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Schnizzlefritz…

 “Sie sind eine Scheiße Kopf!”

This was the first useful sentence I learned in German and I learned it while attending a Parochial school by Frau H., who was German through and through. I can’t say I’m proud of that fact, but it’s a sentence that has served me well over the years and has come into play again this week.

I normally try not to complain about the “unfairness” of the universe. After all, life is not fair. However, the mother bear tends to get her knickers in a knot when her cubs are treated unfairly and then the German starts to fly.

And this does center around German.

You see, my youngest daughter has taken four years of German in high school. Four. Not two. Not three. Four.  She’s president of German Club this year. And yet, she cannot “letter” in German.

Why?

She asked the teacher about it and was told previous club secretaries haven’t kept track of the points members have earned. And as a result, there is no record as to whether or not she has enough points to actually receive her academic letter.

Huh?
 

Far from fair.

Apparently lack of planning on other’s parts are causing the “emergency” on her / my part.

The inept record-keeping has affected not only J, but another senior as well.

Begin brouhaha.

She asked to see the criteria that has to be met so she could try and accompish getting her letter jacket. The teacher was unable to locate it.  Then she was told the criteria was the same the French teacher used.

Interesting.

The French teacher retired from the school then returned to teaching at the same school a few years later. She’s an excellent instructor and I’m very fond of her.

I had the French teacher when I was in school.

I earned my academic letter in French – Mon dieu!  (And another in journalism.)

I don’t imagine Madame S. has changed the criteria overly much from all those years ago, but it’s possible, I suppose.

So here I sit contemplating a blitzkrieg – much like the Nazis did in WW2 or a Schwerpunkt to achieve success.  (Yes, on top of learning German from die Frau, we also learned much about German warfare as she lived through that horrible time in history.)  

Either way, I believe my cub WILL get her academic letter and I will get to retire back to the den to hibernate the rest of the winter.  

Political Advertising and Other Woes

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching; corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”

Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21 1864

This morning on the way into work, I heard Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way.”  I was instantly transported back to the Clinton election campaign and became somewhat nauseous. It’s not because of Clinton himself, though I’m not a fan nor supporter, but because he took a good song and ruined it for me.  I hate it when good songs are used for whatever purpose and then become associated with something else that have negative connotations in my life.

Because of this song, I began thinking about this Presidential election and politics in general.  I’m not as knowledgable about politics as I should be – probably because my stomach churns when I think about the muck and the mire that makes up the election process.

One of the biggest problems that irks me is the PAC/ SuperPAC campaign spending / donation process. I don’t quite understand how all of that works. I read up on wikipedia to get an idea and I’m still confused to be quite honest. However, something caught my eye and made me heartsick.

As of February 2012, according to Center for Responsive Politics, 313 groups organized as Super PACs had received $98,650,993 and spent $46,191,479. This means early in the 2012 election cycle, PACs had already greatly exceeded total receipts of 2008. The leading Super PAC on its own raised more money than the combined total spent by the top 9 PACS in the 2008 cycle.[72]


The 2012 figures don’t include funds raised by State level PACs nor funds raised by national level non-profit groups that pool “soft-funds”. Spending by non-profits, also called 527 organizations, exceeded $500 million in the 2010 election cycle with the two largest organizations being the Republican Governors Association $131,873,954 and the Democratic Governors Association $64,708,253 [73] Spending by the 527 organizations for the 2012 is expected to be double and much will be derived from donors kept hidden from voters.[74]
I understand to run an election campaign, it takes money; however, wouldn’t it be a refreshing change to see someone do it without spending millions of dollars on television ads – there are all sorts of new media ideas out there that aren’t as costly? It makes me sick because all of that money is being wasted on blue sky – which is what advertising is. And why all the bashing? Why not tout what you can do, your accomplishments and all of that? Just once I would like to see a positive campaign run by a politician. 
Most people do not like negative political ad campaigns. And frankly, most people are so sick of political ads by the time  the election comes they don’t want to see another one.  And the cost of these ads is astronomical – especially in tightly contested states.  By election day, Romney and Obama campaigns and other independent groups will have spent about $1.1 billion on television advertising in 2012,  with $750 million already allocated in the handful of states likely to determine the outcome of the contest — Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin according to Kantar-Campaign Media Analysis Group estimates. Florida tops the list, with more than $150 million spent by both sides so far. Is that not assinine? (Thank you Yahoo for that info.)  
There are many different ways to get your message out to people that spending that kind of money isn’t as “vital” as it used to be. These politicians need to find a campaign strategist that is able to think out of the box and use new media as well as traditional branding to cut costs and put out a more positive message. 
I think people are smarter than the political machine gives them credit for. I think most decide early on who they are voting for and only a tiny slice of the pie is actually up for grabs.  The politicians would be better served focusing on the debates, their credibility and what they really have to offer than wasting millions of dollars on an uncertain number of votes.  

Your vote matters… if you don’t vote – you have no say in anything that happens. You don’t even have the right to sit and bitch about how this country is being run.  On election day, get out and vote. Many people have given their lives so you can cast your ballot. I’ll be there at the polls. Will you?

“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. “

John F. Kennedy

Pre-Graduation Panic & Mayhem

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” 
– Ralph Waldo Emerson – 
Yesterday, I thought the collective minds of my oldest daughter and myself were going to implode or explode – your choice. She had been working on a video presentation for the senior celebration at AACAL and the day of the celebration, it crashed. Then, to add insult to injury, 6 hours before the event, it decided to not only crash, but completely evaporate into the outer stratosphere. The whole thing – gone. Woosh! 

It was a lucky thing I had planned on coming home a little early to help with the crash. I ended up coming home a couple of hours earlier than that and started slamming together a PowerPoint presentation in an attempt to salvage what I could. For about 4 hours, I typed seniors’ achievements, schools and all of that jazz. When Eldest got home from school – she started throwing in the pictures parents had provided. 

I apologize to the seniors who were inadvertently missed or forgotten. There was some information that had been e-mailed or texted late to Eldest and I wasn’t privy to that information. I am very sorry if you were missed. It wasn’t my intention, nor was it hers. I do hope that you understand that bad things happen to good computers. 

Today, Eldest is going through a similar-feeling situation with trying to get stuff together for another, bigger banquet. She had a few things thrown at her toward the last minute, though I think a little of this is procrastination combined with a HEAVY workload. I will just be happy if she gets it done and wears clothing to the festivities tonight.  

But all in all, I think Emerson’s quote is rather fitting for the events of the past couple of days and in future days to come. It’s those moments of panic when we have to dig deep and find out what we are truly made of. Some people cave under the pressure while others come out okay. I’m hoping Eldest is the later. After the celebration presentation last night, I told her, “It’s over. There’s nothing more you can do now. Just breathe and move on to the next thing.” 

Isn’t that what we all have to do?

A Little Rain Goes A Long Way

“Rain, Rain on my face
It hasn’t stopped raining for days
My world is a flood
Slowly I become one with the mud…”
– Jars of Clay –
(Photo of the Lake Meredith Dam & Spillway 2011)
In the Texas Panhandle we have had a drought of a severity not quite rivaling the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s, but at times has felt like it. Last June, we lost an inch of water from Lake Meredith in one day purely from evaporation (resource: CRMWA). The last time it was this dry in the Panhandle region dated back to 1956. Thankfully, Mother Nature has recently sent us a reprieve… rain. Lots of rain. I’ve been “Singing in The Rain” and watching “Rainman” and listening to songs about rain, water and floods… a happy little camper am I.
On April 9th, Lake Meredith’s water level reached it’s all time low at only being 29.80 feet deep. In terms of Meredith, this means the boat docks are closed; there’s no chance of recreational boating, fishing and that type of thing. It also means water is no longer being pumped from the lake for drinking and we are now tapping into the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the largest in the world. (And just for the record, it tastes MUCH better than the water from Meredith.) For some reason, it also means you can walk across areas of the Lake that have been inaccessable by humans for years. It’s a bizarre feeling to say the least. I keep waiting for dead bodies to turn up, but at this time, no such luck.
Because of the recent rainfall, it’s now up to 31.53 feet. To put all this in perspective. In 1973, Meredith’s depth was 101.85 feet deep. I think we have a long way to go to even see the waterline from a distance. Maybe someday, but that day is not today.
The Seattle-like feeling that has settled over the city in the past couple of weeks will be gone again as quickly as tomorrow as the sun pushes its way back through the gray and the weather heats back up. For now, I shall watch the rain fall and give thanks at this moment the land is green and the lake is on the rise.

Mother’s Day Meltdown

“There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep.”
 -Ralph Waldo Emerson-

When my darlings were wee, little babes, I spent many, many, many hours rocking them in the recliner and relished the moment they went limp in my arms as they went to sleep. I loved the feel of their soft breath on my neck and the little whimpers as they dreamed.  Those are some of my favorite baby moments which more than made up for the colic and the screaming, teething, tonsillectomies… and the list goes on. 

I wouldn’t trade being a mom for anything. And I try not to exasperate my children, but I’m sure I often do.  

Why do our mothers frustrate us?
But I would like to be more specific. 
Why does my mother frustrate me? (It’s my blog and therefore, it’s about me.)

I know lots of people complain about their mothers, but really??? I just had a conversation that lasted  35:51 and 7/8ths of it was a non-stop gripe-fest.  I just wanted to tell her, “Mother, it’s mother’s day. Would you just shut up and be happy that I called and wanted to talk to you?”

I didn’t.  

Brownie point for me.

Yay!

Maybe next year, I’ll just send a Hallmark card and call it good. 

I guess Florida Scott Maxwell was right… ” No matter how old a mother is, she watches her middle-aged children for signs of improvement.”

Today, I’m not feeling improved. I am feeling pretty spoiled though. Darling Hubby made me breakfast in bed, bought me flowers and mowed the lawn today. Yes indeedy. Pretty spoiled.




The Best Days of Our Lives

“Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go 
So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time…”
– Green Day-

Eldest graduates high school in three weeks. Its seems like it has been a lifetime and I suppose it has – hers. But the lifetime I’m actually referring to is mine. As as today is Mother’s Day, I’m a little more introspective than usual. 
It’s been 24 years since my high school graduation and when Youngest graduates next year, it will be 25. A quarter of a century. For the life of me, I have no idea where most of it went.  

Prom

My eldest and I had a short discussion last night as she was upset because she didn’t go to her senior prom. She worked at a job she hates and she closed – which meant she didn’t get off work and home til after midnight. She mentioned to me who was crowned “Prom King.” I suppose when I was 18 that meant something to someone, but in the overall scheme of things, I’m sure my 18 year old self didn’t really give a shit. My 42 year old self feels the same. Prom King and Queen is nothing more than a popularity contest and the real world doesn’t really operate that way. My darlings will find that out soon enough. 

A few other thoughts on prom: For the love of God, it’s expensive. Prom dresses run hundreds to thousands of dollars. Tuxedo rentals are freakishly expensive too. It’s a racket. When I was a kid, I fell in love with this pretty, BIG poofy white prom dress. It was a size 16 and I had it cut down to between an 8 and a 10. I always figured I would wear it again as a wedding dress, but by the time I got married, that really didn’t happen. The dress was expensive back in the 80’s and I have to wonder if I should have just saved some money and wore jeans and a t-shirt and been more comfortable all night.  At least my red Converse tennis shoes saved my feet the burden of wearing heels all night. Best shoe decision ever made. 

Some of the songs played at my prom:
INXS – Need You Tonight
Poison – Every Rose Has It’s Thorn
Breathe – Hands to Heaven
Def Leppard – Pour Some Sugar on Me
Terrence Trent D’Arby – Wishing Well
Patrick Swayze – She’s Like the Wind
Information Society – What’s on Your Mind (Pure Energy)
Bobby Brown – Don’t Be Cruel
Whitney Houston – So Emotional
Bon Jovi – Bad Medicine
Friends

I do remember many of the popular girls and guys in high school; however, and there are a few of them I still think kindly on to this day because they were naturally charismatic and never looked down their noses at others because they weren’t just like them. I think it’s only appropriate that I tell them now I appreciate them. I’m also glad I learned the lesson young to take care to look past appearances and get to know the meat of a person before judging them. 

My bestie and I became friends in high school. In looking back, I still think it’s funny that a tall, leggy blonde would be friends with a tomboy like me. But then again, there’s that appearance thing I was talking about earlier. Obviously she didn’t care either. We just hit it off and we’ve been friends for almost 30 years now. I can’t imagine a day when I couldn’t pick up the phone and say, “Dude… you would not believe….” 

In high school, we made a pact to never fight over boys All girlfriends should have that agreement. It would save a lot of problems down the road.  I had a crush on Shaun. She ended up married to him. Today… that’s probably the best thing that could have happened to either of us. (God bless ya buddy.) 

My other friends in high school, I still keep in touch with now after losing touch for so many years. Facebook is a wonderful thing sometimes. (Now sounding like I’m 95 years old….) Back in the day…. when we all went off to college or whatever, we didn’t have cell phones, we had to write letters to keep up with folks and because life is what it is, we got busy and it all fell by the wayside. I know Facebook and Twitter and whatever other media isn’t the greatest for heart to hearts, but it is a good way to say, “Hey, I’m thinking about you.” I kinda dig that. 

The Future

I still have the same argument I had in high school with my math teachers. I’m never going to need advanced math, why do I need to know it? It took me 20+ years to get my associates degree because of college algebra, which I had to take something like 5 different times – go back and take all the remedial math classes first etc. Without YouTube videos with many different instructors explaining the concepts, I never would have passed. And why? Why do I need a 2 year degree? A bachelors? A Masters? Doctorate? I’m still trying to figure that out.

We push our children toward a higher education (which has an ever growing cost) to have a plan for their lives? Is this correct? Or is it a fall back plan? Or what is it? I’m sure at one time I was certain, but I can honestly say that I’m really not. What does the piece of paper gain you unless you want to BE something SPECIFIC such as a veterinarian, a lawyer, a doctor, etc…? For all the kids who don’t know, I say take the basics so you don’t have to remember them 20 years later when you might need a piece of paper with your name on it and let the rest falls where it falls.  

We always ask our children what they want to be when they grow up. I’m 42 and I can’t answer that question. Sure,  I have always wanted to be two things: a cop and a writer. I have done many different things along the way on my path of growing up, but at the heart of things, I have successfully attempted both and learned that I’m much more suited to one than the other, but never for heart and lack of trying. I just should have done one of them much, much sooner. (Something I hope my girls never do: delay the inevitable.)

Advice

Jobs: There is going to come a point with my children that I have to give them some advice as to their future and I can only tell them to try and figure out what they have passion for. Then to go for what they want with all of their heart and determination. IF they can do that, they will succeed; because even if they fail by mortal men’s standards, there is still success in the fact they gave it their all.

Marriage: Marriage is a give and take. Marry your best friend. If your best friend EVER becomes violent or hits you, get the “F” out and never look back. You are too precious to be someone’s whipping post. 

Cooking: Learn to cook a few meals – even if they are very simple. 

Cleaning: Borax and Baking Soda are wonders. Do NOT mix bleach and ammonia. If for some reason you do… RUN… do not walk to the nearest exit – poisonous gasses are created when you do that. 

Call 911 for emergency help. If you really don’t think it’s that bad, then at least call Poison Control for advice on handling the after-effects of exposure and cleaning up the chemicals. The number for Poison Control is:1-800-222-1222

Vehicles: When buying a new vehicle – remember, the value of the vehicle drops BIGTIME as soon as you drive it off the lot. If possible. buy a really nice used vehicle – have it checked out by a good mechanic before you buy it and pay cash if possible.

Credit Cards: There is no reason to ever have one. This is the single biggest mistake I have ever made in my life. Getting a credit card – especially before the age of 21 is EXTREMELY STUPID AND UNWISE. There is never a reason to have one if you 1) have a debit card and 2) pay cash for what you need. “Lines of Credit” are a myth perpetuated by the finance community so they will make money off of loaning you money. Avoid it if possible. 

Debt: DO NOT GO INTO DEBT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I cannot stress this enough.

Ok…. I think this is about it for now. I just wanted to get a few things off my chest and I feel a bit better now. Hopefully at some point in time, this will make much more sense to my two darling daughters. 
Ciao for now…
Celeste

Where the Wild Things Are

“And now,” cried Max, “let the wild rumpus start!” 






My father was a gifted story-teller and I thank him for the many nights he read to me as a child. He did so of his own works and he read stories others had written as well. One night, he read me a book that inspired my love of fantasy and science fiction that I carry to this day. That book is “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak. 


Maurice’s book transcended generations of young children and their parents alike. He took away the boundary lines and gave us something that is oh so memorable.  You see, the way I look at it everyone has fears whether they are a child or not and those fears need to be addressed, not sugar-coated or pushed aside like they don’t matter. I think Mr. Sendak agreed with me by something he once said. He said,  “. . .from their earliest years children live on familiar terms with disrupting emotions, fear and anxiety are an intrinsic part of their everyday lives, they continually cope with frustrations as best they can. And it is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming Wild Things.”


This man wrote and illustrated more than 50 children’s books. But the legacy of “Where the Wild Things Are” will live on for an eternity


At 83 years old, Maurice Sendak has written his final words. But I can’t help but think that in 1964, he wrote how I’m feeling right now. 
“But the wild things cried, “Oh please don’t go – we’ll eat you up – we love you so!”

And Max said, “No!”

The wild things roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws but Max stepped into his private boat and waved goodbye.”
– Maurice Sendak-