]. I've also had only one minor - and I mean MINOR, it was less than $100 damage - accident in all of my driving days, and that was because I let myself get distracted - which hasn't happened since).

Well, this morning, I had a Jeep behind me. One of those fairly new model, semi-luxury models (but still: it's a JEEP. It's not going to be a comfy ride. I'm not sure why people would spend a buttload of money on a Jeep. But this one was all shiny and fancy so I assume the guy did.)

Actually, when I first saw the guy, he was pulled off into a parking lot by the side of the road, talking and shaking his fist at someone else in another car pulled alongside of him.

I mentally filed that away: watch out in case this guy tries to pull out in front of you; he's going to hit the gas and God save anyone who's in his way.

He didn't, though, and I wound up in front of him, stopped at a stoplight.

(Perhaps another factor in this was that I was BEHIND a piece of heavy equipment that took a while to get up to speed after the light went green).

But at any rate - I got to my turn, flipped my turn signal on the requisite distance before I planned to turn. Then I stopped for oncoming traffic, to wait until it was safe to turn.

Note that phrase: waiting until it was SAFE to turn.

Jeep-man comes TEARING up behind me (I guess all the fancy doo-dads on his Jeep affected its get-up-and-go coming from the stoplight). It flashed through my mind: Dude is going to hit me. So I braced for impact and prepared to leap from my car in case he hit the gas tank or something.

He stops short - like 2" from my bumper. And gives me this EVIL look. If I had had my windows open, I don't doubt I could have heard him cussing.

Because I was waiting until it was SAFE to turn.

A few moments later, it was, and I did, but I was shaking pretty badly - Jeep-dude tore off in a cloud of dust, doubtless to tell his co-workers about the stupid woman who waited too long on traffic.

Honestly, I hate that turn because people who wind up behind me never seem to want to let me wait to make the turn safely, and if I had another good way of getting into work I'd not go that way - I've also had people pass me on the right side (on the shoulder, which is technically legal in this state but which is driving maneuver that always startles me and which I tend to dislike - it's distinctly unsettling to have someone come up on your right side).

Why the hell are people so impatient, that 15 seconds matters that much to them? That fifteen seconds of waiting on an oncoming car - knowing as I do the pick-up, or lack thereof, that my car currently has - makes the difference between my going through the turn safely, or seriously risking being t-boned.

But, I suppose to some folks, they don't consider that.

(I will say, I suppose those "semi-luxury" Jeeps do bundle the "a-hole" option (as famously discussed on the FFOT some months back) with the fancy chrome and such).

It seems that drivers 'round here are getting more impatient. I don't know if it's slightly increasing population density, or if we're seeing an influx of folks who are fleeing a couple of city areas around us for "rural living" (and then face an hour or more commute, if they still work "in the city"), or what. But it irritates me - I should not be made to feel that I have done something wrong by hesitating to make an unsafe turn. And I shouldn't have to choose between being t-boned and being rear-ended.

Oh, and when I got to my building? I snapped on my left turn signal and hopped out of the car to check to be sure it was working, just to give Jeep-dude the benefit of the doubt. Nope, turn signal worked perfectly, and I know I put it on soon enough - so either he wasn't paying attention, or he was just so damn impatient that he thought I'd be as impatient as he was.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

BAH hahahahaha!

Yes, I have frequently spoken of my adoration of LOLcats (a/k/a "cat macros.") And I realize that it's a kind of humor you kind of have to have a taste for - if you don't think it's funny, you REALLY don't think it's funny.

But I think it's funny, and I often think it's hilarious.

Like this one:

(Maybe it's funnier to me because I have kids in my Youth Group who are always showing off their biceps, trying to impress the girls, and doing the "check out my guns" or "Have you got your tickets to the GUN SHOW?" or "The army called - they want their guns back!" thing)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Thank God.

So it was a humor piece after all. I kinda thought it was hinky.

(And thanks, North Denver News, for your "I'm smarter than you, haw-haw." It just goes to show how corrupted the news has become, that a humor piece is run in what is assumed to be a serious newspaper, and people, being used to stories of "extreme makeovers," fall for it, and then the newspaper basically preens itself on being too smart for the room. Egad, how I hate the modern climate of snark and "nothing is serious or sacred.")

Oh, and nice slam at Fox News there. I think the real "faux" news is your paper, folks.

I don't know. It irritates me that we live in a world where (a) we're so inured to the sort of stupid self-mutilating things people do to themselves that we don't immediately see through a story like this and (b) that a newspaper thinks it's really funny and clever for having suckered people.

Boy who cried "Wolf," much?

(I will say, in my defense, as I was driving out for my day's errands, I did think about the story and was caught up short - "how can they 'remove and replace' a person's fingernails? They're a growing tissue from a nailbed and screwing with the nailbed will make the nail stop growing. It's gotta be a fake." Other than that - well, what do they expect, that we're all knowledgeable about the fine anatomy of the hand? I mean, I'm a biologist (but not a human physiologist) and I have only a dim comprehension of how all the tendons and muscles interconnect.)