Friday, February 29, 2008

Pray for me

Tomorrow I'm bringing MM to my 3-hour class.

God help us.

Better pray for the professor, too, I guess.

I've got treats and dvds and books and quiet toys. And headphones for same.

MM has promised to be vewy, vewy quiet during the class. He'll get a Lego Star Wars kit on the way home if he can do it!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Did you hear the one about the two male flightless water fowl? UPDATED

Yeah. Guess which county I live in? We're that silly place that got itself ridiculed on The View.

So a whole group of right-minded folks are going to dress up in black-and-white (penguins! Get it?) and go to protest at the school board meeting tonight.

I wish I could be there, but MS will represent for the Mystery Household. They won't have any choice but to pay attention to him, too. Since, you know, all the smilingsmilingsmiling gives him power of the purse over the school board.

UPDATE: Here's a link to an article about the meeting which includes some of MS's comments.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Tim...something. Tom? NO! WILL! Now, what was his last name?

I laughed and laughed and laughed. That weeping, shuddering, silently roaring laugh that there is no way to stop. Tears rolled down my cheeks, I had a coughing fit, I laughed some more. Oh my goodness, it was funny.

And there's no way to explain why. The way he said it. The stabbing finger on "no! Will!" The bemused end of the statement. I was convulsed with laughter.

Later, at the lunch table, I nearly started in again, just at the memory of it.

Good Lord, but it was funny.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

On the plus side...

MM can read the instructions on his bottle of medicine.

He's "very advanced" according to his teacher, Miss MomOfTwins. He and two other kids in his class are in the "fluent readers" group, which means they are reading and comprehending on a first grade level or above. And he seems to have a natural grasp of some math concepts, like the reversibility of formulas and some multiplication. His only issues are those of focus and following directions when he's not interested. According to his teacher, he's right about average on that, so no worries at the moment about ADD. He does do better following directions when he gets to read the instructions himself rather than being told, so they're going to experiment with that a bit.

Yesterday he spent hours putting together a new Lego Star Wars kit we bought. Two hours working on the Hailfire Droid, a break for dinner, and another 45 minutes putting together the Spider Droid (times include sorting out the pieces). Then he drew a picture of the super droid. He did most of it himself, only asking me for help on things his hands physically couldn't do yet (like doing the last link to make the loop for the tank treads). And even then, he told me exactly how to do it.

I reminded him that last year he'd gotten a Lego Star Wars kit and he couldn't do it himself, he needed help with the directions and with putting it together and he couldn't concentrate long enough for us to do it in one go. "Isn't it amazing how much more grown-up you are?" I asked him. "I love seeing you do things you weren't able to do before. I love watching you become a bigger boy and do all the things a bigger boy can do."

He was very pleased.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


I sent a link to this video to 4 professors who I have had for Biology 103 & 104 (intro); Biology 124 (anatomy and physiology) lecture and lab; and History of Psychology

All have discussed evolution and Darwin in class.

I received two responses back. One (from my bio 104 & 105 professor, whom I adore) said, "That was great, thanks for sharing!" Which made me feel good.

The other (from my anatomy and physiology lecturer) said, "I found your attachment offensive". Because he's mocking Christian (big C) beliefs. She didn't like "Defenders of Marriage" either (I didn't send it, she watched it on her own initiiative.)

I wrote back that I was sorry for having offended. I also wrote that I don't think RZ is mocking Christian beliefs; I think he's mocking intolerance, willful ignorance, and hypocrisy. Then I apologized again.

I keep forgetting that not everyone was raised listening to Tom Lehrer, nor have most people heard of Christine Lavin. Oh well.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Why I love "The Franchise Affair" by Josephine Tey

"You see, I am not a marrying woman. I don't want to have to put up with someone else's crochets, someone else's demands, someone else's colds in the head. Mother and I suit each other perfectly because we make no demands on each other. If one of us has a cold in the head, she retires to her room without fuss and doses her disgusting self until she is fit for human society again."

Written in 1949, The Franchise Affair is acknowledged to be one of the best mysteries of all time. It has been cited in real-live cases. A journalist, reporting on a case of some celebrity a few years ago wrote: "How could such a thing happen? Hadn't any of them read The Franchise Affair?"

My copy is a paperback printed in 1988. Beautiful cover. I regret that this particular edition is out of print and that it is only available in a less-pretty trade-sized edition.

The story revolves around an attorney who is hired by a woman who has been accused of enslaving a young girl and keeping her a prisoner in her house. The attorney believes in the woman's denials and does his utmost to find out what really happened to the girl during the two weeks she claims she was held prisoner. It is well-plotted, tightly written, and very snarky. Many mystery mavens rank Tey higher than Christie, and I have to agree. Christie was more prolific (Tey wrote just eight mysteries), but Tey's books are all better than Christie's best.

A friend of mine is flying to Korea tomorrow and I lent her another Tey, Brat Farrar, to take with her. "Is it good?" she asked. I pointed out the broken binding and the banged up corners. "I've read it at least 20 times. Judge for yourself."

The same goes for The Franchise Affair. I've read it at least 20 times. Judge for yourself.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

How I Spent Valentine's Day by Mystery Mommy

My Valentine's Day started 4 weeks ago when I bought a box of chocolates for the 2 fellows I live with. Lindor Milk Chocolate Balls in a heart-shaped tin with rhinestones on it. I know my audience. MS will eat more chocolates than MM, but MM will keep the tin.

I cleverly hid the box in a plastic grocery bag on a big pile of papers on my desk. Neither of the fellows I live with noticed. Sometimes being messy is an asset.

Valentine's Day continued yesterday when I realized in a panic that I had not gotten any cards for MM to hand out in school. I remedied this situation with a judicious application of Microsoft Word 2003, clip-art, and Word-Art (so that I could flip the interior text upside-down). I chose clip-art that would look good in shades of black and grey, because I will NOT sit around and wait for 33 cards to print out of an ink-jet printer and that is that.

Then, after we ate dinner, I put MM to work signing his name to all 33 cards. Next year, I will add his name to the interior message and have him write his class-mates' names instead. I had that job this year. There are 3 girls in his class with 3 different variations on a common name (imagine a Liz, a Lisa, and a Liza - but that's not their names).

This morning was red clothes and chocolate and going to school. MS came to meet me at school and sat in on RequiredClassThatHasAMisleadingName. Then we came home and I went to a meeting.

The End.

(We're eating out tomorrow. MM's school is doing Parents' Night Out)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Fun Election Day Facts

I was #620 out of about 720 voters at my precinct today. MM was a great help. He was disappointed he wasn't allowed to mark the ballot, but he put it in the machine for me. They'd run out of stickers but he still thought Democracy in Action is on par with ice cream.

And I'm starting to agree with him. Look at this factolicious goodness!

Dems outvoted Reps by more than two to one! Statewide! Heck, across the whole fireplacing region!

Nearly three times the number of expected voters came out today - our precinct had to get more ballots! (They were expecting an 8% turnout and got 21.23%) Is it any surprise they ran out of stickers?

Holy shit, people! Virginia really might go blue this year!

This is amazingly exciting! WOOT!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I love Gene Weingarten

Today's chat is dedicated to one of my favorite musical artists of all time: Tom Lehrer. Go on and read it, I'll wait....

Okay, did you catch that bit about Roy Zimmerman? I'd never heard of this guy. But boy, I am hooked!

Oh, and it's nice to know that Tom Lehrer and I voted the same way.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Why I love "The Shuttle" by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Shuttle, which I bought at a used book store for $2.00, was written in 1907. I don't believe I have a first edition, but it might very well be. It's not in great condition, it's very much a "reading" copy.

Again, like Skating Shoes, it smells divine. I wish I could hold it up under your nose. See how good it smells?

The book revolves around a young woman, Bettina, the daughter of a man so wealthy that he's ranked among the Rockefellers and Morgans. Her older sister married an impoverished English lord, left America to go live with him and was pretty much never heard from since. The reader finds that the husband, Sir Nigel Anstruther, is abusive. Bettina Vanderpoel (called Betty mostly) is a highly intelligent girl, better educated than most young debutants of the era, and has a decided and stubborn personality. She's determined to go and rescue her sister...and she does. She also has firm opinions on philanthropy and is very practical.

Here's an example of the kind of heroine we're dealing with here: There is an epidemic in a nearby village, and Lord Mount Dunstan (who is in love with Betty, but poor as a church mouse and too proud to ask a wealthy woman to marry him) has to figure out a way to help his villagers and he basically asks himself "What Would Betty Do?" so he makes his grand ballroom (practically the only room without a leaky roof) into a hospital for the sick villagers. But he still has no real way to get them medical help:

...But even before he had left the house, the problem was solved for them. The solving of it lay in the note Miss Vanderpoel had written the night before at Stornham
...[the vicar] opened the note and read it gravely, and then as gravely, though with a change of expression, handed it to Mount Dunstan.
"Yes, she is a creature of action. She has heard and understood at once, and she has done something. It is immensely practical - it is fine - it - it is lovable."
"Do you mind my keeping it?" Mount Dunstan asked, after he had read it.
"Keep it by all means," the vicar answered. "It is worth keeping."
But it was quite brief. She had heard of the outbreak of fever among the hop pickers, and asked to be allowed to give help to the people who were suffering. They would need prompt aid. She chanced to know something of the requirements of such cases, and had written to London for certain supplies which would be sent to them at once. She had also written for nurses, who would be needed above all else. Might she ask Mr. Penzance to kindly call upon her for any further assistance required.
...She had, in fact, gone to London to consult an eminent physician, who was an authority of world-wide reputation...he had experienced a new sensation in the visit paid him by an indubitably modern young beauty, who wasted no word, and whose eyes, while he answered her amazingly clear questions, were as intelligently intent as those of an ardent and serious young medical student. What a surgical nurse she would have made! It seemed almost a pity that she evidently belonged to a class the members of which are rich enough to undertake the charge of entire epidemics, but who do not usually give themselves to such work, especially when they are young and astonishing in the matter of looks.
Betty is basically Sara Crewe, if she had been American and her father had not died after he found the diamond mines. She does rescue her sister. And Mount Dunstan finally comes off his high horse. And the evil brother-in-law gets what he deserves, pretty much.

Oh, it's over-the-top in many ways but it's so goooooood. And it's WAAAAY ahead of it's time in dealing with spousal abuse, rape, and other feminist issues.

I love, love, love this book.

Alas, it's out of print. 5/22/15 ETA: It's available on KINDLE! Not all these versions are unabridged, please choose wisely.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


One of the benefits of the outcome of all that smilingsmilingsmiling is that I get to go to functions (hereafter called fxns, since that is how I abbreviate it in notes). Three weeks in a row, now, I have gone to dinners honoring people who drive around in red and yellow trucks that go woo ah woo ah. These are people who volunteer to run into places most people run out of and who take other people quickquickquick to the hospital.*

They take volunteers as young as fourteen and tonight I met a man who was in his 80's and still volunteering (he trains others now).

I've never seen so many strong people in one place. And they are all, each and every one, built on a broad scale. S H O U L D E R S. These are rugby players bodies, football players bodies. Men and women both built big and strong. And the women wearing strapless or backless gowns because they know that their bodies are strong and healthy. They prove it to themselves every day. These women can pick up grown men and make it look as easy as me picking up Muffin Man.

I am more grateful than I can say for having the opportunity to go to these fxns and meet these incredible people. Incredible for what they do, and for the confidence in themselves that it gives them.

*Each st8n has their own banquet. They are all run somewhat independently of each other.

Friday, February 08, 2008


Ramblin' Red tagged me for seven random things....

  1. We got an Aero garden for Christmas and it came with Herbs growing kit: chives; mint; parsley; dill; two kinds of basil; and cilantro. And you all know how I feel about cilantro, right? So, guess which one didn't sprout? MS keeps joking that I gave it the evil eye.
  2. I have a weird habit of smelling my hair. I hold a bunch of it in front of my nose and hold it there when I'm thinking. This is one of the reasons I get fed up with longer hair and cut it off periodically. Then I forget and grow it again. I do like the smell, but I hate this habit. It looks ridiculous.
  3. The other habit I have is not so easy to break. I've been chewing my fingers again. Not the nails, the fingers themselves. Quite painful, really. But, apparently not painful enough for me to just flipping quit it already.
  4. We've been doing a pretty good job of keeping the downstairs presentable for company (though right now it looks like a toyshop exploded in our living room).
  5. A friend of mine just told me that she's lost a lot of weight in a very short time on an 800 calorie-a-day diet. Then she said, "and I'm going crazy." I sent her to Junkfood Science.
  6. I've felt like crying ever since. Why do we do this to ourselves? She's a beautiful, tall, voluptuous woman. She has a beautiful, tall daughter who is going to be voluptuous.
  7. And I've been thinking about this kind of shit all week anyway because MM's pediatrician was concerned that while MM is in the 50th percentile for height, he's only in the 10th percentile for weight. So I said, "He's growing, his skin tone and color are good. He's eating well, from multiple food groups. He's active and energetic. He's got good muscle tone. I'm not worried." She conceded those facts. I told her that if any one of those facts changes I will bring him in pronto. She said that would be fine. I want to keep MM feeling good about himself and food.*
TAG! You're it if you want to be!
*I will offer him more snacks during the day on weekends, since he gets one snack in the morning before lunch and then two snacks in the afternoon at school and I forget 'cause I'm not hungry, but he often is.


MM was in a school play today. The Wizard of Oz.

Guess which character he was?

Am I the only one in the world who wants to start sobbing when I see 10 kindergarteners in costume, putting on a show? They're so proud all over their little selves and they're so big and so little and so cute and so serious and I want to eat them up and make them stay just like that, just as they are, for all time.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Why I love Skating Shoes

One particularly beastly day, when it looked every minute as if it were going to rain and never quite did, Harriet was coming home from the river feeling as blue as a lobelia, when a car stopped beside her.

"Hullo, Harriet. How are you getting on?"

Harriet had been so deep in gloom because she was cold and tired that she had not noticed the car, but as he spoke she saw Doctor Phillipson. Quite suddenly everything she had been thinking about spindly legs and fresh air and not going to school came over her in a wave and she did what she would never have done in the ordinary way: she told the doctor exactly what she thought of his treatment.

"How would you feel if you were made to walk up and down a river in almost winter, all by yourself, getting colder and colder, and bored-er and bored-er, with absolutely nothing to do, and not allowed to stay indoors for one minute because you'd been ill and your doctor said you'd got to have fresh air? I feel simply terrible, and I shouldn't think I'll ever, ever get well again."...

..."I must say," he agreed, "you do look a miserable little specimen. I hoped you'd pick up after that convalescent home the hospital sent you to."

Harriet looked at him sadly, for she thought he was too nice to be so ignorant.

"I don't see why I should have got better at that convalescent home."

"It's a famous place."

"But it's at the top of a cliff, and everything goes on at the bottom of the cliff, sea-bathing and the sands and everything nice like that. I could never go down because my legs were too wobbly to bring me back."

The doctor muttered something under his breath which sounded like "idiots"...

-Skating Shoes by Noel Streatfield (pp 6-8, from the second printing of the 1951 edition.)

Later that evening, the doctor pays a call on Harriet's parents and suggests that Harriet take up skating to strengthen her legs. The book is filled with fully-drawn characters, all of whom are loveable and flawed. Not one of them says anything that another character could have said, they are all completely individual and themselves.

And the book smells good in the way only a book that is over 50 years old and has been read over and over again can. It's not musty or moldy, it's old and papery and salty.

And it's out of print, as Meg Ryan's character in You've Got Mail correctly points out. But countless Bratz books are IN print. How does that happen?

Madeleine asks...

"You aren't serious about identifying the kids in that picture are you?"

Why, yes! Yes I am! MM was the only one in a striped blue and black shirt. LovesHighSchoolMusical was the only one with a ponytail. That is definitely CanYouBelieveShe'sOnlySix's chin. The only one that's iffy is MomBakesBrownies. It might actually be SwamWithUsLastSummer. Hmmm. Okay, I'll concede that bottom left is SwamWithUsLastSummer, but I stand by the rest.

The best thing about the picture, actually, is that it captures perfectly the light and movement and general other-worldly-ness that is Laser Tag.

"Is it just me, or is the funky lighting completely disorienting?"

Again, yes. Yes it totally is. Actually, it made me kind of nauseated. But the kids just loved it.

Monday, February 04, 2008

RB: Now we are six (NOW WITH PICTURES!)

  • First off, my SIL is profoundly awesome. She made a Yoda cake. The folks at the Laser Tag place said they had never seen a more fabulous cake. And they see at least three a day on the weekends.
Yoda is a cake all by himself, then there are little star cakes holding candles, then there are little action figures on a desert of raw sugar.
  • It tasted good too.
  • MM had a blast at his party (HA! A blast! Playing laser tag! I kill myself).
That's MM in the striped shirt. LovesHighSchoolMusical is next to him (with the ponytail), MomBakesBrownies is on the far left, and CanYouBelieveShe'sOnlySix is upper right.

  • My mom and stepdad were here and a lovely time was had by all from Friday onward.
  • MM was offended that he had to have his Hep A shot ON. HIS. BIRTHDAY.
  • We have leftover Yoda cake, double-chocolate cake from Friday's family celebration, and brownies that the mom of one of MM's friends made at MM's request.
  • Please come visit and bring a fork.
  • MM loves his presents. Especially the big one from us...
  • ...a used PS2!!! With....
  • He doesn't want to stop playing.
  • Used game systems are cheap! And he doesn't know the difference! And neither do we, come to that.

How was your weekend?