Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pasta Parade

So, do you think the above pictures show too much pasta for 9 adult women?  . . . because I DEFINITELY DID NOT and thus I think I have a problem.  

Why do I have a problem?  . . . because I chose to make this much pasta for my 8 guests based on how much pasta I MYSELF eat in one meal and yet, AFTER dinner - this is what was left!  WTF!

Clearly - I grossly, disgustingly, dramatically overestimated the average female's ability to overdose on pasta and meat sauce the way I am perfectly capable of doing.  I should have invited men to girl's night.

. . . and so - since these lightweights do not know how to eat rigatoni, my husband and I (aka me, because he annoyingly does not have sauce in his veins) will be eating it for days if not an entire week.

Just toss it you say?  Oh no, I cannot be bothered with that kind of waste.  Do homeless shelters take leftovers?  No?  

Well then, bring on the carb coma.  My great grandmother, whose underarms could wrap around her like a cape and who may have once served us spaghetti for breakfast, would be so proud!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Merry Shitty Christmas

Names have been changed to protect the guilty!

It is Christmas night, 1985.  The whole family is at Grandma's sitting around the kitchen table after hours of gorging on a ham dinner, an assortment of cookies and pies, chocolate and presents!  The kids have been allowed at the grown-up table and I'm swinging my feet as they hang from the big chair, when suddenly something smells really bad.

Everyone sort of looks around, but keeps nibbling and talking.  It finally passes, though shortly after - we smell it again!  It's really bad and now there are comments being made, children laughing, people denying responsibility, etc.

A few moments later Uncle Bob (whose name has been changed) gets up from the table, slips his feet sloppily into boots and leaves the house.  A lot is going on so nobody thinks much of it until maybe fifteen minutes later, when we realize he hasn't come back.

Finally, when he has not returned after a half hour, someone calls his house, which is only a minute down the street.  He doesn't answer because at almost that exact moment Uncle Bob walks back into Grandma's.

Everyone begins asking where he has been and he tries to avoid answering until someone says, "Uncle Bob, did you change your pants?"


"Oh Jesus Christ," yells Uncle Bob, beginning to laugh now . . . and if you knew Uncle Bob you would totally understand how he could find his next statements funny.

"Yes, I changed my pants, OK.  I had gas so I went outside to let it pass and I shit my pants!  I shit my pants so I had to go change 'em."

I have no memory of what happened next and it is better that way. I can't be bothered paying for any more therapy!

You Fail!

The entire post below is written by Marion Brady, NOT me.  I've often wanted to write a similar post, but I guess I couldn't be bothered . . . so here are her words and the words of those she's quoted.  This is quite an amazing read.

 Washington Post "The Answer Sheet" Blog -- December 5, 2011 
By Marion Brady

A longtime friend on the school board of one of the largest school systems in America did something that few public servants are willing to do. He took versions of his state’s high-stakes standardized math and reading tests for 10th graders, and said he’d make his scores public.

By any reasonable measure, my friend is a success. His now-grown kids are well-educated. He has a big house in a good part of town, a paid-for condo in the Caribbean, influential friends, lots of frequent flyer miles, time to give serious attention to his school board responsibilities, etc., etc.

He called me the morning he took the test to say he was sure he had NOT done well.  

Later, upon receiving the results he wrote: “I won’t beat around the bush. The math section had 60 questions. I answered 10 out of the 60 correctly. 

On the reading test, I got 62% . In our system, that’s a “D” and would get me a mandatory assignment to a double block of reading instruction.

He continued, “It seems to me something is seriously wrong. I have a bachelor of science degree, two masters degrees, and 15 credit hours toward a doctorate.

“I help oversee an organization with 22,000 employees and a $3 billion operations and capital budget, and am able to make sense of complex data related to those responsibilities.

“I have a wide circle of friends in various professions. Since taking the test, I’ve detailed its contents as best I can to many of them, particularly the math section, which does more than its share of shoving students in our system out of school and on to the street. Not a single one of them said that the math I described was necessary in their profession.

“It might be argued that I’ve been out of school too long, that if I’d actually been in the 10th grade prior to taking the test, the material would have been fresh. But doesn’t that miss the point? A test that can determine a student’s future life chances should surely relate in some practical way to the requirements of LIFE!  I can’t see how that could possibly be true of the test I took.

“If I’d been required to take those two tests when I was a 10th grader, my life would almost certainly have been very different. I’d have been told I wasn’t ‘college material,’ would probably have believed it, and looked for work appropriate for the level of ability that the TEST said I had.

“It makes no sense to me that a test with the potential for shaping a student’s entire future has so little apparent relevance to adult, real-world functioning. Who decided the kind of questions and their level of difficulty? Using what criteria? To whom did they have to defend their decisions? As subject-matter specialists, how qualified were they to make general judgments about the needs of this state’s children in a future they can’t possibly predict? Who set the pass-fail “cut score”? How?

“I can’t escape the conclusion that decisions about the [state test] in particular and standardized tests in general are being made by individuals who lack perspective and aren’t really accountable.”

Here you have it . . . in 13 words, a concise summary of what’s wrong with present corporately driven education change:

Decisions are being made by individuals who lack perspective and aren’t really accountable.

Those decisions are shaped not by knowledge or understanding of educating, but by ideology, politics, hubris, greed, ignorance and various combinations thereof . . . and then they’re sold to the public by the rich and powerful.

Bernard Kaplan, who runs one of the highest-achieving schools in the state states, “It’s education by humiliation.  “I’ve never seen teachers and principals so degraded.”
Another principal, Mario Fernandez, called the evaluation process a product of “ludicrous, shallow thinking. They’re expecting a tornado to go through a junkyard and have a brand new Mercedes pop up.”

My school board member-friend who took the test ended with this: “I can’t escape the conclusion that those of us who are expected to follow through on decisions that have been made for us are doing something ethically questionable.”

He’s wrong. What they’re being made to do isn’t ethically questionable.  It’s ethically unacceptable. Ethically reprehensible. Ethically indefensible.

How many of the approximately 100,000 school principals in the U.S. would join the revolt if their ethical principles trumped their fears of retribution? Why haven’t they been asked?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Road Rage

It is a cold winter afternoon circa 1980.  I am 6.  My sister is 4.  We are in the back seat of the car my mother is driving on a country road, and we are not wearing seat belts - as you will soon see.

My sister and I have been fighting for many minutes, stopping only when our mother yells at us to stop and only because we are scared enough of her not to fight while she is yelling, but not scared enough (yet) to stop fighting altogether.

We have just resumed our incessant arguing and smacking each other across the seat when my mother turns around and our heads jerk as she almost veers off the road.  She is furious now, as she bellows the classic: "If I have to pull this car over, you two are going to be sorry."

Our mother goes on yelling at us, but this time it is different.  We are already scared when she then tells us that not only will we stop fighting, but we are not to talk at all.  She does not want to hear one more word, and I quote:

". . . not one more God damn word!"

We have clearly pushed her too far and I remember being very unsure about what would happen if I said one more God damn word. I did know, however, that I COULDN'T BE BOTHERED finding out.

My sister and I move as far away from one another as we can then, each of us tight against the opposite backseat door.  We don't say a word.  We barely breathe.

A few moments later I hear a clicking sound and look over to see my sister fidgeting with the lock.  Normally I would have called out: "Moooooom, Staci's playing with the lock," but this time I keep quiet.

My sister continues playing with the door while I watch, wanting so much to tell on her or hit her or yell at her, when suddenly -  the door comes open and my sister falls out.  That's right, she falls out!

Stunned, I whip my head to the front seat to see what my mom will do.

She does not do anything.  She continues driving, looking straight ahead.  My mouth opens to yell to her, but then I remember:

". . . you two are going to be sorry . . . not one more God damn word!"

I am paralyzed.  Maybe my mom had somehow opened that door.  Maybe my sister was the first to go and this was my warning.  I don't speak.

After what seems like forever (but years later my mom would say was just a tenth of a mile or so) we go around a little bend and that's when she feels it.  My mother quickly turns to look over her right shoulder, where my sister should have been sitting, and immediately hits the breaks.

"Jeannette . . . oh my God . . . where is your sister?"

I swallow hard, wanting to say something but remembering " . . . not one more God damn word."

My mother has pulled the car over by now and is turned toward me, frantic, looking out the back window down the snowy road where my little sister is lying in what looks like a big pile of discarded winter clothing - right in the road!

"Jesus Christ Jeannette!  Why didn't you tell me your sister fell out of the car?"

Tentatively I respond, "Because you told us not to talk."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

There is no Santa!

Twenty-eight years ago a nine year old was riding in the passenger's seat of her mom's car (no doubt without a seat belt), off to who-knows-where on a cold December day.

Me: Mom, someone at school today told me there's no Santa.
Mom: Oh.
Me: So is it true?  Is there no Santa?
Mom: Well . . .
Me: She said YOU are Santa, Mom.  Are you Santa?  Do you give us all those presents?

Long Pause

Me: (angrily) You ARE Santa, aren't you? You are!
Mom:  Yes, honey, I am Santa, but I don't want you to tell your sisters, OK?
Me: I can't believe this.  I can't believe there's no Santa.

Mom tries to explain, but I cut her off.

Me: Wait a minute. If you're Santa, then . . . NO!  You're The Tooth Fairy too and the Easter Bunny?
Mom: Yes, honey, I'm them too.
Me: (starting to cry, still angry though) I can't believe this (but if I had known it then I surely would have said: "I can't be bothered with this!")
Mom: I'm sorry you're upset.
Me: I'm sorry you're a liar!  Does Dad know about this?

Mom, probably trying not to laugh: Yes, he knows.

There is another long pause and then something terrifying occurs to me.

Me: Oh my God Mom.  I mean . . . well, I guess I shouldn't say God because he's probably not real either.  Are you God Mom?  Are you God too?

Long Pause

Mom: Yes, I'm God too.