Monday, February 27, 2006


At the risk of being labelled a whiny baby complainer, I would like to take a minute to pose the question-Why do we have sinuses? For the life of me, the only reason I see to have them is to keep my doctor in greens fees winter, spring and fall. Only the bleaching of the atmosphere with our ever climbing summer highs gives any relief. I just came from the doctor. I had suffered from what I thought was a virus or head cold or some other icky thing and since all the newscasts had spread the world about avoiding antibiotics and the quirky creation of superviruses due to overuse, I spent countless hours using OTC and alternative remedies. What did I use? Let me count the ways-
Contac D
Tavist D
Saline Spray
Gypsy Cold Tea
Green Tea
White Tea
Spicy Mexican food
Spicy Cajun Food
A shot of cheap whiskey ( not effective but who cares?)
I even used my Dad's Hot Toddy recipe with slices 0f real lemons dotted with cloves..
But alas-I spent a good deal of time wrapping my head in hot clothes, spreading wadded up tissue into landfill destined trashcans and in general feeling like----well, not really that well.
So I went to the doctor, got a script for a ZPac which my insurance thoughtfully changed to a generic which may or may not work. My doctor also gave me heavily televised nasal spray and a not so heavily advertised decongestant, which I have used before and actually it works. So, even though I have some Oprah oriented opinions, I think I will save them for another day, when I feel more feisty and ready to rock. Bon Lundi Gras ya'll.

Friday, February 24, 2006


It comes to mind that my weekends are often just as much work as my weeks. I guess that makes me one of the millions who feel that technology isn't the timesaver it was cracked up to me. How can it be when I have to take attendance THREE TIMES for every class-one in my gradebook, one on the UIL attendance, and one in my online gradebook. Doesn't this seem like a duplication of effort? I assign papers and projects, grade same, and still every single weekend I end up in my classroom on a Sunday afternoon doing any number of deadline style projects. This weekend's project will be matting student work for the district art show. Sounds easy, right?'s the most mind-numbingly tedious thing I can imagine. Measuring and cutting and measuring and taping and MEASURING and doing it over an over. And none of the sizes are "regular" and none of the shapes are consistent. All in all, it's the part of teaching high school art that I dread the most. I find no joy in a perfecting matted piece. I get no internal glow of a job well done. It' s just another chore on the long and neverending list of chores that I must do as part of my "Professional Obligation." Let me define that for those of you who don't work in a public school. Being under contract, we are obligated to be in class teaching. There are also a number of other things we are required to do in order to keep our contract in good standing. One is "professional development" Notice that is in small letters. This can be anything from earning a graduate degree to taking CPR classes. There's not a whole lot of oversight so there are some teachers who will read, or so they say, professional articles, periodicals and books. These people are quite often the more slackerish amongst us. I condone reading, but I think you should actually have to open the book at read it to take credit hours. Another "professional obligation" is hall duty. Hall duty is playing policeman in the hall to prevent PDA, food fights and various petty injunctions ranging from visible cell phones to MP3 headphones. It's a constant arguement in the making. Great fun if you enjoy that kind of thing. Another "professional obligation" is proctering state mandated testing and attending BORING BORING BORING in-service in order to make sure you don't inadverdantly slip the answers to the test to a student. We have to sit for over 2 and a half hours simply watching the kids. No reading, no grading, no computer access, just sitting and watching. At least the kids get to read when they are done. The security and the measures for breeching it are draconian in effect and method. There are teachers who live in mortal fear of having their teacher creds taken away because some dumb kid breaks the seal on the second part of the test before his or her dictionary is put away.
Is this any way to run an educational system?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Read and Learn....

This is just a quick post. I just went through the Dallas Morning News weblog and got this wonderful link to a Chicago Sun-Times editorial piece. I think this puts my attitude towards the press into words much more eloquently than I could. I hold the press right up there with used car salesmen, lawyers and realtors. Sorry, but in my book, those four groups are out for their own gain although they always seem to claim they are "looking out for you". Please read the article.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Olympics

I like the Winter Olympics. I always have. I remember watching Peggy Fleming thinking "Wow! I could do that!!" Of course I couldn't do that. Most people can't. I didn't know that then, but thirty minutes on figure skates made me absolutely positively sure that people who could fly across the ice and leap in the air and LAND ON THEIR FEET were something special.

In comes controversy in the form of Bryant Gumble....I am not sure why he feels this way, but I will let you judge for yourself.
Now I am not an expert in sports. In fact, I could be called something of a klutz, but it seems to me that anyone who can go down a mountain at 95 mph must have some sort of muscular skill and strength behind that feat. Ditto snowboarders that flip and go down the hill. Or speedskaters that flash by on the ice with unbelieveable speed. Even the figure skaters have to have courage speed and skill plus enormous control to do what they do. So why does Mr. Gumble ramble on about this not be the "real" Olympics?" There are two schools of thought. One says that Mr. Gumble is a purist and thinks that the Winter Sports are only skills to be learned, that anyone could do it and excel. This POV says that true athleticism comes from "pure" strength or "pure" speed. I would like to have Mr. Gumble define what the word "pure" means in this context. Another school of thought is that because the games are largely Asian and European in nature-that is, the main body of athletes come from nations where it is cold and where many of them are not African heritage, that the claim that they are the best in their sports is tainted.

I have been to skating rinks and ski resorts. There are plenty of people there of a variety of ethnicities that are doing the winter sports. We have even had a gold medal contender that was an African American woman. I don't think the Olympic Committee would bar anyone of any persuasion that could ski or skate quickly from joining the ranks, but to date, nobody has made a run for it. I think that the Olympic Committee would go nuts and overboard if someone that was a minority was able to compete at that level.I don't think that the answer is to denigrate the sports of the Winter Games. The answer is for well fixed people who desire to have a Person of Color in the Winter Games, to support, fund and provide the abilities for an athlete to join the crowd. While Mr. Gumble is totally entitled to dislike or like whatever sports he wants, that doesn't give him the right to pull the accomplishments of the winter Olympians. It would seem that by his narrow vision of sport, a true athlete can only run, jump and wrestle. No offense, but running bores me after the first lap, and wrestling is just odd to watch which leaves us with jumping, which isn'treally something that someone can sustain for more than a split second due to gravity. Plus, if we apply those narrow guidelines to all sports, then would true stars such as Arthur Ashe and Tiger Woods be left out because they use clubs and rackets? Would baseball players be lesser beings because they use a bat? If he really REALLY wants the Olympian Ideal, then maybe we should return to naked men running around scraping grease off each other. That would bring the Olympics down to the level of cable TV. And I don't want to even think abou the "Euwww Factor."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Hunting Accidents and other bedtime stories....

I am not a hunter. I sort of know how to shoot a gun.
One thing I do know is that gun accidents happen. I also know that there is a difference between a bullet such as someone like Dirty Harry would use and birdshot, which scatters. Wind affects both, but it isn't unusual for birdshot to fly back at the shooter if they are dumb enough to shoot into the wind. I don't think that this was a planned assault by the VP, although to listen to the media you would think he'd been plotting to off one of his best friends. While the media possibly could have been handled better, although I will tell you honestly the area where that ranch is in Kenedy (one N not two) is literally The Middle Of Nowhere. A 50,000 acre ranch is the size of a good sized city. It probably has unpaved roads, no cell sites and not many of the communication tools that we take for granted. Having Mrs. Armstrong contact the press, in the absence of press aides and other talking heads, was really making the most of a bad situation. If the VP were not the VP, nobody would think anything of this whole situation.....

It just so happens that through a fiat of luck, this happened right on the heels of a MAJOR league liberal meltdown. This occurred in the form of AlGore in Saudi Arabia at the behest of the binLaden family sounding for all his ranting and raving just like any imam on the street in Tehran. Really. He basically told lies about things going on, made assertions based on facts not found in reality and generally pandered to people who can give him lots and lots of MONEY and OIL to help his next run for the Presidency. Yes, Democrats, be afraid. He's going to run again. And this time not only will he manage to alienate the religious and conservative segments of the party, but the union workers and military personnel as well. For unions, he will recommend that the minimum wage be raised, which will cause corporations to move operations overseas and/or start massive layoffs. For the working class, it will mean fewer jobs and an erosion of the minimum wage through a blanket amnesty of illegal aliens. Rather than enforcing the borders, limiting immigration and demanding that employers document the status of employees, he will penalize the rest of us. I don't think it's a coincidence that the Cheney Situation is being played up in the media while the Gore story is almost non-existent on any media outlet.

Where's the outcry? Where's the slobbering media outlets demanding information?
And this is fair and balanced?????

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Reading is so underrated by most people these days. I love to read. I don't know many people who agree with that attitude. I know my husband doesn't. And for the most part, my kids don't. I think it was because I used to escape into books from a very cliquish high school existence. I don' t really know what I would do without having a book at my side. I read a wide range of things-and books for me are in three classes:
!. Keepers-I buy a copy, buy other books by the author and read them periodically over and over.
2. Meh-Fun books, not classic in terms of their appeal but fun at the time. Often current novels and the few Oprah book club selections I can stomach.
3. ARHG!!!-These books are either so bad or so offensive or so SOMETHING that I not only won't read it again, I will throw it away so that NOBODY CAN READ IT. "Prince of Tides" fits into this category for example. Literature my Aunt Fanny......
Since nobody seems to be reading these little missives, I might as well start running a list of my favorite books. I have ALOT of books. They range from sci-fi to mystery to history and art to just plain funny/stupid. It depends on my mood what I read. Plus I work part time in a library so I have access to BEAUCOUPS de BOOKS!!!!

Tra la o happy day!!!!!

The Day Off

After reconsidering, I decided to take a well deserved Mental Health Holiday. My classes are set up with some research and I can take a minute to try to get my stupid Turbo Tax to work so that I can file FAFSA's for my kids in college in the futile hope that they will qualify for a grant or something. This year has been tough. My husband quit his job just about this time last year after 23 years with the same company. Burn-out? Who knows. He worked for awhile for a smaller company out of Louisiana but they got smacked around by Katrina and Rita and it just wasn't making enough money. So he found a new job last month. He's working but I think it's more than he expected. He offices at home, which is nice for him, but as much as I hate to admit it, I miss having some alone time to do what I want, when I want. More and more I find myself called in to "help" or to "run an errand" or to "do a favor" isn't that I mind so much as the fact I am flat out exhausted. I come home and do all the things I did before I went back to work AFTER working a full day. And it isn't that I resent it, but I wish for the love of God he could ocassionally figure out how to do things by himself. Every time the computer acts up, he wants me to drop everything and run to help. I guess part of the deal is he hates that everything is on computers and would much rather talk to people face to face, but that concept is gone I am afraid along with its companions of customer service and quality.

But never mind. Today is my self-imposed DAY OFF. I do have to take my Mom to the doctor this morning, but other than that I have a little breathing space so that maybe I can get the bulbs planted in the front yard. Yes I know it's late, but you are supposed to wait until after the second freeze and truly, we didn't get it until last week. Strange weather for a winter in north Texas, but then again, things shift in the universe all the time so why should we be surprised when things change???? My daughter said that in her Physics class they discussed how the polar ice caps change positions every 5000 years or so contributing to weather changes. She noticed that around her birthday when she was little, it would get cold early in December, immediately after. Our winters here have come progressively later since that time with one of the coldest ones occurring in late January. I realize that isn't odd for our more northern neighbors, but its very strange for north Texas. We even had snow flurries in late February-a time when historically it's in the 60's during the day. So a shift in the universe, global warming, whatever, things are changing.

I don't think people do really well with change. I think that accounts for people that stay in bad marriages, bad jobs and bad situations. While they "know" there is something better, it's either too scary or too much work to try to move on. I think this is especially true of men in bad marriages. I work with a man who has four little girls and they are expecting their fourth. Two were hers from a previous marriage. Last week she cleaned out the bank accounts, took their only car, took the kids from school and left town. Now no one knows what goes on behind closed doors, but this guy seems to be a decent sort that has his girls pictures as his screensaver, so I feel sorry for the guy. No money until payday, no car-so he's sponging rides off of other people. He got out of the Army two years ago and finished college and started teaching. I guess with four kids and no money, his wife got tired of scrimping for everything. I have to admit that is a grind since I have been doing it for nearly six years. It takes alot of personal strength. The sad thing is she did the exact same thing last year which is why he left a job that he loved in a private school for a better paying one in a public school. It's sad.
As for my day off, I intend to clean out the fridge, plant those bulbs, clean out the chinchilla's cage and try to get a copy of TurboTax that will actually work. Argh. I know doing taxes doesn't sound like a nifty day off activity, but in terms of making One Less Thing To Do-it rocks.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Momma said there'd be days like this....

Sometimes I just wonder if it's worth it all. Not to sound dramatic, but what really would happen if I just didn't show up to work tomorrow. Now keep in mind, I teach high school and usually I like my job, but there are days when I am not sure why I keep up with things. I see slackers in all professions, but in mine it hurts worse. Every time some dumb bimbo seduces a 16 year old (and really folks, I teach these kids, it wouldn't take much....)it brings our whole profession down to the level just a little above lawyers in esteem. I hate it when people get that "oooooo" look on their faces when I say I teach high school. Their thoughts seem to go in one of two directions. Either I am the stupidest person on earth and couldn't get a job answering phones for the local cable company OR I am a lazy person who "enjoys my three months off every summer".

These attitudes would seem to permeate the population at large and the Legislature of the Great State of Texas in particular. Word to your Mother dudes....we work our tails off. I get to school at 7:15, work in the library until the first class. Teach for 6 and a half hours with a luxurious 25 minute break for lunch (13 minutes if you count the time it takes to nuke a Lean Cuisine to an edible level of warmth) leave at 4:15 and "enjoy" a two and a half month "vacation" wherein I go to classes, write curriculum and beg local businesses for supplies that we can't afford since in our state we have a education committee that likes us to implement change with the ability of a Macgyver.

In short, we are assumed to be mystics that can change water into wine and air into textbooks. Note to the State Lege-we just got our books for the 2005 school year three weeks ago. Nice timing guys. In my case, I would like to see
every single incumbent removed from office.
No politicking, no party caucuses, simply voting down one incumbent after another until "someone" gets the message that you can't just make laws and rule and regulations unless you also create the ways and means to FUND THEM. That is what a Ways and Means Committee is supposed to be for. But then again, an Education Committee is supposed to be "for" education, but in the past two years they have run away, blocked, ignored and avoided anything remotely like adequate funding for education. So phooey on them and a pox on all their houses.

PS. To anyone and everyone in Arlington Texas, regardless of political affiliation, please vote Grusendorf out in the primary. I can't vote there because I don't live there, but he's doing a huge amount of harm to our state schools by grinding his own ax and playing his own little agenda. Please spread the word.

Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day. How about we all take a minute to count our blessings and show some appreciation to those that are often maligned and ignored? Thank the clerk that gives you change for that MochaFrappaHalfALatte that you over order to death. Thank the kid in the fastfood line that remembers NOT to put the pickles on your hamburger. Thank the neighbor who managed to miss hitting your mailbox despite driving an SUV so large that the first time it rounded the corner, natives started bowing because they thought their was a solar eclipse. Show your appreciation for the meter reader that adds just that little extra onto your bill just to show she/he is looking out for you. Sincerely thank the newspaper delivery person who thoughtfully tucked an empty envelope into today's paper just so you wouldn't have to look up his number.

Valentines Day used to be about wishing happiness and showing love for others. It's become just another commercial holiday. I have heard that some schools are banning Valentines from the classroom. I don't know how I feel about that exactly. On one hand, I remember making construction paper hearts and pasting them onto shoeboxes to make Valentine Mailboxes. I also remember the popular kids getting alot more. Some teachers insisted that everyone would give everyone a valentine. I know my mom did. It seemed fair at the time, just like having everyone or at least all the girls in your class invited to your birthday party. I don't know whether kids have really gotten meaner or if their parents have encouraged behavior that overtly excludes those who aren't up to social snuff as it were. I don't send valentines anymore, except to my husband and kids. It isn't that I don't appreciate others, or even that I don't love other people. I just figure that they have their own lives and don't need me to validate their existence. Perhaps I am wrong. So nevertheless, I do hope that whoever reads this finds their love in life, whoever or whatever they may be. (I felt I had to include that just to be fair, after all I have no idea who is reading this....)Happy Valentines' Day.

Monday, February 13, 2006

So now it's Monday....

Okay. So the VP shot a guy. The media has a 24 hour field day and one reporter actually has the gall to ask "if it would be a more serious story if the man shot had died...." Ahem. So much for the Fourth Estate and intellectual acuity. *sigh* I am not a big hunter myself although many people in more rural areas of our state are as if their right. Hunting is a sport, it has common sense rules which if everyone adheres to them, nobody gets hurt. You never ever walk in the line of fire. Never. never ......Never. Bird and Buckshot scatter a wide range so you really shouldn't even get close to the shooter. This guy did and he caught a load of shot. I am glad he didn't die and I am sorry he was hurt. I am sure that the VP feels the same way. The Total Idiots that are calling for his resignation or who, like the Brady's, are misguided to the point that they seem to feel this was a case of the VP deliberately shooting someone, as in assault with a deadly weapon, need to look into the case a little be more closely. It's scary and sad, but not an assault. The victim can press civil charges if he wants, but usually unless the injury is life threatening to the point that survivors enter the picture, the case is settled by insurance companies and everyone goes their own way. I think Shakespeare had it right, only he was talking about actors "Full of sound and fury signifying NOTHING......"

Saturday, February 11, 2006

So Here We Are....

First, a bit of background. I am
~Texan (native born as opposed to adopted)
~Middle of the road conservative (Somewhat liberal in regard to social/educational/personal concerns, usually conservative in terms of safety/finance/security)
~A Wife and mother (Three kids, all great, two in college one in high school)
~A Teacher (I teach high school art, including what I hope will be an AP Art History class next fall)
~Pet owner/Animal lover (I have five pets, all foundlings, including a rabbit, a chinchilla, a conure, a turtle and a wonderful Golden Retriever Mix known as Indy)
- Disclaimer-while I love pets to a ridiculous degree, I am not one of those disillusioned souls that confuse animals with people. Nor would I hurt others or damage private property in order to achieve misguided goals. In short, I'm not a big fan of PETA and their ilk.- On With The Pixie Hats
(with many apologies to Monty Python, et al.)
My opinion, and it is my own after reading far too many apologists on either side of the issue, is that we are headed to a very bad place internationally. I read a good deal of history. And the epithet "Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it..." applies to current situations in the world. I make no claim as an authority on any religion, not even my own, but I do know that the concept of separation of church and state occurred for a very good reason, and that was by placing religion at the head of any nation, you end up with the minorities' beliefs being trampled and ignored. Ask ethnic Kurds how their lives were handled. Better yet, find out how Coptic Christians fair in the Middle East. Theocracy was singularly responsible for that period in time known as the Middle or Dark Ages. (not to mention some nasty pogroms) Although their were pockets of advancement in science, mathematics and other fields most of the European population was stagnant and trapped in cycles of poverty, war and plague. The increasing strength of the European nation-state and the further advancement of monarchy and government that were moved away from the control of a religious center. This helped to create governments that could serve all sectors of their population because the religious views of the people served was not the main factor in whether they recieved aid.

Islam wants to change that. Although this is not a blanket condemnation of Islam as a religion, there do appear to be people in power within the Muslim hierarchy that want what amounts to a World War. How else can you explain the burning of embassies and killing of people because of a CARTOON??? And you expect the rest of the world to take you seriously????? This isn't a game and we aren't living in the Middle Ages. Instead this plays into the stereotype of the Muslim as Irrational Nationalist Militant. And frankly, when I hear that some Muslims want to see the flag of Islam flying over Parliment, it brings to mind that their are no intentions by the militant Islamists to compromise on anything or even to adhere to negotiated treaties. Sharia law is what they want. And Sharia law says that infidels-or in layman's terms the Rest of the World-are second class, that they should be taxed for not bowing to their Prophet and that any promise or agreement made with someone outside of the faith, doesn't have to be honored.

Let's think about that for a minute. ................
That means that treaties, business agreements, contracts, banking concerns, home loans and other arrangements do not have to be honored in the terms of Sharia law. So how are we supposed to believe that if say, Iran, is permitted to enrich plutonium for energy use, which is pretty funny since they sit on top of one of the world's richest oil fields, isnt' going to breech a treaty designed to keep them out of the Nuclear Family? You can't. Even the imams say you can't. Look at where so much of the Islamist violence is occurring-Indonesia, Malyasia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt on to Turkey where just yesterday a Catholic priest was shot and killed while at prayer in his church by a 16 year old adherent to Islamic rhetoric. Have you looked at where the history of the Islamic faith? AT times the empire reached from China and India to France. Is there any question that some radical Islamists would like to reinstate such limits. You may want to check out this link.

Sorry to ramble on so, but I am worried. As they say, all politics is local. I know there are a number of mosques in our area and I have a good number of Muslim students. I am not of the opinion that all Muslims are bent on world domination. But it worries me considerably when I see protesters in downtown Dallas, spouting their hatred and showing their anti-American and anti-Israel signs when THE U.S. NEWS AND ISRAELI NEWS DIDN'T SHOW THE CARTOONS. Let me repeat that a little louder....

Yet-due to the irrational take that some Muslims have on life, and I have run into this with students who get disturbing information regarding the world from relatives overseas and older siblings at colleges and universities everywhere, I have to wonder, What In The World is being taught in mosques under the guise of religion. I used to teach C.C.D. at my Catholic church. We never relived The Inquisition nor did we go out and find someone to crucify (although I have heard that is done in some fundamental type churches.....ahem......euw.) While it's great to have traditions, Islam in the Middle East seems to be far more concerned with maintaining the status quo than in stepping out of the 12th century. Their attempt to stampede the world into an open World War is terrifying. All the more so that if attacks occur on our shores, I have no doubt every apologist for accommodation in Congress will sign onto the nuclear option. I don't like it, I don't like the idea of innocent people being hurt. But then again, after 9.11.2001, is there any question that New World Ways are not the same as Old World mentality?

We are talking of an area of the world in which Zarathustra lived and created a belief in what is known as absolutism. This predated all these religions by centuries and the belief spread to largely the same geographic areas as the outer limits of the Muslim Empire in antiquity. It is the underlying current for all of the religions that started their including Christianity. It is a cultural belief so attached to the behavior that many of the Middle Eastern nations have traditions that are not part of the Quran, but of this earlier belief system. It is a system that supports Eye for an Eye revenge, blood feuds and a My Way or the Highway view of everything in life. When you look at the actions of Iran, Syria and their religious leaders, are they acting in the name of Islam or in the name of a self-centered concept of the world around them and their place in it. This is the same attitude that led Galileo to be excommunicated by the Catholic Church, but then again, that was 500 years ago. Shouldn't people have grown more in that time unless their focus is so artificially narrow that it is hamstrung from conception? I don't plan on donning a hajib or burka any time soon. I won't prevent anyone else from doing what they want in the name of their religion, but their rights end where mine begin. I think many Americans and Europeans need to make those limits a little more clear.