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Pennsylvania, United States
What changes hath time wrought...mostly a different hair-color, a few wrinkles and loss of short-term memory.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Acting Wormy

I'm finally getting around to reading Discover 100 Top Stories of 2010. (Thanks to an on-my-back-attack of the flu!) I'm on #63 and haven't read but one that made me go 'huh?': #12 Brain Map Shows You Think Like a Worm.

This is a photo of said worm: a marine ragworm.
This photo came from this site: http://www.nordicphotos.com/EN/Details/1367832

What made news is that the ragworms' clump of neurons inside this little guy's head is "eerily" similar to our brain's cerebral cortex!
Our cerebral cortex is associated with the higher brain functions, as voluntary movement, coordination of sensory information, learning and memory, and the expression of individuality. The big news is we probably have a common evolutionary ancestor.

The more I read the more I think humans are so arrogant in their position at the top of the food chain. I am NOT a vegetarian but I still think all organisms deserve a measure of respect.

Hormonally yours,

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Today's Quotable Quotes

Our friends' thirteen-year old son to his sister, "Of course there's a Santa. You don't think mom and dad would buy us presents THAT expensive!"

My 5-year old son: "Initiate boob launchers." I knew Spongebob would be a bad influence! He has some movements that coordinate with that command, too.

Not sure what this animal is but he's sitting in an emesis basin and a rectal thermometer is lying across one end of the basin. The animal is being interviewed about going to the vet: "When they want to stick things in your rectum that just flies in the face of nature. Things are meant to come out of there and not go into it. ---Creature Comforts America Season 1, Episode 1. (That rectal thermometer was MY biggest fear when going to see a doctor as a child.)

These quotes are still making me chuckle...

Hormonally yours,

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Deck the Halls with Chips and Salsa

I'm enjoying some quiet time while listening to some Christmas music. My children and I attended a Christmas concert at my high school alma mater last night. It included singing and instrumental. It's been a while since I've attended anything there, but, I'm always amazed at the level of talent high school kids possess. And it's always a delight to hear something you've never heard before. One song was the title of this blog. I LOVE the music to this Christmas standard. I'm trying to locate a decent MP3 version of it. Another cutesie song was Good King Kong Looked Out. Here is a link to the lyrics -
- The ultimate touch was when the whole choir pulled out kazoos and hummed in harmony! It was so fun. Here is a link to the Virginia Beach Chorale video performance of this song.
I would say the high school group was as good, if not a touch better!

The auditorium was nicely filled, but not cramped. I had both kids with me, Jacob on my lap, when I heard a girl behind me say to her kids, 'There's Mr. McC. He was the choir director when I was here.' I tried to inconspicuously see where Mr. McC was because he was my choir director, also. Lo and behold, he was sitting in our row three seats away from us. Leaving Jacob behind I slid into the seat beside the former music director, tapped him and asked if he by any chance recognized me. Allaying any embarrassment at NOT making an ID I told him my last name. He remembered and even recalled my involvement in all the music programs- vocal and instrumental. Music was everything to me when I was in high school. I had a moment of dread that I didn't have any continuing musical achievements to share. But as the evening's program started and I returned to me seat I thought about the influence he and our band directors, Mr. E. and Mr. B. played in my life in my other musical endeavors.

My musical endeavors started during my early years of teaching in an Erie parochial school. I instituted my own brand of music into religion classes. Hoping to sauce up the routine of practicing songs for Mass I used a song from a District Chorus concert in which I'd been a part. It was an inspirational round. We did not have a music teacher at my first school so everyone was willing to participate. Grades 5-8 sang it for a meditation song.
As time went on I tried to incorporate 70s protest(?) songs into classes, pathetically strumming my guitar while the kids sang, Get Together, One Tin Soldier and You've Got a Friend, etc. I wrote and my classes performed several prayer services. The last one showing the principal's trust in me when I put modern music and dialog into the story of the passion of Christ. I only organized one performance after that and it was back to a more austere atmosphere as a student played the piano while the rest of the fifth graders sang Only a Baby Came. Where on earth did I get any knowledge or arrogance to think I could pull these things off? Mr. McC, who always showed me more confidence than I actually ever felt in myself.

Mr. E was the one who cemented my enjoyment of big band music. In my current favorite oldie, Little River Band's song Reminiscing, they mention "Cole Porter tunes...Night and Day..." I love Night and Day. I have a cassette Christmas In the Mood. Thank you Glenn Miller. I played the piano in our high school's Stage Band. I remember practicing the Tonight Show Theme on the piano over and over and still never feeling completely confident that I was playing it well. As a result I tried to play quietly. I still remembering Mr. E encouraging me to play louder! Playing the saxophone and piano in a group are two of my favorite memories of my school years.

Teachers don't always get the recognition they deserve. But it sometimes takes years for their students to perceive the influence of those steadfast figures . That includes parents, teachers, neighbors, bosses and unwavering friends.

The concert ended with the invitation of former choir members to come onstage/up front to sing the Hallelujah Chorus. I did not go up- two kids couldn't be left behind. I wasn't sure if I SANG it in high school. It seems to me I accompanied the choir on the piano. I did know the soprano part and sang it from my seat. The girl behind me was singing the alto part. She did pretty well, too! They asked everyone to stand up for this performance. I think this was the only thing that marred the show: it was next to impossible to see anything but the backs of the people in front of me! It would have been much better if everyone had remained seated.

Obviously it wasn't such a problem because I hadn't even considered it until I started writing this blog. Deck the Halls with Chips and Salsa. That's memorable. And sounds like time for a snack.

Hormonally yours,

Sunday, December 12, 2010

This is what the voters wanted?

I was just reading the Erie Sunday Times. I came across this AP article Obama: Tax Cut Deal Not Perfect--- http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hE7jEUWP7-iXGq3S8UUaJ6D8pNsQ?docId=33fab62999354f4293e374c55893b959 Go here to read the article in its entirety. I've been following it since the news broke of Obama's negotiation with Republicans to get this passed. This is exactly what mystifies me:

"Republicans support the plan because it would not impose higher taxes on the wealthiest, as Obama long had wanted to do. Democrats object to the pact on grounds that it is too generous to the rich.

Obama said the agreement will require that both parties accept some things they don't like. But he said the agreement will help the middle-class families that he and others have argued should be spared further economic hardship."

Who voted Republicans back into the majority??? I completely understand about fiscal responsibility. You should only spend money you have. And I do not have a Robin Hood Syndrome: Take from the rich to give to the poor. Simply put everyone, richest to poorest, has to do their fair share. There are no free rides. These tax cuts, according to the news articles I've read, began in the Bush (2001-2008) administration. It extended to the middle class, also. Which, being middle class, is nice. BUT, I'm probably in the minority- a bipartisan who believes what I get for my tax money is the best bargain of my life. How much would it cost me to support a small troop to protect my personal property and freedoms? Back to my question: is this truly what most Americans believe will build a strong nation?

In my opinion President Obama is on the right track but is constantly being derailed by corporate/industrial interests who can now legally donate to political candidates' campaigns. Yikes.

Damn, I tried to publish while this was saving and now half my blog is missing. Maybe that was fate telling me not to share what I was thinking today.

Hormonally yours,


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chef Blessings and Blunders

I love having a laptop stationed on my kitchen counter. Having access to thousands, nay, millions of recipes is very helpful when making dinner. My kids, 5 and 9, are extremely picky eaters. No longer do I make special meals for them as I once did; (and as my sister likes to remind me as my mother did for me! Gosh, I miss my mom.) The same for my husband who entered the marriage having only regularly eaten beef, peanut butter sandwiches and pizza. I admit as a kid I was terribly picky but now I enjoy trying new foods and usually find I enjoy them. Cajun seasoning, horseradish and garlic are flavors I savor. Veal is my new meat of choice. And I just bought Cornish Hens for our Christmas feast when my son just couldn't agree to duck. So I try to make a variety of foods. If they don't like it, fine, if they do, I usually faint. My husband always graciously thanks me for making dinner and says it was good. If his comment is "not bad" I know he didn't like it at all.

Tonight's dining adventure was veal scallopini. We'd had veal marsala a few weeks ago. Here's the link to the recipe I used. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Veal-Scallopini/Detail.aspx It was easy and I only had to buy some mushrooms. May I recommend crimini (baby bella) mushrooms. Even Tim admitted they were good tasting and he NEVER eats mushrooms. This took about 15 minutes to make. I wanted to put it over linguine but I hated to pull out my BIG sauce pan. So we settled for egg noodles.

Prior to starting to dinner I thought I would make some hard-boiled eggs to put on salads for dinner tomorrow. I think I'm a fairly intelligent person, but it took me a LONG time to learn and remember how to make hard-boiled eggs. I think I've mastered the two-steps and let them sit for 17 minutes after boiling and immerse them in ice water. So I'm not too vigilant about monitoring the eggs as they're warming to boiling point. I was watching Word Girl with the kids when I heard what sounded like gunshots in our kitchen. I ran out and looked around stumped for a few seconds before I realized MY EGGS WERE EXPLODING! Yes, the one KEY step to successfully making hard-boiled eggs is turning off the heat when the water boils! I had a lack of vigilance yesterday when making tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner: I left the kitchen while the tomato soup was heating. When I returned it had burned the bottom of the pan. Tuesday we had tacos and I put the ground beef on the lowest heat and ran my daughter to her piano lesson, less than a mile away. I then decided to make another stop. When we returned the meat was a crusty dark-brown on the outside and pink on the inside. I'm sensing a pattern here.

I guess my attempt at food variety has made an impression on my daughter. Here is her instructions for making Thanksgiving Dinner: I don't use wine very often, not sure why she thought that would be necessary?

Food warning: If capers are on the list of ingredients be conservative. I thought I would add a few more and they overpowered (whatever it was) I made.

Do you ever inadvertently add too much cream to your coffee when refilling and then keep adding more coffee as you drink it? That's what I'm doing right now. I recently read where your brain makes its own cholestrol and diabetics with low-blood sugars starve their brains of this necessary nourishment causing a brain-malfunction. Maybe that's my residual problem. I love to blame blunders on factors I have no control over. But, I've got to face it: I'm over 40 and these things start to happen- as the doctor I saw today likes to remind me.

Hormonally yours,

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Need for Name-Calling

You "protoplasmal primordial atomic globule."

What a fantastic insult, except, that it's truly descriptive of what we are. Does everyone call someone a name at some time or other? I frequently mutter "idiot" under my breath in reference to (not "reverence to") my husband. It's hard to tell sometimes if he's serious and I flat out told him the other day after an attempt to jest- a WEAK attempt, "You may be joking, but my first instinct is to think, 'what an idiot,' and that's what stays with me."

Certain words I just don't like to hear or hear other people called. Faggot is a word I despise. I'm not sure an opera singer could make that word sound pleasant. I'm still offended by the 7 words you can't say on TV- well, most of them any way. Bad words to my kids are words like: dumb, stupid, jerk. I'll never forget Sarah coming home from school in 1st grade and whispering to me that someone said a bad word. I was mildly concerned because any secret divulging stance is sure to draw Jacob closer. I almost laughed with relief when Sarah breathed the word in my ear: stupid. I've volunteered in Sarah's school and I've heard a lot worse; usually from a special needs child being towed down the hall. Nonetheless I believe there is some instinctual need to call another person an unflattering name. From a young age kids pick up on this name-calling they hear others using.

On an hours-long trip to Ocean City Sarah and Jacob began to call each other moe-ron (moron). Tim asked the kids where they'd heard that word and before the kids could answer I said, "Probably because you've called a dozen other drivers just that name!" Now, honestly, Tim and I like this word. Especially if we say it MOE- ron instead or MORE- on. We like to refer to our heinies as our BOO- tocks. Not sure why, exactly. The kids use this, too, and no one knows what they are talking about.

Now that I've introduced "butts" into this posting let me just say that my kids absolutely delight in calling each other something with the word butt in it. Buttface, butthead, buttcheeks, stinkybutt, bigbutt, goatbutt, any way of including "butt" in a compound word/sentence is very satisfying to them. In an effort to curb this tendency I introduced a list of names that would be acceptable for them to call each other:




The first two words are complements of two students I had, Megan and Dennis, (brother and sister) who would call each other those names. It amused me greatly.

We added the following word since the kids liked the PBS show Cyberchase so much.

For me the beauty in name calling is coming up with something so preposterous it's more humorous than insulting , you "protoplasmal primordial atomic globule."

Hormonally yours,

"...protoplasmal primordial atomic globule..." Gilbert and Sullivan The Mikado

Friday, November 26, 2010

Evergreen Hunting Season Begins

We always go hunting for our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. No license necessary to kill the poor, defenseless evergreen. The weather report predicted snow showers. So we dressed accordingly. This was my son's first wearing of long underwear. We all wore snowpants and were excited to be out in the first snowfall of the year. As you can see by the photo it was blue skies- freezing cold- but sunny. I think our tree is a bit compact. It's taller than my husband but I think we usually have one a couple feet taller. I found one almost immediately that I knew we would have to trim a foot or two off the top but was vetoed. Tim prefers to spend hours searching for the perfect tree- which we would do before kids. We always ended up selecting one of first trees we marked. I am by no means an interior decorator but I do have a good sense of space. Here's our 2010 tree:

Tim found this tree farm online: Renick's in West Sunbury. It was a bit farther than we usually drive but it was worth it. We had to drive to a field a half a mile away and hike through a field to the trees. Once cut the owners will twine it so it fit in the back of van.We prefer a Fraser Fir because of the short, soft needles and the limbs are sturdy enough to support large ornaments. (I don't think we'll get many large ornaments on this tree.) Usually it stays fresh for over a month. Last year we didn't have good luck with the fir tree. Needles were dropping a week before Christmas! But there were brown needles on it when we cut it down. That's why we had to find a new tree farm.

We found this carcass in our tree: It looks like a horseshoe crab shell! I've got evolution on the mind while reading Bill Bryson's *A Short History of Nearly Everything.

Back to the day's adventure: Af ter our tree was situated in the back of our van we turned the GPS on to find a nearby restaurant. Our GPS hates us. We don't always listen to its instructions and I think it holds a grudge and gives us bogus directions. Today we missed a turn, which would take us into the parking lot of a mall. We turned 100 yards farther along into the same mall. It kept telling to make a u-turn, which we did not do. Finally it told us to take the road out of the mall and onto the highway where we were suppose to make a U-TURN!!! It's been a long time since I took my driving test but I can't recall when it is legal to make a u-turn, if ever? We retraced our route and went into the mall the way the GPS had originally instructed and lo and behold there was the Texas Roadhouse to our left! We'd driven right by it!

We enjoyed our lunch- I highly recommend the Portabella Mushroom Chicken. It came with the largest sweet potato I've ever seen. We brought home enough food for the next several days. The weird thing was we saw our next-door neighbor there! We were 42 miles south of our homes and we ended up at the same restaurant at the same time. I think that's bizarre.

We ended up shopping at this mall (Clearview Mall) since we had a fantastic parking spot. We didn't purchase a thing there but since both kids were so patient they were rewarded with a sit in a massage chair. It's funny, neither child likes the kiddy rides where you insert a couple quarters and it throttles them about. They saw these chairs as soon as we entered the mall and they were hooked. If they behaved they could ride the chairs before we left.

We took a different route home: Rte. 8 the whole way! We did stop at a strange-looking place along Rte. 8- a large, silver, saucer-shaped UFO would be a good description. It was called Playthings Etc. We spent a couple hours there. They had some of the most unusual and interesting playthings. Sarah bought a whoopee cushion for Jacob for Christmas. They're a bit obsessed with those things. Although they call them "Whompie Cushions."

Twenty-nine days until Christmas. Something has happened to make time speed up. That's bizarre, too.

Hormonally yours,

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Behind Thanksgiving

I had planned to do a Thanksgiving acrostic using trivia from a book called Eating the Plates: A Pilgrim book of Food and Manners. I'm going to try but had some trouble doing a rough draft. So...if this in an incomplete acrostic, I apologize.

Tongue of ox- also known as neat's tongue; the 66-day trip across the Atlantic was a miserable one for the 202 passengers. These folks ate moldy cheese, dried peas, salty beef and dried fish. A large supply of ship's biscuits were stacked in huge piles. They were made of wheat flour, pea flour and water. They were flat and round, the size of dinner plates. They were also hard as rock. Their favorite meat was neat's tongue- dried ox tongue. The Pilgrims hated water and washed down their meals with beer, ale, wine, gin and brandy. Even children drank beer.

Holland first- The Pilgrims went to Holland first to test the waters of religious freedom. The Dutch treated them well and fairly. But the Pilgrims "thought the Dutch were more interested in money and fun than they were in religion." The Pilgrims were afraid their children would be adversely affected by their (the Dutch) influence. That was when they decided to travel to America.

Always hungry always cold. They left England September 6, 1620. Nothing like some cool air for your trip on the open ocean. It would have to be better than hot humid air!

Never changed their clothes the entire trip. All the passengers stayed in one room. The odor must have been Noxious.

Knife- everyone had to have their own knife. Adults were allowed to thrust knife into a cooking pot to spear a piece of food but children weren't to take any food for themselves. They could only eat whatever their parents handed to them.

Saints and Strangers- The Pilgrims could not afford the cost of a trip across the Atlantic. So they made a deal with a group of investors called Merchant Adventurers. They hired the Mayflower, and provided food and supplies. In return the Pilgrims agreed to give the Merchant Adventurers everything of value they found in America for 7 years. The Pilgrims would only keep what they needed to stay alive. The MA made the same deal with other travelers on the Mayflower. The Pilgrims called these other settlers "Strangers."

Good gravy my shoulder hurts this Thanksgiving day. I already had some trouble straightening my arm upward, but Friday I got a Tetanus/Whooping Cough Booster in same arm. Since I had had a tetanus almost exactly 2 years ago the nurse warned me I may have some muscle pain. Saturday was the worst, but after some soaking and massaging it seemed to be on the mend. Then on Monday what did we work on in Yoga? Shoulders!!! I could do everything while there without too much discomfort. But the next few days have been a bit iffy. I still cannot sleep on my right side. My complaint seems to lack Gravity next to the tribulations the Pilgrims went through just to avoid religious persecution.

Insects- Little insects like weevils, maggots and grubs chewed tunnels into the ship's biscuits so some Pilgrims preferred to eat at night in the dark.

Variety of schemes to trick the Indians- they would bury their dead at night so the Indians would not see the decimation of their population. All the healthy men would march up and down and fire their rifles with the hope the Indians thought they had a big army. They brought large canons from the ship and mounted them high on a hill.

Indians were surprisingly friendly. Samoset and Squanto assisted the new arrivals to plant crops. They also assisted in procuring a treaty between Chief Massasoit promising no Indian attacks.

Napkins- It was fine to eat with your fingers, grabbing food right from the pot, but you had to at least wipe your fingers before doing so. The Pilgrims had BIG napkins that they threw over their shoulder or tied around their necks. It hung down almost to their knees. You could use the napkin to grab pieces of hot food, too.

Guns made a tremendous noise which made hunting difficult. The guns were not very accurate, either. The Indians traded deer meat in exchange for beads and knives. The Pilgrims were thrilled; back in England only the richest people ever ate deer meat.

The Mayflower Compact was signed before the passengers were allowed to disembark. It said they would form a colony with "just and equall lawes for all." It makes me so proud that this was foremost on the Pilgrims' minds way back in 1620. The Saints and the Strangers were both Pilgrims now. They knew to insure their survival they would have to work side-by-side and compromise. After being cooped up for sixty-six days in foul conditions tempers were probably short. The fact that these people survived is a true testament to self-determination.

Penner, Lucille Recht. Eating the Plates: A Pilgrim Book of Food and Manners. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1991

*I just read this Mayflower reference: If your two parents hadn't bonded just when they did-possibly to the nanosecond-you wouldn't be here. Like wise for your parents parents and so on and so on. Continue further to the time of the Mayflower Pilgrims and you have no fewer than 16, 384 ancestors exchanging genetic material in a way that would, eventually and miraculously, result in you.
*This info comes almost word for word from Bill Bryson *A Short History of Nearly Everything p. 397

Hormonally yours,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Deathly Hallows Review (SPOILER ALERT)

Let me start by saying my review may be skewed negatively because of the terrible seats we had because I never imagined there would be a full house on a Tuesday after the movie had been out for 4 days! It will also be skewed negatively because I am very protective of the books/stories/characters. Therein lies the problem with this movie, as in all the previous ones:

The books/stories are so full. I understand the movies have to leave something out, but why add things that weren't in the book and are misleading to boot! Two instances in this movie just tick me off: again SPOILER ALERT.

1. After Ron splits leaving Harry and Hermione alone, Harry tries to cheer Hermione by DANCING with her. If you've seen The Goblet of Fire movie you know Harry HATES dancing and doesn't do it well. It also made it seem as if Harry was thinking of MORE than dancing. The books made it crystal clear with whom Harry and Hermione were in love but the movies always try to show a weird love triangle that never existed. Again, wasn't in the book, adds nothing to the story.

2. The ending of the movie was the pits. SPOILER ALERT If you've read the book you know that Voldemort was not able to command the elder wand he took from Dumbledore's lifeless hands because you have to win the wand in combat or be given the wand. Yet the movie showed him using the wand to send a lightning bolt/pillar of fire (?) to the sky! Again, didn't happen in the book and will seriously undermine how the end works out! Why will Voldemort kill Snape if he can manipulate the elder wand? The wand is rightfully Harry's and should only work properly at his command. I may have actually given this movie a thumb's up if it hadn't ended this way.

3. We took my 9-year old daughter (a Potter enthusiast- we read/she read all 7 books. That was a prerequisite to watching the final 3 ---4 since the last book was made into 2--- movies.) Sarah had seen the previous movies so nothing really frightened her in this film. We all jumped when Nagini jumped out, but we were only a row away from the screen. It was almost 3D! Of all the things to add we had a scene of Harry and Hermione naked in an embrace. No specific body parts were shown, but it was enough. This was when Ron had returned and was attempting to destroy the locket and Voldemort's soul tried to hurt Ron by showing him Hermione preferred Harry,which of course was untrue-- but tell that to the screenwriter (see complaint #1). I think Sarah wanted to ask about it but wasn't sure how/what to say. Just like my mother, I don't allow Sarah to watch things like that. So that was a bit of a shock for us both to see.

4. Sarah noted this change: Narcissa Malfoy had black hair with a gray stripe a la bride of Frankenstein . In the books it was noted a few times how opposite she was of her sister, Bellatrix. In the previous movie Narcissa had blond hair. Little changes like that are annoying, too. I think it showed that she had a tiny smidgen of decency left in her- that fact she was opposite in looks from the crazy chick, Bellatrix. (I was incorrect. I put in HP and the Half-Blood Prince and Narcissa did have the bride-of-Frankstein 'do. I'm sure she appeared in one of the movies with blond hair.)

5. I really wish Kreacher had had more screen time. In the book when he decides Harry is not terrible and wants to be helpful is so touching. And when he wanted to doink Mundungus on the head with a frying pan- priceless. I'm really surprised that didn't make it into the movie. Dobby and his little boots-in the movie- was so endearing. Sarah knew he wasn't going to survive this movie but she still had a little sniffle when it happened. I think I even choked up a bit. I don't know if those who haven't read the book will feel that way because Dobby though present in most of the books was absent from most of the other movies!

I feel the same way about the lack of Fred and George Weasley and their pranks and their attitude towards life in general. They made the books so refreshing when the content was heavy. I think the producers had to decide which direction they should take these films: action or drama (dramedy would have been my choice.) It sure looks like they chose action.

A nice surprise was Xenophillius Lovegood. (Not sure of Xeno's spelling.) He looked like Lucius Malfoy in the early movies. I would have casted someone who looked a bit crazier, but he was appealing.

Since we're nearing the end of the movies let me just say I think Rupert Grint was the best cast out of all the main characters. He looks and acts the part exactly how I imagined Ron Weasley in the book would act and sound. My favorite actor was the girl who played Luna Lovegood. I think she was well cast in looks and actions.

I originally was not going to see this movie. I'm glad I did, but will not be lured to the theater for the last movie. I can wait for the small screen showing. I'm anxiously awaiting Dec. 4 when Eclipse comes out on DVD.

Hormonally yours,

Monday, November 22, 2010


Last night I heard an add for an upcoming news segment on a Pittsburgh station: " You pretty much need a PhD to buy an HDTV. "

I thought that was humorous because my husband and I are at odds about a TV purchase. We have a high def TV and it's big, but I honestly do not get any more enjoyment watching that than I do our old nonHD TV. The big old set is in the playroom attached to a dvd/vcr player. (We still have videotapes we, our kids, watch.) So when he told me he found this great deal I thought that meant cheap. No. It meant it comes with all sorts of add-ons that I don't want! We only let our kids watch 2 hours a day, maybe more for a movie on the weekends. This great deal includes a Blue Ray player. We don't have ANY blu-ray movies. ( I just looked that up-what IS a blu-ray???) I don't think he even knows what that means. But, and this is the worst, it can play 3D movies. The price for the 3D glasses are $199.00!!!!!! Yes, that decimal point is in the right place. Supposedly it comes with two of them. So that means when we watch a 3D movie as a family the kids will be OK but Tim and I will be in danger of seizures! I'm not making light of that affliction I have no doubt but we could seize.

Tim pulled up some reviews of this leviathan for me to read. I agree with the news program- we need a training program for us casual, non-techinical viewers.

Hormonally yours,

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hormonally Yours

I think I should rename my blog to this. I did not coin this phrase. It comes from a couple of wonderful musicians known as Shakespear's Sister who used it for their album name in 1992. When I lived in Erie in the early 90s my friend, who lived in the apartment above me, made me a tape of some of their songs. I really like one called Moonchild and tried to find an MP3 of it. The best/safest way I could procure this song was to buy a used cd. It arrived a couple weeks ago and I LOVE IT! The songs from this album can be found on you-tube. 16th Apology sounds a lot like me (in the early 90s). I didn't start this blog to be about Shakespear's Sister but the title of the album: Hormonally Yours.

It made me think of other words I could change by adding -ally to it like Mormonally Yours. That was my first thought. I don't know much about Mormonism so I'm not going to elaborate on that one.

My husband's blog should be titled, "KidneyStonally Yours." Those are the nastiest little nuggets! He keeps them in a little plastic container. I have never asked him exactly HOW he catches these tiny daggers. I'm pretty sure the procedure is one I don't need to know.

My son, Jacob's blog would be "Cyclonally Yours." It's quite the phenomena how Legos end up spread throughout our playroom. I just thoroughly cleaned this room today and was mortified everytime I moved a piece of furniture and found more tiny Legos in dust bunnies -- along with a lot of other not-so-tiny toys.

My daughter's blog would be "PiaNOnally Yours." She plays the piano so well but is so stubborn about NOT practicing. She's been working on White Christmas for at least a month. She can play the notes but can't keep a rhythm. My attempts to help her are met with the evil eye.

I think I'm going to start signing my letters...
Hormonally yours,

Friday, November 19, 2010

What Does Gay Mean?

"What does gay mean?" my 9-year old daughter just asked me. I said it depends on how it's used. Use it in a sentence. "Some kids at school say Justin Beaver is gay."

Let's go back 90 minutes. We went to Pizza Hut because Sarah had a Book-It pizza slip she was in the mood to use. On the table there were a couple games to play to pass the time. One game was to name 3 things in 5 seconds. One was name 3 pets you would not like to have. Another was name 3 states that border the Pacific Ocean. I asked my husband Name 3 Rappers. I was pretty sure he wouldn't be able to name one. But before he even opened his mouth Sarah yelled, "Justin Beaver!" I furrowed my brow and asked, "What did you say?" Again she said, "Justin Beaver." I looked at Tim and snickered. I explained that I didn't think he was a rapper and was pretty sure his name was Justin Bieber.

Well, at home, Sarah and I were in the living room; Sarah playing on her new DSi and I reading Entertainment Weekly. Out of the blue she asks this blog's title question. After she used it in the sentence I said when people use "gay" that way they think they're insulting someone. She then asked if it meant he goes out with other boys. I said yes. It's probably meant to say Justin Bieber is not very macho.

My daughter is much more knowledgeable than I give her credit for...last Saturday night when my friend, Julie, and I went to see The Kids Are Alright I called a new babysitter, Olivia. When I told the kids who would be watching them Jacob, 5, asked, "Who's Olivia?" And Sarah goes, "She's hot." I laughed and told Sarah that girls don't usually call other girls "hot." Sarah reponded, "But she is! I know boys would say that about girls."

I think I was more disturbed by her use of the word "hot." (I think of Paris Hilton when I hear "hot" used that way---not a role model I'd choose for my child.) Sarah's been trying out a few new words lately. She's been using the word "sucker" frequently. I just asked her to try not to say that. It just sounds so trashy. But then again I'm a word-bully. I'm currently trying to get my kids to say,"affirmative" instead of yeah/yes and "prognosis negative" when their answer is no. So I don't know how fired up I should get about their vocabulary choice.

Back to the title topic. I was hoping to put off conversations like this for a few more years. Sarah has asked if she can marry her dad or her brother. Those questions were easy enough to answer without much detail. Jacob has more questions about babies and if it hurts to have them cut from the belly. I finally just said it's more natural for babies to come out where girls pee. Oddly, or maybe not, he seemed more squeamish by the belly cut then the other baby-delivery route.

I don't think I even knew what "gay" meant when I was in high school.

Justin Beaver

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Funny Pages Aren't Necessarily the Comics

A few months back I saw the most hilarious article in my hometown newspaper. (See clip above. If you click on it it's big enough to easily read.) Even rereading it today makes me laugh. He wasn't trying to resuscitate a fresh possum, but a 'long-dead opussum.' Oh, how I wish I could have seen this. This was a local (western PA) story. I wasn't terribly surprised by this story, just highly amused. Today's paper featured a story about a Wisconsin man shooting his TV. This is in The Derrick today- page 16. Maybe you can read it at http://www.thederrick.com/ The headline reads, Wisonsin man accused of shooting TV over Palin dance number (That is one long headline.)

Steven Cowan, 67, came home from a bar, had a beer with dinner then sat down with his wife to watch "Dancing with the Stars." ( A reality show meant to get your inner fire roaring.) When Bristol Palin began her routine the man, " jumped up and began swearing..." He left the room and "reappeared 20 minutes later with his shotgun, 'raging with his face bright red, and blasted the TV.'" I don't know exactly why I find this so funny. I suspect its the use of the word "blasted." But he then tells his wife to go "fetch" his pistols. Good Lord, what's he going to do with the pistols??? I imagine an old cabinet TV with a big, jagged, black hole where the picture screen once was. Is he going to use a pistol on the big ceramic rooster clock atop the TV? [The following is verbatim from the article.] According to the criminal complaint, Steven Cowan's daughter recently took away his handguns for safekeeping. It did not elaborate. " He scared the bejebees out of me," she told detectives. ---I'm pretty sure it's the daughter's "bejebees" word choice that's funny. I don't think I've ever seen that word in The Derrick.

The wife told officers that about 15 years ago her husband had threatened her with a machete when he couldn't find some ammunition and threatened to shoot one of their cows. ---Now, was he looking for ammunition to shoot one of the cows or was he just so mad he was going to "blast" a cow because of the missing ammunition? I just snorted as I wrote that. Obviously this man has some mental health issues and possibly the wife does, too, if she offered this story with no "I should have left him then" comment.

The Possum CPR story is still funnier, hands down. but this one has some chuckle charm.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Are We Better Off Ted?

I have a love/hate relationship with TV. Certain shows I love and most of the rest I hate. I read Entertainment Weekly and one of the things that annoys me about [entertainment magazines] is that I always feel they're trying to tell me what I should watch and what I shouldn't based on one or two critic/journalists' opinion. Sometimes they get it right- like Modern Family a delightful show- and sometimes the get it wrong- Hawaii Five-0. (Sorry, I watched the first show and liked it until the female detective character was introduced. And I don't think it was HER so much as her dialogue.) One show I had seen mentioned in EW was Better Off Ted. It was labeled a good show that no one was watching. They said the same thing about Arrested Development. Tried to watch that and just didn't like it. Well...

Being in charge of the Fundraisers at my daughters school sometimes includes lengthy, tedious tasks that I can do while watching TV. So I went to Netflix- which I love- and watched the first episode of Better Off Ted. It still makes me laugh thinking about it. Now, what made me chuckle in this first show was a bit of a steal from a Seinfeld show. [When Jerry ended up with Kramer's blood and then ultimately Newman's for a transfusion and he screams, then Kramer screams, then Newman screams. Still gets a LOL from me. I've noticed a few Seinfeld steals lately in shows.] I continued to watch and must say I've never been disappointed by one episode and I'm almost through season one. Ted, played by Jay Harrington, is IMO the perfect character. You can't help but like this guy. I've never seen him in anything else and this role seems tailor made for him. Portia de Rossi is perfect as his unscrupulous, soul-less boss. The two inept but genius scientists are played to perfection, also. It is certainly not politically correct but that's the premise of the whole show.

Today's moral of the blog: What you read, including this, is not the gospel truth. Just one person's opinion. Be open to trying new things and forming your own judgements. You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Long Time, No Movie

Well, my friend Julie and I went on a "date" last night to see a lesbian movie. I put date in quotes because that was her word. Her husband, who wasn't invited, noted her word-choice and ribbed her about it. The movie was The Kids Are Alright and it was showing (for free) at our local college campus, where my friend is currently attending. Julie had asked me a few weeks ago---while picking up my daughter at HER daughter's birthday slumber party--- to keep this night open to see it. I was surprised she wanted to see this movie. We didn't have time to discuss it any further. I had read reviews of it and knew it was probably going to have some Oscar nominations in its future so I was more than willing to see it. We usually chat at our Monday yoga class but she had missed the last two sessions and so I never heard what had drawn her to this movie. We were the first to arrive at the mini-theater and I discovered she thought this was a comedy. It was mildly amusing...but also poignant and thought-provoking.

I'll say this right out: I have no interest in what someone's sexual preference is. I don't judge anyone. I may be mildly curious about how one's life unfolds with someone of the same gender. But I feel it is not a choice but an inborn trait that cannot be vanquished. So I was wildly- I WAS going to write "mildly"- surprised when one female partner cheated on her mate with a man. I think that will be fodder for those who are homophobic and believe it is just people choosing that lifestyle. While the women in the movie chose to give birth to children through artificial insemination, they each used sperm from the same donor. This made their children biologically half-siblings. I think that is a good idea. What is thought-provoking is these children, now teens, wanted to contact their donor father. This is what makes the whole story for this movie. This is just one instance and of course the whole situation is contrived but what about those sperm-donor kids who do go looking for their bio dads and find them entirely reprehensible? How would that make that child feel? Would they worry that they could become like that person? Can nurture overcome nature? I certainly don't have the answers but I think those are points that prospective parents might consider.

The movie was so poignant because the love of parents for their kids was so apparent and embarrassing. Just as it truly is and should be.

The ending was terrible. Julie and I both felt the SD (sperm-donor) dad got a raw deal. The kids brought him into their lives and then deserted him. Mark Ruffalo was the SD dad and he was very convincing. Julie was a fan of his. I could only think of one other movie I'd seen him in (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). I just added some of his movies to my Netflix queue.

Now some more delightful movie news: They are going to make a big screen remake of Dark Shadow and Barnabas Collins is going to be played by...Johnny Depp. When I told my hubby they were making a remake I asked him to guess who would portray Barnabas. His response was, 'the guy who played Snape.' I scoffed, but thought, you know, Alan Rickman WOULD be a good vampire! I think Tim had Harry Potter on the brain. He and our 9-year old plan to see The Deathly Hallows Part 1 at the theater when it opens. I refuse. I'm a HUGE fan of the books and NO fan of the movies. I've seen---and we own---them all. But the last movie just killed my interest in them. I understand they can't put in everything from the book, but why add things that didn't happen in the book and adds nothing to the progression of the story? That really ticks me off.

On the subject of movies made from books I just watched The Golden Compass the other night/morning. (Couldn't sleep so the movie entertained me from 12:30- 2:00.) I read all three of Philip Pullman's books a few years back and was excited when a movie was being made. Then the reviews were mostly negative. I hope they ignore the critics and make the next two books into movies because the first one was a pretty dang good. I can't remember specific details from the books but the feeling from the movie reminded me of the feeling I had while reading the books.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The "Fat" Question

Well, my five-year old son threw me for a loop this morning when I pulled out his winter coat for the first time for him to wear to preschool. He put it on, zipped it, then asked,"Do I look fat in this?" It was a thick down jacket, and yes, he looked fatter than when he was NOT wearing it, but I'm not sure why he asked this question.

I do not think I have EVER asked this of anyone in my house. Before my husband and I were married we agreed on certain things I would prefer not to discuss with him. One of those things was my weight. And like a true gentleman, he has never remarked in any way but complimentary about my appearance. Sometimes he stays silent, but that is acceptable. We have very different tastes.

Now, my children, on the other hand are brutally honest. My son asked me, very innocently, to 'move my big butt,' one day. OK. After dropping 25 pounds recently he's now announced I no longer have the biggest butt in the house. Daddy does. I hate to say it, but that's very satisfying to know. He would even bring out a tape measure to be "accurate."

I just remembered...he had a buttock photo fetish, too. He was forever snapping pictures of butts! (Digital cameras have really raised the level of picture taking to an art! LOL) I printed one pic of my tuckus, put it in a frame and left it on his dresser. He was so mortified. Then he put it on his sister's dresser. (She contributed to his buttocks obsession by taking photographs of her grandpa's rear.) so she may have deserved the butt picture on her dresser, too.

The picture finally ended up on their dad's bedside table where it still remains.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Good Writer's Block?

It occurred to me the other day while I was on a walk that what authors write in their fiction stories may cause friction in their everyday lives. I've never written an adult fiction story but I have written some children's stories with my daughter and son and have some ideas for picture books I would also like to write and illustrate. In those stories my kids had a role. There could be no doubt they were part of the story. Things they did or said were included in the stories. I only recently thought about developing a mature novel. (I wanted to write "adult novel" but that sounded pornographic.) This is mainly because on reaching middle age I've started to reflect on my past and have started to revise bygone situations more to my liking. This should be harmless. No one yet can see inside my head to know what I'm thinking. But taking it a step beyond the brain and recording it on paper/monitor makes it "real." The friction begins when said spouse believes what is written is the truth, not merely a more interesting version of it.

I wonder how many romance novel authors get divorces because of what they've described in a steamy love scene? Is what they're describing what they're experiencing? If yes, then the spouse may feel pride in the description. If no, what are they supposed to feel? Humility?

I read The Divine Comedy several years ago and it always amused me how Dante Alighieri would put contemporaries in various levels of hell! I thought that was a funny prank to play on ass-ociates. But from my new point of view he must have pissed off a lot of people. And how did those folks in hell feel when they read the book? How about members of their family? Did they chuckle? Did they stew and carry a grudge? Everyone now and at the time understands it was a work of fiction. But still, to be publicly pilloried by an acquaintance? That's problematic.

So now considering what I would write in a story I'm curious how much is actual nonfiction in others' writing??? I used to encourage my students to "write what they know." I KNOW my husband would be suspicious. I think he is curious about my relationships prior to our first date. I was very lucky to have dated gentlemen ( yes, even at age 15-21 they were courteous.) who treated me with the utmost decency. I wouldn't change a thing about any of those relationships, even in my imagination.

In 23 years I've never given my husband any reason to BE suspicious. I've never been tempted to change a thing about our lives together. (Warning: the following is a reference to Stephanie Meyers' Twilight Saga.) Honestly, he IS my Edward Cullen. I never met anyone who I could imagine loving or wanting more. But Middle Age does funny things to people. I actually GET why people do weird things to recapture their youth, And though I still don't have any desire for anyone but Tim, a Jacob Black, from across the ocean, has crept into my thoughts. And it's this untested relationship (from exactly 2 decades ago!) that has me creating a story that absolutely did not happen! And it boils down to if I had been the person I am today- 20 years ago, and taken those risks I backed away from then, how would my life be different? That would be the fictional story. For the time being I prefer vampires over werewolves without a doubt. For the sake of my beloved maybe a writer's block should be instituted.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Big Brother Is Watching

I'm definitely channeling my mother. I don't let my 5-year or 9-year old watch regular TV shows. They watch an hour of PBS and The Clone Wars on Friday night. [TCW is thanks to my hubby.] They are allowed to watch DVDs. I'm opposed to regular TV mostly because of the ads. (There really isn't much on between 7-9pm that is child appropriate, either.) And not so much the adds for stuff but the adds for other shows that are on TV. Thankfully neither child complains because they've never known anything different. But how long can I protect them? And from what exactly am I protecting them? My mother was protecting our virgin eyes and ears and I think I'm trying to do something similar. I feel like I'm alone in my views.

At a party the other day I asked how old children should be when they get their first cell phone. I'd already had this discussion with my daughter when SHE asked me this. My reply was when she could afford to pay the monthly bill that came along with the phone. I was surprised at how young some of the other mothers' kids were when they first got a cell phone. I have a real problem with cell phones in the hands of adolescents. I don't think most kids have any idea of the repercussions of sharing an innocent/sinister picture of an embarrassing moment.

When I was in high school I was on the basketball team. It took quite a while for me to be comfortable even disrobing in front of other females much less showering with them. Then there was an incident involving some boys peering through open windows in the locker room after a practice. I was mortified! Now anyone can snap a picture at anytime. And once that picture is posted there's no removing from someone's brain. The utter lack of privacy is frightening. And I truly believe there is a connection between what kids are seeing on TV through "reality" shows, that allow cameras to view what should be extremely private moments, and what they choose to photograph and post online. It's funny how often I have these thoughts and an article in the Discover magazine supports my fears.

Discover asked a number of scientists where they thought science may take us in the next 30 years. Sherry Turkle, "a professor of the social studies of science at MIT," said it so perfectly. "We need to reclaim our private spaces." This generation believes that their privacy will be compromised but also believes that's the "cost of doing business in their world." So all the surveillance cameras, satellite photos, GPS and Loopt (I'd never heard of this but its an app for your phone which allows your friends to locate you wherever you are.) are not feared but cheered! It's so easy to see the convenience of these gadgets but is that what we really want? Big Brother IS watching, along with your best friends, acquaintances, colleagues...etc. For those of us who read Orwell's 1984 a few years BEFORE it was 1984 never considered this kind of constant benign(?) scrutiny possible.

I understand the entertainment value of Facebook and Twitter. I do enjoy reading about what people I know are doing. I don't post or read posts as much as I initially did. I realized that some thoughts should be kept private or blogged- where people who are truly interested can read them without taking offense.

I would love to get a Master's degree in Teen Privacy Issues and develop an educational course to restore independent thought. It's time to start considering career paths...my 5-year old will be starting school next year. I'm not sure I want to go back to the elementary school teacher role. My 11 years were so much fun but I feel...older...and should do something more philanthropic. Hopefully as I write more often I'll discover a direction to go.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

M...The 1931 Movie...Relevant Today?

We at the Teeter house finally succumbed to the lure of Netflix. This was prompted by friends who recommended it and the fact that the video store less than a mile from our house closed. We've enjoyed watching movies we would probably never have watched. I enjoy old, black and white movies along with foreign films with subtitles. I chose to watch M a German film directed by Fritz Lang in 1931. The movie's description cites it as the first "serial killer" movie. Yet I still watched it even after learning this.

What was surprising was how timely and relevant the movie still is! The last spoken words are "One has to keep closer watch over the children!" Then the screen goes black and these words appear in white, 'All of you!' My husband and I occasionally discuss whether child molestation took place as frequently in the past. He believes it was not as prevalent as it is in our "modern" time. I disagree saying we only hear about it more often. So I was surprised when this movie involved a child serial killer. You never see what he does to these girls and you only discover later- through the police- he has killed them. What makes the movie remarkable is WHO brings the murderer to "justice."

Since the police have no leads to the identity of this murderer they frequently raid the underbelly establishments of this unnamed German city. The criminals who run these businesses are losing money because of the raids. So they meet and decide to hunt for the killer. This is the most exciting part of the movie. They have a huge network of "spies" looking for a man who befriends a girl who is alone. And through this network they are able to trap the killer.

Once captured they bring the man to trial in an abandoned warehouse. It's quite a powerful scene. Oddly enough they provide the defendant with an attorney! And the lawyer presents a powerful defense! Nonetheless I personally am just disgusted and saddened when I hear about any kind of abuse of kids. That includes the "kids' who are abused by classmates/bullies. I don't think I am alone. Yet most of the audience has committed horrible crimes themselves!

Tim and I can usually find some common ground in our debate about the increasing numbers of crimes against kids. He did not watch the movie with me, but I shared the gist of the movie with him. He wasn't nearly as amazed as I was by the message in this 1931 movie. I think if this issue was important enough to make a movie about in the 1930s it was probably an important issue in reality.