owl wtf

report from Super-Tuesday Virginia

Today was parent-teacher conference day, so we visited two schools and drove past another. All of which were voting centers. I figured there wouldn't be as much hoopla as usual, but I hadn't expected nothing. Not one campaigner, not one sign. The only people we saw in the halls were teachers and parents on their way to or from meeting each other. The only people in the cafeteria, where the voting booths are, were the official monitors and the volunteers heating up pots of homemade chili for the teachers' lunch. Not one voter. It's as if they called an election and no one came ...

So this is what electoral Siberia looks like.
militant owl

warning: slightly morbid, non-seasonally cheery thoughts ahead

A friend sent me a video of a kid with a heart condition. He talked about how, when his heart was giving out and he was being wheeled into the hospital on a stretcher, he saw a bright light that wasn't there and felt at peace. This was my response:

It's funny how our beliefs shape our experiences. When I was being carried out on a stretcher by paramedics, I didn't see a white light. What I noticed was that the very cold oxygen canister they'd stuck under my knees had shifted and was whacking against my ass at every step. My mind doesn't go to spiritual places, it focuses on the details of the moment I'm in, so I perceive a life-threatening moment in terms of little discomforts that distract me from the bigger picture. Not the wrenching pain in my chest, the the struggle to keep breathing, the fear in my husband's face, or the possibility that I'll never see my children again, but the cold canister bumping my butt. When I remember the most terrifying moment of my life, that's what comes to mind.

So that's me. Utterly prosaic. Don't get me wrong, I was quite terrified afterwards and it took quite a while to stop feeling that way, but not at the time. If another octopus comes for me and I don't make it, know that I was too busy noticing the little details to be afraid.
owl wtf

(no subject)

Buried in end of semester madness, but thought I'd share this. If you or your kids eat cereal for breakfast, here is a report on 84 popular cereals commonly marketed to children and how they stack up against some very basic health guidelines, like percentage of sugar and stuff. There's a huge amount of verbiage, but if you want to cut to the chase, the table with all the data starts on page 19. Most of it is expected - I never thought Cocoa Puffs counted as food - but there are some suprises - we're never buying Honey Nut Cheerios again.
book cat

(no subject)

Libraries are wonderful.

With my limited energy, we don't get to the local library as often as I'd hoped. It's less than a 10 minute walk away (one of the key selling points when we bought the house!), but life's been stressful and the kids aren't quite up to going and checking books out on their own. Soon, but not yet.


Libraries have regular book sales. Today, we bought 44 books and 8 videos for $35.75. Madeleine L'Engle and Lloyd Alexander and Roger Zelazny for the Peanut, who is in a fantasy phase, more of The Magic Treehouse and the start of the Anne of Green Gables series for the Bean, William Burroughs, Werner von Braun's History of Rocketry and a book on the Mathematics of Lewis Carrol for Mr. Mochi. Assorted biographies for me. And much more.

There were a few moments of whimsy. The discovery that the history section was mostly composed of books by Bill O', Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh. The Bean's innocent questioning of "why does the picture of a monkey look kind of like a person?" about a book on George W. Bush (I swear, I didn't prompt her, she came up with it all by herself).

I'm wrecked, but smugly satisfied. So we don't get to the library that often, we brought a bit of the library home instead. That's a good day.
militant owl

Mississippi Personhood Amendment

Originally posted by gabrielleabelle at Mississippi Personhood Amendment
Okay, so I don't usually do this, but this is an issue near and dear to me and this is getting very little no attention in the mainstream media.

Mississippi is voting on November 8th on whether to pass Amendment 26, the "Personhood Amendment". This amendment would grant fertilized eggs and fetuses personhood status.

Putting aside the contentious issue of abortion, this would effectively outlaw birth control and criminalize women who have miscarriages. This is not a good thing.

Jackson Women's Health Organization is the only place women can get abortions in the entire state, and they are trying to launch a grassroots movement against this amendment. This doesn't just apply to Mississippi, though, as Personhood USA, the group that introduced this amendment, is trying to introduce identical amendments in all 50 states.

What's more, in Mississippi, this amendment is expected to pass. It even has Mississippi Democrats, including the Attorney General, Jim Hood, backing it.

The reason I'm posting this here is because I made a meager donation to the Jackson Women's Health Organization this morning, and I received a personal email back hours later - on a Sunday - thanking me and noting that I'm one of the first "outside" people to contribute.

So if you sometimes pass on political action because you figure that enough other people will do something to make a difference, make an exception on this one. My RSS reader is near silent on this amendment. I only found out about it through a feminist blog. The mainstream media is not reporting on it.

If there is ever a time to donate or send a letter in protest, this would be it.

What to do?

- Read up on it. Wake Up, Mississippi is the home of the grassroots effort to fight this amendment. Daily Kos also has a thorough story on it.

- If you can afford it, you can donate at the site's link.

- You can contact the Democratic National Committee to see why more of our representatives aren't speaking out against this.

- Like this Facebook page to help spread awareness.

militant owl

life whinges followed by a Peanut story

So this semester is pretty much sucking. I'm far less recovered from the octopus attack than I'd thought and even the small amount of work I'm doing is kicking my butt. The good news is I'm coping better than I was a month and a half ago when classes started. The bad news is that's still far worse than pre-octopus.

Meanwhile, campus has been hit with the plague. Students and faculty are dropping like flies. And today the Peanut got it. Woke up unable to talk and utterly miserable. It was even one of those teacher-whatever days when there's no school and he would have spent the day at the rec-center. But no, he was too sick.

One of the perks I lost when I stopped being regular faculty was having the scheduler coordinate with Mr. Mochi's department to try to make sure we didn't both teach at the same time. Until now, we'd never had more than a quarter hour of overlap (labs being different lengths than other classes). This semester, even though I'm only teaching one class, it's simultaneous with one of his. So someone, who turned out to be me, had to take the Peanut to class with them.

This didn't start out well. First, the plan to have him watch a DVD at the back of the room fell apart when a random parent who will remain nameless of the male persuasion packed the wrong headphones (yeah, I should have checked, but he swore he'd taken care of it). Which might not have been a problem except that this was the day I was teaching Night by Elie Wiesel. If you haven't read it, it's the most soul-wrenching account of the Holocaust on the market. Great topic for a 10 year old (insert sarcasm). I walked into the class thinking this was going to be a disaster.

My little boy's first day in college was a huge success. Within the first 5 minutes he put his book down and spent the rest of the 75 minutes listening attentively (fie on the teachers who say he has problems with his attention span!) And then there was the magic moment.

Okay, so it was a bit of a inside job, but only a little bit. There's a place in the book where they talk about the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur, juxtaposed with the selection. The Jewish kids in the class took a shot at explaining the meaning of these holidays, and totally missed all the elements of life, death, self-examination, atonement, redemption, etc. that parallel the horror of the selection and the characters emotional struggle at that point in the book. I was about to explain it, when a little, timid hand went up from my baby. And he told a room full of college students about the real meaning of the cycle of years and life in Jewish tradition. And got it exactly right.

My little boy went to college and did good. At 11. I'm kvelling.
militant owl

(no subject)

Legumes: [being annoying and not getting ready for bed]
Mr. Mochi: Remind me why we decided to breed.
Mochi: So we could complain about our children not supporting us in our old age. And because I desperately wanted stretch marks.
Mr. Mochi: I knew there was a good reason. After all, you do look good in stretch marks.
Mochi: If you are very lucky, I'll let you lick them.


Mochi: Ewwwwww.
Mr. Mochi: You do realize that you just completely grossed yourself out. I had nothing to do with that, it was all you.
Mochi: [glowers]

Mood: cynical and suffering self-induced gross-out
militant owl

(no subject)

This semester sucketh.

Not my class, that is going great. I don't remember if I mentioned, but I'm teaching a themes in modern global history course to an all-frosh class in a critical thinking module. My theme is war crimes and public memory, and the students are (so far, anyway) really involved and enthusiastic.

It's the corporeal being that sucketh, and not in the literal sense. I thought I was pretty much over that octopus attack, but it turns out not so much. Each time I teach knocks me out for the rest of the day plus the next one. At least I'm teaching TuTh, so that's only 4 days a week that I'm useless instead of 6.

I'm starting to feel ever so slightly less than optimistic.

But I did manage to post a cute (imho) bit about Rick Perry's comparison of climate change deniers to Galileo over at thatsnothistory. Which feels like an accomplishment.