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!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

40...It's the New 40!

Every time I turn around someone is telling me that something is the new something else.  Teal's the new black, Zumba's the new aerobics, Rachel Ray's the new Martha, and some older age is always the new younger age (30 is the new 20, 50 is the new 40), whatever.
With my 40th birthday just come and gone, everyone was saying "40's the new 30" and I just have to ask -- is that supposed to make me feel better?  What the hell does that really mean, anyway?  From my perspective, this just proves that expectations for my generation are about 10 years slower than they were for my parents.  If 70 is the new 50, does this mean that we'll have to continue working until we're 90 before we're able to retire?  Maybe 30's the new 20 because it takes a lot of students 7+ years to graduate from college, so that's when  people are getting their first jobs.  How is this a good thing?  I'm sorry, I just don't find that very reassuring at all!
So, I'm launching a campaign to take 40 back and re-seat it in it's rightful chronological place at the beginning of middle-age.  40 is the time when our children start to become more independent, and our friendships get back to being our friendships (rather than those based exclusively on our kids' school placement), and our views become a bit more conservative or reserved.  Of course, it's also the time when our bodies start to resist change (i.e. don't show results as quickly as they used to), our eyes begin to fail us (reading glasses will be appearing around the necks of our friends more and more regularly), and we slow down just a little bit.  I'm here to embrace that -- all of it!  And so, regardless of the next great surgical invention that will keep us young forever, I'm here to tell you - 40 is still 40...and I'm okay with that.
Hope you all had a great Mother's Day...I'm going to grab a Snuggie and curl up on the couch for a nice late-morning nap.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The "Colorado Connection"

I have a theory -- well, actually I have a lot of theories, but this is just one of them -- anyway, my theory is that whenever there's some crazy person who makes the national news (whether it's for doing something really stupid or just downright criminal), approximately 80% of the time that person is from Colorado (or has spent a significant amount of time here)...and 100% of the time our local news lady Anne Trujillo will find that "Colorado Connection."

Today's news headline proves my point well -- would-be bomber Faisal Shahzad's wife, Huma Mian, graduated from CU Boulder in 2004 with a degree in accounting.  A couple of months ago we had Jihad Jane, and I'm sure a few months from now they'll discover one of Osama Bin Laden's kids plotting his next attack and hiding out in the woods somewhere north of Steamboat Springs.  Or maybe it will just be another Colorado Park Ranger starting a million-acre forest fire while trying to harmlessly burn a voodoo doll of her ex-boyfriend.  One way or another, though, we Coloradans are sure to be making our mark in history.

Let me give you a brief sampling of the types of things that I'm talking about:

1873 - Alfred Packer, America's only convicted cannibal.  Took a group of prospectors into the Colorado mountains in the middle of winter looking for gold.  Instead he only discovered that his fellow trekkers taste like chicken.

1924 - KKK takes over Colorado politics when  Klan members were elected to office in city, state, and federal level positions.
Ben Stapleton - Denver Mayor & proud member
Clarence Morley - Colorado Governor who ran for office not only for himself, but also "for the benefit of the Klan."
Rice Means - Colorado US Senator & another proud member

1993 - Grandpa Bredo aka "Frozen Dead Guy" is taken from his cryogenics lab to a Tuff Shed in Nederland to be preserved on dry ice until he and Walt Disney are able to resurface in the future and rule the world.  Now annually celebrated with Nederland's famous "Frozen Dead Guy Days" every summer.

1999 - Columbine.  Let's face it, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold really got the ball rolling on the whole school-shootings thing.

2004 - Disgruntled citizen Marvin Heemeyer jerryrigs a tank out of his tractor in Granby and mows down the local bank, city hall, and former mayor's house, and then goes on a shooting rampage.

2009 - Balloon Boy...really, no additional explanation necessary.

So, I think you can see where I'm going with this.  I'll update with more little Colorado Connections in the weeks and months to come - but  suffice it to say, we got a lock on the freaks here.  No wonder they chose Colorado to house the SuperMax penitentiary.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What's up with the writer's workshop?

So, inspired by Lori to try to make some cyber-friends, I was tooling around in blog-land and came across this great site --  Mama's Losing It   Mama Kat has this Writer's Workshop thing where she posts prompts and you write to the prompt and then on Thursday you post your prompt to her site.  So I'm trying it out.  I figure it has the added benefit of being a structured writing project every that's what that is all about.

Writer's Workshop - A Open Letter to New Moms...

I just love this, but it's not part of my letter...

Dear New Moms,

If you are anything like me, you are probably holding your sleeping infant right now looking down at him wondering how long it will be before he stops breathing.  You've likely read every book on parenting on the shelves at Barnes and Noble (and even ordered a few extras off Amazon), gone to Walgreen's to stock your medicine cabinet with all things labeled "INFANT," and purchased at least 3 different brands of onesies to make sure you have the most comfortable kind.

But none of it helps - you're still pretty sure you're going to kill him!

I mean, it won't be on purpose or anything, but you just know they shouldn't have let you take him home from the hospital yet.  You're not ready!  He doesn't like you - he doesn't even know you yet!

He's probably going to starve to death because he only eats for like 2 seconds at a time, and there's no way he got all that necessary colostrum, so he's at least going to be retarded or maybe have a club-foot or something.

He can't possibly be getting any REM sleep because he wakes up every 6-8 minutes, and he cries every time you change his clothes or put him in his car seat so you're obviously causing him great pain, or severe annoyance at the very least.

And now, to top it all off, you've had a headache for 3 days and have started sneezing, so you're probably going to give him the swine flu...or maybe Ebola or flesh-eating strep or something.  Let's face it -- you are not responsible enough to care for that child...and that's a big problem!

I know, because I was right there with you 10 years ago!

But, fast forward two and a half years and you'll be telling that darling boy to bring you a diaper while you change his baby sister...and this time, if nothing else, you'll be pretty sure you aren't going to kill her.

And those irrational fears (like the one where you're on the second floor at the mall and you accidentally trip and jettison her over the railing and into the deep fryer at Steak Escape; or the one where you are changing her diaper in the trunk of the car and you accidentally close the trunk with her and your purse and your phone and your keys and it's like 110 degrees outside at the time; or the one where you're looking at highchairs in Target and you set her carseat/carrier down on the floor for a second to get a closer look and you knock the entire shelf over on top of her and she's trapped under all those highchairs and boosters and whatnot) -- those too will subside.  (I mean, you might still occasionally have the one where you forget to put sunscreen on his legs and he gets second degree burns and ends up with melanoma as a young adult, but for the most part, you're okay!)

So on this, your first Mother's Day, go ahead and put him in his crib and take your first shower since you've been home from the hospital...he'll be okay for the 10 minutes you're gone, and your husband may actually remember what you smelled like before the little guy came into your lives.

Happy Mother's Day!


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Denver Dives - The Restaurant Critic Series

Ya Ting Chinese Cuisine, 15622 E. 6th Ave, Aurora
Better known as...Yuck Ting...
Perhaps I should have been clued in by the empty parking lot in this long, lost strip mall on in Northeast Aurora, or maybe the "UFO" shop next door, or the "summer specials" listed in the window (it's April and it snowed yesterday so I don't think even the most optimistic folks could yet call it summer), or that smell of unidentifiable-fried-stuff in oil that has been used a few too many items between changings, or maybe the "ketchup sauce" special listed for $5.99, or perhaps the Minnie Mouse doll the adorned the walls, or even the totally unappetizing photos of various unrecognizable entrees speckling the walls.  I could go on and on and on and on (it's more fun if you sing that ala Don't Stop Believe from Journey)...The clues were all over the place -- we chose to ignore them, but I'll spare you the gory details and instead refer you to Melissa's review

But, you should really see the before and after of my Sesame Chicken.

Maybe you're thinking -- that doesn't look totally unappetizing.  But's the after...

So I'll go with the good news first.  The broccoli was actually pretty good.  (That's the extent of the good news.)  Now for the not-so-good.  The rice was a congealed ball of gummy rice-like-substance, but edible. The eggroll rivaled those that have been sitting under the heatlamps at the Panda in the mall for 2-3 hours. Not good, but if you are forced to choose between that and waterboarding I'd go with the eggroll.  I can't say the same for the Sesame Chicken.  First, I am not at all convinced that the meat-like-food-stuff which was allegedly below the over-fried-breading was actually chicken at all.  That whole "looks like chicken - tastes like chicken - must be chicken" logic can't be applied because it neither looked nor tasted like any meat I'd before had the misfortune of eating.  It was downright terrible!

So, for the first time ever, I am forced to keep all my pulgares to myself and give this place my BIG FAT THUMBS DOWN!!!!

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