Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Lights and Senseless Crimes

This afternoon I took my first step towards decorating for Christmas by stringing outside lights. Rocky is against the idea of making any permanent alterations to the house to allow for decoration, meaning no nails, staples, or hooks. When you combine that with my how miser like I get this time of year to ensure Christmas bills don't become New Years bills, we put up very few lights. I have two sets of netting lights and 2 more regular strands plus a wreath. It took me all of ten minutes. As with many holiday rituals, it brings childhood memories to the front.
When I was little we didn't do the outside light thing. One year my mom decided to replace all of our old multi colored tree lights with the clear kind. My brother and I ganged up and convinced her to let us use the old lights to decorate outside. We did all the work ourselves other than the wiring it took to plug them into an outlet. I was so proud of those lights. The second day when we plugged them in we noticed a very odd change. All of our pretty multi colored lights were now clear. We had been the victim of a completely senseless crime! Who would take off one set of lights and replace them with others that are exactly the same except for the color? At some point deductive reasoning kicked in and we figured out that what had actually happened was that our old light set was not meant to use outside. The color had been painted on, and when a little rain shower came through in the night, it had washed all the paint off.
I still get tickled thinking about those few confusing minutes it took us to catch on to what happened. I also can't help but wonder how long it was before my mother realized that she could have just washed the lights to start with instead of buying new clear ones. I'm glad she didn't know before hand because then I wouldn't have one of my favorite Christmas memories.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Bit on the TSA

I rarely fly so really the mess with the TSA isn't an issue for me other than the fact that my husband flies monthly, and oh yeah, I'm an American and like to keep an eye on government doings. I've had a couple of bloggers I read tell some pretty ugly stores about trying to go through airport security recently. They aren't the type to talk about these sort of things at all. One is a coupon site and another is a woman who wrote a cookbook. Not political types in the least. This made me pay a little more attention. I'm naturally sceptical when a film maker or radio personality spins a tale that is too dramatic.
Meg McClain was just such a person. She was really the first I heard to go to the media with a horrific story of being mistreated at the airport. She was the one who said her ticket was ripped and she had been handcuffed. It bothered me a lot, but I had that nagging suspicion in the back of my mind that she might be exaggerating for effect. Sure enough, the TSA released the video of her at the airport screening, which is something they never do. It was an attempt to prove their innocence, and in fact it does seem that she was probably not singled out or handcuffed. There are however a few things in this video that give me cause for concern.

There no sound on the video.
(see video here if not viewable on note)
After watching it for a few minutes I stopped looking at Ms.McClain and started noticing the other travelers. There was a lot of gawking at her, which made me sympathetic. No one likes to be on display in a bad situations. Then something else caught my eye. I thought I saw a man go through the body scanner and then get patted down anyway. So, I started watching the body scanner instead of the drama. Along the 5 minute mark there is a woman in a purple sweatshirt that submits to the radiation scanner. She steps on the mat to wait the results and then, in full view of everyone, the female agent pats her down in a manner I would be very uncomfortable with. The woman, much like the other 2 people I saw go through this, was allowed to go on to board her plane so, obviously, there was nothing to be found.
After that, another problem occurred to me. When the woman this video was actually about was first taken aside she disappears off the corner of the video into a screening area. You can only see her hands as she talks. What this tells me is if she had allowed them to go ahead with the planned pat down she would have been off camera. There would be no one monitoring how the search was done or if the agent acted inappropriately during the search. One would assume that there are other cameras in the area, but if there were and didn't show the agents acting improperly, then why wasn't that angle shown instead?
I just wish one person could explain to me why we randomly search people. The TSA has never once to my knowledge stopped a single terrorist with these methods. Also, to my knowledge, there has never been a skinny white girl try to take over a plane in order to commit a terrorist act inside the U.S. Why is profiling wrong in this case? Why are we stripping the rights to be politically correct? Other countries profile, so why is it wrong to do it here? It seems like a giant waste of money and time. The idea that some airports do this to pilots astounds me. If they wanted to crash a plane they wouldn't need to smuggle anything onto the plane because they are the ones doing the flying. Is all common sense lost?
I read an article that was geared towards people of the Muslim religion on how to deal with the new screening. They are saying that you can declined based on religious reasons (good, having people put their hands all over me is against my religion, too). Next , you may request to be moved to a private area that is not in view of all the other people in line. After being moved you request a self pat down. In this you run your own hands over the private areas of your body, after which your hands are tested for explosive residue. I can live with this idea. It sounds fair to me. The question now becomes why isn't this option posted, suggested, and even encouraged?
I've said my peace, and I feel better, but only because I know I will not be flying anywhere with my children while these procedures are in place. I'd like to congratulate the TSA on making our skies safe from suburban housewives and families like ours.
Anyone else worked up about this?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Reusable Grocery Bags

Today's random point of thankfulness falls on reusable grocery bags. I am pretty sure I have never been accused of being environmentally friendly. It's not like I go around dumping toxic chemicals in lakes or anything. I just don't go out of my way to be "green". I like it when it makes sense or saves me money. Reusable grocery bags work for me.

I grew up in the grand days of paper grocery bags. They were big and had a thousand different uses around the house. I'm pretty sure I was a grocery bag squaw at least twice for school Thanksgiving celebrations. Then it was decided that maybe we cut down too many trees and the plastic bag came along. They hold half as much and rip at the drop of a hat. For awhile we had the choice of paper or plastic, or as one bag boy I heard say, "kill a tree or choke a fish?". Those days soon came to an end and we were stuck with the plastic bag.
I didn't embrace the reusable bag as quickly as I should have. I saw it as a symbol of all those global warming, tree hugger, liberal types, but I was so wrong. I received my first bag free as part of a promotion at Kroger and then another through Publix. I started realizing how much they would hold and used them a lot for road trips. One day I happened to leave them in the van and on a whim took them into Walmart with me. It was a real eye opener. All of my groceries fit into the 3 bags, and the handles made it easier to get them to the car. I was hooked. Now a few stores like Target are actually giving small discounts for bringing your own bags. I am a changed woman. I may forget from time to time, but from now on it is the reusable bag for me.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Teacher No One Wanted

Every high school has one. It is that one teacher that no one wants to get. They are old school strict. They have no problem failing you. I'm hoping that teacher just popped into your mind. If you went to North Side High School in Jackson that teacher's name was Mrs.Hardin. She taught senior English, so if you failed her class you didn't graduate. She also ran the Beta Club with an iron fist. Everyone knew her and knew not to set a toe out of line within eyesight of her room. She was one of my all time favorite teachers.
She had a great sense of humor that I don't think everyone saw because they only heard the stern voice. She would throw erasers at student who weren't paying attention. She once took a student's hat off his head and threw it out the first floor window. The student was easily twice her size. As he told it he picked her up and set her outside the window next to his hat and demanded she pick it up if she wanted back in. The fact that she didn't get the guy kicked out of school shows that she was not totally heartless.
My favorite and most eye opening story about Mrs.Hardin involved her husband. He was a pilot. He had been married before and was widowed with two teenage daughters. If I remember right, I thinkMrs.Hardin had the oldest daughter before the passing of her mother, but I know that by the time the second daughter came through her class the mom had passed on. Mrs.Hardin mentioned in class one day that she had never been on a plane. The girls started plotting. Under the guise of taking her on her very first plane flight, they arranged for their dad to take her on a short flight. She had no idea, nor did the father, that they were being set up. They fell in love very quickly and spent many years very happily married. Mrs.Hardin once said that all though the children were his, the grandchildren were hers. It was a real shock to find out that this serious little teacher had perhaps the most romantic real life story I had ever heard. From that day on I stopped looking at her as the woman who held the pass or fail button on my education and saw her as a loving wife, stepmother, and doting grandmother.
It is stories such as hers that makes me want to know everything I can about the people I meet. Everyone has a story. Some are good, some are bad, but they shape our lives and until you know a person's story, you don't really know that person.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A New Term

Usually when I post about something funny heard in my house I am talking about JD, but today's gem is brought to you courtesy of my dad, or as most know him, Mr.Bill.
Yesterday my mom and I had picked up a pecan pie off the clearance bakery section at Walmart. Today there was some joke hinting about me needing to make a chess pie to which I replied that we already had a pecan pie in the house. My father then declares that it is a "faux pie". (say it out loud, it makes it funnier). It is when social faux pas meets baking.
Here are a few possible sample sentences:
"Bringing a Walmart pie to a southern bring-a-dish is a major faux pie."
"Did you make that pie from scratch?" "No, it is a faux pie."
"Moon pies aren't really pies, they are faux pas."

Enjoy our new phrase and use it often!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Randomly Thankful

Last year during the month of November people were encouraged on Facebook to post a daily status update reflecting something they were thankful for. The first few days were cool. There were lots of people thankful for family, friends, jobs, and homes. After about a week people started running out of generic things to be thankful for and either stopped posting, or like me, came up with completely random things. On the surface they may seem silly, but each really did represent something that in some way made my life a little happier.
I've heard whispers that the month of thankful posts is coming back and I am ready. Today's was about the Perry the Platypus silly band my son gave me. I love wearing it. It makes me smile. With the painfully horrible children's shows in this world, it is easy to be thankful for Phineas and Ferb. The show is smart and hysterical. I find myself watching it even when the kids aren't around, and just this morning my parents confessed to watching it at their house. Hey, I think I know what we're going to do today...
I'd love to have you join me in finding the random joy in each day and encourage you to find something out of the ordinary to be thankful for this November. It will make it much more fun for those of us reading your status updates.
I posted today and had my serious thanks yesterday, so that makes me only 2 days make up for.
1. I'm thankful for extra soft fuzzy socks
2. I'm thankful for Mr.Clean Magic Erasers - seriously those things are awesome!

All caught up and looking forward to reading what everyone else finds to be randomly thankful for

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Thank You Very Much!

I wrote a guest  post today for another blog. It is the blog of a very close friend of mine on the subject of children with special needs and bridging the gap between them and the rest of the world. It is a great read for any parent. I got to write a post because I was a child with special needs at one time. In doing so I realized that there are some people from my childhood that I need to thank.
First, I need to thank my big brother Matt because my defect affected his life way more than mine. I know that my life made his life harder for a long time. Even though we have always been opposites he always took up for me when it mattered. I'll never forget the words, "That's my sister. I'll kill you later." It meant the world to me.
Now I have a couple of childhood friends that deserve the spotlight. John Bennett has been my friend longer than anyone else I know. He was mostly my brother's friend, but in the same grade as me and we almost always had classes together at school. Not a single time in 34 years do I remember John ever asking me why I talked differently, he just accepted it. He also never joked about my voice, at least not that I ever heard. We lived in a small town and went to an even smaller school so I'm pretty sure it would have gotten back to me. The other friend is Christy Rose Day. Christy, not only did you dare to tell kids it wasn't funny to pick on me, you threatened them with bodily harm if they did it again. Word got around that I was "protected" which is why the bullying never escalated. You had my back from the day we met to the day we graduated even when our lives took different paths. I love you for that.
To all the people who were brave enough to ask why and found my answer cool instead of creepy, I thank you. You made my life a little easier. To Cindy, Evelyn, Tracey, and Sheri, you were the best friends a strange little girl like me could have asked for. Each one of you walked me through a different phase of my life and supported me exactly the way I needed.
I thank people for tiny things everyday, but it isn't often that I stop and thank people for the big things they do. Thanks for reading and for letting me thank a few people who I wouldn't normally get a chance to.