We Interrupt This Program

For Christmas travel....

Christmas Eve we drive to Joe's mom's around midday. She hosts a big bash that night. We'll stay over and open presents in the morning. After some sort of Christmas breakfast, we'll leave and drive to Cazenovia, NY. We'll get to my brother's house and have Christmas dinner and open more presents. We'll stay over there and then drive to my folks' house on the 26th.

We're currently planning to stay there until the 2nd, but that's not set in stone at this point. Depends on weather and whether we're ready to strangle one another.

Merry Christmas to all!



Stay Cool, Boys...

I just drove through rural South Jersey between the two schools at which I teach. (Man, I so want to write "which I teach at!"

Passed a field a minute or two back down the road. There were two large flocks of geese, facing toward each other, separated by about 15 yards. Every now and then one of the front-line geese would sort of shuffle its feet and shift around, but mostly they were just staring at each other.

I giggled out loud in the car when I was suddenly struck with what a very Sharks v. Jets moment it was.



Caroling Along

This past Saturday night, we caroled throughout downtown Millville. Emily, Joe and I traipsed up and down High Street, popping in and out of stores and restaurants with members of the Off Broad Street Players. A capella caroling in four parts...no mean trick. We were even costumed in more-or-less Victorian garb. (Em wasn't going for my nudges to periodically announce "God Bless Us, Everyone!" which is probably will result in fewer listen-to-how-my-mom-exploited-my-cuteness-for-public-entertainment therapy hours later in life.)

It was seasonal, frigidly cold and oh-so fun! Emily even made the local newspaper. Article here. And photo gallery here (Joe is rather prominent in picture #20, and I'm over toward the left.).

Later, we gathered in front of the hopefully-soon-to-be-restored Levoy Theatre for a big fundraising raffle drawing. Various local dignitaries were present to draw names and make announcements. The mayor scooped up Emily at one point and she drew a ticket out (as much as I wanted to win one of the fabulous prizes, I'd have been mortified if she'd drawn my name out of the barrel).
Afterward, we went to a home for Christmas goodies and general hanging out (after we picked up Matthew). It was altogether festive and a great time.


Links Galore

This is how to keep an idiot busy (for at least a couple of minutes).

And, if you ever thought anything vaguely NC-17 was behind the scenes of the Fellowship of the Ring, this would be your "proof."

I doubt anyone would ever permanently get tired of this. I think I could poke at it all night. But, then I'm simple.

OK, some of these are in pretty poor taste, but that doesn't mean they're not also funny. You know, in that way you don't really want to admit to.

And this "infomercial???" is creepy and disturbing (maybe saying that is redundant). I mean, don't you think that things that shrivel away in anthropomorphic terror are really saying, "Tickle Me?" And the kids singing in the background? Don't they also do that in horror-movie soundtracks?

Finally, I really kind of like these ideas for alternative applications of Christmas lights. Not everyone has room for a Christmas tree. I would totally have done these in my dorm, had I thought of it.



Fleeting Moment

Last night the kids and I were snuggled on the couch. The lights were off except for the Christmas lights scattered about the room. We were watching Cat Cora take on Michael Symon on a special Iron Chef America holiday challenge. (Symon won, fyi) Emily was snugged up to my left under my arm and Matthew was leaning in on my right arm and shoulder. A big foofy comforter draped over our laps.

I leaned over and kissed them both on the tops of their heads and it struck me that this was one of those moments. The ones I'll long for all too soon. Matthew still has big hunks of cuddle-bug in him, but Em's snuggly moments are becoming rarer (except when she's actually cold).

Ever since they were about 4 & 6, they've just been in one fantastic age after another. I'm really enjoying this hunk of their childhood. Enough skills, knowledge and (frankly) potty training to allow us to do quite a lot, while they've yet to achieve the teen (or even tween) disdain, attitude, etc.

I could happily keep them at about this age forever. What's your favorite childhood age?



Busy and Wonderful

The weekend (starting last Wednesday) was full of all sorts of wonderful. Of note:
  • Nate saying, "Mommy" for the first time (and second, third, hundredth...)
  • Decorated the house inside and out (pics to come eventually when it's not raining at night)
  • Ate lots of turkey in various forms. Entirely satisfied with the moisture and flavor brining adds to the process.
  • Fantastic (when is it not?) pecan pie. Thanks, Kristin!
  • Played some new and old games (Monty Python Fluxx, Ticket to Ride, Killer Bunnies, Encore, Apples to Apples Jr., more Killer Bunnies, Settlers of Catan). I just adore playing games. All types.
  • Millville Holiday parade (the kids were in it for the first time, and it was neat waiting for them to come along and then even neater seeing their faces light up when they saw us)
Being back at work today is definitely a downer. NOT happy to be here. I want more family, more holiday, more pie, more games!




Last night I was advising the kids not leave any toys lying around this weekend. I want them to be aware that their little cousin, Nate, can and will pick things up and chew/choke on them. So my advice was, "Anything smaller than your fist has to be up out of reach."*

So, both kids obligingly made fists.

Em's wasn't bad, actually. Nice tight (little) fist. She could do some (little) damage with that. Matthew's ... well? Not so hot.

So, Joe spent some time right there at the dinner table teaching Matthew how to make a good solid fist. Flat across the knuckles. Thumb across the front. How to pull your arm back and apply. What part of the fist should hit and how to avoid breaking your fingers. **

Part of me wanted to stop him. "No, he shouldn't know how to fight. He should never punch someone. Never, ever. Stop. Stop!"

But, I didn't say anything. I watched a father teach his son a likely valuable skill. Something he'll undoubtedly need to apply at some point. Defending himself, defending his sister. Defending his girlfriend, wife, daughter. And, despite my inner horror picturing spilled blood and loosened teeth, I was proud of them both. It was one of those father-son-passing-on-skills moments. It was actually kind of a warm and fuzzy feeling, mostly.

Let's just hope he doesn't have to use those skills any time soon. Particularly not on his big (little) sister.


* After looking at both proferred hands, I amended my instructions to "anything smaller than Emily's fist." My son is a moose.
** Joe would know, too. He broke several bones in his hand punching a blackboard in grade school (better than punching the nun, I guess, which was his first instinct ... long story).


Third in My Freak Series

OK, so Alton Brown is a freak. Granted, if I could afford to, I'd obey everything he ever says and buy all his recommended kitchen gadgets, ingredients, etc. His methods and demeanor fascinate me.

He also advocates only owning kitchen items that you 1. use frequently, and 2. serve multiple purposes.

Except for this. I present for your consderation: The Turkey Derrick.

While I shall be brining my turkey (for the first time ever), I will not be deep frying. Maybe next time.



Nearly Done

aka ... Honestly, I'm not a Freak, Part II

Almost done with my Christmas shopping, which feels awesome. I have to buy for my brand-new baby nephew, (mostly because nobody knew if it was a neice or a nephew until last week). I have to buy for Joe's mom and Pete (mostly because nobody ever knows what to get for them, but I finally got an idea when I was at their new house over the weekend), and I have to buy stocking stuffers for the family (mostly because I like to wait until relatively late to do those, to accomodate those little last-minute-fighting-the-crowd-is-fun-when-it's-not-for-any-real-presents urges I get). I also have two Secret Santa gifts to buy for work (mostly because I never, ever in a million years have any ideas for that sort of thing. Honestly, everyone else's creativity and inspiration impress me to no end when it comes to that sort of thing. I just wind up feeling like a doofus).

Joe and I ordered my present the other day. I should be getting it today. Yippee! Not telling, for now. I'm sure I'll be blogging about it in some sort of detail at some point. Joe's present is in the works. He's going to LOVE it. And, he does actually every now and then wander through here, so that's it for the details for now.
Ought to get knitting on some things and give those as gifts. Lately, I've only wanted to try to make and felt some wool slippers for myself. Just frogged a nearly done slipper last night when I didn't like how it was going. Probably casting on with a new pattern tonight. We'll see...


I am Not Either So a Freak!

Just because I've spent about an hour working on a document that includes the following table ... that doesn't make me a freak. Honest. I am not Monica Geller Bing. It's just that I enjoy planning ahead. And ... well, if I don't write things down in detail the Mad Cow kicks in and I forget everything I ever intended.


Thursday Night

Turkey to fridge


Shred and dry bread

Defrost sweet potatoes

Make rolls

Wednesday morning

Begin brining turkey

9:00 a.m.

Stuffing prep

9:30 a.m.

Stuffing in crock pot

10:15 a.m.

Turn crock pot temperature down to low

11:00 p.m.

Turkey prep

By 11:30 p.m.

Turkey in oven

Set table

2:00 p.m.

Prep sweet potatoes

By 2:15 p.m.

Sweet potatoes into oven

2:15 p.m.

Prep and cook green beans

By 2:00 p.m.

Potatoes on stove

2:30 p.m.

Mash and finish potatoes

2:50 p.m.

Microwave beets

3:00 p.m.

Make gravy

3:00 p.m.

Beverages out, kettle on (?)


Today's To-Dos

So, there's a lot of stuff to do before this weekend. My current To-Do list looks like this:

* Type up and e-mail in my meeting minutes for the NJEA Congressional Contact Committee
* Arrange for a babysitter for Wednesday's county-wide union meeting
* Print and email the invitations to our annual Christmas Cookie Exchange party
* Create, type up and print lesson plans through December
* Browse around and check out the Create-a-Graph website and figure out if I can use it with my students
* Pull out my old (like, five or six years ago) Thanksgiving plan and timetable and revise it for this year
* Come up with my Thanksgiving grocery shopping list
* Start addressing Christmas card envelopes
* Practice the trumpet at least twice (I'm playing in my school's Christmas concert with the advanced band)

Plus, both vehicles need their oil changed, Matthew may or may not be done with football for the year (I'm waiting for a call back from the coach about whether they won their playoff game last Saturday while we were at Mom Dugan's wedding), and we have laundry and unpacking to do from the weekend. And, I'm working backstage for the Off-Broad Street Players' Thursday-Sunday's performances of "Hello, Dolly!"

Then there's the regular round of Cub Scouts, piano practice, Girl Scouts, Joe's classes.

Add to that the enormous box of hand-me-down Legos that Matthew received over the weekend ... the box whose contents are now strewn willy-nilly all over his room. Let's just say there's some bedrooms clean in all of our futures. They seem to be the rooms of the house I find hardest to keep clean and tidy.

There may be a mental health day in my future this week, depending on how the start of the week unfolds...


ps. In other news, my teammates have finished raising money to meet their 2008 Breast Cancer 3-Day goals. Wooo! Thanks to all for their support. Now we'll have to see about 2009....*sigh*.



Welcome to Colin Patrick Dugan (Irish much?)!!! On Wednesday Joe's brother John and his wife (John's, not Joe's...my apologies for the ambiguous pronoun) had a baby boy. Big sister Kaitlyn is now about 2-1/2. So now Joe and I have two nieces and two nephews. Yay!

And ... tomorrow, Joe's mom will marry Peter Frasca. Mom's been widowed for years and years and it's wonderful to see her happy and in love again! Joe and John will walk her down the aisle. Joe's sisters are doing the scripture readings and the kids and I are Presenting the Gifts for the mass. I just love weddings!



I'm a Lobbyist!

Last night I attended my first Congressional Contact Committee meeting for the NJEA. I'm the representative for Cumberland County. This means I'll be getting in touch with our Representative -- NJ Congressional District 2-LoBiondo (R) -- and our Senators -- Frank Lautenberg (D) and Robert Menendez (D), regarding education issues.

Yep, I'm a lobbyist! Woo!

So, eventually, once I have half a clue ... I'll be making lobbying trips to DC and hosting receptions and events for the Congressmen. Well, way eventually. There are some seriously senior members in my district, so I'll watch and learn for quite some time, yet.

I need to do more reading on No Child Left Behind (always acronymed "NCLB" in ed circles), Charter Schools, etc. I need to become more informed on the appropriate issues.

In the meantime, I've written a lovely letter of introduction to the Honorable Frank LoBiondo's office. Maybe he'll send me tickets to the inauguration.

If not, apparently tickets to the Congressional Swearing In are generally abundant.

How do people get time off of teaching for these sorts of things, anyway??? Guess I'll have to start figuring that out.



Pro-Choice is *Not* Pro-Abortion

Mount soapbox

I'm been toying with blogging this for a few days now. Since it's been rattling around in my head and nagging at me rather persistently, I think I'd better get it out and see if it leaves me alone after that.

My mom teaches an adult Sunday School class/Bible Study at a somewhat conservative, evangelically leaning Methodist church in northwestern Pennsylvania. She and Dad have a number of friends there and seem to fit in pretty well, despite their own left-leaning politics and socially liberal worldview. Every now and then someone says something to Mom that gives her pause. She has to decide whether to let it slide in the interest of world peace or whether to get into it a bit in the name of defending everyone who has a different viewpoint from the majority of the congregation.

This past Sunday was just such an occasion.

Most likely referring to this article1, one of her students stated that abortion is the cause for the likely failing of Social Security and that if abortion had never been legalized, we would not be looking at the looming Social Security crisis.

As my friend Jake would say .... "Rrr-r-eally?"

Mom told me this on the phone and I immediately got online and began Googling like a mad-woman. We were positive there was a heinous flaw in this "logic," but it took us a few minutes to figure it out factually.

Depending on which source you use, there have been somewhere between 35 million and 45 million abortions since Roe v. Wade legalized it in the United States in 1973. Inaccuracies exist due to the various reporting methods.2 Still, a number in the range of 40 million seems fair.

Abortions per year peaked around 1990 at around 1.6 million (AGI) and have declined steadily ever since. We're now near 1.3 million (AGI), a number close to the 1977 figure.

So ... say 40 million pregnancies have been electively terminated since Roe v. Wade. I know there's currently an infant mortality rate of about 6.87 deaths per 1,000 live births3. I don't have mortality rates for later in childhood, early adulthood, etc., but it's safe to say that even unaborted, not nearly all of the 40 million would survive until the current day.

Which brings me to my next point. Roe v. Wade wasn't all that long ago, population wise. The very earliest of those legally aborted in 1973 would only now be 35 years old. Millions of others would decrease in age down from that point. So only the 18-35 years olds in that group would even be contributing to the Social Security pot at all4. The Social Security withholding rate is approximately 7.65% of your first $102,200 in earnings5. The calculations in the footnotes come up with a figure of around 15.2 million wage earners aged 18-35.

I think it's safe to say that generally speaking the 18-35 year olds are not earning at the peak of their lifetime salary potential. So, they're probably largely under the $102,200 threshold. In fact the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that workers aged 16-24 earn an average of $425 per week6 and the 25-34 year olds earn $656 weekly. Which of course comes to only $21,528-$34,112 annually. Well, below our 7.65% threshold.

So, these individuals would be contributing roughly $1,646.90-$2,609.57 each into the Social Security pot each year.

If we use our still rather generous and unrealistic number of 15.2 million wage earners missing from the system, we have a range of $25.0 billion and $39.7 billion annually. This report from 2003, says the Social Security shortfall was then in the $26.4 trillion range, increasing at that time $1.46 trillion per year, which would put us already at least $33.7 trillion short over the next 75 years.

So ... not aborting those 23 million wage earners could not possibly have made enough of a positive impact on the Social Security system7. And ... over the next 75 years, all of those 23 million would then later be drawing upon Social Security, sapping the system further. But ...

... and here it is.

Legalizing abortion may have had nothing to do with any of this, one way or another.

According to the National Abortion Rights Action League (granted a biased source, I'm working on securing others), roughly 1.2 million abortions were performed annually through the 1950s and 1960s. The AGI says the number could range from 200,000 to 1.2 million annually through that same time period. The 1.2 million number is usually reserved for the just-before-Roe v. Wade data ... so, say the very early 1970s.

And, according to the Population Reference Bureau, the number of childbearing women worldwide has doubled between 1950 and 1990. The U.S. is behind the worldwide growth curve for that demographic8. By about half ... according to numerous estimates.

The childbearing population of the U.S. has grown by roughly 30% since just before the legalization of abortion. And yet, by many estimates, the number of abortions has grown by only 10% during the same time period.

Women are not having significantly more abortions just because it's legal.

So, why worry about keeping it legal or not??? Well, to save the lives of the mothers, of course. If even one woman is saved by having access to safe, sterile medical facilities, it's worth it. After all, statistically, more babies are not dying with legal abortion than with illegal abortion. So if that whole issue is a wash (as gruesome and unsavory and horrible to think about as it is...), it's really just the lives of the mothers at stake.

I'm very much not pro-abortion. Very. Much. Not. I'm sad that any woman should feel that it was the only option remaining to her. I think the major fallacies in arguments made by Pro-Life groups is that 1. Pro-choice=pro-abortion (I don't know anyone who sits around gleefully rubbing their hands together at the prospect of any abortion.), 2. Keeping abortion legal equals increased numbers of abortions, 3. It's an ungodly practice that equates to murder and should be banned on those grounds.

Well ... #1 just isn't true. #2 seems statistically untrue or at least unlikely. #3 should remain a personal choice between a woman and her God.


Make what you will of my research and so forth, but please refrain from any personal attacks. Thankyouverymuch.


1 Or referring to any number of conservative pundits, media personalities, etc referring to this item ... just Google abortion social security and see the stuff that shows up. This has been around for years now, though this is the first I've heard of it.

2 The CDC regularly reports lower numbers than the Alan Guttmacher Institute (one of the leading independent research centers for women's health issues). Reporting laws vary from state to state and it's suspected that some health care professionals under-report to protect themselves.

3 Article here.

4 Straight out adding up the AGI and CDC numbers for the years 1973-1990 gives us a range of 21,424,281 and 25,426,000. So, roughly 23 million abortions that could possibly have resulted in current-day wage earners ... again not subtracting out for natural miscarriages, infant mortality, and other causes of death up to the current day. Additionally, many of those who survive to their majority would not even be earning and therefore contributing to Social Security at all. According to this chart, it seems to me that roughly 1/3 of those in the designated 18-35 age group are not in the work force.

5 Link here, and is it just me or is $102,200 a weird cut-off number?

6 Link here, and scroll down a bit to Table 2.

7 I'm not going to try to figure out the drain on the other governmental programs per born child in terms of education, welfare, WIC programs, housing, incarceration, etc. Not to mention wages lost to mothers bearing the additional 23 million.

8 Averages by country, according to the CIA, here.


Feels So Good

I know that a Democratic majority isn't the answer to all life's problems. I know that President-Elect Obama has inherited a boatload of problems that he may or may not have the power and wisdom to remotely solve. I know that.

And yet, I can't stop smiling today.

Does anyone know how to score tickets to the inauguration?



Some Things Make Me Smile

This makes me smile. I'm so jealous that this guy essentially gets paid to travel the world and dance (albeit badly).



Happy Birthday to Yous!

Happy birthday yesterday to my brother, Chris! 35 ... woo!

And ...

Happy birthday tomorrow to Joe's brother, John! 35 ... woo!

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you ... You look like a (well, you know!)
Love you both ... like brothers. :)



Second Verse, Same as the First!

Actually ... even better than the first. This event had more walkers (3,100 starters vs. 2,300) and consequently raised more money ($8.1 million vs. $6.3 million) than last year's. The weather was way more suitable to walking (highs in the upper 50s/low 60s vs. the mid-80s). And I just knew more of what to expect (aka ... I packed better and paced myself more).

Walked all 60 miles again this year. Had one very minor blister I had to deal with starting on Day Two. The medi-tent folks said it was kind of unpreventable and that I'd obviously done some training and self-treated it as best I could. Day One was upbeat and felt pretty good. Night One was cold and bitter and resulted in an even colder morning. Day Two was slow and plodding and both traffic lights and lots of stepping on and off curbs wore us down, caused some pain and crushed our spirits. Lots and lots of layers resulted in a better Night Two which resulted in a fairly good (but even colder) third morning. Day Three felt good ... surprisingly good. No real pain or discomfort at all ... and a moving-as-always closing ceremony.

I haven't yet decided what my 3-Day situation for next year will be. Fundraising is difficult in a tough economy, but I'd like to give it a try. I kind of want to crew for one of the walks in the summer, before school starts. And then if my fundraising goes well enough, I'll also register for a walk. If fundraising goes poorly ... I don't know. My brain is too mushy right now.

I've posted a bunch of pictures with captions in a web album, but here are some highlights.

Dana Fantini and I on Day One...still very happy.

Being greeted by schoolchildren along the route is always a highlight.

Our row in the City of Tents (we had Lot I-86)

The Sneaker Salute for the breast cancer survivors as they walk in is a Breast Cancer 3-Day tradition.



One More Time, with Feeling!

This Friday morning I'll begin my second 60-mile journey to help raise awareness of breast cancer. I'll be warming up (with a few thousand of my dearest friends ... and a few of my actual friends ... Go "Blister Sisters!") at about 6:30 a.m. in front of the Willow Grove, PA Mall. We'll hoof it about 22 miles that first day before making camp. Two more days of walking will bring us to Closing Ceremonies at Villanova University, Sunday late afternoon.

Send good weather prayers and no blisters/pain prayers my way all weekend. I'll definitely need them! (bouquets of flowers, gift certificates for massages and ... a pitcher of maragaritas wouldn't go amiss by Sunday and Monday, either)

Thanks in advance!

ps. Not sure if I'm going to do this again next year. Fundraising in this economy is a difficult thing, and I don't feel I can afford to dedicate my entire summer to training year after year. So, this may be my last 3-Day (for awhile).


Feeling Snarky

I know this is politically incorrect and not fact-checky and not my usual cup of tea. But it's late, I got little sleep and I'm feeling like sniping at the conservatives* tonight.

Pulled these from here.

--If you grow up in Hawaii you're 'exotic.'
--Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, you're the quintessential 'American story.'

--Similarly, if you name your kid Barack you're 'unpatriotic.'
--Name your kids Trig and Track, you're 'colorful.'

--If you spend 3 years as a community organizer growing your organization from a staff of 1 to 13 and your budget from $70,000 to $400,000, then become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new African American voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, then spend nearly 8 more years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, becoming chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, then spend nearly 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of nearly 13 million people, sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you are woefully inexperienced.

--If you spend 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, then spend 20 months as the governor of a state with 650,000 people, you've got the most executive experience of anyone on either ticket, are the Commander in Chief of the Alaska military and are well qualified to lead the nation should you be called upon to do so because your state is the closest state to Russia.

--If you go to a south side Chicago church, your beliefs are 'extremist'.
--If you believe in creationism and don't believe global warming is man-made, you are 'strongly principled'.

--If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.
--If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years with whom you are raising two beautiful daughters you're 'risky'.

--If you're a 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton, the right-wing press calls you 'First dog.'
--If you're a 17-year old pregnant unwed daughter of a Republican, the right-wing press calls you 'beautiful' and 'courageous.'

--If you teach abstinence only in sex education, you get teen parents.
--If you teach responsible age-appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.


*If you're a conservative reading this, considered yourself warned. And please know that if you're a friend of mine that I understand you have your own viewpoint; I respect you for it. Furthermore, I'm sure you could cite just as many examples in reverse. Feel free to do so on your own blogs.


Like Riding a Bike

When I was a kid, I helped out with my local PBS station's annual fundraising auction. I started out running bids, then working the phones. Eventually I was actually on camera, selling the items (think QVC, only 8 items at a time sold auction style in 5-10 minutes).

I was hooked! Right then and there I changed my plans from majoring in English and going to law school to ... journalism, communications; being on, in, and around TV!

I majored in Communication Arts: Mass Media at Allegheny and even did a year of my Master's in Film & TV at Temple. But that's it. That's as close as I came. And through several jobs and careers later, I'm thrilled and in love with my career path in teaching.

But, Saturday it all came crashing back. I worked on a live charity auction, broadcast on local cable. The theatre company I'm in is helping to raise money and awareness to restore our local old-run-down theatre, the Levoy.

An out-of-town friend in the media biz wanted to see my clips, so I edited the four-hour broadcast into just the bits I was involved in (still an hour and a half). You can go here to download a pretty small wmv file. Fileflyer says there's a limited number of downloads, but I don't know just how limited that is.

The Station GM gave me his card and took down my info. Says he's going to call me do to interviews and voice work. He even emailed me right after the broadcast, too. Nice guy. We'll see.... could be a nice sideline.

So, there you go. The TV bug has re-bitten me. Hopefully it can be assuaged with theatre for awhile. :)



Ahhh....This Explains a Lot!

And this, here, would be why my friend Mark and I can't get agree on anything political. Love you anyway though, Mark!

You are a

Social Liberal
(61% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(18% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also : The OkCupid Dating Persona Test



Reconnecting Rocks!

...or rawks, if you're, you know ... 14. ;)

Loving being back in touch with high school and college friends (and family members!) on Facebook. It's so easy to Twitter a quickie update or send a message or just peruse their latest news feed.

Of course I'm now spending an inordinate amount of time Tweeting, sending messages and perusing news feeds, but ... that's a whole 'nother post.



Rest in Peace, Mr. Newman

Love The Sting. SO much. But, love the way Newman looks in the picture. Godspeed, Mr. Newman. 1925-2008.



Post of Many Things

Haven't Stumbled around the Net lately, but had a chance to tonight. Some of the more interesting findings:

The anti-theft lunchbag is an interesting concept. Is sandwich theft in company breakroom refrigerators really this rampant?

I'm always a wealth of unnecessary knowledge ... ask any of my friends or family. So, I think this site is worth a bookmark. I'm not sure of it's actual value, as "facts" can be uploaded by anyone on the Net pending "aprove"-al (sic) by the site admin.

All writers occasionally are blocked. Maybe you can't call your actual 911 line, but 911 Writers (sic) Block might be able to help you out.

I'm actually a big supporter of singing karaoke after a couple of cosmos at Bennigan's on a Thursday night, or anywhere and anywhen the blood-alcohol content and peer pressure, etc are appropriate to overcome whatever stagefright you possess. But, I find the idea of singing karaoke to your computer at home alone in your office/family room/bedroom/dorm a bit sad. Of course, without just such videos, YouTube's library would be significantly depleted.

Whatever happened to reddish bricks with a big ol' oak mantel, maybe a wrought iron rack of tools alongside?

I'm not entirely sure all of these are as "irresistable" as the title claims, but some of these are surely gadgets that prove that 1) there's a market for just about anything and 2) folks in Taiwan or China or wherever this stuff is manufactured spend a good part of each day thinking, "What the hell is this? Really? I mean ... really?"

Enough for now. Time to tell the kiddos reading time is up. Time for lights-out.



I Just Love My Dog

We got her for the whole family, but she's really mine. When we're both in the house, she's at my feet or as close as she can be. She lies there waiting until I get up and then follows me into the next room.

She's the best dog I've ever known. Smart, friendly, gentle, playful, quirky, fluffy and soft as all get out.

While I'm lying on the sofa, barely awake, she's been lying on the floor next to me, occasionally sitting up to rest her nose near me and whine a bit. She knows I'm sick and just doesn't know what to do. Periodically, she runs upstairs and barks at Joe before running back down to whine at me.

When I shush her, she lies down near me again to wait.



OK, Just Can't Get Over How Much This Woman Bugs Me

I don't want to keep thinking about Sarah Palin. I really don't. I want something horribly scandalous to come out of the woodwork, and have her removed from the ticket and have her go back to the relative obscurity she'd enjoyed up until her nomination. In the meantime, I'll soothe myself with these items.

and ...

Palin: wrong woman, wrong message
Sarah Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Hillary Clinton. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.
By Gloria Steinem, September 4, 2008

Here's the good news: Women have become so politically powerful that even the anti-feminist right wing -- the folks with a headlock on the Republican Party -- are trying to appease the gender gap with a first-ever female vice president. We owe this to women -- and to many men too -- who have picketed, gone on hunger strikes or confronted violence at the polls so women can vote. We owe it to Shirley Chisholm, who first took the "white-male-only" sign off the White House, and to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who hung in there through ridicule and misogyny to win 18 million votes.

But here is even better news: It won't work. This isn't the first time a boss has picked an unqualified woman just because she agrees with him and opposes everything most other women want and need. Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It's about making life more fair for women everywhere. It's not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It's about baking a new pie.

Selecting Sarah Palin, who was touted all summer by Rush Limbaugh, is no way to attract most women, including die-hard Clinton supporters. Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Clinton. Her down-home, divisive and deceptive speech did nothing to cosmeticize a Republican convention that has more than twice as many male delegates as female, a presidential candidate who is owned and operated by the right wing and a platform that opposes pretty much everything Clinton's candidacy stood for -- and that Barack Obama's still does. To vote in protest for McCain/Palin would be like saying, "Somebody stole my shoes, so I'll amputate my legs."

This is not to beat up on Palin. I defend her right to be wrong, even on issues that matter most to me. I regret that people say she can't do the job because she has children in need of care, especially if they wouldn't say the same about a father. I get no pleasure from imagining her in the spotlight on national and foreign policy issues about which she has zero background, with one month to learn to compete with Sen. Joe Biden's 37 years' experience.

Palin has been honest about what she doesn't know. When asked last month about the vice presidency, she said, "I still can't answer that question until someone answers for me: What is it exactly that the VP does every day?" When asked about Iraq, she said, "I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq."

She was elected governor largely because the incumbent was unpopular, and she's won over Alaskans mostly by using unprecedented oil wealth to give a $1,200 rebate to every resident. Now she is being praised by McCain's campaign as a tax cutter, despite the fact that Alaska has no state income or sales tax. Perhaps McCain has opposed affirmative action for so long that he doesn't know it's about inviting more people to meet standards, not lowering them. Or perhaps McCain is following the Bush administration habit, as in the Justice Department, of putting a job candidate's views on "God, guns and gays" ahead of competence. The difference is that McCain is filling a job one 72-year-old heartbeat away from the presidency.

So let's be clear: The culprit is John McCain. He may have chosen Palin out of change-envy, or a belief that women can't tell the difference between form and content, but the main motive was to please right-wing ideologues; the same ones who nixed anyone who is now or ever has been a supporter of reproductive freedom. If that were not the case, McCain could have chosen a woman who knows what a vice president does and who has thought about Iraq; someone like Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison or Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. McCain could have taken a baby step away from right-wing patriarchs who determine his actions, right down to opposing the Violence Against Women Act.

Palin's value to those patriarchs is clear: She opposes just about every issue that women support by a majority or plurality. She believes that creationism should be taught in public schools but disbelieves global warming; she opposes gun control but supports government control of women's wombs; she opposes stem cell research but approves "abstinence-only" programs, which increase unwanted births, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions; she tried to use taxpayers' millions for a state program to shoot wolves from the air but didn't spend enough money to fix a state school system with the lowest high-school graduation rate in the nation; she runs with a candidate who opposes the Fair Pay Act but supports $500 million in subsidies for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska; she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, though even McCain has opted for the lesser evil of offshore drilling. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.

I don't doubt her sincerity. As a lifetime member of the National Rifle Assn., she doesn't just support killing animals from helicopters, she does it herself. She doesn't just talk about increasing the use of fossil fuels but puts a coal-burning power plant in her own small town. She doesn't just echo McCain's pledge to criminalize abortion by overturning Roe vs. Wade, she says that if one of her daughters were impregnated by rape or incest, she should bear the child. She not only opposes reproductive freedom as a human right but implies that it dictates abortion, without saying that it also protects the right to have a child.

So far, the major new McCain supporter that Palin has attracted is James Dobson of Focus on the Family. Of course, for Dobson, "women are merely waiting for their husbands to assume leadership," so he may be voting for Palin's husband.

Being a hope-a-holic, however, I can see two long-term bipartisan gains from this contest.

Republicans may learn they can't appeal to right-wing patriarchs and most women at the same time. A loss in November could cause the centrist majority of Republicans to take back their party, which was the first to support the Equal Rights Amendment and should be the last to want to invite government into the wombs of women.

And American women, who suffer more because of having two full-time jobs than from any other single injustice, finally have support on a national stage from male leaders who know that women can't be equal outside the home until men are equal in it. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are campaigning on their belief that men should be, can be and want to be at home for their children.

This could be huge.

Gloria Steinem is an author, feminist organizer and co-founder of the Women's Media Center. She supported Hillary Clinton and is now supporting Barack Obama.



Do as I Say, Not as I Do

Teaching my kids about money at ages 7 and 9 has been and continues to be a tricky process. I want them to have money, to learn how to use it, more importantly to learn how to save it. But, teaching about money is really a whole host of other lessons all rolled in, as well.
There's teaching them the idea of delayed gratification ... don't spend a little now, when you can save it and maybe get something better later.

There's the actual math involved ... no, three $1 bills isn't more than one $5 bill.

There's concepts of value ... your $10 birthday gift from Aunt Suzy isn't enough to buy a Wii.

There's ethical considerations ... it's not okay to take money from your brother's bank just because yours is empty.

But, the hardest concept of all, both for them and for me ... be smarter about money than I am. Save for the future even when I don't. Tithe. Wait and see if you really, really, REALLY want something before buying it.

I'm not very good at that. I go into Goodwill looking for a pair of khakis and leave with three turtlenecks, a corduroy jacket (seriously ... I must have four corduroy jackets), and a new purse. And no khakis. I see, I like, I buy. Sorry, I don't have enough Latin to translate that beyond the vidi part.

And the kids aren't very good at it either, so it's definitely something we have to work on. This summer for whatever reason (we've lived here for eight years and this has never happened before), an area Blue Bunny ice cream man discovered our small development. At least three or four times a week, he'd cruise through and park right in front of our house, The Entertainer wafting its tinkly, crinkly way into our home. And at least two or three times a week, my kids would meet him there, waving dollar bills over their heads. Until mid-August.

They'd run out of spending money. The gravy train had run dry. They were devastated. "Please, Mommy! Please give me a dollar!" they'd cry. Um, no. That's not how it works, kids. I was proud of myself for standing firm that first day. The second day they whimpered a bit, but didn't actually ask for money. The third day we heard the music running by, they didn't even look up. The fourth day, Blue Bunny man didn't even stop.

We have a simple money system in our house. The kids get no regular allowance. They do chores and participate in household activities because they are part of the household, not to get a paycheck. We sometimes have extra special jobs we'll pay out for (like the icky, but all-too-important "We'll pay you a dime for every gypsy moth egg sac you scrape off a tree." expedition). But mostly, as I tell them ... we share what we have in the house. When I have cash in my purse (which is seldom in this world of plastic, plastic, plastic), I give them each a few bucks. When they truly need money for something important or special, I give it honest consideration and share some of what we have with them.

They take the cash and divide it among their three canisters: Spend (can use any time, anywhere, mom and dad's opinions pretty much notwithstanding), Save (must be spent in $10 or greater increments), and Share (for church or other chritable contributions). Birthday money, coins they find on the ground, etc go into the same containers.

It's not a perfect system, and at some point Joe and I are going to have to discuss what we're going to continue to pay for and what the kids will be responsible for. We're not at the designer sneakers, cell phones and dating years yet. So there's still time.

Special thanks to The Parent Bloggers Network and Capital One's Financial Education Program for inspiring this post. I needed to give this some thought, anyway.



Not Too Bad

We got some wind, some heavy rain, but nothing really noteworthy. Hanna is well past us now, so I guess that was it.


CSA Startup

We've signed up with a CSA for next year. It's something I've wanted to do for awhile, and a subscription has finally opened up just half an hour away. The folks are super-nice, too. (maybe that goes without saying? I have no experience with CSA stuff before now)

Anyway, they're letting us pick up for the remainder of this season, even though we really paid for a 2009 subscription. So we went there this morning with our reusable grocery bag and filled it with lots of wonderful goodies...

...a big bunch of kale, a big bunch of collard greens (we were entitled to 2 bunches each, but I didn't think we'd eat them all), 12 ears of corn, a red bell pepper, 3 beets, a huge bunch of fresh basil (roots still on, so it's in a vase keeping fresh for now), and a watermelon. If we'd remembered to bring an empty jar, she'd have given us honey, as well.

So, Joe is currently making Bean Soup with Kale for dinner. I'm hoping to talk him into some fresh pesto to slather some Italian bread I bought, as well. But frankly, I feel terrible and can barely taste anything, so it'd probably be completely wasted on me.

Anyway, will let you know how our recipes turn out. We're going to be using veggies I'd likely never have purchased in a store, and eating more veggies that we usually do. I'm way excited about both prospects!



Palin in a Bikini

Palin in a bikini Whoo-hooo! Check it out!

There, now that should garner me about a jillion hits on Google searches. Seriously, this is apparently a big issue out there right now. I mean, I'm not entirely sure why McCain picked her for VP, but it's not an entirely bizarre selection.

Still, if you're looking for reasons to vote in any particular way, I suggest perusing sites like this, rather than trying to figure out whether or not a woman is qualified to help lead the nation based on how she looks in a two-piece. This is just as bad as folks analyzing Hillary Clinton's political prowess based on her hairstyles.


Ps. Now the fact that she's currently under investigation for the alleged abuse of power in firing her Public Safety Commissioner, and the fact that her 17-year old daughter is five-months pregnant ... those could be considerations in her credibility, reliability and leadership. That is, if you weren't already turned off by her gun-totin', gay rights-denyin', intelligent design-promotin', oil from nature reserves drillin', polar bear hatin' attitudes.


Family Tradition

And, I know this isn't just our family.

Last weekend we made a two-day trip to Niagara Falls from McKean, PA. Along the way up and back we spotted the following license plates:

PA, NY, OH, IN, IL, MI, TN, NJ, GA, FL, TX, KY, NC, MI, MA, NV, VA, CT, NH, WI, SC, MD, ME and ... Ontario, New Brunswick, Quebec, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia.



Life Soundtrack?

Interesting meme idea...maybe I'm slow for not having seen this one before. :)

Set your mp3 player on shuffle and type the title of the song for each category. Push for the next song for the next category, etc.

Opening Credits: Prologue, Little Shop of Horrors
Waking Up: Sandy, Grease
Theme song: Love Hurts, Nazareth
Falling in Love: What I Did for Love, John Barrowman
Fight scene: Anthem, Chess
Breaking up: Hot Blooded, Foreigner
Getting back together: Overture, Oklahoma
Secret Love: Name of the Game, Mamma Mia!
Life's okay: Shades of Grey, Billy Joel
Mental breakdown: It's Possible, Seussical
Driving: I'll Wait, Van Halen
Flashback: Good Morning, Starshine, Hair
Partying: Be Like the Bluebird, Anything Goes
Happy dance: Runyonland, Guys & Dolls
Regretting: Another Pyramid, Aida
Long night alone: Overture, West Side Story
Death scene: I Happen to Like New York, John Barrowman
Ending credits: If I Were a Rich Man, Fiddler on the Roof



More Pictures

I've uploaded more pictures from the show, backstage, etc on Facebook. Here's the album.

Also, special thanks to Kelsey's mom for taking pics during final dress rehearsal so I could have the good ones of the actual show.



New Photos! (and videos)

I posted some new pictures in my Facebook albums, from the Wizard of Oz, and other stuff this summer. I'll be taking more Wizard of Oz pictures through our next weekend, I'm sure. In the meantime, here are a few videos for ya!

Pulling into the station at Steamtown, USA (Scranton, PA). This was just after we'd gotten off the train.

Emily riding on the Segway we rented (Joe is debating changing his commuting vehicle to save gas)

And....Matthew's turn

And...the kids having fun with the ambient music at Hershey Park.



One Down, Six to Go!

I nailed it last night! Performances were good, had a few tech issues still being worked out. Stayed out with the cast until the wee hours. Looking forward to doing it all over again tonight.

Man, I just love theatre. And I've really missed it.



Seven Days

In the past seven days I've...

  • baked six dozen ginger cookies
  • taken my car in for its 120,000 mile service
  • planned an 8-day canoe route through Algonquin Provincial Park
  • Googled the lyrics to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
  • said, "Dorothy" no less than 168 times
  • painted two 3x15' strips of canvas green and two 3x15' strips of canvas yellow
  • watched Psych, Stargate:Atlantis, Eureka, The West Wing, and Juno
  • picked Emily up from camp
  • received my new fabulously comfortable Teva water sandals
  • had the ice cream man come by three times (and fell for it twice)
  • whip-stitched two large green satin curtains
  • baked five dozen back-of-the-canister oatmeal cookies
  • read The Nanny Diaries, Lord John and the Hand of Devils, and The Horse Whisperer
  • sent 34 e-mail messages
  • walked 19 miles
  • set up our new dome tent
  • laughed so hard my sides actually hurt
  • ripped Hello Dolly! from the DVD
  • wondered how I can justify buying these popsicle molds

...and gotten entirely too little sleep. :)



Olympics are Coming!

Olympic Medal winners at NBC Olympics.com!

I love the Olympics. I hope to attend one some day. Although I should state here my decided preference for the Winter Games, I enjoy watching all the "girlie" type events at the Summer Games. Read: gymnastics (esp. men's), equestrian. I also like watching the canoeing/kayaking and sailing. And table tennis and synchronized swimming are guaranteed to both hypnotize me and crack me up.