A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Monday, July 30, 2007

Movie Madness Monday 76: Abnormal edition

I have no internet connection, so I drove around half the night until I found some wifi in a parking lot-- just for you! I'm NOT kidding-- I know I've got reponsibilities to entertain, and I takes 'em seriously! So I've gotta type quickly before a flashlight shines in my eyes and I hear a voice say, "Outta the car, longhair!"

I don't know why I saved this one for so long, but I... can't... resist! Call it a sweet mystery of life.

You know the rules! Get to quoting, people!

"My grandfather's work was doo-doo!"

"You have to remember that a worm... with very few exceptions... is not a human being."

"What a filthy job!"
"Could be worse."
"Could be raining." (immediately starts raining heavily)

"YES. YES. Say it. He... vas... my... BOYFRIEND!"

"Taffeta, darling!"
"Taffeta, sweetheart."

"My grandfather used to work for your grandfather. Of course, the rates have gone up."

"Wait! Where are you going???" I was going to make espresso!"

****Weekend Update: Let us all worship the genius of Mel Brooks in


Cloris Leachman. Gene Wilder. Marty Feldman. Madeline Kahn. Peter Boyle. Kenneth Mars.

This is, I belive, Mel Brooks' greatest film ever. Bar none.

By the way, try explaining certain terms and jokes used in this movie to your roommate from Indonesia. It was NOT pretty.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

How time flies....


Yesterday marked two years in the blogosphere for this little ol' blog, and they've been good ones!

Much has happened! Much remains to be said! Much remains to be heard!

And as to the above painting (by Rene Magritte), it's there for the same reason that I started blogging: I thought it was cool, and I just felt like it!

Thanks so much for stopping by!


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Carnival of Education 129 has all kinds of new stuff!

Our good friend Mike in Texas has graciously hosted this week's Carnival of Education, providing it with a loving foster home and giving it a good bit of love!

Go check it out, and while you're there, read the rest of Mike's stuff. He's good people! And he's done a fabulous job with the Carnival!


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

When reading to the children is too humiliating

We all know how important it is to read to your children. I alway close out each year with asking my students to read to their eventual children. But here's some news that may not surprise those of us who work with reluctant readers and learners. From our cousins with the BBC across the pond:
More than 10% of the 1,000 parents asked had struggled to understand some words in the stories they had read to their five to 10-year-old children.

Parents said that they made up words they could not read or missed out difficult passages, the survey said.

Even more parents - a third - struggled with their children's maths homework.

How many of us have encountered well-meaning parents who finally have to admit that they can't help their children with homework because they themselves were not literate enough to help with their kids' homework? I've even had parents break down in tears in shame.

Our school has an afterschool tutoring/homework help program which is free for all, and addresses all levels of classes. There is absolutely no stigma attached to this, as students of all abilities take advantage of it. Yet a couple of years ago, I had a mother who admitted she had limited ability or, frankly, time, to help her daughter with her studies, but she refused to allow her daughter to come for tutoring because, "My daughter is NOT stupid!"

People who have difficulty reading aren't "stupid," either. They should be able to get help for themselves when they need it.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Movie Madness Monday 75: End of an era edition

Here we are for the 75th edition of Movie Madness Monday, the movie quote trivia game, and I am sure this week's movie will not be a surprise to anyone, but let's hope that y'all can put up some decent quotes in the comments section.

Right now, I'm busy reading a book.... (Update: I finished it. Now I'm going to read all of them all over again! Obsession!!!!)

"Spiders... the spiders... they want me to tap-dance. And I don't want to tap-dance!"

"Our pain becomes their power."

"Finally, the flesh reflects the madness within."
"Well, you'd know all about the madness within, wouldn't you?"

"You may be young in years but the heart that beats beneath your bosom is as shriveled as an old maid's, your soul as dry as the pages of the books to which you so desperately cleave."

"Shut the damn door!"

****Weekend Update: Here I gave you


The books may be over, but we've still got two films to look forward to! I'll take solace in that!

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Four Things

Ahh, missprofe hath tagged me, and I must respond. I will have to vary this a bit, since one of the prompts does not apply to me.

Four Things Meme

Four Jobs I've Had:
Classical Radio Station announcer
Wedding musician
Campus ministry intern

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over:
Princess Bride
Star Wars- the original, not the ones that turn Darth Vader into a whiny middle school student

Four Musicians or Groups I'm Obsessing About Right Now:
(I had to change this, since I've only lived two places in my life)
Crowded House (new album! new tour!)
Paul Simon
Fountains of Wayne
Andrew Bird

Four TV Shows I Love:
Northern Exposure
Monty Python's Flying Circus
Carol Burnett Show
Mary Tyler Moore Show

Four Places I've Vacationed:

Four of My Favorite Dishes:
Thai Beef Salad
Belgian Beef Beer Stew

Four Sites I Visit Daily:
Episcopal Life
Education Wonks
Scheiss Weekly
Education in Texas

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now:
Galapagos Islands
County Kerry, Ireland

Four People I am Tagging:
100 Farmers


Monday, July 16, 2007

Harry Potter Harry Potter Harry Potter Harry Potter Ohboyohboyohboy!

Okay, now, I've been having this discussion for a few days now with some of my friends, since I am SUCH a complete dork that when I think of the second I get the 7th Harry Potter book in my hands I start getting all twitchy and breathing heavily and wonder how I can tell my darling and adorable children that there are cans of Spaghetti-Os in the pantry and please no one bleed or break anything until Mommy finishes her book-- yes, that's how geeky I am. So here's my question for you:

Would you consider turning to the last page first and finding out the ending before you actually read the book?

And by the way, I'm not going to say right now what I'd do, but let me just make clear that there will be no spoilers divulged on this blog or in the comments by anyone, hear?

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Movie Madness Monday 74: Dark Destiny edition

Welcome, welcome, welcome, for another edition of Movie Madness Monday, the movie quote trivia game! Continuing with my theme of more, um, MANLY films this month, I bring you this week's feature, which was brought to mind by another week of struggling against The Man. Man, am I tired! This one should appeal to the 15 year old boy in all of us. Even if we're girls.

So remember: I give you some starter quotes from a movie, and you put your quotes from the same movie in the comments section without naming the movie.

"You didn't come here to make a choice, you've already made it. You're here to try to understand why you made it."

"Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind."

"It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied."

"Whoa. Deja vu."

"Ohh, what's really going to bake your noodle later on is, would you still have broken it if I hadn't said anything?"

"Throughout human history, we have been dependent on machines to survive. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony."

And go!

****Weekend Update: The classic dystopic fantasy for this week, we featured


The movie that put Keanu Reeves on the map as a martial arts action star!

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Friday, July 13, 2007

I can see clearly now, so put down the scalpel and back away slowly....

Well, I have just been over to Polski3's place, where he has been told by his doctor to shape up. I so empathize with him and with the feeling that this kind of news engenders.

I am a reasonably mature person, of above-average intelligence, if I do say so, and the only reason I do is to underscore the fact that I strive to be reasonably informed and cooperative with the health-care professionals in my life. Intellectually, I understand that I am no longer 17, and that therefore the old chassis might require less benign neglect and more maintenance. I understand this, I do.


Picture, if you will, being trapped at a doctor's office for two and a half hours every two months. This has been my life for the last four years. During this time, I have to stick my face into all kinds of fiendish machines and look at all kinds of weird lights and am told not to blink for what seems like a half-hour at a time. These people keep refusing to believe that I don't wear glasses. They also keep refusing to believe that I have better than 20/20 vision, so they keep giving me eye exams, and I keep reeling off the letters at 20/10 and they keep making surprised noises. I swear, I oughta go up to the machine sometime and memorize the manufacturer's information down in the corner and reel that off at them nonchalantly. That would really freak them out. And since they leave me in these little rooms for half-an hour at a whack, I could have plenty of time. That might be fun.

I can see really well. I can read tiny print from all the way across my classroom with ease. I can see kids misbehave from the back of my head. And I (probably) have glaucoma.

Why do I say probably? Because of the 8 eye doctors I have seen, 5 hem and haw a lot and say things like "Hmmm!" and "Strange!" and other sorts of non-comforting words when looking at photos of my optic nerve. They do not seem to understand the effect that this has on their patient, whom they have made blind with all kinds of nasty yellow eyedrops that must have come from a spitting cobra somewhere.

How do I feel when they keep acting so shocked and puzzled? I'll tell you: I feel like the owner of a ten year old Honda whose car starts making strange noises and when she finally takes the thing to a mechanic, the guy pops the hood, takes a quick step back and hollers to a colleague "Hey Earl! Come get a load of this!" and the next thing you know they are uncoiling a thirty-foot long boa constrictor from around the fan housing. This should not be. I would rather be told that my eyes are mind-numbingly boring. But no. My optic nerves are not "normal." My pressures are low as long as I take my eyedrops every night. Yet still they act like I've got a boa constrictor under the hood. I do not want a boa constrictor under the hood. I want them to go, "Of course," and replace a belt or something and send me on my merry way. I do not want to be a medical oddity. I want them to be able to tell me that nothing is wrong, dammit.

But even of the doctors that won't definitively say I have glaucoma, two want to shoot lasers into my eyes.

So when some adorable young doctor nonchalantly tosses off, "Well, I don't think an argon-laser would work well in your case, because you don't have much pigment somethingsomething, instead I think that a mrflthump laser would work much better blah blah blah....." Now, why do I mention a "mrflthump laser?" Because the blood starts pounding in my ears every time someone mentions surgery on my eyes, and I can't hear what Doogie Houser is saying for all the thumpthumpthumping of my heart. And I can't write down what he has saying, because.... wait for it.... he's made me blind by dilating my eyes to do all these freakin' tests.

I love that. The last doctor, who is no doubt very good and very patient and everything, nonetheless kept trying to show me the tiny lines and dots on a graph of the results from one of my tests, and when I started laughing she no doubt thought that I had lost it and yes, there was a bit of the hysterical in my laugh but really it was because... I! COULDN'T! SEE! She herself had dilated my eyes so wide that I looked like one of those sad little waifs or kitties on those black velvet paintings or perhaps a lemur. So, you know, expecting me to process anything visually at that time was really a bit much.

Now, like everything else, I am of decidedly strong opinion regarding surgery on my baby blues. I am not in favor of lasers being shot into my eyes, in case you were wondering. Lasers are for killing sci-fi creatures and making cool light shows to entertain crowds of people, half of whom have been smoking something. My mama taught me when I was a wee lass that sharp things should not be tolerated near the eyes, and that advice has stood me in good stead. I agree with Mom on this one, and also on her advice that one should never allow oneself to gaze at very bright lights. Lasers are very bright lights. Ergo, this girl wants nothing to do with surgery or lasers near her eyes. I've never even put a contact in my eye. When I first had to start putting drops in my eye, it would take an average of 6 attempts before I could get the drop in without closing my eye before the thing dropped onto my cheek. I've probably put half as many drops up my nose as in my eye. I am sure that shooting a laser into someone's eye is nothing-- to them. But to me, it's like expecting me to bungee-jump. Why would any sane person want to do something crazy like that? Falling is not a form of entertainment. Falling is something that can end badly. So let's avoid that, shall we?

No one knows why my eyes are "possibly" damaged. It could be a massive blood loss I exprienced after the birth of my first child.

(And a word to the wise: if you have ever experienced a sudden blood loss, please promise me you will go get your eyes thoroughly examined. It will save you grief later. Trust me. Don't get so busy with kids and life that you blow it off, because nobody else might tell you that this could affect your eyes.)

They may not be damaged at all. They may just be weird. I am so used to being told that I am weird that this doesn't even cause a blink. But doctors are trained to act based on the typical case, and so it seems to stump them when someone comes along who confounds all expectations. But we are all individuals. None of us is perfectly normal. This goes along with the fact that I have some sort of completely safe but abnormal structure deep in my brain that was found by a CAT scan once, that I have such low blood pressure that they sometimes think I don't have a pulse even though I am in a stressful occupation and weigh more than I should, and that I can carry a grown man around in a fireman's carry even though my BMI is appalling. And my eyes are aparently the bearded lady in the carnival of opthamology.

So that's where it sits right now. I have promised to return in two weeks to sit in the doctor's office all day so they can check my pressures during the day. But hey, they say they have wi-fi. I can bring my laptop and blog to you, my friends, whilst they torture me. Won't that be fun?

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Carnival of Education 127! How time flies!

The one hundred and twenty-seventh Carnival of Eduation is up at the Education Wonks' place. I can't believe we are up to tht many already! I remember when I contributed to my first one, which was like edition 35 or something!

And I neglected to mention last week's fabulous Independence day carnival over at my pal NYC Educator's place. Where DOES he get those pictures he uses? What a trip! It was a really great carnival, too, and I truly appreciate his inclusion of my tribute to Murphy, our late pet. I still miss him, and our other two dogs are depressed missing their friend.


Why not waste your time on the internet than going to GEICO?

Darren threw down, and I picked it up. Because I'm not competitive. I'M SPIRITUAL!
Your Aura is Blue

Spiritual and calm, you tend to live a quiet but enriching life.
You are very giving of yourself. And it's hard for you to let go of relationships.

The purpose of your life: showing love to other people

Famous blues include: Angelina Jolie, the Dali Lama, Oprah

Careers for you to try: Psychic, Peace Corps Volunteer, Counselor

God knows the counselor things feels right... And Angeline Jolie? Ummm, without the vial of blood and tattoos, okay.

And then there's this, where we're pretty similar:
You Are 70% "Average American"

You are average because you've known your best friend for at least ten years.

You are not average since you have (at least) a college degree.

And this explains why Darren reminds me of the kid brother I never had:
You are 40% Taurus

And this, where he beats me by 30 points, also explaining a LOT:
You Are 14% Evil

You are good. So good, that you make evil people squirm.
Just remember, you may need to turn to the dark side to get what you want!

I am a good girl! Sue me! And if speeding wasn't against the law, that number woulda been lower....

And then, since he feels comfortable in the company of Jack Kemp:
You Are 56% Democrat

You aren't a full fledged Democrat yet, but it's likely the party that fits you best.
You probably consider yourself an independent Democrat. You usually support the party, but you also think for yourself!

I bet he was twelve when Kent ran for president. Thinking for yourself is good.

And I'm pretty salty...
You are Ocean Blue

You're both warm and practical. You're very driven, but you're also very well rounded.
You tend to see both sides to every issue, and people consider you a natural diplomat.

I can live with this....
Your Inner European is Swedish!

Relaxed and peaceful.
You like to kick back and enjoy life.

This is completely true...
You Are Austin

A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll.
You're totally weird and very proud of it.
Artistic and freaky, you still seem to fit in... in your own strange way.

Famous Austin residents: Lance Armstrong, Sandra Bullock, Andy Roddick

Even if it IS in Texas....

And take THAT, Danilo de Costa... because this made me think of you MORE, bud:
Your Hillbilly Name Is...

Penny Sue Carter

I'm not doing the bathroom habits one. Gross.

That Blogthings place is just completely addictive, but not as addictive as YouTube.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

But of course librarians are hip! They know how to find everything!

This is for my good friend in Tulsa, whom I will call Pengyou. This made me laugh.
Librarians? Aren’t they supposed to be bespectacled women with a love of classic books and a perpetual annoyance with talkative patrons — the ultimate humorless shushers?

Not any more. With so much of the job involving technology and with a focus now on finding and sharing information beyond just what is available in books, a new type of librarian is emerging — the kind that, according to the Web site Librarian Avengers, is “looking to put the ‘hep cat’ in cataloguing.”

When the cult film “Party Girl” appeared in 1995, with Parker Posey as a night life impresario who finds happiness in the stacks, the idea that a librarian could be cool was a joke.

Now, there is a public librarian who writes dispatches for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, a favored magazine of the young literati. “Unshelved,” a comic about librarians — yes, there is a comic about librarians — features a hipster librarian character. And, in real life, there are an increasing number of librarians who are notable not just for their pink-streaked hair but also for their passion for pop culture, activism and technology.

“We’re not the typical librarians anymore,” said Rick Block, an adjunct professor at the Long Island University Palmer School and at the Pratt Institute School of Information and Library Science, both graduate schools for librarians, in New York City.

“When I was in library school in the early ’80s, the students weren’t as interesting,” Mr. Block said.

Since then, however, library organizations have been trying to recruit a more diverse group of students and to mentor younger members of the profession.

“I think we’re getting more progressive and hipper,” said Carrie Ansell, a 28-year-old law librarian in Washington.

In the last few years, articles have decried the graying of the profession, noting a large percentage of librarians that would soon be retiring and a seemingly insurmountable demand for replacements. But worries about a mass exodus appear to have been unfounded.

Michele Besant, the librarian at the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the Association of Library and Information Science statistics show a steady increase in library information science enrollments over the last 10 years. Further, at hers and other schools there is a trend for students to be entering masters programs at a younger age.

Please forgive the age-ism of the author, darling Pengyou, because you have always been hip. But please, you don't need a tattoo to prove it. I think I'd faint.


Monday, July 09, 2007

"Growth models:" an idea that's not so new

Apparently, common sense is breaking out in up-state New York. From the New York Times' Winnie Hu:
The Cohoes city school district, outside Albany, is considering a gifted program for elementary students and adding college-level courses after discovering that its top students improved less on standardized tests in the past two years than everyone else in the district.

In Ardsley, N.Y., a Westchester County suburb, administrators intend to place more special education students in regular classes after seeing their standardized test scores rise in the last year.

And as the New York City Department of Education begins grading each public school A to F for the first time this fall, more than half the evaluation will be based on how individual students progress on standardized tests.

All three changes resulted from an increasingly popular way of analyzing test scores, called a “growth model” because it tracks the progress of students as they move from grade to grade rather than comparing, say, this year’s fourth graders with last year’s, the traditional approach.

Concerned that the traditional way amounted to an apples-to-oranges comparison, schools in more than two dozen states have turned to growth models. Now a movement is mounting to amend the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which is up for reauthorization this year, to allow such alternative assessments of student progress.

Many urban educators contend that growth models are a fairer measure because they recognize that poor and minority students often start out behind, and thus have more to learn to reach state standards. At the same time, many school officials in affluent suburbs favor growth models because they evaluate students at all levels rather than focusing on lifting those at the bottom, thereby helping to justify instruction costs to parents and school boards at a time of shrinking budgets.

Adding growth models as a way to satisfy federal requirements to demonstrate “adequate yearly progress” could make it easier for some schools to avoid penalties because they would receive credit for students who improve performance but still fall below proficiency levels. It could also increase pressure on high-performing schools that sail above state standards to prove that their students are continuing to advance.

Federal education officials agreed in 2005 to a pilot program allowing up to 10 states to experiment with growth models, but emphasized that they remained responsible for ensuring that all students would reach reading and math standards by 2014, and show consistent gains along the way. Seven states — North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Delaware, Ohio, Florida and Iowa — have joined the pilot so far, federal officials said, and on Tuesday, the Education Department green-lighted Alaska and Arizona to use growth models to analyze data from the 2006-7 school year.

“A growth model is a way for states that are already raising achievement and following the bright-line principles of the law to strengthen accountability,” Margaret Spellings, the secretary of education, said in a statement. “We are open to new ideas, but when it comes to accountability, we are not taking our eye off the ball.”

And there's more to read.

You know, I could SWEAR that the idea of a "growth model" is far from a "new idea," in the words of the Queen of Charts. Hmmm, when have I seen that before?

It'll come to me....

Oh yes, during the many previous years of my educational career, including my time as a student. I still remember my and my classmates' percentile scores in reading, science, social studies, and math being compared every year to see if we really WERE actually making improvement (and strangely, they also told us our IQ scores, something I hear that isn't done any more.) I would have thought that it was absurd if my scores had been compared with the scores of the kids younger or older than my class. Because, you know, I worked hard for those scores, and they were DIFFERENT PEOPLE. Some of whom spent their days NOT reading. Some of whom spent their days smoking things.

Also known as the "longitudinal study" or "panel study"in the world of the social sciences, it's a fancy name for what is just common sense. Which is, of course, sadly lacking in much of the NCLB Act.

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Let the language geeks rejoice: We've Got Puns!

Okay, my husband sent these, and they ARE delicious!

It is said that the ability to make and understand puns is the highest level of language development. The ability to make puns that don't make ordinary people shudder transcends the language skills of even the most adept.

Here then, are the 10 first place winners in the International Pun Contest:

Two fish swim into a concrete wall. The one turns to the other and says, "Dam!"

Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.

Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says "I've lost my electron."
The other says "Are you sure?"
The first replies "Yes, I'm positive."

Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal?
His goal: transcend dental medication.

A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse.
"But why?" they asked, as they moved off.
"Because," he said," I can't stand chess-nuts boasting in an open foyer."

A woman has twins and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named "Ahmal." The other goes to a family in Spain; they name him "Juan." Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Ahmal.
Her husband responds, "They're twins! If you've seen Juan, you've seen Ahmal."

A group of friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they opened up a small florist shop to raise funds. Since everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought the competition was unfair. He asked the good fathers to close down, but they would not. He went back and begged the friars to close. They ignored him. So, the rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, the roughest and most vicious thug in town to "persuade" them to close. Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't close up shop. Terrified, they did so, thereby proving that only Hugh can prevent florist friars.

Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and, with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him (Oh man, this is so bad, it's good) a super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.


Movie Madness Monday 73: Ottopilot edition

Welcome back to another Movie Madness Monday, the movie quote trivia game. I had a friend tell me the fun she had trying to get back home, and so I'm sending this MMM out to her and to all of us who have tried (or are going to try) to get from HERE to THERE this summer without losing our minds.

So remember, I give you some hints, and you put your favorite quote from the movie in the comments section, without naming the movie.

Give it a go, then!

"First time?"
"No, I've been nervous lots of times."

"We have clearance, Clarence."
"Roger, Roger. What's our Vector, Victor?"

"Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking."

"There's a sale at Penney's!"

"What kind of plane is it?"
"Oh, it's a big pretty white plane with red stripes, curtains in the window and wheels. It looks like a big tylenol."

"No dice, Chicago! I'm giving the orders and we're coming in. I guess the foot's on the other hand now, isn't it Kramer?"

****Weekend Update: Yes, the movie is AIRPLANE! a spoof of all those disaster movies like Airport '75. This was kind of the great-grandaddy of Snakes on a Plane.

Airplane! was cheesy and dorky and had a bunch of great sight-gags, and since I was more of a verbal person, the first time I saw this, I admit I rolled my eyes a LOT. But seeing June Cleaver speak Jive was really good.

Now that I am older, I must say I appreciate this one more. It's a classic!


Sunday, July 08, 2007

“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster.”

My friend EdWonk likes to post the occassional "wanker of the day" story, but since he is on vacation, I hope he doesn't mind if I borrow his little descriptor for this story. Of course, "wanker" implies that he just participates in "self-abuse," but THIS piece of sludge-- he deserves to be thrashed.

You have to read this to believe it. The bastard.
A Hazelwood man who injected his teenage sons with heroin and cocaine in 2005 was sentenced Thursday in St. Louis County Circuit Court to 10 years in prison.

The father, Stephen Pickle, 39, of Hazelwood, said he gave his children the drugs so they would understand how he felt when he did the drugs himself, according to court records. His youngest son also contracted hepatitis C as a result of the injections. His sons were ages 12 and 16 at the time.

Pickle pleaded guilty April 26 of five felony counts of endangering the welfare of a child, and one count of possessing drug paraphernalia.

Pickle stood emotionless Thursday alongside his attorney, Joel Schwartz, while Judge Emmett M. O'Brien handed down the sentence.

Prosecutor Teresa Bomkamp delivered harsh words to Pickle, who showed no remorse.

She called Pickle's conduct "cruel, thoughtless and completely incomprehensible." Bomkamp said Pickle "destroyed the childhood of both his sons. The oldest is now a drug addict; the youngest is with his mom" trying to get his life back together.

Pickles' oldest son, Douglas Pickle, was first injected with drugs in 2005. Bomkamp said Douglas Pickle's whereabouts are now unknown. The younger son, Ryan, and his mother have moved to outstate Missouri.

Stephen Pickle also injected his daughter with drugs in 2005, Bomkamp said, but he was not charged with that because the daughter was 18.

Four of the criminal counts involve Ryan and say he was injected with drugs between March and Oct. 21, 2005. The incidents took place at Ryan's grandmother's home in north St. Louis County, at a location at Washington Street and Interstate 270 in Florissant and at Stephen Pickle's apartment on Elm Grove Court in Hazelwood.

The fifth count involved drug injections of Douglas at Stephen Pickle's apartment in June 2005.

After Ryan Pickle told his mother and then police in the fall of 2005, Hazelwood police searched Stephen Pickle's apartment and found drug paraphernalia such as vials and syringes, authorities said.

Stephen Pickle, a postal employee for 14 years before his dismissal last year, refused to talk to Hazelwood police when they confronted him about the allegations.

In the interview with Luzette Wood, a caseworker at the Childrens Advocacy Center of St. Louis, Ryan Pickle told her that he was told by his father, "If he allowed his dad to inject him, Ryan might understand what it was like to be him."

His dad introduced him to heroin injections "as a way to come down without coming down," he told Wood.

Ryan said they washed the needles several times between injections but apparently not enough because his dad had hepatitis C and Ryan now has it as well, Wood reported.

Stephen and Lisa Pickle divorced in 1992, Family Court records show. Lisa Pickle got physical custody, but both parents got joint custody. Stephen Pickle was ordered to pay child support of $904 a month.

In September 2005, Ryan Pickle had disagreements with his mother and moved in with his father, court records indicated. He returned home in late October and later reported the drug use to his mother.

In court filings, Bomkamp said she had given the defense 294 pages of medical records involving Ryan from St. John's Mercy Medical Center, and listed the boys' sister as a witness along with James Barton, a friend of Stephen Pickle's.

Bomkamp said in an interview Thursday that Barton was present when Stephen Pickle injected his children.

Bomkamp told O'Brien at the sentencing that Pickle "was a drug addict who dragged these little boys down with him."

"Boys that age are supposed to be throwing a football or going fishing with their dad or doing the things sons do with their fathers," Bomkamp said. "He had a duty and obligation to protect them. Instead, he decided to take them down with him."

Hmm. One child with Hepatitis C. One child an addict and missing. Nearly all the time, I don't buy that whole "I am a victim of addiction" thing, because the person making that claim CHOSE to take the substance to which they then became addicted. But these two boys? No. When I think of wonderful people I know who can't have children, and then I think about this piece of putrescent possum-droppings..... And what idiot judge gave him joint custody?

This guy? Prison's too good for him.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

God Bless America!

God bless America! Land that I love!

Stand beside her, and guide her,

Through the night with the light from above;

From the mountains,

To the prairies,

To the oceans

White with foam;

God bless America! My home, sweet home!

All photos by the Cornelius family:
1) Memorial Day, 2007;
2) Hunting Island lighthouse, SC
3) Antelope Canyon, AZ
4) Blue Ridge Mountains From the Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
5) Western prairie flowers
6) View from Hunting Island Lighthouse, SC
7) Linville Falls, SC
8) My father's flag on Memorial Day.

May God bless this country, and make it a beacon in the world for true freedom and peace. I would like to leave you with the words of John Winthrop, in 1630 (edited for spelling and punctuation):

"Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck and to provide for our posterity is to follow the Counsel of Micah,
to do Justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God.

For this end, we must be knit together in this work as one man,
we must entertain each other in brotherly Affection,
we must be willing to abridge our selves of our superfluities, for the supply of others' necessities,
we must uphold a familiar Commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality,
we must delight in each other,
make others' Conditions our own,
rejoice together, mourn together, labour, and suffer together,
always having before our eyes our Commission and Community in the work,
our Community as members of the same body."

We are all one people. Let us be a just people. Happy Independence Day!


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Mawwage is wot bwings us togevvah today....

Some dear friends are getting married this weekend, and as someone who's been married for nearly twenty years, I thought I would share a few important anecdotes to the reality of wedded bliss (from a friend who emailed me these-- I just can't help myself!)

I know I'm not going to understand women. I'll never understand how you can take boiling hot wax, pour it onto your upper thigh, rip the hair out by the root, and still be afraid of a spider.

(Editorial comment: I don't understand that either-- either part.)

A husband read an article to his wife about how many words women use a day...30,000 to a man's 15,000.

The wife replied, "The reason has to be because we have to repeat everything to men..."

The husband then turned to his wife and asked, "What?"

(Editorial comment: If he doesn't deny that you said anything to begin with... And when you have kids, you get to repeat things much more than once!)

While attending a marriage seminar dealing with communication, Tom and his wife Grace listened to the instructor remind them, "It is essential that husbands and wives know each other's likes and dislikes...."

He addressed the man,"Can you name your wife's favorite flower?"

Tom leaned over, touched his wife's arm gently and whispered, "It's Pillsbury, isn't it?"

A man and his wife were having some problems at home and were giving each other the silent treatment. The man realized that the next day, he would need his wife to wake him at 5:00 AM for an early morning business flight.

Not wanting to be the first to break the silence (and LOSE), he wrote on a piece of paper, "Please wake me at 5:00 AM." He left it where he knew she would find it.

The next morning, the man woke up, only to discover it was 9:00 AM and he had missed his flight. Furious, he was about to go and see why his wife hadn't wakened him, when he noticed a piece of paper by the bed.

The paper said, "It is 5:00 AM. Wake up."

Men are not equipped for these kinds of contests.

(Editorial comment: Yes, your husband will still expect you to be his alarm clock, even if you are angry at each other. Because even though they love technology, and can program the TiVo to stand on its head and while changing the oil in the car, they can't figure out how to stop hitting the snooze button or sleeping through the alarm altogether.)

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Once again, the marionette dances as the strings are pulled.

Who didn't see THIS one coming? The only surprise is that it wasn't a full pardon.


But hey, there's still until January 20, 2009 at 11:59 am!

And by the way, (although a novel argument from people who like to trot out "strict constructionism" as a rationale when it suits them) I actually AGREE that Cheney is not a member of the executive branch, and I think we need to be clear about this from now on. There are FOUR branches of government in this administration:

The Legislative....

The Judicial....

The Executive....

And the Imperial.

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Eight! Ocho! Huit! Yodul! Hachi! VIII!

On the Edge and Casting Out Nines have both graciouly tagged moi to reveal 8 random things about myself. Now, if you read this blog at all, you know it's pretty damn random anyway, but okie-doke!

1. I never wear nail polish on my fingernails. I remember when the Husbandly Unit was courting me, and I had been buying into all that gotta-paint-your-nails-if-you-want-to-catch-a-fella crap, and, like the engineer he is, he pointed out what an absolute waste of time it was to do it, so I very thankfully stopped. I am sure it was actually all a part of his nefarious plan to marry a low-maintenance (please read that word as "inexpensive") woman since he was also quite, um, frugal. But I never get a manicure. Of any sort. French, Korean, Russian or any other nationality. When you play stringed instruments, what's the point?

2. I used to drink 7-8 Pepsis a day, beginning early in the morning and going into the wee hours. I now allow myself maybe one a day during the school year. It was a wrench.

3. I only gained 8 pounds while I was expecting. When you start off looking like a lady weight-lifter, you don't need to go far. And my feet actually decreased a size by the time I had my last kid.

4. I used to be addicted to romance novels. I liked the funny ones-- not so much with the Danielle Steele. My favorite one was also a mystery-- It was Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters. I read that often, even today.

5. Complete strangers ask me for help or advice in stores and on the street. All the time. They will pick me out of a crowd and make a beeline for me, ignoring cops and concierges by the score. My husband has finally gotten used to it, but it used to freak him out.

6. I could clean up on that new show "The Singing Bee." I can remember song lyrics from songs I haven't heard for years. On our vacation, we discovered that, apparently, radio stations in the Carolinas don't play any music other than oldies and country. I sang the lyrics to every song I heard for hours to keep myself awake. After three notes, I can start belting out, "When the sun comes up on a sleepy little town/ Down around San Antone/ And the folks are risin' for another day/ Round about their homes...." Pity me.

7. I don't get hangovers. Ever. The secret is to drink a glass of water for every glass of alcohol. And come from a long line of moonshiners.

8. I was a Camp Fire Girl. Not a Girl Scout; a Camp Fire Girl. All the way from Blue Birds through Horizon Club. And I loved it. I wish there was a group nearby for my girls, but they are Girl Scouts instead, poor things.

Now, this meme has been around for so long, I hereby tag anyone who hasn't gotten to play along yet if they want to. Just let me know, and I'll read yours!

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Movie Madness Monday 72: Brinkley edition

Welcome to a comfort-food edition of Movie Madness Monday, the movie quote trivia game. Not feeling so sparkly this week, so I'm going to go with one of my favorite actor/actress pairs, along with an adorable dog. So let's see what quotes you've got... and if you can't remember, why not watch it again? Thanks for coming by!

"Brinkley is my dog. He loves the streets of New York as much as I do. Although he likes to eat bits of pizza and bagels off the sidewalk and I prefer to buy them."

"That is amazing - you can spell 'fox'? Can you spell 'dog'?"

"I always take a relationship to the next level. If that works out, I take it to the next level after that, until I finally reach that level when it becomes absolutely necessary for me to leave."

"When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does."

"Name me one thing--ONE!-- that we've gained from technology."
"That's one. You think this machine is your friend but it's not."

"Is she a Republican?"
"I can't... help myself!"

"So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around?"

Have fun, now!

****Weekend Update: The three most important words in the internets are:


There are a few movies that, no matter how blue I am, perk me right up, like Roxanne, When Harry Met Sally, The Princess Bride, French Kiss, Grosse Pointe Blank...

What do they all have in common? Like Lou Grant once famously said, they've "got spunk." I need spunk. I have admired Meg Ryan's comedic gifts since she was on As the World Turns and even though they often put her into tragic situations, she was nonetheless sometimes allowed to do something fun. It was enough to make me watch a soap opera, a genre of which I am not that fond.

Thanks for coming by and playing!


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