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

Monday, October 14, 2013

Nationwide Insurance Salutes Miyazaki?

Anyone else find the new Nationwide Insurance ad creepy?

Every time I see that big baby, I think of Boh from "Spirited Away!"

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I Am The People of Walmart!

I hang my sorry head in shame as I write this post. It's almost too painful to admit, but admitting is the first step in healing.


If you haven't had the pleasure of meeting The People Of Walmart, take a moment to acquaint yourself  by perusing the photos (or better yet, don't-do something useful with your life!) If you live near a Walmart, you know the type, right? They look like they're dressed up for a "Most Dirty and Deranged" contest or have just wandered in for some smokes after a tough night of heroin and whoring. Yeah, those people.

Well, friends, I can no longer look down my nose at The People Of Walmart (and believe me, it was a LONG way down!) Due to a confluence of circumstances that occurred a few weeks ago, I found myself in the local Walmart looking like a page torn from Homeless Monthly (Special Summer Edition). And just how did such an unthinkable situation happen to moi? Let me tell you...

It was a typical summer morning in Southern Maryland.  By 8:00 a.m., the sun was burning holes in the roof shingles, and the air was moist with humidity and nuclear waste from the power plant. I went downstairs to let my dogs, a poodle and a Maltese, out in the yard. I was wearing my usual pre-shower outfit: "fat" shorts (baggy gray cotton drawstring-ooh, sexy!), yesterday's T-shirt sans bra, no make-up, matted hair, and bare feet. Yes, I'm a perennial vision of femininity and loveliness! I opened the basement door, and the dogs shot out into the yard. 

After about a minute, however, I heard the unmistakable whine of a dog. I glanced out the door and saw my miniature poodle nose to nose with a large copperhead snake! If you are not familiar with copperheads, they are the only venomous snake species in Southern Maryland and look like this: 

The snake was hissing and bobbing its head, and my dog was trying to sniff it. Meanwhile, the other dog was running around barking and jumping like he had placed a bet on the fight (I don't know whom he was rooting for.) I couldn't take the time to go upstairs to get my shoes, so I grabbed what was available in the basement closet: big, black snow boots, and out I ran. I grabbed my stupid poodle in one arm, the Maltese in the other and tossed them both back inside the house. The dogs, of course, were incensed that I had cut short their fun and tried to escape. That was when I made the fatal error: I slammed shut the basement door.

It took me only a second to realize that I had locked myself out of the house. "Not to worry," I naively thought to myself. "I can just use the key pad on the garage door to get into the garage, where I keep a spare house key." I breezily trotted off to open the garage door. No such luck. The key pad would not work. The battery was dead.

I assessed my situation. The dogs were safe, and I was outside with the sun blazing and the temperature quickly rising (the predicted high that day was in the upper 90s). I had nothing on me: no car keys, no money, no water. After trying to pry open a few windows on the ground floor, I also had no fingernails. What to do?

Reluctantly, I walked over to a nearby friend's house to see if she might have a battery to fit my key pad. After banging on the door several times, her teenage son answered. She was not home. So, picture me, in all my sweaty, floppy boobed, ridiculously clad glory, explaining my situation to a 19 year-old guy. Awkward, to say the least. I must give this young man credit, however. Instead of laughing and closing the door on my sorry ass, he looked for a battery, which he could not find. Then he offered to Google "How To Pick a Lock" on YouTube and try to assist me in breaking into my own home. What a guy!

Armed with bobby pins and paper clips, we went back to my house. After about an hour of trying to pick the locks on the basement and front doors to no avail, we gave up. It sure looks easier in the videos! I declared my house burglar-proof and myself up the proverbial creek. Then came the words that would forever change my life: "I can drive you to Walmart to buy a battery."

On the one hand, I was hot, thirsty, tired, and really, REALLY wanted to get back in my house. On the other hand, I had no money and was wearing my fat shorts, a dirty T-shirt, no bra, and black snow boots. I really, REALLY did not want to be seen in public. In the end, thirst and fatigue won out. I swallowed what was left of my pride and got into his car. He drove me to Walmart, where I had to borrow money from a 19 year-old to buy a battery.  Yes, my life had come to this. I looked not significantly different from all the rednecks, hoochy baby mamas, and wackadoos that normally convene at Walmart. I could not judge. I had become one of "them."

So, if you happen to come across a photo of a 50ish woman with sweat soaked hair, floppy boobs, dirty T-shirt, and baggy shorts who is sporting snow boots in the middle of the summer while shopping at Walmart, please be kind. Remember, I was once a nice, normal, respectable person. Now, I am one of "The People of Walmart."

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mother Nature Can Be a Bitch!

Okay, I know I probably asked for it. You know the saying "Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it?" Well, I have always wished for a home surrounded by wildlife. Yes, I am teasingly called "Nature Girl" because I volunteer at our local nature center, love animals, and think snakes are cool. However, even Nature Girl has her limits.

This summer in Southern MD has brought more and varied flora and fauna to my doorstep (and, at times, over the threshold!) than I could ever imagine! I love the abundance of swallowtail butterflies that are all over my yard. My dog is enjoying trying to catch the skinks that seem to be popping out everywhere. I didn't even mind the cicadas that recently swarmed us for their 17 year orgy. But, recent sightings have made even me a tad squeamish about the natural "wonders" in our part of the world.

Centipedes have invaded Southern MD this summer. I find them clinging to the backyard screen door and creepily crawling around my basement. I even found a few in bathtubs! Besides having multitudes of long, skinny legs, they move incredibly fast, which makes them hard to catch. Remember those rubber bugs that you could buy out of gumball machines as a kid? Yeah, they look like that!

Not pretty centipede
Our basement also seems to be home to hundreds of camel crickets. I have nothing against crickets, but these guys aren't the Jiminy Cricket shiny, black musical kind. Oh no. These are Quasimodo's cousins! They are brownish, hunchbacked, and tend to drop a leg whenever I try to catch them. Who does that?!! And why are their antennae so long? Are they trying to broadcast radio signals from Kazakhstan?

not cute cricket that we have

cute  cricket

this guy is on the small side!
While I'm on the subject of our basement, can we talk about wolf spiders? These things are freaks of nature! I'm not arachnophobic. I find spider webs beautiful and fascinating. I even took photos of the black widow spider I found in our rafters (then got rid of it!) Wolf spiders, however, are a blight on spiderhood. These monstrosities don't even have the courtesy to make webs. They just lurk about in dark places waiting to scare the crap out of you. If you've never had the pleasure of meeting a wolf spider, think dark, furry, and BIG! Too big to squish. With legs included, wolf spiders can easily grow to be the size of your hand. I've seen one who's body alone was as big as my palm! That's the size of pet, not a bug! I've had to trap more than my fair share of wolf spiders this summer, and I don't even want to think about how many are still hiding in the dark corners of my basement. Shiver. 

slime mold, a lovely addition to any garden!
Lest you think that it's only insects (I know, spiders are not insects. Let it go.) that have infested my house and made this summer less than enjoyable, I have some flora to show you that will make you want a concrete yard! First, let me introduce you to slime mold. This beast likes to make its home in our mulch. It begins its wretched life as a bright yellow blob, then transforms itself to look like dog vomit. It makes a lovely complement to your summer flowers! It also spreads, so you can be assured that when you find slime mold in your garden, more is on the way! Yay!

in its dog vomit stage
Here's one for you fans of nature porn! In addition to being disgustingly phallic in its presentation, the stinkhorn mushroom also emits a nauseating smell! What fun! I think stinkhorn mushrooms were Mother Nature's idea of a practical joke. I'm not laughing.

no comment
While I'm on the subject of undesirable phallic objects, I'll tell you about the snakes I've encountered this summer. Now, I like snakes. I think they're cool looking and I've held some at the Nature Center. I generally don't mind finding a snake in my yard because chances are, it's not venomous. There is only one venomous snake in our area, the copperhead. Guess what snake decided to visit my backyard several days ago? If you guessed copperhead, go to the head of the class!

not a dog toy!
Of course, the copperhead was in the yard at the same time as my dogs, a miniature poodle and a Maltese. They are both oblivious to the fact that copperhead snakes are not dog toys and thus, should not be approached, sniffed, and put into a dog mouth. When I entered the scene, the copperhead was bobbing its head and lashing out to bite my poodle, who just kept jumping in the air and then trying to catch it again! Luckily, all involved escaped unharmed, including the copperhead, who, I'm hoping will find somewhere else to catch the sun.

Probably the most common snake I find here is the black rat snake. As I mentioned previously, they are not venomous (though they will bite) and are helpful in eradicating small rodents. I typically like finding them. Typically. This summer has not been typical. I found a pair of black rat snakes mating on my grill! I'm all for snake love, but we cook our food on that grill! Yuck.

found one of these chillin' in my basement
I've also found snakes lounging on the blinds on my basement door (inside) and having a rest in the middle of my basement carpet! This is too close to nature for my comfort!

So, it's been an eventful summer here is Southern MD! Spiders, and slime mold, and snakes, oh my! Nature Girl is looking forward to her trip to New York City next month! At least there, the slime and snakes will be human!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Restrictive TX Abortion Bill Struck Down!

A crowd of chanting, singing, shouting demonstrators effectively took over the Texas Capitol and blocked a bill that abortion rights groups warned would close most abortion clinics in the state. This was after Senator Wendy Davis's 11 hour filibuster was halted by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Texas lawmakers had to vote on the bill before a 12:00 a.m. deadline. The combination of Davis's filibuster and the subsequent "people's filibuster" effectively prevented a vote on the bill. Democracy in action, folks!

Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, left, who tries to filibuster an abortion bill, reacts as time expires


The Supreme Court gets it right!!!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Classification of Field Trip Chaperone Species

I volunteer teach at a local nature center.  Every week a class of first graders visits for a lesson on animal habitats and a hike through our swampy forest.  I like kids. I like nature. What I don’t like are the parent chaperones who accompany their kids on these field trips and annoy the hell out of me and ruin any possible fun their kids could have in the outdoors.  If you recognize yourself as one of the following types of parent (and by parent, I mean any adult who comes with a child on a field trip), then do your child and the nature center staff a huge favor and stay home. Please.

The “My Child Is Special” Parent
This parent honestly and truly believes that his or her child is more sensitive, intelligent, or “special” in some way than the rest of the class. I’m not talking about parents of children who have autism or some other legitimate issue. I’m talking about the parents that regale you with stories of how little Olivia said her first word in utero and began reading Shakespeare to overcome boredom between breast feedings. These are the parents who glare menacingly when you tell their darling Madison that it’s time to sit on her bottom and not time to climb in the turtle tank. These are the parents who allow their child to eat whenever he is hungry although the other children must wait until lunch time.  The parents of these “special” children do not believe that their child should be made to follow the same rules as the rest of the class or he may have his creative spirit squashed. I have one thing to say to these parents: Your child is not special. Your child is coddled, pampered, and most probably developing a mammoth sense of entitlement. You are making your child into someone the world will hate.

The “Let’s See If I Know More Than You Do” Parent
These parents have at least some basic knowledge about animals, plants, and nature and are keen to demonstrate that knowledge to anyone, especially the guide who is teaching their child’s class. They will not allow the teacher to make a statement without challenging it, adding to it, or asking some esoteric question. For example, I may say, “In this tree here are some holes made by a woodpecker.” The “Let’s See If I Know More Than You Do” parent may counter, “What type of woodpecker made them? A downy? A red bellied? Do you get many pileated woodpeckers in this forest?” Seriously? Do you really need to know this information? And more to the point, do I look like an ornithologist to you? Read my name badge; it says “volunteer,” not avian specialist. When one of these parents continues to show me up, I can usually make him (it’s always the dads) stop by complimenting his extensive knowledge and suggesting that I’m sure he would love to fill out a volunteer application because we always need more help. That shuts ’em up.

The “I’m Too Important To Turn Off My Cell Phone” Parent
If your job is so important that your “people” need to be able to communicate with you 24/7, perhaps you should reconsider chaperoning a field trip where you will be hiking in a somewhat remote forest. If you are lucky, your cell phone reception will be sketchy. More likely, it will be nonexistent. We can all hear you scream, “Can you hear me?!! What?!!” and mumble expletives, but we can’t hear the birds or crickets. This takes away from the ambiance of the natural world somewhat. Furthermore, if you are busy giving your surgical resident step-by-step directions on that pesky heart bypass you’re supposed to be supervising, I doubt that you are really paying close attention to your young charges on the field trip. Oops! Was that your child who just fell in the creek? Maybe you can call for help on your cell phone.

The “I’m Only Here For the Gossip” Parent
Yes, I know that it’s not often you get to see other adults in a social setting because you’re usually busy at work, but guess what? This isn’t a social setting either. This is your child’s field trip, an educational activity in which you are supposed to be assisting. If you’re busy chatting with Dot about her latest spat with her husband in the back of the classroom, then you are not intervening when little Cody starts picking at the bottom of his sneaker and eating the dirt. You’re also distracting. Shut up.

The “No One Told Me” Parent
Prior to each field trip, a letter is sent out to potential parent chaperones outlining the activities of the day and clearly stating that they and their children should “dress for the weather.” It also advises them that the field trip requires moderate walking. Then, on field trip day, the bus pulls up and off steps a woman in a business suit and heels, her manicured nails freshly painted and her hair perfectly coifed. Whenever I see someone dressed like this, I have the urge to remove all chairs from the room and force the chaperones to sit “criss cross apple sauce” like the first graders on the floor. This parent is appalled that she has to slog through sandy and muddy trails and get spider web detritus on her Chanel suit. You know who you are, Ms. “I can’t wear faded jeans, a frayed T shirt, and sneakers to my job.” Too bad. We told you. And we’re not paying the dry cleaner’s bill either.
I must admit to feeling a little bad for the parent (often a grandparent) who’s morbidly obese, has an artificial hip, and walks (walks is putting it kindly; it’s more like lumbers) with a cane. I know you want to be a part of your child’s life, but you are clearly in over your head. Witnessing a heart attack is detrimental to children’s mental health, or so it seems to me. Be a part of your child’s life in a more sedentary way, like watching “American Idol” together or playing poker. 

The “I Want To Be Back In School” Parent
I know it’s exciting to have a day off work, wear your dirty sneakers, and tramp around in the woods. This does not mean, however, that you are a first grader again. You are an adult. You were adult enough to create a child, so be the adult. It’s incredibly irritating to ask a bunch of first graders a question and have one of the chaperones call out the answer. First of all, we raise our hands to answer a question. Second of all, I WASN’T ASKING YOU! Let the kids answer the questions please. I promise that if you want one, I’ll give you a “Good Job!” sticker anyway.

The “Nature Is Dangerous” Parent
Yes, there are some possibly dangerous things “out there” in the forest. Will you encounter them on your field trip? No. It is very unlikely that we will have a run-in with a venomous snake, a poisonous mushroom, a falling tree, or a rabid raccoon while hiking. Warning your child about these things will just make him jumpy and timid. Relax. I’ve worked as a nature guide for over 10 years and have only lost one or two children that whole time. And we eventually found them. 

Yes, there is an abundance of poison ivy in the woods. I point it out to everyone and warn them about it. If your child is inattentive, oppositional, or just stupid enough to walk in and/or touch the poison ivy, he deserves to itch.

Many parents have been brainwashed by the hand sanitizer lobby into believing that the world is crawling with lethal bacteria just waiting to attack them and their vulnerable offspring. They are easily identified by their shrill “Don’t touch that!” shrieks and the extra strength hand sanitizer clipped to their belt buckles.  These parents are appalled when they learn that the class will be eating lunch outdoors on picnic tables. They scramble to wipe down and cover any surface that their child’s food may possibly touch. They carry a stash of handi-wipes, which they apply to their child’s hands and face approximately every 3 minutes. I like to cough on these parents and their kids when I’m sick.

Now that you know what type of parent not to be if you decide to chaperone your child’s field trip, you can avoid unnecessarily perturbing the nature center staff. If you recognize your behavior in one of the above descriptors and decide to chaperone your child’s field trip anyway, I know who you are. I don’t like you. And I will write nasty things about you. Consider yourself warned.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Keep Merida Brave!

Leave it to the Disney franchise to take a good thing and ruin it.  On May 11, 2013 Disney announced that it was crowning Merida, the heroine of the movie Brave, an official Disney princess. Seems that the good folks at Disney, however, didn't think that Merida was coronation-ready and gave her a makeover.

The "new" Merida sports styled hair, makeup, plump lips, a narrower waist, and bigger boobs. It also appears that her bow and arrows are missing, replaced by a sparkly new dress. Can I get a round of "UGH"s?!! Seems that the Disney corporation decided that being "beautiful" (in a sexualized way, no less) is more important for girls than being brave.

Disney received a ton of backlash, mostly from women and mothers, about the Merida switcheroo. Merida is supposed to be a role model for young girls, not eye candy for men with princess fetishes! A petition went viral, and it seems to have worked, at least for the time being. On May 15, Disney pulled the "new" Merida from its Disney Princesses site and replaced her with the old image. How long this will last is questionable, as is what the company will do with their toy marketing. I found this doll for sale at Target and Walmart sites.  She is described as "bring[ing] the character to life in a beautiful, sparkling fashion inspired by the movie. Adorned in a beautiful dress, this Disney Brave Merida Doll is dressed in blue and has her trademark long red locks." Again, her trademark bow and arrow are absent, and she now comes with a comb! 

After seeing the Stepford-ization of Merida, I checked out the Disney Princesses website to take a gander at the other princesses. Seems to me that most, if not all, of them have undergone transformations. Their hair looks like it's been styled for a Miss America pageant. They all have makeup covered faces. Mulan has quite a rack! She would have to do some major binding to pass as a man now! And Tiana, Disney's only princess of color, appears to have had a nose job to narrow her bridge. Shame on Disney for homogenizing the princesses to fit society's stereotyped notions of feminine beauty!
How about some reality based role models for girls? I want to see some princesses who look like they are intelligent, active young women who make decisions and take control of their own lives, not doe eyed vixens who look like they've visited Dr. Rob to have thousands of dollars of "work" done!


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Baby Mouse Rocks!

Another reason why I love (and respect) my daughter so much. This is a letter she wrote to her guidance counselor after a visit to her class. You go girl!

From: Allison XXXXX
 Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 9:31 PM
To: xxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Concerns

         I’m writing in response to your visit to my 4th period AP US government class on Wednesday, April 10.  As you were informing us about the Boys and Girls States programs run by the American Legion, I found some of your comments quite disturbing.
         You informed the class that, although the boys’ program is free of charge, girls must pay thirty-five dollars to attend.  You then went on to laugh as you explained that the charge was because girls are “more high maintenance.” Regardless of the actual reasons behind the charge, I can think of nothing else to call your statement but blatant sexism.
         As an authority figure, Mr. XXXXX, your words and actions influence those of the students around you.  As much as we wish it weren’t so, we live in a world where teenagers’ opinions are shaped by what they hear.  Speaking of women as weaker or needier will only serve to reinforce that belief.
         This was an incredibly offensive statement, and I sincerely hope it does not express your true feelings towards women.

Thank you for your time,
Allison XXXXX

Unfortunately, the response was less than stellar. Pretty lame, dude!


I will keep your comments in mind in the future.  I did not mean to offend anyone.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Just Say No

Soni was quite stoned after his abdominal ultrasound. Poor baby, we're trying to figure out what's wrong. He's having lower urinary tract issues, and has been to the vet about a half dozen times for tests and more meds. Now we're looking at a cystoscopy with a canine internal medicine specialist! Getting older sucks for dogs too.

post ultrasound
Just Say No to sedation

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Maryland School District Plans to Steal Student Work

Parents, has your child ever written a really good essay, story, or poem for a school assignment? Has he or she ever drawn or painted a really terrific picture? Teachers, have you ever written your own lesson plan to use with your class and found it to be a huge success? Pretty proud of those creative, innovative, and intelligent works, huh? Well, if you live in Prince George's County, Maryland, make sure you give credit to the school system because they own the copyright to your and your children's work!

A recent proposal by the Prince George's County Board of Education seeks to copyright work created by staff and students for school (Washington Post, March 2, 2013). The policy was created to address the increased use of technology in the classroom and to make clear that material created with apps on iPads owned by the school are the property of the school. However, the Prince George's proposal goes further. It states that even work created for school on teachers' or students' own time at home and using their own materials belongs to the school system.  Thus, any profits from teacher or student work would also belong to the school system.

Many school districts, such as nearby Montgomery County, do have policies stating that work created by employees using "substantial time, facilities or materials" belong to the school system, but none has a rule about ownership of student work. Additionally, most universities have "sharing agreements" in which work created by professors and college students benefits all parties involved, not just the university. 

Board Chair Verjeana M. Jacobs stated that it is not the intention of the PG County school system to "declare ownership" of students' work but to make sure that the school district "gets recognition." Jacobs did not elaborate on what "recognition" actually means. As written, the school district gets more than recognition for projects created for school; it gets ownership and whatever profits may accrue if the project is marketed. 

We all know that children in the public school system give up some of their rights when on school property. They may have to adhere to dress codes, and their behavior is regulated. Teachers also are prohibited from talking about certain topics while at work or engaging in certain behaviors. This policy, however, strips students and teachers of their intellectual property rights. It could potentially stifle the creativity and motivation of both teachers and students, which is the polar opposite of what a good school district should be aiming to do.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Gender Traitor

Sometimes (okay, almost all of the time) I just want to renounce my U.S. citizenship and become an expat someplace where the lawmakers aren't total jackwagons! Some of the statements and proposals made by our elected officials are so blatantly ridiculous and offensive that I am truly embarrassed to admit that I live in this country. Example? New Mexico GOP Representative Cathrynn Brown's recent bill in the State House of Representatives that would prohibit women who have been raped from obtaining an abortion. Why? For "tampering with evidence of a crime" that could land them up to three years in prison. Yes, that's right-prison! For the rape victim!

Even setting aside the question of whether an embryo or fetus can be considered "evidence," proving that a rape victim is pregnant is totally irrelevant to proving that a rape occurred. One does not need to be raped to be pregnant; conversely, one does not need to be pregnant to provide evidence of a rape. The reasoning behind this proposed legislation implies that if a woman does not become pregnant, then no rape has occurred. This bit of insanity even contradicts another great GOP thinker, Senate nominee Todd Akin of Missouri, who recently stated that "legitimate rape" rarely results in pregnancy! (How can so many blithering idiots be allowed to govern? Just asking.)

Representative Brown has defended her bill by suggesting that it is intended to punish the perpetrator of the rape who then assists or coerces abortion to destroy evidence of the crime. We all know that the majority of rapists are keen to "assist" their victims in obtaining abortions. They just love to hang around after the crime to see if their victim becomes pregnant so they can coerce her to tamper with evidence. Rep. Brown claims that "by adding this law in New Mexico, we can help to protect women across our state.” I see. The state will be protecting women by prosecuting them for a felony and threatening them with prison. I, for one, am glad I do not have New Mexico's law protecting me! I would like to be able to make my own reproductive decisions without worrying about whether or not I'm destroying evidence!

This assbackwards law would not only criminalize victims of a crime but would most likely prevent rape victims from coming forward to report the crime at all.  Why would a women risk reporting a rape when she would then be forced to carry a resulting pregnancy to term? This law is just one more example of the twisted thinking of the GOP and their assault on women. The fact that it was a woman who concocted this mess of a law astounds me even more. Rep. Brown should be tossed out of office for this offensive piece of legislation. Then she should have her status as a woman revoked as well.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Fun In Annapolis

Great mother-daughter bonding experience in Annapolis this morning! Decided to let the daughter (16) skip the first few periods of school to participate in the counter-protest of Westboro Baptist Church. We (the sane people) gathered across the street from the Circuit Court to demonstrate against Westboro Baptist and their hate-filled rants against gay marriage.

                   My daughter and I freezing in Annapolis this morning Here is a news item I found already from the Annapolis Patch You can see us in the front!