October 2003 Archives

Scary Things

Yikes! Today, my teeny, tiny baby brother turns 21. Of course, he's no longer teeny or tiny, towering over me at 6'.

The day he was born was filled with wacky hijinks such as my dad leaving the ATM card, money, and receipt at the ATM, my mom's suitcase getting left at the house, and the car running out of gas on the return trip. Not to mention the enormous tantrum thrown by 6-year-old Katherine when she was told that instead of being able to stay at the hospital for the birth as had been promised, she and her little sister would have to spend the night at the neighbor's house. (Just because it was a school night.)

The sisters were hoping for a third little sister, and when they asked in the morning the and answer was no, they responded with "Oh brother!" That's right. Little baby E.T. grew into the little butterball, then into that annoying little kid who tried to follow us everywhere, and then into an amazingly cool young man.

Little brother, I wouldn't trade you for anything. Not even a dozen baby sisters.

Happy Birthday, Janson.

Back into the Land of the Uninsured

When I left my old job, I was given the option of COBRA to keep my health and dental. I figured that I wouldn't be taking them up on that, since I can get health and dental through the school district. Then I discovered that the school district insurance costs about the same as the COBRA, only a little more. Ouch.

I am pretty healthy, so I have a feeling that I'll just do what I did the last time I was teaching and go with the cheap dental and no health insurance. And knock on wood. Yuck.

Universal healthcare anyone?

Doing the grind

I'd just like to state for the record that I am fucking sick of problems with my clutch. They'd better fix it right this time, or I am so taking my vehicle elsewhere. I don't care how reputable and convenient and nice and friendly you are. Fix. The. Problem.


You may always know about Peep Research, but did you also know that Peeps reasearch?

A cute and funny little site, even more so if you're familiar with college research libraries.

via MeFi

The teacher's conference is the next two days, so there's no school. One of my friends was going to see the Wednesday night Pat McCurdy show at a local bar. Well, there was a period of a few years when some friends and I went to see the Pat show every single Tuesday night. However, once I started teaching, I stopped going to the regular shows, and was only able to catch special ones, like the summer show it the Memorial Union Terrace. Not having to work in the morning made me jump at the chance.

Apparently, I wasn't the only one in that boat. The bar was full of teachers. There were larges groups from the Sun Prairie and Middleton-Cross Plains districts, as well as some more from Madison. Let me tell you, while teachers are just regular people, groups of them are extremely funny when drunk.

It was a good show, too.

Too many choices.

I have no idea what I am going as for Halloween. Not that I don't have possibilities, but that I have way too many. Over the years I have amassed an amazing quantity of costumes and props. I can probably put together enough costumes for 10 Halloweens. I just don't have one that is standing out for me right now.

Four days left...

I want this doggy...


Lately, I've been catching up on a couple months' worth of The New Yorker magazine, which I'd let slide over the busy, sunny days of summer. Now that I have lots of time on my hands, I'm slipping back into the issues like a comfortable bubble bath. I'm missed my reading.

The one problem is, there are all these articles I want to blog about, but most of them are not included in the online edition. (Which makes perfect sense. They do want people to buy the print edition after all.) I know that I can still write about the things that I read, but somehow it just doesn't seem as bloggy if I can't point people to what I read. (Alright, class, open your texts to page 33 and begin reading at the second paragraph...)

Still, I wouldn't trade my lovely printed magazines for one that was solely online. (Sorry, Salon.) I like to carry them with me, roll them up in my bookbag, and read on the go. I also like to *not* stare at a glowing screen from time to time.

Long live print!

Close Call

On Friday I was teaching at a middle school. One of the 7th grade boys was talking with a bit of a brogue. I thought he was being silly, and was on the verge of telling him to cut it out and talk normal. Thank goodness I didn't. Turns out he just moved to Madison two yars ago. From Scotland. Oops.

Being a Bit of a Wonk

Tonight I was reading the dosage instructions on my cough syrup bottle, and I realized that the recommended doasge for ages 12 and up was "Two teaspoonfuls". Teaspoonfuls? Ack! Teaspoonsful. Just like fathers-in-law, postmasters general, justices of the peace, and chiefs of police.


A Thought

So Britney Spears' new album is called Me Against the Music. Does that mean that she is against the music as in anti-music? Britney Vs. the Music in a bare-knuckle brawl to the finish, only one will remain standing?

Somehow, I'd believe it.


Still sick, dammit. Granted, it could be worse given that it is a cold and not the flu. The worst is at night. Not only do I wake up every hour or so with an overwhelming need for lots of water and a kleenex, but almost all of my dreams seem to involve teaching. Yup, the dreaded work dream. "I just did this all day! Could I please not have to do it in my sleep, too?"


So I went. I felt like a walking disease, but I went and I'm glad I did. As one would expect, he was bright and quick and hilariously funny.

I'd really like to write an in-depth review of the evening now, but instead, I'm hauling my ass to bed.

The thing about being sick

The past three days, I've gone to work and done my best, even though I'm sick. I would have rather stayed home and gotten myself well, but the choice wasn't there, so I had to cowboy up. I'm still sick; my chest feels inflamed and nasty, and I cough on a fairly regular basis. My best bet is to drink some more tea and get myself into bed as soon as possible. But...

...But tonight Dan Savage is speaking as part of the Wisconsin Book Festival. I really, really want to go. I don't have to go. I should be in bed. I hate this.


Candy Everybody Wants

I want candy...

Actually, so do a lot of people.

Who's eating the chocolate? Not these kids

By SANDRA ECKSTEIN - Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Thursday, October 23, 2003

It's Oct. 23 -- do you know where your stash of Halloween chocolate is?

Yep. Already gone. Time for another trip to the market.

It's all part of the seasonal plan. It's why Halloween candy starts showing up on store shelves in early September, two months before the little ghouls and goblins descend. It's what has made Halloween the top candy-consumption season with $2 billion in sales, much of that for chocolate, according to the National Confectioners Association.

Why so much chocolate? Women buy the candy, and women like to eat chocolate.

Yet 6-year-old Sean Fitzgerald said he's tired of getting so much chocolate at Halloween.

"I get mostly sweet stuff, and I don't like sweet stuff," said Sean, of Conyers, who likes Sour Patch Kids. "I give it to my mom."

He was among Conyers kids -- participating in an AJC treat test Tuesday -- who said they rarely get the kinds of sour or gummy candy that they really like at Halloween. But they do get lots of chocolate. more...

I can only speak from my own experience, but I loved getting chocolate for Halloween as a kid. Chocolate and bubble gum. Carmelly things came next, followed closely by Smarties and Sweet Tarts. Hard candies came in last. Generally, though, if it had sugar, I'd most likely eat it. Kids these days, they don't know how good they've got it! ;-)

Furrow Your Brow in Fear

OK, I'm a little late on this one. I meant to blog it, and then got busy with other things:

Botulism found in Iraqi scientist's refrigerator White House differs with inspectors on finding's importance


WASHINGTON -- President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell contradicted U.S. weapons inspectors in Iraq regarding a vial of botulinum bacteria found in an Iraqi scientist's refrigerator.

Bush and Powell contended Friday that the discovery is evidence of Saddam Hussein's intent to stockpile weapons of mass destruction.

But the chief U.S. weapons inspector said the vial had been stored for safekeeping in an Iraqi scientist's refrigerator since 1993 and offered no evidence that it had been used in a weapons program during the last decade. more...

Yes, folks, they found one ten-year-old vial of botulism toxin in an Iraqi scientist's fridge. Botulism toxin, as in BoTox, as in the stuff that rich, vain American regularly inject into their faces and armpits to avoid wrinkles and sweatstains. Quake in fear, y'all.


If you are not yet, go hence and read Baghdad Burning.

Little Whispers

Today I had kindergartners. Their regular teacher went home with a sore throat. Did I mention that I also have a sore throat, but have no usuable sick days at the moment? Did I mention that they were kindergartners? By the end of the day I barely had a voice to croak with. I'm currently nursing Sucrets and tea, in the hopes of a miracle.

What made the day even more fun was that there were several kids in the class who spoke no English at all. I did my best with poorly remembered bits of Spanglish, lots of gestures, and speaking slowly when I did speak English to them. I consoled myself in the fact that little kids are resilient, and learn lanuages quickly. I think we got along pretty well, considering.

There was also a girl who's parents had gifted her with a completely unpronoucable name. At least, not pronouncable the way it was spelled. I do wish that parents would be just a little less inventive when naming their kids, or at least take a few less liberties with spelling...no one should have to go through life correcting people *every* time their name is read.


Well, I'm feeling rather crapulent. Saturday afternoon I started to get a sore throat, and it has been hanging on, though it comes and goes in intensity if I take something for it. I don't have any sick time accumulated from the school district, so I just had to not take the assignment this morning, unpaid. That kind of sucks, but given how much you have to use you voice while subbing, it seemed the only option. Probably going to skip out of choir tonight, too.

On the upside, the weather is absolutely beautiful, even if I'm just watching it from my window, and I can get some resumes sent out.

UPDATE: I have just been informed that crapulent is a real word, and it doesn't quite mean the same as I'd intended here. Hmm. Bummer. As a made up word, it sounded just right.

Ring around the rosy

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I've just been surfing the Eastside Madison Bloggers Ring, something that I haven't had time for in quite a while. It was quite fun, and I think I'd like to meet some of the people sometime.

Although, it has recenty occurred to me that technically, the place where I am living is considered to be "Northside" rather than "Eastside". I've chosen to ignore this fact, for several reasons. For one thing, I've always felt like an Eastsider. If my oddly psychotic landlords hadn't made me move out back in 2001, I'd still be in the Atwood-hood. The year that I spent on the far west side was a painful exile. For another thing, the real "northside" of Madison is a lake. At the most I'd say I'm vaguely northeast. I'd a hop and a skip from East Wash. If I were in high school I'd be attending East High. If I want to go to a nearby mall (why would I do that?) I'd end up at East Towne. Northside, Smorthside. This is east, dammit.

<stamps foot>


When I first started the job, everything was new and challenging. The company seemed progressive and the supervisors and co-workers the height of cool. It was all quite exciting and I loved every minute of it.

As time passed, I started to get a handle on the rhythm o the system. I was drawn into the social circle and loved being a part of things. Some of the people who had first made it all seem so great had left, and I was starting to eye up the possibility of moving up into a new and more challenging/rewarding position. Still, I was mostly content and glad to be a part of everything that was going on.

Then came the layoff. Even though there had been layoffs all summer, it was sudden. It was two days after the September 11th attacks. The talk had indicated that it would be another guy, the younger guy, the newer guy....the guy who was sweet as could be but something of a screw-off. Instead it was me. Sure, I had been there longerer than two other people in the department. Sure, I was the hardest worker in the group. Sure, I was the only one in the entire departent who hadn't used my vacation time (having courteously worked to cover other people's vacations before I took my own). I was the one to get the axe, and I was devestated.

I looked for work, but half-heartedly. I kept hoping to be called back from the layoff, and to take my rightfull place in the company. And six months later, I was.

I was so happy. Everything was right again. Or was it?

Several more members of the company had since moved on, including my beloved manager. Her replacement was a nice guy who just didn't have what it took to manage a department. He worked himself to death, while letting everyone else run right over him. Then the sweet but lazy kid left to go back to school and was replaced by...the son of the company owners. He had the laziness of the other kid, but without the sweetness. He came and went whenever he felt like it, coming in hours late and immediately taking long lunches. He speciallized in shirking work, but the department head was too intimidated to do anything more than issue vague, unenforced warnings about his behavior. Other poor policy decisions were made, and morale fell among the department old-timers.

I found myself stuck in a rut, unable to move to the department I really wanted to work in, and turned down, in favor of an outsider, for another position that had become available. The time had come to move on, yet I had become comfortable in the rut. I found myself loyal to the idea of the company that I had first started to work for. I liked my benefits, and what remained of the social circle (though it had disintegrated quite a bit). I dragged my feet and hung on, hoping that an improvement would come.

Finally, the bolt from the blue. I could no longer ignore how unpleasant my job had become. It was time to go. Nothing new was lined up for me, no plush new job to take its place. But the moment I walked out that door for the last time, I felt an enormous weight lifting from my shoulders. Thing would be ok again, somehow.

And so I find myself back in the world of substitute teaching while I job hunt. Not my favorite work, by far, but I feel free. The work may be exhausting, but it feels worthwhile. My afternoons are freed to send off resumes or schedule interviews, or just to enjoy the sunshine, which I rarely saw at my old job.

I may have gone out of the frying pan and into the fire with this, but I know that if you stay in the frying pan, you'll only end up getting eaten. There's a kind of freedom to be found in the fire.

Damn Yankees.

That's all I'll say.

Not up to the Pressure.

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I'm actually quite glad that I'm not really a Cubs or a Red Sox fan. The stress and suspense of "will they or won't they?" is bad enough as it is. If I were a fan, I'd be nuts right now.

More power to y'all.


Today is the "birthday" of the Muppetiest of Muppets: fuzzy, lovable Grover. Happy Birthday, kiddo.

No Tears...No Lollipop

I got my flu shot today. Being back into the teaching business has reminded me of what little germ-carriers kids are. Of course, now I can't easily move me left arm. Owie. I miss the days of getting a lollipop for things like this. (Back when I was a nasty little germ-carrier.)

Still Funny, After All These Years

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Sometimes I rewatch an old movie that I once liked and suddenly find that all, at least much of the magic has gone out of it. That happened to The Breakfst Club and to Thoroughly Modern Millie. So I was quite relieved to discover, while watching Blazing Saddles last night, that it has actually gotten funnier since last I saw it. I get more of the jokes, that's for sure.

Update: The double post is now gone, and the code mistake has been fixed, so all should be well with this entry. Not that I really care all that much about it.

Spam Sandwiches

Apparently I got off light with only one, non-pr0n spam comment on my blog. some people have had it much worse.

God damn spammers. And no mercy to the people who actually respond positively to their ads. If no one *ever* responded to spam (or telemarketers) they would die out due to the lack of success. It doesn't matter how much you screen and block them, so long as they manage to make some money off of their activities, they will continue.

If you want to be a Badger...

...just come along with me, by the light, by the light, by the light of the moon.

What an evening! I hit my first ever (or at least the first that I can recall) Badger Bash at Union South. Not only was the excitement of the crowd grin-inducing, but I got a free Badger t-shirt (one without any other business logos, too!) and a little hacky-sack. The highlight, of course, was the UW Marching Band playing a bit of their halftime songs, plus some of the usual favorites.

When the Bash was over, most of the crowd headed into Camp Randall, while I hurried down to State Street Brats to watch the game with a brat and a beer. That was another first for me. I've never watched a Badger game with such a crowd before. The excitement was palpable, and inebriation was jovial. There was also the satisfaction of, "Well, I didn't get tickets to the game, but I'm still warm and dry," in addition to the satisfaction of watching the Badgers end the Buckeye's winning streak by a touchdown. One week till UW Homecoming, and I may have to head downtown to join in the crowd again.

I ended the night with a trip up to the Orpheum for a drink, and then back down State Street. No rioting fans, even though a lot of people had been drinking all day. Let's hear it for decorum. Now the rain has stopped, the sky is clear and the full moon is out. The bright shining light of the moon.


My inner child is sixteen years old today

My inner child is sixteen years old!

Life's not fair! It's never been fair, but while
adults might just accept that, I know
something's gotta change. And it's gonna
change, just as soon as I become an adult and
get some power of my own.

How Old is Your Inner Child?
brought to you by Quizilla



Watching tonight's episode of Angel really brought home to me exactly how much I like Spike more than Angel.

<Captain Forehead...ha!>

By the By

Guess who's gone back to substitute teaching?



So, the french fries I made were tasty as all get-out, but by god does the apartment smell awful now. It's going to take a little while to get the "everything smells like a deep-fat frier" aura out of here.

Busy Weekend


I'm now sorting out all of the scattered bits of my weekend. It certainly was full, and with the gorgeous weather that we had, it really was golden.

As I mentioned, Friday night was Gallery night. I always have a blast wandering through the Winnebago studios, and watching the glass blowing over at Studio Paran. The Gallery Night activities ended at 9, so I then headed down to the Civic Center to catch a bit of the Isthmus Jazz Festival. I was able to listen to Tony Castaņeda Latin Jazz Quintet (rather than the usual Quartet) in the Crossroads area of the civic center. Discovered that it is physically impossible not to dance to well-played latin jazz.

Saturday found me back at the Farmer's Market, tying helium balloons as usual. Weather-wise it was such an improvement from the last market. The sun was out and the wind was light; very Indian Summer. Everyone seemed to be in a wonderful mood.

Headed over to the Russ Feingold campaign office to do data entry and collate letters for awhile. I'm starting to get the politcal buzz. In case you need a reminder as to why Russ rock:


When first running for U.S. Senate in 1992, Russ made a contract with the people of the state, which he painted on his garage doors in Middleton:

Contract Between RUSS FEINGOLD and the PEOPLE of WISCONSIN

1. I will rely on Wisconsin citizens for most of my contributions.

2. I will live in Middleton, Wisconsin. My children will go to school here and I will spend most of my time here in Wisconsin.

3. I will accept no pay raise during my six-year term in office.

Russell D. Feingold
November 3, 1991

Russ later made two additional promises:

4. I will hold a "Listening Session" in each of Wisconsin's 72 counties each year of my six-year term in office.

5. I will hire the majority of my Senate staff from individuals who are from Wisconsin or have Wisconsin backgrounds.

Russ has kept every one of these promises:

- Russ' 1992 and 1998 re-election campaigns raised the majority of their funds from Wisconsin individuals. In 1998, almost 15,000 Wisconsinites contributed to Russ for his historic re-election campaign, in which he did not accept any soft money from his party and restricted his campaign expenditures to $1 per voter. Russ is also raising the majority of his funds for his 2004 re-election campaign from Wisconsin individuals. For more information, read a recent article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Campaign filings show Feingold keeping promise on contributions."

- Russ has kept his promise to maintain his home in Middleton, Wisconsin, with his wife, Mary, and their four children. Mary operates her own business communications service called Write Now. They have four college-age children, Jessica and Ellen Feingold, and Sam and Ted Speerschneider. Russ is proud that his children are, like himself, products of the Wisconsin public education system.

- Russ does not accept pay raises during each term in office. When Congress votes to raise its pay or when it is scheduled to receive a cost of living increase, Russ sends his share back to the U.S. Treasury. As part of his efforts to reform government, Russ has introduced legislation that would end these automatic cost-of-living increases, so that Congress would be accountable to the public in deciding when to raise its pay.

-Russ visits each one of Wisconsin's 72 counties every year and holds a listening session that is free and open to the public- that's over 675 listening sessions so far. These listening sessions have given Russ the opportunity to hear the concerns of Wisconsinites first-hand. Russ has met with thousands of Wisconsinites during these listening sessions, and has taken thousands of their comments and suggestions with him to Washington D.C. Nobody knows Wisconsin better than Senator Feingold.

- Russ is proud that the majority of staff people in his Senate office are from Wisconsin or have Wisconsin backgrounds.

We cannot afford to lose this man from the Senate.

On Sunday, Howard Dean came to Madison, and spoke outside of the Kohl center. It was a very rousing speech, really got the crowd fired up. Although I did have to mock the young woman from NOW who introduced Dean, for her super-ennunciation and over-dramatic delivery. It sounded like a high school commencement speech, and was very silly.

I'm not completely sold on Dean yet, and do plan to see the rest of the Dems if possible if and when they hit Madison. Anyone but Lieberman, that's all I'm saying.

New Spam

I think I may have discovered a new type of spam. Rather than send out unsolicited e-mail, the alleged spammer left a "comment" on an old post (from back in the spring). Why do I think it was spam?

1. The post the comment was left on was over 6 months old.

2. The post was not terribly interesting. It was a short collection of small tidbits of trivia...actually, minutia.

3. The comment itself was "Thanks for the post." Which makes little sense, given how terribly uninteresting the post was.

4. The "name" left was a the name of a type of product, and the URL given was a page selling this product. The e-mail given was a hotmail account, which may or may not have been valid, but given the commercial nature of the name and the URL, lack authenticity.

I have deleted the comment, because I believe that it was left solely to leave behind a link to a commercial page. Comment spam, if you will. If I am in error, and the comment author would like to e-mail me and explain away the evidence, I would be more than happpy to allow that person to leave more comments in the future. However, if I find any other comments that reek of spam, they will also be deleted. This is a weblog, not a billboard.

Pondering Mortality

In case you ever wonder, "Is so-and-so still alive?", there is an internet resource waiting to answer your questions. Who's Alive and Who's Dead is a fairly extensive database dealing in exactly that information. Whad'ya know, Ernest Borgnine is still around.


For what it's worth, my money's on Karl Rove as the source.


So the Friendster get-together at Mickey's tonight was much in the way of fun. If any of you out there were in attendance, then you'll know what I mean. I really do think that this Friendster thing has a lot of potential.

Also of possible interest for meeting new people (of either gender) is Dining With Six, although that is a paid service, and not the sort of grassroots type network as Friendster. I don't know much about it yet, but I may look further into it.

Gallery Night

Gallery Night is tomorrow. As usual, I shall be hitting the Winnebago Street Studios, to take in the amazing art and the feel of the studio space. I expect to be inspired and a wee bit envious (which should help give me a kick in the pants to get more productive). Amongst the Winnebago artists will be the fabulous Angela Richardson, also of Cyrcropia fame, who also happens to be one heck of a Planned Parenthood volunteer.

If you've got some time, I'd suggest taking a look at some of the Gallery Night offerings going on about town. It's generally a good time.

Trusting Joss...for now

Angel had its season premiere tonight. I'm a little leery of some of the new developments, but I'm willing to see where it goes before I rush to judgement. The way that Cordelia was removed from the show still strikes me as very weak, but I was amused by the reappearance of Harmony. The return of Spike looks like it worked out very neatly. (Hooray!) On the other hand, the Wolfraum and Hart stuff is a bit iffy for me. I'm especially iffy about the annoying perky agent of the senior partners. She will be getting on my nerves right quick, but I guess since she's evil that's allowed.

Another delightful timewaster

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I just can't stop arranging tables. This is possibly more addicting than solitaire or free cell with someone of my organizational bent.

The Good Book

I'm currently reading
The Harlot by the Side of the Road: Forbidden Tales of the Bible
by Jonathan Kirsch and boy is it fascinating. Only one of the stories was unfamiliar to me, that being the strange account of Zipporah and the foreskin. In my religious gradeschool, we were assigned to read the Bible on our own quite frequently. Kids being kids, we managed to find and share with each other the "dirty" stories, and read them with great enthusiasm. I'm not sure if our teachers ever realized that aspect of our studies.

Kirsch has some very interesting ideas, which will merit further comment when I finish the book.

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