Thursday, April 30, 2009

Random Thought Thursday 4-30-09

Why don't we just roll out the welcome mat and let everybody who wants a piece of the American pie come on in? Seriously. Let them steal planes and fly in, or backstroke across the Rio Grande, drift across the ocean in an inner tube, row across Lake Ontario, launch themselves on a North Korean rocket, jet-ski over from Russia, package themselves as freight and hitch a ride on a banana boat. Come one, come all! Get your freedom while it's hot! Free food, free lodging, free medical care, free money!


Two new additions to Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Never Ever List for students:

1) Never, ever take Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's glasses off her desk, put them on your fat head, and walk around the room. One would have thought that the edict to never, ever touch anything on Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's desk would have sufficed.

2) Never, ever scoot your desk forward, pull up your chair, scoot your desk forward, pull up your chair, etc. until you are against Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's desk, where you turn in your paper, then push your chair back, scoot your desk backwards, push your chair back, scoot your desk backwards, etc. until you are back in the row.


Can we place all emo kids in a room where they can emo to their heart's content, and only affect other emos, and spare the rest of the world from their emo-ness?


When a kid gets a metal shaving stuck in his eye, and comes to our school with a white piratey patch taped on, and whines about how it hurts, so other kids tell him he needs to go to the doctor, and he says he will not go, because doctors are stupid, and furthermore, that he's going to rip that pirate patch off before he goes home, and other kids tell him he could go blind, and he says he doesn't care...can we make him dream that he is blind in that eye, and videotape him so we can see him bawling like a little baby out that one good eye and the empty, sunken socket where his other eye could have been?


Why does a certain lunchmate think that Air Force One buzzing New York City is more serious that a possible swine flu pandemic? And why did I feed her fire of indignation by telling her that some people in New York crapped their pants? Because she ate that right up. Which is probably a poor choice of words for her reaction. But I don't care.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Playground In HM's Mind

During my slow recuperation from the recliner neck injury, I have tried to find alternative ways to ease the pain. Contorting myself like a Chinese acrobat did not help. I stopped short at ordering Dr. Frank's Joint and Muscle Pain Relief Spray. But only because I knew it wouldn't get here in time. Running out of options, I tried to relax. You know the drill. You take a little trip inside your mind to a special place that calms you, and then you start relaxing your toes, feet, ankles, legs, etc. Sometimes, it worked. But it took a long time to get to my neck.

Let me share with you my special place. Don't try to steal it. I may need it again. It's a place from my high school days. Now it would be a Superfund Site. Yeah. As in toxic waste. Now you know why I'm the way I am.

During the summer after my senior year, my friend Susan would volunteer her beige Plymouth Valiant to drive us to what we called Monsanto Lake. As far as I know, it never had anything to do with Monsanto, but that's what everybody called it. The place did not have a real road back then. You had to drive through an old lead mine and out onto the flats. The flats were like a barren desert, except that instead of sand, it was made of dust. Dust that was ground up leftover mineral material that was left after all the extractable lead was extracted.

As you might suspect, dust drifts. Sometimes there were small dunes, sometimes not. I am not good with directions, but Susan was. She could point that Plymouth Valiant seven ways to Sunday, depending on which way the dust had drifted, and some old and new tire tracks, and get us to the lake and back. And the Valiant did not mind if we tracked dust into it on the way home, or if we got the seats wet. Considering that the back seat had a hole the size of a small pumpkin burned into the upholstery, it's no wonder. That hole was there when Susan got the car. We were non-smokers. Apparently, the previous owner or a passenger had tossed out a lit cigarette which then blew into the back seat and smoldered a hole that would necessitate coverage with a throw pillow so that nobody lost a butt cheek.

Our forays were always girls-only. Who wants guys along to lay in the sun and talk about guys? Not us. Sometimes we took our friend Normal, sometimes Mouse, sometimes Little Ernie. Rarely did all five of us make the same trip. Oh, and so you don't feel bad about Susan, she had a nickname, too. Mooner. That's because when cruising through town one Thursday night after a volleyball game, I looked into my rearview mirror and viewed a rear. Susan's rear, pressed up against the glass of my hatchback, mooning the car behind us. And I thought they were just being friendly with all that honking. But I digress...

The lake was surrounded by woods on three sides, with a nice flat dusty beach on the fourth. My special place was at the end of the beach. Away from the platform where people swam out and dived. Away from the families with sniveling brats. Away from the tweeners pantsing each other. We would blow up our $1.00 air mattresses, slather on some baby oil (because back then the object was to fry yourself to a crisp, not protect your tender epidermis from cancer rays), and float right at the water's edge. You put your pillow part of the air mattress on the dusty beach, and let the rest float in the shallow water. You didn't drift out into the jagged rotting tree trunks, but you floated, and had water to dip your arms into to splash yourself and cool off. It was the best of all possible air mattress worlds. You could put your sunglasses over your eyes, chat about who was doing what with whom, or take a short nap if the mood struck you. You knew you wouldn't wake up in the middle of the lake like Morty in Meatballs.

That's my special place. I can feel the sun on my skin, the gentle waves lapping under my robin's egg-blue air mattress, that sensation of floating. It is OH SO RELAXING. Until Mooner asks about my latest boyfriend, and I have to tell her about the worst date in the world. So I don't let myself get that far into my special place. Mooner takes a nap during my relaxation exercise.

I also block out the day that we saw a UFO bobbing in the water about 10 feet out. Surely you are familiar with lake UFOs. Unidentified Floating Objects. This one looked suspiciously like that Baby Ruth in Caddyshack. Mooner and I did not attempt to taste it.

Sometimes, UFOs are better left unexplored.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's Not Making Me Stronger

This broken neck is really kicking my butt. Whoever came up with that saying what doesn't kill me makes me stronger has obviously never been near death from a broken neck. I have been in severe pain since last Wednesday night when a recliner cough resulted in a neck pop and instant pain. I would have to classify it as a 9 on a scale of 10. The only pains in my life that beat it are a gallstone and a broken bone. Fake vicodin from 2005 does not so much take the pain away as it reminds me of how much worse the pain gets when it wears off. Ibuprofen keeps me from crying while I'm at school. Those heat patch thingies do not live up to Mabel's endorsement. BenGay is weak, and TheraGesic works for about 15 minutes.

Today is the first day the pain has been bearable. I am able to think about other things for a few moments before remembering that I am in severe pain. Let's hope I'm on the road to recovery. I'm thinking the only thing that might have saved me would have been some type of muscle relaxer. I don't know for sure, having never taken a muscle relaxer, but my muscle definitely needed some relaxing. Unfortunately, that would have necessitated a trip to the doctor, which I didn't plan on until after the weekend, what with giving this demon pain a few days to get better, a la a stiff neck. This was no stiff neck. And by Monday, I figured that the doctor would be booked up with people thinking they had the swine flu, so I crossed that appointment off my list.

My mom (she of Ye Olde Expired Food Shoppe fame after the 4-year-old Ranch Dressing attempt on my life one Thanksgiving) kicked in with some fake vicodin from 2007 when she had that FAT RED PINKY FINGER that the orthopedic specialist wanted to lop off. Don't worry, she still has all 10 digits. She also tried to foist some unknown pills on me in a bottle with the label rubbed off, but I tossed them right in the trash. I thought I saw a faint shadow word like s e p t r i n on it, which I know is an antibiotic, which she was taking for a month before the lopping recommendation, and if there's one thing I know, it's not to take anybody else's antibiotics, and since I am allergic to the -cillins and cefprozil, I did not feel like taking a chance on anaphylactic shock, even to get rid of the severe neck pain if it was instead some kick-a$$ painkiller specifically designed for broken necks due to recliner accidents.

Maybe I should try some Benadryl.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The NeverEnding School Year

Like an Oscar-winning actor hogging the microphone, like a little-known low-talking commencement speaker at graduation, like a sisterhood of the traveling pants pact among women now in their 80s, like an opinionated tirade by Rosie O'Donnell, like the Vietnam War, like the career of Gilbert Gottfried, like a 7-year-old telling you about the movie he just saw, like Bubba describing shrimp to Forrest Gump, like the winning touchdown pass spiraling through the receiver's hands and out of the end zone, like Sue Hawk casting her vote for Richard Hatch in the very first Survivor, like a pilot at Hong Kong's Kai Tak Airport...this school year has gone on too long.

I am tired of students asking for a new seating chart, complaining about the new seating chart, begging to move the chairs back the way they were, complaining that the chairs are back the way they were, wanting to work in partners, complaining about their partners, and just generally demanding the opposite of whatever they have.

I am tired of students carrying their books to class when I have announced and written on the board that they won't need them this week. I am tired of students 'forgetting' their books when I have announced and written on the board that they will definitely need their books all week. I am tired of students asking, "When do we get out of here?" after telling them from Day 1 that I am not their personal timekeeper. I am tired of students declaring, "Sixteen days of school left!" when anybody with ten fingers and eight toes can count that there are 18 days left.

I must keep chanting: THREE MONDAYS LEFT!

At an important meeting after school today, a meeting in which I had to cough into my elbow, my Arch Nemesis mumbled, "Swine flu." Tomorrow, as she walks down the hall every hour, leaving her classroom unattended, I am going to do this, in sounds, not words: "Cough, hack, oink oink oink."

Don't mess with the pig, or you get the squiggly tail.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

True Confession

I went on a murderous rampage while HH and the boys were gone to the state bowling tournament. The body count stands at 19. That's 11 victims on Saturday, and 8 today. You don't have to worry. I don't advertise on Craig's List. You don't have to worry unless you are in the state of Missouri, flitting around my Mansion, and you are a stinging demon.

Wasps are bad this year. They haven't even built nests yet. They lazily buzz around the brown metal soffit of my front porch. Actually, it's the whole porch. It's a wrap-around. My murder weapon is a can of Black Flag that will shoot 20 feet. I must admit that I'm a bit wasteful. With no nests to take out, I just aim at each individual. They are not expecting my surprise attacks. Just one tiny mist droplet of this chemical assassin is all that's necessary. Dead bug flying. They don't go far. They sputter. They drop. They writhe. They die.

Make that victim count 21. I forgot the two indoor intruders. One reared his ugly head on the cutting block in the kitchen Thursday morning, just as we were leaving. Both boys gasped when I pointed him out. These are the same boys who shriek "Moth! Moth! Kill it!" Apparently, they don't know a menace from a harmless, powdery, winged intruder. I grabbed a paper towel from the roll six inches away, folded it, and nabbed him. I felt his insecty exoskeleton crunch between my finger and thumb. For good measure, I soaked his carcass at the sink before squeezing the bejeezus out of him and shoving him down in the wastebasket. The second one was at the front door, trying to get out. But no. No escape for he who dares infiltrate my Mansion. I grabbed him with a paper towel as well (I recommend Bounty Select-A-Size), crushed him, and dumped him out of his paper-towel shroud into the toilet. Voila! His broken body rode the rapids all the way to the septic tank. I dare him to return!

I must restock my ammunition before I confront the two giant bumbling bees I saw on the garage side. They were like something out of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

I will kill again.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Small Town Teacher Rock Star Blues

I am a rock star. A small-town rock star, but still a rock star. I am recognized when I am out and about. People know who I am, even though I may not know who they are. They feel comfortable in approaching me, whatever their agenda. For I am a rock star.

And with the persona of rock star comes responsibility to contain my behavior within certain parameters. Just because I don't want to be a rock star does not relieve me of that responsibility. Because I am a rock star, I can not be seen in certain establishments, can not dress in certain clothing which might be deemed inappropriate for a person of my rock starness, can not speak in certain manner, can not revel in my political affiliations, can not live a life outside of the mainstream mores. What I CAN and MUST do is promote a positive view of my place of employment, turn the other cheek, grin and bear it, and save the world.

Minding my own business at The Devil's Playground last week, racing up and down the aisles like a Supermarket Sweep contestant, but without all the frozen turkeys and disposable diapers, in a hurry to get 'er done and get home to pack for my boys' bowling trip...I was recognized. At first it was just a stare, to which I always want to retort, "Take a picture, it'll last longer," on a good day, and, "What the f*#& are YOU looking at?" on a bad day. Then I crossed from the whole-wheat bagels into the insect spray, and the Fan followed.

"Aren't you Mrs. Hillbilly Mom?"
"Can I talk to you confidentially about something?"
"I will not discuss it with anybody."
"Do you know Student?"
"Yes. From last year. Student is a good kid."
"Student thinks the world of you."
"That's good to know. I enjoyed Student."
"Well, Student's mom and I are worried about Student."
"Oh? I only see Student in the hall this year."
"Yes. Student used to be so full of ambition. And now something is wrong."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
"We are all so worried. Student won't talk to us."
"Sometimes kids are like that at this age."
"Yes. We really want to help. You know how kids are these days about suicide. It's really got us worried. Something is wrong, and Student won't share it with us."

At this point, the Fan had tears streaming down the face. This made cold-hearted Mrs. HM leak a few eye rivulets as well. Right in the middle of The Devil's Playground. What do you say to something like this?

"I see Student in the hall between classes, and Student always speaks to me."
"Student is not the same. Student is sad all the time."
"I have noticed that there are days when Student is not as cheerful as last year."
"We are at a loss. We just don't know what to do. Do you think you could talk to student. Without student knowing about this?"
"I can ask Student 'How's it going?' when I see student in the hall. You know, because there are people all around, but Student will know that I'm accessible if needed."
"Oh, that would be great."
"I can't guarantee anything, because a lot of these kids don't want to talk to adults."
"Yes, but maybe Student will open up because Student likes you so much."
"I know I will have Student in class next year. That's what Student talks to me about in the hall. Student is looking forward to my class."
"Yes. I'm hoping we can find out what's bothering Student, so we can help."
"You DO understand that if Student says anything that worries me, I will have to report it to the counselor."
"Yes. And you could let me and Student's mother know if there's something to be concerned about. Without Student knowing."
"Yes. But Student may no want to tell me anything."
"I know. But we don't know what else to do."
"I'll do what I can."
"Thank you so much. It really means a lot to us."

What can I do? I don't want anything to happen to Student. But I'm not a miracle worker. I spoke to Student in the hall. Student was having a good day. I will make it a point to greet student every day as Student passes.

I feel like I have a great responsibility. I don't want to go to the counselor unless there is something to be concerned about. The counselor always pulls kids in to talk if you mention something. I don't want to betray trust after promising confidentiality. But I WILL sing like a canary if Student seems to be in harm's way. It's all I can do.

Being a rock star is such a balancing act.

Friday, April 24, 2009

BrokeNeck Poutin'

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has a broken neck. It's true. Not 'broken' in the manner of an orthopedic halo drilled into her skull, or 'broken' in the manner of fragments of vertebrae migrating about her cervical spine region.

Broken. As in not working correctly. It happened Wednesday night. Mrs. HM fell asleep in her recliner downstairs while watching TV. She awoke around 1:00 a.m. and went to bed. Wouldn't you know it...after countless nights of complaining about HH's breather whooshing germy air across her face and making enough racket to turn the dead into insomniacs...HH was not using his breather. The silence was deafening. Mrs. HM tried to sleep. She twisted about for nigh on one hour. Then she got up to sit in HH's recliner. It's a big man's chair, and the pillow poofy top cushion thingy does not fit the curve of Mrs. HM's neck when she reclines. The pointy back of her head rests on that uncomfy cushion, leaving her neck unsupported.

Because that chair is right under the air return vent for the central heating and cooling system, there is always some dust kicking around like a dirt cloud over Franklin of Charlie Brown fame. Mrs. HM had finally dozed off around 2:15 a.m., only to be awakened by a spine-rattling cough. This cough resulted in a popping pain through Mrs. HM's right neck/shoulder area, which was already tighter than Dick's hatband, what with the stress of giving the End Of Course tests on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The immediate pain was excruciating. It lingered into the waking hours.

Mrs. HM was discombobulated by the pain. She had to be at school for testing. She drove in pain, she walked in pain, she sat in pain. It was one of those sharp, shooting pains that brings you to the point of nausea. In between sharp, shooting pains was a dull, nagging pain. There were very few positions that would bring a blissful few seconds of non-pain. By 10:00 a.m., Mrs. HM had dosed herself with two ibuprofen. (TWO, Mabel! TWO ibuprofen at once! That's how you know Mrs. HM is hurtin'). The TWO ibuprofen made the sharp pain dull. On the way home, Mrs. HM dragged herself through The Devil's Playground for some mentholated stick-on heating pad kind of thingy. Mabel recommended them highly a while back.

Apparently, Mabel sprung for the good stuff, because those Equate thingies did little or nothing for Mrs. HM. She might as well have stuck a Stay-Free mini-pad to her neck and hoped for it to absorb her pain. A fake vicodin left over from HH's neck surgery in December 2005 did not take away the pain. Nor did an aspirin, nor visualization of a peaceful, special place.

Day Two of the broken neck prompted Mrs. HM to tell her Arch Nemesis, "My neck is broken. Don't touch me, or my head will roll off." Arch Nemesis acquiesced. Mr. Custodian, however, slapped Mrs. HM on the shoulder in the hall during class change, which he NEVER does, in a display of camaraderie over ordering a giant tomato plant from the infomercial. This sent Mrs. HM through the roof, as her TWO ibuprofen had worn off, and the no-name, no-good mini-pad on her neck was not (and never had been) working.

The mother of Mrs. HM braved the Devil to bring her some name brand sticky pad thingies after work. She stuck one on Mrs. HM after sticking around to help with the feeding and watering of HH's farmyard pets. That duty has befallen Mrs. HM over the weekend, due to the boys' trip to the state youth bowling tournament in St. Joseph. Mrs. HM repaid her debt with two fresh eggs, a National Enquirer and a Globe, and seven dollars in cash. The name brand sticky holds the heat, but it does not stick.

A fake vicodin and an aspirin later, Mrs. HM is not nauseous, but is still hurtin' for certain. How can you mend a broken neck? Sing along with the Bee Gees, people.

Please help me mend my broken neck, and let me live again.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

In The Trenches

You know how sometimes, you try to reason with a little kid, explain what is wrong about his behavior, not scold him, just give him a talking-to so he can reason things out in his little noggin? You take 10 minutes, and he nods and agrees, and then the first thing he says when you are done talking is, "Where'd you get them big ol' teeth?"

That's how I felt after giving my students their End Of Course test for Biology.

Let me share with you some of the questions I was asked. Keep in mind that I could not answer any questions about the test itself. I could only pronounce words if asked. Also, I did not know that some students would need a ruler. There was no mention made of rulers. The examiner's booklet only said to provide students with the test, answer sheet, and a #2 pencil that was not mechanical. And it specifically said, "No calculators are permitted." Imagine my surprise when, at various points throughout the test, 4 students raised their hands and asked, "How am I supposed to measure this without a ruler?" I looked at their question. Indeed, it said, "Using a ruler, measure the blankety-blank to the nearest centimeter/millimeter." Each test was different. One measured the nucleus of a cell diagram, one had a salamander, one had a lizard, and the other one I didn't get a good look at, because by then I just held out a ruler. Some had to measure centimeters, some millimeters. Make that 5 students asking for rulers. Here is my favorite disheartening question. All conversations were whispered at my desk or theirs.

A young man approached my desk.
"Can I use a ruler?"
"Does it tell you to measure something?"
"No. It's for a data table."
"You don't need one."
"I want the lines to be straight."
"They might wonder why the lines are so straight if it didn't say to use a ruler."
"Oh, c'mon. I want it to be aesthetically pleasing."

Next young man, returning the ruler I gave him for measuring. A ruler with inches on one edge, and centimeters on the other.
"Can I have a different ruler?"
"It says to measure in millimeters. This is a centimeter ruler."
(Keep in mind, I can not explain or give clues).
"That is the only kind of ruler that I have."
"Well, how am I supposed to measure millimeters?"
"That ruler will do what you need it to do."
"OK, then. I guess I'll just say this."
He went to his desk and hastily wrote a number, then turned in his test.

A young lady raised her hand.
"How am I supposed to draw a multi-line graph if don't have any colored pencils?"
"You will have to work with what you have."
"But I don't understand how I can do it with just a pencil."
"You'll have to do the best you can."
(I could see the wheels turning in her skull).
"What am I supposed to do, use dots?"
"Do the best you can."

A young man called me to his desk. He gestured to his open test booklet.
"How does this look?"
"I can't tell you if it's right or wrong."
"But doesn't it look nice?"
(No comment).

I sure have some big teeth, it seems.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

When I Look Back At All The Crap I Taught In High School

It's a wonder I can teach at all.

Here's how it works in Missouri. You teach a class for eight months, then you give the kids a standardized End Of Course test that takes 90 minutes. That's how long my kids took, anyway. The first day they had 47 multiple choice questions. The second day, they had two science experiments to analyze and discuss the variables and make data tables and graphs. The majority of my students took 90 minutes or less to finish. Optimistically, I would say they would be lucky to get 10 out of those 47 right. The second part would have been easier for them. My students, the techies, are not good at memorization. But they can reason things out.

I don't expect the results to be great, but I expect them to beat the state average. Our school usually does, no matter what grade or subject. It does not affect my job in any way, except that I will put more emphasis on what was asked on this year's test when I teach my new class next year. Not that it matters. Traditionally, the powers that make the test will then put the emphasis on the other stuff next year. This was the first year for this test, after doing away with the MAP testing.

But I do have some bones to pick with the test-makers. I read through a test that would have gone to one of my absentees. I definitely knew 40 of the answers. The other 7 I would have needed to look up. So you can imagine how my techies fared.

The test instructions emphasized that students were being graded on their ability to follow directions, and their science knowledge. It specifically mentioned that students would NOT be graded on their grammar, spelling, or punctuation. looking over the test, and responding to student questions, it became clear that about half of my students did not understand the questions. I was not allowed to explain any test items. All I could do was pronounce a word. No paraphrasing, no explanation, no reading the question out loud. That would invalidate the test. AND require more paperwork.

One kid asked me to pronounce pharmaceutical. As in "A pharmaceutical company conducted a study..." Could they not have said 'drug' instead? So the kids would not get hung up on a big word and skim over the question? Yesterday, a question concerned the turgidity of cells. Our book does not use the word turgidity, but it talks about cells filling with water in a hypotonic solution. Silly Mrs. Hillbilly Mom spent time emphasizing the difference between hypotonic and hypertonic solutions, and concentration gradients, and semipermeable membranes, and osmosis, and passive and active transport. Turgidity. It's not something I would toss out in conversation. My kids probably thought it had something to do with a turd. The other science teacher said she got out the dictionary to look it up for herself.

In my opinion, if you're testing SCIENCE, then word the questions so that kids can show their knowledge (or lack of knowledge) in SCIENCE, not in reading comprehension. Or at the very least, on the list of what skills students will need to score at certain levels, use the word. For example: students will be able to describe the turgidity of cells in terms of hypotonic and hypertonic solutions. There. You know to prepare the students for the meaning of turgidity.

Tomorrow: In The Trenches. Behold my horror at real questions students asked me during the test. It's not for the faint of heart.

In case you go and look it up, we are discussing the scientific definition of turgidity. Here, I'll make it easy for you: Swollen or distended, as from a fluid; bloated.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

O. Henry's Gift Of The Somali

That poor little pirate boy is going to be tried as an adult. Isn't that a shame? The young man who boarded a cargo ship, firing away because his piratey little group had been repelled by water hoses on the last attempt a day earlier, was just playing. Really. It's like Somali cops and robbers. They call it seamen and pirates. And they don't even giggle when they say 'seamen,' because they say it in Somali, not English. Not Austrian, either.

Nobody knows his real age. You can't slice him open like cutting down a tree, just to count the rings. Perhaps a dentist could tell from his teeth. His father is not credible in reporting that Pirate Dude was born in 1993. That's because he doesn't know the birthdates of his other children. Hmm...Pirate Dude must be special if Daddy only remembers HIS birthday.

Do you really think Pirate Dude thought up this stunt on his own, and found a little boat to drive 300 miles out into the open sea, with three of his playmates? Do you? Just on the off chance that they might come across a big ship to steal? Isn't it more likely that this is an organized shakedown of the seas, with a ringleader, a salary, communications equipment, and a ready-made story to tell if caught? I'd bet my gambling money that even our meth-dealing hicks here in Missouri have a prepared biography for each canary to sing.

Can't you live on a goat and $12 a year in Somalia? I'm not trying to be rude, but it seems like resorting to piratehood is a big jump in seeking a way to make a living. Times are tough here in the U.S. How many of our citizens are sailing into international waters in a little washtub, ready to capture a ship and hold it for several million dollars in ransom? None in my circle of acquaintances, as far as I know (to borrow a phrase from My Gal Hillary). OK, a check of actual facts shows that the average annual income is $226. And the life expectancy is 47.

It's kind of an O. Henry story of sorts. In court, Pirate Dude accepted his court-appointed lawyers, saying, "I don't have any money." Oh, the bad luck. Pirate Dude wouldn't have needed money, except that he TRIED TO STEAL A CARGO SHIP and KIDNAPPED A U.S. CITIZEN. Ain't that a big ol' bite of KARMA right to the a$$? He could have been sitting his allegedly 15-year-old a$$ on Daddy's back porch, milking the goat to feed all his brothers and sisters who don't even know their own birthdays, while Daddy was out working at a job that was Not Memorizing Names and Dates. Oh, and if he was lucky, a country like the U.S. would send some food aid to Somalia, and he could have more than goat's milk for sustenance. Wait a minute! Bad luck strikes again! The SHIP HE TRIED TO HIJACK WAS CARRYING FOOD TO SOMALIA! Who is this Pirate Dude, anyway? A Somalian George Costanza?

You do the crime, be ready to do the time. Somebody translate that into Somali. If life is so rough there for Pirate Dude, we'll be doing him a favor if we convict him. He won't need any money for the rest of his life. He will get three hots and a cot. Absolutely FREE! Unless for some reason they send him to Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Baloney Sandwich Tent Prison in Arizona. Pirate Dude will still have a cot, but his three meals will be lukewarm. Come to think of it, that's not a bad idea. He would enjoy the climate there more than the climate of New York.

Oh, well. It's probably more food than he would get in Somalia. At a darn sight more than $12 to support him for a year. Even if you throw in a goat. At least there's only about 30 years to serve on that life sentence.

Monday, April 20, 2009

News Of The Strange

With so much free time on my hands this week, I happened upon some stories in the Strange but True section.

Woman Shot in the Head, Makes Tea
Mississippi-a woman was shot in the head by her husband, but didn't know it. She held a rag to her head, made some tea, and offered it to the officer who responded. Oh, her husband killed himself on the porch after shooting her. So there was a happy ending. No word on whether the cop accepted a beverage from a bleeding, rag-daubing woman with a hole in her head. Guns don't put holes in people's heads...people do.

Teacher Resigns After Taking Students to Strip Club
Ohio-a 47-year-old female teacher resigned after taking four 17- and 18-year-old female students to see a male stripper. But wait! It's OK! She said that their parents gave her permission to take them, see? Not that it makes any difference, but she had previously served as the 8th grade cheerleader coach.

California High School Cheer Coach Fired After Posing for Playboy
California-girls who didn't make the cheerleading team told administrators that the sponsor posed for Playboy. Yes, nude. The school officials said they had no idea, since the computer system they use to screen applicants blocks such sites. Looks like somebody might be getting a new pr0n computer. Thank the Gummi Mary this didn't happen in Texas, where those cheerleader parents KILL anybody who gets in the way of their girls' inalienable right to cheer.

What apparently uncovered the coach was when some girls didn't make the cheerleading squad because they had a few unexcused absences from school. Their parents then made copies of Christine and dropped the pictures on the principal's desk.

Ha, ha! What uncovered the coach! Oh, and the girls had 'a FEW unexcused absences from school' did they? It's not THEIR fault--it's that cheerleading coach's fault.

Florida Students Required to STAND During Pledge of Allegiance
Florida-That's outrageous! Or is it? What's the deal with standing? Are they all infirm? Can they not stand for 30 seconds? They'd better not be taking that drug that Sally Field advertises if they can't stand for 30 seconds. The proposal to NOT require students to stand has been tabled until a May vote. Is it because the school was afraid of the 'dozens of veterans' who showed up at the school board meeting to protest such a change? You know those terroristy veterans. Can't be too careful.

Fake Waiter Accepted Money From Patrons
New Jersey-a man dressed in tan pants, a dark blue shirt, and a yellow tie asked patrons if there was anything else they needed before paying. They said no and paid him. He left and went to another restaurant and did it again. Can't find the original link, but this one will do. Maybe he should re-think this impersonation skill of his, and pretend to be a bank teller. The money would be better.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Rx Laughter

On the daily ride home from school, I share snippets of my day with my muppets. Sometimes I leave out the names to protect the guilty, but I relate some of the outrageous incidents to them. Like the day my thermostat was magically reset four degrees by an errant quarter.

Thursday, I told them that somebody complained of a 3-page paper cut. The #1 son found that to be quite humorous.

Since it was HH's bowling night, it was fast-food night for the kids. The Pony loves him some Papa John's cheese pizza. We picked that up for him, along with a bottle of Sprite, since he is not allowed caffeine. The #1 son wanted Burger King, which is just down the road and on the way home. Last week, they both had Burger King, and The Pony had an Oreo Sundae Shake. He gave me the dregs, which I found quite tasty. I decided to have one for myself.

Have you ever had one of those Oreo Sundae Shakes from Burger King? They give you this ginormous straw thingy that is blue hard plastic, and its wrapper labels it as 'The Pipe.' Finding that a bit strange, I took to calling it the crack pipe. As we were waiting at the stop light to cross into Burger Kingdom, the #1 son and I were talking about how he's going to be in my class next year. He says I am not allowed to talk about him, and I say that I expect him to behave. It's a balancing act. If he doesn't behave, I can tell a story about him, and if I tell a story about him, he will misbehave. Checks and balances. We're a regular O. Henry story waiting to happen.

Anyhoo...he said I wasn't allowed to talk about a certain subject, and I said, "And you WILL NOT mention my crack pipe!" The Pony, sitting behind me, started to splutter Sprite. He choked a bit, though I'm not sure if it came out his nose, or just got sucked into his trachea momentarily.

Which led me to declare: "Apparently, laughter is not always the best medicine."

Friday, April 17, 2009

Inmate Letter, Page 2

In light of recent events, the following items are also being discontinued due to the closing of the Free Store:

f) adhesive strips-no Band-Aids, Curads, Scooby-Doo brand, or any other. Injured parties will just have to let their blood flow. No more free staunching.

g) doorstops-no propping...the doors will slam shut. In or out. It's a favor, really, to those who could not figure out how a doorstop operated. Any time a doorstop is broken in trying to make it work, signs point to removing all doorstops for inmate safety.

h) GermX-no more disinfecting. Germophobes will adapt or die. A booger will remain on the hand until the bell sounds, signaling a new activity.

i) baby wipes-no more soapy cloths with Aloe to clean and sanitize inmate living areas. The filth left behind by one inmate becomes the filth of the next inmate.

j) sentence information-no daily reports of how much time is left on an inmate's sentence. Family will have to look it up online and communicate such information to the inmate.

KARMA Law is now in effect.
Contraband will be confiscated. Consider the recent case of the inmate who, mere days earlier, asked one of the staff, "You don't actually think people tell you the truth, do you?" And the same day, also stated, "Everybody texts in the asylum." What a stroke of fate that the inmate's phone chirped loudly during work detail. Woe is the inmate who is now phoneless. Pity the fool who tried to argue that, "I wasn't doing anything with it. It just went off." Indeed. Staff might have believed such a tale, had not the inmate tipped that all inmates lie to the staff. And that all inmates text in the asylum. KARMA is such a b*tch.

Furniture will be affixed to the floor.
No inmate shall move any item of furniture. That includes sliding, lifting, scooting. Furniture will remain in the fixed maze position. The staff is aware that it impedes inmate movement. That is the reason it is arranged in such a pattern.

No one is wishing you luck in your new endeavor. In fact, staff is snidely watching and waiting for you to fall on your collective faces when your FREE support system is cut off.

There's more than one way to win a battle

Thursday, April 16, 2009

An Open Letter To The Inmates

Congratulations on your recent takeover of the asylum!

Here are a few things to note:

The Free Store is now closed. There will be no more

a) tissues-you can wipe your schnoz on your sleeve

b) pencils-you can take a zero, borrow from a fellow inmate, take the work home to turn in the next day...nobody cares if you fail, because YOU, apparently, don't care

c) calculators-count on your fingers, use pencil and paper if you have it, cypher in your head...the days of stealing, breaking, and carving swastikas into the FREE RENTAL calculators are over

d) trips to the bathroom/drinking fountain-unless you choose to accumulate a tardy for each trip out of the room, kiss your comfort forays goodbye

e) grade checks-the school gives you a code to check this online...tough luck if you don't have a computer and internet service. Give up your fancy schmancy cell phone with unlimited texting, and save up for a computer. Or find out at progress report time, the old-fashioned way.

The Golden Rule is now in effect. If you don't know what that is, look it up on the computer you don't have at home. Or check it in the computer lab instead of listening to music. OR ask an adult who has been raised with a modicum of manners.

*If you make fun of somebody for blowing his nose...don't expect to 'step into the hall' to blow your own nose when you're snotty.

*If you write on the desk...the staff will write on a personal item of yours.

*If you throw a's coming right back at ya.

*If you criticize somebody's clothes...get ready to hear 'what not to wear'.

*If you complain about the will be criticized for complaining.

Custodial services are no longer available. If you stuff paper in a desk, or kick the shoe-mud onto the floor, it will remain there until you clean it up. Likewise with dropped candy, spilled contraband grape soda, and gum stuck in various orifices.Good luck with the rat population explosion.

All credit is hereby terminated. Pay as you go. No lunch money...NO LUNCH. Not even a mercy cheese sandwich. Not even a rubber biscuit. Nada. Zilch. You will work for food.

There will no longer be a staff presence to keep order. Might makes right. Survival of the fittest. If you are a pipsqueak, put a cork in it. Thieves should prepare to lose an extremity. No free prostheses, either.

In the asylum, no one can hear you scream.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Another Day, Another Chicken

HH let his precious chickens out of the pen for exercise this evening. As usual, he let the dogs babysit them. Imagine his surprise when Ann the black shepherd/lab killed one. Allegedly. Ann always ends up with the spoils, as she is our largest animal. It wouldn't surprise me if Tank the beagle was the actual murderer. He's just pissed that he can't get the rabbits out of their hutch. The cuddly, soft rabbits, OH SO CUTE, with twitching noses. Tank sure loves to stand under the hutch and sniff them.

In true HH form, Ann was flogged with the dead chicken, in an effort to make her contemplate the error of her ways. Of course, dogs don't have much of a memory, so Ann is probably thinking right about now, "Mmm...what's that delicious taste on my tongue?"

Farmer H is batting 1.000, having stopped the chickens from laying in a mere four days. Some men have a green thumb, HH has a black thumb. He's the Debbie Downer of animal husbandry. I might as well make a video record of the carnage.

I have a feeling that the title "And Then There Was One" has already been used for a horror film.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Don't Hate Me Because I'm A Woman Of Leisure

This was not a good day for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

6:50 a.m...the #1 son forgot his glasses and had to take my keys and go back into the Mansion, thus delaying our departure time.

7:55 a.m...a student I don't even have came into my room to chat, which is just NOT DONE. I explained that I really had work to get ready by the 8:12 bell, but she laughed like I was kidding, and stayed. Never mind that I was in the middle of writing on the board, and looking for questions to review for the big End Of Course exam coming up next week. She wanted to chat about how everybody is taking my Biology course next year. The course in which I had all the tech kids and some more for a total of 28 students this year. That 28 would be 50 percent of next year's junior class, as they are small in number. It ain't happenin'.

10:25 a.m...a student whacked on my one remaining calculator, which I had deliberately not loaned to HIM, as he is the bad-lying denier artist who drew swastikas on two of my other calculators. I told him to stop, as did all the kids around him, and he said, "It doesn't matter anyway. It's stuck on that one number. All I did was push a button, and it locked up." Indeed. I suspect he hit some function button in error, then tried to reset it with the mechanical pencil I loaned him, which probably broke off a piece of lead in the reset hole, thus the whacking. I'm not as dumb as they want me to be.

10:57 a.m...I was squeezed out at the lunch table by Mr. G. It's not his fault that he had duty and needed to sit where he could see the whole panorama of misbehavior. I blame Mr. S, who takes up a lot of space with his long limbs, and stuck his elbow in my face for 20 minutes like he was rebounding his turkey sandwich on a deli roll.

11:22 a.m...a pitiful kid who is told weekly by other students to 'get a life and stop messing in everyone else's business' took it upon himself to fetch my doorstop and prop open the classroom door. That is like taking something off my desk. STOP IT! The kids don't prop it right. It slowly closes and impedes traffic.

11:50 a.m...a girl asked for a band-aid and wouldn't say why until I told her I needed to see the wound or send her to the office. She came up squeezing her finger, and I told her that she needed to pick the scab off that tiny week-old scratch before any blood would come out. She grabbed a band-aid and tossed it to another girl, who never showed me her wound at all. That's a conspiracy, by cracky! Last year, a sub gave out about 15 of my band-aids. You'd think there was a bloody rampage that day.

1:25 p.m...the custodian commandeered 10 valuable minutes of my plan time, as usual, making me make small talk. If I'm sitting at the computer, with the gradebook program open, punching in grades...I don't have time to chat!

1:50 an email from a parent who's a teacher who asked me to loan her son a book. He lost his three or four weeks ago, and it was like the brotherhood of the traveling science book to hear him and mom tell the tale of which student's car it was in, and how it got left in the van when he got out, and how she put it in the back of her husband's truck, and how the last time he had it was on the baseball bus last week, but somebody took it. She will pay if she has to, but can I loan him one? NO. My policy is to never loan a book. Fool me once, you know. If someone borrows five dollars from you and never pays it back, do you keep loaning him five dollars? I think not. I've found that the only sure way of keeping enough books to go around is by never 'loaning' them. Why should I have to find the right edition and order more books every year because kids are not responsible? the $60 for the lost text, and I will check out another one to you. Because if a kid can't keep track of a book that's checked out to him, why will he keep track of a 'loaner' that is not? Oh, and I doubt that a baseball player took his book. They don't even bring their OWN books to class. I can't imagine picking up an extra one.

3:20 p.m...I got the End Of Course papers ready, which involved cutting and pasting and sending the #1 son to make my copies. He did OK on the first 17 questions, but on the second set, he lost two whole pages and had to do them over after wasting 90 pieces of paper and 30 staples.

4:40 p.m...left school after grading make-up tests and recording scores and getting tomorrow's stuff ready because, HEY, it's Wednesday, which means I have duty before and after school, plus there's an insurance meeting, and no doubt part of my plan time will be taken up by jawing about the weather.

5:10 p.m...had to run in Save-A-Lot because The Pony neglected to tell me he was out of the Breakfast of Champions aka Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies when I did the weekend shopping.

5:45 p.m...arrived home to do a load of laundry and make four different meals for supper. The #1 son did not want anything I had to offer, so made himself some Kraft macaroni & cheese in a pan that I do not use for such, and insisted on putting in SIX cups of water like the box says, even though I just put in half a pan of water in whatever pan I use and it works fine, and thus he had boiling noodle water overspilling into the burner drip pan thingy until HH yelled at him, and #1 said, "Thanks, Mom, for making my supper," which was a bit arrogant of him, as he was eating the salad that I had made him when his noodles overflowed.

6: 50 p.m...sat down to eat my supper and broke off a plastic fork tine while stirring some excellent green beans from my mom's Easter dinner, stirring to distribute the humongous pepper dune that appeared when I sprinkled pepper from the big McCormick plastic container with the red lid because the pepper shaker was conveniently empty, thus necessitating a careful combing of the green beans until the tine was found.

I'm ready to call it a day.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I Will Survive

HH's new ugly chickens produced five eggs today. Along with the three yesterday, they provided us with a scrambled-egg supper. Nothing like living off the land. HH is well on the road to turning into a survivalist, what with his plethora of guns, village of outbuildings, menagerie of eatable pets, gaggle of generators, odd outhouses, and attitude.

HH and the #1 son have tickets to the Blues playoff game on Sunday. The boy ordered them off the internet, and printed them out. I am skeptical about the printout tickets. I made him buy the insurance in case something goes wonky or they can't attend. They got the good tickets in the section with unlimited food and drink.

#1 griped about feeding and watering the livestock today, but he went out three times to pet those cute little bunnies. They were ravenous. HH gave them cat food last night, because the feed store which he guaranteed me was open until 8:00 closed at 6:00, and they locked the doors in his face at 5:58. I would have though chicken feed would be more appropriate for rabbits. Still, they ate the cat food, and the hearts of romaine, and the broccoli and cauliflower and carrots that we gave them this morning. Those are expensive rodents.

The Pony has been the invisible boy today. He entertains himself with books, laptop, TV, and talking to himself. I would think there is something not quite right about him, but then I remember that he is HH's boy.

I really do not want to go back to work tomorrow. But I fear that is the only way to inch along toward the end of the school year.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Farmer H

HH brought home four cute little bunnies from the auction today. It had nothing to do with Easter. He also brought home 11 of the ugliest chickens you ever did see. I want to quarantine them in case they have bird flu.

The bunnies are about half-grown. We have three females (does) and one male (buck). See how well I know my Lagomorpha buddies? The male is white with black spots. The females are mostly white, with some black or gray spots on their ears, and one with kind of a gray stripe thingy down her back. HH bought them in separate cages. He put all the females into one cage for the night, and kept the male separate. I don't know why. His plan is to make lots of little bunnies and sell them at the auction. Or eat them.

The chickens look like Miss Prissy, she of the perpetual pining for her beau Foghorn Leghorn. They are dirty white with floppy red combs, not at all brown and black and speckled and shiny like our two roosters. Wouldn't you know it? HH has been trying to get eggs out of those two roosters for nigh on six months. He buys 11 chickens at the auction, and by the time he drives the ten miles home to the Mansion, he has three eggs rolling around in those cages.

I will not shed a tear if the dogs use those chickens as chew toys when HH lets them out to peck around the yard. I want pretty chickens, by cracky!

The Pony has already become attached to the new livestock. The #1 son is imagining them deep-fried.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Counting The Days

There are 28 days of school left. I'm not doing cartwheels just yet. I still have to get through the End-Of-Course testing with my techies. My physics kids are on autopilot. We have a backlog of Science World issues to scatter amongst the remaining days. Then there are the Core Competencies to make sure everyone has been tested on. We will be switching into the hands-on mode for our Egg Drop and Straw Towers and Hot Wheels Momentum activities.

There still remains plenty of torture before we reach the end. Surprise, surprise, we are switching insurance carriers, so there's a big boring meeting after school Wednesday. Still to come are the Athletic Banquet, Academic Banquet, Spring Concert, and of course, Graduation. We are not required to attend Baccalaureate. I think the Hillbilly family will dodge the Athletic Banquet bullet because it is on the evening that HH and the boys and a crony of #1 are leaving for the state bowling youth tournament.

Before long, HH will be shocking Poolio to shape him up for summer. #1 is practicing basketball out by the garage as I type this. He says the coach told him that 26 players are going to the team camp in Nashville. Oh, and then he will have basketball open gym three days a week through the summer. That won't be as bad as last year, when he begged to attend summer school. I can drop him off at 3:00, and run errands or visit my mom until 5:00. IF she will turn on her air conditioning before September.

I am as bored with this school year as I am with this post.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Tough Love In My Backyard

Thanks so much to my blog buddy, DeadpanAnn, for bringing to my attention the stolen Canadian plane that landed in my backyard. I might never have known, without the rivalry we have to prove whose state has the most embarrassing folks making the news. How could I have spent the day oblivious to the drama passing right over my head? This is too close for comfort. As the crow flies, 51 miles too close for comfort.

So, with that in mind, perhaps you'll understand my chagrin. Oh, I suppose it's all rainbows and gumdrops down in Mississippi, since that little Cessna couldn't carry enough fuel to land there. Thank the Gummi Mary, Miss Ann, that you are even more isolated from foreign wackos than Hillmomba. I guess your biggest worry down there is that pirates might come ashore and hike to your back door.

As the Emperor of Hillmomba (I've explained before that I'm no girly Empress), I decree that any future stolen plane that crosses the Hillmomban border into Hillmomban air space, in which the pilot does not respond to radio transmissions or hand signals of the F-16 escorts, will be summarily shot down over the lake at the border. No pussy-footin' around for us Hillmombans. We are not wishy-washy pantywaists afraid to make the tough decisions. Mess with us, and we will throw the book at you. The book of Hillmomban foreign policy. Live by the plane, die by the plane. Think we're joking? Just try us. That will make the next Cessna bandit think twice before landing on Hillmomba's dirt roads. First you steal a plane, then you won't communicate, then you won't follow aerial instructions...we wash our collective hands of you. You are going down in the first unpopulated area we cross. YOU made the decision by your actions and subsequent inaction. Case closed.

"But Emperor Hillbilly Mom," you say, "That was just some misguided Turkish naturalized Canadian citizen, distraught over his personal problems, wanting to die by police suicide." PUT A FREAKIN' SOCK IN IT! What a coincidence that the person some fools elected to run our country was in Turkey at that very moment. Oh, the irony! A poor wittle emo was just acting out his grief. Yeah, right. There are many easier ways to off yourself in grief than this grand extravaganza. Step in front of a moving car or train or Canadian bus hauling a decapitator. Jump off a building. Shoot yourself--guns are allowed in Canada, right? Take an overdose of sleeping pills. Slit your wrists. Put your head in a gas oven. Rig up a vacuum hose to the tailpipe of your (or any stolen) car. Tie a plastic bag around your head tightly. Hang yourself. Walk into a police station pointing a gun. Lay your head on a railroad track. Drink some antifreeze. Take a long walk on a short pier. Chug a fifth of Canadian Mist. I would write a song for you, but Paul Simon stole my tune for his 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.

You know I'm all about conspiracy theories. This scenario smacks of something sinister. This dude could have just crashed the freakin' plane if he wanted to die so badly. Oh, and when he landed on Missouri soil, the first thing he did was run away! Yeah. That dude was itchin' to die all right. This was a test or a set-up. A test to see how far a little plane could make it into U.S. air space before NORAD dispatched someone to remove it from the radar screen. Permanently. Or a test to see how big someone's balls are. The someOne who is running the country. Because that's the first person consulted, you know. And then the Secretary of Defense. And then a NORAD committee. So we KNOW that the order was given NOT to shoot down this rogue bipolar planejacker.

Oh, and our fine Missouri State Trooper took the dude at his word. Yep. We always believe what the criminals tell us right after they are caught. We don't know no better, down here in the land of dirt roads used as runways, where folks pick up any Turkish-Canadian hitchhiker who has just landed a stolen plane on the road, and drop him off at a convenience store for a Gatorade.

Tough love, baby, tough love. That's what the world has just too little of. Except in Hillmomba. If we have to kill you to teach you to follow the rules, we WILL, by cracky!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Two Down, Seven To Go

Our chickens must have nine lives. HH lets them out every evening to peck around the yard. HH does not supervise them. The three dogs who killed the first two chickens lay on the porch and watch them. That, in my opinion, is asking for trouble. Asking for Chicken Massacre II, The Sequel. But HH says they'll be fine.

Last night, HH forgot about the chickens while he went to town to pick up the #1 son from church practice for Friday night's Easter program. They didn't get home until after 9:00 p.m. HH sent #1 to make sure the little peckers were put up. He leaves the door to their renovated dog pen open, and they go back in when they're ready to roost. Or so says HH.

The #1 son reported that the chickens were hanging around outside the pen. INSIDE the pen were Ann the black shepherd and Grizzly the beagle/lab mix, munching away on the pan of chicken feed. INSIDE the roost, or the "chicken box," as #1 called it, was Genius the orange-striped cat. Talk about laying in ambush! #1 shooed the pets out of the chicken pen so the chickens could come in.

I think this little scenario is nature's foreshadowing. I also think the #1 son needs to pay more attention to the care and feeding of chickens than the eating of chicken. The "chicken box," indeed. That's how you buy an eight-piece with mashed potatoes and slaw.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Man Sticks It To HM Once Again


I don't know how I go on. I really don't. There's just one conspiracy after another, all with the common goal of sticking it to Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Each morning I awake to the Dorothy Parkeresque thought, "What fresh h*ll is this?" At least Dottie had the comfort of drink.

Monday, HH had to pick up some medicine at the pharmacy. I had my next-to-last First Monday faculty meeting, so HH agreed to pick up two refills I had called in. HH had his own fresh h*ll when the clerk refused to sell him his new medicine. She said the doctor had to call the insurance company. HH said he would deal with that at his next appointment, but that he needed the medicine, and he would pay cash. She didn't want to do that, but HH insisted. It cost him $58 instead of the $40 it would have cost with insurance. Or, if we were laying about eating bon bons all day instead of working, it would have been free.

HH came home with both refills, but said that at first, the clerk couldn't find The Pony's Loratadine . That's generic Claritin. HH insisted it was there, so the clerk rummaged around the drawer again and found it. HH paid for it separately, because she had already rung up the rest, after the flapdoodle about the insurance.

I looked at the packages to make sure it was the right medicines. My eyes bugged out of my head like Tom when Jerry squeezes him in a vice. "Why did you pay $29.85? It's generic! It's never that much. Didn't she use the insurance?" HH said he didn't know. She might have been confused about the other insurance malarky.

So, I did what I should have done in the first place, which was to go head to head with the pharmacy myself. It was 5:45. They close at 6:00. I called them. "My husband just picked up some Loratadine for our son. Did that not get run through the insurance?" She cut me off before I could even finish my thought. "That would not have gone through insurance, because it's a generic." Then she got all the confidential information so she could look it up. "Oh. It shouldn't cost that much. It's only $4.00." I told her I would stop by the next day for a refund. Which I did, and they had it all ready, too, sealed up in their little druggie grocery sack, alphabetized with the medicine.

Come to think of it...I should have opened it up to count it right there.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Our Homies

Every now and then, we inherit some home-schooled kids. That's not really a good explanation. Many of them are recidivists. That is, they used to go to school here, and their parents pulled them out to home-school them, then got tired of it and brought them back. There are few regulations in Missouri. Surprise, surprise. There is no home-school inspector, no exam to pass, no curriculum.

These kids run the gamut from well-informed and polite to unruly and years-behind grade level. The current crop is likeable enough, though they have a tendency to march to their own drummer.

A couple months ago, I was talking to a crony, ScienceFairPrincess, in the hall after school. One of the H-S boys came up and inserted himself into the conversation. He's a freshman, and in my class, not SFP's. She calls him Tweedle Dum or Tweedle Dee, as the mood strikes her, because there are two of them just alike. As we talked, he fixed his gaze on her necklace, a gold medallion of some type, about the size of a sand dollar. Or, I should say, he fixed his gaze in the vicinity of her medallion. "What kind of necklace is that?" he asked. "The kind you WEAR," said SFP. He continued to comment on it, until I said, "OK, we were talking. You need to move on." He went down the hall (not toward the parking lot) to talk to a different teacher.

SFP huffed. "I don't know why these home-school freaks always single me out! Hasn't he ever seen a necklace before?" She turned to glare at the back of his head. "You don't really think he was looking at the necklace, do you?" I asked. She said, "No. But I was hoping that was all it was." She hiked her shirt up a little higher at the neckline.

Today, I had another story for her. I caught her in the hall between classes. She makes a trip to the faculty bathroom every hour. Yesterday I barely saw her. I thought she had taken to wearing Depends. But that's beside the point. "Hey, guess what happened to me a little while ago. I was standing right here in the hall, watching for runners like a small-town cop with a quota, and I heard a commotion in my room. I went in, and there was Dee or Dum, I don't know which, carrying a desk up over his head, a desk that he had swapped for his. It was two rows away. He just thought that was perfectly permissible. I wanted to say, 'You home-school freaks may redecorate your living room in the middle of class whenever you feel like it...but here, you have to have permission to move the furniture!' And he acted like I was the one who was wrong. Got downright pouty when I told him THREE TIMES to move it back. He wanted to try his case right then and there, forget about having class, and obviously not clued in to the fact that I am judge, jury, and executioner."

SFP couldn't believe it. "I'm glad I don't have him." Heh, heh. Then she remembered that she will have him next year.

She'd better leave the jewelry at home.

Monday, April 6, 2009

You Can Lead A Hick To Food, But You Can't Make Him Pay

Please tell me I have the wrong information. I could swear that I just read that the United States donated $50,000 to Italy after the earthquake this morning. What are we, the freakin' Cheapa$$es of the World? Fifty thousand dollars? Don't we donate more than that for other countries to abort babies? Really.

I know the Prime Minister Gordon Brown gift of 25 DVDs of classic American movies, and the gifts to his sons of one model of Marine One per boy you say...thrifty. Economical, even. But not quite befitting such a special relationship as the U.S. has maintained with Great Britain. Until now. The Queen's iPod and coffee table book of showtunes didn't set us back all that much financially. But perhaps it exacted a greater toll on the turnpike of public opinion.

Now we donate $50,000 in the aftermath of an earthquake in which 100 people were killed? Is that what the going rate is these days? Five hundred dollars a head?

This whole cheapa$$ business makes my head hurt. It reminds me of another time when we were called cheapa$$es. Not 'we' as in American citizens. I mean 'we' as in my senior class. It was a different world back then. The hicks didn't get out of the country much. And by 'country', I don't mean the U.S. By 'country', I mean the backroads and the hollers of Hillmomba.

There were 173 students in my graduating class. Most of them went on the Senior Trip. We had worked at selling magazines for four years to foot the bill for this excursion. I was a magazine captain, FYI. That meant that I got to miss 2nd period to sit in the Student Lounge with the other magazine captains and count up money and subscriptions. Ah, yes. It was a different day and time. Kids could even take their lunch trays to the Student Lounge. It was totally unsupervised. And kids could SMOKE in there. Not secretly. It was permitted. And there were soda machines. It was a regular den of iniquity. But I digress.

We chartered three Greyhound buses for the Senior Trip. Our adventure took us out of Missouri, through Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia, to Florida and Daytona Beach and Disney World. Along the way, we had to visit historical sites, such as the Cyclorama, and the Space Center at Huntsville, and numerous Civil War battlegrounds, and the fort at St. Augustine. That's how I remember it, anyway.

I had the coolest sponsors on my bus. They let us put shaving cream in the open mouths of the sleepers. But that's beside the point. I am meandering my way to a southern cafeteria somewhere in Alabama or Georgia. We hicks didn't know nothin' about cafeterias. The only one we knew of was the school cafeteria, which was very different.

The minute we entered the cafeteria, we were swarmed by workers wanting to carry our trays. Being strong country boys and girls with two good arms and two good legs, we all said, "That's OK. I can get it." And we proceeded to get our own stuff and carry it to our tables, and clean up when we were done. That's how we were raised. Imagine our surprise upon leaving, to hear the workers hissing, "Cheapa$$ Hillmomba!" It was doubly surprising to us, because calling somebody a 'cheapa$$' is terribly bad manners, and because the thought never entered our mind that we would be expected to PAY somebody a TIP for doing absolutely nothing for us.

Which just goes to show that you can take a hick out of Hillmomba, but you can't take a tip out of a hick.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

To Camp, Or Not To Camp

The #1 son wants to attend basketball camp in Tennessee in June. The Newmentia team went last year, and the head coach said that this year, they are inviting the JV team to go along. I don't know if there aren't enough varsity, or if there are more coaches going, or what the deal is.

I have mixed feelings about sending my boy out from under my wing. The apron stings won't stretch that far. Who will tell him to "Breathe in. Breath out. Repeat." On the other hand, if he ever wants a shot at playing basketball, he needs to go. It is $160, which is pretty cheap for four days and three nights and 12 meals and activities from 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. and 10 regulation games. Players stay in the dorms. He will have to find his own way there. That means he will have to ride with someone else's parent, or one of the coaches. HH will take some vacation days and drive him as a last resort. I said we could all go and make it a vacation. It's in NASHVILLE, by cracky! But #1 does not want me to go. Even though he would be dropped off Wednesday evening, and picked up at noon on Saturday, while HH, The Pony and I go to the Grand Old Opry or something, he has some issue with me going.

Another issue is the fact that it's a team camp. I don't know which coaches are going. There's the one that #1 is picked on by, though he's a girls' coach, so may not be attending. If #1's coach from this year goes, he would just play the same kids he played all season. My boy can sit the bench here in Missouri. He does not need to pay $160 and travel to Tennessee for that. Anybody else would probably mix it up and play kids in a different combination. There are six from #1's team who say they are definitely going. Of course, it depends on how many of the older boys go, too. The registration form says a school can take two JV teams. That means each kid would get more playing time.

#1 is all fired up. He's never been to any kind of sleep-away camp. He's barely spent the night anywhere without HH or me, except for a few sleepovers with his cronies. He found out about the camp in gym last week. They were playing basketball, and the high school coach walked through to ask if he could talk to the players about camp. As he went by #1, he said, "You should go with us, Hillbilly." I don't know if he was just being nice, if he needs more kids to go, if he remembers from teaching #1 a couple years ago that he's a good kid who stays out of trouble, or if he sees a sturdy 6' 1" 8th-grade body that he thinks he can mold into a passable player. As our custodian says at least once a week during basketball season: "You can't teach height."

We have a week to decide if he's going. Right now, it looks like he is.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Teachers Behaving Badly

This is just the recent stuff that's stuck in my craw. There's not a blog big enough to hold it all. My cronies have gone off the deep end. Some are still bobbing, awaiting the lobbing of a life jacket or rescue ring. Others are in an all-out race toward the horizon, the dock a dot in the distance if they even bother to look back.

We begin our tale with a mini-tyrant who torments those students who won't fight back. Perhaps you've heard of him before, he of the bending of #1's arm behind his back, accusing #1 of stealing his own gym clothes out of a locked locker, telling #1 that he can't wait until the day after a game to tell him all the mistakes he made, etc. A prince among faculty, our Tyrant. Friday, he walked about the lunchroom, handing out forms for his upcoming intramural basketball league before school to garner hours for career ladder. He set one down in front of every kid at #1's table. Except #1. He went on to hand one out to every kid at other tables, even kids who didn't play basketball. All this, just to put a bee in #1's bonnet, trying to provoke him, no doubt. #1 let it slide. Until he got off the bus at Newmentia. It was the first thing he spoke about. I asked if he wanted me to call Basementia about it. "No. I wouldn't play anyway, because HE is running it. But he did that on purpose, not giving me one." I'm sure he did. It's all I can do to keep HH from getting involved. I had to remind him that The Pony has three years to go in Basementia, starting next year. One of these days, Tyrant is going to mess with the wrong kid, and somebody's daddy will be waiting in the parking lot to knock his block off. That's the way we do things in Hillmomba. I would never do it. But I understand.

Second in our little reportage a trois, Mrs. NotACook accosted me first thing Friday morning and, grinning like Obama on a European campaign for popularity, said, "I hear science fair was a big mess." Why people want to always look for the worst, I'll never know (actually, yes I do, but it's political, and not work-related). And since I was AHEM one of the two people from our building in charge of science fair, why would she say that to ME? She might as well say, "I hear you're an incompetent nincompoop," for all the good will she is spreading. I told her that a few kids who decided to show up having not even entered the science fair and thus were sent back to school yet didn't return kind of made a mockery of the process. She grinned and nodded. Then she mentioned something about not taking a bus, which was the Principal's decision, not ours. We didn't take a bus last year, and everything went like clockwork, and in fact, praises were heaped upon us for bringing home places for each and every entry. Now a few bad apples try to spoil the bunch, and we are a laughingstock? Anyhoo...after 1st hour, I asked Mrs. NotACook who her source was. She didn't want to tell, but then said, "Toiletbreakerprivatepartexposer." Um, yeah. The kid who didn't come back to school, and thus received ISS for truancy. Yeah. That's a good source from which to draw a conclusion. And when did she talk to him anyway, since he never returned to school. Must have been that morning, just before or just after his truancy sentencing.

The final episode in our terrorizing-teacher trilogy was related to me by my buddy Mabel, as it occurred at her end of Newmentia. Seems MathCrony has a student who became ill and regurgitated in the classroom. This student, having a documented medical condition, was escorted to the office by MathCrony, a right good egg who was genuinely concerned about the girl's welfare. The next day, a certain lunch-inquiring relative of mine who has a room down at that end of the hall made a big ol' vomit bucket and took it into MathCrony's room and paraded about, making a big joke of MathCrony not instructing her students in the proper hurling method. MathCrony was mortified, and her class was riled up, because the sister of the unfortunate regurgitator is in their grade, and kids at this school are a tight-knit group. I've yet to hear what consequences may result.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Special Friday Edition Of Random Thought Thursday

That California nut plant has been busy churning out salmonella. North Korea is going to nuke us (but at least they'll take out that nut plant). Marriage in Iowa is no longer limited to one man and one woman. Rocket fuel has been found in baby formula. Blagojevich is indicted on federal corruption charges. Looks like it's time for Billy Joel to write another 'We Didn't Start the Fire' song. If he can stop driving drunk long enough.

Students can be so demanding. I told them I was going to treat them the way they treat me. This was after I turned the desks 90 degrees counterclockwise so they could see my TV screen as I celebrated Science Fair by showing an old Junkyard Wars involving a glider. That's a lesson on LIFT, you know. The force that keeps an airplane (or glider) aloft. Who knew that these whiners would want to sit facing the front and crane their heads 90 degrees to watch. When one entered my lair and said, "What IDIOT turned all the chairs around?" I countered with, "What IDIOT shows no respect and thus deserves none in return?" One rude rhetorical question deserves another. I emphasized that they will get what they give. An attention-seeking lad said I was rude because I told them they needed to shut their mouths while I read the announcements. This was after telling them to 'be quiet' three times. Apparently, they did not understand that expression, so I told them exactly what to do. I obliged him by pointing out his rude episodes throughout the year and chuckling his little chuckle that he gives when he tries to dismiss someone as his hopeless inferior. I finished making my point by telling them to put all books in their desks, and put their hands on the desktops. No sleeping, no reading, no other homework, no spitwadding, no moving to sit by a buddy. Only pure, unadulterated TV-watching. Oh, and I told them the TV buzzes when somebody gets a text or a call. They did not like that one little bit. One young lass had the nerve to ask, "Are you kidding me?"

I might turn on the TV to blue screen every day, just to hear those phones. It is ONNN!

Perhaps you remember that PEOPLE PISS ME OFF. There is a growing list of cronies who are chompin' for a stompin'. They deserve their own post.

Did you know that Papa John's at The Devil's Playground in Hillmomba has a special this week of one large cheese pizza for $6.99? Me neither. Not until I called in a small cheese pizza for The Pony to the tune of $6.99, and walked in to pick it up and saw the little blackboard with the special.

Sneaker, the thermostat-molesting child who told me I had to drive her home from the Science Fair, was calm as a sun-warmed kitten today. See? That tough-love really works. Though by no way, shape, or form is this meant to imply any shade of fondness for her. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me for the 277th time with your ol' bad bipolar self, and shame on me.

If you don't get home from work until 6:30 on a Friday, due to staying to grade papers (because you were gone to the Science Fair yesterday and had a man substitute and they never grade the papers like a woman substitute will do, because women are givers and men are takers), update GradeBook, stop by your mom's house for a videotape of the finale of ER (because Thursday is your night to watch Survivor with The Pony), put your check in the bank, and pick up a few items at The Devil's Playground, your knees will hurt really, really bad (so bad that you don't care that you should really have used the word 'badly'), you will hear that left-over bottle of fake Vicodin from 2005 calling to you from the back of the medicine cabinet. If you take out one of those fake Vicodin, and crack it in half so it's not so much like a horse pill, and swallow it down with a cup of water, chased by a real Coca Cola, as you are cooking your supper, you will rethink that decision because it has been 8 hours since your lunch at 10:38 this morning, and some food in your stomach might have made you a little less woozy.

The baseball coach must be as fed up with these kids as I am. The team had a game today, and got out of school at 1:45. Coach called for them to meet him in the cafeteria. My room is not far away, and I heard his speech. When it was over, a bunch of them didn't get to go to the game. Coach had checked grades, and told them that if they had two or more Fs right now, they couldn't go. They needed to stay in school and work on bringing those grades up. Too bad, so sad. Karma is a b*tch.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Fair-y Tale

It was a long day at the junior college Science Fair today. I usually enjoy it. We took a lot more kids this year. It was quite different from last year, when we only took 11, and every single one of them placed in their categories.

My boy did not win Best of Fair (he never has)
My boy did not get 1st Place (like he did for both previous years)
My boy did not get 2nd Place
My boy did not get 3rd Place
My boy tied for Honorable Mention in the Engineering category.
I am proud of him.

The other kids, not so much. I don't mind that they don't place. I mind that they don't follow the rules. The other science teacher had it worse than me. Two kids showed up who never submitted to her the necessary paperwork to enter the Science Fair. Just showed up, with a project. Another showed up, but his partner and the project didn't. The teacher sent them back to school. One of them, she had to DRIVE back to school. Oh, and two others that were sent back never showed up at school. Then a bunch of whiners started asking her if they could leave.

Keep in mind that we sent home letters, and told these kids that they would be sitting around all day until the awards at 3:00. They knew. Yet at 2:00, they started asking to leave. Almost all of her students left. They are the drivers. My freshmen and don't-have-a-car kids rode the bus, and knew they weren't leaving. Oh, but a couple whose parent drove went to lunch an hour early, and then left before the awards. Pity. They won 2nd place. That's a money position. Last year it was $25. Too bad, so sad. I did not pick up their ribbon. That means they did not fill out the paperwork to get their monetary reward. I did not have an address to furnish for the mailing of their check. The Science Fair sponsor looked at me funny. I told her, "We expect them to honor their obligations. They left. They don't deserve the prize money. It is their own fault that there is no address to mail them the check. We don't think they deserve it."

Do you think that is cruel? I think it is teaching them a life lesson.

Oh, and at 2:00, a girl said I was going to have to give her a ride home. She said her dad had to work, and her mom couldn't pick her up, and that her dad wouldn't even give her money for lunch, and a Basementia sponsor had to loan her money to eat, and her dad said that the school would just have to give her a ride home. I asked her, in a not very nice way, why she came, knowing she had no ride and no money, and why she was just now telling me. I told her that if I had to, I would give her a ride, because otherwise I would have to sit at school with her all night if she didn't get picked up. And as a parting shot, I told her that I was NOT her parent.

After that little exchange, I had to walk off, because my blood was boiling so much that it was in danger of thawing my cold, cold heart. We can't have that! My point is that earlier in the week she said something about not being able to get a ride, and I told her that I guessed she just couldn't go. And if your dad tells you that he's not giving you money for Subway, for cryin' out loud, bring a gosh-darn sandwich! The world does not owe you a chauffeur and a $5 foot-long. Snap out of it! Oh, and in case it explains my bad behavior any further, this is the family of five who all came to our school science fair and ate two dozen Devil's Playground iced St. Patrick's Day cookies and drank a gallon of fruit punch that was provided for the competitors.

I called school after I lowered my blood under the boiling point, to see if I would be in any legal trouble for driving a student in my personal vehicle. What a coincidence! The secretary said, "That little girl's grandma just called and I told her the bus was getting back at 3:45. So she has a ride.Don't you worry about it." I explained that the bus was going to Basementia, not Newmentia, which the secretary said the grandma didn't know. I told her that it was all in the letter we sent home, and the secretary said, "Well, I'm not going to worry about it. She knew and didn't tell her family, and that's HER fault, and I'm not calling the grandma back to tell her! These kids need to get it together!" Precisely.

You know what? That kid got off the bus and went straight into a car that was parked and waiting. Amazing what a little tough love can accomplish.

Oh, and on a side note, we had 10 students place this year, in 15 categories.

1st Place-1
2nd Place-1
3rd Place-2
Honorable Mention-5

Not too shabby, considering we're a small school. The Science Fair is NOT divided into Class 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, like sports. We run with the big dogs.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Tale of Three Salads

Perhaps you didn't know that when Mrs. Hillbilly Mom arrives home from a full day of school and two hours of work in her room after school, she prepares the evening meal for all the Hillbillies. Which is easier said than done, because HH has of late incurred some dietary restrictions, and those little Hillbillies can never agree on anything, and Mrs. HM comes last and takes what she can find in the freezer.

After slaving all day at Anarchy Central, I set out to make three different meals, which included three different salads. The Pony will not partake of the green leafy 'vinchtables', so he got none. It started with some hearts of romaine. HH and the #1 son got the green end, and I took the yellowish hearts. That's because I like a good crunch, and the men say that part is bitter. HH had a salad with big hunks of broccoli and whole cherry tomatoes that come from The Devil's Playground on a stem thingy in a little red net. The tomatoes of #1 were cut up, and his broccoli was ripped into smaller florets. I had no broccoli, only tomatoes and the yellow hearts. #1 got some shredded cheddar cheese, I had some shredded mozzarella cheese, and HH had a few tiny sprinkles of both.

Fifty-five minutes elapsed before the meal was ready. HH and #1 were outside playing with the chickens and down at the new creek barn until it was ready. When they came in, I specifically told HH, "The salad with the broccoli and very little cheese is yours. I even set #1's salad at his chair, and set mine way over by the sink. HH's salad was right there by where he was dishing up his plate.

I momentarily left the kitchen to answer a call of nature. When I came back to the kitchen, HH was seated at the table with MY salad. He had poured dressing on it. Do you know what a crushing blow this is, having worked your fingers to the bone, looking forward to your hearts and tomato and mozzarella salad, only to find a broccoli and leafy romaine and whole tomato salad in its place? Is HH the 'Cinderblock' of yesterday's post? What does it take for me to get some respect around this house?

Oh, and to kick me while I was down, HH took the #1 son on a secret ice cream excursion right after supper. It was not secret so much as it was mentioned to everyone else except for me. The Pony declined the invite. HH never, not once, said anything about where they were going. The boys told me.

So I was thinking that maybe HH would bring me back a little something, what with dousing MY salad with dressing, rendering it limp and lifeless by the time I got around to eating it. A little something, seeing as how every time we go eat after school on our bill-paying trip to another town, we make sure to bring HH some carry-out from wherever we go. Yes. I thought HH might bring me a little something. A little something like a cup of chocolate ice cream as a peace offering.

NOPE! Not a word was uttered about the secret trip.

Cry a single garbage Indian tear for me as a gesture of solidarity.