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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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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tots at the spa?

Newsweek had an article in this week's issue about young girls and the amount of money spent on beauty supplies for them. At first I thought that the article was going to focus on teenagers, because they do spend a ridiculous amount of time and money on looking good. I sure did as a teen, and my daughter does as well. The best present you can give her is a gift card to Sephora. Or one for a mani/pedi.

But nope, the article was talking about much younger girls, even younger than tweens. 6-8 year olds who wear lip gloss every day. 9 year olds that color their hair. 5 year olds that go to baby spas for a day of beauty. The only one I know that does a day of beauty is my friend R's little Yorkie, and he looks spiffy when he's clean. Day spas for kids 0-12. Spas for babies! Good god, what does any baby need at a spa? A facial? Botox? Waxing? Laser hair removal? I just cannot imagine.

I worry about the diva message that this is sending to young girls. "Never been satisfied with how you look. There is always room for improvement and upgrading. You can always be thinner and prettier with a little help." Is it just me, or is this so very very wrong? Wrong on so many levels. Not only are we sexualizing our children earlier than ever before, we're also teaching them that low self-esteem is the norm and help is always needed. This just makes me ballistic.

What I want to know is, who the hell can afford this stuff for kids not on the pageant circuit? The article says that 8-12 year olds in the US spend more than $40 million a month on beauty products! They are talking about makeup and hair products. It also says that for the 18 and younger group, cosmetic surgery procedures have nearly doubled in the last decade. I have a feeling they're not just talking nose jobs, either. I'm guessing boob jobs, either reductions or enhancements are what is inflating the cosmetic surgery statistics. All I know is, it's not happening where we live...yet. Maybe it's the Yankee frugality or something, because we don't know anyone of my kid's friends who has gone the cosmetic surgery route. Not even a nose job, something that was practically a given when I went to high school.

After I read the article I was talking about plastic surgery for young kids with the Girl and the Girl reminded me that she had seen a plastic surgeon as a kid, but her visit was to have a suspicious mole removed, and the dermatologist sent us to the plastics guy because he didn't want to leave a huge scar on her back so she couldn't attend the prom. As she was 8 at the time, believe me, prom dresses were not even on the back burner of my mind. I just wanted the best scar that she could have, and he did a good job. Otherwise, we don't know any kid that has plastic surgery.

Anyhow, the article talked a lot about the high cost of beauty for such young children, and the costs were staggering. They estimated that by the time these mini-divas turn 50 they will have each spent $300,000 on makeup and hair products. That's the cost of a house in some places! All I can say is, what a freaking waste of money, especially as the money spent is for something virtually worthless. I understand that body identity is important, especially with young girls, but do you have to spend so much money to urge a child to always been the best on the outside? Isn't the inside more important? Well, according to a DOVE Real Beauty Campaign survey, 42% of 1st - 3rd grade girls want to be thinner, and 81 % of 10-year-olds are afraid of getting fat.

Of course our nation's current obsession with the "every child is obese" campaign isn't helping. Obesity is a worry. No doubt about it. But when it becomes part of our every day language, when kids are told over and over that fat is irresponsible, dangerous, unhealthy, deadly, and especially ugly, just what are we setting our children up for? The truth is, many fat people are very healthy, and many thin people keel over and die. Weight is just ONE factor in our overall health, but the way we expound upon it at every turn, no wonder we have a rise in eating disorders and a bunch of kids that think it's necessary to work on their looks at the spa. Perhaps taking a kid to the gym instead of the spa might be a better option?

I want to know what kind of message this sends to young girls, to see the importance played on looks, on makeup, on being thin, and on the urgency to be attractive at all costs. How did this become a part of our lifestyles? I just don't get it.

My daughter won't go out of the house without makeup. Ever. But she's also very secure about her body and her looks, mostly because she's so pretty and has a dynamite figure envied by her friends. She is confident and proud of herself. We have never really had to talk about all this external beauty stuff because it's just not a big part of our lives.

So I don't really understand how someone can reinforce such superficiality on their children. What does it say about this generation of young moms bringing up daughters to focus on their looks before anything else? What does it say about the future of this country to have an entire generation of barbie dolls coming up?

Sorry for shutting down comments. I'm just so not in the mood for people to come to my space and try and shit on me. It's enough. Comments will remain closed until they find someone else to shit on. I've had enough.

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My peaceful home

My friend is going through horrible times. Horrible. I was on the phone with her today and had to get off because of the horrible times interfering with our totally inocuous conversation. It's painful to listen to, and even more difficult to watch. I want to escort her out of that damn situation and never look back, but I can't. Boy, it makes me angry that I can't.

Meanwhile, my house is the epitome of peace. The Boy actually went to school after all, even though the only class he has was gym. I didn't even ask him to go...he just did. Sometimes he amazes me.

The Girl and I did the gym, and then she came home and totally collapsed on the sofa where she snored softly for several hours of a much needed nap. While she was asleep I read some of the book I'm currently zipping through, and this weeks Newsweek magazine. My house is rarely quiet enough for me to read when anyone is home, so it was quiet the pleasant time.

Even Worthless Pet was happy to jump up and sit in my lap for a snuggle, something that is about as rare as caviar in this house.

When the Girl woke up, she wanted to make a fruit cobbler, one of her all time favorite things to eat. We had plenty of berries so she made a mixed berry cobbler with a top so sweet my teeth hurt just tasting me. But she devoured a big piece, and when the Boy came home, he did as well.

Lastly, the Boy decided he wanted something for dinner that I had no patience to make, tempura. So he made it himself. This might be the first time he was brave enough to fry something all by himself. It was actually good. I was very proud of him for taking the initiative to make something he wanted without nagging me mercilessly to make it for him.

They're growing up, my little bambinos. It feels good to see them have a day with nary a fight between them, where they both do what they are supposed to without nagging, and that the house remains a nice peaceful place to hang out.

Even the cats are getting along!

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Monday, March 30, 2009

MCAS is such a waste of time

Tomorrow the lower grades will have to begin taking the standardized test in MA known as MCAS. Kids in grades 11-12 don't have to take it if they have passed it. Because it totally screws up the school schedules for weeks at a time, both kids will be home. The Boy only has Wellness and the Girl has studyhall. That's freaking it for the day.

Now, I know that the school can't plan for every contingency, but they count these days as part of our 180 days of the school year. And I think they are being rooked. They don't have anything to really do in school, so I told them that if they were going to stay home, they would be enjoying a nice morning at the JCC gym where we would use the track, the gym and hopefully the pool if there isn't a class going on. The Girl, who loves the gym, is psyched. The Boy looked at me like I have going absolutely bonkers. He's not all that into being a part of any gym.

I'm hoping that they have an extra pilates class going on. I kind of like doing the stretching exercises although that damn ball... it's evil.

After we hit the gym, if they are nice and cooperative I told them I would take them on a bit of a surprise. We haven't been to the MFA in a while and both kids love going, so I think I'll take them for an afternoon of culcha.

Now it's back to Insomniac Theatre, which starts with Letterman, then goes on to Craig, then some PBS, and the ABC all night news. I usually fall asleep by the time our local news comes on at 5. I used to hate being up all night, but recently I've found it incredibly calming. Sometimes I go out for a little walk around the house with the cats. It's just so peaceful here at night with no lights and no traffic and absolutely no noise other than an occasional rustle in the woods. It's either the foxes, the rabbits, or the deer we recently saw here. Deer! I can't figure out just how they got up the hill unless they were grazing on the front lawn. So cool!

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I'm so late

With Passover right around the corner, by now I should have done about half the prep work on my house, the shopping, and have thought about the menu. In reality I've done some of the shopping, but will still have a trip to take next week for the veggies, fruits, and some last minute items. The house is clean and the kitchen looks good, but I'm not going to turn it over until next Monday, which leaves me 2 days to cook. That's enough, because this year we're doing a small seder with just 8 of us, due to severe trauma going on at my BFF's house. The menu won't be particularly unusual this year, with the standard brisket, gefilte fish, chicken soup with matzoh balls, potato kugel, carrot and apple kugel, roasted asparagus, tsimmes, and for dessert I'm baking a flourless clementine cake, some of those fabulous orange chocolate maccaroons that the Boy made last year, and probably one other flourless chocolate cake.

Most of the items I can make blindfolded, after so many years of making the same favorite dishes. But the clementine cake looks complicated, and I think that might take some time to make.

The weird thing is, I usually look so forward to Pesach and this year I just don't. It's not the work involved, although that can be overwhelming. It's that with the stuff going on at my friend's house, there is such a pall over everything. It's hard to be enthusiastic when things are so horrible for her right now. And of course, after last year's fiasco due to the same issue, I'm nervous that there might be some trouble with her family members. It's all a bit nervewracking.

Meanwhile, the norovirus is spreading throughout the city, everyone I talk to has a sinus infection, it's raining again, and my laundry was hanging out so I had to haul it all back in and let it dry on the racks. I really love not using the dryer (it's been over 2 years now!) but the weather foils my plans sometimes. Ah well, at least we have racks inside for bad weather.

I will admit that I am not really looking forward to kashering the kitchen stuff. It's such a PITA and every year I swear I'm going to use paper plates and plastic silverware, and then I chicken out. This could be the year, though. It really could be.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Breakfast in a box: Eggo Bake Shop Twists

A while back Mom Central asked me to review a new breakfast product and sent me coupons for a couple of boxes. We went to the grocery store and got apple and strawberry flavor Eggo Bake Shop Twists, ($2.99/box, 4 in a box) and my kids proceeded to devour both boxes so that I only had one bite of each flavor. I'll give you my opinion last, but first, since the product is directed at kids, I'll let you know what my kids said.

My son ate most of them, and he thought the dough was spongy due to the microwave, but for him, spongy is good. He really seemed to like the strawberry filling best, but he ate the apple ones too. I think he liked that they were convenient, he could just pull them out of the box, microwave them for a few seconds and then eat. That's a fairly unusual breakfast occurance in our house, which I'll explain in a bit.



The Girl is a PICKY eater with a capital P. She eats almost nothing. How she stays alive is beyond me. But she did eat a couple of the strawberry Eggo Bakeshop Twists. And that's saying something positive, because really, she eats pretty much nothing.

Now, this is not a product that I would buy on a regular basis. First, it has corn syrup and palm oil in the ingredients list, and second, it isn't certified Kosher.

However, I can see that a parent of young kids who are eating breakfast in the car would find these a great alternative to some of the other options like donuts or muffins. They aren't crumby, so they don't make much of a mess, and there isn't a lot of filling to get all over everything. In fact, we all agreed that more of the fruit filling would be a very good thing.



The fact that the boxes disappeared from our freezer within a few days is testimony that my kids liked them. I can't say either of them loved them, but the novelty of having a breakfast food that they could nuke and eat while they're walking to school was great for them.

I rarely eat food like this. I'm not a big fan of frozen food for breakfast. Oh heck, I don't eat breakfast. I eat the same damn thing every single day around noon, which I consider breakfast, but it's really lunch. Yogurt with granola and berries. So just eating something hot and baked is jarring enough. Like my kids, I thought that there could be more filling, and I'm a flaky crispy kinda gal, so the dough was soft for me. They were OK, I probably would eat them if they were around. Self-control is not my middle name.

My overall feeling is, if you like convenience foods than this is a great product for you. It's certainly convenient, it's easy for little kids to eat, it doesn't make a mess, and they aren't nutritionally horrible. But the photo on the package and the real product inside didn't exactly mesh, and the flaky pastry I was expecting, filled with fruit filling, wasn't really what I got.

photos by Robyn

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Just wow!

I have had the most amazing outpouring of emails, DMs on twitter, and comments. We're all healthy. Nothing to worry about in that category at all. Someone is just having a very heavy personal problem that I won't discuss here. Most of you who have contacted me know what it is, and why I'm so frustrated. For the first time as a parent there is absolutely NOTHING to do to make the situation better. It just has to play out and I hate it.

Otherwise, I got a wicked haircut yesterday. A friend of the Girls, who is in her last term at Blaine, came over yesterday and cut my hair into the most amazing bob. It looks fabulous, it's the perfect cut for my hair, and I look like a different person. even the Boy has commented on how good it looks. It's shorter and stacked in the back, angles longer in the front to a bit below chin length, and has a bit of side parted bangs. I love it. I'm absolutely thrilled.

Thank you all again for being so understanding and supportive. I'm glad that ever person I spoke to today or heard from in email has radified my thinking on our situation. It's been so helpful to hear that the path to change is long, but eventually things will work out.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Uber-frustration

I'm really sad, but I can't tell you why.
I'm confused, but I can't tell you why.
I'm dealing with something heavy, but I can't tell you why.
This morning was just about as tough as any I've had in my years of parenting, but I can't tell you why.
It's the beginning of a long and I'm betting painful process, but I can't tell you why.
It's sad, but I can't tell you why.

I can't tell you why because of the trolls that follow my every word and then turn it into something so far from reality that I have to wonder about their sanity.

I can't tell you because I have to self-censor almost everything I say and do these days, just to keep the trolls at bay.

I can't tell you because it's a problem with someone I love, and I refuse to get that person vilified by trolls because they have no life of their own and need to come and criticize what they "think" is my life.

I can't tell you, all my IRL friends and internet friends, because I'm not willing to take the chance and expose something that could hurt someone else.

I can't share something that I need help with because of the trolls.

For the first time today I thought about taking the blog private. Or taking it down. Or moving it to another platform where I can more carefully manage who can read. For right now, today, I have to censor. And it sucks more than I can begin to tell you all, because I want to reach out, but I can't. I won't.

So I'm going to ask you who know how to call or email or whatever. Because this is how it's going to be until the trolls leave, and as we all know, that's when hell freezes over, because.... well because. We all know why.

I'm frustrated and angry.
I don't want to do this.
I hate that I have to.
I hate that the trolls will just make something up and laugh about it.
I hate that there are people in this world that have to deride everyone else to build themselves up.
I hate them.
And most of all, I hate what's happening right now.
Hate it with all my heart.

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Extreme sheepherding

Have you see this? The Boy and I watched it several times with out mouths hanging open.

My question is: How do people think up this stuff? So uber-creative.


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Thursday, March 26, 2009

So silly this morning

Most mornings the Girl wakes up bright and chipper and is all sunny unicorns and rainbows. Before she leaves she always wakes me up so that I can attempt to wake up the Boy, which can be anything from slightly irritating to painfully annoying. The kid sleeps the sleep of the dead, no alarm clock can penetrate his slumber and literally the only thing that works is screaming at top volume until he can't take it anymore and opens an eye. Of course that doesn't mean he actually gets up.... no, he's going to go back to sleep countless times until I've woken him so many times that he just gives up. It can take anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours or more. Once a friend of mine came over and he was out cold and I bet her she couldn't get him up. She went into this dance of crazy yelling and pounding the floor and hitting the wall and lo and behold, it only took about 10 minutes because she was WAY louder than I am. And she has lots of experience because both her teens sleep like that!

Once he's up though, he can be grumpy or he can be funny. Much of the time he takes a bit of time to build up to his sense of humor, which is rich, but this morning he was on a roll. Or I was. Or we both were. I'm not sure. But I was on twitter checking my DMs from a friend who is dealing with severe illness in her family, and so I twitted each exchange.

We were like a comedy partnership, totally cracking each other up. How can you not laugh with a kid that forgets he needs two socks? He's so freaking funny.

This afternoon he was using his Macy's gift card to buy something. We don't shop at Macy's. In fact, they redid our Macy's a year or so ago and I've never set foot in it to check out the new digs. It's just not on my radar even though it's right down the street.

He's looking at the stuff on sale (that's my boy!) and everything is too high priced for his gift card plus shipping. I tell him that I'll take him there so he can avoid shipping charges and he's not interested. "I don't want people to know I shop in Macy's" he says. Why? Because they think he's so cool since I bought him a bunch of t-shirts online that nobody else has. He said he has a reputation to uphold. Macy's could ruin him.

OK. I didn't realize that Macy's was that totally uncool. But now I know. So after he looked at Macy's and found something he was willing to wear (I have no clue as to what he picked out) we went onto some of the t-shirt sites I like for the kids. We're cracking up at some of the shirts, and he says, "Mom, you gotta get some of those for this summer. Your t'shirts are so boring. How many Red Sox shirts can one person own, anyhow?" UM, I've been disses for my fan wardrobe by my son. The kid that used to steal my t-shirts before they became too small and short for him.

I guess I have to take him shopping. Because like his shoes, he can't find his clothes either. He does his own laundry and has for years, so I have no clue as to where his clothes are. But I'm betting they are either on his floor or in the closet.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

LOST Discussion Thursday-- He's Our You

What?

Just what the f?

WHAT?

Now this was an episode that ended with a literal BANG! How unexpected was that? I was like, HUH? I thought I was confused before, but now? Just WTF?

Kate's face when she heard from Chef Hurley the Waffle King that Juliet and Sawyer were living together, and not as roommates was priceless. When Jack said he knew too, she had that betrayed Kate look that we haven't seen in a while. And how come nobody from the Dharma Losties has asked her what happened to Aaron?

Jack's agreement to let Sawyer have the upper hand is confusing the new Dharma Losties, which I found amusing. He's going to be another kind of Jack, and I'm looking forward to him being less of a prick and more of a cooperator. At least I hope he is more cooperative.

All of the Sayid flashbacks, especially those when he was tripping, were needed to understand how he could possibly shoot Young Ben. When he said that this is why he was on the island again, I didn't have an clue that he was going to shoot Ben. I thought he was going to take him to the 'hostiles' and dump him with Richard Alpert. But no.....

I think the fact that both Ben and Sayid had hardass fathers makes them able to understand each other, but in turn they both hate and resent the other. What a complex relationship they ended up having.

The whole Ilana scene with the boots was a bit too reminiscent of the other spy woman that Sayid got involved with in Germany. Clearly he does not have the best taste in women. I was surprised to find that Ilana was a bounty hunter and not a US Marshall. Can't wait till all the Losties end up in the same time period to see what Ilana has to say to Sayid about ending up on the island. Guam. I don't THINK so! I still can't decide just whom Ilana is working for. The possibilities are Ben, Widmore, or that she told the truth and was representing the golf course family.

Another great scent was when Sayid was being interrogated by Radzinsky, Sawyer, and Horace and Oldham and he was asked about the different Dharma stations. Sayid describing the Swan, which was the station Radzinsky was designing with the geodesic dome, totally freaked Radzinsky out because he's sure Sayid is a spy. He's a tad bit paranoid, this Radzinsky. Also very irritating.

When they're taking the vote to kill Sayid and Radzinsky threatens to "call Ann Arbor" if they don't vote to kill Sayid, I was cracking up. How lame was that threat? If you don't do what I want, I'm gonna tell on you? Very mature.

When all the Dharma's were together talking about killing Sayid, I got totally irritated with Amy (Michelle from 24) for being such a big wimp. "We have a bay-bee now Horace." Like that's going to matter once the war starts up.

Who lit the VW van on fire? I initially thought it was Ben, so that he could spring Sayid from the jail cell, but now I'm not so sure. And why was Jin out in the middle of the night driving around? What was he up to? Could he have set the van on fire?

Did you place that druggie guy Oldham (He's Our You)? He was on that Vermont Inn show with Bob Newhart where he played Darryl (not his other brother Darryl). Cracked me right up to see him on Lost. He was on Deadwood, too. Nice to see he's working. I've always liked his acting.

So, the big question is: Is Ben really dead? I think he's hurt, but alive. Because otherwise, it just doesn't make ANY sense at all!

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WOOOT! Guess what I got today?

Internet friends are so amazing. They support you when you're feeling down, they make jokes that cheer you up, they send cards and letters, and sometimes, just sometimes they send special cookies from Australia. (Actually sent from California, but heck, they're made in Australia!) Cookies you love, but can't buy here. Twitter friends like @frogknits totally rock!

Lookie loo!


Just look at all that Tim Tam goodness! And they are mine. All mine. Death to any children who think that I'm going to let them eat all my cookies. I will share only if they are nice to me. Which makes those cookies mine. All mine! WOOT!

Have you ever had a Tim Tam? They are rectangular shaped cookies. You bite the diagonal corners, and then use the cookie as a straw to suck up a cup of coffee. This is a ritual that I was taught by a friend from New Zealand, and it is one of the more amazing tastes you can imagine.

THANK YOU, Frogknits. I'm a happy happy camper right now!

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The feeling must be contageous

This morning I got up just in time to spend a half hour screaming at the top of my lungs to wake up the Boy at the time he requested last night. He is so impossible to awaken that it takes way more energy than I want to expend at 7 am. Way more. But eventually he got up and right away started with the "you're going to your meeting so can you give me a ride to school?" nonsense. Every freaking week we go through the same discussion. My meeting is in the exact opposite direction from school and I have no intention of giving him a ride on a nice sunny and fairly warm day. He knows this. I always say no. But he just has to play the script through to the end.

I'm already annoyed beyond belief with him for several things, including going ballistic because I would not drive him to a very sketchy town 20+ miles away to go see a movie. A town that I'd have to sit and wait for him to get through a 3-hour movie. Not gonna happen no matter how much he harasses me.

Additionally, he ate my entire giant container of yogurt that I eat every morning for breakfast, so I got none, and he drank an entire bottle of cranberry juice that was for his sister who uses it for 'medical' reasons. Really, she does. And the dishes that the Girl removed from his room whilst I was in the hospital still remain unwashed on the screened porch. I've nagged until I have nothing else to nag with. He will not wash them. He's also broken all 4 of my hand blown crystal glasses his father gave me over 20 years ago. They are irreplaceable and I am FURIOUS.

So when I walk into the meeting this morning I already look like hell and I feel stressed beyond belief. As the other members come in, each has the same look on their faces that I have. Uh-oh. It's been a tough week. A tough week means that everyone will be high strung and angry and feeling like crap. A tough week means that our kids have been behaving like animals and we've been bearing the brunt of it.

We go around the table. This person has a 51A filed by a program that is clueless to the real story. This person has a kid who has gotten generic medication for his seizure disorder (from CVS, of course) that was in some way tainted and did not work and he had a grand mal seizure last week. And her other kids are in a tough way too. Then a mom talks about one of her 3 kids, the one usually doing well, who is going through a terrible period of body dysmorphia and it's been very hard on the family.

It is my turn and I go though the litany of things that the Boy is doing that is driving me nuts, and how he thinks that he no longer needs meds (talk about some tough love), and at the end I say, "Honestly, I don't like this kid very much right now."

"Thank God" says one parent. "I feel exactly the same way. I love my kids, but I don't always like them very much."

All the other parents were nodding and agreeing and talking about how hard it is to live with a person who works so hard to make you miserable, who pushes every freaking button they can, who cannot see past their own noses to have some empathy for their siblings and parents. We all got it. We all feel the same way.

Living with a kid with a mental illness is incredibly hard. So much harder as the kid gets older and thinks that they have all the answers. There are days that I honestly don't think I can get through the day. I love this kid with all my heart, but he hurts me to the core at times, and when I tell him how much his words hurt, he can't back down or apologize.

It's not like I can put him in the naughty chair. Consequences don't work particularly well with kids who are bipolar. He has consequences, plenty of them. But he forgets from minute to minute, and so every consequence is an argument. If I take the computer away from him, I have to change the passwords so he can't get on, otherwise he will stay up until I fall asleep and then stay up all night to use the computer. He'll go on it because he "forgot" that he is being punished. He'll sneak on any way he can, and every time I order him off, we go through the same freaking scenario. "WHY?" he asks. I remind him that he's grounded. "But WHY?" he asks. "What is taking the computer away going to accomplish?" And he's off. He will go on and on and on, way past my refusing to talk to him. He will not quit until I send him away or leave myself.

It's beyond stubborn. WAY WAY WAY beyond stubborn. It's a part of his pathology and it is so wearing that there are times I just lock myself in the bathroom with a magazine for some breathing room. Of course he's right outside the door continuing to argue....

It's so helpful to be in a room filled with parents that share my experiences. They don't judge like SOME (CL) morons we loathe. They get it because they are living it. It isn't bad parenting skills, it's kids that are sick and have serious problems just getting through each day. It's being worn down to a nub by kids that can't stop because they are obsessive and have to see it through to the bitter end. We're friends because we have empathy for each other. We get how hard we all have it. We understand that there are times when our kids are totally unlikeable.

When I get together with my group, I feel grounded and happy. I love that I have this community of supportive loving friends. People who GET IT instead of people who tear apart every freaking word I never have said because they have the need to be mean. And oh, isn't that just like all of our mentally ill kids. Hmmmmmm. You do have to wonder.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Obama's Open for Questions

Have you been following the whitehouse.gov web site carefully? If so, you might have noticed a new feature just announced that allows you to ask questions that Obama might answer every Thursday in a new video he's going to do. The feature is called Open for Questions and it's really quite a time suck if you have an interest in what people around the country are feeling and pondering. But I have a few comments before you post there.

First, ask a question. So many of the posts are diatribes that really can't be responded to. If you want to know something, ask. Don't just pontificate.

Second, if you have a question, spend a couple of seconds proofreading your post to ensure that you don't look like a moron. Use proper capitalization, spelling, and punctuation. You're talking to the leader of the free world, how about dropping the IM-speak for a few seconds.

Third, flaming the President isn't going to help anyone or anything. You don't like him? Fine. But this is a public forum for questions about getting the country back on track, not on your personal woes and problems. Find another way to insult the guy.

Fourth, try, just TRY to learn something about your subject before you go posting nonsense. A lot of the questions look like Chicken Liver's moronic groupies asked them. I mean DUMB. There are enough different categories of questions that you can probably find something to ask. But know the topic. Don't just post off the top of your head, because other people are voting on your question and will shoot you down as fast as you can spit.

With those caveats in mind, go forth and ask the questions that have been bugging you. I think this is an amazing opportunity to get your thoughts heard and your questions answered. The transparency that this government has already put forth has made me extremely happy. I hope you all take advantage of this site.

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Catchin' up

Little things to report. Nothing earth shattering, just stuff that's a tad over run of the mill.

Cats: I never thought I would see the day that these two cats would actually share the same space, never mind an attempt at snuggling. But the proof is in the picture:


Two butts touching. How sweet.

The Boy has committed to taking drivers ed this summer. He's going to learn how to drive. I don't think I'm going to be able to take the shock of having someone besides me driving. It's going to be interesting. He'll be taking lessons from the Russians, who control the drivers ed schools around here. The stories the kids tell about the Russians are hysterical. The Girl's boyfriend and his sister are both taking drivers ed right now and they have us in hysterics with the stories they tell. I can't wait!

I'm finding it interesting that a lot of people all of a sudden are annoyed with Twitter. Yes, having too many followers and following too many people does make twitter a bit out of control. If you trim your lists and keep out the spammers, I find it fairly easy to keep up. But I have little to no retailers or professional spammers. Nor do I have anyone that is only on twitter to push their own little agenda. That gets old really fast.

We have purple and white crocuses up in the garden. It's so cold that they aren't opened up, but the are there.

Elizabeth Hasselback is shilling her own "line" of clothing on QVC. Oh joy, there is nothing I want to do more than pay money to that shrill little bitch.

Are you watching 24 this season? It's better than last season, but it isn't great. The villian isn't anywhere near villianous enough to keep up the storyline.

I am dreading Passover this year more than ever. Besides not having the money to afford the damn holiday, I just don't want to clean my entire house from top to bottom. It's such an effort to scrub every single inch of your house to remove the chametz, and no matter how hard I try, I'm not going to get it all done. I wish I could just skip it altogether, but that's not going to happen.

David Letterman got married? I never though I would live to see the day that he would marry Regina. I love the fact that she's a totally normal looking woman, unlike Bruce Willis' new bride. Congratulations, Dave!

Still fighting the Housing Authority, but the interesting thing is that the more involved I get, the more shady stuff I find out about this 'agency'. It's a game of "how many laws can one agency break and still survive." I feel like the guy that broke the Bernie Madoff story or something. The chances of me ever getting housing from them are nill to zero, but I figure they need a real takedown, even if I'm not going to personally benefit.

Oh, and while we're discussing fighting the system, CVS has been the feature of a local news expose for screwing up so many prescription drugs. Seems that my issue with them over the counterfit Lasix is one of a LOT of problems, and of course the state doesn't have anyone to oversee the pharmacies, so all complaints are dismissed. SHOCKING!

My hair is officially half gray and half brown. Nope, it's not mixed. The top half is gray where it's growing out, and comes to about the bottom of my ears, and the rest of it is mousy brown from the Natural Instincts coloring I've used. It's almost time to cut off the brown, maybe something to do this summer.

I think that's about everything.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

An strange offshoot of the economy

I know that most of us are feeling the pinch, some more than others. And although I'm the queen of economy and have been due to necessity for years, I've learned some new tricks through reading both blogs and the mainstream media. I've cut back in ways I had thought of, and I've watched most of the people I know do the same.

Many of the economies suggested don't apply. We don't have cable, so we can't cut it. We no longer have cell phones. We rarely use coupons because I don't buy the kind of food that is pushed by the large corporations that provide coupons. I do shop the circulars for fruits and veggies, though. I don't buy in bulk because I have absolutely no place to put the food. And I don't use stores like Costco or Sams Club because I cannot trust myself not to over shop. I know my limits.

We do all the things one does to save energy and have for years. I would rather kill my firstborn than to pay any more for energy. So our house is always cold in winter and hot in summer, we only use cost saving fluorescent bulbs, even in appliances, and we don't run the computer all night long.

When I say we're living about as tightly as one can while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle, we're always trying to do better. The kids are trained to turn off lights (my screaming helps a lot!) and take short showers. We don't let the water run, even though we live in a place with no water shortages. We're careful, and we do it naturally.

So today, in my blog reading, I came across someone who was talking about his/her own economy measures, and said that for the first time, spent less than $3000 a month for food and expenses. After I picked myself up off the floor, and read it again, and then again, I tried to figure out how a family of three people, all adults, could eat that much. What on earth are they eating? Truffles and chateaubriand? Even that wouldn't cover that much expenditure. What kind of expenses can a person have that would cost thousands of dollars. Gas is expensive, but not that expensive.

The thing is, I know this person in real life, and I have always known that they were well to do, but never, in my wildest imagination did I think that they would economize by "only" spending $3000/month on food and expenses. Even if their charitable giving were included in the expenses, I still would be shocked. That is a LOT of money. This person is a wonderful entertainer, lives in a gorgeous home, is a great friend, and a real humanitarian. Parent to two wonderful and smart, talented kids as well as one poodle, this person is beloved in the community and a great friend. Apparently a very RICH great friend!

Since our family only spends about $500 on food and expenses per month, and I include clothing and all the other kid incidentals in expenses, as well as gas, insurance, shampoo, etc. Yes, we're on the very low end of expenses because that's all I can afford, but how can a family the exact same size as ours spend 6 times as much as we do?

I don't think I could actually spend that much money on food. And I love food and would love to have access to all the gourmet sauces and fancy meats. But honestly I don't think I could spend that much even if money was no object. When we lived in CA and money really wasn't much of an object for much of the time, I never spend anywhere near $1000 on food in a month. Not even close. And I shopped in the best store, Andronicos, for much of our food.

So what say you? Could you spend that kind of money on food and incidentals? Or would it just drive you insane to toss out that much money on food?

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

His film education is sorely lacking

The Boy is very interested in film, and as a serious film buff has watched thousands of movies. He is a real expert in several genres: teenage American Pie type movies, serious modern films, and anything I would determine to be a 'guy' movie. Like with bombs and explosions and Bruce Willis. You know what I mean?

Even with classes of film studies under his belt, there is one genre that he is sorely lacking. That would be the classic 1950's B movie, like Charlie Chan and Vincent Price films. He's never seen any of them, and what is a good film education without a chance to view the worst of the worst?

Fortunately, we have all of a sudden begun to receive a channel that is all B movies all the time. If you're in Boston, it's channel 7-2 if you have digital TV already set up. Today we got to see a bit of a really stinking rotten Frank Sinatra movie with Edward G Robinson. It was so bad it was good. It was like one of those Mystery Science Theatre movies, where you laugh your ass off at how absolutely terrible the acting is.

After Frank came a real black and white Charlie Chan film. The Boy had never even heard of Charlie Chan. What kind of an education is he getting, anyhow? We only watched bout a half hour, because really, how much racist Number One Son jokes can you stand? But we had many comments. Like how come Number One Son is actually Asian, but Charlie is a white guy with a lot of tape around his eyes? Riddle me that, Batman.

Next week is a Vincent Price week, and they are going to show a few of his better movies. The Boy has never seen Price in action, which is such a shame. We'll have to check those out as well. And goodness only knows what else this channel is going to dig up next. It's really amazing just how bad every single movie is. But my feeling is, the classic B movie is just as important to watch as a good A list film, if for nothing else but to learn the pitfalls in film you should avoid.

The other genre they have skipped in film class are foreign films. I think it's because the teacher doesn't believe that the kids can sit through a subtitled movie, but I think that's totally wrong. Most kids can, and will sit through just about anything if the film is good enough. I know the Girl can't read as fast as the subtitles, so she's not in that group, but the Boy certainly can and has read subtitles for films in other languages. I feel that they are missing out on some of the best films ever made, like Spirit of the Beehive, Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring, Wild Strawberries, and Children of Paradise. It's a shame that they aren't able to study those films in class, but I've made it a priority to introduce the Boy to at least some of those, thanks to our local public library which has a fabulous collection of foreign films.

If you could teach film studies, what films would you make your kids watch? What are your favorite films that you would want everyone to see?

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

I can see clearly now.

The weird thing about menopause is how much it effects your mind. When you first start hitting peri-menopause in your forties, you just don't have a clue about how much you're going to forget, and how much confusion your brain is in. It's a constant shock. You grow slightly aphasic, your word-finding capabilities go down the drain, and you look like a complete moron because you can't think more than 10 minutes in advance or in the immediate past. It's sad, really.

But that's just one symptom, and ladies, if you're not investigating what will happen to your body, you better get right on the stick because this is one part of life nobody wants to discuss with you. Except for maybe Robin McGraw, and I'm not that woman's biggest fan.

So let's go through the symptoms. I'll tell you my experience. It won't be like yours, but if you get enough people talking about their symptoms, you'll eventually get a decent picture of what to expect.

Everyone's favorite, Hot Flashes. Now, when I heard about them, I thought they lasted a few minutes and you got over them. I was dead wrong. Hot flashes occur totally out of the blue. One second you're feeling just fine, the next second you feel your face glowing red, your body is sweating bullets, and you're sure it's about 95 degrees right around you.

What to do: Strip down to the least possible amount of clothing you can. Take everything off if you're able to. Open the windows wide, turn on a fan, and stand in front of it. You will feel that your skin is freezing, but you are still hot. This is the joy of the hot flash. If it's winter, go outside in t-shirts and shorts. Stand on your porch or stoop and wait until your toes are frozen. Chances are good that you still have a hot flash going on, but at least you can breath nice fresh cold air. My average hot flash lasts about an hour to two hours and nothing, but NOTHING makes me totally cool down. Fans are my best advice. Get a lot of them and use them. In new studies, Flax Seed is supposed to help with hot flashes. I have no experience with this, myself.

Night Sweats: The nightime version of the hot flash, you go to bed, fall asleep, and wake up in a pool of sweat. You are burning up, your sheets are disgusting, your PJs need to come right off, and the area around your neck is on fire.

What to do: Sleep with a fan directly on your body. Point it at your face and neck. It will keep the worst of the night sweats at bay. When you awaken, turn the fan on high, open the windows, drink a glass of water, get up and rinse off your face and next, and wet a hand towel with cold water which you wrap around your neck. That will cool you off fairly quickly. Sleep with a large beach towel so you don't have to change your sheets in the middle of the night.

Vaginal dryness: Just when you think sex is going to be unfettered by birth control, you lose your desire and your vajayjay dries up like a prune.

What to do: Astroglide. Use some type of vaginal lubricant to keep you moist during sex. You can use various medications that will help with vaginal dryness, but I don't support using estrogen supplements when simple applications of various vaginal lubricants or moisturizers will do the trick. There are three different kinds of estrogen medications: vaginal creme, vaginal estrogen ring, and vaginal pill. I've never used any of them so I can't really comment on the efficacy.

My personal fave: Increased abdominal fat. Oh yes indeedy, just when you feel like crap, your body goes and makes a nice fat belly so you look like crap, too.

What to do: I don't really have to tell you that getting rid of belly fat means diet changes and exercise, do I? I think you can deal with this one on your own.

Thinning hair: Remember that time, about 3 months post partum when your hair started falling out in clumps. Well, that's menopause hair loss in a nutshell. My experience is that you lose about half the hair on top of your head, all the hair on your legs, arms, and underarms, and grow an amount equal to or greater on your chin and upper lip.

What to do: Friends of mine who lost a LOT of hair swear by rogaine for women, which has made their hair fuller and thicker than it ever was. It is amazing. But... one friend's hair grew in with corkscrew curls when she used the rogaine, so she has much curlier hair in front than in the back. But she has hair! My hair was so ridiculously thick in my younger days that even with the loss of about half my hair, it still is thick. So this one didn't really bother me because I have to admit to LOVING the loss of hair on my arms and legs. I haven't had to shave anything in years! The facial hair sucks, and I'm a big believer in the wax.

Loss of breast fullness: You think you're floppy now? Ha! You haven't a clue how floppy and deflated you can get. I have gone from a double D pre-pregnancy to an H when nursing, down to a D post nursing, and now I'm a C. Getting a mammogram is no longer much of an issue because my boobs are so flat anyhow. I know, it's just delightful.

What to do: If it bother's you, get implants. If it doesn't, buy yourself some good bras that fit well and remember those days of yore when your boobs were perky.

Heavy vaginal bleeding: Your periods are supposed to be slowing down, but the truth is, as they become more irregular, you're going to experience the joys of flooding. Nothing out of the ordinary, just some of those very heavy bleeding days where leaving the house proves to be a big mistake. Trust me on that.

What to do: To relieve heavy periods, your doctor may suggest taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen during your period. NSAIDs have the added benefit of relieving painful menstrual cramps. Birth control pills can lighten heavy periods, too. If you have severe bleeding that doesn't respond to medication and maintaining your fertility isn't a concern, treatment options may include: the use of a progestin-containing IUD,
scraping the lining of the uterus aka a D&C, removing the lining of the uterus and removing the uterus. The last two are obviously last resorts.

Now, doesn't menopause sound like fun? Actually, it's not bad for many women, and really bad for others. I'm pretty much in the middle, where I've had many of the symptoms, but most haven't really bothered me.

What has surprised me is that even though I'm technically menopausal because I've not had a period in well over a year (go me!), I still get the hot flashes and night sweats. I really thought that I'd be over them, but nope.... still get them. In fact, a friend called me today and asked what I was doing and I reported that I was laying in front of the fan in my underwear. At 4 pm in the afternoon. Yup, and I'm not afraid to admit that, either.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

The stimulus money starts pouring in

We've been getting notices here in MA about the various stimulus checks that are coming our way. I'm absolutely fascinated as to how the money is being distributed in MA. It appears that the the money goes from Washington straight to Governor Patrick's office, where he decides how to divide it up between the cities and towns in the commonwealth. Now, you would think that there might be some equity there, but this is Massachusetts, and equity isn't ever something we support.

The first splash of money came in the guise of education help. Out of the 351 cities and towns in the commonwealth, only 166 get any money, based on a formula thought up in 1993 when nobody was hurting all that badly. Seems that if your town has been funding your schools at the full level determined by the government, you don't get any money.

That leaves our city with a big fat zero in the first phase of education help, all because we followed the law and funded our school at the required level. I guess that's fair.

Next up is a big giant check for 8.7 billion that was announced today for infrastructure and renewable energy. Now, it is no secret that our state is falling down around us. Shoring up the infrastructure has been so far on the back burner it's a wonder anyone has even recalled that plans exist. Our roads.... filled with potholes and begging for rebuilding, widening, and repaving. Our bridges are falling down as moronic truck drivers continue to plow into them. They need new girders, roadbeds, and paint at the bare minimum. State buildings are a mess of leaky roofs, peeling paint, and dilapidated windows. The first eight road projects have already been announced. I'm getting psyched to see road repair. I just hope that at some point, the road in my city that has driven us all to distraction is either taken over by our city, or fixed and widened by the state.

Our state is tiny in size, but for those unfamiliar with MA, it's really two different states, where anything east of Worcester is acknowledged as part of the state, and anything west of Worcester up to the Berkshires must be part of NY, right? There are people who have lived in the Boston area their entire lives who have never driven the 90 minutes to Springfield, a city that resembles Detroit more than it does Boston.

So I wonder just how equitable the distribution of money will be to those communities out there in the hinterlands. Our first hint looks excellent. Springfield schools got a very large injection of cash for the education budget, which is great news. They really need the cash.

Massachusetts is one of 16 states that will be monitored by Congress' financial watchdog, the Government Accountability Office. The GAO must review and report on the state's use of federal stimulus dollars bimonthly. I'm happy to see this because, while I love this state, I am a realist and I know that pretty much every construction project is mired in graft and misuse of funds. Let's say that state government is less than honest and leave it at that.

Obama promised that the government would be more transparent, and set up recovery.gov as a way to track the stimulus money and how it's spent. Massachusetts has it's own site that will keep the citizens of the commonwealth informed about how our own stimulus money is being spend. Every state has one, so make sure that you check often to see where the money is going and if your pet project is being funded. There is no excuse for not being involved and aware of how the money is being spent. I hope you spend the time and make the effort to watch as the money is spent.

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Scared the living crap outta me

I've been sleeping poorly. Like this is a major shock! I never sleep well, and I just haven't had a catch up day in the longest time, so I was working on quite the sleep deficit. I fell asleep sometime after 2 last night, and woke up at 6 when the Girl got up for school. After she left, I tried to awaken the Boy, but he said he didn't have to be in school until 10, so I let him sleep longer. At 9 I woke him up again, he said he was up, and I fell back to sleep. Apparently, it was a coma or something because I don't remember a thing until around 11:30 when I heard someone walking around upstairs.

I totally freaked out. I thought it was robbers or something, although all they were going to find upstairs is a big gigantic mess of teenage proportions. Ahem. I listened silently for a while, and didn't hear anything, so thought it was just my imagination and drifted back to sleep. Next thing I knew, there was someone typing on the computer just inches from my feet. WTF?

It was the Boy. He didn't ever get up, he took it upon himself to call in sick, went back to sleep, and then woke up and thought it was a good idea to spend time surfing the 'net. Unfortunately for him, I didn't think it was a good idea at all, not one bit. Nope, I was ticked. Not only did he take advantage of my sleep coma, he lied to the school.

Turns out he was up all night reading a book that he couldn't put down. Since reading is rather low on his list of priorities lately, I couldn't fault him on the activity, but I was not happy with him lying to the school. As in, grounded all weekend. Grounded with chores.

He's emptying the dishwasher right now, and he's going to straighten up the cabinets which are a jumble of things in the wrong places. It will be good for him. Really good for him. Whether he likes it or not.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

The one where I shake my fist at the sky!

Dear Higher Power of Your Choice,

We seem to have a failure to communicate. You think it's going to be spring tomorrow. Spring. You know, that season where the forsythia bloom bright yellow on the bushes. Where the crocus poke their purple heads out of the ground looking for precious sunlight. Where buds form on the trees and the grass turns a soft green after a winter of brown covered by a thick cold blanket of white. Spring, where shrubs bloom with lilacs and gardens are filled with hyacinth, tulips, and daffodils. Spring, the time of year where the weather turns warmer and people shed their winter jackets and line up along the banks of the river for a bit of vitamin D therapy.

SPRING!

Not freaking Winter v2.0.

We are tired of ugly black coats. We are sick of wearing boots outside. We do not want to put on layers of clothing anymore. We do not want our skin to glow with the light of a thousand watt bulb from lack of sunshine. We are tired of creaky bones, sniffling noses, headaches from clogged sinuses, and the constant feeling of cold hands and feet.

Enough already. Enough.

We need color. How much more dull brown and gray can we take? We need blue skies, green grass, and multi-colored flowers. Pronto, toronto.

We need the world to smell like something other than dog poop left over from the snow bluffs created by the plows. The gorgeous scent of French lilacs and rosemary would be nice.

We need to stick our hands into soil and start to garden. Soil, not mud.

Most of all, we do not need more cold. We do not need any more snow. We need warm days and cooler nights. We need sunshine. Lots and lots of sunshine. The gift of life, remember?

Because if this crapola weather continues, you and I are through.

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LOST Discussion Thursday --Namaste

Well, this was quite the relaxing episode of LOST. I don't think my heart beat increased the entire hour, which has to be a first. Mostly we got 'fill-ins', a bunch of transitions to move the story along and fill in the blanks, as well as introducing a bunch of new characters. Because we don't have enough characters to wonder about as it is.

Let's start off with the title, Namaste. This is a common greeting in India, and means "I see the light within you." For all you youngsters out there that don't remember the 70's, it was also a pretty common greeting amongst hippies like me. So we're looking for greetings, which we see a lot of as our beloved Oceanic 6 folks are brought into the Dharma fold, but also we're meeting a lot of characters for the first time.

We start out back on flight Ajira 316. The plane undergoes some turbulence and Lapidus the pilot isn’t happy with what he knows is about to happen. Things get rough and there’s a giant flash of white light. Once the light is gone, we’re still on the plane with Lapidus, only it’s magically gone from night to day and he’s about to crash into the Island. Lapidus does some fancy flying and manages to land the plane on the “runway” on the secondary island. The crash knocks him out, and when he comes to, his co-pilot is dead.

Lapidus heads to the back and sees that, for some reason, Sun is the only one of the Oceanic 6 still aboard. Ben appears and says they’re 'gone', and when Lapidus asks how, the response is, “How would I know?” Oh Ben, always with the lies. You gotta love those evil blue eyes!

OKIE Dokie! So catching up with the last scene of Le Fleur, we see Sawyer reconnecting with Jack, Hurley and Kate, and everything’s happy until he tries to explain why he’s in a DHARMA jumpsuit. “It’s 1977,” he tells them. “Uh, what?” stutters poor Hurley. And then Sawyer has to explain, which he can't, and so he decided to bring them in as last minute passengers on the incoming sub. Which is a great plan, especially when he arranges for Jack to be a "Workman." Just a little bit of revenge, Sawyer?

When Jin hears from Sawyer that Sun was on the plane, he speeds off to the Flame to check with Radzinsky. Here’s a quick reminder for any LOST fans who don’t remember all the backstory: the Flame is the communications center on a farm where Locke and others met Mikhail, aka Patchy. Radzinsky was Kelvin Joe Inman’s partner in the Swan Station before killing himself.

At the Flame, Radzinsky is building a model of a geodesic dome. More 70's references, because the geodesic dome was the really in-cool building of that time period. Jin asks if there have been any plane sightings. Radsinsky, always the rude jerk, makes a bunch of sarcastic remarks but Jin is insistant, and gets Radzinsky to check in with the other stations. They all report back negative on the plane sightings, but then a blip on the radar suggests a Hostile has entered the perimeter.

Jin runs after it, hoping that the “Hostile” is his wife. It’s not, it's Sayid instead. Because let's recall, Sun is 30 years forward and on the beach with Ben and Lapidus and the rest of the new plane survivors. Sayid is happy to see Jin, but less so when Radzinsky arrives and points his gun at him, forcing Jin to go along with the assumption that Sayid is a Hostile.

Back at Dharmaville, Sawyer comes back after leaving Hurley, Jack and Kate right where he found them, tells Juliet about who he found. They’re both stumped about how it happened, but the submarine is bringing in some new recruits, the perfect cover. Juliet jumps into action and sneaks off to get the manifest so she can add our buddies to the list. Amy, who is the keeper of the manifest, is sleeping in the hammock with her brand new baby beside her. And guess what she's named the baby? ETHAN. Ethan Rom. It's our creepy old friend and cousin of the even creepier Tom Cruise. Ugh. Anyhow, Juliet gets the manifest, puts our brand new Dharma recruits on it, and then Sawyer goes back to pick them up and inform then about the plan.

On the way back to Dharmaville, Sawyer mentions Daniel Faraday and Jack asks if he's there, and Sawyer says "not anymore." Now that can't be good. What happened to Daniel? Is he dead? Did he go back on a submarine and is now doing his experiments in Oxford? How did he get off the island? And how much influence does he have over future time travel. Oh, and if isn't 1977, when he goes back to England, how old is he, and where is his mother and how old is she? Confusing, isn't it?

When they arrive at Dharmaville, Sawyer puts some leis on his friends and tells them to play along with the initiation to get their work assignments. Jack, Kate and Hurley go through DHARMA processing. Jack is interviewed by Pierre Chang, aka Dr. Marvin Candle. Kate isn’t initially on creepy intake guy Phil’s list, but Juliet comes in to save her with a new, fake list. Later they all smile and pose for an orientation group photo, a photo which proves to be important a bit later on in the show.

Miles drives up to Dharmaville and Mile is clearly not a very good actor because he can’t stop staring at the Oceanic 6 guys. Sawyer gives him 'the look' and Miles tells Sawyer that there’s a Hostile who’s been captured. Sawyer is pissed when he finds out that Sayid is the Hostile. The return of the Oceanic 6 seems to be putting a major crimp in his nice, easy life he and Juliet have carved out for themselves the past 3 years. I don't blame him for being a bit put out. He's got it made in the shade as the head of security and living with Juliet, and now these bozos suddenly reappear to shake everything up. He does have a point!

Sawyer heads to the Flame where Radzinsky wants to shoot Sayid because he thinks he’s a spy who saw the model of the Swan and where they plan on building it. Oh boy, he saw a geodesic dome made of toothpicks. That's really top secret information, Radzinsky.

In the holding room, Jim LaFleur, aka Sawyer, head of security, "interrogates" Sayid and coerces him into admitting that he’s a Hostile, which allows Sawyer to take him back to the barracks as part of the Truce.

He takes the prisoner back to Dharmaville and brings him downstairs under Ben's old house, and locks him up in the cell, leaving him for another day. Sawyer goes home to read a book, and Jack stops by to ask what the plan is with Sayid. Juliet answers the door and Jack finally clues in that Sawyer and Juliet are living together. The plot thickens! The two men get into a heated discussion about leadership skills, and while Jack acted impulsively and got a lot of people killed, Sawyer likes to read a book every night like Winston Churchill did and think. Sawyer mentions thinking a lot, giving Jack the clue that his impulsive actions did damage to the original Losties, while with thinking and planning, they've remained safe. Good job, Sawyer?

Back at the prison, a little boy walks over to give Sayid a sandwich. The little boy with the big glasses is none other than Benjamin Linus, age 10ish. Of course this means this whole time Ben has known exactly who all these people are? Now does this make ANY sense at all. ANY SENSE? I know Ben has always been one step ahead of the Losties, but 30 years ahead? I just do not know.

The Present, the Beach: Caesar and Ilana are the new Jack and Kate, taking control of the situation. Lapidus tries to calm everyone down, but Caesar wants to look through the buildings and the cages. Buildings and cages? They're on the little island. Which means that Ben, Lapidus, and Sun, the only ones of our Losties with this group, have to get to the Big Island across the bay. Now, if they get to the Big Island, is it going to be 1977 there? And if it isn't, how are they going to get back 30 years? Again, does any of this make sense?

So Ben lurks off into the jungle as only he can, and Sun follows him. When she catches up to him, he says that he’s going back to “our Island” and asks if Sun would like to come with him. She goes along with it in hopes that Jin is on the main island. Lapidus catches up to them and they go for one of the three canoes. He begs her not to trust Ben and gets into a debate with Ben. Sun sneaks up behind him with an oar and whacks Ben over the head. Yes!

Lapidus thought she trusted him, but she responds, “I lied.” She has turned really badass during the 3 year break, and I'm liking it a lot. I wonder how Jin is going to react to this new Sun. No more submissive Korean wife walking a couple of steps behind him. Heh.

Sun and Lapidus take the boat back to the main island and head to the barracks. They’re abandoned and the two hear whispers and Smokey all around them. A light goes on in one house, and out walks...Christian Shephard. Sun asks where Jin is, and he tells her to follow him.

Let’s put the pause button on. Sun was off the Island for three years and yet not once did she ever see a photo of Jack’s dad? I find that a little hard to believe, but I suppose plot holes are a moot point in a show with time travel, a Black Smoke Monster and four-toed statues.

Inside the house, Christian takes down a photo from 1977. It’s the DHARMA orientation group photo and Sun sees all her friends in it. Christian tells her she has a long journey ahead. No kidding... she has to travel back in time 30 years and then fit in to the Dharma group in order to be back with Jin. Or, conversely, he has to travel forward in time 30 years. And the big question remains. When they get back together, will they speak English or Korean?

From the previews for next week's show, it looks like all hell breaks loose and the beginning of the war ensues. Or at least something like that. Because I'm going to admit that the more I watch this show, the more confused I get. Remember those innocent times during Season 1 when we all thought we had the show figured out? It was all about zombies or purgatory or something like that? Heh. We were so clueless. I'm not even sure if it's a show about time travel, or that is just a plot device to keep us rivited to our chairs. All I know is, I can't stop watching this damn addictive show. And I love every minute of it!

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

State Government has apparently died

Yesterday I tried for hours and hours to get someone, anyone to answer a phone at the Mass Department of Housing and Community Development. I called many times, and the phone just rang and rang. After a while I got kind of curious as to why an entire state office seemed to just not answer phones, so I called the main number at the state house and was told that yesterday was a holiday. Evacuation Day. A holiday ONLY celebrated in Suffolk County, the county that Boston happens to be located in.

We're in such a financial crisis in this state that we can't fix a damn pothole and we give an entire government office the day off?

Anyhow, I tried calling again today. The phone rang and rang and rang. Hundreds of times. No voicemail. No answering machine. Just a ringing phone. I thought maybe I had the wrong number. I went back to the web site and checked. Nope, right number all right. So then I thought maybe I'd try to get through by using a name on the web site. But the only name on the web site is the director, and his number doesn't exist. Interesting!

I got an alternate number from HUD and that one had voice mail with one of those directory things where you punch in the first 4 letters of a last name. Except... no last name. So I tried the last name of the director that was on the web site, and nope, he doesn't seem to be recognized as existing. WTF? OK, maybe he quit or he was laid off. Who knows in this economy? So I tried the old push zero for the operator trick, and ring ring ring ring ring...banana phone.

So I called the State House again. They have me an alternate number. Guess what? It rang and rang and rang, too!

I don't do a lot of business with the state. In fact, I don't think I've ever even tried to reach an department office before, but I'm sorry, this is insane. It's a state office. They can't afford a freaking answering machine? Voice Mail? Never mind that nobody seems to work at this entire department. Two full days of calling and not one person answers the phone.

How sad is that?

I try one last time before I down some tylenol for the incredible headache I've got, and what do you know. The voicemail is working! Who would have thunk it? I punch in zero for the operator and someone actually answered the phone! And told me who I wanted to talk to. She even transferred me to the right extension and gave me the phone number, just in case we got disconnected. I was all, YAHOO....

And then I got voicemail. Again. The person I'm trying to reach was not there. But at least I got to leave a message this time. Which is cool. Right? RIGHT?

That was the longest three freaking hours of my life.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How crooked is the Housing Authority?

Very very crooked. And they know I know how crooked they are. Strange but true, they think they are above the law. But even for a quasi-public agency, according to our town spokesperson, they are responsible to a higher authority. A much higher authority.

So let's recap some of the things they do on a regular basis.

They consistently give preference to friends and family over people who are more deserving.

They do not move out their friends and family once the children have left the apartment, leaving housing unavailable for people on an emergency basis.

They discriminate against the disabled by refusing emergency status, even when the emergency status forms are filled out with three TIMES the number of doctor's documentation.

They refuse to speak to their clients, restricting phone calls only to Friday where the client is not allowed to ask any question other than their status on the list. Status that never changes because unless you are on the "inside" you're never going to get housing in our city.

They refuse to speak to the press, cancelling appointments if they feel that the press might not frame them in a positive light.

They have a web site that is based on out and out lies, saying that the average wait time for housing is:

STATE SPONSORED PROGRAMS

Senior/disabled one bedroom housing developments available under this program include Echo Ridge, Nonantum Village, Centenary Village, and New Hyde Apartments. To qualify for this program, you must be income eligible, over the age of 60, or disabled/handicapped. The waiting time for this program is approximately 3-5 years.

Applicants will be offered an apartment at the location where the vacancy exists at the time their name reaches the top of the waiting list. Applicants are not permitted to choose the location.

State Family Housing Units are scattered throughout the City of Newton. There are 90 family units comprised of two, three, and four bedrooms. The waiting time for this program is approximately 7-10 years. It is estimated that applicants applying for emergency priority under this program will have to wait approximately 5 years due to the limited vacancies.

The Hamilton Grove Complex is located in Newton Lower Falls. This development consists of 42 units, which include three-1 bedroom wheelchair accessible units. The Hamilton Grove has its own separate waiting list which requires a separate application. The income guidelines for this program are the same as for Section 8 income guide lines. The approximate waiting time for this program is 3-5 years.


None of those waiting times are at all truthful. The majority of people I've spoken to are told, as I was, that the waiting time is 20 years. TWENTY YEARS. Who the hell is still going to be in town in 20 years, waiting for the housing authority. Nobody I know.

They do not have, nor will they participate in a Section 8 program. If someone moves into town with a Section 8 from another community, they will not get help from the Housing Authority. Additionally, when Section 8 programs open up, if you ask the Housing Authority to participate, they will refuse and will not tell you why. But I will. Because they don't want to be bothered.

They are exceptionally rude to clients. I've had a form that I handed to a worker through their tiny glass window (you don't think that they get near the clients, do you?) thrown back in my face because I didn't have something that WAS NOT ON THE FORM. Oh, you're supposed to read the minds of the Housing Authority, too.

Additionally, I've been hung up on when I've asked questions. Hung up on. Nice!

I've had it with this "agency." They are running it like a rogue agency because their oversight isn't from the Mayor's office. In fact, the Mayor's office is looking into who exactly they report to so I can file a formal complaint. Because I'm not going to be denied housing due to the Housing Authority's dishonesty.

I finally figured out just what slime they were when I went way way overboard on my latest emergency application, after they cancelled the last one without really explaining why. I went so above and beyond the call of duty that the ONLY reason they could refuse to put me on the emergency list was rank dishonesty. And that is EXACTLY what they did.

They have an open Board meeting on the second Friday of each month. Not that they've made this public information or anything, but as the little Nancy Drew that I am, I found it out. They must have this be a public meeting. So I'll be there with bells on.

If you know someone who is affected by this town's Housing Authority, who cannot get housing, who has had difficult dealings with them, or who has given up on trying to obtain housing in our city and has moved to another town, please please let me know. I'd like to have a nice group of people at the next board meeting to 'discuss' the policies of this corrupt agency. It should be fun!

I've already figured out I'm never going to get housing from this agency. But I can, and already have, reported them to the state, and I will be reporting them to HUD as well. You can only treat people like crap for so long before someone rises up from the primordial slime and reports your lazy, corrupt asses.

(Aside) H.A. has visited my blog 5o times TODAY. I find that hilarious.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

My kitten is a bigot

I'm so mortified. It really is embarrassing. And so unlike anything I've ever seen before.

Pepper is around 10 months old now. And she's a bigot. A real live bigot.

See? She's pure evil playing with her cat dancer!

Junie, my home health care aide is Haitian, and she's black. She's lovely, and does such a good job, and she's been working for us since way before Pepper came to live with us last summer. Pepper hates her. She's not even subtile about it either. She hisses and fluffs up her tail and starts whining for me to pick her up. She sits on the dining room table and watches Junie like a hawk, and if she comes within 5 feet of me, Pepper is all fluff and fur.

If it weren't so funny. But damn, Pepper is tiny. She's barely a cat. I doubt she weighs more than 6 lbs, and she's very petite and it just looks so funny to see her all hissing and angry at poor Junie.


Junie's feelings are hurt, too. She asks me why Pepper behaves like this and I don't have any answer for her because how am I gonna explain this stupid cat's silliness? I just can't.

Worthless Pet couldn't care less. As long as there is food in his bowl, water to drink, and lots of soft places to sleep, he's happy. He hates everyone but the Girl anyhow, so it's not a big whoop for him to have someone in the house moving things around and making noise with the evil vacuum.


Actually, what Pepper hates most isn't even the vacuum, it's the broom and mop. She's completely freaked out by the broom and the mop. Go figure!

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Something is wrong. Really wrong.

Our family has been a part of our high school for almost four full years now. In that time we've had an increase in very negative behavior from the kids. I'll grant you that. The kids in attendance right now can easily be labeled as a troubled bunch. The school has averaged about one or less expulsions each year until this year. This year it's been expulsion a-go-go, with kids having expulsion hearings almost weekly. Some of the kids have done some really aggregious things, like spitting in the face of a staff member. That's an assault, and that should not be tolerated. One kid drove on school property during school hours drunk and smashed into another car. Also not a great idea. Several kids have been linked to smoking pot on school grounds. What were they thinking? But almost all the kids that have been in trouble this year have one thing in common. They are all kids with IEPs in special ed programs at the high school.

Now, I've complained plenty about how I believe that every one of these programs, save one, is a dumping ground for kids that the school just doesn't want to deal with. I know for a fact that many of the kids that are in trouble have been pushed from program to program, continually left in the public school community because financially the school system can't afford to send them to outside placements anymore. I understand the limitations of finances, but the issue is, are these kids being properly served by the school department? I don't believe so.

It's a dirty little secret that troubled kids are dumped into programs that are absolutely unsuited to care for their needs. It's a dirtier little secret that what parents are told, and what is reality are two very different views of the programs. As more and more parents are being duped into putting their kids into one program or another, the school can heave a sigh of relief that they have once again saved the city money for a residential placement. Not only are the kids not being served, they are not being helped. These are kids that are within a year or two of being on their own in the community and don't have the slightest idea of how to behave socially, never mind posessing the live skills to lead a safe life as a good citizen.

These kids need help. They are emotionally and psychologically fragile. They move from Life Skills to Compass to Springboard to Turnaround to Southside, all programs that are supposed to help kids with emotional and mental illnesses. Oh, there are plenty of programs. Plenty of them. But do they help? I don't believe most of them do. And I have a lot of reason to believe so. Not only my own kids, who have been to a few of the programs, but pretty much every one of their friends have passed through at least one of these programs.

Of the programs, the kids either facing expulsion or have been expelled are involved save one kid. Otherwise, we've got a situation here where there have been drinking, drugs, fighting, aggressive behavior, and rank acting out, misbehaviors that are screaming that these kids are not being served adequately by being shoved into a former garage with no windows across from campus. Ahem.

My experience with how these kids aren't well served is based not only upon the Girl's experience with the incompetence in the special ed department, but from knowing kid after kid, some of whom we've known since elementary school, get into trouble because they didn't seen to understand consequences, nor do they feel a part of the school community as a whole. When a kid is in one of these programs, they are shunned by much of the school population as a whole, and they tend to find friends with other fragile kids in similar situations.

These aren't bad kids. Mostly they're good kids with terrible impulse control and a diagnosed mental illness, mainly bipolar disorder. The school tends to label them early on, and most of them have no chance of getting out of this morass of worthless programs. This is why I fought so hard for the Girl last year, and refused any placement in one of these programs. I knew that if she were placed where they wanted to put her, she would have sunk to the bottom of the barrel like so many other kids do, and would probably end up dropping out. Because I refused to cooperate with the school, instead she's doing fabulously well in mainstreamed classes, is loving school, and hasn't been in a lick of trouble all year.

Kids know they're being dumped. I've spoken to so many of them, and they all understand that they are not being served. They are, in some ways, more sensitive and smarter than their parents. They don't want to be railroaded by the "experts" who are more concerned with the bottom line than actually providing an appropriate education.

So many kids in trouble. So many kids destroying their chances for college, or even high school graduation. One bad apple in the bunch I can understand. But when the bad apple is part of a fruit-fly filled bunch of rotten apples, there is something amiss. Special education at our school is not serving these kids. Creating programs that don't work, and then persisting in trying to sell these programs as a panecea for troubled kids is malicious in my opinion.

I'd like to see some changes made. But I won't. The bottom line won't allow it, our superintendent won't admit that there is a problem, and we have an outgoing principal that doesn't seem to care.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Rush Limbaugh can do no wrong

I'm sure by now you've either read the David Frum expose on Rush Limbaugh in this week's Newsweek magazine, or read critiques of the article itself. Basically it lambasts Limbaugh and the Republican party for bowing down to the "big fat idiot" (to quote Al Franken) instead of realizing that by sanctifying Rush at the party leader is in fact destroying the party at it's roots.

SHUT UP DAVID FRUM! Just kidding. The article is amazing and beautifully written and researched. As a Conservative, Frum is fed up with the right wing ideology and racist, sexist crap that constantly spews forth from Limbaugh's mouth. Crap that is drunk up by his millions of not-so-bright listeners who have claimed him as the new leader of the Republican party. Don't believe me that Republicans espouse racism? Read the words right from Limbaugh's mouth.

Rush, the man that created and popularized the word Feminazis.

The guy who said that Kennedy would be dead by the time Health Care Reform happens in this country. Mr Sensitive. Mr Caring. Mr Asshole.

What I find continually amazing is that the Republicans currently in power (and that doesn't include Mr Limbaugh, who is an entertainer, a radio "personality" and an admitted drug addict, womanizer, and all around foul human excrement) don't seem to understand that by continuing to scream about tax cuts and all their other failed policies, they are not only not making sense, but they're pushing the centrists away from their party in droves. I just want to scream at them, "You LOST the election for a reason. Think about it. Make some changes. Try to learn from your mistakes and misdeeds." But like Frum, I see the attachment to the past, the adherence to failed policies that got us into the mess this country is in, and the failure to back away from Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly, Coulter, Malkin, and the other loud-mouthed spokespersons of their cult as the deathknell of the party in it's current form. Oh well, no great loss.

The fact is, for this avowed liberal, I'm enjoying watching the minority party (and doesn't that feel good?) implode. Racism, sexism, stupidity, and an blind adherance to failed policies and caustic financial beliefs have been the hallmarks of this party for a long time. Ronald Reagan wouldn't even recognize the party he recreated.

As we all know, you can't be an asshole forever. You can't be mean-spirited forever. You can't spew hatred forever. Sooner or later, you're seen for what you are. Republican party leaders should be learning their lessons just about now. And for those that don't, good luck in the next election. Your time has passed. The country isn't interested in propping up big business at the expense of the populace. The country is tired of bad educational policies, failed health care policies, and a refusal of government to be of the people, by the people, and FOR the people.

All the people. White, black, brown, and purple. Gay and straight. Muslim, Jewish, Athiest and Christian. Fat and thin. Short and tall. Smart and dumb. Mentally ill and mentally healthy. Disabled and able-bodied. Poor, middle class and rich. ALL the people. Even the idiots that like Rush Limbaugh.

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