Monday, November 29, 2010

Bumper Stickers that Really Should Not Be

So I was driving home this morning and I was behind an old Ford Explorer that had a bumper sticker that reads (I kid you not) "Two's Company, Three's a Fantasy."   And it got me thinking - who puts that on their car?  I mean seriously, is that guy so insecure about his sexual prowess that he needs to announce his threesome fantasies to the world on the back of his old beat up white SUV?
Which leads me to some other bumper-sticker-related thoughts:
  • We just got out of an election cycle so I guess I can forgive the political ads like "Bennet for Colorado" or "Ken Buck Senate 2010" stickers, but even the political ones have gotten a bit out of hand.  Take "It's the $pending, Stupid" - a republican favorite, or "We're Findin More Enemies Faster Than We Can Kill 'Em" with the Iraqi, American and Chinese flags - an idiot favorite. And the "Deport Obama - If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention" presidential criticism style (also idiot favorites, I might add). I would just like to point out, nobody else gives a shit what your personal political views are, and all the bumper stickers in the world aren't going to sway a single person's vote.  Save that $5 (or better yet, send it to help Haiti or some other charitable cause), and get your ass to the ballot box to tell us how you really feel.
  • While no one else on the planet gives a shit if your child is on the honor roll, I guess I can understand the proud parents who sport those "Mile High Scholar" stickers on their cars.  Lame, yes, but not particularly offensive.  But I don't get the "My Child Beat Up Your Honor Student" one.  Hopefully the idiots that deface their own vehicles with that dribble don't actually have kids, but let's assume, for the sake of argument, that at least some of them do.  What's the appropriate reaction to this news?  ...uh...Congratulations?
  • Then there's the "I'm better than you and you're an idiot" variety that also seems to be popular -- the "Hang Up and Drive" style of condescension.  My father-in-law used to have that one, and he lent us his car one summer years back.  Recognizing that beggars and choosers don't go hand in hand, I made no comment at the time, but I always felt like a bit of an asshole driving that car.
Which leads me to my sage advice on the topic -- "Just Say No" to bumper stickers as a whole.  They're stupid, and if you affix them to the back of your car, you probably are too!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Black Friday and Whatnot

I just don't get the whole Black Friday thing.  It's very bizarre.  And I still can't believe that Walmart checker got trampled to death two years ago.  Is there really any item sold at Walmart that's worth rioting over and stampeding the doorway?  And then people kept shopping, even after they heard that a person had died.  GROSS!  It makes me a little sad for the state of humanity, but still we carry on the tradition.
This year Macy's opened at 4AM.  Seriously?  Four in the morning?  I can't help wondering who the f*** goes to Macy's at 4 in the morning, but I know there were lines outside the mall, which means that there were more people than I care to count. 
Which leads me to my conundrum...why am I feeling the pull of the mall this day-after-Black-Friday-afternoon?  What the hell is wrong with me?
And while I didn't succeed in my Walmart Project (I think I was off blogging at the time, but for a brief while this spring and summer I was only buying things at Walmart on the premise that if they don't have it at Walmart, you probably don't need it...which is true, but as I have said to my friend Sue for years -- shopping is not about need!) 
Nonetheless, I am trying not to be an over-consumer this year, but somehow every year Thanksgiving rolls around and Black Friday is right on its tail and I get swept up in all the hoopla that is the "holiday season" in America. Frankly I feel kind of good to have waited until now to get into the shopping frenzy, given that this year my local Sam's Club decided mid-October was a good time to start putting out the garland and getting set up for Christmas.  Next thing you know there will be Christmas stockings lying next to the pencil cases in late July for the back-to-school-get-a-jump-on-your-holiday-shopping-frenzy.
But seriously, every year I imagine that I'll be "better," setting parameters for shopping like just getting one big gift for the kids, or just giving homemade items to friends and neighbors, but invariably I end up filling my carts with a bunch of shit to stuff into stockings or madly wrap on Christmas eve.  I'm not good at this low-key Christmas thing.
My mom is really a good Christmas shopper.  She will actually go to after-Christmas sales with an eye toward the next year and somehow she's able to get thoughtful, well received gifts a year in advance.  When I try to emulate her by getting an early jump on shopping, I just end up buying 10 times more shit than I otherwise would have because I somehow seem to forget that I have 2 closets full of presents just waiting to be wrapped up and placed under the tree.
I think I need a holiday intervention.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday Morning Morals Question - Is it sometimes worse to apologize?

So this post requires a little back story, which I will get to, but first allow me to reintroduce myself to the cyber-world.  I know, you've all missed my rants terribly and I am sure you've been starved for my witty banter and cheeky commentary, but for at least today...I'm back!
And, I also know that it's Monday night, not morning, but the fact that I'm here on a Monday at all is, frankly, one step in the right direction -- and I went to yoga today, so that should count as another step in the right direction -- so I'm celebrating my small victories in this ongoing battle between my good intentions and inertia.
So here's the moral it sometimes better to forgo an apology for events in the distant past and simply let things be, or should we seek out those we may have wronged and apologize for transgressions from long ago?
I have my superhero cyber-vision on and I can tell that you're all wondering - what the hell is she talking about and why would I care?  So allow me to explain.
This evening Alex and I were talking as I tucked him in, and he made a comment about a kid at school who eats his boogers (yes - I, too, gagged when he mentioned it), but then he went on to say how all the kids at school were afraid of "Jace Germs" and were frantically running around shrieking "Watch out for Jace germs" and the like. (Jace is apparently the kid's name...I've never heard that name before either??)  But I was taken aback by the comment, and I remembered something from when I was a kid that I am really not proud of...
There was a girl at my school named Leah.  For whatever reason that I can't even remember now, she was kind of an outcast kid.  She was always a bit different, and to be fair, she wasn't very nice herself, but when we were in elementary school, kids were just plain mean to her. -- 1970s  throw rocks at each other politically incorrect MEAN kind of mean.
They'd call her "Leah Pee-ah Diarrhea" and run away from her on the playground shouting "SPRAY YOURSELF WITH LYSOL."  There'd be comments about her mom and her intelligence and anything else you can think of.  Mean, mean, mean, mean, mean!
And while I was never the instigator, (and I don't specifically remember calling her names myself), I know for sure I never stood up for her, I never said stop, nor did I even just quietly say I was sorry when no one else was looking.  I didn't do anything, which as far as she was concerned, was probably just the same as me having done everything.
So I told Alex this and related it back to Jace, and then I told him that I felt bad that I had never apologized to her.  I said "I don't want you to be 40 looking back at your life wishing you hadn't been mean to this kid or some other.  Live your life in a way that ensures that you will never regret what you have done."
And then I told him that I was going to apologize to Leah via Facebook tomorrow, which he seemed to think was a good idea.
But after I left his room, I started thinking about it -- who is this supposed apology for? Leah? or ME?  If an apology isn't going to make the wronged person more "whole" (or at least make them feel a little better), what's the point?  When it comes down to it, really the only person who might feel better from an apology is ME, and how selfish is that, really?
Let's face it, even I'm not so self absorbed as to think that 25 years later, Leah is still nursing hurt feelings over what I did (or didn't) do to her on the playground in elementary school.  Realistically, she probably doesn't even remember...and if she does, she's probably just as well off thinking we were just a bunch of assholes rather than letting us off the hook now.  She doesn't need to be reminded of it all by me in my self-serving desire for catharsis. She probably just wants to move on -- and who could blame her, really?
So I've decided that I'm NOT going to apologize.  I'm just letting bygones be bygones - water under the bridge and whatnot. And I'm not giving myself the satisfaction of feeling like I made some big magnanimous gesture to set things right from the past.
But at the same time, I'm also denying her the opportunity to know that someone (i.e. me) actually did care about how she was treated.
So it's a double-edged sword, but I'm sticking with this plan for now.  Is that wrong??

Friday, September 10, 2010

Reverend Terry James Saw My Post

Apparently the good Reverend in Gainesville reads my blog, because he has called off his stupid Salem Witch Trials book burning set for tomorrow.  I feel good knowing that my influence is being felt around the world today.  Proof positive that I should keep on bloggin!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Burning the Quran ? Really? Finally found a reason to step back up on my soapbox!

In case you haven't watched TV in the past week, a couple of really scary things are happening out there.  The first is a wildfire that's burning out of control in Boulder County.  As of now, 92 structures have burned, 1000 families have been evacuated, and with winds approaching 100 miles per hour, the fire is still 0% contained.  Please say a prayer for the brave men and women risking their lives to save the lives of others.  Update - a light rain and cooler conditions last night helped to get the fire 10% contained, but high winds and low humidity today present new problems. 
But an even more dangerous thing is cooking up in Gainesville Florida, where Reverend Terry James and his congregation of 50 plan to burn the Quran on September 11 as a way to commemorate the tragedy of that day.  Seriously?  This is a fire that can be put out before it's even started, and I keep hoping against hope that it will be.
Religious intolerance is no new thing here in the US.  Despite the fact that our earliest settlers sought refuge from religious persecution in England, even they have found a way to oppress and discriminate based on religion.  Protestants waged war against Catholics in colonial Maryland, Quakers were tortured and executed in Massachusetts, Mormons were forcibly removed from Pennsylvania, and let us not forget the thousands of Native Americans who were slaughtered for their "heathen" (read: not-Christian) ways.  
Travel forward in time to the mid-20th Century and you find mobs attacking Jehovah's Witnesses, the Japanese internment, and continued persecution and suspicion against Mormons and Jews.
Take another leap forward to modern day discrimination -- as of 2009, religiously motivated hate crime passed even racially motivated crimes against blacks.  This is still a very real problem in the land of the free! (Racially motivated hate crime generally is still the largest category - accounting for half of all hate crime in America.)
There are striking parallels between the white supremacists and the religiously motivated Islamic Shi’a fanatics in the Middle East. Both groups transform abstract political ideologies and objectives into a religious imperative. Violence is not only sanctioned, it is divinely decreed. Hence, the killing of persons described as 'infidels' by the Shi’a or as 'children of Satan' by white supremacists becomes a sacramental act.
But I still haven't come to the danger in all of this.  I think General Petraeus summed it up well when he said: "Images of the burning of a Quran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan — and around the world — to inflame public opinion and incite violence."  We still have thousands of American troops in Afghanistan and throughout the middle east.  Do we really want to make their jobs more difficult, more dangerous, and diminish their moral credibility?  Does that make any sense at all?
Already we see examples of outrage, like this rally in Afghanistan where a crowd is burning a figure of Pastor Terry James wrapped in an American flag.  Imagine the scene after their holy book has actually been burned.

Now don't get me wrong - I know that free speech is important and in some ways I celebrate Dumb-Ass James' right to engage in this sickening act of idiocy.  But I have to ask - how does Reverend Dumb-Ass feel about images of burning crosses? Burning bibles? Burning flags? Burning constitutions?
YES - they have the RIGHT to burn the Quran, but that doesn't make it the right thing to do.  It's stupid, it's irresponsible, and dangerous.  But more importantly - IT'S WRONG!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Morning Morals Questions - Am I a bad person if...???

Holy crap - it's been TWO WEEKS since I last blogged!  I missed last week's Monday Morning Morals Question entirely, and I haven't done Mama Kat's writing prompt in about a month.  But I'm here today so I guess that's a start (one day in a row, as I like to say.)

So, last Monday I was in Vegas, and while I had grandiose plans to do a Special Edition Monday Morning Morals from Vegas, then I remembered that "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas," so I couldn't.  Actually, that's a lie.  What really happened is that I was too enamored with $22 "Miami Vice" cocktails (which we went on a campaign to rename the "PinaCoLaiquiri") to be getting up and typing anything of substance at all...

But today I'm back with my newest edition -- chock-full thought provoking mind benders really designed to challenge the moral fiber of one and all...or maybe not, but I'm curious nonetheless.

Back story first...I've been playing a lot of tennis this summer.  I'm terrible, but I'm improving and it's exercise, and I really like it, so...blah blah blah...I'm playing a lot tennis.  Anyway, since I was new to the team this year, I was just assigned a partner.  She's a bit older and better than I am, but we play pretty well together and for the most part it's fun...except this one little thing...

She kind of cheats!

It's not like she's taking human growth hormones or releasing killer bees on our opponents or anything.  It's just that every now and again (a couple of times a match), she calls a ball out when it's on the line...and that's cheating.

And now for the moral rub...if the ball's on her side of the court, it's really her call to make.  I don't want to second guess her and I am sure that there have been times when the ball is actually out and I just can't tell from my perspective...but there have definitely been times when it's been IN too, and those are the times that count -- and I haven't stood up to her to say "no, that was in."

So, am I a bad person if just stand by and let my partner call things out that are in?


To be fair, this hasn't happened in a game-defining moment, and I like to think that I would over-rule the call if it did...but it's hard to say, maybe that's just wishful thinking and I'd be as big a wimp then as I have been so far!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday Morning Morals Questions - Do key parties and swinging shock the conscience of anyone other than me???

John Cuneo, Esquire Magazine
Apparently the 60s have made their way back to Denver with a vengeance, because I keep hearing that key parties and swinging are all the rage...and let me tell you, I am SHOCKED!!!

Here's how Wikipedia (my go-to source on all topics) defines swinging:

Swinging or partner swapping (sometimes referred to as the swinging lifestyle or simply the lifestyle) is a non-monogamous behavior, in which partners in a committed relationship agree, as a couple, for both partners to engage in sexual activities with other people. As a subculture, the swinging couple regard their sexual activities with other people as a social activity in which they engage as a couple.

Let's ignore the unneeded comma after behavior and get to the point - people are having parties where they go hoping, expecting, knowing that they and their spouses will be having sex with someone else -- AT THE PARTY!  Ick!!

And this is just fine?  This is normal?  What. The. F*%$????

I always thought I lived in this real "Leave It to Beaver" kind of subdivision with white picket fences and neighbors who bake cookies for the new baby next door (which happens all the time and leads to over crowded neighborhood schools and tennis courts on the streets, but that's a different story.)   

Let me show you some examples:

  I don't know who lives here, but they have a cute red door and the white picket fence I was talking about.
 This is my friend Melissa's house.  It's for sale...this progressive new Denver lifestyle/culture was more than she could take!

Do these look like the kinds of places where spouses are playing sex games which include some people who live there and others who don't? 

What would June Cleaver say?

I know what she'd say.  She'd say: What. The. F*$%...just like me!  What do you say?


Thursday, June 10, 2010

On Being Alone

WARNING...this post might actually have insight into me...should I even be writing this?

So, I'm 40 years old and I'm just getting comfortable being alone.  I've never lived alone.  I've never traveled alone.  Since my kids have been born, I don't think I have spent more than a single night by myself at my house.  I can't even think of a time that I've even seen a movie by myself. 
I don't do "alone time." 
I guess I just don't really know how to be by myself.
For as long as I can remember, the first thing I ever do when I'm alone is pick up the phone.  At least that way if I'm technically alone, it kind of feels like I'm sharing it with someone else.
For whatever reason, the idea of being alone immediately brings to mind visions of isolation. It's scary and I don't like it. 
It's lonely.

From an intellectual perspective I understand the mental benefit associated with having time to oneself.  I imagine people enjoy the opportunity for peace and solitude.  For whatever reason, though, I don't find peace and solitude in the company of only me.
I'm trying to figure out what this says about me.  Unfortunately the conclusion I arrive at generally says that I just don't like myself enough to be happy with my own company.  But that doesn't seem right, because the truth is I'm pretty satisfied with the person I've become.  I am generally pretty self confident and self reliant.  I have come to accept my flaws as part of the overall package of me, and I'm mostly okay with that whole package.
So why do I still feel so anxious about being on my own?
Anyway, Paul and the boys are off for 2 days of Cub Scout Camp, so I'm here to fend for myself.  That's not an invitation, Brad Pitt, but if you happen to be in the neighborhood...
Seriously, I'm using this as an opportunity to explore the idea of "alone time" in terms other than "lonely time."  I've got nothing special planned, but I will try to stretch my comfort zone.  Maybe I'll head out to Starbucks for an "I have no one else to cater to but me" latte.  Maybe I'll even hit an afternoon movie all by myself.
Well, I'm not going to get crazy or anything...but I am going to try to enjoy the peace and solitude.
Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Psychology of Toe Nail Polish

Anyone who's ever walked into a nail salon knows that there are literally HUNDREDS of different colors to choose from for your toes.  There are reds, pinks, purples, browns, pearls, blues, whites, and blacks.  Within every group there's at least a dozen subcategories marking very subtle distinctions in mood.  Like the distinction between "We'll Always Have Paris"

and "Midnight in Moscow"

Seriously, go to and "try on" the different colors...I swear there are several shades whose differences are not visible to the naked eye.

Anyway, there is a point here...and the point is this...

Ladies, the color you choose for your toes says a lot about you as a be sure that the message you are sending is the one you want to send!

There are women who always choose the pinks or corals.  Hot pink, fuchsia, lavender, rose, cherry.  Every single one of these says:   "COME TALK TO ME!  I'M FUN!"

You might catch one of the gals going a little naughty with something like "I Don't Do Dishes,"

or more demure with "Soiree Mauve."

But you'll never see them them trampin around with Lindsay Lohen in Vendetta by Chanel!

But don't worry Chatty Cathys - Essie's catering you with their summer line which boasts colors like "Knockout Pout" and "Haute as Hello."  These "flirty" colors say "Yes I can be this cute and listen to you at the same time!"

To me they say: "Go away - you're too chipper!"

Perhaps to distinguish themselves from the sorority girls over at Essie, or perhaps because they're sellouts and don't care about making beautiful products anymore, OPI has come out with it's own summer line...the Shrek Collection.  (Huh?)  This line sports names like "What's with the Cattitude" and "Rumple's Wiggin."

But let me be clear here - if you're an adult wearing one of those greens, you need to understand that the message you're sending to the world is "I don't care that it looks like someone just puked all over my feet."

For me, I always choose the dark brown-red groupings...My go-to shades are Suzi Says Da!

and Lincoln Park After Dark

Yes - even in the summer!

And what do my toes say about me?  They say: "I don't like people."  It's not that I actually don't like people, I just don't want people thinking they can come up to me and start talking about their mother's gallstones and whatnot.  Save those conversations for Bridget with her "tell me about your cousin's daughter's wedding" toes!

These aren't Bridget's real toes...I used a toe-double,  She's married so she wears her ring on the left foot.

Then there's Zoya.  They use girls' names for their polish.  And let me tell you something, they got it all wrong with this one!  This is the color they call "Lo":

In Zoya-land I think I'm changing my name to Sam:

or Nina:

because Lo just doesn't suit me at all!

Nail polish Pictures, Images and Photos

What do your toes say about you???

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tipper & Al Call It Quits

After 40 years?  Really?

Al Gore's Norman Rockwell childhood apparently didn't prepare him for a real life, family, or wife.  He and Tipper are Splitzville after 40 years of marriage, 2 failed presidential bids, a Nobel Peace Prize, four kids and an Oscar.

Al at 3 with sister Nancy & mom and dad.

Although the tabloids speculate an affair by one or both of them, "close confidantes" of the couple (and their publicity folks) assure us that there were no "third parties" involved.  Let's face it, no one really thinks Tipper's having an affair.  She wrote a book called Raising PG Kids in an X-rated Society - she's not going around cheating on her husband...They have to put that in to appear unbiased.  It's all a ruse.
Anyway, there's no evidence that Tipper's a stripper (perhaps that was the problem???)
No Youtube videos of Al with the housekeeper floating around.
They aren't having money problems...well, at least it wouldn't seem so, as they just bought an $8.8Million house in Montecito California (other celebrity residents: Oprah, Ellen, Rob Lowe, Michael Douglas, Jonathan Winters...ok, he's a stretch on the "celebrity" thing, but you get my point).
She seems just as happy to give up the gas guzzler for the free Prius.
He's got his Hollywood folks; she's got her photography.  *It's actually really good.  Check out her portfolio if you doubt me.
So what was the problem?

We all know that Al invented the internet and that they were the inspiration for Erich Segal's Love Story.  Well, that's what he told us so it has to be true, right?  I mean, the guy won a Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the reunification of the ozone or something so we know he doesn't lie.

What ever happened to Joined at the Heart???

They obviously had passion...
Tell me that kiss doesn't say Endless Love?

Yet just when we thought the stiff Washington duo had lightened up and gotten cool...
Al's rocking his bleached-denim mom jeans to perfection, and Tipper shows that a white Playtex 24 Hour bra goes great with just about anything.

They had to go and mess it up.

I think she's just too high maintenance.  By her own admission Tipper says that Al's "very much a gentleman you know, with me around the house.  I know he's dog tired and he could be sitting down and doing something, and I need something across the room, he'll get up and get it."
If you've got something that good, do you ever let it go?

Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday Morning Morals Questions - Am I a bad person if...???

Hello again - and I hope you all are doing something special and remembering our fallen heroes on this Memorial Day.
I've been on a week-long hiatus.  I wish I could say that I was doing something fabulous like scaling the Great Wall
Great Wall China Pictures, Images and Photos

or looking for aliens at Machu Picchu with Shirley Maclaine.
 shirley maclaine Pictures, Images and Photos

But instead I was just here, helping Alex get through what has become known as The Worst Last Week of School EVER!
School Sucks Pictures, Images and Photos

This post will give you a snapshot of what I'm talking about.

Last Sunday, Zach had a "promotion celebration" for the Cub Scouts.  He was moving up the ranks from Wolf Scout to Bear Scout.  We were very proud...that's a different story.  Anyway, the event was a big family picnic with all the siblings and whatnot.  We all had a good time...or so I thought.
At one point, Alex was climbing a tree and wanted me to watch.  I watched and clapped and said all the mom-stuff ("that's so great honey" blah blah blah).  Anyway, he came over to me to talk for a few minutes, and in the meanwhile 3 kids who are notorious bullies from his school climbed the tree.
After a minute or two Alex decided he wanted to climb up again, and as he did, the three bullies started throwing wood chips and pine cones and other non-deadly yet still annoying objects at him, telling him to get down.
Alex, to his credit, was annoyed but not dissuaded, and told the kids it wasn't their tree and he could climb it if he wanted. (Yeah Alex, I'm so proud of you for standing your ground!)
But then, the youngest of the three said "Here comes Hitler!  Go to hell, Hitler!"  The other 2 joined in calling him Hitler and telling him that he deserved to go to hell.  Within a minute or two he'd had enough and climbed back down.  He came over to me, and told me that the tree was "too crowded."  I had noticed the bullies so I rolled my eyes in understanding that they were the reason, but didn't ask any more questions at that time.
Fast forward an hour or so and Alex is now holding back tears trying to pretend that he's fine.  Of course, momstinct kicked in, so I pressed him for what was wrong and he eventually told me about the Hitler comments and the "you deserve to go to hell."
Well, I had had it with these kids.  Throughout the school year they had been harassing and teasing Alex, and throughout the year I told him that they were idiots, it was them not him, and not to listen to them.  But this time, I got really mad.  I composed a snippy but to the point message...well, here - I'll just show you what I said:
Dear [names omitted to protect the guilty]:
This afternoon at the Cub Scout meeting your kids [once again, names omitted to protect the guilty]were harassing Alex, and ultimately told him that he is "Hitler and should go to hell."
I know that 10 year old boys can be stupid and rude and I suppose I should chalk their behavior up to ignorance and bad manners.  Generally, I ignore these kinds of comments and tell Alex to do the same, but seriously, this has gone too far.  This type of verbal abuse at the tongues of your children has plagued him this entire year, and I will tell you that I will no longer tolerate this rude, antisocial and cruel behavior. I suggest that you tell your boys to absolutely NEVER talk to my son (or ANYONE for that matter) like that again. Frankly, I'd be just as happy if they were to never even speak to him again at all.  But I can assure you, if you do not take care of this in your own homes and this type of harassment continues, I will be forced to take further measures.

I know for certain that this is not the first time that you are being made aware of your sons' bullying or inappropriate behavior.  Obviously you have not taken it seriously in the past.  I suggest that you do not make that same mistake again, at least with respect to their behavior toward my children, as I have no intention of just letting this slide by unnoticed.

And within minutes, this is the (VERBATIM and unedited) response that I received from the father of one of the bullies:
Dear lorraine, lighten up, will ya? If u can't lighten up and take a mature attitude towards these types of problems yourself, then I suggest u stick it in your ear. Sincerely,
I'd like to say that I left his name off intentionally, but it was just signed "Sincerely," without more.  I have an immediate problem with anyone who writes "u" instead of "you," but that was overshadowed almost instantaneously by the "mature attitude" of the "stick it in your ear."
Anyway, I think it goes without saying that i was really pissed at this point, and I admit that my actions were in large part guided by anger, but my next move really brought in the big guns.  I forwarded the entire email chain to Alex and Bully #1's teacher, as well as the principal of the school accompanied by this note:
Dear [Teacher] and [Principal],
Below please find correspondence related to an incident that occurred outside of school between Alex and [Bully #1].  Of course I don't expect any kind of intervention for this particular incident, but I wanted you to be aware that the bullying problem at [school] is very real, and obviously is not sufficiently dealt with in the homes of the bullies themselves, so probably needs to be addressed more seriously in the classroom.

So my question is this, am I a bad person for forwarding that along to the school?  Please consider the fact that the only reason that I did so was because I was angry at the obnoxious response I received from the dad of Bully #1.  Does this affect your answer in any way?
And a secondary moral quandary...the parents of Bullies 2&3 (brothers) are firm believers in this "let kids resolve their own disputes" kind of parenting.  They don't believe in imposing punishment of any sort because the "natural consequences of their actions" will teach them how to behave. They don't "make" their kids apologize for things because they feel that when the kids realize the effect of their actions, an apology will necessarily follow in an attempt to make reparations.
Whatever Pictures, Images and Photos
So, am I a bad person for deeming them the laziest, most naive parents ever, too?


Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Morning Morals Questions - Am I a bad person if...???

Today's Moral Hypo:

You're driving the down the street and notice that a neighbor has a big pile of stuff out on the curb with a sign marked "ARC."  You know this means the items are for pick-up by the local charity organization because you've gotten about 60 calls at dinner asking for "household items and gently used clothing" yourself.

Which reminds me of a very important fact that has nothing to do with my hypo:
Recently Paul answered one of these calls and asked why they call so much and the guy told him that if you answer and say NO you're out of the call loop until the next month.  If they don't get a live person, they keep calling back.

I know -- I saw a chicken -- so let's get back to it: 

As you go by, you notice a lamp that would look great on the nightstand in your guest room.  The lamp doesn't have an ARC sign on it specifically, but it's with all the other stuff, so you know this is intended as a donation item.

Do you take the lamp?

MY VIEW - This is a tough one.  It kind of feels like stealing from a charitable organization, which somehow seems even more wrong that just stealing from a regular person.  But at the same time, it's also kind of like your neighbor has abandoned the item, which would make it fair game.  If the lamp was in the back next to the trash, for example, I'd have no hesitation whatsoever.  It's equivalent to what Lori calls "Curbys" (code for junk placed on a curb with a "free" sign) and is yours for the taking - there are court cases that say so and everything!  But here, not quite the same thing.

This time I'm erring on the side of - if it doesn't really feel right it's probably not right - so I don't think I'd take it.  The absolute best thing to do, in my opinion, would be to ring the doorbell and ask the owner if you could have/buy it from him.  Can't really see myself doing that, so I think I drive on.  But to be fair, I don't know!  Sad as it sounds, it might depend on how much I like the lamp.  (That's pathetic, I know!)
For me, the fact that the lamp itself doesn't have a sign taped on it is irrelevant, but I imagine that might be an important factor for some.

So, am I a bad person if I take the lamp???


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Warning - I'm on my Soapbox Again!

So, I realize that much of my blog is me ranting and raving about some news item that I find ridiculous or offensive or otherwise irritating.  And so, today will be...NO DIFFERENT!

On Friday, the Texas State Board of Education adopted a new (and dare I say improved?) social studies curriculum that makes some amazingly idiotic alterations to the current scope of learning relative to American history, the ideological and philosophical influences on the founding fathers, and the characterization of our country as a "democracy." (Oooohhh, democracy - that's a bad word, isn't it???)

Apparently, Texas lawmakers have long been concerned with this whole "separation of church and state" thing the Supreme Court seems so committed to.  Back in March they decided to remove Thomas Jefferson's writings from a critical thinking exercise that asked students to evaluate the influence of Enlightenment thinkers on political revolutions from 1750-present because, according to Cynthia Dunbar of the Texas Board of Ed, there were other Christian thinkers (like John Calvin and Thomas Aquinas) who were also influential, and the critical thinking exercise downplayed their importance.  And don't forget, she adds, the founding fathers were totally influenced by "biblical law" too.  I mean, just because practically all of those people at the Constitutional Conventions were agnostic at best doesn't mean anything.  The Constitution says we were "endowed by our Creator" and it's capitalized and everything.  They meant the Christian god and not some Allah or whatever. Jefferson's desire to keep religion out of politics is inherently offensive and we need to do something about it.  If we could get around that whole troubling fact of his presidency in 1800 we would!  So of course, Jefferson's out - Calvin's in.

BUT THAT'S NOT ALL!!  No - Texas educators want to be sure that students understand that this "separation" thing, doesn't exist anywhere in the Constitution.   Liberal judges on the Supreme Court made it up! The only thing the First Amendment requires is that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."  It doesn't say that we can't make kids swear on the bible or have an afternoon prayer or genuflect to the righteous Lord.  That's just a bunch of left-wing garbage.

Then there's this whole business about slavery.  Do we really have to keep flogging ourselves for something that happened like, 150 years ago?  I mean, let's just call it the "Atlantic Triangular Trade" and be done with it all ready!  And don't even get me started about Civil Rights.  Seriously, time to move on, people!

Of course, I'm getting all sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek about this, and you might wonder why I even care, given that I'm in Colorado and my children will never attend school in Texas.  But there's so much more at stake here.  First, with Texas' large population base, textbook manufacturers will obviously be taking these changes into effect when publishing their books.  Do I really want my kids learning from a text book in which Joseph McCarthy is just another senator and President Obama is continually referred to as "Barack Hussein Obama?"  NO!  Do I really want my kids to skim over the harsh reality of slavery or the Japanese Internment of the 1940s?  Do I really want my kids to be shielded from the mistakes we've made as a nation under some false notion of patriotism? NO NO NO!

Yes, my kids are patriots.  Ours is the greatest nation in the world and they live in a household that emphasizes the importance of being good citizens.  We read the Declaration of Independence from start to finish (including the whole long train of abuses) every 4th of July.  We read a great speech on President's Day (last year was the Gettysburg Address, this year we did Washington's First Inaugural Address).  We talk about our fallen heroes on Memorial Day and Veteran's Day.  But we also talk about the Vietnam War.  We read a speech of Martin Luther King's on MLK Day.  They know about slavery and Jim Crow Laws and the Civil Rights Movement.  And my hope is that they will learn from our past mistakes and take a better course in the future.

In defense of the changes, Jonathan Saenz of the Liberty Institute (a VERY conservative non-profit dedicated to "protecting freedoms and strengthening families" - huh?) says:  "Most of the complaints are coming from a liberal fringe. They're making a huge issue out of some very small changes. The people of Texas are simply trying to stop atheists and the extreme civil liberties lobby from taking over their history."

You know what, Texas?  You can have your history!  I'll keep teaching my kids the TRUTH!

Friday, May 21, 2010


Please be advised that much of the below is written in my special sarcasm font!!

I don't know if you have seen this, but there's a big media frenzy around the immigration status of Nick Jr.'s Dora the Explorer.  She's that cute little Hispanic girl who vamanos-es around the jungle with her friend Boots the Monkey teaching good morals, polite behavior, and a little bit of Spanish. 

OH, but how did she get here to teach these nefarious lessons to our impressionable young citizens, you ask?

That, my friends, is a very important question.  One that any law abiding citizen should be very curious about.  One that we righteous Americas must DEMAND an answer to, because, lord knows, our children have the right to know that their favorite cartoon characters are who they say they are.  If Dora is out there purporting to be a role model under false pretenses - all the while having jumped the fence and swam the river without a valid visa for entry, well that is JUST WRONG!

And Nick Jr.'s "official response" to this ever important query?  No. Freakin. Comment.

The American people deserve an answer, Nick Jr.  You can't expect us to be satisfied with this ambiguous, unclear status.  At this point, that NO COMMENT can only be read to mean that she's an "illegal" and that means that Dora is out there taking jobs from American citizen cartoon characters who could just as easily teach morality and jump around being cute with a monkey friend.

I say we boycott!  Until Nick Jr. comes forward with a valid birth certificate of green card or something, I think we definitely need to boycott.  We can have a big censorship party and make sure all those Dora books and games and toys and especially the shows themselves disappear off the shelves and the airways.

Nick Jr. - you should be ashamed of yourself!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop - My happy ending

Mama's Losin' It

Prompt 5 - “You know a happy ending isn’t really the end. It’s just the place where you choose to stop telling the story. Why not make everything work out when you have the chance?” Where would you could you place your happy ending? (inspired by The Myth Of You And Me pg. 137)

Happy endings -- where everything wraps up nicely and fits into one big box with a pink bow on top; where the villains go to jail and the angst-ridden protagonist finally ends up with Mr. Big Right to live happily ever after; where the star-crossed lovers whose timing is always off by about 3 days until one thunderous, hailing, pouring night he sees her (while walking without an umbrella - completely drenched yet handsome all the same) through the window in the diner across the way - looking forlornly into her coffee and not eating her blueberry pie, so he races across the street and directly into her arms; where the troubled child who has blamed his parents for all his woes gets out of rehab and wipes the slate clean with one big sweeping apology for "everything" -- Happy endings?  Those don't happen outside.  Those are indoor games reserved for movie theaters and television sets with scripted lines and fake pie that looks too good to eat because it actually is, well, not too good, just inedible.

In real life, there's always something to stand in the way of perfection, which for many of us means to stand in the way of our "happy ending."  Maybe it's those last 5 pounds; maybe it's the test you didn't study for; maybe it's the credit card debt, or a sick parent or an unforgiving boss or an absent spouse or an unhappy child.  The list could go on and on - there's never any shortage of things to worry about or reasons to be down.  Most of us don't see the present in terms of moments but more of a long flowing continuum toward and inevitable end.  And this, I am afraid, can cause even the most optimistic soul to fall down.

So right now, I'm just thinking about thinking about individual moments.  Ones that make me smile just remembering them.  Ones that make me tear up and feel overwhelmingly loved.  Ones where happiness was something you could touch, and smell, and taste.  There are some obvious one - like the births of my children and lighting the candle during my wedding ceremony.  And then there are some less obvious ones, too - like finding $300 on the sidewalk in Golden and going to the Rocky Flats Lounge to have a beer with Paul and the toothless barkeep, watching Zach eat crocodile skewers in Australia last year, or finding out that I had passed the California Bar Exam after computer glitches that made it seem as if I'd failed.  I suppose any of those moments could be my happy ending, and yet I know what happened afterward, so it's hard to stop telling the story there.

And somehow, reminiscing about the best moments brings to mind some not-great-ones too.  Times that I struggled, felt worthless, and couldn't find joy in any of the less-obvious-moments that surely occurred even then too.  Because I realize, as I write, that these moments happen all the time!  Every day or week or month there is something that happens that reminds us of our humanity, reminds us that we are unique, reminds us that we are important and needed and perfect.  We just don't listen!

So for my happy ending, I choose right now.  That's not to say that everything is perfect - it's not!  I still have those last first 5 pounds to lose (and then the rest of it too), I should probably get a job, my son hates the 4th grade and I just turned 40.  So NO, everything is not perfect.  But I'm happy, and maybe even more importantly, I'm content.  My house may not be in perfect order, but my children know they're loved.  My tennis game could certainly improve, but my friends know I care.  And underneath it all, I just know it's all going to work out the way it's supposed to -- and I know that I am supposed to live happily ever after.

Thanks Mama Kat - turns out I needed this prompt for more than just another post!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Those trendsetters in Europe are at it again!

 Members of the European Union exercising their fundamental right to lie around in the Riviera!
Last month the European Union declared the "right" to vacation as a fundamental right.  I'm here to ask when we're going to catch up to those genius lawmakers in Europe and start paying for me to hit the beach?

Actually, what Antonio Tajani (EU Commissioner for Industry) said was this:
"Traveling for tourism today is a right.  The way we spend our holidays is a formidable indicator of our quality of life."  He went on to say that this right is so compelling that the EU should subsidize it for the young, old, and poor.  In the end, it was agreed that the EU would pay for approximately 30% of the cost associated with international travel to encourage "cultural exchange" and "understanding."  And, of course, to ensure that everyone is able to assert his fundamental right to have a vacation in the South of France!

For those of you who didn't spend a long year suffering through Constitutional Law with Professor Collins, "fundamental rights" are those rights derived by natural law (like life, liberty and property, if you asked John Locke) and afforded the highest level of protection from the Supreme Court.  Some examples are the freedoms of speech, the press and religion; the right to have children (or not have children); the right to a fair and impartial jury; and the right to interstate travel.  Does this mean I can make Congress pay for a trip to Hawaii for me?  I have a right to interstate travel, and I live in Colorado...that's interstate travel...oh, shoot, that's not what they mean, is it???

Europeans have always been trend-setters in both fashion and human rights -- except Switzerland - did you know women didn't get the right to vote in Switzerland until 1971???  Just learned that.  And they really don't know how to dress either. 
Now that's what I call style!

But elsewhere in Europe, they really do know what's hot.

He's still very big in Europe, from what I understand!

Seriously, those English folks were demanding habeas corpus and due process way back at the Magna Carta in 1215.  Plus, slavery really wasn't seen much in Western Europe after the middle ages (ok, ok, they were all in on the slave trade to the Americas and were fine with making  money off it, but they didn't actually have slaves themselves in their European homelands -- I'm not sayin' there wasn't some hypocrisy!)  But this whole right to be a tourist thing is just taking it a little too far...I'm thinking there's such a thing as too much of a good thing!

My guess is that this whole nonsense started back in 1948 when the world community adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  I'm not here to dis the UDHR, it's a great document, inspirational, aspirational, blah blah blah blah...but really, Article 25 guarantees a "right to rest and leisure."  I'm wondering, how do they protect that right for mothers of multiples?  Oh - I know, they combine it with Article 13's "freedom of movement" and then come up with this beautiful new right...

And they say we're the nation of entitlement?  How's that for the pot calling the kettle black??

I don't know where this is, but I'm sure if members of Congress pool their frequent flier miles together they could send me there to find out!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hot gets better and better!

I swung by Hot Chick this morning and finally tried the Morning Wood.  It's White Coffee* with some Ghiradelli's White Chocolate mixed in and milk.  I got 2% but I think the default is whole milk.  I finally met Troy (owner) and he recommended it iced, so despite the gloomy gray-skies and threats of rain, I went cold.  It was a good choice, I think.
So I'm pleased to report that it was really good! It doesn't really taste (or look) like coffee at all.  It tastes more like a milkshake and basically looks like milk on ice.  It's very sweet, so for me I would say go with a small (i.e. B Cup), and I probably would get it later in the day as a kind of treat or something.  It's different than any coffee drink I have ever had before - I really enjoyed it!  It won't replace my regular non-fat latte order, but I can see having it again from time to time.
In addition to Troy, I also met Andra, the publicity chick, and another barista whose I think is named Melissa but now I'm feeling like a jerk because I can't remember and I should have written it down.  In any event, just like Troy, they were both super sweet and told me a whole bunch about the process, etc.  They seemed to be having a good time at work, and were familiar with my blog, which everyone knows makes me very happy!
Once again, thanks Hot guys are great!
BTW - Troy's trying to get that painting done, but damn Denver spring weather is not cooperating, so there's still a ways to go.  I imagine sometime in July they ought to be able to get it finished!

 *White coffee is slightly roasted beans (rather than fully roasted/black beans).  The color of the coffee itself is a little weird - it's kind of whitish-greenish.  I guess the roasting process dilutes the caffeine content by 1/2, so white coffee has twice the caffeine of a regular blend. I tasted the shot alone, and I have to say I didn't care for it without the milk and white chocolate mix-ins.  It kind of reminded me of echinacea or some kind of herbal remedy my dad would put into tea by the dropperful.  I won't get a shot again, but the drink as prepared is good.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday Morning Morals Questions - Am I a bad person if...???

Sometimes the thinking and the doing don't always coincide!

This morning I woke up with this great idea for a new series for my blog...a sort of "Where does your moral compass point on this one?" inquiry based on real life situations. Here's today's quandry:

Yesterday a neighbor took my kids to see Iron Man II.  I sent them with a small backpack holding:  $20, 2 "Loyalty Cups" ($1 refill cups good for the whole year at our local theater), as well as small bags of Cracker Jacks for all the kids.  I would have swung by Walgreens for some movie sized candy (Dots and Jr. Mints are family movie favorites), but there wasn't time.  Anyway, when they got home, here's what transpired:

Me:  How was the movie?
Alex: Awesome!
Me: Did you get a drink or anything?
Alex: No, we got there a little late and had to rush to our seats.
Me: Well, I guess it's good you had those Cracker Jacks!
Alex: No, you're not allowed to bring them in so we had them after.
Me: Oh?
Alex: Yeah, [neighbor] said you're not allowed to bring any outside food in so we couldn't bring them.  It's a rule, mom!
Me: Hmmmm....OK.

So, sure, I know the rule.  I just don't follow it!  I also know that a movie theater's biggest profit margin is on the sale of concessions...I guess I just really don't care!  I can't see spending $4 for a $1 box of candy.  I do buy the $5 loyalty cups at the beginning of the year and get the $1 refills all year long, because somehow that seems a lot more reasonable to me...but here's the question:

Am I a bad person if I break the rule about bring "outside food" into a movie?  Will my children grow up with a broken moral compass?  Am I kidding myself to think that somehow these kinds of rules are silly and it's OK to model rule-breaking behavior to my kids? 


****Just for the record, I am a strong advocate of Civil Disobedience as a political tool to make change to unjust laws, but my Monday Morning Morals Questions will not be addressing these types of issues.  I'm going to focus on more important things like "Can I bring candy into a movie?"

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop - I think I'm allergic to Chowder!

Mama's Losin' It

This entry is inspired by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop prompt:  1.) Describe a popular kids toy or show that you just don’t understand.  I have chosen Cartoon Network's Chowder...I don't get it!

For all you moms who have graduated from the Disney Channel and moved on to Cartoon Network, I think you know what I'm talking about.  CHOWDER MAKES ME WANT TO SCREAM!!!

Aaarrrggghhhhh! Turn that s*** off!!!

 This is quite simply the most irritating show ever to grace the airways.  In case you haven't seen it, the show stars "Chowder," a cat/bear/rabbit hybrid that goes around making annoying noises and repeating the same things over and over and over again...It's horrible!

I'll start by saying this is a French-Canadian show created by C.H. Greenblatt, one of  the storyboard artists from Sponge Bob Square Pants.  Really that ought to be enough said, but I'll go on.  The characters live in Marzipan City and they all have ethnic-food-inspired names like Gazpacho, Mung Daal, Schnitzel, and Panini. Theoretically it sounds kind of cute, doesn't it?  I mean, maybe it will inspire your kids to actually try Gorganzola on a cheese plate since there's a character named that on Chowder, right?  WRONG!  Instead they'll look at it, plug their noses and run around the kitchen table screaming "stinky cheese" in a Chowder-inspired screech.   Charming, really!

Schnitzel, Mung Daal, Chowder, Truffles

And then, you can't help but gawk at the TV trying to figure out what the hell these characters are supposed to be.  You'll find yourself wondering which psychotropic drugs were used to inspire the mushroom-headed Truffles and the "rock monster" Schnitzel.  And then you'll think -- it it appropriate to have your school-aged children watching this at all?  All the while, you've wasted an hour and given yourself a 3-Aleve headache to boot.

But don't think the worst has past...Flapjack will be up next, and I'm afraid that might even be worse!  Cartoon Network, I don't get you!

More News from the Great State of Arizona

I'm so happy to report that Arizona governor Jan Brewer is moving forward with the good work of marginalizing, discriminating, intolerance and xenophobia.  She's really making God proud.  Just ask her and she'll tell you:  "I firmly believe that God has placed me in this powerful position of Arizona’s governor to help guide our state through the difficulties that we are currently facing.”
Like, for example, the difficulty that we are facing due to ethnic studies being taught in school?


And that's just what she did yesterday when she signed HB 2281 into law.  Here's what this glorious piece of legislation says:

15-111 Declaration of Policy
The legislature finds and declares that public school pupils should be taught to treat and value each as individuals and not based on ethnic background.

15-112 Prohibited Courses and Classes; Enforcement
     A. A school district or charter school in this state shall not include in its program of instruction any courses or classes that either:
     1. Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group
     2. Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.
     B. If the Superintendent of Public Instruction determines that a school district or charter school is in violation of Subsection A, the Superintendent of Public Instruction shall notify the school district or charter school that it is in violation of Subsection A. ... [blah blah blah...failure to stop teaching these courses may result in withholding of state funds...blah blah blah]

The law was proposed by the Ministry of Magic...I mean, Arizona "Superintendent of Public Instruction," Tom Horne.  But can't you just hear Dolores Jane Umbridge reading it to the students at Hogwarts?

You remember Dolores, right?  She's the one who took over when Dumbledore was ousted -- she had all kinds of lame rules like don't practice magic in the school of wizardry.  Here's one of her great lines regarding education:
UmbridgeThe Ministry of Magic has always considered the education of young witches and wizards to be of a vital importance. Although each headmaster has brought something new to this... historic school, progress for the sake of progress must be discouraged. Let us preserve what must be preserved, perfect what can be perfected and prune practices that ought to be... prohibited!"

Oh yes Arizona - we wouldn't want to see progress, now would we?  Progress should certainly be prohibited!

The law was specifically designed to target Tucson public schools' Chicano and Mexican American Studies program.  The textbook for this class is called "Occupied America: A History of Chicanos."  This book is really offensive to white Americans because we're being portrayed as "Occupiers."

Maybe we can organize a good old fashioned book bonfire (ala Nazi Germany) too!

I wonder what they're going to do about that troubling history related to Native Americans?  We probably ought to just get rid of all that negativity too, don't ya think?  Oh, but wait, the law specifically exempts classes for "Native American pupils that are required to comply with federal law."  Those damn feds are going to MAKE them continue to teach Native American studies??  Seriously, whatever happened to states' rights?

Caution - children learning!

For now, we'll just have to be satisfied with the rounding up and dumbing down Arizona.  I'm sure these laws will make their way across the country soon enough - lord knows idiocy spreads like wildfire!

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