Monday, May 2, 2011

The thirteen-year symphony

Three days ago I awoke to a sound I have, for as long as I can remember, associated with the sound of Star Trek phasers and other "laser" weapons. I joked with Kevin that the Romulans were drilling in the woods behind our house. The noise, a continuous vibration in C#, lasts from sunup to sundown. The ones closer by sound like bugs; you can hear the individual voices. However, the millions of them singing from the tops of the trees for miles around blend together into a single eerie voice emanating from all corners of the earth. It is a beautiful and alien sound made even more precious by the rarity of its occurrance.

Though we have many cicada species living in our midst, Brood XIX, only emerge every thirteen years. They will spend a few weeks singing from the tops of the hardwood trees, mate and die. Their offspring will spend the next thirteen years underground, feeding on sap from tree roots before they make their journey to the surface to molt, climb skyward and sing.

Or, rather, most of them will.

Some will spend their final days amusing our resident entemologist.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Diagon Al

Diagon Al is a previously un-named tetra we've had for almost two years. At one point the kids referred to him as "Fred" because he was bigger than the other four tetras who were interchangeably called Daphne, Velma and Shaggy (they are much harder to tell apart). Eventually, they all just became "the fish" and seemed to have no distinguishing characteristics. That is, they were indistinguishable until a few weeks ago when Fred's rear swim bladder gave out.
We found him swimming in a persistent diagonal orientation with his nose toward the surface and his tail angled down behind him. He bobbed along in little bursts of elevation, nose ever tilted toward the surface of the water. His appetite seemed fine, but he seemed to struggle to stay off the gravel at the bottom of the tank. I thought his days were numbered and I said a little prayer for his little fishie soul. But days went by and Fred didn't die. He still bobbed along, oriented at a 45-degree angle. We began to call him Diagonal Fish, then later Diagon Al;

Diagon Al is a portrait of perseverance. Though he can no longer glide and rest like the other fish, and his gills have enlarged under the strain of their new workload, Diagon Al soldiers on.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My husband sent me this today, but I'm not sure where it came from. Probably National Review... I apologize for not including attribution (promise, I will!) but I had to share this. It is going on the shelf in my brain that houses my pet peeve about English teachers I know who say things like "I like these shoes WAAAAAY better than my other ones." or use the word "like" or "went" to indicate an upcoming quote, as in: "So, I'm like 'Get away from me!' and he went 'You know you really want me to!'"

Grammar Rules Optional

I'm sure the Obama administration will assure us that his national address to the nation's schoolchildren is meant as a genuine educational opportunity, and is not, in any way, shape, or form, some hastily thrown-together effort at indoctrinating children with propaganda from a president with sinking poll numbers.

Indeed, it's quite reassuring to read the Department of Education's preparatory materials sent to schools, as long as you overlook all of the typographical errors:

No hyphen for school-wide, and apparently we're now German and capitalizing nouns, no matter where they are in a sentence.

But apparently not "congress," even when referring to the U.S. Congress:

Apparently the Department of Education doesn't think

Reassuring to know these are the folks in charge of educating our children. Well done, Obama administration. Well done.

Monday, August 17, 2009

This is a TEST

This is only a test so I can see where Facebook will put this post now that I have linked my blog to my facebook page.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Where I turned Right

I am in a reminiscing mood today. I think it started when I heard an old high school classmate, Angela Bleckley (or, as it turns out, someone I thought was my old classmate), won a contest on the radio this morning. In high school I was a certified, card-carrying liberal. I was a product of my home and school environments. So where did I turn right?

I didn't have a sudden epiphany. I didn't wake up one morning and think "Wow. Everything I've thought up to now is a bunch of hooey!" It happened little by little, bit by bit. Kind of like how you eat an elephant: one bite at a time.

The first non-liberal thought I remember having was when I was managing a Papa John's Pizza restaurant. I had a terrible employee. Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, I was NOT a fun person to work for and, in fact, have been told by many ex-employees that they often fantasized about killing me, hacking my body to pieces and disposing of me in several different dumpsters throughout Athens. But I digress. I had a terrible employee. He was a man of about 45 and a single parent. He smoked so much that the sour, sweaty smell of old cigarette smoke permanently clung to his clothes and oozed from his pores. He always looked slightly greasy. He was certain I was promoted to manager (instead of him) because of some inappropriate favoritism. The fact that I made a better pizza, looked and smelled cleaner and worked harder never entered his mind. The fact that he was transferred to my store as an assistant manager after he had put in a bid to become the store manager galled him. Instead of focusing his attention on improving his performance, he spent his energies bad-mouthing me to the other employees, griping about my expectations (like a store that was clean when I came in at 9 in the morning or labor costs that were kept at or below the standard set by our corporate office).

Again - in the interest of full disclosure - I wasn't a fun person to work with. But I didn't ask anyone to work harder than me or perform any task I wouldn't do. Eventually the terrible employee became openly hostile to me (not threatening, just rude and defiant) I decided I had enough of the rebellious teenager act and I cut his hours. He quit.

I didnt' realize this was the act of a non-liberal until I talked with my mother about it. She knew the bs he dished out to me on a daily basis, but she didn't say "Good, I think morale should improve without him there to feed everyone's little complaints". She said "He has two children doesn't he? Shouldn't you think about them??"

I must be a horrible person, because my only thought for his kids was that it was awful that they had a Dad who didn't care enough about them to do his very best at his job and actively worked to make his boss's life harder (which is a SURE way NOT to get recommended for a promotion). This was the first sign.

Later I noticed that I was constantly correcting my friends who championed "Fair Wage" laws. At a time when the minimum wage was barely $5 an hour, they maintained that minimum wage should be $10. I explained in terms I knew intimately. "If you double the cost of labor, the cost of the product will go up at least 30%. And that's only if the supply companies don't have to start raising THIER prices to cover the increases in THIER labor costs. Which they will. So pizza would probably come close to doubling in price" I told them. "Then the $10/hr minimum wage would have the same buying power as the previous $5/hr minimum wage did. Besides, if you work hard, you will get raises and you won't keep making $5 and hour."

"No, no no" they all said, "Big companies can stand to trim their profits. They don't need to make that much. They need to share the profits with the people who do the actual work." (Okay- following that logic, can the CEO's and investors count on the "little people" to absorb some of the losses when business isn't going so well? Probably not.

Then there were the activists in my little town (which, at the time, was Athens, GA) who complained to the city council about students who rented houses in their neighborhoods. Actually, it wasn't the fact that students were renting in their neighborhoods. It was that some of the students were noisy, had noisy parties and LOTS of cars parked in their yards as well as up and down the streets. So ordinances were passed that prohibited more than two non-married people from living in the same house (rather than stepping up enforcement of existing ordinances for noise and parking). This effectively drove most students out of the rental houses in Athens and sparked a demand for more student housing in the form of apartment complexes.

The same activists who clamored for the removal of the students from the "residential" neighborhoods were also concerned about preserving Athens' "Green Space". Which made it harder to put in the new apartment complexes needed to house the students who could no longer live in residential neighborhoods.

And the same activists are the ones who put up a hue and cry when developers of lower-income housing decided to cash in on the not-so-low income housing boom. When a decrepit trailer park on North Avenue was sold to developers who wanted to upgrade the property to student-oriented apartment housing these same people who wanted the students OUT now wanted to keep the residents of a trailer park IN (or maybe they were afraid an extended family from the trailer park would band together to be able to afford a house in their neighborhood. ) At any rate, they protested the sale of the property (as if the land owner had no right to sell his own property).

They protested the removal of the mobile homes because many were in such bad condition they could not be moved and remain safe to use as dwellings. It was the opinion of these concerned citizens that the owner of the property (and maybe the folks buying the property) should subsidize the residents of the trailer park and help them move. I guess if you rent a cheap place to live for long enough the land owner becomes kind of like your parent. "Junior, it's time for you to move out. You're 32 and I want to turn your old room into a sewing room, so I'll pay a deposit on your new apartment and split the cost of the rental truck with you. Does that sound fair?"

Now I'm all for having compassion for folks in need, but wouldn't it have been more appropriate for the concerned citizens to simply host a fund-raising drive to help the trailer park move rather than blame the land owner for exercising his right to sell his property?

This was another sign, but it was still a few years before I realized I was not a liberal anymore. There were many years of "Well, I'm more of a libertarian on that issue..."

Eventually, though, the truth became apparent to even me. It took several years, but I ate that elephant, one bite at a time.

Toto, I have a feeling I'm not a liberal anymore.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


The first question that comes to mind when reading the news these days is "Have any of these people read George Orwell's book, 1984???"

If you don't have a copy, you can read it here:

Note to Shelley, my faithful reader, I promise to update my blog properly this evening. I am still working this blogging habit into my schedule. I don't know how you manage three blogs with five kids.

Monday, April 20, 2009

__________There's Tennis Elbow, Jogger's Knee, and now....

I have Knitter's Wrist. Seriously.

In January of this year I learned to knit so I could teach the girls in my Girl Scout troop. I started with a hat and a scarf. Then made a half dozen more hats, a few more scarves, two pair of legwarmers, a prayer shawl and a little purse between January and April. Somewhere around March, my wrist began to hurt. I would wake up with a sharp pain just below my thumb and general stiffness in my wrist, thumb and forefinger. By breakfast I had forgotten about it - or at least, I forgot about it my lunchtime for the first couple of weeks. Each morning I assumed I had "slept on it wrong".

By the end of the month it was sore all of the time and I was taking great pains to prop up my arm at night, so I was pretty sure the problem wasn't nocturnal posturing.

I also have a severe case of procrastination. At least as far as this blog is concerned. I keep finding other things ahead of posting on my to-do list. I'm thinking a shorter to-do list may be in order.

Anyhoo - now that I've bored the censors with the nattering about my feeble wrist, I can switch the topic to our current training program for the right-wing youth in the house. Knitting may appear to be a useful way to keep idle hands busy, but this craft offers more than just a collection of unique sweaters, hats and scarves. Knitting needles are not very sharp, but when applied with a moderate ammount of force to soft body parts (eyes, groin, etc) can be used to inflict quite damaging puncture wounds. Even in the hands of a young patriot, accurate aim to these areas can go a long way toward making up for lack of strength. Further, these needles can be "hidden" in plain sight. Nothing looks less menacing than an angelic, nine-year-old girl knitting a scarf for her grandma. Never underestimate the element of surprise.

Another addition to our training program is survival camps. We have successfully disguised them as children's sleepovers or "campovers" as we like to call them. I have posted some wonderful pictures from our last training camp. To further obscure the true intent of this meeting with our youth, we served birthday cake and cupcakes. Children can learn the proper way to light a fuse from observing the lighting of birthday candles. Additionally, the children learned campfire cooking using hot dogs and marshmallows. Squirt guns were on hand so they could help manage any stray sparks from the bonfire while also improving their firearm techniques. My proudest moment was when the children, armed only with walkie-talkies and a handful of clues successfully located a box of bubble solution and bubble wands hidden deep within the woods. The scavenger hunt directions included many "double backs" - a very basic technique for keeping hidden in the woods as it creates false scent trails. Later we will teach them "Tarzan" moves which obscure the trail by moving it up and off the ground. Henry is already showing promise in this area.