Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Hands-off parenting

I am what I consider a hands-off parent. This is not to say I'm not involved, just that I'm not an in-your-face parent, someone who is involved in every detail of their kids' lives. Right now, for example, both of my kids (5 & 9) have gotten their own breakfast, eaten it, put away their dishes, and are now getting dressed. I know some parents that would be involved in every step of this process--fix breakfast for them, pick out their clothes, etc. I'm just not that kind of parent. I haven't even been going out to the bus stop lately because I have put off getting the younger one's lunch and so I'm fixing that and making sure she's getting ready.

Sometimes when I'm with my friends who are more in-your-face parents, I can see they don't approve. But my kids are doing well, thank you very much. And they proved this over Thanksgivng by being well-behaved and starting conversations that most grownups don't start, like about the physics of the universe or mathmatical theories about the existence of Santa Claus.

I recently saw a segment on CBS news about family dinner time. Some study shows that families who eat dinner together have children who are less likely to become involved with bad things like drugs or gangs. I wonder. I mean, there are families who simply can't eat together because the parents are both working 3 jobs just to have enough to eat. I don't know if the study accounted for these situations or socio-economic status. Basically, the segment had a tone of "eat dinner together or else." In other words, conform to our way of life. I'm always suspicious of these things. Now we do have dinner together, but not always and I think we could find ways to make up for that if we didn't.

I didn't start this post as a political rant, but I ended up there. Funny how that happens. I have read quite a few posts lately about the right wingers forcing people to conform to an ideal that doesn't even exist. When will people just go out and figure out what is really out there and figure out ways for us to deal with it? No, instead, somebody has to have a vision of American and the ideal American and want us all to be that way. Sigh. I guess I'm back on the political bandwagon.

Monday, November 29, 2004

What Kind of Alcohol are you

I need something fun, so here it is:

You Are Tequilla

When you drink, you're serious about getting drunk!
You'll take any shot that's offered up to you...
Even if it tastes like sock sweat!
And you're never afraid of eating the worm.

I do like Tequila, but I'm really more of a beer and wine person. I even took the quiz twice with slightly different answers and got the same results. Oh well.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

What comes between us

I should be doing a million (okay, maybe 2) other things, but I've had this post in my head for days now.

What makes the holidays hard for me--and particularly hard for me with my mother--is my sister. Or the absence of my sister. My sister died when she was 17 and I was 20 just before my parents' divorce was to be finalized. I had no other siblings. I have missed out on the unique joy of being able to commiserate about your parents with your siblings. Perhaps an only child misses this too, but I looked forward to it. I had inklings of what I would be missing during the lead-up to our parents' divorce. We'd talk every day on the phone and I'd get the lowdown on what was going on. She had an almost journalistic eye about my mother's and father's various mood swings and strategies. Though I was somewhat grateful for not being in the middle of an obviously tumultuous period at home, I was always grateful for my sister's insights.

Over Thanksgiving, Mr. GM said he realized how much easier this would be if my sister were around. The burden of dealing with my mother would be lessened and I'd have someone I could go out for a drink with and really let go about the insanity of the whole visit. We were, in fact, staying in the room that is basically a shrine to my sister. It has her old furniture, several pictures and even a few of the mementos that she had kept as a teenager.

My mother got along with my sister better. My sister learned, perhaps from witnessing the many blowups I'd had with her, not to be too "in your face" about her rebellion. She just kept very much to herself. My sister also, on the surface, fit my mother's vision of what her daughter should be. She was attractive, could wear anything off the rack with style, and was a little more demure than me. Honestly, I don't know what would have happened had she lived. She was wishy-washy about college, planning to come to the same school where I attended until she figured out something better. She was into acting and was quite good, winning several drama awards just before she died. Perhaps part of my anxiety about my mother stems from a feeling that she was prouder of my sister. Instead of my taking that jealousy out on my sister, I've taken it out on my mother.

At any rate, with my mother, my sister is the white elephant in the room. We do not speak of her really, only just in passing. This is in direct contrast to being at my father's where many conversations will begin, "Do you remember when . . .?" or "I was just thinking about what it would be like if . . ." In other words, we talk about her. We talk about how we feel without her. My father will often call me on the anniversary of her death or on her birthday or I will call him. If we don't, we mention it in the next phone call. I have no idea if my mother thinks of her on these days and she doesn't know that I do. I think my mother has pushed the idea of her death, of her absence, to some deep recess of her brain that she tries very hard not to go to. She manages this by going to bed before it gets dark, getting up at 4:00 a.m. and spending the time being busy, smoking, working a crossword puzzle, anything to not think.

Do I feel sorry for her? I don't know. It's hard to find sympathy for someone you feel is working very hard to avoid it. I'm not even sure she'd accept my sympathy or any comfort I might offer. She'd have to rethink the last 16 years of her life if she did.

Christmas at Geeky Mom's

So here it is--a slightly new design. Mostly just updating the colors. It was fun! There are a few kinks, though. Like the posts are still posting my name even though I've deleted it. I'll work it out. So it's not the fanciest design in the world, but it's festive. Now, I'm off to the store to get the makings for chili--mmmm!

Redesign again

I'm in the process of redesigning a bit. I actually do a lot of web design in my work, but I'm lazy when it comes to designing my personal stuff. And I don't have much of a design sense. I'm more of a technical person. So I'm always looking for designs that I like, but that I can personalize without too much trouble. Also, I went anonymous. It will take a while for a google search on my name turning up the blog to disappear, but I decided after the rather personal stuff I had written over the holidays, I didn't want the family to stumble upon it. Anyway, I'm working on something new that will hopefully be up by the end of the day. Redesigning the blog certainly beats paying bills or doing laundry. :)

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Home Again

Here I am finally home. I survived, barely. As I said, I wanted to post more details about my trip once home. First the physical issues:

1. Dog hair everywhere--literally you could not sit down without being covered with hair. Our bedside lamp had a halo of fur. Yuck! Pillowcases--covered. Ick! Towels--nice coating.
2. At night, we were basically camping. My SF and mom keep the house at 58° which would be fine if it were warm outside (it was 35) and if we had blankets (we didn't). The kids were freezing even in long pajamas and Mr. GM and I had to sleep right up next to each other to keep warm.

Annoying habits:

1. My mother always gives a play-by-play of what she's doing. We'll be sitting, watching tv and she'll pop in and say, "I'm going to wash the dishes now." Like we need to know this. She does this about every 15 minutes.
2. Repetition. My mother repeats everything she says 5-6 times as if we've never heard it before. If she hears or thinks of something clever, we'll hear about it over and over for days. We heard about our daughter's card lingo at least 5 times: "She's in there saying 'I've got a trick up my sleeve.'" It was cute the first time.
3. My stepfather is just rude. He always demanded help from Mr. GM. Not once did he say, "Would you mind helping me with something?"
4. My sf eats every meal (if you could call them that) standing up. There is no kitchen table.
5. Smoking. My mother smokes about every 15 minutes--usually before or after the play-by-play. For this, she must go outside. Thus, she never sits down. The woman sat down for a total of maybe an hour in 4 days. Back and forth to smoke.

Obviously, we couldn't really say anything about the dog hair, but perhaps we could have said something about the temperature. We did ask for blankets as if that weren't a big enough hint. I've been in the temperature battle before with my sf and I don't want to go there again. My thinking is, you can afford to spend a little extra and/or be a little uncomfortable yourself (reasons given for not upping the temp) for a couple of days to make your guests comfortable. As for the annoying habits, can't really do anything about those. We see them once a year at most. Just have to put up with them.

Okay, there are worse things. But this was not a pleasant trip. Neither my mother nor my sf asked us how our jobs were or how the kids were (they never sat down long enough). SF tried to arrange a double date with his brother (10 years our senior). We escaped. The family cocktail party (for displaying the grandkids) either didn't last long enough or lasted too long. It was just weird though it was nice to see my cousins and aunts who are very pleasant people. As Mr. GM said, we just had no control over the situation and it did not feel good. We're never really made to feel at home. I'm not expecting to be waited on hand and foot, but I need to know where the food is, what the plans are for the day. This is not the house I grew up in, so I need some information. I need to be treated a little less like family and more like a guest, so that I can resume the family role, if that makes any sense. I just need to feel comfortable and I didn't. Not unusual for a trip to my mom's.

So I am eternally grateful to be home so I can be myself again.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Quick quote of the day

Stepfather to Mr. GM: "Are you out of the shower?"

Mr. GM: "Yes."

SF: "Well, get dressed and come help me."

Turkey Day

A longer, more thoughtful post will come after I return. I have little to no privacy here, so I have to sneak about. I have realized that 24 hours is about all I can take for numerous reasons to be explained later. Unfortunately, when you travel this far, you can't really just stay for 24 hours. :) Mr. GM has been good and patient. Even though I have visited his family much more often than he's visited mine, this is by far a worse experience for him. I will try to push aside the negativity for a moment and say what I'm thankful for:

-that I have a family, strange though it may be
-for Mr. GM, who loves me anyway
-for my children, who don't have issues yet
-for my health
-that I'm happy with my life
-for the internet--seriously

I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy and be thankful!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

In Memphis

So here I am and my first chance to blog. I forgot about the accents. It's been a long time since I've been in the south and as soon as I got off the plane, I was bombarded by the accent. Even the announcements were in a drawl. Funny. So far, not so bad. We've had a nice discussion about the repeal of the death tax and a brief discussion of health care. We also watched The Amazing Race last night so all is right with the world. Tomorrow is the big event of course and where any complications might occur. Thanks to everyone for the sympathies. It seems I'm not the only one who needs support with the relatives.

I promise some photoblogging later after we get out.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Of packing, makeup and hair dye

Soon I must begin packing for my trip south to my mother's. I purchased hairspray at the grocery store; I dyed my hair; and I will pack my makeup. I am accommodating the south and my mother. Mostly, it's to avoid the "Are you feeling alright? You look pale." and such comments. I even got my hair cut. I was hoping for something a little spikier, but no one ever believes me when I say that. I must take stylish clothing--Thanksgiving will be somewhat formal plus my mother is having a cocktail party thing for us on Friday. The children need to look nice as well. I also must take reading, the camera (l'll be photoblogging during the holiday :) ), and the iPod. Geeky Mom cannot travel without gadgets. :)

Mr. GM and I are developing some kind of strategy for dealing with politics while we're there. Our plan is not to bring it up; what we have to work on is when (not if) the other people bring it up. Sigh. These are relatively intelligent people. We can probably agree to disagree. My step-grandmother is of the seriously gentile sort (a wonderfully gracious woman really), so she would never bring it up. Her sons, I'm not so sure. Oh, and then there's the dogs--I completely forgot about the dogs. I am not a dog person. Small dogs, okay (I had one). Big dogs, I don't do. I'm a small person. I had a bad encounter with a large dog when I was younger and I've never fully gotten over it. Her dogs are kind of in your face. And my mom has dogs. How could I forget this? Ugh, yet another thing to deal with. I'm definitely having a drink on the plane.

Obviously, I need therapy. I can't handle a simple trip to my mother's without turning it into a drama. To be fair, Mr. GM is doing the same thing. He deals with it by making jokes. "Oh, I'm going to visit all my new Memphis friends." "I need to make a trip over to the CS department at University of Memphis." Yes, well. It probably won't be at all as bad as I'm making it out to be, but I don't know. I have some history here. My last couple of trips have had their dramatic moments. My father--who may not be a good source since he left the marriage altogether--feels for me and recommends a stiff drink. Thankfully, I'll have access to a computer (staying in the room with it in fact), so I can connect to some virtual friends at least.
Wish me luck.


Just claiming a feed.


Shopping for good

I can't yet go the route of donating in someone's name and sending a card--though I might do that for my dad and stepmom. I can, however, shop in ways that do someone some good. I also plan to donate some time or goods to some organization around here. Here are some of the places I found so far:

  • Buy for Charity--up to 35% of your purchase is donated to the cause of your choice

  • xgive.com--40% of the proceeds go to selected charities

  • World of Good--where you can buy fair trade products designed by artisans from around the world.

  • Oxfam America--shop at partner stores, find a list of more fair trade stores, or donate in someone's name

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Culture of life?

There have been a few posts about the recent passage of a spending bill that included a provision that allows providers to refuse abortion services if they are opposed to abortions. Despite my new-found activism, I didn't fight this one. However, I've been thinking a lot about this "culture of life" the Bush administration keeps talking about in the middle of a war. Here are some places where you can find out how many people have died in Iraq.

Yes, there are far more abortions performed than there are soldiers killed. But no one is working on finding a way to minimize the occurrance of abortion. The right is simply trying to make it illegal while the left goes on the defensive to make sure that doesn't happen.

Frankly, there are a lot of things that cause death that we should be doing something about: cancer, violent crime, diseases of all kinds, drugs. Why aren't we pouring money into health research or education (which would be an abortion deterrent)? I don't pretend to have all the facts here or all the answers. But every day, I keep thinking about why we never seem to deal with the underlying problems. We treat the symptoms. If this is a culture of life, I don't want any part of it.

Clutter Blogging

Kitchen counter
Kitchen counter,
originally uploaded by lorda.
So here is an example of what I'm dealing with. What you can't see in this picture is that the other two counters are spotless. I'm hoping in a few weeks that this will be gone. There are--unfortunately--other areas. I'll show you those as well. I figure making it public means I have to get rid of it now.

This whole idea of taking the pictures was actually a thought my husband and I had to take these pictures and send them to his mother as an argument that we didn't need any more stuff. We can't deal with the stuff we have and every ounce of new stuff that comes into the house is just more stuff we have to find a place for. Sigh. I'm working on it--in 15 minute increments. So far, so good. I'll show you the good tomorrow or later today.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

I was hoping for a 3 but . . .

You Are the Individualist


You are sensitive and intuitive, with others and yourself.

You are creative and dreamy... plus dramatic and unpredictable.

You're emotionally honest, real, and easily hurt.

Totally expressive, others always know exactly how you feel.

via New Kid and Profgrrrl

Saturday Afternoon Psychoanalysis

I went to the grocery store this afternoon and while I was there, I picked up some hairspray. I haven't purchased hairspray in years, so I'm thinking, "Why am I getting hairspray?" I decide it has to do with going to my mother's next week. This line of thinking leads me down a whole thorny path related to my appearance. I am not an unattractive person. In fact, some would say I'm downright attractive. But I have issues with my appearance that go back to--you guessed it--my mother. Let's just put it this way, I spent a lot of time with a book on my head and with my feet in hard shoes. I was the only girl in junior high whose mother was begging her to wear makeup. I distinctly remember my mother showing me magazines and saying, "This year, the style is . . ." She probably meant well, but she wasn't working with me. I was pretty awkward looking until about my sophmore year in high school (note: this is about when I finally wrestled control of my looks from my mother). I was short, had bad hair, braces, and glasses. The boys called me Fido. In 7th grade, a boy bought Christmas presents for all the girls he knew. Every other girl except me got cheap jewelry. I got a stuffed cow. It was a cute cow, but it told me a lot about how I was perceived--a friend, never a girlfriend.

Anyway, since those awkward childhood days, I've gone back and forth between caring and not-caring about my appearance. The truth is, I care, but I want to look like I don't really care. How fucked up is that? Thus, the hairspray. I'm planning to get my hair cut either tomorrow or Monday. The last time I had it cut I really wished I'd had some hairspray so I could style it in a way that looked like I hadn't styled it. Sigh.

I know I'm going to be on display and I guess part of me doesn't want to disappoint my mother. I do want her to be proud of me and knowing how much she values appearance, I feel some need to accommodate her, not for my sake but for hers. On one visit, during my 10 year college reunion, she took me to her school. Afterwards, she commented about how poised I'd been and how graceful. I'm not sure my mother had ever complimented me in that way before.

Another, more selfish, reason for the hairspray is that I want to show off a little myself. I have some "big-city" style. It's weird, I know. And it's weird, too, that I only think about these things when I'm visiting family--mine or Mr. GM's. With friends, at conferences, even at reunions, I just don't worry about it that much. I think I must be trying to live up to some expectations (in the case of Mr. GM's family) or living down an ancient perception of what I look like and who I am (in the case of my family). Maybe I should bring along a therapist to Thanksgiving dinner.

Hungover soccer mom

So 8 a.m. came really early this morning. I really could have stayed in my nice warm bed. I opted for scootching the kids over and making some space for myself, but it was pretty cramped and uncomfortable. Mr. GM moved them a few hours later, but I can say with confidence that I did not sleep all that well. Not to mention the beer. It's wearing off now, but I still feel quite groggy. Plus it's overcast and yucky outside.

The soccer game itself was amusing because the kids just really didn't want to play that much after the first half. We struggled through, though.

Today I'm going to start getting re-organized. I'm on a real kick. I noticed, too, that on Thursday when I was cleaning some stuff up, my son pitched in. So I think this is a good thing--being a role model (something I haven't been in the neatness department). Now if I can get Mr. GM to see the light, all will be good in the world.

Friday, November 19, 2004


So, I went out drinking with the office buds--always very fun. We always drink one more than we think we should. We managed to NOT talk about work (most of the time). Much fun had by all. Mr. GM took care of the kids and then darted off to a movie when I got home. I actually like this--that we can have separate lives and still be connected somehow. It's good. The kids are in my bed right now and I'm trying to decide if I have the energy to move them or if I'm just going to scootch them over and make room for myself. I'm thinking the latter at the moment. For the record, the drink for the evening was Guiness--at least 3, maybe 4 (which is nothing compared to college days, but hey, I'm a mom). There was food at some point. Okay, I'm off to read some to try and sober up a bit to prevent a hangover at the 9 a.m. soccer game. Yippee.

Thursday, November 18, 2004


Hee. I liked these. Indy is the land of my inlaws--the entire extended family (with a few exceptions). It's a strange juxtaposition of middle-brow-trying-to-be-high-brow culture and downright redneck. I'm headed to Memphis myself in a few days. I might have to take some sign pictures there.

Post Parent-Teacher Conference . . .

Not so bad. After I worked myself up into a frenzy, the conference was actually quite nice. The teacher praised my son's intelligence, was concerned about forgetting homework, but figured we'd work through it. I gotta stop doing this to myself. It will be okay. I can say that to other people for some reason, but not myself. Geez.

The Parent-Teacher Conference

Today is the first parent-teacher conference of the year. Normally I look forward to these. I have a sweet and intelligent child who does well in school. I still have a sweet, intelligent child who does well in school, but this year we are confronted with the homework issue. We've had phone calls from every one of his teachers about his not doing homework and how it's going to affect his grade. Sigh. Last week, he was grounded the whole week. We have insisted that he do his homework before doing anything else. But if he doesn't bring a book home or doesn't write down the assignment, there's not much for us to do. He's being punished at school (lower grade, no recess) and he's being punished at home. I'm not sure what else can be done. I've thought of a reward system and my son even suggested one and we might give that a try.

But what I dread about the conference most is that I know I will be blamed. It's my fault for not being there more, for working instead of staying home. The teacher will not say this directly, but there will be hints at it. I've been here before. (We experienced a similar problem in 2nd grade. Turned out the teacher was obsessed with neatness and that other parents and students were having issues with her.) And what I think when these kinds of things come up is, "Am I doing the best I can? Am I just making excuses about it being harder because I work?" And frankly, I'm also a little miffed at Mr. GM because he finds ways to not be as concerned. Somehow it's more okay for him to put work first than it is for me. If I say something about maybe he should be more involved in the day-to-day stuff--like homework, like getting stuff ready for school--that would go a long way. And he is sometimes, but it's inconsistent. Often my ideas about what to do in these situations get vetoed. But it's me who is going to the conference, not him, and I am going to do my best not to be defensive and guilty and to look for real solutions and implement them and not let Mr. GM get in the way.

And it is harder for working moms. I can't be as involved as I would like to be. I can't go to things that take place during working hours very easily. I'm often tired at the end of the day, which makes it harder to deal with things that my kids need me for. I find myself easily irritated sometimes because I've brought my work stress home with me. If I take time for myself--and I do--it seems like that's just when things break down, reinforcing the notion that if I'm not involved every minute, something bad will happen. This is not to say that stay at home moms have it any easier. I know they don't. It's just that school schedule and the ideal for how education works is built around the idea that someone is home at 3:00 p.m. When you get home at 6:00 p.m. and homework wasn't done at the after-care program and probably won't get started until 7 or 7:30 after dinner, that means it's 9:00 at the earliest which means very little family time. You start to get resentful about it. Yes, one of us is there while our son does his homework, but is this quality time? I don't know. I resent not being able to just sit and have a conversation or play a game--and yes, we really do these things when we have time. I think this affects our son and his performance in school.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Giving ourselves permission

There's a lot of stress and anxiety out there among the academic bloggers. Part of it is the time of year. Students begin to realize that no, they're not going to pass and yes, maybe they should have come to class, written that paper in more than a couple of hours, or read that book more thoroughly. Their anxieties get pushed onto the teacher. And there's the grading that absolutely needs to get done, job applications to write, papers to write, presentations to give. There's also the stress of the holidays, visiting relatives we have strained relationships with, the financial strain of buying gifts, the memory of lost loved ones who won't be with us this year.

We need to give ourselves permission to take a break. Bitch, Ph.D. is taking a break from blogging. JMP is stressing about the holidays. New Kid is stressing over procrastination. And EMN points us to a study in Britain that shows an increase in stress levels among academics. Even though I am on the other side of the aisle so to speak, in not teaching, I feel a similar stress. The computer lab increasingly fills with students working on papers and projects. 95% of them have their own computers, but they need the moral support. Their stress and anxiety is palpable. Around campus, I see faculty with that look of not having slept because they were up grading, writing, or reading.

I've decided to give myself permission to take a break. I've been stressing over the fact that I haven't worked on my novel in a while. I keep thinking, "I've got some free time, I should write a few pages." Then I look at it and I just can't. So I'm now officially telling myself that it will be okay not to work on it--to enjoy the holiday season without thinking I need to fill it with work. I'm going to make cookies, shop for gifts, work puzzles and spend time with my children. What can you let go of that will relieve the burden?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Some things to be happy about

Too many vacation days left--which means I get to take a lot of time off between now and the end of the year.
The Amazing Race Starts again--I'm in an office pool; it's cheesy and fun.
Only 3 more working days (for me) until Thanksgiving
New warm pajamas
Civilization III--which I'm going to play after this post
Guinea pigs and/or hamsters--pets I'm considering
Tivo--which will record Amazing Race and the Daily Show because I think it's going to be an early night
My iPod--which helped me forget about the fumes that might be slowly killing me
Chamomile tea--keeping the stomach bug at bay (for now)

I don't wanna work . . .

I woke up in the middle of the night worried about things at work. It was an hour before I could go back to sleep. I was also worried about bills and my trip to my mother's. I have a long stretch of open time today--which is good. But I have a lot of little nit-picky things to get done and I hate that. I really need Thanksgiving break but because I'm spending it at a place I feel uncomfortable, I won't really get to relax. So, I'll be waiting for Christmas. I hate being tired and cranky, which is what I am today. I think it's going to be an iPod day--don't want to deal with people.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Random thoughts about The Digital Revolution

I'm going out on a limb and using this blog to post some thoughts about a book I'm reading (posted about here). These are just thoughts that I'm hoping to coalesce into first, something for my professional blog that the faculty read and second, into a presentation. Feel free to comment and argue.

The basic premise of the Digital Revolution (so far, 5 chapters in) is that the internet allows for unmediated learning to take place. In the current model of traditional learning at higher education institutions, learning is mostly mediated. An Instructor/Professor serves as the authority through which all knowledge passes to the student. Online learning threatens to disrupt this control(?).

In traditional learning, content is the most important "commodity" with the professor serving as the expert in the content and disseminating it to the students. This is in opposition to an instructional artisan who may understand both the content and the best way for the students to learn it.

Raschke posits a new epistemology of learning based loosely on some of Dewey's principles. He outlines three propositions that can be useful in thinking about online learning: 1) learning is task-defined and goal-oriented; 2) find ways to maximize the student's ability to achieve the those tasks and reach goals; and 3) there needs to be a feeback loop. Though Raschke discusses student-centered and active learning, he is careful to say that students should not be considered clients who always get what they want. Teachers are there to provide guidance and advice all along the way. Just as a teacher doesn't usually send a student to the library without guidance, a teacher wouldn't send a student to the internet without guidance.

Raschke says we might think of teaching/learning as "collaborative inquiry," which is really a blurring of the line between teaching and research.

Here are some thoughts. I think he posits the "traditional model" very well, but I think he fails to recognize that not everyone follows that model completely. Most faculty I know use class discussion as a way to place the impetus on the students to "learn for themselves" or to tackle the problem/question for themselves. A lot of the things he says I think he says as a way of validating online education; however, I think there can be a happy medium where students still get lots of face-to-face time in the classroom, but perhaps there are tools available to facilitate the students' own learning beyond the classroom.

And here's what I've been thinking. My job tends to be more about technical support (though, in theory, it shouldn't be). I've been thinking that I need a new way to think about what I "should"/"could" be doing. If, as Raschke (among others) says, we should shift to providing ways for students to learn "on their own" with guidance from teachers, then my job should be to provide the tools to make that happen. Perhaps I should be supporting the students, not the instructors? Or perhaps I should be in a more consultative role? I also think that my environment--a small liberal arts college--already does some things very well that he's suggesting can be done better online. For instance, professors here regularly blur the line between teaching and research. There is always a lot of back and forth.

I'm not in favor of abandoning brick and mortar education just yet, but I do think there could be some radical changes coming. I like the way Raschke frames his argument because it's not--use technology because it's there but use technology because it might provide a better way for students to learn. I also have this thing--because I'm at a women's college--that it is important for women to be exposed to technology everywhere. Still, we're seeing women who come here without much knowledge of technology and even after they're here, they avoid it whenever possible. If they have to confront it in some way in nearly every class, then they might be more likely to explore it later on.

Also, I think it's important to teach students to be critical of what's out there in terms of technology. We need to teach them how to navigate and analyze web resources, online journal resources, arguments in discussion, and more. Given how bad the mainstream media often is, I think it's good to send students out into the world with the skills to find information and verify it. Maybe you teach them that through your specific field--biology or history--but they can apply it to anything.

Just some thoughts so far--and maybe later, a post about my class on blogs.

Things Left Undone

The novel
half of the laundry
grocery shopping-we have no food
sundry other things in my head that I wanted to do

Sunday, November 14, 2004

More Moral Values

The New York Times > Arts > Frank Rich: On 'Moral Values,' It's Blue in a Landslide

Just made my way through this article, which I think is interesting. In terms of culture, I think Rich is right, blue is going to win. There's too much money to be made.
It's in the G.O.P.'s interest to pander to this far-right constituency - votes are votes - but you can be certain that a party joined at the hip to much of corporate America, Mr. Murdoch included, will take no action to curtail the blue culture these voters deplore. As Marshall Wittman, an independent-minded former associate of both Ralph Reed and John McCain, wrote before the election, "The only things the religious conservatives get are largely symbolic votes on proposals guaranteed to fail, such as the gay marriage constitutional amendment." That amendment has never had a prayer of rounding up the two-thirds majority needed for passage and still doesn't.

Mr. Wittman echoes Thomas Frank, the author of "What's the Matter With Kansas?," by common consent the year's most prescient political book. "Values," Mr. Frank writes, "always take a backseat to the needs of money once the elections are won." Under this perennial "trick," as he calls it, Republican politicians promise to stop abortion and force the culture industry "to clean up its act" - until the votes are counted. Then they return to their higher priorities, like cutting capital gains and estate taxes.

What did Bush start talking about right after election? Privitization of Social Security, not an Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment or appointing an anti-Roe Supreme Court Justice. It seems to me that Bush uses these hot-button issues--as Rich suggests--to garner votes. What he really cares about is making money (or his friends making money). Which, to me, is just as bad. Tim Burke discusses the complexity of this financial equality issue here. I don't know how to solve this one or to convince someone who "watched his income drop from $55,000 to $35,000 since 2001, . . . that it might be a higher moral value to worry about the future of his own family than some gay family he hasn't even met."

Michelle hints at what I think the underlying difficulty is, here and here. I have always felt obligated to help society, but it's not within my own personal capacity to do so much of the time. I struggle to pay my own bills, though I recognize my struggle is much less than most. I grew up very privileged in an upper middle class family. I'm thankful that my parents believed in public school, because as a result, I was in the 1% of the school population who could be classified as middle class or higher. The other 99%, working poor or welfare poor. I realized very quickly that it was sheer luck that I was born into the family I was born into. The kids I went to school with had nothing to do with their current circumstances and yet, they suffered greatly because of them. I knew, even at 9 or 10 years old, that it was unlikely that they would make it anywhere. One of my classmates was very smart and we often ended up in independent study sessions together because we were ahead of the class. She had a paper route and was trying to save money for college. Her mother, single and an alcoholic (near as I could tell), stole her paper route money (about $100). How in the world was she going to make it? Scholarship or grant? I don't think so. Her mother was going to thwart her. And this girl didn't have enough backbone (possibly abused?) to stand up to her. In fact, after elementary school, I did not see her. I don't know if she moved or if she just faded into the shadows.

I feel the government owes something to children like her, to find a way to help them. Maybe it's through providing grants to organizations that can help. Maybe it's even faith-based initiatives. More importantly, I think the government needs to find a way to improve the economic situation more generally. Maybe that's where a lot of people part ways. I know this is what Republicans often mean by "big government"--a government that has its hand in people's personal lives. They're only opposed to big government when it comes to economic issues, not social ones. Or so it seems.

I don't know what the answer is. I only know I continue to struggle to find it. I have not written about politics in a serious way in a while because I grew personally hurt, a little, by the vitriol spinning its way around the internet. I think that some of the anger was necessary to our mourning process. But I do think it's time to move on, and be a little more thoughtful about how we proceed and we need to engage the 29% who voted not on moral values.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Blog Love

I really love blogging. I know it sounds silly, but now I'm really sorry I didn't start blogging when I first discovered it two years ago. I read the occasional blog back then, but not the way I have for the past year. I'm so glad I forced myself--wasn't hard really--to blog every day. And actually, I have three blogs now so I'm blogging sometimes 3 times a day in three different blogs.

I also like reading blogs and the experience of hyperlinking all over the internet to other blogs, to newspapers, magazines and photos. It really does kind of feel like a journey.

In 1997, I really discovered the internet and jumped in feet first. I created my first web site, I joined a virtual community of other tech-savvy parents, and hosted two IRC chats for that community. It was so much fun. I had been "on the internet" long before that, reading newsgroups and using e-mail but I was not immersed in it the way I became immersed in 97.

Then I went away from it. Our virtual community was bought by a huge company who required us to use chat software that included ads and those of us (purists you might say) who had been around for a while and felt some measure of control over the situation, all left. Some of us had met IRL and I kept up a relationship with a couple of people through ICQ for awhile. Eventually, though, I was jaded. I focused instead on my literature studies and though I didn't remove myself from the virtual world completely (joining several e-mail lists related to my field), I had lost my immersion in it.

In 2001, I began my slow movement back towards immersion. I had been using technology in the form of web sites, discussion boards, and computer classrooms for teaching since I went back to school in 97, but after moving to PA, I began really thinking more deeply about using that technology. And I now had students who regularly used e-mail, chat rooms, and IM. In 1997, I had to explain what a website was. Now I was having students create their own. In the summer of 2002 as I prepared for my fall classes, I set up a Blogger account--which I ended up not really using. I was afraid of overwhelming my students with too much technology if I required them to participate in a group blog. I had intended to keep a journal of the class and how the technology was working for myself, but I didn't. I made maybe an entry or two.

Interestingly, we ended up having something similar to a blog inside of a Course Management System and it was that aspect of the course that the students liked the most.

So, flash forward to 2004. Finally, I jump back in. I had been talking about blogs at work for a year, but had not been practicing what I preached. So here I am. I knew I was hooked when I was at my son's soccer practice and I was reading Bitch Ph.D.'s blog on my Treo. And I couldn't wait to get home and get to my own blog. I guess that's true love.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Tasks for tomorrow

Laundry--always--2 loads down, 5 to go
5 pages of novel--really need to do this
Read short story for Writer's group
Buy birthday present
Soccer party
Soccer game--cancelled
Birthday party

Is that enough? I think so. I really need to work on the novel. I started a blog for it and everything. I thought I would use it to keep notes, but I'm in one of my down times. This always happens. I'll write nearly every day for a few months, then go through about a month where I won't write anything. I think this means it's going to take forever to finish. Luckily, there's nothing really riding on it. I just want to do it--but obviously not enough to drag myself away from the blog to work on it. I will, though. I have my writing group and my book club, back to back, both of which inspire me in some way. I've been reading a lot of nonfiction lately and frankly, it's not very conducive to inspiring fiction writing. Blog writing maybe, but not fiction. Maybe next year I'll be finished with the novel and can participate in Na-No-Blog-Mo.


Today was actually a good day for once. It was pouring rain, so there was no construction and thus, no fumes. We had a coffee hour (as we have every Friday) where students, staff and faculty drink coffee, eat donuts and talk. Very nice. Then I went to the library and actually did some reading. I've made an appointment with myself to read at least one hour on MWF. When you're a 9-5 staffer, this is hard to do. But it's part of my job to keep up with theories and emerging trends in technology and education. I was going to read a journal, but all the good stuff is online anyway, so I ended up with a book, The Digital Revolution and the Coming of the Postmodern University. So far I like it, but I'm only two chapters in. I sat in a cozy corner with my iPod and my book. It was so nice.

Then I ran my workshop on Blackboard as a pedagogical tool which I was worried about because only 4 people signed up. But 10 people ended up coming and we had a nice, lively discussion. Afterwards, a couple of people set up appointments with me to do some technology stuff, which was exciting. I felt very validated.

And now, it's movie night and we're watching Mulan. Life is good.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Sex is bad

This Newsday article reveals the conservative opposition to sex. Apparently they blame Kinsey for AIDS, abortion and pornography. Mr. GM worked for the Kinsey Institute in grad school, categorizing naked bodies. Here's one of my favorite quotes:
If this was a true documentary, they would have included more negative information

Um . . . hello. It's a movie, not a documentary. Movies have no responsibility to truthfulness. Plus, if the negative information is that he caused the sexual revolution, then that's not exactly truthful information, is it?

Letters #2 & 3

I'm home today with a sick child, have actually done some work. I read and responded to e-mail, created a worksheet for the workshop tomorrow, and did a little research. I still need to create a blurb for a class I'm co-teaching with Mr. GM (more on that another time) and contribute some links and ideas to the wiki we've set up.

In my spare time, I sent off letters to Rick and Arlen about Alberto Gonzales, inspired by Helpy Chalk via Bitch, Ph.D.. My letter was not nearly so articulate as Helpy Chalk and worse, both of my senators are Republicans, so I'm doubtful they will have any effect. I figure they're not going to read them, so it doesn't really matter how inarticulate they are. But I promised myself I would voice my opinion, so I did.

Does anyone out there know of good places to track what legislation is up for debate or vote? I've tried to parse the senate and house web sites and I can't tell anything. No wonder citizens don't participate in government. It's so hard just to figure out what the legislation is about (and I have advanced degrees, for God's sake). It's like that amendment or proposition that David pointed out in Georgia. Or, I was watching the Daily Show from last night, and they were talking about the checkbox on the Florida registration box about mental incompetence that was written in horrid legalese.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Diesel Fume Induced Stupor

Work the last few days has been difficult at best. The building next to us is undergoing a major renovation, which will be good for us in the long run as the two buildings are probably going to be connected in the end. In the short term, however, the construction crew has located its diesel generator right next to our our air intake. We are located in the basement of the building very little fresh air circulating. For the last three days, we have been inhaling (off and on) these diesel fumes. This has actually been going on all summer. We've complained loudly. Finally, we filed a formal complaint with OSHA and wrote a letter to the head of our physical plant. We should hear a response in a few days. In our particular office, we've suffered headaches, burning eyes, and some difficulty breathing. Lovely working environment, no? We have occasionally had to vacate the building, which means we're not really doing our work. A little bit of a revolt going on here. Must close now . . . feeling . . . light-headed . . .eye twitching . . .

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Thanksgiving: Family Celebration or Family Feud?

I am spending Thanksgiving with my mother in Memphis, TN. I haven't been there in over two years. For one thing, it's very far away now and we have to fly and that costs a lot of money. But perhaps more importantly, I have a strained relationship with my mother. I know there are lots of strained mother-daughter relationships out there, but in addition to having to deal with my mother, I get her husband's whole family. And my mother's whole family. Now these people are all old-school Southerners. Most of them came of age in the 60s and basically saw their whole way of life fall apart during the Civil Rights movement. Here are some observations I've made about my family (which may or may not be true of any or all other Southerners):

1. Black people are to be tolerated because the law says so, but we will not be friends with them or, God forbid, let our children date or marry them. Many of society's ills are blamed on them (or Hispanics--new minority in the South).

2. Women's primary role is wife and mother. If she chooses to work, it's because there's some financial need for it.

3. Women should always look their best. Makeup and coiffed hair is de rigeur.

4. Women should be gracious even as they are being insulted.

5. Sports--especially college sports--is very important. We don't understand people who don't know what games are on on Saturdays.

6. The best jobs are the ones that require men to wear ties.

7. If you're religious, drinking is bad. If you're not religious, drinking is required--a lot of drinking. (My family is in the not religious camp for the most part.)

8. How much money you make is important, but what's more important is looking like you make more than you really do.

9. No white after Labor Day or before Easter is a rule. Break it at your own risk!

Let me just say that I have lived my life in a way that goes against all the above statements--except maybe the drinking one, but only in moderation. :) Not only do have these edicts to deal with, but the post election political discussion. My mom voted for Kerry, but she's really not all that upset about Bush winning. Her husband, his whole family, the rest of my mom's family all voted for Bush. I've already given her a little hint of the determination I feel to not let Bush rule with an iron fist. I'm thinking of secretly recording conversations over Thanksgiving dinner, just so I'll be sure to remember them.

I will probably not rock the boat as much as I feel I'm going to now, but I'm also steeling myself for the racist, sexist comments. I frankly will not tolerate them in front of my children. I promise not to talk about gay sex in front of them or be the first to throw out some political topic. But I refuse to stand by silently. I think they would do the same. Maybe. Another thing I forgot to mention above is "Be polite at all costs. If you can't say something nice, say nothing at all." But don't invite the rude person to the next cocktail party. I think I'll just be taking a lot of deep cleansing breaths the whole plane trip.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Out of control?

My life feels out of control. Which is odd because I was working really hard to get it under control. I'm not sure what happened. Maybe it's being in Bushworld. I was thinking as I was making dinner and it was taking longer than I thought and trying to remember where to drop off youngest daughter for the field trip tomorrow and dealing with homework problems again and trying to remember if I paid a particular bill, "What could the government do to make life better?"

I'm not sure if there is anything. I made my choice to work and have kids (the root of my chaotic state most of the time), in part because that's what my parents and a bad Enjoli? commercial told me. Could I have stayed home, in order to feel like I have more control over my home life? Yes, and no. We are not the best financial planners in the world. With both of us in graduate school together and then at least one of us in grad school up until two years ago, we didn't have a huge amount of cash flow. We've made bad decisions--like not buying a house in one town which would have given us capital to buy in the next and then the next. Like living off of credit cards one summer, with one child already. My decision to go back to school at all might have been a bad decision. I had an assistantship, sure, but if I'd had a regular job--or even if I'd stayed at home, things might have been a little better. I chose to work in part as a result of these poor financial decisions. We needed money to buy a house after moving (unexpectedly) to an area with a significantly higher cost of living. Our previous house cost a third as much as our current one. Even if we'd made more money than we did on the sale of the house, I doubt we could have purchased a house quickly.

Maybe there's something in this the government could have done--provided free financial planning, a tax credit so that choosing to work vs. choosing to stay at home is more of choice, encouraging, or even requiring, businesses to offer flexible schedules or part-time jobs.

What tugs at me now is not so much the financial issues (though with a mortgage, they're definitely there), but my concern for my kids. Am I spending enough time with them? Am I setting a bad example for them by putting other things first sometimes--my work or my writing? Will they turn out okay even if homework is not always turned in or if mom (or dad) isn't waiting for them at the bus and they are taken care of by "strangers"? I don't expect my government to take care of all of this, but I do expect it to help create an environment where people feel comfortable with the choice they've made and the lives they are trying to lead.

And I think this idea applies to the issue of gay marriage as well. If I feel threatened by the whole "family values" issue of the "bad working mom" (it's still there--think of Teresa), I can only imagine how gay couples must feel. There are choices that will be made for them as a result of some of these amendments and laws--places they can't work (state governments, state universities), how to deal with many end of life decisions (Social Security benefits, inheritance). How many choices are we forced away from because of the way society constructs its laws to benefit a certain family construct?

UPDATE: See post at 11D about Home Alone America, a new "mommy-war" book.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Some kid stuff

I've been wanting to post about these things, but haven't because I've been so caught up in my own post-election mourning. First, on election day, my son (9) and his best friend (10 and from a Republican family) stood out on the street corner with clipboards and signs. One sign read "Honk once if you voted for Bush"; the other "Honk twice if you voted for Kerry." They tallied the honks and came up with 48-48. Future pollsters?

Second thing, we went to see The Incredibles yesterday and took the best friend with us. On our way back to the car, Mr. GM asked who would run for president in 2008. The best friend said I should run. I asked why. He said, "Well, you're smart and nice and you're a good campaigner." I was touched by that, and heartened for the country in general.

Third thing, my son wanted to earn money and so offered to rake the leaves to the street. His friend called and invited him over to watch a movie right as he was starting on his raking. I explained what he was doing and in about 20 minutes, all the neighborhood kids were in our back yard, helping him rake so that he and his sister could watch the movie with them. Our camera's batteries had died or I would have posted a photo. It was really cute.

I'm a sloth

You are Sloth!
Lazy huh ?? You're a bit slow in getting going -
and tend not to do anything unless it is
absolutely necessary. You'd rather sit around,
watch TV/Sleep then go out and about with
friends, or take part in a sporting event. On
the positive side, you tend to be quite smart,
as you spend a lot of time watching the News
(!!) or on the computer, Also by conserving
your energy, it's right there waiting for you
when it's vitally important to get going.
Consider possibly moving out of the room once in a
while - and perhaps once a week trade watching
TV for half an hour with a walk - and you'll be
back on track.
However, Congratulations on being the most
intelligent of the 7 deadly sins...

?? Which Of The Seven Deadly Sins Are You ??
brought to you by Quizilla

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Open Letter To The Democratic Party: How You Could Have Had My Vote

If you haven't seen this already, which I got, via Instapundit, it's an interesting read.

The Second Coming

After reading this post at apophenia, I thought of Yeats' poem in a more emotive way than interpretive. The beginning and the end are especially resonant for me. Here it is in its entirety:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Courtesy: Academy of American Poets

My first letter

Based on all the furor surrounding Specter's statements on dealing with Supreme Court appointments (some links: here, here, and here), I sent off my first letter (e-mail really) to Senator Specter. I tried to be somewhat conciliatory, reminding him that we need middle ground right now and not extremism. I told him not to cave to the extremists in the Republican party. Despite the fact that he's a Republican and there are a lot of things I disagree with him on, we're going to need moderates like him to make sure Bush doesn't push through an extremist agenda. I'm urging all of you to do what you can--write you representatives, work to oust the ones you don't like in 2006. Those campaigns will begin soon, so start looking for candidates, start supporting them--with money, people, whatever it takes.

Bleeding heart liberal--that's me

Thanks to Cheeky Prof, I found out I am a

Friday, November 05, 2004

Drinking to kill the pain

Went out with my boss and some other colleagues to help alleviate our depression over the election. It was nice actually because it was a group I work with all the time, but hardly ever socialize with. We were able to laugh at some stuff, talk about sports and cute guys--which was really funny when I finally said to my boss, a lesbian, "Why am I talking to you about this?" She said, "Hey, I can appreciate the form." So it was a good letting down of the hair all the way around. We're letting go, but we're never going to forget. As my boss said (and I feel weird calling her my boss cause she's really a friend), people don't fully realize how hard the gay and lesbian community is taking this election. Many of them really feel that it was a slap in the face specifically to them. There's a lot of work to do. And maybe the beer makes us feel better for a while, but tomorrow morning, we have to get to work.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

A southerner in a blue state speaks out

I came in this morning and asked people if they felt better on day 2 in Bushworld (thanks, jimbo. No one did. My office mate said he felt worse, was even angrier and then began to rant on how it was toothless guys in the south who did it. Now, I grew up in the south and have lived in the south for 28 of my 36 years. Yes, there are toothless, ignorant people there, but most of them are so poor and live in such rural areas that I seriously doubt if they voted at all. The south is a strange place. It is, admittedly, not a good place (in most parts) to be black, hispanic, jewish, asian, gay, or even female. But there are plenty of educated, open-minded, generally good people there who are just as upset as those of us in the blue states. I was in the south in 2000 and believe me, people there fought to get Gore in office. But the south is still pretty afraid of change--even some of the more liberal folks in the south don't like to rock the boat too much. I mean, it took a civil war to convince them to get rid of slavery. It took a pretty radical civil rights movement which finally ended in legislation to give blacks equal education and to allow them to sit at the same lunch counter with white people.

Those two revolutions have really scarred them. For them, change means revolution, chaos, not something gradual or positive. The south has a long memory about such things. People still talk about the civil war as if it happened yesterday. And the civil rights movement, it's even more a part of their memory. It's hard to explain, too, how moderate and liberal southerners are both proud of their heritage and ashamed of it. In many ways, I am nostalgic for the antebellum south, but I know that the cost of such a way of life was too much to pay. It is a dream, anyway, painted by those who would like to think that if things were still the same, their lives would be better.

I don't want the Democrats to meet them halfway, to give ground to those who would go back to separate but equal. But I do want them to stop labelling them as half-witted bigots. There are half-witted bigots in the north, too. In fact, by sheer population count, there may be more. The south has economic issues that the Democrats could capitalize on. Most areas in the south are growing in population, but at the same time, have a large uneducated population that cannot be readily employed in all cases. Educated people leave (witness me), leaving a gaping hole in a lot of businesses. How do you build a technology sector when all the programmers move to California? Education is a big issue there, both because they would like to keep the brain drain from happening and because most of the states' schools are at the bottom of the list. Test scores are not going to help them. They need the basics--textbooks, supplies, good teachers, buildings. A little more federal funding could go a long way in a lot of places. Check the NEA for real data, especially the report on expenitures, which shows that southern states spend less per student that the Northeast (almost half as much in many cases) and that teachers in the south receive a significantly lower salary.

And I think the Democrats could get to the women. But they'll have to be careful here. The women of the south do not like Teresa Kerry types, generally. Many of them choose to stay at home, even when they have the education and the skills to get an excellent job. They just feel it's the right thing to do. But they also feel unappreciated and many of them would like to go back to work part time, but not at Wal-Mart. There aren't that many good part-time jobs for women with brains and skills. And working women would appreciate eliminating the wage gap and some help moving up the ladder.

So stop reviling them because you don't understand them and find some common ground. And you don't need to give up your own values to help sort all this out. It will help us all in the long run.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

What Now--Part II

There's a lot going on in the blog world tonight. The internet seems to be slower than molasses. I think we are all finally recovering from our shock and deciding what to do about it. Several places that have helped me think about this are Bitch, Ph.D., Unfogged, The Cul de Sac, and Scrivenings.
Here is my own personal list of where I want to go from here--what kind of country I want to live in.

1. A place where we appreciate our differences and resolve to make sure that people are not discriminated against because of those differences. No matter what your sex, race, creed, sexual orientation, you have the same rights as everyone else. Gay couples can marry, adopt children, pay taxes, get the same kinds of jobs, get the same health benefits, etc. as everyone else.
2. A place where we do our best to level the playing field. This means providing greater educational opportunities in poor populations, greater economic opportunities in those same populations. This will probably also mean a close examination of the tax code so we can go back to an income tax instead of the wage tax we currently have.
3. I want to be in a country that takes seriously its position in the world as a big economic power and helps 3rd world countries deal with poverty, genocide, civil war, AIDs and other problems those countries struggle with more than we do. I want us to put diplomacy and world partnerships first always.
4. A balanced budget. If I have to have one, then so does the government.
5. More support for women. Find a way to get rid of the wage gap. Support women (and men) who choose to stay at home to raise children. Provide better support for families where both parents work. Find ways to encourage more women to run for office or to become CEOs. Protect a woman's right to choose.

There's plenty more--but those are the big ones for now. To start, I'm becoming more involved in my own local political scene. Here's the website for my township's democratic party.

What now?

I was too tired to even post anything. Let me just say that I think my precinct is a microcosm of the whole country. My precinct is run by a bunch of old white guys in polyester pants and bad sweaters. They've got nothing better to do, so they run for school board, election board, etc. Their basic goal is to have enough time to play golf and keep out all the gays, blacks, hispanics, and commies. When I walked in, they looked at me like, "Why aren't you home baking cookies and taking care of the kiddos?" They won't say that out loud, but it was exuded from their being. And there were shenanigans at my precinct--minor ones, but still. Let's just say that it's a good thing I was there.

So I'm mad about the election. And to top off losing the top of the ticket, I am represented by only Republicans--Curt Weldon (house), Rick Santorum and Arlen Specter. My plan is to make their lives a living hell. I am going to write to them every day. I am letting somebody know how I feel and I am going to work harder to elect democrats to replace them. And if that doesn't work, I'm moving to France.

No work is getting done here today--by anyone. We're all depressed and angry and feel like we've had the rug pulled out from under us. I'm off to read some more blogs.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Off to the polls

5:49 a.m. Leaving in 1/2 hour to go help set up the polls. Last night, lots of Mylanta. It was either the chili or nerves over the election. Could be both. Still feeling it a little this morning. Driving over with my neighbor and taking all the democratic signs with us. I'll be on the inside, checking the machines, putting up instructions, sample ballots, the absentee roster, checking the voter rolls. We have a small precinct. I don't expect any trouble. I am heartened by conversations overheard yesterday. People are anxious--which I think means they'll get out and vote. They don't want to be on the sidelines like 2000. After the polls close, I'm going out for a beer. I can't wait to see the returns! Good luck everyone! And if you haven't voted--go vote!

Monday, November 01, 2004


We are once again having homework difficulties. Let me just say that I am by no means perfect, but that it's not like I'm sittin' in front of the tv drinking bud and not caring whether my kid makes it through fourth grade or not. However, the teachers are making me feel like the latter. Phone call from the math teacher with dire warnings--homework not coming in, grade will suffer. If you read my previous post, you know I'm a bit anxious about this whole thing. Let me just say that my kid is smart, especially in math, but he's forgetful. I'm not forgiving his forgetfulness, but it is kind of hard for me to make sure he's done his homework when he hasn't written it down. Ugh! I'm at my wit's end. I made him do all of his homework tonight, including homework that he had previously forgotten, despite the fact that he doesn't have school tomorrow and could have finished it then. I just wanted to emphasize the importance of getting something done and not putting it off. Not that I'm a good example of that--which brings me to my goal for this month--set a better example.

The chaos in my house has gotten to nearly epic proportions. I'm going to try my best to keep it to a minimum. This means enlisting the help of the kids--and perhaps more importantly, Mr. GM. Maybe I'll give him a copy of The Second Shift. Seriously. He's a great guy--does his fair share when it comes to the kids, but is kind of a putterer when it comes to housework. He's sporadic. For a while, he'll be all over cleaning up the kitchen, for example, and then months will go by where I'm having to beg and plead. You'd think these things wouldn't matter that much, but on a day like today when I feel like I've had to take care of everything and have borne the brunt of criticism and whatnot, I feel like I need a little help.

I really do wish I were better at the housekeeping stuff myself. I don't know why, but I somehow feel like if my house were tidy, my kid would do his homework. I know this isn't entirely logical, but there might be some truth to it. In so many ways, I feel like we're setting a good example--we encourage reading, writing, and thinking; we teach respect for other and for the earth; we value family and friends. In other ways--completing tasks on time, neatness and organization, responsibility for day to day duties--I feel like we're failing. Sigh. Is there something in this election for me? Support for the working moms (and they all do.)

Voting--1 day to go

Want to find out who's on your ballot? Or send this link to friends who may not already know? Project Vote Smart is a great place to find out who's on the ballot and where they stand on the issues. When I first moved to Arkansas, it was just a few months before the 1996 election. This site is where I found out everything I needed to know.