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Poetry and snark blogger who also has a creative side (who knew?)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Whinin' In The Rain!

Cover your sensitive ears, folks! The Southeastern Juvenile Whiners have returned and their shrill calls fill the autumnal air! You may remember the Southeastern Whiner (juvenile) from one of my earlier posts describing my volunteer work as a guide for first graders at a local nature center. However, unlike their distinctive summer call ("It's hoooot; I'm tiiiiiired"), the fall call of the juvenile Southeastern Whiners, or SEWers, includes some different sounds that, to the trained ear, are as welcome as the yearly invasion of stink bugs. Listen you hear them? No, not that clicking and beeping-that's the parent chaperones trying to get a cell phone signal in the woods (you guys just keep trying; it'll keep your fingers from getting numb in the fall chill!) "It's cooooold! I caaan't ziiiip my jaaacket!" That's them! Listen to how they form a chorus of SEWers once one starts to whine. The whines increase in volume and intensity until they reach a near fever pitch. It's astounding!

Today was an exceptionally active day for the SEWers, as it was both slightly chilly and rainy. Now I don't know about you, but when I was a child, I LOVED playing in the rain. I would beg my mother to let me go outside and splash in the puddles. If there was a summer downpour, I would put on my swimsuit and stay outside for as long as possible.  I even remember my mother giving my soap and shampoo to shower in the rain because I refused to come inside. Not so these first graders! As soon as we stepped outside onto the damp ground, it started. "It's weeet. It's raaaaaining!" We are not talking about a monsoon here. It was drizzling. No scary thunder. No lightning. Just light drizzle. Up went the protective hoodie hoods and umbrellas to shield our young SEWers from having contact with the nasty water, lest they become   damp. Most of the forest walk was spent with the most vocal whiners notching up the decibels of their distress calls ("I'm getting WEEEEET! My shoes are MUD-DY!!! Can we walk FAAAASTER?!!)  Perhaps the Juvenile Southeastern Whiner melts when exposed to water? I promise I will conduct further research on this issue when my next flock of SEWers arrives at the Nature Center on a rainy day. Maybe I can score a National Science Foundation grant! And donations to advance this important scientific research are always welcome!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Haiku for You

I've been practicing my writing (you have been my guinea piggies!) by doing these writing exercises
She always steals my ideas!
every Monday from the blog  "52 Weeks of Wordage"
You have to write something about a picture. It can be as small as a caption or a long as a short story.  Every week, several winners are posted, and this week, I WAS A WINNER! Click on the link to see my haiku (by Lolamouse).

Childhood Movies That Left Me Traumatized

"What you want for Christmas, child?"
"I want me this cat I found."


Anyone remember those lines? They're from the movie "JT," a 1969 production from the Children's Television Workshop and written by Jane Wagner. As I understand it, "JT" was shown as a Christmas movie for many years, but I remember it from elementary school. It seemed that at least once every year from the time I was in first grade, the teachers would gather all the classes together, sit us on the floor, crank up the projector, and have us watch "JT." There was never any introduction to the movie or discussion afterward. Basically, I think they did it to give themselves an hour break.

naively expecting a happy movie
That movie traumatized me for the rest of my life! A quick summary: JT, a pre-teen African American boy, living with his overworked single mom in a ghetto in New York, is on his way to becoming a liar and thief. He is constantly terrorized by two older boys who are trying to take a radio JT has stolen from a car. Then JT finds and befriends an stray cat and begins taking care of it, demonstrating love and care for this scraggly creature. However, the two thugs find the cat, taunt JT with it, and drop it in the street to its death. JT's family and neighbors finally come together and bring him a kitten to help him in his mourning.

starting to worry about  movie

God, how I HATED when the teachers made us watch that movie! Looking back as an adult, I can see that it is an excellent film that touches on many difficult subjects, such as poverty, bullying, honesty, charity, and love.  But as a small child, the message I got from "JT" was that there were big, mean kids lurking around in alleyways who would chase you and kill your pets! I also didn't understand that the cat in the movie wasn't really dead, so I was always crying my eyes out at the end of the movie and then trying to hide it so other kids wouldn't
trauma complete
make fun of me. What the hell were teachers thinking back in the 60's and 70's?!! My guess now is that they were all in some back room  smoking pot and congratulating themselves on exposing us suburban kids to the hip urban ghetto scene.

If "JT" weren't enough for my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder diagnosis, then the movie "The Red Balloon," another teacher favorite, sealed the deal.

This was a 1956 French movie by Pascal Lamorisse. There was practically no dialogue, which was good because it was in French. Synopsis of "The Red Balloon": Lonely little boy finds sentient, red balloon that follows him everywhere. They become friends. Adults and peers are either disapproving or jealous of the relationship between the boy and his balloon and attempt to disrupt it.  Story ends when a group of horrible boys stone the balloon "to death" as the lonely little boy watches in dismay. Then balloons from all over the city converge on the boy and lift him up into the air and away.

Again, UGH! What was it with our teachers and their movies about packs of antisocial thugs who prey on vulnerable children and destroy the things they care most about? What lesson were we, as first, second, third graders, supposed to take home from this? (Would it even be allowed in school today with the religious imagery and allusions that we all, of course, totally missed as kids?) My take-home lesson from "The Red Balloon" was that lonely, sensitive children will be taunted and when they finally find solace, it will be ripped away from them. I also remember fretting about where the balloons were taking the boy, how he would eventually get down, and whether he would get in trouble for his balloon ride over the city. This movie also contributed to my confusion about whether inanimate objects actually had feelings but just couldn't speak of them. I remember being disconsolate after a friend angrily broke several pencils at my house, taping them back together after she left and apologizing to them.  I blame "The Red Balloon" for this neurotic behavior.

Worst of all, was the "death" scene that was seared into my brain from so many viewings as a young, impressionable child.  The red balloon gets pelted with a rock, slowly deflates and drops to the ground. Its surface becomes bumpy and sick looking as it loses more and more air.  Then, one of the heathens stomps on it with his boot and flattens it. It was, in some perverse way, more graphically violent than the blood and guts we see in today's horrorfests. I will NEVER get that vividly distressing image out of my head, thank you very much Montgomery County, Maryland teachers!

Now, I don't advocate pablum for our kids in the classroom. Purple dinosaurs and happy, multicultural singing children make me want to retch. I think kids are able to and should be exposed to difficult subject matter and made to think.  My problem with what was done to me in school was that there was never any preparation for or discussion about these films afterward. It was like expecting to go for an ice cream and ending up at the doctor for shots without ever being told why. How about some debriefing for those sensitive souls who, to this day, can't see a red balloon or a stray cat without at least a small reminder of childhood trauma? Do you think the Montgomery County Public Schools would pay my therapy bill?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Where's the Merit in Merit Pay?

In a study that I can best describe as "duh" worthy, researchers at Vanderbilt University have found that teacher bonuses are not linked to better student performance. Given the increasing prevalence of merit pay for teachers across the nation, this is surprisingly the first scientifically rigorous study of merit pay in the United States. In the Vanderbilt study, "...researchers tracked what happened in Nashville schools when math teachers in grades 5 through 8 were offered bonuses of $5,000, $10,000 and $15,000 for hitting annual test-score targets... Researchers randomly assigned half of the participants to a control group ineligible for the bonuses and the other half to an experimental group that could receive bonuses if their students reached certain benchmarks." Results showed no significant differences in annual test scores between classes taught by the teachers who were eligible for the bonuses and those who were not.

Advocates of merit pay, including President Obama, who has encouraged its use through Race to the Top Grants, believe that teachers should receive performance bonuses when their students perform above a certain level on standardized tests. I believe this is wrong for a number of reasons. First off, the assumption behind performance bonuses is that students perform poorly in school because of their teachers and that if teachers were more motivated, say, by money, they would teach their students better. I think most teachers would find this highly insulting. If someone were to choose a job for the money, it sure as heck wouldn't be teaching! To think that lack of student performance is due solely to teachers not trying hard would be laughable if it weren't so disrespectful.

Would you want your pay determined by how well someone else does?  And some third party gets to set the standard too! This is the second reason I find merit pay unreasonable. Let's try an example: You're a piano teacher. I'm your student. You're a great teacher, and I love playing the piano for you. This, however, is inconsequential. You don't get your full salary because I made five mistakes during my last recital, and the committee for Piano Perfection set the standard at 3 mistakes. I may be satisfied with my performance. You may be OK with it, but it didn't meet the standard and thus, no bonus for you. Too bad. Let's try another: You're a doctor. You have a very complicated patient with multiple medical problems who gets hospitalized. You keep him in the hospital a day longer than "standard care" in order to fully treat his many problems thoroughly.  You and the patient are both pleased with the competent care he received. Too bad! You are penalized monetarily by the insurance company because your patient didn't get well fast enough. Oh, wait, that's already happening...

Third, merit pay for test scores ignores the reality that children in some schools come to school at extreme disadvantages compared to their peers in other schools. Socioeconomic status is the largest predictor of test scores, and it is much easier to meet test expectations in a school district where children come from homes filled with nutritional food, warm clothes, lots of books, and a safe and supervised environment to learn and play than from homes without these things.  Teachers who have to deal with children's physical, social, and emotional needs on an intense level on a daily basis have less time to devote to test preparation. When their pay is tied to how well their students perform, this gives a disincentive to teachers to work with difficult student populations who probably need help the most. Perhaps the teachers of "at-risk" students should be the ones to receive bonuses without regard to test scores, as they often perform two jobs-teacher and social worker.

Lastly, as this study indicates, merit pay does not work. Leaving aside the issue of whether standardized test scores are a valid way to measure student progress (another rant altogether!), issuing bonuses to teachers for increased scores does not produce results.  Perhaps teachers would be better served by providing them with increased support and training opportunities rather than just demanding that they produce results. Perhaps paying ALL teachers a decent living wage and providing them with the supplies they need for their classrooms so that they don't have to purchase them out of their own pockets would also be a wise use of funds. Perhaps if we got the bureaucrats out of our classrooms and allowed our teachers to actually teach rather than administer standardized tests that determine their and their students' fates, some learning might actually take place in school.

5th grade standardized math test question

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

That's Some Yummy Genetically Modified FDA Approved Salmon Food! or Have Another Splice

Breaking news!!! What's in the water?!! Pathos in the pond!!! A bizarre tragedy ended what should have been a fun-filled family fishing expedition for little Timmy Anybody. The spunky 4 year-old was holding his pint-sized fishing rod aboard his family's boat in local waters when he felt a tug and began reeling in his catch. His father remembers...

"He was so excited. He was yelling, 'I got one, Daddy! I think it's a big one!' I'm sorry, it's just so sad. It was his first big fishing trip. I don't usually cry like this, sorry." 

That's when it all went wrong for this local fishing family. As Timmy reeled in his catch, and his proud Daddy helped him scoop it up in the net, they both soon realized that Timmy's "big one" was more than either could have bargained for. Timmy's father again,

"I don't know what that SOB was! I ain't never seen nothing like it! It was HUGE! And fierce! As soon as it came outta the water, it started for Timmy, biting at him like some kind of rabid animal! It grabbed onto his arm and wouldn't let go. I kept trying to pry it off, but its teeth were too strong.  It just kept biting and biting. It was the biggest dang fish I ever seen. I thought it was gonna swallow him whole, but it dropped onto the deck of the boat. I grabbed my gun and blew that demon back to hell."

Timmy is now in a local hospital where he is listed in critical condition due to multiple bite wounds, blood loss, and ichthyophtirius. Tissue samples from the shot fish have been sent to a lab for analysis, but it appears that Timmy may have caught a previously unseen species of salmon.


Breaking news!!! Frankenfish identified! Laboratory and DNA analysis have confirmed that the gigantic fish which attacked 4 year-old Timmy Anybody yesterday afternoon is a type of salmon produced by the Genoplay Corporation and approved by the FDA for marketing as "food" last year.  Speculation runs wild (unlike this salmon) as to why this particular salmon grew so monstrously large and aggressive so quickly.  The Genoplay Corp. was quick to defend its product. Their CEO, Ted Richerstill, stated, "When raised in proper conditions, fed a proper diet, harvested under proper procedures, shipped properly, stored in the proper manner, and cooked according to proper directions, our salmon is totally safe." When questioned about Genoplay's salmon farm, located within the perimeter of the ProfitFirst Nuclear Energy plant, Mr. Richerstill boasted that the inexpensive land he was able to purchase for this facility saved his company money, which he was then able to pass on to consumers.

Both Genoplay and ProfitFirst downplayed the danger to the public from genetically altered salmon and/or salmon raised near a nuclear power facility.  "While our hearts go out to little Timmy and his family, we believe this tragedy is an isolated incident. It is highly unlikely that another salmon would escape from the salmon farm into public water, and even if one did, they are sterile, and even if they're not, they're just like normal salmon, except they grow a little faster. And there is absolutely no reason to think that nuclear waste would escape from the ProfitFirst facility. And even if it did, there would just be a tiny amount and it would have a negligible effect.  We have the utmost faith that salmon and nuclear energy are healthy and safe for our community!"


Breaking news!!! Gigantic snakeheaded salmon attacks elderly woman and dog!!! Feral cat saves the day! They said it couldn't happen, but somehow it has! In what sounds like a script from a horror movie, an elderly woman out walking her Pomeranian was wounded in an unprovoked attack by a mutant fish!  

Idamae Stoop (78) was taking her daily stroll around her pond in Seniors Siesta when she noticed something crawling out of the water. "I thought maybe it was a beaver or some other cute critter, so I went over there with Miss Pom Pom, my dog, to have a looksee. Well, then quick as you know, this fish thing sort of jumps out of the pond and scurries over and tries to bite my leg! Good thing I had on my support stockings! Miss Pom Pom started barking, and that fish tried to eat my dog!" Luckily for Mrs. Stoop and Miss Pom Pom, an observant cat residing in the neighborhood and hungry for a meal, launched a surprised attack of its own on the snakehead salmon, biting and clawing chunks of mutant fish flesh from its body.  The fish retreated back to the pond, and the cat enjoyed some salmon sushi!

Residents in the area of Seniors Siesta are advised to be wary, especially around water. It appears as though the genetically modified, potentially nuclear-enhanced salmon have now breeded with the dreaded snakehead fish, which is able to crawl out of the water onto land.  CEOs of Genoplay Corp. and ProfitFirst are now offering $200 to any resident who catches a snakehead salmon and brings it to either corporation for "further study."  They are also offering $500 to the winner of a recipe contest using snakehead salmon as the main ingredient.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Just Say NO to Abstinence Programs

Great news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention! 97 percent of teens report that they have received some type of "formal" sex education before age 18. With almost all of our teens educated about sex, we should be seeing a decrease in the teen birthrate and in sexually transmitted diseases, right? The teen birthrate actually increased from 2005 to 2007, and, according to a 2008 CDC study, 1 in 4 teenage girls has an STD.

What could explain these seemingly contradictory findings? Could it possibly be the quality (or lack) of the sex education our teens are receiving? Looking further at the CDC study, we find that only about 2/3 of teens have been taught about methods of birth control by the end of high school despite having had "sex education." What is it that they're learning? Could it be ABSTINENCE?

We love our "Just Say NO" programs. We tell our teenagers to say no to drinking, drugs, and sex and then pat ourselves on the back for a job well-done as parents and educators. This is utter BS!  Abstinence programs have increased dramatically over the last several years despite evidence of their ineffectiveness. A larger percentage of teens report that they received instruction on "how to say no" (about 84 percent) than on how to use birth control (about 66 percent). Well, given that the teen birth rate is rising, and a quarter of teen girls have an STD, it sure looks like abstinence is not altogether popular among the kids today! Indeed, the rates of STDs are no different among those teens who took a pledge of abstinence and those who didn't! However, males who took an abstinence pledge were less likely to use a condom than those who didn't take the pledge. You can't protect yourself or your partner from pregnancy and STDs if you don't plan ahead and take precautions; you can't take precautions if you can't admit you're going to have sex.

Maybe we should consider putting some education back into sex education and leaving the morality component to parents and religious institutions. Teaching "sex education" without teaching birth control is like teaching math without teaching multiplication. A little knowledge is just one step above complete ignorance.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pain (t) in My Tuchas!!!

This is a story about discrimination. This is a story about striving to overcome seemingly unconquerable obstacles. This is a story about pressing on in the face of hardship with courage and determination. This is a story to inspire hope and, perhaps, understanding. This is a story with really bad pictures.

The Evil Mouse Who Didn't Want LolaMouse to Paint

Once upon a time there was a girl who liked to write. She had a blog that was read by many people (like 5!) Her blog name was LolaMouse.

 One day LolaMouse decided that she would really like to be able to put some pictures in her blog. "I'm tired of using other people's pictures in my blog!" exclaimed LolaMouse.  "I want to draw my own pictures!"

So LolaMouse set out to learn how to draw pictures on her computer. This was not an easy task for little LolaMouse, as she was neither an artist nor very computer literate.  But she was a determined girl, and she read and watched YouTube videos and practiced on her computer.  Her drawings were somewhat less than stellar.  In fact, they resembled large mouse droppings rudely smooshed on the computer screen.  Sometimes in neon colors!

A work of art, no?

"What could be the problem?" pondered LolaMouse? Aside from possessing little artistic talent and having never used the MS Paint program before, she couldn't imagine why her drawings looked like the random scribbles of a spastic 3 year-old chimpanzee. Then the answer became clear! It was the mouse!

LolaMouse used the computer mouse in her right hand because that's how it was set up for her computer desk. It was also constructed to curve to fit the right hand, with the right and left click buttons designed for right handed users.  LolaMouse, however, was LEFT HANDED! She had come to accept ambidexterity as a necessary evil when using the computer, but it presented a major handicap when drawing. Imagine having to draw with your nondominant hand! How unfair!

She tried switching the mouse to her left hand, but the shape was awkward, and the click buttons were in the wrong places! LolaMouse was expected to do everything backwards because she was left handed.  That was just not right! It was discriminatory! It was EVIL!

 Did LolaMouse become irate, curse angrily, and slam the evil mouse down on the table? Did she give up on her dream of drawing? Well, yes, she did! But only temporarily! After some rest, chocolate, and another dose of her Effexor, LolaMouse was ready to face the evil mouse and MS Paint again.  She practiced with her right hand. She practiced with her left hand. She made LOTS of mistakes, but she also made some pictures.

Most of her pictures sucked, but she was proud of them anyway. LolaMouse fought against the evil computer mouse and won! Perhaps one day, she will live in a world where those who are born left handed won't have to work twice as hard as those who are right handed to accomplish the same result. Perhaps one day, only her lack of skill, and not the evil mouse, will be the sole obstacle to  LolaMouse's drawing. Until that day comes, maybe you can draw some inspiration from LolaMouse.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Happy Jew New Year!!!

So, it's the High Holy Days for us Jews. Last Wednesday was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish "New Year," and this Saturday is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  As a dedicated "Contrarian" Jew, I have not attended services with our local congregation because once they became large and organized enough to hire a rabbi, rent a space, and hold regular services, they began to charge membership dues.  I don't like the idea of having to pay to belong to a religious organization, so I quit.  

I now mark the holidays with my own ritual, baking challah, the traditional Jewish egg bread. During the high holy days, it is made in a circular shape, to symbolize the circle of life (all sing, "It's the Circle of Life...") The idea is that between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Book of Life is opened, and God decides whether or not your name gets written inside it for another year (cue Jeopardy music...) During this week, Jews are supposed to reflect, pray, and atone for their sins so that they can begin the new year fresh.  At the end of the week, the Book of Life is inscribed and closed, and you better hope your name is in it! 
You're also supposed to fast on Yom Kippur until sunset.  I, however, get really bad migraines if I don't eat, so I go to my parents' house on Yom Kippur and pay my dues by suffering that way! After a day of providing my opinion on whether the beige or the cream lamp goes better with bedspread and nodding with sympathy as Great Aunt Beverly gives me the details of her back surgery for the third time, I'm about ready to convert to Catholicism, but then I'd have to stop using birth control, so I quickly dismiss that idea!

Besides, as my husband (who's a lapsed Catholic) and I have discussed, Jews and Catholics are basically the same.  Both religions are based on chicken soup and guilt!

L'shana tova (may your name be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year!)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

And Now A Commercial Message

 Watch this commercial for the Schick Quattro TrimStyle for Women please. I'll wait..........


Notice anything? Did you watch the background scenery as the woman walked by? I don't know if I'm just hyperattentive or other people are just not "tuned in" to subliminal cues, but I found this ad glaringly unsubtle in its message: TRIM YOUR BUSH!!!

Schick has been running this commercial for quite a while now, and no one I've mentioned it to has noticed the pubic hair imagery until I point it out. I suppose if it's meant to work on a subconscious level, that makes it a successful ad, but it sure does make me feel like an odd duck! I never considered myself particularly pube obsessed. Never even had a bikini wax, much less a Brazilian (ouch!) Why am I the only one who immediately laughed the first time I saw this ad? Is it just me or are there others out there who "got" this commercial? Please tell me I'm not alone!

Blatant Promotion!!!

Tired of the same old music? Here is a band out of Asheville that you definitely have NOT heard before. They're called "Humble Thumb" and are 4 guys who play a variety of instruments (including the saw!) and a real mix of musical styles. Give em a listen-you may just find something you like!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dance Your Pants Off

Breaking news!!! Due to my phenomenal internet scouring prowess, I became privy to a piece of earth shattering information that is of vital importance to us all. Why our regularly scheduled TV programming was not interrupted in order to broadcast this momentous announcement is unclear to me, but I believe that once you hear it, you too will recognize its tremendous significance and the staggering implications it carries for the very foundations on which our society is built.  Ready? Sitting down? Ladies, have you emptied your bladders?   

Okay, here goes: Researchers at the Northumbria University in England and the University of Gottingen in Germany have preliminary data suggesting that women are most attracted to men who have big, flamboyant dance moves! Wait! There's more! The study further concludes that "attractive human dance moves, particularly those of males, have been reported to show associations with measures of physical strength, prenatal androgenization and symmetry." I know, I was dumbfounded myself when I first read this article, but THIS IS SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH!!! 
What physical strength, prenatal androgenization, and symmetry!
 These dedicated researchers didn't just send a bunch of white lab coated she-scientists to Chippendale's for a night out, they did a real experiment and collected real data! They used "advanced three-dimensional motion-capture technology to identify possible biomechanical differences between women's perceptions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ male dancers." And what, exactly, did this advanced 3-D motion-capture technology discover? Women prefer men who move their necks, torsos, and right knees a lot when they dance. Who knew? Apparently, John Travolta did in Saturday Night Fever. And Napoleon Dynamite! According to this study's hypothesis, these men(?) may give off  "signals of male quality in terms of health, vigour or strength" that may be of utmost importance to courting rituals and ultimately mating. So, guys, if you want to get that girl, work on your dancing, particularly your neck, torso, and right knee moves.

Napoleon Dynamite Dance Scene
Watch Napoleon demonstrate his mating rituals!

I guess this study also explains the dance stylings displayed by the openly gay Cazwell in his video "Ice Cream Truck."  Notice that these men, while demonstrating many flamboyant moves, focus on the lower half of the body, particularly the pelvis. Instead of the neck, they move the tongue. Wrong, wrong, wrong! This type of behavior should NOT be perceived as attractive by women according to the research. In the name of science, I've been studying this video closely to see if I agree or disagree with this hypothesis.  So far, I've watched it 27 times...  

Shout out to Annah at Red Means Go for posting this video and for her awesome blog!!!!%29

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What Would Jesus Burn?

You've just gotta love those charismatic churches, right? Makes me wanna throw up my hands and shout "Amen!" Actually, it just makes me want to throw up.

Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center, a non-denominational church in Gainesville, Florida, announced that his church would be sponsoring a "Burn a Koran Day" on September 11th. According to the "International Burn a Koran Day" Facebook page, the event is meant to "bring to awareness to the dangers of Islam and that the Koran is leading people to hell."  September 11 was chosen, natch, because of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on 9/11/2001. However, this year it also happens to correspond to the Islamic holiday of Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting.  Thus, burning a Koran on this date is doubly offensive to Muslims.

It should also be noted that many Islamic leaders have called for a day of service instead of the usual parties this year on Eid in order to show respect for the tragedy of 9/11. Others have encouraged their congregations to make sure their festivities are on a day other than 9/11.  This move by the Muslim community seems respectful , thoughtful, and peaceful, why, something sort of like Jesus would do!

I wonder whether Dr. Jones of the Dove (aren't doves symbols of love and peace BTW?) World Outreach Center church asked himself, "What Would Jesus Do?" before preaching to his flock of inbred, borderline IQ lemmings? Did he then answer, "I know! Jesus would want us to burn the holy book of the Islamic faith thus igniting the hatred and resentment of thousands, if not millions, of Muslims both here and abroad!  Why, our actions might even put our troops in Afghanistan in more danger!" Indeed, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, has warned that Islamic extremists would undoubtedly use images of a burning Koran to incite violence. Dr. Jones, in his defense, did say that he would "pray about it."  Sounds mighty Christian to me!

Of course, we shouldn't judge Terry Jones and the Dove World Outreach Center by their "Islam Is of the Devil" campaign alone. (T-shirts with this fun slogan are available on their website! C'mon Christmas and Hanukkah are coming soon!) This is also the church that launched the "No Homo Mayor" protest of August 2, 2010 in Gainesville, FL to protect its citizens against a gay mayor.  They proudly declare that homosexuality is "detestable, indecent, wicked, offensive, perverted, shameful, unnatural, degrading, impure, futile, foolish, godless, dishonorable, a lie." See? They don't just hate Muslims!

I really hope that come 9/11, Terry Jones has a change of heart.  Perhaps he'll decide to cancel the Koran burning in order to avoid causing harm to our troops overseas.  At least he can appear patriotic that way. I know he won't have a change of mind about the sheer ridiculousness of his ideas. One must first have a mind in order to change it.  If he decides to go ahead with his ill planned idea, perhaps Gen. Petraeus could order some sort of small scale air strike or land attack on the Dove World Outreach Center.  I might even volunteer for that mission!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Where Have All My Tchotchkes Gone?

Okay, my last post about the typewriter eraser got me to thinking, and that's always dangerous.  I started remembering all the tchotchkes from my past that are now obsolete.  I think tribute should be paid to these once quotidian, now forgotten relics of MY past.  So, here goes:


The record player in a suitcase:

This little number was an essential item to every child growing up in the 60s and 70s, as it played your 45 records.  When you were done playing your records, you put them in your record case (preferably decorated with psychedelic colors and patterns) and closed up your suitcase record player and latched it. It had a convenient carrying handle and was often a lovely plaid and the outside.

 The 45 insert or adapter:

This indispensable doodad made it possible to play 45 records on a standard turntable by adapting the hole in the middle to the correct size.  They were usually yellow plastic and could often be found under sofas in basements.



The milkbox:

No, not the cardboard containers you got in school with the "Have You Seen Me?" pictures on them but the big, metal boxes you set out on your porch or front steps for milk and dairy delivery. Delivery?!!  Yep, kiddos, our milk, eggs, and other dairy products were delivered by a milkman to our house!  What seems like such a luxury now (think Peapod) was the norm back then.


Ahh, dittos....those purple hued sheets of paper our schoolwork was printed on before copiers and printers became cheap and easy.  The ditto machine used some type of spirit alcohol to make the prints, and all the kids would put the freshly made dittos (you could tell they were freshly made because they were cold and sort of damp) to our noses and inhale.  How many young braincells happily floated off into the classrooms of the 60s and 70s because of dittos? And will anyone in the future understand the rationale for the phrase "ditto" meaning "the same?"

Carbon paper:  

Another relic from the times before printers and copy machines.  Remember coated side down? Remember the black smudges all over your fingers?  Remember trying to use the sheet as many times as possible so as not to waste it and have to buy more?  Remember having to line it up with the sheets of paper in your typewriter (the typewriter again!) so your copies wouldn't come out with the print all crooked?  Can you even find carbon paper today?  The closest thing is that carbon-less paper that makes copies when you press on it (the bottom copy is yours).  When I had to fill out a form using paper of this type, my teenage daughter thought it was magic! She'd never seen anything like it, having grown up in the age of printers and not having had to sign credit card slips yet! I do miss the thin, crinkly, skinlike feel of carbon paper (but not the smudges!)

The rotary phone:

Now that landlines are almost obsolete, it's hard to imagine that once upon a time, endtables, desks, counters, and walls once held these odd looking devices.  You not only had to know the number you wanted to dial, you actually had to dial, not push buttons or speak into the phone!  I still have one of these dinosaurs in my house, and my 14 year-old daughter had no idea how to use it!  I had to explain how to insert a finger into the holes of the rotary dial and move it around in a circular manner.  She found it incredibly difficult and quite amusing.  I, for one, still find it easier than trying to press the teeny, tiny keys on my cell phone without hitting the ones next to them!

I believe it's time for not just one, but many sculptures to honor the mundane but unnecessary tchotchkes of our pasts.  They could join the typewriter eraser (see my previous post) in a garden of ghostly gewgaws.  Each generation could add several pieces to the collection, and class fieldtrips would be required for historical and anthropological studies.  Also, parents could use it as a family destination to torture their children, happily reminiscing about their favorite trinkets and out-of-date technology while their progeny's eyes roll back into their heads in a boredom induced coma.  Don't forget the Polaroid!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Is This Big Enough?

Is this big enough to erase my wrinkles?
Is this big enough to erase my wrinkles?!! Did you know it was an eraser? Well, in case you're the 20 something woman who was standing perplexed in front of this sculpture, ambiguously entitled "Typewriter Eraser," and asking, "What is it?", it's a friggin' typewriter eraser biatch! It pains me that I'm now of a certain age (that would be "old") that a myriad of objects that were commonplace to me have faded into obscurity and, in fact, are no longer even recognized by people of another certain age (that would be "young.") I don't know where the cut-off is, but the typewriter eraser sculpture in the National Gallery Sculpture Garden seems to illustrate the point well. When I saw this sculpture, I smiled and laughed at the absurdity of the scale of this mundane image while Miss Underdeveloped squinted and scowled as she tried to discern why the pizza cutter had such a strange handle. I wonder if she had ever seen a typewriter. Sigh.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

RIP James J. Lee

"I could drive anyone to murder!"
It's hard for me not to feel a little sympathetic for James J. Lee, the wackjob who took 3 hostages at the Discovery Channel yesterday and was subsequently shot to death by police.  He claimed that he was acting in protest of the Discovery Channel's programming of such shows as "Kate Plus Eight" and "19 Kids and Counting." Hard to argue with the guy on that one! Have you ever seen these shows? Kate Gosselin is a publicity whore who pimps out her miserable kids to make money and willingly airs her dirty laundry for more TV face time.  The Bible thumpers on 19 Kids and Counting (it may be in the 20s by now) are a massive clan headed by a man who believes in keeping his wife pregnant at all times while the wife remains eternally cheerful and placid, as if post frontal lobotomy. 
The Duggars lobotomized clan    

Lee also claimed that "humans are the most destructive, filthy, pollutive creatures around and are wrecking what's left of the planet with their false morals and breeding cultures." Well, it's hard to look around at us, read the news, or think about the global warming, the Gulf oil spill, and world hunger and not give the guy some cred.  He ostensibly was able to see through the network's "feel good" veneer and note that at least one of its environmental programs "was about more PRODUCTS to make MONEY, not actual solutions." 

Now, strapping on explosives and taking hostages are where Lee's reasoning got a bit spotty.  Granted, it earned him attention, but it most likely did not win him converts to his cause.  People tend not to like terrorists, even if their message is a good one.  If your actions speak too loudly, no one can hear your message.  Poor James J. Lee. If he had just spoken a little more softly, perhaps many more people would have heard him and would have been moved to listen.