Monday, April 30, 2012


"A whale ship was my Yale college and my Harvard" ~ Herman Melville

Did you hear that some kid stole the ACT tests at a Denver high school?  What is up with THAT?

One of the "subjects" I tutor is test prep.  One of the tests I prep people for is the ACT.  This was actually the thing that caused the surprise from my student last week.  He and I had spent about 6 weeks preparing him for his ACT.  Every high school junior in Colorado takes the ACT whether they plan to go to college or not.  The state uses it as its assessment for juniors.

It's all been said and done, and now I just tutor him in math.  He thinks he did okay, and he knows that Wolfgang took the same test he took. 

"How'd your son do?", he asked

"He said he thinks he did well, at least he finished everything", I said then added, "I didn't really give him any coaching".

"What?!?  B...b...but... that's what you DO?!", he flabbergassed.

Yes, it's ONE of the things I do.  When someone asks. 

Truth is, I wish kids didn't stress so much over their test scores.  Or in some cases, it's the parents that are stressing.   And I do understand it a bit in the cases of students or athletes that are targetting a specific program at a specific university.

But I knew that Wolfgang had a handle on things.  He actually did ask for some coaching for the science section as it was the one that gave him troubles when he took a practice test a couple of months ago.  We spent about an hour lowering his anxiety the weekend before the test.

But to think that some kid would break into the school and steal the tests in order to.... what?  Buy more time?  Get a payoff from some other kids wanting to buy more time?  Just see if he could pull it off? 

Some tutor cohorts and I were discussing the whole pressure aspect for high school kids to get into a "good" college.  We were all pretty much in agreement that where one goes to college often isn't all THAT important. 

One guy noted that whom we marry plays a larger role than where we go to college in how our adult lives turn out.  I would agree with that, and I pondered.  I'm pretty happy with how my adult life has turned out.  I guess it's good I married Magnum...

whom I met in college. 

Okay, now I'm confused.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Silver Liningness Sunday

Here we are at the end of April already.  I will admit that my keyboard is still foolishly wrong.  It's been good for no-peek typing practice anyway. 
Chaco is practically a college student.  His acceptance and all the associated paperwork that goes along with that have been trickled in over the last few months.  Yesterday he attended a freshman orientation and already has his class schedule for fall. 

He's also already got the student ID shown here, looking like something from America's Most Wanted.  His explanation:  "It was a long day". 

Now, he just needs to make it through two more weeks of high school.

The weather has been lovely, I think it's (almost) safe to say that winter is officially over.  I've been enjoying ideal conditions for my early morning runs.  I'm remembering how much fun it is to run without little icicles forming on the eyelashes.

On that note, Run With Lumber was last week at the elementary school.  I SO don't miss chairing that. 

On that note, I am thankful that I still have ties to the school through my crossing guard job.  I did make some nice acquaintances during my years as a volunteer mom. 

And speaking of jobs, the tutoring biz is good.  I'm having to turn some prospective students away, and have found time for a couple of others.  My current assortment of students makes for a diverse group of nice kids and abilities and subjects.  Talking with one student last week, I revealed that I don't tutor my own kids unless they ask for help.  He was very surprised by that.  Is that surprising?

Saturday, April 28, 2012


A grasshopper can jump 20 times its length.  If I could do that, I could jump over 100 feet.  I can't do that.

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is "Jump", so I dedicate it to the long jump champion grasshopper.   I think I'll name him Sarge.

Friday, April 27, 2012

the slow lane

Yesterday and today are end-of-year testing days at the elementary school.  For reasons that are too boring to go into, June and I trade places on testing days.  She's got the 5-lane speedway while I've got the quaint little street in front of the school.

It's a whole 'nother world there!  Yes, there's a steady stream of traffic, but it's parents who have just dropped off/picked up the kids and scoot abidingly away. 

The clientele is quite different too.  There are a lot more little kids.  The speedway sees mostly the older kids - fourth and fifth graders peppered with a third grader or two with older siblings.  Occassionally, younger kids come through with a parent. 

In front of school are those accompanied by a mom or a dad, heading happily to kindergarten or preschool.  They take a moment to look at me bug-eyed.  I know they wonder why I'm not June.  Some squeeze Mom's hand a little tighter.  Stranger Danger!

It's nice to be at the school and see some of the staff members I don't see regularly.  I was a volunteer mom at this school for seven years.  Now that I'm an employee, but very part-time, some of them are becoming just  Somebody that I Used To Know.

Yesterday afternoon, as the kid flow had dwindled, my friend Mary the custodian came around to collect the orange cones.

"Hey, haven't seen you in a while!", she said as she approached.

"Yeah, I don't come up her much anymore".

"Girl, you need to clean your mailbox!"

"I know... I..."

"There's stuff in there from Christmas, from last fall, from..."

"Yeah, I know... I..."

"... Hundreds Day, from field day, from..."

"Yeah, I know... I... "

"... your birthday, from somebody's shower..."

"Yeah, I know... I KNOW!!  I  GOT IT!  Last week, I got it".

I think maybe I should visit more often.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

and baby says, Yipeeeee!

When Chaco was born, I was happily employed in my chosen profession.  Most of the other women I worked with that had babies came back to work after maternity leave.  I took an extended leave and came back with my hours cut in half. 

I did the part-time thing for 3 years.  In the meantime, Wolfgang had come along.  In the meantime, I met some ladies who turned me over to their way of thinking. 

Actually, I already knew I wasn't happy dropping the kids off with the babysitter 3 days a week.  Even though she was great with kids, even though she lived and ran her daycare from her house that was very near mine, even though she and I would become good friends - all those even thoughs.

So yeah, I ended up meeting this fun group of moms.  Remember the days when the internet was brand new?  The happy chirp of the dial-up modem?  The way we could practically drink a whole cup of tea while a page loaded?  I met these women on a discussion forum for moms.  Ironically, I found them while surfing from work.

They did "whatever it takes" to stay home and raise the kids.  Recall that I said we did cotton diapers?  To save money?  Well, some of these women not only used cotton diapers, they made their own.  They made practically everything!  They schooled me in frugality.  I retired.  My only regret is that it took me 3 years.

I would love to know what happened to most of those women.  But as these things often go, we simply lost touch.  This was pre-facebook, pre-give-any-personal-information-to-anyone-on-the-internet.

Today, I was doing my weekly purge of my school e-mail.  I ran across a short message from a teacher who took this year off to spend the first year home with her daughter who was born nearly a year ago.  She was letting us know that her plan to take a year off turned into "I'm not coming back".

That made me happy.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

joined at the feet

I will probably never meet her, but I think of her as being very similar to me. 

Somewhere out there is a woman who likes taking walks, maybe she's still stroller-pushing age.  Or she could be take-the-grandkids-to-the-park age.  Maybe she's also got a pooch.  She could be a couple of time zones away from me, or she could be right around the corner. 

Somewhere out there is a woman with whom I'm forever bonded.  We share a unique connection.  I started thinking about her yesterday.

Somewhere out there is a woman who, one day last week, placed an order online.  She anxiously anticipated its arrival.  She got the usual e-mail notices:  "it's shipped!" and then there were tracking links - how it had arrived at such and such a warehouse, how it departed such and such a warehouse.  She could watch its progress in her mind, making its way to her.

I was home when my package arrived.  I set the package down here on my giga desk, rubbed my hands together, and removed the seal.  Ah, the fun of mail order!

I opened the box and pulled out one fresh new walking shoe for my left foot, ready for action.  I reached in and pulled out the other fresh new walking shoe for my left foot....

"What the....?"

Wolfgang looked at me, seeing the perplexed look on my face as I gradually came to understand that I was holding two left shoes. 

I looked at my feet.  Yep, still one right and one left. 

Uhm.... yeah.  So amazondotcom sent me a label to return them at no charge (ya think?) and are hopefully sending an order, this time with one left shoe and one right.  As I was live chatting with customer service, I couldn't help but notice that my new left shoes had been packed and shipped on Friday.  4/20.  Hmm... perhaps there was a little celebration of the "holiday" going on in the warehouse?

Somewhere out there is a woman, who probably received her package around the same time I received mine.  She opened the box, already thinking about her next walk with the pooch/husband/baby/grandkids, only to find that she had two right shoes that were... wrong.

Somewhere out there is my sole mate.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

me, myself, and ibuprofen

I know very little about hockey.

It's like soccer on ice, but I know very little about soccer.  Still, I do know that hockey players are generally perceived as being tough.  They're willing to take a hit and just keep  on going.  They're bloodied and bruised on a regular basis, it's just part of the territory.

So when I say the unsightly and somewhat discolored lump just beneath my knee bone is a hockey injury, it makes me seem pretty tough and not one to be messed with.

Plus, just the fact that I participate in hockey gives me a certain aura of adventure and mettle.  And now that it's shorts and capris season, and my injury is noticeable, the fact that it's a hockey injury might make people think twice before messing with me.

"Hockey injury", I think, sounds a lot better than, "konged my leg on the sturdy leg of a table at the library", or more precisely,

"tutoring injury". 

I was tutoring a hockey player when I konged my leg on the sturdy leg of a table at the library.

Therefore, it counts as a "hockey injury".

That's my story.

Monday, April 23, 2012

the day after yesterday

Yes!  We've done it.  Or did it or do it.  Yes we do.  I am a mean green machine.

I only do full loads of dishes and laundry (usually)
I walk or bike instead of drive (usually)
I unplug the cell phone once it's charged (usually)
I keep the thermostat at polar temperatures in the wintertime
I hang the laundry on a clothesline instead of using the dryer
I turn things off (shut up), and back in the day,
I even used cotton diapers, yes I did!

Okay, the truth is, we do or did those things in order to save money, not to save the planet.  But I'm still taking my green points.

Yesterday was Earth Day.  Such a romantic holiday, isn't it?

Our celebration started a bit early when Magnum came home from work and presented me with this.

Is it HOT or what?!  It's a REDUCE-YOUR-CARBON-FOOTPRINT jar opener!  Apparently it's made from recycled tires - *swoon*

I vaguely remember a couple of other goodies, but he had me at REDUCE-YOUR-CARBON-FOOTPRINT jar opener. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Silver Liningness Sunday

Yesterday was a Meego day. 

I don't necessarily get much one-on-one time with each kid on a regular basis. We sometimes refer back to the days of "just the two of us". 

For Chaco, that was the first 18 months of his life.  For Wolfgang, it was the months that Chaco went to Kindergarten every afternoon and Meego wasn't yet born.  For Meego it was when the older two were in school and he wasn't.

Yesterday, Chaco and Magnum were in Golden for the science olympiad, and Wolfgang was in Denver at a track meet.  So for Meego and me, it was "just the two of us".

See China's Pixie cut? 

And it was a lovely day out, so we took advantage.  First, we took the pooch for a beauty walk and visited this feral spot we know of.

It's not far from civilization at all, but it just has this feel to it that makes one start thinking about having to kill something and eat it.

Meego Falls

We brought our muddy selves back home, got cleaned up and nourished (stuff bought from a store, not killed at Meego Falls) and soon after headed out for a bike ride while errand running... or errand running while on a bike ride, whichever spin preferred.  Stopping for refreshment too of course.

Intermixed with our "just the two of us" was just some usual hanging out doing Saturday stuff like playing with friends and drawing Spiderman.

It was a nice day, a Meego day.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

pick up my stroll

Remember a couple of months ago, Chaco had that homemade robot arm?  It advanced to the state competition?  Of course you remember. 

I don't actually have a link to the first post because I noticed a lot of traffic coming to the blog searching for "science olympiad robot arm competition" or similar.  ACK!  Spy Alert! 

I removed it.

No biggie since it was a demonstrated fail.  The state competition was this weekend, and the arm is the newly improved and made an awesome showing.  Once again, it was the only one built from scratch.

What is UP with that?  Building one from a kit strikes me as going to a bake-off with a Betty Crocker mix! 

Anyway, I got some action footage.  I asked Chaco the name of the arm so as to give it proper credit for the movie.  Put on your dancing shoes as I now present...

Snot Dunyet,  rated GP (Geek Porn):



This week's Illustration Friday prompt is "heights", and  it's no secret that I am ridiculously acrophobic.  

I was going to do a hot air balloon illustration, but it just didn't fit my mood.  If I could be free from the fear of heights for a day, I think I would enjoy swinging acrobatically above the skyscrapers a la Spiderman with nothing but wisps of webbing to keep me up.

Imagine it, my hair flapping gracefully, my legs and arms working together as I sweep gracefully above the city.

No freaking way.

Friday, April 20, 2012

paranormal pet

Okay, I don't want to be all morbid or anything, but I was just out walking with China and there was a dead cat in the gutter.  eeww.

Thing is, that cat (body), while much smaller than Cookie, had the same coloring and stripe pattern as Cookie.  And seeing a dead cat in the gutter isn't that strange, BUT earlier this week, I had this weird dream where Cookie showed up all beat up and scraggly.  AND today, just before my walk to the gutter, I got a postcard from Cookie in the mail.  Really!

He sent me a postcard, reminding me that it's time for his check up and booster vaccinations.  AND the stamp?  It's from Hawaii!  Well, it's got a Hawaiian shirt on it, and it says "Aloha" anyway.  It's clear.

Cookie is communicating with me from beyond the grave!  He's sending me dream visions, and gutter cat bodies, and postcards with tropical paradise connotations!  I know what this all means of course.

Cookie is happily in cat heaven, living it up with a bunch of cat friends in cool Hawaiian shirts.  He would like me to pass the news on to the vet that he is where the sun shines every day, and he would like the vet to put her thermometer where the sun doesn't shine.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Wrong.  This is wrong, so wrong!

There are some people on the house across the street.  People aren't supposed to be ON houses.  Houses are for people to be IN.  Yet, there they are, ON the house and I don't like it and I let them know it.  I let everybody know it.

And what really bothers me is that, despite me having a cow and all, they are still on the house.  They don't even care that I'm upset, they're just ignoring me, and maybe that's the worst annoyance of all.  No respect, I swear.

And not only are there people ON the house across the street, but they are making all kinds of racket.  It's almost like a thunderstorm and I absolutely HATE thunderstorms.  They totally freak me OUT. 

When I get upset like this, the thing that works best for me is to just go and do something physical.  Just burn up the pent up frustration with some hard labor.  So that's what I did.  I went and worked in the yard. 

It was a good day for it.  We've had some rain recently, so the ground is soft and a little moist.  Perfect for digging into, so that's what I did.  I just started digging.  Digging, and digging, and digging.  It's great therapy, really GREAT therapy. 

I'm resting now.  There are still people on the roof next door and it still bothers me, but somehow being inside the house after a workout like I had makes it all more tolerable. 

So while I'm relaxing away the frustrations of the day, I thought I would blog about it for further therapy.  I think it's working too.

Abby's not here.  This is me, China.  The dog?

Abby is outside filling in the holes I dug for her.  It's just this game we like to play.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

a new boss and goodies too

Something has happened, has shifted. I'm not sure what. Whatever it is, though, I feel I need to set the record straight.

A while back, I blogged about my crossing guard boss - the school's vice principal. She was distant, aloof, one might even say she was cold. I'd met her only once, back in the fall, when she summoned me to go through my goals for the year.  That's when I learned of her distant cold aloofness.  A recent e-mail from her was rather perplexing in its warmth.

Fast forward to this week.  Spring.  Time to go over the goals again, time to be summoned again.  She called.  She was pleasant on the phone.  We set up a meeting.  We met.

And she was... different. 

She was friendly, relaxed.  She was downright bubbly!  We spent about 15 - 20 enjoyable minutes, most of them not necessarily talking shop.  I don't know what caused the shift, but I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt and saying that this is the real boss lady. 

After our love fest, she reminded me to check my staff mailbox, "[Principal] asked me to have you check it, I guess you have quite a bit of stuff in there".

Oh yeah.  The mailbox.  Our house is located between the school and the crosswalk.  Other than these types of meetings, I don't typically have any reason to go to the school, but I do have a staff mailbox that I haven't checked in the 8 months that school has been in session.  I checked.

My mailbox is on the top row of the staff mailbox matrix.  It's up there with the other crossing guard types, next to Crossing Guard Jon's box.  Crossing Guard Jon is 6'7" and his mailbox position is ideal.  I'm 5'5".  I could see some things sticking out over the ledge of my box, so I grabbed it and pulled.  That action caused a bunch of unseen stuff to then come raining down all over me.  Loot!

Okay, so there were a couple of fat folders with some information to "kick off the school year" (oops).  Then there were some forms to "please fill out by August 15th" (oops). 

Along with that, there was a birthday card!  Signed by the district Superintendent!  I didn't even know he cared (I doubt he does).  There was a "Happy Holidays" bag of goodies including a gift card for Einstein bros. bagels.  There was another goodie bag to celebrate the hundredth day of school, whenever that was. 

There were a few other odds and ends, it was kind of like the whole school year up to this point in time lapse...

raining on my head.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

happy stats

Sometimes a student wants to know why.  Particularly with math concepts.  "Why do I have to know how to graph a line?", "Why do we have 'imaginary numbers'?", "Trigonometry?  WHY??"

It doesn't happen often.  Usually, they just want to learn the stuff, so they can get through the class and not have to do it over or just get their parents off their backs.  Statistics, though.  Statistics are useful.  They help us understand patterns and make predictions.  They help us know when something is "abnormal" *ahem*...

Or sometimes, they just make us feel less stupid. 

Yep, I visited my blogger statistics.  Sometimes I forget they're there, but since they are and I remembered, I decided to take a look at recent keyword searches that led people here. 

Among the usual "fat people artist" and "boobs" and "fish swimming upside down", I came across a couple that let me know I'm joyously not alone.

The first that caught my eye was, "rug burn on her forehead".  Really?  So I'm wondering about that search.  Was someone else also dumb enough to do neck bridge exercises on raw carpet?  Are they looking for solutions to rid themselves of the unsightly resultant burn mark?  OR

do they know someone who showed up with an unsightly rug burn on the forehead?  Are they wondering how she aquired such burn mark?  OR

are there other mistakes than can result in unsightly forehead rugburns?  What are they?  Or are they just too naughty?  Best to not think too much on that one.

But the one that really helped.  Really made my day.  Really helped me see myself back under the "normal" curve, even if still at the fringes was:

"accidentally put redbox videos in the mailbox"

Oh thank you.  Thank you keyword searcher.  Whomever you are. 

Monday, April 16, 2012


It was afternoon feeding time, and I was settled on the futon with baby Meego watching the literal "boob tube".  The local news was on, and there on the screen was an Indian (Native American) with eyes closed and  hopping, slowly turning, chanting.

Fluffy snowflakes fell all around him.  It was magical.

We lived in Utah at the time and it had been a dismal winter snow-wise.  There was much fretting about low reservoir levels for the upcoming summer.  It hadn't snowed in weeks, and there was none in the forecast. 

We also happened to live near three ski resorts.  Ski resort owners aren't ones to sit around and wring their hands when nobody goes skiing, they are solution finders.  Their solution was to hire this Hopi dancer to come do a "rain dance", which in wintertime is actually a snow dance.

And by golly if it didn't work!  I vividly remember that image from my TV screen.  The dancing, the chanting, the snowing.  It was mesmerizing.

I think the thing that most struck me about the dancer is that he didn't look at all surprised.  There was no break in his steps once the snow started falling.  He just kept on hopping and turning and chanting, oblivious to the news cameras. 

I don't know how he did it.  Coincidence?  Lucky timing?  Was it real?

Last week, I had three roof guys come and look at our roof.  We would like to get a new one.  Ours has these obsolete t-lock shingles, and until we get new shingles, we don't have any options as far as home insurance goes.  I like having our options open.  Competition is good, especially with two teenaged drivers on our auto insurance. 

All three roofers told me that we're borderline as far as "needing" a new roof.  Whether or not insurance will cover the job is at the whim of the adjustor.

So, I'm thinking that some decent hail damage would be good about now.  I know it's early in the season for hail, but not totally out of the question. 

Could I find me a "hail dancer"?  Much like that Utah snow dancer?  How much do you think they charge?  Could I get an order of roof-damaging hail that wouldn't damage the cars, plants, etc.??

So... what do you think?  Craigslist maybe?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Silver Liningness Sunday

I'm thankful that the weather is kinda crappy today.

It's been a pretty productive day since I wasn't lured into decadent self-indulgent outdoor fun.  I got caught up on some lesson planning and when that got old, I did some much needed housewifery.  It's like cross-training.

One could eat off of the shower floor, but please don't.

And I think the fish tank water is less scummy, but maybe it's just wishful thinking.

Another nice thing about the crappy weather is that it's brought some life-giving precipitation with it.  Some snow, some rain, some of that weird stuff that is neither snow nor rain but contains water.  On Wednesday, we took China in for her spring grooming - to cut down on the hot black fur coat she wears in the winter.  Every year, the weather turns colder and wetter right after we do that.  You're welcome, thirsty Colorado.

Magnum and I watched a movie called "Cherry".  I liked it overall, in the whole scheme of things, it was a nice story.  I didn't really like it at the start, but I'm glad I stuck it out. 

So it was a good productive week. I got a lot of things crossed off the to-do list, and managed to have a little fun in the meantime.   Chaco asked me earlier what I was doing.

"I'm cleaning [snide remark about how that is a foreign concept to him]"

"Why? [hopefully just him playing along with the foreign concept concept]"

"It makes the house a happy place".

We all need our happy places, I hope you're in one.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


I puzzled over this week's Illustration Friday prompt "puzzled".  Let's see, a Rubik's Cube?  Jigsaw puzzle?  Word Search!


I don't even know what it was that made me think of a giraffe, but I do like how the patterns in their hide fit together like pieces of a puzzle. 

Then I got curious about these patterns.  Did you know:

"Giraffe's patches are first and foremost for camouflage. But underneath each patch lies a very sophisticated system of blood vessels. Around each patch there is a quite a large blood vessel that then branches off into smaller vessels underneath the patch. 

A giraffe can send blood through these small branches into the middle of the patch in order to release heat through this system. Each patch acts as a thermal window to release body heat."


Pretty cool.   Literally.

And here I thought it would just be fun to paint one (which it was).

Friday, April 13, 2012

her cheatin' heart?

Even though the number was unfamiliar, I recognized the voice as soon as I answered the phone.  It was The Cheater.


The Cheater was a student of mine.  Her uncle called me to set up some tutoring because of her struggles in math.  She was taking an online class and was very vague about any details I tried to coax out of her.  Eventually, I got a clue that she was using our tutoring sessions to cheat.  *GASP!*

I stopped the tutoring, stopped the abetting.  She would have to find another partner in crime.   This was back in early December.  I hadn't heard from her, her uncle, or anyone else since.

Until last weekend.

I answered the phone to her familiar needy tone.  There was a mumble in the background *TELL HER 'HAPPY EASTER'*

"Uhm... Happy Easter Abby.  It's The Cheater"

*seriously?*  "Hi Cheater, Happy Easter".

"Could you come tutor me this week?"

Me to Myself:  No.  NO!

Myself to Me:  She sounds so needy, though.

Me:  Yeah, just like ALWAYS, remember??

Myself:  Maybe she's cleaned up her act.  It's been a few months.

Me:  It's the same way she lured you in the first time, and kept you around as long as she did!

Myself:  I can't figure her out.  Is she really that clueless, or is she really that conniving?

Me:  CONNIVING!   You are the clueless one if you say "yes".

"Actually, my schedule is full this week", I replied, glad to not have to waver with myself anymore.

More mumbling, more neediness...

"Oh.  Well.  Okay.  Thank you." 

"Okay, bye".


So then I felt kinda bad.  For about a minute.  And then I remembered how she pulled this same act before.  The please-help-me-because-I-have-to-pass-this-class-and-I'm-too-shy-to-ask-the-teacher-anything, which turned out to be the please-tell-me-all-of-the-answers-because-I-don't-really-want-to-learn-anything-I-just-want-to-get-credit-for-this-class.

Mom of Cheater called again Tuesday.

"Hi Abby, can you tutor Cheater Wednesday and Thursday?  She has her test on Friday".

"No, sorry.  I'm all booked until the end of the school year (not a lie, I really am - YAY).  I think what she really needs is some real tutoring to actually learn the material, and she is so far behind because she probably cheated herself into a class that is way over her head.  If she flunks and has to do the class over, I'd be happy to help out this summer", or something like that.  I'm pretty sure I left most of that middle part out, but the beginning and ending were there, along with...

"good luck".

Thursday, April 12, 2012

traffic king

I had some company this morning on the street.  Well, other than the usual company of traffic and pedestrians.  It was Chris, the part-time IT guy from school.

Chris, meet the blog.  Blog, meet Chris

He showed up across the street, set up a video camera and tripod, and began filming (is that an obsolete word?) the morning traffic.  I noticed that the traffic behaved a little better than usual.  I guess there's something about a guy with a video camera that gets people to fall in line, moreso than some chick in a loud vest with a stop sign. 

Once my shift was up, I crossed over and joined him.

"Hey, whatcha filmin'?", I asked.

He said his supervisor wanted him to film the morning speeders for some project.  While he was there, there'd only been one really blatant one - a dry cleaning van of all things. 

"Yeah, for some reason, they behave a little better in the morning.  It's more of a speedway in the afternoons", I told him.

"Oh, good to know", he said, "Maybe I'll come back out in the afternoon".

Then we wondered why that was.  Chris said he probably has more inclination to speed in the morning, to get to work on time.  After work, there's no rush.  I don't know why it is either.  School is out before the traditional "rush hour", so I'm not sure what demographic the afternoon drivers are from.  There are probably more high school kids going through at that time, but it's not them. 

It's women and old men for the most part. 

Women get the prize for worst drivers overall.  They speed, they go through red lights, they're more likely to be on the phone.  I just want to say, "COME ON!!  THAT'S NO WAY TO REPRESENT!"

Next are the old men.  By "old", I mean old enough so that every hair they have is white. 

The best drivers are clearly men on motorcycles.  Doesn't matter the age, doesn't matter the style of motorcycle.  Even the young guys on bullet bikes behave in a school crossing.  Once out of the school zone, however, they punch it. 

Of course, this is a small sample and probably not necessarily representative of traffic patterns in general.  Still, if we were to draw a conclusion?

Beware the dry cleaning vans being driven by women. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Confession: I have a violent past.

And present. And future.

Terri has recently been sharing how she's getting her buff on at the gym - the new exercises, the classes, the question of whether to wear or not to wear (underwear)...  Her latest adventure included some boxing action.  More power to her, I say!

Several years ago, I was looking for burn off some energy rather than just play video games enriching activities for the kids.  Martial arts seemed like a good idea.  Chaco and Wolfgang attended a couple of classes at the Y, but they weren't that satisfying.  There was a lot of yelling and standing at attention, but very little "street value" in my opinion.

I'd heard good things about boxing.  It's good exercise, builds both strength and stamina, and helps with self-defense awareness.  Plus, I liked the idea of boxing.  It seemed so "basic" - nothing fancy.  In fact, it's very UN-fancy.  Almost primal. 

I looked around and found a gym that not only trained "real" boxers, but also had classes for kids.  We signed up, and they did twice-a-week (or was it three?) classes for a year.

Meego was too young at the time, so while Chaco and Wolfgang were going through their paces, he and I would hang out in the waiting area. 

And, gee it looked like fun.

So I was paying attention, and I bought some stuff and started playing at home.  I still play at home.  Wanna see my stuff?

I got one of these Wavemasters.  It's not quite the same as a real heavy bag, but it doesn't require any hardware to hang from the ceiling and wreck your house and it can be easily stored out of the way.  This one is actually the second one.  I literally punched the stuffing out of the first one!  When I'm not punching the stuffing out of it, it resides here, in the space between my giga desk and Chaco's corner.

Another must-have is the gloves.  I got mine on the cheap online
Hand wraps can be found pretty easily too.

And that's really it.  See?  Basic. 

And it's fun, but I don't think it's technically "boxing".  I think qualifying as boxing requires that I get hit.

HAHAHAHahaha.... Not gonna happen.  "Primal", not "crazy"!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

beauty sleep

A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail notice from the high school of a mandatory meeting for parents of seniors.  Mandatory?  Really?  I took a bit of umbrage at that word "mandatory".  "What happens if I DON'T go?" the rebel in me wanted to know.

We won't know because the shut-up-it's-not-worth-fighting in me went with Chaco to the meeting last night.

Other parents there had the looks of people feeling the same way I was.  Looks that said, "Okay, I came to your presumptive 'mandatory' meeting, this better be worth it", or "I graduated high school a long time ago, what you mean 'mandatory'?!"  or "Clock's ticking.  Speak and I'm outta here".  It was a relatively painless power point presentation with the vice principal reading stuff to us from a handout packet.  Stuff about the few weeks between now and graduation, rah rah rah. 

I've been to my share of meetings.  Some have been good and worthwhile, but a few (read:  lots of them) have been quite boring.  And I used to work with a guy who was narcoleptic.  Interesting people those narcoleptics.

He fell asleep in just about every meeting I was in with him.  The first time it happened, I didn't yet know that he was narcoleptic and I thought he was just really studying the notes in his lap.  Then another coworker told me, "Nah, he's asleep". 

He was also newly married and his narcolepsy was causing problems with the wife.  It embarrassed her that he'd fall asleep while they had guests over.  I was a little more concerned about what happens when he drives.

I remember sitting next to him at a large meeting - a sort of pep rally - and the Big Wigs would be there pepping us up.  He and I were sitting near the back, and he requested that I elbow him good if he fell asleep. 

"Oh, okay Ross (his name was Ross)", I told him.  I knew I wouldn't do it.  Let the guy sleep, and I didn't like the idea of elbowing him "good".  As he drifted off with his trademark looking-at-lap posture, I contemplated ways I could make it look like he was awake (this gave my brain something to do during the boring meeting).  Ross was a nice guy, and I also wanted to help with the wife troubles.

I wish I'd thought of this guy's solution:


Monday, April 9, 2012

first world problems

I gave into peer pressure and am currently reading "The Hunger Games".   Each of the kids has read the series, and with all the hype of the movie being  in theaters now, Magnum checked it out from the library. 

It's a fast read, he finished it in a couple of days, so I started reading it to use up the rest of his loan period.

I don't read that many novels, although I do start a few.  I'm not someone that has to finish a book once I've started reading it.   If I don't like the writing, or if I'm just not getting into it for whatever reason, I can stop.  Maybe part of that is because I never purchase novels, so it's no real loss to not finish one that I start.  Okay, "never" is an extreme word, but I honestly can't remember the last one I bought other than those that the kids need for school.

Plus, we have these wonderful places called libraries. They buy the books, they store the books, if the books get trashed, they replace them... what's not to like? 

Well, for one thing, people who mark up library books.  Lookie this:

for shame
This is a page of a book I recently got from the library.  It is one of the few novels I've actually finished!  It helps that it was short.  I took a gamble and got it off the rack of "Staff Recommendations" for lack of any other inspiration.

See all the pencil marks?  Some previous reader marked up nearly every page of the book with underlinings and circled words and margin notes.  How rude. 

The marks were in pencil, so I occassionally would erase pages when I had my Super Pinky handy.  But sometimes my Super Pinky was, like, way in the next room or *horrors* on a different floor of the house.  I was forced to read the book while trying to ignore the chicken scratchings of that Other Person. 

I felt so violated.

Darn First World Problems.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Silver Liningness Sunday

Today is Easter.  We don't really do religious holidays.   Our trust in the Christian church has been sullied over the years, but that's another story.  When the kids were little, we did the egg hunt thing.  We actually did a spontaneous one last year.  For some reason, we had some hollow plastic eggs, so I hid some, and a few choice eggs had various amounts of cash in them.  That was one way to get teens to participate in an egg hunt.  I can't remember what led to it, but there were riches won.
"Ninja Eggs"
by a manga / anime artist friend

A friend of mine who also doesn't do anything particularly special for Easter says she explained the Christian Easter story with her young son who asked, "Did he look like a zombie?", referring to Jesus after the 3 days.  Seemed like a perceptive question to me.

But it is a nice spring day, and I am thinking "resurrective" thoughts. Maybe Easter would be a better time than New Year's for resolutions.  This was a good busy week and one of purposeful feeling work, and I almost forgot my pledge of saying "no" when I should.  But then I remembered and it's all good.

Happy Easter!  May it be resurrective and fertile!

Saturday, April 7, 2012


It's another Illustration Friday Saturday where this week's prompt is "vocal". 

And just who IS this opera Viking woman  character anyway??

Quite simply it comes from the character of Br├╝nnehilde in Wagner's opera the Ring of the Nebulung. The character is based on Norse mythology. Brynhildr, as she is known in the Norse legend, is a shieldmaiden ... a servant of Odin.

In Wagner's Ring Cycle, Siegfried slays the the dragon. Then enters the castle and awakens Br├╝nnehilde by removing her helmet and cutting off her chainmail armour.  He falls in love at first sight and proposes marriage to her with the magic ring.

Didn't know I was so cultured, didja!? 

Okay... I googled it.

Friday, April 6, 2012

epic friday

...on Good Friday.

Every once in a while (a.k.a "very rarely"), Magnum and I have a day off on the same day while the kids have regular school days.  These rarities usually fall on Fridays, so I refer to them as "Epic Fridays".  Today is an Epic Friday.

I don't currently have any tutor students on Fridays, so once the morning crossing guard duty was fulfilled the playing-hookiness began. 

Now, we're all adults here (maybe?), but I don't want to be too graphic.  Suffice it to say that we did things today that we hardly ever have the opportunity to do.  Most of the readers here know what it's like having the busy schedules, kids coming and going at random times, neighbor friends popping over, etc...

Well not today.  Today we had some uninterrupted time just to ourselves.  No having to watch the clock, no having to keep the noise down, no having to keep one ear trained on the door at all times...
Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.

I'm talking long, leisurely, deliberate...


In a real restaurant with servers that take your orders and bring them to your table and keep your beverages replenished and clean up after.  And it was gooooooood.

It's a wonder I can even still walk.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

what she doesn't know about what I don't know

I was at a student's house yesterday.  This is the first time I've been to her home.  It's a typical house in a typical residential tract.  Nothing pretentious or ornate or hoity toit or keeping-up-with-the-Jonesy.

As we made our way to the modest unpretentious table, I was stopped in my tracks by THE most immaculate, most impressive, most magnificent fish aquarium I have EVER seen.  Really, EVER.

Google image - student's is better

That includes pet stores, doctor's offices, Chinese restaurants... even zoos.  Okay, the zoo might have some more exotic creatures in their aquariums - and really, how cool would it be to have a tank full of piranhas in your house! - but this aquarium was truly stunning.
I recently blogged about my own aquarium shortcomings.  Suffice to say that this girl's tank made mine look like a chum bucket at best.  On that note, I did get a new hood light and am hoping for the best.

Eventually, I snapped out of my gawking state and complimented her on the state of her aquarium.  There's actually quite a science to keeping and maintaining a healthy aquarium and I've still got much to learn.  

She told me that she enjoys it too and that she has a smaller one (20-gal) in her room.  This one is a 70-gallon fish paradise.  I was impressed that she is the main fish keeper of the household.

Then we settled in to our studies, me assuming my coach / mentor / role model part, she assuming her pupil / sidekick / protege' one.  As we sat there in the glow of the tropical inspiration, I was thinking it's good that she doesn't know about my tank of scum, sparsely populated with upside down gassy fish. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


There's new stuff going on.  For one, we turned another page on the calendar and welcomed a new month.  Hello April, nice to meetcha.

I've signed up for another month of daily blogingness.  Here's the badge:

NaBloPoMo April 2012

Care to join??

This week, I signed on with a second tutoring service, and I THINK that was a good decision.  The service I've been working with since the fall is an online matching service and has served me well.  I like using a service because then I don't have to deal with marketing and collecting money and all that blah blah.  They take a cut, of course, and I'm totally good with that.

This second service I just latched onto has real-life people that go around to local schools to match their tutoring needs.  It seems like it will be a good complement to the online service.  I just don't want to get too busy because sometimes I have a hard time saying "no".

On Monday, I met with the director at an upscale sandwich shop in an upscale shopping center.  He bought me tea and signed me up.  Please remind me to say "no" if need be.

In a somewhat related story, Chaco is on his third English teacher of the year.  The teacher he started out with ended up having to take medical leave for the remainder of the year.  She was replaced by a (warning:  oxymoron ahead) "permanent substitute".  I never met Permanent Substitute - let's refer to her as PMS - I just heard Chaco's occassional tales of woe.

She sounded arrogant and condescending, but he tolerated it.  I don't worry too much about teachers with poor skills, because I've lost some confidence in public school over the years anyway.  Plus, to be honest, they're kinda good for the tutoring biz... heh.

Anyway, PMS up and left right before spring break.  A friend of mine who substitute teaches has now taken over the class.  I ran into her at the library on Saturday when  I was invigilatiing.  She asked if I would have Chaco e-mail her and let her know what the class was doing since PMS left no notes, no anything.  Sure, no problem.

I told Chaco, "Mrs. C is going to be your English teacher now".

Chaco:  Yeah, I heard

Me:  She would like to know where the class was since PMS didn't leave any information.

Chaco:  Pfffft... figures

Me:  So will you send her an e-mail?  Nothing major, just tell her what the class was doing just before spring break.

Chaco:  Well... we were just all cheering and hugging because PMS was leaving...

Okay, so maybe go back a few days before that...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

prophets in the wind

We had record high temperatures over the weekend.  On Sunday, I was seriously contemplating taking a second shower, it was downright hot.

Yesterday afternoon, back to crosswalk duty after spring break week, a couple of my regular customers were making predictions.  We stood there in the blustery wind, our respective hoodies revealing just small portions of our rosy cheeked faces.

Purple hood:  We're supposed to get 6 to 10 inches of snow.

Me:  Really?? *looks at the blue sky,  just a few clouds blowing around

Red hood:  Hey, maybe you won't have to work here tomorrow.

Me:  Don't count on it.  If I were you, I'd do my homework tonight.

But the hooded prophets were correct!  We're having a freaking snow day!  I think this is number 4 on the school year.

This morning, while not freezing at the crosswalk, I went onto my f*book to catch any teacher friend comments.  I wasn't surprised to see several:

"So yeah, I check my f*book rather than the district website to see if it's a snowday"  *addict*

"Snow day... F**K yes!" *whoa?*

Then I came across this:

OH WAIT, he's done it again.  Wolfgang has logged onto his f*book on "my" computer.   This is his feed, not mine!

Logoff!  LOG.  OFF!

I've seen our future.  It looks a lot like my past.

Monday, April 2, 2012


I've mentioned before that I spent my formative years in what, at the time, was THE "sex change capitol of the world".  My hometown no longer bears that distinction, but here in Colorado, it's still what it is best known for. 

I'm not sure what the overall perception of the place is, but sometimes it seems like many expect to go there and see a bunch of really big, broad-shouldered people in dresses and bad make-up.  I can say, having lived there during its heyday, most of us residents never even noticed.

Sure, there were the ones whose work required that they notice - the pioneering surgeon himself and others of the hospital staff.  Then there were the peripherals, like the floral shops and hotels.  My last four years living there, I worked at a hotel, the last two of which, I was a guest associate (desk clerk).

It was there that I met a few patients, and I can say that, had they not told me, I would have not known.  In fact, I'm sure I met many others who didn't feel a need to mention it, and I never knew.

I remember one in particular, who came wafting in through the front doors, just basking in the fact that she had arrived.

"GAWD, I've waited three years to be here!", she announced as she approached the desk.

Now, this was a small coal mining town with about five Catholic churches and about thirty bars.  I was thinking, "She's waited three years to be here??"  Then she explained.  OH, of course.

Last week I came upon this story about Jenna Talackova who was ejected from the Miss Universe Canada Pageant because she was born a boy.  Somebody did some pretty decent surgery.

There are, of course, opinions on both sides.  Is she really a woman?  Should she be allowed to compete? 

To me, I say yes, she's a woman, no matter what her chromosomal make up.  Of those few that I've met, I can say that many of them would probably have committed suicide or something similar if not for their surgeries.  It's definitely not something that's taken lightly.

Should she be allowed to compete?  Magnum and I were discussing it because I said I felt that those against her competing had valid arguments. 

"She's got less fatty tissue.  She doesn't have the cyclic bloating-water retention-skin eruptions.  In a competition based on physical beauty, this unlevels the playing field", I intelligently laid out.

"Ah, let her compete", he said, "She looks good, let her go for it"

Maybe he's right.  I don't give much attention to beauty pageants anyway, so it's not worth fretting over.  But if nothing else, she's getting some good press.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Silver Liningness Foolish Sunday

I had trouble getting the computer going this morning.  I had trouble logging in, then once I got logged in, the volume was on full blast and I had trouble turning it down because my mouse was non-functional. 

 Upon closer observation:

QWERTY no more

something's different...


And I embarrassingly admit that I didn't notice this until after I'd checked all of my connections.---------------->

Meego came down for some XBOX action to find it not working.  Turns out the batteries were turned around in his controller.

This has "Chaco" written all over it.  I think I'm back in control, but maybe that's a carefully plotted sense of false security.  The day is still young.

BUT I'm in silver liningness mode nonetheless!   This was a nice week for several reasons.  Spring break for the kids and the weather behaved appropriately. I had to work a little each day, but it was nice to be free of the crossing guard wars for a week. 

Magnum took Friday off, and in the afternoon we took a hike in an area we've never been before.  It's a beautiful and relatively unknown spot.  We concluded that it's purposely not well-marked or advertised in order to keep it from being overrun.  There were a few local types around, and that was it.  Magnum found out about it because he does stuff like that.

It's a rather steep trail to get to the goods. The trail name was something boring like "trail to the reservoir". I re-christened it "Buns-of-Steel Trail" for obvious reasons.

Once there, we basked in the dam beauty of the dam surroundings with some dam ducks.  My damn phone pic doesn't do it dam justice. 

We'll definitely return, and next time, maybe we'll bring some dam lunch.