Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What a haul: NOW with PHOTOS!

The girl is so gifted at bringing home the Halloween stash. She has this talent for getting a lot of good candy. Nothing you want to toss. Not one thing was gross. She ended up a huge bag of candy, three toothbrushes (oh those dentists!) and a wonderful pair of funky sunglasses.

This year she went out with 3 friends. One of the girls, shall we say, is a drama queen. A seriously SPOILED drama queen with a mother that runs to her rescue even when she's the one that causes the drama. This girl has issues with the other 2 girls, but they are all friends of the Girl. DQ decided to join them trick or treating at the last minute. It was a bad decision. She ended up accidentally falling into one of the other girls on the stairs of one house, getting very ticked off, walking off in a huff, and calling her mother to come and get her. Her mother yelled at the other girls.

I want to take her mother outside and slap her silly. She never lets DQ solve her own problems. DQ is 14 and her mom still calls when DQ is pitching fit to try and solve the issue. It's so ridiculous. Anyhow, the Girl called me to tell me about the drama and how stupid it all was, and then DQ called a bit later and told me that she left because she had a stomach ache. I didn't let her get away with that. I told her to stop this nonsense and to own up to her issues and to stop putting the Girl in the middle of her drama. And to stay away from the other girls if she can't solve her own problems and can't get along with them.

Despite this drama, the Girl was dressed to kill (photos are on another camera and I don't have them yet) as a red devil and she had a blast.

The Boy had 2 friends over and they walked into our village and encountered someone giving out candy, so came home with a handful. He refuses to trick or treat, and has only gone out once since 3rd grade. He loves candy, but will not work for it.

We only got 4 trick or treaters, which is more than we got last year. Kids are just too lazy to walk up the hill, and to fearful to cross the gate to get in through the back field. We even leave the gate open and there are plenty of jack-o-lanterns and decorations. But it looks spooky with the huge dark barn looming over the houses. I wish more kids would come. Maybe next year we'll really decorate to attract more. I think I need to organize the neighbors, none of whom appeared to be home tonight.

Oh well, all in all it was a fun night and I've eaten way more tootsie rolls than I should. They're so chewy!
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Monday, October 30, 2006

Salmonella, E-coli, Potato, Potaaato...

Lordy, do we not have enough to worry about without having to deal with yet another
vegetable scare? Today in eastern MA we have had 51 cases of salmonella that may or may not come from tomatoes or lettuce. This is yet another national outbreak of food poisoning threatening to send out populace straight to the porcelain throne. Although at least salmonella isn't as deadly as e-coli. But still, can't we eat a frigging salad in this country without it resulting in the drizzlin' shits?

So much about this whole veggie problem is wrong. For those of us who are supposedly dieting (although, munch munch, yum, those Milky Ways are so yummy, aren't they?) what are we supposed to do, live on frozen veggies and prayer? We eat a lot of vegetables in our family, well more than the average American family. Thankfully, we still have an entire bowl of green tomatoes plucked from the tomato plants before we chucked them into our woods. Enough tomatoes to last us a month or so if we're judicious. But we don't grow lettuce this time of year in New England. Which leaves locally grown produce an impossibility.

Do we dare trust Whole Foods? The e-coli outbreak taught us that organic and expensive don't protect us like we want to believe they will. If the contaminants is in the soil, nothing can save us except to not eat the foods affected. Me, I haven't eaten bagged spinach since the scare. I can deal with frozen spinach since much of what I do with spinach requires cooking anyhow.

As our food sources spread worldwide, it becomes less controllable. We don't know if the Chilean fruit we import is safe, just as we don't know that American produce is safe. We all rely on a Food and Drug Administration that does not work for our food safety. New laws are almost impossible to enact due to the heavy lobbying by large farming and food corporations. Something is seriously wrong, people.

I mean, it comes right down to this. You want to eat a salad for lunch. You hesitate because you might be taking your life in your own hands by eating lettuce, spinach, or tomatoes. Is it worth it? No matter how much you wash your veggies, there is no guarantee that you won't get sick.

Here in New England, we rely heavily on importing produce from California and beyond. Our produce is expensive enough as it is, but I'm willing to bet most New Englanders would pay a bit more for a safe salad. I know I would. So how to put this into practice? Writing your congressional representative would be a start. Writing California congressional representatives might be a better start. Writing the produce conglomerates and asking them to please lobby for safer produce. Oh yeah, this is the real world. I suggest starting your own garden in the spring, and installing a cold cellar in your basement. Because relying on corporate giants to actually care...what a waste of time that would be.
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What does this say about the state of women?


Last night I found this whilst perusing a blog I occasionally read. At first I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I thought that the tattoos must be photoshopped. I really didn't think that any woman would see herself as such an object that she would denigrade herself by placing such tattoos all over her body. But then I read some her links it appeared that these are actually body modifications, and that this is a woman who has some very serious issues. This haunted me all day today, thinking about what pain this woman must have been suffering in order to place such permanent ink on her body.

She claims that they are a statement of her sexual addiction and her bisexual failures. She claims that she was married to both a female porn star and a man who later killed himself over her sexual indescretions. She claims she has twins. She also says that she has lost every job she has ever held due to her sex addiction, sleeping with anyone she can at her jobs. Hmmmm.....

I honestly don't know what to think. That a woman in 2006 thinks that it is OK to walk around in a public place with this type of tattoos showing boggles my mind. Children can easily see her tramp stamp or the other tats she claims are in full view. She doesn't see the reason to cover them up. And yet she claims to be a parent. What kind of parent would allow their children to see this? How does a person like this get to keep her children, if they do live with her? Can this woman have friends? A family? Anyone that loves her enough to tell her that this was a really bad idea? What will she do when she is no longer young, but a woman in her 60's? And how on earth does she go to the gynecologist with those tats on her labia?

I try not to be judgemental about body modifications. I personally don't have them and don't like them, but I've learned to accept that some people find them beautiful and erotic. Admittedly, some of the Maaori hand inked tattoos are beautiful even to an old fart like me. But this isn't beautiful. This is sadistic. Masochistic. Unhealthy. And it scares me that a woman could feel so negatively about herself that she would cause such damage to her body. This goes beyond body image, although the scars on her abdomen appear to be the result of a tummy tuck. This is a woman hurting with something so deep and dark that there is nothing about her that she respects.

I worry when I see things like this that it will influence other women to copy her. I don't want to ever see another women or child do this. I don't want negative tattoos like this to be considered sexyand cool. This isn't sexy and cool. It's ugly and promotes self-hatred. Aren't young women bombarded with enough anti-feminist propaganda as it is? Do we need to teach self-hatred to our children? Do we want to believe that this is just a matter of self-expression gone awry, or is this another indication of society going to hell in a handbasket.

I have no answers. I have only extreme sadness for this woman, and for all women who hate themselves so much that they would consider this to be an acceptable body modification. Sadness for the generations of children that are being presented with people that modify their bodies into hideously ugly beings for the rush. I don't understand it. Why aren't we beautiful just as we are? Why do we need modifications, be them plastic surgery, piercings, tattoos, implants, or placing holes in your bodies? I may not be the most physically alluring person on the planet, but I'm pretty happy with who I am just as I am.

My wish for woman is that they can accept themselves as they are, regardless of the 'flaws' deemed unacceptable by the media.
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Sunday, October 29, 2006

What a scintilating life I lead

Snicker. If my life got any more mundane I think I'd fall over dead from boredom. Another very windy day started with the Girl running upstairs to report that the Worthless Pet got blown off his feet when she first let him outside. I thought that was the major excitement for the day. But I was wrong.

Both of our Ipods were broken and so we headed to the Apple Store to see what they could do for us. We traded them both in for a new Nano, which hopefully will work for more than a month without breaking. So far we have had nothing but bad luck with out Ipods. Anyhow, while we were at the mall containing the Apple Store we saw a bunch of police cars and I remarked that someone was caught stealing. That's not unusual, half of our police report each week is people stealing from Bloomingdales. But while we were upstairs waiting on the Girl to get her free pair of underpants from Victoria Secret, we saw the police escorting the culprit handcuffed through the mall. You'll never guess who it was! A security guard. I know! How mortifying for him. He was in full rent-a-cop uniform and everything. I can't wait to read in the local paper what he was stealing.

When we got home I checked my email and got mail from a friend in the midwest alerting me that her incredibly HOT husband Shaun is going to be on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition tonight. He's the long and lean cowboy that is delivering the cattle to the family. We saw a promo of him riding his horse up the road. The horse both of my children have ridden on. Yes, we know a real live cowboy. He's been a working cowboy his whole adult life, and we stayed with them in Iowa for a few days learning the cowboy trade. I can't wait to see the show tonight. How cool is it to know the actual cowboy delivering the cattle. Bet you can't say that! :-)

So my humdrum little life had some exciting moments today, even though another Barnes and Noble I checked did not have Maggie Mason's book I was hoping to find before the November Blogging extravagana sponsored by Mrs Kennedy.

So how was your weekend?
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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Hi, I'm Julie Andrews

Climb every mountain.

Ford every stream.

Follow every rainbow,
till you find your dream.

It's been a rainy, windy day. Nothing going on. Absolutely nothing. No cleaning, no watching of movies, no baking. Just sitting around watching the leaves blow around and listening to the Worthless Pet whine to go outside, then whine to go inside, then whine to go outside...

Hope your day is a bit more upbeat, or at least interesting.
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Friday, October 27, 2006

I am in lurve

Today the Girl and I stopped off at a small shop in town to pick up a little something for a little someone in Arkansas who had a birthday this week. Not to name any names, but her mom is quite infamous for her love of a certain kind of German water dog that is mistakenly assumed to be French. Anyhow, next door to the store was a small shoe store that carries designer shoe closeouts. Of course we had to go in and look, and in the back of the store they carried a line of handbags that were so fabulous I wanted to buy the entire selection. Oh man, they were so freaking hot. LOVED them. So I checked out the tag and saw that the company has a web site. Not all the bags I loved were on the site, but most were. Check these out!
Are these to die for? They're made out of a fabulous quality of leather, inside and out, and they are almost hard shelled so they'll keep their shape. The asymetrical ones have zippers to keep the various compartments closed. Each style comes in a variety of colors, which you can see in the above bag. I want these bags. ALL of them. Now.
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When public doesn't work

I created a private blog to talk about the things that I just can't share on this public one. Especially with the blog scraping going on at bitacle.org. I have mixed feelings about having a private blog. It allows me the ability to absolutely control who reads the more personal things that I sometimes need to vent about, like work and kids and health stuff. But it kind of sucks that I don't feel comfortable sharing that stuff here. I mean, this is MY blog, and by creating a private one, I'm sort of editing my thoughts and words in responsed to my readers. I know other people do this, and I understand why, but doesn't it bug you when you come upon a blog that has password protection for some, but not all of the posts. It does bug me, and I don't know exactly why. But it does.

If you have a hankering to read my rants, email me and I'll direct you to the private blog if I know who you are. But you're going to have to promise that you will keep it private before I add you to my friends and family list.
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Thursday, October 26, 2006


Blogger...up and down, up and down, up and down. You're making me nauseated with all this up and down. How about this for a great idea...stay UP for more than a day. OK?

Stop by Props and Pans to see my first post, which is conveniently all about my boobs. I don't think I remembered to mention that I'm co-editing Props and Pans with Izzy. We have a couple of new authors in the works, and the site will take on an international flavor with a new Canadian reviewer. As things evolve, I'll keep you informed, I promise.

It is getting colder and colder every day. I am so not ready for winter. I haven't even put away my summer clothes and unpacked my winter ones. I am in serious denial about this whole snow/cold thing. If I keep wearing t-shirts and shorts, it will stay warm, right? Yeah, and the pope is a Muslim. But look, just look at the color right outside my back door. It is lovely, is it not?

For some unknown reason, all my glasses are getting chipped in the dishwasher. They're not good glasses, so it's not a huge loss, but the Boy spent his money on a set of rock and roll pint glasses or varying types and two of the 4 of them are chipped. As are his Newbury Comics glasses. What are we doing wrong?

No new Gray's Anatomy tonight. Two hours of reruns. The only thing that saved me is Ugly Betty. I'm really liking that show, and the whole murder mystery thing as a sort of side story intriques the soap opera lover in me. I do love me a soap story concept.

The Girl finally let me trim the split ends off her hair. It's been well over a year since she agreed to a trim, and it was looking very ragged. I took off 3 inches and it looks so much better. It was way too long and was starting to get into everything. It was past her waist. She reported that nobody noticed at school today so I guess it wasn't that traumatic.

Term projects are gearing up. The Girl has two, one on Louis XIV and one on a biography she's reading about a woman married to an Islamic terrorist. The Boy has one that I know of, but I'm guessing there will be a second one for Latin. He has to do a paper on the Bible, which they're been reading as literature this term. Poor kid... he isn't the least bit interested in what they're reading this year, but I think it will be good experience for college.

I'm looking for some freelance work right now. Nothing full time, just some part time stuff to fill in about 40 hours/month.

And oh, I'm thinking of upgrading to Blogger 2 this weekend. Pray for us all.
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Lost Discussion Thursday


What a great episode. When Pickett started whaling on Sawyer I got the impression that something seriously bad was gonna happen. The little directorial flourishes, like Pickett and Tom arguing behind muted glass, the real(ist) dialogue like Benry's "God, I hate needles" aside, closure on Sawyer's previous flashbacks, I loved pretty much the whole thing. Only why exactly did they con Sawyer? Are we supposed to know? Is it just what Benry said to Sawyer...that they conned him to get his respect. Con men only really respect other con men - everyone else is a 'mark'. The real question should be : why do they want his 'respect'( and presumably thereby his cooperation )?

I actually really enjoyed this episode except for one thing, which turned out to be the con. As most of you know, I've had a pacemaker/defibrillator installed and there is NO frigging way they could possibly do a surgery like that without several things. A pacemaker is installed way up over the boobs, right under the shoulder. In order for it to work, lead wires from the pacemaker to the heart are installed, and in order to do that, you have to have an idea of what the heart looks like, IOW, an echocardiogram. Then you have to look at the syncopy of the heart to see how the pacemaker is programmed. And you have to program it a couple of times to ensure that it's working. PLUS, nobody, not even my precious Sawyer would be up and walking around like 15 minutes later after heart surgery. So I was sitting there fuming and then they tell him that it's a con. Harumph! Anyhow, enough of my rant.

The flashbacks were short anda little informative. I do have to ask, though, who the heck was theguy on the beach with the golf clubs? I do not remember ever seeing him before. Was he the new regular that appeared last week asking if they should wait for Jack to return when they brought and injured Eko back to camp?

And Sawyer has a daughter named Clementine. That he left he share of the $10 million for. I love him more than evah!

That ending confused me. When Sawyer got to the top of the hill he said "what the!" with a surprised look but when we got to see what he saw it was another island. I was sure they were going to show him their little neighborhood but nooooo....

Now I thought they were all on one island and now apparently there are 2 islands but is that really some big deal? Sawyer, Kate and Jack are being held on a smaller island. They can't get back to their friends without some means of water travel. The new island. The show is calling it Alcatraz: allusion, but I'm gonna call it Exile Island, like in Survivor. Why not be consistant with the Island shows?

Hmm did I hear the word "sub" in tonight's episode? "The sub is back." I guess that's how Colleen and her team sneaked aboard the sailboat without being seen. Must be one of those stealth subs to reach the boat and surface w/o making any noise. And wasn't the boat docked? The water would have been too shallow for a submarine. Oh, well, I'm sure the mystery will be explained just like all of the others have been

How come the previews to the next eposide aways look better than the actual episode? Though I think tonights eposide was a good one, way better than last weeks.

So now Locke has a competitor in the clairvoyance department: Desmond. And unlike Locke, Desmond didn't have to get stoned in a sweat lodge! In that sense, Desmond's powers are even stronger than Locke's. Desmond knew that lightning was going to strike Claire's shelter. He tried to get her to move, but she wouldn't, so he built the lightning rod out of a golf club to save her and the baby. And of course, Charlie was a prick about it. KILL HIM OFF! And Hurley's fruit salad was saved too, I guess. ;) Loved that he was making a fruit salad. Dude!

Speaking of precognition, I noticed Sawyer saying the exact same things to Kate in this episode as he did in Locke's dream/vision. "Watch and learn, little lady" and something about "crazy."

Locke has visions that give him clues, but he hasn't seen the future outright. Desmond is outright predicting the future -- with exact timing and everything.

The two scientists at the end of last season saw some kind of reading
(from the explosion I assume) that enabled them to pinpoint the island in some kind of vague way no? Was it not also Desmonds female companion that was on one end of the phone? Maybe he's just figuring out what they were working on at that time, now. Something to do with magnetic fields, etc... I'm not sure exactly what, I'm not a scientist, but there definitely appeared to be a connection to me.

In the first eposide this season they showed the plane crash and Ben ordering Ethan and Goodwin to the different sections of the plane and they both took off running.

Last season Ana Lucia even pointed out to Goodwin that his clothes wasn't wet after the crash right before they fought so he didn't swim there. So how did Ethan and Goodwin both get to the other island so fast? Mini subs perhaps? Maybe a giant catapult from one island to the other? Maybe those pneumatic tubes are big enough for a person?

I'm pretty certain the place where "the others" are holding Jack, Sawyer and Kate hostage (the hydra station) is *not* in the same location as the village they showed in the first episode. Could be. Or it could be that Ben is lying about which island is which...

Assuming the polar bears we've seen attack the Lostaways are the same ones (or the ancestors of the same ones) that were kept in the cages on Hydra, they'd have to get from one island to the other in some way... Of course, we know Polar Bears swim. But do they swim in tropical water from one island to the next? Can they swim that far?

So there is a second island right nearby. Yet:

  • Danielle didn't know about it (it's not on her map)
  • Sayid never saw it (when he went walking alone and got captured by Danielle)
  • The raftees never saw it (when they sailed away in the Season 1 finale)
  • The Tailees never saw it (when they hiked from their camp to the
  • Lostaways' camp)
  • The sailboaters (Jin/Sun/Sayid) never saw it

We've had all these explorers crossing and crisscrossing all over the
damn place yet nobody saw the second island, and nobody saw the Others' real town. So now we've got a town and a second island. What are they going to show us in season 4, DHARMA International Airport?

See the following information at

"On the "top layer map" (third map), near each angle of the triangle is
a drawing -- three drawings total. These drawings look like they could be of three dark clouds or three islands. On the "bottom layer map" (first map), written beside the three drawings are the words, "Les trois ilots" ("the three small islands/islets").

The Three Small Islands/Islets: There just so happens to be three tiny
islets located at the top-right portion of the following overview map.
Are the "three small islands/islets" ("les trois ilots") in any way
related to the three tiny islets located on the following overview map
of the island?

The word "ilots" stands for "islets" and aren't islets little tiny
islands? If "les trois ilots" turn out to be the three little islets on
this overview map, then at least we know where these little islets are! In addition, it would mean that the castaways are located on the island (the bigger land mass) and NOT on one of "les trois ilots," because they would be able to see the island (the bigger land mass) from the horizon if they were on one of the little islets.

"LES TROIS ILOTS (?)", "les trois îlots" - it's hard to make that last
word out, looks like "ilots". Picture depicts what appears to be three
small islands ("islets"), but the word "îlots" refers to groups of
houses, villages, neighborhoods, city blocks... strange."

Nothing has been said or done to indicate that 'The Village' from
episode 3.1 was on 'Alcatraz' ( where the installation with the bear
cages resides ). In fact quite the opposite...all indications are that
it IS on the big island where the plane crashed.

We're Not The Killers

  • Ethan hanging Charlie.
  • Ethan snaps Scott's (or was it Steve's?) neck.
  • Didn't Goodwin kill that guy in the hole to throw the tailies off his trail?
  • I think we can assume that Ben killed the real Henry Gale.
  • And what about the kidnapped children
  • Aren't they the group who shot Sawyer, then he fell off the raft, the raft
  • caught fire and Jin and Michael were thrown in the water to drown?

What's this, "We don't kill people"?

Hanso's Alternative Form of Funding

Secret projects are hard to fund. Unless you can figure out people
that are connected to hidden money. Money which you can steal and use for your projects. Only this scam is more complex. To con the conmen you have to make a con much bigger than the individual players. Remote viewing spots people connected to hidden money. It spots the players that you then watch to find out what they are hiding. Then you figure out how to use their greed and secrets and weaknesses to draw them further into your scam. You take what you learned from another project involving animal tests, pavlovian conditioning, etc. to apply to the con. The con takes on a mind of its own like hoaxes are often known to do (a hoax isnt 100% lie its simply tampered evidence). Question is are all of the people connected to some secret money? I think there is more to Walt than meets the eye. He was just a little bit too worried about him. And why the question about he being Micheals biological son?

Some folks had theorized that maybe The Others stay on the island because its "magical powers" keep them healthy and alive--perhaps for a very long time. Well, that theory got scotched with tonight's episode and next week's promo: It looks like Ben is sick with a spinal tumor and without Jack's surgical help, Ben is a goner. (There's no way that could be another one of Ben's mind games because once Jack operates on Ben, he'll see whether Ben really has a tumor or not.)

So whatever "magical healing powers" exist on the island, they haven't helped Ben like they helped Locke and Rose. That's a lot of assuming. It could be that the condition is in remission (like Rose's), but Jack wouldn't KNOW that just by looking at an x-ray. He's a staunch non-believer, remember? So he'd look at the x-rays and conclude it should be fatal. Could still be that Ben can't leave the island without dying (kind of like Rose figures she can't), but if Jack operates on him and "cures" him, he WILL be able to leave.

We're still left wondering what all crazy Danielle's talk about the "Others being carriers" is all about :-)

Coming Attractions

As a wise, bald man once put it, "I'm going to need to see that again"

What the heck was that thing? I nearly orgasmed. Just kidding. A man with an eyepatch? I guess that's the guy whose glass eye was found in the Arrow station
last season?

Here is article from the newest TV Guide

Lost (11/8, 9/8c, ABC) One of the series' big mysteries---who
will Kate choose?---is finally solved when the freckled fugitive
hooks up with either the good doc or the con man. As it's also
Kate's flashback episode, we'll gain more insight into her past.
Could guest star Nathan Fillion (Firefly) be the hubby she once
mentioned? We'll see. This is Lost's last new episode until
February---the show's going on hiatus to make way for the new
Taye Diggs series Day Break---which producers are aware may
frustrate viewers. "Is there gonna be grumbling?" asks exec
producer Damon Lindelof. "We hope so. The alternative would be,
'I don't care that Lost is not on.'" We still care. Just hurry
back. ---Shawna Malcom

Discussion Items

  • So what did you think about this episode and the whole two island thing?
  • How about Kate saying that she loved Sawyer and then taking it back.
  • What about Kate going back into the cage instead of trying to escape?
  • Is Jack going to end up saving Ben from cancer or using himself as a bargaining chip to get Kate and Sawyer back to the other island?
  • Where the heck are Michael and Walt? Did they really get to sail away?
  • Is Locke going to save anyone, or figure out that the Others, Jack, Kate and Sawyer aren't even on the island?
  • How did Hurley get back from the dock? Was he actually on the original island? And if so, how did they get Kate, Sawyer and Jack to the Exile Island without them knowing?
  • Where are Sun and Jin?
  • What the heck is this show about?


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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Oh crap. I'm in mourning.

Sometimes I frigging hate progress. A couple of years ago they built a HUGE grocery store on Rt 1 in Dedham. It's called the SuperStop&Shop. I call it the Stupor Stop&Shop because the damn market is so huge that you're in a stupor by the time you walk out with your groceries. It's got a Staples in it. And a Dunkin Donuts. And it probably has a sex shop in the back. But does it sell wine? No, it does not!

But I digress. Since it opened, most of the folks in my neck of the woods abandoned my little Super Stop and Shop a couple of miles up the road in West Roxbury. Moron customers! That was my favorite supermarket for several reasons. It was NEVER crowded. Not even before a storm or on the 3rd of July were there lines. You got in, you got your food, you got out. It was a dream shopping experience, on par with winning the lottery and shopping for everything at Whole Paycheck. I also loved it because the handicapped parking was rarely used and there were always enough spaces so I didn't have to bitch people out for parking in a handicap space. And lastly, I loved it because it had a very cheap pet supply store in the same parking lot, so I could get cat litter and decent food and maybe some packets of kitty crack without having to go to another parking lot. Plus, the store was close to my home and on a route with little to no traffic.

Today I rushed into my Stop&Shop to do a quick shop and... I can barely say with without sobbing... it is closing. On Thursday. Forever. Woe is me.

The shelves were empty of products. Things were marked WAY down. There was no cream of wheat, my staple breakfast at night food. Hardly any yogurt was left. The cheese aisle was empty. It was like going to the grocery in Moscow before the Iron Curtain collapsed. Empty shelves, people. Empty shelves! In an American grocery store. Never have I seen such a sad sight.

First the hula trees on Route 1. Then the frigging traffic cones from hell. And the staties that stand in front of their blinking cars talking on the cell phones instead of directing traffic. Boy, that time and a half looks pretty good when all you do is whisper sweet nothings into your sweethearts cell all day, right?

And now the Stop&Slop closes it's doors. This is Progress? And I gotta ask. Who needs a Staples in their grocery store anyways.

I do have to admit that having a grocery store right by DSW does hold a certain attraction. Fresh eggs, milk, cheese, and new shoes!
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The Red String

For anyone who has ever had a miscarriage, struggled with pregnancy, and all things infertile...there is a movement upon us that you might want to join. It's rather simple actually: a discreet string on your right wrist to signal to others that they are not alone in their struggles.

As someone who has had 4 miscarriages in 8 years of trying before having my IVF twins, I wonder who looks at my family with sadness because they are in the month-to-month struggle. Another blogger who has struggled with infertilty and is now pregnant mentioned to a friend that she wished there was some secret nod or international sign as if to say, this belly was hardwon. Well, she posted this quandary on her blog and the response has been quite overwhelming...and a movement has been born!

The pomegranate-colored thread holds a two-fold purpose: to identify and create community between those experiencing infertility as well as create a starting point for a conversation. Women pregnant through any means, natural or A.R.T., families created through adoption or surrogacy, or couples trying to conceive during infertility or secondary infertility can wear the thread, identifying themselves to others in this silent community. At the same time, the string serves as a gateway to conversations about infertility when people inquire about its purpose. These conversations are imperative if we are ever to remove the social stigma attached to infertility.Tie on the thread because you’re not alone. Wear to make aware. Join us in starting this conversation about infertility by purchasingthis pomegranate-coloured thread (#814 by DMC) at any craft, knitting, or variety store such as Michaels or Target. Tie it on your right wrist. Notice it on others. Just thought I would pass the word along!

Here's my red string, which is actually a small red bracelet my daughter made for me out of the pomegranite red thread. I love it and never take it off.

Lastly, we have a graphic people can add to their side bars in order to get the word out (and create a link to this post or a similar one so people understand what Infertility's Common Thread is about). Feel free to take and place on your blog or create your own in order to get the word out to others.

And please add a link back to this post.
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Monday, October 23, 2006

Universal Hub Bloggers

I love you! I totally and completely love you. You guys are the best! This was a complete and total surprise. You ROCK!
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Yawn... another bomb scare at the high school

I guess we should be a bit less cavalier, but the bomb scares, well... they're kind of silly. This is the 3rd we've had since a kid of mine was in high school. In each instance, the kids are told by the administration to gather all their stuff, go out the emergency exits, and then reconvine on the lawns. And then they wait. And wait. And wait some more. Today's happened right at lunchtime. Kids left their trays and went to stand outside for about 40 minutes, effectively missing lunch. The Girl, always thinking ahead, grabbed her sandwich with her. The Boy had already had his lunch. The Boy, always a wiseass if ever possible, asked his teacher, "Is there a reason for this mayhem?" when they were asked to evacuate the building.

Of course there was no bomb, there never is. The kids returned to the buildings slightly disappointed that their school was still standing. When the Boy was telling me about the evacuation he said he was pretty sad about the lack of explosion. I mentioned that it's taken 6 years to get the other high school designed, and we're still not even close to building it. If both schools were down for the count, wouldn't that be a trip for our city to bear? The thought just boggles the mind.

Here's the principal's version:

At 11:16 am, the police received a call saying there was a bomb at XXHS. Police and fire officials immediately came to the scene and consulted with school officials, who decided to evacuate the building.

While students were outside in the fields at a safe distance behind the school, fire, police and school officials swept the building looking for anything out of the ordinary.

When nothing was found, students and staff were permitted to return to classes and abandoned lunches.

Ho hum. Maybe there won't be another bomb scare until the weather gets warmer. One can hope.

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Why I almost never drive in my town

Living in the town of the entitled seems to inculcate a sense of "the road is MINE so get the hell out of my way" type of thinking. I rarely if ever drive due to my medical issues, but every once in a while I need to get someplace and can't wait for the Ride to take me, so I'll take the car out for a quick spin in the 'hood. I don't ever leave my city as I'm a bit fearful of being too far away if something bad happens. So today I HAD to go to the bank and get some cash and then needed to pick something up for the Girl. Had to be today, had to be NOW because when you're a teenager, everything is on a quick as a wink schedule.

My bank, like so many others, is on Walnut in the Highlands. As I was pulling out of the ATM drive-through back onto Walnut to make a left turn, there was miraculously a hole in the oncoming traffic and I inched my way out to get into the left lane on Walnut. Halfway across the road a complete Masshole in her Lexus SUV with the bluetooth cell phone deelybob in her ear pulled out of Lincoln making a left onto Walnut going about 45 mph. She never even slowed down. She almost took the front end of our minivan off. I stopped, blocking the road so she couldn't go anywhere, and gave her the finger of death. As I saluted her, the people at the T station all started pointing at her like she was from outer space. The faces on the people were hilarious. She never even bothered to wave or show any emotion because she was talking on the phone, and lord knows, whomever she was chatting with was way more important than my daughter and my lives. Masshole!

I let her go by and she never even acknowledged my existance. It was truely unbelievable. She was totally oblivious that she had almost caused a very serious accident with her dangerous and reckless driving...because she drives a Lexus and she's rich so everyone needs to give her the right of way.

But the best part was, following behind her was a big white delivery van. As the pulled in front of me, they both applauded me and gave me the thumbs up sign. Because, even though most drivers in my city are totally entitled Massholes who think that the roads are theirs and theirs alone, the service workers appear to have brains. So thanks, delivery van drivers. You totally cracked the Girl up.

I loved the applause. Made my whole day.
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Sunday, October 22, 2006

What kind of book costs $70?

One of the things that completely and totally irks me is how our high school communicates with parents. Everything is sent in the mail. Everything. Even things like the school photo forms are sent in the mail. And while they're spending taxpayers hard earned money on postage, do you think they ever double up the various letters, forms, etc. that they send out to families with more than one child in the high school? They do not. Because evidentally the school department has bought the line that everyone in our city is wealthy.

Many parents are exceedingly wealthy. That's very true. But many are not. Depending upon the neighborhood you live in, incomes can vary from minimum wage earners in the North to multimillion dollar sports figures in the south. We have lots of multiple family dwelling untis, apartments, and even some SROs. Our taxes are high, so I guess some of them are wasted on the postage used by the high school. Frugal me cringes every time I see two letters containing the exact same information addressed to The Parents Of. Which would be cheapo old me.

Yesterday was no exception. The two letters arrived and were hand delivered to my bed early Sat morning. I opened one up, and it was (she say, gritting her teeth in annoyance) a form to purchase the yearbook. The $70 yearbook. What the fuck? Oh, and the reason it's $70 is because they have color pages. Big f'ing deal. I graduated from high school in 1970 and we had color pages in our yearbook and it was, IIRC, $15.00 Yeah, I'll give you inflation, but $70 for a high school yearbook? That's outrageous.

Of course, our city living up to it's name of horribly wealthy, is filled with parents who will cough up that money and not blink an eye. Which sucks because I want parents to be astounded by the cost and complain. They won't, and yet again it will be the haves vs the have nots. My kids friends will all have yearbooks, my kids won't. The Boy won't care, the Girl is already upset. What's worse, we have to pay for them by Nov. 1. They don't arrive until June.

What is in this yearbook that makes it more expensive than most college textbooks? Merely photographs (and in color!) and memories. The memories are what kill me. I still have my high school yearbooks, which I look at often. My kids like to look at the photos of my brother when he had hair, something they have never seen. They like to look at photos of me when I was Twiggy thin. They've never seen this either!

I like to show them what makes my yearbook so unusual and such a period piece. I point out the few people that have gone on to be very famous, like Danny Elfman. And I show them the full color page of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the steps of the quad of our high school. We were very hip back then.

It totally pisses me off that I can't buy this kind of stuff for my kids. In middle school the yearbooks were $25 and I got one every year for the Girl. She has every yearbook from first grade on on her bookshelf. She loves looking at them. But high school will be a memory only, with no physical evidence because the school department have their heads up their asses once again, and don't even consider the fact that $70 equals a week of food for most families.

I am hating the rich right now.
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And while we're thinking of Halloween

We have a couple of houses here in my fair city that really go all out for Halloween. Today the sky was gray and the day was somewhat foggy. It was a good day to look at the spooky houses in town. I had meant to photograph them, but forgot the camera because...well because we are all airheads due to a lack of sleep, bickering Bickerson kids, and way too many hormonal teenagers in the house. This was not a nice, relaxing weekend. Especially since the Girl's friend that spent the night last night calls me Mommy and likes to speak gibberish to me. Way to much for me to handle.

Anyhow, as we were going about town today looking at all the foliage (not yet peak but getting pretty nice) and checking out the houses, one had one of those fake graveyards set up. I have to admit this. I've always wanted to have a graveyard with funny names and epitaphs. My macabre sense of the absurd just adores those Halloween graveyards. This one wasn't great, but it was good. The Boy and I talked about maybe making one this year, because we have a huge and sweeping lawn, but unfortunately you can't see it from the street. In fact, nobody ever knows that there are homes up our hill unless we tell them. So we'd have a graveyard for just us, which seems a bit self-indulgent.

Aren't you glad you don't have to mow this?

That, of course, didn't stop me from looking around the internet for some good links to share with you.

Here's one that gives directions on how to make the tombstones out of housing insulation. You can also use styrofoam.

Another one that tells you how to make large scale tombs out of cardboard boxes.

If you don't want to make your own graveyard, you can always buy tombstones.

And here's the best. Good old names and epitaphs for those that get a bit tongue shy. We love some of these names.

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Boston smashes pumpkin record

Tonight on Boston Common over 29,000 pumpkins were lighted, easily beating the record set in 2003 by upstarts in Keene NH.

Families from all over the metropolitan area brought carved pumpkins to enter in the competition.

There were also many pumpkins to carve for those that didn't bring their own.

Sponsored by the Life is Good t-shirt company, pumpkins were displayed on a huge scaffold built especially for this occasion.

Pumpkins lined the pathways, and were set all over the garden.

These photos are from the Universal Hub, and there are plenty more to look at. We didn't attend this year due to another engagement, but I really wish we had. It looks totally awesome!
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You mean John Malcovich is a real person?

Sometimes, I just have to shake my head with wonder. While the Girl is reading the back of the movie "The Libertine" she comes across John Malcovich's name. She's confused. She exclaims, "You mean John Malcovich is a real person?"



I guess watching Being John Malcovich several times (it's one of my all time favorite films) confused her. Next she's going to ask if the building with the portal and the little tiny half floors exists too. I betcha!
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Friday, October 20, 2006

Beginning of the end

Keith Olbermann hits it totally and completely out of the ballpark with this special commentary on MSNBC yesterday. It is a MUST WATCH. American history is repeating itself, only this time the only thing we have to fear isn't fear itself, it's George W Bush and the Republicans.

Worried about your civil rights being chiseled away? So am I. This clip scares the living daylights out of me. I fear for America. I fear for freedom. I fear for Democracy. I fear for my children.

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What do you get when you....

Put six teenagers together in a small room watching Spinal Tap and Nightmare Before Christmas?

Pure, unadulturated chaos.

The noise level, it is torturous. Girls shreik. Boys laugh. They pile all over each other. They are having fun.

I love this age. Despite the mouthiness and the inherent hormones, this is a great time to be a parent. I highly recommend teenagers. They are funny, irreverant, smart, discerning, and frigging LOUD.

Ooo, my foccacia needs to come out of the oven.
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Thursday, October 19, 2006

My head, she is hurting

Today was rather an intense day. A lot of stuff going on, much of it I can't talk about here. I know there's a site somewhere where we can post anonymously about what's really happening, but I can't remember who is the keeper of the link. Anyone know.

Suffice it to say that work continues to boggle my mind and I need to find a different solution to my problems. I wish I could share more, but I can't for obvious reasons, although I'm dying to!

Because I am finding that part of my life so stressful, I'm entertaining almost constant headaches. Today was no exception. By mid afternoon my eyes were watering, I was nauseated, and my head was about to explode. The kids got home from school and I excused myself and went upstairs to lay down. About 4 hours later I awoke from my stupor and realized that I had slept through the Blogtoberfest. I was seriously bummed because I really wanted to attend. I even washed my best jeans and (gasp) ironed a shirt to wear. Damn.

Because I am an idiot and didn't set a clock I decided I needed to be punished so I watched the 3rd debate of the candidates for Governor. Fortunately, it turned out not only not to be a punishment, but actually fun. Kerry Healey got slaughtered by the other candidates, and by the audience who boooed her loudly and clearly time and again. She looked totally pathetic with her hairsprayed dome of goyish hair and her fake little "who me?" hand motions. Her body language screamed "I'm a loser." Christy Mihos entertained me mightily in the way he spoke to Healey. He's actually quite an amusing fellow. Not that I'd vote for him, but...

I did like the discussion on our soon to be "universal" health care in Massachusetts. From the onset of the announcement I was very upset at how the legislature deemed it illegal not to have health insurance in our commonwealth, but didn't have any way of helping the poor pay for it. Up to $3000 for a family living on the poverty line is impossible, and yet they would be breaking a law by not paying for it. At the same time, the Romney-Healey gang determined that the state should not give any financial support to the poor. I'm outraged that my now free healthcare is going to cost me a fortune. I don't mind paying a small token amount, but when it runs to a couple of hundred dollars for what I was getting free only months earlier, than I'm an angry camper.

My head was again pounding so the kids made Annies Mac&Cheese for dinner for themselves and I ate a bowl of cornflakes. It's the only thing I've eaten all day and I am now aching for a salad or some veggies.

The Girl brought this home today. I loved it.

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Buh Bye NY. Glad to see you go.

I can't wait for the World Series. Usually I'm not interested if at least one of my favorite teams isn't playing, and truthfully I'm neither a Detroit or a St. Louis fan per se, but I'm very happy that this world series has completely shut out any NY team.

Yes, I hate the Yankees with every fibre of my being, but I'm a lifelong Red Sox fan and we are genetically programmed to hate the Yankees. But I actually don't hate the Mets. I don't like them. I don't really like any National League team. I'm an American league girl through and through. But I have nothing against the Mets except Primadonna Pedro, and he's their problem now. Heh heh. But I can't stand smug New Yorkers that switch allegience to any winning team, just to support NY. Most Yankee fans despise the Mets. But because they're from NY they'll reluctantly support them if they make the playoffs. And according to my completely twisted way of thinking, any cheers for the Mets is actually a cheer for the Yankess. So I was totally into the Cardinals winning the National League playoffs. Then they did, and I'm happy.

I'm still rooting for Detroit. I like the Tigers and I'm happy that they made the World Series. In fact, I'm thrilled that the World Series is going to be a mid-western World Series. It's about time that the middle of the country had something to cheer about. Plus, the food is gonna be good at the games!

Hopefully, my beloved Red Sox will be recovering from a plethora of injuries and rebuilding the team for next year. And A-Rod? Hopefully he'll be right where he belongs. In the minor leagues with the most inflated salary in baseball.

Go Detroit!
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Going to Blogtoberfest?

All you Boston area bloggers, are you going to Blogtoberfest tonight? I'm totally psyched. 50+ bloggers taking over Match Burgers and Martinis. You can't go wrong with burgers and martinis. Nor with the company. Reality show ho's, check out Boston Rob and Mike Boogie. What an interesting match. Survivor, Amazing Race, and Big Brother all rolled into one. Can't go wrong with that level of trash TV.

I'll report back the haps, but there are going to be some live bloggers hanging out. Should be fun.
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Lost Discussion Thursday


Yes the episode was good. It was not great by any means, it dragged in parts, but it was overall a decent episode.

We learned Desmond survived...and that he "saw and heard" Locke's rescue speech before it happened.

We learned that Locke survived and mysteriously lost his voice...then went on his little "Vision Quest" trip where Boone makes a strange cameo to tell Locke he must save Mr. Eko. (Aside, I gotta wonder just what the brown paste he ate was. It wasn't mushrooms... and the whole thing was a big too Carlos Casteneda for me.)

We learned Locke has to correct his mistakes, and because he is the "hunter" (excluding good guys), he's destined to take charge, and rebuild his island family. Anyone notice the similarity between his words at the picnic table in the commune, and those he uttered at the dining table in "The Stepfather"?

Mr. Eko seems to regain consciousness temporarily, just long enough to tell Locke of his mission.

Locke regains his resolve and mysticism both and seems to become an actual leader.

New Losties are sort of introduced.

This wasn't all by any means. I think that was more than a typical advancement of the plot. Plenty for us to chew on...or we could just piss and moan about how much the show sucks some more. Up to you. Have at it!


So now we have our 2 new characters start talking. I think that the new Paulo guy is gonna be a good character. The girl looks like she's gonna have some sense about her too. Anyone else put off by how they introduced Paulo (Rodrigo Santoro) and Nikki (Kiele Sanchez)? It was just weird to me, how they were there and knew everybody. Last year, introducing the Tailies was easy because they were their own group and they merged, so to speak. But Nikki and Paulo have been part of the 48, there since the crash. To have contactnow seems odd but I'm sure it'll be fine after we get some more info on them.

Also, what significance does the hatch have if it can be blown up and nothing seems to happen? Desmond and Locke seem permanently changed by it, and I'm sure Eko will be when he wakes up. However, if pushing the button was so important, I feel like more should have happened post-explosion. Additionally, other than Desmond's theory, can we be sure that his error is what caused flight 815 to take a nosedive? I'm thinking no, and his new psychic(?) abilities give him some insight as to what really happened.

Another random point: Eddie, the undercover cop in Locke's flashback had a "Jeronimo Jackson" T-shirt on. Wasn't that the name of one of the bands that was in the hatch's record collection? Nice little tidbit from the writers. Too bad all of the records are probably a melted pile of plastic goop now.

Tonka trucks in the bear cave??? Does that imply that they were feeding the children to the bears? Or what? Appearently we're supposed to believe that the polar bear eats Dharma people including children. How did Eko get there? Would a polar bear drag his prey so far into a cave? Or through the jungle? And how come the bear isn't hot? I heard that in 2 weeks there will be an Eko flashback with more explanations about the Bear cave.

Kill off Charlie. He's worthless and the hobbit should no longer be safe from being written off the show. Hurley looks fatter than ever and still one of the better characters on Lost, Dude. I think we got badass Locke back at the end or that speech could have a been a cover like the filthy hobbit suggested.

Locke is a badass though. Flamethrowering a polar bear = ratings. Locke is the Jack Bauer of Lost.

Is Jack going to turn heel? I think that could make it good.

And what was so great about the speech he made to the other losties? He said like three words, and Charlie commented on how it was such a great speech? And then, of course, Desmond had already envisioned it. Man, I could make millions writing speeches, if all my audience members were like these two characters.

I've been trying to figure out who the pot farmer (Chris) was. I know we've seen him elsewhere but I can't remember him. And what's the deal with Locke ending up on a hippie commune growing pot and peaches? With a truck full of guns, no less. It seemed oddly out of character from his other flashbacks, and we know by his hair that it's after his father died and the marriage proposal.





And finally, I normally don't pull funny quotes from this show, but I lost it when Hurley dropped this one.

Hurley (in complete disbelief of Desmond's explanation for being nude): "So, like, the hatch blew off your underwear?"

Charlie's "Devolved" to a baboon. Nice quip by Charlie.

NEXT WEEK: More torturing! Huzzah!


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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I should feel virtuous

I'm sitting here at my desk eating my 'midnight' snack. For once, I'm eating a salad. Fresh romaine lettuce and caesar dressing. I should feel good that I'm eating something reasonably good for me, but I do not. Because earlier tonight I made date nut muffins and I ate two of them for dinner. My children ate chicken and spinach and potatos. I ate date nut muffins. I suck.

Have you ever had one of those conversations with your kids that you just didn't really understand. Like, you tried and tried to explain how things are, but they just didn't understand your point and you both ended up totally confused? I had one of those moments today with the Girl.

We were sitting in the waiting room at the PDoc's office waiting for the Boy's appointment. He was reading MotorTrend magazine and looking at all the cars he thought would be perfect for me. He was comparison shopping the minivans and we priced the Sienna, Odyssey, and Caravan. The Girl, who wasn't really paying that much attention, asked what kind of car we had. I told her it was a Caravan, a Dodge Caravan.

"Dodge?" she asked.
"Yup, it's a Dodge"
"I've never heard of a Dodge. What is that?"
"It's a brandname", I tell her.

The boy breaks in and says "It's like Ford. Do you know what Ford is?"
She says "Yeah, they are trucks."

We both tell her that Ford is a car manufacturer, like GM. She's never heard of GM. She is very confused. I try to further explain.

"GM is General Motors. They're a huge company and they make many different brands of cars. Just like Ford Motors."
"But doesn't Ford make Chevys?" she asks?
"NOOOO," we say. "Ford doesn't make Chevy. Chevy is a brand of GM."

She is now so confused that she's almost got tears in her eyes. So I go back to the beginning. The "there are three major American automobile manufactures. Ford. GM. And Chrysler. Ford makes Fords, like the Mustang, Lincolns like the Navigator, and the F10 trucks. GM makes Chevys and Cadillacs. Chrysler makes Dodge and Plymouth."

Her eyes are glazing over. "But what about Volkswagon?" she asks.
"Volkswagon makes the Beetle (her favorite car), but they also make Audi and Porsche."

"Forget it" she says. "It's too confusing."

And she's right. It is confusing. And I didn't even get into the Mercedes owns part of Chrysler, Lexus is Toyota, Nissan owns Infinity, and I don't know who the heck owns Saab anymore. I think it's GM.
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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

My First Time

As a particpant in As part of Women’s Voices. Women’s Vote I decided to particpate after reading that there were 20 million women who did not vote in 2004, and when they take part in the next election, they can change history. I want to encourage every single American citizen, male or female, married or single, black, white or green to VOTE. The only way we can reclaim our country from the seriously demented current regime is to vote. Every single one of us needs to be come and informed citizen and exercise our right to vote. All of us. So if you aren't yet registered, do so today. And if you think your vote doesn't count, think back to the last couple of elections when the Shrub stole both elections with shenanigans that would not have happend if 20 million more voters had made their voices heard.

I've been thinking back, oh so far back to 1972, the first time I was able to vote. It wasn't just me, but every person under the age of 21 was, for the very first time, able to vote due to the 26th Amendment to the Constitution. Yup, I got to vote for the first time after the voting age was just lowered. It was such a memorable occasion, so exciting and empowering.

It was a blue blue sky Colorado day. I was senior at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The mountains loomed high against the campus. The university buildings gleamed pink in the sunshine. Another glorious fall day in Boulder. Another beautiful day at the Italian Retirement Home for Wayward Hippies. I walked over to my polling place on the Hill with several friends. We were all voting for the first time, and had discussed over and over again how psyched we were and how priviledged we felt, because we were the first young voters. We didn't know how much of a change the votes of so many college aged kids would make, but this was during Watergate and the winding down of the Vietnam War, so we were feeling the power glory. We were voters!

The candidates were Richard Nixon, running for a second term as the Republican candidate, and George McGovern as the Democratic candidate. It was obvious to everyone that was voting that Nixon was going to win, but nobody knew what a landslide it would become.

Locally, Gary Hart was running McGovern's campaign, and Tim Wirth was running for our state representative. I worked as a volunteer for both the McGovern and Wirth campaigns. Floyd Haskell was the Republican candidate for Senator, but he was against the war and was very popular with liberals. He was married to Nina Totenberg of NPR.

We had to wait in line before entering the polling place. Lots of students were in line and the atmosphere was one of excitement, the kind of excitement you have before you enter a concert or sporting event. We could hardly wait to get into the building.

Finally my time came. The ballot was one of those voting machines where you pull the lever and the curtain closes and all the little levers reset. I can remember panicking that I wouldn't pull the right levers and I'd end up voting for Nixon. A fate worse than death for this died in the wool liberal. I check and rechecked the levers several times before I left the booth. Pulling open the curtain and hearing the clack of my vote being registered was stunning. I could barely catch my breath. I had done it. I had voted.

OK, McGovern lost by the biggest landslide ever seen. 49 or the 50 states went for Nixon. I bet those people felt really stupid a year later when he resigned in shame over Watergate. But I hated him and felt proud that I was one of the few that never supported him or voted for him.

As I'm typing this I'm watching Eyes on the Prize on PBS and they're doing the episode on disenfranchisement of the black voters. All these people wanted to do is exercise their right to vote. It seems so simple. So how come so many people seem proud of the fact that they don't vote, that they don't read newspapers or listen to the news, that they are ignorant and throw away the privilege of voting like it's trash. I don't get it. Voting is how you make your voice heard.

If you don't vote, don't ever complain about how shitty your healthcare is, or your schools are, or how bridges are falling apart and streets are unpaved, how your siblings and neighbors are going off to Iraq to die, how your civil rights are being eroded by a corrupt regime, and how your country is falling apart due to money being funnelled to private corporations like Halliburton instead of to health clinics and universities. It's YOUR FAULT. Because if you don't vote, you allow corruption and greed to become the government.

So take responsibility for your families, for your community, for your friends and your country. VOTE.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

A bissel meshuggah

Like 90% of the bloggers I read, I'm feeling the effects of too little sunlight and too short days. In other words, why bother getting out of bed? Really, what's the point? I'm tired, I'm down, and I'm not getting much cooperation from other bloggers, who are all down and out themselves. What we need is something fun. Something exciting. Something to make us forget all our cares and worries.

Instead of the Friday LinkyLoo that most people do, I'm going to do Monday's link love for all you out there that need a bit of a lift. I don't think this will be a weekly thing, but you never know!

OK, it's an advertisement, but it's funny. Really funny. Makes you want to run right out and buy the book.

This video had us laughing our butts off. Who says Israelis don't have a sense of humor?

Loved this NY Times article about names. As a collector of funny names, along with my friend Nina, we tend to send each other names that we've heard about or articles that we've read. This one was from Nina.

Interested in news about Jewish topics? Want to know more about world wide politics? Like to know which stories are real and which are media distortion? Check out this blog. You never know what you'll find.

Local girl knows how to cook. Man, does she evah! I'm thinking of sending the Boy, who likes to cook, to one of her classes at the local cooking school. It's around the corner and so convenient.

We're big fans of Gray's Anatomy here at the Worry house. My OCD tendencies make me want to read more about this show here. Don't get too hooked.

Hopefully, you'll find something to entertain you. Feel better, internets.
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Nothing like a good ole conspiracy theory

Today when I was with the Girl at our town's harvest festival, a man approached me from one of the many booths, and handed me a paper inviting me to come and see a free movie his organization is showing this week. The topic? That the US actually created and performed the entire 9/11 disaster. Okay..... I think I'll be skipping that particular free film. But it got me to thinking about some of the conspiracy theories flying back and forth over the internet and in our nation's history.

But look. The US Government has taken care of all that research you used to have to do to find a particularly juicy conspiracy theory. Aren't they just so helpful?

Honestly, check it out. It's got some doozy's there, including, of course, the plane didn't really fly into the Pentagon theory. And don't forget to check out the 4000 Jews story. That's a particular favorite of mine. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is also explained.

Do you have a favorite conspiracy theory? The Girl told me about an interesting one she heard about from Kyrgyzstan where a forest has grown in the shape of a swastika. Nobody really knows how the forest came about, but it does exist. Snopes talks about it here.

This seems to be the only known photo of the forest, as seen from this woman's window.
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Sunday, October 15, 2006

When writing isn't simple at all

The Boy is dysgraphic. This is a learning disability that most people, including school staff and administration, do not understand or even acknowledge. That makes having this type of LD even more difficult. Every year when the IEP tune-up meeting comes around, I have all the needed accommodations for the Boy included in his IEP. Every year he ends up with one or more teachers that either don't care, or don't believe in dysgraphia, and won't accommodate him. The accommodations are very simple. But before I explain the accommodations, let me explain dysgraphia.

Dysgraphia is a severe difficulty in producing handwriting that is legible and written at an age-appropriate speed. That's a simplified version of this problem. When a child is dysgraphic, they do not make the connection between writing individual letters as part of a group of words, and drawing. Each letter they write is like a stand-alone character.

Students with dysgraphia often have sequencing problems. Studies indicate that what usually appears to be a perceptual problem (reversing letters/numbers, writing words backwards, writing letters out of order, and very sloppy handwriting) usually seems to be directly related to sequential/rational information processing. These students often have difficulty with the sequence of letters and words as they write. As a result, the student either needs to slow down in order to write accurately, or experiences extreme difficulty with the "mechanics" of writing (spelling, punctuation, etc.). They also tend to intermix letters and numbers in formulas. Usually they have difficulty even when they do their work more slowly. And by slowing down or getting "stuck" with the details of writing they often lose the thoughts that they are trying to write about.

Students with an attention deficit disorder (especially with hyperactivity) often experience rather significant difficulty with writing and formulas in general and handwriting in particular. This is because ADHD students also have difficulty organizing and sequencing detailed information. In addition, ADHD students are often processing information at a very rapid rate and simply don't have the fine-motor coordination needed to "keep up" with their thoughts.

Some students can also experience writing difficulty because of a general auditory or language processing weakness. Because of their difficulty learning and understanding language in general, they obviously have difficulty with language expression. Recall that written language is the most difficult form of language expression.

Although most students with dysgraphia do not have visual or perceptual processing problems, some students with a visual processing weakness will experience difficulty with writing speed and clarity simply because they aren't able to fully process the visual information as they are placing it on the page.

Symptoms of dysgraphia include:

  • Students may exhibit strong verbal but particularly poor writing skills.
  • Random (or non-existent) punctuation.
  • Spelling errors (sometimes same word spelled differently); reversals; phonic approximations; syllable omissions; errors in common suffixes.
  • Clumsiness and disordering of syntax; an impression of illiteracy.
  • Misinterpretation of questions and questionnaire items.
  • Disordered numbering and written number reversals.
  • Generally illegible writing (despite appropriate time and attention given the task).
  • Inconsistencies : mixtures of print and cursive, upper and lower case, or irregular sizes, shapes, or slant of letters.
  • Unfinished words or letters, omitted words.
  • Inconsistent position on page with respect to lines and margins and inconsistent spaces between words and letters.
  • Cramped or unusual grip, especially holding the writing instrument very close to the paper, or holding thumb over two fingers and writing from the wrist.
  • Talking to self while writing, or carefully watching the hand that is writing.
  • Slow or labored copying or writing - even if it is neat and legible.
The Boy has most of these symptoms. His handwriting looks like a first or second grader. He has never learned cursive. He prints everything, but his letters are huge, misformed, and generally difficult to decipher. Writing is physically painful for him. So he must have some accommodations in order to perform his work at grade level. Luckily, he has no spelling problems at all, his vocabulary is huge, and he's got punctuation down pat, thanks to a year of homeschooling where grammar was emphasized, and then a second year of grammar within the public school he attended.

Accommodations for dysgraphic kids include:
1. Encourage students to outline their thoughts. It is important to get the main ideas down on paper without having to struggle with the details of spelling, punctuation, etc.

2. Have students draw a picture of a thought for each paragraph.

3. Have students dictate their ideas into a tape recorder and then listen and write them down later.

4. Have them practice keyboarding skills. It may be difficult at first, but after they have learned the pattern of the keys, typing will be faster and clearer than handwriting.

5. Have a computer available for them to organize information and check spelling. Even if their keyboarding skills aren't great, a computer can help with the details.

6. Have them continue practicing handwriting. There will be times throughout a student's life that they will need to be able to write things down and maybe even share their handwriting with others. It will continue to improve as long as the student keeps working at it.

7. Encourage student to talk aloud as they write. This may provide valuable auditory feedback.

8. Allow more time for written tasks including note-taking, copying, and tests.

9. Outline the particular demands of the course assignments/continuous assessment; exams, computer literacy etc. so that likely problems can be foreseen.

10. Give and allow students to begin projects or assignments early.

11. Include time in the student's schedule for being a 'library assistant' or 'office assistant' that could also be used for catching up or getting ahead on written work, or doing alternative activities related to the material being learned.

12. Instead of having the student write a complete set of notes, provide a partially completed outline so the student can fill in the details under major headings (or provide the details and have the student provide the headings).

13. Allow the student to dictate some assignments or tests (or parts thereof) a 'scribe'. Train the 'scribe' to write what the student says verbatim and then allow the student to make changes, without assistance from the scribe.

14. Remove 'neatness' or 'spelling' (or both) as grading criteria for some assignments, or design assignments to be evaluated on specific parts of the writing process.

15. With the students, allow abbreviations in some writing (such as b/c for because). Have the student develop a repertoire of abbreviations in a notebook. These will come in handy in future note-taking situations.

16. Reduce copying aspects of work; for example, in Math, provide a worksheet with the problems already on it instead of having the student copy the problems.

17. Separate the writing into stages and then teach students to do the same. Teach the stages of the writing process (brainstorming, drafting, editing, and proofreading, etc.). Consider grading these stages even on some 'one-sitting' written exercises, so that points are awarded on a short essay for brainstorming and a rough draft, as well as the final product.

18. On a computer, the student can produce a rough draft, copy it, and then revise the copy, so that both the rough draft and final product can be evaluated without extra typing.

19. Encourage the student to use a spellchecker and, if possible, have someone else proofread his work, too. Speaking spellcheckers are recommended, especially if the student may not be able to recognize the correct word (headphones are usually included).

20. Allow the student to use cursive or manuscript, whichever is most legible

21. Encourage primary students to use paper with the raised lines to keep writing on the line.

22. Allow older students to use the line width of their choice. Keep in mind that some students use small writing to disguise its messiness or spelling.

23. Allow students to use paper or writing instruments of different colors.

24. Allow student to use graph paper for math, or to turn lined paper sideways, to help with lining up columns of numbers.

25. Allow the student to use the writing instrument that is most comfortable for them.

26. If copying is laborious, allow the student to make some editing marks rather than recopying the whole thing.

27. Consider whether use of speech recognition software will be helpful. If the student and teacher are willing to invest time and effort in 'training' the software to the student's voice and learning to use it, the student can be freed from the motor processes of writing or keyboarding.

28. Develop cooperative writing projects where different students can take on roles such as the 'brainstormer,' 'organizer of information,' 'writer,' 'proofreader,' and 'illustrator.'

29. Provide extra structure and use intermittent deadlines for long-term assignments. Discuss with the student and parents the possibility of enforcing the due dates by working after school with the teacher in the event a deadline arrives and the work is not up-to-date.

30. Build handwriting instruction into the student's schedule. The details and degree of independence will depend on the student's age and attitude, but many students would like to have better handwriting.

31. Keep in mind that handwriting habits are entrenched early. Before engaging in a battle over a student's grip or whether they should be writing in cursive or print, consider whether enforcing a change in habits will eventually make the writing task a lot easier for the student, or whether this is a chance for the student to make his or her own choices. Beware of overload, the student has other tasks and courses.

32. Teach alternative handwriting methods such as "Handwriting Without Tears."

33. Writing just one key word or phrase for each paragraph, and then going back later to fill in the details may be effective.

34. Multisensory techniques should be utilized for teaching both manuscript and cursive writing. The techniques need to be practiced substantially so that the letters are fairly automatic before the student is asked to use these skills to communicate ideas.

35. Have the students use visual graphic organizers. For example, you can create a mind map so that the main idea is placed in a circle in the center of the page and supporting facts are written on lines coming out of the main circle, similar to the arms of a spider or spokes on a wheel.

36. Do papers and assignments in a logical step-wise sequence. An easy way to remember these steps is to think of the word POWER.

P - plan your paper

O - organize your thoughts and ideas

W - write your draft

E - edit your work

R - revise your work, producing a final draft

37. If a student becomes fatigued have them try the following:

* Shake hands fast, but not violently.

* Rub hands together and focus on the feeling of warmth.

* Rub hands on the carpet in circles (or, if wearing clothing with some mild texture, rub hands on thighs, close to knees)

* Use the thumb of the dominant hand to click the top of a ballpoint pen while holding it in that hand. Repeat using the index finger.

* Perform sitting pushups by placing each palm on the chair with fingers facing forward. Students push down on their hands, lifting their body slightly off the chair.

38. Allow student to tape record important assignments and/or take oral tests.

39. Prioritize certain task components during a complex activity. For example, students can focus on using descriptive words in one assignment, and in another, focus on using compound sentences.

40. Reinforce the positive aspects of student's efforts.

41. Be patient and encourage student to be patient with himself.

The Boy's accommodations include keyboarding for notetaking and writing papers, task prioritization, organizational help, extra time for writing projects and test taking, and extra help with standardized tests. He is also allowed to chew gum (which helps ADHD kids with concentration, believe it or not!) and to use a stress ball during class. There are other accommodations for other issues, but those are specifically for dysgraphic issues.

This weekend he came home with a writing assignment. As soon as I heard the dreaded words "I need to write three paragraphs on the Book of Job for English" (they're reading the Bible first term), my eyes teared up. I just knew what was coming. I talked him into doing both his math and Latin homework Friday afternoon so he could focus on the paper he had to write.

We discussed his topic sentence and the 3 quotes from Job he would use to support his thesis. The rest was up to him. He sat down to type the 3 paragraphs this evening at 8 pm. Normally this would be more than enough time for a neurotypical (NT) kid to write this paper backwards, forwards and inside out. The first paragraph took two hours. He ended up in tears, then threw a fit when his sister cracked a rather nasty comment, tossing the Bible across the room (I KNOW!!!) and throwing something at me. He stomped upstairs to cool off, and came down a bit later, ready to start in again. First he had to eat a piece of fudge, and then he sat down at the computer and began the second paragraph.

I reminded him about the quote he had next chosen, and how it would support his thesis. Pretty broad hints in fact. This one paragraph took more than an hour. He finally finished up the third paragraph at midnight. All in all, about 4 hours to write three paragraphs.

That's the face of dysgraphia, folks. It is horribly painful to watch him struggle so much in order to get a few words down on the screen. It's not typing, he's a good typist. It's not that he doesn't have ideas, he has tons of great ideas. It's not that he can't make connections or understand the material. His teacher said he has brilliant and insightful comments. It's that when he has to write a structured paper he just can't do it. It's too hard for him to organize his thoughts and then he panics.

Which makes me want to stab myself in the eyeballs because I can't do anything right. If I help him, he gets mad when I try to put my words into his paper. If I don't help him he's mad because I'm lazy. I can't win this one. I really can't.

I'm so sad tonight. Watching him crumble is horribly difficult for me. Never mind for him. Imagine what it must be like to be so intellectually gifted but unable to write down your thoughts. How devastating would that be?

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When the good life hits home: UPDATED WITH PHOTOS!!!

In the previous post you saw the Girl doing her hair. She was getting ready for her first real night on the town. Her friend was celebrating her birthday big time, and the Girl was invited, along with 8 others, to help in the celebration. She's been looking forward to this event for a long time and was so excited to go.

First stop was her friend's house, where the huge stretch limo was to pick up all the kids. The limo ride was quite eventful, with lots of waving and changing of DVDs and drinking soft drinks, etc. They loved it. It was a white stretch and the Girl said she felt like she was getting married.

Hanging out in front of the restaurant waiting for their limo to arrive. This wasn't it.

Then they arrived at this restaurant, where they had a huge dinner. If you've never eaten at Fire + ICE (and I haven't, despite the fact that both of my children have...), it's quite an event, especially for kids. The restaurant, according to the Girl, was filled with teenagers in groups. She ran into a bunch of kids she knew, including friends of the Boy, kids from camp, and kids from middle school as well as the high school. The restaurant seems to be the hip place to go out to eat fopr high school kids. Who knew?

Notice who has the most food. I was shocked, I tell you. Shocked!

Check out the 'menu'. This is the perfect restaurant experience for kids with rather developed palates, but without the sophistication to order from a gourmet menu. The Girl choose a lot of veggies, some chicken, a teriyaki sauce, and ate with gusto. She loved it. She can be a picky eater, so having only the things that she likes on her plate really went down well with her. They had a cake for dessert, and she said she had some kind of virgin pina colada drink with fresh strawberries. Sounded great to me.

Birthday girl is in the middle of the back row pursing her lips in a nice big kiss.

The evening was marred by a single patron who was disgusted with all the young adults there and made her disgust well known. She actually punched one of the girls, and called the Girl a bitch. The birthday girl's mom complained to the management because this woman was being very unpleasant and she was unceremoniously tossed from the restaurant.

The limo came and picked them up and drove them back to the friend's house, where they got rides home from a few parents. She was back minutes before midnight and so filled with stories about who she saw and who she met. It was like spending 5 minutes with a non-stoned Paris Hilton. I'm so glad she had so much fun.

While she was gone, the Boy and I made fudge. That was fun too, but really, her night sounded a lot better than ours.

Oh, and
Go Tigers!!!
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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Before and after

When I was in high school, I would have killed for flat, straight hair. In the 60's, that was the ONLY acceptable look. Unfortunately I had very thick, curly hair with frizzy undertones. It was so Janis Joplin. I hated it. Although I never had the nerve or the finances to have it professionally straightened, I did do all the alternative methods of trying to smooth it out. I rolled it on juice cans because they were bigger than any curler you could buy in the store. I laid my head down on the ironing board and proceeded to fry my hair in an attempt to iron it flat. I blew it dry holding down each piece. That took hours. And I ended up with even uglier frizzier wavy hair. It took me a long time to just accept my hair as it is.

So when the Girl was born and she had shiny straight hair, I was so thrilled for her. I thought that maybe she was lucky enough to avoid the curse of the hugely thick wavy hair. And she did...until puberty. Her hair completely changed and lo and behold, she got my hair. Which is really my evil mother's hair. And probably goes back further than that. I don't know. It doesn't really matter anymore because now there is a cure. A benign cure that she can do on her own to create the hair that she wants.

Behold....before and after! It is miraculous. God bless the flatiron.

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