Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Evolution in Texas

Over the weekend, while in Chicago, I read an article in the newspaper about Texas' decision on Friday to alter the way evolution is taught in schools for the next decade. 
Previously, educators were compelled to teach the strengths and weaknesses of all scientific theory.  Now, students in Texas will be scrutinizing "all sides" of scientific theories.
It's interesting to contemplate what this will actually mean because it won't affect curriculum only in Texas.  Schools in Texas will have to order new textbooks to reflect the new standards.  Because Texas purchases so many textbooks, they have a big influence on what is published.
So, when a state like Texas makes a change like this, it's important for the rest of the country to pay attention.
Initially, the decision to change the curriculum seems sound.  Science teachers will no longer be required to point out weaknesses in evolutionary theory, as they have been for 20 years.  In pointing out weaknesses, the door for introducing creationism was left open.
Still, some who have been watching the debate are wary that in "scrutinizing all sides" of scientific theory, the door to creationism in schools has not been closed. 
As it unfolds and the new standards are interpreted and argued among all interested parties, it will be interesting to see if the textbooks change significantly.
I also stumbled upon this page which, while from a religious source, does a good job of summarizing recent religion/science debate state-by-state (14 key states).

Monday, March 30, 2009

The First Rule of Bee Club.

"During the Beehive meetings we talk and do meeting related things (talk about bees, ideas, plan our business)."
-My daughter

My daughter has dozens of those laying around.  She uses a new one for each story, organizational system, or club she starts. 
Like the beehive club.

She started it with her friend when they were googling bees a couple of months ago for whatever reason.  They stumbled upon some kit for raising bees.  It's cost $170.  They wanted to know what they could do to earn the kit. 
I was rather unreceptive to buying the kit.  They decided to save the money instead so they could buy it themselves.  They now have $50.66.  I'm rather impressed with their determination.
That's not my point.

Kids get really excited about the idea of "No Parents Allowed."  (Just to be clear, parents are allowed in Beehive Club.)  Anytime there's an opportunity for them to be among others of their kind with NO PARENTS present, they become explicably exuberant.

It's not that they don't love us, it's that we, the evil parents, represent a system.  Structure.  We are the Man.
We are symbolic of the teeth that need to be brushed before school, the hands that need to be washed after going to the bathroom, and the homework that always comes before play.  No parents=no rules.
Or not.
Whenever my daughter creates a new club, she, as the club's founder, creates a code by which the members must abide.  It's the usual stuff:  everyone gets a chance to talk, roles are defined, agendas are set. 
But, in the absence of the symbol of necessary behaviors, they create one anyway.
Are they, the alien children, naturally power hungry?  Do they just want a little respect?  Or do they simply see the value of structure?
Would they brush their teeth anyway?


Monday, March 23, 2009

Book Review: The Accidental Tourist

This will be short.  (And, Dew, I promise to get to work on that empty shelf.)
Accidental Tourist was precisely the kind of book (on Kindle, of course) one escapes into.  It's not much of a thinker; still, it's refreshingly honest and possesses impeccable characterization.
The protagonist (who happens to be quite the antagonizer) and his wife of 20 years separate a year after losing their only son (a teen) after a fast-food robbery gone sour.  He spends a year apart from his wife during which he meets a younger woman who reads like white trash and she becomes the classic figurative breath of fresh air.  Ultimately, he ends up back with his wife and has to evaluate what his life has meant, etc.
The protagonist and his siblings live together in their grandmother's home for much of the time he's separated from his wife and provide some serious comic relief from the despairing undertones of the story.  You see, they are grammar Nazis.  You know that scored serious points with me.  They're always correcting the English of each person they come in contact with.
"Human beings can only go 'into' houses, cars, and coffins, Susan."
...or,  when the protag refers to his mother, after correcting her grammar:
"Wen Macon was small, he used to worry that his mother was teaching him the wrong names for things.  'They call this corduroy,' she'd said, buttoning his new coat, and he had thought, But do they really?" 
The book is very well written, the diction is superb, and it receives deserved kudos from all of the usual book review suspects, including the likes of John Updike.  I'd recommend it as I say above, for an escape.  It won't cause anyone to wax philosophical but it could give or reaffirm life's little intuitions.  Which leads me to my favorite sentence:
"He began to think that who you are when you're with somebody may matter more than whether you love her."
Not sure if I completely agree with him ^there, but it was a perfect realization for him at the time and it made me smile.
I'm giving Kindle a brief rest (except for my New Yorker subscription) to read a book on my shelf that's been unfinished since summer, Ethan Frome.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mothers and Daughters; or, Jenna Must Think I'm Pretty Darned Boring

Okay, I've seen this floating around lately (first spotted by Jenilu Who, only on Facebook) and decided to fill it out.  Only, instead of simply having my child answer questions about me, I've also answered questions about my mom.  So, here you have it, Jenna (my 10 year old) answering (rather vaguely, I must say) questions about me and me answering questions about Tammy.
1. What is something mom always says to you?
Jenna:  "I love you" and "Do your homework"
Melissa:  After glassy-eyed-pretending-to-listen-to-whatever-I'm-saying, "Okay, honey."

2. What makes mom happy?
Jenna:  When I bring all of my homework home.
Melissa:  Liquor.

3. What makes mom sad?
Jenna:  When there is bad news.
Melissa:  Too many things that are out of her control.

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
Jenna:  By tickling me.
Melissa:  Usually it involves making fun of someone.

5. What was your mom like as a child?
Jenna:  I am not sure.
Melissa:  According to my aunt, cruel.

6. How old is your mom?
Jenna:  31 I think   <-----She thinks wrong!
Melissa:  50

7. How tall is your mom?
Jenna:  I don't know.
Melissa:  5'7"

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
Jenna:  She likes lots of things. I don't know her favorite.
Melissa:  Drinking with Cathy.

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
Jenna:  Read, play on the computer and phone, and sleep.
Melissa:  Drink with Cathy.

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
Jenna:  Being the most awesome mom in the world.  <------*gives Jenna dollar*
Melissa:  Being the most awesome mom in the world.    *hopes to recover dollar*

11. What is your mom really good at?
Jenna:  Lots of things.
Melissa:  Her job (nursing).

12. What is your mom not very good at?
Jenna:  Running.
Melissa:  Many things involving common sense!

13. What does your mom do for her job?
Jenna:  Takes care of my brother and I.
Melissa:  Nurse

14. What is your mom's favorite food?
Jenna:  I don't know.
Melissa:  Any given Americanized foreign cuisine.

15. What makes you proud of your mom?
Jenna:  She is one of my favorite people in the world and she takes care of Alex and I pretty much perfectly.
Melissa:  I'm proud of my mom for bucking all the odds.

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Jenna:  Spongebob    <-----WTH?!  I know she's seen my tattoo!
Melissa:  Tweety Bird as Little Red Riding Hood.

17. What do you and your mom do together?
Jenna:  Lots of stuff like play basketball.
Melissa:  Normal stuff:  movies, lunch/dinner, drink, etc.

18. How are you and your mom the same?
Jenna:  I look like her, we are the same in lots of ways.
Melissa:  We both radiate a natural charm that makes people want to hang around with us more than other, less charming people.  *blows fingernails*

19. How are you and your mom different?
Jenna:  I can't think of anything but we do have some differences though not very many.
Melissa:  When push comes to shove, she's way more focused at accomplishing things.

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
Jenna:  She says so every day and she doesn't try to avoid me.   <------Ha!
Melissa:  She would remove everything that's ever been toxic if she could.

22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
Jenna:  Probably Barnes&Noble
Melissa:  Drinking with Cathy. 

23. What is your moms favorite song?
Jenna:  I don't think she has one.    <-------Correct.  She has many.
Melissa:  Probably some lame country song.

24. Who is your moms favorite singer?
Jenna:  I don't think she has a favorite singer, either.      <-------What about Scott!?!
Melissa:  Probably some lame country singer.

25. What is the funniest thing you heard your mom say?
Jenna:  I don't know.
Melissa:  Recently, it was the trip to IKEA where she insisted that there is an exit off of the freeway every mile.  She has gone through her whole life thinking that if her exit is in y miles, there must be y exits left.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Six Years

I know I'm seriously behind in my subscriptions and returning messages, I've been busy this week.  In the meantime, a quick one...
Six years ago today, I showed up at the hospital at six a.m. to deliver my son.  I had a doctor's appointment two weeks prior in which I was able (didn't take much pleading) to convince my doctor to induce me two weeks early.  Win-win.  One less baby for him to potentially deliver on a weekend, I got to meet my baby a little bit early.
I did, however, begin mild contractions the night before.  Chances are, he would have come all by himself that day.
The nurses were clearly irritated by all the inductions and didn't have a room ready for me so they tucked me into triage.  At ten a.m., there still wasn't a room ready and Alex was, so I gave birth in triage.
As do most moms upon the emotional experience of giving birth, I cried when I first laid eyes on him.  I'm a little teary eyed now.  He's at Disneyworld with his grandma, having the best birthday ever.  I wish he was here so I could take cupcakes to school, but I can't wait to see pictures of the happiest boy on Earth at the happiest place on Earth.
Thank you, Alex...
...for always being so cheerful.  The smile that's always on your face always puts a smile on mine.
...for remembering to open doors for ladies.  It's little things like that which make me proud and fiercely protective at the same time.
...for laughing at your own jokes.  You are a funny little man.
...for being sensitive.  You always think of everyone's feelings and intuitively know how to respond.
...for being mama's boy.  There is no greater priority than cuddling with Mom.
...for being one half of the family I'll never lose.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

How did I get to be this way?

Grau Geist posted a blog about reading The Audacity of Hope and trying to understand our President a bit better and what made him liberal.  GG then discussed how he was inluenced to have more consevative views.
I thought it was a good topic and wanted to hear a brief bit about how all of you (except CJ) were influenced politically as you grew up (assuming you are, of course, grown up).
Here you go.  How I became a

As many of you know, my ancestry can be summed up in two words:  white trash.  Oddly, having been raised (excepting my mother) around alcoholics, addicts, racists, and wife beaters, I was unaffected and gave my mother very little trouble.  Bad grades were about the only thing that I ever was grounded for.  While this gave me little tolerance for people who made bad choices or women who allowed themselves to be mistreated by men (opposed to empathy), I became very uncomfortable with people who make racist remarks and hated that particular element of my family.  Even my mother, whom I love and admire a great deal, would tell you (if she felt comfortable with you, anyway) that she did/does not like the idea of a black president.  I simply can not understand that mentality.
I used to go to church with my aunt and uncle as a child.  The idea of a god never felt right to me and I stopped going around the seventh grade, declaring myself atheist at the age of thirteen.  While I completely respect the need people have to believe in something and somewhat envy those who have the capacity for faith, I am constitutionally unable to believe in god.
I was raised by two moms.  I noticed around high school, when Clinton was president, that they seemed to lean left (gay Republican is an oxymoron, I think) and was supremely disappointed a few years ago to learn that my biological mother had never voted. 
In all, social issues are what make me a jack ass.  I am proud of the fact that, in spite of having been raised by two women for eighteen years of my life, I had a better family life than many of my peers. 
I hate seeing images of people in poor countries dying of AIDS and starvation and hear my countrymen make comments like "let's take care of our own first" as if there is ANY basis for comparison.
I don't like living in a society where the majority of people think that, in order to have true morality, we have to have religion.
I believe very strongly in the public school system and, while it needs serious change, would never support anyone who tried to defeat it.
However, having been raised in the family I was raised in, I have seen how possible it is to come from nothing and make something of yourself.  My mother is that person who could've been practically dead right now from a life of various abuse.  She was the only of her many siblings to graduate high school and go to college.  She makes a solid wage and is an example of the Dream.  For this, I can't help but see more good in Capitalism than many others like me, though I see its flaws as well.  The economy is about the only thing I lean more right on.  The stimulus makes me very uncomfortable and I sit back and wait, crossing my fingers.
That's all I have to say about that.
Oh.  I'm left handed, too.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Unemployment Chronicles, Vol. 3 (hot tramp, I love you so)

I've determined that spending too much time with other unemployed people (Sarajane) is detrimental to my economic health.  Too much coffee at B&N, lunch dates, etc.  Things I wouldn't be doing if I had a job.  It's funny how one spends more money in lieu of a job than otherwise. 
But, I love her!  And I have so much time on my hands!  Luckily, I have a couple of classes but a couple of classes still leaves lots of time leftover.  I look forward to every little thing I have planned. 
Anyhow, here are a few (or more) random things since last time that serve as highlights of my mundane existence.  It may have to be the last such blog.  I need to write more "important" things to feel, you know, important.
1)  Friday, after meeting the ex in Lansing for his weekend with the kids, Sarajane and I headed to Big Rapids for a weekend away with Dawn.  We drank with college kids, one of which had to stop herself from asking us how old we were.  The nerve!  We planned to defeat her.  Unsure of what, exactly, we meant by "defeat," said defeat never took place.  Nonetheless, there was some singing and fun.

2)  Last Wednesday, Scott took me to a Red Wings game.  Once upon a time, Melissa (my sister HATES it when people refer to themselves in third person) enjoyed hockey a great deal.  But it had been years since I'd been to a game, so it was a treat.  On the way there, a song was on the radio that I've heard quite a bit but never payed much attention to.  Scott pointed out the guest vocal portion of the song (like that made any sense; yet, I have no idea how to reword it) and I instantly recognized Gord Downey.  Of the Tragically Hip!  Now, I LOVE that song, of course.  July 23.  That's my next trip to the other part of North America to see TTH. 

3)  On the way to Big Rapids, some ucky man with gray sweatpants tucked into his winter boots was conversing with the cashier about how he was going to bring his mega-millions ticket back at 11 p.m. to watch the numbers come up.  Since the pot is at something like 300 million, I'm guessing he didn't win and won't be purchasing more appropriate public attire anytime soon.  In any case, I made the mistake of glancing at his *makes localized circular motion with right hand* bathing suit area and instantly looked, wide eyed, at Sarajane, letting loose a "Gross!"  She agreed.  Walking out, I discovered that she did not see what I saw and was merely disgusted by his sweatpants tucked into his boots.  What did I see?

4)  I've been eyeing Kindle suspiciously of late.  *looks over shoulder*  I love to see people curled up with a book.  It's a beautiful sight when one blocks out the world for a book.  But, since Kindle stormed into my life, I've been thinking, rather guiltily, of how much more user friendly it is than a book.  How much easier to hold.  How much easier to lounge about with.  How much easier to bookmark and turn a page.  I'm going to hell for saying these things, I know it.  *breaks down and cries*  I feel so dirty, I might as well be reading this crap:

5)  To sum up, since being unemployed, I have accomplished nothing, feel like a big waste of space, and have nothing to show for it but some photos that show me trying to molest the Asian.