Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Work Out

I need to work out more. When I go to bed after having spent much of the day at the computer, my legs want to stretch and I can't get comfortable.

I feel like I have worked out. During the day, in my writings, I jump from a cliff into a raging river, I travel miles across a desert, I go to a regular work out class (for assassins), I save lives, I run and hide . . . I feel like I've had a work out! But my mind's still running and working out when I go to bed and my legs stretch and stretch.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Coat

It all started with a swim meet, and a team from Iowa that traveled in a huge bus down to southern New Mexico. At first, I was a mom accompanying the team. The meet was over and I had a chance to swim.

So I jumped in and swam and swam and swam -- not wanting to end it. The other two swimmers (members of the team) were much faster and adept than I, but it didn't matter; I still had fun. (It occurred to me that I was so much better than I had ever been before. But still, why am I so slow? Oh, then I'd remember to kick my feet.) Then it was time to get ready to leave. The swimming pool was on a level at the top of a spire, and the next level down was wider and had more swimming pools. We looked over the edge and could see a kiddie pool filled with playing children. The girl swimmer next to me said something I couldn't catch, but at the end it sounded like "weenie." I bent down to pick up a piece of glass at our bare feet; the girl bent down as if to pick up a pebble, said it again, "This hotel is so sweeny," and jumped -- dived -- headfirst down into the kiddie pool. I thought she'd died -- I heard and felt two booms -- when she hit the water and when she hit the bottom.

Someone took a picture of it and posted it on the Internet and everyone knew about the stupid thing this girl did. But she was alive! And apparently unharmed. I told her I thought she was dead, and she spread her arms as if offering me to look -- not even a bruise. I retorted, "That doesn't mean anything. You can really deep bruises that don't show up for hours." Then we had to inform the coach, who was perhaps the ONLY person in the hotel who didn't know what happened. The girl was in trouble.

But she told everyone she had slipped or someone had pushed her. I kept my mouth closed, but had to decide whether I would lie with her or tell the truth -- what I saw -- when the time came. Surely they would ask me. But I liked the girl. Still I decided if and when the officials asked me I'd tell the truth. I figured the girl would be banned from any more swim meets, but oh well. She was a senior and this had been her last swim meet, anyway. Oh, and maybe she wouldn't be awarded the medals for her performance this meet.

So we all piled into the bus, which was more like a private RV. The guy driving was the owner, one of the dads. I was in the back, so I couldn't see the road signs as they came up. But I was able to point out things I like about New Mexico to the women and kids around me. At one point, we were sitting at a perfect vantage point to see the Sandias looming above us. I pointed out La Luz trail, told how high the mountain was in altitude, how high from the valley floor, etc. (The kids were listening with interest! Well, I guess if they were from Iowa . . .)

At some point, I realize that I'm seeing signs for some car dealership, and the signs look like regular highway signage. I go to the front and ask, "Are we lost?" No, says the navigating wife. No, says the driver. "Do we have a map?" I'm always needing to check a map. I love maps and rely on them. We don't have one.

Well, I don't think this is right. We're going into mountains, but the road is too wide, the curves too broad, for the type of road I expected for going over the pass. Sure enough, this "highway" is a dead end, luring unsuspecting travelers to a car dealership (Geo and Chevrolet). We stop at the end and work to turn the huge RV around. Everyone's disgusted with the deceit and without saying anything to the dealer, who's trying to get us to stay for awhile, we show our disgust with our expressions. So now we're going back the way we came. And I'm thinking of the correct road ahead and getting scared.

"I don't know," I tell the driver. "Maybe we need to reconsider this going over the pass." The road I know has hairpin turns -- ones I'm not sure this monster would be able to negotiate. I try to get the driver to take the long way around, using the freeways, but the driver assures me this baby can handle the turns. Well, okay. So we pick another road that seems like it. We go higher and higher in elevation and the road becomes dirt, then mud, and narrower and narrower, and I'm getting really scared, but there's no going back and no where to turn around.

We take a break next to railroad tracks. One of the women, the wife of the driver, has a bag of rails and for some reason she's shaking it, and the rails fall out, all over the tracks in the ground. And there's a train coming and we don't have time to pick up the rails, and we know it's going to cause the train to derail. We just barely have time to pile back into the RV.

A MAN comes to get us. No, that's not quite right. HE is going to come get us. In the meantime, we are to dress like we dress normally (actually, we gathered this meant with an entire outfit, including coats, gloves, etc.) And HE will tell us what we have to give up (in payment for causing the train's derailment?)

Now I left out the disjointed conversations going on in the back during our trip -- what was going to happen to the girl who dived into the kiddie pool, whether we should disguise ourselves (everyone was wearing a t-shirt with the team name on it) in case the whole world knows of this girl's stupidity and cover up our team name with jackets, etc. I had put aside my own jacket and another dad (a grandfather riding with us) had folded it and tied all the ties in firm knots.

Already, people are being called out, one by one. What they have to "give up" is usually little -- even as small as a thread -- and they place it on a flat open space at the front of the bus. But I have no idea of the significance of these things to the person having to give them up. They could be really, really important.

I am fumble-fingered at getting the knots on my folded jacket undone. And when I put on my glasses, they fall apart, and I'm having to put them on, piece by piece -- first the frames, oops, no, put the nose cushions on the frames first (people help me find those, and find a girl's lost earring in the process), and then pop the lenses in, and now I can see to untie the knots on my jacket.

I am acutely aware of the time passing, and my turn is coming up. What if I don't have my jacket on in time? What if I present myself not as I normally am? I am afraid. (Although the MAN is a shadowy figure like the Wizard of Oz was behind the curtain, it feels like HE is God and can do anything to us.)

Then it happens. Boone, my son, refuses to put his coat on. "I made him wear that for killing Olade," my husband says. I am aghast. But not completely in denial. Boone goes before the MAN without his coat on -- exposed. And I hear, like a whisper in the wind, I forgive him the sin. It felt like Boone was rejecting the identity that wearing the coat would mean. And because he rejected it and opened himself up even more, he received more than any of the rest of us.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Big Pepsi Machine Incident

Note -- apparently the ampersand (that little symbol above the 7 on your keyboard) is not allowed. So I am using the plus sign instead. Sorry, A+S professors.

I'm taking Reading 100 online as a student in preparation for teaching it online. One of the assignments is to find 10 vocabulary words that I don't know or am not sure about and look up their definitions and use them in my own sentences. Ehrenreich's 221-page book netted me a total of eleven words I didn't know the definition of for sure. Some of the words were ones that I had seen before but just never really looked up (like "chartreuse" and "apotheosis") but there were some I had NEVER seen before -- words like "postprandial," "cineast," and "hortatory." All this looking up the words reminds me of the Big Pepsi Machine Incident.

First you gotta know the situation at work. I work for the Division of Educational and Career Advancement at CNM (Central New Mexico Community College). ECA is only the third name for where I work. It used to be call "Prep," because the classes taught there are preparatory to college. Then when I was hired, it was called Developmental Education, in contrast to the Adult Ed Dept. that taught Basic Literacy, GED Prep and ESL. Then the two departments were merged to form the Department of Adult and Developmental Education, or DADE. So at the time of the Pepsi Machine Incident, we had teachers who taught everything from the alphabet to high-school-level math and English. Our full-timers' offices occupied the south wing of the fifth floor of Max Salazar.

On the other side of the building, in the north wing, were the Arts and Sciences professors' offices. The A+S professors tend to think they are better educated than we (not true) and more intellectual than we (may be true). In the center of the building was a teachers' lounge, with tables to sit at, microwaves, refrigerators and sink -- in essence, a breakroom.

One day, a huge Pepsi machine appeared in the teachers' lounge. Oh, boy, was the reaction of my colleagues in DADE. Now we don't have to go down to the soda machines on the third floor.
But just as quickly, email complaints -- addressed to ALL DADE and ALL A+S -- spread like wildfire through the ether.

How crass! the emails complained. How commercial. The teachers' lounge was our refuge from the crass and commercial world, and now we can't get away from it. It's just so, so . . . intrusive. (These emails, by the way, seemed to come mostly from the A+S teachers.) It ruins the decor of the breakroom. (Decor?)

We laughed and shot emails back, at first trying to point out the positive, explaining that the machine's proximity is at least a nice thing for all the secretaries of our two departmental offices -- now they can run for a soda without taking a whole break. And now we wouldn't be dependent on the machines downstairs that tend to run out about mid-morning. And besides, isn't it a material world?

In response to each positive email, someone else added their own negative perspective, and the complaints built in passion and fury. Finally someone on our side wrote, "Sheesh. Take a Prozac." Someone else responded, "That's not funny." And he went on to describe his son who's depressed and has to take Prozac just to stay on an even keel. And we laughed. Not at his son, but at the all the professorial solipsism that seemed to say, Everything we do is important; how we feel is important; why won't anyone listen?

And we laughed.

But the pinnacle of this email exchange occurred with the English chair of A+S writing about this "corybantic moil." I don't even know what that means! my colleagues laughed. So we got out the dictionary and looked it up. So there you have it. A+S professors are better than we DADE teachers because we don't understand the words they use. That was the last time I looked up the definition of some vocabulary in the dictionary (short of thesaurus sorties for my writing) until this Reading 100 class. (But I tell you what -- I don't think I'll ever use "corybantic moil" in honest discourse.) And if you want to know what it means, look it up!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Nickel and Dimed

I've been reading Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed for awhile lately. (The subtitle is On (Not) Getting By in America.) My big question when I started it was how did she continue to work at minimum wage (I'd understood she'd tried this experiment of working for minimum wage for a whole year)? Did she quit as soon as she was offered a raise? Did she do a half-assed job so she wouldn't be given a raise?

On the back of the book, Studs Terkel (whoever he is) crows ". . . Nickel and Dimed is a stiff punch in the nose to those righteous apostles of 'welfare reform.' . . ." Well, I guess I'm one of those righteous apostles of "welfare reform." Having grown up in the South Valley, where there are many wonderful people, but also a great number of generational welfare recipients, I could easily see how welfare, as it was, quenched any self-reliance spirit in people.

I'm almost done with her third and final location. Haven't gotten into the evaluation, but I can see how things are going. If you go into something with an attitude, you're going to find all kinds of things to reinforce that attitude. For example, my husband is a "the glass is half empty" kind of guy, while I'm more "the glass is half full." Each of us constantly find things to reinforce our stances and miss the things that go against our attitudes (even when we are both looking at the exact same thing!) So yeah, Ehrenreich is finding all kinds of obstacles against her success, seeing the filth and negative about her without seeing the positive.

In her first location, she worked one partial day at the motel housekeeping job she'd been trying to get and when her other job (waitressing) had "the perfect storm" (which does happen) she'd had enough and walked out. I can't blame her for that, but the chapter says nothing more about her housekeeping job. We just know that her first day was also her last day. In a footnote, she mentions the motel later advertising the housekeeping work as paying $9.00 an hour, she checked it out and found out they were paying per room instead of $6.00 per hour as before. The per hour arrangement encouraged people to work more slowly to take more time and make more money. People making $9.00/hour were busting butt to get more done in less time (which is really the enterprising way).

So she made some bad decisions. If she HAD truly been "poor," she could have maybe learned from them and used what she learned to improve her lot. She couldn't live off of a waitress's $2.15/hour plus tips, during the off season in Florida, so she had to get another job. She got a second job that paid $6.00/hour. But fatigue (in trying to handle both jobs) got in the way of her ability to deal with the more stressful job. So she walks out on BOTH OF THEM? What if she had stayed with that housekeeping job, started making the same amount, but in less time? Then she would have had more time to look for a better job. Instead, this was the abrupt end of that particular experiment.

In her second location in Maine, she was working for a maid service and seemed to be doing okay financially. What was getting to her was the downtrodden state of her coworkers. It didn't so much bother them as it bothered her. She hated that they wanted to please their boss and do a good job. And the juxtapositioning of "servant poor" with "master rich" bugged her royally.

I have never had a maid clean my house although at some point, my husband wanted us to hire out that work. The thing is I would clean my house for my maid to come clean. I relate too much with the working poor. They are my roots; I am a part of them. And nothing is wrong with getting your hands dirty cleaning up your own messes.

But this is what gets me. Ehrenreich saw everything in terms of economic class. I did help a friend clean some houses. The people whose houses I cleaned had much nicer houses than mine. Sure, they were richer than I (I guess.) But I didn't see them as being in a different class. They just had more money than I. But Ehrenreich was always aware of herself as "actually a highly educated person, a PhD, in fact" who was pretending to be lower class. She always wondered if anyone would blow her cover -- like you can recognize a PhD by her carriage. And when at the end of this episode, she "came out," it was anticlimactic. It seems she expected everyone to react as if she had managed to cross the demilitarization zone in the night and spied on the "other side." The ladies just saw her as another person. (They should have realized she wasn't one; she was just pretending to be one.)

Interestingly enough, she got a raise while working in the service. So yeah, she quit right after getting the raise.

Just a note: I really enjoy Ehrenreich's writing. She has a nice style with just enough hard words to challenge me -- about one every 20-30 pages. (Hmm, guess I'm not PhD material.) But as you can tell, I don't agree with her politics, nor with her cynical outlook on life and the world. I feel sorry for her.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Danger, Danger!

Where, I ask you, is the absolute worst place a dog can lift his leg and direct his pee?

You might think into someone's food, and yeah, that's pretty bad, but I'm talking worst, as in potential for damage.

How about a live outlet?

This morning I'm just getting started on my computer work, and I hear a hissing sound behind me. I turn to see Tanker lifting his leg against our entertainment center. The pee is falling directly on a multiple outlet "surge protector" plugged into our TV, VCR, and game system. I yell at Tank, he runs, I dash over to the surge protector and it's humming. Oh, oh. Quick, I push the switch (oooh, pee). Then I feel safe enough to unplug it, unplug all the cords, clean it, plugs, floor, cabinet, and spray them with enzyme stuff, so the dogs don't smell urine and have to put their own mark down. Now I have the surge protector upside down, draining.

Of course when I yelled at him, Tanker ran, and I made him go outside. But I have no idea why all of a sudden he would do that. And there! I just thank God I was here when it happened.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

We've got DSL!! Da-da-d-dah-dah. (Doing the DSL dance.) Da-da-d-dah-dah.

You know how slow dialup can be? Well, supposedly it runs 56.8 kps through the line at a time. Except in my situation where we have a split phone line so that we can have two computers online at the same time, or a computer and the phone. (There are four computers in my household.) So whatever I get is being fed to my computer at 28.4 kps. That's why I don't ever open up photos friends send me, or funny videos, or anything intensive like that at home. I save it for work, which isn't a guarantee. I swear our computers at work were slower than my dialup last week!

During my break, I was working on a self-paced online class to learn our new WebCT. It's real fortunate it was self-paced. I'd click on a page and go get me some coffee or go brush my teeth while it loaded. The benefit was I had a good idea of how my own classes come across for those of my students who have dialup. But I think I got the idea now.

My son is a gamer and has been frustrated with our dialup situation. First, he definitely can't play any real time games online. Second, we were always battling for line time. You could hear the plaintive cry "Are you online?" at any time of the day or night -- Mike asking Boone, Shelli asking me, Boone asking Shelli, Mike asking Shelli, Boone asking me, me asking Mike . . . Last week, Boone brought up the possibility of getting hi-speed Internet, for the umpteenth time. Short of getting an expensive satellite setup, we couldn't, we explained (for the umpteenth time). The DSL access stopped just short of our road.

"No, we do have access," Boone said. "I just checked." Come to find out, this was the DAY after access to our road was opened up. It took about a week for all the kinks to be worked out, but what a difference. I don't have to worry about who's online! I don't have to time my online time so that our satellite can have the phoneline for downloading the programming information. Whoo-hoo!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

My To Do List

Here are the "jobs" I want to accomplish today.
1. Burn the paper trash.
2. Wash a load of darks.
3. Wash dishes.
4. Clean the bathrooms.
5. Create a "Syllabus Search" exercise for my two classes tomorrow.
If I have more time, I'd like to
6. Vacuum the living room and bathroom.
7. Sweep the kitchen.
8. Mop the kitchen and sections of the great room.

Now this looks like an innocuous little list, but let me tell you what some of those jobs involve. 2. Washing the load of dark clothes means that I pour the five five-gallon buckets full of rinse water into the washing machine before adding the detergent and clothes. In addition, it means draining bucket by bucket of wash water from the washing machine when it's finished with the wash cycle, and carrying those buckets to the bathroom to pour into the larger bucket. Then when that water is drained, it means pouring 12 to 16 gallons of water from gallon jugs, two by two, into the washing machine for the rinse cycle. Then draining that water, bucket by bucket, and pouring it into the five five-gallon buckets to save for the next load of clothes. Then the rest of the process (drying and folding) is the normal process.

3. Wash dishes means I pour 2 to 3 gallons of water into a stock pot from the gallon jugs and heat it up on the stove. Then I pour that water into the sink tubs, make suds, and hand wash the dishes, letting them drain in the dishwasher. The leftover dishwashing water gets used for flushing the toilet.

So I guess I'd better get started.

My Mother's Day

Mom is getting married tomorrow! And she's giddy as a school girl. Well, no, I'm giddy as a school girl.

She laughed when she told me over the phone that he's younger than she is -- by a few months. So they will both be 72 this year when their birthdays roll around. I'm so happy for her.

To be fully honest, after the shock of Dad's death wore off, I was happy for her. I love my dad, who really was my stepdad, but he raised me and my sister like we were his own children, but after we kids had left the nest, he became so dependent on my mom. He didn't want her to have a job; instead, he wanted her to ride around with him on his jobs. He resisted her getting into any interest of her own. She wanted to join the Sweet Adelines, a chorus group, for example. At that time, my dad had the excuse that the younger kids still needed her to be home in the evenings (but I think it was he who needed her.) After awhile, she just gave up trying to have a life of her own.

When she worked, she had a life separate from home. She had friends at work. But her needing to work to help pay the bills really hurt Dad in the ego, I think. And when they had to move, Dad made sure she didn't get another job. Dad was 12 years older than Mom, and as people tend to do when they get older, became more and more opinionated and narrow-minded. Mom wasn't there yet.

Once Mike and I visited Mom and Dad in their Silver City home. Mom and I had gone to spend the day with "the aunts" in Cliff, and Mom had left fixings for lunch in the refrigerator. Mike said the hour got late and he was hungry, but Dad just said, "Wanda will take care of that when she gets home." Finally, Mike pulled out the sandwich fixings and made himself (and Dad) some sandwiches. He was laughing about it when he told me about it. Funny thing is that Mike will do the same thing nowadays.

If I'm not home (for example, when I'm at a conference) Mike will forget to make himself a lunch and he'll go hungry all day. He just gets into the habit of relying on me. It's not that he can't cook for himself, but because I'm the one who buys the groceries and does most of the cooking, Mike doesn't even know what we have to cook with. (What gets me is he'd rather wait for me to get home than go into the various storage containers containing leftovers in the refrigerator.)

Back to Mom. Tomorrow, in a small ceremony, she'll marry Don Landmire (I hope I got that name right). Too bad it wasn't like a week ago. This last week I had "free." But tomorrow is the first day of our summer term classes. Oh, well, I'll be thinking of her and at least celebrating mentally for her.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Weird Weather

The grass was high enough that I had to mow (again). But first, I did a little work on the pond. As I worked, the clouds gathered and darkened. And by the time I was ready to mow the grass with my little push mower, it was snowing! I just stayed out there in my t-shirt and sweatpants for awhile and mowed anyway. So I was mowing while it was snowing.

Then it stopped snowing and the clouds cleared away. Then it started snowing again -- in the sunlight! It's spit snow off and on all day. But it's not cold! Just, at the worst, about 45 degrees. And everything's green outside. I love it.

Plastic People

"Oh, I wanna be a plastic person!" I exclaimed.

I won't tell you what all led up to this part of my dream. Suffice it to say, it was a travel dream. I had gotten together with one of my students and we had made a flying trip somewhere north and back again. Since we had one extra day, we decided to drive down to Socorro for a seminar that would pay her (she was trying to make extra money or get a better job.) The trips for me were both fun and instructive.

Somehow we met up with some of her friends who wanted to go to Socorro, too. We were taking my car, but she was driving. My friend was wearing an earthy hippy-ish top with little red tassels. Then her friends were a beautiful black girl and a guy (I think he was white). Not knowing their names, we're just going to have to go with those distinguishing phrases when I refer to them.

We were looking for the nearest Loewe's for something before we got out of town, and we were in a part of town I didn't know. (None of us knew.) It was on the southern edge of the city. We were driving on what seemed like the "Loop" around Lubbock, TX, and from that high way I saw a new theme park (which I had seen before -- in my dreams?) Anyway, it was early in the morning and huge "plastic" people were walking out to their stations.

The biggest feature of this theme park was a huge loop-de-loop of "slide" -- except it wasn't to slide on. Instead, the slide was more level and these plastic people arranged themselves in settings. There were two kinds of plastic people -- those that were all white -- covered with a coating of white so that every part of them is white (kinda like the Blue Man Group being plasticized in blue) -- and those that are in regular color but their clothes have the sheen of being plastic like they are huge toys. The white ones get into statuesque-in-the-park positions.

So anyway, these people are walking all around us -- knights, kings, queens, kids blowing bubbles, etc. to get to their positions. One all-white guy practically climbs over the hood of my little car. I blurt out, "Oh, I wanna be a plastic person!" but knew that was ridiculous. We drive a bit more and realize that we are actually on a plastic slide and now we need to decide where to go (turn left, turn right? how to get out of here? either direction had people we could mow down) because we are facing a woman who needs to be where we are. That's when we realize that somehow we had driven onto the feature. At the same instant, the people in charge of the display realized they had a car out there.

A (not-plastic) man with a clipboard ran out to us and made us get out of the car. Then they decided, since there wasn't time to get the car down, they'd use the car as part of their display. It was small; it would work.

"What are they going to do with us?" we whispered to each other. We were in an internal hallway, waiting for our "punishment." As we wait, I look out the huge south-facing windows and in the sky, I see a replica of my friend's blouse being made in plastic. It's just like the blouse appeared bit by bit and a huge hand squeezed it out.

A woman came breezing up and said, "I'm so sorry. This all was my fault. I was late." I gathered from that that we had come upon the feature just as the gates were open and we had taken her place and the gate didn't know any different, so it allowed us in. "I'll be in the next batch," she said and settled down to wait with us.

My friends were wondering what the plastic people did and I told them it was like manikin modeling, where you dress up in clothes a store wants to sell and stand in the window like a manikin, unblinking. These people get into poses and hold them while the crowd surges around them.

"I did manikin modeling, once," I bragged. "It's funny. The people walking by often don't even know you're real. The kids usually realize it and try to make you blink."

"Yeah, no blinking."

"I managed for five minutes."

"This is for fifty minutes."

Oh, my goodness! Not to move for fifty minutes? Not even blink? I didn't know it was even possible. Surely, they'd blink surreptitiously.

Thinking of the plastic blouse version of the blouse my friend was wearing, I said, "I think they're going to use us."

"Be an exaggerated version of yourself," we were told. "Aging and worried? Let the wrinkles show. . . ." I took that last to mean me.

I bet we'd get paid a lot, which was good for my friend and her friends. (They had all been needed some kind of job to help with the finances.)

Sure enough, my friend was escorted one direction and the remaining three of us followed the late woman to the "showers" where we stood and turned to be sprayed with a plastic covering. It made my joints harder to move so I walked Frankenstein-like. I briefly saw my friend in her plastic clothes. Her cheeks were painted red and the way they put up her hair, she looked like a doll, a huge life-sized doll.

I was trying to figure out what my pose would be when I looked up and saw, flying through the sky, as if he had been launched from the theme park, a huge fat baby with a blanket. I could see where the baby ended up (he didn't "land" -- he still hovered facing the theme park, cross-legged in the sky above some buildings) and he took out a cigarette and started smoking it. He looked pissed. I thought he must have lost his job and we replaced him.

They gave us a meal, but I was too nervous to be hungry. Besides, I worried that sitting down to eat would wipe some of that plastic off my backside, and how would that look? They assured me the plastic was dry now, but I still didn't eat.

When I woke up, I was still worrying about whether I could stay still and unblinking for fifty minutes, what my pose would be, and what the man pretending to be a baby would do.

The part about the manikin modeling that I did was really true. I did a five-minute stint at a little boutique in a mall. At that time I wore hard contact lenses and in the five minutes, they dried out. I had to be very careful closing my eyes for my first blink so they wouldn't pop out. Now, since I've had lasik surgery, I think it would be a bit easier. But it was a challenge and lots of fun to see the kids point out to their parents that we were "real" and the parents look more closely and jump when they realized it was true.

Friday, May 4, 2007

The Worst Job in the World

I think I've just discovered the worst job in the world. Hair transplant surgeon. Here's what happens (as described by John Stossel in Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity) -- a hole is dug in the bald area of the scalp, then a patch of skin is taken from a hairy part of the head (sides, back) and "planted" into the spot. Imagine! Hair by hair! Operation after operation. Stossel describes a woman who's getting ready to go back for another round. She already has 240 hairs transplanted. Stossel says it looks like a tree farm.

So now imagine what the doctor feels like in the tedium of transplanting hair follicles, one at a time. Ick.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Meaning of a Name

Wow, it's been awhile (almost a whole month) that I haven't posted. Does knowing that I've been --
1. finishing up my spring term, with finals, grading (all-day portfolio exchange grading), paperwork, cleaning up my office;
2. then planning for my classes next term, "migrating" my online classes to a new software (WebCT has become Blackboard), planning for a new teacher class for the Fall;
3. then the usual house-cleaning that gets neglected close to the end of every term, plus springtime gardening (I'm digging/building a pond -- but then I've been doing that for seven years, now);
4. and getting started back on revising my first book and writing my second novel
-- excuse my neglect? I guess I'm lucky I got back here at all!

You may have noticed that while the title of my blog site is Tijeras Snow, my address is tijeras-snowcuts. I'd like to explain that. I might have gotten away with tijeras-snow and it would have been easier to remember, but here's the deal. I really wanted "snowcuts." That's because I cut snowflakes that have silhouettes in them. While "Tijeras" is where my post office abides (I actually live many miles south of Tijeras, in a subdivision called Tranquilo Pines, near a village named Yrisarri) the word "tijeras" also means "scissors" in Spanish. Pretty handy, huh?

Since people have discovered my snowflakes, I've been asked to make snowflakes of Jazzercise, buffalo, field hockey (for a lady whose daughter played field hockey), flowers, and swans. I take a request as a challenge.

Anyway, I'm posting a couple of my snowflakes, so you know what I mean. The blue-backed snowflake was one I did of "ratites," which are flightless birds, for a woman who writes for a ratite magazine. This flake, containing ostriches (the largest figure), emus, and kiwis, was the most difficult I've done.

This is one of my favorites, birds decorating a Christmas tree.

And finally, here's a spider on a web that I did for Halloween.