Time Management

R was telling me about a guy who is taking cat naps throughout his day and working through the night continually. Apparently it is working for him. Since I have trouble sleeping anyway and have developed brain seizures because of it, I don’t even have a desire to try it.

But today he was telling me about the guy’s college. He went for three semesters and graduated with two degrees. Since you have to have 120+ hours I wonder how he did that. Of course, if he went somewhere with CLEP acceptance, he could have clepped out of his freshman year.

R also said the guy would do all his assignments in batches. If he had five math assignments, he’d do them together. (Do math teachers assign lessons like that?) If he had a research paper he’d take the time on the weekend and do it all at once.

I remember the last time I was doing stuff like that. In college I had an assignment that was supposed to be turned in sometime before the end of the semester. I didn’t want it hanging over my head. So for four solid days, whenever the library was open and I didn’t have to be in class, I was in there working on the assignment. This was before computers, so I was writing a lot and reading a lot. And I read exceptionally fast or I’d have had to have many more days. Anyway, when it was done, I turned it in. Bad choice. The teacher didn’t think I could have done a good job in a week. And the writing put so much strain on my arm that I had to carry it around for the next month because it hurt too much when it was hanging at my side.

Now I’m not quite so insistent on getting things done beforehand, though I try not to wait so long that I can’t do them well. And I think that experience is why.

Christmas is Coming

In case you didn’t know. So, as we get underway with our annual neuroticism (about who can say what to whom about this certain time of year), “Merry Christmas.” And “Happy Holidays.” And “Happy Hanukkah.” (For those of you Christians who think that’s a silly holiday, please note that Jesus went to Jerusalem for the “festival of lights” -which was Hanukkah.

“Oh come let us adore Him.”

Euphoric Reality has Larry the Cable guy reading, “Twas the night before a non-denominational winter holiday…”

Even though the tradition I grew up in did not celebrate Dec. 25 as anything other than a secular holiday, it is as a Christian holiday that my boys have always celebrated the day.

And, as mentioned to me by The Anchoress, we are now in the season of Lent. Sunday was the first day of Lent and I missed it.

Touching Story

Found at NOLA.com.

The Kireka slum clings to a stony hillside above Kampala, Uganda, home to at least 5,000 impoverished refugees who live in hand-fashioned shelters bordered by outdoor latrines. The hillside is not only home, but work: Strip quarries line its face. Men dig out its larger rocks, while hundreds of women spend their days in stooped manual labor, pounding the rocks by hand into walnut-sized stones for sale as construction material. They earn about $1.20 per day.

So American aid worker Amy Cunningham could scarcely believe it when she was summoned to Kireka last month for a festive celebration in which dozens of women handed over nearly $900 in wages: their gift to victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

via The Buck Stops Here

The problem, as I see it, is that these women who are always poorer than anyone in the US think that they need to give to these folks. It’s not that I am upset that these women are givers. I am not. They just don’t need to be giving to Katrina victims. Maybe the Katrina victims could collect for them.

Note: On of our Venezuelan missionaries, a Venezuelan who lives on $800 a month with his family, sent $400 and I was awed. I am also awed by these women. I just think that sometimes we in America forget how rich our poor are. Most of them. I know that there are some people who don’t have food and clothes, really, who are out on the street through no fault of their own. But for most (99% at least) the government offers options and charities often contribute options as well. Those women working for a buck an hour don’t have options like that. They don’t have FEMA giving them $2000 cards. They don’t have a cruise ship docked to take them in. And I think that we see their giving as an “ahh” moment, not an “oh my goodness, what have they done?” moment. It’s as if you saw someone who was hungry and you gave them an entire month’s salary, or a year’s. I don’t know about you but I don’t have that much money saved and the idea that these people are willing to part with what they need to eat, to give to people who are eating just fine, pops a bubble of illusion.

Grading Research Papers

I was totally underwhelmed with the grades the students earned on their research papers. They rewrote and they still weren’t that good. Overall their work was substandard. I don’t think anyone made as good on the research paper as they have made on any other paper. Now, it is true the research paper was twice as long and required quite a bit more research (hence the name) but we also had three times as long to work on it and I offered to read and correct first drafts. Also, the rewrites would have been much better if the students had fixed all the problems I pointed out the first time.

I hope their new papers are better.

US Debt

Have you been concerned about the US debt? It’s growing, they tell us. I have wondered. But since I can’t do anything about it, I’ve pretty much ignored it after thinking about it.

Political Calculations has a graph showing the debt vs. GNP.

The national debt is going up but “…an important factor to note is that this trend has continued to the present day as the pace of economic growth has generally been greater than the growth of the nation’s debt.”

Anti-Choice Feminism

is the title of an entry on Joanne Jacobs’ site. It deals with a book about women who chose to stay home with their kids. The woman writing the book was dismayed to learn that women with good careers left them to be a mom.

I am a mom. I am also highly educated. And I primarily work at home with my kids. I am employed part-time, but I haven’t always been. Most of the time since my children were born I have been at home with them.

Was that a sacrifice? Yes.

Was it an opportunity? Yes.

Am I looking forward to going back to work full-time? Yes.

Would I do the stay-at-home thing all over again? Yes.

I think that we women do have an incredible opportunity in that many of us have a chance to be at home with our children. The days when they are young and want to hang out with us are fleeting.

My husband would love the opportunity to stay at home with our children. But because his job makes so much more than mine would if I went back to work full-time, he’s still working. I hope that he’ll have an opportunity to do something else when the kids are out of college. (Ten years from now.)

Books I’ve Read: Autobiography of Santa Claus

I bought this revision in hard back at Virgin while in Disney Downtown on Sunday. I had finished reading it by the time we arrived at home Sunday evening. (I am a very fast reader.) The book was a quick read, but had meat to it.

The book tells the story of Saint Nicholas, starting with his real life and going through all the world as Christmas has spread. If you want to learn the history of Christmas, this is a good book to start with. While it is clearly fictional (not only St. Nicholas, but also Attila and Arthur end up living forever), it is historically fairly accurate. You get to meet people from many centuries and walks of life- Charlemagne, DaVinci, Columbus, Theodore Roosevelt… It was a fun book with some good characters in it. The author used the term “magic” happily, while avoiding the use of “miracle,” which I was sad to see. And the main character is clearly a Christian, although the presentation of Islam is quite positive. It’s a fun little book, as long as you realize it’s not much more than a fun intro to the history of Christmas.

I was going to say that you should avoid the hardcover, but Amazon has it for $13. That’s not bad at all.

Food Allergies

My mom has been hospitalized twice in the last three weeks with food allergies. We two are allergic to nightshades. That apparently explains my mom’s bizarre reactions to many medicines, because quite a few medicines are made from nightshades. What are nightshades?

The Allergy Society of South Africa gives this list:
Bell pepper
Cayenne pepper
Ground cherry
Melon pear
Potato (white)

I’ve never liked eggplant, cherries, pears, or bell peppers. I’ve always known I was allergic to tobacco. But potatoes, tomatoes, and cayenne pepper…. I like those- a lot.

New Life Journal includes hot peppers, such as chili and paprika.

That doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

But you can’t go to McD’s or Burger King and get a burger with ketchup or mustard. Ketchup, obviously, has tomatoes. Mustard has paprika. And forget the french fries. If your allergies are really bad, you can’t even have the onion rings, because they’re cooked in the same oil as the french fries.

What about Chili’s? Can you go there? Sure. But you can’t eat their salsa, their queso, the tomato basil chicken, the marinara sauce with their cheese sticks… I am not sure you can eat their sweet and spicy chicken bites either. (Whatever they’re called.)

So, Mexican is hard… You can’t have the rice, many beans include spices, and salsa and queso….. So forget that.

Italian is out. Unless you only eat the creamy foods.

American is hard. Burgers and fries. Out. Pizza. Out. Chicken, okay but you can’t have the honey mustard dressing to dip it in.

Most dressings have one of the nightshades.

It’s a lot of work to avoid nightshades. But my health would benefit from doing it and I don’t want to go where my mother is now. I’m going to have to do it.

What are the symptoms?

They range from burning sensation in your mouth, to closing off your throat, to not being able to get your muscles to work. They include what feels like shock therapy on parts of your body.

When I went off them for six months and then ate a meal with tomatoes in it I had a blinding headache and could not walk for about 12 hours from the pain in my back. (Since I’ve had the experience of being unable to walk four times before in my life, was hospitalized twice, you’d think that would be enough to get me off nightshades. But it wasn’t.)

Taking a Breath

Two weeks ago I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off because of the booksale. Then last week I was running around getting ready to leave for Florida and being in Florida for Thanksgiving. (That was very strange. Being there for Thanksgiving. I saw the members of my extended family for as long as 20 minutes in the whole four days we were there.) Then yesterday R’s car broke. So he took mine. I walked E to school, came home. Walked M up for his drama practice. Waited. Then E, M, and I all walked home. It’s a half hour walk each way, which isn’t too bad. But it ate up two hours of the day, plus the two hours we waited for M.

Today, even though I had to take R to work, I’ve gotten my grading done, cleaned up the kitchen, and have had time to sit downa nd read. It’s been great. I am so relieved to have some down time.

One of the things I am thankful for this year is that I have the energy to get done what needs doing. I was also very thankful that terrorists didn’t bomb Disneyworld while I was there. (Yes, I thought of it. Big American holiday. Big American tourist attraction. I thought of it. Glad they didn’t do it.)

Christmas for Soldiers

I went running to the post office (along with half the people here) on Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I mailed off six packages. Five to Marines. One to a soldier. I wanted to make sure they get there by Christmas.

Some Soldier’s Mom says that Dec. 2 is the last day to mail. So there is still time. Also, on November 27 she has a post about stuff to send. It’s got a great list.

However, I have been told that unless you personally know the soldier, they aren’t allowed to eat any homemade goods you send. So don’t waste your time and their sorrow with having to throw away those great cookies. Just don’t send them.

If you are wondering if folks need your package, even when it’s not large, the answer is YES. One of my friends has a son who is a Marine in Iraq. He says he is the only one in his unit getting mail at all.

Why? Well, one of my girlfriends was engaged to a Marine. (He died in a car accident in the US.) But he came from a family who could only afford one pair of shoes for their kids at a time. When he got in the Marines he sent her a picture of his locker with three pairs of shoes in it. That was his pride and joy- being able to afford three pairs of shoes. It took his parents almost a year to pay for a stone to mark his grave. … I don’t know about everyone, but my guess is lots of folks in the service don’t have families or don’t have families who can afford to send them anything.

For example, those who are in the reserves and were called up may have left behind better paying jobs that their families were depending on. Now the family is having to scramble to make up the difference in pay. They might not have the cash to send anything.

But if you do, send it. You can get an address at Any Soldier.

If you don’t have cash, mail them a letter. Tell them you care.

God bless them all.

Roller Coaster

Four years ago we went to Universal Studios and Disney Quest (on severance pay) and had a great time. Our favorite things were the MIB ride and the roller coaster simulator at DQ.

This year we went to Disney. We went to Epcot, MGM, and Disney Quest. My favorite things were the stunt shows and Soarin’. Oh, and the good food we ate at Wolfgang Puck’s and the Marrakesh.

We also did the roller coaster simulator. I rode it three times, but the second time, when we went upside down 8 times, made me a little dizzy and left my inner ear a bit off. All day yesterday I felt like I was just off center. Today it’s a little like that too.

Maybe that’s why I quit riding roller coasters.

Reprisal of my last week

This last week has been a little (a lot) crazy.

Last Thursday I got a call from M’s drama teacher telling me he was supposed to have lederhosen for the play. Dress rehearsal was the next day.

Friday the booksale work started. I didn’t know how much work there would be, so I got two high school kids to come out and help.

Then Saturday it continued. And my mom didn’t pick up my sister from the airport. (She forgot, I guess.) Then my mom never left the house to come get her. My sister eventually took my car to drive to my mom’s. (An hour away.) We met my sister and mom for supper and then we went to church. After that we went by her house to pick up my car.

Sunday I got a call from my mom as we were leaving for Bible class. She needed stuff bought. So after Bible class, we left and went shopping for my mom. When I called her from WalMart, she was hysterical, sure that she and my sister were going to die because they hadn’t gone to church that morning. Mom didn’t get dressed for church, so it would have been a bit hard to go. Ten minutes later she called back calm as all get out. But she was in the back of the house listening to the birds while my sister was waiting in the car to be returned to the airport. … After my mom dropped my sister off, she met us for lunch. After I’d finished, I ran over to Men’s Wearhouse to get her stuff and then came back. She left around 2:30. And she went home for a dinner party that she wasn’t prepared for. (We won’t go there since I was not involved.) And I went off to a new mother’s shower.

Monday all day was the library sale. In the evening we went to get my son’s computer which they said was fixed. (Turns out it wasn’t.) And I drove around town looking for suspenders, socks, tassels, buttons, and a hat with which to make lederhosen. While I was driving to a WalMart for buttons and tassels, I saw a beautiful shooting star. “Lordy!” I said. “God, that was beautiful.” Then I wondered if the shuttle were up. But it wasn’t. Thick lines, green sparks. The star went out in a blaze of glory.

Tuesday all day was the library sale. Until work. Then after work I had the evening off and didn’t do squat.

Wednesday morning at 5:55 I got a call from my father. My mom was in the hospital and needed me to go look after her. I was also supposed to tell him if he needed to come home from Louisiana where he is helping a widow’s house get rebuilt after Katrina. I had to take the dog to the vet’s so I didn’t leave until 9:30. I got there at 10:30, with flowers, and mom wasn’t around. She was getting an MRI. So I left to get lunch. My dad called and he asked me to pick up flowers for Mother. So I did. I stayed up there, running errands for my mom (including some stupid ones), until 5:30. Then I drove home and met my husband for dinner. I got to the restaurant just before 7. It would have taken me two hours to drive home because of rush hour traffic.

Thursday morning was the booksale for the elderly and the infirm. Then Thursday afternoon and evening I had work. I had forgotten to grade papers, so I was up early before the booksale grading. And then just before work I finished them.

Friday morning was school. And I finally got around to finishing the lederhosen. After school we ate lunch and then I went back to the libary to get ready for the sale. I was there for two hours. The sale was just starting as I left. I came home, got M, took him to school for the drama, came home, got dressed, and went with R and E to the drama. It was two and a half hours long and very well done. Some was a bit different, but it was all done well. My son got applause for his entry monologue. He was good. After that we went to dinner.

Saturday morning was the sale. I went and bought some more books, got everything started, and then left. (Lots of volunteers.) I’ll go back at 2. Right now we’re going to pick up M’s computer, again, from the store. It’s gotten a new hard drive and a new motherboard this week.

It’s been very busy. I will be glad for a few days to clean house and catch the boys up on school.

Tell Her to Stop Shooting Him

Knowledge is Power has a link to a 911 call in which the grama with the gun shot the intruder and then, during the 911 call, shot him again.

KiP says it’s hilarious.

I was appalled that the dispatcher, who doesn’t know the situation and is only listening on the phone, told the woman to tell her grandmother to stop shooting him. How does she know he wasn’t getting up? That he wasn’t a threat? A woman on a phone, far away from the reality of the situation, should not have been making judgement calls about whether he needed shooting or not.

Tell Her to Stop Shooting Him

Knowledge is Power has a link to a 911 call in which the grama with the gun shot the intruder and then, during the 911 call, shot him again.

KiP says it’s hilarious.

I was appalled that the dispatcher, who doesn’t know the situation and is only listening on the phone, told the woman to tell her grandmother to stop shooting him. How does she know he wasn’t getting up? That he wasn’t a threat? A woman on a phone, far away from the reality of the situation, should not have been making judgement calls about whether he needed shooting or not.

Operation Steel Curtain

A’s still in Al Anbar. In fact, he was supposed to be leaving this weekend, but he’s been extended through the election. (Dec. 15.) Please pray for him, for his folks, and for his wife.

The Marines are in fierce fighting, from what I hear. I’m not quite sure how it works and I know I never want to be able to personally understand it.

New Animal Found

Well, it’s not new. It’s fossilized. It’s related to the crocodile. It’s 13 feet long and has 4 inch interlocking teeth. Live Science has a computer rendering of the animal dubbed “Godzilla.” See a pic from National Geographic here.