Friday, February 29, 2008

A story....

...any mother can relate to.

A Cup of Tea

One day my mother was out and my dad was in charge.
I was maybe 1 and a half years old. Someone had
given me a little 'tea set' as a gift and it was one
of my favorite toys.

Daddy was in the living room...
engrossed in the evening news and my brother was
playing nearby in the living room when I brought
Daddy a little cup of 'tea,' which was just water.

After several cups of tea and lots of praise for
such yummy tea, my Mom came home. My Dad made her
wait in the living room to watch me bring him a cup
of tea, because it was 'just the cutest thing!!'

My mom waited, and sure enough, here I come down the
hall with a cup of tea for Daddy and she watches him
drink it up, then says, 'Did it ever occur to you
that the only place that baby can reach to get water
is the toilet??'

...tee hee

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thanks Tesa.... site! And to not plagiarize too much...I'm using the cookie test. Turns out my personality is like one of my favorites :)

On the surface, you're a little plain - but you have many subtle dimensions to your personality.

Sometimes you're down to earth and crunchy. Other times, you're sweet and a little gooey.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

My Hero

"Courage is not limited to the battlefield or the Indianapolis 500 or bravely catching a thief in your house. The real tests of courage are much deeper and much quieter. They are the inner tests, like remaining faithful when nobody's looking, like enduring pain when the room is empty, like standing alone when you're misunderstood."
Chuck Swindoll - Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life

Friday, February 22, 2008

Another of those silly email surveys

1. What time did you get up this morning? 7:30...reluctantly.

2. Diamonds or pearls? lapis....always need to be contrary (tho I prefer to be considered a salmon, just like to swim against the current :) Besides, did you know that diamonds are sometimes mined by slave children....too much guilt there.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Does anyone actually call it the cinema anymore...(sorry, see above disclaimer) was so long ago I can't remember.

4. What is your favorite TV show? House

5. What do you usually have for breakfast? Toast and coffee

6. What is your middle name? Elizabeth.

7. What food do you dislike? anchovies

8. What is your favorite CD? Just one? ...that's it's Caedmon's Call (but it'll change tomorrow)

9. What kind of car do you drive? Some sort of Van....I'll need to ask my daughter.

10. Favorite sandwich? BLT....yum!

11. What characteristic do you despise? delusional narcissistic cruelty....I'm not bitter

12. Favorite item of clothing? jeans/sweat shirt.

13. If you could go anywhere on vacation where would you go?

14. What color is your bathroom? Purple, Caribbean blue and Lime's a happy room!

15. Favorite brand of clothing? Brand???

16. Where do you want to retire? Home....or as far away from the mean people as we can afford to go....I'm not bitter.

17. What was your most recent memorable birthday? I'm not much for celebrations where I am the center of most of them are happily forgettable.

18. Favorite sport to watch? Baseball.

19. Furthest place you are sending this? Pennsylvania....Hi Mike and Naoko!

20. Who do you least expect to send this back? everybody....

21. Person you expect to send it back first? My sister and best friend, Julie.

22. Favorite sayings? I'm not bitter ....(having t-shirts made)

23. When is your birthday? I cannot divulge that information as it will compromise our agents in the field.

24. Are you a morning person or a night person? Morning people should be shot (does that answer your question?)

25. What is your shoe size? what a strange question.

26. Pets? 3 dogs, 11 cats (and counting)

27. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us? I'm seriously considering a run for the Presidency.

28. What did you want to be when you were little? A horse.

29. How are you today? Tired of fighting battles with the mentally ill.

30. What is your favorite candy? See's peanut crunch and California brittle.

31. What is your favorite flower? Daisys.

32. What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to? Weekends, I love having Steve and the kids at home with me.

33. What church do you attend? Crossroads EV Free....tho attend might be too strong a word :)

34. What are you listening to right now? Wilson coughing.

35. What was the last thing you ate? Goodie, more guilt....a chocolate truffle.

36. Do you wish on stars? No, but you can't hardly see them around here.

37. If you were a crayon what color would you be? Chartreuse.

38. How is the weather right now? Rainy....yea!

39 Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone? A bill collector.

40. Do you like the person who sent this to you? Who sent this? Just kidding, Hi Sue (I actually love these things....I SO don't have a life:)

41. Favorite drink? Tea and lemonade (Arnold Palmer)

42. Favorite restaurant(s)? Fugazzis

43. Hair color? The one I was born with or the one I pay money for?

44. Favorite day of the year? Thanksgiving....all food, no presents and therefore, no guilt.

45. What was your favorite toy as a child? Electric train.

46. Summer or winter? Winter.

47. Hugs or kisses? Kisses...we are talking about the ones from Hershey correct?

48. Chocolate or Vanilla? Mint Chip....there's that salmon thing again.

49. Do you want your friends to email you back? Sure

50. When was the last time you cried? Last night.

51. What is under your bed? All kinds of crap.

52. Who is the friend you have had the longest? Julie, my sister, my best friend (see#21)

53. What did you do last night? Cried about mean people.

54. Favorite smell? Coffee.

55. What are you afraid of? My kids making mistakes that will cause them pain.

56. Plain, buttered, or salted Popcorn? Buttered & Salted

57. How many keys on your key ring? I have no idea...

58. How many years at your current job? Mom...21 years.

59. Favorite day of the week? depends on what I'm doing and who I'm doing it with.

60. How many towns have you lived in? I need to ask my Mom, maybe seven.

61. Do you make friends easily? No, I basically don't like people...I prefer ferrets.

62. How many people will you be sending this to? 3...see above.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thought for the Day

Taking responsibility for your actions by merely mouthing the words is a meaningless gesture…evidence of truly taking responsibility is in accepting the consequences of your actions….without whining, complaining, or making excuses.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Newspaper article....

My first!

Movies are made about games like the contest Friday night between Exeter and Coalinga. Admittedly, it wasn’t the US beating the Russians in ice hockey, but to everyone who packed the Exeter gym that night, it was much more satisfying. Ending on a two-point basket by senior JC Mitchell in the last second of play, the game will be remembered as one of the most exciting in Exeter’s history.

To say that the Exeter HS basketball team has struggled this year is an understatement. The Monarchs, though always fighting mightily, had yet to win a single league game and despite some near misses it looked as if the season might just end on that note. But thanks to the valiant efforts of some very determined young men, lead by point guard Mitchell, that outcome was averted. Mitchell, along with seniors Frankie Cabrera, James LeClerc and Arturo Soto, played the game of their lives. The seniors, and teammates Clay James and Matt Jordan, clearly were determined to avoid the sting of a winless season.

The game started as it ended, close. It was well fought on both sides of the court, never more than eight points separating the teams. The Horned Toads were lead by B. J. Warren with 23 points and the Monarchs by J.C. Mitchell with 26. Though the outcome was in question most of the night, the Coalinga five held the lead almost the entire game.

Late in the 4th quarter, with less than 30 seconds to play, Exeter trailing by two, the Monarchs brought the ball up the court. The ball was passed around between several players before James LeClerc shot and hit a crucial three-pointer to put the Monarchs ahead for the first time in the second half. Coalinga called timeout and planned the strategy for what would be their final shot. The Horned Toads took the ball down the court and though the Monarchs defended vigorously, Joey Garcia sank a basket to put Coalinga up by one. Now it was Exeter’s turn for a final time-out and Coach Reeder’s last chance to rally the troops.

The Monarchs brought the ball in with 11 seconds left in the game. As the five young men advanced up the court everyone in the gym was on their feet. A few passes and the ball ended up in Mitchell’s capable hands. Driving towards the basket it looked as if the game was over, the seconds having dwindled down to a single digit on the scoreboard before Mitchell, off balance and under pressure, took the last shot of the game. As the buzzer rang, the ball arched its way down and through the hoop. The crowd went wild, storming the court and hoisting Mitchell on their shoulders for a victory lap around the gym.

The celebration might have seemed excessive to the Coalinga fans. It might have seemed excessive to anyone with just a cursory glance at this team's record. One win, nine losses, who cares! The Monarchs needed this one. JC needed this one. Exeter needed this one.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Dumbing of America

This is an article that appeared in the Washington Post by Susan Jacoby. Yes, it's long...but it's important stuff you it!

"The mind of this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats upon itself." Ralph Waldo Emerson offered that observation in 1837, but his words echo with painful prescience in today's very different United States. Americans are in serious intellectual trouble -- in danger of losing our hard-won cultural capital to a virulent mixture of anti-intellectualism, anti-rationalism and low expectations.

This is the last subject that any candidate would dare raise on the long and winding road to the White House. It is almost impossible to talk about the manner in which public ignorance contributes to grave national problems without being labeled an "elitist," one of the most powerful pejoratives that can be applied to anyone aspiring to high office. Instead, our politicians repeatedly assure Americans that they are just "folks," a patronizing term that you will search for in vain in important presidential speeches before 1980. (Just imagine: "We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain . . . and that government of the folks, by the folks, for the folks, shall not perish from the earth.") Such exaltations of ordinariness are among the distinguishing traits of anti-intellectualism in any era.

The classic work on this subject by Columbia University historian Richard Hofstadter, "Anti-Intellectualism in American Life," was published in early 1963, between the anti-communist crusades of the McCarthy era and the social convulsions of the late 1960s. Hofstadter saw American anti-intellectualism as a basically cyclical phenomenon that often manifested itself as the dark side of the country's democratic impulses in religion and education. But today's brand of anti-intellectualism is less a cycle than a flood. If Hofstadter (who died of leukemia in 1970 at age 54) had lived long enough to write a modern-day sequel, he would have found that our era of 24/7 infotainment has outstripped his most apocalyptic predictions about the future of American culture.

Dumbness, to paraphrase the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, has been steadily defined downward for several decades, by a combination of heretofore irresistible forces. These include the triumph of video culture over print culture (and by video, I mean every form of digital media, as well as older electronic ones); a disjunction between Americans' rising level of formal education and their shaky grasp of basic geography, science and history; and the fusion of anti-rationalism with anti-intellectualism.

First and foremost among the vectors of the new anti-intellectualism is video. The decline of book, newspaper and magazine reading is by now an old story. The drop-off is most pronounced among the young, but it continues to accelerate and afflict Americans of all ages and education levels.

Reading has declined not only among the poorly educated, according to a report last year by the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1982, 82 percent of college graduates read novels or poems for pleasure; two decades later, only 67 percent did. And more than 40 percent of Americans under 44 did not read a single book -- fiction or nonfiction -- over the course of a year. The proportion of 17-year-olds who read nothing (unless required to do so for school) more than doubled between 1984 and 2004. This time period, of course, encompasses the rise of personal computers, Web surfing and video games.

Does all this matter? Technophiles pooh-pooh jeremiads about the end of print culture as the navel-gazing of (what else?) elitists. In his book "Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter," the science writer Steven Johnson assures us that we have nothing to worry about. Sure, parents may see their "vibrant and active children gazing silently, mouths agape, at the screen." But these zombie-like characteristics "are not signs of mental atrophy. They're signs of focus." Balderdash. The real question is what toddlers are screening out, not what they are focusing on, while they sit mesmerized by videos they have seen dozens of times.

Despite an aggressive marketing campaign aimed at encouraging babies as young as 6 months to watch videos, there is no evidence that focusing on a screen is anything but bad for infants and toddlers. In a study released last August, University of Washington researchers found that babies between 8 and 16 months recognized an average of six to eight fewer words for every hour spent watching videos.

I cannot prove that reading for hours in a treehouse (which is what I was doing when I was 13) creates more informed citizens than hammering away at a Microsoft Xbox or obsessing about Facebook profiles. But the inability to concentrate for long periods of time -- as distinct from brief reading hits for information on the Web -- seems to me intimately related to the inability of the public to remember even recent news events. It is not surprising, for example, that less has been heard from the presidential candidates about the Iraq war in the later stages of the primary campaign than in the earlier ones, simply because there have been fewer video reports of violence in Iraq. Candidates, like voters, emphasize the latest news, not necessarily the most important news.

No wonder negative political ads work. "With text, it is even easy to keep track of differing levels of authority behind different pieces of information," the cultural critic Caleb Crain noted recently in the New Yorker. "A comparison of two video reports, on the other hand, is cumbersome. Forced to choose between conflicting stories on television, the viewer falls back on hunches, or on what he believed before he started watching."

As video consumers become progressively more impatient with the process of acquiring information through written language, all politicians find themselves under great pressure to deliver their messages as quickly as possible -- and quickness today is much quicker than it used to be. Harvard University 's Kiku Adatto found that between 1968 and 1988, the average sound bite on the news for a presidential candidate -- featuring the candidate's own voice -- dropped from 42.3 seconds to 9.8 seconds. By 2000, according to another Harvard study, the daily candidate bite was down to just 7.8 seconds.

The shrinking public attention span fostered by video is closely tied to the second important anti-intellectual force in American culture: the erosion of general knowledge.

People accustomed to hearing their president explain complicated policy choices by snapping "I'm the decider" may find it almost impossible to imagine the pains that Franklin D. Roosevelt took, in the grim months after Pearl Harbor, to explain why U.S. armed forces were suffering one defeat after another in the Pacific. In February 1942, Roosevelt urged Americans to spread out a map during his radio "fireside chat" so that they might better understand the geography of battle. In stores throughout the country, maps sold out; about 80 percent of American adults tuned in to hear the president. FDR had told his speechwriters that he was certain that if Americans understood the immensity of the distances over which supplies had to travel to the armed forces, "they can take any kind of bad news right on the chin."

This is a portrait not only of a different presidency and president but also of a different country and citizenry, one that lacked access to satellite-enhanced Google maps but was far more receptive to learning and complexity than today's public. According to a 2006 survey by National Geographic-Roper, nearly half of Americans between ages 18 and 24 do not think it necessary to know the location of other countries in which important news is being made. More than a third consider it "not at all important" to know a foreign language, and only 14 percent consider it "very important."

That leads us to the third and final factor behind the new American dumbness: not lack of knowledge per se but arrogance about that lack of knowledge. The problem is not just the things we do not know (consider the one in five American adults who, according to the National Science Foundation, thinks the sun revolves around the Earth); it's the alarming number of Americans who have smugly concluded that they do not need to know such things in the first place. Call this anti-rationalism -- a syndrome that is particularly dangerous to our public institutions and discourse. Not knowing a foreign language or the location of an important country is a manifestation of ignorance; denying that such knowledge matters is pure anti-rationalism. The toxic brew of anti-rationalism and ignorance hurts discussions of U.S. public policy on topics from health care to taxation.

There is no quick cure for this epidemic of arrogant anti-rationalism and anti-intellectualism; rote efforts to raise standardized test scores by stuffing students with specific answers to specific questions on specific tests will not do the job. Moreover, the people who exemplify the problem are usually oblivious to it. ("Hardly anyone believes himself to be against thought and culture," Hofstadter noted.) It is past time for a serious national discussion about whether, as a nation, we truly value intellect and rationality. If this indeed turns out to be a "change election," the low level of discourse in a country with a mind taught to aim at low objects ought to be the first item on the change agenda.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

If you ever want to see Jesus again...

I stole this off another blog because I thought it was hysterical! Thanks Jamie for sharing it with your readers.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My Sorrow

Apparently I need to take my own advice...don’t you hate that? I have been emailing back and forth to someone for the past couple weeks and I finally got up the nerve to call her attention to some letters she had written to me that I thought were rather rude. I did it in what I thought (idiot) was a fairly non-threatening manner. It did not go over well …at all.

Why is it that when you try to politely (but firmly) tell someone that they have hurt your feelings they immediately shift into attack mode? Is it possible to be so completely clueless that you can go thru life stepping on people's toes and then turn around and accuse them of being callous and mean? Is it possible to be so thoroughly convinced of your lack of culpability that you are not willing to make a single concession of fault? Honestly, I have never been that completely convinced of my own innocence. I just figure no matter what is going on, I’ve probably not been entirely perfect.

I do believe that somehow in the past few decades we have managed to produce an inordinately large number of narcissistic personalities. People who, for whatever reason, think that the world revolves around them and that their perception of events is absolutely and unquestionably accurate. They constantly rewrite history to construct a reality where they have committed no wrongs. This view, though immensely comforting to the narcissist, is extremely damaging to those around them. These people need to be treated as anyone would treat a wounded bear……don’t kick them…ok, that’s obvious…how about run screaming from the room (minus the screaming of course, I just added that for dramatic effect :)

As much as we would like, it is impossible to surround ourselves with only people who love us; our enemies are all around and we are called to love even the worst of them. But love does not mean we leave ourselves open to abuse; being gracious does not include the stipulation to put ourselves in harms way. Love them from a distance if that is the safest place…pray for their salvation...wish them well...but don’t hand them a gun and make yourself a target.

And when we are assaulted by the aforementioned individuals and our feelings are left bruised and battered...
....flee into the arms of those who truly love us...cry on their shoulders...accept the comfort and peace they offer…for they are truly God's hands and feet on this earth.

Just for Laughs...

...and today this is just what I needed :)

These 12 are actual comments made on students' report cards by
teachers in the New York City public school system. All teachers were
reprimanded but, boy, are these funny!

1. Since my last report, your child has reached rock bottom and has
started to dig.

2. I would not allow this student to breed.

3. Your child has delusions of adequacy.

4. Your son is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot.
(I'm going to be using that one!)

5. Your son sets low personal standards and then consistently fails
to achieve them.

6. The student has a 'full six-pack' but lacks the plastic thing to
hold it all together.

7. This child has been working with glue too much.

8. When your daughter's IQ reaches 50, she should sell.

9. The gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the train
isn't coming.

10. If this student were any stupider he'd have to be watered twice
a week.

11. It's impossible to believe the sperm that created this child
beat out 1,000,000 others

12. The wheel is turning but the hamster is definitely dead.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A question...

Does one cup of coffee and 3 pieces of Sees candy (all day) qualify as dieting?

Friday, February 1, 2008

Lessons Learned

Email is a wonderful thing. It allows us to stay in contact with people hundreds….thousands of miles away without having to go to the trouble of writing an actual letter and spending a fortune on stamps (hey, 39cents adds up). What had, to me, seemed like such an impersonal form of communication has actually turned out to be a facilitator of closeness in my rather large extended family. It’s a good thing.

It does however, have its drawbacks….drawbacks being a euphemism for dangers. Because of its immediacy and the illusion of anonymity we tend to click the send button before we have had a chance to really think about what kind of reaction our words might have on the recipient. We feel better having vented, we feel righteous, we feel strong….but it’s a sham. In an email it is so much easier to be mean.

Email, and for that matter any internet communication, is in many ways just too easy.

We tend to be braver in email…braver being a euphemism for stupider…we say things that we would hesitate to say in person or on the phone. Things we may want to say, might even have a right to say, but maybe we shouldn’t say. The little part of our brain that develops into a filter as we mature tends to shut down a bit when we are emailing. No one is standing in front of us with tears in their eyes…no one gets the chance to say…”that’s not what I meant”.
No one stops us.

I have my own rules for emailing…mostly centered around the concept of waiting….not a popular idea nowadays but very valuable in keeping the peace within my circle of family and friends. Also a great tool in holding onto a certain amount of self-respect as well as avoiding the inevitable regret of having sent off a nasty missive.
If only my relatives could learn a similar level of restraint.

Before sending any potentially volatile message, take a good look at what you have written, read it from the point of view of the person receiving it. Ask yourself if this needs to be said and if so, what is the kindest way to say it. Don't hesitate to let someone know when you feel they have wronged you, but do it without being vicious. Continue to treat them with a respect that quite possibly they don’t deserve, but which will allow you to walk away knowing you did the right thing.

Ask yourself a few questions before shooting off your mouth..... Do I mean to sound so rude and insensitive?…Is it really my intention to come across as selfish and demanding?...Do I actually want to stoop to their level? At the end of the day, why not be the one who can honestly say, I did everything I could to resolve this problem...
and I have proof :)

And finally, if you really do feel the need to be more candid than you might be in person….write the letter and put it in your drafts folder for at least 24 hours. Time is a wonderful sedative …use it!