Thursday, April 28, 2005

Rewarding bad behaviour

Shame, shame, shame on "A Current Affair."

A five-year old flipped out, started punching the principal, and ended up being handcuffed. A sorry state of affairs all around. But that's not the end of it. Ohhhhh, nooooooo. Now, the misbehaving child is being rewarded with her fifteen minutes of fame, courtesy of "A Current Affair."

I don't think that Pat O'Brien is the only tabloid TV rat in need of a stint of rehab.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


The Appletini, a thing of beauty. Posted by Hello

I wonder if Hallmark makes a card that says, "Congratulations! Your husband does not have MS. So we're shipping him off to Iraq!"

Turn off the TV week

I guess it's that time of the year again - time for a voluntary moratorium on television. It's a moot point for us. We are entering our ninth month without television. We find ourselves in good company. Like Stacy Teicher, a Christian Science Monitor columnist, our TV-less experiment has morphed into a lifestyle. I like it.

Having broken away from the box, I now see the medium of television as a strange, contrived, manipulative beast. Ms. Teicher commented that, as a result of her TV exile, "I found myself resensitized, no longer absorbing images without noticing their warp speed."

My dad used to lament that violent TV images caused people to become desensitized. How right he is. Over the Easter weekend, we found ourselves in an environment in which TV was the focal point. The Terri Schiavo debacle dominated the 24 hour news channels. It was decreed by someone in our group that the channel was to be changed immediately. Fair enough. But that same someone chose, for purposes of entertainment, to watch an episode of CSI in which the plot focussed on the gruesome murder and literal butchering of a chef. These stylized images were absorbed without a blink.

As Bono sings,
And it's true we are immune/
When fact is fiction/
And TV, reality

Monday, April 25, 2005

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree ..

A vignette, from the house of the Miniature Rose.

Setting: Dining room/kitchen area. My seven-year old son had just cleaned the table with a spritzer bottle and rag. He's just out of my line of sight as I start to draw his bath.

Mom: It's time to get ready for your bath

Seven year old: Not yet!

Mom: Now, dude!

Seven year old: I can't. I have unfinished business.

Mom: *blink* *blink* Oh? What unfinished business would that be?

Seven year old: I'm cleaning the floor.

Seven year old is spraying diluted cleanser onto the floor and wiping up the the pawprints that the dog had just introduced to the foyer

Seven year old: See? I told you I had unfinished business!

Mom is briefly flustered but agrees that the bath can wait for a few minutes, given the circumstances

Mom realizes that the kiddo is not a complete clone of his father, and some of her DNA was indeed passed on to her son

Sunday, April 24, 2005

CBC: Not so boring any more!!

I have always loved U2. The Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum comprised the soundtrack to my life, half a lifetime ago. Ten minutes ago, I was listening to The Best Of 1980 - 1990 as I cleaned the kitchen. In my peripatetic life, U2 is a constant.

Yesterday, Anthony Germain interviewed Bono on CBC Radio One's The House. I was astounded by Bono's deep and clear understanding of Canada and of Third World issues.

Appletini induced question: What do the people who actually know Bono call him? Does his wife say "Bono, pick up some milk on the way home?" or does she call him Paul? How about Sting? What does his wife call him?

Friday, April 22, 2005

Two blocks north of Walter Reed Army Medical Center Posted by Hello

Cliche du jour. Georgia Avenue NW, Washington DC. Offered without further comment. Posted by Hello

T-Rex Skeleton, Discovery Channel Headquarters (AKA Mecca), Silver Spring MD.  Posted by Hello

Maryland crab cake meal, Silver Spring MD, April 20, 2005. Posted by Hello

Cherry blossoms, Washington DC, April 20, 2005 Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Our New Toy

When my husband came back from South Korea last month, we did a little bit of shopping and named it Wolfgang. Hubby wished to accessorize Wolfgang with a satellite radio, and did his usual schtick of heavy internet and hands-on research. Being a boring old git dedicated CBC listener, I was completely ambivalent about that whole XM versus Sirius thang. I told him to get whatever he wanted .. I'd still be listening to CBC.

I hopped off the fence and decreed that we would get a Sirius radio immediately when I heard the news that Martha Stewart had inked a deal with Sirius for a 24 hour channel. It's a Good Thing.

Witnessing honour and grace

Yesterday, I found myself in a space that is physically and emotionally unlike any other place that I've been. My husband had an appointment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. While we received no definitive answers to my husband's current health challenges, certain diseases and disorders were ruled out. Knowing that the problems are not yet solved, I was feeling relieved and blessed at that moment nevertheless.

It was a long day. Steve had to check in to the Tricare office early in the morning, and then we had to wait several hours for his actual appointment. There could not have been a more perfect day to "hurry up and wait." An April heat wave smiled upon the nation's capital. Washington's famed cherry trees were in full, exuberant blossom, and we enjoyed coffee and one another's presence on the front lawn of WRAMC. We were not alone .. there was a young couple soaking up the sun as well. They would have been completely unremarkable, save that the young man was in a wheelchair. Both of his legs were gone.

Eventually, it was time to go back inside. As we approached the main entrance of the hospital, a tall and distinctive figure caught my eye. He was impeccably dressed in a navy suit, despite the unseasonable warm 87F temperature. He was speaking with the young couple. It was clear that he was giving them his undivided attention. He seemed to be genuinely "in the moment" as he posed for photographs with the couple. His sharp military bearing was undiminished by a paralyzed right arm.

The distinguished older gentleman was Bob Dole. He is a regular visitor to WRAMC.

I pray that we never meet him.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


I've been amusing myself with Google Maps. Fun, fun, fun!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

New board minutes have been posted

It only took 2 months, but Board of Education minutes from meetings held on February 3rd and onwards have now been posted on the Indian River Central School District website.

I haven't posted anything about the current budget crisis lately because .. beh, what can be said? I attended the board meeting on March 31st. There was a positive buzz in the air, as Senator Wright had just informed IREA and the Board that in the freshly passed State Budget, (on time for the first time in 21 years! hooah!) additional funding had been procured for the school district. Of course, each time this news was discussed, a different figure was disclosed. It was not clear, to me at least, how the board planned to spend the extra money coming its way. The minutes from that particular meeting are not yet posted. Don't rush or anything .. it's not like anyone's jobs are on the line. {end sarcasm}

I won't pretend that I could do a better job of managing a large corporation with a huge budget. I don't want to be a mere heckler sitting in the peanut gallery. But during the aforementioned meeting on post last month, the superintendent used the old "tighten up the household budget" analogy to explain how the district intended to weather this financial storm. That's music to my ears. You need your household budget tweaked? I'm your hausfrau. I run a tight ship and this household is doing just fine, thankyouverymuch. While my husband's base pay remains constant, with annual increases given by grace of the Senate Armed Services committee, our actual income does fluctuate when DH is deployed or TDY. I do not build those allowances (overseas cost of living, family separation, etc) into the daily and monthly operating expenses of our family and household. Rather, those extra funds are earmarked for improvements to the house which, in turn, raise the value of our investment and/or decrease our household operating expenses. This hausfrau wonders why the same philosophy has not been applied to the fluctuating school budget. Just curious, that's all.

And while we're making analogies, here's one that's been bouncing around in my head:

In the Army, there's a saying that the system's organization is a series of concentric circles. The center of the circle is the "11 Bravo" - the infantryman. Everything else in the army exists to support the infantry. Based on my observations, the classroom teacher is the 11 Bravo of the school. No offense to any support staff. If I were the Queen of the Universe, classroom teaching positions would be the very last items cut from the budget .. only after all other avenues had been explored. However, according to the Budget Recommendations this is where the bulk of the savings will take place. Sigh .. I've seen this so many times before. The people in the expensive suits look at the "pie" and say .. "Hey! Look how big that piece of the pie is!" And then they get out their knives and start slashing. Nurses, teachers .. same song, different chorus.

Oh, and one more little tidbit of information. Last night, we were visiting friends who live in the village of Black River (Town of Leray, Carthage School District). Jimmy's school tax levy this year is about $24 per $1000 assessed value. That's an increase of about $6 per $1000, or 25%, since 2002 (latest figures available on the New York State Office of Real Property Services website.) Last September, our School Tax bill was a whopping $350, or about $6.60 per $1000. That's an increase of about 8 cents per thousand since 2002. Ouch. The local tax levy accounts for a very small portion of the district's budget - about $1.8 million last year. If my math is correct, a 10% increase in the local levy would generate about $180,000. That's equivalent to four classroom teachers (average salary + benefits = $45K) at a cost of $35 to this household. If my $35 is all that it would take to keep my son's classroom teacher employed by this district, I'll pony up right now. Would you like that in a check, or is cash all right?