Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Links on Wednesday

Seven links for the middle of the week:

1. A good op-ed on the controversy about whether the Girl Scouts are or are not abortion-supporting feminists. The article focuses on two girls who recently left the Girl Scouts and then put up a website explaining why: they felt the organization did not comport with their Catholic values. I have to agree with the author: good for them.

2. From the same online magazine, an excellent piece on a controversial piece of legislation being voted on in Mississippi this fall. To me, scary stuff that takes very important and personal decisions away from the people most concerned about them. Government intervention usually does not = help, and MS is out to prove it.

3. Linked by Instapundit: the importance of s*x to our health - including the fact that men who have s*x at least three times a week reduce their risk of stroke and heart attack by 50%. Yes girls, that's 50%. Better put the kids to bed early a few more nights a week from now on ...

4. Experts are now going to recommend that boys receive the HPV vaccine as well as girls. What say you, MOBs - are you going to line them up and get them the shot? I'm waiting to ask the boys' pediatrician when we go in for flu shots in the next week or so. I'm not a big vaccinophobe, so I don't know that I care much if they get the shot. But I'm sure someone does. Michele Bachmann, call your office...

5. Bettina Siegel at The Lunch Tray is talking about Halloween candy, and you should read it - before Halloween, of course.

6. Did you know you can grow lettuce in a shipping container? Apparently, yes you can. Well, let me just say that you may be able to, and these guys may be able to, but I can't grow anything - not even herbs on the kitchen windowsill. So y'all go take care of the lettuce: me and my black thumb will hide in the corner and stay out of y'all's way.

7. And finally, are vegans ethical or not? Here's an interesting "not" (or a "not any more than us meat eaters", actually) that you might want to check out.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ahoy, Matey!

This morning the boys watched this:

Which, of course, led to this:

Having boys is THE BEST THING, ever.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Lamb's Last Day

Today ay 5pm we will take Lambie to the vet for the last time. Despite that this is the 3rd trip I've made to do this - Oscar and Lucy having preceded Lamb - it completely and utterly sucks. Six short years, for a dog who deserved 20 or more being treated like a princess. I hate today, I hate the cancer that has killed her, I hate knowing that the right thing to do is so hard and I hate doing it anyway. She is so sick. She needs to go. But no matter how many times this happens it never gets remotely easy.

I will hunt up some more pictures of my sweet in a few days, and write a little more about her silly, happy, just-dumb-enough-t0-get-my-way personality. Right now I'm busy saying goodbye.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Don't Know When

I really don't know when I've been this angry. It must have been at least a few days ... I mean years. Here's the ridiculous idiocy that has me furious:

1. It all begins when One's debate club, scheduled for after school today, was cancelled. It was announced to the students only this morning. This isn't bad in and of itself: it just starts the ball rolling. Because then:

2. One's stupid, uncaring, worthless public school didn't bother to call or email parents about said cancellation. Instead, they left it up to 11 year olds to call their parents. On their cell phones. Which we don't (and never will) have for our children. Eleven year olds. Cell phones. Call at the end of the day, 7 1/2 hours after being told to do so. Sure, that works.

3. One decided that he would sit in the office for an hour and a half without asking for help. Without asking "may I use the phone to call my mom?" Without asking "can you look up her cell phone number for me? I seem to have forgotten it?" Nothing. Nada. Zip. He didn't even do his stinking homework while he sat there, thankyouverymuch.

I am definitely angrier at the school for thinking they have ZERO responsibility in this situation. An email? A phone call? Something? They knew from 8am on that this was happening, and we got ... nothing. Worthless people sucking up my tax dollars, that's what they are. I really don't care one damn bit that this is middle school - they're still children, for Heaven's sake. The adults are still adults, aren't they? Who is responsible for whom in this situation? I'm guessing it's adults responsible for children - but what do I know? Obviously not enough.

But I'm also angry at One, who didn't take the slightest bit of initiative to help himself out of his predicament. One minute I think he's all mature, the next he acts like a 5 year old. God help me: I may never live through his teenage years.

The only thing I can think of to do is to turn this one over to Husband. As the possessor of his horribly frightening litigator's voice, I think he owes the school at least one phone call. The thought of that almost makes me un-angry again. Almost, but not quite.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Go Tigers: 5-0

One's football team, the Tigers, are now 5-0 for the season. Today they beat a very tough Tarheel team 18-6; the game was tied 6-6 for far too long, and parents were pacing the sidelines, alternating between chewing on fists and cheering madly. Here are a few pictures of my #44 and his amazing teammates.

Go Tigers!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Favorite Things

High on my list of favorite things is the annual International Festival at our elementary school. This afternoon it did not disappoint - it never does. Here are a few favorite pictures.

The Indian dancers, who performed to a fun Indian pop song. They were fantastic, and very Bollywood.

Always the cutest: the Japanese dance.

The USA table:

And a small piece of our newly painted cow. I won't reveal which piece - just enjoy ...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What I Didn't Learn in College

I read a lot of things lately that question the value of a college education - or at the very least the value of a very expensive one. I had one of those, although mostly at the cost of the other students on campus, as I received close to $17k per year in need-based aid every year for four years. Despite all the money spent on me, I didn't learn a whole lot that has served me very well in the real world. In fact, it has become a family joke in the Grass Widow Household that the only truly good thing to come out of our time at Colgate was this family itself. Yes, we're that kind of sarcastic family, as if you couldn't tell already.

So what didn't I learn? And is there anything that I did learn? Let's make some lists.

• I didn't learn to be on time in the morning. Instead, after 1st semester freshman year I simply learned to avoid all classes that started before 10:30am. I really wasn't a morning person, you know, and why bother to struggle against your true nature?

• I didn't learn to plan ahead and write well. I wrote ever single paper over four years as "one draft wonders", even those of the 30+ page research variety.

• Despite the fact it was the late 1980's, I didn't learn to use computers. That is, unless you count figuring out how to use a Mac in the Computer Center to write one of those one-draft papers "learning". I really don't, since all I "learned" was to push a mouse around and "hunt & peck" type really fast.

• I didn't learn to pick good friends or make wise judgments about my social life. Husband practically fell in my lap: he moved in upstairs and was sitting on my couch one Friday afternoon. By and large, the best (aka kindest, smartest, least crazy) people I knew at school were his fraternity brothers and my freshman year roommate (who lived with me involuntarily, indeed miserably once she got to know what I was like).

• I didn't learn how to speak well, how to moderate what I was saying based on my audience, or how to read an audience and change what I was about to say in time to react to them. I was asked on maybe three occasions to stand up and give a presentation; they were rote recitals of what I had researched and I suspect didn't interest anyone else in class in the slightest.

• I didn't learn to be financially disciplined. Instead I learned how to weasel money out of my mother when I ran low.

• Finally, I didn't learn much of actual substance in the classroom. Sure, I picked up some tidbits about Mexican history and I can identify major artists post-1800. I can make myself understood in Spanish and French, I can blather on about Edith Wharton and Henry James, and I can proudly complain that I have been forced to read Moby Dick a whopping total of three times. But I didn't learn any math or science, I didn't pick up any economics or philosophy, and I never, ever met a professor who justified for me why what (s)he was teaching was important to the world, to the future or rarely, to the past.

So in those four expensive years, what did I learn?

• I learned that gin and beer make me sick when I drink them together.

• I know now that I am a very bad judge of who would make a good roommate. And, with one big exception, a good boyfriend.

• I figured out that what undergraduate professors want most in the world is to have their pet theory parroted back to them at every opportunity. This desire is greatly heightened if the professor is a Marxist or a feminist.

• I learned that unless your viewpoint matches that of your friends almost exactly, they don't want to hear what you have to say. College isn't a place for a robust exchange of ideas, in or out of the classroom. It's a place to find an audience who acts as your echo chamber, and to shut out everyone else from your life who might disturb that perfect pitch.

• I discovered that there were 18 year old people in this world who had never cleaned a bathroom, washed dishes, changed a light bulb, pumped gas, or gone grocery shopping alone. Some of them, most memorably, didn't even know how to fold their own clothes.

In the end, I discovered that all I got out of four years of my time - time very ill-spent, as I think you can tell by now - was a piece of paper covered with pretentious Latin script and my name in calligraphy. Over the years it has impressed a whole lot of people, and for the life of me I will never know why. They were four years that the locust ate: I stopped learning anything meaningful when I left for college, and I didn't start again until I began my first job the month after graduation. I suspect that if law school hadn't come along, I would be a very stupid person by this point. I certainly would have given up any pretense of higher thought process long, long ago.

And now, once again, I am looking down the barrel of a college education, although this time it is for my children and not for me. It is quite a long time coming, thankfully, but it's time to get my thoughts on the subject sorted, rather than leave it to the last minute when they are 16 and just dying to get out there like all their friends and have a meaningless, fun time for four years. Husband and I need to set expectations with the boys now, so those difficult conversations when they're 17 and the house is covered in glossy brochures aren't as hard as they might be. What will our family decide? I can't say. But I guess there is one more thing I learned from college: unless you are ready and it's the right school, it isn't worth the money.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Once a Boxer Girl, always a Boxer Girl

Lamb, our precious, dumb, sweet, beautiful six year old boxer, is dying. Yesterday she swore off food (only to be brought back by a liberal soaking of her dog food in chicken broth). Today she again gave up food, and only the beef roast we had for dinner could make her change her mind (2 pieces!). We have yet another prescription for steroids, which will hopefully bring her appetite back for another week or so, but she is very close to leaving us.

Nevertheless, a boxer girl cannot change her nature, no matter how ill she is, any more than the leopard could change his spots. Yesterday afternoon, I was snuggling her and telling her I'd do anything to help her feel better - if only I knew what that was. Husband spoke as Lamb (we often do this to one another - just bear with it): "You could smack my brother for me." So I leaned over and gave Knight a small pip on the bottom. Lamb wagged her tail vigorously. "Do it again, mom" said "Lamb's Voice" and I did. Again, the tail wagged and wagged.

Once a boxer beyotch, always a boxer beyotch. I'm so proud of my tough little mixer!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I'm Living on a Pirate Ship

Or that's how Two sees things, anyway, since he's the one who planted this in the front yard today. Thankfully I long-ago stopped wondering what the neighbors will think.

Lazy Saturday

We're having an extremely restful Saturday, thanks in part to One having this weekend off in football. Husband is surfing and listening to music, Two is inventing something upstairs, One is doing this:

and I am sitting here typing away. Just a few links. That's all.

You have to read what is far and away the best piece I've read on Steve Jobs this week. Technology, religion, hope. It's all there.

NY Times Health section has a series of articles called Small Fixes, which I love. They all feature low tech, inexpensive solutions to health problems in the developing world. Here is the one on clean drinking water; look down the side bar for a dozen more, all of which are encouraging and interesting.

John Hinderaker at Power Line on the Occupy Wall Street crowd. What he said. Squared.

Heather Hendricks wrote a beautiful piece this week on her family's work in Haiti. Page down to the part of the story about Marie Lourdes for the hardest (and best) bit. Awe-inspiring quote: "six kids who could have been dropped off at an orphanage in the weeks to come will hopefully be raised by their mother because people are beginning to open their minds wide to what orphan care can look like. Doesn't it make sense that one of the best ways to fight the orphan crisis is to prevent children from becoming orphans?" Amen. Amen. Amen.

One of the downsides of "unschooling" can be seen here. And before you ask, no, I don't think filling out forms is an end in itself - and certainly not the goal of education in general - but come on, life skills, people. Kids need them. And they also need us to teach them to do the hard stuff now, even if they find a job someday that has nothing to do at all with that hard stuff. We need to be by their side while they work on those skills; if we don't challenge them to do what's scary, where are they going to learn how to challenge themselves to do it? I could go on for pages on this subject, but let's leave it at that for now.

And last - something I'm sure I've linked to before but love, so I'm permanently excused from bringing up again. Lt. Thomas Meehan's last letter to his wife, before he died on the way to the Normandy invasion. It came up today when I was talking to Two about fighting with his brother, and as I told Two, this is one of those things that describes what it means to be a man. My little one is not there yet, but we'll get him there, he'll get himself there - it's what the journey is about right now. "... strong as hell and as kind as Christ." Indeed.