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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.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Yoga Journal- Heart Wide Open

I wanted to make sure I had access to this at anytime so it's embedded here :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Education and the Production Line Mentality

I haven't posted for quite a while anxiously anticipating returning to teaching (substitute) now that my son will be in full day Kindergarten. I have to get 30 hours to re-activate my teaching certificate and am using the PDE's free classes to do this. This video was part of one of the classes and it reminds me how exciting teaching can be. Standards are OK as a skeleton but not as the driving force behind every aspect of a child's education.

This video is so good.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Video Chuckle: Boys Will Be Boys

I laughed so hard the first time I saw it.

Yep, it still makes me laugh. I had to search through several videos to find one without commentary!

Hormonally yours,
Peg

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Letters FROM Legislators- The Good News First

I sent all state senators and Republican state representatives (I'll explain why only the GOP in a moment.) the letter shown in my blog (on March 30, 2011) on Sunday night, April 3rd. I was surprised, pleased, and relieved to hear from some of them THAT night! By Monday at noon I'd heard from 7 representatives. Of course, a couple of them wanted to help me find MY home rep. Two additional reps have emailed me back along with ONE senator and one US senator, not sure how HE got my letter. GOP representatives received emails because the Democratic Representatives did not have a single email address to send a message. A whole form had to be filled out to contact them. Maybe to discourage doing exactly what I did. BUT I really felt the whole bunch of legislators needed to know that their vote affects all Pennsylvanians. I asked those who wrote lengthy or informational missives if I could quote them. I promised- no permission, no publication. So I will not be able to name any legislators here except that none of them are Scott Hutchinson- my legislator from whom I have not heard.

The Good News: Most of these quotes are part of a longer email.
"We are very early in the budget process with hearings and testimony of the various departments being conducted as of this communication. I expect many changes and amendments prior to final passage." 
 I thought we were close to the budget being approved. So this brief email actually helped ease some tension.

"The changes that are proposed to the Basic Education Funding formula are a major topic of discussion right now and it is likely to change through the legislative process before a budget is enacted."
Again this is a B12 shot in the arm. Outside of the Harrisburg hub it's hard to know what is a "major topic" for those on public duty there.

"I also believe, however, that the Governor's recent budget proposal falls well short of its stated goal of "shared sacrifice" due to the economic recession and the state's weakened fiscal condition." 
This also shows it's still early and there's time to rectify inequities.

Most responses show sincere dedication to all the people of Pennsylvania. Some were just the same political rhetoric used on the campaign trail. That's depressing. Thankfully that was only one or two responses- (Senators).

The Not-As-Good News
"We must keep in mind that dollars do not always equal quality when it comes to education." I  do agree with that statement. I think what happens is those schools without budget issues get "new" technology, new programs, and just new stuff and the other districts think THEY need those things, too. Read Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson to understand how little IS necessary to learn if the desire TO learn is present.
  
"Based on your comments I don't believe you are a constituent of my legislative district."
I think this is amusing because that means this is a representative of an affluent district- exactly who I hoped to reach! Some research showed that one school district in this representative's area had 0% student poverty concentration! "...but this representative was my favorite respondent. Very courteous replies and complete honesty made that representative earn my respect.

 The Bad News
"Governor Tom Corbett laid out his budget proposal on March 8, 2011, and he called for several reforms that will move our educational system from system-centered to student-centered." 
That has me intrigued. Having taught elementary school for 11 years ('90-2001)I never had a DAY that was NOT student-centered. I wonder if that means a movement away from teaching just to score well on one test (PSSAs)? I don't mean to be disrespectful but who is working on these reforms??? What research are they basing it on??? Yikes!


"Your message doesn't indicate where you are from, so I'm having trouble understanding your points, because the districts I represent clearly are not among some of the high poverty areas of the state." Ooooo, this sentence just rankles me. Here is a passage from my letter:
 
It is my understanding that a certain formula was used to determine the
amount of money each school district would receive in 2011-2012 based on the
2010-2011 Basic Education Funding allocation of state dollars. During this
time, 2010-2011, federal stimulus monies were divvied among the PA districts
with the most poverty and highest property taxes, which includes us. The
state, in turn, then reduced their allocation of funding to these districts.
Therefore the federal stimulus money was not additional money. It was simply
replacing previously budgeted state money for these districts. Now that the
federal stimulus money is no longer available the stimulus amount should not
be considered as part of the state's 2010-2011 state education funding
total. It is a significant difference and should be considered when
determining state education budget cuts.

I tried to be as clear and specific as I could. And obviously OTHER representatives were able to understand my points! I think some remedial legislator training is necessary. So it didn't help when the closing to this brief email was, "Sent from my iPad" Then the legislator's name. Now, maybe iPad automatically does that before someone types their name. So I can't rush to judgment.


Overall, the time spent doing all this was worth it. Even though it was only a few responses I have a better sense of what is happening with the state budget. I added a paragraph about the Marcellus Shale issues but will do a separate blog about that.

Sent from my Dell Laptop
No, that closing definitely stinks. I'll stick with...


Hormonally yours,
Peg

Saturday, April 2, 2011

New Laughs Thanks to my XY Offspring

My daughter leads a relatively un-amusing life, apparently. Or maybe now that our (my son and I) uninterrupted time together is dwindling- Kindergarten this fall-I'm finding humor in things I wouldn't normally. No, it's him. While sitting on the floor I tied his shoe the other morning before preschool and when done I told him to go get his backpack. He turned and smacked right into the open closet door! It's like living with  Curly Joe, Jr.
Tonight, I genuflected at church and Jacob tripped right over my extended leg and went sprawling. Believe it or not, I did NOT laugh because this happens way too frequently and I wish he would be more attentive to where his feet are taking him.
Tonight's humor stems from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. My kids love Indy but hide their faces behind pillows whenever the inevitable skeleton pops out. In this movie the (third brother) Knight warns Indy and the others who make it into the room of the Holy Grail/s that the true grail is not to be taken past the seal. This is where the confusion began. After the movie we were all heading to the bathroom to brush teeth and Jacob kept asking where the "whale" was. I asked, "What whale?" He said the one Indy was supposed to see. I asked if he meant "wheel." No whale. I said there wasn't a whale IN the movie. They were in the desert. He said the whale in the cave, getting a bit more impatient. It was my daughter who finally made the connection. She asked, "Do you mean 'seal'?" 
"Oh...yeah," Jacob replied.
Whale, seal, I guess they ARE both mammals and easy to confuse...of course, Jacob's seal was an insignia...


Hormonally yours,
Peg

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Letters to the Lynch Mob: Fight the Unfair Education Cuts

After hearing about the inequitable distribution of education funding cuts I've decided to contact every legislator in Pennsylvania by email and/or snail mail. I can do that because I have the time. If you do not have the time please take a minute to write your opinion to our local elected politicians or copy and paste mine, making it your own by adding your ideas or suggestions and then deleting my name. Pass this information along to your online friends. This is democracy in action. This is what the folks in other countries are hoping to achieve.
State Senator: Mary Jo White       State House Rep.: Scott Hutchinson
email:  mwhite@pasen.gov               shutchin@pahousegop.com
       169 Capitol Building                 152 Main Capitol Building
      Senate Box 203021                   PO Box 202064
      Harrisburg, PA 17120               Harrisburg, PA 17120-2064
         814-432-4345                          814-677-6363
 
March 30, 2011

Dear __________________________,

This letter is to make my opinion clear on the pending state budget cuts in education. I agree that a balanced budget is a worthy goal but not at the expense of the poorest school districts, of which the schools in the district you represent are included.

It is my understanding that a certain formula was used to determine the amount of money each school district would receive in 2011-2012 based on the 2010-2011 Basic Education Funding allocation of state dollars. During this time, 2010-2011, federal stimulus monies were divvied among the PA districts with the most poverty and highest property taxes, which includes us. The state, in turn, then reduced their allocation of funding to these districts. Therefore the federal stimulus money was not additional money. It was simply replacing previously budgeted state money for these districts. Now that the federal stimulus money is no longer available the stimulus amount should not be considered as part of the state's 2010-2011 state education funding total. It is a significant difference and should be considered when determining state education budget cuts. Poorer school districts are slapped with a double blow- by 1) CUTTING funding and 2) basing these cuts on inaccurate and unfair data- in these economically challenging times.

I understand the need for frugality but the same standards should be shared equitably across the state. Please take the ethical course of action and correct this inaccurate calculation of state funding before the final approval of the state budget.

Respectfully,
Your Name Here.

Here are a couple links that I found helpful. Copy and Paste these addresses.:
http://www.elc-pa.org/budget2011.html  -- Click on the Spreadsheet of the Statewide Education Budget Impact by District.

http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/  -- If you rest your cursor on the tabs at the top a drop down list of choices will appear. Email addresses for every legislator can be found here.

I hope everyone read the article in The Derrick Corbett takes his case to the county commissioners in Tuesday March 29th's edition.
Corbett spent a lot of time explaining why he opposed taxing the natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale formation beneath Pennsylvania. It said he would like to persuade Texas-based energy companies to move their corporate headquarters to PA. ---I don't think the governor is familiar with our relatively recent Pennzoil/Quaker State fiasco in regard to relocating headquarters.  And if they DO relocate here, what's to stop them from moving again to the next state that offers tax breaks?

But this was my favorite quote in the article: " If we bring in companies like this, our revenues will come up, and (if) we control our spending...we will be able to fund education the way we want to, we will be able to take care of the poor and needy the way we want to."  So, until those companies show up the poor and needy can just suck it up and deal with it. ---This is the part of the quote I imagine he said in his head.  Wow, what can we do? Make your voice heard.

Hormonally yours,
Peg

     

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Oil City School Board Meeting: March 28, 2011

With the PA State Budget cuts to education looming on the horizon about 50 concerned parents(me for one), teachers, taxpayers(?)attended the school board meeting hoping to hear how the (approx.)$3 million dollars- you know, I never understood the EXACT amount of money we were losing and exactly the amount of money that needed to be replaced so lets just say a few million, give or take- how the money would be replaced. We were disappointed in that respect. Not one board member seemed to be willing to outright state what they felt was negligible. I'm hoping that means that they will wait until a work session where each item can be freely and fully debated. Here are some details they were specific on:
If you were at the meeting and see some inaccuracies PLEASE email me at the above address or in the "comments" section. -Thanks.

1. There will be no school tax increase. According to Superintendent Carrico it's been 10 years since the last tax increase and they don't intend to push one through now.
2. Carrico felt they could save $400,000 in "teacher realignment." I should have asked exactly what that meant. There were some other cost-cutting measures that were spelled out that didn't appear to detrimental. But they were going to use money that had been put aside but will only be available THIS (2011-2012) school year.
3. No school district employee will be asked to take a pay cut.
4. Transportation will not be eliminated.

The following seemed to be more negotiable issues:
5. A 50% cut in money paid for school supplies.
6. A(possible) 15% cut in the Athletic Department expenses
7. A (possible) 10% cut in building/? expenses. I didn't hear clearly.


These areas were mentioned but the board did not indicate their inclination on these issues:
8. Kindergarten- Go to half-day or eliminate it entirely. I did not realize Kindergarten was paid for by the state through a block grant.***** More about Kindergarten and my personal opinion at the bottom.
9. Consolidation of schools IN Oil City. (Oakland is safe and will remain in operation!)Discussion centered on the cost of repair and upkeep of buildings.
10. Venango Technology (VoTech)- over $1 million to send (122) kids here. Now that I've typed that I wonder if that is a mistake...that seems excessive. Carrico was quick to defend the usefulness of the skills being taught there and how they lead to "lucrative" jobs. He went on to state how some of the "brightest kids" are at Tech.
11. Intermediate Unit (membership?) was $850,000. Again, I do not know all that entails. But it's cost was mentioned and I wrote it down.
12. Art, music, library was brought up by a guest. No board member initiated discussion about cuts to these programs. One board member asked my friend which she would rather: Half-day Kindergarten of cut the art program. My friend was very diplomatic in her response and stated she didn't have any children entering K. I jumped in and said I did have a child going to Kindergarten and would willingly accept a half-day if it meant maintaining an art program!That's called compromise.

Dr. Carrico said that he would be meeting with teachers and the community to reveal/discuss what the school budget/school board- now that I'm typing it, I don't know if he's looking for opinions or if he's going to spell out what steps are being taking to make the budget balance. Hmmm...if anyone knows the answer to these things please let me know.

Carrico also quoted from a study done by the Education Law Center www.elc-pa.org
(Here is the link to the page that was copied and distributed to those who wanted it- http://www.elc-pa.org/pubs/downloads%202011/KeyFacts_CorbettEdBudget.pdf ) that criticized the formula Governor Corbett's lynch mob used to determine how much each district WOULD receive from the state. In a nutshell, students in the Oil City School District will be losing $864 per student. While students in much richer districts will be losing less that $100 per student. And it's not just Oil City it is any district that received money from the federal stimulus. That money is no longer available. Here is an IMPORTANT excerpt from that document mentioned above:

13. Corbett’s cuts are largest in the poorest school districts, because of a miscalculation.
The starting point of the new budget says, “Each school district will receive an amount equal to its 2010-2011 Basic Education Funding allocation” of state dollars. The Governor overlooked the fact that $655 million in federal stimulus dollars were also allocated to districts last year through the Basic Education formula. The formula intentionally allocated the most stimulus dollars to districts with the most poverty and the highest property taxes. The state then made huge cuts in its own funding to these poor districts and made up the difference with the federal stimulus dollars. Using 2010-11 levels as the starting point for the new budget penalizes the neediest students and schools, because this starting point is much lower for the poorest school districts with the highest taxes. Governor Corbett should have picked a different starting point for determining the 2011-12 state funding levels for each school district. This error should be corrected.


This is where we need to take up the fight with our congressmen through phone calls, letters, and emails. Mary Jo White and Scott Hutchinson are our local legislators.

On a personal note, the school board has been put in a very difficult situation due to the inequity of state funding for education. They have no choice but to make fiscally responsible cuts. It's hard to make everyone happy in times of prosperity so I'm sure there will be complaints from some group/s in this time of hardship. If you intend to be a complainer please do so AFTER you have respectfully made your opinions to the board  clear.

On a PERSONAL personal note, I mentioned my feelings about Kindergarten earlier. After me, another woman voiced her concern over the parents who would have to find babysitters for kids NOT in full day Kindergarten. At first, I thought that was a valid issue. But, with more thought, no, that is NOT a valid issue. Because she's saying that full day kindergarten is simply a way to keep kids busy until their parents are available. (Having helped in a K classroom the kids did do well-thought out educational activities. Even then, I thought half-day Kindergarten would have been exactly what my daughter needed.) Now that my son, who will turn 6 this July, is headed for Kindergarten I think he would benefit from a full day. He could have started school last year but we chose to hold him back. I think ALL the K teachers at Hasson are phenomenal.  I would hope if Kindergarten does go to half-day they are able to be absorbed into other areas of the school because they are definitely some of the good ones.

I'm quoting from the ELC's document listed above: "Governor Corbett said that local schools should make up for the state funding cuts by lowering teacher pay and laying off teachers." I would LOVE to know what school district salaries he looked at to come up with that plan? I'm going to quote what a friend of mine so eloquently said, "NEVER, have i met a public school teacher who was in it for the money, because there's no money in it. so tiresome is the rhetoric spewing about underworked, overpaid teachers! by the time grading, planning, continuing education, meetings, parents-teacher conferences, attending extra-curricular events, coaching, running clubs, chaperoning dances, etc, etc, the hourly wage (not counting using their own money for supplies) falls below minimum wage, well below."
I think the Governor has/will set back education for years just because of those sentiments. It's bad enough that teachers have lost respect from much of the public due to practices beyond their control. But to have a government official MAKE it an official political view, that just infuriates me. 

I'm going to air some gripes about Hasson here because they aren't about any employee only some school practices?
1. My daughter did not go outside for recess once in almost 4 months! I cut an article from a weekly reader Sarah brought home that quoted a principal from Minnesota saying that his students go outside for recess everyday unless it's more that -15 degrees!!! Cold weather doesn't cause sickness- bacteria and viruses do.
2. Kids MUST be allowed to talk when they eat lunch. Yes, it's going to get loud when 200 kids get together. But when do they get to talk to friends? I don't like to complain unless I have a solution and the only one I can think of is open the second gym for kids to eat lunch. That's a loss of student Phys. Ed time but maybe they could GO OUTSIDE!!! I'm kidding. I just worry that noise is being equated with delinquency.
3. Showing movies is NOT a treat. This is one of my biggest pet peeves from Hasson and ALL the schools I taught at- I will bet almost every kid has access to a TV. No matter their parents income level. And I'll bet they spend plenty of time in front of it. Study upon study has shown that the more time kids sit in front of a screen the lower their achievement. If the kids earned a special treat TAKE THEM OUTSIDE AND PLAY A GAME WITH THEM!!! Plus, I THINK it's a federal crime to show movies in a group setting like a classroom- but I would hope no one would try to enforce that, at least not without a warning first .


Hormonally yours,
Peg

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Last Night Laugh

Waiting for the Oil Region Ballet performance to begin I noticed my 5-year old with his pointer finger deep in his nose.
I inquired, "Would you like a Kleenex?"
He replied, "No, I got it." A brief pause before he continued, "I didn't wipe it on anything."
Hmmm, then where is it? I wondered...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Laughs Keep Coming Part 3

I remember as a child having an aversion to using public restrooms. It may have stemmed from an incident when I was about 10 at a local department store known as Westons. I had to go soooooooo bad and the restroom was out in the section between the two sets of entrance doors. So my mom sent me out but stayed inside the store where she could see me. I rushed in the door and saw some things I'd never seen in a restroom before. But never having visited public bathrooms I just figured it was something for the public, other than me. So I went into the stall and quickly relieved myself and stepped out the door when I got an instant education on what those odd contraptions were; yes, I'd gone into the men's restroom! I'll bet the guying using what I learned was a URINAL was rather surprised, too. I wish I could say this was the only time this ever happened but I cannot...See final paragraph for details.

I was not and STILL am not comfortable using public or other people's restrooms. My children don't seem to have that affliction. In fact, they both seem mildly to wildly curious about foreign bathrooms, especially at restaurants. When a Bob Evans restaurant opened locally we were pleased since both kids would rather eat breakfast foods in the evening than in the morning. Our first trip there Sarah must have been having some intestinal issues because we were IN that bathroom more than we were out. On one trip in another stall was already occupied. I'm just standing against the sink waiting for Sarah when I hear someone ralph. The sound bringing the food up is terrible but the resultant splash was just plain nauseating. I started praying Sarah would get done soon. She did not and I had to stand there listening to some poor woman continually refunding* her meal. Now at some point I'm going to start vomiting or laughing. You can imagine which one. If you can't imagine, let's just say there were no refunds for me.

I'm establishing a brief history of restroom experiences to lay the groundwork for the first day of my Senior year of high school. The only reason I would go into a restroom at school was for the sole purpose of checking my hair. (This was the Farrah Fawcett years.) So I'm fluffing my hair when I hear the loudest, longest fart I'd ever heard. (And my father was the "Pull My Finger King".) I froze mid-fluff, knowing I should clear out of there immediately. But, no, another person came in so I had to wait it out to make sure that person KNEW it wasn't me that made that sound or caused the noxious odor. It was someone I knew and not a few seconds later another atomic fart was discharged. By then I was trying so hard not to laugh I was crying- messing up my eyeliner- and my nose was running. We both got out and leaned against the wall laughing. I never did discover who was in that stall and I certainly hope I never entertain anyone in that capacity. Having a good friend who was the Fart Queen I'm not sure why this was especially funny? Maybe it was like the unknown comic who wore a paper bag over his head. It was the unknown farter.

My most recent trip into the men's room occurred in the early 90s. I was at a breakfast conference at the Bel Aire Hotel. It's the Avalon Hotel now. Having knocked back a few coffees I really needed to visit "the necessary" during our break. But being in a large dining room with a few hundred women I knew my chances at being first in line were bleak. So my girlfriend and I were going to look for some other restrooms farther away when I said, surprised, 'Look there's no line." and in I went. I came out and my friend was doubled over laughing. Excited I asked, 'what?', dying to be let in on the joke. My friend said I'd gone in the Men's Room. I said no, I saw --men when I went in but just assumed it had a w-o- before it. She said she stopped a guy from going in! It was kind of her to spare me any embarrassment because she embarrassed the heck out of me when we were leaving Andy's Pub one night and announced to everyone we passed, "She needs a pad." and pointed at me. Oh, I do miss Maryellen at times...

I know some folk are offending by this sort of humor but even today I can't NOT laugh when I hear a toot.

Hormonally yours,
Peg

*Thanks to my friend, Jamie, who used this word when describing her family's week.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Still Laughing Part 2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBtcfAppKoQ&NR=1



I've come up with a few more laugh memories. This link is to a clip from the movie "Neighbors"--- John Belushi's last movie. I could have sworn Belushi was given a dirty cereal bowl, thus proving that when we recall memories we substitute our own details (sometimes). In fact I thought Ackroyd's whole house was filthy, but again, my memory failed me. This clip made me chuckle, not howl, like the first time I saw it on the big screen in a movie theater.

I'm anxious to see if I embedded this youtube video correctly. More laugh memories later...I have to get the OK from a friend because it included her and some underwear...

Hormonally yours,
Peg

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Laughs Just Keep Coming: Part 1

I have some special memories that I haven't retrieved for a while- until yesterday. My son fell off a short stool onto the floor. That in itself isn't that amusing but the fact I saw him one second and I looked away and caught just the tail end of him disappearing from view in the next second just makes me chuckle. He bumped his chin on the way down so I did pick him up (He' s five.) and comfort him (I'm not completely callous.) but not without a concerted effort to not laugh. I finally asked him if I could laugh. He gave me the evil eye. But when I explained, unabashedly howling, WHY it was funny even he giggled. This wasn't the first time he's gone down and I found myself restraining prolonged laughter remembering...

We were at the grocery store, in the cereal aisle, and Jacob was hanging on the side of the cart. I don't know if he just lost his grip and footing at the same time but he did a 360 and fell out of sight. It was bad enough that I saw it but an elderly lady came by, asked if he was OK and SHE chuckled about how he went down so quickly. He has this, almost ballet-ic, grace when he stumbles. --Oh, I still laugh when I consider these "now you see hims, now you don't." These memories were playing in my head when I went to bed last night. Instead of sleeping I was trying to remember some other situations that STILL make me laugh.

The first one that came to mind happened a LONG time ago (late 70s/early 80s?), in church. Father Weible. By all accounts Father was a very nice man but a bit challenged by personal hygiene practices. We were up close and personal with Father this Saturday night since my mother always claimed the third seat from the front for her family. So there we were right under Father Weible's nose as he prepared to begin his sermon. He took his glasses out of his pocket, unfolded them and positioned them on his face. He did this carefully because HIS GLASSES ONLY HAD ONE LEG!!!!!! Now when you are 12, or so, this is majorly funny. Because glasses then were made out of glass and heavy so they tilted to one side. He wouldn't adjust them, either. They just remained cock-eyed. And because you are supposed to be quiet in church all conditions were met for severe cramping from holding in laughter. I still have some pretty good laughs about this so keeping them contained back then must have required an abdominal workout. I remember ducking down frequently, like we'd dropped something, to mask snickers. I think Father has passed on but he'll never be forgotten.

I laughed about this when I recalled it last night, now it only makes me smile: It's easy to get the giggles at church because, well, you're not supposed to do it! I remember we were sitting behind a family with some small children and small children like to check out the congregation behind them when they're at church. So while we were kneeling, this little boy turns completely around to face us and I look down at his feet and he has these enormous rubber galoshes (remember this would be the 70s) ON THE WRONG FEET! The fact that this kid was so small and the boots were so big and OBVIOUSLY on the wrong feet made it just hilarious. Luckily, when you're kneeling it's easy to hide you face in your hands. But unlike the glasses in the story above which were stashed back in Father's pocket I had to look at those boots for the rest of Mass!

I've changed my mind, I still laugh out loud about that one, too. Here's another gut-buster I still remember so perfectly...

I worked at a Holiday Inn as a restaurant hostess in the late 80s. From my desk I could see down the hall past the bar entrance to the restrooms. One slow evening I was straightening the items on my desk when I heard some noise down the hall and I peered toward the restroom when I saw a woman come out with the bottom of her skirt shoved in the waistband of her hose!!! I started to run down the hall to tell her but halfway there I collapsed into giggles and couldn't stop. I didn't want to embarrass her. In fact my mission had originally been to try and SPARE her embarrassment. I remember going directly into the kitchen to share this vision. No one could understand what I was saying because I was laughing so hard. I finally made myself understood but not before half the kitchen was in hysterics. It's funny how contagious hilarity is.

Oh, how good intentions go out the door when a psycho sense of humor strikes.

This seems awfully long so I'm going to have to do this in installments. Then if my mind starts to fail me, even more so than it is, I'll have a record of the things that made me laugh.

Hormonally yours,
Peg

25 Annoying Things About Me

I posted this May 2009 in the Notes section of my Facebook page. I did it after my dear friend had posted HER 25 "Annoying Things." We both find it quite amusing when people fall (without injury) or trip- #2. I had an attack of #18 while I was in bed last night. I had just turned off the light and I kept envisioning my son doing #2 (below) earlier in the day...this is how the above blog came about...

1. I am a rubbernecker.

2. I find it funny when people (including me) trip and/or fall.

3. I call my husband "idiot" under my breath.

4. All beds must be made.

5. My leftovers don't always make it to the refrigerator in a timely manner.

6. I must be the first to read the newspaper. I hate it when the pages are misaligned.

7. I'm one egg carton away from being an official pack rat.

8. I try to get my kids to say things for my own amusement. Right now we're working on "Roger that" whenever I ask Jacob to do something. Previously, it was "one, two, shooby dooby doo" while playing Candyland. Of course he had to sing it or I wouldn't take my turn.

9. I keep clothes I MAY fit into again. Even if they're 20 years old!

10. I nitpick others' proofreading skills even though mine are average at best.

11. I make one-of-a-kind jewelry from teeth and toenails. (I have a photo if interested!)

12. I LOVE our van. (I know some people probably find THAT annoying!) BUT I seem to bump in to a lot of things i.e. my mother-in-law's car...twice, a truck, the support beam in our garage...to name a few.

13. I chat with the cashier when I'm checking out causing delays for the delightful people behind me.

14. If there is something not right with my meal at the restaurant I always tell the waiter...I always preface it with, "I know it's not your fault..." and hope for the best.

15. I don't watch a lot of TV so when I do watch (The Big Bang Theory) I am very cranky if I'm disturbed.

16. I like to discuss things I've eaten and then encourage others to try these things.

17. I chew or bite the dry skin around my fingernails when I'm anxious.

18. I'll laugh out loud about things I heard or saw hours, days, weeks, years ago.

19. I carry on conversations with my cats: I provide their responses.

20. I can't discuss Harry Potter with people who have only seen the movies.

21. I have a strange fascination with the innards of organisms. I love those medical shows where they show the surgery.

22. I reuse the same knife for a variety of jobs.

23. I wash and reuse plastic ziploc bags.

24. Flushing the toilet in the middle of the night sounds so loud, so I don't. That means Tim wakes to a nice bowl of pee before work every morning.

25. I don't understand why people get so upset when their sports team loses. Honestly, unless you were betting on the game how does it affect your life??? The annoying part is I tell them that.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Your Purse Is Too Heavy If...

--the passenger side seat belt alert light is flashing and only your purse is in that seat.

--you have an indentation in your shoulder that is strap-wide and never fully goes away.

--you switch shoulders only to find that that strap-wide indentation on your other shoulder keeps your purse from sliding down your arm.

--you heave a sigh of relief when you set it down.

--you've put it on the produce scale at the grocery story because you want confirmation it weighs 10 pounds.

--you hand it to your husband to hold and he groans and asks, 'What do you HAVE in there?'

--you think you won't fall on an icy parking lot because of the added weight of your purse.

--you find yourself in some serious pain after stubbing your toe on it.

--you empty it hoping to find something you can permanently remove and only used Kleenexes are eliminated.

--you find yourself wondering how other women can carry those cute, TINY purses.

--you consider the weight of the purse with only the paper wads inside before making a new purse purchase.

--you glare at your husband if he asks if he can put his five pound wallet in your purse.

--if it (inadvertently) knocks over one of the metal poles holding the velvet ropes at the bank.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Laundry Origins

Thursday is Laundry Day. A load of jeans, darks, lights, and whites. I don't know exactly why I noticed it, but the tag on a pair of my jeans, purchased at The Gap outlet store, said they were made in Egypt! With the uproar in Egypt I was surprised to find they manufactured jeans and jeans for women. I decided to check the tags on the remaining clothes for their point of origin. I was really surprised at all the SMALL countries producing clothing for the American market. Here's my "laundry" list:
Egypt
Cambodia
Bangladesh
Madagascar *
Jordan *
Thailand
Malaysia
Vietnam
Pakistan
Maldives *
And of course, China and Mexico

There were a couple amusing tags: One sweater had a label that read "United States Sweaters" then it read Made in China. Another was a decoy because the jeans were "Arizona" brand but made in Bangladesh.

I did have one item Made in USA- a t-shirt from the brand Apt.9. I was just going to check the labels on jeans but when I couldn't find a Made in USA tag I decided to keep looking.

The ones with the asterisks really surprised me. I had to look up Maldives. It sounded vaguely familiar and I hate to admit it, but, I believe I'd heard of it from the Miss World Pageants of my youth. It's a small island chain in the Indian Ocean, just west of India. It's hard to imagine a clothing industry there. It looks tailor-made for the tourist industry.

Those tags piqued my curiostiy. I'm going to keep checking on my world-traveling wardrobe!

Hormonally yours,
Peg

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Loaf in a Bowl

I made a loaf of bread from scratch today. And it was quite successful. I'm surprised because I had a bread machine and tried a number of times to use it and my loaves always weighed about 5 pounds and were just inedible. I'd never considered making bread from scratch until I recently received a free issue of A Taste of Home February/March 2011 and Dilled Wheat Bread sounded (and looked) delicious.

This was to be my treat for the Super Bowl instead of the usual munchie snacks. I didn't intend to watch the game- it's the ONE thing I can't stand doing with my husband. He has been a Steelers' fan ever since I have known him, as was my mother. He gets so emotional about what happens on the field and uses language that he NEVER utters at any other time. The kids and I went to another room and watched Despicable Me again. (I never tire of that movie.) We go through this all season. I would like to see the Steelers win, also, but I don't really care if they don't. It just doesn't affect my life in any way. It would make Tim much easier to live with if they- the Steelers- didn't flub up so much and wait until the end to pull out a win! But back to the bread...

There were some surprise ingredients in there: cottage cheese. It called for cream-style cottage cheese. Hmmmm. I searched 3 stores and none had "cream style." So I opted for small curd and liquified them in the blender. Another surprise ingredient was minced onion. I had some, but never used them much. So I was a bit concerned and under-measured those a tiny bit. Third, sugar. Other than zucchini or banana bread I don't think I've ever seen sugar added to bread. But it definitely couldn't hurt. Finally, though not a surprise, was the dill. I love dill. I've tried to grow dill. I have a Ranch Oyster Cracker recipe that calls for dill. It just adds something unusual but satisfying to a recipe.

I've started a new habit when trying new recipes: I circle things I would otherwise do improperly. Like adding the egg AFTER the dry and wet ingredients have been mixed. I would assume I would just add the egg to the liquid-y stuff. I also underlined "greased" where ever it was written. I had to grease a bowl-see peach bowl in picture- and flip the dough over to grease both sides. Greasing, that's a step I usually discover AFTER I've already put something in a container.

I've made boule bread and the rising part isn't overly important and I never had to knead it. I did need to knead this bread; it was fun! Then I put it by a register in my bathroom, COVERED, and closed the door. That was the warmest place in the house.



After baking for 30 minutes the smell in the house was DIVINE. My kids were outside playing and when they came in my daughter was dazzled by the smell. I warned her of some of the ingredients. She didn't care. The smell was too intoxicating! I pulled the loaf pan out of the oven and brushed it with butter and sprinkled it with kosher salt. The recipe called for coarse salt. I think it's the same?

We lightly buttered the slices. I had the end pieces and they were just fantastic.

Today's Moral:
Don't give up. Be aware of your usual mistakes and don't make them again.
The results could be delicious.


Hormonally yours,
Peg



Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What DoThe Hunger Games,China, and Defense Inc. have in common?

The face of my mood watch1 has turned black. Agitated. I usually maintain a “serene” green. I attribute THAT to a commitment to yoga. So why is it black now? I just read an article in the the Atlantic Jan/Feb 20112. I’m not a regular reader of this periodical but I linked to it through a Facebook friend who is, thankfully, quite intelligent. The article is called “The Tyranny of Defense Inc". Two other factors, unrelated to this article but still literary, have contributed to my growing sense of agitation and unease: an article in the Dec. 2010 Marie Claire by Abigail Haworth with no discernible title only marie claire INTERNATIONAL REPORT and “The Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins.

Since I read the Marie Claire article first I’ll start there. China. I never really gave the country much brain time. I’ll summarize my schema on China: I saw “The Last Emperor” at the theater, I remember Tiananmen Square massacre and thought it frightening but decidedly communistic, I know there are over a billion Chinese citizens and am aware of their One Child Policy, and probably 80% of my possessions are labeled Made in China.

It was the One Child Policy the Marie Claire article visited. In my na├»ve mind I assumed that the billion Chinese were all supportive of this rule. I never considered how a rule like this could or would be enforced. Abigail Haworth eloquently describes the brutality the Chinese government employs to mercilessly force women to adhere to this protocol. Some women have openly defied this policy with no repercussions, until recently. In the Quangdong province the local Family Planning Bureau unleashed what it called an “Iron Fist Campaign” targeting 10,000 women who had had more than one child.3

Relatives of these women were imprisoned4 until they submitted to [this was in quotation marks in the article] “ remedial surgery” or sterilization. Some women were forced to abort babies 8-9 months in development.5 What does this have to do with U.S. defense or even The Hunger Games”? They are all about governments, fair or oppressive laws and the people they all help or endanger.

I was recently informed that “The Hunger Games” was on a required reading list for middle school students. I’m not sure students at that hormonal level can truly internalize the valuable lessons woven into the story. It’s exciting and poignant but can they see any connection to Katniss’s, the heroine, world and our world today? I immediately connected the events in the story to the plight of the Chinese, whose government also rules with an iron fist, tank and machine gun.

So many Americans complain about “big government,” or how the government is trying to dictate our lives. I agree- to a point. It seems many laws are written and passed because of the stupidity of some citizens and those altruists determined to save them! See examples below.6 The Hunger Games (I’m referring to the actual games in the book of the same name.) is an unscripted video game the government of Panem orchestrates at the expense of two youths from each of the 13 colonies, I mean districts. Except the 13th district was obliterated by the central government after an uprising there. I point THIS out because I hate when I hear this solution to social unrest/terrorism- ‘just blow them off the map.’

The people in each district are policed and worked to near starvation with no options to make their situation any better. Last night I finished the second book of the trilogy, Catching Fire, and was not disappointed. [Except, I can’t get my hands on a copy of the third book, Mockingjay, for 12 more days, unless I go and buy it somewhere.]

The beauty of this story is the unity of the downtrodden to change the government dictatorship and control of the deliriously diseased wealthy. The rebels don’t want violence just reform. But because the government uses only military might the rebels must confront that obstacle to change. Hence the dilemma of the Chinese. Each soldier/police is someone’s son or daughter. This leads to the article The Tyranny of Defense Inc.

Tim and I have discussed Eisenhower’s speech urging Americans to beware of the “military industrial complex.” I don’t think I appreciated the scope of what his warning encompassed. Eisenhower told America in the 1950s “Every gun made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” But a national security urgency real and/or fabricated ruled the day and subsequent decades. Eisenhower’s words went unheeded by the public. The cold war and proliferation of nuclear weapons were the stuff of my nightmares at age 10. There always seems to be a national security issue: Korea, Vietnam, Iran, Nicaragua, Libya, Persian Gulf, Iraq. Again, this is a subtext, for me anyway, in “The Hunger Games” trilogy. In Catching Fire a mentor’s last words to one of the contestants before entering the arena is simply, “You just remember who the enemy is.”

Who IS our enemy? Who ISN'T our enemy? I don’t think it’s the current Congress or President. So many promises were made to reach their positions if they could only hold onto those ideals they presented to the public once all the nastiness was removed. It’s the pseudo-safety alliance dictating national budget disbursement who should be feared and held accountable. The Atlantic article discusses a huge network of national security groups and contractors that consume a colossal amount of our budget. The money the US spends on “military outlays” approximately EQUALS that spent by all other nations combined! That just makes my jaw clench and my mood watch turn black.

We can’t change generations who have been indoctrinated in a “might is right” society and have seen the economic benefits of preparing for wars. But if enough stand together, rethink the educational objectives our youth should achieve, and drive home that it is the individuals in a democratic nation who are important, not simply instilling a democracy on us and other countries. If we can all be responsibly democratic maybe we can achieve a lasting, worldwide peace. Isn’t that what we all want???

And if I can get my hands on that third book of the trilogy maybe Panem found a way to live honorable and peacefully.

Newt Gingrich made a speech in response to newly elected President Obama’s speech where the President declared he was a “citizen of the world.” In his speech Gingrich stated, with not a shred of embarrassment, that he was NOT a citizen of the world but of the United States. Well, if he’s not a citizen of Earth then he ought to blast off on the next space shuttle because that attitude is the root of the problem with our government/politics.

1- The mood watch was a Christmas gift. It's face changes colors due to body heat.

2- http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/print/2011/01/the-tyranny-of-defense-inc/8342/

3- This particular passage is written almost word for word from the article.

4- These prisons were STANDING ROOM ONLY!!!!!

5- It just occurred to me how odd it is that in our country people are fighting to keep the right to abort babies and in China they are dying for the right to give birth!

6- Laws made due to stupidity: Wearing seatbelts, texting while driving, drinking and driving, gun laws, drinking age laws, use of steroids...


Hormonally yours,

Peg

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Chicken That Stayed Til After New Year's

It's still there, sitting in my refrigerator in a snack-size Ziploc bag. I see it every time I open the door. It's at eye level. What is psychologically wrong with my brain that I'm unable to remove that item from my view? Is it because I consider it minor miracle that it doesn't smell like a "gym-sock souffle"? Or do I secretly hope that the chicken will decay and grow some mold, spore, fungal windfall that will cure some disease like bread mold penicillin? Will it evolve before our eyes into some sentient being? It's taking up prime refrigerator real estate. I've got to move it out before it infects the leftover lasagna residing beside it.
It's so little, harmless. It's been there so long it seems like a little, hairy friend. How can I just toss him in the trash bin in our cold garage? Do I have some strange affinity for this little thigh? I got the honey baked ham into some soup and the freezer before it became a porcine petri dish.

I used to have a similar problem with those last crusts of bread: they would sit in the bread box just taking up space and making me think I had more bread available than I really did. But then we discovered the joys of the Pymatuning Spillway. I now stuff those bags of crusts in the bin in my freezer and once a year we feed the gluttonous carp and ducks at the spillway. See images at the link to the right: Pymatuning Spillways Photos.

I need to determine a humane (?) way to dispose of that chicken thigh.

Hormonally yours,
Peg

Family Funnies

Last night at dinner we were discussing Sarah's soccer team photo. We asked if she knew the name of the kid beside her. In the moment she paused Jacob said, "Joe." We all looked at him. Sarah, her face scrunched said, "Joe who?" Without a pause Jacob replied, "Joe Mama." I just love him.

***"Santa" bought a Wii for the kids for Christmas and Tim connected it to the internet so Sarah can play Mario Kart against a friend from school/neighborhood. One of the race choices is Grand Prix. Colby must have selected this race because Sarah asked me, "What's Grand Pricks?" Puzzled, I asked her to repeat what she'd said and she told me to look at the TV screen. Why would she think Prix was pronounced any way other than rhymes with six?

**** A Star Wars fanatic, Jacob is constantly playing/imagining himself to be a character from the series. Personally, I only know a few Stars Wars folk by name. (Tim found a Star Wars character encyclopedia through which I am gradually getting to know a lot about some SW personalities.) Last night Jacob was tearing around saying he was a droid. So I started calling him a Hem Droid.

Oh, the simplest things amuse me.


Hormonally yours,
Peg

Monday, January 10, 2011

Business Letter Closings

It was suggested today that I write a letter to request my daughter be tested for inclusion in her school's gifted program. So I wrote that letter and was searching for the appropriate closing when I googled "letter closings examples" at this URL: http://www.writeexpress.com/letterclosings.html
I looked under the list of Business Closings for something business-y but not overly so. The closings that are listed make me wonder exactly WHAT business the letter writer is soliciting. I can't decide exactly which one is my favorite but this one just makes me wonder:
Smell ya later,
I suppose it could be going to a perfume company, or maybe someone applying to be a deodorant effectiveness sniffer, or Beano tester.

These two are similar and I could imagine my husband and son using the second one, but the first one is just plain silly. I like it:
  • May the horse be with you,
Somehow that just seems comforting to tell someone.
  • May the Force be with you,
I really like this one for a BUSINESS letter:
Yearning for you,

I suppose if you are inquiring about the job of your dreams this may be an appropriate closing. What makes this so good is that right below it is the Love Letter Closings and it's not included there.


Gotta boogie,
Toodles,
Rock on,
Peace out,

These are also under Business Letter Closings. Maybe business letters in the late 60s, early 70s!

I saved the best for last and hope anyone and everyone who sends me a letter will please use this closing:

May I always live to serve you and your crown,


(But nothing beats...)
Hormonally yours,

Peg