Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy "Dress Up" Day

Today is "dress up" day here at school, and most of the kids are certainly taking this opportunity to be someone else. They are also taking the opportunity to eat illicit candy, and generally run around like crazy maniacs. Oh well, I suppose one can hardly hold it against them. My only contribution to this day is to read ghost stories in Language Arts class. The Moonlit Road is my favorite kid-friendly site. And a very happy "dress up" day to you.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Spare Me Your Bad News

It seems that when you tell some people about some good/exciting news, they feel the need to play the devil's advocate. Now I can understand the desire to see both sides of a situation, but some people take this to the extreme. Rather than just letting you bask in the glory of your news, they figure you need a little puncturing to return you firmly to Earth. In order to achieve this charming goal, they riffle through their encyclopedic knowledge of bad stuff that happened to somebody one time, and trot out the litany of unhappy things they once heard about. I think of these as Eeyore people.

In many cases, it can be almost any type of news that causes the Eeyore reaction. You could be telling about how you just ate a particularly delicious sandwich, and one of these people would feel the need to tell you about a really terrible one they once had. By the end of five minutes, they would have moved on to that story they once heard on the news about a sandwich that was so bad it actually melted off a woman's face (or some other terrible end).

In general, the bigger the news, the bigger the Eeyore reaction. College choices, getting a new apartment or buying a house, buying a car, getting a new job, getting engaged, getting married, and having babies are all huge triggers for Eeyores. There really does not seem to be any way to shut down the Eeyore (at least none that I've discovered) but at least one can try to limit the length of their tirade.

The one good thing that's come out of my encounters with Eeyores is an improvement in my own negativity. It may seem tempting sometimes to talk launch into a story about that wedding you once went to where the bride caught on fire/exposed herself/died of the plague, but it really is better just to hold off. If nothing else, save those stories for the car ride home. Above all, don’t let those Eeyore people get you down.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Things That (Used To) Make Me Green

Tennis balls rolling around on the floor of my car

Traffic Circles


The person next to me on the bench bouncing

Quick scrolling on the computer screen

Raw tomatoes

Jiggly camera work

Rapidly boiling liquid

M's green veggie juice breath

Standing up

Old cut flower water


Strong smells

Writing this post

Friday, October 23, 2009

We're Having a Baby!

I can hardly believe I'm writing it, but M and I are finally expecting our own little one. I've been told that some people feel ambivalent when they discover that they are pregnant, but I am not that way at all. This is pretty much one of the most fantastic things that's ever happened to me. Of course you mothers out there are thinking "oh just you wait!" I'm sure it's true that we have no idea what we're really in for, but I am still excited to find out.

In the next week or so, I'll be posting a few things I wrote in the last few weeks but couldn't post because no one else new our news.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Nieces Return to the Symphony

Not long ago we took the nieces back to the symphony for a little further exposure to classical music. They always claim to be very excited to go to another concert, but I am never sure how much of that is actual enjoyment of the music, and how much is amusement at confusing their father by liking something he can't stand. Either way, when we offer them tickets to a show, they always jump at the chance.

Therefore, on a recent Saturday evening, we all met up in the foyer of Benaroya Hall. The girls were looking very fancy; the elder wearing a jacket and satin blouse, while the younger sported a beautiful black and white dress with a long puffed skirt. It never ceases to amaze me that two such pretty girls could be related to the rest of our family, but it is true.

We turned over our tickets and headed down to our new seats for the first show of the season. Unfortunately, we've lost the prime cheap seats we used to enjoy, and now we are off to one side. This would not normally be too big an issue except that the stage was set for a soloist, so virtually every space on the stage was filled. All we could see were the backs of some violinists. Nevertheless, the music was wonderful. Ravel, Rachmaninoff, and Dvorak impressed us all.

Okay, so maybe not everyone was impressed. During the surprisingly quiet Rachmaninoff piece, Younger Niece managed to nod off. She was drooling peacefully onto her own hand when a noisy bit of percussion suddenly woke her from her sleep. She jumped about a foot into the air, but managed not to make a sound. After that, she sat quietly, and seemed to enjoy the show.

It amazes me how much they've grown up in the last two years. That very first performance attended by only Elder Niece was nerve-racking since I didn't know how she might behave. Today, they are veterans, and often their behavior is quieter and more attentive than many much older symphony patrons. I wonder how long the sweet spot can last.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Essay Grading

It's that time once again when the English teachers in my school have to grade and grade and grade student essays. We sit in a conference room, giant box of student work in front of us, and read all day. The funniest line I've collected so far goes something like this:

"Amanda is my friend and hero because she has everything. She's good at things and shes nice. You could say that she has the perfect package."

Another great one would be:

"This was a great man who showed us all how to do good things. He had the courage to stand up to what he believed in."

More to come I'm sure.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cookbook from 1895

A friend of mine was sifting through those free Google books that are out of copyright, and she came across this fascinating little book. It is a cookbook from the year 1895, and it makes for a very interesting read if you like that kind of thing (which I do!). The suggestions for putting together a fancy dinner party are very cute (a tray filled with grass and flowers to look like a lawn makes a great centerpiece...). Some of the recipes seem like nice things to try, but many of them are strange or even downright horrifying. Some of the weirder ones include:
Jellied veal cube decorated with hardboiled eggs

Boiled calf's head with vinaigrette

Grilled bones

Boiled cucumbers

Stewed lettuce

Farinaceous foods

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Congress Protects Gays

Hooray! Congress has finally acted to expand the Hate Crimes Act to include crimes based on sexual orientation. Can I just say, once again (no dead horse jokes here), that this is the civil rights issue of our times?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

2009 Prices

Since I so enjoyed reading those historical shopping lists with prices, I was inspired to provide myself with a similar type of amusement in years to come. In the year 2019, it might be entertaining to look back on the prices we paid for things here in the distant past. I used that same list from 1909 and updated the prices on as many items as I could. Of course they are just estimates based on local market prices. I couldn't resist adding the gasoline price for good measure.

Food & Beverages

Apples, $2 per pound

Beef, Sirloin steak, $5-16$/lb

Butter, fancy creamery, $4/lb

Chicken, roasting. $3.00/lb

Coffee, $10/lb

Eggs, $2.50/dozen

Fish sardines, $3.00/can

Flour, 2.75/5 lb sack

Lemons, $1.00/2

Macaroni, 2.00/pkg

Mustard, Colman's, 3.98

Peanut butter, 4.50/lb

Potatoes, white or sweet, 1.29/lb

Rice, Japan, .85/lb

Salt, 2.50/pkg

Soup, Campbell's, 1.79/can

Tea, 3.50/20 bags

Also had to include

Gas 3.05/gal

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Horrible Terrible Very Bad Southern Lunchbox

Earlier this fall, I spent some time researching new and different ideas for packing that eternal lunchbox. I'm always on the hunt for things that will inspire me to eat healthy lunches instead of pre-made frozen meals. Of course this is a big topic when all the kids are heading back to class, so I was able to find many interesting ideas. A few of the good ones included hummus pita, apples and almond butter, and vegetarian pie pockets.

A few of the weirder ideas were Jell-O molds with vegetables, do-it-yourself lunchables (because they're cheaper, but still maintain that utter lack of nutritional value!) and egg salad with raisins (yuck!). It was all more or less within the expected range of ideas until I came to one fateful website. The lunchbox section of the Southern Food section of came as quite a shock.

The pictured menu at the top of the page is a ham salad role (what could be better than pork and tons of mayo?) on white bread with a side of fries. Now doesn't that sound like a lovely thing to pack in your little first grader's box? Of course the little guy will be wanting something sweet too after all that mayo, so be sure to pack one of their wonderful dessert suggestions. Pecan brownies, sour cream cookies, and chocolate sour cream cupcakes just to name a few. Gosh, I wonder why the southern states have higher obesity rates than any other part of the country?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Polanski is Yucky

If you believe the justice system, the facts in the Roman Polanski case are clear. In 1978, already a grown man, Polanski lured a thirteen year old girl to a friend's home, plied her with alcohol and drugs, and then had sex with her repeatedly and in a variety of ways. He was convicted only of statutory rape in a deal that let him off of much creepier charges. He served 43 days of his sentence, and then fled the country. In my book, these are not small crimes. This isn't like an 18 year old having sex with their 15 year old boyfriend, or a grown man being caught with a grown woman who is not his wife. This is beyond creepy and into the predatory territory.

Why, then, are all sorts of French and Polish officials and Hollywood mucky-mucks rising to his defense? If these charges are even half true, this is not a "youthful indiscretion" as one French authority tried to put it. Does the directing talent of this man somehow forgive his incredible nastiness? If so, that would be a terrible miscarriage of justice. I also don't buy the "oh sure but that was years ago" excuse. Unless some really surprising new evidence was to show up, I hope they throw the proverbial book at Polanski.