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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

All Mixed Up

On the eve of conferences, I found myself doing what any self-respecting, burned out first year teacher would do.

I started sifting through my mix tapes.

Let me backtrack a bit and say that for me, music has always been quite therapeutic. I can't play any instruments, although I do currently have a keyboard in the basement collecting dust. I also can't read music, although I've tried off and on over the years. But I did used to religiously write poems of sorts, planning out the music in my head. At age 12, I think I hoped I was some sort of undiscovered afficionado. I longed to be like my writing/producing idol, David Foster. I know, I was a huge dork.

Although the song writing is but a memory and I don't stalk Foster nearly as much, the desire to make the "perfect mix tap" has stayed with me through the years.

Understand that the mix tape itself has evolved as well. When I say "Mix tape" for instance, you know what I mean. My class of third graders, however, might look at me as if I was crazy. My feeling is this: whether it's tapes, records, 8-tracks or hell, something they haven't invented yet, music still, as Madonna says, makes the people come together.

For the past four years or so, my sweet tooth for all things music has grown into the art of downloading. I know it's "wrong" but I'll be the first to say it; "God Bless Downloading!" Since it's wonderful introduction into my life, I haven't purchased a single album.

I have historically found that I make most of my mixes when I'm one of two things: bored or stressed. I have endless mix tapes under my bed, in my closet, in drawers etc. Stuff like Love Songs Mix 1, Love Songs Mix 2 and so on. I even started getting creative near the end after running out of inventive mixes. That's when things like the Fun Mix were born. On top of all of that I have EVERY MONTH from January 1989-2001 cataloged on tape, give or take a few.

I am so not kidding.

But gone are the twenty-four song or so mixes and it's place are 160 + cds. For awhile I've been deciding that I really should go ahead and put all of my stuff on cds because eventually tapes will be obselete and then, well, I'll be sorry.

There is no good time to take on such a huge process, but here are a few reasonable suggestions:

When you have a week off
Holiday break
Summer vacation

Here's the time not to do it:

When you have tons of other things to do. Things that deal with deadlines. Things that deal with children. Things like I had.

In my defense, I must say I really was ahead of the game lesson planning wise. Could I have looked ahead at a few things? Sure. But I also look at it like this. Making the perfect mix tape is my way of putting order to things. I don't know what it is, but I know I have a compulsive need at times to organize things that be organized. Especially at 6:45pm on a Sunday night. But once I'm on a roll I'm like Britney Spears's career, inexcusably hard to stop.

But wait, it gets worse.

Not only do I download all the songs I currently do not have on CD, I hem and haw over the process.

Do I want the live or studio recording of Elton John's "Candle In The Wind?"
How could I have never dowloaded Toni Basil's "Mickey" before?
Why in the hell can't I get a decent copy of "Money For Nothing?!"

Finally, a little before 8:00 pm on Sunday night I was able to pry myself away from the project. But of couse, not without downloading a good portion of pop culture up to the year 1999. At the very least, Prince would be proud.

For those of you who made it to this point, I still haven't parted with any tapes or cds...that's far too big an undertaking. You know, something to save until the end of the second marking period.
Saturday, November 27, 2004

Friends, Laughter and Tryptophan

Last night, some friends and I went to see the latest Last Comic Standing tour. Already a veteran, I had gone to the "old school" tour the summer before last and saw Rich Vos, Dave Mordal and Cory Kahaney. They were all good. Mordal was the best, even if he is an ass. Kahaney was ok, but used a lot of the same material from the NBC show. Vos tried shamelessly to scam on girls half his age. Ahh, memories.

This season it was a lot of the same only, with different weather and different comics, well kinda sorta. We ordered our tickets back in September, mainly because we're eager losers that panicked at the thought of missing out. But the scheduled lineup changed more times than Jessica Simpson's falsetto. For awhile all different combinations of Jay London, Todd Glass, Alonzo Bodden, John Heffron and Gary Gulman were mentioned. No one knew for sure, so if you were going to see one comic and one comic only, you to had hedge your bets and cross your fingers.

So imagine our surprise when the lineup last night actually consisted of Gary Gulman, Jay London...and Cory Kahaney. I don't know if this is good news for Kahaney or not, but whatever. Bodden was apparently on the lineup for the next night's show. I guess being the big winner allows for some unscheduled down time.

So we were disappointed Bodden wasn't there, but we didn't even know for sure he wasn't till the very end, so it didn't hurt us much. Plus the show was great overall, well despite the fact Kahaney is still performing the same material. My friend passed London getting ready to go on stage when she went to the bathroom. When she came back, she said he reeked of pot. She was right. He performed really well, but he also went way over time. He said goodbye about five separate times...and then just kept on going. It reminded me of the old SNL skit, James Brown's Celebrity Hot Tub with Eddie Murphy. He also had a few jokes about pot thrown in there and made reference to being messed up. Now that's the type of stuff Last Comic Standing: The Clips You Never Saw is made of.

But the award for the best performance of the night hands down goes to Gary Gulman. I loved Gulman on the show, and I love him even more now. My married friend remarked repeatedly how she wished she was Mrs. Gulman. Her husband didn't seem to mind. A lot of his humor revolves around food which, by and large, is unchartered territory. He pokes fun at everything from celery, to grapefruit to Fig Newtons.

If you haven't yet, you can check out some of Gulman's audio clips here. If I may be as bold as to make a recommendation, the sugar cookie bit is one of my personal faves.
Friday, November 26, 2004

I'll Be The Man Who Will Fight For Your Honor

On what was surely "the most dramatic rose ceremony...EVER", our latest bachelor, Byron, offered the final rose (and apparently, his hand in marriage) to second-time's-the-charm contestant, Mary. Really it was more over the top than touching in my humble opinion. I kept waiting for him to say, "Mary, will you marry me?" but I don't think he said it just that way. Ahh! Foiled again.:( No worries for runner up Tonya. She kept it real in her goodbye speech. I guess the only thing fake on that chick is her set of knockers.

But one question still remains...what will Mary do when Byron inevitably goes back on tour with Chicago? Or as Byron likes to play it, back on tour with the other "fisherman"? Surely she's the inspiration, but I would think fishing day in and day out would also be a hard habit to break...:)
Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Uno, Dos, Tres... Catorce?

Being that I am a new year teacher, there are a lot of firsts that have gone along with my inaugural year. First, first day. First time dealing with incessant discipline problems. First time lesson planning, solo. And my personal favorite, the first time doing report cards.

When I was a kid, I didn't usually have much to worry about come report card time. I always tried my best in school, even when I didn't get the A. Well, except for maybe in gym. But nevertheless, I never would fret when my parents went to parent-teacher conferences. Most of the time nothing was a surprise. I guess I was pretty boring.

But like what seems to be the reoccuring theme in the school where I work, report cards are no longer a cut and dry matter. We used to go by the system that, oh I don't know, virtually every school in the country goes by. This tried and true system is of the A,B,C and D variety.

Then my school had to go and mess up a good thing, not unlike David Lee Roth when he left Van Halen. In place of A,B,C and D we now have 4,3,2 and 1. Some might say why the change. Doesn't a 4 mean an A anyhow etc.? Au contraire.

Here's the breakdown for you:

4= 85-100...Exceeds grade level standards
3= 84-72...Meets grade level standards
2= 65-71...Working towards grade level standards
1 64 and under...Not meeting grade level standards

Somehow giving "a 4 for effort" doesn't have the same ring to it.

For those of you who scored high in reading comprehension, you've probably already read between the lines and thus, can skip this paragraph. Regardless, I'll break it down even further since I am a teacher and it is *supposed* to be what I do best anyhow.

Look closely. Look very closely. Note the range for a 4 is 85-100. An 85 where in most instances, is a middle of the road, solid B, is now...a 4, which converts to exceeding grade level standards.

For the fun of it, let's define the word exceeding shall we?

Pronunciation: ik-'sEd
to be greater than or superior to

Now the last time I checked, an 85 was a good grade and nothing to scoff at. But an 85 was, is and will always be a B. Unless of course you want to tell me that now up is down, right is left and the fat lady, did indeed, finally sing.

So in what alternate universe does a B mean you are exceeding grade level standards? Well in the the district I work in of course.

Now here comes the fun part; the reasoning. If you look even closer you will notice that not only is the range for an exceeder is a whopping 85-100. But as the numbers decrease, so does the margin. In fact, by the time you get to a 2 (65-71) it's almost a "why bother?" scenario. By the way if you're wondering if I just made up a new word with exceeder I probably did. I figured it's ok though, cause they went ahead and made up a whole new grade.

So the theory here is that the more we widen the gap, the more "overachievers" it will look like our district has. Parents, who barely speak English, if at all, will surely look at the new system.. and their child who is getting 3's and 4's...and call them an A and B student, right? Wrong. A child could very easily have all 3's...and still have a 72 average. Now there could be another child who also has all 3's...with an 84 average. See where I'm going with this?

As if the 4,3,2,1 system wasn't mind boggling enough, there are subcategories. See a child gets a 4,3,2 or 1 in said subject, but then we have to give each child +, check or - for particular skills.

+ = strong in this area
check = appropriate progress
- = not yet strong in this area

The kicker here being (come on, you knew there had to be one) is that these are specific skills that go along with the NJ Core Curriculum Standards. For instance, in math there's a subcategory something like, "can read and interpret information on a graph". There are about 10 for each subject. Math runs the gammet from everything from telling times tables. But here's the hysterical part. Are you ready? A good teacher might say (and has), how do you assign a +,check or - to subject matter that hasn't been covered yet? Wouldn't this instead get an NA for Not applicable? Well by "the powers that be's" standards the answer is a resounding...NO. Apparently in a perfect world the children ARE being exposed to all of these things EACH AND EVERY semester. And if they're not? Well then you're expected to bust your ass to make sure you are damn well making it that way.

So to get around the system, you simply assign a check to a skill set not yet covered like say, division. A check meaning (say it with me)....appropriate progress at this time. But then take a concept like place value and you can assign -'s because by this time, we've been there, done that and the child could and should have mastered it.

So in theory, something that is getting a check the first marking period...could get a - the next marking period...because by then you could say you properly covered it and frankly my dear, they don't get it.

Still with me? I didn't think so. Neither will be the kids, or the parents come Monday when report cards are distributed and (God help me) explained.

So there you have it. That's the A's B's and C's of report cards Abbot district style. Or should I say, the 4's,3's,2's and 1's...
Monday, November 22, 2004

Keep On Walking, I Ain't Talking To You Anymore

Note to Vanessa "Thousand Miles" Carlton: It's one thing when radio stations play your old songs in the hopes you'll release new material. It's another issue entirely, however, when radio stations opt to play these songs even after they've been provided them with said new material.

Perhaps you might have been better off just walking 500 Miles, such as the Proclaimers did back in '93. This would have saved you some time to work on shaking the sophomore slump.

For further reference on this subject, see Jimmy Ray of Are You Jimmy Ray? fame and Lou "Mambo No. 5" Bega.
Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Bipolarlity of the Bittersweet

I lost two kids this week. Before you go and get all excited, I didn't lose lose the kids, they merely transferred out. One was at the beginning of the week. It was quite unexpected. It also broke my heart. I have very few "good" kids. He was one of them. Ain't it always the way?

Then I had another child leave at the end of the week. This kid was saying he was leaving since day one. I never fully believed him because to be honest, the kid lies...A LOT. But lo and behold, the sucker was the telling the truth this time. Is it wrong to say that I was glad to lose him? I Of course, didn't show that to HIM. He brought in a card for me and cookies for everyone. It was sweet. I truly wish him well, I'm just glad his wellness will no longer be my responsiblity.

So now, I have a whopping total of 17 children in my class. This makes me nervous. I work in a very transient district. So if kids can leave my school, new kids can just as easily be shipped to us. And where, pretell, do you think that a brand spanking new third grader might get shipped to? You do the math.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Made You Look!

I saw Saw this weekend. It was a decent movie, surprisingly enough, if you can endure gore and all of that. But that's not really why I'm writing. I am more intrigued by all the play on words that come out of seeing Saw...see?

The seeing of Saw alone is a great conversation piece:

Before seeing Saw: "I want to see Saw." Get it? See-Saw?

While your watching Saw:
"Did you just see what I saw?"

After watching Saw:
"I saw Saw." or "Did you see Saw?"

See what I mean? The possiblilities are endless. So see Saw, if only to say I told you to see it. But saw it here first.:)

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Making A List, Checking It Twice

I believe the children are our future.

I also believe that the children are damn expensive.

Every year, teachers all over the country have to sit down, take a deep breath and take on a very important task. They have to put the lesson planning and grading aside and decide...what they want to order for the next year. At my school, that time is now.

To be honest, there never really is a best time for the process. It's time consuming and frustrating. It's extra frustrating when you're new and you still don't know what you will need for this year, let alone the next. Should I order the translucent counters or the multi-colored ones? Do I really need that extra pocket chart? Regardless, I had take on the job of trying to pick and choose.

It needs to be said that at my district, the sky used to be the limit. We are something called an Abbott district, which in short means we get lots of money from the state. So there are stories of teachers ordering ridiculous amounts of stuff, just because they could. I'm sure there was some sort of hypothetical cutoff point, but let's just say, some teachers got greedy.

But, as all good things must come to an end, this bountiful of riches too had it's time. Of course, wouldn't you know the first year they set a limit is also the first year I am teaching there. Ahh, timing is everything.

So, the limit all teachers were given this year is $2,000. $2,000. It's a weird amount. It's a lot more than other teachers in some districts get, but still doesn't go a long way when you're new and need a lot.

2,000 is like what... 2 questions on Millionaire? It's funny how money is all relative. If I was to write this post about a weekend I had in AC and said I won $2,000, you'd no doubt congratulate me. But if I were to tell you I had $2,000 to renovate my kitchen, you'd probably tell me to cut some corners and get creative.

Regardless, I looked at what seems like zillions of catalogs and picked out things I thought were fairly decent (and somewhat necessary). Could I teach without these things? Certainly. I mean, I am now. Would it be nice to have them though? You betcha.

Then I get news last week that yours truly can go above the set $2,000 because a. I am new and b. the prinicpal apparently "knows my room was raided". Now I am in an awkward position of epic proportions. I can't tell the other new staffers I was given this green light, because as of now, I don't know of anyone else who was told this. The other awkward part comes in defining what is acceptably going over $2,000 at the risk of being indulgent. When I tried to bring the issue up I was simply told, "Well, put down what you think you need."

So, I sat down yet again and added some things to my list. I didn't even include all the big money items I kinda, sorta really need because then I really would be over. When all was said and done, I'm at roughly $3700, including shipping and handling.

I thought about trying to trim it down, but then I thought, why? I already put too much blood, tears and chalk dust into this process. If they want me to get rid of stuff, I gladly will, assuming they come back to me and say it. Of course, there is always the chance they will trim it down for me and then they might get rid of something I wanted more over something else. That would really suck. But in a way, it's out of my hands.

What would you do? Would you hand your purchase order in as is since you were given no specific guidelines, or would you get out the scissors and start cutting?

I look at it like this.

If I fail, or even if I least I ordered what I'd think I'd need.
Thursday, November 11, 2004

Speak of the Ill-Fated Devil

Some coincidences cannot be ignored. Just a few days ago I wrote about the 80's sitcom actor Jim J. Bullock in conjunction with cameo appearances on television programs. His name was totally chosen at random because the man himself is, to be honest...quite random.

Then today I read this:

'80s Sitcom Secrets Revealed! by Daniel R. Coleridge

TV Guide Online has some good dirt for classic-TV fans today: It's no secret that former talk-show host and Hollywood Squares regular JM J. Bullock, 49, is gay. However, Monroe Ficus — his ditzy character on ABC's Too Close for Comfort — wasn't supposed to be. Still, that didn't stop many viewers from reading him that way, which caused lotsa drama behind the scenes. Now that the '80s hitcom's first season is out on DVD, Bullock thinks it's high time Monroe's skeletons come out of the closet, too!

TV Guide Online: You recently guest-starred on The Bold and the Beautiful...
JM J. Bullock: Yes, my character's name was Serge. But I pronounced it "Sir-gay."

TVGO: Before we hang up, what are you up to these days?
Bullock: I just got back from doing Hairspray on Broadway, and I'm starting my second season of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide on Nickelodeon. I play the life science teacher, Mr. Monroe. How bizarre is that? The creator adored Monroe on Too Close for Comfort and wanted to name the character that as a tribute. All these kids who grew up watching me are now hiring me! I feel like a gayosaur.

These are mere snippets of the interview. I'll spare you the rest of the gory details. Unles of course if reading more about Jim J is what you want, what you really, really want.
Monday, November 08, 2004

And featuring Janet, As The Nit Picky Blogger

There's a growing phenomenon in television today. It's what I like to call the "let's rely on" trend.

The concept is very simple. Take a show. Any show. Now most programs have the average 5 to 7 main characters, give or take a few. But then you have the add on's that are often infused into new or already existing programs. These people are commonly referred to as guest stars or in really super cases, special guest stars.

Usually the reason these people have been featured is really quite simple and can be boiled down to one of three reasons:

1. The show is new and figures adding "star" power will also rope in the viewers.
2. The show has been around for awhile and needs new viewers.
3. The show is on its last leg and really needs new viewers.

In all three cases the same rule applies, "Let's rely on (insert star's name here) to get this show, off the ground/back on track/save us please.

In some cases, this practice works. Take for example, Melrose Place adding Heather Locklear many moons and backstabbing soaps ago. The show was struggling, Heather came on board and along with a revamp, Melrose was riding high for years to come.

But for every shining example there's one that's not so hot. Take Will & Grace which, personal views aside, started as a rather funny show. But now nearly every single week there is SOMEBODY who just happens to stop by to chat it up with Will and the gang. To make matters worse, these people often play themselves (i.e. Cher) which takes a campy show and makes it even campier. If I wanted to watch famous people playing famous people I would watch SNL or even in some awkward twist of fates, the nightly news. I just don't get it. The last time I checked you had four, funny and capable actors already built on. Why go digging for diamonds when you've already got gems?

Then there are the newer shows that advertise up a storm when they add a "name" to the roster. The most recent example of this I saw was on the Taye Diggs drama, Kevin Hill. Diggs is a hot show lawyer. An alpha male Ally McBeal who unexpectedly gets saddled with a kid. But apparently Taye giving Stella her groove back wasn't enough for UPN. Oh no. They had to go and get a big time celebrity to seal the deal. And who, pretell, did UPN find? Well none other than one... Ms. Rhea Pearlman.

I'm sorry but is that name a draw anymore? In fact, let's call a spade a spade. Was it really ever a draw, ever? Even when Cheers was in it's heyday I don't remember seeing Rhea's name above the credits. Sure she had some funny one-liners, but so did Monroe on Too Close For Comfort and really, where is Jim J. Bullock now? If the rule serves to be true, he just might show up on Lost next week, or the more fitting...Will & Grace. (see how I came full circle with that one...wink wink)

And while I'm on the does one rate getting the very special guest star stamp of approval anyhow? Sometimes shows have actors, big names or not, that stick around for years that still maintain special guest star status. I don't understand. Is this a plus? Is this a minus? Does it mean more money or less? Or quite simply, does this give said actor an easy out when the show inevitably gets cancelled or jumps the shark, whichever comes first?

Sometimes I get excited when a show I like has a special guest star. Most of the times though, I find I'm rather let down when the guest star is underused or even worse, overused. But usually these are shows I already watch, that said star just happens to show up on. So note to the networks. I'm not going to start watching Cold Case just because you've got Bea Arthur playing on the team for one night. In fact, with Arthur at bat, I know I'm not.

In short, them being there is not a deal maker or breaker. So just shut up. You had me at hello.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Has Anybody Here Seen Our Old Friend Cav?

I went to go "visit" a mutual friend of ours, Club Cav a few days ago. Only there was nothing there. No one to visit. Hmmm...

I went back a few times, hoping it was just under renovation but still...nothing.
So, given the unusual circumstances (if you don't know what I'm talking about then don't worry about it) I figured I'd send out an APB post here...If you know where Cav is or if YOU are Cav reading this, drop us a line and let us know you're ok, k?

I now bring you back to our regularly scheduled programming, already in progress.
Friday, November 05, 2004

Oh Say, Did You See The OC?

Last night was the night we've all been waiting for; the long-awaited return of The OC.

It feels like ages since we've seen Seth, Ryan and the gang. It looks like ages too. Did you SEE the cast members? It seems like some of the youngins aged overnight. I mean, no one is a teenager, except for Mischa and everyone else, well...they seem to be in danger of entering Ian Ziering territory in a few short seasons if you know what I mean. I'm hoping the look I was seeing on Adam Brody's face was just exhaustion. Yeah, that must be it. Exhaustion.

But alas, there is FINALLY something on Thursday nights to fill the 8 o'clock void. I'm sorry to say it, but Joey just isn't doing it for me. Watching Joey after having Friends for so many years is like having a side salad when you used to have filet mignon.

Anyway, there was a lot of baggage that needed to be checked on last night's episode. In case you missed it, the looming questions were: Will Seth stay in Portland?, Will Ryan stay in Chino?, Will Tate Donovan ever find another adjective to use besides fantastic? Will Peter Gallagher's eyebrows ever be tamed? Answers were provided for half of these. I'll let you guess which half.

Due to last year's content, The OC has been unofficially categorized as a dramaedy, half drama/half comedy. Only last night it was more like 80/20, with drama holding strong. I guess with all the angst to deal with, there was little time left over for laughs. I'll forgive you OC...this time. Next week though, I won't be as forgiving. You've been handed the 90210-Dawson's torch to carry on to the next generation. No pressure or anything.

Remember this and make us proud.
Thursday, November 04, 2004

Rome Wasn't Built In A Day. Neither Was A Simple Piece of Office Furniture.

Having a week off from work has its advantages. You get to stay up later, sleep in later, make appointments, get ahead on the week to come, and my favorite, sit around and do NOTHING. Then are the things that, if you are like me, you don't normally get to that you finally do like clean, winterize your closet (there are two very distinctive wardrobes at play) and blog. This week has been a smorgasboard of all of the above since my school is on fall break. Of course then there are the things that you didn't plan for, but that you somehow end up tackling anyway. This is the category I fell into today.

But let me start where most good stories should- at the beginning. My father is an accountant for a mattress company. The plant is going bye bye the beginning of next year, and along with it goes my dad's job. So he did what any last minute employee of a mattress company woud do; he bought new mattresses. For an employee of a mattress company, the things are normally a steal. Now add to the fact that they want the things to move- fast and they were even cheaper. In fact, this has always been a perk of my dad's jobs. When I was little, he was an accountant for Revlon and so all the women in our family got free or discounted makeup. Unfortunately, being under the age of 10, I lost out on that one. Then he went to DelMonte which was cool because I got all the free fruit juice a girl could ever want for her lunchbox.

Currently, my single self is still living under my parents roof and occupying a twin bed. But considering I'd like to move out sometime this century, we're all being optimistic and springing for the queen size bed now so that I have it when I need it... later.

But in the meantime, I have to fit this queen size bed into my current bedroom. In order to do this, some Trading Spaces-ish reorganization had to take place. You should know, my bedroom is a decent size. You should also know, however, that there is A LOT of stuff in my bedroom. I even have a couch that turns into a bed that all of my friends wanted to pay me money for growing up. It would have been out of my room ages ago, but they can't get it out. Mind you years ago, even before this room was my bedroom they somehow got it IN. Don't ask. Anyway, I'm the girl who hates clutter so this irks me to no end.

Also on the ever-growing list of "What's In Janet's Bedroom"?" is a computer desk. On the computer desk is a, you guessed it, computer! On the computer chair, however, is...another computer (bet you didn't see that one coming, did ya?) See the desktop computer, a Compaq, occupies the desk, but a laptop (the computer I really use) occupies the chair. I really only use the Compaq to print things out...well until, a few weeks ago that is. Now the Compaq "doesn't like to stay on". Whatever. I'm so over you Compaq.

But back to the desk. The desk is HUGE. So I got a smaller one months ago that was never put together and now it needs to be...with the bed coming and all. Still with me? Good.

So, the reason the desk has been sitting in its box for months is because my father was going to put it together. But Bob Vila he ain't. In fact, he's not even a guy who watches Bob Vila with a gee golly how did he do that kind've curiosity. As a result, dad dreads, curses and swears his way through assembling or setting up anything. The new computer desk was no exception although it finally got assembled and put into my room last night.

Great. Problem solved right? Well, not quite. See the desk comes with a hutch which is neat because it's good for storage, which I need. But sighing and sweating his way through assembling the desk, dad decides he wants to forego the hutch.

So today, I wake up and I decide I'm going to try to finish what dad started. I reorganize the wires, hook up my printer (go me!) and get most everything the way to to work as it should. Feeling pretty confident, I decide to go ahead and tackle the computer hutch. It's not THAT big.

I mean really. How hard can it be?

Attach this do-hicky to that do-hicky. Got it.
Screw the other thingamig into this thingamig. 10-4.

Everything was going swimmingly...until I started to move the thing around. I'm no expert, but I don't think shelves and such should pop out as you go to add something else. Yet, this is what kept happening. Over. And Over. And OVER.

I didn't get it. I had a hammer. I hammered in the morning and almost into the evening. I tightened until I couldn't tighten anymore. But gosh darnit the thing...would not...stay...together!!! So close, yet so far away.

So, finally, I did what any self-respecting daughter of a man who hates assembling things would do. I "took apart" what I had assembled, throwing pieces left and right, packed it all up again and said to myself, "Maybe I really don't need the hutch after all."

And once again, I learn something new about myself today. I might not know how to put things together, but I know how to pack it all up again like nobody's business.

A Late-Night Light At The End of the Proverbial Tunnel

Amidst all the chaos, I just read some good news about the other election...the vote over who should replace Craig Kilborn. Apparently the finalists are D.L. Hughley, Craig Ferguson, Damien Fahey and, drumroll please...MICHAEL IAN BLACK. Admittedly I haven't been dabbling in the late night arena nearly as much since my college days (working nonstop will do that to a girl) but I can still get excited. And of course, anyone who has been reading this blog for awhile knows who I'M rooting for (and even if you haven't I'm willing to bet the caps lock gave me away.)

As John Lennon once said, it's just like starting over.
Wednesday, November 03, 2004

10 More Good Reasons To Move To Canada

You know this election is a big deal or I wouldn't be coming out of my usually, indifferent and self-imposed political shell. Maybe it's because there was a lot at stake with this election. Or maybe it's just cause I'm getting older and's personal.

1. People voted for Bush. A lot of people voted for Bush. Seriously, I'm not gonna come out hating on y'all, but why? Please God, why? I finally understand what Nancy Kerrigan felt like, sitting outside the skating rink after Tonya gave her a good whack.

2. Some people got stickers, buttons and donuts. All I got was a nasty lady helping me use the machine (don't ask) and some flashbacks to CCD meetings in the Roman Catholic Church gone by.

3. The damn voting machines. I don't care what anyone says, we all should be using the same system-period. I mean it's not like we just found out there was an election coming last week. We prepare for lots of things in advance all the time. Weddings. Thanksgiving get-togethers. Hell, even the Olympics ran more smoothly, and that involved heavy metals and foreign language translators.

4. Everyone hates us. Or even worse, they pity us. The French aren't stupid. The British aren't stupid. We all thought America was made fun of before, just wait.

5. Americans are against Americans. Listen, I don't hate you just because you voted for Bush. I don't UNDERSTAND you, but I don't hate you. I'll still talk to you. In fact, I'll even sit next to you at lunch. But I'll tell you right now, not everyone is going to be this kind. There's gonna be a lot of division in the lunchroom of life, if you know what I'm saying.

6. Yet another excuse for network television drama. You know how CBS manages to draw out shows like Survivor? Well,that's the same school of thought that runs the reporting on the election at most of the major networks. A simple flip here or there will show you that although every network, promised to not call the thing too early, that numbers were all over the place. And it's no secret. When a Democratic representative was on, they said they remained confident. When a Republican representative was on, they said...they remained confident. The rest of the time, careful not to project anything, they sat around swapping what if's. "What if Kerry wins Pennsylvania but not Florida? What if Bush wins Florida, but not Pennsylvania? What if Joey had chosen Dawson over Pacey?" Nail biting stuff guys, really.

7. Counting is hard. I propose, for the next election, we recruit The Count from Sesame Street. He taught us all how to count the first time, but apparently it didn't catch on for some. This way we can all count together, thus ensuring the process was a fair and speedy one. I mean come on, it might take up to 10 days in Ohio? I'll personally ship over some math manipulatives for the purpose of managing the art of regrouping if you think it will help the cause.

8. There are people that voted...for Nader. I actually know one of those people. She said she woke up the morning of Election Day and still couldn't decide between Bush and Kerry... so she went with Nadar. To some people, decisions like that are like the difference between a short sleeved shirt and a button down blouse or coffee vs. tea. They are go with the flow people. Unfortunately, they also went.. and threw... their vote...away.

9. Electoral votes vs. popular votes Ok, so I admit it. I wasn't paying nearly as much attention as I should have been in Social Studies class, because I'm still trying to make sense of the electoral vs. popular vote. Obviously, the electoral vote is the one that matters, but as I understand it, the popular vote is the one that wins the candidate the electoral aren't they really one in the same? All I know is there are still folks who are bitter about Ruben winning over Clay, so I can just imagine what kind of text messages would have cropped up as a result of this.

10. Bush's annoying smirk. Worse than the embarrassing Bushisms. Worse than the lack of empathy. Even worse than the lack of know how is Bush's uncanny ability to smirk...about EVERYTHING. Irregardless of how you feel about the man, at times this is to the point of being inappropriate. He comes out and tells us about impending war, and he has a smile on his face. Maybe it's a nervous smile. I don't know. All I know is it's creepy and I think, evil. Nothing good can come of that smile, do you hear me? NOTHING GOOD. And yet, some people see the happy, harmless Texan smiling and say "aww shucks, let's give em 4 more years."

Dammit all to hell.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

Last week I held our very own class election since we had spent a little time learning about the process and talking about the candidates. The students were excited to get the chance to vote as well.

I have 19 third-graders.

The vote was 18 Kerry, 1 Bush.


Get out and vote!
Monday, November 01, 2004

Come And Knock On Our Door

Maybe it's just the neighborhood where I live, but every year there seems to be less and less trick or treaters. This year we had a whopping zero. Zilch. True, someone could have rung the bell while we were out, but I doubt it.

I mean it's not like we ever did have a lot of trick or treaters. This could be because I do live on a dead end street and as any good trick or treater will tell you, when time is of an essence, dead end streets are really a waste of time.

But the excuse doesn't fly this year considering Halloween fell on a Sunday, a dream day for the avid trick or treater. No homework to worry about. No corny parents concerned about you going out after dark. Hell, it was even a beautiful, sunny day here in NJ.

So why then?

Well, I have a few theories. I think as time goes on, society is catching on to what a truly weird holiday Halloween is. This was starting to be an issue when I was a kid, so I can only imagine it has grown over the years as my generation is starting to HAVE kids. It's all the scary "what if's" they haunted us with growing up:

1. Don't accept any open candy or candy that seems like that it could have been opened at any time. Ever.

2. Don't eat anything like apples or anything like that because they could have razor blades in them.

3. Use the amusement park rule and always stick with your buddy. Always.

As a result of these rules, and a few others, limitations were put in place in order to assure the kids could still treat with far less tricks:

1. Some families just leave the bowl of candy out on their front steps. As a kid, I loved these houses cause you could sneak more than one piece of candy and forego the awkward, "oh aren't you the cutest this or that" conversation. But now I look back and think about how half assed that really is. It's like your kinda, sorta participating in the holiday, but not really.

2. Other families decided to do away with the candy concerns all together and just give out other stuff. Like McDonalds coupons. Or my mom's personal fave, money. These ideas might sound great in theory, but to a kid, they simply aren't tangible enough. You can't go home and rip open a McDonald's Coupon and at age five you don't care how many quarters you earned. You'd much rather have that damn Baby Ruth to keep you warm at night.

3. Parents started tagging along. Part of the fun of Halloween was getting the chance to wander the streets aimlessly with your friends. On no other day of the year was this appropriate. But, then parents started catching on and even this day was off limits. And so now you see 12 year old kids with moms or dads in tow which equals, so not cool in preteen speak.

Instead of getting rid of Halloween as we know it completely, I am seeing a turn towards making Halloween a more adult holiday. So many adults love having Halloween parties: getting dressed up, getting trashed and hooking up with Sponge Bob Square Pants. Sure, the kids might get the candy, but the adults want the escape. I guess you could say Halloween is evolving. It's either that, or I'm starting to get old and jealous and just want my holiday back.



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