Monday, August 18, 2008

Dumb and Dumber

Oh my gosh! (Given the tone of this blog, I resisted the urge to use OMG; that just seems sanctimonious). I'm grumpy, I have a toothache, and I CANNOT BELIEVE what I've read online over the past week. So you get a rant today instead of a charming story.

First, some genius over at the Dallas ISD has proposed a "second chance" policy for students who fall short at school. You can read all about it here: DISD's Second Chance Grade Policy

The gist of it is that students who fail a test will have the chance to retake the test, with no penalty. Students who fart around and don't turn in their homework assignments won't get zeroes for the work. Instead, they get a second chance to turn in their work. If they still don't turn it in, they still don't get a zero, at least not until their parents have been contacted.

Kids who get their stuff in on time don't get extra credit, but now DISD will throw a bone to the ones who totally blow off school, because it's not "fair" to them to be punished because they didn't do what they were told.

WTF? If the whole point of school is to prepare these kids for the "grown up" world, then the school district should be held accountable for NOT doing its job. Teaching these kids that they can just blow off assignments without repercussion sells them all short and sets them up for failure. Getting their parents involved seems like a great idea, but that should have happened in grade school, so doing it now probably won't amount to a hill of beans.

You think my boss will throw me a bone if I blow off a meeting or decide not to turn in a project? Hell no. Oh wait, maybe he'll call my mom first, before he fires me.

These kids are going to learn that in the real world, my boss would just give me another chance to do what I should have done we he asked me the first time.

And those overachieving idiots who actually do the work they are asked to do will just sit back and say nothing when I'm given a second chance to do my work? I think not.

Second, the "I can't believe I just read this" award should go to Ken Smith, the senior lecturer in criminology at Bucks New University in Buckinghamshire, England. He went public in a big way with his ideas this week on He's suggesting that we just do away all together with punishing students for misspelling. Read the full story here:
Making an Arguement for Misspelling (sic).

His argument is that these poor dumb bastards can't spell and will never be able to spell, and an educator who spends time correcting spelling mistakes is taking away from the real teaching he could be doing. What a crock of crap!

Ok, so maybe this blog should have been two postings, not glommed into one. I am just SO pissed off that this is tolerated!!! A school district, for Pete's sake, telling kids it's ok not to do their homework! If they aren't teaching kids to do their work, who is going to? And an educator (I use this term very loosely) saying it's ok not to spell correctly? Again, if a teacher isn't teaching it, who the hell is going to?

These kids can't spell because they are not being held accountable for spelling. They text message, email, and IM their friends all day, and their friends don't care if things are spelled correctly, or in many cases, spelled at all. Their parents are either too busy, too disconnected, or too stupid themselves to teach their kids. And now, the school districts and some educators are outright giving up the fight.

What a shock this group of kids is going to get when they finally hit the workplace!

I feel like a crotchety old middle age person, but I just don't understand why this is ok - with anyone! I'm not really blaming teachers (well, except for the one stupid enough to get on with his theories), because heaven knows most of them try hard to teach what needs to be taught. And please save the flaming emails. If you're a good teacher and you care, you can feel validated that there are LOTS of good ones of you out there, including some I'm related to directly.

I guess I really blame all of us: Parents who allow their children not to learn, because either they don't know themselves or they just don't care. Teachers who tolerate poor study habits and non-participation, then change grades after the fact to move the troublemakers out of their classrooms and into the next. Newscasters who for some godforsaken reason cannot write copy without dangling modifiers. Email writers who tell people to contact "myself" with questions. Bloggers who don't use punctuation, or capital letters, or correct spelling. The Rosie O'Donnells of the world who blog to a huge audience and can't be bothered to write like they've ever had an hour of education in their lives.

We ought to be using the tools we have in this age of instantenous global communication to improve our lives and our writing and our educational levels. Instead, it just looks like we are using the tools to spread the word about what's wrong, not doing something to fix it. And that's a damn shame.

I'm through now, I think. Thanks for reading and have a nice day.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

She gets it, sort of

Some mornings are just worth starting. And today was one of those.

I think every little girl ought to know that her dad's got her back. She needs to know without hesitation that her daddy will be there for her, no matter what. Whether it be a scuffle on the playground, or mean girls in junior high, or a broken heart in college, every little girl deserves to know her daddy's got her back. So I've been telling her that, often.

This is how it played out this morning:

LittleG? LittleG? Wake up, my love, it's time to start our day.

Hi, Mom.

Did you have a good night?

I got up to go potty and Daddy tucked me in.

That was nice of him.

Yeah, Daddy's got his back on me.

And there you have it, folks.

Rain, Rain, Falling Down!!

First, Happy Birthday Mom and Addison! We wish we could have been there with you today to celebrate, but keeping Typhoid Mary home seemed like a better idea. We love you guys!

For the record, as I began this blog today, it is 3:20 pm on Sunday, August 17. Here's what our local ABC affiliate has on its website about our weather......

Yes! It says it's 84º. In Texas. In August. During what should be the hottest part of the day. I actually can walk out on the patio barefooted without my skin searing and sticking to the pavestones. I may even be able to cook the cedar plank salmon for our dinner outside on the grill without getting heat stroke.

There are birds in the yard again. I don't know where they go when it gets too hot to breathe, but they are back, and that's all that matters. The squirrels are tormenting the dogs, and I don't have to worry about heat exhaustion for rodent or canine. (You might wonder why I care about heat exhausted rodents, but if you have to ask, you've never met Lilly, or seen her bring a dead squirrel carcass to the back door. But that's another blog).

It's probably worth noting that during 3 out of the next 4 days, we're forecast to have rain and thunderstorms. Please note that the highs don't get much into the 90s, and Tuesday night, a bone chilling low of 69º is in store for us.

CAN. NOT. WAIT.!!!!!

After a brutal few weeks of 100+ temperatures, it looks like we are in for manageable heat, and maybe some much needed rain. I understand from the guys on TV that "Rain" is that wet substance that falls inexplicably from the sky. They say there will probably be enough rain make mud in the yard where the grass used to live, before it turned brown and burned to a crisp.

The weather guys are all in a dither, using phrases like "severe thunderstorms" and "chance of localized flooding." Like either one of those is such a bad thing! I say BRING. IT. ON.

I woke in the night last night because our house seemed unreasonably still and quiet. I realized that the A/C unit had cut off for the first time in probably 3 weeks. I got up and checked the thermostat on the wall to see if it had cut out because it finally burned itself up, or if it had in fact brought our house to a comfortable temperature. I was shocked and ecstatic to see that the A/C had not died and in fact had brought the temperature in our house down BELOW the set point on the unit. Alert the media!!

So there is hope that Casa Garcia won't explode from the heat this week. If we can get LittleG well, everything will be right and good in the world.....

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Rotavirus, you ugly bastard

LittleG has been bitten again, and I suspect it was by the Rotavirus bug. We've been through this a few times, and at least it seems to be getting easier on all of us. According to a number of medical websites, Rotavirus is one of the most common causes of diarrhea, and severe infection. Children with a rotavirus infection have fever, nausea, and vomiting, often followed by abdominal cramps and frequent, watery diarrhea. So goes life at Casa Garcia this weekend.

Rotavirus, from the Latin
Roto-Rooter, is proof of a vengeful God as far as I can tell. It is clearly designed to clean out the pipes in the most unpleasant of ways.

We've escaped the throwing up part, but not the tummy ache and various and sundry fun things that go along with that. I thought the worst had passed (no pun intended), but she's back at it again.

My mother and my niece have a shared birthday celebration tomorrow, and unfortunately, we will miss both of them. This started on Thursday evening and really isn't showing any signs of subsiding, so I'm just hanging on for the ride at this point.

Did I mention Thursday was my birthday? What a great way to spend a birthday evening......

At this point I'm forcing bananas and pedialyte popsicles. The worst part of all is that she wants to eat but whatever I give her blows right through her. As I write, she's scarfing down toast. Cross your fingers.

The upside is that all this time at home has given me some good ideas for future posts. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Babies, Babies, Everywhere!

What is it about new babies that makes them so fabulous? Is it the soft skin, that wonderful baby lotion smell, the promise of a new life? The little noises they make? The gurgles and giggles and smiles they can’t control?

Fabulous. All of it, just fabulous!

This has been a particularly fertile year for the people in my immediate orbit. From my niece who was born in September to girlfriends at work and friends of our family, each little person brings something new to the party.

This blog celebrates the lives of 12 special babies and the people who love them:

Catherine C. ~ September 14, 2007
Emma A. ~ December 27, 2007
Davis W. ~ February 9, 2008
Finley L. ~ February 20, 2008
Cameron A. ~ April 14, 2008
Syndey B. ~ April 17, 2008
Natalie G. ~ May 2, 2008
Emma E. ~ May 28, 2008
Gavin S. ~ June 20, 2008
Katelyn D. ~ June 28, 2008
Rylee M. ~ July 31, 2008
Madison M. ~ August 5, 2008

In this group, most remarkably, there are 12 little minds who know no bounds.

When I think about how technology has changed in my lifetime, I am almost overwhelmed at the possibilities for the technology these children will have at their disposal. What new gadget is some geek out there working on right now that one of these children might ultimately use to impact life as we know it?

Will one of these grow up to cure cancer? Win the New York Marathon? Find an alternative energy source that will save our planet? Maybe one will be the next president of the USA, or the guy who pulls the rug out from under the president someday.

Whatever their destiny, I know at the very least that these children will touch those who love them to their very core. Welcome to our world, little ones. We’re glad you’re here.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

On Saturday

I was reminded today (thanks, Aunt Carol!) about a piece that my aunt wrote after my grandfather died. I was only four when he passed away, and my memories of him are fleeting. This piece is beautiful in its simplicity, and I think it's worthy of being seen by whomever will take the time to read it.

On Saturday
He died on a Saturday morning. He went quickly and quietly through a narrow door that separates breath from silence. He knew only a little pain.
He lived as he died, quietly, easily, unafraid.
He lived with faith and hope in a world of despair.
He lived with happiness and love in a world of hate.
He lived with pride in a world of disgrace.
He lived with patriotism in a world of anger, with peace in a world of turmoil, with loyalty in a world of deceit.
He lived with optimism in a world of pessimism: he saw blue skies in a world of black clouds.
He lived simply in a world of confusion, kindly in a world of cruelty, relaxed in a tense society.
He loved the young, with all their ignorance and all the stars in their eyes that reflected the twinkle in his own.
He loved laughter amid tears of pain and despair.
He loved blue: blue eyes, blue skies, blue seas in a world growing black with fear and pollutants.
He loved a puppy, frisky and bright and eager to try whatever he asked of her. He loved the love she returned to him.
He loved a wife and family that tried to show the love they knew for him, as he loved the children of his children who told him of love in their laughter.
He died on a Saturday morning. He left no will, no money. But in his death he left a wealth of love.
He was my dad.

~ Darla-Jean Ogg

The ones who don't matter

I’m always trying to impart the wisdom of time to LittleG in ways that she can hold on to forever. You know, the sticky-note-of-life kind of sayings? The one I’m contemplating this weekend is this….

“The ones who matter will know, and the ones who don’t matter, just don’t matter!”

I say this because I’ve seen in my own life, and I’ve lurked enough on the blogs of others to know that we all get our knickers in a twist at times because people believe one thing about us when clearly what they believe is not right. It’s not fair, and it sucks, but there’s really not a damn thing you can do about it.

Case in point. I left a job in 2000 where I had worked for five years because I had a chance to get a better job making more money and doing better work. At the same time I was leaving, the receptionist who had been there for two decades was also leaving. Becky got a big beautiful write up in the company newsletter, and I got nada. Zip. Zilch. Nothing.

It hurt my feelings at the time because I felt like people would think I’d been fired. It was important to me that everyone know that I had made that change by my own volition. I wanted the write up in the newsletter. I wanted to be publicly thanked for my five years of service and wished well as I packed my little box to move on to the next place. Instead, nothing. No email, no parade in my honor, no breakfast with bagels and muffins. Nada.

I bitched and moaned to pretty much anyone who would listen and it finally dawned on me that the people that mattered to me – my friends, family, immediate coworkers and sales reps who knew me from all over the country would know that I had made the decision to leave. They had heard from me where I was going and what I would be doing. The people who mattered to me would know.

And the folks that didn’t matter, well, they just didn’t matter. Who the hell cares if some guy I don’t know in Podunk North Dakota thinks I got fired? Was my service to this particular company going to be tarnished by some random guy who all of a sudden realized I wasn’t there any more? Big whoop if it was. Here’s the beauty of it – his opinion of me just flat doesn’t matter.

I’ve found that this is a good lesson to hold on to. It’s too easy to be concerned that so-and-so at the office looks down on you because you’re not a size zero and all your clothes don’t come from Ann Taylor or what such-and-such salesperson thinks about your numbers in comparison to his. It’s a cinch to get sucked in to what the neighbors think about the state of your yard or the time you spend away from home. The fact of the matter is that the people who matter to you will know your situation, and the folks that don’t matter, well, they just don’t matter.

So don’t get sucked in to what others know or think they know about you. Just do your thing, keep your head up, and never let the haters get you down. Because, frankly, the haters just don’t matter.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Zoey 201, Starring Jamie Lynn Spears

Ok, I’m going to crawl up on my high horse and rant for a while about this. Give me a break, will you? I have a daughter who is thankfully too young to understand or be affected by the recent stupidity of Jamie Lynn Spears and her handlers. My kid’s been insulated thus far, but thousand of others have not. For that, I have deemed Zoey, her mother, and those idiots at Nickelodeon rant worthy this week.

With the future of the Zoey 101 series in question after the show’s 16 year old star managed to get herself knocked up, the writers have pitched their new show ideas for the 2008 fall season. Check them out here!

Zoey 201
Episode 1 – Spring Dance!
As the 2008 Spring Formal approaches, Zoey is devastated to learn that she can’t squeeze into her brand new White House Black Market Evora Cocktail dress. Turns out that size zero doesn’t really work when your baby bump finally pops. And worse than that, she can no longer wear her adorable shoes and has to shove her fat feet into flip-flops and hope that her ankles don’t swell before fourth period.

Episode 2 – Baby Got Back!
Zoey is perplexed by the changes in her body, but she loves her new curves! Her boobs are huge now, which Casey the baby daddy just loves. That ship has sailed my friend. No huggy, no kissee, until she gets a weddin’ ring.

Episode 3 – And Baby Makes Three
Zoey and her entourage are in line at Starbucks when her water breaks, sending them all scrambling to the hospital. Zoey, who has been worried about getting ink in the national tabloids, hasn’t even finished her childbirth classes! Ill prepared for the miracle of birth, she can hardly believe the explanation she gets when she asks what an episiotomy is.

Episode 4 – Forever is an Awfully Long Time
Zoey and her baby daddy bring their little bundle of joy home to their gazillion dollar mansion, cleverly evading the paparazzi by having Hannah Montana make a surprise appearance at the hospital. Their happiness is short lived, however, when they discover that their little bundle of joy requires some level of parental involvement. You know, the 24/7 kind – diapers, food, lullabies, clothing, shelter, nurturing, and on and on and on.

Episode 5 – The True Price of Happiness
Diapers and onesies and bottles, oh my! Zoey learns the hard way how much a baby can cost when she finds out she’s got to give up her Blackberry so she can pay for diapers. Aw, Zoey. Sucks to be you! You should have thought of this before banging your boyfriend before you were old enough to drive legally, and for being foolish enough to get caught in a big way. No pun intended.

Episode 6 – The Hostile Takeover
Since Zoey’s big sis has been in so much trouble, Zoey’s Daddy has been appointed to oversee her finances and keep her life in check. Zoey’s mom has been running the show, and she has clearly made some REALLY stupid choices. The court appoints Daddy to oversee Zoey’s affairs. Too bad Daddy wasn’t in charge when Mom decided to turn Zoey’s pregnancy and subsequent delivery into a media circus, complete with front cover tabloid coverage. Will Daddy’s involvement bring the family closer together or tear them apart? Tune in to see!

Episode 7 – Season Finale – Goin’ to the Chapel
After the first exhausting weeks at home with their spawn, Zoey and her baby daddy decide to take the plunge. Zoey is so excited because she just knows that being married is going to be the best!!! All her problems will be solved and she will be in love forever. Having a baby may be hard, but when they get married, everything will be easier! Join Zoey as she shops for mommy-and-me wedding attire and plans every excruciating detail of her magical day. This episode brought to you by the good folks at OK Magazine, David’s Bridal, and Pampers.

Next season, on Zoey 201, the first year, things get touchy at home as the happy couple and their baby grow up together. Zoey, our new Mrs. Baby Daddy, battles with her nannies – the one her dad hired to take care of her, and the one she hired for her own child. Watch as her parents fight to see who can pimp her out for their own personal gain. Don’t miss a single exciting moment!

I have to say that this isn’t aimed at Jamie Lynn. She’s just a young, dumb kid who made some bad choices, and found herself pregnant at 16. I applaud her for the decision she made not to end her pregnancy, because, truly, that would have been the easy way out. For everyone, I guess, except her baby.

The real targets of this rant are Jamie Lynn’s mother, Lynne, and the folks over at Nick. When she found out Jamie Lynne was pregnant, Lynne should have taken her immediately out of the spotlight. Instead of taking her to some nice quiet place to give birth and raise her child, Lynne turned her daughter’s illegitimate pregnancy into a media event.

When news of the pending arrival made it to Nick, instead of sending a very clear message to teens everywhere that teenage pregnancy is NOT ok, the studio hoo hahs issued a statement that they stand behind her. They even kept her show on the air. Why take this chance to send a moral message to the teens of this nation when instead you can continue to milk your cash cow for all it’s worth?

Shame on Lynne, and shame on Nick for the way they handled this. Let's face it - kids are going to mess up. Lord knows I made my share of bad choices back in the day. But I didn't do it in the public eye, and the folks who took care of me certainly didn't air my dirty laundry on the front cover of OK Magazine and on the airwaves.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Mechanics say the darndest things!

I don’t know the origin of this or if it’s true, but it’s funny stuff, so I thought I would share .

After every flight, UPS pilots fill out a form, called a “gripe sheet,” which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft. The mechanics correct the problems, document their repairs on the form, and then pilots review the gripe sheets before the next flight.

Never let it be said that ground crews lack a sense of humor. Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by UPS pilots (marked with a P) and the solutions recorded (marked with an S) by maintenance engineers.

By the way,UPS is the only major airline that has never, ever, had an accident.

P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.

S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

P: Something loose in cockpit.
S: Something tightened in cockpit.

P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back-order.

P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent.
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.

P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.

P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That's what friction locks are for.

P: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you're right.

P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.

P: Aircraft handles funny.
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right and be serious.

P:Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.

P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.

And the best one for last . . .

P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from midget.

Did this conversation really just happen?


Yes, LittleG.

I get a car when I turn 16, right?

Who told you that you get a car when you turn 16?

I don't know, Mom. I just know. I'm really smart. So, do I get a car when I turn 16?

I don't know, Sugar, we'll have to see. Maybe you can have this car when you turn 16.

What car will you have, Mom?

Maybe Mom will have a new car by then.

Mom, I've got a plan. How about you keep this car and I get a new car?

I'm not sure I like that plan. Let's talk again about this - 11 years from now work for you?

WTF...she's not even 5 yet, and she's already negotiating for a car, and a new one at that. Clearly, I am ill equipped to deal with this!!!