Thursday, February 6, 2014


Freakmom applauds CVS for their announcement to stop selling cigarettes.  I think this move is long overdue, but I would never had expected to see it.  We have "come a long way baby" in the anti-tobacco movement.

Remember when cigarette ads were prevalent?  Joe Camel and the Marlboro man.  Those days are gone.  Both are dead and buried from lung cancer and emphysema.

How about smoking in offices?  I once turned down a job because I would have had to share an unventilated basement office with 2 smokers.  Well, there were other unappealing parts of the job as well, but I really didn't want to sit in that office all day with them puffing away.  I wrote a position paper in college once about banning smoking in the workplace.  While I got an A on the paper, the smoking teacher said "yeah, that will never happen."  Her reason, smoking was as addictive as heroin.  My response?  I don't want my employees doing heroin in the office either.  (Boy, am I a smart mouth or what?)

Now there's no smoking in most public buildings (depending on what state you live in, your mileage may vary).  Some places have no smoking anywhere on the grounds.

Yes, CVS has made a giant step forward for public health.  Every little step gets us closer to being a healthier society. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Oh Willie, Say It Isn't So

Yep, Woodstock Willie saw his shadow this morning.  Six more weeks of winter.  What are the odds that the first sunny day we have in weeks is on Groundhog Day!  Guess we're in for more freezing, ice, snow (lather, rinse, repeat). 

I did hear that February is supposed to be worse than December or January were.

Today is the Puppy Bowl, so we'll be watching.  I think there's some other sports event going on, but I'm not sure.  I don't care.  The puppies are so darned cute!

Speaking of puppies, we need kitty food.  We're really, really low.  I know Monday and Tuesday are going to be busy days for me, and Violet has art both nights, so unless Mr. I can go one of those days, I need to run to Walmart today.  Joy. 

I do want to pick up some stuff for our Valentine's Day Juliette meeting.  We're going to attempt to make chocolate pizza and peanut butter cups.  I like these recipes because both are supposed to set up before you eat them.  Which means they'll need to take them home first.  Which means I don't have to hear "can we eat them now?"  And have them all eat a ton of chocolate right before lunch. 

I looked at the sock bunny Violet made at the library, it is super simple!  I found a bunch of polka dot socks online and ordered them with the dues money.  We'll make them later in the month.  I'll post a photo blog of how they are done when I do my sample.

Mr. I and were just talking about 2 years ago.  We had a blizzard, more than 2 feet of snow on Groundhog Day.  They canceled Willie completely.  It isn't an all bad gig to be the groundhog.  Sometimes you do get to take a snow day.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Groundhog Eve

My long time readers will know, Groundhog Day is a big deal around here.  The movie Groundhog Day was filmed in Woodstock, just down the road.  (I like say we're from Woodstock, we just live a little outside the city limits - about 10 miles within the city limits of another town.)  Mr. I's business is in Woodstock, on the Square - which played the part of Punxsutawney in the film.  Today is Groundhog Eve and there's tons to do to prepare for Woodstock Willie's appearance tomorrow morning.  (Who's the Phil guy people talk about?  Willie is the true groundhog.)

All weekend the movie is playing at the local theater for free.  Where else can you go to see a movie that's more than 20 years old?  Expect a crowd.  There was a bowling event benefiting a group Mr. I is involved with.  You could go on the walking tour of the sites - but I wouldn't recommend it.  It snowed all day and is cold.  You can do the same tour in the summer.

Want to see more Woodstock?  Check out the Wikipedia link.  The store Sewing Concepts in one of the photos? That's where Violet learned to sew a couple of summers ago.

Other movies have been filmed here (well, one or two at least, parts of them) but none have captured the hearts of the locals like Groundhog Day. 

So set your alarm clock, you don't want to miss it!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


No, we're not getting more of it (at least not right now).  It is the mounds of it I'm complaining about.  The temperature got up to zero this afternoon, and the roads weren't snow or ice covered, so I decided to run some needed errands (because who knows when this opportunity will present itself again).  I had more trouble seeing around of 10 foot plus high mounds of snow in parking lots.  One entrance I tried to pull into (to get to a Walgreens) was completely inaccessible due to the snow.  I had already passed the other entry, not anticipating the second one wouldn't be plowed.  Grr.  Luckily there's a Walgreens approximately every 50 feet, so I went to a different one.  (I think there's a whole blog post just in the number of Walgreens within a couple of miles of my house.)

Have I mentioned I'm ready for spring?

How about that I'm sick of Girl Scouts. Have I mentioned that?  I'm finishing up my last volunteer job (because if I back out at this point I'd only hurt my fellow volunteers and the girls, the two groups I'd never want to leave high and dry).  Finally we got the date for the cookie pickup:  February 12th.  Is it just me, or is barely 2 weeks notice to drop everything and get cookies loaded into your car a bit short notice?  Previously we had a 5 day period we were supposed to just "hold" for pickup.  What kind of craziness is that?  It is perfectly fine if you are one of the "spoiled self absorbed yuppie pukes" (as Mental so accurately put it) and it is your job.  But for the rest of us, it is unacceptable.  I can't hold 5 days like this.  They got a little bent out of shape when I asked if they could narrow it down for me.  Guess that wasn't self absorbed enough for them!  (Mental you are a wordsmith!  I love you!)

Mark your calendars, it will snow and ice on February 12th.

Never...even...eating...another...Girl Scout cookie...ever...again.

Speaking of which, I got a FitBit!  (Trail of thought: no cookies, fewer calories, weight loss, fitness, FitBit).  I am just figuring out how to use it.  If you have one and would like to be FitBit buddies with me, let me know!  I need all the support (and eyes watching my steps) I can get!

p.s. Okay, it wasn't that I didn't anticipate that the second entrance into Walgreens wouldn't be plowed, it was actually that I forgot I needed to stop there until I was already past the first entrance.  Sigh.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Maybe we're getting used to it

Shortly after I posted yesterday, all the schools in the area started announcing that they would also be closed on Tuesday.  But businesses don't seem to be reacting this time.  Maybe because of the downtime this winter due to weather, both cold and snow, they are getting less sympathetic to it.

My company sent out messages "work from home or in the down town office if it is more convenient", "work it out with your supervisor", etc. the first deep freeze.  This time, nothing.  Two women in my department did work from home today.  Both have kids in schools which were closed.  But that was it (besides those of us who normally work remotely).  Not a single message about using your judgement.  Hmm, the fact that "busy season" is well under way for most of the firm doesn't have anything to do with it, does it?

Mr. I is on the board of directors for a not-for-profit in town.  Their board meeting is scheduled for 7:00 am tomorrow.  The wind chill is predicted to be minus 24 at that time.  The organizer sent out a message, "should we postpone?"  Mr. I replied back, that's a good idea.  But others said no, they'd already planned their weeks.  I said if those who wouldn't change aren't there, there should be consequences.  Funny, he hasn't told me who they are.  I think he's afraid of what my "consequences" might be.  Smart man.

No delivery delay notices this time.  The garbage didn't pick up though.  At least they weren't making the guys go out in the cold.  Wonder about tomorrow though. 

So for once, it looks like the schools might have it right.  Violet plans on sitting outside with a book and lemonade, her feet up, relaxing, watching the kids trudge home in June when they are making up their days.  She'll be "bwahaha-ing" the whole time!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

More freezing

The wind has picked up and the temperature has dropped.  The wind chill is currently 6, but is going down, way down below zero.  All the schools, libraries and universities in the area have already announced they are closed tomorrow.  So is the art studio and the swim club.  At this rate the schools are going to use up all their snow days for the year.  In recent years they've rarely closed at all.  Definitely an unusual winter.

Mr. I. went out and got us milk and a few other supplies.  He said the north-south roads were in bad shape with blowing snow.  The towels are still crammed in most of the windows to keep out drafts.  Mr. I is probably going to work from home tomorrow so his car won't have to sit out in the cold and wind all day in the parking lot.

I can't wait for spring.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Dumbing Us Down - The Encore

After reading through and thinking about Oliver DeMille's questions and listening to the debriefing recording, I find I have a few more things to write about Dumbing Us Down.  Since you seemed to enjoy my other rambles about the book, I thought I'd put these here too as my encore.

DeMille cited the following quote from Gatto:  “School is a 12-year jail sentence where bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned. I teach school and win awards doing it. I should know.” and asked our thoughts.

I think high school especially felt like a jail.  I knew how to work the system and get good grades without learning anything.  I could have (and in some cases did) learned more studying on my own than in the classroom.  I counted down the days until I could get out and move on to college where I hoped to actually learn something.  When I got my college acceptance letter in December, I just phoned it in through the end of the school year.

I learned how to skim through things.  How to memorize what would be on the test.  How to parrot back what the teacher wanted to hear.  All bad habits.

I did not learn to think for myself.  I did not learn to read and comprehend.  I did not learn to study for the joy of studying, rather than to pass the test.  I did not learn to pay attention in lectures.  I had to learn those good habits later in life and am still struggling to learn them now.

DeMille also asked about comments on this quote:   “It is possible that compelling people to do something guarantees that they will do it poorly, with a bad will, or indifferently…”?

I totally agree with Gatto on that one!  Making someone do something, especially when they don't know the reason behind it or see any value in it, won't lead to good results.  It will be done half-heartedly at best.  We see this at work all the time.  Assignments are done so poorly they have to be completely redone.  What a waste of time. 

How many books were you required to read in high school that you didn't want to read?  Did you remember anything from them?  I sure don't, except that I hated them and maybe that the teacher was stupid!  What a waste of time.

During the debrief there was a discussion on how the American family has lost their intellectual life.  People hardly ever think together.  They live together, eat together, etc.  We don't learn together or think together.  Even in our homeschool environment, we don't do enough of this.  Once in a while we have discussions with a book we're reading, but the three of us rarely read the same book: combinations of 2 of us do.  The only thing the three of us tend to discuss in depth are various Food Network competition series (Next Iron Chef, Rachel versus Guy, etc.)  Perhaps that should change.

Another idea that stuck with me:  You don't need to worry about what works or doesn't work for anyone else's family, only yours.  Their education isn't your problem.

Exactly!  And I wish others who chose a different path for their children would also know that.  I don't have to defend my decision to homeschool to anyone else.  And I don't care that you choose to send your kids to public schools.  It isn't my business.  I have never liked being the poster child for homeschooling.  I don't want to recruit anyone.  I don't want to spend hours while someone agonizes over the decision or not.  I suppose I should want to, but I don't.  They need to decide for themselves.  They need to answer for their decision, not me. 

And finally, DeMille threw out the question of what the "hidden curriculum" is in the subtitle of the book.  I don't really agree with the panel in the recording.  I think the hidden curriculum just refers to what actually goes on in schools.  People don't want to believe it, or don't see it.  They are so brainwashed to into believe that teachers know best, we don't know anything, and we can't possibly do it better.  The hidden curriculum is the power that the schools have over those who don't think for themselves.

Great book!  Great mentoring series, check it out if you think you are interested:  mentoring the classics.  The introductory price is available through the end of January only.

Next month:  Gifts from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  I plan to post my thoughts here on that one too.