Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Six Random Things

It's a buffet of randomness this evening: here are links from all over the internets, telling you all kinds of things you didn't even know you needed to learn. Enjoy.

1. I’m obviously in the wrong profession. I wonder if I could re-up my lifeguard certification. Then again, is it too late to spend my days in a bathing suit? Probably so. Shucks.

2. I knew there was a reason I’m glad that I’m too broke for liposuction. It would have been a waste of money anyway! See how things work out...

3. How gross is canola oil? Turns out, it's really, really gross. Chemical solvents are used in its processing, and the level of heat in that processing likely destroys any Omega 3s in the oil – actually, it turns them into free radicals (hey, don’t they cause cancer or something?). Can anyone say "butter"? It sounds a lot better to me than "hexane".

4. Do you think I’d get away with this if I wrote this piece from the opposing perspective? Nah - me neither. Thank goodness, since, not being an actual racist or anything, I wouldn't really want to.

5. Tell me Queen Elizabeth isn’t so cute? And the scarf? That just makes it perfect.

6. So, you’ve been letting the children play with fire again, have you? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. We even let them play with knives around here.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Shopping Adventures

We went to the Galleria tonight to run some errands (something we never, ever do, especially all 4 of us together) and the boys were a little, well, over-excited about it.

First they amused themselves while Husband got a new suit:

Then we went upstairs to get One a tie for his upcoming "promotion ceremony" at the end of the school year. One, of course, wanted the.most.conservative.tie.ever.made. He makes his father look like a GQ-reading fashion junkie. Two, on the other hand, spent his time in the boys' department trying on blazers and suit coats. He liked the simple navy two-button blazer, of course, but then he found a navy pinstripe Joseph Abboud suit jacket ($165, thankyouverymuch) and we had to bribe him with a visit to the Toll House cookie store out in the mall to get him out of the jacket and out the door. He was addicted to his own reflection while wearing that jacket - he stared and he turned sideways and he buttoned and unbuttoned - I've never seen anything like it, at least not in an 8 year old boy. One thing is completely certain: that child is not working retail in high school and college. I can't afford to pay the bill when he's done.

U.S. of A.

Compare and contrast:

A teacher in MA refused to hang her student's drawing of the American flag in the classroom, or even allow him to hang it from his desk.


We just finished watching the video of Two's (public) school music performance entitled "America's Heart", in which children from 30+ birth countries sang five songs devoted to their love of the USA. Complete with flag drawings up on a large screen during the last song, Small Part of the World.

Why do we live in Texas again? Oh, wait - I remember.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Red Light Cameras: No Surprises

The Houston Chronicle reported today that, to no one's surprise:

"In the five months after Houston voters forced city officials to turn off a camera surveillance system that fined motorists for running red lights, traffic accidents at those 50 intersections with 70 cameras have decreased 16 percent, according to recently released data."

But wait: the police told Houstonians during the last election, when we voted to rid ourselves of these cameras, that the cameras "save lives" and "reduce accidents". What happened? They say it's the lack of rain that's making all the difference (hmmm). I say: they weren't being honest with us in the first place. Considering the amount of money the owner of the cameras was getting from the red light tickets, and that the cameras' owner paid for many of the ads in support of keeping the cameras, I'm thinking ... it ain't the weather.

I looked at the data in the chart, and what I find almost as interesting are the stats on the three biggest intersections for accidents. Two of them are at Beechnut and the Beltway, and one is at South Main at the Loop. I drove Beechnut to the Sam and then on to work for five years, and Beechnut from 59 to the Sam is like a racetrack. It's three lanes in each direction, apartments and business lining the street, and yet everyone drives over 50 mph no matter what. Now that I don't have to take that route to work, I wouldn't drive over there if you paid me. I'm not surprised there were a substantial number of accidents there before and after the cameras. Nor am I surprised about the Loop at South Main statistics. That's pretty close to home for me, and again, not a route I want to drive on a regular basis. South Main changes from a highway-like road to a regular street at the Loop, and generally traffic comes north on Main toward the Loop at well over 50 mph. There could be three times the accidents at that intersection than there are now and I wouldn't be shocked.

So, in short, three of the most dangerous intersections in Houston got worse without cameras, and just about every other one got safer. I still think we're better off without them. Good riddance.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Second Grade Humor

Two is full of jokes lately. He eats lunch at school with a few boys who love to trade them back and forth, and he likes to try to make up his own as well. Here are some of the latest ones:

Two: Why did the duck cross the road?

Me (the hapless sucker, every time): I don't know - why?

Two: The chicken was sleeping.

Two: What day of the week do potatoes hate?

Me: I don't know.

Two: Friday, of course.

Two: What did the alien say to the measuring cup?

Me: I have no idea.

Two: Take me to your liter.

Two: What did the cat say to its owner?

Me: I don't know.

Two: "Meow." Cats can't talk, mom.

He claims to have made up the first and last ones. Whether that's true or not - who can tell? All Two really knows is: this is fun.

Metro Dash

This looks like so much fun! Who wants to do this with me next year?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Feast

We ate well today at the GW household. Husband outdid himself yet again with his brisket and an asian-style grilled veg dish; I made pea salad and tomato salad, as well as a simple strawberry shortcake for dessert. My boys spoiled me well and truly today: not only did I eat like a queen, they also gave me the nifty video camera with which I filmed the boys for the post just above, and a new camera lens that I took all of today's pictures with. Hopefully I'll get better with the latter in short order. Oy.

I think a good day was had by all. I know I had one. Thanks so much to my trio of hardworking, loving guys. I definitely don't deserve even one of you.

And now, of course, some pictures. Can you say "smoke ring"? I can.

This had some smoky, sesame oil, bit of spice thing going on. It was amazing.

I will never get tired of tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzerella. Ever.

Preparing for pea salad:

And the best way to end the day:

This is the nicest picture I took today with the new lens. Lambie looks 75% sweeter than she is in real life. Technology is an amazing thing, isn't it?

I hope your day was as good as ours was. Happy, all.

Happy Mother's Day to my Mom


Nicholas Kristof writes in the New York Times today that the best way to "save" mothers in the developing world is to ... prevent them from becoming mothers in the first place.

I know, you're thinking: Tari, it's not April 1st. This is not the time for such jokes. But really, I'm not joking. On this of all days in the year someone actually thinks it's a good time to make such a suggestion.

Is maternal mortality a huge problem in developing countries? Hell yes. Do women need more access to pre-natal care, trained assistance during delivery and help developing good mothering habits (like breast-feeding) post-birth? Good Lord, they do. Look at some of the statistics about becoming a mother in Ethiopia. Look at the work that the Livesays and their friends are doing in Haiti. Look just about anywhere in the developing world and you'll see that maternal mortality and infant mortality are huge problems we need to face up to and get to work on. This is a need that must be addressed.

But what is not a "need" is for someone like Mr. Kristof to use this day (or any day of the year, really) to spend time expressing that delightful opinion, described by P.J. O'Rourke as, "just enough of me, way too much of you." Guess what? Many people in the developing world want to be parents. They want to have children because they actually feel the same way about their children as we do about ours. I know: it's surprising, but they really do. They choose to have children for many of the same reasons we choose to, and it's not helpful to tell them they should make a different choice, because we think we know better than they do what's best for them.

If we want to truly help others, we need to start by giving them the dignity of assuming that they want what's best for them. We should do whatever we can to ensure that the choices they make are successful ones, but we don't need to make up their minds for them.

Mother's Day "Aaaaawwwwwww" Moment

Is there anything sweeter than an eight year old boy?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Candidate

One spent 3 1/2 hours at taekwondo today and emerrged an official candidate for his 1st dan. Yes, we have a real, live black belt candidate in our midst. We would have two of them, but Two's pre-test will have to wait until he recovers from the stomach bug that struck him down last night. Throwing up 12 times in 12 hours does not help one prepare for a 3+ hour test; hopefully he will do his evaluation some time this week and (fingers crossed) will come home with his own application - complete with essay, of course.

Right now we are all very proud of One, who did all nine patterns so well he was never asked to repeat one, and who broke two out of three boards on the first try (#3 took 3 tries, but nobody's perfect). He loved the entire pre-test experience so much I think he will enjoy his actual black belt test more than any human being has the right to enjoy such a stressful event. He even had time for commentatry on the four 5th through 8th degree masters who examined him today. Master P "has a head like polished wood - it gleams!", Master G "looks like he always looks, part okay and part like he might be mad at you", Master M "was the nicest one, with lots of white hair and a big smile", and Master S "stared at me through his glasses like a basilisk the entire test." Even in the middle of a test, One was taking notes.

Congratulations to my amazing 11 year old!

Laundry Bandit

I just know Wyatt Earp's mama didn't have to deal with this problem:

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Smoothie Love

I've been enjoying the best smoothie ever lately - one that I pretty much copied from Kristen Howerton at Rage Against The Minivan. Of course I made modifications of my own, because I've never met a recipe I didn't want to play with. It's more fun that way, you see? So here it is - wait, before I write it down, I have to warn you first: it's green. But you're going to love it so much, you're not even going to care ... or even notice after you've had your first sip. Honest.

Mongo Green Smoothie

1 cup Greek yogurt (I like Fage 0%, but there's enough to choose from these days so go with what you like)
1 cup fresh raw spinach
1/2 cup frozen mango (I buy the mango and pineapple already frozen at Whole Foods)
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1/2 cup OJ
1/2 to 1 frozen banana (We always have "banana leftovers" and they're perfect for smoothies. Just peel, break in 1/2 and throw in the freezer in a bag).
Agave to taste

Just throw it all in the blender and go. It takes my KitchenAid blender a while to get this thing together, but it does work eventually.

Be brave: give it a try. It's like a blind date, only better. Cheers.

Texas and Cinco de Mayo

I found this really interesting article today on why Texans have always celebrated Cinco de Mayo, and perhaps why all Americans should as well (the French siding with the Confederacy - really? Wow). The connections to Texas that the article outlines are many: not only was the Cinco de Mayo hero Ignacio Zaragoza born in Texas, but Tejano volunteers went to Mexico to help defeat the French. When they returned, they started the tradition of celebrating this day back here in Texas. As Instapundit is fond of saying: read the whole thing.

I know the celebration of Cinco de Mayo is a new (and perhaps a marketing-fueled) event in most other parts of the US, but here in Texas, it's just another part of our history, too.

Happy Cinco de Mayo, y'all.

What Passes for History

I love Houston, but sometimes it's a freaky place. Especially it's grasp on the concept of "history", as illustrated by this newsletter I found at work today.

Fifteen years = history? Well, not exactly, guys, but nice try. Good luck in 100 years.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Little Reassurance

I have written before about Two and his strange mix of a love of learning and a (shall we say) slight contempt for things like difficult school work and standardized testing. Suffice it to say, he was like this at the beginning of first grade and now, 18 months later, he's still at it. We're slowly coaching him to take schoolwork more seriously, but part of him is still composed of the child who answered no questions out of 140 on the first Stanford test he took. So it was a relief to me today* when I was seated next to a very intelligent and interesting woman who has a daughter now in her mid-twenties, and hear this woman comment on how much her daughter was like Two at this age. As she put it "Katherine never let a little thing like schoolwork get in the way of learning something she was really interested in." Since the Katherine in question is about to receive her PhD in History from Harvard and is the author of a best-selling novel, this made me feel a teeny, tiny bit better about Two and his frustrating habits. Time has yet to tell, but I think my curious, quirky little monster has a very good future ahead of him.

Fingers crossed, all the same. ;)

*Out of an over-active sense of duty I accompanied my mother in law to the Junior League for a luncheon hosted by the volunteer organization of which she is president this year. I-yi-yi.

A Second Marriage?

Me to Two tonight: "Here's your iPad back. I borrowed it to play Scrabble while you were at taekwondo."

Two: "You love Scrabble!"

Me: "Yup, I love Scrabble, especially when you let me borrow your iPad."

Two: "Don't you think it's time the two of you got married, since you love each other so much?"

I'd love to know: when exactly did my eight year old become a supporter of polygamy?

Images from NYC

If you're interested in some great pictures from the impromptu festivities in NYC last night, Ryan Brenizer has some beautiful ones. Also, check out this video from a law school classmate of mine that he made last night.

Am I glad people went out to celebrate? Yes, I am. Not because this is the end-all, be-all victory against terrorism, but because it's symbolic of all the work the men and women who defend us have done over the past ten years. We should celebrate that any time. I am proud to belong to a nation who has men and women willing to sacrifice so much for it, and I am glad that they were the ones to rid the world of such a monster. To all of them I offer my most profound thanks, for this and for all the dirty and thankless jobs they do. Keep it up, y'all.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday in Pictures

Today was an almost-perfect spring Sunday. Although we missed church (Husband didn't feel well this morning - likely he just needed more sleep), the boys did two hours of taekwondo practice, I grocery-shopped, and all four of us did some serious yard work. Then we headed off for our well-earned reward of burgers and fries, followed by s'mores back home. I'm sleepy, full and I smell like woodsmoke: this is a good day. Here it is in pictures.

This is the pile from you-know-where. Why does everything that grows in our yard bite back when you touch it? We're all covered to one degree or another with stab marks and scratches - yikes.

The reward, step one:

Kate Middleton, you ain't got nothing on me: THIS man married me, 15 years ago. Sigh.

Two thinks the beeper is a video game - or at least he pretends he thinks so to amuse himself. I'm taking credit for the fact he doesn't need an actual video game to wait until dinner's ready. Yup, that was all me.

Husband and One make their own amusement while we wait:

Guess who wins?

I don't know why he makes this face ...

It obviously makes One sick when he does, though.

Aaaaaah, waiting is at an end!

When we got home, Husband started the fire while I whittled some new marshmallow sticks. Don't say I wasn't born in the Adirondacks.

One's first marshmallow of the summer:

Two makes his s'more:

And One takes his bite:

Happy Spring, y'all.