Friday, December 28, 2007


That's right folks, it's time for the NaNoWriMo equivalent to New Years' Resolutions: The Year of Doing Big, Fun, Scary Things Together. Want to learn to pilot a plane? Get your house clean? Finally lose that last nagging 5 pounds? Improve your tennis game? Get in on the action with the same lovable people who brought you National Novel Writing Month and Script Frenzy for this year's Big Fun Scary Things. You know you want to, and what better way to start than with a worldwide support group?

My Big, Fun, Scary Goals for this year are:

1) Get up on time.
2) Spend at most 3-4 hours per day on the internet, including over weekends and breaks. Oh, this one will hurt.
3) Attend at least one job fair and apply for at least three separate jobs by the time I graduate in May.
4) Apply for 3 grad schools by the end of January.
5) Exercise twice a week - my choice of yoga, running, bicycling (riding to campus and back doesn't count), swimming, and weight lifting. If it goes well, increase to 3 times a week by the end of the year.
6) Find and buy a house under $75k. Make it work out with my new job placement.
7) Wedding plans. Need I say more?
8) When I have a job, put away $50 every month (if possible) toward buying something nice.
9) Take the PA MSF course.
10) Keep one room in the apartment (probably the kitchen) CLEAN. Dishes washed and put away, laundry not left in the washer/dryer, table cleared off, stove clean, floor mopped and vaccuumed, fridge cleaned out regularly and bills in the caddy. If possible, spread clean-ness to other rooms!

I posted it on the forum, I'm posting it here, and when I get back to PA I'll post it on my wall. It will stare at me until I finish every last goal and check them off with a fat red Sharpie. I'll be updating my progress in this thread if you'd like to keep track of me, goad me on, yell silly things as you fly by on the wave of your own new goals, or just feel like some time-wasting reading: Mossy's Personal Goals Checklist. Don't let me forget to update!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Bits of frustration...

(From an IRC chat log)

[faerunner] [jen] Faerunner, one of the things about kids; they hate being treated like children.
[faerunner] I know, I was one ;p
[faerunner] I try not to but it's hard in a classroom - you can't expect them to know everything or even control themselves quite as well so you sometimes HAVE to direct them like they're still toddlers
[faerunner] especially with this group - if they were more capable of independent action I'd not mind so much but they are like puppies still when I try to get them to work on things without me - all of them need individual attention and they all need it NOW
[faerunner] It's frustrating to me
[faerunner] I can't be 25 places at once
[faerunner] and I can't explain to all of them because once you lose their attention, unless they ask you for something, they won't listen at all.
[jen] There are always ways and means. Dangle a carrot and when you have and they reach for it, hit them with clean cold logic
[jen] If they are that attention hungry, I wonder how much they get from their parents.*
[faerunner] It's a poor area - parents might care but not have time for the kids (lots of them work full time and a few are 40+ hours a week for sure)
[faerunner] And I know at least two are from broken families, a few more are just emotionally immature for various reasons (asperger's, general lack of social skills, apathy)
[faerunner] And Jen, I can't dangle carrots because no one carrot applies to the whole class, and I have no time nor energy these days for individualizing 'carrots' for every kid, even if I had the skill and experience to do so
[faerunner] I'm still learning, remember
[faerunner] :p
[ss] You... enjoy working with kids? :<
[faerunner] I mean, I'm sure I could say "oh hey, you can't have recess today if you don't do your work" but that only works so many times
[faerunner] and "I'll give you candy" doesn't work because I don't have any
[faerunner] :p
[faerunner] Ss: Yes, on some level
[ss] Sounds like a total nightmare. :O
[faerunner] I'm just constantly running up against walls put up by bureaucracy.
Or by parents.
And it's like... I would LOVE to teach what the kids want to learn, when they want to learn it, and show everyone just how awesome learning can be, but the curriculum says this and the administrators say that and the school year is too short for that other thing...
[faerunner] :/
[faerunner] I like the -idea- of teaching and learning. The reality sucks most days.
* Jen needs to write the syllabi and incorporate "responsible decision making with a focus on having children or not"
[ss] Hmm. I understand what you're saying, to a certain extent.
[ss] Makes sense.
[faerunner] There is a serious need for education reform in this world
[faerunner] No one seems to have gotten it right.
* Faerunner shrugs and goes back to editing her lesson plans for tomorrow so the substitute can be expected to make himself useful
[jen] Doing it on a personal basis is not going to work, for there are many that can follow the script but few whom have the initiative or drive to write them, market and stand by them.
[ss] >_<
[faerunner] I seem to have turned this channel into an ongoing commentary on the quality of American education. I apologize ;p
[faerunner] I should be cranky in my blog instead

Somehow despite all of my "experience" with kids I still can't organize 11-year-olds well enough to get them through a 40-minute lesson in less than an hour. Is it just this class, this age group, or is it me?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween, WBC!

I don't normally appreciate the American justice system but this brought a smile to my face:

A jury has decided to essentially bankrupt the Westboro Baptist Church.

As much as I believe in freedom of speech, this "church" has been preaching hateful propaganda on people's front lawns for far too long, and I'm pretty sure that this kind of speech is not what we want to protect. Reverend Fred Phelps is very... "fervent" in his beliefs and I'd appreciate seeing him put on his knees for once. He seems to have forgotten humility in the war he's fighting against homosexuality, abortion, cohabitation, and just about everything else under the sun. His armada of web pages include (all of Canada! For passing anti-hate legislation), (what has Sweden ever done?), and (don't visit this one if you have any conscience because it will probably drive you to want to put a stake through Mr. Phelps). His children seem to be brainwashed and never given the opportunity to think for themselves - at the age of five they are holding signs that they can not even explain the meaning of yet (or if they can it's clearly been coached). It's disturbing on a humanitarian level, because of the sheer amount of hatred and "holier-than-thou" attitude the church members have (some of them remind me of overly smug Pomeranians), but also to me on a personal level because of the sheer amount of things these people are against that I see no issue with, and how little they have done as a group to help their fellow man (and isn't that in the Bible?).

Apparently even the first $2.9 million in compensatory damages (not including the other $8mil in punitive damages awarded) is three times the net worth of the entire "church". Something tells me I should feel guilty for feeling so satisfied with this ruling, but the rest of me is screaming "TAKE THAT, YOU JERKS!" and cheering madly, which has of course drowned out any guilt quite thoroughly.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thinking cheap

I've just discovered something that shouldn't have been a surprise at all: the "non-printable", "do not use these in inkjet or laser printers" transparencies that I bought actually do work for printing. At least, the one I printed looks good so far. It remains to be seen how well it actually shows up on an overhead projector, but I won't know that until tomorrow during my lesson.

When I first went looking for transparency sheets I expected that they'd just be one kind of all-purpose sheet, not one kind for laser printers and another for inkjets and another for both kinds of printers together (one kind on each side!) and yet another kind just for writing on! (How naive of me, you're all saying now. Any teacher should know that there are half a dozen different kinds!) I also expected that I'd be able to afford them. Oops! At $30 a box, I could only afford to pick up one box of transparencies and since they don't seem to come in a "writeable AND printable" variety (why not?!) I grabbed the writeable ones. I scribble on things more than I print anyway, right? Well, I needed to print out a topographical map for the contour maps lesson I'm teaching tomorrow and I realized I couldn't afford to spend $30 for the convenience of a single inkjet transparency (they come in boxes of 100, but I only need one). So, I did the typical cheap thing and went to see if my regular write-on transparency paper would suffice. It does.

The sources online told me that the ink would smear terribly, that it would dot up and not flow smoothly, and that it would turn my printer into an ink-dripping mess. Apparently the sources aren't familiar with our particular inkjet printer, because aside from a bit of dotting up which I can't see unless I squint, the transparency matches up perfectly with the paper version I printed. The borders and print are as clear as they're going to get, considering the map source (No offense to the USGS but most contour maps were not designed to be scanned and put online). I'm sure at some point I'll run into problems printing on "non-printable" transparency paper, but sometimes, it pays to think cheap.

Now if I could only figure out how to get my lesson plans written without wasting so much time, I'd be all set...

Sunday, September 30, 2007


Fae is sick of people lately. I have a co-worker who can't take directions from anyone on the same pay scale as her, we have to deal with a library employee who thinks it's her jurisdiction to work out schedules for security when she is only head of circ/reserve, my boss just got fired, my new boss is unknown but our department supervisor hasn't been spotted (at least by me) yet and our slightly more direct supervisor hasn't contacted us at all... I can't log in to submit my payroll hours so I can get a check in 2 weeks, and haven't gotten a check yet so this friday will be my first since the semester started, and I'm so tired of people not using turn signals that I swear I'm going to start carrying a loaded dart gun and shooting at their taillights next time I see someone doing it.

I am tired of full-grown, "educated", fully functioning adults who by all medical definitions are in their right minds acting like they have no idea what the words "Responsibility", "Teamwork", and "Planning" mean. There is no reason for any of this to have happened. My boss should still be here, the nosy other boss should be minding her own business, the co-worker could very easily make that little bit of effort to be here on time and the turn signals? Not even going there. No one's perfect but people around me are making mistake after mistake after mistake and not even apologizing for it, and it's driving me up a wall. I'm reasonable, but not after you've walked in late for the fifth time this semester with your cell phone to your head, and not done any of your work all night.

And to the co-worker who will never see this:
You are not a solo entity. Grow up. Learn to follow directions and work as a team. I was not ordering an inquest into your personal life, I was expressing concern that you weren't doing your job. And you're not. So I'm going to talk to someone about it, and if they decide to fire you, then good. If they don't I expect an improvement in your behavior. Yes, I did take a "management" role for a few days while no one knew what to expect. Excuse me for wanting things to run smoothly. I, like most people, enjoy it when something goes smoothly. But you, in your infinite self-worth, think I'm not high enough on the chain of command to ask where you were after you came in late yet again and told me that "no one comes in that early". I come in that early. So does at least one other co-worker. No one, to my knowledge, was told we could come in late, or the schedule should have been changed to reflect that. So please, either actually do your job, or I will gladly write you a reference for a new one, because I will not work with someone who puts their cell phone above their work.

And to the other co-worker, who is also coming in late or not at all (although I know you are busy with many other things): Give us a call when you're not coming in, ok? Please? I really don't want to have to tell our supervisor that you are pulling no-shows when you promised you would be here. I like you more than I like her, but that doesn't excuse your behavior and I'm starting to think I should complain about you too.

I'm a bit cranky, don't mind me. The weather's getting cold again, I'm tired, my wisdom teeth come out next week because the dentist re-scheduled me, the rent is due and there's just so much posturing going on around here that I want to scream. Why is it that groups of human beings are so inefficient unless controlled every step of the way?

I'm glad I'm going to be a librarian. Books don't have pissing wars.

Monday, September 10, 2007

"They had some pathetic translators"

Debate, en EspaƱol.

When I read the headline I had a fleeting hope that at least one of our leading politicians actually spoke to the public in fluent Spanish - but apparently the public isn't ready to accept bilingualism quite yet:
"The anchors asked questions in Spanish that were translated into English for the candidates. Answers were translated into Spanish for viewers.
Candidates had to provide their answers in English, a restriction criticized by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a fluent Spanish speaker whose mother is Mexican."

Personally, while I'm glad they're actually paying attention to the fact that many people of hispanic ancestry can and do vote, it feels more like the politicians are targeting another niche crowd rather than actually catering to the needs and wants of one of the most rapidly growing ethnic groups in the US.
"Though polls show that education and health care are bigger priorities than immigration for most Hispanic voters, anchors focused many of their questions on Congress' failed attempt to overhaul the country's immigration laws. All candidates pledged to promote an immigration overhaul in their first year of office."

What also irks me is the fact that so many people in this country still haven't accepted the fact that a lot of us actually -like- speaking two languages and welcome the opportunity for greater political and social diversity that hispanic culture can bring.
""This is a very, very bad precedent," said David Caulkett, vice president of Floridians for Immigration Enforcement and a Pompano Beach resident. "It's already difficult to keep track of politicians in English. ... [English] is the official language of Florida and the de facto language of our country."

Caulkett praised the decision of Republican candidates not to take up Univision on its offer of a Spanish-language Republican debate. Only Sen. John McCain accepted the invitation, while other candidates said they had scheduling conflicts." it just me, or does that sound like a pompous, protected, WASP-ish asshole to you? Seriously, while I respect the fact that most of the East Coast at least was settled by English-speaking settlers and that we already have a "rich and varied" history, Florida and most of the southwest was in the hands of the Spanish (and the native americans) long before we moved into Miami, and I see no reason for the United States to continue to ignore such a beautiful, rich, and large, geographically speaking, part of its heritage. Even Puerto Rico, which is technically a part of the US and which has a huge spanish-speaking population, is typically ignored. Considering how many Mexican immigrants alone we have living in this country and contributing to its welfare (and paying taxes! le gasp!), I for one am glad to welcome anyone who wants in and is willing to work like most of the rest of us do.

Getting the Hispanic (or other minority) vote is one thing. Following up on that vote by supporting programs that will open more bilingual schools for new immigrants, support legal immigration routes (thus detracting from the draw of the illegal ones) and allow people who want to be here a chance to stay is what I want to see. I'd also like to see some more globally-minded thinking in schools so that the promise of future generations isn't stunted by ethnocentrism - IE, get away from the "Dead White Men" curriculum (yes, it's useful as a teaching base, but it's limiting nonetheless and should be supplemented), start teaching languages (not only Spanish but French, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and others) at much earlier ages to encourage bilingual learners, implement better programs for immigrants like having them work with Habitat for Humanity to build their own housing or giving them cheap workshops on English, how to get a job, etc to help them get by. And yes, I would gladly pay taxes toward government-funded programs that supported immigration and assimilation in certain ways. Better yet, I'd volunteer for those programs and give it my all to help the newcomers learn.

I'd volunteer to teach all the adult ESL classes I could handle if the government would back me up by saying "Hey, it's ok to be new here, let's see what we can do for you!" instead of "Go back to Mexico, terrorist job-stealing scum!" But as usual, reality and practicality don't enter into politics often enough for anyone outside of them, and for every step forward one state takes in terms of welcoming the outside world, the others or the federal government will be here to take two or three paranoid steps back. Screw national security for once, and "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..." - terrorists aren't likely to strike in the same fashion twice if they know what's good for them anyway, and if someone wants in that badly, they'll come from the angle you weren't expecting, not the one you're building a fence along.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

It's been a "productive" week. I've spent the last 3 days in a workshop reviewing job-finding techniques, resumes, personal statements, graduate school applications and generally how to make my life go in the direction I want it to go in. My peers and I (about 40 of us, mostly seniors or super-seniors), finished up the seminar with an hour-long presentation to the incoming honors college freshmen. They seemed so... taciturn, as they sat there quietly taking in what we had to tell them. I remember when I was a freshman and how overwhelmed I was by the waves of information that orientation weekend brought, but these ones seemed more than overwhelmed.

I worry about the new students here. I wonder if they'll have a productive first semester, if they'll drop out, if they'll join clubs and make friends and support each other. It's not because I know they'll be supporting me some day (the next generation will be doing that), but because they'll be working with me some day. They're the people who I may end up relying on. I want them to be successful, not apathetic. But there were very few questions asked of us, and very few laughs, and it felt overall more like a lecture that we were forcing them to sit through than a lot of useful advice headed their way.

It makes me wonder where we're all headed. Time is a frightening concept.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Well, I can't sleep despite getting up at 7:30am yesterday morning and having another early morning in 6 hours, and I'm pissed off, so here's a late-night rant.

As some of you have probably heard, Act 114 was put into place in PA this year - a mandate which as of April 1, 2007 requires all prospective employees of a school district, including student teachers, to have a full set of fingerprints submitted to the FBI for a Federal Criminal History check before being allowed to set foot in a school building, bus or other related area. This is complete and utter BULLSHIT. I'm gonna say that word again, 'cause I like it. BULL. SHIT.

The law already requires me as a student teacher to keep two clearances updated yearly - the state Child Abuse History clearance (Act 151) and the state police Criminal Record Clearance. Both cost $10 per check no matter how many times you've submitted and come back clean before, and the fingerprinting, although supposedly one-time only, costs $40. I had to pay over a week's worth in food and gas money this year toward getting clearances which I personally find annoyances at best and unnecessary at worst. I'm unaware of any other state's codes regarding this, unfortunately, or I'd rant about everywhere else, too... but the fact is that in PA, they seem to think that "Think of the children!" means "Inconvenience the teachers!".

I've already submitted myself to the fingerprinting station once. The operator of the scanning equipment on site (it's optical, and it'll pick up all the dirt and grease you put on it, but it won't take a fingerprint scan worth beans, apparently) had to re-scan ALL of my fingers 4 times each just to get the program to take the "best ones" from each scan. The "entire fingerprint capture process should take no more than three to five minutes." BULLSHIT! 15-20 minutes is too long to be rolling my fingers around on a glass plate. Especially -and this is the part I'm really pissed about- because the FBI returned my fingerprints as UNREADABLE less than 2 weeks after their submission. Now, I'm glad they took their heads out of their asses long enough to give me a prompt (if soggy, because the mailman left the letterbox open in the rain again) reply, but I don't have the time to go in for a re-try, and if the scanning process hasn't changed my fingerprints aren't going to come out any better this time. They only give you one free re-scan, too. If they reject your prints a second time, you pay for the third and all subsequent re-scans. Personally I don't care about that kind of situation if it doesn't happen regularly but from what the scanner told me, this has happened to several people and it's the start of the school year already. If I were student teaching this semester and didn't actually have a few weeks (maybe) to finish the process, I'd be ripping my hair out.

So, rescans have to be done. I have a workshop this week, Thursday through Saturday, 9-4. With my sleep patterns as sporadic as they've been this summer it's hard enough getting up and going at 7:30 without having to go elsewhere but I want the re-fingerprinting over with fast, so I went in this morning (yesterday morning by now) at 8:30 to re-scan. The computer operator types like crap and the re-scan number is really long... and the scanning program won't take my SSN. The error it threw back completely baffled the operator, who (no offense) doesn't seem to know the second thing about computers (she knows the first - if it doesn't work, turn it off and turn it back on again!). She tried logging out and back in. No change (well, DUH!). She tried rebooting the computer. Same error. She tried looking up my info to make sure my SSN was right the first time (it was).
After half an hour (I'm now running slightly late to my be-there-on-time-or-make-a-bad-impression workshop) I told her flat-out that I HAD to go. Then she told me that despite the fact that the error (something to the effect of "Unused ssn not located") indicated that the computer was trying to submit me a new, individual record instead of re-scanning over the old matching one, which seems like a program issue to me, the real issue was that my ID number issued by Cogent for the re-scan didn't match my SSN, as if this were so obvious, and that I had to call them myself to get that figured out.

...when, exactly, will I find time for this, and how are they supposed to help me without the actual goddamn error message being read to them so they know what's going wrong? I have never worked in tech support but I know very well that calling and saying "Hi, your program told me something about my SSN and won't let me rescan" won't get me very far unless they're familiar with the error already. Plus, I'm not an employee or anyone who has access to the system to fix it, so any instructions they give me won't help, unless the problem really is what the operator says (doubtful, but with my luck their system actually didn't update or something happened to my record, and won't get fixed for weeks, and nothing I do will help anyway).

As for the fingerprinting process itself- there's a little ink-box type container on the desk in the fingerprinting room which is labeled something like "Fingerprinting prep solution" but no one has even -looked- at it when I've been there. I thought about asking whether they should be using it but I get the impression they'd tell me they didn't know how. On top of that the scanner's glass is covered in other people's fingerprints and grease, and when they clean it, it usually leaves fine smears on the glass which make my fingerprints even harder to read. Then of course it's very touchy about where on the huge surface you're allowed to put your finger to get it within a tiny box, and how hard you press, and if you shift your finger even a millimeter when you're not supposed to it beeps at you and you have to re-start the scan.

I'm sorely tempted to find some ink and a sheet of clean paper and do my prints myself. I'll mail them in to Cogent with a note saying that if they want me to be fingerprinted again with an optical scanner it damn well better be so precise it can pick up my pores, and it better do it right the first time. I'll also tell them that their fingerprint station operators are numbskulls and that $40 is an absurd price to pay for a poorly set up computer system in a back office and this much stress. I'll also write a letter to my local representatives asking them who the fuck passed this piece of crap legislation.

"Think of the children" is a bullshit excuse to impose legislation on media and behaviors that people should be able to handle on their own, like video game ratings of "Mature" (parents should be reading about the games their kids play!) or radio programming (if you know what's on, and you don't like it, CHANGE THE CHANNEL). I don't care how many more child predators they think they're going to catch by submitting prints to a federal database as well as the state one. If an offender isn't registered they're not likely to be caught by a set of fingerprints and if they are you probably already knew since they have to register! As far as other crimes go, I'm not convinced that it's in the best interest of the children to piss off or drive away prospective teachers, counselors, administrators and bus drivers. If I have to pay for a third re-scan I can tell you right now I'm not going to student teach. I'll change my major and find something else to do that does not require fingerprinting but god damnit I don't see the necessity of it in the first place and after the thigh-deep bureaucratic bullshit I've been wading through since elementary school I've had just about enough. This is an incredibly upsetting move coming on the heels of NCLB and the other crap teachers have to deal with, and it makes me very, very worried about the health of the public educational system when parents have to use legislators as middle-men to keep teachers "in line" and "safe" instead of actually getting to know the teachers and the schools themselves.

..but parents are too busy lobbying for protection of the safety and "innocence" of their kids.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Well, my wisdom tooth on the lower left has been causing me some pain lately, but I have a dentist's appointment on Thursday so at least it's going to be taken care of. My wrist just started up again, too. Nothing to do there - can't afford to see a doctor and hear "RSI. Rest it and ice it." because I'm already pretty sure that's what it is, and there's really not much you -can- do other than use a brace, rest it and keep icing it. Since I've already got a brace of sorts and I've been resting it as much as I can considering the amount of time I have to spend on the computer for school work (not so much this summer, I admit I could get up and go outside more, but there's not much to do outside when one has no money), there's not much reason to see a doctor anyway.

On the positive side, I can cook! :D I found a thread in a forum I frequent polling the users about Ramen noodles and how they eat them, and in it there were some great ideas for turning boring Ramen into more exciting, tasty, and healthy soup. I decided to try it my own way today, since my tooth makes chewing a little difficult anyway. So I diced up a tiny bit of fresh garlic, added a pinch of mustard powder and some onion and dropped into the water as it heated. Then, added 3 dashes of soy sauce, brought to a boil, dropped in the Ramen, and 2 minutes in, broke an egg into the pot and mixed it in. The packet of seasoning came last, of course. The result? Delicious. I might try cooking more often. If anyone can find me the recipe book all about ways to cook and use Ramen, by the way, I'd love to have it...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Let's Get Political...

I spend a decent amount of time on YouTube (as opposed to an indecent amount) but somehow I missed a real gem, which the article below helpfully linked me to:

How Much Jail Time?

I have to ask my dear dedicated readers the same question, no matter which side of the debate you're on. The question is one I had honestly never thought of, although I've seen my share of debates and asked a few questions myself. However, the article strikes a chord: the debate has raged for quite a while without anyone on either side pinning down the final punishments. The video's responses both horrify and amuse me; "pray for them" might actually be a punishment in someone's eyes but it's certainly not a legal one in a nation where we (supposedly) have separation of church and state... and the judge can't say "I've never thought about punishment before." What gives?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

California Dreamin'...

I was going to post another full couple of paragraphs about how bad things are, but I realized two things: one, you guys really don't want to or need to hear about my issues, half of which are self-inflicted anyway, and two, it's not like most of you (all 3 who probably look at this page on a semi-regular basis) would be able to help in any way. If you could I'd ask for money and a me-sized eggshell so I can pay my bills and then crawl in and not hatch till things were better with the world.

I haven't been keeping up with life outside my window, because the more news I read and the more lives I keep in contact with, the worse the overall situation seems. That scares me. I need a new news feed, something that only posts the feel-good stories like kittens being rescued from trees and who won the Kentucky Derby. Can anyone suggest one?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Can't get any worse...

(knock on wood)
(7:21:47 PM):
Hey. You know that stupid little sister of ours?
middlesister (7:21:57 PM): Yeah. That one. The cops just called.
middlesister (7:22:00 PM): .....
middlesister (7:22:01 PM): o.o
middlesister (7:22:40 PM): Anyway, since you're not on I'll just let you know all that I've been informed of. Which is trespassing and maybe something about alcohol.
Me (7:25:54 PM): ...isn't she still grounded?
middlesister (7:27:03 PM): Yeah.
middlesister (7:27:09 PM): She was grounded, and regrounded
Me (7:26:32 PM): Is mom home?
Me (7:26:35 PM): And is E home?
middlesister (7:27:16 PM): uh huh
middlesister (7:27:18 PM): and no
middlesister (7:27:27 PM): she's at la estacion de policia
middlesister (7:27:38 PM): correction
middlesister (7:27:44 PM): the cops just pulled in with her in tow

...So begins the worst hour I've had all year, and it comes the day after my $300 glasses lose a screw and have to be brought into the optometrist tomorrow to see if they're covered by warranty, I get home to find that my credit card bill was due on Friday and my bank account is empty, after a week up north forgetting that I had bills to pay and unable to print the loan application that will now take another two days to print and get in the mail and 2 weeks to get money from, at least, and to top it all off, we just got a cancellation notice from our insurance company because we owe them $400 too.

Please tell me life gets easier after college. Tell me that 15-year-olds are capable of reasoning once in a while. Remind me why I bother caring when all it gets me is disappointment. I'm frustrated and angry and worried and I'm not even her mother; I had so little to do with raising her especially the last few years... but I still care. God forbid my children ever do something so stupid.

*screen names changed, obviously

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Why is it that I never get the time to spend with kids until I'm already "busy"?

Today at work someone had brought her two lively children into the library with her, and let them run loose while she worked. While I can see that it's probably very tough to handle two kids and work at the same time, and no professor is going to take "I couldn't find a babysitter" as an answer, I think that it would've been nice if she had at least kept the kids occupied with something other than a tricycle and a baby doll...

So here I come walking on my rounds in the mostly empty library, and I decided that to be nice to everyone involved I'd take the kids over to the little, badly-equipped "playroom" in the corner of the media center. No one was in there, at least, so I wasn't worried about keeping the kids quiet (they knew to be quiet but they're 4 and 5, so I doubt they had been properly drilled in self-control. Shrieks happen!). They tossed the puppets around, pulled a few books off the shelves and didn't bother me one bit. The puppets are entirely soft, so throwing them wasn't an issue. They finally settled on a game of "hit the monkey" with the blow-up monkey hanging from the ceiling and the puppets as balls. For little kids they had great aim!

I finally brought them back to mom after half an hour... she had said they were going to leave when I came up to her the first time, but she had apparently been thankful for the time without the little ones and had kept working. I didn't mind at all but I didn't want to keep the kids any longer without letting her know. I felt bad for them, though. It was obvious that they were bored and I didn't want to leave them unsupervised, but mom knows best... :/

Monday, April 23, 2007

Stream of Consciousness At 6am.

Stayed up all night again. Sleep has been coming and going in very odd patterns lately, I'm mostly nocturnal and it's kind of funny because now the sun's up for so much longer, so by the time I get tired in late afternoon it's still beautiful outside and I feel guilty for sleeping.

My motivational level is at an all-time low and I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong. I know that I have x, y, and z to do and that it'll take me 18+hours to do it all, and most of it's due, in a polished form, by Wednesday. I know that there's no logical way I'm going to be able to finish all of my homework, I've known all weekend that every hour I spent procrastinating was another hour later I'd have to stay up on Tuesday night, and possibly a few classes to skip on Monday. As if I can afford to skip another class. I really shouldn't, but I've lost the energy it takes to get up and walk out the door.

I should probably go lay in the sun for a bit. Maybe it would help. I miss Mexico insanely right now, and I can't help thinking that I don't even remember last semester because it went by so fast but all I remember of this one is being too busy to enjoy anything and missing places I'll probably never see again. I can't help but think that I'm on a one-way track to nowhere if I continue my education and employment here in the US and want to get the heck out, but there's nowhere to go. Canada's too close for comfort, despite free health care and a few friends already there. Mexico's no better than we are, they're having all kinds of political trouble and Americans tend to be wide-open targets for crimes in most areas. Finland sounds nice, haha... but I can't even afford to buy a coffee in Euros right now, with the dollar so low (and my bank account even lower, paying the rent this month will be next to impossible, and we still owe that $130 garbage fee have been putting off paying since January in hopes we'd be left alone).

I'm starting a garden, another one of my silly half-assed "this is going to make me look and feel productive!" projects. It's going to be a container garden, on the porch, which means I'll probably forget about it for weeks at a time this summer. Speaking of summer, I have no plans except the library so far, I'm not very interested in finding another job even though money will be very very very tight if I don't. I'm hoping for slightly more hours this summer than I've had this semester, and keeping my eyes open for a job that doesn't involve getting 3 references and fingerprinting. (.pdf file)

I'm sick and tired of life here. I don't have a productive job and my homework is seeming far more meaningless than usual, which is bad considering how little I usually think homework means. My classes aren't really that interesting. I want to go outside and start taking nature courses again, or something. Maybe I should have been a bio major. Hah.

I'm not sure whose expectations I'm trying to meet any more. My own are so half-formed and changing that I frustrate myself every time I try to think about what I really expect of myself. I know I don't really want to live up to my friends' expectations of me because as cool as my friends are, their expectations are not who I really am. I'm just not sure why or how I'm different.

Rick bought a BB pistol and I'm going to start shooting targets in the yard, if I ever actually get away from the computer. I think I should know how to shoot, just in case. Even a BB can hurt like hell at close range.

My wrist has developed a phantom itch. I'm allergic to cheap metal, but I haven't been wearing a watch for months, since my beautiful xmas gift broke and I haven't had the time nor money to get the strap replaced. Still, my left wrist has a few small bits of rash on it just like the ones that I get when I wear cheap metal, and it itches occasionally. The only thing I can think is that the skin's irritated from resting on the edge of my keyboard shelf. It's fake wood. I can't figure out why it'd make me itch unless there's some chemical in it. Either way I can't do much about it so I'm going to leave it alone and go do some more laundry so I have clean pants to wear to class this morning.

Friday, March 09, 2007


Spring is most definitely on its way. The weather's been going crazy lately, getting icy-cold one day and warm enough to go jacketless the next (like today! It's gorgeous and I'm giddy!). That's a definite indicator that winter's packing up and going into hibernation. The sun's out, and the snow's melting, and the wind is almost warm today. I'm excited, I hope it stays like this for at least a few days, because now I'm on Spring Break and I can put off my homework for a bit to enjoy the weather.

I'm tempted to ask if we can take the bike out. >.>

I drove home with the windows down and the music up because it was the only way I could think to celebrate finally being done with classes for a whole week and still be safe on the road :D There are people in t-shirts outside. I would go out but I'm too tired to go for a run and there's not much else to do outside yet. Once the weather is consistently above freezing I'm going to start making a container garden on the patio. I miss gardening... it was really fun when I was little, and then academia hit and I didn't have time any more.

Should find a summer job... someone I know works for PENNDOT, and they're paid $10.16/hr or so to hold signs all summer. If I knew where I'd be all summer I'd definitely apply to the DOT for a job. It might mean getting up early and being on your feet all day, but the pay's pretty good and at least I'd get some exercise. It's that, or try to get into a camp/day care, which would be fun but requires so much in the way of clearances and planning and... I, for once, would like to not have to work harder to get a job than to keep it.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I Hurt.

Today I am in a bad mood. My back hurts, I forgot my binder with all my homework at work last night, I have to present in class today and it is Wednesday. I got my paycheck today, after forgetting since Friday, and it's just enough to pay for a quarter of our rent. My next check is going to be really bad since I missed 3 of my 6 days of work, because of the weather. Even though the weather is getting better, things still seem to be going downhill financially. I should be working more hours and another job, but I can't stand the thought, and Rick's not working, which makes me feel even worse that all I'm bringing in is going straight back out.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Certain things...

...piss me off. And I use those words because I mean them. There are a few things that make me twitch (bad grammar), some that annoy me (not using turn signals), and many, many things that are mildly irritating (smoking). But only a select group of things really piss me off, and one of those is disrespect, especially coming from people who can dish it out but can't take any.

There is a certain man in the games channel I regularly chat in, husband to one of the channel ops, and a generally knowledgable figure when it comes to the game. They have a grown son and are probably about as old as my parents. I love his wife, she's a great person. He, however, started getting on my nerves a while back, because he's shown increasing disrespect to most of the channel: speaking down to us, picking fights over little things, taking offense if someone didn't see things his way (and many of us didn't). He finally started outright attacking my fiance (calling him a little boy, putting down any arguments, etc), and I finally snapped.

I told him ENOUGH in the public channel. Instead of being sensible, apologizing and shutting up, he said: "i do not know WHO you think you are but when someone tries to pick a fight with me i will respond as i see fit not as others think i should" (typos edited). He was the one who'd started the fight by telling Rick that if he wanted an argument he "should go to someone who is prepared to get down to your level". Coming from him that was more than enough to make Rick leap for his throat. Normally I just duck and cover, but even with testosterone flying I was pretty pissed too, and I went after him.

When I reamed him out in PM, he never replied, but he left the channel PDQ. That kind of person, who's all puffed up with self-importance, rarely stays around long enough to deflate properly, and I hadn't even gotten to the good stuff yet! See, earlier he'd gotten into a spat about the game running on Linux and how his son said it should work (and of course his son is highly paid to know, so he's always right). We had both seen posts on various forums saying it didn't, and I've had enough experience with Linux to know that it doesn't always work smoothly with software designed for windows, even when it logically should. Well, he wouldn't see our point then either... and I even tried to peacemake. So when this next confrontation started up, I should've gone straight for the throat and aimed a few well-placed comments about his dearest son. Pity I was seething mad and didn't remember.

I know, I'm mean. I'm a regular bitch, deep down. As nice as I try to be to everyone, and as much slack as I will cut someone who slips up a few times, this man who's likely twice my age failed in both respect (I give it, I expect it, and I don't care if you're the goddamned Queen of England, you WILL abide by the Golden Rule) and common courtesy (continuing to attack in-channel when asked by an uninvolved party to move it to PM, twice, then attacking said party). Not to mention his typing sucks (he blames his keyboard) and that makes me twitch.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


A little while ago, the exhaust finally rusted all the way through on the Probe. The boy sized it up, ordered the parts (an entire new system, from header all the way back), and then it started snowing. Today's been the warmest (37* F) that it's going to get for a while. He'd already decided to work on the car today, no matter what the weather did, so he's out there pulling things apart, and I'm in here regaining feeling in my toes... after two minutes outside.

I feel absolutely, mind-numbingly useless. I get cold so fast I could probably chill meat better than the freezer. But it's not over-all, hypothermia cold, it's just hands-and-feet cold, which makes it worse 'cause no matter how much I bundle up, my extremities lose heat, and no amount of warmth in the rest of me will travel to my toes. Every time I go outside and stand for more than a minute, I end up walking painfully around for half an hour after, trying to encourage my circulatory system to do its damn job, and wondering how I've managed to survive this long without severe frostbite.

I'd like to blame my mother and her smoking habits, but I think it's more genetic than anything. Dad's thin as a rail, mom has low blood pressure (or so she claims). Put the two together, and you end up with me - no insulation and a dysfunctional circulatory system. I'm like a lizard. I could freeze on a summer day, if you kept me in the shade long enough. And that makes me hopeless as far as even keeping the boy company; even when I'm interested, I'm never able to stay warm enough to stay outside. It pisses me off. I don't WANT to be forced inside every five minutes because I have toe-sicles. I especially hate being forced to stay inside for half an hour or more waiting for them to warm up. My body is useless.

Monday, January 22, 2007

On Education, Magic, and Why I'd Rather Be Farming.

Ah, school. The source of most of my joy (and stress) over the last 15 years. Last semester was one of the best I've ever had. It was the worst my sister and boyfriend have ever had. I decided that this semester, to go along with the academic probation, they're on my watchlist. I had to push the boy out the door for class today. He didn't want to go to Math (I don't blame him). But if he starts skipping classes this semester like he did last semester, I'm going to push him out the door a lot more. Same goes for sister. It makes me feel like a regular bitch saying this, but I don't want to hear excuses; if you can stay upright, you can go to class. She is NOT allowed to skip class, to hang out with too many boys, etc. Am I mean? Probably. Am I putting my nose where it doesn't belong? Undoubtedly. Do I care? Not an atom. I am concerned for the grades and future of the people I love, and that makes it important for me to be pushing them to go to class, do their homework, etc. And being a bitch makes a good motivator for getting my work done, too. If I slip up, I lose my leverage, and then I start skipping, too. And that's terrible. Because despite my wit, beauty, experience with children, and "above-average intelligence", I still need a degree to convince someone that I'm worth hiring.

Speaking of terrible, I found something that I thought really picks up on the Dark Side of Disney (tm). Quote from a BookCrossing article (here):
What happens when you release a book in a public area and an employee picks it up and delivers it to Lost & Found? This question has formed the basis for a good deal of discussion in the Forum. One thread warns that releasing on Disney property will result in the books disappearing into eternal limbo.
And an actual quote from what I assume is a Disney employee: "This book looks lame, so I'm sending it to our Central Lost and Found department where it will languish in obscurity pretty much forever. I'm glad to be breaking the chain of your stupid book-trading idea." Now, part of me is outraged at the personal attack on Book-Crossing and the BC'er who released that book, but another part of me is utterly horrified by the sheer apathy this person is showing. First: "This book looks lame". Yeah? And? If I were less mature I'd be telling that person "Your mom looks lame". Seriously, there isn't much worse you can call something than "lame" to signify exactly how little you care - you didn't even come up with a more descriptive adjective! That's sad, in many ways. Second: The person isn't even going to leave the book for someone who might want it, and apparently doesn't consider the fact that their comment is annoying and hurtful to the bookcrossing community. That's anti-social to an extreme degree; I can understand being disillusioned after working at Disney (what do you believe, once you know how the "magic" is worked, and how many vapid people are waiting to buy tickets?), but this is just appalling. They could have at least handed the book to a co-worker who reads... there has to be ONE somewhere down there. Finally: What kind of person is glad to be dropping more things into a Lost and Found, especially books, knowing they'll never be claimed?

They're obviously in my age group. No full-grown adult in my realm of knowledge uses the word "Lame". They're relatively intelligent. "languish in obscurity" is not the kind of language my peers are known for using (okay, so my friends do, but I'm picky about my friends). And, worst of all, they work for a place that inspires (or used to, I'm not sure any more) millions of children every year. HOW DO YOU WORK WITH CHILDREN, AND THEN TURN AROUND AT THE END OF THE DAY AND WRITE SCATHING MESSAGES TO PEOPLE WHO WERE ONLY OUT TO BRIGHTEN SOMEONE'S DAY, AND ENJOY DOING IT? How? Why would someone so... lost be allowed to work with children? Granted, I don't think Disney is a role model for kids of any age, these days, but still... the people who work there, of all places, should realize the value those kids put on them. I don't care if all you do is clean up after them, you're important to making the magic happen. Don't ruin it, please.

There are a lot of people in this world who have given up on the entire human race. I've almost done it myself several times, and I'm only 20. Fortunately I was blessed with a father who tried to see the good in everyone and passed that habit on to me with some success. Still, there are times when I wonder what's happened to us, because there's too much stress, not enough childhood, and even though we're living longer, we're also living less well. No one I know is really happy - by which I mean constantly living with that sun-warmed, satisfied, almost sleepy feeling one gets sometimes, after a long day of good, enjoyable work, and friends, and healthy food - and that makes me even less happy. I am going to make a living of telling students that what will make them (and me) happy is performance, even though I know better. What makes us really happy, in my experience, is everything in moderation, and a lot of belly laughs. You can't get that in schools (where they drill reading and math like it will be our salvation), in most workplaces (where we do one thing all day, every day, and the stress just keeps coming), or even in many homes (where we strive to have the "perfect" house with big-screen TV, "nice" car, well-groomed children who we pretend don't have the flaws that we fear they do). Sometimes, I just want to quit all of this, find a cheap place in the country, and start over with a cow, a few chickens and a garden. Then I think I would be missed or left for crazy (which is worse than left for dead, because sometimes people feel obligated to visit), and I go back to my "Education of Exceptional Persons" and "Language Arts Across the Curriculum", and think: at least one day I'll be on the other side of the desk. At least I'll never be rich enough to worry about money.

Friday, January 12, 2007


It's been a while. I've been "busy". Winter this year hasn't brought much respite like it usually does, since having an apartment means a lot more cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc. Responsibility is a tough thing to handle when all you want to do is sleep in. The new semester starts next Wednesday, and I'm feeling less prepared than I did as a freshman, somehow. This is going to be the toughest semester in terms of sheer coursework that I've had yet, and I'm hoping that it won't pull me under.

I'm going to be working on campus at the library still, 4 more hours than last semester, but not enough to pay the rent... so another job is in order. I quit TNS before Christmas, having had enough of ungrateful people screaming into my ear 5 hours a night. "What do you think you're doing calling on a Sunday night?" "Paying my way through college, sir."

The kitten (did I mention the kitten last time) is getting bigger, and older, but no less silly. We need to call the vet and get him neutered, when we find the money. At least he's a strictly indoor cat. I don't trust the high-school kids who rev their engines down the block. We've also acquired a pair of mice to keep the pair of hamsters company. Hercules (the brown one) and Ares (the white one) are pretty friendly, despite being messy (as all mice are). They don't care much about the girls, though. I guess rodents don't like to mingle.

I only have 3 more semesters before graduation - and then graduate school. Where has the time gone?