Old Lady Shoes

Yeah, you’ve seen them: old ladies wearing Old-Lady Shoes.

Dowdy footwear that inextricably time-travelled from some economically-depressed post-war period.

Or low-heeled, lace-up shoes resembling dull leather sneakers, that shuffled in from the land that fashion forgot.

Practical shoes. Hopefully, comfortable shoes, given the tired way those old ladies are getting around. But damn, I mean dayam, if not quite ugly shoes, then definitely shoes without style.

And, as you may have guessed, suddenly, here I am, too. 

Last fall I broke my foot. The displacement fractures in the metatarsals (the long bones over the arch) mended, albeit crookedly, with offset mends that make them look like rivers with meanders. (Don’t fall over in shock when I say that my hypermobility includes rather low arches, too.)

This past spring my foot started hurting again, as my second job stocking groceries involved walking around concrete floors and stocking heavy cases — not good for the osteoarthritis or the broken bones. So I got orthotics to provide more support for my poor ravaged feet.

But now my foot is constantly aching, and I’m limping, and am getting what I’m assuming are referred pains in my knee and hip. And when I saw the orthopedist earlier last week for chronic foot pain, he disapproved of my buckled Mary Janes I’d worn to my first job, and told me I need to wear shoes that lace up.

I’m not much of a fashionista, but I can’t picture wearing either hiking boots or my rumpled black sneakers with skirts, suits or dresses. So that means I need to get a new pair of shoes. Or maybe a pair of knee-high boots.) But, I can’t wear polyurethane (PU), PVC or silicone, which limits me to fabric or leather footwear, which is of course, more expensive.

Great! I need to find:

  • slightly-dressy,
  • low-heeled (no more than 1.25″ / 5 cm),
  • lace-up,
  • leather shoes,
  • with removable insoles (so I can replace them with my orthotics),
  • in a size US womens 10.5  (UK 8, EUR 42),
  • wide toe ( C ),
  • preferably brown.

If you’re laughing and/or groaning, you probably have some idea of the magnitude of that request. I mean, that is pretty specific! Not being fond of shopping, I did some quick noodling around online, and discovered that the lower-end department stores don’t carry leather shoes (boo!), and that many of the online sites don’t mention whether or not the insoles can be removed. (I’e also become quite the connoisseur of Web sites with numerous lists of ways to filter search requests.)

I also noticed a general lack of lace-up shoes, aside from “granny boots” with 2.5″ heels. So I looked up the current addresses to the store with a huge, self-serve selection of shoes, and stopped by there en route home one day.

They had nifty boots full of brass buttons, sharp-looking tweedy spectator pumps [court shoes], loafers and flats with all kinds of fun hardware … but an absolute dearth of lace-up shoes. (Since I have wide feet anyway, I checked out the men’s section, but was dismayed to find walking shoes with heavy lug soles, or stiff wingtips so stylishly long that it seemed my feet would look like aircraft carriers, down to the brogues resembling rows of rivets.)

I finally asked a sales clerk for assistance, just in case I’d missed something. She was understanding of my requirements, even letting me slip out some insoles to test my orthotics on a couple of pairs — only to find that the toe boxes were too low-profiled. She too, was surprised to realise that there were so few lace-up shoes. What few they had were made with the insoles sewn down, or were fashioned of (sweat-inducing) imitation leather. And, apparently this year’s crop of sneakers [trainers] comes in neon colors. Naturally, chef’s or medic’s clogs won’t work either.

Le sigh. And this is why I hate shopping for wardrobe items (in addition to the noisy lighting fixtures that drill into my head.); it seems that no matter what I’m looking for, it’s not to be had. The year I wanted khaki shorts, I couldn’t find khaki shorts — yes, khaki shorts! Ditto denim overalls. Or a long-sleeve white blouse with sleeves to fit my arms, and tails long enough to stay tucked in. Or, good grief, cufflinks to go with a French-cuff blouse I found at the thrift store.

And so it goes.

I already have a pair of black sneakers that I wear (with black trousers) at my grocery job. Sorry, but unless I’m evacuating in an emergency, I can’t imagine wearing either hiking boots or my rumpled black sneakers with skirts, suits or nice dresses.

All I need to find is a pair of slightly-dressy, low-heeled, lace-up leather shoes, with removable insoles, in a size 10.5 wide, preferably brown. No, I’m not being picky, I’m being particular.

The “slightly-dressy” and “preferably brown” are what I want, but the rest are what I need. (And unlike a coworker who has diabetes, neither my orthotics nor my footwear are covered as a necessary medical expense. Those orthotic insoles I had to get cost me half of what I pay for my monthly mortgage!)

Even worse, a lot of those “comfort” shoes don’t lace up or come in 10.5 wide.

Or, I can find lace-up “granny” ankle boots or knee-high boots, but the heels are too high, or they are made of some sweat-inducing synthetic.

Or, I can find oxfords with the right heel height and made of leather, but not in a 10.5 wide.

Or, I can find cute, low-heeled, leather lace-up shoes, but either the insoles are sewn in so I can’t use my orthotics, or else they’re so cheaply made there isn’t any arch support.

And so on, and so on.

So now I have joined the ranks of older women looking for supportive, sensible shoes that don’t look too dowdy. Don’t laugh at us gimping along in our leather sneakers; those specialty shoes are DAMN hard to find!

Weather’s here, wish you were fine

Summer sucks.  I hate the heat, the humidity, the sizzling sun boring into my head, unpeeling my limbs from each other, the restless nights spent searching futilely for a cool spot on the sheets and being sleepless for the lack of the comforting weight of blankets, the lack of appetite, the omnipresent glare, the complete lack of energy … it’s depressing, and won’t get better until fall weather arrives in late September.  I don’t even have the respite of an alpine vacation to look forward to.

Raynaud’s is weird; my toes and thumbs can still go numb, even when I’m hot.  WTF?!

Plus, now I have a head cold, the whole sniffly-scratchy throat-more aches-feel crappy routine.

“How can you have a cold?” asked my coworker yesterday, “It’s summer!”

“Back in the 20th century, they discovered that cold are caused by viruses, not by cold weather,” I sniffed.  (OMG, now I’m officially Old, I’m saying, “back in the 20th century”.)

“I’m just kidding,” he grinned.

Oh, right.  I realised that about the time he said it.  Nothing new there, either.  (File under: Aspergers, misses jokes.)

My sunglasses broke.  Things around the house keep breaking (kitchen drawer track, drawer pull, cabinet front, bathroom ceiling paint, tub’s chipped, towel rack needs to be masticked back on, kitchen needs painting, bedroom needs painting, kitchen flooring’s gouged, back patio’s settling, double pane-windows are fogged up, ad nauseam).  And the thermostat is broken and won’t set the air conditioning below 83°F.

The cats keep fighting.  My son can’t find a job.  And my daughter is nine months pregnant and belly-aching, as is every pregnant woman’s right.  But the house is hot and none of us are sleeping well.


But, a good distraction is the latest Circus of the Spineless, over at Bug Girl’s blog!

A Luxury

Being bored is a luxury I do not have.

Not the boredom that is the enforced tedium from being exhausted by illness, or from waiting and waiting for indeterminate periods of time without diversions. But rather, the boredom that comes from choosing to be disinterested at work.

Sure, some jobs are seriously duller than others, such as data entry or assembly.  But retail is considerably more interesting than such rote perfectionism.

And yet, the other week one of my coworkers was complaining that he found the work at the garden center to be so BORING.  It wasn’t related to his chosen degree program or career.

Certainly, I don’t expect everyone else to be as entertained as I am by “facing” the plant stock, meaning filling more pots into the gaps shoppers have left in the flats.  I really like lining up four-packs or pots, or bringing forwards pots from the back of the benches up to the front so they are more accessible to the buyers.  The quick detail makes everything neat and tidy and complete.  Even shuffling pots from a nearly-empty flat (tray) to fill another is satisfying, because then we have that flat available for a shopper to use as they are selecting their plants.  (Not only does handing out flats free up people’s over-burdened hands, but there’s also a bit of sales psychology, where buyers are more likely to buy a few extra pots to complete the flat.)

And to be sure, there are a number of people who find “grooming” the plants (removing old flowers and dying leaves) to be just too utterly nit-picky and grubby a past-time.  But I enjoy this because I know that removing the dead material will help ensure that the plants keep blooming, will lesson the chance of disease and insect problems, and simply makes everything look better.  (A lot of novice gardeners will mistake the natural “senescence” or shedding of yellowing old leaves as a symptom of disease.)

And of course, most of the garden center cashiers are not horticulturalists; they are cashiers with some basic training in how to water and what the difference is between annuals and perennials.  But that’s what I’m there for, to provide the expertise in answering questions, and helping customers select plants for different sites.

So despite the varying levels of intrinsic reward in some of the activities, and the vast differences in personal expertise, all of the cashiers can still gain the same kinds of satisfaction in their work.  There’s still the basic premise of serving others, even if we’re just loading bags of mulch into someone’s car.

Because that’s what we’re there for.

So when my coworker complains of being bored, and spends most of his time hidden behind the cash register (checking something on his mobile phone) or wandering around aimlessly listening to his music or chatting with a girlfriend, well, I am mystified.  And a bit annoyed.

Because like, dude, “fun” is something you make, not something that happens to you.

If you’re bored, then get involved.  Help me come up with better ways of displaying the new stock that is more aesthetically appealling and more accessible, like the other evening cashier does.  Go out and actively assist the customers, like the other cashiers do.

If the custom is slow during that lull before people get off work, then make a point to do some of the things that are on the To Do list.  That’s why I’m not bored — I not only do when I have been asked to do as an employee, but I also look for other things to do.

If I’m knee-deep in cleaning the spent blossoms from the hanging baskets and watering the stock, then don’t hide out behind the register.  I shouldn’t have to mention, “Hey, that lady over there has her hands full — go get her a shopping cart.” [buggy, trolley]

It’s awkward when your coworker is slacking off, but you’re not a supervisor.  I’ve tried stating, “X, Y and Z need doing,” but that cue was apparently too subtle.  I’ve tried offering, “I’ll do W and X if you don’t mind doing Y and Z,” but that produced nothing more than a half-hearted attempt at Y and Z disappeared somewhere along the way.

There’s no reason to be bored at a job like this.  There are too many different things to do, whether it’s tending the plant stock or chit-chatting with the customers while you ring up their purchases.

And you know what?  Working in a half-assed way and complaining of being “bored” does not help ensure employability, especially in these economic times.

I’m not working two jobs just for the fun of it; I work because I need the income.  But despite that, despite that some days I’m cold and wet and stiff and sore due to the exertion and the weather and my health issues, despite that, I still find ways of enjoying my work.

I can’t afford to be bored.

Oh, sheet!

Doggone, I’ve done it again.  I even washed my bed linens earlier in the day so they would be promptly dried, but it is 1 a.m. and I realise that I have neglected to make my bed.

Well, one benefit to having to climb all over my queen-size bed (it’s up against a wall, so I can’t walk around it) is getting myself a bit worn out.

A sign of spring:  I can finally remove the heavy wool blanket from the layers!  Oh  bother — I really felt better with the weight on me.  Having nothing but a top sheet and quilt is unsettling until I get used to it again.

Enough already!

Cold grey day with snow covering tree branches and ground

Cold grey day with snow covering tree branches and ground

Don’t scream.

It’s only Thursday.  Screaming isn’t allowed until Friday afternoon after all the students have left.  (Please don’t scare the custodians, without whom we would all be in dire straits.)

We passed our “Code Red” practice drill with flying colors this week.  A “Code Red” is an “OMG there’s a terrorist” lockdown, the 21st-century version of the old “duck and cover” drills we did decades ago during the Cold War.  I suppose it’s actually more useful — locking the doors and being quiet is definitely better than pretending that a rickety school desk will protect one from nuclear radiation.

On the other hand, in the past three weeks we’ve had as many pre-teen perverts scurrilous knaves who thought they could get away with trying to Google up p*rn from the school computers.  As if we’re not going to catch them?!  Well, that’s three students who won’t be using computers except for absolutely required functions, with a staff member at their elbow the whole time.  A “required function” would be something like a math-practice program or standardized test that is required by the school district.

Right now we’re administering a reading assessment, and already we’re tired of reciting the standardized instructions, for all I do a decent imitation of a Star Trek computer.

If you want more stories of academia, the latest Carnival of Education is going on over at The Core Knowledge blog.  I guarantee “they’re a scream” (hilarious).  Or, enlightening.  Probably both.

Otherwise, here’s a great sign that will be appreciated by anyone who has either sat one of those long standardized tests, or proctored one:

Sign taped to table, in poorly-translated English:  Check every think before go into the grading room.  Avoid to get screaming

Sign taped to table, in poorly-translated English: "Check every think before go into the grading room. Avoid to get screaming"

Accessibility Fail (and Win)

We have a shiny new building on our campus.  It’s gorgeous, with several conference rooms named for money donors, and a huge glassed-in meeting room.  (Other faculty have pointed out that alas, said building isn’t a “LEED-building” meaning that the design lacks certain green/energy-efficient factors.)

What I find annoying about the new building are its access issues.  Oh sure, there are the nominal “handicap” bathroom stalls, and brailled room-number plates.  But the doors to the regular bathroom stalls swing inward, making one do-si-do around the toilet, and the seating areas in the floor lobbies don’t have any electrical outlets nearby for people to plug in their laptops.

Yet these are minor kvetches; what drives me nuts are Read the rest of this entry »

Let me spell this out for you,

I’ve been absent from bloggery due to the work load as we near the end of the semester; this past weekend I graded five exams and a bunch of extra-credit assignments.  So far I have two students who have BLATANTLY just copied-pasted stuff from Web sites. This despite my having told them in the assignment handout,

All of the text should be in your own words, a synthesis of the information you have gathered, put into complete sentences.

The Student Code of Conduct explains the kind of misrepresentation that qualifies as plagiarism:  [URL link]

What, like they think I can’t tell this isn’t student writing, or won’t bother to type in a URL they listed in their bibliography?  One student just “re-gifted” an assignment obviously written for another class, which is just tacky as well — it’s one thing to recycle some information you’ve already researched and edit it to fit the requirements of a new report, but this stuff wasn’t even changed to fit what I’d asked for.

So I discussed the issue with the dept dean, and was given the suggestion of explaining the problem with the student, and offering them the opportunity to re-do the assignment correctly, or else take a 10% reduction on the Final Exam grade.  I like this option, because there are still significant consequences, but the student gets to decide what they’re doing.

One student left class before I could talk to him.  The other one I talked to, and his point of view was that:

(1) He didn’t see why using the same assignment for two classes was a problem. (“It needs to match the requirements of what I asked for.  Go back and re-read the assignment page.”)

(2) He didn’t see why copy-pasting information was a problem (“The course syllabus AND the assignment page both describe what plagiarizing is, and the assignment page specifically says it needs to be In Your Own Words.  When you quote something, it has to be offset, or in quote marks or otherwise marked.”)

I had to reiterate that I had talked with the Dean who had seen his paper, and agreed to this plan.

And golly gee if he didn’t go and do what I suspected he would!  He outright said that he’d submitted this same paper to his other prof, and that prof had no problems with the paper. (Somehow in his mind, this was supposed to be a strong argument; because you know, if you get by with cheating once, then it shouldn’t be a problem if you do it again.)  I explained that was between the other prof and him.  I knew this was plagiarism, and I wasn’t going to accept the paper.


Things that mystify me

Not big, cosmic questions. Little stupid piddly-ass stuff. Like:

People who wedge open the flaps to trash cans by sticking their drink cups partway in. Why not simply push the flap just a bit further in and drop your rubbish into the can? Why leave it wedged open?  This makes the OCD-ish part of my brain hurt.

When someone asks, “Why is it always in the last place you look?”
“Because,” I finally replied to my clueless coworker, “once you find it, you quit looking!”
“Oh! I never thought of that.”
(I regret that I am not making this up.)

This was a rant from last week, by one of the secondary teachers: Read the rest of this entry »

Excuses, excuses


If such righteous indignation will damage your precious shell-like ears,
then ye’d best hie off somewhere else.

“Who they hell are you to complain?”

“Everyone else is thrilled to have such crap circumstances.”

“But that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

“We’re treating everyone ‘fairly’ by giving everyone the same crappy environment.”

“Everyone else just sucks up and copes with the crappy environment, or doesn’t use it. You’re just being whiny and asking for special favors if you don’t, too.”

“If you try to modify your crappy environment to make it more usable, then everyone else will want to do that, too, and we can’t have that kind of thing going on.”

Okay, in real life the stupid excuses we get are not phrased so blatantly.  There’s usually some kind of artificially-flavoured-and-colored fluffy nonsense-phrasing hiding the real meaning.  That, or the excuses aren’t even given directly, but phrased indirectly with dismissive facial expressions, gestures, trite homilies, or vague references to (sometimes nonexistent) business regulations.

Amazing, isn’t it?

Or, perhaps not.  Not amazing, because Read the rest of this entry »


Holy Shit.

(And no, I’m not going to apologise for taking Shit’s name in vain…)

Normally I love technology.  When human beings mystify me in their endless capacity to engage in rudeness and biases and cognitive fallacies, I know that I can trust machinery to perform sensibly.  Sure, things break down, and sometimes they frustrate us because our mental models are incomplete, or the design is too poor to provide the right information for us to build accurate models. But once you understand how a system works, you can rely upon it to be predictable.

But sometimes the hardware is crappy, and sometimes the software is crappy, and sometimes it’s the “wet-ware” (me) that’s introducing errors, and when things get bad, it’s all of those.  And then I spend literally hours trying to get the simplest of tasks done.  Even ordinary things, like … getting messages.


I have voice-mail messages to listen to during my brief lunch not-hour.  I’m sitting in a desk by the window, hoping that the signal doesn’t break up due to Invisible Wireless Velociraptors or whatever the hell makes the signal erratic from one minute to the next.

The first time around I miss half the message because I’m having trouble punching the mobile button and then getting it back to my ear quick enough to catch the beginning of the message.

The second time I dial back into my voice-mail, all I can understand is that there’s an Important Message from someone.

The third time around all I can understand is that someone whose name sounds like “Spencer Wallace” is calling me, and then two people in the room begin chatting and Mr Wallace’s message gets blenderized with their words.

I clap the phone shut in annoyance and go outside to redial my voice-mail a fourth time, and finally hear enough to realise that this is (A) a recorded message and (B) punching “1” will connect me to a live body … hopefully.

(Granted I have a lot of trouble understanding voice-mail messages because of my auditory processing problems, but you would think that a major mobile phone company could at least make sure their automated recordings were clearer.)

Yes, it’s a live body!  She informs me that No, it’s not Spencer Wallace, but Sprint Wireless. Damn, Live Body is mumbly or has an accent or is required to stick to scripts that aren’t helpful for me right now.  Rather than spend the rest of my break time trying to muddle out the situation, I thank her and return inside to bolt down the rest of my lunch before it gets disgustingly congealed. (The sad part is that microwaved fries/chips with leftover chile and cheese is the best lunch I’ve had all week.)

In addition to needing clearer messages, getting phone service inside of the school buildings where I work would also be a good thing — on one campus, I have to leave the building and walk across the open-air plaza and try facing cardinal directions in hopes of securing a signal.  Sometimes I have to pull up the antenna, hold the phone up to the sky, and stroll halfway to the next building to get signal.  Mind you, I am at a college in a heavily-populated area, not the intersection of Cornfield and Bob’s Road in the hinterlands.  [Name that movie reference!]


Another voice mail was from the department secretary.  Plus, apparently I missed some e-mails from her as well.  Oh heavens, that’s right — I have a staff e-mail account in addition to the other e-mail account I use at the college. I had totally forgotten about getting the password set up a couple of weeks ago, because I was starting two jobs at the same time and both jobs required lots of paperwork and setting up user ID’s and passwords for various and sundry programs.

Yes, I have two e-mail accounts provided by the college.  Not just two e-mail addresses, but two separate systems that run on two different programs.  The secretary kindly reminds me of the URL to access my other account program.

Unfortunately, that is just the sign-in page for the second account.  It runs on Microsoft Outlook, and there are no helpful user links to click for “I forgot my password”.  (Insert Mac user’s rant about Microsoftware.)  An hour later, I have finally noodled through enough of the college’s Web site to have found where to set/re-set my password (and received no less than five unwanted pdf’s that automatically downloaded after clicking on an internal search-engine result).  Finally I can go back to that sign-in page.

Polysyllabic Expletive!

I have 21,059 e-mails.

I shit thee not; apparently the account was set up for me back in September of 2003. I had no idea it was there. I assumed that my other account was “the” account, because that was the address that all of the links and documents contained.

Obviously any e-mails before this year can be deleted.  There are so many because 99.9% of them seem to be list-serve messages sent to everyone at the college.

But Techies, GET A CLUE: it would be a good idea to set up a small routine to flag when you have users who have more than a couple hundred unread e-mails AND who have never sent any e-mails, so you can send them an alert by some means other than their e-mail account.

Crap, do I have some housekeeping to do. I have to read through the past month’s e-mails to make sure I’m not missing anything critical.  Anything else that’s critical, because I already missed something.

Then I have to figure out how to set one of the college’s e-mail systems to automatically forward to the other system.

Of course, that’s in addition to other little things this weekend, like teaching my Saturday class, writing the next three exams, figuring out how to use the grade-keeping program, grading the last two exams, and entering the two-week-point attendance (which information the secretary needs to drop anyone who hasn’t shown up).


Now that I’m at home, I also have to listen to the household voice-mails on the land line.

Oh, and I ALSO need to slog through setting up my voice-mail account with the college as well!

  • Voice-mails on my mobile.
  • Voice mails at the house.
  • Voice mails at the college.
  • E-mails at home.
  • E-mails at the school.
  • E-mails at the college.
  • The other e-mails at the college.
  • The e-mails within class-access program for the two classes I teach (Blackboard, which has its own special set of glitches).

My inner child is now whining, “Do I gotta?”

I could just cry. Were I the prayin’ sort, I would be praying.  But I’m not. Were I the drinkin’ sort, I would be drinking.  But I’m not.  I’m the rocking sort. So I am going to sit here and rock, because that’s what I do when I’m stressed.  At this rate, I’m going to be walking around in circles and flapping too, before the night’s out.

Twenty-one thousand and fifty-nine.  Ye gods and little fishes!

Maths * Chem = Ranting^2

Why are so many math books poorly written? Even many of the physical sciences books seem to have this terrible dichotomy between the text explaining the concepts, and the text explaining the calculations. I suspect it’s partly because one person is writing the conceptual text, and another person is writing the calculations text. I also suspect it is because both are written by people who are naturally good at the subject, just like most maths, chem, and physics teachers are naturally good at the subject.

Well, you do want people teaching who are good at the subject. But as many of us have noticed, being naturally good at something frequently results in people who cannot understand why others aren’t equally good at it. Once in a while those adepts become snobbish, because obviously the rest of the world just isn’t smart enough to get the stuff like they are. Many of the others simply have little patience with students who “must be stupid because they can’t figure out easy things” and can’t understand the material from having the previous explanation repeated again.

Duh! If it didn’t make sense the first time around, why would repeating the same explanation make any more sense the second or third time around? What we really need is Read the rest of this entry »

New season, eternal science illiteracy

Well, it’s spring for sure because the frogs and toads have been singing, the daffodils and dandelions and forsythia are blooming, and it’s impossible to keep my nails clean. Earlier today I was able to get this shot of the chief noisemaker from the backyard pondette; it’s the American Toad (cleverly named Bufo americanus, which means American Toad).

Seeing him trilling reminded me of an incident just a few years ago when I was at a gardening function. A group of us were touring some gardens, one of which had a little pond. All of a sudden, one of the Teetery Old Garden Club Ladies* let out an agitated squeal and began dithering around in circles, begging others for assistance.

She was pointing to Read the rest of this entry »

Buzz Off!

No, “buzz off” does not mean that I am being grumpy and telling everyone to Go Away. There are apparently a lot of other people out there who are grumpy about Mosquitos, but not the insect kind. The story (like most) gets complex very fast.

So. There are some young people who hang out in front of shops or public areas and are annoying, even to the point of committing misdemeanors. This is hardly a new problem of urban settings; doubtless ancient Greek and Roman shopkeepers complained about much the same thing. In addition to the primary problems of what the yobbos / chavs / hooligans (pick your fave term) may engage in, there’s the secondary problem of their presence intimidating customers and driving away trade.

Of course, not all young people act like this. In fact, very, very few do. And young people, like people of other age groups, like to get together with their pals and socialise. Of course, when you’re young you don’t have your own place, and not everyone wants to hang around the living room where dad’s watching Top Gear or yet another history programme about some war or another. So kids hang around in parks, on sidewalks, in malls, and other public areas. And then people complain because shockingly, there are kids hanging around. Well, duh; few can afford to spend lots of cash at movie theatres or pool halls or video game parlors, and if you’re not spending, they don’t want you there.

Back in 2005, Howard Stapleton realised that he could use teens’ better hearing against them. In theory, young people can hear up to 20 kHz (20,000 Hertz), but as people age they lose this ability due to presbycusis. Although most older adults can pass a basic hearing exam with flying colors, such exams only test up to 8,000 Hz, because audiologists are concerned with how well people perceive common speech and environmental sounds. (This concept also assumes that those targeted have not had any hearing loss due to listening to loud music in vehicles, headphones, and / or concerts.) Thus, the Mosquito device was born.

According to a distributor’s description, these speakers broadcast a 17.5-18.5 kHz tone at 75 decibels. Although not damaging, the whine becomes very annoying after a couple of minutes, and those who can hear it usually leave after a few minutes, although the unit runs for 20 minutes before shutting off. It can be heard 15 meters / 50 feet away, with stronger models audible as far as 90 meters / 300 feet away.

The Mosquito device proved popular with a number of shopkeepers and other business owners; some 3500 units have been installed around the UK, to prevent young people from congregating outside of stores, rail stations, car parks, industrial areas, city parks, and even school grounds (used after hours). Now it’s being sold in the U.S. and Canada as well.

Naturally, there were protests about the use of the devices. The prototype was banned in its place of inception, Newport, South Wales. Although legal elsewhere, other groups have taken up complaint, and not just young people:

Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, Children in Scotland, and the Scottish Youth Parliament fully support the campaign launched today in England against the use of the Mosquito device.

So too is Liberty, the National Youth Agency, the Children’s Commissioner for England, which is spearheading the Buzz Off campaign.

Frankly, I find the whole idea of using sonic deterrents as weapons (attack devices) against young people to be abhorrent. These things target and punish all young people present for the actions of a few. You get what you give, so how is being deliberately obnoxious supposed to encourage better social behavior in others? We don’t like it when people go around playing their music too loud, so why is it okay to broadcast high-pitched whines that are meant to get on people’s nerves?

Furthermore, the manufacturers and users assume that only young people can hear these sounds, and that simply isn’t true. I’m 47 and I can hear such frequencies (despite the tinnitus), and a 75 kHz noise is also pretty damn loud, even if it’s not technically at the damaging threshold. If I came across a shop that was using this sonic attack, the shopkeeper would certainly get an earful from me! There’s too much noise as it is, without adding gratuitous noise.

It’s not that I don’t sympathise with business owners and other citizens who are dealing with the effects of antisocial or criminal behavior. But this kind of antisocial retaliation hurts everyone, and is blatant discrimination.

Driven to a frazzle

General kvetching here, mostly related to the large number of idiots who feel the need to–   
I’ll get to that in a minute.  You ever feel so annoyed and stressed that your brain functioning gets crispy around the edges?  I hate driving around strange cities, especially when I’m looking for parking places. It’s hard navigating unfamiliar streets and trying to read the signs and watch for passengers and watch for traffic and figure out how to get somewhere despite the one-way streets and angled streets and dead-end streets that confound my passage. I was stymied by streets that were closed for construction, and I found no less than four of them in this small area that was both experiencing both road repairs and the rehabbing of several old buildings.  So many unfamiliar things to be aware of — it was like being a student driver all over again.  
By the time I rejoined my kids at the hotel lobby, my head hurt, my eyes had that “screwed in too tight” feeling (like when you first put on a stronger pair of glasses), I was randomly mispronouncing words, and was taking wrong turns down hallways.  Sitting around a hotel lobby and crayoning butterflies in my new coloring book was just what I needed to decompress.
It was the eldest’s birthday.  We went to a museum, had lunch and went to some specialty shops, hung out at the hotel lobby to rest a bit, then went out to eat at a nice restaurant.  All these places were within the same square mile.  I figured I would drive down to the city, find a parking spot, enjoy the day, and then drive home.
I couldn’t find my sunglasses before leaving the house, and it was really bright.  Then I couldn’t find a place to park.  The parking in front of the museum is the short-term variety with coin meters, so I look for street parking, find myself in all the wrong lanes, finally give up on that, drop passengers off at the museum, and then go in pursuit of the multi-storey car park nearby.
Next thing I know people are calling me because I needed to already be there at the museum for the ticket time.  I’d spent literally half an hour trying to get around a block to the correct turn-off into that multi-storey car park, and then cruising circuitiously within the structure looking for an empty spot that wasn’t either reserved for post office workers, or rendered functionless by sloppy parking.
Because Yes, an alarmingly large percentage of the people parked in that car park feel they need Sport-Utility Vehicles.  Not to navigate muddy, rocky pastures, nor to carry equipment through washed-out country roads, nor make deliveries up the rutted gravel side roads of mountain foothills, but to cruise around the rugged terrain of paved city streets to offices, schools and shops.  Older, crowded, downtown metropolitan streets, where the lanes are squeezed by parallel parking.    
The old urban streets are narrow, and the parking spaces in such areas are also necessarily narrow.  But an alarmingly large number of people drive SUVs that don’t really fit the given parking spaces.  A surprising number of them end up in that multi-storey car park, with a pair of wheels over the line into the next parking spot.  Some of the drivers are either so paranoid about their paint, so uncertain in their driving skills, so inconsiderate, or feel so entitled that they simply straddle the dividing line (centered over it) and use two whole parking spaces for their single oversized vehicle. 
Polysyllabic expletive!  There I am, part of a line of vehicles circling the structure, looking for available spots.  We drive along one side and then the other, slowly cruising up level after level in our pursuit of parking.  My Beetle is dwarfed by these overbuilt, gasoline-gulping, fat-arsed vehicles with their passenger windows that looked down upon my sunroof.  I finally park and rejoin the family.  
Then after the museum tour,  I am in the queue of vehicles waiting to go through the ticket gate to exit the pricey car park.  To my passenger side is an empty spot, and I pause to let an oncoming vehicle turn in.  The driver of the SUV turns to go across my lane into the parking spot — and then they realise that they are not going to make it at that angle and stop.  
They back up, and re-angle again to fit into the parking space.
Then they back up a second time, and re-angle a third time to fit into the parking space.
And even after that, they are still not parked between the divider lines.
Once finally positioned, agitated squawking ensues from inside the vehicle as the passengers do not have enough room to open the door and get out!  Meanwhile, the line of cars ahead of me had advanced, so I do too — obviously this driver needs space to manoeuver.  (I assume that everyone either crawled over to the driver’s side to exit, or they gave up and re-parked it elsewhere.)  
Back when I learned to drive, we probably would have called such a manoeuver a “4-point turn”, meaning having to stop and change the direction four times.  Then again, we didn’t even make such manoeuvers; we only did 3-point turns in lieu of U-turns when on narrow roads.   

a huge green SUV parked with wheels over the parking divider line
Slowly waiting for my turn at the ticket gate, I passed yet another such monster.  (The queue was really slow, hence time to take snaps.)  This SUV driver had backed the vehicle into the parking spot, which is no small trick.  Even so, they still were not centered between the lines.  (Maybe the vehicle that had been on their passenger side had also strayed over the divider line.)
Apparently the owner of the black car to the right of the SUV had come by and parked later, because it was centered within its parking lane divider lines.  I’m assuming that the black car’s driver was able to open their door enough to slide out, but it must have been a tight squeeze.  
 a huge red SUV with wheels over the parking divider line 
It took me a freaking HOUR to move my car from a pay-per-hour multi-storey car park by the museum to a free car park at the nearby restaurant where we would be dining.  I knew where I needed to be — I could see the restaurant.  I knew where I was (I wasn’t lost) — I just could not get from where I was to where I wanted to be!  I probably travelled four or five miles, but when all was said and done, had effected a vector change of a whopping quarter-mile northward. 
So why was I driving around this large metropolitan area in pursuit of parking?  It’s not that I prefer driving — I would rather be riding a subway or light-rail.  It’s  because the public transit system in Big City sucks.  No one can get the funds to develop a more viable mass-transit because too many people prefer their cars.  
(These digital photos were not manipulated other than to correct for lighting and to white out the license plates for the owner’s privacy.  But it doesn’t really matter where the photos were taken — those damn SUVs are EVERY-freaking-WHERE.) 

D is for Diss

“Diss” is a slang term, a verb meaning to show disrespect to someone.

One day I was waiting (interminably) in an uncomfortably hard reception room chair at the doctor’s office, flipping through the previous day’s newspaper and reading sad news reports of hate crimes directed at people with disabilities. Of course, the news didn’t call them “Hate Crimes”; they were simply short fillers in the corner of the page where local crimes were reported, just ordinary, everyday, unremarkable crimes that happen in a big metropolitan area.

It occurred to me that an awful lot of dreadful words come from the D section of the dictionary. Like the news omitting the term “hate crime”, we don’t even see these words used very often either, because the attitudes that create the malfeasance are not examined.

Even thought it’s about The Letter D, this is not a happy little alphabet book for children, not even Children with Disabilities.

  • Damn or Demonise someone as being “possessed”
  • Decline to discuss why something is a problem
  • Decry and condemn advocacy efforts as “mere whining” or asking for “special treatment” or “extra favors”
  • Deepen the Difficulty level beyond merely being “challenging”
  • Defame and insult advocates who work for social justice
  • Defer actions until “resources are better” but never do anything
  • Deflate ambitions of young people, recently-disabled people, and anyone trying to change jobs or retrain for new careers
  • Demote or transfer employees to Dead-end jobs
  • Denigrate parents who seek accommodations or services from schools
  • Deny or quit service previously given because the recipient has been re-identified as one of the undeserving out-group
  • Deny what really happened in workplace discrimination
  • De-personalise those on life-support as mere “vegetables”
  • Deprecate equal-access laws as undo hardship on businesses
  • Depreciate the value of slower workers’ earnings (well below minimum hourly wages) because they are paid for piece-work
  • Derail important conversations to unimportant side matters
  • Destroy or vandalize homes or vans-cars-motorcycles-bikes simply because one is seen as outcast or unable to fight back
  • Devalue creative works because they are not “normal”
  • Diminish and belittle one’s dreams
  • Discard residents’ possessions because they “will never need or miss them”
  • Discharge from the hospital and then Drop off and abandon still critically-ill people at homeless shelters, despite the fact that they are even less-able to defend or care for themselves
  • Discredit a person’s knowledge, training or skills
  • Dishonor veterans by failing to provide adequate medical, counselling, residential, educational or occupational services
  • Dismiss someone’s concerns as trivial because “nobody else has a problem with that”
  • Disown children or other relatives because they are deemed unworthy of being proper family members
  • Disparage and dismiss one’s rank or position
  • Displace existing residents because “more important” people need the space
  • Dispose of someone’s collection of favorite objects or hobby materials because it is “not valuable” to others
  • Disregard protests of innocence, because obviously someone is bullied or abused because they “asked for it”
  • Disrespect spouses or partners
  • Divest any involvement and wash hands of the problem

So-Not-Helpful Fixers and their Malcommendations

Bless them, there are a lot of people out there who want to help. Or rather, there are a lot of people out there who are helpful, and some who want to Give Help.

The latter sort want to give “those people” or “the ones with your kind of special needs” the benefit of their expertise. They’re “fixers” of the less-useful ilk, the sort who get their ego-fluffing from helping people, regardless of whether or not the person needs help, or wants help, or benefits from the sort of help they have to offer. The main point is that they are nobly out there graciously bestowing The Needy with the largess of their wisdom, even when their body of knowledge is riddled with “malcommendations”. Read the rest of this entry »

Both Sides Now

I hate hearing about “both sides” in news pieces. It’s not that I don’t want to hear what people have to say; rather, my complaint is with the whole idea of “presenting both sides”.

I should note that I’ve been a freelance writer for various local and national publications. So let me explain a bit about what the press does before I explain the reasons for my statement.

Journalists and reporters are encouraged to find stories that fill a number of requirements; depending upon their editors’ preferences, they may be looking for background to current events, introducing new discoveries, showing the personal sides to big events, exposing wrongdoing, educating the public, describing controversy, or providing inspiration. (I find it somewhat disheartening that the press is so slanted toward “stories” rather than “news”. I think this reflects a lot of the emphasis on warm-fuzzy human interest elements at the expense of focusing on actual information. Maybe I’m just a jaded scientist, but I like more details and verified facts in my news.) Of course, most news items stories combine several of these aspects.

There are a variety of different kinds of journalists and reporters. Some journalists have large amounts of specialised background in particular fields that they use to understand, put into context, and interpret the news, which enables them to know how to sift through information, evaluate it and present it in a manner that is intelligible to people who aren’t as well-versed.

In contrast, many live media reporters tend to have more background in the presentation of the news, and frequently have to reduce an hour or more of recording down to just a few minutes of “sound bites” arranged in the popular three part news-program format of: When we return, we’ll tell you this amazing news; Here I am telling you this amazing news; and My co-anchor just told you this amazing news.

Okay, you were probably aware of most of that. But to get those Controversies! and New Discoveries! and Inspiring Personal Stories! and Expose Wrongdoings! (excuse me, Expose Alleged Wrongdoings!), they frequently follow the dictate of getting quotes and information from both sides. Of course, sources who can deliver “sexy” sound-bites are especially preferred by live media reporters.

So what’s wrong with presenting both sides? We want balanced reporting, right? Read the rest of this entry »

“Superstition ain’t the way”

Very superstitious, writing’s on the wall.
Very superstitious, ladder’s ’bout to fall.
Thirteen-month-old baby broke the looking glass.
Seven years of bad luck, the good things in your past.
When you believe in things that you don’t understand, then you suffer.
Superstition ain’t the way.

(Part of the lyrics to “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder)

I recently heard on BBC Radio 4 news a story about an effort by the AfriKids organisation located in Ghana. From the AfriKids Web site, they explain:

… a child born with deformities or defining characteristics in the area was considered a ‘spirit child‘ who must therefore not be allowed to live with humans, for fear they will bring bad luck into the lives of the family. Such children, the paper gathered, were subjected to various forms of inhumane treatment aimed at terminating their lives.

To prove their innocence, the deformed infants are given deadly locally prepared concoctions, which the people believe can only kill ‘spirit children’.The practice has been with the people for ages. Until the interventions of some NGOs including Afrikids, the people in the area generally accepted the practice as a traditional norm, which should be conserved and continued.

There are a number of reasons why a child may be born with various deformities, including random genetic chance, maternal malnutrition, and diseases such as polio or rubella. Of course, polio and rubella can be prevented by vaccination. Other news in recent years included Nigeria, where polio vaccines were strongly resisted by local authorities (this article from New Scientist, 18 November 2003):

Laboratory tests by Nigerian scientists have dismissed accusations that the polio vaccine given in a mass immunisation campaign in the country is contaminated with anti-fertility hormones and HIV.

The World Health Organization (WHO) drive to rid the world of polio hit a major obstacle in October when immunisations were suspended in three regions in northern Nigeria due to rumours that the vaccine was laced with the HIV virus and hormones to render women infertile.

Some Islamic clerics suggested the vaccine is part of a Western plot to depopulate Africa. However, test results from experts recruited by the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria gave the all-clear on Tuesday.

“The vaccine is free of any anti-fertility agents or dangerous disease like HIV,” said Abdulmumini Rafindadi, at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital in Zaria, according to the Nigerian newspaper The Guardian.

But before you start getting cocky from your ethnocentric place in some Westernised, “first-world” country, stop and remember: superstition isn’t just for the illiterate third-world masses. Cloaked in modern pseudo-science or religious devotion, it’s enabling our neighbors to abuse and kill children.

Consider Amy Burney, a five-year old girl from the Bronx (New York City) who was poisoned in April 1997:

Convinced that the child was possessed by demons, Angelee Burney and Ms. Downing forced her to drink a toxic brew of ammonia, pepper, vinegar and olive oil, the police said. The women wrapped her body in a floral sheet and tossed it in the garbage bin outside their apartment building in the Kingsbridge section, the police said.

Consider Terrance Cottrell, an eight-year old autistic boy from Milwaukee who was suffocated during an exorcism.

When Junior arrived at the Faith Temple Church he was asked by the minister to lie on the floor. The boy’s trainers were removed to lesson the blows of his kicks. Sheets were also wrapped around him to stop him scratching. During the “prayer” service, Hemphill reportedly used one hand to hold Junior’s head to the floor and one knee to press down on to the boy’s chest. Cooper, meanwhile, held one of Junior’s feet while Tolefree held the other. Another woman, Monica Carver, was lying across the boy’s chest. All the while, Hemphill whispered into Junior’s ear, ordering the demons to leave him. Junior apparently struggled throughout, with Cooper and Tolefree occasionally losing grip of the boy’s feet and the 157lb Hemphill having to bring Junior forcefully under control.

It was only after two hours, however, that the adults noticed Junior was blue in the face, soaked in his own urine and not breathing. When Hemphill heaved himself up, both he and the boy were drenched with sweat. But the boy’s body was lifeless.

Or an un-named 14-year old autistic boy who was severely beaten during an eleven-hour exorcism during August of this year.

Police say the exorcism turned violent and that Uyesugi, under the guise of ‘God’s work’, battered and beat the boy.

“Sticking fingers into the boy’s mouth while he was restrained on the bed, causing him to vomit. And this happened several times. Family said that Mr. Uyesugi told them this was to cast the demons out,” said Detective Swain.

Police say Uyesugi also punched the autistic teen in the face during the ritualistic beating that lasted for eleven hours.

And of course, there are plenty of well-intentioned but misguided parents in the US and UK who refuse to get their children vaccinated for fear they might “catch autistic”, thus allowing the recent outbreaks of measles and mumps, and the resulting disabilities and deaths as described in this previous post.

Oh sure, we’re all intelligent, well-educated peoples. No one does horrible things here like they do in other parts of the world.

Don’t you believe it.

When you believe in things that you don’t understand, then you suffer.
Superstition ain’t the way.

Circling Over O’Hare

I am in the waiting place. Again. Still. It’s annoying.

I can be patient; I’ve spent hours waiting and watching for things to happen when doing outdoor photography, waiting for the sun to be covered by a cloud so the light is not so contrasty, waiting for the eternal wind to not blow so hard, waiting for an insect to alight somewhere, waiting for it to quit raining, et cetera.

But at the core, I like to operate and make my decisions based upon facts. A lack of (what feels like) sufficient or useful data leads me to milling around, stuck until I can figure out where or how to get the information I need. I also like to know what I’m going to be doing, so I can be prepared and plan around the other things in my life. One of the ways that I reduce stresses in my life is by limiting these free-floating anxieties.

Merely being in the limbo of putting things on hold because I’m stuck waiting is annoying, but I’m an adult. I can deal with feeling like I’m stuck on a dreary flight circling over O’Hare airport, waiting for a runway to free up. There’s no point in having a hissy fit because that won’t change anything. So why am I grousing? Read the rest of this entry »

Comfort Time

Today’s post includes a recipe. It’s a really quick recipe, “quick” in the real-world sense, not quick in the warped cookery-book sense that means standing at the stove for 45 minutes. It’s also from scratch, so you can adapt it as necessary to fit your own dietary requirements. The ingredients are common pantry things, too.

On days like this, I need comfort food. It’s a long day at work, as working with 28 students who have emotional & behavioural issues can be. I’m tired of the temper tantrums (teenagers being like toddlers with hormones), and hearing the “F-bomb” tossed about. I’m especially tired of a trio of acting-out 8th-graders who collectively are the BD equivalent of acid+base+catalyst. Two of the teachers/staff are off sick, which means that they’re death-warmed-over sick, unlike several of the present teachers/staff members who are among the walking sick. I’m in the second category, and get to spend all morning crunching spreadsheet data, which given the way the students have been, was something of a blessing despite the fact that number-crunching is hardly my fave activity. The teacher has a substitute (of sorts), but of course there are no subs for paras, so we’re short-handed.

I have the intense desire to go crawl into a hot bath after work, but get home and discover that my son has beat me to it, having spent yesterday at home sick and then dragged through a school day. So I get a snack and find that somehow we’re missing a couple gallons of milk that I’d bought at the grocery two days ago. Cuss. I go out to the garage and find them still in the trunk/boot of my car, where we’d missed unloading them. Eeuw … gingerly set the two warm jugs of milk into the rubbish bin. Go back in the house and then my sock squishes into a puddle of cat-gack that one of them barfed up. Everybody has things that absolutely cannot stand; I can deal with blood and gore just fine, but wet socks absolutely gross me out. This pair of socks has one heel that’s getting threadbare, so I simply toss them into the rubbish as well. I clean up remains of cat-gack that my foot missed.

Retrieving the cleaning-up materials from the kitchen yields the discovery that for some unfathomable reason, one of the cats barfed onto a stovetop burner. I’ve no idea why any of them would be up on the counters, and querying the quartet of felines produces nothing but blank stares, Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no evil, Eat no evil. As if! Someone was gnawing on the spider plant! (Chlorophytum comosum ‘Variegatum’). I go fetch my slippers for my cold feet, and then start dismantling the stove-top for cleaning.

Days like this call for comfort food — quick and easy comfort food, the sort you can eat with a bowl and spoon. I pull out a bag of spiral pasta and a couple tins from the pantry. I zapped some Romano green beans in the microwave for a side dish because we had some in the freezer.


Some shreds of Parma ham would be fabulous in this sauce, but who has that just sitting around? But even without it’s still tasty. Quantities are rough guides; use what you have. Depending upon your ability to multi-task, this takes about 15-20 minutes to make.  Chunky pasta shapes work better than slippery spaghetti.

  1. Start a pot of water to boil for the pasta.
  2. If you have some on hand, mince half a small onion and a couple cloves of garlic. If not, dig around and find a couple tablespoons of dried onion flakes and/or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder.
  3. Open a 14-ounce / 400 gram tin of chopped tomatoes, and set them to draining. Or, dice a couple-three fresh tomatoes.
  4. Open a tin of condensed milk, or measure out 2 cups half-and-half / half a liter of single cream (or dairy substitute).
  5. When the water is boiling, start pasta to cooking; don’t forget to set the timer!
  6. Cook the onions, garlic and tomatoes in 2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter, on medium heat. If using dried, add them at this stage so they will rehydrate in the tomato juice.
  7. Give the pasta a stir so it doesn’t cook into a big noodleblob.
  8. When the tomato mixture no longer looks very juicy, stir in a couple tablespoons of flour. Add a sprinkle of pepper (white pepper if on hand) and half teaspoon of salt or to taste. Pour in the milk. Turn heat down so the sauce doesn’t scorch.
  9. Stir pasta again. Turn strainer upside-down and whack it inside the sink if the bits of tomato stuck to it offend you. Rummage around and find a big serving bowl and spoon.
  10. Toss in a handful (about 1/4 cup if you’re a measuring person) of shredded Parmesan cheese into the sauce, and a handful of minced ham if there’s some around. I have also substituted a slice of bacon to great success — scissors make dicing the bacon much easier. Substitute half-cooked bacon for the oil at the beginning, and sauté the onions et cetera in the bacon fat.
  11. Drain pasta when done cooking. Dump the pasta into the serving bowl, pour sauce over it, and put the rest of the Parmesan on the table for adding atop individual servings.
  12. Nest the cookpots in the sink, tossing in the cooking spoons, along with a squirt of dish soap/ washing-up liquid, so the sauce doesn’t harden while you’re eating.

Go eat your food while it’s still hot!

Not helping my blood pressure

I went to the pharmacy to get some regular prescriptions refilled. Hubby has a new employer, which means we’re under a new insurance plan, which means sharing the newest insurance information with every one of our regular doctors and with the pharmacists. Oh the joys of paperwork – not. This time instead of a co-pay for prescriptions we have a (really, really big) deductible to meet before the insurance pays for things. I can sure vouch that the co-pay system with the previous insurer was a lot less stressful on my blood pressure. OMG the sticker shock!

My $9 blood pressure medication was no big deal. Getting just four migraine pills for $89 was alarming, especially as the kid takes two at a time, but the pharmacist explained that this insurance company only lets them fill four pills at a time. A month’s supply of ADHD meds was $109. (Yes, I’ve tried going without, and were I coping with just ADHD things wouldn’t be as bad, but you don’t want to hear about all the forgotten appointments and scorched pans et cetera; meds are just a part of my coping strategies.) Dang, that was a big check for all that.

Then a couple days later I went back to pick up some meds for hubby. I’ll refrain from details except to mention that when the pharmacist began to ring up his meds, she paused to ask “Do you still wan to fill these ‘scripts for the asthma medsRead the rest of this entry »


So here I am, still trying to find a way to make the job scene work.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like my college student tutoring, and special education paraprofessional, and noncredit instructor positions. It’s just that I’d rather have one job that paid decently, rather than three jobs cobbled together into something that leaves me overworked but seriously underpaid. (“underpaid” = $11/hr for someone with a MSc)

Lots of schools need teachers. No matter what employment resource I search, there are lots of positions for secondary science and special education teachers. School districts in every state need them, not just in the US but also in the UK. But to teach I need certification, and for certification Read the rest of this entry »

I’m not very “hopefuller”

This is why I don’t read the morning news in depth. It’s bad for the happy digestion of my breakfast, and would endanger the computer screen from being hit by coffee-spew. (I save reading the news for evening, after practicing my equanimity by being surrounded by students with emotional & behavioural issues.)

Recent comment made by the president regarding the No Child Left Behind Act:

“As yesterday’s positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured.”
~George W. Bush, Sept. 26, 2007

Just in case you missed some earlier Bushisms (also known as, “why I generally don’t watch news on television”):

“Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?”
~George W. Bush, Jan. 11, 2000 Read the rest of this entry »


So I’ve been painting walls, which is something I actually enjoy doing. I pace myself, and switch hands frequently to keep from wearing out too fast. This is the second room of the current painting spree, which means that it’s been nearly a month since I bought the can of paint, along with the other necessary miscellany one ends up getting from a trip to the hardware store. Before I could start painting the room, I had to spackle in a gazillion holes, because it used to be inhabited by a teenage girl who had naturally put up dozens of posters and postcards and drawings over the years, leaving the walls riddled with push-pin holes in much the same manner that the moon is riddled with craters.

That break in time partly explains why I ended up with the wrong color of paint and didn’t notice until I’d applied it to two walls. Read the rest of this entry »

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