Monthly Archives: April 2008

junior prom

Last Saturday, my daughter and her boyfriend (both age 16) attended the junior prom. If you’re interested, you can see a variety of pictures here. She had been building up to it for weeks.

http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/47b8da06b3127ccea85f51a856a200000056100AauWrdi1bsmMgA month ago, we drove two hours to Indianapolis to shop for her dress and shoes, so no one else would have the same ones. Over the course of the preceding week she applied assorted exfoliants, lotions, and oils to herself to make her legs, back, arms, and face smooth and clear. On Thursday, she got a pedicure so her feet were pretty, with coral nail polish. Friday night, she practiced her makeup.

Saturday morning, we went to get her hair done: an hour-long process during which her long-time stylist crafted a bun from a zillion individual pincurls and braids, using 78 bobby pins and 6 rubber bands in the process. (The preparation process for guys is somewhat less intense: rent tux in style and color of date’s choosing, pick up tux, put tux on.)

The result was worth all the time and effort:

http://shim1.shutterfly.com/procgserv/47b8da06b3127cce98548a73765c00000027100AauWrdi1bsmMg

They had a wonderful, wonderful time: they ate dinner with a group of friends, danced the night away, had a late-night snack at Steak & Shake, and then came back to our house, where they and 3 other friends put on casual clothes, took showers, and crashed about 3:00 a.m. (girls upstairs, boys downstairs). Sunday morning they slept in and then ate a vast quantity of warm cinnamon rolls. The rest of the day was spent in lazy relaxation (for the kids and for the mom who stayed up way past her usual bedtime to be sure they got home OK).

This weekend my daughter was as happy as I’ve ever seen her — which made me very, very happy, too. It was exactly the way the prom should be!

seeing red

https://i0.wp.com/darmano.typepad.com/logic_emotion/images/red.jpgI heard earlier on NPR that one of the guidelines given to organizations that are caring for children taken from the polygamous sect in Utah is that they should, as much as possible, remove the color red from the environment. In addition, caregivers shouldn’t wear red clothes. Why? Because sect members associate the color with evil or Satan, and therefore the children might be frightened to see it in their surroundings.

As I listened, I looked at the walls of my kitchen / office alcove / dining area, which are — you guessed it — red. My gosh, I thought, those poor kids would be scared to death if they came in here.

I mentioned this to my daughter just now, when she got home from school, saying that the children would probably think they’d encounter Satan personally in this house with all the red walls. Maybe so, she said, “But you could tell them he only comes to visit on Wednesdays.” 🙂

conversation with a 7th grader

“I’m not hungry.”

My 7th-grade son has said that the last several nights at dinner time. When asked why, he just shrugs. Tonight it had happened enough times that I was worried, so we pushed the issue. Why aren’t you hungry? Don’t you feel well? When you went over to Grandma’s to watch TV, did you have a snack?

“Well, yeah.”

Aha.

What did you have?

“Umm, a pack of Oreos and two Pop Tarts. I took those over with me.”

A pack of Oreos, as in an entire sleeve of Oreos out of the package? How many is that?

“I don’t know, maybe 12.”

A pause.

“And I had two chocolate bars.”

Another pause.

“Oh, yeah, and two glasses of milk.”

Gosh, I wonder why he isn’t hungry.

—————

Later, as we were eating, he cheerfully began to recount the tales told by his Geography substitute, who used to be a Marine. How if you’re stationed in the Far East, and you go out and get really wasted, and you wake up the next morning feeling awful, you can drink something alcoholic that has some opium stirred into it, and sleep for about 6 hours, and you’ll wake up feeling fine.

And how opium can get made into heroin, and heroin addicts use a needle to shoot it into their arms like this. [Demonstration of shooting-up motion into a vein]

Ummm, yeah… Those don’t exactly sound like appropriate things for him to tell you. Did he say that he did those things?

“No. But he looks like he’s stuck in the 70s and was probably a hippie. You know, he had his hair like this. [Motion outlining the shape of a long pompadour] They were cool stories!”

(My husband to me, afterward: “Do you want to call, or should I?”)

“Oh, yeah, and Mr. W [his health teacher] was telling us how if you have a hole in your throat, and you take a shower, the water can get into it and you can drown!”

And so forth.

Dinner conversation with an adolescent is never dull.

milestone

https://i0.wp.com/www.indiana.edu/~rcapub/images/GrowthChart.jpgIt’s official: our almost-13-year-old son is now taller than his dad.

  • Son’s height: 5’10-1/2″
  • Dad’s height: 5’10”
  • Son’s total growth in the last year: 7″

He’s a testament to the power of peanut butter, jelly, and pop-tarts!

the day the earth did NOT stand still

Archie, our orange tabby cat, likes to be in our bedroom. But he keeps me awake, so we put him out at bedtime. In response, he occasionally spends part of the night banging as hard as he can with both paws on the closed door.

This morning, a little before 6:00 a.m., Doug and I both came awake at the same moment. “What was that?” he asked. “Archie?” I had a vague, sleepy memory of the door shaking loudly in its frame; the door was still vibrating, so I replied, “Mm hmmm,” and went back to sleep.

A little while later our daughter turned on the news and called out, “Mom, dad, did you know there was an earthquake this morning?!” Ahh — so it wasn’t the cat after all.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/59/Landkarte_New_Madrid_Erdbeben.jpgAn earthquake! Too cool. At least, cool because it was enough to wake us up, but not enough to cause serious damage locally. It measured 5.2 on the Richter scale, with the epicenter off to our northwest. We’re subject to the rare tremor here thanks to the Louisville, KY area’s relative proximity to the New Madrid seismic zone.

By an interesting coincidence, today’s quake occurred on the 102nd anniversary of the huge San Francisco earthquake. Fortunately, Louisville does not lie in ruins.

I’ve experienced only one other earthquake in my life, which also woke me up: I was in college at Purdue, taking a nap in my apartment, when a similar low-level New Madrid quake struck. I remember being on my feet before I was fully awake, wondering what in the world that feeling was that had wakened me so strangely.

When you live in an area whose ground generally is solid and unmoving, the experience of an earthquake is … strange, to say the least. The earth is not supposed to move; it’s supposed to stay where it is and behave. Around here, when it decides to do otherwise, it’s an unusual, interesting, and yes, cool event.

ISFJ

https://i2.wp.com/piratemonkeysinc.com/images/ISFJ.gifA recent post by a friend prompted me to reconfirm my Myers-Briggs personality profile — and, no surprise, I remain an ISFJ. Specifically, my profile looks like this:

  • very expressed introvert (78%)
  • distinctively expressed sensing personality (75%)
  • moderately expressed feeling personality (38%)
  • slightly expressed judging personality (22%)

A few bits of analysis from online regarding people with this personality type that I find particularly applicable to myself:

ISFJs are characterized above all by their desire to serve others, their “need to be needed.”

…They are not as outgoing and talkative as the Providers, except with close friends and relatives. With these they can chat tirelessly about the ups and downs in their lives, moving (like all the Guardians) from topic to topic as they talk over their everyday concerns. However, their shyness with strangers is often misjudged as stiffness, even coldness, when in truth these Protectors are warm-hearted and sympathetic, giving happily of themselves to those in need.

…Protectors are quite content to work alone; indeed, they may experience some discomfort when placed in positions of authority, and may try to do everything themselves rather than insist that others do their jobs.

While their work ethic is high on the ISFJ priority list, their families are the centers of their lives. ISFJs are extremely warm and demonstrative within the family circle–and often possessive of their loved ones, as well. … Needless to say, ISFJs take infinite trouble over meals, gifts, celebrations, etc., for their loved ones.

Like most Is, ISFJs have a few, close friends. They are extremely loyal to these, and are ready to provide emotional and practical support at a moment’s notice. (However, like most Fs they hate confrontation; if you get into a fight, don’t expect them to jump in after you. You can count on them, however, run and get the nearest authority figure.)

No wonder I’m so happy working at home by myself, interacting with coworkers primarily by email. (One of the areas where I disagree with the online analyses of ISFJs is their opinion that good career choices include medical professions and social work.)

“awesome speech!”

For pity’s sake, will someone please teach our President how to speak, and when/how to say things that are appropriate? Pope Benedict XVI concluded his speech at the White House a little while ago, and when he finished, Bush shook his hand and said, “Thank you, Your Holiness, awesome speech!”

And by the way, Dude, I’m totally, like, into your whole white-robe look, you know?

Watch it here on the Huffington Post.

how about $3 trillion in economic stimulus?

Suppose for a minute that we had the $3 trillion* or so that the United States is spending on the Iraq war, and we could instead do something reasonable with all that wasted money. The first thing to immediately pop into my mind is, “Hey — instead of sending certain adults a piddly $600 tax rebate as a way to supposedly provide economic stimulus, plus $300 for kids under 17, the government could send every single person in America $10,000!”

Instead of the $1,800 my family is due to receive next month, we’d get $40,000. It would be like a “Get Out of Debt (Almost) Free” card for us. And although I’m feeling financially stressed right now, my family is in good shape compared to a large segment of our population — imagine what $10,000 per person would do for people who are losing their homes or trying to decide between putting a few gallons in the gas tank or putting food on the table.

Of course, Mr. Bush’s government would never dream of spending $3 trillion on helping Americans financially. No, that would somehow qualify as a Big Government Program that Must Be Avoided, kind of like spending a few billion on health care for poor children, or funding national Head Start or full-day kindergarten (or, for that matter, paying teachers a reasonable salary). Somehow it’s OK to throw away an unimaginable amount of money on a war we shouldn’t even be in, but spending that same money to benefit American citizens would be wasteful and wrong.

https://i1.wp.com/gobnf.org/i/3t/3trillionlogo.gifBut enough ranting about what our government would or would not do with $3 trillion. Now, you can make your own choice about how to spend that pile of dough! Check out the $3 Trillion Shopping Spree. Go ahead: buy Amazon.com for $514,710,000.00; put up your own billboard in Times Square ($2,000,000.00); provide food, shelter, spay and neuter services, and vet care for all homeless, neglected, and unwanted pets in America for a year ($15,000,000,000.00); rehabilitate a water well and help provide safe drinking water for a family or town ($170.00); provide universal preschool — half days for 3 year olds and full days for 4 year olds — for all the children in America ($35,000,000,000.00); reduce class size in grades pre-K to 3rd grade to 10/per teacher, 4th-8th grade to 15/teacher, and 9th-12th grade to 20/teacher ($100,000,000,000.00); pay 1,000 teachers’ salaries ($39,274,000.00); or choose from thousands of other options. Add them to your virtual shopping cart, and then send the resulting list to your friends. Go on, knock yourself out: spending that much is easy! Just ask George W. Bush and his “Smaller Government, Less Wasteful Spending” friends.

* Here’s where the $3 trillion comes from:

  • $526 billion — borrowed money poured into Iraq so far
  • $615 billion — total interest costs for taxpayers
  • $280 billion — to rebuild our military
  • $590 billion — disability benefits and health care for Iraq veterans
  • $1.5 trillion — estimated costs through 2017

me in 6 words

https://i0.wp.com/www.onflex.org/count/6.pngGuinness has tagged me with an interesting meme. (I’m astonished that he has time for his blog, given that guys on diamonds have begun knocking around white balls with sticks…) I’m not sure why, but this meme caught my attention and caused me to immediately tackle the following assignment: writing my memoir in 6 words.

(Who comes up with these things? Why 6 words, instead of 5, 7, or 23? Was it a random choice, or does the specified number have some deep hidden meaning related to the Illuminati, the price of gasoline, and raising chickens?)

Here’s my life for your perusal:

Overeducated humanist editor sings, cooks, loves.

I’m going to tag some people with this one. I don’t usually do tagging, but I’m interested to see what they come up with, if they choose to participate. Here are the rules:

1) Write your own six word memoir
2) Post it on your blog; include a visual illustration if you’d like
3) Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible
4) Tag at least five more blogs with links
5) Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

Taggees: Tim, Jack, Laura, Earthpen, DarkWolf

life, liberty, and the pursuit of reality

https://i2.wp.com/www.choosereality.org/art/choose-reality-3-120x50.jpgThanks to my friend Jack, I have a new adjective for myself: realist. He introduced me to the website of the Church of Reality.

It sounds like another April Fool’s joke, but it’s a real church with missions that I absolutely agree with:

  1. We Believe in Reality – the Way It Really Is
  2. We Spread the Sacred Message – Reality
  3. We Choose the Sacred Direction – Forward
  4. We Honor the Tree of Knowledge
  5. We Ask the Sacred Moral Question – What Is Good?
  6. We Issue the Sacred Challenge – How do we know that what we believe is real?
  7. We Are Activists – We Make It Happen
  8. We Unite Religion and Reality

From the website:

Since no one knows all of reality, the Church of Reality is a religious commitment to the pursuit of reality the way it really is. We think about thinking. We wonder about wondering. We try to understand the understanding of understanding. We are Explorers, not followers. The phrase “What is Real?” is our Sacred Question and the word “Reality” is our Sacred Message. We talk about reality, think about reality, and aim to make reality more important in society.

The Church of Reality is a new breed of religion that is based on reality rather than mythology. We answer the great questions that other religions address, like what is right and wrong, how do people live together in a community, and what are our responsibilities to ourselves and to each other. We address these concerns in the context of our evolutionary history, our present reality, and our future evolution.

https://i1.wp.com/images.cafepress.com/product/15677294v2_240x240_Front.jpg… Realists are not without values or morality. Our values are based on Humanism rather than a fictional holy book. As Realists, our values include Positive Evolution, Exploration, Honesty and Integrity, Freedom, Individualism, Peace, Courage, Environmentalism, Compassion, Justice, Inclusiveness, Scrutiny and Doubt, Humility, Reason, Wisdom, and Personal Responsibility. We believe in Original Virtue rather than Original Sin. We are a Doubt-Based rather than Faith-Based religion.

https://i1.wp.com/images.cafepress.com/product/170409123v6_240x240_Front_Color-BlackWhite.jpgVery cool — and exactly in line with my existing thought processes as a Unitarian Universalist, an atheist, and a humanist.

Consider me a member of the Church of Reality. My shirt and my bumper sticker are now on order. 🙂

 

Addendum: In an interesting coincidence, several hours after I posted the above, a smiling woman in her 50’s just knocked on my door carrying a Bible and a small pile of other literature. She began, “Hello, we’re out today talking with our neighbors about the Bible, and in particular about the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us, and…” Me (smiling): “Oh, no thank you.” Her: “You aren’t interested?” Me: “Not a bit.” Her: “You aren’t a Bible reader?” Me: “Not a bit.” Her: “OK, well, have a great day, and thank you for being so friendly about it!” I was glad she didn’t get pushy, and she was glad I wasn’t rude, so it was a fair trade.

This is the third religious visitor I’ve had in the last few months. Perhaps I need to keep a little pile of literature of my own by the door, to give them: cards with the URL of this blog, issues of Skeptic magazine, pamphlets from the American Humanist Association, a list of Biblical contradictions…