Things That Are Just Wrong: A Short List

I have opinions. This is my blog. I am going to share them now. (If you're one of those easily offended or sensitive types, you should sit or something.)

Things that are just wrong:

  • people who don't eat the rind of good cheese—people have no idea what they're missing;

  • jockstraps that show through sheer football pants—I'm blaming you, Nike;

  • Mitt Romney thinking that the death of my late husband makes my children view themselves as entitled victims because they receive survivor benefits.

I have been incredibly quiet here on my blog about politics this presidential election, but I'm going to speak up right now. Why? This is just too personal for me.

Yes, it has been personal on many other occasions, but I have addressed those elsewhere, and I felt that was sufficient, and I would deal with that at the ballots in November.

This? It's too much.

I collected my first legitimate, taxes-paid, paycheck when I was barely old enough to sign my name in cursive. I know this because I have the Social Security card to prove it. Back in the day you didn't get your Social Security card at birth; you got it when you worked for the first time or needed it for identification. That paycheck included money withheld for Social Security. I believe I was somewhere around eight years old. I worked for my father doing inventory for a family business, counting parts, something a child could do. I earned minimum wage.

By the time I was in my teens, I worked part-time after school and longer hours in the summers, again paying into the "system." I filed my taxes every year.

When I was in my early 20s, I got married to Bob, who had also been working since he was a teenager. He too paid into Social Security and paid his taxes. We had two kids. I became a stay-at-home mom when I was pregnant with our second child, working part-time and freelance, both of us still paying taxes and contributing to Social Security.

Then Bob died of cancer.

Guess what we, as the survivors of his death are entitled to?

Life without him. Sweet benefit, huh? Yeah, my kids think so, too.

Also, after working and paying into Social Security benefits for the requisite period of time, based on a complex calculation, our family receives survivor benefits for a period of time to allow us to make up for the wages lost due to his death.

We are not lazy.

We do pay federal income tax, actually, contrary to what Mitt Romney would like you to think.

I do not expect Mitt Romney to worry about me, so it's okay that he's agreed not to. Why? Because he has no idea what it is like to be me. He has never lived in my shoes. He has no empathy for me. He would have no idea how to worry about me. I'll handle the worry. We've done just fine without him so far, thank you very much.

Now, do I feel that my family is entitled to the benefits my husband and I paid for over the years we worked? Hell yes! I would feel that way whether we had paid for those benefits through a private entity or Social Security. That's why we have Social Security. It's also why my husband and I had life insurance, which we paid for every month. Did I feel entitled to receive that benefit? Yes, I did. We paid for it.

What I would most enjoy right now is for Mitt Romney to explain to my children how it is that they are lazy, entitled, and/or victims whom he will not be worrying about because their father died of cancer. Because while I do not need him to worry about me, my children might want to know why someone who's running for president of this nation would dare to make such a bold statement about his future constituents.

Middish Week Review: I'm Making It A Thing


Rape. Yeah. The news is chock full of rape, but guess what, so is the world. Get your heads out of the sand if you think this is just about Akin, folks. And keep in mind that since this is my personal blog, I'm expressing my personal opinions. If you don't know by now that I have some opinions, we probably haven't met. Here are some of the articles that really spoke to me over the past couple of days:

An Appeal to Rep. Todd Akin by Maureen Herman, former bassist of Babes in Toyland, founder Project Noise, and a mother of a daughter born as a result of rape. 

Using the Right Words About Rape by Kelly Wickman, an educator, mother of four, and all-around amazing person who has very important things to say on this subject, with perspective that speaks to me and might speak to you.

The Official Guide to Legitimate Rape by Katie J. M. Baker, Editor at Jezebel. This article is one of the most comprehensive I read on the concept of what is defined as rape and how legislators continue to undermine the good that would come from a zero-tolerance approach to rape by playing the game of trying to define "types of rape as if they were different flavors in an ice cream shop."


If you're more comfortable with your head in the sand, we can talk about death. Phyllis Diller died this week. I loved her. I spent part of today listening to this tribute on NPR, which included an interview she did with Terry Gross in 1986. It was every bit of the awesome I expected, with a slice of gold on top. 


We're also sending a big kid off to high school this week and a little one off to kindergarten. A time for transitions. And questions about why school districts can't seem to get their calendars to actually reflect meaningful information like start and end times to the day or truly import to the apps we all use with some sort of ease-of-use. Or maybe updated websites with links that aren't broken, less paper—hell no paper—especially when you're asking us to donate paper, which will presumably be used to produce copies of things to be sent home, just as easily made available online or also available online already—redundancy you are my nemesis. Silly things, I suppose, but they irk me every year and seem to be an issue across the country, so I don't feel alone. And who are these parents who can take off from work for hours, day after day, to attend registrations, open houses during the workday, and orientations, for varying grade-levels all held on different days and times, AFTER we've registered online multiple times in the spring and again in the fall? What an assumption of privilege, I think, to require parents to do these things, and make them feel less-than if they don't. It is wholly unnecessary that inefficiency or poor planning should result in longer hours for staff, volunteers, and parents. It doesn't show that anybody cares more or is more important. It is a waste of time and resources. It doesn't build community. It builds burnout and resentment.

And now, I'll be stepping off my little soapbox so I can get my house in order for back-to-school and daily life.

Enjoy the rest of your week, folks.

Drink something cool and fruity if you're able.


My Inspiration To Endure

There019I share half of my father's DNA and none of his political views. He's somewhere to the right of Rush Limbaugh, and yet we can civilly occupy a room together. He spends the requisite time asking me when I plan to chisel the Obama sticker off the minivan while I try my best to make sure my eyes don't get stuck "like that"--in that permanently rolled back position.

Politics aside, we have a lot in common. And he'd do anything in the world for me. He has. He continues to. He'd do anything in the world for his country. And he has. He enlisted in the Navy knowing he'd go to Vietnam. He didn't wait to be drafted. He was the only son in a fatherless family, having lost his dad at an early age. He chose to serve as soon as he graduated high school.


In the forty years I've know my father, he's told maybe 3 short stories about Vietnam, most of them light and funny. Until this year. Now, for whatever reason, he's ready to share. It started with him sharing a twenty some photos around Veterans Day. This progressed into a blog of the 100+ photos he has from Vietnam--photos my brother and I had never seen. Stories we'd never heard.

I helped him upload the photos to Flickr, create a slideshow to embed on his blog, and locate groups of other Flickr users with Chu Lai photos from the same era.

He's also set up a blog for his time in Adak, Alaska, the year before he shipped out to Vietnam. Both blogs contain some amazing shots, taken by a teenager who married my mother in 1966 and became my father three years later. By some amazing combination of faith, fate, and hard work, he and his teenage sweetheart (my mom) are still married over 40 years later. Looking at these pictures makes me realize just how young they were and how much they've endured.

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Read, Speak, Know: Banned Books Week 2009

This week is Banned Books Week. I'm rather fond of reading. My kids like books. They read around 140 novels last year between the two of them.


After a quick look at the list of frequently challenged and/or banned books, I was shocked not by how many I’d read, but by how many my children had read. So many of the books on the list are books I would consider children’s books.

You know, I do so love being told what I can and can't do. Wouldn't it be just grand if someone would decide which books were and were not appropriate for me and my children to read?

Yeah, um, NO. That's not going to fly in this house. My people came to this country so we could enjoy some basic freedoms. The books we read, the words on the pages (including this one), and the words that come out of our mouths are a BIG freedom we enjoy and plan on keeping.


Every year, more books are challenged. More books are banned. More words go unread. More authors undiscovered by new eyes. More voices silenced. Unacceptable.


Find out what you can do to fight the censorship. Yes, YOU. And you. I know you aren't wearing pants. None of us are. That's the beauty of the Internet. Just keep your webcam off for a minute (or don't, that's your business, really) and take some action on this before Big Brother knocks on your door and takes away your copy of Harry Potter. You think I'm joking? Harry makes the list All. The. Time.

My beloved Judy Blume has a truckload of books on the list. You all remember how damaging her works were for young readers. Don't even get me started on the classics. Oh, wait. Too late. To Kill a Mockingbird? On the list. Brave New World? On the list. As I Lay Dying (home to my favorite chapter of any chapter ever written, and I quote, "My mother is a fish.")? On the list. A Farewell to Arms? On the mother fucking list.

If you’re feeling particularly outraged, visit one of these PRO-censorship (yes, I said PRO) groups and let them know what you think of their efforts. Hey, I wonder if any of their members would be available to be our poster child/adult/pet for the Help Cure the Humorless cause. I bet they have a lot of potential candidates.

    * PABBIS: Parents Against Bad Books in Schools
    * ClassKS: Citizens for Literary Standards in Schools
    * Citizens for Academic Responsibility


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Death Paneling Is So 1974

State of Healthcare

Image by califmom via Flickr

Are you confused by the healthcare debate? Do you think Sarah Palin is going to panel your den in death? Are you convinced Obama is growing a Hitler ‘stache? Have you started confusing communism with socialism? No worries.

I found a stack of napkins that explains everything. Seriously.

And if the presentation goes too fast for ya, slow it down, rewind, play it again. I did. (Mostly because I liked the drawings.) You may need to do it for other reasons, and that’s okay too. There’s room in this big nation of ours for all kinds.

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The Changes in Iran

Neda's photo - June 20 Iran election protest i...

Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

I haven’t talked about politics here in a long while, but I wanted to take a moment to give you all a link to a great resource for information about what’s happening in Iran right now. It’s some of the best coverage available, both from the people on the ground, and from professional journalists.

Andrew Sullivan The Daily Dish at The Atlantic

Truly amazing footage, commentary from journalists, bloggers, raw feeds from Twitter interspersed with articles about the events as they unfold. It’s written in a blog/diary format. So, it’s easy to find the most current information. Text that highlighted in green signifies tweets written by Iranians.

I urge you to utilize this is a resource for your information gathering. I don’t necessarily recommend watching all of the videos or images of the violence unless you feel you need that information to understand the situation.

I do not know all of the most effective ways to support the Iranians, but I do not the kind of support I am able to provide, which is the dissemination of information. That is what I am trying to do here with the link to Andrew Sullivan’s work at The Atlantic. Hopefully, from that point, you’ll be able to figure out what you feel called to do to help our fellow humans on this planet.

Please share any ideas or suggestions you have in the comments section. I’m always looking for new resources I can pass along to my readers.


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That's My Mutha Flippin’ President

After eight long-ass years of hiding in shame every time the President made a public appearance, I give you My President. That One. The one who won my vote.

Will Congress listen? I hope so. If I were them, I’d be afraid I might lose my privileges if I didn’t make good choices.

P.S. If you can’t see the video in the feed, click over to my actual blog. You might even be surprised by all the new design tweaks. I’ve been a busy bee.

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Protecting Our Children or Going Overboard: What CPSIA means to you

Economy of American SamoaImage via Wikipedia

If you want to read my opinions on how the CPSIA will impact our family and homeschoolers, in general, click here.

If you aren't yet familiar with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, keep reading. If you think it won't effect you, keep reading. If you are worried about our economy or your job, keep reading.

The post below is part of the CPSIA Blog-In and was provided to bloggers for this purpose. Feel free to use it on your own blog.

As parents and concerned citizens I’m sure most of us at one time or another have been confronted with the question of lead poisoning. But have you asked yourself what your government is doing to protect your children from lead contained in toys? The answer? They're banning toys, taking books from schools and libraries, hurting low income families, killing entrepreneurial spirit and risking putting the economy in an even greater depression than we've seen in decades. I'd like to introduce you to their solution: the CPSIA.

Do you know about the CPSIA? No? Then I ask you to take a few minutes to find out about it.

The CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a new set of laws that will come into effect on 10 February, 2009 and will impact many, many people in a negative way. Make no mistake, this is very real. View it for yourself. If Forbes, the American Library Association and numerous other media are paying attention, perhaps you should too.

How will these new laws affect you? Well, here are a few examples:

To the Parents of Young Students:
Due to the new law, expect to see the cost of school supplies sky rocket. While those paper clips weren't originally intended for your student to use, they will need to be tested now that your 11-year-old needs them for his school project. This law applies to any and all school supplies (textbooks, pencils, crayons, paper, etc.) being used by children under 12.

To the Avid Reader:
Due to the new law, all children's books will be pulled from library and school shelves, as there is no exemption for them. That’s okay though, there's always television. Our children don’t need to learn the love of reading after all.
Article from the American Library Association

To the Lover of All Things Handmade:
Due to the new law, you will now be given a cotton ball and an instruction manual so you can make it yourself since that blanket you originally had your eye on for $50 will now cost you around $1,000 after it's passed testing. It won't even be the one-of-a-kind blanket you were hoping for. Items are destroyed in the testing process making one-of-a-kind items virtually impossible. So that gorgeous hand-knit hat you bought your child this past winter won’t be available next winter.

To the Environmentalist:
Due to the new law, all items in non-compliance will now be dumped into our already overflowing landfills. Imagine not just products from the small business owners, but the Big Box Stores as well. You can't sell it so you must toss it. Or be potentially sued for selling it. You can't even give them away. If you are caught, it is still a violation.

To the Second-Hand Shopper:
Due to the new law, you will now need to spend $20 for that brand new pair of jeans for your 2-year old, rather than shop at the Goodwill for second hand. Many resale shops are eliminating children's items all together to avoid future lawsuits.

To the Entrepreneur:
Due to this new law, you will be forced to adhere to strict testing of your unique products or discontinue to make and/or sell them. Small businesses will be likely to be unable to afford the cost of testing and be forced to close up shop. Due to the current economic state, you'll have to hope for the best when it comes to finding a new job in Corporate America.

To the Antique Toy Collector:
Due to the new law, you'd better start buying now because it's all going to private collection and will no longer be available to purchase. “Because the new rules apply retroactively, toys and clothes already on the shelf will have to be thrown out if they aren't certified as safe.”

To the American Economy:
Already struggling under an economy that hasn’t been this weak in decades, the American economy will be hit harder with the inevitable loss of jobs and revenues from suppliers, small businesses and consumers. The required testing is far too costly and restrictive for small businesses or individuals to undertake.

To the Worldwide Economy:
Due to this new law, many foreign manufacturers have already pulled out of the US market. You can imagine the impact of this on their businesses.

If you think this is exaggerating, here is a recent article from Forbes

And for those of you prepared to be stupefied and boggled, The New Law

Did you know? If this upsets or alarms you, please react.

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It Ain't Right

Cropped image of Arnold Schwarzenegger.Image via WikipediaToday, on our way to meet my MIL, we were listening to NPR. The state of California is, once again, experiencing a budget crisis. Governor Schwarzenegger was discussing his plan to raise taxes as a means to increase the state's revenue. Peanut, ever the idealist, piped up and said, "Doesn't he know that you don't raise taxes during a recession?"

Seems even a 10 year-old can figure that one out. I didn't even have to explain the inequality of sales tax to her. Smart kid, that one.

Not bad for a liberal, eh Dad?

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Small Town America: Is It Better?

Sarah Palin - Barbarians

Image by smiteme via Flickr

Sarah Palin has waged a war on America’s urban residents. In her words we aren’t real Americans. We aren’t pro-America. We are apparently unworthy of her time or praise. Although, I’m guessing, she’s happy to accept our campaign contributions.

The problem with this premise is that there’s no evidence that small towns are more American. Is there? I mean, if you know of any, shoot that shit my way. Drop me a comment. Send me a singing telegram. Honestly. I’d love to hear the evidence.

NYC and Washington D.C. were good enough for the actual terrorists. I guess they just aren’t good enough for Governor Palin. Does she realize who walked into the towers as they were falling down? Sure as shit wasn’t her scrawny small-town ass.

As for small town values…let me just say that I grew up in a small town. I know a small town. And you, Sarah Palin, are full of shit about small towns.

There is nothing about a small town that makes it greater or less-than any other place in our great country. I refuse to hear your simple mind claim otherwise.

Do you think the soldiers in uniform who come from the urban parts of this great nation are serving any less honorably alongside your son? Their blood, Governor Palin, runs just as red as a small-town soldier’s. I promise. Just ask their moms.

Do you think the teachers in inner-city schools aren’t dedicated to their jobs? They sure as hell aren’t in it for the money nor the fame.

Do you think teen pregnancy, high school drop-out rates, and drug abuse are only an issue in big cities? Oh, wait, I guess you don’t. My bad.

By the way, do you understand that America encompasses a number of countries, only one of which is the United States of America. So, when you talk about America’s greatness, remember you are including those pesky illegal immigrants, your Canadian neighbors, and that land to the south where your running-mate spent some time (and money) with those terrorists. Ask Ollie, I’m sure he’ll be happy to fill you in.

In the end, I think my 10 year-old daughter said it best when she told me, “Mom, we are the United States of America.” On her behalf, Governor Palin, I respectfully request you stop trying to divide us. Everyone who’s tried has failed, even your own state.

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The Marverick Is Put Up On Blocks

Ford Maverick Grabber - 1971 or 1972, probably.

Image via Wikipedia

Rolling Stone's upcoming issue has a cover story on Senator John McCain that, in my opinion, has managed to put the ol' Maverick up on blocks.


Let me count the ways.

On second thought, I'll let Tim Dickinson tell you all about it. He does a kick-ass job, crawls under every rock, and exposes the illustrious career of Senator McCain.

Make-Believe Maverick

A closer look at the life and career of John McCain reveals a disturbing record of recklessness and dishonesty

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