Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Festivus!

My dad is here and we are celebrating Festivus, comfort food, feats of strength and the airing of grievances.
It's the holiday season!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ooooh, more stuff like the last post

I just read another REALLY good article about mental health care in this nation, written by a psychiatrist.

Here is the important bit...


Because this boy was missed. That moment is now gone, and we as a nation are grieving with the consequences of the failure.
The only move left is for me to ask for help. And that’s exactly what I am doing.
1) The US Congress: Please create better laws to ensure the ticking time bomb is caught before it is too late. Make it much easier for a family to get a potentially dangerous person into mandated treatment. This means less paperwork, too. We need to support parents and mental health professionals.
2) The US Justice Department: It’s time we enacted a Health Law Court. Have doctors serve as judges and streamline legal proceedings for tough medical and psychiatric cases. Go to commongood.org for ideas on how this can be done.
3) Health Insurance Companies: Man up. My main complaint is with you. You make it so hard to keep people in the hospital when they need to be there, and it’s even harder to keep them in intensive outpatient services. Please create protocols for difficult cases and loosen the purse strings for extremely troubled individuals –- before it’s too late.
4) Network TV: Please create some exciting television that is actually educational about mental illness. Or least give us a “Gossip Girl” who takes her medication and sees her psychiatrist regularly. Less stigma, better health.
5) Drug Companies: You are always trying to ply me with coffee and doughnuts. I have trust issues with you. Don’t want anything, thanks.
6) The Hollywood PR Machine: Please find the mental health community a really attractive celebrity to get the US mental health system some money. I am glad that George Clooney and Angelina Jolie are doing so much for Africa, but can we borrow one of them please?
7) High School Students: Tell the popular kids to stop being such dicks to the odd kids or the ones they don’t understand.
8) Community Psychiatry Health Researchers: You have kick-ass and innovative ideas for how to reform the system. Could one of you put on a sequin dress and walk a red carpet please? We need to get you more money.
Me? I will keep trying to do my job. But I want to be better equipped the next time the risk appears before me. Because these young men need help. We all do.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Blathering on about grief and anger and hope

We (Americans) are so f***ed up.
Don't get me wrong. I also think we are awesome and amazing and pretty dang fabulous, 
nevertheless, we are also deeply effed up.
Ya know, pretty much like every other nation in the world, but in our own unique way.

The way we aggrandize violence, ignore, marginalize, and refuse to treat mental illness, as well as our refusal to engage in any sane, national conversation about what sensible gun laws might be all combine to create situations like Sandy Hook.
Having one group shrieking, "No guns, never guns, aaaaaargh!" and another group raging, "Must haz ALL the guns!" is rather counter-productive to a well-reasoned approach.
The person who commits murder always bears the guilt of that act. I am not attempting to diminish that truth but I do think it is time we evaluate what our society is doing.

One of my Facebook friends posted this image as if it suggests a good solution to the recent events.

This is an elementary class in Israel with an armed adult.
 The fact that anyone thought this is a reasonable solution mystifies, angers, and grieves me. People in Israel live every day under fear of death, rocket fire, loss of loved ones. Are we really at the point in this country where we want to adopt the mindset and actions of war-torn nation, not because we are embroiled in an actual geo-political conflict but simply because we cannot be bothered to find a way to live peaceably??
I know people who've experienced the never-ending fear and uncertainty of surviving life in a war zone. They value the blessings of  peace and liberty extraordinarily highly and I believe you would have a hard time convincing them that the way to preserve and celebrate the American way of life is to embrace the life-style forced on those who live under constant fear of attack.


Let me be clear, I am not anti-gun. I support the right of people to own guns, hunt, target shoot, and shoot in competitions. I believe every single member of our armed services ought to be trained in handling weapons (and just in case you didn't know this, no, not all military members currently are trained in firing weapons). My children have both taken the hunter safety course in my state and gone hunting. They've been to youth hunter training offered by our local gun range and been train pretty extensively by my dad and husband about gun safety, gun handling, and responsible gun ownership. I am all for responsible gun ownership.
However, we need to speak truth on this matter.

It's time to quit pretending that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams wanted assault rifles in the hands of anyone who shows up at a gun show with the money to buy one.
I, for one, do not understand why assault weapons were ever subject to private ownership. I firmly believe that tanks, gun ship helicopters, and assault weapons belong only in the hands of military members and law enforcement officers. Nevertheless, they are in the hands of private citizens and the responsible owners; the ones who properly secure their weapons, use them sensibly, and follow laws and safety guidelines are not the people creating anguish. It is unrealistic though to behave as if this describes all gun owners.

Even more important than gun laws (because it is true that laws regarding guns only have an effect on those who follow laws) are the matters of how our society regards violence and how we handle mental illness.
This is a link to one woman's take on this recent tragedy and her connection to mental illness.

A gun ban is an oversimplified answer to this issue. We need to develop a culture of honoring life, non-violence, and caring for those with mental illness.

I hope we can honor the memories of these precious babies and their teachers by doing the best we can to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.

Friday, December 14, 2012

♪ It’s the holiday season, so whoop-de-doo ♫

I am getting into the Christmas groove... slowly.
I got a fabulous gift in the mail from Lime which helped, but the last couple years it's been an uphill sort of season. In 2009 this was a distinctly un-festive time of year and in the intervening years it's gotten better but November through January is still not exactly my favorite time of year these days. Which is a shame, because I have typically been really into Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, not to mention all the bonus holidays we celebrate in there (Winter Solstice, Festivus, Boxing Day, and Befana aka. Epiphany).

It's just the journey, and it's normal, and blah blah blah but since I like to imagine myself as incredibly strong, resilient, and unflappable I actually have to remind myself not to get affected about the fact I am affected. It's not a bad thing. 

I decided this year not to wait for the rest of the family to take point on the holiday prep as I have the last two years. I decorated for Christmas and today I am having some friends over for a little Christmas tea. I am sure it will be awesome once we get going but right now I am sitting in my bedroom, still in my jammies wondering why I thought this was a good idea.

Ah, good times. 

So, off I go to have some delicious Chinese tea from my friend and feel very loved and understood and then I am going to get dressed and spend some time with my friends and just get on with it already.

It's part of my gradual campaign to have less, "Bah humbug!" in my holidays and more, "God bless us, every one!"

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Stuff I did.

Ok, so, being a northwest native I have been on the Boeing tour before (it is a long time field trip fav of Washington schools) but I had out of town company and so we did this tour.
The Boeing factory is the largest building on earth (by volume) and in fact, it is actually like, screw with your sense of perception type big.

This next picture shows why it is so big. 
They make really big stuff in there. 

The factory tour is set up to let tourists walk through and gawk without interfering with the plant at all. You enter from the underground tunnels and then go up to areas that overlook the work area, so you get to view the whole deal without getting in the way.



If you've never seen large aircraft up close, you should try to remedy that. I prefer the SR- 71 but for sheer size you have to admire the engineering on these suckers. 


 Speaking of sheer size...
this is a Dreamlifter. It is a custom altered 787 that Boeing uses to fly in the components of the Dreamliners. We've seen them overhead and they sort of look like hydro-cephalic 787s. 
 Mmmmmm, more power.

 We also went to see King Tut. 


There were lots of artifacts from a variety of dynasties for starters and then a pretty cool set-up for the items that came from the tomb complex of Tutankhamun. 


That cheetah head was there, and there were lots of pieces from the different areas within Tut's tomb.

It was a very well staged display and it had some really interesting pieces.

You know what they didn't have?
Any part of the sarcophagus. Despite the fact it was the image all over the advertisement and there were pictures of it throughout, but NO actual bits of it... which was disappointing to me, a bit. 
 I guess the European museum deal spoiled us. We got to see real mummies, even cat mummies, in Naples and the British Museum has a truly outstanding Egyptology section.
I am glad we did it but I am also glad I waited til the mother in law arrived. I wouldn't have been willing to pay for it twice.

We also visited the Pacific Northwest Ballet Nutcracker. The set was designed by Maurice Sendak (author and illustrator of Where the Wild Things Are). It is pretty amazing.



The bit there in the center where the nutcracker's face is opens up to reveal Clara sleeping and down in front you see the nutcracker and the mouse king having their duel.

The Christmas party is rather gorgeous, the costumes and sets are wonderful.

Look at that tree, is it not awesome?

There are tons of kids in this production and they all do so well.

It is so much fun to watch them.
There are, of course, muscular men in tight pants as well.
 So it has that going for it too.

 There are also the requisite scenes involving skinny chicks flitting about in fluffy skirts.

Very well done and all that, I'm sure.



In the Nutcracker though, you also get some slightly more interesting spectacles,


and in Seattle's Nutcracker

they have a distinctly Sendak flair

which makes them even better!

 It is a holiday tradition

and a lot of fun,.

That last shot shows Kent Stowell on the 25th anniversary of the Nutcracker. He was the choreographer for the Nutcracker and the one who convinced Maurice Sendak to get involved in this project back in the early 80s. 
I am so glad he did.

RIP, Mr. Sendak, and thanks for making this ballet beautiful, fun, and something kids can enjoy.

So there ya have it. That is what I've been up to lately. 

Friday, December 07, 2012

Infamy



I want to read No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It is about the Roosevelts and discusses this time period is pretty great detail from what I understand. 
Anyway, it's Pearl Harbor Day. Let's keep remembering. 

Sunday, December 02, 2012

The tenth month?

Well, it is December. Which mean Mr. Logo will celebrate his natal day and I am expected to do some shopping. 

 Additionally, my mother-in-law is visiting. While she is here we plan to go see King Tut and watch The Nutcracker. The PNB is suitably proud of it and the Maurice Sendak designs.

I am really looking forward to December 21st. The days will start getting long again, yay! Call me greedy if you like but I think anything less that 8 1/2 hours of day light borders on cruel and unusual. Clearly I would not survive in Alaska. Anyway, come on, December 21st!
I am looking forward to Christmas break; time to hang out with the offspring and getting to sleep in, yay!
It is rather odd to think another year is almost over though.
Times flies and all that. 



Sunday, November 25, 2012

I luffs to share.

I have discovered a new thing, Upworthy.
The graphic above is from their site, as are the following two videos;


a promo for Goldie Blox, which my niece will be receiving,

AND

the best safety video in the history of the interwebz.

Upworthy, I luffs it too, PLUS it is all about the sharing, which we already established I luff.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Say what now???


Colonialism is a practice of domination, which involves the subjugation of one people to another. One of the difficulties in defining colonialism is that it is hard to distinguish it from imperialism. Frequently the two concepts are treated as synonyms. Like colonialism, imperialism also involves political and economic control over a dependent territory. The etymology of the two terms, however, provides some clues about how they differ. The term colony comes from the Latin word colonus, meaning farmer. This root reminds us that the practice of colonialism usually involved the transfer of population to a new territory, where the arrivals lived as permanent settlers while maintaining political allegiance to their country of origin. Imperialism, on the other hand, comes from the Latin term imperium, meaning to command. Thus, the term imperialism draws attention to the way that one country exercises power over another, whether through settlement, sovereignty, or indirect mechanisms of control.(Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) 
Recently I've heard from a couple different people that President Obama is an anti-colonialist. In my current events class in October when we were doing pros and cons for President Obama and Governor Romney this was mentioned as a con for the president. 
I was puzzled. 
In fact, I didn't even write it on the board because I assumed the child has misunderstood. After all, colonialism is something America rejected pretty firmly a couple hundred years ago and I tend to assume that people who favor American-style democracy are also — by definition— anti-colonialist.

However, this point has come up since then... a couple times. Conservative people are discussing anti-colonialism as if it were a bad thing and I am wondering about whether or not they have thought that position through. 

Have conservative Americans really decided  that the subjugation of one people by another is a good thing?
And if so... why?

 Because, let's be clear here, if you oppose those who object to colonialism, 
YOU ARE IDEOLOGICALLY SUPPORTING THE SUBJUGATION OF ONE GROUP BY ANOTHER.

When exactly did the Republican party decide that was a conservative American value???


Now, I have been made aware of the origin of this bit of political equivocation but I am not discussing someone ideological bait and switch boloney right now. I am focusing on the fact that we now have people in this country who are discussing anti-colonialism as if it is a pernicious evil instead of a foundational piece of doctrine in the American political view.  

I am anti-colonialist. I believe people have the right to be self-governing, whether I agree with them or not. If you believe that then 
YOU ARE ANTI-COLONIALIST. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Low expectations are the key to happiness.

I recently was show a graphic that looked like this, and it explained why I am annoyed by all that is wrong in my world.
You see, there is a gap between expectation and reality and in this rendition of these two aspects of life the gap between them is labeled frustration. The gap between expectation and reality is where frustration lives, frustration with our situations, our loved ones, and ourselves. Typically, people try to alleviate this frustration by forcing reality closer to our expectations, but that is extraordinarily difficult.

In most cases, it would be much more sensible to bring our expectations into closer proximity to reality. This is not to say, of course, that we shouldn't have standards, or just accept anything and everything that comes along. But how much needless frustration have you suffered because of an unmet expectation that was just too far away from reality? 
I know I've experienced plenty!

OK, so that is the speech I plan to open with when I explain to my sister why I am so bad at remembering to call her. What do you think? Am I off the hook?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Veteran's Day

To all the vets, but especially the ones I love, thank you.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Oh well, next time





In other news, hoping my east coast peeps stay dry, warm, and powered. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Family Reunion


This is where I was this weekend.
We did a family reunion/retreat up in the foothills of the Cascades. Most of my family made it so there were about 44 of us. 
The lodge has some rooms with a queen sized bed or a pair of full sized bed but they also have family suite rooms with full-sized beds and two sets of bunks so even for the more productive members of the family it works out to have plenty of space. 
There was some hiking done, though it was drizzly or raining most of the weekend. A little rain never stops a true Washingtonian.
;)
There was a fully-equipped commercial kitchen which makes cooking for a crowd that size soooo much easier. Different family members signed up for each meal and we ate very, very well. 

It was fun to get together and catch up with all the members of my family and learn what is new with them. We've decided not to wait so long to do it again. We are hoping to work it out for the end of June. Maybe then it will look as sunny as it does in the promo pic above!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

To Kill a Mockingbird

Thing Two is taking a class on this classic of western literature. I got him the books on CDs in addition to the print copy. We read chapter one last week and today, during a marathon listening session while "cleaning" his room, Thing Two listened to Sissy Spacek read chapters 2-6. There was more listening than cleaning, but what's a logophile mom to do?
We also watched Hey, Boo, which is a documentary about the Nelle Harper Lee, the book, and the movie. It is really cool to see him enjoying the story. I got another book that gives some cultural background and historical context of the book which we've been looking through. Good stuff.

I love talking to the Things about what they are reading and seeing them develop a deeper understanding. Thing One just finished Heart of Darkness and we had some good talks about that too.

Having teenagers can have its downs but man, the ups are goooood.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A wee little rant

Make a freaking choice, people. 

America is lagging behind the majority of the developed and developing world in terms of educating our children. This is because we are more interested in coddling, fawning over, and awarding mediocrity in our offspring instead of challenging them, making them learn, study, and work, or pushing them in any way.

Early education is done in the least interesting and effective manner possible and students are passed from grade to grade without mastery of essential skills (I think school grades should be run according to the pirate code, "Him what falls behind, is left behind." and attaching age to grade needs to die).

We are turning out ignorant but confident idiots who are incapable of dealing with their own finances, the challenges of college and adult life, and who think glancing at the second page of a Google search should qualify as exhaustive research. Scholastic dishonesty is rampant, and some parents want it overlooked, but only in their own children. Football stadiums are prioritized over textbooks and school libraries are languishing un-staffed, and under-stocked.

Despite these obvious problems, many parents handicap teachers at every turn, making it impossible for them to challenge students or have reasonably high expectations. Most teachers that actually demands excellence of students can anticipate complaints from parents and school administration pressure to tone it down. As if that were not enough of a recipe for failure— then you have the clever policy of attaching teacher incentives to student testing results and thereby guarantee that the lazy, little dimwits are only ever going to be taught to a test because parents cannot be relied on to offer anything other than excuses for their children's ignorance and indolence, leaving teachers no support or recourse to deal with the disrespectful, inattentive, privilege-expecting laggards they are tasked with instructing. 
Oh, and don't get me started on class rooms, just check out this link.
We really need to get our act together people.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

In the sea, once upon a time, o best Beloved, there was a whale.

The weekly word, which I am tasked with choosing from among suggestions made by children, was sagacious. It was suggested because the child found it in a book, Just So Stories. This meant, no matter what other fabulous words had been offered, it has to win. 
Children must be encouraged to read the classics, you know.

Also, I have made a fire in my wood stove and I am drinking apple cider. We are having an absolutely glorious fall. Cool mornings, warm afternoons, and crisp evenings that make a fire sound delightful.

I made creamy tomato soup tonight. From tinned, diced tomatoes, chicken broth and whatnot, not from scratch, but still.... delicious with some crusty rolls for dinner.

I love fall. Bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils anyone? 

Monday, October 01, 2012

Monday, September 17, 2012

It's a major award! I won it!

I've been given one of those award/tag types of things by Cooper. Who had GREAT books on his list and also tagged Lime, and she had some of my favorite books on her list too.
Also, neither of them followed the rules (list 5 books) so I feel better about my inability to do so.



Here is my first choice.
 It is, um, a multi-volume poetry anthology, yeah, that's the ticket.
I still need to add a couple books to the set, but I am still pretty happy with it.That is book #1. 

Book #2 The Scarlet Pimpernel.
 This is a book my mom read to us at bedtime over the course of a month or so and it carried me away completely in a way that is hard to describe. I  was about 13 at the time, and loved this story beyond any comprehension.


Book #3 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

 Strictly speaking, I am referring to the first of the 5 books in the trilogy, but I find the entire set transporting. 


A non-fiction collection of essays might seem an odd inclusion on a list of books for people who refuse to live in the real world, but if anyone could write essays that transport me from the real world, it's David Foster Wallace.

# 4 Consider the Lobster


Lastly,
#5 The Baroque Cycle


Although this is classified as sci-fi it is some of the best historical fiction ever, and it is total geeknip (like catnip, but for geeks). If you are looking to be transported for a couple weeks, this is a great way to do it (each book is approximately 1,000 pages). Stephenson definitely creates a world for his readers, in all his books, and by the way, I really sort of wanted to include a couple others in this list, but decided to just go with this. Alternately, if this is just too geeky for you, you can get your transportation away from the real world time-travel-y style via Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.


I am not super into the tagging thing, but
if you want in on this action, consider yourselves invited.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The news

Mr. Logo has a new job, w00t!
He starts at the beginning of next month and will be doing the same  sort of work (process improvement).
This is a good thing because we need a new dishwasher, and new struts on his car, and a cord of firewood.

Thing Two and Mr. Logo are in a community play scheduled for November performances, it has a Thanksgiving theme. Thing One has been the most active actor in the family of late but with his 4 AP classes just getting started he figured he better allot plenty of time for his studies. 

He half-assed his summer AP English assignment thinking he was going to have the same teacher he had last year and could get away with it. HOWEVER, she moved. His teacher this year has a very sensitive bullshit meter and I am impressed with him. Thing One is regretting the lame effort he put forth this summer and feeling some  pressure to do well on his first paper. Mama like.

I am preparing to teach a class based on the book Mini-weapons of Mass Destruction 2. We will do a little discussing of the physics behind the weaponry but really, it is going to be a lot of building cool stuff. :D should be awesome.

I am also teaching a current events class... which should be interesting. If the parents come after me with pitchforks and torches I will have Mr. Logo post a nice eulogy. We are going to start out with a conversation about poverty and illiteracy around the world and especially here in the US.

I am also teaching an online literature and writing class with a friend. This will be our first foray into online instruction and this class is serving as our little lab rats. Not sure how it will go but I have high hopes.

ALSO, since the grand plan calls for Thing Two to head off to high school next year so I am starting the application process for the University of Washington Library Science program. I really hope they want me, I hope, I hope, I hope...


Friday, August 31, 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

RIP, Molly

Today is the birthday of Molly Ivins, who once said: 

"I am not anti-gun. I'm pro-knife. Consider the merits of the knife. In the first place, you have to catch up with someone in order to stab him. A general substitution of knives for guns would promote physical fitness. We'd turn into a whole nation of great runners. Plus, knives don't ricochet. And people are seldom killed while cleaning their knives." 
Regardless of your stance on gun rights, you have to admit that is funny. Knives, one must also admit regardless of the stance of gun rights, are somewhat impractical for hunting larger animals.

Of Bill Clinton she wrote—"If left to my own devices, I'd spend all my time pointing out that he's weaker than bus-station chili. But the man is so constantly subjected to such hideous and unfair abuse that I wind up standing up for him on the general principle that some fairness should be applied. Besides, no one but a fool or a Republican ever took him for a liberal." 

Of George W. Bush she said— "The next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the Unites states, please, pay attention."

Molly died in 2007 of breast cancer. She was 62.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I made this!

So, I likes the art.
I think we've discussed this.
I decided to take an art survey class about ancient art. 
It seemed like it would be fun, interesting, and educational. 
Yeaaaaaaaah...
well, turns out the very enthusiastic instructor is of the opinion that the best way to appreciate ancient art is to replicate it. I am entirely convinced but here are my efforts, by era.

Cave painting, a la French caves. 
Merde.

hieroglyph panel of spending eternity in the afterlife doing the stuff I like to do now, reading, riding my motorcycle (make sure you bury that with me) and playing around online. There are laptops and interwebz in the afterlife, yah?

Here is my version of a Greek vase using red-figure and black-figure techniques. 
 Here is my, badly lit, mosaic. It is possible I phoned this one in.
So there ya have it, everything I know about ancient art.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hyperbole is the best thing EVER!

Seen this lately?  I have. Researched it. This chart overstates and doesn't credit sources. *sigh*
The real US statistic is closer to half this one, which is bad enough. Why lie?

In other news,
Thing One and Thing Two are seeing the end of summer loom menacingly before them. They have new school clothes and fresh pencils. Soon, soon it will begin.

My dad decided to sell his house. My sister and I went to help him sort out my mom's stuff. It was quite a job. Her toothpaste and toothbrush were still in the bathroom drawer. Everything was exactly as she left it.
We also had to empty the whole house, and believe me, there was no shortage of stuff.
10,000 pounds went to the dump. 5 SUV loads went to local thrift shops, and we still have more to go.
That doesn't count the furniture, odd and ends, and 40 some-odd Rubbermaid tubs full of stuff dad decided to keep.

My bro-in-law is currently replacing walls, windows, toilets, flooring, and miscellaneous odd and ends.We are all headed over there to help paint this week, which should be the tail end of the prep. I am just hoping it sells fast.

My sister plans to move and the bro-in-law is going to add a little cottage for dad to live in. He will divide his time between my house and hers, and that is probably better for him in the long run, especially since home maintenance has never been his passion.

Also, Mr. Logo has been offered a job. That is a pretty good thing.