Friday, July 31, 2009

Hillbilly Mom Is Ready To Rumble

The boys and I went to see Aliens in the Attic this afternoon, with my mom and niece. We got there 50 minutes early to get our preferred seats, the back row on the right side. Since there are only four seats in the side rows, #1 and Niece sat in front of The Pony, Mom, and me. We were the only people in that theater, so we had a family reunion type of conversation. With about 30 minutes remaining until show time, a lady and two kids came in and sat in the center row across from #1. Mind you, the whole rest of the freakin' theater was available for seating, yet they chose to sit in the row across from us.

#1 and Niece got their snacks. We continued to talk. The Pony and I went to get snacks, and passed that other-row woman on her way to the concession stand as we came back. We continued to talk. The movie had not started. A smattering of other viewers, perhaps 15 total, had trickled in and parsed themselves about the theater. Five minutes later, the before-previews junk started. It was a very loud video with that Andrew WK who now hosts the Destroy Build Destroy show on Cartoon Network. The sound was way too loud in our theater. Which made it very difficult for us to continue our conversation. Yes. We are THOSE people who talk in a movie theater. BUT, in our defense, it was only during the pre-previews.

That hag across the row from us turned and said, "Can we hear this, please?" And it was not a polite request, but rather, one dripping with sarcasm. Now don't think for one instant that this witch was interesting in hearing Andrew WK and his excessively loud discordant chords. No. Hagatha was just humping our collective legs like an overly aggressive pooch to assert her dominance. And because I have my panties in a wad with the nerve of her calling us out on our movie-talking, I am going to describe her further, in a most unflattering light. She had stringy gray hair that hung past her shoulders, a gray that most self-respecting women would color, not that pretty silvery gray-white of sweet old grandmas or Maggie Griffin, Kathy's mom. Because she was not that aged, our Hagatha, perhaps in the 40s range, but with hair that made her look 20 years older. Her girth might have kept her out of a roller coaster at Six Flags, but still allowed her to fit into the movie seats. She had a little round daughter beside her, perhaps nine years old, feeding from the feed bucket of a large popcorn tub, and a smaller, younger daughter taking up the entire middle row in front of her. Because your know how people are, they don't generally want to sit in a row that has a person in it already, because it only leads to toe-stomping and butts-in-the-face during restroom and snack bar excursions.

Not for one instant did I think that Hagatha wanted to hear that unlovely melody blasting from the speakers at top volume. In fact, the wonder of it all was that she heard us talking over the din. After her rhetorical question, we all looked at each other in that silent moment that comes before a stifled group outburst of hysterical silent laughter. The #1 son said, "We should ask her, 'What? You can't hear this? Maybe you should turn up your hearing aid.' " Niece suggested that we go out and ask the ushers to turn down the volume in our theater. I didn't think either one was a very good idea, though they were quite humorous. Just to show Hagatha who was boss, we finished the topic we had been jawing about, then stopped for a few moments to see what the next pre-preview would be. Round daughter climbed over Hagatha with the empty popcorn tub and went for a refill. I glared at her for good measure. She returned shortly with another heaping tub of buttery goodness. Smalls in the other row only had a child add-on bag of popcorn.

Then the actual previews started. The lights went down. An usher closed the door just as #1 was getting up to do so. Right after a preview of Shorts, in that golden time when the screen goes black just before the next preview, and all is silent, Smalls turned around to Hagatha and declared out loud, "I WANT TO SEE THAT MOVIE!" Heh, heh. Never let a smart-a$$ opportunity go to waste! Wait for it, people, wait for it...

"I'd like to hear this movie!" Ha ha ha ha ha! I crack myself up. Touche' for me, myself, and I. Do you think I made my point to Hagatha?

I'd like to think so.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Sprint For Speed

On the quest for the elusive high-speed internet connection, our travels led us to a stranger's driveway. How we have fallen, after being chastised by Buttmunch, Inc.

Since the A T & T laptop connect card debacle, the #1 son immediately set his sights on alternative connect cards. Remembering how his church choir director gloated over his new iPhone, and that he had gloated in the same way about his Sprint 3G connect card thingy, #1 put in a hotline call to the dude. His goal: to see if CCD would loan us the Sprint dealybobber to see if it would work at our house. CCD sang the praises of Sprint once again, and agreed to meet us to hand off that speed-in-a-flash-drive format. Since he was tuning a piano the next day, and it was halfway between our homes, he gave out the address of the piano and told us to find it and meet him at noon. Now you know where this is headed.

#1 googled the address. We arrived at 11:58. We drove down a beautiful concrete driveway, past a well-manicured lawn of about six acres, to an L-shaped concrete area by the garage. A woman came out the house door into the garage, and waved. I waved back as I parked in her driveway, careful not to get too close to the house, and more careful not to turn my tires without them rolling so as not to leave unsightly black marks on that immaculate concrete. I told #1 to call CCD and let him know that we had arrived, and see how close he was.

Well now. CCD said, "Oh, I'm running a little behind. It took longer to string those wires on that piano than I expected, and I still have to swing by home and pick up the Sprint card, so I will be about 15 minutes late." Knowing what I know about the geography of this region, it was apparent that it would be at least 30 minutes until CCD got to our current location. I asked if he wanted us to relay this information to his client. "Oh, no. I didn't even tell her that you were meeting me there." Great. Now a very nice lady expecting a piano tuner had a stalker in her driveway. I asked CCD if we could meet him somewhere else, and he agreed to a frozen custard establishment in the town of the A T & T store. That was fine with me, since we were headed there anyway to fork over that piece of crap connect card. I made #1 get out and knock on the door to tell the lady why we were in her driveway, and that her tuner was running late. Because that's the kind of gal I am. I would go nuts if someone sat in a car in my driveway for 30 minutes. She might have called the police, and then where would I be? At a beer blast at the White House, with Nanny HH watching the kids.

We left the stranger's house and drove to the frozen custard parking lot, where we waited a good 15 minutes for CCD. He handed over the Sprint card and its installation CD and said #1 could have it until 7:00, and drop it off at church choir practice. #1 was all excited about a new gadget to experiment with, though he had to wait until we actually got home, because his traveling laptop runs Windows 7, which is not really out yet, and the installation wouldn't work on it. He tried it on some MAC program that he had downloaded, but had no luck. At home, he had that Sprint card running in a flash, at an amazing speed, and linked all of our computers through the wireless network that he set up way back when he was 10.

We are SO getting one of those Sprint cards!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bill Kurtis Needs A Black Eye

Remember my coniptions over my crappy limited unlimited dial-up service from ButtMunch, Inc.? Yesterday, we tried to remedy that problem with a visit to the local A T & T store. My technology consultant, the #1 son, researched our options, and we found out that DSL is not available in our area through DISH Network, that we can't get Hughesnet, that there is no cable out here in the hinterlands, (though there probably is at the prison), and that we are pretty much screwed where high-speed is concerned. Thus, the A T & T visit.

I despise that A T & T store as much as The Devil's Playground. There is a different salesperson every time, they don't know what they're doing, they're slow, and they're kind of rude. Other than that, I guess they're OK. We drove all the way there yesterday, a 30-mile round trip for me, only to be told that since I did not open the account, I could not add a line and get that laptop connect card. Even though I was added to that account when #1 upgraded his iPhone, and all I had to do was give the salesgirl HH's SS#. Even though you can call A T & T customer service and do whatever you want if you give the right SS#. So we had to drive all the way home, and HH had to drive over there after work to do what I could have done while I was there. Plus, the salesgirl argued with #1 when he told his dad he could have all our computers hooked up to it. She must not understand local networking.

Now, about that A T & T laptop connect card... I could not find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, I did not see Amelia Earhart's plane, and the abominable snowman did not come out to frolic with me. Michael Phelps would have been on his second lap around the world's oceans while I was drowning. Andy Roddick would have broken a tennis racket over my head. And Floyd 'Bunny' Mayweather would have knocked me out in the first round. That laptop connect card is a piece of crap. The salesgirl that afternoon had told me, "The speed right now is about like dial-up, but when we get 3G down here at the end of the year, it will be faster." First of all, they've been stringing us along on that 3G promise since last year at this time with the iPhone. Second of all, I already have dial-up speed, so what could it hurt?

Au contraire. What she must have meant to say was that the laptop connect card was not even dial-up speed. #1 ran some kind of speed check thingy that I don't understand, and his iPhone, even without 3G, gets 200 of something, and my dial-up gets 24.5, and that piece of crap connect card got 11. I don't know what units that is in. I don't understand this newfangled technology. Give me an old crank phone and an operator at a switchboard, and I'm good to go.

The good news is that #1 called customer service this morning, and they said to take it back to the corporate store, where they would void the 2-year contract, refund the cost of the laptop connect card, and they should not charge us the $36 restocking fee, because we had it less than 3 days of that free 30-day trial period. Oh, and he also told #1 to just say that it didn't work in our area.

Good news is, after another 30-mile trip, and a 20-minute wait, they did just that! I know. I can barely believe it myself. The manager was on the prowl greeting customers as they entered, and a couple hours later we got a phone survey about our service. Funny, that coincidence.

We have a Sprint adventure to share with you tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ButtMunch, Inc.

I am having internet issues. My provider is a buttmunch. I have had the same provider for 10 years. Seriously. It was a little local company, then it got bought out by a bigger company, and for the last 2-3 years it has been ButtMunch, Inc.

They first made me mad when they took away my old email system. Oh, I could still use the same email address, but I had to go through a big honkin' rigamarole to open it. It's as bad as that monstrosity we use at school. Dial-up is not their friend.

The second time they made me mad was when they did not email my statement. It is done quarterly, on the 16th of the month. I was watching and watching and it never came. Don't think I had the address or phone number. That stuff was conveniently left off their website. The only number I had was for things gone wrong. Which I had written down, because things often went wrong, and you can't look it up when you don't have internet. But hey, I'm a loyal customer. Though I did get a bit perturbed when they didn't bill me, and then cut off my service, which made me call the things gone wrong number, where a dude said I hadn't paid my bill, so I said, "I'm paying it now, here's my credit card number, and he hooked me right back up.

But then they went and made me mad again the next quarter, because they automatically deducted my payment from my credit card, which made me again call the things gone wrong number, who gave me the regular number, which only worked M-F from 8:00 to 5:00, where I called after the weekend and read them the riot act and told them in no uncertain terms to remove my credit card number, that I was to be billed by email, which I had emphasized at the time I gave that credit card number for one time only, and that I would pay by check IF I WAS BILLED.

The fourth time they made me mad was a week ago, when they sent me an email that I owed a late fee of $5.00, which I paid, because in theory I WAS late, but let's review the situation. They never say how long you have to pay it. My trash billing is done quarterly, and Trashy says within 30 days. With it being summer, and me running the #1 son to and fro, and me hating my email so much that I avoid it like the plague, resulting in 500-600 emails that I have to sort through every couple of weeks, time got away from me, and I didn't get in there to see the email bill. Once I saw it, and it jogged my memory, it was already June 29. That very afternoon, I wrote out the check and drove it to town to the post office. I figured that I was still within 30 days. If it's good enough for Waste Management, it's good enough for ButtMunch, Inc. But no. They didn't process that check until July 7, which didn't really matter anyway, since apparently they wanted that check within 10 days of the email bill. Who knew? Maybe they should put a due date on those things. But that's not even the worst part.

Monday, I got the letter that really stuck in my craw. PEOPLE PISS ME OFF! This letter said that since I had been using more than 150 hours of dial-up per month over the last four months, they were going to increase my rate from $50 every three months to $39.95 PER MONTH! For crappy dial-up, people! That is highway robbery. Never mind that my plan has been for UNLIMITED dial-up for the last 10 years, and no mention was ever made that I was using too much. Let's remember that over the months of April, May, June, and July, I was in school every weekday for two of those months. And, this was the Summer of School, so The Pony and I took #1 to school every day, and stayed there for the day, to watch his open gym from 2:00 to 4:00. Then he had a basketball camp for another week so we were not at home throughout the day. So you tell me how I have been on this crappy dial-up more this summer than all my other summers. Yeah. Can't do it, can you?

My theory is that ButtMunch, Inc. was fishing for a way to raise the rates on us old-timers who have been paying the same price for 10 years. I figure that anybody who is late with a payment gets THE LETTER. I have no other explanation. I've used way over 150 hours per month during past summers. No mention was ever made of me using too much of my unlimited dial-up THEN.

Ever since Friday, the day that hateful letter was dated, my internet has been crappier. It cuts off every 30 seconds to five minutes.

I am shopping for a new internet provider.

Monday, July 27, 2009

House Of Eight Legged Freaks

I am thinking of re-naming my precious Hillbilly Mansion. Something along the lines of House of Eight Legged Freaks. This week, the #1 son and Entomologist H brought me treasures which were quite unsolicited.

The #1 son went out the basement door to dump the water from the dehumidifier. He came back all excited. "You won't believe the spiderweb that's outside under the porch! I'm getting the camera!" It doesn't take much to impress the budding photographer, so I didn't get all discombobulated. Until he came back with the pictures. That's one honkin' big spidey web!

Entomologist H was gone on a two-day trip to Springfield, which he said was for work, though he was spotted by the youth pastor at #1's church on the Bass Pro Shop parking lot, and by Shover's mom at the motel. I am not convinced until I get the reimbursement check for HH's expenses. Anyhoo...the evening HH arrived home, he didn't greet me or ask, "What's for supper?" or "What did you do for two days?" No. My first contact with him was when he came downstairs while I was trying to watch the live eviction on Big Brother. He wasn't there to chat. He waved a ZipLoc bag in my face and said, "Look at this."

Isn't that lovely? I told him in no uncertain terms to get that thing away from me. And he said, "Don't you want it?" Since I am neither trying to survive for 39 days without food, nor stocking my new arachnid museum, I declined. HH and #1 took the critter outside to experiment with different poses for the camera.

Oh, and instead of killing the creepy critter, HH set it free on a tree a mere 50 feet away from the Mansion. He said he found it down by the creek in the new little barn that he build. He should have taken it back, because I doubt that a spider can distinguish between a barn and a Mansion.

I don't want to think of that thing invading my Mansion.

(I know that technically, HH should be an arachnologist, not an entomologist. It just doesn't have the same ring to it).

Sunday, July 26, 2009

If You Give A Pig A Placebo

Have you signed up yet as a volunteer guinea pig for those swine flu vaccine trials? What's that? Pigs aren't flying yet? I should have known. I remember how you people ridicule me every year for getting a regular flu shot. Don't pretend that you don't. I have a mind like an elephant. At least that's what HH said he meant, that time he said to me, "You're like an elephant."

Yes, I get a regular flu shot every year. That's because one time I had the actual flu, and I was sick as a dog. They should have called that strain the Dog Flu. I missed a plethora of work, returned too soon, and was trying to teach without a voice. Oh, and I had to sit down every 5 minutes because I was OH SO WEAK. Not to mention that on those days I stayed home, I had no voice, and every time I answered the phone, people hung up on me. So I am a slave to the flu shot. Don't try to tell me that, "One time, my sister's husband's cousin got a flu shot, and the next day, she came down with the flu." Yeah. That could happen, because it takes one to two weeks for the vaccine to take effect. could be exposed to that flu virus within that time and still get the flu. Normal, everyday flu takes from one to five days after exposure to show symptoms. "Oh," you say, "So my sister's husband's cousin could have gotten the flu from the vaccine!" No. Not from the vaccine, which is a dead virus. Perhaps from the flu mist, which is a live, weakened virus. That's why they don't give the mist to babies and old people who are more likely to die of the normal flu.

BUT...swine flu is a bit different. I refuse to type that awkward H1N1 every time. People don't talk that way. So swine it is. Swine flu affects young people more than babies and old people. And it is seven days from exposure to symptoms. So somebody could be walking around for a week, spreading their swiney virus without even knowing they are sick. WASH YOUR HANDS, PEOPLE. I am not looking forward to being trapped in a classroom with 30 living, breathing, germ factories six times a day, five days a week. It makes me want to wear a Michael Jackson mask. At the very least, I am rearranging my room so that those little breathers are not facing me all day long. And everything is going off of my desk. No pens, no pencils, no erasers, no tissues, no papers. They can turn in assignments to the baskets on the back table. Maybe I'll even wear gloves to handle them. Do you think I could requisition one of those HAZMAT suits like in the movie Silkwood?

Just because I am paranoid about catching the swine flu does not mean that I am lining up to take the swine flu shot. Nope. It sounds like a rush job to me. Let other people be the guinea pigs. If they don't kick off after a couple of months, then I might take it. I'm not so much worried about the vaccine as what adjuvants that might be included in the vaccine. You know, to stretch that vaccine so more people can be forced to take it. I sure hope they don't require all school children to get that shot. Because if that happens, I guarantee you that over half of our kids will just stay home from school. "Oh, too bad. I can't come to school because I won't take the flu shot. See you next summer."

Here's the deal. Those volunteer guinea pig people are going to need two shots, given 21 days apart. From all I've read, the vaccine won't be ready until mid-August. So we're already after Labor Day when these guinea pig people get their second dose. Then they wait one to two weeks to see if it is effective. This means it will be near the end of September before they know the results of 1000 guinea pig people. And the wave of swine flu cases is expected to be in October. That doesn't even leave time to vaccinate people and let the vaccine take effect. that why the biggest wave of swine flu cases is predicted for October?

Besides, HOW ARE THEY GOING TO KNOW IF THE VACCINE IS EFFECTIVE? Are they going to expose the guinea pig people to the swine flu? Who would sign up, knowing that they are going to be stabbed twice with a needle, may have a reaction to the vaccine, and are going to get an unhealthy dose of swine flu on purpose? And who would volunteer their children as guinea pig kids? That is just wrong. Kids don't have a say in it. It's one thing to give them proven vaccines to keep them healthy. It's a whole other kettle of swine to turn them into human petrie dishes. This gig better pay a bundle, so all those unemployed volunteers without health insurance can afford to buy tissues and Tamiflu, just in case that vaccine doesn't work. Oh, and what about a control in this experiment? Are there another 1000 guinea pig people who won't get the swine flu vaccine, but perhaps a placebo, who will be exposed to the swine flu also? I want to know more about this experimental design.

And I don't want no stinkin' swine flu shot!

Friday, July 24, 2009


I can't wait to hear the police tapes of the Crowley/Gates affair. Something so important that the president addressed it in his weekly TV show to blame the Republicans for stalling his health plan (when everyone knows the Dems could pass it without a single Republican vote) must be earth-shattering. Or at least United States-shattering. Why else would a president stick his nose into a peace disturbance arrest?

Since I wasn't there, and haven't heard that police tape yet, I will not pass judgment. Yet. But I will tell you two things I know about police.

When HH called the cops on The Shooter who threatened to shoot him, two sheriff's deputies arrived at our Mansion door. That's the way we do it here. We are outside the city limits, so we get whichever county cops are in the vicinity. It used to be like that at school, too, until Newmentia was incorporated.

A deputy knocked on the door, and HH answered it. He invited the deputy in, but the deputy said, "Please step outside and we'll discuss your complaint." See there? That seems to be law enforcement policy, to ask the person to step outside. There were two deputies and one HH, but they still wanted him to step outside. So he did. Without arguing. They took HH's statement, went to talk to The Shooter, then came back to talk to HH. And again, they asked him to step outside. And he did. HH was the one who called the cops, and they still wanted him out of the house to talk to him.

My next story is from school. Many years ago, a girl did something in a classroom, something inconsequential like swearing, though I don't remember the specifics, and the teacher told her to go to the office. It's in the handbook. No swearing. The penalty is in-school suspension. Potty Mouth decided that she would not go. "No. I'm not going to the office." I suppose she thought that would get her out of ISS. Not so fast. We're smarter than that. The teacher pushed the intercom button and asked the secretary to send the principal down to her room. When he arrived and told Potty Mouth to come with him, she refused. "No. I'm sitting right here." The principal explained that she was making her situation worse, turning a minor infraction into insubordination, though he probably used smaller words. Potty Mouth said she didn't care. Principal said he would call her mother. "Go ahead and call my mother. I'm sitting right here." Mom came, and told the girl to get her a$$ out of that chair. "No. I'm sitting right here." After much arguing, Principal and Mom agreed that if Potty didn't get up and go with them, they would call the police to remove her. "Go ahead and call the police. I'm sitting right here."

An officer arrived and told Potty that she would have to come with him. She was now trespassing, and her mom said that she couldn't control Potty. Potty said that she was going to sit right there. Officer said that he would have to forcibly remove her. Again, Potty sat right there. The officer pulled her up by her arm. The desk kind of clung to her until it dropped off in her struggle. Principal and Officer each took an arm, and walked Potty out into the hallway. By walked, I mean dragged a surly, writhing Potty into the hall. Officer told her that she needed to settle down, or he would have to cuff her. Potty spouted quite a bit of inappropriate language from her Mouth. Mom said to take her away, maybe she would learn a lesson. Because she continued to struggle, Officer handcuffed Potty's wrists behind her back. He escorted her through the double doors onto the sidewalk at that end of the building. Principal and Mom and Teacher followed. Potty put up quite a struggle. Officer told her to settle down. Potty struggled more, declaring that she would NOT settle down. Next thing you know, Officer cut Potty's legs right out from under her and took her down on the sidewalk. He knelt on her with his knee between her shoulders, and said, "Now will you settle down?" Potty did. She squeezed out a few tears. She was loaded into the back seat of Officer's car, and presumably driven to juvie. I heard the story second-hand from Teacher. "The best part was when he slammed her face to the sidewalk." Now I think that's probably a bit dramatic, because by all accounts, Potty had no marks on her precious face, so it must have been a controlled takedown by Officer. But the point is, the police only give somebody a couple of chances to comply, and then they do what they are trained to do.

Which is neither here nor there, because I don't know what happened during Professorgate with Professor Gates and Officer Crowley, but it gave me a topic to expound on tonight.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Lessons Are For Learning

Did you hear about the three kids who were handcuffed by the police for stealing bicycle parts? No. This is not a joke. It happened in Baltimore this week. Boys age 7, 8, and 11 jumped a fence and took the parts. The owner saw them, and called police. Police went to one boy's home, and he admitted to taking the stuff, and gave them the name of the other boys. Police handcuffed the first kid, then went to the other boys' homes and handcuffed them, and loaded them all in a paddy wagon and took them to a juvenile facility. After two hours, the boys were released to their parents, no charges filed. They will have to attend a diversionary program.

Here's where I spout off. Two of the mothers, with their kids, were on a morning news program. The moms were complaining about the handcuffing. The host asked one kid if he stole anything. The kid said, "No." He asked again. The kid said, "No." Then the host said, "I was told that you admitted to the police that you took the parts. Did you take them?" And the kid said, "Yes." Later on, after talking to the moms, the host asked both boys, "Will you ever steal anything again?" The Denier said, "No." He seemed sincere. The other boy did not answer. The host asked again. Again, the boy said nothing, but gazed at the floor. After a bit more prompting, Gazer spat out, "No," in a sullen manner.

The host asked the moms if they planned to seek any legal action. Gazer's mom said that was a possibility. Denier's mom jumped in to say that her son had been abused by the police, and that wasn't right.

PAULA DEEN IN MY FRONT YARD EATING A LOBSTER TAIL ! ! ! Get over it, lady! Your son got caught stealing! Getting hauled away in handcuffs is not abuse! Abuse is dragging your son on a national morning news show like some trick pony, a pony who knows how to jump a fence and steal bike parts. How embarrassing for the lad. Maybe he would have learned a lesson from the handcuffing and the hauling off to juvie, IF you hadn't undermined the police life lesson by calling the police abusers, then putting your kid on TV like some freakin' celebrity! Now the neighborhood kids will either see him as a hero, or as some chump who got caught and put on TV. So the lesson he learned is either that stealing leads to fame, or just don't get caught next time. Way to go, lady.

I'm thinkin' one of them got wind of this $40 million lawsuit from a kid 'arrest' a couple years ago. In Baltimore. And it looks like this wasn't the very first incident of neighborhood shenanigans from these young hooligans.

FYI, the picture of the kid in the first link is of the attitudinal Gazer of morning news show fame.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pity The Poor Pony

Some days, it sucks to be The Pony.

He had to wake up early to ride along to drop off #1 at his basketball camp. This trip included stops to get gas, and pick up packages and stamps at the post office.

He couldn't find one of the black pants roosters, which has apparently flown the coop and hasn't been seen since yesterday.

He found two eggs this morning, but dropped them on his second trip to check on the fowl. That's because he was swinging his little Easter basket, which was still full of the first two eggs.

He caught the bloodthirsty shepherd, Ann, laying in the front yard with a half-grown rabbit between her paws. "It is still breathing, Mom. I think it can't get away because she broke its legs." I told him that she probably bit its back and paralyzed it, and that we can't help it, because it will just die anyway. "Yeah. There is a spot on its back with no fur. That must be where she bit it."

He clogged the toilet right before we left to pick up #1.

He only took in his Nintendo DS instead of a book, and his battery went dead. I said he could go to the car and look for a book, but to be careful not to trip (he insists on wearing those Nike flip-flop thingies, and trips every third step). The Pony assured me that he would not trip.

He tripped up the concrete steps of the college fieldhouse, and cut a small hunk out of his wrist with the car keys. And the players were taking a break and saw him.

He got drenched in a downpour on his way to and from the car to get his book. His clothes were soaked, and his glasses.

I am keeping him away from sharp objects this evening.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Skating On Thin Slate

Today we had an adventure. The #1 son was dropped off at his basketball day camp, The Pony and I made our daily pilgrimage to The Devil's Playground, then we picked up my mom for a lunch at Captain D's. The Pony loves the breadsticks. Sometimes, he'll even eat a piece of fish. But that's not the adventure.

The adventure was trying to walk from the front door of Captain D's to the counter. The floor of slate tiles, or perhaps ceramic tiles, was a slimy slope to skate. It seemed like it was a slope, anyway. All three of us had problems with our locomotion. I, in my New Balance, The Pony in his Nike slides, and my mom in her some kind of white leather court shoes. For a minute, I thought we were trying to survive a Japanese game show.

I don't know what the major malfunction of this flooring was, but I could hardly stand up. My feet slid in opposite directions. I felt like the littlest Duggar trying to rollerblade last week. I finally grabbed the counter to order two Fish & Fries, plus a kid's Fish & Fries, and some breadsticks. Now don't go assuming that kid's meal was for The Pony. You know what happens when you ASSume. Au contraire, my mom likes to put the fish on a breadstick and make a sandwich. She just wants a little fish, but the fish on the kid's meal always ends up bigger than the Fish & Fries fish. Oh, and I substituted a baked potato for the fries, so technically, I had a Fish & Tater meal.

But getting back to our not so excellent adventure...with all our whining about the slippery floor, a worker came out and said something about mopping off that floor, and another one said no. We made our way to the drink machine, holding on to the counter, then slowly hiked to the opposite corner to our regular table. That was an Olympian feat, getting to the table while carrying a soda and two ketchup thingies, with no counter for a crutch. I wished I had some crampons to assist my slimy soles. My mom selflessly volunteered to go pick up the order, which had been announced when we were in No Man's Land, halfway across the dining room. There's no turning back when you're on a mission.

Just then, a worker appeared with our tray, in the midst of more whining about not being able to remain upright without assistance. She declared that there was nothing they could do about the floor, really, except put up the signs that say "Wet Floor." According to this geological wizard, the floor gets this way in humid weather, due to the underlying surface and the properties of the tile. Whoop ti doo! Who woulda thunk that a Nobel Prize winner for mineralology would be working at Captain D's? Not me.

Funny that I have never heard of other restaurants having this issue. Or homes. Surely, the flooring contractor or the tile supplier would have a solution other than "Wet Floor" for such a problem. Sweet Gummi Mary, did they build that restaurant over a landfill, with decomposition gases percolating up through the soil? No. That would have the opposite effect. The underlying ground must be cooler that the surface, so the moisture condenses on the tile. Just like on a cold glass of soda.

I can safely say Captain D's is not built on a glacier. Maybe the ground is cooler than the restaurant. But people's basements don't get condensation on the floor during humid weather. If this is due to condensation, how about investing in a dehumidifier, Captain? And besides, the air conditioning should keep the tile close to the ground temperature. Unless... wait a minute... you don't think... maybe a buildup of GREASE could cause that greasiness, do you? Because I know people who have worked in restaurants, and they say you don't notice it while you're working, but when you come home, your clothes and your hair stink like the restaurant, and there's a thin film of grease coating your entire body. That's what Faye from the dorm told me, and she worked in an upscale steak restaurant. Well, as upscale as you can get in Springfield, Missouri, but it wasn't a chain, and she made really good tips, and she was not exactly what anybody would call 'attractive.' And not just because she was greasy.

I'm not buyin' that humidity excuse. Throw down some sawdust, for cryin' out loud. Have you ever seen the clientele of Captain D's? They're a bunch of freakin' OLD PEOPLE, by cracky. Well, with the exception of me and my family. But the point is, you don't want a bunch of geezers going down on that hip-crackin' floor. That might be bad for business.

Next time it's humid, I guess I'll use the drive-thru.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Starting The Countdown

Three weeks until school starts. I suppose the good thing about that is I might have something interesting to complain about again. There go my days of sleeping in until 7:00. The Pony will have to wear clothes instead of pajamas. The #1 son will have to go to bed before 1:00 a.m. and get up before 11:00. HH will have absolutely no adjustments, other than glomming onto my schedule and sneaking a day off whenever the boys and I are off. We hate that.

The local paper ran an article about a city dog pound that is overcrowded. They have a beagle, a dalmation, a poodle, a couple of labs, and a shepherd puppy that need homes. I would like to have that shepherd puppy, but HH says we can't have any more dogs until Grizzly dies. He is 11 now. That's 77 in dog years, you know. Never mind that HH can cart home chickens willy-nilly as doggy snacks. No pup for me.

The people who own the land next to our LandStealer 10 acres on the other side of the barn seem to be building a house. At least they are clearing a road. It won't affect us much, since we let that 10 acres grow up with cedars, with just a path around it for 4-wheeling. HH is all aflutter because he says, "They already have a cabin with electricity and sewer, and now it looks like they're building a house, and they only have 10 acres!" Umm...HH must not understand the concept of 'lots' that people buy for house-building.

The #1 son starts a local basketball camp tomorrow. Good riddance. He is fast becoming a pest in these dog days of vacation. I want to sign him up for The Strictest Parents in the World, but I'm afraid they wouldn't be as strict as HH and me.

Three weeks.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Random Thought Thursday, Conspiracy Theory Edition

Darn the bad luck! NASA accidentally erased the original video of the first moon landing! Can you believe it? An organization with a budget of $17.3 billion in 2008 has been recycling their videotapes. Who would have thought that the moon landing tapes would have been shoved onto a dusty shelf with all the other tapes? Not me.

I am one conspiracy theorist who has two cents to contribute on this subject. How can an organization that saves debris from failed missions, and constructs elaborate models of early attempts to conquer the wild blue yonder, NOT put these original moon landing videotapes in a secure place? This reeks of fishiness. But don't worry, they have contracted a Hollywood company to restore the bits and pieces of original moon landing recordings that have surfaced elsewhere. I bet they have! Nothing like getting a present-day movie-maker to 'restore' our record of the moon landings made by an old-timey movie-maker when we first 'walked on the moon.'

If NASA was so great at getting men to the moon and back, why haven't we ever been back? Answer me that. Is it because... oh, I don't know... maybe... people today can spot a fake? Sweet Gummi Mary! How many days has it taken to get perfect conditions to launch the space shuttle, and then all those tiles blow off of it and possibly cause damage? The moon, indeed!

Don't worry. I still teach my students that we landed on the moon. Though I do show them my tape of the moon landing conspiracy (funny how little ol' me didn't tape over it), and the MythBusters debunking of the conspiracy. Then they are free to form their own opinions about how things can be faked. It's called critical thinking skills, people. The scientific process.


Two patients at a Northeast Florida State Hospital came down with the swine flu over the weekend. Don't go worrying about the patients. They got Tamiflu. They were also quarantined, and only people going in and out of that ward were assigned to that ward. Whatever the heck that means. Wouldn't that account for any staff and visitor and patient? Anybody going in and out, indeed! No public alerts were issued, because the patients were confined, and there was no sign that the illness had spread to the community. An alert might have meant that people would get scared. Yeah. OF CATCHING THE SWINE FLU!

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Probably not, because some of you just don't appreciate a good conspiracy theory. How did patients in a state hospital catch the swine flu? Did they just return from Spring Break in Mexico during March? I don't think so. Have they been gallivanting the globe on assorted airlines? I don't think so. Do they flit freely about the community on day passes? I don't think so. Were they the stars of the Northeast Florida State Hospital Pig-Wrestling Team? I don't think so. Maybe I am just an ignorant hillbilly, but the state hospital in my neck of the woods is filled with people who are in some way mentally impaired. I'm not saying it's a nuthouse or a home, but let's face it, you can be sent there if you are acting irrationally, or might be danger to yourself or others. My grandma worked the night shift there for many years. She had a fondness for her regulars. They were long-time residents. They didn't go anywhere. So HOW did that sneaky H1N1 get past security?

Notice that the article says there was only one other case of swine flu in the county, and that person was hospitalized in Jacksonville (35 miles away) at the time this incident occurred. So if that person had visited the two Swiners, would that not have been mentioned? You know, to keep people from being scared? Then they would know that the swine flu was not just rooting around in their county, but that a person had carried it in from a trip and had passed it on. But no. And the staff didn't get swined. But they sure did pop a quarantine up in this nutty-bunker. Gosh. Those hospital administrators are so smart! I wonder what would have happened if, when news of this new bug surfaced in Mexico in March, we had closed our borders to travelers with symptoms, and quarantined outbreaks? Who knows, maybe we would not have had ONE MILLION cases of swine flu in the U.S. so far. But that's just crazy talk. Don't pay any attention to me.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Laboring Children

Tonight is The Pony's best TV night. He loves that Wipe-Out show where people bounce off giant red balls into the water. After that is I Survived a Japanese Game Show. The Pony and HH love to watch them.

The #1 son and I opt for Nick's lineup, with a kid Ghosthunter show and a kid Survivor show and a kind of kid Cash Cab only it's on a roller coaster and not a cab, and a kid Junkyard Wars. Who in their right mind would let their kids go on these shows? Let's break them down.


The Othersiders. OK. I let my kid go hunt ghosts in Basementia last Halloween. He and his school newspaper staff had a sponsoring teacher with them. That was not on TV. It was just desperately seeking everyday, local Missouri ghosts, for stories for the paper. See? It was educational. It stimulated their critical thinking skills. Nothing to worry about. It's not like a show that needs to make a profit, and the more the kids are scared, the more viewers the show will have.

Survive This. No way would I let my kid on this show. It's like a group Survivorman. They send eight kids out in the wilderness to live off the land. They started at a turned-over bus and got a few minutes to salvage what they thought they could use. Then they had to build a shelter. Each day, the host comes in to ask if anybody wants to quit. It gets harder. They have to move camp. They have to forage for food once their bus supply runs out. They have to keep the fire going. They have to take a nighttime hike.

Here's the deal. The first day, a city slicker chick tried to open a pocket knife with her teeth. I closed on her lip. So she sat an hour or so with a big honkin' heavy pocket knife dangling from her lower lip, waiting on a paramedic to open the knife and release her. Idiot. I try to keep my boy's idiocy a secret. I don't want it on national TV. Then they had to find food. Some caught grasshoppers. Some caught frogs. The two smartest ones were sent to find edible plants. Good luck with that. Who wants to try one of these pretty stems? Not me. The smart boy caught a pheasant or some fowl by chasing him and landing on him in the brush. While cleaning frog's legs, he cut himself on the inside of the knee. You know, that fleshy area beside the kneecap. Blood poured out through his pants. "I'm OK." He danced away from the kids trying to help him. The Boy Scoutish boy told him to sit down so it would clot. Smarty kept moving around. He was probably in shock. No mention was made of his injury on the next episode. I wanted to see if he got stitches or a tetanus shot. Oh, and on the night hike, the emo girl sprained her ankle.

I'm not sure all those kids will survive.

BrainRush. They put a kid in the front seat of a roller coaster with the host of the show. He asks them five or ten questions while they are flying at a death-defying speed and spinning upside down and sometimes puking. The one to get the most questions right is the winner. I don't remember what they win. Meh. I don't care for this show. I don't like roller coasters. But it is like kiddie crack for the #1 son.

Destroy Build Destroy. Again, meh. I liked it fine when it was Junkyard Wars with adults. But all these kids do is: 1) Choose how to break the other team's junk, like explosives or dropping it or crushing it, and 2) Tell the adult builders the plan to build it, and 3) The winner gets to blow up the loser's junk. It's boring. But then, I'm not a 14-year-old boy who likes to watch things go boom.


I cordially invite those Jon and Kate haters to watch these shows. Then let's decide who is really abusing kids and needs a hotline call to the Division of Family Services.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Daddy Doesn't Live Here Any More

Jon Gosselin is a selfish piece of crap.

Why doesn't he just be honest with his eight kids and sit them down and explain: "Daddy loves himself more than he loves you. He doesn't want to be here with you and take care of you every day like a good daddy. Daddy wants to have his own life where he can screw girls ten years younger than himself and live in his own apartment where your sticky hands and squealing voices don't annoy him. Daddy does not care about being here for you when you need him. Daddy will come on the weekends as long as Mommy is out of the house. Mommy can see through Daddy's bullcrap, and calls him on his nonsense, and Daddy can't deal with that. Daddy will bring you a NEW mommy. NewMommy will play with you when Daddy doesn't want to, and help Daddy and the servants take care of you, because it is just too much for Daddy. Daddy needs to relive his college days of irresponsible drinking and screwing. Daddy is a party dude, and you are in the way."

"Young girls love Daddy, because he is cool. It has nothing to do with Daddy being a celebrity with freebies and a ton of money stashed away because of our TV show. Daddy can't decide right now on which NewMommy to bring you. Maybe it will be that 23 year old school teacher slut who lives at home with her parents and that brother who went on TV describing the screwing sounds we make in her bedroom. Or maybe it will be that 22 year old pothead daughter of Mommy's plastic surgeon that I took to the French Riviera. The daughter, not the surgeon. I'm sure the surgeon could take himself to the French Riviera. One thing is for certain, though. Daddy is not taking all of you kids to the French Riviera. That would be a freakin' nightmare! Daddy can't be bothered counting to eight at the end of the day to see if any of you got lost. So forget about any trips like we used to take with Mommy. For sure we're not going to visit those Duggars down in Arkansas. Jesus! What in the world is that man Jim Bob thinking? He has a baby every time he looks at his wife. Daddy can't believe Jim Bob hasn't managed to escape yet. But getting back to the trip thing... Daddy's new red sports car only has two seats, which is just room for Daddy and NewMommy, whoever she is that week."

"The first NewMommy might just be the Pothead. It's fate. If Mommy didn't have the free plastic surgery because of our TV show, Daddy would never have met Pothead. God sure works in mysterious ways. Mommy is a shrew, and henpecked Daddy for too many years. It's not Daddy's fault that he's moving out. It's Mommy's fault. Just read all the comments on the internet. Mommy is the OCD devil. She had no right to demand that Daddy take good care of his kids. Especially in front of the TV cameras where everyone could see what a wastewad Daddy is. Now Mommy is reaping what she sowed. Good riddance to bad trash."

"And speaking of bad trash, Daddy has to leave now to pick up one of the NewMommies. See you all next weekend."


Seriously. People rag on Kate Gosselin, but Jon is the one who wants these pieces of crap around his kids. C'mon. Don't pretend you won't watch. Never waste a good train wreck.

Maybe Jon is totally innocent. Maybe just needs a discreet pot dealer instead of these two losers.

Nawww! He's a selfish, lowlife, cheater!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Paintball Party Postponed

The #1 son was planning to have a paintball shindig this Friday, but he has moved it a week ahead because of his cronies' schedules. I think it's too hot for paintball, but kids will be sweaty little pain inflictors. I told him I don't care what day he has it, as long as they stay out of the Mansion. It's just too much for me to suffer 4 to 6 strapping yapping lads traipsing in and out at will. #1 can't just have a simple paintball battle. He has to have an overnight gabfest. Since he reached the age of 12, that little party has been relegated to the BARn. Last time, I made HH put away all of his alcohol. Not that there is a lot of alcohol in the BARn. Mostly, it is soda and some snacks that HH thinks he is hiding, a couple of beers, and maybe a bottle of apfelkorn or some such elixir that HH has picked up on his travels, before you couldn't carry alcohol on a plane.

I told #1, "I guess your dad will give you a pee pot again and you won't come over here for the bathroom." That was totally HH's doing. I was all for them going outside to take a whiz. In fact, #1 declared that he DID go outside, that only a couple of guys used the pee pot. Anyhoo, that is neither here nor there. I asked him if they ever swept out the loft, which is where they sleep, which is a big room HH made into a bar, with a TV mounted up by the ceiling, and a red-and-white checkerboard tile floor, and girly beer trays displayed on the wall, with bar stools and a bar and a mini-fridge. #1 said, "No. We don't sweep it out. I tell the guys to leave their shoes by the door. It's not that dirty. And anyway, I don't sleep on the floor. I take that old waterbed with that air mattress in it. You know, the one with the built in cabinets under it where we found the sleeping bags that the mice had shredded."

EWW! I said that I couldn't imagine sleeping on top of a thousand baby mice. They have to be in there. If they saw evidence of one, there must be millions by now. #1 said I was overreacting. "Mom. We burned the sleeping bags. There's nothing in there now. It's fine. And besides, that's not the worst thing. You know that back room that dad was going to use for a kitchen and bathroom? The one with the toilet and stove and microwave sitting there? Well, we use the microwave. But when we open the door to go in there, you know that big hole cut in the back of the barn, where dad was going to put a window but just screwed a screen over the opening? It's always covered with wasps trying to get in, and when you look out under the eaves, you can see giant wasp nests! It's kind of creepy, really."

Yes, parents. Send your adolescents to my house. They will be fine. I'm sure none of them have even thought about shooting down one of those nests with a paintball.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Scatterbrain Saturday 7-11-09

Note to CiCi's Pizza: If my feet stick to the floor like a giant octopus coated with Polident, and I have to pick the brown lettuce out of the salad, and the dude wiping and mopping a soda spill only wipes the TOP of the table, not the edge where quivering liquid stalactites hang waiting for a victim... it might be time for the health department to pay a visit. Just sayin'.


August 10 is too early to start school. Summer still has six weeks to simmer. The thermostats are currently locked at 75. I will die. Even when they were locked at 72, I almost expired. Because when 28 kids pile into that room, they raise the temperature at least two degrees, and the thermostat thingy doesn't kick on the air conditioner for another 10 minutes. So if a miracle or some skullduggery doesn't occur, my room will be 77 degrees for half of every class period. Granted, it's better than the school without air conditioning, where my room had windows facing the blacktop gym roof, and we regularly attempted to learn 7th and 8th grade science with 35 kids per class in 105 degrees each August and September. But still, I am old now, and demand my creature comforts.


If you give HH a day off, he demands that The Pony leave the house and get some fresh air. This is done by forcing The Pony to ride the 4-wheeler, in which he has no interest, and hasn't ever tried to ride alone. During this venture, HH will discover that the little 4-wheeler needs a battery. That means he will drive back to town for the second time this morning and pay The Devil a visit. Being an opportunist, HM will request that HH bring her back a Sonic Medium Strawberry Slush, because turn about is fair play, and only yesterday HH sent HM on a mission to find his balls. Knowing HH, HM will emphasize three times, in two different phone conversations, that she wants a Sonic Medium Strawberry Slush, the third call being initiated by HH to ask, "Was it a cherry or strawberry slush?" When HH gets home, he is strangely quiet, and by quiet, that means his heavy footfalls sound throughout the house, but he does not holler for a boy to deliver the eagerly-awaited slush. Sending The Pony to inquire brings the slush right to the desk of HM. The LARGE Sonic Strawberry Slush. In some things, large is better than medium. Not in a Sonic Strawberry Slush. There is just more of the icy chemical stuff, not more strawberries or syrup, and the cup is unwieldy. Under interrogation, HH admits that while he ORDERED a medium, the girl brought out a large, saying that because it took so long, she upgraded the order. This, HH found out when he opened his truck door to get it, because the window doesn't work, which reminded him that he needs to get that window fixed. Watch for further adventures of HH in the 'If You Give A Mouse A Cookie' series.


Our highway has been undergoing some work to put posts and cables along the median to prevent crossover accidents. That's a lot of money to spend because us hillbillies are too stupid to drive on our own side of a divided highway. Or else we can't stay sober until we are off the divided highway. I doubt that we're the only state doing that, though. We have to have laws to vaccinate kids against diseases, because even though they can go to the county health center and get the vaccinations for all their 18 kids for free, people are too stupid to keep their kids from dying of measles and whooping cough. Thank goodness we don't live in New York, where people just might be taxed on sugary sodas and drinks, because they are too stupid to deny their kids soda and let them weigh 800 lbs. Now Florida has too many pythons in the Everglades, so there's gonna be some new law so people don't wander willy-nilly through the Everglades and get squeezed to death faster than a sleeping toddler in a house with a nine-foot albino reticulated python.


Friday, July 10, 2009

The Devil Has One Ball

You can tell it is near the end of my summer vacation, what with the only subject I have to discuss being The Devil's Playground. I guess that's because I go there every day. Not by design. It's just that something always comes up that I need, and The Devil has it all. I bet the Hillbilly family gives more money to The Devil than the Duggars do.

Baseball Aficionado H has free tickets to some FanFare thingy in St. Louis. I know that's not the name of it, but it escapes me, and I don't care enough to research it. Google is your friend. Anyhoo, the tickets are for Sunday. HH wanted me to traipse through The Devil's Playground and pick up 5 baseballs. People! That is the only corner of the Playground that I do not frequent. I hate hiking across that vast waistboobsweatland to get the stuff that is actually necessary for life. Like toilet paper and Pepcid.

The Pony and I ventured to the far corner of The Devil's lair, where we found ZERO baseballs. Oh, there were softballs galore, in white or greeny-yellow, in boxes and cellophane wrappers. But no baseballs. Then The Pony spied ONE baseball on the back of the shelf, inside a little kid baseball glove. He dug it out. Of course it had no wrapper and no box. I sent The Pony to ask a Devil's handmaiden if there were more. Oh, no. Of course there were no more. "Everything we have is on the shelf." Pity that they waste that 10-acre storeroom in the back. It must cost a lot to not-air-condition that empty, unneeded vacuum. I took the bare baseball, and a wrapped softball, too. My momma didn't raise no fool. At least not the kind of fool that stands in a check-out line waiting on a price check.

We finished our shopping in short order, which in this case means 30 minutes. Everything was in the top part of the cart, the part where you sit your toddler and let his chubby legs kick you all the way through the Playground. The Pony urged me to go through the 20 items-or-less checkout, even though I thought I had more. I piled that crap on the conveyorless counter. A dude was telling a chick that he would be right back. Did she think she would be all right? So I took that moment to say, "Wait a minute. I want this baseball, but there were none with a price, so I brought up this softball marked $3.50 in case that would give you some idea." Because we all know that sometimes, the flustered clerk will ask, "There's no price. Do you remember how much it was?" Dude said he would take both balls and ask his manager. Ha ha. During that time, the Check-out Chick said she knew how to do that, it's just that she messed up some WIC stuff and they made her come to the short lane and have someone standing over her to retrain her. Dude came back and said to scan the softball but sell me the baseball. See. I knew it. And since when do softballs cost $3.50? Those little sweatshop kids must be rolling in the dough over in Malaysia. Or else that Rawlings factory in Licking is cranking out balls now.

On the way to the library to pick up the #1 son after a stop at Sonic for a sweet, sweet strawberry slush to stimulate the economy, I heard on the radio that Cardinal great Lou Brock would be signing stuff at Macy's. Which is neither here nor there, but I always liked Lou Brock, that backflipping little fireball who stole bases like nobody's business. And seemed like a stand-up guy every time he was in the news for something. But the radio said that Lou would only sign items bought at Macy's, which got me thinking about HH's shindig, and that probably they would not sign outside items either. I called #1 at the library, and he looked it up, and could only find a FAQ that said you were not allowed to bring in bats and get them signed. Well, duh! Bats are kind of like a weapon, and who wants a bazillion fans swinging weapons around a baseball fanfare? Not me, that's for sure. There just might be some Cubs fans. And we don't mix, you know, the Cardinals and the Cubbies. But I'm betting that they won't let people bring in their own balls, either. Ha ha. And the authorized balls will cost more than $3.50, I'm betting.

That HH. Every time he gets something free, he costs me money. But I did manage to cheat The Devil. I had 28 items. Not counting that softball.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Penny Saved Is A Penny Taxed

This week I have been tinkering with the vast investments of the Hillbilly family, namely changing some CDs from 12-month to 13-month certificates. That means that the interest shot from 1.13% to 2.02%. I know. It's mindboggling, isn't it? We are going to get OH SO RICH off that interest.

At least they are making more than when we had the money in a sock buried in the back yard. I had to move that for safety, back when Mining Foreman H was going to mine copper out of the back yard because he found out the well water had traces of copper in it. It's been a couple of year now, but the strip mine is still in the planning stages. Now we are a chicken farm.

I am sure this extra interest will mess with my tax burden next year. You know, my taxes that are not going to be raised. Funny how your money is taxed before you take home your paycheck, and it is taxed again if you sock it away, and it will be taxed again when I kick the bucket and try to leave it to my children. It's kind of like the guy who notices that his feet are sticking out the end of the blanket, so he cuts off material from the top of the blanket and sews it to the bottom in an effort to cover his feet. After several tries, he notices that his blanket is even shorter than when he first got it. Go figure!

FYI... even though you can see my vast qualifications, I have no plans to serve as Savings & Loan Czar.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Is There A Doctor In The Mall?

Today was the #1 son's follow-up concussion appointment with the doctor. Excuse me. I mean nurse practitioner. Guess what? People piss me off!

To start with, the entire parking lot was full except for one tight spot that I squeezed T-Hoe into, down by another office of respiratory therapy of some sort. I despise a doctor's office in a strip mall. I told #1 that if somebody came and parked even closer than the car there right now, he might have to crawl across the console and back out of the space for me. He was game. You know those concussion youngsters. They are regular risk-takers.

Inside the waiting room, the entire bulge of the baby boom sat waiting for their appointments. I'm guessing they were appointments made six months in advance, and not enough oldsters kicked the bucket. This is the doctor (excuse me, nurse practitioner) where they post a sign that if you are more than 10 minutes late for your appointment, they cancel it and bill you anyway. Good thing we can't do that to the doctor (excuse me, nurse practitioner), because they would be in a hole deeper than the Land Lady, that real estate broker who testified at the eminent domain case on which I was fortunate enough to be picked to serve on the jury, after climbing down in a 20-foot hole, she said, to measure a highway sign that could have made her client money. But I digress. One pleasurable outing runs right into the next when you're Hillbilly Mom.

These old fogies did not come alone. They all had a spouse or lady friend in tow. Little did I know that the whole room and some who came in after us would be called back before we were. I know we were worked in outside of the six-month schedule, but I didn't expect to wait an hour. My doctor, yes. This one, no. They used to run no more than 15 minutes past appointment time. Must have been the strict enforcement of that 10-minute rule. Anyhoo... a nurse popped out of one of the side doors and called, "Charles?" An old guy and his old lady and a toddler jumped up. They had barely even sat their a$$es on two newly vacated chairs. We had been there 45 minutes already. But then the nurse looked puzzled. "Oh. Are you ready now? Come on back, we have room." Then she proceeded to call for the real dude she wanted, "Charles Lastname?" He had been there as long as us. I told #1 it was too bad his name wasn't Charles.

When we were called back, I went with my son. For a normal appointment, like his sports physical, or a cough/sore throat kind of thing, I let him go alone. He IS 14 now. But with a concussion follow-up, I wanted to ask some questions. Besides, he leaves out some information. For example, the doctor (excuse me, nurse practitioner) asked, "So how have you been feeling for the past few days?" And my boy replied, "Fine." OK. I'm rifling through my sound effects studio for that screeching brakes sound. Or maybe the stereo needle scraping across a 33 rpm vinyl platter, for those of you who still remember such antiques. What he needed to point out was a headache each day on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. That's kind of vital info concerning a concussion. So I supplied it. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

These people really pissed me off when we were first taken back to the exam room. Just inside the inner office, a nurse weighed #1. Though he looks sturdy to me, he's 152 on a 6'2" frame. Then she took us into the exam room and took his temp with the door left open. A crony called to her, "Who do you have in there?" She yelled back his name. And the crony said, "Who's the other one? The mother?" Well now. Everyone else brought an entourage. I think it is within the boundaries of sensibility for a mama to accompany her concussed 14-year-old into the exam room. It's no skin off your a$$, Crony. You're not even the one working on him. So shut your piehole.

The doctor (I mean nurse practitioner) came in after a 10-minute wait, and poked and prodded and pushed and pulled and shined a light and squeezed #1's head. She said that he should not play basketball or any sport with people until another week has passed. He can, however, run and shoot baskets on his own. And we got a refill on his Nasonex prescription.

I need to call now and make an appointment for the middle of winter, and take a chance that he's sick that day, just in case he needs to see the DOCTOR. Not nurse practitioner.

Note to DeadpanAnn: Real clever, naming your son Charlie so he can usurp appointments that rightfully belong to others of the same name! You're an evil genius!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Doctors Make Me Sick

To borrow half a phrase from my blog buddy, DeadpanAnn: Doctors are the suck! Don't you worry about me stealing something from Miss Ann's blog. We came up together through the blogosphere. What's hers is mine, and what's mine is hers. It's not plagiarism. It's like we have the same speech writer.

I called the doctor's office Monday to get the #1 son a follow-up appointment for his concussion. Just like the ER doc told us upon discharge. Just like it's written on the discharge papers. I told the phone-answerer: "I'm calling to schedule an appointment for my son. He was seen in the emergency room on Thursday, July 2, and was told to schedule a follow-up appointment with his doctor within 7 days." The P-A acted put-out. "The doctor has an opening at the end of the month. Do you want that one?" I tried to speak slowly, like that would make her listen. "No. That would be pointless. He is supposed to see the doctor within 7 days of July 2." So the P-A acted even more put-out, and said, "He can see the nurse practitioner on Wednesday, July 8, at 9:45. Do you want that?" To which I replied, "I guess we'll have to take it, if it's the best you can do."

I hate that office. I only keep my kids records there because #1 really likes the doctor. The doctor which he last saw about 18 months ago, because the last two times he's been sick and went there, he got the nurse practitioner. Wait a minute! He did see the doc one year ago, for his sports physical. So there you have it. The doctors only take routine appointments that have been scheduled months ahead of time. They allow no time each day for patients who actually fall ill or have accidents. Nope. That's what a nurse practitioner is for. I'm not slamming the nurse practitioners. I have gladly taken appointments with the ones in MY doctor's office. It's just that when the ER tells you to have your kid's head examined by his primary care physician within 7 days, you don't want to see that doctor in 24 days, and you don't want to see the nurse practitioner in 7 days. That was not part of the instructions, by cracky!

Besides, last winter when HH took him for a rapid strep test, the office tried to bill us for an extra $20. The copay is $20, but they coded the nurse practitioner as a 'specialist'. It's a racket, I tell you. Our insurance had to eat that extra $20 and cut them another check, because the office refused to resubmit the claim, and we refused to pay an extra $20.

If it's this difficult to schedule an appointment when doctors are ripping off the insurance companies willy-nilly, how hard is it going to be when the government takes over our health care system? I'm sure we won't all be allowed to drop in to the ER like my students on medicaid do now. They've got the system figured out. "If I miss too much school and need a doctor's note, I just go to the ER. If you say you have a headache, they write sinus infection. If you say you have a cough, they write bronchitis. Then you get a note for school, and you don't get kicked out."

Out of the mouths of future welfare cheats.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Crotchety Old Hag

It's that time again. Time for a Note to Self. Not for me... for all of you.

NOTE TO SELF: Do not call Hillbilly Mom and invite myself and my children to the Mansion to swim in Poolio. Just don't. It is not polite. If I wanted you to bring your children to swim in our pool, I would call and ask you. Since I didn't, that means I don't.

There was a time when I would have bitten the bullet and said, "OK. Bring them out." Then I would have been upset about it all evening and all the next day, and I would have given myself a headache holding in the resentment. Not anymore. I am old and crotchety and I am NOT going to make myself miserable just because I care what somebody thinks about me. Buy your own pool. Watch your own kids. And most of all, do not call me and say, "What are you doing tomorrow?" Because it is none of your goshdarn business, and it is extremely forward of you to think that because I don't have an appointment, or say that I'm putting the finishing touches on my cure for cancer, solution to world peace, and the car engine that actually makes its own gasoline out of used disposable diapers, you are welcome to eat up my entire afternoon, leaving me just enough time to make supper for my ungrateful menfolk.

Do not invite yourself to my Mansion. Just don't.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sunday Smorgasbord 7/5/09

Big Brother 11 starts on Thursday night. Aren't you excited? What's that I hear? (crickets)

Aren't we lucky to have Joe Biden as Vice President instead of someone who is a loose cannon?

You DO know that this reported unemployment rate of 9.5% is based on unemployment claims, don't you? It doesn't account for people who do not qualify for unemployment, or those whose claims and federal extensions have run out but they still don't have jobs, or those people who didn't file for unemployment but just started job searching on their own. Just sayin'... I used to work for the unemployment office. The active claims are just the tip of the iceberg. Just like the number of new claims filed is a bit misleading. Some union workers file on their two-week summer layoff so they can get their union money, even though they will be going back to work. You have to know what the stats represent. The unemployment rate is much higher than the reported rate, due to those not on the books.

The Pony almost got his own concussion last night when my mom closed the hatch of her Explorer on his head. Poor little Pony had a knot the size of a guinea egg, to hear him tell it in his chicken English.

Concussion Boy reported that he was headache free yesterday. Then I caught him bending over to set off fireworks, and Bomb Detonator H made him carry metal chairs from the porch to the driveway, and he stayed up until midnight. Guess who has a headache today?

Grillmaster H outdid himself with some succulent Save-A-Lot ribeyes last night. Today we are having pork steaks, which I read somewhere is a midwestern phenomenon.

My mom came up with a newfangled mosquito spray. I'm guessing one of her cronies sent it to her in an email. She arrived with a spray bottle full of mouthwash, and spritzed it all around our perimeter. She said it was not supposed to get ON us, just around us. I must have swatted 6 or 8 mosquitoes crawling on me. When the #1 son whacked one, I whispered, "How's Grandma's remedy working for you?" And he said, "Not at all." She did confess that her magical elixir was supposed to be Scope mouthwash, but she brought the generic. The Pony held his nose every time she sprayed it, and said, "Minty." She swore that it worked for my sister on a camping trip, but then again, she had real brand-name Scope, not the $1 a gallon generic. Add Ye Olde Cheap Generic Shoppe to my mom's list of favorite stores.

Bomb Detonator H had a close call when a fountain tipped over and spouted its sparky goodness right past his Scout full of fireworks. Every year he parks it 10 feet from his staging area. Every year, there is a close call. Some people are incapable of learning from their mistakes. Thank the Gummi Mary that we had rain off and on all day, and that the neighbor's field and our fence row of trees were nice and damp.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Random Thought Thursday, The Holiday Edition

I missed my regular Random Thought Thursday due to sitting in the ER all afternoon, so I hereby decree that today is the new Thursday, and that Jerry Seinfeld be my butler for a month.


Funny how people care so much about what Sarah Palin does. First, she is a blithering idiot, then all they can do is talk about her nonstop. What's the deal?

Ice Age 3 is not all it's cracked up to be. It was even a bit boring for my tastes, though full of violence for the small fry. Woolly Ray Romano also calls a creature a 'chicken-headed freak', which did not set well with The Pony, who adores chickens, and this little critter was the only one who died in the movie. I guess he died. He was tossed over a cliff and scooped up and swooped away by a pterodactyl or some such animated animal. And that T-Rex-looking villain might have died at the end, but how insensitive to make him the villain when all he was doing was hunting prey to kill and eat and survive. And do kids really need to experience mammothchildbirth in a cartoon movie?

Bland vanilla Google equates July 4 with a picnic. Wouldn't want to offend other countries and America-haters, now would we? But why show anything other than just 'Google' if that is the situation? Is this world-wide Picnic Day?

Did you ever watch the MTV show 'Scarred'? It is rerunning now on one of the MTV channels. They always air that disclaimer that they will not open any submissions, so don't bother sending them. But how did they get the footage for the show? Did they pay off some hospital emergency room for records of hideous skateboarding injuries? Did a bunch of lame idiots show up all at once at MTV headquarters with their maiming tapes? How did the marriage of mutilation and mainstream network come about? Last night, a skateboarder racked himself on a sharp handrail. In his own words, "I reached into my pants, and felt my testicle outside of my sack. My hand was full of blood. I knew I had to get to the hospital, so I drove myself. Seven stitches later, I was good to go. I guess the only way to prove it is to show you my scar." Which he did, though it was blacked out by a black circle, and you could hear the groans of the camera crew.

HH will be shooting off a buttload of fireworks tonight. He may even shoot off more than North Korea. We've had rain off and on all day, so it looks like Missile Launcher H won't set the neighbor's field on fire like he did a couple years ago, and try to stomp out a 6' diameter fire in waist-high grass with his sandals. That's after climbing through a barbed-wire fence, cutting the middle of his bald spot. It was also the same year that a small missile got away from him and landed under my mom's Explorer just before it exploded. Don't worry. She and the #1 son got a bucket of water from the well to cool the embers after the fact.

Enjoy your holiday!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Key Seeker

Forget my series on public safety. Who cares about all of you when I have a personal crisis on my hands? My school keys are missing! Yes, the keys to my workplace have been misplaced. Oh, don't think you're gonna find them and break in and run copies willy-nilly. It's not like they trust me with a master key, or a key to the building. Nope. I am one of the 10% of teachers in Newmentia who don't have a key to the building. You know, because the other 90% has to get in there after hours and on weekends because they work so much harder than me. All I am missing is the key to my room, and a key to one of my two cabinets. The other one won't lock, what with the hardware beging installed wrong since we moved into that building in 2000 or thereabouts. The keys are on a stretchy lime green keyring thingy from The Devil's Playground. I think I have had it since 2000. If we could cheaply carbon-date the dirt ground into that coiled old-style phone-cord-looking green plastic, we might know the true age of it.

I just noticed that it was gone at 3:30 today, when the #1 son picked up a package at the Post Office, and wanted to use my key to saw through the cardboard. He's as smart as a chimp at finding tools to suit his purpose. But my school keys were not in the little slot thingy made to hold glasses on the console of T-Hoe. I always keep them there. I never go to work without T-Hoe, so I can never forget my keys. Except now. They are gone.

#1 says that I left the keys in my classroom yesterday when we left open gym to take him to the hospital. I say no, that I locked my room, and I can only do that with the keys. I always check the thermostat so that I'm not bleeding taxpayer money into heating or cooling my classroom while I'm not there, and then I step into the hallway and lock my door. That's because I'm a fanatic about people getting into my stuff. #1 also says that I did not have my keys when I got into T-Hoe which I had to park out behind the gym. I know I DID have they keys then.

Upon locking my classroom, I navigated the obstacle course of the hallway full of the contents of the teacher workroom, AD office, and Nurse's office. I wound my way through the scattered cafeteria chairs, into the gym, along the shiny, shiny, newly-waxed concrete mezzanine, stopped at the top of the back stairs to the gym floor to untie the tape with the sign about fresh wax that was hung on Monday, gave #1 the keys to T-Hoe, tied the wax sign back across the handrails, then proceeded down the steps and a short hallway by the stage, and out the door by the band room. They are on a separate keyring, my personal keys. I had to take both sets of keys out of my pocket to sort them out. When I exited the building, I took my school keys from my pocket, and tossed them into their holding area in T-Hoe. From there, I called my mom to tell her I was taking #1 to the ER to have his head examined.

In one breath, #1 swears that I never had the school keys in T-Hoe, yet in the next breath, he says I must have left them in the ER when I wrote the check for his noggin test. That just goes to show you that you can't take the word of a 14-year-old with a concussion. My theory is that he moved the keys when we drove through McDonald's, when he made room to set some fries in the glasses compartment, and they are still somewhere in the dark recesses of T-Hoe's nooks and crannies. The boy swears that he never moved any keys, because they were not there.

After leaving the Post Office this afternoon, we stopped to buy a large quantity of fireworks, and dashed into Save-A-Lot for some tasty steaks to grill tomorrow. We then returned to the Mansion. I made #1 and The Pony search T-Hoe. I also made The Pony search HH's Pacifica, because we drove it to see Ice Age 3 and he stuffed my purse under the seat. Nope. No keys. #1 had a little fit because I was accusing him of losing my keys, but he never touched them, because I left them at school or in the hospital. I called the hospital, but nobody had turned in any keys. I went back to the garage, backed T-Hoe out into the light of day... and within 30 seconds, I found my school keys. They were wedged in a crack made from the little door thingy that closes over the glasses compartment. #1 had set the keys on the shiny fake wood console part behind that little compartment door, and they slid into that crack.

I went back into the house, jangling my keys. He raised his giant concussed head from the couch. "Where did you find those?" I explained that they were right where he put them. He still denies that the keys were even in T-Hoe.

That boy has too much of HH in him.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Nothing Says Bloggin' Like A Thumping Of Your Noggin

Today's public safety info concerns head injuries. If you have recently been knocked in the noggin, and for the past 24 hours have experienced extreme tiredness despite 13 hours of sleep, a constant headache that started at the back of the skull where the noggin-knockin' occurred, then spread to the top and front of the head, and recently added nausea to your laundry list of complaints... you probably need to be checked out by a medical professional.

I told you last week how the #1 son took a spill playing basketball at open gym. Another player's shoulder connected with his chin, knocking him over backwards, resulting in a gym-echoing head thump on the floor. He had a headache and tiredness, but I called the ER, and a nurse said to watch him and bring him if he got worse. After 24 hours and some sleep, his headache went away. So all was fine, and he played basketball the next day, and two days at the beginning of this week.

Yesterday at open gym, #1 was laid out flat on his back by his best friend in a shoving incident, then took a charge from his other best friend, and for the head-banging hat trick, he bumped heads with the shover in a tussle over a loose ball. After playing four games full court, #1 took a turn to sit out. That is uncharacteristic of him. He wants to be on the court all the time. Shortly after leaving the gym at 3:00, his head started to hurt. When he got home at 4:50 after a trip to the library for high-speed internet shenanigans, he was headachy and tired. He took an ibuprofen and slept for two and a half hours until I made him get up. He still had the headache when he woke up, and it spread from the back of his head to the top. He took another ibuprofen, which is something he never does. He hates to swallow pills. He did not know which blow hurt him, but was thinking it was when he took the charge from the barreling BFF2.

I checked on him all through the night, and he muttered that he was awake when I poked him. This morning he got up at 9:30, and said he was fine. Which I was to learn later was not quite the truth, but that his head was still hurting when he awoke. After feasting on 4 blueberry waffles, 3 pink cookies, and a Coke, it was off to open gym at noon. Normally I make him eat a sandwich for lunch, but since he had gotten up so late, I let it slide. #1 shot some baskets and fooled around with his cronies for about 20 minutes. The coach said to call more people so they had enough for two teams. #1 came upstairs to where I was watching, which he never does, because I am the plague and he can't be seen with me, and said, "I don't feel good. I might throw up. I really don't feel like playing. My head hurts." Again, this was unusual for him. He yearns to play basketball. He has only missed ONE open gym all summer, to go to Six Flags. I told him I was taking him to the doctor. He said he didn't want to go, but he didn't complain enough to change my mind. The doctor's office line was busy, because you know you can never get in to see the doctor when you're sick, but only for your appointment that has been made six months in advance, and if you are more than ten minutes late, they cancel it and bill you anyway, and sit in the office not taking patients but eating bon bons brought by the pharmaceutical rep.

So I did what anybody without insurance would do (even though we HAVE insurance) and carted him off to the ER. He was pleased that I took him to the good ER. "Are you taking me to the one that leaves the surgical instruments inside of people?" I assured him, "No. I am taking you to Dad's hospital. Not mine where I woke up during surgery, or Mine North, where they gave The Pony acetaminophen for his broken elbow, put it in a soft cast, and told him to see a doctor within a week."

There was only one other customer in the waiting room. We were called back within five minutes. The intake nurse even said to bring The Pony. "We don't want him sitting alone in the waiting room." Which I don't know whether is a hospital belief that unattended children will make mischief, or a statement of their clientele lounging around the waiting room. The nurse took #1's vitals and history, and escorted us back to a room with a bed and TV.

The young doc was not even foreign, had a military haircut, and explained that a concussion is like when you bump your knee and it gets a knot and turns red, but doesn't bruise. After about a week, everything is back to normal. A bruise, on the other hand, means bleeding, which is something that is serious in a brain, and the only way to know for sure which injury you have is to get a CAT scan. After the doc shined a flashlight in his eyes and asked some more questions, #1 was taken away to slide his head into the donut of the CAT scan machine thingy while The Pony and I waited in his room. #1 said he had to keep his eyes closed, but he heard a giant noise like race car engines revving, and imagined that donut part spinning wildly about his head. He also said it was a tight fit, and that they had to shove one of his ears down in the head thingy, and that he could feel roller thingies under his forearms as whatever he laid on was moved. After it was done, the radiology technician looked at him funny and said, "Did you hit one side of your head more than the other?" Which I am sure was just more history, but #1 was worried that the guy knew something he wasn't telling.

After 50 minutes, we heard a nurse calling radiology to see if they'd read the images yet, and then the doctor came back and said #1 had a concussion, and should not play any contact sports or baskeball for a week or two, and should follow up with his doctor within 7 days, and should be awakened every 2 hours for the next 24 hours and asked his name, location, and the date, and to take only acetaminophen and not ibuprofen for the pain, as ibuprofen causes bleeding, so apparently that is worse than liver damage that was the big story in yesterday's news.

#1 said his nausea was improving from laying flat and not moving, and that he was now starving since it had been six hours since he last ate. Do you have any idea how much and how often 14-year-old boys eat? I coughed up the $100 ER copay, gathered the three pages of discharge instructions, bought the non-nausea starving Pony a bag of cookies out of the vending machine, and took my boys for some fast food fast. Then I hurried home to wait for the incoming bills from the radiologist, ER doc, and hospital, which will arrive in their own good time, with names of larger entities that I do not associate with the good ER.

Now #1 and I are depressed that he can't work out for at least a week, and other players may gain on him while he's down. That boy is motivated. And hard-headed. At home, he said he didn't want an acetaminophen because the pain wasn't bad enough to take a pill. That's while he was laying on the couch. When he sat up to use his laptop for 10 minutes, he indeed went to get an acetaminophen. Right now he reports feeling fine. I'm not sure how much to believe.

I am glad I took him to get checked out. Better safe than sorry. I don't want him turning into a dead skiing actress.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

One Good Shove Deserves A Hammer

Yesterday's public safety notice advised you not to have a swine flu party. I should have included more specific directives. At the swine flu party you don't have, be sure that you don't serve a beef roast, Nestle's chocolate chip cookie dough, or Dunkin' Donuts hot chocolate. That will save you from an E. coli and salmonella cocktail. And if worrying about your health gives you a headache, take that acetaminophen now, before it is taken off the market. You can always go to Tennessee for a new liver, unless Steve Jobs needs another one.

Today's safety notice is directed at high school basketball players. When you are playing at open gym, which means scrimmaging against your own teammates with absolutely no referees and only the honor system to punish decapitation after the fact, it is not advised to shove a player who is just standing with the ball after beating you out for a rebound. That is, don't put both of your hands on his shoulders and shove him so hard that he is laid out flat on his back, just for the sake of shoving him, because you are mad that he beat you, shoving him without any attempt to get the ball, but just to intimidate him. Because Karma is a big ol' b*tch, and when you think you are going to shoot that loose ball you just scooped up, a dude from the shovee's team will run up behind you and hammer that ball out of your hands that you have just cocked above your head to shoot a sweet, sweet, unchallenged jump shot. The dude will jam that ball so hard that the follow-through of his hand might just whack you on your empty noggin, making you cry 'foul', even though your constant elbowing and holding and slapping and shoving goes unchallenged. You may think it was an accident, but the smirking that ripples across the players behind your back says otherwise.

Really. Take that advice. Because knocking someone down just to be a punk will garner you tenfold in whackings and dirty looks and loathing.