Tuesday, October 30, 2007

what do gypsies do?

I've been having more and more trouble staying on task lately. I've always thought I tended a little toward ADD, but it's worse than ever lately. I've decided it is all because of my children.

Questions/Statements with which I was beset during our drive to dog obedience class tonight, within the very short span of 20 seconds:
  • "Do you know the words to 'Bet On It?'"
  • "Mom, what does a gypsy do?"
  • "Do you know how to throw a frisbee forehand?"
  • "You know, you can't ever change that you spanked Roxy."
{Roxy is our dog who was being EXTRAORDINARILY naughty tonight on the way to dog obedience, of all places, causing several bruises on my shins, a few burst eardrums and a total shattering of patience. Yes I spanked her and no, E will never forgive me.}
I am so tired.

Here is a random selection of some of the things I've been busy with recently (as a pathetic attempt at an excuse as to why I've not posted in so long).

I found out I'm funded through this.

I'm also going to San Francisco and LA in December for some meetings. I have not traveled for work in 2 years. It's not easy to try to stay up with things as a scientist when you limit travel so severely. But it's a choice I happily made in order to keep the balance I want between my career and my family. I'm ready to travel some more now though, which is a good thing since I may need to go on at least one of the aircraft deployments to the Arctic (Fairbanks?) this year.

Red Sox. I am supremely happy. So is DH (happy is somewhat of an understatement.) Man, does he love baseball. I love that he loves it, and I find I can love the game too, if he can de-intensify enough to enjoy it with me. I won't even get into the whole ordeal (yes I will) that I made him pay dearly for, when we took a family trip to see the Sox play in Baltimore this year, and I discovered once we were looking for our seats (DH bought the tickets), that we WERE NOT SITTING TOGETHER. DH simply cannot understand how anyone would not be happy to go watch the Red Sox play, whether you are sitting alone or not. Me? I fumed and sputtered and cried and tried to enjoy what I could of the game without going to find DH and clobbering him over the head. Let's just say that from now on, we will not be attending games unless the family is SITTING TOGETHER. I'm such a bitch.


We had so much fun watching the playoffs and the World Series. I just wish my kids could have watched more of them with us, but it was too late for them to stay up. Q just absolutely adores Jacoby Ellsbury and has been following his career for a while (Q's favorite position is center field). He's a talented, strapping young man (who is young enough to be my son, I discovered - Mare, check out his birth date. O.M.G.) who is just amazing at baseball. I saw Ellsbury announcing the lineup before one of the series games and he was so nervous that he was rocking back and forth in such a Q'esque kind of way that I nearly died laughing.

Me? I have a soft spot for Mike Lowell, the series MVP and all around amazing person and amazing ball player and...well...he's distinguished and handsome, and is a lot closer to my age. I will have a hard time forgiving the Sox if they don't re-sign him.

He's downright hot in that picture.
(from me, the baseball aficionado)

Not sure about DH. I know he's a Varitek fan, partly because we were at Ga Tech all at the same time. Sorry, I have no stories about hanging out with Jason (and Nomar) at local bars, though. DH did take me to a game or two back then, not that I had any idea. No idea that Varitek and Garciapara would end up in the majors, and no idea that I would end up marrying DH and having two children with him. I was just hanging out at the ball field and drinking a beer. (BTW, I just went to ask DH who his favorite Red Sox player was and he said historically it'd be Varitek, but he's really up on Ellsbury now).

Funny, neither DH nor Q place much importance on "being hot." Me either, really. I swear. Really. It's just a very nice sidenote. Jeez. Time to indulge my ADD and move to another subject.

We are in the process of beginning another addition to our home (will post pictures as it goes along). This room will be a full addition (foundation, heating and cooling, etc) sunroom - i.e., nice big room with as many windows that will fit, vaulted ceiling, skylights, and door leading out to a new TREX deck. Future dreams include a hot tub on the deck, and an above-ground pool with surround decking. It'll happen!!!! Party at my house in about another decade...

See you there...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

stop chicken little

May I point you to a very nice article on our reaction to global warming?
Check this out.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I am mommy, but it is my pups who roar

I am so sorry. I am about to write a blog post about my daughter again. But I'll then try to seque into a thoughtful post about religion and diversity and such, if that makes it any better. (nah, I won't really seque into that. I'm just going to brag about my wonderful daughter.in this post. Again.)

I do not believe in god. I do not, however, teach my children that they should not believe in god. I teach them that it is a personal decision, and I took them to UU (up until about 5 months ago) to introduce them to the concept of religion (including christianity) and god(s) and to the concept that spirituality is ultimately a personal decision. I'm all about imparting our values to our kids, but this is one area of values that I firmly believe that they have GOT to find their own way. I'll tell them what I believe but I will never tell them that I know anything for sure. I've encouraged them to think about things broadly and find their own way, and that I will respect whatever it is that they decide, and I expect that their own spirituality will change many, many times before they are comfortable. (And I will try SO HARD to accept their way as valid and reasonable, no matter how painful that may be. Family Ties, anyone?)

So don't hate me or judge me because my daughter currently doesn't believe in god.

My daughter is about as different from me (when I was her age) as you can get. She is one of the most self-assured people I've ever known. She's delicate (only because she's only eight), but is also so confident in herself that it puts me to shame.

She's in 3rd grade (that's very young). Her teacher stepped out of their classroom for a few minutes today. One of the kids mentioned that he was drawing god in his crayon picture because "god is everywhere". Let me mention here that I have many, MANY times tried to explain to E that religious beliefs are diverse and quite personal and that they are usually best left unspoken. (i.e., PLEASE don't go around telling everyone that you are a heathen, my dear heart, since we live on the edge of the bible belt and I really don't want you to be a walking target). So of course E pipes up that "*I* don't think that's true, Christopher, because *I* don't even believe in god!!!!". And that led, ultimately, to quite the heated little debate amongst this quiet little 3rd grade class in their few moments of no adult supervision. E tells me that she was told by many that she was going to go to hell, to which she feistily replied that since she didn't believe in hell either, she wasn't worried about that. Her best friend in the classroom is Jewish (very possibly the ONLY Jewish child in this elementary school at this point) and is very much as self-assured as E, and she stated that she didn't believe that Jesus was the son of god and that E was Unitarian and she and E proclaimed together that they were still able to be best friends despite believing different things.

At which point, apparently, all hell broke loose and manna from heaven was falling and fire was bursting forth from bushes and words were flung about.

Then the teacher returned to the classroom and announced they were going to vote for their representative to the student council.

And guess who won. My sweet little heathen, the unbeliever and the godless E.

Can I say that I am so proud I want to weep? A lot? (not about winning the silly little Student Council Rep position, though I have to admit I'm happy about that). But I am proud that there is this tiny little human here that somehow understands that there is an enormous range of spiritual understandings out there, and understands that her own beliefs are just that (her own beliefs) and she was able to stand strong in the face of a group that believed she was so wrong that she was going to hell (whatever that really means to 8 year olds), and she didn't back down...and she came from me!!!!!!

I love this child. And I created her. Applaud me.

No, sorry. Applaud her.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Today was my daughter's Ultimate Frisbee class after school. For what it's worth, this class is EXACTLY as I'd predicted it would be when E first announced to me she wanted to take it. There are 40 kids in this class, and 38 of them are boys. About 35 of them are 4th and 5th grade boys. E is having the time of her life. (Yes, I am afraid. I am very afraid.)

Anyway, I went up to the school to pick up her hot and sweaty and smiley self. She settled down in the van and we started the 7 minute drive home.


(uh oh. There is this particular tone of voice that she uses and when I hear it I know I will be amused, infinitely entertained, and ultimately left wondering how it is possible that this child came to be part of my gene pool.)

"Mom, you know when Q gets upset and cries and you get mad at him?"

"Yes." (I will not go into this particular issue here. Suffice it to say that Q continues to delight me with his intellect and leave me gray-haired and feeling totally incapable of parenting him with his inability to stifle ANY emotion that he feels at ANY particular point in time).

"Well mom. You really need to support him and let him know that you know how he feels."

(I kind of shake my head and continue driving.)

"I mean, you need to be firm and let him know what he's doing wrong, but he really knows that already so he needs you to be firm and ALSO he needs to know that you're not mad at him. I mean, it's like he needs a gentle push up up up up to help him get into control. He already feels bad and knows you'll be mad at him for crying so you need to say, 'Q, I UNDERSTAND how you feel and you're right to feel that way, but I need you to stop crying. I need you to pull yourself together.' Like that, Mom! You need to let him know that you love him at the same time that you let him know what he's doing wrong."

(I was pretty much speechless at this point.)

She continued on and on and on the rest of the way home, full of examples about what the best way to react would be under various situations, and she was so full of compassion and wisdom that it took all I had not to laugh because. GOD. She's EIGHT!!!!
It was particularly hard not to laugh when after two beats of silence she said, "Mom? If you try all of this stuff about five times or so and it doesn't work? Then just forget that we had this conversation." Actually, I did laugh at that. Pretty hard.

We drove up into the driveway, and stunned into silence, (you tell me who wouldn't be after a 7 minute long lecture on proper parenting skills by an 8 year old), I got out of the van.

"Mom?" she said. "Actually, you're doing pretty good with this."

"Go on into the house." I told her. "I need to go talk to Mary." (neighbor).

At which point I walked next door and asked Mary if the world had been overtaken by aliens.

I have NO IDEA where all that came from or why and in particular how she came up with that last little barb about "forget this conversation ever took place" which was so witty and funny and so un-like an 8 year old (who is usually a normal 8 year old twerp who won't go to bed when she's supposed to), that well. What to say?

This is why I had kids, I guess.

At least now I know how to handle Q.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

rose orthodoxy

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.
When I was in junior high, some of my classes were held in a "trailer".
Now, both of my kids both have had some of their classes held in "learning cottages."

When I was in junior high and kids got in trouble they were sent to "detention."
My son's middle school sends kids that misbehave to the "extended teaching room."

Our old "janitors" are now "custodians" and our old "cafeteria ladies" are now "food services personnel".

Up until last week, if I was using a copier and got the message "out of paper", I knew what to do.
Last week, when I got the message "resources required" I was stumped for a while. But I should have known.
(I'm not kidding this is really the new message that is displays when the paper is out)


Friday, October 12, 2007

Nobel Peace Prize

Congratulations to the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) and to Al Gore for winning the 2007 Nobel Peace prize.

Hear that rage? The heads of global warming denialists are exploding all over the world. But don't worry, they'll find their tongues soon enough and will resume their campaign of misinformation. (Actually, they already have. No I'm not giving any links here).

The IPCC and Al Gore are both highly deserving. From the Nobel Prize website:
In addition to humanitarian efforts and peace movements, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded for work in a wide range of fields including advocacy of human rights, mediation of international conflicts, and arms control.
Climate change is the issue that will define our generation. No other conflict or action that we as a species take during our lifetimes is going to have as much ultimate impact on the earth and on the human species as climate change will. Yes, that is simply a prediction (and my prediction at that). But after a few decades of studying and thinking about this issue, I am convinced of this truth. Despite the (99.99% unfounded) claims that the science is uncertain, the real evidence strongly supports that humans have altered the carbon balance of the earth/atmosphere system significantly and as a result have initiated a new era of human-induced climate change, and anyone who actually takes the time to review the science in an unbiased manner will agree, I am positive. Al Gore suspected the importance of this "truth" decades ago and has been a steady and stalwart voice for educating the public on climate change ever since. The US military itself has recognized the ultimate threat of climate change to global security and peace in its report on 'National Security and the threat of Climate Change." The Nobel committee awarded the prize to Gore and the IPCC because it wanted to bring into sharper focus the "increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between state" posed by climate change. Climate change is not simply about the world having warmer temperatures. It is about changes in locales of food production, water availability, and ultimately, in wealth. And this is indeed the stuff of peace and wars. That Al Gore has persevered in getting the message to the public in the face of such vicious backlash from certain sectors is a testament to his dedication to this message.

Recognition of the IPCC is a nod to the dedicated work of thousands of scientists. Here is a description of what the IPCC is and why we should pay attention to its conclusions. (and you know what? Only after I found this description of the IPCC and decided to link to it did I realize that it was written by none other than my thesis advisor when he was working at the Environmental Defense Fund. No wonder I felt so at home reading it.) And here is a good essay on the IPCC award.

In just the last week or so, I've had two people ask me about global warming. Both are people I respect a lot and consider to be highly intelligent and unbiased. But both were under the impression that the message about global warming being caused by humans was overinflated and that the current changes in climate could be explained primarily by natural causes. I hope (I think?) I explained to them how scientists know that is not the case now well enough to them to change their minds. (Look here if you're interested. Really - it's the Skeptical Science link I have under my links list. It's a great resource. I'm very impressed with this guy). I do know that I came away exceedingly depressed because the denialists are doing a bang-up job of spreading enough of the seed of doubt out there for it to take some root. Why are people so willing to dismiss decades of work by scientists as incomplete? Do they really think climate science and scientists are so soft and incompetent as to not have considered natural impacts and other such obvious possibilities? Or is it just that as Al Gore stated - that this truth is inconvenient enough to make us desperate to deny it?

In any case. Apart from my concerns about climate and the future, this prize went to a organization and to an individual who are stellar examples to us all. Thank you, Nobel Committee.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


I've actually written several posts this last week, but I chose not to publicly post them for various reasons. It's been one of those weeks.

My (98 year old) grandmother had a stroke but is recovering nicely now. However, a few days ago my uncle died from a freak skill-saw accident while my aunt was visiting Mamaw in the hospital. It really knocked the breath out of me. No death, particularly of a loved one, is "easy." But this one so much came from out of the blue when we were all focused on my grandmother, and was so horrific, that I feel sucker-punched. Rodney was one of the kindest people I know, too - he was always active in his church, in his community, and was such a strong family man. I didn't necessarily have an extremely close one-on-one relationship with him, but he was part of my family and was always a stable fixture in my life. He and Lynell visited me out here when they were visiting the east coast a few years ago. I was touched that they went out of their way to see me. He was always calm and peaceful and in control, and was always smiling. He was one of the real ones - a purely kind person. This is one of those deaths where if I did believe in a god that was active in human lives, I would be irrationally (or rationally) angry at him. Because I don't, however, I don't have a place to put my anger. The fact that life is uncontrollable is crystal clear to me just now, and leaves me feeling vulnerable and fragile.

For my family, here is an obituary I found. The entries in the guest book show what kind of person people thought Rodney was.

I find myself searching for something to take from this, and end up feeling selfish. What is clear is that life is fleeting. I can let that scare me or let it spur me into enjoying every second I have with my amazingly complex and beautiful children, my stable and loving husband, my fun and always warm family and my most amazing friends.

Monday, October 01, 2007

different ways to stretch

Interesting night.

Being PTA president has given me the opportunity to work on skills that I would never have the need to work on otherwise. Mostly, (totally) I'm talking about interpersonal communication skills. At work, I need to get along well with two people (who are mostly carbon copies of my geeky little self anyway) . I've known GC for more than 20 years, so he almost counts as family, and he lets my random days of being a total bitch roll off his back and he hardly notices. Other than him and wonderboy (who I never get snippy with because I think he is the god of science and I shamelessly mollycoddle to him), the rest of my time is spent in front of my computer. I can handle that very easily.

As PTA president, I'm communicating daily with all kinds of people who are vastly different than I am. This means that I'm having to stretch. I'm having to learn to get along with people who don't think like I do and who (gasp) I may not even want to have as a friend, much less be a carbon copy of. This is all a good thing for my growth as a person. It's also very humbling.

I am a huge know-it-all, type-A, in-control little snot for anyone reading this who doesn't know me. (I know!!! I'm hearing the gasps of disbelief all the way over here on the east coast!!! Stop laughing my sisters and mom and dad and Mare.) I like that fact that I know it all. I enjoy being right.


There is a particular person on my PTA board that I have some trouble relating to. (Dear neighbor M knows EXACTLY who I'm talking about). She's my treasurer this year. I was treasurer for the last two years. So I am all thick and smug in my very vast knowledge of PTA treasurer-dom. I'm the expert, you know. I'm the darling of PTA finances at our school. So at our meeting tonight, I was horrified to discover that she'd written a check to herself to cover startup cash for the cashbox for one of our events. In all of my time spent researching this problem myself, I've never been able to find a decent solution to this issue (can't write checks out to cash, you need a receipt or invoice for all checks written, etc) so I resorted to using my own money for startup cash and reimbursed myself when the event was over. The current treasurer wasn't willing to do this. The nerve!!! I got all huffy at her insinuation that I wasn't actually the know-it-all, and I let her know the error of her ways. What was she THINKING to question my authority? I am the great know-it-all of the PTA!!!! (OK, I wasn't really all that bad. But inside I was thinking all these things).

So I came home and let myself decompress and realized that I was not learning new interpersonal relationship skills this way. I took a deep breath, wrote an email to the state PTA treasurer asking for guidance (copying her) and then sent her an apology. Almost immediately, I received an answer from the state treasurer, basically in support of her position. We are not expected to use our own cash as start-up cash, and really, that's a bad idea. Her way of handling it was the correct one.

So I let her know that. And I thanked her for keeping on me about it and I told her she was right. Ouch.

That was not all that easy for me because I am the PTA treasurer goddess with her slip showing now. Really. I'm a jerk for not opening myself up to the fact that I don't know it all. Well, I'm being awfully hard on myself. I DID, in fact, do that, but only after the fact. I'm not good at interpersonal relationship skills in the heat of the moment - only much later do I become reasonable.

I'm learning. And I'm enjoying that opportunity, really. These are the sorts of things that I never ever ever have to face at work or in other areas of my life. I surround myself with friends who are a lot like me and who think mostly like I do. This is a chance for me to grow in an area I've never stretched myself in before. It's humbling, but it feels good, in the end.

Kind of like the yoga poses we practiced during our program after the business meeting tonight.

(and yes, that was my idea!!! see why I'm such the PTA goddess???) (snort)