Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Inspired by Green as a Thistle (Thanks, Ouiser and Feather Nester!), I have started an experiment this month. As we went through our finances recently (taxes--ech), I saw we had a pretty high gas bill, which includes the dryer. Thus I have decided that for at least the next month, I am not going to use my dryer, except for super heavy stuff, like a load of towels. I'll even try to avoid that. I didn't know if DH would jump on board, as he sometimes gets slightly exasperated when I try to green up the place. He cares about the environment as well; he just takes a more practical view and doesn't like buying $5 organic apples that tend to dwarf the average "regular" one, and the like. However, I believe he got on board, partly because it may save us money. Yes, I knew how to pitch it to make it sound good. Teachers and salespeople know their audience, especially since we usually pitch a product that our audience doesn't want.

I'm also considering organic shampoo and conditioner. I like the Avalon Organics products, and we can also get Jason products at our grocery store. And since the latter has the same name as my awful ex-boyfriend, that just shows my commitment to greening it up. ;-) The handkerchief route still grosses me out a little, but I'll consider it. I think that's all I can handle for now, but as Bill Murray pointed out in What about Bob?, it all starts with baby steps.

The back has improved. Fortunately I have a husband who makes freezable gel packs for a living, so I have one propped up between me and the chair right now. This little hiccup may keep me out of our charity faculty basketball game, but I play so poorly, it may help my team....

Have a great day!

Feeling Old

This Saturday I finally cleaned my office, throwing out papers that had long since passed their usefulness and the like. I innocently bent over to do this, leaning forward from a seated position. Upon sitting up, I felt a sudden giant twinge in my lower back near my tailbone which subsequently shot down my leg. My friend Dr. M’s diagnosis? Sciatica. Sciatica?! Doesn’t that happen to older people, like my FIL? No, it can happen to anyone. Basically, I pinched a nerve in my lower back, sending pain shooting into that area and my right leg. Scarlet, if your chronic pain feels anything like what I had for just a day, I bow down to you and commend you even more for living on a daily basis with this. I spent Saturday on the floor either icing or heating it, downing ibuprofen. If I rolled over to get up, I found myself gasping in pain.

However, I don’t simply mean to complain; I want to advise you all to constantly and carefully stretch your lower back and hamstrings, and make sure your abs can support your back. I also want to praise DH for waiting on me hand and foot, ensuring that I had to get up as little as possible and even attempting to help me navigate the bathroom. Truly, that is love.

And, looks like I need to see No Country for Old Men. I thought Atonement would get the Best Picture nod, for sure. Glad I didn’t place any bets.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Last Night's Lunar Eclipse

Found some pictures for you all:

Nyack, NY

Behind the Buenos Aires Obelisk

La Concordia, Mexico

10:00 pm, Great Falls, VA

DH and I saw it last night--one of the benefits of living in a place with cold, clear winter nights. Nature never ceases to awe me with what it can do. No matter how advanced we get, I don't think we'll ever create anything that surpasses the wonder of what simply goes on around us. (This is also why I think we have to take care with global warming, but I digress.)

Anyway, the eclipse looked pretty amazing. I can't even imagine what my FIL saw through his telescope. The next one won't appear for another three years.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"Reality" Television

I'm off this week, so I'm enjoying spending time in the morning with my husband and getting a lot of things done around the house. For example, I ironed clothing that I haven't worn for literally a year because I just didn't find (or make) the time to iron. Very soothing, really, and now I can finally wear button-down shirts again. Laziness or busyness? Judge me as you will.

As I sit at my computer, the room lit by the reflection of about a foot or so of snow that fell yesterday, I realize that vacation is a great time to catch up on TV, which I'm trying desperately hard NOT to do. I vowed this year I would tear myself away from the idiot box and get back into reading, cleaning, exercising, anything to keep me from flipping channels mindlessly. Also, I think the writers' strike, thankfully ended, led to an even greater excess of "reality" shows, which I have always contended should be called "Contrived-Taped-Live-Cheaper-Than-Scripted-Little-Talent-Desperate-for-
Stardom-Has-Absolutely Nothing-To-Do-With-Reality" television. American Gladiators is back? Dance Wars? And my favorite, some horrible thing on FOX (surprise) called The Moment of Truth, where people ask each other terrible, hurtful questions to see if they will answer for money. The latest promo I saw involved a wife asking a husband if he had ever cheated on her. It has certainly helped me turn off the TV. One site had about 229 "reality shows" listed, although the list includes shows like Mythbusters on The Discovery Channel (a fascinating show, really) and NOVA. But seriously, over 200?

This just proves my theories that we need to be more discerning in what we choose to watch or the obesity rate will continue to skyrocket and that we actually have to choose, to consciously decide what we do with our time. On that note, I'm going to grab some lunch and do something constructive!

Enjoy your day, folks.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Fun Search Engine

Check this out: Go to www.msdewey.com and just wait. It's a search engine, but they clearly taped this woman who interacts with you, including getting bored and throwing things at the screen if you wait too long to type something. It is a legitimate search engine, but it's also fun to watch Ms. Dewey get impatient.

I got this from my students. While they should have been researching for their paper, I found myself hard-pressed not to laugh at Ms. Dewey.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Shower Update

I called DH at work yesterday and the first words out of his mouth were about the awesomeness of the shower. He actually got to work late because he could not get out of the shower. No joke. :-)

Happy Valentine's Day, folks! T and I both have practice (crew for him, singing for me) tonight, so we'll "celebrate" by watching LOST when we get home and go out to dinner this weekend.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It's the Little Things

It’s amazing how a different shower head and peppermint soap can give you a new lease on life. I may become a fanatical shower addict, obsessively clean because of these two additions to my life.

But I've started midstream; let me backtrack. I think I have complained that since we got a new, higher shower head for DH (who is 6’5”), our water pressure has changed in our shower to that of a half-filled watering can desperately trying to quench flowers in mid-July heat. Like that extended metaphor there? We had one of those “rain” heads, the huge ones that actually kind of look like the many-holed end of a watering can. Tra-la, yay, it will feel like we’re under a downpour! Nothing but a light drizzle. Ech. When trying to wash long hair, this does not help. Thus we changed back to the old head, which sprays everywhere, but the pressure ROCKS. Thank goodness for pliers and waterproof tape; I got that sucker put together in 10 minutes with a little elbow grease.

Add to that, I went shopping for hand cream with SPF in it (more about that in a sec) and ended up buying Mentha Body Vitamin Body Wash from C.O. Bigelow (found at Bath and Body Works) simply because it smelled of peppermint. I won’t get graphic, but what a fantastic combo this morning of water pressure and tingly peppermint! If you have not had the pleasure, I strongly suggest getting some (not cheap, but worth it). The tingle lasts even after you've toweled off!

I really went because of what I read recently in Real Simple about the fact that we as women often neglect our hands in the everyday fight against skin cancer and UVB rays. Think about how older women’s hands look—that and the wattle neck show aging quite obviously, in my book. They suggested using hand cream with SPF in it. Well, I can tell you that it’s not as easy to find as you may think. After searching the web, I finally ended up going onto the Skin Cancer website to see what they suggested and bought True Blue Spa’s Glove Me Tender (corny name, I know) hand cream, SPF 15. Also not entirely cheap, but honestly, a pea-size amount truly does do the trick. Just a suggestion. The Skin Cancer site also has sunscreens and other moisturizers listed that they deem strong fighters against UVA and UVB rays.

P.S. If you don’t think sun does damage, my dad’s hands stand as a classic example: He’s played golf all of his life and the hand he wears a glove on is lily white and baby-soft. The other one is permanently tanned with rough skin and age spots.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Puppy Pictures

Go to The Daily Puppy link I have to see what our future doggie may well look like, sans the Zsa Zsa Gabor dog bed.

Poets, Theories, Book Challenges--the usual light stuff

Yesterday in my book group we were discussing the poem “Codicil” by Derek Walcott that had the line “To change your language you must change your life”, and it sparked this enormous discussion. What does that really mean? What do we mean by language? There’s the idea of code-switching, IE You don’t always speak to your friends the same way you speak to a superior at work or your grandmother or an interviewer. Does that make a person insincere, or does it mean she just knows her audience? This led to us mentioning Atticus Finch (OK, it was a room full of English teachers, bear in mind) and the fact that “he’s the same inside his house as he is on the public streets.” Does that mean he has more integrity and sincerity because he acts one way? What do all of you think?

This also led us to talk about actions versus intentions. Which follows the other, or do they come about simultaneously? When you make a change in your life, do you have the intention first and then commit the action, or the opposite? Some said that we really do the action first and then it becomes our intention. I mentioned it to DH, who pointed out that you have to have a certain amount of sincerity involved, meaning that people’s actions and their intentions do not always gel. You’ll have a person who says she meant one thing (intention) but in reality, she had another motive in mind when she acted. Does that make sense? Let me know if it doesn’t.

On another English-related note, a local Buffalo area high school has received press because a handful of parents have protested the use of the book Looking for Alaska in an 11th grade class. The teacher sent home permission slips telling the parents about the fact that the book has some explicit language and a few sexually explicit scenes (very few; they’re certainly not the focus of the novel). 97% of the parents signed the form; the other 3% have gotten into an uproar, calling the book inappropriate and pornographic. Mind you, none of the objectors have read the novel. One of the most vocal women does not even have a student in the class.

I cannot stand this sort of hypocrisy. In my experience and in speaking to others, I have found that most parents who object to books read in school have not read them; they have only heard about them from others. They then take the moral high ground, making it difficult for teachers and students alike. If you to go the ALA (American Library Association) and look at the most commonly banned books, some will have you mind-boggled. Oh sure, Harry Potter I understand—although vehemently disagree with—because of the Satanic witchcraft it obviously supports and encourages kids to practice (sarcasm noted?), never mention the fact that Rowling got MILLIONS of people reading. But others, like the Anastasia Krupnik books by Lois Lowry, I cannot understand.

Everyone has the right to his or her opinion, but with regard to school texts, teachers, for the most part, take a great deal of care to expose (pun slightly intended) their students to a variety of texts, and some may actually imitate certain portions of real life. However, they also take great time and care to ensure the students read appropriate, insightful material. Bottom line, have your opinion but make sure it’s an informed opinion. Otherwise, you’re complaining without merit or anything substantial to back yourself up. OK, climbing down off the old soapbox now. I could’ve kept going but wanted to spare you all. :-)

And wasn't LOST bizarre? I love it.

Enjoy your weekend!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Wind Day Wednesday, LOST

OK, a few days late for this, but on Wednesday we had no school not because of snow...because we had steady 40mph and higher wind going ALL DAY. The highest gust registered at 90mph, we had constant 60mph gusts, people had no power, windows blew out, and my friend L's Pomeranian got knocked over by a particularly strong gust. Lancelot weighs next to nothing (hence the strong, ironic name), so I laughed pretty hard at that image...only because I knew he was fine. I am not a meanie, laughing at little doggies getting knocked over by windiness. Of course I could have blogged that day, but, honestly, this room gets really cold and I had gotten cozy in my bed. I'm not bragging; they don't close school for us, the teachers, but for the kids. Case in point: Friday we had a conference day and received about an inch or so of icy slush, making it very difficult to drive, and they didn't close for us. How rude. Or, I should just suck it up and enjoy the one day off I had.

Switching gears completely, what did people think of LOST? I'm not sure, although they've got me intrigued with the continuation of flash-forwards. I did feel a little shortchanged that the "two hour season premiere" included a full hour of recap to get new viewers involved--that seemed like a ploy to me. How will they play it out? Will this future remain unchanged? If so, I have to admit, that seems like a real downer. And how can you call a show LOST if it continues with the "Oceanic Six" eventually going back to the island? Doesn't that change the concept of the show? Will they have to change it to Rescue Those We Left Behind Who Aren't Actually Lost Anymore? I don't know, but I'm excited to find out.