About Me

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My interests include veganism and vegetarianism, health, ethics, politics and culture, media, and the environment. I have three kids; I teach college part-time, study piano and attempt to garden. I knit. I blog on just about anything, but many posts are related to my somewhat pathetic quest to eat better, be more mindful of the environment, and be a more responsible news consumer. Sometimes I write about parenting, but, like so many Mommy bloggers, my kids have recently told me not to. :) Thanks for reading.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

It. Is. NOT. A. Mouse.

My husband and I recently gave a talk on our respective immigration research in Bend, OR as part of the Deschutes Public Library's program, A Novel Idea.  We had planned this months in advance, and our friend Kendall was going to watch the kids while we were away.  Since Kendall (who I've written about before) has been out of work, this was going to help her, too (earning money to stay with ourkids).

Well, she GOT A JOB!  And her first day coincided *exactly* (and, for our perspective, amazingly inconveniently) with our days away.  She still said she'd watch the kids, and between her schedule, our older child's AMAZING help, and the local community center, we made it work.

But, as all plans must, things went a little awry.

On her second day of work, Kendall told me she was in the bathroom, getting ready,  when our youngest son comes in and starts pulling on her shirt.

As all working mothers know, this encourages the following responses:  "Stop pulling on my clothes!" and "I'll talk to you in a minute!"

My son says, "Kendall, there's a problem."  (Houston, we have a problem.)

Kendall says, "I'm sure it's OK."

Son:  "No, it's not."

Kendall (trying to be creative and funny):  "Oh, it's probably a mouse!"

Son:  "IT. IS. NOT. A. MOUSE!"

Son:  "It is BAD.  You need to come."

Kendall, thinking that she has *almost* gotten through her first two days of work without any kind of catastrophe from my kids (she's had the barf and blood night with them, the exploding-things-in-microwave experience, and the GOD-help-me-my-stress-ball-just-exploded-all-over-Mom's-computer-keyboard), walks into the kitchen like a soldier being led into battle.

The kitchen floor (which we recently refinished, to the tune of $1500) is COVERED in soap bubbles.

Seems our oldest, in another attempt to be very helpful, thought she'd run the dishwasher.

But she used Palmolive soap.  The hand kind.

Kendall now has 20 minutes to a) finish getting ready, b) get the kids to the community center, c) save the kitchen floor and d) get to work on time.

She and our daughter started mopping up the floor with towels and stopped the dishwasher and pulled everything out, in order to scoop bubbles out of the bottom and put them in the sink.  Then Kendall instructed our daughter to keep running the rinse cycle until all bubbles were gone. She monitored this from her new job.  Thank God for cell phones.

When we came home, the sink was full of dirty dishes but the dishwasher was SPARKLING clean! :)

And the floor was saved.

And everybody survived.

The talk went well, the experience marred slightly by a speeding ticket, which, when you add the cost of that to the cost of babysitting (Kendall) conveniently equals the amount of our honorarium.

I still think it was worth it to get away.

But it was NOT a mouse.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


It's spring.  Baseball season has started.  I mean this both in terms of how often my home TV is tuned to a baseball game and in regards to how our family schedule now revolves around the **&&!! Little League practice and game schedule.

It's grueling.  Two or three games a week plus practices.  And the other kids have sports commitments, too.

Parents of small children:  Unless you want MONTHS of your life dominated by sitting around watching the slowest game in the world, do NOT sign your kids up for baseball.  It's torture.  Soccer games are over in 60 minutes or so.  Ditto basketball (and you don't have to sit in the rain!).  Ditto hockey.  And all of those sports involve some serious physical activity.  In other words, the kids get in shape.

But baseball?  Try three hours of monotony and kids spending far too much time standing or sitting.  It's boring for spectators and it is incredibly unathletic. It's an art -- an impressive one when done well -- but it is less than athletic for most players. 

Our son loves the game, so, being the considerate parents we are, we've been tolerating this baseball stuff for several years now.  When he was littler, it was *kinda* fun.  I loved T-ball, in fact.  So darn cute.  And his first team after that was wonderful -- the coach was easy-going and very fair about letting all kids have a turn to play. 

I can tolerate just about anything if my kid is having a good time and I perceive the coaching as fair and age-appropriate.

But now he's in Little League MAJORS.  Coaches act as if any "infraction" (shirt not tucked in) is justification for benching your kid.  Our kid has had to sit out for two games in a row, watching several less talented kids play because of a mistake *we* (the parents) made, not him.

We forgot about the opening day ceremony (and he forgot to tuck in his shirt).

We told the coaches that we had messed up with the schedule; it wasn't our son's fault.

But our son has paid the price for it. (This despite the fact that the coach emailed me and said that he understood our error and that he wouldn't penalize our son for it.)


As if that wasn't enough, our kid has been yelled at by one of the coaches ("Get out there and warm up the catcher!"  NOW!") and has had things thrown at him by a coach (my husband took care of that problem, and the coach admitted he had "lost it").  (Apparently, our son wasn't putting on his gloves fast enough.)

Is it worth it to pay all this money for a fancy uniform, for bats, for gloves, for balls, for shoes, for batting gloves and to attend tryouts and practices *and play at least as well as most of the kids on the team* and still be benched for two games in a row because of a mistake the *parents* made?

We're having our son stick out the rest of the season.  Dependability and responsibility and discipline and commitment to the team and all that.

And we're encouraging a 100% commitment to soccer and track next year. 

Bye bye baseball.  You want a kid who can play?  (Ours can.)  Play fair.  And treat your players with respect.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Beyond. Pissed. Off.

A few years ago, I got it (mostly) through my thick skull that anything that I posted online was there forever, and might be read by ANYBODY, including, obviously, people that I would never want to hurt.  I still make mistakes from time to time, but, for the most part, what I say online is something I'd be comfortable saying out loud, in public.  There are a few things I've posted in recent years that I regret.  Of course, most of what I would put in the "regrettable" category is something I only understand in hindsight.


A few posts back, I wrote about how upset I was to discover some students were posting notes from my lectures to a website (Notehall).  Since then, I found out who the students were, confronted one of them face-to-face and openly talked about the problem in class, and the problem stopped.

Or so I thought.

Today, I googled myself (something I recommend everyone do from time to time) and discovered my lectures on another website (scribd.com).

I'm beyond pissed off.

I explicitly told my students that my intellectual property was not theirs to make money off of.  I explicitly told them that I do not post my lectures anywhere, and that I do not want them posted anywhere.  (I'm actually less concerned about them selling their notes to each other as I am upset that my lectures appear in various places online, for future students -- or other professors -- to use without my consent.)

Apparently, that doesn't matter at all to some students.

They should know that I've discussed this problem at length with the University's Office of Student Conduct, which is working out which multiple student codes this behavior violates.

Expulsion is one potential punishment.

I hope they read this blog, and I will cross-post this one to my class blog.

The rule is simple:  if it's not yours and is not already on the internet, don't post it.

It makes sense that we all have to worry about reactions to what we *do* post online; but we should not have to worry about those materials that we explicitly try to keep off the internet.

Privacy and property.

They still matter.

To some people, at least.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Eastmoreland Chicken and Pig Lady

I haven't thought about stenciling in a L-O-N-G time.  

But, as so often happens, a silly discussion on Facebook got me taking  a trip down memory lane.

A friend posted that there are ELEVEN Starbucks in Lake Oswego, Oregon, but none of them have a drive-thru. (Depending on your POV, this is either a tragedy or a travesty.)  My sister responded that the lack of drive-thrus at Lake Oswego (Lake No Negro?) Starbucks are explainable by the population that frequents them:  the jogging SAHMs who stop in after their exercise to drink coffee, chat and eat scones (hence necessitating the need for exercise in the first place).

John (childless and not a resident of Lake Oswego) then asked, "What's a SAHM?"

Somebody filled him in, to which he replied, "Is that the equivalent of the Eastmoreland Chicken and Pig Lady?"

Now, I was not aware of the ECPL, but apparently, back in the 1980s, when (cough) John, my sister and I were in high school, the ECPLs were the SAHMs of their era and neighborhood, busily decorating their kitchens with stenciled patterns of chickens and pigs.

Yes, indeed, the contemporary Starbucks-going, jogging SAHMs are most likely the descendants of the ECPLs.  I'm not sure if they stencil too.  Seems scrap booking is more "in" these days.

The image of stenciling made me remember the spring break of 1983, when my sister and I decided we'd completely re-paint and stencil our room.  Mom and Dad were happy to hear we had such ambitious plans for our room and happily bought us the needed paint, paintbrushes, drop cloths and stencils.

We had a French exchange student spending the week with us (ostensibly to escape the family she was actually living with).  She must have returned to France to regale her family and friends with the reality that she'd had the most boring Americans EVER to live with.  After all, she spent spring break painting a bedroom with me and my sister.

We didn't choose pigs and chickens.

Flowers and vines.  Clearly, we were not residents of Eastmoreland.

Thanks, Francoise!