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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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Friday, February 29, 2008

Extreme Home Makeover comes to Maynard MA

Are you a fan of Ty Pennington and Extreme Home Makeover? I can't say that I watch this show that often, but when I do I usually end up sobbing. The stories are compelling and the houses... OMG they are so wonderful. OK, the kids rooms are always WAY over the top, but otherwise I think they do a great job of matching the family to the decor. From the first minute of the reveal, I feel like I want to sit down and chat in their great rooms, and cook something spectacular in those kitchens. If truth be told, it's the kitchen and bathrooms that get to me. Nothing would be greater for me than to have a huge and glorious kitchen and some bathrooms that looked like works of art.

This past week, EHM has been in Maynard MA, building a brand new home for a very deserving family. Want to read all about it? Living on the same street as the construction site has been very interesting to read about. The poor neighbors! But it's really only a bit over a week and something so good is happening to one of their neighbors. Really, how could you complain?

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

LOST Discussion Friday: The Constant

Last week's episode of LOST ended with yet another jaw dropping shocker buried within a flash forward. We learned that baby Aaron will eventually be under Kate's care, with Claire apparently out of the picture for mysterious reasons. The episode also answered the question of how Kate managed to move on from her status as a wanted fugitive. On the island, Jack discovered that the helicopter carrying Sayid and Desmond still hadn't reached the freighter, and Miles attempted to blackmail Ben for 3.2 million dollars. The odd couple of Hurley and Sawyer almost took in a showing of the Olivia Newton-John "classic" Xanadu, but were spared at the last moment.

On tonight's episode, The Constant, we finally get to meet the untrustworthy freighter people. We also get a large dose of physics, and some time travel that is extremely confusing to update. I'm trying, but honestly, I'm not sure I can do it justice.

The Constant kicks off with the crew in the helicopter, who we didn't get to see at all last week. Lapidus is trying to follow the coordinates given to him by Faraday, although it gets more difficult by the second. They fly right into what looks to be a black storm cloud, and before we know it Desmond is flashing back to his time in the military.


He "wakes up" in his bunk dreaming of being on the helicopter and tells another soldier that he's never had a dream as vivid as this one. He believes the helicopter trip was a bad dream, so obviously he's time tripping again. When he flashes back to the copter, he has no idea who anyone is, how he got there, or how they know his name. He looks beyond scared.

Back on the beach, everyone is waiting for word from the chopper. Jack and Juliet are convinced that Charlotte knows more than she's letting on. Daniel explains that Jack's perception of the amount of time the helicopter has been gone may not match up with how long it's actually been gone. There's more time wackiness going on. Faraday warns that if that if the chopper flew off course there may be some "side effects." Charlotte is furious with Daniel for giving even the slightest hint that something is amiss vis a vis time. Daniel feels that "they" should know what might be going on.


Through the storm clouds flies the helicopter, and comes out the other side on a gorgeous blue sky. They can finally see the freighter and Lapidus lands it on the freighter. As they depart the copter, poor Desmond still has no clue what's going on and is completely disoriented and frightened. The freighter folks are immediately worried and angry that Lapidus brought some people from the island to the ship. As they stand on the ships deck, Desmond flashes back to boot camp and explains to one of the troops how he "left" during their morning exercise routine. His time jumps are getting more confusing than ever, but the crew recognizes what's going on and brings him down to sick bay. Desmond finds that he has a roommate, the ever mysterious Minkowski. Now we understand why he isn't answering the phones: he's tied up on the bed because he's time traveling as well.


Sayid wants to know what's wrong with Desmond, and he also wants to know how they managed to take off at dusk and land on the boat in the afternoon. So do I, for that matter. Sayid agrees to trade his gun for the strange ship to shore phone with Lapidus, who swears he's trying to help them. I think Lapidus might be very different than the rest of the freighter creeps. Sayid calls Jack back on the island, and Jack puts him on speaker. Sayid explains Desmond's strange behavior issue, and Faraday immediately asks if Desmond was exposed to a high amount of electromagnetism or radiation. Something like a giant hatch explosion, perhaps? Although both Jack and Juliet say "nope" we all know the truth, right? He says that some people can get a little bit "confused" when traveling to and from the island.

A doctor comes in to sick bay to give Minkowski a shot, which appears to be Haldol. Minkowski screams about how all of them are going to get sick the closer they get to the island. Could this be the same "sickness" that Danielle always talked about back in the day? While Minkoswki is passed out, the doctor wants to examine Desmond's eyes and check him over. Desmond is reluctant but eventually agrees. As the doctor shines the flashlight into his eyes, Desmond flashes back to boot camp again, and this time he sneaks into a phone booth to give Penny a call. He explains his confusion to her and says that he needs to see her, but she doesn't care since he broke up with her and ran off to the army. She's pretty mean to him, tells him that she's moved house, and says Goodbye. Poor Desmond.

Back on the island, Faraday asks to speak to Desmond. Sayid and Lapidus burst into the sick bay so Faraday can talk with Desmond on the phone. Faraday asks Desmond what year he thinks it is, and Desmond says it's 1996. He tells Desmond that when his next flash back to 1996 happens, he must to get on a train south and go to the Oxford University Physics Department to find him. Yep, past Desmond has to go track down '90s Faraday! I have no idea what's going on, but I kind of love it.


On the phone, Faraday gives Desmond a code that he can tell the 1996 version of Faraday so he'll believe that he's a time traveler. Desmond must tell 1966 Faraday (who wears a terrible wig) some coordinates, and sort of a password that he knows about "Eloise".


Faraday also mentions that, when traveling to the island, some people become "off" by a couple of hours and others by a number of years. Once back in the past, Desmond goes to find a shaggy haired Faraday at Oxford. He tells him that he's been to the future and slips him the code words, forcing a skeptical Faraday to believe his story. Faraday rushes Desmond into his office so he can figure out what's going on.

Back in Faraday's office, he starts doing a test that includes exposing a rat to prolonged radiation. The rat turns out to be Eloise. He also doesn't put any safety material on his head while doing this, so it's possible all that radiation caused him to forget those playing cards last week. After radiating the rat using the code given to him by Desmond, the rat runs through a maze perfectly. He wasn't going to teach the rat the maze for an hour, but somehow it already knew exactly what to do. It appears that Eloise had also had some sort of future flash.

Back on the freighter, the surly crew members lock Sayid in with Desmond and take the phone away. When Sayid calls Desmond by his name, Minkowski reveals his identity. He obviously knows Desmond's name and also tells the Losties that the freighter would occasionally get calls that they were forbidden to answer -- calls from Penelope Widmore.

Back in the Oxford office, Desmond has just returned from a 75 minute blackout to the future. However, to Desmond it only felt like five minutes. When he tells that to Daniel, Daniel starts writing a bunch of physics calculations on his chalkboard. While Desmond was "gone" Eloise has died from some kind of brain 'explosion' or overload, making Desmond worry that the same thing might happen to him. Faraday explains that the time jumps for the rat were taxing because she had no "Constant" -- no ties between both time streams. Desmond needs to find an Constant that exists in both the past and the future. He immediately knows that Penny is his tie to both realities.

In sickbay, Minkowski explains to Sayid and Desmond that the telecommunications equipment on the freighter has gone out, which he planned to fix before going mental. The door to sick bay has also popped open, presumably thanks to "a friend" that Desmond and Sayid have on the boat. Minkowski says he'll take Sayid and Desmond to the communications room where he used to work, and they take him up on the offer. They slip out the open door and go up one deck to the communications room, which has been vandalized with clipped wires everywhere. On the wall is a 2004 calendar that Desmond spots. He realizes that he's been traveling back and forth in time 8 years apart.


Back in the past, we find ourselves at a very pricey antique auction. The item up for bid is a painting of the Black Rock 3-masted clipper, and the auctioneer tells the story of it's shipwreck somewhere in Malaysia. Well, well all know where the Black Rock really is, don't we? The next item is the Black Rock diary, which is the only known surviving object from the shipwreck and is of great interest to collectors of marine antiquities.


Not surprisingly, Charles Widmore is participating in the private auction to buy the Black Rock diary. He is bidding against quite a few people, but in the end he procures the book for a handsome price. Desmond enters the private auction and tells him that he needs to have a word with Widmore. They go into the bathroom and Widmore takes a leak while Desmond tells him that he absolutely must get in touch with Penny. Widmore has some interesting hygiene issues and leaves the sink on sight before he writes down Penny's new address in London.


(An aside, one of my best friends in England, Margo, lives about 4 doors down on Cheyne Walk in Chelsea SW1. It is one VERY spiffy and exclusive neighborhood right by the Albert Bridge.)

On the freighter, Minkowski warns that another time jumper on the boat ended up dead due to the extreme mental stress. I guess having an anchor is pretty damn important for time travelers. Unfortunately the anchor-free Minkowski also keels over dead in the communications room, and Desmond knows that it's only a matter of time before the same thing happens to him unless he can contact Penny.

Desmond wakes up in the bathroom where he was talking to Mr. Widmore. The water is pouring out of the sink. Desmond knows that he has to go to see Penny in order to get her all important telephone number, and so goes to her apartment on Cheyne Walk. She explains that she's trying to make a clean break from him. She eventually lets him in where he bags and begs for the phone number. He tells her that he's going to need to give her a call in eight years, December 24, 2004. She thinks he's kind of nuts, but she relents and gives him her phone number anyway. Desmond commits it to memory and vows not to call her until eight years have passed.

Back on the freighter, our technology and communications wizard has fixed up a phone that Desmond can use to call Penny. Of course, the phone has a short battery life, but that doesn't stop Desmond. He still remembers Penny's phone number and dial the big orange phone. It rings and rings and finally Penny picks up, and both of them are shocked and elated to be talking to each other again. She says that she knows about the island and has been searching for him for the past three years. Their love story is one of the best things about this show, at least in my opinion. Penny says that she won't give up searching for him just as the battery in the phone goes dead. By this time, I'm sobbing. I love a good love story. And when Penny tells Desmond that she knows where the island is, my heart lept.


In the final scene of the episode which was quite short and definitely not a shocker, Daniel Faraday is flipping through his journal on the beach. He stops on a page that reads, "If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my Constant."

Is he a time traveler too? I have no idea, but I do know that this was one mind blowing hour of television.

"The Constant" was the most physics saturated episode yet, and not just for the ideas it will stimulate. Scattered across the various pages of Daniel's journal, not to mention his chalk boards at Oxford, were dozens of references to actual concepts. The question is, are there any answers there or is the equivalent of clever set dressing.

This episode left me with a lot of questions:

With the reintroduction of Penny and her despicable father with the terrible fake English accent, do you think Charles is responsible for the freighter and it's research?

It's apparent that time travel is a serious problem for anyone that leaves the Island, even when leaving by the correct bearings. But do only some people suffer from the type of time travel sickness that Minkowski and Desmond both had?

Is Desmond cured now that he has contacted his Constant?

What did YOU think of this episode?

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When your pet goes missing

When I moved to Boston in 1976 I came with two friends, my Irish Setters. My female setter was a rescue dog from a couple in Orange County that couldn't keep her because she was allergic to chickens and they lived on a chicken farm. True story. My male setter was the most beautiful Irish Setter you have ever seen. I bought him from a breeder in County Mayo in Ireland, and he had all the conformation of a British Irish Setter. He was more refined, smaller, and so much prettier than the big blocky American setters from that time period. Plus his feathering was so long it reached the ground, and his color was the deepest rust, a color you don't often see on American setters, who are more orange.

We lived in a row house in a very lovely neighborhood with a small fenced in back yard. Behind us were BU buildings, and next door were very fancy and expensive homes. We lived 2 houses down from John Silber, for all you BU grads. Believe me when I tell you that this is an area that is very well protected by the town police, the BU police, and a neighborhood private police force. We were very safe and we knew it.

One day I put the dogs in the back yard for a little R&R, and went inside to do some work. When I came out, Kelev Adom, my male setter was gone. Ginge, the female was still there, but Kelev was missing. He was on a run, and there was no way he could have escaped on his own. Besides being chained to the overhead run, there was a high chain link fence that he could not leap over.
Someone had stolen him.



Now Kelev was a roamer. We use to say that he had a funky-smelling woman in Kansas and he was trying to get there. If you gave him an opportunity to run, he was gone in a flash. He ran far and he ran free. But again, no way could he have escaped from the yard.

I was hysterical with worry. I didn't have any idea of who would have stolen him and I was worried that he would not be cared for or loved. Or that he might end up in some lab as a test subject. So I did what was available in those days if you lost a pet. I put up fliers with his photo and his contact information on every post and mailbox for miles. I contacted every vet's office, every shelter, and even the big MSPCA shelter in downtown Boston. I called over and over again, but nobody ever saw him.

Weeks went by and I was giving up hope day by day. I missed him terribly. I had raised him from a tiny puppy and he was the first dog I had ever owned that wasn't a family dog. I kept calling the MSPCA and about 3 weeks into his departure they said they had an Irish setter that matched his description but the dog had a collar and tags with a different owner name and address.

About 3 days after that call, I was at school when one of the local students brought in a chicken. I know. This was in downtown Everett, a very industrial area, and not a place where a chicken would ever be found. We had no clue what to do with the chicken, so I called the MSPCA and they told me to bring the chicken down.

I rode in the car with a friend driving, holding this ridiculous chicken. When we got to the MSPCA, we handed over the chicken, and just as an aside I asked if they had an Irish Setter. They did, the same dog with the different tags. I asked to see him, and it was Kelev Adom. He was happy to see me, and I was in tears I was so happy to see him. But the MSPCA needed proof that he was my dog because of the tags. I had to go home, pick up his vet records and a bunch of photos of him, plus his papers, and bring them back to the MSPCA to prove my ownership.

I took Kelev home that night, and the MSPCA prosecuted the guy whose names were on the tags for stealing a dog. That's illegal in MA. Who knew?

This was a terrible point in my life, although Kelev certainly achieved more notariety as he got older and less capable of finding his way home after a romp. So you can imagine my excitement when I found out yesterday about the web site Find Toto.

Find Toto provides, for a fee, a really interesting service. Using your town's reverse 911 directory they will call all the neighbors with a message about your missing pet. It isn't cheap, but this has got to be better than putting up fliers that are ignored. Or at least a decent adjunct to the other methods of finding your pet.

I don't have any affiliation with this company other than to think it's an interesting new technology that could help people to find their missing pets.

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Sobbing along with Pete

Last night, very late at night I watched the PBS American Masters special on Pete Seeger and I cried. I cried buckets.

I cried for our country that is no longer interested in getting together to protest this ridiculous war.

I cried for the earth that is becoming polluted beyond recognition while the governments look on and wring their hands in dismay.

I cried for my family that doesn't have the cohesiveness of the family I grew up in because there isn't anyone like Pete Seeger, the Weavers, or even Peter, Paul and Mary to provide a political message in song.

I cried for the nation's children that listen to childrens pap instead of political music. I grew up on the music of Pete Seeger. I knew what he sang about and it sure wasn't about dinosaurs and eating your vegetables.

I cried for my childhood, lost and painful.

I cried for my grandparents who were friends of Pete Seeger, who were involved in Folkways Records, and who kept all of us kids up to date on the political front.

I cried for my mother, the looney tunes, who despite her mental illness always was idealistic and believed that the government could be better. Heck, she voted countless times for Harold Stassan. As a red-diaper baby, she upheld her socialist ideals.

I cried because the times are a'changing, and it isn't a good change. We need icons like Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan (the early years) and Joan Baez to sing to us and remind us that we need to stay politically active and environmentally aware. We so need this.

Most of all, I cried for my children. Because this land is falling apart. Because our government is so blind that the President tells us there is no recession as millions lose their homes, their cars, and can no longer pay to heat their homes. No recession? OMG.

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Can you say hypocritical? I can: Oprah.

Did anyone besides Izzy and me see Oprah today. I was snuggling with my daughter when she came on and neither of us wanted to get up and change the channel, so we watched her. The show began with a report from Lisa Ling (love her) about a movement of people called Freegans. It was really interesting and sort of awe-inspiring in a very weird way.

You see Freegans are people who are so invested in being non-materialistic and in spending the absolute minimum on consumer goods that they go trashpicking behind grocery stores and bakeries at night. They evidentally even hold a tour in NYC where you can learn the ropes of trashpicking.


When I say trashpicking, I really mean dumpster diving. They go into the large dumpsters behind the various stores, and the bring out the most amazing array of very edible products. Not just produce, but milk and meat that is well before it's sell-by date, boxes and boxes of organic cookies and crackers, and bags of leafy greens. All in perfect condition but tossed by the stores for some reason or another.

Now, I'm not really interested in this lifestyle for my family, but I do have a small twinge of regret that we lived right by a Whole Foods for years and I never thought of perusing their trash. I guess I'm not a trashpicker by nature. But I find it very interesting that the people shown were very upper middle class folks that chose this as a lifestyle not because they can't afford food, but because they are against rampant consumerism. There was one couple that were a doctor and an engineer, and they are ardent freegans and have been for years. Another woman left her 200K job and now leads the Freegan Tours in NYC. I found that very interesting.

What I found even more interesting was Oprah's reaction to the show. She was oooing and aaahing about how great it was to be less consumer oriented and I have to admit, I was seething. She is the biggest hypocrite ever. That woman spends more money on huge diamonds, huge estates, ridiculously expensive clothing and shoes, etc. She's the queen of consumerism. She's the one that has those ode to materialism shows called "My Favorite Things" where she says things like "everyone can afford this cashmere sweater from J. Crew." I mean, the woman is so freaking clueless. Seeing her spend her money like water is not going to make me believe for one second that she is thinking of reigning in her spending. She's an advocate of the spend spend mentality. It was ridiculously hypocritical for her to even pretend to think that living the Freegan lifestyle was another other than gross.

I believe that Oprah's motives in presenting this story were less than pure. I wish I didn't have to say that, but her attitude was so disinterested, as if she couldn't wait to get onto the next, and much steamier segment about a wonderful single mother that chose to be a stripper in a 'gentlemen's club in order to be home for her kids after school, and to only work 3 days a week. Surprisingly, that ticked Izzy off.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

WFMW: Healthy Sandwich Bread

I make bread almost daily in my trusty bread machine. It takes almost no effort, I know exactly what goes into my bread, and my kids love it. This is the bread I make most often, which is a great sandwich bread. I made up the recipe myself after trying many other, less successful recipes. This makes a 2-lb loaf.

Oatmeal Whole Wheat Bread

Add the ingredients as they are printed into the bread machine pan.

1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups water (add more if dough is too dry in 1 tbs increments)
3 TBS butter
1/3 cup honey
2 TSP salt
1 1/2 cups white bread flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 TSP active dry yeast

Place all the ingredients in the pan, using the least amount of liquid and adding more if needed, as seen below.

Select Medium Crust and press start.

Observe the dough as it kneads. After 5 to 1- minutes, if it appears dry or stiff, or if the machine sounds like it's straining to knead it, add more liquid 1 TBS at a time until dough forms a smooth, soft, pliable ball that is slightly tacky to the touch.

After the baking cycle ends, remove bread from pan, place on cooling rack, and allow to cool 1 hour before slicing.

My daughter slices this bread from the bottom, making long slices that, when cut in half, make the perfect slices for bread. I know it's odd, but it works for us!

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I freaking made the NY Times!

While live twittering the Academy Awards on Sunday I was contacted, with a bunch of other twitters, for a comment on the Oscars. I didn't even think I'd actually be quoted, but I was!

I knew eventually I'd make the NY Times. I figured it would be for murder, but heck, this is even better!

See, obsessive TV watching does come in handy.

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Oh, my aching back

Last night the Girl was very upset about something and was really on a tear. Not only did she scream at everyone here, she also was mad at all her friends. I empathized with her because she was really in the right and one of the meaner mean girls in her life is really making her life miserable by spreading pretty vicious lies. This particular mean girl loves controversy and drama and stirs it up over and over again. Girl has stayed away from this particular girl for months, but the mean girl keeps stirring the pot, and her latest rumor was just too over the top for the Girl.

Of course, when the Girl is upset she needs lots of hugs and time to just process everything that is going on. Usually that means she wants to crawl in bed with me and snuggle and talk. It's comfortable for her, although I'm not always thrilled about the company in my bed. She's what's known as a 'busy' sleeper in our family.

She went up to bed and I joined her about 15 minutes later and she was already dead to the world. I didn't want to wake her up because she's such a lousy sleeper that she might be up all night and nobody wants that. So I let her sleep. I wasn't tired and watched a bit of TV and read a magazine before even trying to close my eyes.

The Girl snores. A Lot. Loudly. I spent half the night pushing her over and telling her to stop snoring, and the rest of the night being butted, kicked, punched and pushed. Needless to say, I didn't get a drop of sleep all night long.

I love sleeping with my kids. I did it when they were little a lot, and finally cut them off except for 'special occasions' when they were 11 or 12. It was enough. I'm not anti-family bed, but when your kids keep you up all night because it's like sleeping with a big truck driver, it's no longer that sweet tender moment you remember. It's painful and to be perfectly honest, not all that swell.

My back is killing me because I kept trying to get comfortable scrunched over on the edge of my bed while the Girl and Worthless Pet both were snoring in tandem. With all the covers. So not a fun night.

But in the morning she felt better, more relaxed and less angry. And that was the point, right? Please tell me I'm right!

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Jimmy responds to Sarah--NSFW

If you need to pee, go do it now. Because you're gonna be sorry you waited.

Put down all your liquid refreshment. You do not want to spray the computer.

Now watch this.

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Not only bad, I'm also a space cadet

I needed to make bread today. All day.

I needed to make a phone call before 4 today.

I needed to transfer money to the MBTA site today.

I needed to finish the laundry today.

So what did I do? Absolutely freaking nothing to do with the house. I did not make a phone call, even though I was on the phone talking to my peeps in Atlanta and Seattle.

I did not make bread. Instead I spent the night twittering the Academy Awards. Oh, it was fun. Really a lot of fun. Snarky comments are best shared with like minds and all that. Plus, a reporter from the NY Times contacted a few of us twitter-ers to interview. I think it will be in Tuesday's TV review. I'll let you know when I do.

I did not finish my laundry. I now have to dry clean undies for tomorrow on the radiator because I totally suck.

But I did finally make some bread. At 12:15 tonight. It will be ready at 3:15. The bread machine will be beeping at 3:15 in the morning. I so suck. I should be punished. Is there a naughty chair for mommies?

But the good news? Pole dancing on All My Children on Tuesday. Now aren't you glad you stuck around to read about my intense suckiness? I knew you would be.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

I am a bad bad mommy

I've been busy today working on my new project and I am just not in the mood to be bothered. I don't mind a bit of interruption, but I am so frigging sick of various and sundry teenagers coming over and parking their butts on my sofa that I just can't stand any more. Thankfully, vacation ends tonight and tomorrow I'll have hours of time to my own.

But last night I told the kids that I was in a rotten mood because I have just had my fill of other people in the house. I want a day to get back to normal, to clean up the mess they all left behind, and to just steady my nerves which are totally shot.

The Girl went out for the day and came back a tad bit grumpy. Seems her brother had eaten the last of the corned beef that was earmarked for her. And the day she was counting on being fun wasn't all that fun in reality.

The Boy also went out to an all-ages show in the city with a couple of friends. It was so nice without him, but damn it, he came home. With his friends. Who plopped their butts back on my sofa, despite my telling them to go home. They just didn't listen. I was on the phone with Janice and we were being perfectly pleasant conversationalists while my kids were fighting in the background and I was yelling at those damn friends to GO HOME. It took about 45 minutes to convince them that I wanted them to leave, which burned me no end. If you were at a house and someone was screaming for you to leave, wouldn't you leave? I know I would. Especially if it was the mother of my friend. But these kids are freaking denseoids and didn't seem to believe I was serious.

I feel back for kicking them out, but I told the Boy I didn't want them there in the first place. Just what do I have to do to get my kids to understand that I've had enough of them, I don't need their friends added to the mix.

Plus, the freaking worthless pet peed someplace in the house. Where? I don't know. I can't find the pee. But he peed. No doubt about it.

So I was a crappy mommy today. I lost it. I've been at this long enough to know that losing it happens. Sometimes it happens a lot. More than I wish it would. Usually I can tolerate a lot more than I have been willing to lately. I'm really tired and in a horrible mood. I think the anti-depressant isn't working as well as it did. Perhaps I need to up the dosage.

I just want to cry non-stop. I need cheering up. The Oscar gowns better be fabulous this year.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Three LOST preview spoiler clips

Don't watch these if you don't want a preview of next week's show. But I gotta tell you, my heart is pounding after watching them. This show could not get any better than it has this season. It really couldn't.

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So much to say, so little time!

Usually my thought process is sort of like, oh, muddy. I'm old, remember. Early onset oldtimers disease has dulled my mind at times, and I sit down to post and can't remember what the heck I want to write about. I have to stare at the monitor for a while, trying to sort out my thoughts before I can come up with something cogent. And alas, I don't always win that battle.

But today I've got so much to say I can't even begin to decide what to start with first. I'll break it down into manageable chunks for you, because you can take the woman out of tech writing, but you cannot take tech writing out of the woman. Oh I wish I could!

For some insane reason, my house has turned into the town teen center. Today there were 7 kids over for most of the afternoon, playing Guitar Hero and Halo3 and screaming at top volume. You know what I did? I hid in my bedroom and watched the PBS cooking shows. I didn't even say hello to anyone because damn, these kids have been over day after day after day. Do they not have homes of their own?

While I was watching the cooking shows, Gourmet Magazine's Diary of a Foodie did a whole program on food bloggers and introduced me to three international food blogs (out of the 4 they covered) that I was completely unfamiliar with. So I'm psyched to add Sticky Rice (Viet Nam), Chez Pim (San Francisco and the rest of the world), and Cha Xiu Bao (Hong Kong) to my bloglines. I do love the food blogs. They also covered David Lebovitz (Paris and NYC) but I'm a long time reader of his blog. In fact, just today he posted about black and white cookies, which are a huge favorite of our family. YUM.

Last night the Boy was demanding much more attention from me than I was able to give him, so I introduced him to Scrabulous. Four hours later, he was still playing, had made friends with some guy in India and played several games with him, and I then had to pry him off the computer. I'm happy he enjoys this and he can certainly exercise his brain, but geesh, you wouldn't believe the amount of angst over the letters he got and the lag time on the web site. He's a tad bit competitive.

It snowed quite a bit here, more than I exected. I'm always dubious when they say 6-9" or 8-10". I always think it's going to be less. I was wrong. It's not the first time. But this morning, for a short time, the sun came out and this was the view from my bedroom window.

Isn't that driveway beautifully plowed? And people wonder why we're stranded when it snows. That goes straight uphill and it's a killer at the curve. People actually slide backwards. Our plow guy is an idiot and does a HORRIBLE job. But I don't pay him, nor do I employ him. If I did, he'd be out on his ear in a flash.


I love the way that pine holds the snow. It looks almost like it's fake, but it's not only real, it's the home of many many squirrels and birds.


When you look at these pictures, doesn't it look like I live in the middle of the woods way out in the country? I actually live less than 8 miles from downtown Boston. Really! It's one of the reasons I love the Boston area so much. There's a very vibrant city that offers everything one could ever want, and then the surrounding towns are filled with areas that look and feel rural.

And lastly, last night I made corned beef and cabbage. This has to be our family's favorite meat meal. I've never seen two kids go after corned beef like it's going to save their lives, but they do. It's just about the only meat the girl will willingly eat, and she downs so much of it that I honestly wonder if she's addicted or something. The Boy loves the cabbage, too. Sigh. It just warms my heart to know my kids not only like brussel sprouts, but at least one of them will eat cabbage. Those old Russian genes are strong!

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Friday, February 22, 2008

The weirdest argument ever

I think I might, just MIGHT have mentioned that the Boy likes to argue. A lot. About everything. Well today I think he totally tipped the scales into complete absurdity. I swear it, if I wasn't the one arguing with him, I would have either killed him or died laughing.

It all started with a brochure he got in the mail for some summer program guitar school. I showed it to him and he had no interest. But for him, no interest means that he has to argue about how stupid the program is, what a waste of money it is, what a waste of time it is, etc. Because he just can't say "no thanks." He has to argue.

From the guitar program he started in on how he wanted to go on the Prague trip the school is going on, and how it's unfair that he can't get the scholarship to pay for the trip, which is of course my fault, and how DMH is willing to pay for some things but not the Prague trip, which sucks and is unfair and boo hoo hoo.

Then I mentioned that he could go on a trip to Israel through Birthright, and he really got heated and started in on how he doesn't want to go to Israel, he wants to go to Prague and that Israel isn't interesting and it's too religious and Jewish and he doesn't want to go on a religious trip when he could go to Prague. But the Prague trip only takes underclassmen, not seniors so this is his last chance and 5 of his friends are going and he wants to go on that trip and not the FREE trip to Israel through Birthright because that trips sucks... phew. He hardly drew a breath.

At that point I had my hands over my ears and I was la la laing because he's so loud and so totally unreasonable, and I told him I wasn't going to argue with him because it was pointless, etc.

So he starts arguing about the word argue. I swear on my father's grave this kid will argue about anything. I go to dictionary.com and I show him that an argument is when two sides have two different opinions, but he insists that an argument is a violent disagreement and he wasn't arguing he was just... well, arguing. And we both totally cracked up because what can you do with a kid that is so ridiculous he has to argue the semantics of the word argue?

Lordy, he's a whackjob that kid.

Later tonight the Girl goes to empty the dishwasher and oddly, the dishes in there aren't all that clean. She's puzzled. And then she looks at the bottom of the machine, and there sits one of those Electrosol tabs.... completely wrapped it it's cellophane. The Boy did the dishes. He 'didn't know' that he had to unwrap the tabs. Because we've only been using them for years. Sigh.

Remind me, when is this cursed vacation over?

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

LOST Discussion Friday: Eggtown

Eggtown

OK, this episode didn't seem to pack the punch that the previous episode did, until the very end. And then... OMG, what a shocker! I cannot wait to find out just how Kate ended up with.... oh, you'll have to read to the very end for this little shocker!

Last week on LOST, a flash forward revealed that Sayid is one of the Oceanic Six, and also showed us that he's a globetrotting assassin taking orders from Ben. On the island, Kate and Miles ended up in Locke's group in exchange for Charlotte, while Sayid and Desmond finally jumped in the helicopter and headed toward the freighter. Tonight we take a trip to "Eggtown," where we learn the identity of another member of the Oceanic Six while Kate and Sawyer play a little house.

Tonight's episode opens with that wonderful LOST obsession -- a close up of an eyeball. Locke is waking up and making Ben some eggs for breakfast. He takes the food to Ben's cell, which is in the basement connected to yet another underground lair, and immediately begins questioning him about the man on the boat. Ben does nothing but mock John for his inability to find any answers. John pretends to be totally in control, and takes Ben's uneaten breakfast away and once outside the cell, smashes it against a wall. He stalks out of the house, obviously pissed off. Kate and Claire observe his little snit and wonder what it's about.

Kate, Claire, and baby Aaron are sitting on their front porch sipping coffee when Sawyer comes over from his stud shack he's sharing with Hurley. Sawyer and Kate share a nice domestic moment on the porch. Sawyer wants her to move in with him, but of course Kate refuses. She says she doesn't trust him, and Sawyer wonders if it's because of the pregnancy thing. She gets annoyed with Sawyer and sends him away before he even gets his coffee. She's very touchy on the pregnancy subject, we think.


Then Kate flash forwards to her time off the island. She's being swarmed by photographers on her way inside a courthouse, where a bailiff goes over a list of all of her crimes. Her attorney isn't sure what she's going to do, but Kate pleads not guilty to all the crimes she's accused of. The judge decides she has to stay in custody due to the fact that she's a flight risk, and Kate is led away in handcuffs.

Back on the island, Sun and Jin are deciding where they want to live when they get off the island. They're looking at a map of America, andJin suggests Albuquerque, but Sun says' it's too hot. Then he says Reno, and she doesn't like that either. Jin says that he was willing to learn English for her so they can live in America, but surprisingly, Sun wants to return to Korea and raise the baby there. As they are talking, Jack, Faraday and Charlotte, appear on the beach and catch everyone else up on the events of the past couple episodes. The Beachies are anxious for information about the Locke group.


Back at Locke headquarters, Kate wants to see Miles and goes to Locke for permission, but of course he's not up for that. She's anxious to ask Miles some questions about her past. She sees Hurley taking a tray of food to the captive and quickly cons him into letting her do it. Hurley reveals that Miles was in the game room, but has been moved to the boathouse. Kate's quick on the trail with Mile's food, and finds him tied up and hungry. The first thing she asks Miles is if he knows who she is and what she did. He'll tell her what she wants to know, but he wants one minute with someone first. He doesn't say who, but he does mention that getting captured was part of his plan. She knows he wants to see Ben and agrees to it in order to discover just what the Freighter folks know about her dubious past.


In the next flash forward, Kate is trying to figure out what to do about her incarceration. Her lawyer tells her she can make a deal and maybe get 15 years, otherwise it's life in prison. The lawyer tells her he can bring "him" in and use him as a character witness. That's when Kate tells him that he is not going to use her son in this trial.

Son?!?! Well, well, well. That's an interesting turn of events. She hasn't said yet if she's pregnant or not, but whatever. How old could this son possibly be? Not old enough to testify as a character witness, right? Did the Lawyer mean someone else?

Back at Locke headquarters, Claire and Kate are hanging out laundry on the line, and Aaron is in a laundry basket fussing. Claire asks if Kate can rock Aaron to calm him down. Kate looks nervous and upset and says that she's not very good with babies, but Claire tells her she should trying being a mom sometime. Ah, foreshadowing. Kate never touches Baby Aaron, who is getting huge.

In the courthouse, back in the future, the defense calls Jack to the stand to testify as a character witness in Kate's trial. Jack tells the courtroom how he met Kate on Flight 815. He says that only eight people survived the crash and starts going on about Kate's various heroics, saying that he was drowing in the water when she saved him, and saved all the other people, nursed them to health, and took care of them all, but she asks him to stop. The prosecution walks up and asks Jack if he's in love with Kate. He says that he used to be, but he's not anymore. That only eight line really got me. I just wonder what the story is that they pretend that nobody else is back on the island. I can't wait to find out!

Hurley and Sawyer are hanging out at the stud shack. Sawyer is once again reading, and Hurley is looking at some VHS tapes and randomly starts watching Xanadu. Sawyer tells Hurley that he's reading. Hurley continues to watch one of the worst movies ever made. Fortunately, it's not long before Kate shows up to break up the Olivia Newton-John lovefest. She goes into the kitchen with Sawyer, and he knows right away that she wants something from him. He asks what she wants and she tells him that she wants his help to break Ben out of the basement so she can bring him to Miles for a minute's conversation.


Sawyer then goes to see Locke, offering to play a friendly game of backgammon. Locke eagerly agrees, and as they're setting up the game, Locke asks Sawyer for reassurance that Sawyer trusts him as a leader, and Sawyer appeases him. He also tells Locke about Kate's plan to break Ben out. He's totally conning Locke to get him to the boathouse without seeming like he's been helping Kate.

Locke and Sawyer run to find Miles in the boathouse, but he's already escaped with Kate. Kate and Miles break into the basement to see Ben. Miles asks Ben if he knows who he works for, and Ben admits that he does. Miles says that "he" has put a lot of time and energy into finding him. He also says that, for 3.2 million dollars, he'll tell the man in charge that Ben is dead. Somehow Miles knows that Ben can get his hands on that much cash. After he's done with his blackmail scheme, Kate forces Miles to admit that he knows who she is. He knows all about her criminal past and tells her she'd probably be better off staying on the island. Just as they're trying to escape, Locke bursts in and tells Kate to go back to her house.

After Kate gets back home, Locke comes in and is incredibly angry over the entire incident and demands to know exactly what Miles and Ben talked about. She tells John about the blackmail scheme, but Locke orders her to leave the barracks by morning. Kate is shocked by John's demand.

Now it's flash forward time again. Kate's wheelchair-bound, oxygenated mother comes to visit her and wants to know if she was truly a hero on the island. Her mom tells her that she had a change of heart after she thought Kate was dead, and she now has no desire to testify against her. Kate tells her not to, then. However, she has one stipulation: she wants to meet her grandson. Kate refuses and is furious that there's a stipulation to her mother trying to save her life.


Back in the stud shack, Sawyer is reading a book in his underwear. Boy, he sure does read a lot. His mother would have been so proud of him! Kate comes in and they quickly get to the horizontal hula. Mmmmm, that man is just so hawt!

Back on the beach, Jack wants to know why he can't get in touch with the freighter. He's been calling for 24 hours and there isn't any answer. Juliet asks if there is an emergency number, and Charlotte reveals that there is an emergency number they could try calling. She calls that number and Regina answers, revealing that she had no idea the helicopter ever took off. It's been over a day, and they've still had no contact with it. Oh, crap. But we know it didn't crash because Sayid was on it, and we know he got off the island as one of the Oceanic 6. So what the F?

Back at LockeLand the next morning, Miles is back to being tied up in the boathouse. Locke harshly comes in the door and shoves a grenade in his mouth and pulls out the pin. He introduces himself to Miles, telling him that he's responsible for the well being of the island, and then he leaves, telling Miles to enjoy his breakfast. If Miles doesn't bite down on the grenade, it's gonna blow up. It's a fairly awesome move, I must say. John Locke is totally badass in a very sick and twisted way. But you know he's gonna get the information he wants. Miles isn't as badass as he pretends to be.


In the stud shack, Kate and Sawyer awaken in each other's arms and do a bit of the kiss and cuddle. Sawyer mentions the possibility that Kate is expecting a little Sawyer (I should be so lucky!) and Kate tells Sawyer that she's positive she isn't pregnant. But she refused to go all the way with him last night, and then again this morning, even after he reminds her that they've done it before in the monkey cage. When Sawyer calls her out on the fact that she's probably going to run back to Jack, she backhands him and takes off. Poor Sawyer is left to his books.


In the next flash forward, Kate's mom is unwilling to testify. The prosecution decides to offer a deal with the defense. Kate will get ten years probation and won't be allowed to leave the state, but otherwise she's a free woman. As she's leaving the courthouse the back way, away from all the reporters, Jack shows up and stops her and tells her he didn't mean what he said about not being in love with her. Kate invites Jack to her place, but he refuses. He's apparently reluctant to go because he doesn't want to see the baby. Kate tells him that there is no Kate and Jack unless he's willing to see 'the baby', and that she's always available to him if he'll come to her. Jack looks sad and disgruntled as Kate gets into her taxi and drives off.

Kate goes home and is greeted by the nanny. She goes upstairs to visit her son, who was napping in his bedroom. She wakes up a little blond boy, and he rubs his eyes and says "hi Mommy" and she says "Hello, Aaron. Mommy's Home."


Oh my God, it's Aaron! Yes, Claire's Aaron! The episode cuts to black as I scream at my television in confusion. I love this show. But it's going to give me a heart attack!


Canadian Preview for Next Week

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So Tender to the Touch

I hate commercials. I mean, they drive me so nuts that I end up sputtering at the television at times because I can't believe any advertising agency could be so stupid as to choose the actors they do for commercials. I'm going to give you two examples of recent additions to the Margalit Wants to Strangle You list of crappy commercial actors.

The commercial for fibromyalgia medicine Lyrica. I couldn't even remember the name of the medicine, because the second that damn commercial comes on, I run as far as I can. I had to google it.

It starts with a middle-aged very skinny woman sitting at a table reading an entry in her 'diary'. She tells about how her fibromyalgia has been bothering her, and then she says the line "So tender to the touch." Now, I'm a cynic and I see things a bit differently than a lot of people, but who the hell writes a sentence in their diary that says "So tender to the touch." I mean, come on! It's ridiculous. Plus the rest of the commercial shows her as an art teacher but all the students are using different mediums and working on different projects. Rather unusual for an adult art program.

But that one isn't as completely annoying at the one for the Commonwealth Advisory Group. This one makes my blood boil, and it's on constantly during late night and daytime television. I know, get a life. But I'm stuck in my house this week for a variety of reasons, and I watch TV while I'm on the computer. So I see a lot of this damn commercial. Lucky me.

This commercial is for families paying for nursing home care for their loved ones. The actor is this unbelievably creepy white-haired man with a voice that gives me the shivers. It's this bizarre monotone and it is so yucky that you just want to put your hands over your ears and run away shouting "shut UP!". It's that bad. I can't the commercial on youtube but I think it's only local. I don't know how it could possibly be national, it's so horrible.

There are plenty of other commercials I can't stand, including anything by Taco Bell, but these two are going to drive me over the freaking edge.

I guess I might just have to turn off the TV. After Lost, of course.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Want to see our little friend?

Yesterday I was on the phone with my guest poster when a huge hawk flew from the back of the house around to the front. I saw it in the back of the house, the Girl saw it land in a tree in our front yard. We both exclaimed at the size of the bird because it was enormous.

We watched it for about a half hour. It was eating what appeared to be a squirrel. We saw the fluffy tail kinda switching around. Ewwwww.


This photo was done through my bedroom window and I'm ashamed to say that the window is NOT clean. So the photo is kind of diffused with grainy dirt on the grass. Sorry, but I'm not washing my windows this time of year.

Wildlife in your yard is so excellent!

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Declaration rant from a guest poster

All opinions are those of the guest ranter & her husband who were slightly horrified that most of the nation did not recognize the words of the Declaration of Independence. Thanks very much to M for the platform :)

A Real Chance for Change

Depending upon your orientation or beliefs, these are either exciting or threatening times, hardly anyone would disagree they are anything but challenging. Given this unusual set of circumstances, recent events, history and especially world and market reactions, how do you get anyone to see beyond their constituent filters, beyond the superficial issues crowding the surface and pushing meaning aside? How do you get people of different beliefs to see clearly and concisely what's really important and agree on how real meaningful change can be enacted?

That is the question for our times and it is becoming the focus of this election, there is a vast groundswell, grass roots uprising to enact change and promote people who make it their and our priority. This is where we find ourselves right now, on the verge of what may the most important decision in the history of our democracy, one that could reverse decline and divert air and light off many of the personal, fractional, highly-politicized divisive party tenets and special-interest platforms in favor of fundamental choices and changes that positively affect us all.

I don't know how to say it any better than that. There's a reason there's always so much noise around every campaign and issue, it's really hard, nearly impossible to have what's needed most, a meaningful conversation on any kind of stage, especially the national or international arena. In all these scenarios, meaning is subdued, consistently so ulterior motive, mandate and agenda can be circuitously or surreptitiously substituted toward some often undisclosed end. We the recipients are the last to know and pay longest for the mistakes we may not have made or revisions or reductions in freedom or quality of life to which we did not agree.

The words Barack Obama used, and for which he was recently criticized did not actually come from Deval Patrick, though both men eloquently frame the theme we should be elevating, and neither was distracted by discussion nor debate of what might be implied behind the words, as were their critics. The words "we hold these truths to be self-evident..." come from another important document presented at another critical juncture in history, a time when the authors knew they were taking their own lives and those of their fellow citizens literally in their own hands. They might as well have written them in blood, that was their intent and effect.

A time like this one, and we'd do well to listen to those words again. We need this quality of intellectual revolutionary now, but more we need to take these words into each of our own lives, our own homes, and our own hearts, another clarion call for freedom restored. We need to prioritize issues first, based upon the greatest number of rational objectives achieved for the largest number of possible recipients. We need to press for the elevation of fair and balanced standards and judgment criteria for all political agenda, especially when it deviates in the least from the original, qualified, tested principles outlined in our original charter creatively applied by and for an informed population. Then and only then, the choices will start to become clearer. Success will be quantifiable and measurable.

I strongly support the simple, rational platform to create a CHANGE CONGRESS established by Lawrence Lessig and I sincerely hope he runs.

http://lessig08.org/

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LinkyLoo: Something for everyone--UPDATED

Some interesting things I've found recently in the media. Enjoy!


Inside the mind of a 16 year old boy.

Learning to Lie.

The death of decent health care.

New conspiracy theory about Obama's background.

Golden clog awards.

Way Cool Giant Sea Spiders.

Trolls and Trolling.

World's Greatest Music Collection.

Short Story Library.

Raising Smart Kids.

NEW!!! Jewish? Funniest Pesach Post ever!

Lawerence Lessing Supports Barak Obama and Explains Why:



If you found something here that was particularly interesting to you, please let me know.

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WFMW: No more plastic water bottles

I have to measure my water intake very carefully due to my heart problem, and the easiest way was to line up 4 bottles of Poland Spring water daily, and drink those bottles throughout the day.

But not only was that a pain, it was also wasteful and didn't promote our new attempt to be very green. And we're very into being green in this house. So what's a careful girl to do about keeping track of her water intake? Thankfully there is a simple answer that keeps me from using a plethora of plastic bottles every day.

When my daughter was sick recently, she wanted gatorade. I noted that the gatorade bottle with the sports top is exactly the size bottle I needed for keeping track of my water, and it had a convenient sports top that enabled me to take water with me in the car, to meetings, and even to bed at night. Voila! Problem solved.

She drank the gatorade from cup, I rinsed out the bottle and now I fill it twice a day and that's my water intake, measured and without adding any plastic to our recycling site. Plus, no more bottles rattling about in the back of the car. This really works well for me!

Sorry about the weird photo. It was the only one I could find of this wonderful sports bottle!

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Another example of BAD reporting from the Globe

I'm on a real tear here. I mean it, I cannot stand it when reporters see something that they think is going to be a glorified puff piece with lots of angst and violence and oh my gosh name calling, but it's so one sided that the actual article can't even stand on it's own.

So I wrote a letter to the author and politely ripped her a new one. Which she very much deserved for such lazy and inept reporting.

What the hell am I talking about? Well, to understand you have to go and read this. Go do it now. I'll wait.

dum de dum, dwiddle dee dee, dum dum... oh, you're done! Great.

Didn't seem that offensive, did it? Well it damn well is. Boo hoo hoo for the poor social workers having to work with all those nasty dirty creepy low class poor people. Heavens, how horrible it is. All that scary cutlery in their kitchen and everything! I am crying big fat crocodile tears for them. All those young, right out of college social workers who don't have a fucking clue about what it means to be a parent. Cry me a frigging river.

Now here's the letter I sent the author, obviously edited to keep out some personal information:

While I thought your article about social workers and violence
was interesting, I feel that you left out an intrinsic reason
why clients of DSS and DMH often get so angry at social workers
that represent their agencies against families.

Social workers are almost always young, unmarried women who do
not have any children. They are completely unversed about
parenting and often have the most inane views of parenting,
which can cause serious issues between their agencies and their
clients.

For example, I had VOLUNTARILY requested help through DSS for my
son, who was setting fires when he was 11. The initial social
worker assigned to our family was in her early twenties, was not
a parent, and was from a different culture. One day, when we
were sitting in a courthouse waiting forever for our case to be
called, I rubbed my son's back. Please note that my son was, at
that time, just 12.

The social worker misconstrued a parents obvious attempt to
comfort her child and instead reported this 'incident' to DSS as
an example of our relationship being 'emeshed', which is social
worker talk for suspected sexual involvement. Because I rubbed
my son's back.

This is just one example of many that I could give you. Had the
social worker been an older, more experienced worker, especially
one that had already had children of her own, this would not
have happened. But because this particular social worker had no
parenting experience and obviously missed the normality of a
parent comforting a child, she cost my son 13 months in a
residential facility that I could not get him out of, and
required me to be vetted by two psychiatrists to ensure that I
was a good parent. Of course, the parenting exam wasn't ever
even finished because it was so ridiculous, but my son was stuck
for more than a year before I could have him returned to our
home. All this because of an over-zealous and under experienced
social worker.

I'm not a violent person by nature, but I could have cheerfully
strangled this social worker on many occasions, and I later
found out I was not alone, as she was taken out of client
relations and put into a curriculum planning job.

I don't condone violence against social workers, or indeed
anyone, but I really DO understand the frustration and built up
anger that a parent goes through when dealing with social
workers that honestly do not know what they are doing.

I also didn't like the implication in your article that all
families involved with DSS or DMH live in rat infested, filthy
homes. In fact, that isn't the usual case at all. Take a trip to
Walthan District Court and watch the juvenile court proceedings
represented by the Arlington DSS office. You'll see legions of
well dressed, obviously middle class parents, mostly from
wealthy suburb, involved with DSS. In fact, wealthy suburb keeps them more than
busy in the Arlington office.

People that ask for voluntary help from DSS should not be
treated like suspected criminals, nor should you or any media
outlet assume that we are poor, uneducated, and mistreat our
children. We ask for help from DSS because the court MAKES us in
order to get our children help from hospitals, residential
treatment facilities, and day treatment centers. Insurance WILL
NOT pay for those, so you must ask DSS or qualify for DMH in
order to have your child receive treatment.

Do your homework. Presenting only one side of the story is
wrong.

There are two sides to every story, obviously, but to imply that these poor social workers work with nothing but violent, crazed parents who are out to stab them at any given moment. In fact, that's just ridiculous. I've worked with so many social workers over the last 4 years, and this is something that I've talked to them about over and over. Every single one of them has stated that there hasn't been any issue of violence against them. And yes, they DO work in the inner city and in some of the less savory cities and towns in Eastern MA.

Every family that gets involved with the courts, either from filing a CHINS (Child in need of services) or because of a hospitalization ends up involved with DSS. It is just the way the system works in MA. It might be different in other states, but here you honestly don't have a choice unless you're planning to pay out of pocket for the hospital and any treatment facility. I've never yet met a parent who is willing to fork over that kind of money, and health insurance DOES NOT cover day treatment or residential treatment unless there are very mitigating circumstances. Your health insurance will even pressure you to ask for a voluntary DSS worker so that DSS will cover the costs.

This means that every single family who has a child with mental health issues ends up involved with either DSS or DMH. And since it is so hard to be accepted into DMH, most families go with DSS. Every kid that gets in trouble, that has a drug problem or a drinking problem, who is doing stupid and dangerous stuff ends up at some point with DSS in their lives. For the most part, DSS is a benign agency with workers that DO want to help. But when you get a really bad social worker named Chabeli, who honestly doesn't have a clue about what it means to be a parent, you get really really screwed. There are so many kids that are stuck in programs and can't get home due to social workers that are toxic. We've had two of them. And we've had many many other social workers that are fabulous and helpful and supportive. But when you have a toxic one, your family can get really screwed over.

My son was supposed to be at a firesetting program for 3 months. THREE MONTHS. He started at the end of August, and was there for more than a full year. I could not get him out of there. I mean, DSS made me jump over hoops because their social worker, who was such a dud, listened to the social worker at the program, who was a lying lazy bitch that made crap up about every single family she worked with, getting her fired in five months. But because she wrote a report that the lazy DSS social worker accepted without question, my family was broken up and screwed over.

So yes, I'm NOT afraid to be pissed off when an article implies that the clients are totally at fault and the poor innocent social workers are risking their lives every time they leave their comfy offices. It's total and complete crap and someone needs to call them on it.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

We evidentally like to play Cha-raaaads

Last night the Boy had a friend over and the 4 of us played Charades for almost 3 hours. Charades. I mean, when was the last time you played Charades? For me it would be, oh since I was in summer camp in the 60's. It is not the game that comes up first or fifteenth on my radar, but we've played pretty much everything else in the last month, due to a combination of debilitating illness and winter weather. As it, we're getting a bit stir crazy over here.


At first I made out the categories for Charades, and the three of them acted them out, but oh my God, they were so pathetic. I kept having to yell "How many words? Which word are you on? How many syllables?" And of course, the Girl was all, "What is a syllable?" because she's like that. Then they took turns writing out different clues, and they were so funny.

Poor Em kept getting clues with dogs in them and she was just incapable of acting them out. She had us all in stitches. By the end of the evening we were all laughing so hard it was impossible to play anymore.


The Boy made this video from my camera, but we can't figure out how to add an audio background. And believe me, we tried and tried with two different pieces of software we have. The Boy got so ticked he was seething mad because he kept adding audio and we never got it right. So you get video. No audio. And no complaining about how horrid this video is because it's done by a serious nutcase!

video

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

My voting outcome? Surprising

I just did the complete survey at Votehelp to see which candidate I most closely align with on the issues alone. Surprisingly, my outcome, which was almost equal between Obama and Clinton, had me aligning with Ms Clinton over Mr Obama. Hmmm. I voted for Obama in the primary, and I honestly would rather he carried the democratic nomination rather than Clinton because I believe he has a much better chance of beating McCain than does Clinton. She has just too much of a backstory filled with hatred and anger to carry the election and McCain scares the bejebus out of me. Obviously. Look where he is on this list!

1. Hillary Clinton
91.51% match on issues.
You vs Hillary
More detail

2. Barack Obama
90.26% match on issues.
You vs Barack
More detail

3. Ron Paul
66.41% match on issues.
You vs Ron More detail

4. Mike Huckabee
61.27% match on issues.
You vs Mike More detail

5. John McCain
57.43% match on issues.
You vs John More detail

What bothers me a lot is that the Democrats are seemingly so divided on who should take the nomination that there could be a repeat of 1968 Chicago, which is not a good thing. For those of you too young to remember, there was rioting in the streets over which candidate got the nomination. The whole idea of 'superdelegates' was created to avoid such a problem, but instead it seems to be creating more of one. If the superdelegates that are aligned with Clinton continue to support her at the convention, despite Obama winning the popular vote, people, including myself, are going to be rabid. This would be a huge disservice to the country and the party.

It is important to realize that the superdelegates need to align themselves with the popular vote. We've had enough of that devisiveness and mistrust already. Remember the hanging chads? How much anger does the American populace have to suffer before we declare our elections to be corrupt? We absolutely must be clear as Democrats to ensure that our superdelegates represent the populace and not their own self-interests.

How do we do that? By informing each and every one of our elected officials in the Democratic party who is a superdelegate (that would be congressmen and senators as well as big party officials in each state) that you are watching their vote and you will not vote for them if they go against the popular vote. I plan to do that with my elected officials, and I invite you to do so as well. We need to make sure that this election have a positive outcome for Democrats and for all Americans, and John McCain is NOT that outcome.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

I'm back with my truest love

All the time I was sick, I just couldn't read. I don't know why, but I completely lost interest in reading. Even yesterday at the library with a friend, I didn't get out any books because it all seemed so, well, difficult. Reading, usually my biggest relaxer and my favorite winter activity, ceased to be fun. This is a first. I blamed it on my need for new glasses. I actually do need new glasses, but I don't really believe that was the problem. My mind was just too muddled from being sick for so long to concentrate on a book.

This morning I woke up and I wanted to read. I grabbed Water for Elephants, by Sarah Gruen, and read the entire book in one sitting. Oh boy, my desire to read is back full force. Thank goodness. I loved Water for Elephants. It is a quirky story about a small, corrupt train circus in the depression. It doesn't sound like anything you're really want to devour, but I could not put it down. It was absolutely delightful, filled with odd tidbits of information about the circus and how horribly they were run. There was some bad juju in this particular circus, and the author stated in the back of the book that much of the story was based on historical research she did.

Now I've got to find new books to read. I've got Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky to try again, but I need more books on my bedside table. So tell me, what are you reading now, what books can you recommend, and what is your all time favorite read. Tell me all about the books you love.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Hey Mr Postman

Our poor mailman has been extra burdened in the past week with lots of mail for our little family. Unlike most weeks, the mail has not been all bills and weird supermarket circulars, but has been a combination of the sublime and the questionable. The sublime is for me, the questionable is for the Boy and consists of a bunch of college brochures from schools I can barely pronounce. Today I told him to toss one of the brochures because there was no way I was sending my kid to a college I had no clue as to how to pronounce. It was that strange.

My mail, which is just perfect for me right now, consists of gardening catalogs. Oh my, the baby Jeebus must be on my side right now, for the catalogs are more enticing than ever. There are so many things I want to plant. I have enough land, but I do not have enough little workers to make over my garden into a Martha Stewart wonder. I wish I did, but my children are lazy and have no interest in ever picking up a shovel or hoe. Like their cat, they are worthless in the outdoors. They do not like gardening, they do not like flowers, they do not want to help, they do not care that gardening gives me so much pleasure. They are mean, selfish children who will not help me. Boo hoo.

So I tried a bit of reverse psychology. Because that's always worked so well in the past...not. The Boy and I were sitting in the living room reading our respective shiny mail, and I looked up and asked him which of his friends was the hardest worker. He named the kid I knew he was going to name, and I said, "Hmmmm, I think I'm gonna hire him to overturn the garden and help me plant it." And then I looked back down at my gorgeous catalog, circling everything in the damn thing because I think I'm a farmer at heart.

The Boy started to protest with the "Why don't you hire ME?" whine, and I smugly reminded him that I did last year and he never finished digging up the garden so the crazy gardener mowed over most of it.

"Oh yeah."
"And besides, you're too lazy to do a good job, so you're not worth the investment."

I could see the wheels moving in that sodden little brain. He asks me how much I'd pay his friend, and I named a figure that was completely off the cuff and no where NEAR what I'd actually pay, and he was all thinking quietly.

"Would you pay me too if I helped?"
"I don't know. How lazy are you going to be?"
"I'd work for money."
"But I paid you last summer and you did a totally crappy job and got my garden ruined in the process."
"If you paid me x dollars, I'd do a good job."
"Well, let me think about it."

Heh. Man, sometimes reverse psychology is just too damn easy!

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

LOST Discussion Friday-- The Economist


The Economist.

Well, if this episode didn't get your heart to thumping, methinks you be dead. Because there were a couple of little itty bitty twists that had me gasping in shock. Things I just did not expect. Like the ending... whoa! So let's summarize this episode and then ask some questions, shall we?

Recapping last week's fantastic episode of Lost, the freighter people finally arrived on the island and revealed why they were really there: to find Benjamin Linus. We also got tantalizing flashbacks from each new character involving the crash of Flight 815, the wreckage of which was found in the Sunda Trench off the coast of Bali. Somehow, everyone on the flight was confirmed dead. Also, a DHARMA polar bear ended up fossilized in the desert of Tunisia, which caused my head to explode from confusion. You gotta wonder, do polar bears fly? Because they do not belong in Tunisia, nor do they belong in Hawaii, or wherever the Island is. They belong in the artic. Where it's cold. And they do not wear collars with Dharma tags on them. This I know for sure!

As the episode begins, Sayid is investigating Naomi's dead body. He finds a bracelet with an inscription that reads "N, I'll always be with you. RG." Sayid asks Lapidus when they can take the chopper off the island, and makes a deal with him to return Charlotte to safety in exchange for a flight out of there. Lapidus agrees, and says that he can take three of them on the first trip.

Sayid flash forwards to a calm day on a golf course in the Seychelles, revealing him to be one of the Oceanic Six. A man with a mysterious accent drives up in a golf cart and makes a friendly golf bet with him, and the two guys begin to chat. Sayid tells the man that he was on Flight 815 and that he received a large settlement after coming back to the mainland. The man seems extremely unsettled to discover who he is. After the guy takes his golf swing, Sayid pulls a pistol out of his bag and shoots him dead. We don' t know why, but we do know that Sayid knew who the guy was, as he called him by name.

Next scene, Sayid walks into a trendy restaurant and sits next to a blond woman named Elsa. He asks her for directions and tells her that he's thankful to find someone who speaks English in the middle of Berlin. Sayid introduces himself as a corporate recruiter, and the woman shares that her boss is an economist. She has to keep a pager with her at all times in case the man needs her at a moment's notice. The two share a flirtatious smile, and it becomes obvious the woman recognizes him from somewhere. She asks where she knows him from, and he asks her out to dinner where he promises to tell her, and she graciously accepts. After leaving the restaurant, Sayid calls a mysterious man, telling him he made contact. He drops his phone in the trash can immediately afterwards, picks up a bit of snow and washes his hands. Mysterious!

Back on the island, Sayid finds the picture of Desmond and Penny in Naomi's bag. He wants to know what connection Desmond has to Naomi. Sayid makes a deal with the pilot, saying that he'll bring back Charlotte in exchange for a seat on the helicopter to the freighter. Sayid lets Jack know that he won't be needed on the trip to find Charlotte, as he doesn't want Jack trying to shoot Locke in the face again. Kate tells Jack that he now knows how it feels to be told not to come along. He tells Kate that she should go with the group for a change. He knows that Sawyer won't allow Locke to hurt her, but if she's not there Locke may start some trouble. Kate, Sayid, and Miles head into the jungle to find Locke and liberate Charlotte.

Meanwhile, back in the jungle, Sawyer is trying to get the name of Ben's mole out of him, but Locke tells him not to bother as Ben won't give it up. The gang gets to the location where Jacob's cabin should be, but the building has mysteriously vanished. Locke bends down and the gray powdery stuff is there, so he knows that he's in the right place, and he's upset and confused. Locke says that he must have been 'mistaken', and starts to lead the group to the barracks. Hurley protests the continued holding of Charlotte, but his voice of dissent can't stand up to Locke's crazy leadership.

Sayid is still studying the bracelet and wants to know if Miles was close to Naomi. Aside from finding her hot, he wasn't. Miles wants to know how Locke split the group in half, and Sayid tells him about the debate regarding the motives of the rescuers. Miles wants to know which side Sayid is on, and Sayid tells him that he'll let him know when he decides.

In the flash forward, Sayid meets Elsa to go to the opera and they immediately start kissing. She says she's going to leave her pager behind, and if her boss calls he'll have to live with her absence. Sayid says he'll take the phone for her, and also mentions that the job he was hired for is proving more difficult than he expected after she asks him why he's still in Berlin. It appears that he's supposed to murder her boss, but simply can't bring himself to do it.

Back on the island, Daniel Faraday grabs some equipment from the helicopter and starts piecing together some sort of device. He asks Lapidus for the phone, saying that he wants to call Regina on the boat and do some sort of experiment. He calls, and uses his wacky scientific device so Regina can zone in on their location. He tells her to fire the payload. She fires whatever it is, and though she shows it getting to his location, Faraday never sees it. Weird. But it gets even weirder.


Meanwhile, the trio led by Sayid arrive at the barracks, but no one is around. They go into one of the houses and find Hurley tied up and gagged in a closet, claiming that the others left him behind. I guess Hurley shouldn't have spoken up on the hostage situation. Hurley tells everyone about how Locke is seeing visions of Walt and has gone totally nuts. He says Locke disappeared with the group, and Hurley mentions that they may have gone to Ben's house. Mile's perks up and demands to know where Ben's house is. They all head over to Bens house.

Back at the copter, Jack asks Lapidus if the Red Sox really won the World Series (2004 and YES THEY DID), and Lapidus confirms that they actually did, much to his chagrin. He's a confirmed Yankees fan. That's enough to make me distrust him. Just as they're discussing the the payload, in the form of a rocket, crashes to the island. The rocket has a timer in it, and, strangely enough, it's at a later time than the device Faraday set up on the island. Somehow the rocket went all wonky with time on it's short trip from the freighter. There's like 30 minutes of unexplained time between when it was supposed to land and when it did land. Or maybe even more. Check out the screen shots!



Sayid's group bursts into Ben's house for a look around. Sayid finds a blocked off room behind a bookshelf that contains a bunch of fancy suits and clothing, lots of foreign money, and various and sundry passports from around the world with Ben's picture in them. What the hell is going on,? I don't know either. It looks like Ben is again lying, saying that he never left the Island. Evidentally he didn't expect anyone to find the secret room and his drawer of colorful passports. Very mysterious! Sayid doesn't have much time to look around, because Locke and Sawyer burst in an on him and Kate, followed by the rest of the Locke group, armed to the teeth. Hurley reveals that the whole thing was a trap and apologizes.


Danielle and Hurley lead Sayid to a different building and lock him up with Ben. The room has barred windows and doors, which defeat Sayid. Ben immediately starts giving him grief about falling for Hurley's trick. In Ben's bedroom, Kate and Sawyer are alone. She wants to know why Sawyer went with Locke. He tells her that he has no desire to leave the island because he knows that there's nothing in the real world for him. He tells Kate that if she goes back she'll just get arrested, but Kate wants to leave anyway.

Locke enters with some iced tea for Ben and Sayid. He's quite the kind warden. He offers Sayid the tea and Ben tells him he's thirsty, but Locke ignores Ben. Funny moment. When Sayid asks where Miles is, Locke says that he's somewhere else. Sayid tries to bargain with Locke for Charlotte, and John reveals that Ben has a man on the freighter. Sayid claims he'll give Locke something valuable in exchange for the hostage.

Back in the land of flash forwards, Sayid is in bed with Elsa and talking about their relationship. After Elsa reveals that she's in love with him, he vows that there will be no more secrets between them. That's when her pager goes off. Her boss needs her immediately. Sayid tells her that she needs to leave Berlin, telling her that people will soon be asking what happened to her employer. She figures out that Sayid used her to get to her boss, and asks him if he plans to kill the boss. Sayid says that the man's name is on his employer's list and reveals that he is not an economist. Elsa pulls out a gun and shoots Sayid in the chest, causing me to grab my poor ticker. I didn't expect that at all.

Elsa calls her boss, telling him that Sayid wouldn't give up the name. It was a double cross all along! Sayid successfully reaches for his own gun and kills Elsa with a couple of well placed shots. Still, he doesn't feel very happy about it. He doesn't seem to be badly wounded, however. As we see Elsa dying against the wall, there's a closeup of her arm, and there's a bracelet that looks remarkably like Naomi's bracelet. Hmmm, is there a connection?


On the island, Juliette brings Desmond back to Copterland to gets some answers about from Lapidus why Naomi had the picture of him and Penny. Lapidus refuses to tell him whether or not he knows Penny Widmore, but Desmond vows to find out the truth. As soon as Penny's name was mentioned, Lapidus and Danial gave each other very suspicious creepy looks. I think they know who she is. Desmond's going to be on the first helicopter out, and then he plans to find out what connection Penny has to the freighter people.

Sayid returns to the site of the chopper, with Charlotte in towbut without Milo, and tells Jack that Kate decided to stay behind. It looks like he sold out one freighter creep for another. As Lapidus prepares to get in the helicopter, Faraday warns him that he needs to follow the exact same course when leaving the island. Otherwise it's likely he'll fall into that wacky time vortex, and that certainly wouldn't be good.

Lapidus, Sayid, Desmond, and the corpse of Naomi are the first to get in the helicopter. It slowly takes off and leaves the island as Sayid looks out at the ocean.

Sayid flashs forwards to a dog kennel. Sayid walks in and his mysterious boss tells him to remove his shirt to prepare for the bullet removal. The man asks if Elsa is dead, and Sayid reveals that she is. Who is the mystery man, you ask? It's BEN! Ben is using the safety of Sayid's friends to blackmail him into killing people for him. Ben has another person he needs eliminated, and he thinks Sayid is just the man for the job. Consider my mind blown yet again.

OK, we have some big questions here. I mean, this episode caused me to wonder if I knew my own name, never mind if I could figure out what the hell is going on in Lostville.

We know that the freighter folks are very suspicious. But do they know Penny? And are they working for her father? Who do you think they're working for?

Ben is one of the Oceanic 6? How the hell did THAT happen. He wasn't even on the plane, but he is definately off the island. What the? Or did he use one his his bazillion passports and some unknown method of transportation to get off island? He seems pretty adept at that.

How did Sayid end up working for Ben? And who are all these people on the list that Sayid is killing?


Canadian preview





ATTENTION! New Schedule post strike: The last episode of the current pod (episode seven) will air Mar. 13. Then the show will be off the air for six weeks and return Apr. 24 at 9 p.m.

(That Apr. 24 episode will be the already-completed episode eight, which was filmed prestrike, but which apparently works much better as a minipremiere than it does as a minifinale.)

Anyhoo, the following week, on Thurs., May 1, a little show called Grey's Anatomy returns to its usual 9 p.m. time slot, so Lost will move to 10 p.m., where it will stay for the rest of the season.

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