Affording It?

Really, how can my friends who live in an apt in Dallas, who are both divorced and not getting the money they were supposed to from their respective ex-spouses, who apparently sit around all day and golf and drink, buy a half million dollar house?

I would really like to know their secret.

Email weirdness

Does it make any sense that people send you email and say, “In order to ensure that you receive this mail…” and then they tell you what to do? If you didn’t get the email, you aren’t going to know what to do. If you do get the mail, do they not understand how annoying that is?

Be careful what you say on the phone.

A person I was speaking with today learned that lesson.

I had called her and been told I had to talk to person B. I called person B and talked to them. They said it was okay with them but the first person (A) would have to make the final decision. So B transferred me over to A. Apparently A’s phone said B was calling, so she answered this way.

“So, [my name redacted]”

I think I said “yes”

“What’s up with her? She is so rude. We’ve talked about her before.”

I didn’t say anything here. I was wondering if I should hang up, so that she wouldn’t be embarrassed to find out she was talking to me. But I didn’t think that would work. So I didn’t say anything.

Person A figured out maybe I wasn’t person B after all. “This is B, right?”

“No,” I said.

“Oh, I’m so sorry.”

“Ms. B transferred me over.”

“I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”

“She said that if there was room in the class, I could take it.”

“Oh, yes. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s at 4:30 today, isn’t it?”

“Yes, I’m so sorry. It’s at 4:30 today in [place redacted].”

“All right. I will see you there.”

“Yes, I’ll look forward to seeing you there.”



Person A has had me in a class before. I have never been intentionally rude to her. I didn’t know I had been unintentionally rude to her. She’s a very smiley, nice person. (Which now makes me wonder if she’s a total fake, having been on the receiving end of gossip about myself.)

I don’t believe I have spoken to her in person more than twice in the class before.

She didn’t impress me as a teacher but, though I mentioned it to friends, I did not talk to anyone at the college about it.

So I don’t know what she thought I did that was so rude she would have multiple discussions with someone I don’t think I have ever even met, but…

I guess I will apologize to her in class tonight. I certainly did not intend to do anything to upset her.

She probably didn’t intend to do anything to upset me either. She certainly had no intention of telling me to my face I was rude. But she has upset me. And I’m sure she is embarrassed herself and not too thrilled that I will be in the class with her this evening.

Oh well.

… I wonder how many other people she has talked to about my being rude. I don’t know person B. Maybe everyone on campus who knows A thinks I am rude.

What do you do in a situation like this?

Update: At least it wasn’t as bad as this (prank) phone call gone bad. Mature content. Bad language.

Is Santa Claus real?

A young girl I tutor in reading asked me this question this week.

My boys didn’t grow up with Santa. I frankly told them that he was a myth and that we were Santa. They quietly kept the secret when other kids talked.

When my boys were older they told me their kids were going to think Santa was real because we had taken all the magic out of Christmas.

But that doesn’t tell you what I told Keyona.

I told Keyona that I had never met Santa.

She said of course I hadn’t because I hadn’t gone to the North Pole.

I also told her that a little girl named Virginia had asked a reporter that question and he had told her, “Yes, Viriginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

That made Keyona happy.

But my son pointed out that I was lying to her by omission. And I was, in fact, attempting to deceive her. I don’t think it is the same as lying though, but that may be because I did it and I don’t want to be a liar.

Backyard History

Musings on a different (for me) approach to teaching history and my plan for doing it this year.

My youngest is a history fiend. He loves history. He loves alternate history. He knows folks I’ve never heard of in history. (I was a history major in my undergrad.) And at the ripe old age of 13 he’s completed 11th grade American history.

My eldest thinks history is boring. History is useless. There is no point to history.

But he was excited about taking psychology at the college because “everyone needs psychology.”

Now, I grew up with a love of history. My father was a history major undergrad. (He didn’t recommend it. Said all you could do with it was become a bank teller or a lawyer.) And he loved history. He shared that love through stories and odd facts.

I want my eldest son to love history and as he prepares to leave the family nest and head out into the cliffs of college, I only have a year or two left to share my love for it.

So I have decided that we are going to try something new and different, for us, in our history class. We’re going to go backwards through time, first of all. I’ve never tried that before.

And we’re going to research things that happened in a certain ten years by asking people who were involved or alive then what they thought at the time. (I have done this before as a student. One of my teachers gave us an assignment on this. I found out that my dad had some contact with the shooter at the UT tower, a huge story in Texas, even if no where else.)

We’ll start with their parents. Surely there is something newsworthy we were involved in. And hopefully we can point them to other people we know who were involved. Maybe I’ll have them read the Mudville Gazette or one of the other military blogs I enjoy to help give them a sense of the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars. They could even write an email to several different bloggers asking the same question (which one I don’t know. They would have to formulate it.) and see what kinds of answers they might get.

Okay, maybe we’ll start with their Uncle M who saw the shuttle explosion on his way to work one Saturday.

They’ll have to interview their grandparents on both sides. My folks were in school when they brought tanks to campus to quell riots. (I was there, but I don’t remember that.)

One set of great-grandparents is left. They’ve agreed to be interviewed by email. One was a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps. One they could ask what she sees are the differences between growing up as she did and growing up for children now. Or something else. Their great-grandfather wrote a self-published book, so they’ll need to read that to prep for the interview.

Then several of my aunts and uncles are older (into their 70s) and can be contacted about the family history. I have several geneaology crazy relatives. (Ours is even up on the net in two different places. One per side of the family.)

I’m related to Sgt. York from WWI. We can rent the movie, read the newspapers of the time, and do research. It’ll also be interesting to see if we can figure out just how we are related. (I’ve been told we are, but no one has told me how.)

There are several older people at our church who, I believe, would be inclined to give interviews if we knew the right things to ask them. (We’ll have to research those.) And it would be fun to visit with the older people. They leave our lives so quickly.

So we are going to look at history as it was lived by people we know. They can interview my uncle about occupied Japan. And AB’s mother, who is Japanese, and the same age or a bit older than my uncle. My other uncle was in Korea. I don’t know if they can interview him, but we’ll see.

Maybe we could, if I am braver than usual, go to the VFW post and talk to people there. But I’d want to learn about the wars with the boys first.

My Oma is 96. She’s been around a long time. If we get to it soon enough we could interview her about her life. Maybe we should start with her.

And her daughter visited all around the world with her first husband. She remembers when Lebanon was a beautiful country and had some of the best universities in the world and she was thinking they could stay there and raise their children.

I don’t know if we know anyone who chased Chinese spies, or if the internet blogger we have heard of who did that would be appropriate to contact because of his blog content, but we could widen our study of history that way.

Maybe, if we go far enough back, we could watch Monty Python and the whole “Bring out your dead” skit for the black plague. “Ring around the rosie” anyone?

What is my philosophy of history when it comes to education?

It’s not just dates and numbers. Real people lived their lives and left their marks on the world in those dates and numbers. If the people become real to you, the events will live in your mind. Explore the things that you find interesting in much more depth. And then put it in perspective with some simple study of the times around it.

Maybe things we’ll touch on:
what were people doing then for leisure?
What were people eating then that we don’t eat now?
When did the person you are interviewing first notice that the world it was a changing?
What household item was introduced during their lifetime? (My dad remembers refrigerators. My great-grandparents-in-law remember running water inside.)

If you have any suggestions that you’ve tried in this arena that worked well, I would love to know about them.

Rapping Apple Software Writer’s Knuckles

(I had some other title, but I figured my husband wouldn’t read the post as it was. So I came up with that title, which is accurate, but much longer than I had originally intended.) Language Log has a post about a dialog box that pops up on the mailer and isn’t linguistically coherent. What happened to Apple’s “intuitively obvious” responses?

And, also on Language Log, a response/explanation for the poorly written dialog boxes.

Watching TV

Sometimes even watching true programs, like “Get Color,” can lead one to imagine things that are not true. How much money do those people have to agree to spend?

Just two days ago I was watching several Tivo’ed programs. And the hostess of “Get Color” mentioned that the floors were done in jatoba wood. It’s an exotic hardwood that darkens as it ages. I thought it sounded great. Jatoba apparently is a fancy word for “Brazilian cherry,” which is also beautiful sounding. And at $4-8 a square foot, it ought to be beautiful.

So those people spent, I don’t know, $5000 on their floors alone. And they painted, got accessories, new furniture, new windows… How much do they have to have? I don’t know. But it must be a small to middling fortune. Like maybe two or three years worth of insurance payments.


I have finally decided that the all-knowing they are just flat out WRONG. Look here on June 4 and tell me if you’ve ever looked like that when you’ve had gas. I’ve never looked like that from gas. So why would a baby?

While you are there you could read about Keith’s travails with his cancer and their joy in their son. And pray.

Memes: from Boudicca’s Voice

I like memes. Most people don’t tag me because I read a lot more blogs than read me. (That’s okay. I am a prolific reader, even if I do say so myself. Doesn’t make it less so.)

There have been two recently, among my daily read blogs, that I was interested enough in to want to do. I don’t want to make this the 18th blog entry for Flag Day, so I am going to save it and continue editing tomorrow, which is when I will probably actually finish this blog entry.

Drats. I published, rather than saving. Drats.

First, though, Boudicca’s Voice caught my attention because the meme she was answering came from Practical Penumbra. As far as I know, I’ve never read that blog- it wouldn’t come up for me when I tried to access it via the link on B’s- but I just reread all my words of the day and “penumbra” was one of those words. It means, for those of you who have not just refreshed your dicitonary in the search for it, the outer gray area of a sunspot, some other thing, or, the most likely use for anytime you will read it outside a science journal, an inconclusive or unclear area within some specific arena of thought/discussion.

I like it as a word, though I’ve never used it in a sentence and am not sure I could. And I like it as the title of the blog. It was thus that Boudicca’s most recent foray into memedom caught my attention.

5 Things in my refrigerator

A container of delicious homemade pasta e fagouli (sp?) soup made by my husband’s best friend’s mother. (Yes, I should have been a dwarf.)

A box of week old pizza, handtossed cheese and tomato and pineapple pizzas.

A container of Promised Land 2% milk

A key lime pie with one tiny forkful removed after three days in the fridge. (No one here eats Key Lime pie, I am afraid. Can I virtually send it to anyone? Or would Euphoric Reality like to come north and east and pick it up? It’s not related to your flag day post, which was excellent, btw.)

Cut up veggies, brought for the vegetarians in my family, who grazed only as much as they were required to. But I thought I might eat some later, so they stay.

5 things in my closet

A red dress, short with short sleeves, that my husband and my sons bought me about 8 years ago after shopping every single minute the mall was open without complaint or whimper and remains one of my favorite dresses for the story behind it. (Think of it. A six year old and a five year old, in the mall, for nine straight hours! It’s a miracle itself. I could probably sell it on ebay for thousands…. Okay, let’s not get carried away.)

A wild pair of red slippers that my husband purchased because the hospital said I must have crepe or rubber soled shoes and we were already gone from the house.

A beautiful pink and gold Thai -scarf?- that my mother bought me while she was in Thailand with my father several years ago. Then she bought me a dress to match it later.

A red sequined no sleeved top which I’ve worn to a UofH fundraiser and a Goth Ball and Goth Fashion show. (It is so not goth. But it is red.)

A bunch of black clothes, because, despite the items above, black has been my staple, my prime color of choice in the last 20 years of dressing.

5 things in my purse

A package of currants, slithered almonds, and parmesan cheese. Because it was too much effort to take it back to the fridge by myself. (I’ve sat in the chair all day today, 12 hours now. And, yes, I’ve gotten up, but sometimes it’s worth it more than other times.)

$50+ dollars, because my eldest a)came home from camp and returned the unused portion of his spending money and b) had my husband pick up the latest Mario Brothers for the DS and so needed to pay us back. I’m rich! (I can’t go anywhere to spend it with this catheter thing, but I’m rich!)

A small beige baby comb which I occasionally use to tame my recalcitrant sons’ recalcitrant hairs. And which, upon a rare necessity, I use on my own fine hair. I don’t know which son I got the comb with (No, they don’t come equipped at the hospital.), but I dare say it was son number 1 since son 2 came along 14 months later and, except for a bib with his name on it, and an additional set of pink, white, yellow, and blue towels in a different pattern that my mother bought for us for his arrival, I don’t think anyone gave us anything. What could we need, one son so quickly after the other? (Answer: diapers, wipes, formula)

An empty checkbook. We used the last check to pay the hospital.

And a black change purse that looks quite dour in my tweedy, weedy, white purse that I bought when I decided to out myself from black.

5 things in my car

A large, golf size, umbrella

A hot pink umbrella

A small child-size umbrella, red with a doggie face handle

Several maps, but none of the state in which we reside.

A CD of love songs from my wonderfully romantic husband.

And thus we come to the end of Boudicca’s meme. I enjoyed it. Feel free to acquire it yourself, if you would like.

Or not.

Fake Police

Three armed men posing as police officers tried to make their way into a home near Memorial Park but the homeowner fought back.

Police say that around 3am Monday, three men walked up to a home on Kiam near Arabelle and started banging on the front door claiming they were police officers. Someone in the home fired a shotgun at the men outside and then one of the men outside fired back.

This took place in Houston.

from ABC Local

Exactly how do you tell the difference? I certainly don’t want to shoot police officers. I’m fairly sure that any police department is going to frown on that. And I don’t want 6000 Houston police mad at me.

But I also don’t want fake police getting in my house.

6 Degrees of Meme

Andrea and Ron (and I wonder who they are) have a new scientific experiment going (which sounds fascinating), here’s how it works: (But it only works if YOU participate. Please consider it.)

There is a game known as ‘6 Degrees of Separation’ (from Kevin Bacon). The way the game works is to try to connect 2 famous people via 6 associations. We have been watching the blogsphere for the last year or so and believe that nearly all blogging homeschoolers will hear about important news items, etc. within 3 days of the first mention in a HS blog.

This experiment will work as follows:

1- If this is the first blog in which you have seen this post and you would like to contribute to the experiment, copy the entire post and post it in your blog.

2- Modify the post to add a link to your blog which displays the appropriate degree you are from the original in the following list:

{original, first degree, second degree, third degree, fourth degree, fifth degree, sixth degree} (I think. I would assume RG got it from A&R.)

That way, visitors can directly see the chain of communication that ended with this post in your blog.

3- Leave a comment in the blog where you first viewed this post indicating that your blog is among the next degree.

4- If you are a homeschooler or are interested in/considering homeschooling and either do not have a blog, would prefer not to blog this or the sixth degree is already taken, you can still contribute to this experiment by leaving a comment in the blog where you first read it.

5- After 3 days report back how many people read, commented and blogged based on your post to the blog where you first read this. (They only report this blog would receive is from the degree below and this blog will report the total from below and comments here to the degree above.) To illustrate how this would work let’s suppose that in this imaginary example every blog has approximately the same number of readers and that each blog entry for each degree ends up with exactly the same number of comments.

Let’s say that each blog would receive 2 comments where the experiment was posted and 2 comments from non-bloggers. This would produce the following:

original: 2 + 2 = 4
first: ( 2 * 2 ) + 2 = 6
second: ( 2 * 4 ) + 2 = 10
third: ( 2 * 8 ) + 2 = 18
fourth: ( 2 * 16 ) + 2 = 34
fifth: ( 2 * 32 ) + 2 = 66
sixth: ( 2 * 64 ) + 2 = 130

That totals 268. If you change the number of experiment posts to 3, the result is ( 5 + 11 + 29 + 83 + 245 + 731 + 2189 = ) 3293. Consider what the number would be when we average about 60 readers a day. (Welcome to math 101) Let’s allow a week for the reporting to roll back through the earlier degrees.

FYI: The original for me was Roughcut Gems who has a new design on her blog.

I like this sort of thing, so I tend to do it. It will be interesting to see if anyone picks it up from me and where it goes if they do.

Knowing Your Beloved

Given a list of desserts, could you pick your beloved’s top three?

For instance, what would your man or woman like the best out of these?

New York Style Cheesecake
Strawberry daquiri cheesecake
Italian cream cake
Bananas Foster cake
Key Lime Pie
Rum Pecan Pie
Dark and white chocolate mousse
Creme Brulee
Warm apple tart
Crepe souffle

Do you know?

How do you say Thank You?

I’ve been trying to get stuff together to send soldiers who have been injured and are at Walter Reed cards. I’ve almost got three per person. I’ve sent some and will send some more today. That’s not enough. But I don’t know what else to do.

Then today I took my car in to get the headlight changed. They did it and wouldn’t let me pay them anything. I told them you pay for expertise and I brought it in so they could fix it. They said they did and wouldn’t charge me for it.

How do I say thank you?

ID and Genesis 1

I’ve been talking to a friend, who is a scientist, about creationism and evolution. Honestly, I don’t have much of a background in the areas necessary to cover this. I think I read a really long and involved blog post about the topic about a year and a half ago, but I have no idea who or where.

However, today I read an interesting little snippet from JunkYardBlog.

The most mystical thing it says is verse 1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Then it proceeds to a detailed progression, starting from formless and void and culminating with a life-bearing planet and its human inhabitants. The language there is a marvel, too. Formless and void, just like star-forming regions in space. Take a look at the nebula 30 Doradus. It’s a typical star-forming region, without discernable structure, a roiling cauldron of gas and dust and vapor. It is, as Genesis plainly says, “formless and void.”
In verse 6, an “expanse” is formed, and from that the earth eventually forms. The Hebrew word for expanse is raqiya, which means “to beat out or spread out,” and the intended mental image is of something being beaten flat out like pizza dough tossed in the air. The reigning scientific theory of planet formation today holds that planets form in disks of dust and material that spread out from a cloud with a star forming at the center—raqiya in action. The Genesis text is more than 3,000 years old, yet it shadows the latest science.

Genesis 1 also mentions water several times, and we now know that the Orion Nebula, again a fairly typical star-forming region, is chock full of water vapor—enough to fill the earth’s oceans every minute for 10,000 years according to some estimates. And the progression, from plants to sea life to birds and land life and finally humans, is remarkably similar to the sequence you’ll find in any science textbook. It’s not a perfect match, at least not yet, but consider who got there first.

I still wish I knew more, but this is a good start.