Friday, August 28, 2009

Well, Whaddya Know?! And other Random Ramblings

I was perusing my blogroll this morning to see who was being witty and fun and stuff and that little blue box on the right hand side caught my eye.

Next Wednesday I will have been hanging out here at The Bowl for a year. Unless I can figure out how to write 93 posts in 5 days, I won't hit my 300 goal but I guess that's what I get for taking the summer off, right?

Anyway, before you get your hopes up let me just go ahead and let you know that there isn't going to be any delightful traffic surge inducing party or contest. And I probably won't even write some hysterical, milk out the nose post.

Quite honestly, I have no clue what I'm going to do. How about a Q & A post? You can grill me and I'll come up with witty answers. I mean after all if you've stuck with me this long you deserve to pick my brain, right? Don't fuss at me if the fruit is not so good. Just go ahead and put your interview questions in the comments and I'll get back to you. Or don't. And now I'm just rambling.

Have a fabulous weekend folks! I'll be gorging on the peanut butter cookies I'm about to make and pretending I'm a duck with all this rain.

(So I was looking for an image of a calendar for this post and when I typed "Calendar" into Photobucket, I got this rabbit. How's that for random?)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gold Star Thursday - 40 Years!

I don't normally make tributes to my family here at The Bowl but this is an important one so I'm making an exception. Here's to you Mom and Dad.

August 26, 1969 my parents were married. It was a simple ceremony with a justice of the peace in Maryland but what happened next is nothing short of phenomenal in my book.

I'm a lousy daughter because I haven't ever asked a lot of questions about my parents' early married years so I don't know much more than I have lived - a situation I hope to remedy. I know my mother dropped out of college to help my father finish his BA. I know my parents lived in the mountains of North Carolina where my father worked in a fabric plant. He lost the tip of his middle finger on a velvet shaving machine.

I know my sister and I were born in North Carolina and my parents had some dear friends there that we would stop and visit every time we went to visit my grandmother in Florida. I remember many nights falling asleep to the sound of my parents playing cards with their friends and laughing and loving life.

I know that when I was very small we moved back to PA because my grandmother was very sick and needed help. We lived in a small farm house that we actually rented from some friends in the community. I remember being lifted in the front loader of a backhoe to pick cherries from a tree in the back field.

My parents purchased land from my grandfather and built a house from the foundation up and still live in that house to this day. I think I was about 4 when we moved in. My sister and I were a mile and a half from our elementary school. My parents worked in a sewing factory in our town; my mother as a seamstress and my father as a mechanic and manager of the cutting room. My sister and I worked in the evenings sweeping up the factory.

I remember many nights on the living room floor doing family devotions. Many nights at the dining room table playing Aggravation or Uno or Parcheesi. I remember folding laundry as a family and the laughter we shared when my father became confused by the ladies undergarments. He threw one into the air in frustration and the whirling ceiling fan carried it and our laughter to the rafters.

I remember long summer days in the garden hoeing weeds, picking beans, and plucking strawberries for dessert. I remember planting potatoes by the acres for the whole extended family to share. I remember picking my fair ton of those same potatoes. I remember my father working at a neighbor's farm in exchange for a freezer full of pork or beef at butchering time. I remember my mother making all manner of homemade presents and clothes. I remember canning our own vegetables, making our own spaghetti sauce, the smell of fresh jam, and the shelves upon shelves of mason jars full of supplies for a full winter.

I remember going out to the woods as a family and cutting up fallen trees for firewood for our Goliath of a furnace. I remember many a day my sister and I spent at the woodshed stacking wood as a punishment for some recent quarrel we had subjected our parents to. I remember my sister breaking her finger when she smashed it between a piece of wood and the tailgate of my fathers green truck. Speaking of broken bones, I remember taking the least graceful swan dive off our deck and breaking my own right arm.

There were pets - 4 dogs and an untold number of pigs, cats and goldfish. There were sleepovers. There were barbeque's that my parents threw for my camp counselor friends. There were birthdays and Christmases; Thanksgivings and long summers.

But above anything else in my memory is the total overall love. There was never a lack of love in our house. Not between my parents. Not from my parents to my sister and I. And not from our house to anyone else's. I don't remember my parents ever fighting. I'm sure they did. But I don't remember it. My parents always showed us that family is forever. They showed us that the best way to improve the world is to give of yourself to other people. They taught us that nothing is impossible if you are willing to work hard, be patient, and persevere.

My mother went back to college at the same time I went for the first time. She scored a 4.0 and graduated with a teaching degree which she is still using 10 years later. It was the proudest day for me to say that I finished right behind my mother's GPA. My father took a job at a local camp when I was 15 and has been the maintenance director there for 15+ years. They are not wealthy people until you start to count up their friendships and the people they have touched over the 40 years they have been married.

So my gold star today goes to my mother and father. For being role models for not just me and my sister, but for the people they come in contact with every day and for young couples learning to be married. I don't know that I could find a better example. Happy Anniversary!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gold Star Thursday!

I don't know if this is going to be a recurring theme or not - we'll have to see if people really earn a gold star. I was thinking about the great healthcare debate that has taken over the country last night and tried very hard to boil it down to its core. Here's what I came to before exhaustion finally took me away.

The healthcare system is in a hurt because A) we are unhealthy people who don't even try to take care of ourselves until we are already sick. In other words, we are lazy and selfish. We eat and do what we want to because we want to. And B) because some doctors, clinics, hospitals and insurance companies only care about the bottom line and making it as big as possible. Please don't start the "doctors have student loans and have studied long and hard" argument. I understand that and I believe that they should be compensated. I just know that there are some out there who think they are entitled to more than is actually fair.

But at the bottom of both of those reasons sits the same root. Selfishness and Greed. I'm not resolving the healthcare issue today. As most of you know my brain grabs random ideas from time to time and takes me on a tangent completely unrelated. Well, the selfishness and greed grabbed me.

Then I read through some of the headlines online this morning. This story popped out to me.

Fashion-forward Miamian helps homeless land jobs

Here is a Product Director for Johnson & Johnson - a normal every day guy by most standards - who is taking money out of his own pocket to help homeless people change their lives. For the better.

Maybe he makes more money than us. Maybe he doesn't. The point is that he saw a need and stepped out of his comfort zone to fill it. He did something for someone else. And not just his next door neighbor who needed his grass mowed. He did something for an "undesirable." Someone who was probably passed by a million times a day in Miami.

I had no idea who Frank Kelly was. And don't Google him. You'll hear about a 50 year old man who was arrested for DWI in North Carolina. This is Frank. He's a motivational speaker who puts his money where his lessons are.

Is Frank going to cure the ills of the world? No. If we act like Frank are we going to cure the ills? No. Does that mean we shouldn't try? No.

Gold Star today for Frank. Gold Star to you if you take even two minutes today to step out of your comfort zone to help someone else. You may not radically change someone's life but you may make an impression that causes them to pass it on.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Eureka! The Mother Lode!

If you follow the Zoo you may remember that my two older exhibits went back to school last week. Sweet bliss! Blessed quietness. Ahhhhhhhhh.


Lost myself for a minute.

It was very entertaining last week to watch the interactions between our local law enforcement officials and the commuters of our community. Namely how quickly the officers were racking up and how light the commuter pockets were getting.

It's back to school season folks. How could you ignore the bright yellow flashing lights that have been inactive all summer warning you that you are entering a school zone? How could you not realize that the two slight curves on either side of the school provide the perfect zone for motorcycle mounted police to set up shop?

I promise there is no poetic license here. I sat in the carpool lane both morning and afternoon all week and watched at least 2 people a day get their fan mail from our local municipality. On Monday (the first day of school), I saw four! Ready to do some math?

The initial fine for speeding in a school zone is $215. Then you add $5 for every mile over the limit you were when you were caught. Now most of the people who were caught were right around 40 mph (I'm guessing from watching their cars - could have been higher or lower). But here we go.

$215 + (5 x 15) = $290!

Now figure that I saw at least twelve people get pulled over. If they all got tickets (versus warnings)? Our local municipality made roughly $3600 last week alone!

So here's the deal people. Slow down! Tis the season for children to be on the streets, school buses to hold up traffic, and cops to make their quotas. Be smart about it and maybe you can save some change AND lives.

All else fails, perhaps you can avoid this!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Under the Weather

*If you read from my Facebook page you may want to click through to the original post to get the full effect."

I woke up this morning feeling tired but otherwise ok. I got everyone out of the house safely and in a timely manner. Then I tried to do my workout and promptly got woozy, fell over from a Downward Dog, jumped up and heaved. Go ahead and laugh. I did while I brushed my teeth. I still haven't fully recovered so my day has been spent watching the Hallmark Movie Channel.

It's a veritable fountain of infomercials just screaming to be blogged!

There is so much to highlight in this one! For starters, the idea that a personal grooming product is referred to as a weapon does not conjure painless images in my head. Then you have the funky feet that they used to shoot this. Please tell me you were as grossed out by the calloused heel as I was. Maybe this is why I've been nauseous all day. And why exactly do I want two of these things? Do I really need to do both feet at one time? Somebody still has to paint the toes right? I studied the little attachment things and I didn't see a paint sprayer in there but I might have missed it.

But there's more! (Told you I've been watching all day.)

Boy I'm glad they included those other springs to provide different levels of resistence. I'm a little dissapointed in the bonuses. A carrying bag? That's it? But my hubby and I wanted his and hers. And how much can you put on a DVD to support a Thighmaster for your neck? Can you prop it between your shoulder and your ear to get an all around workout? Who wants to bet that the special cream is really just Vaseline intensive care lotion?

But call now and I'll double your order for FREE! Oh, and let's talk about that. They don't have to tell me "But Wait!!" I'm hanging on every word from the very start just to see what my bonus is at the end. It's like watching the roulette wheel. Am I going to get a double order or are they going to take money off? Are they going to send me a carrying case, video or special promotional umbrella made out of frog fur? The tension is palpable!

I remembered now why I don't watch daytime TV. Can't stand the recycled soap stories; don't feel like watching fake court and laugh entirely too hard at the infomercials.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What's for Lunch?

I just finished reading an article in The Washington Post that has my gears going again. And since it's from The Post you can probably guess that you are about to see how political I get (when I get political).

The basic story is that the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has taken up some ad space in Union Station for posters advocating healthier school lunch choices. The problem is that they use the President's daughters to convey their message.

I won't even touch the idea that they used the President's children. They shouldn't have done it; it's a well known fact that Presidential children are off limits. Enough about that.

And of course I want healthier dining options offered in public schools. Do I think that it should be mandated that schools offer vegetarian and vegan choices? I'm not so sure. I understand that there are vegetarians and vegans and that their nutrition is just as important as everyone else's. I just don't think the public schools need to be charged with the financial obligations that will come with that.

I have never lived life as a vegetarian or vegan but I know from looking at my own grocery bill that produce (especially off season) is expensive. And that's just on a single home scale; not for a school of hundreds of children. I also know from running a child care center that keeping fresh produce in an industrial kitchen is challenging. Restaurants and grocery stores have fresh produce delivered daily. In the kitchen at the center, it was challenging just to keep apples and oranges (pretty hearty fruits) fresh for a week.

The protien options also pose a problem for me. Soy and nut products would have to be handled on completely seperate equipment from everything else. Nut allergies are rampant in public schools to the point that I can't even send a PB&J with my children because someone may accidentally touch their empty bag and go into an attack.

I appreciate that vegetarians and vegans want to be included in the spectrum. I just fear for the burden it will put on already strained public school budgets and staffs.

I previewed the school menu last year and this year during school orientation. I didn't particularly care for the options offered so I choose to buy two lunch boxes and pack my children's lunches. They get a fruit, veggie, sandwich, juice, string cheese, and a snack item. I pack a pretty darn healthy lunch (the teachers told me so) because I take the responsibility on myself. In my book, if you have a special lifestyle that you have chosen, then you should be willing to take the personal steps available to continue that. I don't think the government should mandate that other people accomodate you.

But that's just my two cents! Feel free to read the article for yourself and get back to me. But bring me a lunch when you get back, would ya?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Maybe I'm Just Bitter. Or Maybe Hollywood Stinks!

Let me begin by saying that the last movie I saw in a theater was Four Christmases with Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn and I think that was last year at Christmas. So maybe I'm out of touch. I'll be open to that idea.

Here's my beef with Hollywood. They keep inundating the market with lousy movies. Yeah I know that's all our beef but I have a point so ride it out with me. Hollywood makes lousy movie upon lousy movie. They give them three weeks to do something in the theater and then they yank them out to foist the next lousy movie on us.

Maybe the theory is "Throw enough garbage at them and something HAS to stick." Maybe Hollywood is getting a kickback from Orville Redenbacher (and yes, I had to look up how to spell his name). My problem is that it's machine gun firing movies at us to the point that I have quit even thinking about getting a sitter for the theater. I'll just wait six months for it to hit the dollar movie box at the grocery store and watch it at home.

And there's some more prime rib for you! Why in heaven's name would I want to hire a sitter for $15 an hour; pay $20 for tickets; and another $20 for gluttonous oversized concessions (that are only going to give me heartburn and add 30 minutes to my workout the next day), only to go into a dark room of texting, jabbering, giggling teenagers and simultaneously have my retinas burnt out and my ear drums ruptured? Huuuuuuuh?

Special effects are overdone to the point that watching Transformers at home on my TV gave me a migraine. Can you imagine if I had seen it in the theater? My head would have exploded. And in doing my research for this post (yes, sometimes I research) I learned that the reason the previews are so loud is so that they can be heard over any talking before the feature. But they NEVER TURN IT DOWN!!! And heaven help you if you are in a mostly empty theater.

But just in case you are a serious carnivore, let me give you one more little fillet. Movies are only in the theaters 8 to 10 weeks on average. And that's only if they are making money! Do you know that according to Reuters Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (arguably one of the best movies EVER!!) spent 12 weeks at #1?! Do you know why? I'll offer my opinion. Because it was arguably one of the best movies EVER!! I jest of course; we all know the best movie ever was Tombstone.

Now seriously A) Because it WAS a decent movie with adventure, humor, love interest, cute kid and gasp! a story line. And B) because the folks in Hollywood weren't throwing 416 more movies down the chute right behind it, beside it and on top of it.

I just pulled up the AFI's Top 100 list and of the top 25 only four were released during my lifetime - Raging Bull, Schindler's List, Star Wars (and that's a technicality), and ET. Schindler's List, the most recent, was 1993. Sixteen years ago people. Have great movies come out since then? Maybe Forrest Gump? I could have done without Titanic. Erin Brokovich would have been a lot better without all the F bombs. And I can't really think of another Earth shaker. I have liked several of the animated movies since (Over the Hedge ROCKS!! Right up there with Tombstone on my list) but it's hard to make a bad one now with Pixar and Dreamworks in the game.

So what's your point Sarah?

Dear Hollywood,

We want quality, not quantity. I want to be able to go to the theater as a family and not worry about my children going blind or leaving with ringing ears. I want to be able to take them to a truly G rated movie. And I want to be whisked away again. I want to be able to sit like Grace and Annie and Daddy Warbucks and be truly moved by a movie. I want an actor like Carey Grant or Humphrey Bogart to sweep me off my feet. I want a Katherine and Audrey Hepburn and Ingrid Bergman to demonstrate that class and strength can be still found in a woman. No more profanity to get a laugh. No more explosions that shake the walls. The African Queen. Arsenic and Old Lace. Harvey. Give me a movie that means something.

Then you can have my $20 again.

Friday, August 7, 2009

And Here are your Headlines for Today!

I love it when a headline from the Odd News catches my eye and sucks me in. It's like a mental train wreck and I can't help but stare. The real question is how do I get a job writing some of these articles? I mean this stuff is priceless and I have to think that laughing at the stupidity in this world would be one truly awesome job.

(I'm no Walter but I'll dedicate this coverage to his memory anyway - I hear he had a pretty good sense of humor.)

Here's the one that sucked me in.
Chinese bride trains eye on wedding dress record
I'm wondering how giddy this little bride is going to be when she realizes that a train that is 1.2 MILES long weighs a ton. And why in the world did they stop at 9,999 roses? Why not go for that one extra rose that put them at an even 10,000? Would it have really made that big of a difference? I love Mom's reaction "It's a waste of money." Just like a mom to look at the practicality of the issue.

Fans urged to drink whisky to ward off swine flu
I'm sorry but this made me laugh in a big way. They actually thought they needed to tell Russian soccer fans to drink? I guess maybe they had to announce the switch from vodka to whiskey. See if that had been Ireland there would have been no issue!

One dead in ear-cleaning salon attack
This one just freaked me out. First of all there are ear cleaning salons?! I am grossed out on so many levels right now. And how can a person get so attached to their "cleaner" that they feel the need to follow them home and stab them and their family?! You kill a person because of stubborn ear wax? That's a whole new line of defense!

Underweight team told to eat at least 15 eggs a day
I get it that it's a rugby team and you want them to be big burly guys and all. But aren't you even the least bit worried that they'll have heart attacks on the field? 15 eggs a day?! That cholesterol level has to be off the charts!

Kiss warning issued for rock festival due to flu
No real commentary about this story in particular. I mean I think the name of the festival is funny - Wacken Open Air Festival but that's not what got me. No, open this link and look at the picture that goes with it. Do you see the two senior citizens in the windsuits in the very front of the crowd? They're there for Napalm Death - I'm sure of it!

And now this last one. Nothing funny about it. Just sheer amazement and chin dropping.
Police find train "suicide" woman in bed
She got hit by a train. She made her way home. She went to bed. HOW?! I'm sorry but if I get hit by a train I'll be lucky if I make it back onto the platform. And she only had a broken arm?! I'm blown away.

And there's all the news that's fit to report today! From the Research Room this is T.B. Maid saying "May your water be blue and always go down!"

Thursday, August 6, 2009

How Long Before They Get Their First ROFLMBO?

Waterloo, Iowa has launched a program that allows people to text to 911.

Take a minute and think about this. I've taken 24 hours and I'm still a little cloudy. Texting 911.

Now I understand if you have been in a car accident and you have a facial injury that makes it difficult to speak or makes your speech indiscernable. But are you really going to be able to think clearly enough to send a coherent message?

And yes I get that the hearing impaired can use the service but didn't they have the TTY service for 911 already?

Well, what about the home invasion scenario? I'm pretty sure the invaders make a point to take the phones away, don't they? Maybe if you get not so bright home invaders. And yes Katie Couric says that there are instances of people texting to friends to call for help when they've been kidnapped but how many instances have there actually been?

I just wonder how cost effective this idea really is. How many people are really going to use this service? How much training is going to have to go into teaching 911 operators to translate these messages? Because you know there are going to be abbreviations created specifically for emergencies.

CC. 2A, 3C, 1 BA, 2 BL.

I mean you understood that I was saying "Car Crash involving 2 adults, 3 children. 1 Broken Arm and 2 Broken Legs," right?

I just don't think I get it completely. Would YOU ever send a text message to 911? Why do I think that I see yet another governmentally induced money sucking whirpool in the making?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Age Old Question

And not the questions that a certain friend of mine has taken to asking of late. Nothing about trees falling, where people park their cars, or even the great chicken egg dillema. None of those earth shaking, world crisis averting questions.

How old does she look?

Every woman reading just had a collective chill run up their spine and felt that tightening nausea in their stomachs. Why do people ask that question? Don't they know the traumatizing potential in that answer? And don't they realize the position they are putting the interrogated individual in? Strip them naked on the Grand Old Opry stage, hook them to a polygraph and shine a spotlight dead in their face why don't you? It might be more comfortable.

We went to dinner with some friends Saturday evening and Beloved, apparently unaware of the emotional peril contained in the question, asked the other female in the party that very question about me.

27. And the answer came back fast and very matter of factly.

Now as the mother of three under 6 and a woman who tries (sometimes very hard) to stay at least in the shadow of fitness, there were two directions my brain went with this.

Path A - Nice! All that yoga and swimming and walking and water have actually come to serve some purpose this summer. My scale may be in denial that I did any of it but perception is reality people.

Path B - Come on already! Haven't I earned my stripes? Do I really still look like someone fresh out of college? Don't I at least look like I could be the responsible parent of one or two? I have worked really hard for my thirty (mumble, mumble) years!

And it's not the first time THIS WEEK that I have been mistaken for someone much younger than my thirty somethings. Thursday I was purchasing some adult refreshments at the grocery store and of course my children were with me. The lady behind me in line was giving me a shady look when I presented my ID to the cashier. He cleared me and her countenance visibly relaxed with the return of my ID. It was odd but I wasn't going to make a big deal. The cashier remarked that I was only 2 years older than him and he thought I was actually younger than him. I didn't take offense because I know him and see him at the store regularly.

But then Snarky Eyes chimed in with "Really?! Those children are yours? I thought you were the babysitter!" Because every babysitter I've ever hired takes the children out to buy adult beverages. What?!

But back to the question. What if the friend at dinner had come back with 37? What if she had given me EXTRA credit for my years? How would I have felt then? Would I have been motivated to come home and do midnight pilates? Would I have been proud of my maturity?

And why do I even care? I am as young as I feel, right? But then if that's the case the popping in my ankles, knees and hips has me at 92 with one foot on a banana peel.

Maybe I'll stick with the 27 after all.